1800-1899 A.D. Assyrian History

1850s: Memoir of Rev. Henry Lobdell, M.D.
by Rev. W.S. Tyler, D.D.
Posted: Friday, September 22, 2000 01:33 pm CST

Here are passages from Rev. Henry Lobdell, M.D. memoir from the book "Memoir of Rev. Henry Lobdell, M.D.: Missionary of the American Board at Mosul".

"Diyar Bakir (Amid), Mosul and Baghdad are the three principle cities on the Tigris, each a walled town of about 40,000 inhabitants, and situated at intervals of nearly 300 miles from each other; the first toward the source of the river, the last some 200 miles from its mouth, and Mosul about midway between them. Diyar Bakir and Baghdad, the first and the last, are situated at points where the two rivers Tigris and Euphrates approach most nearly together, and Mosul at a point where the two rivers are most widely separated." (Page 141) giving a general picture of the region

“ Around the region of Sidon, Tyre from one side and Damascus from the other, lay one of most delightful circles of Christian brethren and sisters that can be found in this imperfect world. Of the antiquities, among which are ruined bridges, aqueducts and temples of Baal, by far the most striking are the rock-hewn inscriptions near the mouth of the Nahr el Kalb (Dog River), in which the successive conquerors of the country, the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Romans, and the Turks, have recorded their names in monuments characteristics, and enduring as the everlasting mountains. There Dr. Lobdell’s eyes first rested on those cuneiform characters with which he was afterwards to become so familiar.” Page 102-103 while in Syria on his way to Mosul.

“The taxes being promptly paid, under the influence of the missionaries, it was for the interest of the Pasha to protect the Protestants in the undisturbed enjoyment of their worship. Yet during the great fast of Ramadan, they (Assyrians) were not allowed to sing, and their meetings for prayer on the roofs of their houses were sometimes disturbed by the howling of the fanatical Moslems.” Page 182, now to the end of the passages in Mosul and other villages.

“A Moslem thinks nothing of beating a Christian any time. I was called the other day to see a Christian skull, after a Mussulman (a Muslim man) had given him a public drubbing. He dared not go to the Pasha for redress, although in America such an act would subject the offender to a year in the State prison.” Page 202

In a letter to Dr. Perkins from Mosul on November 3, 1852, Rev. Lobdell wrote; “I took up the journal of the American Oriental Society, and it occurred to me that I might ask a question or two of you regarding your article on a visit to Mosul, with profit to myself at least. I do not write as a reviewer, but as an inquirer. My first query is: On the supposition that the river washed the walls of the city in the days of its glory, have you any way of accounting for the existence of the iron clamped dam across the Tigris near Nimrud. It seems pretty evident, that the dam, the remains of which are still magnificent, must have been made in order to turn the water near Selamiyeh over the plain. It would have given great facilities for irrigation. You are aware that quite a garden lines the river now, near the bend at the northwest angle of the plain.... The native idea, that it (the dam) was a footpath for Nimrud to visit the Hamam Ali, or Sulphur Springs, the other side, will hardly satisfy a Yankee.... What do you think of the idea, that the “exceeding great city of three days’ journey”, has reference to Jonah’s preaching through the various streets? If that idea is tenable, Nineveh would have been large enough without Khorsabad and Nimrud.” Page 204-205

“The sun was just setting, when we returned to Baadri, and the shepherds were leading their immense flocks from the hills to their folds. All carried arms. The Kurds and the Arab respect no right but that of might, any more than the Czar or the House of Hapsburg. The shades of evening cast a wild gloom over fort and tree and plain; a silence disturbed only by the bleating of the flocks and the sullen growl of the watchdogs on the roofs. A few years since, this quite spot was the scene of a butchery of the most horrid kind. The cruel Kurd has found the Sultan, influenced by England, too strong for him ; and it is hoped the world will never again hear of such atrocities as those of Bader Khan Bey.” Page 218

“He (Rev. Lobdell) was also much interested, at this time, in investigating the composition and significance of the names of Assyrians and Babylonians which we find in the Scriptures, and the relations of the liturgies of the Nestorian and Jacobite churches to that of the ancient and venerable church of Syria, or Antioch. He discovered, to his surprise, that the Jacobites and Nestorians had essentially the same liturgy, and that they held it so sacred that even papal power and cunning had not been able to induce converts from those churches to relinquish it.” Page 259

“In the court of the Jacobite church was a rough palm tree, hanging with green dates, and in that of the Syrian church a fine olive tree. The extreme scarcity of trees in the Tigris valley renders them of great value.” “The ruins in the suburbs of Bartullah (a village near Mosul) are quite extensive. Grievous taxation has scattered the inhabitants. Indeed, the Turkish system of raising revenue is utterly opposed to the prosperity of the people. Often, instead of a tithe, a half of the annual crops is wrenched from the poor villagers.” Page 268

“ In Sheikh Laua, near Ain Kawa, springs are abundant, and irrigation is easily effected. I never before saw so rich a spot. The Christians of the plain call it ‘the paradise of the world’; but it is ‘paradise lost’. How sad to see it cursed by the occupation of the lawless Kurds!” They wanted to treat us as their servants, boldly declaring that they were much better than we. They even said on Sunday, ‘This hakeem (doctor Lobdell) will give us medicine, for he is afraid of us.” “There are about fifty Chaldean families here, who are bought and sold as slaves. Every Kurd, young or old, in the village has a certain number of these Christians at his disposal. He can take fruit from their trees, milk from their goats, sheep, and cows, lebn (yogurt), butter, eggs, etc., from their houses, money from their pockets, and flog them at his pleasure. If he choose, he can sell the right thus to rob and beat them to another. It is not only virtually, but in reality, slavery, white Christian slavery.” Page 270

“I have heard of the attachment of the Laplander to his snows, the Scotch Highlander to his mountains, the Swiss to his Alpine glaciers; but I can not conceive of a stronger love of country than these Nestorians cherish for their little plots of ground far down amid the volcanic peaks, among which their fathers were driven to find a refuge from the hordes of Tamerlane.” Page 287

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