« AnteriorContinuar »
ACCOUNT OF DAMASCUS.
of David; for the Syrians of Damascus sent a large army to assist HADADEZER, King of Zobah, of whom DAVID slew 22,000 men. (2 Sam. viii. 5.) We are not informed whether it was at that time governed by a King, or was the head of a republic. Afterwards it became the seat of a powerful monarchy, whose hostility was so inveterate against the kingdom of Israel, that it would have been entirely destroyed, had not the Providence of God interposed. At last it was captured by TIGLATU PILESER, King of Assyria, who carried away its inhabitants to kin, beyond the Euphrates, about 740 years before Christ, and was never afterwards governed by its own Kings. Thus were fulfilled the prophecies of ISALAH, (xvii. 1-3,) and of Amos. (i. 4, 5.) It was afterwards taken by SENNACHERIB; and passed successively into the hands of the Babylonians, the Persians, and the Greeks under ALEXANDER the Great. After his death it fell with the rest of Syria to the Seleucidæ; till their empire was seized by the Romans about seventy years before Christ. It continued under the dominion of the Romans until the year of our Lord 634, when it was taken by the Saracens ; who kept possession of it till 1400, when it was besieged and taken by TEEMOUR LENK, who put all the inhabitants to the sword. The Egyptian Mamelukes-repaired Damascus when they took possession of Syria ; but the Turkish Emperor SELIM, having defeated them at the battle of Aleppo in 1516, Damascus was brought under the government of the Turks, and in their hands it still remains.* Notwithstanding the tyranny of the Turkish government, the city of Damascus is at present a place of considerable trade, chiefly on account of its being the rendezvous for all the pilgrims from the north of Asia, on their road to and from the temple of Mecca. It is situated on a plain of so great an extent, that the mountains which compass it on the other side can but just be discerned. It is surrounded by strong walls, with nine gates, and is between four and five miles in circumference: but the suburbs and gardens included are more than twenty miles round. The streets are mostly narrow : the houses are all built either with sun-burnt brick or Flemish wall; yet it is no uncommon thing to see the gates and doors adorned with marble portals, carved and inlaid with great beauty and variety, and within these portals to find large square courts, beautified with fragrant trees and marble fountains, and surrounded with the most splendid apartments. The ceilings of these apart. ments are richly painted and gilded; and round the sides of the rooms are placed the duans, a sort of low stages, elevated about sixteen inches above the floor, whereon the Turks eat, sleep, smoke, aud say their prayers. The duans are adorned on the sides with various kinds of marble, mixed in mosaic knots and mazes, and their floors are spread with carpets, and furnished with bolsters and cushions.* In this city are shown the church of John the Baptist, now converted into a famous mosque; the house of ANANIAS, which is only a small grotto or cellar; and the house of Judas with whom Paul lodged. In this last is an old tomb, said to be that of ANANIAS; which the Turks hold in such high veneration, that they keep a lamp continually burning over it. There is a castle
* Dr. A. CLARKE.
A SISTER'S TALES.
belonging to Damascus, which is like a distinct town, having its own street and houses. In the time of St. Paul it was governed by ARETUS, whose father, OBODAS, had been governor of it under Augustus. The fruit-tree, called the damascene, and the shrub which produces the dumask rose, were brought from Damascus to Europe; and the silks and linens, known by the name of dumasks, were probably first manufactured by the inhabitants of this ancient city.
J. B. HOLROYD.'
A' SISTER'S TALES.
No. X. In a wood, adjoining to Mr.L-'s garden, stood the relics of a building which was called The Hermit's Chapel. Whether it ever had been the sanctuary of a Recluse, or whether its retired situation gave rise to the name, cannot be known; for all that remained of it were several low walls, over which the ivy had spread for ages, and an arch around which it hung in graceful luxuriance. Its floor was a fine turf; its roof was formed of the interlaced branches of trees; and its ornaments were a profusion of wild flowers, which, during the spring and summer, mingled their gay blossoms with the dark-green ivy-leaves.
It was, however,
And the yellow leaf whirls froin the bough,” when the sky, the scene, and the season, were alike dark and gloomy, that, as her sisters and brother were resting themselves after a long walk in this place, Jane said, 66 I have heard that this was a very favourite spot, much frequented by Mrs. WILMOT; who, on account of her singular habits, was called “The Mysterious Lady,' and who lived in the most ancient house in the village, which you may just discern through the opening of the trees. That was the family-seat of her ancestors; and had been inhabited by a long line of WILMOTS. Her parents took her with them, when young, to London ; and it was then without an occupier, till she returned, thirty years afterwards, to live alone in it. Though, of course, it had gone much to decay, she had no repairs made, but such as were absolutely needful. The wall-flowers were still permitted to grow on the sills of the windows, and the grass to spring up among the pavement of the court. The garden, with its straight walks, square beds, and stone Cupids, pouring water from leaden urns, continued the same. In-doors, likewise, no alterations were made ; nor did they seem necessary; for Mrs. Wilmot lived almost entirely in the library, and a gloomy place that was, for over the dark and dusty shelves, with their old wormy-eaten volumes, stood the still darker and dustier pictures of her forefathers.
66 The neighbours, soon after her arrival, went to welcome her; but she received them so distantly, that none could ever go again. Indeed she was of a most reserved temper, never saying more than was necessary to any human being, not even to her old servant ANN, who transacted all her business.
“Mrs. WILMOT seldom appeared out of her gurden but on Sundays; when she was as regular at the church as the parson, or the clerk. Her dress was always the same, excepting only the alterations rendered needful by the weather; and her face was invariably shaded by a large black bonnet and veil.
ANN was usually dressed on Sunday in her mistress's old clothes, and followed, carrying her antique silverclasped prayer-book. And when the rosy village lasses dropped their curtsies, or the mothers danced their healthy and happy infants, as she passed, Mrs. Wilmot never appeared to notice them. How she employed her time, no one could tell ; but the light from her window was generally the last to be seen in the village; and on moon-light nights she has often been observed wandering among the ruins of the Hermit's Chapel.
“These were the peculiarities which gained her the title of "The Mysterious Lady;' but far greater faults were imputed to her than mystery and reserve. Of these her servant was the reporter, or rather the inventor. She declared that her mistress was a Roman Catholic ; because having entered, one day, unsummoned by her, she found her with a crucifix in her hand, and beads lying on the table. Ann said too, that Mrs. Wilmot never gave a farthing to the poor, and nearly starved herself; though she must be ex. eeedingly rich, for there were many great chests in her house, with large locks upon them, which she was. sure were filled with gold. The sorrowful expression of Mrs. W.'s countenance was mistaken for severity; and to all her other crimes, a stern, sullen, and maJicious temper was added.”
“ What a singular being!” exclaimed MARY.6. What a disagreeable, idle creature!” said GEORGE.
6 She was singular," answered Jane, “but not so disagreeable and useless as you imagine. After living for ten years in this secluded manner, she became very ill; and, during her illness, so far conquered her reserve, as to send for the Clergyman of the parish.