Treasures of NAASR's Mardigian Library:
From Venice to Boston: The Awgerean Brothers, Hamilton Fish, and Vartan Gregorian
In this Treasures of the NAASR Mardigian Library feature we highlight two titles that are related to each other in both obvious and rather exceptional ways. They are part of the extraordinary body of work of two brilliant brothers from Ankara who became Mekhitarist monks in Venice. They passed through the hands of a noted 19th century American statesman, other unknown owners, and "the savior of the New York Public Library" on their journey to NAASR's Mardigian Library.

We offer this in tribute to all of those who keep the spirit of learning and the love of books alive, from the Mekhitarist Fathers of San Lazzaro to Vartan Gregorian.

Compiled by Ani Babaian and Marc Mamigonian

Title: Ewsebi Pamp‘ileay Kesarats‘woy Zhamanakakank‘ Erkmasneay: Masn A = Eusebii Pamphili Caesariensis Episcopi Chronicon Bipartitum = Եւսեբի Պամփիլեայ Կեսարացւոյ Ժամանակականք երկմասնեայ: Մասն Ա [The Chronicle of Eusebius Pamphilius of Caesarea in Two Parts: Part 1]
Publication Information: I Vēnētik: I Vans Srboyn Ghazaru, 1818
Title: Ewsēbi Pamp‘ileay Kesarats‘woy Zhamanakakank‘ Erkmasneay: Masn B = Eusebii Pamphili Caesariensis Episcopi Chronicon Bipartitum = Եւսեբի Պամփիլեայ Կեսարացւոյ Ժամանակականք երկմասնեայ: Մասն Բ. [The Chronicle of Eusebius Pamphilius of Caesarea in Two Parts: Part 2]
Publication Information: I Vēnētik: I Vans Srboyn Ghazaru, 1818

NAASR Mardigian Library
The older of the publications featured here is a significant Armenian and Latin edition of Eusebius’ Chronicle (Zhamanakakank‘), published in Venice at San Lazzaro in two large (21 cm. x 30 cm.) volumes in 1818. Volume one contains the text of the Chronicle and an index while the second contains detailed canon tables and an index.

Eusebius Pamphili (ca. 260-340 AD) was bishop of Caesarea in Palestine. According to Britannica, “His fame rests on his Ecclesiastical History, which he probably began to write during the Roman persecutions and revised several times between 312 and 324. In this work Eusebius produced what may be called, at best, a fully documented history of the Christian church, and, at worst, collections of passages from his sources.”
The Chronicle was written in Greek, but only fragments of the original Greek text survive. However, it was translated into Armenian in the fifth century. According to Robert Bedrosian, who has translated the Armenian text into English, “Reflecting 5th century Armenia’s multi-lingual cultural milieu, Eusebius’ Chronicle initially was translated into Armenian from the original Greek, then corrected using a Syriac edition. During the same period Eusebius’ other influential work, the Ecclesiastical History, was translated into Armenian from the Syriac. From almost the moment of their translation, Eusebius’ works played an important role in the development of Armenian historical writing.”
Above: pages from volume 1 and volume 2 of Eusebius' Chronicle. Below: a detail from volume 1. The book is a masterpiece of printing and book construction, as evidenced by the high quality of the work done by the Mekhitarist printers.
The 1818 Venice edition was prepared by order of Abbot Stepʻannos Agontsʻ = Ստեփաննոս Ագոնց (1740-1824) by the great Mekhitarist scholar Mkrtich Awgerean = Մկրտիչ Աւգերեան, also known as Jean-Baptiste Aucher (1762-1854), who was the elder of two extraordinary brothers originally from Ankara who became members of the Mekhitarist order and important scholars. Mkrtich’s brother Harut‘iwn = Յարութիւն Աւգերեան, also known as Paschal Aucher (1774-1827), among his many other accomplishments, was also famed as Lord Byron’s Armenian teacher and collaborator. Neither Mkrtich‘ nor Harut‘iwn can be done justice in this short feature but will undoubtedly be highlighted in future installments of Library Treasures.1
In his preface to Armenian readers, Awgerean describes his work as a source of “pride for the Armenians and a surprise gift for the Greeks,” as it is giving back this important Greek text that has been preserved in Armenian. He explains that the source he worked from was a parchment written in excellent boloragir, undated and untitled, written in the period of Nersēs Shnorhali [1102-1173] it seems for use of his brother Grigor III Pahlavuni, because his stamp is there. He also pays tribute to the efforts of Hakob Vardapet Stepanean Erkaneants = Յակոբ Վարդապետ Ստեփանեան Երկանեանց who had earlier translated the text into Latin.
Title: Preces Sancti Nersetis Clajensis Armeniorum Patriarchae; viginti quatuor linguis editae [Prayers of St. Nerses Klajetsi, Patriarch of Armenia: in twenty-four languages]

Publication Information: Venetiis: In Insula S. Lazari, 1837 [2nd edition]

NAASR Mardigian Library, from the collection of Vartan Gregorian
The second title bears the Latin title Preces Sancti Nersetis Clajensis Armeniorum Patriarchae: viginti quatuor linguis editae, and is a small (9 cm. x 15 cm.) volume containing the prayer Hawatov khostovanim = Հաւատով խոստովանիմ (I confess with faith) by Nersēs Shnorhali = Ներսէս Շնորհալի or Nersēs Klajetsi = Ներսէս Կլայեցի, in twenty-four languages, including, of course, Classical Armenian.

In a prefatory piece in Latin appearing only in the first edition, Harut'iwn Awgerean (as Paschalis Aucher) writes that “these prayers, adapted for the common use of the faithful, and divided into as many parts as the day has hours … I, inspired by the examples of others, first into six, then into ten, and then into fourteen, and at last into sixteen different languages I translated. And now in order to fulfill my vow, I offer them translated into twenty-four, in those letters which each language has as its own.”2
First published in 1823, a second edition appeared in 1837 and NAASR’s Mardigian Library has two copies of the second edition. The library’s second copy is a very recent arrival, having been received in November 2021 as part of an important donation of books from the collection of Vartan Gregorian (1934-2021), the late President of the Carnegie Corporation and former President of the New York Public Library and Brown University, for whom the NAASR headquarters building is named.
However, the fraternal connection of the gifted brothers Mkrtich' and Harut'iwn Awgerean is not the end of the connections between these books published in Venice.
While unfortunately we have not found the record of who donated the Eusebius volumes to NAASR, a donation that likely occurred in the 1960s or 1970s, we do know who the original owner of the volumes was and when it was purchased. Inside the front covers is written “Hamilton Fish. New York. Purchased at the Armenian Convent. Venice. Oct. 23, 1857.”
Hamilton Fish (1808-93) in October 1857 was a recently retired U.S. Senator for New York (elected in 1851). Fish was the scion of a prominent New York family, son of a Revolutionary War officer who married a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, the last governor of New Netherlands until it was ceded to the British in 1664. 

Fish was a member of the Whig Party, had previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives (elected in 1842), as Lieutenant Governor of New York (elected 1847), and then as Governor (elected 1848). He served in the Senate until March 1857, and then spent two years in Europe traveling with his family.3 The photograph here, by Matthew Brady, shows Fish around this time.

Fish would later serve as Secretary of State in the administration of Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877). A number of Fish’s descendants distinguished themselves in public service, including his son, grandson, and great-grandson, all bearing the name Hamilton Fish, and all serving in the House of Representatives for the state of New York.
In light of this, imagine our surprise when we recently received the donation of books from the late Vartan Gregorian, opened the copy of Preces Sancti Nersetis Clajensis and found an identical inscription: “Hamilton Fish. New York. Purchased at the Armenian Convent. Venice. Oct. 23, 1857.”
We don’t know how Vartan Gregorian came to have this particular book in his collection, whether he purchased it or if it was given to him; but it is a source of a great pride to us that a man who devoted a considerable part of his life to libraries and books wanted his Armenian books to become part of NAASR’s library. And to be able to reunite books purchased at one of the most important sites of Armenian scholarship and publishing by a distinguished American political figure more than 160 years ago—one might call that a “fish story,” but we are tempted to call it fate.

1 On the Awgereans, see Bazmavēp, special supplement, Aug. 15, 1901, pp. 101-13. Thanks to Sebouh Aslanian for sharing this source.

2 Thanks to John Turner for the Latin translation. Awgerean’s preface takes in the form of an encomium to Alexander Raphael (1775-1850), who was the eldest son of Edward Raphael (aka Edward Raphael Gharamiants), a wealthy Catholic Armenian merchant from Madras, originally from New Julfa, and one of the founders of the Collegio Armeno Moorat-Raphael in Venice. Alexander Raphael would become the Sheriff of London (1834), the first British Armenian elected to Parliament in 1847. For a great deal more about the Raphael family see Liz Chater’s “The Raphaels: In the Shadow of Mexborough” on her "Armenians in India" blog, David A. Kennedy’s “From Madras to Surbiton: Alexander Raphael, Unbeaten Champion, 1775-1850,” and also see Sebouh Aslanian’s “The Cultural Flourishing of the Armenian Communities in India and Around the Indian Ocean and the Development of Their Social and Political Thought in the Eighteenth Century” (in Imprints of a Civilization, edited by Gabriella Uluhogian, Boghos Levon Zekiyan, and Vartan Karapetian, 2011) and his forthcoming Early Modernity and Mobility: Port Cities and Printers Across the Armenian Diaspora, 1512-1800.

3 See Amos Elwood Corning, Hamilton Fish (Lamere Publishing Company, 1918)
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