ArmenianHouse.org - Armenian Literature, History, Religion
ArmenianHouse.org in ArmenianArmenianHouse.org in Russian

Rendel J. Harris and Helen B. Harris

LETTERS FROM ARMENIA


[page 22]

LETTER No. V.

ARRIVAL AT ALEXANDRETTA — START FOR THE INTERIOR.

KHAN, ALEXANDRETTA, April 18, 1896.

DEAR FRIENDS, — The second stage of our journey from Constantinople here has now been safely accomplished, and we are landed here with the Custom House behind our backs. We had a rather trying voyage from Smyrna, as we were obliged to take a little Greek coasting steamer, the alternative being a ten days’ wait. We had every attention from captain and steward, but the little vessel rolled and pitched, and loitered in several little harbours, and we neither of us proved as impervious to these circumstances as might have been wished. Nevertheless we were glad to be on board, and now we are very glad to be on land again.

We hear from the American Consul here (the British Consul being at Aleppo, we are thrown on the help of the former) that the country is very disturbed, and he considers our journey a very risky one; but as we knew this before, of course it makes no difference.

We are now negotiating for a servant as far as Aintab, and may start this afternoon. The man under special consideration is a Greek. We hear that two of the Red Cross workers have gone to Marash, where the need is

[page 23]

so great; two others are at Ourfa, and we may meet them there: I hope we shall.

The big turret-warships in the beautiful little harbour here look very out of keeping with the lovely scenery — grand snow-capped mountains all around, and such a blue calm sea!

Near our little khan the hubbub is indescribable. The usual Moslem crowd of every hue and dress, and I have just had to close the shutter in front of this table where I am writing, because two Turkish women were flattening their faces against the window to get a good look in.

Our teskereh (Turkish passport) does not appear to be an unusual one after all — so Dr. D ____’s servant, who first interpreted it for us, must have romanced a little — it does, however, recommend us to ordinary attention.

We feel much peace in being here, and believe we are not alone. Please continue to pray for us, for we need help in this way very much, and shall do.

Mr. Knapp, the American missionary from the interior, who is charged with inciting to rebellion (no doubt because he showed active sympathy with the poor Armenians), and who is to be tried at Constantinople, is expected here to-day en route, so we may see him. I honour him very much.

R. joins with me in love to all our dear friends, and I remain, ever yours affectionately,

HELEN B. H.

Postscript.

KILLIS, April 22.

We left Alexandretta yesterday punctually at 6 A.M., and with a carriage for ourselves, a waggon for our lug-

[page 24]

gage and the servant, and two zaptiehs to guard us, we set out. The drive was first over the dangerous malarial plain, then up beautiful mountain steeps and passes, with constant glorious views, and the purest air, and as the day-was showery in its first hours, a lovely rainbow seemed to travel with us, which we took as an omen of promise for our journey. After a while we descended again by a long and beautiful zig-zag, with a capital road and most lovely flowers skirting the way, anemones in profusion, &c. Below us was an outstretched lake with marshy land, but when we reached the shore we found a very different climate, &c, from A. — the most luxuriant country, the richest pasturage, delicious streams, half covered with a lovely white water-flower, immense herds of sheep, camels, buffalo, and also horses, and the road one constant stream of caravans; hundreds and hundreds of camels, crowds of donkeys, and multitudes of pack-horses. The traffic between Alexandretta and Aleppo must be something enormous to sustain such a stream of trade.

All along the plain the agriculture seemed far more prosperous than we had expected; magnificent sweeps of growing corn and grazing land, and later, fig and olive orchards and some vines, but a far richer country than Palestine — the soil seemed extremely rich, and as if it could never be exhausted.

From time to time, we saw very curious looking mounds

Mounds

rising from the plain; R. says that they probably cover

[page 25]

ruined cities, and that there was once a very fine civilisation here.

We had four relays of soldiers each day, and it was very amusing to notice their different characters. Seven out of the eight of yesterday had good horses, and all were gaily dressed and carried a gun over their shoulders. They salaamed when they first came, and came for backsheesh before leaving, between which processes, they carried out their ideas of guardianship differently. Several rode close by our carriage window all the time, frequently looking in, I suppose to see that we had not fallen out by the way. Some caracolled off, and kept quite at a distance in front or behind, and one actually threw a rose in at the window. Our journey yesterday was about forty odd miles, and at its close we stayed at a khan — such a place as I never was in before — absolutely nothing but four bare walls, — fancy, after such a journey! Our servant, whose name is Griva, and a young Armenian who had attached himself to our party, did what they could, but altogether one realised as never before, I think, some of the conditions of primitive existence.

We passed immense beds of asphodel in the plains, and also the liquorice plant. At Hammam, Rendel had a bath in a hot sulphur stream, and felt much the better for it.

To-day we journeyed about thirty miles, and reached this most Oriental city. We were first taken to the great khan, where our coming caused tremendous excitement; afterwards, we came to a quiet Greek home, and were thankful for Mr. Aristides’ kind hospitality. He is factor to Mr. Walker at A., and we carried a letter to him

[page 26]

which insured a welcome. We found on coming here that there were a hundred men killed on the 20th March, and that about fifty are still suffering from wounds then received. There seem to be several influential Turkish families here, who did what they could to prevent bloodshed. We saw a young doctor from Beyrout, who is doing what he can, but he told us of many horrors, especially of hands cut off, which seems a common form of brutality in these outbreaks.

 


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

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