Tth Life and Adventures of Joseph Emin




XXVII. 1769-70.

[A subscription made, Moore sends for Emin - Murn Vana comes to surrender to the Turks - His execution - Success arrives from Bengal - Emin returns to Calcutta, January 1770 - Cool reception by his father - Lord Bute’s son and his kindness, and that of other Englishmen - Mr. Cox, Persian Interpreter - Governor Cartier appoints Emin rosaldar to first brigade of Turkswars - Mr. Floyer, a councillor - Dinner at the Governor’s - Arrival of English mail - Letter from Lord Northumberland - Doubts of guests - Arrival of duplicate letter to the confusion of doubters - Khoja Petrus, "earthly God of the Calcutta Armenians"- Emin’s rebuke to him. ]

After three months, Mr. Moore, establishing himself in amity with the Musulman governor of Bosra, and hearing no noise, or any thing amiss in Emin’s conduct, was assured of his being the very person of whom he had before heard; and one morning, he sent Shekh Pogos, the head Armenian interpreter, with compliments, inviting Emin to dine with him. When he went, he saw Mr. Moore with a tumbler of punch in his hand, standing in the same dining room, with the table-cloth laid, as on the Christmas-day before. He cheerfully, and with polite words, presented the tumbler to him, saying, "Mr. Emin, I hope you have forgot all that passed in this place. " Emin said, "Yes, Sir, from that very day. " He then took it, and drank it to Palioz Beg’s good health. The time passed very merrily at dinner, with the rest of the Bosra gentlemen; and when it was over, as he was going to wish them a good afternoon, Mr. Moore very kindly ordered a horse; Emin begged to be excused, alleging, that it would be imprudent to confer that honour upon him at once, in that despotic government; and adding, that he should be contented only with his good protection as one of the British subjects. Mr. Moore and the rest were much pleased, and complimented him with these expressions. "Mr. Emin, your conduct is fully sufficient to protect you; both what we have heard before and what we see at present. Do as you please; we are your friends. " Then Emin, making a bow, went away, through the sun. The next morning, about eight o’clock, Beshuve, his second Syrian interpreter, came with a note from Mr. Moore, and a bag with six hundred rupees to Emin. He had heard from the other Armenians, and was much pleased to hear, that the late Aga Petrus, the son of Gregor Aga of Julpha, of the family of Minas, had offered him a sum of money which he refused, knowing well the nature of the people of the Julpha, once famous for its riches, which is not far from the disposition of modern Israelites; and being sure that presently after they would have made a handle of it to cast provoking reflections on his character, as having received their charity. The purport of the note was as follows: "Mr. Moore and the gentlemen at Bosra send their compliments to Mr. Emin, and knowing him to be in straights, desire his acceptance of six hundred rupees; and if that is not sufficient, they will be very glad to supply him with more,

Latouch, Secretary. "

He answered thus,


I return you my most humble thanks for your kind assistance in my present distressed condition, which will make me remember you gratefully all the days of my life, as having added to the many and great favours already received by me from your noble countrymen.

I remain,

Gentlemen, yours; &c. &c.

J. Emin. "

The Julpha Armenians, hearing of this conduct of Mr. Moore, and the other good-natured gentlemen, began to say to Emin, goodmorning, or good-day to you, Sir; which condescending favour they did not deign before to bestow on him; except Aga Petrus, son of Gregor Aga, mentioned before, who was really very glad of his little success. Those of opposite parties, though in awe of Mr. Moore, were outwardly somehow civil, when they met him by chance in the street passing or repassing; yet would net be sorry if the worst of disasters had crushed him to nothing. Since they were removed by Shah Abbas from Armenia to Ispahan, they grew very rich in one century, but when born and brought up there, they lost entirely all the virtues of their forefathers, and became exactly like the shopkeepers in the bazars of Ispahan. Such also is the case of the Hamadan Armenians, of whom Emin himself is one, and would have been as bad the rest, if nature had not favoured him with a mind a little above them, which induced him to leave his father, and run away to Europe; for the force even of his superficial education has made him proud enough to think that he knows himself, and can judge tolerably of others. He is very well convinced that there may be found good and bad in all countries; but wherever learning is hated, and shut up in the dark dungeon of cruel ignorance, men are no longer to be blamed, even if they resemble savage beasts, and tear each other to pieces. To return to the subject, Emin cannot in conscience condemn them wholly. A set of artful people of the same nation, most piously working on their innocent soft minds, have brought them down so low as to be despised by every body; particularly by the indigent Georgians, who firmly believe, that the Armenian nation are not created by the hand of the same God, but sprung on dung-hills like mushrooms or weeds. As there was no vessel at that time bound for Bengal, Emin was entertained, almost every day in the week, both at dinner and supper, by Mr. Moore, Mr. Beaumont, and Mr. Livius, but never so much as eat a mouthful of bread in any Julpha Armenian’s house. The kind reader may judge that Emin speaks as he feels, and speaks truth, which is the queen of all virtues.

Emin spending a very small part of his six hundred rupees, preserved the rest with great care, still in hopes of returning to Armenia, and to Mush, in Curdistan, to St. John’s monastery, where his only friend Padre Jonas was then living, who had laid up eight thousand fire-arms, ready to distribute among those that had none. Here came two Armenian petty merchants to him, one from Mashet, the other from Persia: the first with six thousand rupees worth of goods, the other with four thousand rupees in ready money, offering Emin the whole sum, if he would again venture to go to Armenia; informing him of the war commenced between the Russians and Turks, and that the people of Curdistan had been long wishing to have him among them; so that it would be the only time to undertake the plan. Considering a little, he approved their proposals, on this condition, that he was not to accept any of their money, alleging that he had just enough to furnish him with a horse for reaching Bagdad, or going over to Persia; and advising them each to buy a horse and goods, as if they were merchants for the market of the places they were to pass, till their arrival in the country before-mentioned; where he doubted not to find more men like them. This was agreed upon, and they seemed very sanguine, on finding Emin so averse to accept any of their offers. They said to him, "Sir, our lives and properties are at your service, do and command as you please; we are ready to obey you. " He said, "Good friends, it is very proper to observe one thing, since I have experienced often the disposition of Armenian merchants, who will soon fly from their words: - I cannot help doubting of what you have now said, nor can any one be so weak as to believe such a thing, till you have performed it. Go, and God be with you!" Emin, though he could easily foresee that those merchants’ resolute proposals were chimerical, yet was in some hopes to see them prosper; flattering himself with fortune’s reconciliation to him; but, alas! his opinion of merchants in general was just, their mean spirits are only fit, by indefatigable industry, to heap up riches, to give them away to the priests in laps-full, and to be plundered by the Turks or Persians!

While those two poor Armenians were busy to get things in readiness, the famous Murn Vana of the island of Kharick, came from his revolted army to Bosra, with thirteen of his officers, to crave protection. The barbarous Turks, instead of receiving him, put him in prison, with strong guards over him, and sent a report to the late Omar Pasha, governor of Bagdad. In thirty days time an order was brought for his execution, his head was cut off, and the body throw into the ruined, mud wall of a garden, about six feet on the right hand of the middle street, which led to the north gate, where the Armenians of Bosra commonly used to take a walk mornings and afternoons. At the same time another accident happened: seven stout Arab thieves were caught in one night robbing either a house or a shop; every one of them was strangled, and hung up in different places, some near the entrance of the bazars, which most people resort to or pass under, and two of them just over the place where the Armenians walk. When this happened, the two Armenian volunteer merchants came to Emin, and said, "Sir, have you heard the news, or have you seen the men who have lost their lives?" He laughing, said, "Yes. " Then again, out of breath, asked, "If he was not afraid?" He burst into a loud laugh, and answered, "No. " Then again they repeated their fear, saying, "O, dear Sir, you must have a heart like steel! Suppose we should be caught, what will be our fate then?" Emin said, "You need not be apprehensive here at Bosra, but when you are in Curdistan, should you behave basely, and not resolve either to kill or to be killed, your punishment will be worse, you will be impaled for not fighting bravely for your religion and liberty. Go your ways, follow your Jewish profession, carry on trade, pay duty for your goods, count down your poll-tax to the Mahomedans, and give your money to the holy fathers of the church, confess to them as often as you commit sins, that they may absolve and pray for you, so that when you die you may go to heaven!" The poor creatures were dashed with chagrin, went away, and said not a word.

Emin continued at Bosra about eight months and a half, before the Success galley, commanded by captain Roseboome, arrived from Bengal. He took a passage in it, and arrived in three months at Calcutta. Two hours before sun-rise he came to his father’s door, like the prodigal son, but was not received by him with the same rejoicing; he ought to have put a ring on his finger, to have killed the two fat oxen, to have invited his neighbours to a feast, to eat and be glad with him. However, with great patience he bore it for about five or six weeks, not knowing a single person among the gentlemen at Calcutta. The earl of Bute’s son, the honourable Frederick Stuart, in his infancy, at the duke of Northumberland’s house at London, happened to see Emin, and when grown bigger, heard more of the author from his Grace. Being sent to Calcutta a writer in the honourable Company’s establishment at the age of seventeen years, he had the curiosity (and was the first gentleman who had it) to find Emin out, and was very glad to see him. Mr. Stuart’s hospitality it is impossible to describe fully; his palanquin was at Emin’s father’s door regularly three times in the day, to go to breakfast, dinner, and supper with him. Emin only slept at home for several weeks together. Next to Mr. Stuart was Sir Archibald Campbell; then the late Mr. Cox the Persian interpreter. Sir Archibald introduced him first to Mr. Cartier, then governor; next to Mr. Russell, now at Visagapatam. In short, in two months time, Emin was not only taken notice of by all the gentlemen in the settlement, but caressed as their favourite; they learning from other hands, that his father after finding a son lost for twenty-one years, behaved but indifferently towards him, and thought that the English gentlemen, who are fond of novelty like other Europeans, would not be long before they would be tired of him.

Mr. Cox, one night as he was going to the Council-house, desired Emin to keep him company part of the way; and said, that if Emin would consent, the gentlemen of the settlement would very readily make a subscription for him, as at that time money was in great plenty in Calcutta: he believed it would amount to 65, 000 rupees. No sooner had he uttered those words, than Emin said nothing, turned about, and went to a great distance. Mr. Cox went on slowly, but finding him not to come on, turned back, calling loudly to Emin, and swearing upon his honour he had something to say. When they met, perceiving the reason of his taking offence, Mr. Cox made an apology. Emin said, upon his honour he would never go to him, nor was his spirit so mean as even to hear the name of a subscription; he was neither a beggar, nor a cripple, to bend himself to such a proposal; he was young and stout, and could serve the Honourable Company, if they thought him fit; and if not, it did not much signify, he was able to live in some way or another in India, where he never had known a white man starved. Though it was now made up between the two friends, yet Emin’s spirit could not be easy with it; he pretended to be sick, and never went out of doors for a fortnight, refusing all the invitations of his worthy friends. One morning Mr. Cox came with his brother, and took him to his house; and after dinner said, that he had spoken to Mr. Cartier, and was in hopes he would favour Emin with a commission in the army. Thus was he entertained a long time, and treated like one of their own countrymen, taking pleasure at balls and concerts in their garden-houses. But to his great sorrow, cruel death snatched away from him his good friend Mr. Cox, who died in three days of a high fever. This loss he felt more severely than all his past adversity. Every one that knew his real friendship towards Emin, condoled with him. The governor, Mr. Cartier, in particular, comforted him, and a few days after favoured him with an ensign’s brevet in the first brigade, and posted him as rosaldar to the first troop (or the Turkswars), commanded by lieutenant Baillie. Emin could discover, that Mr. Floyer, then a counsellor, was very much against it; but good Mr. Cartier would not change his resolution, having on his side a majority in council, Mr. Russell and Mr. Eyre, Emin’s old acquaintance in London, when they learned the use of the small-sword of Sherlock the fencing master.

At the latter end of September, Emin was at the government-house, being invited by Mr. Cartier to dinner. There were a great many gentlemen present, and the Council was sitting in the next room. Before the tablecloth was laid, in came the packet of an India-man just arrived from England, and then in the river. Mr. Cartier was called out, opened the box, and poured all the letters upon the table. On looking over the directions, he found one directed for Emin, who seeing the seal of it, immediately knew that it was from the late duke of Northumberland; and it proved to be an answer to his letter from Bosra, over land. Emin, without breaking it open, directly presented it to Mr. Cartier, who, with the Company’s letters, entered the room where the Council was sitting. He read it before the rest, and it satisfied Mr. Floyer, who had no further objection against the author, and applauded Mr. Cartier for patronising him. By this time the cloth was laid, and dinner on table. The governor and counsellors came out, and Mr. Cartier returned the duke’s letter to Emin, with his usual cheerful countenance, wishing him joy. At dinner five minutes had not past, before the gentlemen on the right and lefthand side began reflecting pretty loud, and passing judgment on the duke’s letter, on purpose that he might hear them, and by degrees elevated their voices so high that the whole company heard them saying, "He is a knowing sharp fellow; the letter is his own composing; as he was close to the table when the packet was opened, and the governor with the rest, impatient for letters, were sitting over the box, it is ten to one he shoved it in with such dexterity among the heaps, that none of us could perceive it. " For this Emin cared not a rush, but with great cheerfulness made a hearty dinner. Who should come in unexpectedly at that very instant but one captain Walker, belonging to the Madras establishment (who perhaps came in the same ship that brought the packet); without pulling his hat off, inquiring for the governor, he first begged to know if Emin was among them, and said, that he had a letter from the duke of Northumberland, with an express order from his Grace to deliver it into Emin’s own hand. The company could not help smiling at the captain’s soldierlike roughness, and said, "There is the governor, and here is Emin. " He received the second letter, which was a duplicate, without opening it, and laid both on the table before them, saying, "Gentlemen, you are welcome to read them, and be satisfied that Emin has not the art to forge another person’s hand-writing. You are excusable, such hasty opinions must be imputed to the prejudices of your education; as yet you are young, and newly entered into the world; but for the future, I hope you will be cautious, and not commit such ungenerous mistakes, the consequences of which may not be pleasing to you. " The gentlemen perused them, and, blushing, made their apologies. Every one at the table read them over, and wished Emin well, saying, that his Grace’s kindness towards him was remarkable. The good Mr. Cartier affably said, "he richly deserves it for his meritorious conduct; otherwise, you may depend upon it, his Grace would not take the pains to write so affectionately to him. "

The following is a true copy of the letter:

"(Duplicate. )

Northumberland-house, London.

March 14th, 1770.

My dear friend Emin,

I was made extremely happy a few days ago by receiving your letter, dated the 18th September 1769, which brought me an account of your being in perfect health and safety at Bosra. Your former letter of eight pages, dated Gulistan (in the mountains of Armenia) 1767, was not received till last autumn, more than two years after it was written. So long a silence had thrown all your friends here into great apprehensions concerning your situation, which appeared, from the many difficulties and dangers that surrounded you, to be truly alarming; but a great and noble mind like yours is superior to every difficulty, though it cannot always command success. You have now done all that could be expected of a brave man, who loved his countrymen, and wished to rescue them from misery and slavery. If they would not concur with you themselves, that is their fault; you have acted a noble part, and you may now retire to your father and your friends, covered with the glory of having made such bold and daring attempts, as no other man could even have conceived: After so many years of your life spent in the severest fatigue and toil, you may now, without the least injury to your reputation and fame, sit down quietly among your relations in India, and pass the remainder of your life in the comfortable enjoyment of that peace, retirement, and domestic love, which you so generously sacrificed in your younger years.

As for the plan you mention of coming hither, in order to go into the Russian service against the Turks, I fear it can answer no purpose whatever, as there is not the most distant chance of your getting round to Russia time enough to be of use. The approaching campaign will, in all probability, put an end to the war one way or other; and it is not unlikely, that even before you receive this letter, the whole affair will be at an end.

I hope you will find your father’s affairs in India in such a situation as to enable you to pass the remainder of your life with comfort and satisfaction. I shall always feel myself sincerely interested in your welfare, and shall be glad to receive accounts of your health and prosperity. All your friends in England rejoice to hear that you are safe and well; they send you their best wishes and respects. Death has deprived you of some of them: poor Miss Talbot died about a month ago. The Duchess and all my family are well. We salute you, and I am with affectionate regard,

My dear Emin,

your most faithful friend

and humble servant,

Northumberland. "

Emin omitted inserting that when Mr. Cartier favoured him with the brevet, the late rich Armenian Coja Petrus, at that time the earthly god of the other Armenians in Calcutta, being an old acquaintance of the author’s father, and hearing of his good success, thought it polite to make him some presents, and ventured to send him a large horse (worth 600 rupees), with rich Turkish silver harness, and a pair of stirrups of the same metal, each large enough to weigh four pounds of silver, together with several fine shauls, the whole to the value of about 2000 rupees; but Emin, whose spirit was above it, though poor, refused the present, and returned it with the following message:

"Several afternoons, when, in obedience to my father, I used to make you visits, you detained me in your house, in the cold season, till it was dark and foggy, without even offering me a mashal to light me home; and now, when you see me supported by the English, you send me presents! I return them with many thanks. Be pleased to send me some bread and salt, with a maund of rice, and half a maund of ghee, to confirm our friendship, and to satisfy you that I can forgive all your Asiatic artful methods of setting a father against his son, who was lost, and then found. The same noble nation, through whom you thrive with riches among the Armenians in Calcutta, have provided, and will provide for me, rest satisfied. "

At this the Armenians were astonished; but the nobleminded English admired it, commending Emin for his disinterested spirit, when they heard his simple reasons, saying, that to take any thing which is given with an ill-will, is not better than exacting it by main force; for neither Petrus, nor any of the same cast, would do a piece of kindness without having some low design in it. They are to be pitied rather than blamed, since having once lost the sweets of liberty, and being kept under exorbitant tyranny for several centuries they are become like fatherless children, and it is impossible they should conduct themselves with the same delicate sentiments as a free or polite nation.


Khoja Petrus Arathoon, the "earthly god of the Calcutta Armenians, " died in 1778.

Emin is perhaps a little unjust to him. He was the Armenian previously mentioned as having supplied the refugees at Fulta in 1756 with provisions for six months (p. 107). Mesrovb Seth says, in his History of the Armenians in India, that he was afterwards employed by Clive as a confidential agent in negotiating with Mir Jaffir for the overthrow of Suraj-ud-Daula, and gives extracts from Orme’s History of Hindostan in connection with the negotiations, in which he is spoken of as "Petrus the Armenian. "

Pietros Arathoon’s tombstone in the south choir of Nazareth’s Armenian Church, Calcutta, is a white marble stone let into the marble flooring with an inscription in an exaggerated style, as follows - "The eminent princely chief Aga Pietros Arathoon of Erivan, New Julfa, Ispahan, of the family of Abraham, was a lustrous hyacinthine crown of the whole of the Armenian nation. He acquired a great fame amongst all peoples to the glory of his nation. He worked assiduously and expended lavishly. His generosity towards the destitute orphans and widows was without parallel. By his frequent munificent gifts he erected handsome and well-embellished churches. He departed in the hope of salvation at the age of fifty-three, and was placed in this tomb with pomp, in the year of Our Lord 1778, the 29th of August, corresponding with the year 163 of the era of Azariah, the 12th of the month of Nadar. "

The word translated princely chief is Ishkhan, - prince, or absolute ruler. There were no princes, or even "meliks" in New Julfa. Next to Khojah Pietros lies his wife, under a plain stone of blackish grey marble, inscribed with five lines of Armenian, as follows.

This is the tomb of Dastagool, the daughter of Aga Minas of the family of Khoja Minas of Erivan (a parish of Julfa) and wife of Aga Pietros. She departed this life on the 3rd of June 1805.

Pietros Arathoon erected two small altars in the Armenian Church in Calcutta; on the north and south sides of the sanctuary there are respectively a vestry and a sacristy, and a flight of steps was introduced in each, leading up to an altar on a higher elevation than the principal altar. In an Armenian church there should be only the one altar, but apparently a man of Pietros Arathoon’s position was privileged to make an innovation, The inscriptions on the walls facing the congregation above the doors leading from the choirs into the vestry and sacristy are as follows. In the north choir -

This altar in the name of the Apostles S. Peter and S. Paul is [erected] to the memory of Aga Pietros, the son of Arathoon, a native of Old Erivan, in the year of Our Lord 1763.

In the south choir -

This altar in the name of S. Gregory the Illuminator is [erected] to the memory of Aga Gricor, the son of Arathoon, a native of Old Erivan, in the year of Our Lord, 1763, December 21st.

Both altars were erected in the lifetime of the donor.

Aga Gricor (Gregory), known in Indian history as Gurgin Khan, was the brother of Aga Pietros. He was in the service of Mir Kasim, commanding his soldiery, and he fought against the troops of the E. I. Co. He established a foundry at Monghyr for casting cannon and manufacturing firelocks. He died by assassination in August, 1763, and his brother erected the small attar to his memory in the same year. Aga Pietros was also the founder of the Armenian church at Saidabad, built in 1758.

In the letters written to Governor Vansittart after the massacre at Patna referred to elsewhere (published in Bengal Past and Present, vol. vi, p. 255), there is the following passage - "They likewise say that immediately on the receipt of the News of our Storming Ouda Nulla, Cossim Aly Cawn ordered all the English to be sent out on the River and sunk there, but was prevented by Coja Gregore who, had he lived, they say would have prevented the horrid Affair. " - Coja Gregore is Gregory, the brother of Aga Pietros.


Fort William. October 27. 1770


G. C.

Parole, Bombay.

The Governor has been pleased to grant Mr. Emin an Ensigns Brevet, & he is to take Rank in the Army as Youngest Ensign.

I am,


Your most ob. H. Serv.

(Signed) Robt Kyd

Town Major

Mr. Emin.


(Copy of document in the Record Department of the Government of India, kindly supplied by Mr. A. F. Scholfield, M. A., Officer in charge. )