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Redeemer. “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him : and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts ; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh,” Matt. ii. 11.
It is said that there are few spots pointed out to the pilgrim or visitor to the Holy Land, better authenticated than that of the nativity. It seems scarcely probable that the early Christians would altogether lose sight of its locality. According to history, a temple was erected over the spot, by the Emperor Hadrian, about a hundred years before the present edifice was formed. Whether contempt or jealousy of the Christians led on the Emperor to this undertaking, it would be hard to determine.
Bethlehem, the birthplace of David, is represented by travellers to be a village beautifully situated on an eminence overlooking the Dead Sea, and the solitary wilderness of Engedi. The olive, the vine, and the fig tree flourish in the country around it; and from the high grounds may be seen the distant mountains of Moab and Idumea.
Changing, as the scene does—representing first the shrine of the nativity, as it now exists, and then the celebration of mass by the Franciscan monks— the visitor gazes with astonishment and awe ; but when, by imperceptible degrees, the whole, as if by magic, becomes lighted up with bewildering brilliancy, and the organ chants a solemn tune, his amazement is extreme.
CORONATION OF QUEEN VICTORIA.—This splendid representation cannot fail to interest the spectator ; for, though a sight of the ceremony is so much desired, few people, comparatively, can be present at a coronation. I am sometimes looking at the attractive personages congregated together on the canvass, and sometimes regarding the architecture and decorations of the venerable abbey of Westminster, as exhibited in the painting. They are both very effective, though appearing to some disadvantage, coming after the superior brilliancy of the scene which has so recently preceded them. The fixed position of the worshippers at their devotions, in the Shrine of the Nativity, is in strict keeping with the scene, and heightens the effect of the painting ; but here, in the coronation, it is otherwise, for the motionless attitude of so many figures imparts a monotonous, statue-like effect, that is somewhat oppressive to the spectator.
There sits the Queen in King Edward's chair, holding in her hands the royal sceptre, the ensign of power and justice, and the rod, the emblem of equity and mercy. The archbishop of Canterbury is placing the crown upon her head. At her right hand stand the peers who have
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THE DIORAMA. assisted at the ceremony, in their gowns of crimson velvet, and capes of ermine. At her left hand stand the bishops, robed in black and white. In the box, on one side, are the royal family; and in the other parts, the foreign ambassadors with their ladies, the peers and peeresses, the judges, the lord mayor, the sheriffs, maids of honour, officers, and other attendants.
Hark! what a startling sound! A flourish of trumpets has announced that Victoria is crowned ; and imagination hears the distant thunderings of the Tower guns, and the nearer acclamations of the people—“God save the Queen!” The thunder of the cannon has ceased, the clangour of the trumpet is still, and even now can I fancy that the voice of the archbishop is heard, as he thus addresses the queen :-—"Be strong and of good courage, observe the commandments of God, and walk in his holy ways; fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life ; that in this world you may be crowned with success and honour, and when you have finished your course, receive a crown of righteousness, which God, the righteous Judge, shall give you in that day. Amen.'
The company assembled are growing a little more talkative ; some are speaking of the queen, some are pointing out particular peers and peeresses, while others are admiring the dresses and decorations so prodigally spread out before them. The coronation is a striking and solemn ceremony, from the entrance into the cathedral to the recess. The recognitions, the oblations, the services, the sermon, the oath, and the anointing ; the investing with the royal robes, the putting on the crown, the presentation of the Holy Bible, the benediction, the enthronization, the homage, the communion, and the final prayers, are all, when duly considered, of an impressive character. But while I am noting down these remarks, the company are preparing to depart. I must now proceed to the Cosmorama.
THE COSMORAMA. This, then, is the Cosmorama. The little book put into my hand tells me that I have eight different views to gaze on. The Rope Bridge of Penipé, in South America; the Palace of Zenobia, at Palmyra; Constantinople during the Conflagration in 1839; the Palace of Versailles ; General View of Rome; the Park of Versailles ; the Lake of Thun, in Switzerland ; and the Village of Baden.
Often, and often, have I reflected on the varied and almost endless gratifications which await us, both in the natural and artificial creation! Truly, if our harps are not on the willows, if our hearts are in tune, a song of thanksgiving should be ever in our mouths.
The crowded city and the rural scene
Here the great Maker of this wondrous world
Though supplied with a book, giving some account of the different paintings, and furnished with paper on which to note down any suggestion that may occur to me, this passage is so dark, that I can neither read nor write legibly, without approaching the little windows, through which I must look to see the views.
THE ROPE BRIDGE OF PENIPE is the first painting, and a striking one it is. The bridge of twisted rushes, with sticks laid across, covered with branches of trees for a flooring, is represented as stretching over the river Chambo, near the village of Penipé, from rock to rock, a distance of one hundred and twenty feet. To cross such a bridge, a strong head, a bold heart, and a steady foot, must be necessary. I can fancy a timid person following his Indian guide, while the violent oscillation of the bridge hanging in air blanches his cheek, and makes his limbs tremble. Some say, and many things are more improbable, that the notion of suspension bridges arose from the rope bridges of South America. We need not, however, have travelled so far to make the discovery, as any spider would have furnished us with a model both scientific and secure.