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I looked on the house of the mighty with sorrow:
High o'er the earth to-day they soar, Mocking the sun;—alas! to-morrow Their place rememb'reth them no more!Soft is his bed, and to watching a stranger, Who far from life's tempestuous wave, Timely advised hath retired from danger In the deep cloister's silent cave;Who the proud thoughts that excite but to grieve us, Hath with proud fortitude repressed; And the vain wishes that ever deceive us, In his calm bosom lull'd to rest Sometimes travellers, provided with good tents, have preferred, in this Lebanon journey, to lodge beneath them rather than enter the houses of the villagers; but the fireside and the mountain welcome of the peasant and of the farmer is surely a more comfortable refuge. The people are generally in comfortable, often in independent circumstances; the houses are built of mud, and contain frequently several apartments; the roofs are always flat and covered with earth, where grass and wild-flowers grow; the snow would in winter break through or injure these roofs, did not the inhabitants take care every morning to remove the snow that may have fallen during the night. The cottages and scattered hamlets embowered in mulberry groves, or shaded with clusters of vines and fig-trees, look very picturesque on the mountain-side. The brilliant sunshine, that gives an air of cheerfulness to the crag, the ravine, and waste, gives joy and splendour to these luxuriant dells, the homes of vegetation, industry, and carefulness. In some of the superior villages the men wear clean white turbans, and the women blue veils; their manners are respectful, sometimes polite. One of these Syrians, who was in good circumstances, invited us with two or three friends to a banquet We would have declined the invitation, being aware that he would put himself to no small trouble and expense for the occasion; but he insisted, till we feared a further refusal might give offence. Several days were employed in preparations; game was procured, and fish from the coast, and a few choice wines of Lebanon, with various fruits; even pastry, that the Orientals manage so poorly, was perpetrated. But however delightful and welcome may appear the house of the scheich at the close of a weary day, when the homeless man is placed in the seat of honour, while the fire blazes, the winds are wild without, and the night is gathering fast, it is a very different thing to leave a luxurious home in Beirout for a Syrian roof and entertainment. As we had anticipated, so it happened—the fare was profuse and various enough for a little multitude, but badly dressed and strangely served. There was the rushing to and fro of numerous attendants, who came and went from the confined apartment like the gathering of the troops at Lebanon. The roof was low, the windows small, the day was sultry, and the steam of the mountain dishes was at times like the passing of a thin cloud.
The host was not in his element at the head of his table on this occasion, the first of his feasting European gentlemen; his hurried orders to the servants were sometimes laughably misconstrued, and often he did not understand them himself. Several of his friends were present, with whom it was almost impracticable to hold any conversation; and when the repast was over, there was no music, no story-teller shewed his head in the apartment, to enliven the company by his wild legends or inventions. A very amusing incident, however, occurred: among the guests was a Maronite monk, an acquaintance of the host; he spoke little during dinner, and seemed to be a quiet and respectable man. During the dessert, a Greek monk, wandering, probably by chance, near the spot, entered the court-yard, and drew near the windows, allured, it might be, by the savoury smells, or on some trifling business with some one within. The Maronite no sooner set eyes on him, than he uttered an exclamation of dislike, and rose from the table to bid him begone; the countenance of the Greek was inflamed with passion at the words and demeanour of the Maronite, who, he saw, had been feeding sumptuously; his eyes being full of gaiety and insolence, for he had drank plentifully, whereas the Greek intruder was fasting. A fierce wrangling and altercation ensued; their voices rose high above all those within; abuse of each other, and of each other's Order, was not spared; and they were about to come to blows, which would have been a strange spectacle, when the servants separated them, and persuaded the Greek to retire. The void that falls on the mind of the guest at an Oriental entertainment is tremendous; there is no appeal to the fancy or to the senses, save the murmur of trees, or the fall of the fountain, or the odours of the pipe; the sounds of the tambour, of the Syrian or Turkish pipe, soon weary the ear, as the movements of the dancing-girls do the eye. There is no female society, and the Oriental is generally an awful tcte-a-tete companion. What subjects can he have in common with his guest? he cannot talk on books, arts, or sciences; he will not talk about his faith or his love. On politics he will converse, but he is grossly ignorant of Europe, of the position, climate, and manners of its countries, so that his farewell salutation of peace and of blessing is, when it comes, most welcome to his guest . j
Ascending on the right of the Damour toward the summit of the pass, to go to Beirout, is a beautiful wood of fir-trees: the whole scenery is enchanting on this route from Beirout to Der-el-Kamar, and its Emir's palace at Beteddein. Among the convents in the vicinity of this scene, and at about two hours' distance from it, is the convent of Mar-Hanna, celebrated for its printing establishment, the history of which is singular and interesting. It is about a hundred years old, and Volney speaks of it as the only one that had succeeded in the Turkish empire. "It was," he says, "in the beginning of the eighteenth century that the Jesuits began to discover in their establishment at Aleppo the zeal for education which they had carried with them every where. For this, as well as other objects, it was necessary to initiate themselves in the knowledge of Arabic. The pride of the Mussulmen doctors at first refused to lay open their learning to the Infidels, but a few purses overpowered their scruples. The Christian student who distinguished himself most by his progress was named Abd-Allah-Taker, who, to his own love of learning, added an ardent zeal to promulgate his knowledge and his opinions. It was not long ere his enemies endeavoured to procure his ruin at Constantinople. A kat-shereeff, or warrant of the Sultan, was procured, which contained an order to cut off Abd-Allah's head. Fortunately, he had received timely warning, and escaped into Lebanon, where his life was in safety. His zeal, inflamed by persecution, was now more fervent than ever. It could find vent only by writings, and manuscripts seemed to him an inadequate method. He was no stranger to the advantages of the press, and had the courage to form the threefold project of writing, founding types, and printing; he succeeded in this enterprise, from the natural goodness of his understanding, and the knowledge he had of the art of engraving, which he had already practised in his profession as a jeweller. He stood in need of an associate, and was lucky enough to find one who entered into his designs. His brother, who was the superior at Mar-Hanna, prevailed on him to make that convent his residence, and, from that time abandoning every other care, he gave himself up entirely to the execution of his project . His zeal and industry were so successful, that in the year 1733 he published the Psalms of David in one volume. His characters were found so correct and beautiful, that even his enemies purchased his book, and since that period there have been ten impressions of it. New characters have been founded, but nothing has been executed superior to his. They perfectly imitate hand-writing: they express the full and the fine letters, and have not the meagre and straggling appearance of the Arabic characters of Europe. He passed twenty years in this manner, printing different works, which, in general, were translations of our books of devotion. Not that he was acquainted with any of the European languages, but the Jesuits had already translated several books, and, as their Arabic was extremely bad, he corrected their translations, and often substituted his own version, which is a model of purity and elegance. The Arabic he wrote was remarkable for a clear, precise, and harmonious style, of which that language had been thought incapable, and which proves, that should it ever be cultivated by a learned people, it will become one of the most copious and expressive in the world. After the death of AbdAllah, which happened about 1755, he was succeeded by his pupil, whose successors were the monks of the convent: they have continued to found letters, and to print; but the business is at present on the decline, and seems likely to be soon entirely laid aside. The books have but little sale, except the Psalter, which is the classic of the Christian children, and for which there is a continual demand. The expenses are considerable, as the paper comes from Europe, and the labour is very slow. A little art would remedy the first inconvenience, but the latter is radical—the Arabic characters, requiring to be connected together to join them well and place them in a right line, require an immense and minute attention. Among the publications that issued from this press, were the Psalms of David translated from the Greek, the Prophets, the Gospels, and the Epistles; an Explanation of the Seven Penitential Psalms; and a Contemplation for the Holy Week." Since the above was written, the circulation of the Scriptures, and of devotional tracts, has been earnestly attempted from the London press, whose execution is more rapid and simple than that of Abd-Allah. Portions of the Gospels and the Epistles, translated into Arabic, have been circulated in Mount Lebanon, in the villages and hamlets, and lonely cottages. From the difficulty and opposition encountered by the agents of this work, an idea may be formed of the obstacles with which Abd-Allah had to struggle. The monks of this convent of Mar-Hanna, who are Greek Catholics, receive strangers very kindly, and readily sell their books to them, and shew them their Arabic printing apparatus. They have only one press, consequently the book proceeds but slowly. On the numerous saints' days of their calendar they do not work, so that the average number of volumes which they may issue in the course of the year may amount, they said, to one hundred and eighty: of these, the greater part are Psalters. Seven persons are employed at the press; the books are bound in the convent, which about ten years since contained thirty-five individuals, of whom eight only were monks, the remainder being laics and servants. All the profits resulting from the printing establishment go to the patriarch of the Greek Catholics, who resides at Zouk, and he employs the money in the service of his flock. The rule of their order is that of St. Basil, who is to the Oriental Christians what St. Benedict is to the Latins, only they have introduced certain modifications which have been sanctioned by the court of Rome. Every day they spend seven hours in prayers at church; they live on meagre diet, and hardly allow themselves animal food in the most critical disorders. Like the other Greeks, they have three Lents a year, and a multitude of fasts, during which they neither eat eggs, milk, butter, nor even cheese. Almost the whole year they live on lentils and beans, with oil, rice, and butter, curds, olives, and a little salt fish. Their bread is a little coarse loaf, badly leavened, which serves two days, and is fresh made only once a week. The lodging of each is a narrow cell, and his whole furniture consists of a mat, or mattress, and a blanket, but no sheets, for of these they have no need, as they sleep with their clothes on. Their clothing is a coarse cotton shirt, striped with blue, a pair of drawers, a waistcoat, and a surplice of coarse brown cloth, so stiff and thick that it will stand upright without a fold. Every one of them, except the superior, the purveyor, and the vicar, exercises some trade, either necessary or useful to the house: one is a weaver, and weaves the stuffs; another is a tailor, and makes their clothes; a third a shoemaker, and makes their shoes; a fourth a mason, and superintends their buildings. Two of them have the management of the kitchen, four work at the printing-press, four are employed in book-binding, and all assist at the bakehouse on the day of making bread. The expense of maintaining forty or five-andforty persons, of which the convent is composed, does not exceed the annual sum of twelve purses, or six hundred and twenty-five pounds; and from this must be deducted the expenses of their hospitality to all passengers, which of itself forms a considerable article. It is true, most of these passengers leave presents or alms, which make a part of the revenue of the house; the other part arises from the culture of the lands. They farm a considerable extent of ground, for which they pay four hundred piastres, £15, to two Emirs: these lands were cleared out by the first monks themselves, but at present they commit the culture of them to peasants, who pay them one half of all the