Anne Haslund Hansen & Stig T. Rasmussen (eds.), Min
Frederik Christian von Havens Rejsejournal fra Den Arabiske Rejse 1760-1763.
Copenhagen, 2005. [The loss of my health:
Frederik Christian von Haven’s travel journal from the
Arabian Expedition, 1760-1763. Extracts translated
by David Wilson.*]
[The Danish king Frederik V sponsored an expedition that was to explore
what was loosely described as “Arabia” and to report on
its languages, antiquities and botany. Von Haven was engaged as a linguist.
Other members of the expedition were Peter Forsskål, a botanist,
Carsten Niebuhr, a cartographer, Christian Kramer, a medical doctor,
Georg Wilhelm Baurenfeind, a draughtsman, and Lars Bergen, who was to
act as their orderly. On 4 Jan 1761 they embarked on the Danish warship
Grønland, Captain Fisker, and, after waiting for a fair wind,
sailed out of the road of Copenhagen three days later. Von Haven was
violently seasick and was given permission to disembark and travel overland
to rejoin the rest of the party at Marseilles. From there they proceeded
to Malta, then on to Smyrna and finally to the island of Tenedos (Bozcaada
in Turkish) near the mouth of the Dardanelles.]
p. 173: 15 July (1761). On Wednesday, M. Paul Zohrab1
arrived from the Dardanelles, bringing orders to Captain Fisker to stay
where he was, and not to come to Constantinople but to return again
to Smyrna. Mr Zohrab was the second dragoman2
for Ambassador Gähler3.
He brought us a letter from the ambassador which instructed us to leave
the ship Grønland, to hire our own ship or boat to get to Constantinople,
and to follow the dragoman, who had orders to accompany us. The ambassador
invited us to stay at his own house and to consider ourselves at home
there. We really could not have expected better treatment.
16 & 17 July. The next day we resolved to hire our own boat to
get to Constantinople. However, because Niebuhr was now confined to
bed with dysentery, he decided that it would be best for him to stay
on board for a few more days and so, with Dr Kramer, he went aboard
a Danish ship that was bound for Constantinople. Three of us went ashore
in the harbour of Tenedos to see if there was a caique that would be
suitable for us.
p. 182: 30 July. Soon after reaching the ambassador’s house
and finding our rooms, we went to see Mr Horn, the first secretary to
the legation, his first dragoman, M. Paul ... 4,
and Mr Schumacher, who was the cancellier, that is a kind of secretary,
a special title used in the Levant. p. 183: At luncheon the company
consisted of the following people: 1) the ambassador himself; 2) Mr
Horn; 3) Mr Schumacher; 4) Mr Charpentier; 5) Paul Zohrab, the second
dragoman; 6-10) our own party of five.
p. 191: 4 August. On Tuesday we received a bill from M. Paul Zohrab,
the second dragoman at the embassy5,
in which he charged us 120 piastres for the caique (although, as we
learned later, he himself had only paid 80 for it ) and, besides this,
37 piastres for additional expenses. This money was paid to him out
of our cash box without further argument. I forgot to mention before
that he had also asked me to pay 4 Venetian sequins at the customs house
for the examination of our things which was carried out after we arrived
at the ambassador’s house on the 30th of last month. We were told
afterwards that we had paid too much and that the dragoman always took
care to arrange things in favour of himself and the Turks.
p. 204: 16 August. On Sunday I drove out with the second dragoman,
Paul Zohrab, to Therapia, to spend some time with friends of his, among
whom were some of the prettiest women I have ever seen6.
pp.223-224: 8 September. After we had come aboard, M. Zohrab the dragoman,
who had come with us as I said, told us to behave coolly to the customs
officer at the Dardanelles because he had spread disgraceful lies about
him. He expected us to do this because of our friendship for him. The
Turkish customs officer had written a letter to the first dragoman that
discredited Paul Zohrab, accusing him of disgracing himself and his
nation when he was at the Dardanelles waiting for us to arrive with
the Danish ship, that is from Easter until July. The customs officer
said that he had annoyed all the Turks with his stupid haughty manners,
had tried to seduce Turkish women, and – what was worse –
for the boat which brought us from Tenedos he had charged 120 piastres,
although, under cover, he had only paid 80 piastres to the Turkish captain.
He told us that all this was untrue and that we should treat the Turkish
customs officer with disdain for telling us about it and daring to blame
him. Until then we knew nothing about any of this, but it made us think
again about various things that had seemed all right before.
p. 225: 15 September. In the evening, Niebuhr and I, who were the
only ones left on shore, dined with the consul and two Turks, one of
whom was the customs officer. ... We learnt that the allegations about
Mr Paul Zohrab that I mentioned before were all too true. Consul Guise
explained in such detail that we could not doubt it. This was reinforced
to us by the customs officer who dined with us. ... Soon afterwards
we learnt from the Turkish captain that when we lay at the roads outside
Constantinople the same M. Zohrab had tried to persuade him to charge
50 piastres more for our baggage, which the captain would pay to him,
or as they say in Turkish, which he would eat on our cargo.
In the original Danish text, von Haven uses
the abbreviation Mr for the French Monsieur and Hr for the Danish
Herre. In the translation, the first of these is written as M. and
the second as Mr. Both forms were used in referring to Paul Zohrab.
Paul Zohrab is sometimes described as a Drogueman
‘dragoman’ and sometimes as a Tolk ‘interpreter’.
These have both been rendered as ‘dragoman’ in the translation.
Strictly speaking, S.W. von Gähler’s
title was not Ambassador but Envoyé extraordinaire; elsewhere
he is described as Minister and Resident. Von Haven refers to him
as Hr Envoyé and Hr Gesandt. He had been sent to Turkey in
1752 to negotiate a treaty of trade and friendship, which he finally
managed to do in 1756. He returned to Denmark in 1766.
The original text has this gap, indicating
that a surname is missing.. The person referred to was probably
Paul Eremian. The Dutch archives from Smyrna show that he was Danish
dragoman at Constantinople in 1761 and Carsten Niehbuhr described
him as being first dragoman in 1767.
Palaet, literally ‘the palace’.
Buildings housing the foreign embassies in Constantinople were generally
referred to as palaces.
Von Haven goes on to describe their fine clothing
in some detail.
[That is all that von Haven had to say about Paul Zohrab. Clearly
it is only part of the story and the incident does not seem to have
permanently damaged Paul’s career, for in the Europäisches
Genealogisches Handbuch (Leipzig, 1786, pt 2, p. 305) he is listed as
first dragoman at the Danish embassy and is still there in the Almanac
des Ambassades (Brunswick, 1803, p. 38) , with Pierre Eremian as second
dragoman and Jean Eremian as adjoint. Presumably they were relations
of Paul Eremian, who had still been listed as first dragoman in 1782
(Europäisches Genealogisches Handbuch, Leipzig, 1782, pt 2, p.
294). Publications of that type were not necessarily up to date, but
it seems safe to assume that Zohrab succeeded Eremian within a year
or so of 1785. There are other references to a Danish dragoman “M.
Paul”, but it is not clearwhich one is meant.]
Gelting, of the Danish State Archives, also stated in an email dated
18 June 2015, that a "Paul Zohrab was Danish consul in Arta-Saloniki
in the mid-eighteenth century". -- Peter Douglas Zohrab
11 October 2015