Volume 2 Page 263


[The Pioneer, Allahabad, January 20, 1880]


Sir,—The London Economist of a recent date, in an article headed “What England has inflicted upon India,” and copied in most of the local papers, has the following:— “The salt of life is taken out of the mass, and an ambitious Indian lad, full of half-developed power, is in a more hopeless position than an Armenian under St. Petersburg, or an Algerian under Paris.” Having on general principles, but little love for politics, perhaps because physiologically unfit to understand, and therefore appreciate, the wonderful scheme which goes under the name—I have nothing to say as to the remark about the “Algerian under Paris.” My ideas of the “Algerian” being vaguely associated with the pastilles de Sérial, sold by these free sons of the boundless deserts, in the Parisian street corners, the protest may be


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taken up by a Frenchman, if he chooses. But, though an American citizen, and entirely divorced from Russia’s paternal sway over my own person, besides being a born Russian, I am yet one of those who, by the very combativeness of their nature, feel compelled to give even “the devil his due,” though the devil be the Muscovite Government, whenever unjustly attacked. And the imputation of the Economist as to the hopeless position of the “Armenian under St. Petersburg” is as unjust as it is foolish, liable, as it is, to such an easy refutation. Surely the Editor of the London Magazine, who has allowed this remark to be published, must either have forgotten, or never knew, the fact that the late Commander-in-Chief of the expeditionary army now in Central Asia was an “Armenian”; that General Tergukasoff, one of the heroes of the late war in Asiatic Turkey, and who has just replaced the defunct Lazareff, is an “Armenian”; that General Loris-Melikoff, just created a “count” for valiant service in Kars and elsewhere, is another “Armenian,” without one drop of European blood in any of them; that the army, as well as the Civil Service in the Caucasus, have been from the first days of Russia’s sway over the country full of Armenian, Georgian, and even Mussulman colonels, generals, commanders, and other high Government officials; that the greatest Caucasian heroes were nearly all either Armenians, Georgians, or Tatars, such as the Prince Bebutoff (who acted during the Crimean War as Viceroy in the Caucasus), the several Melikoffs, the Tarhanoffs, the Orbeliani, the Bagrations, the Chan Adil’-Guirey, and so many others, that finally, in the “Mohammedan regiments,” out of which the splendid body of men known as the “Czar’s Mussulman Bodyguard” is chosen, from the lowest soldier up to the highest General, they are all Mohammedans. Doubtless the recent suffix of the “off” in Tergukasoffs and some other Armenian names led the Economist into such an unconscious blunder. In view of the present development it will not be without a certain interest to your readers to learn, as something worthy of note, that among the “Guy Fawkes” band of Nihilists and their sentenced criminals, we have not hitherto met


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with a single Armenian, Georgian, or Mussulman name. The “Asiastics” have, in fact, proved the most loyal among the subjects of the Czar.*


* [Some information concerning the various individuals referred to by H.P.B. may be of interest to the reader.
Lieutenant-General Arzas Artelyevich Tergukasoff (1819-81) was in 1859 Commander of the Apsheron Infantry Regiment; he took part in the storming of Gunib; in 1868, he administered the Province of Tersk; in 1869, he commanded the 38th Infantry Division. At the start of the Turkish war, he was appointed Commander of the Erivan’ contingent; in 1877, he occupied Bajaset and Alashkert, and in 1879 was appointed Commander of the 2nd Caucasian Corps.
The Bebutoffs were a Princely family descended from Ashhar-Bek, an Armenian who was melik or city-commandant of Tiflis in the reign of the Georgian King Teymuraz II. Prince Vassiliy Ossipovich Bebutoff (1791-1858) was General of Infantry, Member of the State Council and a well-known military and civil figure.
The Princes Tarhanoff-Muravyeff were an Armenian family descended from a certain Saakadze (meaning “son of Isaac”). The Shah of Persia granted George Saakadze a princely title and a hereditary tarhanship; the latter is a Mongolian word which means free from taxation, of noble birth, as well as, artist and man skilled in some trade. One of the members of this family was Ivan Romanovich Tarhanoff, a well-known Russian physiologist of the 19th century.
The Princes Orbeliani, or Djambakurian-Orbelian, were of a princely family which, according to tradition, came from China and settled in Georgia some 600 years B.C. They became hereditary commanders-in-chief of the Georgian armed forces, and placed the crown on the head of the Kings during coronation ceremonies. Prince George Dimitriyevich Orbeliani (1800-83) was a General-of-Infantry and member of the State Council.
The Princes Bagration were one of the oldest and most renowned families of Georgia, which produced through the centuries several of the Armenian and Georgian Kings. It originated from Athanasius Bagratid, whose son, Ashod Kuropalat (d. 826), was King of Georgia.
Adil’-Guirey ruled over the tribe of the Kumiks and became in 1718 a subject of Russia. When he had become Shamhal of Tarkov, he transferred his possessions to Russia. Later on, however, urged by the Turks to do so, he attacked Russia in 1725; he was annihilated by Kropotoff, and died in prison at Kola.


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The Lazareff mentioned by H.P.B. is most likely Lieutenant-General Ivan Danilovich (1821-79), a descendant from the beks of Karabag; he was very active during the Turkish war of 1877-78.
Count Michael Tarielovich Loris-Melikoff (1826-88) was the son of an Armenian merchant; he was born at Tiflis, Caucasus, on Jan. 1st, 1826, and educated in St. Petersburg, first in the Lazareff School of Oriental Languages, and later in the Guard’s Cadet Institute. After joining a Hussar regiment, he was sent in 1847 to the Caucasus, where he stayed for twenty years. From 1855 to 1876, he was Governor of the Terek district, endeavoring to educate the people, so as to make possible the transition from military to civil government. During the Turkish war of 1877-78, he commanded a separate army corps in Asia Minor. He took the fortresses of Ardahan and Kars, and laid seige to Erzerum. He was granted the title of Count for these services. In 1879 he was appointed temporary governor-general of the Lower Volga region, to combat an outbreak of the plague. He was later transferred to the provinces of Central Russia to combat the Nihilists and Anarchists, who had assassinated the governor of Kharkov. Loris-Melikoff advocated removing the causes of the growing popular discontent, and for this purpose recommended to Emperor Alexander II a large scheme of administrative and economic reforms. The Emperor appointed him minister of the interior with exceptional powers. The proposed scheme of reforms was, however, never carried out. On the very day, March 13, 1881, when the Emperor signed an ukaz creating the necessary commissions, he was assassinated, and his successor, Alexander III, adopted a reactionary policy. Loris-Melikoff resigned, and lived in retirement at Nice, France, where he died Dec. 22, 1888.—Compiler.]