« AnteriorContinuar »
plantations, wrested from the rocks, the flock grazing by the side of the stream, pigeons and fowls covering the terraced roofs of the houses, amidst which arise the cypress, the fig, the pine, and the mulberry tree; well-dressed women and children, the pictures of robust health—and a kind welcome will greet his coming. There is something hushed, solemn, and gloomy in this dell; but there is so much cheerfulness and hospitality within the dwellings, and in the manners and looks of the people, that we begin to love the place the more on account of this contrast . The village itself stands on the edge of a deep ravine, yawning to the right, which descends towards the convent of Canobin; it has a sheltered look, in spite of the cliffs above and the cliffs beneath: the trees gather thickly about it, and there are miniature corn-fields close to the very walls: the small church is seen on the brink of the precipice. The descent from above to Besherrai is by footsteps cut in the rock, and then by a path winding along its ledges: in some parts, this passage is very difficult; in winter, it is said, people sometimes perish here. When the snows cover this dell and its flat-roofed houses, and hang on its abysses, one cannot conceive any thing more awful and comfortless than the scene. It is then unapproachable to the stranger, though it would be worth the risk of the attempt, in order to pass a Sabbath in Besherrai, to hear its church-bell pealing over its wastes of snow, the voices singing the Maronite hymn, and the roar of its cataract rising over all; and when evening came, to join the Scheich's family circle round the noble wood fire, that chases cold from the frame, and gloom from the fancy, for whole trees are sometimes laid on it: kids, poultry, and game, with the generous wines of Lebanon, furnish the repast, which is made more inviting by a delightful simplicity of manners. The waterfall which is seen in the middle of the plate, descends from a height a hundred feet; above this cascade stretch large fields of ice, which are of a mingled green and blue colour; at some distance on the left, is the celebrated group of cedars, on the crest of the mountain; they are distant about three hours from Besherrai, to which it requires an hour to descend from the heights above. Every year, in the month of June, the inhabitants of Besherrai, of Eden, and other adjacent vales and villages, ascend to these cedars, and partake of the communion at their feet . Men, women, and children, all esteem it a privilege to come and kneel, and sing their hymns beneath the aged trees; and this observance leaves a kindly influence on the memory throughout the year, and exquisitely appeals to the feelings of children. Here, one or many days are often passed; at sunrise and set, and at intervals during the day, the splendid solitude is broken by their sweet voices. It is a spot in which many would desire to rest from their labours, and be laid here in the grave: beneath this bank, where kings and saints have wept—beneath these ancient witnesses, would it not be a hallowed restingplace? Amid the last glories of the cedars, the wind moaning through whose branches is like a dirge in winter; and in summer and autumn, the hymns and prayers of the people arise without ceasing.