« AnteriorContinuar »
which the Psalmist alludes: "Let them be as the grass upon the house tops, which withereth before it groweth up." The mountain soil, a most rich and tempting one to a botanist, is covered with a great quantity and variety of fragrant herbs: at sun-set, when the dew is falling, the air is loaded with their odour; to which there is an allusion in the Canticles: "A fountain of gardens from Lebanon: awake, O north wind, and come, thou south, that the spices may flow out: the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon."
Eden has also a recent source of interest, in the burial-place of the consul of Beirout, Mr. Abbott, who died about a year since, and whose roof was the hospitable asylum of the traveller. He was the intimate friend of the writer, who spent two months in the vicinity, chiefly in his society: having dwelt much in early life in Constantinople, he was familiar with the manners, and several of the languages, of the East: an agreeable and lively companion, his tales and recollections cheered many a dreary hour during the rainy season, and many a Syrian walk when the weather was again lovely. To this village and its vicinity he was more attached than to any other part of Lebanon, and often spoke of its retirement and its many attractions: and on a tour in the mountain he was seized with a fatal illness at the house of the Sheich. It was not a little singular, that he should breathe his last, and be destined to find his grave in this lone and magnificent scene. There were monasteries near, two or three of them goodly buildings, in whose cemeteries he might perhaps have reposed, by the side of the bishops and ecclesiastics of past centuries, with a more solemn train, a more imposing ceremony around his ashes. His companions were few, and they deemed as well that he should be laid in a solitary spot, at a short distance from the village; the procession was impressive, from its simple and primeval character: the costume of the mountaineers, their sympathy, the gravity of their features; the wild wail or burst of sorrow, is unusual in their interments. It was the first time that a traveller had perished in the hospitable home of the Sheich, whose fine castle is a delightful place of rest and hospitality; the old man was much moved at the event The spot commanded a sublime view of the snowy Lebanon: the funeral was attended by the Sheich of Eden, and all the villagers; there was no burial-place here, not even of the rudest kind: they buried him beneath some ancient olive-trees: the grave was dug by the kind hands of the primitive people of the village. The ceremony was rendered more sad and affecting by the circumstance, that Dr. W—, his physician, and Mr. C—, his son-in-law, were obliged, at the close, to build a pile of stones above the grave, to protect it from the attacks of the jackals and other animals.
A scene in Lebanon, not very dissimilar, is described by a missionary; "At Ainep, where we again halted before noon to refresh ourselves, there was a great mourning. About thirty Sheichs sat assembled in a wide circle, and thence proceeded up the hill, to assist in burying some great man, one of the Druses. One of the company, a most venerable figure, with a snowy beard, stood up for some minutes, and harangued the assembly with apparently much dignified emotion. He seemed to me the very picture of Abraham communing with the children of Heth. Though the greater part of these Sheichs consisted of Druses, known by their broad-striped dress, yet there were many Christians who joined in the funeral procession. The house of mourning seems, in every country, to be in some measure consecrated to the spirit of amity: there, religious antipathies are at least suspended, if not extinguished; and persons, who would not have thought of meeting in the same church, willingly assemble around the same grave."
The stranger seeks in vain for any impressive remains of the ancient magnificence of Tarsus: the modern town does not occupy a fourth part of the area of the Roman city, although it bears a respectable rank in the Turkish dominions in Asia Minor;—it is an ill-built, straggling, and comfortless-looking place: the houses seldom exceed one story in height, part are of wood, and part of hewn stone, furnished by the more ancient edifices: there are two or three well-built mosques, and caravansaries, and bazaars. A good coffee-house does not exist here. In the evening the foreign merchants, &c. who lodge in the Khans, sometimes assemble in the narrow alley at its gate, which is transformed into a dim and cool coffee-room, with no covering save the sky, or lamps save the stars. Two consuls, one for the English, and the other for the French and Austrian nations, have recently been appointed, and their residences are the only resource of the traveller: the commercial importance of the place is expected to increase: the trade of its merchants is principally with Cyprus and the Syrian coast: imperial ships arrive there from time to time, to load grain: the land trade is of little consequence, as the caravans from Smyrna arrive very seldom. The houses have all flat roofs, on which, in warm weather, the inhabitants are accustomed to sleep under awnings: there are several lofty minarets, which can be seen at a great distance over the plain, as they rise with a fine effect above the gardens and the walls: at the north-west extremity of the town, there are the remains of an old Roman gateway, almost entire: most of the monuments of antiquity have been destroyed, or converted into modern buildings, save a theatre, which lies near the river, buried in rubbish and bushes. The population amounts to about 30,000 souls; among these there are 200 Armenian and 100 Greek families; the rest are mostly Turks, &c. In passing through the streets of Tarsus, tenanted by an uncivil and insolent population—the memory flies to the infancy of the gospel, when Paul, yet a youth, dwelt here: amidst those groves, on the banks of that river—how often he wandered! After his conversion, and when he had testified to the truth in Damascus and Jerusalem, he returned for a while to Tarsus; but it is not said whether he was received there with honour, or that he ministered of the gospel to his countrymen: assuredly he could not have held his peace in the scenes of his early life, among his relatives and associates: after "Barnabas came to Tarsus to seek him, and