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of the Dead Sea could be seen in the distance, having a bluish mist brooding over the perpendicular wall of the mountains of Moab and Arabia, that rises from its southern shores. A little more northward glimpses are obtained of the plain of Jericho, with the silver thread of Jordan's stream winding its way to the lake that covers the doomed cities of the plain.

There is this charm about Mount Olivet, that there can be no cavil as to its identity, no question as to its being the very Olivet up which David went, with his head covered and his feet bare, and all his weeping adherents with him, when he was driven from the city by the rebellion of Absalom; no doubt of its being the favourite resort of our Lord and his disciples, and the scene of some of the most remarkable events in his life. Even though the spot pointed out may not be the actual Gethsemane, we knew that it must have been within our view; and though antiquaries may dispute as to the exact position of Calvary, yet we were convinced that at this moment and from this spot we must have been looking at the place. No one acquainted with the past history of Jerusalem, or who has read and reflected upon the prophetic descriptions of its future state, can look down upon it from this spot unmoved. Its story rushes unbidden and irresistibly upon the mind : its many privileges; its slighted and despised mercies; its purchased woes, and glory yet to come—with Solomon as its king, Melchizedec its priest, Hiram its architect, Isaiah and Ezekiel its prophets, and Moab and Tadmor its dependencies, awaken feelings which they only who have stood upon that spot can experience.

« Oh ! fair and favour'd city, where of old

The balmy airs were rich with melody,

That led her pomp beneath the cloudless sky
In vestments flaming with the orient gold;
How stately then was every palm-deck'd street,
Down which the maidens danced with tinkling feet,
How proud the elders in the lofty gate!
How crowded all her nation's solemn feasts
With white-robed Levites, and high-mitred priests;
How gorgeous all her temple's sacred state !"*

* Milman's “ Fall of Jerusalem."

THE DECLINE AND FALL OF JERUSALEM.

495

The many vicissitudes that it had suffered under the hand of its successive conquerors, appeared to rise and pass before meinvaded by the Theban Shishak; besieged by Pharaoh Necho; razed and trodden under foot by the Babylonish conqueror ; visited by Alexander; ruled by the Ptolemies and Seleucidæ; then governed by the Maccabees; bowed beneath the Roman yokewhen Jesus would have gathered it as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and it would not—again begirt and hemmed in by the soldiers of Vespasian ; its temple pillaged, and its smoking ruins levelled with the dust.

“Her tale of splendour now is told and done,
Her wine-cup of festivity is spilt,
And all is o'er, her grandeur, and her guilt.
Her gold is dim, and mute her music's voice,
The Heathen o'er her perish'd pomp rejoice;
Her streets are razed, her maidens sold for slaves-
Her gates thrown down, her elders in their graves.
Her feasts are holden 'mid the Gentiles' scorn,
By stealth her priesthood's holy garments worn;

Oh! long foretold, though slow accomplish'd fate,
Her house is left unto her desolate.”

Art and vanity have not been able to deface the natural aspect of this spot with tapestry and marble. All here wears the garb of unsullied nature, unadorned by the pomp of religious pride, and tinselled decoration of man's hand; no perfumed incense smokes from the golden censer ; no flaunting banner waves in its refreshing breezes; and no jarring tones of the lip-worship of the creature grate upon the ear. Here all is real, and wears the livery of creation ; if rocks are bare and rugged, they are those a Saviour trod; if olive-trees are stunted, it is their nature to be so; and though they want the verdure of more humid climes, they are the descendants of those that sheltered Emanuel's head; and if the earth appears barren, still it is that on which in his agony the sweat of Jesus fell.

The touching lines of Heber often rose to my lips while thus musing over the doom of that widowed queen of cities “which kings with envy viewed,” but now

“No martial myriads muster in thy gate;
No suppliant nations in thy temple wait;

496

RECOLLECTIONS OF THE HOLY CITY.

No prophet bards, thy glittering courts among,
Wake the full lyre, and swell the tide of song;
But lawless Force, and meagre Want is there,
And the quick-darting eye of restless Fear,
While cold oblivion, 'mid thy ruins laid,
Folds his dank wings beneath the ivy shade."

Many and varied have been the scenes of interest and excitement that I have experienced in other lands. I have stood beside the boiling furnace of one of the highest craters that the foot of man can reach, and marked from that stupendous elevation the glorious and wide-extended landscape, as it unfolded to my wildered gaze, when, sketched by the rapid pencil of the morning's dawn, object after object rose to the view. I have climbed one of the greatest monuments that art ever reared, and as my visual organs wandered over the ancient land of Eygpt, the eye of mind took in, in rapid succession, the substance of the present and the shadows of the past. But these scenes have faded, or are remembered as a vision of the night. I have groped amid the dark tombs of centuries long gone by, till to my fevered imagination the dead rose among the living ; yet that too has lost its interest; as well as the excitement with which my fancy peopled the theatre of the Doric Lord, and conjured into shape and form the heroes and philosophers that once roamed through the streets of that vast Grecian necropolis. All these exist but in remembrance ; not so the impressions left by the scenes I have witnessed at Jerusalem, before which all others sink into comparative insignificance ; for, although some thousand miles may intervene between me and it, its glories are still phantom-like before me, even amidst the stir and bustle of every-day life. “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.” The recollections of what it was ; the knowledge of what it is; and the expectation of what it shall yet be, are considerations which, added to an acquaintance with its locality, must ever act as a spell upon the minds of those who have seen and felt its beauties, its charms, and its power. And although we may mourn over the present superstitions practised in this Deicide city, and the blindness of its once favoured inhabitants ; yet the feelings it awakens, and the recollections it leaves, force us to exclaim with the disciple, “ Lord, it is good for us to be here," and lead us to anticipate the time when

THE TOMB OF ABSALOM.

497

"-- shall glorious as a gem,
Shine thy Mount Jerusalem;
Earth by angel foot be trod,
One great garden of her God;
Till are dried the martyr's tears,
Through a thousand glorious years.".

Again descending to Gethsemane, we continued our course through the valley of Jehoshaphat, by those remarkable monuments denominated the Sepulchres of the Patriarchs, which have been described as well as drawn with great accuracy by most writers on Palestine.* They are placed on the eastern side of Kedron, nearly opposite the southern angle of the present wall, and are some of the rarest and most extraordinary specimens of sepulchral architecture in existence. They are hewn out of the solid rock, with temple-like fronts. Some of them are enormous masses separated from the rest of the rock, and left standing like so many monolithic temples—monuments that record as well (if not more so) the labour and ingenuity of their constructors, as the persons to whose memory they have been erected. The names assigned to these tombs are those of Jehoshaphat, James, Zechariah, and Absalom. This latter is the most elegant and tasteful piece of architecture in Judea-indeed I might almost add in the east ; and viewed from the valley beneath, it is one of the most beautiful tombs I have ever seen in any country. It consists of a mass of rock twenty-four feet square, separated from the rest, and standing in a small enclosure that surrounds three of its sides. It has four pilasters with Ionic capitals on each front; the two outer ones being flat, while those in the centre are semicircular ; the frieze is ornamented with triglyphs. The upper part is composed of several pieces, and surmounted by a small spire terminating in a bunch of leaves. There is a hole in the back immediately beneath the architrave, through which I was enabled to climb into its interior. As the door by which it was entered is concealed, this opening was formed, in all probability, for the

* Written descriptions of the views and monuments in and about Jerusalem need never again be attempted-Roberts's magnificent and most accurate drawings, now publishing, have done more to bring those objects before us than the most graphic pen could possibly hope to attain.

498

THE TOMB OF ABSALOM.

purpose of rifling the sepulchre of its contents. Within, it presents the usual form of eastern tombs, having niches at the sides for bodies, and on entering I was instantly struck with the remarkable similarity of the chamber to the interior of the temple I have already described, which stands near the sea at Telmessus (see page 335). Indeed the interior of this tomb is so like that building, both in the construction of its domed roof, and the arrangement of its arched sides, that one would be inclined to suppose it was a miniature representation of that edifice.

The general opinion of antiquaries is, that the Grecian architecture exhibited on the exterior of this rock is no test of the date of its construction, and that it was added in later times; a similar workmanship is visible on the other neighbouring tombs.

To this circumstance may be referred that rebuke of our Lord to the Pharisees, regarding their garnishing the sepulchres of the prophets. The tradition is, that this pillar, of which we have an account in the Book of Samuel, was erected by Absalom. “Now Absalom in his life-time had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale; for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance; and he called the pillar after his own name; and it is called unto this day Absalom's Place.” (2 Sam. xviii. 18.) Josephus also informs us, that “ Absalom had erected for himself a stone marble pillar in the king's dale, two furlongs distant from Jerusalem, which he named Absalom's hand, saying, that if his children were killed, his name would remain by that pillar."* I see no reason to doubt the tradition regarding this monument, although the historian has stated it to be at a greater distance from the city than we now find it; but this is an error into which he often falls. In confirmation of its supposed origin I may add, that it has ever been a place of detestation not only to the Hebrews, but to both Christians and Mohammadans; and each of these sects when passing it by, throw a stone at it to this day; so that the interior is partially filled up and a large cairn has formed round its base.+ The

* Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, book vii. chap. 10, sec. 3.

† I have already remarked upon this practice of erecting stone heaps in such places, practised among the Welsh and Irish; and a similar rite exists in Greece by way of auathema.

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