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486

JERUSALEM FROM THE NORTH-EAST.

exhibited on some of the rocks, out of which are formed the sepulchral chambers in Egypt.

Some others of these tombs consist of simple low arched grottos of an oblong form, leading from the ante-chambers. There are also others similar to those at Telmessus, Laodicea, and Tortosa, having ledges at the sides ; and again, others having niches for the bodies, representing the segment of a dome, like to those in the royal sepulchres. It appears extraordinary that this wonderful cemetery has not been accurately described by previous travellers ; and it is to be regretted that Clarke did not visit it, as his ingenuity and extensive knowledge of sepulchral architecture would, in all probability, have thrown much light upon this place; whose date, by whom, or for what purpose erected, it is now difficult to determine. Sandys and Pococke briefly notice it, under the name of the “Sepulchres of the Prophets.” In some of the Corinthian tombs at Petra, there are pigeon-holes of a similar form and construction. There are no inscriptions of any kind on these Tombs of the Judges, nor any vestiges of human remains whatever ; indeed so new and perfect do some of them appear, that they look as if they had been constructed but yesterday.

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On our return to the city, we entered the Valley of Jehoshaphat at its northern extremity ; the northern elevation of Mount Olivet rising to the left, from the brow of which the city presents the appearance shown in the foregoing representation.

THE VALLEY OF JEHOSHAPHAT.

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This deep gorge or ravine that lies between the city and the mount is one of the most memorable localities about Jerusalem ; and the associations connected with it are of no ordinary interest.

It might with propriety be termed the valley of tombs ; for the lower part of it, together with that of Hinnom, is one immense catacomb, containing the remains of the inhabitants of the city, from its first erection to the present time. Its sides are in some places so precipitous that they can only be ascended in a zig-zag direction. The brook Kedron winds through its centre; which, however, at the time of our visit was completely dry, its course being only marked by a rough, pebbly, stream-way; though in winter, or after heavy rains, it is a rapid torrent, only passable by bridges thrown across it. One of these, supposed to be that over which our Lord was conducted on the morning of his betrayal, leads to the Mount of Olives, and is placed opposite St. Stephen's gate ; and on the intervening ground there is a well, beside which is pointed out the spot on which the proto-martyr suffered. This bridge conducts the visitor towards the garden of the passion, and the summit of the ascension. The other bridge is situated lower down in the valley, beside the pillar of Absalom, and leads to Bethany and Jericho.

The gloom and stillness that in general rests over this "valley of the shadow of death,” is well calculated to make a deep impression on the minds of the Hebrews and Mooslims ; and to strengthen the opinions which they entertain, that within it is to take place the final judgment; here also may the Christian speculate on the probability of its connexion with the battle of Armageddon.

Traversing it from north to south, the first object that attracts the attention of the visitor is a remarkable vault upon the lefthand side, named by tradition as the burial-place of the Virgin Mary.* This tomb resembles in its external appearance a large ice-house, and is entered by a small door, with a pointed gothic arch, supported by clustered pillars. In the square court in front were squatted some of the most importunate, nay, I might almost say violent beggars I ever encountered. These blear

* The first notice we have of this tomb, is that given by Adamnanus, an Irish monk, about the end of the seventh century.

488

THE TOMB OF THE VIRGIN.

eyed, filthy crones, clad in rags, and covered with vermin, set upon us the moment we made our appearance, yelling out, "a Hadgie ! a Hadgie ! Buckshese, a Hadgie!” in voices suited to the Furies. A piastre given to one was but the signal for a general attack. They came rushing upon us like so many harpies; and some were so bold and determined as to lay hold of us, in order to obtain their demands. Had my late lamented friend, C. 0., the graphic sketcher of the beggars of an Irish village, been there, I am sure he would have resigned the claims of the western islanders to those mendicants that swarm round the Virgin's Tomb.

A flight of forty-eight broad steps conducted us to a subterranean chapel, then in possession of the Greeks, and lighted by numerous small lamps suspended from the ceiling, whose dim, sickly light shed a most funereal gloom over the place. We were led by one of the priests into a small, low stone chamber, somewhat larger than that of the Holy Sepulchre, and placed behind the principal altar of the chapel. The walls of this little crypt were hung with tawdry, faded tapestry; and beneath a white marble slab, like the table of an altar, we were shown what is said to be the tomb of Mary. Other similar crypts were pointed out to us, as the sepulchres of Joseph, Anna, and Caiaphas. This tomb is a place of undoubted antiquity; but at what period it was constructed, or what its original use, the learned have not yet been able to determine. The opinion of Pococke, that it may have been the sepulchre of the Empress Melisendis, is ingenious, but unsupported by proof.

Leaving the Virgin's tomb, our conductor pointed out to us the spot on which it is said the Saviour dropt bloody sweat ! This is a circular cave, surrounded by a wall about breast high, and covered at top by an iron grating, lest human foot should desecrate the sacred spot. A subterranean passage leads into its interior. This station is in possession of the Latins; but the simple-hearted curate seemed ashamed of the story he repeated to us; and seeing a smile of scepticism in our faces, he concluded his narrative with—“but it is mere tradition."

We now commenced the ascent of the Mount of Olives. What feelings and associations does not that name inspire ! Hallowed from the earliest record of this wonderful and mysterious place, of all other spots about Jerusalem the Mount of

THE MOUNT OF OLIVES.

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Olives was to me the most interesting; and while climbing its sides, or gazing from its summit, I must confess that I felt a holy awe I did not experience elsewhere ; and that more reverence and devotional enthusiasm possessed my mind than while hurried along by boisterous monks and fanatic devotees, through places which, whatever may be their sanctity, are desecrated by tawdry superstitious ornaments; as well as by the unholy scenes that are continually taking place around them.

But we hasten to a spot that few can visit without emotionGethsemane*-situated nearly opposite St. Stephen's gate, and looking down upon the valley of Jehoshaphat. It is a square plot of ground, forty-seven paces on each side, sown with corn and enclosed by a low, rude wall. Eight aged olive trees still exist within the enclosure, and are pointed out as those beneath whose shade the Man of Sorrows experienced the bitter foretaste of that death he was about to suffer—the "pangs—the throesthe agonizing struggle, when soul and body part;" and hardened indeed must be the heart that can coldly contemplate this sacred spot where the Lord of life and glory drank that bitter cup of superhuman suffering, for sinful man's redemption, and not partake of some such kindred feelings.

Perhaps the readers of these pages may ask me what authority there is for supposing this to be the garden mentioned by the evangelists, and how the olives within the enclosure could possibly have survived through nineteen centuries; and those learned in history or in works of travel may say, did not Titus cut down all the timber around the city; and did not the tenth legion of his army encamp on this very hill ? True, gentle readers; but I answer—that the locality assigned to this garden renders its identity very probable; especially when we consider the circumstances that are detailed in the Gospels of the route taken by our Lord and his disciples when they went forth from the city after having observed the passover, and instituted the supper. On that memorable night they crossed the brook Kedron, in all probability opposite St. Stephen's, or the Sheep-gate, and from

* From the na gath, a press, and yaw shemen, oil, the garden of the oil press; probably the place where the produce of the Mount of Olives was prepared.

490

THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE.

thence proceeded by the nearest route to the garden on the side of the mount; which corresponds exactly with the present locality of Gethsemane. It is also true that the Romans cut down the wood about Jerusalem ; but the timber of an olive tree would be of little value indeed, in constructing engines, towers, and battering-rams, to be used against cyclopean walls such as I have described ; and these trees in particular must then have been so slender that the besiegers would have considered them unfit for any such purpose. They are undoubtedly the largest, and I may add with safety, the most ancient olive trees in the world. The largest is twenty-four feet in girth above its roots, though its topmost branch is not thirty feet from the ground. The trunks of most of them are hollow in the centre, and built up with stones, like to their aged brother of Oratava.

There is nothing unnatural in assigning an age of nineteen centuries to these patriarchs of the vegetable kingdom, whose growth is perhaps the slowest of any in existence. They have not borne fruit for some years past; but, though their trunks are greatly decayed, yet, from the hardness of the wood, and each part being so very retentive of life, there is still a considerable head to each, whose light-coloured, silky leaves hang like so many silver locks over their time-worn and aged stems, that now, in the evening of life, are fast tottering to decay. But, having witnessed the scenes of suffering, and the long dark night of gloom and fearful retribution that has sunk the pride and prostrated the glory of Jerusalem, they seem yet to linger for the morning twilight of that bright era that will shortly dawn upon the land of Judah. The recollections of the hours I have passed beneath their shade, shall last while memory and reason retain their seat, and the leaves plucked from their branches be treasured with as much (though with different feelings of) devotion, as are the beads and rosaries of my Roman Catholic brethren. Yes; and the cross formed of their wood, which the kind-hearted Father Benjamin presented to me on the morning of our departure, shall ever hold a conspicuous place in my cabinet.

In the vicinity of this garden were pointed out to us the usual traditionary sites, attached to which there is not a single shadow of probability. Some that we examined have been lately erected, and have recent Latin inscriptions upon them. But I shall not enumerate them, nor would I have mentioned them

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