[from Alta Letter 44]
Jerusalem, September, 1867.

[the tomb of Adam]

It is a singular circumstance that right under the roof of this same great church, and not far away from that illustrious column, old Adam, the father of the human race, lies buried. There is no question that he is actually buried in the grave which is pointed out as his--there can be none--because it has never yet been proven that the grave is not the grave in which he is buried. I could not do less than shed some tender tears over poor old Adam. I could not but feel how much he had lost by dying so young. He had not seen the telegraph, or the locomotive, or the steamboat; he did not even see the flood. He missed the Paris Exposition. There was a roughness about that that cannot be over-estimated. He never had to pay three dollars a dozen for washing, and then have somebody's shirts come home to him that were too right around the neck--but can a happiness like that atone for the suffering it must have cost him to have to go into company in the meagre costume of his time? When he first put on fig leaves he probably felt innocently gay; and when he finally branched out and got himself up regardless of expense, in a sheep-skin, he must have considered himself positively gorgeous. But think of Adam, with that skin and his long patriarchal beard, and think of him in a claw-hammer coat, white kids, and a moustache. The more I reflected upon what Adam had lost in being taken away so early, the more I was moved and the more I wept. The subject is too painful for contemplation, even now. Let us change it.

[St. Helena]

In this altar they used to keep one of the most curious relics that human eyes ever looked upon--a thing that had power to fascinate the beholder in some mysterious way and keep him staring for hours together. It was nothing less than the copper plate Pilate put upon the Savior's cross, and upon which he wrote, "THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS." I think St. Helena, the mother of Constantine, found this wonderful memento when she was prospecting here in the third century. She was all over Palestine, and she had a run of luck the like of which was never seen before or since. Whenever she found a thing mentioned in her Bible, Old or New, she would take her umbrella and start out after that thing and never, never stop until she found it. If it was Adam, she would find Adam; if it was the Ark, she would find the Ark; if it was Goliah, or Joshua or Exodus, or any of those parties, she would find them; if it was a cup of a saint, or the handkerchief of the Virgin, or a painting by St. Luke, a man could risk his shekels that she would raise them; there was not anything she couldn't find. She was starting after Moses when she died; Moses is not found yet. And as for martyrs--why, martyrs were her strong suit, as you might say. She could start a martyr any time. She was pretty much always turning up a martyr somewhere, and dividing him up among the churches--a leg to this great cathedral, an arm to that, the body to the third, and so on, and the toe-nails she gave to the small fry. She meant well, of course, but then she has those martyrs divided up and scattered around so, that fragments of different ones have got mixed together, and there is going to be trouble some day on account of it. She was a most remarkable woman, and very impartial about martyrs.

She did her best here on Calvary, no doubt. She had a claim here that she worked as long as she lived, and always had reason to be satisfied with it. She found the inscription here that I was speaking of, I think. She found it in this very spot, close to where the martyred Roman soldier stood. It is but just to say that the circumstance aroused no suspicion concerning the soldier. That copper plate is in one of the churches in Rome, now. I have seen it there. The inscription is very distinct. It is written in English, Italian and Spanish. This fact proves its authenticity, because these languages were not known in Pilate's time.

[Daily Alta California, 15 March 1868]

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