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

IMPEESSIONS                  NASR-ED-DIN                               255

which is based upon the Koran, and is administered by
religious teachers, takes cognisance chiefly of civil cases,
and its administration is nearly as corrupt as that of the
Urf. Law, in the sense in which we understand it, as the
avenger of wrong and the sublimely impartial protector
of individual rights and liberties, has no existence at all
in Persia.

The curse of the country is venal mal-administration.
It meets one at every turn, and in protean shapes.
There is no official conscience, and no public opinion
to act as a check upon official unscrupulousness. Of
Government as an institution for the good of the
governed there is no conception. The greed, which is
among the most painful features of Persian character,
finds its apotheosis in officialism. From the lowest to
the highest rounds of the official ladder unblushing
bribery is the inodus operandi of promotion.

It is very obvious that the Shah himself is the
Government. He is an absolute despot, subject to no
controlling influences but the criticisms of the European
press, and the demands of the European Legations. He
is the sole executive. His ministers are but servants of
the highest grade, whose duties consist in carrying out
his orders. The lives and properties of all his subjects
are held only at his pleasure. His sons are but his tools,
to be raised or degraded at his will, and the same may
be said of the highest personages in the Empire. The
Shah is the State,—irresponsible and all-powerful.

Nasr-ed-Din is a most diligent ruler. No pleasures,
not even the chase, to which he is devoted, divert his
attention from business. He takes the initiative in
all policy, guides with a firm hand the destinies of
Persia, supervises every department, appoints directly to
all offices of importance, and by means known to absolute
rulers has his eyes in every part of his dominions. He