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Mount Hermon, in Lebanon, is also referred to as the "Hill of Bashan"—Deut. iii. and iv.
"The hill of God—the hill of Bashan,
An high hill—the hill of Bashan,
Why leap ye, ye high hills,
Yea the Lord will dwell [in it] for ever."—Ps. lxviiii. 15, 16.
It was late in the evening when we arrived at our inn, sorely wearied with our two days' ride up and down the steep rocky paths of Lebanon. We then began to think of spending the winter at Beyroot. It appeared a delightful place of abode, and surrounded with agreeable walks in almost every direction. In the town we could at all times purchase articles of European luxury and convenience, as well as the varied productions of the East; and by living outside the town, in the mulberry gardens, we should at the same time enjoy the advantages of pure air, and an agreeable situation.
In the course of a few days we succeeded in hiring a house on the .east side of Beyroot, in a small mulberry garden. The house belonged to a well known dragoman—Michael Hainey, who was a good specimen of his class—clever and ready, but without education. Though unable to write, he could speak about half a dozen languages, his English being tolerably good. We were very pleasantly situated, about twenty yards from the edge of a high precipice, at the foot of which the long swell of the Mediterranean unceasingly broke. The house fronted northward, towards the sea, and our prospect, as we sat in the house, was splendid; embracing the range of mighty Lebanon, which extended parallel to the coast as far as the eye could reach. From the house-top our view was still more extended and beautiful. Looking west and south, the town and its far extending suburbs, mingled with the rich foliage of the mulberry trees, lay before us; and eastward the majestic range of Lebanon reared its many heads, some of them capped with glistening snow.
THE SAME HOUR IN DIFFERENT SCENES.
Early one morning I received an intimation that a friend's infant-son was dangerously ill, and that she wished to see me, for a few minutes, as speedily as possible. It was Christmas day; and part of our large circle were engaged to join a family party about nine miles distant from our habitation. A detachment of brothers and sisters volunteered their company upon my expedition, and charged with sundry commissions from papa and mamma, we started on our way. The weather was cold and foggy, and by some unaccountable negligence, I had omitted to protect my feet sufficiently from the influence of a hard frost, which, in spite of all my efforts to maintain circulation by exercise, chilled my whole frame, and threatened to stagnate all my thoughts and feelings.
At length we reached the abode of sickness. An ominous stillness prevailed, and my friend's countenance wore, instead of the usual sunny smile of welcome, the pallid impress of anxiety—almost of despair. With stealthy step we entered the darkened chamber, and saw stretched out on a pillow, the tiny sufferer, moaning almost as much from the severity of the needful remedies, as from the pain of disease; the glazed eye saw not; the deafened ear heard not; while the clenched hand, and convulsive quiver seemed almost to implore a swift release from such a fearful conflict. It was the last survivor of a little flock already gathered to the bosom of the Great Shepherd, and as I beheld the yet young parents bending in speechless agony over this frail blossom, I felt with what varied hopes and fears the same hours were fraught to different individuals. Commending the watchers to One who can sympathise with, and sustain all at once, we pursued our course.
My kind friend had in the midst of her grief perceived my deficiency of shoe, and furnished me with some delectable snow boots, and with the genial warmth these imparted, my views of the world and its inhabitants, notwithstanding the thick fog, began wonderfully to brighten. Upon such very minute circumstances does the medium of our vision sometimes depend. The shops were all shut, and everything would have worn a holiday aspect, had the yellow mist permitted an extensive prospect: however we walked and talked, listened and looked, as groups of well-dressed passengers overtook us; or half-opened doora afforded a peep at the divers arrangements made for keeping "Merrie Christmas" in the good old fashion. Here and there we passed a narrow lane whose dismal inhabitants looked all the more wan and squalid by their contrast to the well-fed happiness of richer folks:—and the heart ached at the scanty meal, and the ill-wanned apartments which most belong to such abodes of penury;—to say nothing of the tokens of vice, which occasionally disfigured the scene.
A small series of insignificant adventures served to beguile our progress till we drew near the village of our destination, and we bethought us of mamma's messages to her aged pensioners.
The first was to an old dame residing in an alms-honse, a noted adept at grumbling. As we came in sight of her dwelling, we concluded our speculations upon her probable cause of complaint this day, by demonstrating through the most undeniable logic, that it surely would be impossible to find a single "but" in her lot. Alas! how dim of apprehension were wo youngsters! When we entered her snug apartment, the old lady had just returned from service at the church, and looked so clean and comfortable, and withal, so pleased to see us, that we hastened to congratulate her upon her many luxuries.
"Why, yes!" she replied, "I can't deny but that I have many things to be thankful for, but you know they as wear the shoe, feels the pinches."
"Well but, dame, do tell us where your shoe pinches, perhaps we can help to ease it?"
"Oh no, my dears, you can't: for you see I felt obliged to go to church this morning—all the gentry like to see us there of a Christmas day unless we are ill—and I could not well excuse myself on that account being pretty well for an old woman;— but I felt it hard to be obliged to go out when I would rather sit by the fire, warm and cosy-like."
"Now really, dear dame!" exclaimed my brother, laughing at the serious tone in which this dire misfortune was set forth,— "If that is all your grievance, I do think you must be well off. —Were you not snug and warm in church?"
"Why, yes! I can't deny that, and I can't read, so perhaps I I might have learned less at home than I heard from the minister."
"Most prohably. Good bye, dame, save up your tears for your next real trouble, and do not waste them upon the hardship of just walking across this pretty church-yard and sitting near a good fire for an hour to hear the blessed words of scripture!"
"Ah well, so I will, my bonnie lad!" said the old woman as we left her smiling, with our mother's Christmas remembrance in her hand.
Our next errand was to a cheerful body who was always happy and contented with everything. Stricken in sorrows, as well as in years, she was ever recounting her mercies instead of her trials, and made the best of every hard-earned comfort which, her industrious daughter could scantily provide for her.
One more wretched household we had to visit, where the drunken parents left their neglected offspring to starve or not, as charity permitted, and where infant wailings mingled painfully with the tones of petulance and anger among the elder children.
"What opposite characters dwell side by side!" remarked, our sage philosophy, as we turned into the avenue of ancient trees which sheltered our endeared family mansion!
Evening was advancing; light streamed from the windows of the drawing-room, and the sound of merry voices met our ears as we hastened to discard our winter wraps; then mingling in the social circle, all seemed peace, and joy and love; there the white-haired patriarch welcomed his numerous descendants, and headed the hospitable board well laden with the bounties of the season.
We need not describe the Christmas dinner; it was excellent; and when our beloved grandsire reverently rose with his fervent "Father of mercies! for all thy bounties we thank thee! grant us thine everlasting love for the Saviour's sake!" we young people withdrew to amuse the little ones, and leave our seniors to their own grave disquisitions. One by one we grew weary and stole away from " blindman's buff" to book or picture for rest, till night approached and we left our aged relatives to enjoy their own quiet repose.
Alone in my chamber, I remembered my beloved friend's morning anxiety; and knew she had passed the live-long day by her child's sick coach, dreading the approach of death, while ministering to the wants of an exhausted little frame. What sorrow could equal a bereaved parent's nngniah?
A prison rose before me, and thought reverted to the condemned criminal, whose slowly passing hours were wafting him surely —swiftly to the presence of the Eternal Judge; and the agony of guilt could only be equalled by the agony of remorse!
But how came he there? His hours of leisure were spent in plotting crimes from which society recoils, and for which public justice demands satisfaction. It is bad to waste time: it is infinitely worse to abuse it!" What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul."
The bell tolled for midnight prayers at the neighbouring Roman Catholic church, and its lugubrious knell, reminded me of the vast concourse of ignorant devotees who were on this day betrayed to moral destruction, by emissaries of Satan clothed in raiment of light. The murderer of the body forfeits his life for the deed:—what doom must await the murderer of the soul! It is wrong to lead the blind man astray: oh, how unpardonable, to lure the souls of our fellow-men into that broad road which leadeth to eternal destruction!
In different localities how varied the employment of a single day! In the polar regions, half frozen, science turns all her energies to the difficult discovery of the bare means of existence. In the Torrid Zone, slavery toils laggingly under the lash of the white men's cupidity. In brighter spots the faithful missionary thinks of home as he gathers his dusky congregation to hearken to the song sung by angels to certain shepherds abiding in the field, who kept watch over their flocks by night:—"Peace on earth, good will to man." Oh! why is not this an universal chorus! We have all things richly to enjoy, yet our selfishness murmurs, "All this availeth me nothing so long as I see Mordecai sitting at the king's gate." "The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy;" and like the Queen of Sheba, "there is no more spirit in us" when we see the superior privileges of others. "There are wars and contentions among you;" and why ?—" Good-will to men" is not cherished.
Human life, under whatever aspect we view it, is so checquered with shadows, that its bright gleams are the more