gies and resources were dissipated in selfish schemes of policy, and building
fantastic palaces. His family, all of whom were Druses, became extinct about
one hundred and fifty years ago.
On the death of the last of his line, the aristocracy of the mountain elected
an Emir of Hasbeia as chief governor, and this dignity, under the title of " Ha-
keem el Djebal," has since lineally descended in the Shehab family from father
to son. This illustrious family came originally from Shabha, in the Haouran ;
and are lineally descended from the Standard-bearer of the Prophet Mahomet.
I could not learn from any of the Emirs the date of their arrival in Syrva ; they
spoke of it vaguely as " several hundred years ago." It would seem that they
came as conquerors, since they obtained large possessions with feudal privileges
in the country about Mount Hermon, and the sources of the Jordan. Their
castles and the villages dependent on them are named Hasbeya and Rascheia,
both of which I have described in a former chapter.
The Emir Beschir is now the first man among the tribes, nominally, though
a prisoner : to him belong the beautiful palace of Beteddeen, and the sovereignty
of the Lebanon. He was able, it is said, to summon 15,000 armed men to his
standard at three hours' notice.
When the Egyptian forces invaded Syria in the late war between Mehemet
Ali and the Porte, the Emir remained neutral for some time, neglecting the
orders of the Sultan to attack Ishmael Pasha, and at the same time abstaining
from any communication with the latter until he had possessed himself of Acre,
and his cause appeared to be triumphant. Then, in an evil hour, he invited him
to his palace, and professed himself his faithful ally.
Ishmael accepted the invitation, and so arranged his plans that on the even-
ing of his arrival at Beteddeen, 15,000 Egyptian troops encamped on the hills
around. The Pasha then explained to the Emir that he wished the mount-
aineers to give up their arms, and the poor Chieftains were obliged to comply.
The Egyptian had already obtained by spies and bribery a return of all the
arms on the Lebanon, and his troops, surrounding each village, now required
the complement assigned, whether truly or otherwise. The Maronite priests,
I know not why, exhorted their people to comply: the Druses resisted. This
has already changed the character of these sects: the disarmed Maronites
have become tunid and unwarlike, the Druses proportionately bolder, and mora
The Egyptians remained long enough in Syria to make a most favourable
reform, and from this fact may be estimated the state to which the Turks had
reduced it. The name of Mehemet Ali became a terror to the Bedouin in his
desert, and to the Druse upon his mountain. Commerce returned to the seaports,
security was bestowed on the public ways, mines were worked, crushing im-
posts abated. I am no panegyrist of Mehemet All's, but I think it only just to
his character to mention these circumstances, which are universally admitted
in the East.
It was only this forced disarmament of the mountain tribes, and the dreaded
Conscription, that turned Syria against his cause, and enabled the languid and