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of Omar from the Arabian historian, El Makeen, we borrow a description of its present state from the pen of a gentleman who visited Jerusalem in the year 1849, and had an exterior view of the building from the roof of the Governor's house."
“The enclosed area on which the mosque stands, called El-Haram-Schereef, (the noble place of retirement,) is about five hundred and twenty paces in length, and three hundred and seventy in breadth ; the walls of the city form its boundary on the east and south; the western side is enclosed by Turkish houses, occupied by the attendants on the mosques, and schools for children ; and on the northern side are some houses, and a wall with three gates. There are several slender minarets in the area, (a privilege confined to royal mosques,) and it is beautifully planted with
cypresses, orange-trees, mulberries, and other shrubs. This is a favourite place of resort with the Moslem ladies. A considerable portion of this area is supported by large subterraneous vaults, originally formed of fifteen rows of square pillars, measuring about five feet on a side, built of large bevelled stones. These structures, erected on the slope of Mount Moriah, for the purpose of forming a level area, extend further than is yet known, and were most probably the work of Solomon. There are several large cisterns beneath the area ; and a fountain springs up from a great depth under the mosque, communicating with a Turkish bath, situated near the wall of the area.
“In the centre of the area stands the celebrated mosque, founded by the great Caliph Omar, when he took possession of Jerusalem, A.D. 637. The site was, at that time, used by the Christians as a depository for the filth and offal of the city, by which they manifested their contempt for the Jews. The mosque was converted into a church by the Crusaders, but restored by Saladin to its original destination. It is called SAKHRAT by the Moslems, in consequence of a large mass of rough calcareous rock lying in the centre, held in extraordinary veneration, under the name
Journal of a Deputation sent to the East by the Committee of the Malta Protestant College, in 1849. By a Lay Member of the Committee. (A. Crawford, Esq., M.D.)
of Hadjar-el-Sakhrat, 'locked-up stone :' it is second in sanctity only to the black stone of Mecca, because, among various other traditions, it is believed to have fallen from heaven,-to have been the rock on which the angel of death sat when God, by commanding the angel to sheathe his sword, stayed the pestilence He had sent among the Israelites, in consequence of David's presumptuous numbering of the people,-and to have been the rock, also, from which Mahomet, after his night-journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, ascended up to heaven.
“Although the mosque is a beautiful specimen of light and elegant Arabic architecture, its splendour has been greatly exaggerated, and falls infinitely short of the conceptions to be formed, from the narrations of Scripture, of the magnificence and glory of the temple of Solomon, the place of which it occupies. In the wall bounding the great area, on the side corresponding to the Mount of Olives, is a gate, believed to occupy the situation of the Golden Gate of Solomon's temple, through which our Saviour made His triumphant entry from the Mount of Olives. But this gate is kept blocked up, owing to a prophecy or superstition among the Moslems, that it is through this gate the conqueror will enter, who is to overthrow their dominion in Jerusalem. When the gate was formerly open, the Armenian Bishop, on the day of palms, followed by a procession, rode through it in triumph, seated upon an ass, in imitation of our Lord; but it has been shut since the Crusaders made their entrance into Jerusalem by the gates of Stephen and Damascus. On the south side of the enclosure is another mosque, named El-Aksa, of great antiquity, and held in high veneration, belonging to the sect Shafei. Besides these mosques, there are several small oratories, and a handsome marble fountain for ablutions.
“Christians and Jews are forbidden to enter these hallowed premises, under penalty of death, unless by special permission, which is scarcely ever granted. The fanatic Moslems would immediately surround and murder any one not holding their creed, whom they found within the gates of the enclosure: the English physician to the British hospital, Dr. M‘Gowan, was assaulted and dangerously wounded, a few years since, though he only ventured within the precincts at the earnest entreaty of one of the Moslems residing there, to visit a dying Turk. How painful and humiliating to behold a place so sacred to every Christian heart-consecrated once by the name of the living God, Jehovah-Jireh, and hallowed for ages by His presence between the cherubim in His holy templenow trodden only by those who openly deny Him in His character of God, manifest in the flesh,' and cast contempt upon His glorious work of redeeming love! What an instructive example does this furnish of the literal fulfilment of the following awful judgments, delivered by the Prophet of God, about five centuries before their execution :
« « The Lord hath cast off His altar, He hath abhorred His sanctuary, He hath violently taken away His tabernacle, He hath destroyed His places of the assembly.' I will bring the worst of the Heathen, and they shall possess their houses, and their holy places shall be defiled.' * The mountain of the house is become as the high place of the forest.'
“ This referred, no doubt, to the fact, that the site of His holy sanctuary should be occupied by a temple resembling those erected by the Heathens in groves and forests on the hills.”
GALILEO AND HIS JUDGES. No fact of history is more notorious than the persecution of Galileo by the Roman Inquisition. Galileo believed that the earth revolves round the sun, and taught accordingly. The Church of Rome had never so taught,--and to this day only condescends to say that this opinion of the earth's motion may be tolerated, and therefore forbade the philosopher to disturb the common persuasion that the earth, not the sun, was in the centre of the solar system. A complete account of what passed between Galileo and the Inquisitors cannot be expected; but the readers of the “ Youth’s Instructer.” may be pleased to read a letter from Galileo himself, in which he related as much as he could venture to tell without exposing himself to perpetual confinement in a dungeon for betraying the secrets of the Inquisition. We omit only such passages as would be obscure or uninteresting to any but the correspondents themselves. The letter has no date; but the trial of Galileo took place in the months of April and May, 1633, when he was in the seventy-first year of his age. Here is the letter, translated as nearly word for word as possible:
“You well know, my most esteemed Father Vincent, that my life, up to this time, has been nothing more than a succession of accidents and misfortunes that only the patience of a philosopher (poor Galileo knew nothing of the patience of a Christian] could regard with indifference, as necessary effects of the many strange revolutions to which this globe of ours is subjected. Our fellow-creatures, however we may labour to serve them, endeavour to repay us with ingratitude, with robberies, with accusations through thick and thin; as I have experienced throughout the whole course of my life. This might be enough for you to know, without asking me for any account of a cause and of a crime concerning which I know not that I have anything to say. In your last letter of the 17th June of this year, you inquire what happened to me in Rome, and how the Father Commissary [of the Inquisition] Hippolite Mary Lancio, and my Lord Alexander Vitrici, the Assessor [of the Pope, who is Chief Inquisitor], conducted themselves towards me.
“ These are the names of my judges, whom I have still very present in my memory, although they tell me that now they are both superseded by
*. I take some interest in a tribunal where, because I am rational, I have been accounted little less than a heretic. Who knows whether those men will not reduce me from the profession of a philosopher to that of historian of the Inquisition !
Dear Father Vincent, I am not unwilling to set down on paper my sentiments on the matter of which you question me, if precautions be taken that this letter comes into your hands, such precautions as I did not take when I had to answer Signor Lotario Sarsi Sigensano, under which name was concealed that of Father Horatius Grassi, a Jesuit, author of
This letter, however, shall suffice for you; for I do not think myself able to write a book on my own case, and on the Inquisition, not having been born for a theologian, much less for an author on criminal law.
“ From my youth I had cherished the intention of publishing a dialogue on the two systems of Ptolemy and Copernicus; and on that subject, ever since the time of my going to be Reader at Padua, I had continually made observations and inductions, being principally led to this by an idea which I remember to have entertained, that the motions of the earth had something to do with the ebbing and flowing of the tide. Something of this kind escaped me at Padua when the young Prince Gustavus, of Sweden, then travelling incognito through Italy, spent some weeks there with his suite ; and I was so fortunate as to give him instructions in my new speculations, and in the curious problems that were daily brought me for solution. He desired me to teach him Italian also. But what made my opinions concerning the motion of the earth become public in Rome, was a very long discourse, addressed to the Cardinal Orsini ; for which I was then charged with being a scandalous and rash writer. After the publication of my Dialogue [between believers in the two systems), I was called to Rome by the Congregation of the Holy Office; arrived there on the 10th of February, 1632; was subjected to the extreme clemency of that tribunal, and of the Sovereign Pontiff, Urban VIII. ; who nevertheless thought me worthy of his esteem, although, for my own part, I knew not how to return him the loving Epigram and Sonnet.
“I was arrested in the delightful palace of the Tuscan Ambassador. Next day the Commissary Lancio came to see me, took me away in his carriage, put various questions to me as we drove on, and appeared very zealously to wish that I should repair the offence I had given to all Italy by sustaining this opinion of the motion of the earth ; and for