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has at all times been an arduous and ungrateful task. Our own
missionaries, established in Persia, are roused to extreme en-
thusiasm should a stray Moslem embrace their faith. I remember
travelling across Persia with one of these pampered individuals,
who appeared to me to be admirably equipped for early perdition
among the surroundings in which his walk in life lay. The
experiment was boldly made by the missionaries of Shusha,
although the conquests of Russia, a few years after their installa-
tion, provided them with an ample field for conducting their
operations without crossing into Persian soil. Zaremba followed
in the track of the armies of Paskevich, distributing the Scrip-
tures, duly translated into Turkish, and arguing the eternal truth
of Christianity and the errors of Islam. But his books were torn
in pieces by a population among whom contempt for Christians
is engendered through their mother's milk ; and I do not know
that the bread which he cast upon the waters has been found up
to the present day. Better results might be expected from
their labours among the Armenians, whose clergy they discovered
sunk in the depths of ignorance, where the beginning of the
twentieth century finds them still. But they had not anticipated
the existence of this sphere for their activities ; and in the ab-
sence of special powers it was not permissible to them to receive
converts from a Christian Church. It was open to the proselyte
to enter the Orthodox Church of Russia ; but, if he desired to be
baptized by a minister of the tolerated sects, his own clergy could
claim him back. It was inevitable that, with the progress of
their schools and religious teaching, such a case should soon
arise. It is, no doubt, the lofty virtue and the traditional practice
of the Armenian Church to respect the religious tenets of other
Christian Churches, and to inculcate a large tolerance among
their congregation of the doctrines held by their brothers of a
varying creed. In this respect the reverend traveller, to whose



Gor'elovka and Qiieeii Ltikeria loi

work I am indebted for this little history, might have learnt but
failed to learn a valuable lesson from a clergy whose general
standards he justly condemns.^ But the attitude of these
militant missionaries, no less than the success of their efforts,
touched the vanity of the Armenian hierarchy to the quick.
Two deacons of their persuasion had become allied to the Swiss
teachers, without formally renouncing their own Church. They
were accused of influencing the people against their old religious
practices, and, according to a time-honoured usage, it was
ordered by the katholikos that they should be bound and sent
to Edgmiatsin. The missionaries appealed to the Governor-
General, who, in the spirit of a Roman proconsul, inquired for
what reason they were interfering in the concerns of the Armenian
Church. Let the Germans remain Germans and the Armenians
remain Armenians — a ruling which was modified by the Imperial
Government, to whom this high functionary referred the case.
It was decided, much to the dismay of the religious communities,
that if a man were determined to leave the bosom of the Armenian
Church, it was not permitted to the clergy to retain him by force.
But this favourable disposition on the part of the central Govern-
ment was in advance of Russian methods. The victory of the
missionaries was not of long duration ; the multitude of their
enemies overbore the power of their i&w friends. Their printing
press is long since silent ; they have no successors, except a few
Armenian preachers, faithful to the old traditions, of whom our
friend at Akhalkalaki was one. He himself was confined by
Government within the limits of this remote fortress ; two years
he had already passed in this manner of imprisonment ; for three
more years he was sentenced to remain. He earned his own
subsistence as clerk and assistant in the large draper's shop. In
Shusha itself, if I may trust the official statistics, the members of
the x-^rmenian Protestant community did not exceed twent}'-six
souls in 1886.- Russian policy of the present day abhors

1 Eli Smith, speaking of the Roman Catholic missions, is not ashamed to make use
of the following language : — " Unfortunately a missionary can hardly set his foot upon
any spot in that field (the Mediterranean) without encountering some sentinel of the
' Mother of Harlots,' ready to challenge him and shout the alarm " ((?/. cit. p. 210).
In the course of my reading I have incidentally collected parallel passages from the
works of other writers belonging to the cloth, and it is with pain that I note that for
foul thoughts, expressed through a foul mouth, it would be difficult to find their equal
in the writings of lay authors.

^ The Armenian Lutherans of Baku were numbered at 350 souls in 1886 (Official
Statistics, etc.). According to Sembat, there are also communities at Shemakha, Erivan
and its neighbourhood, Karakala, near Kars, and Tiflis.



I02 A



rniejiia



missionary effort ; it has been justly remarked by a recent clerical
traveller that if a priest wishes to travel in the Russian provinces
he must divest himself of his clerical character and clerical garb.^
I myself can testify to the extreme difficulty with which the
Protestant missionaries in Turkey obtain permission to cross
Russian soil. Such is the jealousy of that Orthodox Church, the
object of British episcopal blandishments, to whose mercies it is
announced that the Archbishop of Canterbury is about to transfer
his long-cherished pupils, the Chaldaean or Assyrian Christians of
Kurdistan."'

To Sembat the Russian colonists were an object of peculiar
interest, not indeed in the same capacity in which they appealed
to the Governor, but by reason of the kind of religion which they
professed. Here was a people who, like himself, were exiles for
the sake of religion, who resembled, in their aversion to the
trammels of ecclesiasticism, the congregations in whose bosom he
had himself been reared. The history of the Dukhobortsy or
Dukhoborians — I became familiar with the latter termination, and
such is the name of the sect to which these settlers belong —
composes a chapter which is neither the least remarkable nor the
most creditable in the history of the Russian Church-State.
Their origin would appear to be wrapt in some mystery ; accord-
ing to one account a discharged soldier first disseminated the
teaching in the Government of Kharkov and in the year i 740.''
Count Tolstoy adopts the view, which would appear the more
probable, that it was a foreigner, a Quaker, immigrant to Russia,
who spread the seeds of their belief^ Neither their opinions, nor
the temper which was the outcome of their convictions, were
calculated to promote the smoothness of their early course. In
a country where Church interests permeate every act of policy,
they denied the necessity, even the expediency of a Church.
Among a people attached with devotion to their temples, images
and eikons, they professed the uselessness of all such external aids
to religious life. The crusty formulas cracked under their merci-
less logic ; and the grim earnestness with which these spiritual

1 Mliller-Simonis, Dii Caiicasc an Golfc Pc.rsi(]ite, Paris, 1892, p. 3.

- Letter of the Rev. Athelstan Riley to Daily Chronulc of London, August 1S97.

•' Maksimofif, Transcaitcasia, quoted by Radde in Pctcrvtaint''s Milth., 1896, p. 145.

■* See Count Tolstoy in the Times, October 23, 1895. I would also refer my
reader to a book published since this chapter was written, entitled Cliristian Mariyrdoiii
in Russia, edited by Vladimir Tchertkoff, with a chapter and letter by Leo Tolstoy,
London, 1897.



Gorelovka and Queen Lnkei'ia 103

combatants grappled with themselves and with society wore out
the patience or aroused the apathy of the State. Already in the
eighteenth century they suffered persecution ; and so bitter grew
the feeling against them, that in the early years of the nineteenth
century the Emperor Alexander I. settled them in the Tauric
province, in the neighbourhood of the Sea of Azov. But
Alexander was not the man to become the instrument of their
enemies, whose hostile instances provoked an Imperial rebuke.
It had been proposed that a further migration of the sect should
be required ; the ukase of 18 16 enacted that no such migration
should take place. The same edict recited the favourable
testimony to their character which had been received from the
official in whose district they lived, dwelt on the proved futility
of the measures previously taken against them, and proclaimed
that, far from meditating the repetition of any such measures, it
was the Imperial will that every unnecessary restriction should be
removed and that all annoyance of the sectaries should cease.
The humane, the wise policy of this enlightened ruler has not
been followed by his successors on the throne. Nicholas the
First expelled them to the Transcaucasian provinces, and they
are being persecuted at the present day. The principal emigra-
tions took place between 1841 and 1845. They were allotted
seats in the bleak country on the south of Akhalkalaki, whence
they have spread into the Government of Elizabetpol and into
the more recently acquired province of Kars. According to the
census of 1886 their numbers in their adopted country amounted
to 12,500 souls at that date.^

In the eyes of a philosopher the Dukhobortsy may appear to
practise pure religion, and to observe the spirit of the teaching of
Christ. Yet in the view of the majority of Christians their
doctrines would be deemed heretical and their religious usages
would be condemned. Such an attitude is the fruitful parent of
misrepresentation and calumny ; and the account of them which
we received from our itinerant preacher was not untinctured by
these defects. In justice to him one must remember that his
own services would be repudiated by these fellow-offenders with
him against the majesty of the Orthodox Church ; that neither a
Zaremba nor an Eli Smith would be welcomed by these simple

1 Tolstoy (the Times, loc. cit.) puts their present number at 20,000, I know not
upon what authority. The ofificial figures based on the lists of 1886 are : — Government
of Tiflis (Aklialkalaki and Borchali), 7263 ; Government of Elizabetpol, 2404 ; Govern-
ment of Kars, 2766; Government of Erivan, 15. Total, 12,448.



I04 Armenia

peasants and solicited to direct and elevate their spiritual life.
The imagination of the Oriental may have been coloured by the
prejudice of the Christian teacher ; yet I cannot doubt that the
tales which he told us about them were widely current in the
gossip of the countryside. According to Sembat, considerable
mystery surrounded the religion of these peasants, which he
himself had not sufficient knowledge to dispel. Pagan practices
were freely imputed to them ; and they were said to worship
images of birds and beasts. Whether they worshipped them, or
only regarded them as symbols, it was at least certain that they
were in the habit of making such images, and we could judge for
ourselves what purpose they served. And then he related to us
a portion of the story of Lukeria — half-goddess and half-queen.

September 5. — In the East mankind is usually a monotonous
animal, which you would scarcely notice, such is the majesty of
his natural surroundings, were it not for the needs which you
share in common with him, and which he most indifferently
supplies. It was therefore with expectations of no ordinary
character that we set out from Akhalkalaki to visit the Russian
colonies on the southern margin of the great plain. The direct
distance between the town and Gorelovka, the principal settlement,
is seventeen miles. The road, although it constitutes the avenue
of communication with Alexandropol, is little better than a track.
In places the carriage is jolted in a merciless manner by pro-
truding boulders, embedded in the soil. We started at half-past
two, on a course a little east of south ; the vastness of the expanse
and the billowing surface of the naked soil suggested the appear-
ance of the sea. But the horizon was outlined by the forms of
lofty ranges, encircling the floor of the plain. Banks of white
and grey cloud were suspended about their summits, while the
zenith was blue and the air crisp, yet full of sun.

At three o'clock we gained the margin of the Toporovan
river, a flash of water slowly flowing over the surface of the plain.
On the further bank a small Armenian village ; a little Tartar
settlement on this shore. We paused awhile, that we might
realise the features of the landscape, the same we had commanded
from the summit of Abul. On our left hand we were skirting
some stony hummocks, which flank the mass of Abul. That
broad-based mountain rose beyond them, closing the landscape in
the east. On our point of course, some eight miles distant, a
range of gentle vaulting stretched from east by south to west by



Gorelovka and Queen. L^ikeria 105

north. It may be identified with the outer framework of the
mountains which encircle Lake Chaldir. In the south-west we
discerned a break in the ranges, the distant passage of the Kur.
On our right the level plain ; and beyond it, at a long interval,
the lofty ridges which border the Kur on the left bank. Behind
us, from a second cleft or opening in the mountains, a long serrated
ridge, which belongs to the northern border ranges, and which
formed a striking feature in the prospect from Abul. This chain
and that in the west appeared to be the highest, except for the
nearer outline of Abul.

In another half- hour we had passed the track which leads
to Manzara, and were crossing the richest portion of the plain.
The deepness of the furrows in the black earth argued careful
cultivation ; the crops had already been gathered in. We were
now pursuing a rather more easterly direction, and could see a
gap in the outlines on our point of course. The hummocks still
followed us, at an interval of a couple of miles, and, beyond them,
the meridional range to which Abul belongs. But, on our right
hand, we now lost the open prospects ; low, rocky hills advanced
from the region of Lake Chaldir. It seemed a neck of the plain ;
for, further south, the view again opens, and the plain expands
anew, in the form of a gulf-like extension, towards the water-
parting between the Araxes and the Kur. It was evident that
we were reaching considerably higher levels, for the crops were
still standing, although ripe. The reapers were busy, gaily clad
Armenians, the women helping in the work. In the distance, at
the base of the eastern mountains, we saw a village, which was
inhabited by Armenian Catholics. The cereals consisted of oats,
from which they make bread, and a species of bearded wheat.
At half-past four we arrived at the first considerable village, which,
indeed, proved to consist of two villages, both of which adjoin the
road. The first is called Khojabek, and is inhabited by Armenians ;
it contains fifty houses, and possesses a church but no school.
The second, Bogdanovka, is a Russian settlement with eighty
houses, the first of those settlements which we were so anxious to
see.^ At this double village we crossed a stream which was said
to issue from Lake Chonchal, and which bears the same name as
the lake.

Bogdanovka is not a favourable specimen of its species. I
did not notice any appreciable contrast between the Russian and
1 x\ccoiding to the statistics of i8S6 it would contain 93 houses and 839 inhabitants.



io6 Ainjienia

the Armenian village ; it is indeed possible that they may have
mutually affected one another, not to the advantage of the Russian
settlement — in both cases rambling, stone-built tenements, and
flat roofs, topped with turf. Dirty little lanes, of uneven surface,
debouch upon the principal street. But the gait, the physiognomy
of the two races — what a remarkable contrast in this respect !
Large, lustrous, coal-black eyes : little, colourless pupils ; shapely
features, animate with expression : formless protuberances from
a massive, heavy skull. The ugliness of the women especially
appalled us, and we were impressed with the deliberate slouch of
the men's walk.

We had come a distance of i8 versts (12 miles). After
changing horses, we gained some rising ground on the further
side. From here we could see Lake Chonchal, with a village at
the foot of the rising ground on its opposite shore. In half an
hour we were at the tiny lake and village of Orlovka — a ragged-
looking place, of which a striking feature was the stacks of tczck
or dried manure. This was the second Russian village ; we were
disappointed. Gorelovka, the goal of our journey, was to come
next.

The range on our left still continued ; but on our right the
hills had receded, and were replaced by gently rising ground.
Patches of arable land mounted the slopes about us, suggesting
that the rising tide of reclamation was flowing into these remote
solitudes. We noticed that the soil had become more turf-like
and fibrous in character ; we thought it well adapted to potato
culture, but not a field of potatoes could we see. These uplands
provide good pasture during summer and sweet hay for the long
winter month.s. It was a landscape of open downs at a great
elevation ; we had reached a height of some 7000 feet. Such
are the bleak surroundings of Gorelovka. We were chilled to the
bones when we arrived at half-past six.

The impression which we had received at the two smaller
villages was quickly dispelled by our new surroundings. Great
was our pleasure when we recognised that the high opinion of
Colonel Tarasoff was amply justified by those to whom it
applied. It is true that these sectaries are the flower of the
peasantry in Russia ; but that peasantry is none the less
honoured by what they have achieved.

Gorelovka is the largest village in the district ; it contains



Gorelovka and Qtieeji Lttkeria 107

150 houses and a population of some 1500 souls. The
inhabitants said it was fifty-two years since they came hither
from Russia, and were allotted lands. Each house pays fifteen
roubles (about thirty shillings) annually to the State for the rent
of their lands. Snow lies on the ground for about eight months
in the year, and, like the Armenians, they heat their houses with
tezek fuel, or cakes of dried manure. I admired their ploughs
and spacious waggons ; they are their own handiwork. You do
not see such ploughs and waggons among their neighbours —
Armenians, Tartars and Turks. On the other hand, they have
not improved upon the usual threshing implements — the flat
beams encrusted with sharp stones. They said they had found
this method in use in the country, and that it satisfied their
needs. Their markets are Alexandropol and Akhalkalaki.
Cereals struggle for existence at this altitude ; yet the patches of
plough and stubble, spread upon the hillsides, climb higher every
year.^ It is pleasant to watch the waggons, loaded with hay,
winding homewards over the springy turf

A Dukhobortsy village is not built into the earth, like the
burrows of the Armenians and the Kurds. The Russians cheat
the climate by the additional thickness which they put into their
solid stone walls. Their dwellings are low, one-storeyed houses ;
the masonry is covered over with plaster, which receives several
coats of whitewash. A long street traverses the village — straight,
broad and well maintained ; the houses are aligned upon it at
intervals. The roofs are almost flat, and consist of stout beams,
supporting a superstructure of earth and sods of turf The
chimneys are mere apertures in the roof, protected by little
wooden hoods. We found the interiors clean and comfortable ;
the wooden ceilings are neatly mitred, and the walls are dis-
tempered white. The deep embrasures of the windows testify to
the thickness of the walls. In some of the Russian settlements,
through which we passed later, the people had adorned their
homes with gay shutters and combings of fretwork design ; in.
Gorelovka no work of fancy adorns the dwellings of the peasants,

1 Kocli speaks of the surprise with which he saw rye being harvested in the country
north of Erzerum at an altitude of at least 7500 feet (Reise im pontischen Gebirge,
Weimar, 1846, p. 267). Telfer {Crimea and Transcaucasia, London, 1876, vol. i. p. 278)
quotes from reports issued by the Tiflis Observatory which establish the following; limits
for the Southern Caucasus: — Barley, 8100 feet; corn, 7906 feet; wheat, 7400 feet;
vine, 3500 feet. Kadde estimates that on the northern slopes of Alagoz corn ripens at
8300 feet {Pefcniiann's Mitlh., 1876, p. 147).



io8 Armenia

and they have lavished all their skill in wood-carving upon the
residence of their queen.

The inhabitants are tall and powerfully built, and, although
they are bronzed in complexion almost beyond recognition, the
fair hair bears witness to their northern origin. Their limbs are
loosely put together, so that, apart from the difference of their
dress and demeanour, they present a strong contrast to the
neatly- made natives of the country, by reason of their lofty
stature and the unbuckled slouch of their walk. The features are
irregular, the eyes small, and the countenance is wanting in anima-
tion, in the case of both women and men. The dress of the men
consists of dark blue trousers and jacket and a peaked military
cap ; this costume gives them the appearance of old soldiers, and
all seem to shave the beard. The women wear very clean
cotton dresses of showy patterns and bright hues.

Next morning, according to arrangement, we were to visit, in
company with our host, Alexei Zupkoff, the venerable starsJiina,
or head of the village, the residence and garden of the queen.
The brother of the queen joined our party — Michael Vasilievich
Ghubanoff, the same of whom Count Tolstoy speaks. We passed
down the long, straight street of the village, the spacious intervals
between the white houses opening to the breezy downs. Enter-
ing an enclosure, we found ourselves in a delightful flower-garden,
among trees and thick rose-bushes, allowed to spread in freedom,
and only saved from rankness and riot by the loving hand of
man. How strange, after our wanderings among peoples whose
material standards hover on the extreme margin where life is just
possible and no more, appeared to us the sight of these garden
flowers and the scent of the double rose. A low one-storeyed
building faces the garden on two sides ; the one wing contains
the chapel [and reception room, the other the private apartments
in which the' queen used to live. Passing within the doorway, we
stood in a little hall from which rooms opened, one on either side.
Both apartments are spacious, and their size was enhanced by
the complete absence of furniture. Large stone stoves are built
into the rooms, and form the most prominent feature in them ;
these stoves are usual in all the houses, but in this house they
are decorated with a scroll of stone carving, which is not the case
elsewhere. The ceilings are low, and the walls are so thick that
the windows have the appearance of fortress embrasures, with
their deep cavernous sills. The two large rooms on either side



Gorelovka and Qtieen Lukeria 109

of the hall were formerly devoted, the one to prayer meetings and
the other to social gatherings ; but it was evddent that they were
not in use at the time of my visit, and I was told that assemblies
in this house had been interdicted by Government, on account of
the fresh outbreak of fanaticism which was apprehended should
the people come together beneath the roof of their former
queen.

The general arrangement and appearance of the chapel or
apartment in which they used to meet for prayer is this — the
low ceiling is composed of narrow pine planks, the surface being
relieved by delicate wood headings along the seams where plank
meets plank. The large pier of the stove projects boldly into it
from the side of the door. The walls of such rooms are in
general covered with a neat paper of common Russian pattern,
and the floors are either painted a reddish colour, or the boards
are left natural, and stopped, and scrubbed daily, like the deck
of a yacht. Round this particular apartment there runs a low
bench ; this is the only sitting-place. Large pots of flowers,
carefully pruned and tended, bloomed in the deep embrasures
of the windows, and broke the light, diffused about the sober
apartment in a warm and regular glow. In that part of the



Online LibraryH. F. B. (Harry Finnis Blosse) LynchArmenia, travels and studies (Volume 1) → online text (page 12 of 49)