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ACRE-ITS HISTORY.

477

When not confined to the house by rain, I have been searching round the ruins of this famous fortress, and looking into its singular history. I find very few notices of it in the Bible. In Judges i. 31 it is said that Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Accho, which not only ascertains the fact of its existence at that early age, but also that it belonged to Asher, and was too strong to be subdued by that tribe. It is often mentioned in the apocryphal books under the name of Ptolemais, given to it by Ptolemy Soter; and in Acts xxi. 7 we read that Paul visited it on his

way from Tyre to Cæsarea. These are all the Biblical notices I could find.

And they include the whole; but a place so celebrated in general history is worthy of study for its own sake, as well as for the rank it so long held as the chief city on this coast. But it would take a volume to trace out its manifold vicissitudes and various fortunes, a work we must leave to historians and antiquarians.

That extraordinary young man, Hadrian Reland, has culled out of ancient authors nearly every thing that has come down to our time about Acre, and you will find it in his Palestina Illustrata. Perhaps the best modern compend of her history is that of Dr. Kitto, in his Biblical Cyclopedia. The article on Acre seems to have been written by himself, and, notwithstanding the care and research bestowed upon it, he has fallen into some singular blunders. He says that the mountains of AntiLebanon are seen at the distance of about four leagues to the north! North of Acre there is nothing but the sea, and no part of Anti-Lebanon can be seen from it, and if it could, it would be ten leagues instead of four. The Bay of Acre is about three leagues wide, as he says; but "two leagues in depth" is a very equivocal expression. If he means to measure from the extreme northwestern point of the base of Carmel to the mouth of the Kishon, it may be four miles, but at Acre the distance inward is not two. Dr. Kitto is also mistaken in supposing that the vaults mentioned by Mr. Now were "designed to afford cool underground retreats to the inhabitants during the heat of the day in summer." No such practice is known on this coast. The heat does not require it, and the climate is so moist that even upper rooms, if not constantly ventilated, become quickly covered with mould, and are unfit to live in. It is true that at Bagdat, Mosul, and other places along the valley of the Tigris, the houses are constructed with a sort of cellars called surdab, to which the inhabitants retreat during the day; but then the air is extremely dry there, and the thermometer ranges thirty degrees higher than on this coast. In this country, however, castles, and nearly all sorts of buildings, are erected on large vaults, and these lower apartments in dwelling-houses are used for winter, not for summer.

As soon as the heat begins, the family reopen the upper story, which has been partially deserted during the cold months. Such speculations as the above mislead, and should be corrected; they are in flat contradiction to facts.

Jeremiah speaks of a winter house in which Jehoiakim sat in the ninth month, with a fire before him on the hearth; and Amos mentions both winter and summer houses. Such language is easily understood by an Oriental. In common parlance, the lower apartments are simply el beit—the house; the upper is the ullâyeh, which is the summer house. Every respectable dwelling has both, and they are familiarly called beît shetawy and beît seîfy--winter and summer house. If these are on the same story, then the external and airy apartment is the summer house, and that for winter is the interior and more sheltered room. It is rare to meet a family that has an entirely separate dwelling for summer. King Jehoiakim was therefore sitting in one of the inner apartments of his palace, I suppose, when he cut up Jeremiah's prophetic roll with his penknife, and cast it into the fire. A host of travelers have spoken of Acre, and such works

the Crusades as Michaud's six volumes of rather fused annals enter largely into her fortunes during the Middle Ages. It was the last point surrendered by the Knights of St. John, from whom it took the name of St. Jean d'Acre. They gave it up to the Sultan of Egypt in A.D. 1291, and Jer. xxxvi. 22.

: Amos iii. 15.

ACRE-HISTORY-FORTIFICATIONS.

479

thus ended the anomalous and wonderful kingdom of the Franks in Palestine. During my time it was besieged for six months by Ibrahim Pasha, and when I visited it soon after he had taken it, the whole place was a mass of ruins. But he immediately set about repairing and fortifying it, and continued this work during the whole time he held possession of Syria. It was blown to pieces by the British fleet on November 3d, 1840, and again have the walls and castles been repaired with great industry, and are now stronger, perhaps, than ever. But much of the interior is in ruins, and will probably remain so, at least until a change of dynasty brings in better times.

I have been round the fortifications, and estimate their circuit at about two and a half miles. They seem to me to be skillfully planned, and very substantial; but as any number of ships can bring their cannon to bear upon it, the guns on the walls can be silenced at once by overwhelming odds. This was done by Stopford and Napier in 1840. The number of pieces of all sorts is nearly 400, but most of them are of a very inferior character, and the carriages are old and rickety. They would be of very little service in actual combat. On a very large bronze cannon, commanding the harbor, is this somewhat satirical motto: “Ultima ratio regum." Alas! when they begin their last argument," angels weep, Death on his pale horse goes forth to slay, and hell follows after to devour. The fortifications on the land side are almost concealed by admirably-constructed glacis without and beyond the deep ditch which runs round the wall. The piercings for cannon are so placed as to sweep every approach; and if Ibrahim Pasha had been permitted to complete the fosse, by which he intended to make Acre an island, by joining the sea from the northwest of the city to the bay at the southeast of it, the defenses would have been nearly impregnable. The distance across is small, as the sea comes round the northwest corner for a considerable part of the way. In fact, Acre has the bay on the southeast and south, and the sea on the west and northwest; a position well adapted for a strong fort, which has always been its distinguishing characteristic, and is so now. It has no source of life or prosperity but what is dependent on its military occupation, and its manners and municipal regulations are governed by the rigid laws of war. There is but one gate on the land side, skillfully placed at the water's edge on the southeast angle, and strongly defended. A sea gate leads to the shipping in the harbor, and both are shut at sunset. To one coming toward Acre across the plain, its surface seems considerably elevated above the general level, and the appearance is rather imposing. This elevation is owing to the accumulation of rubbish during its long life of wars, desolations, and reconstructions. The modern city, with all its works, stands on the ruins of many generations.

At the summer palace of Abdallah Pasha, called el Behajeh, are some gardens and olive groves. A few palms and other trees are seen at Tell el Fakhar, a short distance southeast of the gate, and some fruit orchards and vegetable gardens are cultivated along the low banks of the Naamany. Otherwise the surroundings of Acre are very naked and uninteresting. It was not always so, even in modern times, if we are to believe the travelers who have spoken of it. Three things act together to keep down Acre: its military character, the unhealthiness of the climate, and the shallowness and insecurity of the harbor. Khaifa is, to a great degree, free from these drawbacks, and will probably lead away nearly all the trade from Acre. Indeed, it has done this already, and the merchants who reside in Acre are obliged to have their houses for business in Khaifa.

In the distribution of the land made by Joshua, Acre was given to Asher. Can you draw the boundary of this tribe with any degree of certainty?

Not at all. It had Carmel, which seems to have belonged, in part at least, to Zebulon, on the south, Naphtali on the east, and the sea-board on the west. But we must leave a large uncertain margin between what we know belonged to Naphtali, and what was certainly the territory of Asher. And so also Asher and Zebulon met in the valley of

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