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describing them as they are, and affixing to them the epithets affixed in Scripture to the class to which they belong. And thus speaking, if the honours paid to St. Edmund according to old Jocelin were not idolatrous, neither were those paid to the Baal of Philistia, nor to the Jupiter of Greece.—Ed. Y. I.]
In the year of grace one thousand one hundred and ninetyeight, the glorious martyr Edmund was pleased to strike terror into our convent, and to instruct us that his body should be kept more reverently and observantly than it had hitherto been. Now there was a certain flooring between the shrine and the altar, whereupon two tapers, which the keepers of the shrine used to join together, by placing one upon the other in a slovenly manner, stood ; and under that flooring there were many things irreverently huddled together, such as flax, and thread, and wax, and various utensils, so that whatever was used by the keepers of the shrine was there put all together, there being a door with iron gratings. Now, as we are given to believe, when these keepers of the shrine, on the night of St. Etheldreda, were fast asleep, that part of the taper which had been clapt upon the other, and was still burning, fell upon the aforesaid flooring covered with rags; and consequently all that was above or beneath began to burn rapidly, so much so, that the iron gratings were at a white heat. And lo! the wrath of the Lord, but not without mercy, was kindled, according to that saying, “ In wrath remember mercy;" for in the same hour the clock fell before matins: now the master of the vestiary getting up observing and noticing the fire, ran as hard as he could, and having struck the bells as if tolling for a dead person, cried out lustily the shrine was consumed by fire. We on the other hand, all running thither, found the fire raging wonderfully, and encircling the whole shrine, and not far from mounting up to the wood-work of the church. Our young men, some running for water, some to the well, some to the clock, some with their hoods, not without great labour, extinguished the force of the fire, and also snatched from destruction some holy relics upon the first alarm. And when cold water was poured upon the front of the shrine, the stones fell, and were reduced, as it were, to powder. Moreover, the nails whereby
the plates of silver were affixed to the shrine, started from the wood, which had been burnt underneath to the thickness of my finger, and the plates of silver were left hanging without nails on one side or the other. However, the golden holy of holies in front of the shrine, together with some of the stone-work, remained firm and untouched, and, if anything, brighter after the fire than it was before; for it all was of gold. It so happened, by the will of the Highest, that at that time a great beam which used to be beyond the altar, had been removed, in order that it should be repaired with new carving. It also happened that the cross, and the St. Mary, and the St. John, and the chest with the camise of St. Edmund, and the amulet, with relics, which used to hang from the same beam, and other holy things which also stood upon the same beam, had every of them boen previously taken away; else these all would have been burnt, as we believe, even as a tapestry was burnt which hung in place of this beam. But what would it have been had the church been curtained? When, therefore, we had assured ourselves that the fire had in no place injured the shrine, we most carefully began to inspect the chinks and crannies, if there were any; and now perceiving that all was cold, our grief was in a great measure abated. And behold! some of our brethren cried out with a great wailing, that the cup of St. Edmund had been burnt; and when many of us here and there had searched amongst the stones and plates, and among the coals and cinders, they drew forth the cup entirely uninjured, lying in the middle of the great charred timbers, which were then put out, and found the same wrapped up in linen cloth, half burnt. But the oaken box in which the cup was usually placed had been burnt to ashes, and was only to be recognised by the iron band and iron lock. This miracle being observed, we all wept for joy. Now as we observed that the greater part of the front of the shrine was stripped off, and abhorring the disgraceful circumstance of this fire, after a consultation with all of us, we called a goldsmith to our assistance, and caused to be joined together the metal plates, and fixed them to the shrine, without the least delay, to avoid the scandal of the thing; we also caused to be concealed all traces of the fire, whether visible by wax or in any other manner. But the
Evangelist testifies, that “there is nothing covered which shall not be revealed;" for some pilgrims coming very early in the morning to make their offerings, they could have perceived nothing of the sort; nevertheless, certain of them peering about, inquired where was the fire that they had just heard had been about the shrine. And since it could not be entirely concealed, it was answered to these prying folks, that a candle had fallen down, and that three napkins had been burnt, and that by the heat of the fire some of the stone-work in front of the shrine had been destroyed. Yet for all this there went forth a lying rumour, that the head of the saint had been burnt; some indeed contented themselves with saying that the hair only was burnt: but afterwards, the truth being known, “the mouth of them that spake lies was stopped.”
(To be continued in our next.)
BRIEF MISCELLANEOUS NOTICES BY SEA
AND LAND. CROSSING THE DESERT BETWEEN EGYPT AND PALESTINE.
Ar the end of four hours and three quarters from hence, next day, we descended into a level plain of hard sand, about a mile in length, in which are two small narrow plashes of water, as salt and bitter as those of two days before. But the whole appearance of the plain is different from any we had till then seen. It forms a very regular isosceles triangle of about half a mile deep from the apex to the base along which you ride. It is bounded on all sides by low abrupt sandbanks, which have in parts become covered with scanty brushwood, and is coated throughout with curious incrustations of salt, looking and feeling under the foot like a thin sheet of frozen snow, some of which we brought away. They proved, upon analysis, to be of the same component parts, and differing very little in the proportions of them, with the deposits we had found in the salt-pools three days before in the country near Sesterieh. On mounting the bank at the further angle, the open sea appeared at not more than ten or twelve miles to our left.
From thence we proceeded on an uninterrupted rise for two hours and a quarter more, when we had again a fine view of the Mediterranean to the north-west, over a succession of salt marshes. The desert had now become in parts more broken by a growth of low shrubs. We descended again for an hour and a quarter, and again rose, again catching sight of the sea, with occasional salt-plains. At the end of three hours more we reached a tract of what seemed to be cultivable ground. And here, under a sandy bank, whose crest was thickly set with bushes and patches of asphodel, now coming into fine bloom, under which the limestone rock jutted forth, (the first appearance of this kind we had seen during the last eight days of our journey,) we pitched our tent for the night. The scanty green, the grey rock, and flowers, were a great refreshment to our eyes after the almost unbroken glare on which they had of late been resting through the whole of each of these days, relieved only by the hues of sunset and the darkness when the night set in. The midday sky, though gloriously serene, had not been of pure blue. The heat, even at this early time of the year, though very agreeable to the feel, had filled the air with a trembling hazy light, which dazzled without brightness.
The weather had, except at night, been very warm ever since we left Cairo.—Lord Nugent's “ Lands Classical and Profune."
ENTERING PALESTINE: WATER FOR TRAVELLERS. At the end of four hours and a half more of very dreary flat, we arrived, after night-fall, at some variety of undulating ground, where at intervals the limestone rock began again to appear. Traces of ancient cultivation are to be seen on either side of a tract which in parts is paved and gradually leads to a range of gardens fenced off by artificial banks and hedges of prickly pear. We were on the outskirts of the village of Khan Younes, (the “ Inn of Jonas,'') according to D'Anville, the ancient Jenissus. This may be truly called the frontiertown of Palestine, although no guard, or quarantine-picket, or other station indicative of a frontier-line between two countries, is to be found, till you arrive at Gaza, full twelve English miles beyond.
On a burial-ground adjoining the village of Khan Younes we pitched our tent, and got a plentiful supply of good water, and of goat's-milk, eggs, and a couple of very lean fowls, from the hospitable inhabitants. Of the eleven days of journey which had now elapsed, inclusive of the afternoon on which we quitted Cairo, the last seven had been passed in the desert. We had hitherto departed but little from the ordinary hadj route leading to Jerusalem, and had met with no difficulty and undergone no inconvenience whatever, excepting the want of good water during four or five days. During that time the little we could carry in the skins had become very brown; not foetid, but very nauseous.
Boil Russia leather into a pretty strong decoction ; let this get half cool ; and you will have a fair specimen of the water to be drunk on a desert-journey. It is a flavour that does not improve upon acquaintance with it. I do not know that even a filtering-stone would do much to remedy this. But, if it did, the additional burden of even the smallest of these machines, where it is so important to reduce as far as possible the weight of the camel-loads, would increase the delays of the journey so much as to be a hinderance not balanced by the luxury. I repeat, therefore, the moral, of the truth of which I was well convinced even before leaving Cairo : the fewer “ portable comforts,” the fewer will be the annoyances on such a journey. Whatever inconveniences there may be (and there are none worth thinking of, unless in case of being disabled by injury or bodily accident,) push on, and get through them as rapidly as you can. Do not protract them by any cumbrous devices, very ineffectual to mitigate what, after all, are very trifling grievances.“, Ibid.
HILL-COUNTRY OF JUDÆA: LAND-CULTIVATORS: WELLS.
At the end of the first hour's journey, next inorning, having crossed the plain, we entered upon the hill-country of Judæa, gently-swelling ground, which, like that of the day before, was covered with a fine natural turf, broken only by spots of smooth roundheaded rock, hardly rising above the level of the thick grass. Here and there were tracts of rich