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of taxation being exacted from a country impoverished by war, as the Lebanon had been; but if our advice was not taken, we could not employ compulsion ; that as to going to war with Turkey on account of the amount of taxes the Sultan might choose to impose on one of its provinces, it was sheer folly to entertain any such notion.
They replied to this—seeing I was rather warm on the subjectthat my observations were perfectly just; that under ordinary circumstances, interference on the part of a foreign power could not be expected, however oppressive the acts of their government might be ; but their case was not one of every day occurrence, and should be viewed differently. The inhabitants of the Lebanon had been induced to take up arms to drive Ibrahim Pasha out of the country, under the promise of being exempted from all taxation for the space of three years; these promises had been repeatedly made to them by and and
; and though they placed no reliance on the word of any Turkish functionary, yet, backed as it had been by the lastmentioned Englishmen-persons duly authorized—they considered our country bound to see the compact fulfilled.
I begged they would not consider me an “authorized person,” nor indeed as one even qualified to give an opinion on so delicate a subject, but that, according to my judgment, even supposing all they had stated was true as regarded the promises made by the English functionaries they had named, still I very much doubted whether those persons had ever been empowered by our government to make suclı promises; and if they were not so empowered, it would be absurd to expect that England should be more bound by engagements entered into by them, than by any one else who might choose to constitute himself a Minister Plenipotentiary,
England, I added, certainly had conceived she was conferring a benefit on the Syrians when she relieved them from the yoke of Egypt, but they must be aware that it was the Sultan, our old ally,the sovereign under whose dominion they had expressed an earnest desire to return,—that our arms had been employed to assist; and England could not therefore compel nor even dictate to the Porte, to adopt a new code of laws for the government of its recovered province.
On further conversation respecting the form of government they were desirous to have established in the Lebanon, I found they wished for a sort of feudal system-to divide the country into petty principalities or scheickdoms; so that every chief of a district might hang his own vassal, as he now kills his own mutton, without let or bindrance.
I observed, that though doubtless it was patriotism that had moved them to take up arms, when our troops, acting in concert with those of the Sultan, landed in Syria, yet I had been given to understand they had received remuneration for the damage done to their property, and had also received rewards in proportion to the good service they had done against the common enemy.
“Remuneration!” they exclaimed with one voicem"Remuneration ! we have not received a para, although we were the very first who joined the allies at Djeuni.”—“And as for rewards,” said one, pointing to a large, rudely finished gold-cased watch, stuck in the belt of one of the parties present," that is the only reward which has been bestowed on any member of our family, though it numbers some of the most distinguished scheicks in the whole Lebanon : men who signalized themselves in the field of battle, whilst other chiefs whom we can name, who skulked away from danger, have received sabres, pistols, and other rewards suited to brave men. We have heard, indeed, that
is daily expected from Stamboul, and is bringing a large sum of money to indemnify those amongst us who suffered during the late war. I hope it will be justly distributed, which was not the case with that sent before, since we received no part of it, though we suffered more than any others." I said I had heard that the person they named was expected at Beyrout; but that I was not aware he was the bearer of any money to distribute amongst the inhabitants of the mountain. “ Then he may as well stay away,” rejoined the chief spokesman,“ for he will find but few friends in the Kesrouan. We love the English, but
is not an Englishman -so at least we are told, and perhaps you can inform us if such is the case.” I replied that I understood
was not an Englishman born, but that I knew him only by sight. They then with one accord accused
of being their enemy; and one fellow, the most ill-looking of the gang, and who, from his having taken the seat of honour, I had regarded as the great Scheick of the party, looking very significantly, and addressing himself to me in a kind of under-tone, said, “ Since
is not an Englishman, suppose that when travelling through this country, any accident were to befal him—for instance, that he should be shot from behind a stone wall-would your government take the matter up very seriously ?"The miscreant looked so thorough, cold blooded an assassin, that I fancy the disgust expressed by my looks answered his question before I could find breath to assure him that England would visit with the severest punishment the perpetration of an act so vile as not even to be contemplated as possible by persons professing to be Christians. “Oh!” he exclaimed-laying his hand deprecatingly upon my arm, and endeavouring to look human, “Oh! be assured that none of us would be guilty of such a crime: I merely supposed that such a circumstance might happen in a part of the country where is so generally disliked.'
Our conversation was not prolonged much after this fishing inquiry, as I said that it being my intention to start for Mar Elias at a very early hour in the morning, I knew they would excuse our expressing a wish to retire to bed. But our acquaintance, with the strong development of the organ of destructiveness, said he must insist on accompanying us, and furnishing horses if we required fresh ones, as the road we purposed taking was bad and very
difficult to find without a guide; and with this understanding on his part, they rose and took leave of us.
Thanks, probably, to the huge flagons,-the contents of four of which were consumed in our over-night symposium-I saw nothing of my promised escort in the morning; but lest the heads of my late bottle companions should prove stronger than we gave them credit for being, I took the precaution of setting off at break of day, with only one attendant, leaving the rest of the party to follow at their leisure ; —
for besides that I did not wish to be again “ bored” by the mercenary scoundrels, both myself and Dragoman were suffering from the effects of the sun of the preceding day, and I wished therefore to get back to the cool and shelter of Mar Elias as speedily as possible.
Our road descended by rapid zig-zags to the bottom of the Wadi Leban, and crossing the stream, wound up the opposite side of the deep valley equally abruptly, gaining in about an hour a large Roman Catholic Convent of Nuns, called Deir Essaide-Convent of the Virgin. From thence we descended into another of the deep rocky ravines by which this country is so singularly rent, called the Wadi Fertak To cross the stream that flows in it, there is a ricketty structure rudely made of unbarked trees, but we found it fordable. Just before crossing the stream, however, we passed a small village called Buhatit Kenan, where there is a small Maronite Convent, dedicated to St. Anthony-a very favourite patron of the Maronites; I suspect from the circumstance of his having set them the example of abstaining from all ablutions for the space of nine years; this anti-soap-and-water system being very much to their taste.
Again ascending by a rude path amongst luxuriant vineyards and dark pine woods, we passed within pistol-shot of another large convent and small hamlet, the former called Mar Samaan (St. Samuel), the latter Wadel Klom; and continuing to ascend, crossed over the crest of a very steep ridge, and found ourselves at the large village of Par El Cab, which overlooks the Wadi Sanin. We now learnt that the road from hence to Mar Elias is excessively bad and very circuitous, and that we should have kept below Mar Semaan, and passed through the village of Zebouah; and we were advised still to proceed to that place, and get into the proper road. Thither, therefore, we bent our steps, and had to recross the summit of the ridge, and descend for a quarter of an hour by an execrable path. From Zebouah we were nearly an hour continually descending, before we reached the bottom of the Wadi Sanin. There was but little water in the stony bed of the river, and crossing over we ascended by a winding path to Abumezan, and thence to Schweiah and Mar Elias; having been upwards of five hours in performing a journey, which, on starting from Meserah, we had been told could easily be done in three.
After remaining a couple of days at Mar Elias to subdue a slight attack of fever from which my Dragoman was suffering, I returned to Beyrout for supplies—money, brandy, tea and medicine; all articles which no one ought to travel without in Syria. My equipment once more complete, and my horses reshod, I returned to the Kesrouan, crossing the Nahr El Kelb, its southern boundary, at its mouth, where it is at most times fordable. There is, however, a good stone bridge about a quarter of a mile up from the sea. The river runs in a narrow ravine, encased by high walls of precipitous rocks, that on its left bank terminating in a bold headland, washed by the Ocean. The road from Beyrout to Djebail, Tripoli, &c., is practicable along the side of this promontóry, and is quite exposed towards the Sea. It is a work of a very remote age, and numerous inscriptions in different languages are carved on the face of the scarped rocks that overlook it.
On crossing the bridge, 1 quitted the coast road, which turns to the left
, and kept for about half a mile ascending along the right bank of the stream. The ride was quite delightful even at this season, the narrow space between the river and the foot of the rocks being thickly planted with mulberry trees; and there are some rude water-mills, supplied by picturesque aqueducts, the dropping from which looked cool and refreshing.
A lateral ravine, or rather break in the wall of rock on our left hand, afforded us the means of egress from the Wadi; a narrow snake-like path having with much labour been wrought up the steep mountain's side; and in about ten minutes we found ourselves already considerably elevated above the sea, and in a comparatively open country. A little on our left was a large convent called Deir Elwyze (Little Almond), and on a high mountain before us was perched a Maronite establishment, built over some caverns, and consequently dedicated to Elias.
Proceeding onwards, and gradually ascending, we reached the village of Zouk Mezpeh, which is nearly a pile of ruins, owing, it is said, to the extreme unhealthiness of its situation. From thence, descending very abruptly, we crossed a deep gulley, and, by an equally rapid and toilsome ascent, gained Zouk Mikael, a large and reputedto-be flourishing village or town, for it is considered the capital of the Kesrouan. It contains many manufactories, on a small scale, of the cloaks worn by the natives, called Abbas, and the inhabitants are also considered expert at the filagree silver work used in the coffee-cup stands of the magnates of the land. There are two immense convents overlooking the place, Deir Bischierreh and Mar Mikael,-and within a few minutes walk of it is the “ Residenza”—the house of the Captain-General of the Franciscans of Terra Santa. The person holding this high office at the present time is a Spaniard, and said to be a wellinformed and worthy man. I regretted to learn that he was absent from home, on calling at his abode.
From Zouk Mikael, a fine view is obtained of the Bay of Djeuni and village of that name, which consists of a small group of huts, a Khan and a Custom-house, situated near the sea-beach. There are, however, many hamlets, convents, and detached houses belonging to the district of Djeuni scattered over a long narrow belt of richly cultivated country, that extends from the sea-shore to the foot of a lofty mountain ridge which falls almost en muraille towards the Mediterranean.
Retracing my steps, and leaving the Residenza on my left hand, I again descended into the valley that separates the two Zouks. It is far more practicable here than where I had formerly crossed it, and in the course of a quarter of an hour I arrived abreast of the village of Antourah, situated about a quarter of a mile to the right, where the Lazarists have a large Convent and College. On a lofty peak above them, but somewhat nearer the sea, is perched the Greek Convent of Mar Elias, where there is a very commanding view. Pushing on by a very narrow path, I passed the head of the ravine on my right hand, and descended into another on my left, leaving yet another large monastery, called Markamul El Harash, overhanging its southern bank.
Having crossed this ravine, the road turns back towards the sea coast to gain the western side of the mountain, which is more easy of access, and in about half an hour I arrived at the large Convent of Bekerke-Deir El Benãt,-overlooking Djeuni. Bekerke is a Maronite Nunnery, and was built by the notorious Hendia, who, some ninety years since, succeeded in imposing on many persons the belief that she was the Virgin Mary returned to Earth ; and under the cloak of great external sanctity, led a very disreputable life, enriching herself and her abettors by the perpetration of the most revolting atrocities on her wretched dupes. The Convent is a large dreary looking pile, unsheltered from the sun in summer, or the storm in winter, and looks as if under a malediction.
Another hour of toilsome ascent brought us to Harissa, a Latin Franciscan Convent, which offers a pleasing contrast to the gloomy Maronite edifice below, it having an European look of cleanliness, and being surrounded by vineyards, gardens, and orange trees. The view from the flat roof of the house is remarkably fine, embracing the whole line of coast from Beyrout to Djebail. I received a very hospitable reception from the brotherhood, and finding the accommodation good, remained here several days, visiting different places of interest in the neighbourhood. All qualms of conscience on the score of accepting hospitality at these houses are spared, by its being perfectly well understood that a donation will not be refused. Indeed, I have known instances where travellers have been told that the gift they offered was not enough. The Franciscans, being beggars by profession, have some excuse to offer for this ; but all Syrian monks equally expect to be handsomely remunerated for the poor fare and miserable lodging their establishments afford the traveller.
On taking my departure from Harissa, I bent my steps towards Bezommar--the Convent of the Assumption-an imposing-looking edifice that stands on a higher elevation than any other monastery in the Kesrouan, and is the residence of the Armenian “ Catholic” Patriarch. The road is bad-steep and stony—but the views along it are extremely beautiful. In about half an hour we were abreast of the Convent of Escharfe, which I had visited during my sojourn at Harissa. It is an establishment of the Syrian Church ; very much neglected and inhabited by two monks, who seemed to regard their residence there as a penance which had been inflicted on them for a looseness of opinion touching some peculiar tenets of their Church.
From hence to Bezommar is about two miles, the road ascending continually. It was near sunset when I arrived, for I had deferred starting from Harissa until the great heat of the day was passed, and the Patriarch was attending mass. I was ushered into a comfortable room and served with the usual refreshments-coffee and pipes—to wile away the time until the Patriarch had concluded his devotions. His Eminence honoured me with a visit as soon as the evening service was over. I had heard that he was a pleasing, gentlemanlike person, and was not disappointed. He spoke a little Italian, but not enough to enable us to dispense with a Dragoman, particularly as he was accompanied by a young Emir, who spoke not a word of any language but Arabic. We maintained an interesting conversation on the state of the country, and other matters, in the course of which I had po difficulty in discovering that His Eminence was a great admirer of