Tour From Beirût To Aleppo In 1845. -- By: W. M. Thomson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 005:18 (May 1848)
Article: Tour From Beirût To Aleppo In 1845.
Author: W. M. Thomson


Tour From Beirût To Aleppo In 1845.

Rev. W. M. Thomson

Oct. 25th. About 2 o’clock last night we were waked up by some horsemen sent by the governor of Sâfetâ to demand who we were, and what was our business. They at first talked loud and impudently,— wondered how we dared to enter their country without permission, etc.

After holding a private conference with our horseman from Abood Beg, they came and apologized for their insolence—said they were not sent to look after us, but, as howalies upon the Sheikh. They however left us before morning, and were no doubt sent by the governor as spies upon our proceedings. The people throughout these regions are remarkably suspicious, and will never give an answer to the simplest question if they can avoid it. Perhaps the utter secrecy of their religion develops into universal reserve. I suspect however that it is more a result of general insecurity and universal oppression, under which they have groaned for ages. If these poor wretches see us take notes, they make off as fast as possible. When we arrive at a village we are assured, with an infinite profusion of oaths, that the people have nothing either to eat or to sell—have neither bread, eggs, chickens, barley, straw, nor anything else. But by little and little, confidence is established, and diplomatic relations settled on an amicable basis—eggs and all other eatables for man and beast are discovered and brought out with surprising effrontery, and being actually paid for, the owners appear to be as much puzzled as delighted. This state of things speaks of enormous oppression and robbery on the part of the rulers, and the testimony is corroborated by a thousand other witnesses.

It was well we did not attempt to reach Sâfetâ last night. By daylight, with the castle in full view, we could not find the way without a guide. We have again come upon trap, and the traveller from the south finds himself involved in a labyrinth of impracticable gorges, and passes that are impassable. As on the south of N. Kebeer, the rents and seams made in the strata by the obtrusion of trap dykes appear in general to run east and west, and hence it is difficult to get across the country from south to north.

Sâfetâ is a considerable village—better built than usual, and has 101 taxable Greeks and 58 Moslems. The district is large and populous. There are 332 villages containing 310 taxable Moslems, 5820 Ansairiyeh, 815 Greeks, 81 Maronites; which multiplied by 5 gives 35,075 as the entire population. The Burj, which we have had in view for two days, occupies the top of a conical trap hill which it entirely covers. The sides of this hill are built up by heavy masonry of Roman work to the height ...

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