Imágenes de páginas


The palace of the Emir Beshir, the sovereign of Lebanon, is a very costly edifice: it consists of a large quadrangle, on one side of which are the apartments of the Emir and his harem; two other sides contain the apartments of his officers and people, and the fourth is open towards the valley and the town of Deir el Kamar, and also commands a distant view of the sea. The best apartments are furnished with glass windows; terraced gardens are wrested from the rugged soil, and water brought from the hills into the quadrangle at a considerable expense, from a distance of nearly twenty miles. A winding path over low stone steps leads to the unassailable fortress of this mountain prince, whose summons can in a few days call all Lebanon to arms. The Emir may walk on the walls of his eagle palace, and say with him of old, "Is not this the proud home I have built, on the brink of the everlasting mountains 7* To these wild walls of power and luxury, there come natives of Egypt, Abyssinia, Italy, and France, Druses, Mahometans, and Syrian Christians; the bold mountaineer, armed to the teeth, mingled with the thoughtful scribe or literateur, the latter sometimes retired apart, beneath a rock or a tree, writing verses in praise of the prince, or on the strange vicissitudes of his fortunes. The physician of the palace, a clever and agreeable Frenchman, is probably still resident here, and, like his countryman, M. Chaboiceau of Damascus, resolved to end his days in a country that has patronised him so liberally. The French are very successful as medical men in the East, by a facility and even eagerness in adapting themselves to the tastes and usages of the people; sorrowing not for their own country, though always boasting of it; with a conscience untroubled about the variety of faiths, the same smile of good nature and scepticism is given to the mysteries of the Druse, the reveries of the Dervish, and the genuflexions of the Turk. There is a small Christian church near the palace: on the mountain, the Emir is a Christian; in Acre, when he visits the Pasha, and in the towns on the coast, he is a believer in the Prophet He is now seventy years of age, of a patriarchal appearance, and long white beard: on his features, usually mild and calm, late misfortunes have fixed a more stern expression: he has lived to see the Pachalic of Acre wrested by the Porte from his friend and ally Abdallah, and now, returned like the old eagle to his airy home, he looks abroad on the storms of fate, on the downfall of the Sultan, and the successes of Ibrahim, and believes that he shall die at last in his castle, in peace: perhaps Ibrahim, should his allegiance falter, may decree him a more speedy end. In his harem were several handsome women, who accompanied

« AnteriorContinuar »