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Travels in Syria and the Holy Land by John Burckhardt

Part 4 out of 12

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estimated to get yearly from his worms; the taxes on the mulberry trees
are calculated in proportion to those on the silk. The peasant who rears
silk-worms is reckoned to pay about twenty or twenty-five per cent. on
his income, while he who lives by the produce of his fields pays more
than fifty per cent.

I obtained the following information respecting the modern history of
the Pashas of Tripoli.

Fettah Pasha, of three tails, was driven out of Tripoli by the
inhabitants, about 1768, after having governed a few years. He was
succeeded by Abd-er-rahman Pasha, but the rebels still maintained their
ascendancy in the town. He had formerly been Kapydji for the Djerde or
caravan, which departs annually from Tripoli to meet the Mekka caravan
on its return. He made Mustafa, the chief of the rebels, his Touenkdji,
and submitted to his orders, till he found an opportunity of putting him
to death at Ladakie, whither he had gone to collect the Miri. The town
was at the

[p.170]same time surprised, the castle taken, and all the ring-leaders
killed. Abd-er-rahman Pasha governed for about two years.

Youssef Pasha, the son of Othman Pasha of Damascus, of the family of
Adm, governed for eight or ten years, and was succeeded by his brother,

Abdullah Pasha, who remained in the government upwards of five years,
and was afterwards named Pasha of Damascus. He is at present Pasha of

Hassan Pasha, of the family of Adm, remained two years in office.

Hosseyn Pasha was sent with the Djerde, to kill Djezzar, who was on his
way back from Mekka; but Djezzar poisoned him, before he could execute
his design.

Derwish Pasha governed two years. One of the chiefs of his troops,
Hassan Youssef, usurped the greater part of the authority until he was
killed by the Pasha's orders.

Soleiman Pasha, now Pasha of Acre, governed at Tripoli about 1792, while
Djezzar was at Damascus.

Khalyl Pasha, son of Abdullah Pasha, was driven out by the rebellious
inhabitants, during the invasion of Syria by the French. One of the
ring-leaders, Mustara Dolby, took possession of the castle, and reigned
for two years. He was succeeded by Ibrahim Sultan, who was driven away
by Mustafa Aga Berber, a man of talents and of great energy of
character. He refused to pay the Miri into the hands of Youssef Pasha of
Damascus, who had also been invested with the Pashalik of Tripoli, and
having fortified the castle, he boldly awaited with a few trusty
adherents the arrival of Youssef, who approached the town with an army
of five or six thousand men. All the inhabitants fled to the mountain,
except the French consul, a secret enemy of Berber. The army of Youssef
no sooner entered the city, than they began

[p.171]plundering it; and in the course of a few months they completely
sacked it, leaving nothing but bare walls; every piece of iron was
carried off, and even the marble pavements were torn up and sold. The
son of the French consul gained considerable sums by buying up a part of
the plunder. The castle was now besieged, and some French artillerymen
having been brought from Cyprus, a breach was soon made, but though
defended by only one hundred and fifty men, none had the courage to
advance to the assault. After a siege of five months Soleiman Pasba of
Acre interceded for Berber, and Youssef Pasha, glad of a pretext for
retreating, granted the garrison every kind of military honours; the
remaining provisions in the castle were sold to the Pasha for ready
money, and in February, 1809, Berber, accompanied by the officers of
Soleiman Pasha, left the castle and retired to Acre. He was again named
governor of Tripoli, when Soleiman Pasha of Acre and Damascus was, in
1810, invested with the Pashalik of Tripoli.

Seid Soleiman, Pasha of Damascus, received the same charge in 1812.

During our stay at Tripoli, Berber was in the neigbbourhood of Ladakie,
making war against some rebel Anzeyrys; the castle of Tripoli was
intrusted to the command of an Aga of Arnaouts, without being under the
orders of Berber. It is very probable that Berber may yet become a
conspicuous character in Syrian affairs, being a man of great spirit,
firmness, and justice. The town of Tripoli was never in a better state
than when under his command.

March 12th.--Having spent ten days at Tripoli very pleasantly, I took
leave of my companion, who went to Ladakie and Antioch, and set out with
a guide towards Damascus, with the intention of visiting the Kesrouan,
and paying my respects to the chief of the


[p.172] mountain, the Emir Beshir, at Deir el Kammar. On the way I
wished to visit some ruins in the Koura, which I had heard of at
Tripoli. I therefore turned out of the great road, which follows the sea
shore as far as Beirout. We set out in the evening, ascended the castle
hill to the S. of the town, and arrived after an hour and a half at Deir
Keiftein [Arabic], where I slept. The road lay through a wood of olive
trees, on the left bank of the Kadisha; over the lowest declivities of
the Libanus. It is a part of the district El Koura, the principal
produce of which is oil. The Zawye, on the other side of the Kadisha,
also produces oil, and at the same time more grain than the Koura. Every
olive tree here is worth from fifteen to twenty piastres. The soil in
which the trees grow is regularly ploughed, but nothing is sown between
the trees, as it is found that any other vegetation diminishes the
quantity of olives. The ground round the stem is covered to the height
of two or three feet with earth, to prevent the sun from hurting the
roots, and to give it the full benefit of the rains. We met with a few
tents of Arabs Zereykat and El Hayb, who were pasturing their sheep upon
the wild herbs by the road side.

At half an hour's distance to the right runs the Djebel Kella [Arabic]
in a north-easterly direction towards the sea; this mountain is under
the immediate government of Tripoli, the Emir Beshir, to whom the whole
Libanus belongs, not having been yet able to gain possession of it. The
following are the principal villages of the Kella: Deyr Sakoub, Diddy,
Fya, Kelhat, Betouratydj, Ras Meskha, Bersa, Nakhle, Beterran, Besh,
Mysyn, Afs Dyk.

Keiftein is a small Greek convent, with a prior and two monks only; a
small village of the same name stands near it. In the burying ground of
the convent is a fine marble sarcophagus, under which an English consul
of Tripoli lies buried. A long English nscription, with a Latin
translation, records the virtues of John


[p.173] Carew, Esq. of Pembrokeshire, who was fifty years consul at
Tripoli, and died the 5th of May, 1747, seventy-seven years of age.

March 13th.--Our road lay through the olive plantations called El Bekeya
[Arabic], between the Upper Libanus and the Djebel Kella. Half an hour
to the right of the road, upon the latter mountain, is the village
Nakhle, below it, Betouratydj, farther up the hill Fya, then, more to
the south, Bedobba, and lastly, Afs Dyk; these villages stand very near
together, although the Kella is very rocky, and little fit for culture;
the peasants, however, turn every inch of ground to advantage. Half an
hour from Keiftein is the village Ferkahel [Arabic], on the side of the
river; we saw here a few old date trees, of which there are also some at
Nakhle. The inhabitants of the Koura are for the greater part of the
Greek church; in Zawye all the Christians are Maronites. At one hour
from Keiftein is the village Beserma [Arabic]. One hour and three
quarters, continuing in the valley between the Libanus and the Kella, is
the village Kfer Akka; we here turned up the Libanus. Half an hour from
the Kfer Akka, on the side of the mountain, is a considerable village
called Kesba, with the convent of Hantoura [Arabic]. At the same
distance S. of Akka, is the village Kfer Zeroun [Arabic]. Two hours and
a quarter from Keiftein, on the declivity of the mountain, is the
convent of St. Demetrius, or Deir Demitry. I here left my mare, and
walked up the mountain to see the ruins of which I had been informed at
Tripoli. In twenty minutes I reached the remains of an ancient town,
standing on a piece of level ground, but with few houses remaining.
These ruins are called by the people of the country Naous or Namous,
which name is supposed to be derived from the word [Arabic], i.e. a
burying-place; but I think its derivation from the Greek [Greek] more
probable. On the S. side stand the ruins of two temples, which are worth


[p.174]traveller's attention. The smaller one is very much like the
temple of Hossn el Forsul, near Zahle, which I had seen on my way to
Baalbec; it is an oblong building of about the same size; and is built
with large square stones. The entrance is to the east. The door remains,
together with the southern wall and a part of the northern. The west
wall and the roof are fallen. In the south wall are two niches. Before
the entrance was a portico of four columns, with a flight of steps
leading up to it. The bases of the columns and fragments of the shafts,
which are three feet in diameter, still remain. At about forty paces
from the temple is a gate, corresponding to the door of the temple; a
broad staircase leads up from it to the temple. The two door-posts of
this outer gate are still standing, each formed of a single stone about
thirteen feet high, rudely adorned with sculpture. At about one hundred
and fifty yards from this building is the other, of much larger
dimensions; it stands in an area of fifty paces in breadth, and sixty in
length, surrounded by a wall, of which the foundation, and some other
parts, still remain. The entrance to this area is through a beautiful
gate, still entire; it is fourteen feet high and ten feet wide, the two
posts, and the soffit are each formed of a single stone; the posts are
elegantly sculptured. At the west end of this area, and elevated four or
five feet above its level, stood the temple, opposite to the great gate;
it presents nothing now but a heap of ruins, among which it is
impossible to trace the original distribution of the building. The
ground is covered with columns, capitals, and friezes; I saw a fragment
of a column, consisting of one piece of stone nine feet in length, and
three feet and a half in diameter. The columns are Corinthian, but not
of the best workmanship. Near the S.W. angle of the temple are the
foundations of a small insulated building.


[p.175]In order to level the surface of the area, and to support the
northern wall, a terrace was anciently raised, which is ten feet high in
the north-west corner. The wall of the area is built with large blocks
of well cut stone, some of which are upwards of twelve feet in length.
It appears however to have undergone repairs, as several parts of the
wall are evidently of modern construction; it has perhaps been used as a
strong-hold by the Arabs. The stone of the building is calcareous, but
not so hard as the rock of Baalbec. I saw no kind of inscriptions. The
Naous commands a most beautiful view over the Koura and the sea. Tripoli
bears N.

I descended to the convent of Mar Demitry, in which there is at present
but one monk; and turning from thence in a S.W. direction, reached in
half an hour the wild torrent of Nahr Beshiza [Arabic]; which dries up
in summer time, but in winter sometimes swells rapidly to a considerable
size. When Youssef Pasha besieged Tripoli, intelligence was received at
a village near it, that a party of his troops intended to plunder the
village; the inhabitants in consequence fled with their most valuable
moveables the same evening, and retired up the Wady Beshiza, where they
passed the night. It had unfortunately rained in the mountains above,
and during the night the torrent suddenly swelled, and carried away
eight or ten families, who had encamped in its bed; about fifteen
persons perished. On the right bank, near the stream, lies the village
Beshiza, and at ten minutes from it to the S.E. the ruins of a small
temple bearing the name at present of Kenyset el Awamyd [Arabic], or the
church of the columns. The principal building is ten paces in length on
the inside, and eight paces in breadth. The S. and W. walls are
standing, but the E. has fallen down; the S. wall has been thrown out of
the perpendicular by an earthquake. The entrance is from the west, or
rather from the N.W. for the temple does not face the four cardinal


[p.176]points; the northern wall, instead of completing the quadrangle,
consists of two curves about twelve feet in depth, and both vaulted like
niches, as high as the roof, which has fallen in. In the S. wall are
several projecting bases for statues. The door and its soffit, which is
formed of a single stone, are ornamented with beautiful sculptures,
which are not inferior to those of Baalbec. Before the entrance was a
portico of four Ionic columns, of which three are standing; they are
about eighteen feet high, and of a single stone. Opposite to each of the
exterior columns of this portico is a pilaster in the wall of the
temple. There are also two other pilasters in the opposite or eastern
wall. Between the two middle columns of the portico is a gate six feet
high, formed of two posts, with a stone laid across them; this is
probably of modern date, as the exterior of the northern wall also
appears to be; instead of forming two semicircles, as within, it is
polygonal. Between the door and the pilaster, to the northward of it, is
a niche. The entablature of the portico is perfect. In the midst of the
building stands a large old oak tree, whose branches overshadow the
temple, and supply the place of the roof, rendering the ruin a highly
picturesque object. I saw no inscriptions.

Half an hour to the west of Beshiza lies the village of Deir Bashtar
[Arabic]. From the temple we turned N.-eastward, and at the end of half
an hour passed the village Amyoun [Arabic], the chief place in the
district of El Koura, and the residence of Assaf Ibn Asar, the governor
of that province; he is a Greek Christian, and a collector of the Miri,
which he pays into the hands of the Emir Beshir. Many Christian families
are governors of provinces and Sheikhs of villages in the mountains: in
collecting the

[p.177]Miri, and making the repartitions of the extraordinary demands
made by the Emir, they always gain considerable sums; but whenever a
Sheikh has filled his purse, he is sure to fall a victim to the avidity
of the chief governor. These Sheikhs affect all the pomp of the Turks;
surpass them in family pride, and equal them in avarice, low intrigue,
and fanatism. The governor of the province of Zawye is also a Christian,
of the family of Dhaher.

Instead of descending towards the sea shore, which is the usual route to
Batroun, I preferred continuing in the mountain. At an hour and a
quarter from Amyoun, after having twice passed the Beshiza, or, as it is
also called, the Nahr Aszfour, which runs in a very narrow Wady
descending from the district of Laklouk, we reached the village of
Keftoun, where is a convent. Above it lies the village of Betaboura, and
in its neighbourhood Dar Shemsin and Kferhata. West of Amyoun is the
village of Kfer Hasir [Arabic]. The industry with which these
mountaineers cultivate, upon the narrow terraces formed on the steep
declivity of the mountain, their vines and mulberry trees, with a few
acres of corn, is really admirable. At two hours the village of Kelbata
was on our right; a little farther, to the right, Ras Enhash. [Arabic];
below on the sea shore, at the extremity of a point of land, is a large
village called Amfy [Arabic], and near it the convent Deir Natour. It is
with great difficulty that a horse can travel through these mountains;
the roads are abominable, and the inhabitants always keep them so, in
order to render the invasion of their country more difficult. The
direction of Batroun, from the point where the road begins to descend,
is S.W.b.W.

We descended the mountain called Akabe el Meszabeha, near the Wady
Djaous, which lower down takes the name of Nahr Meszabeha. Two hours and
a half from Amyoun, on the descent, is a fine spring, with a vaulted
covering over it, called Ayn el Khowadja [Arabic]. At the end of three
hours we reached


[p.178] a narrow valley watered by the last mentioned river, and bounded
on the right hand by Djebel Nourye, which advances towards the sea, and
on the left by another mountain; upon the former stands the village
Hammad, and on the point of it, over the sea, the convent of Mar Elias.
At three hours and a quarter, and where the valley is scarcely ten
minutes in breadth, a castle of modern construction stands upon an
insulated rock; it is called Kalaat Meszabeha [Arabic], its walls are
very slight, but the rock upon which it stands is so steep, that no
beast of burthen can ascend it. This castle was once in possession of
the Metaweli, who frequently attacked the passengers in the valley. Near
it is a bridge over the Wady. At three hours and three quarters, where
the valley opens towards the sea, is the village Kobba [Arabic], at the
foot of the Djebel Nourye, with an ancient tower near it. At the end of
four hours and a quarter we reached Batroun [Arabic], where I slept, in
one of the small Khans which are built by the sea side.

Batroun, the ancient Bostrys, contains at present three or four hundred
houses. Its inhabitants are, for the greater part, Maronites; the rest
are Greeks and Turks. The town and its territory belong to the Emir
Beshir; but it is under the immediate government of two of his
relations, Emir Kadan and Emir Melhem. The principal man in the town is
the Christian Sheikh, of the family of Khodher. The produce of Batroun
consists chiefly in tobacco. There is no harbour, merely an inlet
capable of admitting a couple of coasting boats. The whole coast from
Tripoli to Beirout appears to be formed of sand, accumulated by the
prevailing westerly winds, and hardened into rocks. An artificial
shelter seems to have been anciently formed by excavating the rocks, and
forming a part of them into a wall of moderate thickness for the length
of one hundred paces, and to the height of twelve feet. It was probably
behind this wall that the boats of Bostrys anciently found shelter


[p.179]from the westerly gales. I saw but one boat between the rocks of

March 14th.--Our road lay along the rocky coast. In three quarters of an
hour we came to a bridge, called Djissr Medfoun [Arabic], which crosses
a winter torrent. The territory of Batroun extends to this bridge; its
northern limits begin at the village of Hammad, upon the Djebel Nourye,
which terminates the district of Koura; beyond the bridge of Medfoun is
the village Aabeidat [Arabic] to the left. The mountain reaches quite
down to the sea shore. The direction of our road was S.b.W. At two
hours, upon a hill to the left of the road, called Berdj Reihani
[Arabic], stands a ruined arched building; on the road below it are
three columns of sand stone. Up in the mountain are the Greek villages
of Manszef [Arabic], Berbar [Arabic], Gharsous [Arabic], and Korne
[Arabic]. In three hours and a quarter we passed a Wady, without water,
called Halloue [Arabic]. At every three or four miles on this road small
Khans are met with, where refreshments of bread, cheese, and brandy are
sold. Close to the sea shore are many deep wells, with springs of fresh
water at their bottom. Three hours and a half is Djebail [Arabic], the
ancient Byblus. Above it, in the mountain, is the convent Deir el Benat,
with the village Aamsheit [Arabic]. I passed on the outside of Djebail
without stopping. The town is enclosed by a wall, some parts of which
appear to be of the time of the crusades. Upon a stone in the wall I saw
a rose, with a smaller one on each side. There is a small castle here,
in which the Emir Beshir keeps about forty men. A few years ago Djebail
was the residence of the Christian Abd el Ahad; he and his brother
Djordjos Bas were the head men of the Emir Beshir, and in fact were more
potent than their master. Djordjos Bas resided at Deir el Kammar. The
district of Djebail was under the command of Abd el Ahad, who built a

[p.180]very good house here; but the two brothers shared the fate of all
Christians who attempt to rise above their sphere; they were both put to
death in the same hour by the Emir's orders; indeed there is scarcely an
instance in the modern history of Syria, of a Christian or Jew having
long enjoyed the power or riches which he may have acquired: these
persons are always taken off in the moment of their greatest apparent
glory. Abd el Hak, at Antioch; Hanna Kubbe, at Ladakie; Karaly, at
Aleppo; are all examples of this remark. But, as in the most trifling,
so in the most serious concerns, the Levantine enjoys the present
moment, without ever reflecting on future consequences. The house of
Hayne, the Jew Seraf, or banker, at Damascus and Acre, whose family may
be said to be the real governors of Syria, and whose property, at the
most moderate calculation, amounts to three hundred thousand pounds
sterling, are daily exposed to the same fate. The head of the family, a
man of great talents, has lost his nose, his ears, and one of his eyes,
in the service of Djezzar, yet his ambition is still unabated, and he
prefers a most precarious existence, with power, in Syria, to the ease
and security he might enjoy by emigrating to Europe. The Christian
Sheikh Abou Nar commands at Djebail, his brother is governor or Sheikh
of Bshirrai.

Many fragments of fine granite columns are lying about in the
neighbourhood of Djebail. On the S. side of the town is a small Wady
with a spring called Ayn el Yasemein [Arabic]. The shore is covered with
deep sand. A quarter of an hour from Djebail is a bridge over a deep and
narrow Wady; it is called Djissr el Tel [Arabic]; upon a slight
elevation, on its S. side, are the ruins of a church, called Kenyset
Seidet Martein [Arabic]. Up in the mountains are two convents and
several Maronite villages, with the names of which my Greek guide was
unacquainted. In half an hour we came to a pleasant grove of oaks
skirting the


[p.181]road; and in three quarters of an hour to the Wady Feidar
[Arabic], with a bridge across it; this river does not dry up in summer
time. A little farther to the right of the road is an ancient watch-
tower upon a rock over the sea; the natives call it Berdj um Heish
[Arabic] from an echo which is heard here; if the name Um Heish be
called aloud, the echo is the last syllable "Eish," which, in the vulgar
dialect, means "what?" ([Arabic] for [Arabic]). Many names of places in
these countries have trivial origins of this kind. At two hours and a
half we crossed by a bridge the large stream of Nahr Ibrahim, the
ancient Adonis. Above us in the mountain is the village El Djissr. The
whole lower ridge of mount Libanus, from Wady Medfoun to beyond Nahr
Ibrahim, composes the district of El Fetouh [Arabic], which is at
present under the control of Emir Kasim, son of the Emir Beshir, who
resides at Ghadsir in Kesrouan; he commands also in Koura. At two hours
and a half, and to the left of the road, which runs at a short distance
from the sea, is the convent of Mar Domeitt [Arabic], with the village
of El Bouar [Arabic]. The soil is here cultivated in every part with the
greatest care. In three hours and a quarter we came to a deep well cut
in the rock, with a spring at the bottom, called Ayn Mahous [Arabic]. At
three hours and a half is a small harbour called Meinet Berdja [Arabic],
with a few houses round it. Boats from Cyprus land here, loaded
principally with wheat and salt. To the right of the road, between
Meinet Berdja and the sea, extends a narrow plain, called Watta Sillan
[Arabic]; its southern part terminates in a promontory, which forms the
northern point of the Bay of Kesrouan. Near the promontory stands an
ancient tower, called Berdj el Kosszeir [Arabic]. In four hours and a
quarter we reached Djissr Maammiltein [Arabic], an ancient bridge,
falling into ruins, over a Wady of the same name. The banks of this Wady


[p.182] the boundary of separation between the Pahaliks of Saida and
Tripoli, and divide the district of Fetouh from that of Kesrouan.

The country of Kesrouan, which I now entered, presents a most
interesting aspect; on the one hand are steep and lofty mountains, full
of villages and convents, built on their rocky sides; and on the other a
fine bay, and a plain of about a mile in breadth, extending from the
mountains to the sea. There is hardly any place in Syria less fit for
culture than the Kesrouan, yet it has become the most populous part of
the country. The satisfaction of inhabiting the neighbourhood of places
of sanctity, of hearing church bells, which are found in no other part
of Syria, and of being able to give a loose to religious feelings and to
rival the Mussulmans in fanatisim, are the chief attractions that have
peopled Kesrouan with Catholic Christians, for the present state of this
country offers no political advantages whatever; on the contrary, the
extortions of the Druses have reduced the peasant to the most miserable
state of poverty, more miserable even than that in the eastern plains of
Syria; nothing, therefore, but religious freedom induces the Christians
to submit to these extortions; added perhaps to the pleasure which the
Catholics derive from persecuting their brethren of the Greek church,
for the few Greeks who are settled here are not better treated by the
Maronites, than a Damascene Christian might expect to be by a Turk. The
plain between the mountain and the sea is a sandy soil; it is sown with
wheat and barley, and is irrigated by water drawn from wells by means of
wheels. At five hours and a quarter is Ghafer Djouni [Arabic], a market
place, with a number of shops, built on the sea side, where there is a
landing place for small boats.

The Beirout road continues from hence along the sea coast, but I wished
to visit some convents in Kesrouan, and therefore


[p.183]turned up the mountain to the left. At the end of five hours and
three quarters I came to a wood of firs, which trees are very common in
these parts; to the right is the village Haret el Bottne [Arabic]. Six
hours and three quarters Zouk Mykayl [Arabic], the principal village in
Kesrouan, where resides the Sheikh Beshera, of the family of Khazen, who
is at present the governor of the province. The inhabitants of Zouk
consist, for the greater part, of the shopkeepers and artizans who
furnish Kesrouan with articles of dress or of luxury. I observed in
particular many makers of boots and shoes. Seven hours, is Deir Beshara;
a convent of nuns. At the end of seven hours and a quarter, I arrived at
Antoura, a village in a lofty situation, with a convent, which formerly
belonged to the Jesuits, but which is now inhabited by a Lazarist, the
Abbate Gandolfi, who is the Pope's delegate, for the affairs of the
eastern church. I had letters for him, and met with a most friendly
reception: his intimate acquaintance with the affairs of the mountain,
and of the Druses, which his residence of upwards of twelve years, and a
sound understanding, have enabled him to acquire, renders his
conversation very instructive to the inquisitive traveller.

March 15th--I left Antoura in the evening, to visit some convents in a
higher part of the mountains of Kesrouan. Passed Wady Kheredj [Arabic],
and at three quarters of an hour from Antoura, the ruined convent of
Bekerke [Arabic], once the residence of the famous Hindye, whose history
Volney has given. Now that passions have cooled, and that the greater
part of the persons concerned are dead, it is the general opinion that
Hindye's only crime was her ambition to pass for a saint. The abominable
acts of debauchery and cruelty of which she was accused, are probably
imaginary: but it is certain that she rigorously punished the nuns of
her convent who hesitated to believe in her sanctity, or who doubted the
visits of Jesus Christ, of which she boasted. Hindye died about


[p.184]ten years since in retirement, in the convent of Seidet el Hakle.
At one hour and a half from Antoura, on the top of the mountain, is the
convent of Harissa, belonging to the Franciscans of Terra Santa, and
inhabited at present by a single Piedmontese monk. On the breaking out
of the war between England and the Porte, Mr. Barker, the Consul at
Aleppo, received from the Emir Beshir an offer of this convent as a
place of refuge in his territory. Mr. Barker resided here for two years
and a half, and his prudent and liberal conduct have done great credit
to the English name in the mountain. The French consuls on the coast
applied several times to the Emir Beshir, by express orders from the
French government, to have Mr. Barker and his family removed; but the
Emir twice tore their letters in pieces and returned them by the
messenger as his only answer. Harissa [Arabic] is a well built, large
convent, capable of receiving upwards of twenty monks. Near it is a
miserable village of the same name. The view from the terrace of the
convent over the bay of Kesrouan, and the country as far as Djebail, on
one side, and down to Beirout on the other, is extremely beautiful. The
convent is situated in the midst of Kesrouan, over the village Sahel

March 16.--I slept at Harissa, and left it early in the morning, to
visit Ayn Warka. The roads in these mountains are bad beyond
description, indeed I never before saw any inhabited country so entirely
mountainous as the Kesrouan: there are no levels on the tops of the
mountain; but the traveller no sooner arrives on the summit, than he
immediately begins the descent; each hill is insulated, so that to reach
a place not more than ten minutes distant in a straight line, one is
obliged to travel three or four miles, by descending into the valley and
ascending again the other side. From Harissa I went north half an hour
to the village Ghosta [Arabic], near which are two convents called
Kereim and Baklous. Kereim


[p.185]is a rich Armenian monastery, in which are twenty monks. The silk
of this place is esteemed the best in Kesrouan. A little farther down is
the village El Basha. One hour and a quarter Ayn Warka [Arabic], another
Maronite convent. I wished to see this place, because I had heard that a
school had lately been established here, and that the convent contained
a good library of Syrian books; but I was not so fortunate as to see the
library; the bishop, although he received me well, found a pretext for
not opening the room in which the books are kept, fearing, probably,
that if his treasures should be known, the convent might some day be
deprived of them. I however saw a beautiful dictionary in large folio of
the Syriac language, written in the Syriac character, which, I suppose,
to be the only copy in Syria. Its author was Djorjios el Kerem Seddany,
who composed it in the year 1619. Kerem Seddany is the name of a village
near Bshirrai. This dictionary may be worth in Syria eight hundred or a
thousand piastres; but the convent would certainly not sell it for less
than two thousand, besides a present to the bishop.

The school of Ayn Warka was established fifteen years since by Youssef,
the predecessor of the present bishop. It is destined to educate sixteen
poor Maronite children, for the clerical profession; they remain here
for six or eight years, during which they are fed and clothed at the
expense of the convent, and are educated according to the literary taste
of the country; that is to say, in addition to their religious duties,
they are taught grammar, logic, and philosophy. The principal books of
instruction are the Belough el Arab, [Arabic], and the Behth el Mettalae
[Arabic], both composed by the bishop Djermanous [Arabic]. At present
there is only one schoolmaster, but another is shortly expected,


[p.186]to teach philosophy. The boys have particular hours assigned to
the different branches of their studies. I found them sitting or lying
about in the court-yard, each reading a book, and the master, in a
common peasant's dress, in the midst of them. Besides the Arabic
language they are taught to speak, write, and read the Syriac. The
principal Syriac authors, whose books are in the library, are Ibn el
Ebre [Arabic], or as the Latins call him, Berebreo, Obeyd Yeshoua
[Arabic], and Ibn el Aassal [Arabic], their works are chiefly on
divinity. The bishop is building a dormitory for the boys, in which each
of them is to have his separate room; he has also begun to take in
pupils from all parts of Syria, whose parents pay for their board and
education. The convent has considerable landed property, and its income
is increased by alms from the Catholic Syrians. The boys, on leaving the
convent, are obliged to take orders.

From Ayn Warka I ascended to the convent of Bezommar [Arabic], one hour
and a quarter distant. It belongs to the Armenian Catholics, and is the
seat of the Armenian patriarch, or spiritual head of all the Armenians
in the East who have embraced the Catholic faith. Bezommar is built upon
the highest summit of the mountain of Kesrouan, which is a lower branch
of the southern Libanus. It is the finest and the richest convent in
Kesrouan, and is at present inhabited by the old patriarch Youssef, four
bishops, twelve monks, and seventeen priests. The patriarch himself
built the convent, at an expense of upwards of fifteen thousand pounds
sterling. Its income is considerable, and is derived partly from its
great landed possessions, and partly from the benefactions of persons at
Constantinople, in Asia Minor, and in Syria. The venerable patriarch
received me in his bed, from which, I fear, he will never rise again.
The Armenian priests


[p.187]of this convent are social and obliging, with little of the pride
and hypocrisy of the Maronites. Several of them had studied at Rome. The
convent educates an indefinite number of poor boys; at present there are
eighteen, who are destined to take orders; they are clothed and fed
gratis. Boys are sent here from all parts of the Levant. I enquired
after Armenian manuscripts, but was told that the convent possessed only
Armenian books, printed at Venice.

I left Bezommar to return to Antoura. Half an hour below Bezommar is the
convent Essharfe [Arabic], belonging to the true Syrian church. The rock
in this part is a quartzose sand-stone, of a red and gray colour. To the
left, still lower down, is the considerable village Deir Aoun [Arabic],
and above it the Maronite convent Mar Shalleitta [Arabic]. I again
passed Mar Harissa on my descent to Antoura, which is two hours and a
half distant from it.

March 17th.--The district of Kesrouan, which is about three hours and a
half in length, from N. to S. and from two to three hours in breadth
across the mountains, is exclusively inhabited by Christians: neither
Turks nor Druses reside in it. The Sheikh Beshara collects the Miri, and
a son of the Emir Beshir resides at Ghazir, to protect the country, and
take care of his father's private property in the district. The
principal and almost sole produce is silk; mulberry trees are
consequently the chief growth of the soil; wheat and barley are sown,
but not in sufficient quantity for the consumption of the people. The
quantity of silk produced annually amounts to about sixty Kantars, or
three hundred and thirty English quintals. A man's wealth is estimated
by the number of Rotolas of silk which he makes, and the annual taxes
paid to government are calculated and distributed in proportion to them.
The Miri or land-tax is taken upon the mule loads

[p.188]of mulberry leaves, eight or ten trees, in common years, yielding
one load; and as the income of the proprietors depends entirely upon the
growth of these leaves, they suffer less from a bad crop, because their
taxes are proportionally low. The extraordinary extortions of the
government, however, are excessive: the Emir often exacts five or six
Miris in the year, and one levy of money is no sooner paid, than orders
are received for a fresh one of twenty or thirty purses upon the
province. The village Sheikh fixes the contributions to be paid by each
village, taking care to appropriate a part of them to himself. Last year
many peasants were obliged to sell a part of their furniture, to defray
the taxes; it may easily be conceived therefore in what misery they
live: they eat scarcely any thing but the worst bread, and oil, or soups
made of the wild herbs, of which tyranny cannot deprive them.
Notwithstanding the wretchedness in which they are left by the
government, they have still to satisfy the greediness of their priests,
but these contributions they pay with cheerfulness. Many of the convents
indeed are too rich to require their assistance, but those which are
poor, together with all the parish priests and church officers, live
upon the people. Such is the condition of this Christian commonwealth,
which instead of deserving the envy of other Christians, living under
the Turkish yoke, is in a more wretched state than any other part of
Syria; but the predominance of their church consoles them under every
affliction, and were the Druse governor to deprive them of the last
para, they would still remain in the vicinity of their convent.

Contributions are never levied on the convents, though the landed
property belonging to them pays duties like that of the peasant; their
income from abroad is free from taxes. Loans are sometimes required of
the convents; but they are regularly reimbursed in the time of the next
harvest. The priests are the most


[p.189]happy part of the population of Kesrouan; they are under no
anxiety for their own support; they are looked upon by the people
assuperior beings, and their repose is interrupted only by the intrigues
of the convents, and by the mutual hostilities of the bishops.

The principal villages in Kesrouan, beginning from the north, are
Ghadsir [Arabic], Djedeide [Arabic], Aar Amoun [Arabic], Shenanayr
[Arabic], Sahel Alma [Arabic], Haret Szakher [Arabic], Ghozta [Arabic],
Deir Aoun [Arabic], Ghadir [Arabic], Zouk Mikayl [Arabic], Djouni
[Arabic], Zouk Meszbah [Arabic], Zouk el Kherab [Arabic], and Kornet el
Khamra [Arabic].

March 18th--I left my amiable host, the Abate Gandolfi, and proceeded on
my road to Deir el Kammar, the residence of the Emir Beshir. One hour
from Antoura is Deir Lowyz [Arabic]. Between it and the village Zouk
Mikayl lies the village Zouk Meszbah, with Deir Mar Elias. South of Deir
Lowyz half an hour is the village Zouk el Kharab; half an hour E. of the
latter, Deir Tanneis [Arabic], and about the same distance S.E. the
village Kornet el Khamra. From Deir Lowyz I again descended into the
plain on the sea shore. The narrow plain which I mentioned as beginning
at Djissr Maammiltein, continues only as far as Djouni, where the
country rises, and continues hilly, across the southern promontoy of the
bay of Kesrouan, on the farther side of which the narrow plain again
begins, and continues as far as the banks of the Nahr el Kelb. I reached
this river in half an hour from Antoura, at the point of its junction
with the sea, about ten minutes above which it is crossed by a fine
stone bridge. From the bridge the road continues along the foot of the
steep rocks, except where they overhang the sea, and there it has been
cut through the rock for about a mile. This was a work, however, of no
great labour, and hardly deserved the


[p.190]following magnificent inscription, which is engraved upon the
rock, just over the sea, where the road turns southward:


The last line but one has been purposely erazed. Below the frame in
which the above is engraved, is this figure.

Higher up in the road are several other places in the rock, where
inscriptions have been cut, but the following one only is legible:

INVICTIM ANTONIN FELIX AUG MV . . IS NISIM[In the year 1697 Maundrell
read this inscription as follows: Invicte Imp. Antonine P. Felix Aug.
multis annis impera. Ed.]

According to the opinion of M. Guys, the French consul at Tripoli, which
seems well founded, the Emperor mentioned in the above inscriptions is
not Antoninus Pius, but Caracalla; as the epithet Britannus cannot be
applied to the former, but very well to the latter. Opposite to the
bridge is an Arabic inscription, but for the greater part illegible.

The road continues for about half an hour through the rock over the sea,
above which it is no where higher than fifty feet. At the southern
extremity is a square basin hewn in the rock close by the sea, called El
Mellaha, in which the salt water is sometimes collected for the purpose
of obtaining salt by evaporation. On the summit of the mountain, to the
left of the rocky road, lies the Deir Youssef el Berdj [Arabic]; half an


[p.191]hour south of it, in the mountain, is the village Dhobbye
[Arabic], and behind the latter the village Soleima [Arabic], with a
convent of the Terra Santa. The road from El Mellaha continues for an
hour and a half on the sandy beach; about three quarters of an hour from
the basin we passed the rivulet Nahr Antoun Elias, so called from a
village and convent of that name, to the left of the road. Near the
latter lies the village of Abou Romman [Arabic], in the narrow plain
between the mountain and the sea, and a little farther south, El
Zeleykat [Arabic]. The district of Kesrouan [Arabic], extends, to the
south, as far as a small Khan, which stands a little beyond the Mellaha;
farther south commences the Druse country of Shouf [Arabic]. At the
termination of the sandy beach are seen ruins of Saracen buildings, with
a few houses called Aamaret Selhoub [Arabic].

We now left the sea shore to our right, and rode across the riangular
point of land on the western extremity of which the town of Beirout is
situated. This point projects into the sea about four miles beyond the
line of the coast, and there is about the same distance in following
that line across the base of the triangle. The road we took was through
the fine cultivated plain called El Boudjerye [Arabic], in a direction
S. by W. Two hours and three quarters from El Mellaha is the village
Hadded [Arabic]. Before we came to it, we crossed the Nahr Beirout, at a
place where I saw, for the first time, a grove of date trees. Beyond the
river the country is called Ard el Beradjene, from a tower by the sea
side called Berdj el Beradjene [Arabic]; the surrounding country is all
planted with olive trees. In three hours and a quarter we crossed the
Wady Ghadiry [Arabic], on the other side of which lies the village Kefr
Shyna [Arabic]. Upon the hills about three quarters of an hour S.E. of
the place where the Ghadiry falls into the sea, stands the convent Mar
Hanna el Shoeyfat. At the end of three hours and


[p.192]a half, the road begins to ascend: the Emir Beshir has had a new
road made the greater part of the way up to Deir el Kammar, to
facilitate the communication between his residence and the provinces of
Kesrouan and Djebail. At the end of four hours is a fine spring, with a
basin shaded by some large oak trees; it is called Ayn Besaba [Arabic].
At four hours and a half, the road still ascending, is the village Ayn
Aanab [Arabic], remarkable for a number of palm trees growing here at a
considerable elevation above the sea. The mountain is full of springs,
some of which form pretty cascades. On the front of a small building
which has been erected over the spring in the village, I observed on
both sides two figures cut upon the wall, with open mouths, and having
round their necks a chain by which they are fastened to the ground.
Whether they are meant for lions or calves I could not satisfy myself,
nor could I learn whether they have any relation to the religious
mysteries of the Druses.

The country from Kefr Shyna is wholly inhabited by Druses. The village
of Aanab is the hereditary seat of the family of Ibn Hamdan, who are the
chiefs of the Druses in the Haouran. At five hours and a half is the
village Ayn Aanoub [Arabic]; a little above it the road descends into
the deep valley in which the Nahr el Kadhi flows. The mountain is here
overgrown with fine firs. Six hours and a half, is a bridge (Djissr el
Khadhi) under which the Nahr flows in a rocky bed. The Franks on the
coast commonly give to the Nahr Kadhi the name of Damour, an appellation
not unknown to the natives. On the other side of the bridge the road
immediately ascends to the village Kefrnouta, on the N. side of the
river, where it turns round the side of the mountain to Deir el Kammar,
distant seven hours and a quarter from El Mellaha. I rode through El
Kammar, without stopping, and proceeded to the village of Beteddein,
where the Emir Beshir is building a new palace.


[p.193]The town of Deir el Kammar is situated on the declivity of the
mountain, at the head of a narrow valley descending towards the sea. It
is inhabited by about nine hundred Maronite, three hundred Druse, and
fifteen or twenty Turkish families, who cultivate mulberry and vine
plantations, and manufacture all the articles of dress of the
mountaineers. They are particularly skilful in working the rich Abbas or
gowns of silk, interwoven with gold and silver, which are worn by the
great Sheikhs of the Druses, and which are sold as high as eight hundred
piastres a piece. The Emir Beshir has a serai here. The place seems to
be tolerably well built, and has large Bazars. The tombs of the
Christians deserve notice. Every family has a stone building, about
forty feet square, in which they place their dead, the entrance being
always walled up after each deposit: this mode of interment is peculiar
to Deir el Kammar, and arose probably from the difficulty of excavating
graves in the rocky soil on which it is built. The tombs of the richer
Christian families have a small Kubbe on their summit. The name of this
town, signifying the Monastery of the Moon, originates in a convent
which formerly stood here, dedicated to the Virgin, who is generally
represented in Syria with the moon beneath her feet. Half an hour from
Deir el Kammar, on the other side of the valley, lies Beteddein
[Arabic], which in Syriac, means the two teats, and has received its
name from the similarity of two neighbouring hills, upon one of which
the village is built. Almost all the villages in this neighbourhood have
Syriac names.

March 19th.--The Emir Beshir, to whom I had letters of recommendation,
from Mr. Barker at Aleppo, received me very politely, and insisted upon
my living at his house. His new palace is a very costly edifice; but at
the present rate of its progress five more years will be required to
finish it. The building consists of a large quadrangle, one on side of
which are the

[p.194]Emir's apartments and his harem, with a private court-yard; two
other sides contain small apartments for his people, and the fourth is
open towards the valley, and Deir el Kammar, commanding a distant view
of the sea. In the neighbouring mountain is a spring, the waters from
which have been conducted into the quadrangle; but the Emir wishes to
have a more abundant supply of water, and intends to bring a branch of
the Nahr el Kadhi thither; for this purpose the water must be diverted
from the main stream at a distance of three hours, and the expense of
the canal is calculated at three thousand pounds sterling.

The Emir Beshir is at present master of the whole mountain from Belad
Akkar down to near Akka (Acre), including the valley of Bekaa, and part
of the Anti-Libanus and Djebel Essheikh. The Bekaa, together with a
present of one hundred purses, was given to him in 1810, by Soleiman
Pasha of Acre, for his assistance against Youssef Pasha of Damascus. He
pays for the possession of the whole country, five hundred and thirty
purses, of which one hundred and thirty go to Tripoli and four hundred
to Saida or Acre; this is exclusive of the extraordinary demands of the
Pashas, which amount to at least three hundred purses more. These sums
are paid in lieu of the Miri, which the Emir collects himself, without
accounting for it. The power of the Emir, however, is a mere shadow, the
real government being in the hands of the Druse chief, Sheikh
Beshir.[Beshir is a proper name borne by many people in the mountain.
The accent is on the last syllable: the sound would be expressed in
English by Besheer.] I shall here briefly explain the political state of
the mountain.

It is now about one hundred and twenty years since the government of the
mountain has been always entrusted by the Pashas of Acre and Tripoli to
an individual of the family of Shehab [Arabic], to which the Emir Beshir
belongs. This family derives its origin

[p.195]from Mekka, where its name is known, in the history of Mohammed
and the first Califes; they are Mussulmans, and some of them pretend
even to be Sherifs. About the time of the crusades, for I have been
unable to ascertain the exact period, the Shehabs left the Hedjaz, and
settled in a village of the Haouran, to which they gave their family
name;[A branch of the family is said to inhabit some mountains in
Mesopotamia, under the command of Emir Kasem.] it is still known by the
appellation of Shohba; and is remarkable for its antiquities, of which I
have given some account, in my journal of a tour in the Haouran. The
family being noble, or of Emir origin, were considered proper persons to
be governors of the mountain; for it was, and still is thought necessary
that the government should not be in the hands of a Druse. The Druses
being always divided into parties, a governor chosen from among them
would have involved the country in the quarrels of his own party, and he
would have been always endeavouring to exterminate his adversaries;
whereas a Turk, by carefully managing both parties, maintains a balance
between them, though he is never able to overpower them completely; he
can oppose the Christian inhabitants to the Druses, who are in much
smaller numbers than the former, and thus he is enabled to keep the
country in a state of tranquillity and in subjection to the Pashas. This
policy has long been successful, notwithstanding the turbulent spirit of
the mountaineers, the continual party feuds, and the ambitious projects
of many chiefs, as well of the Druses as of the reigning house; the
Pashas were careful also not to permit any one to become too powerful;
the princes of the reigning family were continually changed; and party
spirit was revived in the mountain whenever the interests of the Porte
required it. About eighty years ago the country was divided into the two
great parties of Keisy [Arabic], whose banner was red, and Yemeny
[Arabic], whose banner was white, and the whole Christian population

[p.196]ranged itself on the one side or the other. The Keisy gained at
length the entire ascendancy, after which none but secret adherents of
the Yemeny remained, and the name itself was forgotten. Then arose the
three sects of Djonbelat, Yezbeky, and Neked. These still exist; thirty
years ago the two first were equal, but the Djonbelat have now got the
upper hand, and have succeeded in disuniting the Yezbeky and Neked.

The Djonbelat [Arabic] draw their origin from the Druse mountain of
Djebel Aala, between Ladakie and Aleppo: they are an old and noble
family, and, in the seventeenth century, one of their ancestors was
Pasha of Aleppo; it forms at present the richest and most numerous
family, and the strongest party in the mountain.

The Yezbeky [Arabic], or as they are also called, El Aemad [Arabic], are
few in number, but are reputed men of great courage and enterprize.
Their principal residence is in the district of El Barouk, between Deir
el Kammar and Zahle.

The Neked, whose principal Sheikh is at present named Soleiman, inhabit,
for the greater part, Deir el Kammar; seven of their principal chiefs
were put to death thirteen years ago in the serai of the Emir Beshir,
and a few only of their children escaped the massacre; these have now
attained to years of manhood, and remain at Deir el Kammar, watched by
the Djonbelaty and the Aemad, who are united against them.

The Djonbelat now carry every thing with a high hand; their chief, El
Sheikh Beshir is the richest and the shrewdest man in the mountain;
besides his personal property, which is very considerable, no affair of
consequence is concluded without his interest being courted, and dearly
paid for. His annual income amounts to about two thousand purses, or
fifty thousand pounds sterling. The whole province of Shouf is under his
command, and he is in partnership

[p.197] with almost all the Druses who possess landed property there.
The greater part of the district of Djesn [Arabic] is his own property,
and he permits no one to obtain possesions in that quarter, while he
increases his own estates yearly, and thus continually augments his
power. The Emir Beshir can do nothing important without the consent of
the Sheikh Beshir, with whom he is obliged to share all the
contributions which he extorts from the mountaineers. It is from this
cause that while some parts of the mountain are very heavily taxed, in
others little is paid. The Druses form the richest portion of the
population, but they supply little to the public contributions, being
protected by the Sheikh Beshir. It will be asked, perhaps, why the
Sheikh does not set aside the Emir Beshir and take the ostensible power
into his own hands? Many persons believe that he entertains some such
design, while others, better informed perhaps, assert that the Sheikh
will never make the attempt, because he knows that the mountaineers
would never submit to a Druse chief. The Druses are certainly in a
better condition at present than they would be under the absolute sway
of the Sheikh, who would soon begin to oppress instead of protecting
them, as he now does; and the Christians, who are a warlike people,
detest the name of Druse too much ever to yield quietly to a chief of
that community. It is, probably, in the view of attaching the Christians
more closely to him, and to oppose them in some measure to the Druses,
that the Emir Beshir, with his whole family, has secretly embraced the
christian religion. The Shehab, as I have already mentioned, were
formerly members of the true Mussulman faith, and they never have had
among them any followers of the doctrines of the Druses. They still
affect publicly to observe the Mohammedan rites, they profess to fast
during the Ramadhan, and the Pashas still treat them as Turks; but it is
no longer matter of doubt, that the greater part of the Shehab, with

[p.198] the Emir Beshir at their head, have really embraced that branch
only of the family which governs at Rasheya and Hasbeya continue in the
religion of their ancestors.

Although the Christians of the mountain have thus become more attached
to their prince, their condition, on the whole, is not bettered, as the
Emir scarcely dares do justice to a Christian against a Druse; still,
however, the Christians rejoice in having a prince of their own faith,
and whose counsellors and household are with few exceptions of the same
religion. There are not more than forty or fifty persons about him who
are not Christians. One of the prince's daughters lately married a Druse
of an Emir family, who was not permitted to celebrate the nuptials till
he had been instructed in the doctrines of Christianity, had been
baptized, and had received the sacrament. How far the Shehab may be
sincere in their professions, I am unable to decide; it is probable that
if their interests should require it, they would again embrace the
religion of their ancestors.

In order to strengthen his authority the Emir Beshir has formed a close
alliance with Soleiman Pasha of Acre, thus abandoning the policy of his
predecessors, who were generally the determined enemies of the Turkish
governors; this alliance is very expensive to the Prince, though it
serves in some degree to counterbalance the influence of the Sheikh
Beshir. The Emir and the Sheikh are apparently on the best terms; the
latter visits the Emir almost every week, attended by a small retinue of
horsemen, and is always received with the greatest apparent cordiality.
I saw him at Beteddein during my stay there. His usual residence is at
the village of Mokhtar [Arabic], three hours distant from Beteddein,
where he has built a good house, and keeps an establishment of about two
hundred men. His confidential attendants, and even the porters of his
harem, are Christians; but his bosom friend

[p.199] is Sheikh el Nedjem [Arabic], a fanatical Druse, and one of the
most respected of their Akals. The Sheikh Beshir has the reputation of
being generous, and of faithfully defending those who have put
themselves under his protection. The Emir Beshir, on the contrary, is
said to be avaricious; but this may be a necessary consequence of the
smallness of his income. He is an amiable man, and if any Levantine can
be called the friend of an European nation, he certainly is the friend
of the English. He dwells on no topic with so much satisfaction as upon
that of his alliance with Sir Sidney Smith, during that officer's
command upon this coast. His income amounts, at most, to four hundred
purses, or about L10.000. sterling, after deducting from the revenue of
the mountain the sums paid to the Pashas, to the Sheikh Beshir, and to
the numerous branches of his family. His favourite expenditure seems to
be in building. He keeps about fifty horses, of which a dozen are of
prime quality; his only amusement is sporting with the hawk and the
pointer. He lives on very bad terms with his family, who complain of his
neglecting them; for the greater part of them are poor, and will become
still poorer, till they are reduced to the state of Fellahs, because it
is the custom with the sons, as soon as they attain the age of fifteen
or sixteen, to demand the share of the family property, which is thus
divided among them, the father retaining but one share for himself.
Several princes of the family are thus reduced to an income of about one
hundred and fifty pounds a year. It has constantly been the secret
endeavour of the Emir Beshir to make himself directly dependent upon the
Porte, and to throw off his allegiance to the Pasha; but he has never
been able to succeed. The conduct of Djezzar Pasha was the cause of this
policy. Djezzar, for reasons which have already been explained, was
continually changing the governors of the mountain, and each new
governor was obliged to promise him large sums for his investiture. Of
these sums few

[p.200]were paid at the time of Djezzar's death, and bills to the amount
of sixteen thousand purses were found in his treasury, secured upon the
revenue of the mountain. At the intercession of Soleiman Pasha,who
succeeded Djezzar at Akka, and of Gharib Effendi, the Porte's
commissioner (now Pasha of Aleppo), this sum was reduced to four
thousand purses, of which the Emir Beshir is now obliged to pay off a
part annually.

By opposing the Druse parties to each other, and taking advantage of the
Christian population, a man of genius and energy of the Shehab family
might perhaps succeed in making himself the independent master of the
mountain. Such an event would render this the most important government
in Syria, and no military force the Turks could send would be able to
overthrow it. But at present the Shehab appear to have no man of
enterprise among them.

The Shehab marry only among themselves, or with two Druse families, the
Merad [Arabic], and Kaszbeya [Arabic]. These and the Reslan [Arabic],
are the only Emir families, or descendants of the Prophet, among the
Druses. These Emirs inhabit the province called El Meten. Emir Manzour,
the chief of the Merads, is a man of influence, with a private annual
income of about one hundred and twenty purses.

I shall now subjoin such few notes on the Druses as I was able to
collect during my short stay in the mountain; I believe them to be
authentic, because I was very careful in selecting my authourities.

With respect to the true religion of the Druses, none but a learned
Druse can satisfy the enquirer's curiosity. What I have already said of
the Anzeyrys is equally applicable to the Druses; their religious
opinions will remain for ever a secret, unless revealed by a Druse.
Their customs, however, may be described; and, as far as they can tend
to elucidate the mystery, the veil may be

[p.201] drawn aside by the researches of the traveller. It seems to be a
maxim with them to adopt the religious practices of the country in which
they reside, and to profess the creed of the strongest. Hence they all
profess Islamism in Syria; and even those who have been baptised on
account of their alliance with the Shehab family, still practise the
exterior forms of the Mohammedan faith. There is no truth in the
assertion that the Druses go one day to the mosque, and the next to the
church. They all profess Islamism, and whenever they mix with
Mohammedans they perform the rites prescribed by their religion. In
private, however, they break the fast of Ramadhan, curse Mohammed,
indulge in wine, and eat food forbidden by the Koran. They bear an
inveterate hatred to all religions except their own, but more
particularly to that of the Franks, chiefly in consequence of a
tradition current among them that the Europeans will one day overthrow
their commonwealth: this hatred has been increased since the invasion of
the French, and the most unpardonable insult which one Druse can offer
to another, is to say to him "May God put a hat on you!" Allah yelebesak
borneita [Arabic].

Nothing is more sacred with a Druse than his public reputation: he will
overlook an insult if known only to him who has offered it; and will put
up with blows where his interest is concerned, provided nobody is a
witness; but the slightest abuse given in public he revenges with the
greatest fury. This is the most remarkable feature of the national
character: in public a Druse may appear honourable; but he is easily
tempted to a contrary behaviour when he has reason to think that his
conduct will remain undiscovered. The ties of blood and friendship have
no power amongst them; the son no sooner attains the years of maturity
than he begins to plot against his father. Examples are not wanting of
their assailing the chastity of their mothers, and towards their sisters

[p.202] conduct is so frequent, that a father never allows a full grown
son to remain alone with any of the females of his family. Their own
religion allows them to take their sisters in marriage; but they are
restrained from indulging in this connexion, on account of its
repugnance to the Mohammedan laws. A Druse seldom has more than one
wife, but he divorces her under the slightest pretext; and it is a
custom among them, that if a wife asks her husband's permission to go
out, and he says to her "Go;" without adding "and come back," she is
thereby divorced; nor can her husband recover her, even though it should
be their mutual wish, till she is married again according to the Turkish
forms, and divorced from her second husband. It is known that the
Druses, like all Levantines, are very jealous of their wives; adultery,
however, is rarely punished with death; if a wife is detected in it, she
is divorced; but the husband is afraid to kill her seducer, because his
death would be revenged, for the Druses are inexorable with respect to
the law of retaliation of blood; they know too that if the affair were
to become public, the governor would ruin both parties by his
extortions. Unnatural propensities are very common amongst them.

The Akal are those who are supposed to know the doctrines of the Druse
religion; they superintend divine worship in the chapels or, as they are
called, Khaloue [Arabic], and they instruct the children in a kind of
catechism. They are obliged to abstain from swearing, and all abusive
language, and dare not wear any article of gold or silk in their dress.
Many of them make it a rule never to eat of any food, nor to receive any
money, which they suspect to have been improperly acquired. For this
reason, whenever they have to receive considerable sums of money, they
take care that it shall be first exchanged for other coin. The Sheikh El
Nedjem, who generally accompanies the Sheikh Beshir, in his visits to
the Emir, never tastes

[p.203] food in the palace of the latter, nor even smokes a pipe there,
always asserting that whatever the Emir possesses has been unlawfully
obtained. There are different degrees of Akal, and women are also
admitted into the order, a privilege which many avail themselves of,
from parsimony, as they are thus exempted from wearing the expensive
head-dress and rich silks fashionable among them.

A father cannot entirely disinherit his son, in that case his will would
be set aside; but he may leave him a single mulberry tree for his
portion. There is a Druse Kadhi at Deir el Kammar, who judges according
to the Turkish laws, and the customs of the Druses; his office is
hereditary in a Druse family; but he is held in little repute, as all
causes of importance are carried before the Emir or the Sheikh Beshir.

The Druses do not circumcise their children; circumcision is practised
only in the mountain by those members of the Shehab family who continue
to be Mohammedans.

The best feature in the Druse character is that peculiar law of
hospitality, which forbids them ever to betray a guest. I made
particular enquiries on this subject, and I am satisfied that no
consideration of interest or dread of power will induce a Druse to give
up a person who has once placed himself under his protection. Persons
from all parts of Syria are in the constant practice of taking refuge in
the mountain, where they are in perfect security from the moment they
enter upon the Emir's territory; should the prince ever be tempted by
large offers to consent to give up a refugee, the whole country would
rise, to prevent such a stain upon their national reputation. The mighty
Djezzar, who had invested his own creatures with the government of the
mountain, never could force them to give up a single individual of all
those who fled thither from his tyranny. Whenever he became

[p.204] very urgent in his demands, the Emir informed the fugitive of
his danger, and advised him to conceal himself for a time in some more
distant part of his territory; an answer was then returned to Djezzar
that the object of his resentment had fled. The asylum which is thus
afforded by the mountain is one of the greatest advantages that the
inhabitants of Syria enjoy over those in the other parts of the Turkish

The Druses are extremely fond of raw meat; whenever a sheep is killed,
the raw liver, heart, &c. are considered dainties; the Christians follow
their example, but with the addition of a glass of brandy with every
slice of meat. In many parts of Syria I have seen the common people eat
raw meat in their favourite dish the Kobbes; the women, especially,
indulge in this luxury.

Mr. Barker told me that during his two years residence at Harissa and in
the mountain, he never heard any kind of music. The Christians are too
devout to occupy themselves with such worldly pleasures, and the Druses
have no sort of musical instruments.

The Druses have a few historical books which mention their nation; Ibn
Shebat, for instance, as I was told, gives in his history of the
Califes, that of the Druses also, and of the family of Shehab. Emir
Haidar, a relation of the Emir Beshir, has lately begun to compile a
history of the Shehabs, which already forms a thick quarto volume.

I believe that the greatest amount of the military forces of the Druses
is between ten and fifteen thousand firelocks; the Christians of the
mountain may, perhaps, be double that number; but I conceive that the
most potent Pasha or Emir would never be able to collect more than
twenty thousand men from the mountain.

The districts inhabited by Druses in the Pashalik of Saida are the
following. El Tefahh, of which one half belongs to the

[p.205] Pasha. El Shomar [Arabic], belonging for the greater part to the
Pasha. El Djessein, one half of which belongs to the Porte. Kesrouan. El
Metten. El Gharb el Fokany. El Gharb el Tahtany; in which the principal
family is that of Beit Telhouk [Arabic]. El Djord [Arabic], the
principal family there is Beit Abd el Melek. El Shehhar [Arabic]; the
principal family Meby el Dein [Arabic]. El Menaszef, under Sheikh
Soleiman of the family of Abou Neked [Arabic]. El Shouf [Arabic], the
residence of the Sheikh Beshir. El Aarkoub [Arabic], or Ard Barouk
[Arabic], belonging to the family of Aemad; and El Kharroub [Arabic],
belonging to the Djonbelat.

In 1811, the Druses of Djebel Ala, between Ladakie and Antioch, were
driven from their habitations by Topal Aly, the governor of Djissr
Shogher, whose troops committed the most horrible cruelties. Upwards of
fifteen hundred families fled to their countrymen in the Libanus, where
they were received with great hospitality; upwards of two hundred purses
were collected for their relief, and the Djonbelat assigned to them
convenient dwellings in different parts of the mountain. Some of them
retired into the Haouran.

March 21st.--It was with difficulty that I got away from Beteddein. The
Emir seemed to take great pleasure in conversing with me, as we spoke in
Arabic, which made him much freer than he would have been, had he had to
converse through the medium of an interpreter. He wished me to stay a
few days longer, and to go out a hunting with him; but I was anxious to
reach Damascus, and feared that the rain and snow would make the road
over the mountain impassable; in this I was not mistaken, having
afterwards found that if I had tarried a single day longer I should have
been obliged to return along the great road by the way of Beirout. The
Emir sent one of his horsemen to accompany me,


[p.206] and we set out about mid-day. Half an hour from Beteddein is the
village Ain el Maszer [Arabic], with a spring and many large walnut
trees. To the left, on the right bank of the Nahr el Kadhi, higher in
the mountain, are the villages Medjelmoush [Arabic] and Reshmeyia
[Arabic]. At one hour is the village Kefrnebra [Arabic], belonging to
the Yezdeky, under the command of Abou Salma, one of their principal
Sheikhs. The road lies along the mountain, gradually ascending. At one
hour and a quarter are the two villages Upper and Lower Beteloun
[Arabic] One hour and three quarters, the village Barouk [Arabic], and
near it the village Ferideis [Arabic]; these are the chief residence of
the Yezdeky, and the principal villages in the district of Barouk. They
are situated on the wild banks of the torrent Barouk, whose source is
about one hour and a half distant. The Sheikh Beshir has conducted a
branch of it to his new palace at Mokhtar; the torrent falls into the
sea near Saida. From Barouk the road ascends the steep side of the
higher region of the mountain called Djebel Barouk; we were an hour and
a half in ascending; the summit was covered with snow, and a thick fog
rested upon it: and had it not been for the footsteps of a man who had
passed a few hours before us we should not have been able to find our
way. We several times sunk up to our waists in the snow, and on reaching
the top we lost the footsteps, when discovering a small rivulet running
beneath the snow, I took it as our guide, and although the Druse was in
despair, and insisted on returning, I pushed on, and after many falls
reached the plain of the Bekaa, at the end of two hours from the summit;
I suppose the straight road to be not more than an hour and quarter. The
rivulet by which we descended is called Wady Dhobbye [Arabic]. We had no
sooner entered the plain than it began to snow again, and it continued
to rain and snow for several days. Small caravans


[p.207] from Deir el Kammar to Damascus pass the mountain even in
winter; but to prevent the sharp hoofs of the mules from sinking deep
into the snow, the muleteers are accustomed in the difficult places to
spread carpets before them as they pass.

We reached the plain near a small village, inhabited only during the
seed time. From thence the village of Djob Djennein bore S. by E. and
the village of Andjar, in the upper part of the Bekaa, which I visited
in the year 1810, from Zahle, E.N.E. From the foot of the mountain we
were one hour in reaching the bridge over the Liettani, which has been
lately repaired by the Emir Beshir, who has also built a Khan near it,
for the accommodation of travellers. At twenty minutes from the bridge
lies the village Djob Djennein [Arabic], one of the principal villages
of the Bekaa; it is situated on the declivity of the Anti-Libanus, where
that mountain begins to form part of the Djebel Essheikh. The Anti-
Libanus here advances a little into the valley, which from thence takes
a more western course.

The Emir Beshir has seven or eight villages about Djob Djennein, which
together with the latter are his own property; but the whole Bekaa,
since Soleiman succeeded to the Pashalik of Damascus in 1810, is also
under his command. The villages to the north of Djob Djennein will be
found enumerated in another place;[See page 31.] those to the south of
it, and farther down in the valley, are Balloula [Arabic], El Medjdel
[Arabic], Hammara [Arabic], Sultan Yakoub, [Arabic] El Beiry [Arabic], El
Refeidh [Arabic], Kherbet Kanafat [Arabic], Ain Arab [Arabic], and Leila
[Arabic]. Having one of the Emir Beshir's men with me, I was treated
like a great man in the house of the Sheikh of Djob Djennein; this I may
be allowed to mention, as it is the only instance of my receiving such
honours during my travels in Syria.


[p.208] March 22nd.--Caravans reckon two days journey between Djob
Djennein and Damascus; but as I was tolerably well mounted, and my guide
was on a good mare of the Emir Beshir's, I resolved on reaching it in
one day; we therefore pursued our route at a brisk walk and sometimes at
a trot. We crossed the plain obliquely, having the projection of the
Anti-Libanus, which ends at Djob Djennein, on our right. At thirty-five
minutes from Djob Djennein, to the right, is the village Kamel el Louz
[Arabic], where are many ancient caves in the rocky mountain which rises
behind it. In three quarters of an hour we reached the foot of the Anti-
Libanus. On the summit of the mountain on our left, I observed a
singular rock called Shekeik el Donia [Arabic], or Hadjar el Konttara
[Arabic]; my guide told me that the time would certainly arrive when
some Frank nation would invade this country, and that on reaching this
rock they would be completely routed. After a short ascent the road lies
through a narrow plain, and then up another Wady, in the midst of which
is the village of Ayty [Arabic], two hours distant from Djob Djennein;
it belongs to Sheikh Hassan, the brother of Sheikh Beshir, a very rich
Druse, who is as avaricious as the latter is generous; he has however
built a Khan here for the accommodation of travellers. There is a fine
spring in the village; the inhabitants manufacture coarse earthen ware
[Arabic], with which they supply Damascus.

At the end of two hours and three quarters we reached the summit of the
Anti-Libanus, where the heavy rains had already melted the greater part
of the snow; here are some stunted oaks, and numerous springs. In three
hours and a quarter we descended into a fine plain watered by the Wady
Halloue [Arabic], which we followed into a narrow valley, and on issuing
from it passed a ruined Khan, with a spring, called Khan Doumas
[Arabic], which is five hours and a quarter from Djob Djennein. We left


[p.209] village Doumas, which is half an hour from the Khan on our
right, and at the end of six hours reached a high uneven plain, situated
between the Anti Libanus and the chain of hills which commence near
Katana; the plain is called Szakhret el Sham [Arabic]. Seven hours and a
half, the ruined Khan Meylesoun [Arabic]. Eight hours and a half brought
us to the termination of the Szakhret, from which we descended into the
Ghouta, or plain of Damascus. At nine hours, the village Mezze [Arabic],
among the gardens of Damascus; and at the end of nine hours and three
quarters we entered the city, which is generally reckoned fourteen hours
journey from Djob Djennein.


Between Kesrouan and Zahle, I am informed that in the mountain, about
six hours from the latter, are the ruins of an ancient city called
Fakkra or Mezza. Large blocks of stone, some remains of temples, and
several Greek inscriptions are seen there.

Between Akoura and Baalbec is a road cut in the rock, with several long
Greek inscriptions, and near the source of the rivulet of Afka, near
Akoura, are the ruins of an ancient building, which I unfortunately did
not see during my passage through that village in 1810, although I
enquired for them.

[p. 211]






In returning to Damascus, it was my intention to obtain some further
knowledge of the Haouran, and to extend my journey over the mountains to
the south of Damascus, where I wished to explore the ruins of Djerash
(Gerasa) and of Amman (Philadelphia) in the ancient Decapolis, which M.
Seetzen had discovered in his journey from Damascus to Jerusalem. An
unexpected change in the government of Damascus obliged me to protract
my stay in that city for nearly a month. The news had just been received
of the dismissal of Soleiman Pasha, and it was necessary for me, before
I set off, to ascertain whether the country would yield quietly to the
command of the new Pasha; for, if rebel parties started up, and
submission became doubtful, the traveller would run great hazards, would
be unable to derive any advantage from the protection of the government,
and would be obliged to force his way by the means of endless presents
to the provincial chiefs.

As soon as I was satisfied of the tranquil state of the Pashalik, I set
out for the Haouran. I took with me a Damascene, who had been seventeen
times to Mekka, who was well acquainted with the


[p.212]Bedouins, inured to fatigue, and not indisposed to favour my
pursuits; I had indeed reason to be contented with my choice of this
man, though he was of little further use to me than to take care of my
horse, and to assist in intimidating the Arabs, by some additional fire-

We left Damascus on the morning of the 21st of April, 1812; and as my
first steps were directed towards those parts of the Ledja which I had
not visited during my first tour, we took the road of El Kessoue, Deir
Ali, and El Merdjan, to the description of which in my former journal I
may here add the following particulars: The N.E. part of Djebel Kessoue
is called Djebel Aadelye [Arabic]. From Kessoue our road bore S.S.E. In
one hour and a quarter from that place we passed the small village
called Haush el Madjedye [Arabic]; Haush being an appellation applied to
small villages enclosed by a wall, or rather to those whose houses join,
so as to present by their junction a defence against the Arab robbers.
The entrance to the Haush is generally through a strong wooden gate,
which is carefully secured every evening.

At an hour and three quarters from Kessoue is Deir Ali, to the north of
which, upon the summit of Djebel Kessoue, is situated the Mezar el
Khaledye [Arabic]; Deir Ali is a village inhabited by Druses, who keep
the Arabs in great awe, by the reputation for courage which they have
acquired upon many occasions. It seems rather extraordinary that the
Druses, the known enemies of the Mohammedan faith, should be allowed to
inhabit the country so near to the gate of the holy city, as Damascus is
called; for not only Deir Ali, but three or four villages, as Artous,
Esshera, Fye, and others, at only three hours distant from Damascus, are
for the greater part peopled by them. Numbers of them are even settled
in the town; the quarters called Bab Mesalla and El Hakle, in the
Meidhan, or suburbs of the city, contain


[p.213]more than one hundred Druse families, who are there called
Teyamene [Arabic]. In another quarter, called El Khereb, live three or
four hundred Metaweli families, or Shiytes, of the sect of Aly; of this
sect is the present Mutsellim, Aly Aga. The religious creeds of all
these people are publicly known; but the fanatism of the Damascenes,
however violent, is easily made subservient to their fears or interests;
every religious and moral duty being forgotten when the prospect of gain
or the apprehension of danger presents itself.

At three hours and a quarter from Kessoue is the village El Merdjan.
When I passed this place in 1810, I found a single Christian family in
it; I now found eight or ten families, most of them Druses, who had
emigrated hither from Shaara, a well peopled village in 1810, but now
deserted. They had brought the fertile soil round El Merdjan into
cultivation, and had this year sown eight Ghararas of wheat and barley,
or about one hundred and twenty cwt. English.[The Gharara of Damascus is
eighty Muds, at three and a half Rotola per Mud, or twenty pounds.] The
taxes paid by the village amounted to a thousand piastres, or fifty
pounds sterling, besides the tribute extorted by the Bedouins. The
vicinity of the village is watered by several springs. I was obliged to
remain at Merdjan the next day, because my mare fell ill, and was unable
to proceed. As I did not like to return to Damascus, I bought a mare of
the Sheikh of the village, a Christian of Mount Libanus, who knew me,
and who took a bill upon Damascus in payment. This mare I afterwards
bartered for a Bedouin horse.

April 23d.--I left Merdjan to examine the eastern limits of the Ledja.
We passed the Aamoud Eszoubh [Arabic], or Column of the Morning, an
insulated pillar standing in the plain; it is formed


[p.214]of the black stone of the Ledja, about twenty-five or thirty feet
high, of the Ionic order, and with a high pedestal. I had been told that
there were some inscriptions upon it, but I did not find any. The column
is half an hour distant from Merdjan, to the eastward of south. Round
the column are fragments of three or four others, which appear to have
formed a small temple. The remains of a subterraneous aqueduct,
extending from the village towards the spot where the column stands, are
yet visible. In one hour from thence we passed a ruined village called
Beidhan [Arabic], with a saltpetre manufactory. Two hours from Merdjan
is Berak [Arabic], bearing from it S.E.b.E. Our road lay over a low
plain between the Djebel Kessoue and the Ledja, in which the Bedouins of
the latter were pasturing their cattle. Berak is a ruined town, situated
on the N.E. corner of the Ledja; there is no large building of any
consequence here; but there are many private habitations. Here are two
saltpetre manufactories, in which the saltpetre is procured by boiling
the earth dug up among the ruins of the town; saline earth is also dug
up in the neighbouring plain; in finding the productive spots, they are
guided by the appearance of the ground in the morning before sunrise,
and wherever it then appears most wet with dew the soil beneath is found
impregnated with salt. The two manufactures produce about three Kantars,
or fifteen or sixteen quintals per month of saltpetre, which is sold at
about fifteen shillings per quintal. The boilers of these manufactories
are heated by brush-wood brought from the desert, as there is little
wood in the Ledja, about Berak. The whole of the Loehf, or limits of the
Ledja, is productive of saltpetre, which is sold at Damascus and Acre; I
saw it sold near the lake of Tiberias for double the price which it
costs in the Loehf. In the interior of a house among the ruins of Berak,
I saw the following inscription:


[Greek] ["The tenth of Peritius of the eighth year." Peritius was one of
the Macedonian months, the use of which was introduced into Syria by the
Seleucidae. It answered to the latter part of December and beginning of
January. Ed.].

On the outside wall of a house, in another part of the town, was the

[Greek] [[GREEK] Apellaeus was another Macedonian month, and answered to
half October and half November. This inscription is within a tablet of
the usual form. Ed].

Berak, like most of the ancient towns of the Ledja, has a large stone
reservoir of water. Between these ruins and Missema lies the ruined city
Om Essoud [Arabic], in the Loehf.

Djebel Kessoue runs out in a S.E. direction as far as the N.E. limits of
the Ledja, and consists of the same kind of rock as that district. The
other branch of it, or Djebel Khiara, extends towards Shaara. One hour
S.W. from Berak, in the Ledja, are the ruins of a tower called Kaszr
Seleitein [Arabic], with a ruined village near it. An Arab enumerated to
me the following names of ruined cities and villages in the Ledja, which
may be added to those mentioned in my former journal: Emseyke [Arabic],
El Wyr


[p.216] [Arabic], Djedl [Arabic], Essemeyer [Arabic], Szour [Arabic],
Aasem Ezzeitoun [Arabic], Hamer [Arabic], Djerrein [Arabic], Dedjmere
[Arabic], El Aareis [Arabic] El Kastall [Arabic], Bord [Arabic], Kabbara
[Arabic], El Tof [Arabic], Etteibe [Arabic], Behadel [Arabic], El Djadj
[Arabic], Szomeith [Arabic], El Kharthe [Arabic], Harran [Arabic],
Djeddye [Arabic], Serakhed [Arabic], Deir [Arabic], Dami [Arabic],
Aahere [Arabic], Om el Aalek [Arabic], Moben el Beit [Arabic], Deir
Lesmar [Arabic].

I engaged a man at Berak to conduct me along the Loehf, or limits of the
Ledja; this eastern part is called El Lowa, from the Wady Lowa [Arabic],
a winter torrent which descends from Djebel Haouran, and flows along the
borders of the Ledja, filling in its course the reservoirs of all the
ancient towns situated there; it empties itself into the Bahret el
Merdj, or marshy ground at seven or eight hours east of Damascus, where
the rivers of Damascus also are lost. Our road was S.S.E. In one hour
from Berak we passed the Lowa, near a ruined bridge, where the Wady
takes a more eastern direction. Some water remained in pools in
different places in the Wady, the rains having been very copious during
the winter season. In an hour and a half we passed Essowara [Arabic], a
ruined town on our right; we travelled along the fertile plain that
skirts the rocky surface of the Ledja, which at two hours took a more
southern direction. On our right was El Hazzem [Arabic], a ruined town;
and a little farther, Meharetein [Arabic], also in ruins. All these
towns are on the borders of the Ledja. Their inhabitants formerly
cultivated the fields watered by the Lowa, of which the stone enclosures
are still visible in some places. At three hours is El Khelkhele
[Arabic], a ruined town, where we slept, in the house of the owner of a
saltpetre manufactory.

The Wady Lowa in some places approaches close to the Ledja, and in
others advances for a mile into the plain; its banks were covered with
the most luxuriant herbage, of which little use is


[p.217]made; the Arabs of the Ledja being afraid to pass beyond its
limits, from the almost continual state of warfare in which they live
with the powerful tribe of Aeneze, and the government of Damascus; while
the Aeneze, on the other hand, are shy of approaching too near the
Ledja, from fear of the nightly robberies, and of the fire-arms of the
Arabs who inhabit it. The labourers in the saltpetre manufactories are
Druses, whose reputation for individual courage, and national spirit,
keeps the Arabs at a respectful distance.

April 24th.--Khelkhele, like all the ancient towns in the Haouran, is
built entirely with stone. I did not observe any public edifice of
importance in the towns of the Lowa; there are some towers of moderate
height, which seem to have been the steeples of churches; and a few
houses are distinguished from the rest by higher arches in the
apartments, and a few rude carvings over their doors. From Khelkhele,
S.E. about two hours distant, is a high Tel in the plain; it is called
Khaledie [Arabic], and has the ruins of a town on its top; nearly
joining to it are the most northern projections of Djebel Haouran, which
are distinguished on this side by a chain of low hillocks. To the E. of
Khelkhele, about four hours, stands the Tel el Aszfar [Arabic], farther
E. the ruined village of Djoh Ezzerobe [Arabic], and still further E.
about nine or ten hours, from Khelkhele, the ruined village El Kasem
[Arabic], near which is a small rivulet. In the direction of Tel el
Khaledie, and to the S.E. of it, are the ruined villages of Bezeine
[Arabic], and Bezeinat [Arabic].

The direction of our route from Khelkhele was sometimes S.E. sometimes
S. following the windings of the Ledja and the Lowa. At half an hour is
the ruined village Dsakeir [Arabic], in the Ledja, which here turns to
the E. in the direction of Tel Shiehhan. On its S.E. corner stands the
ruined town Sowarat el Dsakeir [Arabic],


[p.218] where we found a party of Arabs Szolout encamped, with whom we
breakfasted. In one hour and a quarter we passed Redheimy [Arabic],
where the ground was covered with remains of ancient enclosures. One
hour and a half, El Hadher [Arabic]; one hour and three quarters, El
Laheda [Arabic]; two hours, Omten [Arabic]; two hours and a half,
Meraszrasz [Arabic]; three hours, Om Haretein [Arabic]; three hours and
a half, Essammera [Arabic]. All the above villages and towns are in
ruins, and prove the once-flourishing state of the Ledja. In four hours
we reached Om Ezzeitoun [Arabic], a village inhabited by Druses. The
advantages of a Wady like the Lowa are incalculable in these countries,
where we always find that cultivation follows the direction of the
winter torrents, as it follows the Nile in Egypt. There are not many
Wadys in this country which inundate the land; but the inhabitants make
the best use of the water to irrigate their fields after the great rains
have ceased. Springs are scarce, and it is from the Wadys that the
reservoirs are filled which supply both men and cattle with water, till
the return of the rainy season. It is from the numerous Wadys which rise
in the Djebel Haouran that the population of the Haouran derives its
means of existence, and the success of its agriculture.

Om Ezzeitoun is inhabited by thirty or forty families. It appears, by
the extent of its ruins, to have been formerly a town of some note. I
here copied several inscriptions.

Upon a broken stone in the wall of a public building over the great
reservoir of the town, was the following:


[p.219] [Greek].

The only ancient building of any consequence is a small temple, of which
an arch of the interior, and the gate, only remain; on each side of the
latter are niches, between which and the gate are these inscriptions:


The two last syllables are on the frame within which the inscription is


Upon a stone lying on the ground near the temple is the following:

[p.220] [Greek].[[Greek]. Ed.]

Upon a long narrow stone in the wall of a court-yard near the temple:


I had intended to sleep at Om Ezzeitoun, but I found the Druses very
ill-disposed towards me. It was generally reported that I had discovered
a treasure in 1810 at Shohba, near this place, and it was supposed that
I had now returned to carry off what I had then left behind. I had to
combat against this story at almost every place, but I was nowhere so
rudely received as at this village, where I escaped ill treatment only
by assuming a very imposing air, and threatening with many oaths, that
if I lost a single hair of my beard, the Pasha would levy an avania of
many purses on the village. I had with me an old passport from Soleiman
Pasha, who, though no longer governor of Damascus, had been charged pro
tempore with the government till the arrival of the new Pasha, who was
expected from Constantinople. Soleiman had retired to his former
government at Acre, but his Mutsellim at Damascus very kindly granted me
strong letters of recommendation to all the authorities of the country,
which were of great use to me in the course of my journey.

I left Om Ezzeitoun late in the evening, to proceed toward the mountain
of Haouran. Our road lay on the N. side of Tel Shiehhan,


[p.221]close to which runs the Ledja; and the Wady Lowa descends the
mountain on the west side of it. We proceeded in the direction of
Soueida, and in an hour and a quarter from the village stopped, after
sunset, at an encampment of the Djebel Haouran Arabs. My companion, and
a guide whom I had engaged at Om Ezzeitoun, persuaded me to appear
before the Arabs as a soldier belonging to the government, in order to
get a good supper, of which we were in great want, that of the preceding
night, at the saltpetre works, having consisted of only a handful of dry
biscuit. We were served with a dish of rice boiled in sour milk, and
were much amused by the sports and songs of the young girls of the
tribe, which they continued in the moonlight till near midnight. One of
the young men had just returned to the encampment, who had been taken
prisoner by the Aeneze during a nightly predatory expedition. He showed
us the marks of his fetters, and enlarged upon the mode of treating the
Rabiat, or prisoner, among the Aeneze. A friend had paid thirty camels
for his liberation. In spring the Arabs of the Djebel Haouran and the
Ledja take advantage of the approach of the Aeneze, to plunder daily
among their enemies; they are better acquainted with the ground than the
latter, a part of whose horses and cattle are every spring carried off
by these daring mountaineers.

April 25th.--At half an hour from the encampment is the hill called Tel
Dobbe [Arabic], consisting of a heap of ruins, with a spring. To the
N.E. of it, a quarter of an hour, is the ruined village of Bereit, which
was inhabited in 1810, but is now abandoned. The Haouran peasants wander
from one village to another; in all of them they find commodious
habitations in the ancient houses; a camel transports their family and
baggage; and as they are not tied to any particular spot by private
landed property, or plantations, and find every where large tracts to


[p.222]they feel no repugnance at quitting the place of their birth. In
one hour we passed Seleim, which in 1810 was inhabited by a few poor
Druses, but is now abandoned. Here are the ruins of a temple, built with
much smaller stones than any I had observed in the construction of
buildings of a similar size in the Haouran. On the four outer corners
were Corinthian pilasters. At one hour and a quarter, road S. we entered
the wood of oak-trees, which is continued along the western declivity of
the Djebel. One hour and a half, in the wood, we passed the Wady Dyab
[Arabic], coming from the mountain. One hour and three quarters, passed
Wady Kefr el Laha [Arabic]. At the end of two hours we reached Aatyl
[Arabic], a small Druse village in the midst of the wood. Here are the
remains of two handsome temples; that which is on the N. side, is in
complete ruins; it consisted of a square building, with a high arch
across its roof; two niches were on each side of the gate, and in front
of it a portico of columns, the number of which it is impossible to
determine, the ground being covered by a heap of fragments of columns,
architraves, and large square stones. This temple is called El Kaszr.
From a small stone in its precincts I copied the following letters:


On the outside wall of the temple is the following inscription in
remarkably fine characters.


On the S.E. side of Aatyl stands the other temple, which is of small
dimensions but of elegant construction. It has a portico of two

[p.223]columns and two pilasters, each of which has a projecting base
for a statue, elevated from the ground about one-third of the height of
the column, like the pillars of the great colonnade at Palmyra. The
columns are Corinthian, but not of the best time of that order. The
interior of the temple consists of an apartment with several arches
without any ornaments; but the gate is covered with sculpture. The two
pilasters forming the portico have inscriptions on their bases. On the
one is this:


Near the other pilaster is an inscription upon two broken stones, lying
near each other; these stones appear to have been formerly joined, and
to have formed part of the base of the pilaster, and the inscription
seems to have been a copy of the former. Upon the one I read:


and upon the other:


[p.224] [Greek].

Near the temple I saw a bas-relief about ten inches square, representing
a female bust, with hair in ringlets, falling upon the shoulders; it was
lying on the ground; but it was not of such workmanship as to tempt me
to take it with me. Upon the wall of one of the largest houses in the
village was a long inscription; but too high for me to read.

N.E. of Aatyl, about one hour, up in the mountain, is a ruined tower
called Berdj Mabroum [Arabic].

The tobacco of Aatyl is preferred to that of any other part of the
Haouran. I here saw a public woman, a Kahirene, who seemed to be kept at
the expense of the whole village; I was surprised at this, for manners
in the Haouran are generally almost as pure as among the Bedouins:
public women are not suffered, and adultery is punished by the death of
the woman, while the man is ruined by the heavy penalties exacted by the
government in expiation of his guilt. Last year a married Turkish woman
at Mohadje, a village in the Loehf, was caught in the embraces of a
young Christian; her three brothers hastened to the spot, dragged her to
the market place, and there in the presence of the whole community, cut
her in pieces with their swords, loading her at the same time with the
most horrible imprecations. The lover was fined ten purses.

From Aatyl I pursued my way one hour and a quarter S.S.E. to Soueida, at
a short distance from which are the remains of an ancient road. As I had
examined the antiquities of this village in 1810, and did not wish to be
seen here a second time, I passed on without stopping, in the direction
of Aaere, which is two hours and a half distant in a south-westerly
direction. In the plain, and at a quarter of an hour to the west of
Soueida, is the ruined convent


[p.225] Deir Senan [Arabic]. There is only a small Kurdine village in
the road between Soueida and Aaere.

April 26th.--I remained this day at Aaere, in the house of the Druse
chief the Sheikh Shybely Ibn Hamdan, where I alighted. The Sheikh
appeared to be greatly pleased at my reappearance. Since my former
visit, I had cultivated his friendship by letters and presents, which I
had sent to him from Aleppo, and by which he was so much gratified, that
he would have loaded me with presents in return, had I not thought
proper to decline every thing of that kind, contenting myself with some
very strong letters of recommendation from him to the authorities in
those places which I intended to visit. Shybely is the kindest and most
generous Turk I have known in Syria: and his reputation for these
qualities has become so general, that peasants from all parts of the
Haouran settle in his village. The whole of the Christian community of
Soueida, with the Greek priest at their head, had lately arrived, so
that Aaere has now become one of the most populous villages in this
district. The high estimation in which the Sheikh is held arises from
his great hospitality, and the justice and mildness with which he treats
the peasants, upwards of forty of whom he feeds daily, besides
strangers, who are continually passing here in their way to the Bedouin
encampments; the coffee pot is always boiling in the Menzoul or
stranger's room. He may now, in fact, be called the Druse chief of the
Haouran, though that title belongs in strictness to his father-in-law,
Hossein Ibn Hamdan, the Sheikh of Soueida. In the mosque of Aaere, a low
vaulted building, I copied the following inscription from a stone in the



[p.226]April 27th.--I now thought that I might visit Boszra, which I had
found it prudent to avoid in my former tour. Shybely gave me one of his
men as a guide, and we followed the road which I have already described,
as far as Shmerrin. At a quarter of an hour beyond Shmerrin, we passed
the Wady Rakeik [Arabic].

Boszra [Arabic], is situated in the open plain, two hours distant from
Aaere and is at present the last inhabited place in the south-east
extremity of the Haouran; it was formerly the capital of Arabia
Provincia, and is now, including its ruins, the largest town in the
Haouran. It is of an oval shape, its greatest length being from E. to
W.; its circumference is three quarters of an hour. It was anciently
enclosed by a thick wall, which gave it the reputation of a place of
great strength. Many parts of this wall, especially on the W. side,
still remain; it was constructed with stones of a moderate size,
strongly cemented together. The principal buildings in Boszra were on
the E. side, and in a direction from thence towards the middle of the
town. The S. and S.E. quarters are covered with ruins of private
dwellings, the walls of many of which are still standing, but most of
the roofs have fallen in. The style of building seems to have been
similar to that observed in all the other ancient towns of the Haouran.
On the W. side are springs of fresh water, of which I counted five
beyond the precincts of the town, and six within the walls; their waters
unite with a rivulet whose source is on the N.W. side, within the town,
and which loses itself in the southern plain at several hours distance:
it is called by the Arabs El Djeheir [Arabic].

The Nahr el Ghazel, which in most maps, and even by D'Anville, is laid
down in the immediate vicinity of Boszra, is unknown to the natives; but
I was afterwards informed that there is a Wady Ghazel in the direction
of Amman (Philadelphia), in the Djebel Belka, which descends from the

[p.227]and flows into the eastern plains, to the S. of Kalaat el Belka.

The principal ruins of Boszra are the following: a square building,
which within is circular, and has many arches and niches in the wall: on
either side of the door within are two larger niches, and opposite to
the door on the east side of the circle is the sanctuary, formed of low
arches supported by Corinthian pillars, without pedestals. Several
beautiful sculptured friezes are inserted in the wall, but I was unable
to discover from whence they had been taken; in front of the door stand
four columns. The diameter of the rotunda is four paces; its roof has
fallen in, but the walls are entire, without any ornaments. It appears
to have been a Greek church. Over the gate is a long inscription, but it
was illegible to my sight.

At a short distance to the west of this edifice is an oblong square
building, called by the natives Deir Boheiry [Arabic], or the Monastery
of the priest Boheiry. On the top of the walls is a row of windows; on
the north side is a high vaulted niche; the roof has fallen in; I
observed no ornaments about it. On the side of its low gate is the
following inscription in bad characters:


Between these two buildings stands the gate of an ancient house,
communicating with the ruins of an edifice, the only remains of which is
a large semi-circular vault, with neat decorations and four small niches
in its interior; before it lie a heap of stones and broken columns. Over
the gate of the house is the following inscription:

[p.228] [Greek].

The natives have given to this house the name of Dar Boheiry, or the
house of Boheiry. This Boheiry is a personage well known to the
biographers of Mohammed, and many strange stories are related of him, by
the Mohammedans, in honour of their Prophet, or by the eastern
Christians, in derision of the Impostor. He is said to have been a rich
Greek priest, settled at Boszra, and to have predicted the prophetic
vocation of Mohammed, whom he saw when a boy passing with a caravan from
Mekka to Damascus. Abou el Feradj, one of the earliest Arabic
historians, relates this anecdote. According to the traditions of the
Christians, he was a confidential counsellor of Mohammed, in the
compilation of the Koran.

To the west of the abovementioned buildings stands the great mosque of
Boszra, which is certainly coeval with the first aera of Mohammedanism,
and is commonly ascribed to Omar el Khattab [Arabic]. Part of its roof
has fallen in. On two sides of the square building runs a double row of
columns, transported hither from the ruins of some Christian temple in
the town. Those which are formed of the common Haouran stone are badly
wrought in the coarse heavy style of the lower empire; but among them
are sixteen fine variegated marble columns, distinguished both by the
beauty of the material, and of the execution: fourteen are Corinthian,
and two Ionic; they are each about sixteen or eighteen feet in height,
of a single block, and well polished. Upon two of them standing opposite
to each other are the two following inscriptions:

1. [Greek]

[p.229] [Greek].

2. [Greek].

The walls of the mosque are covered with a coat of fine plaster, upon
which were many Cufic inscriptions in bas-relief, running all round the
wall, which was embellished also by numerous elegant Arabesque
ornaments; a few traces of these, as well as of the inscriptions, still
remain. The interior court-yard of the mosque is covered with the ruins
of the roof, and with fragments of columns, among which I observed a
broken shaft of an octagonal pillar, two feet in diameter; there are
also several stones with Cufic inscriptions upon them.

Passing from the great mosque, southwards, we came to the principal ruin
of Boszra, the remains of a temple, situated on the side of a long
street, which runs across the whole town, and terminates at the western
gate. Of this temple nothing remains but the back wall, with two
pilasters, and a column, joined by its entablature to the main wall;
they are all of the Corinthian order, and both capitals and architraves
are richly adorned with sculpture. In the wall of the temple are three
rows of niches, one over the other. Behind this is another wall, half
ruined. In front of the temple, but

[p.230]standing in an oblique direction towards it, are four large
Corinthian Columns, equalling in beauty of execution the finest of those
at Baalbec or Palmyra (those in the temple of the Sun at the latter
place excepted): they are quite perfect, are six spans in diameter, and
somewhat more than forty-five feet in height; they are composed of many
pieces of different sizes, the smallest being towards the top, and they
do not appear to have been united by an entablature. They are not at
equal distances, the space between the two middle ones being greater
than the two other intervals. About thirty paces distant stands another
column, of smaller dimensions, and of more elaborate but less elegant
execution. I endeavoured in vain to trace the plan of the edifice to
which these columns belonged, for they correspond in no way with the
neighbouring temple; it appeared that the main building had been
destroyed, and its site built upon; nothing whatever of it remaining but
these columns, the immediate vicinity of which is covered with the ruins
of private houses. These four large columns, and those of Kanouat, are
the finest remains of antiquity in the Haouran. Upon the base of the
pilaster in the back wall of the temple is the following inscription, in
handsome characters:


Upon a broken stone in a modern wall near this temple I read:


[p.231] Upon another broken stone not far from the former is this
inscription, now almost effaced, and which I made out with difficulty:


The ruin of the temple just described is in the upper part of the town,
which slopes gently towards the west; not far from it, in descending the
principal street, is a triumphal arch, almost entire, but presenting
nothing very striking in its appearance, from the circumstance of the
approach to it being choked with private houses, as is the case with all
the public buildings in Boszra, except the church first mentioned. The
arch consists of a high central arch, with two lower side arches;
between these are Corinthian pilasters, with projecting bases for
statues. On the inside of the arch were several large niches, now choked
up by heaps of broken stones. On one of the pilasters is this


Upon a stone in the wall over the gate of a private house on the west
side of the temple, was the following, upside down:

[p.232] [Greek].

Over the gate of another house, in the same neighbourhood:


Among the ruins in the N.W. part of the town is an insulated mosque, and
another stands near the above mentioned Deir Boheiry; in its court-yard
is a stone covered with a long and beautiful Cufic inscription, which is
well worth transporting to Europe; the characters being very small it
would have required a whole day to copy it; it begins as follows:


Not far from the great mosque is another triumphal arch, of smaller
dimensions than the former, but remarkable for the thickness of its
walls: it forms the entrance to an arched passage, through which one of
the principal streets passed: two Doric columns are standing before it.

In the eastern quarter of the town is a large Birket or reservoir,
almost perfect, one hundred and ninety paces in length, one hundred and
fifty three in breadth, and enclosed by a wall seven feet in thickness,
built of large square stones; its depth maybe about twenty feet. A
staircase leads down to the water, as the basin is never completely
filled. This reservoir is a work of the Saracens; made for watering the
pilgrim caravan to Mekka, which as late as the seventeenth century
passed by Boszra. A branch of the Wady Zeid [See p. 105.]empties itself
in winter into the Birket. On the south side it is flanked by a row of
houses, by some public edifices, and a

[p.233]mosque; and on the west side by an ancient cemetery; the other
sides are open.

Upon a broken stone, in the middle of the town, is the following
inscription, in characters similar to those which I met with at Hebron,
Kanouat, and Aaere.


I now quitted the precincts of the town, and just beyond the walls, on
the S. side came to a large castle of Saracen origin, probably of the
time of the Crusades: it is one of the best built castles in Syria, and
is surrounded by a deep ditch. Its walls are very thick, and in the
interior are alleys, dark vaults, subterraneous passages, &c. of the
most solid construction. What distinguishes it from other Syrian
castles, is that on the top of it there is a gallery of short pillars,
on three sides, and on the fourth side are several niches in the wall,
without any decorations; many of the pillars are still standing. The
castle was garrisoned, at the time of my visit, by six Moggrebyns only.
There is a well in the interior. I copied the following from a small
altar-shaped stone lying on the ground within the castle:

[Greek]. [Legionis tertiae Cyrenaicae. Ed.]

The castle of Boszra is a most important post to protect the harvests of
the Haouran against the hungry Bedouins; but it is much neglected by the
Pashas of Damascus, and this year the

[p.234]crops of the inhabitants of Boszra have been almost entirely
consumed by the horses of the Aeneze, who were encamped on the E. side
of the Djebel Haouran.

From a broken stone in the modern wall of a court-yard near the castle I
copied the following letters:


In proceeding from the castle westwards, I arrived, in a quarter of an
hour, at the western gate of the town, where the long street terminates.
The gate is a fine arch, with niches on each side, in perfect
preservation: the people of Boszra call it Bab el Haoua [Arabic], or the
Wind gate, probably because the prevailing or summer breezes blow from
that point. A broad paved causeway, of which some traces yet remain, led
into the town; vestiges of the ancient pavement are also seen in many of

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