OBSTACLES TO SUCCESS
1864-1866 - Conversions slow-Mrs. Jessup's death - A sorrowful furlough - Cholera epidemic - A new church building.
AT the opening of 1864, Dr. Thomson was in Egypt en route to Sinai, engaged in Biblical researches, accompanied by Dr. E. R. Beadle (of Hartford and Philadelphia and formerly a missionary in Syria), and Rev. Arthur Mitchell.
January 3d, six adults were received to the Beirut church, one of them a daughter of Shaheen Barakat, the elder of the church in Hasbeiya who was killed in the massacre while praying for his enemies. The Sunday-school and Bible classes were well attended and there were seven hundred and fifty children in Protestant schools in Beirut and about two thousand in all Syria, not including Palestine.
January 11th, I wrote to Rev. Dr. Joel Parker, who had just removed to Newark, N.J. In the letter I said, "I feel more and more that whatever else we may do as ministers of the everlasting Gospel, our work is vain, if we never hear the inquiry, 'What shall I do to be saved?' and although the missionary work in Syria is by no means a failure, yet I often long for a few weeks or months in some church at home where God is pouring out His Spirit in great power. Thus far in Syria, conversions have occurred in isolated cases, here and there an individual coming out on the Lord's side, but we have not yet seen a general revival enkindling all hearts and giving such a foretaste of heaven on earth as you have often witnessed during your long ministry, and such, I pray, you may often witness again. We have just received six persons in our church. Some of the cases were deeply interesting, evincing a deep spiritual experience such as is not often met with in this land. Dr. Van Dyck has proceeded with the Old Testament translation to Isaiah 30th, and 6,869,000 pages have been, printed during the year; 12,419 books were issued from the press, of which 6,142 were Testaments and parts of Scripture. A great impulse has been given to education. Mr. Bistany, a Protestant Syrian, has a boarding-school of 117 paying pupils. A few years since, the people could hardly be hired to send their children to school. Now they are willing to pay eighty dollars a year for their boys and forty for girls, in Protestant schools."
In my diary of this year I noted: "An intelligent French gentleman, who was present at the marriage of the Nile and the Red Sea at Suez, had just told us of that historical event, when the sweet waters of Nile were let loose on the briny waves at a point where fresh running water was never known before in the history of man. If M. de Lesseps has achieved no other success than supplying Suez with fresh water, he would be worthy of lasting honour." Up to that time all the fresh water used at Suez had been transported by rail from the Nile, a most difficult and expensive undertaking. The ceremony of joining the sweet and bitter waters in wedlock was one of not a little excitement. A crowd of invited guests, European gentlemen and ladies from Cairo and Alexandria, had assembled to witness the memorable event. The water was to be let through from the canal to the sea by the hands of fair ladies, and to trickle down in a gentle rivulet for the entertainment of the spectators, while eloquence and music were to commemorate the august event. But no sooner had the decorated spade removed the first little barrier of earth, than the crumbling sand of the embankment melted away and the turbid tide swept through with such violence, that the distinguished guests only escaped sharing the fate of Pharaoh's army by a general stampede. The reddish, muddy water of the Nile then flowed forth unchecked, staining the greenish water of the sea for several miles and giving it reason for once, if never before, for having the title of the "Red Sea."
On the 20th of January my son Henry Wynans was born; and with one daughter and two sons, my cup of joy seemed full. Months passed on.
On April 3d brother Samuel baptized little Harry at a Sunday evening meeting at our house, at which Drs. Thomson and Van Dyck were present, also Dr. Norman McLeod, Rev. Donald McLeod, Mr. Alexander Strahan, the publisher, and a large company of friends. These eminent men proposed to us the establishment of a Jewish mission and English chaplaincy in Beirut, under the auspices of the Church of Scotland, their missionary to occupy the pulpit of the American Church at 11 A. M. The first missionary was Rev. J. Robertson, D. D., afterwards Professor of Semitic languages in Glasgow University, who laboured for thirteen years until 1877. He opened schools for Jewish boys and girls, and preached most acceptably during this period. At first he confined his labours to Jewish children, but on our suspension of the day-school for boys, he opened his school to all sects, and this school has continued to this day. In 1880 Rev. George M. Mackie, D. D., took up the work and still continues the beloved pastor of the Anglo-American Congregation and active in every good work. He has instructed hundreds of Jewish children and has a hold upon their confidence and affection which shows the advantage of continuity in the missionary work. Dr. McLeod's remarks on Numbers 14: 21, "As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord," made a profound impression upon my mind. The divine voice of bright promise speaking out in that darkest hour of Israel's history gave me a new vision of the glory of Christ's kingdom. During those spring month's we had visits from many Christian tourists, among whom were Dr. Arthur Mitchell, Dr. Beadle and a second visit from Canon Tristam, also Dr. Geo. W. Wood and
Mr. Goss, a remarkably promising young missionary from Adana, who after only a few months was cut down by a malignant fever. My time was taken up with Arabic preaching, visiting, and the custom-house business of the mission. Messrs. Calhoun and Hurter left for England and America on May 31st. On the 13th of June I went to el Suk el Gharb and engaged a house for the summer. Mrs. Jessup was now attacked with a severe nervous affection which did not, yield to medical treatment, and on the 21st Dr. Van Dyck decided that a sea voyage was necessary for her recovery. Brother Samuel and his wife came on from Tripoli and aided in the needed preparations, and on the 30th, we sailed for Liverpool on the English merchant steamer Isis, taking only Anna and William, as Harry's nurse refused to go, and he was left an infant in the loving care of his Aunt Annie.
That night of embarkation was one of peril. The weather was intensely hot. The steamer had gone to Juneh Bay, twelve miles up the coast, to take on fifteen hundred sheep, and as it would not return to Beirut roadstead until ten o'clock P. M., Captain Horsefall agreed to signal with rockets on leaving Juneh. We saw the rockets and walked down half a mile to the landing, porters carrying the sick one on an iron travelling bedstead. In those days there were no carriages available. We reached the landing in pitch darkness, having one small lantern, brother Samuel and Dr. Thomson being with us. I was nearly exhausted from want of sleep and the great heat. We wound sheets over the bedstead, securing it to the boat, Dr. Thomson being with me; Samuel was in another boat with the two children. The steamer was far out and had not anchored. We went up alongside the stairs, and Samuel with the boatman carried the little ones up to the cabin, walking over the backs of a dense mass of sheep which covered the deck from stem to stern. The captain's boat lay alongside and he gave orders to transfer the bedstead to his boat and then it would be drawn up to the davits and we could easily lift it on the deck. We had Just removed it from the shore boat when the screw began to back water, and as we were close to the stern, the boiling, foaming waves around us rocking the boat, nearly threw us all into the awful roaring waters. We shouted ourselves hoarse in calling to the sailors on deck to haul away on the davit pulleys and just then they hauled on the ropes attached to the bow of the boat, and it began to rise until it was almost on end. Dr. Thomson and I grasped the sides of the boat and the bedstead, and it seemed as if we should all be pitched down into the water, when providentially, some one saw the mistake, and the other end was raised and we finally reached the deck. How the bed reached the saloon over the crouching, bleating mass of sheep I do not know. I fell back and fainted from sheer exhaustion. The sick one was placed in a hammock in the ladies' cabin, and soon the steamer started on its way. Seasickness, the horrible filth of the decks occasioned by the sheep, and a very rough head wind made the run to Alexandria most trying. In forty-four hours we reached the port of Alexandria, Friday evening. On Saturday, July 2d, Drs. McKay and Ogilvie came on board and declared the case of the patient very serious, and at 2 P. M. she fell asleep in Christ. The funeral service was conducted the next morning, Sunday, at 7 o'clock by Rev. Andrew Watson, of the American United Presbyterian Mission. The burial was in the English cemetery. Dr. Watson kindly invited us to his house. After full consideration, I decided to reembark on the Isis, with the two children, for Liverpool and Samuel returned, July 6th, to Beirut. I sailed on the 7th, and after eighteen days reached Liverpool July 25th, where I was welcomed by that dear brother, Mr. Hurter, who had preceded me.
While in Alexandria, I met the Maharajah Duleep Singh with his Christian wife. He was rejoicing in his honeymoon. The son of one of the richest princes of India, he was living in honourable exile in England on a princely stipend, and had long since embraced the Christian faith. He told me that he could not marry an Indian princess, as she would be a heathen, nor an English princess, as her tastes would be so different from his own, but he had found in the mission school in Cairo a maiden who was of mixed English and Abyssinian blood, a cultivated Christian girt, having both the. Eastern and Western characteristics. Out of gratitude for this wife of his choice, he for years sent an annual gift of 1,000 pounds to the American Mission in Egypt.
On July 27th I sailed from Liverpool with the two children and Mr. Hurter on the City of London for New York. The voyage was cold and rough. On the 3d of August we saw nine icebergs and the sea was full of floating ice. In the distress of seasickness and the chilling air, I kept my room the most of the way, and Mr. Hurter, in the kindness of his heart, cared for the two children. We reached New York August 8th.
The past months looked like a dream. The sudden breaking up of my home and the scattering of my children had come upon me as a fearful shock. What did the Lord mean by sending me home? I was not long in discerning His hand and His providential guidance. The Beirut School for Girls was as the apple of my eye. I felt that the future of Syria depended on the education of its girls and women. Our school had started, but it had no building and already had to turn away applicants for want of room. Yet the Board of Missions declined to erect a building and we saw no way to raise the needed funds. When it was decided that I go to America, the mission gave me a vote approving the raising in America of a sum of ten thousand dollars for a building. Could it be done? In September and October I visited New York and Philadelphia and laid the subject before a few friends of missions. The American Board gave me their sanction on condition that it should not interfere with their regular income. Mr. William A. Booth and Mr. William E. Dodge of New York were my advisers and they both subscribed liberally. Matthias W. Baldwin, John A. Brown, and Jay Cooke of Philadelphia did the same. I went from city to city and from one man to another until in the middle of November the greater part of the sum was raised, and I went back to my Syrian home with a thankful heart, leaving the dear daughter and son with loving friends, William with his grandparents and Anna with her Aunt Mary Chandler. Few children separated from parental care have been more wisely and tenderly trained than were these three little ones, and they have all proved to be faithful followers of their Lord and Master. During that visit of thirteen weeks the Lord used me in not only insuring the erection of the Beirut Girls' Boarding-School but in awakening wide interest in missions and in the support of the school. Early in October I attended the meeting of the American Board in Worcester and had to speak five times, Mr. A. Yanni, our zealous brother in Tripoli, Syria, had sent by me two boxes of cones of the cedars of Lebanon, sea-shells, and other Syrian curios, to be sold for the benefit of the wounded Union soldiers in the hospitals. A number of young men and women in the church in Worcester took charge of the sale, and handed me at its close one huundred and eighty dollars. My old college friend and my brother's classmate, E. P. Smith, was then active in the Christian Commission and for this sum bought seven hundred and twenty Testaments for the boys in blue. It was a very gratifying incident, and filled Mr. Yanni's heart with joy.
On the 26th of November I sailed on the City of London for Liverpool, reaching London December 8th, where I took lodgings in the same house with Dr. Bliss and family. He was engaged in raising funds for the Beirut College, the endowment of $100,000 having been already raised in America. While waiting in London to make connection with the Marseilles steamer, I visited Canon Tristram at Greatham, Stockton on Tees, and spent a week with his delightful family. He had a wonderful collection of shells, birds, and birds' nests. He was an authority on botany and ornithology and we had many tastes in common. he took me, to Hartlepool where we saw fast steamers being built to run the blockade to Charleston to bring out cotton. Dr. Tristram was like most Englishmen, in sympathy with the South, but before I left he admitted that he had modified his views. His ten children, all under thirteen years of age, were a delight to me and they showed me through the two almshouses, for twelve old fathers and twelve old mothers, "all over sixty years of age", describing the peculiar characteristics of each. Father William was pointed out as, "greedy " and always want the biggest piece of everything.
On Sunday Dr. Tristam drove me six miles to Norton where he preached a charity sermon for Rev. Clements. After service we went into the rectory and the sisters of Mr. Clements brought in a tray with- decanters and glasses with two kinds of wine. They were amazed at my declining wine, and said they had never before seen a person who drank only water. Returning to London, I had a brief visit with Dr. and Mrs. Bliss. Dr. Bliss had many opportunities to address public meetings in London. He once addressed the anniversary of the British and Foreign Bible Society in Exeter Hall. Lord Shaftesbury presided. A Church of England clergyman, with that spirit of fawning to the aristocracy which is so common in English public meetings, said, "Your Lordship, I congratulate the Bible Society in your Lordship's presence as chairman," etc., etc. Dr. Bliss followed and said, "Your Lordship, I do not congratulate the Bible Society in having your Lordship as chairman, but I do congratulate you on being allowed to preside at a meeting held to promote the distribution of the Word of God." At the close, Lord Shaftesbury took Dr. Bliss by the hand and said, "It was refreshing to hear from you such a sensible remark. I am sick of this constant flattery."
1865- I landed at Beirut January 11th. I was welcomed to the hospitable home of Dr. Van Dyck where I remained a month. I then set up housekeeping with my cook Assaf Haddad and his wife Margarita in the house of Amaturi near the Damascus Road. Assaf continued to be my cook ever since until Octobcr, 1908, and is a grandfather.
January 17th the annual meeting of the mission was held. Nine missionaries were present, among thew Rev. E. Ford. Rev. Mr. Williams of Mardin had requested us to send Mr. and Mrs. Ford to reinforce that station, but in view of needs of the mission and the health of Mrs, Ford, it was decided that Mr. Ford and family visit the United States, and they sailed June 30th with Miss Mason, whose school in Sidon had given such excellent satisfaction.
The translation and printing of the Old Testament having been completed March 10th, it was voted that Van Dyck be authorized to go to New York and superintend the electrotyping of the Arabic Scriptures. The celebration on March 10th is noticed in the chapter on Bible Translation. On March 12th we had a public service in commemoration of the completion of the translation of the Bible, and addresses were made by Rev. J. Robertson, Mr. B. Bistany, and Rev. D. Stuart Dodge. Dr. Van Dyck and family sailed June 3d, and be remained in New York until October 20, 1867, when he returned, having accomplished successfully his great work. He brought with him Mr. Samuel Hallock, electrotyper, who was a son of Mr. Homan Hallock, the ingenious American who made the first punches and matrices for the Beirut font of Arabic type. In June, 1865, we broke ground for the new girls' school building in Beirut, the new edifice including the old press building, so long known as "Burj Bird."
In July cholera appeared in Egypt and there were five hundred deaths a day in Cairo. It was brought to Beirut by the refugees and the city fell into a frightful panic. Not less than twenty thousand people left the city in a week. I saw them surging by my house, the "Im Beshara" house on Assur, old and young, mounted and walking, faces pale with fright, and all this before there had been a single case in Beirut; but after a few days the disease broke out. I removed to this house June 2d and had Mr. Calhoun as my first guest. In March we had a visit from Rev. Frank F. Ellinwood and Mr. Alling, of Rochester, and on the 20th I went to Damascus with them and Rev. D. Stuart Dodge. Four days later, at 4 A. M., Mr. Dodge and I walked the whole length of Damascus from Mr. Crawford's house to the Diligence Station, fighting our way against almost innumerable colonies of dogs. Mr. Dodge and the servant carried the baggage and the lantern, and I was armed with stones with which I kept at bay the ferocious barking "curs of low degree" as we went through the little doors in the numerous gates which divided one quarter of the city from another.
The old chapel in the "Burj Bird" in Beirut was at this time enlarged, owing to the growing congregation.
Early in April, Sir Henry Bulwer, H. B.- M. Ambassador to Constantinople visited Beirut. It was understood that he was on his way to Egypt to interfere in some way with the completion of Suez Canal, or at least to prevent its becoming a French affair. Several months before, two Moslems in Damascus who had professed Christianity had been imprisoned in the Great Mosque, and another was imprisoned in Beirut in February with chains about his neck. The case was laid before. the British consuls in Damascus and Beirut and they said they could do nothing as they would not be supported by the British embassy in Constantinople.
On February 13th I wrote a private letter to Dr. Daniel Bliss in London as follows: "Two Mohammedans have become Christians in Damascus and one of them has been brought to Beirut in chains, and is now confined in the barracks here, exposed to insult and suffering. Chains are on his neck and he will probably be speedily put out of the way. We shall do what we can, but the Turks have all read in the Arabic newspapers an account of the conduct of Sir Henry Bulwer in Constantinople, and they care absolutely nothing for European protest against such barbarous persecution. We can pray for this poor persecuted man but no one is allowed to see him. It reminds one of the old days of pagan Rome in her persecuting hatred of the Christians. These cases of converted Moslems are multiplying in every part of the East. There are forty in one part of the empire inquiring in earnest and I trust that their place will be kept secret, for there is nothing so fatal to inquiry in this part of the world, as to have the names of the secret inquirers published. The case of the man now in bonds in Beirut is so public that I do not add to his danger by speaking of him. If we can do nothing for him, we can at least call public attention to this new and glaring violation of the principles of religious liberty. Will the time not come, when the voice of Protestant England will again be regarded in the East?"
Dr. Bliss was then in daily communication with the secretary of the Turkish Mission's Aid Society, Rev. H. Jones, and with Dr. Schmettau and the leading men of the Evangelical Alliance.
He naturally informed them of this letter. Mr. Jones asked the loan of it, and without consulting Dr. Bliss, sent a copy of it to Earl Russell, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Earl Russell at once sent a copy of it with a letter to Sir Henry Bulwer and the mail reached him on his arrival in Beirut. He was, to speak mildly, furious. The next day he called on the American consul, J. A. Johnson, and at once began to use violent language. "Who is this American named Jessup? I demand that he be expelled from Syria." He then used expletives about the American missionaries generally and myself in particular which could hardly be repeated in polite society. The consul replied that American citizens were not easily explelled from Syria and added, "Sir, I demand an apology for this insulting language in my house." He then turned and left Sir Henry alone in the room.
The next day, Sir Henry having had time for reflection and probably having made some inquiries as to the facts of the case, returned and humbly begged Mr. Johnson's pardon for his language on his previous visit. My letter having been a private letter, and made public without Dr. Bliss's knowledge, I did not feel responsible for the wounding of Sir Henry's sensibilities. But it was the testimony of all Englishmen in Syria and Constantinople with whom I came in contact, that Christian England was grossly misrepresented in the character of Her Majesty's ambassador at that time. His visit to Egypt did not stop the digging of the Suez Canal, and the Prince of Wales was glad to attend its historical opening in October, 1868, and later on Disraeli made a master stroke in securing for England a controlling interest in this magnificent work.
The months of April and May were full of exciting events. We heard of Lees surrender, the end of the war, and the assassination of President Lincoln.
Dr. Thomson returned from his journey to Egypt, Sinai, and Palestine with a rich treasure of photographs. On this trip he discovered the site of Ai near Bethel.
The Church of Hums, which had written us an insulting letter because we would not send them an American missionary to be their pastor, now wrote a letter full of regret and penitence at their language, begging us to, ordain over them a native pastor, and on the 28th of May, Rev. Mr. Calhoun and Dr. George E. Post ordained and installed Rev. Sulleeba Jerawan as their pastor' Previous to this, Dr. and Mrs. Post had buried their first-born son, Arthur, aged six months, who died during his father's absence in Beirut.
In May, 1865, the demand for the Arabic Scriptures was so great that it became absolutely necessary to hasten the electrotyping of the Arabic Bible. Before Dr. Van Dyck sailed, he made an estimate of the working capacity of the press in Beirut, and of the probable time required to supply every person of the one hundred and twenty millions of the Arabic-speaking race with a copy of the Scriptures. The sixteen workmen in the Beirut Press can print an edition of 10,000 Bibles in six months or 20,000 a year. At that rate it would require 6,000 years to supply the Arab race with the Bible. Giving one to every family of five persons, it would require 1,200 years. With the electrotype plates, the Bible Society in New York may be able to print in a year two hundred thousand Bibles and even then would not be able to supply the Arab race in less than six hundred years. Surely there is room for all the presses of all the Bible societies in this great field.
The departure of four missionaries this year threw heavy burdens upon those remaining. Dr. Van Dyck sailed June 3d, with his family, to electrotype the Arabic Bible in New York. On June 30th, Mr. J. Ford and family left by medical advice. In October, Mr. and Mrs. Berry were ordered to leave on account of feeble health, and on December 16th, Dr. W. M. Thomson left for England. I was thus left alone in Beirut, and was called upon to do extra work. Preaching twice on Sunday, with Sunday school, Bible classes, the care of the press, proof-reading and editing, a large correspondence, the custom-house and post-office work, pastoral visitation, and the planning and erection of the female seminary edifice and new building for the press, I had few idle hours. But my health was perfect, and nothing is better for a healthy man than hard work.
The outbreak of cholera in July and the stampede of 20,000 people to the mountains broke up our congregation, the press work, and die building, as the workmen had all left the city. It was a time of great solemnity. The sight of such a city as this almost deserted through a mere panic, when no case of cholera had occurred, impressed one with the mighty power of God. The press men deserted in a body and went off to Lebanon. The new building was left without a workman. Leaving our faithful deacon, Elias Fuwaz, in charge, July 12th, I made a visit to my brother Samuel and Dr. Geo. E. Post in Duma and six hours further to the Cedars of Lebanon. My companion was Mr. Pye-Smith of Alexandria, a nephew of Dr. Pye-Smith, the English geologist. On our return south through the upper range of Lebanon, we found ourselves blocked by quarantines at every village and had to prove that we had been away from Beirut at least ten days. On reaching Abeih, July 28th, I found that all communication with Beirut was cut off by a quarantine, in the open field, of fifteen days. Letters brought up by muleteers were fumigated in the field in the quarantine tent. The loads were dumped on the ground and left to sun for a day or two and then brought into the village.
August 1st came a telegram from Tripoli of a murderous attack on Dr. Post and Mr. Samuel Jessup in Duma, by a drunken Maronite named Nasif Bu Kemal of Bekfeia. One man snapped a gun at Dr. Post's head which missed him. Another struck him on the shoulder with a huge club, but it only inflicted a slight bruise. I wrote at once to Bhamdoun to consult the American consul, and he telegraphed to the acting governor of Lebanon, and to Mr. Yanni in Tripoli. Daud Pasha, governor of Lebanon, had gone to Constantinople to get troops to suppress the rebellion of Yusef Keram of Ehden, near the Cedars. The whole mountain was in disorder and roads unsafe, as Yusef Keram's peasant soldiers and the horsemen of Silman Harfoosh, a Metawileh outlaw, were plundering at their will. In view of the complication which might arise, were two American families left in that disturbed region, Mr. Bird and I were instructed by the mission to go to Duma with mules, and bring the two missionaries to Abeih. On our arrival we found that Yusef Keram, the Ehden rebel, and being fatalists, will not flee nor take medicines. But the New School Moslems believe in running away, and they hired a learned sheikh to preach in the mosque on the doctrine of fate as affected by cholera. He said the doctrine was no doubt applicable and well enough in the days of the prophet, and did apply to the plague. But as there was no cholera in his days, it was not a violation of the Koran to flee from cholera. The result of this "fetwa" or legal decision was a great exodus of Moslems from Beirut to Lebanon. This cholera visitation swept Off 46,000 in ten days in Mecca and 1,000 a day for some days in Cairo and moved northward. Not less than 3,000 died in Beirut, chiefly Mohammedans. Whole families were swept away. All business ceased. The labouring classes were on the verge of starvation. In Damascus the ravages of the pestilence were frightful. At the same time locusts appeared in Syria and devastated whole districts, adding to the dismay of the afflicted people. The cattle murrain also ravaged Egypt, Palestine, and 'Syria, in some places destroying all the cattle. There has hardly been a year since I came to Syria when some one or more of these plagues have not visited the land.
In Safita, Northern Syria, a cruel and barbarous persecution was carried on against the Protestants by Beit Bashoor and the Greek priests and bishops. The people were turned out-of-doors, their houses plundered, their grain burned on the threshing-floors, their women and girls turned over to Turkish soldiers, and women with children beaten with clubs, until the whole little community were driven into the wilderness. They appealed to Rashid Pasha, the new Waly of Syria, in Damascus, and he arrested the chief persecutors.
Truly that summer of 1865 was one of trial, affliction and sorrow, and out of the depths we cried unto the Lord. But there was one relief. Sir Henry Bulwer resigned and left Constantinople to the. great joy of all British subjects in Syria, and was succeeded by Lord Lyons.
Among my correspondents was Rev. W. F. Williams of Mardin and Mosul. He agonized over the Arabic gutturals, and once, in a letter, asked me, "Do you really think that a man who speaks easily these awful guttural sounds can enter the kingdom of God?" At another time, speaking of the desperate poverty of some of the villagers, he said, "The children are so wretchedly ragged that there is not cloth enough in their garments to make borders for the holes." During this summer, in spite of cholera, I sent off supplies through our Beirut agent to the missionaries in Northern Syria and Asia Minor.
Early in October the cholera ceased, and the refugee population, came back to Beirut. Many found that their houses had be robbed during the months of cholera, and the business losses had been immense. But they had saved their lives and that was enough to make up for all money loss. Then the Abu Rikabe or dengue fever broke out and hardly a man, woman, or child escaped, though it was not fatal.
The press workmen returned, and the stone masons and carpenters resumed work on the girls' school edifice, but in a few days they too were down with the fever, which lasted a few hours, but left the body exhausted and enfeebled for weeks. Then came, on October 16th, a burning sirocco cast wind with stagnant stifling heat by day and night. And how we longed for rain, the "early rains" I May, June, July, August, and September had passed without a drop of rain, and the ground, as usual at this season, was parched, the grass dry, and the leaves of the trees white with dust. The siroccos generally come in April and May, but this year the fierce east wind seemed to roll waves and billows of furnace-like hot air down over Lebanon into the sea, for at such a time it is as hot on Mount Lebanon (Sunneen 8,600 feet above the sea level), as it is on the I plain.
About November, 1st Daud Pasha returned from Constantinople with plenary authority to suppress Yusef Keram's rebellion. After various engagements in which Keram's motley army of peasants, priests, and monks were defeated by the pasha's troops, he surrendered in March, 1866, at the request of the French consul-general, and went into exile. Yusef Keram was a devout Maronite, fond of the clergy, but fatally ambitious, and his fall was a blessing to distracted Lebanon.
After the first battle between Keram's and the pasha's troops, a stalwart Maronite peasant came to my house. He was a tall robust fellow bristling with arms, a gun, pistols, and sword. He said at once, "Beddi akloob Angliz " (I want to turn Protestant).
Why said I. "Oh, because yours is the only true religion, and I love you very much." I said, "Do you know what we believe?" "No," said he, "but I can learn." "Well, supposing we worship the devil?" "All right," said he, "whatever you worship I'll worship." "Nonsense," said I, "what is the use of your talking about religion? What did you come here for? Tell me the whole case." "Ah," said he, "I'll tell you. I belong to Yusef Beg Keram's army and was captured by the pasha and have escaped, and if he catches me a second time he will shoot me, so I want to turn Angliz and get the protection of your flag." I gave the poor fellow some instruction in gospel truth, and then said, "Yusef Beg has surrendered, and the pasha has granted an amnesty to all his army." "Thank you," said he, "then I'll go; good-day, sir," and bolted out of the house.
In December the learned Mohammedan of Beirut, Abd el Kadir el Khalily, came to visit me again, night after night, like Nicodemus' and seemed deeply interested in the Gospel of Christ. He has narrowly escaped death for his course and been in prison and bonds, but still continues to inquire. One, of our schoolgirls was taken from school to be married, being twelve years old. A Another one, aged ten, was married, and when she came to visit her teachers brought her dolls with her. A young Copt from Abyssinia named Selim called on me and wished to learn about Christianity. He said he had been brought up as a slave by a Moslem who taught him nothing; then he was taken by Armenian monks in Jerusalem who did not teach him, "and now I am eighteen years old and have no religion. Can you tell me what to do? I cry every night when I go to sleep because I have no religion and do not know how to pray and am afraid of God. Do you think God would send me to hell if I should die without knowing how to pray?" I told him of Christ the Saviour and explained the way of salvation by faith, read to him from the New Testament, and showed him how to pray. The tears came to his eyes and he thanked me, and often came to get instruction and seemed to have found peace in believing.
The year of 1865 was one of bitter persecution in Safita, where the little flock was sifted like wheat, crops burned, cattle stolen, houses attacked, women insulted, and all by a feudal family of Orthodox Greeks who had enough influence with Turkish local officials to commit every outrage without fear of punishment. Years after three boys from Safita were in the Syrian, Protestant College, one from among those persecuted, and two were the sons of the chief persecutors. They were staunch friends and the poor boy placed his bed between theirs.
The number of Scriptures issued from the press in 1865 was 4,333, of which 2,120 were sent to Egypt. Not the least of my personal burdens during 1865, when my colleagues were absent, was the voluminous correspondence required to carry on the girls' boarding-school in Beirut and complete its building. I wrote not less than five hundred pages of letters to pastors and Sunday-school superintendents, and raised about thirty annual scholarships of eighty dollars each to support charity pupils. Nothing was received from the American Board, and we had to carry the load as individuals. As I look over those letters in my copy-book now I am amazed at the amount of work laid out and the eyesight expended.
To my great relief Mr. Henry E. Thomson took charge of the business department of the mission and the press. But I was not able for many years after this to shake off the custom-house business of the mission, and I have spent many precious hours and suffered from many bruises in my body and rents in my garments, from climbing over boxes, barrels, and bales in the custom-house amid the yelling, crowding and cursing of a score of rough porters and the jostling of merchants and traders protesting against the ruthless smashing of their goods. These porters designedly tear open sacks of rice and sugar and boxes of valuables in order to steal the contents in the confusion. A Turkish custom-house is the best earthly type of pandemonium.
The last of September, 1865, we received a copy of the Sultan's order giving, us the same privileges as the French, in allowing all missionary goods to enter the custom-houses free of duty. We never asked this privilege, but as it was given now to all clergy, rabbis, moolahs, priests, nuns, monks, teachers, and doctors of the hospitals native and foreign, we accepted the offer. But some years after, when the Turks found that some of the foreign monks and nuns were importing European goods and handing them over to native merchants for sale, then the rule was modified and gradually greater and greater restrictions have been put on the missionaries, and we had (in 1907) the anomalous condition that while the American Missions in Constantinople and Smyrna had no duty to pay on imported goods, we in Syria were subject to full duty on all importations. But through our ambassador, Mr. Leishmann, the custom-house immunities have been partially restored to us (in 1908) thus placing us on the same footing as other foreigners in the empire.
1866 - In January of this year the Syria Mission, having decided to build a church edifice in Beirut which should at the same time be a home for the Syrian Evangelical Church, and also for the Anglo-American Congregation, began to raise the needed funds at home and abroad. After forty years of conducting the English preaching service at Beirut the mission had invited Rev. James Robertson, missionary of the Jewish Committee of the Church of Scotland, to assume this service, and this committee, with a desire to make the work permanent, agreed to give 6450 sterling, on condition that they have control of the pulpit at 11 o'clock A. M. every Sunday. After ten years, if either party terminated the agreement by giving one year's notice, then 4300 must be refunded to the Scotch Committee. Dr. Robertson afterwards accepted a professorship in the divinity school of Glasgow University, and was succeeded by Rev. George M. Mackie in 1880, who has continued to the present time.
During this month I again engaged a Maronite from Kesrawan to blast the bed of bone breccia discovered in 1864 by Canon H. B. Tristram on the Dog River promontory. After the rock had been thoroughly broken up, I went out and selected several camel loads and shipped two boxes to Canon Tristram, to the British Museum, and five blocks also to the cabinet I was collecting for the college.
I also sent specimens to my old professor, James D. Dana of Yale College, and said in a letter to him, "You will find in the masses sent sharp elongated chips or fragments of flint, some of which are not unlike the American Indian arrow-heads. I also send a package of these flints broken out of the rock. From the small fragments of bones and teeth sent to Dr. Tristram last year, scientific men in England have inferred that they belonged to a species of gigantic bison. I should be interested to know the opinion of yourself and Professor Silliman. The central deposit is sixty feet in length, thirty feet in width, and ten feet in thickness. The fossil geology of the Lebanon range has hardly begun to be explored. Dr. Anderson's report in Lynch's, 'Dead Sea' was necessarily meagre. It does not touch the fossil fish or the fine pectens and echinoderms of the Northern Lebanon. In every missionary journey we continually stumble upon new specimens, and the collection which I am now making for the Syrian Protestant College will contain numerous interesting fossils which have never been described. The rock surrounding the bone breccia is a compact tertiary limestone containing fossil corals and sponges."
In March, 1869, 1 received from General Cesnola, American consul in Cyprus, a box of minerals, supposed to be cupreous ores, which I sent to Professor Dana of Yale College for analysis. As the ancient supplies of copper came chiefly from Cyprus there must be extensive deposits of the ore in that classic island.
During that winter the mission kindly brought brother Samuel and his wife from Tripoli to Beirut. Samuel had been trained to bookkeeping when a merchant, and he soon reduced my press and mission accounts to order. Being the only trained business man in the mission up to that time, his business knowledge was invaluable and has been so for the forty-six years of his missionary life. He and his wife had charge of my youngest child Harry, and this visit gave the little boy, two years and a half old, his first opportunity to get acquainted with his father.
The ex-Jesuit William Gifford Palgrave was in Beirut January 10th. His moral and religious history is a curious study in ethics. Before his journey through Arabia he was a zealous Jesuit missionary, disputing with the Syrian Protestants and was known as, "Kus Mikhaiel" ["Kus" meaning "reverend"]. I After his journey and when he no longer needed French Catholic aid, and when he did need the good-will of his kindred in England in order to get his share of the inheritance, he went to Berlin, openly renounced the Pope and papacy, and became a good Protestant again. He was a moral chameleon.
The death of Sarah Bistany in January made a deep religious impression on all the young people in the schools and the church.
During this year we began to raise funds for building a new church in Beirut. It was the policy of the American Board to leave the erection of new buildings to the natives, but in view of the fact that this building was to be used not only for the Arabic but also for the Anglo-American Congregation in which scores of tourists worship every year, they consented to give the land and one thousand dollars towards the building. This edifice was completed, the tower finished and the bell and clock set up, early in 1870, as will appear later in this volume.
This month of January, 1866, was full of financial anxiety. I was engaged in building the girls' school edifice and had finished the lower story, when the funds began to give out and I wrote to the New York friends a new appeal. As we were very properly obliged to, accompany our appeal with a request that the donations should not interfere with the regular gifts to the Board, we made slow progress. For economy's sake I had postponed building the lateral partition walls on the upper story, but a hurricane on March 1st, which blew off the upper tier of, stones, compelled us, funds or no funds, to strengthen the walls and build the partitions. God in His providence interposed, and funds were given to finish the building; Mrs. M. B. Young, of Fall River, gave $800 to dig a rain-water cistern to hold 10,000 jars of water which has been an untold blessing to the school. At that time we had no water-works in Beirut. All water for drinking and washing came from wells and was expensive. This cistern saved the school $200 a year. Carlyle once proposed that instead of a monument to a man they sink a coal shaft to him. Mrs. Young's cistern has been a noble monument to her liberality.
The sheikh of the village of Mahardee, northeast of Hamath, came to Hums to get a Bible. Not having the ready cash he gave his sword for a Bible. My brother Samuel secured the sword and it was sent on to New York and hung in the room of the American Bible Society where it remains. That Bible wrought wonders. An evangelical church was established, schools opened, and it is (in 1908) one of the brightest spots in Syria. No better exchange could a man make than to give a sword of steel for the Sword of the Spirit.
February 13th - A touching incident occurred in the girls' school. One of the little girls, aged seven, came to her teacher and said, "I am Jesus' girl now. Last night I gave my heart to Jesus and He took it." Truly out of the mouths of babes has the Lord perfected praise.
Dr. Post and family moved from Tripoli to Abeih this week, to aid Mr. Calhoun in the seminary. They brought word that Mr. Samuel Mitchell, brother of our dear friend Dr. Arthur Mitchell, will join our mission this fall. He was in my Sunday school class in the Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1854-55. As I had agreed, in taking possession of the old mission house (the Burj Bird) for the girls' school and thus turning the press out-of-doors, to erect a new press building above the cemetery, I did so, and thus expended 34,000 piastres (about $1,200 of the seminary building fund, but we gained the old building which we could not have erected for twice that money.
2 On the 2d of March we welcomed back from America and England Rev. Dr. Daniel Bliss, Mrs. Bliss and four children. They occupied the Kamad house in the eastern part of the city and summered in Aitath, Mount Lebanon. Dr. Bliss began at once his teaching work in the houses leased from Mr. B. Bistany. A selected class of boys was put in training for the first college class. During his eighteen months' stay in England he had secured about twenty thousand dollars for current expenses of the college and made many friends for the institution.
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