CHURCHILL, Charles Henry.

Mount Lebanon. A Ten Year's Residence from 1842 to 1852

describing the Manners, Customs, and Religion of its Inhabitants with a Full & Correct Account of the Druse Religion and containing Historical Records of the Mountain Tribes from Personal Intercourse with their Chiefs and other Authentic Sources.

London: Saunders and Otley, 1853 Stock Code: 136241
£2,250.00
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"An important work, rare" - Blackmer

Second edition, same year as the first. Author was British consul at Damascus and wrote several influential regional studies including a major biography of Abd-el-Kader. The present "work is not an account of Churchill's stay in the Lebanon but an amalgamation of information, some of which is based on a Maronite chronology. An important work, rare" ( Blackmer). Desirable in the cloth.

Churchill (1807-1867) was descended from Gen. Charles Churchill, brother of the first duke of Marlborough, through his natural son Charles. His father, also Charles Henry, bucked the family tradition of military service becoming a functionary of the East India Company in Madras, but his son made a return to the army, seeing service in Portugal with the 60th, and during the Carlist Wars with de Lacy Evans' Anglo-Spanish Legion; "His adventurous nature was plain, and his liking for irregular service found another outlet when, in 1840, he was seconded to the British Expeditionary Force to Syria" (Lewis, "Churchill of Lebanon", Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society, XL, 3-4, p.218), thus began Churchill's involvement in the region. He arrived in December 1840, too late to catch "the excitement of the earlier fighting" but would have been employed in the Palestinian phase of operations, and in 1841 is recorded as Assistant Adjutant-General in Damascus, " but before the year was out he had left the army to serve for a few months as Vice-Consul. His Syrian career had started". He quickly clashed with the Turkish governor of the city, Najib Pasha, reporting that he was corrupt and his government rotten. Najib retaliated with rumours of "misbehaviour with a Moslem woman and of secret intrigue with Druze and other notables of the region" (p.220). An enquiry was held and Churchill cleared, but soon afterwards he quit official service and Damascus and went to live "as a country gentleman in Lebanon". He had been left 10,000 in consols by his uncle, the interest on which formed the basis of his income, but he was a skilled trader and compiled a diverse portfolio including real estate, silk and mules, also "he chose an excellent place to live, Bhourra is some fifteen miles from Beirut, and just off the Beirut-Damascus road, and is therefore well situated for the kind of trading venture in which Churchill indulged" (ibid.).

From the proceeds of these multifarious activities he was able to "maintain some not inconsiderable pretensions" which together with his "love of intrigue, ill-controlled temper and imperious manner" caused considerable problems for both British and Turkish officials. In 1857 he led an armed attack on his antagonist in a property dispute, and ended up in court for causing a "fight or riot" (p.221). However, "he was clearly a strong personality and became a man of consequence in Lebanon", marrying into the Shebab family, "the clan that had provided the Emirs of Lebanon since 1700". Such mixed marriages were rare, but more unusual even than the marriages of his daughters to Christian Emirs "were Churchill's relations with their enemies, the Druze sheikhs, being said to have been their 'confidential adviser and military counsellor'" (p.222), and implicated by at least one contemporary observer in the planning of the key attack on Zahle. He was to drop his connection with the Druze cause when they "turned to unrestrained and barbaric massacre" of their Christian opponents.

The present work was written with the intention of filling the need for a history of the country and "whilst a great deal of his material was taken from the History of Emir Haidar, one of his Shehab connections - Churchill's Arabic would seem to have been very good - and whilst the quality of the book would not be highly rated by a scientific historian, it forms a fascinating and valuable source of information on the history of Lebanon and its people". Churchill died intestate, and his inheritance was disputed, much of the available information on his life being derived from the subsequent legal proceedings. He was buried in Beirut "where his headstone still stands amongst others of his generation", but he probably would have preferred to be remembered by the verses carved in Arabic on a marble slab on the bridge he had built at Bhoura; "Churchill Bek built this bridge/So that people might cross safely./When he bought this are it was a wilderness,/ And he made of it a paradise./He was nobleman of noble line,/ Relative of a great English General:/And his name was Marlborough".

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Description

3 volumes, octavo. Original purplish brown cloth, title gilt to the spines, elaborately panelled in blind on the sides, cream surface-paper endpapers.

Illustrations

Portrait frontispiece lithographed on India paper mounted, and one single-tint lithographic view to each, folding engraved map to volume I, all half-titles present. Errata slip present at the Preface to volume I

Condition

Spines sunned, and those of volumes II and III showing mild signs of damp, hinges of volume I skilfully repaired, front endpapers of volume II with tidemark at the foot, and occasional damp spots in the gutter, light browning throughout, occasional light spotting particulalry at the plates, overall a very good set.

Bibliography

Atabey 247 for a mixed set of second and third editions; Blackmer 353, Quaritch third edition.

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