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ST. JEAN D'ACRE.—MOUNT CARMEL IN THE DISTANCE.
The strength of this hitherto impregnable fortress is broken: the walls, which swept round the plain, enclosing the town as within iron ramparts, were shattered in the late siege by Ibrahim Pacha, after a desperate defence of six months. The whole town, which once looked so neat, well-built, and prosperous, has now an air of ruin; even the noble mosque built by Djezzar Pacha is undergoing repair, from damages sustained during the siege: it is in the centre of the plate, towering above all the other buildings, a monument of the liberality and devoutness of the ferocious Djezzar, who perhaps raised it as a kind of compensation for his many atrocities. Repentance or contrition were feelings he never knew: he would have met the king of terrors, had it been possible, with a cruel menace or device. The sycamore and the palm shadow the area of this beautiful mosque, and a fine fountain murmurs there: here the tyrant, when evening had brought the dim religious light the Turks love, used to come and pray beneath the corridors and the dome his own hand had raised, and look forward, no doubt, to heaven hereafter, when his old age of blood and crime should be ended. The phantoms of the thousands he had butchered in cold blood, treacherously, often smilingly, in the dungeon, by the hatchet or the wave, never rose to his fancy or his conscience, to cloud his devotions or disturb his hopes. Had even the beings he had maimed, of the wealthy, the noble, as well as the poor and helpless—whose noses, ears, lips, he had lopped, and took not as yet the life—risen up like swift and mangled witnesses against him, on the shore of the dark river,—he would have sternly elbowed his way to the regions of bliss. And Djezzar, in the mosque, was remarkably devout; said his prayers with a loud and fervent voice, and went through all the genuflexions, and bobbings, and prostrations, with a zeal equal to that of a Santon. He died in his bed calmly, unconcernedly, unrepentingly, at near eighty years of age: "there were no bands in his death; his heart was firm within him." The writer was told by Sir Sydney Smith, that when seated one evening with Djezzar in his divan, the latter, displeased at some recent occurrence, menaced the admiral, and hinted how easy it was to imprison or even put him to death, if he chose but to give the word. "It is very true, Djezzar Pacha," he replied, "and very easy to fulfil your words: but look at that ship," pointing to his flag-ship in the harbour; "before the sun shall set, Acre would be a heap of ashes."
The bazaar to the left of the court of the mosque is new: the broken walls in the foreground are those of the Castle, which were devastated; the vessels in the harbour, near the tower, are the djerms or light barks of the country. Mount Carmel is opposite, descending into the sea; on its top is a monastery, and at its foot the small town of Caipha. The form of Carmel is accurately given: its verdure, its woods, and varieties of surface, are not visible at this distance.
In Acre many wealthy and respectable families resided, for it was the capital of the pachalic; and the fine and wide plain without the walls was often gay with the exercises of the troops and the presence of the pacha. While resident here, the writer sometimes visited a Jewish family, whose interior exhibited a picture of the troubled state of the times, and the uncertainty of property. The head of the family was a merchant, in whose house two pilgrims of his people had lodged a few years before, a father and mother, who had an only daughter, whom they betrothed on the spot to their host, seeing that he was prosperous, a merchant, young, and possessor of a good house. The Jewish maiden brought a pretty face and figure, and a tolerable portion, to her husband, who had never seen her till she was brought from her distant home to his house, as a bride. The match did not seem to be a happy one: the wife spoke with fervour of her home, of its tranquillity, and many attractions; its woods and flowers, friends and security. The contrast was bitter, such as only domestic affection could reconcile, and this she felt not: the sea washed the walls of her dwelling at Acre; there was no garden: fear was on every side, for the pacha had already hinted his suspicion that her husband was rich; and where he scented plunder, he soon, as the Persian says, "put the footstep of desire into the stirrup of accomplishment" The anxious merchant thought of leaving the town, to avoid the dreaded exactions, and asked our advice where he should emigrate. Reluctant to fly from the scene of his industry, his house, &c, his fancy harassed him by often painting the pacha's avarice, the pacha's wrath, in hideous colours: one or two rich men of his nation had already fallen victims, and his turn might soon follow. Yet, Israelite as he was, he could not bear the idea of a retreat to a mountain village, and its peace and solitude, to a town or fastness on Lebanon—if it did not possess the means of traffic, the delicious opportunities of gain. The uncertainty of resolve and anxiety of mind, which he every day experienced, was distressing: at every rumour of fresh cruelty and extortion he turned pale, and fancied the bastinado at his feet, or the bowstring at his neck: he could have fled alone and safely, and he knew that his wife and dwelling would not be assailed; but jealousy would not allow him to leave a young and pretty woman—fearing more from his friends than his enemies. He knew that he did not possess her affections, and that she dwelt with more heart-sickness and love on her native home, her early attachments, than on his welfare or enjoyment: indeed, if the angel of death should actually overtake him, and his head be asked for at the palace, it was doubtful if the wail of the handsome Jewess would have been as one that refused all consolation. He passed most of his time within doors, that he might attract as little notice as possible: the ships of various nations sailing out of the harbour were finely seen fro n his windows and gallery, to which they sometimes passed near, and he earnestly wished, many a time, to be on board one of them, embarked for France or England, his wife, his child, and monies, all on board, and Acre left for ever: at last he decided to depart, as secretly as possible, to the former country; but whether he put his design in execution, or what was his fate, we knew not, as we left the town for the interior soon afterwards.