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LIFE IN A DRUSE VILLAGE.
cism as well as theology, deepening if not ous undertaking, for it consisted in par. always clarifying the channels of thought taking with one's fingers of elaborate in many directions, but especially in the repasts, first at the houses of the two direction of Christian philosophy. They sheikhs, and then with one or two of the acted in this way as a new circulation of potables, and which consisted generally spiritual air all around, rather than in con- of an immense pyramid of rice, boiled veying any new body of truth. The very mutton, stewed chicken, sour milk, honey, ridicule of Ca yle testifies to the influ- eggs fried in oil, and other dainties. ence which they exercised over aspiring There are always two sheikhs in a and younger minds. The very emphasis Druse village - one who looks after its with which he repudiates the Coleridgian secular affairs, while the other manages metaphysic probably indicates that he had its spiritual matters; and I very soon disfelt some echo of it in his own heart. covered that they regarded each other
JOHN Tulloch. with feelings of some jealousy, as the
heads of rival factions, and that it would require the exercise of some diplomacy to maintain such a strict impartiality in my
intercourse with them as should preserve From Blackwood's Magazine.
the friendship of both. The whole village may indeed be said to consist of two
huge families, of which the two sheikhs WHEN my house was completed, and I are the respective heads; and though they moved up from Haifa to take possession bave intermarried to any extent, this bas of it, the whole village of Dahlien turned served rather to complicate than to con. out en inasse to receive me. As we wound ciliate the family differences which were up the pretty valley, at the head of which likely to arise under such a state of things. it is situated, the scene was both novel The great facility of divorce among the and picturesque. The female part of the Druses increases this liability to discordpopulation, clad in bright array of many ant domestic relations. A Druse, when colors, lined the highest terrace; while he wants to change his wife, has only to the men, some on foot and some on horse. tell her to go back to her parents; and she back, came down the winding path to is obliged on the spot to decamp, enlisting meet us,
the latter, in spite of the naturally the sympathy of her own inother rugged nature of the country, forcing their and the rest of her family against the horses to attempt impossible equestrian heartless husband who has turned her evolutions, and dashing here and there out. I must say, however, that upon over the rocky ground, with right arm these occasions there is a stronger inthrown back and extended, after the man- stinct than that of family — one which ner of jereed-players, and the former manifests itself under another forin in drawn up in line, and making profound more advanced countries under the name salutations as we passed; while the wom- of “woman's rights." I have seen sev. en set up the shrill
, ululating scream eral village rows now, and all the women which is usual with them when they desire are invariably on one side, and all the men 10 give vent to their feelings of pleasure on the other. Whatever happens when and satisfaction, or to celebrate any great high words begin, woman flies to the de.
fence of woman, with a sisterly heroism My first days were pretty well taken which is truly remarkable; and the males up holding levees, and giving and receiv, finding their tongues utterly useless in the ing hospitality. Having had some expe- encounter, generally end by coarsely tak. rience of the curiosiiy and unintentionally ing to their fists. However, I will say for obtrusive habits of the people, I had taken Dahlieh that it is not worse than other the precaution, in order to secure privacy, villages in this respect - indeed I think to have a liwan or reception-room par. it is better — and that the people, taking tially detached from the house; and on the them as a whole, form a remarkably or. simple divan which was its sole furniture, derly and good-tempered community; the I passed the greater part of the first few storm soon blows over, and in a few hours mornings, dispensing syrup-and-water and everybody is apparently on terms as affec. coffee, making acquaintance individually tionate as if it had never happened. with nearly all the inhabitants, and find. Under these circumstances, lise in a ing out as much as possible about the Druse village may be made dull or inter. condition of local affairs generally. The esting in the degree in which one iden accepting of hospitality was a more ardu. I tifies one's self with the interests of the
inhabitants. People wonder what one can | been assessed at a very high rate to pay fiod to do in this out-of-the-way corner of an annual sum in cash, and they know not Palestine; but practically we never seem which way to turn. The amount assessed to bave a moment to spare. In the first is in most cases so excessive, that the place, what would be a trilling operation money.lenders themselves are appalled at elsewhere, bere becomes an important the prospect of lending the villagers the matter of business, attended with all man- necessary sum, even at exorbitant rates ner of difficulties. The purchase of half of interest, taking the village itself as sean acre of land, for instance, takes days, curity, if their security is so heavily burand sometimes even weeks: the discus- dened with taxation that it may prove a sion of the price is a serious matter, and white elephant on their hands. When the must not be hurried; and when that is news was first promulgated this year, the arranged, the process of securing a valid sheikhs of all the villages in this part of title is one requiring both time and money, Palestine united in a protest, and have and probably a journey to Haifa, and diffi- sent deputations to the authorities to seek culties there involving backsheesh. If the relief. But so far their efforts have been value of the land is ros., the time taken to unavailing : those who refused the engagebuy it is at least as many days, and the ment for the payments were threatened incidental expenses perhaps as many more with imprisonment if they did not sign it; shillings. Everything included, however, and they have in most instances done so, the best arable land in Carmel costs on an though they are in despair at the prospect average from 20s. to 30s. the acre; but before them. In some cases they have there are thousands of acres on the moun. succeeded in borrowing the money at tain susceptible of cultivation which are thirty or forty per cent. ; but this means now lying waste. These may be appro- handing themselves and their lands, body priated by any one who chooses to go to and soul, over to the extortionate moneythe expense of clearing, and of cultivating lender, whom they will never be able to them for three consecutive years. He repay. In other cases, they are waiting may then receive a title from the govern in helpless misery to see what will turn ment, provided always he is already a land- up when the money is not forthcoming, holder in the village within the limits of But all unite in believing and hoping that which the waste land lies.
practically it will be found so inpossible I have found it impossible to obtain to meet these new demands, that they will from the natives of Dablieh any estimate have to be abandoned by the government of the extent of land, cleared and un. and a new scale substituted.
The only cleared, within the village boundaries; but fault, indeed, in the new system is, that in it probably does not fall far short of five almost every instance the amount fixed thousand acres, of which they only culti- has been too high. The substitution of a vate about seven hundred. Of these, three fixed assessment for the old farming sys. hundred are in the plain of Esdraelon, and tem, which gave rise to so many abuses, form the main source of the revenue of is to be commended rather than other. the village: the rest are on the mountain ; , wise; but unless the present scale is reand the uncleared land affords pasture for duced, it would seem as though it would their cattle and goats, of which they have complete the ruin of the country. When large herds. The government tax, which I came to take up my summer abode in they are called upon to pay in cash upon Dahlieh, I found the village in the throes this total, amounts to about £320 a year. of financial difficulties arising from this
The substitution of yearly cash pay cause, which, however, I hope they will ments for the payment in kind of the tenth now succeed in tiding over. of their crops has only been introduced Indeed these poor villagers seem always this year, and has produced consternation in a peck of troubles from one cause or throughout the country. The villagers another, ard the appearance of a couple of have never been in the habit of having any zaptiehs or rural police, a not uncommon money of their own. They live largely by occurrence, fills them with alarm. Atone a system of barter, and the responsibility moinent these gentry appear, to hurry of their taxes has hitherto fallen upon the them with the payment of their taxes; at money•lenders of the nearest town, who another, to carry off some of their number farm ibe taxes from the government, and as conscripts for the army; at another, to to whom the villagers pay a share, gener- look for deserters: and the life of the ally an exorbitant one, of their crops, secular sheikh, who is responsible at all which includes the government tenih. points for his village, is no sinecure. The Now all this is changed; the villages have | inilitary grievance is perhaps the one they
feel the most, and yet it is difficult to see by the Turkish authorities is impossible. how it can be remedied.
As infidels, they find existence in a Mos. The Druse nation is divided into three lem army intolerable, especially when sections, of which by far the greatest in- they can win their liberty so easily by habits the Jebel Druse, a mountainous escaping to their co-religionists beyond and somewhat inaccessible district to the the Hauran. Their desertion is the cereast of the Hauran, where the Turkish tain prelude to a visit by the zaptiebs to authority is little more than nominal, the village from which they were conwhere no conscription is attempted to be scripted, and it thus becomes liable to a forced, and the taxation is of the lightest. contribution, the amount of which depeods In fact, the Druses there, who are gov. more or less upon the good pleasure of erned by one of their race appointed by the head of the police. The unhappy the government, are practically indepen- family to which the deserter belongs lives dent. The rest of the nation inhabits the for the future under a constant financial Lebanon, with the exception of these few pressure, thus dearly payiog for the libvillages in Galilee. The Lebanon Druses, erty which the defaulting member has who come under the international instru- purchased at their expense. It seems at ment known as the Réglement du Liban, first sight hard that the Druses of these are also free from conscription, excepting few villages should not be put upon tbe for militia service in their own country, same footing as the Christians, or their and, like their neighbors the Maronites, more fortunate kinsmen in the Hauran enjoy the protection of the treaty powers. and Lebanon. But this would introduce The small fraction in Palestine, so far a precedent which the government very from enjoying the privileges of their co- naturally refuses to establish, as it would religionists in the Lebanon and Jebel apply equally to the Metawalies, the Ao Druse, are in a worse position than any of saryii, the Ismailians, and other non-Mosthe fellaheen amongst whom they live, lem sects in the empire, wbich also are whether Christian or Moslem. The Chris- not Christian; and it would give rise to tians are exempt from military service by great dissatisfaction among the Moslems, virtue of their creed, besides enjoying the who would refuse to see the expediency protection of the Church to which they or justice of exempting infidels of this belong, which, in its turn, is under the category from the conscription to which ægis either of France or Russia. The they were themselves liable.
So great is Moslems, though liable to conscription, the horror of military service among these are at any rate in religious sympathy with people, that a few days ago a man who the government, and are more or less had just been drawn as a conscript came favored in consequence.
to me and offered to bind himself to my The Druses of Palestine have none of service for five years in any part of the the privileges of the Christians or the world if I would purchase his discharge; advantages of the Moslems. They are and when, after satisfying myself as to regarded as a sort of pariah class, and the character of the man, I accepted his despised as infidels by both. Hence they offer, his gratitude, and that of his fam. are robbed with impunity by their Mos ily, was unbounded. This reluctance to lem neighbors, oppressed without possi. serve is not because they are bad fighters bility of redress by the authorities, as - the experience of the Turks in their being too unbelieving in matters of reli- numerous conflicts with the Druses proves gion to be deserving of any one's sympa- the contrary — but because they object to ihy; while their denial of the true faith being specially selected by the officers to does not protect them, as it does the be placed in the front of battle, as having Christians, from being called upon to less valuable lives than the Moslems, and serve as soldiers. The consequence is, because they have to endure so much that there is weeping and wailing every petty persecution at the hands of their year in some eighteen or twenty villages comrades in the army; at least this is the which are in this exceptional position, explanation given by themselves. when soine of their young men are drafted The behavior of the zaptiehs when they off for service, which arises not merely visit these villages is often harsh and from the grief of immediate separation, tyrannical in the extreme. They quarter but from the anticipation of future trou- themselves in the houses of the inhabi. ble; for, in nine cases out of ten, not a tants, who are obliged to keep them and year elapses before these recruits find their horses free of charge as long as opportunities of deserting, and seek their they choose to remain, and to submit ic refuge in the Jebel Druse, where pursuit their overbearing conduct without remon
strance. On one occasion, when a ser. “Oh yes, he had. He has been plan. geant and two men were at the village, a ning for it for some time, only he could man came to me with his breast bleeding not find an excuse. I
suppose he has with blows which he had received from made one now. He is in love with an. one of the men, I was listeniog to his other woman, whom he wishes to marry." tale, when my servant appeared, white, or Then I saw the baby put into the crarather amber.colored, from indignation. dle, which a man took up, followed by the He had protested against a zaptieh - the wife still siniling, and by the mother-insame zaptieh who had struck the man law raging, and by the sheikh sullen and watering bis horse at a trough filled with dignified, and they marched off to the water drawn especially for my horses, and mother-in-law's house, which was hence. had also been beaten. I at once sought forth to be the house of the discarded out the offender, and in the heat of the wife, who thus promptly evacuated her moment paid him back in his own coin. husband's premises “bag and baggage,” The sergeant then came up, and, afraid of to make room for her successor. Shortly the consequences, sought to propitiate after, the sheikh reappeared, wrote out a
After making the man stand in the paper – which I afterwards heard was a sun for an hour in the presence of the vil- paper of divorce — and proceeding to the lagers, I finally agreed not to make a for- mother-in-law's house, followed by a mal complaint to his superior officer at mixed crowd of men and women, solemnly Haifa, on condition of his apologizing read the document, and the separation publicly to the man he had struck, as well became a fait accompli. From this examas to my servant, which he did with a ple, and from what I have been able to great show of humility.
gather, I incline to the opinion that Druse Besides events of this public nature, women have no hearts where love affairs there are others of a more private charac- are concerned, though they seem to have ter, which serve to relieve the monotony strong maternal instincts. However, I of life in a Druse village. The other day, have not been long enough among them aroused by a violent uproar, I went into to be able to pronounce upon this point the street, and found a handsome young definitely. The sheikh himself is not fellow, one of the sheikh's sons, surround. immaculate in respect of proceedings of ed by a posse of screaming women, whose this nature; but his conduct is shrouded abuse drove him to such a frenzy of rage in mystery, which I have not completely that he seized a huge stone and would solved. It was brought to my notice in have hurled it at them, had not his father, this manner. A few mornings ago my whom I was in the act of questioning as servant came to tell me that a young man to the cause of the tumult, rushed to the wanted to see me in the kitchen. I went rescue. With great difficulty he succeeded there, and found a youth of two or three in quelling the disturbance. Meantime I and twenty hanging on to the kitchen observed with surprise the young man's table as if it were the horns of the altar. wife, a remarkably pretty young woman, Near him was an elderly woman weeping, whom he had presented to me the day with whose aspect I was familiar, though before, standing in a verandah, apparently I had never asked her name. To my asquite unconcerned at the excitement which tonishment, I was now informed, for the was raging against her husband, leaning first time, that she was the sheikh's wife. against a post, with her baby in her arms. In all my intercourse with that worthy, She looked on, and smiled languidly. I although' I had several times dined and said to a man standing near,
once even slept in his house, I had never “What is all the row about? At any so much as heard of her existence, but had rate, the wife does not seem to take much always been waited upon by his daughter. interest in it."
Now it appeared that she was his second “ What would be the use?” he replied. wise, that she did not live in his house, “He has just divorced her, and all the that she had had children by a former women are abusing him for it. His fa- marriage, that the young man before me ther is angry with him too, for she is his one of them, that an incident had niece, and his own first cousin, and it taken place the preceding night which had brings discredit on the family.”.
rendered the young man obnoxious to the “ Then why does he do it?" I asked. sheikh's sons by his first wife, that his life “She is a very pretty young woman, and was in danger, and that he had fled to me he seemed to have no such intention yes. for protection. terday when he introduced me to her as At this point the spiritual sheikh aphis wife.”
peared, - his son had married a daugh.
ter of the old lady's, and sister to the if his mother chose to follow him there, young man. I took him into the licvan, and that wben the storm blew over he and requested him, in Scotch law par. could come back. So he was packed off lance, to " condescend” upon particulars. to Esfia. The mother did not follow him, As far as I could make out, the temporal but, for some reason best known to bersheikh's sons were jealous of their step- self, remained in hiding for some days. brothers, and especially of this one, who Whenever I asked where she was, I was made too free of his step.father's house, told vaguely "in the woods.” When she and they had brought against him a base. did reappear, she took up her abode with less accusation. Pressed to define this, the spiritual sheikh, and is always very he said that the night before the young glad to come and do a day's work for me man had lost his cow, and that he had - drying figs, making mud plaster, and searched for her everywhere, and, among so forth – whenever I can provide her other places, on the top of the house of with work. Meanwhile, the sheikh ber the sheikh's brother, which was, in fact, husband comes and calls, and sips bis the bedroom of the young wife of that coffee, and complacently regards his bet. worthy, — and that there he had been ter half thus earning her living by drudge found and soundly. thrashed by the irate ery without honoring her with his notice. husband and his nephews, the sheikh's He has a grown-up daughter by this wife, sons, who had also taken the opportunity to whom be seems much attached, and of thrashing their step-mother. I sug. who appears to divide her affections with gested that cows did not usually roost on great impartiality between her estranged the tops of houses, and that the suspicions parents. What puzzles meis — but I have of the jealous sons and their no less jeal- not ventured to ask the question – why, ous uncle might be well founded. This with divorce so easy, they continue to live the spiritual sheikh, whose sympathies on these terms. The old spiritual sheikh, were all with his daughter-in-law's family, who is a most venerable and charming denied. At all events, he said that the old man, though not without bis faults, sheikh's sons had sworn to bave the young was not deterred in early life from followman's life, that in their present frame of ing the prevailing custom; he had also mind they were sure to keep their word, divorced bis wife; and her successor is and that his only safety was to remain in what would be called in America the my kitchen. Unfortunately the temporal " boss woman of the village. No tones sheikh was absent, so I sent for his sons ; so shrill, no language so abusive, no enbut they declined to come, sending word ergy so indomitable as hers; she is the that they felt ashamed. Next day the head and front of every row, and was sheikh appeared, I represented to him the especially active in behalf of her daugh
I impossibility of my boarding and lodging ter-in-law's family. But she has a warm his step son indefinitely, and asked him heart and generous nature, and is untiring whether he could not protect him. He in her efforts to render me some service said he could as long as he himself was in return for the one I rendered her in in the village, but not during his absence. saving her son from the conscription, and I suggested sending the culprit off to the indeed, if I would only let her, would Hauran. He said that in that case his wife, gladly undertake the management of my the youth's mother, would follow her son. wbole household, and slave herself to As he seemed to speak of this contin-death, without any other recompense than gency with regret, I suggested that she that which she would derive from the should be sent for to meet her husband constant exercise of authority. During in my house, and a reconciliation should the first weeks of my residence here, she be effected. He said he desired nothing and her whole family invaded my back
So I sent for the old lady, but she premises to that extent that I was obliged declined to come. I now began to feel to place restrictions on their visiting, or that I was getting so deeply immersed in rather trespassing propensities. Still Druse domestic relations, that I was be- the whole village seems to consider the coming confused by them. But there was place common roperty. They take a the lad still in the kitchen, and his blood- great pride and interest in all our little thirsty step-brothers outside, and some efforts at beautification and landscape thing had to be done. Finally, the sheikh gardening, being much puzzled and struck said that he thought that if the young thereby; and whenever they receive visits man went to stay with a Christian of my from the sheikhs of neighboring villages, acquaintance at Esfia he would be safe, which is bappening constantly, they are and he himself would not be heart-broken instantly brought to see me, and if I am