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England by trading vessels and the government steam-boats, which arrive at Beyrout once a month. With Egypt there is daily communication ; Balbeck is but forty miles distant; the interesting country of the Druses is just in its vicinity; and a visit to the cedars of Lebanon forms an entertaining excursion to the tourist ; and the cave of St. George a pleasant morning's walk.
The principal export of this place, is silk, and it is very considerable, but though acknowledged to be of a superior quality, none of it finds its way into the English market. The greater part is sent to Marseilles ; and although this place is an entrepôt for a large quantity of our manufactures, principally hardware and printed cottons, into Syria, and by Damascus even to Persia, we receive no produce in return ; and our vessels, three of which were here at the time of our visit, were going to Alexandria for cotton. All this arises from a trifling circumstance that a few pounds, and a little trouble on the part of our silk manufacturers, could remedy: the winders or reels on which the Syrian silk is wound are smaller than ours, and consequently the hanks do not answer our machinery. How simple the remedy for this !—by sending out machines suited to our factories.
A heavy swell rolls into this open roadstead, so we hove anchor on the evening of the 11th, intending to coast to Jaffa.
There is the appearance of a large population along the shores and hill sides about Beyrout; and several picturesque villages, with their patches of cultivation, mosques, and marabuts, appear among the scattered groves. A light breeze off the land kept us on our course. Presently the moon rose in the most gorgeous splendour ; the night was exceedingly mild and calm ; and the stillness and strikingly grand scenery of all around was most imposing. The range of Lebanon which runs parallel with the coast for some distance, raised aloft its dark fantastic form, and threw the broken outline of its summits into strong relief, as the orb of night sailed slowly and majestically on her course ; now casting the lower hills into shadow, and now glistening on the pearly coronets of snow that cap the topinost peaks. Our vessel seemed to glide almost imperceptibly through the placid waters ; and as she rose and fell with the gentle undulations of the subsiding swell, and all was noiseless except the rustle of her cutwater, it required but few touches of the romantic to conjure up the idea 350
A MEDITERRANEAN STORM.
of a phantom ship, undirected by the hand of man. Even the hardy sailor appeared stricken ; forgot his hour of rest, and gazed in silence on the scene, for it was one of those absorbing pictures that by the depth and vigour of their colouring, and the associations connected with their locality, enchant and fix the mind, as by a magic spell, and leave it more tranquil than before. For myself I found it impossible to sleep during the early period of the night, and so remained on deck till near two o'clock in the morning, when we passed Sidon, which has of late years received a kind of minor celebrity, from its being in the vicinity of the residence of that extraordinary and eccentric woman, the late Lady Hester Stanhope.
About four o'clock I was suddenly awoke by a concussion of the vessel, which lay over so much that I was nearly tumbled out of my berth, with a noise of rushing waters, straining spars, flapping ropes, and howling winds on all sides. One of the sudden squalls to which this coast is exposed had commenced, and reached us but a few minutes before, barely giving us time to strip the ship to bare poles and ropes. Studding-sails lay unfurled, and sheets were uncoiled upon the deck, where every soul was now congregated, some almost in a state of nudity, and all in utter consternation at the extraordinary change that had come over the face of nature in so short a time ; for now, all was black, black night, sweeping tempest, and boiling surge; I cannot call it waves, for the water was comparatively smooth, so instantaneous was the first burst of storm. So black a sky. I never beheld; and could one spot be said to be darker than the rest, it was in the east, to which all eyes were now turned ; for every minute this black cloud seemed to open in the centre, and thence shone out a blaze of vivid light that appeared to give us a momentary glimpse into another world, from whose refulgent portals were hurled the sheets of fire that skimmed along the deep, brightening in their transit every nook and cranny of the vessel, and throwing a lurid glare upon the anxious faces of us all. And when this cloud closed, all was darkness as before. Often have I sat and gazed with admiration on the lightning's flash; but here I confess my feelings were those of awe, nay, absolute fear. The thunder was not so loud as I have heard it on land, probably from the absence of echo. For some short time the scene was truly terrific; and when every thing that skill and sea
manship could suggest was done, and that each renewed gust of wind sent our bulwarks under the water to a fearful depth ; and when our schooner righted but to bound forward without a stitch of canvas through the foaming brine, we had only to let her run and trust to the guiding hand of Him who
Presently the rain fell in torrents, and pattered like hailstones upon the deck, and about an hour after, the fury of the hurricane abated, and the wind lulled, as if from sheer exhaustion at the effort it had made.
March 12th. The weather cleared somewhat at day-break; but still the effects of the gale left the sea literally white with foam. The motion of the waters was not the regular measured swell of the ocean, but they were tossed and tumbled about as if moved by some hidden force beneath their surface. We endeavoured to continue on to Caipha, but, on passing Tyre, the wind again headed us, and we were obliged to put back and seek shelter within the reef of rocks which runs parallel with the shore, and forms the northern roadstead. The sea broke with great fury over these rocks, the tops of which just appear above the water; and whether placed there by nature or by art, were once the breakwater to the northern harbour of Tyre. The swell, however, though checked, was not arrested by them, but, leaping the barrier, continued on, though in diminished strength, into the basin, where we now rode in comparative security.
Before us lay the present Sour or Tsour upon the peninsula ; and, though appearing to exhibit much more of life, and a greater number of houses than we were led by accounts to expect, yet it, as well as every thing around, wore an aspect of dreariness and desolation. The ruins of the old church of Paulinus; some tottering walls towards the shore; a few ancient towers that mark the time of the Crusaders ; a white-domed mosque ; a few unconnected houses jumbled together on this sea-washed rock; and, rising over all, a couple of waving palms, whose plumy tops seemed to mourn over the surrounding desolation, were the only objects that presented themselves to the traveller, of the once proud, and still celebrated, city of Tyre. The shore is low and sandy, and
on its edge lay the wreck of a vessel half suuk in the oozing sands--a more appropriate and painful object could not possibly have presented itself, to remind us at once of the splendour and the ruin of all human enterprise. On the distant plain could be distinguished the remains of the ancient aqueduct, as well as several bands of Bedawees, mounted on their camels, slowly pacing onward to the desert. Shortly after our arrival, the British flag was hoisted by our vice-consul from the roof of one of the principal houses, and continued so during our stay.
13th. Although we still continued in quarantine, the governor allowed us to land and examine the ruins, accompanied by a guardian, to see that we did not endanger the health of the city by touching or coming in contact with any of the natives, a surveillance we had not the slightest objection to, and one, we were much more willing to obey than he was to enforce. It was remarkable, that one of the first objects which caught my attention on entering the small boat-harbour, was a large net hung out to dry on one of the adjacent towers, the ruins of which still exist in the remaining portion of the cyclopean wall that surrounds the north side of the town—even at the present day, “the top of a rock-a place to spread nets upon.”—Ezk. xxvi. 14. A crowd of the inhabitants were collected at the landing place, and the British consular agent came forward to welcoine us and offer his services. He is a Christian of the Latin church, and was dressed in a red striped silk gown or cassock, (the beneesh,) a flowing fur-trimmed cloak with wide sleeves, and a most sumptuous purple turban. The people, who are mostly Greek or Latin Christians, were all dressed à la Turk, but much more tastefully than any we had seen since we left Egypt. Their turbans were particularly full and bold looking, and their wide Memlook trowsers, and party-coloured cloaks, gave them an air of respectability, we did not expect to find amidst so much apparent wretchedness.
As an Irishman, I felt no small degree of interest on first touching the motherland, whose colony we claim to be. But when I looked around, and beheld its prostrate columns, its crumbling walls, its deserted cothon, where once the greatest of mercantile navies floated in security ; when I saw a heap of wretched houses rising without order or regularity from out the mounds of surrounding ruins-here, perched upon the remains
of some mouldering tower—there, sunk within the walls of a tottering church; and where the threatening scowl of the swarthy Bedawee frowned on us as we paced through the vacant streets ;I asked myself, was this, indeed, the joyous city, whose antiquity was of ancient days; the mart of nations; the strong city of Tyre; the daughter of Sidon; the sister of Bæotian Thebes; the mother of Carthage, and the correspondent of Egean. Could this be the city which pushed her colonies beyond the pillars of Hercules, even to Gades and the isles of the west; whose merchants were princes; whose traffickers were the honourable of the earth ; whose silver was heaped up as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of its streets. Where every precious stone was a covering: the sardius, the topaz, and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper ; the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle. Whose ships were constructed of the fir-trees of Senir, the cedars of Lebanon, and the oaks of Bashan ; and the benches of which, inlaid with ivory, the company of the Ashurites wrought out of the box-wood of the isles of Chittim ; and whose Sidonian mariners, with the sons of Arvad, * and Gebal, spread forth the sailf of the fine linen of Egypt, broidered with purple and scarlet from the isles of Elisha. Whose walls were manned by the Persian ; and in whose towers the Gammadians hung the shiled and the helmet, to perfect its beauty, and set forth its comeliness. Whose merchandise consisted in silver, iron, tin,|| lead, and vessels of brass ; and whose wares were emeralds, 1 purple, and broidered-work, and fine linen, and agate,
* An island in the Persian Gulf, sometimes spelled Arpad ; it is men. tioned in Gen. x. 18. For the extensive intercourse of Tyre, see p. 363.
† Supposed by commentators to mean the flags, or, perhaps, it may mean the awning or covering to the triremes.
I Believed to be Elis, or Hellas, a port in Peleponnesus, from whence some of the shells were obtained that formed the celebrated dye.
§ Mr. C. Fellowes, in his interesting work on Asia Minor, informs us, that he discovered at Perge the Greek shield carved as an ornament upon the upper part of the walls, and appearing as if hung from the top. This seems to offer a satisfactory explanation of this passage.
|| This metal is supposed to have been brought from Cornwall by the ships of Tarshish or Carthage.
Herodotus describes a pillar of emerald situated in the temple of Hercules, which during the night diffused an extraordinary light. Larcher