A CHOLERA YEAR
The Tripoli school - Close brethrenism - Government hostility - Dr. Ellinwood's visit - The Dog River - Dr. Danforth's death - The scourge of cholera 1873-1875.
FRIDAY, January 31, 1873, Mr. Calhoun and I went in a little Russian steamer to Tripoli to hold communion, receive members and negotiate for premises for the girls' boarding-school. We received Mr. Yakub Surruf (now Dr. Surruf), a college graduate and for twenty-five years editor of the Muktutaf Scientific Magazine in Cairo. "Only one received?" some would say. Yet that one has become one of the most influential men in Modern Egypt. In that little congregation was Nofel Effendi, the well-known Arabic author and M. Elias Saadeh, who was converted in Beirut in 1886.
Mr. Antonius Yanni, our brother beloved for seventeen years, offered us his spacious house for ten years for 6,000 piastres or $240 a year with eight rooms above for the girls' school and four spacious stone vaulted rooms below for chapel and boys' school. It was a cheap bargain and an admirable home for the school. The Board in New York finally modified the lease to five years' the owner to make needed repairs. It was subsequently purchased and enlarged and is one of the most complete educational establishments in the land. It has set the pace for schools of other sects and kept the lead in the education of girls in Northern Syria.
I shall never forget our return voyage on the Messageries French steamer. Mr. Calhoun and I walked the long deck with a calm sea all the way for four hours to Beirut. It was a delight to hold converse with such a man, who, for thirty-three years, had been studying the Bible and teaching it to the youth of Syria. He was dignified and grave in appearance but had the heart of a child and enjoyed humour with great zest. In the higher realm of theological thought he had few peers. As Professor Park of Andover remarked, "He knows more about theology than any of us."
In February, 1873, Mr. Chas. Crocker of Sacramento, builder of the Pacific Railroad, visited Beirut and dined at President Daniel Bliss's. I was present. Mr. Crocker gave $100 for the new college building, and on hearing of a Nubian slave girl who had taken refuge in Dr. Eddy's house in Sidon and whose late owner demanded $25 for her, took out his purse and gave six Napoleons. He had been a strong anti-slavery man and this case appealed to him. The girl was set free.
On the 11th, Franco Pasha died and was buried in great state at the Hazimiyeh on the Damascus Road four miles from Beirut. His chief monument is the row of "Pride of India" trees on both sides of the Damascus Road and on some of the mountain roads. He was a plain man and well meaning, but too easily influenced by political hacks and a fanatical priesthood.
At this time I was putting through the press Mosheirn's Church History, a Sunday-school Question Book, and an illustrated book for children, with nine religious services every week and an extended correspondence in Arabic and English.
In January, 1874, Mr. P------, once connected with the United Presbyterian Mission in Egypt, came to Syria to propagate close Brethrenism. He was a man of morbid disposition, at times seeming to be mentally disordered but had a gift of prayer and pious language which fascinated not a few. Several discharged mission and college employees and some who were restless under the demand of the native churches for liberal gifts towards selfsupport joined him. He denounced a paid ministry and all church organization and taught perfectionism in its baldest phase. "No Christian can sin. It is the old man who sins. We are the new man. If the old man inside gets rampant and lies and steals I am not responsible." His illustration was that the entering of the new man into the old one was like thrusting a single cartridge into a double-barrelled gun. The new man cannot sin. If the other barrel goes off and somebody is hurt, it is the old man's work. He travelled about and made a few converts here and there. In Hums one of his disciples robbed the shop of another. When called to account he replied triumphantly, "It was the 'insan el ateuk' (the old man) who did it."
In Germany one of this type of believers committed a crime and was brought before the judge. He put in the plea, "The old man did it; I did not." "Very well then," said the judge," send that old man to jail for six months."
This peculiar sect has had many godly adherents in England but its tendency in this land has been Ishmaelitic and disintegrating. Each brother is bound to sit in judgment on every other and to commune with no one who is not perfect. The logical result soon followed.
At first they all met and each in turn administered the communion. None but brethren were admitted. Soon they split into sections neither of which would commune with the other and finally each formed an exclusive sect by himself. The result has been demoralizing, and has blasted the spiritual life of many, stopped all charitable and religious contributions among them, and stifled all evangelistic work. Mr. P------- said he was called to preach to the elect and to pull them out of the other sects. He seemed to have lost all hope and never laboured for the unconverted. The great aim seemed to be to break up the little evangelical church in Syria. Thirty-six years have passed and only the scarred and tattered remnants of his work remain. When he died, his widow, a strict follower of the "Brethren" views, sent for me to conduct his funeral, and I have conducted the funeral of all the members who have died in Beirut. One of the last was this same widow Sada, in her early days a gifted, sprightly and beautiful Christian teacher, but in her widowhood lapsed into melancholy. The son asked me to -conduct her funeral service, which I did, assured that with all the strange vagaries of her later life, she was at heart a true child of Christ, who trusted in Him alone for salvation.
The Tripoli Girls' School which commenced with three pupils has now over forty. The New Year's festival of the school was noticed commendably by the Arabic journal of Beirut.
The Jesuits have lately been proved guilty of abducting two Greek girls from Beirut, one of whom they sent to Zahleh and the other to Sidon to their convents. Both of the girls were rescued and restored to their parents, after the French monks and nuns had tried to conceal their whereabouts by an amount of hedging that would shame a Nusairi.
The American Press in Beirut, established in Malta in 1822 and removed to Beirut in 1834' has always confirmed strictly to the laws of the empire. The code of laws of public instruction was issued in the Turkish language in 1869, but not translated for years afterwards. The pashas themselves were ignorant of its provisions. All knew that it was unlawful to print anything attacking the Sultan or his government or prejudicial to good morals.
In March, 1874, Dr. Van Dyck printed a little tract for Louis Sabanjy a papal Syriac priest, replying to attack upon another priest, Yusef Daud, printed without objection from the government and written by the Maronite bishop of Beirut. Priest Y. Daud had established the well-known fact in church history that the Maronites were a heretical Monothelite sect holding that Christ had only one will, a divine will. Sabanjy's tract defended Daud's position and contained nothing against the government or good morals. The Maronites complained and Ibrahim Pasha sent and or red Dr. Van Dyck to shut the press for a month and ink of ten Turkish pounds. Dr. Van Dyck referred him to Mr. Consul Hay and protested against the pasha's adjudging the case without a trial. The protest was forwarded to Constantinople and not heard of again. A few days later the deputy chief of police sent a piece of job work to our press and it was printed for the government. A Maronite banker more zealous than discreet offered our mechanical manager two hundred pounds as a' bribe if he would shut up the press for a month, to save the dignity of the Maronite bishop.
Since that day the government has given the press a regular official permit, and as the new laws are perfectly understood we have comparatively little trouble. The chief difficulty is with the censors of the press. No one objects to a censorship, in a land where men of all sects are ready to fly at each other's throats and to vituperate others in language surpassing an Arkansas backwoods editor. But the trouble is with the censor himself. Every foreign book coming into the empire through the custom-house is detained by the censor for examination. If the book contains anything about Mohammed or the, Sultan or Turkey or Syria or Arabia or Mecca it will be either mutilated or confiscated. Encyclopedias as such are prohibited as they are supposed to contain articles on these subjects. As a result all encyclopedias coming to Turkey have these articles cut out before shipment from America.
Even Murray's and Baedeker's guide-books are often seized and confiscated by overzealous inspectors. Of every Arabic book prepared in manuscript for publication we must send two manuscript copies to Constantinople for examination. There it may be detained six months or a year' and then it comes back so mutilated in many cases as to be unfit for publication. And the printed copy must be sent to Constantinople for comparison again before it is offered for sale. Sometimes the censors are grossly ignorant and make endless trouble. Alas for the daily papers which must send a proof of every day's edition to the censor who may at the eleventh hour strike out several columns and oblige the editor to substitute other matter and refer it again to the censor. On this account the editors keep in type quantities of padding, such as poems and European gossip, etc., which they substitute for the victimized and proscribed matter.
Prof. John Orne of Harvard published an account of the American Press in 1894 in the Bibliotheca Sacra. His estimate of its importance is of great value, and ought to be read by all interested in missions.
On February 12, 1874, I wrote Rev. F. F. Ellinwood, D. D., in part, "The past month has been one of unprecedented storms throughout Syria. Rain, hail, snow, accompanied by violent gales of wind, have swept over sea and land. The destruction of property by landsides and floods is wide-spread and disheartening to the poor fellahin. In the north the sheep have died by hundreds. Many poor wayfaring men have been swept away by the swollen streams, and the heights of Lebanon are covered with such a mass of snow that the Damascus diligence has not been able to run for a fortnight so that thousands of men are now at work digging through the drifts. The houses of the mountaineers are saturated with water and many roofs have fallen in. One caravan from Hums to Tripoli had to slaughter three camels which had broken their legs in the deep mud sloughs on the way. Last year the whole land was perishing from drought and now it is suffering from floods of water. Would that we had such tokens of the spirit's presence as we long for! The news of financial pressure at home is painful to us here, and we must apply the knife of retrenchment without shrinking. We are beginning to shut up some of our schools already. The printing work is to be reduced at once, and we are proposing to stop the issue of the weekly, Neshra, the Arabic religious paper which is identified with the name of the mission throughout Syria. You may depend on our willingness to make all possible sacrifices to help the Board of Missions to weather the storm. The Austrian Lloyd steamer is just in, having thrown overboard a part of its cargo to save the ship during a storm. We must do the same. At all events we will not give up the ship."
During this year Mr. Dale was greatly troubled in Zahleh by the arbitrary arrest of the keeper of the book-shop and his banishment without a trial. Miss Wilson had gone to England. Some months later the priest who had preferred charges against him was himself banished for striking and insulting the same native helper, and subsequently His Excellency, the pasha, became the warm friend of Mr. Dale, the mission, and the college. Mr. Wood was transferred to Sidon, as the work done in the Abeih school had been transferred to the college. In Beirut land was purchased in the eastern quarter for a chapel and a schoolhouse.
Consul-General Hay was removed and Col. George Fisher came in his place. Miss Fisher's health having failed, she returned to America and Mrs. Shrimpton resigned her position in the Tripoli School. Dr. Thomson spent six months in England on business connected with "The Land and the Book." Dr. and Mrs. Eddy and children and Misses Anna H. Jessup and Lilian Jessup left for America in June.
At this time the Turkish authorities allowed it to be published in Constantinople that all Protestant schools were to be closed. The word reached Europe and we received letters asking if it were true.
1. Rev. Mr. Zeller of Nazareth tried to open a girls' school in Acre and was forbidden.
2. In Safita where American schools had been in operation for nine years the local mudir got orders to close them but told the people he thought it too small a business to make trouble about.
3. In the Nusairiyeh Mountains cast and southeast of Latakia, twenty-five schools of the American Reformed Presbyterian Mission which had been in operation for twenty years were forcibly closed by the Turkish officials and that poor pagan population, thirsting for education, are forbidden to allow their children to be taught. The persecution near Latakia was brutal and violent. Turkish soldiers broke down the doors of the American school building, insulted the teacher's wife and tore off her clothing and jewelry, arrested all the Christian young men, bound them and took them prisoners.
The case was referred to the Protestant ambassadors at the Porte and full statements sent to the Evangelical Alliance in London, that pillar of religious liberty and shield of the persecuted throughout the world' and an investigation was ordered. But the Turks have closed the door to all Christian light for the pagan Nusairiyeh, resolved on making them Moslems. But they still hate and curse Islam and pray for the day when their children can be taught in the Christian schools again.
Notwithstanding the outburst of hostility to our schools not one of them has been closed. In December, 1874, we had sixty-one common schools with 1,753 boys and 510 girls; three female seminaries in Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon with seventysix pupils; one boys' seminary with thirty boys; one college with sixty-eight students, making 2,474 pupils in all.
In 1860 Dr. Thomson declared that the Arabic Press would one day be sent over 120 degrees of longitude, from Mogadore on the Atlantic to Pekin in Eastern China. In 1874 this had become a fact, and in December, 1874, an order came from the governor-general of Allahabad in North India for a considerable number of Arabic books published at the Beirut Mission Press. Books had already been sent to Liberia and Pekin and thus the influence of the Syria Mission Press was extending more and more widely.
September 19, 1874, I wrote a friend: "The Syrian summer is drawing towards its close and I write to tell you of a few facts bearing on its recent history. As the last winter was one of intense cold, deep snows, famine and suffering, so the summer has been one of unprecedented sickness. I suppose it would be safe to say that tens of thousands of the people are now lying sick of various fevers from Gaza on the south to Aleppo on the north. In some villages work is almost suspended. Yesterday I was in Ain Zehalteh, one of the highest and healthiest of the mountain villages, and 150 of the people were prostrated with fever out of a population of less than 600. Two young students of the Beirut Medical College had their hands full in tending upon the sick. All through Palestine and the region east of the Jordan fevers are an epidemic.
"The Turkish military expedition to Northern Moab for the subjection of the rebellious Arab tribes was broken up by the illness of the officers and men. One of the tribes of the Bedawin had sent seven young sheikhs to a certain village as hostages and one of them fell sick. The tribe demanded their release or removal to a healthier place. The Turks declined. Soon after the Bedawin mustered a force of 400 horsemen and attacked the town by night, overpowered the forty Turkish troops, released the hostages, and plundered the treasury of 30,000 piastres. The Arab tribes on the borders have been unusually turbulent and destructive in their raids this summer, and the villagers north, east, and south of Damascus have suffered irreparable loss in cattle, sheep, camels, and grain. The 'Sabeans' and 'Chaldeans' of the time of job maintain worthy successors in the land of Uz in these modern times. The Bedawin question is as great a problem for the Turks as is the Indian question for the Americans.
"After all that is said of the decay of the Ottoman power, it is certain that they have shown marvellous energy in keeping up their military and civil service throughout the empire. They do somehow collect enormous taxes and gather immense sums of money from the people; even when famine and want are crushing them to the dust. They maintain a well-equipped army and have recently imported into Syria 180 rifled steel breech-loading pieces of field artillery, and cargo of American breech-loading rifles, with fixed ammunition. They are about taking a census of the whole empire and seem to be laying their plans to live, whatever else the Russian government may be planning for them. They have a postal telegraph service, defective enough, and yet enabling the central power in Constantinople to move the whole empire like a machine.
"Hostility to foreigners, and jealousy of their presence and operations of every description, commercial, educational, and religious, are on the evident increase. Let us be thankful to God that the opportunities of the past have been improved, and that the Bible has a foothold in every important part of the Turkish Empire to-day, from which nothing short of a second St. Bartholomew's day can expel it. The translation and printing of the Arabic Bible alone, as accomplished already, will more than justify the expenditure of men and means during half a century in Syria. And were the Syria Mission to-day to be expelled by fire and sword, that Bible would remain and with it the evangelical churches and evangelical sentiments of thousands of the people of the various sects in the land.
"On the 11th of November, 1874, two beloved elders of the Beirut church, Mr. Elias Fuaz and Mr. John Abcarius, called on me and presented me on behalf of the Beirut church a beautiful octagonal walnut casket, containing a filigree silver tray, with twelve silver coffee cup holders, and a gold lined silver sugar bowl, with an Arabic letter from the Beirut church full of expressions of loving gratitude for my services to them for the fourteen years past. I had been acting as their pastor for the past fourteen years and although constantly urging them to call a native pastor, I had been obliged to continue in this service for want of a suitable candidate. I bad been acting pastor of the churchnot of my own choice, but by the vote of my brethren. I always regarded the relation as a mere temporary one, made necessary by the failure to find a native pastor. I preached to them and visited them when sick and well, married them, baptized their children, administered the Lord's Supper, and buried their dead. I loved them, tried to bear their infirmities and at times found the position a trying one, but I loved them and they evidently loved me in return. But the situation was perilous and I was relieved more than words can express when in July, 1890, my old pupil Rev. Yusef Bedr was settled over the church as its first legitimate pastor. I keep this gift as a precious souvenir of the good men and women, now almost all gone to glory, with whom I lived and laboured for many years.
"The transit of Venus on the morning of the 9th of December was an event of profound interest. Dr. Van Dyck the astronomer of the Beirut College had published in the Neshra a calculation of the exact time of the beginning and end of the transit and though the preceding day was one of clouds and rain, the morning of Wednesday was clear and beautiful. When the mighty disk of the sun came rolling up above the summits of Mount Lebanon, the planet Venus, that bright morning star, lay like a minute black speck on its face. It continued to move upward and northward, until at 8:29 it touched the inner edge of the sun's circumference and at 8:53 its outer edge. It was plainly visible through a plain smoked glass, and multitudes were watching its progress. Dr. Van Dyck obtained successful observations of the transit which have been transmitted to the Imperial Observatory at Constantinople and to London. It was a most impressive spectacle and affected my mind as no eclipse or other phenomenon ever did before. And it was perhaps because my thoughts took a religious direction at the very moment of the observation. It became a striking illustration of what the brightest earthly objects may become when thrust between us and Christ. This fair planet whose soft liquid light is so brilliant in September that it is reflected in the sea and casts a distinct shadow, which knows no peer among the stars when filling its legitimate sphere and shedding the reflected rays of the sun's original light, is suddenly transformed in December into a positive deformity, an unsightly blot on the sun's face, and instead of shining upon the earth, actually intercepts a portion of the sunlight and prevents its reaching the earth. Thus anything earthly, however shining and attractive, however useful and noble, when in its proper sphere, subordinate to Christ and borrowing its lustre and glory from Him, becomes a blemish, a blot, an injury, when obtruding itself between us and our Saviour. Here in the East the whole machinery of Oriental Ritualism in the Eastern Churches has been thrust between the people and Christ and becomes a dark blot, a cloud interrupting the light of the Sun of Righteousness. The Church, so lovely in itself when shining in the light of Christ, loses its lustre and becomes a mere dark and insignificant body, when thrust into the place of Christ or magnified above Him.
"Venus never appeared to my eye so small, as when brought into such overwhelming contrast with the stupendous proportions of the King of Day. On a summer's evening when seen from Lebanon, just dropping into the sea, whose waves are silvered with its light for miles, Venus seems almost a sun in itself. It is shining as God intended it to shine, reflecting the bright rays of the sun. But when in a transit across the sun's face, it seemed so small, so black, that it was easy to believe what the astronomers tell us, that one hundred and ten such spots would hardly form a line long enough to cross the diameter of the sun."
1875 - On February 17th, we were favoured with a visit from Dr. and Mrs. Ellinwood. As secretary of the Board he had been in China, Japan, Siam, and India, and his stay in Syria was a blessing to us all. We held a meeting of the mission and listened to his counsels. There was no air of official dignity nor assumption of the right to dictate, but a simple, clear, level-headed handling of even the most complicated questions. He gave us the benefit of his observations in the missions in Central and Eastern Asia, and we enjoyed the intercourse with a man so scholarly, consecrated and refined.
The long expected celebration of the introduction of the Dog River water into Beirut took place yesterday, May 14, 187 5, in an immense canopy erected on the top of the upper reservoir. The Waly of Syria, the Governor of Lebanon, the Pasha of Beirut, and the Algerian Prince, Abd el Kadir of Damascus, as well as all the dignitaries foreign and native of Beirut and Lebanon, together with the missionaries, bishops, priests, merchants, physicians, etc., etc., assisted at the exercises.
This living volume of "streams from Lebanon" is a glorious boon to this ancient city. The name Beeroth (Beirut) "City of Wells" will remain, but the wells from which water has been drawn for thousands of years will soon go into disuse. Public hydrants are opened in the different quarters of the city, fountains are beginning to play in private gardens. Dwellings, schools, churches, khans, mosques, shops, and coffee-houses are being supplied rapidly with the delicious water, and Beirut is receiving fresh vitality.
Editors and poets are vying with each other in singing the praises of the Dog River water and Damascus is no longer suffered to boast over its rival Beirut.
What a type water is of the blessings of the Gospel. May the life-giving streams of gospel truth soon flow in every house and every heart, not only in Beirut but in all Syria!
On June 29th, Dr. Van Dyck was summoned by telegraph to the bedside of Dr. Galen B. Danforth, in Tripoli. Dr. Danforth was dangerously ill with gastric malarial fever and succumbed to it July 9th, leaving a widow and two little daughters, just one month after Mr. S. H. Calhoun and family sailed for America. He had been in Syria three and one-half years and had begun a career of great usefulness, His reputation was growing and the sorrow at his death was great through the whole region of Tripoli, Safita, and Hums.
When stricken down he was planning to summer with Rev. Samuel Jessup in the picturesque village of Samir, six hours cast of Tripoli. On June 5th I rode up there with him, my brother Samuel and Mr. Hardin. It is the most beautiful site in Lebwe. Crystal streams and fountains of ice-cold water, splendid ancient oak trees, and bracing air, and above on the south and ant towering cliffs thousands of feet high. While there, Mustafa Agha, whose guests we were, stole my field-glasses from my saddle-bags outside the door while pretending to be getting coffee with us. [When we came out to mount I missed the glass, and he swore by the beard of Mohammed that he would punish the man who stole it. Ten years later Dr. Ira Harris of Tripoli was called to the beg's house and saw my glass there minus one lens!]
The village is owned by two rival feudal families of Mos lem robbers and sheep thieves, with half a dozen Maronite peasants as their retainers. Could that nest of cutthroats be cleared cat and a decent peasantry be placed there, it would be the most attractive summer resort in Syria. As it is, no one ventures in to that earthly paradise, The death of Dr. Danforth who married Emily Calhoun, followed the next year in December by the death in Buffalo. N. Y., of Rev, Simeon H. Calhoun, "the Saint of Lebanon," broke up that family in Abeih which for twenty-seven years had been the model family of Mount Lebanon, where the noble, godly, scholarly life of the father, the sweet, gladsome, cheerful piety of the mother, and the loveliness of the children, nude it the most attractive of earthly homes.
Mrs. Calhoun returned to Syria in 1877 and laboured in Deir el Komr, Beirut. and Shwifat. Her daughter Susan was stationed in the Tripoli Girls' School in 1879 and at Shwifat in 1880.
The only son, Charles William Calhoun, M. D., a graduate of Williams, his father's alma mater, and a skillful surgeon, came to. the mission from America in July, 1879, and took up the work of his late brother-in-law in Tripoli. He was a hearty, whole-souled devoted missionary; boyish, and so full of life and humour that he kept his patients laughing even when tortured with pain. He was welcomed in the villages where his clinics were crowded with hundreds of the diseased and suffering, and his skill and patience gave him a great reputation.
Cholera raged in Syria in 1865, and returned in 1875. The latter visitation began in Hamath among the Mecca pilgrims. It appeared in June, and spread to Hums, Damascus and Beirut.
Jewish refugees from Damascus carried the pest to the village of Saghbin on the cast slope of the Lebanon range facing Mount Hermon. Rev. Gerald F. Dale, Jr., who was living in Zahleh with his colleague, Mr. F. W. March, had a little Protestant flock in Saghbin and hearing that there were some twenty cases in the village resolved to go to their help, and, if possible, stay the Plague.
We, in Beirut, profiting by the experience of 1865, had prepared a large, supply of the noted "Hamlin Cholera Remedy" (equal parts of laudanum, camphor and rhubarb) and sent it to all the stations, with printed instructions in English and Arabic, taken from Dr. Hamlin's pamphlet and annotated by Dr. Van Dyck. Mr. Dale had received a supply and gave out in Zahleh that he was going to stricken Saghbin. Now as usual at such times the whole country was covered with a network of cordons, village against village, and no one from Saghbin could enter Zahleh. The people flocked to Mr. Dale's house and begged him not to go. "It will be certain death to you." "No matter, I am not afraid. I must go and help those poor people." The Zablehites begged him, not to go and finally when he had succeeded in finding one man willing to go as his muleteer, they warned him that he would not be allowed to return to Zahleh.
On reaching the village he found the teacher at his post, who reported some thirty cases of cholera, and the victims in despair, as it was supposed there was no remedy for it. The mass of the people and all of the priests had fled to the vineyards far up the mountainside, leaving the sick without food or care. Mr. Dale took the teacher and the medicines and went to every patient, giving them the medicine and the directions and assuring them that they would recover. His remedies and his cheery and encouraging words did wonders. Only one patient died after his arrival. He kept going the rounds and trained the teacher to use the medicines. At sunset he rang the chapel bell for service. The timid people in the vineyards hearing the bell took courage and began to come back. Confidence was restored and the plague was stayed. The Protestants all returned to their houses, took lessons in the use of the medicines, and in a week the morale of the people was restored.
Mr. Dale, then, finding that he could not return to Zahleh, crossed the Lebanon range and came to my house in Shemlan, where he was a great favourite with the children. This visit of Mr. Dale to Saghbin and his care of the sick, when priests and people had abandoned their sick, gave him great influence in all that region. On his return to Zahleh in August he had an ovation, and his example won him and his cause many friends. In April, 1876, seventy families there had become Protestants.
Cholera had now, August 6th, reached Beirut, and the Lebanon government placed a quarantine of six days on all persons coming out of Beirut. As we were all in Lebanon, this put a stop to our visiting Beirut. Some 20,000 of the Beirut population had fled to the Lebanon towns and villages. The muleteers, who reaped a harvest by transporting the panic-stricken people to the mountains, had circulated the most alarming false reports for some twenty days of sudden deaths in Beirut, long before a case of cholera had occurred.
The Arabic journals discussed what ought to be done and the city government exerted itself with unprecedented energy in cleansing the streets, lanes, and vaults. The Moslems, contrary to their usual custom, were leaving the city in large numbers for the mountains, and the new Mohammedan journal, Tumrat el Funoon, had an elaborate article on the Divine Decrees and Fate which is so characteristic that I will translate a part of it. The object of the writer, Sheikh Ibrahim Effendi Ahdab, is to persuade his fellow Moslems to remain in Beirut without fear of cholera.
Man's allotted term of life is an impregnable fortress. God has appointed man's sorrows and joys by an eternal decree and wherever man turns, he must walk in the path fixed by irreversible fate.
"Be calm then; our affairs are fixed by decree. Banish from your thoughts all deceit. Remain where you are and save yourselves the trouble of removing. Nothing you can do will shield you from fate, Everything. is by decree and fate. No human precautions are of any avail. The divine allotment is the castle of our life. He decides in His wisdom as He finds necessary. When a man's day of doom is far off, no plague or accident can hasten it, no arrow or evil eye can smite him, He is safe in his way and kept by the care of his Lord. Let him rush into deadly battle, let him leave a life of quiet for the crashing of spear-heads, let him hurl himself into the jaws of lions, let his only light in darkness be the flashing of the shining spear, yet he is safe.
"But if his day of death be at hand, there is no hope of prolonging life. No care or cunning can ward off the blow of death. No precaution of ours can lengthen life the winking of an eye. How can care or caution affect what fate has appointed?
"Can he escape from fate though he fly away on the wings of eagles? Can the walls of castles keep off the approach of death? or sheild from his arrows when once his bow is bent?
"One of the ancient kings fled from the plague, defying the divine decree, and when a short distance away from the city' fell a victim to the plague. The lines of his fate met when fate decreed, This proves our position and leads one to believe what we asserted that there is no use in running away from pestilence. It is better for each man to remain in his place and resign himself to the decree and fate; especially if he be among the leader of the people, whom great and small look up to and imitate and no harm shall befall him.
"When Khalid Ibn el Walid, the great Sword of Islam, drew near to death, as he lay on his bed in peace, after he had plunged in to the very abysses of war and carnage, and there was not a spot on his body unscarred by battle wounds and the point of the spear and arrow, he exclaimed (may God be propitious to him), ' Behold, I who have lived amid such perils and raised the standard in so many battles, now die a natural death upon my bed!" And this also proves our position.
"If it be replied that God has bidden us avoid the leprous and to escape from lions, and to this there is no exception, I reply that this refers to him whose faith is strong, that if he escapes he will avoid these dangers. And the command was given to prevent men falling into doubt when their faith is not strong enough to enable them to face the danger. The traditions of the Prophet prove this. He once (peace be upon him) sat down to cat with a leper, and thrust his hand into the dish with him saying, 'I Eat trusting in God and fear no evil.'
"Of a like character is the Prophet's injunction to neither enter nor leave a place where there is pestilence. This command was given for the confirmation of faith that believers might not fall into doubt.
"Similar is what is said of the Khalif Omr (may God favour him) when he refused to enter a plague-stricken city, in obedience to the command I enter not,' and he was asked, 'Do you refuse to enter in order to escape from the decree of God?' He said, 'Yes, we escape from God's decree to God's decree': and he said this to prevent the weak minded from holding views contrary to the Prophet's command.
"In truth, life is limited by fate. When our time comes it will not delay. The Great Agent is God the Exalted. There is none beside Him. No creature can die without His decree and ordinance. Trust in God. Leave all things to His decree and you will be at rest from all anxious thoughts. Fate has limited our lives. Whatever befalls you was decided from eternity by the One Creator."
This is in brief the substance of the sheikh's poetical utterance, and the editor Abd el Kadir Kobbany clinches the argument by what be styles " A Practical Sermon Confirming the Above."
"One of the Christian citizens of Damascus fled to one of the villages of Jebel Kolmfin to escape from the cholera which has driven so many to flee from their homes at great sacrifice and inconvenience. He took with him his wife and son and on arriving at what he supposed to be a place of safe refuge, and settling his house, his servant girl opened a tin of kerosene oil by melting the red wax stopper with a lighted candle when by a concurrence (1) it took fire and burned up the house and the entire family. Consider then and wonder how the divine decree and fate led them out to the place appointed for their destruction by a cause other than what they had feared and tried to escape from!"
From this you can derive some idea of the modern Moslem journalistic treatment of the great theological doctrine of fate. just how they act upon it and just what they mean by it is better seen by their deeds than by their words.
In 1865 they induced the Mufti of Beirut to decide ex cathedra that Mohammed forbade flying from the plague, but inasmuch as cholera did not exist in those days, he had no reference to cholera and men can act now as they please.
This year they are going off to the mountains in large numbers having permission to leave, on Omr's ground that "they flee from God's decree to God's decree," and that if they go to Lebanon they are decreed to go to Lebanon, etc.
But the modern Moslem is not disposed to imitate Mohammed by putting his hands into the dish and eating with a leper. He would insist that the leper be clean first. Immediately following the article on fate is one on cleanliness and diet.
The editor was in grandiloquent style mixing his remarks with wit and satire. He warns the people against gluttony and intemperance; says that in some of the streets and alleys he cannot pass without holding both his nose and his mouth with his hands and that it is enough to give one the plague to look at some of the outhouses of the Beirut mansions. He begs the gluttons to restrain themselves, to put their minds into their heads and not to cat three meals in one. He earnestly recommends that they do not begin the day by eating, as he had himself observed, on an empty stomach, five unpeeled cucumbers, followed by half a dozen hard boiled eggs, and crowned with three pounds of apricots, as such a course might damage their fellow men.
He says that unless the town is thoroughly cleaned, few can escape the apprehended pestilence. He says that some may object that filth and gutters and garbage are not clean subjects for a respectable editor to talk about, but he replies that "if you will clean the city I will have a clean subject to write upon and the cleaner the city the cleaner the paper!"
His fatalism fails him on this subject.
The semiannual meeting of the mission was held in Abeih in September attended by eight missionaries. It was decided that the Abeih Boys' Seminary should hereafter, 1st, train teachers, 2d, prepare boys for the college, 3d, teach English to theological candidates. Negotiations were set on foot to purchase the Jebran Abela house in Sidon for the girls' boarding-school. Miss Kipp, broken down in health, sailed December 15th, on the American bark Robinson Crusoe for Boston.
Captain Robinson, on his return to Beirut, said to me, "Miss Kipp is the most truly sincere Christian woman I ever met. She is pure gold." She afterwards laboured in Auburn in the Old Ladies' Home with great acceptance and continued there until her death.
Mrs. Hanford (now Mrs. Professor Moore of Andover) took her place in Tripoli school. Dr. W. W. Eddy and family and Dr. Dennis and family returned from America. Cholera having ceased in Beirut, the mission schools and the college opened as usual in October.
The year of 1876 was one of great unrest and excitement throughout the Turkish Empire. Insurrection broke out in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Servia, Montenegro, and Bulgaria. May 6th the French and German consuls were murdered in Salonica and massacres occurred in Bulgaria. May 12th, a revolution occured in Constantinople resulting in the fall of the Grand Vizier Mahmoud Pasha. May 30th the Sultan Abdul Aziz was deposed and Murad V elevated in his place. June 4th Abdul Aziz was assassinated. August 31st Murad V was deposed, being succeeded by Abdul Hamid II. December 19th Midhat Pasha, a man of liberal and enlightened views, was appointed grand vizier and on December 23d a constitution was proclaimed for the Turkish Empire.
The Mohammedans were distressed at the drain on their men for the wars in the north and the Christians were in constant fear. When the constitution was proclaimed, the Pasha of Beirut, a liberal and enlightened man, summoned representatives of all the sects to the seraia to hear the firman of Abdul Hamid giving equal civil rights to all the Sultan's subjects and granting to the Christians the right of military service and office. After the reading of the official firman in both the Turkish and Arabic languages, the pasha asked an old Mohammedan sheikh of the Orthodox School to close the ceremony with prayer. All the company arose, when the sheikh, a venerable white-bearded dignitary, stepped forward and prayed the following stereotyped prayer which is used in prayers for the Sultan: "O Allah, grant the victory to His Imperial Majesty the Sultan Abdul Hamid Khan. Destroy all his enemies; destroy the Russians; O Allah, destroy the infidels. Tear them in tatters, grind them in powder, rend them in fragments, because they are the enemies of the Mohammedans, O Allah!" He was about to proceed when the mufti, or chief interpreter of the Koranic law, stepped rapidly up to him, pulled him by the coat collar, stopped him and whispered in his ear, when he proceeded, "O Allah, destroy the infidels because they are the enemies of the Moslems, the Christians, and the Jews." This was an Orthodox Mohammedan prayer. [SeeLanes' "Modern Egyptians," Vol. 11.] But the mufti was shrewd enough to see that it needed modification, since the new firman guaranteed equal rights to all, and it was hardly the proper thing to offer it in the presence of the clergy of the Greeks, Catholics, Maronites, Armenians and Protestants, and the rabbis of the Jews. When the ceremony was ended the bishops left in high dudgeon and sent a protest to the pasha against that prayer. He replied courteously that it was a mistake and would never be repeated.
War did not actually break out with Russia until April, 1877, but the entire year 1876 was "of anxiety and fear among the Christian population."
The mission suffered great loss this year in the resignation and return to America, August 4th, of Dr. Wm. M. Thomson, author of "The Land and the Book," and the death of Rev. S. H. Calhoun in Buffalo December 14th. We have already given a sketch of the lives of these two eminent men, the like of whom we shall not see again. Dr. Thomson lived some years in New York and then in Denver, Col., with his daughter Mrs. Maria Walker, in whose house he died April 8, 1894, aged eighty-nine years. His daughter Miss Emilia removed to Tripoli in May, as colleague of Miss If. LaGrange, who arrived in January with Miss Everett from New York. Since that time for thirty-three years Miss La Grange has continued as the faithful, beloved and successful head of the Tripoli Girls' Boarding-School. Miss Thomson later on came to Beirut where she is an invaluable member of the faculty of the girls' school.
The Emporer Dom Pedro of Brazil has just been in Beirut and visited all our literary institutions and went carefully through the press. We gave him a set of all our Arabic scientific and educational publications and a fine copy of the vowelled Arabic Bible for the library of Brazil. He was a plain, modest man, who came to Syria incognito and showed a deep interest in all educational and literary work. We little thought that in thirteen years he would be obliged to abdicate, and that within thirty years not less than 25,000 Syrian emigrants would have entered Brazil and that several Arabic newspapers would be published in Rio Janeiro and San Paulo!
In April, 1877, Russia declared war against Turkey and the whole empire was in distress. Sixty thousand men were taken from Syria, leaving their families in thousands of cases unprovided for and in great suffering. New money taxes were levied and the Christians, who at such times are envied on account of not having to furnish soldiers, were in great fear of massacre.
Rev. Dr. Philip Schaff visited Syria in April and we were greatly refreshed by his visit. He was in vigorous health and overflowing with wit and wisdom. Mrs. Schaff preceded him to Beirut. in company with Mr. and Mrs. Egbert Starr of New York.
It gave me great pleasure to show Dr. Schaff our press, the schools, the college, the theological class, and the German Deaconesses' Institute. We asked him to address the theological students and I offered to translate for him, as the students did not know English. He began, and, to my dismay, I found he was speaking in Latin. I had been out of Yale College twenty-six years and my last essay in Latin was the presbytery trial-piece in 1855, so that I had to use "that thing which I call my mind" with some rapidity, but Dr. Schaff spoke deliberately and I succeeded in giving them at least the "substance of doctrine," which the doctor was presenting with such mediaeval fluency. Dr. Dennis and I made no comment on his fluency in Latin and I never spoke of it until the fall of 1879, when on the eve of my sailing for Syria he asked me to address the students of the Union Theological Seminary in New York. Here was a strong temptation to address them in Arabic. But I desisted and instead told the students of the doctor's addressing our Beirut students in Latin! At the close of the service the doctor said to me, "Did I actually speak at that time in Latin?" "Certainly," said I. "Well," said he, "I was not conscious of it at the time." He was so familiar with Latin that he spoke it as freely as English or German.
It was a fete day at the Prussian deaconesses, and as I walked down the street with him to visit them, the doctor asked me if I had ever read Hans Breitman. I said yes. He was much pleased and began to repeat the whole of "Hans Breitman gave a barty," and "Where is that barty now? Gone to the ewigkeit," and he shook with laughter as be recited it. Leland's Anglo-German language he appreciated most keenly.
On entering my study he looked around on the books and his eye caught a row of "Lange's Commentary edited by P. Schaff," and he exclaimed, "Mountains of mud with here and there a vein of gold."
"Yes," said I, "and the gold is chiefly the work of the American editor."
He was deeply interested in securing a Biblical museum in Union Theological Seminary and left $350 with a committee consisting of Dr. George Post, Dr. E. R. Lewis, and myself to purchase such implements and articles original or imitated as are of real interest and useful to theological students for the understanding of Bible history and Bible lands and the domestic, social, and religious life of the Jews. Also a judicious selection of Bible plants and Bible animals. "If you need $300 or $500 more, I will raise the money. The museum must be completed no matter what it costs."
Just now all is anxiety and alarm about the great war between Russia and Turkey. A forced contribution of money about one dollar on every male Moslem over fifteen years of age is now being levied.
On February 9th I rode to Zahleh, through great drifts of snow from ten to twenty feet deep to help Mr. Dale in dedicating the new church at Jedeetha. It was built by funds sent by the mission school of the Brick Church in New York.
On my return I learned that General Grant was hourly expected on the Vandalia from Jaffa. He intends to go to Baalbec and Damascus, but it has been snowing for forty-eight hours on the heights of Lebanon, and I doubt whether even General Grant can "fight it out on that line,"
Fifteen hundred Circassians have arrived in Beirut from Constantinople. They fled from the Caucasus to Bulgaria, and were engaged in the murderous assaults on the poor Bulgarian Christians. They are here en route for Hauran and other places in the interior. They are like walking arsenals, armed with knives, swords, pistols, and guns. One of them drew a knife on a young Greek merchant here on Thursday, and now the military are disarming them. They are lodged in mosques and khans waiting for the Damascus Road to be opened. Yesterday I saw downtown a half-bushel of silver church ornaments, bracelets and so forth, which these miscreants had stolen from the Bulgarians, and are selling to the Beirut silversmiths to raise ready money. They have been offering their girls for sale in one of the mosques -a new business for Beirut. We only hope that they will leave as soon as possible, lest something arouse their fierce nature, and serious results ensue.
On January 31st the Russo-Turkish. War ended, and on July 13th the treaty of Berlin was signed which separated from Turkey, Roumani Servia, and Montenegro, ceded the most of Turkish Armenia to Russia as well as Batum, and made Bulgaria a Christian principality. Civil rights were guaranteed to non-Mohammedans in Turkey. Austria also occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina and England June 4th occupied Cyprus, engaging to maintain the integrity of the Turkish dominions in Asia.
Thousands of Circassians driven out of Bulgaria were brought to Syria and established flourishing colonies in Northern Syria and in Jaulan east of the Jordan.
In our mission field, owing to the death of Mr. Calhoun, the Abeih Academy has been discontinued, as the college preparatory department was expected to do the same work in the future. Dr. W. W. Eddy was transferred to Beirut for the theological class, and Rev. Frank Wood was transferred from Abeih to Sidon, but before he removed he was smitten down with mortal disease.
In April I left for America with my family and in July heard of the death of Mr. F. A. Wood of the Syria Mission. Mr. Wood had been for more than seven years in Syria. He had a fine knowledge of the Arabic language, was a man of superior culture, an enthusiastic teacher, of fervent piety, and great zeal.
Having been for three years the principal of Abeih Academy, he was about to remove to Sidon, as the training work done in Abeih is hereafter to be done in the college in Beirut. His death leaves the Sidon field in the sole charge of young Mr. Eddy who is to sail for Syria August 31st. Mr. Wood was greatly and deservedly beloved. The missionaries are deeply afflicted in his death. The native church will lament his death as will his pupils and friends throughout Syria. Physically athletic, he seemed likely to outlive us all. His widow and the little daughter Lucy are entitled to the sympathies and prayers of God's people.
In August Mrs. Calhoun, who had returned from America, was stationed in Deir el Komr to labour among the women and girls. Miss Jackson and Mrs. Wood returned to America. I sailed with my family April 11th for America. The morning of that day at half-past six I called to bid good-bye to Mr. N. Tubbajy, that dear man of God whom I loved as a brother. He had been confined to his bed for weeks, and after I offered prayer he drew me down and kissed me and wept. I was much overcome. He was one of the purest, truest men I ever knew and loved, and before I returned from America he was released from his sufferings. He was the prime mover in the erection of the "Eastern Chapel" and left a legacy for the support of a school in connection with it.
At ten o'clock I went with my brother Samuel and other friends to the house of Mrs. A. Mentor Mott, where 1,500 school children were assembled and I made them a parting address. They, through their teachers, presented to me a beautiful Arabic farewell address. That sight of such a multitude of children being taught in evangelical mission schools was stamped upon my memory and was a comfort to me during the long months of my absence.
After a prosperous trip by land and sea we reached New York, May 15th, and after spending one night at my mother's in Montrose, I went to the General Assembly in Pittsburg, where I met many old friends and was entertained by Mr. Robert Hays in Allegheny.
At Yale commencement I was the guest of President Woolsey and met Professor Salisbury, Hon. Peter Parker, and S. Wells Williams both of China. In June we also attended the golden wedding of Hon. Wm. E. Dodge at Tarrytown. In July, I attended with my sons William and Henry the hundredth anniversary of the city of Wilkesbarre, and at a reception given by an old friend, Mrs. Charles Parrish, met President R. B. Hayes, Secretary of State John Sherman, and Governor Hartranft. Seventy-five thousand people listened or tried to listen to the speech of the President. My brother Samuel, Dr. Eddy, and Dr. Dennis kept me informed about Syrian affairs; and I learned with sorrow of the death of Elias Fuaz, the oldest survivor of the First Protestant Church in Syria. He was always called Abu Nasif (father of Nasif) although he had no children. It was a title of respect. So when at about the age of sixty-five he married and had a son, he was obliged to call him Nasif. Little Nasif was a lovely boy, and as his door was directly across a narrow lane from my door, he was a favourite with my children. When about six years of age he was taken with severe convulsion and after a few days of struggle died. I never saw a more pathetic sight than the agony of that aged father over the death struggles of his only child, the child of his old age. He hardly left the bedside day or night for days and when the little grave was filled, he walked daily a mile to the cemetery carrying flowers. But life had lost its charm for him and he gradually declined and passed away.
During the summer of 1878 Rev. W. K. Eddy visited us in Montrose, and some weeks later, while on a visit to Scranton the First and Second Churches jointly agreed to support him, a son of Dr. Eddy, as their missionary to Syria. He was appointed and assigned to Sidon station, where his knowledge of Arabic and the Arab race enabled him at once to enter full upon work as a missionary, a work which he maintained with growing usefulness for twenty-nine Mrs.
One day in June, 1878, when calling at the old mission house, 33 Centre Street, New York, Dr. Ellinwood took me down to the dimly-lighted cellar where the luggage of incoming and outgoing missionaries was stored, and where young missionaries and their wives did their packing, and showed me two massive slabs of wood of the Cedars of Lebanon, sent to him by Rev. O. J. Hardin of Tripoli, Syria, but which he found to be an elephant on his hands. No one would buy them and they were in the way. Would I take them and dispose of them? At that time in Montrose, Mr. Chas. Crandall, inventor of the famous "Building Blocks," had a toy factory filled with the most beautiful modern machinery, run by steam, planes, saws, dovetailing machines, lathes, and polishing sandpaper wheels, which filled me with delight. When a child I used to spend hours watching the village carpenters and wagon makers, but this elegant machinery "made my eyes water." We were kindly allowed free access to the mysterious shop from which emanated those curious creations of Mr. Crandall's genius which delighted hundreds of thousands of children all over the world. It struck me that here would be the place to turn those cedar logs to account for the benefit of the Tripoli Girls' Boarding-School. Mr. Crandall entered heartily into the scheme of cutting up that precious wood into table tops, paper folders, rulers, cubes, barrels, balls, paper weights, and so forth. So the large slabs six feet by two feet by ten inches were brought to Montrose. A contract was made with Mr. Crandall with minute specifications as to the style and finish of the blocks, and the work began. The cedar wood was so hard that the sparks flew from the circular saws, and some of the saws were broken.
The wood came into Mr. Hardin's possession in a peculiar way. No one is allowed to cut wood from that ancient cedar grove. It is a sacred place of the Maronites and is under the protection of the Patriarch of Lebanon. At times when, "the voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars, yea the Lord breaketh the Cedars of Lebanon " (Psalm 29: 5) and the lightning rends off huge branches from the trees, specimens of the wood can be obtained. The Grand Duke Maximilian visited Syria in the '60s, went to the Cedars and obtained permission from the patriarch to take several large slabs of wood. A Syrian merchant in the Meena of Tripoli took the job, and at great expense took native sawyers up to the grove, cut out these huge pieces, and transported them on camels to the Meena to await the frigate of the Austrian duke. But he took another route and the merchant was left with the lumber on his hands. The Austrian consul did not pay the expense he had incurred and he left them stored in a warehouse near the port. At length, after years of waiting, he offered them to his neighbour, Mr. Hardin, who bought them at a moderate figure and shipped them to Dr. Ellinwood.
They were from the old traditional cedar grove of B'sherreh, southeast of Tripoli and about 6,000 feet above the sea. The trees are about 425 in number and until the year 1862 it was supposed to be the only grove in Lebanon, but I have visited no less than eleven in Northern and Southern Lebanon, those at Hadeth el Jibbeh and Baruk containing thousands of trees, and where the all-devouring goats who eat up every green thing banished from Lebanon, there is no reason why Lebanon's heights could not again be crowned with magnificent forests of these splendid evergreen trees.
The grand ducal slabs were cut from a branch of one of the oldest trees reckoned by Mr. Calhoun and Dr. Thomson to be not less than three thousand years old. Ordinary tools made no impression on the wood, and but for the kind consent of Mr. Crandall to use his splendid machinery to cut it up and polish it, it must have remained as an heirloom for the Board of Foreign Missions. My children took great interest in the scheme of selling the finished blocks and fancy articles. Harry, then fourteen years old, was made secretary and treasurer of the cedar fund for the Tripoli school buildings, Advertisements with the descriptive price lists were sent to some twenty religious journals, a specimen of the wood being sent to each editor. Soon applications with postal money orders or cash began to pour into the Montrose post-office, and the outgoing mails and the express offices took hundreds of carefully wrapped and labelled packages. At the final summing up, after paying all expenses, the sum of about six hundred dollars was sent to Dr. Ellinwood for the Tripoli school. It seemed fitting that the money should go to aid in educating girls from the region of the ancient Cedars, for the river of Tripoli, the sacred Kadisha, springs from a gushing fountain a little way from the old cedar grove.
After spending July and August in visiting various churches, I set out September 9th, under the auspices of the Women's Boards of Missions, on a Western campaign. I entered upon it with great enthusiasm. It was a rare chance to see the West, to cross the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers, to see Chicago, and to meet with thousands of good Christian people. I was absent forty-six days; made forty-eight addresses, travelled four thousand four hundred and fifty miles and addressed about thirteen thousand people. After spending Sunday, September 29th, at Dubuque with Dr. D. J. Burrell, I was booked for the University of Madison, Wisconsin, Monday evening. All Sunday afternoon and evening the rain fell in torrents and on Monday morning, on going to the railroad station I was told that owing to a "washout" no train could reach Madison that day. As I was expecting to go from Madison to the meeting of the American Board in Milwaukee, Dr. Burrell studied out a route up the Mississippi by train to McGregor, then by ferry across the beautiful emerald islands to Prairie du Chien, where I remained till 6 P. M. While in Dubuque Dr. Burrell took me to a galena or lead mine and I obtained a ponderous mass, which I shipped to Syria for the cabinet of the Syrian Protestant College. In Prairie du Chien I was greatly interested in the artesian well which spouts up warm sulphur water twenty-five feet in the air and flows through the streets. Taking a sleeping car at 6 P. M., I reached Milwaukee in the morning and was the guest of Mr. William Allen whose kindness has never been forgotten. Meeting Mr. and Mrs. Wm. E. Dodge at the Plankinton House in the afternoon, we drove together in a downpour of rain to the Immanuel Church' pastor Dr. G. P. Nichols, where the Board was holding its opening sessions. I sat in the rear of the church, and Mr. Dodge, vice-president of the Board, went to the platform. After a little, there was a bustle among the officers on the platform, and soon Dr. Clark came down to my seat and said, "Brother Jessup, we are in a sad plight. The annual sermon is to be delivered to-night and this church will be crowded but we have no preacher. Rev. Dr. Manning of Boston who was appointed telegraphed from Buffalo that he has been taken ill there en route and cannot come. What shall we do? Will you fill the breach?" I thought for a moment and said, "I cannot fill it, but I can stand in it and do my best, but it will not be a sermon." "All right," said Dr. Clark, and I made haste to my room at Dr. Allen's, looked over my notes, got my thoughts in order, and in the evening spoke ninety minutes to a most attentive audience, some of whom wanted me to "go on." But I thought it wiser to go off, for it is better that the people wish you were longer rather than wish you were shorter. Dr. Clark was effusive in his thanks and Mr. and Mrs. Dodge said, "The Lord sent that 'washout' on the railroad in order to bring you here."
Dr. Nichols, the beloved pastor of that church, afterwards removed to the First Church in Binghamton where I have since been brought into the most loving and intimate relations with him. His has been a model pastorate.
In October my old friend and pupil, Rev. Isaac Riley, died in Buffalo. He was a man of rare intellectual, spiritual, and social gifts, admired and beloved by all. On the 17th of November a memorial service was held in his old 34th Street Church, New York, and I had the privilege of adding my testimony to that of Drs. Martyn, Chambers, Hutton and Schaff to his worth and the loss to the Church and the world in his death. He did me a great favour in acting as co-editor in 1873 with Dr. Chas. S. Robinson of my little books, the "Women of the Arabs," and "Syrian Home Life."
I was a guest at the house of my wife's uncle, Hon. Wm. E. Dodge, just before the Christmas holidays. One morning Mr. Dodge asked me to go with him to the store of Johnston and Co., carpet dealers, and aid him in selecting an Oriental rug as a Christmas gift to Mrs. Dodge. One of the salesmen was very polite and soon brought a rug which he told Mr. Dodge was very rare, being six hundred years old; and that the date was woven into it in the Oriental language! I examined it and found the date in Arabic. characters, 1281 of the Hegira, corresponding to the year 1865 A. D. I informed Mr. Dodge and then told the salesman the facts in the case and that the rug was just fourteen years old. He looked at me with undisguised disgust and did not sell that rug to Mr. Dodge for one hundred and fifty dollars. It was worth about fifteen. The salesman had evidently been taken in by his purchasing agent in the East.
In December I preached one Sunday morning in a Brooklyn church in the absence of the pastor. After the service the pastor's wife asked me to dinner. On reaching the house she remarked, "I am so glad that my son was not here this morning. You certainly would have made a missionary of him!" "I said, "My dear friend, who then can be a missionary? Somebody's son must go. Are only orphan children bidden to go and preach the Gospel?" She said, "I know some mother's sons must go, but I could never bear it." I did not press the question, and never met that young man until after he had been moderator of the General Assembly, and then it was quite too late to ask him to go. He was entangled in too many lines, lines he had cast and lines he had written, to admit the possibility of his becoming a student volunteer.
1879 - In the year 1879 the Syria Mission was reinforced by the arrival of five labourers, and my own return. The new labourers were Rev. Chas. Win. Calhoun, M. D., and his sister, Miss Susan S. Calhoun, both for Tripoli, and Miss Cundall for the Tripoli Girls' School; also Rev. W. F. Johnston and his wife who were stationed with Mr. Eddy in Sidon. Mr. Johnston found the climate unfavourable and was only able to remain about six months.
Miss Jackson and Miss Emily Bird returned to Syria with me November 25th. [Miss Bird has never found it convenient to take a furlough, and now (1909) has been thirty years continuously on the field.]
Early in the year, April 16th, Rev. Gerald F. Dale, Jr., was married to Miss Mary Bliss in Beirut, and for seven and a half years their home and personal influence were a power for good in Zahleh and the Bookaa.
In the month of May, 1870, before my return I was elected moderator of the General Assembly in Saratoga.
In October and November, 1879, ! visited England, Scotland, and Ireland with Rev. Gavin Carlyle, in the interest of the Turkish Mission's Aid Society, made various addresses and met many great and good men with whose names I had long been familiar; Lord Shaftesbury, Sir William Muir, with whom I kept up correspondence to the time of his death in 1905, the Bishop of Meath, Lord Plunkett, Drs. Johnstone, Fleming Stevenson, Rainey, the Bonars, Dr. Andrew Thomson, Dr. N. McCleod, T. Matheson Rev. Dr. McFadyen, Dr. Robson (formerly of Damascus), Dr. Knox, Lord Polworth, Mr. Geo. D. Cullen, Drs. Cairns, Davidson, McCrie, J. Robertson, Dr. Blackie, Lord Balfour, Dr. Kalley, Thos. Nelson, Dr. Lindsay Alexander' and many others. In going to Dundee in November with Rev. Gavin Carlyle, we passed over that slender, lofty, dizzy, iron bridge two miles long over the Tay, On January 8th we received word in Beirut that the Tay bridge had toppled over and fallen with a railroad train which disappeared beneath the deep waters.
In 1879 certain Arabic inscriptions [The plates of these inscriptions were in the Foreign Missionary Magazine, April, 1879 and can be obtained at 156 Fifth Avenue in the library.] were sent to me by Prof. S. Wells Williams, the well-known Chinese scholar and missionary, now Professor of Chinese in Yale College.
The letter of Dr.. Williams enclosing them is as follows:
"I have obtained a 'rubbing' of an inscription on an incense pot of fine bronze, which I enclose to you in the hope that you can send to me a translation of it. The piece was obtained from a mosque in Peking, but I suppose the work was done in Northwestern China. This one has no date upon it, but I have one much like it that was made in 1506, and I think this piece is as old as that., The Moslems in China are accustomed to burn incense on the tables in their mosques much the same as the Buddhists do in their temples. The inscription I send you is ten times as long as any of the others I have ever seen, and I rather think the top and bottom may be a quotation from the Koran. You will be able to tell me. The use of Arabic in China is very limited, few besides the Mullahs or Hajjis ever learning to read, and they do not try to speak it to any extent. The monosyllabic words in Chinese contract the organs of speech as a person grows old so that he is unable to pronounce words with many consonants coming together, or end a word in a dental. Words like thought, strength, contempt, are unpronounceable by a full-grown person and the gutturals in Arabic are as much beyond the vocal organs of most Chinese as the carols of a canary. Perhaps this inability and difficulty have had something to do with the little progress made by Islamism in China."
I found, as Dr. Williams supposed, that all of the extracts were from the Koran, and in the Arabic language.
The great interest of these inscriptions arises from their being in the Arabic language, the sacred language of the Koran, and thus an illustration of the manner in which the Mohammedan religion has carried the Koran throughout Asia and Northern Africa, and the Koran has carried the Arabic language.
The Koran is claimed by the Moslems to have been written in heaven by the finger of God Himself, and given to Mohammed by the Angel Gabriel. The inspiration is literal and verbal, and consists in the Arabic words, letters, and vowel points. The orthodox regard it as a sin to translate the Koran. Where it has been translated or paraphrased, as in the Persian, Urdu, and Malayan, it must be accompanied by an interlineation of the original Arabic.
The Emir Abd-er Rahman of Atcheen, in the island of Sumatra, lately exiled by the Dutch government to Mecca on a pension of $1,000 a month, is an Arab Mohammedan of Hadramout, and the Moslems of Sumatra use the Arabic language.
The Mohammedans of India, numbering some 35,000,000, read their Koran in Arabic and the Urdu language is largely made up of Arabic words. The Afgans, Beloochs, Persians, Tartars, Turks, Kurds, Circassians, Bosnians, Albanians, Rumelians, Vezbeks, Arabs, Egyptians, Tunisians, Algerines, Zanzibarians, Moors, Berbers, Mandingoes, and other Asiatic and African tribes read their Koran, if at all, in the Arabic language.
If we connect this fact with another, viz., "the profound regard of the Moslems" for the Old and New Testaments, we see the present and prospective importance of the Arabic translation of the Scriptures.
A Mohammedan tradition says, "That in the latter day faith will decay, a cold odoriferous wind will blow from Syria, which shall sweep away the souls of the faithful and the Koran itself."
It may be that the wind is already blowing from the steam printing-presses in Beirut, which are sending the Arabic Scriptures all over the Mohammedan world.
After the hurried visit to Scotland we left England for Syria via Marseilles and reached home November 25th, a glad occasion for me, and I entered upon my preaching and theological teaching at once. The unsettled feeling of eighteen months' traveling soon vanished in the quiet and order of home. During all this absence and travelling thousands of miles I had not met with an accident and hardly a detention. Our missionary brethren and sisters and our Syrian brethren and sisters gave us a hearty and loving welcome.
With Drs. Dennis and Eddy, and occasional lessons from Dr. Van Dyck, our theological faculty was fully organized. All the boarding and day-schools were prospering as never before and the country had not as yet begun to be depleted by the passion for emigration.
One of the missionaries, Rev. O. J. Hardin, remarked that "in 1876, the time of the Centennial Exposition, the Syrian discovered America." He did, and he has since discovered and done his best to populate Brazil and Mexico, every one of the United States and territories, the Pacific Islands, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and the Transvaal.
This passion for emigration is the modern awakening of the old Phoenician migrative spirit, after a Rip Van Winkle sleep of more than 2'500 years. In the olden time the mariners of Phoenicia, of Sidon and Tyre, Gebail and Arvad braved the perils of unknown seas, penetrated the Black Sea, the Atlantic, and the coasts of Spain, and even circumnavigated Africa and in all probability founded the ancient civilization of Central America.
Christianity was borne westward on this Phoenician wave. Then came a pause, and the centuries of stagnation and impotence, until the West came to the East' bringing new life and kindled again the old restless spirit of adventure and fortune hunting, until now about one-twentieth of the entire population of Syria has emigrated to foreign lands.
This has depleted the towns and villages of the brain and brawn of the land, weakened the little churches, carried off the graduates of the college and the boarding-schools, raised the price of labour and made it difficult in many places to find a labourer to do a day's work. Formerly a day-labourer earned twenty cents a day. Now he demands forty to fifty cents and gets it. Hundreds of emigrants have returned bringing large sums of money and have built fine modern houses, paved with marble and roofed with French tiles. And they want to have their children educated in American schools. Their old bigotry is gone. They refuse to be dictated to by priests and monks. Many are truly benefited by the change. One-third of the emigrants die, one-third remain abroad, and one-third return. But many of those who return are demoralized by European vices and go to their old homes to die.
Time only can solve the question as to Whether emigration will prove a blessing or a curse to Syria. The best men, those who achieve success in America and Australia, generally remain abroad and never intend to return to Syria, thus entailing on their native land a severe material and moral loss.
One of our severest trials is to see educated young Syrians, after a full theological course, dropping their work and going to foreign lands to make money easily. This seems inevitable and some day the unfolding of the divine providential plan with regard to this land may show us the reason why so many of Syria's choicest sons and daughters have been driven away to the ends of the earth.
About one month after our return from America (December 28th) the whole city of Beirut was in mourning for Mr. James Black, the English Christian merchant who for forty-four years had held aloft the standard of commercial integrity and a godly life. He founded the Commercial Court of Beirut and was its president for years. His word was regarded as being as good as his bond. He was a churchgoing, temperate, consistent Christian man, and being connected by marriage with the family of Dr. Thomson, was in warmest sympathy with the missionary work.
More potent than the sermons or the tracts of missionaries has been the silent influence of men like Mr. Black, who in the temptations of trade, the crookedness, duplicity, and corruptness of Oriental merchants and officials, have maintained their integrity untarnished until the highest and most sacred oath a Moslem can swear, even above the oath by the beard of the Prophet, is by the word of an Englishman. The Beirut merchants to this day (1909) speak with wonder of Mr. Black's having "sworn to his own hurt and changed not."
All honour to such pure-minded and upright foreigners who have thus taught corrupt and immoral men that there are men who will stand by their word even to their own loss and whose word becomes the synonym of truth, integrity and purity!
I once stood before a Moslem shop in the ancient city of Hamath and overheard a Mohammedan near by emphasizing his word by the most solemn oath he could command, and he finally clinched his assertions by swearing "on the word of Mr. Black, the Englishman in Beirut."
The winter was severe and in Kesrawan, February 12, 1880, a priest was overtaken in a storm by wolves and devoured.
Handbills were posted on all the churches, mosques, and synagogues stating that an election was to take place for members of the municipality.
The votes posted were:
|Christians of all sects . . . . . . . . .||820|
|Moslems of all sects…………….||440|
Property owners eligible to office:
|Christians……. . . . . . . . .||461|
|Moslems . . . . . . . . . . . . .||263|
This indicates that the Oriental Christian sects, Greeks, Catholics, Maronites, and Protestants are about double the Moslem population in number, This would appear to give the Christians the control, but the Turkish Waly of the province is ex-officio president of the municipality and has absolute control of its funds. It often happens that by orders from Constantinople, the entire fund, amounting to thousands of dollars collected by taxation for, street repairs and salaries, will be taken from the treasury and sent off to Constantinople.
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