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passed entranced the senses, and agitated on the surface of the ocean the glassy image of the heavens.”—Vol. i. 182, 183.
The appearance of morning in the sea of Marmora is described in not less glowing colours.
" At four in the morning we weighed anchor, and as the wind was fair, we found ourselves in less than an hour at the extremity of the waters of the river. The scene was worthy of being described. On the right, Aurora rose above the headlands of Asia ; on the left was extended the sea of Marmora ; the heavens in the east were of a fiery red, which grew paler in proportion as the morning advanced; the morning star still shone in that empurpled light; and above it you could barely descry the pale circle of the moon. The picture changed while I still contemplated it; soon a blended glory of rays of rose and gold, diverging from a common centre, mounted to the zenith: these columps were effaced, revived, and effaced anew, until the sun rose above the horizon, and confounded all the lesser shades in one universal blaze of light."-Vol. i. 236.
His journey into the Holy Land awakened a new and not less interesting train of ideas, throughout the whole of which we recognise the peculiar features of M. de Chateaubriand's mind : a strong and poetical sense of the beauties of nature a memory fraught with historical recollections—a deep sense of religion, manifested, however, rather as it affects the imagination and the passions than the judgment. It is a mere chimera to suppose that such aids are to be rejected by the friends of Christianity, or that truth may with safety discard the aid of fancy, either in subduing the passions or affecting the heart.
On the contrary, every day's experience must convince us that, for one who can understand an argument, hundreds can enjoy a romance ; and that truth, to affect multitudes, must condescend to wear the garb of fancy. It is, no doubt, of vast importance that works should exist in which the truths of religion are unfolded with lucid precision, and its principles defined with the force of reason ; but it is at least of equal moment that others should be found in which the graces of eloquence and the fervour of enthusiasm form an attraction to those who are insensible to graver considerations ; where the reader is tempted to follow a path which he finds only strewed with flowers, and he unconsciously inhales the breath of eternal life.
· Cosi all Egro fanciul porgiamo aspersi
Di soave licor gli orsi del vaso,
« On nearing the coast of Judea, the first visitors we received were three swallows. They were perhaps on their way from France, and pursuing their course to Syria. I was strongly tempted to ask them what news they brought from that paternal roof which I had so long quitted. I recollect that, in years of infancy, I spent entire hours in watching with an indescribable pleasure the course of swallows in autumn, when assembling in crowds previous to their annual migration : a secret instinct told me that I too should be a traveller. They assembled in the end of autumn around a great fishpond; there, amidst a thousand evolutions and flights in air, they seemed to try their wings, and prepare for their long pilgrimage. Whence is it that, of all the recollections in existence, we prefer those which are connected with our cradle? The illusions of self-love, the pleasures of youth, do not recur with the same charm to the memory; we find in them, on the contrary, frequent bitterness and pain; but the slightest circumstances revive in the heart the recollections of infancy, and always with a fresh charm. On the shores of the lakes in America, in an unknown desert, which was sublime only from the effect of solitude, a swallow has frequently recalled to my recollection the first years of my life; as here, on the coast of Syria, they recalled them in sight of an ancient land resounding with the traditions of history and the voice of ages.
“ The air was so fresh and so balmy, that all the passengers remained on deck during the night. At six in the morning I was awakened by a confused hum; I opened my eyes, and saw all the pilgrims crowding towards the prow of the vessel. I asked what it was ? they all replied, Signor, il Carmelo.' I instantly rose from the plank on wbich I was stretched, and eagerly looked out for the sacred mountain. Every one strove to show it to me, but I could see nothing by reason of the dazzling of the sun, which now rose above the horizon. The moment had something in it that was august and impressive; all the pilgrims, with their chaplets in their hands, remained in silence, watching for the appearance of the Holy Land; the captain prayed aloud, and not a sound was to be heard but that prayer and the rush of the vessel, as it ploughed with a fair wind through the azure sea. From time to time the cry arose, from those in elevated parts of the vessel, that they saw Mount Carmel, and at length I myself perceived it like a round globe under the rays of the sun. I then fell on my knees, after the manner of the Latin pilgrims. My first impression was not the kind of agitation which I experienced on approaching the coast of Greece, but the sight of the cradle of the Israelites, and of the country of Christ, filled me with awe and veneration. I was about to descend on the land of miracles -on the birthplace of the sublimest poetry that has ever appeared on earth --on the spot where, speaking only as it has affected human history, the most wonderful event has occurred which ever changed the destinies of the species. I was about to visit the scenes which had been seen before me by Godfrey of Bouillon, Raymond of Toulouse, Tancred the Brave, Richard Cour-de-Lion, and Saint Louis, whose virtues even the infidels respected. How could an obscure pilgrim like myself dare to tread a soil ennobled by such recollections !"— Vol. i. 263–265.
Nothing is more striking in the whole work than the description of the Dead Sea and the Valley of Jordan. He has contrived to bring the features of that extraordinary scene more completely before us than any of the numerous English travellers who have preceded or followed him on the same route. “ We quitted the convent at three in the afternoon, ascended the torrent
of Cedron, and at length, crossing the ravine, rejoined our route to the east. An opening in the mountain gave us a passing view of Jerusalem. I hardly recognised the city; it seemed a mass of broken rocks; the sudden appearance of that city of desolation in the midst of the wilderness had something in it almost terrifying. She was, in truth, the Queen of the Desert.
" As we advanced, the aspect of the mountains continued constantly the same, that is, a powdery white—without shade, a tree, or even moss. At half-past four, we descended from the lofty chain we had hitherto traversed, and wound along another of inferior elevation. At length we arrived at the last of the chain of heights, which close in on the west the Valley of Jordan and the Dead Sea. The sun was nearly setting ; we dismounted from our horses, and I lay down to contemplate at leisure the lake, the valley, and the river.
* When you speak in general of a valley, you conceive it either cultivated or uncultivated ; if the former, it is filled with villages, corn-fields, vineyards, and flocks; if the latter, it presents grass or forests; if it is watered by a river, that river has windings, and the sinuosities or projecting points atford agreeable and varied landscapes. But here there is nothing of the kind. Conceive two long chains of mountains running parallel from north to south, without projections, without recesses, without vegetation. The ridge on the east, called the Mountains of Arabia, is the most elevated; viewed at the distance of eight or ten leagues, it resembles a vast wall, extremely similar to the Jura, as seen from the Lake of Geneva, from its form and azure tint. You can perceive neither summits por the smallest peaks; only here and there slight inequalities, as if the hand of the painter who traced the long lines on the sky had occasionally trembled.
" The chain on the eastern side forms part of the mountains of Judealess elevated and more uneven than the ridge on the west: it differs also in its character ; it exhibits eat masses of rock and sand, which occasionally present all the varieties of ruined fortifications, armed men, and floating banners. On the side of Arabia, on the other hand, black rocks, with perpendicular flanks, spread from afar their shadows over the waters of the Dead Sea. The smallest bird could not find in those crevices of rock a morsel of food; everything announces a country which has fallen under the divine wrath; everything inspires the horror at the incest from whence sprang Ammon and Moab.
** The valley which lies between these mountains resembles the bottom of a sea, from which the waves have long ago withdrawn : banks of gravel, a dried bottom, rocks covered with salt, deserts of moving sand : here and there stunted arbutus shrubs grow with difficulty on that arid soil; their leaves are covered with the salt which had nourished their roots, while their bark has the scent and taste of smoke. Instead of villages, nothing but the ruins of towers are to be seen. Through the midst of the valley flows a discoloured stream, which seems to drag its lazy course unwillingly towards the lake. Its course is not to be discerned by the water, but by the willows and shrubs which skirt its banks-the Arab conceals himself in these thickets to waylay and rob the pilgrim.
"Such are the places rendered famous by the malediction of Heaven: that river is the Jordan—that lake is the Dead Sea. It appears with a serene surface; but the guilty cities which are embosomed in its waves have poisoned its waters. Its solitary abysses can sustain the life of no living thing; no vessel ever ploughed its bosom; its shores are without trees, without birds, without verdure ; its water, frightfully salt, is so heavy that the bighest wind can hardly raise it.
*** In travelling in Judea, an extreme feeling of ennui frequently seizes the mind, from the sterile and monotonous aspect of the objects wbich are presented to the eye ; but when journeying on through these pathless deserts, the expanse seems to spread out to infinity before you, the ennui disappears,
and a secret terror is experienced, which, far from lowering the soul, elevates and inflames the genius. These extraordinary scenes reveal the land desolated by miracles; that burning sun, the impetuous eagle, the barren figtree-all the poetry, all the pictures of Scripture are there. Every name recalls a mystery ; every grotto speaks of the life to come; every peak re-echoes the voice of a prophet. God Himself has spoken on these shores : these dried-up torrents, these cleft rocks, these tombs rent asunder, attest His resistless hand: the desert appears mute with terror; and you feel that it has never ventured to break silence since it heard the voice of the Eternal." -Vol. i. 317.
“I employed two complete hours in wandering on the shores of the Dead Sea, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the Bedouins, who pressed me to quit that dangerous region. I was desirous of seeing the Jordan, at the place where it discharges itself into the lake ; but the Arabs refused to lead me thither, because the river, at a league from its mouth, makes a detour to the left, and approaches the mountains of Arabia. It was necessary, therefore, to direct our steps towards the curve which was nearest us. We struck our tents, and travelled for an hour and a half with excessive difficulty, through a fine and silvery sand. We were moving towards a little wood of willows and tamarinds, which, to my great surprise, I perceived growing in the midst of the desert. All of a sudden the Bethlemites stopped, and pointed to something at the bottom of a ravine, wbich had not yet attracted my attention. Without being able to say what it was, I perceived a sort of sand rolling on through the fixed banks which surrounded it. I approached it, and saw a yellow stream which could hardly be distinguished from the sand of its two banks. It was deeply furrowed through the rocks, and with difficulty rolled on, a stream surcharged with sand : it was the Jordan.
“I had seen the great rivers of America, with the pleasure which is inspired by the magnificent works of nature. I had hailed the Tiber with ardour, and sought with the same interest the Eurotas and the Cephisus; but on none of these occasions did I experience the intense emotion which I felt on approaching the Jordan. Not only did that river recall the earliest antiquity, and a name rendered immortal in the finest poetry, but its banks were the theatre of the miracles of our religion. Judea is the only country which recalls at once the earliest recollections of man, and our first impressions of heaven ; and thence arises a mixture of feeling in the mind, which no other part of the world can produce.”—Vol. i. 327, 328.
The peculiar turn of his mind renders our author, in an especial manner, partial to the description of sad and solitary scenes. The following description of the Valley of Jehoshaphat is in his best style :
" The Valley of Jehoshaphat has in all ages served as the burying-place to Jerusalem : you meet there, side by side, monuments of the most distant times and of the present century. The Jews still come there to die, from all the corners of the earth. A stranger sells to them, for almost its weight in gold, the land which contains the bones of their fathers. Solomon planted that valley : the shadow of the Temple by which it was overhungthe torrent, called after grief, which traversed it—the Psalms which David there composed—the Lamentations of Jeremiah, which its rocks re-echoed, render it the fitting abode of the tomb. Jesus Christ commenced his Passion in the same place: that innocent David there shed, for the expiation of our sins, those tears which the guilty David let fall for his own transgressions. Few names awaken in our minds recollections so solemn as the Valley of Jehoshaphat. It is so full of mysteries, that, according to
the Prophet Joel, all mankind will be assembled there before the Eternal Judge.
* The aspect of this celebrated valley is desolate; the western side is bounded by a ridge of lofty rocks which support the walls of Jerusalem, above which the towers of the city appear. The eastern is formed by the Monnt of Olives, and another eminence called the Mount of Scandal, from the idolatry of Solomon. These two mountains, which adjoin each other, are almost bare, and of a red and sombre hue; on their desert side you see here and there some black and withered vineyards, some wild olives, some ploughed land, covered with hyssop, and a few ruined chapels. At the bottom of the valley, you perceive a torrent, traversed by a single arch, which appears of great antiquity The stones of the Jewish cemetery appear like a mass of ruins at the foot of the Mountain of Scandal, under the village of Siloam. You can hardly distinguish the buildings of the village from the ruins with which they are surrounded. Three ancient monuments are particularly conspicuous: those of Zachariah, Jehoshaphat, and Absalom. The sadness of Jerusalem, from which no smoke ascends, and in which no sound is to be heard ; the solitude of the surrounding mountains, where not a living creature is to be seen ; the disorder of those tombs, ruined, ransacked, and half-exposed to view, would almost induce one to believe that the last trump bad been heard, and that the dead were about to rise in the Valley of Jehoshaphat,"— Vol. ii. 34, 35.
Chateaubriand, after visiting with the devotion of a pilgrim the Holy Sepulchre, and all the scenes of our Saviour's sufferings
, spent a day in examining the scenes of the Crusaders' triumphs, and comparing the descriptions in Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered with the places where the events which they recorded actually occurred. He found them in general so extremely exact, that it was difficult to avoid the conviction that the poet had been on the spot. He even fancied he discovered the scene of the Flight of Erminia, and the inimitable combat and death of Clorinda.
From the Holy Land he sailed to Egypt; and we have the following graphic picture of the approach to that cradle of art and civilisation :
" On the 20th October, at five in the morning, I perceived on the green and ruffled surface of the water a line of foam, and beyond it a pale and still ocean. The captain clapped me on the shoulder, and said in French, * Nile ;' and soon we entered and glided through those celebrated waters. A few palm trees and a minaret announce the situation of Rosetta, but the town itself is invisible. These shores resemble those of the coast of Florida ; they are totally different from those of Italy or Greece ; everything recalls the tropical regions.
"At ten o'clock we at length discovered, beneath the palm-trees, a line of sand which extended westward to the promontory of Aboukir, before which we were obliged to pass before arriving opposite to Alexandria. At five in the evening the shore suddenly changed its aspect. The palm trees seemed planted in lines along the shore, like the elms along the roads in France. Nature appears to take a pleasure in thus recalling the ideas of civilisation in a country where that civilisation first arose, and barbarism