Tth Life and Adventures of Joseph Emin




XXV. 1768.

[Young Georgian nobleman guides Emin to Tzeretel - Dangerous roads infested by robbers - Recognised by an Emeral Georgian - Others begin to praise Emin and denounce Heraclius, after getting pretty well heated with wine - Accommodated by Armenian merchants - Return of Prince Solomon of Emeral Georgia - How dinner was served to the prince - Solomon’s wonderful wine and the sociable effect it produces on Emin - Emin continues his journey - Armenians who beg his protection on the road - Turkish tribes who molest the Armenian and Georgian caravans - A young Armenian - Tribesmen appear, old friends of Emin, and take him with them, quitting his troublesome countrymen - Turkman Chief - Terror of the Armenians moves Emin, who again consents to accompany them - Mahomedans warn him they will again treat him badly so soon as they are safe - which is exactly what happens - Mahomed Hassan Khan, Governor of Ganja, offers him a command, but Emin refuses – His own security amongst these tribes of alien faith. ]

The next morning, a poor young nobleman of Emeral Georgia was going to Tzeretel, the first place of that principality, and willingly became Emin’s companion and guide. This poor nobleman had neither arms nor a horse to ride on; and the road was most dangerously infested (as they said) by Lazguis, and they had full twenty-five miles to march to their journey’s end. They were hardly gone from the village half a mile, when another Emeralian Georgian, a stout young man, joined them, armed with a firelock and a hanger; he knew the way better than the first, and said, they must take another route for fear of meeting robbers. Emin agreed, and said he should not object to any way he thought the fastest. As he had been instructed before in the village by an Armenian priest, as well as by others, he told them in the way he had a letter from Heraclius to Mipe or prince Solomon, upon business of some consequence. After travelling five or six miles, they discovered, on the left of the road, at about 500 yards distance, seven Lazguis sitting down upon the grass. When they saw Emin and his comrades, they rose in haste, and put themselves in readiness. His companions took to their heels, but he, going on slowly, and expecting to be taken, had advanced no farther than fifty yards, when he fortunately found twenty armed Emerals sitting down to rest in the road, with their knapsacks lying before them. No sooner had they seen the Lazguis’ heads, and heard the hard thumping of their feet, than they got up and cocked their firelocks to receive them; but the Lazguis, little expecting to meet many armed men, and hoping to take Emin with his two companions, retired quickly to the neighbouring woods. They were said afterwards to have surprised six travellers coming from the same village, and taken into slavery two Georgian boys. According to the ancient superstitions of the Greeks, which prevail to this day all over the East, they firmly believe that the number three will be fatal in its kind: yet, Emin, in about twenty-four hours, fortunately escaped the two preceding dangers from rapid rivers, and the third from the Lazguis, when he might have been either killed or taken prisoner, if those Christians had not been upon the road, and he, knowing better things, never regarded that idea, imputing it to Omnipotent God’s infinite goodness, who saved him from being destroyed. He (Emin) in honour could not leave those brave men without expressing his acknowledgments in a long oriental speech, thanking them heartily, and then he departed from them.

The road being divided, each party set out on their several ways. After marching, with immense fatigue, through rough grounds and thick forests, till fifteen minutes after sun-set, Emin and his companions came at last to the side of another river, running down from the high lands with the velocity of a dart. Unfortunately the bridge was made of the same stuff or bavin as the former one, the side of it being overflowed about twelve feet, where the ground was rather flat; but they did not think it advisable for Emin to pass. The young nobleman stayed with him on the bank. The armed man was anxious to go to his family, and an abasy (equal to a shilling) was given to him, to get some bread and wine for his companions from Tzeretel, which was a little way from the other side of the river; but the man, being perhaps fatigued, did not return. That night Emin slept on the turf, covered with his felt coat. The young man, his first comrade, with great good-nature, took care of his horse, which was grazing all the time. The next morning early, the other man, who went home in the night, came back, made his apology for disappointing them, and returned the money. Emin desired him to keep it with much persuasion, but he would by no means accept it. He said, that he was a Christian, and Emin’s guest; that they were not like the Cartuel Georgians, who sell their fathers for an abasy and are no better than Persians. Then they stript off their coats, led the horse over the river, and with much trouble got on the bridge, and walked to the other side. The young man held the beast, while the other returned, and carried Emin on his back, setting him on the bridge. When he was gone over, he saw, at about 100 yards distance, a thatched house on a rising ground, belonging to that noble young man, where a beautiful young lady was standing, and looking about like an innocent dove. She was the young man’s wife, and lately married. He desired Emin, with politeness and good-nature, to alight on the green turf, making apologies, and telling him that it was preferable to his house, where no carpet was spread worthy of his reception; for the devilish Turks on the one hand, and the Lazgui inroaders on the other, had utterly impoverished him. This pathetic speech of the gentleman affected him so deeply, as to make him forget all his misfortunes. The young host perceiving that, was no less sensible of it, and begged him to sit down, not knowing all the while who his guest was. He then went up to the house, and brought two large cuy (or gurglets) of good wine, with some fresh cheese, and Jerusalem white bread. Emin at that time was forty-two years of age, and hardly relished wine; but that day, through fatigue and hunger, he liked it very much, and it made him forget at the time all his past dangers and troubles. Whilst he was eating and drinking with his host and some of the neighbouring people behold, all on a sudden, a grey-headed Emeral fell down on his knees and kissed Emin’s hand, then rising up, stood before him with his hands crossed on his breast. This unexpected circumstance surprized the company; and the old man said to the host, "My lord Ivane, do you not know the gentleman whose hand I kissed?" Being answered no; he said, "He is Samckhy’s patona (which signifies prince of Armenia); his name is Emin Aga, whom I have seen at St. Petersburgh; he had come thither from England, with letters of recommendation from English nobles, and was much respected by the great men in all the Russian empire, was introduced to the grand nazir Worronzoff, and then presented to the late king Tahmuraz father to Heraclius. " He was going to tell the whole that he had seen there, when Emin interrupting him, desired him to sit down by lord Ivane, whose name he just then learned, and who could not contain himself for joy. The people being acquainted with this news, gathered from all sides bringing each of them a gurglet of wine, bread, meat, and boiled kids, that they might sit by, eat, drink, and be merry. But when they understood that prince Heraclius had driven him out of Cartnel, they were sunk deep in sorrow, and comforted him as well as they could, railing much against his highness’s barbarous behaviour, with many unbecoming words. All this Emin did not approve, and appeased them in a friendly manner; adding, that the prince did not deserve to be blamed; that it was owing to his own credulous weakness, in twice having recourse to the prince, who was master of his own country, and might do as he thought proper. Nor to this day has Emin spoken ill of Heraclius; but cannot help pitying him for not knowing well enough those men who could be of service to him. Emin did not understand the Georgian language, but an Armenian, a native of Tifliz, happened then to be among them; he acted as linguist, and explained to them his speech, word for word. They were much astonished, and commended the goodness of his heart, after such unchristianlike treatment from the prince; swearing by all the saints above, (they were pretty well heated with wine), that Emin deserved to be ruler of his countrymen. They went on beyond the limits of prudence, wishing that he had the command of Cartuel, and of Emeral also, which were in a great measure exhausted by their own tyrant lords. Emin could not help reprimanding them (yet in a most friendly manner), saying, "Gentlemen, I am sorry for these expressions, which cannot be of any benefit, but, on the reverse, when carried to the ears of any prince with absolute power, would be considered as provocations, rather than imputed either to ignorance or to innocence. Consider what you are saying; it is my duty, as a man of honour, to wish well to his Highness. " They said, "You are not in his country, what makes you speak well of him?" Then Emin said, that he was neither a Georgian nor a Persian, to speak ill of any man behind his back, much less would he speak against the prince whose bread and salt he had eaten so long a time. They then cried out, "Martalia (or true), you are a downright Armenian Christian; but we Georgians are a very strange people, and know no better. " Then bending down their heads in a respectful manner, they made a long speech to ask his pardon. In this sort of conversation the entertainment lasted till an hour before sun-set, when a man from the lord of Tzerelet came, and making a low bow, conducted him to an Armenian thatched house, to lodge there till his lord should return with prince Solomon, who was gone pleasuring about the country.

During exactly forty days, Emin was accommodated and entertained by the same Armenian petty merchants; when the chiefs returned, with about 300 aznavurs, or knights, all from twenty-five to thirty years of age. So many handsome well-made men he never had seen before, except the English Oxford blues, the king’s horse grenadiers and the Leib company (or the company of lions), the body-guard of her imperial majesty Catherina. Prince Solomon immediately alighted. Emin waited on him, and was received very politely; but had no inclination to make a long stay there, and only gratified his curiosity of seeing that valiant Solomon, who really had saved his countrymen from being sold to the Turks, and their freedom continues to this day. Half an hour after this the dinner was ordered; and it was curious enough to observe the rusticity of its manner. The prince sat down on the short grass, which served for a tablecloth; the small ends of branches of trees were cut, and the leaves spread before all the company; bread and khavia (or fish roe) were placed before every body, without any distinction. It surprized Emin to see lord Tzeretel, about five yards from the company, gently digging the ground. When it was near two feet deep, there appeared a large flat stone of twenty inches diameter; lifting it up, he opened a large cistern brimful of wine, and the servants with leathern buckets began filling their gurglets, each holding above three English gallons, one of which they brought, and set between every two persons, who had flat silver cups in their pockets to drink out of. But the wine which was set before the prince was brought from Tzeretel’s own house, his cup being a good deal larger than the rest, holding almost one-third of a quart bottle. The prince filled it with his own hand, and presented it to Emin, sitting down just by him knee to knee; and he, with a shew of Asiatic modesty, declining to make so free as to drink in his company, the people with one voice blamed him, saying, "His highness confers so great an honour on you, that you must accept it immediately. " The prince interrupted them saying, "You are the first man among all the Armenians, and deserve all due honours; therefore I thought proper to give this wine with my own hand. " He added, with great good-nature, "Patona Emin, I will lay you a bet, after you have drank this, if you do not ask for a second or third cup of your own accord, but abstain from drinking more, you shall have my horse, but if you do, I will take your horse from you. " Emin agreed, casting his eyes on the prince’s horse; then he took the noble cup and drank it; the wine created such an appetite, that he could not know how to eat his bread; he thought his head grown as big as St. Paul’s church, and his arms like two monuments. A few minutes after, he asked the prince for a second bumper, acknowledging that the wine conquered him, and that he was growing so big, that neither the prince’s nor his own horse was sufficient to carry him, nay even an elephant would be no more than a kid to him. This pleasantry brought on such merriment in the prince and the company, that for half an hour they could not hold themselves from laughing. Emin was not become a giant only, but as great an orator as Cicero. The prince said, "Now you are touched by the magnet of a sociable disposition, tell me your opinion of me, and of prince Heraclius, who has treated you so ill?" Emin said, "Sir, there is a great difference between you and Heraclius. " Solomon asked what? He expected to be praised as superior, and he was by all accounts as brave, and of an older family. But Emin having too much of the Armenian blood in him to flatter, besides the generous wine he had drank from the hand of the prince, spoke his mind to this effect: "Sir, prince Heraclius, from many years experience in the toils of war, is worthy to be the emperor of Persia, and yourself his generalissimo; provided you will both resolve not to put on always, and every where, the religious habit of your holy church, to condemn all others, and to commend yours only. Such conduct will soon bring over the honest Armenians to furnish you with all the necessaries of life, and true Christianity will thrive better. " Upon this, Solomon with all the company hung down their heads a long while, and seemed as if they had drunk no wine at all; then lifting them up, they unanimously and soberly applauded Emin’s just observation. He did not expect to please the prince so well, thinking he had said too much, and with too little partiality. Then Solomon asking him to stay there, he declined it, saying, he had been away from his father twenty years, and must in duty return to obtain his paternal blessing. The prince asked, what made him come thither? Emin answered, "The celebrity of a prince who has been the instrument of delivering his country from the subjection to the Turks. " Then the prince bad him farewell, praying God to prosper him in all his undertakings.

Emin being at some loss which way to betake himself, stayed some days longer, not without the entreaties of several persons to remain there, and enter into Solomon’s service. While he was deliberating with himself, there came a nobleman from Heraclius to Solomon on some business, and was a little shy of speaking to Emin; but his people told him, that the whole conversation he held with Solomon had been laid word for word before Heraclius; who was astonished at Emin’s prefering him to Solomon, without fear; especially when he had been used so barbarously, after a solemn oath to treat him well. Emin believing this news to be strictly true, went with the same party back to Gory, where Heraclius was. There Zacharia, the old bishop of Tiffliz, saw him, and told him, that prince Heraclius was much pleased with Emin’s speaking respectfully of him, and intended to send him in a public character, with a letter, on some great affair. Emin, well knowing the temper of Heraclius, told him, that his father was growing old, and had sent him an order to go to Bengal. Zacharia said no more; nor did he go to see the prince, who, hearing that, could make no objection. He stayed there only two days, set out with some armed Armenians, and in two days more came to Tiffliz. The next day he joined a caravan, without looking back, to go to Ganja. In this caravan were twelve armed Armenian merchants, who begged of him to keep them company, as there was great fear on the road from the Lazguis; desiring him to command them in case of an attack, and promising to give him four tumans (or eighty current rupees). Emin, very glad of the opportunity to be of service to them, gave his word not to depart from them.

The road, for four or five days journey between Tiffliz and Ganja, is very populously inhabited by Tarakamas (or Turk tribes), who were removed by Shah Abbas from some part of Persia, and made subjects by Heraclius after the death of Nadir Shah. They serve also as troops under him, when ordered; but in the months of June and July, they, with all their families and cattle, &c. ascend some high mountains on the frontiers of Armenia, about two days journey off, to avoid the hot season. These men, generally trained up in war, change their habits for Lazgui dresses, to disguise them, and forming different parties, become great inroaders themselves, and lying in ambuscade, fall upon the caravans, which are composed commonly of Armenian merchants, whom they kill, or enslave and sell to the Lazguis. In this manner, the Armenians or Georgians are from time to time molested, by the careless management of the famous prince Heraclius, who judges it perhaps the best method to serve his own interest, like many other Asiatic khans, of whom the author in some places speaks well, as he ought, because they really have some merit; but in others, tells his sentiments without reserve, from a regard to truth.

Before Emin proceeded on that dangerous journey, the caravan had pitched about five miles out of the town, at a place called Sokanluk, where he was consulting with those poor merchants, and instructing them in the method of fighting; when all of a sudden, a young man among them named Nazar, of the city of Tabriz, knowing Emin’s precarious situation, and apprehensive of the prince’s sending after him, took it into his I head to be very abusive, and said he would be the leader. Emin with great patience bore his pertness, and said not a word. That very instant, two horsemen of the above mentioned Tarakamas arrived from Tiffliz, pretending they were going to Iravan; and being Emin’s old acquaintance, were exceedingly glad of the insolent behaviour of Nazar, and with all politeness begged him to go along with them. He consented immediately, mounted his horse, left the Armenians, and set out. As the road divided, they went westward, and after passing some high lands came to a village on the brow of a hill, where they found Aly Kuly Beg, one of the chiefs of the Cossack Tarakamas, who had staid behind with his family, and about twenty well-mounted stout troopers. He also was glad of Emin’s being affronted by the young Armenian of the caravan, and said, "Let them go to the devil, with the vali their prince, since they do not know the worth of Emin. " Having halted there, they eat some bread and tyr (or sour milk), and were just getting ready to set out, when there arrived four of those poor Armenians, with tears in their eyes, almost in despair. They begged Aly Kuly Beg to order a convoy of half a dozen horsemen to conduct the caravan safe to Ganja. He said, after making some difficulties, that he would order only four men, for whom they must pay twelve tumans, to carry them no farther than a stage called Minoris, the inhabitants of which were gone up to the mountains for two months, as usual; and there the gangs of those pretended Lazguis generally make their rendezvous. This answer terrified the Armenians. The Mahomedans; glorying to see them in distress, reprimanded them severely, and cursed Heraclius for his tyrannical government, saying, "Why does not he order a party of horse to keep the roads quiet?" Emin, hearing all those reflections, said nothing, but his distracted heart felt enough within. The Armenians fell on their knees, holding his feet, and begging him for God’s sake to take care of them, and to convoy the caravan to Ganja; adding, that if they should not make a full recompense for his trouble, their families, wives, and innocent children, would earnestly pray God to reward him with success in all his undertakings. They requested him, in a most submissive manner, to overlook the offence of Nazar the brutal Tabrizian. Emin seeing this pathetic behaviour, melted into tears, and granting their request, undertook to go with them. Ali Kuly with his gang were much affected, and said, "Go your ways, you unthinking Christians! Emin’s compassion has saved all your lives and properties: the more shame for the vali who knows not his merits, for we have often seen him in terrible actions against the Lazguis. " Then he said, "Emin Aga, you are in the right to take care of your countrymen; but let me tell you, that they will not behave to you as they ought, after they get to Ganja. " Emin said, "That does not much signify, as long as I can be of service to them that is all I want for my satisfaction. "

They set out with the caravan, and their journey was completed exactly in five stages. They were frequently visited by those Tarakamas, or sham Lazguis, every marching day, sometimes twice, and sometimes three times a-day. They rushed on sword in hand, all well-mounted, and ready to kill or plunder; but when they found Emin to be there, they did no harm; they only wished that he had not been among them. They now reached the square gardens of Ganja about two miles off, and though, while they were travelling, they had been frightened out of their senses, and had given over the hope of escaping death, looking as if they had been taken out of their graves; yet now, seeing themselves safe with their goods, their dastardly hearts revived, and they began to exhibit their mean disposition, speaking to one another on purpose that Emin might hear them, in these words: "He was a fool to believe that our fears were real, and to let his compassion be moved, and be weak enough to be tempted by the offer we made to pay him four tumans for his trouble (each tuman makes twenty current rupees): besides, he might easily have let those roguish Cossacks make a booty of us, when they swore to share it with him like brothers. It is astonishing how much they respected him, as if he really had been their lord, only because they had been in parties with him, while in Georgia under the vali against the Lazguis. Not long ago he first came from Russia to Tiffliz, and was thence driven away by Heraclius; and this is the second time, when every Mahomedan was thirsty for his blood, and it was expected by all the world he should have been cut off; but on the contrary, he is become their darling. " This speech was made by one of them named Anton; but Hovsep, on the other hand, a man of some consideration, said to Anton, "You are an imprudent foolish man. Emin at first said, he should expect nothing from us, what makes you take pains to displease him. He did not spare his life to save ours. All that goodness is owing to the Christian education he received in Frankistan, which aided his mind to be of service to us; and we see he is capable of travelling over all parts of the country with as much tranquillity as if he was walking in his own garden. " Emin laughed: then Anton said, "Sir, you are obliged to make a jest of it. If it were in your power, you would demand a double sum of us. You are afraid of Mahomed Hassan Khan, whom you defeated with a handful of Armenian mountaineers at the battle of Gedashen, and almost ruined his late father’s government by your Frankistan politics, which you effected at the head of some thousands of savage Lazguis. Depend upon it, on the least motion you pretend to make here, or at Ganja, we will inform against you. Indeed, the khan will soon hear of your coming of your own accord to his slaughter-house, marked like a ram, to be butchered by his fury. " Hovsep and the rest reprimanded him, and said, "You well know that his conduct has gained him the good-will of all these country-people. To vex him in that manner, and put him out of patience, is not right; suppose he should lay violent hands upon you, who will restrain him and turn his horse about? or who will be the man to go after him?" Anton said, "I am well assured he will do no such thing; for the chains of Christianity on his neck, and the iron cuffs on his wrist will not let him stir an inch. " Emin could not help laughing again at the drollery of Anton’s sentiments, mixed with malignant expressions. He thanked him in the main for his good opinion of Emin’s faith.

At last they arrived at Ganja, and entered a caravanferai. Emin found a near relation of his, named Agababa, who had come thither from Bagdid with merchandize; and at his habitation he took up his lodging. After ten or twelve days were passed, Mahomed Hassan Khan the governor of Ganja, sent his first aid-du-camp with compliments, saying that the khan would be glad to see him. He went immediately with the officer, and coming to the place, made a salam to the khan, who was sitting with his brother Aghajan Beg, in a large varanda, four feet above the ground, and about five hundred well-armed and well-dressed officers standing in the court-yard, round the four sides of a large cistern, or pond, with fountains playing in it, which is a great luxury among the Asiatic lords. The khan hardly suffering Emin to stand a moment, desired him instantly to walk up and sit about three yards from him. After some ceremonious compliments between them, and a collation of sweet-meats, sherbet, and coffee, the khan began to speak with great cheerfulness, saying, "I am very glad to see you have done with Heraclius, to whom you went twice without his knowing your value. I wish my late father had not, like him, treated you in so arrogant a manner above two years ago, when you came hither with two thousand Lazgui horse, offering your service: his refusal has been the chief cause of our country’s depopulation; nor would Melick Yusup have left us, whose battle you fought at Gedashen against me, defeating my army of about five thousand men. In that action your conduct alone saved him and his tribe. I understand the cowardly merchants of Tiffliz, whose caravan was loaded with goods, have made your laudable conduct their ground of a base information against you, imagining that Mahmud Hassan Khan would be mean enough, like their vali, to molest you. By this conduct they hoped to make you fear them so as not to demand the four tumans, your just due. They are mistaken in their dishonourable conjectures. If you chuse it, I will this instant order yasawalls, or officers of severity, to exact forty round tumans of them, instead of four; besides chastising them handsomely for their ungrateful insolence. " Emin was surprized to find the khan so well-informed of every thing that had passed in the way, for he repeated the whole history of their mean behaviour, word for word, in a loud voice, before all his officers. Emin thanked the khan for his friendship and powerful interposition in his favour, but humbly implored him not to persist in it, and to forgive them; quoting the following two lines in Turkman verse: -

"Yakhchilugha yakhchilug har egyden ishi dur,

Yamanlugha yukhchilugh ur egyden ish dur. "

that is to say, To return good for good, is the duty of a common man, but to return good for evil, is the conduct of the brave. " Mahmud Hassan was much pleased, and admired Emin’s placability of temper, and swore by Mortzaly, that if he had been in Emin’s place, and so poor in pocket, with the same opportunity, he would have made them pay very dear for their ungrateful Jewish behaviour. He added, "Since you have so great an attachment for the Armenians, and even have shewn compassion to the Curdish Mahomedans, I should be very glad if you would stay with me, and accept a command in my service. " Emin thanked him, and begged to be excused, since, as he was resolved to return to his father in Bengal, it would not be possible for him to accept the khan’s kind offer. The conversation being over, Emin took his leave, and went away. At the gates of the tent he met with those poor Tifflizians, who having heard from other Armenians that were present what had passed between the khan and him, fell trembling on their knees, kissing his feet, asking pardon, and making some nonsensical speeches; calling him their saviour; which word disgusted him so much, that he took no notice of them, and said not a word. He staid about three months at Ganja, where the inhabitants behaved so very hospitably and politely, as to make him forget all his hardships through the ill-treatment of Heraclius and his unmanly subjects, who, though of the Armenian religion, are entirely assimilated with the false disposition of the Georgians, having no probity, like others who are either under the Turks, or the Persian.

Emin, during eight years in the before-mentioned countries, so well established his character, by virtue of his European education and conduct, that from princes to soldiers, from rich and poor, all became his friends, so that he could travel alone every where without fear. They finding his intention was not founded on principles of violence or tyrannical ambition, wished him success in his honest undertakings: being convinced by Emin’s harangues, that if the Armenians, who are scattered all over the world, great part of them through oppression having taken refuge even in Turkey, could hear that the Persians treated them well, they would resort back to their own country again, and become of infinite service to the kingdom; particularly if they were told that there was a person of their own nation at their head. He used to add, that the Persians need not be in the least apprehensive of a revolt, well knowing that the Armenians were but few in comparison of the Persians; their country being so small in extent, and so ill situated in the midst of three large empires, that in case of a design to become independent, they might be crushed at all times by any one of those mighty powers; and of course they would resolve to continue faithful in peace and quiet, as in old times, or from the reign of the house of Safavia to that of Shah Sultan Husein, since which the kingdom had been depopulating every year. Thus he lulled the minds of the khans, warriors, and husband-men, and made his preaching familiar to them.