The Arabic Press Of Beirut, Syria -- By: John Orne

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 051:202 (Apr 1894)
Article: The Arabic Press Of Beirut, Syria
Author: John Orne


The Arabic Press Of Beirut, Syria

John Orne

ABOUT seventy years ago, when the first Protestant missionaries visited Beirut, this ancient city had a population of only about eight thousand. It had no schools or teachers, and hardly any one there could read. The people were in gross ignorance. No printing-press existed in the country. There were no carriage roads for easy transit, no conveniences of civilization, and scarcely any commercial intercourse with Europeans. Missionaries were looked upon as enemies to be opposed, rather than as friends to be cultivated. Now the population numbers about one hundred thousand. The city abounds in schools conducted by the various religious sects, as well as by the government. There are churches and substantial stone residences furnished with the improvements of modern civilization. There are macadamized streets, fine roads leading to the suburbs, and comfortable public conveyances to towns and cities in other parts of Syria. The city is lighted with gas, and supplied with water by means of an aqueduct. Educational institutions of various grades and for both sexes abound, furnishing instruction to many thousands of youths. There are a dozen or more presses for printing Arabic books and newspapers. These presses are under the management of the Protestant and Catholic missions, of the government, and of private individuals. According to recent information a few of these presses are as follows: the American, carried on at the Presbyterian Mission; the Jesuit, carried on by the fathers of the Jesuit Mission; the

Turkish government’s lithographic press; those of Khalil Sarkis, Rizkullah Khudra, Yusef Shelfoon, Hannah Nijjar, Khalil Effendi Khouri, and others. Some of these presses confine their issues to newspapers and miscellaneous matter of the lighter sort, while others essay to perform all kinds of work attempted by a large and enterprising book-publishing house.

The American Press was founded in 1822 at Malta, to which island the missionaries had fled from the political troubles in Syria. Afterwards, in 1834, it was removed to Beirut, where it became firmly established and has remained ever since. The issues from this press of works on theology, history, science, general literature, and of educational textbooks, maps, cards, and other facilities for imparting instruction, besides works of a miscellaneous character, have been steadily increasing for more than seventy years, and the catalogue of its publications is ever lengthening its lists. It has become not only a decided power in Syria, but has extended its influence to Egypt and other parts of Africa; to Persia, India, China, and elsewhere among the Arabic-speaking people.

The equipments of the...

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