Tth Life and Adventures of Joseph Emin





[Concerning a young Armenian - Emin continues his wanderings in his own land at night, like a cutpurse or a murderer in danger from Ibrahim Khan - Kurds run away to lie in ambush to attack him treacherously - An Armenian tells them who he is, they immediately become his friends - Ibrahim Khan’s officer Hatham Beg, and his cup-bearer, or Saki - In great danger of his life from Hatham - Emin sets out with his relative Movses, the cup-bearer as guide - His dishonesty - A story of soldiers in hospital in Flanders and the sweetness of plunder - Inhospitable inhabitants of the village of Maghry, where women may look at men but no man dare look at women - Unusual kindness of a custom-house officer - Arrival at Orduar. ]

In that village, an affair happened which may be a little entertaining; but, although trifling in its kind, it will appear as ostentation: - Just at the dusk of the evening, five minutes after he arrived, there came up a young Nakhchuan Armenian on horse-back, who, when he had alighted, led his horse, and tied it where Emin’s horse stood: Emin hallooed to him, as he was at some distance, to take the horse away, and make it stand farther off, for fear of a quarrel between them. The young into Nakhchunian flew into a passion, clapped his hand to his sword, and said, "Who are you, to call out in that domineering manner? I suppose you would imitate our Emin, who alone is fit to command us Armenians?" Emin pacified him with gentle words, and said, "Brother, do not be out of humour, we are both guests and strangers in this place at this good man’s house; he does not deserve to be made uneasy by us; - sit by me, and permit me to ask you, in, a friendly manner, a few civil questions. " The young hero consented, and sat himself down. The author said, "What has been the merit of Emin, that you regard him so much behind his back; for, as far as we can understand, he has done nothing of any consequence: on the contrary, wherever he went, he was driven away as if he had been a wolf. " The young man said, "He is not what you represent him, nor does he deserve such a name: - he is as brave as a lion - as wise as Solomon - and as just as Plato. The wolves are our churchmen in sheeps clothing, and they only obstruct his great undertakings; for he could easily have saved us from subjection to the Mahomedans, if those dark angels would but have let him go. " Then he fetched a very deep sigh. Emin said, "I presume, Sir, you have never seen him: " the Nakhchuanian said "No: but those who have seen him with their own eyes, and been witnesses of his brave actions in many places, have sounded his fame in our ears, and made it shine as bright as the sun in the hearts and mind of all true Armenians: even the Mahomedans admired him, though they are the great enemies of us Christians; and more particularly, when he was among the Lazguis. " Aratun the monk, with the landlord and several others, some sitting, some standing, heard all this, but had not patience enough to let the young gentleman go on expressing his sentiments. They said, "You are speaking to the very man, for whom you and all of us have great respect. " The young man started up, and could not contain himself, but burst into tears of joy. Those who were present sympathized with him, and he continued several minutes bewailing the calamities and distracted condition of the Armenians, with no less concern for the precarious situation of Emin, who endeavoured to comfort him by encouraging words, and said they need not be in the least uneasy about him, who was resolved to die for them, by exerting himself and going through every danger to the utmost of his poor abilities. He added, "Be easy in your minds, and try to make yourselves as happy as you can: - pray to God, and wait with Christian patience: - if he is willing to save us, he will, and if not, it is our duty to make ourselves contented, and be cheerful. "

After supper, about nine o’clock, Emin, with his relation Mussess, and a hired Armenian with a pack-horse, set out; and after travelling seven hours, and ascending and descending high rough mountains, about four in the morning passed an Armenian village belonging to Kezkhalan, sister to Ibrahim Khan, the lord of five Armenian chiefs; namely, Yusup, Hatham, Mirza-khan; Shaknazar, and Isay. Who knows but in time the Armenians may understand English enough to translate these memoirs into their own language, and be spurred by them to some exertion for sweet liberty, which precious gem alone was Emin’s object in sacrificing all the comfort of his life, with the mortification of being forced to wander about at night in his own country as a cutpurse or a murderer, that he might avoid the fortification of Shashec, lest he should be apprehended by Ibrahim Khan, who had not obtained his power over the chiefs by the dint of his sword. Whoever is possessed of humanity, and reads this account, must be deeply sensible of Emin’s anxiety in that painful situation.

He travelled nine hours during the night, having advanced ten miles from the village where he had stopped, and fifteen beyond Shashec, not suspecting that the Khan had been acquainted by some spies with his return to Carabagh. In the dark, his apprehension was not so great: but when the light appeared, he did not fail to look out sharp, and calling upon God, marched on, as if he had been at the head of some thousands. He had thirty cartridges of his own making, with a strong Turkish forelock, that could hit a mark at 300 yards distance. He reconnoitred all the way he past, that in case of his being attacked, he might get behind one of those rocks thrown out by nature as breast work, and put himself in a posture of defence, fighting while his little ammunition should last, and rather dying like a man, than suffering to be taken like a coward. Neither his relation nor the other Armenians had so much as a penknife. About twelve o’clock, he went out of the road upon an eminence covered with fine grass to feed the horses, as well as to took round about. He had hardly been there fifteen minutes, when he discovered four horsemen coming in the same road. Before they reached the bottom of the hill, they dismounted on the wrong side of their horses with their guns in their hands, and marched slowly along, the horses so placed as to cover their bodies from Emin, who called out to them, to come and feed their horses with him; but they made no answer, creeping along like snakes, then turned to the left, and disappeared. As they did not speak, Emin little thought they were robbers; but they were Curds of the tribe of Mughans, who seeing Emin’s dress not like that of other Armenians, were weak enough to take him for a Lazgui mountaineer, and hurried away to be in ambuscade on the left side of the hill, in a place covered with wood, intending, as he should come by, to fire at him at once, instead of attacking him openly: but Providence had ordained, that Emin should by some means be saved. The villains fortunately happened to meet in the very spot an Armenian, named Mussess of Nakhchuan, and of the village of Kazanchu, with his pack-horse, who, seeing them very busy in a great flutter, asked what they were about? They told him, they expected a Lazgui there every minute, and were putting themselves in the easiest way to shoot him, and to make a prize of his horse. The honest Armenian guessing, from the description given, that it was the author of these memoirs, laughed at them heartily, saying, "He is Emin of Armenia: - he is not so ignorant as you imagine, to pass by you slowly: in the first place, he will gallop his horse like lightning; and if you miss your aim, no doubt he will turn and kill every one of you. Besides, I am credibly informed, that he has a charm about him, so that neither fire-arms nor sword can have any effect on him. Had he not been so happily endowed with those blessings, how could he have escaped in so many battles fought in Frankistan, Georgia, and Dagistan, where the savage Lazguis found they could not kill him, and were made to take an oath of fidelity upon the Alcoran, and to elect him their sovereign. " Upon this, one of the Curds with an enormous beard and bald head said, "Yes; now I remember him: - he that headed 2, 000 Lazguis, made captives by the Colan Curds, and afterwards saved them. I can tell you more of him: - Some time ago he was in the kalaoh (or fort) of Shoshu, speaking to our Khan Ibrahim as a master speaks to his servant; but as I passed by at a distance I could not hear what he said. I am very glad you set us right - God knows what would have become of us! - I hope you will be so kind as to take no notice to him of our design, lest he should be displeased with us. "

Emin expecting them at the bottom of the hill, set his horse gallopping violently, and turned about at a proper distance upon a flat ground, whence he saw those assassins looking as pate as death; he levelled his piece to fire at them, when the Armenian cried out, "Sir, Sir, they are friends!" and afterwards recounted the whole circumstance, as before related. Then all the four came, laid hold of Emin’s stirrup, and kissed his hand; thanking Mussess the good Armenian, in the Curdish language, for his friendly advice. They travelled with him like brothers about two miles, when the road being divided, they took leave of him in a very polite manner, and went to the west; while Emin, with his honest countrymen, and two servants, journeyed to the south. This address of his countryman probably saved Emin’s life; nor can he help reflecting, that if it had not been for an Armenian also in London, whose name is mentioned before, who had been sent with a horse from Aleppo, and through whom, by mere chance, he was taken notice of by the late duke of Northumberland, he might have remained, if alive, in total oblivion to this very day; or in the obscurity of ignorance, like the rest of the Armenians. He takes this opportunity to express his gratitude, as having been twice helped by them; and is comforted in having no room to alter his natural attachment to them, being persuaded that there are good and bad in all nations; but that more virtue may be found among civilized free men, than among those who only eat, drink, and sleep, in profound ignorance.

In the afternoon he arrived at Shankevan, an Armenian village in the province of Ghapan, situated at the bottom of a high mountain, full of vineyards, with plenty of every thing. He was just going to a-light at the door of an Armenian, when he saw a trooper who dismounted at the fourth door beyond it. The Armenians told him that he was Ibrahim Khan’s man, and that the house was the quarters of Hatham Beg the darugha, one of the khan’s officers, appointed his deputy to keep the village in good order. In about ten minutes he came to see Emin, with false complaisance, and ordered the villager to take very great care of him. At sun-set he sent the one-handed Sarkiss, with a large earthen gurglet of wine, and with compliments to Emin, desiring him to drink and be cheerful. Emin in return sent two white linen towels, with half a dozen of Russian wooden spoons, which were made a present to him by Suciaz the monk at Shamakhy. His man Sarkiss sat down at the table, holding the vessel under his arm, without a hand, as a saki (or cup-bearer, ) and the cup in his hand, which he filled and presented to Emin, who said he never could drink wine in his life; nor would he drink, though the roguish cup-bearer, for a quarter of an hour, was begging and persuading him to it. Finding he could not prevail, he endeavoured to make his relation Mussess drink; but he, like Emin, had never tasted wine in his lifetime. The other Nakhchuanian Mussess unluckily did not alight at the same house with them. On their first entering the village, he disappeared and could not be found. The nimble one-handed tiger Sarkiss finding neither Emin nor his poor relation would come near the liquor, laid down the wine and the cup, and went out, perhaps to give notice to his master Hatham Beg. In five minutes he came back like lightning, sat down again, took the wine and gave it to Ohan the hired man, who had the pack-horse, and who drank with him like a fish till about eight in the evening, when another Armenian came, with an order from Hatham to his nimble servant Sarkiss, to bring with him the pack-horse man. Emin suspected there was some mischief going on, and Ohan returned half an hour after, bruised all over his face, with his shirt-collar torn off, and his neck scratched and bloody. He told Emin that Hatham Beg had done all that. After inquiring whether Emin had any money, on being told that Emin was poor, he beat him in that cruel manner, and even drew his dagger and clapped the point to his throat, threatening to murder him if he did not tell where the money was. The poor man being in this sad plight, Hatham and Sarkiss came in, and said to Emin, all in a flutter, "You saw the trooper, mounted on a black horse, who came immediately after you and alighted at my door; he is the Khan’s man, with an express order from him, acquainting us, that two men of the vali of Gurgistan are run away to Carabagh: they are to be secured and sent to Tiffliz; and by the description, you and your relation are the men. " Emin said, "If we are the suspected men, what is the reason of your using the khan’s own subject in this barbarous manner, whom we have hired at Gantzasar in Carabagh. Let me tell you, Hatham Beg, those false pretences of yourself or your khan, I value not a straw; nor have we run away with three hundred tumans of the vali, as you said a little while ago. Had we that sum, depend upon it, we should not have been so stupid as to come hither with two persons only, when we could have raised as many thousands, as has already been done with one hundred and twenty-seven tumans, for almost seven years, in Georgia, Dagistan, and Armenia. Your khan knows who I am, and here is his order to be entertained in every part of his country. He imagining I have got a sum of money at Shamakhy, and hearing of my return from that place, has been excited by avarice to send you an order to try if you can get it from me, or procure payment for the young colt he made me a present of. " Hatham Beg said, "Sir, every thing you observe of the khan’s letters is true; but as for ill-treating Ohan the Armenian, he knows nothing of it; perhaps he has been quarrelling, being drunk himself, and not distinguishing any more than a beast. " Ohan said, "You are mistaken; I know myself as well as you, who believe in your prophet Mahomed. You Persians, who have neither shame nor honour, denying the truth, when you cannot act as you please; and watching like adders for an opportunity to do mischief. What is become of your domineering like a tyrant? A little while ago you threatened to kill Emin, his servant, and me. Why don’t you act this now? Because the mountaineers will make you not only pay for it with your life, but the lives of your family. O the churchmen, the churchmen!" Emin said, "Hold thy tongue: let us have no more of it. " He then told Hatham Beg to set down a while, and afterwards do his duty in executing his master’s order: and rummaging about to find the money, he said, "Sir, from the language you use, and your manner of speaking, no man of breeding dares come near you; and when you please to depart hence, I will give you a guide to the next stage. I see you are fatigued, take rest, and be easy. " Then bidding good night, he went away; but turned back twice before he was out of the varanda, and looked at his firelock.

Emin, after a journey of twenty hours, ascending and descending high mountains, cannot say that he slept all the night any more than his poor relation Mussess, but watched the whole time with that single muskate, and passed it as disagreeably as if he had been a dozen years in prison; the least noise in the dark startled them, expecting every minute to be attacked; but the only thing with which he supported his distracted heart, was the true soldier’s resolution - let the worst come to the worst, to fall like a man, and to kill or be killed. In this dismal situation, till the dawn of day, his mind suffered what no one of the smallest humanity could hear without being sensible of; and he wishes that his bitterest enemy may never feet the same anxiety. At sun-rise he was just going to set out on his journey, when the one-handed Sarkiss came, with compliments and a message from Hatham, saying, that he should be glad to have Emin’s coat made of lamb’s skin, to dispose of it as a token of friendship. Emin said, "Let me see Hatham himself; " and going out of the house, saw the fellow standing at an open place; to whom he said, "Hatham Beg, let me have your felt great-coat; as we are advancing towards the cold weather, it is necessary I should have some covering, and you shall have my lamb’s skin coat in lieu of it; then we shall be brothers and friends. " Hatham consented, thinking he had made a good bargain; the coats were exchanged, and cessation of hostilities took place between the two potentates. Sarkiss was allowed to be his guide, and Ohan the pack-horse man was discharged, and ordered to go back to his family.

Emin, with his relation, set out for Fative, about fifteen miles off; but after four miles march, as they were passing through the village of Hallytzar, Sarkiss stopped, and would not stir an inch further, unless he could eat some grapes; and in the mean time he began sharpening his eyes upon Emin’s gun as a wolf does his ears when he finds an opportunity to seize his prey. Emin finding his intention was bad, and that he was not ordered to be a guide, but a robber, really felt himself greatly distressed for want of knowing the right road to Fative; nor could he persuade himself to put an end to Sarkiss’s life, though his insolence and villany grew insupportable, when he found Emin expostulating like a brother. In that disagreeable situation appeared the Carancha Mussess his deliverer, going on below the village, to the same stage, with his pack-horse before him. Emin called out to him; and he, turning his head round, immediately went up to him, and seeing the unmanly-behaviour of Sarkiss, abused him heartily, and obliged him to go on. Emin said to Mussess, "There is no occasion for Sarkiss, since you know the way. " The devilish Sarkiss said, "It is my master’s especial order to go with Emin as far as the place of destination, and procure a receipt from Minas Vardapit, or the monk of the monastery there; then only I can return to Hatham Beg. " Mussess could make no objection to that artful speech, and said no more to him.

They were hardly gone three miles out of Hallytzar, when Sarkiss, like a running footman, kept up before Emin’s horse; and now and then would get out of the road, jumping from one stone to the top of another, like a wild goat, perhaps to the distance of two full yards; then he climbed up the rocks like a monkey, with his one hand and a stump; then he let go his hand, from perhaps fifteen or twenty feet high, and come down upon his legs without being hurt: it was enough to pain one’s eyes to look at him. Then, again coming into the road to take his post, he told Emin, that he could have a great many like himself in those mountains to fight under him, and to drive out the Mahomedans in ten days time, provided he would give each a gun, with bread and salt. In this manner he so pleased Emin, as to get the better of him; and having told him it did not become him to have the piece slung over his shoulder, while Sarkiss the faithful slave was running before him like a dog, at last he got the gun, and slung it over his own shoulder. Soon after, the young sharper, as happy as could be, began to gain ground jumping again from rock to rock, and saying to himself, "Here I will have the enemy, there I will stop the whole gang of them; " till he got about sixty yards off. Poor Mussess seeing the fraud, was almost distracted, and could not help reprimanding Emin in a mild manner, saying, "What have you done? In a place like this, if you set your old horse gallopping after him, you will not catch the villain. " But a lucky presence of mind assisted Emin, after the grievous complaint of his relation, who cried like a child; and Emin made so loud a noise, that the mountain echoed, calling out at the same time, "Sarkiss, Sarkiss!" as if the world was going to be at an end, "come hither, come hither!" He being terrified, run back; and Emin said, "My good man, let me have the gun, for you do not see the thing, which is really a monster. " No sooner had he got it than he cocked it, and in an instant clapped it to Sarkiss’s breast, who begged for mercy; but Emin in a fury said, "Pull off your cap, and run directly to that tree before you, and hang it there. " He being frightened out of his senses, obeyed without hesitating, and flew to it instantly; but before he took off his hand, Emin fired, and the shot went through the cap. He loaded the piece again, and then said to Sarkiss, "Thou villain! who art neither a Christian nor Mahomedan, hast thou now seen what Emin can do? how dost thou deceive me with your cunning words, and run away with my gun? how art thou now? dost thou see death with open eyes or not?" Sarkiss said, "Great Sir, not only death, but also hell itself. I beg ten thousand pardons; have mercy upon your countryman and fellow Christian; and grant life to him who had heard of you often, but has now seen your power with open eyes. The devil take our darugha, whom I served five years for nothing; he was always promising he would give me a gun, and wanting to make good his word, ordered me to become your guide, to steal your fire-lock, and try to murder you, by Ibrahim Khan’s order; in order to prove to the Russians, Lazguis, or others, who are your protectors, that you are killed by your own fellow Christians the Armenians, not by his order, nor by Mahomedans. I would have you to take care of yourself. " Emin said, "Walk on, you fool, and hold your tongue. " At this circumstance, both Mussess his relation, and the other man, were as happy as the nimble Sarkiss was distressed at missing his aim, and letting the bird fly out of his hand, by a feigned surprize of Emin’s composing. But his relation could not contain himself, and began rebuking Sarkiss all the way to Fative.

An hour before sun-set they arrived at the monastery; and Emin said to his relation, "Take care, lest Sarkiss steal away something. " Soon after, they went to see Minas, the head monk of the monastery; and on coming back to their room, where the things lay, they found that Sarkiss had disappeared, with a small bundle of six cartridges, which they had put on the shelf. He paid himself in that fashion with more content, after so many miles travelling on foot, that if he had received a few rupees from Emin; who could not help laughing in his mind recollecting David’s psalm, which says, "I am glad of thy word, as one that findeth great spoils. " So was Sarkiss more glad to make a booty of a few shot and a handful of powder, than to receive honestly a reward from Emin’s own hand, and go away contented! When Emin was in England, a gentleman in the course of conversation, going from one thing to another, related, that when the late duke of Cumberland commanded the English army in Flanders, at the hospital in one of the towns were lying 1200 sick soldiers, not able to stir. Some mischievous men reported, that the people of the place were in agitation, and ready to revolt. This false report was so well received by those half-dying men, that they ran out all at once, without arms, to plunder the innocent inhabitants, and there was great difficulty to keep them quiet. After they returned to their quarters, and to bed again, the very gentleman who told the story, with some others, began to banter them a little, saying to them, "My lads, what was all that alertness for? How came you to be so well, going to do wonders, when before you could hardly crawl out of your beds?" The answer was: "May it please your honours, if you knew the sweetness of plunder as we soldiers know it, and were you dead you would rise from your graves and run headlong after it. " Therefore neither Emin, nor any other, should blame Sarkiss the Armenian mountaineer, who preferred stealing to receiving a present; or wonder that David admired the word of God, as others rejoice in finding spoils.

Emin made shifts to lodge in the monastery that night, and slept as well as he could, after forty-eight hours travelling. The next morning, by chance, an Armenian traveller was going to his home at Maghry, the last frontier town of Capan, a sort of republic, and a place of some trade, which produced an immense quantity of silk, cotton, and fine strong wine, situate on the bank of the river Araskh, belonging to the Armenians, and containing 3000 families, three days journey from Tabriz. There at sun-set Emin arrived, after travelling thirty-six hours. But he cannot pass it by without making an observation on the inhabitants, who are entirely void of hospitality. As it was not quite dark, a few of them came and stood looking at him, but went away; and as Emin was not a merchant to buy their commodities, did not think it worth while to invite him to their wine-cellars, or give him even a cup-full of vinegar to soak his bread in as a sauce. That is all they give on fast-days, unless the stranger is come there to purchase silk; then they give him some wine. The males are as jealous of their females as the Spaniards or Portuguese; they being, without exception, very brave, but not so blood-thirsty. The women are not hid, and go without veils, but are very industrious, so as to manage the silk and cotton and make wine. They have the liberty to stand and stare at strangers, but if a stranger should chance to look at them, the men taking notice of it, instantly run in a body, and beat him unmercifully. The reason they give for this, which is kept as a law among them, is, that when God created Adam, he opened his eyes and saw that he was made of dust; then Eve was taken out of his side, and she lifting up her eyes, saw Adam: therefore it is allowed that women should look up to the men; but men must hang down their heads and look at the ground, either passing by them, or sitting down, when they are coming or going by. Emin, in calling them brave, is not without reason; because they have made themselves independent since the death of Nadir, and maintained their liberty most valiantly, having overcome many times different armies of competitors; till of late, to his sorrow, he has been told they have submitted to Ibrahim Khan of Carabagh. He did not chuse to make himself known to them, since he was determined to see the event of the letter from Gabriel, priest of Tiffliz, given to him by the monk Suciaz at Shamakhy, as already mentioned. The very young man that conducted him before from Fative monastery to that place, told him, that he would call on him at one o’clock the next morning; and in the night he with his relation made a shift to lie down by the horse, in an open place which is called Madan. The man, true to his word, came, and led them out of the town by a road so rough or round about that if it had not been for him, even by day-light they could not have found their way out. The man said to Emin, "You see that high mountain on your right hand, standing exactly like a wall; that will be your guide, with the river Araskh on your left, all along to the town of Orduar; you will want no other, nor wish to meet any one to ask the way to it. And when you are arrived there, you may be sure of meeting caravans to go from any part of the country to Tabriz, Romia, Bayazid, &c. "

Emin thanked the Armenian, and moved on with Mussess. About three o’clock, he heard a challenge all of a sudden on the right of the rock, and being somewhat alarmed, he instantly presented his piece, threatening the challenger to fire, suspecting him to be a highwayman. The man spoke in a very humble tone of voice, saying, "Pray, stranger, do not be hasty; I am a turnpike-man, belonging to the custom-house of Carabagh, posted here by Mustapha Khan, to receive a small custom from merchants passing by, if they have any silk of Meghrey; but I can see you have nothing. My asking a civil question made you think I was a bad man; you thought proper to be upon your guard; you are in the right of it, and your daring is commendable in such a narrow pass. Go your journey, and God be with you, I have nothing more to say to you; you are not like other Armenians, who, in passing by this place, must pay very dear for it. " Emin said, "You are very much in the right; if they had been like me, they would not have suffered you to sit in that strong hold, nor me to ramble from place to place, for no benefit to myself. " Again the man said, "Good Sir, you seem to be desperate; I wish you a good journey, success, and prosperity!" Emin, when he heard the kahdar, or turnpike-man, pronounce those words in so feeling a manner, not only desisted from actin rashly, but comforted himself in the dark, after so many dangers, in so many years in those miserable districts, where he never heard from any body the like kind expressions; he cannot help thinking of them now and then, and they give him great satisfaction. Whether the man was afraid of being fired at, or from a motive of humanity, he spoke as kindly as if he had really known the desperate condition of Emin’s life; who thanked him, moved forward on his journey, and exactly at sun-rise saw the Armenian caravan, which had set out before him from the same place, pitched by the side of a brook, about half a mile from Orduar, in the province of Nakhchuan. The people knew Emin directly at some distance, and came to meet him, begging him to alight awhile, and eat some breakfast. They behaved very civilly, and in half an hour’s time packed up for Orduar, which is inhabited by Persians. He thanked them, and went to take a room in a caravanserai, while they advanced to Akulis, a mile farther, a place inhabited by Armenian merchants, and formerly a very flourishing town, but much ruined by Azad Khan the Afghan, who reigned some years in Persia after Nadir Shah, but was at last conquered and taken by Carim Khan. He lived eighteen years after, and died at Shiraz, eighteen months after Carim.