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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.