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ambassador approached Tehran, he took care to be absent on a hunting party, to which the former was ordered to repair, while the bag. gage went on to the capital; and, according to orders previously given, was, without exception, lodged in one of the royal warehouses as presents for his majesty, the denomination under which the whole had travelled. The unhappy diplomatist never received back, or dared to claim a single package, aware no doubt of the inutility of such a step, had he even been guiltless of intended fraud. Mirrors, chandeliers, glass-ware, clocks, toys, pictures, cloths, silks, &c. &c. all went to the use of his royal master. The only part he saved of his accumulated European property, was a few trunks of cloths, which had entered the city as belonging to the British chargé d'affaires, and which, consequently, were held sacred.'
They have a poet-laureate in Persia; like Dr. Southey, a clever, gentlemanly, prolific personage. His conversation is exceedingly pleasant, but, like Mr. Coleridge's, rather too much in the way of monologue. He is, moreover, like all Persians, vain of his own merits.' The critics of Iran are unanimous in his favour, and the only difference of opinion relates to the precise rank to be awarded him-whether below or above Ferdousee. This interesting old man' received his European visiters with great cordiality; and among the most pleasant of Mr. Fraser's recollections, seems to be his brief intercourse with Futeh Allee Khan, namesake and poet in ordinary to the king of Persia, Futeh Allee Shah, a monarch made up of a few negatively good qualities, and many positively bad.
His majesty is a rank poltroon, inasmuch as when once compelled, in the early struggle of his fortunes, to take the field against his gallant uncle, Saduek Khan, he kept at a respectful distance from the actual fight; and when a spent ball came rather too near his sacred person, he fell from his horse in a swoon of terror, and was picked up in no very comfortable condition.' He has, beside, a fair portion of that imperial vice, ingratitude, for he tortured to death the man to whom he was indebted for his crown. But avarice is his besetting sin to gratify this, he employs all lawful and unlawful means; and it is one of his highest gratifications, to ⚫ have large trays of golden coins set before him, which he sits counting over and contemplating.' From all this it results, that Persia, where the monarch originates every thing, is miserably opprest. The governors extract all they can from the people, and when they are saturated with wealth, are squeezed dry in their turns by the Shah. Justice is an empty name; personal safety is endangered through the inefficiency of the police; and the entire system and spirit of the government are selfish and illiberal. As a specimen of the terms on which the
people and their rulers live with each other, the following good story is sufficiently illustrative. We suspect that Abdool Rezak might be rather waggishly disposed when he told it, but the moral is the same; the hoax would not have been thought of, had not the known character of the government made it plausible.
• Meerza Abdool Rezak told me that during the time he lodged in a certain town, he was alarmed by the periodical cries of some person who appeared to be undergoing daily a violent beating, and who during the blows called out Amaun!-Amaun!' (mercy! mercy!) I have none!-I have nothing!-Heaven is my witness, I have nothing!' and such like exclamations. He found that the sufferer was an eminent merchant, reputed to be very rich, and who sometime afterwards confessed that he understood the prince or governor had heard of his wealth, and was determined to have a share; but that he, as he well knew that torture would be applied to extort it from him, had determined to habituate himself to endure pain, that he might be able to resist the threatened unjust demands, even if enforced by blows. He had now, he said, brought himself to bear a thousand blows of a stick, and as he was also able to counterfeit great exhaustion, he hoped to be able to bear as many blows as they would venture to give him short of occasioning his death, without conceding any of his money to them.'
When making preliminary inquiries on the subject of his intended journey to Khorasan, Mr. Fraser ascertained that it would be necessary to use extreme circumspection both in his previous arrangements and his consequent movements. The Shah is, it seems, extremely unwilling to indulge strangers with permission to explore the countries to the eastward of Sherauz and Tehran; he is aware that a spirit of discontent exists, and he is conscious that the internal weakness of his realm renders it highly inexpedient to allow a dangerous inspection. It is affirmed, that the assassination of Mr. Browne was by the express order of the king, and that the gold chronometer of that enterprising, but unfortunate traveller, had been traced into the royal keeping. Mr. Fraser, therefore, determined on leaving Tehran without seeking an audience at the palace, assuming the Persian garb, and travelling with the caravans. As an ostensible object, he provided himself with a few packages of commodities suited to the markets of the different countries he intended to visit, not forgetting a stock of medicines, that he might on occasion enact the physician, a character which has often obtained, for the else persecuted Frank, protection and favour. His retinue consisted of five servants, and he engaged as half travelling companion, half interpreter, Meerza Abdool Rezak, a respectable
young Persian, the son of a wealthy and respectable merchant in Ispahan. He had quarrelled with his father and with trade; the first was, he said, tyrannical, and the latter did not suit his literary and negligent babits. He was a good scholar, and, though a Persian, a man of honour and veracity, but his indolent and unsettled temperament spoiled all, and instead of a useful and agreeable associate, made him an incumbrance.
Mushed, the first grand point in Mr. Fraser's present movement, is now the capital of Persian Khorasan, though it was formerly nothing more than a dependency of the ancient city of Toos, now in ruins. It derives a yet higher claim to the admiration of the natives from the possession of the mausoleum and shrine of Imaum Reza, a saint held in the greatest veneration by the sectaries of Ali. The first place of importance reached by Mr. F. on his route, was Semnoon, a town once flourishing and populous, but now exhibiting in its deserted and crumbling tenements, the disastrous visitations of domestic tyranny, and hostile incursion. Our countryman had now reached the scene of Toorkoman foray, and the signs of ravage and precaution were yet visible, though the freebooters had not of late years ventured so far from their own frontier. Damghan was the counterpart of Semnoon, and a disagreeable delay was occasioned by the almost frantic behaviour of a refractory old muleteer. The village of Shahrood presented a more cheering aspect, but the sojourn here, protracted by a false report respecting the movements of a caravan which Mr. F. was hastening to join, caused much embarrassment, and led to injurious consequences. The arrangements made at Tehran had been left to the indolent Meerza, and he had mismanaged every thing; while in addition to the bad effects of his negligence, the principal native servant, Mahomed Allee, having been disappointed, by this interference, of the profit he had expected to derive from the different details of preparation, took revenge for his baffled hopes, by every possible display of bad and malignant temper. Mr. Fraser was now most unpleasantly situated; he had missed the caravan, and although pilgrims and travellers were collecting in sufficient numbers to justify a speedy advance, the dread of the Toorkomans, and incessant reports of recent disaster from their inroads, were continually interfering with the movements of a body made up of individuals who, though they had little relish for slavery and loss of property, had less for fighting. A few brave men were neutralised by their mixture with a mass of cowards. At length the column moved, and, after incessant hesitations, halts, reconnoitrings, and demonstrations, reached the village of Meyomeid, tenanted by a half-savage race, of
whose character Mr. Fraser met with the following unpleasant illustration.
While quietly going out of the gates of the caravanserai, a young fellow who stood by them, with a parcel of stout and long poles in his hand for sale, raised one of them in the air as I passed, and let it fall close before me, as if he would have struck me on the head. I looked astonished, but merely said, Thank you, friend, that's civil, but don't do so again,' and passed on. He laughed and grinned most insolently, calling me Feringhee,' but I said no more. my return, a little after, I found him still in the same place, and he repeated the same action as I passed, the stick falling so close that it nearly grazed my clothes. I then stopped, went up to him, and enquired the meaning of such conduct; on which he aped my manner, and returned me so many insolent airs, that I could not help telling him, if he continued them I should punish him. He, however, not only persisted, but imitated and mocked the anger I shewed, till it rose so high that I hit him a severe blow on the face. He flushed with rage, and instantly seizing one of the poles with both hands, brandished it in the air, and struck me full upon the side, just in the loins, while, not believing that he would dare to use it, I made no guard, so that the blow came down unbroken, with so much force that I nearly fell. I immediately grasped the stick, and nearly wrested it from him, intending to use it upon him; but his companions came to his assistance, and I should have come very ill off, had not my negro servant, John, who was engaged in our chamber, observed the fray, and, rushing like a lion upon my antagonist, grappled with, and struck him so fiercely, that he was nearly borne to the ground. I now again interfered, and my servant, Seyed Allee, coming up with others, the combatants were separated, the fellow still foaming with passion.
• I sent immediately for the Meerza, told him what had occurred, and insisted that the delinquent should be carried before the ketkhodah of the village, and the case fairly stated. By this time the people began to find out that they had been in the wrong, and endeavoured to pacify me, calling the man an ass, a beast, that would not hear reason, not worth my anger: nay, when they saw me determined, and talking even of sending an express to Mahomed Saleh Khan, their governor, they took the stick, and putting it into my hands, begged I would punish him on the spot; but this I refused. I told the culprit that he had insulted a peaceable traveller, and an English gentleman, in the most unprovoked manner, and that the regular and proper mode of proceeding was to state the case to the ket-khodah or reish-suffeed of the village, who ought to punish him for his fault as he saw fit. If he declined so doing, there was no more to be said; but that I should certainly write to Mahomed Saleh Khan by the first opportunity, and they might depend upon it they would not then escape. So saying, I returned to my chamber, and the man was taken to the village. Soon after, a person came from the ket-khodah, to inform me that the man was then undergoing a
severe bastinado, which should be continued until I should desire it to end*. I instantly gave the expected order, adding, that all I required was to convince the people that such proceedings would not be tolerated, and to ensure the safety of English travellers in future. I was assured by the Meerza and my servants, that a sufficient punishment was in reality inflicted on the culprit. The blow I had received was so severe, that I continued in great pain during the remainder of the day, and had reason to fear that its effects would incapacitate me for the long journey that lay before us for the morrow.'
We shall avail ourselves of the slight link of connexion given by the mention of the bastinado, to introduce here an example of the spirit of clanship as existing in the East. A menial servant in the king's household, a native of one of the northern districts of Persia, hearing that his feudal lord had risen in arms against the king, immediately struck work,' giving as his sole reason- The khan is yaghee, (rebellious,) I will be so too.' The bastinado was applied, but ineffectu ally; The khan is yaghee, I will be so too'-was his only reply to menaces or blows. He became, at length, insensible through the severity of his punishment, but in every interval of returning sense, he murmured-' The khan is yaghee, I will be so too,'-until the powers of life gave way.
On the road from Meyomeid, after much alarm and sundry
It is very usual, when punishing a defaulter in Persia, thus tó make the ill-will or revenge of the injured party (when he is a person to whom they desire to shew respect) the measure of the punishment awarded to a criminal who has offended him. I have little hesitation in saying, that it is more to give scope to the gratification of revenge, than for the exercise of better feelings; for it often strikes them with surprise, to see an European totally forego the pleasure of punishing his enemy when in his power. One day, as the late Dr. Jukes, along with the resident at Bushire, and some other English gentlemen, entered the gate of that city, on their way to pay a visit to its governor, an Abyssinian slave, who was there, thought fit, without any provocation, to pour out a torrent of abuse upon them as they passed. The resident fortunately recognised the man, told him he should hear of it, and, when they visited the Sheikh, mentioned the circumstance, begging that such insults to British subjects might be put a stop to. Presently, while drinking their coffee, a loud and long-continued roaring, near the balcony where they were sitting, induced one of the gentlemen to ask the Sheikh if he were punishing any delinquents, and what might be their crime. "Oh!" said the Sheikh, with perfect coolness and unconcern," that's, no doubt, the fellow that insulted you: yes, they will go on bastinadoing him until he die, or you tell them to stop." It may be supposed that the gentlemen, in no small haste, begged that the man might be released.