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Full text of "Journeys In Persia And Kurdistan ( Vol.Ii)."

250                     JOURNEYS IN PERSIA              FABEWELL

The settled peasant population, so far as I am able to
judge, is well fed and fairly well clothed, and the habita-
tions suit the climate. The people are poor, but not
with the poverty of Europe—that is, except in famine
years, there is no scarcity of the necessaries of life, with
the single exception of fuel.

The wages of the agricultural labourer vary from 5d.
a day with food to 9d. without; a skilled mason earns
Is. 6d., a carpenter Is. 4d. Men-servants get from
17s. to £2 per month, nominally without board, but with
moddkel and other pickings; female servants much less.
Prices are, however, low. Clothing, tea, coffee, and
sugar cost about the same as in Europe. The cotton
worn by the poor is very cheap. "Wheat, which is sold by
weight, costs at harvest-time.from 7s. 6d. to 15s. per load
of 320 Ibs. I have been told by several cultivators that
a man can live and bring up an average family on some-
thing under £6 a year.

I did not see anything like "grinding poverty" in
the villages. If it existed, the old and helpless could
scarcely be supported by their relatives, and the women,
in spite of the seclusion of custom and faith, would be
compelled to work in* the fields, a " barbarism " which I
never saw in Persia among Moslems.

In both town and country the working classes
appeared to me to be as comfortable and, on the whole,
as happy as people in the same condition in life in
most other countries, with the exception, and that not
a small one, of their liability to official exactions. The
peasants are grossly ignorant, hardy, dirty, bigoted,
domestic, industrious, avaricious, sober, and tractable, and
ages of misrule have developed in them many of the
faults of oppressed Oriental peoples. Of the country
outside of the district in which they live they usually
know nothing, they detest the local governors, but to the