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LETTER xxxi        OBSTACLES TO PROGRESS                    337

in this view the reform and enlightenment of the reli-
gion which has such a task before it are of momentous

Islam is "cabined, cribbed, confined." Its forms
of belief and thought and its social and political ideas
remain in the moulds into which they were run at its
rise. Expansion is impossible. The arrogance which
the Koran inculcates and fosters is a dead weight on
progress. If the Turk had any disposition to initiate
and carry out reforms his creed and its traditions would
fetter him. Islam, with its fanaticism, narrowness, ob-
structiveness, and grooviness is really at this moment
the greatest obstacle to every species of advance both
in Turkey and Persia, and its present activity and
renewed proselytising spirit are omens of evil as much
for political and social progress as for the higher life
of men.

The mission houses and schools are on fairly high
ground more than two miles from Van, in what are
known as " the Gardens," where most of the well-to-do
Armenians and Turkish officials reside. These gardens,
filled with vineyards and all manner of fruit trees, extend
for a distance of five miles, and being from two to three
miles wide their mass of greenery has a really beautiful
effect. Among them are many very good houses, and
the roads and alleys by which they are intersected are
well planned with poplars and willows, shading pleasant
streams which supply the water for irrigation.

The view from the roof is a glorious one. Looking
west over the gardens, which are now burning with
autumn tints, the lofty crests of the huge crater of
Mmrud Dagh are always visible across the lake of Van,
intensely blue in the morning, and reddening in the
sunsets of flame and gold. In the evenings too, the
isolated rock on which the castle of Van is built bulks

VOL. II                                                                                  Z