Asaad Is Cruelly Treated
27. The messenger, who went before to Cannobeen, had set out to go for
us a second time, and this morning early returned with the following
story:--Being met by a man near Batroon, whom he suspected to be from
Cannobeen, he inquired him out, and found him to be a messenger sent by
Asaad himself to his uncles and other connexions, to beg them to come
and deliver him. Asaad saw the man, and gave him his commission from the
window of the convent, without the knowledge of the patriarch, or the
others in his service. This messenger said, that Asaad was in close
confinement, in chains, and was daily beaten; and that the great cause
of complaint against him was, that he refused to worship either the
pictures, or the virgin Mary.
I had written a letter of mere salutation to Shidiak by my messenger,
which letter he enclosed in one from himself, and sent it on by his
brother, returning himself with the messenger from Asaad. This brother
of his, he is much afraid, may be ill-treated by the patriarch.
28. J., the messenger, called, and said, that he himself should not go
to Cannobeen, but twelve or fifteen of his other relatives would go and
endeavour at least to save him from chains and stripes. J. had been to
the emir Beshir the less, who lives at Hadet, begging him, (with a
present) to save his brother, if it should prove that he had suffered by
the suspicion or the resentment of the patriarch. The emir promised to
interfere--"But why," said he, "should Asaad go and join the English?
they are a people I do not love."
June 2. A youth of the neighbourhood said it was reported that Asaad
was a complete maniac; that he rent his garments, raved, reviled, &c.
and that he had been sent to the convent at Koshia, like other lunatics,
for a miraculous cure. This news was brought by priest Bernardus, of
Gzir, mentioned in Shidiak's statement.
3. The brother of J. about whom he was so solicitous, returned last
evening in safety, with the following letter in Asaad's own hand
"To our respected brother J. ----. After expressing my love to you, I
have to say, that your letter by your brother ----, arrived in safety,
and I have understood it. In it you and ----, inquire after my health.
May the Lord pour out his grace upon you, and follow you with his
blessings. As to me, I am at present in health, with regard to my
body, but as to other circumstances, your brother will give you
information. Love to cousin ----, your wife. Pray send me word
respecting you every opportunity, and may the Lord lengthen your days.
From your brother.
"ASAAD ESH SHIDIAK."
This letter is certainly genuine, and is a full proof of what nature the
insanity is, under which he labours. It has greatly relieved the anxiety
we felt from the report of yesterday.
From the verbal account, given by the lad who brought the letter, the
following are selected as the most important particulars. He entered the
convent on his arrival, and seeing nobody but the keeper of the
prison-room, obtained leave to go in, and see Asaad alone. He found him
sitting on the bare floor, with a heavy chain around his neck, and
firmly fastened at the other end into the wall. His bed had been
removed together with all his books and writing materials, and (what is
considered here the extreme of privation,) he was left without a pipe.
The lad continued with him an hour or two, without being discovered by
any one but the keeper. During the conversation, Asaad observed, that
not long since he was sent to Koshia, as a man possessed of a devil, and
that he escaped from that place and had arrived near Tripoli, when he
was taken by a party of Maronites, and brought back to the patriarch. He
had, since that time, been kept regularly at Cannobeen, subject
occasionally to beating and insult, from such as might call in to see
the heretic. We understood the man to say, that the patriarch even
instructed the common people to spit in his face, and call him by odious
names, in order to shame him into submission. Asaad gave his advice that
we should either send some one with a horse, and get him away by
stealth, or get the consul to interfere by writing to the pasha. The
letter written by Asaad was done through the contrivance of his keeper
for a small reward.