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tremely difficult to pacify them, and resist their importunities that I should go and remonstrate in person with the governor on their numberless grievances. About noon we set off for Geog Tapa (white hill) to see the patriarch Elias. Mar Yohanna accompanied us, as guide and friend. It was interesting to observe the Nestorians, as we passed them on the road, approach their bishop affectionately and kiss his hand. Forgetting the bishop's request, that I should call him and his people Chaldeans, I often in conversation repeated .Nestorians. He at length laughed, and humorously remarked, “We shall soon be at war if you do not cease calling us -Nestorians.” When we reached the house of the ketkhodeh of the village, where the patriarch was staying, we were detained sometime, until a room might be put in order to receive us. We were at length conducted into a large room, at the end of which the patriarch was seated on cushions. Mar Yohanna approached him and kissed his hand, and then introduced us. He welcomed us cordially with a smile. I was obliged to communicate with him through three interpreters. He not being able to speak Turkish, (Arabic and Syriac are the languages spoken in the region of El Koosh,) the bishop addressed him in Syriac. Our Armenian attendant communicated with the bishop in Turkish, Mr. Haas with the latter in Armenian, and I with him in English. Yet notwithstanding the many links in our chain of communication we conversed fluently for three hours, and it was decidedly the most interesting interview I ever enjoyed with any personage whatever. I had felt great solicitude respecting the impression I might leave on the mind of the ecclesiastical head of the people for whose benefit I came to Persia; and was very happy, as we proceeded, to find him heartily seconding all I said. Soon after our introduction, the patriarch remarked that his people were exceedingly oppressed and degraded. I seized upon this remark as an opportunity of making known to him my object in coming here. I replied that it was a source of grief to Christians in America, that his people were in the condition he had stated. He expressed gratitude for our sympathy. I continued, that hearing such to be the state of the Nestorians, and that they still made the Bible their rule of faith, exalting it above all human traditions, Christians in America sent two messengers a few ū. ago to ascertain whether these things were really
so; that these messengers in their report confirmed what had previously been heard in America respecting the condition of the Nestorians; that American Christians then more than ever felt interested for his people; that it was their prayer that the Nestorians might continue to reverence the Bible, and never yield to any solicitations to abandon the christian religion, etc.; moreover, that Christians in America had not felt satisfied with merely praying for the Nestorians; that they remembered the words of the apostle, “If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace; be ye warmed and filled, etc., what doth it profit?”—and that they had accordingly sent me to try to aid his people, if he and they wished it, by assisting them to circulate the Bible, establish schools, prepare school books, etc. As the successive items of this explanation were communicated to the patriarch, I noticed the kindling emotion gleaming from his countenance; and I had scarcely quoted the passage of scripture mentioned above, and fully announced my object, when he raised his eyes toward heaven and exclaimed, “Thanks be unto God, this is just what I have been praying for, and what we need.” He desired me to present his most heartfelt gratitude to Christians in America for sending me here with such an object; and he expressed the same to me for coming, promising at the same time to help me in every way in his power. I told the patriarch, I had brought with me two Syriac books, which I should like to submit to his inspection. They were the
gospels above mentioned, and the Nes
torian spelling-book. He already had two copies of the gospels from the British and Foreign Bible Society lying by him, and he seemed exceedingly rejoiced to find mine to be of the same kind. The spelling-book, too, he said, was admirably prepared; that nothing was faulty in it, save the location of some of the points; and that, he said, was a trifle. He expressed a strong desire, that American Christians would send me a Syriac press. He would appoint one of his most learned men, he said, to devote his time to aid me in the preparation of books: not that he would find any fault with the books that had been already prepared for his people; but that there were many books in their language which it was desirable to have printed. During our conversation, the great room was nearly filled with listening Nestorians, who seemed enraptured with the idea of having books printed in their language. The chief man of the village took up the spelling-book I had brought to show as a specimen to the patriarch and began to teach his little boy (about four years old) the alphabet; and schools and Bibles became at once the engrossing theme. A dinner was spread on the floor, consisting of yogoon, bread, cheese, butter, walnuts, and raisins. We all ate in Asiatic style, with our fingers. During dinner the patriarch remarked, that within the last three years (i.e. since he himself revolted from Rome,) about six hundred families, in the vicinity of El Koosh, who were formerly Catholics, have become Nestorians. I was careful not to reproach the adherents of Rome. Still I was happy to let him know that neither I nor my patrons were numbered among her sons.—Soon after dinner, I took my leave of the patriarch, being permitted to believe that he heartily welcomed me to my missionary labor. My heart melted in gratitude to God, that he had brought me to Oormiah, just in time to meet this man, and that I had been permitted to enjoy so encouraging an interview. Mar Yohanna remained to spend the night with the patriarch. Our ride back to the city, just before sunset, was delightful. 22. We were early awaked by the priests and some of the people coming to prayers. Their services consisted of chanting, bowing, kneeling, and crossing themselves, and continued about half an hour. When I went out of my room, I found Mar Elias (the bishop, not the patriarch) from Geog Tapa, with the priests. He was absent when we visited his village yesterday. He is a captious old man, about sixty years of age, and prides himself exceedingly on his repeated learning. He gave me a formal welcome to his people; but I was much less pleased with him, to the last, than with the other bishops. A copy of my spelling-book was brought, and turning to the alphabet, after entertaining his own people present for some time, he addressed himself to us. “It would be extremely instructive and entertaining for us,” he said, “if he only had time to sit down with him and be instructed into the profound meaning of each letter of the Syriac alphabet—alif for instance,” he said, “for Allaha,
th. ; and for Adam (man,) and so to. is own people present seemed aston
ished at such marvellous displays of learning.
Interview with the Governor of Oormiah.
This morning I sent the letters I had with me, from Sir John Campbell, the prince, and the vizier, to the governor. His excellency returned an invitation, that I should visit him, and we immediately called. We found him occupying a splendid mansion, and surrounded by numerous attendants. He is an intelligent man and received us very kindly. Being told that I was from the neur world, he replied, “Every thing is superlative that comes from the new world.” He dealt out many other Persian compliments, of a like description. He remarked, that Mr. Fraser, the English novelist on Persia, had been his guest, on his way to Bagdad, three days before, and had mentioned that I was soon coming there and should bring books with me. I told him I had brought some Syriac books for the Nestorians; and inquired whether he thought it would be well to distribute books among them. Two moollahs sat near, and he was obviously embarrassed. With a smile, however, he replied, that the learned clergy of the Nestorians could best decide that point. I told him I had the day before seen their patriarch, showed him specimens of my books, and that he pronounced them good and suitable to be distributed among his people. The governor said, “It is then very well.” He himself, I am confident, would never discourage the establishment of schools, or the circulation of books, among the Nestorians. Like other Persian governors, however, he is a creature of the moollahs. While the latter are ''. the missionary can have protection an pursue his course; but he must always expect to depart from the field at their bidding. They watch with eager eyes, and sound the alarm at the least indication of danger. A German missionary, who was understood to be preparing a book against the Mohammedan religion, came near losing his life, in Tabreez, two years ago. In an indirect manner much may be done.
When the governor found that I had brought no Persian books for distribution, he seemed to labor to conceal his previous apprehension. He inquired how I was pleased with Oormiah. I replied that I was highly pleased with it, so much so, that I might at some day like to come there and reside. “Most wel
come will you be,” he replied, “the whole city shall be yours.” He directed a house to be immediately prepared, for our reception, and appointed a young nobleman to accompany us over the city to visit its antiquities. We returned to the church, and had our effects removed thence to the house provided for us by the governor. Mar Elias (the bishop) soon called to visit us; and several applications for books came from distant villages; among the rest came four little boys from Geog Tapa, on foot, a distance of four miles. They belonged to Mar Elias' school.” They had heard of my being in their village the day before and having books with me, and they all started forthwith to procure for themselves books. They set down around me, and I gave them each a copy of the gospels and a spelling-book, which they folded to their bosoms and kissed, and then read them admirably. In the course of the afternoon the governor sent us presents of tea, sugar, fresh fish, and bushels of grapes and melons. Such presents we are always sorry to receive, in Persia, as an extravagant return is universally expected; and in value corresponding to the rank of the Persian donor. At evening, Mar Yohanna returned from Geog Tapa. I inquired what the patriarch said, respecting his going to Tabreez. “He told me,” said Mar Yohanna, “to go home with you, and learn English, and do just as you say.” He, at the same time, took from his pocket two of the patriarchate seals, which the patriarch had given to the bishop, directing him, (inasmuch as I am to be located at a great distance from El Koosh, often rendered impassable by Kurdish hostility,) to aid me, in his name, by the use of those seals, in any undertaking in which I might need his influence, as in the establishment of schools, the printing of books, etc.—Such a mark of confidence in me, and of approbation of my object, was most gratifying and altogether unexpected. Mar Yohanna took lodgings in the same room with us. In the evening we told him that it was our practice to have worship morning and evening, and that we would submit the point to his pleasure, whether we should listen to him, or
* Mar Elias’ school, to which these boys belong, is ||
the only regular school in the province. It consists of twelve or fifteen scholars. Several of the priests have two or three boys each around them. In all cases, the boys who learn to read are but very imperfectly taught, both for the want of books and competent instructors.
he to us. He replied that we had already seen how the Nestorians pray, and now he should be most happy to see how we pray. I read a chapter in the Bible and we kneeled down and prayed. As soon as we closed, the bishop broke out, “That is very well.” Observing us kneel in different directions, however, he asked, “Which way do you turn your faces when you pray?” We told him we were not particular on that point, as God is in every place. He seemed satisfied with our answer, and merely replied, that the Nestorians always turned their faces towards the east when they pray, because they are looking for Christ to come from that direction. 23. In the afternoon we visited the gardens back of the city. They are about two miles in extent, and very tastefully laid out. Two rows of thickly studded poplars surround each, with a stream of water running between them. The gardens are also covered with fruit trees, arranged in squares, and ornamented with flower bushes. Artificial fountains were here and there flowing. Our walk through these gardens brought us to the foot of the Kurdish mountains. “We ascended two or three heights, from which we enjoyed a fine view of the most enchanting scenery I ever beheld. We had a perfect view, first, of the gardens at the foot of the mountains—next the city—then the gardens east of the city—afterwards the vast plain, gleaming with a golden harvest and decked with its numberless orchards and vineyards—and, finally, of the pure lake, rising in the distance and apparently meeting the skies. Forgetting for a moment the moral night that is brooding over this beautiful scene, I could hardly resist the feeling, as I surveyed it from the mountain top, that my eyes were resting upon the paradise of Eden. On our return, Mar Yohanna informed us that he had engaged as his servant, to accompany him to Tabreez, the most learned priest in the province—one belonging in Geog Tapa, who had all his life sat at the feet of bishop Elias. I inquired why he selected a man of so much prominence as his servant. He replied, “In the first place, I wish to take with me a Nestorian who may prove an agreeable and worthy companion, as well as servant for myself; and in the second place, I wish to take one who shall himself be worthy of your attention and instruction.” I could not object to either of these reasons, especially when the bishop, at the same time, stated that no additional
salary would be expected, in consideration of the character of his servant.
Return to Tabreez.
24. We set off about eight o'clock in the morning, amid the reiterated blessings, alike of bishops, priests, and people. If real piety were to be estimated by the amount of pious talk, we might infer the existence of much more general and exalted piety, in all these countries, than can be found in the most devoted Christian community.—The governor furnished us a man to accompany us as guard and guide to the next province. We rode that day about six and a half fursaks (26 miles), and put up for the night at the village of Dash Aghul. Our
direction was southeast, the first half of
the way, and our road led through numerous charming villages. We then came upon the lake, where the mountain shuts down quite near it. Our direction changed to the south, leading around the southwest corner of the lake; and we passed over undulating, uncultivated ground, save here and there a small Kurdish hamlet under the clisis of the mountains. We noticed a few black tents at a little distance from the road, and numberless Kurds returning home from their summer rambles with their flocks. On the way we stopped at Geog Tapa, the village where I visited the patriarch, for the priest who was to accompany the bishop as his servant. The whole village gathered around me, and reiterated their welcome. The father of the finest boy in Mar Elias school led his little son (about ten years old) to me, and said, “This boy I present to you; you may take him with you now to Tabreez.” Nothing but a fear of the responsibility of taking care of the boy, while unable to speak his language, enabled me to resist the temptation. I satisfied the father by proposing to take his son, when I shall remove to Oormiah. He is a remarkable fine looking boy, and I think missionary bounty, will be well applied in his thorough education. The priest at length came with his ef. fects, consisting of his bed and prayerbook. He is a young man, about twenty years of age,_amiable, modest, and intelligent. His parents, and indeed, the inhabitants of the whole village were deeply affected in view of his departure, though they professed to rejoice in the prospect of his living with me. His mother came and kissed my hands and feet, and entreated me, with many tears, to take good care of her son and shield
him from the Mussulmans. And, as we left the village, the villagers all embraced their priest and wept aloud, and followed us a considerable distance on the road. It was quite affecting to notice these simple overflowings of attachment, among this rude people, but few of whom ever leave sight of their native villages. My heart rose in thankfulness to God, as we rode on, that I was permitted to conduct home with me the two most promising Nestorian ecclesiastics that are to be found in the province. Whatever is done for them will bear directly and effectually on the interests of the whole people. Two hours from Geog Tapa brought us to Ardishai, the village of Mar Gabriel. We entered his house, and unexpectedly found with him the patriarch Elias, surrounded by a large collection of his people. He received me with all the cordiality of a brother. Our baggage had gone on, and our visit was necessarily short; but to me it was a highly gratifying one. The patriarch repeated his assurances that I had his most hearty welcome, and that I always should have his utmost co-operation in my efforts to benefit his people. For a little amusement he called for a Syriac New Testament, with a Latin translation, and we read alternately, he the Syriac and I the Latin. He invited me to correspond with him. We reached our stopping place— Dash-Agul—not until quite dark. The villagers were frightened, fled into their houses, and shut their doors. After much effort we induced a man to procure us a shelter, and were conducted into a stable, at one end of which was a platform spread over with an old carpet, on which we found very comfortable lodgings. 25. We rode six fursaks (24 miles, our course still continuing south an southeast. Two miles from where we stopped last night, brought us to the village of Sheilan. Ibad (devil town). It is a kind of metropolis of a district embracing the few villages under the mountains, southeast of the plain of Oormiah. It is partly surrounded by a wall which is now falling to ruins. Whether the Kurds here, as the Yozedez in the province of Bayazeed, pay formal homage to the devil, as the name of this village would imply, I could not satisfactorily ascertain. There is no doubt respecting the origin of the name, though the people are now nominally Mohammedans. We put up for the night at Naghadeh. The ketkhodeh conducted us to the palace, where a room was immediately vacated for our reception. The governor was absent. A prince, Melek Kasim Meerza, happened now to be in this village, on a tour of observation in Kurdistan. He and the governor's son were out hunting when we arrived. Immediately after his return, the prince sent to us an invitation to visit him. We dined upon the game he had taken, and passed the evening with him. He is about thirty years of age, extremely social and friendly in his disposition, and has so long been acquainted with gentlemen of the European embassies, that he has become himself quite European in his character. He speaks French fluently and a little English. His object in making this tour, he informed us, was to prepare an accurate map of Kurdistan, of which country now, he said, very little is well known. This map, he remarked, he intended to present to the Asiatic Society in Paris, of which he had the happiness and honor to be a member. By the road side, on the mountain, we observed to-day a solitary thorn-bush of considerable size completely covered with small strips of rags, which from time to time had been tied upon its twigs and branches, as votive offerings, by the Kurdish travellers. It is a very common practice among Mohammedans to deposit such standing mementos of their religious pledges. The Kurds make religious pledges on almost every occasion, particularly when some diabolical plot is to be perpetrated, as robbery or murder, etc. In their own religious system they find but ineffectual prohibitions of such deeds, especially with their explanation. When, for instance, they recollect, that it is forbidden in the Koran to rob a living man, they have just to kill the man, and rob him after he is dead! We had now advanced fairly into the country of the Kurds. In this province, however, we felt very little apprehension of danger. About eight years ago Abbas Meerza caused one thousand Persian families to emigrate from the province of Erivan, then under his government, into this district, with the design of taming the frightful Kurds; and to an important extent this object has been accomplished. The wild simplicity of the Kurds reminds me much of the aborigines of America. They uniformly showed us great respect as European travellers. When approaching us on horseback, they often dismounted at a distance, and made their obeisance. In a missionary
point of view, I regard them with a de
gree of interest. Though nominally Mohammedans, they are much less influenced and injured by the religion of the prophet, than the Persians. And it is gratifying to know, that they are not entirely forgotten in the sympathies of Christendom. The Rev. Mr. Henley, of the Basle Missionary Society, is now commencing the study of their language, in this city, with reference to making Kurdish translations of the New TestaInent. The Kurds, however, are nomadic tribes; and efforts directed to their religious benefit, must, as in all such cases, be much more precarious, than if they possessed more fixed character and habits. Their language, which is not written, partakes of the character of the Turkish, or Persian, as a given province is situated in the vicinity of these countries respectively. They have men, learned, they told us, alike in the Arabic, Turkish, and Persian languages. It may be in place here to add, as a circumstance unfavorable to efforts for the religious benefit of the Kurds, that it is the wish, alike of the Persian and the Turkish governments, either to extirpate these Kurdish tribes altogether, or bring them from their mountain fastnesses and amalgamate them with the rest of the people. Any efforts, therefore, contributing to give the Kurds permanency of character, as putting books into their language, would probably incur opposition from these governments. 27. We were early on our way, and continued our course northeast over the great plain we entered yesterday, which soon become again uncultivated. The sameness of the scene was much enlivened by the zeal for learning English manifested by our Nestorian companions. We became mutual teachers and learners—the bishop and priest teaching me the names of things and to count in Syriac, and I them in English. 28. We started an hour before day, and scarcely dismounted from our horses until we reached the large fine village of Deh Khorgham, ten fursaks, (forty miles) from Maragha. Our road was over mountainous and uncultivated sections; and our course northwest, about thirty miles, which brought us quite near the lake; then doubling a promontory, it changed to northeast, the direction of Tabreez. We passed several acid springs, boiling up from small apertures in the middle of the road, with an effervescence as vivid and perfect as was ever produced in a chemical laboratory. It is by incrustations from the overflowing water