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EMOTION OF THE PILGRIMS.
alone, among the group, remained unmoved. At these early and tranquil hours, I have watched the aged and weatherbeaten pilgrim here bowed to the earth, and mothers prostrated around the place offering up prayers, directed, I doubt not, by the promptings of their hearts, and with silent tears, presenting before the altar their lovely little ones, who gazed with mute astonishment and childish sympathy at the parent, but not venturing to break the silence or interrupt the solemnity of the scene by their innocent prattle. These were absorbing moments, and different from the scenes I witnessed during the more public and crowded hours, when hurry, bustle, and confusion, and the vast concourse of people rendered the approach to this place almost impossible.
I have frequently seen, when some of the pilgrims, possessed of more devotion or curiosity than the rest, remained under the altar longer than the usual time, that they were very unceremoniously reminded of their delay by the attendant priest, especially if they did not belong to his own church. particularly struck with the number of children brought by their parents to Jerusalem—it reminded me of the days when the Hebrews brought up their little ones to present and dedicate them to the Lord in the temple.
On our return from Calvary, we entered the large circular hall of the sepulchre. This part of the building is surrounded by a gallery supported on a colonnade of eighteen pillars, and surmounted by a vast dome. To the north of this hall is the Latin church, and to the east of it is the Greek chapel. A large curtain hangs before this chapel, which is by far the most highly decorated of any of the places of worship here. The Armenian church is situated in the gallery of the building. Beneath the centre of the dome is erected an oblong pavilion of grey and yellow marble carved in panels, which, at its southern end, is surmounted by a kind of lantern or open-work cupola, decorated with wretched looking artificial flowers made of tin, and containing lamps that are lighted only on state occasions. Attached to the western extremity of this pavilion, is a small chapel belonging to the Copts. The entrance to the pavilion is raised a little above the rest of the floor, and is covered with a carpet, on which were seated numbers of beggars and decrepit
folk, demanding alms of the devout pilgrims. From the top of this pavilion, and attached the entrance of the Greek church floated blue silk banners. This building contains the Holy Sepulchre, into which all the monks and pilgrims enter barefooted, but our party were not required to take off their shoes. The pavilion is divided into two apartments; the outer one was handsomely decorated with different coloured marbles and lighted by lamps suspended from the roof. This apartment, which corresponds with the usual antechamber of Eastern tombs, especially those in Judea, has oval apertures on each side opening into the church. These are for the purpose of transmitting the light during the performance of the mummery of the “holy fire.” In the centre stands a square stone, said to be that on which the angel sat when Mary came to visit the tomb. It is a piece of gray compact limestone, similar to that found in the vicinity of the city, and is supported by a pedestal not unlike that of a baptismal font. Opposite to this a low narrow door leads into the sepulchre, which was then so crammed with pilgrims, that for some minutes we found it impossible and unsafe to attempt an entrance. Could mirthful feelings have been indulged in such a place as this, the scene, which was ludicrous in the extreme, was well calculated to call them forth. Two pilgrims, perhaps a Greek and an Armenian, endeavouring to pass through the door together, and neither being disposed to yield in the holy struggle, they became jammed, and thus remained till both were forcibly ejected by some one from within, who had been himself, in turn, rudely thrust out by the Padre in attendance. Seeing a group of Franks waiting for admittance, some of the other visitors made way, and our attentive friend, the curate, soon pulled away the rest from about the door-way, crying out, “ Inglese, Inglese! Milordos Inglese !”
The sepulchre within is a square chamber, six feet nine inches every way; open at the top beneath the small cupola before mentioned, which here presented an open-work of marble of the most chaste and elegant workmanship. On the right-hand side, an oblong slab of bluish white marble, raised two feet above the floor, is supported by another upright one of a similar form. The upper horizontal flag was cracked across the centre in the fire of 1808, and it has been actually worn down by the kisses of the many
thousands of pilgrims who have visited this place for the last fifteen centuries.* Within this coating is said to be the actual soros or trough in which the body of the Saviour was laid, and to prevent its being chipped, carried off as relics, or kissed away, this marble was erected. This
may, to some, appear strange and unnecessary; yet, it is related by a chronicler of the Crusades, that the Count Anjou, one of the first pilgrims who visited this shrine while it was in possession of the Mooslims, bit off and carried away a mouthful of the actual tomb without the infidels being aware of it! Above the tomb are suspended a number of small silver lamps of the most costly filigree work--the presents and offerings of the nobles and princes of the Christian world from a very early period. Besides these lamps, a great number of small wax tapers were placed round the walls; one of these was removed and given to each person who entered the chamber, and another was lighted in its place. Each of our party was presented with one of these tapers, and permitted to carry them away as relics of inestimable value. Flowers were occasionally scattered on the tomb, a few of which were afterwards given to those whose donations were of such an amount as gratified the wishes of the attendant priest, who sprinkled us plentifully with holy rose water on leaving the place. Our party of five just filled the space in this crypt unoccupied by the tomb. Although the top is evidently of modern construction, the sides of the door as well as the part above it are hewn out of the solid grey
lime-stone rock, which is here distinctly seen.
From the sepulchre we were conducted round the different stations or holy places, which tradition and monkish ignorance have crowded within the walls of this building, such as the place where St. Helena stood to watch the excavations made to find the true cross; where Mary stood to watch the crucifixion; and where Mary Magdalene stood when Jesus appeared to her in the form of the gardener. The latter spot is considered a place of peculiar sanctity, and the Latin fathers were then chanting round it and perfuming it with incense. In one of the side walls of the Latin
Dr. Richardson supposed that this worn appearance of the marble was the effect of long exposure to the atmosphere; but no doubt can exist as to its being attributable to the lips of the millions that must have kissed it.
VARIOUS RELIGIOUS SERVICES.
church there is a small grating with a hole in the centre, in which was lying a long stick with a silver knob on the end, not unlike a footman's cane. Here were a few Frank and Maronite devotees, who, after rattling the stick about for some seconds in the hole, in order that it might become endowed with peculiar virtue and carry out a good share of the holy influence within, pulled it out and kissed it most devoutly. Within this grating, I was informed, was a piece of the real and genuine pillar of scourging, although I had been shown but a few minutes before another pillar of the same character in the vaults below, and a third is exhibited at Rome.
The Latins, or Roman Catholics, have a fine organ in their place of worship, and chant their service in very good time. The Greeks use no instrumental music in their religious worship, but make for that defect by the most discordant nasal singing I ever heard, each vieing with his neighbour, and braying with a forty-nose power that would be really deafening by itself, were it not overcome by the noise that is produced by the Armenians, beating copper drums about the size of boilers. There are so few Copts in the place, that the sounds which they produce amount to little more than occasional whines. Hours were consumed in visiting all the different chapels, shrines, and sacred spots under the roof of this building, the bare enumeration of which would be as wearisome and disgusting to my readers as the scenes I witnessed were to myself. There was, however, one remarkable object which I cannot omit to mention. In that portion of the gallery allotted to the Franks, we were pointed out a full-length portrait of the king of the French, lately sent by him as a decoration to the Holy Sepulchre !
The first evening that we visited the church it was densely crowded, and when the different processions were going their rounds through the building, and during the performance of the religious ceremonies, our attention was so occupied by the multitude of objects presented to our notice, that there was little time for reflection ; but when we returned to the hall of the sepulchre, after having seen all the curiosities of the place, we found the crowd so much diminished, that we were enabled more minutely to observe what was going forward, and also to see some of the effects which the whole scene was calculated to produce.
Several young Egyptian soldiers had collected round the door
DESECRATION OF THE TOMB.
of the Holy Sepulchre, and were acting in a most disgraceful and indecent manner, pushing each other, and running in and out of the tomb by way of amusement. I confess that I felt, in common with
my companions, at this moment some of the spirit of the Crusaders rise within me, and was half inclined to inflict summary chastisement on the infidel and wanton intruders. Yet, on considering the matter, I saw that the conduct of these ignorant people was not to be wondered at, when I reflected that they had just been relieved from keeping guard at the outer door, where they had been stationed for the purpose of preserving order among the Christians, whose reverence for this spot should produce decorum of conduct; yet they daily witness acts of violence and desecration among the very priests themselves. Alas! but too often is this very sepulchre not only the scene of deceit and extortion, but frequently of confusion, strife, and actual bloodshed. About a fortnight previous to our visit to Jerusalem, an altercation took place within the walls of the actual sepulchre—what is considered the most holy place-between a Greek and an Armenian priest for precedency; high words were followed by heavy blows, a furious scuffle ensued, and the white marble covering of what those men believe to be the grave of the Prince of Peace was stained with the blood of persons calling themselves his ministers, professing to teach his doctrine, and to walk in his footsteps! Both of these priests were instantly conducted before the Kadee, who fined their respective convents severely for this violation of the public peace; for the Kadees and other officials are always glad of an opportunity of inflicting a heavy fine on the convents for the misconduct of any of their members.
With the recollection of similar acts, and with the scene such as I have described passing around me, I could not avoid asking myself, as I stood at the door of the sepulchre, is this the object for which a continent rose in arms, nations sent forth the flower of their population, monarchs deserted their thrones and kingdoms, whole countries rushed forward to the battle-field at the beck of an ignorant and fanatic monk, and thousands upon thousands shed their blood, and converted the plains and valleys of Palestine into an Aceldama ; when war, famine, pestilence, and destruction, so long desolated a large portion of the world ? Many as were the engrossing topics that rushed upon my recollection, and many as were the striking objects around me, my thoughts still