- Armenian Literature, History, Religion in in Russian

Rendel J. Harris and Helen B. Harris


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HARPOOT, September 16, 1896.

DEAR FRIENDS, — After my confident expectation of being able to make the proposed journey to Van in the company of Shakir Pasha’s party, you may be surprised to find me still dating from Harpoot. Our change of plan was certainly a great disappointment and surprise to me, but I will simply narrate events.

We had planned to follow two or three days after the Marshal, so as to avoid travelling on Sunday, and because he expected to remain four or five days at Palu, where we were to join the company (leaving Harpoot on Monday, August 31). Mr. Fontana, the Consul, brought up our teskerehs on Saturday evening; the Kurdish muleteers (six of them) were on the grounds with their animals, our

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tents were ready, and baggage and provisions all packed, when a telegram from the British Embassy, telling of the events of the 27th at Constantinople, changed the aspect of affairs. The Consul would have still let us go, travelling under the circumstances not being more dangerous than staying here in his judgment, but the mission party felt that in the uncertainty of events here, they must all keep close together, and not leave the college premises. This opinion was quite united and decisive, and as I could not travel alone without dragoman or interpreter, it decided the question for me too.

So here I am until the way opens for some new plan. Humanly speaking we are hemmed in on every hand, and I will tell you briefly that the people all around are greatly disturbed, and we hear of trouble in various quarters, near and far. I myself do not believe that it will be anything like last autumn and winter, for I believe the Turkish Government is on the alert to prevent; but no doubt terrible threatenings are being uttered on one side, and believed on the other, and so people are bringing their goods to the college for safety, and the Consul has asked for a largely increased guard of soldiers for us.

In his letter to the Vali making this request, he gave, as an added reason for the precautions, the fact of an English lady being for the time here, and the great importance of her safety. This troubled me not a little, for, as you all know, I have no confidence for myself in the protection of guns, &c, and so I wrote and asked the Consul to tell the Governor I had no fear for myself and did not wish any more soldiers sent here on my account. The

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Consul replied very courteously that he would remember my wish, and added that he himself considered my presence here a great safeguard to the place. This is a new light on the subject, and perhaps it is for this purpose I have been permitted this detention.

In spite of all the trouble around, however, the college has just reopened with more attenders, both of boys and girls, than ever before, about 300 boys and over 200 girls, and most of these are paying for themselves. This indicates, I think, the hopeful and elastic character of the people, and their great love of education. Does it not ? And this is going on in face of a mandate from _____ , lately received, to the Government here, to discourage the Protestant propaganda, which has had the effect of shutting up one school and place of worship already, but not the one that we gave £40 to repair before R. left, for that is, I thank God, open, and full of children, and when I am well enough I am going to pay it a visit.

For you must know, dear friends, that, in company with several of the dear missionary party, I have been down with some kind of malarial fever since our journey was given up, and am rather weak still; but do not trouble, as I am all right again.

I am sending with this a letter (No. I.) from Malatia, or part of one, about the fifty orphans I arranged for there, out of Friends’ funds, for one year, the sum being £200. You will see they want £40 more, and no doubt next year will hope for a repetition. As I am still reserving some money for other places, I do not feel that I have the means of acceding to their request, but I send the petition, that

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if Friends’ Committee wish these added ten to be taken on, they may communicate directly with the “modestly-shining ” Miss Bush herself, whose address is simply — American Mission, Harpoot, Turkey. I thought the letter so characteristic of the people, that, apart from the request, you would like to see it.

I also send a long document, of which extracts might be sent round in a circular, about the general state of the orphan question. The friends here think the way we are doing at Malatia is the best way to grapple with the difficulty, and better than for the mission stations to try and take such masses of children in, or to form orphanages. I send the paper specially to make you all feel the terrible necessity of providing for as many as is possible of these bereft little ones for the next few years, and if at Ourfa and Malatia and Van (?) Friends can maintain fifty or sixty for four or five years at £4. each, it will be a work the beauty and blessing of which no words can ever tell.

The Malatia letter makes no mention of Friends as their benefactors about the orphans, though we impressed upon them again and again from whom the help came; this you must forgive, for poor human nature looks to the immediate hand held out, and so, no doubt, we have had more than our share of gratitude, though you are mentioned, I am glad to see, under the general title of “ philanthropists.”

I send also a note of thanks (No. II), which really belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Crossley, for help to repair the Protestant church at Arabkir. This is really being done now, and

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will soon be used, for which we may give great thanks, in view of others forbidden. The one at M., about which I wrote when there, and for which help to rebuild is given and in Dr. Barnum’s hands, is again stopped, after leave having once been given. Now that the hot weather has gone there is nowhere for the Protestants there to worship under shelter, which is grievous, and no prospect of any, so I have made bold to send a personal request to the two priests and two leading Gregorians that they will kindly allow the Protestants to worship in their great church once during Sunday, till they can build for themselves. The note (No. III.) of Miss Bush making this request for me I also enclose, because it is itself quite Oriental in style, I think. — With much love to all dear friends, yours always,

H. B. H.

No. I.

MALATIA, August 13, 1896.


DEAR SISTER IN CHRIST, — This first time of our writing, we reveal our and the orphans’ fathomless gratitude to you and to the gentle and good-hearted lady, Mrs. H., and to all philanthropists.

After your departure, the orphan committee immediately put their hands to the work by going about among the different quarters of the city and observing the orphans and their guardians, according to the arrangements which you had directed. From the money you gave us we give to each of the fifty orphans 33 piastres (about 5s. 4d.). We required of their guardians that they should be kept clean and should have home training and be taught to work. For one or two who had no natural guardians we found places.

As we said, again we repeat — Malatia will remain always grateful to you. Your benefactions are not to be forgotten. You (the missionaries) were the saviours of Malatia from being destroyed by

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famine, therefore it is indebted to you for existence. You satisfied the hungry ; may the Lord reward you, we have no compensation. Now, also, you (meaning Mrs. H. and her friends) care for orphans. We pray that the Lord will reward this also with His abundant gifts. What you have done are such benefits as not only such a fallen city as Malatia cannot recompense, but even a people burdened with good things could not.

You also will witness, and we told you when here, that to examine into the condition of orphans required time, which it was impossible to find then. After you went, when we made examination, there were found many worthy orphans serving your purpose who had been altogether forgotten. Our conscience now tortures us as to why these more worthy of sympathy should have been forgotten. For long it will torture us, modest sisters, if for these remaining miserable ones we do not offer a petition to you. If possible, we entreat, be pleased to give the privilege of adding ten orphans to the fifty now cared for, by which these wretched forgotten ones also will be comforted, and you also, without doubt, have gained the right of being yet more rewarded of God.

Our gratitude and respect offering to you, we remain, the ones praying with you,

_____  _____
_____  _____
_____  _____
_____  _____

No. II.

Translated from Preacher Bedros Hachadooryan’s Letter from Arabkir, August 22, 1896.

“For the £30 sent by modestly-shining lady, Mrs. H., for the renewing of our chapel and schools we are very grateful. Be pleased to be the interpreter of the grateful feelings of myself and the people, and to offer her our deep thankfulness. This great favour done to us, and this graceful service for the glory of God, will remain an indelible memory upon our city and in our hearts. We entreat that the Lord reward her.”

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No. III.

Translation of Letter from Carrie E. Bush to Gregorian Armenians in Malatia.

“Mrs. H. salutes you and says, ‘ Because I have tried to gladden you and to care for you, in a friendly way I wish to entreat something of you; that is, that you will give permission to the Protestants to worship once on the Sabbath in your Holy Trinity Church until they are able for themselves to build a chapel. Because I will help them to build, but at present they are hindered.

“‘If you give this privilege, I know that to God and to us it will be pleasing, and I will especially pray that in return for this brotherly love and sympathy you may be rewarded by the protection and peace of God.’”


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


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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