The enthusiasm that had glowed, or seemed to glow, within me for one blessed moment when I knelt by the shrine of the Virgin at Nazareth, was not rekindled at Jerusalem. In the stead of the solemn gloom and the deep stillness that of right belonged to the Holy City, there was the hum and the bustle of active life. It was the “height of the season.” The Easter ceremonies drew near. The pilgrims were flocking in from all quarters; and although their objects were partly at least of a religious character, yet their “arrivals” brought as much stir and liveliness to the city as if they had come up to marry their daughters.
The votaries who every year crowd to the Holy Sepulchre are chiefly of the Greek and Armenian Churches. They are not drawn into Palestine by a mere sentimental longing to stand upon the ground trodden by our Saviour, but rather they perform the pilgrimage as a plain duty strongly inculcated by their religion. A very great proportion of those who belong to the Greek Church contrive at some time or other in the course of their lives to achieve the enterprise. Many in their infancy and childhood are brought to the holy sites by their parents, but those who have not had this advantage will often make it the main object of their lives to save money enough for this holy undertaking.
The pilgrims begin to arrive in Palestine some weeks before the Easter festival of the Greek Church. They come from Egypt, from all parts of Syria, from Armenia and Asia Minor, from Stamboul, from Roumelia, from the provinces of the Danube, and from all the Russias. Most of these people bring with them some articles of merchandise, but I myself believe (notwithstanding the common taunt against pilgrims) that they do this rather as a mode of paying the expenses of their journey, than from a spirit of mercenary speculation. They generally travel in families, for the women are of course more ardent than their husbands in undertaking these pious enterprises, and they take care to bring with them all their children, however young; for the efficacy of the rites does not depend upon the age of the votary, so that people whose careful mothers have obtained for them the benefit of the pilgrimage in early life, are saved from the expense and trouble of undertaking the journey at a later age. The superior veneration so often excited by objects that are distant and unknown shows not perhaps the wrongheadedness of a man, but rather the transcendent power of his imagination. However this may be, and whether it is by mere obstinacy that they poke their way through intervening distance, or whether they come by the winged strength of fancy, quite certainly the pilgrims who flock to Palestine from the most remote homes are the people most eager in the enterprise, and in number too they bear a very high proportion to the whole mass.
The great bulk of the pilgrims make their way by sea to the port of Jaffa. A number of families will charter a vessel amongst them, all bringing their own provisions, which are of the simplest and cheapest kind. On board every vessel thus freighted there is, I believe, a priest, who helps the people in their religious exercises, and tries (and fails) to maintain something like order and harmony. The vessels employed in this service are usually Greek brigs or brigantines and schooners, and the number of passengers stowed in them is almost always horribly excessive. The voyages are sadly protracted, not only by the land-seeking, storm-flying habits of the Greek seamen, but also by their endless schemes and speculations, which are for ever tempting them to touch at the nearest port. The voyage too must be made in winter, in order that Jerusalem may be reached some weeks before the Greek Easter, and thus by the time they attain to the holy shrines the pilgrims have really and truly undergone a very respectable quantity of suffering. I once saw one of these pious cargoes put ashore on the coast of Cyprus, where they had touched for the purpose of visiting (not Paphos, but) some Christian sanctuary. I never saw (no, never even in the most horridly stuffy ballroom) such a discomfortable collection of human beings. Long huddled together in a pitching and rolling prison, fed on beans, exposed to some real danger and to terrors without end, they had been tumbled about for many wintry weeks in the chopping seas of the Mediterranean. As soon as they landed they stood upon the beach and chanted a hymn of thanks; the chant was morne and doleful, but really the poor people were looking so miserable, that one could not fairly expect from them any lively outpouring of gratitude.
When the pilgrims have landed at Jaffa they hire camels, horses, mules, or donkeys, and make their way as well as they can to the Holy City. The space fronting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre soon becomes a kind of bazaar, or rather, perhaps, reminds you of an English fair. On this spot the pilgrims display their merchandise, and there too the trading residents of the place offer their goods for sale. I have never, I think, seen elsewhere in Asia so much commercial animation as upon this square of ground by the church door; the “money-changers” seemed to be almost as brisk and lively as if they had been WITHIN the temple.
When I entered the church I found a babel of worshippers. Greek, Roman, and Armenian priests were performing their different rites in various nooks and corners, and crowds of disciples were rushing about in all directions, some laughing and talking, some begging, but most of them going round in a regular and methodical way to kiss the sanctified spots, and speak the appointed syllables, and lay down the accustomed coin. If this kissing of the shrines had seemed as though it were done at the bidding of enthusiasm, or of any poor sentiment even feebly approaching to it, the sight would have been less odd to English eyes; but as it was, I stared to see grown men thus steadily and carefully embracing the sticks and the stones, not from love or from zeal (else God forbid that I should have stared!), but from a calm sense of duty; they seemed to be not “working out,” but TRANSACTING the great business of salvation.
Dthemetri, however, who generally came with me when I went out, in order to do duty as interpreter, really had in him some enthusiasm. He was a zealous and almost fanatical member of the Greek Church, and had long since performed the pilgrimage, so now great indeed was the pride and delight with which he guided me from one holy spot to another. Every now and then, when he came to an unoccupied shrine, he fell down on his knees and performed devotion; he was almost distracted by the temptations that surrounded him; there were so many stones absolutely requiring to be kissed, that he rushed about happily puzzled and sweetly teased, like “Jack among the maidens.”
A Protestant, familiar with the Holy Scriptures, but ignorant of tradition and the geography of modern Jerusalem, finds himself a good deal “mazed” when he first looks for the sacred sites. The Holy Sepulchre is not in a field without the walls, but in the midst, and in the best part of the town, under the roof of the great church which I have been talking about. It is a handsome tomb of oblong form, partly subterranean and partly above ground, and closed in on all sides except the one by which it is entered. You descend into the interior by a few steps, and there find an altar with burning tapers. This is the spot which is held in greater sanctity than any other at Jerusalem. When you have seen enough of it you feel perhaps weary of the busy crowd, and inclined for a gallop; you ask your dragoman whether there will be time before sunset to procure horses and take a ride to Mount Calvary. Mount Calvary, signor? — eccolo! it is UPSTAIRS— ON THE FIRST FLOOR. In effect you ascend, if I remember rightly, just thirteen steps, and then you are shown the now golden sockets in which the crosses of our Lord and the two thieves were fixed. All this is startling, but the truth is, that the city having gathered round the Sepulchre, which is the main point of interest, has crept northward, and thus in great measure are occasioned the many geographical surprises that puzzle the “Bible Christian.”
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre comprises very compendiously almost all the spots associated with the closing career of our Lord. Just there, on your right, He stood and wept; by the pillar, on your left, He was scourged; on the spot, just before you, He was crowned with the crown of thorns; up there He was crucified, and down here He was buried. A locality is assigned to every, the minutest, event connected with the recorded history of our Saviour; even the spot where the cock crew when Peter denied his Master is ascertained, and surrounded by the walls of an Armenian convent. Many Protestants are wont to treat these traditions contemptuously, and those who distinguish themselves from their brethren by the appellation of “Bible Christians” are almost fierce in their denunciation of these supposed errors.
It is admitted, I believe, by everybody that the formal sanctification of these spots was the act of the Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine, but I think it is fair to suppose that she was guided by a careful regard to the then prevailing traditions. Now the nature of the ground upon which Jerusalem stands is such, that the localities belonging to the events there enacted might have been more easily, and permanently, ascertained by tradition than those of any city that I know of. Jerusalem, whether ancient or modern, was built upon and surrounded by sharp, salient rocks intersected by deep ravines. Up to the time of the siege Mount Calvary of course must have been well enough known to the people of Jerusalem; the destruction of the mere buildings could not have obliterated from any man’s memory the names of those steep rocks and narrow ravines in the midst of which the city had stood. It seems to me, therefore, highly probable that in fixing the site of Calvary the Empress was rightly guided. Recollect, too, that the voice of tradition at Jerusalem is quite unanimous, and that Romans, Greeks, Armenians, and Jews, all hating each other sincerely, concur in assigning the same localities to the events told in the Gospel. I concede, however, that the attempt of the Empress to ascertain the sites of the minor events cannot be safely relied upon. With respect, for instance, to the certainty of the spot where the cock crew, I am far from being convinced.
Supposing that the Empress acted arbitrarily in fixing the holy sites, it would seem that she followed the Gospel of St. John, and that the geography sanctioned by her can be more easily reconciled with that history than with the accounts of the other Evangelists.
The authority exercised by the Mussulman Government in relation to the holy sites is in one view somewhat humbling to the Christians, for it is almost as an arbitrator between the contending sects (this always, of course, for the sake of pecuniary advantage) that the Mussulman lends his contemptuous aid; he not only grants, but enforces toleration. All persons, of whatever religion, are allowed to go as they will into every part of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but in order to prevent indecent contests, and also from motives arising out of money payments, the Turkish Government assigns the peculiar care of each sacred spot to one of the ecclesiastic bodies. Since this guardianship carries with it the receipt of the coins which the pilgrims leave upon the shrines, it is strenuously fought for by all the rival Churches, and the artifices of intrigue are busily exerted at Stamboul in order to procure the issue or revocation of the firmans by which the coveted privilege is granted. In this strife the Greek Church has of late years signally triumphed, and the most famous of the shrines are committed to the care of their priesthood. They possess the golden socket in which stood the cross of our Lord whilst the Latins are obliged to content themselves with the apertures in which were inserted the crosses of the two thieves. They are naturally discontented with that poor privilege, and sorrowfully look back to the days of their former glory — the days when Napoleon was Emperor, and Sebastiani ambassador at the Porte. It seems that the “citizen” sultan, old Louis Philippe, has done very little indeed for Holy Church in Palestine.
Although the pilgrims perform their devotions at the several shrines with so little apparent enthusiasm, they are driven to the verge of madness by the miracle displayed before them on Easter Saturday. Then it is that the Heaven-sent fire issues from the Holy Sepulchre. The pilgrims all assemble in the great church, and already, long before the wonder is worked, they are wrought by anticipation of God’s sign, as well as by their struggles for room and breathing space, to a most frightful state of excitement. At length the chief priest of the Greeks, accompanied (of all people in the world) by the Turkish Governor, enters the tomb. After this, there is a long pause, and then suddenly from out of the small apertures on either side of the sepulchre there issue long, shining flames. The pilgrims now rush forward, madly struggling to light their tapers at the holy fire. This is the dangerous moment, and many lives are often lost.
The year before that of my going to Jerusalem, Ibrahim Pasha, from some whim, or motive of policy, chose to witness the miracle. The vast church was of course thronged, as it always is on that awful day. It seems that the appearance of the fire was delayed for a very long time, and that the growing frenzy of the people was heightened by suspense. Many, too, had already sunk under the effect of the heat and the stifling atmosphere, when at last the fire flashed from the sepulchre. Then a terrible struggle ensued; many sunk and were crushed. Ibrahim had taken his station in one of the galleries, but now, feeling perhaps his brave blood warmed by the sight and sound of such strife, he took upon himself to quiet the people by his personal presence, and descended into the body of the church with only a few guards. He had forced his way into the midst of the dense crowd, when unhappily he fainted away; his guards shrieked out, and the event instantly became known. A body of soldiers recklessly forced their way through the crowd, trampling over every obstacle that they might save the life of their general. Nearly two hundred people were killed in the struggle.
The following year, however, the Government took better measures for the prevention of these calamities. I was not present at the ceremony, having gone away from Jerusalem some time before, but I afterwards returned into Palestine, and I then learned that the day had passed off without any disturbance of a fatal kind. It is, however, almost too much to expect that so many ministers of peace can assemble without finding some occasion for strife, and in that year a tribe of wild Bedouins became the subject of discord. These men, it seems, led an Arab life in some of the desert tracts bordering on the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, but were not connected with any of the great ruling tribes. Some whim or notion of policy had induced them to embrace Christianity; but they were grossly ignorant of the rudiments of their adopted faith, and having no priest with them in their desert, they had as little knowledge of religious ceremonies as of religion itself. They were not even capable of conducting themselves in a place of worship with ordinary decorum, but would interrupt the service with scandalous cries and warlike shouts. Such is the account the Latins give of them, but I have never heard the other side of the question. These wild fellows, notwithstanding their entire ignorance of all religion, are yet claimed by the Greeks, not only as proselytes who have embraced Christianity generally, but as converts to the particular doctrines and practice of their Church. The people thus alleged to have concurred in the great schism of the Eastern Empire are never, I believe, within the walls of a church, or even of any building at all, except upon this occasion of Easter; and as they then never fail to find a row of some kind going on by the side of the sepulchre, they fancy, it seems, that the ceremonies there enacted are funeral games of a martial character, held in honour of a deceased chieftain, and that a Christian festival is a peculiar kind of battle, fought between walls, and without cavalry. It does not appear, however, that these men are guilty of any ferocious acts, or that they attempt to commit depredations. The charge against them is merely that by their way of applauding the performance, by their horrible cries and frightful gestures, they destroy the solemnity of divine service, and upon this ground the Franciscans obtained a firman for the exclusion of such tumultuous worshippers. The Greeks, however, did not choose to lose the aid of their wild converts merely because they were a little backward in their religious education, and they therefore persuaded them to defy the firman by entering the city en masse and overawing their enemies. The Franciscans, as well as the Government authorities, were obliged to give way, and the Arabs triumphantly marched into the church. The festival, however, must have seemed to them rather flat, for although there may have been some “casualties” in the way of eyes black and noses bloody, and women “missing,” there was no return of “killed.”
Formerly the Latin Catholics concurred in acknowledging (but not, I hope, in working) the annual miracle of the heavenly fire, but they have for many years withdrawn their countenance from this exhibition, and they now repudiate it as a trick of the Greek Church. Thus of course the violence of feeling with which the rival Churches meet at the Holy Sepulchre on Easter Saturday is greatly increased, and a disturbance of some kind is certain. In the year I speak of, though no lives were lost, there was, as it seems, a tough struggle in the church. I was amused at hearing of a taunt that was thrown that day upon an English traveller. He had taken his station in a convenient part of the church, and was no doubt displaying that peculiar air of serenity and gratification with which an English gentleman usually looks on at a row, when one of the Franciscans came by, all reeking from the fight, and was so disgusted at the coolness and placid contentment of the Englishman (who was a guest at the convent), that he forgot his monkish humility as well as the duties of hospitality, and plainly said, “You sleep under our roof, you eat our bread, you drink our wine, and then when Easter Saturday comes you don’t fight for us!”
Yet these rival Churches go on quietly enough till their blood is up. The terms on which they live remind one of the peculiar relation subsisting at Cambridge between “town and gown.”
These contests and disturbances certainly do not originate with the lay-pilgrims, the great body of whom are, as I believe, quiet and inoffensive people. It is true, however, that their pious enterprise is believed by them to operate as a counterpoise for a multitude of sins, whether past or future, and perhaps they exert themselves in after life to restore the balance of good and evil. The Turks have a maxim which, like most cynical apophthegms, carries with it the buzzing trumpet of falsehood as well as the small, fine “sting of truth.” “If your friend has made the pilgrimage once, distrust him; if he has made the pilgrimage twice, cut him dead!” The caution is said to be as applicable to the visitants of Jerusalem as to those of Mecca, but I cannot help believing that the frailties of all the hadjis, 28 whether Christian or Mahometan, are greatly exaggerated. I certainly regarded the pilgrims to Palestine as a well-disposed orderly body of people, not strongly enthusiastic, but desirous to comply with the ordinances of their religion, and to attain the great end of salvation as quietly and economically as possible.
When the solemnities of Easter are concluded the pilgrims move off in a body to complete their good work by visiting the sacred scenes in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, including the wilderness of John the Baptist, Bethlehem, and above all, the Jordan, for to bathe in those sacred waters is one of the chief objects of the expedition. All the pilgrims — men, women, and children — are submerged en chemise, and the saturated linen is carefully wrapped up and preserved as a burial-dress that shall enure for salvation in the realms of death.
I saw the burial of a pilgrim. He was a Greek, miserably poor, and very old; he had just crawled into the Holy City, and had reached at once the goal of his pious journey and the end of his sufferings upon earth. There was no coffin nor wrapper, and as I looked full upon the face of the dead I saw how deeply it was rutted with the ruts of age and misery. The priest, strong and portly, fresh, fat, and alive with the life of the animal kingdom, unpaid, or ill paid for his work, would scarcely deign to mutter out his forms, butout impatiently, “Yalla! Goor!” (Come! look sharp!), and then the dead Greek was seized. His limbs yielded inertly to the rude men that handled them, and down he went into his grave, so roughly bundled in that his neck was twisted by the fall, so twisted, that if the sharp malady of life were still upon him the old man would have shrieked and groaned, and the lines of his face would have quivered with pain. The lines of his face were not moved, and the old man lay still and heedless, so well cured of that tedious life-ache, that nothing could hurt him now. His clay was ITSELF AGAIN— cool, firm, and tough. The pilgrim had found great rest. I threw the accustomed handful of the holy soil upon his patient face, and then, and in less than a minute, the earth closed coldly round him.
|hurried over the words with shocking haste.||Presently he called|
I did not say “alas!” (nobody ever does that I know of, though the word is so frequently written). I thought the old man had got rather well out of the scrape of being alive, and poor.
The destruction of the mere buildings in such a place as Jerusalem would not involve the permanent dispersion of the inhabitants, for the rocky neighbourhood in which the town is situate abounds in caves, which would give an easy refuge to the people until they gained an opportunity of rebuilding their dwellings; therefore I could not help looking upon the Jews of Jerusalem as being in some sort the representatives, if not the actual descendants, of the rascals who crucified our Saviour. Supposing this to be the case, I felt that there would be some interest in knowing how the events of the Gospel history were regarded by the Israelites of modern Jerusalem. The result of my inquiry upon this subject was, so far as it went, entirely favourable to the truth of Christianity. I understood that THE PERFORMANCE OF THE MIRACLES WAS NOT DOUBTED BY ANY OF THE JEWS IN THE PLACE. All of them concurred in attributing the works of our Lord to the influence of magic, but they were divided as to the species of enchantment from which the power proceeded. The great mass of the Jewish people believe, I fancy, that the miracles had been wrought by aid of the powers of darkness, but many, and those the more enlightened, would call Jesus “the good Magician.” To Europeans repudiating the notion of all magic, good or bad, the opinion of the Jews as to the agency by which the miracles were worked is a matter of no importance; but the circumstance of their admitting that those miracles WERE IN FACT PERFORMED, is certainly curious, and perhaps not quite immaterial.
If you stay in the Holy City long enough to fall into anything like regular habits of amusement and occupation, and to become, in short, for the time “a man about town” at Jerusalem, you will necessarily lose the enthusiasm which you may have felt when you trod the sacred soil for the first time, and it will then seem almost strange to you to find yourself so entirely surrounded in all your daily pursuits by the designs and sounds of religion. Your hotel is a monastery, your rooms are cells, the landlord is a stately abbot, and the waiters are hooded monks. If you walk out of the town you find yourself on the Mount of Olives, or in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, or on the Hill of Evil Counsel. If you mount your horse and extend your rambles you will be guided to the wilderness of St. John, or the birthplace of our Saviour. Your club is the great Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where everybody meets everybody every day. If you lounge through the town, your Bond Street is the Via Dolorosa, and the object of your hopeless affections is some maid or matron all forlorn, and sadly shrouded in her pilgrim’s robe. If you would hear music, it must be the chanting of friars; if you look at pictures, you see virgins with mis-fore-shortened arms, or devils out of drawing, or angels tumbling up the skies in impious perspective. If you would make any purchases, you must go again to the church doors, and when you inquire for the manufactures of the place, you find that they consist of double-blessed beads and sanctified shells. These last are the favourite tokens which the pilgrims carry off with them. The shell is graven, or rather scratched, on the white side with a rude drawing of the Blessed Virgin or of the Crucifixion or some other scriptural subject. Having passed this stage it goes into the hands of a priest. By him it is subjected to some process for rendering it efficacious against the schemes of our ghostly enemy. The manufacture is then complete, and is deemed to be fit for use.
The village of Bethlehem lies prettily couched on the slope of a hill. The sanctuary is a subterranean grotto, and is committed to the joint-guardianship of the Romans, Greeks, and Armenians, who vie with each other in adorning it. Beneath an altar gorgeously decorated, and lit with everlasting fires, there stands the low slab of stone which marks the holy site of the Nativity; and near to this is a hollow scooped out of the living rock. Here the infant Jesus was laid. Near the spot of the Nativity is the rock against which the Blessed Virgin was leaning when she presented her babe to the adoring shepherds.
Many of those Protestants who are accustomed to despise tradition consider that this sanctuary is altogether unscriptural, that a grotto is not a stable, and that mangers are made of wood. It is perfectly true, however, that the many grottos and caves which are found among the rocks of Judea were formerly used for the reception of cattle. They are so used at this day. I have myself seen grottos appropriated to this purpose.
You know what a sad and sombre decorum it is that outwardly reigns through the lands oppressed by Moslem sway. The Mahometans make beauty their prisoner, and enforce such a stern and gloomy morality, or at all events, such a frightfully close semblance of it, that far and long the wearied traveller may go without catching one glimpse of outward happiness. By a strange chance in these latter days it happened that, alone of all the places in the land, this Bethlehem, the native village of our Lord, escaped the moral yoke of the Mussulmans, and heard again, after ages of dull oppression, the cheering clatter of social freedom, and the voices of laughing girls. It was after an insurrection, which had been raised against the authority of Mehemet Ali, that Bethlehem was freed from the hateful laws of Asiatic decorum. The Mussulmans of the village had taken an active part in the movement, and when Ibrahim had quelled it, his wrath was still so hot, that he put to death every one of the few Mahometans of Bethlehem who had not already fled. The effect produced upon the Christian inhabitants by the sudden removal of this restraint was immense. The village smiled once more. It is true that such sweet freedom could not long endure. Even if the population of the place should continue to be entirely Christian, the sad decorum of the Mussulmans, or rather of the Asiatics, would sooner or later be restored by the force of opinion and custom. But for a while the sunshine would last, and when I was at Bethlehem, though long after the flight of the Mussulmans, the cloud of Moslem propriety had not yet come back to cast its cold shadow upon life. When you reach that gladsome village, pray Heaven there still may be heard there the voice of free, innocent girls. It will sound so dearly welcome!
To a Christian, and thoroughbred Englishman, not even the licentiousness which generally accompanies it can compensate for the oppressiveness of that horrible outward decorum, which turns the cities and the palaces of Asia into deserts and gaols. So, I say, when you see and hear them, those romping girls of Bethlehem will gladden your very soul. Distant at first, and then nearer and nearer the timid flock will gather around you, with their large burning eyes gravely fixed against yours, so that they see into your brain; and if you imagine evil against them, they will know of your ill thought before it is yet well born, and will fly and be gone in the moment. But presently, if you will only look virtuous enough to prevent alarm, and vicious enough to avoid looking silly, the blithe maidens will draw nearer and nearer to you, and soon there will be one, the bravest of the sisters, who will venture right up to your side and touch the hem of your coat, in playful defiance of the danger, and then the rest will follow the daring of their youthful leader, and gather close round you, and hold a shrill controversy on the wondrous formation that you call a hat, and the cunning of the hands that clothed you with cloth so fine; and then growing more profound in their researches, they will pass from the study of your mere dress to a serious contemplation of your stately height, and your nut-brown hair, and the ruddy glow of your English cheeks. And if they catch a glimpse of your ungloved fingers, then again will they make the air ring with their sweet screams of wonder and amazement, as they compare the fairness of your hand with their warmer tints, and even with the hues of your own sunburnt face. Instantly the ringleader of the gentle rioters imagines a new sin; with tremulous boldness she touches, then grasps your hand, and smoothes it gently betwixt her own, and pries curiously into its make and colour, as though it were silk of Damascus, or shawl of Cashmere. And when they see you even then still sage and gentle, the joyous girls will suddenly and screamingly, and all at once, explain to each other that you are surely quite harmless and innocent, a lion that makes no spring, a bear that never hugs, and upon this faith, one after the other, they will take your passive hand, and strive to explain it, and make it a theme and a controversy. But the one, the fairest and the sweetest of all, is yet the most timid; she shrinks from the daring deeds of her play-mates, and seeks shelter behind their sleeves, and strives to screen her glowing consciousness from the eyes that look upon her. But her laughing sisters will have none of this cowardice; they vow that the fair one SHALL be their ‘complice, SHALL share their dangers, SHALL touch the hand of the stranger; they seize her small wrist, and drag her forward by force, and at last, whilst yet she strives to turn away, and to cover up her whole soul under the folds of downcast eyelids, they vanquish her utmost strength, they vanquish your utmost modesty, and marry her hand to yours. The quick pulse springs from her fingers, and throbs like a whisper upon your listening palm. For an instant her large timid eyes are upon you; in an instant they are shrouded again, and there comes a blush so burning, that the frightened girls stay their shrill laughter, as though they had played too perilously, and harmed their gentle sister. A moment, and all with a sudden intelligence turn away and fly like deer, yet soon again like deer they wheel round and return, and stand, and gaze upon the danger, until they grow brave once more.
“I regret to observe, that the removal of the moral restraint imposed by the presence of the Mahometan inhabitants has led to a certain degree of boisterous, though innocent, levity in the bearing of the Christians, and more especially in the demeanour of those who belong to the younger portion of the female population; but I feel assured that a more thorough knowledge of the principles of their own pure religion will speedily restore these young people to habits of propriety, even more strict than those which were imposed upon them by the authority of their Mahometan brethren.” Bah! thus you might chant, if you chose; but loving the truth, you will not so disown sweet Bethlehem; you will not disown or dissemble your right good hearty delight when you find, as though in a desert, this gushing spring of fresh and joyous girlhood.
28 Hadj a pilgrim.
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