Tth Life and Adventures of Joseph Emin




XX. 1767.

[Yusup’s ingratitude to Emin for saving him and 18, 000 Christians from destruction or slavery - Emin sets out for Gantsasar the seat of the Catholicos Johannes - An Armenian speaking Kurd and his people - Their regard for Emin - Johannes gives Emin a letter to Ibrahim Khan - Emin goes to Shushi - In the house of Mirzakhan - His wife relates the history of Panah and Shahnazar of Varranda - Emin goes to Ibrahim’s durbar - The Khan’s churlish behaviour - Emin’s request of a horse - Ibrahim’s behaviour next day - Horse returned to him by Emin with a rebuke - Ibrahim taken aback – Emin’s bold speech endangering his own life, gains more credit for him in the eyes of the brave mountaineers than all his fighting in skirmishes - Ibrahim now more civil, but his present is refused - Return to Gantsasar monastery - Amazement of Catholicos Johannes - Relates to Emin the doings of Catholicos Simon, were it not for whose jealousy the Meliks and the people of Armenia would - have put themselves under him - Emin’s life in danger from Ibrahim Khan]

While Yusup was subsisting on Ibrahim Khan’s provision, Emin was treated like his hereditary prince; but no sooner had he brought his own grain home, than he was totally changed: and one day, at the end of ten months, he sent his cousin, Papa Beg, to say, that his fame was too great for his country; that he was apprehensive of the Mahomedan princes in the environs; and that himself was a subject to Ibrahim Khan, who was a Persian. He therefore begged that Emin would consider his situation, and leave the place as soon as he could. This return of gratitude, Emin received from Yusup; - this was his reward, for saving him and 18, 000 Christians from destruction or slavery, - and that only with a little European management, half a Venetian zeckin, and a bag full of stones. Here Emin was again left destitute, devoting his heart and mind to the will of God, who is our Father, and the best of all friends.

He set out with a single servant towards Gantzasar, a day and a half’s journey, where the Catholicus Johannes of Carabagh resides with half a dozen monks. Johannes received him with all the politeness imaginable; but was unhappy to hear the ungrateful usage of Yusup, lamenting the fatal situation of Emin, who, through mere necessity, had come to the country of his inveterate enemy, who was really thirsty for his blood, meaning Ibrahim Khan of Shosha, the king of the five Armenian chiefs, and advised him in a friendly manner, judging it most prudent to go to the khan himself, before he could demand him as a prisoner; "for, " he said, "the khan’s spies are every where upon the mountains: - who knows but he may take a bad resolution into his Mahomedan head, and order his horsemen to kill you; and, through you, to murder me also, with my monks, and thus overturn the monastery. " In that very juncture, came in one of the Curds of the Colany clan, who happened to be one of those whom Emin, at the head of 2000 Lazguis, enslaved the preceding year, by the side of the fresh lake of Gegham. The Curd understood the Armenian language, and laughed at Johannes the Catholicus, saying, "Sir, you need not be in the least apprehensive for that noble stranger’s life, although, in his expedition, he carried our tribe into captivity: he could not do otherwise, having a number of barbarians under his guidance to provide for: and again, through motives of humanity and compassion, he saved us all from slavery; nor, when it was in his power, could he be tempted to admit the most beautiful of our women into his company. We have given an account of his virtuous behaviour to Ibrahim Khan, our lord and master, who is not ignorant of his gallant conduct at the battle of Gedashen, against Shaverdy Khan’s son, Mahomed Hussan, which delivered the ungrateful Yusup, and his people, and other Armenians, to the amount of 18, 000. If Yusup had had sense, he would never have parted with Emin, nor have given you so much unnecessary reason to be frightened. It is my belief, that no one in the world, not even our khan, dare to molest him; but if they should, God in heaven will destroy them, and root out their families from the face of the earth. To be short with you, Khalifa, (or great monk, ) if you are really afraid to let him lodge or rest this night in your monastery, I will take him to my own tent; he shall stay there as long as he pleases, and may go with me to the khan when he chuses, without compulsion. " He added, "You may very well suppose, Sir, he could escape death this very instant, since he came through the very midst of our clan, whose tents are pitched at the bottom of this hill, and extend a mile along it. Our men, women, girls, and boys, know him perfectly, and were not a little startled at the first sight of him for they imagined he was again leading on the Lazguis army. Upon my honour, and by my sword! they were more glad to see him again, than you are afraid for him. As he came on without taking notice of us, he gave us time to invite him to our entertainments. " Catholicus, hearing all the man said, thanked him, and suffered Emin to stay in the monastery and sleep there, where Johannes and his monks did as much to comfort and pray for him, as they cursed and abominated Yusup’s unmanly cruel usage, saying, that he was the worst of brutes, not to know the value of Emin, who had been his only deliverer.

The next day, very early in the morning, Johannes gave Emin a letter to Ibrahim Khan; the purport of which was as follows: "May it please your Highness, the bearer of this my humble address is Emin, the son of Joseph, of the tribe of Emin, a native of Hamadan, in the kingdom of Erakistan, in Persia, whose character is well known to your Highness, since he had been often talked of, being chiefly educated in the wars of Frankistan. He, by the dint of his courage, has been honoured with the notice and protection of the greatest Christian princes of that famous quarter of the world, particularly by the celebrated English nation, and through whom he was, by the mighty Russians, recommended strongly to Heraclius, the valli of Gurgistan, as his only English officer. After serving under him above a year, in lieu of reward for his meritorious conduct in several actions against the Dagistan Lazguis, he was driven out of Tifflis, and obliged again to cross over the mountains of Caucasus. One must suppose this to have happened through an unreasonable jealousy, which is natural to that unthinking nation. Finding, therefore, no place to have recourse to, he betook himself to Dagistan, and lived there above two years and a half. As your Highness well knows, he marched at the head of 2000 Lazguis, up to Ganja, and confounded the plan of Shaverdy Khan the tyrant, your inveterate enemy, by enslaving the tribe of the Colan Curds. His most Christian behaviour towards the female captives, and his compassion to the men, during their captivity of six days, are remarkable; and, at the same time, he became the only author of their delivery. They are now under your Highness’s protection, and will vouch for him without my giving unnecessary trouble. Afterwards, coming back last year to Gedashen, he defeated Mahomed Hussan Khan, the son of Shaverdy, having saved Melech Yusup and his family, with the whole clan, and other adjacent Christian villages. This was the means of their happy return back to their native mountains, under subjection to your Highness, on whom God bestow a long life of 120 years, with success and happiness to defend us Christians. Lastly, he is Coming into your presence of his own accord, without compulsion: - do as you think best with him: - but as far as I can find, he is not in the least afraid, nor in the want of friends, nor of being received by your Highness with kind attention, as he has been by the princes of Frankistan, and even, most singularly, by the savage Lazguis of. Dagistan, who are enemies to all the nations of the universe. So, may peace be unto you, and may humanity so possess your heart, that the law of hospitality, ordained by the patriarch Ibrahim, may guide your mind to receive your noble guest. I am your Johannes, the servant of Christ, and Catholicus of Gantzasar. "

Emin, with this short historical letter, set out, accompanied by his old servant Isaac, who just at that very instant had come thither to see him. Isaac’s house was at Shoshu, where, when they arrived, they found that the khan was gone out for a few days, to settle some affairs by the side of the river Cur. The writing was delivered to Agasy Beg, the khan’s vakeel (or agent), who immediately ordered Isaac to conduct Emin to Melik Mirzakhan’s house, to be entertained there till the khan’s return. As Mirzakhan was absent, his old lady, agreeably to orders, took very great care of Emin, and treated him very hospitably; but she could not help expressing a great sorrow for his precarious situation; saying to him, "Sir, you have done very wrong in coming on your own feet to the place of execution: you will hardly escape the fury of Ibrahim, of whom you are a rival: he has heard of you before, and would have been glad to have found a man, for any sum of money, to undertake assassinating you. How could you be so imprudent? Why did not you go among the brave Lazguis again? Curse on Melik Yusup, for not letting you stay with him, whom you delivered from destruction! I am assured it is his wicked design to send you hither to fall a sacrifice, that he may shew his fidelity to Ibrahim. I wish God would take away our five chiefs, who by their own discord made us subject to those infidels. May it please you to hear; I will give you an account of the whole history of them. When Nadir Shah was murdered by his rebellious nations, Panah the father of this Ibrahim, who was a Jarchee, and formerly our subject in the service of Nadir, came hither from the country of Khorasan, with no more than eighteen families. Our stupid unthinking chiefs entitled him Khan, and elected him sovereign of this inaccessible place, the circumference of which is seven long miles, fortified, as you see, with strong walls and towers, built with stone at their own expence. The neighbouring defenceless Mahomedans and other nations from Khorasan, hearing of this came daily, monthly, and yearly; and within three years Panah was made so formidable, as to become one of the first pretenders for the empire of Persia, Armenia, and Georgia. While he was on good terms with the chiefs, he succeeded in every undertaking and expedition; but when he grew intoxicated with pride, and gained continual advantage by the disunion of the chiefs, he presumed to lay violent hands on them, and killed Alahvirdy Sultan, the first of the four chiefs; Melik Hatham, his nephew, narrowly escaped. The mothers of the two chiefs, and their wives, were tortured to death with hot irons. Melik Tumuraz, Yusup’s uncle, was in concert with Panah Khan, so were Melik Shoknagar and Melik Isay. My husband at that time was only burgomaster of Khutzorastan, which you saw in your way hither. Hatham, when he went to Charrabert, his country, was immediately acknowledged as hereditary chief; and Melik Tumuraz of Threshetzy was sent to him by Panah Khan, to make use of his rhetoric to bring him, if possible, over to the khan; but it was of no effect: the poor old man was strangled by Hatham’s people, and thrown into a ditch like a dog. It was suspected that Yusup, his nephew, had a hand in the murder, which gave a turn in favour of his interest. He also was elected chief of the tribe of Threshetzy. Melik Shoknagar, of the country of Varanda, the cause of all this mischief and discord, was a true friend of Panah, a learned man in the Persian language, and the establisher of the Mahomedans in our mountains: he was a son of Belzabub, nor worthy of the name of a Christian; and was husband to two wives, who are daughters of one father and mother, and have been kept here in this fort for security to this day; and Melik Isay, of the country of Dizok, with his family, and my poor husband Melik Mirzakhan of Khatzen, were obliged for several years past to unite with Panah; who, with his whole force, joined us against Melik Hatham and Melik Yusup our countrymen and fellow Christians, who were almost exhausted during the war. These two last chiefs, having four thousand families their subjects, neglected agriculture through continual war, being almost every day in action, some of them were killed in battle, and some fled to Shurvan for a livelihood; but their reduction was greatly owing to the valli of Gurgistan; when they went to him, in hopes either to settle in his dominions, or obtain a reinforcement, he being too cunning to wish that the Armenians should thrive, entertained them by false promises for five years; but at their own expence. When Fataly Khan, the ovshar of Romia near Tabriz, the great pretender to the kindgdom of Persia, (who came at last, and was killed by Carim Khan the present king, ) was marching at the head of forty thousand Persians; then those two chiefs, Hatham of Charrabert, and Yusup of Threshetzy, came from Georgia, joined Fataly, and forced Panah Khan into his fortified town of Shoshu. After a siege of above a year, the place surrendered; and Panah sent his son, the present Ibrahim Khan, as an hostage. Fataly was going to enter the place, but three days after, fortunately for the inhabitants, he marched to the relief of his native city, Romia, against Carim Khan; but he was totally defeated and driven into the town, in company with Ibrahim Carim. After a regular siege of eighteen months, almost starving them, Fataly, nearly exhausted, being obliged to come out, with a scymitar flung over his neck, laid himself at the feet of Carim Khan; whose brother Zaky having revolted in Ispahan, he, through necessity, went back with his whole army, which saved us the pain of seeing them; nay, even the valli of Gurgistan might have fallen a victim, like the competitors. Panah went over to Carim, immediately after hearing of his victory over Fataly, and of the long siege which his son Ibrahim stood in the town, whom he relieved; and went himself with Carim to Shiraz; where he made his last will, pretending that he was dying; in which he begged of Carim Khan, that his supposed dead corpse might be carried in a coffin and buried in the mountains of Armanstan: but good Carim’s ministers were too cunning to let their master be imposed on by Panah; and petitioned his Highness that he might have the honour of a funeral procession, and be buried near Carim’s beloved brother Scander Khan at Cumisha, four or five days journey from Shiraz, towards Ispahan. While Panah was with Carim those two chiefs, Hatham and Yusup, for fear he should lead the king of Persia and his army to Carabagh, the consequence of which would have been the means of their total ruin, thought it necessary to return a second time to Tiffliz to crave again the empty protection of Heraclius; but in their way, Shaverdy tempted them with fair words, and they settled at Shameor. In that very year you came to Tiffliz. The Nakhychuan Meleks in Shoshu imagining that Heraclius, by the interest and recommendation of the Russian empire, would assist you with his force, began to correspond with you by letters, and the whole contents of your answers were laid by that wicked Armenian secular priest Johannes before Ibrahim; who, after having read them to the Meleks, swore by all the saints above, that he would keep the secret. What do you think of yourself now? Will Ibrahim let you escape his vengeance? I am assured that he will kill you when he sees you. " Here she began to shed tears, with her daughter, a child about seven years old. Emin could not help being sensible of her just concern, but was not in the least solicitous for himself; and did not open his lips all the time she was speaking, nor for half an hour after her finishing it. She then spoke again, asking, what would be his fate? Emin said, "Madam, do you know that there is a greater prince, who is my protector, and who has a hundred thousand times more power than Ibrahim?" She interrupted him, seemingly in anger, saying, "Yes, Sir; I know that the king of England, and all the Christian princes in Frankistan are your friends; but they are too far off to deliver you from the hands of this wild beast. " Emin said, "Madam, give me permission to explain the matter to you. I can assure you that my friend is nearer to me than Ibrahim the Mahomedan. " A second time she interrupted him, saying, "Yes, to be sure, I am nearer still, and my motherly heart breaks for you. You are not much longer for this world. I wish I never had seen you. " She then wept again bitterly. Emin said, a little louder, "My dear mother, lady Mirzakhan, God is my friend; never fear. " At that word, she all at once refrained from weeping; her affliction was no more; and she said, "Since you have such faith, I am confident, no one in this world will be able to molest you. " Her little daughter, seeing her mother so quickly grow cheerful, flew to the servants and ordered dinner; her innocent heart was in as much concern as that of her good mother; who that very evening advised him to see Melik Isay of Dizah, and learn what he could do for him in regard to Ibrahim.

When Emin went to Isay’s house, he was quite terrified, cursed Yusup as much as the lady, ordered a handsome supper, and told Emin that he could by no means venture to interpose in his behalf. When he returned to his quarters, he said nothing to the good lady, but slept there quietly; and the next morning, hearing that Ibrahim was returned, called God to his assistance, went without any body to introduce him to the durbar, or levee, of Ibrahim, which he held before the door in an open place. Before he came near enough to make his salam or bow, in a great crowd, Ibrahim’s officers met him cheerfully, with all the politeness imaginable, and made him breakfast with them upon bread and cheese, and a very fine musk melon, brought for the khan from Nakhychevan. In that place it is a great rarity. Afterwards they presented him to the khan, and the elders of the Colan Curds proceeded verbally to prefer their petition as follows: "May it please you, our mighty Khan! this noble stranger, who is well known to all the world, and was brought up in Frankistan in the art of war, is come over with resolute intention to rescue his countrymen, the Armenians, from their subjection to us and all the musulmans, who, of course, are his inexorable enemies: but what of that? when the shield of the Almighty is held over his heart by his temperance and sobriety, which are so grant, that if any of the Aulias (or saints) had been in his stead, when he had both power and opportunity, they could not have withstood the temptations which the fortune of war offered him. In a word, he is God’s servant; nor have we him here by the means of our arms, but by the law of hospitality, ordained by our father Ibrahim. He is come on his own feet to be the guest of Ibrahim Khan our lord and master; who, we hope, will treat him as such. Though he was the leader of the Lazguis, yet Shaverdy was the cause of our being enslaved, and this very man delivered us. Now, great Khan, act as you judge the best with him!"

After this speech, the khan paused above half an hour, which brought a profound silence over all. Then he said to Emin, "You are welcome, my guest; what is your desire?" Emin answered, "I have an old horse given me by Melik Yusup your subject; I am come to beg one of you for my servant, who is not able to travel on foot nor has his master any money to buy or hire another. " Upon this, immediately, in the presence of thousands of Mahomedans and Armenians, his servants by his order brought several horses, which the khan himself did not like, saying, they were not worth his guest’s acceptance. Emin was then desired to come another day, and the khan sent one of his servants with him to his quarters, with fresh orders to the lady Mirza Khan to take better care of his guest; which message made her almost easy.

The next day Emin went a second time to hear the khan’s pleasure, and found him sitting on the step of his gate, with a single officer standing close by him. Ibrahim no sooner saw him, than, after receiving his salam, he began to whisper with the man above two hours, now and then casting his eyes with marks of fear upon him, and gnashing his teeth. Emin could hear very plainly, that the man was expostulating with the khan, and begging that he would not act rashly, urging that he was his guest, and that the law of God and man would not suffer him to be molested. In that manner he pacified him, till he ordered another horse; and when it was come, he said to Emin, "Well, my guest, do you like that?" Emin answered, he could not tell; but he would ride home, (almost a mile, ) to try it, and then would tell his mind. When he had rode home, he returned the horse, and would by no means accept it; for it was very old and lame. He sent the horse back, with this message: "O fortunate Khan! it does not become your fame, as a prince of the northern mountaineers of Armenia, to make a present of one of your servant’s old and useless beasts to your only guest; and, in lieu of it, to give a good one to them. " (This custom is much in vogue among the Mahomedan khans. ) "What will the freebooters of Dagistan say? they are but three days journey from Carabagh, and are all your guests and truest friends. Emin will come to-morrow morning and take his leave, without accepting a horse. " This he spoke, when his hostess the lady Mirza Khan was standing at her door perfectly astonished.

On the next morning he put on his sword, slung his gun over his shoulder, mounted his old beast, and went to the khan, who was sitting in his eyvan, or varanda, in the middle of four dastardly Armenian chiefs, two on each side of him; namely Yusup of Threshetzy, and Hatham of Carrabert, on the right; Shahnazar of Varranda, and Isay of Dizah, on the left; with all their fighting men standing in a row, with ordered arms. There Emin, for good manners, dismounted at a little distance, made a salam, without bending his body, and spoke, very loud, these words: "O Khan! by your permission, your guest is going away; he, whom you did not think worthy of a horse out of your own stables. Have you any command to Shamakhy in Servan? I am ready to execute it. " The khan, with all his Christian and Mahomedan warriors, were struck with Emin’s daring behaviour, which may appear imprudent to his readers; but when they maturely consider his desperate situation at that time, when he had nothing but a paltry life to lose, they will agree that he was in the right and his conduct gained him more in the good opinion of every brave mountaineer, which spread like lightning through all Persia, Georgia, and Turkey, than the several skirmishes in which he had been engaged. His poor countrymen, seeing his boldness, began to fetch deep sighs and groan like so many chained lions, speaking so loud that the khan as well as the four low-hearted chiefs, could hear them saying, "O! if he could but have two thousand of us, he might command all the Mahomedans. " At that critical time, had the chiefs but moved to second the unique Emin, they might have been free from subjection to this day: for the men were already murmuring at their worthless lords, whose eyes were blind, their ears deaf, and their hearts in their bellies. Ibrahim’s indignation of yesterday was no more: his mouth was opened, his ruddy face looked like chalk, and his eyes were sunk in his head. He immediately ordered a fine colt of four years old to be brought from his own stable, and with smooth speech begged Emin to accept it; but he, before his face, made a present of it to one of the Colan Curds, thanked him, and went away with the utmost coolness; resembling a schoolmaster who had been reprimanding one of his school-boys for not minding his book. Attempts of this kind Emin often made, (and he hopes he may mention them without boasting, ) nor ever failed to endanger his single life, at several times and in several ways, in hopes of delivering his country while he was in Armenia. But, alas! it was to no purpose, as the rich men hugged their bags of money to their breasts as close as possible to their miserable hearts; and on the other hand, the demi-gods of the church undermined the foundation of it.

When he returned to Gantzasar monastery, Johannes Catholicus was surprized to see him; and began to rub his eyes, talking to himself, and saying, "Good God! methinks I am in a dream!" while the other monks were standing by and laughing. When he had recovered himself from his reverie, he lifted up his hands and eyes, glorifying God for his infinite mercy, in preserving Emin from the jaws of tygers. He then said to him, "The Lord in heaven is with you, my beloved friend, my noble prince. O! I wish his Holiness Simon, the head Catholicus of all Armenia, had as much esteem for you as I have, together with my own monks and nine gallant brothers; then we could easily bring about things to a good purpose, and extirpate the enemies of our Christian faith. But, alas! Simon is not your friend, nor a well-wisher to his nation. He is not to be blamed for being of a very low extraction; to this day, his brother gets his living as a patamar, or letter-carrier from one city to another on foot. Beware of his malignant heart. Do not condemn our chiefs, nor the people of Armenia, who, if it had not been for him, would have joined you with all their substance, and put themselves under your management. Can you recollect, a fortnight ago, when my messenger brought a letter directed for Melik Yusup, while you were with him at Gulistan?" Emin said, "Yes, Sir, the messenger’s name is Musis. " "Well, " said he, "that was Simon’s own letter, sent to me by his own patamar or carrier, with a separate letter for me. Besides desiring me to direct it with my own hand and send it by my carrier, in order to keep it secret from you, and to command Yusup to turn you out of his nation, he dispatched also four letters to the other four chiefs, advising them to be cautious and not to enter into your measures, lest Ivan Turan should be displeased with them: and on the other hand, his Holiness’s revengeful curse of excommunication should be ready to crush them, and condemn their Christian souls to everlasting fire. Consider, my dear friend, with such a powerful enemy against your noble motives, and the Vali Heraclius to give the second blow, how can it be possible for you to succeed in them? His reasons for opposing them and you would have been good, if it had been in the reign of the late Sultan Murad, at the head of the Othman Turks, and Shah Abbas commanding the Persian and Nadir, the great hero, who took away the sarpush (or cover), and rent the veil of all the eastern quarter of the globe, and left the country paved, and the door of liberty open before each nation, who have since been groaning under the chains of tyranny, and panting to become independent; witness Georgia, which is not equal to a fifth part of Armenia, yet has been free ever since the death of Nadir. Why should not the Armenians follow the example; get rid of a few mob ringleaders, or insignificant petty tyrants, and form an alliance with their northern neighbours (I mean the mighty Russians), so as to enjoy liberty, as well as their fellow Christians in the kingdoms of blessed Frankistan, whose glorious actions nature has placed among the twelve celestial signs of the heavens. Nothing can hinder us but the ecclesiastics, with Simon now at their head; they are the only obstacles in your way, and will always disconcert every laudable design of yours. I would have you be contented and patient while he exists. After he has bidden farewel to this sublunary world, where he has been unhappy all his life time, and is gone to enjoy the heavenly one in the next, we may then hope for our liberty, by praying God to send us a good chief and a true lover of country to succeed him, and restore the light of the sublime chair of Gregor Lusavoritch (that is Gregor the Giver of Light), the first converter of the Armenian nation to Christianity. " Emin said with a smile, "Suppose he should prove as great a coward as his predecessor?" Catholicus Johannes said, "Then Lord have mercy upon us!" The conversation being ended, they went to dinner. Emin stayed there three days with great satisfaction, enjoying the company of his Grace, who was really much of a gentleman, and understood Persian. Though a priest, he was too much of a politician; he was well qualified in the knowledge of that country, and could give a very good account of it. So that Emin with great reluctance took leave of him, who would have rejoiced with all his heart, if Emin could have lived with him the rest of his life; but the jealousy of Ibrahim Khan prevented it; for although Emin had behaved so haughtily without danger, yet, if he had stayed there, it is ten to one he might have been assassinated by some treacherous stratagem. The khan did not put his furious designs in execution, fearing an offence to the Russians or Lazguis, which was hinted to him, while they cared not a pin, at so great a distance, for Emin’s life. And the khan’s ignorance of his power made him fear to make an end of an empty noisy Armenian, who, by virtue of a little European conduct, had saved himself more than a hundred times, for twenty years, in those barbarous distracted countries, where the mighty Russians have been expected for seventy years last past.