Tth Life and Adventures of Joseph Emin





[Journeying on to Khuy, beyond Tabriz, first to Khosrove - Johannes the Vardapiet or Archimandrite, with tears and lamentations, cursing Heraclius on account of his and Catholicos Simon’s behaviour to "our prince Emin" - Emin makes himself known - Immediate terror of the monk - Fervent anxiety to get rid of Emin as soon as possible - All because Emin has no money - In great anxiety and perplexity not knowing where to turn - Johannes, recovering from his fright, advises return to Heraclius - Emin agrees, since "necessity has no law" - Continues on the road to Khuy - Danger on the way - An Armenian, Mehrab, custom-house officer - Wants to report Emin to his master Ahmed Khan - Ahmed Khan turns Mehrab out with much abuse as an ungrateful Armenian trying to betray one who runs through fire and sword to save his countrymen from slavery - Emin at Tiflis - Heraclius welcomes him - Accounts for his own bad treatment of him by blaming the Catholicos Simon and others. ]

Emin remained very quietly at Orduar exactly a fortnight, before a caravan happened to go to Khuy, two days journey beyond Tabriz. He hired a pack-horse for his man Mussess, of a Mahomedan named Alahverdy, a very good-natured fellow, who had only that one horse to let, and agreed with him, on condition that he would not enter any of the towns in his way, lest the other Armenians should know of his going to the village of Khosrove, and should inform the man there, that Emin was coming to demand of him the forty tumans lent some years before when in Tiffliz. He intended by that method to keep the people in the dark, as well as his new-hired Mahomedan, that they might not suspect who Emin was, and on what business he was wandering from one place to another. A stranger in those countries, without being a merchant travelling in a caravan, is looked upon as a madman or a rogue; and for those reasons Emin made the pretence, that such a person owed him that sum of money, the only capital he had in this world to depend upon.

Emin having had intelligence when he was at Shoshu, that the debtor was gone to Shamakhy, and thence to the village of Khosrove, the men of the caravan hearing his case, expressed great concern, and wished with all their hearts that he might find the man there; commending him for not disclosing the debtor’s name, making him welcome to their tables all the way for several days, till the road divided in two, one going to Khuy, the other to Khosrove; where he with Mussess his relation, and Alahverdy his hired man, arrived just before sun-set; and after a little inquiry, found Johannes the Assyrian vardapit, or monk, to whom the monk Suciaz had directed him at Shamakhy, sixteen or seventeen days long journey off. According to the instructions in the priest Gabriel’s letter, Emin did not make himself known to him for two days. He began with asking him in an ambiguous manner, if he, or those Mahomedans who are independent, would wish to receive Emin to be their leader, as they had given their words to Gabriel the priest, above three years ago. Johannes said, yes; and began to curse poor Heraclius most warmly; shedding tears bitterly, and invoking God to crush him. Emin said, "Holy father, what is your reason for such grievous exclamations against that prince, who has been defending some part of Christianity so many years against the Turks, Lazguis, Afghans, and Persians?" Johannes said, "You do not know, noble stranger, that he, and Simon the Catholicus, have been the cause of fastening more strongly the chains of slavery on the Armenians and Assyrians, when prince Emin was going to break them asunder, and set those two miserable nations free. May Heaven’s curse fall on those who would not let him destroy the power of the unbelievers!" Emin said again, "What could your prince do, whom all the world knows to be as poor as myself?" He said, "Prince Heraclius’s name is as great now as Nadir Shah’s; if he would but have assisted our prince Emin with an hundred Georgians, an hundred thousand Curdistan Armenians would have joined him, besides as many Assyrians and Nestorians, who could easily have found money. " Emin expressed a wish to know where he (Emin) was at that time. He said, "The gentleman has been reported to have been among the Lazguis, and to have saved many thousand Armenian Christians, at the battle of Gedashen, against Shaverdy Khan of Ganja; but they, finding him to be in a way of becoming powerful, in the malignity of their hearts, sent to Melik Yusup of Thusatzy to turn him out of that country, and thence he is gone to the fortified town of Shoshu; but, ten to one, Ibrahim Khan has by this time destroyed him. A thousand pities! He was the very man to have saved us; and none else, like him, will ever go to Frankistan to improve himself; and leaving behind him that blessed country of England, come to Russia to obtain a favourable recommendation from the empress; and then advance with such zeal and heroic resolution, to die for his country’s cause. " Emin told Johannes, that he had the honour to be one of his faithful servants, from St. Petersburg to Tiffliz; but having no money to maintain himself, he was obliged to take leave of him; that as for the safety of Emin’s person, he might be assured of his being alive; nor would it be long before he would make him a visit. Upon this the monk got up to embrace Emin for joy, who then revealed himself; saying, "Here is the very man you have been wishing for, and for these three long days constantly speaking of; what can you do now with him, who is ready to follow your advice?" It may be supposed, that after the monk’s earnest professions of interesting himself in Emin’s favour, he would have been very glad to do all in his power, and be as good as his word. But the poor man, on the reverse, instead of rejoicing to find him present, drew back, sat down with amazing concern, seeming so much terrified as to be thrown into an ague-fit, fetching deep sighs, groaning most heavily, and trembling like a willow. He then uttered these words: "O! Sir, I grieve to see you in that poor condition, which shews you have no money, and without having forty or fifty Armenians about you. If the mountaineers (meaning the Nestors) should happen to see you, they would not believe you to be Emin. I have converted 800 Nestorian families to the Roman Catholic religion, who in this small extent of flat country, where hardly a rock is to be found for a defence, will be in danger of being put to the sword by their master Ahmed Khan, should he know you are here. He resides in the town of Khuy, by which you have past, six leagues hence. I beg you will do one of two things; either return, or go up to that mountain which you see; it is fifteen miles from this place, and there you will find 18, 000 mountaineers, who have been expecting you ever since you left Tiffliz; but without a few hundred zarmahbool zeckins, you will find it a hard matter to effect your purpose. However, I shall do my best endeavours, and write to them in your favour; and hope they will be persuaded to come into your measures, provided your relation Mussess go with you thither; he has not said any thing to me, but my deacon Joseph has discovered his being disheartened, and resolved to part from you. I have told Joseph to pretend that he knows not your name, for the people ought not to know you. Therefore go first and try to persuade Mussess, and when that is done, I will compose the letter, and send also Joseph, who is as brave a young man as ever lived, to accompany you, and help you as much as he can, and to remain there as long as you please; then send him back with good news of your prosperity. But if fortune should not favour you, you will have some satisfaction in having seen them, as well as other nations and countries. They are a most hospitable good-natured set of men, and in other times may be of great service to you, who by their uprightness of conduct have gained the minds of all the Armenians and Lazguis. But, alas! you might also have purchased the black hearts of the churchmen for the same purpose, if you had a good sum of money. "

From this long friendly speech, composed of lamentation, reprimands, terror, and encouraging recommendation, Emin could not venture, in his distracted mind, to form any idea. Johannes, while he did not know who he was, would do any thing in the world to see his person, though ever so poor; but when he began to know him, he was terrified; and when he recovered himself from an unexpected surprize, would serve him to all intents and purposes! Emin judged it best to thank him for his fatherly advice; but little thought his boasted relation Mussess would have behaved in so pusillanimous a manner, as to expose his weak side, when he expected him to be as sound as a rock, like himself; and was astonished at the whiteness of Mussess’s liver, when he told him, he would not go with him by any means among those mountaineers, nor accompany him longer, unless he returned to Tiffliz, or to some part of Persia. The monk Johannes, learning what had past between the two relations, comforted Emin in private like a father, and so did his deacon Joseph, telling him it did not signify, and since Mussess could not be persuaded to concur with Emin, his best way would be to go to Heraclius, who would certainly receive him again with pleasure and satisfaction, being sorry for having turned him out of his country. Emin remembering the old English saying, that "necessity has no law, " put on a bold face, forcing his heart to become a piece of hard steel; and taking leave of Johannes, set out once more to have recourse to that famous prince, at the risque of his life, all the way to Tiffliz, not knowing in what his fate would end. Then, besides his doubt in what manner he should be received by Heraclius a thousand perplexing imaginations every hour passing and repassing through his inconsolable mind, he often wished he had been made a slave by the Turkmans, instead of returning to a prince who had assured Emin, that he was not a person likely to be or service either to him or to the Christians, when he was in power, and had an opportunity, at the head of the Lazguis, to ruin Georgia. Even at that hopeless time, had he gone among them, he would have been received as before. But great is the principle of religion! powerfully affecting the human mind in general; dividing kingdoms, setting brothers against brothers, ready to cut each others throats, and turning their hearts to inveterate enmity from social friendship. Such have been the motives of Emin from the beginning of his undertaking to this day; yet he did not prosper in his honest designs in the world, though many others in his place, and with his opportunity, would have sacrificed every thing that was dear to selfish ambition, so as to ruin others to serve themselves.

It was in the morning when he took leave of Johannes, and departed from the village of Khosrove, with his poor-hearted relation and Alahverdy the hired Mahomedan. They were not gone half away to the town of Khuy, when, with intention to shun the place again as before, they halted about a hundred steps on the right, out of the road, and alighted by the side of a spring to rest a while, eat something, and consult what route it would be the least dangerous to take: but unluckily he found that Mussess’s yapenchee or felt great coat was missing; he having dismounted an hour before they came to that place, had thrown it carelessly on the back of the pack-horse, and leading it without looking behind, had dropped it. In the mean time, Emin saw a single traveller pass by, with his face intirely turned to the left, so as not to be perceived. This uncommon attitude made him suspect that he had picked up the yapenchee, and for that reason did not look towards the spring where they were sitting. He had got out of sight, when, after a few minutes pause, Emin mounted his horse, telling his men to follow quietly after him and gallopping about, scouring to the right and left, found him at last dismounted sitting in the corner of a meadow. Emin seeing the yapenchee at some distance, went up and took it from him, reprimanding the young Armenian for his behaviour. The Armenian excused himself, saying, that he thought they were Mahomedan Persians, whose prophet had made the property of Christians lawful booty for them, and, in consequence, their goods ought to be made so to the Christians. This he said, not knowing who Emin was. He then mounted, and before they reached the high road, Emin inquiring who he was, found him to be a servant of the custom-house, named Mehrab Aga, an Armenian of Tiffliz, in the service of Ahmad Khan of Khuy, a man who had been sent by an order to search about the country under the Khan’s government, and find out if any Armenian merchants or pedlars could be detected carrying or smuggling away Turkish piasters to the town of Shoshu, there to be made into current abasis (each equal to an English shilling; ) and he hoped, he said, that Emin had not any such about him, for they would be taken from him, and he would receive 500 bastinadoes on the soles of his feet. Emin said, he had not a single piaster about him. The young man believed him; but was sorry to say, that he must acquaint the custom-officer, as he had taken his oath, that such and such Armenians were coming upon the road. This polite way of threatening was occasioned by Mussess’s imprudence, who, when he came up to them, insulted the young man in most furious abusive terms for stealing his coat, otherwise Emin could have sent him away in a very friendly manner: but he was obliged to go to Khuy, in spite of all his endeavours to avoid it, as the suspecting custom-officer, through avarice, would have sent half-a-dozen horse to overtake and carry him up to the Khan, whether he would or not. Mussess recollecting his rashness, not knowing at first who the Armenian was, could not help being sorry for it. Emin said to himself, "Let the worst come to the worst, " and went on with great vexation of spirit; nor could he keep hold of the young Armenian to force him to go along with him a day’s journey, for he was mounted in a better horse, and took care to keep off at a great distance, after having told the nature of his office. In this disagreeable situation, Emin marched very slowly, on purpose to enter the place in the dark, so as to set out in the morning early, without being known. It being past eight o’clock, when he entered the town, and the young man then out of danger, he drew near and conducted Emin and his servants to the very caravanserai, which was also made into a custom-house, where the officers of Tiffliz Armenian merchants inhabited. They immediately making a noise, like many Jews, with dark lantherns in their hands, came in a fury to rummage the portmanteau, and at last found piasters. In the mean while, Emin tried to keep at a distance, in the dark, in order to shun them, but it was to no purpose. They first cried out to Mehrab, "Sir, we do not know this man, who seems to have no language, for he does not speak a word. " Emin finding that their inquisitiveness could not be satisfied without knowing his person, said, "What is it that you want? You have seen, good people, that there is no money; but having done your duty, go your way - let me alone. " One of them, sitting with Mehrab and several others, in a low varanda not a great way off, heard his voice, and cried out, "Oh! it is Emin Aga. " Then he, with all the rest, got up from their seats, run down, and coming from all sides, carried and made him sit at the head of the table, already laid for supper. Mehrab the head custom-officer, with his second named Vasky, told Emin plainly, before all that sat and stood by, that he, with his companion Vasky, must go and report to Ahmad Khan of Emin’s, coming to the town of Khuy, and that he had been at Khosrove among the Assyrians or Curds, to make them revolt. Emin, finding him so unmercifully resolved to betray him, without cause or any offence given, nor even a single word being spoken to him said, "My friend, do your worst; - shew your fidelity to the Khan, and shed my blood, and then satisfy your conscience for being the cause of murdering your fellow Christian, who never saw you in his life before nor offended you. But the Great God, who has saved him from many perils, will not let him fall by your means. " The villanous Mehrab said, "I shall try that God, whom you have trusted so much without money: but the crooked sword of Kizlebash will shew you the contrary. " He pronounced these words in anger, and went away with Vasky to the Khan. In half an hour he came back appearing very unhappy and dejected: he sat at the table, but said not a word for five minutes; then he opened his ungodly mouth again, saying, "Gentlemen, surely Emin Aga’s God is great, [as if he had been an unbeliever]. I went and stood in the presence of the Khan, like Judas the betrayer of Jesus, and accused him with such heavy enormous charges, that if he had been the Khan’s own brother or son, he would have ordered him to be cut into a hundred pieces: on the contrary, he abused and insulted me with such angry words and threatening language, that I thought myself very near falling a victim instead of Emin; and rebuking me, said, you wicked Armenian of Tiffliz, Emin has trusted in the only God, running through fire and sword to save you from slavery, while you, brute beasts! are endeavouring to reward him with a downfal: - get out of my sight! - tell Emin, from me, he is welcome to my country: - let him rest satisfied, stay as long as he pleases, and go when he pleases, no soul shall dare to say a word to him. " Emin said nothing, only glorifying the Omnipotent God in his mind, when the rest of the Armenians were saying to one another, "Sure this is a miracle - for we expected him by this time to be cut in pieces; yet he is sitting in peace, and will sleep in tranquillity. " The next morning he went without the walls, and lodged at an Armenian’s house a fortnight, without being disturbed, after many months fatigue and danger, not forgetting to this day, the natural humanity of Ahmed Khan the Mahomedan, to the shame of Mehrab the Armenian merchant of Tiffliz, who did not desist from endeavouring to make an end of Emin. But God, who sees the hearts, and knows the secrets of all men, will not forsake any who puts his whole trust in him.

Emin, after staying at Khuy fourteen days, and having given his disturbed mind some rest, entertained fresh hopes, contemplating, that while he continued firm in the principles of virtue, he need not be apprehensive of being immaturely sent out of the world. He undertook therefore the second time to go to prince Heraclius, though without an invitation from him: yet, as several Armenians of Tifliz, or Georgians, had informed him, that his Highness had often declared in public, that he should be glad if Emin would return to Georgia, he flattered himself, that the prince, being a Christian, had, from motives of conscience, repented of his ill-behaviour to him, or endeavoured to retrieve his disobliging the mighty Russians who had been so favourable as to recommend Emin. On the other hand, he was under the necessity to justify his character, and stop the murmuring reflections of the world, leaving no room for any man to say, that the prince’s mind was good towards him; but that he obstinately refused to be reconciled to the prince. Emin, on those two points, built a castle in the air; and putting on, a second time, a bold face, set out with an Armenian caravan, and after twelve days slow travelling arrived one afternoon at Tiffliz. He found that the prince was just gone out on a party of pleasure, and not making any halt, gallopped immediately after him, and overtook him at two miles distance going along the bank of the Cur. Emin, according to custom, dismounted; and no sooner did the prince see him holding his stirrup, and kissing his hand, than he started: but recollecting himself, expressed great joy, like a father receiving a prodigal son, and all his nobles were seemingly glad, yet much surprized to find him among them again. Then the prince, in a fatherly tone of voice, desired him to mount, after he had stood five minutes, and then expressed sorrow for his former ill-treatment with great joy seeing him a second time in his country, saying further, "My unnecessary suspicions are all vanished. - Truly you are an honour to the Armenian nation, more particularly in your zeal for Christianity; - any one else in your place, with such opportunity could never have withstood the temptation which you resisted, refusing most prudently the command of so many brave men in Dagistan. It is surprizing to me, that you came from them unmolested, when they found that you were not inclined to injure Christians. " [Here the author could not help suspecting the prince’s sincerity, since envy appeared in his countenance notwithstanding his fair speech. ]. "Pray, Emin Aga, " continued he, "how did you manage those savage Barbarians, who are thirsty for Christian blood?" Emin answered, "May it please your Highness, by speaking truth, and by virtue of your prayers, which saved me from all danger. " On hearing the word truth, to which his Highness is intirely a stranger, he cast his head down, and then lifting it up again, said, "I wish every man had your way of thinking: and hope you will forgive me, not intirely laying to my charge the ill-usage you received, which was chiefly owing to his Highness Simon the Catholicus, to the bishop Zacharia of Tiffliz, and to many others among my own Georgians. " Emin added, that he had done his duty so far, that he wished well to all evil-doers, and was indifferent what should become of himself.