John L. (John Lawson) Stoddard.

John L. Stoddard's lectures : illustrated and embellished with views of the world's famous places and people, being the identical discourses delivered during the past eighteen years under the title of the Stoddard lectures (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryJohn L. (John Lawson) StoddardJohn L. Stoddard's lectures : illustrated and embellished with views of the world's famous places and people, being the identical discourses delivered during the past eighteen years under the title of the Stoddard lectures (Volume 2) → online text (page 5 of 12)
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inal was quite as unpretentious as the present structure.
Yet, as a characteristic Oriental dwelling, it calls to mind the
fact that on just such a roof as this, certainly in this very
town, a humble
fisherman of
Galilee learned
the great lesson
of the brother-
hood of man,
which, when
proclaimed, was
so to revolution-
ize the world,
that now, within
the city of the,
Caesars, the most
magnificent tem-
ple of Christian-




ity, St. Peter's, bears his name. Until within the last few
years, saddle-horses, or else a lumbering three-horse coach,
afforded the only means of transportation from Jaffa to
Jerusalem, along a highway fairly passable for vehicles. But
now a railroad has been built over this distance of thirty-
three miles, and once a day the iron horse draws tourists
across the plains of Sharon ; a railway bridge surmounts the
brook where David chose the smooth stones for his combat

with Goliath ; a lo-
comotive's whistle
wakes the echoes
of Mount Zion;
and the conductor
might with reason
call out to his pas-
sengers, en route,
" Ramleh, re-
puted residence of
Nicodemus and Jo-
seph of Arimathea,

SF-a^ five minutes f r

refreshments." At
the time of our
visit, however,

steam-cars had not yet made their appearance in the land
of Abraham. Accordingly our party made the journey on

After one leaves the fertile environs of Jaffa, the land
grows desolate and sterile. Even the celebrated Plain of
Sharon is but the shadow of its former self, for its whole
extent was once cultivated and well watered, and teemed with
a contented, prosperous population. The hills between this
and Mount Zion are extremely barren. The rocks reflect the
sun with angry glare, and only a few trees remind us of the



splendid forests that once flourished here. Along the road
are many ruined watch-towers resembling heaps of bones
gnawed and abandoned by the dogs of time. Once they were
needful; for until recently this customary path for Christian
pilgrims was a resort for bandits. In fact, a little town


between Jerusalem and Jaffa is still called after the most
famous of Syrian robbers, who, with six brothers and nearly
a hundred formidable henchmen, was for a score of years the
terror of the community.

In the number of its desolate ruins Palestine takes prece-
dence even of the country of the Nile. Hardly a hill-top rises
in Judaea which is not strewn with vestiges of fortresses or



cities of a former age, reminding us of constant warfare
during successive centuries. Accordingly, the secular asso-
ciations of the Holy Land at first overshadow its sacred ones.

That these gray
rocks had echoed
to the shouts
of Roman le-
gions, conquer-
ing Arabs, and
the steel-clad
warriors of the
Cross, seemed to
us perfectly cred-
ible. But the
Jerusalem of our
childhood the
Judaea of the
Bible appeared
at the outset as
distant from us here as when we had looked forward to this
tour four thousand miles away.

When, therefore, our old guide informed us that from the
next hill we should see Jerusalem, I looked at him incredu-
lously. Then, suddenly, I felt a quick bound of my heart,
and, spurring my horse on to his utmost speed, I galloped
furiously to the summit. Jerusalem at last!

The view of the Holy City as one approaches it from
Jaffa, is not so broad and comprehensive as from other points,
but the first glimpse of its historic walls from any point can
never be forgotten. No spot on earth appeals so powerfully
both to the intellect and the emotions. No equal area of our
globe has been the theatre of events which have so influenced
the history of mankind. It is the city of Abraham, of David,
of Solomon, and of Jesus; the city, too, of Titus and of




Tancred. In one great flood of emotion the old religious
memories of. early years swept over me, until the walls and
towers grew blurred and indistinct, and I could understand
the feelings of the old Crusaders, when they first saw this City
of the Cross, and amid solemn prayers, exultant shouts and
sacred song, each knee sank trembling in the dust, and mailed
warriors from distant lands clasped hands and wept for joy.
Alas! if only we could always feel those first emotions
which the distant vision of Jerusalem excites! But, as is the
case in almost every Oriental town, the shock which one
encounters on a close approach is disenchanting. It is
true, its massive
towers are quite
in keeping with
our historical
and Arabic in-
scriptions on the
Moorish gate re-
call the conquest
of the city by the
Caliph Omar.
But swarms of
pilgrims, tra
ders, and repul-
sive beggars in-
stantly surround
us, amidst a
crowd of horses,
donkeys, dogs


and camels,

and if we lift our eyes to heaven for relief, we see on one
of the sacred walls the fin dc siecle legend: "Cook's Tourist
Office, inside Jaffa Gate." One naturally laughs at this,



because it seems as if there were now no spot on earth
exempt from "personally conducted parties." But let us
do this justice to the name thus displayed on the walls of
Zion: If there be any part of the world where management
like that of this experienced cicerone is needed, Palestine is
the place. Here, where practically no traveling conve-
niences existed twenty-five years ago, arrangements have
been so perfected, that one can now journey through Judaea

in comparative
luxury as well as
safety. We trav-
eled in no "per-
sonally conduct-
ed" party, but
we did avail our-
selves gladly of
the system intro-
duced here by
that friend of
travelers, and,
while perfectly
independent in
our plans, were


reliable guide, tents, bedding, rugs, mules, horses, five ser-
vants and an excellent cook; all so excellent indeed, that,
when outside the city in our tents, we fared much better
than in a Jerusalem hotel. These comforts and attendance,
it may be said, we obtained at an individual cost of about
six dollars a day.

The first thing we accomplished on the morning after our
arrival in the Holy City, was to make the circuit of Jerusa-
lem outside its belt of stone. It is a short excursion, for
the area of the Holy City is small. The wall inclosing it is



only two and a half miles
long, and one can easily
walk round the city in an
hour. Even in ancient
times, although relieved
by suburbs, Jerusalem
must have been exceed-
ingly compact, and at
the period of the He-
brew festivals doubtless
was thronged with peo-
ple. Small though it be,
however, a line of fortifi-
cations has environed it
from the earliest times.
History and poetry alike
frequently refer to this,
as in the Hebrew poet's exultant ode: "Walk about Zion.
Go round about her. Count the towers thereof. Mark
well her _^^^^^^^^MM^^M^ bulwarks."




Nor does it seem strange to find the Holy City fortified.
Its situation naturally makes of it a fortress. Jerusalem is
emphatically a city set upon a hill. It has an altitude of


twenty-six hundred feet above the sea. Built on a natural
bluff, three sides of it look down on deep ravines which
take the place of moats, and would, if filled with water, make
the city a peninsula. Had it possessed a valley on the
fourth side also, Jerusalem would have been impregnable
to ancient modes of warfare. The present walls, which were
built by the Sultan Suleiman in 1542, are of course almost
worthless now; for one hour's bombardment with modern
cannon would make them fall as flat as those of Jericho. Yet,
from a distance, Jerusalem still presents the appearance of a
fortress; for these old battlements are nearly forty feet in
height, and are marked at intervals by projecting towers. Of



these the most remarkable, alike for antiquity and strength,
is the Tower of David, which was the last point in Jerusalem
to yield when the city was captured by the Crusaders; and
when the other turrets were destroyed by the Moslems in
the thirteenth century, this admirable specimen of mural
masonry was spared.

The handsomest of the portals which pierce the walls
encircling Jerusalem is the Damascus Gate. It is compara-
tively modern, as one sees it now, having been built by a
Mohammedan caliph about three hundred years ago, but ex-
cavations prove that its foundations are of great antiquity.
Hence we may lose ourselves in endless speculations as to
the famous men who from this point have gone forth from
Jerusalem to leave their record on the page of history. Thus,


beneath the arch which no doubt rested on these same foun-
dations, Paul may have set forth on his tour of persecution,
"breathing out threatenings and slaughter " toward all



Christians in the north, though destined subsequently, in
Damascus, to become a convert to, and the most powerful
defender of, the Christian faith. It is positively known, too,
that through the Damascus gate, in the year 1099, the brave
crusader, Tancred, and his followers made their victorious
entry into the city.

In one part of the wall, some thirty feet above the
ground, we saw, projecting from the masonry, a small round
column which bore a grotesque resemblance to a peg on which
a giant might have hung his hat. The Moslems have a
tradition that Mohammed will seat himself on this column
at the Day of Judgment, to decide the fate of all the people
who will then be gathered in the vale below. Why he should
choose to sit astride this uncomfortable shaft, instead of
occupying a chair on the top of the broad wall, it is difficult
to conjecture. Here tradition, nevertheless, assigns his seat,
and from this point, it is affirmed, there will be stretched
across the intervening valley to the Mount of Olives a bridge
as narrow as the blade of a Damascus sword, upon which
every one must walk as the decisive test of orthodoxy. It
is expected that the followers of the Prophet will glide along
this elevated road as safely as an acrobat ; but that all others



will fall into the valley yawning to
receive them, and thence will be
transported to perdition !

Aside from such absurdities,
however, the thoughts suggested
by the belt of masonry which sur-
rounds Jerusalem are most impress-
ive. Transfigured by the lurid
light of its eventful history, the
name Jerusalem, or the "City of
Peace," might seem to have been
given to it in irony. Of all the
cities in the world, Jerusalem is the
least entitled to this appellation.
The ''City of Sieges " would be a
more appropriate title, for it is one
of the distinctive facts about Jeru-
salem that it has sustained more
terrible and destructive sieges than

any city upon earth. It withstood for months many of the
finest armies of antiquity; and, when compelled to yield, the
pertinacity and valor of its defenders were punished by an
amount of cruelty and bloodshed unsurpassed in history.
How strange, then, that this Hebrew capital, so deeply





stained with
blood, should
have acquired
universal inter-
est, not through
some mighty
king or warrior,
but thro ugh
the "Prince of
LKPKRS - Peace" an un-

resisting, uncomplaining martyr, who, somewhere on this
very hill, besought His Father to forgive His murderers,
and gave a memorable lesson in humility by washing His
disciples' feet!

An interesting relic of the past, suggestive of the sieges of
Jerusalem, is the fragment of an arch, which was, no doubt,
the starting-point of the high bridge that rose above a por-
tion of the city, and joined the two great hills on which Jeru-
salem was built, Mount Zion and Mount Moriah. It
thrills the be-
holder to stand
beside the base
of this huge
arch, and think
that on the
bridge it once
upheld, the
Roman con-
queror, Titus,
advanced to
hold a confer-
ence with the
leading Jews,
when, having




captured one-half of Jerusalem, he called upon the other
section to surrender. His offers, however, were treated with
disdain; for trusting still that Israel's God would rescue
them, although the remainder of the city was in ruins, and
though the Romans had already occupied their Holy Temple,
the Jews fought on in desperation, to die by thousands round
the ruined palace of their kings. The world has rarely seen
a more impressive proof of national faith and heroism.

At one place in our walk about the Holy City we saw
some wretched men and women crouching in the sun, and
sheltered by a
mass of paving-
stones. They
called to us in
half -articulate
words, rattled
tin boxes partly
filled with coins,
in appeal for
charity, and
finally held out
for our inspec-
tion fingerless hands and toeless feet. We started back,
regarding them with mingled horror and compassion, for
these we knew must be the hideous lepers of Jerusalem,
about whom we had often read. We threw to them some
pennies, for which they struggled furiously, the helpless and
the disappointed ones uttering meantime heart-rending cries.
Physicians claim that leprosy is not infectious, but we took
care to keep at a safe distance from these loathsome beggars,
and, like the Levite of old, to pass, though sorrowfully, on the
other side. They are, however, genuine objects of compas-
sion, and, as they cannot work, they must be supported
either by the State or by private charity. Accordingly, it was


with satisfaction that we beheld, not far from the Jaffa Gate,
the hospital erected in 1867 for these pitiable creatures.
They should all be secluded there; but liberty is still allowed
them, and they often marry, thus propagating the disease,
since this unfortunate evil is hereditary.

It is not strange to find these lepers in Jerusalem ; for,
though by no means limited to the Israelites, that race, when
in the Orient, has always suffered more or less from this ter-
rible malady.
Yet the Mosaic
regulations in
regard to it were
very strict.
Those who had
any symptoms
of it were com-
pelled to show
themselves to
the priest and
undergo a seclu-
sion of seven
days. If they
were then dis-


covered to be really leprous, they were obliged to live outside
the town, crying "Unclean, Unclean," to every one who
might approach them, and dragging out a life of self-abhor-
ring misery, until relieved by a welcome death.

Finally, having made the circuit of Jerusalem, \ve passed
through one of the gates and found ourselves in a thorough-
fare called David Street. It is precisely in its streets that
the Jerusalem of the present day is disappointing. Outside
the walls, along the line of its historic battlements, or look-
ing on the surrounding hills, which are the same as in the
time of Christ, one feels the dignity and sanctity of the Holy




City, and can understand why it was
said to be "Beautiful for situation,
the joy of the whole earth," and why
the Psalmist cried with passionate
enthusiasm: "If I forget thee, O
Jerusalem, let my right hand forget
her cunning." But in its present
ill-paved, narrow streets, swarming
with poverty-stricken Hebrews, scowl-
ing Turks and half-crazed pilgrims of
all nationalities, the traveler is sick-
ened by the filth of the place and
wearied by the fraud and fanaticism which everywhere pre-
vail. An effort of the will is needed here to rise above
the environing physical and moral degradation, and to
derive inspiration from the memory of the scenes which have
endeared this city to mankind for nearly twenty centuries.
Yet it must be confessed that many of its streets are pic-
turesque. In fact, so narrow are the passageways, and

so high and

* .Will' H g loom y arethe

adjoining walls,
that we contin-
ually felt, while
walking here,
that we were
passing through
the corridors of
some huge for-
tress. There
arc few outside
windows in the
houses, and
even these are


1 3 6



The most renowned and sacred
City is the Via Dol-
orosa, believed by
many to be the route
along which the Sa-
viour bore His cross
to Calvary. If it
could be established
for a certainty that
this was the actual
pathway of the Man
of Sorrows on His
way to death, who
could behold it save
with tear-dimmed
eyes? But it need
hardly be remarked
that there is no like-
lihood that such is

either grated or hid-
den by projecting
lattices. Yet one
should bear in mind
that, in all such Ori-
ental residences, the
light and air are
gained from inner
courtyards. Hence
from these unattract-
ive walls and arches
one can form no idea
of the comfort, and
even luxury, which
possibly exist within,
street within the Holy






the case. The general
direction of the street may
possibly be the same, but
its ancient level undoubt-
edly lies forty or fifty feet
below the pavement of to-
day. The soil on its
surface surmounts the ac-
cumulation of the wrecks
of centuries.

Nevertheless, at one
place the Via Dolorosa is
bordered by a structure
which has for many genera-
tions borne the name of
the Ecce Homo Arch, and
is supposed to mark the
spot where Pontius Pilate, pointing to the guiltless prisoner
before him, uttered the well-known words, "Behold the
man!" Close by it is a little church, which, like the street
itself, is often thronged with pious pilgrims. In fact, almost
every foot of the Via Dolorosa
is consecrated to some sad
event connected with the path
to Calvary. Thus, one spot
is believed to indicate the place
where Jesus took the cross
upon His shoulders; another
where He fell in weakness;
another still where He ad-
dressed the women of Jerusa-
lem ; and yet another where
Veronica, it is said, wiped the
perspiration from His brow.




In this street also are the houses of Caiaphas and of
Veronica, as well as that of Dives, before which lay the
beggar Lazarus. At a neighboring corner, now lighted by
an ever-burning lamp, Jesus, on His way to Calvary, is said
to have met His Mother. Some twenty feet from this, there
is a slight depression in the wall, to which tradition points
as that caused by Christ's elbow as He pressed against it in
His fall. In sight of this, also, is the stone on which the
thirty pieces of silver were counted out to Judas, as well
as the column on which the cock crew at the denial of Peter.
To some readers the mention of these localities may seem
sacrilegious; but no description of Jerusalem would be com-
plete unless it gave due prominence to these so-called
"Holy Sites, ' which have been revered for centuries by
thousands. Moreover, though every one of them be dis-
carded as historically valueless, their presence does not impair



the transcendent value of the Christian religion, nor do they
in the least detract from the incomparable teachings and in-
spiring life of Him who died upon the Cross.

However, concerning one portion of Jerusalem tradition is
beyond question trustworthy. It is the area now occupied
by the Mosque of Omar. Certain localities in this world have


been from earliest times reserved for worship. This hill is
one of them. It antedates by many centuries the age of
Solomon. Even before the days of Abraham it had been
used for sacrificial rites; and to this height that patriarch
came and offered up the ram in place of his son Isaac. Years
after, in the splendid temple built by Solomon on this site,
the solemn ritual of the Jews went on for centuries; and,
finally, for more than a thousand years the hill has been a
place of worship for the followers of Mohammed.

Eight handsome gateways open into its sacred courtyard.
In former times, black dervishes, with drawn daggers, stood




day and night beside these gates to
keep the sacred precinct unpolluted
by the infidel. In fact, till recently,
no Christian, with rare exceptions,
was permitted to set foot within this
hallowed area. But now, save on
the occasion of a Moslem festival,
the traveler will have no difficulty in
entering, if he will pay the required
fee. At first it may seem strange
that this old Hebrew site should be
held sacred by Mohammedans. Yet it
is easily understood, when we remem-
ber that Mohammed derived most of
his religious knowledge from the Jews, and looked upon
Jerusalem as a place sanctified by the prayers of Hebrew
patriarchs and prophets.

In this connection it is interesting to recall the fact that
in their time the Jews were as exclusive as the Moslems.
Not long ago an archaeologist discovered one of the tablets
of the Hebrew
Temple, which,
verifying the
statement of
Josephus, for-
bade strangers
to enter the
privileged area.
It reads as fol-
lows: "No for-
eigner is to step
within the bal-
ustrade around
the temple and




its enclosure. Whoever is caught,

will be responsible to himself for his

death, which will ensue." This gives

a startling reality to the event narrated

in the Acts of the Apostles, when

Paul, suspected of having introduced

a stranger into the Temple, would

have been put to death but for the

prompt interference of the com-
mander of the fortress (the present

Tower Antonia), who with his soldiers

hastened to Paul's rescue.

The principal building in this great

enclosure is the Dome of the Rock,

popularly known as the Mosque of

Omar. It is a beautiful and graceful structure, embellishing

and dignifying the entire city. Unlike most mosques, there

rise from it no tapering minarets, with exquisitely chiseled

balconies, where the muezzin calls to prayer. Its elegantly

modeled dome is deemed sufficient; and this, indeed, though

ninety - six feet
in height, is so
extremely light
and buoyant in
appearance, that
it would not sur-
prise the traveler
much to see it
rise and float
away toward
Heaven, as Mo-
hammed himself
is said to have
done from this




very spot. The
mosque itself
is in the form
of a richly
decorated octa-
gon. The lower
half of the walls
is covered with
white marble,
the upper
part is an ex-
panse of porce-
lain tiles, whose
colors blend in

though intricate designs. Around them also, like a sculp-
tured frieze of blue and white enameled tiles, are inter-
woven passages from the Koran.

The theology of the builders of this edifice cannot be mis-
understood, for among various
verses from the Moslem Scrip-
tures here inscribed, are these:
"The Messiah, Jesus, was
the son of Mary and Joseph.
He was also the ambassador
of God. Believe in God and

Mfei^ridfl ^R* 'I'" ambassador, but do not


say that God is three. For

God is one, and cannot have
a son. Pray then to God
alone: That is the only
way." Moreover, not con-
tent with the religious teach-
ings carved upon the walls,




a Moslem priest, from a beautiful marble pulpit in this
courtyard, every Friday proclaims to the faithful the signif-
icance and sanctity of all around them.

Having exchanged our shoes for slippers, according to the
Moslem requirements, lest we should defile this consecrated
area, we entered, first, a little gem of architecture, which we
supposed to be one of the fountains for ablution always found
in the vicinity of mosques. It is, however, an antechamber
where the faithful pray before they pass within the mosque
itself. This graceful pavilion, the walls of which are all inlaid
with exquisite mosaic, bears the name of "David's Judgment
Hall," for the Moslems claim that King David formerly
hung a chain here as a test of men's veracity. All truthful wit-
nesses could touch it without ill effects; but if a liar handled
it, a link fell off at once, one link for every lie. At this
rate it is not surprising that the chain speedily lost its links.
They long since disappeared.

1 4 8


From this anteroom for prayer, we advanced to and
entered the mosque itself. Photography here cannot avail
us much. An exceedingly "dim religious light " pervades the

1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryJohn L. (John Lawson) StoddardJohn L. Stoddard's lectures : illustrated and embellished with views of the world's famous places and people, being the identical discourses delivered during the past eighteen years under the title of the Stoddard lectures (Volume 2) → online text (page 5 of 12)