188 JOURNEYS IN PERSIA LETTER xxv possible not to enjoy the long gallops over the stoneless soil, the crisp, bracing air, the pure blue of the glittering sky, and the changed altitude of the sun, which, from having been my worst foe is now a genial friend. True, the country over which I pass is not interesting, but, as everywhere in Persia, craggy mountains are in sight, softened by a veil of heavenly blue, and the country, though uninteresting, suggests pleasant thoughts of fertility, an abundant harvest, and an industrious and fairly prosper- ous people.1 Turki is now almost exclusively spoken. The whole of that day's route was an ascent, and the halting-place was nearly 9000 feet in altitude. I crossed the Sarakh river by a three-arched brick bridge, and after- wards the Gardan-i-Tir-Machi, from which there is an extensive view, and reached Geokahaz by a rough path on the hillside frequently dipping into deep gulches, now dry. The wettest of these is close to the village, and is utilised for a flour-mill. Springs abound, and as Persian soil brings forth abundantly wherever there is water, the village, which is Kurdish, confessed to being extremely prosperous. Its seven threshing-floors were in the full tide of winnowing with the fan, and so complete is the process that nothing but the wheat is left on the firm, 1 The general verdict of travellers in Persia is, that misrule, heavy taxation, the rapacity and villainy of local governors, and successive famines have reduced its small stationary population to a condition of pitiable poverty and misery, and this is doubtless true of much of the country, and of parts of it which I have traversed myself. But I can only -write of things as I found them, and on this journey of 300 miles from Hamadan to Urmi I heard comparatively little grumbling. Many of the villages are contented with their taxation and landlords, in others there are decided evidences of prosperity, and everywhere there is abundance of material comfort, not according to our ideas, but theirs. As to clothing and food, the condition of the cultivators of that part of western Persia compares favourably with that of the rayats in many parts of India. But just taxation and a complete reform in the administration of justice are needed equally by the prosperous and unprosperous parts of Persia.