Tth Life and Adventures of Joseph Emin




XXIX. 1775-1780.

[Emin and Moore - To Bushire - To Shiraz - Petition to Shah - Goes to Julfa - Catholicos Simon’s treacherous plot against his life - Rather than fall a victim to the envy of this ecclesiastic, consents to marriage and life in Julfa - Disturbed state of Persia after death of Kherim Khan - His brother - Revolt of Ali Murad - Assassination of Zaki Khan - Saduk Khan - Ali Murad at Ispahan - Trouble at Ispahan and Julfa - Persians despoil Armenian churches - By Ali Murad’s orders Emin raises a troop of Armenians - Ali offers to make him governor of Julfa - Immediate jealousy of bishop of Julfa - Emin narrowly escapes death at Ali Murad’s levée - More plotting against him - "A dangerous man because he drinks no wine and is always sober" - But Ali Murad refuses to listen, and declares none shall molest him while he reigns. ]

Emin, a year before, having been favoured with a letter of recommendation from Mr. Moore to Simon, patriarch of Armenia, had, on coming back from Bosra, entered as a volunteer in that affair, intending to exert himself in it, and hoping to gain Mr. Moore’s good opinion; but unfortunately he was disappointed. Having been almost two months in that station doing nothing, he thought it proper to go to Mr. Moore and take leave; but he in a friendly manner expressed some little anger in the following words: "Emin, I must tell you that you are not in your senses. - I advise you to drop your chimerical scheme of going to Armenia: the ungrateful people of that country are not worthy to be made free. - What I have heard of your conduct in Europe agrees with these two months service before my eyes, in which you have distinguished yourself in a becoming manner. Be advised by me - return to Bengal again. - I will write to Mr. Hastings a very strong letter in your favour, and he will promote you. " But Emin was infatuated, and could not be persuaded.

With much difficulty Emin obtained permission to depart, and landed at Bushir, where he staid about seven months. He then joined a caravan and went to Shiraz, where he remained nine months on purpose to avoid the suspicions of the Persians. In that interval he drew a sort of memorial or petition to the late king of Persia, the famous Carim Khan, stating, that he should be happy to live in his majesty’s dominions, and to settle himself in any part of it that would suit his circumstances. The king, accepting his arzi, sealed it, and so did his vizier Mirza Jaffer, with all the Mirzas of his court. After staying so long a time in Shiraz, he travelled with a caravan to Julpha in Ispahan where, flattering himself with hopes of setting out in another caravan, he was informed by some people that the Beglar Beg (or governor) had given orders, that on the day preceding the departure of the caravan he should be laid hold of. Marcus Vardapit (or the monk) who had at that time brought presents from Etzmiatzin (or the Three Churches) for Carim Khan, and, having returned from Shiraz, was going in the same caravan, told Emin, in a friendly manner, that if he should escape at Ispahan by some means or other, yet he would be made an end of by Simon the Catholicus of Etzmiatzin, who would deliver him to the fury of Husein Ali Khan, the governor of Iravan. He added, it was true that all the Armenians were ready to receive and be commanded by Emin; but that their souls and bodies depended on his Holiness’s will and pleasure, lest he should damn them to eternity: therefore he and many more advised Emin to be married and save his life. He, considering awhile, consented rather than fall a victim to the enormous envy of an earthly unmerciful idol. Simon’s clandestine manner of writing letters to several places, giving the injurious appellation of tyrant to Heraclius, whom he for several years had flattered with the title of sovereign lord of Armenia, was at last discovered by intercepting his Holiness’s letters and the discovery cost him pretty dear, the prince exacting great sums of money from him for a duplicity so contrary to his holy profession. Both those great men in power, Heraclius and Simon, acknowledged their error in not knowing the merit of a well meaning man; the former not putting confidence in him, the latter not encouraging him. Concerning his Holiness, Emin said, that if he had assisted him, he would not have been so dashed by the chagrin of his own conduct; he would not have been treated so ill by the Vali of Georgia; which speech his Holiness took so much to heart, that in two or three years time he died in a consumption.

Here the author may seem to speak rather more of his own merit than he ought; but if the good reader could have been an eye-witness of his European management in those barbarous countries, and could have seen how near he was to the accomplishment of his original plan, he would have blamed him for not writing every particular of his life, which he endeavours to make as brief as possible. He must have succeeded, if those two powerful persons had not been jealous of him. They afterwards were sorry that they did not know him better. But it was then too late. Emin therefore married principally for the safety of his life, and in six years, Providence blessed him with four children, two of them male, and two of them female.

When Carim Khan died, the kingdom of Persia fell topsy-turvy. Zaky Khan, his brother, after destroying four or more khans at Shiraz, sent Aly Murad Khan, his lieutenant, to Ispahan, to check Zolfkhan Khan the Ovshar Aly Murad. After cutting him off, with his uncle and eighteen of his relations, and putting a mob of twenty thousand men to flight, he revolted from Zaky Khan, who, after reigning in Shiraz forty days, marched out with a hundred thousand men to chastize Aly Murad; but within three days march he was assassinated by his troops, in a village called Coshkizan. Abulfat Khan, son of Carim, who was with Zaky’s army as a prisoner, being set free by the assassins and proclaimed king of Persia, was conducted in triumph back to Shiraz, and set on the throne of his father Carim. Saduk Khan, his uncle, who had fled before from the fury of the late Zaky Khan, returned from Systan, and finding his unworthy nephew Abulfat Khan in a deplorable state of debauchery, drinking with his footmen, or common servants, and dancing-women, day and night, without minding the precarious government of his dominions, took that opportunity to dethrone and imprison him. During these transactions, Aly Murad, at Ispahan, ordered a proclamation to be sounded in the ears of the people and troops, that his revolt, from the first to the last, was on account of Carim’s family, and that his intent was to replace Abdulfat Khan on the throne of his late father. In this manner masking his wicked design, at the head of 40, 000 men he marched out, defeated and slew Zolfkhan Khan, another Ovshar prince of Zangan Sultan, within three days journey, of Hamadan, whose army amounted to 25, 000 men. During Aly Murad’s absence from Ispahan, Saduk Khan, his step-father, reigning in Shiraz, sent Jaffer Khan, of the same mother as Aly Murad, with about 12, 000 men, to take possession of Ispahan, which accordingly he did. Aly Murad, after his success against Zolfkhan, had marched down to Mazindaram, and also defeated Aga Mahmud Khan the Cajar; but hearing the news of Saduk Khan’s proceeding, he was much exasperated and more so by his sending Jaffer to Ispahan to succeed him. The just government of Jaffer in three months almost relieved the poor subjects from their distresses; yet, four days before the tyrant’s arrival, the good Jaffer’s army deserted, and went over to Aly Murad, while Jaffer, with a few of his own domestics, flew to Shiraz. Aly Murad, a month after his entering the town of Ispahan, detached 40, 000 men, of whom he gave the command to his nephew Seid Murad Khan, who marched four days journey, and encamped with his army at Shiraz. Aly Murad being intoxicated with his late mobbish victories, began to exact unreasonable sums of money from the citizens, impoverishing several families; giving himself up to drinking, and to all kinds of debauchery, so as to strip himself stark naked, and to dance like a harlequin in the palace before his general officers and troops; in a place which, two centuries before, was revered by the Persians as a sanctum sanctorum. He esteemed himself firmly established on the throne of Persia, when news came that Seid Murad’s army was dispersed without fighting by Aly Naky Khan, the third son of Saduk Khan by another woman. Aly Murad’s standing army, already offended at his foolish behaviour, mutinied, carrying away several chests of his treasures; and in their way, plundering the people and the shops in the bazar. Some of them went to their own country, others marched to join Aly Naky, except forty or fifty Armenians and Georgians, who took care of his haram, or apartments of the women, and fled with him to Hamadan, and that with great difficulty. After four days more, Aly Naky arrived at Ispahan, in as much triumph, because he had deceived the poor people of Yezd, as if he had defeated the army of the Grand Signor, and taken Constantinople. The wretched young devil, in whom the subjects as well as the troops had put great hopes, because he was a son of the prudent Saduk Khan, behaved ten times worse than Aly Murad. Instead of pursuing him immediately, when he might have taken him with ease, he halted forty days at Ispahan where he and his officers fell to drinking wine, defiled four hundred virgins of the town, and forced two girls from Julpha, one of them out of the nunnery, the other a daughter of a secular priest. It was lucky for the Armenians that their children were not so handsome as the Persians; otherwise they might all have been torn away from their parents, and ruined by the lust of those monsters. During that time, Aly Murad recovered himself at Hamadan, where Aly Kuly Khan of Kirmansha, with 12, 000 Curds, joined him. The multitude of Ispahan were disgusted at Aly Naky’s beastly conduct; and the diabolical Mirzas, who are the ruin of that empire, sent private letters to Aly Murad, encouraging him to march to Ispahan. He set out, therefore, and came within a day’s march of it, when Aly Naky went out to Muchakher to give him battle; but his army left him and joined Aly Murad; whilst he, with some cavalry, fled to Shiraz; where afterwards he, with his father, mother, and several brothers, after a siege of thirteen months, were taken and put to death by the cruel Aly Murad who, after three days, arrived at Ispahan in triumph; kindling again the fire of oppression, bastinadoing the men, and burning the breasts of the rich women, and taking from all the subjects great sums of money, so as to render that city once more splendid with extorted riches, exactly as in the reign of the tyrant Nadir Shah. All these events happened within the space of little more than two years. The patriarch Mackertish of Julpha, with several monks, were taken up and beaten most unmercifully, till they confessed where they had concealed the silver and gold vessels of the church, which consisted of eucharists, crosses, and sentyres, to the value of seven thousand tumans, besides rich diamonds, rubies, and other gems, fixed in them. The precious metals were melted and struck into money; and the jewels were kept in the king’s treasury.

In all this time, no soul passed by the door of Emin, nor said a word to him: but when the storm of Aly Murad’s tyranny was over, the Georgians, who had been the chief instruments of ruining the monastery, and the scattered inhabitants of Julpha informed him, that Emin had been in the armies of the English, and understood their art of fighting. Aly Murad hearing that, gave orders to one of his men, named Mirza Abdul Carim, who came to Julpha to find out Emin, and inlist him sultan, or lieutenant-general, whether he would or not; telling him plainly, that if he shewed the least unwillingness, his head should be cut off immediately; and that it was his majesty’s special command to inlist twelve Armenian young men of Julpha and give him the command of them. "You are now, " said he, "to increase your detachment with as many recruits as you can raise, and train them up like Franks, so as to be ready in eight months to march with his majesty against the city of Shiraz; and you, with your twelve men, must attend his levee to-morrow morning, to make your salutation. " Emin, finding himself innocently in a scrape, and fearing the tyrant’s resentment, made no objections. The next day, about nine o’clock in the forenoon, he went to Ispahan, and entered the palace of the late Shah Abbas, (commonly called Favila Talrab, ) making his bow, as directed by the aid-de-camp, and standing in the ranks of general officers. After ten minutes, Aly Murad ordered twenty tumans to be given to him, to be distributed among his men; and appointed him, with his twelve recruits, to be his life-guards, next to the haram where his majesty slept. Within a few days, Emin received three different lists from the Armenians of Julpha, each containing one hundred and ten men ready to enter into that devil’s service. Emin imprudently, not considering the ill-consequence, refused them, at the hazard of his own head, rather than suffer so many thoughtless Christians to be ruined or destroyed; for if the next competitor should overcome the villain, they must stand the chance not only of losing their lives, but of being enslaved with all their families, and having their effects confiscated; instances of which they had before seen with their own eyes. Emin reprimanded them in a brotherly manner, till they were quiet, and went about their business. He little thought of his precarious condition, his mind being agitated by despair, and not finding any means to deliver himself from the trap he was caught in. But Providence, who has the care of all mankind, unexpectedly delivered him, though not without some danger.

Aly Murad, and all his generals, observing Emin to be so sanguinely attentive to his duty, said, that he would give him the management of Julpha, to receive the taxes and raise as many Armenians as he could. The wild Georgians were often reprimanded and laughed at for not being so exact in their waiting; on the contrary, they were mostly drunk and gaming, even in the guard-house. The report of this was carried to Makertish Vardapit at Julpha, the head bishop of the monastery, who fearing that he should be turned out of his calanteri, or government, went, unknown to Emin, and privately bribed Mahomed Husein Khan, the beglarbeg of Ispahan, with forty tumans. Husein therefore represented to Aly Murad, in private, that the world began to talk, and to suspect that he was much distressed for want of fighting-men, since he pressed the poor Julpha Armenians into the service. This address quickly affected Aly Murad, who said, "Very well, they shall be dismissed; but Emin Sultan shall continue in the service. " Emin not knowing all this, after being about a month in the service, went one morning according to custom to the levee, and made a very low bow, standing in the ranks of the khans, resolving either to have his head struck off or be discharged, according to the regulations of that infernal court. When Aly Cooly Khan of Carmansha arrived, who used to come in after all the commanding-officers and sit by Aly Murad, the first comers made a bow and retired, so that the levee was over in fifteen minutes; but Emin stood unmoved. Aly Murad nodded to him three different times to go away. He pretended not to know his meaning. The officers standing close to his side, on the right and left, said to him softly and kindly, "For God’s sake go away: did not you see how a little while ago he strangled two men for offending him? By the Prophet’s head you will share the same fate. " But Emin, trusting in God, could not be persuaded: when Aly Murad called out aloud in a fury, "You Nanakally khans, " (Nanakally is the name of the mountaineer tribes), "drive the Armenian sultan away. " They did so, but not violently; because every one of them had a regard for him. Aly Murad perceiving their partiality, repeated his order with double force. Before they could reach him, he made a shift to rush through the crowd, and went out of the gates, standing about fifty yards from the cabac (or the pole fixed in the middle of the grand square, ) under which the condemned men are to have their heads struck off. In this disagreeable situation Emin had just time to say a short prayer, and resign himself to God, expecting the men to come out with drawn swords to put him to death. He had hardly been there ten minutes, when Mirza Abdul Carim, who had inlisted him, came from Aly Murad Khan alone, looking as pale as death, and wishing him joy, pronouncing these very words: "O Sultan! God has bestowed on you his infinite mercy. Aly Murad, (whom the devil take to hell, ) has made you muraskhas, or discharged. You are now free and secure from all dangers, but you were within a hair’s breadth of losing your life. You behaved like a hero, and I am glad it so happened: but to the great shame of Aly Murad the king of Persia, he has given me orders to tell you, that you and your detachment are to pay back the twenty tumans which he gave at first as an inam, or gratuity, and which must now be received by the dirty Georgian dogs. Go, my honest friend, bless God for his miraculous mercy, and rest satisfied!" Emin thanked him, and paid the paltry inam back to the Georgians, who pretended to be sorry; but some villains, who had a hand in the plot, with Makertish the monk, accused the author before Aly Murad, telling him every article of his transactions in Georgia, Armenia, and Dagistan; and saying, that he was a dangerous man, since he was always sober, drank no wine, and kept no bad company; so that if the Musulman soldiers should be attached to him, he might raise a tumult, and possibly effect a revolution. Aly Murad, who seemed to preserve at that time a small share of humanity, though he had been cruel enough to destroy no fewer than forty of his own family, and after taking Shiraz, had tortured to death his father and brothers, besides many generals and lords, yet he then seemed to have more feeling and good sense than to listen to those abandoned low-lived Georgians. He only asked them if Emin had any money? They answered, no. Upon which Aly Murad, in great anger, said to them, "Get you gone, you worthless black-hearted dogs! Emin is an honest man, whom we have not made captive by our swords; and he shall be free from your false calumnies, so as to live happy for the future with his family in Julpha: while I reign, no one shall molest him: and at your peril let me hear no more against the poor man. "

Emin had been in Julpha about five years, and during the whole time had many disagreeable apprehensions before that accusation was made. His alarms affected him not so much while he was out of his house as when he was at home and any person knocked at the door; he then felt to his heart for his helpless family; imagining there was somebody sent to demand his head. Like a careful porter, he was at all times ready to open the door himself, that if any disastrous accident should crush him, he might avoid seeing his poor family and harmless children. He wished to die five or six minutes before he should see their misery. He often called to mind the wise saying of Mareshal Saxe, "That a soldier should not be married; " and this is particularly true in such a despotic government and distracted lawless country, where he was however compelled to marry, as he has mentioned before.