Tth Life and Adventures of Joseph Emin




XV. 1763 (continued).

[Return with Heraclius to Tiflis, "the city of discontent" - Their conversation about the Catholicos Simon - Emin’s plain-speaking - "Saul loved David" - Letter from Archbishop Jonas - 40, 000 ready to fight for him - Intrigues of Zaza Beg - Brave Purseck, whom forty Georgians cannot overthrow - Emin in confinement - Supposed to be a magician - Taken out of Tiflis to a camp - Emin’s servant and his adventure in search of him - Another trick on the part of Heraclius. ]

He had been in Kakhet three weeks, when the prince was called upon some business, and sent Emin word to get ready, and go in company with him to Tiffliz, the city of discontent, out of which, from its first building to the time when he was there, no man ever came without being disrespected, distressed, or insulted. After some days past, the prince sent word he wished to speak with him, and desired to see the letter from the patriarch. Emin obeyed with pleasure, and said to the prince, "I can very easily perceive, that your Highness’s heart is changed, having intelligence of Simon’s plot, who has desired of you to take the letter from me, lest I should shew it in Russia as a certificate that I have been complimented with the title of Prince of Armenia, as the three churches of Etzmiatzin are in some measure under your protection; and then to invent some calumny to lay hold of me as your Highness shall think proper. It is to be hoped, " added he, "that your Highness will take into consideration, that both Ivan and Turan will be angry with you; that the Grand Signior will put all the Armenians to the sword in Constantinople; and who knows the consequence of encouraging Emin the Armenian, who has neither money nor troops!" The prince had very justly observed before in Tiffliz, that if Emin had made the patriarch a present of a great sum, his Holiness would not be so rigidly inveterate against him, who made God Mammon and himself the God of the innocent Armenians; and said, that his Highness is not better than the patriarch, if he hears him; that is to say, the prince was as fond of money as the patriarch. On this speech, the prince said to Emin, "Are not you afraid to speak so boldly before my face?" He said, "he should be, if he had been treacherous and false like his neighbours. " "If you kill me, " he added, "the world will say Heraclius was afraid of a single Armenian, who fell a sacrifice to the good cause of his country; and that each drop of his innocent blood, by the invisible hand of God, will become fire and sword to those who have been the instruments of his death. As for me, who am a soldier, it is the same to me whether I die to-day or to-morrow; but woe to those cowardly wretches, intoxicated with black ambition, who never even dream of dying!"

This expression seemed to move Heraclius a little; and he said, "Emin Aga, what can I do? Your own patriarch, with all the bishops and monks are against you; the best part of my subjects are Armenians, who look on them as prophets and apostles; if I proceed with you, without minding what they say, they will think me no more a Christian than the Grand Signior. Do you remember, that at our first meeting I told you a little money would be of great use; with money we could make them as dumb as if they had no tongues in their mouths. " Emin said, he was very glad he had none of it, for he was sure the prince would be the first man to take it away by force; his English friends better knew the character of the Georgians, else they would have supplied him sufficiently; but hearing prince Heraclius’s name and truly Christian conduct, they relied upon him, and suffered Emin to come to him. "Now, Great Sir, " added he, "all this you hear, and seem as if you were affected by it; but, take my word for it, that your Asiatic nature will not let you rest, till I become your prisoner. " The prince said, "I do love you, Emin, I assure you. " He answered, "Saul loved David. " Then gave him the patriarch’s letter, made a bow, and went away.

When he came home, he found that thirteen Curd Armenians had brought a letter from archbishop Jonas, of St. John the Baptist, mentioned before, to this effect: "The bearer Melih Stepan of this place, of the province of Curdistan in Armenia, will bring you this letter; you will receive from him 600 Zarmabab zekins, to defray your little journey expences, and make your coming to us as expeditious as possible. Desire the prince, with God’s blessing and my prayers, to give you twenty Georgian horse, for the satisfaction of the people here, and for their assurance that he is your friend. Should he be prevented by the enemies of union, from complying with your request, never mind it; God will do you justice; but be not backward in receiving the sum abovementioned; take it, and spend it at your pleasure: when you find the prince will not favour you with his assistance, make yourself easy, think nothing of it. I received your letters mentioning the malicious proceeding of those wolves who pretend outwardly to be the disciples of our Saviour, but who have always been instrumental in the downfal of our harmless nation, and who are no better than tools in the hands of infidels. I have been working for eleven months past by writing, and have very easily brought over to your interest and heroic way of thinking, all the great Armenians in Turkey, Constantinople, Smyrna, Caisary, Tokhat, Arzerum, Diarbeker, (in which last place he was born), Vuer, &c., &c. - they are citizens. As for fighting men, you shall have 40, 000 to meet you at the end of six days journey; the Assyrians and Yezdy Curds are likewise ready to join us. Do not say to the Georgian prince, that they must have money; for to make you more composed in mind, they all have taken their oaths on the holy scripture, and by the bloody cross of our blessed Saviour, that they will fight for it under your command ten years, without any expectation of money; as for provisions and ammunition, they likewise have their own well provided. The Turks are not the same as they were an hundred years ago; without fighting, they will give tip all; and as their towns are not fortified, you may suppose the taking of them will be very easy. A superstitious prophecy has taken root in their minds, that their sovereignty is near its end, and that their fighting against Christians will be of no signification. They have also heard of your coming from the Russian empire, strongly recommended by its blessed Empress to the prince of Georgia, and the Turks will never dare to shed a Christian’s blood; that since your coming from England by the way of the Mediterranean, three years have elapsed, and that, when you exhorted the people of the villages you passed through, every Armenian betook himself to arms; that even the women were ready to fight, provided Heraclius would engage to stand by you. Let this suffice in writing. If you should not succeed with Heraclius, my fatherly advice is, that you never despair; but go on with all your might, feat no manner of danger, put your trust in God; whether you succeed or not, you will have fame: but I am in hopes you will be the means of freeing your poor distressed countrymen, from the chain of subjection, and from affliction. I pray God to protect and preserve you, to the honour of Armenia, and remain, &c. &c. Jonas the Monk, the servant of Christ. Dated 1763, in the sacred house of the son of the Carrin woman, Saint John the Baptist. " (Carrin woman signifies Elizabeth, Saint John’s mother, to whom the Armenians generally give that appellation. )

The Armenian Malich Stephen, who brought the money, happened to fall into company with the Georgian Zaza Beg, as officer or servant of Heraclius, from Iravan to Tiffliz, bringing the letter from Simon the patriarch, who, with hopeful flattering words, pumped every syllable out of Stephen, by telling him, that the prince was making proper preparations to send Emin away, with some thousand horses to Mush, Saint John the Baptist’s monastery. They arrived in town at the same time, when the poor man told Emin with joy, what the officer said, and that he thought it no harm to tell the Georgian of the six hundred pieces of gold. Emin laughed at him, told him to go away from him, and keep the money himself, lest the prince should snatch it away from him; nor would he be so mean as to accept of it, and act the play of an impostor by robbing Honan of his money. "The prince, he added, will probably be apprized of it by that fellow Zaza, who is his spy, and very cunning; to-morrow or next day, you will hear of it?" Stephen said, "Zaza told him on travelling, that besides what he told before in the letter from his holiness to the prince in your favour, he is to give you forces to take first Iravan, and then proceed to Mush?" Emin said, "You will see in time, the consequence of it to prove the contrary. " The villanous Zaza, instead of 600 zekins, named 6000; setting the poor prince’s heart in agitation, to study how to get the cash; seizing the letter of the holy Simon Catholicus, for a pretence to seize upon Emin.

Two days after, one of his Marin servants, a native of Astrakhan, who had been discharged before, mounted on horseback, armed with bow and arrow, being sent on purpose to breed a quarrel with his other servants, by the wicked contrivance of Zakaria Varapet, the archbishop of Tiffliz - (many suspected the prince had a hand in that low business, but Emin cannot credit it) - As the fellow was passing by the door, he began to use bad words, and one of the Curd Armenians lately come, named Purseck; of the first family of Mush, being a person of great courage, returned the language, which immediately brought on a real battle; the distance between them was ten yards. The ungrateful man, Marcus, took out his bow and arrow, and aimed twice at him, but missed, as Emin was standing on a terrace looking over, to whom the fellow let fly two more arrows, which missed again, struck against a stone wall, and broke to pieces. The brave Purseck standing below, asked Emin for leave to return the assault; and he had no sooner opened his lips to say, Drive the ungrateful fellow away, than Purseck drew his scymitar and ran at him. Marcus seeing him like a loose lion, turned his horse’s head to run away. Purseck despairing to come up with him, at the distance of ten yards let fly his sword after him like lightning, and the end of it took the poor beast behind, cutting him from the top up and down twenty-four inches, and almost ten inches deep. Marcus, extremely terrified, galloped precipitately to Zakaria, who was waiting, ready to stir the fire of mischief, and cried out for joy, "The business is done, Emin is caught in the trap!" He then took the fellow and the beast to the prince, who sent for Emin and Purseck. When they were asked the reason of the fray, Emin answered, "The reason, Sir, you know best, I told you two days ago, when you asked for Simon Catholicus’s letter, and declared that you loved Emin - who now is in the way of reaping the benefit of your love – Oh! my good prince! I pity you with all my heart; do your worst, that you may not disoblige the holy Simon. The horse which is maimed, had been my own property, and was given away by me to the ungrateful man, who not long ago was in my service. If you think this a breach of peace, I am ready, according to the Mosaic law, to give tooth for tooth, but not a man for a beast, especially one who, not long ago, was sitting knee to knee by you. I am sorry to say, I cannot save your good ears from the calumnies of the unworthy, false, treacherous inventors. "

All this passed in the Turkish language, when Carim and other khans, messengers, or officers of note, who had been in the late Nadir’s service, were present. One of them, pretty much advanced in age, said, "He speaks vastly like Nadir, when in Melich Mahomed Khan’s service at Mashad, a city of Khorasan, which provoked Melich to order him to be bastinadoed. " The prince, at that time, was sitting high up stairs, laying his right elbow on the wooden rails; while the author, with the Curd Purseck, were standing below in the open court under the sun, like malefactors to receive sentence. The prince ordered his executioners to take Emin’s sword from him; but Purseck standing close to his left hand, with sword and shield kept the fellows off, who were about forty in number; and told Emin, that they should not come near, if he would but give the word which behaviour frightened the fellows, and the prince rose in a hurry from his place, and cried out, "Pull down the man!" but they dared not; and were just going to gather a mob. Emin quieted Purseck, alleging, that they were not among Mahomedans to behave in that manner; "please the prince’s fancy, and let us suffer ourselves to be taken. " The prince hearing that, said to the Georgians, "Be gentle with Emin. " He therefore, giving his sword up to them, said, "Sir, you did not give me this sword, which has been in your service these fourteen months without reward; and the giver of it can give thousands instead of it. " Then the bravos fell on Puseck, began to strip him, and tried to pull him down. When almost naked, after a struggle of three quarters of an hour, he stood like a tree immoveable. The prince, from the varanda, called out to them to let him alone; rebuking his people, and saying, "It is a shame, that forty of you are not strong enough to bring down a single Armenian. " They, in the agitation of their blood, said, "Please to come down yourself and try, for he is made of iron, not of flesh. " When the hurly-burly and jostling was over, Heraclius asked the Armenian lion "Why he cut the horse in that manner?" He answered "My master ordered me to defend myself. " The prince said, "How far would you go to obey him?" Purseck said, "To the last drop of my blood. " Then the prince said, "Barakalah yegeed!" as much as to say, Well done, brave boy! Then the prince was going to make it up, but was interrupted by the malignant angels Zakaria the bishop and others, alleging, that he would disoblige the holy patriarch if he did not confine Purseck, to which he agreed with reluctance.

Emin was ordered to his quarters, with a single officer for a guard, and Purseck to another place; but he was released the next day; and, by order of the prince, his arms were restored to him, and all his things. Two days after, the prince sent two Georgians with compliments, and demanding his two small boxes, with the keys. They contained his books, clothes, and papers. In two days more he sent back the boxes, but kept the letters from different parts of Armenia, and detained the books to examine them; for poor Heraclius had been weak enough to have been persuaded that Emin was a conjurer, whose secrets were in those books; by which, and without money, he charmed the prince, and made all the Armenians acknowledge him as their sovereign. They being at a loss for a person who understood English, sent for two Roman Catholic priests, one of them a German, and the other an Italian, who, by the title-pages, could just tell that they were books on the art of war. Emin laughed at their ignorance and barbarity in thinking that Europeans could be so stupid as to publish books of conjuration, when they scorn the very believers of such nonsense; but he did not then know the wise prince’s intention, which had a double object, first, to satisfy his people, and then himself by finding out, if he could, the six hundred pieces of gold sent from bishop Hovnan for Emin. After the examination, the books likewise were sent back; but his gun and bayonet, which were the gift of the duke of Richmond, were kept.

Heraclius finding it impossible to appease the false accusers, thought proper to let Emin continue in confinement in his own quarters, with intention to set him free. The officer, or guard, who only slept in the house at night, told him, that the prince never passed a day without mentioning him with expressions of sorrow for what he had done. In that manner twenty-four days passed, when two Armenian ladies, born in Georgia, hearing from the people what was passing in the court, and how those unjust enemies were working to injure him more and more in hopes of provoking the prince to make an end of him at once, advised Emin to draw a petition to his Highness, in order that they might dress it up in their own style, which must be very submissively smooth, so as to convince the prince that he had not spoken a single word to, nor even seen, from the time of his arrival in Tiffliz, those wicked wretches who had accused him of saying, That himself only was the king, not Heraclius; that he had never used any such expression; and that the people of that pitiful unhappy place would never afford half an hour’s peace to his Highness’s humane mind, whose great benevolence was his only protector; which he hoped would defend and keep him from their malice, who think themselves immortal, not apprehending the tremendous judgment of God.

A letter was accordingly written, something in that style. They then sent for a clerk to copy it fair; and kept it so secret, that it has never been known to this day. The amiable ladies tore the original with their own hands, and gave the writer two rupees for his pains; begging Emin to send their well-composed petition immediately to the prince, who happened to receive it at a very critical time, when he had just seen the form of a petition to put an end to Emin’s paltry life; which writing, the prince tore to pieces on seeing Emin’s humble address, and immediately ordered the petitioners to be driven away with sticks, like so many Jews. On the next morning, a massage came to Emin from the prince that he should be set free very soon. The conspirators suspecting what was going on, went with some presents, Zakariah the bishop being at their head, begging that Emin might be sent back to Russia, whence he came, to please at least the patriarch Simon Catholicus, the god of the Armenians.

Here he is entirely at a loss to know, whether the sense of that pathetic letter composed by those female angels, affected the prince so deeply, or whether it was through the respect due to the Russians, that Emin narrowly escaped falling a victim to the fury of those who made themselves the instruments of ruin to Georgia and Armenia: to Heraclius, from that time to this very day, if he is existing, has not been able to shake off the yoke of subjection from the necks of the Armenians: none of the two Mahomedan powers could hinder him; that is to say, neither Othmans nor Persians. For, since the fall of Nadir Shah, all the Georgians, and the five Armenian chiefs of Carabagh, have been engaged in war almost every day of their lives against several competitors, (if any one were to write an account of their actions, it would fill volumes); and these being inured to that noble practice, in a period of almost forty years, were continually giving battle to different nations; the Lazguis in perticular, who were at last obliged to give their sons as hostages for their engagement never to make incursions. This stopped their horrid depredations, so that they were not able even to kidnap a child; but, on the contrary, were ready to put themselves by thousands under the command of the prince, who in reality defended both the kingdom of Turkey on the west of Georgia, and Persia on the south, and has been a complete bulwark all this while: otherwise the savage Lazguis, for the sake of booty would have obliged the former to run headlong into the Black, Sea, and the latter (if they escaped starving on the barren mountains of Farsistan) into the Gulph of Persia. Therefore it is to be lamented, that the prince lost Emin through ignorance of his faithful heart, which is the characteristic of a true Armenian. And it is still more to be regretted, that another prince cannot be found, who merits, like Heraclius, the sovereignty of the Armenians and Georgians. But the poor prince’s heart was composed of two different metals, Persian and Greek, which deprived both him and Emin of the happiness and glory of seeing their country freed from slavery.

Six days after the petition, his confinement having lasted exactly thirty days, the prince sent him word to get ready and march with him to the north of Tiffliz, to a place called Havchaula about eight miles distant. On setting out, about four in the afternoon, one of Emin’s servants was missing, who had 400 rupees of his, and stayed behind on the purpose to serve his own ends, and enjoy himself in that wicked town of Tiffliz. This was the only money he had in the world to depend upon, being the remainder of 600 rupees sent by Hovnan, the bishop’s first draft of 100 zekins; the second, mentioned before, brought by Malich Stephen, for 600 zekins, he did not think it honest to accept, since he was prevented from going to Mush. He was greatly distressed by the accident; since the next morning he was to march to another stage, in company with the army, and then part from the prince to proceed three days more to the foot of Mount Caucasus, where he should not have had money to buy linen, or to give the mountainers for allowing him to go over those high passes. The villanous servant well knew that he would go on farther and farther every day; and that the money would remain safe in his possession. Emin therefore thought it necessary to speak to prince David, Heraclius’s son-in-law, to interpose for permission to go back after the servant who had his rupees; and he said, go, lest the prince should be tempted to rob him of it (for Heraclius was fonder of money than of his eyes).

Prince David, with great good-nature, seeing him almost in despair, went into the tent to speak to his father-in-law, who being in one of his bad humours, grunted like a provoked bear, without speaking or answering him, which was a signal of his wrath, and made David remain stock still. Emin, standing behind the tent in hopes of redress, waited almost half an hour without a word coming out of the dark pavilion, where there was not even a single candle lighted. He therefore withdrew from the place gently, calling God to his assistance, mounted his Arabian bay horse, and told the Armenian Anania, (whose two horses he hired, one for packing, the other saddled for Gregor, the very man who wanted to make away the money by staying behind in Tiffliz, ) to accompany him. Honest Anania consented; and they then set out in the night along the river Cur. When they reached the city gates, Anania dismounted, and began to knock as hard as he could; but there was neither centry nor watchman to hear. At last a porter came out of his bed, and stood within the gate, asking, who it was? Anania said, "Open the door. " The fellow said, "I can not: it is Heraclius’s strict order not to open the gates till sun-rise. " Anania said, "Foolish man! I have a letter from prince David, the king’s son-in-law, to his father Rewaz, the great Sardar, who is next in rank to Heraclius, - and I will give you an abasy, which will buy you a tabriz maun of wine. " No sooner was the name of that generous liquor mentioned, than the gates were opened before them, the door-keeper being so sleepy as to forget the money; but Emin told Anania to give the poor devil the abasy. Anania said, "I hate him as a Georgian, and his king too, for bringing you to this condition. Did you not understand what the troops were saying to me as they were passing by us on the road?" Emin answered, "You know I do not understand Georgian. " Anania replied, "They were saying, that you were not yet discharged from your confinement and that if you should run away, I must suffer for it; that the king would cut my head off, and sell my children to the Lazguis. Now I will open my heart to you: I am ready to lose my life, if those thirteen Curd Armenians will have the courage to go with you to Mush, though sent for that purpose from the bishop of St. John the Baptist. I will guide them out of the great roads over the mountains; for Heraclius’s oppression is insupportable; it is worse than that of Heathens; let him destroy my family. "

This speech of the brave Anania ended just as they reached the door where Emin’s quarter was. On their inquiring after Gregor, the woman of the house directed them four doors higher, where they found Purseck, but not Gregor who had the money. There came out a woman, who was a widow, and had an only son, a weaver, named Vardan; (both mother and son knew where Gregor’s house was; ) and Vardan’s wife said, "They will hardly be lucky enough to find him at home. " Emin asked, why? The good woman said, "O, Sir! he has a great many loves - ten to one if we find him in his own house. " They went winding about several narrow lanes, before they could come to the place; and the woman begged him to say nothing all the while, lest the man, hearing his voice, should hide himself or go from his house to another. Emin said, "Very well, good woman; do as you think proper. " Then the woman began to knock gently at the door, behind which were sleeping six persons; and with a very faint voice, she called out, Tamar! Tamar! On the third call, Tamar, who was the wife of Gregor, awaked, and said, "Who is at the door?" The good woman in the street said, "I am Vardan Nana; " which signifies, I am the mother of Vardan. Then Tamar said, "What do you want?" The woman said, (with a tone of voice as if she was crying or bewailing some dear friend, ) "Is your husband Gregor at home?" Tamar said, "Yes; what will you have with him?" The woman said, groaning and sighing, "The Curd Armenians, who were sent from the bishop of St. John the Baptist, to carry Emin to Mush, have brought some wine and meat, and can neither eat nor drink without your husband’s company, wishing particularly to hear him tell the story of Emin’s fighting against the Lazguis. " No sooner was the name of wine pronounced, than the door was opened, and Gregor awaked, sitting up in his bed. Then the wise woman said to Emin, "Now, Sir, it is your time!" He therefore flew like lightning, seized Gregor by the collar, put his hand into his waistcoat pocket, and took out the purse with 200 rupees in gold, while the other four persons never dared to stir out of their beds; for Emin threatened, in a fury, that if they did, he would strike off their heads. Then, with his sword drawn he brought out the ungrateful wretch; made him kneel down, pretending that he would cut off his head at one stroke. The nightwatches, with a lantern, were passing by, but durst not say a word. Terrified to see him in that desperate attitude, Gregor was almost out of his senses, having just breath enough to beg for mercy; when Purseck laid hold of his wrist, and intreated for his pardon, which Emin was very glad to grant, as he would not have shed his poor countryman’s blood for all the money in Asia. Anania, admiring his merciful behaviour, cried bitterly, saying, "O, my God! why will you not stand by this man, to make him prosperous for his compassionate heart? For so much money as this, the unmerciful Georgians would have destroyed half a dozen Armenians, and ruined their families for ever! O Heraclius, and Simon the Patriarch! I wish you may never draw a comfortable breath in your lives; may you die groaning in anxiety; since, without the least fault, you have forced this man away from my country!"

Emin then gave notice to the thirteen Curd Armenians, and said to them, "Now, gentlemen, you see I am free, will you agree to go with me to Mush?" They answered, "We would go with all our hearts but you will be kind enough to consider, that it is not our orders, nor can we venture to do it without Heraclius’s good-will. " Then they offered to return the 600 zekins, which he again refused, though they expostulated, but he could not be persuaded, nor did he take them at last. He only told them to carry word to the bishop Hovnan, and see how far Emin ran a risque of his life in going to Mush; but his men had not sufficient resolution to follow him, since they had not received orders from him He then took his leave, and left them in tears. Anania said, "You have done all you can; it is necessary to go out of town before it is light, for Heraclius is in search of some pretence; should he make an inquiry in the camp, and miss you, he would send a file of horse; and if we are caught here, he will play the devil with us. " They then took some corn, just enough for the horses, and went to the sleepy porter, who opened the gates.

No sooner had they come out, than Anania said, "Let us feed the horses here under the wall close to the gates, for the poor beasts are tired; they have been sixteen miles backwards and forwards, eight miles more which we have to march to the camp will make twenty-four. " Emin consented; and having drank some water, rested a little. In a few minutes, who should come but two Cossack troopers, with an order from Heraclius to take him up. Emin asked them, in broken Turkish, as if he was a Georgian, What was their business in the town? They said, "The Armenian gentleman is run away from the camp; the Vali is very angry, and has commanded us to apprehend him. " They knew Emin all the time, for he had been on parties with those troopers many times against the Lazguis. Emin said again to them, "Do you know the man, if you see him?" They said, "Yes, very well; " knocking at the gate as hard as they could, seeming to be in fear; for Emin was resolved to make an end of the story, and die like a soldier, if they should lay hold of him. But the poor Cossacks were happy when the gate was opened, after half an hour’s waiting; and then bidding Emin good morning, they entered the gate. Anania (who had been frightened almost to death) said, "Sir, it is now high time for us to set out for the camp; the danger is over; let us hasten before the sun rise. " They reached the place exactly half an hour before day-light; when Heraclius’s servant called out for Emin, who was lying on his bed with great composure. The servant seeing him, went and acquainted Heraclius, that the report of his being out of the camp was not true.