תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[merged small][ocr errors]

Sion gate, or seated by the road side among the nopals. These wretched people are most disgusting objects, and some of them exhibited the worst cases of this dreadful malady I ever beheld ; many had lost fingers, toes, noses,-nay, whole hands and feet; and several were absolutely white as snow, from the peculiar scaly appearance that some forms of this disease had assumed. Some of these people are wealthy, possessing land and cattle; they are forbidden to hold communication with any of the inhabitants, but have whole villages appropriated to themselves. Their children are said to be born perfectly healthy, and the disease does not break out till twelve or fourteen years of age. It is high time that the rulers of the countries where leprosy exists should exert themselves to prevent its extension, by providing in all cases separate asylums for these unhappy beings; instead of allowing them to congregate in small communities, where the disease is sure to be propagated and perpetuated.

The streets of Jerusalem are narrow, ill-paved, and generally very dirty, particularly in the Jewish quarter. The sides of the houses fronting the streets are little better than dead walls, with a few small latticed windows—(Judges v. 28 ; Canticle ii. 9). The roofs of nearly all the houses are domed and white-washed, and around these are flat terraces; the whole covered with cement, and surrounded by a parapet wall, about breast high (Deut. xxii. 8). The house-tops are the constant retreats of the people, and many of them are covered with awnings. Portions of the parapet walls are curiously constructed of small cylinders of red crockery ware, piled up in a pyramidal form, and forming a kind of open work, that allows the air to blow through, and produces a most refreshing current. The inhabitants say, this construction has also the effect of preserving the wall from being blown down by the many sudden squalls and tempests common to this country at particular seasons. Besides this, it is useful for permitting the ladies to observe, unseen, what is going forward in the neighbourhood-all the Christian females in Judea being just as chary of their fair faces as the Mohammadans.

According to our notions of social and domestic enjoyment, nothing can be more cruel, dreary, and unnatural, than the enslaved condition in which the women of the East, and particu.

[blocks in formation]

larly those in Jerusalem are held. The chief amusement of many of them seems to be, mourning over the tombs of their departed lords ; but I have occasionally observed others partaking of that agreeable imitation of the motion, productive of sea-sickness, called “swing-swang ;” and whole hareems turn out to partake of this pastime, among the olive groves near the Bab-el-shem. During the play, the ladies chant a low chorus; and the person who is swung, utters a shrill but not unpleasing cry, as she rises in the air. *

The face-cover of these ladies is not the boórcko of the Egyptian females, but the yashmac, similar to that worn at Constantinople. It consists of a white muslin handkerchief, drawn tight round the lower part of the face, immediately beneath the nose, and fastened at the back of the head, thereby exposing more of the face than is usual among Eastern ladies. From its continued pressure against the end of the nose, it has produced a general protuberance of that organ, by no means pleasing. If intense white, with a slight tinge of pink upon the cheek, can be called beauty, these ladies possess it; but among the Mooslim belles, it is size, not colour or the form of their features, that constitutes that envied appellation, expressed in one word, dumpiness. The Armenian females dress like the Turkish, and resemble them very much in appearance.

Besides the bath, one of the few excuses that an eastern dame has for leaving the hareem is, to visit the tombs of deceased relatives. Most of the Mooslim tombs about the city have the round stele or head-stone carved at top into the form of a palmetto leaf, or a number of grooves radiating from the centre. This is said to be for the purpose of catching the plenteous tears of the widows who resort there to weep over their husbands. In this respect they bear some analogy to the ancient lacrymatories mentioned by the Psalmist; but, though I examined numbers, I was never able to discover any of this precious fluid. · A Mohammadan graveyard is ever a scene of interest; and

* Swinging has been a very old and favourite amusement among Eastern ladies. See the Arabic Tales of Inatulla.

[merged small][ocr errors]

although many resort to it from a more unworthy motive than that of mourning, yet I have seen others around these tombs, the outpouring of whose sorrow told of withered hopes and blighted happiness that no affectation could produce. How much greater reverence and respect is paid to the remains of the dead in the East than in our own country. The oriental looks forward to visiting the tomb of a friend for days and even years to come; and every thing about it is kept clean, neat, and elegant. Rows of tall cypresses shade the snow-white marble, interspersed with flowers and grass plots. At night small twinkling lamps are hung in the different sepulchres, and the Bulbul's song fills up the intervals of female lamentation.

In our country a graveyard is seldom or never visited by the relatives of the deceased, who daily pass its walls unmoved ; while within, it is generally the most slovenly and unsightly spot in the vicinity. The rankest nettles grow upon the graves, till the sexton asks why the tenant cumbereth the ground, and upturns the ashes of the philosopher to make room for the body of the fool; and the green lichen soon creeps over the proud monument of the noble to tell that even his memory is forgotten. But a truce to reflection. In the burial ground to which I have referred there were hundreds of Turkish women, showing by the very position they assumed at the grave, how long ancient customs are preserved in the East. Sitting upon the ground is the posture of grief in that country. When the Israelites hung their harps by Babel's stream they sat down and wept; and this attitude of mourning is frequently alluded to in other parts of Scripture-(1 Kings, xiii. 30;--2 Chron. xxxv. 25 ;-Jer. ix. 17-20;-Amos, v. 16.) It is that adopted by the modern Hebrews who go to mourn over the stones of Jerusalem ; and so characteristic is it of sorrow, that it was made by the Romans the emblem of their captivity, when

“ Lone Judea wept beneath her palm.”

This is also the attitude in which the lower order of Irish women sing the keenan over the graves of their friends at the present day; and in Ireland we find a similarity of custom to the Easterns in the hired criers at wakes and funerals.

Connected with the Jews, I must now say a few words upon

[ocr errors][merged small]

the different religious sects, and the English and American missionaries in Jerusalem. I was not long in the Holy City until I found my way to the residence of the Rev. Mr. Nicolayson, the Jewish missionary, and was received by him and his family with the greatest kindness and affection. Their dwelling is on the side of Mount Sion, in rather an unfrequented quarter of the town, and nearly opposite David's castle. In the evenings, after the fatigues of the day, in attending processions, or exploring ancient remains, it was indeed a comfort to sit and enjoy an hour's conversation with that interesting family; to talk about the land we had left, or consider the state and prospects of that in which we sojourned ; and then to close the day with the service of our holy religion, and to hear the Scriptures read and expounded within the walls of Salem, and on the side of Sion, was indeed a privilege. In Mrs. Nicolayson I found a countrywoman, and though I had not the pleasure of meeting her before my visit to Jerusalem, yet we were acquainted with so many mutual friends in our native land, that we very soon cast off the reserve that generally follows a first introduction ; if, indeed, the Irish ever require such inducements to become intimate in foreign countries. I shall long remember with delight and gratitude the happy evenings I spent under their roof.

Missionary labour must ever proceed slowly among the Jews in Jerusalem. And although I do not see that Scripture warrants the belief that the Israelites will be converted as a nation till after their restoration ; yet some have come out and embraced Christianity in despite of the persecution which they knew awaited them from their brethren. For my own part, I only wonder that a Jew resident in Jerusalem ever becomes a Christian; for, perhaps, in no other place upon the globe is Christianity presented to him in a more unchristian spirit; the character and conduct of those who generally profess it is neither calculated to gain his confidence nor respect. Indeed both Jew and Mohammadan can justly point to the different religious sects, and ask, is this your religion? is this the creed you would have us to adopt? I am sure that if any of my enlightened Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen were to witness the scenes, and to know the real state of Christianity among those persons belonging to their church in Jerusalem, they would blush for

[merged small][ocr errors]

their superstitious practices and be ashamed to acknowledge them as fellow worshippers.

The erection of the IIebrew church, in which the service of the church of England is to be celebrated in the Hebrew tongue, will, I trust, under the Almighty's blessing, work much good. The Jewish Society have reason to rejoice in being privileged to commence such a work; it is an undertaking worthy the high cause in which they are engaged. The Hebrew language, in which the service will be read, and the Scriptures expounded, together with the simplicity of our liturgy, will form a striking contrast to the mockery and impious miracle-mongering handicraft that the Jew has been heretofore told was Christianity ; and will doubtless attract many of that people to attend the services of our holy religion, and lead them to believe in that Saviour whom their fathers crucified, and they still reject.

Considerable delay has, no doubt, taken place in its erection ; but great difficulty was experienced, first in procuring the ground, and subsequently in conveying the necessary materials from Jaffa, as no timber of sufficient size for constructing such a building grows in Judea at present. The ground which has been purchased for the purpose is just beside the missionary residence on the side of Sion; and I have marked it in the map as near the site as the want of the necessary instruments enabled me to do.*

Some idea may be formed of the prejudices that exist among the Osmanlees as to the right of Christians of any denomination

* The papers of the 19th December, 1840, contain the following intelligence with regard to this church : We received last night a letter from our correspondent at Constantinople, dated Nov. 20, which states that Mahomet Ali had granted a firman to the Society for the Conversion of the Jews, for building a Protestant church in the city of Jerusalem, but that the Porte has not thought fit to ratify that firman.” And now (1844) we see that the Porte has from day to day procrastinated and put off the granting of this firman, and it is very questionable whether it may be ever induced to accede to our request. Had, however, this church been commenced, and its exterior finished as a simple dwelling, instead of a modern ecclesiastical gothic structure, it would not have awakened the jealousy of other sects, nor aroused the superstitions of the Mohammadans, but have passed unnoticed ; and internally it might have been fashioned in any way the architect pleased, and perfectly in accordance with the form and ritual of the Church of England.

« הקודםהמשך »