A Visit to the Holy Land
by Ida Pfeiffer
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Our conversation during dinner was most interesting. Some of the family spoke a little Italian, but this little was pronounced with such a strong Greek accent, that I was obliged to guess at the greater portion of what was said. No doubt they had to do the same with me. The worthy Consul, indeed, affirmed that he knew French very well; but for this evening at least, his memory seemed to have given him the slip. Much was spoken, and little understood. The same thing is said often to be the case in learned societies; so it was not of much consequence.

There are many different kinds of cucumber in Syria, where they are a favourite dish with rich and poor. I found numerous varieties, but none that I found superior to our German one. Another favourite fruit is the water-melon, here called "bastek." These also I found neither larger in size nor better flavoured than the melons I had eaten in southern Hungary.

The Consul's house seems sufficiently large; but the architectural arrangement is so irregular that the extended area contains but few rooms and very little comfort. The apartments are lofty and large, extremely ill-furnished, and not kept in the best possible order.

I slept in the apartment of the married daughter; but had it not been for the beds standing round, I should rather have looked upon it as an old store-closet than a lady's sleeping-room.

May 28th.

At five o'clock in the morning Mr. Bartlett's servant came to fetch me away, as we were at once to continue our journey. I betook myself to the house of the English Consul, where I found neither a horse nor any thing else prepared for our departure. It is necessary to look calmly upon these irregularities here in the East, where it is esteemed a fortunate occurrence if the horses and mukers (as the drivers of horses and donkeys are called) are only a few hours behind their time. Thus our horses made their appearance at half-past five instead of at four, the hour for which they had been ordered. Our baggage was soon securely fixed, for we left the greater portion of our effects at Joppa, and took with us only what was indispensably necessary.

As the clock struck six we rode out of the gate of Joppa, and immediately afterwards reached a large well with a marble basin. Near places of this description a great number of people are always congregated, and more women and girls are seen than appear elsewhere.

The dress of females belonging to the lower orders consists of a long blue garment fastened round the throat, and reaching below the ankle. They completely cover the head and face, frequently without even leaving openings for the eyes. Some females, on the other hand, go abroad with their faces totally uncovered. These are, however, exceptional cases.

The women carry their water-pitchers on their head or shoulder, as their ancestors have done for thousands of years, in the manner we find represented in the oldest pictures. But unfortunately I could discover neither the grace in their gait, the dignity in their movements, nor the physical beauty in their appearance, that I had been led to expect. On the contrary, I found squalor and poverty more prevalent than I had thought possible. We rode on amid the gardens, every moment meeting a little caravan of camels. Immediately beyond the gardens we descry the fruitful valley of Sharon, extending more than eight miles in length, and to a still greater distance in breadth. Here and there we find villages built on hills, and the whole presents the appearance of an extremely fertile and well-populated region. In all directions we saw large herds of sheep and goats; the latter generally of a black or brown colour, with long pendent ears.

The foreground of the picture is formed by the Judaean mountains, a range apparently composed of a number of barren rocks.

A ride of two hours through this plain, which is less sandy than the immediate neighbourhood of Joppa, brought us to a mosque, where we made halt for a quarter of an hour and ate our breakfast, consisting of some hard-boiled eggs, a piece of bread, and a draught of lukewarm water from the cistern. Our poor beasts fared even worse than ourselves—they received nothing but water.

On leaving this place to resume our journey across the plain, we not only suffered dreadfully from the heat, which had reached 30 degrees Reaumur, but were further persecuted by a species of minute gnats, which hovered round us in large swarms, crept into our noses and ears, and annoyed us in such a manner that it required the utmost of our patience and determination to prevent us from turning back at once. Fortunately we only met with these tormentors in those parts where the corn had been cut and was still in the fields. They are not much larger than a pin's head, and look more like flies than gnats. They are always met with in great swarms, and sting so sharply that they frequently raise large boils.

The vegetation was at this season already in so forward a state that we frequently passed stubble-fields, and found that the wheat had in several cases been already garnered up. Throughout the whole of Syria, and in that part of Egypt whither my journey afterwards led me, I never once saw corn or vegetables, wood or stores, carried in wagons; they were invariably borne by horses or asses. In Syria I could understand the reason of this proceeding. With the exception, perhaps, of the eight or ten miles across the valley of Sharon, the road is too stony and uneven to admit the passage of the lightest and smallest carts. In Egypt, however, this is not the case, and yet wagons have not been introduced.

A most comical effect was produced when we met long processions of small donkeys, so completely laden with corn, that neither their heads nor their feet remained visible. The sheaves seemed to be moving spontaneously, or to be propelled by the power of steam. Frequently after a train of this kind has passed, lofty grey heads appear, surrounded by a load piled up to so great a height, that one would suppose large corn-wagons were approaching rather than the "ship of the desert," the camel. The traveller's attention is continually attracted to some novel and curious object totally dissimilar to any thing he has seen at home.

Towards ten o'clock we arrived at Ramla, a place situate on a little hill, and discernible from a great distance. Before reaching the town, we had to pass through an olive-wood. Leaving our horses beneath a shady tree, we entered the coppice on the right: a walk of about a quarter of a mile brought us to the "Tower of the Forty Martyrs," which was converted into a church during the time of the Knights Templars, and now serves as a dwelling for dervishes. It is a complete ruin, and I could scarcely believe that it was still habitable.

We made no stay at Ramda, a place only remarkable for a convent built, it is said, on the site of Joseph of Arimathea's house.

The Syrian convents are built more like fortresses than like peaceful dwellings. They are usually surrounded by strong and lofty walls, furnished with loopholes for cannon. The great gate is kept continually closed, and barred and bolted from within for greater security; a little postern is opened to admit visitors, but even this is only done in time of peace, and when there is no fear of the plague.

At length, towards noon, we approached the mountains of Judaea. Here we must bid farewell to the beautiful fruitful valley and to the charming road, and pursue our journey through a stony region, which we do not pass without difficulty.

At the entrance of the mountain-chain lies a miserable village; near this village is a well, and here we halted to refresh ourselves and water our poor horses. It was not without a great deal of trouble and some expense that we managed to obtain a little water; for all the camels, asses, goats, and sheep from far and wide were collected here, eagerly licking up every drop of the refreshing element they could secure. Little did I think that I should ever be glad to quench my thirst with so disgusting a beverage as the muddy, turbid, and lukewarm water they gave me from this well. We once more filled our leathern bottles, and proceeded with fresh courage up the stony path, which quickly became so narrow, that without great difficulty and danger we could not pass the camels which we frequently met. Fortunately a few camels out of every herd are generally provided with bells, so that their approach is heard at some distance, and one can prepare for them accordingly.

The Bedouins and Arabs generally wear no garment but a shirt barely reaching to the knee. Their head is protected by a linen cloth, to which a thick rope wound twice round the head gives a very good effect. A few have a striped jacket over their shirt, and the rich men or chiefs frequently wear turbans.

Our road now continues to wind upwards, through ravines between rocks and mountains, and over heaps of stones. Here and there single olive-trees are seen sprouting from the rocky clefts. Ugly as this tree is, it still forms a cheerful feature in the desert places where it grows. Now and then we climbed hills whence we had a distant view of the sea. These glimpses increase the awe which inspires the traveller when he considers on what ground he is wandering, and whither he is bending his steps. Every step we now take leads us past places of religious importance; every ruin, every fragment of a fortress or tower, above which the rocky walls rise like terraces, speaks of eventful times long gone by.

An uninterrupted ride of five hours over very bad roads, from the entrance of the mountain-range, added to the extreme heat and total want of proper refreshment, suddenly brought on such a violent giddiness that I could scarcely keep myself from falling off my horse. Although we had been on horseback for eleven hours since leaving Joppa, I was so much afraid that Mr. B. would consider me weak and ailing, and perhaps change his intention of accompanying me from Jerusalem back to Joppa, that I refrained from acquainting him with the condition in which I felt myself. I therefore dismounted (had I not done so, I should soon have fallen down), and walked with tottering steps beside my horse, until I felt so far recovered that I could mount once more. Mr. B. had determined to perform the distance from Joppa to Jerusalem (a sixteen hours' ride) at one stretch. He indeed asked me if I could bear so much fatigue; but I was unwilling to abuse his kindness, and therefore assured him that I could manage to ride on for five or six hours longer. Fortunately for my reputation, my companion was soon afterwards attacked with the same symptoms that troubled me so much; he now began to think that it might, after all, be advisable to rest for a few hours in the next village, especially as we could not hope in any case to reach the gates of Jerusalem before sundown. I felt silently thankful for this opportune occurrence, and left the question of going on or stopping altogether to the decision of my fellow- traveller, particularly as I knew the course he would choose. Thus I accomplished my object without being obliged to confess my weakness. In pursuance of this resolve, we stayed in the neighbouring village of "Kariet el Areb," the ancient Emmaus, where the risen Saviour met the disciples, and where we find a ruin of a Christian church in a tolerable state of preservation. The building is now used as a stable. Some years ago this was the haunt of a famous robber, who was scheikh of the place, and let no Frank pass before he had paid whatever tribute he chose to demand. Since the accession of Mehemet Ali these exactions have ceased both here and in Jerusalem, where money was demanded of the stranger for admission into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and other sacred places. Even highway robberies, which were once on a time of daily occurrence among these mountains, are now rarely heard of.

We took possession of the entrance-hall of a mosque, near which a delicious spring sparkled forth from a grotto. Seldom has any thing strengthened and refreshed me so much as the water of this spring. I recovered completely from my indisposition, and was able to enjoy the beautiful evening.

As soon as the scheikh of the village heard that a party of Franks had arrived, he despatched four or five dishes of provisions to us. Of all these preparations we could only eat one—the butter-milk. The other dishes, a mixture of honey, cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs, onions, oil, olives, etc., we generously bestowed upon the dragoman and the muker, who caused them quickly to disappear. An hour afterwards the scheikh came in person to pay his respects. We reclined on the steps of the hall; and while the men smoked and drank coffee, a conversation of a very uninteresting kind was kept up, the dragoman acting as interpreter. At length the scheikh seemed seized with the idea that we might possibly be tired with our journey. He took his leave, and offered unasked to send us two men as sentries, which he did. Thus we could go to rest in perfect safety under the open sky in the midst of a Turkish village.

But before we retired to rest, my companion was seized with the rather original idea that we should pursue our journey at midnight. He asked me, indeed, if I was afraid, but at the same time observed, that it would be much safer for us to act upon his suggestion, as no one would suspect our departure by such a dangerous road at midnight. I certainly felt a little afraid, but my pride would not allow me to confess the truth; so our people received the order to be prepared to set out at midnight.

Thus we four persons, alone and totally unarmed, travelled at midnight through the wildest and most dangerous regions. Fortunately the bright moon looked smilingly down upon us, and illuminated our path so brightly, that the horses carried us with firm step over every obstruction. I was, I must confess, grievously frightened by the shadows! I saw living things moving to and fro— forms gigantic and forms dwarfish seemed sometimes approaching us, sometimes hiding behind masses of rock, or sinking back into nothingness. Lights and shadows, fears and anxiety, thus took alternate possession of my imagination.

A couple of miles from our starting-place we came upon a brook crossed by a narrow stone bridge. This brook is remarkable only as having been that from which David collected the five stones wherewith he slew the Philistine giant. At the season of my visit there was no water to be seen; the bed of the stream was completely dry.

About an hour's journey from Jerusalem the valley opens, and little orchards give indication of a more fertile country, as well as of the proximity of the Holy City. Silently and thoughtfully we approached our destination, straining our eyes to the utmost to pierce the jealous twilight that shrouded the distance from our gaze. From the next hill we hoped to behold our sacred goal; but "hope deferred" is often the lot of mortals. We had to ascend another height, and another; at length the Mount of Olives lay spread before us, and lastly JERUSALEM.


Residence at Jerusalem—Catholic church—The "Nuova Casa"—Via Dolorosa—Pilate's house—The Mosque Omar—Herod's house—Church of the Holy Sepulchre—Disturbances at the Greek Easter feasts—Knights of the Holy Sepulchre—Mount of Olives—Adventure among the ruin— Mount of Offence—Valley of Jehosaphat—Siloam—Mount Sion— Jeremiah's grotto—Graves.

The red morning dawn had began to tinge the sky as we stood before the walls of Jerusalem, and with it the most beauteous morning of my life dawned upon me! I was so lost in reflection and in thankful emotion, that I saw and heard nothing of what was passing around me. And yet I should find it impossible to describe what I thought, what I felt. My emotion was deep and powerful; my expression of it would be poor and cold.

At half past four o'clock in the morning of the 29th May we arrived at the "Bethlehem Gate." We were obliged to wait half an hour before this gate was opened; then we rode through the still silent and deserted streets of the Nuova Casa (Pilgrim-house), a building devoted by the Franciscan friars to the reception of rich and poor Roman Catholics and Protestants.

I left my baggage in the room allotted to me, and hastened into the church, to lighten the weight on my heart by fervent prayer. The entrance into the church looks like the door of a private house; the building is small, but still sufficiently large for the Roman Catholic congregation. The altar is richly furnished, and the organ is a very bad one. The male and female portions of the congregation are separated from each other, the young as well as the old, and all sit or kneel on the ground. Chairs there are none in this church. The costume of the Christians is precisely the same as that of the Syrians. The women wear boots of yellow morocco, and over these slippers, which they take off on entering the church. In the street their faces are completely, in the church only partially, muffled, and the faces of the girls not at all. Their dress consists of a white linen gown, and a large shawl of the same material, which completely envelops them. They were all cleanly and neatly dressed.

The amount of devotion manifested by these people is very small; the most trifling circumstance suffices to distract their attention. For instance, my appearance seemed to create quite a sensation among them, and they made their remarks upon me to one another so openly both by words and gestures, that I found it quite impossible to give my mind to seriousness and devotion. Some of them pushed purposely against me, and put out their hands to grasp my bonnet, etc. They conversed together a good deal, and prayed very little. The children behaved no better; these little people ate their breakfast while the service was going on, and occasionally jostled each other, probably to keep themselves awake. The good people here must fancy they are doing a meritorious work by passing two or three hours in the church; no one seems to care how this time is spent, or they would assuredly have been taught better.

I had been in the church rather more than an hour when a clergyman stepped up to me and accosted me in my native language. He was a German, and, in fact, an Austrian. He promised to visit me in the course of a few hours. I returned to the Nuova Casa, and now, for the first time, had leisure to examine my apartment. The arrangement was simple in the extreme. An iron bedstead, with a mattress, coverlet, and bolster, a very dingy table, with two chairs, a small bench, and a cupboard, all of deal, composed the whole furniture. These chattels, and also the windows, some panes of which were broken, may once, in very ancient times, have been clean. The walls were of plaster, and the floor was paved with large slabs of stone. Chimneys are no more to be found in this country. I did not see any until my return to Sicily.

I now laid myself down for a couple of hours to get a little rest; for during my journey hither from Constantinople I had scarcely slept at all.

At eleven o'clock the German priest, Father Paul, visited me, in order to explain the domestic arrangements to me. Dinner is eaten at twelve o'clock, and supper at seven. At breakfast we get coffee without sugar or milk; for dinner, mutton-broth, a piece of roast kid, pastry prepared with oil or a dish of cucumbers, and, as a concluding course, roast or spiced mutton. Twice in the week, namely on Fridays and Saturdays, we have fast-day fare; but if the feast of a particular saint falls during the week, a thing that frequently occurs, we hold three fast-days, the one of the saint's day being kept as a time of abstinence. The fare on fast-days consists of a dish of lentils, an omelette, and two dishes of salt fish, one hot and the other cold. Bread and wine, as also these provisions, are doled out in sufficient quantities. But every thing is very indifferently cooked, and it takes a long time for a stranger to accustom himself to the ever-recurring dishes of mutton. In Syria oxen and calves are not killed during the summer season; so that from the 19th of May until my journey to Egypt in the beginning of September, I could get neither beef-soup nor beef.

In this convent no charge is made either for board or lodging, and every visitor may stay there for a whole month. At most it is customary to give a voluntary subscription towards the masses; but no one asks if a traveller has given much, little, or nothing at all, or whether he is a Roman Catholic, a Protestant, or a votary of any other religion. In this respect the Franciscan order is much to be commended. The priests are mostly Spaniards and Italians; very few of them belong to other nations.

Father Paul was kind enough to offer his services as my guide, and to-day I visited several of the holy places in company with him.

We began with the Via Dolorosa, the road which our Lord is said to have trodden when for the last time he wandered as God-man on earth, bowed down by the weight of the cross, on his way to Golgotha. The spots where Christ sank exhausted are marked by fragments of the pillars which St. Helena caused to be attached to the houses on either side of the way. Further on we reach the "Zwerchgasse," the place whither the Virgin Mary is said to have come in haste to see her beloved Son for the last time.

Next we visited Pilate's house, which is partly a ruin, the remaining portion serving as a barrack for Turkish soldiers. I was shewn the spot where the "holy stairs" stood, up which our Lord is said to have walked. On my return, I saw these stairs in the church of S. Giovanni di Laterani. They also pretend to show the place where the Saviour was brought out before the multitude by Pilate. A little distance off, in the midst of a dark vault, they shew the traveller the stone to which Jesus was bound when "they scourged Him."

We ascended the highest terrace of this house, as this spot affords the best view of the magnificent mosque of Omar, standing in a large courtyard. With this exterior view the traveller is fain to be content; for the Turks are here much more fanatical than those in Constantinople and many other towns, so that an attempt to penetrate even into the courtyard would be unsuccessful; the intruder would run the risk of being assailed with a shower of stones. But in proportion as the Turks are strict in the observance of their own ceremonies and customs, so they respect those Christians who are religious and devotional.

Every Christian can go with perfect impunity to pray at all the places which are sacred in his eyes, without fear of being taunted or annoyed by the Turkish passers-by. On the contrary, the Mussulman steps respectfully aside; for even he venerates the Saviour as a great prophet, and the Virgin as his mother.

Not far from Pilate's house stands the building designated as that of Herod; it is, however, a complete ruin. The house of the rich man, at whose gate the beggar Lazarus lay, has shared the same fate; but from the ruins one may conclude how magnificent the building must originally have been.

In the house of Saint Veronica a stone is pointed out on which they shew you a footprint of the Saviour. In another house two footprints of the Virgin Mary are exhibited. Father Paul also drew my attention to the houses which stood on the spot where Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were born. These houses are all inhabited by Turks, but any one may obtain admittance upon payment of a small fee.

The following day I visited the church of the Holy Sepulchre. The way lies through several narrow and dirty streets. In the lanes near the church are booths like those at Maria Zell in Steiermark, and many other places of pilgrimage, where they sell wreaths of roses, shells of mother-of-pearl, crucifixes, etc. The open space before the church is neat enough. Opposite lies the finest house in Jerusalem, its terraces gay with flowers.

Visitors to this church will do wisely to provide themselves with a sufficient number of para, as they may expect to be surrounded by a goodly tribe of beggars. The church is always locked; the key is in the custody of some Turks, who open the sacred edifice when asked to do so. It is customary to give them three or four piastres for their pains, with which sum they are satisfied, and remain at the entrance during the whole time the stranger is in the church, reclining on divans, drinking coffee and smoking tobacco. At the entrance of the church we noticed a long square stone on the ground; this is the "stone of anointing."

In the centre of the nave a little chapel has been built; it is divided into two parts. In the first of these compartments is a stone slab encased in marble. This is vehemently asserted to be the identical stone on which the angel sat when he announced our Lord's resurrection to the women who came to embalm his body. In the second compartment, which is of the same size as the first, stands the sarcophagus or tomb of the Saviour, of white marble. The approach is by such a low door that one has to stoop exceedingly in order to enter. The tomb occupies the whole length of the chapel, and answers the purpose of an altar. We could not look into the sarcophagus. The illumination of this chapel is very grand both by night and day; forty-seven lamps are kept continually burning above the grave. The portion of the chapel containing the tomb is so small, that when the priest reads mass only two or three people have room to stand and listen. The chapel is entirely built of marble, and belongs to the Roman Catholics; but the Greeks have the right of celebrating mass alternately with them.

At the farther end of the chapel the Copts have a little mean- looking altar of wood, surrounded by walls of lath. All round the chapel are niches belonging to the different religious sects.

In this church I was also shewn the subterranean niche in which Jesus is said to have been a prisoner; also the niche where the soldiers cast lots for our Saviour's garments, and the chapel containing the grave of St. Nicodemus. Not far from this chapel is the little Roman Catholic church. A flight of twenty-seven steps leads downwards to the chapel of St. Helena, where the holy woman sat continually and prayed, while she caused search to be made for the true cross. A few steps more lead us down to the spot where the cross was found. A marble slab points out the place.

Mounting the steps once more, we come to the niche containing the pillar to which Jesus was bound when they crowned him with thorns. It is called the pillar of scorn. The pillar at which Jesus was scourged, a piece of which is preserved in Rome, is also shown.

The chapel belonging to the Greeks is very spacious, and may almost be termed a church within a church. It is beautifully decorated.

It is very difficult to find the way in this church, which resembles a labyrinth. Now we are obliged to ascend a flight of stairs, now again to descend. The architect certainly deserves great praise for having managed so cleverly to unite all these holy places under one roof; and St. Helena has performed a most meritorious action in thus rescuing from oblivion the sacred sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth.

I was told, that when the Greeks celebrate their Easter here, the ceremonies seldom conclude without much quarrelling and confusion. These irregularities are considerably increased when the Greek Easter happens to fall at the same time as that of the Roman Catholics. On these occasions, there are not only numerous broken heads, but some of the combatants are even frequently carried away dead. The Turks generally find it necessary to interfere, to restore peace and order among the Christians. What opinion can these nations, whom we call Infidels, have of us Christians, when they see with what hatred and virulence each sect of Christians pursues the other? When will this dishonourable bigotry cease?

On the third day after my arrival at Jerusalem, a small caravan of six or seven travellers, two gentlemen namely, and their attendants, applied for admittance at our convent. An arrival of this kind, particularly if the new-comers are Franks, is far too important to admit of our delaying the inquiry from what country the wanderers have arrived. How agreeably was I surprised, when Father Paul came to me with the intelligence that these gentlemen were both Austrian subjects. What a singular coincidence! So far from my native country, I was thus suddenly placed in the midst of my own people. Father Paul was a native of Vienna, and the two counts, Berchtold and Salm Reifferscheit, were Bohemian cavaliers.

As soon as I had completely recovered from the fatigues of my journey, and had collected my thoughts, I passed a whole night in the church of the Holy Sepulchre. I confessed in the afternoon, and afterwards joined the procession, which at four o'clock visits all the places rendered sacred by our Saviour's passion; I carried a wax taper, the remains of which I afterwards took back with me into my native country, as a lasting memorial. This ceremony ended, the priests retired to their cells, and the few people who were present left the church. I alone stayed behind, as I intended to remain there all night. A solemn stillness reigned throughout the church; and now I was enabled to visit, uninterrupted and alone, all the sacred places, and to give myself wholly up to my meditations. Truly these were the most blissful hours of my life; and he who has lived to enjoy such hours has lived long enough.

A place near the organ was pointed out to me where I might enjoy a few hours of repose. An old Spanish woman, who lives like a nun, acts as guide to those who pass a night in the church.

At midnight the different services begin. The Greeks and Armenians beat and hammer upon pendent plates or rods of metal; the Roman Catholics play on the organ, and sing and pray aloud; while the priests of other religions likewise sing and shout. A great and inharmonious din is thus caused. I must confess that this midnight mass did not produce upon me the effect I had anticipated. The constant noise and multifarious ceremonies are calculated rather to disconcert than to inspire the stranger. I much preferred the peace and repose that reigned around, after the service had concluded, to all the pomp and circumstance attending it.

Accompanied by my Spanish guide, I ascended to the Roman Catholics' choir, where prayers were said aloud from midnight until one o'clock. At four o'clock in the morning I heard several masses, and received the Eucharist. At eight o'clock the Turks opened the door at my request, and I went home.

The few Roman Catholic priests who live in the church of the Holy Sepulchre stay there for three months at a time, to perform the services. During this time they are not allowed to quit the church or the convent for a single instant. After the three months have elapsed, they are relieved by other priests.

On the 10th of June I was present at the ceremony of admission into the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Counts Zichy, Wratislaw, and Salm Reifferscheit were, at their own request, installed as knights of the Sepulchre. The inauguration took place in the chapel.

The chief priest having taken his seat on a chair of state, the candidate for knighthood knelt before him, and took the customary oaths to defend the holy church, to protect widows and orphans, etc. During this time the priests who stood round said prayers. Now one of the spurs of Godfrey de Bouillon was fastened on the heel of the knight; the sword of this hero was put into his hands, the sheath fastened to his side, and a cross with a heavy gold chain, that had also belonged to Godfrey de Bouillon, was put round his neck. Then the kneeling man received the stroke of knighthood on his head and shoulders, the priests embraced the newly-elected knight, and the ceremony was over.

A plentiful feast, given by the new-chosen knights, concluded the solemnity.

Distant somewhat less than a mile from Jerusalem is the Mount of Olives. Emerging from St. Stephen's Gate, we pass the Turkish burial-ground, and reach the spot where St. Stephen was stoned. Not far off we see the bed of the brook Cedron, which is at this season of the year completely dried up. A stone bridge leads across the brook; adjoining it is a stone slab where they shew traces of the footsteps of the Saviour, as He was brought across this bridge from Gethsemane, and stumbled and fell. Crossing this bridge, we arrive at the grotto where Jesus sweat blood. This grotto still retains its original form. A plain wooden altar has been erected there, a few years since, by a Bavarian prince, and the entrance is closed by an iron gate. Not far off is Gethsemane. Eight olive-trees are here to be seen that have attained a great age; nowhere else had I seen these trees with such massive trunks, though I had frequently passed through whole plantations of olives. Those who are learned in natural history assert that the olive-tree cannot live to so great an age as to render it possible that these venerable trunks existed at the time when Jesus passed his last night at Gethsemane in prayer and supplication. As this tree, however, propagates itself, these trees may be sprouts from the ancient stems. The space around the roots has been strengthened with masonry, to afford a support to these patriarchal trunks, and the eight trees are surrounded by a wall three or four feet in height. No layman may enter this spot unaccompanied by a priest, on pain of excommunication; it is also forbidden to pluck a single leaf. The Turks also hold these trees in reverence, and would not injure one of them.

Close by is the spot where the three disciples are said to have slept during the night of their Master's agony. We were shown marks on two rocks, said to have been footsteps of these apostles! The footsteps of the third disciple we could not discover. A little to one side is the place where Judas betrayed his Master.

The little church containing the grave of the Virgin Mary stands near the "Grotto of Anguish." We descend by a broad marble flight of fifty steps to the tomb, which is also used as an altar. About the middle of the staircase are two niches with altars; within these are deposited the bones of the Virgin Mary's parents and of St. Joseph. This chapel belongs to the Greeks.

From the foot of the Mount of Olives to its summit is a walk of three quarters of an hour. The whole mountain is desert and sterile; nothing is found growing upon it but olives; and from the summit of this mountain our Saviour ascended into heaven. The spot was once marked by a church, which was afterwards replaced by a mosque: even this building is now in ruins. Only twelve years ago a little chapel, of very humble appearance, was erected here; it now stands in the midst of old walls; but here again a footprint of our Lord is shown and reverenced. On this stone it is asserted that He stood before He was taken up into heaven. Not far off, we are shown the place where the fig-tree grew that Jesus cursed, and the field where Judas hanged himself.

One afternoon I visited many of these sites, in company with Count Berchtold. As we were climbing about the ruins near the mosque, a sturdy goatherd, armed with a formidable bludgeon, came before us, and demanded "backsheesh" (a gift, or an alms) in a very peremptory tone. Neither of us liked to take out our purse, for, fear the insolent beggar should snatch it from our hands; so we gave him nothing. Upon this he seized the Count by the arm, and shouted out something in Arabic which we could not understand, though we could guess pretty accurately what he meant. The Count disengaged his arm, and we proceeded almost to push and wrestle our way into the open field, which was luckily only a few paces off. By good fortune, also, several people appeared near us, upon seeing whom the fellow retired. This incident convinced us of the fact that Franks should not leave the city unattended.

As the Mount of Olives is the highest point in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, it commands the best view of the town and its environs. The city is large, and lies spread over a considerable area. The number of inhabitants is estimated at 25,000. As in the remaining cities of Syria, the houses here are built of stone, and frequently adorned with round cupolas. Jerusalem is surrounded by a very lofty and well-preserved wall, the lower portion composed of such massive blocks of stone, that one might imagine these huge fragments date from the period of the city's capture by Titus. Of the mosques, that of Omar, with its lead-covered roof, has the best appearance; it lies in an immense courtyard, which is neatly kept. This mosque is said to occupy the site of Solomon's temple.

From the Mount of Olives we can plainly distinguish all the convents, and the different quarters of the Catholics, Armenians, Jews, Greeks, etc. The "Mount of Offence" (so called on account of Solomon's idolatry) rises at the side of the Mount of Olives, and is of no great elevation. Of the temple, and the buildings which Solomon caused to be erected for his wives, but few fragments of walls remain. I had also been told, that the Jordan and the Dead Sea might be seen from this mountain; but I could distinguish neither, probably on account of a mist which obscured the horizon.

At the foot of the Mount of Olives lies the valley of Jehosaphat. The length of this valley does not certainly exceed three miles; neither is it remarkable for its breadth. The brook Cedron intersects this valley; but it only contains water during the rainy season; at other times all trace of it is lost.

The town of Jerusalem is rather bustling, particularly the poor- looking bazaar and the Jews' quarter; the latter portion of the city is very densely populated, and exhales an odour offensive beyond description; and here the plague always seizes its first victims.

The Greek convent is not only very handsome, but of great extent. Hither most of the pilgrims flock, at Easter-time to the number of five or six thousand. Then they are all herded together, and every place is crowded with occupants; even the courtyard and terraces are full. This convent is the richest of all, because every pilgrim received here has to pay an exorbitant price for the very worst accommodation. It is said that the poorest seldom escape for less than four hundred piastres.

Handsomest of all is the Armenian convent; standing in the midst of gardens, it has a most cheerful appearance. It is asserted to be built on the site where St. James was decapitated, an event commemorated by numerous pictures in the church; but most of the pictures, both here and in the remaining churches, are bad beyond conception. Like the Greeks, the Armenian priests enjoy the reputation of thoroughly understanding how to make a harvest out of their visitors, whom they are said generally to send away with empty pockets. As an amends, however, they offer them a great quantity of spiritual food.

In the valley of Jehosaphat we find many tombs of ancient and modern date. The most ancient among these tombs is that of Absolom; a little temple of pieces of rock, but without an entrance. The second is the tomb of Zacharias, also hewn out of the rock, and divided within into two compartments. The third belongs to King Jehosaphat, and is small and unimportant; one might almost call it a mere block of stone. There are many more tombs cut out of the rock. From this place we reach the Jewish burial-ground.

The little village of Sila also lies in this valley. It is so humble, and all its houses (which are constructed of stone) are so small, that wandering continually among tombs, the traveller would rather take them to be ruined resting-places of the dead than habitations of the living.

Opposite this village lies "Mary's Well," so called because the Virgin Mary fetched water here every day. The inhabitants of Siloam follow her example to this day. A little farther on is the pool of Siloam, where our Lord healed the man who was born blind. This pool is said to possess the remarkable property, that the water disappears and returns several times in the course of twenty-four hours.

At the extremity of the valley of Jehosaphat a small hill rises like a keystone; in this hill are several grottoes, formed either by nature or art, which also once served as sepulchres. They are called the "rock-graves." At present the greater portion of them are converted into stables, and are in so filthy a state that it is impossible to enter them. I peeped into one or two, and saw nothing but a cavern divided into two parts. At the summit of these rock- graves lies the "Field of Blood," bought by the priests for the thirty pieces of silver which Judas cast down in the temple.

In the neighbourhood of the Field of Blood rises the hill of Sion. Here, it is said, stood the house of Caiaphas the high-priest, whither our Lord was brought a prisoner. A little Armenian church now occupies the supposed site. The tomb of David, also situated on this hill, has been converted into a mosque, in which we are shewn the place where the Son of Man ate the last Passover with His disciples.

The burial-grounds of the Roman Catholics, Armenians, and Greeks surround this hill.

The "Hill of Bad Counsel," so called because it is said that here the judges determined to crucify Christ, rises in the immediate vicinity of Mount Sion. A few traces of the ruins of Caiaphas' house are yet visible.

The "Grotto of Jeremiah" lies beyond the "Gate of Damascus," in front of which we found, near a cistern, an elaborately-sculptured sarcophagus, which is used as a water-trough. This grotto is larger than any I have yet mentioned. At the entrance stands a great stone, called Jeremiah's bed, because the prophet is said generally to have slept upon it. Two miles farther on we come to the graves of the judges and the kings. We descend an open pit, three or four fathoms deep, forming the courtyard. This pit is a square about seventy feet long and as many wide. On one side of this open space we enter a large hall, its broad portal ornamented with beautiful sculpture, in the form of flowers, fruit, and arabesques. This hall leads to the graves, which run round it, and consist of niches hewn in the rock, just sufficiently large to contain a sarcophagus. Most of these niches were choked up with rubbish, but into some we could still see; they were all exactly alike. These long, narrow, rock- hewn graves reminded me exactly of those I had seen in a vault at Gran, in Hungary. I could almost have supposed the architect at Gran had taken the graves of the valley of Jehosaphat for his model.


Bethlehem—Rachel's grave—Convent at Bethlehem—Beggars—Grotto of the Nativity—Solomon's cisterns—St. John's—Franciscan church at Jerusalem—Mourning women—Eastern weddings—Mish-mish—Excursion to the Jordan and the Dead Sea—Wilderness near Jerusalem—Convent of St. Saba.

On the 2d of June I rode, in the company of Counts Berchtold and Salm Reifferscheit and Pater Paul, to Bethlehem. Although, on account of the bad roads, we are obliged to ride nearly the whole distance at a foot-pace, it does not take more than an hour and a half to accomplish the journey. The view we enjoy during this excursion is as grand as it is peculiar. So far as the eye can reach, it rests upon stone; the ground is entirely composed of stones; and yet between the rocky interstices grow fruit-trees of all kinds, and grape-vines trail along, besides fields whose productions force their way upwards from the shingly soil.

I had already wondered when I saw the "Karst," near Trieste, and the desert region of Gorz; but these sink into insignificance when compared to the scenery of the Judean mountains.

It is difficult to conceive how these regions can ever have been smiling and fertile. Doubtless they have appeared to better advantage than at the present period, when the poor inhabitants are ground to the bone by their pachas and officers; but I do not think that meadows and woods can ever have existed here to any extent.

On the way we pass a well, surrounded by blocks of stone. At this well the wise men from the East rested, and here the guiding star appeared to them. Midway between Jerusalem and Bethlehem lies the Greek convent dedicated to the prophet Elijah. From hence we can see both towns; on the one hand, the spacious Jerusalem, and on the other, the humble Bethlehem, with some small villages scattered round it. On the right hand we pass "Rachel's grave," a ruined building with a small cupola.

Bethlehem lies on a hill, surrounded by several others; with the exception of the convent, it contains not a single handsome building. The inhabitants, half of whom are Catholics, muster about 2500 strong; many live in grottoes and semi-subterranean domiciles, cutting out garlands and other devices in mother-of pearl, etc. The number of houses does not exceed a hundred at the most, and the poverty here seems excessive, for nowhere have I been so much pestered with beggar children as in this town. Hardly has the stranger reached the convent-gates before these urchins are seen rapidly approaching from all quarters. One rushes forward to hold the horse, while a second grasps the stirrup; a third and a fourth present their arm to help you to dismount; and in the end the whole swarm unanimously stretch forth their hands for "backsheesh." In cases like these it is quite necessary to come furnished either with a multiplicity of small coins or with a riding-whip, in order to be delivered in one way or another from the horrible importunity of the diminutive mob. It is very fortunate that the horses here are perfectly accustomed to such scenes; were this not the case, they would take fright and gallop headlong away.

The little convent and church are both situated near the town, and are built on the spot where the Saviour was born. The whole is surrounded by a strong fortress-wall, a very low, narrow gate forming the entrance. In front of this fortress extends a handsome well-paved area. So soon as we have passed through the little gate, we find ourselves in the courtyard, or rather in the nave of the church, which is unfortunately more than half destroyed, but must once have been eminent both for its size and beauty. Some traces of mosaic can still be detected on the walls. Two rows of high handsome pillars, forty-eight in number, intersect the interior; and the beam-work, said to be of cedar-wood from Lebanon, looks almost new. Beneath the high altar of this great church is the grotto in which Christ was born. Two staircases lead downwards to it. One of the staircases belongs to the Armenians, the other to the Greeks; the Catholics have none at all. Both the walls and the floor are covered with marble slabs. A marble tablet, with the inscription,


marks the spot whence the true Light shone abroad over the world. A figure of a beaming sun, which receives its light from numerous lamps kept continually burning, is placed in the back-ground of this tablet.

The spot where our Saviour was shewn to the worshipping Magi is but few paces distant. An altar is erected opposite, on the place where the manger stood in which the shepherds found our Lord. The manger itself is deposited in the basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, in Rome. This altar belongs to the Roman Catholics. A little door, quite in the background of the grotto, leads to a subterranean passage communicating with the convent and the Catholic chapel. In this passage another altar has been erected to the memory of the innocents slaughtered and buried here. Proceeding along the passage we come upon the grave of St. Paula and her daughter Eustachia on one side, and that of St. Hieronymus on the other. The body of the latter is, however, deposited at Rome.

Like the church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, this great church at Bethlehem belongs at once to the Catholics, the Armenians, and the Greeks. Each of these sects has built for itself a little convent adjoining the church.

After spending at least a couple of hours here, we rode two miles farther, towards Mount Hebron. At the foot of this mountain we turned off to the left towards the three cisterns of Solomon. These reservoirs are very wide and deep, hewn out of the rock, and still partially covered with a kind of cement resembling marble in its consistency and polish. We descended into the third of these cisterns; it was about five hundred paces long, four hundred broad, and a hundred deep.

Not one of these cisterns now contains water; the aqueducts which once communicated with them have entirely vanished. A single rivulet, across which one may easily step, flows beside these giant reservoirs. The region around is barren in the extreme.

On returning to our convent at about two o'clock to partake of our frugal but welcome meal, we were surprised to find that another party of travellers, Franks like ourselves, had arrived. The new- comers proved to be Count Zichy and Count Wratislaw, who had travelled from Vienna to Cairo in company with Counts Berchtold and Salm Reifferscheit. At the last-mentioned place the voyagers parted company, one party proceeding to Jerusalem by way of Alexandria, Damietta, and Joppa, while the other bent their course across the burning sands of Africa towards Mount Sinai, and thence continued their journey to Jerusalem by land. Here at length they had the pleasure of meeting once more. A great and general rejoicing, in which we all joined, was the consequence of this event.

After dinner we once more visited all the holy places in company of the new-comers; we afterwards went to the so-called "Milk Grotto," distant about half a mile from our convent. In this grotto there is nothing to be seen but a simple altar, before which lights are continually burning. It is not locked, and every passer-by is at liberty to enter. This place is held sacred not only by the Christians, but also by the Turks, who bring many a cruise of oil to fill the lamps after they have cleaned them. In this grotto the Holy Family concealed themselves before the flight into Egypt, and the Virgin for a long time nourished the infant Jesus with her milk, from which circumstance the grotto derives its name. The women in the neighbourhood believe that if they feel unwell during the time they are nursing their children, they have merely to scrape some of the sand from the rocks in this grotto, and to take it as a powder, to regain their health.

Half a mile from this grotto we were shown the field in which the angel appeared to announce the birth of the Redeemer to the shepherds. But our newly-arrived friends were not able to visit this spot. They were fain to content themselves with a distant view, as it was high time to think of our return.


On the 4th of June I rode out, accompanied by a guide, to the birth- place of St. John the Baptist, distant about four miles from Jerusalem. The way to this convent lies through the Bethlehem Gate, opposite the convent of the "Holy Cross," a building supposed to stand on the site where the wood was felled for our Saviour's cross! Not far off, the place was pointed out to me where a battle was fought between the Israelites and the Philistines, and where David slew Goliath.

Situated in a rocky valley, the convent of St. John is, like all the monasteries in these lands, surrounded by very strong walls. The church of the convent is erected on the spot where the house of Zacharias once stood, and a chapel commemorates the place where St. John first beheld the light. The ascent to this chapel is by a staircase, where a round tablet of stone bears the inscription,


Many events of the prophet's life are here portrayed by sculptures in white marble.

About a mile from the convent we find the "Grotto of Visitation," where St. Mary met St. Elizabeth. The remains of the latter are interred here.

On the very first day of my arrival at Jerusalem I had made some observations, during a visit to the church of St. Francis, which gave me any thing but a high opinion of the behaviour of the Catholics here. This unfavourable impression was confirmed by subsequent visits to the church, so that at length I felt obliged to tell Father Paul that I would rather pray at home than among people who seemed to attend to any thing rather than their devotions. My Frankish costume seemed to be such a stumbling-block in the eyes of these people, that at length a priest came to me, and requested that I would make an alteration in my dress, or at any rate exchange my straw hat for a veil, in which I could muffle my head and face. I promised to discard the obnoxious hat and to wear a handkerchief round my head when I attended church, but refused to muffle my face, and begged the reverend gentleman to inform my fellow-worshippers that this was the first time such a thing had been required of a Frankish woman, and that I thought they would be more profitably employed in looking at their prayer-books than at me, for that He whom we go to church to adore is not a respecter of outward things. In spite of this remonstrance, their behaviour remained the same, so that I was compelled almost to discontinue attending public worship.

On great festival-days the high altar of the church of St. Francis is very profusely decorated. It is, in fact, almost overloaded with ornament, and sparkles and glitters with a most dazzling brilliancy. Innumerable candles display the lustre of gold and precious stones. Foremost among the costly ornaments appear a huge gold monstrance presented by the king of Naples, and two splendid candelabra, a gift of the imperial house of Austria.

I happened one day to pass a house, from within which a great screaming was to be heard. On inquiring of my companion what was the matter, I was informed that some person had died in that house the day before, and that the sound I heard was the wail of the "mourning women." I requested admission to the room where the deceased lay. Had it not been for the circumstance that a few pictures of saints and a crucifix decorated the walls, I could never have imagined that the dead man was a Catholic. Several "mourning women" sat near the corpse, uttering every now and then such frantic yells, that the neighbourhood rang with their din. In the intervals between these demonstrations they sat comfortably regaling themselves with coffee; after a little time they would again raise their horrible cry. I had seen enough to feel excessively disgusted, and so went away.

I was also fortunate enough to visit a newly-married pair. The bride was gorgeously dressed in a silk under-garment, wide trousers of peach-blossom satin, and a caftan of the same material; a rich shawl encircled her waist, and on her feet she wore boots of yellow morocco leather; the slippers had been left, according to the Turkish fashion, at the entrance of the chamber. An ornamental head-dress of rich gold brocade and fresh flowers completed the bride's attire; her hair, arranged in a number of thin plaits and decorated with coins, fell down upon her shoulders, and on her neck glittered several rows of ducats and larger gold pieces.

Costumes of this kind are only seen in the family circle, and on the occasion of some great event. Seldom or never are strange men allowed to behold the ladies in their gorgeous apparel; so that it is fruitless to expect to see picturesque female costumes in the public places of the East.

After the marriage ceremony, which is always performed during the forenoon, the young wife is compelled to sit for the remainder of the day in a corner of the room with her face turned towards the wall. She is not allowed to answer any question put by her husband, her parents, or by any one whatever; still less is she permitted to offer a remark herself. This silence is intended to typify the bride's sorrow at changing her condition.

During my visit, the bridegroom sat next to his bride, vainly endeavouring to lure a few words from her. On my rising to depart, the young wife inclined her head towards me, but without raising her eyes from the ground.

In Jerusalem, almost all the women and girls wear veils when they go abroad. It was only in church, and in their own houses, that I had an opportunity of fairly seeing these houris. Among the girls I found many an interesting head; but the women who have attained the age of twenty-six or twenty-eight years already look worn and ugly; so that here, as in all tropical countries, we behold a great number of very plain faces, among which handsome ones shine forth at long intervals, like meteors. Thin people are rarely met with in Syria; on the contrary, even the young girls are frequently decidedly stout.

Not far from the bazaar is a great hall, wherein the Turks hold their judicial sittings, decide disputes, and pass sentence on criminals. Some ordinary-looking divans are placed round the interior of this hall, and in one corner a wooden cell, about ten feet long, six wide, and eight feet high, has been erected. This cell, furnished with a little door, and a grated hole by way of window, is intended for the reception of the criminal during his period of punishment.

Throughout the thirteen days I passed at Jerusalem, I did not find the heat excessive. The thermometer generally stood in the shade at from 20 to 22 degrees, and in the sun at 28 degrees (Reaum.), very seldom reaching 30 degrees.

Fruit I saw none, with the exception of the little apricots called mish-mish, which are not larger than a walnut, but nevertheless have a very fine flavour. It is a pity that the inhabitants of these countries contribute absolutely nothing towards the cultivation and improvement of their natural productions; if they would but exert themselves, many a plant would doubtless flourish luxuriantly. But here the people do not even know how to turn those gifts to advantage which nature has bestowed upon them in rich profusion, and of superior quality; for instance, olives. Worse oil can hardly be procured than that which they give you in Syria. The Syrian oil and olives can scarcely be used by Europeans. The oil is of a perfectly green colour, thick, and disgusting alike to the smell and taste; the olives are generally black, a consequence of the negligent manner in which they are prepared. The same remark holds good with regard to the wine, which would be of excellent quality if the people did but understand the proper method of preparing it, and of cultivating the vineyards. At present, however, they adulterate their wine with a kind of herb, which gives it a very sharp and disagreeable taste.

On the whole, the neighbourhood of Jerusalem is very desolate, barren, and sterile. I found the town itself neither more nor less animated than most Syrian cities. I should depart from truth if I were to say, with many travellers, that it appeared as though a peculiar curse rested upon this city. The whole of Judea is a stony country, and this region contains many places with environs as rugged and barren as those of Jerusalem.

Birds and butterflies are rarely seen at the present season of the year, not only in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, but throughout the whole of Syria. Where, indeed, could a butterfly or a bee find nourishment, while not a flower nor a blade of grass shoots up from the stony earth? And a bird cannot live where there are neither seeds nor insects, but must soar away across the seas to cooler and more fertile climes. Not only here, but throughout the whole of Syria, I missed the delightful minstrels of the air. The sparrow alone can find sustenance every where, for he lives in towns and villages, wherever man is seen. A whole flock of these little twittering birds woke me every morning.

I was as yet much less troubled by insects than I had anticipated. With the exception of the small flies on the plain of Sharon, and of certain little sable jumpers which seem naturalised throughout the whole world, I could not complain of having been annoyed by any creature.

Our common house-flies I saw every where; but they were not more numerous or more troublesome than in Germany.


To travel with any degree of security in Palestine, Phoenicia, etc., it is necessary to go in large companies, and in some places it even becomes advisable to have an escort. The stranger should further be provided with cooking utensils, provisions, tents, and servants. To provide all these things would have been a hopeless task for me; I had therefore resolved to return from Jerusalem as I had come, namely, via Joppa, and so to proceed to Alexandria or Beyrout, when, luckily for me, the gentlemen whom I have already mentioned arrived at Jerusalem. They intended making several excursions by land, and the first of these was to be a trip to the banks of the Jordan and to the Dead Sea.

I ardently wished to visit these places, and therefore begged the gentlemen, through Father Paul, to permit my accompanying them on their arduous journey. The gentlemen were of opinion that their proposed tour would be too fatiguing for one of my sex, and seemed disinclined to accede to my request. But then Count Wratislaw took my part, and said that he had watched me during our ride from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, and had noticed that I wanted neither courage, skill, nor endurance, so that they might safely take me with them. Father Paul immediately came to me with the joyful intelligence that I was to go, and that I had nothing to do but to provide myself with a horse. He particularly mentioned how kindly Count Wratislaw, to whom I still feel obliged, had interested himself in my behalf.

The journey to the Jordan and the Dead Sea should never be undertaken by a small party. The best and safest course is to send for some Arab or Bedouin chiefs, either at Jerusalem or Bethlehem, and to make a contract with them for protection. In consideration of a certain tribute, these chiefs accompany you in person, with some of their tribe, to your place of destination and back again. The Counts paid the two chiefs three hundred piastres, with the travelling expenses for themselves and their twelve men.

At three o'clock in the afternoon of the 7th of June our cavalcade started. The caravan consisted of the four counts, Mr. Bartlett, a certain Baron Wrede, two doctors, and myself, besides five or six servants, and the two chiefs with the body-guard of twelve Arabs. All were strongly armed with guns, pistols, swords, and lances, and we really looked as though we sallied forth with the intention of having a sharp skirmish.

Our way lay through the Via Dolorosa, and through St. Stephen's Gate, past the Mount of Olives, over hill and dale. Every where the scene was alike barren. At first we still saw many fruit-trees and olive-trees in bloom, and even vines, but of flowers or grass there was not a trace; the trees, however, stood green and fresh, in spite of the heat of the atmosphere and the total lack of rain. This luxuriance may partly be owing to the coolness and dampness which reigns during the night in tropical countries, quickening and renewing the whole face of nature.

The goal of our journey for to-day lay about eight miles distant from Jerusalem. It was the Greek convent of "St. Saba in the Waste." The appellation already indicates that the region around becomes more and more sterile, until at length not a single tree or shrub can be detected. Throughout the whole expanse not the lowliest human habitation was to be seen. We only passed a horde of Bedouins, who had erected their sooty-black tents in the dry bed of a river. A few goats, horses, and asses climbed about the declivities, laboriously searching for herbs or roots.

About half an hour before we reach the convent we enter upon the wilderness in which our Saviour fasted forty days, and was afterwards "tempted of the devil." Vegetation here entirely ceases; not a shrub nor a root appears; and the bed of the brook Cedron is completely dry. This river only flows during the rainy season, at which period it runs through a deep ravine. Majestic rocky terraces, piled one above the other by nature with such exquisite symmetry that the beholder gazes in silent wonder, overhang both banks of the stream in the form of galleries.

A silence of death brooded over the whole landscape, broken only by the footfalls of our horses echoing sullenly from the rocks, among which the poor animals struggled heavily forward. At intervals some little birds fluttered above our heads, silently and fearfully, as though they had lost their way. At length we turn sharply round an angle of the road,—and what a surprise awaits us! A large handsome building, surrounded by a very strong fortified wall, pierced for cannon in several places, lies spread before us near the bed of the river, and rises in the form of terraces towards the brow of the hill. From the position we occupied, we could see over the whole extent of wall from without and from within. Fortified as it was, it lay open before our gaze. Several buildings, and in front of all a church with a small cupola, told us plainly that St. Saba lay stretched below.

On the farther bank, seven or eight hundred paces from the convent, rose a single square tower, apparently of great strength. I little thought that I should soon become much better acquainted with this isolated building.

The priests had observed our procession winding down the hill, and at the first knocking the gate was opened. Masters, servants, Arabs, and Bedouins, all passed through; but when my turn came, the cry was, "Shut the gate!" and I was shut out, with the prospect of passing the night in the open air,—a thing which would have been rather disagreeable, considering how unsafe the neighbourhood was. At length, however, a lay brother appeared, and, pointing to the tower, gave me to understand that I should be lodged there. He procured a ladder from the convent, and went with me to the tower, where we mounted by its aid to a little low doorway of iron. My conductor pushed this open, and we crept in. The interior of the tower seemed spacious enough. A wooden staircase led us farther upwards to two tiny rooms, situated about the centre of the tower. One of these apartments, dimly lighted by the rays of a lamp, contained a small altar, and served as a chapel, while the second was used as a sleeping-room for female pilgrims. A wooden divan was the only piece of furniture this room contained. My conductor now took his leave, promising to return in a short time with some provisions, a bolster, and a coverlet for me.

So now I was at least sheltered for the night, and guarded like a captive princess by bolt and bar. I could not even have fled had I wished to do so, for my leader had locked the creaking door behind him, and taken away the ladder. After carefully examining the chapel and my neatly-furnished apartment in this dreary prison- house, I mounted the staircase, and gained the summit of the tower. Here I had a splendid view of the country round about, my elevated position enabling me distinctly to trace the greater part of the desert, with its several rows of hills and mountains skirting the horizon. All these hills were alike barren and naked; not a tree nor a shrub, not a human habitation, could I discover. Silence lay heavily on every thing around, and it seemed to me almost as though no earth might here nourish a green tree, but that the place was ordained to remain a desert, as a lasting memorial of our Saviour's fasting. Unheeded by human eye, the sun sank beneath the mountains; I was, perhaps, the only mortal here who was watching its beautiful declining tints. Deeply moved by the scene around me, I fell on my knees, to offer up my prayers and praise to the Almighty, here in the rugged grandeur of the desert.

But I had only to turn away from the death-like silence, and to cast my eye towards the convent as it lay spread out before me, to view once more the bustle and turmoil of life. In the courtyard the Bedouins and Arabs were employed in ministering to the wants of their horses, bringing them water and food; beyond these a group of men was seen spreading mats on the ground, while others, with their faces bowed to the earth, were adoring, with other forms of prayer, the Omnipotent Spirit whose protection I had so lately invoked; others, again, were washing their hands and feet as a preparation for offering up their worship; priests and lay brethren passed hastily across the courtyard, busied in preparations for entertaining and lodging the numerous guests; while some of my fellow-travellers stood apart, in earnest conversation, and Mr. B. and Count Salm Reifferscheit reclined in a quiet spot and made sketches of the convent. Had a painter been standing on my tower, what a picture of the building might he not have drawn as the wild Arab and the thievish Bedouin leant quietly beside the peaceful priest and the curious European! Many a pleasant recollection of this evening have I borne away with me.

I was very unwilling to leave the battlements of the tower; but the increasing darkness at length drove me back into my chamber. Shortly afterwards a priest and a lay brother appeared, and with them Mr. Bartlett. The priest's errand was to bring me my supper and bedding, and my English fellow-traveller had kindly come to inquire if I would have a few servants as a guard, as it must be rather a dreary thing to pass a night quite alone in that solitary tower. I was much flattered by Mr. Bartlett's politeness to a total stranger, but, summoning all my courage, replied that I was not in the least afraid. Thereupon they all took their leave; I heard the door creak, the bolt was drawn, and the ladder removed, and I was left to my meditations for the night.

After a good night's rest, I rose with the sun, and had been waiting some time before my warder appeared with the coffee for my breakfast. He afterwards accompanied me to the convent gate, where my companions greeted me with high praises; some of them even confessed that they would not like to pass a solitary night as I had done.


Ride through the wilderness to the Dead Sea—The Dead Sea—The river Jordan—Horde of Bedouins—Arab horses—The Sultan's well—Bivouac in the open air—Return to Jerusalem—Bethany—Departure from Jerusalem—Jacob's grave—Nablus or Sichem—Sebasta—Costume of Samaritan women—Plain of Esdralon—Sagun.

June 8th.

At five o'clock in the morning we departed, and bent our course towards the Dead Sea. After a ride of two hours we could see it, apparently at such a short distance, that we thought half an hour at the most would bring us there. But the road wound betwixt the mountains, sometimes ascending, sometimes descending, so that it took us another two hours to reach the shore of the lake. All around us was sand. The rocks seem pulverised; we ride through a labyrinth of monotonous sand-heaps and sand-hills, behind which the robber-tribes of Arabs and Bedouins frequently lurk, making this part of the journey exceedingly unsafe.

Before we reach the shore, we ride across a plain consisting, like the rest, of deep sand, so that the horses sink to the fetlocks at every step. On the whole of our way we had not met with a single human being, with the exception of the horde of Bedouins whom we had found encamped in the river-bed: this was a fortunate circumstance for us, for the people whom the traveller meets during these journeys are generally unable to resist the temptation of seizing upon his goods, so that broken bones are frequently the result of such meetings.

The day was very hot (33 degrees Reaum). We encamped in the hot sand on the shore, under the shelter of our parasols, and made our breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, a piece of bad bread, and some lukewarm water. I tasted the sea-water, and found it much more bitter, salt, and pungent than any I have met with elsewhere. We all dipped our hands into the lake, and afterwards suffered the heat of the air to dry them without having first rinsed them with fresh water; not one of us had to complain that this brought forth an itching or an eruption on our hands, as many travellers have asserted. The temperature of the water was 33 degrees Reaum.; in colour it is a pale green. Near the shore the water is to a certain extent transparent; but as it deepens it seems turbid, and the eye can no longer pierce the surface. We could not even see far across the water, for a light mist seemed to rest upon it, thus preventing us from forming a good estimate of its breadth.

To judge from what we could distinguish, however, the Dead Sea does not appear to be very broad; it may rather be termed an oblong lake, shut in by mountains, than a sea. Not the slightest sign of life can be detected in the water; not a ripple disturbs its sleeping surface. A boat of any kind is of course quite out of the question. Some years since, however, an Englishman made an attempt to navigate this lake; for this purpose he caused a boat to be built, but did not progress far in his undertaking,—a sickness came upon him, he was carried to Jerusalem, and died soon after he had made the experiment. It is rather a remarkable fact that, up to the present moment, no Englishman has been found who was sufficiently weary of his life to imitate his countryman's attempt.

Stunted fragments of drift-wood, most probably driven to shore by tempests, lay scattered every where around. We could, however, discover no fields of salt; neither did we see smoke rising, or find the exhalations from the sea unpleasant. These phenomena are perhaps observed at a different season of the year to that in which I visited the Dead Sea. On the other hand, I saw not only separate birds, but sometimes even flights of twelve or fifteen. Vegetation also existed here to a certain extent. Not far from the shore, I noticed, in a little ravine, a group of eight acicular-leaved trees. On this plain there were also some wild shrubs bearing capers, and a description of tall shrub, not unlike our bramble, bearing a plentiful crop of red berries, very juicy and sweet. We all ate largely of them; and I was the more surprised at finding these plants here, as I had found it uniformly stated that animal and vegetable life was wholly extinct on the shores of the Dead Sea.

Five cities, of which not a trace now remains, once lay in the plain now filled by this sea—their names were Sodom, Gomorrah, Adama, Zeboin, and Zona. A feeling of painful emotion, mingled with awe, took possession of my soul as I thought of the past, and saw how the works of proud and mighty nations had vanished away, leaving behind them only a name and a memory. It was a relief to me when we prepared, after an hour's rest, to quit this scene of dreary desolation.

For about an hour and a half we rode through an enormous waste covered with trailing weeds, towards the verdant banks of the Jordan, which are known from a distance by the beautiful blooming green of the meadows that surround it. We halted in the so-called "Jordan-vale," where our Saviour was baptised by St. John.

The water of the Jordan is of a dingy clay-colour; its course is very rapid. The breadth of this stream can scarcely exceed twenty- five feet, but its depth is said to be considerable. The moment our Arab companions reached the bank, they flung themselves, heated as they were, into the river. Most of the gentlemen followed their example, but less precipitately. I was fain to be content with washing my face, hands, and feet. We all drank to our hearts' content, for it was long since we had obtained water so cool and fresh. I filled several tin bottles, which I had brought with me for this purpose from Jerusalem, with water from the Jordan, and had them soldered down on my return to the Holy City. This is the only method with which I am acquainted for conveying water to the farthest countries without its turning putrid.

We halted for a few hours beneath the shady trees, and then pursued our journey across the plain. Suddenly a disturbance arose among our Arab protectors; they spoke very anxiously with one another, and continually pointed to some distant object. On inquiring the reason why they were so disturbed, we were told that they saw robbers. We strained our eyes in vain; even with the help of good spy-glasses we could discover nothing, and already began to suspect our escort of having cried "wolf" without reason, or merely to convince us that we had not taken them with us for nothing. But in about a quarter of an hour we could dimly discern figures emerging, one by one, from the far, far distance. Our Bedouins prepared for the combat, and advised us to take the opposite road while they advanced to encounter the enemy. But all the gentlemen wished to take part in the expedition, and joined the Bedouins, lusting for battle. The whole cavalcade rode off at a rapid pace, leaving Count Berchtold and myself behind. But when our steeds saw their companions galloping off in such fiery style, they scorned to remain idly behind, and without consulting our inclinations in the least, they ran of at a pace which fairly took away our breath. The more we attempted to restrain their headlong course, the more rapidly did they pursue their career, so that there appeared every prospect of our becoming the first, instead of the last, among the company. But when the enemy saw such a determined troop advancing to oppose them, they hurried off without awaiting our onset, and left us masters of the field. So we returned in triumph to our old course; when suddenly a wild boar, with its hopeful family, rushed across our path. Away we all went in chase of the poor animals. Count Wratislaw succeeded in cutting down one of the young ones with his sabre, and it was solemnly delivered up to the cook. No further obstacles opposed themselves to our march, and we reached our resting-place for the night without adventure of any kind.

On this occasion I had an opportunity of seeing how the Arabs can manage their horses, and how they can throw their spears and lances in full career, and pick up the lances as they fly by. The horses, too, appear quite different to when they are travelling at their usual sleepy pace. At first sight these horses look any thing but handsome. They are thin, and generally walk at a slow pace, with their heads hanging down. But when skilful riders mount these creatures, they appear as if transformed. Lifting their small graceful heads with the fiery eyes, they throw out their slender feet with matchless swiftness, and bound away over stock and stone with a step so light and yet so secure that accidents very rarely occur. It is quite a treat to see the Arabs exercise. Those who escorted us good-naturedly went through several of their manoeuvres for our amusement.

From the valley of the Jordan to the "Sultan's Well," in the vale of Jericho, is a distance of about six miles. The road winds, from the commencement of the valley, through a beautiful natural park of fig- trees and other fruit-trees. Here, too, was the first spot where the eye was gladdened by the sight of a piece of grass, instead of sand and shingle. Such a change is doubly grateful to one who has been travelling so long through the barren, sandy desert.

The village lying beside the Sultan's Well looks most deplorable. The inhabitants seem rather to live under than above the ground. I went into a few of these hollows. I do not know how else to designate these little stoneheap-houses. Many of them are entirely destitute of windows, the light finding its way through the hole left for an entrance. The interiors contained only straw-mats and a few dirty mattresses, not stuffed with feathers, but with leaves of trees. All the domestic utensils are comprised in a few trenchers and water-jugs: the poor people were clothed in rags. In one corner some grain and a number of cucumbers were stored up. A few sheep and goats were roaming about in the open air. A field of cucumbers lies in front of every house. Our Bedouins were in high glee at finding this valuable vegetable in such abundance. We encamped beside the well, under the vault of heaven.

From the appearance of the valley in its present state, it is easy to conclude, in spite of the poverty of the inhabitants and the air of desolation spread over the farther landscape, that it must once have been very blooming and fertile.

On the right, the naked mountains extend in the direction of the Dead Sea; on the left rises the hill on which Moses completed his earthly career, and from which his great spirit fled to a better world. On the face of the mountain three caves are visible, and in the centre one we were told the Saviour had dwelt during his preparation in the wilderness before undertaking his mission of a teacher. High above these caves towers the summit of the rock from which Satan promised to give our Lord the sovereignty of all the earth if He would fall down and worship him.

Baron Wrede, Mr. Bartlett, and myself were desirous of seeing the interior of one of these caves, and started with this intention; but no sooner did one of our Bedouins perceive what we were about, than he came running up in hot haste to assure us that the whole neighbourhood was unsafe. We therefore turned back, the more willingly as the twilight, or rather sunset, was already approaching.

Twilight in these latitudes is of very short duration. At sunrise the shades of night are changed into the blaze of day as suddenly as the daylight vanishes into night.

Our supper consisted of rather a smoky pilau, which we nevertheless relished exceedingly; for people who have eaten nothing throughout the day but a couple of hard-boiled eggs are seldom fastidious about their fare at night. Besides, we had now beautiful fresh water from the spring, and cucumbers in abundance, though without vinegar or oil. But to what purpose would the unnatural mixture have been? Whoever wishes to travel should first strive to disencumber himself of what is artificial, and then he will get on capitally. The ground was our bed, and the dark blue ether, with its myriads of stars, our canopy. On this journey we had not taken a tent with us.

The aspect of the heavens is most beautiful here in Syria. By day the whole firmament is of a clear azure—not a cloud sullies its perfect brightness; and at night it seems spangled with a far greater number of stars than in our northern climes.

Count Zichy ordered the servants to call us betimes in the morning, in order that we might set out before sunrise. For once the servants obeyed; in fact they more than obeyed, for they roused us before midnight, and we began our march. So long as we kept to the plain, all went well; but whenever we were obliged to climb a mountain, one horse after another began to stumble and to stagger, so that we were in continual danger of falling. Under these circumstances it was unanimously resolved that we should halt beneath the next declivity, and there await the coming daylight.

June 9th.

At four o'clock the reveille was beaten for the second time. We had now slept for three hours in the immediate neighbourhood of the Dead Sea, a circumstance of which we were not aware until daybreak: not one of our party had noticed any noxious exhalation arising from the water; still less had we been seized with headache or nausea, an effect stated by several travellers to be produced by the smell of the Dead Sea.

Our journey homewards now progressed rapidly, though for three or four hours we were obliged to travel over most formidable mountain- roads and through crooked ravines. In one of the valleys we again came upon a Bedouin's camp. We rode up to the tents and asked for a draught of water, instead of which these people very kindly gave us some dishes of excellent buttermilk. In all my life I never partook of any thing with so keen a relish as that with which I drank this cooling beverage after my fatiguing ride in the burning heat. Count Zichy offered our entertainers some money, but they would not take it. The chief stepped forward and shook several of us by the hand in token of friendship; for from the moment when a stranger has broken bread with Bedouins or Arabs, or has applied to them for protection, he is not only safe among their tribe, but they would defend him with life and limb from the attacks of his enemies. Still it is not advisable to meet them on the open plain; so contradictory are their manners and customs.

We were now advancing with great strides towards a more animated, if not a more picturesque landscape, and frequently met and overtook small caravans. One of these had been attacked the previous evening; the poor Arabs had offered a brave resistance, and had beaten off the foe; but one of them was lying half dead upon his camel, with a ghastly shot-wound in his head.

Nimble long-eared goats were diligently searching among the rocks for their scanty food, and a few grottoes or huts of stone announced to us the proximity of a little town or village. Right thankful were we to emerge safely from these fearful deserts into a less sterile and more populous region.

We passed through Bethany, and I visited the cave in which it is said that Lazarus slumbered before he came forth alive at the voice of the Redeemer. Then we journeyed on to Jerusalem by the same road on which the Saviour travelled when the Jewish people shewed their attachment and respect, for the last time, by strewing olive and palm branches in his way. How soon was this scene of holy rejoicing changed to the ghastly spectacle of the Redeemer's torture and death!

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