“Arriving in Venice in 1816, I, as probably all other travelers, was greatly impressed by the community of St. Lazarus, which seems to unite all the advantages of a monastic institution while not possessing any of its vices.
Purity, comfort, meekness, unfeigned piety, the talents, and virtues of the brothers of the order are capable of instilling a secular person the conviction that there is another, better world, even in this life.
These people are the clergymen of an enslaved but grateful nation that has been subjected to exile and oppression on a par with Jews and Greeks but has brought out of it neither the bitterness of the former nor the servility of the latter.
This nation has acquired wealth without resorting to usury, as well as acquired all the honors that can be bestowed upon one who is enslaved without intrigue…
It would be difficult, perhaps, to find chronicles of a nation less stained by crimes than the chronicles of the Armenians, whose virtues were peaceful and the vices were the result of oppression.
But whatever their fate is to be – and it will be sad no matter what waits for them in the future – their country should always remain one of the most interesting on the whole globe. And their very language, perhaps, merely requires more research in order to gain more and more attractiveness…
If the scripture is correctly interpreted, then paradise was located precisely in Armenia, which also paid dearly like Adam’s descendants for the fleeting participation of its soil in the bliss of the one who was created from its dust. There, the water began to subside after the flood, and a dove flew out.
But nearly with the disappearance of paradise, the misfortunes of the country began because, even though it was for a long time a powerful kingdom, it was rarely independent; The Persian satraps and Turkish pashas equally contributed to the destruction of the region where God had created the man in his own image and likeness.
For fun, I am studying Armenian daily in the Armenian monastery. I found that I had to occupy my mind with something difficult, so I chose the hardest thing that could fill my leisure time and forced myself to concentrate. By the way, this rich language will more than reward anyone who takes the trouble to study it.
I try to do it and intend to continue, but I can’t vouch for anything – neither for my successes, nor for the fulfillment of my aspirations. In this monastery, there are some most curious manuscripts and books, there are also translations from lost Greek originals, as well as from Persian, Assyrian, and others, besides the writings of the authors of their people.”
Venice, December 5, 1816