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

256                       JOURNEYS IN PEESIA               FAREWELL

is regarded as a very able man,—his European travels
have made him to some extent an enlightened one.

His reign of forty-two years has been disfigured,
especially in its earlier portion, by some acts which we
should regard as great crimes, but which do not count as
such in Oriental judgment; neither are the sale of offices,
the taking of bribes under the disguise of presents, the
receiving of what is practically modaJcel, or exactions upon
rich men, repugnant in the slightest degree to the Oriental
mind.

Eernernbering the unwholesome traditions of his
throne and dynasty, we must give him full credit for
everything in which he makes a new departure. Sur-
rounded by intrigue, hampered by the unceasing political
rivalry between England and Russia, thwarted by the
obstructive tactics of the latter at every turn, and with
the shadow of a Russian occupation of the northern pro-
vinces of the Empire looming in a not far distant future,
any step in the direction of reform taken by the Shah
involves difficulties of which the outer world has no
conception, not only in braving the antagonism of
his powerful neighbour, and her attempted interference
with the internal concerns of Persia, but in overcoming
the apathy of his people and the prejudices of his co-
religionists.

As it is, under him Persia has awakened partially from
her long sleep. The state of insecurity described by the
travellers of thirty and forty years ago no longer exists.
Far feebler than Turkey, Persia, through the resolute will
of one man, has eclipsed Turkey altogether in suppressing
brigandage, in subduing the Kurds and other nomadic
tribes, in securing safety for travellers and caravans even
on the remoter roads, and in producing tolerable content-
ment among the Armenian and Nestorian populations.

Under him the authority of the central Government