AND at the same moment the Afrite, for it was one of those dread
raised the oars, and the boat moved. The falling waters suddenly
parted in the long line of the star’s reflection, and the barque
glided through their high and severed masses.
In this wise they proceeded for a few minutes, until they entered
a beautiful and moonlit lake. In the distance was a mountainous
country. Alroy examined his companion with a feeling of curiosity
not unmixed with terror. It was remarkable that Alroy could never
succeed in any way in attracting his notice. The Afrite seemed totally
unconscious of the presence of his passenger. At length the boat
reached the opposite shore of the lake, and the Prince of the Captivity
He disembarked at the head of an avenue of colossal lions of red
extending far as the eye could reach, and ascending the side of
the mountain, which was cut into a flight of magnificent steps.
The easy ascent was in consequence soon accomplished, and Alroy,
proceeding along the avenue of lions, soon gained the summit of
To his infinite astonishment he beheld Jerusalem. That strongly-marked
locality could not be mistaken: at his feet were Jehoshaphat, Kedron,*
Siloah; he stood upon Olivet; before him was Sion. But in all other
respects, how different was the landscape from the one that he had
gazed upon a few days back, for the first time! The surrounding
hills sparkled with vineyards, and glowed with summer palaces, and
voluptuous pavilions, and glorious gardens of pleasure. The city,
extending all over Mount Sion, was encompassed with a wall of white
marble, with battlements of gold; a gorgeous mass of gates and pillars,
and gardened terraces; lofty piles of rarest materials, cedar, and
ivory, and precious stones; and costly columns of the richest workmanship
and the most fanciful orders, capitals of the lotus and the palm,
and flowing friezes of the olive and the vine.
And in the front a mighty Temple rose, with inspiration in its
very form; a Temple so vast, so sumptuous, that there needed no
priest to tell us that no human hand planned that sublime magnificence!
‘God of my fathers!’ said Alroy, ‘I am a poor, weak thing, and
my life has been a life of dreams and visions, and I have sometimes
thought my brain lacked a sufficient master; where am I? Do I sleep
or live? Am I a slumberer or a ghost? This trial is too much.’ He
sank down, and hid his face in his hands: his over-exerted mind
appeared to desert him: he wept.
Many minutes elapsed before Alroy grew composed. His wild bursts
of weeping sank into sobs, and the sobs died off into sighs. And
at length, calm from exhaustion, he again looked up, and lo! the
glorious city was no more! Before him was a moon-lit plain, over
which the avenue of lions still advanced, and appeared to terminate
only in the mountainous distance.
This limit the Prince of the Captivity at length reached, and stood
before a stupendous portal, cut out of the solid rock, four hundred
feet in height, and supported by clusters of colossal Caryatides.52
Upon the portal were engraven some Hebrew characters, which upon
examination proved to be the same as those upon the talisman of
Jabaster. And so, taking from his bosom that all-precious and long-cherished
deposit, David Alroy, in obedience to his instructions, pressed
the signet against the gigantic portal.
The portal opened with a crash of thunder louder than an earthquake.
Pale, panting, and staggering, the Prince of the Captivity entered
an illimitable hall, illumined by pendulous balls of glowing metal.
On each side of the hall, sitting on golden thrones, was ranged
a line of kings, and, as the pilgrim entered, the monarchs rose,
and took off their diadems, and waved them thrice, and thrice repeated,
in solemn chorus. ‘All hail, Alroy! Hail to thee, brother king!
Thy crown awaits thee!’
The Prince of the Captivity stood trembling, with his eyes fixed
upon the ground, and leaning breathless against a column. And when
at length he had a little recovered himself, and dared again to
look up, he found that the monarchs were re-seated; and, from their
still and vacant visages, apparently unconscious of his presence.
And this emboldened him, and so, staring alternately at each side
of the hall, but with a firm, perhaps desperate step, Alroy advanced.
And he came to two thrones which were set apart from the others
in the middle of the hall. On one was seated a noble figure, far
above the common stature, with arms folded and down-cast eyes. His
feet rested upon a broken sword and a shivered sceptre, which told
that he was a monarch, in spite of his discrowned head.
And on the opposite throne was a venerable personage, with a long
flowing beard, and dressed in white raiment. His countenance was
beautiful, although ancient. Age had stolen on without its imperfections,
and time had only invested it with a sweet dignity and solemn grace.
The countenance of the king was upraised with a seraphic gaze, and,
as he thus looked up on high, with eyes full of love, and thanksgiving,
and praise, his consecrated fingers seemed to touch the trembling
wires of a golden harp.
And further on, and far above the rest, upon a throne that stretched
across the hall, a most imperial presence straightway flashed upon
the startled vision of Alroy. Fifty steps of ivory, and each step
guarded by golden lions,53
led to a throne of jasper. A dazzling light blazed forth from the
glittering diadem and radiant countenance of him who sat upon the
throne, one beautiful as a woman, but with the majesty of a god.
And in one hand he held a seal, and in the other a sceptre.
And when Alroy had reached the foot of the throne, he stopped,
and his heart misgave him. And he prayed for some minutes in silent
devotion, and, without daring to look up, he mounted the first step
of the throne, and the second, and the third, and so on, with slow
and faltering feet, until he reached the forty-ninth step.
The Prince of the Captivity raised his eyes. He stood before the
monarch face to face. In vain Alroy attempted to attract his attention,
or to fix his gaze. The large dark eyes, full of supernatural lustre,
appeared capable of piercing all things, and illuminating all things,
but they flashed on without shedding a ray upon Alroy.
Pale as a spectre, the pilgrim, whose pilgrimage seemed now on
the point of completion, stood cold and trembling before the object
of all his desires and all his labours. But he thought of his country,
his people, and his God; and, while his noiseless lips breathed
the name of Jehovah, solemnly he put forth his arm, and with a gentle
firmness grasped the unresisting sceptre of his great ancestor.
And, as he seized it, the whole scene vanished from his sight!