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DEATH OF THREE HUNDRED PILGRIMS.
seen, dangling by ropes from the ceilings and galleries over the heads of the crowd beneath, to catch if possible some of the holy flame which is believed to be incapable of igniting any object except the candles themselves, even though held quite close to it."
One Easter-eve, about nine years ago, this mockery was visited with a signal instance of the wrath of the Almighty, and was attended with the most melancholy results. On that occasion the crowd was more than usually great, for upwards of six thousand persons had assembled in the building, and, according to custom, the outer doors were closed. While the people were anxiously waiting for the miraculous fire, the heat and the pressure became intense, and the air, from the closeness of the place and the multitude who were breathing it, became impure. Just at the moment that the fire made its appearance, several persons fainted, others sank down from weakness and extreme exhaustion, a cry of distress rose from those in the centre of the building, and a general panic immediately spread throughout the whole multitude. A rush was then made towards the door, but, as it turned inward, it was impossible to get it opened, owing to the extreme pressure of the crowd against it. In the tumult that prevailed, none thought of escaping by the galleries, or the other small side entrances, and the scene that followed, as described to me by several eye-witnesses, was fearful, and in its consequences truly appalling.
In the space of a few minutes-certainly not more than a quarter of an hour-numbers perished, either from suffocation, or from being thrown down and trampled to death by the crowd. The governor of the city, who was present as a spectator in the Frank gallery, with a humanity creditable to his character, ran down and endeavoured to restore order, and get the gates broken open ; but be too was borne down by the pressure, and only for the vigorous exertions made by his attendants to rescue him, he would have perished with the other unhappy victims at this shrine of superstition. Ibrahim Basha was also in the church, and was with great difficulty saved. At length the guard forced back some of the crowd with their bayonets, and opened the doors. Many who were carried into the open air recovered; but, from all that I could collect from the most authentic sources, not less than three hundred persons. perished on that night.
Terrific as was this scene of death, one not less heart-rending 420
A MIDNIGHT SCENE IN JERUSALEM.
ensued, as described to me by my friend, Mr. Nicolayson, the Jewish missionary, and other witnesses.* The great majority of those who perished in the building were Greeks of Asia Minor and Armenian Persians, whose noble, athletic forms every person must admire. The dead bodies were immediately removed from the court of the church by their respective friends, relatives, or countrymen, and conveyed to the convent yards, the public karavansaries, and even to the bazaars and open streets in different parts of the city. They were then washed, “laid out,” and waked, surrounded by those very torches for which they had in so remarkable a manner lost their lives, for notwithstanding the accident, the ceremony still proceeded in the church. The mourning groups that knelt around the corpses of their friends and kindred, so lately radiant with life and health, and on which the cold stiffness of death had scarcely yet appeared, presented an impressive and afflicting picture. A wail of sorrow, long and loud, rose at times upon the midnight air throughout the city, and reminded those within its reach of the lamentation that was heard in Bethlehem, when its children were butchered by the Roman soldiers to gratify the vengeance, and to satisfy the fears of the guilty Herod; or, when the angel of destruction passed over the land, and smote the first-born of Egypt.
Those concerned in the jugglery of this miraculous fire endeavoured, by all possible means, to cloke the matter, and to prevent the exact number killed from being made public; but the impression made on the minds of the people was so great, and so direct and awful appeared this rebuke of the Most High, that on the next day the very same Armenian bishop who had assisted at the ceremony, preached openly against its continuance, and strongly urged the people not to require the performance of what they had been taught to believe was miraculous. The Greeks persuaded him afterwards, however, to resume the farce, which is still performed, being in fact the fly-wheel of the machine
* A female servant of this gentleman had gone to witness the proceedings, and before she returned the family were aroused by a piteous cry throughout the city ;-Mr. Nicolayson set out to search for her, and so had an opportunity of seeing the scene which followed that which took place in the church. The servant, however, escaped.
that fills the coffers of the convents. The Latins, or Roman Catholics, at present hold the ceremony in extreme contempt; but we must bear in mind that this mockery was originally their own invention, and the deception was practised by them with full force about four centuries ago. Since the occurrence of the catastrophe I have mentioned, there has been an open space left in the fan-light of the dome, and the doors of the church are not now closed as they were before, when the people have assembled.
Having now conducted my readers to what is, for many, one of the chief objects of attraction in the Holy Land; given the simple narrative of its present state and appearance; and stated some of the feelings that I experienced during my visits to it, it may be asked, has not this place called Calvary, and the Holy Sepulchre, been long since proved to be nothing more than a fable got up by the Empress Helena, and propagated by credulous travellers, and is after all but the imposition of ignorant and superstitious monks?
To discuss the varied and conflicting opinions upon this much mooted and warmly contested topic, would far exceed the limits of my narrative, or the extent of my reading; nevertheless, I shall in the two next chapters offer a few remarks upon the objections brought against the validity or identity of Calvary and The Tomb, and which, though they may not possess the same argumentative force of others who have written on the subject, yet will have at least the value of having been formed from actual observation on the spot, unbiassed, I trust, by either the credulity of Sandys, the enthusiasm of Chateaubriand, the poetry of Lamartine, or the traditionary legends of modern monks and pilgrims.
Topography of Jerusalem--Mode of Constructing Maps-Opinions of Clarke and Buckingham
Plans of Mr. Catherwood-Description of the hills on which the city stands - The Streams and Valleys-Map of the Author-History of the several Cities on this Spot-Salem-Derivation of Jerusalem--Sion-Building of the Temple-Destruction by Nebuchadnezzar-Rebuilt by Zerubbabel - Agrippa's Wall round Bezetha-Errors in Topography --Descriptions of Josephus-Acra and Moriah--The Three Walls-Tower of Hippicus-Circuit of the Ancient City -Tower of Antonia-Tower of Psephinus-The Royal Sepulchres-Walls of NehemiahDescription of the Gates and Fountains-Establishment of their Sites—The Armoury-Existing Remains of the Ancient City-Cyclopean Work-The Outer Enclosure of the TempleMourning Israelites-Berca Solymon-Bridge to the Xistus--Similarity of Architecture-Authority of Ancient Writers--Circumference of the Ancient and Modern City-Ælia Capitolina.
In considering the question proposed in the last chapter, regarding the identity of Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre, we find that so much depends upon the position which the ground now covered by the church of the sepulchre occupied in relation to the walls of the ancient city, that it necessarily becomes mixed up with the topography of Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion. For this reason, the same arguments and observations that are applicable to the one case, become, if true, the proofs of the other. In order that we may enter upon this subject of the topography with advantage, we must first endeavour to trace out the original form of the ground before any city whatever was built upon it; and at the same time cast a rapid glance over the history of Jerusalem, from the earliest period that historic record bears upon the subject.
I may remark, by way of preface to the subsequent inquiry, that both these questions, of the topography of the ancient city, and of the identity of the Holy Sepulchre, are still undecided, and that the minds of many eminent scholars, travellers, and antiquaries are by no means made up upon them.
Up to the period of D'Anville's treatise, “Sur l'Ancienne
Jerusalem,” in 1747,* the maps of the ancient city were for the most part constructed at home, by persons who had never seen the places to which they attempted to give a precise locality. Pococke and Chateaubriand have, however, fixed the localities of many of the places mentioned in Scripture. These, with the labours of Reland and D'Anville, give us a very tolerable outline of Jerusalem and its vicinity.
Several of these plans have since been called in question, and endeavoured to be upset by Dr. E. D. Clarke, in order to make the plan which he adopted agree with his ideas concerning the falsity or apocryphal site of the places called Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre. His views have in turn been questioned; but the opponents of Dr. Clarke, powerful and accurate in some respects though they be, have become liable to the objections urged against the map-makers, in that they had never visited these places themselves.
In later years, Mr. Buckingham has entered the field as a scientific inquirer respecting Jerusalem, its holy places, and its walls ; but, independent of many inaccuracies, unwarranted assumptions, and self-contradictions, he too, in endeavouring to get rid of the objections urged against Clarke, has not only fallen into greater errors himself, but has taken up a position alike unauthorized by sacred and profane history, by analogy, and by a knowledge of the manners and customs of ancient nations, in placing the sites of the crucifixion and the burial within the walls of the ancient city.
Traveller after traveller, if they at all trouble their heads about the matter, simply state their opinions for or against the identity of Calvary, without advancing any reason for so doing, and these opinions are at variance up to the present hour. Again, all acknowledge that the modern city stands for the most part upon some of the space occupied by the ancient; and comparisons, both as to their relative positions and relative sizes, have been constantly drawn and speculated on—from what? The paces of one
• See also his Dissertation on the Extent of Ancient Jerusalem in the Appendix to Chateaubriand's Travels, vol. ii. Since the first edition of this Narrative appeared, I have seen some plans of Jerusalem by German writers, but I believe they never came to England. The best of these was Sieber's. Geometrische Kart der Stadt Jerusalem. Prag. 1812.