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

258                      JOUENEYS IN PERSIA               FAREWELL

office of which slander, bribery, or intrigue at Court may
at any moment deprive him, it is natural that the most
coveted positions should be those in which the largest
perquisites can be made, and that their occupants should
feel it their bounden duty to " make hay while the sun
shines,"—in other words, to squeeze the people so long as
there is anything left to squeeze. The great drawback
of the Persian peasant's life is that he has no security
for the earnings of labour. He is the ultimate sponge to
be sucked dry by all above him. Every official squeezes
the man below him, and the highest is squeezed by the
Crown.

Little, if any, of the revenue drawn from the country
is spent on works of public utility, and roads, bridges,
official buildings, fortifications, and all else are allowed to
fall into disrepair. In downright English the administra-
tion of government and law is execrable, and there can
be little hope of a resurrection for Persia until the system
under which she is impoverished be reformed or swept
away.

But who is to cleanse this Augean stable ? Who will
introduce the elementary principles of justice ? -Are tools
of the right temper to work with to be found among
the men of this generation ? Is the dwarfing and narrow-
ing creedl of Islam to be replaced or in any way to be

1 In The Caliphate, its Rise, Decline, and Fall, a valuable recent
work, its author, Sir W. Muir, K. C.S.I., dwells very strongly on the
narrowing influence of Islam on national life, and concludes his review of
it in the following words: " As regards the spiritual, social, and dogmatic
aspect of Islam, there has been neither progress nor material change.
Such as we found it in the days of the Caliphate, such is it also at the
present day. Christian nations may advance in civilisation, freedom, and
morality, in philosophy, science, and the arts, but Islam stands still.
And thus stationary, so far as the lessons of its history avail, it will
remain." In a chapter at the end of his book he deals with polygamy,
servile concubinage, temporary marriages, and the law of divorce, as
cankering the domestic life of Mohammedan countries, and
neutralising all civilising influences.