- Armenian Literature, History, Religion in in Russian

Edwin Munsell Bliss


Note from the administration of the page numbering is preserved, so the book can be used for quoting. Also we did our best to keep the layout as close to the original as possible.

[page 106]



Their Origin — Early History — First Nation to Accept Christianity — Dispersion Under Oppression — Change from Agricultural to Commercial People — General Characteristics; Loyalty to Nation and Religion — Industry — Morality — Intellectual Ability — Shrewdness — Jealousy of One Another — Influence of Missions and European Ideas — Growth of National Ambition — Armenians in Russia — Autonomy — Armenians in Other Countries — Patriarch Mattheos — Outlook for the Future.

THE Armenians are generally supposed, from their language, to be of Aryan origin, though having not a little in common with the Turanian, or at least the non-Aryan races. In the Assyrian period, their country was occupied by the Nairi and Urarda, both probably Turanian stock. When the Aryan Armenian migration occurred is not known, but the name first occurs, in the form of Armaniya, in a Persian cuneiform inscription of Darius Hystaspis, 522 — 486 B. C.

According to Armenian tradition, the name is derived from a king, Aram, under whose rule the nation achieved considerable power, though subsequently overcome by the mythical Queen Semiramis of Assyria. They do not, however, call themselves Armenians, but Haik, and their country Haiasdan, after Haik, whom they consider the son of Togarmah, the son of Gomer, the son of Japhet, the son of Noah. He, according to their traditions, established the Armenian kingdom in the vicinity of Ararat, to which country he had escaped from the tyranny of Belus, the king of Assyria, at an uncertain date, perhaps 2000 B. c. From that time on they were a more or less powerful people, sometimes achieving a period of independence, but generally succumbing to the attacks of the more powerful kingdoms that arose to the south and west.

[page 107-illustration]

Armenian Woman

[caption] ARMENIAN WOMAN. A good illustration of the Armenian type. The head-dress is that usually found in the Caucasus. The Armenian women, as a rule, are fine looking, with intelligent faces and womanly bearing. This is especially noticeable in the case of old women. Among the oriental races, as a rule, the old women are not handsome, but the reverse is true of the Armenian women.

[page 108-illustration]

An Evangelical Armenian Church in Constantinople

[caption] AN EVANGELICAL ARMENIAN CHURCH IN CONSTANTINOPLE. For many years the congregation occupied a building which became unsafe through age and was taken down. Attempts were made for several years to secure a permit for a new building, but all failed, and the people in a single night put up this building for the purpose of having a place where they could worship.


Any accurate statement of those early years it is impossible to make. It appears to be the fact that most of their kings, among them Tigranes, the friend of Cyrus, the younger Chosroes of the family of the Arsacidae, and Mithridates, were not of Armenian origin, but chieftians from the neighboring races, Parthian or others, who by personal force of character gained a supremacy, and established for the time being what was called an Armenian kingdom.

On the defeat by the Persians of Chosroes, of the family of the Arsacidae, his young son Durtad escaped and went to Rome. He subsequently gained the assistance of Rome and was re-established upon his throne. It was through his influence in the latter part of the third century, that the Armenians as a nation accepted Christianity. This was the signal for renewed attacks by Persia, and the kingdom met with various fortunes, achieving a certain independence under the sway of the family of the Pagratidae, who for two centuries maintained a general authority in what was known as Armenia. In the middle of the eleventh century the Byzantine Empire became master of the greater part of the country, and in the fourteenth century the Ottomans commenced the reign that has been carried on till the present day.

Armenian history states that, in the time of Christ, Abgar, of their royal line, was king of Edessa or Urfa in Northern Mesopotamia. In other histories he is spoken of as King of the Arabs, but the Armenians claim him for themselves. The name is certainly Armenian. According to the chief Armenian historian, this king listened to the preaching of Thaddeus, one of the seventy disciples who were sent forth by Christ, and was also healed by him of a severe disease. The result was that he accepted the Christian faith, and was baptized


with his whole family. His successor, however, refused to follow in his steps, and persecuted the people so, that this incipient growth of Christianity was almost destroyed. In the time of Durtad (Tiridates), in the latter part of the third century, under the influence of Gregory the Illuminator, as he is called, there was a great revival of Christianity, and it was accepted as the religion of the nation. From this great preacher the Church receives the different names by which it is known,“the Gregorian Church,” the “Loosavorchagan Church” (Loosavorich being the Armenian for “Illuminator ”). Under his influence the king was baptized in 301 A. D., and although there was bitter opposition on the part of some of the nobles, the nation as a whole followed him, and the Armenians have the distinguished honor of being the first people to make Christianity their national religion.

Situated far from Constantinople, it was natural that they should not mingle intimately with the theological strifes of the early centuries. They were generally represented at the Church councils, but by some chance sent no delegate to the Fourth Council at Chalcedon in 451 A. D. The condemnation at that council of Nestorianism and Eutychianism was either misreported to them, or misunderstood by them, and at a synod of their bishops it was repudiated, and they declared themselves decidedly in favor of the Monophysite doctrine of the nature and person of Christ. There thus arose constant strife between them and the Greek Church, and more and more they were shut off by themselves, so that their national life developed, not merely independently of that of the surrounding churches, but to the exclusion of any external influences, such as materially affect the growth of modern ecclesiastical communities. They would not accept instruction at the hands


of the Western Church, had no means of education within themselves, and as a natural result formalism took the place of spiritual life. This was assisted by the constant strife for their existence as a nation, until the Church, as a church, lost almost its entire hold upon the spiritual life of the people.

The history of the Armenians for the five centuries intervening between the conquest of their home by the Turks and their coming into prominent notice before the Christian world in the early part of the present century, is one of constant conflict between the disintegrating influences of an oppressive government and the intense national characteristics of the people. From the very beginning they felt the terrible rule of the Moslems, and as far back as 1360 some refugees came to Edward III. of England complaining that the Moslems were trying to exterminate their people. A little was done for them. They were allowed to live in England and to collect subscriptions for their fellow-sufferers, but that was about all.

In a certain sense the result of the oppression was not altogether injurious. Up to that time the Armenians had been strictly confined within their borders. Whatever of tyranny had been exercised there had served to repress their national life. Now commenced a dispersion, with both good and evil results. They wandered westward over Asia Minor; quite a number settled on the northern slopes of the Taurus and established a kingdom with Sis as its capital. Cut off from their own people, they secured a patriarch to themselves, and there seemed every possibility of their forming a distinct nation. This, however, was destined to fall under the rule of the Turks, and they were scarcely distinct from their fellows in other parts of the empire. Others wandered eastward and peopled the Caucasus, which was then Northern


Persia. Shah Abbas recognized their value as subjects, and early in the seventeenth century transported a colony to the vicinity of Ispahan. This emigration naturally carried out of their own country some of the most aggressive elements, and as was not unnatural, those who remained felt still more the pressure of the surrounding Moslem tribes, who crowded into their villages. Thus little by little the ancestral plains of Armenia became more and more Moslem.

Another influence operated quite forcibly. In a preceding chapter reference has been made to the custom of villagers leaving their homes for a shorter or longer term of life in the cities and larger towns. This was especially characteristic of the Armenians. Constantinople, Smyrna, Trebizond, Adana and all the western cities of the empire, as well as many inland, depended entirely upon this form of emigration for their artisans and the great mass of their day-laborers. While many of these bachelors, as they were called, returned to their own homes, a large number became permanent occupants of the cities, sometimes bringing their families with them, sometimes making their own homes. In this way there grew up a class distinct in many respects from the original Armenian population, with different ambitions, differing needs and widely different customs. The agricultural character of the race began more and more to disappear and the people became known as tradesmen. With the control of commerce came the control of money, and these Armenian tradesmen were the bankers in the empire. They found their way into the service of the government, made themselves essential to the Sultans and governors, and amassed in many cases large fortunes.
We come thus to the situation about the time of the Treaty

[page 113] TREATY OF PARIS.

of Paris. The Armenians, no longer a homogeneous people with a national territory markedly and distinctively their own, were scattered to the number of from three to four millions over the whole of the Turkish Empire, the Caucasus and Northern Persia. They had the same marked racial characteristics. Physically of good stature, strong features, manly bearing; industrious and frugal; loyal to their religion and to their nation; of marked ability, adapting themselves to any circumstances, whether of climate, social or political life; very kindly, sympathetic, affectionate; with an element of the jovial in their life; intensely proud of their history and their faith; clannish almost to the last degree, refusing such association with other races as might imply the loss of their own; of exceptionally pure morals among the Eastern races; intense lovers of home and family life, and hospitable in the extreme; with acute minds and suave manners, they manifested many of the essential elements of a strong nation.

There were, however, other features which must be noted. They were grossly ignorant and for the most part densely superstitious, held in absolute thrall by a Hierarchy bigoted and overbearing to the last degree, and fully as ignorant as the people whom they misled. Their constant strife with other races and their long history of subjugation had developed a shrewdness of dealing which partook in marked degree of the unscrupulous. They were ready to take advantage of anybody and of anything to further their ends. Obsequious and servile in their bearing towards superiors, they were looked upon by the Turk as a necessary evil; a fruitful source of income in the shape of taxes, advantageous for their general skill as artisans and as servants, but


beneath contempt for their trickery. Similarly they had the hatred of their fellow-Christians of other churches.

There was, however, another characteristic that has been recognized by their best men for years as operating more than almost anything else to keep them in subjection and prevent their best development. With all their intense nationality manifesting itself in their devotion to their history and to their church, their absolute refusal to be swallowed up in any other race or any other community, there is a lack of mutual confidence, a jealousy of one another’s advance that has made it impossible for them as a race to hold together in any onward movement. This is undoubtedly due to intense individuality and also to the pressure of despotism. They are not by any means lacking in personal courage, as is witnessed by multitudes of instances. Individually they will fight for their lives and their honor and especially for their families. They will suffer martyrdom for their religion, as they have suffered repeatedly during the centuries. They will sacrifice personal interests for Christ’s sake, but when it comes to the waiving of personal opinion, the entrusting of power and the rendering of obedience to others, they have throughout their history failed entirely.

A most marked instance of this was seen in the city of Erzrum. A wealthy Armenian from Russia, anxious for the education of his people, established a set of schools of very high grade, and for a time they were carried on most successfully. But before long there came jealousies in the management of those schools; mutual suspicion of personal interest on the part of the directors, and year by year what might have been the central point of Armenian national life dwindled in strength until it almost disappeared.


The result of these characteristics was manifest in the general situation of the Armenians, and their relation to the other peoples of the empire. They were in many respects the most useful, and in some respects almost the best hated of all. Their shrewdness and ability made them indispensable. Thus they were everywhere the tradesmen and small bankers, but at the same time had very little interest in general commerce. The business directory of Constantinople shows almost no Armenian firms, even for local business, and very few Armenian houses engaged in foreign trade. Then also, when Sultan Mahmud II. organized the government on a semi-European plan, he drew very largely upon the Armenians for his administration officials in the various departments, finding their versatility, ability and adaptability of the greatest value.

At this time they began to show the result of two very powerful influences from the West — those of American missions, and of French literature and social life. The influence of American missions among the Armenians has been a great power. While the proportion of those who have identified themselves with what is known as evangelical Christianity, in distinction from the excessive formalism of the old Church, which had largely lost its spiritual power, was not large, it included many men of great influence, and the general effect upon the nation in opening the eyes of the more intelligent to the possibilities of the new century were very marked. Wherever an American missionary went, there was a school, and not merely a school of his own, but a school for each of the different communities. The priests of whatever faith found that they could not afford to lose their hold upon the children and young people, and thus were sown far and wide the seeds of the intellectual life that was spreading so rapidly in Europe.

[page 116] NO EDUCATION.

The general condition of the nation, so far as education was concerned, was deplorable. Throughout the villages it was rare to find a man who could read, and even in the towns and cities the proportion was very, very small. Many of the priests even were unable to read the Scriptures in the old language, which was to them practically dead. The introduction of these schools changed this in a marked degree. The natural intellectual activity of the race asserted itself, and over all the empire there was manifest a new impulse. So far as that impulse was due to the influence of the missionaries, it was in the line of good morals and the best national development.

Side by side, however, with this came another. As intercourse with Europe increased, adventurous young men spread throughout the schools of Paris and Vienna. They brought back a craze for French literature, not the best, but the worst. With this came a revolt against religion. It became fashionable to be known as free thinkers, and free thinking meant not liberty, but license of thought and of life. The immediate effect was almost appalling. The nation which had hitherto been noted for its strict morality, became widely immoral. Gambling was almost universal among the young men in the cities, on the seaboard, and the achievement of considerable wealth, while in the government service, and the openings of trade, had the effect of weakening national life. The pride of national life had not lost all its power, but the hold of national principles was becoming weaker. The best men in the nation looked on aghast, and longed for influences that should serve as anchors to keep the people. Thus there grew up a sympathetic feeling between the better class of Armenian ecclesiastics and the American missionaries, whose influence was strongly conservative.


The reigns of Abdul Medjid and Abdul Aziz were times of great advance for the whole Armenian people. Oppression still existed, and oppression of the worst form, but they were becoming more and more able to meet oppression. Not merely in the cities, but throughout the empire, and even in the villages, there was manifest a development which had, as has already been said, its tokens both of good and evil, the good, in the main, being predominant. The advent of the present Sultan, following as it did upon the revolution which showed how thoroughly rotten the whole Turkish fabric was, and accompanied by the events which resulted in the formation of the Bulgarian kingdom, seemed to open a new era to the Armenians. The young men who had been under the educating influences of the different schools and colleges of the Americans, or of the universities of Europe, were assuming positions of influence among their people. Furthermore, education in their own schools had brought sharply before them their own former history, and there was a great revival of interest in the early kings. The plains and valleys and mountains of Armenia were covered with a halo, which perhaps was not historically just, but which served at any rate to rouse the highest enthusiasm among the people. The use of their own language, which had drifted from the severe simplicity of its original form into a sort of mongrel, under the influence of the Turkish language and other surroundings, was coming back. Everywhere throughout the nation there was manifest an increasing ambition to do for themselves what the Bulgarians had done.

Accordingly, at the conference at Berlin, a prominent Armenian was present, and he set forth in very vivid and glowing terms the situation of his people. The political


effect of this is reserved for another chapter. We here simply desire to point out its effect upon the nation. That was undoubtedly in the main advantageous. It brought to an even higher pitch their desire for education; it bound them more closely together; brought them under the influence, to a greater degree, of the better class of leaders, and as a natural result the first ten years of Abdul Hamid’s reign were coincident with an even greater advance in the general condition of the nation than had been made during the preceding twenty years. Parallel with this, however, there was another development, the result of two influences: the free thought of central Europe and the pressure brought to bear by their compatriots in the Caucasus.

Here we should turn aside to refer to that section of the Armenian nation under Russian rule. When Russia conquered the Caucasus, and drove the Persians south of the Aras and Schamyl’s followers into Turkey, she found that for the development of the new territory she must depend chiefly upon the Armenians, who had already come in in considerable numbers. Accordingly they were made welcome and for some time a good degree of freedom was allowed them. Their national church was not interfered with, and though their schools were under close supervision, they were not prevented from developing to a considerable degree their national life. At the same time they were practically unrestricted in trade. The easy-going Georgians were no match for them, and in Tiflis, Schemachi, Shusha, Baku, Erivan, Armenian influence became very strong, so that it was not surprising that there arose a dream of national independence. They probably did not expect to wrest any portion of Russian territory from the hand of the Czar, but they did apparently


hope for a revival of ancient Armenia in that portion under Turkish rule. So long however as their condition in Russia was fairly comfortable they made little attempt in that direction. But it became apparent to the Russian Government as the years went by that there was danger lest they find difficulty in carrying out the general policy of the empire, which was to weld its very heterogeneous population into a solid mass. Accordingly a system of repression was commenced. Everywhere the Armenians felt the severe iron hand that drove the people on the Baltic to despair. Their schools were more and more interfered with. Their monastery and its theological department at Etchmiadzine were watched with the eye of a detective, and both in the choice of the Catholicos (the Primate of the Armenian Church) and in the conduct of his office, the authority of the Holy Synod was exercised in no slight degree. Naturally the people became restive. They had seen the success of the Pan-Slavist Committee in stirring up the disturbances in the Balkan Peninsula, and they conceived the plan of accomplishing the same thing for their compatriots in Turkey. The fuller statement of this will come in a later chapter on the Rise of the Armenian Question. Here we note simply that the general effect upon the Armenian people was to create still more of dissatisfaction with their situation under the Turkish rule and fill their minds with visions of political independence.

Parallel with this was the other influence referred to, that of the free thought of Central Europe. The young men who had been educated in the schools of France and Germany had become acquainted with the stories of the revolutions that marked the close of the eighteenth and the early half of the nineteenth century. Lacking the substantial basis of


careful investigation, not even knowing, or at least not recognizing, the true character of their own history, they sought to enkindle a flame not so much of revolt against the Turkish Government as of protest to Europe against that government’s oppression. Had it not been for the irreligion, even atheism, that characterized their movement, they might perhaps have had greater influence. In fact they accomplished very little, for they immediately encountered the general conservatism of the nation, which declined to commit itself to the leadership of those who had thrown aside to such a degree the restraints of the Church. This was assisted by the conviction, or at least the fear, that these men were not so much interested in the general welfare of the people as in procuring opportunities for political advancement for themselves, and by the fact that for the most part they were out of the country and not liable to suffer themselves in case of trouble. The result was that there was no unity of action or of sentiment. No one man or body of men were authorized to speak for the nation. Individuals set forth their personal opinions, but there was no telling to what extent they represented the people. Constant intrigues weakened the power of the Patriarch at Constantinople, the civil head of the nation, and affected the choice of the Catholicos, at Etchmiadzine, its religious head. Furthermore, the very rigid censorship of the press, the oppressive and absurd school laws, and even the restrictions on travel, which made it no easy matter for an Armenian to go from one section of the empire to another, all combined to prevent any united action or even sentiment.

In general the condition of the rural districts had grown worse. Kurds, Circassians and Lazes held the greater por-


tion of the plains of Eastern Turkey, having dispossessed the Armenians, without making good their place so far as tax-paying was concerned. The result was that when the collector came around, he found the revenue much diminished, unless he could squeeze the same amount out of half the people. In the mountains there was occasionally successful resistance to the raids of freebooters, but that had grown more difficult since the organization of the Hamidieh Kurdish cavalry. On the other hand, in the towns and cities, the Armenians were advancing, at least in material prosperity. Not merely the trade and banking but the real estate had come very largely into their hands. They were on the whole wealthier and more comfortable. With material prosperity, however, there had not come proportionate intellectual and moral power, and the description given above was increasingly true.

The bearing of all this upon the question of their autonomy and independence as a nation is evident. That the Armenians have very many of the qualities that make a successful nation no one will deny. Their ability is undoubted. Their race tenacity evidenced in their loyalty to their faith, even in its weaker form, and the hold that their language has even upon those with whom it ceased to be vernacular, mark them as a people of power. Their faculty of adaptation to new circumstances in the use of any means that come to hand would ensure in marked degree success in meeting new emergencies. The mutual jealousy and inordinate self-seeking that have hitherto proved so serious a hindrance to their general advancement might very likely be overcome were they compelled by force of circumstances to waive personal feeling or see everything collapse. Men who could fight to-


gether as did the Armenians of Zeitun must have the best elements of patriotism. For the overcoming of these obstacles, however, it is essential that there be the pressure of outside circumstances. In the case of the Armenians that pressure was absolutely lacking. They were very differently situated from the Bulgarians, who were in the overwhelming majority in their own country, which moreover is compact. The Armenians are scattered over the whole Turkish Empire, and there are wide differences between those of different sections. The mountaineers of Bitlis can neither understand the language nor appreciate the ideas of the villager of Harput, much less those of the merchant of Smyrna or Constantinople. The men of Aintab and Adana, with their Turkish, can scarcely confer, still less associate intimately, with those of Marsovan.

Thus the very cosmopolitan character of the nation, its versatility and ability, all operate to prevent what the Armenian nationalists so much desire, and these characteristics must be kept in mind if we would form an approximately correct idea of the nation.

A word should be said about Armenians outside of their own country. As a rule Armenians do not make a pleasant impression upon the people of other countries. They are looked upon as tricky, scheming, unreliable. Where they have formed colonies of some size, as in New England and California, they are contrasted to their own great disadvantage with the communities of Scandinavians, Germans, and others. Where they appear as individuals in the cities, in trade or as artisans, they suffer from similar comparisons. In all such cases, certain things must be kept in mind. The colonies are almost entirely made up of those who come from


the poor sections of Asia Minor or Eastern Turkey, and even then are deprived of the refining influences of home as they have left their families in their own country. They are entirely uneducated, accustomed to very different kind of living, have not the language facility of those who have lived in Constantinople, and find it extremely difficult to enter into the new life about them. Those who gather in the cities are as a rule planning for a return to the East. They purpose to remain here long enough to make some money, or secure American citizenship, and then to go back to their homes. A few come expecting to stay and become loyal American citizens. Such as a rule find a cordial welcome and make a good impression. Two things must be remembered: the Armenian is essentially Oriental in his character and the true Oriental does not adapt himself easily or speedily to American life; those who know the race most widely and most intimately esteem it the most highly.

No better illustration can be given of the best development of the Armenian character, that which gives hope of their ultimate success as a nation, than the position taken by the present Armenian Patriarch in Constantinople. Mattheos Ismirlian is described by an American resident in Constantinople, as a man somewhat above medium height, thin and of dark complexion, but with strong, resolute face, having the large features characteristic of his race. He was born in 1845, in Constantinople, and received the name Ismirlian (the man from Smyrna, Ismir,) from the fact that his grandfather was originally a resident of that city. He was educated in the Armenian schools, and at the age of nineteen was made deacon of the Armenian Church in one of the Bosporus villages. In 1869, he entered the celibate college and was


ordained as arch-priest. His ability and industry brought him to the front, and he was elected successively secretary to the Patriarch, member of the assembly of the community and a member of the synod. He was noted as a preacher and teacher, simple, direct and intense in his style, and achieved a high reputation throughout the nation. He was also recognized on every hand as a man of unusual soundness of judgment and purity of motive. Seven years later, when only thirty-one years of age, he was ordained as bishop and was promoted rapidly. In 1886, he was made leader or director of the parish of Egypt, where he instituted numerous improvements, and his service was so efficient as to bring for him decorations from King Menelek, of Abyssinia, and the Sultan, but more than all, the devotion of his own people. After five years of service he returned to Constantinople and soon after, when there became necessary the election of a Catholicos, his name was prominent among the candidates. He refused absolutely to make any effort to secure this prize, coveted by every Armenian bishop, and yet his name ranked not only among the first four in the assembly, but on the subsequent ballot was one of the two sent to the Czar for selection. The choice fell upon Khrimian, also well and most favorably known throughout the nation, but it placed Ismirlian in the front rank for further honors.

In December of 1894, at the time when the affairs of the nation were most critical, as will be understood from the chapter on the condition in 1894, the one sentiment of all was in favor of him, but the question arose whether the Sultan would favor his election. He was well known as a man of great resoluteness and patriotism, and one who would never yield an iota of what he felt it was right to demand.

[page 125 - illustration]

Kurdish Mountain Village

[caption] KURDISH MOUNTAIN VILLAGE. A typical scene in the mountains. There is a group of houses mostly connected by passages half under ground. The walls are of rough stone. The roof is formed as seen by rough beams, over which branches are stretched and earth over them, sometimes formed into a dome, in which there is a hole serving as window and chimney

[page 126 - illustration]

Turkish Village Sheikh

[caption] A TURKISH VILLAGE SHEIKH, probably connected with some one of the Dervish orders. Many of them are men of great intelligence and considerable force of character, especially those who are the chiefs of large communities.


He was elected, and contrary to expectation, that election was immediately confirmed by the Sultan. From that time on the Patriarch has been “in a very real sense the champion of his people, bearing their griefs and carrying their sorrows as few have done, in an office that has been filled by men of conspicuous consecration.” Every legal means in his power has been used in behalf of his people, and threats of imprisonment or of death have accomplished nothing. Soon after his installation he sent to the Minister of Justice a letter asking power to appoint new bishops in places where the bishops had been imprisoned for varying periods. The reply came that the statements about those bishops were false, and their withdrawal was demanded. The Patriarch answered, “ The statements are true, and the truth I cannot withhold.” From that time to this he has been a thorn in the side of the Turkish Government; neither bribes, flattery nor deception have availed. Loyal to the Sultan, his loyalty refuses servility, as is instanced in his statement to the Sultan in his first audience: “As far as my conscience permits me I will obey you, but at the same time I must look to the welfare of my people.” It is scarcely surprising that the Sultan in a rage sent him away and omitted the customary decoration. A little later, realizing his power with the people, the Sultan sent for him and offered him the highest decorations that could be given to a civilian subject in the empire. The reply came as follows:

“ Your majesty, what have I to do with such things ? I am a simple priest. I live on bread and olives, as do my people. I have no place in my house for such gorgeous things. I pray you, do not ask me to accept them.”

Another illustration of his boldness and firmness is found

[page 128] HIGH COURAGE.

in the following statement, made to his people in the installation service: “ Before God and in presence of this meeting, I swear to remain faithful to my government and my nation, and to watch over the just and explicit fulfilment of this constitution (the constitution granted by Abdul Aziz). My understanding of the word faithful is this: faithfulness involves on the side of the government protection of life and property. Without this, faithfulness on the side of the subject is hypocrisy.”

It was not only towards the government, however, that the Patriarch had occasion to manifest his high courage. Recognizing very clearly the absurdities of the revolutionist movement, he steadily refused to give it any countenance whatever, and threats were numerous on the part of the disappointed Huntchagists that he should be killed. He feared this no more than the threats of the government, and has steadily pursued his way, holding to what he felt to be right and best for his nation. It is scarcely too much to say that such a man deserves the same rank accorded to the great leaders of the world, and a nation that can at such a crisis produce such a man and stand by him is a nation that under proper training, and with favorable circumstances, may be expected to develop a high national character.

The general situation of the Armenians at the present time is one that calls for the sympathy of the entire Christian world. They have lost a large proportion of their best men by massacre; throughout the empire it has seemed to be the unwavering purpose of the Turkish Government to cut down the very men who had most influence, and who most used their influence in behalf of good citizenship and upright life. The most conservative estimates, endorsed by the British


Ambassador at Constantinople, for the sections where there has been careful investigation, give the number killed at 25,000, and admit that the real number is far larger. For a nation numbering not more than 2,000,000 within the borders of the empire, to lose probably not less than 40,000 or 50,000 of its best men is a terrible thing, and the loss cannot but have a serious effect upon the future development. This, however, is not all. Not merely have these lives been blotted out, but property to an incalculable degree has been destroyed. The Armenian nation is shorn of a large part of its strength; whether there is enough left to give it vigor or power for the immediate future remains to be seen. The outlook is by no means hopeful, and yet seldom in the history of the world has the effort to blot out a race been successful. Whatever be the political outcome, as set forth in other chapters of this book, there can be but one hope for all those interested in the Armenian people, and that is, that they may by this terrible experience realize their weakness and unite their strength for a purer and truer national life than they have had at any time, even than many of them have dreamed of. This, however, will depend very largely upon the support accorded to them by the Christian nations of the world. If that support fails, then the responsibility rests, not alone upon the Armenians, but to a great degree upon those nations.


Table of Contents | The Cover, Frontispiece, Title Page, Copyright Notice, etc.
Introduction | Preface | Turkey in Asia (map) | Table of Contents (as in the book)
List of Illustrations | 1. The Turkish Empire | 2. Population and Languages | 3. Religions
4. The Turks | 5. The Kurds | 6. The Armenians | 7. The Greeks | 8. Other Oriental Churches
9. Rise and Decline of Ottoman Power | 10. Turkey and Europe | 11. Russia and Turkey
12. Mahmud II | 13. Reform and Progress | 14. Treaties of Paris and Berlin
15. Condition of the Christians | 16. The Turkish Government | 17. Protestant Missions in Turkey
18. The Armenian Question | 19. General Situation in 1894 | 20. The Sassun Massacre
21. Politics and Massacre at Constantinople | 22. Massacres at Trebizond and Erzrum
23. Massacres in Harput District | 24. Aintab, Marash and Urfa | 25. Character of the Massacres
26. Religious Persecution | 27. Relief Work | 28. Partition of Turkey | 29. America and Turkey
30. General Survey | Alphabetical Index


Source: Bliss, Rev. Edwin Munsell . Turkey and the Armenian Atrocities. Edgewood Publishing Company , 1896
Provided by: Aram Arkun, Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center
Scanned by: Karen Vrtanesyan
OCR: Irina Minasyan

See also:

J. Rendel Harris & B. Helen Harris, Letters from the Scenes of the Recent Massacres in Armenia
Helen Davenport Gibbons, The Red Rugs of Tarsus
Maj. General James G. Harbord Conditions in the Near East: Report of the American Military Mission to Armenia

Design & Content © Anna & Karen Vrtanesyan, unless otherwise stated.  Legal Notice