In the last century twenty large cedars still remained, (Voyage de la Roque, tom. i. p. 68 - 76); at present they are reduced to four or five (Volney, tom. i. p. 264.). These trees, so famous in Scripture, were guarded by excommunication: the wood was sparingly borrowed for small crosses, etc.; an annual mass was chanted under their shade; and they were endowed by the Syrians with a sensitive power of erecting their branches to repel the snow, to which Mount Libanus is less faithful than it is painted by Tacitus: inter ardores opacum fidumque nivibus — a daring metaphor (Histories v. 6.).