Attempts Made To Procure His Release
After hearing all this, we went directly to the consul to inform him of
the case, and to urge him to an interference. He consented, that we
should first procure some one to write a firm and consistent letter to
the patriarch, demanding by what right he had taken a man from an
English employer, and under English protection, and imprisoned him
unheard, &c. intimating, that if the man was not soon given up,
would be done.
Toward evening, J. came again to inquire what we had concluded on. When
he found what step we had taken, he seemed much alarmed for his own
safety, and begged us not to proceed, for he should be immediately
suspected as the mediator of the affair, and should be in danger of
being persecuted as such. He mentioned, as a justification of his fears,
that the keeper overheard Asaad when he recommended that course to his
brother, and that the keeper, when inquired of, would of course mention
the fact to the patriarch. Instead of the measure we were about taking,
he recommended to apply to the emir, through one of his relatives, who
was our mutual friend, and to this we consented. It is, however,
probable, that the object of J. is not so much to avoid danger, as to
put his friend the emir in a way to get a small present.
5. J. has been to see the emir, in order to persuade him to intercede
with his uncle, the emir Beshir, but the former was not at home, and
therefore the latter was not consulted. J. then went to the emir M. but
found him quite averse to do any thing, saying, that to liberate a man,
who had become English, would never do. He next saw Mansoor, the
brother, and asked him if he knew that Asaad was in close confinement.
"Yes," answered he, "and he may end his days there, unless he can learn
to behave himself better." One characteristic mark of a heathen is, that
he is "without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful."
J. says, that his brother has told him in addition, that Asaad himself,
on the whole, wished not to have the consul interfere, but that some one
might, for the present, be sent every week or two, to see how he got
along, and in the mean time, he hoped to make his own escape, for that
only a few days before, he had loosed himself from his chains, and got
out of the convent, but not understanding the path, he became afraid to
proceed, and returned of his own accord.
6. Went again to confer with the consul with regard to Asaad. When we
mentioned the fact, that Asaad was under a sort of oath of obedience to
the patriarch, an agreement which all make who are educated from the
funds of the Ain Warka college, he seemed to think differently of the
case, because, though an oath to bind the conscience, as in this case,
can never be binding, and is neither acknowledged by Turks or English,
yet, in the opinion of all Maronites, it justifies what the patriarch
has done. This English protection, they would say, is of no avail, since
he was under a previous engagement to serve the patriarch. The consul
thinks the case, if presented to the chief emir, would be rejected
without consideration, on the ground, that it was ecclesiastical, and
not civil; and if presented to the pasha, he would exact fines from many
innocent convents, and other wise oppress them, without perhaps, after
all, procuring the release of the prisoner. He would prefer some secret
mode of effecting the object.
Priest Bernardus, of Gzir, already mentioned was on a visit to the
family below, and sent up to beg the favour of a sight at Shidiak's
statement. I at first refused, but on a second application, and being
assured that the priest was a friend of Shidiak, I consented, and
invited the man to come and take with me a cup of coffee, which he did.
It will be observed, that this Bernardus was one of those, who wished
Shidiak to say that his faith was like that of the Roman catholic
church, although it should be a falsehood, saying that the patriarch
would bestow on him a pardon for the lie. The priest acknowledged to the
family below, that Shidiak's statement of that affair was correct.
14. Received a line from the friendly Maronite bishop, to whom I had
written, (April 8,) who says that he has been assured, probably afresh,
that Shidiak is in prison, and suffers beating.
15. The emir A. came and conversed a length of time on the case of
Shidiak. I offered to reward him well for his trouble, if he would
procure his release, which he has promised to attempt.
21. J. came to say, that he had never seen the emir A. who had
endeavoured to persuade his uncle to write to the patriarch. The uncle,
however, refused, but added, "You may write in my name, and say, that
it is my pleasure, that Shidiak should be liberated." The messenger has,
therefore, gone with such a letter.
22. This morning, came Tannoos Shidiak, accompanied by a young emir,
saying, that they had knowledge of our attempt to liberate Asaad,
through the medium of the emir A. "It will not do," said he, "you will
not accomplish your object so." They both said, that the emir A. was a
great liar, had a little mind, and little, if any, influence with his
uncle. In short, they proposed a more excellent way, viz. that we
should give them also a good reward to engage in this noble work of
24. The messenger from the emir A. arrived from Cannobeen, with the
following letter from the patriarch, in answer to his own.
"After kissing the hands of your honourable excellency, &c. &c. With
regard to your slave, Asaad Esh Shidiak, the state into which he is
fallen, is not unknown to your excellency. His understanding is
subverted. In some respects he is a demoniac, in others not. Every day
his malady increases upon him, until I have been obliged to take severe
measures with him, and put him under keepers, lest he should escape from
here, and grow worse, and infuse his poison into others. Two days ago,
he succeeded in getting away in the night, and obliged me to send men to
bind him and bring him back; and after he was come, he showed signs of
returning sanity, and begged to be forgiven. But he does not abide by
his word, for he is very fickle; and the most probable opinion
respecting him is, that he is possessed of the devil. However, as he
was, to appearance, disposed to yield me obedience, I treated him kindly
and humanely, and used every means to promote his permanent cure. This
is what I have to communicate to your excellency, and the bearer will
inform you further. Whatever your excellency commands, I obey, and the
Lord lengthen your life.
JOSEPH, Patriarch of Antioch."
27. A youth from Ain Warka informed us, that he had seen a letter in
Asaad's own hand-writing, saying, that he had yielded obedience to the
patriarch, and professed again the faith of the Roman catholic church.
This report, excited great joy, he says, at the college. We are rather
pained by the news, because, if Asaad has done this, we are almost sure
it has been done insincerely, and merely to escape the pains of his
persecution. The same person says, that a relative of the patriarch at
Cannobeen, has been in the habit of writing, every week or two, to the
college, to give the news of what was done with Asaad from time to time,
in which he spoke of his chains and stripes, and so on. He also
observes, that many people have boldly questioned the right of the
patriarch to proceed to such extremities with the members of his church,
saying, they saw not, at this rate, which was chief governor of the
mountains, the prince, or the patriarch.
July 1. One who seemed certain of delivering Shidiak, if he should set
about it, went, with our recommendation to Tripoli, from which place he
hopes to have a convenient communication with Cannobeen.
14. The youth who went to Tripoli to attempt something, came back
17. Application has been made by Phares to the emir M., but he refused
to do any thing for Asaad, alleging that it is an affair of religion,
and belongs exclusively to the patriarch. Phares says, that
notwithstanding the superstition and anger, which his mother exhibited
when here, she has more than once said, that the English are better than
the Maronites, for they take an interest in the fate of Asaad, while the
Maronites all seem to care nothing about him, whether he is dead or
alive, happy or wretched.
Phares, as well as others, says, that Tannoos is Asaad's enemy from
jealousy. Asaad is younger than Tannoos, but has been much more noticed.
This Tannoos could not bear, and has therefore been quite willing to see
him disgraced and punished.
Phares observes, that Tannoos was quite as favourably disposed to
protestant principles as Asaad, but the moment Asaad took the start of
him, he fell back, and is a much firmer Maronite than ever. He seemed to
be affected at the death of Mr. Fisk, but inferred from it, that God did
not approve the efforts of the protestants in this country. The death of
Mr. Dalton, also, his former pupil, probably confirmed this feeling.