Page images
PDF
EPUB

foot of Anti-Libanus. The principal thing to be seen at Balbec, is the Temple of the Sun, which stands in the north west part of the present town. A great part of the walls and many of the columns are still standing. The whole length of the building from E. to W. is near 300 paces, and the width from N. to S. about 17 paces at the west end: the east end is much narrower. There are various indications that many parts of the walls are more modern than the original building, and that what was first a place of idolatrous worship, has been more recently a Turkish fortress.

“There are several passages leading to the upper story, which was the principal part of the temple. From a hexagonal room you enter the largest, though probably not the most splendid apartment of the temple. It is 125 paces from north to south, and not much less from east to west. On the N. and S. sides are several niches where statues were probably erected. The ruins of a wall show that an inner apartment occupied the centre of this apartment, a room within a room.”

A minute description of this magnificent temple is given by Mr. Fisk. He measured its arches, wings, Corinthian columns, and architraves, all of giant architecture, evincing an astonishing degree of mechanical power and skill.

"One of the greatest wonders of the whole building is the large stones which are found in the walls near the north west corner. On the north side there are nine stones in a row, each 30 feet long, about 10 thick, and 12 high. These constitute the foundation of a wall which seems never to have been finished. On the west side there are two tiers of large stones, three in each. The lower tier is raised 1.5 feet from the ground; the height and thickness of the stones appear to be the same with those on the north side, so that the upper tier is about 27 feet from the ground, and each of these stones is upwards of 60 feet in length. Here again one asks with amazement, 'How was it ever possible to raise a stone 60 feet by 10 and 12! The Arabs, who were around us while we were looking at the temple, said it was done by satan. Magnificent as this temple must have been, I strongly suspect the original plan was never completed.

“Balbec is now a ruinous village, containing about 200 human dwellings. There are a few families of Greek Catholics, the only Christians in the place. With them we lodged, and before parting, gave them several copies of the Scriptures. The great body of the inhabitants are Metonalis, who are numerous in the adjacent parts. They are Mussulmans of the sect of Ali, like the Persians. They are numerous at Tyre, and are found in some places on Mount Lebanon. Balbec is now governed by an emeer, who is only nineteen or twenty years old. He had long been at war with an uncle, who had command of some village or district in the vicinity. The day that we arrived at Balbec, they had an interview, by desire of the emeer, and pretended to make peace. The emeer conducted his uncle into Balbec in the afternoon with great pomp. His horsemen to the number of more than 100 pranced their Arabian steeds about the plain, and fired their muskets and pistols in the air; and the women came out of the village to meet them with songs and instruments of music. In the evening we heard that on reaching his dwelling, the emeer had quietly put his uncle in chains. What was to follow, we did not learn. The Metonalis have the reputation, among the other inhabitants of the country, of being treacherous, thievish, and in a word, a lawless banditti.

“10. From what we heard of the character of the emeer of Balbec, we apprehended further exactions, and therefore we left before day, guided by the stars. We had not proceeded far, before, the clouds gathered and it soon began to rain. Our guide lost his way, and we were obliged to stop and wait in the open field, while the rain fell in torrents. We could find no shelter and had no idea of the direction in which we ought to move. Making the best use we could of our umbrellas and cloaks, we waited for the morning. Our situation gave me a lively impression of the force of David's words—My soul waiteth for thee, more than they that wait for the morning. At last the morning came, and the rain ceased.

“Resumed our journey, and about noon arrived at Zahle, a finely situated village at the foot of Mount Lebanon. The bishop says, there are here about 1000 families, chiefly Christians."

On the 11th Mr. Fisk went to Mar Ephraim, the residence of the patriarch, Peter Jarwy, who is well known in England, having visited that country and solicited donations to enable him to print, as he pretended, and circulate the Scriptures on Mount Leb

But he proves to be a bigoted Catholic, opposed to the operations of Bible Societies, and missionaries.

The excursion, of which some account has been just given, occupied Mr. Fisk about two weeks, after which he returned to Antoura. The day following his return he visited Kraim, a college-convent, containing twenty-five or thirty priests, monks, and students. In the library, which consisted of Italian and Latin books, he found four folio volumes of the pope's bulls. From this institution he proceeded to Ain Warka, the Maronite college, in which the Syriac and Arabic languages are taught. The number of pupils was about twenty. In the evening he had a long religious discussion with two bishops. The next day he returned to Antoura terminated his residence there, October 22d., and proceeded to Beyroot. On the 25th he sold 400 Psalters to a Catholic who purchased to sell again. His journal, from which the foregoing account of

anon.'

his travels and researches in Mount Lebanon, has been selected, concludes with some remarks on several singular clans of people which he there found.* He speaks of the country as being very interesting, worthy of missionary investigation, and a hopeful field of missionary labor and enterprise.

He also gives a brief account of the languages and dialects spoken by the Syriac Christians and others, from which it appears that a confusion of languages and alphabets is common in that country—“This chaos of dialects,” he says, serves to multiply labor and expense for missionaries, and Bible Societies. All these classes of people must be furnished with the Bible, and must have the Gospel preached to them. The harvest is plenteous but the laborers are few. May the Lord of the harvest send forth more laborers."

CHAPTER XII.

JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM IN COMPANY WITH MR.

JOWETT, SUBSEQUENT RESIDENCE THERE, AND
RETURN TO BEYROOT, EMBRACING A PERIOD OF
ABOUT EIGHT MONTHS.

MR. FISK went to Beyroot in September, as has been noticed, to welcome the Rev. Mr. Jowett, who had just arrived from Egypt. Mr. Jowett returned with him to Antoura, and accompanied him in some of his excursions among

the mountains. As he was about to set off from Beyroot for Jerusalem, Mr. Fisk proposed to be his companion to that city. An account of this journey will here be inserted.

* For information respecting these singular classes of people, see Missionary Herald, vol. xx. p: 274--articles, Pruses, Metonalis, and Ansareeah. Also Jowett's Christian Researches--articles, Metawalies, corresponding to Metonalies, p. 34; Druses, p. 35; Ansari, corresponding to Ansareeah, p. 49; Boston edition. The orthography of .proper names in that country does not appear yet to be settled among different travellers.

Oct. 28, 1823. Left Beyroot for Jerusalem in company with the Rev. Mr. Jowett. After riding about eight hours on asses, we stopped for the night at Nabi Yoanas, (the Prophet Jonah.) Were welcomed by Abdallah, a Turkish dervish, and conducted to a good room, that is to say, a room in which, by putting stones against the wooden windows and door, we were able to exclude company, and in a great measure the outer air. The only article of furniture was a mat thrown on the floor. The house was built by the Emeer Besheer for the accommodation of travellers. It is near the tomb of a Turkish saint, and at the head of a fine little bay; and the place is called Nabi Yoanas, because tradition says it was here that the fish “vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.' We talked with the dervish about the Prophet. He told most of the story correctly, but added, that God prepared two trees to shelter him when he was thrown upon the dry ground. We showed him the book of Jonah in the Arabic Bible. He read, kissed the book, read again, kissed the book again, and so on eight or ten times. Mussulmans often treat the Bible thus when we show it to them, thus acknowledging it as a sacred book. But they are, like the nominal Christians who live among them, more ready to acknowledge its authority by kissing it, and putting it to their forehead and their breast, than by reading it, and receiving its doctrines, and obeying its pre

[ocr errors]

cepts.”

They rode on the 29th to Sidon, and reached Tyre on the following day.

“30. The road from Sidon to Tyre is almost a perfect level. The soil seems excellent, but, as in many other parts of Turkey, it is good land lying waste. We saw a few villages east of us; but on

« PreviousContinue »