TURKEY AND THE ARMENIAN ATROCITIES
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We need a new angle of vision on the martyrdoms in Armenia. Let us suppose
that we had never heard anything about them and that on next Sunday morning,
in our respective churches, our respective pastors should come forward with
a statement like the following: —
Near the foot of a famous mountain there lived 1500 years ago, in a little country about 400 miles square, a people numbering, perhaps, 3,000,000. In the turmoil of the centuries they had been scattered until their ancestral valleys and mountain slopes have largely passed into other hands. They still preserve, however, the racial characteristics of that early time, and look back with intense yearning to that olden time and those familiar places.
In face, figure and bearing, they are remarkably attractive. It is said that their personal resemblance to the supposed physical type of our Lord is probably more striking than that of any other race. In the simplicity of their faith and the earnestness of their character, these people are reminders of the early Christian Church. The bravery of their men and the chastity of their women are proverbial. They cherish the Bible as the most precious of their possessions and guard it all the more sacredly when to do so involves the hazard of their lives. They are unarmed and do harm to none, they only seek to tend their flocks, till their fields, and conduct their trade in quietness and peace.
Their country is controlled by a rich and powerful potentate of another race, who with his court and his army would be neither cruel nor vindictive except for their religion. They are Mohammedans and
have been taught for centuries that a Christian slain was the surest passport to the favor of God and the enjoyment of eternal happiness. Under the insane spell of this awful fanaticism, they have come down like wolves on the gentle Christian people under their sway, and within the last year have slaughtered men, women and children without mercy, not for any wrong that they have done, but only because they are Christians. Their villages and homes have been burned to the ground and such ingenuity of torture and outrage inflicted upon them as could hardly have been excelled if the bottomless pit had vomited forth its leading spirits to urge the battle on.
The cruelty towards priests and women, the two non-combatant classes, has been bitterest of all. Because the priest represented the detested religion of Christ, he has been not only slain but mutilated, and the sign of the cross cut in his forehead by murderous swords, and because Mohammedans believe before all things in the harem rather than the home, a brutal soldiery has spared neither the wife, the mother, nor the babe unborn. Outrages worse than death have been endured by women, always preceded by the promise that they would be spared if they would abjure their faith, but in no instance have they hesitated to face their double agony rather than disclaim allegiance to the Cross.
Now, in the presence of such a spectacle as this, with the martyrdom of a devoted nation going forward under their eyes, the men of Christendom have stood by and watched these agonies; have seen a crowd of gentle Christian women shut up in a church and undergoing a night of outrage ending in murder, the streams of blood flowing out under the church doors; they have stood by while Moslem savages deliberately disemboweled Christian mothers and brought into a world accursed, innocent babes which were taken on the points of bayonets and sportively tossed to and fro; they have passively beheld the massacre of fifty thousand Christian people in the slowly-rounded circle of a year.
Suppose that this were said in every Christian pulpit next Sunday morning, with what righteous anger and holy indignation would the congregation rise up exclaiming: “Where are these outrages ? Who are the
dastards that stand by watching the slow martyrdom of a nation whose only fault is its loyalty to the Gospel that we profess ? ”
And then should come the answer that Nathan uttered in the face of David: pointing to America, England, the Christian nations of the continent of Europe, “ Thou art the man ! ” It is you that are standing by like the traitors of old and consenting to the death of those who in an age of spiritual apathy are sealing with the blood of martyrdom their holy allegiance to “ the faith once delivered to the saints.”
This is the situation: Armenians are the nation; the Sultan and his soldiers are the devil’s scourge; the Anglo-Saxon race is the cold-hearted spectator.
In saying this I am not upbraiding any person high in power, not singling out any nation as more guilty than the rest. For in this crisis mere criticism would be futile. What we must have is action; united, cogent and immediate; we must not stand upon the order of our going, but go at once, drawn by the compulsion of what is best and most enduring in our natures, even “ the tie that binds ” us to the assertion and proof of a common humanity and a “ like precious faith” in Christ. We have waited a year, and now across the horrid front of war gleams the white figure of a woman. Clara Barton, the angel of the battlefield, takes upon herself the heavenly task of going to Turkey to represent the forces of the Golden Rule and of the Home which is their outcome.
In the long and bloody annals of the Sultan’s country, two figures brighten the scene, two names breathe benediction — Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton, the fairest flowers of English and American Christianity. Women may well be grateful that their sex has placed in the sky where the crescent is fading into darkness the two brightest stars of hope that shall glow in history’s constellation.
Americans have given costly hostages to the Turk. No band of men and women more heroic have lived since the Great Light shone forth out of Jerusalem, than our Missionaries in the land of the harem.
The record of their danger, suffering and death is only second to that of the beloved Armenians whose devotion has rewarded their heroic
toil. Their colleges and schools, churches and hospitals have passed under the withering blight of the Mohammedan.
In the present desperate emergency, the work of Miss Kimball in the devastated city of Van will be chronicled on the fairest pages where the bravery of Christian women is described.
The record that follows is given us by a noble young American, the son of Isaac G. Bliss, D. D., that statesman-like Missionary whose name has been endeared to the Christian Church for well nigh half a century by reason of his wise and unremitting labors. The appearance of this book is opportune, and its moderation of tone will commend it to all thoughtful readers. For we do not wish to hate the Turk or impale him on the point of rapier-like epithets. He is what the centuries have made him, and like Saul of Tarsus who became Paul of Damascus, he “ verily thinks that he doeth God service.” Superstition and fanaticism have been in all ages the most deadly foes of the human race. Under their withering breath the Armenians seem likely to be swept out of existence. Surely such an illustration, surviving in a century when “ sweet reasonableness ” and universal toleration have made more rapid strides than in any that has preceded it, should nerve the will of every Christian man and woman to defend our Mission and our Missionaries, whose work alone can disinfect the land of the scimitar from its awful taint, and disintegrate by means of education the public opinion that prefers the harem to the home and the Koran of Mohammed to the New Testament of Christ.
En route in the Southern States,
January 15, 1896.
FRANCES E. WILLARD.
Table of Contents
| The Cover, Frontispiece, Title Page, Copyright
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
Bliss, Rev. Edwin Munsell . Turkey and the Armenian Atrocities.
Edgewood Publishing Company , 1896
J. Rendel Harris
& B. Helen Harris, Letters
from the Scenes of the Recent Massacres in Armenia