"For several centuries, the Turkish empire was dominant in the East and its armies victorious in the field. It was during these centuries of power that the Moslem rulers gathered the great accumulation of trophies and spoils of war, valued at untold millions, which we find stored in the rooms of this marble edifice."
After leaving the Treasury we were led by the official conductor past the building in which the mantle, sword, and green banner of the great founder of Mohammedanism are treasured. These personal relics of the Prophet are considered by the Moslems too sacred to be gazed upon by infidel eyes.
We tarried awhile in the Bagdad Kiosk, a white marble palace noted for its interior wall decoration of blue tiling, beautiful doors inlaid with mother of pearl, and handsome furniture inlaid with inscriptions of silver, and thence proceeded to a marble pavilion in which, as guests of the absent Sultan, we partook of refreshments. These refreshments, consisting of Turkish coffee in tiny cups and Turkish preserves on small plates, were brought to us by the servants of the Sultan. We stood awhile on the portico in the rear of the pavilion and admired the magnificent view of the harbor with its shipping, and the surrounding shores covered with buildings.
Leaving the portico and its panoramic view with regret, we turned to the Museum of Antiquities, intending to inspect hastily the relics of ancient times which it contains. The collection, however, proved to be much more interesting than we had expected, so, instead of hurriedly passing through the building, we lingered around the sarcophagi and studied the hunting and battle scenes which were exquisitely carved on the polished marble of the exteriors of the old stone coffins. The most beautiful of these sarcophagi, twenty-one in number, have been discovered within the past thirty or forty years at Sidon in Syria. The tireless archaeologists, eager in pursuit of knowledge of the past, found and opened the graves in which the dead kings of Sidon had quietly rested for thousands of years; then disinterring the heavy stone caskets they brought them to Constantinople to be placed on exhibition.
These sarcophagi are stone caskets of great size and weight composed of two pieces, the chest and lid. The chest is hewn out of one solid block of marble and the lid of another. The sarcophagi range from ten to twelve feet in length, from five to six feet in width, and from six to eight feet in height. One of the stone coffins, made of black Egyptian marble and named the Tabnith, contained, when found, the dried up mummy of an ancient king, Tabnith, who lived four centuries before the time of Christ. An inscription on this in Egyptian hieroglyphics pronounced a curse upon the man who should despoil the tomb, but the dreadful warning was not deciphered until the casket reached the Museum. Another sarcophagus, called the Satrap's, cut out of Parian marble, somewhat resembles a Grecian temple in form. On the sides are depicted, in marble carvings, a funeral banquet, a governor on his throne, a hunting scene with a lion at bay, a frightened horse dragging its dismounted rider, and many other similar scenes.
"But this, in my opinion, is the most attractive casket in the collection," said the professor as we came to one named the Weepers, on the marble sides of which a master sculptor of ancient times had carved eighteen female forms. "Notice how each figure is portrayed in a different graceful attitude of mourning and how each is a picture of sorrow. And notice, too, the exquisite workmanship of the frieze with its ornamentation of a hundred small figures in hunting scenes."
Near to the Weepers is the sarcophagus known as the Alexander, the most famous in the collection, by many considered the most beautiful in the world, and in the opinion expressed by the American Consul in Constantinople, "worth crossing the ocean to see." The sculptures on this represent a battle between Greeks and Persians with many figures and incidents of battle, and elaborate hunting scenes with many details delicately worked out. These four sarcophagi, and the one named the Lycian on which Amazons in four horse chariots hunting lions are delineated, attracted the most attention from the tourists, but there were scores of other sarcophagi in the collection almost as interesting.
In another part of the Museum, called the China Pavilion, the noted stone tablet from the Temple of Jerusalem was on exhibition. This tablet, discovered at Jerusalem in the year 1871, originally stood in the Temple enclosure to mark the limit which Gentiles were not allowed to pass. The Greek inscription on the tablet is translated as follows:
"No Gentile may pass beyond the railing into the court round the Temple; he who is caught trespassing will bring death upon himself."
Statues, pottery, porcelain, jewels, and antiquities of various kinds were hurriedly passed by until an exclamation of one of the ladies caused us to pause.
"Look at his eyes," she said, pointing to a bronze statue of Jupiter. "Did you ever see any eyes like that in a statue?"
The eyes of the god were represented by two bright rubies which gave them a very peculiar expression. This room contained many exquisite pieces of bronze work; one representing Hercules was particularly fine in execution.
"We will stop now to view the Hippodrome," said the guide, after driving a short distance from the Museum.
"But where is the Hippodrome?" inquired a tourist as we descended from the carriages in a long open square.
"Alas! the building is no more," sadly replied the guide. "This square is a part of the ground on which it stood. The space was originally very long and wide, but that great Mosque of Ahmed and other buildings now occupy a large portion of the old circus grounds.
"The ancient Hippodrome was an oblong enclosure fourteen hundred feet long and four hundred feet wide, surrounded by magnificent porticos adorned with statues of marble and bronze, and had a seating capacity of eighty thousand. It was used for chariot races, athletic sports, and bloody gladiatorial combats. Sometimes the seats were crowded with people, now assembled to glory in the triumphal procession of a returning conqueror, now to gloat over the burning of heretics and criminals who had been condemned to death by the flames.
"That high red granite obelisk covered with hieroglyphics at the end of the square is called the Obelisk of Theodosius the Great. It was originally erected in the Temple of the Sun in Egypt in 1600 B.C. by a haughty king who inscribed on the stone a statement that he had 'conquered the whole world,' and that his 'royalty was as firm as that of the gods in the sky.' For two thousand years the obelisk remained in Heliopolis as a memorial of its builder, Thotmes III, but for the past fifteen hundred years it has stood here as a monument to the Emperor Theodosius, who brought it from Egypt as a trophy. In order that he might not be forgotten, the Emperor caused a representation of himself surrounded by courtiers, guards, and dancing girls to be carved on the base of the obelisk. These sculptures, as you see, are in good condition. The bronze 'Serpent Column' in the centre of the square, representing three serpents coiled around each other, once supported the tripod used in the ceremonial services of the Pythian oracle at Delphi."
When the guide had finished his remarks, our friend, the professor, stepped forward and said: "Some of the tourists may not be familiar with the story of the horses that lived as long and traveled as far as did the 'Wandering Jew' in Eugene Sue's well known romance. The conductor has requested me to relate the story."
"In some ancient time before the Christian era, a Roman conqueror found in an Oriental city four magnificent horses that pleased him. He took them to Rome to grace his triumph. Centuries later the covetous Emperor Constantine brought these same horses from Rome to Constantinople and stood them here to add glory to the splendor of his Hippodrome. For nine hundred years the horses remained undisturbed; then ruthless Christian Crusaders carried them with other spoils to Venice. A long rest at Venice succeeded until the ambitious Bonaparte drew them away to beautify his famous Capitol. After the downfall of Napoleon the prayers of the Venetians were effectual in bringing the horses away from Paris, and now these gilded bronze travelers, that were coveted and prized by great rulers of the world, stand in front of the Church of San Marco in the city of Venice."
As the professor ceased speaking, a clear penetrating voice was heard from overhead crying:
"Al-la-hu, Ak-bar! Al-la-hu, Ak-bar!" uttering each syllable distinctly.
It was the Muezzin calling the people to prayer. Looking up we saw him on a little balcony near the summit of a minaret which stood within the enclosure of the adjoining Mosque of Ahmed. Then he disappeared and we heard more faintly his call from the farther side of the balcony. It is the Muezzin's duty to repeat his calls from the four sides of the minaret, to north, east, south, and west. His words were interpreted for us: "God is great," repeated four times on each side of the minaret.
Faithful Moslems on hearing the call repeated his words.
"There is no God but God," he called again, reciting it twice.
His hearers repeated this declaration.
"Mohammed is the prophet of God."
The people responded in the same words.
"Come to prayer."
"I have no power or strength but from God most high and great," all true believers replied.
"Come to do good," again the Muezzin called.
"What God wills will be; what he wills not will not be," answered the people, all responses being muttered in low tones.
"The ringing of bells to call the people to service is forbidden," said the guide. "It is written that when the Mohammedan meetings were first held in Arabia, there was difficulty in gathering the people together and propositions were made to 'Ring a bell as the Christians do,' and to 'Blow the trumpets as do the Jews;' but Omar cried, 'What! is there not a man among you who can call to prayer?' The prophet then said, 'O Billal! stand and make the call to prayer.' Since then the melodious voices of the trained Muezzins five times each day summon the Moslems to prayer, and the tall graceful minarets which rise above the surrounding buildings were erected so that the voices could ring out over the city."
We followed the faithful into the mosque, after paying our fees and donning the slippers, and stood quietly in the rear of the great auditorium. The interior was brightened by beautiful blue and white tiling which lined the arches overhead and covered the immense piers that supported the roof. Inside the mosque, near the entrance, water was running from spigots into stone basins. The Moslems stopped at the basins and washed their hands and feet. Some of the better dressed worshipers appeared to have slippers inside their shoes and went through the motion of washing the feet, but the poorer classes used the water to cleanse their feet, and then walked forward barefooted on the rugs. Each man,—for there were no women at the service,—carried his shoes with him and placed them upon a board on the floor provided for that purpose.
The Koran, the sacred book, which, as the Moslems claim, was revealed to Mahomet by the angel Gabriel and was written by Mahomet under inspiration, commands:
"The clothes and person of the worshiper must be clean, the place free from all impurity, and the face turned toward Mecca." And also:
"O believers! when ye address yourselves to prayer wash your hands up to the elbows, and wipe your heads, and your feet to the ankles."
The worshipers, scattered around the vast interior, all facing the black stone in the wall which indicates the direction of Mecca, repeated their prayers in low tones. At first they stood with hands close at their sides, then as they muttered the prescribed formulas the hands were raised to the sides of the heads, then with hands clasped in front the worshipers remained for a short time in devout attention. After bowing several times the Moslems knelt on the Oriental rugs continuing the muttered supplications and concluded their personal devotions by bowing forward on their feet. The Iman, or priest, then ascended the pulpit, the worshipers formed in lines, and as the priests read the prayers, they went through the same movements that they had previously made while at their personal devotions.
"Women do not take any part in the public worship on the floor of the mosque," said the guide. "The latticed galleries are provided for them. There they may sit in privacy during the service. The galleries, however, are rarely occupied."
The Mosque of Ahmed has six minarets; St. Sophia, only four. The minarets, slender, round towers, are not attached to the main edifices, but stand separate and distinct in the courts surrounding the mosques, with some space intervening between mosque and minaret.
Resuming our drive through the very narrow streets of Stamboul, which are paved with large rough cobble stones once laid in place but now very much out of place, we passed many old unpainted frame buildings with stove pipes projecting from the windows of the second and third floors.
"I do not wish any one ill," said a tourist who at home was chief of a city Fire Department, "but I would give a ten dollar gold piece if I could see how the fire department of this old city manages to control or extinguish a conflagration after it has gained headway among these tinder boxes. The watchmen on the watch towers surely cannot locate a fire and give the alarm until they see a smoke or flame arising."
The fountains of the city were one of the peculiar Turkish institutions that attracted the tourists' attention. The Koran enjoins all true believers to abstain from intoxicants, and to perform regular ablutions before prayers; so there are drinking fountains at corners where the thirsty assemble to drink from brass cups, and washing fountains or basins outside and adjoining the mosques, as well as inside these buildings, where Moslems were seen washing hands or feet regardless of our curious eyes. Some of the drinking fountains are very large and beautiful. The fountain erected by Sultan Ahmed surpasses all others in grace of proportion and beauty of design. This magnificent structure is ornamented with carved arabesques, inscriptions in gilt, and delicately colored green tile. Above the water tap may be seen in Turkish characters the builder's mandate:
"Wayfarer, admire this beautiful work; turn the tap in the name of Allah; drink thy fill and bless the founder, Ahmed Khan."
FROM THE BOSPORUS TO PALESTINE.
The program posted for Saturday, February twenty-eighth, announced that the Moltke would leave Constantinople at nine o'clock in the morning for a trip to the Black Sea, a distance of thirty-five miles. As we sailed up the Bosporus, which narrows and widens, twists and turns, a succession of picturesque scenes opened up before us. Scattered along the shores, which for fifteen or twenty miles beyond Constantinople may be considered suburbs of that city, white marble palaces of the rulers, summer residences of the foreign ambassadors, and villas of the wealthy Turks were seen interspersed with modern villages and ruined walls and castles of past ages. Pretty frame summer houses, groves of dark green cypress, gardens, boat-houses, and mosques added interest to the views.
"The sail up the Bosporus reminds me of one taken on the Hudson River, but the scenery on the banks is Oriental instead of modern," remarked one of the tourists.
"The old castles and ruined walls, and the legends connected with them, suggest the Rhine," commented another.
At the water's edge on the Asiatic side, a few miles from the city, we saw the beautiful white marble Beylerbey Palace, built in the year 1866 by Abdul-Aziz, the predecessor of the present Sultan, as a residence for his harem. For their pleasure he surrounded the palace with groves and gardens and established a menagerie in the grounds. About eight miles from the city all eyes were turned toward a hill on the European shore, where, above a cluster of buildings, the Stars and Stripes floated in the breeze.
"That is the American College, which is doing good work in Turkey. It was founded by Mr. A. Robert of New York, and is known as the 'Robert College,'" said the guide.
As our steamer passed the college, the Turkish students from roof, windows, and campus waved hats, handkerchiefs, and flags, and cheered energetically, and the tourists waved to them in return. Just beyond the college we passed an old town surrounded by ancient towers and time-worn walls.
"This ancient stronghold," said the guide, "was known as the Citadel of Europe. The fortress commanded the Strait and enabled the Sultans of four centuries ago to levy toll on all passing vessels. At this place, where the Bosporus is only about half a mile wide, the Persian ruler, Darius, with his army crossed on a bridge of boats to invade Greece. Here also the Crusaders crossed on their way to free the Holy Land from the clutch of the Saracens."
The Moltke sailed into the Black Sea merely far enough to sweep around in a wide circle and then, returning through the Bosporus, passed by Constantinople and entered the Sea of Marmora.
"It seems like parting with a dear old friend," said a tourist as we looked back on the fading domes and waved farewell to mosque and minaret. "We have seen so much of the city in so short a time. Every hour has been used to the best advantage in the Turkish capital."
Sunday, March first, was not to be a day of rest for the tourists; for the Moltke had arrived at Smyrna at daylight and was to remain in the harbor of that city only until dark.
The principal reason for a day's stay at Smyrna was to give an opportunity for an excursion by train to the site of ancient Ephesus. Many of the tourists took this trip to see the few scattered ruins that mark the place where once stood the magnificent Temple of Diana. The clergymen of the party desired to view the place where the Apostle Paul had fought in the arena with wild beasts, and where Demetrius and his fellow silversmiths had led the rioters against this Apostle whose preaching interfered with the sales of silver shrines for Diana.
Other tourists, who did not take the excursion to Ephesus, explored the narrow, badly-paved streets of Smyrna, and visited the bazaars. This city would have seemed more interesting to us but for our previous visit to the more picturesque Constantinople. In a crowded street we encountered a flock of turkeys driven by a native. The turkeys appeared to understand the driver's commands and were more easily guided by a touch of his long switch than would be a flock of sheep passing through a street in an American city.
Setting sail again, we passed late in the evening the island of Patmos, where Saint John wrote the book of Revelations, and on Monday morning we saw at a distance the island of Rhodes, noted for its historic defense by the Knights of Malta. About nine o'clock Tuesday morning the Moltke anchored in the Bay of St. George some distance from the shore. On the surrounding hill slopes rose the city of Beyrout. Fresh-looking white and yellow tinted buildings, red-tiled roofs, and a background of green groves and orchards interspersed with white villas, gave the city an appearance of newness. The whole scene, with the snow-capped Mountains of Lebanon beyond, presented a beautiful picture to the eye.
"Beyrout has a population of 120,000, and is a prosperous, growing city," said one of the managers of the tour. "It is a centre of missionary work, and has American and German colleges. The old streets are narrow, as are all old streets in Eastern towns; but they are clean. The newer streets are of modern width. Educational advantages, foreign enterprise, and European mercantile firms have infused new life into the native population."
Madame Barakat, a native of Syria, and a well-known lecturer and Bible reader, had very kindly given us letters of introduction to her Syrian relatives in Beyrout. Among these were Mr. Sarkis, a highly respected gentleman who had been honored by the Sultan with decorations for services to his country, and who was also an author and editor of a daily newspaper; and Mr. Sabra, his assistant, a tall, fine-looking man. Another was the Rev. Mr. Zurub, pastor of the Congregational Church. The three gentlemen were able to converse in English as fluently as in their own tongue.
We were very cordially received by Mr. Sarkis, and, after meeting and conversing with the other gentlemen, were shown through their printing house, where Syrian type-setters were setting type to print Arabic letters that looked like shorthand characters, and Jewish girls were employed binding pamphlets. Our names were given to the printer, and in a few minutes he presented us with visiting cards containing the names in Arabic letters, thus:
"Let us visit a candy factory while waiting for the carriages I have ordered," said Mr. Sabra. "I know that the ladies are fond of sweetmeats and I can guarantee these to be perfectly pure. We think that our candies are delicious," he added as we entered the factory, and the ladies agreed with him after eating some of the sweets.
The Syrians take pride in their city, in its factories, its hospitals, its seminaries and colleges, its progressive business spirit, and the beauty of its suburbs. We visited one of the silk factories where hundreds of Syrian girls were engaged in unwinding the cocoons of delicate gossamer that had been tediously spun and wound by the silk worms among the leaves of the mulberry trees in the great orchards on the hillsides.
"On the slope of yonder mountain we have a villa in which we spend the hot summer months," said Mr. Sabra, pointing to the distant mountains as we reached an elevation from which a broad view was obtained. "If there had been time I would have taken you there to see one of the most beautiful views in Syria."
"The landscape is magnificent as seen from here," we replied. The fruitful valley lay before us, beyond rose the verdant hills, and above all towered the stately mountains of Lebanon. Villages, hamlets, villas, exuberant gardens, orchards of spreading mulberry trees, graceful palms, fig, lemon, and orange trees enhanced the beauty of the scene.
"Our colleges and schools," said Mr. Sarkis, "are equal to those of a European city. Our people are becoming an educated people; almost all of the younger generation can read and write. My daughters have been educated in the American Seminary and can converse fluently in French, German, and English, as well as in Arabic."
In a narrow thoroughfare we passed horses laden with long boards strapped lengthwise on their backs, and camels laden with huge timbers strapped to their backs and sides in the same manner.
"This is my home," said Mr. Sarkis, as the carriage stopped before a large house surrounded by a small garden and a high wall. "I wish you to meet my wife and sister and daughters."
Our hostesses were dressed in the English fashion, and our hosts, too, wore modern English clothes, but the red fez on their heads designated them as Turkish subjects. When we expressed an interest in their way of living, the ladies took us from the reception room, which was furnished in modern style, into their garden where orange and lemon trees and semi-tropical plants were growing. They conducted us then through the spacious marble-floored central hall, permitting us to look into nursery and bedrooms fitted up partly in modern and partly in Oriental style, and led us up a stone stairway to the level roof, which, with its surrounding parapet, recalled the one described in "Ben Hur." Here fruit was served by a Syrian maid clad in the native costume. On our return to the lower floor, our hostesses conducted us to the divan salon or Oriental smoking room. There, while we rested on low couches, the Syrian maid passed around Turkish coffee in dainty cups, and then brought a lighted narghileh from which, in turn, each one present took a few whiffs of the mild Turkish tobacco.
Mr. Sarkis told us that he had visited the United States at the time of the Chicago Exposition. He took one hundred and forty Arabian horses to the Exposition and had some interesting experiences while there. The Rev. Mr. Zurub had spent sixteen months in America and spoke in the highest terms of the kindness with which he had been received by the American people.
In the evening a ball was given on the deck of the steamer, which had been tastefully decorated for the occasion. Our friends, Mr. Sarkis, Mrs. Sarkis and sister, the daughters, Fahima, aged about eighteen, Neda, aged about fourteen, and a son, aged about sixteen, together with Mr. Sabra, came on board to visit the ship. Mr. Sabra sang some Arabic songs and Fahima joined him in a duet.
About fifty tourists left the Moltke at Beyrout in order to take the side trip of three days to Damascus, the oldest city in history, and to the ruins of the great Temple of Baal at Baalbek. A narrow-gauge railway extends across the Lebanon Mountains from Beyrout to Damascus. The distance is but ninety miles, but as the train has to rise to an elevation of nearly five thousand feet and then descend to the valley beyond, the average speed does not exceed ten or twelve miles an hour. On Wednesday morning the steamer stopped at the little seaport of Haifa just long enough to send ashore sixty passengers. Some of these wished to take the side trip to Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee by carriage; the others, to make the excursion through the interior of Palestine on horseback, camping on the way, and rejoining the main party in Jerusalem.
At noon on Wednesday the Moltke anchored in the unprotected harbor of Jaffa over a mile from the shore, as it is not safe for a large steamer to approach nearer. This was the landing place in the Mediterranean most dreaded by the tourists; for we had heard of jagged rocks that projected their black heads from the water, and of rough seas that on windy days broke over the rocks making the passage from the vessel to the dock very dangerous. The weather, however, was fair and the sea unusually smooth that noon as the tourists one by one dropped from the platform at the foot of the stairway into the row-boats as they rose on the swell of the waves. The boats were large and built expressly for this dangerous harbor. Each boat was managed by eight men, six rowers, a helmsman, and a bowman, and each boat carried about twenty passengers. As the Syrians labored hard at the oars they chanted continually a prayer to Allah for a fair passage.
After safely landing at the stone steps of the dock, we proceeded through the streets to the special train which was waiting to carry us up to Jerusalem, not stopping to visit the traditional house of Simon, the tanner, where the Apostle Peter had a vision on the roof.
"The oranges of Jaffa are noted as being the finest in the world. Don't fail to buy some," said a gentleman from California. "We raise good oranges in my state, but ours are not quite equal to those of Jaffa."
Arab men and boys surrounded the tourists at the station offering carefully packed baskets, each containing two or three dozen fresh, juicy oranges at what seemed an extremely low price. When the train started every compartment contained one or more baskets of the delicious fruit.
The journey from Jaffa to Jerusalem was literally "up;" for the Sacred City is nearly three thousand feet above the sea, and four hours was required for the trip of fifty-four miles. After leaving Jaffa the train passed through a succession of interesting panoramic views: gardens where richness of soil was manifested by the rankness of the growth of the plants and flowers; groups of palm trees with long, rough trunks, and tufted heads high in the air; long rows of tall, narrow-leaved, evergreen eucalyptus trees; orchards of orange trees where yellow fruit clustered amid the glossy dark green leaves; orchards of almond trees covered with a delicate pink bloom; and orchards of gray olive trees with a carpet of grass underneath, as beautiful as a park; bare fig trees whose time for leaf and bloom had not yet come; and fences of huge leaved prickly cactus plants protecting garden plots.
"What queer looking plows they have," said a companion, as we noticed near the train a plowman who had stopped his camel, and thrown his plow, which looked like a crooked root with a point, out of the furrow, while he gazed at the passing train. "The first gardener must have obtained a plow of the same kind from the original forest."
In stretches of sod the rich brown earth was being turned up by farmers with teams of camels, one great camel to each little wooden plow, or with teams composed of an ox and an ass hitched together. In one field twelve camel teams were plowing the sod. We use the word field, but there were no fences except the cactus hedges around small plots. The farm boundaries from ancient times have been marked by corner stones to which Moses referred when he gave the law: "Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor's landmark." We were in the midst of historic places mentioned in the Bible. To the north lay the fertile level fields of the Plain of Sharon. Fields of young wheat were beautified by the roses of Sharon,—red poppies with black centres and short stems,—which dotted the carpet of green with flecks of red. At Lydda, where Peter healed the man who had the palsy, Arab urchins begged the passengers to buy little bunches of the red poppies and other wild flowers that they offered for sale. To the south stretched the Plain of Philistia, the scene of Samson's adventures, and the fields through which he sent the three hundred foxes with firebrands tied to their tails. In that direction also lay battle fields where Philistines and Israelites struggled for supremacy.
The towns and villages on the route were small and mean. The better buildings were constructed of stone with flat stone roofs, but many were made of mud with mud roofs on which a crop of grass was growing. After the first hour's ride, fertile rolling plains succeeded the level sandy loam. When about thirty miles from Jaffa, after a two hours' ride, the hill country of Judea was entered. From that point the train traveled slowly and laboriously up the hills and mountains by steep gradients. Overhead in the limestone cliffs were many caves, one of which was pointed out as Samson's Grotto. Whenever there was any soil among the rocks and stones, the grass grew luxuriantly, making good pasture for the herds of nimble-footed black goats that picked their way along the steep and rocky mountain side. The red rose of Sharon grew in profusion and took possession of the uncultivated ground around the trees and between the rocks. At many places the abundance of these poppies and the beauty of their groupings gave to the land the appearance of a park planned and laid out by a landscape gardener. Nearer the summit the hills were bleak and barren. Here was the village of Bittir, a group of little stone houses clinging to the mountain side, where terraces supported by stone walls held up small gardens on which cauliflower and other vegetables were growing.
"For the past hour," said a lady who had been intently gazing out of the window of the car, "yes, for a longer time, I have been looking forward expecting to see a city burst forth impressively into sight, a city upon a mountain top, 'beautiful for situation.' Now the conductor tells us that we are nearing our destination, and yet cliffs and hills are all that we can see. Where is Jerusalem? 'A city set upon a hill cannot be hid.'"
"You have not read your Bible closely," replied a minister in our compartment. "David said, 'The mountains are round about Jerusalem,' As it was then so we shall find it now, on hills surrounded by other hills. Do not expect to see the city of Solomon's time which the Queen of Sheba came to visit. Its glory departed eighteen centuries ago. I fear that your imagination has led you to expect more than the modern Turkish town which we shall find, and you may feel like lamenting with Jeremiah, 'Is this the city that men call the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth?'"
It was not until we were approaching the railway station, which is situated in the suburbs about a mile from the city, that we obtained a view of the yellow walls and buildings of the Holy City, and the sight then was not impressive, as we had expected. Then at the station, amid the noisy cries of many Arab drivers, we obtained seats in carriages, and were driven at breakneck speed over a good road down into the valley of Hinnom and up a long hill to the Jaffa gate.
The party had been divided by the managers into sections for the various hotels, and each tourist had been given a card with the name of his hotel. Those who were to go to hotels outside the walls of the city proceeded directly to their destination in carriages. Those who were to stay within the walls descended from the conveyances in front of the Grand Hotel just within the Jaffa gate, and went the rest of the way on foot through narrow streets that carriages could not enter. The writer was assigned to the Casa Nova, or Hospitium Franciscanum, a monastery or hospital built expressly for the accommodation of pilgrims to the Holy City, and controlled and managed by Franciscan monks.
On Wednesday evening, after our arrival at Jerusalem, we visited a small store to purchase a guide-book of the city. But the merchant would not accept our French or English money, and we had no Turkish money. We laid the book down, but the dealer said, "You take the book and pay me another time."
"Are you willing to trust a stranger?" we inquired.
"Yes!" he replied, "I trust American any time. You may buy goods, all you want, three hundred dollars' worth. I trust you. When you go home to America, then you send me the money."
"Were you never cheated?" we asked.
"No," he answered, "I trust American many time. American always pay, but me not trust Frenchman; Frenchman forget."
Glad to know that our countrymen bear such a good reputation, we took the book without giving our names, merely telling him that we were staying at the Casa Nova and would pay the next day.
In our country we can travel from Maine to California with one kind of money. All that is necessary is to have plenty of it. But in these foreign lands the currency changes as we move from one country to another, so that we may have a pocket full of money and yet not be able to pay our bills. At Funchal, Portuguese money was current; at Gibraltar and at Malta, English money; at Granada, Spanish; at Algiers, French; at Athens, Greek; at Constantinople and Jerusalem, Turkish. In Cairo another coinage was current, and in Italy the Turkish and Egyptian coins left over had to be sold to the money changers or taken home as souvenirs. In large cities the hotels and larger stores accepted American, English, and French money at its value, but small dealers and individuals knew nothing of foreign coins and wanted payment in their own currency. As it was desirable at all times to have plenty of small coins on hand, the tourists soon became acquainted with the value of shillings and pence, francs and centimes, drachmae and lepta, piasters and paras. On our arrival at each port the managers of the tour and the purser of the vessel obtained a large number of small coins of that particular country so that the needs of the tourists could be promptly supplied.
Our room at the Hospice was rather cold but my room-mate said there was one compensation, we need have no fear of the hotel's burning down and so need not be anxious as to the location of the fire escapes before retiring. The Casa Nova is a stone building with stone stairways and floors. In our room there was nothing inflammable but the mosquito nettings and lace draperies over the iron bedsteads. Two candles furnished us with light, hempen rugs covered portions of the black and white marble floor, a gilded crucifix hung on the painted stone wall, and two chairs, a small table, and a washstand completed the furnishing.
Early Thursday morning, with bright anticipations, we started for a visit to Bethlehem. The drive of six miles over a good limestone road was one of much interest. Our dragoman pointed out the well where the wise men, stooping to drink, saw the reflection of the star in the water before they beheld the star itself in the sky.
"Why, how could that be?" inquired one of the party. "I thought the wise men were following the star."
But the guide did not attempt to explain. It was his business to state facts in which he had believed all his life; not to enter into disputes with unbelievers as to the truth of his statements. He showed us a great rock in the road where Elijah, wearied in his flight, lay down to rest. It seemed to be a hard bed for a tired man, but we remembered that in olden times rocks and caves were selected for sleeping-places and stones often served for pillows.
Camels were so numerous on the road that they lost their novelty,—camels single and camels in trains, with great hampers swinging at their sides laden with sacks of lime or charcoal, with building stone or cauliflower, with fish or flagstones, with chunks of wood and gnarled roots, with bags of grain and crates of vegetables, each camel carrying a quantity about equal to a one-horse wagon load. From a hill-top we caught a glimpse of the Dead Sea lying far below us in the valley twenty miles away. We met women on their way to market with heavy baskets of cauliflower and other vegetables poised on their heads, men bending under distended goat-skins filled with water or wine strapped to their shoulders, donkeys bearing basket-panniers filled with produce or laden with bags of grain heaped on their backs, Greek priests in black robes and high hats carrying white umbrellas for protection from the sun, and turbaned Arabs in brown robes plodding along with staves in their hands.
The mountainous suburbs of the city are composed of limestone, and the limestone rocks cropped out on every side. The rocks protruding from the soil were of a light gray color, but the broken rocks, the fences, and the houses built of stone had changed to a light yellow shade from exposure to the weather. The fields were covered with stones except where little patches had been cleared with great labor and the stones built into fences surrounding the small plots. The hill-sides were almost bare of soil. Where the stones had been cleared away, the soil of decomposed limestone produced a luxuriant growth. The cauliflower carried to market was the finest we had ever seen. The few scattered olive trees in the valleys appeared strong and healthy in their light green foliage. The fig trees were bare, but occasional groups of almond trees were covered with pink bloom.
During our drive we saw peasants plowing little plots with single donkeys and crooked wooden plows, or digging between rocks and around grape vines with clumsy, heavy-looking hoes. The grape vines were trimmed back to within three or four feet of the ground and were not supported or trellised. Women gathered the trimmings of the vines, bound them into fagots, placed the fagots on their heads, and carried them away to the city for firewood. Not a sprig was wasted. The old roots that were dug out of the ground were borne away in the same manner. In a country without forests and without coal everything that will burn is utilized. We saw girls carrying flat baskets on their heads and the guide satisfied our curiosity by explaining that the baskets contained dried cakes of camels' dung which the girls had gathered and were taking home for fuel.
Rachel's tomb, situated four miles from Jerusalem, and about two miles from Bethlehem, recalled to memory the old love story: "And Jacob served Laban seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had for her."
Cut in the rock, near Bethlehem is an ancient well, known as the well of David. From that point we obtained a good view of the square stone houses of the little town of Bethlehem, which is built on a sloping hill-side, and of the great spreading Church of the Nativity, which is the dominating feature of the place. Beyond the city we saw a verdant plain, where possibly Ruth gleaned, and, farther away, the hills where probably David led his flock to "green pastures" and the shepherds of later days received the "tidings of great joy."
In the narrow streets of Bethlehem our driver shouted to men, women, and children to clear the way and make room for the carriages to pass through, snapping his whip at them if they did not quickly obey. When we arrived at the old Church of the Holy Nativity we were told that this venerable place is in reality a group of buildings, the original edifice having been built fifteen or more centuries ago, and many additions having been made in after years. We saw a structure of yellowish stone walls pierced with small windows which appeared to us more like a prison or a fortress than a place of worship. There were no stained glass windows. There was no imposing portal opening into the temple. On entering the sacred enclosure we passed through a door in the stone wall so low that we were compelled to stoop and so narrow that but one at a time might enter.
"This doorway," said the guide, "should remind the pilgrims that the birthplace of the Savior is to be visited with humility and reverence."
In the large, time-worn interior of the church, faded mosaics, huge columns, and stone floors presented a rather gloomy aspect. The tourists hastened through and descended to the crypt or vault underneath the church. This vault was paved with marble, and on a raised platform in the centre was a large, handsomely decorated altar. Suspended from the ceiling were many ancient lamps of curious make and smaller lamps hanging in festoons. On one side was a small room, called the Chapel of the Nativity, where thirty gold and silver lamps threw a dim, soft light on the scene below. In the pavement before an altar was a star of silver, and the words:
"Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus est."
Opposite and near the Chapel of the Nativity was another small, rock-walled room called the Chapel of the Manger. In this room the dim light of golden lamps revealed a white marble manger in which a large wax doll reclined.
"The original wooden manger or cradle in which the infant Jesus reposed was taken to Rome," explained the guide. "If you return by way of Rome you may see it in the great church of Santa Maria Maggiore."
"The care of the chapels, shrines, and holy places of the Church of the Nativity," he continued, "is appointed to the Latin, Greek, and Armenian churches. The space inside the building is divided. Each sect has its own particular portion to care for, and an intense jealousy exists among the rival religious bodies. If the rug of the Armenian is accidentally pushed over the Latin line, the action is resented. If the broom of the Latin while cleansing intrudes upon the Greek domain, there is trouble. Disputes have arisen from very slight causes, blows have been exchanged, rioting, blood-shed, and murder have followed. Priests at times have fought with priests until the Turkish soldiers intervened. Now, by the Sultan's orders, Moslem guards are stationed in the church to restrain the impetuous caretakers and prevent disturbances."
In one of the underground chapels of the church, a dark and gloomy cavern cut out of the solid rock, the guide said: "In this grotto Saint Jerome passed thirty years fasting, praying, meditating, and writing. His last communion was taken here."
We remembered that Domenichino's celebrated painting in the Vatican at Rome, called the "Last Communion of St. Jerome," represented the aged saint dying amid luxurious surroundings.
When we came out of the church, bright-faced boys and girls urged us to buy their wares or accompany them to the shops. The little town appeared to prosper from the manufacture and sale of souvenirs of carved mother-of-pearl and olive-wood. Crosses, crucifixes, rosaries, beads, glove-boxes, writing desks, inkstands, napkin rings, paper knives, and forks were offered as genuine wood from the olive trees of David's town, and the mother-of-pearl mementoes were carved with minute scenes of events in the life of Christ and of places in the Holy Land.
After the purchase of olive wood souvenirs had been made, the drive was continued to the Pools which Solomon had built to collect water for use in the Temple. These are situated among the hills about eight miles from Jerusalem. The stone walls of the reservoirs were so well constructed by Solomon's architects three thousand years ago that to-day the masonry is in almost perfect condition. The Pools, we were informed are not in use at the present time, although water is conveyed in pipes to Jerusalem from springs near-by.
The glare of the sun on the white road and gray rocks, the lack of green in the bare landscape, and the fine dust from the limestone caused a slight smarting in the eyes of the travelers. So it was with relief that in the suburbs of the city, about half a mile from the Damascus gate, we descended a long flight of stone steps into the shade of an excavation in the rocks about twenty feet in depth. This open chamber, known as the Tombs of the Kings, is about ninety feet square. At one side is a doorway in the rock four feet high and thirty inches wide, and beside the doorway stood a huge stone, rounded at the corners, that might, by the united efforts of several men, be rolled in front of the entrance so as to close it completely. We crawled through the hole in the rock and entered a cavern. The candles of the guides revealed on each side of the cavern small rooms or caves containing shelves or apertures which had been used as the sepulchres of the Kings.
Jerusalem, situated on four hills, is surrounded by hills which are separated from the city and from each other by deep valleys or gulleys. We drove from Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives over a well constructed modern limestone road that wound among these hills and valleys in long curves and horseshoes in order to reach a place that seemed almost within a stone's throw.
"The summit of this round-topped ridge, which is called the Mount of Olives, is owned by Russia," explained the guide, "and the Russians have erected an observation tower, a chapel, and other buildings upon it. These buildings are surrounded by a courtyard enclosed within high stone walls, and a fee must be paid at the gate in order to gain admittance. Within the court a small circular pavilion covers the place from which, it is claimed, the ascension of the Savior was made."
As we approached the gate, a group of Russian men and women were seen coming sadly away. We were informed later that these peasants, after tramping a long distance on a holy pilgrimage in order to kneel down and kiss the stone that marked the sacred spot of the Ascension of their Lord, were refused admittance because they had not the required fee to pay for entrance. In a Roman Catholic church, built on the spot on Olivet where Christ is said to have taught His disciples to pray, the Lord's Prayer is displayed on charts in large letters in thirty-six different languages, so that pilgrims from all parts of the world can read the prayer in their own tongue.
From the summit of Olivet, which is two hundred feet above the city of Jerusalem, we looked down over the Holy City; but a finer panoramic view of the surrounding country was obtained afterwards from the Russian observation tower. The climbing of the two hundred stone steps which lead to the top of the tower was not easy, but we felt amply repaid by the magnificence of the view. Near the foot of the mountain lay the Garden of Gethsemane. Beyond and four hundred feet below us, the little brook Kedron trickled through the narrow Valley of Jehoshaphat. Across the valley on the opposite heights of Mount Moriah, only half a mile away in a direct line, prominent in the foreground, stood the Mosque of Omar, and back of it rose the square roof and round domes of the city buildings. Away off to the east, deep down in the valley, we could see a portion of the Dead Sea and could trace the Valley of the River Jordan.
We walked from the summit of the Mount of Olives down a steep, rocky, crooked, narrow lane, hemmed in by stone walls, to the foot of the slope, as it is considered too dangerous for the tourists to remain in the carriages while descending this short cut to a lower road. The carriages rejoined us later. At the foot of the hill there was a piece of land about half an acre in extent enclosed by a white stone fence. Within the enclosure was a garden surrounded by an iron fence. Between the stone fence and the iron railing was a wide path. Within the garden were eight gnarled olive trees that appeared to be of great age, and flower beds which were carefully tended and guarded by Franciscan monks. It was not necessary for the guide to tell us that this was the Garden of Gethsemane. Small shrines with pictures above them, fourteen in all, representing the fourteen traditionary stations of the Via Dolorosa, were arranged at intervals along the path around the garden. Before these shrines pilgrims were kneeling in prayer. As we were leaving the garden an old monk with tonsured head, in long brown robe girt about with a hempen cord and having sandals laced on his bare feet, presented each, of us with a flower from the garden and a few leaves from one of the ancient olive trees.
The Tomb and Chapel of the Virgin, which is but a short distance from Gethsemane, had a venerable aspect, and the olive trees surrounding it were patriarchal in appearance. We crossed the sunken court and descended a broad staircase of sixty steps to a gloomy chapel which seemed to have been excavated in the rock.
"These tombs on the right are the tombs of the parents of the Virgin, Joachim and Anna," said the guide as we halted in the dim light. "That tomb on the left is the tomb of Joseph, the husband of Mary. The small chapel at the end of the grotto contains the empty tomb of the risen virgin."
On the road to Bethany we passed many trains of pack mules, twenty or thirty in a train, and caravans of camels striding along in single file. A light rope or chain connected the leading camel with the others and kept them from straggling.
The Arab who drove our carriage told us that he was a scholar. He explained by stating that he could converse fluently in four languages, besides his own native Arabic tongue. These languages were Turkish, Russian, Latin, and French, and in addition, he knew enough English to give some information to the tourists. The linguistic ignorance of the occupants of his carriage seemed to impress him with the idea that education in America is neglected.
Bethany, barely two miles distant from Jerusalem, is a poor little village with steep, rough, dirty lanes and a number of old and dilapidated small stone houses amid broken walls of other houses which evidently have been equally insignificant. One of these piles was pointed out by the Bethany guides as the ruins of the home of Mary and Martha, and we were then taken to a narrow lane where a dark and slimy stairway led down to the reputed tomb of Lazarus. Our dragoman, who firmly believed in the traditions of the country, said that he could not vouch for the statements made by the Bethany local guides.
Returning to Jerusalem, we visited the so-called palace of Caiaphas, the High Priest. This palace is an excavated ruin. Steps lead down to the marble floor, which is fifteen or twenty feet below the present level of the street.
"The circle on the pavement," said the custodian, "marks the place where Peter stood with the soldiers, warming his hands by the little fire which they had kindled in a brazier, when he was accused by the maid of being a companion and follower of the Prisoner then on trial before the High Priest. The stone pillar that you see in the courtyard of the palace is the stone on which the cock was perched when its crowing quickened Peter's memory, softened his heart, and brought bitter tears to his eyes."
After leaving the palace we followed the guide through a rough narrow street to a view point on the wall. Far below us lay the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the village of Siloam, and the site of the pool to which Jesus sent the blind man to wash.
"The walk to the pool through the rough and crooked streets would be difficult now for a man with good sight," remarked one of the tourists, "how much more so would it be to a blind man groping his way."
Permission to visit the Temple Area, or Haram, as it is called by the Moslems, had been obtained from the Turkish authorities by the payment of heavy fees. We proceeded to that place on foot accompanied by the dragoman. At the gate of the Area the authorities furnished Moslem guides to conduct the visitors through the enclosure, and sent Turkish soldiers to accompany the party to restrain any possible irreverent or unseemly conduct while within the holy precincts.
"The Temple Area, which probably covers the place where was once the Court of the Temple," explained the dragoman, as we halted within the grounds, "is thirty-five acres in extent, about one thousand feet wide by two thousand feet in length, and is surrounded by high walls. It is revered by the Moslems as one of their most holy places. This is the Mount Moriah hallowed by the sacrifices of Abraham, glorified by the prayers of King David, consecrated by the Temple of Solomon, and made additionally sacred by the ascension of the Prophet of Allah. The Moslems forbid the entrance of Jews into the Haram, although the Jews have as great reverence for the place as the Moslems."
In the centre of the Area, on a raised embankment or platform, paved with marble slabs, stood a handsome octagonal building covered below the window line with marbles of various hues and above that line by decorated tiles of blue-and-white porcelain edged with green. As we stood on the marble pavement and gazed at the tiling mellowed by age, and at the round lead-covered dome above, the guide continued his explanations.
"This edifice, called by the Moslems the Dome of the Rock," said he, "but better known as the Mosque of Omar, is built on the site of the Temple of Herod, and also on the site of the Temple of Solomon, which preceded that of Herod. Each side of the octagon is sixty-six feet in length, and the top of the dome is one hundred and fifteen feet above this platform."
Underneath a small pavilion at the entrance, attendants laced slippers to our feet and then conducted us into the Mosque. On the floor lay precious Oriental rugs. Overhead in the dome, the light entered through richly stained glass windows, tinting and beautifying the interior and disclosing the mosaic decorations of the ceiling and the Arabic inscriptions on the walls. At one side was an exquisitely carved wooden pulpit inlaid with ivory and mother-of-pearl. In the centre of the Mosque a great rock, at least fifty feet long and almost as wide, rose to the height of our heads. A beautifully designed, gilded and bronzed iron railing prevented infidel fingers from touching the rock.
"This mountain-top, the crown of Mount Moriah," said the Moslem dragoman, as we stood reverently before it, "is the place where the arm of Abraham was stayed as he lifted the knife to slay his son. This rock, in David's time, was the threshing floor of Araunah, whose oxen trampled out the grain upon it until the time when King David purchased the land and built here an altar to the Lord. When King Solomon erected the temple upon the site prepared and dedicated by his father David, this Holy Rock became the altar upon which the priests of the temple offered sacrifices. When Mohammed, the Prophet of God, took his flight to Heaven he rose from this sanctified place, which is nearer to Heaven than any other spot on earth, leaving as a memorial the impression of his foot which you now see there in the rock. The print of the hand in the rock near the footprint was made by the angel Gabriel when he prevented the rock from following the Prophet in his ascent."
At the foot of the flight of steps which the tourists descended on their way from the marble platform of the Dome of the Rock to the Mosque of El Aksa, the tourists encountered Turkish photographers, who, hoping that the Americans would gladly make use of their services, had been patiently awaiting their arrival. But the tourists were well supplied with their own outfits, and these amateurs, disdaining the offered professional services, secured snapshots themselves.
"What!" said one of the amateurs indignantly, "let the Turks take us? No! let some of the party stay on the steps and we will take the picture and include the Turks in it."
While returning through the extensive grounds of the Haram, one of the tourists lighted a pipe. Immediately a Moslem guard approached and with unintelligible words, made it known by his frowning face and threatening gestures, that the pipe must be extinguished.
THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE.
The floor of the vast Church of the Holy Sepulchre is below the level of Christian Street. We descended to the church through a narrow alley about a hundred feet in length, which by slopes and steps led downward. On each side of this alley peddlers had stands for the sale of beads, rosaries, crucifixes, candles, and souvenirs, which they earnestly besought the visitors to buy. The church is so surrounded by other buildings that it could not be seen until we arrived at the foot of the alley, where a few steps to the left led down to a wide stone paved court. Even then only the rough stone facade and the top of the dome were visible. The door was guarded by Turkish soldiers, but they did not object to our entrance.
Within the Church, in the centre of the vestibule, we paused beside a marble slab six feet in length, elevated slightly above the stone floor. A canopy overspread the marble and at the sides of the canopy stood six immense ornamented silver candlesticks rising higher than our heads. In these were tall candles.
"This is the Stone of Unction," said the guide. "On this marble the body of Jesus lay while it was anointed for burial. Two of these candlesticks belong to the Greek Church, two to the Armenian Church, and two to the Latin Church. In this holy edifice each religious sect claims the privilege of taking part in the worship and in the care of the sacred places."
Not far from the vestibule the guide halted, and pointing to a circle on the stone floor, said: "This circle marks the place where the Mother of Jesus stood at the time of the anointing."
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we ascertained, is composed of many parts. A rotunda, sixty-six feet in diameter, occupies the center. Above this rises the dome, supported by eighteen large piers. On one side of this round room, an opening leads into a Greek church; on the other side, entrances between the piers lead into small chapels. Grouped around outside of these, but connected with the central rotunda, church, and small chapels, are other chapels, rooms, and sacred places, the whole covering a space of over two acres. In the centre of the rotunda, directly underneath the dome, stands a small marble building twenty-six feet long by eighteen feet broad, richly decorated with carvings, inscriptions, and figures of angels. At one end of this building there is a small door guarded by huge bronze candlesticks ten feet in height and over-hung with gold and silver lamps of curious oriental design. Three golden crosses surmount the front of this miniature building: one of Greek form furnished by the Greek Church; one of Roman form, by the Latins; and one of the Syrian shape, by the Armenians.
"This small building," said the guide, "encloses the place of the Sepulchre. The interior is divided into two parts. The first you will enter is the Chapel of the Angel. The Tomb of the Savior is in the second part."
Passing between the lines of huge candlesticks and underneath the clusters of overhanging lamps, we entered the small doorway and were in the Chapel of the Angel. In the centre of this small room stands the stone upon which, the guide said, the angel sat after rolling it away from the entrance to the Savior's tomb. Stooping low we passed singly through the narrow opening to the tomb. This is a small chamber about six feet square, the floor and walls of which are covered with white marble. At the right hand side of the tomb a marble slab about two feet wide extends the length of the chamber. This marble is much worn by the millions of kisses that have been tearfully and reverently pressed upon it by the pilgrims of many centuries. Two score of golden lamps, continually burning overhead, shed a soft but brilliant light upon the tomb. Our visit to the interior of the tomb was short; for not more than five persons may stand in it at one time, and other pilgrims from other lands were waiting their turn to enter.
For a small fee the local guides provided us with tapers, for some of the chapels and grottoes within the vast cluster of the buildings of the church were dark, and in the gloomy recesses the holy places could not be seen without a light. In the dark grotto of the Syrian chapel our tapers shed a dim light on two tombs, which the guide said were those of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.
"This is the Chapel of the Apparition," explained the guide, after leading us to another part of the church. "Here the Lord appeared to Mary, His mother, after the Resurrection. In a niche beside the high altar is a hole in the wall. If you hold your taper up to it you may see within the wall a part of the column to which the Savior was bound during the Flagellation. You may touch the sacred column with this round stick, provided for the purpose, if you wish to do so. The stick, being worn smooth by the numberless kisses that have been pressed upon it by the pilgrims after touching the holy column, can do it no harm."
In a vestibule outside the chapel a star in the marble floor marks the place where Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection, and a second star a few feet beyond marks the spot where Mary stood when she recognized the risen Lord.
We passed from the rotunda into the Church of the Crusaders or Greek Church, through a wide opening directly opposite the door of the Holy Sepulchre. In this large chapel the walls and ceilings, the seats of the choir, the high altar, and the seat of the Patriarch in the rear of the altar, are composed of precious woods beautifully carved and ornamented with gold and silver and jewels. Hundreds of superb golden and silver lamps, varying in form and design, hang suspended from the ceiling at various heights. In the centre of the chapel, standing in the middle of a fancifully designed circle on the checkered marble floor, is an urn containing a marble ball.
"This ball marks the centre of the world," explained the guide, as we halted beside the urn. "About eight centuries ago certain wise and holy men ascertained, by calculation or by inspiration, that this spot is the exact centre of the world. It was marked in this manner so that the pilgrims coming here from all parts of the earth might see it and carry the knowledge of the wonderful discovery back with them to their various countries."
Beyond the Greek Chapel we descended, by aid of our burning tapers, a flight of thirty stone steps to the ancient, dimly-lit Chapel of St. Helena.
"When the Empress Helena was inspired to search for the true cross," said the guide, "she employed workmen to excavate here. There is the seat on which she sat while superintending the search, and there below us is the excavation in which she found the three crosses, the crown of thorns, the nails, and the inscription."
We peered into the darkness below but could see only a gloomy hole about eight feet deep and twenty feet across, a short flight of steps cut in the rock, and an altar at one side.
Reascending to the main floor, we halted at the Chapel of the Mocking. There the guide showed us the stone upon which the Jews made Jesus sit while they crowned Him with thorns. The guide then led the way up a flight of steps to the Chapel of Golgotha, which is within the great structure of the church but upon the summit of a rock fifteen feet higher than the main floor. At one side of this chapel, where the rock itself projects slightly above the floor, a figure of the Christ in dying agony is suspended upon the cross, and at the foot of the cross stand the figures of Mary, His mother, and St. John, both dejected and sorrowful. These figures appear to be made of gold and silver. The crowns on their heads are covered with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and other precious stones. A hole in the rock surrounded by a gold plate marks the place where the original cross stood. On the right and left are the holes where stood the crosses of the thieves. A movable gold plate covers the crevice in the rock caused by the earthquake. In this chapel the pictures on the walls are encircled with diamonds and other precious stones. Adjoining this room is the Chapel of the Crucifixion, where, as the guide informed us, Christ was nailed to the cross, and close by is the place where the Virgin Mary stood during the Crucifixion.
Descending a flight of steps to the main floor, we entered a small cavern-like chamber.
"This," said the guide, "is the Tomb of Adam, and the little chapel beyond is the Tomb of Melchizedek."
When one of the ladies, doubting the truth of these traditions, excitedly began to remonstrate with the guide, a clergyman in the party said to her: "It is not worth while to enter into a dispute with the guide. You cannot convince him that his assertions are incorrect. Let us leave the topic for discussion in the evening when we cannot go out sight-seeing."
We departed from the Church of the Sepulchre with the intention of returning without a guide to inspect portions of the building more leisurely. Preceded by the guide, we walked through the narrow Via Dolorosa, pausing a moment at each of the fourteen stations, which mark the location of the historical and traditional events that occurred in the street of sorrow. After the guide had explained the route, one of the tourists devoutly said: "Little did I think a year ago that I should walk along the very path that has been stained by the blood drops of the Savior on His way to the Cross, and tread perhaps on the very stones that His sacred feet have pressed."
A few minutes later we were admitted to a convent on the Via Dolorosa. One of the gray-gowned nuns, after exhibiting and offering for sale laces and embroideries made by the sisters, led us to an excavation in the rear of the convent. There a courteous Abbess met us, and said: "The excavation made here uncovered a part of the original Via Dolorosa. The old way lies buried twenty feet below the level of the modern street known by that name, and at this place is one hundred feet to the right of the one on which you were walking."
"You must bear in mind the history of Jerusalem," continued the Abbess in reply to our questions. "Forty years after the Crucifixion Titus captured the city, demolished the buildings, and slaughtered the inhabitants. Jerusalem became 'heaps' and a 'desolation' as predicted by the holy prophets. For a century thereafter a village of huts built upon the ruins occupied the site of the city; then the idolatrous Emperor Hadrian rebuilt the city, laying out the streets to suit his pagan ideas, and for two centuries it was a pagan city whose people were devoted to the worship of strange gods and regarded not the sacred places. Three hundred years after the Ascension of our Savior, the blessed St. Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, made a pilgrimage from Constantinople to Jerusalem. Inspired with holy zeal, she gave orders for the erection of churches on the sites of the Nativity at Bethlehem and the Ascension at Olivet. She prayerfully sought for the sacred tomb in which the Lord had been laid, and her efforts were rewarded by the finding of the true cross. She cleared away the accumulated rubbish and built the chapel on the holy ground, and that chapel has grown into the great Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Afterwards the locations of the events on the way to the cross were marked on the modern street to correspond as nearly as possible to the places on the ancient street which lay buried many feet below. The finding of a part of the true Via Dolorosa in the excavation within our enclosure has been a blessing to the convent."
The Abbess deserved and received more than spoken thanks for her courtesy. We realized then the truth of her last words.
During our walk we visited an old Armenian church, which was gaudily decorated with red brocade hangings and very antiquated paintings quaintly representing scenes from Bible history. In the court-yard of the church a young Armenian kindly offered us a pitcher of water, which he said had been brought from a spring outside the city for the use of the monks in the adjoining convent. We received it most gratefully, for the drinking water of Jerusalem is noted for impurity, and, as we had been cautioned against it, we had abstained from drinking water for three days.
"Will it be difficult for the tourists to find their way through the narrow crooked streets of the city without a guide?" inquired one of the ladies of the dragoman at the noon hour.
"Oh no!" he replied. "Please open your map. I notice you have one. You see that the city is divided into four marked sections by the two principal streets which cross each other at right angles: David street extending from the Jaffa Gate at the west, through the center of the city, to the Temple Area at the east; and Damascus street extending from the Damascus Gate on the north, through the center of the city, to the Zion Gate on the south. The bazaars and little stores that tourists visit are on these two streets, on Christian street near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and in the vicinity of the Jaffa Gate. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is in the north-west section of the city, known as the Christian Quarter; the Via Dolorosa passes through the north-east section, called the Moslem Quarter; the Temple Area is on the east side; the Wailing Place of the Jews is near the south-west corner of the Temple Area, in the south-east or Jewish Quarter; and the Citadel is in the south-west of Armenian Quarter. Jerusalem is not a large city. David Street is only half a mile in length, and Damascus Street from the gate on the north to the gate on the south is but three-fourths of a mile long."
"This afternoon," said the guide at the noon hour on Friday, "those of you who desire to do so may go with me to the Wailing Place of the Jews. The Turkish authorities do not permit Jews to enter the Temple Area so the Jews, on Friday afternoons, congregate in a narrow court, outside and adjoining the western wall which encloses the Temple Area, to mourn over the downfall of their beloved Zion and pray for the return of Jewish dominion over the land of their fathers, and for the renewal of the ancient glory of the City of David."
When we arrived at the Wailing Place, we found about a hundred Jewish men, women, and children assembled in the court, with faces turned to the wall, the men at one end of the court, the women at the other. Some of the mourners pressed their faces against the wall, kissing it and muttering prayers; some, as the guide explained to us, were reading the Talmud; some reciting verses from the Lamentations of Jeremiah; and some chanting the penitential Psalms of David. Others we saw weeping, the tears running down their faces, while one or two looked around with curious gaze at the strangers.
Thence we returned through portions of the Mohammedan and Jewish quarters of the city. The narrow streets through which we passed,—if passage-ways ten feet wide may be called streets,—are lined with little stores. The stocks of provisions, groceries, bread, vegetables, and general merchandise for native consumption are displayed in the open fronts of the shallow store-rooms and the proprietors sit or stand outside waiting for customers, like huge spiders waiting for their prey, or with loud voices and many gesticulations bargain with the buyers.
The streets of the Mohammedan Quarter are filthy; those of the Jewish Quarter are worse.
"Are these alleys ever swept or cleaned?" inquired one of the disgusted visitors.
"Oh, yes!" answered the guide, "the city, being built on the hills, has a natural drainage. Whenever there is a heavy rain the flowing water washes the streets."
"Well," said the visitor, "the city of Constantinople has the reputation of being the filthiest city in Europe, but it has a brigade of canine street cleaners to assist the rainfalls in cleaning the thoroughfares. If the city of Jerusalem were in Europe, it could easily claim the leading place in respect to filth; for dogs are few here and heavy rains do not appear to be frequent."
The tramp through these quarters was not agreeable to any of the senses. The ears were annoyed with the jargon of many dialects; the harsh voices of the natives, the loud exclamations of the dealers, and the whining cries of the beggars for backsheesh. The eyes were offended by the sight of the crowds of dirty beggars, who stretched out hands in appeal and tried to clutch the garments of the tourists with their dirty fingers, until disgust drove away all feelings of pity. The odors from the foul thoroughfares, from the messes of soft cheese and mixtures of eatables offered for sale, from the discarded and decaying cauliflower leaves under neath the stalls, from the pipes of Turkish tobacco, and from the donkeys and unbathed human beings with whom the tourists came in close contact, were inhaled with loathing. The uneven, stone-cobbled paving of the narrow streets without sidewalks, the steps up and down the grades, and the slippery condition of the muddy surface when wet caused weary feet.
"I will not give away another piaster," exclaimed a lady whose purse had been drawn upon frequently during our tramp. "I never met such disagreeable beggars. There were many beggars in other cities, but they did not whine and display their dirty rags so disgustingly as these do. I pitied those miserable lepers at the gate, but when I threw them some money they crowded around and tried to touch me with their diseased hands, instead of keeping at a distance and crying, 'Unclean! Unclean!'"
The beggars were the most objectionable feature of the city; they persisted in following visitors and it was almost impossible to drive them away. When rid of one lot, others soon took their place. Repulsive cripples insisted on calling attention to their deformities; sore-eyed children clamored for assistance; and little tots with dirty, fly-covered faces, shrilly prattled "Backsheesh." The streets were full of these wretched creatures; they congregated near the sacred places and there the clamor was so annoying that the tourists had little opportunity for contemplation until they were inside the buildings and away from the beggars' entreaties.
We made several visits to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in order to observe the people; to view quietly and leisurely the gorgeous decorations, especially those in the Greek Chapel where each visit disclosed new beauties; and to see the jewels, precious gems, and pictures encircled in diamonds, in the Chapel of Golgotha.
During one of these visits we sat for awhile on a bench by the wall of the church not far from the entrance to the Sepulchre. It was interesting to note the diversity of costumes and to watch the difference in the behavior of the tourists and pilgrims of the various nationalities.
"Notice that Russian group," said a companion as a party of Russian pilgrims entered the church.
These people from the North, long-haired, heavy-bearded, long-booted, heavy-coated men, and short-frocked, heavy-shod women had come there, we could plainly see, on a holy pilgrimage to the tomb of their Savior, believing and trusting in the reality of everything they saw. At the Stone of Unction they prostrated themselves and kissed the stone slab, and as they rose we could see the shaggy-bearded men wiping away the tears with their rough hands. Then, with uncovered heads, they slowly approached the entrance to the Sepulchre, bowed down, crossed themselves, knelt inside, and after kissing the marble tomb, backed out, bowing and crossing themselves until well away from the tomb.
"The people of other nationalities outwardly show more reverence for the sacred places than do those of our own country," commented my companion. "The guards have just censured that group of Americans on the other side of the room. I could not hear what was said, but the actions of the guards spoke louder than words, and I noticed that the loud talking ceased at once."
The party of Americans came laughing and chatting toward the Sepulchre and entered the tomb without any appearance of reverence in their manner,—a striking contrast to the devout Russian pilgrims. Other Americans, however, following, entered the tomb silently, and came out with a look of awe upon their faces. One of these told us that he had placed some postal cards and letters on the tomb to be blessed by contact with it before mailing them to his friends. Another had taken some bunches of flowers and laid them on the tomb for the same purpose before pressing them for souvenirs. A party of Germans stood near us for awhile, apparently arguing in low tones over some statement of the guide, and then quietly and with uncovered heads advanced and entered the Sepulchre. Some Italians knelt for a long time before the door, and Africans, Greeks, and natives of countries unknown to us, bowed or crossed their foreheads or breasts before the entrance. No other nationality, however, showed such zeal and intensity of feeling as did the Russian peasants.
On Saturday afternoon we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to be present at the special service held on that day. We found that the number of guards at the door had been doubled, and that companies of armed Turkish soldiers had been stationed within to preserve order in the assembled throng of sight-seers and worshipers and to keep a passage-way open through which the expected processions might pass. Pushing our way through the crowd we obtained a good position behind some Syrian women and children who, attired in gala costumes, held unlighted candles in their hands. At the Place of Sepulchre the oriental lamps above the door and the candles in the huge candlesticks had been lighted for the special service, brilliantly illuminating the marble front of that small building and bringing into clear relief every detail of the carved ornamentation. In the Greek Chapel the golden lamps and the candles at the altar were burning, and the chapel was ablaze with reflected glory.
"They are coming," whispered some one as the tramping of feet on the stone floor was heard.
A procession of Greek priests in gorgeous garments, swinging censers of smoking incense and bearing aloft a golden cross, marched to the Sepulchre, made obeisance there, then proceeded slowly around the building several times and entered the Greek Chapel where a short service was held. After the Greeks had left the building, a procession of Armenian priests appeared clad in black silk robes and peculiar looking black silk hoods draped over their heads. They were led by a venerable Patriarch arrayed in a magnificent embroidered robe. The Patriarch knelt and kissed the Stone of Unction, then the procession marched singing to the Sepulchre, which they entered, two priests at a time. After this part of the ceremony was concluded the priests marched singing three times around the room, while a bell in the gallery merrily clanged an accompaniment. When the Armenians had withdrawn, a procession of Roman Catholics entered singing. The chanting was accompanied softly by an organ in an adjoining chapel. The censer bearers waved their smoking bowls until the whole place was fragrant with the odor of the incense. Tonsured monks with sandaled feet, in gowns of brown, girt with hempen cord; censer bearers, cross bearers, brazier bearers, and choir boys in white embroidered surplices and skirts of scarlet; priests in black; bishops in purple; and higher dignitaries in capes of fur and long-trained robes,—all these marched round and round bearing lighted candles and chanting the ritual to the strains of the organ, and then proceeded toward the Latin Chapel. Our Syrian neighbor and her children lighted their candles and joined other worshipers with candles in the rear of this procession, and we followed to the Chapel where all knelt for service.
Palestine appeared to us to be a land where history and tradition were so curiously mixed that it was difficult to know where history ended and tradition began. During our tramps around the city of Jerusalem and its vicinity the guides pointed out the spring where the Virgin Mary washed the clothes of the infant Jesus in the same way that we saw other women in the East washing clothes on the banks of public streams; the hill of evil counsel where the avaricious disciple had been tempted by gold to betray his Master, and the field where the horror-stricken traitor ended his life; the place just without the Gate of St. Stephen where the sainted Stephen knelt and prayed for his persecutors until the stones cast by the infuriated Jews crushed out his life; the spot where the Apostle James was beheaded, commemorated by the church of St. James which now stands on that location; the large room outside the Zion Gate in which the Lord washed the disciples' feet and partook of the Last Supper; the tomb of the wayward, long-haired Absalom, and the mausoleum that covers the resting-place of his father, King David; the footprint of Jesus in the rock and the hole made by His staff on the Mount of Olives; the imprints of the Savior's feet in the rocky floor made during the time of the scourging; the site of the house in which the Virgin lived with the disciple John after the Crucifixion.
Palestine was noted in olden times as a land flowing with milk and honey. At the Casa Nova we drank of the milk, the milk of the black-haired goats that fed along the hillsides, and ate of the honey, which was of delicious flavor. The Syrian waiters who served our meals and also cared for our bedrooms were picturesquely dressed in long gowns of blue striped material falling to their ankles, and encircled with bright sashes, and these men at all times, whether making beds or serving tables, wore on their heads the red fez of Turkish subjects. The managers of the Hospice, the Franciscan monks, wore the garb in which the monks of that order are always seen, brown gown, rope girdle, rosary with pendant cross, and sandals.
On Sunday a cold rain fell during the day, making it unpleasant for sight-seeing and confining the travelers to the house during most of the day.
"How disappointing this is to be kept in the house by the rain," exclaimed a discontented tourist while watching the rain drops glide down the window-pane.
"Have you thought," said another who was busily engaged with guide-book and pencil, "that until to-day not one unpleasant day has interfered with our trip? The temperature has been neither uncomfortably warm nor disagreeably cold, but just delightful for the exertion of sight-seeing."
The tourists having made a request for some heat in the house, one of the gowned Arab servants carried a brazier into the reception room, placed a handful of charcoal in it and lighted a fire. As we gathered around the little fire trying to warm our hands, one could realize the scene many centuries ago, in the Palace of Caiaphas, when the soldiers coming in at midnight from the cold hills, kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and Peter, shivering from cold and fear, joined the group around the brazier to warm himself.
"I have been trying for the past three days," remarked an elderly clergyman, "to realize that these bare hills were once 'a land flowing with milk and honey,' producing 'grapes, pomegranates, and figs' in abundance. To-day I have been thinking of the changes that the tempests of a few short years have made in the hills of my own native state, New Hampshire, since the rapacious lumber-men have been denuding our mountains of the forests. There, the unprotected soil is being washed away by the heavy rains, gulleys have been formed, the brooks have diminished or dried up, and the part of our once beautiful White Mountains that has been cut over is desolate indeed. Now, since thinking of the changes that have occurred in a decade at home. I can more fully realize the changes that centuries have made here.
"Looking backward," said he, "I can see more clearly in my mind the picture that David saw with the eye of an artist, and described with the heart of a poet, when these bare, gray, rocky, treeless hills were crowned with forests that protected the soil from the beating storms; when these slopes, now furrowed with gulleys and spread with stones, were covered with orchards and clad with verdure, where the flocks might 'lie down midst pastures of tender grass;' and when these dried up waterways were purling brooks, where the flocks were 'led beside the waters of quietness.' I believe that David's description of this country was a true picture of the land as it appeared then. 'Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly; thou settlest the furrows thereof; thou makest it soft with showers; thou blessest the springing thereof. The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.'"
"In those days the vicinity of Jerusalem was beautiful with palm trees," continued the clergyman, "and the City of Palms was but fifteen miles away. Now the City of Palms is a squalid, unhealthful village, and in the vicinity of Jerusalem it is difficult to obtain a leaf of the palm."
The low spirits caused by the drizzling rain during our last evening in the Sacred City were increased by telegraphic news received from Jaffa. The telegram stated that the weather was stormy and the waves running high, and that if the sea did not subside we might not be able to embark. This information caused considerable anxiety among the timid members of the party and many surmises were made as to the developments of the following day. As usual, all the arrangements for our departure had been carefully made in advance by our managers. We were notified that the Syrian bell boys would waken us at five o'clock, and our baggage must be ready at five-thirty; breakfast would be served at six o'clock; the carriages would be at the Jaffa Gate at six-thirty; and the train would leave the Jerusalem station at seven.
CAIRO AND THE PYRAMIDS.
On Monday morning, after enjoying our usual breakfast at the Casa Nova of boiled eggs, rolls and pure honey, good coffee, and delicious oranges, we bade farewell to our tonsured hosts and the staff of gowned attendants. The carriages were waiting near the Jaffa Gate to convey us to the station. The train moved off promptly at the appointed hour, and looking backward, we took our farewell glimpse of the Tower of David and the yellow walls of the Holy City.