The New Jerusalem eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 278 pages of information about The New Jerusalem.
the church tower, which spreads a cockney commerce but not a Christian culture, has given many men a vague feeling that the influence of modern civilisation will surround these ragged but coloured groups with something as dreary and discoloured, as unnatural and as desolate as the unfamiliar snow in which they were shivering as I watched them.  There seemed a sort of sinister omen in this strange visitation that the north had sent them; in the fact that when the north wind blew at last, it had only scattered on them this silver dust of death.

It may be that this more melancholy mood was intensified by that pale landscape and those impassable ways.  I do not dislike snow; on the contrary I delight in it; and if it had drifted as deep in my own country against my own door I should have thought it the triumph of Christmas, and a thing as comic as my own dog and donkey.  But the people in the coloured rags did dislike it; and the effects of it were not comic but tragic.  The news that came in seemed in that little lonely town like the news of a great war, or even of a great defeat.  Men fell to regarding it, as they have fallen too much to regarding the war, merely as an unmixed misery, and here the misery was really unmixed.  As the snow began to melt corpses were found in it, homes were hopelessly buried, and even the gradual clearing of the roads only brought him stories of the lonely hamlets lost in the hills.  It seemed as if a breath of the aimless destruction that wanders in the world had drifted across us; and no task remained for men but the weary rebuilding of ruins and the numbering of the dead.

Only as I went out of the Jaffa Gate, a man told me that the tree of the hundred deaths, that was the type of the eternal Caliphate of the Crescent, was cast down and lying broken in the snow.

CHAPTER VI

THE GROUPS OF THE CITY

Palestine is a striped country; that is the first effect of landscape on the eye.  It runs in great parallel lines wavering into vast hills and valleys, but preserving the parallel pattern; as if drawn boldly but accurately with gigantic chalks of green and grey and red and yellow.  The natural explanation or (to speak less foolishly) the natural process of this is simple enough.  The stripes are the strata of the rock, only they are stripped by the great rains, so that everything has to grow on ledges, repeating yet again that terraced character to be seen in the vineyards and the staircase streets of the town.  But though the cause is in a sense in the ruinous strength of the rain, the hues are not the dreary hues of ruin.  What earth there is is commonly a red clay richer than that of Devon; a red clay of which it would be easy to believe that the giant limbs of the first man were made.  What grass there is is not only an enamel of emerald, but is literally crowded with those crimson anemones which might well have called forth the great saying touching Solomon in all his glory.  And even what rock there is is coloured with a thousand secondary and tertiary tints, as are the walls and streets of the Holy City which is built from the quarries of these hills.  For the old stones of the old Jerusalem are as precious as the precious stones of the New Jerusalem; and at certain moments of morning or of sunset, every pebble might be a pearl.

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The New Jerusalem from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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