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Saturday, December 07, 2013

Kasab Taburu (Butcher Brigade) Part Thirteen

     "{Leslie} Davis learned that because the Muslims considered 'the clothes taken from a dead body to be defiled,' all the Armenians were forced to strip before being killed, and Davis describes 'gaping bayonet wounds on most of the bodies.'  Because bullets were so precious, it was 'cheaper to kill with bayonets and knives.'  Davis was also shocked to find that, as he put it, 'nearly all of the women lay flat on their backs and showed signs of barbarous mutilation by bayonets of the gendarmes, these wounds having been inflicted in many cases probably after the women were dead.'  The bodies, they learned, were of Armenians who had been marched there from distant places.  In other parts of Turkey, the same methods of massacre by butchery were occuring because the Turks didn't want to waste ammunition.  In Ankara and its surroundings, only a couple of hundred miles east of Constantanople, the killing was done with 'axes, cleavers, shovels, and pitchforks,' Krikoris Balakian wrote.  It was like a slaughter-house;  Armenians were hacked to pieces, and the killing squads mixed with townspeople 'dashed infants on the rocks' before the eyes of their mothers.  The carnage around Ankara was so horrible that Talaat Pasha ordered more than forty thousand corpses to be quickly buried in mass graves, but the stench of death and the mounds of bodies overwhelmed the landscape.
       South of Harput, Davis and his companion left the lake, travelling through the village of Keghvenk, and again the stench of rotting corpses overwhelmed them.  'We could smell the dead bodies,' Davis wrote, but 'as it was getting late and we had already seen so many, we did not feel like going even that distance out of our way to see any more.'  But as they rode from Keghvenk back to Mezre, they saw thousands of corpses half buried, and later Davis learned that many of them were the men who had been imprisoned before the deportation.  Within ten miles of Mezre they saw the remains of Armenian camps where thousands had been held before they were massacred.  Arriving home at about nine o'clock in the evening, Davis wrote:  'I felt that I understood better than ever what the "deportation" of the Armenians really meant.  I felt also that I had not been wrong in speaking of Mamouret ul-Aziz. . . as the "Slaughter-house Vilayet" of Turkey.'
       A few weeks later Davis made another trip to Lake Goeeljuek.  This time he and Dr. Atkinson went by themselves.  Leaving at about three o'clock in the morning one day in late October, Davis was eager to see the other side of the lake and get a fuller picture of the area.  On the east side of the lake, they found many bodies of Armenians who had recently been killed, most likely the inhabitants of the village of Goeeljuek, which they found 'absolutely deserted, except for a few hungry cats which were prowling around among the ruins of the houses.'
       Again the scenes of death were everywhere.  In one of the most remote places along the lake, Davis and Atkinson saw hundreds of bodies piled on top of one another on the beach.  They lay 'within a space not more than two or three hundred feet in length and hardly a quarter that distance in width.'  It was at the outlet of a steep small ravine leading to the lake, and as they rode down the hill they were shocked at how people could be brought to such a place.  Then they saw that almost all of them were women and children who had been recently killed.  'We noticed bayonet wounds on many of them. . . . .One woman,' Davis observed, 'on the edge of the pile lay flat on her breast with the head of her little baby protruding from under her body.  All of the bodies were naked,' he went on, 'and many of them showed signs of the brutal mutilation which the gendarmes inflicted upon so many of the women and girls whom they killed.'
       In late July 1915, {Jesse} Jackson reported that as the temperature ran somewhere between 105 and 115 degrees, 'a group of more than 1,000 women and children from Harput was being conducted southward near Veren then turned over to a band of Kurdish chetes who abducted 'the best looking women, girls and children, killing those who put up the most resistance,'  and beat and stripped the rest of the women, Jackson went on, 'thereby forcing them to continue the rest of the journey in a nude condition.'  About three hundred of these women arrived in Aleppo days later 'entirely naked, their hair flowing in the air like wild beasts,' having traveled 'afoot in the burning sun.'  Some of these women came to the consulate, and Jackson recorded that their bodies were 'burned to the color of a green olive, the skin peeling off in great blotches, and many of them carrying gashes on the head and wounds on the body as a result of the terrible beatings.'
       These scenes kept passing before Jackson's eyes, and only weeks later he described what he called 'one of the most terrible sights ever seen in Aleppo,' the arrival of 'some 5,000 terribly emaciated, dirty, ragged and sick women and children, 3,000 on one day and 2,000 the following day.'  They were the only survivors, Jackson reported, of what he termed 'the thrifty and well to do Armenian population of the province of Sivas,'  where the Armenian population had been 'over 300,000 souls.'  They told Jackson that they had travelled about a thousand miles on foot since before Easter, and thousands of the women had been carried off into harems, or raped, robbed, and left naked.
       What Jackson saw was the remnant of women who survived the kind of sexual violence that Aurora Mardignian described in her survival narrative, Ravished Armenia.    Mardignian, from a wealthy banking family in Chemeshgezek, a town north of Harput, was one of thousands of young Armenian girls raped and thrown into harems.  Her descriptions of sexual violence confirm and go even beyond what Jackson saw and heard.  Having been in a house full of Armenian girls who were raped and then killed by Turkish soldiers, she escaped and before long found herself with about four hundred young men and women who agreed to convert to Islam to save their lives.  After they had converted, the gendarmes robbed them all, stripped the women and raped them in front of their husbands, who were tied up and forced to watch before they were killed.  Then, the surviving women were marched to Malatian, south of Mezre near the Euphrates.  Approaching the city of Malatia, they found the wells stuffed with the corpses of dead women, and as they entered the city, they saw sixteen girls crucified on wooden crosses, vultures eating their corpses.  'Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross, spikes through her feet and hands,'  Mardiganian wrote, 'only their hair blown by the wind, covered their bodies.'
       In Aleppo too, the city was becoming overwhelmed by corpses and famine-ravaged refugees.  By the fall a typhus epidemic had broken out in the city and the surrounding towns and villages, and the entire place resembled something from the Black Plague.  'The number that succumbed in the city was so great,' Jackson wrote, 'that the sanitary authorities could not cope with the situation, and the military authorities provided huge ox-carts into which the dead bodies were thrown, 10 to 12 in each cart, and the procession of 7 or 8 carts would proceed to the nearby cemetery with their gruesome loads of ghastly uncovered corpses, usually nude, with the heads, legs and arms dangling from the sides and ends of the open carts.'  At the cemetery,  the gendarmes dumped the bodies into trenches that had been dug for the purpose.  For months the procession of death carts passed in front of the consulate.  Several of Jackson's closest friends and members of the consular staff died in the epidemic, and, as he wrote, his own survival seemed 'almost a miracle.'
       Because of his strategic location on the line of the deportation marches, Jackson quickly became a receiving station for reports on the atrocities in the region, and he informed Morgenthau that reigns of terror had begun in Diyarbekir and Urfa, and that the gendarmerie was now 'searching the houses of the Armenians for weapons, and not finding any.'  In Urfa (the site of massacre and the burning of the cathedral in 1895-96), the gendarmes told the bishop of the city that unless weapons were produced, 'the entire Armenian population' of Urfa would suffer the fate of Zeitun, where everybody had been massacred or deported in early April.  What Jackson emphasized to Morgenthau was that 'the people here [Urfa] have always been loyal to the Government and have never resisted;  not even when they were butchered like sheep.  Why the local Government persists in persecuting a population that has always had a good record for loyalty is very strange.'
       In the terrible heat of August, writing again to Morgenthau (who was at his summer quarters on the Bosporus) , Jackson enclosed a letter he had just received form the Reverend F.H. Leslie.  In the chaos of the deportations and massacres in the Urfa region, Reverend Leslie had just been made the American consular agent for the entire district of Urfa.

               My dear Consul Jackson:
                 . . . For six weeks we have witnessed the most terrible cruelties inflicted
                 upon the thousands of Christian exiles who have been daily passing through
                 our city from the northern cities.  All tell the same story and bear the
                  same scars:  their men were all killed on the first days march from their
                   cities, after which the women and girls were constantly robbed of
                  their money, bedding, clothing, and beated, criminally abused and abduct-
                   ed. . . . Their guards forced them to pay even for drinking from the
                  springs along the way and were their worst abusers but also allowed the
                   baser element in every village through which they passed to abduct the
                    girls and women and abuse them.  We not only were told these things
                    but the same things occured right here in our own city before our very
                    eyes and openly on the streets.  The poor weak women and children died
                     by thousands along the roads and in the khan where they were confined
                     here.  There must be not less than five hundred abducted now in the
                     homes of the Moslems of this city and as many more have been sexually
                     abused and turned out on the streets again.
       Desperate and fearing total annihilation for the Armenians, Reverend Leslie begged Jackson to send him his own vice-consul, Samuel Edelman, to help.  'I cannot handle this work nor remain here much longer,' Leslie pleaded.  Not long after, the American pastor was imprisoned for aiding the Armenians.  Already mentally broken from what he had witnessed, he was now tortured in prison, and he committed suicide there.  Later Jackson was able to get Leslie's wife and child out of the country."  The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian pgs. 245-46 and 253-55. 

Sunday, December 01, 2013

The Fifth Column: Why Popes Make Lousy Economists

The Fifth Column: Why Popes Make Lousy Economists

Limbaugh Jumps Shark

        Ludwig Wittgenstein gave us the memorable admonition to speak not about that which we know nothing of.  Papa Bergoglio has a new encyclical which condemns unfettered capitalism.  Not to be unavailed of an opportunity to be reactive, Rush Limbaugh excoriates the pontiff on not knowing anything about economics.  Now, not having read the encyclical itself (past offerings, such as that of John XXIII, are indeed hostile to capitalism), one might well ask where Rush Limbaugh's PhD in Economics is from?  Is it from the Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Thought?  Here's a news flash.  There is no Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Thought.  There's only a rotund high school graduate who makes beaucoup dinero offering up other people's thinking as if it were his own.  And a rotund high school graduate with a Vicodin problem, at that.  Perhaps Pope Francis is talking about something he knows nothing about.  If he is, then he is only one of many guilty of the same failing.  At least the Pontiff doesn't perpetually refer to an educational institution of his own imagining. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

More Craft Than Kindness

        John Trenchard, and especially Thomas Gordon, were very anti-Catholic writers.  But their Cato's Letters are an interesting example of Whig writing from the elegant eighteenth.  The following is from Cato's Letters #62.

       Idiots and lunaticks indeed, who cannot take care of themselves, must be taken care of by others:  But whilst men have their five senses, I cannot see what the magistrate has to do with actions by which the society cannot be affected;  and where he meddles with such, he meddles impertinently or tyrannically.  Must the magistrate tie up every man's legs, because some men fall into ditches?  Or, must he put out their eyes, because with them they see lying vanities?  Or, would it become the wisdom and care of governors to establish a travelling society, to prevent people, by a proper confinement, from throwing themselves into wells, or over precipices;  or to endow a fraternity of physicians and surgeons all over the nation, to take care of their subjects' health, without being consulted;  and to vomit, bleed, purge, and scarify them at pleasure, whether they would or no, just as these established judges of health should think fit?  If this were the case, what a stir and hubbub should we soon see kept about the established potions and lancets?  Every man, woman, or child, though ever so healthy, must be a patient, or woe be to them!  The best diet and medicines would soon grow pernicious from any other hand;  and their pills alone, however ridiculous, insufficient, or distasteful, would be attended with a blessing.
       Let people alone, and they will take care of themselves, and do it best;  and if they do not, a sufficient punishment will follow their neglect, without the magistrate's interposition and penalties.  It is plain, that such busy care and officious intrusion into the personal affairs, or private actions, thoughts, and imaginations of men, has in it more craft than kindness;  and is only a device to mislead people, and pick their pockets, under the false pretence of the publick and their private good.  To quarrel with any man for his opinions, humours, or the fashion of his clothes, is an offense taken without being given.  What is it to a magistrate how I wash my hands, or cut my corns;  what fashion or colours I wear, or what notions I entertain, or what gestures I use, or what words I pronounce, when they please me, and do him and my neighbour no hurt?  As well may he determine the colour of my hair, and control my shape and features.
       True and impartial liberty is therefore the right of every man to pursue the natural, reasonable, and religious dictates of his own mind;  to think what he will, and act as he thinks, provided he acts not to the prejudice of another;  to spend his own money himself, and lay out the produce of his labour his own way;  and to labour for his own pleasure and profit, and not for others who are idle, and would live and riot by pillaging and oppressing him, and those that are like him.
        So that civil government is only a partial restraint put by the laws of agreement and society upon natural and absolute liberty, which might otherwise grow licentious:  And tyranny is an unlimited restraint put upon natural liberty, by the will of one or a few.  Magistracy, amongst a free people, is the exercise of power for the sake of the people;  and tyrants abuse the people, for the sake of power.  Free government is the protecting the people in their liberty by stated rules:  Tyranny is a brutish struggle for unlimited liberty to one or a few, who would rob all others of their liberty, and act by no rule but lawless lust.

Making It Personal

        Many northern abolitionists were reluctantly willing to cooperate with the United States government that allowed southern states to practice slavery.  That is, before the Fugitive Slave Act came along in the 1850s, and meant that even those for whom slavery was an obnoxious evil, returning escaped slaves to their owners was now a legal necessity.  In other words, it was then a legal duty to assist slavery.
       Similarly, many pro-lifers had been living an uneasy truce with the U.S. government between 1973 and the present, assisted by the Hyde Amendment, which prohibited Medicaid from funding abortion.  These people were personally uninvolved in abortion, and were thus individually blameless from the legalization of abortion.  The HHS mandate of Obamacare has changed this.  And, in the same way the Fugitive Slave Act made abolitionists criminals if they refused to return slaves, Obamacare makes pro-lifers finance abortion.  Could slavery have existed many more decades had the Fugitive Slave Act not required people to violate their consciences?  Perhaps it might have.  But one thing is certain.  Either Obamacare will smear the blood on everyones' hands, and thus make everyone an accomplice to abortion, or it will serve to galvanize opposition to a practice that, had this step not been taken, may have existed without the same revulsion.  Either the liberals win, and everybody accepts abortion and infanticide, or we enter an even more acrimonious chapter in the culture war.

Thursday, November 07, 2013


        Loopholes are often used to do that which ordinarily incurs legal or moral opprobrium.  The zombie loophole is a liberal fantasy in which the usual opprobrium attached to the taking of human life is detached by the rationale of "they're not really alive."  (See also, any NARAL argument for abortion.)  So liberals love zombies, because they can be dispatched with a shotgun blast to the head with nary a guilt feeling.  And liberals also love comparing conservatives to zombies.  During the 2012 campaign, Obama surrogates dropped zombie comparisons with Romney supporters.  (Point of fact, Romney was a wolfman, not a zombie.)  Now, Toure (yes, the hombre con un nombre strikes again) compared TEA partiers to zombies.  Now, one might say this is only a case of someone remarking on their resiliency.  Estase thinks it is more like a tacit justification for eventually murdering them.  Remember the 90s film The Last Supper,where the plot was that conservatives are so awful, sending them to the shades was the only remedy.  For every French Revolution, you have to have a September Massacres.

Update:  More signs that liberals would like to kill us.  Item, Ed Schultz refers to the lovely and chaste Laura Ingraham as "that right-wing slut, Laura Ingraham."  Item, Martin Bashir says Sarah Palin deserves scourging and having feces put in her mouth.  The Septembrists are not far off.  Get at me dawg!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Seen recently on a box:
"M. Holland--The Gold Standard in Plastics"
       Which reminds me of another contradiction.  The week after Pope Francis basically said the Rosary wasn't "really" praying, I see the local Catholic bookstore selling a Pope Francis rosary.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

What Happens In Bath, Stays In Bath

"To a person who does not thus calmly trace things to their source, nothing will appear more strange, than how the healthy could ever consent to follow the sick to those places of spleen, and live with those whose disorders are ever apt to excite a gloom in the spectator.  The truth is, the gaming-table was properly the salutary font to which such numbers flocked.  Gaming will ever be the pleasure of the rich, while men continue to be men;  while they fancy more happiness is being possessed of what they want, than they experience pleasure in the fruition of what they have.  The wealthy only stake those riches which give no real content, for an expectation of riches in which they hope for satisfaction.  By this calculation, they cannot lose happiness, as they begin with none;  and they hope to gain it, by being possessed of something they have not had already. 
        Probably upon this principle, and by the arrival of Queen Anne there, for her health, about the year 1703, the city of Bath became in some measure frequented  by people of distinction.  The company was numerous enough to form a country-dance upon the bowling-green:  they were amused with a fiddle and hautboy, and diverted with the romantic walks round the city.  They usually sauntered in the weather in the grove, between two rows of sycamore-trees.  Several learned physicians, Dr. Jorden and others, had even then praised the salubrity of the wells, and the amusements were put under the direction of a master of the ceremonies.
          His {Richard Nash} first care when made Master of the Ceremonies, or King of Bath, as it is called, was to promote a music subscription of one guinea each, for a band, which was to consist of six performers, who were to receive a guinea a week each for their trouble.  He allowed also two guineas a week for lighting and sweeping the rooms;  for which he accounted to the subscribers by receipt.
         The pump-house was immediately put under the care of an officer, by the name of the pumper;  for which he paid the corporation an annual rent.  A row of new houses was begun on the south side of the gravel-walks, before which a handsome pavement was then made for the company to walk on.  Not less than seventeen or eighteen hundred pounds were raised this year and in the beginning of 1706 by subscription, and laid out in repairing the roads near the city.  The streets began to be better paved, cleaned, and lighted;  the licences of the chairmen were repressed, and by an Act of Parliament procured on this occasion, the invalids, who came to drink or bathe, were exempted from all manner of toil, as often as they should go out of the city for recreation.
         The houses and streets now began to improve, and ornaments were lavished upon them even to profusion.  But in the midst of this splendour, the company still were obliged to assemble in a booth to drink tea and chocolate, or to game.  Mr. Nash undertook to remedy this inconvenience, and by his direction, one Thomas Harrison erected a handsome assembly-house for these purposes.  A better band of music was also procured, and the former subscription of one guinea was raised to two.  Harrison had three guineas a week for the room and candles, and the music two guineas a man.  The money Mr. Nash received and accounted for with the utmost exactness and punctuality.  To this house were also added gardens for people of rank and fashion to walk in;  and the beauty of the suburbs continued to increase, notwithstanding the opposition that was made by the corporation;  who at that time looked upon every useful improvement, particularly without the walls, as dangerous to the inhabitants within.
        His dominion was now extensive and secure, and he determined to support it with the strictest attention.  But in order to proceed in everything like a King, he was resolved to give his subjects a law, and the following Rules were accordingly put up in the pump-room:--
       1)That a visit of ceremony at first coming, and another at going away, are all that is expected or desired by ladies of quality and fashion, --except impertinents.
        2)That ladies coming to the ball appoint a time for their footmen coming to wait on them home, to prevent disturbances and inconveniences to themselves and others.
        3)That gentlemen of fashion never appearing in a morning before the ladies in gowns and caps, show breeding and respect.
        4)That no person take it ill that any one goes to another's play or breakfast, and not theirs;  except captious by nature.
        5)That no gentlemen give his ticket for the balls to any but gentlewomen.--N.B. Unless he has none of his acquaintance.
        6)That gentlemen crowding before the ladies at the ball, show ill-manners;  and that none do so for the future, --except such as respect nobody but themselves.
         7)That no gentleman or lady take it ill that another dances before them;--except such as have no pretence to dance at all.
         8)That the elder ladies and children be content with a second bench at the ball, as being past or not come to perfection.
          9)That the younger ladies take notice how many eyes observe them.--N.B.  This does not extend to the Have-at-alls.
         10)That all whisperers of lies and scandal be taken for their authors.
          11)That all repeaters of such lies and scandal be shunned by all company,--except such as have been guilty of the same crime.--N.B.  Several men of no character, old women and young ones of questioned reputation, are great authors of lies in these places, being of the sect of levellers.

         These laws were written by Mr. Nash himself, and by the manner in which they are drawn up, he undoubtedly designed them for wit.  The reader, however, it is feared, will think them dull.  But Nash was not born a writer;  for whatever humour he might have in conversation, he used to call a pen his torpedo:  whenever he grasped it, it benumbed all his faculties.
        But were we to give laws to a nursery, we should make them childish laws;  his statutes, though stupid, were addressed to fine gentlemen and ladies, and were probably recieved with sympathetic approbation.  It is certain they were in general religiously observed by his subjects, and executed by him with impartiality;  neither rank nor fortune shielded the refactory from his resentment.
        The balls, by his directions, were to begin at six, and to end at eleven.  Nor would he suffer them to continue a moment longer, lest invalids might commit irregularities, to counteract the benefit of the waters.  Everything was to be performed in proper order.  Each ball was to open with a minuet, danced by two persons of the highest distinction present.  When the minuet concluded, the lady was to bring the gentleman a new partner.  This ceremony was to be observed by every succeeding couple;  every gentleman being obliged to dance with two ladies till the minuets were over, which generally continued two hours.  At eight the country-dances were to begin;  ladies of quality, according to their rank, standing up first.  About nine o'clock a short interval was allowed for rest, and for the gentlemen to help their partners to tea.  That over, the company were to pursue their amusements till the clock struck eleven.  Then the master of the ceremonies entering the ball-room, ordered the music to desist by lifting up his finger.  The dances discontinued, and some time allowed for becoming cool, the ladies were handed to their chairs."   Life of Richard Nash by Oliver Goldsmith pgs. 519-20 and 521-22.

N.B. means "nota bene," or note well.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Robin Hood: Genesis of a Whig Myth

       I am going to lay out a personal theory, and encourage anyone who knows anything about the history of the Robin Hood myth to share knowledge in the comments. 
       In my early days as a conservative, I had the knee-jerk idea that there was something wrong with the Robin Hood myth.  Steal from the rich, give to the poor;  how Marxist!  As an experienced observer of eighteenth century British politics, I now conclude that Robin Hood is a Whig myth.  Who are the villains in Robin Hood?  Landed aristocracy, the church, and a corrupt Sheriff.  In other words, three groups that anyone in the elegant eighteenth would have associated with the Tories.  And another thing, the heroes are thieves!  Thieves, as in Bluff Bob in The Beggar's Opera?  The emerging commercial class are often spoken of by the Tories as being thieves.  Hence Estase's term Hip Hop Whiggery, also referring to the Daniel Defoe novels Roxana and Moll Flanders.  So in defending thievery as the natural consequence of restricted economic opportunities, the Tories are again attacked!  Feel free to conclude I've watched The Public Enemy too many times.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kasab Taburu (Butcher Brigade), Part Twelve

       "Armenian homes, whether modest or affluent, were often furnished with art, artifacts, carpets, and European furniture;  and it was known by their Turkish and Kurdish neighbors that Armenians had their savings and often gold and valuable jewelry stored in their houses.  Armenians churches--and there were some 2,530 of them across Turkey--were not only places of worship but civic places where Armenian culture was collected and presented as part of the artistic and historic life of the community.  Like small museums, Armenian churches housed rare scriptures and books as well as paintings, frescoes, gold-and-jewel studded chandeliers, and other precious objects.  Of the desecration of Armenian churches, Morgenthau later wrote:
                    I do not believe that the darkest ages ever presented scenes more
                    horrible than those which now took place all over Turkey.  Nothing
                    was sacred to the Turkish gendarmes;  under the plea of searching
                    for hidden arms, they ransacked churches, treated the altars and sacred
                     utensils with the utmost indignity, and even held mock ceremonies in
                      imitation of the Christian sacraments.  They would beat the priests into
                      insensibility, under the pretense that they were the centres of sedition.
                      When they could discover no weapons in the churches, they would some
                       -times arm the bishops and priests with guns, pistols, and swords, then
                       try them before courts-martial for possessing weapons against the law,
                       and march them in this condition through the streets, merely to arouse
                       the fanatical wrath of the mobs.
       In 1915 the material wealth of Armenian culture was an open house for plunder.  As the local Turkish and Kurdish community began pillaging Armenian homes, Davis looked on in horror:
                     The scenes of that week were heartrending.  The people were
                     preparing to leave their homes and to abandon their houses, their
                      lands, their property of all kinds.  They were trying to dispose of their
                      furniture and household effects, their provisions and even much of their
                      clothing, as they would be able to carry but little with them.  They were
                       selling their possessions for whatever they could get.  The streets were
                       full of Turkish women, as well as men, who were seeking bargains on
                        this occasion, buying organs, sewing machines, furniture, rugs, and
                        other articles of value for almost nothing.  I know one woman who sold
                        a two hundred dollar organ to a Turkish neighbor for about five
                       dollars.  Sewing machines which had cost twenty-five dollars were sold
                        for fifty cents.  Valuable rugs were sold for less than a dollar.  Many
                        articles were given away, as their ownere were unable to sell them
                        and were obliged to leave them behind.  The scene reminded me of
                        vultures swooping down on their prey.  It was a veritable Turkish       
                         holiday and all the Turks went out in their gala attire to feast and to
                         make merry over the misfortunes of others.
       Henry Riggs was also astonished by what he saw.  In the public square, there were 'mountains of bedding, furniture and utensils. . . . sold at auction. . . .[for] one fifth of their value, and often far less.'  For many of the Muslims, it was 'the opportunity of a life time to get-rich-quick.'  Some Turks and Kurds attacked the homes of defenseless women, raping them and taking their possessions.  Some Turks, Riggs reported, especially those of 'the better class looked with genuine horror at the treatment accorded to the Armenians, and when it came to enriching themselves as a result of the sufferings of the poor victims, they would not do it.'  Such booty they believed was haram (forbidden), and would put a curse on them and their legacies.
       It became clear to Davis that the Temporary Law of Deportation and Confiscation and its new Emval-i Mertruke (abandoned goods) commission was a charade.  The commission was ostensibly set up to guard the property of the deported Armenians and, after supposedly paying out of it any debts of the owners, was to send the money to them in their new homes.  Most of the Armenians were killed, as was undoubtedly intended by the government, and as Davis put it, 'none who survived ever received any money from the Committee.'  As he tried to help Armenians claim their money, he realized that it was, as Consul Jackson later put it, 'a gigantic plundering scheme.'  After the commission had 'gotten possession of hundreds of thousands of dollars,'  Davis noted, 'it conveniently lost its books and explained that, as all the money received had been used up for expenses and there were no funds on hand, there was no necessity anyway of rendering any account!'  Deutsche Bank Director, Arthur von Gwinner, and the Ottoman parliamentary senator Ahmed Riza all reached similar conclusions.
        Armenian businessmen were forced to abandon their businesses, their shops, their merchandise, their lifetime accumulations.  Kerop Bedoukian watched in horror as the gendarmes took over his father's grocery store, and then 'systematically,'  he writes, 'the contents of the stores' everywhere were all being confiscated and 'loaded onto ox-drawn carts' and supposedly 'taken to government storage depots.'  Farther west in Ovajik, near Ismit, not far from Constantinople, Serpouhi Tavoukdijian also watched as the Turkish gendarmes took 'bolts of rich silks and cloth' from her father's store and then pillaged her brother Lazarus's toy store.  Antranig Vartanian, a fifteen-year-old boy whose family were livestock farmers on the Moush plain, described being forced by the Turkish gendarmes to go into a barn, where hundreds of Armenians had been burned alive, and take from the corpses jewelry and valuables.  'I saw the corpse of a woman propped up by some barn beams,' he recalled vividly.  'She had been strangled to death outside of the barn, and the remains of a beautiful embroidered apron were still on her body.  I saw gold bracelets and necklaces and other jewels on her body and I took them back to the gendarmes.'  The gendarmes were so delighted with the jewels that they spared Vartanian's life.
        Those who took their money with them were robbed of it immediately;  others left it in the bank, and others deposited money and valuables with German or American missionaries.  Realizing that the consulate was the safest place to leave money and valuables, still others deposited it with Leslie Davis, and his quarters soon became what he called 'a safe deposit vault' for the Armenians.  It was 'pathetic,' Davis recalled, 'to see the people bringing their money, their jewels, their valuable documents, and articles of all kinds to the Consulate and to the missionaries, asking us to keep them.'  With more than two hundred thousand dollars in gold hidden at the consulate, Davis worried about being raided by the Turkish authorities, and found it more than ironic that when the vali came over for evening tea and card games, the safe with the Armenian gold stood there in the same room.  By the fall of 1915 Davis was receiving orders from the vali demanding that he turn over to the government all the money and property the Armenians had been leaving in his care.  When he refused to comply, he found himself drawn deeper into the crisis.
       Davis was also horrified by the economic significance of killing off the Armenians;  as he put it:  'It was literally a case of killing the goose that laid the golden egg, for there would be no one left to till the soil and the authorities might have forseen the famine which actually did visit the land the following year.'  Davis noted that 'Nearly all the merchants, bankers, doctors, dentists, lawyers, teachers, carpenters, brick-layers, tile-makers, tinsmiths, bakers, tailors, shoe-makers, and other artisans so essential to the life of the people were Armenians. . . .By one stroke,'  Davis wrote, 'the country was to be set back a century.'  The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian pgs. 233-236

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Kasab Taburu (Butcher Brigade), Part Eleven

       "Dr. Boghosian described similar scenes.  His group of deportees was led out of the Chankiri prison, he recorded, on Assumption Sunday in August 1915.  Marched out of town, tied to each other by ropes, and joined with a group of several hundred more men, they were sent out into the 'bright moonlit night,' with three carts filled with 'spades, hoes, pick-axes, and shovels.'  Along the way more than two dozen of them were killed by the gendarmes, who bludgeoned them to death with their rifles.  They were spared for the moment when a Turkish captain redirected their caravan south to Kayseri.  Along that route more than 200 died of starvation and dysentary--familiar ways of dying in the extermination process.  Most of them would die in the coming months, but Dr. Boghosian, like Krikoris Balakian, was among the lucky survivors.

       What happened to these deported Armenian cultural leaders happened to Armenian intellectuals all over Turkey.  In this calculated way the CUP destroyed a vital part of Armenia's cultural infrastructure, and succeeded in practically silencing a whole generation of Armenian writers.  The death toll shows that at least eighty-two writers are known to have been murdered, in addition to the thousands of teachers and cultural and religious leaders.  It was an apocalypse for Armenian literature, which was in its own moment of a modernist flowering.  Daniel Varoujian, Siamanto (Adam Yarjanian), Krikor Zohrab, Levon Shant, Gomidas (Soghomon Soghomonian), and many others had taken Armenian poetry, fiction, drama, and music into a new era.  Fortunately many of the poems, novels, plays, and essays survived and are an important part of the Armenian literary tradition today.  But it may nevertheless be that the Young Turk government's extermination of Armenian intellectuals in 1915 was the most extensive episode of its kind in the twentieth century.  In many ways it became a paradigm for the silencing of writers by totalitarian governments in the ensuing decades of the century.  After April 24 it would be easier to carry out the genocide program, for many of the most gifted voices of resistance were gone.

       When Morgenthau first settled into his new post in Constantinople, he was alarmed by the recent accession to power of the CUP triumverate--Enver, Talaat, and Jemal.  Morgenthau called the new Committee of Union and Progress 'an irresponsible party, a kind of secret society' that ruled by 'intrigue, intimidation, and assassination.' 
       Then, as the Ottoman Empire joined Germany in World War I in November 1914, Morgenthau witnessed the Ottoman declaration of war that was issued simultaneously with a declaration of jihad had 'started passions' that would fuel the extermination program against the Armenians.  By the spring of 1915, Morgenthau began receiving detailed dispatches and telegrams about the deportations and massacres of the Armenians from his consular staff in the interior of Turkey.  Those reports would soon be heard around the world, and they would become essential to Morgenthau's new sense of conscience and responsibility. 

       In every city, town, and village a significant part of the Armenian population was financially stable, or even wealthy, and this caused great resentment and envy among their Muslim neighbors.  A disproportionate number of Armenians were successful in small business, trade, and commerce;  they were artisans, craftsmen, and farmers as well as teachers, clergy, and physicians.  Armenian culture was steeped in what later came to be called the Protestant work ethic.  With the coming of the missionaries, a new class of educated and intellectual Armenians had emerged as an academic elite throughout the empire.  By 1914, there were 1,996 schools and 451 monateries stretching from Constantinople to Van."  The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian pgs215-16, 223-24, and 233.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


     There is an old saying, sometimes attributed to Albert Einstein, that says :"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results."  President Obama made it clear in 2008 that he was opposed to "stupid wars," a phrase he never elucidated beyond stating that Iraq was a stupid war and Afghanistan wasn't a stupid war.  Estase always suspected that what "stupid" really meant was "unpopular," given the fact that when Obama was running for office there had been two horrific battles of Falujah, which figured prominantly on the TV news, and appeared often in the complaints of G.W. Bush's critics. 
       Estase always thought that one virtue Iraq held that Afghanistan didn't was that Iraq was at least being fought to institute a popular government, which even the most sanguine neo-con knew would be impossible for Afghanistan.  The American Left was fond of comparing Iraq to Vietnam, when the real turkey of a war was being fought to prop up a drug criminal named Hamid Karzai, who was not even fond enough of us to exclude the possibility of himself fighting the United States.  So, twelve years after starting a war in a country whose sin was protecting a now-dead terrorist, we still are fighting in Afghanistan.  And my readers in Russia know well that this is an endless source of irritation for their government. 
       So now, Oh Blah Blah, who in 2007 declared he was against "stupid wars," is set to fight on the side of Al Qaeda against the equally unloveable Bashar Al-Assad.  And who are Bashar Al-Assad's allies?  Iran and Russia!  Oh lovely, we are about to irritate the Russians in yet another part of the world!  And the intrepid Obama, who was so incensed about the cost of the Iraq War, will spend how much money we borrowed from China for this useless misadventure? 
      Obama also made war in violation of the 1973 War Powers Act in Libya.  And the locals anally raped and killed a U.S. Ambassador to show their appreciation.  Obama will not seek Congressional approval for action in Syria, because as deified Emperor, he has no need to follow anything so mundane as the U.S. Constitution.
       Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syria.  Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Kasab Taburu (Butcher Brigade), Part Ten

        "Balakian described 'the terror of death' that hung in the air of the bus, especially as they passed the rocky coast where in previous decades the sultan's military police had thrown to their deaths hundreds of Armenian and Turkish intellectuals and political activists.  The group was then put on a steamship that normally held about 65 people, but was now loaded down with about 250 Armenians and dozens of military police--young soldiers, commisars, army spies, and police officials of various ranks.
        They sailed out on the rough waters of the Sea of Marmara and finally landed at Haydar Pasha's wharf, where they were marched out of the steamship in pairs to a huge embarkation station.  As the ornate process continued, the Armenian leaders were then taken to a special train, which was, as Balakian put it,'waiting and ready to take us all to the depths of Asia Minor, where,except for a few rare cases, we would all meet out deaths.  With the lights out,' Balakian wrote, ' the doors of the cars shut, and with police and police soldiers posted everywhere, the train started.  And so we began to move further and further away form the places of our lives, each of us leaving behind grieving and unprotected mothers, sisters, wives, children, possessions, wealth, and everything else.  We headed out to a region unnamed and unfamiliar.  To be buried forever.'
        Sometime past midnight an official on the train, who happened to be Armenian, whispered in Balakian's ear: 'Reverend Father, please write down the names of your arrested friends on this piece of paper and give it back to me.'  The man then 'slid a piece of paper and a pencil into my hand, and leaving the lamp by me, he went off to the busy policemen who were in charge of us. . . my heart was pounding and in haste I wrote, in the flickering dim light, the names I could remember, and slid the list back to the Armenian official.'  It was at this point that Balakian began to bear witness in a more formal way, and perhaps the writing down of the names was part of the process that led him to write his memoir.
        The train proceeded south along the coastline of the Sea of Marmara and by dawn they were passing through Nicomedia (Izmit) and Bardizag.  At dusk they came to the town of Eskishehir, where the Ankara and Konia railway lines separate, and then, after some delay and much apprehension among the prisoners, the train veered off toward Ankara.  Around midday on Tuesday they arrived at the Sinjan Koy railway station, near Ankara.  At the station Ibrahim, the chief of the central prison, who had been with them since Constantinople, stood up and began to read off the list of names:  'Silvio Ricci, Agnuni, Zartarian, Khazhag, Sharigian, Jihangiulian, Dr. Daghavarian, Sarkis Minasian,' the names were shouted out.  They were all progressive intellectuals, nonpolitical party people, conservatives, Balakian recalled, 'some seventy-five in all.  We were riveted on each name as it was called,' he wrote,' and then we kissed those who were leaving us.  In that instant, we began to weep, and as one person wept, others began to weep too, and we had this feeling that we were being separated from each other forever.'
         The first group was taken to Ayash, northwest of Ankara, while Balakian's group would be taken to Chankiri, to the northwest of Ankara.  In both places the men were imprisoned, tortured, and most of them killed in the subsequent few months in the desolate countryside of the region.  Balakian describes many of their deaths, among them the murders of the famous poet Daniel Varoujian and the novelist and Ottoman parliament membor Krikor Zohrab.  Varoujan and four colleagues had been with Balakian in prison in Chankiri, and on Thursday August 12, Jemal Oguz, the CUP responsible secretary, telegraphed the police guard office on the Chankiri-Kaylajek road, they were ambushed by four Kurdish chetes.  'The whole thing,' Balakian wrote, 'had been arranged in advance, and in secret.'
        The chetes then took the five Armenians to a nearby creek, undressed them, and folded up their clothing for themselves.  Then 'they began to stab them to death, slashing their arms and legs and genitals, and ripping apart their bodies.'  Only the thirty-three-year old Daniel Varoujian tried to defend himself, and this provoked the killers further;  they not only 'tore out his entrails, but dug out the eyes of this great Armenian poet.'  The killers then divided the pillage among themselves, taking more than 450 Ottoman gold pieces that were sewn into the clothing of Dr. Chillingerian and Onnig Maghazadijian.  They paid off the police, and after dividing up the belongings, left in the carriages.
         Balakian learned the details of the killings from one of the Turkish carriage drivers--the twenty-one-year-old son of the local bathhouse keeper--who returned to Chankiri depressed and shaken.  Sobbing as he spoke, he said to the Armenian priest, 'I don't want to be in this trade anymore.  I'm going to sell my horse and carriage and get out of this town.  I don't want this kind of profit.'  When the carriages returned to Chankiri without Varoujian and the others on Friday, the news of their murders spread terror among the deportees and the Armenian families of the town.  The interim governor, who had guaranteed that the men would reach Ankara safely, went immediately to Tuney (the town were they were killed) with the chief of police from Kastamouni and an investigative team.  There, they 'found the five dead men in unrecognizable condition in the creek.'"
The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian pgs.213-215.

The Deserted Village (1770)

Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain;
Where health and plenty cheered the labouring swain,
Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting summer's lingering blooms delayed:
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please,
How often have I loitered o'er thy green,
Where humble happiness endeared each scene!
How often have I paused on every charm,
The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm,
The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church that topt the neighbouring hill,
The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade,
For talking age and whispering lovers made!
How often have I blest the coming day,
When toil remitting lent its turn to play,
And all the village train, from labour free,
Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree,
While many a pastime circled in the shade,
The young contending as the old surveyed;
And many a gambol frolicked o'er the ground,
And sleights of art and feats of strength went round.
Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspired;
The dancing pair that simply sought renown,
By holding out, to tire each other down;
The swain mistrustless of his smutted face,
While secret laughter tittered round the place;
The bashful virgin's side-long looks of love,
The matron's glance that would those looks reprove.
These were thy charms, sweet village!  sports like these,
With sweet succession, taught even toil to please:
These round thy bowers their cheerful influence shed:
These were thy charms--but all these charms are fled.
Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,
Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn;
Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green:
One only master grasps the whole domain,
And half a tillage stints thy smiling plain.
No more thy glassy brook reflects the day,
But, choked with sedges, works its weedy way;
Along thy glades, a solitary guest,
The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest;
Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies,
And tires their echoes with unvaried cries;
Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all,
And the long grass o'ertops the mouldering wall;
And, trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand,
Far, far away thy children leave the land.
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay:
Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade;
A breath can make them, as a breath has made:
But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroyed, can never be supplied.
A time there was, ere England's griefs began,
When every rood of ground maintained its man;
For him light labour spread her wholesome store,
Just gave what life required, but gave no more:
His best companions, innocence and health;
And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
But times are altered;  trade's unfeeling train
Usurp the land and dispossess the swain;
Along the lawn, where scattered hamlets rose,
Unwieldy wealth and cumbrous pomp repose,
And every want to opulence allied,
And every pang that folly pays to pride.
Those gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom,
Those calm desires that asked but little room,
Those healthful sports that graced the peaceful scene,
Lived in each look, and brightened all the green;
These, far departing, seek a kinder shore,
And rural mirth and manners are no more.
Sweet Auburn!  parent of the blissful hour,
Thy glades forlorn confess the tyrant's power.
Here, as I take my solitary rounds
Amidst thy tangling walks and ruined grounds,
And, many a year elapsed, return to view
Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew,
Remembrance wakes with all her busy train,
Swells at my breast, and turns the past to pain.
In all my wanderings round this world of care,
In all my griefs--and GOD has given my share--
I still had hopes, my latest hours to crown,
Amidst these humble bowers to lay me down;
To husband out life's taper at the close,
And keep the flame from wasting by repose:
I still had hopes, for pride attends us still,
Amidst the swains to show my book-learned skill,
Around my fire an evening group to draw,
And tell of all I felt, and all I saw;
And, as a hare whom hounds and horns pursue
Pants to the place from whence at first he flew,
I still had hopes, my long vexations past,
Here to return--and die at home at last.
O blest retirement, friend to life's decline,
Retreats from care, that never must be mine,
How happy he who crowns in shades like these
A youth of labour with an age of ease;
Who quits a world where strong temptations try,
And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly!
For him no wretches, born to work and weep,
Explore the mine, or tempt the dangerous deep;
Nor surly porter stands in guilty state,
To spurn imploring famine from the gate;
But on he moves to meet his latter end,
Angels around befriending Virtue's friend;
Bends to the grave with unperceived decay,
While resignation gently slopes the way;
And, all his prospects brightening to the last,
His heaven commences ere the world be past!
Sweet was the sound, when oft at evening's close
Up yonder hill the village murmur rose.
There, as I past with careless steps and slow,
The mingling notes came softened from below;
The swain responsive as the milk-maid sung,
The sober herd that lowed to meet their young,
The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool,
The playful children just let loose from school,
The watch-dog's voice that bayed the whispering wind,
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind;--
These all in sweet confusion sought the shade,
And filled each pause the nightingale had made.
But now the sounds of population fail,
No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale,
No busy steps the grass-grown foot-way tread,
For all the bloomy flush of life is fled.
All but yon widowed, solitary thing,
That feebly bends beside the plashy spring:
She, wretched matron, forced in age, for bread,
To strip the brook with mantling cresses spread,
To pick her wintry faggot from the thorn,
To seek her nightly shed, and weep till morn;
She only left of all the harmless train,
The sad historian of the pensive plain.
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smiled,
And still where many a garden-flower grows wild;
There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose,
The village preacher's modest mansion rose.
A man he was to all the country dear,
And passing rich with forty pounds a year;
Remote from towns he ran his godly race,
Nor e'er had changed, nor wished to change, his place;
Unpractised he to fawn, or seek for power,
By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour;
Far other aims his heart had learned to prize,
More skilled to raise the wretched than to rise.
His house was known to all the vagrant train;
He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain:
The long-remember'd beggar was his guest,
Whose beard descending swept his aged breast;
The ruined spendthrift, now no longer proud,
Claimed kindred there, and had his claims allowed;
The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay,
Sat by his fire, and talked the night away,
Wept o'er his wounds or tales of sorrow done,
Shouldered his crutch, and showed how fields were won.
Pleased with his guests, the good man learned to glow,
And quite forgot their vices in their woe;
Careless their merits or their faults to scan,
His pity gave ere charity began.
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
And e'en his failings leaned to virtue's side;
But in his duty prompt at every call,
He watched and wept, he prayed and felt for all;
And, as a bird each fond endearment tries
To tempt its new-fledged offspring to the skies,
He tried each art, reproved each dull delay,
Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way.
Beside the bed where parting life was laid,
And sorrow, guilt, and pain, by turns dismayed,
Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul;
Comfort came down the trembling wretch to raise,
And his last faltering accents whispered praise.
At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
His looks adorned the venerable place;
Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway,
And fools, who came to scoff, remained to pray.
The service past, around the pious man,
With steady zeal, each honest rustic ran;
E'en children followed with endearing wile,
And plucked his gown, to share the good man's smile.
His ready smile a parent's warmth expressed;
Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distressed:
To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given,
But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven.
As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm,
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head.
Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way,
With blossom'd furze unprofitably gay,
There, in his noisy mansion, skilled to rule,
The village master taught his little school.
A man severe he was, and stern to view;
I knew him well, and every truant knew:
Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace
The day's disaster's in his morning face;
Full well the busy whisper circling round
Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned.
Yet he was kind, or, if severe in aught,
The love he bore to learning was in fault;
The village all declared how much he knew:
'Twas certain he could write, and cypher too;
Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,
And e'en the story ran that he could gauge:
In arguing, too, the parson owned his skill;
For e'en though vanquished, he could argue still;
While words of learned length and thundering sound
Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around;
And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew,
But past is all his fame.  The very spot
Where many a time he triumphed is forgot.
Near yonder thorn, that lifts its head on high,
Where once the sign-post caught the passing eye,
Low lies that house where nut-brown draughts inspired,
Where grey-beard mirth and smiling toil retired,
Where village statesmen talked with looks profound,
And news much older than their ale went round.
Imagination fondly stoops to trace
The parlour splendours of that festive place:
The white-washed wall, that nicely sanded floor,
The varnished clock that clicked behind the door;
The chest contrived a double debt to pay,
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day;
The pictures placed for ornament and use,
The twelve good rules, the royal game of goose;
The hearth, except when winter chilled the day,
With aspen boughs and flowers and fennel gay;
While broken tea-cups, wisely kept for show,
Ranged o'er the chimney, glistened in a row.
Vain transitory splendours!  could not all
Reprieve the tottering mansion from its fall?
Obscure it sinks, nor shall it more impart
An hour's importance to the poor man's heart.
Thither no more the peasant shall repair
To sweet oblivion of his daily care;
No more the farmer's news, the barber's tale,
No more the woodman's ballad shall prevail;
No more the smith his dusky brow shall clear,
Relax his ponderous strength, and lean to hear;
The host himself no longer shall be found
Careful to see the mantling bliss go round;
Nor the coy maid, half willing to be prest,
Shall kiss the cup to pass it to the rest.
Yes! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
These simple blessings of the lowly train;
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
One native charm, than all the gloss of art;
Spontaneous joys, where Nature has its play,
The soul adopts, and owns their first-born sway;
Lightly they frolic o'er the vacant mind,
Unenvied, unmolested, unconfined.
But the long pomp, the midnight masquerade,
With all the freaks of wanton wealth arrayed,--
In these, ere triflers half their wish obtain,
The toiling pleasure sickens into pain;
And, e'en while fashion's brightest arts decoy,
The heart distrusting asks if this be joy.
Ye friends to truth, ye statesmen who survey
The rich man's joys increase, the poor's decay,
'Tis yours to judge, how wide the limits stand
Between a splendid and a happy land.
Proud swells the tide with loads of freighted ore,
And shouting Folly hails them from her shore;
Hoards e'en beyond the miser's wish abound,
And rich men flock from all the world around.
Yet count our gains.  The wealth is but a name
That leaves our useful products still the same.
Not so the loss.  The man of wealth and pride
Takes up a space that many poor supplied;
Space for his lake, the park's extended bounds,
Space for his horses, equipage, and hounds:
The robe that wraps his limbs in silken sloth
Has robbed the neighbouring fields of half their growth;
His seat, where solitary sports are seen,
Indignant spurns the cottage from the green:
Around the world each needful product flies,
For all the luxuries the world supplies;
While thus the land adorned for pleasure all
In barren splendour feebly waits the fall.
As some fair female unadorned and plain,
Secure to please while youth confirms her reign,
Slights every borrowed charm that dress supplies,
Nor shares with art the triumph of her eyes;
But when those charms are past, for charms are frail,
When time advances, and when lovers fail,
She then shines forth, solicitous to bless,
In all the glaring impotence of dress.
Thus fares the land by luxury betrayed:
In Nature's simplest charms at first arrayed,
But verging to decline, its splendours rise,
Its vistas strike, its palaces surprise;
While, scourged by famine from the smiling land,
The mournful peasant leads his humble band,
And while he sinks, without one arm to save,
The country blooms--a garden and a grave.
Where then, ah!  where, shall poverty reside,
To 'scape the pressure of contiguous pride?
If to some common's fenceless limits strayed
He drives his flock to pick the scanty blade,
Those fenceless fields the sons of wealth divide,
And even the bare-worn common is denied.
If to the city sped--what waits him there?
To see profusion that he must not share;
To see ten thousand baneful arts combined
To pamper luxury, and thin mankind;
To see those joys the sons of pleasure know
Extorted from his fellow creature's woe.
Here while the courtier glitters in brocade,
There the pale artist plies the sickly trade;
Here while the proud their long-drawn pomps display,
There the black gibbet glooms beside the way.
The dome where pleasure holds her midnight reign
Here richly deck'd admits the gorgeous train:
Tumultuous grandeur crowds the blazing square,
The rattling chariots clash, the torches glare.
Sure scenes like these no troubles e'er annoy!
Sure these denote one universal joy!
Are these thy serious thoughts?--Ah, turn thine eyes
Where the poor houseless shivering female lies.
She once, perhaps, in village plenty blest,
Has wept at tales of innocence distrest;
Her modest looks the cottage might adorn,
Sweet as the primrose peeps beneath the thorn;
Now lost to all; her friends, her virtue fled,
Near her betrayer's door she lays her head,
And, pinch'd with cold, and shrinking from the shower,
With heavy heart deplores that luckless hour,
When idly first, ambitious of the town,
She left her wheel and robes of country brown.
Do thine, sweet Auburn,--thine, the loveliest train,--
Do thy fair tribes participate her pain?
Even now, perhaps, by cold and hunger led,
At proud men's doors they ask a little bread!
Ah,no!  To distant climes, a dreary scene,
Where half the convex world intrudes between,
Through torrid tracts with fleeting steps they go,
Where wild Altama murmurs to their woe.
Far different there from all that charmed before,
The various terrors of that horrid shore;
Those blazing suns that dart a downward ray,
And fiercely shed intolerable day;
Those matted woods, where birds forget to sing,
But silent bats in drowsy clusters cling;
Those poisonous fields with rank luxurience crowned,
Where the dark scorpion gathers death around,
Where at each step the stranger fears to wake
The rattling terrors of the vengeful snake,
Where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey.
And savage men more murderous still than they;
While oft in whils the mad tornado flies,
Mingling the ravaged landscape with the skies.
Far different these from every former scene,
The cooling brook, the grassy vested green,
The breezy covert of the warbling grove,
That only sheltered thefts of harmless love.
Good Heaven!  what sorrows gloomed that parting day,
That called them from their native walks away;
When the poor exiles, every pleasure past,
Hung round the bowers, and fondly looked their last,
And took a long farewell, and wished in vain
For seats like these beyond the western main,
And shuddering still to face the distant deep,
Returned and wept, and still returned to weep.
The good old sire the first prepared to go
To new-found worlds, and wept for others' woe;
But for himself, in conscious virtue brave,
He only wished for worlds beyond the grave.
His lovely daughter, lovelier in her tears,
The fond companion of his helpless years,
Silent went next, neglectful of her charms,
And left a lover's for her father's arms.
With louder plaints the mother spoke her woes,
And blessed the cot where every pleasure rose,
And kissed her thoughtless babes  with many a tear,
And clasped them close, in sorrow double dear,
Whilst her fond husband strove to lend relief
In all the silent manliness  of grief.
O luxury!  thou curst by Heaven's decree.
How ill exchanged are things like these for thee!
How do thy potions, with insidious joy,
Diffuse their pleasures only to destroy!
Kingdoms by thee, to sickly greatness grown,
Boast of a florid vigour not their own.
At every draught more large and large they grow,
A bloated mass of rank unwieldly woe;
Till sapped their strength, and every part unsound,
Down, down they sink, and spread a ruin round.
Even now, the devastation is begun,
And half the business of destruction done;
Even now, methinks, as pondering here I stand,
I see the rural virtues leave the land.
Down where you anchoring vessel spreads the sail,
The idly waiting flaps with every gale,
Downward they move, a melancholy band,
Pass from the shore, and darken all the strand.
Contented toil, and hospitable care,
And kind connubial tenderness, are there;
And piety with wishes placed above,
And steady loyalty, and faithful love.
And thou, sweet Poetry, thou loveliest maid,
Still first to fly where sensual joys invade;
Unfit in these degenerate times of shame
To catch the heart, or strike for honest fame;
Dear charming nymph,neglected and decried,
My shame in crowds, my solitary pride;
Thou source of all my bliss, and all my woe.
That found'st me poor at first, and keep'st me so;
Thou guide by which the nobler arts excel,
Thou nurse of every virtue, fare thee well!
Farewell, and O! where'er thy voice be tried,
On Torno's cliffs, or Pambamarca's side,
Whether where equinoctial fervours glow,
Or winter wraps the polar world in snow,
Still let thy voice, prevailing over time,
Redress the rigours of the inclement clime;
Aid slighted truth with thy persuasive strain;
Teach erring man to spurn the rage of gain:
Teach him, that states of native strength possest,
Though very poor, may still be very blest;
That trade's proud empire hastes to swift decay,
As ocean sweeps the laboured mole away;
While self-dependent power can time defy,
As rocks resist the billows and the sky.
                                                    Oliver Goldsmith