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GREECE, PALESTINE, EGYPT,
I was employed for some hours in noting down with pencil my remarks on the places which I had just visited; a practice which I followed during the whole
my residence at Jerusalem, running about all day, and writing at night. Very early in the morning of the 7th of October, the procurator entered my apartment, and informed me how matters stood between the pacha and the superior. We concerted our measures accordingly. My firmans were sent to Abdallah, who flew into a passion, shouted, threatened, but at last thought fit to lower
his demands. I am sorry that I cannot insert the copy of a letter written by Father Bonaventura de Nola to General Sebastiani, which copy I received from Bonaventura himself. Besides giving a history of the pacha, it states facts not less honorable to France than to General Sebastiani. This letter I should not venture to publish without the permission of the person to whom it is addressed; and, unfortunately, the General's absence deprives me of the means of obtaining such permission.
Nothing but the strong desire which I felt, to be of service to the fathers of Palestine, could for a moment have diverted my attention from a visit to the Holy Sepulchre. About nine the same morning I sallied from the convent, attended by two friars, a drogman, my servant, and a janissary. I repaired to the church which encloses the tomb of Jesus Christ. All preceding travellers have described this church, the most venerable in the world, whether we think as philosophers or as Christians. Here I am reduced to an absolute dilemma. Shall I give an accurate delineation of the sacred scenes? If so, I can but repeat what has been said before: never was subject less known to modern readers, and never was subject more completely exhausted. Shall I omit the description of those places? In this case should I not leave out the most important part of my travels, and exclude what constitutes their object and their end? After long hesitation, I determined to describe the principal stations of Jerusalem, from the following considerations :
1. Nobody now reads the ancient pilgrimages to Jerusalem; and what is very old will probably appear quite new to the majority of readers.
2. The church of the Holy Sepulchre no longer exists; it was totally destroyed by fire since my return from Judea. I am, I may say, the last traveller by whom it was visited, and, for the same I shall be its last historian.
But as I have not the presumption to suppose that I can excel the very able descriptions which have already been given, I shall avail myself of the works of my predecessors; taking care, however, to elucidate them by my own observations.
Among these works, I should have chosen, in preference, those of protestant travellers, as more consonant with the spirit of the age: we are apt, at the present day, to reject what springs, in our opinion, from too religious a source. Unfortunately, I found nothing satisfactory on the subject of the Holy Sepulchre in Pococke, Shaw, Maundrell, Hasselquist, and some others. The scholars and travellers who have written in Latin concerning the antiquities of Jerusalem, as Adamannus, Bede, Brocard, Willibald, Breydenbach, Sanuto, Ludolph, Reland*, Adrichomius, Quaresmius, Baumgarten, Fureri, Bochart, Arias Montanus, Reuwich, Hesse, and Cotovic, would impose the necessity of making
* His work, Palæstina ex Monumentis veteribus illustrata, is a miracle of erudition.
+ His description of the Holy Sepulchre is so circumstantial,
translations which, after all, would furnish the reader with no new information.* I have, therefore, adhered to the French travellers, and among these I have preferred the description of the Holy Sepulchre by Deshayes, for the following reasons:
Belon (1550), of high celebrity as a naturalist, says scarcely a word concerning the Holy Sepulchre; his style is, moreover, too antiquated. Other authors, either of still older date, or cotemporary with him, as Cachermois (1490), Regnault (1522), Salignac (1522), le Huen (1525), Gassot (1536), Renaud (1548), Postel (1553), Giraudet (1575), likewise employ a language too different from that of the present day. +
Villamont (1588) overloads his work with minutiæ, and he has neither order nor judgment.
as to give the whole of the hymns sung by the pilgrims at every station.
* There is also a description of Jerusalem in the Armenian language, and another in modern Greek; the latter I have seen. The more ancient descriptions, as those of Sanuto, Ludolph, Brocard, Breydenbach, Willibald, Adamannus, or rather Arculfe, and the venerable Bede, are curious, because they afford the means of judging what changes have since taken place in the church of the Holy Sepulchre; but in reference to the modern edifice, they are wholly useless.
+ De Vera, in Spanish, is very concise, and yet extremely perspicuous. Zuallardo, who wrote in Italian, is vague and confused. Pietro de la Vallé charms by the peculiar elegance of his style, and his singular adventures; but he is no authority. Some of these authors wrote in Latin, but there are old French versions of their works.