« 이전계속 »
Land of lost joys! 0 never, never more
Thus as T spake out, passionate and sad,
THE LEBANON AND ITS INHABITANTS.
A LECTURE, DELIVERED BEFORE THE UNITED SERVICE INSTITUTION OE WESTERN INDIA, POONA, BY THE REV. DR. MURRAY MITCHELL,
—September 1860. The subject on which I shall have the honour to address you for a short time is "Mount Lebanon and its Inhabitants." I venture to hope that this topic will possess a considerable measure of interest to all who are present. There is no subject on which a larger number of books has issued, aud continues to issue, from the press, than that of Syria and Palestine. It is evident that these books find readers, and that the public interest in the subject continues unabated. In any circumstances, then, our present subject might have been selected as appropriate in this introductory series of lectures. But I do not require to tell you that a new and terrible interest has been flung around the whole question of Syria during the last three or four months. As I am fully convinced that the interest that invests these regions will increase, and that what we have yet witnessed is only the first act of a drama of thrilling development and stupendous issues, it seems well that we should all be familiarising ourselves with the main scenes of these already darkly tragical events.
Our attention will be chiefly fixed on Lebanon: but look for a moment at the whole region of which it forms the noble citadel. Glance at the entire tract of country that stretches from the
Mediterranean to the Euphrates—from the "Great Sea" on the west to thB "Great River" on the east. There is, perhaps, no region upon earth that has been blessed with higher natural advantages. In scenery, climate, soil, no country of equal extent can compete with it. Lofty mountain ranges, capped with eternal suows; far-extending plains, once the granary of nations, and ready, at the bidding of industry, to become the same again ; noble rivers, once the highways of ceaseless traffic, on whose banks stood mighty cities, that have filled the world with their renown ;— these are among the objects that strike us as we cast a rapid glance over this remarkable region.
The interest deepens as we retrace our steps, andapproach Syria Proper— by which I mean the country skirting the eastern coast of the Mediterranean.
The mountains of Lebanon consist of two nearly parallel ranges, about ninety miles in length ; the westward one being properly Lebanon, and the eastward Anti-Lebanon, or "Lebanon towards the sun-rising." Between them lies the fertile plain anciently called Coele Syria, i. e., Hollow Syria, now called Baka,a. In this valley, near' the sources of the river Leontes, lies Baalbec (Heliopolis), with its majestic ruins, which present perhaps the finest specimens of Corinthian columns now in existence. The Leontes runs southwest, and then westward, falling into the sea a little to the north of Tyre. Anti-Lcbanou terminates to the south in Mount Herinon, called Jcbel-es-Sheikh, i. e., the Mountain of the Sheikh or the old man, about 10,000 or rather 12,000 feet high, its top always glittering with snow, its sides cleft into deep gorges and covered with stately forests, which are the haunt of wild beasts now as of old, when Solomon said—" Look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens and from the mountains of the leopards." Hermon has often been said to rival Mont Blanc in imposing grandeur.
At the eastern base of Anti-Lebanon stands the celebrated city of Damascus. All of my hearers must be familiar with descriptions of this remarkable spot: travellers of every age have exhausted their powers of description in the enumeration of its charms. It is, according to the inhabitants of Syria, the "queen of oriental cities"—a "pearl surrounded by emefalds"; and the story told of Mohammad well illustrates the sense they entertain of its surpassing beauty. "Man can have but one Paradise allotted him," Mohammad is reported to have exclaimed, as he gazed on Damascus from a distance ; "and mine," said he, "shall be a heavenly one!" So saying, he turned away, and never sought to enter it.
The western base pf Lebanon is washed by the Mediterranean, on the shore of which stood the ancient cities of Tyre and Sidon. Further north is Beyrout, a port which has been rapidly rising in importance; and still further north is Tripoli. Somettwenty miles north of Beyrout is an insignificant stream now called Nahr Ibrahim, which was famous of old as the Adonis. The name will bring to your recollection the lines of Milton, so musically descriptive of the ancient rites connected with it:
"Thammuz came next behind; Whose annual wound in Lebanon allured The Syrian damsels to lament his fate In amorous ditties all a summer's day; While smooth Adonis from his native rock Ran purple to the sea, supposed with blood Of Thammuz yearly wounded."
The word Lebanon denotes white; Mount Lebanon, then, simply means White Mountain. Perhaps this designation was originally derived from the snow, which never completely disappears from the summits, and which to the inhabitants of the sunny plains beneath
must have been an object of the greatest interest. On the other hand, Lebanon, except in a very few spots, where basalt crops out, is throughout calcareous— limestone, marble, or chalk ; and the rocks are often of dazzling whiteness. Although the mountain Has an endless succession of terraces, which, when you pass them, are covered with the finest crops, yet, looking upwards from the base, you see little but the white stony abutments that support them, and the deep wild ravines that run precipitously down into the plain.
Lebanon, even if never touched by the hand of man, would have been a magnificent object, with its snow-capped summits, its rocks—now tossed into wild, fantastic shapes, now assuming the appearance of regular towers and castles, —its cedar forests, once of enormous extent, its tall pines, its oaks, and its abundance of clear gushing streams that carry life and joy into the thirsty plains around,—and growing wild, in endless profusion, innumerable flowers which are the pride of gardens in Europe, and aromatic plants which fill the air with a delicious fragrance. But the diligence of man has contributed not a little to its picturesqueness and beauty. Over Lebanon generally, but especially in the part inhabited by the Maronites, every nook, almost every cranny in the rock where any soil can be scraped together, has been turned to account. Precipices, which in their original condition must have been hard enough for goats to climb, have been cut down, and arranged with wonderful skill into a series of terraces, capacious and symmetrical; and there, in the summer, flourish in greenest luxuriance the- mulberry, the fig, and the vine. Dense groves of olive fill the lower parts of the valleys. Hamlets and villages are scattered over the face of the mountain, sometimes embosomed in groves, sometimes perched on the very edge of the dizzy precipice, in attitudes as perilous as picturesque; but although the winds blow, and the wintry tempests beat around, the foundation is secure—in every case the houses rest on the rock beneath, and even the swollen torrents hardly injure them. All along the broad sides of the mountain, almost up to the snowy peaks thirty miles away, gleam the multitudinous white Maronite convents — useful, at all events, in contributing a fresh beauty to this wonderful scene, scattered, as they ave, in the most romantic spots over the whole face of the mountain. It has been said that Lebanon combines every variety of mountain form and beauty that is to be found in the four quarters of the globe during the four seasons of the year. Hence the Native poets have said, "The Sannin (this is one of the highest parts of Lebanon) carries winter on his head, spring on his shoulders, and autumn in his bosom, while summer lies sleeping at his feet." And this is no mere poetic fancy. In a word, supreme grandeur and magnificence when surveyed as a whole, with a multitudinous beauty when its parts are examined in detail, are the characteristics of wondrous Lebanon.
Now when these things are beheld on some favoured day in spring, or, perhaps still better, amid the mellowed magnificence of autumn—when the sun is sinking into the blue, or, I should rather say, the purple, Mediterranean—
"Not, as in northern climes, obscurely bright, But one unclouded blaze of living light"—
and his rays are tinging every object with radiant hues that change like the colours of the chameleon—" the last still loveliest,"—till jealous night rushes up the mountain, and quenches the rosy light that flickered round the summit, and the snow assumes the pallid hue of death,—I say, when the mountain is beheld in circumstances like these, one can understand how even the most prosaic travellers kindle into transport as they speak of the indescribable glory of Lebanon.
There is a something in the atmosphere, and in the sunlight, of the regions washed by the eastern part of the Mediterranean, that bathes in peculiar beauty and freshness every object of nature, and every work of art. You feel it in some'measure in Italy; it is very perceptible in Greece—and well might the Athenian poet describe his countrymen as
"Ever luxuriously moving
You find it still more on the coasts of Asia Minor ; and perhaps it is most of all conspicuous in Syria. I transcribe the following lines from a journal in reference to a scene in the Bay of Smyrna :— "This morning was one which, having once beheld, one might dream of for a lifetime. Oh the golden light, poured down those deep ravines — the pure, transparent, shining atmosphere—the perfectly glassy water—the gentle haze resting around, giving a dreamy mystic » look to all things—the tranquil vessels— the little boats gliding noiselessly about; —the peace of Nature was complete. A poet might describe her as some goddess in repose, clad in robes of imperial gold and purple, and placid as a sleeping child."
But it is time that we should speak of the inhabitants of Lebanon.
To the north of Tripoli are the Ansairiyah—& lawless tribe of heterodox Mohammadaus, of whom very little is known. Southward from Tripoli are the Maronites; south of them the Druses; south of them the Mutawilah— Mohammadans of the Shiah sect. Interspersed among these are Greeks, and also Greek Catholics. But the two races of Maronites and Druses are so much more numerous and influential than the others, that we may almost confine our attention to them.
The Maronites.—The Maronites are. of Syrian origin, and their ecclesiastical language is still Syriac, although Arabic has supplanted it as the language .of common life. Some of them may possibly be the descendants of the ancient inhabitants of the mountain-— "the Hivites in Mount Lebanon," of whom we read in the Book of Joshua. A still larger proportion are descended from the inhabitants of Syria generally, who fle"d for refuge to the wilds of Lebanon when the Mohammadan Khalifa conquered Syria in the seventh century. A certain proportion of them are descended from the Franks who came to Palestine in the time of the Crusades, their names still testifying to their Western extraction.
These refugees found the security they sought in the heights of Lebanon. Even during the most brilliant period of Moslem ascendancy, they remained unsubdued, and bade defiance to the mandate of Khalif and Sultan; and while the torrent of invasion has repeatedly swept over the Syrian plains, their mountain citadel has remained inviolate—ioften assailed, indeed, but ever defended with a courage as irresistible as it was dauntless, by the mountaineers—" men," to use the words of a writer of the thirteenth century,* who knew them well, " armed with bows and arrows, and skilful in battle."
The Crusaders were surprised and delighted to find such potent auxiliaries on the Syrian soil. Some of their chiefs and principal ecclesiastics accompanied Godfrey de Bouillon to Jerusalem; 50,000 Maronites are said to have fallen during the struggles with the Saracens. From Baldwin I. they received the custody of the Church of St. Helena, and the Cave of the True Cross, in the Church of the Resurrection ;and it is a significant fact, that the Maronites declare they still possess the deed conveying to them the possession of these,—which they hope ere long to wrest from the "Greeks, who have usurped them.
The Maronites submitted to the Pope in 1167, and the Papal power has now no more obedient vassals. In several things, however, the Maronites differ from the Roman Catholics of Europe. Thus, they allow the marriage of priests,—unmarried priests, indeed, are hardly allowed to hold parishes, or take part in the confessional. To the efforts of Protestant Missionaries the Maronites are most bitterly opposed. Persecution as unrelenting as that which strove to extinguish the nascent Reformation has fallen on every Maronite who has shown the slightest leaning towards the teaching of the Missionaries.
The Maronites boast that they are under French protection; and the French are delighted to avow the connection. A letter was sent to the Maronite Patriarch by Louis XIV. in 1649, and a similar one by his grandson in 1737, in which the office of Protector of the Maronites is assumed, and dwelt upon with all possible pomp and ostentation. Politically, this is a fact of immense significance. The priests, who
* Jacques de Vitry.
have the people entirely under control, always point to the arrival of the French as a period of jubilee, when, under their victorious banner, the Maronites shall purge the entire extent of Lebanon of all Druses, infidels, and heretics. This hope is never relinquished ; its speedy fulfilment is deemed quite a possible event. So then, when two or three large vessels appear in the offing, "innumerable eyes," says Colonel Churchill, who spent ten years in the Lebanon, "are directed from the heights to examine their course.and dimensions ;while the cry is taken up and passed from mouth to mouth with credulous enthusiasm, 'The French have arrived ; look, there they are!' The whole population is thrown into excitement; and were a French army actually to land, a body of 20,000 stout mountaineers would rally round their standard, eager to fight for any cause which these cherished protectors chose to espouse."
The Maronites, however, are not now the warlike race they were in days of old. On the Lebanon altogether they may amount to 220,000: about a seventh part of this number, i. e. 30,000, are capable of bearing arms; but the really efficient soldiers are estimated at only 10,000 men,—and these of course are. wanting in discipline. In fact, it is only the highlanders among them that fight well: in the lower ranges, they have entirely betaken themselves to peaceful pursuits, and lost all relish for war. Still, in the event of a great struggle in Syria, these 10,000 Maronite warriors would be far from despicable, whether as friends or foes.
The Druses.—It was about the year 821 that certain Arab tribes began to take possession of the portion of Lebanon that extends southward from about Beyrout. They were Mohammadans, but not fanatical. During the early period of the Crusades, while the Christian Maronites threw themselves heart and soul into the struggle, the Arab tribes remained quiet,—content that the Frank invaders left them undisturbed in their mountain retreats. But by this time, a silent but most important change had taken place in their religion. They were, in fact, no longer Mohammadans.
For many centuries, the Mohammadan world has now ceased to be agitated by the springing up of sects and divisions within itself. The Mohammadans, in truth, have pretty much ceased to think on religious questions,—they languidly accept, without intelligence or investigation, the prevalent system: at least, this was the case until within the last four or Ave years. But for centuries after Mohammad's appearance the minds of his followers were vehemently excited—there was a continual collision and clash of systems; and not a few individuals aspired to follow Mohammad's example, by proclaiming themselves as commissioned from heaven to lead erring mortals into the path of truth. One of the most daring of these innovations was the creed propounded in Egypt by the sixth Khalif of the Fatimite dynasty, Mansur Abu Ali Hakim. About the year 1020, after a career of folly, caprice, and cruelty, to which we shall find few parallels even in the East, Hakim gaye himself out as the Deity in human form. Two of his creatures, Dorazi, a Turk, and Hamzah, a Persian, professed their conviction- of the truth of his claims, and propagated the new revelation with astonishing energy and success among the Arab tribes of Lebanon. From Derazi comes the word Druse; this being simply Deruz—the Arabic plural of Derazi.
I hardly think that my auditors would be much interested in any exposition of the Druse religion. They long laboured to keep it' secret; but, happily, several important documents explanatory of it fell into the hands of the distinguished Orientalist Silvestre de Sacy; and his learned work in two volumes, published twenty-two years ago, under the title Expose de la Religion des Druzes, contains quite enough to satisfy our curiosity. The Druses hold the unity of God ; they believe that He has manifested Himself to men at different epochs, under a human form ; that the last of these manifestations was in the person of the Khalif Hakim ; that no new manifestation will take place; but that Hakim (who disappeared, to try the faith of his servants) will reappear, and will extend his empire and religion over the whole earth. And so on, —thus far, the whole looking very like
an impious parody on Christianity. They believe, further, in the transmigration of souls. The Druses drink wine, eat swine's flesh, marry within the prohibited degrees, and practise neither fasting, nor circumcision, nor pilgrimage—in all these points differing from the Mohammadans. A more remarkable thing still is, that they never pray. The vast body hardly think of religion at all; but they are divided into the initiated and uninitiated. The initiated shroud the secret doctrines of their religion in inviolable secrecy, and ridicule the idea that Europeans have obtained their books. "Whoever," say they, in one of their standard works, "shall betray the least of our secrets, let him be slain without mercy as an apostate." On the other hand, they receive no converts. They hate all of a different faith, especially Europeans, probably on account of a current tradition that the western nations will all but destroy them* ; and one Druse cannot say a more insulting thing to another than this: "May Heaven put a hat upon you!" They readily profess Mohammadanism or Christianity, when it serves a purpose, while in secret they are as much Drtfses as ever ; and this deceit is one of the worst features of their character. Perhaps the best feature is their hospitality. No suppliant is turned away ; and, when once a guest has received his protection, the Druse would rather die than surrender him to his enemies.
They do not practise polygamy. The women of the higher classes can read and write ; they can also be initiated into the secret doctrines. The seclusion of the females is, in other respects, nearly as great as among the Mohammadans: in some families they do not appear even before their near relatives. Whenever they go abroad, they are closely veiled, and only one eye—the left—is allowed to appear. The most notable part.of female dress is the celebrated tantour— a large silver horn, projecting at an angle of 45° or so from the forehead, from the tip of which the veil is suspended. This is the peculiar badge of
* Burckhardt says, destroy. But this is hardly reconcilable with one of their chief tenets.