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Full text of "Syria, the land of Lebanon"






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Bequeathed 

to the 

University of Toronto Library 

by 

the late Theophile James Meek, 

Professor of Oriental Languages, 

University College, 1923-1952, 

and Head of the Department, 

1951-1952. 



SYRIA 
THE LAND 

OF 
LEBANON 



By LEWIS 0A8T0N LEARY 

The Real Palestine of To-Day 
Andorra, The Hidden Republic 
The Christmas City 
Syria, The Land of Lebanon 



SYRIA 

THE LAND OF 

LEBANON 



BY 
LEWIS GASTON LEARY, Ph.D. 

FORMIRLY INSTRUCTOR IV THE AMERICAN 
COLLEGE, BEIRUT, SYRIA 

Author of The Real Palestine of To-day, 
Andorra, the Hidden Hepuhlic, etc. 




NEW YORK 
McBRIDE, NAST & COMPANY 

1913 



Copyright, 1913, bj 
McBbidk, Nast & Co. 



Second Printing 
January, 1914 




Published, November, 1913 



\ 



AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED 

TO HIM WHO FIRST TURNED MY THOUGHTS 

TOWARD SYRIA 

MY FORMER PRECEPTOR AND ALWAYS 

LOYAL FRIEND 

GEORGE L. ROBINSON 



/ 



PREFACE 

Although Syria possesses a rare natural beauty 
and boasts a wealth of historic and religious interest, 
its fame has been so overshadowed by that of the 
neighboring Land of Israel that most travelers are 
content to take the easy railway journey to Baalbek 
and Damascus, and know nothing of the wild moun- 
tain valleys and snow-capped summits of Lebanon or 
the many ancient shrines of a country whose history 
reaches far back of the classic days of Greece. 

It Is therefore with great pleasure that I accede 
to the request of the publishers of my " Real Pales- 
tine of To-day " and supplement the earlier work by 
the present companion-volume on Syria; so that, 
though the books may be read independently, the 
two together may give a complete view of the lands 
of the Bible. 

The chapter on Palmyra Is from the pen of Pro- 
fessor Harvey Porter, Ph.D., of the Syrian Prot- 
estant College ; and for many of the hitherto un- 
published photographs I am indebted to other mem- 
bers of the faculty of that Institution. Grateful ac- 
knowledgment Is also made to The World To-day^ 
The New Era, The Sunday School Times, The Nexv- 
ark (N. J.) News, and especially to Travel and 
Scribner's Magazine, for permission to include ma- 



PREFACE 



terial which originally appeared in these publications. 

In the writing of Arabic words, my aim has been 
smooth reading, rather than a systematic translitera- 
tion of the numerous sounds which are not found in 
English. As an aid to pronunciation, it should be 
noted that the stress always falls upon a syllable 
bearing a circumflex accent. 

It will be seen that this book is written from a 
more intimate and personal viewpoint than the vol- 
ume on Palestine. I could not write otherwise of the 
country which was for years my own home and where 
to-day I have many cherished friends among both 
Syrians and Franks. In fact, I must write very 
slowly ; for every now and then I lay down my pen 
and, with a homesick lump in my throat, dream over 
again the happy days in that land of wondrous 
beauty which I still love with all my heart. 

Lewis Gaston Leahy 

Pelham Manor, N. Y., 
October 15, 1913. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I The White Mountain 1 

II The Left-Hand Land 6 

III The City of Saturn 26 

IV The Spirit of Olympia 44 

V Across the Mountains 60 

VI The Land of Uz 72 

VII The Earthly Paradise 88 

VIII The Port of the Wilderness .... 95 

IX The Riches of Damascus 110 

X The Desert Capital 128 

XI Some Salt People 144 

XII The Cedars of the Lord 163 

XIII The Giant Stones of Baalbek . . . .184 

XIV Hamath the Great 201 



THE ILLUSTRATIONS 

Evening in the harbor of Beirut . . Frontispiece 



rACINQ 
PAGE 



Along the coast north of Beirut 4 

Looking up the western slopes of Lebanon ... 5 

Lebanon soldiers 16 

Village of Deir el-Kamr l** 

Bay of Beirut and Mount Sunnin 26 

Pine groves of Beirut 27 

Bridge over the Dog River 36 

Procession in Beirut ^ 

Students of the American College 43 

Cape of Beirut viewed from Lebanon .... 49 

Old Bridge over the Barada River ^0 

Cascade in the Yarmuk Valley '1 

A caravan 82 

Damascus — a distant view 83 

Damascus — one of the more modern avenues . . 100 

A Syrian cafe 101 

Damascus — court of a private residence .... 112 

Damascus — Moslem cemetery 113 

Damascus — The Street called Straight .... 120 

Damascus — The Omayyade Mosque . . ... ... 121 



THE ILLUSTRATIONS 



Palmyra — General view of the ruins 
Palmyra — the Triple Gate . 
Funeral procession of the patriarch 
A summer camp in Lebanon . 
The Cedar Mountain . 
Source of the Kadisha River . 
The oldest Cedar of Lebanon 
Baalbek — the six great colunms 
Baalbek — the stone in the quarry 
Hama — the Orontes River 

Maps and Plans 
The railway from Beirut to Damascus 
Cross-section of Syria ... 

The Hauran 

The temples of Baalbek .... 



PA«« 

134 
135 

160 
161 
110 
171 
182 
183 
198 
199 



62 

64 

74 

194 



SYRIA 
THE LAND 

OF 
LEBANON 



Syria, The Land of Lebanon 

CHAPTER I 

THE WHITE MOUNTAIN 

FAR off on the eastern horizon the thin haze of 
an October dawn gently blended into denser 
masses of silvery white, which rose like dream 
mountains above the edge of the placid azure sea. 
The soft, ethereal shapes did not change their out- 
lines, however, as clouds do; and, as the steamer 
drew nearer to them, the rounded forms gradually 
took on an appearance of bulk and sohdity. These 
were no mere piles of morning mist, but the massive 
shoulders of the ancient, famous, glorious range 
whose strange silvery tint when viewed from afar 
caused it long, long ago to be called Lebanon — the 
" White Mountain." 

As we approached the shore, the sun rose into a 
sky of brighter blue than ever domed Italian seas, 
and great waves of color swept downward over the 
round white mountainsides. I have traveled since 
in many lands ; I know the beauty of Amalfi's cliffs, 
the rich tints of the southern coast of Spain, the 

[ I ] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

mystic alpenglow on the snow-clad peaks of Switz- 
erland and the delicate opalescence of the Isles of 
Greece ; but I have never seen — I never expect to 
see — another glory of earth which can compare 
with the wondrous coloring of the mountains of 
Lebanon. 

We watched floods of red and orange sweep across 
the lofty summits and then brighten into crowns of 
mellow gold. We looked into gorges tinged with a 
purple so rich and deep that the color itself seemed 
almost a tangible thing. Nearer still we drew, and 
at the foot of the mountains there came into view 
dark forests of evergreen and broad, sloping orchards 
set here and there with tiny villages of shining white. 
Then there appeared long lines of silvery surf and 
yellow sand ; and we skirted the northern edge of 
a rock-bound promontory to the crowded harbor of 
Beirut. 

The wording of the Old Testament might lead one 
to infer that Lebanon is a single mountain, and the 
modern Syrians also familiarly refer to it as ej-Jebel 
— " The Mountain." It is not, however, an isolated 
peak, but an entire range, which begins at the north- 
em border of Palestine and stretches for a hundred 
miles along the easternmost shore of the Mediter- 
ranean. The narrow coastal plain cannot be dis- 
tinguished at a distance. Straight out of the wa- 
ter the thousand summits rise in ever loftier ranks 

[ a ] 



THE WHITE MOUNTAIN 



up to the level profile of the central ridge, two miles 
above the sea. 

This " goodly mountain," which dying Moses 
longed to see, became to Hebrew poets the consum- 
mate symbol of all that was most strong and virile, 
most beautiful and enduring. The springs of Leb- 
anon, the forests of Lebanon, the glory of Lebanon 
— of these they dreamed and, in ecstatic eulogy or 
lofty spiritual hope, of these they loved to sing. 
" Thou art a fountain of gardens, a well of living 
waters, and flowing streams from Lebanon," ex- 
claims the hero of the Song of Songs. " The smell 
of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon." The 
bride, too, sings of her lover, " His aspect is like 
Lebanon, excellent as the cedars." ^ In more solemn 
vein, the prophets who spoke of the coming Day of 
Jehovah drew imperishable imagery from these north- 
ern mountains. "The desert shall rejoice, and 
blossom as the rose. . . . The glory of Lebanon shall 
be given unto it." ^ Israel " shall blossom as the lil}', 
and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. . . . They that 
dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall re- 
vive as the grain, and blossom as the vine : the scent 
thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon." ^ " The 
glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir-tree, 
the pine, and the box-tree together." ■* 

Toward evening I strolled out to the end of the 

1 Song of Songs 4:llf, 5:15. 3 Rosea 14:5, 7. 

2 Isaiah 35:lf. * Isaiah 60:13. 

£ 3 J 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

cape and looked for the first time upon what those 
of us who have called Beirut our home may be par- 
doned for beheving to be the loveliest prospect in 
all this beautiful world. From this point can be 
viewed eighty miles of a coast which in the time of 
Abraham had already seen the rise and fall of many 
a proud civilization. To the south is the ancient 
city of Sidon, thirty miles away, and the rocky point 
of Sarepta and, in the dim distance, the bold head- 
land of the " Ladder of Tyre." To the north, be- 
yond the gorges of the River of Death and the Dog 
River, is the River of Adonis, where the loves of 
heaven and earth were celebrated many centuries 
before there were Greeks in Greece. Still farther 
north, Jebail — ancient Byblos — disputes Damas- 
cus' claim to be the oldest of cities ; and thirty- 
five miles away the view of the coast is closed 
by the cape which the Greeks called Theoprosopon, 
the " Face of God." The Syrians, however, have 
named this Ras esh-Shukkah or the " Split-ofF 
Point," and say that it was torn away from the 
mountain and thrown bodily into the sea during the 
great earthquake of July 9, 551, A. D. In this land 
of fearful cataclysms, the story is quite possible of be- 
lief. 

At the west is the expanse of the " Great Sea." 
At the east, just back of the cape, are the great 
mountains. Everything along the shore of the Med- 
iterranean is warm, almost tropical in its verdure, 

£ 4 ] 



THE WHITE MOUNTAIN 



and resplendent in the orient hues painted by the 
Syrian sun. The lower slopes of Lebanon are soft 
with vineyards and groves of olive, fig and mulberry. 
Above the green orchards and white villages are dark 
pine forests, and somber gorges cut deep between 
smooth, swelling moorlands. Higher still the deso- 
late, lonely slopes are quite bare of vegetation ; yet, 
in the clear atmosphere, they seem as soft as if they 
were overlaid with bright velvets and shimmering 
silks. Last of all, the eye is drawn up to the sum- 
mits of Kenelseh and Sunnin, tinged with orange and 
purple in the summer sunset, and in winter covered 
with vast sheets of snow. 

From the tropics to the chill barrenness of the arc- 
tics — it is all comprehended in one glorious pano- 
rama. What an Arabic poet wrote of yonder tow- 
ering Sunnin is true of the whole range — 

" He bears winter upon his head, 
Spring upon his shoulders, 
Autumn in his bosom, 
While summer lies slumbering at his feet." 

But Lebanon is more than a splendid spectacle. 
There would be no Syria, no fertile mother of the 
olive and orange, no land of the long martial his- 
tory, no tale of ancient culture or modern enterprise, 
save for the Mountain, whose lofty peaks break the 
rain-clouds borne hither by the west winds and drop 
their precious moisture on the thirsty soil below. 

[ 5 ] 



CHAPTER II 



i 

THE LEFT-HAND LAND 



THE Arab geographer always faces towards 
the east. So the southernmost portion of the 
Arabian peninsula is to him the Yemen or 
" Right," and this northern district of ours is called 
esh-Shdm or the " Left-hand Land." The name 
Sunya or " Syria," an ancient corruption of " As- 
syria," is also, however, frequently employed, espe- 
cially by the Turks. 

As this territory is not a modern political unit, its 
limits are variously defined, both by natives and for- 
eigners. The whole country between Asia Minor and 
Egypt is often called Syria, and its inhabitants, who 
have the same language and customs and are of prac- 
tically the same — very mixed — blood, are known 
as Syrians. But from the historical viewpoint it is 
perhaps more exact to distinguish between Palestine 
and Syria, and confine the latter name to the terri- 
tory which lies to the north of the Hebrew boundary- 
town of Dan. 

Syria then, as we shall use the word, extends from 
the southern slopes of Mount Hermon to the Bay of 
Alexandretta, a distance of about two hundred and 

[ 6 ] 



THE LEFT-HAND LAND 



fifty miles. It is a long, narrow country. At the 
west is the Mediterranean ; at the east is the Syrian 
Desert ; within these boundaries, the width is never 
more than fifty miles. 

The wealth and power of Syria have always been 
found in its southern half — the country of Lebanon. 
Here the mountains are divided into two parallel 
ranges by the long valle^'' which the Greeks called 
" Hollow Syria." Between this valley and the Med- 
iterranean is Lebanon ; between the valley and the 
desert is the twin range of Anti-Lebanon.-^ The 
western mountains rise gradually toward their north- 
ern end, where they attain an elevation of over 11,- 
000 feet. The eastern chain, however, reaches its 
culmination in its southernmost peak, Mount Her- 
mon, which is 9,000 feet above the sea. On the 
coastal plain beside Lebanon lie the ancient cities 
of Tyre, Sidon and Byblos and the modem ports of 
Beirut and Tripoli. On a peninsula of fertility 
watered by the streams of Anti-Lebanon, Damascus 
stands between the mountains and the desert. The 
rest of Syria is made up of lofty summits, rocky 
gorges resounding with the tumult of cave-bom tor- 
rents, high wind-swept pasture lands and broad, 
fertile valleys slanting up between the mountains. 

The lovelorn SA^-ian does not sing dolefully of a 
sweetheart who " lies over the ocean." To him the 
typical barrier is not the sea. Beni uhenik ej-jebel 
1 See map, page 62, and cross-section, page 64. 

[ 7 ] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

runs the plaintive lament — " Between me and thee 
is the mountain," The country is more crowded 
with towering peaks than Palestine or Greece, but 
it is more fertile than either. No other region 
of equal size has such a variety of vegetable life ; 
no other land is more healthful ; and to those of us 
who have lived in the shadow of Lebanon, none is 
more beautiful. 

Syria, as we have defined it, includes one entire 
vUdyet, or province, of the Turkish Empire and parts 
of three others. Its extreme northern portion is in- 
cluded in the great Vilayet of Aleppo, which stretches 
far across the desert to Mesopotamia. Anti-Leba- 
non and most of Hollow Syria lie within the Vilayet 
of esh-Shdm, or " Syria." This important province, 
whose capital is Damascus, takes in all the arable 
land east of the Jordan as far as the southern end 
of the Dead Sea. The independent Mutesarrifiyet, 
or sub-province, of Lebanon is practically co-extcn- 
sive with this range, but touches the Mediterranean 
only for a few miles and has no seaport. Almost 
the entire coast belongs to the Vilayet of Beirut, 
which reaches from Mount Akra, a hundred and fifty 
miles north of the provincial capital, to within sight 
of the harbor of Jaffa and includes nearly all of Pal- 
estine west of the Jordan River. 

In the absence of any census, we can hardly do 
more than guess at the population of Syria. It 
is probably above two million. The Turkish resi- 

[ 8 ] 



THE LEFT-HAND LAND 



dents are for the most part government officials, and 
tliere arc few Jews outside of Beirut and Damascus. 
The mass of the inhabitants are descendants of the 
S3' rians, or Arameans, of Biblical times ; but the 
native blood has been mixed with that of many other 
races. It is scarcely correct to call these people 
" Arabs," except in the sense that they are an Ara- 
bic-speaking race. In countenance, as well as cus- 
toms, they differ considerably from their less civi- 
lized cousins who roam the neighboring deserts. 

The ecclesiastical bodies of Syria are numerous, 
jealous and extremely fanatical. In striking con- 
trast to the awkward reticence of the West regard- 
ing religious matters, every Syrian not only counts 
himself an adherent of the faith into which he was 
born, but he thrusts that fact upon your attention 
and, on the slightest provocation, is ready to fight 
for his belief. A man's ancestors, descendants and 
home may be cursed with all the wealth of Oriental 
vituperation, and he will probabl}' accept this as a 
mere emphatic conversational embellishment. But 
let the single word dinak! " thy religion ! " be spoken 
with a curseful intonation to a follower of a different 
faith, and the spirit of murder is let loose. 

Islam is, of course, the official religion of the gov- 
ernment ; but in the southern half of the country 
the majority of the inhabitants are Christians. The 
most powerful church is the Greek Orthodox ; next 
in importance come the Maronites and Greek Catho- 

[ 9 ] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

lies, who render allegiance to the Pope of Rome. 
Nearly a dozen other sects, exclusive of the Prot- 
estants, are actively working and hating and schem- 
ing in Syria. Many of the members of these Orien- 
tal churches are sincere and devout; but, on the 
whole, the organized Christianity of Syria, like that 
of neighboring Palestine,^ has been so inextricably 
entangled with political ambitions, sectarian jealousy 
and civil warfare that its moral and religious teach- 
ings are in danger of being completely neglected. 

Syrian Mohammedanism is also divided against it- 
self, though not to such a hazardous degree as is 
Syrian Christianity. Many villages in northern 
Lebanon are occupied by adherents of the schismatic 
Shiite sect. These Metawileh, as they are called, 
bear an unenviable reputation for their ignorance, 
dishonestjs brutality and, what is very unusual in 
Sj'ria, their lack of hospitality. They will refuse 
accommodations to a traveler and are accustomed 
to break the earthenware drinking-jug which has 
been defiled by the touch of a stranger. Still far- 
ther north there survive a few settlements of the Is- 
mailians, who during the Middle Ages were known 
as the Assassins — literally, " hashish-smokers." 
Their character is sufficiently indicated by the fact 
that the only thing they gave the Western world 
was the word " assassin." 

2 See further the author's The Real Palestine of To-day, 
chapter III. 

[ 10 ] 



THE LEFT-HAND LAND 



In the mountains which bear their name are a hun- 
dred thousand Nusairiyeh, who migrated hither 
many centuries ago from Mesopotamia and still hold 
to a strange, m^^stic nature-worship. Traces 
of the vile phallic cults of ancient Syria are also 
found among the wilder regions of the north. 

The sixty thousand Druses of central and south- 
ern Lebanon are frequently confused with the Mos- 
lems by careless writers ; on the other hand they are 
sometimes referred to as a Christian sect. As a 
matter of fact, they are neither. Although this 
faith originated among followers of Islam, the early 
Druses suffered many persecutions at the hands of 
the Moslems, who classed them as " infidels," while 
their feuds with the Christian populace of Lebanon 
have led to some of the most cruel and bitter strug- 
gles of modern times. 

In the eleventh century an insane ruler of Egypt 
named Hakim Biamrillah declared himself to be the 
Imam-, or incaraation of the Deity, and his preposter- 
ous claims found an enthusiastic prophet in a Persian 
resident of Cairo called ed-Durazy, from whom is 
derived the familiar name " Druse." The adherents 
of this sect, however, call themselves Mmcahhidin, 
or " Unitarians." Such was the wrath of the 
Egyptian INIoslems at el-Durazy's preaching that 
he was forced to flee to the mountains of Syria, 
where the new faith spread rapidly among the inhal)- 
itants of Hermon and southern Lebanon. Shortly 

["] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

after ed-Durazy's flight the caHph Hakim mysteri- 
ously disappeared. Doubtless he was assassinated; 
but the Druses believe that he is miraculously con- 
cealed until the appointed day of his final revelation 
as the victorious Mahdi. 

The peculiar doctrines of the Druses were S3^s- 
tematized by a companion of the prophet's exile, 
Hamzeh ibn Ahmed, since known as the " Guide." 
The tenets of this faith are still, however, only 
partly understood by Western scholars ; for its most 
important beliefs are kept in great secrecy, none of 
the women and only a very small proportion of the 
men are initiated into its esoteric teachings, con- 
verts to other faiths are practically unknown, and the 
Druses hold that, in conversation with a Moslem 
or a Christian, it is permissible for them to pretend 
acquiescence in the other's statements. 

Their extreme emphasis on the unity of God, whom 
they divest of all attributes, goes even beyond that 
of Mohammedanism. Yet this is accompanied by a 
belief in the divine self-revelation through a succes- 
sion of incarnations which began with Adam and 
ended with the Caliph Hakim and included Jesus 
and Mohammed. They also hold the doctrine of 
transmigration of souls and think that many of 
them will be reincarnated in the heart of China, 
where, according to their strange tradition, there 
are multitudes of Chinese Druses. They do not 
practice the Moslem virtues of prayer, fasting, 



THE LEFT-HAND LAND 



formal almsgiving and the pilgrimage to Mecca ; but 
the few initiates rigorously abstain from both wine 
and tobacco. 

Probably all that most Druses know about their 
religion is that they are Druses. Yet their feeling 
of separation from the other inhabitants of the coun- 
try, which amounts to a sense of racial difference, 
has made them the most proud and independent — 
not to say ungovernable — class in the Turkish Em- 
pire. The faces of the Druse men are the hand- 
somest and haughtiest in Syria, and their forms are 
tall and stalwart. They are a brave, intellectual, 
courteous, hospitable people ; they treat their wuves 
far better than do the Moslems, and in time of war 
they never massacre women. Some of the Druse 
emirs whom I have met are refined, correctly dressed, 
well-educated gentlemen who are as much at home on 
the boulevards of Paris as they are among their own 
mountains. Yet anything more than a superficial 
acquaintance with them is prevented by the suave 
hypocrisy which their religion inculcates ; their other- 
wise admirable courage is marred by heartless cruelty 
and a relentless carrying out of the ancient law of 
blood for blood ; and the splendid organization with 
which the}'^ meet the aggressions of an alien enemy 
is weakened by their interminable intertribal feuds. 
The history of the great Druse families of Lebanon 
is stained by many an awful record of treachery, 
fratricide and massacre. 

[13] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

In the summer of 1860, twenty years of inter- 
mittent altercations between the Druses and Maro- 
nites culminated in an outbreak of fearful religious 
warfare. The Druses were perhaps no braver than 
their opponents ; but they showed better discipline, 
had more able leaders and, from the beginning, were 
encouraged by the support of the Moslem govern- 
ment. So the war soon developed into a mere suc- 
cession of massacres of the unfortunate Maronites. 
Turkish officials connived at these outrages, and 
Turkish regiments, presumably sent to restore order 
in the troubled districts, either disarmed the Chris- 
tians and then turned them over to be dealt with by 
their enemies, or else themselves added to the horrors 
of the slaughter by killing even the women whom the 
Druses had spared. Maronite monasteries were 
sacked and their monks put to death with barbarous 
tortures, a hundred villages were burned, and multi- 
tudes of unarmed peasants who had sought protec- 
tion in the courtyards of government buildings were 
allowed to be shot down by their relentless enemies. 
It will never be known just how many Christians were 
slain during that awful summer. Seven thousand 
are said to have perished in Damascus alone ; and 
some conception of the vast number of survivors who 
were left homeless and destitute is gained when we 
learn that the Anglo-American Relief Committee of 
Beirut had upon its lists the names of twenty-seven 
thousand refugees. 

[14] 



THE LEFT-HAND LAND 



The Christian nations were shocked into activity 
by the terrible tidings from Syria. Fifty European 
warships soon reached the harbor of Beirut, and an 
army of ten thousand French soldiers was landed. 
Just in time to avoid foreign intervention, however, 
the sultan sent two of his own regiments from Con- 
stantinople to quell the disturbance, and shortly aft- 
erwards the grand vizier himself came to Syria with 
additional troops. These soldiers were but a hand- 
ful in comparison with the Druse army or even the 
Turkish regiments which had been assisting in the 
slaughter; but when the mysterious, unwritten mes- 
sages go forth from Constantinople commanding that 
a massacre shall be stopped — or shall be begun — 
they are understood at once In the most Inaccessible 
mountain villages of the empire. 

As soon as order was restored, the conscription, 
from which holy Damascus had been exempt since the 
days of Mohammed, was strictly enforced as a puni- 
tive measure ; and over twenty thousand Damascene 
Moslems were sent In chains to the coast, whence they 
were transported to regiments in distant provinces 
of Turkey. Furthermore, a levy of a million dollars 
was laid upon the city, and Its governor and a hun- 
dred prominent Moslem residents were hanged for 
their share In the massacres, as were also a few offi- 
cials In other parts of the country. Not a single 
Druse, however, was executed for partaking in the 
awful slaughter. 

£15] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



The European powers now insisted that there 
should never be another Moslem ruler over the Chris- 
tians of Lebanon, and such pressure was brought to 
bear upon the Turkish government that the district 
was made a practically independent province. Its 
governor must be, like the Maronites, a Latin Chris- 
tian, although, in justice to the Druse population, 
he may not be an inhabitant of Syria. His appoint- 
ment is subject to the approval of the six great pow- 
ers and he cannot be removed without the consent 
of their ambassadors at Constantinople. The prov- 
ince pays no taxes to the imperial government, nor 
may Turkish troops be stationed within its bound- 
aries except under certain stringent restrictions. 
Lebanon has its own army of volunteer militia; and 
the free, independent bearing of these mountaineers 
is in striking contrast to that of the underpaid, un- 
derfed and poorly clothed conscripts of the regular 
army. 

The rulers appointed under the new regime have 
not all been equally capable and honest. Some have 
understood the language of baJchsheesh as well as 
their Turkish predecessors. Tbe commercial 
growth of the province has also been hampered by 
the lack of a seaport. Yet since 1861 the moun- 
taineers. Druses and Maronites alike, have enjoyed 
an unprecedented quiet and an increasing material 
prosperity. The old feudal wars have ceased, the 
tyrannical political power of the Maronite hierarchy 

[i6] 




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3 




THE LEFT-HAND LAND 



is greatly diminished, education is rapidly advancing 
and the valuation of property in the Lebanon 
district has greatly advanced. In the words of 
Lord Dufferin, who was a member of the inter- 
national commission which framed the new plan of 
government, " until the present day the Lebanon has 
been the most peaceful, the most contented and the 
most prosperous province of the Ottoman Domin- 



ion." 



Yet the cruel past has not entirely sunk into ob- 
livion. The Maronite village of Deir el-Kamr, for 
instance, has still one mosque ; but no Moslem dwells 
there, nor dare a Druse pass through this neighbor- 
hood where the massacre of unarmed Christians lasted 
until more than two thousand corpses lay within the 
enclosure of the government-house. On the other 
hand, there are Druse hamlets where no Maronite 
would trust himself. Ten years ago, when Beirut 
was in one of its periodic tumults, five thousand Leb- 
anon soldiers, stalwart, brave and well-armed, en- 
camped just outside the city limits, waiting for one 
more anti-Christian outbreak — which fortunately 
did not come — as an excuse for wiping out the Mos- 
lem population. Looking across a deep gorge of 
Lebanon, I once saw a file of Turkish soldiers labori- 
ously making their way up the steep mountainside. 
They were seeking a murderer, so I was told, but a 
murderer of no common mettle ; for from his inacces- 
sible retreat among the cliffs he had sent to the gov- 

[17] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

ernment of Beirut a bold acknowledgment of his 
crimes, accompanied by the threat that whenever in 
the future- a Christian should be assassinated in that 
city he would immediately descend to the coast and 
take the life of a Moslem in exchange. 

On a stormy winter night I sat by the charcoal 
fire in a Maronite hut high up among the mountains, 
and heard read from a grimy, much-thumbed man- 
uscript a long poem which described the brave part 
played by that village in the struggles of fifty years 
ago. The sonorous Arabic sentences had almost an 
Homeric ring. Like the list of Grecian ships 
sounded the rhythmic roll of the local heroes of half 
a century gone by. And as the dull light of the fire 
shone on the circle of dark, bearded mountaineers, 
the grim lines of their faces showed that the valor of 
the village had not weakened with the passing years, 
nor had the wrongs of the village fathers been for- 
got. 

To the traveler, bewildered by strange customs 
and by peculiar waj-s of doing familiar things, this 
seems indeed a " Left-hand Land." The Syrian 
holds a loose sheet of paper in his palm and writes 
from right to left. Yet numbers are written, like 
ours, from left to right. In beckoning, the fingers 
are turned downward. To nod " No " the head is 
jerked upward, and added emphasis is sometimes given 
by a sharp cluck of the tongue. The carpenter 

£18] 



THE LEFT-HAND LAND 



draws his saw toward lilm on the cutting stroke. The 
oarsman Hkcs to stand up and face the bow of his 
boat. When digging, one man holds the handle of 
the shovel while two others do most of the work by 
pulling it with ropes. Except in cities which have 
felt European influence, it is the men who wear skirts 
or flowing bloomers, and the women who wear trou- 
sers. Keys are put into the locks upside down. In 
entering a house, the hat is kept on the head, but 
the shoes are removed. 

Grown men greet one another in public with em- 
braces and kisses. You see them walking along hand 
in hand, or smelling little nosegays. Yet these acts 
are not necessaril}' indicative of eff'eminacy. For all 
you know, these same fellows may occupy their lei- 
sure moments with highway robbery. The slightest 
diff'erence of opinion gives rise to excited vitupera- 
tion and off'ensive gesticulation ; but a blow is seldom 
given. When a Syrian does smite, he employs no 
halfway measures : he smites to kill. I only once saw 
a blow struck in anger: then a club four inches thick 
was, without warning, brought down with full force 
upon the head of an unfortunate boatman. 

In this topsy-turvy land, parents take the name 
of their first-born son, and use it even in signing 
legal papers. The gate-keeper at the American Col- 
lege, for instance, was never called anything but Abu 
Mohammed, " the Father of Mohammed." When a 
son is despaired of, the public humiliation is sorae- 

[19] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

times avoided by inventing one. It is quite possible 
that Abu Zeki or Abu Said has no children at all. 

The daughters of the family are often called after 
jewels or flowers or constellations ; yet, except in 
Protestant families, the birth of a girl is not an 
occasion for rejoicing. One father insisted on chris- 
tening an unwelcome girl baby Balash, which might 
be translated " Nothing doing ! " Another parent, 
who already had six daughters, was so disgusted at 
the advent of a seventh that he named her Bikeflfeh, 
" Enough ! " A Maronite proverb says, " The 
threshold mourns forty days when a girl is born." 
Nevertheless the lot of the Christian woman, even in 
communities where Christianity means hardly more 
than a political organization, is usually far better 
than that of her Moslem sisters. 

Surnames are very indefinite and shifting matters. 
If Musa has a son named Jurjus, the boy will nat- 
urally be known as Jurjus Musa. But the father 
will, of course, change his own name to Abu Jurjus. 
Many surnames are taken from occupations. Had- 
dad or " Smith " is here, as in every country, one of 
the most common. Others are derived from locali- 
ties. Hanna Shweiri is " John from Shweir," and 
Suleiman Beiruti is " Beirut Solomon." Real fam- 
il}' or clan names, however, are not uncommon, es- 
pecially among the aristocra :;y. 

As a man becomes more prosperous he will often 

[20] 



THE LEFT-HAND LAND 



drop his commonplace appellation in favor of a more 
dignified one, which perhaps revives an ancient but 
long neglected designation of his family. This easy 
putting on and off of names sometimes leads to con- 
siderable confusion. I once asked all over a moun- 
tain village for the house of a friend whom I had 
known in Beirut, and met with the most positive as- 
surances that no such person lived there. Fortu- 
nately I happened to remember that my friend's fa- 
ther was a baker. " John Baker ! Oh, yes, every- 
body in town knows him! But that other fellow 
you've been asking about — we never heard of him." 
The mountain boys, especially, used often to take 
new surnames when they came to college. Some- 
times they afterward exchanged these for still better 
ones. So a facetious professor greeted a returning 
student with " Well, Eliya, what is your name this 
year.'* " An exasperated inquirer, who had vainly 
tried to pin down a certain youth to a satisfactory 
statement of his chosen titles, finally exclaimed, 
"Now, tell me, what is your name.''" Then came 
the maddeningly irritating answer which so fre- 
quently tempts the Occidental to commit homicide, 
" As you like, sir ! " Another young man, who had 
narrowly escaped expulsion for his various misdeeds, 
decided to turn over a new leaf; so he came back to 
the college the next autumn with a different name — 

and made it good. The Syrian understands better 

[ai] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



than do we the full content of the divine promise of 
" a new name." ^ 

At first this seems a land of inexplicable contrasts. 
I could write of its ravaging pestilences so that 
one would find it hard to believe that Syria is 
notable for its healthfulness. I could record fearful 
massacres until the reader would think me foolishly 
daring for never carrying a weapon during all my 
travels. I could — quite truthfully — tell how a 
Syrian landscape lacks so many of the old familiar 
aspects of our home scenes, and give no hint of the 
glorious panoramas of this fertile, well-watered, 
bright-colored land — where the mountains sit with 
their feet in the Great Sea and their heads among the 
glorious clouds, while mantles of shimmering silver 
fall above their richly tinted garments. 

As is the land, so are its people ; not easy to un- 
derstand and justly appraise. They are cruel 
and cunning and prefer to destroy an enemy by 
a sudden rush of overwhelming odds rather than to 
meet him in equal combat. Yes, this is true of 
many of them; yet they have a childlike delight in 
sweet scents, bright colors, beautiful flowers and sim- 
ple games. Although they may live in poverty and 
squalor, they are very frugal and temperate. They 
are ignorant; but when the opportunity comes they 
study with a pathetic earnestness and an unrivaled 
quickness. At half-past three of cold winter morn- 

3 Rev. 2:17, etc. 

[22] 



THE LEFT-HAND LAND 



ings I used to hear a servant going the rounds of 
my dormitory to waken the young men, at their own 
request, so that they might spend four hours before 
breakfast at their books. Some of those same inde- 
fatigable students have since led their classes in great 
American and European universities. 

It is true that the Syrians nurse vengeful feuds 
for generation after generation. That is partly 
because family ties are so wonderfully strong among 
them. " I and my brother against my cousin ; I 
and my cousin against my neighbor," runs the prov- 
erb. When two brothers are in the same class at 
school or college, they seldom have other chums, but 
insist upon sitting side by side in the classroom, 
and during their free hours they wander about the 
campus with arms around each other's shoulders. 
If an elder brother goes away to make his fortune 
in some distant country, he never forgets the loved 
ones at home ; but year after year the remittances 
will come, until all the younger children have been 
educated or bave been brought across the sea to 
share in the opportunities of the new land of promise. 
A trusted American missionary had at one time in his 
possession no less than five thousand dollars which 
had been sent from America for the parents and 
younger children of a single mountain village. 

The ambition of the Syrian is as boundless as his 
daring, and his courageous persistence is a buttress 
to his splendid capacity for both business and schol- 

^[23] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

arship. The son of any laboring man may, for all 
one knows, become a high Egyptian official, a wealthy 
merchant of the Argentine, a French poet or the 
pastor of an American church. The " Arab " drag- 
oman of your tourist party may be the proud father 
of a boy whose learned works in choicest English 
you hope sometime to read, or whose surgical skill 
may be called upon to carry you through a critical 
operation. These are not fanciful possibilities. I 
have particular names in mind as I write ; and the 
tale of the bravely endured hardships of some of 
these sons of Syria who have made good in many a 
far-off land would match the romantic story of the 
early stiniggles of Garfield or Lincoln. 

The hospitality of the Syrians is no mere form 
or pretense, but a sincere, winsome joy in minister- 
ing to the poor and the stranger. Their courtesy 
is fortified by an invincible tact and a very keen 
knowledge of human nature. Their speech, the 
strange guttural Arabic which sounds so uncouth to 
the passing stranger, is one of the most beautiful, 
expressive and widespread of languages, and has a 
wealth of fascinating literature. Their religious fa- 
naticism is grounded in an intense, unshakable be- 
lief in the fact and the necessity of a divine revela- 
tion; and he who in the heat of a ferocious bigotry 
will kill his neighbor is willing, if need be, to die him- 
self for the faith, whether it be in open warfare or by 
the tortures of a slow martyrdom. 

[24] 



THE LEFT-HAND LAND 



The native ideals of truthfulness and business honor 
are not, to be frank, those of Anglo-Saxon nations. 
It is not considered very insulting to call a Syrian a 
liar. But even in the Western business world all is 
not truth and uprightness, and these men and women 
have an excuse which we have not. For centuries 
their land has been ruled by a government based 
upon untruth and injustice, and very often the 
only protection for life or property lay in evasion 
and deceit. The wonder is that, in spite of all, there 
are still so many Syrians who would swear to their 
own hurt and change not, and who boldly urge upon 
their people the eradication of what is perhaps their 
greatest racial shortcoming. 

In brief, with all his faults, which we of the West 
are apt to over-emphasize because they are not the 
same as our faults, the Syrian is frugal, temperate, 
ambitious, adaptable, intellectually brilliant, capa- 
ble of infinite self-sacrifice for any great end, essen- 
tiall}^ religious, generously hospitable, courteous in 
social intercourse and, to his loved ones, extremely 
affectionate and faithful. 

When to these admirable racial traits is added a 
sincere acceptance of the moral teachings of reli- 
gion, then, whatever his creed, the Syrian makes a 
friend to be cherished very close to your heart. 



[25] 



A 



CHAPTER III 

THE CITY OF SATURN 

" J^ ND behold, I am now in Beirut." Thus 
wrote Prince Rib-addi to his royal mas- 
ter, Pharaoh Amenhotep, thirty-three 
centuries ago; and when the Tell el-Amama Letters 
were sent from Syria to Egypt, about 1400 B. C, 
Beirut had long been one of the chief commercial 
cities of the eastern Mediterranean. According to 
a Greek tradition, it was founded in the Golden Age 
by the Titan Kronos, or Saturn, the father of Zeus. 
The tutelary deity of the seaport, however, was Po- 
seidon (Neptune), another son of Saturn, who is 
represented on its coins driving his sea-horses, or 
standing on the prow of a ship with his trident in 
one hand and a dolphin in the other. 

The authentic history of the city begins with 
the records of its conquerors. Rameses II. of 
Egypt and Sennacherib of Assyria commemorated 
their successful Syrian campaigns by inscriptions 
still existing on the cliffs of the Dog River, just 
north of Beirut. Centuries later, Alexander the 
Great marched his conquering army through 
the city, Pompey added it to the Roman Em- 

[26] 



THE CITY OF SATURN 



pirc, and Augustus visited here his son-in-law, 
the local governor. It was in Beirut that Plerod 
the Great appeared as the accuser of his two sons, 
who were thereupon convicted of conspiracy and put 
to death by strangling. Vespasian passed through 
its streets in triumphal progress on his way to as- 
sume the imperial crown, and in its immense amphi- 
theater Titus celebrated his capture of Jerusalem 
by a magnificent series of shows and gladiatorial 
contests. During the First Crusade, Baldwin, 
Count of Flanders and ruler of the Latin Kingdom 
of Jerusalem, wrested the city from the Moslems 
after a long siege and put its inhabitants to the 
sword. Seventy years later, the greatest of all Sar- 
acen leaders, Saladin, recaptured the city from the 
Christians. The names of the mighty warriors who 
since then have fought for the possession of this old, 
old seaport are less familiar to Western readers ; yet 
few cities have had for so many centuries such inti- 
mate association with the most renowned characters of 
history. There is a local tradition that Christ Him- 
self visited Beirut on the occasion of His journey 
" into the borders of Tyre and Sidon," and during 
the Middle Ages there was exhibited here a miracle- 
working picture of Him, which was said to have been 
painted by Nicodemus the Pharisee. 

The inner harbor, still known as Mar Jurjus or 
" St. George," is associated with what is perhaps the 
oldest of all myths. This took on varying forms 

[27] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

during the millenniums of its progress westward 
from the Euphrates to the Atlantic. We find it 
first in the Babylonian Creation Epic, which tells of 
the destruction of the chaos-monster by the solar 
deity, Marduk. When the Greeks took over the an- 
cient Asiatic mythology, it was Perseus, child of the 
sun-god, who slew the dragon at Jaffa and released 
the beautiful Andromeda. In the sixth century 
A. D., the exploit was transferred to St. George, 
whose victory over the sea-monster was perhaps an 
unconscious parable of the overthrow of heathenism 
by Christianity. 

St. George appears to have been a real person, 
who suffered martyrdom about the year 300, pos- 
sibly at Lydda in Palestine, where his tomb is still 
shown. Singularly enough, this Syrian Christian 
has not only been the patron saint of England since 
Richard CcBur de Lion came to the Holy Land on the 
Third Crusade, but is also a very popular hero of the 
Moslems. 

The historic character had, of course, nothing to 
do with any dragon, and it was only many centuries 
after his death that he became identified with the hero 
of the ancient Semitic myth, under its Perseus form. 
A mighty monster, so the story runs, had long terri- 
fied the district of Beirut, and was prevented from 
destroying the city only by receiving the annual sac- 
rifice of a beautiful virgin. One year the fateful 

lot fell upon the daughter of the governor. When 

[28] 



THE CITY OF SATURN 



the poor girl was taken to the appointed place, she 
knelt in prayer and besought God to send her a de- 
liverer. Whereupon St. George appeared in shining 
armor and, after a tremendous battle, slew the mon- 
ster, delivered the maiden, and freed the city from its 
long reign of terror. Whether, like his prototype 
Perseus, he married the rescued virgin, the story 
does not relate. We are told, however, that the 
grateful father built a church in honor of the val- 
iant champion and also instituted a yearly feast in 
commemoration of his daughter's deliverance. Dur- 
ing the Middle Ages, this was celebrated by Chris- 
tians and Moslems alike. Beside the Dog River can 
still be seen the ruins of an ancient church and a 
mosque, both of which marked the supposed locality 
of the contest ; and here also is a ver}"^ old well, into 
which the body of the slain dragon is said to have 
been thrown. 

The word Beirut is doubtless derived from the an- 
cient Semitic place-name Beeroth,^ which means, 
" wells," and throughout the Arab world such a des- 
ignation immediately calls up a picture of fertile 
prosperity. The triangular cape on whose northern 
shore the city is situated projects from the foot of 
Lebanon five miles into the Mediterranean and has 
an area of about sixteen square miles. This level 
broadening of the coastal plain appears in striking 
contrast to the country just north and south of it, 
iCf. Deut. 10:6, Josh. 9:17. 
[29] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

where there is often hardly room for a bridle-path 
between the cliffs and the sea. Beirut itself has a 
population of nearly 200,000, and within sight are 
many scores of flourishing villages. Indeed, with 
the possible exception of Damascus and its environs, 
this is the most densely populated, intensely culti- 
vated and prosperous district in either Syria or Pal- 
estine. 

The southwest side of the cape is bordered by 
great piles of sand, which is said to have been brought 
hither by wind and tide all the way from Egypt. 
Perhaps it did not travel so far as that; but after 
every heavy rain a yellow stream runs northward 
through the Mediterranean close to the shore and de- 
posits its sediment when it strikes the edge of the 
cape. The rapid shifting of these sand dunes under 
the influence of the prevailing west winds is a con- 
tinual menace to the city, and the surrounding or- 
chards would soon be overwhelmed if it were not for 
a series of closely-planted pine groves which, since 
the iSrst trees were set out here in the seventeenth 
century by the Druse prince Fakhreddin, have 
served as a barrier against the inroads of the wind- 
swept sand. 

Back of the dark line of protecting pines, millions 
upon millions of olive trees appear as one great mass 
of shimmering green. When Ibrahim Pasha, the 
Egyptian conqueror of Syria, looked down from Leb- 
anon upon the countrv about Beirut, he exclaimed 



THE CITY OF SATURN 



that three seas lay beneath him; the blue Mediter- 
ranean, the yellow waste of sand and the silvery sur- 
face of the olive forest which floods the fertile plain. 

Near the lighthouse on the point, where perpen- 
dicular cliffs rise two hundred feet out of the ^ledi- 
terranean, the storm waves have cut a number of 
lofty caverns. The water in most of these is so 
filled with fallen rocks that, except when the sea is 
absolutely calm, it is unsafe to take a boat into them ; 
but the series of deep, gloomy caves is a challenge 
to the swimmer. Beneath the surface of the crystal 
water can be seen huge boulders covered with bril- 
liant sea-anemones and sharp-spined sea-urchins. 
From the liquid pavement the roof arches up into 
the darkness like the nave of an old cathedral, 
or like some ruined palace of Neptune. Occa- 
sional ledges provide convenient resting-places where 
one can sit and watch the pigeons flying in and out, 
or listen to the twitter of the swallows and the chat- 
ter of the frightened bats. The caves sometimes 
harbor larger denizens than these. More than once, 
when swimming before them, I have been startled to 
see the dog-like head of a seal appear in the water 
close beside me. 

Slanting up into the walls of these caverns are 
narrow tunnels where the softer rock has been worn 
away by the seeping of the surface water from 
above. If one cares to risk losing a little skin from 
the elbows and knees, it is possible to climb many 

[31] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

yards up these steep, slippery shafts. One day, 
while walking along the top of the cliff, I came upon 
the upper end of a natural chimney whose formation 
appeared so unusually regular that I became curious 
to see what it might lead to. So I slid down twelve 
or fifteen feet and dropped into the ashes of a recent 
fire which had been built in the center of a cozy little 
cave high above the water. The rocky point of the 
cape, honeycombed with dark passages and secret 
hiding-places, is a favorite resort of smugglers, espe- 
cially on moonless nights ; and in the bazaars of the 
city you can buy many articles which have not been 
submitted to the extortions of the Turkish custom- 
house. While I was a resident of Beirut, the " king 
of the smugglers," who lived near me, killed three rev- 
enue officers who were interfering with his illicit 
trade. Bribery and intimidation, however, soon re- 
moved all danger of prosecution for his various 
•crimes ; and a few days later I saw him driving 
defiantly along the Shore Road in his elegant car- 
riage. 

Beirut has suffered so severely from earthquakes, 
as well as from besieging armies, that there remain 
no traces of very old buildings except some columns 
of reddish Egyptian granite. Only a few of these 
can now be seen above ground or lying under water 
at the bottom of the harbor, where doubtless they 
were rolled by earthquake shocks ; but from the fre- 
quency with which they appear whenever excava- 

[32] 



THE CITY OF SATURN 



tions are made, there must be a multitude of them 
scattered all over the site of the ancient city. 

Among the mountains just back of the cape are 
the ruins of a Roman aqueduct, which supplied the 
city from a spring in the valley of the Beirut River, 
six miles away. The ravine was bridged by a series 
of six arches, arranged in four tiers. The lowest of 
these had two spans ; the highest had twenty-five, and 
rose a hundred and sixty feet above the river-bed. 
On the west bank, the water was carried through a 
tunnel cut in the soHd rock of the mountainside. 
This opening is now filled with fallen stones, and of 
the aqueduct itself there remain only a few broken 
arches at the eastern end ; yet the massive ruin, rising 
high above the river amid these desolate, lonely sur- 
roundings, still suggests the wealth and enterprise 
of the centuries long gone by. 

During the last forty years Beirut has been abun- 
dantly provided with water piped from the Dog River 
by an English company. So pure is this supply that 
since its use became common the city has not known 
a single outbreak of cholera or plague, though the 
surrounding country has often been devastated by 
these diseases. One memorable year we watched a 
fearful epidemic creep up the coast toward us, curve 
inland round the edge of the district supplied with 
Dog River water, and then sweep back again to the 
seashore and continue its terrible journey northward. 

The Dog River was in ancient times known as the 

[33] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

Lycus or " Wolf " River. It is said to have received 
its present name from a marvelous statue of a dog 
set above the cliffs, which opened its stone mouth and 
barked lustily at the approach of a hostile ship. In- 
deed, to this very day a vivid imagination can dis- 
cern the likeness of a huge mastiff in a certain boul- 
der, now submerged in the center of the stream. 

The pass up its rocky gorge has been trod by 
many a great army. The well-preserved bridge 
which now spans the stream was built by the sultan 
Selim four hundred years ago; but a Latin inscrip- 
tion on the cliff indicates that a military road was 
constructed here by Marcus Aurelius as early as 
the second century, and on the sheer rocks at the 
left bank of the river are cut panels whose records 
far antedate the days of Roman supremacy. 
Ashur-nasir-pal, Shalmaneser, Tiglath-pileser, Sen- 
nacherib, Esarhaddon, Rameses — such are the 
strange sounding names given to the forms in bas- 
relief which still lift above the rushing stream the 
scepters of their long-vanished power. The boast- 
ings of Greek and Arabic conquerors are also found 
along this path of ancient armies and — what seems 
in such surroundings a weak anti-climax — upon a 
panel which originally bore one of the Egyptian in- 
scriptions now appears the record of the French ex- 
pedition of 1860. 

Four miles from the mouth of the Dog River, its 
principal tributary bursts from a cave which extends 

[34] 



THE CITY OF SATURN 



far into the heart of Lebanon. Within this are 
found stalactites of every shape and color, natural 
columns as large and almost as symmetrical as those 
of the Parthenon, enormous cathedral-like chambers, 
labyrinthine passages without number, deep icy 
pools, and cascades whose dull thunder reverberates 
through the dark depths of the mountain. With the 
aid of portable rafts, adventurous explorers have 
penetrated this wonderful cavern for nearly a mile; 
but at that distance there was no diminution of the 
volume of the stream or any other indication that 
they had come at all near to the source of the mys- 
terious underground river. The light of their 
torches but dimly revealed the roaring torrent cease- 
lessly speeding out from dark, distant channels like 
those 

" ^\^lere Alph, the sacred river, ran 
Through caverns measureless to man 
Down to a sunless sea." 

Although the Bay of Beirut opens to the Mediter- 
ranean at an obtuse angle, it is so well protected from 
storms by the long cape that it provides the safest 
anchorage between Port Said and Smyrna. I re- 
member only one tempest which blew so strongly that 
anchors could not hold and steamers had to leave the 
port for the open sea. The harbor is crowded with 
shipping of all sizes and shapes, from the little coast- 
wise barks and the queer, low Egyptian boats with 

[35] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

their one triangular sail to the great transatlantic 
liners which bring multitudes of tourists on cruises 
to the Holy Land. About four thousand merchant 
vessels clear the port annually. Since the dawn of 
history, Damascus has sent its exports hither by the 
ancient caravan road. For the past eighteen years 
there has been a railway across the mountains, and 
its recently completed branch to Aleppo will doubt- 
less attract more and more of the trade of northern 
Syria. 

The exports from Beirut amount each year to over 
$4,000,000. About one-third of this value is made 
up of raw silk; other important commodities are 
olive oil, licorice and fruit. The character of the 
chief imports is determined by the fact that the 
mountains are almost denuded of large forest trees. 
Immense quantities of timber, metal girders, fire- 
wood and petroleum must therefore be brought from 
abroad. The dependence of S3''ria upon other 
countries for the materials used in modern construc- 
tion was illustrated in the building of the American 
Girls' School in Beirut. The lumber came from 
Maine, the doors and windows from Massachusetts, 
the desks and chairs from New York, the clay tiles 
from France, the zinc roof of the cupola from Eng- 
land, and the glass from Austria. 

The cream-colored sandstone for this and a multi- 
tude of other structures was, however, quarried near 
Beirut. The stone makes a fine building material, 

[36] 



THE CITY OF SATURN 



as it is easily worked, attractive in appearance and 
very durable. But unfortunately it is at first quite 
porous, and newly-erected houses are dangerously 
damp until the rains of two or three winters have, on 
their way through the walls, first dissolved a certain 
amount of the stone and then deposited it in the in- 
terstices. So the Syrian proverb says, " When you 
build a house, rent it the first year to your enemy, 
the second year to your friend, and the third year 
move into it yourself." 

The traveler who journeys to Beirut from the 
west is naturally impressed by its scenes of Oriental 
life ; but to one who has come hither from Lebanon 
or Damascus or even from Jerusalem, it seems al- 
most a European city. Here is a French gas com- 
pany, an English waterworks, a German hospital and 
an American college ; here are post and telegraph of- 
fices, a harbor filled with shipping, and the terminus 
of a busy railway system. Four lines of electric 
tram-cars furnish quick transportation through the 
main streets to the attractive suburbs, and man}' of 
the wealthier residents possess automobiles. A score 
of printing-presses are at work and daily newspa- 
pers are sold by shouting newsboys. There are a 
dozen good hotels ; and well-equipped stores, run on 
European lines, are rapidly crowding out the tiny 
shops of the typical Oriental merchant. Gaudy bill- 
boards extol the virtues of French cosmetics, English 
insurance companies and American sewing machines, 

[37] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

phonographs and shoes, or announce the subjects of 
the moving-picture dramas for the coming week. 
Carriages throng the principal thoroughfares, the 
better class of citizens wear European costumes, and 
no passenger-steamship drops anchor in the harbor 
without being met by the red-shirted boatmen and 
suave interpreters of the enterprising tourist-agen- 
cies. 

To the casual visitor, Beirut seems therefore a very 
peaceable, matter-of-fact place. He does not expe- 
rience the feeling of half-confessed uneasiness which 
marked his strolls through the native quarters of 
other Oriental cities. Yet the busy every-day life 
of the seaport moves upon the thin crust of a seething 
volcano of hate, which all too often breaks out into 
murderous rage. 

The Moslem inhabitants are, of course, backed 
by all the power of the government, legal and illegal ; 
but they are much inferior in numbers and in wealth 
to the Christian population. Religious jealousy is 
therefore never far from the boiling-point. Any in- 
sult or violence offered b}" an adherent of the one 
faith to a believer in the other is the signal for a long 
series of reprisals and counter-reprisals, and there is 
always the possibility that these may culminate in 
general rioting and massacre. 

The morning I first landed In Beirut, the Christian 
watchman of the American Press was found almost 
literally cut in pieces. The assassin was absolutely 

[38] 



THE CITY OF SATURN 



identified by the print of his bare foot in a mass of 
soft mortar ; but, being a Moslem, the authorities 
quickly released him and, without any evidence what- 
ever, arrested a near relative of the dead man. The 
poor fellow had a perfect alibi, yet he was kept in 
prison until the family signified their willingness to 
have the police department refrain from any further 
investigation of the murder. This is a favorite 
method of procedure when a Moslem is guilty of a 
crime against a Christian. 

It used to be a rare week that we heard of no as- 
sassinations, and a rarer year that knew no general 
rioting. One winter there was a murder each night 
for six weeks. Christians and Moslems being killed 
alternately. So regular was the succession of repris- 
als that a friend whom I had invited to make an 
evening visit with me postponed the trip on the 
ground that " this is the night for a Christian to be 
killed." Frequent rumors would reach us of impend- 
ing invasions of the Christian Quarter by Moslem 
mobs, and more than once the portentous war-cry 
of Din! Din Mohainmed! —" The Faith! The Faith 
of Mohammed!" — rang in the ears of the terrified 
Christians. The morning I ended my residence in 
Beirut it was a prominent Moslem who was assassi- 
nated at the door of his own home. A few days aft- 
erwards, murderous mobs swept through the city 
chanting, " Oh, how sweet; oh, how joyful to cut the 
Christians' throats ! " The empty cai-tridges picked 

[39] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

up after the slaughter were of the make imported 
exclusively for the use of the Turkish soldiers at the 
government barracks. 

The undying religious hatred and frequent vio- 
lence do not, however, endanger the lives of European 
or American residents, and probably never will do so 
unless some insane mob should get quite beyond the 
control of its leaders. Islam has learned the power 
of foreign warships. It should also be added that 
the native Protestants are hardly ever molested, save 
by accident, during these internecine conflicts ; for 
the Moslems realize that this portion of the popula- 
tion never takes any part in religious strife. Even 
in the terrible summer of I860, when all Syria was 
drenched with blood, only nine Protestants were 
killed. 

During the past few months there has developed a 
new and unexpected phase of Beirut strife. Since 
the revolution of tlie Young Turks, a vigorous de- 
mand for political righteousness and even-handed jus- 
tice has, in spite of all set-backs, been growing stead- 
ily among every race and faith of the empire. In 
Syria the new ideals and hopes found expression in 
the organization of a " Committee of Reform," which 
demanded such elemental rights as the appointment 
of an Arabic-speaking governor of Beirut and the use 
of the vernacular in the courts of justice. Up to the 
present time, the governor has always been a Turk, 
and Turkish judges have understood the language of 

[40] 



THE CITY OF SATURN 



fcribery better than the Arabic pleas of poor men 
who appeared before them. 

Last spring the differences between the people of 
Beirut and the government became so acute that the 
city was put under martial law by the pasha, who 
also issued a proclamation dissolving the local branch 
of the Reform Committee and forbidding further 
gatherings of the citizens or discussion in the public 
press. Every newspaper of the city protested 
against these despotic acts by printing an issue 
which was absolutely blank, save that in the center 
of the first page there appeared the odious procla- 
mation. Since then the governor has been recalled 
and, on the surface, the city is more quiet. But the 
startling, unhoped-for feature of this latest contest 
is that — for tlie first time in the sanguinary history 
of Beirut — Moslems and Christians and Jews have 
for the moment put aside their ancient feuds, that 
they might present a united front to the aggressions 
of tlic tyrannical local government. Tliis spirit 
of union, even more than the desire for political re- 
form which gave it birth, promises a new era of peace 
and prosperity for the most progressive city of beau- 
tiful, blood-stained Syria. 

As has been said, however, the ordinary traveler 
sees no evidences of strife in the streets of Beirut. 
The largest and most conspicuous class of people 
whom he meets are not assassins or revolutionists, 
but students. This is no new thing, for the city has 

[41] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



long been famous as a seat of learning. From the 
third to the sixth centuries A. D., its law school was 
the greatest in the Roman Empire, excelling even 
that of the capital and numbering its students by 
the thousand. One of the three commissioners who 
prepared the Institutes of Justinian was Professor 
Dorotheus of Beirut. In the early Saracen centu- 
ries, also, the city attained much scholarly fame and 
sent forth many of the foremost authorities on Mos- 
lem law and doctrine. 

At the present day it is the greatest educational 
center in the Near East. Besides the schools main- 
tained by each of the native churches and the mosque- 
schools and government academies, and institutions 
supported — presumably for political reasons — 
by Italy and Russia, there are schools or colleges of 
the French Sisters of Charity, Sisters of the Holy 
Family, Ladies of Nazareth, Lazarists, Franciscans, 
Capuchins and Jesuits, the German Deaconesses of 
Kaiserswerth, the British Syrian Mission, the 
Church of Scotland Mission to the Jews, and the 
American Presbyterian Mission, not to mention a 
number of others which have been organized by pri- 
vate individuals of missionary and philanthropic 
spirit. The total number of students who are being 
educated along modern lines is over twenty thousand. 

Yet in this city of schools and colleges, if the 
stranger tells his coachman to drive to el-Kvlliyet — 
" the College " — he will be taken without question to 

[42] 



THE CITY OF SATURN 



an institution which is incorporated under the laws 
of the State of New York ; and a short visit here will 
show why this is acknowledged to be the college of 
Beirut. Upon a beautifully situated campus of fifty 
acres, twenty imposing stone buildings house the 
seven departments of Avhat is really a large, well- 
equipped university of eighty instructors and nearly 
a thousand students, with observatory and library 
and scientific laboratories and hospitals, as well as 
literary, dramatic, musical and scientific societies 
and its own printing-press and monthly magazine. 

Many important things are being learned and done 
at the Syrian Protestant College ; but what strikes the 
observant visitor as most admirable of all is the spirit 
of the institution, a spirit of thoroughness and man- 
liness and loyal fraternity and encouraging opti- 
mism. More than anything else in Beirut — yes, 
more than anything else in western Asia — the " S. 
P. C," as its students and alumni call it, stands for 
the best gifts of Western civilization and for a new 
hope which, lighted first in beautiful Syria, is al- 
ready beginning to shine on many a land far out of 
sight of heavenward-reaching Lebanon. 



[43] 



CHAPTER IV 

THE SPIRIT OF OL.YMPIA 

MOUNT LEBANON looks to-day upon such a 
contest as it has never seen before. Yet 
Syria has witnessed many struggles. From 
the time men first began to fight, this land has hardly 
had opportunity to learn what peace and quiet mean. 
There are people on the campus of the American 
College this afternoon who can remember when the 
slopes of the mountain ran with blood ; some of the 
best sprinters know what it is to flee for their lives, 
and even this week there has been killing on the 
streets of Beirut. 

The contest to-day, however, is a new thing under 
the Syrian sun. It is not the first time that athletic 
games have been held — there was a field-day as far 
back as 1898 — but this time the preparations have 
been of an unusual character. During the whole 
week, men have been busy rolling and marking the 
track and removing every stick and pebble from the 
football field. The classrooms have been emptied of 
all their chairs and benches, and the faculty commit- 
tee has erected four grand stands, seating over a 
thousand people. These will not begin to accommo- 

[44] 



THE SPIRIT OF OLYMPIA 



date all the spectators, however, and students living 
in dormitories that front on the athletic field find that 
they have suddenly become very popular among the 
ladies of the city. 

The football teams have ordered sweaters and shin- 
guards from England, and the Beii-ut tailors have 
been puzzling their brains over queerly shaped gar- 
ments for the sprinters. The medals on exhibition 
in the college library were struck in Boston espe- 
cially for this occasion, and bear on their faces the 
college emblem, a cedar of Lebanon. Besides the 
prizes for each event, the American consul will give 
a gold medal to the champion all-round athlete. 
Best of all, the governor of Lebanon has promised to 
attend and has sent his famous military band to 
provide the afternoon's music. When to these vari- 
ous good things is added the glory of a Syrian spring- 
time, and a campus set high on a bluff overlooking 
the blue Mediterranean, with ]Mount Le})anon rais- 
ing Its snow-capped summits high in the background, 
It Is an occasion and a setting to quicken the slowest 
pulse. 

To-day Is so full of excitement, however, that no- 
body thinks vcr}^ much of anything outside the ath- 
letic field. The governor's band has come early, 
with all kinds of Instruments, especially those which 
make a very loud noise. A tent has been erected for 
them in the center of the field, and over the tent is a 
little American flag. 'I'he East is always so incom- 

[45] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

prehensible and contradictory that it occasions no 
particular surprise that a Syrian mihtary band 
should be playing Sousa marches under the American 
colors. 

But it looks as if we had at last succeeded in mak- 
ing the East hustle a little. All Beirut seems to be 
crowding into the campus. It is almost a part of 
his religion for an Oriental never to do anything on 
time ; yet the grand stands are already full, and the 
soldiers stationed at the gate-house can hardly hold 
the crowds back long enough for the porter to col- 
lect their tickets. The scene is dazzling, dizzying, 
bewildering, like Coney Island and the Derby and the 
Yale-Princeton game all jumbled together. 

There must be at least five thousand strangers on 
the college grounds, and every color of the spectrum 
is here, especially the very brilliant ones. The mili- 
tary band, with their blue uniforms and red fezes, 
seem almost shabby and dull in comparison with the 
more garish coloring all around them. The seats are 
mostly filled with women, whose showy dresses are 
hideous individually and beautiful as part of the gen- 
eral color scheme. INIoslem harems are here with 
their weird veils, and there are many pretty Levan- 
tines in rich, inappropriate silks and satins. In 
Syria, however, the ladies do not monopolize the 
bright garments. Handsome young Turkish officers 
swagger along under yards of gold lace, merchants 
from the city are wearing their best and baggiest 

[46] 



THE SPIRIT OF OLYMPIA 



satin trousers and embroidered waistcoats and broad 
silk sashes, while the sons of Egyptian millionaires 
sport the elegantly fitting coats and tinted vests 
which now form the favorite costume of the streets 
of Cairo. The color spreads over the field and up 
the grand stands, with bright splashes along the sides 
of the dormitories. Long strips of red and white 
bunting flaunt the college colors ; American and Brit- 
ish and Greek and Turkish flags wave above, and the 
students' windows are decorated with their national 
emblems or class banners. 

Early in the afternoon an American tutor, while 
ushering the women of a Moslem harem across the 
campus, suggested, in rather labored Arabic, that 
they pass around the back of one of the dormitories 
so as to avoid the crowd. Imagine his surprise and 
consternation when one of the ladies replied, " No, 
thank you ; I'd rather go around in front " — and 
said it in perfect English, with just a suspicion of 
a Yankee twang! Who was hidden behind that 
black veil.? What foolish, tragic venture had 
brought it about that an American girl should dwell 
behind the latticed windows of a Moslem seraglio? 

But the students have no intention of being ob- 
scured by their guests. They are out a thousand 
strong, with their best clothes and their loudest 
voices. They represent every race and tongue and 
faith of the Near East, with here and there a stranger 
from Europe or South America. At first thought, 

[47] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



it seems as though they could never be amalgamated, 
even for an afternoon. Here, for example, are a 
dozen names, representing as many nationalities ; 
Hafiz Abd-ul-Malik, Neshan Hamyartsumian, Ah- 
med Zeki, Basileios Theodoropolous, Tahir Huseini, 
Carlos d'Oliveira, Aldo Villa, Mordecai Elstein, Em- 
manuel Mattsson, Joseph Miklasievicz, Eugene 
Faure, Emile Kirehner. As to religion, they are 
Moslems, Jews, Druses, Babites, and Christians of 
every sect. Some of the languages they speak are 
Arabic, Turkish, Armenian, Chaldean, Persian, 
Greek, Yiddish, English, Swedish, Bulgarian, Abys- 
sinian, Italian, Gennan, French, Portuguese, Span- 
ish, Polish and Russian. As to geographical distri- 
bution, they come from the Balkans in the north and 
from Baghdad, forty days' journey to the east; from 
a thousand miles up the Nile, and from New York 
and Brazil in the west. 

Probably no other institution in the world includes 
such a mixture of antagonistic peoples and religions, 
and, until quite recently, the members of each of the 
more largely represented races kept closely together. 
It used to be seldom that a Jew, for instance, asso- 
ciated with an Armenian outside of class hours. In 
the evenings the Greek students would gather in one 
another's rooms, or march around the campus arm 
in arm, singing their national songs. The Egyp- 
tians, most of whom were of very wealthy families, 
promenaded together, discussing the fleshpots of 

[48] 



THE SPIRIT OF OLYMPIA 



Cairo. Even among the Syrians, who have ahvays 
formed the majority of the student body, there were 
lines of division between the men from Tripoli in the 
north and from Sidon or Jedeideh in the south. If 
these groups are considered as being separated by 
latitudinal Hnes, there were also the longitudinal di- 
visions between Christian and Moslem and Jew ; and 
sometimes long-cherished feuds broke into flame and 
pitched battles took place on the campus. 

Not the least benefit arising from the introduction 
of American athletic sports has been a weakening of 
these ancient racial and religious barriers. The an- 
tagonisms still exist, strong and danger-breeding; 
but there has been a large advance made toward a 
more catholic college spirit. It would not be true 
to say that athletics has been the only cause, or even 
the chief cause of this change; for by precept and 
example, by religious instruction and social inter- 
course, the faculty are continually molding the char- 
acters of these young men. Yet it is true that in 
the case of more than one recalcitrant student whom 
no other influence seemed able to touch, the latent 
manliness has been brought out through his newly 
awakened interest in sports. 

Most Orientals are very averse to physical exer- 
cise. Their traditional idea of enjoyment is to sit 
under an awning, drinking coffee and playing back- 
gammon. That a man should go out and run 
around a track in shameless nakedness, and this 

[49] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

with no hope of gain, only strengthens their conclu- 
sion that all Franks are mad. The Syrians are an 
imitative people, however, and some years ago the in- 
fluence of the younger instructors tempted a few 
of the preparatory boys out for foot-races. But 
you cannot run a hundred-3'ard dash with long, 
baggy trousers and a silk robe which flops about 
your ankles. Even if you " gird up the loins " by 
tucking your skirts into your sash, the effect is more 
startling than speedy. Soon, one by one, the stu- 
dents ordered trousers from the city tailors. At 
first these garments were poorly cut and viewed with 
suspicion ; but to-day there are hardly three men in 
the academic and graduate departments who wear 
the native costume outside of their rooms, and many 
of the students dress with an elegance that their pro- 
fessors cannot aff'ord to emulate. 

It was football, however, that did the most toward 
unification of the heterogeneous student body. The 
value of team-work is a comparatively new idea to 
western Asia and eastern Europe. Since the days of 
Alcibiades and Absalom the old ideal has been that 
of " every man for himself." If it had not been so, 
the history of the world might have been different. 
It was comparatively easy to understand the joy of 
winning a foot-race or a tennis tournament ; but to 
play an untheatrical part in a match, obeying the 
captain and working for the good of the team — 
that was a very different thing. The students al- 

[50] 



THE SPIRIT OF OLYMPIA 



ways play the association game, and it used to be 
the ambition of every youth to get the ball, and carry 
it down the field all by himself, while the audience 
cheered, " Bravo, bravo ! " So the faculty arranged 
matches with the crews of visiting Bntish warships, 
and from sad experience the college learned the value 
of side plays and frequent passes, and began to see 
dimly that good football is played, not with the legs 
and mouth alone, but with the head, and that hard 
team-work is better than grand stand exploits.^ 
That lesson may some day change the map of 
Asia. 

The physical director of the college now has under 
his charge no fewer than eighteen football teams, 
besides twelve basketball teams, six hockey teams, 
four baseball teams and a cross-country running club ; 
thirty men play at cricket regularl}^ forty-seven 
hold certificates or medals of the (British) Royal 
Life Saving Society, and there are a hundred and 
thirty-five entries for to-day's field and track events.^ 

It makes one homesick to hear the cheers. With 
the exception of an occasional " meet " with some 
mission school, like those at Jerusalem and Sidon, 
there is no opportunity to compete with rival institu- 

1 In 1913, the college team defeated the champions of the 
British Mediterranean Fleet. 

2 The above figures are for the current year, 1913. With 
this exception, however, the chapter is not in any sense a com- 
posite, but describes the happenings of one actual field-day 
held during the author's residence in Beirut. 

[51] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

tions. Indeed, there is no other college in the Near 
East which would have any chance of winning in com- 
petition with the " S. P. C." So the enthusiasm finds 
a vent in cheering for the various schools of the uni- 
versity and for the class champions. Three of the de- 
partments — the preparatory, academic and medical 
— are each as large as many an American col- 
lege. The competition among these runs very high, 
and to-day a banner is to be given to the one whose 
members shall score most points. Now the various 
department " yells " have stopped for a moment, and 
an upper classman starts the college cheer, just as 
inane to read and just as soul-stirring to hear as are 
those of Harvard or Yale or Princeton. There is a 
good deal of singing, too. The college song, like 
that of Cornell, is set to the tune of " Annie Lisle," 
but the words are full of local allusions — 

" Far, far above the waters 
Of the deep blue sea, 
Lies the campus of the college 
Where we love to be. 

" Far away, behold Keneiseh ! 
Far beyond, Sunnin ! 
Rising hoary to the heavens. 
Clad in glorious sheen." 

Suddenly an usher comes running from the gate- 
house with the news that the governor's carriage is 
in sight. It can hardly be true, however ; for it still 

[52] 



THE SPIRIT OF OLYMPIA 



lacks a few minutes of two o'clock, and it would be 
contrary to Syrian custom for an official of such 
exalted rank to arrive at the same time with ordinary 
people. Probably he will come at about three 
o'clock, and stay a half hour or so, just to assure the 
college of his good-will. Indeed, this will be the first 
time that a governor has even put in an appearance 
at the annual games. But, after all, the usher is 
right. The pasha is coming — three minutes ahead 
of time ! There is hardly a consul on the dignitaries' 
platform ; even the American representative has not 
arrived yet, and there would be no one properly to 
welcome the governor, if the president of the college 
did not throw dignity to the winds and sprint across 
the campus to meet him. 

The escort rides in at a slow canter, with sabers 
glistening and accouterments clattering. First 
come young officers, handsome and foppish, their bos- 
oms heavy with gold lace and medals, and their Arab 
stallions snorting and prancing; then follows the 
guard of grizzled, sunburned Lebanon soldiers, 
clothed in blue Zo lave uniforms and holding repeat- 
ing-rifles across the pommels of their saddles. Be- 
hind the soldiers are carriages containing the mem- 
bers of the staff and their ladies ; and last of all, at- 
tended by out-riders, the carriage of his excellency. 
The pasha is a thin little old man with a gray beard 
and shrewd, tired eyes ; and, in striking contrast to 
his gayly caparisoned escort, he is quietly dressed in 

[53] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

a dark business suit. He is a Pole by birth, a Roman 
Catholic by religion, a Turkish soldier by profession, 
and a gentleman by instinct and breeding. A son of 
the governor is also here. He is an attache of the 
Turkish embassy at Paris, and one would take him 
for a cultured Frenchman. The wife of the attache 
is a young American woman, a member of one of our 
best-known and wealthiest New York families. 

Among the other guests in the seats of honor are a 
Greek priest, a Moslem rnollah and a Druse emir. 
The senior missionary is telling the professor of 
philosophy how Yale used to plaj^ football back in 
the fifties, while the lady of the German consul is 
talking babies to the senior missionary's wife. The 
Welsh doctor, who used to live in Brazil, is talking 
French to the Italian professor from Cairo. The 
exporter of Damascus rugs is swapping Dakota sto- 
ries with the Syrian editor who took the Arab troupe 
to the Chicago Exposition. 

And in the middle of the field the official announcer 
is lifting up a megaphone to shout across the babel 
of tongues . — 

" Winner of the dromedary race, Saladin ; second, 
Haroun al Raschid; third, Sinbad. The next event 
will be the high jump on enchanted carpets!" 

At least, that is what one would expect to hear 
amid this brilliant theatrical setting. But instead 
the call comes in faultless English — 

" All out for the hundred-yard dash ! " 

t54l 



THE SPIRIT OF OLYMPIA 

In the finals of this race there are four men; a 
Greek, an Egyptian and two Syrians. Khalil Mes- 
haqah, of the medical school, wins in ten and two- 
fifth seconds, without spikes, and on a dirt track ^ 
without guiding ropes. The college is not ashamed 
of its athletic records. Among its prize winners this 
afternoon are the best jumper of the Island of Cy- 
prus, the champion swummer of Alexandria, and the 
Greek who won the hundred-meter race in the recent 
Pan-Hellenic Games at Athens. On the first few 
field-days the Greeks carried everything before them ; 
indeed, on one occasion three Greeks from Cyprus 
made more points than all the other students com- 
bined. Now, however, after only a few years of 
training, some splendid athletes are being developed 
among the Syrians, Armenians and Egyptians. Of 
the six men who win most points to-day, four are 
Syrians, one is a Greek and one is a Scotchman. 

The announcer comes out again into the center of 
the field and shouts through his megaphone, first 
in English and then in Arabic — 

" The discus has just been thrown one hundred 
and ten feet, breaking the college record ! " 

So the campus bursts into a new uproar of shout- 
ing and singing, and the students make quite un- 
necessary inquiries as to " What's the matter with 
McLaughlan ? " while somebody tries to explain 

3 Since this record was made, a new athletic field with a 
cinder track has been laid out adjoining the campus. 

[55] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

what it is all about to the Turkish goA^ernor, who 
understands neither English nor Arabic, and the 
governor's daughter-in-law looks as if she were think- 
ing of Travers Island. 

It would take too long to describe all the events 
of the day : how Nedrah Meshaqah wins the thousand- 
yard " campus race," how latrou keeps the shot- 
put in the Greek ranks, or how Bedr breaks the 
record for the high jump. The real significance of 
the occasion is that it is all so like the field-meets of 
our American colleges at home. 

The only typically Syrian event is the jareed- 
throw — and the javelin has since been included 
among American field-events. The jareed is a blunt 
dart about four feet long and an inch in diameter, 
and it is always thrown underhand. The Arabs 
use it in various games, somewhat as the old Greeks 
employed the javelin. At the college it is thrown 
for distance ; and this is one of the most interesting 
contests, as it requires not only strength and quick- 
ness but a peculiar knack which it is almost impos- 
sible for a foreigner to learn. It looks very easy 
to one who has tossed baseballs all his life ; yet when 
the American first attempts to throw the short, light 
stick, he sends it whirling around like a windmill. 
But watch that young Druse sheikh, as he carefully 
balances the jareed upon his finger, and then grasps 
it gently but firmly at the approved spot. A few 
slow swings of the arm to get the direction, a 

[56] 



THE SPIRIT OF OLYMPIA 

lean backward until the stick nearly touches the 
ground behind, then a jump forward and a throw 
so long that his hand moves fully nine feet in a 
straight line before it lets the missile go with a furi- 
ous rifling motion — and the j areed darts up and 
off with a queer little nervous twist like an angry 
snake, and drops nearly two hundred feet away, with 
a force that would have broken a man's skull. 

It is a proud moment for thirty Eastern athletes 
when they step up to the platform where the gov- 
ernor and his staff are sitting, and receive their med- 
als from the Norwegian wife of the American consul 
and the American daughter-in-law of the Turkish 
pasha. Everything is over now except the football 
game, and the governor has stayed through it all, 
thus giving a most signal mark of his interest and ap- 
proval. He indicates his wish to retire, and the 
crowd gives way for his escort. The carriages drive 
up to the grand stand with much snapping of whips, 
and the outriders prance gayly around on their rest- 
ive Arabs. But just then the football teams run out 
into the field, resplendent in their new uniforms ; and 
the governor repents of his decision to leave, sinks 
back into his seat and motions the carriages to drive 
away. 

The captain of the medical team is a great, bearded 
Syrian, six feet tall. The captain of the collegiate 
eleven is two inches taller, also a Syrian in name and 
very proud of his country and race, but with a sense 

[57] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



of humor and a knowledge of team-work which he 
probably inherited from his American mother. One 
of the full-backs is a very sturdy fellow who was 
born in Cypinis of a French mother and speaks Greek 
as his native tongue; but there is a canny twinkle in 
his eye and a burr in his speech which make it seem 
quite natural that liis name should begin with " Mac." 
Many brilliant plays are made by the son of an 
Egyptian millionaire, the Druse sheikh who won the 
jareed throw, and an American from Jerusalem. 
The collegiate eleven is composed of four Syrians, 
three Egyptians, an Armenian, a Scotchman, an 
American and an Austrian; but racial and religious 
differences are forgotten as they play together for 
the honor of their side. It is a hard game, yet a very 
fair one, and when the " Medics " win by a score of 
two goals to one, even the college men lustily cheer 
the victors. 

As the gay-colored crowd breaks over the field, his 
fellow-students seize the captain of the winning 
team and carry him around on their shoulders, sing- 
ing and shouting all the while. Medical banners 
wave, medical hats and fezes are thrown into the air 
and medical men cheer until they can cheer no more. 
Soon the other students join in, and department ri- 
valries are forgotten in a loud enthusiasm for alfna 
mater. At the dinner hour the usual rules of de- 
corum are for once relaxed, and the happy pande- 

[58] 



THE SPIRIT OF OLYMPIA 

monium continues until bedtime. Then at last, tired 
and sleepy and voiceless, the college settles down to 
a long rest, after the best field-day that has ever been 
held in the Turkish Empire. 



r59] 



CHAPTER V 

ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS 

RAILWAYS and carriage-roads In Syria are 
chiefly due to French enterprise. The So- 
ciete OttoTtiane des Chemins de Fer de 
Damas, Hama et Prolongeitnents has less rolling 
stock than its lengthy name might lead one to expect, 
and its slow schedule is not always observed with a 
mechanical Western exactness. Although Damascus 
is barely fifty miles from Beirut, the journey thither 
takes ten hours ; for the constantly curving railway 
measures more than ninety miles and the total rise of 
its numerous steep grades is over 7,000 feet. This 
single, narrow-gauge road, which is carried over two 
high mountain ranges, is an admirable example of 
modern engineering, and the scenery through which 
it passes is a source of unbroken delight. 

As we zig-zag up the western slope of Lebanon 
there appear, now at our right and now at our left, 
a succession of beautiful panoramas which differ one 
from the other only in revealing a constantly widen- 
ing horizon. Rich, populous valleys, lying deep be- 
tween the shoulders of the mountains, slope quickly 

downward to the coast where, farther and farther be- 

£60] 



ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS 

low us, the silvery-grccn olive orchards and golden 
sands of Beirut reach out into the ever-broadening 
azure expanse of the Mediterranean. 

Sometimes great masses of billowing clouds drift 
up the valleys, so that for a while we seem to be trav- 
eling along a narrow isthmus between foaming seas. 
The people of Aleih — a charming summer resort 
where the mountainside is so steep that there is no 
room for a curve and the train has to back up the 
next leg of the ascent — are the butt of many a pop- 
ular tale. One day, so the wits of the neighboring 
villages relate, these foolish fellows mistook the ris- 
ing tide of mist for the sea itself, and the whole pop- 
ulace prepared to go fishing. 

Another time a number of residents of Alelh went 
to Beirut to buy shoes. On their way back they all 
sat on a wall to rest ; and when they were ready to go 
on again, behold, the new shoes were all exactly the 
same size, shape and color, and no man could tell 
which of the feet were his. So there they sat, in sad 
perplexity as to how they should ever reach home, 
until a passer-by, to whom they explained their diffi- 
culty, smote the shoes smartly one after the other 
with his stick and thus enabled each person to recog- 
nize his own feet. 

A third Aleih story also exemplifies the ridiculous 
exaggeration which so delights a Syrian audience. 
It seems that the only public well in the village used 
to be the subject of frequent quarrels between the 

[6i] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

inhabitants of the upper and lower quarters. So 
finally the sheikh stretched a slender pole across the 
middle of the opening and commanded that thence- 
forth each of the two opposing factions was to draw 
only from its own side. For a time all went peace- 




ably ; but one dark night a zealous partisan was dis- 
covered diligently at work dipping water from the 
farther side of the pole and pouring it into his half 
of the well ! 

Shortly after leaving Aleih, the train turns straight 
east and climbs with labored puffings up the shoulder 
of Jebel Keneiseh to the watershed, 4,800 feet above 

[62] 



ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS 

Beirut. It is very much cooler now. In midsum- 
mer, refreshing breezes blow down from unseen snow- 
banks among the mountaintops. In winter — if, in- 
deed, the traffic is not entirely blocked by drifts 
which choke the railway cuts — the journey is mem- 
orable for its piercing, inescapable cold, and the na- 
tives who gather idly at the stations wear heavy 
sheepskin cloaks and keep their heads and shoulders- 
swathed in thick shawls, though, strangely enough, 
their legs may be bare and their frost-bitten feet 
protected only by low slippers. 

At last the jolting of the rack-and-pinion ceases, 
the train quickens its speed, passes through two 
short tunnels, swings around a high embankment; 
and over the crests of the lower hills we see a long, 
narrow stre+ch of level country, bordered on its far- 
ther side by a Avall-like line of very steep mountains. 
The profile of the " Eastern Mountains " — as we 
behold them from this point Ave can hardly avoid us- 
ing the Syrian name for Anti-Lebanon — seems al- 
most exactly horizontal, and the resemblance of the 
range to a tremendous rampart is heightened by the 
massive buttresses which reach out at regular inter- 
vals between the courses of the winter torrents. 

The valley before us is that which the Greeks 
named Coele-Syria or " Hollow Syria." In modern 
Arabic it is called the Bika^ or " Cleft." Just as 
in Palestine the Jordan River and its two lakes are 
hemmed in by mountains which rise many thousand 

[ 63 ] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

feet above, so in Syria the Bika' stretches between 
the parallel ranges of Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon. 
There is, however, one striking difference between the 
two valleys. That of the Jordan is a deep depres- 
sion, and the mouth of the river is nearly 1,300 feet 
below the surface of the Mediterranean. On the 
other hand, the central valley of Syria throughout its 
entire length lies considerably above sea-level, and 
at its highest point reaches an elevation of about 
4,000 feet. The Bika', which is seventy miles long 



- 




LEBANON 










-10.000 








ANTI-LEBANON 




10,000' 


• 




'^-~\v ^ 


•v 


^ \^ 




■ 


•5.0OO 


,^**^o 


CO 


30 

1 


40 


to 


3,000. 
D 





Conventionalized cross-section of Syria from Beirut (B) to 
Damacus (D). The horizontal distances are marked in miles, 
the vertical in feet. 

and from seven to ten miles wide, is exceedingly fer- 
tile, and in it rise the two largest rivers of Syria. 
Near their sources the Orontes and Leontes pass 
within less than two miles of each other ; yet the for- 
mer flows to the north past Hama and Aleppo, while 
the latter turns southward and reaches the Mediter- 
ranean between Tyre and Sidon. 

The Bika' extends north and south as far as 
we can see and is apparently as level as a floor. 

[64] 



ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS 



There are hardly any trees on it, only two or three 
tiny hamlets and no isolated buildings. The Syrian 
farmers prefer to dwell on the hillsides ; for there the 
water of the springs is cooler, it is easier to guard the 
villages against marauding bands, and all of the ara- 
ble land below is left free for cultivation. So the 
great flat fields of plowed earth or ripening grain 
which fill the valley seem the pattern of a long Ori- 
ental carpet in rich reds and browns and greens and 
yellows, unrolled between the mountains. 

As we pass from the shadow of a last obstructing 
embankment, there bursts upon our vision the glori- 
ous patriarch of Syrian peaks. Twenty-five miles 
to the south the splendid crest of Hermon towers 
into the cloudless sky a full mile above the surround- 
ing heights. 

The familiar Hebrew name of this famous mountain 
means the " Sacred One," and the expression " the 
Baal of Hennon," ^ seems to indicate that in very 
ancient times it bore a popular shrine. The Jews also 
knew it by its Amorite title Senir, the " Banner." 
Modern Syrians sometimes refer to it as the " Snow 
Mountain," for its summit is capped with white long 
after the summer sun has melted the drifts from the 
lower peaks. Most commonly, however, it is called 
esh-Sheikh, which means " the Old Man," or rather 
" the Chieftain," for age and authority are indissolu- 

iThis is the correct rendering of Judges 3:3. 

[65] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

bly associated in the thought of the Arabic-speaking 
world.^ 

Hermon is by far the most conspicuous landmark 
in all Palestine and Syria. I have seen it from the 
north, south, east and west. I have admired it from 
its own near foothills and from a hundred and fifty 
miles away. Viewed from every side it has the same 
shape — a long, gently rising cone of wonderful 
beauty; wherever you stand, it seems to be squarely 
facing you ; and from every viewpoint it dominates 
the landscape as do few other mountains in the world. 

This sacred peak influenced the religious idealism 
of many centuries. Upon its slopes lay Dan, the 
farthest point of the Land of Promise. " From Dan 
to Beer-sheba," from the great mountain of the north 
to the wells of the South Country, stretched the Holy 
Land. Hebrew poets and prophets sang of the plen- 
teous dew of Hermon, its deep forests, its wild, free 
animal hfe. Upon its rugged shoulders the Greeks 
and Romans continued the worship of the old Syrian 
nature-gods. Hither, in the tenth century, fled from 

2 C. R. Conder, the eminent Palestinian archaeologist, points 
out that Arabic grammar necessitates our translating Jebel 
«sh-Sheikh " Mountain of the Sheikh," and derives the appella- 
tion from the fact that in the tenth century the founder of 
the Druse religion took up his residence in Hermon (Hastings, 
Dictionary of the Bible, s. v. "Hermon"). But no one who 
has seen the white head of the tall, strong mountain can help 
thinking of Hermon as itself the proud^ reverend sheikh of the 
glorious tribe of Syrian peaks. 

[66 1 



ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS 

Egypt Sheikh ed-Durazy and made it the center of 
the new Druse rehgion. Above its steep precipices 
the Crusaders built two of their largest castles. But 
one most solemn event of all uplifts the sacred moun- 
tain even closer to the skies ; for on some unnamed 
summit of the " Chieftain " the supreme Leader stood 
when the heavens opened for His transfiguration. 

We cross the valley rapidly to the junction-station 
of Rayak and then, again ascending, penetrate the 
Eastern Mountains by a winding river-course which, 
as we follow it higher and higher, affords fine views 
over the Bika' to the range of Lebanon through 
which we were so long traveling. Directly opposite 
us stands Jebel Keneiseh, bare, brown and forbidding, 
while beside it rises the loftier Sunnln. When viewed 
from the coast, this noble mountain reveals one long, 
even slope to its topmost crest ; but its back is made 
up of a multitude of rounded eminences, so that it 
resembles an enormous blackberry. Twenty miles 
to the north of Sunnin, near the famous Cedars of 
Lebanon, the range culminates in a group of snow- 
capped peaks which lack the impressiveness of Her- 
mon's haughty isolation, yet which actually rise two 
thousand feet above even the Sheikh INlountain. 

After crossing the watershed of Anti-Lebanon, we 
turn south through the lovelv little vale of Zebedani. 
At our left are the highest summits of the range ; at 
our right are precipitous cliffs which, save for a 
glimpse of the snows of Hermon, shut off the distant 

[67] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

view; but between these heights is a scene of quiet, 
comfortable beauty. The tract is well-watered and 
fertile, and its wheat-fields are as level as the surface 
of a lake. Indeed, there surely must have been a lake 
here once upon a time. Along the eastern edge of 
the grain-land are charming, green-hedged gardens 
and closely planted orchards and long lines of pop- 
lar trees, while low-bent vines hug the sunny slopes at 
the mountain's foot. This high but sheltered valley 
is one of the few places in Syria where really fine ap- 
ples are grown, and the grapes and apricots of Zebe- 
dani are famous throughout the whole country. 

In a small marshy lake among the hills that border 
the rich, slumbrous little plain there rises one of the 
world's greatest rivers ; great not In size — at its 
widest it is hardly more than a mountain brook and 
no ship has ever sailed its waters — but great be- 
cause it has made one of the proudest cities of earth ; 
for this slender stream which winds so leisurely 
through the wheat-fields of Zebedani is the far-famed 
Abana, and Abana is the father of Damascus. 

At the lower end of the valley, the brook turns 
sharply eastward through a break in the mountains, 
and we follow it swiftly down a succession of narrow 
chasms and wild ravines, all the way to the end of 
our journey. The first two hours of our ride we 
traveled but twelve miles : the last two hours we slide 
forty miles around short, confusing curves. Some- 
times there are distant views of bare, reddish sum- 

[68] 



ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS 

mits ; often we are hemmed in by the dense growth 
of trees which border the stream; but we are never 
far from the rushing waters of the Abana. 

There is ancient history along our route, not to 
speak of legends innumerable. The little village of 
Suk Wadi Barada or " Barada Valley Market," was 
once called Abila, and was the chief city of the Tet- 
rarchy of Abilene, the fixed date of whose establish- 
ment helps us to compute the chronology of the Gos- 
pels.^ The valley itself is still known here as Abila ; 
and therefore, through a characteristic confusion of 
names, the Moslems locate the grave of Abel on the 
summit of an adjoining hill. Cain, they say, was at 
his wits' end how to dispose of the dead body of his 
brother, for burial was of course unknown to him ; 
so the murderer carried the corpse on his back many 
days, seeking in vain a place where he might securely 
conceal the evidence of his crime. . At last, accord- 
ing to the Koran, " God sent a raven which scratched 
upon the ground, to show him how he might hide his 
brother's corpse." ^ 

Across the ravine from Suk Wadi Barada we can 
see the remains of an ancient road hewn in the solid 
rock, and a ruined aqueduct which some say was 
built by Queen Zenobia to carry the water of the 
Abana across the desert to Palmyra. It is almost 
certain, however, that both road and aqueduct, as 
well as the tombs whose openings appear higher up 
»Cf. Luke 3:1. ■» Sura 5:34. 

[69] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



in the cliff, were constructed in the second century 
by the Romans. 

Ain Fijeh, the next important village, bears a 
peculiarly redundant name, which reminds us of Ger- 
man Baden-Baden. The first first word is Arabic 
and the second is a corruption of the Greek yege, 
and both mean " spring." But, after all, " Spring 
Spring " is not such a bad name ; for there gushes 
from a cave in the rock such an abundant fountain 
that the Abana here increases threefold in volume, 
and mediaeval Arab geographers, as well as the mod- 
ern inhabitants of the mountains, are unanimous in 
considering this the principal source of the river. 
From the cold, clear spring, a small tile aqueduct has 
for the last few years carried drinking-water to Da- 
mascus. Unfortunately, however, only a few of the 
more important buildings are as yet supplied from 
this source, and the common people are loath to jour- 
ney to the public fountains when there are all over the 
city so many nearer — and dirtier — streams from 
which to draw. " The Moslems, especially, prefer 
to drink water which runs in the open rather than 
that which is piped," said a native physician in an- 
swer to my questions as to the health of Damascus. 
" So, you see," he added facetiously, " my practice 
has not suffered appreciably since the completion of 
the aqueduct." 

As we descend the narrow, winding valley of 
the Abana, it becomes more and more choked with 

[70] 




An old bridge over the Barada River 



ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS 

verdure. We now begin to understand why the 
Greeks called this the Clirysorrlioas or " Golden 
River." If we take advantage of one of the lengthy 
stops to step across the track and plunge our hands 
into its icy waters, we realize the fitness of its mod- 
ern Arabic name, Barada — the " Cold Stream." 
Occasionalh^ we still glimpse far above us grim, tree- 
less heights ; but, between the cliffs, dense thickets or 
closel3' planted orchard trees line the river-banks. 
Now the Abana is a roaring, foaming torrent ; now 
it flows chill, deep and silent ; but always it hurries 
as if it were racing with the train. This, in its turn, 
goes more rapidh'. It twists and swings and bumps 
as it takes dangerously short curves at — for a 
Syrian train — full speed. We pass into the 
shadow of a beetling precipice and, beneath the thick 
foliage which overhangs it, the river runs black as 
ink. Then, suddenly, we have left the gloom of the 
mountains and are out in the bright sunlight which 
floods a boundless plain. Wo have crossed to the 
eastern edge of Syria and before us, just beyond the 
orchards of Damascus, lies the desert. 



[71] 



CHAPTER VI 

THE LAND OF UZ 

TO appreciate truly the significance of Damas- 
cus, one should approach it from the east, 
across the thirsty wilderness which stretches 
between the Euphrates and the Syrian mountains. 
The long, wearisome journey would be worth while if 
only for the first glimpse of the city as it appears 
to the wondering eyes of the desert-dweller. But the 
twentieth century visitor may be excused if he pre- 
fers to save time and strength by utilizing the rail- 
way. To-day there is even a choice of routes. He 
can travel to Damascus from the west comfortably, 
or from the south speedily. But the adverbs are 
not interchangeable. 

We have already taken the slow, beautiful journey 
from Beirut across the two mountain ranges. Tlie 
other railway between Damascus and the coast starts 
from the seaport of Haifa, at the foot of Mount Car- 
mel, and follows at first a fairly easy grade through 
the historic Plain of Esdraelon to the Jordan Valley 
at Beisan. From here it runs northward along the 
river to the Sea of Galilee,^ then in a general easterly 
J See the author's The Real Palestine of To-day, chapter 

[72] 



THE LAND OF UZ 



direction up the valley of the Yaraiuk to the plateau 
of the Hauran, where the Haifa branch joins the 
main line of the Mecca railway. Although the dis- 
tance to Damascus by this route is a hundred and sev- 
enty-seven miles, or almost twice that from Beirut, 
the journey takes no longer. But in warm weather 
it is not a very comfortable trip, for more than half 
the time the train is below the level of the sea. 

From Semakh, which lies at the southern end of the 
Sea of Galilee six hundred feet below the Mediter- 
ranean, the railway ascends the Yarmuk gorge 
through the most wild and desolate scenery imagi- 
nable. The entire region northeast of Galilee is vol- 
canic. Prehistoric flows of molten rock extended 
over large areas, and the subsequent erosion of the 
river has cut through a solid layer of hard basalt 
from ten to fifty feet thick, whose perpendicular black 
cliffs appear in striking contrast to the irregular 
outlines of the softer limestone beneath. 

For two hours after leaving the Sea of Galilee we 

do not pass a human habitation ; indeed, for the first 

few miles there is no evidence of vegetable life except 

now and then a small clump of bushes at a bend of 

the stream. As the train puffs slowly up the bed of 

the steep, twisting ravine, all that can be seen is the 

narrow torrent rushing madly along between white 

walls of lime or chalk, above these a smooth, regular 

XV, " The War-path of the Empires," and XVIII, " The Lake 
of God's Delight." 

[73] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

layer of shining black basalt and, as we look straight 
up or down the valley, a few bare, brown mountain- 
tops showing above the nearer cliffs. After a 
while, however, oleanders appear along the riverside, 
and for mile upon mile their thick foliage and gor- 




^ / / H 

BOSRA ''■. 



geous flowers add the one touch of life to the wild, 
lonely landscape. We pass a strange monolithic 
pyramid a hundred feet high, which has been carved 
by some freak of the winter floods. A little farther 
on, a recent landslide has covered the bottom of the 
valley with black stones and soot-like dust. Even 

[74] 



THE LAND OF VZ 



early in the morning it is hot and stifling in this 
breezeless trench below the level of the ocean. 

As we rise higher, however, scattered olive trees ap- 
pear among the oleanders by the riverside, and a few 
little patches of thin wheat are seen among the rocks. 
A small herd of black, long-haired goats are drinking 
in the stream. We are startled to behold a rude oil- 
well. A dozen men are gathered at each railway sta- 
tion, though the villages from which they have come 
are still invisible on the heights above us. Then the 
valley suddenly turns and broadens, and we see 
against the cloudless sky the clean-cut profile of the 
highland country toward which we have been so long 
ascending. The track now leaves the river's bank 
and, in great loops, quickly mounts the side of the 
valley. From the edge of the plateau there comes 
tumbling a magnificent succession of cascades, which 
finall}' roar under a railway bridge and break in 
spray at the bottom of the gorge far beloAV us. An- 
other broader waterfall drops in a solid sheet of silver 
from the unseen land bej^ond the level summit of the 
precipice. Our train twists up a last steep grade, 
straightens out on the level ground — and, after look- 
ing for three hours at the close cliffs which hemmed 
in a narrow valley, it gladdens our eyes to gaze now 
on the vast prospect which is revealed in the shimmer- 
ing light of the noonday sun. 

Before us stretches the Hauran, the ancient Land 
of Bashan, a rolling sea of soft brownish earth and 

[75] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

waving wheat. From time immemorial this has been 
the chief granary of western Asia. Until we become 
accustomed to the new perspective, we can not dis- 
tinguish a village or tree or living creature. Here 
and there a few apparently low hills show their sum- 
mits above the horizon. The Arabs, who came from 
the high eastern desert, called this the Haurdn, or 
" Depression," because it lies flat between the moun- 
tains. But to us who have climbed hither from a 
point 2,500 feet below, the broad acres of Bashan 
seem set far up among the lonely skies. An endless, 
level, undivided expanse of wheat; dim summits far 
away; fertility and spaciousness and freedom and 
strong, ceaseless wind — this is the Hauran. 

Muzeirib,-the first station on the plateau, is the 
terminus of the earliest railway from Damascus to the 
Hauran, which was completed by the French in 1895. 
During recent years this has suffered severely from 
the competition of the Hejaz Railway begun in 1901 
by Abdul Hamid ; for the Turkish line is some- 
what cheaper, has better connections, and enjoys the 
odor of sanctity. In fact, its chief avoAved object is 
ultimately to connect Damascus with Mecca and thus 
provide transportation for tlie multitude of the 
Faithful who each year make the pilgrimage to the 
holy city. Only Moslems were employed on the con- 
struction of this sacred railway, large numbers of 
Turkish soldiers were detailed as guards and laborers ; 
and, besides special taxes which were levied, volun- 

[76] 



THE LAND OF UZ 



tary subscriptions for the pious enterprise were sent 
in from all over the world of Islam. On account of 
the revolution of the Young Turks and the troublous 
times which followed the enforced abdication of Abd- 
ul Hamid, no work has been done on the railway for 
several years. Already, however, it extends 823 
miles to Medina, which is four-fifths of the distance 
to Mecca; but non-Moslems are strictly forbidden to 
travel beyond Ma'an, 285 miles from Damascus, with- 
out a special permit from the government. 

Der'a, where we join the Hejaz main-line, has 
since the earliest days of Christianity been identified 
with Edrei, the capital of Og, the giant king of Ba- 
shan.- Beneath the ancient citadel, which stands 
some distance to the south of the station, is a wonder- 
ful labyrinth of caves, with real streets and shops as 
well as dwelling-places. This underground city 
doubtless w^as intended as a refuge for the entire 
population of the capital in time of siege, but it has 
not been used for many centuries. 

As our train now turns northward from Der'a, 
Mount Hermon comes into full view at our left, in all 
its splendor of towering summit and dazzling white- 
ness, and the lofty blue cone with its long streaks 
of summer snow^ stays with us for the rest of the 
da}-. 

Thirty miles to our right, Jebel Hauran, also known 
as the " Druse Mountain," rises from the level sea 

2NumI)er.s 21:33. 
[77] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

of grain like a long, low island. At such a distance 
we find it difficult, even in this crystal air, to 
realize that the isolated mountain is really forty miles 
long and only a little short of six thousand feet high. 
It is one of the few localities in the region where are 
still found the once famous " oaks of Bashan." ^ 
Since the religious struggles which drenched Syria 
with blood in 1860, many thousand Druses have mi- 
grated from Lebanon to the Hauran, where the spe- 
cial retreat and stronghold of this proud, brave, re- 
lentless people is the mountain which bears their 
name. Hither they flee from the conscription ; here 
they defy the hated tax-collector, flaunt their con- 
tempt of the weak Turkish government and, as is 
their wont everywhere, waste their own strength in 
bitter family feuds. 

A very ancient and plausible Christian tradition, 
which since the rise of Islam has also been accepted 
implicitly by the Moslems, identifies the Hauran with 
the " Land of Uz " where dwelt the patriarch Job. 
Three towns on the western slopes of the Druse 
Mountain perpetuate his story. Bishop William of 
Tyre, writing in the twelfth century, mentions the 
popular belief that Job's friend Bildad the Shuhite 
dwelt at Suweida, and the inhabitants of this village 
boast that the patriarch himself was their first sheikh. 
At Kanawat a group of very old ruins is commonly 
known as the " Convent of Job," and at Bosra, the 

3 Isaiah 3:13, etc. 
[78] 



THE LAND OF VZ 



ancient capital of the Hauran, there is a Latin in- 
scription in his praise. Probably this belonged to a 
sixth century leper asylum; for the suffering patri- 
arch early came to be considered the special patron 
of those who, Hke himself, were afflicted with the most 
mysterious and loathsome of diseases. 

But it is in the plain that memories of this Biblical 
drama cluster most closely. Nawa, twenty miles 
northwest of Der'a, has for two thousand years 
been honored as Job's birthplace. An hour's ride 
to the south of this village there stood fifteen hundred 
years ago a splendid church dedicated to the Man of 
Uz, and part of the ruined " Monastery of Job " is 
still in good enough condition to be used as Turkish 
barracks. Near by is shown the rock on which he 
leaned while arguing with his three friends — it is a 
small basalt monument erected by Barneses II. — also 
the stone trough in which he washed after his afflic- 
tions were ended, and the tomb of the patriarch and 
his wife. 

In spite of the naive and often impossible localiza- 
tion of particular incidents of the story of Job, it is 
quite possible that the very old tradition is correct, 
and the mysterious Land of Uz across which roamed 
the herds and flocks of " the greatest of all the Chil- 
dren of the East " was this same free, fertile table- 
land along which we are now traveling. Before the 
Hauran was so largely given over to agriculture, it 
must have been, an ideal grazing country; it has al- 

[79] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

ways been subject to forays by robber tribes from 
the desert ; ^ and the " great wind from the wilder- 
ness " which smote the dwelling; of Job's eldest son ^ 
would perhaps nowhere else blow with such fury as 
on this high, open plateau. 

There was just such a great wind from the wilder- 
ness the last time I went to Damascus. The Hauran 
bears a deserved reputation for coolness and health- 
fulness ; but that day, as happens two or three times 
each summer, there was a sirocco. The wind was in- 
deed blowing — blowing a furious gale of perhaps 
thirty-five miles an hour; but it came straight from 
the eastern desert and scorched as if it had been a 
blast from an opened furnace door. I did not have a 
thermometer with me; but, from sirocco experiences 
elsewhere, I should judge that the temperature in 
the train was not under a hundred and five degrees. 
The drinking-water that we had brought for the jour- 
ney became warm and nauseating; but we put it to 
good use in soaking the back of our necks, where it 
evaporated so quickly in the dry, burning wind that 
it stung like ice for a few seconds, and then was gone. 
Strange as it may seem, the only other way to miti- 
gate the heat was to shut the car windows and keep 
the breeze out. 

There were fortunately some interesting incidents 
to enliven the long; hot ride over the monotonous 
plain. We did not see any of the renowned " strong 

4 Job 1:15, 17. 5 Job 1:19. 
[80] 



THE LAND OF UZ 



bulls of Bashan," ^ or any other cattle grazing on the 
plain, but we watched slow caravans bearing wheat 
to the coast, as they have been doing for millenniums 
past. They could never carry all the grain that this 
productive district might harvest, and the railways 
should prove a rich boon to the Hauran. We pon- 
dered curiously as to why the stations were never by 
any chance just at the towns and why the track 
should swing far to the right and left in great curves, 
as if it were ascending a difficult grade, when the only 
engineering problem involved in its construction 
could have been solved by laying a ruler on the map 
and drawing a straight line down the center of the 
level plain. A fellow-traveler explained to us that 
the course of the railway had not been determined 
by the usual considerations, such as economy of con- 
struction and the desirability of passing through the 
most densely populated districts, but by the amount 
of bakhsheesh which wealthy landowners would pay 
the government in order to have the line pass through 
their estates. 

We stopped an unconscionable length of time 
at every station, for no evident reason ; and when 
we did get ready to start there were so many vocifer- 
ous warnings that very naturally none of them was 
heeded by the passengers who had got off for refresh- 
ments. So finally the rapidly moving train would be 
chased by a crowd of excited peasants, most of whom 

6 Psalm 22:12, etc. 
[8i] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

carried big bundles and wore long, hampering gar- 
ments. Several were left behind at lonely stations. 
There would be another train — to-morrow ! Of 
course, all the dogs ran after us. Provided they are 
well-fed, dogs and children are exactly the same the 
world over; and these were not the starved, sullen 
curs which lie in Oriental gutters, but were wide- 
awake, fun-loving fellows who ran merrily alongside 
the train for a half-mile from the town, and had no 
difficulty in understanding our English shouts of en- 
couragement. As we were pulling out of one of the 
stations, a very reverend, gray-bearded old farmer 
stole a ride on the running-board; but he misjudged 
the quickly increasing speed of the train, and, when he 
at last decided to jump ofF, rolled head-over-heels 
down the steep embankment. The last we saw of him, 
he was gazing after us with a ludicrously dejected 
countenance whose every lineament expressed stem 
disapproval of the nervous haste of these degenerate 
modern days. 

As a rule the other travelers were too hot and tired 
to afford us much entertainment ; but one new arrival, 
, not finding a seat elsewhere, tried to force his way 
into the harem-compartment which Turkish railways 
always provide for the seclusion of Moslem ladies. 
The lord and master of the particular harem occu- 
pying this compartment resented the intrusion with 
such a frenzy of threatening gesticulation and insult- 
ing malediction that the members of our party who 

[82] 



THE LAND OF UZ 



were unaccustomed to the ways of the East expected 
to see murder committed forthwith. The conductor, 
who interposed as peace-maker, was — as is usual on 
this holy railway — a Turk who knew no Arabic, 
and he consequently had great difficulty in determin- 
ing what the quarrel was about; but the Syrians 
have a healthy fear of any one wearing a uniform, so 
the trouble was finally adjusted without bloodshed. 

After we became accustomed to the peculiar fea- 
tures of the landscape we could now and then distin- 
guish a village. Yet at a very short distance the lar- 
gest settlements were blurred into the brown plain ; 
for the houses are all built of a dull black basalt and, 
save for one or two square towers, the compact ham- 
lets are hardly to be distinguished from rough out- 
croppings of rock. All of the dwellings look like de- 
serted ruins : some of them are. All seem centuries 
old: many have been occupied for more than a thou- 
sand years, for the hard basalt seems never to crum- 
ble. 

The extraordinarily rich earth of the Hauran is 
only disintegrated lava, and as we near the end of the 
plain we pass tracts where presumably more recent 
eruptions have not yet been weathered into fertile 
soil. Two or three miles to the east of the railway 
a long line of dark rock some thirty feet high marks 
the western edge of the Leja, which in New Testa- 
ment times was known as the Trachonitis "^ or " Rocky 

7 Luke 3:1. 
[83] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



Place." From now-extinct volcanoes at the northern 
end of the Druse Mountain there flowed these three 
hundred and fifty square miles of lava, which has 
broken in cooling into such a maze of irregular fis- 
sures that its surface has been likened to that of a 
petrified ocean. Yet this rugged region contains also 
little lakes, and pockets of arable soil, and numerous 
ruins of villages and roads and bridges which point 
to a considerable population in former days. Leja 
means " hiding-place " or " refuge," and the Druses 
call this forbidding district the " Fortress of Allah." 
The entire lava mass is honeycombed with caves. In- 
deed, the people of the Hauran say that one 
who knew the labyrinth of subterranean passages 
could make his way from one end of the Leja to the 
other without once appearing above ground. It is no 
wonder that this immense natural citadel, with its 
unmarked trails, its innumerable hiding-places in dark 
caves or deep-cut fissures of the rock, and its easy 
dominance over the dwellers on the level plain below, 
has always been a thorn in the side of whatever gov- 
ernment pretended to rule the Hauran. Eighty 
years ago the Druses of the Leja, although they were 
outnumbered by the attacking force twenty to one, 
routed with terrible slaughter the entire army of 
Ibrahim Pasha, the great Egyptian conqueror. 

The description of the Leja and its inhabitants 
which was written in the first century A. D. by Jo- 
sephus would serve for any period in its wild history. 

[84] 



THE LAND OF UZ 



" It was not an easy thing to restrain tliem, since this 
way of robbery had been their usual practice, and 
they had no other way to get their Hving, because 
they had neither any city of their own, nor lands in 
their possession, but only some receptacles and dens 
in the earth, and there they and their cattle lived in 
common together: however, they had made contriv- 
ances to get pools of water, and laid up corn in gran- 
aries for themselves, and were able to make great re- 
sistance by issuing out on the sudden against any 
that attacked them ; for the entrances of their caves 
were narrow, in which but one could come in at a 
time, and the places within incredibly large and made 
very wide ; but the ground over their habitations was 
not very high, but rather on a plain, while the rocks 
are altogether hard and difficult to be entered upon 
unless any one gets into the plain road by the guid- 
ance of another, for these roads are not straight, but 
have several revolutions. But when these men are 
hindered from their wicked preying upon their neigh- 
bors, their custom is to prey one upon another, inso- 
much that no sort of injustice comes amiss to them." * 
Joscphus' diction is as involved as the labyrinthine 
trails of the Leja, but his facts are still correct. 

Further evidences that we are in a volcanic region 
are found in the round black stones, about the size 
of large bowling-balls, which now begin to appear 
on the plain. At first they do not seriously interfere 

9 Antiquities of the Jews, XV. 10.1. 
[85] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

with cultivation, for the farmers gather them into 
heaps along the edges of their fields. A few miles 
farther on, however, there are so many that there 
has been no attempt to remove them and the light 
plow has simply scratched whatever narrow strips of 
earth might lie between the rocks. At last they cover 
the land as far as we can see, with hardly their own 
diameter separating them. There must be ten thou- 
sand of them to the acre. Millions upon millions of 
black spots dot the nearer landscape and in the dis- 
tance merge into an apparently solid mass of dark, 
hard sterility. 

By this time most of the passengers in our coacK 
have become very tired and irritable, though the loud 
breathing of some indicates that they have fallen into 
a restless slumber. Several are quite sick from the 
heat. At half-past five in the afternoon the sun 
has lost none of its midday glare, and the noisy wind 
from the desert still scorches with its furnace breath. 
On either side, the monotonous multitude of round 
black rocks strew the brown, burnt earth. The hills, 
which constantly draw in closer to us, seem as if they 
might have fair pasture-land on their lower slopes ; 
but, save for the shining white dome of one Moslem 
tomb, they bear nothing higher than scattered grass 
and dusty thorn-bushes. We climb slowly over the 
watershed in the narrow neck of the plain, then speed 

swiftly down a steep incline ; and, lo, we behold a ver- 

[86] 



THE LAND OF UZ 



itable paradise of running water and heavily laden 
orchard trees, above which the glory of the setting 
sun gilds a forest of slender minarets. 



[87] 



CHAPTER VII * 

THE EARTHLY PAEADISE 

ACCORDING to the Moslem wise men, Jebel Kas- 
yun Is a very sacred mount ; for upon it Abra- 
ham dwelt when there was revealed to him the 
supreme doctrine of the unity of God. Long before 
that, however, Adam lived here: some say that he 
was formed from the earth of this very mountain, 
and that the reddish streaks upon its sides are noth- 
ing less than the indelible bloodstains of murdered 
Abel. 

Yet as we stand by the little shrine known as the 
Dome of Victory, which crowns the summit, we are 
not thinking of ancient legends. Below us lies a 
scene of entrancing interest and of a peculiar beauty 
which is unlike that of any other beautiful prospect 
in the world. 

Back of us are the mighty, rock-buttressed Moun- 
tains of the East, from whose sterile heart Is rent a 
deep, dark ravine which thunders with the cascades 
of the Abana. Then, Issuing from its narrow defile, 
Abana is suddenly tamed. It spreads fan-like into 
seven quiet branches ; and these in turn divide and 

subdivide into a myriad life-giving streams which 

[88] 



THE EARTHLY PARADISE 



sink at last in wildeniess sands, but, ere they sink, 
make the desert to rejoice and blossom as the 



rose.^ 



In the foreground of the picture, Damascus seems 
hke an immense silver spoon laid on a piece of soft, 
green plush. The long, slender handle, which is 
made up of the modern peasant-markets, stretches 
away two miles southward. The nearer bowl is the 
site of the ancient city. Above its monotonous suc- 
cession of sohdly massed houses are seen high, cylin- 
drical roofs which cover the most important ba- 
zaars ; in the very center stands the famous Omay- 
3^ade Mosque with its splendid dome and spacious 
court and three lofty towers, while a multitude of 
other graceful minarets — it is said that they are 
exactly as many as the days of the year — rise above 
the most mysterious and fascinating of Moslem capi- 
tals. Surely the traveler must be ignorant of his- 
tory and bereft of sentiment who does not feel a deep, 
strange thrill as he first looks upon the great city 

1 It is the Abana, or Barada, which waters by far the 
greater portion of this fertile district. The identification of 
the Pharpar, which Naaman mentioned also as one of the 
"rivers of Damascus" (II Kings 5:13), is uncertain. It may 
have been one of the branches into which the Abana divides 
as it passes through the city. jNIore probably, however, it was 
the river now known as the Awaj ; for this is the only other 
stream in the vicinity whose size is comparable to that of the 
Abana and, though it flows some seven miles south of 
Damascus, it is used for irrigating a considerable tract of 
the surrounding orchard-country. 

[89] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

which since the dawn of history has sat in proud 
strength between the mountains and the desert. 

From the viewpoint of physical geography, Syria 
is Lebanon ; but politicall}^ commercially and socially, 
it is still true that " the head of Syria is Damas- 
cus." ^ Indeed, the city is now hardly ever called 
by its real name, Dimeshk. It is simply esh-Shdm — 
Syria ! 

History does not recall a time when Damascus did 
not nestle here among the orchards which sweep out 
to the edge of the desert. The IMoslem tradition 
that it was founded by Eliezer, the chief servant of 
Abraham, points to far too late a date. Josephus 
tells us that it was built by Uz, the grandson of 
Shem the son of Noah, and that when Abraham came 
hither from Ur with an army of Chaldeans, he cap- 
tured the already old capital and for a time reigned 
here as king of Syria.^ " The name of Abram is 
even now famous in the country of Damascus," adds 
the Jewish historian. Eighteen hundred years later, 
that is still true. 

Without discussing further its legendary claims to 
supreme antiquity, it is safe to say that Damascus 
is the oldest important city in the world with an 
unbroken history reaching to the present day. The 
fame of its artificers and gardeners is embodied even 
in our English language ; for we speak of Damascus 
steel, the damask plum, damask rose, damask color, 
2 Isaiah 7:8. ^ Antiquities of the Jews, 1.6.4; 1.7.2. 

[go] 



THE EARTHLY PARADISE 

damask decoration and damaskeened metal-work. 
Many of the greatest men of earth have trodden its 
streets or fought before its walls or worshiped at its 
shrines. Abraham the Hebrew, Tiglath-pileser the 
Assyrian conqueror, Herod the Great, Paul of Tar- 
sus, Khaled the " Sword of Allah," Baldwin of Flan- 
ders, Louis VII. of France, Nureddin the Syrian, 
Saladin the Kurd, Tamerlane the Tartar — such are 
only a few of the names which come to mind as we 
gaze upon the time-stained, battle-worn, but still rich 
and haughty city. To tell adequately the story of 
this most ancient of capitals would necessitate cover- 
ing all the centuries of human history. 

At the foot of the hill we shall find a tram-car wait- 
ing to take us to a modern hotel with electric lights 
and citj'-water, and in the evening we can hear a 
phonograph in any one of a hundred cafes, or visit 
moving-picture shows in the Serai Square, where a 
tall column commemorates the completion of the tele- 
graph-line to ]\Iecca. Yet, for all these recent in- 
novations from the Western world, the real Damascus 
is quite unchanged. It is still the most brilliant, en- 
trancing, fanatical and intolerant of Moslem cities, 
the one wliich best preserves the manners and cus- 
toms of the early centuries of Islam. Indeed, this 
is to-day the t\'pical Arabian Nights city ; for Cairo, 
where those thrilling fairy tales were first related, is 
rapidly becoming Europeanized through British in- 
fluence, Constantinople is thronged with Greeks and 

[91] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

Armenians and intimidated by foreign embassies, and 
the glory of Baghdad has long since departed. But 
Haroun al-Raschid and his faithful vizier might wan- 
der through the tortuous mazes of the bazaars of 
Damascus and recognize hardly an essential change 
from the life of a Moslem capital of a thousand years 
ago. 

Its Oriental characteristics have been thus pre- 
served, and will doubtless be preserved for many 
years to come, because of all great Arabic-speaking 
cities Damascus is least dependent on the West. An 
impassable wall might cut it off entirely from inter- 
course with Europe, and still it would thrive and wax 
strong on the wealth of its own orchards and its 
commerce with the lands across the Syrian desert. 

As we view the wide prospect from the Dome of 
Victory, the city seems a whitish island, half hidden 
by the billows of an ocean of luxuriant foliage. Far 
as the eye can see — far as the dim blue hills which 
mark the eastern horizon — the plain is jflooded with 
leaves and blossoms. At closer view we shall recog- 
nize the fig and pomegranate, the mulberry, pistachio, 
peach, almond and apricot, the tall poplar and wav- 
ing cypress and bending grape-vine and short, 
gnarled olive tree. But from Jebel Kasyun we per- 
ceive only one great expanse of warm, rich verdure ; 
all shapes and colors are merged into a soft, level 
green. 

Beliind us rise the bare, chalky cliffs of Anti- 

[92] 



THE EARTHLY PARADISE 

Lebanon. Beyond those low azure hills at the east 
is the cruel desert. But between the mountains 
and the desert hills lies the hundred square miles 
of the Ghuta — the " Garden " of Damascus. No 
language is too extravagant for the Arabic writers 
who describe this land of fruits and flowing waters. 
It is " the most excellent of all the beautiful 
places of earth," exclaims the learned Abulfeda; 
and the famous geographer Idrisi saj's, " There are 
grown here all sorts of fruits, so that the mind can- 
not conceive the variet}', nor can any comparison 
show what is the fruitfulness and excellence thereof, 
for Damascus is the most delightful of God's cities 
in the whole world." Indeed, this is the place which, 
among all the habitations of men, comes nearest to 
the description of the Moslem paradise — 

" The people of the Right Hand ! 
Oh, how happy shall be the people of the Right 

Hand ! . . '. 
In extended shade, 
And by flowing waters. 
And with abundant fruits, 
Unfailing, unforbidden . . . 
Gardens beneath whose shades the rivers flow." * 

The prophet who sang thus of the celestial de- 
lights of the Faithful once stood, it Is said, on the 
summit of this sacred mountain and gazed with won- 

*The Koran, Sura 56:36f; 61:12. 
[93] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

dering admiration, as we are gazing, on the boun- 
teous splendor of the Garden of Damascus. But 
Mohammed refused to go down into the city for fear 
lest, having tasted the joys of this earthly paradise, 
he might lose his desire for the heavenly. 



[94] 



CHAPTER YIII 

THEPORT OF THE WILDERNESS 

ALTHOUGH it is ninety miles by railway from 
navigable water, Damascus partakes of the 
characteristics of a seaport. It is, in fact, 
the port of the wilderness. Just to the east of its 
fertile " garden " is the Syrian desert, across which 
slow caravans have always been coming and going — 
travehng from the rich river-bottoms of Mesopo- 
tamia, from Persia and India, and even from far dis- 
tant China, to bring the riches of Asia to the over- 
flowing warehouses of Damascus. The lands from 
which the city derives its prosperity cannot compete 
with European industries, and so only a small pro- 
portion of their products is now sent westward across 
the Mediterranean. Yet Damascus remains still the 
metropolis of the desert peoples. From the view- 
point of the peasant or Bedouin Arab, it is a very 
modem place; and to the stranger who can see 
beneath the alluring glamour of its Orientalism, its 
chief characteristics are abounding prosperity and 
noisy activity. This oldest of cities is no mere in- 
teresting ruin or historical pageant. Even in the 
fast-month of Ramadan, its streets are as crowded 

[95] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

as the most congested shopping district of London 
or New York or Paris. ^ 

The most characteristic feature of the bazaar is 
its smell — that peculiar, inescapable blending of 
licorice and annis and pungent spices and heavy 
perfumes, combined with a vague odor of age and 
staleness which pervades the dust-laden air, and 
sometimes with an odor not at all vague which arises 
from the filth of unswept streets. It is not when I 
" hear the East a-callin' " but when I smell the East 
that the waves of homesickness sweep deepest over 
me. I love the scent of the bazaar. Sometimes I 
catch a whiff of it through the open door of a little 
basement store in the Syrian Quarter of New York ; 
and in a moment my thoughts are five thousand miles 
away among the old familiar scenes. 

The next most vivid impression of the bazaar is its 
weird combination of bright coloring and gloom. 
The narrow, winding street is guarded from the glar- 
ing sun by striped awnings and old carpets which 
reach across from house to house. Some few of 
the chief thoroughfares, like the " Street called 

1 Estimates of the population of the city vary from 150,000 
to a more probable 300,000. Of this number, some 10,000 are 
Jews, 30,000 are " Greek " and " Latin " Christians, and a few 
score are Protestants. At least four-fifths of the population is 
Mohammedan, and Islam is dominant and uncompromising in 
Damascus, as it is not in cities like Constantinople and Cairo, 
where Moslem fanaticism is to a greater or less degree held 
in check by the constant menace of interference by Christian 
powers. 

[96] 



THE PORT OF THE WILDERNESS 

Straight," are enclosed by great cylindrical roofs 
of corrugated iron. You are indoors and yet out-of- 
doors. The light is dim ; but it is daylight, and you 
feel that all the while the sun is shining very brightly 
overhead. Along the fronts of the shops and hang- 
ing on ropes which stretch across the street, are 
shining brasses and pieces of inlaid wood-work and 
cloths of the most gorgeous orient hues ; but the rear 
of these same shops is usually wrapped in impene- 
trable gloom. Sometimes there is visible only a 
square black hole surrounded by a frame of gaudy 
silks. When you pass a blacksmith's forge, with 
shadowy figures moving among the sparks at the 
back of the inky darkness, it seems like a glimpse into 
inferno. 

Most of the shops are tiny affairs only six or eight 
feet square, wliich open on the street for their entire 
width and have the floor raised to about the height 
of the customer's waist. The resemblance of a 
bazaar to a long double row of pigeon-holes is in- 
creased by the manner in which the box-like recesses 
follow continuously one after the other, with no door- 
ways between, as the entrance to their upper stories 
is by ladders in the rear. 

In the middle of his diminutive emporium, the typi- 
cal Damascus merchant sits all day cross-legged, 
smoking his water-pipe, reading from a Koran placed 
before him on a little wooden book-rest, and eter- 
nally fondling his beard. Frequently he says his 

[97] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

prayers. Sometimes he varies the monotony of a 
dull day by chatting with a fellow-merchant in a 
neighboring shop fully ten feet away. The Jews 
and Christians of the city may be annoyingly impor- 
tunate ; but the Moslems, who form the large ma- 
jority, seem insolently careless as to whether the 
passing stranger pauses to examine their goods or 
not. Over their places of business they hang gilded 
invocations to " the One who giveth sustenance," and 
then leave matters entirely in His hands. If nothing 
is sold all day, it is the will of Allah: If a customer 
does come, it is the will of Allah — that he shall be 
overcharged as much as possible. 

Shopping in Damascus is not an operation to be 
hurried through with careless levity. If you appear 
a promising customer, the merchant will set coffee 
before you and, while you and he are drinking to- 
gether, will talk about anything under the sun except 
business. When you ask him the price of an article, 
he may tell you to keep it for nothing, just as did 
Ephron the HIttite when Abraham was bargaining 
for the Cave of Machpelah.^ 

If, however, you offer a fair amount for that same 
" gift," he will protest that to accept such a paltry 
sum would necessitate his children's going hungry 
and naked. So he names a price about double what 
he expects to get, and you suggest a sum equal to 
half what you are willing to pay. Then follow vo- 

2 Genesis 23:11. 
[98] 



THE PORT OF THE WILDERNESS 



ciferous exclamations, indignant gesticulations, and 
sacred oaths, while his price slowly comes down and 
yours slowly goes up, until at last they almost, 
though not quite, meet. Neither will change his 
" last word " by a single piaster. Negotiations are 
at an end. You turn scornfully to leave the shop of 
the extortioner, while the merchant commends his 
business to God and resignedly begins to wrap up 
the goods and return them to their shelves. He does 
this very deliberately, however, and just then — be- 
cause you two are such good friends, whose apprecia- 
tion of noble character finds its ideal each in the 
other's life — you decide to split the difference, the 
purchase is completed, and you part with mutual 
protestations that only a deep, fraternal regard 
forces you — and him — to conclude the bargain at 
such a ruinous figure. 

"It is bad, it is bad, saith the buyer; 
But when he is gone his way, then he boasteth." ' 

Perhaps the shop-keeper will still, however, detain 
you for a glass of sherbet. If he does, then you 
have probably paid too much, after all. 

A friend of mine was obliged to spend no less than 
two weeks in purchasing a single Persian rug; but 
during those two weeks the price went down ninety 
dollars. One winter I had occasion to buy, at dif- 
ferent times, several small picture frames. They 

8 Proverbs 20:14. 
[99] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

were all exactly the same size, shape and material, 
were obtained from the same salesman at the same 
shop, and in the end I paid for them the same price 
to a piaster. Yet the purchase of each one neces- 
sitated a half-hour of excited bargaining. 

It should be understood, however, that there is 
really nothing dishonest about such a procedure as 
that described above ; for neither party is misled in 
the least by the other's protestations, and neither 
believes that he is deceiving the other. It is just the 
leisurely, intensely personal Oriental way of doing 
business. After you once become used to it, bar- 
gaining in the bazaars is far more full of excitement 
and human interest than buying something in the 
West, where fixed prices are distinctly marked. If 
you are so crude as to ask a Moslem merchant 
to tell under oath what he paid for an article, 
he will often speak the exact truth. But be sure to 
swear him by a formula which he considers binding. 
Every detail of a Syrian business transaction is 
embellished by one or more of the fervent oaths of 
the East. The traveler from the Occident, however, 
needs only one : the " word of an Englishman " * is 
still accepted at face value. Indeed, a generation 
ago, Moslems who would unblushingly call upon al- 
mighty God to witness to the most patent falsehoods, 
could be trusted to speak the exact truth when they 

•* This includes the American, for all who speak the English 
language are ordinarily classed as Ingleezy. 

[lOO] 



T =1 mi' 




One of the more modern avenues of Damascus 



THE PORT OF THE WILDERNESS 

swore bj the beard of a certain upright English mer- 
chant of Beirut. 

No picture can ever adequately represent the ba- 
zaar, not even a moving picture ; for besides the un- 
ending kaleidoscopic changes of coloring, as brightly 
dressed peddlers and purchasers move hither and 
thither, there is a ceaseless, deafening, indescribable 
and untranslatable tumult of sound. Yet to one who 
understands Arabic, this is more than noise: it is 
music, poetry and romance. The hawker of each 
commodity uses a peculiarly worded appeal which, 
in eloquent circumlocution, extols the virtues of his 
wares. These calls are usually rhyming; often they 
include one of the ninety-nine sacred titles of Allah, 
and frequently they are sung to a set tune. Back 
and forth through the perilously crowded streets 
they go — boys with great trays of sweetmeats on 
their heads, men with tubs of pickled vegetables, 
peasants bearing heavy loads of fresh figs, water- 
carriers stooping low under their goatskin bottles, 
peddlers of cakes and nuts and sherbets and the nose- 
gay's which the Syrian gentleman loves to hold — 
literally under his nose — as he strolls through the 
city. All are shouting their wares. " Oh, thirsty 
one ! " " Oh, father of a family ! " " Oh, Thou who 
givest food!" "Allay the heat!" "Rest for the 
throat ! " When Abraham passed through Damas- 
cus he doubtless heard these same cries. 

If we are driving, as is possible in the wider ba- 

[lOl] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

zaars, our gallant coachman adds to the din as he 
proudly snaps his long whip, toots the strident auto- 
mobile horn which is now affixed to all Damascus 
carriages and, in courteous gentleness or bawling 
rage or sighing relief, keeps up an unintermitting 
flow of Arabic adjuration to the passers-by whom he 
almost, but never quite, runs down. " Look out for 
your back! Hurry up, uncle! Your back, your 
back ! — may your house be destroyed ! Your right, 
lady ! Your left, sir ! Slowly, oh, inmates of the 
harem! Oh, pilgrim, your back! Child, beware! 
Your back, my friend! Your back! Your back! 
E-e-eh ! A-a-ah ! " 

High above the other calls rises now and then the 
shrill, nasal song of the vender of sweetened bread, 
Allah er-Razeek! — "God is the Nourisher!" A 
half-naked beggar changes his pathetic whine to a 
lusty curse as he shnks out of the way of a gallop- 
ing, shouting horseman. Any one who feels in the 
mood kneels down anywhere he happens to be and 
prays aloud. As a kind of accompaniment to the 
vociferous chorus there sounds the continuous tin- 
kling of the brass bowls which are rattled against 
each other by the lemonade-sellers. And — very fre- 
quently in Damascus — ■ there pierces through the 
deafening tumult the thin, penetrating chant of the 
muezzin who, from his lofty minaret or from the 

mosque door in the crowded, narrow street, calls to 

[102] 



THE PORT OF THE WILDERNESS 

the greedy bazaar to think on the things that are un- 
seen and eternal. 

The great conflagration of 1911 destroyed the 
heart of the business district by the Omayyade 
Mosque, and those who knew the city of a few years 
ago find it sadly strange to climb over the heaps of 
dusty rubbish which cover once familiar streets. 
But during the rebuilding, which is progressing rap- 
idly, there is no appreciable diminution of business, 
and the intricate maze of the bazaars still presents 
scenes of marvelous variety and endless fascination. 
There is the Water-pipe Bazaar, where narghileh 
bowls are made out of cocoanuts ornamented with 
gold and silver, the Draper's Bazaar filled with 
shoddy European stuffs, the Saddle Bazaar with its 
brightly covered Arabic saddles and gorgeous ac- 
couterments, the almost forsaken Bazaar of the 
Booksellers, where now hardly a half-dozen poorly 
stocked booths hint at the intellectual conquests of 
the Damascus of centuries gone by, and the Spice 
]\Iarket, whose long rows of bottles scent the air with 
their essences and attars. The Silk Bazaar is the 
most brilliant, and its gaudiest patterns are hung 
out for the inspection of admiring Bedouin visitors. 
The Second-hand Bazaar of the auctioneers is 
conunonly known as the Louse Market, not because 
of the uncomplimentary suspicion which first sug- 
gests itself, but from a very small and agile coin 

[103] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

known by that name, which is frequently used in 
increasing the bids. 

As w& pass along one street after another, we see 
open-front bakers' shops where paper-like loaves are 
sold, still hot from the oven, and confectioners' 
booths filled with all manner of sherbets and jellies 
and delicious preserved fruits and the infinite vari- 
ety of sweet, indigestible pastry in M'hich the Syri- 
ans delight. In one little square there are great 
piles of thin apricot paste which look exactly like 
bundles of brown paper. The merchant offers us 
a sample to taste, but we are not quite sure as to 
the quality of the dust that has been settling upon 
it all the morning. A long towel hung over yonder 
doorway indicates that it is the entrance to a ham- 
mam or public bath, within whose steaming court 
we can see brown, half-naked forms reclining on 
dingy divans. The intricate lattice-work of over- 
hanging balconies guards the harems of the mer- 
chants from the vulgar gaze of the crowds below. 
This little gate, curtained by a hanging rug and 
edged with a line of slippers, leads from the deafen- 
ing tumult of the bazaar to the solemn quiet of a 
cool, spacious mosque. 

From time immemorial the merchant-artisans of 
Damascus have been united in powerful associations. 
There is even a guild of beggars, though, to do them 
justice, these are neither so numerous nor so impor- 
tunate as in most S^-rlan cities. On the other 

[104] 



THE PORT OF THE WILDERNESS 



hand, the curs which infest the busiest streets are 
innumerable and are disgusting in appearance be- 
yond any other dogs I have ever seen. Yet these 
sore, starved racks of bones, with hardly the energy 
to get out of the way of a passing carriage, have 
organizations of their own. At any rate, they rec- 
ognize definite boundaries ; and a dog who ventures 
outside the territory occupied by his own clan does 
so at peril of his life. One evening a friend of mine, 
who is a good mimic, was so unwise as to bark lus- 
tily just as he entered our hotel. In a moment 
every cur in the district was giving voice ; and far 
into the night, as unhappily was all too strongly im- 
pressed upon us, they kept up their vociferous search 
for the unknown intruder. 

But it is never quiet in Damascus. Most Orien- 
tals go to bed very earl}^ Jerusalem is like a city 
of the dead by half-past eight in the evening. The 
Damascenes, however, seem to need no sleep, and 
the noises of the streets never cease. The only no- 
ticeable change in their volume is that, when the 
shops close, just before sunset, the tumult suddenly 
increases. Then, hour after hour, j'ou can hear the 
heavy murmur of the multitude, broken occasionally 
by the voice of someone singing, or by a chorus 
of loud cheers. An interminable succession of songs 
and marches, all of them fortissimo and in a strident 
minor key, shatter what ought to be the midnight 
stillness as they rattle fi'om phonographs whose 

[105] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



Arabic records are prepared by the German subsid- 
iary of an American talking-machine company. 
Very far off, a dog Hfts up his voice in a faint howl 
which starts a pandemonium of barks and growls 
and yelps all over the neighborhood. The freshen- 
ing breeze rustles among the orchards ; then it slams a 
window shut. The bell of a tram-car rings sharply ; 
carriage horns give loud double toots which just fail 
of forming any known musical interval, and always 
there is the sound of water — rushing, purling, rip- 
pling, splashing — the eternal anthem of Damascus' 
greatness. 

So when his second day in this noisy city draws 
to a close, the wise traveler decides that, as there is 
no use trj'ing to get to sleep early, he will go out 
and himself share in the midnight enjoyments. I 
do not know how many cafes there are in Damascus : 
I should be quite ready to believe anyone who 
told me that there were ten thousand. They are 
said to be the finest in Syria. Indeed, the Damas- 
cenes boast that the first of all coffee-shops was estab- 
lished in their city, and also that sherbet was invented 
here. 

The best cafes are situated beside the main branch 
of the Barada. Those near St. Thomas' Gate have 
very attractive shaded gardens, where the tables are 
set out under spreading trees and are surrounded 
by tiny streams of lomning water. An evening 

visit to one of these riverside resorts is a mem- 

[io6] 



THE PORT OF THE WILDERNESS 



orable experience, and It is quite safe; for, unless 
corrupted by European influence, no Moslem ever 
touches alcoholic beverages, and one need therefore 
fear none of the drunken roughness which is asso- 
ciated with the " cafes " — which of course are not 
cafes at all — of Christian America. The Damas- 
cene seeks his recreation amid an atmosphere of ease 
and leisure and refined enjoyment. If a patron 
wishes to dream away the whole evening over one 
cup of coffee or a five-cent nargJiileh, there is no one 
to object. Itinerant musicians beguile the hours of 
darkness with plaintive minor ditties sung to the 
accompaniment of the guitar or zither; story-tellers 
spin endless fairy tales to circles of breathless listen- 
ers, and — alas ! — the tireless phonograph roars its 
brassy songs. Many of the regular habitues of the 
place are absorbed in interminable games of back- 
gammon. Coffee, fruit syrups, pastry, candy, nuts, 
cool water-pipes and mild cigarettes — such are the 
favorite refreshments of the fierce, fanatical Mos- 
lem ! 

As the cups in which the coffee is served are tin}^ 
handleless things, hardly larger than a walnut, they 
are usually set in holders of filigree work. These 
are, as a rule, made of brass, but in homes of wealth 
they may be silver or even gold. The liquor is often 
flavored witli rose-water and is very thick and sv/eet, 
though it will be prepared murr if anyone has such 
an outlandish taste as to prefer it " bitter." The 

[107] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

unpalatable sediment which fills a good third of the 
cup must on no account be stirred up. Many a 
stranger has found to his cost that the coffee is 
served exceedingly hot; and it is a necessity as well 
as a sign of good breeding to keep the lips from 
quite touching the surface and to suck up the drink 
with a loud hissing noise. In a private house, this 
formality should by no means be neglected, even if 
the coffee has become cooled, as the omission would 
be equivalent to a criticism of the host. 

Around the coffee-pot centers the social life of 
the Moslem world. It has an important place in 
every kind of ceremonial and festive occasion, from 
the circumcision of the child to the funeral of the 
old man. The merchant offers it to his prospective 
customer. The desert sheikh starts his women grind- 
ing the beans in a large wooden mortar as soon 
as a stranger enters his tent. Not to give coffee to 
a guest would signify that he was unwelcome.^ It is 
invariably served at the beginning of a call. Later 

5 Some years ago, our minister to Turkey, who had been 
promised an audience with Abdul Hamid, was made to wait 
half a day in an anteroom of the palace without being offered 
coffee. So far as I know, that fact was never published; for 
the American newspapers seem to have quite missed the sig- 
nificance of the omission, and our representative himself ap- 
parently did not realize that he had been publicly insulted. 
But the experienced diplomat who was then in charge of our 
Department of State cabled the minister, in case of further 
affront, to leave Constantinople immediately. 

[io8] 



' THE PORT OF THE WILDERNESS 

on, sherbet is brought in, and then the visitor knows 
that it IS time for him to leave. 

Coffee sometimes plays a more serious part in 
Eastern affairs. Its heavy sweetness disguises 
varied and deadly poisons. The bacilli of typhoid 
fever are said, in this scientific generation, to be 
drunk unsuspectingly by many a venturesome meddler 
in affairs of state. The death penalty is seldom in- 
flicted in the Turkish Empire. Deposed ministers 
and irrepressible busybodies and troublesome reform- 
ers are merely imprisoned or exiled. Often they are 
sent to Damascus. Then, shortly, they die of indi- 
gestion or heart failure. 



[109] 



CHAPTER IX 

THE RICHES OF DAMASCUS 

THE great khans, or wholesale warehouses, of 
Damascus lie in the center of the city near 
the Omayyade Mosque. As a rule they are not 
detached structures, but are hidden by the surround- 
ing shops and are entered through tunnels which 
pierce the sides of the bazaars. The finest of them 
is the Khan Asad Pasha, which was erected a hundred 
years ago by the governor whose name it bears, and 
is still owned by his family. This is one of the 
few really impressive pieces of Arabic architecture 
in Syria, rich and massive, yet effectively adapted 
to the purposes for which it was intended. The 
building is constructed of alternate courses of dark 
brown and yellow limestone, and its principal en- 
trance is a high, vaulted "■ stalactite " gateway cov- 
ered with beautiful carvings. The central court is 
a hundred feet across and, as one comes suddenly 
from the dim light of the crowded bazaar, it seems 
of an astounding brightness and spaciousness. The 
pavement is divided into squares by four pillars, 

and from these spring the arches of nine lofty domes, 

[no] 



THE RICHES OF DAMASCUS 



which are ornamented with elaborate arabesques 
and pierced by a number of small windows. On 
the sides of this great court, and also on a gallery 
above, are the offices of wholesale merchants and 
brokers, and at the rear are situated smaller courts 
and the vaulted storerooms of the khan. Around 
the central fountain between the pillars of the largest 
dome and crowding through the gateway and throng- 
ing the street outside, a vociferous throng of mule- 
teers and camel-drivers are unloading the caravans 
which have come from Beirut on the coast and from 
northern Aleppo and across the desert from the 
Euphrates, bearing the choicest merchandise of the 
East, and some few machine-made products of the 
West, to swell " the riches of Damascus." ^ 

There are real merchant-princes in this busy trad- 
ing-center, and some of them live in royal splendor. 
The houses of the Damascus rich are truly palatial; 
but the stranger would never guess it from their 
exteriors, for the Syrian home has no elaborate 
fa9ade and pretentious approach, such as the Franks 
delight to build. The prime object of the architect 
is to achieve the most absolute retirement for his 
patron. No window ever looks into that of a neigh- 
boring residence ; no passer-by ever glimpses through 
an opened door the Interior of a private dwelling. 
If the Englishman's house is his castle, the Syrian's 

is his retreat. 

1 Isaiah 8:4. 
[Ill] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

You pass along a dirty alley to an insignificant 
wooden door in a high stone wall. Just inside is 
the porter's cell ; then comes a dark, vaulted passage- 
way, which either has a sharp bend in it or else is 
screened at the farther end ; then — 

The open court which you enter may be three 
hundred feet across. Its tessellated pavement is of 
white marble inlaid with arabesques of darker stone. 
In the center is a fountain with designs of colored 
limestone set into its marble walls. Potted flowers 
bloom luxuriantly in the warm sunlight, and birds 
sing to the accompaniment of the splashing water. 
In the grateful shade of small fruit trees are placed 
bright rugs and soft cushions and tabarets made of 
rare woods inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The many 
lofty windows in the red and yellow striped walls of 
the surrounding dwelling are curtained with gor- 
geous silks. 

At one side, usually the south, a spacious alcove 
reaches to the height of the second-story ceiling. 
This lizi'dn, or drawing-room, is entirely open to the 
court; but its floor is raised a foot or two above the 
pavement outside, and its decorations are as rich 
and elaborate as if it were a huge, glittering jewel- 
box. No figures of men or animals are seen, for 
Moslems are forbidden to make representations of 
any living creature in the heavens above or the earth 
beneath or the waters under the earth ; ^ yet it is 

2 According to the most strict Moslem teachers, the com- 



THE RICHES OF DAMASCUS 

astonishing what splendid effects are evolved by 
their architects from the limited elements of Arabic 
script, geometric designs, foliage, fruits and flowers. 
In the liimn this arabesque ornamentation is pro- 
fuse and elegant. The lower walls are built of al- 
ternate layers of differently colored stones, into 
which are set mosaic panels as intricate in design as 
the priceless rugs which lie upon the marble pave- 
ment. The woodwork of the room is all minutely 
carved, and inlaid with bits of glass and mother-of- 
pearl and sometimes even with jewels. The upper 
walls are frescoed in blue and green and gold, and 
from the gilded beams of the ceiling hang chande- 
liers of silver and beaten brass. 

This half out-of-doors alcove gives access to the 
rooms which we should think of as being really in 
the house. Some of these may be even more lav- 
ishly decorated than the liwan, and all are com- 
fortably furnished — according to the Syrian idea 
of comfort. Into the apartments of the ladies, how- 
ever, no male guest may enter. These are liareem 
— " forbidden." Indeed, it is very likely that they 
are in a separate building, which opens on an inner 
court whose existence the casual visitor does not even 
suspect. No men save her nearest relatives are sup- 
posed ever to look upon the unveiled face of a Mos- 
lem woman. This prohibition, however, is of neces- 

mandment of the Prophet (the Koran, sura 5:92, etc.) would 
prohibit the use of even the carved figures of the chess knights. 

[113] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

sity little observed among the poor, hard-working 
peasants and the desert Bedouins ; and in the cities 
the universal characteristics of the female sex have 
not been entirely obliterated by the law of Islam. 
An unusually tliin gauze almost always reveals a 
remarkably beautiful face, and I have seen veils co- 
quettishly dropped — of course by accident — even 
in the bazaars of fanatical Damascus. Yet among 
the upper classes the thought of social intercourse 
between the sexes is so repellent that no good Mos- 
lem ever willingly alludes to his wife. If he is ab- 
solutely forced to speak of her, he apologizes by say- 
ing Ajollak! — "May God lift you up!" — that is, 
from the degradation of having to hear such a thing 
mentioned. He uses the identical expression when 
he refers to anything else unfit to be spoken of in 
conversation between gentlemen. " Men are supe- 
rior to women on account of the qualities with which 
God hath gifted the one above the other," said the 
Prophet.^ There is no place for female suffrage in 
the world of Islam! 

If we think of Damascus as the port of the desert, 
then its wharves lie along the Meidan. This nar- 
row handle of the spoon-shaped city, which stretches 
far southward en both sides of the Derb el-Haj or 
" Pilgrim Road " to Mecca, is a comparatively mod- 
ern quarter; but it is most akin to the wilderness, 
and its one long avenue is thronged with Children 
3 The Koran, sura 4:38. 
E114] 



THE RICHES OF DAMASCUS 



of the East who have journeyed far to visit what they 
firmly believe to be the world's largest and most beau- 
tiful city. Long caravans, weary, dusty and heav- 
ily laden, are led Into the Meidan by wild-look- 
ing, shaggy Bedouins. A little flock of sheep 
on Its way to the slaughter-house Is driven by no 
gentle shepherd, but a black-bearded giant armed 
with rifle and dagger and club. Groaning camels 
kneel In the street while Immense sacks of wheat are 
untied from their backs and rolled into the vaults of 
the grain-merchants. We see here the choicest mares 
of Arabia ridden by tall, stalwart Hauran Druses 
whose cruel, handsome faces, wrapped around with 
flowing headgears of spotless white, look down upon 
the hurrying crowds with a haughty contempt. 
Yonder group of strangely dressed fellows with red 
and white cloths bound about their brows are Chal- 
deans from Baghdad. The shops here seem very 
poor and shabby In comparison with the bazaars 
of the older quarters ; but the simple country folk, 
and even the proud Bedouin Arabs, stand spellbound 
before the astounding wealth and bewildering tumult 
of the great city. 

The south end of the INIeidan is known as the Gate 
of Allah — though It has no gate ; for it Is here, 
amid impressive ceremonies, that there starts the an- 
nual Pilgrimage to Mecca.^ Back to the same Bab 

* In this effete generation, however, those who have the in- 
clination and the money mav take the sacred railway as far 

[IIS] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

Allah straggle, four months later, a sick and ex- 
hausted remnant who have survived the journey to 
the holy city, to bear henceforth the envied title of 
haj or " pilgrim." Then cholera or plague breaks 
out with renewed virulence. 

Of the ancient fortifications of Damascus, only a 
short, ruinous piece now remains. The city is sur- 
rounded, between the houses and the orchards, by 
an almost unbroken succession of cemeteries. In the 
burying ground of the Orthodox Greeks is the small, 
unimpressive tomb of St. George, who is said to have 
assisted the Apostle Paiil in his escape over the wall. 
This cannot, of course, be the same St. George who 
killed the dragon, as the hero of that famous exploit 
was not born until nearly three hundred years after 
the time of Paul. 

In the large Moslem cemeteries at the southeast 
of the city are the tombs of Mohammed's muezzin, 
two of his nine wives, and his favorite child, Fatima. 
Not far from the sepulcher of the Prophet's 
daughter, though outside of the cemetery, is buried 
an unfortunate Jew who aspired to the hand of 
Fatima. The presumptuous lover is said to have 
been stoned to death, and his grave is now entirely 
hidden under a great heap of the rocks which pass- 
as Medina, and for many years the majority of the pilgrims 
from outside of Syria have traveled by steamer to Jeddah, 
the seaport of Mecca — under the direction of an English tour- 
ist agency! 

[ii6] 



THE RICHES OF DAMASCUS 



ing Moslems still cast upon it as a sign of their con- 
tempt. 

Just outside of Damascus, also, is a sad house of 
" life more terrible than death." It was once, they 
say, the residence of proud Naaman, and it is still 
tenanted by lepers who, alas, have known no Elisha 
and washed in no healing Jordan. My Syrian 
friends were afraid even to enter its court, but I 
talked with eight of the thirty or forty inmates. 
Some were voiceless and shapeless — grotesque, hor- 
rible caricatures of humanity. But there was still a 
" little maid " in the House of Naaman. INIiriam 
was a pretty, slender girl, just beginning to burst 
into the bloom of early Eastern adolescence. She 
seemed the very incarnation of health and youth- 
ful joy, and could hardly stop laughing long enough 
for me to take her photograph. Yet I could not 
laugh with her; for on the rich brown of her cheek 
was a tiny pinkish swelling, and close beside her 
graceful form crouched an awful figure, loathsome, 
unsmiling and unwomanly, like which she would some 
day be. 

Over the now closed Kisan Gate at the southeast 
corner of the city wall is a small, bricked-up win- 
dow, through which tradition says that St. Paul was 
let down in a basket. Unfortunately for the story, 
this part of the fortification dates from the Turkish 
occupation. The bend of the wall includes, however, 
as it probably has always done, the Jewish Quarter. 

[117] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

The Hebrews of Damascus are unique among their 
coreligionists of Palestine and Syria in that they 
are not comparatively recent immigrants drawn back 
to the land of their fathers by Zionist ideals, but are 
descended from ancestors who settled here in very an- 
cient times. ^ Some of them bear family names which 
can be read in the earliest census lists of the Old 
Testament. Many of them are very estimable peo- 
ple ; but I cannot describe the quarter where they 
live, further than to state that it is the most filthy 
and malodorous place I have yet visited. I am not 
especially squeamish ; I have often, for the sake of 
the human interest found there, traveled in Mediter- 
ranean steerages and lived in the slums of great cap- 
itals ; but after a brief glimpse of the Jewish Quarter 
of Damascus, I beat an ignominious retreat. There 
are said to be houses there whose interiors are won- 
derfully beautiful; but I am not going back to see 
them. 

There are in all five " quarters " in Damascus : 
the Christian and the Jewish at the east, the peasant 
market of the Meidan at the south, the suburb of el- 
Amara north of the Barada, and the Moslem heart 
of the city. The " Street called Straight," « which 

5 See further the author's The Real Palestine of To-day, 
chapter VII. 

6 Acts 9:11. The ancient name has survived, or possibly has 
been revived, and the thoroughfare is still called Derb el- 
Mustakim or " Straight Street." Its more common name, how- 
ever, is Suk et-Tawilek, the " Long Bazaar." 

l"8] 



THE RICHES OF DAMASCUS 

cuts across the center of the bazaar district from 
east to west, may roughly be considered the dividing 
line between the Jewish and the Christian Quarters. 
The flippant jest to the effect that the writer of the 
Acts said only that the thoroughfare was " called " 
straight, is hardly justified by the facts. This is, 
in fact, the straightest, longest street in all Damas- 
cus, as well as one of the widest. It was once di- 
vided into three parallel roadways by Corinthian col- 
onnades, some few remains of which can still be 
found. To-da}'^ it is covered for half its length with 
a high, arching metal roof, and contains many of 
the largest and most modern stores in the city. 

Beside tliis busy bazaar the Damascus Moslems 
show the tomb of the disciple Ananias, whose memory 
they hold in great respect. His reputed residence, 
which lies some distance away in the center of the 
Christian Quarter, is in charge of Latin monks. All 
that remains of the house is a low, cave-like chapel, 
twenty or more feet below the street. By itself, 
however, this fact furnishes no argument against the 
correctness of the location ; for the level of every 
crumbling, undrained Syrian city constantly rises 
century by century. 

Turning now into the Moslem Quarter, we pass 

through a tasteful little garden, closely planted with 

shade trees, and enter an unpretentious building. 

Here rests one of the greatest Moslem heroes and 

the most formidable opponent of the Crusaders — 

[1 19] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

the invincible Salali ed-Din, whose sonorous name 
we Franks pronounce " Saladin." It seems very 
strange that the tomb of this valiant champion of 
Islam was long unhonored, if not entirely unknown, 
by the inhabitants of Damascus, until it was discov- 
ered fifty years ago by an American missionary. 
The original casket of walnut has since been re- 
placed by an exquisitely carved marble sarcopha- 
gus, upon which lies a cover of green silk. In a 
niche of the wall at the foot of the tomb now hangs 
the large bronze wreath given by the German Em- 
peror in memory of his visit to Damascus. One 
hopes that it was a Christian spirit of forgiveness 
which prompted the placing of a Maltese cross on this 
tribute to the Crusaders' greatest foeman. But as 
soon as the Christian emblem was noticed by the cus- 
todian of the tomb, the wreath was removed from its 
original position on the sarcophagus. 

The one notable ancient building in Damascus is 
the great mosque of Nehy Yahya or " St. John," bet- 
ter known to the Western world as the Omayyade 
Mosque. The site where this stands has probably 
always been marked by a place of worship, and the 
present structure is some of those immemorial reli- 
gious edifices which, so far as we definitely know, 
was never built, but only rebuilt. It was doubtless 
here that there stood the House of Rimmon in which 

Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, 

[120] 




The street called Straight 



•~^"*^&IS^;^-rf? 




THE RICHES OF DAMASCUS 

bowed down with his royal masterJ About the year 
400 A. D. the then Roman temple was transformed 
into the Church of St. John the Baptist. When 
Damascus fell into the hands of the Omayyade Dy- 
nasty in the seventh century, the Christian house of 
worship was converted into a mosque of such mirac- 
ulous splendor that the vast multitude of human art- 
ists and artisans who labored upon it were later be- 
lieved to have been assisted by the genii. All Syria 
was ransacked for ancient columns to adorn the new 
structure. The pavement was of the most expensive 
marbles, the prayer-niches and pulpits were set with 
jewels, the carved wooden ceiling was inlaid with pre- 
cious metals, and six hundred hanging lamps of solid 
gold cast their mellow light upon the exquisite mo- 
saic decorations. Since then, the building has been 
burned and burned again, and at each restoration 
has lost something of its former magnificence. Yet 
still it ranks with St. Sophia of Constantinople, the 
Dome of the Rock at Jerusalem and the Sacred 
IMosque of Mecca, as one of the greatest of Moslem 
sanctuaries. 

Time would fail to tell of its size and splendor, 
its holy impressiveness to Moslem eyes, and the in- 
spiring views from its lofty minarets. In its great 
court rise the Dome of the Hours and the Dome of 
the Fountain, which is believed to mark a point on 

7 II Kings 5:18. 
£I2I] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

the Pilgrim Route exactly half-way between Con- 
stantinople and Mecca, and the Dome of the Treas- 
ure, where, hidden jealously from infidel eyes, are 
kept the sacred books and the records of the mosque. 
Above tower three minarets, which are known as 
the Western, the Bride's and — strange as this name 
may at first seem — the Minaret of Jesus. The 
Moslems, however, believe that 'Isa, as they call Him, 
was one of the greatest of the prophets, hardly, if 
at all, inferior to Mohammed himself ; ^ and the " Son 
of Mary " is held in unusual reverence by the inhab- 
itants of Damascus, who say that He will stand upon 
this minaret at the Last Judgment. 

The mosque itself extends along the entire south- 
ern side of the court. I know of no other non-Gothic 
structure which seems so well fitted to uplift one's 
thoughts in solemn, spiritual worship of the unseen 

8 Jesus is frequently mentioned in the Koran as a prophet, 
though His divinity is denied and the Christian Trinity is 
misunderstood by Mohammed as consisting of the Father, Son 
and Virgin Mary. Characteristic passages are: "O Mary! 
Verily God announces to thee the Word from Him: his name 
shall be Messiah Jesus the Son of Marj^ illustrious in this 
world and in the next, and one of those who have near ac- 
cess to God. And He will teach him the Book, and the Wis- 
dom, and the Law, and the Evangel, and he shall be an apostle 
to the Children of Israel" (Sura 3:40, 43). But— "It be- 
seemeth not God to beget a son" (Sura 19:36). "God shall 
say, O Jesus, Son of Mary, hast thou said unto mankind, Take 
me and my mother as two gods, besides God?" (Sura 5:116). 
"Jesus is no more than a servant whom We favored" (Sura 
43:59). 

[122] 



THE RICHES OF DAMASCUS 

God. Here are no confusing chapels, no gaudy pic- 
tures or distracting statues, no gilded altar lit by 
smoking candles, no thin blue clouds of slowly rising 
incense. All is clean, bright, commodious, and yet 
of an appropriate richness and beauty. A careful 
inspection shows that the architects used the ground- 
plan of a basilica Avith aisles and transepts ; but, in 
spite of the two rows of columns and the heavier pil- 
lars which support the central " Dome of the Eagle," 
the chief and lasting impression of the mosque is its 
ample, unbroken spaciousness. 

The building is larger even than the visitor first 
thinks: a hundred and fifty paces will hardly take 
him from one end of it to the other. Its stone floor 
is entirely covered by rugs, whose variegated patterns 
have worn to a dull, somber tint. From the lofty 
ceiling a multitude of lamps and several gigantic 
chandeliers are hung by long chains, so low that 
they just clear the head of a tall man. Be- 
tween two of the columns stands a lavishly deco- 
rated, domed structure which is said to contain the 
head of John the Baptist, after whom the mosque 
is named. The shrine is about the size of the Chapel 
of the Sepulcher at Jerusalem, but it seems smaller 
on account of the far larger building which surrounds 
it. In the south wall of the mosque — toward 
Mecca — are four shallow prayer-niches, and near 
the middle of this side stands a tall, graceful pulpit, 
whose minute and elaborate inlaj's of silver and ivory 

[123] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

and mother-of-pearl make it a marvel of chaste rich- 
ness. Unlike all Oriental churches and most other 
mosques, there is comparatively little gold used in 
the decoration of this great building. The prevailing 
colors are cool white and blue and silver, and the 
really immense amount of mosaic and inlaid work 
seems hardly more than delicate tracery upon the 
broad, unbroken surfaces. 

Such is the Great Mosque when it is empty, a 
fitting place for quiet communion and solemn con- 
templation of the vastness and unhurried power of 
the Almighty. But when you behold this same 
building thronged with strangely garbed, proud, in- 
tellectual-looking and intensely devout men — 
women are seldom seen in mosques — you feel the 
grip of something portentous, irresistible, relent- 
less. Long lines of turbaned figures facing toward 
the holy city of Arabia, now bending low together 
like a field of wheat swept by the summer breeze, now 
standing erect with arms outstretched toward Allah 
the Merciful and Compassionate, reciting their con- 
fession of faith in shrill, quick tones which lose their 
individuality in a tremendous momentum of sound 
like the wave-beat of the sea — these thousands of 
worshipers have firm hold on a great truth, though 
it be but a half-truth ; they believe in their religion 
with an impregnable, unquestioning confidence, and 
they render to its precepts an implicit obedience 

such as is not enforced by any Christian sect in the 

[124] 



THE RICHES OF DAMASCUS 

world. They would gladly die for the faith of Is- 
lam, and nothing but the strong restraint of Euro- 
pean armaments holds them back from again raising 
the standard of the Propliet and setting forth on a 
new jahad, or holy war, in obedience to the sacred 
mandate, " When ye encounter the unbelievers, 
strike off their heads until ye have made a great 
slaughter among them. ... As for the infidels, let 
them perish, and their works shall God bring to 
nought. . . . And their dwelling the hell fire ! . . . 
Be not faint-hearted then, and invite not the infidels 
to peace ! " ® 

Be he preacher or statesman, that man is a fool 
and blind who does not realize the tremendous vital- 
ity and undiminished strength of Mohammedanism, 
the power instinct in its half-truths, and the unsleep- 
ing menace of its essential antagonism to all the 
" infidel " world. Politicall}^ Islam is being rapidly 
shorn of its power ; but as a religion — a religion 
for which men will cheerfully give their lives — 
it has lost no whit of its potency. As the cry of the 
muezzin echoes across the earth to-day from Japan 
to Gibraltar, there are, not fewer, but many millions 
more who obey its call than there were four cen- 
turies ago when Mohammed II. hurled his Turkish 
regiments against the ramparts of a then Christian 
Constantinople. 

The Omayyade Mosque, as has been said, was once 
»The Koran, sura 47:4, 9, 13, 37. 
[125] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

a church. In the marble wall beside its most beauti- 
ful prayer-niche is set a large mosaic panel, among 
whose intricate geometric traceries there stand out 
distinctly three large Maltese crosses. The Moslem 
artist apparently copied the design from some ear- 
lier decoration without realizing that he was includ- 
ing the hated symbol of Christianity. So the wor- 
shipers in the Great Mosque who face towards Mecca 
face also the Cross ! 

But the strangest feature of this ancient sanctu- 
ary is seldom viewed by travelers ; for it is hard to 
reach, and dragomans are averse to taking the neces- 
sary trouble. You must go to the Joiners' Bazaar, 
which lies just south of the mosque, and borrow a 
long ladder. Setting this up in the busy street, 
you then climb through a small hole which has been 
broken in the wall just under the roof of the covered 
bazaar, and step out upon a dusty housetop. Here 
is seen a bit of an old stone portal, elaborately 
carved with leaves and flowers, and bearing on its 
lintel the unexpected Greek inscription, standing out 
clearly in capital letters — 

THY KINGDOM, O CHRIST, IS AN EVERLASTING KING- 
DOM, 

AND THY DOMINION ENDURETH THROUGHOUT ALL 
GENERATIONS. 

It is a startling, suggestive sentence to read upon 

[126] 



THE RICHES OF DAMASCUS 

the wall of the greatest mosque of fanatical Moslem 
Damascus. But you have to get up on the house- 
tops before you can read the promise that is written 
there. 



[127] 



CHAPTER X 

THE DESERT CAPITAL 

JUST half-way along the ancient caravan route 
which runs northeast from Damascus to the Eu- 
phrates River are the ruins of one of the most 
remarkable cities of history ; for here, in the midst 
of the desert, Palmyra attained a wonderful degree 
of wealth and culture, and a military power which 
for a time rivaled that of Rome itself. 

The road thither is nearly always in the desert. 
This is not, however, a level waste of sand ; on the con- 
trary, it is often quite a hilly country, where for 
hours at a time the traveler passes along narrow 
valleys between steep, rugged heights. The trail 
has been beaten so hard by the tread of innumerable 
caravans that one could ride all the way to Palmyra 
on a bicycle. In fact, tourist agents used sometimes 
to take parties there by automobile. But this prac- 
tice was soon abandoned, because break-downs were 
frequent, and there were no garages where repairs 
might be made. Our own party traveled on horse- 
back, with the heavy luggage carried by several 

donkeys and one very lively pack-camel who took ad- 

E128] 



THE DESERT CAPITAL 



vantage of every possible opportunity to run away 
across the desert. 

However you may go to Palmyra, it is not an 
easy journey. In summer the sun is fearfully hot, 
and in winter the wilderness wind is piercingly cold ; 
the water along the route, while perhaps not actually 
unhealthful, is warm and evil-tasting and full of ani- 
mal life; unless you carry your own tent you must 
sleep in hovels which are filthy and insect-ridden, 
and marauding bands of Bedouins hover about, watch- 
ing for a chance to rob the luckless traveler. 

Two days' journey from Damascus, near the an- 
cient and now very squalid village of Karyatein, are 
a number of ruins which date from Grjeco-Roman 
times. One of these, an extensive sanitarium, is 
known as the " Bath of Balkis " — the traditional 
name of the Queen of Sheba. Within the enclosure 
is a vaulted room with a paved floor, in the middle of 
which an opening some ten inches in diameter sends 
forth a current of moist, hot, sulphurous air. The 
lieat of this room was so suffocating that we could 
endure it only for a moment; but the air is believed 
to be beneficial for certain diseases, and in Roman 
days the place was very popular as a health resort. 

From Karyatein the trail strikes across a broad 

plain between two mountain ranges. This plain is 

about fifty miles, or eighteen camel-hours, long, and 

its springs are very few and very poor. The Syrian 

Desert shows no vegetation in summer except a low 

[129] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



salsolaceous thorn-bush, wliich the Arabs burn for 
its soda ash. This plant is called al-koli, whence 
comes our word " alkali." It was formerly exten- 
sively used in the manufacture of soap ; but on ac- 
count of the Importation of cheaper materials it 
no longer has any commercial value. 

In the middle of the day the heat was Intense. Our 
heads were protected from the direct rays of the sun 
by thick pith helmets, but the reflection of the cloud- 
less sky upon the whitish marl of the plain scorched 
our faces and the flies were a torment to all except 
the camel, whose thick hide seemed proof against their 
attacks. 

We had planned to replenish our canteens at Ain 
el-Wu*ul ; but the wells there proved to be choked 
with locusts, and at Ain el-Beida, which we reached 
after fourteen hours In the saddle, we found the wa- 
ter so strongly Impregnated with sulphur that it 
tasted like a dose of warm medicine. This was the 
last spring in the district, however, so we had no 
choice but to drink the nauseating stuffs. 

A small garrison of Turkish soldiers was stationed 
in this out-of-the-way place to protect caravans 
against the Bedouins, who roam the desert In the 
hope of plundering unwary travelers. These rob- 
ber tribes view their nefarious occupation as a legit- 
imate business, a feature of desert life which has be- 
come, so to speak, legalized by Immemorial custom. 

[130] 



THE DESERT CAPITAL 



They regard the traveler exactly as the hunter does 
his prey — a bounty sent by Providence, which it 
would be ungrateful for them not to accept. They 
will strip their victim to the skin, but are careful 
not to take his life unless resistance is offered. They 
leave him naked in the wilderness under the protection 
of Allah, who must take the responsibility, should the 
poor fellow perish from hunger and thirst and ex- 
posure. 

Early the next morning we saw a band of such 
Arab raiders passing across the plain a few miles 
west of us, and all day we proceeded with the greatest 
caution, for fear they might swoop down upon us. 
We afterwards learned that their last foray had been 
unsuccessful, and consequently they were returning 
to their encampment in an unamiable frame of mind 
which would have boded ill to us if we had happened 
to cross their path. 

Midway between Ain el-Beida and Palmyra, we 
made a detour to visit some mountains a little dis- 
tance to the left of tlie trail. We found here two 
altars about six feet high, bearing bi-lingual inscrip- 
tions in Greek and Palmy rcne, wliich related that 
they had been erected on Islarch 21 of the year of 
Palmyra 4-25 (114< A. D.), and were dedicated to the 
" Most High God." Near by could be seen the 
broken base of a third monument, but there were no 
other indications of human handiwork. We con- 

[131] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

eluded that these altars must mark the course of the 
ancient highway, which the city was under obligation 
to maintain and protect. 

The hills on either side of the plain now drew very 
much nearer to us and, as we approached the nar- 
row pass which leads to the desert city, we saw be- 
side the road several strange mortuary towers. 
These are as characteristic a feature of the environs 
of Palmyra as are the tombs on the Appian Way of 
the approach to Rome. Several of the structures 
are in a fair state of preservation and show clearly 
the original form and use. They were each of three 
or four stories, the upper floors being reached by in- 
side stairways. Each story consisted of one square 
room surrounded by loculi for the reception of the 
dead, and before these, or standing within the room, 
were statues of the persons entombed in the niches. 
The statues either have been badly mutilated by the 
Arabs, who have a religious aversion to all such 
" idolatrous " representations, or have been de- 
stroyed by the vandalism of ignorant dealers in an- 
tiquities who, when they found it inconvenient to 
carry off whole figures, would break them and smug- 
gle away the fragments. Many such heads, arms 
and feet have found their way to the coast cities of 
Syria, and some few have been sold to European pal- 
aces and museums. 

Our long journey down the pass ended at a low 
saddle between the hills, and we at last looked down 

[132] 



THE DESERT CAPITAL 



upon Palmyra itself. Just below us stretched a 
vast, confused mass of broken, reddish stones, from 
which rose here and there a group of graceful col- 
umns or the massive wall of a ruined temple. Back 
of the city were the desert hills; before it lay the 
desert plain. Built by a spring at the crossroads of 
the wilderness — surely no other of the world's great 
capitals had so strange a site as this one ! 

The thrilling story of Palmyra's rise and fall 
has been enshrined in poetry and romance and has 
inspired the painter's genius. The city lay, as has 
been said, midway between Damascus and the Eu- 
phrates, on the most fertile oasis along the ancient 
caravan route. It thus early became the center of 
the trade between the Mediterranean countries and 
the heart of western Asia. If, as Is probable, the 
Tadmor or Tamar (Palm City) of the Bible ^ Is 
the same as Palmyra, then it was built (or, more 
probably, rebuilt) by Solomon; but it does not 
again emerge into historical notice until about the 
beginning of the Christian era, when Mark Antony 
led an unsuccessful expedition against It. Still later, 
the Roman emperors recognized Palmyra as an 
important ally and buffer-state against the inroads 
of the Parthlans. In the third century the Empire 
was thrown Into a state of anarchy by continual 
contests between rival claimants for the throne; so, 
though In theory distant Palmyra was only a " col- 

il Kings 9:18. 
[133] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

ony," it was in fact given, or better, allowed to as- 
sume, a practical independence. Its ruler Oden- 
athus II. bore the title of Augustus, which was in- 
ferior only to that of Emperor. After his death he 
was known as the " King of kings." In reality, he 
was the absolute ruler of a sovereign state. 

When Valerian had been put to rout by Sapor of 
Persia, it was Odenathus who decisively defeated the 
invaders, saved the Roman Empire from what seemed 
certain overthrow, and incidentally added Mesopo- 
tamia to his own royal domains. This king of Pal- 
myra would doubtless have proved a formidable ri- 
val of the emperor, had not his life been cut short 
by assassination in the year 266. 

Odenathus was succeeded by his son Vahballathus ; 
but the real ruler was his widow Bath Zebina, better 
known to the Western world by the Greek form of 
her name, Zenobia. If we consider her intellectual 
power, administrative ability and personal character, 
Zenobia ranks as one of the greatest, if not the gi'eat- 
est, of all queens. She was as gifted in military af- 
fairs as Semiramis, as strong a ruler as Elizabeth, as 
beautiful as her ancestor Cleopatra, more learned 
than Catherine, and her private life was never 
touched by the breath of calumny. 

She is described as of surpassing loveliness, ac- 
cording to the Oriental type of beauty, with spark- 
ling black eyes, pearly teeth and a commanding pres- 
ence. She spoke Greek and Coptic fluently and knew 

[134] 



%'^Uk 





p 



iEfaHEav'. 




The Triple Gate and the Temple of the Sun 



THE DESERT CAPITAL 



some Latin, in addition, of course, to her native Ara- 
mean. She drew up for her own use an epitome of 
history, dehghted in reading Homer and Plato, 
and beguiled her leisure by discussing philosophy 
with the famous scholar Longinus, whom she per- 
suaded to take up a permanent residence at her 
court. 

Her physical endurance was remarkable. While 
her husband was living, she was accustomed to ac- 
company him on his hunting expeditions. After the 
death of Odenathus, she habitually rode at the head 
of her armies on a fiery stallion, from which, however, 
she would often dismount, so that she might share the 
fatifiTie of the march with the common soldiers. It 
is no wonder that such a leader — beautiful, pure, 
brave, queenly yet friendly — inspired in her armies 
an intense personal loyalty and an unquestioning as- 
sent to her most daring plans. Without a murmur 
they followed their beloved queen into the fearful 
struggle Avith the world-empire. 

At the very beginning of her reign, she threw down 
the gauntlet to Rome. The sway of Palmyra 
already extended over Armenia and Mesopotamia. 
An army of 70,000 men now defeated the Roman 
legions by the Nile and annexed Egypt. Zenobia 
next pushed her victorious banners northward to the 
very .shores of tlie Bosphorus. When the newly 
elected emperor Aurelian insisted that she should 
formally acknowledge his sovereignty, her answer 

[135] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

was a bold defiance and a proclamation of herself and 
her son as supreme rulers of the whole East. 

Aurelian, however, was of different stuff from his 
weakling predecessors. In the year 272 he brought 
an immense army to Syria, defeated the forces of 
Zenobia at Antioch and then, following quickly after 
the retreating Palmyrenes, routed them again near 
the city of Emesa (modern Horns) and demanded of 
Zenobia that she surrender. The haughty answer 
was that her enemy had not yet even begun to test 
the valor and resources of Palmyra. 

So the great araiy of Rome laid siege to the desert 
stronghold. The winter and spring wore on, and 
Zenobia was still unconquered. Whenever Aurelian 
summoned her to capitulate, she responded with an- 
other bold defiance. But at last it became clear that 
her capital was doomed ; so the queen, escaping the 
vigilance of the Roman sentries, slipped away from 
the city and fled across the desert toward the Eu- 
phrates. Just as she reached the bank of the river, 
however, she was overtaken and brought back captive. 
Yet her proud spirit remained unbroken. When Au- 
relian reproached her for her obstinate and useless 
rebellion, she answered with calm dignity that the 
course of events had indeed proved his supremacy", 
but that the previous emperors had not shown them- 
selves to be superior to her, and she had therefore 
been justified in opposing their authority. 

In spite of the stubborn resistance of the city, Au- 

[136] 



THE DESERT CAPITAL 



relian did not now destroy Palmyra or treat its in- 
habitants cruelly. But when he reached the Bos- 
phorus on his way back to Rome, word came that 
the Palmyrenes had already revolted and had slain 
the Roman garrison left by the conqueror. There- 
upon he quickly retraced his march and recaptured 
the city without difficulty. This time the enraged 
emperor ordered the beautiful capital to be razed and 
allowed his soldiers to engage in an awful massacre. 
Neither women nor children were spared, and when 
the avenging army finally left the unhappy city, its 
splendid buildings were but heaps of dusty rubbish, 
among which hid a miserable remnant of its heart- 
broken inhabitants. Thus departed forever the 
glory of Palmyra. 

The heart of the world has been touched by the 
pathetic spectacle of proud, beautiful Zenobia led cap- 
tive through the streets of Rome to grace Aurelian's 
triumphal procession. Yet the emperor seems to 
have treated his captive with unusual consideration 
and respect, and he generously bestowed upon her a 
large estate near Tivoli. There, in the company of 
her two sons, she passed the rest of her days quietly, 
though we dare not hope happily. 

Palmyra was afterwards partially rebuilt by Dio- 
cletian and was fortified b}- Justinian, who made it a 
garrison town ; but it never regained its former pros- 
perity. The city was overrun by the desert Arabs, 
and suffered severely during the conflicts among the 

[137] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

rival Moslem conquerors of Syria. In the year 745 
it was again destroyed; in the eleventh and twelfth 
centuries it suffered from severe earthquakes ; in 1401 
it was plundered by the Tartar Tamerlane; in the 
sixteenth century it was taken by the Druses, and in 
the seventeenth it was razed by the Turks. For 
many generations the ancient city on the oasis was 
completely unknown to the Western world, though 
the wandering Bedouins delighted to talk of the mar- 
velous ruins in the midst of the great desert. 

Modern Tadmor — for it has taken again its old 
Semitic name — is but a wretched Arab hamlet of 
perhaps three hundred inhabitants, whose mud-plas- 
tered hovels lie in the midst of imposing ruins. Fully 
a square mile of the plain is strewn with the debris of 
temples, palaces and majestic colonnades. Many col- 
umns are still standing, after having braved the wars 
and earthquakes of sixteen centuries ; but by far the 
greater number of them lie prone on the ground, half 
buried by the drifting dust. 

The most prominent object that meets the eye is 
the Great Temple of Baal, the sun-god, which stands 
on a high platform overlooking the plain. Although 
Aurelian himself had this edifice restored after the 
final subjugation of Palmyra, it has. since been badly 
damaged by earthquakes and defaced by the fa- 
naticism of Moslem iconoclasts. Yet eight of its tall 
fluted columns and pi*actically all of one side-wall 
enable us to guess Avhat must have been the beauty of 

[138] 



THE DESERT CAPITAL 



this structure when it was the chief sanctuary of 
Zenobia's capital. 

Other ruins rise above the intricate mass of fallen 
columns which cover the area occupied by the ancient 
city. This huge pile of carved stones surmounted 
by a broken portico was once the royal palace. 
Yonder curving colonnade includes the fragments of 
the theater. Smaller temples are recognized here 
and there, and on the hillside at the edge of the oasis 
can be seen a number of the tall, square towers which 
were built as burial-places for the wealthier families. 

But the chief architectural glory of ancient Pal- 
myra was its far-famed Street of Columns. This im- 
posing avenue stretched from the western edge of the 
oasis to the Temple of the Sun, a distance of about 
three-quarters of a mile. On each side of it was a 
continuous, elaborately carved entablature, supported 
by nearly four hundred columns of reddish-brown 
limestone. About two-thirds of the way up these 
columns were corbels which, as the inscriptions still 
show, bore statues of prominent citizens. At every 
important crossing, whence other colonnaded avenues 
stretched to the right and left, four massive granite 
pillars supported a vaulted tetrapylan or quadruple 
gate. 

Over a hundred of the columns of this beautiful 
avenue are still standing in their places, and large 
portions of the entablature remain unbroken. One 
can easily follow the course of the colonnade and 

[139] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

understand its relation to adjoining structures; and 
the traveler must be sadly lacking in imagination who 
cannot sometimes, as the light of the twentieth cen- 
tury day grows dimmer, see a dream city of won- 
drous, unbroken beauty stand proud again beneath 
the calm, still gleaming of the desert stars. Not 
shattered stones but well-built homes and busy ba- 
zaars spread far outward from the foot of the 
mountain; a multitude of graceful pillars stand up- 
right around the palaces and temples of a mighty 
capital, and between the long lines of statues on the 
reddish shafts of the great colonnade a splendid vista 
reaches to the triumphal arch and then, through its 
triple portals, to where the Temple of the Sun keeps 
silent watch over a city of imperial grandeur and 
a queen who sees visions of world-wide dominion. 

The few hundred residents of Tadmor are of 
Arab blood, but the Bedouins of the surrounding 
desert consider them a poor, degenerate race, as 
doubtless they are. Shortly before we visited the 
village, its slieikh had made a wonderful trip to Paris 
as guest of a French lady who had previously trav- 
eled through the desert under his guidance. It 
seemed very strange, in this lonely little hamlet 
among the ruins of a vanished people, to hear an Arab 
sheikh tell stories — and he loved to tell them — 
about his adventures in the most modern of twentieth 
century capitals. 

We were so fortunate as to be invited to a great 

[140] 



THE DESERT CAPITAL 



feast which the sheikh gave the entire vijlage in honor 
of his birthday. Feeding the poor in this wholesale 
way is regarded by the Arabs as a deed of great merit. 
A slaughtered camel provided the 'piece de resistance 
of the banquet. In the center of the room was placed 
an enormous tray piled with a mountain of burghul, 
or boiled wheat, into which hdd been inserted huge 
pieces of camel's meat. A large funnel-shaped de- 
pression had been scooped out in the top of the pile 
and filled with melted butter. This percolated 
through the mass and added the final touch of flavor 
to what was — if you liked it — a most rich and de- 
licious repast. The anxious villagers were then ad- 
mitted in groups of eight or ten. They immediately 
squatted around the tray, thrust their hands into the 
mass, grasped as much as they could, plunged it into 
their mouths and, in order not to lose any time, swal- 
lowed it with as little mastication as possible. One 
greedy fellow got an unusually large chunk of camel's 
meat into his throat and, as a consequence, nearly 
choked to death before his comrades relieved him by 
strenuous blows upon his back. 

In order to visit Hama, we returned from Pal- 
myra by another route ; and, as a large part of this 
journey was to be across a trackless, waterless and 
absolutely uninhabited desert, we engaged a Bedouin 
to act as our guide. 

Not long after setting out, we passed through a 
gap in the hills a quarter of a mile wide, whose sides 

[141] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

. . . _ i. I, 

were almost as perpendicular as if they had been walls 
shaped by the hand of man. The locality is called 
Marhat Antar, that is, " Antar's Hitching-place." 
Antar is the hero of many a fabulous exploit among 
the Arabs, much as was Hercules among the Greeks ; 
and the prodigies of valor which he performed in 
defense of his tribe are celebrated In song and story. 
Among other wonderful feats, he is said to have 
leaped his horse across this deep ravine from cliff to 
cliff. 

The first day's journey homeward brought us to 
el-Wesen, a well where we had expected to lay in a 
supply of water for the long ride across the arid wil- 
derness ; but, to our intense disappointment, we found 
the water foul with dead locusts. Our Arabs, how- 
ever, swallowed the nauseating fluid with great gusto, 
apparently rejoicing that they could obtain both 
food and drink in the same mouthful ; and, as it was a 
case of necessity, we managed to cook some food with 
the water, and even drank a little of it in the form 
of very strong tea which disguised somewhat the in- 
sect flavor. 

The next morning we were ready for the start at 

four o'clock and traveled all day through a rolling, 

treeless country, which in summer is absolutely bare 

of vegetation. At sunset we halted for two hours in 

order to rest and feed the animals. Then Ave mounted 

again for an all-iu'ght ride; for we did not dare sleep 

until we had come to water. There was no trail 

[142] 



THE DESERT CAPITAL 



visible to us, but our guide held steadily on through 
the darkness. During the long night we could see 
ahead of us his white camel, keeping straight on the 
course with no apparent aid save the twinkling stars 
above. There was such danger of falling in with one 
of the robber tribes which infest this district that we 
were warned not to speak above a whisper. The 
poor donkeys also received a hint not to bray. Each 
of them had a halter looped tightly around his neck. 
As soon as an animal was seen to raise his nose in 
preparation for an ecstatic song, some one would 
quickly tighten the noose and, to our amusement and 
the donkey's very evident disgust, the only sound to 
issue from his throat would be a thin gurgling whine. 
As the night drew on we became so sleepy that we 
could hardly sit in the saddles, and before morning 
dawned we were burning with thirst. Our guide led 
us to another spring. Not only was it full of long- 
dead locusts, but a wild pig was wallowing in the 
filthy water! Even the Arabs refused to drink from 
the pool that had been defiled by the unclean beast. 
There was nothing to do but to push on again. We 
had been twenty-six hours in the saddle, with nothing 
to drink save " locust-tea," when at last we came to a 
little village by a running stream of clear, limpid 
water — and our desert journey was safely over. 



[143] 



CHAPTER XI 

SOME SALT PEOPIiE 

WHENEVER the genial American consul- 
general spoke of a certain godly Scotch- 
woman who was laboring for the uplift of 
Syria, a not irreverent twinkle would come into his 
eye as he paraphrased the words of the Gospel — 
" She is one of those salt people." 

I should like to write a book about the men an(J 
women of many races and many ecclesiastical affili- 
ations whose lives are bringing a varied savor and 
moral asepsis to the land of Syria. It would contain 
tales of thrilling romance and brave adventure and a 
surprising number of humorous anecdotes, besides the 
record of quiet self-devotion which is taken for 
granted in all missionary biographies. Such a 
lengthy narration falls without the scope of the pres- 
ent work. Yet any description of Syria and its 
people would be incomplete which did not include at 
least a few glimpses of the men and women who, more 
than all others, are molding the thought and uplift- 
ing the ideals and helping to solve the critical prob- 
lems of the land of Lebanon. 

[144] 



SOME SALT PEOPLE 



Earnest faith, noble character and uncomplaining 
self-sacrifice are not sufficient equipment for the Syr- 
ian missionary. These qualities are indeed needed, 
and as a rule are possessed in generous measure. 
But he who is to exert any permanent influence for 
good upon this proud, sturdy, persistent, quick-witted 
race, with its almost cynical proficiency in religious 
argumentation, must also be strong of body, alert 
of intellect, tactful in social Intercourse, and withal 
of an adaptability born not of vacillation but of a 
firm hold on the essentials of life. 

Among the American missionaries, for Instance, 
have been found champion athletes, splendid riders 
and marksmen, raconteurs of surprising mental agil- 
ity, phenomenal linguists and surgeons of magnificent 
daring. One gained world-wide fame as an author 
and another as a scientist. A third was the best 
Arabic scholar of his century. If not of any century. 
Well-known American colleges have called — in vain 
— for presidents from Syria ; and an important em- 
bassy of the United States was thrice offered to a 
misslonarj'', who preferred, however, to keep to his 
chosen life-work — at eight hundred dollars a 3'^ear. 
These men and women are not laboring here because 
there Is no other field of endeavor open to them. 
They are very intelligent, competent, refined, brave, 
adaptable people, with deep knowledge of many other 
things besides religion, a broad vision of the world's 
affairs, and almost invariably a keen sense of humor ; 

[145] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

people whom it is an education to know and a glad 
inspiration to own as friends. 

In 1855 a leaky sailing vessel landed a cargo of 
rum and missionaries at Beirut. The rum was drunk 
up long ago ; but one of the passengers, a tall, wiry 
Yankee, is still bubbling over with the joy of life. 
When I, met Dr. Bliss again in Syria last summer, he 
told me with quiet chuckles of enjoyment how, shortly 
after he came to the East, one of the older mission- 
aries remarked, " Daniel Bliss isn't practical and his 
wife won't live a year in this climate." After nearly 
sixty years, the beloved wife is still with him ; and as 
for being practical — there stands the great uni- 
versity which he has built ! 

Others helped him from the beginning — wise and 
generous philanthropists like William E. Dodge and 
Morris K. Jesup in America and the Duke of Argyll 
and the Earl of Shaftesbury in Great Britain — but 
two thousand alumni scattered over the five conti- 
nents will tell you that the Syrian Protestant College 
is first and foremost a monument to the foresight and 
tact and self-sacrifice and patience and indomitable 
enthusiasm of " the Old Doctor." 

It was at first very small. A half-century ago 
there were but a few pupils gathered in a hired room. 
To-day the faculty and administrative officers alone 
number nearly four score, and a thousand men and 
boys are studying in the English language. The 

[146] 



SOME SALT PEOPLE 



institution is emphatically Christian, but it is as 
absolutely non-sectarian as Harvard or Columbia. 
Every great religion and sect of the Near East, in- 
cluding Mohammedanism and Judaism, is represented 
in the student body; and it is hardly an exagger- 
ation to say that every student and graduate honors 
Daniel Bliss next only to God. As he walks through 
the streets of the city, men stop to kiss his hands — 
which embarrasses him exceedingly. Perhaps they 
love him so much because they are so sure that he 
loves them. Orientals are very quick to detect a 
stranger's underlying motives, and many a smooth- 
speaking philanthropist has been weighed by them 
and found wanting. But, during nearly sixty years' 
residence in Beirut, Dr. Bliss has lived such a life 
that his devotion to Syria and his affectionate inter- 
est in Syrians has become a tradition handed down 
from father to son. 

He has known dark days and fought hard battles, 
yet he has never lacked a buoyant optimism, born 
partly of trust in God and partly of a strong body 
and a healthful mind. He has no patience with dis-> 
mal, despondent prophets of evil. I never knew a 
man with a larger capacity for enjoyment. Good 
music always moves him powerfully. He keeps in 
touch with the latest European and American peri- 
odicals. He likes new books, new songs, new stories 
and, especially, new jokes. Active, alert, quick at 
repartee, he is passionately fond of the society of 

[147] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

young people, and they repay the liking with inter- 
est. 

A visitor to the college was once speaking of the 
attractive horseback rides through the country 
around Beirut. " But," he added, as he looked 
up at the white-haired president, " I suppose you 
don't ride any more." " No," answered Dr. Bliss 
with a resigned sigh, " I haven't been on a horse for 
— three days ! " 

He is getting on in years now, and a recent stoop 
has taken a fraction of an inch from his six feet of 
spare, hard bone and muscle. A decade ago he re- 
signed the presidency of the college, whereupon, to 
his great delight, his son was elected to fill the va- 
cancy. " See what my boy is doing ! " he exclaims, 
as he shows visitors the new buildings which are going 
up almost at the rate of one a year. So now the 
Old Doctor just walks about the campus which he 
loves, and from beneath his shock of thick white hair 
beams an irresistibly infectious enjoyment of this 
superlatively beautiful world, where anybody who has 
the mind can work so hard and get so much fun out 
of it. 

Did I say that Dr. Bliss is old.? Not he! He 
would indignantly deny the imputation. It is true 
that he celebrated his ninetieth birthday last August, 
but what of that.? He recently expressed an inten- 
tion to live to be a hundred. When he was a stalwart 
youth of four score I heard him remark, " Let the 

[148] 



SOME SALT PEOPLE 



aged people talk about the good old times if they 
want to. I have no patience with such old fogies. 
/ believe that the world is getting better every day." 

Ras Baalbek is a little village some twenty miles 
north of the famous temples. Its thousand inhabit- 
ants are exceedingly ignorant and bigoted Oriental 
Catholics. The only native Protestant family is 
that of the school-teacher. There is also one 
American citizen — an adopted brother of ours who 
accumulated a few hundred dollars in the United 
States, learned a few words of English, and then re- 
turned to his birthplace, where he keeps the village 
khan, which has an evil reputation as a gambling- 
house. The Ras is cold in winter, hot in summer, 
and filthy at all seasons. The houses are built half of 
mud and half of stone ; the streets are filled with un- 
mitigated mud. A legion of fierce curs fill the night 
with their howling, and rush out of dark corners to 
snap at unsuspecting strangers. 

It was not an inviting town, but we had heard that 
two American ladies were spending the winter there 
in missionary work ; so, after we had turned over our 
horses to our fellow citizen of the khan and had dug 
passably clean collars out of our dusty saddle-bags, 
we went to pay them an evening call. Their house 
was not hard to find, for it was the finest in all the 
village, a commodious mansion with two rooms, one 
built of stone and the other of mud. 

[149] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

When the door opened for us, we passed immedi- 
ately from Syria to America and, under the influence 
of the warmth and refinement and hospitable cheer 
of the mud-walled room, our sentiments toward Ras 
Baalbek underwent a complete and permanent change. 
These quiet-speaking, refined ladies did not look at 
all like martyrs of the faith. It was hard to realize 
that they had immured themselves in the midst of a 
dirty, ignorant, fanatical community, and were living 
in circumstances of very real hardship and peril. In 
the street just outside, the dogs were yelping noisily. 
From a neighboring roof a stentorian voice called out 
what corresponded to the evening edition of a local 
newspaper. The village was informed that the rob- 
ber-tribe of Beit Dendish was ravaging the valley, 
a prominent resident had been murdered the preced- 
ing night, and Abu somebody-or-other had lost one 
of his goats. In the bright, warm room, however, we 
talked of American friends and American books, and 
discussed the probable outcome of the Yale-Prince- 
ton game. 

After supper we all went to the house of the native 
teacher for a little prayer meeting. He was a young 
married man with several children, but his housekeep- 
ing arrangements were very simple. There was but 
one room. The floor was of mud, the ceiling was 
mud and straw, the walls were mud and stone. In 
one corner was a big pile of mattresses and blankets ; 
in another was a small pile of cooking utensils, and 

[150I 



SOME SALT PEOPLE 



one wall was hollowed out to serve as a bin for flour. 
The teacher's children lay on mattresses spread upon 
the bare floor and slept quite soundly through all the 
talking and singing. 

As there were no other Protestants in the village, 
the attendance was naturally small. Two or three 
neighbors slipped in quietly and seated themselves by 
the door. These Catholics were probably drawn here 
merely by curiosity to see the American ladies and 
their visitors ; but they sat reverently through the 
service and seemed to pay very close attention, though 
their dark, inscrutable faces gave no hint as to what 
they thought of the proceedings. 

It was not an inspiring audience ; but the ladies met 
each newcomer with a bright smile and a tactful word 
of greeting. We sang strange-sounding words to an 
old, familiar tune, after which one of the missionaries 
read a few verses from the Bible and added a brief 
explanation of their meaning. The second hymn was 
set to an Arab air that sounded a little startling 
to our Western ears. Then came a short closing 
prayer, followed immediately by very lengthy Ori- 
ental salutations, as the two strangers were intro- 
duced to the people of the Ras. 

We should have liked to stay several days and in- 
vestigate at first-hand the work among women, of 
which we had heard encouraging reports ; but we had 
to ride away vavly the next morning. The two mis- 
sionaries walked out to the edge of the village with 

[151] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

us, where the older lady gave us a ridiculously large 
lunch and a pleasant invitation to " call again the 
next time you are passing ! " The younger — she 
was very young — pretended to weep copiously at our 
departure, and wrung bucketfuls of imaginary tears 
out of her handkerchief. Then the two cheery fig- 
ures went back up the hill to their long, lonely winter 
of exile. 

On the last Sunday of the Old Year the air was 
just crisp enough to make walking an exhilarating 
delight. It was one of the days, not infrequent In 
the rainy season, when the clouds draw away for a 
time, while earth and sky, cleansed and refreshed by 
the recent showers, shine with the refulgence of the 
rarest mornings of our Western springtime. 

As we went out of the old city of Homs, the clear- 
ness of the atmosphere was like transparency made 
visible. The horizon was as clean-cut as that of the 
ocean. Off to the west were the heights inhabited by 
the cruel and fanatical Nusairlyeh ; straight in front 
of us to the south was the " Entering In of Hamath," 
lying low and narrow between Anti-Lebanon on our 
left and the snow-clad summits of highest Lebanon 
on our right; while to the east the great wheat-fields 
of the " Land of Homs " rolled away over the horizon 
to the unseen desert. Our goal, the little village of 
Feruzl, shone so white and distinct that It was hard 
to realize that it was over an hour's journey away. 



SOME SALT PEOPLE 



We were four : two Americans, the native pastor of 
the Protestant congregation at Horns, and an old, old 
man. The pastor was a noble fellow, who shortly 
afterward showed heroic mettle during a fearful 
cholera epidemic which ravaged his city. The old 
man, however, was the more picturesque figure. 

He was clothed in baggy trousers of faded blue, 
with a large turban on his head and a heavy, form- 
less sheepskin mantle over his shoulders ; his bare feet 
were thrust into great yellow slippers which flopped 
clumsily as he walked. We should once have been 
inclined to treat him with some condescension ; but 
fortunately we had learned the Oriental lesson of rev- 
erence for old age, and we American college grad- 
uates soon found there were many things that this 
unschooled Syrian mechanic could teach us. What 
dignity and quietness marked his speech and manner! 
How calm and trustful was his attitude toward the 
future! He was one of the first Protestants in this 
district, and many were the stories he could tell of 
the early days of struggle and persecution. He had 
never been rich — I doubt if he earned thirty cents a 
day ; yet he spoke as one who had observed much and 
reflected much and, although many kinds of trouble 
had come to him, his contentment and faith were an 
inspiration to us. As we were his guests, we were 
of course treated with the greatest friendliness, yet 
we could see that in his eyes we were mere boys, who 
knew little of the problems of life. And, to tell the 

[153] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

truth, before the day was over we were more than 
half inclined to agree with him. 

Feruzi is one of the few remaining villages in the 
country which are not Syrian, but the older Chaldean 
in blood and language. Its inhabitants, who number 
about a thousand, appear quite dijfferent in feature 
as well as dress from the people of the surrounding 
district. Their costume is a peculiar one, remark- 
able for its warm colors and long, queerly cut trim- 
mings. The women remind one of American In- 
dians, and the faces of the men are of unusual fierce- 
ness. It seemed quite natural that there should be 
a Chaldean church here, big and gaudy, yet ugly 
and ill-kept, with a much-prized copy of the Scrip- 
tures in the Syriac tongue chained to the lectern ; but 
we saw no structure resembling a Protestant place of 
worship, and among the crowds that followed us curi- 
ously about it was impossible to find any one who 
looked like a Presbyterian elder. 

Yet when we turned into the room set apart for 
the use of the Protestant congregation, some of the 
wildest and most dangerous-looking men followed. 
It was a small place, not over twenty feet square, low 
and dark, and quite bare save for a rough matting 
on the floor and a chair and a table for the preacher. 
In a few minutes it was crowded to suffocation.- 
There were over ninety people in the little room. 
The men sat on one side and the women on the other ; 
but aU of us sat on the floor and were so packed to- 

[154] 



SOME SALT PEOPLE 



get her that any change of position was quite impos- 
sible, except for a few mothers with babies, who sat 
near the door. 

Throughout the long Christmas sermon the 
cramped audience showed a reverence and an atten- 
tiveness that would have shamed many an American 
congregation. Suppose that a full-blooded Arab in 
his flowing native dress, should enter one of our 
churches at home — what a crafting of necks there 
would be, and how few persons would be able to recall 
the text! We appeared just as outlandish to the 
people of P'eruzi ; yet, although we sat at the back of 
the room, not a person turned to look at us, except 
that the man at my side would always help me find 
the place in the hymn book. It was not indifference, 
but consideration for the stranger and respect for 
the occasion ; and we who had come merely to see an 
unusual sight, stayed to worship God with these new 
friends, and went away with a fuller realization of the 
meaning of Christmas. 

After the service was over, however, there could be 
no charge of indifference brought against these Chal- 
dean villagers — and here too American congre- 
gations might well learn from them. The same men 
who just now had seemed to ignore our existence came 
crowding around to greet us as " brethren." They 
inquired about our life at Beirut and our own won- 
derful country far beyond the western ocean ; they 
expressed a complimentarv surprise at the extent of 

[155] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

our travels ; they sympathized tenderly with the home- 
sickness which comes so strongly at Christmas-time 
and expressed kindly wishes for our dear ones in 
America ; they pressed upon us the poor hospitality 
that it was in their power to offer. In short, out of 
church as in church, the people of Feruzi acted like 
the devout, courteous and friendly Christians that 
they were. 

When at last we had to leave, they all followed us 
out to the village limits, and one or two — such is the 
pleasant Oriental custom — walked on with us for a 
mile on our homeward journey. When the last 
strange, dark Chaldean had said " God be with you, 
brother ! " we went on in the beautiful calm of even- 
ing a little more quietly than we had come, with a 
clearer understanding of the brotherhood of man, 
and a deeper faith in the teachings of man's great 
Brother. 

To those who look to see an effective Gospel 
brought again to the Near East through a reawak- 
ening of the ancient Oriental churches, it is encourag- 
ing to know that even now there are prelates who 
are earnest, sincere and capable. Such a one was 
Butrus Jureijery, the first bishop of Caesarea Phil- 
ippi and later the patriarch of the Greek Catholic 
Church. 

From beginning to end he was a thoroughgoing 
Catholic. Indeed, the most striking incident of his 

[156] 



SOME SALT PEOPLE 



carl}' career was an argument with a Protestant Bible- 
seller, which developed into a fierce fistic combat, with 
the result that the governor of Lebanon exiled both 
parties from their native town of Zahleh. 

Some years later, after he had been ordained priest, 
Butrus journeyed to Rome and presented to the Holy 
Father a novel petition. 

" We Catholics," he said, " build our church upon 
St. Peter, the first bishop, the rock, the holder of the 
keys ; and we remember that the apostle's divine com- 
mission was given by Christ at Caesarea Philippi on 
the slopes of Mount Hermon. How is it that the 
original bishopric of the Christian Church, the first 
see of Peter, has been so long allowed to remain un- 
occupied? " Now Butrus is the Arabic pronuncia- 
tion of Peter. So he continued, " Here am I, bear- 
ing the very name of the greatest apostle, a native of 
the holy land of Lebanon, and ready to take up the 
arduous labors which shall reclaim for the church 
its first, long neglected bishopric." 

The pope was so struck by the force of the argu- 
ment that he promised to consecrate the young priest 
as bishop of Caesarea, or Banias, as it is now called. 
Then the bishop-elect went through France, preach- 
ing a kind of new crusade. His idea was novel and 
striking, and met with enthusiastic approval. In- 
deed, with such eloquence did he appeal for the pro- 
posed diocese that he became immensely popular 
throughout all France, and gifts for the Bishopric of 

[157] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

Banias continued to flow in from that country as long 
as Butrus lived. 

In 1897 the highest ecclesiastics of the Greek Cath- 
olic Church gathered in solemn convention at Serba to 
elect a new patriarch. Butrus Jureijery was the 
people's choice ; but the odds against him seemed over- 
whelming. He was too active and too honest for the 
hierarchy. The Turkish government was inimical 
to him, the powerful Jesuit order fought him, the 
papal nuncio objected to his nomination, and the 
bishops, almost to a man, opposed him. 

For once, however, the Syrian peasants defied their 
ecclesiastical lords. Word was sent to the conven- 
tion that its members need not return to their dioceses 
unless they cast their votes for Butrus. So, in spite 
of government, Jesuits, papal nuncio, and the wishes 
of the very electors themselves, the enterprising 
bishop of Banias became " Patriarch of Antioch, 
Jerusalem, Alexandria and the "V^Tiole East," and, 
subject to a hardly more than nominal allegiance to 
the Vatican, the supreme head of a great church 
whose five million adherents are scattered throughout 
the Near East from Hungary to Persia and from the 
Black Sea to the upper Nile. 

He had been elected as the " People's Patriarch," 
and such he remained. A religious and political auto- 
crat, with every opportunity and every precedent for 
using his office to enrich himself and his famil}^ he 
remained poor and honest to the end. This means 



SOME SALT PEOPLE 



more than the American reader realizes. Through- 
out the East, poHtical or ecclesiastical office is sup- 
posed to afford a quasi-legitimate means of amassing 
wealth. Few princes of the church have ended their 
lives in poverty, nor have their families known want. 
Yet when Butrus died, his own brother would have 
been unable to attend the funeral, if a popular sub- 
scription had not raised sufficient money to buy him a 
decent coat. 

Butrus was progressive as well as honest. His 
personal beliefs did not change, but, as he grew older, 
he showed a more liberal spirit toward those who 
differed with him. He entered into no more fist- 
fights with his opponents ; on the contrary, he treated 
them with the greatest courtesy. He was the first 
Greek Catholic patriarch, for instance, to return the 
calls of the Americans in Beirut or to visit the Eng- 
lish Mission at Baalbek. Indeed, at one time four of 
the seven teachers in his own patriarchal school were 
Protestants. A thorough churchman himself, he 
learned to fight dissent with its own weapons ; not 
anathema, excommunication and seclusion, but edu- 
cation, honesty and progress. He presented the spec- 
tacle of a man devout of heart and noble of purpose, 
but differing with some of the rest of us in his theo- 
logical beliefs. Such are honored by all who hold 
character above creed. 

He was loved by his people and admired and re- 
spected by the members of all other conmiunions ; but 

[159] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

with his own bishops he had to wage unceasing war- 
fare, and the contest drove him into an early grave. 

Then they clothed the dead man in his richest 
robes, heavy with gold and jewels. They put his 
pontifical staff in his hand and set him on his throne 
in his palace, and for three days all the world 
thronged to see him. There were foreign consuls, 
come to do honor to the wise statesman, Protestant 
missionaries who esteemed the great Catholic for his 
honesty and courage, careless young people drawn 
by news of the strange spectacle, and thousands upon 
thousands of Butrus' beloved poor, who kissed his 
cold hand and prayed to him with absolute confidence 
that he would still be their friend and protector. 

On a bright, beautiful Easter Sunday I watched 
his funeral procession pass through the streets of 
Beirut. In a way, this last journey was typical of 
his life and character. For the first time in many 
long centuries, all sects ignored their differences so 
that they might together do honor to the prelate who 
was greater than his church. Roman Catholic, 
Greek Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Maronite and Ar- 
menian marched together; and as the cortege passed 
the little Protestant Church, its bell was tolled " in 
order that," as its pastor said, " the Turkish soldiers 
in the barracks yonder may know that, after all, we 
Christians are one," 

First came three companies of Turkish soldiers and 
sixty gorgeously dressed consular guards ; then chil- 

[i6o] 




The dead Patriarch being driven through the 
streets of Beirut in his gilded chariot 






A summer camp in Lebanon 



SOME SALT PEOPLE 



dren from the church schools, black-robed Jesuits, 
humble mourners from the patriarch's native town 
of Zahleh, men bearing wreaths and banners sent from 
sister churches ; then more children singing a plain- 
tive Arabic hymn. There were present two patri- 
archs of other communions, more than a dozen bish- 
ops and three hundred and fifty priests, and the 
solemn dignity of the procession, so different from the 
loud, hysterical wailing at most Syrian funerals, 
seemed to impress even the Moslem spectators on the 
housetops along the line of march. 

Last of all came Butrus himself, not lying within 
a black-draped hearse but, as if in triumphal pro- 
cession, seated in a gilded chariot hung with bright 
banners and wreaths of flowers. The patriarch sat 
upright in his gorgeous robes, his staff grasped firmly 
in one rigid hand and a crucifix in the other. I stood 
within ten feet of the chariot as it passed by, and 
there was nothing in the least harrowing in the sight ; 
on the contrary, it was wonderfully dignified and im- 
pressive. I could hardly realize that the patriarch 
was dead ; he sat there so naturally with his long gray 
beard resting upon his golden vestments, and his 
large, calm features seemed still to be animated by 
the vital power of his dauntless spirit. 

Afterwards there were long addresses lauding the 
character and good deeds of the dead man ; the bish- 
ops who had shortened his life said masses for the re- 
pose of his soul ; and then, still clothed in his robes of 

[i6i] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



state, they placed him on a throne in a vault under 
the pavement of the cathedral choir. There he sits in 
solemn, lonely grandeur, like some Eastern Barba- 
rossa waiting for the time when the spirit of the 
Christ shall be re-born in the church which he so 
loved, for which in his own earnest way he so un- 
ceasingly labored, and for which at last he died. 



U62] 



CHAPTER XII 

THE CEDARS OF THE LOED 

WE had watered our horses, eaten the last 
olive and the last scrap of dusty bread that 
remained in the bottom of our saddle-bags, 
and were shivering and impatient and irritable ; for 
a sea of beautiful but chilling clouds was rolling 
around us, and as yet there was no sound of the far- 
off tinkle that would herald the approach of the be- 
lated mule-train which bore our tents and food. 

Then suddenly, just as the sun was setting, a 
friendly breeze swept the clouds down into the 
valleys ; and in a moment fatigue, vexation and hun- 
ger were forgotten, as we contemplated one of the 
most beautiful panoramas in all Lebanon. Before us 
the mountain sloped quickly to a precipice whose foot 
lay unseen, thousands of feet below, while just across 
the gorge, so steep and lofty and apparently so near 
as almost to be oppressive, towered Jebel el-Arz — 
the Cedar Mountain. The whole range was bathed 
in a wonderful golden hue, more brilliant yet more 
ethereal than the alpenglow of Switzerland. Soon 
the gold faded into blue, and that to a Tyrian 
purple, a color so royal that those who have not seen 

[163] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

cannot believe, so deep and strange that, to those who 
have seen, it seems almost unearthly. One must gaze 
and gaze in a vain attempt to fathom its unsearch- 
able depths, until the purple darkens into black, and 
the watcher stands silent, as if the setting sun had for 
a moment swung open the door that leads into the 
eternal. 

" Where are the cedars ? " I asked a member of our 
party who had visited them before. 

" Over there, directly in front of you ! " 
" But the mountain seems to be one bare, empty 
mass of rock I " 

" Look closer — yonder — where I am pointing ! " 
Yes, there they are, apparently hung against the 
face of the rock in such a precarious situation that 
a loosened cone would drop clear of the little ledge 
and fall all the way to the bottom of the valley. You 
see just a tiny patch of dark green against the moun- 
tainside — as big as the palm of your hand — no, as 
large as a finger nail — like a speck on the lens of a 
field-glass. Such is the first view of the group of 
ancient trees which are still known as the " Cedars of 
the Lord." 

While we were engrossed with the mountain scen- 
ery, the baggage-train at last appeared. Then came 
that most satisf3angly luxurious experience, a camp 
dinner after a long, wearisome day in the saddle. 
We supplemented our canned food by purchases made 
at the near-by village of Diman, where we procured 

[164] 



THE CEDARS OF THE LORD 

delicious grapes, tomatoes, fresh milk, and new-laid 
eggs at six cents a dozen. 

After dinner a young Maronite priest came up 
from the convent to visit us. Father Abdullah 
proved to be the private secretary of the patri- 
arch, who has a summer residence at Diman. It was 
an unanticipated experience for us to meet, high up 
in this wild mountain region, a Syrian priest who, 
after graduating from the Maronite College at Bei- 
rut, had spent seven years in advanced Latin studies 
at Paris and had then read a rchsolo gy at the British 
Museum. Father Abdullah's English, however, was 
a broken reed; so most of our conversation was car- 
ried on in French, with an occasional lapse into Ar- 
abic. He said that his long residence at Paris had 
naturally brought him into closest sympathy with 
the French, but that nevertheless he considered the 
English superior in practicality and energy. He 
had recently made an independent archsological 
study of the surrounding district, and entertained us 
by telling some of his own theories concerning the 
very early history of Lebanon. Later in the evening, 
as a further evidence of his friendship, he sent us a 
great basket of fresh figs. 

While we were enjoying this delicious gift, the 
fog rolled up again from the west and filled the gorge 
until we looked across the billowing surface of a milk- 
white sea, above which only a few of the loftiest 
peaks appeared as lonely islands. Such was the mar- 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

velous purity of the air at this altitude that even at 
night the sky was still a deep blue and the full 
moon touched the rocks with delicate tints of orange 
and rose, while, to complete the soft beauty of the 
scene, a double lunar rainbow swung its cold silvery 
arcs above the summit of the Cedar Mountain. 

Then the wind freshened, the rising fog-waves 
overflowed from the valleys and the penetrating chill 
of our cloud-bound mountainside drove us to the 
shelter of our tents. 

When we reached the cedar grove the next noon, 
we found that our first impressions had been wrong 
concerning everything except the supreme beauty of 
the mountain setting. Far from being situated upon 
a narrow shelf on a perilously steep slope, the trees 
are securely enthroned amid surroundings of massive 
grandeur. The watershed of Lebanon here curves 
around so that it encloses a tremendous natural am- 
phitheater about twelve miles long and over six thou- 
sand feet in depth, with its inner, concave side facing 
the Mediterranean. High up on this crescent-shaped 
slope, the Kadisha or " Holy '* River issues from a 
deep cave and falls to the bottom of the valley in a 
succession of beautiful cascades. Around the amphi- 
theater run a succession of curving ledges, like ti- 
tanic balconies, which near the bottom are small and 
fertile, but which become longer and broader and 
more barren toward the wind-swept summits. The 
highest of these, which lies nearly seven thousand feet 

[166] 



THE CEDARS OF THE LORD 



above the sea, is eight miles long and at its widest 
three miles across. Though it is really broken 
by hundreds of hills, these are dwarfed into insig- 
nificance by the great peaks which rise behind them, 
and in a distant view the surface of the plateau seems 
perfectly level. 

Here, amid surroundings of rare beauty and yet 
of solemn loneliness, is set the royal throne of the 
king of trees. Just back of the cedars the mountains 
rise to an elevation of over 11,000 feet. Around 
them is vast emptiness and silence. No other trees 
grow on this chill, wind-swept height. No under- 
brush springs up among their rugged trunks. The 
last cultivated fields stop just below, and the nearest 
village is out of sight and sound, far down the moun- 
tainside. A few goatherds lead their flocks to a 
near-by spring that is fed from the snow-pockets of 
the Cedar Mountain ; but at night the wolves can be 
heard howling hungrily, and by the end of the year 
the snow drifts deep around the old trees and the 
passes are closed for the winter. 

Yet downward from the cedars is a prospect of 
warm, fertile beauty. You look deep into the dark 
green valley of the Kadisha, and then across the 
lower mountains to where, thirty miles away, the 
" great sea in front of Lebanon " ^ rises high up into 
the sky ; and during one memorable week in the sum- 
mer you can see, a hundred and fifty miles across the 

1 Joshua 9:1. 

[167] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

Mediterranean, the jagged mountain peaks of the 
island of Cyprus outlined sharp against the red disk 
of the setting sun. 

When the Old Testament writers wished to de- 
scribe that which was consummately beautiful, rich, 
strong, proud and enduring, they drew their similes 
from Hermon and Lebanon, and the climax of the 
** glory of Lebanon " they found in the " cedars of 
God." ^ Would they express the full perfection of 
that which was choice,^ excellent,* goodly ,° high and 
lifted up,® they pictured " a cedar in Lebanon with 
fair branches, and with a forest-like shade. . . . Its 
stature was exalted above all of the trees of the field; 
and its boughs were multiplied, and its branches be- 
came long. . . . All the birds of the heavens made 
their nests in its boughs ; and under its branches did 
all the beasts of the field bring forth their young. 
. . . Thus was it fair in its greatness, in the length 
of its branches . . . nor was any tree in the garden 
of God like unto it for beauty." "^ 

The cedar of Lebanon must not be confounded with 
the various smaller trees which in America are known 
as " cedars." It is own brother to the great deodar 
or god-tree of the Himalayas and the forest giants on 
the high slopes of the Atlas, Taurus and Amanus 
ranges. In the days when Hiram of Tyre provided 

2 Psalm 80:10, b Ezekiel 17:23. 

3 Jeremiah 22:7. « Isaiah 2:13. 

* Song of Songs 5:15, 7 Ezekiel 31 :3f, 

[i68] 



THE CEDARS OF THE LORD 

timber for Solomon's Temple, large cedar woods 
spread over Lebanon, and apparently grew also on the 
sides of Anti-Lebanon and Hermon; but generation 
after generation these trees became fewer in number. 
Even in the sixth century, Justinian found it difficult 
to secure sufficiently large beams for the Church of the 
Virgin (now the Mosque el-Aksa) in Jerusalem. 
jMany efforts were made to preserve the trees, which 
had long been considered of a peculiar sanctity. 
High up on the rocky sides of Lebanon, Hadrian 
carved his imperial command that the groves should 
be left untouched. Modem Maronite patriarchs 
have excommunicated those who cut down the " trees 
of God." But the roving goats who nibble the tender 
young saplings have regarded neither emperor nor 
patriarch. Now there is little timber of any kind in 
Syria, and the profiles of the mountains cut sharp 
against the sky. Of the cedars there remain only 
seven groups, the finest of which is the one we are 
visiting, above the village of Beshcrreh. 

A former governor of Lebanon, Rustum Pasha, 
protected this grove against roving animals by a 
well-built stone wall, and in recent years the number 
of young trees has consequently slightly increased. 
But the really old cedars grow fewer century by cen- 
tury ; indeed, young and old together, their number is 
pathetically few. Twelve of the very largest are usu- 
ally counted as the patriarchs of the grove. The 
mountaineers say that these had their origin when 

[169] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

Christ and the eleven faithful Disciples once visited 
Lebanon, and each stuck his staff into the earth, 
where it took root and became an undying cedar. In 
all there are about four hundred trees. A local tra- 
dition says that they can never be counted twice alike ; 
and, in fact, I have yet to find two travelers who 
agree as to the number. We need not, however, 
seek a miraculous explanation of this peculiar lack 
of unanimity. It is doubtless due to the fact 
that several trunks will grow so close together that 
no one can say whether they should be considered as 
a single tree, or as two or more. When no fewer 
than seven trunks almost touch at the bottom, it is 
quite impossible to tell whether they sprang originally 
from one seed or from many. 

Yet though the cedars are few in number, these few 
are kingly trees. Their height is never more than a 
hundred feet; but some have trunks over forty feet 
around, and mighty, wide-spreading limbs which 
cover a circle two or three hundred feet in circumfer- 
ence. Those which have been unhindered in their 
growth are tall and symmetrical ; others are gnarled 
and knotted, with room for the Swiss Family Robin- 
son to keep house in their great forks. Some years 
ago a monk lived in a hollow of one of the trunks. 
When you climb a little way into a cedar and look out 
over the whorl of horizontal branches, the upper sur- 
face seems as smooth and soft as a rug, upon which 

have apparently fallen the uplifted cones. Indeed, 

[170] 




The source of the Kadisha River. The rocks in the back- 
ground mark the edge of the plateau on which are sit- 
uated the Cedars of Lebanon 



THE CEDARS OF THE LORD 

the close-growing foliage will bear you almost as well 
as a carpeted floor. Eighty feet above the ground, 
I have thrown myself carelessly down, not upon a 
bough, but upon just the network of interlacing twigs, 
and rested as securely as if I had been lying in an 
enormous hammock. 

iNIost of the cedars are crowded so closely that 
their growth has been very irregular. Sometimes 
two branches from different trees nib against 
each other until the bark is broken ; then the exuding 
sap cements them together, and in the course of years 
they grow into each other so that you cannot tell 
where one tree ends and the other begins. Just over 
my tent two such Siamese Twins were joined by a 
common bough a foot in diameter. Near by I found 
three trees thus united, and another traveler reports 
having seen no fewer than four connected by a single 
horizontal branch which apparently drew its sap from 
all of the parent and foster-parent trunks. Even 
more remarkable is a cedar which has been burned 
completely through near the ground, and yet draws 
so much sap from an adjoining tree that its upper 
branches continue to bear considerable foliage. 

The wood is slightly aromatic, hard, very close- 
grained, and takes a high polish. It literally never 
rots. The most striking characteristic of the cedars 
is their almost incredible vitality. The oldest of all 
are gnarled and twisted, but they have the rough 
strength of muscle-bound giants. Each year new 

[171] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



cones rise above the broad, green branches, and 
the balsamic juice flows fresh from every break 
in the bark. In the words of the Psalmist, they still 
bring forth fruit in old age, and are full of sap and 
green. " There is not, and never has been, a rotten 
cedar. The wood is incorruptible. The imperish- 
able cedar remains untouched by rot or insect." 
This is not the extravagant statement of a hurried 
tourist, but the sober judgment of the late Dr. 
George E. Post, who was recognized as the world's 
greatest authority on Syrian botany. The whole 
side of one of the largest trees has been torn away 
by lightning, but the barkless trunk is as hard as 
ever. The single enemy feared by a full-grown ce- 
dar is the thunderbolt. " The voice of Jehovah 
. . . breaketh in pieces the cedars of Lebanon." ^ 
One or two trees felled by this power have lain pros- 
trate for a generation ; but their wood will still turn 
the edge of a penknife. Here and there, visitors 
to the grove have stripped off a bit of bark and in- 
scribed their names on the exposed wood. " Mar- 
tin, 1769," " Girandin, 1791 "— the edges of the 
letters are as hard and clear-cut as if they had been 
carved last season. 

It is no wonder that the ancients chose this im- 
perishable timber for their temples. The cedar roof 
of the sanctuary of Diana of Ephesus is said to have 
remained unrotted for four hundred years, while the 

8 Psalm 29:5. 
[172] 



THE CEDARS OF THE LORD 

beams of the Temple of Apollo at Utica lasted al- 
most twelve centuries. 

Probably the wood is so enduring because it grows 
so slowly. When you are told that a slender shoot, 
hardly shoulder-high, is ten or twelve years old, you 
begin to speculate as to the probable age of the pa- 
triarchs of the grove. On a broken branch only 
thirty inches in diameter I once, with the aid of a 
magnifying glass, counted 577 rings — 577 years. 
And some of the cedars are forty feet and over in 
girth ! Certainly these must be a thousand years old, 
probably two thousand. We are tempted to believe 
that one or two of the most venerable Avere saplings 
w^hen the axemen of Hiram came cutting cedar logs 
for the Temple at Jerusalem. The most rugged and 
weather-beaten of them all, called the Guardian — ■ 
surely this hoary giant of the forest has lived 
through all the ages since Solomon, and from his 
lofty throne on Lebanon has calmly looked down over 
Syria and the Great Sea Avhilo Jew and Assyrian, 
Persian and Egyptian, Greek and Roman, Arab and 
Crusader and Turk, have labored and fought and 
sinned and died for the possession of this goodly 
land ! 

The trees rise on half a dozen little knolls quite 
near to the edge of the plateau ; and within a few 
minutes' climb are a number of tall, steeple-like rocks 
which, through the erosion of the softer stone, have 
become almost entirely cut off from the main mass 

[173] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

of the mountain. One such group, known to Amer- 
ican residents of Syria as the " Cathedral Rocks," is 
reached by following a knife-edge ridge far out over 
the valley. There is barely room for a narrow 
foot-path along the top, and a misstep would mean a 
fall of many hundred feet ; but at its western end the 
ridge broadens out into a group of slender, tower- 
like cliffs. When you stand on the farthest of these 
there is a feeling of spaciousness and isolation as if 
you were indeed upon the loftiest pinnacle of some 
gigantic cathedral, though no man-built spire towers 
to such a dizzy height. 

A half-hour of hard and, in places, dangerous 
climbing down from the cedars brings one to where 
the Kadisha River bursts from a cave in the 
rock. Like many another cavern in Lebanon, this 
is of great depth and has never been thoroughly 
explored. We contented ourselves with penetrating 
it a few hundred feet ; for it was impossible to avoid 
slipping into the stream now and then, and the water, 
fresh from the snow-pockets on the summits above, 
was only twelve degrees above the freezing-point. The 
entrance is barely ten feet in diameter, but the 
cave soon divides into several branches, one of 
which is beautifully adorned with translucent stalac- 
tites and, about seventy yards from the mouth, leads 
up to a large rock-chamber. The river flows out from 
the mountain with great rapidity and, just below 
the source, leaps over a precipice in a white water- 



THE CEDARS OF THE LORD 



fall forty feet liigh, so delicate and lacelike in its 
beauty that it is known as the " Bridal Veil." 

Farther down the valley, the monastery of Kanobin 
hugs the side of a cliff four hundred feet above the 
river-bed. This is literally " the monastery " 
(Greek, koinohion), and is one of the oldest in the 
land. It is said to have been founded over sixteen 
hundred years ago by the Roman emperor Theodo- 
sius the Great, and for centuries it has been the 
nominal seat of the Maronite patriarchs. In 1829, 
Asad esh-Shidiak, the first Protestant martyr of 
Lebanon, was walled up in a near-by cave. This un- 
fortunate man was chained to the rock by his Maron- 
ite persecutors and about his neck was fastened one 
end of a long rope which hung out through an open- 
ing in the cave by the roadside. Each Catholic who 
passed by gave the rope a vicious tug, and Shidiak 
soon died of torture and starvation. 

The valley of the Holy River is full of old 
hermits' caves ; but these are now untenanted, and 
we found no monks even at the great convent. In a 
parallel valley, however, is a monastery which is 
still crowded and busy. Deir Keshaya boasts a 
printing-press, a good library and a staff of a hun- 
dred monks. This religious retreat has the most 
secluded and beautiful situation imaginable. It lies 
in a very narrow canon hemmed in by sheer rocks. 
Yet, though surrounded by nature in its most grand 
and forbidding aspects, the narrow strip of culti- 

[175] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

vated land along the river bank is rich with verdure, 
a veritable Garden of the Lord. 

The monastery not only spreads along the face of 
the cKff, but penetrates far into the mountain. 
WTiat you see of it from without is hardly more than 
the fa9ade of a huge, rambling structure whose prin- 
cipal part consists of natural caves and chambers 
rudely cut in the native rock. Through a little 
wooden door we were admitted to the largest cavern, 
where we saw, hanging from staples set securely into 
its walls, a number of great, cruel chains. People 
who are possessed of devils are fastened here by 
the neck and ankles, and during the night an angel 
comes and drives away the demon. The treatment 
has never been known to fail ; for if the morning finds 
the sufferer still uncured, that merely shows that he 
did not have a devil after all, but was just an ordi- 
nary lunatic for whom the monastery did not prom- 
ise relief. 

Back of the cedars, there are also many fascinating 
excursions. The ranges of Syria being geologically 
" old " mountains which are worn and rounded, you 
can, by taking a somewhat circuitous route, reach al- 
most any summit on horseback, but it is much more 
fun to go straight up the steepest slopes on foot. 
About 2,500 feet above the grove is a line of gently 
rolling plateaus whose stones have been broken and 
smoothed by millenniums of snow and ice. You see 
acre after acre entirely covered with clean, flat 

[176] 



THE CEDARS OF THE LORD 



fragments which measure from one to five inches in 
length. Viewed from a distance, their appearance is 
exactly like that of the soft surface of a wheat-field. 
The only vegetable life consists of tiny bunches of a 
low, hardy plant with wooly gray-green leaves. We 
saw one little butterfly fluttering about lonesomely in 
the vast desolation. 

Sheltered from sun and wind just under the high- 
est ridges are snow-pockets — great, funnel-shaped 
depressions which during the hottest summer send 
down their moisture through the mountain mass to 
the cave-born rivers of western Syria. One who 
has not been there would never suspect how cold 
it can be in mid-summer on these higher slopes 
of Lebanon. The direct rays of the sun are, 
of course, very hot, and the wise traveler protects 
his head by a pith helmet. Yet the gloomy gorges 
are always chilly, the wind is biting, and the nights 
are positively cold. When tenting among the ce- 
dars, I slept regularly under heavy blankets, and 
once or twice reached down in the middle of the night 
and pulled over me the rug which lay beside my cot. 
The first time we climbed the mountain back of our 
camp, the wind was so cold and penetrating that we 
could remain only a few minutes on the summit, 
though we wore the heaviest of sweaters and had 
handkerchiefs tied over our faces. 

At another ascent, however, we were more fortu- 
nate, for we found only a slight breeze blowing on 

[177] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

the summit. The " Back of the Stick," as the na- 
tives call this highest ridge of Lebanon, affords 
a view over the top of all Syria. Northward 
stretches the longsuccessionof rounded summits, down 
to the left of which can be seen the white houses of 
the seaport of Tripoli. To the south are other lofty 
peaks, though all are lower than ours. Jebel Sun- 
nin, which seems so mighty when viewed from the 
harbor of Beirut, now lies far below us. Mount Her- 
mon rises still majestic seventy miles away, yet even 
the topmost peak of great Hermon is not so high as 
the spot on which we stand. To the east, across the 
long, broad valley of the Bika', rises the parallel 
range of Anti-Lebanon. Westward the magnificent 
amphitheater wliich v/e have come to think of as pe- 
culiarly our own opens out to where the Mediter- 
ranean, like a sheet of beaten gold, seems to slope far 
up to the azure sky. 

Yet, after a while, we turned from this wonderful 
panorama to indulge in childish play. With a crow- 
bar brought for the purpose, we dislodged large 
rocks from the summit and sent them spinning down 
the eastern side of the mountain. Some of them must 
have weighed several tons, and they tumbled down 
the slope with tremendous momentum. The first 
thousand feet they almost took at a bound; then, 
reaching a more gentle decline, they would spin along 
on their edges. Now they would strike some in- 
equality and, leaping a hundred yards, land amid a 

[178] 



THE CEDARS OF THE LORD 

cloud of scattering stones ; now they would burst in 
mid-air from centrifugal force, with a noise like a 
cannon shot ; now some very large stone, surviving 
the perils of the descent, would arrive at the base 
of our peak and, on the apparently level plateau be- 
low, would very slowly roll and roll and roll as if it 
possessed some motive power of its own. Several 
days later we met a wandering shepherd who told us 
that, while dozing beneath the shade of a cliff far 
down the mountainside, he had been suddenly awak- 
ened by a terrific cannonading and had sat there for 
hours in trembling wonderment at the demoniac 
forces which were tumbling Mount Lebanon down 
over his head. 

One evening we strolled out to the edge of our 
plateau and saw the whole countryside a-twinkle with 
lights. It was the anniversary of the Finding of the 
True Cross. When St. Helena, mother of Constan- 
tine the Great, discovered the precious relic sixteen 
hundred years ago, beacons prepared in anticipation 
of the success of the search were lighted and the glad 
news was thus flashed from Jerusalem to the emperor 
at Constantinople. In commemoration of that joy- 
ous event, annual signal fires still burn along the land 
of Lebanon. Far down in black gorges we saw the 
lights flash out. North and south of us, unseen 
villages on the liillsides kindled their beacons. 
Higher up, in wild pine forests, the lonely charcoal- 
burners made their camp-fires blaze brighter ; and 

[179] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

even on the bare, bleak summits there shone here and 
there tiny gleams of light. Amid the solemn quiet 
of our mountain solitude, we watched the beacons 
flash out around us and below us and above, until all 
Lebanon seemed starred with the bright memorials of 
the Cross which this old, old land, through long cen- 
turies of oppression and ignorance and bigotry, has 
never quite forgot. 

We spent a month in the cedar grove, and never 
had a dull day. At dawn we could look out of the 
tent to where the green branches framed a charming 
bit of blue, distant sea. After breakfast the studious 
man would climb up into his favorite fork and en- 
sconce himself there with pen and ink and paper and 
books and cushions. The adventurous man would 
scramble up to the topmost bough of some lofty tree 
and stretch out on its soft twigs for a sun-bath. The 
lazy man would curl up against a comfortable root, 
to smoke and dream away the morning hours. 
Sketching and photographing and mountain climbs 
were interspersed with unsuccessful hunting expedi- 
tions and aimless conversations with Maronite priests 
who had come up to visit their little rustic chapel in 
the grove. After supper came the camp-fire, with its 
cozy sparkle and its friendly confidences and the black 
background of the forest all around. Then, by eight 
o'clock at the latest, we snuggled into our blankets 
and, in the crisp, balsam-scented air, slept the clock 
around. Sometimes the full moon shone so brightly 

Ii8o] 



THE CEDARS OF THE LORD 

that the whole mountain would take on a soft silver 
glow, against which colors could be distinguished 
almost as well as by day. Now and then there would 
be a cold, foggy morning; but the trees kept out the 
mists and, although a solid wall of white surrounded 
us, within the grove it was clear and dry and home- 
like. 

The shelter, the support, the background, the in- 
spiration of all the camp life, were the great, solemn 
trees. After a while you come to love them, or rather 
to reverence them. They are so large, so old; they 
have such marked individuality. The cedars are 
regal rather than beautiful. Rough and knotted 
and few in number, at first sight they are a little dis- 
appointing; but, like the mountains around them, 
they become more impressive day by day. These 
thousand-year-old trees seem to stand aloof from the 
hurry and bustle of the twentieth century, as though 
they were absorbed in thoughts of earlier, and per- 
haps wiser, days. After you have lived for a time 
beneath their shade, their solemn magnificence begins 
to quiet your spirit; and when the glorious moon- 
light floods the mountain and casts black shadows 
do^vn the deep gorges that drop away to the distant 
sea, It Is easy to behold in the witching light the pic- 
ture that these ancient trees saw in the long ago. 
Dark groves of cedars nestle once more In the valleys 
and sweep over the mountain-tops In great waves of 
green ; a stronger peasantry speaks a different tongue 

[i8i] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

in the fields below that are brighter and the orchards 
that are heavier with fruit ; and from the depths of 
the moon-painted forest there comes the ring of ten 
thousand axes that are hewing down the choicest 
trunks for the Temple of the Lord. 

Then the vision fades, and with a sense of personal 
loss and a regret that is almost anger, you look out 
again from under the dark branches of the little 
grove to the bleak, bare mountainside, and the wind in 
the topmost boughs seems to sing the lament of 
Zechariah — 

" Wail, O fir tree. 

For the cedar is fallen. 
Because the glorious ones are destroyed: 
Wail, O ye oaks of Bashan, 

For the strong forest is come down." * 

Yet still some glorious ones of the strong forest 
rise proudly on their throne in Lebanon. This tree, 
so beautiful that it is pictured on the seal of the col- 
lege at Beirut, has been called the Symmetrical Cedar. 
These many trunks, apparently springing from a 
single root, we know as the Seven Sisters. Those 
two that stand side by side without the wall at a little 
distance from the main group, are the Sentinels. On 
a hillside are St. John and St. James, immense, 
fatherly trees with trunks forty-five feet in circum- 
ference and gigantic forks in which a dozen people 

9 Zechariah ll:3f. 
[182] 




Guaidiaii, ilie oldest Cedar of Lebanon 




The six great columns and the Temple of Bacchus 



THE CEDARS OF THE LORD 



could sit together. Then there is the Guardian, old- 
est and largest of all, its great trunk twisted and 
gnarled by struggles against the storms of ages, the 
names which famous travelers carved a century ago 
not 3'et covered by its slowly growing bark. But the 
knotted, wrinkled, lightning-scarred giant is crowned 
by a garland of evergreen, and the venerable tree, 
which perhaps heard the sound of Hiram's axemen, 
may still be standing proudly erect when the achieve- 
ments of our own century are dimmed in the ancient 
past. 

" The Cedars of the Lord " — we understand now 
why the peasantry of Lebanon call them thus. It 
has become our own name for them too. Long be- 
fore we ride downward from their royal solitude to 
the Great Sea and the great busy world, we have 
come to think of them as in deed and truth, 

" The trees of Jehovah . . . 
The cedars of Lebanon^ which He hath planted." 



I183] 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE GIANT STONES OF BAALBEK 

THE most impressive of all the ancient temples 
of Syria can now be reached by a comfort- 
able railway journey from either Damascus 
or Beirut. But this way the traveler comes upon 
the ruins too quickly to appreciate adequately their 
splendid situation and marvelous size. I shall al- 
ways be thankful that, on my first visit to Baalbek, I 
approached it very slowly as I rode from our camp 
among the cedars of Lebanon, For the longer you 
look at these temples and the greater the distance 
from which you behold them, the more fully do you 
realize that whatever race first built a shrine here 
chose the spot which, of all their land, had the 
largest, noblest setting for a sanctuary; and the 
better also do you understand that these struc- 
tures had to be made unique in their grandeur be- 
cause anything less imposing would have seemed 
paltry in comparison with the surrounding glories of 
nature. 

Where the Bika' is highest and widest and most 
fertile, on a foothill of Anti-Lebanon which projects 
far enough to give a commanding outlook in all 

[184] 



THE GIANT STONES OF BAALBEK 

directions, stands Baalbek, the City of the Sun- 
God. Far northward Hollow Syria leads to the 
open wheat-lands of Horns and Hama ; at the south 
it sinks gently to the foot of Hermon. Back 
of the city are the peaks of the Eastern Mountains, 
and across the level valley rise the highest summits 
of Lebanon. It is no wonder that the approaching 
traveler finds it difficult at first to realize the 
magnitude of the ruins. Any work of man would 
be dwarfed by the magnificent heights which look 
down upon Baalbek. But what an inspiration these 
same mountains must have been to the unknown archi- 
tect who conceived the daring grandeur of the Tem- 
ple of the Sun ! 

When I viewed the ruins from the summit of the 
highest mountain of Lebanon, their columns did not 
seem especially large. Then I remembered that there 
are few structures whose details can be distinguished 
at all from a point twenty miles away. After de- 
scending many thousand feet through rocky ravines 
and dry water-courses, we came out on the Bika' and 
again saw the temples. They now appeared of mod- 
erate size and very near. It was hard to believe that 
a few minutes' canter would not bring us to them 
and, as we rode across the monotonous level of the 
valley, it seemed as if each new mile would surely be 
the last. When I had traveled for an hour straight 
toward their slender columns and found them ap- 
parently as far away as ever, I began to understand 

[185] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

that these temples must be of a bigness beyond any- 
thing that I had ever seen before. 

While we were looking toward Mount Hermon, 
whose conical summit rose from behind the southern 
horizon, the hot, shimmering air began to arrange 
itself in horizontal layers of varying density, and 
before our wondering eyes there grew a picture of 
cool and shady comfort. Four or five miles away a 
grove of date-palms stood beside a beautiful blue lake 
in which were a number of little islands, each with its 
cluster of bushes or its group of trees ; and, just be- 
yond the islands, the rippling water laved the steep 
sides of Mount Hermon. It was a cheering sight 
for the tired traveler. This was no freak of an 
imagination crazed by privation and exhaustion. 
Everything was as clear-cut and distinct as were the 
temples of Baalbek. We knew very well that there 
was no lake in the Bika' and that Mount Hermon 
was not within fifty miles of where it seemed to be; 
yet we agreed upon every detail of the wonderful 
mirage. We counted the wooded islets ; we pointed 
out to each other the beauty of the shrubbery and 
the symmetry of the waving palm trees ; we remarked 
upon the sharp reflections of the branches in the 
clear water. Then, while we looked, the islands be- 
gan to swim around, the bushes shrank together, the 
trees shifted their positions, the blue water faded 
into a misty white, old Hermon receded far into the 
background — and soon all that was left were two 

[i86] 



THE GIANT STONES OF BAALBEK 

or three dusty palms bowing listlessly over the dry, 
brown earth in the sizzling heat, 

I had always thought of Baalbek as a magnificent 
ruin in the midst of a wilderness ; at best, I expected 
to find huddled beneath the temples a tiny hamlet 
like that at Palmyra. But as we came nearer to the 
spot of green about the columns, it grew larger and 
larger, and finally opened out into a prosperous- 
looking town of five thousand inhabitants besides, as 
we discovered later, a garrison of Turkish soldiers 
and a host of summer visitors. The bazaars wer6 
busy and noisy, and the half-dozen hotels were filled 
with the cream of Syrian societ}^ Gay young prodi- 
gals from Beirut clattered recklessly along on blooded 
mares, or lolled back in rickety barouches, talking 
French to pretty girls whose silk dresses were so 
nearly correct that our masculine eyes could not de- 
tect just what was the matter with them. 

The German archsologists who were then exca- 
vating among the ruins told us that the hotel where 
we had planned to lodge was incorrectly constructed 
and would surely fall down some day, and advised 
us to take rooms at the more substantial building 
where they were dwelling. Here we found one 
of those typically cosmopolitan companies which add 
so much variety to life in Syria. Besides the Ger- 
mans, there was a suave little Turkish gentleman, a 
very amiable Armenian lady, a radiantly beautiful 
Hungarian, an English " baroness " who did not ex- 

[187] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



plain where she had obtained this obsolete title, and 
a couple of those innocently daring American maiden- 
ladies who blunder unprotected through foreign coun- 
tries whose languages they do not understand, and 
yet somehow never seem to get into serious trouble. 

Everybody but the American ladies spoke French, 
so we had several delightful evenings together. With 
the Armenian we discussed the recent massacres — 
when the Turkish gentleman was not by. The Hun- 
garian lady discoursed heatedly upon the thesis that 
the Magyars are not subjects but allies of the Aus- 
trian Empire. The baroness told us thrilling tales 
of social and political intrigues on three continents, 
some of which we believed. The Germans interpreted 
enonnous drawings of their excavations, and my trav- 
eling companion and I sang negro songs to the ac- 
companiment of a tiny, wheezy melodion, 

Baalbek is deservedly popular as a summer resort ; 
for its elevation is nearly four thousand feet and, 
even in August, there are few uncomfortably warm 
days. In fact, the city has long borne the reputa- 
tion of being the coolest in Syria. The Arab geog- 
rapher Mukadassi, who lived in the tenth century, 
wrote that " among the sayings of the people it is 
related how, when men asked of the cold, ' Where 
shall we find thee.? ' it was answered, ' In the Belka,' ^ 
and when they further said, ' But if we meet thee not 

1 East of the Jordan, between Jabbok and Arnon rivers. 

[i88] 



THE GIANT STONES OF BAALBEK 



there?' then the cold answered, 'Verily, in Baalbek 
is my home.' " 

The most attractive features of the cit}', next to its 
refreshing climate, are its unusual number of shaded 
streets and its copious supply of pure, cold water. 
Both of these are somewhat rare in Syria. In this 
land of generous orchards, there are very few shade- 
trees ; and during the long, rainless summer the flow 
of the springs is usually husbanded with great care. 
In Baalbek, however, the water is allowed to run every- 
where in almost reckless abundance. It gushes out 
of a score of fountains ; it drives the mills, waters the 
gardens and rushes alongside the streets in swift, 
clear streams. Our own supply for drinking was 
drawn from one of the springs ; but we were told that 
even the water in the deep roadside gutters was clean 
and healthful. 

On account of the natural advantages of its situa- 
tion, it is probable that Baalbek has been in existence 
ever since the time when men first began to build 
cities. The sub-structures of the acropolis are lit- 
erally prehistoric, that is, they antedate anything 
that we know at all certainly about the history of 
the place. In the Book of Joshua - we find three 
references to " Baal-gad in the valley (Hebrew, 
Bikd) of Lebanon," but the identification of this 
place with Baalbek is far from certain. The Arab 
2 Joshua 11:17, 12:7, 13:5. 
[189] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

geographers of the twelfth century, who were tre- 
mendously impressed by the grandeur of the ruins 
and the fertility of the surrounding district, believed 
that the larger temple was built by Solomon, who 
also had a magnificent palace here, and that the city 
was given by him as a dowry to Balkis, Queen of 
Sheba. Benjamin of Tudela, a Spanish rabbi who 
visited Syria in the year 1163, wrote that when Solo- 
mon was laying the heaviest stones, he invoked the 
assistance of the genii. 

It may possibly be that the foundations are even 
older than the time of Solomon ; but there is no his- 
torical notice of the city which goes back of the Ro- 
man period. Coins of the first century A. D. indicate 
that it was then a colony of the Empire and was 
known as Heliopolis, the Greek translation of the 
Semitic name Baalbek. 

During the early centuries of our era Heliop- 
olis became exceedingly prosperous and, indeed, 
famous. The emperor Antoninus Pius is said to 
have erected here a temple to Jupiter which was one 
of the wonders of the world, and coins struck in 
Sj^ria about 200 A. D., in the reign of Septimius 
Severus, bear the representations of two temples. 
During this period the worship of Baal became popu- 
lar far beyond the borders of Syria, and the Semitic 
sun-god Avas identified with the Roman Jupiter. The 
empress of Severus was daughter of a priest of Baal 

at Homs, only sixty miles north of Baalbek. When 

[190] 



THE GIANT STONES OF BAALBEK 



her nephew Varius ^ usurped the throne, he assumed 
the new imperial title of " High Priest of the Sun- 
God " and erected a temple to that deity on the Pala- 
tine Hill. At Baalbek itself the worship was accom- 
panied by licentious orgies until the conversion of 
Constantino the Great, who abolished these iniquitous 
practices, erected a church in the Great Court of the 
Temple of the Sun, and consecrated a bishop to rule 
over the still heathen inhabitants of the new see. 

Since then, the history of Baalbek has been par- 
allel to that of every other stronghold in Syria, a 
history of battles and sieges and massacres and a long 
succession of conquerors with little in common except 
their cruelty. When the Arabs captured the city in 
the seventh century, they converted the whole temple 
area into a fortress whose strategic position, over- 
looking the Bika* and close to the great caravan 
routes, enabled it to play an important part in the 
wars of the ^Middle Ages. Many a great army has 
battered at this citadel. Iconoclastic Moslems have 
done all they could to deface its carvings and statues, 
earthquake after earthquake has shaken the temples, 
scores of buildings in the present town have been con- 
structed from materials taken from the acropolis, col- 

3 "Varius Avitus Bassanius, who took the name Heliogabalus 
upon his appointment as high priest of the sun-god, was 
born at Horns, A. D. 204, usurped the imperial throne at the 
death of his cousin Caracalla in 218 and, after a brief reign 
marked chiefly by its infamous debaucheries, was murdered 
by the Prastorians in 223. 

[191] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



umns and cornices have been robbed of the iron clasps 
that held their stones together, and for many years the 
Great Court was choked with the slowly accumulating 
debris of a squalid village which lay within its pro- 
tecting walls. 

Yet neither iconoclast nor sapper, artilleryman nor 
peasant, has been able to destroy the majesty of the 
temples of Baalbek. The malice of the image- 
breaker cannot tumble down thousand-ton building- 
blocks and grows weary in the effort to deface cor- 
nices eighty feet above him. Mosques and khans, 
barracks and castle walls have been built out of this 
immense quarry of ready-cut stone, yet the supply 
seems hardly diminished. The cannonballs of the 
Middle Ages fell back harmless before twenty feet 
of solid masonry, and only God's earthquake has been 
able to shake the massive foundations of the Temple 
of Baal. 

The old walls of the acropolis provide many a 
tempting place for an adventurous clamber. Be- 
side the main gateway at the eastern end you can 
ascend a winding stairway, half-choked with rub- 
bish; then comes some hard climbing over broken 
portions of the upper fortifications and a bit of care- 
ful stepping around a narrow ledge on the outside of 
a turret. But it is well worth a little exertion and 
risk to reach the top of this majestic portal, where 

you can lie lazily among great piles of broken carv- 

[192] 



THE GIANT STONES OF BAALBEK 

ings and watch the long shadows of the setting sun 
creep over what have been called " the most beautiful 
mass of ruins that man has ever seen and the like of 
which he will never behold again." 

Our superlative expressions are prostituted to such 
base uses that it is hard to find words to picture ade- 
quately these colossal structures. To say that they 
are most majestic, gigantic, stupendous, is only to 
trifle with terms. The mere partition-wall beneath 
us is nineteen feet thick, a single stone in one of the 
gate-towers is twenty-five feet long, and the en- 
trance stairwa}^, now half-buried beneath an orchard, 
is a hundred and fifty feet wide. Everything about 
us is immense ; yet the parts are so nicely propor- 
tioned that at first their size does not seem very un- 
usual. The German archaeologists warned me against 
jumping carelessly from one stone to another. " The 
distance between them will be greater than you think.", 
You have to revise your ordinary judgments of per- 
spective before you can realize that yonder little 
alcove in the Great Court is as big as an ordinary 
church, or can make j^ourself believe that the out- 
lines of the Temple of the Sun enclose an area as 
large as that of Westminster Abbey, or can break 
the habit of thinking condescendingly of the " Smaller 
Temple " — which is one of the finest Graeco-Roman 
edifices in existence. Suddenly you see the acropolis 
in its real immensity and beauty, and then you under- 

[193] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 




The Acropolis of Baalbek— 1, The Propylaea; 2, The Fore- 
court; 3, The Court of the Altar; 4, The Basilica of Constantine; 
5, The Great Altar of the Temple; 6, Byzantine Baths; 7, The 
Temple of Jupiter-Baal; 8, The Six Standing Columns; 9, The 
Great Stones in the Foundation Wall; 10, The Temple of 
Bacchus. 

stand how the most scholarly of all Syrian travelers 
could say that the temples of Baalbek " are like those 
of Athens in lightness, but far surpass them in vast- 



[194] 



THE GIANT STONES OF BAALBEK 

ness ; tlicy arc vast and massive like those of Thebes, 
but far excel them in airiness and grace." * 

From the entrance stairway at the east to the 
Great Temple at the west, the arrangement is grandly 
cumulative. Each succeeding architectural feature 
is larger and more beautiful than that which pre- 
cedes it. As you view the acropolis from above the 
portico, j'our eye is drawn on and on, past the sym- 
metrical forecourt and the great Court of the Altar, 
under delicately chiseled arches and graceful cornices, 
through the Triple Gate and the temple portal, up to 
the culmination of it all — the six tall columns which 
still rise above the ruins of the Temple of the Sun. 
No ! this is not yet the climax of the glories of Baal- 
bek ; for beyond those slender shafts the hoary head 
of Lebanon, towering far into the sky, at once dwarfs 
and dignifies, enslaves and ennobles, the puny mass- 
iveness of the sanctuary of Baal. 

The Great Court, or " Court of the Altar," is lit- 
tered with sculptured stones — pedestals of statues, 
inscriptions in Greek and Latin, broken columns, 
curbs of old wells and fragments of fallen cornices. 
On each side of the few remains of the Basilica of 
Constantine are Roman baths, which are carved in a 
graceful, profuse manner, very like those at Nimes in 
southern France. 

The sculptors seem to have worked in three shifts. 
The first were mere stone-cutters who removed sur- 

*Edw. Robinson, Biblical Researches in Palestine, III. 517. 

[195] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

plus material, shaping a hemisphere where a head 
was to appear in bas-relief, and indicating the rough 
outlines of leaves and flowers. The second set of 
workmen carved the design more carefully, leaving it 
for the third, the master-artists, to give the final 
touches. In the temple baths we can see traces of 
the work of all three classes. One part of the carv- 
ing is finished to the last crinkle of a rose leaf; an- 
other is but roughly blocked out by a mere artisan. 
It seems that the full plan for the courts was never 
carried to completion. Some think, indeed, that the 
only portion of the Great Temple itself which was 
finished was the peristyle. 

A little to the southwest of the Court of the Altar 
stands the Temple of Bacchus. This suffers the fate 
of great men whose fame is eclipsed by that of their 
greater brothers. Yet this " Smaller Temple," as it 
is commonly called, is larger than the Parthenon, and 
is surpassed in the beauty of its architecture by no 
other similar edifice outside of Athens. It was orig- 
inally surrounded by forty-two columns, each fifty- 
two and a half feet in height. A number of these 
have been overthrown by earthquakes and cannon- 
balls, but on the north side the peristyle is still nearly 
perfect. One of the columns on the south side has 
fallen against the temple, yet, although made up of 
three drums, the parts are held so firmly together by 
iron clamps that it has broken several stones of the 
wall without itself coming to pieces. 

[196] 



THE GIANT STONES OF BAALBEK 

Intricate stone-cut tracery runs riot over the 
double frieze, the fluted half-columns and niches, and 
the variously shaped panels which form the roof of 
the peristyle. There are flowers and fruits and 
leaves, vines and grapes and garlands, men and 
women, gods and goddesses, satyrs and nymphs, and 
the youthful god himself, surrounded by laughing 
bacchantes. Most elaborate of all is the carving 
around the lofty central portal, which is probably 
more exquisite in detail than anything else of its kind 
in existence. The door-posts are forty feet high, 
yet they are chiseled with such a delicacy that they 
seem almost as light as a filigree of Damascus silver- 
Avork. Upon the under side of the lintel a great 
eagle holds a staff in its claws, while from its beak 
droop long garlands of flowers, the ends of which are 
held by genii. 

Of the Temple of Jupiter-Baal, which was the prin- 
cipal structure of the acropolis, only six columns are 
now standing; but these six can be seen far up and 
down the BIka'. As you stand beside them and look 
up, the columns appear of tremendous bulk, as Indeed 
they are ; yet their proportions are so elegant that at 
a little distance they seem almost frail. When you 
view them from many miles away, they appear as 
tenuous as the strings of a colossal harp, awaiting 
the touch of ^olus himself to set them vibrating in 
tremendous harmony. Now the columns, crossed by 
the cornice above, resemble a titanic gate ready to 

[197] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

swing open to the Garden of the Gods ; now they are 
seen in profile, Hke a giant finger pointing upward. 
When the evening glow falls upon them, the stone 
takes on a yellow^ish tinge and the slender shafts look 
like a golden grating which some old master has put 
between the panels of his daring picture of brazen 
clouds and dazzling mountaintops. Even the long 
colonnades of Palmj'ra lack something of the pecul- 
iar grandeur of the six columns of Baalbek, as they 
stand guard over the ruined Temple of Baal, with 
nothing to rival their towering grandeur save the 
eternal peaks of Lebanon. 

Yet, though these columns are the most beautiful 
things in Baalbek, they are not its greatest mai*vel ; 
for in the foundations of the acropolis are stones so 
immense that we can only guess at the means em- 
ployed to quarry and transport and lift into place 
these huge masses of rock. 

Parallel to the north side of the Temple of the Sun 
is an outer wall ten feet thick and composed of nine 
stones, each thirty feet long and thirteen feet high ; 
in the west foundation-wall of the acropolis are seven 
other stones of equal size, not lying upon the ground 
but set on lower tiers ; and just above these is a series 
of three stones which are probably the largest ever 
handled by man. 

These tremendous three were so renowned in an- 
cient times that the temple above them came to be 
known as the Trilithan. They are each thirteen feet 

[198] 



THE GIANT STONES OF BAALBEK 

high, probably ten feet thick, and their lengths are 
respectively sixty-three, sixty-three and a half, and 
sixty-four feet. It is hard to realize their true di- 
mensions, however ; for these enormous blocks are set 
into the wall twenty-three feet above the ground, and 
are fitted together so closely that you can hardly in- 
sert the edge of a penknife between them. Look at 
them as long as you will, you can never fully see their 
bigness. Yet if only one were taken out of the wall, 
a space would be left large enough to contain a Pull- 
man sleeping-car. Each stone, though it seems only 
of fitting size for this noble acropolis, weighs as much 
as man}^ a coastwise steamer. If it were cut up into 
building blocks a foot thick, it would provide enough 
material to face a row of apartment houses two hun- 
dred feet long and six stories high. If it were sawn 
into flag-stones an inch thick, it would make a pave- 
ment three feet wide and over six miles in length. 

The quarry from which was taken the material for 
the temples is about three-quarters of a mile from the 
acropolis. Here lies a still larger stone which, on 
account of some imperfection, was never completely 
separated from the mother rock. B}" this time we 
have no breath left for exclamations ; hyperbole would 
be impossible ; the simple measurements are astound- 
ing enough. The Hajr el-HiblaJ' as it is called, is 
thirteen feet wide, fourteen feet high, seventy-one 

5 Literally, " the stone of the pregnant woman." Bearing in 
mind the meaning of the popular name, the reader will easily 

[199] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

feet long, and would weigh at least a thousand tons. 
It does not arouse our wonderment, however, as much 
as do those other stones, only a little smaller, whicK 
were actually finished and built into the wall. 

How, indeed, were such huge blocks moved from the 
quarry to the acropolis? How were they lifted into 
place and fitted so nicely together? The question 
has not been answered to our entire satisfaction. 
We must acknowledge that those old Syrians — if 
they were Syrians — could perform feats of en- 
gineering that would challenge the science of the 
present day. The most plausible guess is that a long 
incline was built all the way from the quarry to the 
temple wall and then, through a prodigal expenditure 
of time and labor, the blocks were moved slowly up 
the regular slope, a fraction of an inch at a time, by 
balancing them back and forth on wooden rollers. 
But it is almost as easy to believe with the natives 
that there were giants in those days, and that the 
great stone which is still in the quarry was being 
carried along under her arm by a young woman, 
when she heard her baby cry, and so dropped her 
burden and left it there to be the wonderment of us 
puny folk. 

understand just how and why I have modified the frank. Ori- 
ental form of the story which follows. 



[200] 



CHAPTER XIV 

H A M A T H THE GREAT 

NOW that the French railway system has at last 
extended its operations into northern Syria, 
the old cities of Horns and Hama will doubt- 
less soon lose much of their naivete and Oriental 
color and become filled with dragomans who speak a 
dozen languages and shopkeepers who have a dozen 
prices for the unwary tourist. Up to the present, 
however, the district has been little touched by West- 
ern civilization, and we saw there a picture of Syrian 
life and customs, and especially of unspoiled Syrian 
politeness, not to be found in more accessible cities. 
We traveled from the seaport of Tripoli to Horns 
in a big yellow diligence, drawn by two horses and 
three mules, and driven by a couple of unkempt 
brigands who, in the absence of a sufficiently long 
whip, urged on their steeds by throwing heavy stones 
taken from a well-filled bushel-basket which was kept 
under the seat. The Syrians ordinarily throw like 
girls, and with as good an aim ; but these men, while 
the coach was rolling and creaking like a ship in a 

storm, could strike the left ear of the farthest mule 

[201] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

without any danger either to its own skull or to the 
other animals. 

This ugly, noisy conveyance, which took us sixty 
miles in eleven hours, seemed quite out of place as a 
part of the Sj^-ian landscape, and we noticed that it 
surprised the rest of the country as much as it 
had us. The camels were the most astonished. 
Along the road would be seen approaching a distant 
caravan, led by a white-bearded old man riding a 
ridiculously small donkey. Behind him, the long line 
of great animals walked and chewed in a slow rhythm, 
and looked out upon the world with a solemn gaze 
which made us flippant sons of a young republic feel 
like crawling away somewhere and hiding for a few 
thousand years until we had acquired a little mellow- 
ness. 

But our mules represented the spirit of modem 
progress ; on a down grade, it was progress at the 
dizzying speed of ten miles an hour. Now, viewed 
from the front, a camel looks like an overgrown 
chicken, and when he is startled he acts just 
like a flustered fowl. So we had the interesting ex- 
perience of frightening half to death thirty of these 
great, clumsy creatures, who scampered and scat- 
tered over the road in every direction except the right 
one, ran into one another and knocked off carefully 
balanced loads, and tied up the connecting ropes into 
intricate knots which would challenge the genius of an 

Alexander to untangle, while a dozen or so stalwart 

[202] 



HAMATH THE GREAT 



Arabs cursed us with a choice of vituperation not to 
be found in our more stolid West — cursed with 
a long, deep, comprehensive curse which included us 
and our fathers, the diligence's father and mother and 
distant relatives, and laid special emphasis upon the 
awful destruction which was sure to overtake the 
religion of the off mule. 

About an hour's journey from Tripoli there is a 
very old pool of sacred fish, references to which 
are found in works of travel as early as the sixth 
century. According to the present tradition, the 
souls of soldiers who have died fighting for Islam are 
reincarnated in these fish. The Moslems accordingly 
hold them in the gi-eatest reverence; and if anj^one, 
particularly if a Christian, should harm them, he 
would almost certainly be torn to pieces by an infuri- 
ated mob. While thousands of men and Avomen in 
the neighboring villages may be suffering the pangs 
of hunger, wealthy zealots will buy great piles of 
bread for the fish ; often, indeed, they provide in their 
wills for a certain number of loaves to be thrown 
each week into the pool. The fish, which are about 
a foot in length, are fat and bloated as a consequence 
of this over-feeding, and are unspeakably ugl}^ in 
form and color. We estimated that there were be- 
tween four and five thousand of them in the little 
pool; and it was a sight not soon to be forgotten, as 
they crowded after the crumbs which we threw them, 
pushing and fighting so that they were often forced 

[203] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



quite out of their element and for many square yards 
the water was completely hidden by the loathsome, 
wriggling mass. 

After eight hours' drive along the valley that leads 
from Tripoli into the interior, a sudden turn of the 
road brought into full view the great plain of north- 
eastern Syria. We were entering this through a 
break in its western wall, the pass which divides 
Lebanon from the Nusairiyeh Range, inhabited by its 
cruel, half-pagan tribes. At our right, the southern 
margin of the plain was distinctly marked by the 
abrupt ending of Anti-Lebanon and of the nearer 
Bika'. The place where the central valley of Syria 
opens suddenly to the broad expanse of wheat country 
was known of old as the " Entering In of Hamath," 
and was the northernmost point to which the King- 
dom of Israel ever extended.^ At the left, low hills 
rise slowly up to the horizon ; in front, the plain 
rolls out to the unseen desert and the ruined palaces 
of Palmyra. 

1 Many eminent scholars, however, follow Edward Robin- 
son (Biblical Researches, III. 568) in identifying the " En- 
tering In of Hamath" (Judges 3:3, I Kings 8:65, etc.), not 
with the northern end of the Bika', but with the east-and- 
west valley between the Lebanon and Nusairiyeh ranges, 
through which we have just come. While I incline more and 
more toward the view given in the text above, the question must 
be decided by one's feeling as to which would be the more 
striking and appropriate landmark, rather than by any di- 
rect evidence. The territory included would be practically the 
same in either case. 

[204] 



HAMATH THE GREAT 



It is one of the world's greatest battlefields that 
lies below us, so vast that Watex'loo and Gettysburg 
might be fought in different corners and hardly see 
the smoke of each other's cannonading. But no mod- 
ern conflict has engaged such hosts as were drawn up 
here in martial array. They came from the desert 
capital, came up from Palestine and Egypt by way 
of the Entering In of Hamath, came as we have come, 
through the narrow pass leading from the Mediter- 
ranean. Back at the beginning of wars, the trained 
armies of Egypt fought the Hittite and the Chaldean 
here. After Babylonian and Persian, Jew and 
Syrian and Greek had become mere subjects of im- 
perial Rome, it was here that Zenobia, the beautiful, 
talented, ambitious queen of Palm^^ra, received her 
crushing defeat at the hands of Aurelian. Here, 
centuries later. Crusader and Saracen battled for 
the land the}' both called Holy ; here chivalrous Tan- 
cred led his armies and valiant Saladin won decisive 
victories. 

Two things stand out from the general brownness 
of the plain. Just below us is the dazzling white 
acropolis of Horns, and ten miles to the south is the 
deep blue of the lake once called Qadesh, the " Holy," 
Avhich was dammed up in its little valley by a long- 
vanished race and worshiped before history began. 

We saw the bright reflection from the smooth sides 
of the mound long before we could distinguish the 
town lying beneath it, and for a while we were puzzled 

[205] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



as to what it was — this huge, sj-mmetrical object 
rising so abruptly from the great, flat plain, and 
seeming doubly immense because of the clear air and 
the absence of any neighboring elevation with which 
to compare its height. The acropolis is, indeed, no 
insignificant structure. The people of Homs believe 
it to be entirely artificial, and its appearance is in 
favor of such an hypothesis. The circular hill is 
almost a thousand feet in diameter and its platform 
stands a hundred feet above the plain. The sides rise 
so steeply that it would be impossible to scale them 
without a ladder; and, to make the summit abso- 
lutely inaccessible to an enemy, all the outer slope of 
the mound formerly bore a slippery coating of small, 
square basalt blocks. At present the platform is 
reached by a long, winding path; but even this is so 
steep as to be almost dangerous in places. During 
the Crusades the fortress of Homs was held alter- 
nately by the Christians and the Saracens ; and it has 
suffered from so many assaults that nothing of the old 
castle now remains save a few fragments of tumbling 
wall and a ruined gateway. 

As we came down into the plain and had a nearer 
view of the acropolis, we seemed to distinguish a mul- 
titude of houses beneath it; but the difficulty of get- 
ting a true perspective had deceived us. The city 
lay beyond and lower; what we now saw were not 
houses but gi-aves. It was a great metropolis of the 
dead; thousands and tens of thousands of mounds 

[206] 



HAMATH THE GREAT 



were crowded close together at the foot of the for- 
tress-hill. Some few were surmounted by stone cano- 
pies; but most of them were simple Moslem graves, 
ranged in long ranks looking toward the sacred city 
of Mecca, with one stone at the head and another at 
the foot, for the two angels to rest upon as they 
weigh the good and evil deeds of the dead. As one 
approaches nearly every great Syrian city, this is the 
order of interest and impressiveness ; first the ruins of 
former power and grandeur, then the graves of those 
who trusted in that power and gloried in that gran- 
deur, last the modem town with its poverty and 
squalor and ignorance. 

In Greek times " Emesa," as it was then called, 
was a place of no little size and importance, and dur- 
ing the Roman era one of its sons wore the imperial 
purple - and one of its daughters became empress.^ 
The modern city contains some sixty thousand inhab- 
itants, the large majority of whom are Moslems. The 
Christians are nearly all Orthodox " Greeks," but 
there is also a tiny Protestant community. We were 
guests of the native pastor, and later it lent a new 
impressiveness to our memories of Homs when we 
learned that our host was stabbed the very week after 
our visit. Fortunately, however, the wound was not 
a mortal one. The city is the market-place of Ard 
Horns, " the Land of Homs," and its bazaars are 

2 Heliogabalus. See foot-note, page 191. 

3 Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus. 

[207] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

crowded with fellahtn from all the country round 
about. The chief industry is the weaving of silks. 
The citizens claim that there are five thousand looms, 
and it is easy to believe this statement; as we walked 
along the streets, which were well-paved and cleaner 
than those of most Syrian towns, there were whole 
blocks where every house resounded with the whirring 
of wheels and the clicking of shuttles. 

The home of our host, like almost every other resi- 
dence in Homs, opened on a court which was sepa- 
rated from the street by a ten-foot wall. We rose 
at three o'clock the next morning to catch the dili- 
gence for* Hama, said good-by all around in the 
lengthy Arabic fashion — and discovered that the 
key to the one gate was lost. Thereupon arose great 
bustle and confusion ; the women rushed around look- 
ing everywhere for the missing key, while the worthy 
pastor brought a clumsy ladder to help us over the 
wall. But just as we were preparing to carry our 
heavy luggage up the ladder, the key was found, and 
a hard run brought us to the diligence with half a 
minute to spare. 

This second coach had only two mules and one 
horse, and was a much smaller affair than that which 
had brought us from Tripoli. Although the driver 
was a Moslem to whom alcoholic beverages are strictly 
forbidden, he was considerably more than half-drunk. 
He had neglected to fasten the harness properly and, 
while we were rattling down a steep hill, the tangle of 

[208] 



HAMATH THE GREAT 



straps and strings dropped off one beast and dangled 
under his heels. Then, as soon as the harness was 
repaired, our driver let his reins fall among the flying 
hoofs. He took these mishaps very philosophically ; 
much more so, to tell the truth, than we did. Doubt- 
less he pitied us Western infidels for our evident 
nervousness and lack of faith. Suppose that the 
coach should indeed upset — it would be the will of 
Allah, and who were we to object! 

We had but one fellow-traveler, a fat old Moslem 
wearing the turban of a liaj who has made the pil- 
grimage to Mecca. He was a most companionable 
fellow who insisted upon explaining to us all the points 
of interest along the road; and the fact that his ex- 
planations were usually wrong did not in the least de- 
tract from our enjoyment of his company. Every 
time the diligence stopped — ■ and, with our drunken 
driver and worn-out harness, this was quite often — 
the Haj would laboriously descend, spread out his 
handkerchief upon some clean, level spot alongside the 
road, and turn toward Mecca to recite his prayers. 
He must have been a very holy man. 

The road from Homs to Hama inins almost due 

north, a straight white line cutting across the green 

fields. It is one of the* oldest highways in the world. 

For at least five thousand years caravans have been 

passing along it just as we saw them — long strings 

of slow-moving camels laden with brightly colored 

bags of wheat. One could almost imagine that 

[209] 



- SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

Pharaoh was again calling down the corn of Hamath 
to fill his granaries, against the impending seven years 
of famine. But even here the old things are passing. 
Just beyond the line of camels, a longer line of peas- 
ant women, with dirty blue dresses kilted above their 
knee?, were carrying upon their heads baskets of 
earth and stone for the road-bed of the new French 
railway. The carriage road is French, too ; and a 
very good road it is. We noticed some men repair- 
ing it with a most ingenious roller. A huge rounded 
stone, drawn by two oxen, had its axle prolonged by 
a twenty-foot pole, at the end of which a bare-legged 
Syrian was fastened to balance the contrivance. If 
the stone had chanced to topple over, the spectacle 
of the captive road-maker dangling at the top of the 
slender flag-stafF would have been well worth watch- 
ing. 

All along the journey we were reminded of the fact 
that this was not only the East, but the old, old East. 
The soil is fertile, but the very wheat-fields are dif- 
ferent from ours. Only a few yards in width, they 
are often of prodigious length ; the thin green 
strips sometimes stretch away until in the far dis- 
tance they are lost over the curve of the treeless 
plain. At one place the road is cut through a hill 
honeycombed with rock-tombs, which the Haj said 
were of Jewish origin. Every now and then we 
passed a tell, or great hemispherical mound built up 

of the rubbish of dozens of ruined towns which, one 

[210] 



HAMATH THE GREAT 



after the other, were built upon the same site. 
Even as late as Roman times, this was a densely 
populated and prosperous district. There is now 
no timber available for building purposes, and so in 
a number of villages the houses are constructed with 
conical roofs of stone. Wliere the rock happens to 
be of a reddish tinge, the windowless structures re- 
mind one of nothing so much as a collection of Indian 
wigwams ; where the stone is white, as at Tell Biseh, 
it glitters and sparkles like a city cut out of loaf 
sugar. 

" Hamath the Great," as the prophet Amos called 
it, is still the most important city between Damascus 
and Aleppo. It is larger than Homs and seems 
more prosperous, but the difference between the two 
is not marked enough to prevent considerable mutual 
jealousy. Hama is especially busy in the early 
morning, when the market squares are crowded with 
kneeling camels and the bazaars are bright with 
newly opened rolls of rich silks, which may be bought 
at ridiculously low prices — if the purchaser knows 
how to bargain. 

You see the same types in other Syrian cities — 
rough camel-drivers, veiled ladies, ragged peasants, 
underfed soldiers, Moslem wise men and reverend 
Arab sheikhs. Along tourist-beaten routes, how- 
ever, the picture lacks somewhat of perfection be- 
cause of the Hotel d'Orient or Hotel Victoria in the 
background, and, just as vou have warmed to an en- 

[211] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

thusiastic interest in the bright scenes of Oriental life, 
a pert young fellow in French clothes is apt to ask 
you into his shop or offer to guide you through the 
bazaars at ten francs a day. But while we were in 
Hama there was, so far as I know, no other Frank in 
the city, only one other pair of European trousers, 
and but two natives who spoke any English. There 
is not even a resident missionary, and on the rare 
occasions when American ladies visit the city, they 
adopt the local costume, veil and all, in order to avoid 
annoying curiosity. 

The citizens enjoyed us fully as much as we did 
them. Everywhere we went we were followed by a 
train of a dozen or two, and when we stopped to look 
at anything the crowd threatened to interfere with 
traffic — not that this would have seemed a serious 
offense to the Oriental mind! They were so inter- 
ested in our every movement that I could never get 
room to use my camera until my friend would walk 
a little way off with an intense expression on his face 
and draw the cortege after him. Yet these people 
were not in the least noisy or rude and — I almost 
hesitate to make such a startling statement about a 
Syrian city — I do not remember being once asked 
for bakhsheesh. 

The inhabitants of Hama bear the reputation of 
being very proud and fanatical; but we did not find 
them so. We stayed with a young physician, a re- 
cent graduate of the college at Beirut; and in the 

[212] 



HAMATH THE GREAT 



evening a number of his friends dropped in to see us. 
As our own supply of Arabic was not at that time 
equal to the demands of a long conversation, we es- 
sayed one or two gymnastic tricks, only to be im- 
mediately outdone by our Syrian acquaintances. 
Then the ice was broken, and we settled down to a 
long evening of rough games, which always ended in 
somebody having his hand slapped with a knotted 
handkerchief. These strangely garbed men with 
their brown, wrinkled faces, entered into it all with 
such a childlike enjoyment that we were soon laugh- 
ing and shouting as we had not done since the Christ- 
mas days of boyhood ; and the little braeier, with its 
bright bed of charcoal that sent fearsome shadows of 
turbancd heads and long mustachios dancing on the 
white walls overhead, seemed a natural substitute for 
the Yule log which that very night was burning in 
the home across the seas. 

As the Christians form a quite insignificant mi- 
nority of the population of Hama, they receive a de- 
gree of consideration from their Moslem neighbors 
such as is not granted in cities where the two ] 
religions are more nearly balanced and where jeal- 
ousy and hatred consequently lead to frequent re- 
prisals. Our host. Dr. Taufik, told us that some of 
his warmest friends were young Moslems. He has a 
large practice among the harems of the city, and has 
performed heroic operations upon their inmates. 
One afternoon he guided us through a narrow, wind- 

[213] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

ing lane filled with evil-smelling garbage, to a rude 
door not over five feet high. This was the entrance 
to the finest house in Hama, the residence of one of 
the doctor's Moslem patients. Indeed, Dr. Taufik 
told us, with perhaps more of civic pride than strict 
accuracy, that it was the most magnificent dwelling In 
all Syria. The great central hall was decorated in 
mosaics of colored marble and overlaid with gold-leaf 
in intricate patterns of sumptuous beauty. Yet, as 
is so often the case in the East, the only approach 
to this splendid residence was through filth and odors 
which would hardly have been tolerated in the worst 
slums of an American city. 

We later visited the home of another wealthy Mos- 
lem, also a patient of the doctor. This time we 
found the master of the house seated in the middle of 
the state drawing-room — being shaved. He is the 
only man I have ever seen who looked dignified while 
in the hands of a barber. Even with lather all over 
his face, he sat with the bearing of a prince of the 
blood giving audience to his favorites. His atti- 
tude toward us was marked by the most kindly 
courtesy. He allowed us to indulge in the untidy 
American habit of wearing shoes in the house, and, 
although it was the fast-month of Ramadan and he 
himself could eat nothing until sunset, delicious 
sweetmeats were served us in delicate cut-glass dishes 
set on a heavy silver tray. After we had watched 

our host put on his furs and drive off behind his two 

[214] 



HAMATH THE GREAT 



beautiful Arab stallions, we asked Dr. Taufik how 
much wealth was necessary for one to live in such 
luxury, and what was the business of his Moslem 
friend. " Oh, he does not work at all," was the 
answer. " He does not need to, for he has property 
which brings him an income of forty thousand pias- 
ters a year " — whicli equals a little over fourteen 
hundred dollars ! 

Hama has an acropolis somewhat larger than that 
of Homs, but it is less symmetrical in shape and is 
not so well preserved. From the sunmiit is seen the 
same far-reaching historic plain ; but the attention 
is soon drawn back to the city which lies just below. 
If the visitor has resided in Syria, it is not the twenty- 
four minarets which hold his gaze, not even the Great 
Mosque, which is one of many shrines that claim to 
guard the bones of John the Baptist ; but beautiful 
and interesting above all is the river which winds its 
slender cord of blue through the heart of the city. 
Rising on the eastern slopes of Lebanon, then pass- 
ing northward through Hollow Syria and the Enter- 
ing In of Hamath, dammed up by the old Hittites to 
form the Holy Lake by Homs, growing slowly as it 
flows through the " Land of Hama " until at Antioch 
it is almost deep enough for modem shipping — the 
Orontes fatliered three of the great cities of the an- 
cient world. 

There are few real rivers in this land. Although 
they make Damascus so fertile, Abana and Pharpar 

[215] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 

are hardly more than noisy creeks. It is true that 
parts of Lebanon fairly sweat with springs, but 
hardly half a dozen of these reach the coast except as 
winter torrents whose stony beds dry up completely 
when the summer comes. The Jordan in the far 
south, the Leontes, which flows into the Mediterranean 
between Tyre and Sidon, and the Orontes in the north 
— these complete the tale of Syrian rivers, and Hama 
is the only city in the country whose stream appears 
as a prominent feature in the landscape. It winds 
and twists so that you meet it at almost every turn 
of the street. Along one bank, a line of closely lat- 
ticed windows mark the harems of the wealthier citi- 
zens ; farther on, a little group of women are washing 
clothes under the shade of the cypress trees ; yonder 
a weary train of mules are standing knee-deep in the 
cool water, while a crowd of naked boys are sporting 
in the shallow stream with as much energy and en- 
joyment as any truant brothers of the West. 

It is perhaps because the Orontes goes to the 
northward instead of flowing south, as do the other 
important Syrian rivers, that it is now known as 
el-Asi, " the Rebel " ; or the name may have been 
given, as some old Moslem writers suggest, because 
its channel is so low that the stream cannot be 
used for irrigation unless its water is artificially 
raised. 

There is a noise so loud and constant that you have 

almost ceased to hear it — a dull, grave diapason, 

[216] 



HAMATH THE GREAT 



fuller and deeper than the heaviest organ-stop. Now, 
sloAvly and painfully, it forces up a few tones of the 
scale, then drops sullenly to its key-note. "Do mi 
sol, DO DO DO. Do sol la, DO DO DO '* — on through 
the day and the night and the century. It is the 
music of the na'ura, the water-wheels of the Orontes. 
You see them now and then in southern villages, but 
as other cataracts are to Niagara, so are all other 
water-wheels to the water-wheels of Hama. Great 
wooden frames revolving painfully upon wooden 
axles as, by means of buckets along the circumfer- 
ence, the river lifts itself up to the level of the ter- 
races above — these wheels approach very near to 
perpetual motion. We stand amazed before one that 
is forty feet high, until the eye travels down the 
river to another wheel of sixty feet; and our guide 
takes us out to the edge of the city where a monster 
ninety feet in diameter is playing its slow, solemn 
tune. 

It is impossible to shut out the sound of their 
creaking. I know of travelers who have been so dis- 
tracted by the incessant, inescapable noise that they 
■could not sleep in Hama ; but we found the music of 
the wheels very soothing, like the distant roar of the 
ocean or a slow fugue played on some cyclopean 
organ. Now they are in unison, now repeating the 
theme one after another, now for a brief moment in 
a sublime harmony never to be forgotten, then once 

more together in the unison of a tremendous chorus. 

[217] 



SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON 



A» we drift to sleep, the song of the river call* us 
back, back, back to the Beginning of Things. 

" Do mi fa, do do do." What care the wheels 
whether Saracen or Crusader conquer in the fight 
below ! " Do fa sol, do do do." The chariots of 
Zenobia are rattling across the plain — or is it the 
fleeing cohorts of the Assyrian host? "Do sol la, 
DO DO DO." The dark regiments of Pharaoh are 
coming up from the south, and the Hittite city rushes 
to arms. " Do mi sol, DO do do do." And old 
Orontes is slowly pushing around the great wheels of 
the dream city, while the Iliad is unsung, and Cheops 
is unquarried, and the fathers of Abram still dwell 
in Ur of the Chaldees. 



[218] 



INDEX 



INDEX 

Roman numerals refer to chapters, Arabic to pages 



Abana River, 6T-71, 88f, 106 

Abila, 69 

Abilene, Tetrarchy of, 69 

Ain el-Beida, 130 

Ain Fijeh, TO 

Ain el-Wu'ul, 130 

Aleih stories, 61 f 

Aleppo, Province of, 8 

Anti-Lebanon 7, 63, 67-71, 

178, 204 
Aurelian, 135-137, 205 
Assassins, the, 10 
Awaj River, 89n 



Baalbek, XIII 

Climate, 188 

Great stones, 198-200 

History, 189-191 

Ruins,' 192-197 

Situation, 184f 
Baal-gad (Baalbek), 189 
Barada, see Abana 
Bashan, Land of, 75 
Bedouins, 129-131, 143 
Beirut, City, 7, III 

Bay, 35 ' 

Cape, 29 

Caves, 31 

Commerce, 36 

History, 26f 

Modern aspects, 37 f 



Name, 29 

Olive orchards, 30 

Political strife, 40f 

Religious strife, 38f 

Sand dunes, 30 

Schools, 41-43 

AVater supply, 33 
Beirut, Province of, 8 
Bika', 63-65, 184f, 178, 204 
Bliss, Daniel, 146-149 
Bosra, 78 

Butrus, Patriarch, 156-162 
Byblos, 4, 7 

Cathedral Rocks, 174 
Cedar Mountain, 167, 176-179 
Cedars of Lebanon, XII 
Chrysorrhoas, see Abana 
Coele-Syria, see Bika'. 
Coffee, '107-109 
Committee of Reform, 40 
Cross, Festival of, 179 



Damascus, VII-IX, 7, 15 
Ananias, Tomb of, 119 
Bargaining in, 98-101 
Bazaars, 96-104 
Beggars, 104 
Caf^s, 106f 
Cemeteries, 116 
Commerce, 95, 111 

[221] 



INDEX 



Dogs, 104 

Dome of Victory, 88 

Fame of, 90 

Fertility, 92 f 

Gate of Allah, 115 

Healthfulness, 70 

History, 91 

Jews, 118 

Khans, 110 

Kisan Gate, 117 

Lepers, 117 

Meidan, 114-116 

Modern aspects, 91 

Name, 90 

Night noises, 105f 

Omayyade Mosque, 89, 120- 
127 

Population, 96n 

Quarters, 118 

Residences of rich, 111-113 

St. Thomas' Gate, 106 

Saladin, Tomb of, 119f 

Street called Straight, 118f 

Street calls, 101 f 

Water supply, 70 
Damascus, Province of, 8 
Death, River of, 4 
Deir el-Kamr, 17 
Der'a, 77 
Diman, 164 
Dog River, 4, 33-35 

Caves of, 34f 
Druse Massacres, 14-17, 78 
Druse Mountain, 77f 
Druses, 11-17, 78, 84, 115, 138 
ed-Durazy, 11, 67 



Eastern Mountains, see Anti- 
Lebanon 
Edrei, 77 
Emesa, see Horns 

Feruzi, 152, 154-156 
Fish, Sacred, 203f 

George, St., 27-29, 116 
Ghuta of Damascus, 93 
Greek Catholic Church, 9 
Greek Orthodox Church, 9 

Hama, 64, 211-218 
Hamath, see Hama 
Hamath, Entering In of, 152, 

204 
Hauran, 75-87 
Hauran, Jebel, 77 
Hejaz Railway, 76f, 81 
Heliopolis (Baalbek), 190 
Hermon, Mount, 7, 65-67, 77, 

178 
Hollow Syria, see Bika'. 
Horns, 136, 152, 190, 205-208 
Homs, Lake of, 205 

Institutes of Justinian, 42 
Islam, see Mohammedanism 
Ismailians, 10 

Jebail, 4 

Jesus Christ, 12, 27, 67, 122, 

170 
Job, the Patriarch, 78-80 



Earthquakes, 4, 32, 102 



Kadisha River, 166, 174 
Kanawat, 78 



[222] 



INDEX 



Kanobin, Monastery of, 174 
Karayatein, 129 
Kasjnin, Mount, 88 
Keneiseh, Mount, 5, 52, 62, 67 
Keshaya, Monastery of, 175f 

Lebanon Mountains, I, 60-6S 
Lebanon, Province, 8, 16f 
Leja, 83-85 
Leontes River, 64 

Maronites, 9, 14-17 
Metawileh, 10 
Mirage in Bika', 136 
Missionaries, XI 
Mohammedanism 

Attitude to Jesus, 122 

Images forbidden, 112f 

Position of women, 113f 

Power of, 124f 
Muzeirib, 76 

Palmyra, X, 69 

History, 133-138 

Modern Village, 138, 140 

Ruins, 138-140 

Tombs, 132 
Persons incidentally men- 
tioned: 

Abdul Hamid II., 76f, 108n 

Abel, 69, 88 

Abraham, 88, 90f, 98, 101 

Abulfeda, 93 

Adam, 88 

Alexander the Great, 26 

Amenhotep, Pharaoh, 26 

Ananias, 119 

Antar, 142 

[223] 



Antoninus Pius, 190 
Antony, Mark, 133 
Argjll, Duke of, 146 
Asad Pasha, 110 
Ashur-nasir-pal III. 34 
Augustus, 26 
Aurelius, Marcus, 34 
Baldwin of Flanders, 26, 91 
Balkis, Queen of Sheba, 

129, 190 
Benjamin of Tudela, 100 
Bildad the Shuhite, 78 
Cain, 69 
Constantine the Great, 129, 

191 
Diocletian, 137 
Dodge, Wm. E., 146 
Domna, Julia, 190, 207 
Dorotheus, Professor, 42 
Eliezer, 90 
Esarhaddon, 34 
Fakhreddin, 30 
Fatima, 116 
Hadrian, 168 
Hakim Biamrillah, 11 
Hamzeh ibn Ahmed, 11 
Helena, St., 179 
Heliogabalus, 191n, 207 
Herod the Great, 26, 91 
Hiram of Tyre, 168, 173, 

183 
Ibrahim Pasha, 30, 84 
Idrisi, 93 

Jesup, Morris K., 146 
John the Baptist, 121, 123, 

215 
Josephus, 84, 90 
Justinian, 42, 137, 168 



INDEX 



Longinus, 135 

Louis VII. of France, 91 

Mohammed, 12, 93f, 116 

Mukadassi, 188 

Naaman, 89n, 117, 120 

Nicodemus, 96 

Nureddin, 91 

Odenathus II., 134 

Og, king of Bashan, 77 

Paul, St., 91, llCf. 

Pompey, 26 

Post, Dr. Geo, E„ 168 

Rameses II., 26, 34, 79 

Rib-addi, 26 

Richard Coeur de Lion, 28 

Robinson, Edw., 195, 204n 

Rustum Pasha, 168 

Sapor of Persia, 134 

Selim, Sultan, 34 

Sennacherib, 26, 34 

Severus, Septimius, 190, 

207n 
Shalraaneser II., 34 
Solomon, 133, 190 
Tamerlane, 91, 137 
Tancred, 205 

Theodosius the Great, 175 
Tiglath-pileser III., 34, 91 
Titus, 26 
Uz, 90 

Vahballathus, 134 
Valerian, 134 
Varius, see Heliogahalus 
Vespasian, 26 
William II. of Germany, 

120 
William of Tyre, 78 
Phallic worship, 11 



Pharpar, 89n 

Pilgrim Route, 114, 122 

Protestants, 40 

Qadesh, see Horns, Lake of 

' Railways, 60, 72f, 76f, 82, 210 
Ras Baalbek, 149-152 
Ras esh-Shukkah, 4 
Rayak, 67 

Saladin, 97, 91, 119f 

Semakh, 73 

Sirocco, 80 

Smuggling, 32 

Suk Wadi Barada, 69 

Sunnin, Mount, 5. 52, 67, 178 

Suweida, 78 

Syria, II 

Boundaries, 6 

Manners and customs, 18- 

Names, 6 
Population, 8 
Provinces, 8 
Religions, 9-13 
Syrian Desert, 7, 95, 129-132, 

141 
Syrian Protestant College, 

IV, 42f, 146f 
Syrians, 16, 22-25 

Tadmor, see Palmyra 
Tell el Amarna Letters, 26 
Tell Biseh, 211 
Trachonitis, see Leja 
Transfiguration, the, 67 
Tripoli, 8, 178, 201 



[224] 



INDEX 



Uz. Land of, 78 Yarmuk Valley, 73-75 

Vilayets of Syria. 8 Zebedani Valley, 67f 

el-Wesen, 140 Zenobia, Queen, 69, 134-137, 

Women, position of, 90, 113f 205 



[225] 



I 



i)S Learj, lewis Gaston 

94. Syria, the land of ^ebanon 

19U 



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