Tth Life and Adventures of Joseph Emin




XVI. 1763-’64-65.

[Night camps amongst the Georgians - Heraclius’ treachery - Orders Emin to leave the camp immediately and go to the Caucasus - A trick to separate him from his escort - But Emin passes through without any mishap - Stays at the house of a Circassian - Falls ill - Contrives to reach Boragan, where Armenians shelter him - Writes to the grandmother of the young lady at Astrakhan - But now that he is penniless and in trouble, they will have no more of him - Atchakhan, a mountaineer from Muchkiz - A lump of sugar an unknown rarity - Mountaineer offers him a troop of forty of his relatives without pay - The difference of faith – "A soldier’s religion is his sword" - They offer him their allegiance with old-world warlike ceremony - A Circassian lady’s friendly kindness - Eight thousand mounted troops at his command - A mischief-making Armenian informs the successor of Stupition and receives 1500 strokes for his pains - Emin’s servant Turkhan arrives from Petersburgh with the third and last draft from Lord Northumberland - His interview with the young lady at Astrakhan. ]

In Asiatic camps, pitched in the night-time in their irregular way, a person when wanted is not easily found, especially the Georgians, among whom no sort of regularity or order is kept; but from eight till twelve at night, there is as much hallooing and noise as if they were already beaten by the enemy; servants hunting for masters, and masters for servants, till they find one another, exactly like cows and calves in a dispersed herd: then they directly spread the table-cloths, set down the skin-full of wine, eat and drink till they are full, and then sleep as sound as a rock, without watch or sentry; so that if the beasts of the field were to come and prey on their bodies, they would hardly be sensible of pain till sun-rise. The only watchful man Emin ever saw among them was the prince himself, who sat up sometimes till one, sometimes till two in the morning, with his household servants, whom one might see often half asleep, standing upon their legs before the prince, till they dropped down upon the ground, and afforded him great amusement: therefore it is very easy for an European general, at the head of 20, 000 men, to be master of all that part without any difficulty.

Prince David told Emin on the march that morning, that his father-in-law, though he was a little out of humour the preceding night, yet about ten o’clock, after supper, expressed great sorrow for having used him so ill, without any sort of crime; and said, he was in hopes of keeping him by good treatment: "For, " he added, "he is a useful man; nor will I give ear any more to those fellows who were the very cause of my displeasure. "

When they came to the second stage called Sagarejo, about twelve o’clock, they halted there for that day, where the road divides from north to east. The thirty Circassian horsemen, with whom the prince’s order was that Emin should go (when in Tiffliz, he sent his order by a messenger), did not halt, but kept going on; he, encouraged by what David had told him in the morning, stayed behind to know the prince’s pleasure; and about three in the afternoon, Revaz Eshikagasy Bashy, or the prince’s first aid-de-camp, brought word, that it was his royal master’s strict command, that Emin should not tarry a minute longer in his camp, but set out immediately for Caucasus, and over that mountain to Russia, where his friends were. He could not do otherwise than obey. The brave Georgian troops, in a manner his comrades, were extremely sorry for this; they loved Emin as their brother, having been skirmishing with him against the enemy several times, and cursed their master for his conduct.

Here Emin began to suspect a little, that Heraclius’s conversation of the preceding night with his son-in-law prince David, was with a bad design, that Emin might be flattered by it, and stay behind at a distance from the Circassians, the road being very dangerous for a few travellers, so that the invading Lazguis might lay hold of him, and carry him into captivity; by which stratagem he might be put out of his way, without his having the character of being the murderer of an innocent man; and by that politic device, he might also stop the murmurs of the world against him, and hide his Georgian envy in the profound darkness of his miserable heart; for Emin was heartily sorry to find so able a man possessed with so unmanly a vice, destitute of conscience, and weak enough to think him helpless, without believing that God would guard him to the destined place. Here a single servant, and five other Armenians set out in the name of God, the only Father of the fatherless, and arrived in four days, without meeting any party of robbers all the way, at Stephen Sminda, where he found two of the Circassians, and rested there two days, till the guides of the mountaineers came, who took their customary fare of Emin, and carried him, with the other Armenians, ascending and descending for four days, to the other side of Caucasus; whence, in two days more, he arrived at the house of one of the Circassians in Circassia.

Here Emin and his servant stayed; the other five Armenians went to Kizlar, intending thence to proceed for Astrakhan. This was in the month of June. That country had not much to boast of its climate or its waters, which are muddy all the year round. Vexation of mind, and eating mutton every day without bread (instead of which a sort of hotch-potch is made of cunery-seed, boiled like rice to a thick paste), threw Emin and his servant into such an ague, fever, and continual head-ach, as in forty days made him almost despair of recovery; and seeing there was no sort of remedy, he begged his landlord to get some guide to conduct him to Boragan, twelve miles from Kizlar, where he had heard some Armenian families inhabited, who might help to take some care of him. The master of the house complied, and procured on the spot two horses to carry him and his servant, with two good Circassians on horseback to be his guides and attend him, for twenty-four rupees, to be paid at that village, his Arab horse being left behind lame.

He arrived, after travelling almost four days and four nights with immense fatigue, and in exquisite torture from head to foot, and alighted at an honest Armenian’s house, who rejoiced at finding him alive, though he was almost broken-hearted at his ill success, and prince Heraclius’s cruel behaviour. He was however comforted with some refreshment, and paid the two guides, adding some small presents; his servant went to his family at Astrakhan, and he stayed there near ten months. The intermitting fever did not leave him till November, but he was not so ill as in Circassia, because the Armenians did not let him want any thing all the time. On his good days, twenty of the young and old Armenians took him on horseback to the hot waters, about three miles from the place, where they pitched tents and bathed themselves. Among them were two brothers, who always washed his linen; they all dined and slept there in the day-time, and an hour before sun-set came back again to their houses in Boragan, which village contained 800 Circassians mixed with a few Tartars. It is a sort of republic, under the protection of the Russians, with six Armenian families, and about thirty unmarried shopkeepers, who lived very comfortably among them without paying any sort of tax to the chiefs or begs. It would have been a pleasant retreat for Emin, if he had been in perfect health, since every thing was in abundance, and his few countrymen willing to make his time pass very happily.

Recovering a little from his illness, he thought it necessary to fulfil the obligation of his engagement to the Armenian princess, the grand-daughter of Avankhan in Astrakhan, mentioned before; and he wrote a letter to her grandmother, in the following terms:

"The Gohvar Khanum of Armenia.


I answered your Highness’s letter, and thanked you for your kind correspondence, and for that of my friend the lovely princess Marian, who never missed any opportunity of writing to me. Your Highness will know by my letters all that passed between the prince and me, whose unmanly treatment of me put me in mind of your Highness’s idea, in regard of his character and his people; every part of your sentiment proved exactly just. It is some time since I came to this place: my not writing immediately was owing to a very dangerous illness, which disabled me from holding a pen. Now (thank God!) I am recovering every day; but since the weather and the climate of Astrakhan will not be healthy yet for these three or four months, I deem it more proper to make this easy proposition to you; by acquainting you, that it will be quite agreeable to both parties, if you will please to come with the princess hither, where the climate is more favourable at this season, so as to make her and your humble servant happy, in being united by the sacred law of the holy church. Thus I shall fulfil the obligation of my promise, of which I was doubtful when you proposed that happiness to me before at Astrakhan; having acquainted you, that I had done a foolish mad act two years before, in sending a letter to the prince from Bajazed, little expecting to go round to him from Russia, when he was just going to give me his daughter in marriage, but was prevented by the over-hastiness of the priest Philipus, an Armenian, the prince’s grammarian. That alliance therefore is at an end. Now let me know your pleasure; if you agree to come, to bring my friend with you, or chuse that I should come to you myself. Two lines will be sufficient; let them but contain one of these two words, negative or affirmative, which will be equally satisfactory to me. I have this more to say; that when the marriage shall be over here, or at Astrakhan, I will again return to Armenia, to try my fortune. If I succeed in my design, which has been your chief wish, the sending for you both will be very easy; but should I fail (which is in the hand of God), then I can come with honour, having done all in my power; and then can enter into the imperial service of Russia, where I have, as your Highness knows, many great friends, who, I am sure, having known my character before, and seeing my future conduct, will promote me accordingly. I wish you health and happiness. Give my love to princess Marian, and believe me to be for ever yours. "

This letter was sent, and Emin waited in expectation of an answer, but instead of writing, they returned only a verbal message they had nothing to say to it. The dowager-mother would not know a man who had no money; a second and third message came one after another, with the same meaning. Emin, on this abrupt disdainful return, maintained himself with the satisfaction that, when he had the young lady wholly devoted to him, his conscience stood by and made her innocent person inaccessible; whereas, many in his situation would have been glad of the opportunity, and the princess Marian herself has acknowledged to many persons, that she was gratefully obliged to him for his honour and fortitude. Emin would not have written these few lines so frankly if he had been a merchant, or had they sent a civil refusal; but as a soldier, feeling to the quick, could not refrain himself, declaring truly, he made himself easy with that crossness of fortune.

Not knowing which way to make his way through to Georgia, Emin could not return to Astrakhan, where he was sure of having a mortifying reception in return for his honesty; his 200 rupees were near expended; the noble English were too far to receive him again with open arms; and the misery of adverse fortune increased his indisposition so severely, that he eat very little only once in two days, and so on for a long time; till one afternoon, as he was sitting at his chamber-door, there came into the court-yard a Muchkiz mountaineer, armed with a gun and a short spear; he stood a great way off, touching his sheep-skin cap, making a very low bow, and expressing himself in these very words: "Oh, Agha! I wish the apples of my eyes had dropped out of their sockets under your feet, before I had seen you in this condition! Are not you the man who came to Kizlar from the Russian empress, who made the general Stupition tremble, and run into the fort for fear of you; who in eight days after marched away back to Moscow, and brought a firman again in thirteen months; then went to Georgia to that cowardly prince Heraclius, who, I am informed, has turned you away from his country in reward of your zealous services in beating so often our Lazgui Chapauljees, and killing many of us? Why did not you accept at Kizlar, the offer of thousands of us, who were very willing to serve under your command, and with a glad heart would have acknowledged you to be their leader?" Emin called him nearer, took him into his room, presented him a glass of arrack with his own hand, and when he had drank that, gave him another with a lump of white sugar. He said, "The dram is very pleasant; but what is this piece of salt?" Emin answered, "Put it in your mouth. " He replied, "Salt is eaten with bread?" Emin said, "First touch it with your tongue. " When he did so, finding it sweet, he cried out, "I am very glad to have this, it is a remedy for sore eyes; I will carry it to my wife as a great rarity. I tell you, Sir, though I look so mean in dress, I am a miller by trade, and a soldier by inclination; I have forty relations, all young and hardy, some of them have fought against you in Gurgestan, and every one will come to salute the dust of your feet; you are to bless them, and take them into your service, with their arms and horses. " Emin begged to be excused, as having no money. He said, "What do you say? Do you imagine we are to love a prince for his treasure, like infidels? No, Sir, we are, thank God, Musulmans; we only want your sense and management to rule over us, and give a disposition in battle like the Russians; by which we shall have all the money in the world. " Emin made another objection, saying, "Our religions are not cordial. " Atchakhan (for that was his name) said, "That does not signify a straw, " pointing with his finger to the ground; "a soldier’s religion is his sword, once eating bread and salt, makes them all brothers to eternity, as if they had been born of one father and one mother. Let the Mulas and priests differ on that head, our business is fidelity and friendship; so God preserve you! No more of that; I am going like lightning to set all the mountains on fire for love of you; be in the way, for those brave boys will in two or three days come and lay their heads under your feet; bless and receive them all alike in your open arms!"

Atchakhan the Muchkiz mountaineer, having ended his discourse, went away; any man would have imagined him born with Emin of one mother, and with the same romantic disposition, and style of speaking, compounded of sense and wildness. But two days after, he brought a small bag full of walnuts, with his wife’s compliments; he then set out in a hurry, and did not stay long enough to take another dram. On the fourth day, he came with his forty relations armed and well mounted, himself at their head, dressed in armour, on a fine horse; he entered the yard where Emin’s room was, and which could hold but six men sitting cross-legged. They all dismounted and came two and two, laying their heads down upon the ground, to receive his blessing. He was going to forbid them; but the miller Atchakhan said, he would break their heads, if he hindered them. Emin thought himself very vain, growing as big as a bishop; in which character he assumed a power to bless them all. When they got up they drew their sabres, laid them before him, to pray that they might be successful, free from rust, and continue wet with the blood of his enemies. He could not refuse all those warlike ceremonies, and therefore took leave, but said nothing, finding he was not strong enough to make an harangue to them. Their coming to him, he cannot but say, was some comfort to him.

On the eighth day, as he was walking slowly out of the village with three or four Armenians, he saw all of a sudden six hundred men mounted on horse-back, in armour, with sabres and guns, at the distance of fifty yards; they dismounted immediately, forming themselves into a large semi-circle, that every one might see him in full view. The master of the ceremonies, Atchakhan, came up, and said to him, "These men, all of one clan, are come to present themselves, and to offer their service to you; treat them as you did my relations yesterday; to-morrow, about this time, there will be another set of them here, who are 1200 in number, and so on every day to the amount of eight or nine thousand. If that force be not enough to go on with, let me know, that I may bring more; they have ammunition for three months, and provision for two months in their portmanteaus; they can shave one another’s heads, and have each a pair of spare horse-shoes, besides what are on the horses hoofs; they will not want any thing of you, but to be commanded; they stand ready at the word of command out of your mouth; to put this very village to the sword, if the inhabitants have not behaved to you properly. " Then he turned his face towards six hundred of them, saying, "Did you hear, brothers, what I have said to your chief?" They answered, "Yes; and we are very ready to obey him. " The miller then asked Emin, if he was satisfied? and all the while, the three poor Armenians stood trembling, and praying for God’s mercy. He said, "very much so, " and desired the miller to tell them to come near, two and two; and not to fall prostrate any more, but only to sink down on their knees, with drawn sabres in their right hand, and the reins of their horses in their left, to receive his blessing; and he told them, that as soon as he should be recovered from his sickness, Atchakhan should be sent to give them notice. They then marched to their huts, some one, some two, and some three days journey distant.

Emin’s weakness of body, during the few minutes of his standing there to gain the hearts of those brave fellows, made him return home as much fatigued as if he had marched an hundred miles. Presently after, the lady of the village, or wife of the chief, who happened to be absent, sent her compliments to Emin, desiring to speak a word with him. He excused himself, deferring the interview to the next day, when he waited on her. After the usual compliments were passed, she very kindly asked how he did, and hoped that his Armenian subjects took great care of him? Emin said they were not his subjects; they were his countrymen. She said, "How can that be, when all the Dagistanis call you Armarily Pateshahy, and will stand by you with their conquering arms, to make even that Yaver Heretius Gurjee acknowledge you such; nor is it in the power of any prince to stop the mouth of the world? Do not you know the proverb, which says, Ell Agzy Faldar; or, The mouth of the people is omen? The inhabitants of our village are thrown into great apprehensions, on seeing the Muchkiz nation coming to you, and acknowledging you their sirdar, or leader. I am in hopes my people have not displeased you?" Emin said, "By no means, madam; in the first place I am but a guest, and the village is under the protection of the Russian patishah, whom God preserve! and who is also the protector of the Armenian nation. How is it possible I should be so imprudent as to take it amiss? Even if your ladyship should chuse to turn me out of Boragan your village, with a glad heart I should obey your command that very instant. " At this expression the lady could not contain herself for joy; she then, with uncommon cheerfulness, honoured Emin, saying, "O, brother! I am happy to see the reality of the report I have heard; you truly deserve to be the sovereign of all Armenia, Dagishtan, and Georgia. " Emin said, his opinion of her wisdom stood on the same ground, having often heard the praises of Circassian ladies, and now seeing the truth of them in her most charming sensible behaviour. Finding, therefore, the lady to resemble in beauty, politeness, and good-nature, the noble English ladies, he cheered up his spirits and opened the book of his heart before her, displaying his rhetoric in the Turkish language, which made the amiable Circassian love him as her brother; and while he remained there, she called him so with great affection; and he esteemed the liberty of intitling her as his dear sister equally valuable. After this peaceful meeting was over, he eat bread and salt, which is the sacred tie of friendship, and then went to his lodging, almost recovered; giving a demonstrative proof of the power of the fair sex, that a single conversation only could cure his illness: and he is happy to declare, that it had been always his lot, when in great distress of mind, to be relieved by them, and induced not to despair.

Every two or three days the troops came, and were received as usual. When the list was completed to eight thousand, in a month’s time, its report reached Georgia to the south, and Astrakhan to the north; for a Kizlar was but twelve miles from Boragan, they could have intelligence from it in four-and-twenty hours, the sentry being just over the river Turky, where two thousand Russian Cossack families inhabited. Emin was informed that a Nukhchuan Armenian had told all that passed to the new general of Kizlar, successor to the late Stupition, and how Emin had brought over to him those eight thousand men, and inlisted them; for which information the fellow received a reward of 1500 strokes with a stick on his naked back, by the general’s order; who declared to the rest of the Armenians standing by, that Emin was a free man, not a subject to the Russians, and a Christian, as well as a man of honour, that he would do the Russians no wrong, nor meddle with their frontiers. "Let him do as he pleases, " added he; "our great ministers have several times examined him, and know his principles better than you do; otherwise he would never have been suffered to pass our frontiers. The envious Heraclius has not let him remain in his country, though he would have been of infinite service to him; and the very man to prevent the Lazguis from enslaving every year multitudes of the Georgians, and selling them like asses to the Turks. Emin is much beloved by two great nations; first by the English, secondly by us Russians. How can it be possible that he should act with hostility against Christians; for his very aim and zeal is to die for Christians? He flatters the Dagistanians only to frighten Heraclius. I tell you, that hence-forward, if ever you bring such treacherous false reports to me, you shall be tied up and flogged like brats, which will be worse than the chastisement yonder fellow has received. " This news made Emin very happy, especially as it came from an unknown gentleman, whom he never before had the honour of seeing.

At the beginning of November one of his servants arrived from Petersburgh, who had been sent from Tiffliz eight or nine months before, for the third and last draft of one hundred pounds from the late duke of Northumberland, with three pieces of English cloth and a watch worth ten pounds, presents from his old Armenian friend Joanes Lazar, in Russian - Ivan Lazarwitz, before-mentioned. This man, whose name was Tarkhan, told Emin, that when he was at Astrakhan, in his way, the princess Marian seemed to be in great concern at his having been used so unpolitely, without even a civil letter. She pleaded, that her mother was at that time in great agitation; for the tyrannical new governor had stopped the allowance made by the late empress Elizabeth, pressing hard, and trying all possible means in his power to make her his wife; which trouble of mind prevented her writing to his master. Tarkhan, understanding something of the affair, or, perhaps, having been acquainted with it at Moscow, said to her, "No, Madam, your Highness had heard that Emin was poor, and you did not care to answer his letter: now you hear he has the command of all Dagistan, you speak thus mildly, so as to move his affection: but he is a man of spirit, and will abide by your treatment of him. For your sake alone he displeased Heraclius, while you or your mother had not sense enough to gain the heart of a man who would have raised you in honour and respect. Whom do you now think of marrying, but some Armenian merchant, who, in Russia, is no more than a Jew?"