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The Maronites, chiefly of Lebanon, may be . 200,000 The orthodox Greeks, in all parts of the country . 150,000 Armenians 20,000, Jacobites 15,000
35,000 There are Papal offshoots from these sects, which may number 70 or 80,000 . .
80,000 There are a few Latins in most of the large cities,
and also Protestants in various parts. This gives a total of 1,610,000, which, of course, is only as close an approximation as the very imperfect statistics of the government and of the different sects enable us to make.
In this enumeration, the Arab tribes that roam over the deserts are not included. Very little is known about their numbers, and estimates by different individuals vary surprisingly. They may be two hundred thousand, possibly half a million. It is interesting to notice how these various populations are distributed over the country. Lebanon has about 400,000 inhabitants, gathered into more than six hundred towns, villages, and hamlets. Of the cities of Syria, Damascus is the largest, as it is the oldest—perhaps it is the most ancient city in the world that is now flourishing and populous. It numbers about 120,000. Jerusalem, the most interesting city on the globe, has only about 18,000, Aleppo has 70 or 80,000, Beirût from 40 to 50,000, Hamah 33,000, Hums 25,000, Antioch 20,000, Tripoli and Harbor 18,000, Edlip 10,000, Ladakîyeh 6000, Sidon 10,000, Tyre 3500, Acre 5000, Khaifa 3000, Nazareth 3000, Safet 4000, Tiberias 1500, Jennîn 2500, Nablus 12,000, Jaffa 11,000, Ramleh, 4000, Gaza 16,000, Hebron 6000, Bethlehem 3500. In Lebanon, Zahleh is the largest, and has about 11,000 inhabitants. Deir el Kamar has 7000, Hasbeiya, in Hermon, has about 6000, and Rashaia 2500. I need scarcely remind you that the entire population is gathered into towns and villages.
The various religions and sects live together, and practice their conflicting superstitions in close proximity, but the people do not coalesce into one homogeneous community, nor do they regard each other with fraternal feelings. The Sunnites excommunicate the Shïïtes—both hate the Druse, and all three detest the Nusairîyeh. The Maronites have no particular love for any body, and, in turn, are disliked by all. The Greeks can not endure the Greek Catholics—all despise the Jews. And the same remarks apply to the minor divisions of this land. There is no common bond of union. Society has no continuous strata underlying it, which can be opened and worked for the general benefit of all, but an endless number of dislocated fragments, faults, and dikes, by which the masses are tilted up in hopeless confusion, and lie at every conceivable angle of antagonism to each other. That omnific spirit that brooded over primeval chaos can alone bring order out of such confusion, and reduce these conflicting elements to peace and concord.
Another curious fact is, that, with the exception of the Jews and Bedawîn Arabs, no one can trace back his own origin to any ancient race or nation. The general mass of the Moslems are the mingled descendants of the various races who composed the population of the Greek empire at the time of Mohammed, and this original confusion of races has been infinitely augmented during the twelve centuries of their lawless occupation. In all the Christian sects there has been the same blending of primitive races, and a large infusion of foreign and European blood during the times of the Crusades, and subsequently even to our day, so that the most intelligent and learned admit that it is absolutely impossible now to ascertain their true national origin. The Maronites, as a body, may have descended from the ancient Syrians. The Nusairîyeh suggest the idea that they are the miserable debris of the accursed Canaanites. The Metāwelies appear to have immigrated from Persia; they have a decided resemblance to the Jews. The Moslems of Palestine, and particularly from Carmel southward, have largely intermingled with the Egyptians. Perhaps some of their peculiarities of manners, countenance, and language may have been derived from the old Philistines, who came originally from Egypt, as I believe, and not from Cappadocia or Cyprus. In the inhabitants of Lebanon and the plains at its base we may possibly find some traces of the original Phoe
ABU EL ASWAD-ORNITHON.
nicians. The Druses are Arabs, who came from the eastern confines of Syria, and settled in Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon within the last nine hundred
years. No other country in the world, I presume, has such a multiplicity of antagonistic races, and herein lies the greatest obstacle to any general and permanent amelioration and improvement in their condition, character, and prospects. They can never form one united people, never combine for any important religious or political purpose, and will therefore remain weak, incapable of self-government, and exposed to the invasions and oppressions of foreigners. Thus it has been, is now, and must long continue to be—a people divided, meted out, and trodden down.
From these tombs of ’Adlûn to the Kasimîeh, the plain is called Abu el Aswad, from a brook of that name which cuts through the centre of it
, or both plain and brook derive this name (Father of Black) from the extreme blackness of the soil. There are three paths—one along the base of the hills, the main road through the centre of the plain, and a third by the sea-shore. We take the latter to avoid the mud. From the brook southward, the regular road is now soft black mire, in the depths of which every vestige of the old Roman pavement (if there ever was one) has entirely disappeared.
Have these ruins along the shore no name? To judge from the extent of ground covered with foundations, fragments of Roman brick-work, tesselated pavements, and general rubbish, there must have been a large city here.
They probably mark the site of the ancient Ornithon, though this is not certain. They now have no other name but that of ’Adlûn. We shall pass many other sites, for the entire coast was once a continuous village, like the Bosphorus above Constantinople, and this renders the present utter desertion of the coast the more remarkable. From Sidon to Tyre there is not a single hamlet on the shore, and these plains are all cultivated by people who reside on the mountains. Have the inhabitants retreated to the hills to enjoy a cooler climate, or for the sake of protection from bands of lawless soldiers passing up and down the coast ?
As far back as the time of Thucydides at least, the people in many parts of the Mediterranean were accustomed to build their towns at a considerable distance from the shore, and in strong positions, to escape the visits of pirates who then infested the sea. Any city exposed to these lawless attacks, and unable to defend itself, must of course be abandoned so long as this liability continues; but as soon as the sea is cleared of pirates, the inhabitants return and rebuild, except where some cause more permanent leads to final desertion. Such causes have long since reduced Cæsarea, Askelon, and other important places to utter and hopeless desolation. I
suppose the main reason for the total desertion of this particular coast is to be found in an entire change of ployment. The Phoenicians were mariners, and hence, wherever there was a sandy beach upon which to draw up their small craft, or a sheltered cove where they could ride at anchor, there a village sprang up and flourished. Now there are no mariners; not a boat is owned by any of these peasants; they are exclusively given to agriculture, and have no occasion to dwell near the shore. Of course it is better for them to reside on the hills, as you see they do, in those prettily-posted villages on the mountain side. That white dome south of ’Adlûn covers the tomb of a saint called Zare. A weather-beaten, surly sheikh of the village told me that Zare was the grandson of Joshua (on whom be peace). As such, I am willing to leave him in unquestioned possession of his sepulchre and pedigree, honored as a great saint by these semi-savage Metāwelies. It is decided ly interesting, however, to hear these austere disciples of ’Ali, as ignorant of history as the oxen they are punching along with their goads, repeat these venerable Bible names as familiar “household words.”
We must take care how we cross this Abu el Aswad, for there are quicksands at its mouth. My horse once sank to his belly, and plunged desperately before he brought me
TENTS OF KEDAR-GAZELLES.
to the other side. Here is a safe ford, however. Above us you see that noble arch of a Roman bridge. It is quite perfect, but the embankment on either side has long since been washed away, so that it is useless. From this on, much of the plain is impracticable marsh in winter. In the centre of it are large springs, which were once surrounded by masonry like those at Ras el 'Ain, near Tyre, and for the same purpose. The work is now broken, and, indeed, most of the plain is overgrown with thorns and abandoned to Arabs. A group of their tents spreads along the base of the hills on our left.
If those of Kedar were no more attractive than these of Abu el Aswad, the Bride in the “Song of Songs” has fallen upon a very lame comparison for her charms.
Ay; but observe, it is she that is black, not the tents of Kedar, perhaps; not the curtains of Solomon, certainly. These may have been extremely beautiful. But even black tents, when new, and pitched among bushes of liveliest green, have a very “comely" appearance, especially when both are bathed in a flood of evening's golden light. And here we have started up, and sent leaping over the plain, another of Solomon's favorites. What elegant creatures those gazelles are, and how gracefully they bound! My beloved is like a roe or young hart; behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. These lovely harts are very timid, and descend at night to the plains to feed among the lilies until the day break and the shadows flee away. This is alluded to in the charge to the daughters of Jerusalem, By the roes and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up nor awake my love till he please.* We shall meet these graceful gazelles all through Syria and Palestine, and the more you see of them the greater will be your admiration. Solomon is not alone in his partiality. Persian and Arab poets abound in references to them. The fair ones of these fervid sons of song are often compared to the coy gazelle that comes by night and pastures upon their hearts. These "cruel gazelles, with graceful gait and liquid
1 Song i. 5. 2 Song ii. 8, 9. 3 Song ii. 17. 4 Song iii. 5.