Imágenes de páginas

around, in hope that some column of smoke might invite to rest and refreshment, however rude: the roof of a khan would have been a cheerless sight, its dim interior, its cool fountain, its ancient pillars, were not what we desired at this moment: we were hungry and thirsty, and might remain so till the day should set Like the tops of a grove of palms to the desert pilgrim, seemed to us the white tents of the Arabs, while yet afar off: in the middle, and loftier than the others, was that of the Sheich: we dismounted at the entrance, and were received with a simple and cordial welcome: a handsome carpet was spread on the floor, on which we sat down, and were served, in about half an hour, with a plentiful meal, for which we could offer no remuneration; it would have been received as an insult Our stay was short: but we were free to remain the whole day or night as their guests, to eat from the same pilau of rice, from the same bowl of cream and butter, and unleavened cake, and to rest beneath the same tent, which was divided into several apartments, at night

The attachment of this remarkable people to the usages of their ancestors is inviolable: the prophet Jeremiah, when warning the Jews of their disobedience to God, adduces the fidelity of the Rechabites to the command of their ancestors, as an admirable model for their imitation. "For this cause," it was said, "Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever." The fulfilment of these words, even to this day, may appear almost incredible to many: to the lover of prophecy, this fulfilment will be full of interest When the Rev. Mr. Woolf resided in Jerusalem, he was one day visited by several men, in the Arab costume, who had come from the wilderness, where they dwelt; a conversation ensued between them and the missionary, whose eyes flashed with joy, and his gestures, when he spoke, were as energetic as those of his guests: the writer, who was present at this remarkable interview, inquired the cause of so much emotion, and was answered, that these strangers had declared themselves to be the lineal descendants of the Rechabites, and, like their ancestors, had inviolably obeyed the command, "Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever: neither shall ye build house, nor plant vineyards, but all your days ye shall dwell in tents." Their history of themselves and their people, during many ages, was clear and simple: they had ever received and obeyed from their fathers, they said, the command of old delivered; they had never drank wine, though living in or near a country by whose inhabitants it was generally drunk: they had never built houses, or lived in villages, hamlets, or towns, but had always dwelt in tents. They were fine healthy-looking men, of great simplicity of mind and manners, and very intelligent: the joy of the missionary at this discovery amounted to rapture, and when he expatiated on this accomplishment of prophecy, on this singular fidelity, his words seemed to borrow the wild eloquence of the desert: he felt that it was an indelible moment , such as even his wandering career could rarely give. They listened attentively while he spoke, for they felt also that this sympathy in a stranger, this delight and interest in their history, was very rare to be found. In the course of the conversation, they said, that the existence of their people was very ancient; that , in their traditions, Heber the Kenite was the founder of the tribe, by the hand of whose wife Jael, Sisera was slain while reposing in the tent Perhaps the history of the world cannot furnish an instance of greater, or as great fidelity and religious observance of an ancestral command.

It was a strange thing to hear these men of the wilderness, in the heart of the lost Jerusalem, talk thus familiarly and earnestly of the ancient times of Scripture: to the Missionary's fancy, the people of old seemed to live again! were not the Kenites and the Rechabites dwellers in tents, simple in manners and language, even as these faithful and pastoral men, who held not the faith of Mohammed, but seemed to live apart from the concerns and excitements of towns and cities; they sowed no fields, built no walls, tasted no wine in a dry and thirsty land, and perpetuated the command of their fathers even to their latest posterity. This interview took place in the Armenian convent, in the.lodging of the Missionary, a room well carpeted and divaned all round the walls: he was here in possession of every comfort, and of every facility for his Mission, being permitted by the authorities to see people of all nations in his apartment—Turks, Greeks, Catholics, and Jews: on this chosen ground he should have lingered longer; he was here highly favoured with the countenance of the Turkish governor, the kindness of his Armenian hosts, and with golden opportunities of usefulness: but "patience shall have her perfect work" can never be the motto of this eminent man; the spirit of restlessness and enterprise, ever reaching impatiently to the things that are before, hurries him from land to land, and is now bearing him to the heart of Africa: perhaps, amid her burning deserts and friendless huts, he may remember, in the hour of sorrow and bereavement, the peaceful and friendly home of Jerusalem, where his words were listened to with reverence and attention, and he wandered every day, meditating or conversing with his countrymen, through the fields and valleys of the City of God.

The Plate represents a scene of hospitality, not in the desert or the tent, but in the city of Antioch. Girgius Adeeb, the host, is delighted to welcome travellers to his house, by day or night, or both; and will not accept, even from the wealthiest, any remuneration. So free, so general a welcome, if rail-roads and steam-packets should soon visit Antioch, Girgius will find grievously expensive. He was first met with at Suadeah, at Mr. Barker's, and an invitation to his house at Antioch instantly followed. Such an invitation is not only a comfort and luxury, but an absolute charity, in a halfruined and comfortless place like Antioch, where there is no convent, opening wide its massive gate, and affording a secure asylum, a clean cell, and welcome repast The dwelling of Girgius was a good one: it rests upon the ancient wall of the city, and from the divan windows on the left you look out upon the Orontes and the distant mountains, and in the opposite direction is a glimpse of the walled heights above the city: the harem, or woman's abode, is on the right, in light, and near the door is the well, and servants fetching water, not muffled, like the Turkish females, for Girgius is a Christian. The offices are at right angles with the harem, but are not seen: the children of the host are playing about: the door at the corner opens into the sleeping-rooms for the guests, who rest on a broad low divan, continued around the room: a servant is carrying refreshments up the steps of the divan: and some merchants are conferring with Girgius, who is seated, with a pipe in his hand, just without the rails of the divan.

« AnteriorContinuar »