SOLEYMAN EFFENDI THE ADANITE, AND THE NUSAIR1YEF1
In November, 1862, a rough and repulsive-looking man came to my house in Beit el Jebaili in Beirut, bringing an Arabic letter of introduction from the famous Dr. Meshaka of Damascus. He was short of stature, had a low forehead, projecting chin and Negroid lips, ruddy countenance, and altogether as repulsive a man as I have ever met in the East. I opened and read the letter. Dr. Meshaka stated that the bearer was a convert to Christianity from the mystic Nusairi faith; that he was a man of learning and wide reading, and that Dr. Meshaka had obtained his release from the military conscription on the ground of his being a Christian. That he had been arrested in Adana as a renegade from the draft, and was now coming to Beirut to enjoy liberty of conscience and of worship.
I bade him welcome and found him a room to lodge in, and was not long in discovering that my guest was truly an extraordinary character. I had travelled among the semi-pagan Nusairiyeh of Northern Syria and met some of them, and heard much of their secret rites, initiations and passwords, but this was the first time I had met at close range an authorized expounder of that weird system of truly diabolical mysteries. Day by day he told me his life's story. He was born in Antioch, a Nusairi, about 1834, and when a child seven years old, removed to Adana near Tarsus. He was taught by a sheikh to read and write, and on reaching the age of seventeen, was initiated into the mysteries. This initiation extended over nine months. An assembly of notables of the Nusairis of Adana was convened and he was summoned before them, and a cup of wine was given him. Then the leader stood by him and said to him, "Say thou, by the mystery of thy beneficence, o my uncle and lord, thou crown of my head, I am thy pupil, and let thy sandal lie upon my head." The servant then placed the sandal of the leader on his head, and the leader began to pray over him that he might receive the mystery. He was then enjoined secrecy and all dispersed. After forty days another assembly was convened, another cup of wine drunk, and he was directed to say: "In the faith of the mystery of Ain Mim Sin (Ain stands for Ali, or the archetypal Deity, the Maana; Mim for Mohammed, or the expressed Deity, the Ism; and Sin for Salman at Farsi, or the communicator, the Bab) and he was charged by the imam to repeat the cabalistic word A. M. S. five hundred times a day. As before, secrecy was now enjoined, and the so-called "King's Adoption" was accomplished. After seven months more, he was called to another assembly, where, after numerous questions and imprecations he was asked, "Wilt thou suffer the cutting off of thy head and hands and feet, and not disclose this august mystery?" He answered, "Yes." Twelve sponsors then rose, and the imam then asked them, "In case he discloses this mystery, will ye bring him to me that we may cut him to pieces and drink his blood?" They answered, "Yes."
Then he swore three times that he would not disclose the mystery of A. M. S. and the imam said, "Know, O my child, that the earth will not suffer thee to be buried in it, shouldst thou disclose this mystery, and thy return to earth will not be in a human form (in the transmigration), but to a degrading form of beast, from which there will be no deliverance for thee forever."
They then put a veil over his head, the sponsors placed their hands on his head and offered three long prayers, then gave him a cup of wine. The dignitary then took him to his house and taught him sixteen formulas of prayer in which divine honours are paid to Ali.
Being naturally of a shrewd and inquisitive mind, he devoted himself to the study of that faith (which none but the initiated can understand), learned the worship of the sun and moon and adopted the horrible and gross superstitions of the sect. They hold to the transmigration of souls, that the souls of all men at death pass into new bodies, and that unbelievers are at death transformed into some one of the lower animals. They believe that the spirits of Moslem sheikhs at death take the bodily form of asses; that Christian doctors enter swine bodies; that Jewish rabbis take the form of male apes; that wicked Nusairis enter into domestic animals; great sceptics among them into apes, while persons of mixed character enter bodies of men of other sects.
They simulate all sects, as do the Druses, and on meeting Moslems swear to them that they likewise fast and pray. But on entering a mosque they mutter curses against Abu Bekr, Omar, and Othman and others. They say, "We are the body, all other sects are clothing: but whatever clothing a man may put on, it does not injure him, and one who does not simulate is a fool, for no reasonable man will go naked in the market-place." So they are Christians with the Christians, Jews with the Jews, and all things, literally, to all men.
They have secret signs, questions and answers by which they recognize each other. For example, one says on meeting a stranger, "Four, two fours, three and two, and as many more twice over in thy religion, what place have they?" Answer: "In the journeying Chapter," etc. They use signs, and they use the interlacing triangle. In their secret worship they partake of bread and wine. They have borrowed from the Bible, the Koran, and from Persian and Sabian mysticism. They teach that out of man's sins God created devils and Satans, and out of the sins of those devils He made women, and hence no woman is taught their religion. When the initiated meet for prayer to Ali, guards are placed to keep the women at a distance. Their most binding oath is to swear by the faith of the covenant of Ali, prince of believers, and by the covenant of, "Ain Mim Sin." Soleyman bribed one of the chiefs of the "Northerner" sect of Nusairis to tell him the "hidden mystery," which proved to be that the heavens ate the Impersonation of Ali Ibn Abu Talib: the wine-coloured river in heaven is Mohammed; and the milk white river is Salman al Farsi; that when we are purified from earthly grossness, our spirits will be elevated to become stars in the Milky Way, etc.
But the more he read and thought of his religion, the more he doubted its divine authority. One of the tenets of the faith is that on the death of a Nusairi a planet descends and takes up the soul of the departed which becomes a new star in "derub et tibban," i.e., the Milky Way. Several times when holy sheikhs were dying, he stationed himself outside the door and watched the hole over the door which is left in every house as an exit to departing souls, and saw no planet descend and no star ascend. This shook his faith, and on going about Adana, he began to examine the other religions. He decided that there must be a better religion than the pagan Nusairi absurdities, and went to a Moslem sheikh as a seeker after Islam. They read together the Koran and the sheikh explained. He was a Mohammedan about a month, when, as he said, he found in the Koran "three hundred lies and seventy great lies" so that he was unwilling to remain longer a Moslem. He then studied the books of the Greek Orthodox Church, turned Greek and was baptized by a merchant of Adana. Entering on this new faith, he frequented the church and was horrified to find that though professing to worship the true God, the Greeks actually worshipped pictures, the holy "'ikons." Attending the mass, it was explained to him that the priest blessed the wafer or bread, whereupon it was transformed into the perfect humanity and divinity of Christ.
"What," said he, "does it become God?" "Yes, certainly." "And then what do you do with it?" "We eat it." "Does the priest eat it?" "Yes." "What! Make a god and then eat their god?" This was too much. He said he had read in an old Arabic version of Robinson Crusoe about men eating one another, but here were people eating their god!
Finding Christianity to be of such a nature as this, and knowing of no better form of it, he decided to become a Jew, as the Jews read the Old Testament in the original Hebrew, and all sects acknowledge the Old Testament (the, "Tourah") as true.
For four years he continued a professed Jew, and learned to read the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Talmud. He was at first greatly troubled lest God could not admit a heathen among His chosen people; but says he was quite relieved when he read that Ruth and Rahab, both heathen women, were among the progenitors of David. Two things led him at length to leave the Jewish faith, viz., the absurdities and blasphemies of the Talmud, in which he read that God Himself studies in the Talmud three hours every day; and also the prophecies regarding the coming of Christ. He then decided to become a Christian again, hoping to do so without adopting picture worship and transubstantiation. As he was baptized before by a layman, he now applied to a priest, but found no special difference, as he was obliged to worship pictures again, and, as he said, to eat his God. He could not remain a Greek; he had tried Pagainsm, Judaism and Islamism in vain, and now began to look for something else,
The Greeks had told him of the religion of the Angliz (Protestants) and that they were an heretical sect, who denied the Resurrection; and he wrote a tract against their heresy, bringing proofs from Scripture for the doctrine of the Resurrection. A Greek from Beirut, living in Adana, told him that there were learned Greeks in Beirut who could convince him of the truth of transubstantiation, and, the propriety of picture worship. While visiting this man he saw a book lying on the table, which he took up and began to read. It was a copy of the famous work on the papacy, in Arabic, by Dr. Michaiel Meshaka of Damascus. He was so absorbed in the book that the Greek, who had bought it for his own use against the Catholics and not to make Protestants, became alarmed and took it from him. He then went out determined to get it for himself, and finally found Rev. Mr. Coffing, American missionary, and Adadoor, the native helper, whom he had regarded before as Sadducees, and obtained the book. He was delighted. Here was Christianity which neither enjoined picture worship nor taught transubstantiation. He became a Protestant at once and wrote a letter to Dr. Meshaka in Damascus, thanking him for having written such a work. The Mohammedans and Nusairiyeh were now leagued against him, took away his wife and child and property. He was thrown into prison and two Moslem sheikhs came and tried to induce him to become again a Moslem or Nusairi. They pictured before him the sensual delights of Paradise, but he replied that they were welcome to his share of their Paradise; he was rooted in the religion of Christ and would not leave it. While in prison a Nusairi sheikh said to him "You have laid up a great store of merit by your devotion and learning and now it will all be lost, unless you will sell it to me." "Done," said Soleyman, "I will sell it." He finally sold out all his religious merit for four piastres, or sixteen cents!
He remained in prison twenty-one days, and then was sent as a conscript to enter the Turkish army in Damascus. While in prison he wrote several prayers, which he read to me, in which he pleads that God who rescued Joseph and David and Daniel and the three Hebrew youths, would rescue him from prison and from the hands of his enemies. Though illegally arrested, being a Christian and not liable to conscription, his hands were put in wooden stocks and he was marched by land all the way to Damascus, some 600 miles.
On the way to Damascus he stopped at Nebk, where he found Protestants, and requested them to write to Dr. Meshaka in Damascus, to use his efforts for his release, after he reached that city. After a month's search, Dr. Meshaka found him in a loathsome prison. Though his fellow conscripts declared that he was a Christian, the Turkish military authorities refused to release him, until, providentially, Colonel Frazier, the British commissioner to Syria' visiting Damascus, heard of the case and procured his release. He remained a month with Dr. Meshaka, and came to Beirut in November, 1862, bringing a note of introduction from Dr. Meshaka. He said he was anxious to labour for the conversion of the Nusairiyeh people who are in gross darkness and ignorance. I gave him a room near my house and had frequent interviews with him. He soon made the acquaintance of Dr. Van Dyck and of the Syrian Protestants, and we encouraged him to write a book, describing the tenets and mysteries of the Nusairi religion. His memory was remarkable. He could repeat whole chapters of the Koran, and from the Arabic and Hebrew Scriptures, and he had at ready command the poetry, history and strange mystic teachings of the Nusairiyeh. In a few weeks be had finished his book. He then went, on invitation of the Rev. R. J. Dodds of the Reformed Presbyterian Mission, to Latakia, Northern Syria, where fie remained six months, and then returned to Beirut and printed the tract at his own expense. While staying with me, he came in one day with flushed face and breath redolent of strong drink. I asked him if he had been drinking. He said yes, he was used to it, (In the Incense Mass described in his book, wine is spoken of as "Abd-en-Noor," or "servant of light," and wine is an image of Ali, who is revered as God. No wonder that the Nusairis are noted for drunkenness, which places them on a far lower plane than the Moslems.) I then said to him, "My friend, we Protestants do not drink liquor, and if you drink again, I cannot allow you to enter my house." He said, "Give me a paper." I gave him a sheet and he wrote on it and handed it back to me. I read it. "I, Soleyman of Adana, do hereby pledge myself never to drink a drop of liquor again, and if I do, my blood is forfeited, and I hereby authorize Rev. H. Jessup to cut off my head, and drink my blood." I told him that was rather strong language, but I hoped he would keep his pledge. Alas, he did not, and as I never had any other sword but the "sword of the Spirit," his head remained on his shoulders, even after his often relapses.
His book attracted wide attention. The Syrians bought and read it eagerly and copies were sent into the Nusairi districts where it made a sensation. A council was called. The young sheikhs were clamorous for sending a man at once to Beirut to kill him. The, old foxy sheikhs, however, were wiser. They said, "We have a right to kill him, but if we do, the world will say he was killed: for revealing, our secrets, and all will know his book is true. Let us deny the truth of the book, declare it a false invention, and let him alone and men will soon cease to talk of it." So they let him alone, at least for the time being.
We sent a copy of the printed work to Prof. E. Salisbury, Professor of Arabic in Yale College. There could be no better proof of Professor Salisbury's fine Arabic scholarship than his lucid and accurate translation of this mass of Oriental mystical twaddle. Professor Salisbury read his translation of it with notes before the American Oriental Society, May 18th and October 27, 1864, and it was published in their Journal, Vol. VIII No. 2, 1865. I cannot give even a resume of the peculiar features of this strange faith. It was founded by Mohammed Bin Nusair, whose third successor was Al Husain al Khusaibi, their greatest author and teacher. He taught that the Messiah was Adam, Enos and, all the patriarchs; also Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon, Job, St. George, Alexander and Mohammed; also Plato, Galen, Socrates, Nero; also Ardeshir and Sapor. He calls Abu Bekr, Omar and Othman (the three first successors or caliphs of
Mohammed) incarnations of Satan. In this he adopts the Shiah or Persian hatred of Orthodox Islam and deification of Ali.
The feasts of the Nusairi include the Udhiyah or Moslem Feast of Sacrifice and other Moslem feasts; Christmas, New Year, Palm Sunday, Pentecost and the Feast of John Chrysostom.
In the mass of Al Ashara, Ali is adored as God, and the Nusairis seem to know no other God.
"Praise be to Ali, the light of men, to Ali the lord of glory, to Ali the seed burster, to Ali the creator of the breath of life, to Ali the fountain of wisdom, the key of mercy, the lamp in darkness, the worker of miracles, whose love is unfailing, lord of the last and first of time, the render of rocks, the cause of causes, the elevator of the heavens, the originator of time, the veiled mystery, the knower of secret thoughts, the omnipotent sovereign, who was Abel and Seth, Joshua and Simon Peter. To this archetypal Deity we give glory, reverence, laudings, magnifyings, extollings and ascriptions of greatness. This is the adoration of our inmost souls, in simple confidence in Ali, the mysterious, the uncompounded, the indivisible, whom no number comprises, who is neither conditioned nor finite, to whom periods and ages bring no change; to whom, to the magnificence of the glory of whose awfulness, and the greatness of the splendour of the lightning of whose divinity, to whom all necks bow, and all obstacles and difficulties give way."
It seems almost incredible that Soleyman could have known by heart all these extraordinary disjointed writings which combine the ridiculous with the sublime, and the aesthetic and beautiful with the horrible and revolting-for some of the passages are too indecent for translation. Yet he wrote from memory and his quotations tally exactly with other reports of their secret teachings.
After remaining some months in Beirut, he returned to Latakia. In March, 1863, Rev. R. J. Dodds wrote to me:"Soleyman is setting the mountains on fire. He assails with his arguments every fellah who enters the schoolhouse, and is sending out letters in all directions. It is with difficulty that we restrain him from going out among the villages. He often attacks the fellahin whom he meets on the street, but we restrain him as much as possible from this open-air preaching. There is a screw loose in his head somewhere, but I think that he is doing much good."
As he could neither teach nor preach and knew no handicraft, the matter of his livelihood became a problem. At length he married the daughter of a Greek preist, and not long after returned to his drinking habits. Years after, he revisited Adana, his birthplace. The Nusairi sheikhs now used the greatest finesse in gaining his confidence in order to destroy him. The called upon him, complimented him as the sun of learning, the crown of wisdom, the beast and glory of their sect. They consulted him and landed him in Adana and all the villages of the plain. Then the leaders invited him to feasts, and sent gaily caparisoned horses to bear him from village to village, until he was completely off his guard and in their power. Then one day he was invited to a village feat. Mounted on a spirited horse and escorted by young men who sang and fired their guns as a token of honour and joy, he was just entering the village, on a path among the immense manure heaps which are allowed to accumulate around many of the Oriental villages, when suddenly he, was dragged from the horse and thrown into a deep grave, dug in a dunghill, and buried alive! Some days after, the body was exhumed, the tongue cut out and preserved in a jar of spirits. In May, 1888, when I was in Adana, a Syrian teacher told me the Nusairi villagers informed him that at their evening gatherings the sheikhs would place this ghastly and gruesome relic on the table, and pour upon it their weird imprecations, cursing it and him and consigning him to the torments of the damned!
1863 - My brother Samuel and his wife arrived January 24th, on the steamer Atlantic, in a rough sea, after lying off the coast for twenty-four hours through stress of weather, as shore boats could not venture out to the offing. When they anchored, the ship was Tolling fearfully, and I went out through the breakers, and after many perilous approaches to the ladder, got them all aboard the boat and safely to land and to my house. Our cup of joy seemed full. It is not often that a foreign missionary can welcome a beloved brother as a fellow labourer. I wrote to my father on his arrival, "I cannot express the joy and gratitude I feel this morning in welcoming dear Samuel and Annie to our Syrian home. We can only give praise and glory to God." He was stationed in Sidon, as Mr. Lyons' failing health required a return to the United States.
Said Pasha of Egypt died, aged forty-one years, and he was succeeded by Ismail Pasha (second son of the famous Ibrahim Pasha) who was in his thirty-first year. He was superior in many respects to Said. The Emir Abd el Kadir of Damascus, on his way to Mecca, was entertained by M. de Lesseps that fie might influence the new pasha in favour of the completion of the Suez Canal. Said, as one of his last acts, prepared to send 1,000 Sudanese black troops to aid the French in Mexico, but through the protest of the European consuls, the project was abandoned. Port Said received its name from him, as Ismailiyeh did from Ismail Pasha. The three murderers of Rev. Mr. Merriam of He made no resistance but said, "Oh, happy day! Oh, blessed hour! for the Lord has given me grace not to deny His name in the midst of severe temptation and in the face of death. I am not worthy to die for Christ. Thus they did to Stephen and thus they did to my Lord. I am not afraid to die." Just then an influential Protestant from Halbe rode up and persuaded the excited people to desist, and Weheby was set free. Many of his relatives have embraced the Gospel and one of them has become distinguished as a preacher and author.
On Sunday, February 15th , in the midst of the Arabic service, a deputation of thirty men from Rasheiyat el Wady entered the Beirut chapel. They were of the Jacobite Catholic Church. They had come to beg for a school and a teacher. Their priests had robbed them of a great part of the indemnity paid by the government, and they were so incensed against the priests that they resolved to abandon them and embrace a purer faith. They went away with Arabic Scriptures, and the missionaries of the Irish Presbyterian Mission in Damascus sent them a teacher. It was recorded as a remarkable fact at this time that the people had begun to buy the Arabic Scriptures. Heretofore they had refused to purchase, insisting on receiving them gratis. But since that time, excepting in rare instances, the Arabic Scriptures have been paid for by the people.
In March, the native missionary society held its anniversary and reported receipts of 10,000 piastres, or $400. Many of the members were poor widows and orphans, who gave cheerfully out of their deep poverty. The mission was greatly embarrassed by the flood of petitions for schools which poured in from every quarter. Mr. Bliss reported from America good progress in raising an endowment fund of $100,000 for the college.
On Easter, 1863, Daud Pasha held a reception for the notables of Lebanon and made them an address. In it he used the following illustration: "A doctor fell sick, and called in a fellow physician and said to him, 'We are three you, I, and the disease. If you will help me, we will conquer the disease. If you help the disease you will conquer me.' So we in Lebanon are three; you, the people, I, the ruler, and the traditional animosity of races in Lebanon. Help me and we shall conquer it. Help it, and you will ruin me and yourselves together." This was a pithy and just, way of stating the case. And nothing but popular education will do away with these racial hatreds. The Druse High School in Abeih, taught by Mr. Shidoody, a scholarly Protestant, and supported by the sacred "wukf " funds of the sect, will go far towards levelling down the feudal begs and sheikhs, and levelling up the Druse peasants. And the fact that the two sons of the late Said Beg Jumblatt, the wealthiest nobles in Lebanon, are being trained by Rev. S. Robson, an Irish Presbyterian missionary, at the expense of the British government, is a guarantee that the future of the Druses will be under a pacific regime.
The Sultan Abdul Aziz visited Egypt in April and conferred decorations on the head men of the Christian and Jewish communities. He was attended by Fuad Pasha and his brother's son. Notice had been sent that he would visit Beirut and the house of Moohyeh ed din Effendi Beilium was prepared to receive him, but changed his plans and failed to come. After the Sultan's departure, a young Mohammedan professor, a graduate of the Kosr el Ain Medical School in Cairo and in government employ, became convinced of the truth of Christianity and wrote an article for a French journal attacking the Koran and the religion of Islam. The article was reprinted in the French journal of Alexandria, and the young man was arrested, tried in haste, and condemned to banishment to the Sudan, which in those days meant that he would be taken up the river, tied up in a bag, and thrown in the Nile. The matter was brought before the foreign consuls and his release secured. The article may have been needlessly acrimonious, and all writers on Islam in the empire need great wisdom in treating so perilous a subject. England demands religious liberty in the empire. The Sultan agrees to it, but the local authorities do not admit that this means the right of a Moslem to apostatize. They say it means the right of every man to remain unmolested in his original sect, and yet they not only allow Christians and Jews to become Moslems without let or hindrance, but reward them with honours and office and freedom from military service. The Turks have learned intolerance largely from Russia, which insists that all Russia must conform to the Greek Church. So, they say, we demand that Islam shall be the favoured sect in the empire.
In April, I made a seventeen days' tour to Tripoli and Hums, finding open doors and loud calls for missionary instruction everywhere. The people were overjoyed at the expected arrival of Dr. Post for that field. One merchant in Hums had bought one hundred Testaments in Beirut and had them on sale in his shop. One hour south of Tripoli, at Kolamoon, I found splendid specimens of fossil Pectens and Echini of large size, which I put into my mule load for Beirut.
In May Dr. Van Dyck, having finished the translation of the Psalms, took a much-needed sea voyage on an English steamer to Liverpool and was gone two months. Dr. Riggs, of Constantinople, visited Beirut on his return from a health trip to Egypt, for the sake of his daughter. In those days there were no first-class hotels in Cairo, and in none of them a stove or a fireplace, and Dr. Riggs said that they had suffered more from cold than they would have done in New York, that it was a poor place for invalids.
June 12th - Rev. J. L. Lyons and family left for America. For six years he had struggled bravely with racking headaches and weak eyes and finally consented reluctantly to take a furlough. He went to his wife's home in South Berwick, Maine, where he lay helpless in bed for several years. The doctors could find no organic disease. The connection between will and muscle seemed severed. He could not raise his hand nor stand alone. At length his brother, Theodore, in Montrose, Pa., some four hundred miles distant, resolved to make a heroic effort to rally him. He went to South Berwick, arranged with Mrs. Lyons at evening to pack his brother's trunk and get his clothing ready for a journey. He did not see his brother till morning. In due time a carriage was at the door, the trunk put aboard, and Theodore went to his brother's room. "Lorenzo, what are you doing here? Get right up, we are going to Montrose."
He replied faintly, "I cannot. I cannot stand or walk." "No matter, get right up." Then he took him out of bed and stood him on his feet.
"Dress yourself at once, no time to, be lost, we must catch the train."
He obeyed. The dormant will was wakened. He dressed walked with his brother down the stone steps to the carriage and on they went to Boston and New York. Every hour he grew stronger, until he reached his mother's home, to the astonishment of the whole community. He recovered fully and laboured as agent of the American Bible Society in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee for many years, his home being in Jacksonville, Florida, where he lived until his death, March 14, 1888. He wrote me that he travelled over the mountains and often preached five times a week. We were boys together although he was eight years my senior. His daughter, Mary, returned to Syria in 1877 and taught in the Sidon Seminary three years when ill health obliged her to return to America.
June 25th - Rev. W. W. Eddy and family returned to Syria and were stationed in Sidon. This enabled the mission to transfer Rev. Samuel Jessup to Tripoli where he was joined by Rev. George E. Post, M. D., in November. In October, Rev. and Mrs. Philip Berry reached Syria, located in Sidon, and returned to America in exactly two years, owing to a breakdown in health.
July 9th - A Metawileh Moslem was hung in Sidon for the murder of an Austrian Jew near Tiberias, the first time, it is said, that a Moslem has been executed for killing a Jew. The Sultan, Abdul Aziz, contrary to precedent and prejudice' has had his photograph taken in Constantinople. The dervishes and fanatics will protest but they are impotent to prevent it.
News came of an earthquake in Rhodes destroying thirty villages, killing five hundred and maiming thousands. The seaport city was nearly destroyed. The shock was felt, slightly in Beirut.
The Okkals, or religious initiated class of the Druses, have tried to break up the new Druse high school in, Abeih on the ground of misappropriation of wukf "property, but as the school is named for Daud Pasha El Madriset ed Daudiyct," He will not allow it to be interfered with. A fire recently destroyed the ancient palace of the Sultan Selim in Constantinople, one of the finest structures in the empire. The grand vizier, Fuad Pasha, nearly lost his life in trying to rescue the fair inmates of the hareem. He made his escape through a window just before the roof fell in. The Pasha of Adana, in trying to arrest the second murderer of Mr. Coffing, attacked his village, when the Moslem villagers fired and killed several troops and the murderer escaped.
September 8th-The American bark Fredonia, Captain Birk, arrived in Beirut from Boston flying the British flag, through fear of rebel privateers.
At this time Mrs. Watson, an English lady, used the fund given her by the London committee in opening a boys' school in the house of Mr. Bistany of Beirut. She had thirty boys. Mr. Bistany took charge and the school soon developed into the "Wataniyet" which continued for several years with two hundred pupils, and was subsidized for a time by the college local committee to prepare boys for the college. Mr. Bistany was a man of remarkable ability and industry. He aided Dr. Eli Smith in the Bible translation, conducted the school, published an Arabic grammar, two large Arabic dictionaries, and nine volumes of an Arabic encyclopedia, besides editing a weekly paper, the Jenneh and a monthly magazine, the Jenan. He was an cider in the Beirut church for thirty years and taught a Bible class for twenty years, and was the most influential Protestant in Syria. He was also dragoman of the American consulate in Beirut for many years. He died in May, 1893, greatly lamented, aged sixty-four years.
One hundred and fifty of the exiled Druses returned to Lebanon, and some of them signalized their return by attacking two French Jesuit padres en route from Zahleh to Deir el Komr. They robbed and stripped them naked and cut off one ear from each of them. Daud Pasha at once arrested the culprits and they were condemned to long imprisonment.
Daud Pasha had a difficult role. He had not only to reckon with the animosities of the old feudal sheikhs and peasantry, but to circumvent the intrigues and secret schemes of the Philo-Russian Greeks, the Philo-French Maronites, the Philo-English Druses, and the Philo-Turk Moslems. Lebanon is easy to govern if left to itself, The great peril after the initial trial of the new order of government by Daud Pasha was not from Zahleh or Deir el Komr, but from Paris and St. Petersburg.
The Pasha of Damascus recently tried to enforce the military conscription among the Druses and Bedawin of Hauran. The result was the decimation of the troops sent to enforce it. Some one asked a veteran missionary how he thought missions would succeed among the Bedawin Arabs. He replied, "That would depend to a great extent upon how fast a horse he rode," meaning that the Bedawin live in the saddle and any one to reach and teach them must turn Bedawy and follow them into the desert.
"The Roving Englishman" has just roved through Syria en route for Bagdad and Bussorah to aid in the laying of the India telegraph. He is a character of some note and was known as "Percival the Detective" or, the "Secret Service Man." He has been in the East for years, disguised, now as a Bedawy sheikh, now as a black Moslem slave, and now wearing the uniform of a British officer, and mingling with all classes of society, speaking Arabic, English, or French, as suits the occasion, playing the "'hail fellow well met" with Moslem kavasses of the various consuls in the khans and coffee-houses, ferreting out the secrets of consular gossip, ascertaining how consuls are liked, and whether they are faithful and honest and pay their debts, and learning everything in general and particular about everybody and then writing it home to some mysterious persons in some mysterious way, having confidential access to the Palmerstonian or Lord Russellian ear.
He met me, called me by name, and said, "How are you?" I replied, "I beg your pardon, you have the advantage of me." "Yes," said he, "don't you remember once having a call from a black Moslem slave with white turban and flowing robes, and that he addressed you in English, and you complimented him on having acquired the language so thoroughly? I am the man. I am now a British officer and understand pretty well all that is going on in the empire." He was felt to be a dangerous man, a very chameleon, and especially feared by consuls, to whom it was not the most comforting reflection that "a chiel's amang ye taking notes, and faith he'll print them."
Two Syrian brethren of the Hums Church made an eight days' missionary tour among the pagan Nusairiyeh and the entire expense of the trip was two dollars. They walked and had a lame donkey to carry their books. That church has been noted for forty years since that time, for just such voluntary labours for their countrymen and the fruit is seen in the little churches growing up in all simplicity and faith throughout that region. They wanted a foreign missionary, but have always had native pastors with occasional visits from missionaries.
At the close of the year 1863, there were in the mission ten missionaries and nine native preachers, three chrurches, and one hundred and twenty-eight members. At the press, 6,869,000 pages were printed. There were twenty-four common schools with nine hundred and twenty-five pupils. In Abeih Seminary there were twenty-two pupils and four theological students. Within eight years, thirteen missionaries, male and female, have entered the Syrian field, and twenty-five have left it.
Rev. Geo. E. Post and Mrs. Post arrived November 28th, and proceeded immediately to Tripoli where they remained four years. He made remarkable progress in the Arabic language. In 1867 he visited America on account of health and was called to the professorship of surgery in the Syrian Protestant College. He has been distinguished as the greatest surgeon and botanist in the East, and as an Arabic preacher. He is the author of books on surgery, zoology, an Arabic concordance and Bible dictionary, and an English Flora of Syria and Palestine. "Nihil tetigret quad non ornavit."
It was at this time that I first made the acquaintance of Rev. H. D. Tristram (Canon of Durham Cathedral). He came to Palestine on a scientific tour, bringing with him a body of young men, a geologist, a botanist, an ornithologist, zoologist, photographer, and taxidermist. He was himself familiar with all these sciences And after about five months of work east of the Jordan and in Anti-Lebanon and Lebanon, came to Beirut. I was able to give him valuable specimens, and as he had discovered at the Dog River bluff on the floor of an ancient cavern a fine deposit of bone breccia, I undertook to excavate it. I did so, and shipped to him half a ton of fine specimens of breccia, bones, flint, and teeth, some of which I afterwards saw in the British Museum. The acquaintance then begun continued until his death in 1905.
Xenophon, in his account of the Retreat of the Ten Thousand, says that when in Colchis, within two days of Trebizond, a strange accident happened. The soldiers, finding an abundance of beehives and honey and eating the same, were seized with violent vomiting and fluxes attended with delirious fits. "The earth was strewn with their bodies as after a defeat; however none of them died and the distemper ceased the next day." Last week, a small sailing vessel reached Beirut from Asia Minor bringing a large quantity of honey in skin bottles. It was sold so cheaply that multitudes of people bought it and took it home. That night there was a running after doctors such as has not often been seen. All who ate the honey were seized with vomiting blood, and bloody discharges from the bowels. At first the cause was not known, but by daylight the next day it was traced to the honey, and the pasha seized and destroyed all the Cilician honey in the market. All who ate of it recovered, though greatly weak ened. The origin of the poison in the honey is the flowers of the poppy and wild oleander on which the bees feed. Why it does not poison the bees a question for the naturalists.
Aghil of the Ghor below Beisan, on whom Dr. Thomson and I called in February, 1857, visited Beirut at this time with a vast retinue of mounted Bedawin warriors, armed with spears and swords, muskets and pistols. He came to pay his respects to the pasha but had the air of a sultan. He is now at peace with the Turks and the Jordan valley is quiet.
On December 30, 1863, a meeting was held at the house of Dr. Van Dyck in Beirut, attended by Dr. Van Dyck and Messrs. Ford, H. H. Jessup and Hurter of the American Mission, Rev. S. Robson of Damascus, James Black, Esq., British merchant of Beirut, and J. A. Johnson, Esq., United States consul. The bylaws forwarded by Rev. D. Stuart Dodge for the Syrian Protestant College were discussed and approved. In our reply, we insisted on the evangelical character of the college and that every professor must be an evangelical Christian. The creed, or doctrinal basis of the Evangelical Alliance was adopted as the standard to which every professor should subscribe, and continued as such until the year 1902, when, although it continued as the basis of belief, no one was obliged thereafter to subscribe to it.
Towards the end of the year, several of the oldest and most prominent members of the Beirut church were in an unfortunate quarrel, not even speaking to one another. Argument and persuasion seemed of no avail. At length we appointed a day of lasting and prayer. A meeting was held which was very solemn. I then made personal visits to all parties concerned, and at nine o'clock at night, in a pouring rain, went with my lantern to the house of two of them to go with me to the third, the oldest of all, and after prayer there was a melting and a falling on each others' necks, and asking pardon, and our hearts were filled with praise and gratitude. It was a fitting close to the year and a preparation for new joys and trials; both of which soon followed.
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