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occupying any of the sacred soil in or around the Holy City, and of the obstacles that lay in the way of this purchase, when I state, that the American missionaries were refused permission to enclose a small plot of ground outside the walls for a family burial-place, because the shadow of the minaret of the mosque that covers the tomb of David fell upon the spot at sunset!
To preach with effect, or indeed at all to gain access to the Hebrews upon religious subjects, the missionary must be not only well acquainted with their language and peculiar opinions, but also versed in their laws, traditions, Targums, and Talmuds; for the Israelites in Jerusalem are generally a learned people, and spend their time in discoursing upon these subjects. I know no man possessing the requisite qualifications for this office in a higher degree than Mr. Nicolayson, who is, indeed, eminently fitted for the holy work in which he is engaged.
The labours of the American missionaries, the Rev. Messrs. Thompson and Whiting, are more among the general Christian population of the city ; and not only to the high character of these gentlemen in particular, but to that of the Western missionaries generally throughout the East, I must bear most ample testimony, both as to their zeal and usefulness-particularly in the establishment of schools.
Since our visit to Jerusalem, three events have occurred there, worthy the attention of the religious world, and of all who desire the restoration of the kingdom of Judah. The first of these, insignificant as it may appear to some, yet, even in a political point of view, of vast importance to others, is the establishment of a British consul in the Holy City. This may in truth be hailed by all who have the interest of Jerusalem at heart, as a work bright with promise, and which will, it is to be hoped, be one of enduring benefit. Soon, I trust, will our trans-Atlantic brethren send their stars and stripes to flutter in amity beside that banner which has so long braved the battle and the breeze, and now floats as the protective emblem of our nation from the walls of Jerusalem. He is the first, and as yet the only authorised Christian representative in the Holy City since the Crusaders were driven from its battlements.
The second interesting and important event is that of the deputation sent out by the church of Scotland, consisting of Dr. Keith and other eminent ministers of that persuasion, to
inquire into the state of the Jewish people in Jerusalem. We have received the most valuable information as the result of their investigations, and it is cheering—though but in accordance with the spirit of the times to witness the interest that is felt and is daily increasing throughout the whole Christian world in behalf of the scattered seed of Abraham.
And the third, and last in point of time, though the first in consequence, is the appointment of an Anglo-Prussian bishop, my esteemed friend Dr. Solomon Alexander-himself one of the seed of Abraham—to the see of Jerusalem.
In addition to the Jews and Mohammadans that inhabit Palestine, some of whom may be always found in Jerusalem, the several religious sects may be divided into Latins or Roman Catholics, Greeks, Armenians, Copts, Maronites, Abyssinians, native Christian Arabs, and Syrian Christians who dissent from some of the tenets of all the preceding sects, besides Druses and Metouailes. Most of these denominations, but particularly the ecclesiastics, may be recognised by the peculiarities of their dress. That of the Latins is a simple brown habit, girt with a white knotted cord round the waist, from which hangs a rosary and crucifix. Their heads are shaven at the back part only, and they, as well as all the friars in the Holy City, wear their beards long; a small black skull-cap barely covers the crown of the head; a hood is attached to the collar of the dress, which hangs down behind, but can be worn up in wet weather ; and rude sandals clothe the feet. Notwithstanding all their privations, fasting and want of necessary comforts, many of the monks were as fat and portly as aldermen. Seven years is the period they are required to spend in Palestine ; and during this time they visit most of the convents and holy places; but heartily do they wish for the completion of their penance, (for such it is to many,) and long to return to the sunny shores of Spain or Italy.
Their convent is an immense establishment, and its roof commands one of the most splendid views of the city. The number of monks there at the period of our visit was but forty-five, who were a mixture of Spaniards and Italians ; the principal is always an Italian.
Not the least interesting, and decidedly the most curious part of the building is the pharmacy, to which we were invited by the father who presided over the compounding department, a
sprightly, intelligent, and loquacious Andalusian, who took great delight in displaying to us his array of bottles, jars, and pillboxes, remarking as he went along upon the sanative efficacy of each, and the miraculous cures they had effected. The laboratory was a perfect curiosity, and such as I dare say could not be found at present in Europe. Retorts, alembics, and other chemical instruments of the antique fashion used in the halcyon mystifying days of alchemy and astrology—such as no doubt were often used by the professor of the times of the first Crusades to search for the philosopher's stone or the elixir of lifewere there displayed in bright array. With these were mingled the relics of sundry skeletons - awful looking chirurgical instruments-grim monsters, and musty specimens in natural history :
“A tortoise hung, An alligator stuffed, and other skins Of ill-shaped fishes."
with divers amulets and charms. All these, together with the dark gloomy vaulted chamber and its ancient furniture, afforded a strong contrast to the laboratory of modern times, worked by steam and lighted up with gas. The stock of medicines was, however, very good ;* and as some of the brethren devote themselves to the study of medicine, and do much to alleviate the diseased of all classes and persuasions, it is really a most valuable establishment in that country; although the knowledge of those persons in medicine and surgery is just in that state in which we received it from the monks about three centuries ago.
* I procured some good specimens of scammony from the Medicus of the convent ; and received much valuable information regarding its culture and manufacture, Aleppo and Damascus are still the great marts of this valuable drug, though it grows all over Palestine, and particularly well about Bethlehem. The trade is still in the hands of the Jews, who purchase it from the Arabs; and I have good reason to believe that very little of it finds its way into this country unadulterated with clay and resin. The price in Jerusalem is six piasters, not quite Is. 6d. an ounce. This is worth inquiring into by our druggists.
Another singular part of this monastical establishment is the warehouse, to which it is expected that all travellers will pay a visit and purchase some of the sacred merchandise it contains. Were I to detail the vast quantities of amulets and beads, the tons weight of mother-of-pearl ornaments, and the stores of crosses of every shape and size we saw in these apartments, I fear my readers might say I was exceeding even a traveller's license. We were truly astonished at this immense stock of holy ware. There are upwards of seven hundred persons engaged in one branch of these manufactures at Bethlehem, and several thousand pounds worth of this trumpery are yearly forwarded to Europe, having been first sanctified and endowed with peculiar virtue, it is said, by being rubbed upon the Holy Sepulchre, hearing mass in the Latin church, and being blessed by the superior of the convent. I hope, for the sake of those who put faith in such wares, that they may all enjoy these advantages.
The Greeks are the most numerous of any of the sects of Christians in Jerusalem, and enjoy a larger share of Turkish patronage, as well as a greater number of holy places, than the others. Some time ago, however, their convent was in rather distressed circumstances, and the monks were obliged to pawn their plate and decorations to a Jew, one of the few rich ones in the city. I understood that this person was also the creditor of a late eccentric lady, whose case was a short time since before the English public. This man of money claims to be a subject of the British crown; and when one of our consul-generals visited the city a few years ago, a most extraordinary scene took place in the hospice of the Latin convent; the box, containing the pawned articles, was unsealed in his presence, and its valuable contents actually put up to auction ; but, as there were no bidders, the ornaments were replaced, and still remain in the possession of the Hebrew. Notwithstanding the loss of these ornaments, the dresses of the Greek ecclesiastics are still very splendid.
The Armenians make a much greater show and display in their worship than any of the other sects. Their chapel, which is within the holy enclosure, is situated in the gallery to the right of the Sepulchre, and the furniture and decorations of the altar, and the costume of the priests, are superb. When we
visited their chapel, the bishop was sitting in state in front of the altar, dressed in the most costly robes; having on his head a mitre shaped like the papal crown, of great brilliancy, and studded with the most valuable and precious stones; and holding in his hand a crozier of exceeding beauty and of great value. This sect do not use bells in their worship; but in lieu of them they shake a small silver cymbal, fastened to the end of a stick, as the signal for the different prostrations. On the morning of our visit, the service was chanted in Persian. Their music is not quite so inharmonious as that of the Greeks. Their convent is an immense pile of buildings, with spacious courts, and extensive gardens attached to it; in which are generally to be seen groups of pilgrims seated round fires, cooking their meals, and giving to the place the appearance of a caravansary. The chapel attached to this convent has for many years attracted the attention of travellers, chiefly on account of the beauty and exquisite workmanship of some of the side altars, the doors of which are inlaid with tortoise-shell, ivory, and mother-of-pearl set in silver. In some of the small chapels are a few old and very beautiful manuscript copies of the Scriptures. A large curtain hangs before the principal altar, having on it a wretched painting of a ship, and a sea view. The whole is a sorry daub, with perspective in Chinese style, and so ill does it accord with the splendour of the other parts of the edifice, that I should not have noticed it, but for the curious fact, that the English ensign is represented flying from the main mast of the vessel. Why, or wherefore, this device had been adopted, I could not learn; possibly it may have been the handiwork of some British sailor. The females sat apart in the chapel, and had their faces enveloped in white muslin handkerchiefs like the Osmanlees, whom they very much resemble in appearance.
Altogether, the Armenians are a very interesting people ; they are less bigoted to their own religious opinions, more liberal to those of others, and less adverse to the reading and circulation of the Bible, than any of the other sects, and they are particularly courteous to strangers. The dress of the priest is blue; and instead of a turban or a small skull cap, he wears a high-crowned black hat, which spreads out at top.
They also possess another convent, which stands on the sum