LETTER xxv EUSSIA AND ENGLAND 199 ascendency in Asia. England, he argued, made a great mistake in not annexing Afghanistan, and his opinion, he said, was shared by all educated Persians. " You are a powerful nation," he said, " but very slow. The people, who know nothing, have too much share in your govern- ment. To rule in Asia, and you are one of the greatest of Asiatic powers, one must not introduce Western theories of government. You must be despotic and prompt, and your policy must not vibrate. See here now, the Shah dies, the Zil-i-Sultan disputes the succession with the Crown Prince, and in a few days Eussia occupies Azir- bijan with 200,000 men, captures Tihran, and marches on Isfahan. Meanwhile your statesmen talk for weeks in Parliament, and when Eussia has established her prestige and has organised Persia, then your fleet with a small army will sail from India! Bah! No country ruled by a woman will rule in Asia." In the evening the Jcetchuda and two other Persian- speaking Kurds hovered so much about my tent that I invited them into the verandah, and had a long and pleasant talk with them, finding them apparently frank and full of political ideas. They complained fiercely of grinding exactions, which, they said, " keep men poor all their lives." " The poorest of men," they said, " have to pay three tumans (£1) a year in money, besides other things; and if they can't pay in money the tax-gatherer seizes their stock, puts a merely nominal value upon it, sells it at its real value, and appropriates the difference/' They did not blame the Shah. "He knows nothing." They execrated the governors and the local officials,1 If 1 The truth is that since Persia broke the power of the Kurds ten years ago, at the time of the so-called Kurdish invasion, she has kept a somewhat tight hand over them, and her success in coercing them indi- cates pretty plainly what Turkey, with her fine army, could do if she were actually in earnest in repressing the disorder and chronic insecurity in Turkish Kurdistan.