Sketches, by Benjamin Disraeli

Eden and Lebanon

I Found myself high among the mountains, and yet amid a series of green slopes. All around me sparkled with cultivation — vineyards, gardens, groves of young mulberry trees, clustering groups of the sycamore and the walnut. Falling around, the cascades glittered in the sun, until, reaching the bottom of the winding valley, they mingled with the waters of a rivulet that glided through a glade of singular vividness.

On the broad bosom of a sunny hill, behind which rose a pyramid of bare rock, was a most beautiful village — flat cottages with terraced roofs, shaded by spreading trees, and surrounded by fruit and flowers. A cerulean sky above; the breath of an infinite variety of fragrant herbs around; and a land of silk and wine; everywhere the hum of bees and the murmur of falling streams; while, on the undulating down, a band of beauteous children were frolicking with the kids.

The name of this village, the fairest spot in the region of Lebanon, is Eden, which, rendered from the Arabic into the English tongue, means a ‘Dwelling of Delight.’

I ascended the peak that overhung this village. I beheld ridges of mountains succeeding each other in proportionate preeminence, until the range of the eternal glaciers, with their lustrous cones, flashed in the Syrian sun. I descended into the deep and solemn valleys, skirted the edges of rocky precipices, and toiled over the savage monotony of the dreary table-land. At length, on the brow of a mountain, I observed the fragments of a gloomy forest — cedar, and pine, and cypress. The wind moaning through its ancient avenues and the hoarse roar of a cataract were the only sounds that greeted me.

In the front was a scanty group of gigantic trees, that seemed the relics of some preAdamite grove. Their grey and massive trunks, each of which must have been more than twelve yards in girth, were as if quite dead; while, about twenty feet from the ground, they divided into five or six huge limbs, each equal to a single tree, but all, as it were, lifeless amid their apparent power.

Bare of all foliage, save on their ancient crests — black, blasted, riven, and surrounded by deep snows — behold the trees that built the palaces of Solomon!

When I recall the scene from which I had recently parted, and contrasted it with the spectacle before me, it seemed that I had quitted the innocence and infancy of Nature to gaze on its old age — of exhausted passions and desolate neglect.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 15:19