Page images

INT 1.



platform where the cedars stand is more than six thousand feet above the Mediterranean, and around it are gathered the very tallest and greyest heads of Lebanon. The forest is not large--not more than five hundred trees, great and small, grouped irregularly on the sides of shallow ravines, which mark the birth-place of the Khadisha, or Holy River.

But, though the space covered by them does not exceed half a dozen acres, yet, when fairly within the grove, and beneath the giant arms of those old patriarchs of a hundred generations, there comes a solemn hush upon the soul as if by enchantment. Precisely the same sort of magic spell settles on the spirits, no matter how often you repeat your visits. But it is most impressive

in the night. Let us by all means arrange to sleep there. The universal siation lence is almost painful. The grey old towers of Lebanon, still as a stone, stand ipilit. all around, holding up the stars of heaven to look at you ; and the trees

gather like phantoms about you, and wink knowingly, or seem to, and whisper among themselves you know not what. You become suspicious, nervous, until, broad awake, you find that it is nothing but the flickering of your drowsy fire, and the feeble fiutter of bats among boughs of the trees. A night among the cedars is never forgotten; the impressions, electrotyped, are hid away in the inner chamber of the soul, among her choicest treasures, to be visited a thousand times with never-failing delight.

There is a singular discrepancy in the statements of travellers with regard to the number of trees. Some mention seven, others thirteen-intending, doubtless, only those whose age and size render them Biblical, or at least historical. It is not easy, however, to draw any such line of demarcation.

There is a complete gradation from small and comparatively young to the very ber of oldest patriarchs of the forest. I counted four hundred and forty-three, great

and small; and this cannot be far from the true number. This, however, is not uniform. Some are struck down by lightning, broken by enormous loads of snow, or torn to fragments by tempests. Even the sacrilegious axe is sometimes lifted against them. But, on the other hand, young trees are constantly springing up from the roots of old ones, and from seeds of ripe cones. I have seen these infant cedars in thousands just springing from the soil ; but, as the grove is wholly unprotected, and greatly frequented both by men and animals, they are quickly destroyed. This fact, however, proves that the number might be increased ad libitum. Beyond a doubt, the whole of these upper terraces of Lebanon might again be covered with groves of this noble tree, and furnish timber enough not only for Solomon's temple and the house of the forest of Lebanon, but for all the houses along this coast. But, unless a wiser and more provident government control the country, such a result can never be realized ; and, indeed, the whole forest will slowly die ont under the dominion of the Arab and Turk. Even in that case the tree will not be lost. It has been propagated by the nut or seed in many parks in Europe, and there are more of them within fifty miles of London than on all Lebanon.

We have seen larger trees every way, and much taller, on the banks of the


[blocks in formation]


Ohio, and the loftiest cedar might take shelter under the lowest branches of CHAPTER California's vegetable glories. Still, they are respectable trees. The girth of the largest is more than forty-one feet; the height of the highest may be one size. hundred. These largest, however, part into two or three only a few feet from the ground. Their age


very uncertain, nor are they more ready to reveal it Age. than others who have an uneasy consciousness of length of days. Very different estimates have been made. Some of our missionary band, who have experience in such matters, and confidence in the results, have counted the growths (as we Western people call the annual concentric circles) for a few inches into the trunk of the oldest cedar, and from such data carry back its birth three thousand five hundred years. It may be so. They are carved full of names and dates, going back several generations, and the growth since the earliest date has been almost nothing. At this rate of increase they must have been growing ever since the flood. But young trees enlarge far faster, so that my confidence in estimates made from such specimens is but small.

The wood, bark, cones, and even leaves of the cedar are saturated, so to The time speak, with resin. The heart has the red cedar colour, but the exterior is ber. whitish. It is certainly a very durable wood, but is not fine grained, nor


sufficiently compact to take a high polish; for ordinary architectural purposes, however, it is perhaps the best there is in the country. There is a striking





peculiarity in the shape of this tree, which I have not seen any notice of in books of travel. The branches are thrown out horizontally from the parent

trunk. These, again, part into limbs which preserve the same horizontal branches. direction, and so on down to the mimitest twigs, and even the arrangement of the clustered leaves has the same general tendency. Climb into one,


you are delighted with a succession of verdant floors spread around the trunk, and gradually narrowing as you ascend. The beautiful cones seem to stand upon, or rise out of this green flooring. I have gathered hundreds of these cones for friends in Europe and America; and you will see them in private cabinets more frequently than any other memento of the Holy Land.

We will now turn to the left, and visit some curious sculptures in the face seup

of the rocks on the south side of this ravine which comes down from Kanab. Here they are, some twenty figures of men, women, and children, rudely carved in alto-relievo when no great progress had been made in sculpture. They may be of any supposable age, and were probably cut by Phoenician artists, before Tyre had any such masters as that Iliram who was filled with all wisdom to work all cunning work, whom Solomon employed to beautify the temple of the most high God.


[graphic][merged small]
[ocr errors]

And that is Kanah spreading down the mountain to the east. It is a village of not more than two thousand inhabitants, and I see no evidence of antiquity about it.

That may be accounted for from the nature of the stone, a white marl, barely hard enough to be wrought, and which soon dissolves into soil when exposed to sun and rain. There is a ruin about a mile north of it, called 'Em el ’Awamid, which was built of hard rock, and there are ancient remains in abundance-foundations, columns, oil-presses, cisterns, and posts of houses scattered far and wide over the face of the mountain. There, too, are some

[ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »