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Rendel J. Harris and Helen B. Harris

LETTERS FROM ARMENIA


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LETTERS FROM ARMENIA

LETTER No. I.

ARRIVAL AT CONSTANTINOPLE — VISIT TO THE BRITISH EMBASSY.

CONSTANTINOPLE, March 28, 1896.

DEAR FRIENDS, — We arrived here safely, as we expected, on the afternoon of March 25, the weather being glori¬ously fine, though much cooler than in Paris, and after some Custom House difficulty drove through the crowded streets to the Hotel in Pera, where for several days we have been most comfortably housed, though now we have removed to the house of our most kind and hospitable friends, G. D. and his wife, where we feel quite settled and at home.

R. sent his letter of introduction from Mr. Atkin, with our cards, to the British Embassy immediately on our arrival, and in the evening of the same day, kindly accompanied by Mrs. D., we called on Clara Barton,1 and heard

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1 President of the American Red Cross Society.

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from her and Mr. Pullman a most interesting account of their experience since coming here. She said that they had been very kindly treated by the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, and that the English newspapers were wrong in saying that every obstacle had been placed in their way. Four gentlemen, agents of the Red Cross, are now en route for Armenia, by way of Smyrna, viz., Dr. Hubbell and Mr. Mason; and Messrs. Wistar and Wood, who left by the last steamer for Alexandretta. Large supplies of clothing have gone with them, and sewing-machines as well! These have all gone with a simple Turkish passport, not waiting for the Irade, which is still in cloudland.

We feel much sympathy for Miss Barton and party, however, in the fact that Mrs. Mason, the only other lady who came with them, and mother of one of the two gentlemen who went off first, died on the day of our arrival from bronchitis, &c, no doubt intensified by travel and the change of climate. She was buried the next day, and her loss will leave Miss Barton, who will not herself attempt to travel further, very lonely.

On Thursday morning we called at the British Embassy, but were asked to come again in the afternoon. Later we received an informal note from one of the attaches, enclosing two invitations from Sir Philip and Lady Currie, one for an afternoon reception the same day at five, and the other for dinner en petit comit for yesterday. This we took as very encouraging, and then went with

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Mrs. D. to a bazaar got up in aid of the Armenians. Here we met some of the most interesting English residents in Constantinople, and had several nice talks, and heard many things which cannot be put on paper. Evidently the feeling here is a very deep-seated one; but spies abound, and you have the consciousness all the time that you have to be very careful when you speak at all freely.

Duly at five we were at the Embassy, and were ushered from staircase to staircase, and from one grand salon to another, till at last we came to the Reception Rooms, and met our ambassador and his lovely wife. They were both most cordial; but the room was fast filling with visitors, and beyond a few friendly sympathetic words we did not get any private conversation. People here say that either the Sultan is entirely controlled by some Palace clique, or that he is the “most remarkable man,” because all the massacres have certainly been ordered from the Palace, and yet he will at times express the most humane sympathies. We heard that our Embassy is in great ill-favour, and any Turk of consequence who ventures to come there is at once a marked man.

Yesterday morning R. and I thought we would take the opportunity of a quiet time and go to see St. Sophia. Previously we had been asked at the Embassy if we would go to the Selamlik, but we declined, saying we knew the Sultan’s portrait quite well. Yesterday, however, was extra grand, because Prince Ferdinand was to be received by the Sultan, and all the world attended ;

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and a gentleman told me afterwards the Sultan was treated as if he were a god!

On our way to St. Sophia and on the Galata Bridge we met all the Turkish cavalry, lancers, &c.; and R. pointed out that their dress was in most respects just as in the time of the Crusaders and earlier, and that the musical instruments of the mounted band were far earlier and even Biblical in character.1

St. Sophia has been so often described that I will not add mine to other accounts, but simply say that it im¬pressed me more than St. Peter’s, and less than the Mosque of Omar.
In the evening we went to the Embassy, and Sir Philip told E. that he would do all in his power to help us, and thought we should be able to get to the places we want, particularly to Diarbekir.

This afternoon we are going up the Bosphorus to stay the night at the country-house of the British Consular Judge, Mr. Tarring — who has also promised to help us all he can — and other invitations are coming in.

I might add before closing this long letter, that this morning Mrs. D. and I went to an Armenian shop in Stamboul and purchased a quantity of material which we got under cost price, and which poor Armenian women are already set at work to make up into garments for us

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1 Alluding, I suppose, to the Parthian kettledrums mounted on horseback, which are described in Apoc. ix. under the figure of the humming of the wings of locusts. — J. R. H.

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to carry.1— With love, I remain for us both, very affectionately,

HELEN B. H.

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1 As a warning to those who may be engaged in similar philanthropic attempts to get clothes to the backs of people in the interior, it may be as well to confess that this piece of charity did not reach its destination at Harpoot until October, by which time the contents of the boxes were very much “minished and brought low.” — J. K. H.

 


Table of contents
The cover and pages 1-4 | Preface | Table of contents (as in the book)
Turkish Armenia with Route of J.R. & H.B. Harris (a map)
Letter I | Letter II | Letter III | Letter IV | Letter V | Letter VI | Letter VII | Letter VIII
Letter IX | Letter X | Letter XI | Letter XII | Letter XIII | Letter XIV | Letter XV
Letter XVI | Letter XVII | Letter XVIII | Letter XIX | Letter XX | Letter XXI | Letter XXII
Letter XXIII | Letter XXIV | Letter XXV | Letter XXVI | Letter XXVII | Letter XXVIII
Memorandum: Notes of Information from J. R. H. | Letter XXIX | Letter XXX
Letter XXXI | Letter XXXII | Letter XXXIII | Letter XXXIV | Letter XXXV
Letter XXXVI | Letter XXXVII

Acknowledgements:

Source: J. Rendel Harris & B. Helen Harris. Letters from the Scenes of the Recent Massacres in Armenia. London, James Nisbet & Co., Limited, 1897
Provided by: Aram Arkun, Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center
Scanned by: Karen Vrtanesyan
OCR: Irina Minasyan

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