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I ASK NOT WEALTH.
TO THE NOEL. Oh! there may be rapture in battle's wild strife,
And a cure for chill sorrow may float in the bowl ; The lay of the Poet may lighten our life
Of half of its woes; and the friendship of soul May rival in lighting our path-way o’er earth.
The thrill of the lover-the pride of the freeBut a pleasure more exquisite far hath its birth,
While I list to the warblings, fair Syren, of thee ! But it is not alone thy sweet voice that I prize,
Though 'tis as the hymnings of seraphs divine ; There's a music of beauty that beams from thine eyes,
That awakes in the soul—at least kindles in mine
On the ear of my mem'ry—so Phoebus once warmed
A YOUNG PLAY-GOER.
OF THE ORIGIN OF THE HOLY WAR IN PALESTINE.
It is a natural, noble, and romantic feeling that prompts us to hold in reverence the very soil which illustrious men have trod, and the scenes amid which they have sojourned. The external face of nature seems to speak of them, and every rock appears to have a conscious remembrance of their presence. Illustrious and important events consecrate their localities. Athens and Rome are but heaps of ruins; but Demosthenes fulminated beneath the porticoes of the one, and Tully thundered in the forum of the other.
If the recollections associated with patriotism and literature, then, are so animating, how much more noble, lofty, and impressive must those be which have their source in the religious feelings of our nature; in which our reason, our gratitude, and our admiration mingle. A race of warriors and kings may render a scene memorable, but faiths are more durable than dynasties—a present religious feeling more powerful than any recollected worldly association. The Capitol and the Acropolis are remem. bered; the mount of Olives and Gethsemena are revered. Jerusalem is the home of the heart; Palestine the mothercountry of Christians.
« Over its acres walked those blessed feet
For our advantage, on the bitter cross." God was flesh within its bounds; its paths have been paced by the world's Saviour; “ the voice of the Eternal hath sounded on its shores ! ” Sentiments of deep attachment to the Holy Land have prevailed from the earliest ages of Christianity. St. Jerome tells us that pilgrimages to it, prompted by an exaggeration of such feelings, began to be practised immediately after the Ascension; and, according to St. Augustine, even its dust was held in holy reverence in foreign climes.
Palestine, a barren rocky territory, one hundred and thirty-five miles in length, under a scorching sun, destitute of fertility, and almost without vegetation, has yet, from the associations connected with it, been a favourite residence of Christians, since their master's time. Jerusalem, its metropolis, about the eightieth year of the Christian era, was destroyed by Titus. Fifty years after, it was rebuilt by the emperor Adrian; and the shrines of Venus and Apollo were worshipped where the incense of the Levites and the prayers of the Christians had ascended. The latter were, however, tolerated within its walls, but their faith made few proselytes till it was embraced by Constantine, and until his mother, Helena, visited the holy places of the oft devastated city. By her command, the rubbish which enveloped these was removed, and the wide bounds of a spacious church circumscribed and protected them from the ravages of time and the gaze of the vulgar. The fourth century saw Christianity triumphant in the Hebrew capital; but in A. D. six hundred and forty-seven, it was captured by the Saracens. Alternately under the dominion of the caliphs of Bagdad and of Cairo, for nearly three centuries it experienced the usual fate of conquered territories which become a subject of contention: change of rule was but variety of oppression. In the year nine hundred and sixty-nine, the Egyptian dynasty remained in possession of it, but was in its turn dispossessed by the Seljuk Turks, or Turcomans, a wild race of hardy mercenaries, who had been summoned from their native hills by the caliphs of the Abassidian race, to wage war against those who were the descendants of Omar. When success crowned their arms, with the faithlessness characteristic of mercenaries, they turned them against their employers—and were victorious. In the year one thousand and ninety-four, the Egyptians dispossessed them, and in turn gave way to the hordes of Ghengiz Khan. Forty-four years before that period, the Christians had erected a temple for their religious service, with an hospital for the reception of the pilgrims who still journeyed to the sacred spot. During the enlightened reigns of Al Raschid, Almamoun, and Motassem, the Christians enjoyed perfect immunity; but that dynasty was dethroned, and its empire eventually overthrown. Hakem, a succeeding emir, in the wantonnesss of power, destroyed the church and the sepulchre; and the haughty Turks, who had not the same fondness for literature as their Arabic precursors, judging of all Christians by the weakness and effeminacy of their neighbours the Greeks, took every opportunity to oppress and trample on the believers in that faith. Nevertheless, palmer-bearing pilgrims, from every country in the world, thronged to the Holy Land ;—what had at first been voluntary devotion, came at length to be deemed a necessary sacrifice, and every tribe and kindred of Christendom had of its numbers some who crowded around the undiminished, self re-producing," real” cross, the discovery of which had been announced to the world; or when that palled on the credulity of Europe, who thronged to light their tapers at the pretendedly miraculous fame which then appeared, and, I believe, still appears on the vigil of Easter, with healing power in its lambent flashes. The gift of tongues would have been useful to the ministering impostors, but Venetian gazettas and Greek byzants formed, in those days, a language universally understood. Even women flocked in crowds, and Ingulph tells us of a troop of seven thousand individuals of both sexes, who journeyed with scrip and staff to and from the Holy Sepulchre, many of them endeavouring to bear from Palestine, on their return, something more valuable than relics, in the shape of Turkish paras, in exchange for the merchandise they had carried thither.
The Christian sojourners were, however, often shockingly used, and infamously robbed by the profligate Turks, who, in turns, possessed the city; but the pious Mussulmans respected their motives, themselves holding Jerusalem in as much reverence as did either Jew or Gentile; and the mosque of Omar, as the latter the hill of Calvary. Travellers are prone to exaggerate, and the accounts which they gave, on their return, of their sufferings and treatment at the tomb of Christ, attracted general sympathy. Twenty years after the establishment of the power of the Seljuk Turks in Jerusalem, and when the miseries of the Christian sojourners were at their height, Peter of Amiens paid it a visit. In his youth, as a warrior, he had served under the banners of Eustace de Bouillon, and had been married to the descendant of a noble house; but being now old and poor, he sought, in his advanced years, for happiness, honour, and distinction, in the character of an anchorite and priest. From his affectedly solitary life, he received the appellation of “ Peter the Hermit:" but the bustle of society was, in reality, preferred by him to the quiet and tranquillity of solitude. He was meagre, thin, and emaciated in person, and diminutive in stature; but his imagination was strong and fervid. He fancied himself an envoy of heaven, and declared that he was called upon by the Most High, in a vision, to go forth into the world as an apostle and a pilgrim. Clad in russet weeds, he arrived in Palestine, after a painful and perilous journey; for,
“ A true devoted pilgrim is not weary
To measure kingdoms with his feeble step." and, with the patriarch Simeon, communed on the oppressions that his brethren suffered.
The support of the Christian nations of the world, it was thought by these venerable fathers, would establish their faith on an imperishable foundation, and cause the citizens of these states, in future, to be respectfully treated by their Paynim foes. The Greek emperor Alexius, could afford no assistance; but Latin nations possessed both the will and the power to aid them, An invasion of Palestine was determined on, and Peter repaired to the successor of the ambitious Gregory to the Papal chair, and implored his countenance in the scheme of preaching through Christendom, for the purpose of rousing the nations to arms against the enemies of the cross. The idea of the war was not altogether new, for so early as the year nine hundred and eighty-six, Gerbert, archbishop of Ravenna, afterwards Sylvester II. addressed letters to the “ Church Universal,” urging its members to the prosecution of a similar scheme; but with no other result than a predatory descent of the crews of certain barques of Pisa on the Saracenic shores; and in one thousand and seventy-three, Manuel Commenus, the seventh Greek emperor of that name, supplicated the then Roman Pontiff, Gregory, to aid him in the defence of his territories. Fifty thousand men were equipped, but the expedition never reached, nor, indeed, sailed for its destination, Constantinople--for Palestine was not its aim.
Urban II. received Peter with open arms, and after communing with Bohemond, prince of Tarentum, a baron of Norman descent, he acceded to the requests of the Hermit. The latter, dressed in a coarse woollen shirt, and hermit's mantle, with a cord round his middle, traversed the greater part of Europe, preaching to the people, and exhorting them to arm against the infidels of the East. His eloquence was wild and feryid; and it was listened to with the most gloomy enthusiasm. Its flame was already kindled, when, in one thousand and ninety-five, the Tuscan and Lombard ecclesiastics met, by order of the Pope, in general council at Placentia, and added dignity to the force of that sentiment. Two hundred bishops, four thousand ecclesiastics, and thirty thousand seculars, there met the ambassadors of Alexius Commenus; and were unanimous in their opinion as to the necessity of the contemplated war. Towards the