LETTERS FROM ARMENIA
LETTER No. X.
A MORNING WITH MISS SHATTUCK AT OURFA.
May 6, 1896.
DEAR FRIEND H. S. NEWMAN, — At this time of distress and emergency
in Armenia, it is wonderful what a work God is giving to American missionaries,
and especially to the lady missionaries, to do. At Van all know of Dr. Grace
Kimball and her noble and successful work. That of Miss Shattuck at Ourfa
is perhaps less known, but not less heroic. She was the one help and hope
of the Christian population during the massacres (her own life at one crisis
being in great danger); and ever since, her house, with the mission premises
and the adjoining large Protestant church, has been the centre of distribution
of the charity which has flowed hither from America and England, as also from
the Armenians themselves. The mission premises surround a large courtyard,
and when I arrived there this morning on a brief errand, as I supposed, I
found a busy scene. Here are a group of Armenians waiting to state their various
needs. Here are two native women who are employed as Bible-readers. They also
gather the donations from the poor people among whom they visit, so freely
given for those poorer still. Some of these are not able to give more than
value of the well-known widow’s mite, while others give good sums, and brides the gold coins from their dowry-strings, while last night a pair of chased gold earrings were brought in. These Bible-women, by-the-bye, find those they go to so hungry for Bible comfort, that instead of the twos and threes, as is usual, coming together, the women are crowding by the hundred, and yesterday one of the Bible-women told Miss Shattuck that in one house -and courtyard alone there were as many as three hundred. As Miss S. is afraid of this attracting too much attention, she has told them not to allow such large gatherings. How different this thirst for the Gospel is to the state of things in many favoured English towns, and how it shows that God is even now bringing good out of evil.
Near these groups are a band of children, mostly orphan, and, standing a little aloof, two Turkish soldiers, who are the immediate guards of the establishment (there being twenty others a little further off); some of these go with us when we go out, and seem to take a real interest in what is going on.
Mounting the out-door stairs to the verandah, upon which open Miss Shattuck’s private rooms, and entering, I find her seated amidst her Armenian Relief Committee, seven earnest, good, and reliable men of responsible positions in the town, and she is manifestly their leader and guide in all their work. Every day they thus sit in council, and consider every case of need separately, and then scatter to carry out the blessed work upon which they are engaged.
Just now, as I enter, they are considering how to send
some orphans to Smyrna, for whom the good German deaconesses there are ready
to provide. They have also a letter from Mrs. Dobrashian of Constantinople,
concerning her taking some more of these parentless little ones under her
care, and the whole matter is carefully considered. Miss Shattuck and the
committee receive numerous personal appeals daily, and she had a number of
these translated to me this morning, from an appeal for a donkey from a pedlar
now recovered from his wounds, who declares he is too weak for any other work,
to a request to be made whole by a dying woman who thinks the committee have
all power. Most of the cases are, however, from widows with children whose
husbands were killed. This committee work takes about an hour. Then comes
looking at needle-work, for in one of the mission rooms are many girls engaged
embroidering felt, for mats and other purposes, in hope of an English market.
In the church are great heaps of wool being prepared for making up into beds
for the poor. This is of course cleared out every Sunday, when the church
is crowded with worshippers, holding about 2000 people. One of the visitors
to Miss Shattuck this morning was an Armenian gentleman who had supplied her
with money before help could come from Europe, and she was returning what
had been lent by him. His life had been saved by two Turkish neighbours, whose
wives called on Miss Shattuck when I was present yesterday. It is needless
to say that social intercourse with the Turks on such a basis is one of the
bright spots in this dark picture, which are happily not wanting to relieve
it in every place.
After these items of business Miss Shattuck and I, accompanied by our guard
and some of the Relief Committee, went to inspect an Armenian house, kindly
lent free of cost for two months, to receive orphans, until further arrangements
can be made. It has been terribly battered about, and, indeed, we have not
been in one Armenian house yet which does not show marks of violence; but,
in spite of injury, it is a fine old house, evidently belonging, to a family
or families (since life is on the patriarchal basis here) of the better class.
Carved marble pillars and beautifully carved woodwork on doors and shutters
showed the refinement of its late occupants. The owner was with us, and told
us that twenty-one of his kith and kin who had lived there with him had been
killed in the massacre. Twenty-one ! Just think of the desolation of his hearth
and home! and of the nobility and charity of nature that could take joy in
giving the scene of former happy family life to shelter the orphan children
of his people. After Miss Shattuck and her helpers had decided what had to
be done to put the house in order, we next proceeded to the little infirmary
where the few wounded people who have neither recovered nor died yet remain.
Here is a man with a great sword-gash across his face cutting the nose in
two, another shot through the lungs, another with one hand off and the other
wounded, &c. Miss Shattuck gives kind words and sympathising looks to
each, and as she is so occupied it becomes known that she is here, and women
crowd into the outer court, each with her own hope for a word and a promise
from their one friend.
Here let me leave her surrounded by the needy people she loves — utterly self-forgetful and apparently incapable of fatigue, a woman full of the deepest sympathy and tenderness, and yet, as Mr. Fitzmaurice, the British Vice-Consul, said of her, possessing the most level head of any one far and near. — Sincerely thy friend,
HELEN B. HARRIS.
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
J. Rendel Harris & B. Helen Harris. Letters from the Scenes of
the Recent Massacres in Armenia. London, James Nisbet & Co.,