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testimonials concerning our people. The famous author, Emile De Laveleye says, in "The Balkan Peninsula":
“ The Armenians are intelligent, laborious, economical and excellent business men. They occupy official appointments in the administration of the Ottoman Empire, and in Constantinople they are the chief promoters of economical activity. Their civilization is among the oldest in Asia. Their annals date from the earliest historic times."
The late Rev. H. G. O. Dwight, D. D., one of the pioneer missionaries of the American Board among our people, reflects observations of many years in these words: “They (Armenians) have shown themselves to be superior to any other race in commercial tact and in mechanical skill. The principal merchants are Armenians, and nearly all the great bankers of the government; and, whatever arts there are that require peculiar ingenuity and skill, they are almost sure to be in the hands of the Armenians. In one word, they are the Anglo-Saxons of the East.”
I cannot close this chapter on the fortunes of my people without an appeal to that great Cosmopolitan nation, the secret of whose marvelous unity is freedom and intelligence, to aid in the enlightenment, encouragement and consequent liberation of a people, kindred though remote, who, through the thick fogs of ignorance and gloom of oppression, have kept intact the love of liberty, the very font of manhood, together with those qualities that make good citizenship, strength and sobriety.
“The Armenian literature is rich and continuous, uninterrupted through all the middle ages. It has furnished the philosophers, historians, theologiang and poets.”—Prof. Emile De Laveleye.
OLK-LORE, the mother of literature, with its legends
and simple rural songs, forms the fountain head of every nation's purest thought and noblest sentiment. A country's scenery, its lofty mountains, green hills and fertile valleys exerts an influence upon the physical conditions and intellectual standards of a people that cannot be overestimated. Switzerland, with its grand, uplifting heights, is famed for the inborn love of liberty cherished by its people. Every Anglo-Saxon knows the songs of Robert Burns, inspired among the highlands of Scotland. Each lad and lassie is thrilled by the soft, sweet tones of his æolian harp. Armenia has her bards, whose songs are enriched by the natural scenery which first echoed their refrain. The native poet's passion for birds and flowers inspires his every line, while the varied perfumes of the fields breathes from many a stanza.
Long, long ere letters were invented, the enraptured
heart of the poet broke forth in song, the rythem so complete that not a word could be changed without destroying the sense. Was it not so with blind Homer? Armenia's heritage of song is her richest treasure, bequeathed by misty figures in the pre-historic past. So ancient are her melodies that they seem the breath of her body and the light of her soul.
Her mountains, hills and valleys, her birds and flowers, her kings and battles, even the broken heart-strings of her stricken mothers, are unutterably woven into the strain of poesy. Native poetry finds here its strong incentive. Grim, slothful winter lingers long, holding gentle spring in his icy grasp. She rises suddenly in her youthful strength, and snowflakes change to flowers with a suddenness that surprises the stranger. The quick transition, this annual resurrection, is the theme of many a bard. Spring poetry is addressed to the stork, as harbinger of the season, who, when he comes to stay, brings summer with him.
The ancients dedicated spring to the goddess Amahid. All the people joined in the feast of Varthavar, rose blossoms. Since Christian times, this has been supplanted by the three days' festival of the Transfiguration. The former ancient custom, the feast of Rose Blossoms, indicates the love of the beautiful, which leads to the true, and can have its origin only in the good. There is a religious halo about the very name of flowers, The Fountain's Blood is a floral wonder. Was it the blood of righteous Abel that sprang from the ground as this crimson flower on a leafless stalk, calling to God in its blood-red simplicity for vengeance on the murderer ? All these beauties of the field and glen have called forth exquisite gems of thought, which are treasured to this day.
There is a sad Armenian elegy on Adam's expulsion from Paradise, in theme not unlike portions of Milton's 'Paradise
Lost.' But our poets have seldom wandered into the realm of fancy—their themes are of the heart, varying with the fortunes of the people as a nation, from a tone of joyful victory to that of subdued inelancholy, which, however, never descends to despair, whatever the adversity.
The whole literary fabric is imbued with a religious faith in the final justice of God, which finds no parallel, except in the literature of the Hebrew race. A literal translation of the following stanza does not destroy the poetic thought and religious hope which saves from despair a wounded mother grieving for her child. Unfortunately, translation injures the effect of the original:
and weep, mother of my boy,
I have seen my golden son dead!
Of my breast, and my soul fainted away;
Fly away, and my heart was wounded.
My dear and sweet-voiced turtle dove and wounded me.
And flew away through the skies!
On my flowering green promegranate,
Which gives fragrance among the leaves.
And left me without fruit;
And trod it under foot into the earth of the grave.
Many sorrows surrounded me.
And place him at rest in Thy bright heaven."
The simple pathos and exquisite conception of bird and flower analogies by the rural bards are touchingly illustrated in the above selection. The birds of Armenia, like the flowers, are countless in number and variety. Her poets seldom write without embellishing their lines with reference