Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 3/The Druses of Lebanon


There is perhaps no people in the world, of whom, though living on the borders of civilisation, and visited as they are by travellers from all parts, and forming one of the many sects which inhabit a land most interesting to all who read Holy Writ, so very little is known as these Druses, who are now shocking us with their murderous exploits. And yet they constitute the most courageous and warlike body in Syria; perhaps the most united tribe of warriors in the world. Moreover, everything about them is highly calculated to excite curiosity and inquiry. The mystery which has so long veiled the secrets of their creed, no one has yet penetrated, although many have pretended to have done so; and such of their religious books as have found their way into Europe, have by no means cast that light which it was hoped they would upon their dogmas.

One must be born a Druse, or not belong to them at all—nascitur, non fit—they admit no converts amongst them. They inhabit the southern portion of Lebanon and the western part of Antilebanon. Throughout the mountain there are about 40 large villages belonging exclusively to their tribe, and upwards of 200 in which the population is made up of Maronite Christians, Druses, and followers of the Greek Church. The Druse men capable of bearing arms in Lebanon are about 15,000 in number. Physically they are one of the finest races in the world, and each individual amongst them has an independent look and bearing about him which I have witnessed in no other Asiatics, save perhaps the Rajpoots of India. They have no priesthood, properly so called; but the whole tribe is divided into Akkals, or initiated, Djahils, or uninitiated. The Akkals do not inherit the dignity; they must be proved, tried, and then initiated into the mysteries of their order, and they form the only approach to anything like a priesthood which the Druses possess. There are female as well as male Akkals, and both are distinguished from the Djahils, or uninitiated—the rest of the Druse world, in fact, by their simplicity in attire, the absence of any gold or silver ornament on their persons, by—which in the East is the greatest singularity possible—their never smoking; their abstinence from anything like superfluity in dress, the brevity and simplicity of their conversation, and their not joining more than is absolutely needful in amusements, either public or private. In short, the Akkals are a sort of domestic hermits, although they may, and do, own private property, and practise all the various callings in life like any other men. The fact of belonging to the initiated class does not give them emoluments of any kind, nor any decided rank among their fellow Druses, except in matters of religion; although, as a general rule, most respected men of their nation are Akkals.

The Djahils, or uninitiated, on the other hand, appear to have little or no idea of belonging to any creed whatever; and the younger portions of the men are generally what the Americans would call a very “rowdy” set. The Druse places of worship, called howlés, are situated outside the villages, in the most solitary spots which can be found. They are plain rooms, without any ornament whatever; and on ordinary occasions can be inspected by any one that likes to do so. If a visitor asks to see one of the Druse holy books, he is invariably shown a copy of the Moslem Khoran; but it is well known that they have other books, which they allow no one to see. Some of these have found their way to Europe, and are to be met with in the Imperial Library of Paris, the Bodleian of Oxford, and the British Museum; but these it is pretty well ascertained contain nothing which the Druses wish to keep secret; and what is mysterious about their creed has no doubt been handed down by tradition, rather than by any written document.

The howlés, or temples, of the Druses are open for their religious meeting every Thursday evening, about an hour after sunset. At the commencement of the night’s business, Akkals and Djahils both assemble together, when the news of the day and the prices of crops are discussed. At this period a chapter or two of the Moslem Khoran is read, and no objection is made even to strangers being present. This, however, is not a general rule by any means, and it is only Europeans, whom the Druses particularly wish to honour, that they would admit even thus far to the outside, as it were, of their worship. When the evening is a little farther advanced, all Djahils are obliged to withdraw, and the howlé becomes like a Freemason’s Lodge, closely tiled, or shut, with an armed guard near the door to prevent all intrusion. At these meetings no one save the initiated are ever present, and they often stretch far into the night, so much so, that I have sometimes seen the Akkals going home from their howlés long after midnight. Sometimes, when very important matters have to be discussed, a second selection takes place in the howlés, and the younger Akkals being obliged to withdraw, the elders—the crême de la crême, or those initiated into the highest mysteries of the sect—remain alone to deliberate and determine upon the future proceedings of their fellow-religionists, or to discuss such more advanced doctrines of their creed as are only known to the select few. Singular to say, no form of worship, nothing which at all comes near our ideas of prayer, is known to be practised by the Druses. In the large towns of Syria they will often go to the Moslem mosques, and profess to call themselves followers of the prophet. But they hardly impose, nay, they don’t seem to wish to impose, on anyone by this temporary adherence to the dominant religion; for, in order to avoid the Sultan’s conscription, they have been known to make the sign of the cross, profess themselves Christians, and even ask for, nay, sometimes receive, the rite of baptism; and they acknowledge, that, according to their creed, it is lawful to profess for a time whatever may be the creed of the most powerful body amongst whom they live. Moreover, they hold concealment and secresy the greatest virtues which a man can practise, and scruple not to assert that a crime only becomes such on being found out. Their bearing, courtesy, and all that we should call good breeding, more particularly amongst the Akkals, would bear comparison with the most refined gentlemen of Europe; and their powers of observation and discrimination of character, are such as could only be expected amongst men of education and travel. This is the more wonderful, as except for an occasional short sojourn in the towns of Syria—St. Jean D’Acre, Tyre, Sidon, Beyrout, Latakia, or Damascus—no Druse ever leaves his native mountains; and beyond reading or writing their native tongue—the Arabic language, and even this until late years has been very partial indeed amongst them—they are destitute of any mental culture whatever.

The Druses marry but one wife; and their women, more particularly those of the higher classes, are kept very secluded indeed. However, although by no means common, divorce is very easy indeed amongst them. A man has but to say to his wife that she is free to return to her father’s house, and the divorce is as valid (nor can it be recalled if pronounced), as if in England it had been pronounced by the full Court of Divorce. Nor is it needful that any reason farther than that such is the husband’s will should be given for the act, and both parties are free to marry again. The married women wear the tanton, or horn, upon their heads, over which a veil is cast, the latter being drawn close round the face, and leaving only one eye exposed whenever a man of another creed or nation comes near; but those who have lived much in Lebanon, more particularly European ladies, have numerous opportunities of seeing the faces of all classes amongst them. Although by no means void of good looks when young, the women are not nearly so fine a race as the men; and the older females of the peasant classes are perhaps the most hideous old hags it is possible to conceive.

Amongst this strange people I spent nearly six months of the last summer and autumn, having for the health of my family taken up my residence at a village on Mount Lebanon, in the very centre of the Druse country. At an hour’s ride from where we lived was the village of Bisoor, inhabited by some sheiks, or chiefs, of the Talhook family, and amongst others by the sheik Talhook, who is certainly one of the most remarkable men I have met with in any country.

Sheik Bechir is an Akkal of the Druses, and perhaps there is not a stricter one throughout Lebanon. Throughout the mountain he has the reputation of dealing with magic; and certainly some of the cases of sickness he has cured, as well as the unaccountable tricks he has performed, go far to confirm the general opinion of his fellow-countrymen. An English gentleman, long resident in Lebanon, and in whose word the most implicit reliance can be placed, has told me that he has seen at the sheik’s bidding a stick proceed unaided by anything from one end of the room to another. Also, on two earthenware jars being placed in opposite corners of the room, one being filled with water and the other empty, the empty jar move across the room, the full jar rise and approach its companion, and empty its contents into it, the latter returning to its place in the way that it came. Of late years the sheik has given up these kind of performances, as he declares that the long fasts of fifteen and twenty days which were necessary, so he says, to prepare him and give him power over the spirits by which he worked, used to injure his health. So much is certain—on the testimony of some of the most respectable people in the mountain—that when he had to practise these magic arts continually, his health was very bad indeed, and that since he has given them up he has greatly improved.

Partly because of the ride from where I lived to Bisoor, but chiefly because I have a sort of decided inclination to cultivate singular acquaintances, I used often to go over last summer to see Sheik Bechir, and he frequently used to return my visit. At first he positively declined performing any of the tricks of which I had heard so much, declaring that, except to effect cures, he had made it a rule to have nothing more to do with the unseen world. However, after we had become more intimate, he one day consented to show me one of the tricks by which he used to astonish the mountaineers and others. He took a common water jar, and after mumbling certain incantations into the mouth of the vessels, placed it in the hands of two persons, selected from amongst the bystanders at hazard, sitting opposite to each other. For a time the jar did not move, the sheik going on all the time reciting very quickly what seemed to me verses from the Koran, and beating time, as it were, with his right hand upon the palm of his left. Still the vessel remained as it was placed, the sheik getting so vehement in his repetitions, and seemingly so anxious for the result, that although a cold day and a strong breeze was blowing into the divan where we sat, the perspiration flowed freely down his face and ran off his beard. At last the jar began to go round, first slowly, and then quicker, until it moved at quite a rapid pace, and made three or four evolutions. The sheik pointed to it as in triumph, and then stopped his recitations, when the jar stopped turning. After perhaps half a minute’s silence he began to recite again, and, wonderful to say, the jar began to turn again. At last he stopped, took the jar out of the hands of those who were holding it, and held it for an instant to my ear, when I could plainly hear a singing noise, as if of boiling water, inside. He then poured the water carefully out of it, muttered something more into its mouth, and gave it to the attendants to be refilled with water and placed where it had stood before, for any one wanting a drink to use. I should have premised that the jar was a common one, which, as is the custom in Syria, stood with others of the same kind near the door for any one to drink out of. When the performance was over, the sheik sank back, as if greatly exhausted, on the divan, and declared that it was the last time he would go through so much fatigue, or perform any more of his magic undertakings, except for the purpose of curing sick people, on any account whatever.

That the feat of making the water-jar turn was a very wonderful one there can be no doubt; nor could I account for it by any natural or ordinary means whatever. But how it was accomplished, or whether any supernatural means whatever were used, I leave others to infer, not having myself formed an opinion on the subject, and intending simply to relate what I was myself an eye-witness of. What I was more curious to learn was, what the sheik himself thought on the subject of spirits being placed at man’s disposal, and how he had, or believed he had, acquired the power which he was said to possess.

A few days afterwards he rode over to see me, and we had a long conversation on the subject, which interested me the more, as the sheik was evidently sincere in all he said regarding his belief in the power of spirits, and the means he had used to acquire that power. I should, however, mention that, for his country and position, Sheik Bechir is a wealthy man, having landed property and houses in the mountain to the extent of about six or seven hundred pounds sterling per annum—equal, in consequence, to a country gentleman in England with three thousand a year; and that he has never been known to work a cure or perform any magic for anything like remuneration, either direct or otherwise.

That he firmly believes in his intercourse with the spiritual world is certain. He asserts that no one can have any magic power unless properly taught; and says that his teacher was an old Moslem from Morocco—to whom, by the bye, he introduced me, and offered, if I liked to devote five years to the science, to get to teach me! who had many, many years ago, learnt the art in Egypt. The knowledge of magic, he asserts, cannot only never be taught for money, but even if the pupil gives his teacher anything beyond food and shelter the teaching will be of no effect. He declares that the science has come down to our days from the time of the Pharaohs, but that there are not now fifty people in the world who have any true knowledge on the subject. The sheik declares himself to be but a very poor proficient in the art, as he never could go through the necessary fasts without injury to his health. And yet, from the accounts of his relatives, he must have gone through some severe ordeals. His sons told me, that on one occasion, some years ago, he shut himself up in a room, without either food or water, for two whole days and nights, and on letting himself out he was so weak he could hardly stand. At another time, he was locked up in his apartment for a single night, and that on coming out in the morning he was bruised all over the head and body as if with large sticks, having’ been, as he declared, beaten for several hours by evil spirits. Before undertaking any important cure, he shuts himself up in a darkened room for ten, fifteen, and sometimes thirty days, eating during this time but of plain bread, in quantities barely sufficient to support nature. His greatest triumphs have been in cures of epilepsy and confirmed madness, in which I know of many instances where his success has been most wonderful. He resorts to no severe measures with those brought to him, nor does he use any medicine, simply repeating over them certain incantations, and making passes with his hands, as if mesmerising them.

For severe fevers he has a twine or thread, of which he sends the patient—no matter how far off—enough to tie round his wrists, when the sickness is said to pass away at once. A relation of his own told me that his (the relative’s) wife had been afflicted for three years with a swelling, or tumour, of which the European doctors in Beyrout could make nothing, when at last she agreed to consult Sheik Bechir. The latter shut himself up in his room for thirty days, fasting all the time upon very small quantities of bread and water. He then took the case in hand, and after making several passes over the woman’s body, she was in five minutes perfectly cured. Although a Druse, the sheik maintains that no words ever written have the same magic power as the Psalms of David; but there are, he declares, very few persons—himself not being one of the number—who properly understand the hidden meaning, and how to apply the proper passages.

When he learnt that I had been in India, and had witnessed some of the singular performances of the fakirs, or holy mendicants, in that country, he was greatly interested, and said that the greatest magician now living was a certain native of Benares, who had once wandered by Affghanistan, Bokhara, Russia, and Constantinople, to Syria, through Lebanon.

But what surprised me more than anything else about the sheik was the singularly correct description he gave of countries, towns, and even portions of towns, which he could never have seen, having never been out of Syria, and even of some regarding which he could not have read much. That he has picked up here and there a great deal of history, geography, and other general knowledge is certain. Still he can only read Arabic, in which tongue works of information are very limited, and the number of Europeans with whom he has had any intercourse whatever might be counted upon his ten fingers. Moreover, he has never been further from his native mountain than Damascus or Beyrout, and that for only short periods, and at long intervals. He asked me to name any towns in which I had resided, and which I wished him to describe to me. I mentioned, amongst others, London, Edinburgh, Calcutta, Bombay, Cabool, Candahar, and Constantinople, each of which he literally painted in words to the very life, noticing the various kinds of vehicles, the dress of the different people, the variety of the buildings, and the peculiarities of the streets with a fidelity which would have been a talent in any one who had visited them, but in a man who had never seen them was truly marvellous. This faculty the sheik does not attribute to anything like magic, but says it is caused by his gathering all sorts of information wherever he can—from books or men—and never forgetting what he has either read or written.

Had Sheik Bechir had the advantage of an European education in his youth, or even if works written in English, French, or German were not sealed books to him, I am inclined to think that he would be one of the most remarkable men the world has ever seen.

Besides himself, the sheik’s family consists of his wife and two grown-up sons. The latter are both Djahils, or uninitiated, one of them having tried to acquire the standing of an Akkal, or initiated, but broke down during his probation, as he found the privations more severe than he could bear. Their mother, however, is an Akkal of the very strictest kind, and is looked on throughout the neighbourhood as a woman of great sanctity. Although on good terms with her husband, she lives apart from him in the same house, for it is the universal custom amongst the Akkals that whenever the wife has had two sons a divorce à thorô takes place. The advent of daughters does not count in this singular domestic arrangement, and if one of the sons should die, the divorce is annulled until another son is born, when it is resumed again. The reason of this custom is, that as property is equally divided amongst sons, it is thought expedient to prevent the subdivision of land becoming too minute.

On one occasion when I visited Bisoor with a party amongst whom were two or three English ladies, the latter were invited into the hareem, or women’s apartment, to visit the sheik’s wife and some of his female relatives there assembled. Being by this time on terms of intimacy with the chief and his family, I was asked to join the ladies’ party in the hareem—a mark of friendship rarely shown to one of our sex who is not a relative. Although the Druse ladies were all veiled, we could, from time to time, see enough of their faces to distinguish their features, and even amongst the younger portion of the party there was not one tolerably good-looking. They appeared, in fact, of quite another race than their husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons. Some of them wore numerous valuable jewels; but the sheik’s wife, although clean and neat, was clothed in garments of the most ordinary texture, and wore no ornament of any kind. Coffee, sweetmeats, and fruits, were handed round, and we remained about half-an-hour in the apartment, until summoned to the breakfast, or midday meal, which had been prepared in one of the outer rooms, and to which both ladies and gentlemen of our party sat down, but at which the Druse ladies did not make their appearance.

The meat was cooked, served, and eaten altogether after the fashion of the country. First a sort of tripod, something like an inverted music-stool, was brought, and put down in the middle of the room. Upon this was placed a very large, copper, circular tray, nearly four feet in circumference. On this tray the various dishes were set, whilst the whole party squatted round it on the floor. It was curious to observe the contrast formed between fresh-looking English ladies, laughing merry English children, shooting-jacket clad English gentlemen, and grave, long-bearded, white-turbaned Druse sheiks. A long napkin, which went over the knees of us all—and which the children compared to getting under the sheets—was spread; a score or so of unleavened bread cakes was placed at the hands of the guests, and then, taking up his spoon with a “Bismillah” (in the name of God), our host gave the sign to begin. In the centre was a large pillaff, made of rice boiled in butter, seasoned with pine-nuts, and mixed with mincemeat. This was the pièce de résistance, of which everybody eat, and eat it with all things. Round this dish—or mountain—of rice, were placed plates of various meat and vegetable stews, all very good, very tasty, and inviting. Our manner of proceeding was in this wise. Each individual would dip his spoon into the rice—keeping carefully to his own corner of the vast heap—and on its way back to his mouth moisten it with the gravy of the dish before him, of which there was one or more for each. Thus the most urgent hunger was satisfied, and we soon began merely to trifle with the national dish of kibbé, and other matters equally solid. Some of the party present had never before been present at a regular Arab entertainment, for in the towns of Syria the fashion amongst all the more respectable natives is to ape the European mode of setting the table and serving the dinner. To the children of our party the whole affair was a high holiday of amusement, their laughter and mistakes amusing the sheiks not a little. During the entire repast nothing stronger than water was drunk, for in Druse houses a single glass of wine or spirits would be thought defiling to the owner. In fact, the Akkals never touch fermented liquor of any kind, and although the Djahils drink sometimes, they never do so in excess, and only in secret, or when persons of other creeds are not present.

When the dinner was over, each person washed his or her hands, one attendant pouring water from a copper jug whilst the other held a large copper basin with a false bottom, so that the dirty water fell through and was not seen, much after the old-fashioned chilumchee, in which we used to wash of yore—it may be so yet—on the “Bengal side” of India. Those amongst us who wore beards were careful to wash them very clean both with soap and water. Rose water was then brought in and sprinkled over every one, after which the usual black, unstrained coffee was served, and each man—excepting, of course, the Akkals, who never smoke—was left to his pipe, his thoughts, and the conversation of his neighbours, the ladies of the party returning for the present to the women’s apartment.

Orientals seldom talk much immediately after their meals, and in this they show their wisdom, for next to piano playing or singing directly after dinner, there is nothing so bad for digestion as talking or listening to the conversation of others. This it is that makes all travellers in the East approve of the open airy rooms, where pipes, narghilées, or cigars are freely allowed, the roomy, easy divans where a man can sit or recline at his ease without shocking the ideas of propriety around him, and the universal fixed oriental—and let me add common-sense—idea that clothes and furniture were made for man, not man for his clothes or furniture.

Gradually, however, conversation arose, and the universal topic it turned upon was the Chinese war and forthcoming expedition to that country. The Druses are great believers in the powers of England as a military nation; but they one and all said that neither we nor any other nation in the world could ever conquer China. This is owing to the fact of China being to the Druses a sort of spiritual promised land. They look forward to the future advent of the Messiah who is to come from China; and whenever a Druse dies in Syria, they believe that his soul is immediately born again in China, in which country they believe are numberless Druses, who one day or other will issue forth, conquer the whole world, re-establish the true faith throughout the world, and punish all unbelievers. This singular belief is the more extraordinary, as the Druses have neither tradition nor record of there ever having been any intercourse between themselves and the Chinese, as indeed we all know very well there never could have been. Their faith in the similarity of their own creed and that of many in the Celestial Empire has always struck persons who heard it as one of the most absurd ideas ever conceived in the minds of uneducated men. It may, however, some day be proved to be otherwise. An American Protestant missionary in Sidon told me a short time ago that he had been recently reading a manuscript history of the Druse religion, which a native Syrian Protestant clergyman, who has passed his life amongst the Druses, has lately written, and is I believe about to publish; and it at once struck him what a close affinity there was between many points in their faith and in that of the Buddhists of Burmah as described by the Rev. Mr. Judson, the well-known American Baptist missionary, whose name is so well known in India, and who passed so very many years in Pegu and Ava. It is, therefore, quite possible that we may yet discover that in some points of belief and practice there is more resemblance than we now believe to exist between the Druses and other far Eastern Asiatic sects. But a still more extraordinary belief exists amongst the Druses of the mountain, namely, that there are many Akkals of their creed in the hills of Scotland, who, on account of the dominant religion, are obliged to profess Christianity outwardly, but who, amongst themselves, are as pure Druses of the initiated class as any that exist in Lebanon. After learning that I was a Scotchman, Druses have often questioned me as to whether I was aware that members of their creed existed in that country. This tradition seems to have been handed down to the present generation from the days of the Crusaders, and to have got mixed up with the fact that the Templars existed formerly in certain parts of Europe; for certain ceremonies which the Syrian Druses say are practised by their Scottish brethren bear a close resemblance to those of the old Knights-Templar. But it is more likely still—and this is very probably one of the reasons of their suposed affinity with the Chinese—that amongst the Druses, as amongst other semi-civilised nations, certain affiliations and signs of freemasonry have crept in; and they have formed the idea, that wherever traces of the same society exist, the people hold the same religious creed.

After about an hour’s repose and smoking, we were rejoined by the ladies of our party, and all prepared to return the visit of Sit Farki, a celebrated old Druse lady residing in the village, who had on our arrival called upon the Europeans of her own sex who had that morning arrived at Bisoor. The Sit—“Sit,” in Arabic, means lady, or mistress of a household—Farki is, like our host, of the Talhook family, and is an instance, by no means uncommon in Lebanon, of the influence which a talented female may obtain, even amongst a population where women are kept in seclusion and treated as inferiors. This lady is a widow of some seventy-five years old, and is possessed of what in the mountains is looked upon as a large landed property, for it gives her an income of five or six hundred pounds sterling a year. Few measures of any importance are decided upon by the Druses without consulting her, and in their religious mysteries she is one of the very highest amongst the initiated. We found her waiting for us in a sort of large kiosk, or summer-house, built on the roof of her own dwelling, the high windows of which afforded a most extensive view of one of the most magnificent valleys in Lebanon. Here were assembled to meet us nearly all the women of the various sheik families in and about the village, some being veiled, whilst a few of the elder ones had their faces almost uncovered, but even the veils allowed the countenances they were supposed to hide to be seen pretty freely. Amongst the younger ladies there were three or four who might be termed good-looking, and one or two decidedly pretty. But like all other women in Syria, they marry and become mothers so early in life, that at two- or three-and-twenty they look past middle age, and at thirty are already old. Like all orientals, the Druse women deem it a great misfortune to have female children and not boys; but a woman who has been married two or three years, and had no children at all, is looked on as something both unfortunate and unclean. “A house without children,” says the Arab proverb, “is like a bell without a clapper, and a woman who does not bear is like a tree that gives no fruit, only more useless, for the tree may be burned for firewood.”

At the Sit Farki’s we had to go through the usual string of Arab compliments, to which was added the inevitable sprinkling of rose-water, the sherbet, the narghilées, the coffee, and last, a refection of fruit, jelly, and sweetmeats. The wonder of the Druse women at the fairness of the ladies and children, their astonishment and questions regarding European dress and customs, and their almost childish delight at what to them were wonderful novelties, all amused us not a little. The Sit herself is a person without any education save a fair knowledge of her own language, the Arabic, but in her conversation and remarks shows considerable common sense and great observation. She expressed the greatest delight at seeing us, and begged us to consider the house our own, to stay the night, to honour her by remaining a week, and so forth. We were, however, not able to prolong our visit, for the sun was drawing fast towards the west, we had an hour’s ride before we could reach home, and the roads of Lebanon, difficult enough at all times, are exceedingly dangerous, if not quite impassable after dusk. After many compliments and farewells from the Sit and her friends, we therefore returned to the Sheik Bechir’s house, and there, having put the children on their donkeys and mules, helped the ladies on their horses, and mounting ourselves, we started on our return home, highly pleased with our day spent in a Druse village, and still more so with our hosts, the sheik and his relatives.

Our road home ran along the side of a mountain, and keeping us parallel with a magnificent deep valley, at the bottom of which ran the river Juffa, whilst the numerous villages scattered here and there on the hills, the cattle returning home from pasture, and the many peasants we met on their way home from the fields, gave the whole scene an air of peace and plenty, not often met with in the Turkish empire, and perhaps in no part of it except Mount Lebanon. The wonderful transparency of the atmosphere in this land causes some singular optical illusions. Everything appears much nearer to the beholder than it really is; and it is only after the experience of some months that one becomes sufficiently accustomed to this to estimate objects at their true distance. I was much struck with this, when on our way home from Bisoor to the mountain village in which all our party was residing for the summer, we rounded a hill on the west, and came in view of the Mediterranean, with the plains lying at the foot of Lebanon, the immense olive-grove that skirts the sea, the town and roadstead of Beyrout, with its numerous ships. It appeared almost as if a few bounds down the mountain would place us on the shores of the deep blue sea, whereas we know well that it takes a good horse nearly four hours to get over the intervening ground. It was curious to look down at the steamers now at anchor, and think that by embarking on board of one of them, we could reach Marseilles in six and London in eight days, and be in a very different climate and very different scenes from those which we had that day felt and witnessed amongst the Druses of Mount Lebanon.

M. L. Meason.