« VorigeDoorgaan »
the tchibouk after dinner very delicious. er, especially in the reiterated • Kyrie We then adjusted our wraps upon the stones Eleison,' — the hard, perfunetory cracked as we best could, covered ourselves with voice of the officiating priest, — the luguthe thick quilts of the monks, fixed our um- brious intoning, and the discordant and brellas so that the moon might not smite melancholy mirth of the singing, produced us by night;' and there we lay all in a upon us all an impression of most painful row, like six Templars in the chancel of a incongruity with the place and its associac church, only somewhat less quiet. The Con- tions. And no wonder, when the long sergregational Union of England and Wales, vice has to be gone through eight times represented by one of its ex-presidents, its daily; for if this does not destroy all relipresident actual, and its president elect, gious sensibility, nothing will. Even upon not only prostrate at the foot of Sinai, but our stony beds we pitied the poor wretches, ignobly doomed to the stony courtyard of a when we were awoke by the midnight bell tew ignorant Greek monks! Like many summoning them to prayer. The convent other trials of life, the hardship was only and church were built by Justinian in A.D. in anticipation; our night was, on the 549; and although often repaired, a great whole, an enjoyable one. The outlying part of the original structure remains. A peaks of Jebel Mousa looking right down more bewildering labyrinth of chapels, cells, upon us, reminded us that probably Moses, and courtyards, staircases, galleries, and and possibly Elijah, and also Paul, had of- passages, interspersed with here and there a ten slept upon this very spot, with only a cypress or olive tree, can hardly be imamantle to wrap round them; and with this gined. It is a strong, rough, square building, thought we fell asleep, our wraps making 245 ft. by 204, enclosed in massive walls. It us rather too warm than otherwise. In that was very extensively repaired by the wild region the monks had no doubt suffi- French during the occupation of Egypt, so cient reason for their caution ; only their that some parts of it are modern. The care for their safety was in excess of their church, a Byzantine building, is in good conhospitality.
dition. It consists of a simple nave and two About seven in the morning, a low and side aisles. The floor is tesselated marble, impregnable iron door was opened, leading wrought into various devices. The ceiling from the courtyard, and, through intricate is vaulted, and very rich in a grand movault-like passages, we were admitted into saic of the Transfiguration, with a border the convent. We were con lucted to a cor- of prophets and apostles. The decorations ridor of small rooms - not over clean - for of the church are costly, but, as in most centuries the lodgings of travellers, known Greek churches, very tawdry; pieces of and unknown. After hasty ablutions we carpet, silk, and even of cotton, with went into the Greek Church, where one of wretched pictures of mediæval saints, are the eighth daily services was being cele-hung about everywhere. In the nave 1 brated, not much however to our edifica- counted no fewer than fifty lamps, of all tion ; for with the inspiration of the place, materials and of all shapes, - froin costly and of the Sabbath whose law was there silver to common glass chandeliers. Qrer given, with the catholic feeling that recog- the apex are portraits of the Emperor Jusnises every form of devotion which travel tinian and his empress, said to be authentic, produces, strong upon us, and with every and coeval with the church ; also a picture predisposition to worship, we found worship of Moses upon his knees before the burning utterly impossible. In mere ritual form bush. In the chancel behind the altar are and rapid irreverence, the service of the carefully preserved the skull and the hand Greek Church of the Transfiguration was far of St. Katherine, who was miraculously carworse than any service of the Latin Church ried through the air from Alexandria to that I have seen. Anything farther removed the neighbouring mountain that bears her from spiritual feeling and devotional signi- name. In the same place there is also a magficance it is impossible to conceive. There nificent portrait of the saint, richly jewelled, were about a dozen monks present, some of and forming the cover of a chest or sarcophthem maintaining their places in the nar- agus. Just behind the chancel is the small row high-backed stalls which are seen in chapel of the · Burning Bush,' said to have every Greek church, and others of them been erected by the Empress Helena, over walking about, doing different things, and the very spot in which the Bush stood. The joining in the service by snatches of re- chapel is very richly decorated; its floor is sponse. One of the ancient Greek liturgies covered with costly carpets, and the place was used : but the literal gabble of the read- of the Bush is inlaid with silver. It is still THIRD SERIES. LIVING AGE.
"holy ground, and, like Moses, we had to very striking; its vast, irregular, prison-like ‘put our shoes off our feet,' before we might buildings filling the entire valley, the dark enter it.
cypresses of the garden contrasting with the After breakfast we saw the library, which light green of the olive-tree, and with the consists chiefly of printed books, some bright blossom of the almond-tree, where all portions of them comparatively modern: else is sterility. amongst them the Lexicon of Suidas, a fine We were not sorry, after lunch, to regain edition of Chrysostom, and editions of the possession of our tents, which had been Greek fathers. No doubt the library con- pitched at the foot of Horeb at the entrance tains also some very precious MSS., were to the Wâdy Deir, close by Jethro's well. it possible to secure for some competent There we spent the rest of this memorable scholar a thorough examination of them. Sunday, and after a short tent service we In the archbishop's room, which was com- enjoyed a quiet and thoughtful evening. It fortably furnished and hung with portraits, is not often in a lifetime that the religious we inspected the celebrated golden MS. of heart is subjected to such influences. Theodosius, a minute description of which We had now reached the farthest point is given in the Athenaeum of Nov. 12, 1864. of our wanderings ; - henceforth every footIt is written on vellum in letters of gold, step would be homewards. and very beautifully illuminated. We saw The next morning we ascended Jebel also an exquisite microscopic psalter of the Mousa, which, according to Dean Stanley, same period, said to have been written by a is 7,564 feet above the level of the sea. lady: the characters are so small that they The ascent commences just above the concannot be read without a magnifying glass. vent. It is steep, but not dificult, and is
From the library we went to the charnel- facilitated in several places by broken steps, house in the garden, near which we had un- the remains of a rough staircase, said to wittingly slept. We crept into it through have been made by the Empress Helena. a low door and came upon a ghastly array A monk from the convent was our guide. of skulls and bones. When a monk dies, One or two servants accompanied us, carryhis body is put into a separate chamber un- ing coffee for our refreshment at the top til it is decomposed. The skeleton is then a provision wbich we greatly scorned at the taken to pieces, and the bones are arrayed outset, but upon which we afterwards lookinfanciful and horrid symmetry - the skulls ed more favourably. We soon reached the in one pile, the thigh bones in another, the 'Ain-el-Jebel, or mountain spring, - a fresh ribs in another. In a corner is the grim clear fountain, with maiden's hair fern clus: squatting skeleton of a celebrated ancho- tering beautifully round it. A little farrite, who was found in his cell with bent ther, and we came to a small chapel, where head and clenched hands, conquered in his we rested while the monk burned incense. lonely wrestle with death. A crimson gilt It is dedicated to the Virgin; the legend cap covered his ghastly head, and an orna- thereof being, that once upon a time the mented cloth was thrown over his dried-up convent was so infested with fleas that the bones.
moaks abandoned it. On the place where Close to the church, the one wall ap- the chapel stands they were met by the Virparently touching the other, is a Mahome- gin, who, to induce them to return, prom, tan mosque, erected, according to a MS. ised that henceforth their tormentors should found in the library by Burckhardt, in the be excluded from the convent. The monks fourteenth century, the effect probably of accepted the conditions, and ever since, it is fear in the days of Mussulman power. It is said, the convent has been as free from fleas, now scarcely ever uscd, and only when as, through the saintly efficacy of St. Patsome Mahometan of rank visits the convent. rick, Ireland is free from toads. This chapIt is strange to see the crescent of its mina- el was erected in commemoration of the ret glittering within a few feet of the Chris- vision and the miracle. Our own experitian cross. Mahomet is said to have visited ence, however, furnished a dubious corthe convent when a camel driver, and in roboration of the latter, - either the mirathe after days of his prophetical power he cle is in a condition of damaged efficacy, or commended the pious monks to the forbear- it does not exiend to travellers. ..ance and protection of his followers. A About half-way up we passed through a mosque and a church are in like conjunc- cleft of the mountain under two archways, tion on the top of Jebel Mousa.
distant from each other about ten minutes' As it is approached by daylight from the walk. At these, in the good old times, plain of Er-Rahah, the appearance of the monks used to stand to confess all pilgrims, i consent in that wild mountain solitude is a process necessary to enable their passage.
Hence it is said that no Jew was ever able the older and more sacred of the traditions to get through. The second archway opens of Sinai pertain to them. upon a secluded little plain - a singular The top of Jebel Mousa is of grey gran. amphitheatre in the very heart of Sinai, ite. The lower part of it, and the general surrounded by magnificent peaks and walls mass of the mountain, including Râs Súfsáof granite - in the centre of which is a lit- feh, are of red granite. In the red granite tle enclosed garden, with a solitary cypress of Jebel Mousa Dendrite stones — i.e., stones standing at its entrance, and near it a marked with fossil trees or feins are spring and a pool of water, the latter large found. Pococke, Shaw, and the older travenough to supply the refreshment of a bath. ellers, speak of them as among the wonders A few paces from the cypress is the chapel of Sinai; but Dean Stanley speaks of it as of Elijah, said to be built over the place of curious that they have not been found in the prophet's abode in Horeb. One com- later times. We found them very plentipartment of the chapel contains the cave in fully near a road wbich the Pasha began to which he lodged' - a hole just large construct, but did not complete; we brought enough to contain the body of a man, and away some specimens. into which, as I ascertained by experiment, The testimony of travellers had prepared he might creep
Here he wrapped his me for a view from the top of Jebel Mousa face in his mantle, and went out and stood much more limited than the reality. Rob at the entering in of the cave,' when after inson, especially, wbo refers all the sacred the storm and the earthquake, which rent interest of Sinai to Ras Súlsäleh, unduly the mountains upon which we gazed, the disparages it. Jebel Mousa is lower by Lord • passed by and spake to him in the 1,000 teet than its peighbour, Jebel Kather• still small voice.' Of course no credence ine, and, of course, the view from it is much can be given to these monkish traditions be- more circumscribed; but notwithstanding, yond the probability that the Divine mani- it is very magnificent. A large part of the festation took place in some such locality of peninsula lies before the traveller, - a scene the mountain, and there is no other so like- of tumultuous and intricate confusion, ly as this.
jagged mountain-tops rising from the shad. Sinai is a great temple not made with ow of deep valleys, anu linked together hands,' and this is its very · holy of holies.' without intervening plains. From different It is a place into which, through a stupen- sides of the summit the greater part of the dous veil of granite wbich sbuts out even Sinaitic Alps may be seen : Jebel Katherthe Bedouin world, God's priests may enter ine, streaked with snow, blocks the view on to commune with Him. In all probability the soutb-west, and conceals Um Shomer, it is the place to which Joshua and the eld- higher than itself; the peaks of Sússaleh ers accompanied Moses when he went to the conceal the plain of Er-Råhah on the norti. top of Jebel Mousa to commune with God. In almost every other direction the view is No other place affords conditions equally very extensive. On the north-west are seen likely.
what Dr. Wilson, Laborde, and Dr. StewFrom this little plain we obtained our art affirm to be the summits of Serbâl, but first view of the summit of Jebel Mousa — what Dr. Robinson and Dean Staniey aiyet some thousand feet above us towards the firm to be the double peak of El-Banât. south. On our way we passed the footprint We thought it Serbàl ; and if, as Mr. Stewof Mahomet's camel.
art affirms, Jebel Mousa is visible from SerAt length we stood upon the top of the bâl, why not Serhâl from Jebel Mousa? On mount'— the most sacred spot upon the the north-east ’Akabah may be seen, and the earth's surface; Jews, Christians, and Ma- Arabian mountains beyond the gulf. On hometans holding it in a common reverence. the south, Râs Mohammed, the point of the · A little Christian church, until recently a peninsula, is visible; and, a little to the ruin but now just restored, and a Mahomet- north of it, a glimpse of the gulf, with the an mosque, stand side by side on the summit, little island of Tinieh resting on its bosom, -- either a stroke of not very dignified poli- is obtained. Tbe far north is bounded by cy, or an expression of very unwonted liber- the indefinite horizon of the Great Desert, ality. About Mount Sinai the two faiths with the pass of Nükb Hâwy in the foreare at any rate on very amicable terms; but ground. A little to the east of this, over there is no Jewish synagogue. Hated and Jebel Fureiâ, the mighty mountain-wall of persecuted by both Mahometans and Chris- the Jebel Tih is visible. Unfortunately, the tians, the Jews are rarely permitted to con- atmosphere was not very clear; our prossecrate their sacred spots; and yet surely pect, therefore, was more indistinct and limited than otherwise it would have been. | vial débris, or the side of a natural valley Descending the sides of Jebel Mousa a lit- are around the base of the mountain; tle, three of the valleys that insulate Sinai the Hill of Aaron, where he cast the golden may be traced the plain Er-Râhah being calf, is just beyond. shut out by Râs Sutsafeh, as also part of If the view from below was impressive, Wâdy El-Deir. We were chiefly interested not the less was the view from above. The in the Wâdy Sebâyeh, — the place, as some riven peaks around us were stern and awthink, of the encampment of the people ful in their grandeur. Could they but have while the Law was proclaimed from Jebel testified what they had seen! Their charMousa. This we saw in all its extent; but acter is in striking harmony with the assoit only deepened our conviction concerning ciations of the place. the claims of Er-Rahah.
And yet it was not without its discord. Most remarkable of all was the view, On a mountain to the left, over against northward, of the interior summits of Sinai Râs Sŭfsâfeh, – the Jebel Tinia is an unitself, — a Titanic wilderness of weather finished modern palace of Abbas Pasha, beaten masses of granite, shaping them- glittering like the last new house in the selves into the most fantastic forms, and Boulevards; a monument of folly and bad overhanging with indescribable sublimity taste. the ravines that separated them. After It is impossible to convey mere impresspending about an hour upon the summit, sions to others, and of course their subjectand reading the sacred history associated ive value depends upon their recipient: with it, we descended to the little plain; but having traversed the summits of this but instead of leaving it through the arch- vast pile of Sinai from one end to the other, way leading down to the convent, three of having looked down into each of the us started for the summit of Râs Súfsâfeh, four valleys which isolate it, having looked about two miles distant. Our path wound up to it from various points below, and through narrow valleys and over rugged having a distinct and vividl conception of it passes of granite. Never have I been in its entireness, we all felt, first, its unique so impressed with huge forms of moun- grandeur — grand in the approaches to it, tain magnificence and grotesqueness: they grand in itself, the adytum of a ġreat tentare as overwhelming from their own awful ple of Nature consecrated by God to himgrandeur as from their inseparable associa- self; and next, the wonderful harmony be
The bottoms of these internal val-tween the place and the history, - a harleys are covered with odoriferous plants; mony to be found nowhere else in equal each, indeed, is a perfect "garden of herbs,' perfection. We could not doubt that this most of them unknown to me. In one or
was the scene of the law-giving, and that two places are little chapels - one dedicated the two summits, Jebel Mousa and Râs to John the Baptist, another dedicated to Súfsáfeh, were the mountains of Divine the Virgin of the Zone;' the latter is the manifestation to Moses and the people remost northern, and is at the foot of the spectively. On this supposition there is precipice of Súlsâfeh. Two willows grow not a requirement of the narrative that is near it, which give its name, ‘Mountain of not perfectly fulfilled. No place or condithe Willow,' to the peak. From this chapel tions can be conceived of more suitable for the ascent of about 500 feet to the sum- such a manifestation. mit is very steep and arduous; it is, in- For a while we surrendered ourselves to deed, a rough scramble up an almost per- its almost overpowering associations and pendicular ravine, over 'huge detached solemnities. We could almost fancy that blocks of granite. We accomplished it in the mountains still felt the awe of His presabout twenty minutes; and then we stood ence; that the atmosphere still thrilled upon • Horeb, the mount of God,' on the with His voice; that all around still bore the very summit of the central peak, once cov- impress of His touch. ered with clouds and darkness, and reful- Every traveller has remarked the disgent with the glory of the Lord
tinctness with which, in the region of Sinai,
sounds can be heard at an almost incrediWhere all around, on mountain, sand, and sky, ble distance. The exaggerations of the God's chariot-wheels have left distinctest trace. Arabs -- one of whom told Carsten Nie
buhr that their shout could be heard from Er-Rábah in its entireness lies stretched Jebel Mousa to the Gulf of ’Akabah, as before us; the wide entrance to Wâdy well as the sober testimony of travellers Sheikh opens on the right; the boundaries who have made experiments, attests this. which kept off the people — either an allu- | According to Mr. Sandie, ordinary conver
sation on the plain Er-Râhah can be heard most interesting and most sacred regions of nearly half a mile. A thunderstorm, which the earth; and hardly a fact, from the time he heard on Sinai, is described by Dr. of their first foundation to the present time, Stewart as stupendously grand. This may has been contributed by them to the geogpossibly be attributed in part to the struc- raphy, the geology, or the history of a counture of the mountains, and in part to ab- try which in all its aspects has been subsence of vegetation. This has an inter- mitted to their inrestigation for thirteen esting bearing upon the utterance of the centuries.' Law. There is po reason to think that the The scene of our departure was strange voice from the holy mount was loud and re-enough. Some of our camels and men, acverberating like thunder: the impression cording to the regulations of the Arabs, had which the narrative makes is of a voice to be exchanged for others. Every Arab in distinct and clear, rather than overwhelm- the district who possessed a came) was eaingly gran. Philo says: • The Law was ger to be employed. As many as fifty or uttered with such calmness and distinctness sixty men beset our encampment, and that the people seemed to be seeing rather scrambled for our things. The confusion than hearing it.'
and violence were indescribable. Every We rapidly descended to our tents by little bag was seized by four or five Arabs one of the ravines on the eastern side of simultaneously — siruggling, vociferating, the mountain, an almost perpendicular gesticulating to the utmost of their power. water-course, which it would be well-nigh Hassan and his servants were powerless. impossible to climb. The descensus' was He and 'Abishai, his chief lieutenant, armed anything but ‘facilis.' It brought us into themselves, therefore, with the stoutest the valley just by Jethro's well and our sticks that they could find, and with both tents; the rest of the latter was very wel- hands laid about them most lustily, running
from one group to another, and bela bouring On the morning of Tuesday we prepared the hands and arms that were struggling at to leave Sinai. It is impossible to avoid a a portmanteau. Finding this ineffectual, feeling of melancholy at the almost barbar- Hassan would occasionally dash his fist into ous and utterly irreligious condition of the the face of an Arab, and by a kind of susdistrict. A greater destitution of religious tained push, back him out of the mêlée. feeling, and even idea, than that which The clamour of European porters and comcharacterises the Towâra Arabs, cannot be missionaires is bad enough, but it is gentleimagined: they may be gentle in blood, ness itself compared witii that of the Arabs. but we should scarcely do them an injustice Choose your porter, and the rest fall off. were we, in religious respects, to place them You cannot choose your Arab. IIe has no on the level of the lowest African savage. idea of a verbal engagement; and so long In Mussulman cities nothing is more com- as you are within reach he will attempt to mon than to see Arabs pray: we never saw transfer you and your baggage to his own a Towâra pray; nor, as far as we could camels. The entire property of an Arab learn, have they any ordinances of religious, consists of his camel; and all its produce is worship or instraction. And yet the dis- the very occasional employment for it that trict of Sinai has been inhabited by as many he can obtain. Blood is frequently shed on as 6,000 monks at a time: traces of monas- such occasions. Happily it was not so in teries and convents are to be found every- this instance, although the struggle continwhere. Unlike the self-sacrificing monks ued for two hours. We could do nothing and missionaries of the Latin Church, the but stand by, infinitely amused — compelled Greek monks of the Convent of the Trans- to admire the perfect forms, the manly figuration never think of teaching the Arabs grace, and the picturesque attitudes of either the arts of civilization or the glad tid- many of the vociferating Arabs. ings of the Gospel. •It is hard,' says Dean We did not get off until nine o'clock, and Stanley, “to recall another institution with for some miles we were esco.ted by a numsuch opportunities so signally wasted. It is ber of disappointed men with their unema colony of Christian pastors planted among ployed camels. It was an irreverent and heathens, who wait on them for their daily even painful departure from such a place. bread, and for their rain from heaven; and I did, however, in the confusion manage to hardly a spark of civilization or of Christian- get apart for a short time, and my last look ity, as far as history records, has been im- of the Holy Mount was a quiet and silent parted to a single tribe or family in that one. Shortly after, however, two or three wide wilderness. It is a colony of Greeks, Arabs seized my camel, and with the pecuof Europeans, of ecclesiastics, in one of the liar guttural which brings a camel to his