368 PICTURESQUE PALESTINE.
have within recent years been explored by W. J. Maxwell, C.E., and Rev. Daniel Bliss, D.D.
President of the Syrian Protestant College in Beirut, to a distance of nearly a mile; and the
wonders there found to exist are no doubt but a repetition of those in yet unexplored caves in
other parts of the Lebanon mountains.
From the temple at Hebbariyeh to Hasbeiya the distance is about one hour and a half,
which would make, altogether, six hours between Hasbeiya and Banias, while the distance in a
straight line between these two points is not more than twelve miles.
Hasbeiya is interesting, in the first place, on account of its situation (see page 370). The
valley just here is in the form of an amphitheatre, and on three of its sides the town is
surrounded by hills, which are covered with vineyards and olive-groves to their very summits.
The village is situated on both sides of the ravine ; and on a ridge, which projects at one point
almost to the bed of the torrent, stands the famous palace or castle which, no longer ago than
i860, was the scene of dark and bloody deeds (see page 371). Four-fifths of the inhabitants of
Hasbeiya are Christians, and the Protestant community is large and important. The American
missionaries have for many years laboured here, until this has become one of their strongest
outposts. Besides the profit of their fruit-trees, the people depend largely for income upon the
fine grapes which these hillsides produce, and which are converted into raisins, or into syrup
called dibs; for both of these articles find a ready sale. The village itself has not many
attractions ; yet the mission church and school, the mosque with its minaret, the pointed arches,
the crumbling walls richly overgrown with beautiful creeping plants and vines, the tall cypress-
trees about the palace, and men and women everywhere engaged in the struggle for existence,
together with the natural features already pointed out, will no doubt interest the traveller who
can devote time to this place, which is considered one of the most flourishing towns of the
One cannot, however, visit the palace without a shudder at the thought of the horrible
cruelties which were perpetrated upon innocent and defenceless people but a score of years
since. Those massacres, which startled Europe and sent a French army to the Lebanon and a
British fleet to St. George's Bay, nominally carried on by the Druses but secretly instigated by
the Turks, are but a single item in the catalogue of deeds of violence and shame for which the
government that has so long oppressed Syria is responsible. On the occasion now referred to,
during "that sad battle-summer of i860," the Christians of Hasbeiya fled to the castle and
implored the protection of the garrison. The Turkish officers in charge gave them " a written
guarantee, pledging the faith of the Sultan for their personal safety, on condition that they
delivered up their arms." This they did, and were confined in the castle, where they remained
seven days, suffering meantime very much from hunger and thirst. At the close of this period
of terrible suspense the officers of the garrison opened the doors to the murderers, and the
slaughter of one thousand victims was attended with horrors too revolting to be either written
or told. The Turkish colonel in command here at the time was subsequently, under British
influence, tried for this offence and shot in the streets of Damascus.