Skip to main content

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

See other formats

IMPRESSIONS        PERSIAN INDEPENDENCE                     251

Shah they willingly owe, and are ready to pay, a right
loyal allegiance.

My impression of the Persians of the trading and
agricultural classes is that they are thoroughly unwarlike,
fairly satisfied if they are let alone, unpatriotic, and
apparently indifferent to the prospect of a Eussian " occu-
pation." Their bearing is independent rather than
manly; their religious feelings are strong and easily
offended; their sociability and love of fun come out
strongly in the freedom of their bazars. Europeans do
not meet with anything of the grovelling deference to
which we are accustomed in India. If there be obsequi-
ousness in stereotyped phraseology, there is none in
manner. We are treated courteously as strangers, but
are made to feel that we are in no wise essential to the
well-being of the country, and a European traveller with-
out introductions to the Provincial authorities finds
himself a very insignificant person indeed.

Governors and the governed are one. They under-
stand each other, and are of one creed, and there is no rul-
ing alien race to interfere with ancient custom or freedom
of action, or to wound racial susceptibilities with every
touch. Even the traditional infamies of administration
are expected and understood by those whom they chiefly

The rich men congregate chiefly in the cities. It is
very rare to find any but the poorer Khans, Aghas or
proprietors of villages, men little removed from the
peasants around them, living on their own properties.
The wealthy Seigneur, the lord of many villages, resides in
Tihran, Kirmanshah, or Isfahan; pays a nasr, who manages
his estate and fleeces his tenants, and spends his revenues
himself on urban pleasures. The purchase of villages
and their surrounding lands is a favourite investment.
This system of absenteeism not only prevents that friendly