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age and decay, while the occasional violence of the winds probably contributed to their falL "The oldest trees," observes Burckhardt, "are distinguished by having the foliage and small branches at the top only, and by four, five, and even seven trunks springing from one base. The branches and foliage of the others were lower, but I saw none whose leaves touched the ground, like those in Kew Gardens." The trunks of the old trees are covered with the names of travellers, and other persons who have visited them. The trunks of the oldest trees seemed to be quite dead; the wood is of a grey tint The enormous tree to the left is the one that Maundrell says he measured, and found it twelve yards six inches in girth, and thirty-seven yards in the spread of its boughs: at above five or six yards from the ground, it was divided into five limbs, each of which was equal to a great tree. They are difficult of approach, and are surrounded with deep snow, which is not passable until the middle of summer, when it begins to melt away: the ground on which they stand is uneven, being covered with rock and stone, with a partial but luxuriant vegetation springing up in the interstices: their position, on the brow of the mountain, surrounded on every side by deep and solemn valleys, rocky and almost perpendicular descents, waterfalls and dreary dells, — has something sacred and awful in it: they seem as if placed in their splendid and perilous site, like centinels between time and eternity—the sad and deathless memorials of the days of the first temple, when God dwelt among his people, in the visible glory between the cherubim, and in the blessings of earth and heaven, the proofs of his love. All else has perished: the temple, the city, the generations of men "like the sands of the sea-shore for multitude;" thrones, religions, principalities, and powers, have passed like the winds that howl through these branches: and the cedars have stood on their mountain brow, immortal! no voice has yet gone forth to hew them down utterly: the voice of time is hushed on this cloud-like brow; how often have they heard the rushing of his wings, "going forth utterly to destroy," and have put forth their leaves and their glorious branches with each season, fresh and strong as in the days of their youth.
To the fancy of the spectator, seated on the grey rock by their side, there is something mysterious yet beautiful, in the murmur of the wind through their recesses, like the wild tones of a harp, said to be touched by the hand of the distant dead, whose spirit is passing by: the hearer knows that he shall never listen to that sound again, in which there seems to be the voice of eternity. The tree near Jerusalem, a venerable sycamore, beneath whose branches the prophet Isaiah was slain, — the aged olives of the valley of Jehoshaphat, do not come on the memory or fancy like these cedars of Lebanon,—whose image is blended with the earliest pictures of our childhood,—with the ceiling, the walls, the pure gold, and all the glory and history of the first temple of the true God. Shall they live till that temple be again rebuilt, and the restored race of Israel again worship there? Perhaps, before they die, Palestine shall resound with the praises of the Lord, and the name of the Redeemer shall be borne even to their mountain brow, from the lips of those who now despise Him. Then, and not till then, had they a voice, they might say, as of old, "Now, let us depart in peace:" we have seen the first dispensation, the second also has been fulfilled, and we have waited on rarth till the third and last manifestation to our lost land: it is time to depart Of their past as well as present appearance, the words of Ezekiel are beautifully descriptive: "The fir-trees were not like his boughs, and the chestnut-trees were not like his branches, nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty: they all envied him: the cedar, with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature, and his top was among the thick boughs: under his shadow dwelt the people." The voice of prophecy has perhaps often been heard amidst the shades of these sacred trees: their name, and the images they suggested, often mingled in the strains of inspiration. Is there any object in nature more dear to the poet; whether in the tempest they swung their aged arms to the sky, or the Maronite hymn rose sweetly from multitudes kneeling around. The groves of all other lands, even the most ancient, the palm forests that were the pride of Egypt, the noble oak and fir-trees of Ephraim and CarmeL—the curse withered them, or with the changing seasons they passed away: when the cedars also die, all these, in the words of sacred writ, each famous forest in the old and new world, shall say, "Art thou become like unto us, cut down to the ground: art thou also become weak as we?"
The small Arab tribe, some of whom are represented in the plate, come to live here when the snows are melted, in the beginning of July, and continue during the hot months: it is, to a simple and primeval people, a favourite and lovely residence, enjoying an air that bears health on its wings, so pure and inspiring, from its very elevated site, and entire freedom from the heats that often prevail in the vallies and lower declivities. The Arabs pitch their tents in the forest, in a sort of half savage life, yet free from its perils and habits: the stranger finds a friendly welcome to their rude homes: they pass very many hours in the heat of day beneath the branches of the cedars, conversing, smoking, or seated indolently,—some of the mothers swinging their children by a cord hung to one of the sacred branches, as if some virtue were thence derivable, or healing quality to some bodily disease. Perhaps the men, from a superstitious feeling, find a peculiar pleasure, unknown elsewhere, in smoking their long pipe, seated on a fallen branch or trunk: it must be confessed, that their attitude and looks, in this loved reverie and indulgence, however in keeping with Orientalism, are somewhat at variance with the more refined and enthusiastic reverie of the stranger, who would rather be alone in such a spot, than exposed to the fixed and curious gaze of some young Arab mother, or the voice of her child.