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Full text of "Historical and descriptive account of Persia, from the earliest ages to the present time: with a detailed view of its resources, government, population, natural history, and the character of its inhabitants, particularly of the wandering tribes; including a description of Afghanistan and Beloochistan"

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UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 

by 

The Harris Family 



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PERSIA. 




HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE 
ACCOUNT OF 

PERSIA, 

FROM THE 

EARLIEST AGES TO THE PRESENT TIME : 

WITH 

A DETAILED VIEW OF ITS RESOURCES, GOVERNMENT, 
POPULATION, NATURAL HISTORY, AND THE CHAR- 
ACTER OF ITS INHABITANTS, PARTICULARLY 
OF THE WANDERING TRIBES : 

INCLUDING A DESCRIPTION OF 

AFGHANISTAN AND BELOOCHISTAN. 

BY 

JAMES B. FRASER, ESQ., 

Author of " Travels in Khorasan" " A Tour through the Himald" 
&c. &c, 

ILLUSTRATED BY A MAP AND SEVERAL ENGRAVINGS. 




NEW-YORK . 

PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS, 
NO. 82 CLIFF-STREET. 

18 34. 



D5 




PREFACE. 



In undertaking to describe so extensive and cele- 
brated a region as the Persian empire, the author 
is by no means insensible to the difficulty of the 
task on which he enters. The subject is wide and 
intricate, while the sources of information are fre- 
quently imperfect or obscure ; but it has been his 
study, by adopting a distinct arrangement, and by 
consulting the best authorities, to present his read- 
ers with a correct and complete picture of that in- 
teresting portion of Western Asia. 

His personal acquaintance with many parts of the 
country has afforded him material assistance in de- 
scribing its aspect, productions, and inhabitants ; 
and he has availed himself of the observations of 
the greater number of modern travellers, both to 
correct his own opinions, and to supply additional 
facts. 

The advantage of this actual knowledge has been 
especially important in constructing the map ; and, 
it is proper to remark, a very considerable differ- 
ence will be found between the positions of many 
of the principal places, as given in that now sub- 
A2 



6 



PREFACE, 



mitted to the public, compared with all other geo- 
graphical delineations of Persia, These corrections 
have been made in accordance with a series of as- 
tronomical observations taken by the author, the 
details of which may be found in his <l Travels in 
Khorasan," and " On the Banks of the Caspian 
Sea ;" and every precaution has been adopted to lay 
down the whole of the countries described in this 
work with the greatest possible accuracy. . The 
route which the author pursued is distinctly marked, 
and may be satisfactory to some readers, as showing 
the districts to which such of his descriptions as 
are founded on personal survey more particularly 
apply. 

The fountains from which the ancient history of 
Persia is derived are generally well known ; but, 
in drawing from them on this occasion, the most 
earnest endeavours have been made to elucidate the 
subject, by examining into the opinions of every 
distinguished writer down to the present time. The 
greater part of the narrative, subsequently to the 
Mohammedan invasion, is taken from the pages of 
Sir John Malcolm, whose volumes are now every- 
where regarded as a standard authority in this de- 
partment. 

In his account of the religion of Zoroaster, the 
author has trusted principally to three sources : 
First, To the works of Anquetil du Perron, whose 
persevering zeal has accomplished a translation of 
those curious relics of Magian lore entitled the Zen- 
davesta, and explored every source of ancient and 
modern literature calculated to throw light upon the 



PREFACE 



7 



subject ; secondly, To the writings of the ingenious 
Abbe Foucher, who has examined it with great cri- 
tical ability ; and, thirdly, To the less voluminous, 
but most perspicuous and conclusive disquisitions of 
Mr, William Erskine, who, in addition to his accu- 
rate knowledge of European learning, has brought 
to the investigation an intimate acquaintance with 
oriental languages, and the advantage of a familiar 
intercourse with some very intelligent Parsee doc- J 
tors. The labours of these three gentlemen appear 
to have exhausted the subject, so far as materials 
for inquiry or conjecture are considered. 

In describing the antiquities of Persia, the au- 
thor has corrected and enlarged his own observa- 
tions by the accounts of other travellers ; among 
whom, Chardin and Niebuhr at an earlier period, 
and Sir Robert Ker Porter and Morier in our own 
day, will be found to give the amplest and most 
accurate details. 

In all that relates to the nature and resources of 
the government, the classification and character of 
the people, to the wandering tribes, and, in short, 
the substance- of the eighth, ninth, and tenth chap- 
ters, the author has not trusted to his own resources 
alone, but has converted to his use many original 
materials, furnished upon the spot by persons in 
ever} 7 way qualified to afford the best information. 
For this reason he believes that these chapters will 
be found to contain a considerable mass of new and 
very interesting matter. 

For the account of Afghanistan, he is principally 
indebted to the valuable work of Mr. Elphinstone, 



8 



PREFACE. 



the correctness of which, so far as he had it in his 
power to inquire, was m every instance confirmed - 
The latter part of the history, from, the dethrone- 
ment of Shah Sujah ul Mulk, including the adven- 
tures of Futeh Khan, the vizier, is abridged from a 
statement of facts communicated to the author 
while in Khorasan. 

The scientific notice contained in the twelfth 
chapter, is entirely furnished from observations 
made by him while he employed his leisure in col- 
lecting a number of specimens for the Geological 
Society of London. A more extended account of 
the geognostical relations and mineralogy of Persia 
is greatly to be desired. In a climate so little differ- 
ent from that of contiguous countries, no great no- 
velty was to be expected in the natural productions. 
But a short account of the principal animals and 
vegetables is given, in which such as are in any re- 
spect remarkable have received particular notice. 

it remains to speak of the decorations of the 
volume. These, with one exception, — the portrait 
of Abbas Mirza, which by permission was taken from 
the excellent picture by Sir Robert Ker Porter, — 
are engraved from drawings taken on the spot by 
the author. They were chosen from an extensive 
collection, more with the view of illustrating the 
text and conveying characteristic ideas of the coun- 
try, than for producing a merely picturesque effect. 

London, August, 1833. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PERSIA. 
Political Character of the Persian Empire— Appellation of Persia un- 
known to its Inhabitants— Whence derived— Boundaries indefinite— 
Those of Modern Persia described— Nature of the Country— Most re- 
markable Features— Mountains— Rivers— Deserts— Aspect of the 
Country— Of the Cities— Bazaars Page 15 

CHAPTER It 

ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 

Provinces— Fars— Its Nature— Shiraz— Province of Laristan— Of Kuzls- 
tan — Dorak— Shuster — Shus, the ancient Susa or Shushan — Province 
of Irak— Its Aspect and Condition— Ispahan— Cashan— Koom— Tehe' 
ran — Casbin— Sultanieh— Hamadan— Kermanshah— Yezd — Kurdistan 
— Province of Ardelan — Province of Azerbijan — Lake Shahee— Mar- 
agha— Ardebil— Tabriz— Shores of the Caspian Sea— Province of Ghilan 
— OfMazunderan— Saree and Furrahbad — Fisheries on the Caspian — 
Province of Astrabad— Palace of Ashruff— Province of Khorasan — 
Mushed and its Shrine— Meru— Districts to the South— Herat— Prov- 
ince of Kcrnmn— City— Gombroon— Province of Seistan— Of Mekran — 
Divisions — Beloochistan — Character of its Population — Travels of 
Christie and Pottinger— Mekran Proper— Its Inhabitants— Climate 27 

CHAPTER III. 

ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA, 

Early History wrapped in Fable— Sources entitled to Credit— Shah Na- 
meh — Prose Histories— Assyrian Empire overthrown by the Medes — 
Early History according to the Dabistan — According to Mohammedan 
Authors— Paishdadian Dynasty— Conquest of Persia by Zohauk— Re- 
volt of Kawah— Feridoon— Kayanian Dynasty— Kei Kobad— Perplex- 
ity of the Subject — Conquest of Persia by Cyrus — Uncertainty of his 
History— Darius I.— His Career— Probably the Gushtasp of the Per- 
sians— Darius Codomanus— His History according to Greek and Per- 
sian Writers— Anecdotes of Alexander the Great— Death of Darius- 
Parthian Dynasty— Obscurity of the Period— Character of their Empire 
—Overturned by Ardeshir Babegan, first of the Sassanians— History 



14 



CONTENTS. 



of that Dynasty— Defeat of Valerian by Shapoor— Baharam Gour- 
Nooshirwan— Khoosroo Purveez— Rise of Islamism— Irruption of the 
first Mohammedans— Overthrow of the Empire, and Death of Yez- 
dijird 73 



CHAPTER IV. 



ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 

Great Antiquity of the ancient Religion of Persia— Sabian Origin— Gene- 
ral Doctrines of the Zendavesta— Other Sacred Books — Dabistan and 
Dessateer— Doubts of their Authenticity — Zoroaster— Opinions regard- 
ing him— Mission— Doctrines of the Zendavesta— First great Princi- 

j pie — Principles of Light and Darkness— Formation of the Universe — 
Ferohers— Good and Evil Angels— First Man— Struggles between the 
Good and Evil Principles — Resurrection and Judgment of Mankind- 
Doctrines and Practice of the modern Ghebres or Parsees 103 



CHAPTER V. 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 
Antiquities divisible into two Classes — First Class— Persepolis described 
— The Tombs of the Kings — Opinions regarding the Ruins — Istakhar — 
Cuneiform Inscriptions— Deciphered (?)— Mourghab— Musjed e Madre 
Solyman— The Tomb of Cyrus— Bessittoon— Ecbatana — Second Class 
— Sassanian Monument?— Tauk e Bostam— The Work of Ferhaud— 
Khoosroo and Shireen— Shapoor and its Sculptures — Statue there— 
Nak6h e Roosturn and Naksh e Rejib 121 



CHAPTER VI. 



HISTORY FROM THE FALL OF THE SASSANIDES TO THE RISE 

OF THE SUFFAVEAN DYNASTY. 

Completion of the Mohammedan Conquest — Jacob ibn Leith— Amer — 
Dynasty of the Samanides— Of the Dilemites— The Ghiznevides— The 
House of Seljuk— Togrul— Alp Arslan— Malek Shah, and Nizam ul 
Mulk— Sanjar — The Attabegs— Account of Hussun Subah and the 
Assassins— Invasion and Conquest of Zingis Khan — Hoolaku and his 
Successors — Timur — His History — Conquests — Death— Succes- 
sors 153 



CHAPTER VII. j 

FROM THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEANS TO THE PRESENT TIME. 

Sheik Suffee u Dien— Sudder u Dien— Origin of the Kuzzilbash Tribes- 
Sultan Hyder— Shah Ismael— Shah Tamasp— First accredited Envoy 
from England— Shah Abbas the Great— Anecdote— The Shirleys— 
Sir Dodmore Cotton— Character of Abbas— Shah Suffee— Abbas II.— 
Shah Solyman— Shah Hussein— Rebellion of Meer Vais — Invasion of 
Persia by Mahmoud Ghiljee— Siege, Famine, and Fall of Ispahan- 
Abdication of Hussein— Atrocities committed by the Afghans— Death 
of Mahmoud— Succeeded by Ashruff— Rise of" Nadir Kouli— He is 



CONTENTS. 



11 



crowned at Mogan — Conquest of India— Subsequent Crimea and Fate 
—Troubles after his Death — Kureem Khan — Struggles between the 
Zand and Kujur Tribes for the Throne — Terminate in Favour of Aga 
Mohammed Khan Kujur— His Character and Fate— Accession of 
Futeh Ali Shah— Principal Events of his Reign— War and Treaty of 
Peace in 1828 with Russia— Murder of Mr. GrebayadofT— Expedition 
of the Prince Royal into Khorasan— Probable Downfall of the Kujur 
Dynasty 172 



CHAPTER VIII. 

RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA, */ 

Persia over-estimated as a Nation — Causes of this — Roads of Persia — 
Population — Commerce — Exports— Imports — Sources of Revenue — 
Land-taxes and Tenures — Irregular Taxes — Amount of Revenue— Ex- 
penditure — Military Resources and Establishment— Character of the 
Government— King absolute — Civil and Criminal Law — Vicious and 
improvident System of Collection— Illustrations — Character of the 
reigning Monarch— Duties and usual Occupations 204 



CHAPTER IX. j 

PRESENT STATE OF RELIGION, SCIENCE, AND LITERATURE 
IN PERSIA. 

Sect of the Sheahs— Their Doctrines— Persians zealous Sheahs— Mo- 
hammedanism on the Decline— Causes — Suffeeism, or Freethinking 
—Principles and Tenets of the Suffees— Various Classes— Sciences 
taught and professed in Persia — Fine Arts — Literature — Persian 
Poetry — Its Character— Ferdusi— Sadi— Hafiz— Abdul Rahman Jami 
—Other Poets 232 



CHAPTER X. 



DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE, 

Classes of the Population— Courtiers and Officers of State— Their pre- 
carious Condition— Gholams— Inhabitants of Towns— Merchants — 
Ecclesiastical Order — Husbandmen — Women — The Royal Harem — 
Occupations— Wandering Tribes— Indigenous— Arabian— Turkish- 
Kurdish— Characters and Anecdotes of these Tribes— Turkoman 
Tubes—General Character of the People— Their Manners and Cus- 
toms 249 



CHAPTER XI. 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN, 

Boundaries of Afghanistan— Divisions— Hindoo-Coosh— Solyman Ranga 
—Cabul—Candahar— Daman— Aspect of the Country— Origin of the 
Afghans— Construction and internal Government of the Tribes- 
Usages of the Afghans— Hospitality— Character and Disposition— 
Dress— Division of the Tribes, and Account of the principal Ones— 



12 



CONTENTS. 



Cities— Candahar — Ghizni— Cabul— Peshawer— Rise of the Doordnee 
MouarcLv— Ahmed Shah— Timur Shah— Shah Zenian— Mahrnoud— 
Sujah ul Mulk-Fate of Futeh Khan 291 

CHAPTER XII. 

NATURAL HISTORY OF PERSIA. 

Geology of Persia— Knowledge of it limited — Table-land — Islands — 
Primitive Mountains between Ispahan and Teheran— Turquoise Mines 
of ELburz Mountains — Mineralogy of the Country almost unknown — 
Iron, Copper, and Lead Ores— Rock-salt — Sulphur— Vegetable Pro- 
ductions— Animals— Arabian Horses— The Ass — Mule — Camel— Cow 
— Sheep — Dogs— Wild Animals— Lion— Tiger— Hyena — Wolf— Jackal 
—Red-deer— Wild hog— Mountain Goat and Mountain Sheep— Birds 
of Prey— Eagle, Vulture, Hawk— Game-birds— Bustard, Partridge, 
Quail— Fishes— Reptiles— Insects 331 



ENGRAVINGS. 



Map of Persia To face the Vigiiette. 

Vignette— View of the Palace and Garden of the Fountain at Ash- 
ruff, near Astrabad. 

Shiraz, from the Pass of Tungeh Ali Akbar Page 29 

View of the Mausoleum of Imam Reza, and part of the Sahn (or Great 

Square) at Mushed 59 

Ground-plan of Persepolis 122 

View of the Ruins of Persepolis, from near the Tombs of the Kings. . 123 

Mausoleum of Shah Meer Humza at Shiraz 191 

Portrait of Abbas Mirza , 201 

An Imamzadeh, or Tomb of a Descendant of an Imam, near Saree in 
Mazunderan 235 



AN 



HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE 

ACCOUNT 

OF 

PERSIA. 



CHAPTER L 

General Description of Persia. 

Political Character of the Persian Empire— Appellation of Persia un 
known to its Inhabitants— Whence derived — Boundaries indefinite- 
Those of Modern Persia described — Nature of the Country — Most re- 
markable Features — Mountains ~ Rivers — Deserts — Aspect of the 
Country— Of the Cities— Bazaars. 

Of all the mighty empires which have flourished in the 
East, that of Persia is undoubtedly one of the most remark- 
able and the most celebrated. Enduring through a succes- 
sion of vicissitudes almost unparalleled for more than two 
thousand five hundred years, — by turns the prey of foreign 
enemies and the sport of internal revolution, yet ever sub- 
jected to despotic rule, — alternately elevated to the summit 
of glory and prosperity, and plunged into misery and degra= 
dation, — she has, from the earliest period of her existence, 
either been the throne of the lords of Western Asia, or the 
arena on which monarchs have disputed for the sceptre of 
the East. Poor and comparatively limited in extent, the 
more warlike of her sovereigns enriched themselves and en- 
larged their dominions by the most brilliant conquests ; while 
under timid and pacific princes not only did her acquisitions 
crumble away, but her own provinces were frequently sub- 



16 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PERSIA. 



dued by bolder and more rapacious neighbours. Thus her 
boundaries were continually fluctuating with the characters 
of her monarchs. But it is not so much our object to write 
the history of the great Persian empire, as to give an outline 
of the annals of the country properly so called, and to place 
before the reader a description of its most remarkable fea- 
tures. 

The appellation of Persia is unknown to its inhabitants, 
by whom that region of Asia included between the rivers 
Tigris and Oxus is named Iran, — a designation derived from 
Eerij, the youngest male child of their celebrated king Feri- 
doon. According to tradition, that monarch, at the termina- 
tion of a long and glorious reign, divided his dominions 
among his three sons. To Selm he gave all the possessions 
comprehended in modern Turkey. On Toor he bestowed 
the wild and extensive plains of Tartary, including all the 
lands beyond the Oxus, which have ever since by the Per- 
sians been denominated Tooran ; while the remaining terri- 
tory, bounded as we have said, fell to the share of his young- 
est and favourite son Eerij. 

The most ancient name of the country is by some, upon 
Scriptural authority, held to be Elam ; but that sovereignty, 
it is probable, embraced only a small part of Persia, having 
been confined to Susiana, or Kuzistan and Louristan, with a 
portion of the contiguous districts lying upon the Tigris. * 
The Paras of Scripture, the Persis of the Greeks, and the 
Persia of modern times, are all obviously derived from Fars, 
a term applied to one of the southern provinces. 

As its natural limits, this kingdom has on its south the 
Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf ; the river Tigris on the 
south-west and west ; on the north the Aras, which divides 
it from Armenia, Georgia, and the province of Karabaug, the 
Caspian Sea, and an indefinite line in the desert that sepa- 
rates Persian Khorasan from the oases of Kharism and the 
territories of Bokhara and Balkh. A like uncertainty pre- 
vails on the east, where the district of Herat and the prov- 
inces of Seistan and Beloochistan blend with the mountains 
of Afghanistan ; but, in fact, the whole of Cabul is described 
by some geographers as belonging to Persia, which is thereby 
made to advance eastward to the Attok, and become conter- 
minous with India. 



* D'Anville ; Vincent's Nearchua 



GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PERSIA. 17 



This extensive region, which occupies a space of more 
than twenty-five degrees of longitude by fifteen of latitude, 
exhibits, as may be imagined, great diversity of surface, cli- 
mate, and productions. " My father's kingdom," says the 
younger Cyrus to Xenophon, " is so large that people perish 
with cold at one extremity, while they are suffocated with 
heat at the other," — a description, the truth of which can be 
well appreciated by those who, having gasped for a season on 
the burning sands of the Dushtistan, have in one short month 
been pinched by the numbing cold of the northern provinces. 
This vast expanse, forming an elevated table-land, rises from 
a lower plane, and is interspersed with numerous clusters of 
hills, chains of rocky mountains, and barren deserts. 

The lower ground, under the name of the Dushtistan, or 
level country, stretches along the foot of the hills on the 
coast of the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, exhibiting a 
succession of narrow sandy wastes, where the eye is occa- 
sionally relieved by a dark plantation of date-trees and a few 
patches of corn, in such places as are blessed with a fresh- 
water rivulet or a copious well. On the banks of the Tigris 
this tract becomes more fertile, and Kuzistan was once cele- 
brated for its rich productions. Between the Elburz Moun- 
tains and the Caspian Sea we again find a flat country ; but 
there it wears an aspect of the greatest luxuriance and 
beauty, until it is lost in the desert which stretches away to 
the plains of Tartary. 

The space between these low districts comprehends the 
more elevated plateau, which reaches a height varying from 
2500 to 3500 feet above the sea. From this the mountains 
rise to different altitudes, seldom, however, exceeding 7000 
or 8000 feet, and sometimes including between their ranges 
valleys of corresponding dimensions, though in other cases 
they seem rather like islands in the immense plain. 

The most remarkable features of Persia are its chains of 
rocky mountains, its long, arid, riverless valleys, and the 
still more extensive salt or sandy deserts. There is a very 
magnificent range which, striking off from the Caucasus, ac- 
companies the course of the Georgian river Kour ; crosses 
it to the west of the plains of Mogan ; covers Karabaug and 
Karadaug with a gloomy assemblage of black peaks ; and 
from Ardebil runs parallel with the southern shore of the 
Caspian Sea to Astrabad. From thence, in an easterly di- 
rection, it passes to the north of Mushed, throwing numerous 



18 



GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PERSIA. 



spurs to the southward ; and, branching into the highlands 
of the Hazaras and Balai Mourghab, stretches by the south 
of Balkh into the remote province of Badakshan. Here it 
is lost in that great alpine tract north of Cabul, which is con- 
tinuous with the Hmdoo-Coosh and Himmaleh, and whence 
the largest rivers of Asia take their rise. 

This immense chain, which extends unbroken for more 
than twenty degrees of longitude, sends forth everywhere a 
multitude of branches, that in some places sink into the 
great salt deserts and sandy plains on the east of Persia, and 
elsewhere connect themselves with other elevations. Of 
these the Sahund Mountains, striking off from the lake Uru- 
meah. in a north-eastern direction, spread themselves in 
various clusters through Azerbijan. Another, running south 
and south-eastward from the junction of the Caufilan Koh 
and Kurdistan ranges, was known to the ancients under the 
name of Mount Zagros. It divides ancient Assyria from 
Media, and. splitting into a confused mass of ridges and val- 
leys in Kurdistan, continues under the appellation of the Lou- 
ristan and Buchtiaree Mountains, till, traversing Fars, it 
stretches along the Persian Gulf, at various distances from 
the sea, as far as Gombroon. There it disappears for a 
space ; but, rising again in the south of Kerman, it passes 
on towards the east, through the centre of Mekran and Be- 
loochistan, until it finally sinks into the deserts of Sinde, or 
is lost in the high grounds which diverge from the mountains 
of Afghanistan. 

These are the principal stocks from whence arise the mul- 
titude of ramifications that cover the surface of Persia with 
a network, as it were, of rocky lines ; and among which are 
to be found a system of plains and valleys differing in size 
and productiveness according to the nature and climate of 
their respective districts. Wherever water abounds they 
are fertile ; but moisture is the boon of which nature is least 
liberal in Persia. " From the mouths of the Indus to those 
of the Karoon and Euphrates/' says Sir John Malcolm, " a 
tract extending in length a distance of more than twenty 
degrees, cannot boast of one river that is navigable more 
than a few miles from the ocean.''* Even streamlets are 
rare, and cultivation is consequently very limited. 

* Macdonald Kinneir crossed four rivers in his route from Bushire to 
Endian, one of them sixty yards across, though not more than four feet 

deep. 



GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PERSIA. 19 



As the Teer or Tigris forms one of these boundaries, it 
cannot, although necessarily a benefit to Persia, be properly 
considered as belonging to that country. But there are sev- 
eral fine tributaries which fall into it from the Buchtiaree 
Mountains, from Louristan and Kurdistan. Of these the 
principal are the Karoon, supposed by D'Anville to be the 
Choaspes or Eulaeus of Herodotus, the Ulai of Sacred Writ, 
which rises in the Koh e Zurd, near Ispahan ; the Kerah or 
Karasu, which has its origin in the province of Ardelan, and 
by which Macdonald Kinneir thinks the Choaspes is more ac- 
curately represented ; the Shat ul Hud, pronounced by the 
same author to be the Gyndes ; the Tab, the ancient Arosis, 
which, springing from the mountains of Fars, flows past the 
ruins of Shapoor and the present town of Endian, to Bunder 
Deelem, near the head of the Persian Gulf ; and the greater 
and lesser Zab, the Caprus and Zabelus of antiquity, both 
of which have their sources in the range of Gordoan, or 
Zagros. The Aras, the Araxes of classical writers, although 
also forming one of the boundaries we have assigned to 
Persia, derives a large portion of its waters from the moun- 
tains of Kurdistan ; and the salt lake of Urumeah or Shahee 
receives from the same hills a number of streams, of which 
the Jugattee is perhaps the largest, being upwards of 200 
paces wide, fifty-three miles above its mouth, near Maragha. 
The river which runs by Selmas is alone navigable, and that 
only for boats, and for a very short distance. 

The northern provinces, bordering upon the Caspian Sea, 
are as remarkable for the multitude of their streams as the 
rest of the country is for its aridity ; but they are for the 
most part mere torrents, sometimes scarcely trickling over a 
stony bed, at others foaming along, and tearing up every 
thing in their course. Of these, the Kizzelozzeen, the 
Herirood, which flows through Amol, and the Tedjen, which 
passes Saree, in Mazunderan, are the largest. 

In the eastern provinces may be mentioned the Helmind 
or Heermund, the Etymander of the ancients, and the Fur- 
rahrood, both of which run into the salt lake of Zerrah, in 
Seistan. The first is a noble river, 400 yards broad, an'd 
deep and clear at Poolkee, where it was crossed by Captain 
Christie. ■ The second, which has its rise in the hills north- 
east of Furrah, is much smaller. The Herirood, which 
flows past Herat, unites with the Tedjen, and, being joined 
by the Mourghab from the Balai Mourghab, waters the oasis 



20 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PERSIA. 



of Meru Shah Jehan, a little beyond which it is lost in the 
desert. The Attruck and Gourgan, both considerable streams, 
are fed from the northern face of the Elburz, eastward of 
Astrabad, and both fall into the Caspian Sea about forty 
miles north of that town. These are the principal rivers 
of Persia ; and when the reader reflects how small their 
volume is, and how large a surface they drain and water, he 
will admit that the imputation of excessive drought which 
has been brought against the country is completely estab- 
lished. 

A remarkable characteristic in the topography of Persia 
is the frequent occurrence of salt lakes, which, together 
with the numerous streams impregnated with the same sub- 
stance, evince the singular predominance of that mineral. 
Exclusive of the Caspian Sea, which, as its waters are 
brackish, and have no visible outlet, may be held as coming 
under this denomination, the lake of Urumeah is the most 
worthy of attention. According to the computation of Mac- 
donald Kinneir, it is 300 miles in circumference, and it has 
several islands in its bosom ; but we shall have occasion to 
speak of it more particularly in treating of the province of 
Azerbijan. The lake of Zerrah, in Seistan, and that of 
Baktegan in Fars, though smaller, are yet very considerable, 
and shall be noticed in their turn. 

But a still more striking feature in the physical aspect 
of Persia, and which it shares with a large portion of Cen- 
tral Asia and Africa, is the great expanse of salt and sandy 
wastes. Commencing on the north, near the foot of the 
Elburz Mountains, and in some points penetrating their 
ranges, the Kuveer or Salt Desert stretches southward over 
much of Irak, skirting the districts of Teheran, Cashan, and 
Ispahan ; of Mourghab and Darabghird of Fars, in a very 
irregular and deeply-indented line ; insulating Yezd, and 
blending with the wilderness of Kerman ; while on the east, 
overrunning the greater part of Southern Khorasan, it unites 
with that of Seistan and Beloochistan. In fact, the spots 
that are habitable in these provinces, as well as in Mekran, 
may be considered rather as oases amid the surrounding 
desolation than as forming any continuous tract of improvable 
soil. 

The nature of this desert varies in different places. In 
some the surface is dry, and even produces a few of those 
gplanta which love a 6alt soil ; in others we find a crackling 



GENERATE DESCRIPTION OF PERSIA, 21 



crust of earth, covered only with saline efflorescence. A 
considerable portion is marshy ; and during winter, the 
melting of the snow, and the increase of the torrents, occa- 
sion an accumulation of water in the low parts. In the hot 
months, much of this is evaporated, and leaves behind a 
quantity of salt in the form of cakes upon a bed of mud. In 
certain spots sand predominates, either in the shape of heavy 
plains, or wave-like hillocks, easily drifted by the wind, and 
sometimes so light and impalpable as to prove extremely dan- 
gerous to travellers, who are not unfrequently buried in its 
heaps. The whole of the Gurmaseer,* or Dushtistan, falls 
under this description, and may, together with a considerable 
part of the Chab district, be held as belonging to the deserts 
of Persia. 

The great plain which stretches from the northern foot 
of the Elburz to the east of the Caspian, and along the 
shores of that sea to the Oxus, presents features very similar 
to the southern wastes ; that is to say, portions of salt soil in- 
terspersed with extensive tracts of sand and occasional ridges 
of bare rocks. In fact, there is little doubt that these two 
i deserts are connected by means of the savage country which 

I lies between Mushed and Balai Mourghab, as both there and in 
the mountains of Kohistan and of the Hazaras salt is abundant. 
Nothing can be more dreary than these wastes. When 
the traveller has advanced some distance into them, the 
boundless expanse around blasted with utter barrenness, and 
i hoary with bitter salt, glistening and baking in the rays of a 
I fervid sun, — only broken here and there by a mass of dark 
! rock, which is distorted by the powerful refraction into a 
j thousand wild and varying forms, — impress him with a sense 
! of desolation that cannot be described, 
j The visiter who enters Persia by way of the Gulf, sees 
the country under a very steril and discouraging point of 
f view; for, after passing Capes Jask and Mussendom, his 
9] eye meets nothing but bare rocky islands, and gray precipi- 
tous -cliffs, with a low, flat, sandy strip at their feet, — in 
other words, the Dushtistan of Kerman and Fars, with the 
mountains which separate it from the Sirhud, or the higher 
and colder plateau. His disappointment will not be less on 
landing at Bushire (or Abou She her), with its miserable mud 
hovels, its fantastic badgeers or ventilating towers, its 

* There is also a Gurmaseer, in Seistan, on the banks of the Helmind. 



22 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PERSIA, 



wretched bazaars, and crooked narrow lanes bordered with 
hats made of date-tree leaves. " Dreariness,, solitude, and 
heat,*' says Moner in his Second Journey. li are indeed the 
chief characteristics, not only of this town, but of all the 
shores of the Persian Gulf. Although Bushire be the prin- 
cipal seaport, there is none of that bustle and movement 
which usually indicate the activity of commerce." Yet, 
with all this display of mingled poverty and sterility, the in- 
habitants are for ever singing the praises of their native 
land,— of the Khak e Iroonee, the Land of Iran, — with a 
blind and persevering partiality, which, if less arrogant, might 
have some claim to indulgence, but when contrasted with 
the reality, excites ridicule, if not disgust. 

The unfavourable impression which the traveller thus re- 
ceives, particularly if he come from the rich and fertile India, 
is but little removed by further acquaintance. The appear- 
ance of the mountains is in general forbidding in the extreme. 
They present to the eye little else than masses of gray rock 
splintered by the weather, and often starting verv abruptly 
from the plain. Even where the mouldering strata afford a little 
soil, the acclivities are for the most part unenlivened by wood 
or herbage, and the verdure of spring has scarcely refreshed 
the eye for two short months before it is scorched up. and 
not a tuft of its rapid but transitory growth remains. Nor 
do the plains present a much more cheering prospect. They 
consist principally of gravel washed down from the emi- 
nences and lying in deep alluvial beds, or of clay, w r hich, when 
devoid of moisture, is as barren as the rock itself. No trees 
gladden the landscape except the tall poplar, or the stately 
chinar (Plat anus Orientalis), which rise above the hovels of 
the peasants ; or the fruit-trees of their orchards ; or perhaps 
a few of other sorts which may have been planted on the 
margin of a watercourse to supply the little timber required : 
and these, dotting the wide plain with their dark foliage, convey 
to the mind a melancholy rather than a cheering impression. 

Such is the general character of Persian scenery through- 
out the habitable parts of its southern, eastern, and central 
provinces ; and a reference to the pages of Sir John Chardin, 
one of the most accurate and intelligent of travellers, will 
satisfy the reader as to its correctness. 

In the provinces which lie to the north and west, on the 
banks of the Caspian Sea, in Kurdistan, Louristan, and parts 
of Kuzistan, wood and verdure are more abundant Even 



GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF FERSIA. 



23 



certain districts of Fars exhibit valleys somewhat less naked, 
but these constitute only a small proportion of the countries 
which fall under our consideration. In picturing the aspect 
of a Persian landscape, therefore, the reader must divest i 
himself of every image which gives interest and beauty to a 
European scene. No green plains nor grassy slopes there 
greet the eye, — no winding rivers nor babbling streams, — -no 
majestic woods, — no parks nor enclosures, — no castles nor 
seats embosomed in venerable trees, no sweet retired cot- 
tages peeping through foliage, — nothing, in short, calculated 
to suggest ideas of peace, comfort, or security. When the 
traveller looks down from the pass which he has laboriously 
climbed, his wearied eye wanders over a uniform brown ex- 
panse, losing itself in distance, or bounded by blue moun- 
tains, arid and rocky as those on which he stands. Should 
cultivation exist within the range of his vision, he could 
scarcely distinguish it, except in the spring, from the other 
parts of the plain, which it can hardly be said to diversify, 
is there a village or a town in view, all he can make out is a 
line or a spot, chiefly remarkable for the gardens which usu- 
ally surround such abodes, and not otherwise to be known 
from the far more abundant ruins that are everywhere scat- 
tered over the country. The broken caravansary, with its 
black arches, — the square mud-walled fortalace, with its 
crenated towers, — or the decayed castle of some bandit chief, 
are objects more in unison with the scene, and which give 
birth to painful but not ill-grounded suspicions of the melan- 
choly condition of the inhabitants. Such is the scenery 
which, during many successive days, presents itself to the 
traveller throughout the greater part of Persia. Its exten- 
sive deserts are unquestionably impressive objects ; yet so 
dreary is the country in general, that the difference between 
them and the rest of the soil is by no means very discernible. 

Disappointed with the face of nature, the stranger seeks 
in vain for comfort in the appearance of the towns. Form- 
ing, it is probable, his ideas of such celebrated places as 
Ispahan, Bagdad, Shiraz, Bussora, or Tabriz, upon a fanciful 
model, embellished with oriental domes, minarets, and col- 
umns, he . can scarcely be prepared to witness the shapeless 
mass of ruins and filth which even the best of these cities 
will present to his view ; while all that they really contain of 
wealth, cleanliness, or convenience, is carefully concealed 
from the eye. 



24 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PERSIA 



Surveyed from a commanding situation, a Persian town 
appears particularly monotonous and uninteresting. The 
houses, built of mud, do not differ in colour from the earth 
on which they stand, and from their lowness and irregular 
construction resemble casual inequalities on its surface rather 
than human dwellings. Even those of the great seldom ex- 
ceed one story, and the lofty walls which shroud them from 
sight produce a blank and cheerless effect. There are no 
public buildings except the mosques, medressas or colleges, 
and caravansaries ; and these, usually mean like the rest, he 
hid in the midst of the mouldering relics of former edifices. 
The general coup d'ceil embraces an assemblage of flat roofs, 
little rounded cupolas, and long walls of mud, thickly inter- 
spersed with ruins. Minarets and domes of any magnitude 
are rare, and few possess claims to elegance or grandeur. 
Even the smoke, which, towering from the chimneys and 
hovering over the roofs of an English city, suggests the ex- 
istence of life and comfort, does not here enliven the dreary 
scene ; and the only relief to its monotony is to be sought 
in the gardens, adorned with chmar, cypress, and fruit-trees, 
which, to a greater or less extent, are seen near all the towns 
and villages of Persia. 

On approaching these places, even such of them as have 
been capitals of the empire, the traveller casts his eyes around 
for those marks of human intercourse, and listens for that 
hum of men, which never fail to cheer the heart and raise 
the spirits of the wayfarer ; but he looks and listens in vain. 
Instead of the well-ordered road, bordered with hedge-rows, 
enclosures, and gay habitations, and leading in due course 
to the imposing street of lofty and substantial edifices, he 
who approaches an Eastern town must thread the narrow 
and dirty lane, rugged as the torrent's bed, confined by de- 
cayed mud walls, or high enclosures of sun-dried bricks, 
which shut up whatever of verdure the place can boast ; he 
must pick his uncertain way among heights and hollows, — 
the fragments of old buildings, and the pits which have sup- 
plied the materials for new ones. At length reaching the 
wall, generally in a state of dilapidation, which girds the 
city, and entering the gateway, where lounge a few squalid 
guards, he finds himself in a sorry bazaar, or perhaps in a 
confusion of rubbish, as shapeless and disorderly as that 
Without, from which he has escaped. In vain he looks for 
streets,— even houses are scarcely to be discerned amid the 



GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PERSIA* 25 



heaps of mud and ruins, which are burrowed into holes, 
and resemble the perforation of a gigantic ant's-nest rather 
than human abodes. The residences of the rich and great, 
whatever be their internal comfort or luxury, are carefully- 
secluded by high mud walls, and around them, even to the 
very entrances, are clustered the hovels of the poor. 

Among these, then, the stranger makes his way, generally 
through passages and alleys so narrow and full of impedi- 
ments, that a loaded ass gets along with difficulty. In such 
circumstances he is forced to dive into hollows, to scramble 
through the most offensive ruins, to stumble over grave- 
stones, and even to risk his neck by falling into holes, par- 
ticularly when in the dark ; for there is no arrangement what- 
ever for lighting artificially these intricate lanes. The bazaars 
are the only thoroughfares that deserve the appellation of 
streets ; and some of these, as the long continuous ones at 
Ispahan, the Bazaar el Wukeel at Shiraz, and some of those 
at Teheran, Tabriz, and other chief towns, are spacious, lofty, 
solidly-built, and, comparatively speaking, magnificent.* 

The construction of these bazaars may be shortly described 
as follows : — A paved pathway, varying from eight to six- 
teen feet in width, separates two rows of cells, before which 
runs a raised platform or continuous booth. Squatted upon 
these sit the venders of commodities, having their goods dis- 
played beside them : the vaults contain the rest of their 
stock ; and in some cases there is another apartment in the 

* This description strips an oriental city sq much of its fancied 
charms, and in some respects differs so far from that which has been 
given by some travellers, that although we can personally vouch 
for its truth, we must beg to refer our readers to the writings of authors 
who treat the Persian towns with more respect, but whose expressions, 
when fairly examined, bear out all that is stated in the text. Sir John 
Malcolm, vot.ii. p. 521, speaks of the "magnificence and splendour" of 
the Persian cities ; but two pages on he confesses that " Shiraz has not 
many public buildings, and as there are few gardens, and no avenues 
within its walls, its bare mud-terraced houses, when viewed at a distance, 
gave it more the appearance of a ruined than a flourishing city." 
"Every thing within the town," says Sir R. K. Porter in 1818, vol. i. p. 
693, "seems neglected ; the bazaars and maidans falling into ruins, the 
streets choked with dirt and mouldering heaps of unrepaired houses, and 
the lower orders who inhabit them squalid and insolent . . . .The water is 
so foul as to injure the health." Scott Waring says, " I am apt to believe 
Shiraz will disappoint those who have imagined it a populous and noble 

city Many of the streets are so narrow, that an ass loaded with 

wood stops the way if you are on horseback." The endless ruins of 
Ispahan are dwelt upon by all modern travellers^ and hundreds of simi- 
lar examples might be referred to. 



26 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PERblA. 



rear, which serves as a magazine for the more opulent shop- 
keepers. The whole is arched over either with well-con- 
structed brickwork or clay ; or, m very inferior establish- 
ments,, with branches of trees and thatch, which intercept 
the sun's rays.* Here sit the merchants and various trades- 
men, each class for the most part keepmg to their respective 
quarters ; so that smiths, braziers, shoemakers, saddlers, 
potters, cloth and chintz sellers, tailors, and other handi- 
craftsmen, may generally be found together ; but confec- 
tioners, cooks, apothecaries, bakers, fruiterers, and green 
sellers are dispersed in various places ; sometimes setting 
out their wares in a manner sufficiently pleasmg, although 
quite unlike that in winch shops are arranged in Europe. 

Attached to the bazaars in the larger towns there are usually 
several caravansaries for the accommodation of travelling mer- 
chants. The chambers of these are occupied both as offices 
for transacting business, and also for shops ; and the gay 
appearance which they present, the bustle that prevails in the 
space before them, and the varietv of costume, manners, and 
language, present a spectacle highly amusing, as well as in- 
teresting. 

*In the Bushtistan, date-tree branches are used for this purpose ; In 
Maxunderan and Ghilan the tops both of the houses and bazaars are 
made of wood, thatched or tiled. 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 27 



CHAPTER II, 

Account of the Provinces of Persia, 

Provinces— Fars— Its Nature— Shiraz— Province of Laristan— Of Kuzis- 
tan— Dorak— Shuster— Shus, the ancient Susa or Shushan— Province 
of Irak— Its Aspect and Condition— Ispahan— Cashan— Koom— Tehe- 
ran— Casbin— Sultan ieh— Hamadan- Kerrnanshah— Yezd— Kurdistan 
—Province of A rdelan— Province of Azerbijan— Lake Shahee— Mar- 
agha— Ardebil— Tabriz— Shores of the Caspian Sea— Province of Ghilan 
— Of Mazunderan— Saree and Furrahbad— Fisheries on the Caspian- 
Province of Astrabad— Palace of Ashruff— Province of Khorasan— 
Mushed and its Shrine— Meru— Districts to the South— Herat — Prov- 
ince of Kerman— City— Gombroon — Province of Seistan — Of Mekran — 
Divisions — Beloochistan — Character of its Population — Travels of 
Christie and Pottinger— Mekran Proper— Its Inhabitants— Climate, 

Having given in the preceding chapter a general sketch 
of the most prominent features of Persia, we shall next en- 
deavour to make the reader acquainted with the nature and 
extent of its several provinces. These are, — 



Fars, 
Laristan, 
Kuzistan, 
Irak, 



Ardelan, 

Azerbijan, 

Ghilan, 



Mazunderan, 

Astrabad, 

Khorasan, 



Seistan, 
Kerman, 
Mekran. 



The province of Fars, the ancient Persis, which we shall 
suppose the traveller to enter at Bushire, is with some varia- 
tion, perfectly characterized by the foregoing description. It 
is bounded by the Persian Gulf on the south ; on the east 
by Kerman and Laristan ; on the west it has Kuzistan ; and 
on the north Irak. The eastern parts are more sandy and arid 
than those to the north and north-west ; but, singular as it 
may appear, the latter support a population comparatively 
smaller than the former, and Colonel M 'Donald Kinneir, in 
1809, travelled sixty miles between Bebahan and Shiraz, 
through the most delightful vales covered with wood and ver- 
dure, without seeing a human being. The northern sec- 
tion bordering upon Irak is principally occupied by wandering 
tribes, and consists chiefly of rocky mountains enclosing long 



28 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCE? OF PERSIA r 



narrow glens, many of which afford excellent grazing. That 
of Khoosk e Zurd (so named from the Yellow Palace, one 
of the hunting-seats of Baharam Gour) is about 150 miles 
loner by fifteen in breadth, the gravelly skirts of the hill slope 
in long inclined sweeps to the centre of the valley, which is 
of rich black ltfam, and fertilized by several streams ; but 
" the ruins of towns, villages, and palaces,"' says the col- 
onel, " prove that the Eeliauts were not always permitted to 
monopolise what might in truth be denominated the garden 
of Persia/' 

The capital of Fars is the famous Shiraz, — a city which 
had assuredly no pretensions to importance before the Mo- 
hammedan conquest. Ebn Haukul ascribes its foundation 
to a brother of Hujaje ibn Yussuff, a tyrannical Arabian gov- 
ernor, in the year of the Hejira 74 ; while a tradition less 
worthy of credit refers its origin to Tahmuras Deevebund, 
or to a king named Fars, grandson of Noah. Shiraz has at 
no time been remarkable for its splendour ; for the oldest 
travellers allude not to any monuments nor magnificent build- 
ings. Mandelsdo declares that, in 1515, it did not contain 
10,000 houses, although its rums extended two miles. Sir 
Thomas Herbert, who is usually accurate, speaks indeed of 
certain minarets as high as St. Pauls ; and though he means 
the old church of that name, it is difficult to account for the 
assertion, as no other writer mentions them. Nor are there 
any remains to indicate where they stood, unless they 
were those to which Le Bruyn adverts cursorily in 1705, in 
describing a mosque " with porticoes and two handsome 
towers, of which the tops have been damaged.'' Tavernier 
pays no high compliment except to its wines and fruits, which 
are still celebrated ; and he states, that its mud walls had 
fallen down. Le Bruyn, after an imposing enumeration of 
38 muhulehs or wards, 300 mosques, 200 baths, and so on, 
concludes by saying that the M greater number of the build- 
ings in this city, which has a circuit of two leagues, are in 
a decayed state, and the streets so narrow and dirty as to 
be scarcely passable in rainy weather." Even in the time 
of Chardin the place was full of ruins, and he could launch 
into no great praises of its beauty, or its public edifices. 
The Jumah Musjed, or that generally called the Musjed e 
Now or New Mosque, founded above 600 years ago by At- 
tabeg Shah, is the only structure which he calls magnifi- 
cent ; but he adds, it is superior to any in Ispahan. Scott 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA, 31 



Waring doubts' if Shiraz ever merited the encomiums lav- 
ished upon it : he states the circumference to be about five 
miles, and that at least one-fourth of its houses are in ruins. 
We should suppose that this proportion is much greater ; and 
the melancholy effects of a late earthquake have still farther 
reduced the number of habitable mansions. Before that 
catastrophe, the population might amount to 30,000, though 
Sir W. Ousely estimated them at not more than 20,000. 

The principal object of curiosity within the walls is the 
Bazaar e Wukeel, erected by Kureem Khan Zund, a mag- 
nificent arcade half a mile long, and perhaps forty feet wide, 
constructed of excellent brick-work, and affording accommo- 
dation to several hundred shopkeepers. The mollahs with- 
hold from Christians admittance into the great mosque men- 
tioned above, the front of which is said to be 150 yards. 
Sixty other places of worship, though generally mean, with 
an equal number of Imamzadehs or tombs of saints, attest 
the justice of this city's claims to sanctity.* All indeed 
that now remains entire of Shiraz is the work of Kureem 
Khan, who raised up its mutilated fences, built a citadel, with 
many mosques and colleges, as well as its celebrated bazaar, 
It, however, owes its principal interest to certain objects in its 
vicinity ; for the tombs of Sadi and Hafiz are still to be seen 
close to the spot which gave them birth. But the rose-gar- 
dens have faded since the days of the poet ; its environs are 
covered with ruins and wretchedness ;f a broken monument 
marks the site of the " sweet bowers of Mosselah," and the 
celebrated stream of Roknabad is now only a rill, drawing 
its silver thread through a scarcely perceptible strip of -ver- 
dure. 

Besides Shiraz, Fars could once boast of several great 
cities, which in their turn became capitals of the empire. 

Of Ishtakhar mention will be made hereafter, when de- 
scribing the ruins of Persepolis. The antiquities of Darab- 
gerd, Firozeabad, and Fesa, will also be adverted to. These 
disappointed the expectation of Sir W. Ousely, and the 
towns themselves now are far from being of any importance. 

* Shiraz also pretends to superior learning, and was of old called the 
Daur ul IJm, or the Gate or Abiding-place of Science ; but the character 
Of its inhabitants for bravery is better established. 

t There are several royal gardens, with their corresponding palaces 
and pleasure-houses in the vicinity of the city ; and at a further distance 
to the east there are a number of gardens belonging to individuals. 



32 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



The first may contain 15,000 inhabitants, — the second not 
above one-fifth that number ; but Firozeabad is distinguished 
as having been built bv Ardeshir Babegan, the first of the 
Sassanian monarchs, and for still having in its vicinity some 
traces of his dynasty. Kauzeroun probably grew out of the 
ruins of Shapoor, although, like even 7 city of Persia, it lays 
claim to a remote antiquity. It is still a place of some im- 
portance, being situated in a fine and well-watered valley ; 
but civil wars and rapacity have so much impoverished it, 
that, with all its advantages, it cannot boast of more than 
3000 or 4000 inhabitants ; and its walls enclose more ruins 
than houses. 

Laristan, once an independent kingdom, now a parched 
desert, needs little description. Rocky mountains, and val- 
leys of sand and salt, alone diversify its surface. Yet Char- 
din savs he found in several places the orange, the pomegran- 
ate, and the date-tree, growing luxuriantly. The city con- 
tained about 200 houses, composed chiefly of the date-tree ; 
nor does he speak of the ancient magnificence and extensive 
ruins alluded to by other authors. The noble bazaar con- 
structed by order of Shah Abbas is the sole object worthy of 
attention in the place, if we except the castle, which stands 
upon a hill behind the town, and is reputed to have been im- 
pregnable. But its chief defence appears to have arisen 
from the impossibility of approaching it. The seaport of 
Congoon is said to accommodate 6000 inhabitants, and to 
afford an excellent roadstead, where a frigate might lie safely 
at anchor. But the whole of the coast is in possession of pi- 
ratical Arabs, and many of their most favourite places of re- 
sort are to be found in its bays and creeks. 

Kuztstan, the ancient Susiana, which lies to the north- 
west of Fars, upon the northern bank of the Tigris, may be 
divided into two districts essentially different from each other 
in their character and climate. The first, extending from the 
shores of the Gulf to the hills bordering upon the fine valley 
of Ram Hormuz, and from the banks of the Tab to the con- 
fluence of the Karoon and Abzal, is called the Chab countrv 
It is subject to an Arab sheik, who maintains a dubious in- 
dependence in this miserable territory, by far the greater part 
of which is entirely desert, and during the heats of. summer 
very dangerous, from a scorching wind that, like the simoom, 
destroys both travellers and cattle. Only m the environs of 
Dorak, on the banks of the Hafer (a branch of the Karoon), 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 33 



and on those of the Shut el Arab, is there found any fer- 
tility ; and there dates and rice are produced. Dorak, or 
rather. Felahi, built upon the site of the ancient Dorak by 
Sheik Solyman, and the principal town of the Chab province, 
is a wretched place. It stands on the banks of the Jerahi, 
is about two miles in circumference, consists chiefly of date- 
tree huts, is surrounded by a mud wall, and contains 7000 or 
8000 inhabitants. Here resides the sheik in patriarchal 
style, occupying with his brothers and family a large but in- 
different palace. His revenues amount to about 50,000/. 
a-year ; and, in 1809, he could bring 25,000 horsemen and 
20,000 foot into the field. But these troops were totally un- 
disciplined, and unfit to contend with any regular force. 
Several powerful tribes having rebelled, a battle, in which 
10,000 on each side were engaged four days, was fought 
while Colonel M'Donald Kinneir was in the country, and 
there were in all but five men killed and wounded. This 
fact may serve to illustrate the spirit of the combatants, and 
the general character of their wars. 

The government of Shuster, which is under charge of a 
beglerbeg, forms the second division, and comprises not only 
the fairest part of Kuzistan, but that which might be ren- 
dered the most productive province of Persia. Watered by 
four large rivers, the Karoon, the Abzal, the Kerah or Kar- 
asu, and the Shut el Hud, besides many lesser streams, and 
blessed with a rich soil, it might be made the granary of the 
empire ; but ignorance and oppression have reduced a coun- 
try, which once yielded the best crops of cotton and sugar, 
rice and grain, to a condition little better than that of a for- 
saken waste. " The exorbitant contributions levied by the 
beglerbeg from the cultivators of the soil had been exacted 
with so much severity," says Colonel Macdonald Kinneir, 
" as to drive these unfortunate people from their habitations ; 
and the eye became fatigued with the continued chain of de- 
serted villages." To this may be added the depredations of 
the wandering tribes, both Persian and Arabian, who feed 
their flocks on the banks of the several rivers. Five chiefs, 
four of whom were brothers, having seized upon the beautiful 
valley of Ram Hormuz,* indulged their marauding disposi- 

* It is sixty miles long by six to eight in breadth, and is watered by 
the Jerahi. The ruins of an ancient city of the same name are to be 
seen in the valley, which was also the scene of that decisive battle be- 
tween Ardeshir Babegan and Artabanes (the last of the Arsacidae), in 



34 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



tion so far as to carry off each other's cattle and corn. 
When Colonel Macdonald and Major Monteith were travel- 
ling through this district in 1810, they became alternately 
the guests of two of these relations, who each heartily abused 
the other. At the house of the youngest, just as they had 
finished breakfast, the host entered armed and equipped for 
an expedition. He said he was sure that shabby fellow his 
brother, whom they had seen the previous day, must have 
treated them scurvily, as he knew nothing of true hospitality, 
— but if they would accompany him, they should have then- 
revenge, and as much plunder as their horses could carry off. 
This proposal was of course declined, and the chief proceeded 
upon his enterprise, from which, towards evening, he returned 
loaded with booty, "When on such occasions blood is shed, 
and complaints are made, these turbulent chiefs are summoned 
to the tribunal of the Beglerbeg of Bebahan ; but the party 
who deposites with the judge the largest sum of money is 
always sure to gain the cause. 

The same gentlemen being attacked in the desert, between 
Shuster and Ram Hormuz, by a Persian tribe, not only beat 
them off, but took one of their leaders. Returning to the 
city, they demanded in the name of the British ambassador 
that he should be publicly chastised. But the governor, who 
was their personal friend, confessed his inability to punish 
the offender, and advised them rather to close with an offer 
which he made, to conduct them through the desert on con- 
dition of receiving pardon. This alternative was accepted 
Next morning accordingly the travellers set out, escorted bv 
sixty of the same banditti who on the preceding day had at- 
tempted to murder them ; and who now, after accompanving 
them to the borders of their country, a distance of seventy 
miles, retired contented with a trifling present. 

Shuster, the capital of the district, and residence of the 
beglerbeg, stands at the foot of the Buchtiaree Mountains, 
on an eminence above the river Karoon, over which there is 
a bridge of one arch eighty feet high. It boasts of many 
magnificent remains. The castle, said to have been the 
abode of the Emperor Valerian when taken prisoner by Sha- 
poor, the second of the Sassanides, is still partly standing, 
and a single gate in the Roman fashion, which was furnished 

which the furmer was victorious, and was hailed on the field as Shah in 

Shah. 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 35 

with a drawbridge 5 is yet entire. Near it is a noble dyke or 
bund, built across the Karoon by Shapoor, to raise the water 
for purposes of irrigation. It is composed of cut stone, 
bound together with iron clamps, and is 400 yards in length. 
The damage it had sustained from accident or neglect was 
repaired by the late Mohammed Ali Meeza, governor of Ker- 
manshah, — a rare instance of patriotic munificence in the 
ruling family of Persia. The artificial canal fcJhned by this 
dyke crosses the country in a winding direction to Dezphool ; 
it is spanned by a bridge of hewn stone consisting of thirty- 
two arches, of which twenty-eight are standing, and is the 
work of the same magnificent monarch. 

The city of Shuster contains, according to Colonel Mac- 
donald, about 15,000 souls, the houses being well built of 
stone, although the streets are narrow and dirty. It is said 
to have been erected by Shapoor, under the direction of his 
prisoner Valerian ; and to this opinion the traveller so often 
quoted inclines, rather than to that which would identify it 
with the ancient Susa, or Shushan of Scripture. He con- 
ceives that this appellation may be more correctly assigned 
to Shus, a mass of ruins situated upon the banks of the 
Kerah or Karasu. The remains, which occupy an immense 
space between that river and the Abzal, consist of heaps of 
rubbish, somewhat resembling those of Babylon ; the whole 
being now a howling wilderness, the haunt of lions, hyenas, 
and other beasts of prey. In the midst of this desolation, 
at the foot of one of the largest piles, stands a small and 
comparatively modern building, erected, it is said, on the 
spot where rest the bones of the prophet Daniel ; and this 
tomb served to protect during a whole night the two travel- 
lers whom we have named frorn the fierce animals which in- 
fest its precincts. Such is the fallen state of the ancient 
Shushan ! such the condition of the rich province of Elam 
and its stately capital ! of that proud city which witnessed 
the magnificence of the Median and Persian kings in the 
height of their glory, and was the scene of the prophetic 
vision of Daniel,* but which, like the mortal remains of 
hat inspired person himself, has mouldered into dust ; while 
♦he rich country of which it was the ornament, with all its 



* Daniel viii, 2. 



36 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



gardens, its cultivated fields and populous villages, is one vast 
and desolate waste. * 

Irak, which comprises the greater part of ancient Media 
and Parthia, is the largest and one of the most valuable prov- 
inces of Persia, and contains, besides the modern capital 
Ispahan, many of the finest cities in the kingdom. The ap- 
pearance of it, we are told by Colonel Macdonald Kmneir, 
is almost everywhere the same, being entirely mountainous ; 
and, like the northern part of Fars, the valleys are of inde- 
finite length, though they seldom exceed ten or fifteen miles 
in breadth. The hills, which are barren and devoid of tim- 
ber, run almost invariably from west to east, and either grad- 
ually sink into the desert, or throw out branches into the 
provinces of Kerman and Khorasan. The valleys are for the 
most part uncultivated, except m the \4cmity of the villages ; 
bat cannot on that account (at least those to the north 
•and west) be called steril : on the contrary, the land is good 
and capable of yielding abundance of corn. " It is oppres- 
sion, and a consequent deficiency of population, not the poor- 
ness of soil and want of water, that occasions the present 
desolate appearance of those plains, which the ruins of cities 
and of aqueducts demonstrate to have been formerly in a 
very different condition." Such is an accurate description of 
this province in general ; and though a partial improvement 
has occasionally resulted from a more lenient administration, 
as in those districts more immediately under the government 
of the late Sudr Ameen, still the greater part bears witness 
to the destructive operation of a venal tyranny. 

Ispahan, although fallen from that high and palmy state 
which in the reign of the Sooffees rendered it one of the no- 
blest capitals of the East, and though no longer exalted by 
the residence of its sovereign, still holds the first rank among 
Persian cities. The most minute and accurate account of it, 
while yet the seat of empire, is that given by Chardin, who 
has interwoven with his detail of palaces, caravansaries, and 
mosques, so great a variety of curious matter, as to give sin- 
gular interest to a subject that otherwise must have been ex- 

* For the arguments which are adduced to prove that the ruins of Shus 
are those of Shushan or Susa, we refer to Colonel Macdonald Kinneir's 
Memoir, p. 97, et seq.,— to Sir W. Ouselv's Travels, and to Bell's edition 
of Rollin's Ancient History, Glasgow, 1626, vol. i. p. 194 (note). As- 
suredly Kuzistan, with its numerous ruins, presents a richer field of re- 
search to the antiquary than any other province of Persia. 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 37 



£essively tedious. We shall, however, content ourselves 
with a few particulars resting upon his authority ; and then 
by the aid of modern travellers endeavour to convey an idea 
of the present state of this great metropolis. 

Ispahan, by some considered as the Aspadana of Ptolemy, 
and certainly a very ancient city,* is built upon the Zeinde- 
rood, which, rising in the Koh e Zurd or Yellow Mountain, 
has been artificially increased by the addition of another river, 
called by Ghardin the Mahmood Ker ; and although furnish- 
ing during the heats of summer but a scanty stream, in the 
spring months it attains to a size which equals the Seine at 
Paris in winter. The walls, constructed of mud, are esti- 
mated by the traveller just named at about 20,000 paces in 
circumference, f Even in his time they were in bad repair, 
and so closely surrounded by houses and gardens that they 
could hardly be seen; while of 38,249 buildings which were 
reckoned as belonging to the city, 29,469 were within and 
8780 without their circuit. Of these structures 162 were 
mosques, 48 medressas, 1802 caravansaries, and 273 hum- 
maums or baths ; and the population was differently esti«* 
mated at from 600,000 to 1,100,000. This would give the 
extraordinary average of from twenty to thirty persons for 
each house. t Chardin affirms that Ispahan was as populous 
as London in those days, and consequently more so than any 
other city of Europe. The Persians, with their usual vanity, 
conceived that no town in the universe could come near it 
in point of grandeur and size ; and the saying, " Ispahan 
nesfe jehan ust," (Ispahan is half the world) is still in their 
mouths. The country ten leagues round was richly covered 
with gardens, orchards, and cultivation of every kind, and 
1500 well-peopled villages poured daily supplies into the 
capital ; for, excepting cattle, the neighbourhood furnished 
every necessary. So closely invested was the city with these 

* Early in the third century it is mentioned as having been taken by 
Ardeshir Babegan. 

t He also says that the city is twenty-four miles round. 

X The credit due to these statements would greatly depend upon the 
definition of the term house. If, for instance, the dwelling of a great 
lord, which may contain a harem and slaves to the extent of 100 or 200 
souls, be considered as only forming one house, it would bring the aver- 
age more within probable bounds. It must likewise be remembered 
that, in estimating the population of an Eastern town, by the numbers 
that frequent the streets, a large allowance should be made for the wo* 
men, who for the most part come little out 



38 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



orchards, and so numerous were the rows of noble chin are 
within the walls, that scarcely any buildings were discernible 
from a distance, except a few of the domes and minarets ap- 
pearing above the trees. Its greatest beauty consisted in the 
number of magnificent palaces, gay and smiling houses, spa- 
cious caravansaries, and handsome bazaars which studded 
every quarter ; for the streets were as crooked, narrow, and 
dirty as at present, and unpaved, like those of most Persian 
towns. 

Such was the state of Ispahan when Chardin wrote. Its 
palaces were then the dwelling of a powerful monarch and 
his family. His splendid court was crowded by wealthy 
nobles, who embellished the city with their habitations, and 
gave life and animation to the squares and public places with 
their glittering retinues. The bazaars were frequented by 
merchants who filled them with valuable commodities ; cara- 
vans arrived daily, and the streets swarmed with a dense 
population. The mosques were served by numerous mol- 
lahs and priests, while the colleges were filled with pupils and 
teachers. The accounts, even of those modern travellers 
who are most disposed to view Persia with a favourable eye 
make manifest how lamentably the scene is altered. 

" Nothing," says the author of Sketches of Persia, " can 
exceed the fertility and beauty of the country in the vicinity 
of Ispahan ; and the first view of that city is very imposing. 
All is noble that meets the eye, — the groves, avenues,' and 
spreading orchards with which it abounds, concealing the 
ruins of this once famed capital. A nearer view, however, 
dispels the illusion ; but still much remains of wealth, if not 
of splendour." — " Among the first objects that strike our 
eyes," remarks Sir Robert Ker Porter (on his approach from 
the same direction, the south), " were the numerous and nobly- 
constructed bridges, each carrying its long level line of 
thickly-ranged arches to porch-like structures of the finest ele- 
vations ; some fallen into stately ruin, others nearly entire, 
but all exhibiting splendid memorials of the triumphal ages 
of the Son race . . . All spoke of the gorgeous, populous 
past, but all that remained in present life seemed lost in 
silence . . . We entered the southern gate of the town, and 
immediately came out into one of those umbrageous avenues 
of trees which render the interior of Ispahan in this quarter 
a very paradise. It tenninated in the great bazaar of Shah 
Abbas, the whole of which enormous length of building is 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 39 



vaulted above, to exclude heat, but admit air and light. Hun- 
dreds of shops without an inhabitant filled the sides . of this 
epitome of a deserted mercantile world ; and having tra- 
versed their untrodden labyrinths for an extent of nearly two 
miles, we entered the Maidan Shah, another spacious, sound- 
less theatre of departed grandeur. The present solitude of 
so magnificent a place was rendered more impressive by our 
horses' footsteps as we passed through its immense quad 
rangle to the palace that was to be our temporary abode." 

The above may be contrasted with the account given by 
Morier of the entry of Sir Harford Jones, the British envoy, 
in 1809 : — " The great number of buildings which stud every 
part of the plain of Ispahan might lead the traveller to sup- 
pose that he was entering a district of immense population ; 
yet almost the whole view consists of the ruins of towns, 
and there are only here and there spots which are enlivened 
by the communities of men. But whatever may be the con- 
dition of modern Persia, its former state, if the remains scat- 
tered over the country are sufficient evidences,* must have 
been flourishing and highly-peopled. . . . When we came 
to the plain, the city of Ispahan rose upon the view, and its 
extent was so great east and west that my sight could not 
reaeh its bounds. The crowd was now intensely great, and 
at intervals quite impeded our progress .... We proceeded 
along the banks of the Zeinderood, on the opposite side of 
which were rows of firs and ancient pinasters. We saw 
three bridges of singular yet beautiful construction. That 
over which we crossed was composed of thirty-three lower 
arches, above each of which were ranged three smaller ones. 
There is a covered causeway for foot-passengers ; the sur- 
face of the bridge is paved, and level throughout the whole 
of its extent. After we had crossed it, we proceeded through 
a gate into the Char Baugh, which is a spacious piece of 
ground, having two rows of chinar-trees in the middle, and 
two more on each side. The garden is divided into par- 
terres, and copiously watered by canals of water, which run 
from one side of it to the other, and which, at regular inter- 
vals, are collected into basins, square or octagonal. This 

* That they are not entirely so might easily be proved ; as ruins in a 
dry climate will remain for many ages, and those belonging to very dif- 
ferent eras may be viewed as having all existed in their entire state at 
one and the same time, thus attributing to one period the aggregate popu- 
lation of many. 



40 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



fine alley is raised at separate distances into terraces, from 
which the water falls in cascades. Of the chinar-trees 
which line the walks, most can be traced to the time of Shah 
Abbas ; and when any have fallen, others have been imme- 
diately planted. On either side of the Char Baugh are the 
eight gardens which the Persians call Hesht Behesht, or 
Eight Paradises. They are laid out into regular w r alks of the 
chinar-tree, are richly watered, and have each a pleasure- 
house, of which we were conducted to occupy the best, — 
that, at least, which certainly was more in repair than the 
others. The rest are in a state of decay, and corroborate 
only by the remains of the beautifully-painted walls and gilded 
panels those lively and luxuriant descriptions of their splen- 
dour which travellers have given." 

The present writer entered Ispahan by the same route ; 
but the distressing circumstances in which he was then 
placed,* as well as the unfavourable season and state of the 
weather, clouded all the gayety and added to the melancholy 
tone of the scene. The yellow leaves whirling from the tall 
trees, as a cold and rainy blast swept through them, harmon- 
ized with the desolate expanse of ruins which stretched on 
every side. The eye, wandering over saddening objects, 
could scarcely penetrate -the dull haze that was settling 
around ; and even the numerous cavalcade which accompa- 
nied the party, wrapped in their cloaks, exhibited no brilliance 
nor animation, and seemed rather to hurry onward to get 
the business of the day over, that they might retire to their 
homes. 

The most complete view of the city is obtained from a 
tower to the south, called Meel e Shatir.f A very imposing 

* The author also accompanied a mission to Ispahan in 1821 ; but it 
was his painful task to perform alone the last duties to the envoy, Dr. 
Jukes, who died in that city of a fever, contracted doubtless by exertion 
in hastening to the scene of his negotiations. 

t This column was probably so called because persons aspiring to be 
king's shatirs proved their abilities by running, between sunrise and 
sunset, a certain number of times to this pillar and back to the palace ; 
but tradition assigns to the name a more romantic origin. A king of 
Persia promised his daughter in marriage to any one who should run be- 
fore his horse all the way from Shiraz to Ispahan. One of his shatirs 
had so nearly accomplished the task as to gain this height, when the 
monarch, alarmed lest he should be forced to fulfil the agreement, dropped 
bis whip. The shatir, aware that, owing to the ligatures these people 
tied around their bodies to enable them to perform such feats, it would 
be death to stoop, contrived to pick it up with his foot. The trick thus 
fcaviDg failed, the royal rider dropped his ring ; the shatir then saw thai 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 41 



though melancholy prospect likewise presents itself on as- 
cending to the top of the principal gate of the palace, termed 
Ali Capi or Exalted, which overlooks the Maidan Shah, — an 
almost interminable variety of houses, walls, mosques, shops, 
bazaars, and shapeless structures, stretching over the plain 
on all sides to the distant mountains. But unvaried as are 
the visible objects, it is not until the want of noise, or smoke > 
or dust, or movement forces itself upon the observation, that 
the spectator knows he is looking on a vast desert of ruins. 
When the author of these pages saw this remarkable scene, 
perhaps the desolate effect was heightened by the season of 
the year. Only on the side of the palace was the eye re- 
lieved by the sumptuous edifices and gardens enclosed within 
the walls, and by the dome of a mosque or a medressa, 
whose lackered tiles glittered in the sun. Even in these 
gardens, and in the noble avenues of Shah Abbas, the forms 
of the trees have been spoiled by trimming them into tall 
rods with bushes at their tops, not unlike those in the vicinity 
of London, so that they neither make a show nor afford much 
shade. 

Of the palaces, the Chehel Sittoon is the most sumptuous. 
Its Hall of Columns, from which the name is derived, inlaid 
with mirrors so as to resemble pillars of glass, is reflected 
from a basin of clear water which stretches in front. The 
walls and roof are decorated with the same fragile material, 
but with much taste, and interspersed with flowers of gold, 
so as to convey an impression of great magnificence. Within 
is a saloon seventy-five feet long by thirty-six wide, forming 
a noble gallery ; on the walls of which are six large and 
many smaller pictures, representing the achievements of 
Shah Ismael, Nadir Shah, and other Persian conquerors, 
with some banquet-scenes, which furnish curious memorials 
of the manners and customs of past ages. In this splendid 
hall are rolled up and carefully preserved by each successive 
sovereign the superb carpets that were trodden by the Great 
Abbas, more than two hundred years ago, which far sur- 
pass in beauty and texture the flimsy fabrics of modern manu- 
facture. This palace is situated in the centre of a garden, 
divided, according to the national custom, into compartments 
by walks and canals bordered with poplars and stately chi- 

his fate was decided, and exclaiming, " O king, you have broken your 
word, but I am true to the last !" be stooped, picked up the ring, and ex- 



42 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 

nars. There are, besides, a number of other palaces, each 
in its own garden : as the Narangistan, or Orangery ; the 
Ungooristan, or Grapery ; the Eynah Khaneh, or Hail of Mir- 
rors ; the Ashruff Khaneh ; the Talar Tabeelah ; the Hesht 
Behesht ; the Gooldushteh ; all possessing their separata 
beauties, but which admit not of suitable description. 

Of the mosques and colleges celebrated by Chardin, many 
have fallen into decay : but the Musjed Shah, and that of 
Lootf Oollah in the Maidan Shah, are in perfect preservation 
and richly adorned. The medressa built by the mother of 
Shah Abbas is by far the most elegant, and in the best repair. 
Its gates are covered with wrought silver ; and in the garden 
are some fine old pinasters and cmnars, which have never been 
profaned by axe or knife. 

But in the days of its splendour, perhaps the greatest orna- 
ment of Ispahan was the Maidan Shah or Great Square, to 
which may be assigned a length of 700 yards and a breadth 
of 200. Each side presents a double range of arched re- 
cesses, the longest containing eighty-six, the shortest thirty. 
In the centre of the south-western face rises the Ali Capi 
gate ; opposite to which, in the north-eastern side, stands 
the mosque of Lootf Oollah. The superb entrance of the 
Musjed Shah occupies the centre of the south-eastern end, and 
in the middle of the north-western is the great gate leading 
to the principal bazaar and the town. Above this gate in old 
times stood the clock mentioned by Chardin, which used to 
amuse the people with its puppets, but this is no longer in 
existence ; nor do the cannon, which were placed within a 
balustrade before the gate of the palace, retain their position. 
The balustrade itself is gone ; and the Maidan has ceased 
to present the busy scene it was wont to display in more 
prosperous days. Of the trees that surrounded it not one is 
left ; the canals which supplied it with water are dry.* The 
houses in its vicinity are no longer inhabited, — the very doors 
are built up ; a blank row of archways occupies the place 
where the most brilliant shops arranged their wares. That 
great area, where the nobles of Persia mustered their glitter- 
ing trains and the chivalry of the kingdom exhibited their 
prowess before their gallant monarch, or which echoed with 
the shouts and sparkled with the pomp of the dazzling No 
Roz, is now a cheerless and deserted void. Little is heard 



* Sir R. K. Porter says there was water in them. 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 43 



save the occasional tramp of a mule ; its loneliness is rarely 
interrupted unless by the gowned form of a mollah as he 
creeps towards the mosque, or by the worshippers who resort 
thither at the hour of prayer. The bazaars are still partially 
crowded, and nothing shows the former wealth and greatness 
of this capital more than the immense accommodation pre- 
pared for trade. For miles together the stranger finds him- 
self led along these vaulted receptacles, on each side of which 
*re openings leading to caravansaries. But many of these 
are failing to decay ; and even the bazaar of Shah Abbas is 
partially unoccupied, while some of its caravansaries have 
been converted into stables for the cattle, mules, and asses of 
the townspeople. 

From all that has been said of this celebrated capital, it 
will be inferred that its present population is comparatively 
small. The miseries it suffered during the Afghan usurpa- 
tion were succeeded by the loss of that which alone could 
have repaired the evil, — the presence of the sovereign. 
Years of anarchy increased the desolation, and tyranny com- 
pleted it. In 1800, the inhabitants were calculated by Mal- 
colm to amount to 100,000 ; in 1810, they were said to be 
double that number ; but, if any reliance can be placed upon 
information obtained on the spot in 1821, it did not at that 
period contain nearly so many. In fact, it is not easy on 
this subject to approach the truth. 

The suburb of Julfah, so celebrated as a colony of Arme- 
nians transported from the city of that name on the Araxes, 
suffered no less in this ruthless invasion ; but it began to de- 
cline from the time it lost its founder. In the days of Shah 
Abbas it contained 30,000 inhabitants or 3400 families, with 
twenty-four churches and a large ecclesiastical establish- 
ment.* Sir W. Ouseley estimated them at from 300 to 400 
Jiouseholds ; but the Rev. Henry Martyn states, that in 1812 
there were 500 families,! who attended twelve parish churches, 
served by about twenty priests. They are a poor oppressed 
race, and consequently unprincipled, deceitful, and mean. 

The causes which reduced the city of Ispahan to its pres- 
ent condition have extended to the whole district. All the 
way indeed to the frontiers of Fars the eye is caught by the 

* Twenty bishops and 100 other clergy. Rev. Henry Martyn's Jour- 
nal in 1811. 

t A census stated to have been taken of the inhabitants of Julfah by 
order of their bishop, which made them 12,500. 



44 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 

appearance of villages and towns, which a nearer approach 
discovers to be almost tenantless. 

From Ispahan to Teheran the road passes through a coun- 
try which, generally speaking, presents few signs of fertility 
or populousness. During the first thirty miles, the vestiges 
of former prosperity decrease, although at the village of Moor- 
chacoor there is a considerable tract of improved land. Trav- 
ellers rind accommodation in an excellent caravansary built by 
the mother of Shah Abbas, with good stables, baths, and a res- 
ervoir of water. It is celebrated as the scene of the action 
between Nadir Shah and the Afghan AshrufT, in which the 
power of the latter was finally broken. 

The next twenty miles lead over a dreary plain without 
verdure or cultivation. So great is the deception created by 
its uniform surface, that an object fully twelve miles distant 
did not seem more than three from the eye ; and in clear 
weather it was difficult to imagine that a point which was 
supposed to be almost within hail should have proved the 
next halting-place at least a score of miles in advance. From 
thence the road winds among hills to Kohrood, a beautiful 
village in a valley abounding with orchards and fruit-trees, 
and which in spring and summer is a truly delightful place. 
From the top of the pass above Kohrood a noble prospect 
is obtained of all the country to the foot of the Elburz Moun- 
tains, with their fine outline extending from west to east as 
far as the eye can reach ; and the lofty conical peak of De- 
mawund clad in snow is seen soaring far above the rest into 
the clouds that usually rest upon its shoulders. In this range 
are seen the lovely valleys of Khonsar, Natunz, and others, 
— the first remarkable for its rich gardens and the romantic 
character of its rocks, — the second famous for its pears, 
peaches, and pretty girls. All this district produces abun- 
dance of excellent silk. 

An agreeable ride down the glen brings the traveller to the 
town of Cashan, which is situated in a plain some distance 
from the mountain-foot, and visible long ere he approaches 
it. The country around is well cultivated, and yields fruits 
of all sorts, especially pears, melons, figs, and grapes. The 
pomegranates of a certain garden at Cashan are particularly 
exquisite and famous. The town itself is fully as large as 
Shiraz, while it is less ruinous and better peopled. It is said 
o have been founded by Zobeide, the wife of Haroun al 
Raschid ; but Sir William Ouseley contends that she could 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 45 



only have enlarged or rebuilt it, as it is mentioned in history 
as having, in conjunction with Koom, furnished its contingent 
of troops at the fatal battle of Kudseah (A. D. 636). It is 
now famous for the manufacture of silk and cotton stuffs, bro- 
cades, carpets, and particularly for its copper ware. 

From Cashan to Koom the road is fifty-seven miles, and 
leads chiefly through a country depopulated by the inroads of 
the Turkomans, skirting the Kuveer or great salt desert of 
Khorasan, and at the foot of a range of singularly barren 
hills, composed of rocks of a primitive character. 

No two cities can form a stronger contrast to each other 
than Koom and Cashan, — the latter neat, populous, and in- 
dustrious, — the former idle and fanatical, the abode of igno- 
rance and bigotry. On entering the gateway ruins and dirt 
meet the eye ; and if a human figure appear, ten to one it is 
that of a mollah. The place is rich only in shrines and 
priests, the domes and minarets of the imamzadehs and 
mosques being more numerous than the inhabited houses ; 
yet many even of these were falling into decay, and the storks' 
nests on their tops gave them a still greater air of desolation. 
As a place of Sheah pilgrimage it ranks next to Kerbelah 
and Mushed, and many rich gifts are offered by the more dis- 
tinguished visiters. The king frequently repairs thither, and 
keeps up a show of pious humility by walking on foot and 
bestowing presents, which, however, are sometimes more 
showy than valuable. The most celebrated shrine at Koom 
is the mausoleum of Fatima al Masoomah, — Fatima the Im- 
maculate, — a sister of Ali Reza, the eighth imam. The 
remains of this lady repose in a tomb, the top of which is en- 
closed by a frame of sandal-wood, under a green silk canopy, 
and surrounded by a grate with cross bars of massy silver. 
This occupies the centre of a lofty mosque, adorned with mo- 
saic-work in coloured tiles, and fitted up with rich carpets. 
The sepulchre is coeval with the period of Fatima' s death ; 
but the mosque was erected by the present monarch upon 
the ruins of a smaller building endowed by Shah Abbas ; 
and his mother covered the dome with gilt tiles, which make 
a resplendent show even at a great distance. All the SufTa- 
vean kings have added to its ornaments or its wealth. The 
sword of the great Abbas hangs w r ithin the railing ; and Shah 
Sen I. and Abbas II. lie interred in the edifice. 

The city, which, from the sanctity of its priests and saints, 
has obtained the name of Daur al Monrshedeen, the Abode 



46 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



of the Pious, claims a high antiquity ; and D'Anville sup- 
poses it to be the Choana of Ptolemy. But its sacred char- 
acter has not saved it from the fanaticism or barbarity of 
other sectarians ; for it was destroyed by Timur, and by the 
Afghans in 1722, from which last misfortune it has never re- 
covered. 

From Koom to Teheran is eighty miles, the greater part 
of which lies across a desert, including an arm of a salt marsh 
called the Deria Kuveer. After leaving this barren track, 
the traveller enters a pass among low mountains, distinguished 
by the ominous name of Dereh Malek al Mout, — the Valley 
of the Angel of Death ; and dreary and dangerous enough it 
is, especially in bad weather. It fell to the lot of the author 
of these pages to ride, without stopping, except to feed the 
horses, from Koom to Teheran, and to pass the Deria Kuveer 
in a bitter evening, and this formidable valley in the dark 
snowy night that followed. The party lost their way, which 
was only found with difficulty after meeting a small caravan 
of mules ; and one of the servants was nearly frozen to 
death as they entered the caravansary of Kinaraghird. The 
sight of the plain of Teheran at daybreak, with that of the 
city at the foot of the Elburz, was most gratifying, although 
the walls were still many miles distant and the adjoining 
mountains covered with snow. 

The plain which the present capital of Persia stands has 
no beauty to recommend it ; being bare, very partially culti- 
vated, totally deficient in trees, and producing no verdure, un- 
less during spring. The city itself merits little attention, 
except in as far as it is the residence of the sovereign. It 
is about four miles in circumference, girt with a high mud 
wall, flanked with numerous towers and a dry ditch. The 
ark or palace is the only building of consequence. The ba- 
zaars are well filled ; the mosques, colleges, and caravansa- 
ries in good repair ; and the private houses are plain, but 
comfortable. It might appear strange that the monarch 
should have chosen for the seat of his court a place origin- 
ally so mean ; but this preference is explained by its vicinity 
to Mazunderan and Astrabad, the native possessions of his 
family. The population varies with his periodical motions. 
"While he continues there it amounts to at least 100,000 
souls : when he removes it decreases about two-thirds. 
There are several gardens and country-houses to which his 
majesty occasionally repairs, as the Tucht e Kujeriah and 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OY PERSIA. 47 



the Nigahristan ; but before the heats of summer commence, 
he always assembles his army, and encamps on the plains of 
Sultanieh. 

The most interesting object near Teheran are the ruins of 
Rhe, the Rhages of Scripture and of Arian, contemporary 
with Nineveh and Ecbatana, and celebrated as the scene of 
many important events. Here Alexander halted for five 
days in his pursuit of Darius. It was the capital of the Par- 
thian kings, and, above all, the birthplace and a favourite re- 
sort of Haroun al Raschid. It has been repeatedly ruined 
by wars and by earthquakes. In the tenth century it occu- 
pied a square of a parasang and a half ; but soon falling into 
decay, it was rebuilt and repeopled by Gazan Khan, and be- 
came the occasional residence of the good Shah Rokh, grand- 
son of Timur. From that time it sank gradually into ne- 
glect, and is now a heap of ruins covering a great extent of 
ground, among which the village of Shah Abdulazeem alone 
flourishes, — a green spot amid the surrounding desolation. 

From Teheran to Casbin, a distance of ninety-six miles, 
the road leads through a long valley better cultivated than 
usual, of which the Elburz forms the northern boundary. 
The latter was founded by Shapoor Zoolactaf, and previous 
to the reign of Shah Abbas was the capital of the SoofTee 
dynasty. It is one of the largest and most commercial cities 
in Persia ; although when Morier visited it in 1809 it had 
suffered severely by an earthquake, to which calamity all 
the towns at the foot of these mountains are subject. A 
strong wind blowing from the north, and called the Baud e 
Caucasan, renders the climate rather too cold in spring, al- 
though it refreshes the air in summer. 

Sultanieh, eighty-six miles farther to the westward, once 
i noble city, is now but a village in an extensive plain, which 
in summer is covered with the tents and huts of the royal 
army surrounding the palace of the king. The tomb of 
Sultan Mohammed Khodabundeh, brother of the celebrated 
Gazan Khan, a noble structure of brickwork, with a dome 
once covered with lackered tiles, forms a conspicuous ob- 
ject amid the ruins. 

From this point a route, leading in a general direction 
south-south-west, carries the traveller across the country to 
Hamadan and Kermanshah, through mountainous tracts va- 
ried with fertile spots and pleasant valleys. The first of 



48 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



these cities, supposed to occupy the site of Ecbatana,* stands 
at the foot of Elwund, the ancient Orontes, the snowy peak 
of which forms a fine feature in the landscape, and is well 
contrasted with the rich cultivation and foliage that surrounds 
the town. It was destroyed by Timur ; and though once 
possessed of considerable magnificence, is now a collection 
of clay-built houses, containing a population of about 50,000 
persons. The chief objects of curiosity, besides the antiqui- 
ties, are two buildings said to be the sepulchre of Esther 
and Mordecai. and that of the philosopher Avicenna, or, as 
he is called by the Persians, Abo Sinnah. 

Between Hamadan and Kungawur intervenes a fertile 
tract held by a branch of the tribe of Affshar. The small 
town of Kungawur, which D'Anville considers as the Con- 
cobar of antiquity, is remarkable for the ruins of a magnifi- 
cent edifice described by Sir R. K. Porter, and by him sup- 
posed to have been the celebrated temple of Diana. A fur- 
ther route of fifty-two miles conducts to Kermanshah, a 
thriving city, exhibiting in the time of the traveller just 
named the advantages derived from the residence of a prince 
and court less dependant than others upon that of the prin- 
cipal sovereign. It contains about 15,000 families, and is 
adorned with many handsome public buildings. 

Of the large expanse of country between Kermanshah ancf 
Ispahan, comprehending Louristan, we can only say that 
it embraces some of the most fruitful parts of Irak ; although, 
being chiefly occupied by the wandering tribes of Lac, Fei- 
lee, and Buchtiaree, little attention is paid to agriculture. 
The valleys are covered with their black tents, but the vil- 
lages are very rare. The only town is Korrumabad, the an- 
cient Corbiene, the capital of the Feilee chief ; but to the 
north-east lie Hissar, Boorojird, and Nahavund. This last 
is a name disastrous to Persia ; for it was on the adjoining 
plains that the contest was decided between the votaries of 
Zoroaster and the followers of Mohammed, and that the last 
of the race of Sassan beheld the ancient banner of Iran sink 
before the green ensigns of his Arabian invaders. f 

The district of Yezd is, somewhat inconsistently in a geo- 
graphical point of view, considered as belonging to Irak, for 

* See Kinneir's Memoir, p. 125. Porter's Travels, vol. ii. p. 104, &c. 
t See Family Library, No. LXVm. Arabia, Ancient and Modem, 
vol. i. 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 49 



it assuredly makes part of Khorasan. It is an oasis in the 
vast desert which reaches from the Elburz to Kerman. The 
city is built in a large sandy plain nearly encompassed with 
hills ; but a thinly-inhabited tract, in which there are several 
respectable towns and villages, extends in the direction of 
Ispahan, from which it lies due east. In spite of the dry- 
ness of the soil and climate the territory produces good fruits, 
silk, and corn, but not enough of the latter to serve for more 
than forty days' consumption. Yezd, with all these disad- 
vantages, is among the most prosperous cities in Persia ; 
and this it owes to its commerce and manufactures. It is 
one of the great entrepots between the east and west. Car- 
avans from Cabul, Cashmere, Bokhara, Herat, Mushed, 
Kerman, are met by merchants from Ishapan, Shiraz, Cashan, 
Teheran, and an immense interchange of commodities takes 
place. On the other hand, its manufactures of silk and other 
stuffs, its felts, sugarcandy, and sweetmeats, command a 
read)? market everywhere. The population was stated to 
Captain Christie to be about 50,000 souls, and among them 
are 3000 families of Ghebres or followers of Zoroaster, — an 
industrious and patient race, who, in spite of a heavy taxation, 
turn their attention busily to trade and agriculture. 

Kurdistan, which comprehends Assyria Proper, and part 
of Armenia and Media, has never, properly speaking, been 
subject to Persia ; for, though force or policy may have at- 
tached some chiefs to a particular prince or dynasty, its war- 
like tribes have, for the most part, maintained their inde- 
pendence. The greater portion of the country consists of 
mountains, sometimes of great height and utterly barren, but 
frequently including fertile tracts of pasture and even of 
cultivable land, while they are occasionally sprinkled with 
oak-forests, which yield excellent timber and abundance of 
gall-nuts. Of those leaders who profess themselves the 
tributaries or subjects of the Persian crown, the Prince of 
Ardelan is by far the most powerful. 

The province which bears that name extends in length 
about 200 miles, in breadth 1 60, stretching from the plain of 
Hamadan to the small river Sharook. The country is either 
composed of hills heaped, as it were, on each other, or of 
great table-lands covered with the flocks and tents of the 
Eeliauts from June till the end of August, when they remove 
to the vicinity of Bagdad for warmth. The glens are narrow 
chasms in the lower parts of the mountains, where the vil- 



50 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA, 



lages are built in situations to protect them from the inclem- 
ency of winter. The town of Senna is a romantic and 
nourishing place, secluded in a deep valley tilled with orchards ; 
and here, in a sumptuous palace built on a small hill in the 
centre of the town, lives the wallee in great state, but in a 
truly patriarchal style. He is an accomplished, liberal-minded 
man, hospitable and beloved. u It was impossible," says 
Colonel Macdonald Kinneir, " to contemplate this chief sit- 
ting at the head of his hall, surrounded by his friends and re- 
lations, without calling to mind the Percys and Douglases 
of our own country."*" 

Azerbijax or Media Atropatena (an appellation derived 
from a satrap, Atropatenus, who on the death of Alexander 
aspired successfully to sovereign power), lying now on the 
frontier of Persia, is of great importance. It is separated 
from Armenia on the north by the Aras ; from Irak by the 
Kizzelozeen ; the Caspian Sea and Ghilan bound it on the 
north-east, and Kurdistan on the south-east. Including Eri- 
van, Karabaug, and Karadaug, it is divided into twelve dis- 
tricts ; and its capital is Tabriz or Tauris, which was a fa- 
vourite residence of Haroun al Raschid, to whose wife its 
foundation has been attributed. This province is one of the 
most productive in the kingdom, and presents features which 
differ from those w r e have been describing. Its mountains 
are loftier and afford better pasture, while its valleys are 
larger than those of Fars and Irak. The villages are less 
ruinous, and are more pleasantly situated. Provisions and 
comforts abound, and nothing is wanting but a good govern- 
ment to render its inhabitants happy. 

One of the most interesting objects in Azerbijan is the 
great salt lake of Urumeah or Shahee, which, according to 
Colonel Macdonald Kinneir, is 300 miles in circumference. 
It is surrounded by picturesque mountains and valleys, some 
of the latter being fertile and well cultivated, and has in its 
vicinity several celebrated towns, among which is Maragha, 
once the abode of Hoolaku Khan, who with his wife is sup- 
posed to be interred here. The site of the observatory of 
Nazir u Dien, the first astronomer of his day, can be traced 

* This fine old chief received the English envoy and his suite in 
princely style : the party was met three miles from the town by his 
eldest son at the head of 300 admirably-appointed horsemen ; and the 
watlcc himself assured Sir John Malcolm he would ever consider his 
%isit as an epoch in th« annals of bis family. 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 51 



on the top of a hill close to the city. There are also near it 
some singular caves, with altars not unlike the lingam of 
India. Urumeah, on the other side of the lake, the The- 
barma of Strabo and the birthplace of Zoroaster, is situated 
in a noble plain, appears well fortified, and contains about 
20,000 souls. 

The finest scenery of Azerbijan, which though fertile is 
divested of wood and verdure, lies on the shores and moun- 
tains of that noble sheet of water. But the most remark- 
able fact connected with this lake is its saltness. The na- 
ture of the salts held in solution has not been ascertained ; 
but that they are in excess is certain from the depositions 
left upon the beach. In some places a perfect pavement, as 
it were, of the solid mineral might be seen under the shallow 
water to some distance from the brink ; in others an incrusta- 
tion of the same substance was formed, from beneath which, 
when broken, thick concentrated brine gushed out, and a sa- 
line efflorescence, extending in some places many hundred 
yards from the edge, encircled it with a belt of glittering 
white. The waters, which, hke those of the sea, appear 
of a dark-blue colour streaked with green, according as 
the light falls upon them, are pellucid in the highest de- 
gree ; but no fish or living thing is known to exist in 
them. It is said they have decreased within the last score 
of years, retiring and leaving a barren space of several thou- 
sand feet ; and a village is pointed out as once having over- 
hung the lake, which is now separated from it by a muddy 
strand covered with salt at least a quarter of a mile broad. 
The reason of this diminution does not appear ; for, while 
there is no current outward, it continues to be fed by a great 
number of large streams. 

To the north of Shahee lie the fine districts of Morand 
and Khoi. The latter is particularly fertile and well culti- 
vated ; and a town of the same name, one of the handsomest 
of its size in Persia,contains about 30,000 souls. The plain 
is celebrated as the arena of a great battle between Shah is- 
mael and the Ottoman emperor, Selim the First. 

The north-eastern division of Azerbijan comprehends the 
districts of Khalkhal, Miskeen, and Ardebil. The first is 
rough and elevated, lying on the southern face of the moun- 
tains of Ghilan, which, with those of Talish, are a prolonga- 
tion of the great Elburz chain. It affords fine hill-pasture, 
and presents good valleys and thriving villages, but is totally 



52 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIAc 



devoid of wood. The second, separated from Khalkhal by the 
magnificent range of Savalan, is of a similar character, though 
it possesses some noble plains, which, with that of Ardebii, 
run into the low land of the Karasu, and with it sink into 
the extensive steppe of the Chowul Mogan. This flat, the 
encampincr-srround of so many Eastern conquerors, and the 
scene chosen by Nadir Shah for the finishing act of the drama 
that placed the crown of Persia on his head, still produces 
rich and luxuriant herbage, and nourishes the same species 
of venomous serpents which arrested the victorious career ol 
Pompey the Great. 

Ardebii itself is a wretched place, remarkable, however, 
as the family-seat of the royal house of SoofTee, and for the 
tombs of Sheik SoofTee and Shah Ismael. There is also a 
fort built on the principles of European science, with regular 
bastions, ditch, glacis, and drawbridges, which is a greater 
curiosity in Persia than the mausoleum of a saint, It is said 
that this stronghold cost 160,000/. sterling, 

The approach from Ardebii to Tabriz is picturesque. 
From a height above the latter the eye is greeted by a mass 
of fine foliage spangled with white dwellings, forming the gar- 
dens which skirt the bank of a stream that flows past the 
town. Close under this verdant screen stands the city, with 
it3 old palace and several domes and minarets rising above 
the flat mud roofs. Beyond lies the extensive plain, undu- 
lating in the hot vapours of noon, and terminating in the lake 
Shahee ; while remote ranges of lofty mountains bound the 
view, or melt into extreme distance. 

This city is the seat of government of Abbas Mirza, the 
heir of the crown, and is interesting from the attempts made 
by that prince to introduce some improvements into certain 
branches of the public service. It enjoys a portion of that 
prosperity which the countenance of the sovereign always 
bestows ; its commerce is good, its bazaars well filled, and 
its population is great, though fluctuating. In the days of 
Chardin it boasted of 300 caravansaries, 250 mosques, and 
500.000 inhabitants, — of late the number has been rated 
variously, at fifty, eighty, and a hundred thousand ; probably 
when at the fullest it may reach this last amount. The cold 
is intense in winter, and the snow has been known to lie 
near Tabriz six months without intermission. 

The low tract which stretches along the southern shore of 
the Caspian Sea from the plains of Mogan to Astrabad. and 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 53 



from thence eastward along the foot of the Eiburz, is very 
different from the more elevated plateau of Persia ; being 
marshy, covered with forests which clothe the mountains 
nearly to their summits, extremely verdant and fruitful, and 
though liable to the disorders which a damp climate and the 
exhalations of stagnant water are apt to produce, more than 
commonly populous. Frequent rains prevail, and the waters 
are discharged by a number of streams, which at times become 
destructive and impassable torrents. The ground is for the 
most part naturally or artificially flooded more than half 
the year. A high-road formed by Shah Abbas, in the usual 
substantial style of that monarch's works, is the only one 
through this extensive district. It appears to have been fif- 
teen or sixteen feet wide, and constructed by filling a deep 
trench with gravel and small stones,* over which a regular 
causeway was very firmly built. It commenced at Kiskar, 
the western extremity of Ghilan, and, running through that 
province, Mazunderan, and Astrabad, ascended a pass leading 
to Bostam in Khorasan, and was carried to a point within 
forty-five miles of Mushed. In many places the water lies 
upon it to the depth of several feet, but even with this dis- 
advantage the hardness of the bottom renders it preferable 
to any other path. As time and want of repair, how T ever, 
have interrupted the continuity of this great thoroughfare, 
caravans frequently travel along the beach. The villages 
differ from those of other provinces, the houses being built 
in clusters of two or three in the mighty forest • in which 
they are buried, and communicating by paths known only 
to the inhabitants ; so that the traveller, while he sees no- 
thing but a wooden or grass-built hut, like those in the com- 
mencement of an American clearing, may be actually in the 
midst of a population of one thousand persons, who would 
all assemble at a moment's warning. Nothing, indeed, can 
be imagined more impracticable to an invading foe than the 
general nature of the country ; and it is singular that, brave 
and expert in the use of their arms as the Ghilanese are, 
they have opposed so slight a resistance to the sovereign, 
and have contributed so essentially to his revenues. The 
collection of government-dues is not so difficult here as else- 

* Hanway makes it broader ; but its present appearance does not beac 
svat the opinion. 

E2 



54 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



where, and if little goes to the treasury the fault does not 
lie with the ryots. But although dense forests prevail on 
the shores of the Caspian, the prospect sometimes opens 
and displays scenery which, for beauty and interest, cannot 
be surpassed in any part of the world, — large cornfields^ 
divided by excellent fences and hedges, varied with copse- 
wood, — orchards and groves, from among which the neat 
cottages of a village often peep out, and fine swelling lawns, 
with noble park-like trees dotting their green surface or run- 
ning up the hill-sides in natural glades. Such are the views 
which mingle with the bolder features of the towering 
mountains and the swelling bays and blue waters of that 
inland sea. 

The alpine ranges are inhabited by tribes only slightly civil- 
ized, but who possess some of the virtues of highlanders, 
being true to their chiefs, hospitable, bold, and active : they 
are, however, daring robbers, and do not scruple to shed 
blood. The natives of Talish, the north-western district, 
who resemble the Lesghees of Shirwan and Daghistan, are 
particularly savage and reckless. They are good marksmen, 
and maintain a great degree of independence in spite of the 
efforts of the Persian government, which by obtaining hos- 
tages endeavours to hold them in awe. 

The tract we have been describing contains three prov- 
inces, Ghilan, Mazunderan, and Astrabad. The capital town 
of the first, anciently the country of the Ghelae, is Resht,. 
which contains from 60,000 to 80,000 souls, and enjoys a 
considerable commerce in silk and other articles. Its ba- 
zaars are extensive, clean, and well kept. They are paved, 
but, like most others in Persia, not entirely protected from 
the weather ; and in them at all times may be seen many 
foreigners passing along with an air of business, while a gen- 
eral hum and bustle prevail which argue a brisk trade. En- 
zellee, the shipping port, is inconsiderable, but possesses an 
excellent harbour, completely landlocked by a sandbank in 
front, and capable of accommodating many more vessels than 
ever enter it. The most singular inconsistency is the want 
of a road to this place, which is about twelve miles from 
Resht. The depot for goods is at Peeree bazaar, and every 
thing must be transported on the backs of mules, which fre- 
quently sink up to the belly in the devious tract through the 
marshy forest. Ghilan has no other town except Lahajan, 
which contains about 15,000 inhabitants; but there are sev- 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



55 



eral stations called bazaars, where fairs are held periodically ; 
of these Fomen, Massouleh, Kiskar, and Teregoram are the 
most deserving of notice, 

Mazunderan, the ancient Hyrcania, though less valuable 
than Ghilan in point of productions is more celebrated. Its 
three chief towns are Saree, Amol, and Balfroosh ; of which 
the first is the capital, and represents the ancient Zadra- 
carta, It bears no marks of having ever been large ; the 
walls, which are of mud, with square brick towers, have a 
circuit of not more than two miles ; and its population, 
although it is the residence of a prince and his court, does not 
exceed forty thousand souls. It is irregularly built, and the 
streets are unpaved and often impassable in bad weather ; 
the bazaars are miserable huts, having little appearance of 
trade, There is a tower about a hundred feet high, formed 
of curious brickwork, and ornamented with belts of Cufic 
inscriptions, from which it is understood to be the tomb of 
Hissam u Dowlut, one of the Dilemee dynasty, who died in 
the fifth century of the Hejira.* This monument, with one 
or two other imamzadehs, are doubtless the structures taken 
by Hanway for temples of the ancient fire-worshippers. 
The ruins of Furrahbad, a royal residence erected by Shah 
Abbas, lie at the mouth of the Tedjen river, which passes Sa- 
ree, and seventeen miles distant from that town. They ex- 
hibit the remains of a noble palace with its harem and plea- 
sure-houses, a fine mosque, and a bazaar. The buildings 
were constructed in a solid style ; but such is the effect of 
the moist climate in this province, that they are now all re- 
duced to heaps of rubbish, or are so overgrown with weeds 
that they must soon become so. 

The only object of interest at Amol is the mausoleum of 
Seyed Quwam u Dien, a pious sovereign of Mazunderan, 
who flourished in the eighth century of the Hejira. It was 
erected by Shah Abbas, who was one of his descendants by 
the female line. The town contains about as many inhabit- 
ants as Saree ; but in the summer they retire to their yey- 
laks in the mountains. 

Balfroosh, the third in order, is by far the most important 
and interesting, because it affords a proof unparalleled in 
Persia of the creative powers of trade. It exhibits the grati- 

* See Price's Mahommedanism, vol. ii. p. 252, et seq.. for an aceovj?t 
cf the Dilemites. 



56 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



fving spectacle of a city purely commercial, peopled wholly 
with merchants, mechanics, and their dependants, who enjoy 
a great degree of prosperity and happiness. There is not a 
khan or noble in the place ; even the governor is a trader ; 
and there is a plain and simple air of ease, plenty, and com- 
fort, attended with a bustle and show of business, which re- 
sembles the mercantile towns of India rather than one in the 
despotic land of Persia. Its population has not been ascer- 
tained, and it is impossible to acquire an idea of its extent 
from what the eye can comprehend at any one point of view, 
owing to the density of the forest. The inhabitants compare 
it in size to Ispahan ; but the appearance of the bazaars, and 
the acknowledged number of houses in the various divisions, 
lead to the conclusion that it contains a population of not 
less than 200,000. The shipping-place is Mushed e Sir, at 
the mouth of the Bawul ; and here, as in all the rivers of 
Ghilan and Mazunderan, are caught a great number of stur- 
geon, which forms an important article of export to Russia. 
Salmon is also occasionally taken. 

A strabad is a small province, divided on the south from 
Khorasan by the Elburz Mountains, while on the north it is 
bounded by the Caspian Sea and the desert which stretches 
to its shores. lis capital, of the same name, is believed to 
owe its origin to Yezzid ibn Mehloob, an Arab general, who 
flourished towards the end of the first century of the Moham- 
medan era. Its circuit is about three miles and a half ; it is 
defended by a lofty and thick but ruinous wall ; the streets are 
generally well paved, and have a drain in the centre ; the ba- 
zaar is lar£e, but poorly filled : and there are no public build- 
ings worthy of observation. "Wood being abundant, the houses 
here, as well as in Mazunderan and Ghilan, are often wholly 
constructed of it, and thatched with tiles ; and this in As- 
trabad, w T here the villages are less buried in forest, though 
still mingled with trees, produces a pleasing effect, totally op- 
posed to the monotonous appearance of the mud hovels of 
tipper Persia. Many of the better edifices have baudgeers or 
wind-towers, to cool the apartments duringthe heats of summer. 

About sixty miles west of Astrabad lies AshrufT, the 
favourite residence of Shah Abbas, — a detailed description of 
which may be found in Hanway, and in a work by the author 
of these pages.* 

* Travel* on the Banks of the Caspian Sea Vide also p 178, 

infra 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 57 

The eastern part of Astrabad, now called Gourgan, the 
Jorjan of some authors, but undoubtedly connected with the 
ancient name Hyrcania, is a plain, partly wooded and partly 
covered with the finest pasture, and watered by a river of its 
own name, as well as by the Attruck and many lesser streams, 
Vestiges of former population are thickly spread over its sur- 
face ; but the Turkomans first ravaged, and then occupied it 
as a grazing-ground for their flocks and herds. 

An ancient tower, called Goombuz e Caoos, stands on a 
little hillock, probably artificial, in the wide plain, and is seen 
from an immense distance. It is of exquisite brickwork, and 
except at the bottom, where a mischievous attempt has been 
made to demolish it, is in as perfect a condition as when first 
built. The walls are ten feet thick, and the height is about 
150. It is hollow ; the cavity being undivided to the very 
top, where a single window in the conical roof gives light to 
the whole. Its origin is obvious ; for it is inscribed with 
two belts of Arabic characters, though now so much de- 
faced as not to be legible ; and it stands among green mounds, 
said to be the ruins of Jorjan. 

The extent of Khorasan, like that of the empire, of 
which it forms the eastern frontier, has varied with political 
events ; being held by some as comprehending all from Irak 
to the Oxus and the Indus, including not only Bactriana and 
part of Sogdiana, but also the whole of Afghanistan. We 
shall consider it as terminating on the north and east in the 
line already laid down as the general boundary of the empire. 
Unlike the rest of that country, in physical as well as politi- 
cal characteristics, this vast province, in former times the 
seat of a great empire, rich in men and cultivation, presents 
at this day an endless succession of barren plains, thinly in- 
habited, and separated by mountains ; while the whole coun- 
try is governed by petty chiefs, who by turns defy and con- 
ciliate the ruling power of Persia. The only district yield- 
ing implicit obedience is that which occupies the skirts of 
the Elburz Mountains from the boundary of Irak to Mushed, 
including the cities of Sernnoon, Damghan, Bostam, Subza- 
war, Nishapour, and their dependencies, some of which are 
fertile and well cultivated. The last-mentioned place, of old 
one of the most important in the empire, founded by Sha~ 
poor Zoolactaf, was the centre of a territory which contained 



58 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



14,000 villages, and was watered by 12,000 cannauts or sub- 
terraneous canals, besides natural streams. Ever the object 
of plunder, and often destroyed, it always rose from its ashes, 
till, at length, totally depopulated in the last Afghan invasion, 
it remained till lately a heap of ruins. In 1821 it could 
scarcely boast of 5000 inhabitants ; though the multitude of 
ruined villages, and the innumerable lines of abandoned can- 
nauts, justified the accounts of its former prosperity, and told 
an impressive tale of misfortune and oppression. 

Mushed, the capital of Persian Khorasan, rose out of the 
decay of the ancient Toos. the ruins of w T hich he but seven- 
teen miles distant. The plan of the city is by some attrib- 
uted to the Emperor Humaioon, while he was a guest of Shah 
Tamasp ; but its greatness is undoubtedly owing to the re- 
sort of pilgrims to the tomb of Imam Reza. Nadir Shah 
bestowed upon it much of his dangerous favour, and enriched 
the shrine with a bounty which still gilds its remains. Though 
containing scarcely 100,000 souls, it has numerous mosques 
and mollahs ; and they reckon sixteen madressas, some of 
which are really magnificent, while others are degraded into 
stables and cattle-pens. 

The shrine and its appendages occupy a position in the 
centre of the principal street, — a fine broad avenue, having 
in the middle a canal, once shaded with trees. The entry 
to this holy place is by a quadrangle, called the Sahn, 160 
yards long by seventy-five broad ; it is paved with gravestones, 
for all the noble and pious of the land are desirous of burial 
within its precincts. It is surrounded with a double row of 
arched niches, all superbly ornamented with lackered tiles, 
and at either end stands a lofty gateway embellished in the 
same fashion, which is probably the most perfect specimen of 
the kind in the world. Neither Jew nor Christian is per- 
mitted to intrude into this magnificent square under pain of 
death. From the side of the Sahn a gilded archway admits 
the pilgrim to the mausoleum, the exact form of which it is 
not possible to ascertain, on account of the meaner buildings 
that surround it. A silver gate, the gift of Nadir Shah, opens 
into the chief apartment, which rises like the centre nave 
of a cathedral into a noble dome, and branches out in the 
form of a cross. The whole is adorned with tiles of the 
richest colours, profuse of azure and gold, disposed in the 
most tasteful devices, while from the centre depends a large 
branched candlestick of solid silver. The dome is covered 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 61 



with gilded tiles ; and from two points, — one near the shrine 
and one on the opposite side of the Sahn, — rise two lofty- 
minarets, the lowest parts of which are cased with an azure 
coating, while the upper parts and the galleries round the top 
are richly gilt, — assuredly the most beautiful things of this 
description in the whole empire. A doorway, in the left arch 
to the north-west, leads into another apartment, richly deco- 
rated and surmounted with a dome, under which repose the 
remains of Imam Reza and of the celebrated Haroun al Ras- 
chid. The shrine is encircled by a railing of wrought steel, 
inside of which is an incomplete one of solid gold, and many 
other glittering objects. It would be endless to detail the 
splendour of the various parts of this mausoleum, as dimly 
seen by the light of lamp and taper. Combined with the 
reverential silence, only interrupted by the deep intonations 
of Arabic prayers or recitations from the Koran, and with the 
solemn mummery of the mollahs, it is quite enough to im- 
press with unmingled awe the ignorant pilgrims who flock 
thither for the purposes of devotion. 

Another passage leads through the mausoleum into a court 
belonging to a mosque of the greatest beauty, founded by the 
wife of Shah Rokh, the grandson of Timur. The screen, 
in which is placed the chief archway, the dome, and mina- 
rets, are all tastefully adorned with the usual material of col- 
oured tiles. 

The government of Mushed, which is placed in the hands 
of one of the king's sons, under the superintendence of an 
able minister, extends its authority but a little way to the 
north or south. The country between the line we have for- 
merly indicated and the desert to the north is chiefly occu- 
pied by a colony of Kurds, transported by Shah Abbas from 
the Turkish frontier to that of Persian Khorasan, bordering 
on the Uzbeck states. These people have multiplied, and 
form three distinct states, each under its own chief, who all 
maintain the manners of their forefathers, together with their 
rude independence, paying no tribute unless when it is de- 
manded at the head of an army. The most powerful of 
them resides at Khabooshan, about nine miles west-north- 
west of Mushed, and is dignified with the title of Eel- 
khanee or Lord of the Eeliauts. In this quarter is sit- 
uated the celebrated fortress of Kelaat Nadiree, which is 
a valley from fifty to sixty miles long by twelve or fifteen 
in breadth, surrounded by mountains so steep that a little 



62 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



assistance from art has rendered them quite impassable, the 
rocks being scarped outside into the form of a gigantic wall. 
A stream runs through this hollow : and its entrance and out- 
let, the only points of access, are fortified by walls and towers 
which are deemed impregnable. It contains twenty or thirty 
villages, two thousand families, and presents an extended cul- 
tivation. In 1822, this stronghold was possessed by a chief 
named Seyed Mohammed, who like others had declared him- 
self independent. 

The famous city of Meru, often the seat of empire and the 
abode of luxury, but now a mass of ruins, is not within the 
limits assigned to Persia, being nearly equidistant from 
Mushed and Bokhara — an oasis in the desert — yet it is im- 
possible to pass it unmentioned. A petty chief maintains 
the place for the sovereign of Bokhara, and hordes of Turk- 
omans encamp round the walls. Its glory has passed away, 
and even the site of the tomb of Alp Arslan is unknown.* 

To the south of Mushed, in a well-cultivated district, is 
Toorbut, the residence of the powerful ruler of the Karaooee 
tribe, who occasionally assists, but more frequently overawes 
the imbecile government ; and, in concert with other preda- 
tor) 7 leaders, lays caravans under contribution at discretion. 
The town contains from 30,000 to 40.000 souls, and enjovs 
a considerable transit-trade, being on the high road from India 
to the principal cities of Persia. 

Herat, the imperial seat of the descendants of Timur, is 
situated in a well-watered valley, thirty miles in length and 
fifteen in breadth, the whole of which is covered with villages 
and gardens. The former splendour of this capitalt has for 
the most part passed away. The present city, according to 
Captain Christie, occupies an area of about four miles, and is 
surrounded by a lofty mud wall and wet ditch, with drawbridges 
and outworks. From the Charsu, a large square in its cen- 
tre, proceed bazaars at right angles to the four respective 
gates, the principal one being covered with a vaulted roof, 
and thes~ on market-days are scarcely passable for the crowd. 
Among the numerous public buildings the Musjed e Jumah 

* See Family Library*, No. XLVIL Historical and Descriptive Ac- 
count of British India, vol. i. 

t For an elaborate description of Herat in its glory, see Major Price's 
Retrospect of Mohammedanism, vol. iii. p. 64Q. 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 63 

stands conspicuous, with its domes and minarets, once orna- 
mented superbly, but now going to decay, though it still covers, 
with its reservoirs, courts, and arcades, an area of 800 yards 
square. The private dwellings are in good order, the popu- 
lation is dense, and the commerce thriving. 

After many vicissitudes, Herat, in 1749, fell into the hands 
of Ahmed Shah Abdallee, and has since remained attached 
to the crown of Cabul. But in the late revolutions, the city 
and its dependencies were seized by the Vizier Futeh Khan 
and his brothers, who in their turn were dispossessed ; and 
it then became the retreat of the nominal monarch Mahmoud 
Shah. It has of late been held by him and his son Camran 
Mirza, who, though they raise large sums by an oppressive 
government, pay to Persia a very small annual tribute. 

Our information regarding Kerman, Seistan, Mekran, and 
Beloochistan (which is sometimes considered as a part of 
Mekran) is derived from Captains Grant and Christie, and 
Lieutenant Pottinger, who, in 1810, volunteered to explore 
these extensive regions, and, at extreme personal hazard, 
traversed them in three several directions. The first of these 
officers having landed at Gwuttur, made his way to Bunpore, 
and thence regaining the coast, marched along the shore, 
visiting every town and village as far as Bunder Abbas. The 
two others, having debarked at Somneanee, a little westward 
of the mouths of the Indus, travelled to Kelat, the chief town 
of Beloochistan ; and from thence to Nooschee, a small vil- 
lage on the borders of the Great Desert. There they sep- 
arated ; and the former, taking a northern course, pro- 
ceeded through the heart of Seistan to Herat, and thence by 
Yezd to Ispahan. The latter pursued a south-western 
direction to Bunpore, where, turning to the north-west, he 
passed through the remainder of Mekran to Kerman and 
Shiraz. Thus a somewhat accurate idea has been obtained 
of this vast and savage region ; and only those who have 
travelled among a people utterly reckless of human life, and 
through countries where the extremities of heat and cold, 
hunger and thirst, increase the horrors of the desert, can ap- 
preciate the toils of those resolute individuals who have thus 
added to our store of information. 

Kerman, the ancient Caramania, has Seistan and Kho- 
rasan on the north ; Mekran and the Gulf on the south ; 
with Laristan, Fars, and Irak on the west. According to 



64 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



Pottinger, it is exceedingly mountainous and barren. " There 
is not," observes he, " a river in the province ; and were it 
not for a few springs in the mountainous districts, and the 
kahrezes or [subterraneous] aqueducts, the natives could 
not possibly exist. As it is, water is procured with extra- 
ordinary pains, and withal is not more than sufficient to cul- 
tivate a very trifling portion of the soil ;" and all this, although 
snow lies on the mountain-tops for the greater part of the 
year. Kerman is generally divided into the desert and habit- 
able regions. The former is so impregnated with salt that 
sometimes not a blade of grass is to be found in a stretch of 
ninety miles ; and there is no water. ^Vhole armies have 
perished in this frightful waste ; and so great is the danger, 
even to those acquainted with the routes, that a courier de- 
manded a sum of 200 rupees. — a little fortune in such a 
place, — for carrying a letter from Kerman to Herat. In the 
whole tract there is but one green spot, where was built the 
town of Khubbees, in order to facilitate the trade between 
the northern and southern provinces. But that place has 
gone to decay ; and its inhabitants have become robbers, 
subsisting on the plunder of those whom it was intended 
they should protect. The most fertile portion of the habit- 
able division of Kerman is Noormanshir, which is about 
ninety miles long by thirty wide ; where the soil, consisting 
of a rich black mould watered by mountain-streams, yields an 
abundant produce, sufficient for a population far more dense 
than exists in any other part of the province. On the coast 
there are considerable date-plantations ; nor is there any 
great deficiency of forage and water. The capital is in the 
centre of a large and well-cultivated plain ; and Sheher e 
Babec, the ruins of a once splendid town, lies cradled amid 
a profusion of the most prolific fruit-gardens in Persia. 

Kerman, a city of great antiquity, was one of the most 
flourishing in the empire. Situated on the direct road from 
most of the large towns of the north, to Ormuz, and after- 
ward to Bunder Abbas, the great emporiums of oriental 
trade, it enjoyed a lucrative commerce. But its riches ren- 
dered it a tempting object of plunder ; and of the many 
conquerors and tvrants who have infested Persia, there is 
scarcely one at whose hands it has not suffered. In the 
struggles between the Zund and Kujur families, after being 
bravely defended by Lootf Ali Khan Zund. the last of the 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



85 



line, it was basely betrayed into the hands of Aga Moham- 
med Khan, by whom its male inhabitants were slaughtered 
or horribly mutilated,— its women and children given over 
to the most revolting slavery,— its buildings and fortifications 
destroyed. To commemorate this final blow to the fortunes 
of his adversary, the victor resolved to erect a trophy worthy 
of the event. Selecting from his captives 900 men, he de- 
capitated 600, and forced the survivors to carry the gory 
heads of their comrades to an appointed place, where they 
also underwent the same fate ; and the whole were piled into 
a pyramid of sculls, which remained when Pottinger visited 
the spot. 

Having been rebuilt, though on a reduced scale, it is now 
the residence of a prince of the blood and governor of the 
province. Its population amounts to 30,000 souls : the ba- 
zaars are handsome and well filled, and trade, which is re- 
viving, might, but for the evil genius of tyranny, become once 
more considerable. The wool of Kerman is celebrated for 
its fineness ; and its manufactures of shawls, felts, and 
matchlocks are in request all over Persia. But its pros- 
perity was so dependant on Gombroon that it can never again 
be what it once was. Of the latter, also called Bunder 
Abbas, once a proud child of commerce, the site is now oc- 
cupied by a collection of miserable huts inhabited by 3000 or 
4000 Arabs. The ruins of the former town and fort, as well 
as those of the English and Dutch factories, are still con- 
spicuous. * Parcels of sulphur and red ochre, articles of trade 
in those days, may yet be seen strewed about the banks of a 
small creek which formed the shipping-place ; and European 
coins and trinkets are often found by the natives. A group 
of domes, obelisks, and pillars marks the spot where those 
of our countrymen who breathed their last on this inhospi- 
table shore rest from their labours, far from their brethren and 
their homes ; and the impressive silence of the scene, with 
its traces of departed greatness, withered hopes, and disap- 
pointed ambition, suggests solemn thoughts to the reflective 
mind. 

The small province of Seistan, also called Neemroze, and 
comprehending the country of the ancient Sarangeans, has 
Khorasan on the north and north-west ; Candahar on the 

*The present Arab fort is built on the site of the Dutch factory. 
F 2 



66 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA.. 



east ; Mekran and Kerman on the south and south-west. It 
is a desert of sand and rocks, through which one fine river, 
the Heermund, holds its course, producing a strip of rich 
land, about two miles broad, on either side of which rise 
perpendicular cliffs. It affords fine pasture, is partly culti- 
vated, and numerous ruins denote its former prosperity. Doo- 
shakh or Jellalabad, the present capital, — probably the Za- 
ranga of Ptolemy, — is a small place rebuilt among the remains 
of a city which covers as much ground as Ispahan. The 
houses, formed of half-burned bricks, are two stories high, 
and have vaulted roofs. Between Rodhar, where Captain 
Christie entered Seistan, and Dooshakh, many decayed wind- 
mills were observed. The Heermund, after running through 
the province in a stream from 200 to 400 yards broad, is lost 
in the Lake Zerrah, — a shallow sheet of water, which in the 
dry season is covered with reeds and rushes. It is full, of 
fish and wild-fowl, and in it is a high island on which was a 
fortified town, Kookhozeid, the depository in dangerous times 
of the treasures of the principal families of the province. 

Seistan is now scantily peopled by tribes of Afghans and 
Belooches, who wander from place to place, pitching their 
tents among the ruins of ancient palaces, and are at once 
shepherds and robbers. Their chiefs live in fortified vil- 
lages on the banks of the Heermund, and employ them- 
selves in constant forays. The nominal ruler, when Captain 
Christie made his visit, was Baharam Khan Kyanee ; bat his 
revenue did not exceed 30,000 rupees a year, nor was his 
authoritv sufficient to restrain the depredations of Khan 
Juhan Khan, an enterprising man who lived at Illumdar 
close to Jellalabad, and laid all the country under contri- 
bution. Such is now the condition of that province which 
produced the heroes of the Shah Nameh, — of Zal and Roos- 
tum, — and of many other celebrated worthies of less ques- 
tionable existence. 

The large but barren and inhospitable province of Mek- 
ran, — the ancient Gedrosia, — which extends from the mouths 
of the Indus to Cape Jask, exhibits every variety of desert, 
in hill, rock, or plain, intermingled with some tracts where a 
river or brook enables the thinly-scattered inhabitants to raise 
a small supply of food, and to find pasture for their flocks and 
herds. A long range of mountains running east and west 
separates this province into two parts. The southern portion 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 67 



retains the name of Mekran ; the northern has acquired that 
of Beloochistan, though it might more properly be regarded 
as forming another province. 

Mekran and Beloochistan, as well as Seistan, are peopled 
by a variety of tribes, whose chiefs are more or less inde- 
pendent. Of these clans the Belooches are by far the most 
numerous, and, according to Pottinger, consist of two dis- 
tinct classes, the Belooches and the Brahooes. The first, 
wiio speak a language resembling modern Persian, are di- 
vided into three principal sections, and these again are mi- 
nutely subdivided. The men are middle-sized, spare yet 
muscular, bold and robust, but savage and predatory ; and 
though they are heard to boast of bloodshed, plunder, and 
devastation committed in the chappows, they nevertheless 
despise pilfering, — are hospitable, true to their word, and 
not devoid of generosity. They live in ghedans or tents 
formed of black felt stretched over a frame of tamarisk 
branches. From ten to thirty of these constitute a too- 
mun or village, and its inhabitants a kheil or society, which 
is usually named after some person or fanciful attribute,- — as 
Daoodee Kheil, David's Society ; Umeree Kheil, the Noble 
Society ; and so on. The people are indolent but inquisi- 
tive, temperate and sober ; restricting themselves commonly 
to two wives, and even their chiefs being content with four. 
They treat their women with respect, and do not confine 
them so rigidly as other Mohammedans. The captives taken 
in the chappows are made slaves, who after being domesti- 
cated are used with kindness, and speedily become reconciled 
to their fate. " Why should they wish to leave us 1" replied 
the Sirdar or chief of Nooskee to Captain Christie, who had 
inquired how they were prevented from escaping ; " they are 
well fed and clothed, and treated like the other members of 
my family, — they want for nothing. Come what will, they 
get a share of what I have ; and they know that the more 
they work the better we shall all fare. They have no cares : 
now, at home they would have to think of house, and food, 
and clothes, and might possibly starve after all. No, no ; 
the worst punishment we can inflict on a refractory fellow is 
to turn him about his business." 

The Brahooes, like their neighbours, are divided into an 
infinity of tribes and kheils, and are still more addicted to 
the wandering and pastoral life. They inhabit the moun- 



68 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



tains which bound Beloochistan to the east, and in winter 
often come down to the plains of Cutch Gundava. They sur- 
pass the Belooches in hardihood, are more frugal and indus- 
trious, better farmers, quieter and less prone to rapine, not so 
avaricious, revengeful, or cruel. They are faithful, grateful, 
hospitable ; and their courage being acknowledged, they are 
seldom molested. They are shorter and stouter, have round 
faces, natter features, and their hair and beards, instead of 
being black, are not unfrequently brown. They are very vo- 
racious, and live much upon animal food. They pay a far 
greater degree of deference to their chiefs ; but in most 
other respects their manners and customs resemble the Be- 
looches. Lieutenant Pottinger leans to an opinion, that these 
last derive their origin from a residue of the Seljuk Turko- 
mans, driven by the tide of conquest into this remote quarter : 
w r hile the Brahooes might lay claim to an earlier possession 
of their mountain homes. But we may observe, that there 
is in many particulars an analogy between the Belooche 
tribes and those of more settled habits in Persia ; while the 
Brahooes may be supposed to represent the Eeliauts. The 
distinguishing difference between the population of the two 
countries is, that in Beloochistan there is no class of fixed 
inhabitants like the citizens of Persia ; for the Dehwars* or 
villagers, found in Kelat and some neighbouring districts, are 
too few and too small to be taken into account. The in- 
tractable nature of the soil, and the predatory character of its 
possessors, account for the deficiency ; and the continued resi- 
dence of Hindoo merchants, in almost every village of im- 
portance, serves rather as a proof of their devotion to gain, 
than of the protection they receive, or of the encouragement 
afforded to commerce and civilization. 

The first part of this province visited by Messrs. Christie 
and Pottinger was the small state of Lus, supposed by Mac- 
donald Kinneir to be the country of the Oritae of Arrian. 
It is a sandy plain hemmed in by lofty mountains, and 
producing abundant crops. From its chief, Jam Mohammed 
Khan, who resides at Bela (a poor town of 1500 houses), 

* Lieutenant Pottinger thinks this class may probably be descend- 
ants of the Ghebres, but they rather resemble the Taujuc'ks of Cabul ; 
they are a mild agricultural people, and occupy lands free of rent, in 
consideration of services which they are bound to render to the Khan 
of Kelat. 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 69 



the travellers received much kindness, although they ap- 
peared in the humble character of agents to a Hindoo mer- 
chant, for the purchase of horses. He did all in his power 
to facilitate their progress to Kelat ; and to obviate the dan- 
gers of the enterprise, consigned them to the charge of Ruh- 
mul Khan, a chief of the Bezunga Belooches. But that 
ruffian did not fail to take advantage of their necessities, and 
even to menace their personal safety. At one moment the 
wild freebooter swore by his beard, that had they entered 
his country without leave he would have cut. them in pieces, 
and in the next breath he invited them to pass a week at his 
village. When they remarked, that they had hoped, as in- 
offensive travellers, to pass unmolested through his territo- 
ries, he replied with a grim laugh, " How could you dream 
of such a thing 1 not even a hare can enter Ruhmul Khan's 
country against his will — but you now have his word for 
your safety, and need fear nothing mortal — for the rest we 
are all in the hands of God !" In the districts through 
which they passed, his followers took whatever they wanted, 
while the terrified owners looked on, not daring even to 
remonstrate. 

A march of nearly 300 miles carried the party to Kelat. 
Their way lay through a succession of mountain-passes, bar- 
ren plains, river-courses full of jungle, and occasional 
toomuns or towns belonging to chiefs nominally subject to 
the khan, but all of them exercising an independent au- 
thority. Meer Mohammed Khan Kumburanee, the heredi- 
tary descendant of six successive rulers, the first of whom 
had snatched the sovereign power from a Hindoo rajah, was 
the chief of Kelat when Lieutenant Pottinger reached that 
place ; and his dominions embraced the large districts of 
Jhalewan and Sarewan, Cutch Gundava, Zuchree, and some 
others of less importance. But his easy and unsteady char- 
acter was unfitted to the vigorous maintenance of power. 
His revenues did not exceed 350,000 rupees, though his troops 
nominally amounted to about 30,000 men. The two first 
districts present to view a mass of tremendous mountains, 
intersected by plains which, in spite of their forbidding ap- 
pearance, produce abundance of wheat, barley, and other 
grains. The territory of Cutch Gundava, again, embraces 
a flat 150 miles long and forty or fifty in breadth, consisting 
of a rich black mould, which affords valuable crops of indigo. 



70 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



madder, cotton, and all sorts of grain ; but the blessing of 
soil and moisture is counterbalanced by the occasional prev- 
alence of the pestilential simoom, which proves fatal to many 
of the inhabitants. Kelat contains about 7000 souls, of whom 
500 are Hindoos. Its bazaar is well supplied, and it enjoys 
a considerable trade. 

After a vexatious delay the travellers quitted that place, 
and performing a journey of seventy-nine miles in a north- 
westerly course, through a barren mountainous country, 
reached Xooskee. where they separated, — Captain Christie 
proceeding, as has been already mentioned, to Herat. Noos- 
kee, which is a small sandy tract, about thirty-six miles 
square, watered by the Kysur, lies at the foot of the Kelat 
Mountains. It overlooks the great desert, which stretches 
like an ocean to the west and north-west for several hundred 
miles, embracing the oasis of Seistan, and overspreading 
with hopeless barrenness the greater part of Kennan and 
Khorasan. In its toomun, composed of the usual ghedans, 
resided Eidel Khan, the Sirdar, who, when the travellers took 
up their quarters in his Mehman Knaneh, or Guest Chamber, 
and threw themselves on his hospitality, received them with 
kindness. He did not, however, on that account, think him- 
self bound to abstain from the attempt to turn their neces- 
sities to his own advantage ; nor was it without considera- 
ble cost, as well as difficulty, that Lieutenant Pottinger at 
length was permitted to enter upon his arduous journey 
across the desert to Bunpore. The fatigues and dangers he 
underwent for upwards of three weeks were such as few 
could have supported. During three days the party had to 
travel sixty-eight miles across a waste of red impalpable sand 
raised by the wind into huge waves, like those of a tem- 
pestuous sea, over which the camels could only climb with 
extreme toil, slipping down the abrupt sides as the crests of 
running sand broke under them, while the riders were forced 
to pursue their painful course on foot. During the heat of 
noon, their distress was increased by clouds of dust that 
floated in the air, without wind or any perceptible cause, and 
w T hich, entering the mouth and nostrils, parched the throat 
and tongue, exciting an oppressive sense of suffocation, and 
increasing to excess the miseries of constant thirst. 

This tedious journey brought Lieutenant Pottinger to a 
district divided among petty chiefs, where he travelled some* 



ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 71 



times as the agent of a Hindoo merchant, sometimes as a 
hajji or pilgrim ; while at other times circumstances induced 
him to avow his European connexions. By the chief of 
Bunpore, a fort containing about 100 wretched habitations, and 
situated in an extensive plain indifferently cultivated, he was 
treated with great inhospitality, and compelled to make pres- 
ents which he could ill spare : on the other hand, the ruler 
of Basmin, in the same neighbourhood, though master of but 
a petty hold and small territory, rendered him all possible as- 
sistance. 

Another journey of 170 miles, — painful from the utter 
want of water, and perilous on account of ferocious banditti, 
carried Mr. Pottinger to Noormanshir in Kerman, whence 
he made his way to the capital of the province. The des- 
erts traversed between the latter place and Nooskee, like 
others in these countries, at all times perilous, are in the 
hotter months frequently visited by blasts of the simoom, 
which crack and shrivel up the skin and flesh, occasioning 
all the agony of scorching ; while, from the gaping rents, the 
dark and distempered blood pours out in quantities that soon 
occasion death. In some cases life seems at once dried up, 
while the corpse, changed to a putrid mass, separates limb 
from limb on being touched. The only method of avoiding 
this pestilential vapour, the approach of which cannot always 
be foreseen, is to fall upon the earth, covering the body with 
whatever garments may be at hand till the blast pass by. 
The Sahrab, or Water of the Desert, is another phenomenon 
of the wastes equally well known, and most painful from the 
disappointment it occasions ; for it usually appears in low 
spots, where water might reasonably be expected, and so per- 
fect is the deception, that mountains and rocks are reflected 
in the fallacious fluid as in a real lake. 

Mekran Proper is mountainous and barren, containing, like 
Beloochistan, some tracts less arid than the desert around 
them, which yield a little grain and pasture. The coast in 
some places produces dates and corn ; but it is so hot, that 
in summer the inhabitants scarce venture out of their huts, 
and the fiery wind scorches all vegetable life. Of the nu- 
merous torrents which furrow the mountains, and tear up the 
plains in the winter or rainy season, not one retains a drop 
of water in summer ; and their beds are usually thickets of 
babul-trees, tamarisk, and other shrubs. No country can be 



72 ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES OF PERSIA. 



imagined more ungenial and forbidding ; and the natives are 
a puny, unsightly, and unhealthy race, — dissipated and sen- 
sual, addicted, both men and women, to every vice and ex- 
cess, including that of habitual drunkenness. They are all 
robbers and plunderers, utterly devoid of compassion, and 
reckless of human blood ; and those who occupy the moun- 
tains bordering on Beloochistan are yet more ferocious and 
treacherous than their neighbours, without any of their re- 
deeming qualities. The province is divided into districts, 
each governed by some petty chief ; for, though the Khan 
of Kelat is nominal sovereign of the whole country, he has 
no real power in its southern quarters. 

This extensive region possesses a great variety of climate. 
The coast of Mekran and the sandy deserts suffer the utmost 
degree of heat ; and the snow, which perpetually covers the 
peaks of its northern mountains, betokens the extreme of an 
opposite temperature. In many parts the cold is excessive ; 
and heavy falls of snow and sleet often endanger the safety 
of travellers. But many of the mountainous districts of 
Beloochistan may boast of atmosphere little, if at all, inferior 
to that of Europe. The heat is never too great, and the 
seasons follow each other in regular succession. Crops ripen 
early, and for the most part securely ; so that, in spite of its 
forbidding aspect, it might, under a well-regulated govern- 
ment, be a happy and contented, if not a rich and powerful 
country. 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



73 



CHAPTER III. 

Ancient History of Persia. 

Early History wrapped in Fable— Sources entitled to Credit — Shah Na- 
meh — Prose Histories — Assyrian Empire overthrown by the Medes — 
Early History according to the Dabistan— According to Mohammedan 
Authors— Paishdadian Dynasty— Conquest of Persia by Zohauk — Re- 
volt of Kawah— Feridoon— Kayanian Dynasty— Kei Kobad— Perplex- 
ity of the Subject — Conquest of Persia by Cyrus — Uncertainty of his 
History — Darius I.— His Career — Probably the Gushtasp of the Per- 
sians — Darius Codomanus— His History according to Greek and Per- 
sian Writers — Anecdotes of Alexander the Great — Death of Darius — 
Parthian Dynasty— Obscurity of the Period— Character of their Empire 
—Overturned by Ardeshir Babegan, first of the Sassanians— History 
of that Dynasty— Defeat of Valerian by Shapoor— Baharam Gour — 
Nooshirwan— Khoosroo Purveez — Rise of Islamism — Irruption of the 
first Mohammedans— Overthrow of the Empire, and Death of Yez- 
dijird. 

The earlier ages of Persian, as of all other history, are 
wrapped in fable and obscurity ; but it has been judiciously ob- 
served, that if we would investigate the rise and progress of 
a nation, we must not altogether reject the mythology which 
conceals the traces of its origin. In drawing, however, from 
such sources, a distinction must be made between that which, 
having been early recorded, has been handed down pure, and 
those looser traditions which, being the growth of more 
recent times, must be viewed with greater suspicion. 

Whatever we possess at all entitled to credit concerning 
the remoter periods of Persian history has been gathered 
from two sources. In the first place, from the pages of the 
Jewish Scriptures ; and, secondly, from several pagan 
authors, particularly Herodotus, Diodorus, Ctesias, Strabo, 
Arrian, and others, who, living in an early age, collected and 
recorded the still more ancient notices which existed in their 
day. Little assistance is to be gleaned from native writers ; 
for the absence of all genuine records before the era of Mo- 
hammedanism, casts a shade of doubt on all they have com- 
piled regarding the early times of their country. The ia- 



74 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA, 



natical zeal* of the Moslem invaders, and its destructive 
effects upon the literature of the vanquished, is well known. 
"When cities were razed, temples burned, and the priests 
slaughtered round their altars, every book or other monument 
that could be discovered was also devoted to destruction. 
More than three centuries of darkness brooded over the 
Eastern World, before an effort vyas made to search out and 
arrange the few relics that might have escaped the general 
wreck. A prince of the house of Saman,f who boasted his 
descent from Baharam Choubeen, one of the Sassanian 
monarchs, was the first to gather together the scattered 
fragments, which he deposited in the hands of Dukiki, with 
directions to arrange them into a poem that should contain 
the history of the kings from Kayomurz to Yezdijird. But 
Dukiki was assassinated by one of his own slaves, when he 
had written only a thousand couplets, and the task devolved, 
nearly a century afterward, on the celebrated Ferdusi. This 
great poet, the Homer of Persia, at the command of Mah- 
moud of Ghizni, followed up the conception of his predeces- 
sor, and produced the celebrated epic of the Shah Nameh, 
or History of Kings. This remarkable work, elaborated from 
such slender materials as its author could collect, — and 
slender indeed they must have been, since not a fragment 
has survived to give an idea of their nature, — amplified by 
his own vivid imagination, and adorned by his genius, — com- 
prises almost all that Asiatic writers can produce on the 
subject of Persian and Tartarian history previous to the in- 
roads of the new believers. The prose chronicles of a later 
date, — as the Rozat al Suffa, the Kholausut al Akbar, the 
Zeenut al Tuareekk, and others, — being compiled from 
documents not more authentic, by writers who lived in more 
recent times, can have no juster claim to consideration. 

The first approach to an independent sovereignty in the 
countries of Modern Persia occurred in the year B. C. 
747. It was then, according to the best chronologists, 
that Arbaces, governor of Media, conspired with Belesis, 

* Gibbon doubts of the reputed fate of the celebrated library of Alex- 
andria ; but the general ill consequences to literature from Mohammedan 
fanaticism are indisputable. The fact related by Petit la Croix, in the 
history of Zingis Khan, of the; Mogul troops littering their horses with 
the leaves of manuscripts from the libraries of Bokhara, sufficiently ex- 
emplifies the natural effects of a conquest by these barbarians. 

t Historians are not agreed whether this was ismael Samani, or 
Ameer Noah, his ^reat grandson. 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 75 



governor of Babylon, and other nobles, against the effemi- 
nate Sardanapalus, with whom terminated the monarchy of 
the Assyrians. 

Arbaces has by some been held to be the first sovereign 
of Media ; but Herodotus attributes that distinction to De- 
joces, the son of Phraortes, who, taking advantage of the 
disorders of the land, and aided by his own reputation, raised 
himself to the rank of a king. Before, however, proceeding 
farther with this portion of our history, it may be proper to 
advert to the fables and traditions of the Persians regarding 
the origin of their monarchy. 

According to the Dabistan, time from all eternity has 
been divided into a succession of cycles. To each of these 
is allotted its peculiar class of beings, who terminate along 
with it, leaving only a single male and female to be the pa- 
rents of a future race. The resemblance of this system to 
that of the yugs of the Hindoos is sufficiently obvious, and 
may no doubt be held as a good argument against its origin- 
ality, and consequently against the antiquity of the work 
itself. 

At the end of the great cycle which preceded the present 
one, a being named Mahabad was the individual spared to be 
the progenitor of a new world. He was the first lawgiver, 
monarch, and priest ; he taught the primitive arts of life, 
and was succeeded by thirteen descendants, who, treading 
in his footsteps, diffused among mankind all the felicity of 
the golden age. The last of these patriarchal kings, how- 
ever, Azerabad, having retired to a life of solitary devotion, 
the world fell into a state of universal anarchy, from which, 
after a great length of time, it was rescued by Jy Affram, a holy 
person, who was admonished by the angel Gabriel* to assume 
the reins of government, and restore peace and happiness. 
The new dynasty thus founded was brought to a termination 
by the disappearance of its last monarch Jy Abad, and followed 
by another period of misery and confusion. A similar alter- 
nation of good and evil was repeated for two more succeed- 
ing dynasties, when the predominance of wickedness be- 
came so great, that an offended deity converted the bad 
passions, into the means of their own punishment. Murder 

* The introduction of the angel Gabriel is of itself sufficient to defeat 
flic claims ef the Dabistan to high antiquity, and to fix upon it the stamp 
of forgery. 



78 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



and violence accomplished his will, — the few human beings 
still remaining took refuge in woods and caverns, and left 
the earth desolate, until it was the Divine pleasure to call 
into being Kayomurz, or Gil Shah,* who, properly speaking, 
seems to have been the first of the present race of mankind, 
to deliver them from their fallen condition. 

Such is an abridged account of the Mahabadean dynasty, 
as given by Sir John Malcolm on the authority of the Da- 
bistan, the only historical work extant that professes to have 
collected the doctrines of the ancient Ghebres on this sub- 
ject ; and the duration assigned to each family of kings is so 
extravagant, as to prove beyond dispute that the work is en- 
tirely founded on fable. 

According to all Mohammedan authors, Kayomurz was 
the first monarch of Persia, and they trace his descent to 
Noah (Zeenut al Tuareekk). He was the founder of that 
race of kings who have been termed Paishdadians, or Ear- 
liest Distributors of Justice. His actions have been magni- 
fied into miracles ; his enemies are denominated deeves or 
magicians ; his confederates were the lions and tigers of the 
forest ; and after a succession of brilliant exploits he retired 
to Balkh, his capital, where he died, or resigned the crown 
to his son Hoshung, after a reign which had been restricted 
to the moderate term of thirty years. The second of the 
Paishdadians, a virtuous prince, was the inventor of many 
useful arts ; among others, that of procuring fire from the 
collision of flint stones, and of irrigating land by means of 
aqueducts. He continued on the throne forty years, and was 
succeeded by his heir Tahmuras, who, from his successful 
struggles with the magicians, was surnamed Deevebund, and 
held the crown thirty years. Jumsheed, the fourth monarch 
of the dynasty, is one of the most celebrated of all the fabu- 
lous heroes of Persia. His power and riches are the theme 
of her historians and romance-writers, by whom he is ex- 
tolled as the great reformer of his countrymen, and the au- 
thor of many useful inventions, — and among others, the art of 
making wine. A long course of prosperity, however, created 
in this prince an inordinate arrogance, which was punished 
by the invasion of Zohauk, prince of Syria, who drove him 
from his dominions, and at length put him to a cruel death. 

* This name signifies the earth king, or king of the earth, gil meaning 
clay. 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



77 



This conqueror, a Syrian according to some, by others 
supposed to be an Arabian, the descendant of Shedad, and 
by others again, to be identical with the Nimrod of Holy 
Writ, is by all represented as a tyrant delighting in blood. 
The courage of Kawah, a blacksmith, delivered the nation 
from his sanguinary rule. To save his sons, who were 
doomed to be the victims of the monster's cruelty, he flew 
to arms, roused his countrymen, and using his apron as a 
banner, he overthrew and slew the usurper, and placed Feri- 
doon, a descendant of Tahmuras, upon the throne of his an- 
cestors. In these events the first glimmerings of truth break 
through the veil of fable that clouds the early history of Persia. 
The blacksmith's apron, which, adorned with jewels by the 
grateful prince, continued for ages, under the appellation of 
Durufsh e Kawanee, to be the royal standard, was taken 
during the first Mohammedan invasion, and sent to the Ca- 
liph Omar, — affording thus a powerful confirmation of the 
traditions of that period. * 

The Persian historians dilate with enthusiasm on the jus- 
tice, wisdom, and glory of Feridoon, whose virtues and 
prosperity acquired for him the emphatic appellation of E 
Furrookh, — The Fortunate. The evening of his long reign, 
which Ferdusi protracts to the period of 500 years, was 
clouded by family quarrels, and the murder of his youngest 
son Erij by his brothers. This crime was severely punished 
by Manucheher, the heir of the slaughtered prince, who suc- 
ceeded to the throne of his grandfather. The reign of this 
virtuous sovereign, who by some is conceived to be the Man- 
dauces of the Greeks, is remarkable as that in which Roos- 
tum, the celebrated national hero, makes his appearance. 
The miraculous birth and education of this wonderful per- 
sonage, no less than the exploits of his long life, are the 
darling subject of the Shah Nameh. Nouzer, the son of 
Manucheher, by some regarded as the Sosarmes of Ctesias, 
a weak and contemptible prince, after enjoying supreme 
power seven years, was dethroned by Afrisiab, king of Too- 
ran or Tartary, who held possession of Persia twelve years. 
This usurper was expelled by Zal, the father of Roostum 
and hereditary prince of Seistan, who placed Zoo or Zoah 
on the throne. The prince now named was succeeded bj 



*See Family Library, No. LXVIII. Arabia, Ancient and Modern. 



78 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



Kershasp, his son, who has been regarded as the Arbianes 
of Ctesias and Cardicias of Moses of Chorene ; but, being 
held incompetent, he was set aside by the all-powerful Zal, 
and with him terminated the Paishdadian dynasty, which, by 
the Persian computation, governed the country for 2450 
years. " Of this race," observes Sir John Malcolm, " the 
names of only twelve kings remain, and of them we have 
hardly one fact, except the revolution of Kawah, that can 
be deemed historical !" 

With the Kayanian dynasty, which, by both ancient and 
modern historians, has been recognised as that of the Medes, 
commences the first era which admits of comparison with 
the more authentic records of Western annalists. The Kei 
Kobad of Ferdusi in all probability represents the Dejoces 
of Herodotus and of Moses of Chorene, and the Arsagus 
of Ctesias, who, in the year B. C. 710, when Persia was 
suffering under anarchy, was elected king by an assembly 
of nobles. The reign of this prince according to the Greek 
historian was fifty-three years, but according to Ferdusi 120. 
He built a magnificent palace, founded Ecbatana, and was 
the first who assumed an unusual degree of pomp, and of 
seclusion from his subjects. 

Herodotus informs us that Dejoces was succeeded by his 
son Phraortes, who swayed the sceptre twenty-two vears. 
There is no king in Persian history that corresponds with 
this prince ; though Sir John Malcolm thinks the two suc- 
ceeding reigns of Cyaxares I. and of Astyagres are included 
in that of Kei Kaoos, who, according to Ferdusi, was the 
son and successor of Kei Kobad ; but the perplexing fictions 
with which the genius of the poet has invested the events 
of this period has rendered his labours useless to the histo- 
rian. The coincidence of the reigns of Kei Kaoos and 
Cyaxares rests upon a single fact, — a total eclipse of the 
sun, which took place during an engagement between the 
Medes, commanded by the latter sovereign, and the Lvdians, 
in the year B. C. 601 ; and which is supposed to be the 
game phenomenon that, according to Ferdusi, struck the 
army of Kei Kaoos with sudden blindness in a battle with 
the Deeves in Mazunderan. The occurrences may be identi- 
cal, but it is at best a doubtful conjecture. 

The conquest of Persia by Cyrus the Great forms one 
of the most important evas in the annals of that nation. 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



79 



Much pains has been taken by Sir John Malcolm to recon- 
cile the account of Cyrus, as given by Herodotus, with that 
of Kei Khoosroo, narrated by Ferdusi ; but when it is con- 
sidered, that, even in the days of the Greek annalist the 
personal history of that conqueror had already become un- 
certain, it is scarcely necessary to observe that ail such specu- 
lations must be unsatisfactory. 

The Persians, according to Heeren, were previously a 
highland people, and led a nomadic life. They were classed 
into ten tribes, of which the Pasargadae was the ruling horde ; 
and the result of this division was a patriarchal government, 
the vestiges of which may be traced throughout their whole 
history. 

The revolution effected by Cyrus was, therefore, like most 
other important revolutions of Asia, the effort of a great 
pastoral people, which, impelled by necessity and favoured 
by circumstances, forsook their own seats in search of more 
peaceful and permanent abodes, and drove out some pre- 
viously successful invader, to experience in the end a similar 
fate, when luxury and degeneracy should have accomplished 
their work. Cyrus,* a descendant of Achasmenes, probably 
of the Pasargadae, was elected leader of the Persian hordes, 
and by their assistance became a powerful conqueror, at a 
time when the Median and Babylonian kingdoms (B. C. 561 
and 538) were on the decline. On their ruins he founded 
the Persian empire, which rapidly increased, until his domin- 
ons extended from the Mediterranean to the Indus and the 
Oxus. But in an expedition against the tribes of Central 
Asia he' was unsuccessful, and according to some accounts 
fell in the field of battle. 

There is no incident, however, as we have already observed, 
in which authors have differed more widely than on the fate of 
this monarch. Herodotus and Justin, as well as Diodorus 
Siculus, state that he was taken prisoner, and put to death 
by Tomyris, queen of the Massage tae. Ctesias says he was 
slain by the javelin of an Indian, while making war on the 
dervishes of that country ; but Xenophon informs us that 
he died in his bed, after delivering an edifying address to his 
two sons, and was buried at Pasargadae in the year B. C. 

* The same who is so frequently mentioned in Scripture. Vide Isaiah, 



80 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



529. This is the account which is preferred both by Rollin 
and the authors of the Universal History, who cannot recon- 
cile the fact of his tomb being actually seen at Pasargadae 
two centuries afterward, by Alexander the Great, with his 
reputed death among the barbarians of Scythia. 

Cambyses, the Ahasuerus of Scripture, "the son of Cyrus, 
a cruel and intemperate monarch, succeeded his father. 
After reducing Egypt to the condition of a colony, and over- 
running a great part of Northern Africa, he was accidentally 
killed by his own sword, which wounded him in the thigh as 
he mounted his horse. 

Cambyses was followed by Pseudo Smerdis, who, person- 
ating the murdered brother of the deceased monarch, was, 
by a faction of the Magi, raised to the throne. But Otanes, 
a Persian nobleman of high rank, suspecting the deceit, de- 
tected it by means of his daughter Phoedyma, who, having 
been the wife of the late king, was retained in the false mon- 
arch's harem. Taking to his councils six other chiefs, he 
put the impostor to death, after a reign of eight months, and 
slaughtered a multitude of the Wise Men. The conspira- 
tors then deliberated regarding the fittest form of govern- 
ment ; and having decided that an absolute monarchy was 
the best, the whole seven agreed to meet on horseback at 
sunrise without the city, and that the crown should be given 
to him whose horse should neigh first. 

The trick of jEbares, the groom of Darius Hystaspes, 
which secured the supreme power to his master, is well 
known. On the preceding evening he brought his master's 
horse, together with a mare, to the appointed spot ; the ani- 
mal on the ensuing morning neighed as soon as he reached 
it, and that noble, who it appears drew his descent from 
Achasmenes. was immediately saluted king. His long and 
successful reign was marked by events which exercised a 
powerful influence over the destinies of Persia. Not less a 
legislator than a conqueror, he divided the empire into nine- 
teen satrapies, on each of ivhich was imposed a fixed trib- 
ute. This arrangement, which, according to Heeren, 
amounted solely to a partition of the various tributary races, 
subsequently assumed a geographical character, in which the 
ancient distribution of countries was for the most part ob- 
served. The duties of the satraps appear at first to have 
been confined to the collection of imposts, the improvement 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 81 



of agriculture, and the performance of all the royal com- 
mands. They were purely civil governors, although, by an 
abuse of the institution, they afterward acquired military 
command. An efficient system of checks upon these officers 
was imposed ; periodical visits were paid to each district by 
royal commissioners, or by the king himself, accompanied by 
soldiers ; and an establishment of couriers was formed for 
transmitting edicts to every quarter of the empire. 

Nor was the organization of his army less an object of 
the monarch's attention. It was distributed into commands, 
formed on the principle of decimal division, — a system which 
has ever since prevailed. The troops were cantoned in 
the open field, in districts throughout the empire, or sta- 
tioned as garrisons in cities, distinct from the encampment, 
where they were maintained at the cost of the provinces, — 
a special portion of the taxes being allotted for the purpose. 
In process of time Greek mercenaries were taken into pay ; 
the grandees and satraps entertained a military household ; 
and on occasion of great wars recourse was had to a general 
conscription. 

The arms of Darius's predecessors had been directed 
against the regions of Asia and Africa alone. This monarch 
crossed the Thracian Bosphorus and invaded Europe with 
an army of 70,000* men. But his attempt to subdue the 
Scythian tribes between the Danube and the Don being un- 
successful, in his retreat he overran Thrace and Macedon ; 
thus establishing the Persian power in Greece, — a measure 
fraught with most disastrous consequences to his successors. 
His efforts in the East were more fortunate ; and the year 
B. C. 509 was signalized by the commencement of that ex- 
. traordinary voyage undertaken at his command by Scylax, 
a mariner of Caria. A fleet was equipped at Caspatyra, a 
city on the Indus, and the enterprising Greek launched his 
vessels on that river, with directions to proceed westward 
until he should come to Persia. He crossed the Gulf, and 
coasted the barren land of Arabia to the Straits, of Bab e) 
Mandeb, which he entered, and after thirty months' naviga- 
tion reached Egypt. The information he communicated in- 
duced Darius to invade India with a large army, and several 

* Rollin remarks, that in several copies of Herodotus this army is 
stated as consisting of 700,000 men, and Justin says the same; but there 
can be little doubt that 70,000 is the true reading. 



82 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



of its rich provinces soon became the twentieth satrapy of 
his" empire. These successes were clouded, it is true, by 
reverses in the West ; and the revolt of Egypt, the burning 
of Sardis, and the defeat of Marathon (September 29, B. C. 
490), darkened the glory and counterbalanced the advantages 
of his victories in the East. He resolved to repair these 
disasters in person ; but death* arrested his progress, and 
he bequeathed to his son Xerxes the task of punishing Athens 
for having asserted her freedom. 

Although there exist the best grounds for identifying the 
Gushtasp of Persian historians with Darius Hystaspes, and 
though it seem equally well established that in his reign the 
celebrated Zerdusht, or Zoroaster rose into fame, no notice 
whatever is taken of that philosopher by any of the Greek 
writers. The king was the first convert of this sage, who 
had devoted his life and talents to purify the religion of his 
ancestors ; and so zealous did the monarch become in the 
propagation of this reformed faith, that he built fire-temples 
in every quarter, and compelled his subjects to worship at 
them. This change of religion became the cause of a bloody 
war between the empires of Iran and Tooran, in which Is- 
fundear, the son of Gushtasp, another celebrated hero of 
Persian romance, performed a series of exploits not inferior 
to those of Roostum, by whom, however, the young warrior 
was at length slain in an expedition against that aged chief 
in his hereditary dominions. 

The reign of Xerxes I., disgraceful towards its close, pre- 
sented during its earlier period events as important to his 
country as remarkable in themselves. A gleam of success 
illumined his first efforts, and the revolt of Egypt was pun- 
ished by its being subjected to the sanguinary vengeance of 
Iris brother Achaemenes. But the mighty armament, in the 
preparation of which he is said to have spent three years, 
was checked by a handful of devoted patriots at Thermo- 
pylae, and destroyed at Salamis, Platasa, and Mycale ; and 
the ostentatious review of his 3,000,000 of troopsf and 3000 

* His epitaph, which records his remarkable power of drinking much 
wine and bearing it well, presents a singular trait of national manners ; 
and it is curious to mark the change, in this respect, of more modern 
times. Whatever be the vices of Mohammedanism, that of intemper- 
ance cannot be numbered among them. 

if Or, with camp-followers, women, and all his allies or tributaries, 
5,263,2-20 men. This, obserre the authors of the traversal History, is 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 83 



ships, was strikingly contrasted with his secure contempla- 
tion of his defeat by the Greeks, and his cowardly flight from 
the scene of disgrace in a single fishing-boat. 

Of his remaining years little knowledge has reached our 
times, if we except the bloody intrigues of the seraglio, to 
which he fell a victim in the twelfth,* or, as some say, the 
twenty-first of his power. It is singular that no trace of this 
monarch appears in Persian history ; nor can the omission 
be explained on the grounds of national vanity, for similar 
neglects are to be found where the facts would have altoge- 
ther redounded to their own honour. Sir John Malcolm 
supposes that the prolonged period attributed to the reign 
of Gushtasp, — sixty years, — may comprehend those of Da- 
rius and his son Xerxes, who in that case would be identified 
with Isfundear. 

That Bahman, the son of Isfundear, who, on his accession 
to the throne of his grandfather, assumed the name of Ar- 
deshir Dirazdusht, or the Longhand ed, is the Artaxerxes 
Longimanusf of the Greeks, who succeeded his father 
Xerxes upon the assassination of that prince by Artabanes, 
appears to be sufficiently ascertained. He inherited a sceptre 
already weakened, and a throne which, even in the time of 
his predecessor, glorious as it was, had received a material 
shock. During forty years, however, he not only maintained 
the integrity of his dominions, but extended them, as some 
say, from India to Ethiopia ; but a recurrence of rebellions 
and other symptoms of decay exhibited themselves, which 
were developed more fully in the ephemeral reign of his son 
Xerxes II., of Sogdianus, and of Ochus, who ascended the 
throne under the title of Darius II. * 

In no period is the Persian chronology more imperfect than 
in what refers to Ardeshir Dirazdusht. Omitting all mention 
of the five succeeding monarchs recorded by Greek histo- 
rians, there is attributed to the reign of that monarch a du- 
ration of 112 years, — to a certain queen, Homai his daughter, 

the computation of Herodotus, with whom agree Plutarch and Isocrates. 
Others reduce the aggregate greatly ; but, both in the Universal History 
and by Rollin, the enumeration is considered too well authenticated to be 
called in question. 

* Rollin places his death in the year 473; the Universal History in 
464 B. C. 

t By some supposed to be the Ahasuerus of Scripture, the husband of 
Esther, although the chronology does not appear to agree. Vide Uni- 
versal History, vol. xxi. p. 85. 



84 ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



who is by some regarded as the founder of the celebrated 
hall of Chehel Minar at Persepolis, a government of thirty- 
two years, — and to her son, who is termed by them Darab I., 
an administration of twelve years. 

The Zeenut al Tuareekk, a Persian work of respectability, 
places the conquest of Babylon and the deposition of the son 
of Bucht al Nussur in this period. But if this governor was 
the Belshazzar of Scripture, as Sir John Malcolm supposes, 
such a fact would be fatal to the identity of Ardeshir Diraz- 
dusht with Artaxerxes Longimanus ; as the conquest of 
Babvlon, according to the generally-received chronology, 
occurred in the year B. C. 538, whereas Artaxerxes did not 
ascend the throne until 464 B. C. On the same grounds 
he cannot be the prince who married Esther ; for that event, 
according to biblical reckoning, took place in the year 510 
B. C. It may therefore with greater probability be applied 
to Darius I., who is supposed by the authors of the Uni- 
versal History to be the Ahasuerus of Scripture, the same 
who renewed and enforced the decree of Cyrus in favour of 
the Jews ; and who took Babylon, which had revolted, after 
a siege of two years. 

The reign of Artaxerxes Mnemon, eldest son of Darius II., 
or Nothus, was principally remarkable on account of the 
struggles for the crown in which he was engaged with his 
younger brother Cyrus, and the celebrated expedition and 
retreat of the 10,000 Greek mercenaries under Xenophon, 
who came to aid that prince. And although a temporarv 
success did gild the arms of his son Ochus, who mounted 
the throne under the title of Artaxerxes III., yet the sceptre 
was indirectly swayed by favourites ; and his reign of twenty 
years bore manifest symptoms of that decay and of those in- 
trigues which overthrew the empire under his successor. 

Darius Codomanus, the second Darab of Persian histo- 
rians, who was but a relative of the royal family, assumed 
the sceptre at a critical period (B. C. 338). Raised to the 
imperial dignity by Bagoas, an Egyptian eunuch of infamous 
character, but considerable talents, he perceived that a similar 
bondage, or even death itself, was only to be avoided by de- 
cided measures ; and he was fortunate enough to anticipate 
the designs of his minister, by forcing him to drink the very 
cup of poison which that wretch had prepared for his sove- 
reign. 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



85 



The new monarch was speedily summoned to defend the 
throne he had so hazardously won ; for Philip of Macedon 
having been murdered by Pausanias, captain of the guard, 
his son, the celebrated Alexander, was proclaimed general 
of the Greeks. In the same year (B. C. 334) the Hellespont 
was passed by that prince with an army of 35,000 men ; and 
the battle of the Granicus gave significant omen of the issue 
of the war. 

A rapid career of success in Asia Minor led to the cele- 
brated and fatal field of Issus, where the slaughter of 
100,000 Persians, and the capture of the imperial family, the 
king alone excepted, at once atoned for the insignificant loss 
of 300 Macedonians, and convinced the unfortunate Darius 
of the formidable character of his enemies. But it was at 
the still more decisive conflict of Gaugamela, commonly 
termed the battle of Arbela,* that the hapless monarch, see- 
ing his best troops mowed down or dispersed, fled from the 
ground and took refuge in Ecbatana. 

Still possessed, however, of considerable resources besides 
his faithful band of 4000 Greek mercenaries, he might still 
have maintained a struggle for the crown. But his nobles, 
seduced by the traitor Bessus, joined in a conspiracy to seize 
his person, and having insulted his fallen state by binding 
him with golden chains, they fled towards Bactriana, carry- 
ing their victim in a car covered with skins. Pursued by 
Alexander with almost incredible speed, the assassins, fear- 
ful of being overtaken, stabbed their victim and left him in 
the chariot weltering in his blood. Polystrates, a Mace- 
donian, found him in the agonies of death ; he asked for 
water, and with his last breath implored blessings on the 
head of Alexander for his kindness to his wife, his mother, 
and his children. " Present," said he to Polystrates, " your 
hand to Alexander, as I do mine to you, — the only pledge I 
have in this condition to give of my gratitude and affection." 
With these words he expired ; and with him terminated the 
dynasty founded by Cyrus, which, under thirteen consecutive 
kings, subsisted 206 years. 

The history of Darab appears to be chiefly derived from 
Greek materials, although doubtless much garbled. Accord- 
ing to the Persian authorities, who delight in exalting their 



* B C. 331. The village or town is still called Arbile 



f 

86 ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 

idol the son of Philip, his opponent Darab II. was a tyrant 
as deformed in body as vicious in mind, — a prince whose 
evil administration and private profligacy rendered it a bless- 
ing for their country to be conquered by a hero like Alex- 
ander, whom, with characteristic vanity, they endeavour to 
prove to be a son of their first Darius. For this purpose 
they pretend that Darab I., having in a war with Philip of 
Macedon reduced that monarch to sue for peace, consented 
to an amicable treaty, upon condition of receiving an annual 
tribute of 1000 eggs of pure gold, together with his daughter 
in marriage. Of this union they declare Alexander to be the 
fruit ; but the fable is rejected by the more respectable of 
their own authors. 

The Zeenut al Tuareekk nevertheless states, that the 
quarrel which proved fatal to the Kayanian dynasty did 
originate in the refusal of Alexander, after his father's death, 
to pay the tribute of golden eggs. " The bird which laid 
these eggs has flown to the other world," was his laconic 
reply to the envoys who came to demand them. The Per 
sian monarch then despatched to Macedon an ambassador, 
whom he charged to deliver to the Grecian king a bat and 
ball, along with a bag of gunjud, which is a very small seed. 
The two first were intended to throw ridicule on his youth, 
as affording tit amusement for his years. The bag of seed 
represented the innumerable multitudes of the Persian army. 
The young monarch, taking in his hand the bat, replied, " I 
accept your presents ; behold the emblem of my power ! with 
this shall I strike the ball of your master's dominion ;" and, 
ordering a fowl to be brought, winch instantly began to de- 
vour the grain, " This bird," continued he, " will show you 
what a morsel your numerous army will prove to mine." In 
conclusion, he gave the envoy a wild melon, desiring him to 
present it to his master, and to bid him judge by its taste of 
the bitter lot that awaited him in the approaching conflict. 

Few details* of the memorable war which ensued are 

* Sir John Malcolm observes, that Persian historians have referred 
the death of Darius to the first general action ; but the author of the 
Lubtareekh ( we quote from the Universal History) describes the progress 
of Alexander towards Azerbijan, where he defeated one of Darius's cap- 
tains ; that he then subdued Ghilan, and from thence advanced into 
Persia, where he defeated Darius, who fled, leaving his wiv?s and family 
in the hands of the victor; that the Persian monarch was again defeated 
in a second pitched battle, and afterward treacherously murdered by his 
own officers. 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 87 



recorded by the native writers ; but they give a particular ac- 
count of the action in which Darius lost his life, and of the 
circumstances of his death. According to them, in the heat 
of battle, two Persian soldiers, taking advantage of an un- 
guarded moment, slew their master and fled to Alexander. 
The Grecian king hastened to the spot, and found the unfor- 
tunate Darab in the agonies of death, stretched on the ground 
and covered with dust and blood. The conqueror alighted 
from his horse, and placed the dying monarch's head on his 
own knees ; his soul was melted at the sight ; he shed tears, 
and kissed the cheek of his expiring enemy, who, opening his 
eyes, exclaimed, " The world hath a thousand doors, through 
which its tenants continually enter and pass away." — " I 
swear to you," said Alexander, M I never wished a day like 
this — I desired not to see your royal head in the dust, nor 
that blood should stain these cheeks !" When the wounded 
ruler heard these words, he sighed deeply, and said he trusted 
his murderers would not escape ; that Alexander would not 
place a stranger on the throne of Persia ; and that he would 
not injure the honour of his family, but marry his daughter 
Roushunuc (Roxana). The moment after, he expired. His 
body was embalmed with musk and amber, wrapped in a cloth 
of gold, and placed in a coffin adorned with jewels. In this 
state it was carried to the sepulchral vault with extraordinary 
honours ; Alexander himself, and the chief nobles of Persia, 
attending as mourners.. The moment the funeral was over 
the assassins were hanged, and some time after, Alexander 
married Roushunuc, and nominated the brother of the late 
king to the sovereignty of the conquered country. Thus, 
however, did the dynasty of the Kayanians pass away,* and 

* Those readers who may be curious to compare the Persian account 
of the Kayanian dynasty with the monarchs recorded by the Greek his- 
torians supposed to correspond with them, may be interested in the fol- 
lowing table, — it proves little more than the hopeless character of the 
inquiry. 



PERSIAN AUTHORITIES. 
Names. Reigns. 

1. Kei Kobad, founder of the 

Kayanians, reigned 120 

No corresponding prince in 
Persian history. 

2. Kei Kaoos, 150 

No corresponding prince. 

3. Kei Khoosroo, GO 



GREEK AUTHORITIES. 



Names. Reigns. 

1. Dejoces, 53 

2. Phraortes, 22 

3. Cyaxares, 40 

4. Astyages, 35 

5. Cyrus, 30 



S8 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



such is the meager account of these great transactions given 
by Persian historians, — an account which appears to have 
been borrowed in part from the Greek writers, and mixed up 
with a still greater proportion of fable. It might be imagined, 
indeed, that they sought to compensate for the deficiency of 
historical fact by indulging more abundantly in romance ; and 
whole volumes might be extracted from their pages, of fan- 
ciful and extravagant adventure, as well as of anecdotes and 
sayings of their favourite prince. 

For many years after the death of Alexander (B. C. 323) 
Asia continued to be a theatre of w 7 ars waged by his ambi- 
tious successors. But about 307 before our era, Seleucus 
had established himself securely in possession of all the 
countries between the Euphrates, the Indus, and the Oxus. 
Soon afterward he penetrated even to the Ganges ; and the 
alliance which he entered into with the Indian sovereign 
Sandracottus was maintained for many years by reciprocal 
embassies. 

The sway of the Seleucidae continued undisturbed until 
the year 250 B. C, when the Parthians made their first at- 
tempt to snatch the sceptre from them. Arsaces, a noble of 
that country, indignant at a brutal affront which Agathocles,* 
governor of the province, had offered to his youthful brother 
Tiridates, mustered a few friends and slew the tyrant. Find- 
ing his party increase unexpectedly, he conceived the idea of 
expelling the Macedonians, — an enterprise which he accom- 



PER5IAN AUTHORITIES. 



Name3. Reigns. 

4. Lohrasp, 120 

5. Gushtasp, 60 

6. Ardeshir Dirazdusht, 112 

7. Queen Homai,. 32 

8. Darab 1 14 



No corresponding prince. 
No corresponding princes. 
9. Darab II. 

668 



GREEK AUTHORITIES. 



Names. Reigns, 

I 6. Cambyses, 7 5 

( 7. Smerdis the Magian,.. — 7 

j 8. Darius Hystaspes, ... . 36 

( 9. Xerxes, 21 

j 10. Artaxerxes Longima- 

\ nus, 49 

No corresponding prince. 

11. Darius Nothus, 19 

12. Artaxerxes Mnemon, .. 46 

I 13. Ochus, 21 

\ 14. Arses, 2 

15. Darius Codomanus, ... 5 



3S7 



* Arrian calls him Pherecleg. 



ANCIENT ttlStORY OF PERSIA. 89 



}>lished ; and, taking advantage of his own popularity, he as- 
sumed the royal ensigns, and even reduced the neighbouring 
province of Hyrcania, where Seleucus Callimachus com- 
manded. In the moment of victory over that prince, how- 
ever, — a victory which his countrymen regarded as the true 
era of their liberty, — he was mortally wounded, and died,* 
bequeathing his crown to his brother Tiridates, and his name 
to the Parthian dynasty. Our limits will not permit us to 
linger in detail over the exploits of this long and splendid 
race of kings, nor even to enumerate their several reigns ; we 
shall only advert to a few remarkable events which ought not 
to be passed over in silence. 

The Parthian empire is by most historians held to have 
attained its highest grandeur in the reign of its sixth monarch, 
Mithridates I., who carried his arms even farther than Alex- 
ander himself. He extended his sway from the Euphrates 
to the Indus ; he reduced Syria, making captive its king, 
Demetrius Nicator ; and princes of his blood ruled in Scythia, 
in India, and Armenia.! But although the national pros- 
perity was at its height under this sovereign, their arms un- 
doubtedly received an accession of lustre in their subsequent 
contests with the mistress of the Western World. 

The earliest correspondence between the Roman and Par- 
thian empires occurred in the reign of Pacorus, the ninth of 
the Arsacidaa, who in the year B. C. 90 despatched an em- 
bassy to Sylla, at that time prastor and commanding an army 
in Cappadocia. Thirty-seven years afterward, and in the 
reign of Orodes, the eleventh of the race, an army under the 
Consul Licinius Crassus experienced, on the plains of Meso- 
potamia, and from a Parthian general, one of the most signal 
defeats which their legions had ever sustained. This cele- 
brated action so greatly increased the power and excited 
the presumption of the victors, that, not content with extend- 
ing their conquests to remote provinces, they began to mingle 
in the more domestic affairs of the West, and to take an in- 
terest in the struggles between Caesar and Pompey. Intoxi- 
cated with success, they overran the whole of Syria and Asia 
Minor, until they were checked and driven back with loss by 
Antony's general, Ventidius. But Antony himself, during 

* Justin says he fell in a battle with Ariarathes, King of Cappadocia. 
t Vide M. J. Saint Martin on the Origin Of the Arsacidae.— Journal 
^Asiatique, vol. i. p. 65* 

H 2 



90 ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



the succeeding reign, in a vain attempt to revenge the dis* 
grace of Crassus, very narrowly escaped a similar fate. Be* 
trayed on nearly the same ground, he owed his safety, after 
a long and painful retreat, to the river Aras, across which the 
enemy did not pursue him. Nevertheless, Phraates, the fif- 
teenth of the Arsacidae, was content to avert the threatened 
vengeance of Augustus, by restoring the standards that had 
been taken from Crassus (B. C. 36). 

A series of disputes, reconciliations, and treaties marked 
the intercourse between the empires of Rome and Parthia 
for the next 200 years ; at which period a treacherous act of 
the unprincipled Caracalla involved his successor Macrinus 
in a bloody war with Artabanes, the thirtieth and last of his 
family ; and although hostilities as usual terminated in a re- 
newed alliance, the loss sustained by the Eastern king was 
so considerable that he was unable to suppress the rebellion 
of Ardeshir or Artaxerxes, a Persian chief of great courage 
and experience. This leader, profiting by the emperor's 
weakness and the hereditary animosity of his countrymen to 
the Parthians, prevailed on many to join him. The descend- 
ant of Arsaces was defeated in three battles,* taken prisoner, 
and put to death, A. D. 226, and with him terminated this 
renowned dynasty, after having filled the throne of Darius 
480 years. 

The time occupied by this royal house is one of the most 
obscure in Persian history. " From the death of Alexander," 
remarks Sir John Malcolm, M till the reign of Ardeshir Babe- 
gan, is a space of nearly five centuries, and the whole of that 
remarkable era may be termed a blank in Eastern history. 
And yet. when we refer to the pages of Roman writers, we 
find this interval abounding with events of which the vainest 
nation might be proud ; and that Parthian monarchs, whose 
names cannot now be discovered in the history of their own 
country, were the only sovereigns upon whom the Roman 
arms in the zenith of their glory could make no permanent 
impression." 

Meerkhond, one of the most respectable of the native an- 
nalists, ascribes the origin of the Arsacidae to Ashk or Ashg, 
a descendant of their ancient kings, and a petty chief, who 



• Some say one battle, which lasted three days. 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 91 



Obtained the aid of his countrymen by declaring that he pos- 
sessed the Persian standard — the Durufsh e Kawanee — 
which his uncle had saved when Darab was defeated and 
slain. After putting to death the viceroy Abtahesh ( Agatho- 
cles), he invited the chiefs of provinces to join him against 
the Seleucidae, promising to exact no tribute, but to consider 
himself merely as the leader of the princes united to deliver 
the country from a foreign yoke. From this coalition the 
dynasty of the Arsacidae (or Ashkanians) obtained the appel- 
lation of Mulook e Tuaif, or Commonwealth of Tribes ; and 
some authors think, that notwithstanding the proud height 
to which some of them attained, the Parthian rulers were 
only the heads of a confederacy of chiefs, each of whom as- 
pired to regal and independent power. 

The Baron Saint Martin, in his Memoir on the Origin of 
the Arsacidae, remarks the striking similarity between the 
structure of their government and the feudal systems of Eu* 
rope, and deduces both from one common origin, the laws 
of conquest. " The Parthians," he says, " a nation of 
mounted warriors, sheathed in complete steel, and possessed 
of a race of horses equally remarkable for speed and endur- 
ance, overran their feebler Persian neighbours almost with- 
out opposition, and erected themselves into a true military 
aristocracy, while the conquered were degraded into a mere 
herd of slaves. The invaders thus became the feudal lords 

>of the vanquished nation, or rather the nation itself ; for the 
test, attached to the soil, remained serfs in all the force of 
the term. Thus every arrangement of the feudal system 
may be found in the scheme of the Arsacidan government ; 
the same usages and institutions, even the same dignities 

• and officers. A constable is discovered commanding their 
armies ; marquises defending the frontiers ; barons and 
feudal lords of all descriptions ; knights and men-at-arms : 
the same limited number of the noble and free ; the same 
multitude of vassals and slaves. The Parthian cavaliers, 
sheathed man and horse in armour, may well represent the 
knights of the West: like them we find them forming the 
strength of the army ; like them bearing every thing down 
before them, while the infantry was contemned and disre- 
garded." 

The empire of the Arsacidae, according to this learned 



92 ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSfA. 

Frenchman, was in fact a feudal monarchy composed of four* 
principal kingdoms, all ruled by members of the same family, 
who regarded as supreme the elder branch, which was seated 
on the Persian throne. It formed the centre of a vast po- 
litical system, maintaining relations with the Romans in the 
"West, and with the Chinese in the East, the imperial head 
of which received the imposing title of King of kings ;* which 
indeed was no empty boast, for he exercised a sovereign 
sway over all the princes of his blood. The monarch of Ar- 
menia held the next rank ; the Prince of Bactria, who pos- 
sessed the countries between Persia and India, even to the 
banks of the Indus, was third in importance ; and last of 
all stood the ruler of the Massagetse. whose dominions were 
the steppes of Southern Russia, and who governed the no^ 
made tribes encamped between the Don and Volga. The 
whole race sprang from the Daces, natives of Daghistan, a 
territory eastward of the Caspian Sea. 

The fall of the imperial branch did not immediately involve 
that of the others. The kings of Bactria, of Scythia, and 
Armenia requested aid from the Romans against the usurper ; 
but their strength, already on the decline, was unequal to 
cope with the rising power of Persia, and in the beginning 
of the fifth century the two former submitted to the dominion 
of the Hiatilla or White Huns of Sogdiana. The Armenian 
monarchs maintained themselves somewhat longer ; they 
embraced the gospel thirty years before Constantine, and 
were thus the first Christian kings. Their reign terminated 
A. D. 428 ; but the family continued to exist in Persia, 
where a branch of them once more attained to sovereign 
power under the title of the Samanides. 

Such is an outline of the learned Saint Martin's observa- 
tions upon the Parthian dynasty : and we shall dismiss them 
with the following table, which exhibits the order of their 
succession. A comparison with that of the Ashkanians, as 
given by Sir John Malcolm, may serve to show how little 
dependence can be placed on the Persian accounts. 

* This title, and that of Great Kin?, was not peculiar to the Arsacida? : 
it was for similar reasons assumed by the sovereigns of the Medes, Per* 
elans, and Assyrians 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



93 



Arsacidse, according to the Western historians, taken from 
the Universal History : — 



Arsaces I. 

Tiridates, his brother. 
Arsaces II. 
Preapatius. 
Phraates I, 
Mithridates I. 
Phraates II. 
Artabanes I. 

Pacorus I., who sent ambas- 
sadors to Sylla. 
Phraates III. 
Orodes I. 
Mithridates II. 
Phraates IV. 
Phraatices. 
Orodes II. 



18. Vonones I. 

17. Artabanes II. 

18. Tiridates. 
19 Bardanes. 

20. Gotarzes. 

21. Miherdates. 

22. Vonones II. 

23. Volgeses I. 

24. Artabanes III. 

25. Pacorus II. 

26. Chosroes. 

27. Parthanaspates. 

28. Volgeses II. 

29. Volgeses III. 

30. Artabanes IV. 



Princes of the Ashkanians, according to the Zeenut al 
Tuareekk : 

1. Arduan, son of Ashk, reigned 23™' 

2. Khoosroo, son of Arduan, 19 

3. Pellas, son of Ashr, ]2 

4. Gudurz (supposed Gotarzes), 30 

5. Narsi, son of Gudurz, 30 

6. Narsi, son of Narsi, 18 

7. Arduan, slain by Ardeshir Babegan : years of his reign 

not mentioned. 

132 

From the above lists it appears, that out of a dynasty which 
subsisted 480 years, the Persians are acquainted with only 
seven sovereigns, who reigned (allowing for the reign of 
Arduan) about 150 years. The name of Mithridates is not 
mentioned, nor of Orodes, nor of his general Surenas, who 
defeated Crassus. 

The rise of the Sassanian monarchs forms a new and im- 
portant epoch in Persian history. Even the native annalists ' 
at this period become less vague, and their accounts are 
more easily reconciled with the records of Western writers. 
But the limits of our historical sketch will not permit us to 
describe at length the various reigns of this dynasty ; we 
must therefore content ourselves with presenting a list of the 
kings, and noticing the most remarkable events which dis- 
tinguished their several lives. 



94 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



LIST OF SASSAXIAX KINGS, 

Taken from the Universal History. 



GREEK ACCOUNT. 

Yrs. M. 

1. Artaxerxes, 14 10 1 

2. Sapores, 31 — 2. 

3. Ormizdates, 1 — 3. 

4. Varanes 3 — 4. 

5. Varanes II., 17 — 5. 

6. Varanes III., — 4 6; 

7. Xarses, 7 

8. Misdates. 

9. Sapores II., 70 

10. Artaxerxes, 4 — 10. 

11. Sapores ITI., 5 — 11. 

12. Varanes IV., I 12. 

Cerrnansaa, \ 

13. Isdigertes, 21 — | 13. 

14. Varanes V., 20 — I 14. 

15. Varanes VI., 17 4 15. 

16. Peroses, 20 — 16. 

17. Valens, 4 — 17. 

18. Cavades, 11 — 18. 

19. Zambades, 8 —4 19. 

20. Cavades, 30 — 20. 

21. Chosroes, 48 21. 

22. Horrnisdas, 8 22. 

23. Chosroes II., 39 23. 

24. Siroes 1 24. 

25. Ardeshir, — 2 I 25. 

26. Sarbaras, — 6 26. 

27. Bornarim, — 7 I 27. 

28. Horrnisdas, or Isdi- ) 10 2?. 

genes. ( i 29. 



PERSIAN ACCOUNT. 

Yrs. M 

Ardeshir Babegan, 14 — 

Shapoor. 31 — 

Hoormuz, 31 — 

Baharam, 3 3 

Baharam, 70 -- 

Baharam, 30 4 

Narsi, 9 — 

Hoormuz, 7 5 

Shapoor Zoolactaf, 72 — 

Ardeshir. 4 — 

Shapoor, 5 — 

Baharam Ker- ) 

manshah, $ 

Yezdijird, 21 — 

Baharam Gour, 23 — 

Yezdijird, 18 — 

Hoormuz,- 1 — 

Ferose, 28 — 

Balash, 14 — 

Kobad, 43 — 

Nooshirwan, 48 — 

Hoormuz, 12 — 

Khoosroo Purveez, 32 — 

Sheroueh, — 6' 

Ardeshir, 1 6 

Sheheryar, 2 1 

Tourandocht, — 2 

Arzemidocht, 1 4 

Furrukzade, — 1 

Yezdijird, 20 — 



Ardeshir Babegan was the son of Babec, an officer of 
inferior rank, and a descendant of Sassan, grandson of 
Isfundear. The latter part of this genealogical tree is 
probably an after-growth, when success had suggested the 
expediency of a regal lineage ; but there appears no good 
reason for crediting the Greek historians who assign to him 
a spurious birth. A rapid rise in the public service intoxi- 
cated his ardent mind ; and dreams, the offspring of ambi- 
tious hopes, confirmed his aspiring designs. Driven from 
court, he was received with acclamation by the nobility of 
Fars. His resolution to aim at sovereign power was en- 
couraged by the feebleness of the imperial armies ; and, 
supported by his countrymen, he marched almost unopposed 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



05 



to Ispahan, and overran the greater part of Irak before 
Artabanes could take the field. Three battles, as we have 
already said, terminated the hopes and life of the reigning 
prince ; and Ardeshir was hailed on the field as Shah in 
shah, or King of kings. In the course of a reign which ex- 
tended to fourteen years* he greatly enlarged his dominions, 
and opposed with various success the arms of the Roman 
Emperor Alexander. Nor was he less eminent as a legis- 
lator. The well-consolidated empire which, formed out of 
the scattered fragments of the Parthian monarchy, he trans- 
mitted to his son, affords the strongest testimony of his 
abilities. 

Perhaps the most characteristic feature in his government 
was his zeal to restore the ancient religion, neglected or 
^degraded by the Parthian monarchs, — a zeal doubtless as 
much the offspring of policy as of piety ; and the great 
assembly* of mobuds and priests which he summoned from 
all quarters to superintend the reform, is still contemplated 
as a most important era in the history of Zoroaster. The 
testamentary advice which he addressed to his son, as 
recorded by Ferdusi, exhibits his views of religion, and of 
the duties of a sovereign, in a very favourable point of view. 

Shapoor, the first Sapores of the Western historians, re- 
ceived the sceptre from his father under the happiest auspices 
(A. D. 242), and imboldened by success carried his arms into 
the Roman provinces of Asia. The young Emperor Gor- 
dian had made preparations to punish the insult, when his 
purpose was arrested by assassination ; and Valerian, in at- 
tempting to relieve Edessa, then besieged by the son of Ar- 
deshir, was taken prisoner. The Persian monarch's treat- 
ment of his captive has been variously reported ; but when 
we are told that he daily poured indignities upon him, using 
his neck as a footstool to mount his horse, and after a long 
confinement caused him to be flayed alive, we must remem- 
that the tale is derived from those who felt the national glory 
tarnished by his victories. Condemned by the European 

* They amounted to 40,000. Of this unmanageable multitude, 400 
were chosen— from them forty ; and out of these seven were invested 
with supreme authority. But the task of declaring the truth was in the 
end intrusted to one young saint named Erdavirasph, who, being thrown 
into a trance by means of a certain odoriferous wine, enumerated, on his 
awaking seven days and nights afterward, what became the orthodox 
<tenets of religion ever after. 



96 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



annalists as an insolent and cruel tyrant, he is celebrated by 
those of the East as a model of wisdom, moderation, and jus- 
tice. Odenathus, prince of Palmyra, and after him the Em- 
peror Aurelian, avenged at length the Roman honour ; but 
Shapoor, after building various cities, and conquering many 
provinces, bequeathed his dominions in peace to his sonHor- 
misdas or Hoormuz, A. D. 273. 

The reign of Baharam I., the Varanes of Greek writers, 
is remarkable for the execution of Mani, founder of the sect 
of the Manichasans, who attempted to amalgamate the doc- 
trines of Zoroaster, the metempsychosis of the Hindoos, and 
the tenets of Christianity, into one religious code. Driven 
from Persia in the reign of Shapoor, he ventured back in 
that of Baharam, who, under pretext of hearkening to his 
instructions, seized the impostor, and, putting him to death, 
sent his skin stuffed with straw to be hung up at the gate of 
the city. 

The next event of consequence is the defeat of the Em- 
peror Galerius by Narsi, the seventh monarch of the house 
of Sassan, on the same field which had been fatal to Cras- 
sus, and after he had twice routed the Persian monarch neai 
Antioch. But the Roman prince redeemed his reputation in 
a second campaign, when the family and and equipage of his 
opponent, which were taken in the flight, attested the great- 
ness of his victory. 

Shapoor Zoolactaf, the second Sapores of Greek authors, 
— so called from the cruel punishment he inflicted on cer- 
tain predatory bands, — was a prince of high talents. During 
a reign of seventy years he maintained the empire in pros- 
perity ; and although his career was checked by the genius 
or the fame of Constantine, yet the troops of Constantius 
often retreated before, the Persian banners. Even the fruits 
of the hard-fought field of Zingara (A. D. 350) were wrested 
from the improvident legions of Rome by the watchful pru- 
dence and rapid decision of Shapoor, who recovered his ad- 
vantage in a nocturnal attack. The celebrated Julian fled* 
before the enemy's archers when led by this prince (A. D. 
363) ; and his successor Jovian was content to accede to a 
peace, purchased with the loss of all the provinces east of 

* He was accidentally killed by an arrow in repulsing an attack of tho 
Persians, having foolishly allowed himself to be persuaded to burn his 
fleet and to advance into the country of the enemy. 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 97 



the Tigris, which had been ceded by the predecessor of 
ZoolactarT. 

The virtues and talents of Baharam Gour (Varanes V.), 
nis gallantry, his munificence, and his mild yet firrn govern- 
ment, are favourite themes with the native historians. The 
patriarchal simplicity of his sway resembled that of an Arab 
chief rather than the rule of an absolute monarch. Fond 
to excess of the sports of the field, he was one day in full 
career after a gour-khur, or wild-ass, the animal which it was 
his passion to pursue, and from which he derived his name. 
The scene of the chase was the plain of Oujan, from time 
immemorial a royal hunting-ground, and termed by the Per- 
sians the Valley of Heroes ; it abounds with deep morasses 
into one of which the king plunged on horseback and lost 
his life. , 

Khoosroo Nooshirwan, a prince whose name is repeated 
with enthusiasm and reverence by all historians, and which 
is still in the mouth of every Persian as the synonyme of 
wisdom, justice, and munificence, came to the throne A. D. 
531. So eminent a personage could scarcely be permitted 
to have a common origin. His birth is attributed to an 
amour of Kobad, the nineteenth prince of this dynasty, with 
a beautiful female at Nishapour, when, flying from his bro- 
ther Ferose, he halted for a night in that city. Four years 
afterward, as he returned by the same route at the head of 
an army, his fair mistress presented him with a beautiful 
boy, the fruit of their intimacy. While gazing at him with 
delight, tidings arrived that Ferose was dead, and that the 
throne of Persia waited his acceptance. This felicitous 
coincidence decided the child's fate : viewing it as a mark 
of the favour of Providence, he treated the young Nooshirwan 
from that day with distinction, and subsequently made him 
his heir. 

This prince found the empire groaning under a variety of 
abuses. Of these, not the least grievous was the prevalence 
of a sect which had sprung up in the reign of his father, and 
inculcated a community of females and of property, a doc- 
trine which gained abundance of proselytes among the dis- 
solute and the needy. Mazdac, the founder of this new 
faith, had made so complete a convert of the weak Kobad, 
that, but for the indignant remonstrances of his favourite 



98 ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



son, he would have relinquished his queen to the impostor as 
a pledge of his sincerity. The profligate courtiers, like their 
monarch, embraced this liberal code of morality ; and the 
votaries of Mazdac seized the wives, daughters, and goods 
of others at their pleasure. As complaints were vain, a 
series of disturbances was the consequence ; but no change 
was effected until the accession of Nooshirwan. Even he 
temporized at first ; but no sooner was he secure of power 
than he seized the new prophet, and terminated the baneful 
delusion by destroying him and a multitude of his followers 
at the same moment. 

Nooshirwan built or repaired a number of caravansaries, 
bazaars, bridges, and other public edifices ; founded col- 
leges and schools, encouraged learning, and introduced at 
Ins court the philosophers of Greece. In his administration 
he was aided by his minister Abuzoorgamihr, frequently 
called Buzoorcheemihr, — a person remarkable throughout the 
East as a statesman and sage, and who had raised himself 
from the humblest condition. Under his superintendence the 
empire was divided into four governments, with regulations 
for checking every abuse on the part of the officers in 
trust ; while all were controlled by the vigilance of the 
sovereign. 

In his intercourse with the Romans he maintained a tone 
of singidar superiority. Of this the ignominious peace pur- 
chased by the Emperor Justinian, the tribute of 30,000 
pieces of gold, and the general spirit of his negotiations 
with the court of Constantinople, afford sufficient proof. The 
reduction of all Syria, the capture of Antioch, and the ex- 
tension of the Persian territories from the banks of the 
Phasis to the shores of the Mediterranean, from the Red 
Sea to the Jaxartes and to the Indus, bear equal evidence to 
the vigour of his military genius. But his career in the 
West was checked by the talents of Belisarius ; and had the 
Roman general been able to follow up his successes the 
struggle might have terminated less favourably to Nooshir- 
wan. Undaunted by occasional reverses, and unbroken by 
natural infirmity, the veteran warrior, at the age of eighty 
years, led his armies against the legions of Justin and Tibe- 
rias, and reaped, as the reward of his valour and perse- 
verance, the conquest of Dara and the plunder of Syria.^ 

The glory of the Sassanides had attained its height, if it 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



99 



did not terminate with Nooshirwan, who died A. D. 579. 
Hoormuz III., his son, a weak and wicked prince, in his 
short and disastrous reign excited a general disaffection, 
which was only repressed by the talents of Baharam Chou- 
been. A wanton affront instigated that general to put to 
death his unworthy sovereign, and to aspire to the supreme 
authority ; but he was unable to resist the power of the 
Roman Emperor Maurice, who raised to the throne Khoos- 
roo Purveez, son of the murdered monarch, acting the part 
of a real father to the son of his adoption.* 

The engagements contracted by the humble fugitive were 
scrupulously fulfilled by the prosperous monarch ; but no 
sooner had the assassination of Maurice reached the ears of 
Khoosroo, and the restraint of gratitude been removed, than, 
on pretence of avenging his benefactor, he declared war 
against the conspirators. Accompanied by a real or pre- 
tended son of the emperor, he invaded the Roman dominions 
with a large army. Dara, Mardin, Edessa, Amida were 
pillaged and destroyed ; Syria was laid waste ; Jerusalem 
taken, and the magnificent churches of St. Helena and Con- 
stantine destroyed by the flames. " The devout offerings 
of three hundred years," observes Gibbon, " were rifled in 
one sacrilegious day. The Patriarch Zechariah and the 
true cross were transported into Persia ; and the massacre 
of 90,000 Christians is imputed to the Jews and Arabs, who 
swelled the disorder of the Persian monarch. . . . Egypt 
itself, the only province which had been exempt since the * 
time of Dioclesian from foreign and domestic wars, was 
again subdued by the successors of Cyrus. Pelusium, the 
key of that impervious country, was surprised by the cavalry 
,of the Persians: they passed with impunity the innumer- 
able channels of the Delta, and explored the long valley of 
the Nile from the Pyramids of Memphis to the confines of 
Ethiopia. Alexandria might have been relieved by a naval 
force ; but the archbishop and prefect embarked for Cyprus, 
and Khoosroo entered the second city of the empire, which 
still preserved a wealthy remnant of industry and commerce. 
His western trophy was erected, not on the walls of Car- 
thage, but in the neighbourhood of Tripoli. The Greek 

* Khoosroo paid Maurice the compliment of making him his father by 
adoption, — and some have erroneously asserted that he received in mar- 
riage a natural daughter of the Roman emperor. 



100 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



colonies of Cyrene were finally extirpated ; and the con- 
queror, following the footsteps of Alexander, returned in 
triumph through the sands of the Libyan Desert. In the 
same campaign another army advanced from the Euphrates 
to the Thracian Bosphorus. Chalcedon surrendered after a 
long siege, and a Persian camp was maintained above ten 
years in the presence of Constantinople. The seacoast of 
Pontus, the city of Ancyra, and the isle of Rhodes, are 
enumerated among the conquests of the Great King ; and 
if Khoosroo had possessed any maritime power, his bound- 
less ambition would have spread slavery and desolation over 
the provinces of Europe." 

Such is the proud list of the victories of Khoosroo ; but 
the day of reverse was approaching. "While his generals 
were carrying confusion into the heart of the Roman empire, 
the monarch himself, instead of watching over the safety of 
his extensive dominions, and studying to promote the happi- 
ness of his people, was revelling in the most extensive 
luxury. Every season had its palace fitted up with appro- 
priate splendour ; and his countless treasures, his thrones of 
rich and exquisite materials, one of which, — the Tucht-dis, 
— was contrived to represent the twelve zodiacal signs and 
the twelve hours of the day, — his 12,000 women each of the 
rarest beauty, — his 50,000 noble horses, — his 1200 elephants, 
— his Arabian courser Shub-deez, fleeter than the wind, — 
his enchanting musician Barbud, — and, above all, the in- 
comparable Shireen, his fascinating mistress, are subjects 
which have exhausted the imaginations of poets and histo- 
rians among his countrymen. For thirty years his reign had 
been marked by an almost unparalleled course of prosperity, 
in a great measure to be ascribed to the distracted condition 
of the Roman empire under the rule of the despicable Phocas, 
and during the first feeble years of Heraclius. But though 
effeminate and luxurious in the palace, the latter was brave 
and skilful in the field ; and, roused to a sense of his danger, 
he awakened Khoosroo from his drearn of pleasure by sud- 
denly invading Persia. The end of six years beheld the 
Eastern monarch stripped of his conquests, and Persia over- 
run by enemies ; his palaces destroyed, his treasures plun- 
dered, his armies dispersed, and the slaves of his pleasures 
scattered, — all without one manly effort to retrieve his for- 
tunes. 



ANIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



101 



Alone, or only attended by a few of his women, he se- 
cretly abandoned the city of Dustajird and the troops which 
still guarded it, leaving everything to the victorious Romans. 
Yet even in this fallen state he haughtily rejected the gene- 
rous overtures of his conqueror, and spurned his exhortations 
to spare farther bloodshed, by agreeing to reasonable terms 
of accommodation. At length his own subjects, worn out 
with miseries, and disgusted with the obstinate selfishness of 
their sovereign, conspired with Siroes (or Sheroueh), his 
eldest son, and seized his person. His children were slaugh- 
tered before his eyes by the command of their inhuman 
tfother, and the father, imprisoned in a dungeon, was put to 
death by the same authority. It was long, we are informed 
by the Zeenut al Tuareekk, ere any one could be found to 
execute the latter order ; but at length Hoormuz, son of 
Murdou Shah, who had been slain by Khoosroo, offered his 
services. The aged monarch knew his hour was come, and 
as he bent his neck to the scimitar, exclaimed, — " It is just 
and proper that the son should slay the murderer of his 
father !" The assassin repaired forthwith to the prince and 
related what had occurred. "Ay," replied Sheroueh, 
drawing his own weapon, " it is indeed just and proper for a 
son to slay his father's murderer ;" and with these words he 
killed the unfortunate Hoormuz on the spot. 

The ephemeral rulers who intervened between the death 
of Khoosroo and the elevation to the throne of Yezdijird III. 
(the Isdigertes III. of Western authors) scarcely merit no- 
tice. The character of this prince was feeble, his descent 
uncertain, and he remained, like his immediate predecessors, 
a pageant in the hands of ambitious nobles. His reign, 
which commenced A. D. 632, was distinguished by events 
infinitely more important than the fall of a tyrant or the 
change of a dynasty ; for the same torrent that swept 
the race of Sassan from a throne which they had occupied 
more than 430 years, abolished the ancient religion of Zoro- 
aster, and established a law which has effected one of the 
most striking moral changes on mankind that the world has 
ever witnessed. 

In the year of the Christian era 569, and during the reign 
of the great Nooshirwan, was born Mohammed, the future 
lawgiver and prophet of Arabia ; and forty years thereafter, 
in the reign of that monarch's grandson, he commenced the 
I 2 



102 



ANCIENT HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



promulgation of those doctrines which were destined in so 
short a time to regulate the policy, the morals, and the 
religion of Asia. In twenty years after his death the whole 
of Arabia, Egypt, Syria, and Persia had been forced to 
receive the Koran, — Africa had been invaded, — and the 
Roman eagles had fled before the crescent of the Saracens. 

While the arms of Persia were everywhere triumphant, 
and while their monarch was revelling in the excess of en- 
joyment and the pride of insolent security, the first mutter- 
ings of that storm were heard which was to overthrow the 
fabric of the Sassanian power. On the banks of the Karasu 
the emperor received from the " Camel-driver of Mecc.a" a 
letter requiring him to abjure the errors of that faith in whicn 
his fathers had lived, and to embrace the religion of the one 
true God, whose prophet he declared himself to be. Indig- 
nant at a demand so insulting from one whose name he had 
never heard, the monarch tore the letter and threw it into 
the passing stream. The zealous Mohammedan* who re- 
cords the circumstance attributes to this sacrilegious act all 
the miseries that imbittered the latter years of Khoosroo, 
and asserts that the waters of the river, which till then had 
supplied the means of irrigation to a large extent of country, 
shrunk in horror into their present deep channel, where, he 
observes, they have ever since remained useless and ac- 
cursed. 

In their first attacks the Arabs were repulsed, and in one 
memorable action they lost their imprudent though zealous 
leader Abu Obeid. But the disasters which attended the 
passage of the Euphrates were repaired on the plains of 
Cadesia (or Kudseah) ; and the glories of Persia sank for 
ever when the celebrated standard of the Durufsh e Kawa- 
nee fell into the hands of the Moslems, and their scimitars 
scattered the followers of Zoroaster as the sand of the desert 
is driven by the whirlwind. The plunder was increased 
almost "beyond the estimate of fancy or of numbers" by the 
sack of Madayn ; " and the naked robbers of the desert,'' 
says Gibbon, "were suddenly enriched beyptid the measure 
of their hope or knowledge." 

The carnage of Nahavund terminated the struggle. The 
loss of more than 100,000 men left Yezdijird no part but to 



* The author of the Zeenut ai Taureekk. 



ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 10$ 



fly. After enduring some years the life of a miserable 
fugitive, and forced to fly from Meru, his last refuge, by the 
treachery of its governor, the unfortunate monarch reached 
a mill about eight miles distant from the city, where the 
owner, tempted by the richness of his robes and armour, 
put him to death while he slept ; and the headless trunk of 
the last of the Sassanides was thrown by the murderer into 
the water-course of his mill. An emotion of reviving loyalty 
in the people of Meru produced an inquiry after the unfortu- 
nate sufferer ; the body was discovered, embalmed, and sent 
to Istakhar to the sepulchre of his ancestors, and the miller 
fell a victim to the popular indignation. Thus ended the 
•dynasty of the Sassanides, and with it, as a national faith, 
the religion of the Magi. Before proceeding with our sub- 
ject, it may be interesting shortly to examine the character 
^and tenets of the worship thus destroyed, — a worship which, 
in some shape or other, was probably coeval with the 
repeopling of the world after the Flood, and which, dating 
from the era of its most celebrated promulgator, had existed 
in Persia more than twelve hundred years. 



CHAPTER IV. 

Ancient Religion of Persia, 

<3reat Antiquity of the ancient Religion of Persia— Sabian Origin— Gene- 
ral Doctrines of the Zendavesta — Other Sacred Tiooks — Dabistan and 
Dessateer— Doubts of their Authenticity — Zoroaster — Opinions regard- 
ing him— Mission— Doctrines of the Zendavesta— First great Princi- 
ple — Principles of Light, and Darkness— Formation of the Universe— 
Ferohers— Good and Evil Angels— First Man— Struggles between the 
tSood and Evil Principles— Resurrection and Judgment of Mankind- 
Doctrines and Practice of the modern Ghebres or Parsees. 

No religion except that of the Jews has experienced so 
little change in doctrine or in ritual as that of the ancient 
Persians. Originating in an age when history is lost in 
fable, and propagated by a succession of lawgivers, of whom 
little except the names remain, we find it as the faith pro- 
fessed by a long series of brilliant dynasties, and maintaining 



104 ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 



itself through disaster and misfortune, till in our days H 
faintly appears in the persecuted sect of the Ghebres in Per- 
sia, or among the more fortunate and industrious Parse es of 
India. 

The worship of the host of heaven was the earliest devi- 
ation from pure religion ; the first step towards adopting a 
visible object of adoration instead of the unseen and inscrut- 
able Being, of whose existence there is a witness in every 
heart ; and such doubtless was the Sabian ritual, the earliest 
religion of the Magi. The substitution of fire, — the essence 
of light, in a form which might be constantly present, — for 
the celestial bodies, is another and not an unnatural grada- 
tion in the progress of idolatry. 

The worship of fire is, by the Persian writers, particularly 
Ferdusi, attributed to Hoshung, the third monarch of the 
Paishdadian or fabulous kings. At all events its antiquity 
is not disputed ; but at whatever period it superseded the 
Sabian or Chaldean faith, vestiges of the latter may be 
traced throughout every subsequent change, in that fond- 
ness for the delusive science of astrology which, at the 
present moment, influences the people of the East as much 
as in the days of Nebuchadnezzar and Darius. 

We shall not fatigue our readers with a lengthened dis- 
quisition on the rites of the Magi. It is enough to state, 
that their principal doctrines were a belief in one God T 
all-powerful, all-good, beneficent, merciful, and just, whose 
vicegerents were the planets ; a fraternal affection for the 
whole human race, and a compassionate tenderness to the 
brute creation. Our business is rather to explain the ancient 
faith of Persia as it was restored or reformed by Zoroaster ; 
but, before entering on this subject, it may be proper to give 
some account of that lawgiver, and of the sacred books which 
are held to be the depositories of his religious code. 

Of the few works connected with this subject that have 
reached our time, the Zendavesta, translated by M. du Per- 
ron, possesses the highest claim to authenticity, and compre- 
hends in fact all which can be properly ascribed to that law- 
giver himself. This production, which according to the 
Parsees was dictated by inspiration, consisted, as their tra- 
dition asserts, of twenty-one nosks or books, of which only 
one, the Yendidad (said to be the twentieth), is preserved 
entire, while of the others only a few fragments exist. It is 



ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 



105 



singular that, although often alluded to by the ancients, the 
writings of Zoroaster have never been particularly specified ; 
nor does the name of the Zendavesta occur until about fifteen 
hundred years after it is supposed to have been published, 
when it is mentioned in the geographical treatise of Masoudi. 
The work itself was carefully concealed by the Parsees and 
Ghebres until M. du Perron drew it from its obscurity and 
presented it to the European world. 

The Zendavesta is composed in a language of which there 
is no other specimen ; the Zend differing in many respects 
from all other dialects ever used in Persia.* Although writ- 
ten in characters not unlike the Pehlevi, its structure closely 
resembles that of the Sanscrit.! It has forty-eight letters, 
corresponding in their powers with those of Indian extrac- 
tion, including twelve vowels ; while the Pehlevi has only 
nineteen characters and no vowels. A very great number 
of the words are pure Sanscrit ; and altogether it appears to 
be a dialect (perhaps the Suraseni) of that radical language. 

This circumstance seems to indicate that the author of the 
Avesta compiled his work under the influence of certain Hin- 
doo prepossessions. Indeed the numerous traces of Indian 
superstition confirm the belief that Zoroaster borrowed a 
great part of his ideas from that country ; while there are, 
at the same time, grounds to believe that he adopted several 
doctrines from the Pentateuch. The Parsees attribute many 
wonderful influences to the Zendavesta, and pretend that it 
contains the principles of all arts and sciences, although they 
are concealed under symbols and mysteries. The Vendidad, 
however, as has been already mentioned, is the only one of 
the books that is known and recognised as authentic, and it 
consists of a series of interrogatories proposed to Ormuzd by 
Zoroaster, with the corresponding replies. The whole is 
devoid of any pretension to literary merit, — a deficiency which 
vouches in some degree for the fact of its being the work of 
an early age. The circumstance that it is often referred to 
with high respect in the other books of the Zendavesta, while 
it proves that they are of a later date, affords also an addi- 
tional testimony in favour of the antiquity of the former. 

The Zendavesta, generally speaking, consists of a series 

* See Erskine's Letter to Sir John Malcolm in the Bombay Literary 
Transactions, 
t Ibid. 



106 ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 



of liturgic services for various occasions, rather than of ma** 
ter which would lead us to regard it as an original work on 
religion ; and, as the Abbe Foucher well remarks, " bears- 
exactly the same reference to the books of Zoroaster that 
our missals and breviaries do to the Bible." The Abbe and 
Mr. Erskine agree in referring even the most ancient portion 
of it to a period long posterior to the genuine works of Zoro- 
aster, but still are inclined to place that period as far back as 
the restoration of the Persian religion in the reign of Ardeshir 
Babegan. 

In Pehlevi there are extant translations of four of the 
books of Zoroaster, — the Vendidad, the Vespered, the Yesht, 
and Khundavesta. There are, besides, three more books in 
the same language, — the Viraf Xameh, a description of the 
Parsee paradise and hell, ascribed to the reign of Ardeshir 
Babegan; the Boundehesh, an account of the creation ac- 
cording to the ideas of the same sect ; and a tale of Ak-hez 
Jadoo, with the Destoor Gush Perian r a still later produc- 
tion. 

Within these few years have been published two other 
books on the same subject, — the Dabistan and the Dessateer. 
The former professes to be a compilation as well from Peh- 
levi manuscripts as from verbal communications made by pro- 
fessors of the religion of Zoroaster, and executed about one 
hundred and fifty years ago by Sheik Mohammed Moshein 
Fani, a native of Cashmere. It contains a history of twelve 
different superstitions, commencing with that of" Hoshung, 
who introduced the worship of fire. Sir John Malcolm de- 
rives all that is known of the Paishdadian dvnasties, as well 
as those supposed to precede them, from this source. But 
he admits that the author betrays a suspiciously strong dispo- 
sition to connect the ancient history of the Persians with that 
of the Hindoos ; adding, that such doubts are increased by 
the character of the sheik, who, though professing Moham- 
medanism, was in truth a SoorTee, and an avowed believer in 
the doctrines of the Bramins. 

Mr. Erskine does more than participate in these doubts. 
In an excellent essay,* containing a critical examination into 
the claims of the Dabistan and Dessateer to authenticity, ho 
sets the subject at rest, as we conceive, by proving that the 



* Bombay Literary Transactions, vols. i. and u, 



ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 107 



work of Moshein Fani, so far as it refers to the religion of 
fire, is only a transcript of the doctrines of the Dessateer, 
strongly tinged with a cast of ascetic SoofFeeism. It is 
probably the composition of one or more individuals of an 
Indian sect called Sipasees, who owed their origin, in the 
sixteenth century, to Azer Kerwan, and professed an ex- 
tremely wild and superstitious doctrine. It would exceed our 
limits to detail the arguments of Mr. Erskine, and we there- 
fore take leave to refer our readers to the original communi- 
cation. 

Tho Dessateer, the work to which the Dabistan so fre-' 
quently alludes, is written in an unknown language,* and is 
said to be a compilation of treatises on the religion of Maha- 
bad by fifteen successive prophets, the last of whom, Sassan, 
who flourished in the reign of Khoosroo Purvees, translated 
the original text into Persian. This volume was discovered, 
we are informed, by Mollah Ferose,^ learned Parsee priest 
residing in Bombay, while inspecting some old manuscripts 
at Ispahan. The work, which is called sacred, is filled with 
rhapsodies in praise of the Creator, the sun, moon, and plan- 
ets. It has been lately translated into English ;f but the 
question of its authenticity has been so satisfactorily decided 
by the acute and judicious reasoning of Mr. Erskine, that it 
would be a waste of time to discuss it further. Our notice 
of the history and religion of Zoroaster will therefore rest 
exclusively on the authorities already mentioned. 

The doctrines, both theological and philosophical, of this 
distinguished sage were familiarly known to the ancients ; 
for, though not particularly described, his works are fre- 
quently referred to' But a considerable diversity of opinion 
has prevailed regarding the era in which he flourished. 
Some, believing that there were more than one individual of 
this name, maintain that the appellation was assumed by a 
succession of lawgivers. But that it was borne by at least 
two persons of celebrity is asserted by several of the learned ; 
and the Abbe Foucher,t on the authority of Pliny, supports 

* To this an interlineary Persian translation is annexed in the pub- 
lished work. Various conjectures have been formed regarding this 
language ; but the clear proof of spuriousness which attaches to the 
work itself sets them at rest. 

t Mr. Erskine rendered this service to the lovers of Oriental inquiry. 

t Memoirs de I'Academie des Inscriptions, vols, xxvii., xxix., xxxi* 
xxxix 



108 ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 



this idea a9 the only one which can explain the conflicting facts 
that have been related regarding him. The learned French- 
man supposes the first Zoroaster to have been a native of 
Rhe or Rhegis in Media ; that he established his religion in 
Bactriana, under Cyaxares L, — built a great fire-temple in 
Balkh, called Azer Gushtasp, — and was put to death with 
all his inferior priests during an incursion of the Scythians, 
about the year B. C. 630. The second Zoroaster, according 
to the Abbe, appeared in the reign of Darius. He conceives 
him to have been a disciple of Daniel, or of some other Jew- 
ish prophet, and that he may have been one of the twenty- 
four apostates seen in a vision by Ezekiel, as adoring the 
rising sun ; moreover, that, being a person of powerful mind, 
he insinuated himself into the favour of Cyrus, and was made 
Archimagus ; in which capacity he restored and confirmed 
the ancient religion of the country, and became the author of 
several books called Ibrahim Zerdusht. 

Anquetil du Perron, on the other hand, maintains that 
there never was more than one Zoroaster or Zerdusht, who 
was a native of Urumeah ; and that he flourished in the sixth 
century before Christ, and in the reign of Darius Hystaspes.* 
He supposes him to have been born about the year B. C. 589, 
and to have been engaged in " consulting Ormuzd," that is, 
maturing his religious code, between the thirtieth and fortieth 
year of his age. After this he lived thirty-seven years, 
when he was put to death by the Scythians, as is related by 
the Persian historians, in the year 512 before the Christian 
era. In this calculation M. du Perron is supported bv the 
learned Hyde and Dean Prideaux, who derive their opinion 
from the Greek and Latin authors ; although some of these 
conceive the transactions rather to have occurred in the reign 
of the son of Hystaspes. According to the learned French- 
man, Zoroaster retired to compile his Zendavesta in the El- 
burzf Mountains, whence he earned it to Darius at Balkh ; 

* Academie des Inscriptions, vol. xxxvii. See also vol. xxxi., and his 
Life of Zoroaster prefixed to the Zendavesta. where he enters into an 
account of the lawgiver's family , and details the acts of his life with a 
minuteness somewhat liable to suspicion, when we consider that the 
events of the age it refers to are little better than a blank in history. 
We therefore make no extracts, contenting ourselves with indicating the 
sources of further information. 

t There is a peak of the Caucasus named Elbur^, but, as we have 
seen, the name applies to ma:r. Persian mountains. 



ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 109 



and the monarch caused the work to be transcribed on twelve 
thousand well-prepared cow-hides, and transported them to 
Istakhar, as the only fit receptacle of so valuable a deposite. 
The story of his Jewish origin he treats as a slander of the 
Mohammedans. 

He farther conceives, that the first Zoroaster alluded to by 
Pliny, and by him as well as by other Greek and Latin 
authors referred to a very remote age, was no other than the 
Hoomo of the Zend, — the Horn of the Parsees, — a person- 
age who makes no small figure in the sacred books of the 
latter, and who first proposed his tenets as a national creed 
to the Paishdadian king Jumsheed. The second Zoroaster, 
placed by the Oriental, Christian, and Mohammedan histo- 
rians, under the reign of Cambyses, he fixes, as we have said, 
by a variety of evidence, to the year B. C. 558. 

The religion of ancient Persia is considered by M. du 
Perron as divisible into two periods. The first commences 
in the tinie of Jumsheed, when Horn, the tutelar genius of 
the law, who lived in the time of that monarch's father, pre- 
sented it to the young king ; i but the prince was so much 
alarmed by the strict observances and ceremonies required, 
that he remonstrated* with Ormuzd, and would only agree 
to adopt its moral principles in the government of his realm 
on condition that during his reign misery and death should 
disappear from the world. This singular compromise was 
agreed to ; and the law continued Ofi this imperfect footing 
until the appearance of the true Zoroaster, — some adhering 
to the worship of fire as a symbol of the Deity, others aban- 
doning themselves to an adoration of the stars, of idols, or of 
deeves. 

To revive the original purity of the law, to perfect its doc- 
trines, and enforce its observances, were the objects for which 
this sage, according to his own declaration, was specially sent. 
He collected and arranged the dogmas which constituted the 
fundamental part of the creed, adding such precepts as he 
obtained from Ormuzd, and adapting to the moral injunctions 
a ritual fully as severe as that of any religious code upon re- 
cord. What the nature of this theological system was we 
can only judge from the scanty documents that have escaped 

* In the same way Mohammed remonstrated with the angel Gabriel 
concerning the excessive frequency of prayers at first enjoined on the 
Faithful. At his instance they, were reduced to five daily periods. 



I bO ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA, 

the waste of time and the wreck of destructive revolutions^ 
and how far even these are authentic is a question which,, 
as we have seen, has greatly divided the learned. 

The Avesta of Zoroaster, according to M. du Perron, sets- 
out by declaring the existence of a great first principle which 
it calls Zerwan, an expression which is understood to denote 
Time, — Time without beginning and without end. This in- 
comprehensible being is author of the two great active pow- 
ers of the universe, — Ormuzd, the principle of all good, and 
Ahriman, the principle of all evil ; and the question, why 
light and darkness, good and evil, were mingled together by 
a beneficent and omnipotent Creator, has been as much con- 
troverted among the Magian priesthood as by modern meta- 
physicians. 

Another subject of dispute was the manner in which the 
creative energy was exerted. Was the universe formed by 
means of emanations from the Divinity himself, or by modi- 
fications of pre-existent matter 1 M. du Perron conceives 
Zoroaster to have denied the latter conjecture ; for the 
Avesta declares that Ormuzd arose from the pure elements 
of fire and water, and that these beings were of all things first 
produced by the Eternal, — the fire self-shining, brilliant, 
dazzling ; the water pure, unutterably soft, beneficent, and 
of a golden hue. The first, of these appears to have been 
regarded as a mysterious cause of union between the Eternal 
and Ormuzd ; representing the omnipotent agency of the 
former, and furnishing th*e active principle of the latter. The 
word Ormuzd — Ehor Mezdao ! signifies great king ; and his 
epithets are " luminous/' "brilliant." He is perfectly pure,- 
intelligent, just, poweiful, active, and beneficent, — in a word, 
the precise image of the Eternal ; the centre and author of 
the perfections of all nature ; the first creative agent pro- 
duced by the Self-Existent. 

Ahriman is directly the opposite of this. His name and 
epithets import essential wickedness ; a being occupied in 
perverting and corrupting every thing good. He is said to 
be " enveloped in crime," — " the source of misery and evil." 
In the Zendavesta, Ormuzd gives the following metaphor- 
ical picture of his rival : — He is alone, wicked, impure, 
accursed. He has long knees, a long tongue, and is void 
of good." He is called a king, however, and stated to be 

without end." He is, in short, the coexistent and almost 



ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 



Ill 



coequal opponent of Ormuzd, — independent of him, and alone 
capable of resisting him. The latter can neither destroy 
him nor prevent his constant efforts to annihilate or embar- 
rass the beings produced by the power of good, and to ban- 
ish justice and virtue from the earth. It is no easy matter 
Xo comprehend the explanations given of the nature of Ahri- 
man, nor the arguments used to relieve the Eternal from the 
charge of having willed the creation of a being so malevo- 
lent. At one time he is described as being so essentially 
wicked, that were it possible to deprive him Of life his com- 
ponent parts would unite themselves to their original ele- 
ments, — earth to earth, water to water, air to air, and so on ; 
in consequence of which all would be infected without pro- 
ducing any advantage. But in another place he is repre- 
sented as a power originally good, but who, like Lucifer, fell 
from that high estate through rebellion and disobedience. 
M. du Perron concludes, that Zoroaster meant to assign 
priority of existence to Ahriman ; that, full of his own per- 
fections, and blinded as to the extent of his power, when he 
beheld in Ormuzd a being of equal might, jealousy rendered 
liim furious, and he rushed into evil, seeking the destruction 
of every thing calculated to exalt his rival's glory. The 
Great Ruler of events, displeased at his arrogance, con- 
demned him to inhabit that portion of space unillumined by 
light. Ormuzd, as he sprung into existence, saw his mali- 
cious adversary, and made vain efforts to annihilate him. 
The ; Etemal bestowed on him the power of calling into 
being a pure world ; while, as if the impulses of good and 
evil were simultaneous, Ahriman immediately opposed to it 
a world of impurity. 

The instrument employed by the Almighty in giving an 
origin to these opposite principles, as well as in every sub- 
sequent creative act, was his Word. This sacred and mys- 
terious agent, which in the Zendavesta is frequently men- 
tioned under the appellations Honover and I am, is compared 
to those celestial birds which constantly keep watch over the 
welfare of nature. Its attributes are ineffable light, perfect 
activity, unerring prescience. Its existence preceded the 
formation of all things, — it proceeds from the first eternal 
-principle, — it is the gift of God. Ordained to create and 
govern the universe, Ormuzd received the Word, which \n 
his mouth became an instrument of infinite power and fruit- 



112 ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 



fulness. " I pronounce the Honover continually, and in all 
its might," Ormuzd says to Zoroaster in the Zendavesta, 
" and abundance is multiplied." The speculations of M. du 
Perron on the nature of this Word, which cannot fail to 
bring to the reader's mind the / am of the Old and the Word 
of the New Testament, give support to the opinion that the 
author of the Zendavesta meant it to be understood as a 
being distinct from Zerwan or the Eternal, as well as from 
Ormuzd. 

According to the system of cosmogony in the Zendavesta, 
the duration of the present universe is fixed at twelve thou- 
sand years, which is subdivided into four terms ; and to each 
of these is appropriated a peculiar series of events. During 
the first period, Ormuzd, alarmed by the appearance of Ahri- 
man " at an immeasurable distance beneath him, covered 
with filth and putridity," employed himself in creating the 
universe and the celestial inhabitants. Of these beings, the 
first were Ferohers, or the spiritual prototypes, — the unim- 
bodied angels,* — of every reasonable being destined to ap- 
pear upon earth. The Ferohers of the law, of Iran, and of 
Zoroaster, were the most precious in his eyes ; for the law, 
the expression of the divine word, and Iran, which was to be 
its theatre, were held as ranking high in the scale of intelli- 
gent creatures, as well as Zoroaster, its future promulgator. 

Ahriman, alarmed at these new instances of power, flew 
with malign intent towards the light ; but a single enuncia- 
tion of the Honover sent him howling back to darkness, 
where he immediately called into being a number of deeves 
and evil spirits,! designed to oppose the works of Ormuzd. 
A proposal of peace, and an exhortation to resume the paths 
of virtue, were met by him with scorn and defiance ; and his 
rival, in self-defence, produced six amshaspunds, or superior 
guardian angels, pure, beneficent, eternal. — " Protect my 
flocks and herds, man of God !" said the holy Bahman, to 
whose charge was intrusted the animal creation, to Zo- 
roaster. " These I received from the Almighty ; these I 
commit to you ; let not the young be slain, nor those that 
are still useful." 

* It will afterward be seen, that a jrreat distinction was made between 
the Feroher and the complete soul, of which the Feroher formed but one 
component part. 

t The Vendidad makes their number amount to 99,990. 



ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 113 



"Servant of the Most High!" exclaimed the dazzling Ar- 
€ibehesht, the genius of fire and light, " speak to the royal 
MGushtasp for me ; say that to thee I have confided all fires. 
t)rdain the Mobuds, the Dustoors, and \Herboods,* to pre* 
serve them, and neither to extinguish them in the water nor 
in the earth ; bid them erect in every city a temple of fire, 
and celebrate in honour of that element the feasts ordained 
by law. The brilliancy of fire is from God ; and what is 
more beautiful than that element 1 It requires only wood 
and odours. Let the young and the/old give these, and their 
prayers shall be heard. I transfer it to thee as I received it 
from God. 'Those who do not fulfil my words shall go tp 
the infernal regions." 

Shahriwar, the spirit of the metal and the mine, spoke 
next : — "'Oh thou pure man ! when thou art on ,the earth 
tell all men my words ; bid those who carry the lance, 
the sword, the dagger, and the mace, clean them each 
year, that the sight .of them may put to flight those that 
cherish bad designs. Tell them never to place confidence 
in wickefl men, nor in their enemies." 

Espendermad, the female guardian of the earth, exclaimed, 
— " Thou shalt be as a blessing unto mankind, preserve the 
earth from blood, uncleanness, and from carcasses ; carry 
such where the soil is not cultivated, and where neither man 
nor water passeth ; fruits in abundance shall reward labour, 
and the best king is he who rendereth the earth most fertile. 
Say this unto men from me." 

The angel Kourdad, who diffuses the blessings of running 
streams, next said, "I confide to thee, O Zoroaster! the 
water that flows; that which is stagnant; the water of 
rivers ; that which .comes from afar and from the mountains ; 
the water from rain and from springs. Instruct men that it 
is water which gives strength to all living things. It makes 
all verdant. Let it not be polluted with any thing dead or 
impure, that your victuals, boiled in pure water, may be 
healthy. Execute thus the words of God." 

Last spoke Amerdad, who watches over the growth of 
plants and trees, — " O Zoroaster ! bid men not destroy nor 
pull, except in season, the plants and fruits of the earth, for 
these were • meant as a blessing and a support to men an# 
J.0 animals." 

* Different orders of priests. 
K2 



114 ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 



Such were the six first angels of Ormuzd ; but no sooner 
had they appeared, than six deeves arose from darkness at 
the voice of Ahriman. to counteract their influence. In 
contests three thousand years more elapsed ; towards the 
termination of which. Ormuzd called into being the heavens 
and their celestial systems, — the earth with its complicated 
productions ; and fire was given as the representative of 
that divine and original element which animates all nature. 
Serooch, the guardian of the earth, and Behram, armed with 
a mighty club and arrows, were formed to repel the attacks of 
Ahriman. Mythra, the mediator between Ormuzd and his 
creatures,* and Rash in Rast, the genius of justice, with mul- 
titudes of spirits, were called forth to assist in repelling the 
powers of darkness, and angels were appointed to protect every 
being. The stars and planets, the months of the year, the 
days and even watches of the day, had each their atten- 
dant spirit, — all nature teems with them, — all space is per- 
vaded by them. 

In consequence of the services of these intermediate in- 
telligences, a period of peace and tranquillity ensued. The 
year was one uninterrupted day, nor did change of weather 
or of season perplex the world ; but it was a delusive calm ; 
and the cause that reawakened the malignant activity of 
Ahriman was the creation of man. The Feroher being de- 
lighted with the harmony which reigned on the earth, Or- 
muzd proposed that he should descend thither and assist in 
eradicating evil, promising that the souls of human beings 
should finally return to their divine mansions. The Feroher 
obeyed, and was imbodied under the form of the sacred 
bull, — Aboudad, the Man Bull, the Excellent, the Pure, the 
Principle of all Good. Ahriman in the depths of hell trem- 
bled at this intelligence. Stimulated by his deeves, and par- 

* It is not clear at what time Mythra was created, nor what was the 
precise nature of his functions. But M. du Perron, who has examined 
the subject at large, concludes that his office is to oppose continually the 
powers of evil; for which he is provided with 1000 ears, and 10,000 
eyes, and flits between heaven and earth armed with a massy club. 
He is the source of light, provides the sun for the use of the earth, dis- 
tributes the waters to their proper courses, preserves harmony on earth, 
watches over the law, defends the soul after death from the toueh of im- 
pure spirits, and is a mediator between Ormuzd and his creatures. He 
is associated with, or rather superior to, the amshaspunds. 



ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 115 



tictilarly by the evil genius Dj§, he mustered his spirits, 
and, ascending in the form of a monstrous serpent, covered 
the earth with noxious animals. In the shape of a huge fly 
he polluted every thing, and insinuated the poison of evil 
into all nature. By means of a burning drought he parched 
the face of the whole earth, and caused his deeves to strike 
the sacred bull with a fatal wound. But the benevolent de- 
sign of Ormuzd was not to be defeated. From the right 
limb of the dying beast issued Kayomurz the first man ; 
and from the rest of its members sprung a multitude of 
those vegetable productions destined to render the earth 
fruitful. Its seed, carried to the moon, and purified by Or- 
muzd, produced a bull and a cow, from whence all animals 
took their origin. 

Kayomurz was of lofty aspect, pure, and of dazzling sub- 
stance. His body was composed of the four elements, — 
fire, air, water, and earth. Ormuzd to this perishable 
frame added an immortal spirit, and the being was complete. 
The soul of man, instead of a simple essence, — a spark 
of that eternal light which animates all things, — consists, 
according to the philosophy of Zoroaster, of five separate 
parts, each having peculiar offices, — 

1. The Feroher, or principle of sensation. 

2. The Boo, or principle of intelligence. 

3. The Rouh, or Rouan, the principle of practical judgment,— imagina- 
tion,— volition. 

4. The Akho, or principle of conscience. 

5. The Jan, or principle of animal life. 

"When the four first of these, which cannot subsist in the 
body without the last, abandon their earthly abode, the Jan 
mingles with the winds, and the Akho returns to heaven with 
the celestial Rouhs (or spirits) ; because, its office being con- 
tinually to urge man to do good and shun evil, it can have 
no part in the guilt of the soul, whatever that may be. The 
Boe, the Rouan, and the Feroher, united together, are the only 
principles which are accountable for the deeds of the man, and 
which are accordingly to be examined at the day of judgment. 
If good predominates, they go to heaven ; if evil, they are 
despatched to hell. The body is regarded as a mere instru- 
ment in the power of the Rouan, and therefore not responsible 
for its acts. After death the Akho has a separate existence, 
as the Feroher had previous to birth. 



116 



ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 



Such is the soul of man according to the Zendavesta, and 
such was Kayomurz, created (as the word implies) to be im- 
mortal, and sprinkled by Ormuzd with the water of Khei, 
which rendered him beautiful as a youth of fifteen years. 
But neither his comeliness nor the power of Ormuzd could 
avert the malice of Ahriman, who, at the end of thirty 
years, and after a severe conflict of ninety days and nights, 
succeeded in destroying him. But the principle of regenera- 
tion being preserved, and confided to the tutelar genius of 
fire, was purified by the light of the sun, and after forty 
years produced a tree or plant representing two human bodies. 
These were Maschia and Maschiana, the parents of the 
human race. The names, according to M. du Perron, are 
derived from a word signifying death ; and, though thev pro- 
ceeded from the seed of Kayomurz, thev were yet deemed 
children of the earth, which nourished the tree, and of the 
heavens, which bedewed it.* 

But though created pure, and capable of perfect and per- 
manent felicity, Maschia and Maschiana were tempted to rebel 
and to worship Ahriman instead of their creator Ormuzd. 
They thus became Darvund, and their souls w T ere doomed to 
remain in hell until the resurrection. The earth was overrun 
by Kharfesters (or evil spirits invested with bodies), who in- 
habited its caverns and recesses. A flood was sent which 
destroyed them ; but from their foul remains arose noisome 
animals, reptiles, poisons, and putridity. The unhappy pair 
plunged still more deeply into sin. Listening to the con- 
tinued temptations of Ahriman, they drank the milk of a 
goat (which appears to have been an incarnation of himself) ; 
they ate forbidden fruit, thereby forfeiting their few remain- 
ing privileges ; and poured libations of milk to the powers 
of darkness in the North. They were separated, but at the 
end of fifty vears again met, and had a couple of children, 
who multiplied and peopled the whole earth. 

The power of evil increased with the growth of the uni- 
verse ; nor was any beneficent influence sufficient to arrest 
its course. The intimate union of the two principles in all 
things rendered it impossible to destroy the works of Ahri- 
man, who himself was indestructible. So Ormuzd resolved 
to snatch from his hands the creatures who had been so 

* This vain and complicated mythology is supposed, by M. du Terron, 
,to have been invented subsequent to the time of Zoroaster. 



ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 117 



bitterly persecuted ; and in order to fortify them against the 
future efforts of the Evil One, he gave his law to be pro- 
mulgated by Zoroaster. 

In these struggles must elapse the third period of the du- 
ration of the universe ; the power of Ormuzd and Ahriman 
being equally balanced. During the fourth period, the latter 
is to prevail ; misery and desolation shall brood over the 
earth ; and three prophets shall appear, under the last of 
whom, named Sosioch, a rain of black water shall precede 
the renewal of nature, the resurrection of mankind, and the 
final judgment. 

But annihilation, even for a time, forms no part of the 
doctrine of Zoroaster. At death the materials of the body 
rejoin their respective elements, — earth to earth, — water to 
water, — fire to fire, — and the life to the viewless air. The 
last hour is thus stripped of its terrors to the Parsee, by the 
conviction that nothing is reduced to nonenity. For three 
days after dissolution the soul flits round its tenement of 
clay in hopes of a reunion. On the fourth the angel Se- 
roch appears, and conducts it to the bridge of Chinevad. 
On this structure, which connects earth and heaven, sits the 
angel of justice, Rash in Rast, to weigh the actions of mor- 
tals ; and, according to his decision, the heavenly dog per- 
mits it to cross and join the souls of its ancestors in heaven, 
or precipitates it into the gulf of hell, which yawns below. 
When the good deeds prevail, the soul is met on the bridge 
by a dazzling figure, which says, "I am thy good angel 
(Kherdar), — I was pure originally, but thy good deeds have 
rendered me purer ;" and passing its hand over the neck of 
the blessed soul, leads it to paradise. If the iniquities pre- 
ponderate, it is met by a hideous spectre, which howls out, 
" I am thy evil Kherdar, — impure myself, thy sins have ren- 
dered me more foul ; through thee shall we become miser- 
able until the resurrection :" on which it drags the sinning 
spirit to hell, where Ahriman taunts it with its folly and 
crimes. 

The resurrection, however, is the true triumph of Ormuzd 
and his worshippers, and one of the most essential articles 
of their, belief. In that day Kayomurz will first arise, 
then Maschia and Maschiana. The judgment of mankind is 
to occupy a space of fifty-seven years. The genii of the ele- 
ments, which have received in deposite the various sub- 



118 ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 

stances of the body, must render up their trust ; the soul 
will recognise its earthly companion and re-enter it ; the 
juice of the herb Horn, and the milk of the bull Heziosk, 
will restore life to man, who then becomes immortal. Then 
takes place the final separation of the good and evil. Sin- 
ners who have not in the intermediate state expiated their 
faults are again sent to hell, but not for eternal punishment. 
The tortures of three awful days and nights, equal to an 
agony of three thousand years, suffice for the purification of 
the most wicked. The voice of the damned, ascending to 
heaven, will find mercy in the soul of Ormuzd, who will 
■withdraw them from the place of torment. The world 
shall melt with fervent heat, and the liquid and glowing 
metals shall purify the universe, and fit all beings for ever- 
lasting felicity. To the just this ordeal proves as a pleasant 
bath of milk-warm water ; the wicked, on the other hand, 
shall suffer excruciating agonies, but it will be the last of 
their miseries. Hell itself and all its demons shall be 
cleansed ; Ahriman, no longer irreclaimable, will be con- 
verted to goodness, and become a ministering spirit of the 
Most High. 

Such, according to the Zendavesta, is a sketch of the sys- 
tem of cosmogony and theology promulgated by Zoroaster, — 
in all probability compiled and reformed in some degree from 
the ancient religion of the Magi. 

The doctrines and practice of the Ghebres and Parsees of 
the present day differ little from the above code. They adore 
Ormuzd as the author of all good ; they inculcate purity in 
thought, word, and action. They reverence all the angels, 
subordinate spirits, and agents of that good principle ; and 
endless prayers are prescribed in their liturgies, with all the 
solemn words to be used, not only for important occasions, 
but also in the most trifling functions of life. The visible 
objects of their veneration are the elements, especially that 
of fire ; and light is regarded as the noblest symbol of the 
Supreme Being, who is without form or limits. The sun, 
moon, planets, and stars, and even the heavens themselves, 
obtain particular respect ; and in praying they turn to them, 
and especially to the rising sun. They have no temples nor 
images, nor paintings of Ormuzd or his angels. The Atish- 
khudahs are merely edifices for guarding the sacred fire from 
defilement or extinction : in these the flame is kept burning ; 



ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 119 



it is approached with the greatest reverence ; and their most 
awful rites are practised before it. These houses are so con- 
structed that the sun's rays never fall on the sacred fire. 

There are in India two species of that element, termed the 
Behram and Adiram ; the former should be composed of 1001 
different sorts ; the latter of at least fifteen or sixteen. These 
various kinds are enumerated, — as fire generated by rubbing 
wood and iron together, that taken from a kitchen, from a 
funeral pile,* and so on. The Behram fire is found in only 
three places ; the Adiram fires are much more numerous. 
Each temple has but one sacred blaze, before which daily 
prayers are read. There are also occasional services, as that 
for the dead, and some for the living, which are solemnly 
recited. The great fire, whether of the first or second sort, 
is maintained by all Parsees in India, as before it certain 
ceremonies are always performed. Particular parts of their 
liturgy are repeated by the priest alone, standing or sitting, 
in long white garments, having his mouth covered with a 
piece of white cloth, to prevent the saliva from dropping or 
spirting out on the pure element while he chants the suitable 
texts. 

Of these priests there are various classes, — Dustoors, Mo- 
buds, and Herboods. The first are of the highest order, — 
for there are now neither Dustooran-Dustoor, nor Mobud- 
Mobudan (high priests), — and they are the doctors and ex- 
pounders of the law. The others are of inferior rank, the 
latter being chiefly employed in performing certain menial 
offices in the fire-houses. The priesthood is hereditary in 
families of a particular tribe ; they have no fixed salaries, 
being paid voluntarily for each service as it occurs, and many 
of them follow secular occupations. 

In their religious rites much use is made of a kind of holy 
water named zor, held powerful in repelling evil spirits. The 
horn, too, which is the consecrated juice of a particular shrub 
and prepared with many ceremonies, is believed to be of 
singular efficacy, and is often mentioned in the sacred volumes. 
A drop of this is given to infants to cleanse them from the 
impurities of the womb, as likewise to persons at the point 
of death. 

The naming of a child is an occasion of little ceremony ; 

* This must be an Indian excrescence, since the ancient Persians did 
not burn their dead 



120 ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA. 



but the putting on the sacred cord (kusti), and the equally 
sacred shirt (sadra), is a very solemn act : these form the 
armour against Ahriman. The Parsees do not tolerate po- 
lygamy, unless the first wife prove barren ; nor do their laws 
allow concubinage. They cannot eat or drink out of the 
same vessel with one of a different religion, nor are they fond 
even of using the cup of another, for fear of partaking of his sins. 
Their religion, however, admits of proselytism. They have 
no fasts, and reject every thing of the nature of penance. 
God, they say, delights in the happiness of his creatures; 
and they hold it meritorious to enjoy the best of every thing 
they can obtain. Birds and beasts of prey, the dog, and the 
hare, are forbidden as food. Their faith inculcates general 
benevolence : to be honest in bargains : to be kind to one's 
cattle, and faithful to masters ; to give the priests their due, 
physicians their fees, — and these last are enjoined to try their 
sanitary experiments on infidels before practising on Parsees. 
By the Vendidad, dogs and cocks are held in great regard as 
animals who watch the approach of evil spirits, against which 
the disciples of Zoroaster are constantly on their guard ; on 
the other hand, it is meritorious to kill serpents, frogs, toads, 
and other reptiles, as being the creatures of Ahriman. 

The Parsees and Ghebres never willingly throw filth either 
into fire or water : even the trade of a smith is proscribed 
among them by custom, though not by law ; nor will they 
use fire-arms, which they allege defile that element ; still less 
will they extinguish a fire. Yet when the flames are destroy- 
ing their property, they have, in recent times, been known to 
work hard in putting them out.* This reverence for the 
elements prevents them from being sailors, as in a long voyage 
they might be forced to defile the sea. 

When a relation is dying they recite over him prescribed 
prayers, and have a dog at hand to drive away the evil spirits 
that flock around the bed. After death, the body is dressed 
in old but clean clothes, and conveyed on an iron frame to 
the tomb, on the shoulders of bearers, who are tied together 
with a piece of tape, in order to deter the demons, which are 
supposed to be hovering near, from molesting the corpse. It 
is well known that they neither burn nor bury their dead. 
They have circular towers, called dockmehs, in which are 
constructed inclined planes ; and on these they expose the 

* This occurred in the great fire at Bombay in 1803 ; and the writer 
of this work has seen them do the same at a later period in Calcutta. 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



121 



bodies, courting the fowls of the air to feed upon them, , They 
even draw auguries regarding the happiness or misery of the 
deceased, according as the left or the right eye is first pecked 
out by the vultures. 

Such are a few particulars relative to the religious customs 
of the modern Ghebres, which do not essentially differ from 
those recorded as belonging to the religion of Zoroaster. Of 
that faith we shall only further remark, that its author has 
obviously drawn largely upon the systems both of the Jews 
and of the Hindoos, engrafting what he culled from each on 
the Chaldean stem, which he found ready flourishing, al- 
though overgrown by errors. The intricate ritual, the mul- 
tiplication of ceremonies, and the adoption of the mysterious 
Honover, are clearly of Hebrew derivation. The greater 
part of the mythology, particularly the fable of the sacred 
bull, with many of the superstitions, and above all the San- 
scrit origin of the Zend itself, proclaim their Hindoo extrac- 
tion ; while the whole of the cosmogony, together with the 
high rank assigned to the celestial bodies and planetary sys 
tem, attest an Assyrian lineage. 



CHAPTER V. 

Antiquities of Persia. 

Antiquities divisible into two Classes—First Class— Persepolis described 

—The Tombs of the Kings— Opinions regarding the Ruins— Istakhar 

Cuneiform Inscriptions— Deciphered (?)— Mourghab— Musjed e Madre 
Solyman— The Tomb of Cyrus— Bessitoon— Ecbatana— Second Class 
— Sassanian Monuments— Tauk e Bostam— The Work of Ferhaud— 
Khoosroo and Shireen— Shapoor and its Sculptures — Statue there — 
Naksh e Rootsurn and Naksh e Rejib. 

The antiquities of a country are so closely connected with 
its early annals and religion, that, before resuming our histori- 
cal sketch, we shall give a short description of the most 
remarkable remains in Persia. Few celebrated empires are 
so poor in monuments of ancient greatness ; and the defi= 
ciency is the more extraordinary, as all that survive are so 
solid as in a great measure to bid defiance, not only to age, 
but even to the more destructive hand of man, and at ths 
L 



122 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



same tune so magnificent as to convey a high idea of the 
taste and skill of those who constructed them. The anti- 
quities of Persia may he divided into two classes referring to 
different periods ; those antecedent to the conquest of Alex- 
ander, and those belonging to the era of the Sassanides. 
There are a few connected with the early Arabian con- 
querors ; but these have been mentioned in treating of the 
provinces where they occur. 

GROUND-PLAN OF PERSEPOLIS 

1 and 2, Inscriptions copied by Niebuhr. 
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, Inscriptions copied by Mr. Rich. 
10, 11, Inscriptions not yet copied. 

The lines dotted thus have not been surveyed. 

The following marks — — — — are employed to indicate places 
where there is no wall. 




Scale.-" One inch equal to 500 feet 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



125 



Of the first class, by far the most interesting and extensive, 
are the ruins of Persepolis, termed by the natives the Tucht 
e Jmnsheed, or Chehel Minar, — a fabric which for ages has 
excited the admiration and employed the descriptive talents 
of travellers, while it has afforded matter of vain though 
curious speculation to the learned. Nothing can be more 
striking than the appearance of these ruins on approaching 
them from the south-west. Placed at the base of a rugged 
mountain, on a terrace of masonwork that might vie with the 
structures of Egypt, it overlooks an immense plain, enclosed 
on all sides by distant but dark cliffs, and watered by the 
Kour Ab, which once supplied 1000 aqueducts. But the 
watercourses are choked up ; the plain is a morass or a 
wilderness ; for the great city, which once poured its popu- 
lation over the wide expanse of Merdusht, has disappeared, 
and the gray columns rise in solitary grandeur, to remind us 
that mighty deeds were done in the days of old. 

The terrace on which these architectural remains repose 
is of an irregular form, as may be seen from the accompany- 
ing ground-plan. The west front, which overlooks the plan, 
is 1425 feet long ; the northern is 926 feet, and the southern 
802 :* the height appears to have varied from twenty-five to 
fifty feet, according to the inequalities of the ground. The 
surface has. become very uneven (if indeed it ever was other- 
wise) by the drifting dust and the fallen fragments. The 
only ascent to this platform is on its western side, by a mag- 
nificent staircase, formed of two double flights of steps. Of 
these the lowest, consisting each of fifty-five, f twenty-two feet 
long, and three inches and a half deep, meet in a landing- 
place of thirty-seven feet by forty-four. From this point 
springs a second double flight of forty-eight steps of similar 
dimensions, which terminate on the level of the platform, in 
a second landing-place of sixty-four feet long4 The ascent 

* These measurements, as well as the greater part of the details, are 
taken from Sir Robert Ker Porter, and confirmed by the author's own 
observations. 

t Niebuhr says fifty-seven in the lower and forty-seven in the upper 
flights, each four inches high. He adds, that the height together is 
thirty-three feet ; but his own data would give thirty-four feet eight 
inches. 

I Niebuhr says he saw holes in the large stones of the landing-place, 
as if for gates ; and conceives that the whole platform may have been 
under lock and key : in which ease there must have been parapet walls 
to the terrace; but there seems little ground for thinking so. 

L 2 



126 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



is so gradual, that travellers usually ride up on horseback ; 
and the blocks of marble are so large, that from ten to four- 
teen steps are cut out of each.*" 

Having reached this landing-place, the stranger beholds 
a gigantic portal formed of two massy walls, with the front 
and interior faces sculptured into the resemblance of colos- 
sal animals. The length of it is twenty-one feet, its height 
thirty, and the walls are twelve f feet apart, the groundway 
being paved with slabs of polished marble. The animals 
stand on a pedestal, which elevates them five feet. Their 
heads are so mutilated, that it is impossible to say what they 
were meant to represent ;t their necks are decorated with 
collars of roses ; short curled hair covers the chest, back, 
and ribs ; and the workmanship is singularly correct and 
delicate. 

Twenty feet eastward from this portal stood four hand- 
some fluted columns with beautiful capitals, about forty-five 
feet high and twenty-two feet apart ; but only two remain, 
and not a relic of the others is to be seen. Another space 
intervenes between these columns and a second portal, 
resembling the first, save that the walls are only eighteen 
feet long, while the figures on the eastern side appear to 
have had human faces adorned with diadems ; their beards 
are still visible, and wings, of which the huge plumage ia 
exquisitely cut, extend high above their backs. 

There is an interval of one hundred and sixty-two feet 
between the right of these portals and the terrace which 
supports the groups of columns, — the most striking part of 
the ruins. In this space there is a cistern sixteen feet by 
eighteen, hewn out of the solid rock. A double staircase 
leads to the terrace, the whole length of which is two hun- 
dred and twelve feet, each flight projecting considerably 
beyond its northern face. At each extremity, east and 

* It is remarkable how slight are the marks these steps bear of being 
frequented ; they are scarcely worn at all ; and the reverse must have 
been the case had the place been long the resort of worshippers (if a 
temple), or even of the crowds which throng the gateway of a royal 
residence. 

t Niebuhr says thirteen, and remarks that the space is small for so 
splendid a fabric. 

| Sir R. K. Porter calls them bulls. Probably they were figures of 
the same animal that appears in various parts of the ruins, particularly 
in the capital of some of the columns and which reaemblea a unicorn 
fully aa much as a bull. 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



12? 



west, rises a range of steps, and again, about the middle, 
projecting eighteen feet, are two smaller flights : the extent 
of the whole is eighty-six feet, including twenty of a landing- 
place. Like that of the great entrance, the ascent is ex- 
tremely gradual, each step being fourteen inches broad by 
sixteen feet long, and four inches deep. The front is 
covered with sculptures so thickly as at first to bewilder 
the eye. These figures, which are disposed in groups to 
suit the compartments of the staircase, are variously habited 
and employed. Some resemble royal guards and attendants, 
clothed in long robes, with brogue-like buskins and fluted 
flat-topped caps, bearing bows and quivers, spears and 
shields ; others are placed in long rows, and appear to 
represent a procession of many nations, being differently 
dressed and appointed. They bear gifts or offerings, and 
lead animals of divers sorts. There is also represented in 
sculpture a fight between a lion and a bull, or as some think 
a unicorn, — at all events, an animal like the mutilated figure 
at the portal. But a description of this superb display of 
bas-reliefs would be tedious, and scarcely intelligible with- 
out elaborate drawings.* 

Sir Robert Ker Porter supposes these magnificent works 
of art were designed to perpetuate the memory of the grand 
religious procession of Cyrus the Great described by Xeno- 
phon, or probably that of Darius, at the festival of the No 
Jtoz or vernal equinox, receiving presents from the numerous 
nations of his empire. 

But we hasten to the more stupendous portion of these 
ruins, — the magnificent colonnade which occupies the ter- 
race. And assuredly the imagination cannot picture a sight 
more imposing than these vast, solitary, mutilated pillars, 
which, founded in an age beyond the reach of tradition, have 
witnessed the lapse of countless generations, and seen dy- 
nasties and empires rise, flourish, and decay, while they still 
rear their gray heads unchanged. 

From the terrace, which measures from east to west 380 
feet, and from north to south 350, once rose four divisions 
of columns, consisting of a central group of thirty-six, flanked 
on either side as well as in front by two rows of six each, 

* Such plates, and a minute account of every figure, may be found in 
the Travels of Sir R. K. Porter. 



128 ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA, 



forming an aggregate of seventy- two* in all. Of the ad- 
vanced division, the site of which is twenty feet from the 
landing-place, only one is standing. Between these and the 
first row of the centre pillars are seen large blocks of stone, 
supposed by Morier to have formed pedestals for figures, but 
which Niebuhr considers as marking the walls of a portal. 
About thirty-eight feet from the western edge of the terrace 
(which is the same as that of the principal platform) arose 
the double row of columns, of which five only remain erect. 
Of the corresponding eastern rows four only survive. Sixty 
feet from the eastern and western colonnades arose the cen- 
tral group of thirty-six columns, and in this interval are to be 
traced the courses of aqueducts, in some places cut in the 
rock.f Of these columns five alone are entire, which, with 
those already mentioned, form an aggregate of fifteen, still 
occupying their sites ;t the rest lie prostrate in the accumu- 
lated dust of ages, and many of the pedestals are demolished 
or overwhelmed in rubbish. 

This magnificent assemblage of columns consisted of two 
distinct orders, — those composing the three exterior double 
rows being uniform in their architecture, while the centre 
group, all of which are alike, differed from those surrounding 
them. The two orders are thus described by Sir R. K. 
Porter : Of the first he says, "The total height of each co- 
lumn is sixty feet, the circumference of the shaft sixteen 
feet,<$> and its length from tor to capital forty-four feet. The 
shaft is finely fluted in fifty-two divisions : and at its lower 

* This computation and plan agree with those of Niebuhr, Keempfer, 
and Le Brun, and of Morier more recently, and is undoubtedly correct ; 
but Le Brun, speaking of the total number of columns on the great ter- 
race, estimates them at 205. Sir Thomas Herbert, Thevenot, and Char- 
din, increase the amount of those in the grand colonnade, though it does 
not appear upon what grounds. 

t Niebuhr mentions this, and says theterrace was paved with stones 
of extraordinary size. 

t Delia Valle, in 1621, saw 25 pillars standing. 



$ Niebuhr computes the height of these at fifty two feet, and of the 
centre ones at forty eight 



Herbert, in 1627, 

Olearius, in 163S, 

Kaempfer, in 1696, 

Niebuhr, in 1765, 

Franklin, and all travellers 




down to Sir R. K. Porter, 
Lieut. Alexander, in 1826, 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



129 



extremity begins a cincture and a torus ; the former two 
inches, the latter one foot in depth. From thence devolves 
the pedestal, in form of the cup and leaves of a pendant 
lotus. It rests upon a plinth of eight inches, and measures 
in circumference twenty-four feet six inches ; the whole, 
from the cincture to the plinth, comprising a height of five 
feet ten inches. The capitals which remain, though much 
injured, suffice to show that they were also surmounted with 
the double demi-bull.* The heads of the bull forming the 
capitals take the directions of the faces of the respective 
fronts of the terrace ; and I think there can be no doubt that 
the wide hollow between the necks received a beam, meant 
to support and connect an entablature, over which has been 
placed the roof." Of the central group he remarks, " They 
are placed at the same distance from each other as the co- 
lumns in the other divisions, and the dimensions are similar 
in point of circumference and in the depth of the pedestal, 
as also in the general particulars of the ornaments ; but they 
are only fifty-five feet in height. The shafts, which are 
fluted like the others, are about thirty-five feet in length ; 
the capitals are of a quite different character, being of the 
same description with those at the great portal. The two 
lower divisions are evidently constructed of the hallowed 
iotus ; the upper compartment has only two volutes ; the 
middle compartment (which is only one division of the lotus) 
appears to have had some extraneous body introduced into 
the opening between it and the lower part ; and the angular 
and unfinished state of that side of the capital seems to tes- 
tify the same : here then the connecting line must have run, 
whence the roof could spring," 

Immediately to the south of these groups, and elevated 
six or seven feet above the terrace on which they stand, is a 
mass of ruins of a different description, among the fragments 
of which may be traced abundance of the same figures which 
adorn the staircase. It appears to have contained at least 
three apartments, the doorways and window-frames of which, 
formed of huge blocks of highly polished marble, with nu- 
merous niches, bear various bas-reliefs ; especially one of a 
monarch clad in long flowing robes, with two attendants 
holding over him the umbrella and fly-flap ; while others 



Or unicorn- 



130 ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA, 



represent combats between men and various imaginary ani- 
mals. Faint remains of a double colonnade between the 
western face of this building and the same face of the grand 
terrace are still visible. 

Still farther southward appear other complicated masses 
of ruins, among which are many vestiges of elaborate sculp- 
tures as well as of colonnades. Sir R. K Porter saw the 
bases of ten columns three feet three inches in diameter, and 
he conjectures that the largest may have been attached to 
the abode of the sovereign.* The principal doorways and 
.vindow-frames, of gigantic proportions and exquisite work- 
manship, are still in their places ; but fragments of sculpture 
and plinths of columns scattered about in heaps of rubbish 
evince the power of time and weather over the most solid 
structures. The royal personage with his two attendants 
appear frequently in the bas-reliefs on the entrances, and 
many figures like those in other parts of the ruins also occur, 
together with occasional inscriptions in the arrow-headed or 
cuneiform character. A subterranean aqueduct, which seems 
to have supplied the whole series of edifices from a tank yet 
visible at the foot of the rocks, passes under the ruins ; and 
in this dark labyrinth Chardin wandered long, and Moriei 
found himself disappointed. 

There are vestiges of two other edifices on the platform ; 
one to the north of those last mentioned, and another to the 
south-east. These also bear bas-reliefs of the same descrip- 
tion as those already delineated. But by far the most con- 
siderable of the structures which have occupied this area, 
except the Chehel Minar (as the aggregate group of columns 
is called), is a square of 210 feet, situated a considerable 
space northward from the columns. Two door-ways enter 
it from every side, but the grand portals are on the north. 
These are thirteen feet in width, — the others are only seven, 
and all are richly adorned with sculpture of the same 
characters with that already described.! 
. We have still to notice the tombs, — those magnificent 
resting-places, as they are no doubt justly deemed, of the 

* Niebnhr supposes this to have been the first-built portion of all the 
edifices on the platform. 

[ Le Brun estimates the number of figures of men and animals on the 
whole of the ruins, including the tombs, at 13U0, which Niebuhrdoes not 
think exaggerated. 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA* 



131 



ancient monarchs of Persia.* In the face of the mountain, 
about 500 yards eastward from the Hall of Columns, appears 
a niche 72 feet broad by 130 high, according to Chardin, cut 
in the solid rock, the face of which is divided into two com- 
partments, each highly ornamented with sculpture. In the 
lower compartment, four pilasters, with capitals of the double- 
headed unicorn, carry upon beams an architrave, frieze, and 
cornice. The space between the centre pillars is occupied 
by a false door carved in the rock, in the lower part of which 
an opening has been broken, probably in search of treasure, 
The upper compartment exhibits, in bas-relief, a coffer (not 
unlike the figures of the Jewish Ark of the Covenant), ter- 
minated at either end by nondescript animals, and supported 
by their legs, which resemble those of griffins. A double 
row of fourteen figures each is sculptured on this chest. On 
the top, at one end, is placed a fire-altar, while opposite on 
an elevated stage of three steps, stands a royal figure, hold- 
ing up his right hand as if in adoration, and grasping with 
his left a bow ; above, between the king and the altar, hovers 
a symbolical figure, supposed to be the monarch's attendant 
spirit. 

On entering the broken doorway a chamber is discovered, 
about thirty feet wide, by fifteen or sixteen deep, and ten or 
twelve high, at the farther end of which are three cavities, 
as if for bodies.f Being all empty, they have long been open 
to the curious, and are often used by the Eeliauts who en- 
camp near as magazines for corn and straw. 

One of the most perplexing considerations regarding these 

* The question cannot but arise here, how the princes of a people 
whose religion forbade interment, and whose custom was to expose 
the dead to gradual decay and to the fowls of the air, should have formed 
depositories so elaborate. They were probably intended as crypts to 
contain embalmed bodies, rather than as places of sepulture. Yet even 
this seems contrary to the doctrine of Zerdusht, which inculcates the 
resolution of the body into its original elements, and their reunion at 
the resurrection, as fundamental tenets. We find, nevertheless, that the 
Sassanian kings were buried, and at Istakhar too ; for Yezdijird, the last 
of the race, was sent from Khorasan to be laid in the sepulchre of his 
fathers. 

t One of the tombs has but two of these cavities ; they have all been 
covered with slabs of marble. According to Chardin, these crypts are 
thirty inches deep, by sixty-two long and twenty six broad. In his time, 
as now, neither vault nor crypt contained any thing but muddy stinking 
water ; and he thinks, if bodies ever were deposited there, they must 
have been pressed in by violence, so small are their dimensions, 



132 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



tombs is the great care with which their entrances have been 
concealed from view ; for the doorway having but the sem- 
blance of a gate, there must have been some other access 
even to excavate the interior. Chardin thinks the subter- 
raneous passages in which he was bewildered must have led 
to the sepulchres, although the communications had been 
closed. Yet if this be the case, it is singular that no indi- 

r cation of such entrances has ever been discovered within the 

j tombs themselves. 

I Three quarters of a mile southward from the Tucht e Jum- 
sheed, Niebuhr discovered, and Morier after him visited, a 
tomb resembling the others, but not so much ornamented, 
and in less perfect preservation. The most remarkable 
circumstance is, that it appears to have been studiously 
concealed from view, and has no doorway whatever ; thus 
confirming Chardin's opinion, that these repositories were 
approached only by secret passages under ground. The upper 
part is built of large blocks of stone ; the under portion ha* 
been hewn out of the rock. 

A few miles northward from the great ruins, in a spot called, 
from the Sassanian sculptures found there, Naksh e Roostum, 
are four more tombs, so closely resembling those at the Tucht 
as to require no particular description. They are cut in the 
face of a perpendicular rock, the natural scarping of which is 
increased by art, and elevated from thirty to forty feet from 
the ground, so that it is very difficult to reach them. This 
has been done, however, by Captain Sutherland, Sir W. 
Ouseley, Colonel D'Arcy, and Sir R. K. Porter, whose dis- 
coveries have only identified their age with that of those at 
the Tucht e Jumsheed. 

A singular and substantial building of white marble near 
these tombs, twenty-four feet square, and about thirty feet 
high, attracts the attention of travellers. The ceiling is com- 
posed of two large marble slabs, and a single stone twenty- 
two feet long forms the cornice of the northern face. The 
portal, five feet six inches high, and about eleven feet from 
the ground, gives entrance, through a wall five feet three 
inches thick, into a chamber twelve feet three inches square, 
and about twenty high, the walls of which are blackened 
with smoke ; the windows being closely fitted with stone. 
There is no sculpture on this building, but many narrow 
niches appear in the external walls. The natives call it the 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 133 



Kaaba* of Zoroaster, and the Nokara Khaneh of Jumsheed. 
Morier thinks it a fire-temple ; but there remains nothing to 
indicate its use with any degree of certainty. 

There are, however, two structures formed from protuber- 
ances of rock, between five and six feet square, which appear 
to have been fire-altars ; and in the recesses of the moun- 
tains Morier saw twenty niches of various sizes, with in- 
scriptions different from all that he had elsewhere observed. 

All the way from Naksh e Roostum to the Tucht, both the 
plain and the mountains exhibit tokens of the same work- 
manship so strikingly exhibited in these two places. Of 
such vestiges, that called the Tucht e Taoos (Throne of the 
Peacock) or the Harem of Jumsheed is the most remarkable. 
But it would be endless to enumerate all the indications of 
former prosperity which this neighbourhood affords. That 
there once existed on the plain of Merdusht the large and 
populous capital of a mighty empire, is a fact which admits 
of no dispute. But the learned are divided regarding the 
name of this place ; some holding it to be the Persepolis, 
some the Pasargadae, of ancient historians — for the appellation 
Istakhar is more modern, and applies properly to a castellated 
mountain in the vicinity. 

Sir W. Ouseley is inclined to believe that the city in the 
plain of Merdusht was Pasargadae, which name he proposes 
to read Parsagarda, and considers it as identical with Persep- 
olis. The observation of Strabo, however, who mentions 
that Alexander, after having burned the palace of Persepolis, 
went immediately to Pasargadae ; and that of Arrian, who 
says that the conqueror, having visited the tomb of Cyrus at 
Pasargadae, returned to the palace he had burned, appear con- 
clusive against Sir William's hypothesis. In the situation 
of Pcisepolis, Chardin at once recognises the descriptions 
of Arrian, Strabo, and Diodorus Siculus. Sir R. K. Porter 
thinks the Tucht e Jumsheed was the palace set on fire by 
the Macedonian conqueror ; it was not wholly burnt down, 
as Quintus Curtius would have it, but saved by his own 
orders from complete destruction on recovering from his in- 
toxication, as Plutarch more reasonably mentions. In proof 
of this, he refers to Strabo and Arrian, who say that the Ma- 



* The Kaaba or Temple of Mecca is the point to which the Faithful 
torn their eyes at prayer. 



134 ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA* 



cedonian after his return from India inhabited the palace of 
Persepolis ; and we learn from the Book of Maccabees,* 
that Antiochus Epiphanes, 160 years afterward, attempted 
to pillage that city and its temple. 

Persepolis and Pasargadse are both described as situated 
near the Araxes or Kour Ab.f The plain of Merdusht is 
watered by that river ; and a branch of it, named the Polwar 
or Ferwur, winch rises in the valley of Mourghab, passes near 
the Tucht. If the hypothesis and reasoning of Morier and 
Sir R. K. Porter be well-founded, the remains of Pasargadae 
are to be found in Mourghab ; and in that case Persepolis 
would be identified with the Tucht e Jumsheed. 

In later times, during the sway of the Arsacidae, Istakhar, 
the only name by which native historians appear to have 
known this city, finds frequent mention in their works, al- 
though little weight can be attached to their authority. It 
was among the earliest conquests of Ardeshir Babegan ; Sha- 
poor II. made it his residence ; Yezdijird I. held his court 
there; and Hoormuz III., who reigned in the close of the 
sixth century, passed two months every year at it. In the 
succeeding age. however, it ceased to be a royal residence, 
for Khoosroo Purveez bestowed the government on one of 
his favourites ; and it was here that the last of the Sassanian 
kings lay concealed when called to the throne A. D. 632. 
Twelve years afterward it capitulated to the Mohammedans ; 
but the people having slain the foreign governor, were in con- 
sequence all put to the sword. The city was ultimately 
destroyed by the fanatical Arabs ; and Shiraz being founded 
in the vicinity became the capital of Fars. Such is a sketch 
of the latter days of Istakhar ; but the questions, who was 
its founder, and who raised the mighty fabrics of which the 
ruins still astonish the traveller, remain yet unanswered. If, 
however, the translation made by M. Saint Martin, of two 
cuneiform inscriptions copied by Niebuhr from these ruins, 
be confirmed by farther discoveries, their era may be de- 
termined, and the conjecture which assigns them to the age 
of Darius and Xerxes will be reduced to certainty. 

Opinions have not been less divided as to the object of 
these edifices than regarding their date and founder. That 

* 1st Maccabees, chap. vi. 

t It is remarkable that this river retains the name of the celebrated 
founder of the empire— Cyrus ; in Persian, Kour. 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 135 



the Chehel Minar, or Hall of Columns, was dedicated to some 
solemn and probably religious purpose seems obvious from its 
peculiar architecture, its unfitness for a dwelling, its singular 
position beneath a range of mountains, as well as from its vi- 
cinity to the cemeteries in the rock behind. It is even doubtful 
whether it ever had a roof. The distance between the columns, 
the absence of all materials among the ruins adapted to such a 
purpose, no less than the scantiness of the rubbish, have been 
adduced as reasons for concluding that it never was covered, 
unless occasionally by an awning ; and to this opinion Colonel 
Johnson, an intelligent traveller, inclines. But it has been p 
urged with considerable plausibility on the other hand, that 
twenty-five feet, the distance between each column, is a space 
by no means too great to be connected by beams, while all 
such perishable materials must have long since decayed, and 
those of a more permanent nature may have been removed 
to assist in constructing modern towns and villages. Be- 
sides, the hollow between the necks of the double unicorn 
capitals is obviously formed, Sir R. K. Porter thinks, to re- 
ceive the end of a rafter, as is seen where the same order of 
pillars is introduced as pilasters in the facade of the tombs. 
The same author observes also, that the angular and un- 
finished state of part of the capitals of the centre group indi- 
cates the connecting line from which the roof sprung ; and 
he remarked, that the interior sides of them had been injured, 
as if some heavy body had fallen in and grated against them, 
while the outward faces are generally untouched. Chardin, 
Kaempfer, Niebuhr, and Sir W. Ouseley, all incline to the 
opinion that these columns supported some sort of covering ; 
and indeed it is not so difficult to comprehend how this was 
constructed in the case of the Chehel Minar, as in that of 
the other less elevated buildings on the terrace, the extended 
area of which must have prevented their being supplied with 
any simple roofing. 

Another question has arisen regarding the place whence 
the materials of these stupendous structures were taken. 
But it is obvious, not only that the stone of the mpuntain 
behind is the same as that of which they are built — namely, 
a compact gray limestone, susceptible of a good polish, — but 
that there are numerous proofs of its having been used for 
this very purpose, as several pieces half cut from the quarries, 
suid imperfectly finished in the style of the buildings, are 



136 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



found in the vicinity, — a circumstance which has led to an 
opinion that the edifices on the platform were not completed 
at the period of their destruction. 

One of the most striking considerations which arises from 
examining these splendid monuments, is the great mechanical 
skill and exquisite taste evinced in their construction, and 
which indicates an era of high cultivation and considerable 
scientific knowledge. We see here, as in Egypt, blocks of 
(tone forty or fifty feet long, and of enormous weight, placed 
one above another with a precision which renders the points 
of union almost invisible ; columns sixty feet high, consisting 
of huge pieces admirably formed, and jointed with invariable 
accuracy ; and a detail of sculpture, which, if it cannot boast 
the exact anatomical proportions and flowing outline of the 
Greek models, displays at least chiselling as delicate as any 
work of art on the banks of the Nile. 

The numerous inscriptions in letters or symbols which 
have hitherto baffled the research of the learned, need not 
detain us long. They are all in what is called, from their 
shape, the cuneiform or arrow-headed character, and many 
of them, especially those on the north wall of the terrace 
and on one of the tombs at Naksh e Roostum, are of great 
length. Chardin, Le Brun, and Niebuhr, have given speci- 
mens of those inscriptions ; and the last of these authors has 
with great labour copied three of them. Several modern 
travellers, particularly Sir R. K. Porter, have added to the 
stock of materials in the hands of the learned. The late 
lamented Mr. Rich, for many years resident at Bagdad, 
visited Persepolis with the intention of making a perfect 
copy of every literary carving in that neighbourhood ; and it 
was his intention to transmit to Professor Grotefend the 
result of his labours, to assist the researches of that profound 
Orientalist. But his untimely death, by removing from the 
field of Eastern inquiry one of its most zealous and success- 
ful cultivators, must, it is to be feared, have defeated this 
laudable object. 

According to Baron St. Martin, there are several sorts of 
cuneiform writing, the characters of which are perfectly dis- 
tinct. A number of inscriptions (forty-two, some very long) 
have lately been collected near the lake and city of Van, in 
Turkish Armenia, by Mr. Shultz, a German, sent thither for 
the purpose by the French minister of foreign affairs in 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 137 



1826 ; and among these three separate cuneiform char- 
acters have been distinguished by the Baron, who conceives 
from their situation that they may belong to the age of 
Semiramis. Of these only one resembles the writing at Per- 
sepolis. 

He doubts, indeed, whether any real progress has yet been 
made in deciphering these characters ; admitting, however, 
that if subsequent discoveries shall confirm the deductions of 
Professor Grotefend, he will be entitled to the honour of firs 
ascertaining what Persian kings founded the edifices at Persep- 
olis. These monarchs he holds to be Darius and Xerxes ; 
and this conclusion is supported by a very ingenious inference 
made by himself. A vase of alabaster, in the King of France's 
collection, bore an inscription in the Persepolitan character, 
by the side of which was placed a set of Egyptian hiero- 
glyphics that had been translated by Champollion. M. St. 
Martin having ascertained the value of the cuneiform cha- 
facters by comparison with their hieroglyphical synonymes, 
applied these to two inscriptions copied by Niebuhr, the 
meaning of which he thus conceives himself to have found 
out. His translation is as follows : — 

FIRST INSCRIPTION. 

" Darius, the powerful king ; king of kings, king of gods, son of 
Vyshtasp, of an illustrious race, and most excellent." 

SECOND INSCRIPTION. 

" Xerxes, the powerful king ; king of kings, son of Darius, of an 
illustrious race." 

The reasoning which brought him to this conclusion is 
ingenious, and "it is to be hoped" (as he modestly expresses 
himself) " that this accidental discovery may lead us to im- 
portant results when compared with the cuneiform inscriptions 
of Babylon, Media, and Armenia, and diffuse a new light 
over the history of the East." As yet, however, we have 
not understood that his views have either been confirmed, or 
followed up with that zeal which the learned author antici- 
pated.* 

* While we write, we learn that this able Orientalist is no more ; and 
with him vanishes much of the hopes of success in his peculiar path of 
research. Death has indeed been busy of late in the high places of 
Eastern literature,— Young, Champollion, Remusat, St. Martin. When 
shall we see the task which they have left incomplete resumed with such, 
ardour and so rich a stock of talent and of learning : 
M 2 



138 ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



M. Silvestre de Sacy, who has so successfully employed 
himself upon Sassanian inscriptions, considers M. Grotefend 
to have made out, beyond contradiction, the names of Da- 
rius Hystaspes and Xerxes. He also agrees with Sir R. K. 
Porter in assigning the tombs to the era of these monarchs ; 
and regrets that the zealous traveller did not copy the first 
lines of the inscription on the principal one, as it might have 
confirmed his own conjecture of its being the sepulchre of 
Darius Hystaspes. Such then is the present state of this 
inquiry, and so arduous, if not so hopeless, does the task of 
elucidating the subject appear, from the very limited mate- 
rials which exist to throw light upon each other. 

Before quitting the plain of Merdusht we have to notice 
certain remarkable castellated rocks near the ruins, which 
probably formed the defences of the ancient city. We 
allude to the hills of Istakhar, Shekusteh, and Shemgan, 
which, with their respective forts, are by Persian writers 
termed the Seh Goombedan or the Three Domes. The first 
of these rises nine miles north of the Tucht, and was as- 
cended by Morier, who estimated its elevation at 1200 feet. 
The path at its commencement was narrow and intricate, 
winding up a conical hill to the height of 700 feet ; but the 
next portion arose 500 feet nearly perpendicular, and the 
ascent was toilsome in the extreme. On the top, which is 
marked by a single fir-tree and some bushes, are four reser- 
voirs, part of a gateway, and several broken turrets and 
walls, — the remains of a fortress constructed by the Arabian 
general Zeid. As the travellers looked down from this sum- 
mit, full in front was seen another singular insulated cliff, 
also crowned with a fortress, and known by the name of 
Kallah Shareek or the Castle of Shareek, a king or governor 
of the province, who was killed in defending it against the 
Arabs in the seventh century. 

The extensive antiquities in the plains of Mourghab, forty- 
nine miles north-north-east of the Tucht, resemble those of 
Persepolis, with which they are supposed to be coeval ; — an 
account of them has been given by Morier, and, with his 
accustomed accuracy, by Sir R. K. Porter. We shall, how- 
ever, confine ourselves to the description of what they both 
consider to be the tomb of Cyrus the Great. 

By the natives this building is called Musjed e Madre 
Solyman, the Mosque of the Mother of Solomon. " Thi* 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA, 139 



-interesting monument," says Sir R. K. Porter, " stands on an 
eminence not far from the hills which bound the plain to the 
south-west. A wide area, marked outward by the broken 
shafts of twenty-four circular columns, surrounds the build- 
ing. Each column is three feet three inches in diameter, 
and they are distant from each other fourteen feet. Seven- 
teen of these are still erect, but heaped round with rubbish, 
and barbarously connected with a wall of mud. "Within this 
area stands the tomb. The base on which it rests is com- 
posed of immense blocks of white marble rising in steps, the 
lowest of which forms a square of forty-four by forty feet. 
A succession of gigantic steps completes, in a pyramidal 
shape, the pedestal of the tomb. The edifice itself is twenty- 
one feet by sixteen feet ten inches square ; in the smallest 
face is placed the entrance, which is two feet ten inches 
high. Four layers of stones compose the fabric. The first 
forms the sides of the entrance, the second its lintel, the 
third a simple projecting cornice, the fourth completes its 
pediment and sloping roof. The walls are a mass of solid 
stone five feet thick ; the chamber is seven feet wide, ten 
long, and eight high. The floor is composed of two immense 
slabs joined nearly in the middle. No cuneiform inscription has 
been found anywhere upon the building ; but the interior 
surface of the wall facing the kebla is sculptured with orna- 
ments, surrounding an Arabic inscription. The roof is flat, 
and, together with three of the walls, blackened with smoke. 
The side which faces the door, together with the floor, 
remain white, and the only thing which Mr. Morier saw 
within was a few dirty manuscripts." 

Tradition declares this to be the tomb of Bathsheba, and 
.the charge of it is given to women, who suffer none but 
females to enter. But the Carmelite friars of Shiraz told 
Mandelslo that it was the sepulchre of Wallada, mother of 
Solyman, fourteenth caliph of the posterity of Ali. This, 
however, has been deemed by one intelligent author as at 
best a random piece of information, particularly as two Mo- 
hammedan writers of respectability quoted by Sir W. use- 
ley* make no allusion to the Fatimite lady, but acquiesce 
in the tradition, — a circumstance which, while it ' in no de- 
gree confirms the latter, appears at least to discredit the 
story of the Carmelites. 

* Ouseley's Travels, vol. ii. p. 432. 



140 ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



The building and its enclosure are surrounded by other 
ruinous structures, more obviously contemporary with Persep- 
olis, as they bear many cuneiform inscriptions, all apparently 
the same ; and if Professor Grotefend's translation of these, 
^-namely, " Cyrus the king, ruler of the universe," — be cor- 
rect, it would go far to establish the conjecture of the travel- 
lers we have followed, that here was the true Pasargadae, 
and that in the Musjed we have the tomb of the grandson 
of Astyages. 

Morier in advancing his opinion and his reasons observes, 
" If the position of the place had corresponded to the site of 
Pasargadae as well as the form of the structure accords 
with the description of the tomb of Cyrus near that city, I 
should have been tempted to assign to the present building 
so illustrious an origin. The tomb was raised within a grove ; 
it was a small edifice with an arched roof of stone, and its en- 
trance was so narrow that the slenderest man could scarce 
pass through. It rested on a quadrangular base of a single 
stone, and contained the following inscription : — ' O mortals ! 
I am Cyrus, son of Cambyses, founder of the Persian 
monarchy and sovereign of Asia ; grudge me not, therefore, 
this monument.' That the plain around Musjed e Madre 
Solyman was the site of a great city is proved by the ruins 
with which it is strewed ; and that this city was of the same 
general antiquity as Persepolis may be inferred from the 
similarity of character in the inscriptions on the remains of 
both, though this particular edifice does not happen to dis- 
play that internal evidence of a contemporaneous date. A 
grove would naturally have disappeared in Modern Persia ; 
the structures correspond in size ; the triangular roof might 
be called arched, in an age when the true semicircular arch 
was probably unknown ; and in the lapse of 2400 years the 
absence of an inscription would not be a decisive evidence 
against its identity with the tomb of Cyrus." 

According to Arrian, who wrote from the testimony of one 
who had visited the spot, this celebrated sepulchre was 
within the Royal Paradise (or garden) of Pasargadae. Its 
base was a single quadrangular stone ; above was a small 
edifice of masonry with an arched roof; within was the 
golden coffin of Cyrus, over which was a canopy with pillars 
of gold, and the whole was hung round with purple tapestry 
and Babylonian carpets. In the same enclosure was a small 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



141 



house for the Magi, to whose care the cemetery was intrusted 
by Cambyses ; and the charge descended from father to son. 
Sir R. K. Porter saw holes in the floor, and at the upper end 
of the chamber, in the positions that would have served to 
admit the iron fastenings of the coffin. Had it been cased 
in a stone sarcophagus, that would doubtless (he remarks) 
have remained. The plain in which the structure stands is 
now, as it was then, well watered ; and in a building called 
the Caravansary he thinks may be recognized the residence 
of the Wise Men. 

To these ingenious reasonings it might be objected, that 
the base of a single quadrangular stone, and the arched roof 
described by Arrian, can scarcely be identified with the 
pyramidal pile of large stones and pitched stone roof of the 
edifice in question ; and that the doorway, two feet ten 
inches broad, cannot pass for the entrance, being so narrow 
as hardly to admit the slenderest man. There is, besides, 
as has been already mentioned, a great uncertainty with 
regard to trie fate of Cyrus himself. 

We shall not detain our readers with an account of Fassa 
or Darabgerd ; for, although the country between Shiraz and 
the last-mentioned place is sprinkled with relics that might 
well interest the antiquary, and the name of Darabgerd is 
derived from one of Persia's most celebrated monarchs, 
nothing is found there connected with the class of antiquities 
we have been considering. 

The plain of Kermanshah is bounded on the north by 
rugged mountains, which terminate in a naturally-scarped 
precipice 1500 feet high. A portion of the lower part, ex- 
tending 150 feet in length and 100 in height, has been 
smoothed by art, leaving a projection above and below ; the 
latter sloping gradually in a rocky terrace to the level of the 
gTound at the bottom. The absence of columnar support 
to the overhanging projection has, it is supposed, procured 
for this singular rock the name of Bessittoon, — that is, 
" without pillars." 

Above the source of a clear stream which bursts from the 
mountain about fifty yards from this rocky platform, are the 
remains of an immense piece of sculpture, but so much de- 
faced that scarcely any outline can be traced. The mutila- 
tion chiefly arises from several subsequent additions that 
have been made on the same spot. One of these, a Greek 



142 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



inscription, nas in its turn been forced to give way to one ill 
Arabic, the sole purport of which is a grant of certain lands to 
a neighbouring caravansary. Colonel Macdonald Kinneir is 
inclined to refer this rude sculpture to the time of Semiramis. 
He supports his opinion by the authority of Diodorus, who re- 
lates from Ctesias, that on the march to Ecbatana she en- 
camped at Mount Baghistan in Media, and made there a 
garden twelve furlongs in compass. The mountain was 
dedicated to Jupiter, and towards one side it had a steep rock 
seventeen furlongs high. She cut a piece out of the lower 
part of this rock, and caused her image to be carved upon 
it with one hundred of her guards standing round her. She 
wrote, moreover, that Semiramis ascended from the plain to 
the top of the mountain by laying the packs and farthels of 
her baggage-cattle one upon another. Hamadan being 
generally admitted to be the ancient Ecbatana, there is better 
reason than is commonly to be found in similar conjectures 
for believing that this sculpture dates from the era of the 
Assyrian heroine. "We can allow for the exaggeration which 

5-has converted 1500 feet into seventeen furlongs. 

, ' Considerably higher on the smoothed rock appear fourteen 
figures in precisely the same style as those at the Tucht e 

I Jumsheed. A line of nine persons united by a cord tied 
round their necks, and having their hands bound behind their 
backs, approach another of more majestic stature, who, 
holding up his right hand with an authoritative air, treads on 
a prostrate body ; while his countenance, grave and erect, 
assumes the expression of a superior or a conqueror. Of 
these captives the greater number appear middle-aged ; but 
the third and the last are old men. Three wear the same 
flowing dress as the figure who is supposed to represent the 
monarch ; the rest are clad in tight short tunics. Above 
all, in the centre, floats as it were in the air- the figure so 
often seen at Persepolis, and which is supposed to be the 
guardian angel of the principal personage. 

Sir R. K. Porter thinks the design of this bas-relief, which 
is finely executed, commemorates the final conquest of Is- 
rael by Psalmaneser, king of Assyria ; and that the ten captive 
figures (including that which is prostrate under the king's 

* A copy of this as far as can be deciphered, may be seen in Sir R. K. 
Porter's Travels, vol. ii. p. 151. The letters forming part of the word 
<* Gotarz" may still be recogn**^ 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



143 



feet) represent the ten tribes that were carried into cap- 
tivity. We join cordially in the wish of this traveller that 
the inscriptions could be deciphered. 

Our attention must now be directed to the second class 
of antiquities, — namely those connected with the period of 
the Sassanian dynasty. Of these the principal monuments 
are the sculptures of the Tauk e Bostam or Bostan, Naksh 
e Roostum, of the Naksh e Rejib, near Persepolis, and of 
Shapoor ; — all of them less imposing than those above 
described. The most remarkable, though probably the least 
ancient, is the Tauk e Bostam or the Arch of the Garden. 

The mountain in which these sculptures are executed 
forms part of the range which terminates at Bessittoon, and 
like it is bare and craggy, affording with its rugged height a 
striking contrast to the fertile plain of Kermanshah, over 
which it towers scarcely a furlong distant from the city. By 
the side of a clear and copious stream which gushes from 
its base, rises a flight of several hundred steps cut in the 
steep rock, and finishing abruptly on an extensive ledge. 
Beneath this platform is situated the largest of the two 
arches, which is twenty-four feet in width and twenty-one in 
depth ; while the face of the precipice has been smoothed 
for a considerable space on either side, as well as above, 
beyond its sweep. On the lower part of this prepared surface, 
both to the right and left, are upright entablatures, each 
containing an exquisitely-carved ornament of foliage in the 
Grecian taste. A double-wreathed border, terminating in 
two fluttering streamers, which are attached to various 
parts of the dress of royal persons on all the Sassanian 
monuments, runs round the arch. The keystone is sur- 
mounted by a sort of crescent resting in the same orna- 
ment ; and on either side of the arch hovers a winged female 
holding a clasped fillet or diadem, with the usual waving 
streamer. The chiselling is good, and, though inferior in 
elegance to that seen at Persepolis and Mourghab, the dis- 
position of the wings and drapery is such that Sir R. K. 
Porter supposes them to be the work of an artist of the 
Romano-Grecian school. Both the inner sides and back of 
this arch are sculptured. The latter is divided into two 
compartments. In the upper are three figures, of which the 
one in the centre represents a monarch wearing a pointed 
diadem, whence rise a pair of small wings, embracing with 



144 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



their points a crescent, and that again enclosing a ball or 
globe. His robe is rich and jewelled ; his hair floats in 
curls on his shoulders ; his left hand rests on a sword ; and 
with his right he seems to refuse a plain fillet with streamers, 
which is presented by the person on his left. This figure 
wears the same diadem as the sovereign, with some differ- 
ence in its embellishments ; but his garb is not so highly 
ornamented, and the style of his trousers does not corres- 
pond. On the right is a female crowned with a diadem 
varying from the others ; she offers to the centre figure a 
circlet similarly decorated. The lower compartment contains 
a single collossal horseman clad in a coat of chain-armour. 
On his left arm he bears a shield ; a spear is on his right 
shoulder ; and a royal helmet adorned with streamers covers 
his head. His steed is caparisoned and richly ornamented ; 
but both horse and man are very much mutilated. There 
are traces of a Greek and of a Pehlevi inscription, both 
illegible. On the sides are delineated a boar and a stag- 
hunt in the minutest detail, and comprising innumerable 
figures of men and animals carved with great truth and 
spirit. 

The second arch is but nine feet broad and twelve deep. 
It is plain externally, and contains on the back of the recess 
only two figures similarly habited, with the balloon-shaped 
cap, curled hair, and rich robes ; the hands resting on the 
pommels of long straight swords which hang down perpen- 
dicularly in front. A dagger depends at the right side of 
each, and the number of streamers denote both to be royal 
personages. Two inscriptions in Pehlevi are found one on 
each side these figures ; the translation of which, according 
to De Sacy, — the first person in modern Europe whose in- 
dustry and genius enabled him to rediscover the value of 
the alphabetic characters, and the meaning of some legends 
in that language which had long been given up as irre- 
coverably lost, — is as follows, and identifies the sovereigns 
represented : 

FIRST INSCRIPTION. 

M This is the figure of the adorer of Ormuid, the excellent Shapoor 
king of kings, of Iran and An Iran— celestial germ of the race of gods r 
— eon of the servant of Ormuzd, the excellent Hoormuz, king of kings, 
of Iran and An Iran ,— celestial germ of the race of the gods, grandson 
of the excellent Narses, king of kings.* 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 145 



SECOND INSCRIPTION". 

"He of whom this is the figure is the adorer of Ormuzd, the excellent 
Vaharam, king of kings, of Iran and An Iran,— celestial germ of the 
race of the gods,— son of the adorer of Ormuzd, the excellent Sapor, 
king of kings, of Iran and An Iran, — celestial germ of the race of the 
gods,— grandson of the excellent Hoormuz, king of kings."* 

Sir R. K. Porter is inclined to adopt the tradition of the 
country, so far as regards the date of the first arch at least, 
and to attribute them to the reign of Khoosroo Purveez, 
whose amusements in this, the scene of his dalliance with 
the fair Shireen, are portrayed in the hunting-scenes ; while 
he conceives that the three figures in the upper compart- 
ment represent Khoosroo with Shireen and the Emperor 
Maurice, his patron and father by adoption.! M. de Sacy 
agrees with the traveller in thinking that the two winged 
forms are Ferohers, perhaps a little altered by the taste of a 
Greek artist. If this be the case, and if that gentleman's 
translation be correct, the bas-relief in the second arch must 
be consider Eibly older than the first, as the inscriptions would 
then apply to Sapor II. or Zoolactaf, and to Baharam or 
Vaharam his son, surnamed Kermanshah, who long filled the 
office of viceroy over Kerman during his brother's life, and 
afterward founded the city of that name. 

There is another bas-relief at Tauk e Bostam, cut on a 
smooth piece of rock over the source of the stream. It is 
termed the Four Calunders, and consists of three figures 
erect, — one of whom, clad in the ensigns of royalty, treads 
under foot a fourth who lies prostrate. The workmanship 
resembles that of the smaller arch, and no doubt refers to the 
same events. 

In addition to the bas-reliefs, it appears certain that the 
rocks of Tank e Bostam were once adorned with statues ; 
for Sir R. K. Porter discovered, leaning against the bank of 
the river beneath the ledge, the remains of a coarsely-hewn 

* Sir John Malcolm showed this translation to Mollah Fer3se, the 
learned Parsee already mentioned, who confirmed the accuracy of the 
French academician, adding that the words " Iran vo An Iran," signify 
"believers and unbelievers;" that is, the whole world,— Persia and 
elsewhere. 

t Sir Robert follows the Eastern tradition, that Shireen was the 
Roman emperor's daughter. Sir John Malcolm rejects this improbable 
tale. 

N 



146 



ANTIQUITIES OF FKR5IA. 



colossal figure which had fallen from a height above ; and, 
on examining the spot where it had stood, a row of sculp- 
tured feet broken off at the ankles showed that other statues 
had once existed there. The mutilated one in question ap- 
pears to have resembled the figures in the coarse bas-reliefs ; 
for the drapery extended to the point near the knees where 
it was broken off; one hand was placed on its breast, while 
the other rested on something like a sword, depending in 
front of the body. 

Poetical and popular tradition attributes the antiquities of 
Tauk e Bostam not only to the age of Khoosroo Purveez, 
but to the workmanship of an admirer of the lovely Shireen. 
The monarch, anxious to perpetuate the beauties of his mis- 
tress, sought for an artist able to carve her likeness in last- 
ing stone. Ferhaud, the first sculptor of the age, presented 
himself for this purpose ; but, intoxicated with her charms, 
he madly endeavoured to gain her affections. His royal 
master took advantage of this infatuation, and employed him 
in numberless works, with a promise that his beloved should 
be the reward of his success. Thus inspired, the energy of 
Ferhaud was inexhaustible ; the sculptures of this place 
and Bessittoon were soon completed ; and such progress was 
made in cutting through the mountain to bring a stream from 
the neighbouring valley, that Khoosroo became alarmed lest 
he should be called on to perform his engagement. To 
avoid this dilemma he had recourse to treachery. "While 
Ferhaud was at work on the highest part of the rock, making 
the echoes resound with the name of his mistress even more 
than with the clang of his instruments, an old woman ap- 
proached him, — ; 'Alas!" said she, " Ferhaud, why do yon 
thus call upon the name of Shireen, when that lovely one is 
already no more 1 Two weeks have fled and the third is 
now passing since that light of the world was extinguished 
and Khoosroo put on his robes of mourning." Ferhaud 
heard and believed, — reason instantly forsook him, — seizing 
the a^ed female, he threw himself from the peak, and the 
betrayer and betrayed met their death in the same moment. 
The writers of romance relate that, hearing of her lover's 
fate, Shireen pined, and, " like the rose deserted by the nightin- 
gale, drooped her head and withered ;" when the sovereign, 
struck with compunction, made what reparation was in his 
power, by permitting the lovers to rest in one grave, — out of 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



147 



which two rose-trees grew and twined together, while a 
huge thistle sprung from the breast of their destroyer. — 
History, however, describes this celebrated lady as faithful 
to her husband through danger and misfortune, even to death. 
When he fell by a parricidal command, and when his son de- 
clared to the queen his incestuous passion, she desired, as 
the price of her consent, to take a last look of her murdered 
lord, and poisoned, or as some say stabbed, herself on the 
body. 

The next Sassanian monuments of importance are the 
sculptures at Shapoor. Fifteen miles north of Kauzeroun 
are the ruins of that city, once the capital of Persia, founded 
by the monarch whose name it bears, and situated in a well- 
watered plain at the mouth of a narrow pass, from which 
issues a fine river. According to Morier it covered a space 
of about six miles in circumference. At the entrance of 
the valley, which is scarcely thirty yards across,* stands an 
insulated hill that exhibits portions of the walls and towers 
of its ancient fortifications. A pleasing, though lonely, pas- 
toral landscape, shut in by lofty mountains, appears through 
the rocky gorge of the valley ; and on the cliffs are carved 
the sculptures now to be shortly described. 

The first object which arrests the attention on the southern 
side of the river is a much-mutilated bas-relief, carved on the 
surface of the rock, consisting of two colossal horsemen, — . 
one of whom, on the right, stands over a prostrate figure that 
seems to be in the Roman costume. Another person, in the 
same dress, is in an attitude of supplication at the horse's 
knees ; and a head, in alt-relief, is seen just between its 
hinder feet. The equestrian figure to the left is least de- 
stroyed ; and the height of each is about fifteen feet. 

The second sculpture, which is far more perfect, appears 
on a tablet divided into three compartments ; the central one 
contains a mounted personage wearing a mural crown, above 
which is a globe or balloon-shaped ornament, common to the 
Sassanian sovereigns. His hair falls in massy curls on each 
shoulder, and riband-like streamers flow backward. He is 
clothed in a loose robe, a quiver hangs by his side, and in his 
right hand he holds a figure behind him, dressed in the Roman 

* So says Morier. Colonel Johnson makes it 200 ; their estimates 
Kiay refer to different points, but truth undoubtedly lies between. 



148 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



tunic and helmet. A suppliant, in a similar habit, is on its 
knees before the horse's head, with its hands extended, and 
a face expressive of entreaty. A person in the same attire 
is stretched under the horse's feet ; while another, with 
something of an Egyptian countenance, stands, in a beseech- 
ing attitude, to the right of this compartment. There is also 
a figure partly concealed by the one that is kneeling. Above 
the animal's head hovers a winged boy bearing a scroll. The 
right-hand section is subdivided into six others, each con- 
taining three figures, partly in supplicating attitudes ; while 
that on the left bears two rows of five horsemen each, sepa- 
rated bv a plain cross band. The principal group is about 
twelve feet in length, the minor ones four feet ten inches. 

On the opposite side of the river are a still greater number 
of tablets. The first is eleven yards four inches long, and 
contains a multitude of figures very elaborately designed, 
and representing, as it appears, the triumph of a Persian 
king over a Roman army. On the left of this bas-relief is a 
slab containing two colossal horsemen, each grasping with 
his extended hand a circle, to which the royal streamers are 
attached. The sculpture displays much anatomical skill, 
even to the veins and arteries of the horse's legs. A very 
extensive group next occurs ; but its lower parts have been 
so destroyed, that only the heads of men, camels, and horses 
are seen, with part of a mounted personage, who holds in 
his hand a bow and arrows. The last is a bas-relief in ex- 
cellent preservation, fourteen yards long, and composed of a 
great variety of figures and characters. It is divided into a 
number of compartments, of which the one in the centre is 
appropriated to a design almost entirely resembling that 
described in the second piece. 

There is little doubt that these labours of the chisel com- 
memorate the triumph of Shapoor over Valerian ; although 
De Sacy thinks they represent the successes of Ardeshir 
Babegan over Artabanes, the last of the Arsacidae. But of all 
Sassanian monuments those at Shapoor have been the least 
explored, principally on account of the danger to be appre- 
hended from the Mahmoud Sunni robbers, by whom the 
neighbourhood is infested. 

The most remarkable object i3 a statue, now mutilated 
and prostrate, in a cavern a short distance up the Shapoor 
valley. The mountain rises first in a steep slope, crowned 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



149 



by a perpendicular precipice of limestone 700 feet in height.* 
The ascent is laborious, occupying forty minutes without a 
halt ; and the entrance to the cave is raised about 140 feet 
above the base of the precipice, the lower third being almost 
perpendicular. Arrived at this point, the traveller reaches a 
spacious archway 150 feet broad and nearly 40 high, within 
which, about sixteen or eighteen paces from the mouth, in 
a sort of natural antechamber, stands the pedestal, resting 
against which lies the statue with the head downwards. 
Both have been cut from a pillar of solid rock. The figure, 
which, when erect, must have been from fifteen to twenty 
feet high, represents the same royal personage who appears 
in all the Sassanian sculptures of Fars. Its head, though 
now defaced, has been crowned with the mural diadem ; the 
bushy and curled hair hangs over the shoulders ; a collar of 
pearls encircles the neck ; the body is covered with a thin 
robe, gathered in plaits at the girdle, and flowing in free folds 
on the thighs ; one belt crosses from the right shoulder to 
the left hip, another from the right hip to the left thigh, and 
is tied with a riband terminating in the royal streamers ; the 
same ornaments depend from the head, and are attached to 
the shoe-ties ; the right hand rests on the side, and the left 
appears to have grasped the pommel of the sword. The 
sculpture resembles exactly that of the tablets, — tolerably 
executed, and exhibiting some knowledge of anatomy and 
design, yet not so beautifully chiselled as the bas-reliefs at 
Persepolis. There is little doubt that the statue represents 
Shapoor ; and we have dwelt somewhat long on its descrip- 
tion, because, with the exception of the mutilattd remains 
at Tauk e Bostam, it is supposed to be the only thing of the 
kind in Persia, f 

The extent of the cavern is enormous ; its communications 
infinite ; while multitudes of stalactites, in all their fanciful 
forms, diversify the chambers, some of which are wonder- 
fully lofty and spacious. Proceeding in the dark, or by the 
red light of torches, the eye is caught by dim fantastic shapes, 
to which the flickering gleam lends a dubious semblance of 

* Lieutenant Alexander calls the mountain 1000 feet high, and the 
precipice 400 only. There is nothing more fallacious than judging of 
elevations by the eye. 

t It has been said that there was a statue of Shapoor at Nishapour ; if 
«o, no trace- of it remains. 

N 2 



150 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



life ; and gigantic forms seem to animate the abyss, as if 
ready to seize and punish the intruder. Colonel Johnson 
penetrated 190 feet to an immense circular and vaulted room 
100 feet high, from which branched several passages, in one 
of which he observed an empty tank, twenty feet by ten, and 
six feet deep. Two hundred feet more brought him to a 
large irregular excavation, surrounded by grotesque stalac- 
tites ; bevond this were other vaults and entrances, some 
containing mud and water, intensely cold ; and he was forced 
to retire, after spending a considerable time there, convinced 
that he had not penetrated half through these extensive 
vaults.- Such fissures are common in formations of second- 
arv limestone ; nor is there the smallest reason for believing, 
with some travellers, that art has been employed to assist 
the processes of nature. Traces of tablets may be seen near 
the entrance, with the marks of the chisel visible on the hard 
rock ; but neither sculpture nor characters of any sort are 
to be found in the cave. 

To this sketch of the antiquities of Shapoor w r e shall only 
add, that the city, founded according to tradition by Tah- 
muras Deevebund, and destroyed by Alexander the Great, 
was rebuilt by the king whose name it bears, who made it 
his capital. The situation in a well-watered plain enabled 
him to render it an enchanting abode, according to the taste 
of the times : it abounded in gardens and baths, in fruits and 
flowers of hot as well as of cold climates, — for the contiguous 
valleys ripen oranges and dates as well as hardier produc- 
tions, — and in all the necessaries and luxuries of Asiatic life. 
And it is strange that a spot so favoured by nature should 
ever have been deserted for the comparatively arid plain 
where Kauzeroun now stands. 

We must return once more to the vicinity of Persepolis, 
— to the tombs of the kings, where the sculptures, by the 
natives called Naksh e Roostum, are to be found ; and to 
a recess between that point and the Tucht, named by them 
Naksh e Rejib. These shall not detain us long ; for all Sas- 

* The present writer ean add his testimony' to Colonel Johnson's 
account of this remarkable cavern and its interesting tenant. The rami- 
fications are so extensive, that no one has ever been known to explore 
them, and the natives have a story that a cow, having wandered in, did 
not make her appearance until "two years after, when she came out 
accompanied by two calves. 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA* 151 



ganian monuments so closely resemble each other, that the 
description of a few may serve for all. 

On six tablets, cut on the perpendicular rocks that contain 
the tombs, have been sculptured many bas-reliefs, all un- 
doubtedly Sassanian, and generally representing the triumphs 
or victories of the early kings of that race. The most northern 
exhibits two horsemen, — one of whom, with the mural crown, 
surmounted with a ball from which floats the royal streamer, 
tenders the circlet with its ribands to another whose head is 
covered with a round helmet, also surmounted with the bal- 
loon-shaped crest. This-design, as well as a similar one at 
Shapoor, has been supposed to represent Ardeshir Babegan, 
the first of the Sassanides, resigning the emblem of empire 
to his son. Next to this is a bas-relief with nine figures, five 
on the right and three on the left of a personage adorned 
with the ensigns of royalty, — the figures on the right seem 
beckoning to those on the left. Towards the centre of the 
range of rocks is a spirited representation of two horsemen 
meeting in the shock of an engagement. One of the steeds 
has been thrown on its haunches by the collision, and the 
spear of the rider is broken, while that of his adversary passes 
through his neck. The fourth is an exact copy, on a gigan- 
tic scale, of the subject at Shapoor ; in which the mounted 
king is supposed to be receiving the submission of a Roman 
emperor, who kneels before him. On the horse's belly is a 
long Greek inscription, for the most part illegible, and one 
in Pehlevi, which has been thus rendered by De Sacy : — 
" The figure of the servant of Ormuzd, of the divine (or god) 
Ardeshir, king of kings of Iran and An Iran, — of the race 
of the gods, — son of the god Babec, a king." — The fifth 
tablet contains three figures ; that in the centre wears the 
globe-surmounted crown, and his right hand extended holds 
a ring, which is also grasped by a female on his left. The 
third appears to be an attendant. The sixth and last is a 
colossal representation of two horsemen rushing on to com- 
bat ; and though the one on the left wears on his head a ball 
with streamers instead of a three-peaked cap, it might seem 
a£ if the design was to exhibit the two warriors above described 
preparing for the mortal shock. This tablet is twenty-four 
feet long by twelve high, but is much mutilated. 

The sculptures at Naksh e Rejib vary somewhat from 
those already delineated. They consist of three tablets. 



152 



ANTIQUITIES OF PERSIA. 



The first contains seven colossal and two diminutive figures. 
The subject is that of two persons with clubs in their hands, 
each holding the riband circlet ; but they are on foot, and 
their costume differs from that of the other bas-reliefs. Be- 
hind the chief, on the right, stand two women, with their 
faces averted, and one of them raising her finger with an 
impressive gesture. The other has also two attendants, one 
of whom holds the fly- flap over his head : the whole of this 
tablet has been greatly injured. 

The second piece, which is much better preserved, ex- 
hibits a royal personage on horseback, followed by nine attend- 
ants, wearing high caps, with bushy beards and hair. From 
the elaborate details of dress and equipage, it appears to 
have been designed to represent the king in his greatest pomp ; 
but the face of the horse and its rider are both totally de- 
stroyed. On the chest of the animal is a Greek inscription, 
which has been copied by most travellers, but is not intel- 
ligible without filling up considerable blanks at hazard. This 
has been done by M. de Sacy ; and it is satisfactory that the 
Greek inscription thus supplied agrees with his translation 
of the Pehlevi beside it. It runs as follows : — " This is the 
resemblance of the seivant of Ormuzd, the divine Shapoor, 
king of the kings of Iran and An Iran, — of the race of the 
gods.— -son of the servant of Ormuzd, the divine Artaxares, 
king of the kings of Iran, — of the race of the gods, — grand- 
son of the divine Babec the king." The remaining tablet 
contains but a repetition of the two horsemen holding a ring. 

We shall describe no more of these monuments, although 
several exist in various parts of the kingdom ; and possibly 
some mav have escaped the inquiries of travellers. There 
is, as we have alreadv remarked, a sculptured rock at Sel- 
mas. on the north-west shore of the lake of Urumeah ; and 
another, Naksh e Roostum. at Darab, in which Shapoor is 
represented laying his hand with a compassionate air on the 
head of a captive chief. In the neighbourhood of that place 
there are some remains resembling druidical erections, de- 
scribed by Sir W. Ouselev, who also mentions an imperfect 
equestrian figure of Shapoor, or some of the Sassanian 
princes, at Rhe ; but for the particulars of these we must 
refer to the works of the various authors already quoted. 



FROM THE FALL OF THE SASSANIDES, ETC. 153 



CHAPTER VI. 

History from the Fall of the Sassanides to the Rise of the 
Suffavean Dynasty* 

Completion of the Mohammedan Conquest— Jacob ibn Leith — Amer — 
Dynasty of the Samanides— Of the Dilemites— The Ghiznevides— The 
House of Seljuk — Togrul — Alp Arslan — Malek Shah, and Nizam ul 
Mulk— Sanjar— The Attabegs— Account of Hussun Subah and the 
Assassins— Invasion and Conquest of Zingis Khan — Hoolaku and his 
Successors— Timur— His History— Conquests — Death— Successors. 

We resume our historical sketch at an important juncture. 
Without king or government, the feeble and luxurious Per- 
sians opposed no effectual resistance to the hardy enthu- 
siasts of Arabia, who quickly overran the empire, from the 
Euphrates to the Oxus, destroying with bigot fury all that 
was useful, grand, or sacred, in that unhappy country. The 
progress of those conquerors was indeed most rapid and 
wonderful. Colonies from the burning deserts of the south 
were extended over the cold countries of Khorasan and 
Balkh ; and they flourished in the soil to which they were 
transplanted. The invaders soon completed the subjugation 
of the kingdom, which continued a province of the caliphs 
for more than two centuries. But the natives could not for 
ever endure such thraldom. Weary of wars, insurrections, 
and massacres, the body of the people might enjoy for a 
while the tranquillity of their chains ; but the chieftains 
gradually recovered their power, and, as the fever of reli- 
gious zeal abated, respect for the Lords of the Faithful de- 
clined. Disaffection first, and afterward revolt, arose, and 
the sceptre, which the weak successors of Omar and AH 
could no longer retain, became a prize for the first adven- 
turer who had courage to grasp it. 

Jacob ibn Leith, the son of a pewterer in Seistan, accom- 
plished this bold attempt. Too prodigal to be content with 
the gains of trade, the spendthrift became a robber. In the 
disturbed state of the country, the transition from a bandit 



154 FROM THE FALL OF THE SASSANIDFS TO 



to a successful and gallant chief was easy. The usurping 
governor of his native province solicited his aid, and he 
availed himself of the confidence reposed in him to seize at 
once the person of his ally and the authority he had as- 
sumed. Supported at the outset by the Commander of the 
Moslem, who gladly enlisted him against his rebellious tribu- 
taries, Jacob again betrayed his trust ; and making himself 
master of the greater part of Eastern Persia, spurned the 
offer of investiture wrung from the fears of his imbecile em- 
ployer : — "Tell the caliph," said he to the envoy of that 
prince, whom he received in bed while labouring under the 
influence of a fever, — " tell the caliph that I am already in- 
debted to my sword for the territories he so generously be- 
stows upon me. If I live, that sword shall decide between 
us, — if I die, he will be freed from his apprehensions. If I 
am worsted, the man who can live on fare like this," point- 
ing to some black bread and onions beside him, u need not 
fear w T hat the chances of war can bring." 

Jacob died in 877, the first independent monarch of Persia 
of the Mohammedan faith, bequeathing a sceptre, which re- 
quired a firmer grasp, to his brother Amer, who was religious 
and generous, but devoted to luxury. Far from pursuing 
hostilities against the court of Bagdad, he sent thither a re- 
spectful letter, consenting to do homage for his dominions. 
But this loyalty did not continue long, — disagreements and 
wars arose, and the Caliph Motamed, unable to reduce the 
rebel, instigated Ishmael Samani, a chief of Transoxiana 
(Mavar al Nabar) to attack him. Valour or accident, or 
both, favoured the enterprise ; the army of Amer was dis- 
persed, himself taken prisoner, and sent in chains to the 
• capital, where, after a confinement of some vears, he was put 
to death by the Caliph Motaded (A. D. 901). It is told of 
this prince, that as he sat a captive on the ground after the 
battle, while a soldier prepared for him a coarse meal, by 
boiling some flesh in a small pot, a hungry dog thrust his 
head into the vessel, and not being able to extricate it, ran 
away with the mess as well as the cooking utensil. The 
unfortunate monarch burst into a fit of laughter. " What on 
earth can possibly induce a man in your situation to laugh !" 
said one of his guards. " See !" replied Amer, " it was but 
this morningr that the steward of my household complained 
that three hundred camels were insufficient to carry my 



THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEAN DYNASTY. 155 



kitchen-furniture, and now that dog scampers off with fur- 
niture, provisions, and all !" 

With Arner fell the fortunes of his race ; and although two 
more princes belonging to it maintained a precarious author- 
ity, the empire of Persia was, during the next century, 
divided between the families of Saman and Dilemee. The 
first reigned over Transoxiana, Khorasan, Balkh, and Seis- 
tan ; the latter, though styling themselves Slaves of the 
Lord of the Faithful, exercised all the functions of sove 
reign power in great part of Irak, Fars, Kerman, Kuzistan 
and Laristan. 

Of the first-mentioned dynasty Ismael was the most cele- 
brated. His grandfather Saman was a Tartar chief, who 
claimed descent from Baharam Choubeen the Sassanian. By 
favour of the Caliph Mamoun his grandsons rose to distinc- 
tion in Khorasan and Mavar al Nahar ; and Ismael attained 
a degree of influence which enabled him to discomfit the 
forces of Amer ibn Leith. This success confirmed his 
power. He extended his conquests both to east and west, 
and died in 907 at the age of sixty, leaving a high reputation 
for munificence as a patron of learning, for fidelity to his 
word, and for courage, justice, and piety, surpassed by few 
Eastern monarchs. 

In the reign of Ameer Noah, fifth monarch from Ismael, 
the celebrated Mahmoud of Ghizni rose into notice. His 
father, Subuktagi, was a slave, or rather a confidential soldier 
of the body-guard to Abistagi, a noble of Bokhara, who re- 
nounced his country and allegiance, and with a few followers 
founded the principality just named. The servant succeeded 
his master, enlarged his dominions, and established one of 
the most powerful dynasties that Asia ever witnessed. 

Ameer Noah, hard pressed by his nobles, applied for aid 
to Subuktagi, who sent his son with an army to his assist- 
ance. , By the valour and conduct of these auxiliaries the 
rebels were routed ; and the young prince obtained as a re- 
ward the government of Khorasan. Such was the out- 
set of the great Mahmoud of Ghizni in Persia, — such the 
commencement of an empire which in a few years stretched 
from Bagdad to Cashgar — from Georgia to Bengal, But 
before adverting further to these conquests, it will be proper 
to bestow a glance on the dynasty of the Dilejniies. 



156 FROM THE FALL OF THE SASSAMDES TO 



Abu Shujah Buiyah, a fisherman of Dilemiri Mazunderan, 
had three sons, to each of whom, in turn, an astrologer had 
promised the sovereign power. The troubles of the times, 
their own ambition, and probably a superstitious belief in 
the prediction, produced its fulfilment ; the young men rose 
rapidly in the service of a chief or prince of Tabaristan ; 
and in a short time we find Ali, the eldest, in possession of 
Fars and Irak Adjemi. The capture of the treasures of Ya- 
koor, the caliph's lieutenant in Ispahan, placed riches and 
additional power in his hands. Kerman and Kuzistan were 
subdued, and Bagdad itself was numbered among his con- 
quests, although prudence induced him to accept from the 
hands of the Mohammedan ruler the investiture of the do- 
minions he had acquired, rather than to endanger his au- 
thority by offending the religious prejudices of the age. 

Ali Shujah, dying childless, was succeeded by Ruken u 
Dowlut Hussun Buiyah, his brother ; but the sovereignty of 
Fars was bestowed on Ezzed u Dowlut, the son of Ruken, 
by his uncle Moez u Dowlut Achmed, the third of the fisher- 
man's sons, who had remained at Bagdad nominally as as- 
sistant to the caliph, but in fact as his master. On the death 
of Ruken and Moez, Ezzed not only obtained all the do- 
minions of the family, but rose to the rank of vizier, — an 
office which he discharged for thirty-four years with so 
much ability that his name was regarded with the highest 
gratitude, and the ruler of the Faithful himself read pravers 
at his funeral. Ezzed was the greatest of the monarchs of 
Dilem, who, however, soon sank under the overwhelming 
power of Mahmoud of Ghizni. 

A minute account of the actions of the latter prince is 
rendered unnecessary by the notice alreadv taken of his 
reign in another volume of this Library.* His ambition, no 
less than his religious zeal, led him to make several inroads 
into India . all of them were successful ; and by the plunder 
obtained he was enabled to establish his court on a footing 
of remarkable splendour. His name holds a conspicuous 
rank among those conquerors who have made sacred motives 
the pretext for rapine and bloodshed. His justice and piety are 
the theme of all historians ; but these virtues were tarnished 

* See Family Library, No. XLVTI. Historical and Descriptive Account 
of British India, vol. i. 



THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEAN DYNASTY. 157 



by intolerance and avarice, which involved him in many acts 
unworthy of his name. He expired (A. D. 1032) in the 
Palace of Felicity at Ghizni, and with him sank the glory 
of his family. His heir Musaood was defeated ten years 
after by the Seljuk Turkomans, in Khorasan ; and at a 
somewhat later period, during a mutiny of his army, he was 
taken prisoner and murdered by the son of his brother Mo- 
hammed, whom he had deprived of sight. In the succeed- 
ing reign of Madood, the whole of their Persian dominions 
were wrested from the house of Ghizni by the same in- 
vaders. 

The Turkomans, who had emigrated or been driven from 
the steppes of Kipchauk to the plains of Bokhara, gave 
existence to a dynasty as powerful as any that had yet sat 
on the throne of Persia. Settled in Khorasan, their num- 
bers increased so much in the reign of Mahmoud as to create 
in the mind of that monarch many alarming anticipations. 
" How many of your tribe might I rely on to assist me in 
case of need]" demanded he one day of their ambassador, 
Israel, the son of Seljuk, as he stood in the presence armed 
with bow and quiver, according to the custom of his people. 
" Send this arrow to my tribe," answered Israel, laying one 
shaft at the king's feet, " and 50,000 horse will attend the 
summons." — " Is that all your force]" inquired the sultan. 
" Send this," replied the chief, presenting another, " and 
a like number will follow." — " But were I in extreme dis- 
tress," continued Mahmoud, " and required your utmost 
exertions'?" — "Then send my bow," said Israel, "and 200,000 
horse will obey the signal." The proud conqueror trembled, 
and foresaw the future overthrow of his empire. 

In the year 1042, Togrul Beg, chief of the tribe of Seljuk, 
having made himself master of Khorasan, assumed the state 
of a sovereign at Nishapour ; and in less than twenty years 
all Persia was overrun. Bagdad was taken, and the com- 
mander of the Faithful fell into the hands of the leader of 
this horde. Impressed, however, with a suitable awe for the 
sacred presence of the caliph, Togrul approached him rever- 
ently ; and being received with the honour extorted by fear, 
was constituted the temporal lieutenant of the Eastern and 
Western divisions of the empire. The alliance was more- 
over cemented by a treaty for a double matrimonial union. 

Alp Arslan, his son and heir, was a king whom chivalry 
O 



158 FRO H THE FALL OF THE SASSAXIDES TO* 

would have owned as a worthy son. Just, generous, and 
brave, his faults were only those of his age and his religion, 
■ — his virtues were his own. " The name of Alp Arslan, the 
valiant lion," observes Gibbon, "is expressive of the popular 
idea of the perfection of man ; and the successor of Togrul 
displayed the fierceness and generosity of the royal animal." 
His behaviour to Romanus Diogenes, who invaded his do- 
minions and insolently threatened him with extermination, 
displayed a magnanimity which might serve as a lesson to 
more civilized ages. Raising the discomfited emperor from 
the ground, he clasped his hand in token that his honour and 
life should be inviolate, and reprobated the baseness of those 
who had deserted so brave a leader in the hour of danger. 
After entertaining him royally for eight days, in a conference 
which followed, he asked his captive, what his conduct would 
have been had the fortune of the day been otherwise, and 
their situations reversed ! " I would have given thee many 
a stripe !'' answered Romanus. The Persian monarch smiled, 
" And what treatment canst thou then expect from me!" de- 
manded he. '"If thou art a butcher," rejoined Romanus, 
"thou wilt put me to death; if vainglorious, thou mayest 
drag me at thy chariot-wheels as a slave ; if generous and 
prudent, grant me my liberty and accept a ransom." A ran- 
som was agreed upon ; but the throne of Romanus having 
been usurped, he was unable to fulfil his engagement. He 
sent, however, during his absence, what money he could 
command ; and the Eastern prince was actually preparing 
an expedition to reinstate him, when he heard of his murder. 

The death of Alp Arslan was as characteristic as his life, 
Yussuif, a rebellious chieftain of Kharism, had provoked him 
by obstinately defending a petty fortress ; and, being brought 
to his presence, still farther exasperated him by certain bold 
speeches. The monarch reproached him bitterly, and ordered 
him to be cruelly put to death. With the strength of in- 
dignation and despair YussurT shook off his guards, and 
drawing his dagger darted towards the throne. The soldiers 
rushedforward ; but their master, an unerring archer, seized 
his bow, and commanded them to keep aloof The royal 
arrow for the first time missed its mark ; and before another 
could be drawn the knife of the rebel was plunged in his an- 
tagonist's breast. "Alas!" said Arslan, as he was borne 
into another tent to die, u I now learn from experience the 



THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEAN DYNASTY. 159 



truth of those lessons I once received from a reverend sage. 
He told me never to despise the meanest foe ; to be humble 
in the sight of God ; and, especially, never to presume on 
my own personal skill, prowess, or abilities. I have neglected 
! his counsel, and behold the consequence ! Yesterday, as I 
viewed my army from a height, I thought within myself, can 
any thing withstand my power 1 To-day, confiding in my 
own address, I receive my death from the hand of the enemy 
I despised. Alas ! what is the force of man or the power of 
kings when opposed to the decree of destiny !" This great 
and noble-minded monareh was buried at Meru in Khorasan.* 
His son, the celebrated Malek Shah, ascended the throne, 
and it is rarely that two such monarchs follow each other in 
an Asiatic dynasty. The warrior is seldom succeeded by 
the wise and virtuous statesman ; and still more rarely is 
either blest with such a minister as Nizam ul Mulk, \vho 
directed the councils of both these sovereigns. As a con- 
queror Malek ranks high ; he reduced Syria,, Egypt, and 
Georgia, or. the west ; Bokhara, Samarcand, and Karism, on 
the east. The Prince of Cashgar struck money in his name ; 
the wild tribes beyond the Jaxartes paid him tribute ; and, 
from the shores of the Mediterranean to the wall of China, 
prince, potentate, and khan did him homage. The prayers 
of multitudes ascended with the breath of morning from the 
mosques of Jerusalem, of Mecca, of Medina, of Bagdad, 
Ispahan, Bokhara, Samarcand, Ourgunge, Rhe, and Cash- 
gar, to invoke blessings on his head. When he crossed the 
Oxus into Mavar al Nahar, the boatmen who transported the 
troops complained that they had received an order for pay- 
ment on the revenues of Antioch. " The sultan," says Gib- 
bon, " frowned at this preposterous choice ; but he smiled at 
the artful flattery of his minister : ' It was not to postpone 
their reward that I selected these remote places, — but to 
leave a testimonial to posterity that, under your reign, 
Antioch and the Oxus were subject to the same sovereign.'" 
The dissatisfaction of the ferrymen ceased when they found 
the order on Syria negotiable without loss in the camp of the 
monarch in Transoxiana. 

The preservation of tranquillity throughout these wide 
realms, and the happiness of his people, were as much the 

* See Family Library, No, XL VII. Historical and Descriptive Account 
#f British India. 



1G0 FROM THE FALL OF THE SASSANIDES TO 



object of Malek's ambition as extension of dominion ; and 
twelve times he passed through his vast territories with this 
beneficent intention. Passionately fond of the chase, his 
hunting-train consisted of 47,000 horsemen ; but he scrupu- 
lously forbade acts of oppression ; and a piece of gold, given 
to the poor for each head of game, might be intended as a 
compensation for the mischief occasioned by the royal 
amusements. Nor was his greatness of mind less conspicu- 
ous. " From the long annafs of civil war," says Gibbon, 11 it 
would not be easy to extract a sentiment more pure and 
magnanimous, than is contained in a saying of the Turkish 
prince. On the eve of a battle (with his brother Tourtouch 
for the throne) he performed his devotions at the tomb of 
Imam Reza : as the Sultan rose from the ground, he asked 
his vizier, who had knelt beside him, what had been the 
object of his secret petition I ' That your arms may be 
crowned with victory,' was the prudent, and probably the 
sincere reply of the minister. 1 And I,' said the generous 
Malek, 1 implored the Lord of Hosts, that he would take 
from me my life and crown, if my brother be more worthy 
than myself to reign over the Moslems.' " 

But the best of mortals is not free from imperfection, and 
there is a stain on the memory of this mighty king, which all 
his glory cannot efface. He listened to the enemies of the 
virtuous Nizam ul Mulk. Certain expressions of irritation, 
called forth by an umerited insult, were exaggerated to his 
majesty, who, already prejudiced against his faithful servant, 
sent to demand the instant resignation of his cap and inkhorn 
of office. " Take them," replied the indignant minister to 
the royal messenger ; " but the king will soon discover that 
my cap and inkhorn are by divine decree connected with his 
crown and throne. When the sea was troubled Malek Shah 
honoured me with his confidence : he does well now to with- 
draw it from me, when he enjoys a tranquillity that was 
purchased by my exertions in his service." The sultan 
thought more of these few hasty words than of his zeal and 
faithfulness. The vizier's disgrace was confirmed ; and he 
did not long survive ; for following the royal camp towards 
Bagdad, he was stabbed by an assassin hired by his suc- 
cessor. 

Malek Shah soon followed to the grave his ill-requited 
minister. During a negotiation with the Caliph Moktadi, for 



THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEAN DYNASTY. 161 



the removal of that prince and his court from Bagdad, which 
the sultan wished to make his own capital, he was seized 
with an illness, and died in the thirty-eighth year of his age, 
leaving a name second to none in Oriental history for mag- 
nificence and integrity. Persia flourished during his reign : 
agriculture was promoted ; canals and watercourses were 
constructed; mosques, colleges, and caravansaries were 
•built ; learned men were liberally encouraged ; and the Jel- 
lalean era, calculated by an assembly of sage astronomers, 
remains a splendid proof of the attention which he paid to 
science. 

A period of nearly thirty years spent in war between the 
sons of Malek was at length terminated by the elevation of 
Sanjar, third of the four brothers, to the throne. From the 
death of his father this prince had established an independent 
kingdom in Khorasan and Mavar a] Nahar, whence he over- 
ran the territories of Ghizni, and by degrees extended his 
power over the greater part of the Persian empire ; but at 
length, in an expedition against the Turkomans of Guz, he 
was taken p -isoner, and detained four years in close captivity. 
During this time his dominions were ably governed by his 
sultana Toorkan Khatoon, after whose death he made his 
escape. But the desolate condition of that extensive portion 
of his empire which had been ravaged by the barbarous tribe 
•of Guz, smote the aged monarch with a melancholy from 
which he never recovered, and he died in 1175, at the age 
of seventy-three, leaving a high reputation for humanity, 
justice, valour, and magnanimity. 

Sanjar was the last prince of the house of Seljuk who 
enjoyed any large share of prosperity. Togrul III., with 
whose reign terminated the Persian branch, was slain by 
the monarch of Kharism, as he rushed intoxicated into the 
field of battle. But the tribe itself spread over all Asia 
Minor, Syria, and Egypt ; and the dynasties of Iconium 
and of Aleppo are well known in the history of Western Asia. 

For more than a century, — that is from the decline of 
the Seljukian dynasty until the conquest of Persia by Hoo- 
laku Khan, the grandson of Zingis, — the greater part of that 
country was distracted by the contest of a class of petty 
princes calling themselves Attabegs,* who arose from the 

* Attabeg a Turkish designation, compounded of the words Atta, 
master or tutor, and Beg, lord ; i. e. governor of a lord or prince. 

O 2 



162 FROM THE FALL OF THE SASSANIDES TO 



decay of the falling empire, and usurped its fairest provinces. 
The events of such a period could convey neither instruction 
nor amusement ; though there is one family belonging to 
this era which claims some attention. 

Hussun Subah, well known in after times in the East as 
Shiek ul Gebel, and by Europeans as the Old Man of the 
Mountain, or King of the Assassins, was the son of an Arab 
of the race of Subah the Homerite, and college-companion 
of the celebrated Nizam ul Mulk, and of the poet Omar 
Keyomee, at Nishapour. Gloomy and reserved bv nature, 
his studies assumed their complexion from his mind, and 
he became a morose and moody visionary. A prediction, the 
offspring doubtless of his mystical pursuits, implying that an 
exalted destiny awaited certain students in their seminary, 
gave rise to a mutual agreement, that whosoever of the 
three friends first attained to power should assist the for- 
tunes of the two who were less successful. The sun of 
prosperity smiled soonest on Nizam ul Mulk, and Omar 
Keyoomee was not long in preferring his claim to the benefit 
of their compact. " In what can I best assist thee V de- 
manded the minister, as he warmly greeted his friend. 
u Place me," said Omar, enamoured of poetry and ease, 
" where my life may pass without care or annoyance, and 
where wine in abundance may inspire my muse." A pen- 
sion was accordingly assigned to him on the fertile district 
of Nishapour, where Omar lived and died. His tomb still 
exists ; and the writer of these pages heard the story told 
over the grave by a brother rhymster, and a most congenial 
spirit. 

Hussun was much more ambitious. After years of travel 
he also repaired to court, and reminded the vizier of their 
agreement. But the establishment to which Nizam ul Mulk 
appointed him was spurned by the ungrateful Arab, who, 
failing in an attempt to undermine his benefactor in the 
favour of Alp Arslan, retired, in a transport of shame and 
fury, the implacable foe of the man who had endeavoured to 
serve him. Concealed in the house of a respectable land- 
holder at Rhe. where his sanguine spirit often vented itself in 
threats of visionarv projects, an unguarded boast, u that 
with the aid of two devoted friends he would overthrow the 
power of that Toork (Malek Shah), so alarmed his simple 
host, that he believed the head of his guest to be turned, 



THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEAN DYNASTY. 163 



and attempted secretly to regulate his diet, and to induce 
him to take physic suited to persons labouring under mental 
derangement. ( Hussun smiled at the mistake : and many 
years after, when his power was established at Roodbar, he 
spirited away the good old rais to his castle of Allah arnowt, 
and having treated him with all kindness and courtesy, ad- 
dressed him in such terms as these, — " Well, my good friend, 
do you still deem me insane 1 Have you brought any more 
medicine for me 1 — or do you now comprehend the power of 
a few determined and united menl" i 

We shall not follow this singular zealot through the va- 
rious steps of that career in which, after becoming a convert 
to the doctrines of the Ismaelians,* he employed all his 
-energy in working on the enthusiasm of others, and attach- 
ing to himself a band of devoted adherents, in order to se- 
cure the power he coveted. Shut out by his saturnine dis- 
position, his profligate and dangerous character, and his pe- 
culiar opinions, from all ordinary paths to distinction, he 
assuaged his thirst of dominion, as well as his hatred of the 
species, by enthralling the souls of men, and establishing a 
moral despotism more absolute and terrible than that of the 
mightiest monarchs of his time. Superstition, or a blind 
devoted faith, was the instrument with which he wrought ; 
and such was the influence he acquired, that the greatest 
princes trembled at his name. 

The united voice of Asia called on Sultan Sanjar to root 
out this detestable sect from his empire : but a warning note, 
pinned by a dagger to his pillow, struck a degree of terror 
into the heart of that undaunted warrior, which no danger 
in the field could have inspired, and he desisted from the 
enterprise. Caliphs, princes, and nobles fell victims to the 
secret arms of the Ismaelians ; , the imams and mollahs who 
preached against such murderous deeds and doctrines were 
poniarded, pensioned, or silenced ; and for some years the 
followers of the Sheik ul Gebel increased in number and in 
insolence. But the power of these banded ruffians, deriving 

•* The Ismaelians derive their appellation from advocating the preten, 
sions of Ismael, son of Jaffier, sixth imam, to the pontificate, instead ot 
his younger brother Kauzim. They also profess certain doctrines ab. 
horrent to orthodox Islamism, and are in fact the remains of the ancient 
Karmathians who disturbed the faith in the reign of Haroun al Raschid, 
and who have been known under various other mystical designations. 



164 FROM THE FALL OF THE SASSANIDES TO 



its very essence from the mind that created it, could not 
long survive its founder. The system, it is true, maintained 
itself for some time after the death of Hussun, and of his 
son Keah Buzoorg Omeid, who was also a chief of great 
energy. But it was rather by the impulse it had received 
from their leaders than its own inherent strength ; and, in 
1256, the iniquitous fabric crumbled finally into ruins before 
the breath of Hoolaku, after having endured for more than 
one hundred and seventy years, a disgrace and a terror to 
Asia. 

The condition of Persia, after the extinction of the Selju- 
cides, was such as could not long concinue. It was one of 
those junctures which invariably call forth some giant spirit 
to "ride on the whirlwind and direct the storm;" though 
scarcely could human foresight anticipate the nature of the 
tempest which came, not to clear the political atmosphere, 
but to desolate the land. 

It falls not within our province to describe the progress 
of that dreadful power which, wielded by the ruthless Zmgis, 
burst like a thunder cloud over Asia, deluging it with blood, 
and covering it with ruins ; nor tell how the son of a petty 
khan, after struggling for more than thirty years with in- 
credible difficulties, became the chief of many tribes, — the 
leader of almost countless armies, — the destroyer of mil- 
lions of his fellow-creatures, and conqueror of more than 
half the world. Never did the Almighty in his wrath 
send forth so fearful a scourge— never was human life so 
lavishly expended ! His progress was as rapid as that of 
the destroying angel ; but it was not until the latter years 
that the rash defiance of Mohammed, sultan of Kharism, 
turned the tide of destruction westward. Ic was then that 
700,000 Mogul soldiers swept over the rich valley of the 
Sogd, taking, burning, and razing, in their course, the cities 
of Bokhara, Samarcand, Khojend, Otrar, Ourgunge, Meru, 
Balkh, and many others, — that Khorasan was ravaged, its 
towns pillaged, and its people barbarously massacred, — that 
Kishapour was levelled with the earth, paying the forfeit of 
unseasonable loyalty with the blood of the whole inhabitants,* 

* So complete we are told, was the destruction of the city, that a horse 
could gallop over its site without stumbling; and the aggregate of 
slaughter, including the people of the neighbouring districts who took 
Mfrge within its \valls, and most of whom were killed in cold blood. 



THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEAN DYNASTY. 165 



. — that the provinces of Persia, from the Caspian to the 
Southern Gulf, from the Tedjen to the Tigris, were overrun 
and plundered, and that such places as failed at the first 
summons to open their gates underwent the severest punish- 
ment. 

Before his career was arrested by death, Zingis, satiated 
with blood, and at length awake to the insanity of his ex- 
terminating system, wished to repair the ruin he had caused ; 
but it was too late, and he bequeathed to his children his 
desolated dominions. To the share of Hoolaku it fell to 
complete the subjugation of Persia ; and with an army of 
]20,000 horsemen, and 1000 families of Chinese artificers 
and engineers, the grandson of the Mogul chief marched 
from the conquest of Allahamowt towards Constantinople. 
But the persuasions of Nazir u Dien, the celebrated astrono- 
mer, diverted the storm to the City of the Faithful, the 
splendid abode of the family of Abbas. The last remaining 
phantom of that once powerful dynasty was swept away by 
the torrent ; the ruins of Bagdad were deluged with the 
blood of its citizens ; and the empire of the caliphs passed 
into the hands of a barbarian. 

But Hoolaku was not in all respects a barbarian. Con- 
quest and vengeance claimed their day and their victims ; 
but he could sheathe the sword, and contemplate the enjoy- 
ments of literature and science. In his residence on the 
fair plains of Maragha, he solaced his hours of repose with 
the converse of philosophers and sages. The learned Nazir 
u Dien, released by him from the prisons of the Ismaelians, 
was supplied with the means of constructing an observatory, 
from which, under his auspices, came forth the well-known 
astronomical work known by the name of the Eelkhanee 
Tables.* 

Abaka Khan, the son of Hoolaku, was distinguished for 

amounted, it is asserted, to the number of 1,747,000. In this the native 
authors, followed by Petit la Croix, as well as the Habeeb al Sever, 
agree; and another work declares that it took twelve days to count the 
bodies. But. a nearly equal number of slain is by the same writers 
assigned to the sacks of Meru, Herat, and Bagdad, forming atotalfar 
beyond all credibility. 

* Eelkhanee, or chief of the tribes, was the modest title assumed by 
the grandson of Zingis. The tables of Nazir u Dien, and Ulugh Beg 
are still highly esteemed, and are referred to for the latitude and longi- 
tude of many places not yet fixed by European observation. 



166 FROM THE FALL OF THE SAS3ANIDES TO 



wisdom and clemency ; but, as if the Divine decree had 
gone forth against the lasting prosperity of despotic dynasties, 
we look in vain for events of splendour or of interest in the 
subsequent reigns. A gleam of reviving glory did indeed 
illumine that of Ghazan ; and his Institutes, which were 
compiled from many sources, are still celebrated in the East. 
His son Mohammed Khodabundeh is principally famous for 
being the first Persian monarch who proclaimed himself of 
the sect of Ali, and for building the city of Sultanieh, where 
his tomb still forms a conspicuous object. From his death 
until the conquests of Timur, the history of the country 
affords nothing beyond the ordinary detail of civil broils, 
crimes, murders, and disturbances, which are ever the pre- 
lude to some great revolution. 

The vast regions of Scythia have often been termed the 
birth-place of heroes, — the teeming laboratory whence na- 
tions ready formed ever and anon issue to supplant the 
enfeebled inhabitants of more genial climes. Timur or Ta- 
merlane claimed ancestry in the same stock as Zingis, but 
derived his immediate descent from Karachar Nevian, the 
counsellor of Zagatai Khan, son of that conqueror. Brave 
and energetic from his earliest youth, he assumed that share 
in the struggles of the times to which he was called by his 
birth as hereditary prince of Kesh, and by his rank as com- 
mander of 10,000 horse, bestowed on him by the khakhan 
or emperor. But it was not till the age of twenty-five, and 
when the successors of Tuglick Timur, monarch of Cashgar 
and Jitteh, or Turkistan, in Mavar al Nahar, had forced all 
the petty princes to flight or to submission, that the spirit 
of the future conqueror was called fully into action. From 
that period his life became a continued scene of enterprise, 
danger, distress, or triumph, until the invader was repelled ; 
and at the age of thirty-four the deliverer of his country was 
hailed as supreme ruler, in a general corultai, or diet of the 
whole Zagataian empire. 

With his own hands he placed on his head the crown of 
gold, and girt on the imperial cincture ; yet, while the princes 
and nobles showered upon him gold and jewels, and hailed 
him as Lord of the Age and Conqueror of the World, Timur, 
with a modesty, the offspring of prudence as much as of 
humility, declined these titles, contenting himself with the 
simple appellation of Ameer, noble or chief, by which to this 



THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEAN DYNASTY. 167 



day he is generally recognised in the East. His patience 
and perseverance during the struggle were not less conspic- 
uous than his courage and sagacity in managing the dis- 
cordant materials of his power, and in seizing every oppor- 
tunity for increasing it. " I once," says Timur himself in 
his Institutes, " was forced to take shelter from my enemies 
in a ruined building, where I sat alone for many hours. To 
divert my mind from my hopeless condition, I fixed my con- 
servation upon an ant that was carrying a grain of corn 
larger than itself up a high wall. I numbered the efforts it 
made to accomplish this object ; the grain fell sixty-nine times 
to the ground, but the insect persevered, and the seventieth 
time it reached the top of the wall. The sight gave me 
courage at the moment, and I never forgot the lesson it con- 
veyed."* 

The devoted attachment of his followers and kinsmen, and 
the patriarchal manners of a Tartar tribe, are well portrayed 
by himself in the work above quoted. He was encamped 
in the vicinity of Balkh with a very small force, and after 

| keeping watch during the whole of a night dedicated tc* 
meditation and prayer, was, towards morning, engaged in 
earnest supplication, — " imploring Almighty God," says he, 
" that he would deliver me from that wandering life. . . . 
And I had not yet rested from my devotions, when a num- 
ber of people appeared afar off; and they were passing along 
in a line with the hill : and I mounted my horse and came 

i behind them, that I might know their condition, and what 

I men they were. And they were in all seventy horsemen ; 

| and I asked of them, saying, 'Warriors, who are yeV and 
they answered me, ' We are the servants of the Ameer 
Timur, and we wander in search of him, and, lo ! we find 
him not.' And I said unto them, ' How say ye if I be your 
guide, and conduct ye unto him]' And one of them put his 
horse to speed, and went and carried the news to the leaders, 
saying, 1 We have found a guide who can lead us to the 
Ameer Timur.' And the leaders drew back the reins of 
their horses, and gave orders that I should appear before 
them. And they were three troops; and the leader of the 
first was Tuglick Kojeh Berlaus, and the leader of the second 

* A similar incident inspired Robert Brace, the restorer of the Scottish 
| n»onarchy, with courage to persevere in his patriotic undertaking. 



168 FROM THE FALL OF THE SASSANIDES TO 



was Ameer Syf u Dien, and the leader of the third was Tou- 
buck Bahauder. And when their eyes fell upon me, they 
were overwhelmed with joy ; and they alighted from their 
horses, and they came and kneeled ; and they kissed my 
stirrup. I also alighted from my horse and took each of 
them in my arms ; and I put my turban on the head of Tug- 
Jick Kojeh ; and my girdle, which was very rich in jewels, 
and wrought with gold, I bound on the loms of Ameer Syf 
u Dien ; and I clothed Toubuck Bahauder in my cloak. And 
they wept, and I wept also. And the hour of prayer was arrived, 
and we prayed together ; and I collected my people together 
and made a feast." 

With qualities so ingratiating, and the high mental supe- 
riority which Timur possessed over the rude soldiers of 
Turkistan, his success was certain. Unchecked by human 
sympathies or feelings, while his ambition increased with the 
power of gratification, he led his myriads with appalling 
rapidity over country after country, trampling monarchs and 
their armies into dust, — razing cities, and converting fertile 
plains into smoking deserts. From the banks of the Irtisch 
to the gates of Moscow, Tartary was subdued. Scaling the 
Hindoo-Coosh, " those stony girdles of the earth," his fierce 
Moguls stooped as an eagle on the rich fields of Hindostan, 
deluged them with blood, burnt the temples, exterminated 
the idolaters, and compelled conversion. Having approached 
with the fury of the advancing wave, he retreated with the 
celerity of the retiring tide, leaving rum and disaster behind. 

The conquest of Persia and Armenia, of Syria, Asia- 
Minor, Georgia, and the Caucasus, was more arduous. The 
warlike Bajazet sat on the Ottoman throne, and was master 
of vast resources. Yet the vigorous hostilities of a few 
years effected this gigantic enterprise ; and the bloody field 
of Angora saw Timur without a rival in the Eastern ^'orld, 
and his antagonist a captive. 

Persia, divided into petty states r was in no condition to 
resist the invader. Gheas u Dien, prince of Khorasan, after 
standing a siege in Herat, was forced to submit. Nishapour 
and Subzawar opened their gates and weie spared. Nissa, 
A-biverd, and Dereguz, were ravaged in the ensuing spring ; 
and the strong fortress of Kelaat surrendered at discretion. 
The ruler of Mazunderan next tendered his homage, and 
Khorasan and Seistan were awed into obedience. On the 



THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEAN DYNASTY. 169 



first opportunity the people broke out into insurrection, pro- 
voking punishment by acts of unavailing treachery ; and 
Timur visited them with signal chastisement. Swarms of 
Toorkee soldiers were let loose upon the country ; heaps 
of carcasses and pyramids of heads were raised ; and the 
king and nobles were sent captives to Samarcand. A re- 
bellious chieftain was hunted through Mekran ; Candahar 
and Kelaat were taken by assault ; and the Afghans of the 
Solyman-Koh, who, after submitting, had thrown off their 
allegiance, were extirpated or carried into slavery. Rhe 
was plundered ; Seltanieh yielded to an impost ; Saree and 
Amol were saved by opportune obedience. Irak was sub- 
dued and its strongholds destroyed. Azerbijan then became 
the theatre of pillage and bloodshed ; and even the flatter- 
ing historian of the house of Timur declares, that the carnage 
that depopulated Nakshivan and the fair valley of the Araxes 
was horrible. 

The capture of Bagdad, as related by the same author,* 
affords a characteristic picture of the indomitable resolution 
of Timur, and the resistless intrepidity of his troops. On 
the approach of the Tartars, a carrier-pigeon was despatched 
from Kubbeh Ibramlic, a place of pilgrimage, about twenty- 
seven leagues north-west of the capital, with a note to warn 
the sultan of his danger ; and Ahmed Eelkhanee removed 
his family and effects to the south side of the Tigris, break- 
ing down the bridge and sinking the boats. The invader, 
on discovering this circumstance, compelled the chief person 
of the place to send another pigeon, with a notification in 
the same handwriting, that the alarm was a false one ; and 
this stratagem relaxed the sultan's vigilance, though it did 
not throw him entirely off his guard. A march of the in- 
credible length of nearly eighty miles, without a halt, brought 
Timur and his army to the banks of the Tigris, on the morn- 
ing of the 5th September, 1393 ; and the emperor, who, on 
horseback on the opposite side, anxiously watched the eastern 
horizon, heard the mingled din of the horns, kettledrums, 
and trumpets, and saw the countless multitudes blackening 
the plain as squadron followed squadron with fearful rapidity. 
Without once stopping they moved onward, plunging into 

* See Petit la Croix's translation of Shereef u Dien Ali, and Price's 
Makommedanism, vol. ill. p. 153, et seq. 

P 



170 FROM THE FALL OF THE SASSANIDES TO 



the rapid stream as into a familiar element. Above as well 
as below the city, and through every avenue, they rushed^ 
till no difference could be discerned between the water and 
the dry land, both were so completely covered with the armed 
throng. The inhabitants stood gazing with astonishment, 
M biting their fingers," asking each other what manner of men 
these might be, and acknowledging in the success of such 
boldness the evidence of Divine protection. The sulta 
instantly fled, and was followed by a large party of Toorks 
headed by their bravest officers. All day and night the- 
chase continued, and next morning found the pursuers on 
the bank of the Euphrates, which they crossed, partly by the 
assistance of boats, partly by swimming. But the strength 
of the horses was not equal to the zeal of the riders. All 
had sunk under fatigue, except forty-five of the best mounted 
ameers and generals, when they overtook the retreating 
party, 2000 strong, on the celebrated plain of Kerbelah, 
Two hundred of the sultan's force turned and spurred against 
the jaded Tartars, who, dismounting, repulsed their oppo- 
nents with flights of arrows. This manoeuvre was frequently 
repeated ; till at length the pursuers being nearly exhausted, 
the fugitives suddenly brought the combat to issue hand to 
hand. Many were killed, but the assailants were driven 
back ; and the sultan, followed by his escort, escaped, leaving 
the bloody and hard-fought field to the wearied Tartars. 

We shall dwell no longer on the exploits of Tamerlane, 
who, at his death, in 1405, bequeathed the Zagataian empire 
to his grandson Peer Mohammed.* That prince's claim was 
disputed by his cousin Khuleel Sultan ;f and the contest was 
terminated" by the murder of the former. The latter fell the 
victim of his infatuated attachment to the beautiful Shad ul 
Mulk ;t and the virtuous Shah Mirza, youngest son of Timur, 
who in the lifetime of his father had governed Khorasan r was 
at length hailed as sovereign. Inheriting no passion for con- 
quest, this monarch sought but to heal the wounds inflicted 
in the former reign. He rebuilt Herat and Meru ; and his 

* Son of Jehanjire Mirza, eldest son of Timur. 

t Son of Meran Shah Mirza, third son of Timor. 

i A. female of worse than doubtful character, for whom Khule^ 
squandered the immense treasures amassed by his grandfather. Sha 
was at least faithful to him, — for when he died, she struck a poniard H 
her heart, and the lovers were buried in one tomb at Rhe. See De 
Guignes, and Malcolm's History, 



THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEAN DYNASTY. 171 



splendid court became the resort of the philosopher, the man 
©f science, and the poet. His only wars of importance were 
with the rebellious Turkomans of Asia Minor, whom he com- 
pletely subjected. 

Ulugh Beg, the son of Shah Rokh, a prince devoted to 
scientific pursuits, was called to the throne at the death of 
his father ; but his reign is chiefly remarkable for the assem- 
bly of astronomers convoked by him, whose labours produced 
that set of tables which bear his name, and are still highly 
valued. He was deposed and put to death in 1449, by his 
son Abdul Lateef, who in his turn was slain within six 
months by his soldiers. 

Persia was once more the prey of that confusion which 
always attends the decay of a dynasty ; and the kingdom at 
length fell into the hands of three separate sovereigns. Of 
these, Sultan Hussein Mirza, a descendant of Timur., kept a 
splendid court at Herat, and governed Khorasan.* Kara 
YussufT, the Turkoman chief of the Black Sheep, acquired 
possession of Azerbijan, Irak, Fars, and Kerman ; but Uzun 
Hussun, chief of the Turkomans of the White Sheep, who 
fixed himself in Armenia, Mesopotamia, and part of Asia 
Minor, subsequently drove him out, and, having acquired all 
Western Persia, attacked the Turkish emperor Mohammed 
II. This rash attempt was checked by a severe defeat, 
which terminated his schemes of ambition. His sons, 
grandsons, and nephews contended for his territories, but 
their ephemeral existence was cut short by the rise of a new 
and more vigorous power ; when Persia, so long wasted by 
foreign oppression and internal disorder, saw at length some 
prospect of repose under the powerful sceptre of a native 
prince. 

* He was in fact nominal ruler of the empire of Timur, and for some 
lime successfully resisted the incursions of the Uzbecks, who, in their 
turn, under Shahibanee Khan, drove out his sons and overturned the 
Mogul power. Much regarding this prince may be learned from that 
excellent work, the " Memoirs of Baber," translated by Dr. Leyden and 
Mr. Erskine, 



172 FROM THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEANS 



CHAPTER VII. 

From the Rise of the Suffavea?is to the Present Time. 

Sheik Suffee u Dien— Sudder u Dien— Origin of the Kuzzilbash Tribes- 
Sultan Hyder — Shah Ismael— Shah Tamasp — First accredited Envoy 
from England— Shah Abbas the Great— Anecdote— The Shirleys— 
Sir Dodmore Cotton— Character of Abbas— Shah Suffee— Abbas II.— 
Shah Solyman — Shah Hussein— Rebellion of Meer Vais— Invasion of 
Persia by Mahmoud Ghiljee— Siege, Famine, and Fall of Ispahan- 
Abdication of Hussein— Atrocities committed by the Afghans— Death 
of Mahmoud— Succeeded by Ashruff— Rise of Nadir Kouli— He is 
crowned at Mogan— Conquest of India— Subsequent Crimes and Fate 
—Troubles after his Death — Kureem Khan — Struggles between the 
Zund and Kujur Tribes for the Throne— Terminate in Favour of Aga 
Mohammed Khan Kujur— His Character and Fate— Accession of 
Futeh Alt Shah - Principal Brents of his Reign— War and Treaty of 
Peace in 1S'2S with Russia— Murder of Mr. Grebayadoff— Expedition 
of the Prince Royal into Khorasan— Probable Downfall of the Kujur 
Dynasty, 

In the town of Ardebil lived Sheik Suffee u Dien, a holy- 
person, who drew his lineage from Moossa Kauzim, the 
seventh Imam. His mantle descended with increased sanc- 
tity to his son Sudder u Dien, whom sovereigns visited in 
his cell ; even the great Tamerlane condescending to repair 
thither to be refreshed by his blessing. " Is there aught that 
Timur can do for thy comfort or satisfaction I" demanded the 
conqueror. M Give up to me those Turks whom thou hast 
carried off as captives." was the disinterested reply ; and the 
jrequest being granted, the saint clothed and dismissed them 
with presents. The tribes to which they belonged declared 
themselves the disciples and champions of their benefactor. 7 * 
"Their children." Bays Sir John Malcolm, " preserved sacred 
the obligation of their fathers ; and the descendants of the 
captives of Timur became the supporters of the family of 
Suffee, and enabled the son of a devotee to ascend one of 
the most splendid thrones in the world." 

* The Zeenut al Tuareekk relates this fact. The names of the seven 
tribes, who afterward were distinguished by a particular headdress, and 
termed Kuzzilbashes, were the Oostajaloo. the Shamloo, the Nikalloo, 
the liaharloo, the Zoolkuddur, the Kujur, and the Affshar. 



TO THE PRESENT TIME. 



173 



Sultan Hyder,* fifth in descent from Sheik SufTee, in 
whose blood mingled that of the powerful chief of the White 
Sheep, Uzun Hussun, was the first of the race who obtained 
temporal power ; but he fell in an enterprise against Shir- 
wan, and his tomb at Ardebil is still a place of pilgrimage. 
Yakoob, a descendant of Uzun, slew Ali, the successor of 
Hyder ; but in 1499, a few years after the death of Yakoob, 
we find Ismael, third son of Hyder by a daughter of the said 
Hussun, heading his adherents at the age of fourteen, and 
defeating the hereditary enemy of his family, the ruler of 
Shirwan. A like good fortune attended his arms in two 
encounters with princes of the White Sheep, and made him 
master of Azerbijan. In the succeeding campaign he got 
possession of Irak ; and in four years after taking the field 
all Persia had submitted to his sway. 

Ismael, not being born the chief of a tribe, had no hered- 
itary quarrels to avenge, and, instead of being an object of 
hostility to any, was rather regarded with reverence and 
devotion by all. Professing the doctrines of the Sheahs, — 
which, being the least powerful of the two great Moham- 
medan sects, was therefore the most zealous and united, — 
he availed himself of the enthusiasm of his followers ; and, 
secure in th« devotion of the seven Kuzzilbash tribes, who 
had consecrated their swords to the defence of their king 
and religion, the descendant of Sheik Suffee proceeded fear- 
lessly in his career of victory. 

For fifteen years fortune smiled on his arms. Bagdad and 
its dependencies were subdued ; the Uzbecks were driven 
from Khorasan ; their prince, the brave Shahibanee Khan,f 

* Sultan and shah were common titles, assumed by religious ascetics, 
probably in allusion to the celestial kingdom they are supposed to enjoy. 

t An incident highly characteristic of the country and times occurred 
on the death of this monarch. The prince of Mazun derail, who still held 
out against Shah Ismael, and who had often declared, in the idiomatic 
language of his country, that " his hand was on the skirt of Shahibanee 
Khan's robe" (that is, he depended on him for protection), was one day 
sitting in court surrounded by his nobles, when a stranger entering, 
addressed him thus : — " Prince, thou hast often declared that thy hand 
was on the skirt of Shahibanee Khan ; thou mayst now boast that his is 
upon thine." With these words, drawing a human hand from under his 
garment, he threw it upon the skirt of the prince's robe, and, rushing 
through the midst of the astonished attendants, escaped uninjured. It 
was the severed hand of Shahibanee Khan, who had fallen in a decisive 
action near Meru. By the order of his conqueror, his body was dis- 
membered, and the limbs were despatched to different places as ghastfy 



174 FROM THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEANS 

was killed, and Balkh acknowledged his authority. But a 
more formidable enemy was yet to be encountered. Sultan 
Selim, fired with pious zeal, advanced from Constantinople 
to crush the rising power of Persia. The armies met on 
the frontiers of Azerbijan, where, in spite of prodigies of 
valour, Ismael was defeated ; and although his adversary 
reaped no real advantage from his dear-bought victory, the 
disappointment was so severe that he was never again seen 
to smile. 

On Selim's death the son of Hyder crossed the Aras and 
subdued Georgia ; but he soon afterward died at Ardebil, 
leaving a name on which the Persians dwell with enthusiasm, 
as the restorer of their country, the founder of the most 
brilliant of their Mohammedan dynasties, as well as of their 
national faith, — the tenets of the Sheahs. 

Tamasp succeeded his father when only ten years of age ; 
and his reign was long and prosperous, although at first dis- 
turbed by the mutual jealousies of the Kuzzilbash chiefs. 
His territories were invaded by the Uzbecks on the east, and 
the Ottomans on the west ; both of whom were repulsed. 
He hospitably received Humaioon, emperor of India, who 
had been forced to fly by his rebellious nobles ; and the aid 
granted by him enabled the exiled monarch to regain his 
throne. Anthony Jenkinson, one of the earliest of English 
adventurers to Persia, visited the court of Tamasp as an 
envoy from Queen Elizabeth ; but the intolerance of the Mo- 
hammedan sovereign drove the Christian from his presence. 

The family of Shah Tamasp was numerous, and all his 
sons in succession made an effort for the crown ; but their 
short reigns merit little notice. Hyder, Ismael, Mohammed, 
passed away ; Humza Mirza, his son, was assassinated ; 
when at length a new claimant for the throne, supported by 
two powerful Kuzzilbash chiefs, appeared in the person of 
Abbas, youngest brother of the murdered Humza. This 
prince, who when an infant had been appointed governor of 
Khorasan, under tutelage of All Kouli Khan Shamloo, was, 
in 1582, proclaimed king by the discontented nobles of that 
province and forced to appear in arms against his father. 

tokens of victory. The skin of the head, stuffed with hay. was sent to 
the Turkish emperor at Constantinople; and the scull, set in gold, waa 
put to the horrid use of a dnnking-cup, and thus employed by Shall 




TO THE PRESENT TIME. 



175 



In 1585 they led him towards Irak ; Casbin surrendered, 
and Sultan Mohammed, deserted by his army, is not men- 
tioned again in history. Foreign aggressions and internal 
disturbances, however, still prevailed. The Uzbecks on the 
one hand, and the Ottomans on the other, ravaged the coun- 
try, and rival chieftains pursued their own quarrels in then- 
sovereign's name. Abbas did not remain long a pageant in 
the hands of others ; and three busy years saw him in undis- 
puted possession of power. 

In the spring of 1589 the Turks again invaded Persia, 
when, in order to watch their movements, he encamped on 
the banks of the Georgian Kour. While standing one day 
near the river with a few of his generals, some of the 
enemy's officers invited the party to cross and partake of 
their hospitality. Abbas instantly complied, was well enter- 
tained, and gave in return an invitation to his new friends. 
" We shall attend you with pleasure," said one of the Turks, 
"as we expect you will contrive to obtain for us a sight of 
your young monarch, whose fame already surpasses his 
years, and who gives promise of attaining to great glory. " 
The prince smiled, and promised to do his utmost to gratify 
their wishes. The behaviour of the Persians, on regaining 
the opposite side of the stream, soon convinced them that 
their guest was the sovereign whom they desired so much 
to see. Abbas enjoyed their surprise, repaid their hospitality 
sumptuously, and dismissed them loaded with presents. . . 

This reign witnessed the commencement of an amicable 
intercourse between the English and Persian nations, which 
subsisted for many years. Sir Anthony Shirley, a gentle- 
man of family, was induced by the Earl of Essex to proceed 
to the court of Abbas, whither he repaired with his brother 
Sir Robert and twenty-six followers, " gallantly mounted 
and richly furnished," and bearing valuable gifts, as a soldier 
of fortune desirous of entering his service. The king re- 
ceived him with marked distinction, promised every encour- 
agement, and gave him splendid presents. For example, he 
sent forty horses all caparisoned, two of the saddles being 
gilded, and adorned with rubies and turquoises, the rest 
either plated with silver or covered with embroidered velvet ; 
sixteen mules and twelve camels laden with tents and furni- 
ture for his house or for travelling ; and, lastly, one thousand 
tomans in money. The monarch afterward treated the Eng- 



176 



FROM THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEANS 



lishman with an extraordinary degree of familiarity. u Since 
he hath been with me," says one of the royal letters, "we 
have daily eaten out of one dish and drunk of one cup, like 
two brothers." 

Nor was this confidence misplaced. The military skill of 
the Shirleys enabled Abbas to discipline his army, to organ- 
ize an efficient artillery, and thus to overthrow the Ottoman 
power, which till then had been so formidable to Persia. In 
the decisive action, in which 100,000 Turks were dispersed 
by little more than 60,000 warriors on the opposite side, Sir 
Robert attended the king, and received three wounds. On 
the evening of the victory, as the latter sat on the field of 
battle conversing with his chief officers and some of his prin- 
cipal captives, a man of uncommon stature was led past by a 
youth to whom he had surrendered. The shah demanded 
who he was. " I belong to the Kurd family of Mookree," 
was the reply. " Deliver him to Roostum Beg," said the 
monarch, recollecting that a member of his household so 
named and of the same tribe had a feud with the prisoner's 
kindred. But Roostum refused to receive him. " I hope 
your majesty will pardon me," said he ; "my honour, it is 
true, demands his blood ; but I have made a vow never to 
take advantage of an enemy who is bound, and in distress." 
A speech so noble seemed to reflect upon the king, who, in 
the irritation of the moment, ordered the captain of his guard 
to strike of! the prisoner's head. The Kurd, hearing this 
command, burst his bonds, drew his dagger, and sprang to- 
wards Abbas. A struggle ensued, and all the lights being 
extinguished, no one dared to strike lest he should pierce the 
monarch instead of his assailant. There was a moment of 
inexpressible horror, until the royal voice was heard to ex- 
claim twice, " I have seized his hand ! I have seized his 
hand!" Lights were brought— the captive was slain by a 
hundred swords, — and the king, who had wrested the dagger 
from him, reseated himself in the assembly, and continued 
" to drink goblets of pure wine and to receive tbe heads of 
his enemies till twelve o'clock at night."* In consequence 
of this victory, not only were the Turks kept in check during 

* Malcolm's History, from Anthoine de Gowea and the Zubd al Tua- 
reekk ,— the heads thus received, according to the custom of the kings of 
JPersia, are said to have amounted to 20,545 ! 



TO THE PRESENT TIME. 177 



his reign, but the whole of their possessions on the Cas- 
pian, in Azerbijan, Georgia, Kurdistan, Bagdad, Mosul, and 
Diarbekir, were reannexed to the Persian empire ; while on 
the east the incursions of the Uzbecks were completely con- 
trolled, and Khorazan delivered from their ravages. 

The prosperity of the Portuguese settlement at Ormuz had 
excited the envy of Abbas. He conceived that the conquest 
of it would add greatly to his resources ; and aware that he 
could effect nothing without naval co-operation, he applied 
to the English East India Company, who, listening to the 
suggestions of avarice, and jealous of a flourishing rival, 
readily gave their assistance. The place fell, after a brave 
defence ; but both parties were disappointed. The Persian 
monarch found that his vision of wealth shrunk from the 
touch of a despot ; while the British discovered that the 
commerce which they desired to turn into the channel of 
Gombroon could not be allured to the ports of an arbitrary 
government ; and Ormuz, accordingly, once the richest em- 
porium in the East, soon relapsed into its original insignifi- 
cance, affording a striking example both of the beneficial 
effects of a free trade, and of the withering operation of com- 
mercial jealousy. 

Extravagant hopes were entertained in England of the 
advantages of a mercantile intercourse with Persia, and, in 
order to establish it, various negotiations were undertaken or 
both sides ; but they were all thwarted in the end by the in- 
trigues of a suspicious minister and the death of the diplo- 
matists to whom the arrangements were ultimately intrusted. 
The reception by the shah of Sir Dodmore Cotton, ambas- 
sador from James I., was splendid and flattering. He and 
his retinue were admitted into an antechamber, where, in- 
stead of coffee, the usual refreshment, a sumptuous dinner 
was served in gold, with abundance of wine in goblets and 
flagons of the same precious metal. From this apartment 
they were ushered through two others richly ornamented and 
rilled with golden vessels adorned with rich jewels, which 
contained rose-water, flowers, and wine. They then entered 
the hall of audience, round the walls of which the chief offi- 
cers were seated like statues ; for not a muscle moved, and 
all was dead silence. Boys with spangled turbans and em- 
broidered dresses presented wine in gorgeous cups to all who 
desired it. The king wore a dress of red cloth, without any 



178 



FROM THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEANS 



finery, with the exception of a magnificent hilt to his sabre. 
The nobles, too, who sat near him, were plainly attired. 
The reply of the shah with regard to the object of the mis- 
sion was most gracious. He was much amused by Sir Dod- 
more Cotton's inability to comply with the custom of the 
country in sitting cross-legged ; but being desirous of pleas- 
ing his guests, he drank to the health of the King of Eng- 
land. At the name of his sovereign the ambassador stood 
up and took off his hat. Abbas smiled, and likewise raised 
his turban in token of respect. 

He was, in truth, in many respects an enlightened prince. 
The improvement of his dominions was his first care ; and 
if he did not in every instance adopt the best method for 
promoting it, ignorance and the prejudices of his country, 
combined with those habits of despotic authority which no 
absolute monarch can entirely shake off, ought chiefly to bear 
the blame. In administering justice Abbas was strict, and 
at times even severe ; but decided measures were required 
to control the turbulent tribes, who were constantly striving 
for pre-eminence. Besides, the mode of inflicting punish- 
ment impresses a stranger with the idea of greater cruelty 
than really belongs to the system ; for all malefactors are 
executed in the presence of the sovereign, or at all events 
before the royal dwelling, whether in camp or in city. " Let 
us just imagine," says a judicious author, "what appearance 
it would have were every criminal to be sentenced to death 
by the King of England, and were the only place of execu- 
tion to be the court-yard of St. James's." It must, how- 
ever, be owned that, in his latter years, the Persian king 
became very prone to suspicion, and whenever that feeling 
seized his mind, the instant destruction of the parties fol- 
lowed. Yet, however prodigal of blood, he must be acknow- 
ledged to have benefited his country. His revenues were 
spent on improvements. Caravansaries, bridges, aqueducts, 
bazaars, mosques, and colleges arose in every quarter. Is- 
pahan, the capital, was splendidly embellished. Mushed was 
ornamented ; and the ruins of the palaces of Furrahbad in 
Mazunderan, and of AshrufT in Astrabad, still declare his 
taste and munificence. The latter establishment consisted 
of six separate palaces, each in its respective garden, and all 
enclosed by a fortified wall. The heights around were oc- 
cupied by sentinels, who had orders to shoot any one who 



TO THE PRESENT TIME. 



179 



\tas found overlooking it, even accidentally, at whatsoever 
distance. There was, besides, the pleasure-house of SoofTee* 
abad, built on an eminence above the rest, and commanding 
a view of the plains of Mazunderan and of the distant Cas- 
pian Sea. The noble causeway through the last-named 
province is a lasting monument of this monarch's attention 
to the prosperity of his subjects. Even to this day, if a 
stranger, observing an edifice of more than ordinary beauty 
or solidity, inquire who was its founder, the answer is sure 
to be, " It is the work of Shah Abbas the Great." 

In his foreign policy, too, he was generally liberal ; though 
his treatment of the conquered princes of Georgia and the 
inhabitants of that unfortunate kingdom was, as Chardin 
says, " a disgusting mixture of the lowest political intrigue, 
sensual passion, religious persecution^ and tyrannical cru- 
elty." Nor can his transportation of colonies from one dis- 
trict to another, however sanctioned by the example of 
former despots, or palliated by an obvious regard to the com- 
fort of the persons whom he removed, be freed from the irrt- 
putation of outrage upon the feelings of his subjects, 

His toleration of those professing other religions, particu- 
larly of Christians, is the more remarkable, when we con- 
sider the bigoted family from which he sprang. Not only 
did he live in the most intimate terms with his English 
guests, and bestow on his favourite Sir Robert Shirley a 
beautiful Circassian wife, but the Mohammedan king actually 
stood godfather to the child of the Christian knight. Yet 
Abbas, with all this practical liberality, and though he in- 
dulged in the forbidden juice of the grape, laid claim to pe- 
culiar sanctity of character. Every year saw him a pilgrim 
to some holy shrine, — at Nujjiff he swept the tomb of Ali a 
whole fortnight,— an office permitted only to persons of ex- 
emplary life ; and once he walked on foot from Ispahan to 
perform his devotions at the tomb of Imam Reza in Mushed. 

As a parent and relative his character appears in a very 
revolting light. The bitterest foes of an absolute prince are 
those of his own household. Abbas had four sons, on whom 
he doted as long as they were children ; but when they 
grew up towards manhood, they became objects of jealousy, 
if not of hatred ; their friends were considered as his ene- 
mies ; and praises of them were as a knell to his souL 
These unhappy feelings were aggravated by the represents 



180 FROM THE RISE OF THE SUFFATE ANS 



tions of some of his courtiers ; and the princes, harassed 
and disgusted by their father's behaviour towards them, lis- 
tened to advice which suggested a direct but dangerous way 
to safety. The eldest, SurTee Mirza, a brave and high- 
spirited youth, fell the first victim of this fatal suspicion. 
The veteran whom the king first proposed to employ as the 
assassin of his son tendered his own life as a sacrifice to 
appease the monarch's anger, but refused to cut off the hope 
of Persia. Another was found less scrupulous. Behbood 
Khan, a creature of the court, on pretence of a private injury, 
stabbed the prince as he came from the bath ; but the shelter 
which he received in the sanctuary of the royal stable,* and 
his subsequent promotion, showed by whom the dagger had 
been pointed. Neither the tyrant nor his instrument, how- 
ever, remained long unpunished. Abbas, stung with remorse, 
put to death on various pretexts the nobles who had poisoned 
his mind against his heir ; while for Behbood he contrived a 
more ingenious torture, commanding him to bring the head 
of his own son. The devoted slave obeyed, and when he 
presented the gory countenance of his only child, the king, 
with a bitter smile, demanded what were his feelings. " I 
am miserable," was the reply. "You should be happy, 
Behbood," rejoined the tyrant, 11 for you are ambitious, and 
in your feelings you at this moment equal your sovereign." 

But repentance wrought no amendment in the gloom v soul 
of Abbas. One of his sons had died before the murder of 
SurTee Mirza ; and the eyes of the rest were put out by order 
of their inhuman parent. The eldest of these, Khodabundeh,. 
had two children, of whom Fatima, a lovely girl, was the de- 
light of her grandfather. Goaded to desperation, the unhappy 
prince seized his little daughter one day as she came to caress 
him, and with maniac fury deprived her of life. He then 
groped for his infant boy, but the shrieking mother bore it 
from him, and carried it to Abbas. The rage of the dis- 
tracted monarch at the loss of his favourite gave a mo- 
mentary joy to the miserable father, who concluded the 
tragedy by swallowing poison. Horrors like these are of 
daily occurrence in the harem of an Eastern tyrant. Yet 

* The royal stable is the most sacred of asylums. They say that no 
horse will ever bear to victor)' a monarch by whom its sanctity lias been 
violated. When picketed in the open air, the safest place- is at the 
liead-siall of the horse. 



10 jfHE PRESENT TIMg 



131 



such is the king whom the Persians most admire ; and so 
precarious is the nature of despotic power, that monarchs 
of a similar character alone have successfully ruled the na- 
tion. " When this prince ceased to reign," says Malcolm, 
M Persia ceased to prosper." 

By the desire of the expiring sovereign, Sam Mirza, the 
eon of the unfortunate Suffee, was placed on the throne 
with the title of Shah Suffee, which he occupied fourteen 
years. His son Abbas II. succeeded him at the age of ten 
(A. D. 1641) ; and his reign, which extended to twenty-five 
years, was prosperous, in spite of his licentious habits. Eu- 
ropeans, of whatever rank or profession, were admitted to 
his orgies, which very often ended fatally. Deeds were 
committed under the influence of wine, of which the king 
in vain repented on awaking to consciousness ; for he was 
not naturally cruel. He was hospitable and generous ; and 
fugitive princes more than once obtained relief from his 
munificence. 

Through the intrepid loyalty of Aga Moubaric, a eunuch, 
Suffee Mirza, eldest son of Abbas, was saved from death or 
blindness, and mounted the throne with the title of Shah Soly- 
man. Unwarlike and dissolute, his reign of twenty-nine years 
was divided between the pleasures of the harem and of the 
feast ; while the Uzbecks and other enemies resumed with imm- 
unity those aggressions which the energy of former monarchs 
ad repressed. His drunken revels, like those of his father, 
were often stained with blood. Pie gave little heed to the 
cares of government ; but his court was not less splendid 
than that of any of his predecessors. Foreigners, especially 
Europeans, were at all times welcome, and received protection 
and encouragement. On his deathbed, Solyman observed 
to those around him, in reference to the choice of a suc- 
cessor, " If you seek for ease, let Hussein Mirza be elevated 
to the throne ; if you desire the glory of Persia, place the 
crown on the head of Abbas Mirza." The officers of the 
harem, who had engrossed every place of trust, attributed 
tittle importance to the latter object,— -they sought only to 
preserve their influence, and the meek but imbecile Hussein 
was therefore invested with the nominal dignity of shah. 

The bigotry and weakness of this prince ,were more dis- 
tstrous to his country than the crimes of his ancestors. Tha 
nobles and chiefs, seeing everv place of confidence in the 
Q ~ 



^82 fliCM I HE RISE OF IH£ SDFF4VEAN9 



nanus of eunuchs, priests, and zealots, retired in disgust from 
court. Their passive insensibility was m truth one of the 
most dangerous symptoms of the times ; but an hereditary 
respect for the family of SurTee prevented open revolt ; and 
the first twenty years of Hussein's reign passed in that deep 
lull which often precedes a furious storm. 

The Afghan tribes of Ghiljee and Abdallee, who had long 
been subject to Persia, and were often oppressed, provoked 
at length by the tyranny of Goorgeen Khan, broke into re- 
bellion. Headed by Meer Vais, a brave but artful chief, they 
put the obnoxious governor to death, and gained possession 
of the fortress of Candahar before a whisper of the insur- 
rection had gone abroad. The mask being thus thrown ort^ 
Meer Vais proceeded to strengthen himself by every means , 
while the court of Ispahan endeavoured to restore order bv 
negotiation. A series of successes in Khorasan imboldened 
the insurgents, who defeated the grand army, commanded 
by Khoosroo Khan, Wallee of Georgia ; and Meer Vais, 
having made himself master of his native province of Can- 
dahar, assumed the ensigns of royalty. On the death of this 
prince, the cares of government devolved upon his brother 
Meer Abdooiia, a timid ruler, who was assassinated by 
Mahmoud, son of his predecessor, — a name which the em- 
pire had long cause to remember with abhorrence. 

The- clouds which were gathering round the setting sun 
of Persia gave this leader ample leisure to mature his plans. 
The Uzbecks had recommenced their ravages in Khorasan , 
while the tribes of Kurdistan pillaged the country almost to 
the gates of Ispahan. The Abdallee Afghans had taken 
Herat, and soon after established themselves in Mushed. 
The Arabian governor of Muscat had subdued the islands in 
the Persian Gulf, and the Lesghees, on the side of Georgia, 
had attacked Shirwan, and plundered Shamachie ; when, to 
complete the consternation of the effeminate court, the astrol- 
ogers predicted the total destruction of the capital by an 
approaching earthquake. This annunciation produced a uni- 
versal panic. The kins left the city, and the priests assumed 
the management of affairs, prescribing every measure that 
fanaticism could suggest to avert the vengeance of Heaven. 
It was as if a mighty nation were preparing for death ; and 
when intelligence arrived that Mahmoud Ghiljee, with 25,000 
Afghans, had entered the country, the people, labouring 



TO THE PRESENT TIME. 



193 



under this unmanly depression, heard it as their inevitable 
doom. • . 

The progress of the invader by Seistan and Kerman, and 
thence through the Desert to Goolnabad, a village nine miles 
from Ispahan, was extremely rapid, and , was opposed only 
by some feeble efforts at negotiation, His army scarce 
amounted to 20,000 effective men, and was unfurnished 
with artillery, except some camel-swivels. The royal forces 
mustered more than 50,000 soldiers, with twenty-four pieces 
of cannon. The Persians shone in gold and silver, and their 
pampered steeds were sleek from high feeding and inaction. 
The Afghans were mounted on horses lean but hardy, and 
" nothing glittered in their camp but swords and lances." 
By the advice of the Wallee of Arabia, an action was re- 
solved on. The king's troops drew out of the city, and 
attacked the enemy, who, feigning flight, threw the assailants 
into disorder, then, wheeling off on either hand, left them 
exposed to a severe foe from the camel-artillery. This 
manoeuvre completed their confusion, and occasioned a pre- 
cipitate flight ; and the Afghans seem only to have been 
prevented from entering Ispahan by the fear of an ambus- 
cade. 

The suburbs were immediately reduced ; the surrounding 
country was ravaged ; and the city invested, without any 
effectual opposition, although the Armenians of Julfah offered-, 
if supplied with arms, to defend their quarters. Nay, the 
inhabitants of Ispahanuc, a small fortified village close to 
the capital, not only repulsed, but successfully attacked the 
enemy, Mahmoud determined to have recourse to a block- 
ade ; and the misery of Ispahan during the period in which 
it was beleaguered by the Afghans was dreadful, After ex- 
hausting even the most loathsome and unclean substances, 
many submitted to the dreadful necessity of consuming the 
flesh of the slain. The ties of nature yielded to the cravings 
of hunger, and mothers fed on their own offspring. The 
streets, the squares, and the royal gardens were covered 
with putrefying carcasses ; while the water of the Zeinde- 
rood was corrupted by the bodies thrown into it from the 
walls, Yet one vigorous sally might have prevented all this 
suffering ; for such was the irresolution of the invader, that 
at an early period he was even disposed to negotiate for an 
undisturbed retreat. Eut treachery or cowardice prevailed. 



184 FROM 1 HE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEAN3 



and the people in vain demanded to b« led against the 
enemy. 

A capitulation was at length proposed ; but the Afghan 
with inhuman policy procrastinated eight or nine week*, in 
order to reduce yet more the still formidable number of his 
enemies ; nor was it until the 21st of October, 172*2, after a 
siege of seven months, that terms were finally agreed on. 
The following day, Hussein, in deep mourning, attended by 
his nobles, took a solemn and affecting leave of his people ; 
who on their part, forgetting all their distresses, saw only in 
their unfortunate sovereign the revered descendant of their 
glorious monarchs Ismael, Tamasp, and Abbas, and received 
him with tears and lamentations. INext day he quitted his 
capital, and, escorted only by 300 troops and a few nobles, 
proceeded to the enemy's camp to resign his crown. " Son," 
said the humbled shah to the haughty Afghan, " since the 
Great Sovereign of the universe wills that I should rule no 
longer, I resign the empire to thee : may thy reign be pros- 
perous!" With these words, taking from his turban the 
royal plume, he gave it to the vizier of Mahmoad. But thai 
arrogant conqueror refusing to accept it from any other hands 
than those of the abdicating sovereign, the latter complied, 
and, placing the ensign of royalty in his adversary's head- 
dress, exclaimed, "Reign in peace!" On the subsequent 
morning, the degraded Hussein was forced to do homage to 
the Afghan prince ; after which the last real monarch of the 
house of Surfee retired to the prison assigned to him, where, 
being confined seven years, he was assassinated by Ashruif, 
the successor of Ghiljee. 

Mahmoud was amazed at his success, and, under the 
chastening influence of fear, adopted conciliatory measures 
with a view to establish his influence among the vanquished. 
But as the nation began to shake off the torpor which had 
overwhelmed it, and parties of Afghans were surprised and 
destroyed, his policy underwent a fearful change. A sullen 
gloom overspread his mind, and he seems to have conceived, 
as the only means of safety, the frantic purpose of extermi- 
nating the conquered. The male population of Ispahan still 
greatly outnumbered his whole army, and he resolved to 
reduce it to an amount which should no longer excite his 
apprehensions. The treacherous murder of 300 nobles with 
all their children, and the massacre of 3000 of Shah Hussein's 



TO THE PRESENT TIME. 



185 



guards whom he had taken into pay, formed a prelude to a 
more dreadful tragedy. Every person that had been in the 
service of the late shah was proscribed ; for fifteen days the 
streets of Ispahan ran with blood ; and so utterly was the 
spirit of the people broken, that it was a common thing to 
see one Afghan leading three or four Persians to execution. 

Aided by some fresh, levies, drawn principally from the 
Kurdish tribes, Mahmoud had captured Shiraz and several 
towns of Irak and Fars, But the clamours of his discon- 
tented troops and the threats of foreign invasion appalled a 
mind which, though fierce and cruel, was deficient in firm- 
ness ; and, accordingly, with the hope of propitiating Divine 
favour, he shut himself up in a vault fourteen days and nights, 
fasting and enduring the severest penances, This experi- 
ment completed the overthrow of his reason ; he raved, 
shrank from the sight of his friends, and tore his flesh in the 
violence of his paroxysms ; till at length his mother, in com- 
passion to his wretched condition, directed him to be smoth- 
ered. But this melancholy release w r as not effected until a 
fatal order had destined thirty-nine princes of the blood of 
Suflfee to an untimely death ; and it is said that the massacre 
was commenced by his own sabre. 

AshrufT, the son of Meer Abdoolla and nephew of Meer 
Vais, succeeded his cousin ; and the remaining inhabitants of 
Ispahan were flattered into pleasing anticipations by the 
mildness of his opening reign. But his precautions to se- 
cure himself and his family, by building a fort in the centre 
of the city, betrayed his doubt of being able to retain the 
affections of his subjects. Meantime his attention was oc- 
cupied by the proceedings of the Ottoman court, which had 
formed an alliance with the Czar of Russia in order to effect 
a partition of the fairest provinces of Persia. Against this 
enemy AshrufT was at first successful, although in the end 
he was glad to accept a peace on very unfavourable terms. 
But * more dangerous, though less dreaded, foe had by this 
time arisen in a quarter quite unexpected, i 

Nadir Kouli, a chief of the Affshar tribe, who amid the trou- 
bles of his native province had risen to great authority by 
the defeat of one rival after another, joined Tamasp, the son 
of Shah Hussein, and declared his resolution to drive every 
Afghan from the soil of Persia, Tamasp, flying from Ispa- 
han to Mazunderan, had from the day of his father's abdi- 
Q 2 



186 FROM THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVF.AXS. 



cation assumed royal state, and now, supported by Nadu 
and the nobles of Khorasan and Mazunderan, was in a con- 
dition to exercise the authority of a sovereign, so far as hia 
powerful vassals saw proper to permit. Ashruff sought to 
dispel the coming storm by attacking the foe while at a dis- 
tance. But it was Nadir's policy to fight on his own ground ; 
and the victories of Mehmandost and Sirderra, and the still 
more decisive field of Moorchacoor, opened the way to the 
capital itself. In the evening after his success, the wailings 
of the Afghan females announced to the citizens of Ispahan 
the result of the conflict. Night passed in brief and melan- 
choly preparations, and the dawn saw men, women, and 
children in full retreat to Shiraz. The remorseless Ash- 
ruff, before he followed, stained his hands with the blood of 
Shah Hussein, and the pressure of circumstances alone pre- 
vented a more general massacre. 

Wasting the country as he went, Nadir overtook the 
enemy at Persepolis. The drooping Afghans fled to Shiraz ; 
they were still 20,000 strong ; but their leader having de- 
serted them to make the best of his way homewards with 
only 200 followers, the bulk of the army dispersed, closely 
pressed by their exasperated pursuers. Few if any reached 
Candahar ; and AshruiT, while wandering in Seistan, was 
recognised and slain by Abdoolla Khan,' a Belooche, who sent 
his head, together with a large diamond which he wore, to 
Shah Tamasp. Thus was destroyed the grisly phantom 
which for seven wretched years had brooded over Persia, 
converting her fairest provinces into deserts, her cities into 
charnel-houses, and glutting itself with the blood of a mil- 
lion of her people. 

Unhappily it was but a change of tyrants. Nadir, whose 
ambition was insatiable, knew his power, and soon deposed 
the pageant whom he had hitherto supported. The mask of 
obedience was preserved for a while towards the infant son 
of Tamasp, under the title of Abbas III. But this act of 
the drama was terminated by the death of the child, which 
left the victor at full liberty to comply with the solicitations 
of his officers and his own earnest wishes. On the plains 
of Mogan, at the festival of the No Roz, 1736, he assumed, 
with affected reluctance, the symbols of sovereignty ; and 
the new monarch, while announcing the sacrifice of personal 
comfort he thus made, stipulated that in return his subjects 



TO THE PRESENT TIMF. 



187 



should renounce the errors of the Sheah heresy, and embrace 
the orthodox creed of the Sonnees. Many might secretly 
murmur at this proposal made by the commander of 100,000 
veteran troops of the latter faith, but few dared openly to 
oppose it. 

Nadir, having driven the Turks out of Persia, reduced 
Khorasan, and established tranquillity, prepared for further 
conquests. Candahar was invested and taken ; Balkh fell 
before the arms of his son Reza Kouli, who, with youthful 
ardour, passed the Oxus, and defeated the ruler of Bokhara 
and his Uzbecks. These successes led to further exploits, 
Afghanistan was subdued ; and an affront, real or imaginary, 
coupled with the effeminate imbecility of the Mogul court, 
determined Nadir to cross the Indus, and march straight to 
Delhi.* A single battle, or rather a skirmish and a rout, 
decided the fate of an empire containing 100,000,000 of 
souls. 0- The capital offered no resistance; its treasures 
were plundered, the inhabitants slaughtered, and the de- 
throned king forced to plead at the conqueror's feet for the 
lives of his remaining subjects. Loaded with the spoil of 
the richest empire of the East, the Affshar chief returned 
home. Kbarism was next subdued, and Bokhara only 
escaped by timely submission. The glorious days of Persia 
seemed to have returned, and her limits, as of yore, were 
the Oxus, the Indus, the Caspian, the Caucasus, and the 
Tigris. 

But if the public career of Nadir was glorious, his do- 
mestic life was imbittered by the darkest passions. Ambi- 
tion had rendered him haughty, while avarice made him sus- 
picious and cruel. An attempt on his life in Mazunderan, 
attributed to his son Reza Kouli Meeza, who was indeed 
fierce and rash enough to undertake such a deed, led his 
father to deprive him of the blessing of sight. " Your 
crimes have forced me to this dreadful measure," said the 
king, already half-repentant, as he gazed for the first time 
on the rayless countenance of his first-born. " It is not my 
eyes you have put out," replied the youth, " it is those of 
Persia!" — "The prophetic truth," says Sir John Malcolm, 
u sank deep into the heart of Nadir, who, becoming from 

* See Family Library, No, XLVIL Historical and Descriptive Account 
of British India, 



1S8 FROM THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEANS 



that moment a prey to remorse and gloomy anticipations, 
never knew happiness, nor desired that others should feel 
it." The rest of his life presents but a frightful succession 
of cruelties. Murder was not confined to individuals ; 
whole cities were depopulated, and men, leaving their abodes, 
took up their habitations in caverns and deserts, m hopes of 
escaping his savage ferocity. At length his madness rose 
to such a height as to suggest the expedient of putting to 
death all who were objects of his insane fears, including 
almost every Persian in his army. The Afghans and Turko- 
mans were to execute his commands, and with them he 
was afterward to retire to Kelaat Nadiree, to live in the 
enjoyment of riches and repose. But the tyrant's hour had 
arrived : his iniquitous conspiracy was disclosed to some of 
the proscribed on the day before that fixed for the massacre. 
No time was to be lost ; and, measures having been arranged, 
early on the ensuing night Mohammed Ali Khan ArTshar 
and Saleh Beg, the captain of the guard, on pretence of 
urgent business, rushed past the sentries to the inner tent. 
Nadir started up and slew two of the meaner assassins, but 
was in his turn cut down by a blow from Saleh, who in- 
stantly despatched him. 

Such was the' fate of this extraordinary man, and the re- 
semblance between it and that of the despot who preceded 
him cannot but strike every one. The mind of the former 
was more elevated than that of Mahmoud ; but both were 
ambitious, and waded through blood and crime to the same 
objects. Satiated with carnage, a like catastrophe awaited 
both, — their latter days were rendered miserable by suspicion, 
and madness closed the scene. 

The successors of Nadir, including the inglorious reijns 
of his nephews, Adil Shah and Ibrahim Khan, and of the 
blind Shah Rokh, his grandson, merit little notice ; but a 
short view of the state of Persia a few years after the con- 
queror's death will not be misplaced. At the period m 
question, Mazunderan and Astrabad had fallen into the 
hands of Mohammed Hussein Khan, chief of the Kujur 
tribe. Azerbijan was ruled by Azad Khan Afghan, a general 
of Nadir, Hedayut Khan had declared himself independent 
in Ghilan ; and Shah Rokh owed the undisturbed possession 
of Khorasan to the support of Amed Khan Abdailee. 

In the south, Ali Murdan Khan, a Buchtiaree chief, seized 



TO THE PRESENT TIME. 



189 



Ispahan, and proposing to elevate a prince of the house of 
Suffee to the throne, invited several nobles to join his stand- 
ard. Among these was Kureem Khan, a chief of the Zund 
tribe, who, though not conspicuous for rank, was distin- 
guished for good sense and courage. His conduct in the 
various intrigues and contests for power had raised him 
so high in the esteem of the soldiers as to excite the jealousy 
of Ali Murdan Khan, and a rupture was the consequence. 
But the assassination of his rival by a noble named Moham- 
med Khan, left Kureem undisputed master of the south of 
Persia ; who, availing himself of his influence with the 
tribes in that part of the country, summoned them to join 
him. He was worsted in his rencounter with Azad Khan ; 
but in a second engagement utterly discomfited that danger- 
ous enemy in the difficult pass of Kumauridge, when, re- 
ceiving him on liberal terms into his service, he converted 
him into an attached friend. Kureem had to endure more 
than one severe reverse, and was obliged to employ policy 
as well as boldness before he could destroy Mohammed Hus- 
sein Khan Kujur, the powerful chief of Mazunderan. Nor" 
perhaps would he have succeeded, had not the leaders of 
the Kujur tribe been at variance among themselves. The 
conquest of this province was followed by the submission of 
Ghilan and great part of Azerbijan. The firmness shown by 
this prince in checking insubordination increased the at- 
tachment with which he was regarded by all classes of his 
subjects, and even the cruelties of his ferocious brother 
Zukee Khan produced a salutary effect, as long as the se- 
verity was not attributed to the monarch. Khorasan was 
the only province which he did not subdue ; and it is said 
he respected the descendant of Nadir, the blind Shah Rokh, 
too much to disturb his tranquillity. 

Kureem Khan died in 1779, at the age of eighty years, 
during twenty-six of which he had ruled, if not with glory, 
at least with uprightness and moderation ; and he left a 
i character for equity and humanity which few sovereigns of 
Persia have ever attained. He wanted not ambition ; but it 
1 was free from the selfishness and turbulence which generally 
1 mingle with that passion. He possessed that noble courage 
j which dares to pardon ; and the confidence with which he 
i treated those whom he forgave scarcely ever failed of gain- 
\ mg them completely to his interest. Hie virtues had nothing 



190 FROM THE RISK OF THE SUFFAVEANS 



of a romantic cast ; like his other qualities, they were plain 
and intrinsic. He was pious, bat his religion was free from 
austerity. Naturally cheerful, he enjoyed the pleasures of 
the world, and desired to see others enjoy them. He lived 
happily, and his death was that of a father among a loving 
family. The son of a petty chief, and of a barbarous tribe, he 
had received but little education : it is said that he could not 
even write. But he valued learning in others, and his court 
was the resort of men of liberal studies. His judgment was 
acute, and always awake to the call of duty or benevolence. 
Of his love of justice many anecdotes are recorded. One 
day, after being harassed by a long attendance in public 
hearing causes, he was about to retire when he was arrested 
by the cries of a stranger, who, rushing forward, called aloud 
for redress. ''Who are you?" said Kureem. "I am a 
merchant, and have been robbed and plundered of all I pos- 
sessed while I slept." — "And why did you sleep?' de- 
manded the monarch in an impatient tone. u Because I made 
a mistake," replied the trader undauntedly — "I thought that 
you were awake." The irritation of the royal judge vanished 
in a moment. Turning to his vizier, he bade him pay the 
man's losses. "It is our business," he added, "to recover, 
if we can, the property from the robbers." 

By law, the effects of foreigners who die in Persia belong 
to the king ; but Kureem esteemed this practice as grossly 
unjust, especially where any relative was proved to exist. 
One day an officer laid before him an account of the goods 
of a stranger who had expired in his district. "And what 
have I to do with this?" exclaimed he. " It has become the 
property of your majesty," replied the functionary, " and I 
come to lav it at your feet." — "At mine !" said the king; 
M g°> g°> fellow — I am no eater of carrion (mourdarkhore) 
■ — no consumer of dead men's goods. Let the friends of 
the deceased be sought out, and the property secured for 
them until claimed." 

He used to relate an anecdote of himself, which evinces 
a good feeling rather uncommon in one whose early habits 
must have been of a predatory description : — " "When I was 
a poor soldier," said he, (: in Nadir's camp, my necessities 
led rne to take from a shop a gold-embossed saddle; sent 
thither by an Afghan chief to be repaired. I soon afterward 
heard that the man was in prison, sentenced to bo hanged. 




Mausoleum of Shah Meer Humza at Shiraz. 



TO THE PRESENT TIME. 



193 



My conscience smote me ; I restored the stolen article to 
the very place from which I had removed it, and watched 
till it was discovered by the tradesman's wife. She uttered 
a scream of joy on seeing it, and fell on her knees invoking 
blessings on the person who had brought it hack, and pray- 
ing that he might live to have a hundred such saddles. — lam 
quite certain," continued the king, smiling, " that th% honest 
prayer of the old woman has aided my fortune in attaining 
the splendour she wished me to enjoy." 

Shiraz was the capital in which Kureem delighted, and 
which he embellished most usefully and splendidly. The 
Bazaar e Wukeel, one of the finest in the kingdom, has 
already been mentioned ; and the mausoleum of the celebrated 
saint Shah Meer Humza, erected by him, stands conspicuous 
near the northern entrance of the town. The other cities 
of the empire likewise experienced his munificence. He 
never assumed the title of shah, but contented himself with 
that of vakeel, or lieutenant of the kingdom ; for the pa- 
geant of the house of SufFee, set up by Ali Murdan Khan, 
was still suffered to exist in the fortress of Abadah. 

Of four sons who survived him, not one escaped the dag- 
gers or intrigues of the numerous chiefs who engaged in the 
contests which ensued for the crown. The government was 
first seized by Zukee Khan, while Saduk, his brother, ad- 
vanced from Bussora with the army he commanded ; but the 
power of the former was already too firmly established, and 
the latter was forced to retire. Meantime Aga Mohammed 
Khan Kujur, who had been detained as a prisoner at Shiraz, 
fled to Mazunderan, his native country, and announced his 
determination to compete for the throne. The atrocities of 
Zukee soon led to his murder, which was perpetrated at 
Yezdikhaust ; and Saduk hastened to the capital, where he 
gave orders to put out the eyes of his nephew Abul Futeh 
Khan, and proclaimed himself king. But the city being be- 
sieged by Ali Mourad Khan, the nephew of Zukee, he was 
forced to surrender at discretion, and, together with most of 
his sons, was put to death. Not long afterward Ali Mourad 
sank under the ascendency of another rival. The struggle 
at last was confined to Lootf Khan Zund, grandnephew of 
Kureem, and Aga Mohammed, the Kujur chief already 
mentioned, and more than six years elapsed ere it was 
decided. 

R, 



194 FROM THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEANS 



Of all the characters which belong to this unsettled period, 
that of Lootf Ali breathes most of the spirit of chivalry. 
Tall and gracefully formed, with a beautiful and animated 
countenance, his appearance instantly gained that admiration 
which his noble qualities commanded. In horsemanship and 
martial exercises he was unrivalled, and though scarcely 
twentv years of age when summoned to take a part in active 
life, his judgment had been matured by constant exertion in the 
short but stormy reign of his father, Jaffier Khan, and he was 
already reputed one of the best and bravest soldiers of the time. 
Unfortunately these brilliant endowments were obscured by 
violence of passion and excessive pride, which the attain- 
ment of power increased to an inordinate degree. Nor was 
his temper improved by subsequent misfortune : he became 
fierce, irascible, unrelenting, and endeavoured to remove all 
obstacles by the influence of terror. 

The circumstance which turned the scale of success in 
favour of a Kujur and against a Zund deserves to be men- 
tioned. Hajji Ibrahim, the son of a respectable magistrate 
of Shiraz, had by his talents risen under the government 
of Jaffier to the highest command in Fars. Attached to the 
father, his devotion to the son was increased by the young 
man's iinc dispositions, which he thought eminently calcu- 
lated to promote the happiness of his country ; and it was 
nrincipally by his assistance that Lootf All was enabled to 
make so vigorous a head against his rival. The fickleness 
of youth, however, led him to affront his faithful minister. 
Mistrust arose on either side ; and, doubtful of his own life, 
the hajji determined to place himself under the protection 
of a sovereign more deserving of confidence. Shiraz was 
taken bv a stratagem, and information instantly despatched 
to Aga Mohammed Khan. A daring attack made on the 
advancing armv of that chief completely failed, and the 
empire of Persia was lost to the Zund prince. 

We cannot relate the brutal indignities, torments, and 
mutilation which the victor inflicted upon hit captive, before 
death, in the vear 1795, released him from his misery. Still 
less shall we dwell on the atrocities committed in the city 
of Kerman in revenge for the assistance lendered by its 
inhabitants to their legitimate prince. The place was de- 
populated ; all the full-grown males were murdered or 
deprived of sight, and turned out into the field? to wander 



TO THE FN.ESENT TXIYTF, 



195 



in helpless blindness. A horrid tribute of human eyes, 
amounting to a certain number of mauns, was exacted ; and 
the women and children were distributed among the soldiers 
as slaves. 

Aga Mohammed Shah, having tranquillized the southern 
and central provinces, turned his arms westward, and, over- 
running Armenia and Karabaug, marched straight to Teflis, 
defeated Heraclius, prince of Georgia, sacked the city, and 
slaughtered or carried off the inhabitants. He then sub- 
jected Khorasan, punished the pillaging Turkomans in the 
vicinity of Astrabad, and took measures to restrain the 
incursions of the Uzbecks of Bokhara. His expedition to 
Mushed exhibits one of the darkest pages in his bloody 
history ; for, not content with wresting from the plunderers 
of Nadir's camp every jewel he could find, he by merciless 
torture compelled the aged Shah Rokh to give information as 
to a ruby of immense value that once ornamented the crown 
of Aurungzebe. Death fortunately ended the life and the 
sufferings of his victim soon afterward, at Damghan of 
Khorasan, in the sixty-third year of his age. 

The most revolting feature in the character of Aga Mo- 
hammed is his tiger-like ferocity. Sir John Malcolm, indeed, 
exhibits this propensity in a somewhat different light : — " In 
viewing the life of a monarch like Aga Mohammed Khan,' 7 
says he, " we should guard against those impressions which 
the particular view of many of his actions is calculated to 
make upon the mind. Accustomed to live under a govern- 
ment protected by laws, we associate cruelty and oppression 
with every act of a despot. His executions are murders ; 
and the destruction of helpless citizens, who in an assault 
too often share the fate of the garrison, is deemed a horrid 
massacre. But we must not assume that justice is always 
violated because the forms of administering it are repugnant 
to our feelings ; and we should recollect that, even among 
civilized nations, the inhabitants of towns taken by storm are 
exposed to pillage and slaughter without any charge of bar- 
barity against the victors." These arguments certainly pos- 
sess considerable weight; but the condition of a people must 
be deplorable where barbarity stalks abroad under the name 
of justice. 

The early misfortunes of this monarch, by secluding him 
from the best sympathies of his fellow-men, no doubt con- 



196 



FROM THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEANS 



tributed to the growth of the unfeeling sternness with which 
he viewed every thing that came under his notice ; while 
the restraint in which he was kept taught him patience, 
self-possession, and dissimulation. " I could not," he has 
been known to say, "express openly the hatred and revenge 
I harboured against the murderers of my father and the 
despoilers of my inheritance ; but while sitting with Kureera 
Khan in his hall of audience, I often used to cut his fine 
carpets with a penknife concealed under my cloak, and 
felt some relief in doing him this secret injury: it was 
foolish, and betrayed a want of forecast ; for these carpets 
are now mine, and I might have calculated then on the 
chance of their becoming so." He seems always to have 
acted upon this maxim, suppressing his malevolence only 
when the gratification of it interfered w T ith his interest. 

To his own family, with the exception of his nephews, 
Baba Khan, the present king of Persia, and Hussein Kouli 
Khan, he behaved barbarously. Mustapha Kouli Khan, his 
brother, he deprived of sight ; and he inveigled the brave 
Jaffier Kouli Khan, another brother, by protestations of 
affection, to come only for one night to Teheran. But that 
night was fatal ; the unsuspecting guest was despatched by 
assassins posted in a new palace, which he had gone to visit 
at the tyrant's desire. The body was brought to the king, 
who mourned over it with every appearance of frantic grief, 
and calling his nephew he accused him as the cause of the 
crime: "It is for you I have done this," said he; "that 
gallant spirit would never have suffered you to reign in 
peace. Persia would have been distracted with continual 
wars ; and to avoid such calamities I have acted with shame- 
ful ingratitude, and sinned deeply against God and man !" 
Yet with a mockery of piety or timidity of superstition, 
which it is hard to comprehend, he kept with the dead the 
oath he had violated to the living, by removing the corpse 
that very night beyond the city walls. 

The first passion of this monarch's heart was love of 
power, — the second, avarice, — the third, revenge ; and in 
all these he indulged to excess. He was a keen observei 
of men, and emploved policy as frequently as force to sub- 
due his enemies. His most confidential minister being 
asked whether he was personally brave, answered, " No 
doubt ; but yet I can hardlv recollect an occasion where he 



TO THF, PRESENT JTME, 



197 



had an opportunity of displaying courage. That monarch's 
head," added he, emphatically, " never left work for his 
hands." 

The avarice of Aga Mohammed sometimes betrayed him 
into awkward and even ludicrous predicaments. While 
superintending certain punishments one day, he heard a man 
who had been sentenced to lose his ears offering to the exe- 
cutioner a few pieces of silver " if he would not shave them 
very close." He ordered the culprit instantly to be called, 
and told him that if he would double the sum his ears should 
not be touched. The man, believing this to be only a face- 
tious manner of announcing his pardon, prostrated himself, 
uttered his thanks, and was retiring, but he was recalled and 
given to understand that payment was really expected as the 
condition of his safety. On another occasion he himself dis- 
closed a conspiracy to defraud his nobles. Riding out with 
some courtiers, a mendicant met the party, to whom the 
king, apparently struck with his distress, ordered a large 
alms to be given. The example was of course followed by 
all, and the beggar obtained a very considerable sum. That 
night the sovereign's impatience betrayed his secret : — " I 
have been cheated," said he to his minister ; " that scoun- 
drel of a mendicant whom you saw this morning, not only 
promised to return my own money, but to give me half of 
what he should receive through its means from others !" 
Horsemen were instantly ordered in pursuit ; but the fellow 
took care not to be caught, and ihe courtiers iaughed in their 
sleeve at his majesty's disappointment. 

Yet no one was more jealous than Aga Mohammed of the 
respect due to royalty ; and he severely rebuked, and was 
with difficulty withheld from punishing, one of his lords-in- 
waiting for using unbecoming expressions towards Timur 
Shah, king of Cabul, while announcing his ambassador. 
This politic principle of retrieving the regal dignity from the 
degradation it had suffered in the ephemeral reigns of pre- 
ceding monarchs, was sometimes carried so far as to exclude 
the gratification of his cupidity. His minister Hajji Ibrahim 
requested permission one day to introduce two individuals 
who were willing to pay a high rent for the farm of a par- 
ticular district, but who were of indifferent reputation. The 
monarch angrily demanded how he dared to propose to bring 
such persons into his presence 1 The hajji replied, " May 
R 2 



198 



FROM THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEANS 



it please your majesty, they will give double the price that 
can be obtained from any one else."' — "No matter, hajji, the 
money must be given up ; such men must not be permitted 
to approach the king." 

To sum up the character of Aga Mohammed : he was sa- 
gacious, a profound dissembler, yet severely just, and although 
grasping and avaricious himself, a deadly foe to peculation in 
his officers. To his soldiers he was particularly indulgent, 
and they repaid his kindness by their fidelity. In the latter 
years of his reign his temper, at all times peevish and 
dangerous, became ferocious. His countenance, which re- 
sembled that of a shrivelled old woman, assumed occasionally 
a horrible expression, of which he was sensible and could 
not endure to be looked at. Even his confidential domestics 
approached him trembling ; and their blood curdled at the 
sound of his shrill dissonant voice, which was seldom raised 
without uttering a term of gross abuse or an order for punish- 
ment. 

He frequently dwelt on the circumstances of Nadir's fate, 
as if harbouring a conviction that it might one day be his 
own ; and reprobated the follv of that monarch in threatening 
when he should have executed, and in trusting when he 
should have been rigidly reserved. Yet he fell a victim to 
a greater imprudence than anv that could be laid to the 
charge of his predecessor. While encamped with his army 
at Sheesha, the capital of Karabaug, in 1797, a dispute oc- 
curred between two of his servants, and their noise so enraged 
him that he commanded them to be instantly put to death. 
In vain did Saduk Khan Shegaghee, a nobleman of high rank, 
intercede for them ; all he could obtain was a reprieve until 
next morning, as the dav (Friday) being sacred to prayer he 
would not profane it by taking their lives. With a singular 
infatuation he permitted these very persons, lying under a 
sentence of death which they knew to be irrevocable, to at- 
tend him during this only night of their existence. Despair 
gave them courage, perhaps they were conscious of secret 
support in other quarters, — thev entered the tent of his ma- 
jesty while he slept, and with their daggers freed Persia from 
an odious tyranny and themselves from the dread of the exe- 
cutioner. 

The firmness and temperate management of Hajji Ibrahim 
secured the throne to the deceased monarch's nephew, who 



TO THE PRESENT TIME. 



199 



assumed the ensigns of royalty by the name of Futeh Ali 
Shah ; and though Saduk Khan quitted the camp with his 
numerous followers, the rest of the army marched at the com- 
mand of the minister to the capital, which was kept by Mirza 
Mohammed Khan Kujur for the heir of Aga Mohammed 
Saduk made a feeble effort at opposition, but was defeated. 
Two similar attempts, by Hussein Kouli Khan, brother of 
the king, and by a son of Zukee Khan Zund, were subdued 
with equal facility ; and since that time the internal tranquil- 
lity of the kingdom has been little disturbed. 

By nature unwarlike, and succeeding to an almost undis- 
puted throne, the reign of Futeh Ali has been marked by 
few remarkable events. The most important are those con- 
nected with the progress of the Russian arms, which was 
equally rapid and decisive. In 1800, Georgia was finally 
incorporated with the empire of the czar. In 1803, Mingrelia 
submitted to the same power, — Ganjah was taken, and Erivan 
invested, although the invaders were forced to raise the siege 
for want of stores, and from sickness. Daghistan and Shir- 
wan had been overrun : and, in 1805, Karabaug voluntarily 
submitted to their sway. The tide of conquest proceeded 
with various fluctuations until checked by British interference, 
though the treaty of Goolistan, in October, 1813, fixed the 
boundaries so indefinitely as to give rise to much fruitless 
negotiation, and finally to a fresh war. 

One part of the policy of the government of St. Petersburg 
in regard to Persia has been to acquire an influence over the 
heir-apparent, by promising to assist him in the struggle 
which is anticipated at the death of his father ; and the agents 
of that ambitious power had actually established this dangerous 
ascendency, when the threatening attitude and language 
adopted by the Russian authorities, no less than his regard 
for the British, disposed Prince Abbas Mirza to break the 
bonds that were fastening around him, and to trust once more 
to the interposition of the latter nation. This, however, as 
well as remonstrances from the courts of Teheran and Tabriz, 
having failed, the shah reluctantly resolved to seek redress 
for past encroachments, and a security from farther loss, by 
force of arms. In this measure he was supported by the 
unanimous voice of the religious order, who called aloud for 
" war agaimst the infidels ;" and many of the frontier tribes, 
who had been exasperated by the cruelties inflicted by the 
invaders, rejoiced in the prospect of revenge 



200 FROM THE RISE OF THE SUFFAVEANS 



» Hostilities commenced with a massacre of all the Rus- 
sian detachments and garrisons which could be overpowered. 
And the prince-royal, in July, 1826, took the field with an 
army of 40,000 men, about 12.000 of whom were regulars, 
together with a few companies of foot-artillery, and deserters 
from the enemy. The Muscovite troops on the south of the 
Caucasus have been estimated at the same amount, including 
6000 Cossacks and some dragoons. The opening of the 
campaign was favourable to Persia. Gokchah. Balikloo, and 
Aberan were recovered, — Kareklissia was evacuated, — the 
country ravaged almost to the gates of Tcflis. — Karabaug 
overrun, — Sheesha taken, and its strong castle invested. 

But the flattering hopes awakened by these successes 
were speedily dissipated. Early in September. Mohammed 
Mirza, son of Abbas, sustained a repulse at Shamkoor. neai 
Ganjah ; and, on the 25th of the same month, the prince 
himself, having rashly engaged the force under General Pas- 
kewitch in the open held, was defeated with the loss of 1200 
men. He fled with a few attendants, and his army dis- 
persed, after having plundered his own camp. 

Abbas repaired to court, and by much exertion another 
army was collected, with which, however, nothing was ef- 
fected ; and during the winter several ineffectual attempts 
were made to accommodate matters by British mediation. 
The war recommenced in the spring of 1827 ; Erivan was 
invested by General BenkendorfF, who, however, raised 
the siege on the approach of the shah towards Khoi ; but 
the good effects of this movement were counterbalanced 
by a check which the prince sustained before Abbasabad. and 
the treacherous surrender of that town, which soon followed. 

The defeat of 4000 Russian infantry and 2000 cavalry, 
with twenty field-pieces, at Aberan, in August. 1827, again 
encouraged the hopes of Abbas ; but the advance of Paske- 
witch, with strong reinforcements and a battering train, put 
an end to the delusion, and the Persians had few other ad- 
vantages to boast of during the continuance of the contest. 
In January, 1828. the kmg. seeing no prospect of maintaining 
the war with success, and anxious to avoid further loss, ac- 
cepted once more the aid of the British minister at his court 
to procure a peace ; which the enemy, who had attained 
many of their objects, did not now decline. The terms pro- 
posed by the latter weri humiliating enough ; and the inef- 




Abba Mirza 



TO THE PRESENT TIME. 



203 



fcctual remonstrances and reluctance of the shah and his 
ministers protracted the negotiations until the 21st February, 
when a treaty was signed at Turkomanshaee, of which the 
principal conditions were as follows : — 

By the first article, the treaty of Goolistan is annulled, 
and a new arrangement settled. By the third article, Persia 
codes the Khanat of Erivan and that of Nakshivan. By the 
fourth, the boundary-line is described as drawn from that of 
the Ottoman states, passing over the summit of Little Ararat, 
and down the Lower Karasu to the Aras, then proceeding in 
the bed of that river to Abbasabad and Yedibouloob, trav- 
ersing the plain of Mogan to Adina Bazaar, ascending the 
current of that name to its source, and thence running along 
the west of the Eiburz or Caucasian Mountains to the source 
of the Ashtara, which it follows to the sea ; thus ceding the 
greater part of Talish to Russia, and including all the islands 
of the Caspian $ea that fail within its direction. The sixth 
article stipulates for the payment of ten crores (of 500,000 
each) of tomans by Persia, as indemnification for the expenses 
of the war ; and these are followed by a variety of provisions 
for the regulation of commerce, for the government of the 
ceded provinces, and the management of the migratory 
population, with other necessary precautionary clauses. 

Since the signature of this treaty the peace has remained 
undisturbed, although an event which occurred at Teheran 
in February, 1829, might have furnished an excuse for further 
exactions. In that month, Mr. GrebayadorT, the Russian 
envoy at the court of the shah, and forty-four individuals be- 
longing to his suite, fell victims to the popular phrensy, being 
massacred in his official dwelling. The king, equally 
shocked and alarmed at an outrage which he could not pre- 
vent, despatched a mission charged with an explanation to the 
court of St. Petersburg, which was graciously received, and 
harmony has since been preserved. 

After the termination of this war, the prince -royal had 
time to attend to the interests of his, future kingdom, and 
has made some progress in reducing the rebellious chiefs of 
Khorasan. Assisted by the science and valour of a Polish 
gentleman, who is now at the head of his army, he possessed 
himself of Yezd, took Toorshish and Khabooshan by storm, 
and reduced the other chieftains in that quarter to an ac- 
knowledgment of fealty and submission, But these, it is 



204 RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 



obvious, are temporary advantages that can only be maintained 
by a firm control, supported by a well-organized force, and 
directed by a judicious system of government, which are 
scarcely to be expected from the present royal family. 

It is indeed sufficiently manifest that the downfall of the 
Kujur dynasty, short as their reign has been, is fast approach- 
ing, and that if the heir-apparent succeed in preserving his 
crown for a season, it will be more from the operation of 
foreign influence and political jealousy, than by the exertion 
of any power or popularity that he is likely to acquire. The 
very name of the Kujurs is detested throughout the king- 
dom ; and it is notorious that pressing petitions have been 
made on the part of the greater number of the chiefs and 
nobles, backed by the earnest wishes of all ranks, for permis- 
sion to throw themselves upon British protection ; declaring 
that all they look for is peace and security ; and protesting 
that, should their application be rejected, they will rather 
submit to Russia than continue any longer subject to the mis- 
rule and extortion of their present masters.* 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Resources and Government of Persia. 

Persia over-estimated as a Nation— Causes of this— Roads of Persia — 
Population— Commerce— Exports — Imports — Sources of Revenue — 
Land-taxes and Tenures — Irregular Taxes — Amount of Revenue— Ex- 
penditure— Military Resources and Establishment — Character of the 
Government — King absolute— Civil and Criminal Law — Vicious and 
improvident System of Collection — Illustrations— Character of the 
reigning Monarch— Duties and usual Occupations. 

The striking events which have just occupied our atten- 
tion, the importance of the actors, and the imposing magnifi- 
cence of the details — perplexing the imagination with count- 
less multitudes, exhaustless wealth, and almost boundless 

* The earnestness with which these overtures have been urged, arises 
no doubt from their knowledge of the security to property and perfect 
religious liberty, and protection to all orders, enjoyed by British subjects 
in India, contrasted with their own precarious conditiou. * 



RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 205 



power — naturally lead the reader to conclude that Persia 
must be populous, fertile, well cultivated, and abounding in 
every source of prosperity. Yet the reverse is the truth ; 
and the cause of this error is neither remote nor obscure. 
We may trace it to the impressions our minds have received 
from the allusions in Holy Writ to the riches and power of 
the Assyrian and Median kings, with their "cohorts all gleam- 
ing in purple and gold ;" from the works of those classical 
authors who have recorded the splendour of a Darius or a 
Xerxes, and the innumerable myriads whom they led to vic- 
tory or to destruction ; and, lastly, from the gorgeous de, 
scriptions which have delighted us in Eastern narratives, 
whether in prose or verse. These impressions, gaining 
strength by contemplating the mighty scale of conquest which 
characterizes the history of Asia, have undoubtedly been the 
means of throwing over this quarter of the globe a delusive 
brilliancy. 

This misconception has been in no small degree strength- 
ened by the reports of those travellers who visited Persia in 
the reigns of the SufFees, when that country appeared as 
wealthy as when her empire extended over the greater part 
of Asia, and who for the most part had their views directed 
to the more exalted orders of society, — to the persons of the 
sovereign and his immediate dependants, or the rich and 
powerful of the land, with whom their business chiefly led 
them to associate. Such accounts can form no just criterion 
for determining the condition of the country in general ; for 
while the king was dazzling strangers by his ostentation, his 
subjects may have been as poor, population as scanty, and 
cultivation not much more extensive than at present. Be- 
sides, in estimating the power of the kingdom, it must be 
recollected that the most successful monarchs did not draw 
their riches from it alone, but owed them to the possession 
of Asiatic Turkey, to Egypt, Bactriana, Kharism, Cabul, and 
even to Tartary, as well as to the trade with India and 
China, which they either engrossed or controlled. In an ac- 
count of Persia, therefore, it becomes important to point out 
and correct these erroneous notions. The appearance of the 
several provinces having been already described, we shall 
now proceed to examine its condition a little farther, by some 
of the tests which are usually applied to measure the indica- 
tions of national prosperity. 



206 RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 



Of these, one, though not perhaps the most decisive, is 
the state of its roads. Without good highways commerce 
cannot thrive, because commodities cannot be transported in 
any considerable quantities. In Persia it does not appear 
that such a convenience ever existed : art has never been 
applied there to the formation of roads, even in the most 
prosperous times. Ancient authors, it is true, mention 
chariots as being used in war as well as by persons of rank ; 
but with the exception of the great causeway constructed by 
Shah Abbas in Mazunderan, and something of the same 
nature across the Caufilan Koh, which separates Irak from" 
Azerbijan (said to have been made by the Turks while in 
possession of Azerbijan with the view of extending their 
conquests), there are no tracks calculated for such convey- 
ances. Indeed the people, when reproached with this de- 
ficiency, and reminded of the advantages of an easy inter- 
course, admit the fact, but ascribe it to national policy, and 
argue that the best encouragement to an invading foe would 
be smooth paths to facilitate his march.* 

A description of the route from Bushire to Shiraz. — that 
is, from the principal seaport of Persia to the capital of its 
most important southern province, — may give an idea of the 
general condition of such thoroughfares in that country. 
Leaving the former station, and crossing the Dushtistan with 
its huts of date-tree leaves, the traveller reaches Dalakee,f 
a considerable village situated at the foot of the mountains 
which separate the Gurmaseer, or warm climate, from the 
upper and colder plains. At this place commences a series 
of passes which cannot fail to astonish, if they do not appal, 
those who cross them for the first time. Of these the Cothul 
e Mulloo, in length about fourteen miles, is the first. A few 
furlongs from Dalakee the path begins abruptly to ascend a 
steep mountain among fragments of rock. The traveller has 

* As a contrast to this Persian argument, it is curious to find the prince 
of a petty state in Africa, who kepfhis roads in good repair, assigning as 
a reason for it, " that an enemy would be deterred from attacking him by 
this display of activity.''— See" Family Library, No. XVI. Narrative of 
Discovery "and Adventure in Africa. 

t Speaking of Dalakee, Morier (First Journey, p. 78) says, u This place, 
and indeed all we had seen, presented a picture of poverty stronger than 
words can express. There was nothing beyond what mere existence 
required, nor to our very cursory observation did the most trifling super- 
fluity present itself." 



RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 207 



sometimes to guide his horse along the slippery surface of a 
projecting ledge ; at others, suddenly climbing or as rapidly 
descending, he must thread his way among the crevices of 
huge unshapely blocks hurled from lofty peaks above, and 
which seem placed to forbid the passage either of man or 
beast. The track formed by the feet of passengers, unaided 
in the least by art, resembles the dry bed of a torrent, and 
actually passes for miles among the ruins of the overhanging 
mountains. These assume the boldest and most fantastic 
shapes ; sometimes seeming ready to close overhead, at other 
points disclosing numerous ravines and hollows, whence oc- 
casionally trickles a salt stream to pollute the clear river. 
No vegetation enlivens the gray-yellow rocks except a few 
bushes of the wild-almond ; and the grotesque forms of the 
surrounding cliffs, the peaks and masses riven from the na- 
tive mountain and standing forth in the pale moonlight — for, 
to avoid the scorching heats of day, the passage of this 
cothul is most commonly made by night — together with the 
black mysterious shadows of the deep ravines, form a picture 
which the traveller will not easily forget. The pass termi- 
nates in a very steep ascent on the breast of one of the 
highest eminences, among the fragments that have been pre- 
cipitated from its brow, at a gateway through which access 
is gained to the plain of Khist or Konar-tucht. 

The Cothul e Kumaridge, which comes next in succession, 
is scarcely less remarkable than that just described. Having 
already ascended to a considerable elevation above the plain, 
the mountains are not here so lofty, though scarcely less im- 
posing, and the path winds a great part of the way along the 
face of a precipice, where one false step would hurl the trav- 
eller into a frightful abyss. A third very rugged and nar- 
row track, though neither steep nor dangerous, called Teugui 
Toorkan, or the Turks' Defile, intervenes between Kuma- 
ridge and the valley of Kauzeroun. Eight miles beyond this 
point the road ascends another range of mountains by the 
pass of the Doochter, — a cothul so fatal to cattle that Hajji 
Mohammed Hussein, and his nephew Hajji Abdul Humeed, 
merchants whose caravans were constantly sustaining loss, 
improved some of the worst parts of it ; so that this formida- 
ble stage may now be passed with comparative security, 
though still with infinite labour. A descent from the top of 
this mountain leads into the plain of Abdui, which, together 



208 RESOURCES AS J) GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 



with great part of the surrounding country, is sprinkled with 
stunted oak-trees. The last in this singular succession of 
defiles is the Cothul e Peera Zun, or Old Woman's Pass, 
which commences about four miles farther on, and continues 
exceedingly rugged and occasionally very steep for about 
seven miles, threading over one of the highest mountains in 
this range. Though apparently less perilous than the former 
cothuls, it is said there are more animals lamed and greater 
loss incurred here than in all the others. On looking back 
from the top of the Peera Zun the valley of Kauzeroun may 
be distinguished, with the various lines of hills which have 
been passed in succession, resembling huge waves of a stormy 
sea, pointing their bare splintered crests to the southward. 
A descent of about a mile leads through thin forests of oak 
to the fine plain of Dusht e Arjun, where there is a marshy 
lake of fresh water fed by natural springs, some of them of 
great size. From thence the road to Shiraz, although in 
most parts stony and otherwise impeded, is neither steep nor 
dangerous. 

By this path all the valuable productions of India, to a 
very large amount, are annually conveyed to the chief marts 
in Persia, — and by it the returns in produce are sent to be 
shipped at Bushire. There are in the country many pieces 
of road equally bad. Indeed scarcely a day's journey can 
be made in any direction without encountering a mountain- 
pass more or less difficult. It is therefore astonishing that 
animals can be found capable of carrying burdens up such 
arduous steeps ; and nothing short of the strength and per- 
severing endurance of a Persian mule could prove equal to 
the task. 

We shall next offer a few observations regarding the popu- 
lation of Persia, — a point which appears in all ages to have 
been very greatly misconceived. Undoubtedly there have 
been periods, after some unusual duration of tranquillity, 
when the inhabitants were much more numerous than at pres- 
ent ; but we suspect they never amounted to the multitudes 
which tradition, and even history, would induce us to be- 
lieve. All native information, either as regards ancient or 
modern times, is utterly extravagant ; and the accounts of 
European travellers, as well as the conjectures of geogra- 
phers, being wholly at variance with each other, perplex 
rather than elucidate the subject Chardin estimated the 



RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 209 

number of souls under the sway of Abbas II. at 40,000,000. 
It is true, that during that reign the country was blessed with 
peace, a commerce comparatively flourishing, and had enjoyed 
a long course of prosperity under the preceding Suffavean 
monarchs ; but still the amount seems excessive. Pink- 
erton reduces the aggregate to 10,000,000, which Sir John 
Malcolm thinks a fair approximation to the truth ; though, 
after all, such conclusions rest mainly on conjectural esti- 
mates, as there are no precise data from which they can 
be derived. The author of these remarks, in a former work 
on Persia, ventured to give the numbers of a particular dis- 
trict, and the result shows but eight persons to a square mile, 
or somewhat more than 8,000,000 to the whole country. 
But as at least one-fourth of its whole superficies is nearly, 
if not totally, desert, a great deduction must be made on this 
account. On the other hand, the provinces bordering on 
the Caspian Sea, with some portions of Azerbijan, and prob- 
ably of Kurdistan, may be more thickly peopled than those 
parts of Fars to which the estimate applies ; so that the 
population, on the average during the last twenty years, may 
perhaps be taken at 7,000,000. To this must be added the 
migratory tribes of Eeliauts, of whose numbers it is impos- 
sible to form any conjecture; but taking them at from 
2,000,000 to 3,000,000, we should come, on the whole, 
pretty nearly to the same conclusion as Mr. Pinkerton, 
though on different grounds. 

The smallness of this estimate, when compared with the 
great extent of territory, may at first appear improbable ; but 
when we take into accourt the many powerful checks to 
which population is subject from the caprice of a very op- 
pressive despotism, the reader will cease to wonder at the 
want of inhabitants in a country which, to render it produc- 
tive, would require all the encouragements bestowed by a 
wise and patriotic government. 

The salutary influence of such a paternal sway has been 
frequently experienced, and there still exists evidence that 
some of the provinces must have formerly attained a high 
state of prosperity. We are told, for instance, that the 
district of Nishapour contained 14,000 villages, and was irri- 
gated by 12,000 cannauts, besides eighteen natural streams ; 
and even to this day the place is dotted i« all directions with 
the little mounds that indicate those subterranean canals, 
S2 



210 RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 



and covered in every quarter with the rains of houses. In 
like manner, the country around Ispahan, as well as that 
near Komaishah and Muxoodbeggee, taken in connexion with 
the towns belonging to them, show the great extent of ancient 
cultivation. In the time of Le Bran, the plain of Merdusht, 
which is watered by the Kour and Polwar, possessed at least 
800 villages ; the same district in 1821, according to the 
best information, could boast of no more than fifty-five miser- 
able hamlets, although the numerous channels and aqueducts 
evince the pains once taken to render it productive. In the 
days of the Suffavean sovereigns, Chardin estimated the 
population of Ispahan at from 600,000 to 700,000 persons ; 
and the town of Komaishah he describes as being three miles 
round, full of people, and in the centre of a vast fertile ter- 
ritory. The inhabitants of Ispahan m 1800, according to 
Sir John Malcolm, did not exceed 600,000 ; and notwith- 
standing the favour it experienced from the late minister 
Hajji Mohammed Hussein Khan, under whose protection 
that district of Irak long continued, it does not probably at 
this day contain half as many more. Komaishah, again, can 
scarcely reckon 600 dwellings, and overlooks a plain covered 
only with the tokens of departed affluence. 

Let us next turn our attention to the commerce of Persia. 
This has at no time been considerable ; but the deficiency 
may be attributed to the insecurity of property rather than to 
any other cause ; for many parts of the country abound in 
productions which, either in a raw or manufactured state, 
are valuable as exports. Besides, though individual princes 
have occasionally made the improvement of trade a leading 
object, the good faith of a single reign could never establish 
that confidence which had been destroyed by the acts of so 
many preceding tyrants. But commerce has also to contend 
with various natural obstacles, — the badness of the roads has 
been described, — navigable rivers are unknown, — and the 
seaports are few and unimportant. The only means of trans- 
port is on the backs of camels, mules, or small horses ; hence 
the price of all commodities becomes greatly enhanced by 
the expense of carriage. 

The principal raw exports are silk, cotton, tobacco, rice 
and grain, dried fruits, sulphur, horses, wax, and gall-nuts. 
The amount of the first three articles might be greatly ex- 
tended, and mercantile ingenuity might devise other objects 



RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 211 



of barter for foreign productions. Of manufactured goods 
Persia sends out only a few,-— -almost entirely to Russia,— 
consisting of a considerable quantity of silk and cotton stuffs, 
with some gold and silver brocade. The principal com- 
mercial intercourse is maintained with the empire just men- 
tioned, as well as with Turkey, Bagdad, Arabia, the Uzbecks 
and Turkomans on their northern frontier, and India. In 
dealing with all these countries, except the last, the balance 
of trade, as it is called, is in favour of Persia, and the excess 
in the value of her exports is returned in ducats, dollars, 
German crowns, and silver roubles. But though this influx 
of the precious metals occasions a plentiful circulation, the 
specie is quickly transported to India, in return for the large 
surplus produce brought thence annually, either by way of 
Bushire and Congoon, or of Cabul, to Herat and Yezd, and 
destined to supply the demand in the countries towards the 
west. This occasions, indeed, a transit-trade, which is of 
course maintained with advantage ; yet, on the whole, the 
commerce of the country is very limited for its extent, as 
the reader will discover from the few facts we have it in our 
power to place before him. 

la the year ending May 31, 1821, the whole amount of 
exports from Persia to India at the port of Bushire, 
according to official reports, was stated at about . £305,000 
That from Balfroosh, the great commercial mart on the 
Caspian Sea, is estimated by the merchants there to be 
annually about £215,000 ; but, in order to include the 
whole remaining exports from Ghilan. and Mazunderan, 



let it be stated at : 250,000 

Allow for exports from the smaller ports on the Persian 

Golf, including the islands, 10,000 

The commerce with Bagdad, which is' considerable, par- 
ticularly in silk, of which 12,000 mauns shahee is sent 

thither, may be taken at 200,000 

That with the rest of Turkey, including a similar quantity 

of silk, 200,000 

That with Teflis and Georgia, 200,000 

The exports to Bokhara and the states to the eastward, 50,000 

That with Arabia, . 10,000 



£1,225,000 

Thus we have a sum under a million and a quarter ster- 
ling to represent the total amount of exports from this great 
country, including the trade already mentioned from India ; 
*nor can we, in existing circumstances, hope to witness anj 



212 RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA* 



great increase. Under a liberal and steady government, the 
demand would rapidly augment for productions of every kind, 
but especially for those which Britain can best supply. Eng- 
lish cloths, muslins, calicoes, silks, hardware, and other 
articles are already sought after to an extent only limited by 
the means of the purchasers.* 

The value of imported goods is of course measured by that 
of the exports, deducting the amount of specie ; for Persia, 
having no mines of the precious metals, receives them, like 
other foreign products, by barter ; and the extent of that 
supply may be estimated by the quantity annually sent to 
India" In the year ending 31st May, 1821, the official re- 
turn of gold and silver shipped from Bu shire for India was 
34,17,994 new Bombay rupees, equal to about 290,000/. of 
sterling money. But many of the equivalent commodities 
are conveyed to the westward, whence they return in the 
shape of specie, with large profit. It is said, that about 
the time in question (1821) at least 300,000 golden ducats 
were annually brought into Tabriz by the Teflis merchants 
alone. A considerable amount in ducats and manets, or 
silver roubles, is also imported from Astracan ; and the ex- 
penses of the Russian mission are defrayed by remittances 
of the same coins ; besides which, a large value of French 
and German crowns and Spanish dollars is received from 
Bagdad for goods. Thus a considerable stream of the pre- 
cious metals flows into Persia ; and though the greater pro- 
portion passes on to the eastward, there still remains a suf- 
ficient quantity to form the currency of the country, to sup- 
ply the treasury, and furnish the hoards of a few rich indi- 
viduals throughout the kingdom. Of the gold, much continues 
to circulate in the shape of ducats, while the rest is con- 
verted into tomans. The silver is all coined into reals, the 
manets being current only in the districts bordering on Turkey 
and the Russian frontiers. 

From what has been said, the reader will be prepared to 
hear that the financial receipts of the Persian empire bear 
as little proportion to its vast territorial extent as do its com- 
merce and population. To obtain correct information on 

* At the time these notes were taken, the silks and printed cottons 
of France were fully as much in demand ; but the late improvements in 
our silk manufactures would secure us a sufficient share of the trade, 
If not a decided preference. 



RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 213 



this subject is by no means easy. We shall, nevertheless, 
endeavour to make an estimate of the shah's revenues during 
the last ten or twelve years. The principal sums arise from 
the regular taxes, termed maleyaut ; from the irregular, or 
saaderaut ; from the amount of annual presents, fines, and 
confiscations ; and, finally, from the rents of crown lands and 
buildings. In the first are comprised all imposts on land 
and cattle ; capitation-taxes ; transit-duties ; and customs 
on merchandise. The second includes all exactions of an 
irregular or occasional description, not recognised as cus- 
tomary by the law of the land. The other two explain 
themselves. 

It may be proper here to describe the rights of proprietors 
in their landed possessions ; the grounds on which they are 
held being of four descriptions : — 

1st, Khalissa, or crown lands. 
2d, Those which belong to private individuals. 
3d, Those granted to charitable or religious institutions. 
4th, Those granted by the king for military service, or in payment of 
salaries or annuities. 

All these tenures, except the last, afford to the pro- 
prietor, not being himself the occupant, the privilege of de- 
manding from the cultivator one-tenth of the produce ; the 
assignee of crown lands possessing a claim for three-tenths, 
which includes all government dues, and what he can get 
from the farmers. If the assignment be upon the estate of 
another, he can only demand two-tenths, being his own and 
the government dues. The rights of proprietors of land, upon 
whatsoever tenure, — inheritance, purchase, or gift from the 
crown, — have in all circumstances been regarded as sacred. 
And if any man reclaims waste ground by means of irrigation, 
he acquires a title to it as valid as if it had been bought. By 
the law of property, the privileges of farmers and villagers 
are equally well protected ; so that the landholder is pre- 
vented from oppressing them, or exacting more than legally 
belongs to him. 

In former times the land-tax was one-tenth part of the 
gross produce, and no other claim was made upon the ryot. 
But as the expenses of government, or the cupidity of the 
sovereign increased, the irregular taxes were gradually in- 
stituted . Cattle were the first objects of this fiscal innova- 
tion ; and duties of various sorts were afterward imposed, 



214 RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 



and increased so much that they were compounded for by 
the payment of another tenth of the gross produce. Thus 
the regular demands of the government extended to one- 
fifth ; but faith on the part of the sovereign has been so ill 
gept, that the saaderaut, though no longer assuming their 
original form, are still levied, and form the heaviest burden 
on the people. Thus live-stock, included as we have just 
seen in the compromise, are still subjected to a separate im- 
post ; and that the Eeliauts always paid this is highly prob- 
able, as they have little other property than their flocks and 
herds. 

The rates of capitation-taxes vary greatly. Armenians, 
Jews, and Ghebres especially, are heavily taxed. Shops 
and bazaars are also liable for a duty proportioned to their 
size and the manner in which they are occupied, while the 
tenant of such places also pays according to the nature and 
extent of his business. On all merchandise coming either 
by sea or land into the Persian dominions, a payment of about 
five per cent, is exigible. But there are many other custom- 
houses at which the same articles in their subsequent pro- 
gress are subjected to similar charges ; and it has been cal- 
culated that goods consigned from Trebizond to Ispahan 
would have to pay ten Persian imposts before being brought 
to the regular market. 

Of the amount of the saaderaut, it is impossible to speak 
with any degree of precision. Every extraordinary outlay 
is included under this head. The expenses of moving troops ; 
for transporting the king's equipage, baggage, or presents ; 
for furnishing supplies to the military ; the travelling-charges 
of members of the royal family, government-messengers, 
foreign ambassadors, and strangers ; repairs of roads, public 
buildings, — and every possible description of expenditure, 
from that incurred by the governor of a province down to the 
ketkhoda of a village, — are charged against the amount 
payable by each district into the treasury, and should be so 
admitted in the adjustment of accounts. But this is very 
rarely done ; and even when such an adjustment is allowed, 
the ryot is seldom benefited by it. as the sum remitted gene- 
rally finds its way into the coffers of the ministers. 

It would be equally difficult to estimate the income realized 
from gifts, fines, and confiscations. But when it is stated, 
that there are periods of the year when every one who is 



RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OP PERSIA. 215 



admitted to the sovereign's presence is expected to appear 
before him with a donation, and that on the Eed e No Roz, 
or New- Year's day, his majesty receives 1,200,000 tomans, 
some idea may be formed of the productiveness of this 
branch of finance. Having so far explained the various 
sources of revenue, we shall lay before the reader a table, 
made out according to the best information, of the nett 
amount drawn from each province : — 

Tomans. 

From Fars, collected at least .... 300,000 
Disbursed in the province . . • ... 150,000 



Sent to the royal treasury . . . . / ; 

From Kerman sent a small sum, say 

From Mekran little or nothing. 

From Khorasan nothing ; it costs money to maintain it. 
From that portion of Irak which was under the Sudrameen's 

government . . . . _ 

From Nahavund, Boorojird, Khonsar, Korrumabad, petty 

governments, nothing. 
From Senna in Kurdistan a little, say : 
From the government of Casbin, Cashan, and Zenjan, very 

little 

From the government of Yezd, about 

From Azerbijan nothing ; it costs money. 

From Mazunderan little ; it furnishes the greater part of the 

army, in lieu of revenue ....... 

From Ghilan, collected 200,000 

Less, allowed the prince's expenses . . . 40,000 



From Kermanshah nothing. 

Probable amount from land revenues ... 
Add probable amount of contingent receipts, presents, 
fines, <&c. &c. . . 1,500,000 



Irakee tomans 2,489,000 

This sum does not greatly exceed a million and a half ster- 
ling money, and forms, if our data be accurate, the whole cash 
receipts which enter the Persian treasury. 

Against this income must be placed the expenses of the 
royal family and harem, the cost of kheluts or dresses of 
honour, and the value of presents ; the salaries of such offi- 
cers as may not be provided for in the expenditure of the 
local governments ; and the payment of the gholams or house- 
hold troops. The king has 300 wives ; for it is understood 
that, notwithstanding the Mohammedan law restricting the 
number, he marries every female with whom he chooses to 



Toman* 

150,000 
50,000 

500,000 

30,000 

30 000 
54,000 

15,000 

160,000 

989,000 



216 RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 



connect himself. These, with their separate allotments of 
slaves, eunuchs, and other attendants of the household, must 
swell the charge to a formidable amount ; and besides, there 
is his majesty's personal establishment, which is said to be 
numerous and respectable ; the royal stud ; the baggage- 
cattle, and all the immense detail of the royal marching-train ; 
the repair of buildings, and furniture ; with a multitude of 
other items, which, though much may be furnished free of 
immediate outlay, and all with a due regard to economy, must 
form a serious drain upon the imperial purse. If what ha3 
been said be duly considered, and if allowance be made for 
contingencies and defalcations, we may safely conclude that 
the free revenue of Persia is extremely small, and that its 
sovereign, whatever may be his desire to accumulate, can 
scarcely amass any considerable treasure. 

We must next look to the military strength and resources 
of that country. At the time when Chardin wrote, which 
was in the days of the great Abbas, the martial spirit which 
had animated the nation was almost extinct for want of exer- 
cise ; and with it had sunk much of the real power of the 
empire. Still there was kept up a large force, — a sort of 
standing army, which had in fact been only established by 
that great prince. Previously to his reign there were no 
troops immediately paid by the crown, but each province sup- 
plied a fixed number of horsemen, which either were or were 
not effective, according to the genius of the sovereign and 
the consequent demand for their services. Besides these, 
there was the registered militia of the country which consti- 
tuted a very uncertain body, either as regarded discipline or 
numerical strength. Shah Ismael possessed no other ma- 
terials than these for his extensive conquests ; but his abili- 
ties compensated for all disadvantages. Abbas, observing the 
benefit which the Turks derived from their janizaries, with the 
view of opposing them effectually, as well as to counterbal- 
ance the dangerous power of the Kuzzilbash chiefs, raised 
two corps ; one consisting of 12,000 foot-soldiers, who, from 
the arms they used, were called tuffunchees or musketeers ; 
the other comprehending a like number of cavalry. Both 
were regularly disciplined, and paid by the crown. 

In Chardin's time these troops were still maintained ; 
and besides them a force of about 1200 gholams, on whom 
the sovereigns of Persia have at all times placed great reii- 



RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 217 



ance. There were also two smaller regiments of guards ; 
one consisting of 200 men called the Suffees, instituted by 
Sheik Suffee as body-guards in chief ; and the zeiziarees, 600 
strong, enrolled by Abbas II. This prince disbanded an 
artillery corps of 12,000 men, which had been raised by his 
great progenitor. These were all paid as formerly by the 
government. The other military force was composed of the 
Courchees, otherwise called Kuzzilbashes (or Redheads, from 
the peculiar cap they wore), who were considered as regular 
soldiers, and also of the irregular militia. The former were 
cavalry, furnished by the chiefs of tribes for grants of land in 
proportion to the number of their retainers. They were com- 
manded by the heads of their own clans, and would obey no 
other : they received a small annual pay, with provisions for 
horse and man while on service, and were hardy, robust, 
active, very efficient in predatory warfare, and in some points 
exactly resembling the Parthians, whose descendants they 
were. Their number in the early years of Shah Abbas 
amounted to 80,000 ; but the power of their leaders became 
so formidable, that he saw proper to check it by means of 
the regular corps we have described. The Courchees were 
reduced to 30,000, at which force they remained during the 
visit of Chardin. 

The militia were enrolled from among all denominations of 
the people ; they provided their own arms and clothing, and 
were maintained by their respective provinces or villages, 
receiving, when on service, a small pay from the public purse. 
They had no pretensions to discipline, obeyed only their own 
officers ; and were in fact rather a species of police than a 
body of regular soldiers. Besides these several classes, 
whose profession is arms, every man carries weapons ; so 
that the whole male population may be called into action by 
a warlike sovereign 

In fact, the military force of Persia, like that of all Eastern 
monarchies, has ever varied, both in numbers and in quality, 
with the character of the reigning monarch. Thus the troops 
of Shah Ismael, who had many formidable enemies to con- 
tend with, became almost invincible ; and the sight of his 
Kuzzilbashes struck terror into the Ottoman squadrons. A 
similar necessity produced similar results under the sway of 
the great Abbas ; which, again, being united with a restless 
spirit of conquest, raised the glory of the Persian arms to its 
T 



218 RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 

utmost height, and depressed the nation to the lowest misery, 
under the ambitious Nadir. His soldiers feared the frown of 
their leader more than the enemy's sword, and the dread 
of death was overlooked, if not despised, by all who followed 
him. 

The same familiarity with arms and danger continued 
throughout the troubles which succeeded the murder of that 
prince ; and the merciless but politic Aga Mohammed Khan 
never spared his men in the day of need, nor suffered any 
relaxation of discipline. But he was aware of the strong 
points of Asiatic warfare, and employing the tactics of his 



troops. While in Khorasan, this monarch was informed that 
the Russians had invaded his western frontier. He assembled 
his nobles ; declared his resolution to march against the 
enemy ; " and my valiant warriors," he added, " shall, by the 
blessing of God, charge their celebrated lines of infantry, and 
batteries of cannon, and cut them to pieces with their con- 
quering sabres !" All the chiefs were loud in their ap- 
plauses, and vowed to support him with their lives. When 
the assembly broke up, the king, turning to Hajji Ibrahim, 
demanded whether he marked what had been said 1 The 
minister replied that he had. " And think you that I will do 
what I told theml" — "Undoubtedly, if it is your majesty's 
pleasure." — "Hajji," said the king, half angry, "have I been 
mistaken] are you also a fool] Can a man of your wisdom 
believe I will ever run my head against their walls of steel, 
or expose my irregular army to be destroyed by their cannon 
and disciplined troops ] No, I know better. Their shot 
shall never reach me. But they shall possess no country 
beyond its range ; they shall not know sleep ; and let them 
march where they choose, I will surround them with a 
desert." 

To the usual irregular troops this monarch only added some 
unwieldy cannon, and a number of swivel-artillery, mounted 
on camels and called zumboorucks (little wasps), — a name 
very expressive of their sharp mischievous effect. 

Ihiring the present reign, which has been comparatively 
peaceful, although the warlike spirit has fled, and left to the 
troops of Persia only the name of soldiers, an attempt was 
made to introduce a more effective discipline, and even to 
organize a regular force on European principles. The signal- 




opposed more regular 



RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 219 



failure of the experiment arose, not from any deficiency on 
the part of the men, but from peculiarities in the' national 
habits, and from the indisposition or inability of government 
to incur the requisite expense. This force was confined to 
Azerbijan, and was entirely a creation of Abbas Mirza, who 
commanded in that province. In the year 1822 the particu- 
lars were as follows, and it is believed that no material altera- 
tion has taken place : — 

1 Grenadier battalion of Russian prisoners or deserters, from 

800 to 1000 

1 1 Battalions of from 600 to 800 men each, under various names 8400 



1 Regiment of lancers, Afghans 500 

1 Corps mounted artillery, about 640 

1 Troop of camel-artillery 100 

15 Corps. Men, 10,640 
At Erivan, on the frontiers, under command of the Sirdar, 
Hussein Khan,* there is 

1 Battalion of regular troops 1000 

1 Corps of reserve, little better than common lofFunchees, but 

wearing uniform 3000 

17 Corps of regulars. Men, 13,640 
Being the amount of regular forces in Azerbijan. 
Irregulars, — 

Toffunchees, to be mustered at Tabriz .... 10.000 

Cavalry of the tribes 12,000 

Kurdish horse, about 2000 

Inferior Cavalry, about 1500 

Inferior Infantry, about . 3500 

Amount of forces in Azerbijan, 42,640 

In an extreme case there might be a further muster of 

men capable of bearing arms . , . . . 8000 

Total.f 50,640 



Such is the amount of the grand army placed at the dis- 
posal of Abbas Mirza to defend the frontiers against the Rus- 
sians. But the effective force was never so great ; and the 
prince, when he took the field against the Turks in 1822, 
could barely muster 35,000 men, including a large proportion 

* A chief of some talent and still greater pre tensions,— very haughty, 
and almost independent, who lived at Erivan, and had charge of the 
frontiers. 

t The materials of this sketch were derived from British officers 
resident on the spot in 1822, and cannot be otherwise than correct as to 
that period. 



220 RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF FERSIA. 



of inferior troops. The artillery is well mounted and equipped, 
but the arsenal is deficient in all sorts of stores. In the cam- 
paign now alluded to, the gunners are said to have marched 
with not more than twenty-five rounds of ammunition made 
up for each piece ; and the other preparations in the ord- 
nance and military departments were on a scale still more 
limited. 

When the design of forming these regular corps was first 
contemplated, English officers were invited by the Persian 
government, and appointed to discipline them ; and while 
they were thus commanded, the troops on several occasions 
behaved with much steadiness. But no sooner did the peace 
with Russia take place than the soldiers, from parsimonious 
motives, were permitted to return to their homes, on the 
understanding of reassembling whenever they should be 
required ; and the higher orders remained useless appendages 
at court. On the commencement of the war with Turkey, 
as British officers could not serve against a friendly nation, 
they were almost all dismissed, leaving only a few sergeants 
to manoeuvre the horse-artillery. With the exception, how- 
ever, of the Muscovite deserters, that was the only service- 
able part of Abbas Mirza's establishment ; for the regimented 
troops, though better armed, were scarcely in other respects 
superior to the common surbauze or foot-soldiers of the 
provinces. 

The rest of the military force is maintained on the ancient 
footing. The cavalry furnished by the chiefs of tribes still 
continues good, although greatly degenerated.* A propor- 
tionate deterioration has occurred in the regular militia ; their 
equipment is bad, and little reliance can be placed on them. 
Some provinces, however, send forth better irregular infantry 
than others. Mazunderan, for instance, and Astrabad, the 
original seat of the Kujurs, pay the principal part of their 
assessment in this sort of military service, maintaining 12,000 

* " Where," exclaimed an old officer of Aga Mohammed Shah, "where 
are now those warriors whom I have seen raise their arms, rush, with- 
out once looking at the battery before them, and cut the gunners down at 
their posts ? Where are the men who would spur at their king's com- 
mand upon inevitable death, because they feared it not, or dreaded their 
master's anger yet more, and knew the reward was as certain as the 
punishment ? But now this king, who is never found in a place where 
he can witness courageous conduct, if a man risks horse and life, and 
loses the first, he makes him a present of a toman !" 



RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 221 



toffunchees, and 4000 cavalry. These are supposed to be 
always ready for actual service, though they are quietly dis- 
persed among their own villages ; and as only eight tomans 
a-year are allowed to each horseman, and a proportionately 
small pittance to the foot-soidiers, it is scarcely to be ex- 
pected that they should keep themselves in an efficient state 
of preparation. 

Nevertheless, when the king does take the field, he is said, 
in one way or other, to make up a numerical force of 100,000 
fighting-men, which, by means of camp-followers, may be 
doubled and even trebled, to the exccessive annoyance and 
loss of the districts through which they pass. In fact, they 
are always more formidable to friends than to foes, and the 
royal visits to Khorasan, which at one period were made 
every two or three years, were dreaded more than an incur- 
sion of the Turkomans or Uzbecks.* Instead of the hardy 
veterans who served under Nadir and Aga Mohammed, they 
may be described as a lawless banditti, who shun the face of 
an enemy, and think only of plunder and peculation. The 
present king has taken every possible step to crush the mar- 
tial spirit which he found existing on his accession to the 
throne. He reached the royal honours over the bodies of his 
relations and of the powerful nobles, whom the uncle destroyed 
that the nephew might reign in peace. f Nurtured in the 
school of suspicion, he cannot witness energy in his officers 
without alarm ; and this is so well known, that no chief dares 
to be brave, lest it should prove the signal of disgrace or 
destruction. 

The government of Persia has always been an absolute 
monarchy. The sovereign's word is law ; the life and prop- 

* Cochoon or Khabooshan, the d welling of Reza KouliKhan, a Kurd- 
ish chief, was a particular object of the king's displeasure. On one occa- 
sion the royal army sat down before this place, which is only defended 
by a mud wall, flanked with plenty of towers and a ditch ; but they 
effected nothing except ravaging the country and tiring an occasional 
shot into the town, by which it is averred the utmost injury done was to 
kill a dog and frighten an old woman. One day a large gun was brought 
forward to intimidate the townspeople, but only three balls answering its 
bore could be procured : two were fired in the hope of making the de- 
sired impression, and a thundering summons followed ; but the only 
result was a request that his majesty " would fire his third ball and be 
done, and leave them alone in peace." 

t Tt was a common exclamation of Aga Mohammed, on the perpetra- 
tion of any new murder, — " How much blood have lbeen forced to shed, 
that this boy," the present king, " may reign in peace !" 

T2 



222 RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 



erty of his subjects, from the highest to the lowest, are ra 
his hand ; and in exercising this power he is liable to no con- 
trol, except the fear of exciting rebellion or provoking assas- 
sination. It is, therefore, the feeble who suffer most, while 
the bold and the strong find means for their own protection. 

Equally paramount is the authority of the king in his own 
family ; and although the custom of the tribes from which 
his majesty is sprung disposes him to recognise in the son of 
his legitimate wife the successor to his crown, yet, if he 
choose, he may nominate the offspring of a slave, and secure 
the kingdom from civil broils after his own decease by de- 
priving of sight, or putting to death, the whole of his progeny 
except the heir-apparent. In the days of the SufTees such 
was often the practice. The present ruler has pursued a 
different system ; but whether it may prove a more merciful 
one in the end must be determined by events. 

The shah is thus, in fact, the government, — the nation. 
All are his servants, — his slaves ; to be raised into affluence 
and favour at his pleasure, — to be degraded and destroyed at 
his caprice, without remonstrance or appeal. " There," said 
Futeh Ah one day to the British envoy, in conversing on the 
difference between a king in England and in Persia ; " There 
stand Solyman Khan Kujur and several more of the first 
chiefs of the empire ; I can cut off all their heads if I please. 
Can I notV added he, addressing them. "Assuredly, 
Kibleh Allum ! (Point of the World's Adoration!) if it is 
your pleasure." — " Now that is real power," said his majesty, 
turning to the envoy. u But," added he, "it has no perma- 
nence : my sons, when I am gone, will fight for the crown, 
and it will fall into the hands of the best soldier." And the 
shah vas right. Secure on the throne, an able sovereign 
furnishes the spirit that pervades every part of his dominions ; 
but at his death he is probably succeeded by a prince bred in 
the harem, and taken thence, utterly inexperienced, to enter 
on the duties of government. The father's arrangements 
may, for a while, preserve the son from ruin ; but as effemi- 
nacy, profligacy, and oppression increase, discontent and re- 
bellion arise, — the fabric totters and falls, to be raised again 
into dignity by some new and hardy conqueror ; — and. thus 
each dynasty, in rapid succession, " follows the common law, 
— the unceasing round of valour, greatness, discord, degener- 
acy, and decay." 



RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 223 

\j 

Yet, unlimited as the will of a Persian king may appear, 
there are few who are more controlled by the pressure of 
affairs. Not only has he to watch against the diminution of 
his power by external aggression or internal usurpation, but 
he must sedulously discharge the more pacific duties, of which 
the most important is the distribution of justice. . 

The civil and criminal law of all Mohammedan nations is 
well known to be founded on the precepts of the Koran and 
the traditions (or Sonna) : that is, the oral commentaries and 
•sayings of the immediate successors of the Prophet.* This, 
called the Sherrah or written law, is the rule in all regular 
courts, where persons of the ecclesiastical order preside 
But in Persia there is also the Urf or customary law, which 
is administered by secular magistrates having the king as 
their head. The respective powers and privileges of these 
two branches of the judicature have always been matter of 
dispute ; and the point of precedence, or rather of preponder- 
ance, has varied with the character and disposition of the 
sovereign ; those of a strongly religious bias being inclined 
to refer all cases to the Sherrah, while others would vest the 
chief authority in the secular tribunals. 

The Sheik al Islam is the supreme judge in the Sherrah 
courts, although the great influence possessed by the Moosh- 
teheds or chief pontiffs, to whose superior knowledge defer- 
ence is always paid, might warrant their being considered as 
higher still. In every town there is such a sheik nominated 
by the king, with a salary ; and in the larger cities there is 
alsoacauzee, who has the further aid of a council of mollahs. 

The Urf is administered by his majesty in person, by his 
lieutenants, the rulers of provinces, governors of cities, magis- 
trates of towns, collectors of districts, and all the officers who 
act under them. All these are competent to hear causes and 
complaints, summon evidence, give decisions, and inflict 
punishment, according to their respective rank. And as the 
customary law is more arbitrary than the written, these judg- 
ments are more summary, and generally enforced with cor- 
responding vigour. There is, however, an appeal to the 
superior functionaries ; and it is this alone which controls the 
venality of the lower judges. Still the power of life and 
death rests with the king, who seldom delegates it, except to 

* The Sheahs exclude those of the three first caliphs, as being the 
personal enemies of Ali. 



224 RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 



princes of the blood-royal or to governors of remote prov- 
inces. 

The courts are held in public, and the monarch sits a cer- 
tain time each day, in his hall of audience, to receive peti- 
tions and decide such cases as come before him. 

According to the Koran, a thief is liable to mutilation ; but 
mercy may be exercised, if the injured party be disposed to 
forgiveness. Murder is a capital crime ; but may also be 
compounded for with the heir of the deceased, to whom the 
perpetrator is delivered to be dealt with at his pleasure. In 
the same manner personal assaults are generally compromised; 
but if not, the lex talionis, or rule of "an eye for an eye," 
or " a tooth for a tooth," may be enforced. Other delin- 
quencies are punished according to custom and precedent, at 
the discretion of the judge. Death is commonly inflicted by 
strangling, decapitation, or stabbing ; in more extreme cases, 
impalement, tearing asunder by horses or by the bent boughs 
of trees, and other cruel or frightful modes of execution, have 
been adopted. Tortures are seldom applied, unless to com- 
pel the discovery of concealed treasure. The barbarous 
practice of putting out the eyes generally atones for political 
offences, and where the sufferer either has aspired to sover- 
eign power, or is supposed likely to do so. But every page 
of Persian history abounds with horrid and disgusting in- 
stances of the abuse of torments and mutilation. 

To superintend the administration of the Urf is one of the 
most important offices of the king. Yet in a despotism so 
absolute, when the character of the monarch must form that 
not only of the government but of the nation, much more is 
requisite ; and it is to be feared that in no respect is the 
influence of the present sovereign beneficially exerted. Con- 
templating Persia neither with the eye of a patriot nor of a 
father, but rather as a property held in lease of uncertain 
duration, his only concern is how to make the most of his 
incumbency. He treats it as his conquest, and not as his 
country ; and his aim is to combine the two objects of break- 
ing down the power of all those chiefs who, under an able 
sovereign, should form the strength of the empire ; and of 
converting that power to his own aggrandizement. The 
governments of all the principal provinces have been bestowed 
upon members of his own family ; and there is scarcely a 
petty district which is not in the hands of one of its branches 
or connexions. Pursuing the usual policy of his predeces- 



RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 225 

Bors, he has filled the most important offices of state with 
persons of low rank, who possess good abilities or have re- 
commended themselves by flattery and presents. All his 
ministers are men of this description ; and thus he has 
corered the empire with a network of royal influence, which 
for the present throws much power into his hands, but is 
pregnant with the seeds of civil war and bloodshed. Family 
bonds rarely withstand the assaults of ambition ; and these 
ties among the great are easily annihilated. The aim of all 
the princes is to secure a treasure for the anticipated strug- 
gle at their father's death, — that of the parent to provide, at 
the public expense, for the actual maintenance of his children, 
and to make them collectors for his own coffers. In one 
thing their object is the same, — to wring tribute from the 
people in every possible way. The king fixes a sum to be 
remitted from each province, and this is rigidly exacted, 
independently of all fines or extraordinary demands. Gover- 
nors, therefore, force their agents to find the money ; these 
last are equally peremptory with the collectors of districts, 
who, again, press the zabuts and ketkhodahs of villages, while 
they in turn grind the ryots. Each of these officers raises as 
much beyond the sum required as will leave something in his 
own hands : thus dishonestly enriching himself, to be robbed 
whenever the arch-despot at the head of affairs shall deem it 
expedient. 

This system of extortion is by no means checked during 
its progress. The monarch has tolerably good information, 
or at all events a shrewd guess, of what goes on ; and no 
interruption is offered until the coffers of a noble are suf- 
ficiently replenished, when speedily, by false accusation, fine, 
imprisonment, or torture, his majesty appropriates the amount 
to himself. Some of the methods adopted to accomplish this 
would sound strangely in European ears. When an officer 
of state falls under displeasure, or, in other words, has ex- 
cited the royal cupidity, the culprit is frequently put up for 
sale, — his price being fixed at the sum required of him. In 
this way Aga Mohammed Shah disposed of his minister Mirza 
Shuffea, in open court, to Hajji Ibrahim, his rival. In like 
manner the reigning monarch, as is known to the writer of 
this work, exposed to sale a respectable mirza, whom he 
charged with embezzlement, threatening to put him to death 
instantly if a specific ransom were not obtained. The murder 



226 RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 



was prevented by the pledge of a high officer present, and the 
affair was compromised by a heavy fine, which was all that 
was ever intended. 

The condition of a province is rarely inquired into until 
the revenue begins to fail, or the cry of distress deepens 
into the mutterings of disaffection. The smallest expense in 
the way of public improvement is avoided ; or, if a benefac- 
tion be resolved on, the district or town where the money is 
to be laid out is sure to be made answerable for it. Even 
the palaces and royal gardens, in various parts of the coun- 
try, are not unfrequently suffered to fall into decay ; for no 
fund adequate to their maintenance has ever been provided. 
Should a mine be discovered, or a cannaut required, individu- 
als are left to undertake such operations, for the sovereign 
will do nothing ; while, if the adventurers should succeed, 
there is every probability that the concern will be wrested 
from them, unless they submit to ,such exactions as govern- 
ment may think fit to impose. Even tradesmen dread the 
attainment of celebrity in their vocations, lest they become 
objects of attention to the king or his family.* 

The only speculations prosecuted to any extent are com- 
mercial. The wants of men must be reciprocally supplied ; 
and even in Persia merchants experience a share of that pro- 
tection which is everywhere extended to them. In such 
adventures both king and nobles engage, — the former largelv, 
and doubtless with no small advantages. Their wealth being 
less tangible, and evasion more easy, traders often escape 
arbitrary impositions, but they are bv no means exempt from 
persecution. An acquaintance of the writer of these pages, 
while he lodged in a certain town, was alarmed by hearing, 

* A native of Fars. some time ago, made a considerable improvement 
In the manufacture of porcelain." His fame quickly spread until it 
reached the court, when the king immediately despatched an order, com- 
manding him to repair to Teheran to make china for the shah. Now the 
poor fellow knew, that, once there, he would have to make china not only 
for the shah, but for all his officers and courtiers,— and that, too, without 
the hope of any payment, unless it might be an occasional good beating. 
Seized with consternation, he collected as large a sum as possible, and, 
presenting it by way of bribe to the minister, besought him to report that 
he was not the* man who made the china, but that the real potter had run 
away. The business was managed according to his wish, and he 
returned penniless to h : s own country, vowing never again to make a 
bit of china, nor to attempt an improvement of any sort, as long as ho 
lived. 



RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 227 



in a neighbouring house, a sort of periodical punishment going 
on daily. Heavy blows were given ; and a person was con- 
tinually crying out, " Amaun ! Amaun ! (mercy ! mercy !) I 
have nothing! Heaven is my witness, I have nothing!'' 
Upon inquiry, he learned that the sufferer was a merchant, 
reputed to be very rich, who afterward confessed to him, that 
having understood the governor of the place was determined 
to have a share of his wealth, and expecting to be put to the 
torture, he had resolved to habituate himself to the endur- 
ance of pain, in order to be able to resist the threatened 
demands. He had brought himself to bear 1000 strokes of 
a stick, and as he was able to counterfeit great exhaustion, 
he hoped to be able to bear as many blows as they would 
venture to inflict, short of death, without conceding any of 
his money. 

The character of the reigning monarch may in a great part 
be comprehended from what has been related of his govern- 
ment. He succeeded his uncle, Aga Mohammed, in 1798 : 
he was then forty years of age. The preceding twenty had 
been passed under the shadow of his powerful predecessor. 
His earlier youth, through the tolerance of Kureem Khan,* 
had been spent in ease in Mazunderan. His mind, there- 
fore, has not been strengthened in the school of adver- 
sity, nor was it naturally of a very vigorous description. 
Viewing him as a child of fortune, habituated to the exercise 
of uncontrolled power, his dispositions are little open to cen- 
sure. For a Persian sovereign, he is neither considered 
cruel nor unjust. He is sincere in his religious professions, a 
good father, temperate, aud unstained with the disgusting 
debaucheries that disgrace so many of his subjects. He is 
by no means remarkable for personal courage, nor can he lay 
any claim to generosity. He is said to be distinguished in 
private by elegant manners, and to possess many accomplish 
ments, that of poetry being one. Others insinuate that he is 
deficient in talent, and quite unfit to be the ruler of such a 

* After the successful struggle of Kureem for the throne, when hos- 
tages were brought from the families of his opponents, Uaba Khan, then 
quite a child, was one of those sent from the Kujar tribe. The king, it is 
said, looked at him once or twice with great interest, and at length ex- 
claimed, " Why have you brought that boy ? I have no business with 
him — his head is made for a crown— send him home to his mother." He 
presented him with a khelut, horses, and attendants, and dismissed him 
to Mazunderan. 



228 RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PER8IA. 



nation, where he could not have maintained his throne a day, 
had it not been for the policy of his uncle and the peculiar 
circumstances of surrounding countries. 

But the ruling passion of Futeh Ali Shah is an insatiable 
desire of accumulating wealth, which has proved more inju- 
rious to his kingdom than all the efforts of his enemies, and 
we have already seen to what miserable expedients he stoops 
to gratify it. His avarice is in fact the jest as well as the 
bane of the people. If a fruit or a sweetmeat come early in 
season, he sends a portion to his favourites, who are obliged 
to acknowledge the honour by a valuable return, besides re- 
warding the messenger. Ke one day made 1500 tomans in 
this way, out of a rupee which he found by accident, and 
with which he purchased apples to distribute in these costly 
presents. He has a practice also of inveigling his courtiers 
into bets about his shooting, in which he is sure to gain ; for 
not only is he an excellent marksman, but the attendants take 
care, by cutting the throats of the sheep at which he has 
fired, to protect their sovereign's fame and his purse at the 
same time. 

The most degrading of his expedients to amass money is 
that of selling his daughters, and even his wives, to individ- 
uals, generally of noble rank, for large sums, and assuredly 
not always with the consent of either party. To divorce a 
wife for the purpose of selling her is directly contrary to the 
spirit of the Mohammedan law ; yet the king, though pro- 
fessing himself an orthodox Mussulman, has been guilty of 
this scandal more than once, and has fastened a spouse on 
some unfortunate man, who was forced to pay a large sum 
for an incumbrance which he was most earnestly desirous to 
avoid. 

The darkest stains on this monarch's character, however, 
are the murder of his uncle Saduk, and his ungrateful con- 
duct to his old zealous minister Hajji Ibraham. The assassi- 
nation of his relative might have been defended on the stern 
necessity of state policy ; but that could not palliate the trea- 
chery and cruelty which accompanied the act. Saduk Khan, 
unable to struggle with his nephew, had surrendered, on a 
sacred promise that he should not be put to death. The 
king confined his "victim in a room, built up the doors and 
windows, and left him to die by inches — conceiving this to 
be no violation of his oath. When the apartment was opened, 



RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 229 



it was discovered that the miserable captive had dug deep m 
the floor with his hand, arid swallowed the clay to assuage 
the pangs of hunger. 

The value of Hajji Ibraham's services had been appreciated 
by Aga Mohammed Khan, and by the mother of the present 
king ; but when the country was thoroughly settled, and 
that princess died, her son listened to accusations fabricated 
by the enemies of the minister, which the open and candid 
manner of the latter enabled them to colour with some sem- 
blance of probability. Despising their machinations, he took 
no measures for security, and was accordingly degraded and 
condemned to lose his eyes. Some expressions, reflecting on 
the king's injustice, which escaped him during the cruel opera- 
tion, being reported to his majesty, the old hajji was further 
sentenced to have his tongue cut out : he died under the tor- 
ture, and his sons and brothers were included in the proscrip- 
tion. They were all seized in the same hour, their property 
confiscated, and themselves deprived of life, or of their eyes ! 
Their supposed wealth was a powerful incentive to this ini- 
quitous procedure.* 

We shall terminate this chapter with a short account of 
the manner in which princes of the blood are brought up, 
and of the personal duties and private occupations of the 
shah. In the days of the Suffees the offspring of the king 
were immured in the harem, where their education was in- 
trusted to women and eunuchs, and until the death of the 
reigning monarch his successor was seldom known. Nothing 
can be imagined less calculated to form the mind of a prince 
on whom the happiness of millions was to depend. The 
Turkish sovereigns have followed a different, and, so far as 
it goes, a more judicious system. The royal youths do not 
remain in the harem beyond the period during which female 
attendance and maternal care are necessary. As they are 
early taught the forms of religion, at three or four years of 
age they can repeat a few short prayers, and are perfect in 
the gestures and genuflexions of Mohammedan worship, 
Great attention is paid to their observance of external de- 
corum, and the degrees of respect they are bound to pay to 

* Yet some writers have represented this monarch as "kind-hearted,'* 
" not cruel," " mild in his rule,'' &c. &c. It is said he has since been 
touched with remorse for this abominable and wholesale murder, We 
sincerely hope it is true, ( 



230 RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT OF PERSIA. 



every individual from the king downwards ; as also to the 
modes of standing, sitting, and retiring in the presence of a 
superior ; insomuch, that before attaining seven or eight years, 
they are often as perfect in manners, and as grave in their 
deportment at a public assembly, as the oldest person pres- 
ent. At this period they begin to leam Arabic and Persian, 
to read the Koran, and to be instructed in the fundamental 
tenets of the national faith. The Sheah doctrines are in- 
stilled into their minds, and an orthodox hatred of all Sonnees. 
When this has been accomplished, Persian books are placed 
in their hands, and they are conducted through a course of 
grammar, logic, sacred law, and philosophy ; acquiring gene- 
rally but a very superficial acquaintance with any of these 
sciences. Their training to martial sports and athletic exer- 
cises is better attended to, and more successful ; and even 
at seven or eight they ride with grace and boldness. Long 
previous to their arriving at manhood they are betrothed, and 
even married ; nor is it unusual for them to be the fathers 
of large families before they reach the age of twenty. At a 
much earlier period they are allowed to become their own 
masters, always paying the deference of a son and of a sub- 
ject to their father ; and their future mode of life depends 
thenceforth on their respective characters. 

The duties of religion oblige the king to rise early. Sleep- 
ing in his private apartment, where no other male can enter, 
his attendants are women or eunuchs, who, on his rising:, 
assist him to dress. He then sits an hour in the hall of his 
harem, where he holds a levee ; the inmates being mar- 
shalled with much ceremony and attention to forms of pre- 
cedency. After hearing reports regarding the regulation of 
his establishment, and holding consultations with his princi- 
pal wives (one or two of whom are onh permitted to sit in 
his presence), he is accompanied by proper officers to one 
of the kelwuts or private chambers, where he is joined by 
the princes of the blood and court favourites, who pay their 
respects to him, and with whom he enters into conversation. 
His majesty then calls for breakfast, which is brought in 
china dishes, in a covered tray sealed by the nazir or steward 
of the household, who likewise superintends the meal and 
presents each dish. The chief physician is also present to 
give his advice or assistance. 

The repast being concluded, he receives his ministers and 



Resources and government of Persia. 231 



secretaries, who make reports and receive commands. He 
next proceeds to his public levee, which is attended by the 
princes and officers of state. Here all public business is 
transacted, and rewards and punishments awarded ; the king 
expressing aloud his approbation or displeasure, as the case 
may suggest. From this meeting, which commonly occu- 
pies an hour and a half, he adjourns to a council-chamber, 
where an equal period is employed in listening to his offi- 
cers and favourites. The morning thus passed, he retires 
to his inner apartments, and occasionally indulges in a short 
repose. . * - 

A little before sunset, his majesty always makes his ap- 
pearance in the outer rooms, and transacts business ; or, if 
nothing requires his presence, he takes a ride on horseback, 
Between eight and nine he dines, with the same precautions 
that were observed at breakfast. He eats like his subjects, 
seated on a carpet, the dishes being placed on a rich em- 
broidered cloth before him, and feeds himself, in the oriental 
fashion, with his fingers. After dinner, he retires to the 
private part of the palace, where he is often amused until a 
late hour by the singers and dancers of his harem, which, 
although regulated upon the strictest system, is, and must 
always be a scene of the meanest intrigue, the darkest jeal- 
ousy, the keenest hatred, and the blackest crime. Such 
then are the monarch's personal duties, which are only in- 
terrupted by illness, urgent business, exercise on horseback, 
or the pursuit of field sports, in both of which Persians of all 
ranks delight, and can scarcely fail to excel. 



232 prfsfnt state of f f fig ion . science, 



CHAPTER IX. 

Present State of Religion, Science, and Literature in Persia, 

Sect of the Sheahs — Their Doctrines— Persians zealous Sheahs— Mo- 
hammedanism on the Decline — Causes — Suffeeism, or Freethinking 
—Principles and Tenets of the Surges— Various Classes — Sciences 
taught and professed in Persia— Fine Arts — Literature — Persian 
Poetry— Its Character— Ferdusi— Sadi— Flafiz — Abdul Rahman Janu 
—Other Poets. 

The history of a nation, it is obvious, would be incomplete 
without some account of its religion. But the original faith 
of the Persians has already been explained, and the rise and 
nature of Islam is so fully treated in another part of this 
Library,* that we shall here only advert to those articles of 
their creed where it differs from that of other Mohammedan 
states, and point out some of its chief peculiarities. 

Of all the sects which arose to divide the followers of the 
Arabian impostor immediately after his death, the principal 
was that of the Sheahs or adherents of Ali. These, deny- 
ing the right of the three first caliphs and all their successors 
to the pontificate, hold that of their master as indefeasible. 
They do so upon four distinct grounds ; 1st, As being the 
earliest convert to the faith ; 2d, On his nearness of kin to 
Mohammed, whose cousin he was ; 3d, On his marriage with 
Fatima, the Prophet's daughter ; and, 4th. On the declared 
will of the lawgiver himself, that Ali should be his successor. 
Thus the Sheahs contemn the four pillars of the Sonnee faith 
(as the four doctors, Hanifa, Malec, Shafei, and Hanbal are 
termed), repudiating their dogmas, and holding their names 
in abhorrence. They maintain the right ol Hassan and 
Hossein, the sons of All, as the proper heirs of the caliphate, 
and honour them and their twelve immediate descendants 
with the appellation of high-priests or imams. Of these last 

* See Family Library, Nos LXVIII and LXIX Arabia, Ancient and 
Modern, vol i p IIS 



AND LITERATURE IN PERSIA. 233 



Imam Medhee is considered to be still alive, though con- 
cealed (Ghaib), so that no other can claim the title or possess 
the office. They imprecate maledictions on Abu Beker, 
Omar, and Othman, and especially detest Moawiyah and 
Yezid, as the more immediate instruments of the death of 
the Prophet's relatives. They observe as solemn fasts the 
days on which the progeny of Ali were murdered, and curse 
with tears and bitter revilings the memories of his assassins.. 

Besides these fundamental points of difference, there are 
between the Sheahs and Sonnees several minor grounds of 
variance, relating to forms of worship and civil usages, which 
it would be tedious to particularize. Mutual exasperation 
prevails ; but, on the whole, the first are the more tolerant, 
perhaps because they are the weaker body, for they look on 
their opponents as erring brethren, yet still as believers in 
the true faith ; while the Sonnees, with the arrogance of 
power, regard them as vile heretics, and worse even than 
Christians. 

Among the Persians, who are zealous Sheahs, as well as 
among the Mohammedans in general, their religion has lost 
nearly all that may originally have been valuable, and has 
been perverted by fanaticism, venality, and designing hypoc- 
risy, into a despicable superstition, fit only to enthral and 
brutalize the nation. The reverence which the founder of 
Islam claimed as the last of a long line of prophets, has grown 
into a species of devotion that confounds the Deity and his 
apostle, and has even been extended to many of his learned 
or pious successors. Themselves have been canonized as 
saints ; their garments and relics have been invested with 
an imaginary sanctity, and their tombs with miraculous power 
The Sheahs have of all others probably shared deepest in 
these absurdities. Not satisfied with the prescribed pilgrim- 
ages to Mecca, to Meshed Ali, and Kerbelah, they flock to 
Mushed and Koom ; to the tombs of Imam Reza and his 
sister Fatima ■ to Ardebil, where lie interred the first of the 
Suffees ; and to hundreds of other places, with still less 
reason ; for there is scarcely a village in Persia without its 
imamzadeh, to which there is a greater or less resort in pro- 
portion to the celebrity of the saint. 

The religion of Mohammed, in truth, seems everywhere 
on the decline. The zeal which flamed so fiercely in its 
early champions, and so rapidly consumed every thing within 



234 PRESENT STATE OF RELfOtON, ^CIEjNOK, 



its reach, has now burnt low ; there are neither countries 
nor minds to be subjugated ; and the might of its princes is 
withered. Reason and knowledge have begun to assert their 
authority ; and, while Christianity spreads every day more 
extensively, the Koran experiences a rapid diminution of 
adherents. Of this decav there is no cause more powerful 
than the progress of infidelity- Among the Sheahs unbe- 
lievers are numerous ; and there is a class known bv the 
name of SufTees, whose tenets are peculiar, and who have 
frequentlv exercised a singular influence on the political as 
well as the religious condition of Persia. 

The origin of Suffeeism may be traced to the aspirations 
of an enthusiastic temperament, which disposes to abstruse 
metaphysical inquiry. Dissatisfied with existing opinions, 
minds so constituted presumptuously plunge into that ocean 
of mystery whose shores are wisely hid from human investi- 
gation. Wearied with fruitless search, the more prudent 
retreat in time ; but the weak too often yield in the struggle, 
and become a prey to the hallucinations of insanity. P Suf- 
feeism," observes the historian of Persia, * : has excited in 
one shape or other in every age and region ; its mystical 
doctrines are to be found in the schools of ancient Greece, 
and in those of the modern philosophers of Europe. It is 
the dream of the most ignorant and the most, learned, — is to 
to be found in the palace and the cottage, — in the luxurious 
city, and in the pathless desert. It every where professes 
to be averse to error and superstition, but exists by the active 
propagation of both.*' In India this visionarv creed has most 
extensively prevailed ; the habits of the nation and character 
of their religion encourage the spirit of holy abstraction in 
which it is founded ; and it probably spread thence to other 
nations. Thus the philosophy of Pythagoras, of Plato, of 
Epicurus, and their followers, may all be traced to the tenets 
of the Indian Bramins ; and we learn from Mohammedan 
authors, that these enthusiasts existed at the earliest period 
of Islam.* 

The doctrines of Suffeeism, f in so far as they can be re- 
* Malcolm's Persia, vol. ii. p. 331 

t The term SufTee, which in Persia is synonymous with Dorweish 
(the Dervise of English authors", has been derived from Saaf, pure, 
clean, — or Sulfa, purity, — others suppose from Soft, the coarse woolien 
cloak in which the early ascetics were clothed — hence Suffi ; but the con- 
jecture that it may have been adopted from tile Greek T.o(pai, wise men, 
se^rns at least as probable as either of the others. 



AND LITERATURE IN PERSIA. 237 



duced to definite terms, appear to be as follows : — The 
Almighty Creator of the Universe, say they, is diffused 
throughout creation. The essence of his divinity, emanating 
from him continually as rays from the sun, vivifies all nature, 
and is as continually reabsorbed. They believe the souls 
of men to be scintillations of this essence — of God, not from 
God, and therefore of an equality with Him. They repre- 
sent themselves as constantly engaged in searching after 
truth, and admiring the perfections of the Deity. An ardent 
but mystical love of the Creator, which frequently breaks 
forth in the most, extravagant manner and towards the most 
extraordinary objects, in which they fancy the divine image 
to be reflected, is the soul of their creed, and reunion with 
Him their ultimate object ; to have " the corporeal veil re- 
moved, when the emancipated soul will mix again with the 
glorious essence from which it has been separated, but not 
divided."* 

But the method of accomplishing this great end is ar- 
duous, and four principal stages are described through which 
the aspirant must pass ; and during the pilgrimage it is in- 
dispensable that he should pay absolute submission to the 
mandates of his heavenly guide. The first, Nasoot, that of 
Humanity, requires perfect obedience to all the observances 
of the established religion, as a useful discipline to prepare 
for advancing to the second stage. This is termed Tur- 
reekat or the Path ; in his course to which he gains strength 
to acquire more exalted eminence, and is admitted within 
the pale of Suffeeism. The disciple may now abandon prac- 
tical for spiritual worship ; but at this point he has also 
reached a more laborious and thorny part of his journey, 
which can only be safely trodden by those who distinguish 
themselves by piety, virtue, and fortitude. Led by a suitable 
teacher, the youngr SufTee in due time attains the third very 
important step, which is that of Aruf or Knowledge, when 
he is held to be inspired and equal to the angels. The 
fourth, Hukeekut or Truth, implies his perfect union with the 
Deity. 

The multitude of discordant opinions, which the study of 
subjects so undefined necessarily gives rise to, has produced 
an infinite variety of sects in Suffeeism. To ., enumerate 



* Malcolm's Persia, vol. ii. p, 386 



238 PRESENT STATE OF RELIGION, SCIENCE, 



them all would be equally tedious and uninstructive ; but we 
shall mention two which are considered as most important. 
The Hulooleah, or inspired, maintain that God has entered 
into them, and that the Divine Spirit is breathed into all who 
possess an intelligent one. The Itahedeah or Unionists be- 
lieve that God is as one with every enlightened being. They 
compare their souls to charcoal, the Almighty to flame ; and 
say, that as charcoal uniting with flame becomes flame, so 
their immortal part, from its union with God, becomes God 
Mohammedan SufTees contend that the Prophet professed 
.heir peculiar doctrines.* Even the Patriarch Abraham is 
declared by them to have been one of their sheiks or J 
caliphas, as their principal and most venerated teachers are 
called. The Persians of this order deem Ali, his sons, and 
all the twelve imams, to have been supporters of their creed ; 
and assert that many of their eminent confessors derive their 
title to the keerkah, or sacred mantle, from these sources. 
The dignity of calipha, or chief instruct er, is only to be 
acquired by the most painful perseverance in fasting and 
prayer, — complete abstraction from all worldly pursuits. The 
man may die before the saint can be born, and many accord- 
ingly perish in endeavouring to reach the third stage, the 
attainment of which is requisite for a teacher, and which ele- 
vates him to the rank of angels. Solitude, prayer, and almost 
total abstinence for forty days, during which the aspirant 
maintains a contemplative posture with invincible patience, 
is but the initiatory trial; for, after " the living skeleton 
walks forth," he has years of probation scarcely less intoler- 
able. to endure : but the prize is great, and supports the faint- 
ing weakness of human nature. The c&i.o^a in his turn 
enjoys the reverence of mankind ; the absolute and submis- 
sive devotion of his disciples ; and when the period of his 
reunion with the Creator arrives, he bequeaths his mantle to 
the most deserving of his followers. This fasting and ab- 
straction, obviously derived from the practice of Hindoo 
ascetics, has not been permitted to degenerate into the hor- 

* This assertion is made on the authority of a tradition, according to 
which Mohammed indicated the four stages of Suffeeism. The law ca- 
nonical is compared to a vessel ; the road, or path, is the sea ; knowledge 
of Divine things is as the shell ; and knowledge of the Divinity as the 
pearl. But he who would obtain the pearl must first embark in tna 
vessel Malcolm's Persia, vol. ii p 393 



AND LITERATURE IN PERSIA. 239 



rible austerities of the Braminical fanatics. The real learn- 
ing of many Suffees appears to have elevated their doctrine 
above such superstitious observances. The finest poets of 
their times and country were among their most distinguished 
teachers ; for " poetry is the very essence of Suffeeism, and 
the works of the moral Sadi, the divine Haflz, the celebrated 
Jami, and the sweet- tongued Mollah of Roum, may be 
termed the Scriptures of Suffeeism. " The doctrines they 
profess to inculcate are piety, virtue, benevolence, forbear- 
ance, abstemiousness ; although the terms in which these 
lessons are conveyed might startle the Christian reader, and 
induce him to imagine he was perusing an exhortation to 
sensuality and profligacy. 

Zeal and enthusiasm are the characteristics of the true 
Suffee ; and he is ready to perish for his opinions : those 
who thus suffer are accounted martyrs, and many fables are 
related of them. One, who had been flayed alive for having 
raised a dead person to life, persisted in walking about, car- 
rying his own skin on/ his arm, soliciting the food which the 
Faithful were prohibited from bestowing on the excommuni- 
cated saint ! 

This school of philosophers are strict predestinarians ; 
many of whom disclaim the existence of evil, and consider 
the opposite opinion as an impious arraignment of the perfection 
of God. Others admit the evil, but deny the free agency of 
man ; replying to all questions in the words of Hafiz : — 
" My destiny has been thrown into a tavern [this sinful world] 
by the Almighty: tell me then, oh teacher, where is my 
crime]" They reject, according to some, the doctrine of 
rewards and punishments, as incompatible with their funda- 
mental tenet of reabsorption into the divine essence ; yet cer- 
tain sects promise to the virtuous a purer bliss than the sen- 
sual paradise of Mohammed, and condemn the wicked to the 
horrors of a terrible but visionary hell. 

Suffeeism, in short, presents itself in an infinity of shapes, 
according to ihe genius of its professors : it is the supersti- 
tion of the freethinker, and is often assumed as a cloak to 
cover entire infidelity. Like skepticism in general, it attacks 
all existing religion, and unsettles belief without offering any 
substitute on which the harassed soul might lean. It in- 
flicts the mischief, but refuses the remedy ; and, in fact, the 
most profligate disturbers of the peace of mankind have shek> 



240 PRESENT STATE OF RELIGION, SCIENCE, 



tered themselves under this and synonymous names. Hus- 
sun Subah and his assassins were a race of Suffees ; so 
were the Roushuneah of Bayazeed, who interrupted the tran- 
quillity of Akbar's reign, and struck a blow which was felt 
on the throne of Delhi ; and Persia has more recently been 
agitated by the followers and successors" of Meer Maasoom 
Ali.* The Sheah faith, as professed in that kingdom, has in 
truth contracted, from its connexion with the ancestors of 
the Suffavean race, a tinge of this heresy which favours the 
spread of their doctrines ; nor are these likely to be checked 
by the character of the orthodox religion. It has been con- 
jectured that there are between 200.000 and 300,000 pro- 
fessed Suffees in the country ; but this probably falls greatly 
short of the number who are secretly inclined to infidelity. 

A short space will suffice for all that we can say regarding 
the sciences, arts, and literature. Before the Mohammedan 
conquest the subject is a blank ; for nothing remains to ena- 
ble us to judge of the literary attainments of the ancient 
Persians. Little, indeed, is to be expected from the profes- 
sors of a faith, whose early champions declared all learning 
useless beyond what the Koran contains, and who, in latter 
days, have scrupulously avoided all intercourse with thode 
who could ha\e increased their knowledge. 

Among the sciences most cultivated are those of astronomy, 
judicial astrology, metaphysics, logic, mathematics, and 
physic. In the first their efforts are contemptible ; their 
theories, founded on the Ptoleniaean system, with strange 
additions of their own, are utterly useless, unless it be to aid 
their still more childish dreams in astrology. Xo Persian 
will undertake the most trivial affair, far less any enterprise 
of moment, without consulting a professor of this delusive art ; 
and when a mirza or a mollah has once established his repu- 
tation as an astrologer, he is in the sure way to become rich 
Should a lucky day arrive before a traveller is ready for hi* 
lournev, he leaves home, though he should remain for weeks 
in some incommodious lodging till his preparations are corn- 

* Persecuted by Shah Hussein and his priesthood, this teacher was 
subsequently tolerated by Kureem Khan, who was, however, at length 
forced to banish him from" Shiraz. After the death of the latter monarch 
he emerged from obscurity, and began anew to propagate his doctrines. 
Severely checked by All Mourad Khan, he was forced to fly to Cabul ; 
the ruler of which, "dreading his dangerous influence, drove 'him back to 
Persia, where he was slam near Ksrmanshah. 



AND LITERATURE IN PERSIA. 



241 



plete ; satisfied that the favourable influence of the stars has 
been secured by making the move at the proper conjuncture. 
An ambassador about to proceed to India was induced by 
the representations of the Wise Men, although the ship in 
which he was to sail was not ready, not only to leave a com- 
fortable dwelling at Bushire and occupy a tent on the hot 
sands near it, but even to cause the wall of the town and 
several houses to be penetrated, that he might depart with- 
out facing a most malignant, though invisible, constellation, 
which would otherwise have blasted the success of his mis- 
sion. m ■ ' , - 

Their metaphysics and logic are scarcely less puerile. 
The first consists of little more than a collection of disputa- 
tious sophisms, turning on wild and unprofitable paradoxes ; 
the second, in an ingenious method of playing upon words, 
the object not being so much to arrive at truth as to display 
quickness of mind and readiness of answer in the discus- 
sion of plausible hypotheses. Geography is no better un- 
derstood. Their knowledge of countries and their relative 
positions is extremely confused ; nor can they lay down with 
any exactness even those places or regions with which they 
are most familiar. 

Mathematics, although they are not much more bene- 
ficially applied, are taught on better principles ; for the Per- 
sians are acquainted with the works of Euclid. Chymistry 
is unknown ; but alchymy is a favourite study, and the search 
after the philosopher's stone continues an eager pursuit. The 
adepts work with no less secrecy and hope than their deluded 
brethren used to do in the West ; nor are the frauds they com- 
mit on credulous and wealthy dupes less palpable or noto- 
rious. 

In their knowledge of medicine they are still deplorably 
deficient. They declare themselves pupils of Galen and 
Hippocrates (called by them Jalenoos and Bocrat) ; but their 
practice is a mixture of the most wretched empiricism, with 
the exhibition of a few simples, the qualities of which expe- 
rience has taught them. They classify diseases into four 
divisions, — hot, cold, moi«t, and dry, — and this in the most 
arbitrary manner on no apparent principle. They combat 
each disease by an application of an opposite tendency,* the 

* A gentleman in India, whose servant was unwell, consulted a native 
physician. "Sir," said the doctor, "the patient's illness arises from 

X 



242 PRESENT STATE OF RELIGION, SCIENCE, 



virtues of the remedy being as vaguely determined as the nature 
of the disorder. They are totally ignorant of anatomy, and 
unacquainted with the circulation of the blood ; so that their 
proficiency in surgery is no greater than their knowledge of 
medicine ; and when patients recover under their hands, it is 
to be attributed to soundness of constitution rather than to 
any ability of treatment on the part of the professional 
attendant. 

Though they admire the skill of Europeans, they adhere 
obstinately to their own practice ; and all the persuasion of 
the medical gentlemen who accompanied the British embas- 
sies, from the year 1800 to 1810, were insufficient to estab- 
lish vaccination, although the ravages of the small-pox are 
often dreadful. In cases where calomel would, in the opin- 
ion of the English physicians, have saved many lives, they 
persevered in resisting its use, as a remedy which, being hot 
in itself, could not be advisable in a hot disease ; ice and re- 
frigerating draughts were given in preference, which cooled 
many effectually. Yet they have discovered a method of 
quickly affecting the system with mercury, by causing the 
patient to inhale, through the common calleeoon, or water- 
pipe, a lozenge made of cinnabar and flour. 

There are persons, among the tribes particularly, who pre- 
tend to hereditary powers of curing certain distempers. Sir 
John Malcolm mentions a chief named Hedayut Kouli Khan, 
who banished agues by tying his patients up by the heels 
when the periodical attack was approaching, applying the 
bastinado severely, and abusing them bitterly all the time, — 
a process which, he asserted, produced "heat and terror, in- 
stead of a cold fit." 

The profits of science are confined to those who enjoy a 
name for high proficiency in divinity, astrology, and physic ; 
but the latter is miserably paid. The two former, when com- 
bined, thrive best. 

In the fine arts, the Persians have little to boast of ; but 
there is reason to believe, that in former ages their skill was 
much superior to what it is at present. Nor is it to be won- 
dered that excellence in any department should be rare, 
when the professor runs the risk of being ordered to labour 

sixteen different causes ; now in this pill, which I mean to give, there 
are sixteen different ingredients, 60 arranged tbat each will operate 
upon ius respective cause, and thus cure your servant." 



AND LITERATURE IN PERSIA. 243 



without payment for the king or governor to whom his ac- 
quirements might first become known. In painting and 
sculpture it is next to impossible they should ever become 
adepts, as, in the first place, they possess no models to imi- 
tate, and, in the second, it is repugnant to the Mohammedan 
faith to make representations of the human form.* When 
we do meet with any such attempt, as in the delineations of 
battles or hunting-pieces,! the total absence of all knowledge 
of drawing and perspective renders the effect ludicrous, if 
not disgusting. Inkstands and small boxes are made at 
Shiraz and Ispahan, and adorned with painting, chiefly of 
birds and flowers, and occasionally of beautiful girls and boys, 
finished with an accuracy which, under better direction, might 
be successfully exerted for nobler purposes. The stone and 
seal cutters of the same city are famous for the excellence of 
their workmanship. Cashan is known for its manufacture of 
lackered tiles, which ornament many of the gorgeous domes 
and minarets in Persia. Coarse china and glassware are 
made in various places. The swordblades of Herat, Mushed, 
and Shiraz, are highly esteemed, as well as their other work 
in steel ;f and gold and silver brocade, with silks of consid- 
erable beauty, are produced in many parts of the country. 

The literature of Persia is chiefly confined to works on 
theology and polemics. There are indeed rude treatises on 
the sciences of which we have made mention, as well as 
works on history, poetry, and romance ; but little improve- 
ment in any of these branches has been made for centuries. 
Neither bard nor historian has appeared in these latter days 
like those who adorned the age of the Ghiznevides, the Sel- 
jucides, the Attabegs of Fars, or of Sultan Hussein Baicara. 
It would be vain to attempt an account of all the native an- 
nalists ; yet, while merely glancing at the subject, it would 
be unpardonable to pass in silence the works of Meerkhond 
and Khondemir, — the Rozat al Suffa and the Kholausut ai 
Akbar, — the Habeeb al Seyer, the Zeenut al Tuareekk, the 
Tareek e Gozeideh, the Tareek e Tabri, the Tareek e Timur 
of Shereef u Dien Ali, which, with many others of scarcely 

* Of late years, however, there have been numerous deviations from 
this rule. 

t There are some better pictures than usual in the palace of the Chehel 
Sittoon at Ispahan. 
| This steel is all imported from India. 



244 PRESENT STATE OF RELIGION, SCIENCE, 



less note, form the groundwork of their modern history. 
Though at times the style of these writings may be flowery 
or hyperbolical, and in other instances meager and confined 
to a detail of facts, yet the authors generally narrate with 
accuracy events within their own knowledge and are free 
from political prejudices, except when recording the actions 
of their sovereigns or patrons. 

It is in poetry that the Persians chiefly excel ; and thev 
can produce the names of a greater number of eminent 
authors in this department than any nation of the East.* 
From the highest to the lowest they possess an exquisite 
relish for the beauties of such compositions : not only do 
mirzas and upper servants repeat whole poems, — the very 
horsekeepers and muleteers will thunder out a passage from 
Ferdusi, or chant an ode from Hafiz ; and if you venture to 
find fault with your tent-pitcher, it is ten to one but he re- 
plies with a stanza from Rudiki, or a moral apophthegm from 
Sadi. 

Their poetry may be divided into epic and narrative, moral 
and lyric. Of the first class Ferdusi must be held as the 
father, although Munsoor Dukiki did compose about 1000 
verses of the Shah Nameh.f The name of the former, the 
Homer of Persia, has already occurred in these pages as the 
author of the earliest epic and historical poem in the lan- 
guage. It consists, indeed, of a consecutive series of narra- 
tives, descriptive of the history of the country for 3700 years, 
from the most ancient period, down to the Arabian conquest. 
The whole contains 60,000 couplets, and '-is longer,'' says 
Sir William Jones, " than the Ilaid : the characters in it are 
various and striking, the figures bold and animated, and the 
diction everywhere sonorous, yet noble, — polished, yet full 
of fire. ? ' "In this work," says Sir J. Malcolm, "the most 
fastidious European reader will meet with numerous passages 
of exquisite beauty ; the narrative is generally very perspicu- 
ous, and some of the finest scenes in it are described with 
simplicity and elegance of diction. To those whose taste is 

* Sir William Jones mentions a MS. in Oxford which contains the 
lives of 135 of the finest Persian poets, who have left very ample collec- 
tions of their works,— but the versifiers are. he says, without number. 

t It seems doubtful whether Ferdusi availed himself of the labours of 
his predecessor. We are told by Feristha, however, that, in consequence 
of illness. Ferdusi was assisted in one part by Asidi, who composed 4000 
verses. 



AND LITERATURE IN PERSIA. 245 



OiTended with hyperbole, the tender parts of his work will 
have most beauty, as they are freest from this characteristic 
defect -of Eastern writers." 

Among those who rank next to Ferdusi in the same style 
of writing, may be mentioned Nizami, who composed a life 
of Alexander the Great with much genius and richness of 
imagination. This poem is by some considered as a mus- 
navee, — a term generally applied to narratives descriptive of 
the charms of love or of the spring ; and among these are 
placed poetic romances, such as the Yussuff and Zuleika of 
Jami ; another on the same subject by Ferdusi ; the Leilah 
and Mujnoor of Hatifi ; that of Khoosroo and Shireen ; and 
many others, which are read and recited with rapture all 
over Persia. 

" Among the didactic poets of Persia," remarks Sir John 
Malcolm, " Sadi certainly ranks the highest." His Goolestan 
and Bostam abound in beautiful maxims and fine moral pre- 
cepts. Sadi, or, as from his rank as a Suffee teacher he was 
commonly called, Sheik Sadi, was born at Shiraz (A. D. 
1194). He early became enamoured of a wandering life ; 
and there were few countries of Asia which, in the course 
of his travels, he did not visit. While in Syria he was taken 
by the Crusaders, and actually compelled to labour as a slave 
at the fortifications of Tripoli. From this condition he was 
relieved by a merchant of Aleppo, who not only paid ten 
golden crowns for his ransom, but gave him his daughter, 
with a dowry of a hundred. The lady, however, proved a 
shrew ; and Sadi, in several parts of his works, gives vent 
to the chagrin which his marriage had occasioned. Among 
other insults, she is said to have mentioned as a reproach, 
that her father had bought him from the Christians for ten 
crowns. " Yes," replied the unhappy moralist, with a sigh, 
" and sold me to you for a hundred." 

There is recorded an interesting rencounter between the 
sheik and Humam Tabrizee, a contemporary poet of some 
celebrity. They met accidentally in a bath at Tabriz, with- 
out knowing each other ; but entering into conversation, Hu- 
mam became aware of the birthplace of his companion, and 
at the same time declared himself a native of the city where 
they then were. A trial of wit took place, when the latter, 
observing the baldness of his companion, — a personal pecu- 
liarity very common among his countrymen, — rallied him on 



246 PRESENT STATE OF RELIGION, SCIENCE, 



it. " Whence comes it," said he, presenting the round- 
shaped ewer used in ablutions, and turned upside down ; 
" whence comes it that all you Shirazees have heads like 
this]" — "And how comes it," replied Sadi, presenting his 
own vessel, and pointing to its empty cavity, M that all you 
Tabrizees have heads like this V On retiring from the bath 
they entered into some further discourse ; m consequence of 
which, the Tabrizian recognised in the stranger the cele- 
brated Sheik Sadi, and lavished upon him both kindness and 
honours. 

Sadi died in his native city, at the extreme age of 120 
lunar, or 116 solar years. His tomb is still to be seen near 
the place of his birth, in a small imarut, or mosque-like edi- 
fice within an enclosure, which also contains some fine fir- 
trees and a few cypresses. 

It is difficult to class the candidates for poetic fame in 
those mystic and lyrical productions, in which this nation has 
in all ages delighted. The odes of Hafiz have obtained ce- 
lebrity beyond the sphere of Eastern literature ; and the 
poetry of our own language has been enriched by some beau- 
tiful translations from his works. Shiraz claims also the 
honour of giving birth to this, the sweetest bard of Persia. 
He flourished in the age of Tamerlane, who, when he came 
to the place where he dwelt, after the defeat of Shah Man- 
sour, desired to see and converse with him. With feigned 
or real displeasure, the monarch demanded how he dared to 
make so free with his two noble cities of Samarcand and 
Bokhara, which, in a beautiful stanza,* he professed he 
would give for a mole on the cheek of his mistress. " Can 
the gifts of Hafiz ever impoverish Timur]" was the reply; 
which changed the conqueror's wrath into admiration, and 
elicited reward instead of punishment. 

The poetry of this writer has been pronounced by most 
Persian scholars to be of a singularly original character, — 
simple and unaffected, yet possessing a wild and peculiar 
sublimity. The suddenness of his transitions from the joys 
of love and wine to reflections on the instability of human 
felicity are beautiful, and in this respect greatly resemble the 
odes of Horace. There are few lyrical effusions which can 

* This well-known ode, beginning " Agur een Toork i Shirauzee," has 
been beautifully but freely translated by Sir William Jones. 



AND LITERATURE IN PERSIA. 247 



bear translation, and thus it must be difficult for an Eno-Hsh 
reader to comprehend the merits of Haflz ; but in his own 
land he is fully appreciated ; and perhaps no poet of any- 
country ever attained greater popularity among those for 
whom he wrote than the celebrated Khaujeh of Shiraz. 

The mortal remains of the bard rest near the city whose 
praises he sang so sweetly, not far from the tomb of Sadi ; 
like which, it is situated in a small enclosure. It continues 
to this day a frequent resort of his countrymen, who repair 
thither to recite his odes under the shade of the cypresses 
that rise around it, and who appeal to the pages of their fa- 
vourite poet for an omen* of success in all their important 
undertakings. 

Next to Hafiz in celebrity may be placed Abdul Rahman 
Jami, so named from the village where he lived in the reign 
of Sultan Hussein Baicara. He was a celebrated doctor of 
laws, but not less a determined Suffee ; and his Divan, or 
collection of odes, which are remarkable for their sweetness, 
is greatly esteemed by these enthusiasts. We have already 
noticed his romance of Yussuff and Zuleika. We may add, 
that his wit was equal to his poetic genius, while the aptness 
of his repartees, and the success with which he repressed 
the vanity of boasters, are still mentioned with admiration. 
A poet, who had obtained some praise at a competition of 
authors, was relating the various happy replies he bad made : 
— "Thou -hast answered well to-day," said Jami, regarding 
him with coldness, " but hast thou thought of what thou shalt 
answer to-morrow V To-day and to-morrow, in the mystic 
language, signify this life and the next. 

We shall dwell no longer upon the names of Persian poets, 
of whom the works of Nizami, Omar, Keyoomi, Oorfi, Ru- 
diki,f and a hundred others, might be cited as high examples 
of genius. We are not, however, to imagine, that all of them 
would convey pleasure to the refined taste of Europe. They 
contain many beautiful thoughts, and their diction is fre- 

* The works of Hafiz are used, as well as'the Koran, for taking out a 
fal or omen, after the manner of the Sortes Virgilianae. 

t So powerful was the genius of Rudiki, that, though born blind, he at- 
tained the highest rank and respect at the court of Nazir Samani, third 
of the race. His establishment was placed on a level with that of the 
first nobles ; and we may judge of its magnificence, if we can believe 
that when he attended his patron in the field he was served by 200 slaves, 
and his equipage was carried by 400 camels. 



248 PRESENT STATE OF RELIGION, SCIENCE, ETC. 



quently mellifluous and expressive ; but these excellences 
are constantly disfigured by extravagance and bombast ; while 
the mind is fatigued by the repetition of metaphors and sim- 
iles, which are often miserably poor. "Yet notwithstanding 
all these defects," observes an Eastern traveller and scholar,* 
" if the end of poetry be to please, the Persian poets are emi- 
nently successful ; nor will I believe that any one who really 
understood Hafiz, ever laid aside his book without having re- 
ceived much satisfaction from the perusal of his odes." 

In the present day, this species of writing appears to have 
suffered the fate of all other things in Persia. 11 The poets," 
says the historian of that country, " are still greater flatterers 
than the astrologers. The great majority are poor, and from 
their numbers it is quite impossible it should be otherwise. 
Every person of moderate education may, if he prefer a life 
of idleness to one of industry, assume the name of bard, and 
the merest rhymer receives some respect from the honoured 
appellation. While some chant the wonderful deeds of the 
king or principal chiefs, or compose collections of odes 
(divans) on the mystical subject of Divine love, others are 
content with panegyrizing the virtues, wisdom, bravery, and 
discernment of those who bestow their bounty upon them, 
or allow them a place at their table ; they make epigrams to 
amuse their patrons, and are ready either to recite their own 
verses, or to show their knowledge by quoting the finest pas- 
sages in the works of others ; the facilities of education at 
the numerous medressas (colleges), and the indulgence 
which the usages of these seminaries invite, produce a 
swarm of students, who pass their useless lives in indolence 
and poverty."! 

* Mr. Scott Waring. See his " Tour to Sheerauz," page 235. 
t Malcolm's Persia, vol. ii. p. 550. 



DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER. 249 



- CHAPTER X. 
Description and Character of the Persian People. 

Classes of the Population— Courtiers and Officers of State— Their pre- 
carious Condition— Gholams— Inhabitants of Towns— Merchants — 
Ecclesiastical Order— Husbandmen— Women — The Royal Harem — 
Occupations— Wandering Tribes— Indigenous — A rabian— Turkish — 
Kurdish— Characters and Anecdotes of these tribes— Turkoman 
Tribes — General Characier of the People — Their Manners and Cus- 
toms, i • ; 

The character and manners of a people are ever greatly 
influenced by their government. When that is well regu- 
lated, a corresponding consistency and order pervade their 
habits ; but under despotic sway, where they only reflect the 
qualities of the ruler, their dispositions vary with that of the 
reigning prince. Hence the difficulty of giving a portrait of 
the inhabitants of a kingdom thus situated, that shall be 
universally recognised as just ; and to this fact may be 
attributed the conflicting accounts of travellers who at differ- 
ent periods have visited the same country. Still there exists 
a certain national individuality of character apart from the 
influence of accidental circumstances ; and in no Asiatic 
state, we believe, are such distinguishing features more dis- 
cernible than among the Persians. 

That people may be considered as formed of two great 
classes, — the fixed and the erratic ; but we shall divide them 
into four, — those, namely, who are connected with the 
several courts, metropolitan and provincial, including the 
functionaries of government and the military ; inhabitants 
of towns, comprehending merchants, shopkeepers, artisans, 
together with men of religious orders, of business, or of 
learning ; those employed in agriculture ; and, lastly, the 
tribes and Eeliauts. 

^he officers of all despotic courts necessarily resemble 
each other, being moulded to the fashion of the government 
which employs them. Slaves to the caprice of the monarch 
whom they serve, their very existence depends on his favour, 



250 



DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



and hence their whole efforts are directed to secure that 
object. Dissimulation and flattery are their chief study ; 
their minds are occupied with intrigue, and their time in 
amassing, by the most flagitious methods, that wealth which 
their extravagance requires, and to which they look as an 
ulterior means of safety, although it still oftener proves their 
ruin. Capriciously, haughtily, and cruelly dealt with them- 
selves, they become capricious, haughty, and cruel to their 
inferiors ; and thus the court and all who are attached to it 
are rendered, to the poor man, objects of terror and disgust. 

Persons so educated can possess little virtue. They be- 
come skilful in business ; are often well-informed, acute, 
polished in manner, lively, mild, and courteous, and rarely 
give way to the expression of their feelings. But under 
these specious appearances they are deceitful, treacherous, 
and venal ; and, where they can be so with impunity, arro- 
gant and overbearing. Such, with few exceptions, is the 
character of the Persian court, its officials, and dependants ; 
and the pernicious influence of the capital spreads corruption 
throughout every district of the empire. 

The ministers of state are usually selected from the class 
called mirzas,- — secretaries, that is, or, as the term may be 
aptly translated, men of business ; for we have said that it 
has been the policy of kings to -check the pride of the mili- 
tary nobles, by chousing many of the principal functionaries 
from the lowest ranks of life, as being more likelv, from 
gratitude and feelings of dependence, to preserve their 
allegiance, than those who at the call of ambition might 
summon a powerful tribe to their assistance. 

The mirzas are in general citizens who have devoted 
themselves to duties which require a good education. They 
ought to be thoroughly acquainted with the rules and forms 
of epistolary correspondence, as well as of official business ; 
though, as the situations to which they may be appointed are 
various, they are seldom sufficiently qualified. Such persons 
are generally free from the arrogance of chiefs or nobles ; 
have a mild and subdued address ; are often highly accom- 
plished, but equally versed in deceit, and not very remarkable 
for strict morality. They rarely indulge in martial or athletic 
pursuits ; nor do they in general assume much state. They 
do not wear a sword, and from the highest to the lowest of 
them are distinguished by carrying a culumdaun or inkstan4 
stuck in their girdle instead of a dagger. 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 



251 



The unceremonious manner in which the king exercises 
his absolute power over the ministers and courtiers has already 
been illustrated, and to this danger the virtuous and corrupt 
are alike exposed ; for besides the ebullitions of caprice they 
are ever liable to the effects of intrigue and false accusation. 
Every individual can have access to the monarch, whose 
duty it is to listen to the grievances of his subjects ; and 
even where there is no wish to redress an injury, his majesty 
and attendants treasure up complaints that they may after- 
ward employ them to the accomplishment of their own ob- 
jects. The provincial collectors of revenue, placed between 
rapacious masters and a populace reluctant to comply with 
even just demands, are so miserable, that an old courtier, 
when asked by the Prince of Shiraz what penalty should be 
inflicted on a very notorious thief, replied, " Make him 
manager of a district in Fars ; I can conceive no crime for 
which that appointment would not be an adequate punish- 
ment." Yet although office is attended with extreme dan- 
ger, it is sought with avidity. A certain influence and often 
great wealth accompany the risk ; and it seems to be the 
genius of this people to seize the passing good with reckless 
indifference to the future. 

Notwithstanding the extortion of government, not only do 
the ministers, the nobles* and all persons in the public service, 
appear to live in affluence, but the. exactions of their superi- 
ors have so little subdued the spirit of the people in general, 
that they loudly announce their grievances before the highest 
tribunals. It may be added that, while few are in actual 
want, many, particularly among the merchants and principal 
landholders, amass considerable fortunes. Industry and fru- 
gality may go far to account for this seeming contradiction, as 
regards the lower orders ; and falsehood, which always keeps 
pace with tyranny, enables those above them to elude, to a 
certain extent at least, the demands of rapacity. " Every 
one complains of poverty ; but this complaint as often pro- 
ceeds from a desire to avoid oppression as from its actual 
privations."* — " Poverty and misery," said the mehmandar 
of the British mission to Teheran, in conversing with the 
author of these pages, " pervade every class of society ; and 
the retainers of the court are as badly off as their neighbours. 



* Malcolm's Persia, vol. ii. p. 494/ 



252 



DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



I myself have nominally a salary of 150 tomans a-year ; but 
it is wretchedly ill paid, and I am forced to borrow on future 
prospects to support my family and preserve appearances. 
Years pass on ; debts accumulate ; my property is utterly 
gone ; and, like most in my own, and many in far higher 
stations, I am a ruined man." The case was the same in 
the time of Chardin : "They are," says he, "the greatest 
spendthrifts in the world ; they cannot keep their money, — 
let them receive ever so much, it is immediately spent. Let 
the king, for example, give one of them 50,000 or 100,000 
livres, in fifteen days it will all be disposed of. He buys 
slaves of either sex, — seeks out for mistresses, — sets up a 
grand establishment, — dresses and furnishes sumptuously, — 
and expends at a rate which, unless other means present 
themselves, renders him speedily penniless. In less than 
two months we see our gentleman commencing to get quit 
of all his finery : his horses go hrst, — then his supernumerary 
servants, — then his mistresses, — then, one by one, his slaves, 
— and, finally, piece by piece, his clothes." 

Nothing more strikingly illustrates the demoralizing influ- 
ence of the system of government in Persia, than the insen- 
sibility to disgrace which it produces among all classes of 
the people, — a callousness that is most remarkable among 
courtievs. A minister or governor offends the king, or is 
made the object of accusation, justly or unjustly. He is con- 
demned, perhaps unheard, his property is confiscated, his 
slaves are given to others, his family and wives are insulted,, 
perhaps delivered over to the brutality of grooms and feroshes, 
and his person is maltreated with blows or mutilated by the 
executioner's knife. Nothing can be imagined more com- 
plete than such a degradation ; nothing, one would imagine, 
could be more poignant than his anguish, or more deep and 
deadly than his hatred and thirst for revenge. Yet these 
reverses are considered merely as among the casualties of 
service, as clouds obscuring for a while the splendour of 
courtly fortune, but which will soon pass away, and permit 
the sun of prosperity to shine again in its fullest lustre ; and 
experience proves that these calculations are correct, for the 
storm often blows by as rapidly as it comes on. Royal 
caprice receives the sufferer again into favour ; his family is 
sent back to him, with such of his slaves as can be recovered ; 
and his property, pruned of all dangerous exuberance, is re- 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 



253 



turned. A bath mollifies his bruised feet, — a cap conceals 
his cropped ears, — a khelut covers the multitude of sins and 
stains, and proves a sovereign remedy for all misfortunes, — 
and the whitewashed culprit is often reinstated in the very- 
government he had lost, perhaps carrying with him a sen- 
tence of disgrace to his successor, to whose intrigues he 
owed his temporary fall. It is indeed surprising to see how 
improvidently the king and his ministers bestow situations 
of confidence on strangers, or on men who, from having 
been the objects of such injustice as we have described, 
might be dreaded as their bitterest enemies ; yet the 
management of a conquered state is frequently intrusted to 
the khan or prince who before possessed it in his own right. 
The pardoned rebel of one province is appointed to tne 
supreme command in another ; and the disgraced noble or 
governor is sent to take charge of a district where the 
utmost fidelity and zeal are required. 

Yet, severe as the. procedure towards faulty or suspected 
servants too often is, capital punishments are comparatively 
rare. We do not speak of the times of a Nadir or an Aga 
Mohammed Khan, when no man's life was for a moment 
secure, but of the ordinary administration of such kings as 
the SufTees, and the princes who succeeded them. This 
fact is remarked by Chardin, and confirmed by Sir John 
Malcolm. But when" sentence of death is passed against 
the governor of a province o'r a nobleman residing at court, 
the method of putting it in execution is as follows :— An 
order made out by the prime minister and under the royal 
seal, together with that of one of the civil or ecclesiastical 
magistrates, is placed in the hands of an officer appointed 
for the purpose, commonly a hassakchee or a gholam. This 
man rides post, pressing horses as he requires them. Then, 
presenting himself to the principal person of the place, he 
shows the royal mandate, and forces that individual to ac- 
company him and lend his assistance. He enters the house 
of the condemned, booted, armed, and travel-stained ; walks 
straight up to his victim, takes the warrant from his bosom, 
and places it in the hands of his witness ; then, drawing his 
scimitar, he rushes on the unfortunate criminal, exclaiming, 
" It is the king's command," cuts him down, and strikes 
off his head. Resistance is seldom offered ; for were the 
delinquent powerful enough for the attempt, the messenger 
Y 



254 



DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



of death would never arrive to execute the decree ; and 
there have been instances, even when the person proscribed 
was not in actual rebellion, of his causing the fatal officer to 
be robbed of the warrant, thus gaining time until interest 
could be made for his pardon. But when once his destina- 
tion is reached, escape is scarcely possible ; for terror of the 
royal name arms every one against him who is denounced, — 
even in his own house he is viewed as an excommunicated 
wretch, whom to assist or to touch were ruin. Should the 
sentence only imply disgrace, or when its extent is yet un- 
known, it is melancholy to see how the object of kingly dis- 
pleasure is instantaneously forsaken like an infected creature. 
"All nature," says Chardin, "seems roused against him;" 
and the man, a glance of whose eye but a moment before 
would have shed delight on thousands of dependants, might 
then in vain solicit a cup of water or the use of a calleeoon. 

In speaking of the minions of the court, we cannot omit 
mention of that peculiar class of military favourites termed 
gholams. These are the royal body-guards, devoted, con- 
fidential, and thence their appellation of slaves. They con- 
sist of youthful Georgian or Circassian captives, intermingled 
with the sons of the first nobles in Persia ; for the situation 
being one of honour as well as of contingent emolument, it 
is eagerly sought even by the highest ranks. These troops, 
who in the present day amount to between 3000 and 4000 r 
and who in some degree resemble the mousquetaires of the 
old French government, are regularly imbodied, although 
they do not muster nor parade like a corps on service. They 
are chiefly distributed about the residence of his majesty, 
and always attend him in camp. They are well mounted, and 
armed with a matchlock or musket, a sword, and sometimes 
pistols ; and they generally carry a shield over their shoulder. 
Their pay varies according to their standing and estimation ; 
but few receive less than from twenty to thirty tomans a-year. 
They are commonly employed as messengers on confidential 
business, and the more experienced are frequently intrusted 
with affairs of high importance, in which they contrive to 
amass large sums by extortion. Their name is a terror to 
the country, and the arrival of a gholam e shahee is enough 
to throw a whole district into alarm ; it has even depopulated 
a village for the time. 

f The inhabitants of towns, — the Sheherees, as they are 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 255 



©ften called contemptuously by the rural tribes, — are a mixed 
race of Turks, Tartars, Arabians, Armenians, and Georgians, 
engrafted on the vigorous stock of ancient Persians. In a 
class which includes so many professions and interests there 
must be a corresponding variety of character ; but they are 
in general industrious, and, though by no means models 
of morality, they are not nearly so unprincipled as the higher 
orders. All are eager for gain, yet not unfrequently dis- 
posed to extravagance ; while, on the other hand, instances 
of extreme penuriousness are common. They are nurtured 
in falsehood and deceit ; but are cheerful, polite, sociable, 
quick of apprehension, kind indulgent masters, and good 
servants.* 

The merchants are numerous, and often wealthy, although, 
with the caution of those who know the hazard, they do not 
often display their riches. Traders throughout the East en- 
joy a peculiar degree of consideration, and are protected, 
both as a source of revenue and a medium of maintaining 
useful relations with foreign states. Among them, therefore, 
it is not unusual to find men of more cultivated minds than 
the rest of their countrymen. The shopkeepers and trades- 
men, being more subject to the caprice of those above them 
in rank, are distinguished for cunning and insincerity ; and 
in them may be perceived the same versatility, the same 
officious humility, the same eagerness to gain the slightest 
advantage, which are observable in all those whose liveli- 
hood depends on their own exertion and the favour of their 
superiors. 

The ecclesiastical body, which includes the expounders of 
the written law, is very numerous, wealthy, and powerful. 
The priesthood consists of many orders, from the Sudder al 
Suddoor down to the lowest of the mollahs. The former was 
the pontiff, — the acknowledged vicar of the imams, — and he, 
with the approbation of the sovereign, nominated the prin- $ 
cipal judges of the kingdom. Nadir Shah abolished this 
appointment, seizing all the lands appropriated to the support 

* So says Sir J. Malcolm, and we believe with justice.— A considerable 
difference of character exists between the inhabitants of various towns, 
arising from peculiarities of descent, ancient customs, or local situation. 
Thus the natives of Casbin, Tabriz, Hamadan, Shiraz, and Yezd, are 
remarkable for courage, and often for turbulence ; while those of Koom, 
Cashan, Ispahan, and other places, are proverbial for cowardice. 



256 DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



jf religious establishments, — an act of arbitrary sacrilege 
which has not hitherto been wholly compensated. Mooshte- 
heds are now the highest order of priests ; they have assumed 
me authority of the former without possessing their revenues. 
There are seldom more than three or four of this dignity ; 
and these are called to office by the silent but unanimous 
election of their fellow-citizens, in consequence of superior 
sanctity and learning. Indeed their duties, which have 
chiefly in view the protection of the people against the op- 
pression of their rulers, almost necessarily precludes any 
connexion witn the king. 

The Sheik al Islam, or Ruler of the Faith, is next in rank to 
the mooshteheds, and is, as has before been mentioned, the su- 
preme judge of the written law, in which capacity he enjoys 
a salary* from government ; and one who is upright often 
acquires as much influence as a mooshtehed. 

In every mosque of consequence, and at every considerable 
shrine, there are at least three regular ecclesiastical officers : 
the Mootwullee, who manages its temporal affairs ; the Mu- 
ezzin, or Crier to Prayers ; and the Mollah, who conducts 
the ceremonial. If the establishment is rich, there are several 
of the iast-mentioned order, from among whom is selected 
a Peish Numaz, who recites the prayers and goes through 
the motions and genuflexions to guide the congregation. 
They also occasionally preach a sort of sermon on texts from 
the Koran. Besides these, there are in every city, and con' 
nected with all seminaries of learning, a crowd of mollahs, 
who live by their wits, and have little of the priest but the 
name. They practise astrology, write letters and contracts 
for those who are ignorant of penmanship, and contrive by 
these means to prolong a miserable existence. Nothing can 
be lower than the character of these people ; their hypocrisy, 
profligacy, and want of principle, are the subject of stories, 
epigrams, and proverbs without end. M Take care," says one 
adage, " of the face of a woman and the heels of a mule ; 
but with a mollah be on your guard at all points." — " To 
hate like a mollah," and " to cheat like a mollah," are say- 
ings of equal frequency in the mouth of a Persian. 

The Seyeds or descendants of the Prophet, notwithstand- 
ing their origin, deservedly share in this obloquy ; and should 

* That of the Sheik al Islam in Ispahan was 2000 tomans. 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 257 



One of them have become a hajji, — that is, have made the 
pilgrimage to Mecca, — his reputation as a rogue is fully estab- 
lished. The correctness of this severe remark is illustrated 
by innumerable stories. One of these relates, that a man 
having bought a fine-looking bunch of grapes from a person 
who sat behind a window, paid his money and laid hold of 
the end to pull it towards him ; but every one of the grapes, 
which had been artificially fastened on, fell in the inside, 
leaving him nothing but the bare stalk. " Oh seyed ! oh 
mollah ! oh hajji!" exclaimed the disappointed purchaser. 
" You know me, then]" said the seller, opening his door 
and coming out. " I never saw you in my life before," re- 
turned the other ; " but I was quite convinced that no one 
could have played me such a trick who had not a right to all 
these holy titles."* It is unnecessary to add, that cazees and 
other officers connected with the law come in for their full 
portion of satirical abuse, and not without cause. Every 
popular tale is full of their corrupt and shameless venality. 
When men possessing stations so highly responsible,, and in 
general liberally paid by government, are guilty of such mal- 
practices, what can be expected from the inferior orders, who 
in misery and want are exposed to a thousand temptations, 
while their very existence depends on a sanctimonious ex- 
terior 1 Demoralized in the earlier stage of their career, is 
it to be imagined that, in their rise to the higher ranks of the 
priesthood or the law, they can avoid becoming hypocrites 
and profligates 1 The very extent of ascetic self-denial which 
they are obliged to observe, whether congenial to their dis- 
positions or otherwise, produces deceit and concealment. 
" It is with these holy tricks," says Ksempfer, speaking of 
many of the priests, " that they captivate men's affections, 
establish a reputation for sanctity, and obtain from the silent 
suffrages of the people a species of supreme pontificate." Sir 
John Malcolm, who quotes this passage, thinks the censure 
too strong ; yet it is much to be feared that the conduct even 
of the higher classes of the priesthood has divested them as 
a body of the right of just complaint.! That there are many 

* Malcolm's Persia, vol. ii. p. 574. 

t The writer of these pages was acquainted with a highly-esteemed 
mooshtehed at Mushed, who was doubtless, in most respects, an amiable 
and worthy, as well as a learned man ; but, instead of being in reality 
Y2 



258 DESCRIPTION AXD CHARACTER 



bright exceptions, is a fact not less unquestionable than the 
general truth of the allegation ; and the author just named 
relates a striking instance of the worth of one of these holy 
persons, and of the consideration which even the most power- 
ful monarchs have testified for their virtues. 

An individual once complained to Mollah Ahmed, moosh- 
tehed of Ardebil, that Abbas the Great had taken away his 
sister, and shut her up by force in his harem. The holy man- 
immediately gave him a note for the king, to the following 
effect : — " Brother Abbas, restore to the bearer his sister.' 7 
The monarch commanded the woman immediately to be given 
up, and showing his courtiers the note, said aloud, " Let this 
be put into my shroud, for in the day of judgment, having 
been called brother by Mollah Ahmed will avail me more than 
all the actions of my life.'' 

The cultivators of the soil, as has been already explained, 
are those on whom the tyranny of their rulers falls the most 
heavily. Yet their houses are comfortable and neat, and are 
seldom found without a supply of good wheaten cakes, some 
mas or sour milk, and cheese, — often fruit makes its appear- 
ance, and sometimes a preparation of meat, in soup or pillau. 
Their wives and children, as well as themselves, are suffi- 
ciently though coarsely clad ; and if a guest arrives, there 
are few who cannot display a numed or felt carpet in a room 
for his reception. In fact, the high rate of wages proves that 
the profits of agriculture are high, while food is cheap ; and 
we may be satisfied, that in despite of rapacity, enforced by 
torture, no small share of the gain is hoarded by the farmer. 
Extortion and tyranny, like other things, become powerless 
after a certain point, and counteract their own efforts, al- 
though they never fail to beget deceit and falsehood. In 
spite of all discouraging circumstances, the peasantry possess 
activity and intelligence ; and, even among the rudest, hos- 
pitality is seldom found wanting. 

Of the women belonging to the classes w-e have hitherto 
described we can say little. Females in Mohammedan coun- 
tries are scarcely more than the slaves of a sensual despot. 
Yet such is the force of native ingenuity, wit, and strength 
of mind, that, under all disadvantages, wives frequently suc- 

;he sincere and orthodox Mussulman which the nation believed him, he 
A-ankly confessed himself in private a decided freethinker, and smiled at 
the absurd superstitions of Ids professed creedL 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 259 



ceed in gaining a powerful influence over their husbands. 
Even the king himself has not rarely been directed by the 
vigorous counsels of a female ; and there are instances where 
the talents and intrepidity of a woman have upheld the sink- 
ing fortunes of a royal dynasty. Still an Eastern harem must 
ever be the abode of discontent and intrigue, and conse- 
quently of misery and crime. No one has painted the horrors 
of such a prison in more lively colours than Chardin, while 
describing what he had seen and heard concerning the harem 
of the shah. 

" The seraglio of the king," says he, " is most commonly 
a perpetual prison, from whence scarce one female in six or 
seven ever has the good luck to escape ; for women who 
have once become the mothers of living children are pro- 
vided with a small establishment within the walls, and are 
never suffered to leave them. But privation of liberty is by 
no means the worst evil that exists in these melancholy abodes. 
Except to that wife who is so fortunate as to produce the first- 
born son, to become a mother is the most dreaded event that 
-can happen to the wretched favourites of the king. When 
this occurs, not only do the mothers see their last chance of 
liberty and marriage cut off from them, but they live in the 
dreadful anticipation of seeing their children deprived of life 
or of sight when the death of their lord shall call a new tyrant 
in the person of his son, the brother of their offspring, to the 
throne. Should they avoid the misfortune of having children, 
by an assiduous court paid to the king's mother, or to the 
mother of his eldest son, it sometimes happens that they at- 
tain the good fortune of being bestowed upon some of the 
officers about the court ; for the ministers and grandees, 
who are always intriguing with these influential ladies, sel- 
dom fail of soliciting a female of the royal harem either for 
themselves or their sons. Indeed, it is no uncommon thing 
for the king himself to bestow one of these fair captives upon 
his favourites or his courtiers, and sometimes when the harem 
gets crowded, this is done to a great extent, as a measure of 
economical expediency. Happy is she that is thus freed 
from her prison, for she at once exchanges the situation of 
a slave for that of a legitimate and influential wife, and the 
head of a domestic establishment, when she is ever treated 
with the attention due to one who has been the favourite of 
a king." 



260 



DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



The temptation of such a chance as this, contrasted with 
the miserable fate of those who remain immured, drives the 
captives to the commission of the most horrible crimes. 
Even new-born innocents are murdered, either by actual vio- 
lence or the denial of that nourishment which it is a mother's 
duty and should be her delight to give. Such are the conse- 
quences of this iniquitous violation of the laws of nature ; 
and the number of tragedies is increased by the reluctance with 
which the royal favour is sometimes received. Chardin relates 
an instance where Abbas II. ordered a beautiful girl to be burnt 
alive, by having her tied in the chimney and lighting a fire 
of wood beneath, while he looked deliberately on, because he 
had detected her in an artifice to avoid his attentions. 

The harems of the great are probably less fruitful in hor- 
rors than that of the sovereign in proportion only as power 
and opportunity are more limited,' — the principle is the same 
in all. But as we descend in the scale of society, and reach 
the middle and lower orders, this jealous tyranny diminishes ; 
till at last, in the families of mechanics and villagers, the 
mysteries of the veil almost disappear, and the wives and 
daughters of the peasantry pursue their occupations like those 
of the same class in Europe. 

The women of the better ranks are often exceedingly fair, 
of good complexions, generallv full-formed and handsome. 
The strong admixture of Georgian, Circassian, and Armenian 
blood, which results from the admission of so many femalps 
from' these countries into the harems of the wealthy, has 
tended much to improve the Tartar physiognomy of the rural 
tribes, and the somewhat heavy figures and sallow colour of 
the aboriginal Persians. In many instances their eyes are 
large, black, and languishing ; their lips rich and red, setting 
off teeth naturally even and white. But they disfigure their 
proper charms by painting their faces of various colours, of 
which white and crimson are the least offensive ; constant 
smoking spoils their mouths and teeth ; and they frequently 
imprint on their persons fanciful figures, tattooed into the 
skin. A fine head of hair is reckoned among the most in- 
dispensable of female ornaments ; and when nature or acci- 
dent has deprived them of this, the Persian beauties, like the 
fair ones of other climes, supply the defect by wearing wigs. 

Their dress within the harem is sufficiently simple. A 
shift of coloured silk or cotton covers the upper part of their 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 



261 



figures, and, together with a pair of zere-jamehs or trousers, 
compose the principal portion of their attire. Over these they 
throw a jacket or pelisse, with a shawl, cloak, or furs, accord- 
ing to the state of the weather. Round the head an immense 
silk handkerchief is wound in a peculiar shape, like a turban. 
When they go abroad they put on a wrapper of blue checked 
stuff, which envelops them from head to foot, leaving only 
a small opening of laced-work, through which the glance of 
the eye may sometimes be perceived. Yet no husband can 
recognise his own wife should he meet her. Indeed, it is a 
point of etiquette among all well-bred Mussulmans to turn 
aside from a veiled female, so that detection is impossible ; 
and women of all ranks are said to avail themselves of this 
privilege, in order to enjoy some of that liberty which their 
lords are disposed to deny them. 

The occupations of the sex are few and uninteresting. 
Ladies of rank meet to talk, gossip, and tell stories ; to show 
each other their finery and jewels, listen to singing-women, 
and see them dance, or have parties of pleasure at each 
other's houses. But the bath is the great scene of enjoy- 
ment and relaxation, where each, secure from interruption, 
lays aside restraint, and gives full scope to merriment and 
scandal. They are utterly wanting in all that delicacy of 
sentiment and language which is the greatest charm of fe- 
males in more civilized countries ; and, ignorant of what we 
consider propriety, they express themselves on all subjects 
with disgusting grossness. Their terms of abuse are inde- 
cent in the extreme, and are used with equal fluency by high 
and low. Where jealousy and intrigue breed constant quarrels, 
the conversation of a coterie of Persian ladies must of course 
be intolerable. The domestic pursuits of the middle and 
lower orders necessarily employ more of their time ; but the 
same causes operating, although less forcibly, produce in pro- 
portion the same effects ; and we scarce need remark, that 
women in Persia, as in all other quarters of the globe, are the 
creatures which circumstances and education have made 
them. If these have been adverse, — if the softer sex have 
been basely degraded by their proud and oppressive lords, 
shall we blame the sufferers for a misfortune which they owe 
to the tyranny of Eastern customs, — to the injustice of those 
whose solace in sorrow and suffering they were designed to 



262 DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



be, and who, by every law of nature and manly feeling, were 
bound to protect them. 

We now come to contemplate the fourth class into which 
we have divided the people ; we mean the tribes, whether 
partially or wholly erratic, which are dispersed over the greater 
part of the country. It is true that an immense portion of 
Asia is inhabited principally by migratory hordes ; and for 
such persons those wide regions, affording extensive pastures, 
are peculiarly well suited. But these aboriginal wanderers 
have generally merged in the body of the natives, wherever 
a regular government has been established. On the other 
hand, when a tribe, having risen into power, has its seat of 
empire in some insulated spot, as the Moguls and the Uz- 
becks at Bokhara, Khyva, Ferghana, or Cashgar, the no- 
mades swarm around for protection or for service, but seldom 
intrude among their agricultural or commercial brethren. 

In Persia alone we observe the anomaly of a large portion 
of the people with nomadic habits existing separately from 
the rest, yet residing in the heart of the community, of which 
they form a constituent part, supplying the principal military 
force of the country, — its only hereditary aristocracy, — and, 
in general, its sovereign himself. These various tribes are 
bold and free as their brethren of the mighty steppes, from 
whom many of themselves have sprung, — warlike, rude, quar- 
relsome, eager for plunder, despising the pacific drudges 
that occupy the cultivated tracts and cities in the neighbour- 
hood of their wild haunts, — wandering almost at will over 
pathless deserts, like the wild ass in his plains, — uncertain 
in their loyalty, — idle and profligate, yet hospitable and gene- 
rous. 

These wandering tribes, it is well known, are of various 
origins. Those who are indigenous, and form the largest 
proportion of this class, are found principally in the mountain- 
ous tracts of the south, stretching from the entrance of the 
Gulf, along its shores and the banks of the Tigris, to Kurd- 
istan. Their habits are pastoral, military, and predatory. 
They speak in general a rude dialect, and what has been 
called the Kej-Zuban or Barbarous Tongue by the more re- 
fined. Among these hordes maybe enumerated the Lac, the 
Feijee, the Buchtiaree, the Lour, each of which is subdivided 
into many branches, designated by the patronymic cf their 
original progenitor. 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 263 



The tribes of Arabian descent occupy the low land between 
the mountains and the Persian Gulf, called the Dushtistan 
and Chab ; or, having come over with the Mohammedan con- 
querors, settled and flourished in Balkh and Khorasan, where 
they still remain a distinct race. Those of the former dis- 
trict speak the language, wear the dress, and generally pre- 
serve the customs of the mother-country. Being extremely 
poor, they are frugal in their diet, and, though scarcely so 
rude as the aboriginal clans, are nearly as wild and independ- 
ent as their own ancestors. But although denied the luxu- 
ries, and scantily provided with the necessaries of life, they 
are blessed with contentment, — habit has converted parsi- 
mony into an enjoyment, and they deem no food so delight- 
ful as that to which they are accustomed. An Arab woman, 
on returning from England, whither she had accompanied the 
children of the British resident at Bushire, was descanting 
on the riches and beauty of the kingdom she had visited. 
She described the roads, the carriages, the fine horses, the 
splendour zmd wealth of the cities, and the fertility of the 
well-cultivated soil. Her audience were full of admiration, 
and had almost retired in envy, when she happened to men- 
tion that there was but one thing wanting to make it perfect. 
" And what is that V said they. " Why, it has not a single 
date-tree," was the reply. " All the time I was there I never 
ceased to look for one ; but I looked in vain." The charm 
was instantly broken, — the Arabs turned away in pity for 
men who, whatever might be their comforts and magnificence, 
were condemned to live in a country where there were no 
date- trees. 

The first appearance in Persia of the Turkish hordes is 
said to have taken place early in the seventh century, when 
a tribe named Khozars, under their chief Zubeel, issuing 
from the plains of the Volga, joined the Emperor Heraclius 
in Georgia, and entering with him, obtained a permanent foot- 
ing. Since that period, various races, by families, by armies, 
or by nations, from the deserts beyond the Oxus, and from 
the banks of the Volga, have poured periodically into the 
country. The Parthians themselves are supposed to be of 
Scythian origin. Next came the dynasties of Saman, of 
Ghizni, and of Seljuk, who were descended from Turko- 
mans. Then came the Moguls under Zingis, the Turks 
under Timur, and, finally, the Uzbecks. Besides these great 



264 



DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



inroads, many tribes, being pressed forward by an over-abun- 
dant population, have settled in Mavar al Xahar, and in the 
desert between that province and Khorasan, whence they 
have insinuated themselves into Persia. From these various 
marauders the noblest of the military clans have sprung. 
Thus the Kujurs (the ruling race at this day) and the Kara 
Tartars came in with Timur ; the Ghileechee of Subzavvar 
in Khorasan derive from the stock of Tocktamish, the ruler 
of Krpchauk ; and doubtless they accompanied that chief 
when he invaded Persia about the end of the fourteenth cen- 
tury. 

The inhabitants of Kurdistan lay claim to an origin differ- 
ent from all these. Some believe them to be the progeny 
of those persons who were saved from the cruelty of Zohauk ; 
others think that they are the offspring of earthly women by 
the Jin or Genii of the Air. There is at all events no ques- 
tion of their great antiquity ; for it would appear that they 
differ little, if at all, from their ancestors the brave Carduchi, 
whose manners are so graphically described by Xenophon 
in the celebrated retreat of the Ten Thousand. 

In addition to those already enumerated maybe mentioned 
the tribes that inhabit the Elburz range which overhangs 
the Caspian Sea. particularly the mountaineers of Talish. 
These, however, though occupying a northern province, may 
more properly be classed among the native tribes of Persia. 

It has been already observed that these various communi- 
ties furnish the military strength of the country. The young 
chiefs, educated at court, where they are retained as hos- 
tages for the fidelity of their clan, acquire a specious polite- 
ness, — a facility of dissimulation which, grafted on a naturally 
rude and haughty stock, produces a character in which little 
honesty or real worth is to be found. As they advance in 
years, they either obtain appointments civil or military, or, 
not less commonly, retire to their native districts, leaving 
their sons to undergo the same course of training. 

In their own countrv, surrounded by their people, the 
chiefs are seen to advantage. The immediate inducement 
to dissimulation being removed, they show more frankness 
and generosity than usually belong to courtiers. Many of 
them are liberal, hospitable, bold, and intrepid ; though the 
slightest provocation calls forth their native arrogance. 
Overbearing and passionate to excess, their fury knows no 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 



265 



bounds ; neither decency nor prudence restrains them. But 
so well is this failing known, that the sovereign himself, 
should he have been the object of their intemperance, seldom 
does more than smile and forgive the offender, when he 
pleads that he is an Eeliautee (a man of a wandering clan). 
" I once," says Sir John Malcolm, " heard a nobleman of 
one of these tribes use the most violent and insulting lan- 
guage, when speaking of the prime minister ; and his im- 
prudence seemed the greater, as some of the minister's par- 
\ ticular friends were present. Apprehensive of the conse- 
quence, I next day asked him if any thing had happened 1 
* It is all settled,' said he, ' I have made an apology. I told 
the minister that I was an Eeliautee, and that, you know,' 
added he, laughing, * is an excuse for any thing wrong a man 
can say or do.' " 

The people resemble their chiefs in their rude and bar- 
barous independence, in their savage recklessness of blood, 
and their insatiable thirst for rapine. Those who remain in 
the tents, or at the dwelling-places of the tribes, are gene- 
rally brought up in ignorance of every thing but martial ex- 
ercises, and the other occupations of an Eeliaut, among which 
the Lacedemonian accomplishments of stealing adroitly and 
bearing pain with constancy are not forgotten. Unable from 
poverty to gratify their passions, yet untaught to subdue 
them, their excesses, when an opportunity offers, are fright- 
ful. With the precepts or practice of religion they are for 
the most part entirely unacquainted, and scarcely observe 
its slightest external forms.* They do not even abstain from 
forbidden food,f and many go so far as to satisfy their appe- 

* A Persian writer of piety and learning mentions, that a citizen who 
was the guest of one of these barbarians, when he began one morning, 
according to his custom, to read aloud a chapter of the Koran, was as- 
sailed with a stick by his host's wife, who asked him in a rage if lie 
imagined any of the family to be dead, that he thought it necessary to 
read that1x)ok? The husband, while reproving the violence of his wife, 
blamed also his friend, saying, that he should have known better than 
to anticipate misfortune by going through a ceremony only used at 
funerals. 

t Sir John Malcolm relates, that one day some AfFshar youths having 
voluntarily joined in the chase of a hare started by some gentlemen of 
the mission, a dog belonging to one of them caught it after a hard chase 
over some dangerous ground. The youth immediately tied it to his sad- 
dle. " Why do you do so?" inquired one of the English party, "you 
can't eat it, you know it is mukrooh (abominable) to a Mussulman." — 
M Not eat it," said he, M do you think Ihwe hazarded my life, and half 



266 



DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



tites with the flesh of swine. A Kurd who one day had en* 
tered with freedom into conversation with an English gen- 
tleman, observed, that for his part, he thought the religion 
of his tribe resembled that of the Pranks more than of the 
Persians. " How so V inquired the Englishman. " Why," 
replied the other, "we eat hogs' flesh, drink wine, keep no 
fasts, and say no prayers."* He had observed no public 
acts of worship among the British, and imagined that they 
never performed any. 

These wandering hordes glory in the name of plunderers, 
but resent the appellation of thief. The difference is obvi- 
ous, — robbery implies the open and successful exertion of 
strength, — stealing a consciousness of weakness. Next to 
being engaged in scenes of pillaging, they love to recount 
those they have witnessed, and boast of the most atrocious 
deeds as heroic and praiseworthy. " I happened one day," 
says Sir John Malcolm, " when on the march to Sultanieh, 
to ask a chief of one of the tribes what ruins those were 
upon the right of our road ! His eyes glistened at the ques- 
tion. 1 It is more than twenty years,' said he, ' since I ac- 
companied my uncle in a night-attack to plunder and destroy 
that very village, and it has never been rebuilt. Its inhabit- 
ants, who are a bad race and our enemies, have settled near 
it, and are again grown rich. I trust in God these days of 
tranquillity will not last long ; and if old times return, I shall 
have another blow at these gentlemen before I die.' " 

The sketch given by an Affshar chief of his own family 
throws some light on their customs : — " My father had two 
brothers, one older, the other younger than himself. These 
four young men you see there are grandsons of my eldest 
uncle, who was head of the family, — their oldest brother 
commands a troop of horse, all of the tribe of Affshar, with 
the king, — and this is my cousin, the son of my younger 
uncle. My family consists of six children, all except one by 
the same mother, my wife, daughter of Futeh Ali Khan Aff- 
shar, a famous chief, who, on the death of Nadir Shah (who, 

killed my horse and dog, to be deterred from eating this hare by what 
some ass of a mollah has said ? I would eat his father," added he, laugh- 
ing, and rode off with his prize. 

* Some of the lower attendants in India, when asked " Of what caste 
they are V have been known partly to reply, " Of master's caste," upon 
a similar sort of'principle. 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 



267 



you know, was of our tribe), aspired to the throne. My good 
father-in-law, however, lost his life in attempting to become 
a king, and I married his orphan daughter, an excellent 
woman, but who carries her head rather high, as no doubt 
she has a right to do, from the recollection of her father's 
pretensions. Look," said he, softly, for the interior apart- 
ments were within ear-shot, " look at that youngster at the 
other end of the room : he is my son. His mother was the 
daughter of a jeweller at Ispahan, an uncommonly pretty 
girl. He is a fine lad, but I dare hardly notice him ; and he 
is, you observe, not allowed to sit within ten yards of the 
grandsons of Futeh Ali Khan AfTshar. This is all very 
proper," he added ; " it is attention to the dam as well as 
the sire that keeps the breed good. Besides, the influence 
of females among us Eeliauts is very great, and if we did 
not treat them with respect, matters would not be long 

right My father and his brothers lived together," 

continued he, " and we do the same. Our inheritance was 
equal, and each of the three branches is charged a day's ex- 
penditure successively. Entertainments and imposts are 
paid in equal shares. We seek by intermarriages to 
strengthen those ties, which are our only defence against 
oppression and destruction. We are Turks," he concluded, 
laughing, " and, consequently, you may suppose, have often 
violent quarrels ; but the necessity of our condition soon 
reconciles us again, and we are at present, and will, I hope, 
long continue, a united family."* 

The migratory subjects of Persia differ from the fixed 
population in no respect more than in devotedness to their 
chiefs and in family affection. In the former they are not 
exceeded by that which was borne of old by Highland clans- 
men to their feudal lords. Of the other an affecting instance 
is given by the elegant author from whose pages we have 
lately quoted. 

In the reign of Kureem Khan, twelve men were robbed 
and murdered under the walls of Shiraz. The perpetrators 
could not for a long time be discovered ; but the king, re- 
solving to make an example for the sake of good order, 
commanded the officers of justice to persevere, under 
fjeavy threats, until a matter which so much concerned hi& 



* Sketches of Persia, vol. ii. chap 14, 



268 



DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



own reputation should be brought to light. At length, by 
accident, it was found out that a small branch of Kureenrs 
own tribe of Zund were the guilty persons. Their crime 
was clearly proved, and, in spite of powerful intercession, all 
actually engaged in the murder were condemned to die. The 
circumstance that they were of the king's own clan made 
their case worse : they had dishonoured their sovereign, and 
could not be forgiven. When the prisoners were brought 
before the monarch to be sentenced and executed, there was 
among them a youth, twenty years of age^ whose appearance 
excited universal interest ; but this anxiety was increased 
to pain when his father rushed forward and demanded, be- 
fore they were led to death, to speak with the prince. Per- 
mission was easily obtained, and he addressed the monarch 
as follows : — " Kureem Khan ! you have sworn that these 
guilty men shall die, and it is just they should suffer ; but I, 
who am not guilty, come here to demand a boon of my chief. 
My son is young, — he has been deluded into crime ; his life 
is forfeited, — but he has hardly tasted the sweets of existence. 
He is just betrothed in marriage : I come to die in his stead. 
Be merciful ! — let an old worn-out man perish, and spare a 
youth who may long be useful to his tribe ; let him live to 
drink of the waters and till the ground of his ancestors !" 
The shah was deeply moved by this appeal : to pardon the 
offence was impossible, for he had sworn on the Koran that 
all concerned should die. With feelings very different from 
our ideas of justice, but congenial to those of the chief of a 
tribe, he granted the father's prayer, and the old man went 
exultingly to meet his fate ; while the son, wild and distracted 
with grief, loudly called on the prince to reverse his decree, 
— -to inflict on him the doom he merited, and save the life 
of his aged and innocent parent. 

The sketches here given apply to those tribes who pre- 
serve the manners of their forefathers ; but there are some 
who have approximated very nearly to those of the native 
Persians. The change, however, seldom tends to their im- 
provement ; on the contrary, the Eeliauts who settle in 
towns, so far from resisting temptation, exceed the worst of 
the citizens in profligacy. 

The occupations of the wandering families when at peace 
are principally pastoral. They live on the produce of their 
flocks and herds. Black bread, sour milk with curds, and 



OF THE PEfcSUN PEOPLE. 269 



occasionally a little meat, are their general diet ; and though 
they do not abjure wine, they seldom indulge in any intoxi- 
cating liquor. The number which go in a body depends on 
the extent of pasture they can command. They encamp 
usually in form of a square or street, the abode of the chief 
being in the centre. But they often pitch without any regard 
to order by the banks of some rivulet ; and, if weak, in a 
situation which admits of a speedy retreat to the hills. The 
traveller, reaching some eminence which overlooks the valley, 
may see their black tents, like spiders' webs, stretched on 
the ground in clusters, and horses, camels, mules, sheep, and 
cattle, ranging at large around. The young men employ 
themselves in military exercises, hunt, or sit in circles smok- 
ing and listening to songs and tales, or gazing at the tricks 
and grimaces of buffoons, some of whom are very skilful. 
The women meanwhile spin, weave carpets and cloth, bake, 
or prepare the dairy produce. The old men and boys look 
after the flocks. 

When the pastures are? bare they shift to some other spot. 
The march of one of these parties is a striking spectacle. 
The main body is generally preceded by an advanced guard 
df stout young men well armed, as if to clear the way ; then 
follow large flocks of all kinds of domestic animals, covering 
the country far and wide, and driven by the lads of the com- 
munity. The asses, which are numerous, and the rough 
stout yaboos,* are loaded with goods, tents, clothes, pots 
and boilers, and every sort of utensil, bound confusedly to- 
gether. On the top of some of the burdens may be seen 
mounted the elder children, who ac^ the part of drivers ; on 
others the lesser urchins, not able to speak, yet quite at their 
ease,— neither seeking nor receiving attention, but holding 
on manfully with feet and hands. A third class of animals 
bear the superannuated of the tribe, bent double with age, 
and hardly distinguishable from the mass of rags that forms 
their seat. The young men and women bustle about, pre- 
venting, with the assistance of their huge dogs, their cattle 
from straying too far. The mothers, carrying the younger 
infants, patiently trudge along on foot, watching the progress . 
of their domestic equipage. The men, with sober, thought- 
ful demeanour, armed to the teeth and duly prepared for 



* A small horse—Scoitice, garron. 
Z2 



270 DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



action, walk steadily on the flanks and rear of the grotesque 
column, guarding and controlling its slow but regular move* 
ments. 

It is not safe for travellers slightly protected to meet such 
companies on their march. The writer of these pages, on 
his way to Shiraz, being in advance of his friends, in the 
gray of the morning, observed one or two men appear from 
a hollow near at hand. Their numbers rapidly increased to 
fifteen or sixteen well-armed fellows, who quickly approached ; 
a halt was called until the party came up, during which they 
stood eying the strangers, balancing as it were the expe- 
diency of an attack. Apparently they distrusted the result, 
and sent one of their body forward to parley. They said 
they were from the encampment of a neighbouring tribe on a 
search for strayed cattle ; and they went away in another 
direction. " That may or may not be true," observed one 
of the attendants, himself an old freebooter ; " but these fel- 
lows once on foot will not return as they came ; their own 
or another's they will have : they dare not go home to their 
wives empty-handed." 

The author has frequently paused to view such a primitive 
procession, and to mark the wild and picturesque figures 
which formed its groups. Their features, as well as their 
costume, are altogether peculiar. However fair the natural 
complexion, — and the infants are nearly as white as Euro- 
peans, — exposure turns their skin to a dark mahogany hue, 
approaching to black ; though a deep ruddy tmge pervades 
this brown mask, imparting a pleasing tone of health and 
vigour. The men have well-made powerful frames, piercing 
black eyes, noses generally aquiline, and frequently over- 
hanging their thick mustachios, which, united with a black 
bushy beard, almost entirely conceal their mouths. Their 
dress consists of a coarse blue shirt and trousers, with heavy 
cloaks thrown over the shoulders, the sleeves being left un- 
occupied ; a conical cap of white or gray felt, with flaps for 
the ears, covers their head. They usually carry a gun, and 
sometimes two, slung across the back. A large knife or 
dagger in the girdle, and a sword or clubbed stick, completes 
their equipment. Their whole aspect is strongly character- 
istic of health, hardihood, and independence ; while their 
wild stare marks the total want of polish, courtesy, or civili- 
zation. 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 271 



- The young women have quite the gipsy cast of counte- 
nance, and are often very handsome. A sweet nutbrown hue, 
warmed with vivid crimson, the effect of exercise in the open 
air, marks their usual complexion. Their eyes, like those of 
the men, are dark and expressive ; the nose is well formed and 
delicate : the mouth is small, set off with white teeth and a 
lurking smile, the herald of good-humour ; while the outline 
of a fine and slender shape is often to be detected through 
the rags that hang about their persons. Nothing, indeed, 
can be more ungraceful than their attire. A patched pair of 
trousers, often of very limited dimensions ;' a loose shift of 
blue or white cotton, the skirts of which do not nearly reach 
the knee ; and a species of mantle thrown over the head and 
shoulders, crossing the brow like a band and flowing a cer- 
tain way down the back, comprise the principal part of their 
apparel. They wrap also round the head a handkerchief or 
bunch of cloth, in place of a turban ; and this dress, varied 
in its appearance by frequent repairs, is common to all the 
females of the tribes. They soon lose their beauty, be- 
coming of a coarse sunburnt red ; the next change is to a 
parched and withered brown ; and the shrivelled grandams 
of the Eeliauts, with their hook-nosed and skinny counte- 
nances, realize in perfection all that is imagined of hags and 
witches. 

The women of the tribes who live in tents do not, like 
other Mohammedans, assume the veil, although those who 
dwell in villages may in some degree comply with the cus- 
toms of more civilized society. They share the fatigues and 
dangers of the men, and the masculine manners they thus 
acquire are suited to their mode of life. Except in cases of 
high rank, they perform all the domestic and even menial 
duties ; and strangers arriving at their tents are sure of re- 
ceiving a kind though modest welcome from them. Yet all 
this is performed in a manner which precludes the slightest 
mistake as to its motive ; for chastity is as much prized in 
females as courage among the men, and he who should pre- 
sume on their innocent frankness would to his cost discover 
his error. ' 

An interesting proof of their boldness and skill is related 
by Sir John Malcolm, who had expressed some doubts on the 
subject as he was riding near a small encampment of Eeliauts. 
The. Persian noble who accompanied him immediately called 



272 



DESCRIPTION* AND CHARACTER 



out to a young woman of handsome appearance, and asked 
her in Turkish if she was not a soldier's daughter ? She 
said she was. " And you expect to be a mother of soldiers V 9 
was the next observation. A smile was the reply. " Mount 
that horse," said he, pointing to one with a bridle but with- 
out a saddle. " and show this European elchee the difference 
between a girl of a tribe and a citizen's daughter." She in- 
stantly sprung upon the animal, and, setting off at full speed, 
did not stop till she had reached the summit of a small hill in 
the vicinity, which was covered with loose stones. When 
there, she waved her hand over her head, and came down at the 
same rate she had ascended. No ground could be more dan- 
gerous ; but she appeared quite fearless, and seemed de- 
lighted at having had an opportunity of proving the superi- 
ority of the nomade females over those of the cities.* 

The Kurdish hordes differ little in the essential points of 
character from the other native inhabitants of Persia. Al- 
though there are several cities in their country, the military 
clans are not often found to inhabit them, nor do they assem- 
ble in large encampments except for purposes of war. In- 
deed, whether in tents or houses, they seldom dwell together 
in larger numbers than are comprised" in a few families. To 
this custom, so adverse to the progress of improvement, some 
refer the fact that their condition and manners have ex- 
perienced so little change during more than twenty centu- 
ries.! Neither civilization nor conquest has ever penetrated 
the wilds of Kurdistan. The inhabitants have preferred 
their barbarous freedom to the refined enjoyments which thev 
saw to be so frequently accompanied with softness and 
slavery. In Senna, Solymaneah, Betlis, and other towns, 
there are mosques and priests, and in these the written law 
is administered as in other parts of Persia. But in general 
they continue to be governed by the usages of their fore- 
fathers ; yielding implicit obedience to their chief, which he 
repays by protection, exercising his authority on all occa- 
sions with strict regard to their Custom? and prejudices. 

As has been already said, they have little regard to the or- 
dinances of religion : and in like manner their allegiance to 
the king is extremely slight and doubtful, being generally 
measured by their power of resisting the royal authority. 



* History of Persia, vol. ii. p. 615. f Ibid. vol. U. p. 467. 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 



273 



The Wallee of Ardelan keeps a court at Senna in princely 
state, and maintains a considerable military array. The 
great delight of the Kurds is in arms and fine horses, in the 
management of which they excel. Colonel M'Donald Kin- 
neir gives a lively account of the appearance of these war- 
riors : — " When a Kurdish chief takes the field, his equip- 
ment varies little from that of the knights in the days of 
chivalry ; and the Saracen who fought under the great Sa- 
ladin was probably armed in the very same manner as he 
who now makes war upon the Persians. His breast is de- 
fended by a steel corslet inlaid with gold and silver ; while a 
small wooden shield, thickly studded with brass nails, is 
slung over his left shoulder when not in use. His lance is 
carried by his page or squire, who is also mounted ; a cara- 
bine is slung across his back ; his pistols and dagger are 
stuck in his girdle, and a light scimitar hangs by his side. 
Attached to the saddle, on the right, is a small case holding 
three darts, each about two feet and a half in length : and 
on the left, at the saddlebow, you perceive a mace, the most 
deadly of all his weapons. It is two feet and a half in 
length ; sometimes embossed with gold, at others set with 
precious stones. The darts have steel points about six 
inches long, and a weighty piece of iron or lead at the upper 
part to give them velocity when thrown by the hand." 

Our remarks on the tribes would be incomplete without 
some notice of those fierce plunderers who roam the desert 
eastward of the Caspian Sea, between the Elburz Mountains 
and the Oxus. In a work by the author of these pages,* a 
full account of them has been given, and some conjectures 
hazarded regarding the causes which have rendered them so 
much more ferocious than the nomadic people of other re- 
gions. 

The Yamoots, Gocklans, and Tuckehs, who inhabit the 
skirts of those mountains and the desert which lies at their 
feet, are probably the successors of former tribes who, them- 
selves poured forth from the teeming storehouses of the 
North, have advanced as opportunity occurred farther into 
the cultivated country. Their customs and character differ 
considerably from those of the Eeliauts. They are more 
erratic, seldom remaining in a station beyond a few days, 
fc* ■'• 1 . . ' tfio r > ' . ■• • t j ;/ 

* Travels in Khorasan, p. 254, et seq. 



274 



DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



They encamp in parties varying from thirty to one hundred 
and fifty families, each body having its Reish SufTed or Elder, 
to whom considerable respect is paid, whose advice is gener- 
ally followed in matters affecting the common interests, and 
who adjusts petty disputes. But they have no governors, 
chiefs, or nobles ; and no one attempts to arrogate any higher 
authority than that with which he is invested by the public 
voice. 

The habits of these people are extremely simple. Every 
one, great and small, enters a tent with the salutation of 
peace, and takes his seat unceremoniously. They pique 
themselves upon hospitality ; they will almost quarrel for 
the privilege of entertaining a stranger who approaches as a 
friend ; and some aver that such a guest is safe from all 
aggression in the camp, and when he departs is furnished 
with a guide to the next stage on his journey. Others deny 
this, and bid travellers distrust the fairest promises of the 
Turkomans. 

The women are not concealed like those of the Persians. 
They wear on the lower part of the face a silk or cotton veil, 
which, covering the mouth and chin, hangs down upon the 
breast. They frequently put on the head a very high cap 
glittering with ornaments, and over it a silk handkerchief of 
some gaudy colour. They have earrings ; and the hair, long 
and plaited, falls in four divisions in front and behind the 
shoulders. Their persons are clad in loose shirts and vests 
with sleeves, and drawers of silk or cotton. The children and 
young women are sometimes beautiful, but in general much 
the reverse ; and the virtue of the latter is not so favourably 
spoken of as that of the Eeliaut ladies. 

The men of these several tribes differ slightly from each 
other in appearance ; though the features of all approach 
more or less to the Tartar physiognomy, having small eyes 
set cornerwise, little flat noses, high cheekbones, and a 
scanty beard or none at all. They wear loose shirts and 
cloaks bound round the waist with a sash, drawers of cotton 
or silk, and caps of sheep-skin, — red, gray, or black, accord- 
ing to the fancy of the wearer. They are provided with a 
spear and sword, bows and arrows, and some have match- 
locks ; but in parting with the arms they have lost the un- 
erring skill of their forefathers, without having yet acquired 
the full use of more modern weapons. 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 



275 



The Turkomans are rich in flocks and herds of every kind, 
but they value most their noble breed of horses. These 
animals are celebrated all over Persia for speed and power 
of endurance. Their large heads, long necks, bodies, and 
legs, combined with narrow chests, do not impress a stranger 
with high ideas of their value, although their powerful quar- 
ters, fine shoulders, and the cleanness of their limbs, would 
not fail to attract the eye of a competent judge ; and experi- 
ence has shown, that for a long-continued effort no horse can 
compare with that of the desert. In training, they run them 
many miles day after day, feed them sparingly on plain bar-* : 
ley, and pile warm coverings upon them at night to sweat 
them, until every particle of fat is removed, and the flesh 
becomes hard and tendinous ; so that, to use their, own 
expression, " the flesh is marble." After this treatment 
they are capable of travelling with wonderful speed a long 
time, without losing condition or sinking under fatigue. 
They are also taught to aid their riders with heel and 
mouth ; so that at the voice of their master they seize hold 
of an enemy, and even chase a fugitive. 

Thus mounted, the Turkomans, in larger or smaller bodies, 
according to the object in view, and under a chief chosen 
for the occasion, set off on their chappows (or plundering 
parties), — a term that causes many a villager in Khorasan, 
and even in Irak, to tremble with dismay. Carrying behind 
their saddles a scanty allowance of barley bread or meal, to 
serve themselves and their horses for a week — for they fare 
alike — they march day and night, with intervals of not more 
than an hour's halt at morning and evening prayer. In this 
way they reach with astonishing celerity the outskirts of the 
place to be attacked. This is often 400 or 500 miles from 
their homes, — a distance which they travel at the rate of 80 
or 100 miles a-day. A chappow that destroyed, while the 
author was at Mushed, a village near Ghorian, forty miles 
from Herat, must have marched fully five hundred miles. 

Arrived at the vicinity of their destined prey, if a small 
town, they halt in some hollow near it, and wait in silence 
till the dawn, when the inhabitants open their gates and issue 
forth on their various occupations. At once the fearful 
Turkoman shout is heard, and the grim band, dashing from 
their lurking-places, seize all they can get hold of, cut down 
those who resist, plunder the houses, and, binding the booty 



276 



DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



on the cattle they have secured, retreat like the passing blast, 
before the neighbourhood can receive th« alarm. 

Should the object of attack be a caravan, they conceal 
themselves in some ravine near its course ; scouts are sta- 
tioned unseen on the heights around ; and when the devoted 
travellers reach the ambuscade, the barbarians dart upon 
them with a rapidity that defies resistance or escape, bear 
down every opposition, and bind as prisoners all on whom 
they can lay hands. Then begins the work of plunder, and 
generally of blood. Those who are old and unfit for work 
are massacred ; the cattle not likely to be useful in the 
retreat are disabled or cut to pieces ; the goods thought 
worth the carnage are placed as loads upon the rest ; and an 
immediate retreat is commenced. The captives, with their 
hands tied behind them, are fastened by ropes to the saddles 
of the Turkomans, who, if they do not move fast, drive them 
on with heavy blows. Whatever be the state of the weather, 
the wretches are stripped to the drawers ; even shoes are sel- 
dom left to them ; and they are never accommodated with a 
horse unless pursuit renders it necessary. With equal ra- 
pidity they return home, and lodge both booty and prisoners 
in their desert abodes ; and the latter in due time find a hope- 
less thraldom, or a happy release, though at an exorbitant 
ransom, in the market-places of Bokhara or of Khyvah.* 

Such are the Turkomans of the Northern Desert, fierce, 
rapacious, unfeeling, and often perfidious ; but hardy, perse- 
vering, and brave, the scourge of Khorasan and the terror of 
its feeble rulers. 

The general character of the Persian people may be 
gathered from the preceding remarks. The dark side of the 
picture presents them as unprincipled, deceitful, corrupt, 
rapacious, deficient in courage as well as in feelings of 
honour, insensible to shame, and indifferent to the com- 
mission of crime in the pursuit of ambition or wealth. This 
melancholy catalogue of vices arises from the disadvantages in 
point of religion, of government, and the general structure of 

* Many forts of singular sppearance are found in the districts border- 
ing on the desert, which have for ages protected the inhabitants against 
these destructive chappows. They are masses of mud, of which it 
would be difficult to pronounce whether they are natural or artificial ; 
but their scarped and elevated sides defy the transitory efforts of the 
Turkomans, and the residents remain secure in their huts or burrows 
upon their summits. 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 



277 



society tinder which they have laboured for so many ages. 
Indeed, deceit and falsehood are charges which they do not 
deny. " Believe me, for though a Persian, I am speaking 
truth," is a common exclamation to those who doubt their 
veracity ; and there are few travellers we believe, who have 
not heard them admit their own proneness both to falsehood 
and venality. To give the lie direct is not deemed an insult ; 
" Een durogh ust," (It is a lie), is as common an expression, 
used without offence from one Persian to another, as " Gou 
khourd" (He has eaten filth, equivalent to He has lied), is in 
speaking of another, even in the highest ranks. 

In enumerating want of courage among the national defects, 
exception ought perhaps to be made in favour of some military 
tribes, particularly those of Kurdistan. It is certain that un- 
der warlike princes these men were brave and intrepid ; but 
we speak of the country as it is now, not as it has been ; and 
there is not a doubt that the spirit of an army will always be in 
some proportion to the genius and gallantry of its leader. 
There is one characteristic which, although common to all 
Mohammedans, cannot be passed in silence. We allude to 
that love of private revenge, which occasions so much slaugh- 
ter and so many sanguinary feuds. This savage propensity, 
nourished by custom and false honour, and strengthened by 
that stern precept which enjoins " blood for blood," although it 
obtains more universally among the tribes, is still very widely 
diffused throughout all ranks of the people. Even the heavy 
punishment awarded by law tends rather to promote crime 
and encourage evil passions than to prevent quarrels ; for, on 
the one hand, avarice in its worst form is gratified by receiv- 
ing the price of blood, or, on the other, cruelty is satiated by 
the unlimited power which is granted over the offender. 

We fear that the catalogue of Persian virtues is almost 
entirely confined to the charms of their social character and 
hospitality. They are courteous, certainly, when it suits them 
to be so ; but politeness with them consists principally in 
hyperbolical phrases and a certain submissiveness of manner, 
which, when they attempt to gain the favour of their supe- 
riors or some point of interest, are pushed even to servility. 
Hospitality is a feeling common to many Asiatic nations, and 
enjoined by the religion of Mohammed ; and in Persia a very 
extensive exercise of its duties may unquestionably be re- 
marked, not 'Only among the tribes and peasantry, but also in 



278 DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



towns and cities. While the late prime-minister, a worthy 
and benevolent man, was cheapening some articles one day 
with a peasant who had been introduced to sell them, break- 
fast happened to be brought in. " Come, my friend," said 
the khan, "we shall settle that by-and-by ; but in the mean 
time sit down and take your breakfast :" so the countryman 
sat down and partook of the minister's pillau, and afterward 
made the best bargain he could for his goods. 

Before taking leave of this subject, we shall advert to a few 
of those peculiar customs which sometimes serve to portray 
the genius and dispositions of a people as strikingly as more 
important particulars. 

We have observed that the Persians are cheerful and 
social. The visits of private individuals are not more fettered 
by forms than a morning call in Europe ; and although in 
larger parties and public meetings more attention to estab- 
lished rules of behaviour may prevail, there is nothing of 
that imperturbable taciturnity and apathetic abstraction which 
characterize an assembly of Turks. 

At meetings of friends, ceremonious compliments are of 
course in a greater or less degree dispensed with. The Mo- 
hammedan salutation, M Salaam Aleicoom !" (Peace be with 
you !) is replied to by the exclamation, " Aleicoom Salaam !" 
(With thee be peace !) The customary inquiries about each 
other's health succeed; but to ask after that of one's famijy, 
especially of the females, would be an unpardonable affront. 
The bughulgeeree, or the embracing and kissing thrice on 
each cheek, takes place between relatives and dear friends 
after long absence — and then with a "Bismillah!" (In the 
name of God !) the parties sit down and enter into conver- 
sation. Calleeoons, a sort of pipe, the smoke of which is 
mellowed by being drawn through water, are called for, and 
immediately all formalities cease. 

When the visit is one of ceremony, the master of the house 
receives his guest in the dewan khaneh, or public room, seated 
at the upper end, generally at a large window which reaches 
from the lofty ceiling to within a foot of the ground and looks 
out into a garden. The floor is covered with fine carpets, and 
around the farther extremity and down one side are spread 
thick mumuds or pieces of flowered felt, from four to six feet 
broad, on which the company sit. Should the weaiher be 
cold, or the host desirous to confer upon the visiter particular 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 279 

honour, he receives him in a more retired apartment, in which 
is a cheerful fire, the seat next to which is esteemed the 
place of distinction. 

The stranger leaves his slippers at the door of the room, 
and upon entering makes an inclination with his body, placing 
his right hand on his heart, and uttering the usual salutation. 
Plis host rising, makes the customary rejoinder, adding, 
(i Koosh Amedeed!" (You are welcome!) and advances 
more or less to meet him, according to his rank. If an equal, 
he remains standing until the other comes up. If somewhat 
his superior, he goes to the edge of the carpet on which he 
was sitting, and if he possess a decidedly higher rank, he 
receives him at the door. To an inferior he merely makes 
a movement as- if to rise ; while an inclination of the head, 
or the more familiar nod, mark the reception of such as are still 
lower. 

After smoking a little tobacco, coffee, which is usually 
strong and without milk or sugar, is presented in small china 
cups, often set in others of silver, or even of gold ; and if 
the host wish to treat his guest with distinguished politeness, 
he takes a cup from the attendant, and offers it himself with 
both hands. By way of uncommon favour he sometimes takes 
the pot, and, shaking up the grounds, pours the whole out for 
the stranger. A second calleeoon is then used ; and in a 
short space afterward a cup of sweet sherbet, — sometimes of 
tea, highly sweetened but without milk, is handed round. A 
third calleeoon is the signal for departure ; and in the inter- 
course of even the most familiar acquaintances the parting 
pipe is always called for, generally by him who goes, and is 
often resisted by the other, on the plea of detaining his friend 
longer ; but neither meeting nor parting takes place without 
this civility. In the case, indeed, of visits made by inferiors 
to members of the royal family or persons of quality, the 
calleeoon is only given to the great man, not to the others ; 
and where one or more of the company is of high rank, both 
coffee and pipes are served by the bearers upon their knees. 

In the performance of this prescribed round of civilities, 
good breeding demands that the guest, whatever be his taste 
or habits, should accept courteously any thing that is offered, 
although he should return it almost untasted. But as many 
Persians do not use tobacco, it is common in unceremonious 
parties to decline the calleeoon with a polite gesture, saying, 



280 DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



" I do not smoke." Visiters also regulate the time of 
smoking by observing the master of the house : none keep 
their pipe after he has returned his to the calleeoonchee. 
During all this period conversation proceeds, and is formal 
or animated, in proportion as those met together are more or 
less at their ease and on a level with each other. 

When a person of rank gives his friends an entertainment, 
the company is generally received in the dewan khaneh ; a 
piece of chintz or printed calico is spread in front of the felt 
carpets, on which they are seated. It is never washed, for 
such a change would be deemed unlucky, and therefore 
appears with all the signs of frequent and hospitable use. 
On this cloth, before each person, is laid a cake of bread, 
which serves the purpose of a plate. The dishes are brought 
in on large metal trays, — one of which is generally set down 
between every two or three individuals, — and contain pillaus, 
stews, sweetmeats, and other delicacies ; while bowls of 
sweet and sour sherbets, with long-handled spoons of pear- 
tree wood swimming in them, are placed within their reach. 
If the feast be very sumptuous, the dainties appear in great 
profusion, and are sometimes heaped one upon another. The 
cookery is excellent of its kind, though there is throughout the 
whole arrangement, a mixture of refinement and uncouthness, 
highly characteristic of the country. Persians, like other ori- 
entals, eat with their fingers ; and the meat is cut into conven- 
ient mouthfuls, or stewed down so as to be easily torn to pieces. 
Accordingly, no sooner is the u Bismillah" pronounced, than, 
bending forward, every hand is in a moment up to the knuckles 
in the rich pillaus, — pinching or tearing off fragments of 
omelettes, — stripping the kubaubs from their little skewers, 
• — plunging into savoury stews, — dipping into dishes of sweet- 
meats, — and tossing off spoonfuls of the pleasant sherbet. 
The profound silence is only interrupted by the rapid move- 
ment of jaws, or the grunts of deep satisfaction that from 
time to time arise from the gourmands of the party ; for, 
though this people are temperate on common occasions, none 
enjoy more the pleasures of the table at convenient seasons. 
At length the host or principal guest, having satisfied his 
appetite, rises from his recumbent posture, and throwing him- 
self back on his seat, utters a deep guttural ' 4 Alhumdulallah," 
and remains holding his greasy hand across the other until 
tin attendant brings water. On this the remaining visiters, 



OP THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 



281 



0he after another, as fast as the struggle between appetite 
and decorum permits, assume the same attitude. Warm water 
is brought in ewers, and poured over the dirty fingers, which 
are held above a basin to catch the drippings, but are generally 
very imperfectly wiped. Order is gradually restored ; callee- 
oons are produced ; the company take each the posture that 
pleases them best, consistent with due respect ; and con- 
versation becomes general. 

At such entertainments the comfort and hilarity of the 
party depend entirely on the object of the feast. When 
given to some high grandee, the whole affair is magnificent, 
stiff, and dull. The court is spread with rich cloths for him 
to tread upon, which become the property of his servants ; he 
is placed in the highest seat, far above all the guests : even the 
master of the house sits below him at a respectful distance ; 
all look to him for the tone of feeling which is to prevail ; — 
if he speaks so do the rest, — if he smile they laugh at his good 
sayings, — if he be silent and reserved, a corresponding gloom 
ensues. Every one curses his presence, and heartily wishes 
him gone. On the contrary, when there is no such constraint, 
and when the entertainer is a pleasant, open-hearted person, 
mirth and good-humour abound, — wit and repartee are in- 
dulged — stories and anecdotes are told, — and abundance of 
poetry is repeated. 

But the relaxation to which the middle classes are most 
attached is, to retire, after the fatigues of the day, to some 
shady, well-watered garden near the city, and to devote their 
leisure to the delights of ease and social enjoyments. In 
such plaoes parties of friends may frequently be seen sitting 
under the trees, smoking calleeoons, and listening to the 
odes of their most admired poets or to the tales of a kissago, 
and often solacing themselves by copious libations from the 
wine-cup. In truth, many of the Persians are great topers, 
in spite of the prohibitions of their Prophet ; and when they 
betake themselves to this kind of pastime, they seldom stop 
short, of absolute intoxication. It is, in fact, the pleasure 
of positive inebriation they seek, not that gentle exhilaration 
which the moderate use of wine produces, and the zest it 
adds to conversation and society. They see no disgrace in 
drunkenness, and envy Christians the supposed privilege of 
getting tipsy when they choose without check or reproach. 

The pleasures of the harem are the first in the estimation 
Aa2 



282 DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



of a Persian noble ; those of horses, arms, dress, equipage f 
come next. They love splendid apartments, covered with 
rich carpets, perfumed by flower-gardens, and refreshed with 
sparkling fountains ; and there they assemble to drink coffee, 
or more probably wine, — to smoke, and feast their friends. 
Illuminations and fireworks ; wrestlers, jugglers, and buf- 
foons ; puppetshows, musicians, and dancing or tumbling 
boys, are called in to furnish the amusement of the rich in 
their dewan khanehs, as of the poor in their bazaars and 
market-places ; and, although dancing-girls are prohibited at 
court by the reigning sovereign, and are not seen in the 
capital, an entertainment in the distant provinces is scarcely 
held complete without a displav of their talents. 

The bath is of all others the luxury most extensively en- 
joyed ; for a few copper coins enable the poorest to avail 
themselves of this healthful pleasure, so necessary to a people 
who are not over-nice in the use of their linen. The bath 
is, in fact, the lounge of the Persians, as the alehouse is in 
England, or the coffee-houses in Turkey ; for as the opera- 
tion of bathing, which includes that of kneading the muscles, 
cracking the joints, shaving the head, trimming and dying 
the beard, and tinging the hands and feet with henna, oc- 
cupies from two to three hours at least, during great part of 
which the patient lies stretched on his back to permit the 
dyes to fix, he employs the time in hearing the news, in 
smoking, drinking coffee, or in sleeping. The public baths 
are open two days of the week exclusively for women, and 
the remaining five for men. They are frequented as early 
as three or four in the morning, and continue so for the 
greater part of the day, and sometimes of the night. People 
of rank usually have baths attached to their houses, which, 
however, they occasionally let out to the public, with the 
reserve of certain days for their own use. 

One of the most unaccountable peculiarities of the Per- 
sians is, the ease with which they change from a state of 
perfect sloth to one of the greatest activity. For weeks to- 
gether they sit on carpets, engrossed with their favourite 
calleeoon or the pleasures of the anderoon, without once 
moving out of doors. Nay, they look with astonishment on 
what they deem the restless nature of an Englishman ; and 
when thev see him walk about a room when he might sit 
still, they ask " if he be possessed with an evil spirit V Yet, 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 283 

let a cause of excitement occur, and these same indolent 
persons mount on horseback and ride, with scarcely any rest 
to man or beast, days and nights together, without suffering 
even from fatigue. Horses are in truth the delight, and one 
of the principal articles of expense to the Persians, who may 
well be said to be a nation of cavalry. The royal menage, 
which of course is filled with multitudes of the finest animals 
of every breed, from the Arabian of the south to the Turko- 
man of the north, is placed under the direction of an officer 
called Meerachor, or Lord of the Stable. Those of inferior 
degree content themselves with Jeloodars, or Holders of the 
Rein, who are in fact principal grooms, having under them 
an assistant for every two or three horses. These persons 
are always mounted, and on the march generally have charge 
each of a led steed sumptuously caparisoned, — a part of 
the state of a great man which is never forgotten, and 
sometimes carried to extravagance both as to number and 
equipage. 

These horses are, however, by no means kept entirely as 
appendages of state. The Persians are devotedly fond of 
hunting, and never spare their coursers in that exercise. 
The most interesting game, because the most difficult to 
take, is the gourkhur, or wild ass, which is so strong and 
fleet that neither horse nor dog unaided has any chance of 
overtaking it. They therefore ascertain beforehand where 
it feeds, and, placing relays of huntsmen and hounds at stated 
distances, drive it towards them ; so that it is at length run 
down by successive parties. 

A similar plan is adopted to catch the antelope, which at 
first starting outstrips all pursuit. But sometimes they pre- 
fer surrounding the plain where it is known to graze with 
horsemen, each having a dog in the slip ; so that whichever 
way the animal runs it is met and probably taken. When 
the king enjoys this amusement he generally holds in his 
hand some favourite dog, and the object of the field is then 
to drive the game in such a direction as to allow his majesty's 
hound to seize it. A yet more interesting method of taking 
the antelope is by using hawks. Two of a particular breed, 
trained for the purpose, are flown at the creature when yet 
at a distance, and on reaching it strike at its head and eyes, 
•one of them often perching between its horns ; and they 
annoy and distract its attention so much as to retard its 



284 DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



speed till the dogs come up. The best of these are of Arab 
breed, and their owners are as curious regarding their pedi- 
gree as that of their finest horses. 

The mountain sheep and goats are also hunted, although 
it requires a stout sportsman to follow these animals with 
success, for they always choose the most rocky places for 
their retreat. Occasionally they are made the object of a 
royal chase, and M. Morier, in his Second Journey, mentions 
an intended expedition of this kind, which, however, proved 
a failure. Hawking is also a favourite amusement. Several 
sorts of falcons are trained for this purpose ; and bustards, 
hares, herons, and partridges, afford excellent diversion in 
the more open parts of the country. 

We need scarcely describe the military exercises, which 
form a portion of the customary sports. They consist prin- 
cipally in the jereedbazee, or throwing the jereed, — the kay- 
kej, or performing a variety of evolutions in the saddle, to 
enable the rider, in Parthian fashion, to shoot, while in full 
flight, at his advancing enemy, — and the various methods of 
practising with the sabre. Their horsemanship is celebrated ; 
and although they cannot compare in nicety of training with 
the cavalry of India, yet they may claim the honour of being 
the boldest riders in the world. They urge their horses without 
the slightest apprehension over ground that would make the 
best English foxhunter draw up, — scramble over rocky moun- 
tains sprinkled with bushes, — dash down slopes of loose and 
slippery stones, and gallop up the steepest acclivities, where 
a false step would be death. In these daring feats their 
spirited animals do full justice to their confidence ; but an 
experienced horseman of Europe would be shocked at the 
management of their mouths and the abuse of their feet as 
much as they would admire their undaunted boldness ; for 
they drive them at full speed over ground hard enough to 
break down the stoutest limbs, and suddenly check them 
with violence enough to break their jaws and shake their 
frames to pieces. 

We have observed, that pomp and ceremony are the de- 
light of all Persians. They form, in fact, a part of the sys- 
tem of government which is considered indispensable to the 
due maintenance of authority. They term the gorgeous 
magnificence that surrounds their kings and rulers " the 
elothing of the state." "You may speak to the ears of 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 



285 



others," was the reply of an intelligent native to an English 
gentleman's remarks on this subject ; " but if you would be 
understood by my countrymen, you must address their eyes." 
And in truth, the importance both of individuals and of king- 
doms, is measured among them by the degree of show which 
is dispUyed, and of the attention which is exacted, by their 
envoys. If an ambassador assume great dignity, the nation 
he represents is believed to be wealthy and powerful. If he 
enforce deference and resent the slightest neglect, his sove- 
reign is considered as a mighty potentate, and worthy of 
friendship and respect. Hence the diplomatic abilities of a 
royal representative are measured by the obstinacy with 
which he resists any meditated encroachment, or contests a 
point of form at his reception, rather than by the firmness 
with which he conducts a difficult negotiation, or the wisdom 
he exercises in establishing a treaty. 

The ceremonies of the court of Persia are, in fact, a sub- 
ject of the most minute study and attention. When the king 
is seated in public, his sons, ministers, and courtiers stand 
erect in their appointed places, — their hands crossed upon 
their girdles, — watching the looks of the sovereign, whose 
glance is a mandate. If he addresses an order or a question, 
a voice is heard in reply, and the lips of the speaker move, 
but not a gesture besides betrays animation in his frame. 
Should the monarch command him to approach, the awe he 
affects or feels permits him not to advance until the order 
has been several times repeated ;* and these behests are 
always enunciated in a deep sonorous voice, and in the third 
person ; the shah saying of himself, " The king commands," 
— " The king is pleased," while his attendants usually ad- 
dress him as " Kibleh Allum" (the Object of the "World's 
Regard !") and preface their reply by the words " May I be 
your sacrifice !" 

When a foreign ambassador arrives, the court assumes its 
most solemn aspect, and its resources are taxed to dazzle 
the stranger as well by magnificence as the exhibition of un- 
controlled power. As he approaches the royal residence a 

* " I entreat your majesty not to order me to advance nearer the 
presence. I am overpowered" (" mi-souzum," I burn), was the reply 
of a very young courtier, — in fact a boy, — when first introduced to the 
presence and desired to advance towards the king. His majesty was 
delighted. 



286 DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



deep silence prevails, — the men stand like statues, — the 
horses themselves, as if trained to such scenes, scarcely move 
their heads. The envoy is received in a small apartment by 
one of the principal officers of government, who, after a delay 
more or less protracted according to the honour intended to 
be paid, leads him to the hall of audience, where the sove- 
reign, clothed in glittering apparel, sits on a throne covered 
with jewels. A garden, divided into parterres by walks, and 
adorned with flowers and fountains, spreads its beauties be- 
fore the ample windows. Twice is the stranger called upon 
to bow before the king of kings ere he approach the pres- 
ence, to which he is marshalled by two officers of state with 
gold-enamelled wands. His name and country are announced, 
and he is commanded to ascend. Arrived near the throne, 
the deep and solemn voice of the sovereign utters the gra- 
cious " Koosh Amedeed!" after which, retiring to his ap- 
pointed place, he receives permission to be seated. 

But the festival of the No Roz is the occasion on which 
the Shah of Persia is seen in his greatest glory. This period, 
the feast of the vernal equinox, the new year of the ancient 
Persians, retains its importance in the reformed calendar in 
spite of religious changes. On the birthday of the young 
Spring, when all nature rejoices, — and in no country is the 
transition from the gloom of winter more rapid and delight- 
ful than in Persia, — the king, by ancient custom, proceeds 
from his capital, attended by the ministers and nobles of his 
court, and a large body of troops, to an appointed place, 
where a magnificent tent is prepared, having in it the throne 
of state. The ceremonies commence with a grand review ; 
tribute as well as presents from the governors of provinces, 
from the officers of state, and from all who are entitled to 
stand in the presence, are laid at the feet of his majesty. A 
week is thus spent in feasting and joy. 

The servile respect paid to royalty is extended to every 
thing connected with it. Nor only are the firmans and khe- 
luts of the king received by those to whom they are des- 
patched with the most profound reverence, the most exact 
ceremony, and a display of the most submissive gratitude, 
but even when his picture was sent to a neighbouring power 
it was borne in a litter carried by mules, with a pompous at- 
tendance ; and the salutes that were prescribed and the 
homage exacted wherever it passed, could scacely have 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE* 



287 



heen exceeded by those due to the monarch himself. All 
governors and nobles were enjoined to advance a stage to 
meet it, — they dismounted upon its approach, — the arrival 
was announced by discharges of artillery, — and the people 
were everywhere commanded to evince all possible demon- 
strations of joy on the happy occasion. 

The ceremonies practised among a people on birth, death, 
and marriage, are 'usually considered as characteristic of 
national manners. The ritual employed at the naming of a 
child and at burial, differ little in Persia from those of other 
Mohammedan nations ; nor would a description of petty ob- 
servances either amuse or instruct. There are some pecu- 
liar customs, however, still kept up by the wandering tribes 
at the interment of a chief, which are interesting, as mark- 
ing the origin of usages still observed by civilized nations. 
The charger of the departed warrior, carrying his arms and 
clothes, — his cap placed upon the demipique of his saddle, 
■ — the cloth with which he girt his loins bound round the ani- 
mal's neck, and the boots laid across his back, accompanies 
the procession ; and it is not unusual for those who desire 
to show their respect for the dead, to send a horse without a 
rider, to swell the train of the mourning cavalcade. 

The ceremonies connected with marriage are more numer- 
ous and particular. Like all Moslems, the Persians are re- 
stricted to four legitimate wives, but the number of concu- 
bines is only limited by their means or their desires. All 
females not within the prohibited degrees of kindred may be 
legally taken into the harem in one of three ways, — in mar- 
riage, by purchase, or by hire. In the contemplation of a 
future union, the parties are often betrothed in infancy, 
though they never see each other until they stand before the 
priest ; but then the female has the right of refusing to im- 
plement the engagement, and in that case the wedding can- 
not proceed. This privilege, however, like all female immu- 
nities in Mohammedan countries, is little better than a 
name. The nuptial ceremony must be witnessed by two 
men, or one man and two women ; and the contract, regu- 
larly attested by a legal officer, is given to the lady, who 
preserves it carefully ; for it is the deed by which she be- 
comes entitled to her dower, — her sole dependence in case 
<of divorce. 

Marriages in Persia are occasions of great and almost 



288 



DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER 



ruinous display. The period of feasting occupies from three 
to forty days, according to the condition of the parties. 
Three are necessary for observing the established forms. 
On the first the company are assembled ; on the second the 
bride's hands are stained with henna ; on the third the rite 
takes place. Perhaps an account of a marriage in middle 
life, as it actually occurred, may explain the nature of 
the ceremonies better than any dry detail. As the men (the 
bridegroom in this instance was a widower of advanced age) 
have seldom an opportunity of choosing a wife by sight, they 
are forced to employ some female friend to select a suitable 
partner ; and to her they must trust for all that appertains to 
mental or personal chafcns. The choice being made, and 
the gentleman satisfied, he sends a formal proposal, together 
with a present of sweetmeats, to the lady ; both of which, 
it is previously understood, will be accepted. This point 
being gained, he next forwards an assortment of fine clothes, 
shawls, and handkerchiefs, bedclothes and bedding, looking- 
glasses, glass and china-ware, bathing and cooking apparatus, 
henna for her hands, sugar and comfits ; in short, a complete 
domestic outfit : all of which, it is understood, the bride's 
family will double and return to the future husband. A day 
is then fixed for fetching home the bride : when a crowd of 
people collect at both houses, — the gentlemen at the bride- 
groom's, the ladies at that of the bride. The latter next 
proceed to complete the duties of their office, by conducting 
the young lady to the bath, where, after a thorough ablution, 
she is decked in her finest attire. As soon as it is dark the 
bridegroom's party proceed to bring her to her new habita- 
tion ; and much discussion sometimes arises at this stage of 
the business, as to the number of lanterns, of fiddlers, and 
guests that are to marshal the procession. 

On reaching the bride's house, it is usual, before she 
mounts, to wrap her in a shawl provided by the husband. 
This, again, is often a point of dispute ; on the present 
occasion, the lady's friends objected to the indifferent qual- 
ity of the shawl ; those of the gentleman's party, on the 
other hand, swore that it was excellent. Neither would give in, 
— the guests were all waiting, and the affair assumed a serious 
aspect ; when one of the visiters stepped forward, and volun- 
teered his own. It was accepted, and the cavalcade pro- 
ceeded, — the bride being accompanied by a great number of 



OF THE PERSIAN PEOPLE. 289 

persons, and attended by a boy bearing a looking-glass. At 
intervals on the road bridges are made in the following man- 
ner for her to step over : gentlemen of the husband's party 
are called upon by name, and must place themselves on their 
hands and knees on the ground before her horse ; and the 
choice generally falling on corpulent or awkward individuals, 
much mirth is excited. In this way the party proceeds, with 
fiddling, drums beating, tambourines playing, and lanterns 
flourishing, till they meet the bridegroom, who comes to a 
certain distance in advance,— and this distance is the subject 
of another very serious discussion. As soon as he sees his 
lady, he throws an orange or some other fruit at her with all 
his force, and off he goes towards his house. This is the' 
signal for a general scamper after him, and whosoever can 
catch him is entitled to his horse and clothes, or a ransom 
in lieu of them. When the bride arrives at the door, a man 
of either party jumps up behind her, and, seizing her by the 
waist, carries her within. Should this be done by one of 
the bridegroom's attendants, it is an omen of his maintaining 
in future a due authority over his wife ; but, on the contrary, 
should one of her friends succeed in performing the duty — 
and it is always the subject of a sharp contest — it augurs 
that she will in future " keep her own side of the house." 
Another effort at insuring the continuance of his own supre- 
macy is often made by the gentleman, who, on reaching his 
own domicile after throwing the orange, takes a station over 
the portal, that the lady on entering may pass under his feet, 
and thereby become subject to him ; but if discovered in 
this ungallant attempt, he is instantly pelted from his post. 

When, at length, she has passed into the room allotted for 
her reception, the husband makes his appearance, and a 
looking-glass is immediately held up in such a position as to 
reflect the face of his bride, whom he now for the first time 
sees unveiled. It is a critical and anxious moment, for it is 
that in which the fidelity of his agents is to be proved, and 
the charms of his beloved to be compared with those pictured 
by him in his ardent imagination ; while the young ladies in 
attendance, as well as the gossiping old ones, are eager to 
catch the first glimpse, and communicate to all the world 
their opinion of her claims to beauty. After this, the bride- 
groom takes a bit of sugar-candy, and, biting it in two halves, 
eats one himself, and presents the other to his bride : on the 
Bb 



290 DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTER, ETC. 



present occasion he had no teeth to bite with, and so he 
broke the sugar with his fingers ; which offended the young 
woman so much that she cast her portion away. He then 
takes her stockings, throws one over his left shoulder, places 
the other under his right foot, and orders all the spectators to 
withdraw. They retire accordingly, and the happy couple 
are left alone. 

Such are the humours of a Persian wedding in middle life, 
and they are varied, no doubt, by the circumstances or dispo- 
sition of the parties ; but the expense is always great, and, 
as we have said, sometimes ruinous. 

The purchase of slaves calls for little remark, but their 
treatment does credit to the humanity of the people. They 
are for the most part Georgians or Africans, usually bought 
while very young, and educated as Mohammedans ; though 
beautiful females from the various Caucasian nations, parti- 
cularly Circassians, are very generally selected to fill the 
harems of the great. Of those destined for more menial 
offices, the males become confidential servants, and in time 
are married to maidens who have been attendants on the 
wives of their masters ; and hence their children are held in 
estimation only inferior to that of relations. In almost every 
family of consequence the person in greatest trust is found 
to be " a house-born' '* slave. 

The third mode of legitimate connexion with females, to 
which allusion has been made, is peculiar to Persia. It was 
prohibited in Arabia by the Caliph Omar as infamous. A 
contract may be entered into for a limited period, by which a 
woman binds herself to live as a wife with a certain man, on 
consideration of receiving a specified sum ; and whether he 
chooses to leave her before the prescribed interval has expired 
or not, her claim to the money is unquestionable. But in no 
case can she demand any thing further ; and she acquires by 
her engagement no right whatever to share in his property in 
case of death. 

We shall terminate tins subject by a few words regarding 
the practice of divorce. It is well known that, by the Mo- 
hammedan law, a man may dismiss his wife at pleasure, — a 
privilege naturally arising out of a code so partial to the 
stronger sex. The only counterpoise to this arbitrary power 



* Per sice, khanezadeb, 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 291 



is the scandal which appears to attach to the measure, and 
the necessity of restoring the dower. The feelings of men 
of rank in all matters connected with female honour, restrains 
them from voluntarily exposing those who have been their 
wives to public disgrace ; and the obligation of returning 
the marriage-portion enlists self-interest against the practice 
among those of inferior fortune. Yet instances have occurred 
among the' lower classes, of persons maltreating their spouses 
in order to force them into a suit for divorce ; in which case, 
the demand coming from them, they forfeit all claim to resti- 
tution of property. The most usual causes of separation 
are bad temper, extravagance, or some complaint of that 
nature. Adultery is never made a plea for that measure 
for that would at once subject the delinquent to capital pun- 
ishment, without reference to the legal authorities. 



CHAPTER XL 

Account of Afghanistan. 

Boundaries of Afghanistan— Divisions— Hindoo-Coosh— Solyman Range 
— Cabul— Candahar — Daman— Aspect of the Country — Origin of the 
Afghans— Construction and internal Government of the Tribes — 
Usages of the Afghans — Hospitality — Character and Disposition- 
Dress— Division of the Tribes, and Account of the principal Ones — 
Cities— Candahar — Ghizni— Cabul — Peshawer — Rise of the Dooranee 
Monarchy— Ahmed Shah— Timur Shah— Shah Zeman— Mahrnoud— 
Sujah ul Mulk-Fate of Futeh Khan. 

In defining the limits of Afghanistan, we restrict ourselves 
to the country properly so named, which upon the north is 
bounded by the crests of the Himrnaleh or Hindoo-Coosh 
Mountains ; on the east by the rivers Indus and Jelum ; on 
the south (to the east of the Indus) by the eastern branch of 
the Salt Range Mountains, and (to the west of the Indus) by 
Seweestan or Cutch Gundava, and Sareewan of Beloochis- 
tan ; on the west by the Salt Desert and the Heermund ; and 
on the north-west by the Paropamisan Mountains and the 
country Of the Hazaras. 

The tract thus marked out comprehends a great variety of 



292 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN". 



soil and scenery, but may be generally described as an elevated 
plateau, exhibiting an aggregation of mountains intersected 
by valleys varying in fertility no less than in size, and some- 
times stretching out into extensive plains. It divides itself 
naturally into separate districts ; and a short account of these 
may furnish a sufficient idea of its general appearance and 
character. The most northern of these divisions is compre- 
hended in the valley of the Cabul river, and extends from a 
point somewhat to the west of the Pass of Bamian to the 
Indus. The former of these streams, one branch of which 
takes its rise a little to the west of Ghizni, assumes a north- 
ern course to the town of Cabul, where it is joined by the 
petty rivulet that gives its name to the collected waters ol the 
valley. From thence turning abruptly eastward, it receives 
every brook that flows from the numerous ravines on the 
southern face of Hindoo-Coosh, as well as the few which run 
from the northern side of the range of Solyman. Thus aug- 
mented it sweeps along with a rapid current, and pours itself 
into the Indus, a little above Attok, in a mass scarcely infe- 
rior to that in which it then becomes lost. 

The northern side of the Cabul valley is again classed into 
several sections. Of these the eastern and most remote is 
that of Cohistan or the Mountainous Country, which, com- 
mencing in the Paropamisan or Hazara regions, embraces 
the low lands of Nijrow, Punjsheer, Ghorebund, Tugow, and 
Oozbeen ; the waters of which united join the Cabul River 
at Bareekab. These valleys are described as blessed with a 
delightful climate ; embellished with the most enchanting 
scenery ; producing the finest European fruits in abundance ; 
watered with a thousand delicious streams, and finely cul- 
tivated. 

The district of Lughman comprehends the valleys of Alin- 
gar and Alishung, with the numerous subordinate glens, all 
of which are equally rich and beautiful ; together with the 
fine and fertile plains of Jellalabad, where the productions of 
the torrid zone are found mingled with those of temperate 
climates. The impetuous river of Kashkar, which has its 
rise in the Pooshti Khar, a peak of the Beloot Taugh, or 
Cloudy Mountains, after piercing the Himmaleh, rushes 
through the dell of Coonnah to join the Cabul. It is a hot 
and low spot, above which the lofty peak of Coond, forming 
the termination of an angle at the junction of the Beloot 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



293 



Taugh and the Hindoo- Coosh, towers like a mighty buttress 
capped with eternal snow. The small valley of Punjeora and 
the plain of Bajoor, with their tributary glens, open into the 
more extensive and very fertile district of Swaut, where 
forest and pastur.3 lands are mingled with high cultivation in 
the most harmonious variety ; and every sort of fruit and 
grain is found in perfection and abundance. The loftier 
mountains are, however, inhabited by the Caufirs or Infidels, 
a singular race of savages, who, though they believe in one 
God, worship idols, and supplicate the deified souls of great 
men ; are remarkable for the beauty of their persons ; but 
who, from wearing black clothes, have been called Siapooshes, 
or Sable-clad. The description now given of Swaut will 
apply with little variation to Boonere, Chumla, and all those 
valleys which pour their waters either into the Cabul or the 
Indus. 

The great chain of. Hindoo-Coosh is described by Mr. 
Elphinstone as rising above the level of Peshawer in four 
distinct ranges. The lowest, which on the 24th February 
was clear of snow, is clothed with forests of oak, pine, wild- 
olive, and a variety of other trees, including every species 
of natural fruits and many of the most graceful herbs and 
flowers, in the richest profusion. Their sides are furrowed 
with multitud.es of glens or valleys, each watered by its own 
little stream ; the lower parts of which are carefully culti- 
vated. The second series is still more densely wooded, ex- 
cept towards the top, where snow at tha'; time sprinkled the 
elevated peaks. The third was shrouded halfway down in 
the same wintry mantle ; while the fourth, constituting the 
true range of the stupendous Himmaleh soared aloft in bold 
masses or spiry peaks, deeply covered with sempiternal 
snows. At the time when seen by the mission, the snowy 
summits were at least 100 miles distant ; yet such was the 
clearness of the atmosphere, that the ridges and hollows were 
distinctly discernible ; and instances have been known of their 
having been distinguished at the distance of 250 miles. It 
is through the valleys we have described that those passes 
lead, by which travellers* are enabled to cross this magnifi- 

* While we write, the intrepid perseverance of two British officers and 
the zeal of a missionary have achieved this enterprise, hitherto uriat- 
tempted by Europeans. The converted Jew, Joseph Wolff, after trav- 
Bb 2 



294 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



cent barrier. The principal of these bear the names of Ba- 
mian and Ghorebund. conducting into the territories of Balkh, 
and bv which the Emperor Baber made his way to Cabul. 
Thev are all extremely difficult, and only passable during the 
months of summer and early autumn. 

The plain of Peshawer itself forms a division of the Cabul 
Taller. It is a circular tract of about thirty-five miles in 
diameter, with a soil of rich black mould, and so well watered, 
that but for the extreme heats of summer it would be covered 
with perpetual verdure. It is divided from the more elevated 
grounds of Jellalabad by a small range of hills which stretch 
across from the Hmdoo-Coosh to the SurTeid-Koh. In this 
fertile spot the inhabitants enjoy a better climate than at 
Peshawer : vet. although the snow-covered masses of Coond 
and of the SufTeid-Koh rear themselves on either hand, the 
heat in summer is intensely great. The third division com- 
prises the valley of Cabul, properly so named, which enjoys 
the temperature and all the productions of the most favoured 
regions. 

In order to comprehend the features of the country to the 
south of the Cabul plain, it is necessary to describe the 
Solvman ransre, that occupies so great a portion of its sur- 
face, and which probably derives its appellation from the huge 
mountain called the Tucht e Solvman. This towering mass, 
which mav be said to originate in the lofty peak of Speen- 
ghur or SurTeid-Koh, to the south of Jellalabad, and which, 
spreading to the east and west, forms the southern boundary 
of the Cabul valley, throws several continuous ridges far to 
the southward. Of these, one assuming a south-westerly 
direction runs quite ;o the borders of Beloochistan ; another 
pursues a more southern course, and with several interrup- 
tions and variations of height reaches the confines of Sewee- 
stan. The country between these principal barriers is occu- 
pied by groups of mountains connected with each other ; in 
some places opening out into plains of various extent, and in 
others pierced by the courses of the rivers which drain the 
whole tract. Some of these are covered with deep forests 

ersing Persia, Bokhara, and Balkh, crossed into Cabul by the Bamian 
Pass. At that city he met Lieutenants Burnes and Gerrard, who, after 
surveying the Indus, had traversed Afghanistan from Hindostan with 
the intention of passing into Persia. This they performed, crossing at 
the same place, and, after various adventures, arriving at Teheran. 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 295 



of pine and wild-olive trees ; others are bare and steril, or 
merely afford a scanty pasture to the flocks which are reared 
on them. 

We may now return to Cabul, from whence a long valley 
opens up to the south-west, ascending towards Ghizni, and re- 
ceiving tributary streams from the glens of the eastern face 
of the Solyman range. It reaches an elevated tract destitute 
of wood, but interspersed with spots of rich cultivation, 
.mong which appear the ruins of the ancient city.- The 
river Turnuk, which rises some thirty miles south-west of 
those remains, pursues the same direction through a valley 
poorly watered and ill cultivated, till, uniting w T ith the Urgh- 
undab and other streams, it joins the Heermund at a consid- 
erable distance to the west of Candahar. & 

This last-mentioned town stands in a fertile and highly- 
improved country ; but the desert circumscribes it on most 
sides within narrow limits. Several other valleys slope 
down from the Solyman range towards the desert on the 
east of the Heermund, as Gwashta, Urghessan, Saleh Yesoon, 
Toba, Pisheen, Burshore, and Shawl. They are in general 
better suited for pasturage than agriculture, yet are inter- 
spersed with well-cultivated spots ; and the two last are par- 
ticularly rich and flourishing. The hills are in some places 
clothed with trees, among which is a sort of gigantic cypress, 
and the plains are in others covered with tamarisks. 

The other southern districts which border on Sewees- 
tan, as Furrah, Tull, and Chooteeallee, have some resem- 
blance to that province, but enjoy a better climate, and are 
more sedulously cultivated ; while the plain of Boree, north 
of these, is compared in extent and fertility to that of Pe- 
shawer. The central division includes several beautiful 
valleys, with two considerable rivers, the Zhobe and the 
Gomul, which run to the eastward and unite their waters. 
The whole tract, though it appears not to be by any means 
destitute of fertility, is not well calculated for agriculture. 
Farther north, the Koorum, traversing the country from west 
to east, cuts through the range of Solyman, and enters the 
Indus near Kagulwalla. 

Daman alone remains to be noticed. The term itself sig- 
nifies the skirts of the hills ; but the tract in question is 
divided into three parts : First, Muckelwaud, a plain consist- 
ing of a hard tenacious clay, bare or scantily sprinkled with 



296 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



tamarisk and thorny shrubs, about 120 miles square, on the 
banks of the Indus. Its principal town is Derah Ismael Khan, 
which is but thinly peopled. Secondly, the country of the Mur- 
wuts, a tract thirty-five miles square, to the northward of the 
former ; and, thirdly, Daman Proper, which extends along the 
foot of the mountains of Solyman, and resembles Muckel- 
waud, but is more closely inhabited, and better cultivated. 

The country which w r e have thus endeavoured to sketch is 
occupied by a multitude of tribes, who claim a common origin, 
and form a nation differing widely in character, appearance, 
and manners, from all the states by whom they are sur- 
rounded ; while, at the same time, the diversity that exists 
among themselves is not less remarkable. " Amid the 
contrasts which are apparent in the government, manners, 
dress, and habits of the different tribes," observes Mr. El- 
phinstone, u I find it difficult to select those great features 
which all possess in common, and which give a marked 
national character to the whole of the Afghans. This diffi- 
culty is increased by the fact, that those qualities which dis- 
tinguish them from all their neighbours are by no means the 
same which, without reference to such a comparison, would 
appear to Europeans to predominate in their character. The 
freedom which forms their grand distinction among the nations 
of the East might seem to an Englishman a mixture of an- 
archy and arbitrary power ; and the manly virtues that raise 
them above their neighbours might sink in his estimation 
almost to the level of the opposite defects. It may therefore 
assist in appreciating their situation and character, to, figure 
the aspects they would present to a traveller from England, 
and to one from India. 

" If a man could be transported from England to the 
Afghan country without passing through the dominions of 
Turkey, Persia, or Tartary, he would be amazed at the wide 
and unfrequented deserts, and the mountains covered with 
perennial snow. Even in the cultivated part of the country 
he would discover a wild assemblage of hills and wastes, un- 
marked by enclosures, not embellished by trees, and destitute 
of navigable canals, public roads, and all the great and elabo- 
rate productions of human industry and refinement. He 
would find the towns few, and far distant from each other ; 
and he would look in vain for inns or other conveniences 
which a traveller would meet with in the wildest parts of 



* ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



297 



Great Britain. Yet he would sometimes be delighted with 
the fertility and populousness of particular plains and valleys, 
where he would see the productions of Europe mingled in 
profusion with those of the torrid zone, and the land laboured 
with an industry and a judgment nowhere surpassed. He 
would see the inhabitants following their flocks in tents, or 
assembled in villages, to which the terraced roofs and mud 
walls give an appearance entirely new. He would be struck 
at first with their high and even harsh features, their sun- 
burnt countenances, their long beards, their loose garments, 
and their shaggy mantles of skins. When he entered into 
the society, he would notice the absence of regular courts of 
justice, and of every thing like an organized police. He 
would be surprised at the fluctuation and instability of 
the civil institutions. He would find it difficult to compre- 
hend how a nation could subsist in such disorder ; and would 
pity those who were compelled to pass their days in such a 
scene, and whose minds were trained by their unhappy situa- 
tion to fraud and violence, to rapine, deceit, and revenge. 
Yet he would scarce fail to admire their martial and lofty 
spirit, their hospitality, and their bold and simple manners, 
equally removed from the suppleness of a citizen and the 
awkward rusticity of a clown ; and he would, probably, be- 
fore long discover, among so many qualities that excited his 
disgust, the rudiments of many virtues. 

" But an English traveller from India would view them 
with a more favourable eye. He would be pleased with the 
cold climate, elevated by the wild and novel scenery, and 
delighted by meeting many of the productions of his native 
land. He would first be struck with the thinness of the fixed 
population, and then with the appearance of the people ; not 
fluttering in white muslins, while half their bodies are naked, 
but soberly and decently attired in dark-coloured woollen 
clothes, and wrapped up in brown mantles, or in large sheep- 
skin cloaks. He would admire their strong and active forms ; 
their fair complexions and European features ; their industry 
and enterprise ; the hospitality, sobriety, and contempt of 
pleasure which appear in all their habits ; and, above all, 
the independence and energy of their character. In India, 
he would have left a country where every movement origi- 
nates in the government or its agents, and where the people 
absolutely go for nothing ; and he would find himself among 



298 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



a nation where the control of the government is scarcely 
felt, and where every man appears to pursue his own inclina- 
tion undirected and unrestrained. Amid the stormy inde- 
pendence of this mode of life, he would regret the ease and 
security in which the state of India, and even the indolence 
and timidity of its inhabitants, enable most parts of that 
count ry to repose. He would meet with many productions 
of art and nature that do not exist in India ; but, in general, 
he would find the arts of life less advanced, and manv of the 
luxuries of Hindostan unknown. On the whole, his impres- 
sion of his new acquaintances would be favourable ; although 
he would feel, that without having lost the ruggedness of a 
barbarous nation, they were tainted with the vices common 
to all Asiatics. Yet he would reckon them virtuous, com- 
pared with the people to whom he had oeen accustomed ; 
would be inclined to regard them with interest and kindness ; 
and could scarcely deny them a portion of his esteem." 

Such is the masterly sketch given of the Afghan countrv 
and people, whom we shall now examine somewhat more m 
detail. Their origin is obscure, and probably remote. Ac- 
cording to their own traditions, they believe themselves de- 
scended from the Jews ; and in a history of the Afghans,* 
written in the sixteenth century, and lately translated from 
the Persian, they are derived from Afghan, the son of Eremia, 
the son of Saul, king of Israel, whose posterity being carried 
away at the time of the Captivity, was settled bv the con- 
queror in the Mountains of Ghori, Cabul, Candahar, and 
Ghizni. The historian goes on to say, that they preserved 
the purity of their religion ; and that when Mohammed, the 
last and greatest of the prophets, appeared, one of the nation, 
named Kais, at the invitation of the celebrated Khaled ibn 
Walidj repaired to Mecca, and, together with his country- 
men, embraced Islam. Having joined the standard of the 
Faithful, and fought in their cause, he returned to his own 
countrv, where his progeny continued to observe the new 
religion, to propagate its doctrines, and to slay the infidels. 
No proof is adduced of the truth of this traditional genealogv, 
which assuredly has much the aspect of fable ; and the 
opinion of the intelligent author already quoted on the subject 
may be gathered from his own words. " I fear we must 



* By Neamut Uilah, translated by the Translation Society. 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



290 



class the descent of the Afghans from the Jews, with that of 
the Romans and the Britons from the Trojans, and that of 
the Irish from the Milesians or the Bramins." 

It is to be observed, that the term Afghan, as applied to 
the nation, is unknown to the inhabitants of the country, ex- 
cept through the medium of the Persian language. Their 
own name for themselves is Pooshtoon — in the plural Poosh- 
tauneh — from which, probably by the usual process of verbal 
corruption, comes the term Peitan or Patan, by which they 
are known in India. s 

But, setting fable and conjecture aside, there is no doubt 
that the country in question has been inhabited by their 
tribes from a very distant period. Those of Soor and Lodi, 
from both of whom kings have issued, are mentioned as 
owing their extraction to the union of Khaled ibn Abdoollah, 
an Arab leader, with the daughter of an Afghan chief, in 
A. D. 682. They are mentioned by Ferishta repeatedly, as 
having withstood the progress of the Saracens in the early 
ages of Mohammedan conquest. In the ninth century, they 
were subject to the house of Saman ; and though Sultan 
Mahmoud of Ghizni himself sprang from another race, his 
power, and the mighty empire of which his capital was the 
seat and centre, was undoubtedly maintained in a great 
measure by the hardy troops of the Afghan mountains. In 
fact, though these tribes have given birth to the founders pf 
many powerful dynasties, the individual sovereigns have 
seldom been contented to fix their residence in their native 
land. Thus the Ghorees, Ghiljees, and the Lodees, as they 
rose into power, turned their arms to the eastward, and 
erected their thrones in the capital of Hindostan. Afghan- 
istan, accordingly, has seldom been more than a province or 
appendage to some neighbouring empire ; and although the 
impracticable nature of the country, and the brave and inde- 
pendent spirit of the people, have often baffled the efforts of 
the most powerful princes, there is not a conqueror of _Cen- 
tral Asia by whom it has not been overrun and reduced to at 
least a nominal and temporary obedience. 

But a history of its various revolutions is not our present 
object. We therefore resume the account of those tribes 
which form the nation ; and, following the arrangement of 
Mr. Elphinstone, we shall first lay before our readers such 
characteristics as are common to the whole ; after which we 



300 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



shall make the individual exceptions that require notice. 
The tribes of Afghanistan, though at the present time infi- 
nitely subdivided, continue in a great measure unmixed, each 
having its separate territory, and all retaining the patriarchal 
form of government. The term of Ooloos is applied either 
to a whole tribe or to an independent branch of it. Each 
has its own immediate ancestor, and constitutes a complete 
commonwealth in itself. Each . subdivision has its chief.— 
a Speen Zherah* (literally, white-beard) or Mullik (master), 
if it consist of but a few-families, — a khan if it be an ooloos, 
who is always chosen from the oldest family. The selection 
of this office rests in most cases with the king, — in others 
with the people themselves. It is a peculiaritv. however, 
arising probably from the internal arrangement of an Af ghan 
tribe, that the attachment of those who compose it. unlike 
that of most countries, is always rather to the community 
than to the chief ; and a native holds the interests of the 
former so completely paramount, that the private wish of the 
latter would be utterlv disregarded by him, if at variance 
with the honour or advantage of his kheil + or ooloos. The 
internal government is carried on by the khan, in conjunction 
with certain assemblies of heads of divisions : such a meet- 
ing is called a jccrga, and before it all affairs of consequence 
are brought for consideration. But this system of rule is 
liable to many modifications. In all civil actions the statutes 
of Mohammed are generally adhered to ; bat criminal justice 
is administered according to the Pooshtoonwullee or usage 
of the Afghans, — a system of law sufficiently rude In con- 
formity with this, private revenge, though denounced by the 
moliahs, is sanctioned by public opimon ; and the measure 
of retribution, " an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," is 
strictly enforced. But the evil consequences of this retali- 
ating svstem. which leads to new disputes, and tends to per- 
petuate ever>- quarrel, have given rise to judicial jeergas, 
composed of khans, elders, and moliahs, who take cogni- 
zance of criminal actions, and inflict penalties suitable to each 
offence. These, when the crime has been committed against 
an individual, generallv include an humble apology to him, 
together with such compensation as seems reasonable to the 

* The same as Reish Suffcd in Persian, or Ak Sukhal in Turkish, 
t Kbeil is synonymous wUk clan. 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



301 



court ; and in this solatium the gift of a certain number of 
females is not unfrequently included.* The reconciliation 
is enforced by the acceptance of mutual hospitality, and 
is said generally to be firm and sincere. In cases of obsti- 
nacy, or delay in complying with the decision of the jeerga, 
the penalties are malediction and interdict by the mollahs, 
expulsion from the ooloos, and seizure of the culprit's prop- 
erty. 

There are likewise other modes of adjusting private dis- 
putes. An offender, in grave cases, presents himself as a 
suppliant at the house of some considerable man of his tribe, 
who, assembling a few other persons of respectability, to- 
gether with some seyeds and mollahs, goes to the house of 
the aggrieved party, taking with him the culprit dressed in 
a shroud. The offender then, placing a drawn sword in the 
hand of him he has injured, declares his life to be at his 
mercy ; upon which, according to the usage of Pooshtoon- 
wullee, pardon cannot be refused. A compensation is always 
offered for the loss sustained ; and if the individual upon 
whom it has been inflicted be averse to reconciliation, he 
takes care to be out of the way when the deputation arrives. 

The prevalence of feuds, and the passion for predatory ex- 
cursions, not only nurses a martial spirit among the people, 
but renders a military establishment indispensably necessary. 
The footing, however, on which the army is placed, varies 
according to circumstances. Thus, while in some tribes 
every man is bound to take up arms at the summons of the 
jeerga, in others the service of a foot-soldier for every 
plough, or of a horseman for every two, is all that can be 
required. These persons receive no pay ; but in some cases, 
when a horse is killed, its price is made good to the owner 
from the funds of the community. 

A family which for any reason is induced to quit its own 
ooloos may, by the customs and rules of Afghan hospitality, be 
admitted into another ; and, once received, it is treated 
with peculiar attention, and placed in all respects on a foot- 
ing of equality with the original members of the community. 
Every ooloos has many persons called humsayahs attached 
to it who are not Afghans : they are regarded with con- 

* This, as an Afghan always purchases his wife, is no trifling part of 
the penalty. 

Cc 



302 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



sideration, but not allowed to have any share in the adminis- 
tration of affairs. 

Of societies such as we have endeavoured to describe 
under their various designations of kheils, oolooses, and 
tribes, the Afghan nation is composed ; and circumstances 
have of late times placed it under the government of one 
common sovereign. His authority is, however, by no means 
paramount ; for the same spirit which leads them to prefer 
the interests of their respective clans to that of their chiefs 
is also repugnant to such devoted loyalty as would strengthen 
the power of a prince. Thus the sway of the late Dooranee 
monarchs, although sufficiently recognised among their own 
tribe and in the districts adjoining the principal towns of the 
kingdom, has at ail times been imperfect among those more 
remote, and among the mountaineers was scarcely acknow- 
ledged at all. Enabled through his great family influence to 
maintain an efficient army independent of the people, he 
possesses the means of interfering to a certain extent with 
the internal management of the tribes within his reach ; but 
even with them any attempt at undue authority would be 
resented. By way of illustrating the nature and condition 
of the Afghan government, Mr. Elphinstone compares it to 
the power of the kings of Scotland over the principal towns 
and the country immediately around them. The precarious 
submission of the nearest clans and the independence of the 
remote ones, — the inordinate pride of the court nobility, and 
the general relations borne by-all the great- lords to the 
crown, — exemplify very exactly, the corresponding imperfec- 
tions in the Dooranee constitution. The system,, notwith- 
standing its obvious defects, is considered by that author as 
not devoid of certain advantages, chiefly as affording a check 
to the corruption and oppression to which the officers of a 
despot are so prone ; and that, while conniving at little dis- 
orders, it affords a certain security against the great and 
calamitous revolutions which so frequently occurred, particu- 
larly upon the death of a monarch. It is not without much 
hesitation that we should venture to dissent from such au- 
thority ; though the facts seem scarcely sufficient to support 
the reasoning. Individual tribes may by their internal ad- 
ministration have partially escaped the effects arising from 
the subversion of the government, but nothing can be more 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



303 



wretched than the present condition of the kingdom of 
Cabul. 

The usages of the Afghans with regard to their females 
assimilate very nearly with those of most Mohammedan 
nations. Such as live in towns are secluded with the cus- 
tomary jealousy ; while those who dwell in the country are 
of necessity permitted to enjoy a far greater degree of lib- 
erty. As they purchase their wives, — a common Asiatic 
practice, — the women, though generally well-treated, are re- 
garded in some measure as property. A husband can divorce 
his spouse at pleasure ; but the latter can only sue for relief 
before the cauzee, and that on good grounds. As with the 
Jews of old, it is thought incumbent on a man to marry the 
widow of a deceased brother ; and it is a moral affront to 
him should any other person take her without his consent. 
The widow, however, is not obliged to enter into a new en- 
gagement ; and if she have children it is thought more be- 
coming for her to remain single. 

The age of marriage among them is twenty for the one 
sex and sixteen for the other ; but such as are unable to 
pay the price of a wife (which varies according to their con- 
dition and means) often remain unmarried till forty; In 
towns, the mode of courtship and the arrangements for mar- 
riage so nearly resemble those of the Persians that no par- 
ticular description is necessary ; but in the country, where 
the women go unveiled, and there is less restraint upon the 
intercourse between the young, matches are made as in 
European countries, according to the fancy and liking of the 
parties. It is even in the power of an enterprising lover to 
obtain his mistress without the consent of her parents, by 
cutting off a lock of her hair, snatching away her veil, or 
throwing over her a sheet, and proclaiming her his affianced 
wife. No other person will after this approach her with 
such views ; and the payment of her price (from which this 
act does not exempt him) induces the father generally to 
yield his consent to the match. If not, the usual recourse is 
an elopement, — which, however, is as high an outrage as a 
murder, and is usually expiated by the supplicatory process 
already .mentioned. 

"With regard to the intercourse of betrothed persons prior 
to marriage, the usages of tribes differ. Some enjoin the 
most positive separation until the knot is tied. Among 



304 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



others, the bridegroom is required to live with his father-in- 
law, and earn his wife by service, as Jacob did Rachel, with- 
out ever seeing the object of his affection. With a third 
class, again, an excessive and somewhat perilous degree of 
familiarity is permitted. Polygamy is less practised among 
them than in other Mohammedan states, probably on account 
of their poverty. The poor content themselves with one 
wife ; and two, with an equal number of concubines, are 
reckoned a liberal establishment for persons in middle rank. 

The condition of women in Afghanistan is nearly the same 
as in other parts of Asia. The rich in their concealment 
enjoy all the comforts and luxuries suited to their rank in 
life. The poor employ themselves in household labour, to 
which, among the ruder tribes, that of field-work is added. 
In towns they go about as in Persia, covered with a large 
sheet, commonly white, which envelops their whole person, 
and wear large cotton boots which hide the shape of the legs. 
In the country, the only restraint they he under is that of 
general opinion, which induces them to cover their faces 
immediately if they see a man approaching with whom tney 
are not on terms of intimacy. They are kind and humane, 
and at the same time remarkable for correctness of deport- 
ment. 

The Afghans conduct the education of their children much 
as other Mohammedans do. The poor send them to a mol- 
lah to learn their prayers and read the Koran. The rich 
keep priests as private tutors in their houses. In every vil- 
lage and camp there is a schoolmaster, who enjoys his allotted 
portion of land, and receives a small contribution from his 
pupils. When those intended for the learned professions are 
sufficiently advanced, they go to some city, Peshawer in par- 
ticular, to study logic, theology, or law. A nation so rude 
can have no high pretensions to literary attainments. Mr. 
Elphinstone has given some specimens of their poetical com- 
positions, which are not calculated to inspire any lofty ideas 
of their value. The Pushtoo dialect appears to consist of an 
original stock, embracing a considerable proportion of Per- 
sian, with a few words of Zend and Sanscrit ; but no trace 
of similarity could be discovered to the Hebrew, Chaldaic, 
Georgian, or Armenian tongues. In writing it they make 
use of the Persian alphabet and the Niskee character. 

In religious matters the Afghans, who are all Sonnees, are 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



305 



generally more liberal and tolerant than other Mohammedans. 
Hindoos, upon being subjected to a slight tax, are allowed to 
occupy the towns without molestation. Christians sustain 
neither persecution nor reproach for their faith ; sheahs are 
much more the objects of aversion ; yet the country is full 
of Persians, many of whom hold important offices in the state, 
and even in the royal household. SufTeeism is prevalent 
there ; and, though denounced by the mollahs, continues to 
gain ground, particularly among the higher orders. Even 
the dissolute doctrines of Mollah Zuckee* are alleged to have 
their supporters among the nobles of the court ; and to this 
day there are said to be about Peshawer some adherents of 
the sect of Sheik Bayazeed Ansaurie,t whose genius raised 
a storm that even menaced the throne of the great Akbar. 

The Afghans, in truth, notwithstanding their liberality and 
toleration, are fully as superstitious as any people on earth. 
For example, they are devout believers in alchymy and magic, 
in which they conceive the Indian ascetics to excel ; they 
have perfect faith in the efficacy of charms, philtres, and talis- 
mans ; they place all possible credit in dreams, divination, 
the existence of ghosts and genii ; and there is no nation 
more implicitly led by their priests. These holy men, who 
are deeply imbued with the esprit du corps, and are often 
persons of powerful and active minds, being in possession of 
all the learning in the country, and having in their hands all 
that regards the education of youth, the practice of law, and 
administration of justice, exert their influence so effectually 
as to control the authority of royalty itself. A power so ab- 
solute could neither be acquired nor maintained without some 
portion of intrinsic virtue and wisdom, and it is not denied 
that the authority of the mollahs is frequently exerted to 
repress violence and to prevent bloodshed. These sacred 
peacemakers are frequently seen interposing their flowing 
garments between two hostile tribes; holding aloft the Koran, 

* These sectarians hold that all the prophets were impostors, all 
revelation an invention, and seem very doubtful of the truth of a future 
state, and even of the being of a God. Their tenets appear to be very 
ancient. 

t Tnis pious person taught that the Divinity was pleased to mani- 
fest himself completely in the person of himseif and other holy men ; 
and that all those who thought otherwise were in fact dead, and that their 
goods, in consequence, justly fell to the lot of his partisans, as the only 
survivors. 

c 2 



306 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN 



and calling on the wrathful combatants to remember their 
God, and respect the ministers of their common faith. But, 
on the other hand, they are arrogant, overbearing, and re- 
vengeful : an affront, or even a slight, is resented in the most 
implacable manner ; and anathemas are hurled against the 
offender by a whole army of furious divines, who urge the 
rest of the community to avenge their cause. True virtue 
and piety are incompatible with such a spirit ; and we find, 
in fact, that the mollahs of 'Afghanistan are hypocritical, big- 
oted, and avaricious. They are fond of preaching up an 
austere life, and of discouraging the most innocent pleasures. 
In some parts of the country they even break lutes and fid- 
dles wherever they find them. They are sanctimonious in 
public, but some of them practise all sorts of licentiousness 
that can be enjoyed without scandal, and many are notorious 
for the practice of usury. 

Besides this blind regard for their mollahs, the Afghans 
are remarkable for their admiration of dervises, calunders, 
and other ascetics who lay claim to a peculiar share of celes- 
tial favour. The tombs of such holy persons are visited as 
places of worship by the pious, and in all ordinary cases are 
considered as asylums, — even from revenge for blood. So 
high is this respect carried, that a sovereign prince, in the 
presence of certain very eminent saints, will not sit down 
until he is entreated. 

One of the most remarkable characteristics of this people 
is their hospitality. The practice of this virtue is founded so 
much on a national feeling, that their reproach to a niggardly 
man is, that "he has no Pooshtoonwullee," — that is, nothing 
of the custom of the Afghans. There are some usages con- 
nected with this principle which deserve mention ; of which 
the most remarkable is that of Nannawautee (two Pooshtoo 
words, meaning, " I have come in"). A person having a 
favour to entreat, goes to the tent or house of the individual 
on whom it depends, but refuses to sit on his carpet or par- 
take of his food until he shall grant the boon required. Cus- 
tom makes it a point of honour to concede the request, if in 
the power of the party thus besought. A still stronger ap- 
peal is that made by a woman when she sends her veil, and 
implores assistance for herself or her family. 

The laws of hospitality in Afghanistan protect every indi- 
vidual without exception. Even a man's bitterest enemy is 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 307 



«afe when beneath his roof. This sacred regard to the per- 
sonal security of a guest is universally observed, or at least 
professed, by all savage and patriarchal nations ; and even 
among people more advanced towards refinement, the traces 
of such generous customs are still to be discovered. They 
appear to have arisen from the dread of those horrors which 
the want of a regular government would infallibly produce. 
Yet it is not less curious than painful to remark, how soon 
these laudable institutions — -these suggestions of the better 
•feelings of our nature — cease to operate upon the disposi- 
tions of the very men who affect to be so scrupulously gov- 
erned by them. The protection conferred by the rights of 
hospitality does not extend beyond the lands of the village, 
or, at most, of the tribe ; and a European would be aston- 
ished to find that, after the most kindly intercourse, the 
stranger who has received it is as much exposed as any other 
traveller to be robbed and plundered. 

" There is no point in the Afghan character," remarks Mr. 
Elphinstone, " of which it is more difficult to get a clear 
idea, than the mixture of sympathy and indifference, of gene- 
rosity and rapacity, which is observable in their conduct to 
strangers. In parts of the country where the government is 
weak, they seem to think it a matter of course to rob a 
stranger, while in all other respects they treat him with kind- 
ness and civility. So much more do they attend to granting 
favours than to respecting rights, that the same Afghan who 
would plunder a traveller of his cloak if he had one, would 
give him a cloak if he had none."* He attributes this sin- 
gular turn of mind to a defect in the Pooshtoonwullee sys- 
tem, which relies upon the exertions of the injured party, or 
of his family for obtaining justice ; while the impunity which 
attends the plunder of those who have not the means of en- 
forcing justice encourages the practice of rapine. But to 
this it may be objected, that the very same habits are found 
to prevail where there is no Pooshtoonwullee to account for 
them ; and the same causes which make the Arabs, the Turko- 
mans, the Belooches, the Kurds, and other wandering tribes 

* May not this originate in the pride of power, in the wantonness of a 
spirit of independence, as probably as in the mingled love of gain and 
liberality? The act of plundering, as well as that of bestowing, imply 
superiority of power, and thus gratify personal vanity. 



308 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



of Persia notorious as robbers, may suffice to account for a 
similar disposition among the Afghans. 

It is remarked that the pastoral tribes in the west are more 
addicted to robbeiy and theft than the agricultural ones. 
"With all"of them, however, except the Khyberees, a previous 
agreement with the chiefs will secure a safe passage through 
their territories, and even the presence of a single man is in 
most cases a sufficient protection. It is also said that the 
Afghans do not aggravate those crimes by murder ; and 
that though a person may lose his life in defending his 
property, he is not likely to be put to death after ceasing to 
resist. 

The common reproach of ignorance, barbarism, and stu- 
pidity brought against this interesting people by the Persians, 
is perhaps not well founded. They have not indeed the 
refinement possessed by some of their neighbours, and want 
of intercourse with nations more advanced in the arts of life 
may have prevented the expansion of their understandings ; 
but the hulk of the people are remarkable for prudence, good 
sense, and observation, to which may be added a sufficient 
share of curiosity. Though far less veracious than Euro- 
peans in general, and not very scrupulous about deceiving 
others when their interest is concerned, they are by no means so 
utterly indifferent to truth as the natives of Persia and India. 
Love of gain and the love of independence appear to be their 
ruling passions ; but the first influences their conduct as in- 
dividuals, the second sways them more in their social and 
public relations. Most of the Dooranee lords, for instance, 
prefer hoarding useless treasures to the esteem and power 
and reputation which liberality would command ; yet even 
with them personal equality and national independence is 
ever in their mouths. " Happy is the country', and praise- 
worthv is the government," sav they, w where every man 
eats the produce of his own field, and no one concerns him- 
self with his neighbour's business." But well as each loves 
his own freedom, the feeling appears to be exceeded by that 
of devotedness to family and clan ; and though this spirit 
tends to diminish their lovalty, and in some degree their pat- 
riotism, thev all take a lively interest in the u i\ung du Poosh- 
tauneh," or honour of the Afghan name, and prefer their own 
land to any upon earth. A native of the wild valley of 
Speiga, who had been forced to fly his country for some 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



309 



offence, was relating his adventures, and enumerating the 
countries he had travelled through, comparing them with his 
own. " I have seen," said he, " all Persia and India, Geor- 
gia, Tartary, and Beloochistan, hut in all my travels I have 
seen no such place as Spiega." 

They are proud of their descent, and will hardly acknow- 
ledge one who-cannot prove his genealogy six or seven gen- 
erations back. They are kind to all who are in their power, 
whatever may be their country or religion ; but vanquished 
nations are less considerately treated than individuals. 
Their fierce independence and affectation of general equality 
dispose them to jealousy and envy ; though where these pas- 
sions do not come into operation, they are said to be faithful 
friends ; and perhaps it may be owing to a principle of grat- 
itude and honour combined, that they are found to be more 
zealous in performing a service after having received a pres- 
ent than when it is only expected. 

" I know no people in Asia," says Mr Elphinstone when 
speaking of their character, " who have fewer vices, or are 
less voluptuous or debauched ;" but this is more remarkahle 
in the west, where evil example is less prevalent. They 
are industrious and laborious when pursuing any object 
either of business or of pleasure ; but when not so excited 
they are indolent. " To sum up their character in a few 
words," concludes the same judicious author, " their vices 
are, revenge, envy, avarice, rapacity, and obstinacy ; on the 
other hand, they are fOnd of liberty, faithful to their friends, 
kind to their dependants, hospitable, brave, hardy, frugal, 
laborious, and prudent ; and they are less disposed than the 
nations in their neighbourhood to falsehood, intrigue, and 
deceit." 

The men of Afghanistan are for the most part of a robust 
make, generally lean, though muscular and bony. They 
have elevated noses, high cheekbones, and long faces. 
Their hair is commonly black, though it is sometimes brown, 
and more rarely red. They wear long thick beards, but 
shave the middle of the head. The western tribes are 
stouter than those to the east ; the latter have the national 
features more strongly marked, and have usually dark com- 
plexions, although many are as fair as Europeans. In dress 
and manners the former approximate somewhat to the Per- 
sians, while those of the east have borrowed in the same 



310 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



degree from India ; and it is to be remarked, that the 
fashions thus once adopted are never changed. In their 
manners the Afghans are frank and open, equally free from 
stateliness and puerility. Their amusements are much the 
same as in Persia. W hen not in action, they are fond of sit- 
ting in conversation, and now and then passing round a cal- 
leeoon : but their favourite mode of using tobacco is in snuff, 
and of this. — a high-dried fine powder like the Scotch, — they 
use immoderate quantities. They are a very social people, 
and delight in dinner-parties ; at which, among the common 
and middle classes, the fare is generally boiled mutton, with 
the broth seasoned with salt and pepper, and in this they 
soak their bread. After this meal they usually smoke, 
or. forming a closer circle, tell stories and sing songs, the 
subject of which is generally love, and accompany them 
upon instruments resembling guitars, fiddles, and hautboys. 
Their, tales, like those of the Arabian Nights, are for the 
most part about kings and their viziers, genii and fairies, 
and always end with a moral. All sit silent while the narra- 
tive proceeds, and when ended there is a general cry of " Ai 
shawash !" (Ah, well done !) 

Among their more active amusements may be reckoned 
that of the chase. Large parties, both on foot and horse- 
back, assemble and drive all the game of a district into some 
small valley, where they attack it with dogs and guns, and 
often make a great slaughter. More frequently they go oat 
with greyhounds to course hares, foxes, and deer. In 
winter they track wolves and other w-ild animals in the snow, 
and kill them in their dens. They never shoot birds flying, 
but fire at them with small shot as they sit or run. There is 
little hawking practised, but they ride down partridges on the 
open ground, — an easy feat, as the bird after two or three 
flights becomes frightened and fatigued, and suffers itself 
to be struck with a stick. They are fond of horseracing, 
■and make matches at firearms, or bows and arrows. They 
likewise right cocks, quails, dogs, rams, and even camels, for 
a dinner or some other small stake. 

The Western Afghans are fond of a particular dance 
called the attum or ghoomboor, in which from ten to twenty 
people move in strange attitudes, with shouting, clapping of 
hands, and snapping of fingers, in a circle, round a single 
person who plays on an instrument in the centre. 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



311 



The dress of these tribes, which, indeed, seems to be the 
true national costume, consists of a loose pair of trousers of 
dark cotton stuff, a large shirt like a wagoner's frock reach- 
ing below the knees, a low cap resembling that of a hulan, 
the sides being of black silk or satin, and the top of some sort 
of brocade. The feet are covered with a pair of half-boots 
that lace up to the calf, and over all is thrown a cloak of 
well tanned sheep-skin with the wool inside, or of .soft gray- 
felt. 

The women wear a shirt like that of the men, but much 
longer, and made of finer materials, generally coloured or 
embroidered with flowers in silk. They have coloured 
trousers, tighter than those of the other sex, and a small cap 
of bright-coloured silk embroidered with gold thread, which 
comes down to the forehead or the ears, and a large sheet, 
either of plain or printed cotton, which they throw over 
their heads, and with which they hide their faces when a 
stranger approaches. In the west the females often tie a 
black handkerchief over their caps.* They divide the hair 
on the brow, and plait it into two locks, which fasten behind. 
Their ornaments are strings of Venetian sequins worn round 
their heads, and chains of gold or silver which are hooked 
up, and end in two large balls hanging down on either side. 
Earrings and finger-rings are worn, as are pendans in the 
middle cartilage of the nose. Such is the common t dress of 
either sex ; but it is subject to infinite variety, as it happens 
to be influenced by foreign intercourse, or difference of fashion 
in particular tribes. In towns the fashions approach those 
of Persia or India, according to the proximity of the one or 
the other country. 

The notices we have hitherto given refer principally to the 
Afghan race at large ; we shall now advert to a few of those 
peculiarities which distinguish individual tribes. The whole 
of these, according to their own traditions, have originally 
descended from the four sons of Kyse or Kais Abdooresheed, 
who, whether a real or only an imaginary character, is the 
person to whom all their genealogies refer. Their names 
were Serrabun, Ghoorghoost, Betnee, and Kurleh ; but these 
primary stocks have long been practically lost sight of amid 
the multiplied ramifications that have since taken place, and 



* A Persian fashion. 



312 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



more convenient divisions have been suggested by the vary- 
ing circumstances of the nation. We shall follow as far as 
possible the order pursued by Mr. Elphmstone, and classifv 
the whole, or at least the most important tribes, into several 
grand branches. These may be geographically arranged as 
follow : — 



Eastern Division. 

f EussurTzehees.* 
I Otmankheil. 

| I Turkolanees. 

£ <{ Peshawer tribes. 

•§ Khyberees. 

£ I Bungush. 
LKhuttuk. 

§ §, f Essaukhiel. 
■SJ | Sheotuks. 

Bun nooses. 
1* Dower. 



Central Division, 
including Moun- 
tain-tribei- 

Jaujees. 

Toorees. 

Jadrans. 

Vizerees. 

Murheils. 

Moonakheil. 

Zmurrees. 

Sheeranees. 

Speen Tereens. 



Western Division* 



^ f Dowlutkheil. 
° a ! Meankheii. 
J | < Baboors. 
£q | Stooreeanees. 
i. Gundepoor. 



DOORA.NK E 5 . 



Zeeruk. 
Populzehee. 
Allekkozehee. 
Baurikzehee. 
Atchikzehee. 



Punjpaw. 
Noorzehee. 
Alizebee. 
Iskhakzehee. 
Khouganee, 
Makoo, 



pi 

8 



Tooran. 
Hotukee. 
Tokhee. 



Sbeerpah. 
Kharotee. 
Wurduks. 
Baraiches. 
Tor Tereens. 



Boorhan 
Solvrnankheil. 
Alikheil. 
Under. 
Turrukee. 



The appellation of Berdooranees was bestowed by Ahmed 
Shah Dooranee upon those tribes who inhabit the north- 
eastern part of Afghanistan, enclosed between the Hindoo- 
Coosh, the Salt Range, and the range of Solyman ; and they 
exhibit several points of difference from the others. Situated 
in that part of the country which has always been the thor- 
oughfare between the two great empires of Hindostan and 
Persia, and near the cities" frequently occupied by the sove- 
reign, their manners and customs have attained greater 
refinement than those in more remote districts ; and being an 
agricultural people, the clashing interests of villages have 



* The word Zehee, which forms the termination of the names of so 
many of the clans, corresponds exactly to the Scotch Tick or Mac, or the 
Arab Ben, and means sons \ thus, EussurT2f/<e? means the sons of Eus- 

BUff. 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 313 



given rise to jealousy. They are therefore found to be brave, 
but quarrelsome ; active, industrious, and acute, but selfish, 
and not unfrequently dishonest, — more bigoted and intolerant 
than the others, and very much under the influence of their 
mollahs. They are likewise more remarkable for vice and 
debauchery ; and may, with the modifications arising from 
situation and circumstances, be ranked as the worst of the 
Afghans. 

It is probably a sense of the dangerous consequences of 
this quarrelsome disposition that has given rise to the pecu- 
liar alliances called goondees, which prevail among all the 
Berdooranee tribes except that of Eussuffzeh.ee. These are 
a species of league,* offensive and defensive, formed by in- 
dividuals or societies, either for the purpose of accomplish- 
ing some particular object, or for mutual protection on all 
occasions ; and they are considered as more binding than 
even the ties of blood. 

Among the tribes just named, the most numerous as well 
as the most haughty, insolent, and turbulent, are the Eussuff- 
zehees, who are said to amount to 700,000. Their original 
station was near Garra and Nooskee of Beloochistan ; but 
being driven eastward about the end of the thirteenth cen- 
tury, they settled, after various changes of fortune, like a 
swarm of locusts, upon the lands of the Dilazauks, whom, after 
throwing themselves upon their hospitality, they stripped of 
their possessions. They now occupy all the northern part 
of the plain of Peshawer, with the valleys of Punjcora, Swaut, 
and Boonere, — a fertile district, which, in spite of the dis- 
turbed state of the country, is cultivated with great industry 
and success. 

These barbarians are notorious for the anarchy which 
reigns among their oolooses, and which arises from the fierce 
impatience of authority that characterizes the whole race. 
A famous saint among them is said to have bequeathed to 
his tribe a blessing and a curse, — " That they should always 
be free, but never united." Considering the Afghan notion 
of freedom, he did not hazard much by the last part of his 
prediction. 

Even' in villages where members of various clans reside, 
as is frequently the case, each has its own cundee or quarter, 

* Mr. Elphinstone considers them as resembling the Saxon Sodalitia, 
Dd 



314 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN* 



the several inhabitants of which have no more connexion 
with one another than if they lived in different parts of the 
country. Scarcely a day passes without a quarrel, — each 
injury produces retaliation, and hence spring murders, am- 
buscades, and all kinds of confusion, suspicion, and strife. 
In every hamlet individuals are seen wearing armour to se- 
cure themselves against the designs of their secret foes, or 
surrounded for the same purpose with armed soldiers ; and 
these private feuds spread from individuals to families, and 
from them to clans, until whole tribes are involved in blood- 
shed for years, and even for generations. 

The Eussuffzehees, although described as an agricultural 
people, do not themselves, unless when very poor, perform 
much menial labour. The weight of this falls principally 
upon a class of persons termed by them fakirs, a sort of vil- 
lains or servants of the tribe. Of these, some are the origi- 
nal inhabitants of the country reduced to servitude by the 
invaders ; others are strangers driven by famine or oppres- 
sion from their native provinces ; and the rest are Afghans, 
degraded by circumstances to this low condition. These 
drudges are not permitted to hold land, nor to be present at 
jeergas, nor are they considered as members of the com- 
monwealth. They are subject to the person on whose 
grounds they reside, who is called their khawund (lord or 
master) ; to whom they pay a certain tax ; for whom they 
must work gratis ; and who can beat or kill them without 
incurring any penalty. On the other hand, the superior is 
bound by custom and honour to protect his fakirs. These 
persons may pursue what trade they like for their own 
benefit ; they may even rent land, provided only that they 
pay to the khawund the dues and taxes fixed by usage, be- 
yond which no one ever attempts to push his exactions. 
The general treatment of them is mild ; and the liberty which 
they possess of removing at will from the estate of one 
master to another is a powerful check against oppression. 

Living thus amid a conquered people, and scouting every 
idea of dependance, the Eussuffzehee is rilled with the 
thoughts of his own dignity and importance. So great is 
the pride of this nation, that they cannot endure to be put 
upon a looting even with the Dooranees, who are acknow- 
ledged by all to be the first of the Afghan states. They 
are irritable, suspicious, haughty, repulsive in their manners, 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 315 



fierce, and overbearing ; and, besides, they are generally- 
stout men. " In those whose appearance is most charac- 
teristic of their tribe, one is struck with their fair complex- 
ions, gray eyes, and red beards ; by the military affectation 
of their carriage, and by their haughty insolent demeanour."* 
They are, however, kind and liberal to their clansmen ; and 
a subscription is easily procured to relieve any one who may 
have fallen into indigent circumstances. In the upper part 
of their country they are sober and free from debauchery, 
but less warlike than such as live in the plains, who, on the 
other hand, are addicted to every description of profligacy. 
Those who dwell in the hills are illiterate and ignorant to 
an extraordinary degree. Mr. Elphinstone relates, that some 
of the Naikpeekheil, a clan of this tribe, found a mollah one 
day copying the Koran, and, not well understanding what 
he was about, struck off his head, saying, " You tell us these 
books come from God, and here you are making them your- 
self." Their companions blamed this rashness, and explained 
the mistake ; upon which the murderers owned they had 
been inconsiderate. Such, however, is the trifling import- 
ance attached to human life among the Eussuffzehees ! 

The Turkolanees, who are a far less numerous tribe, 
differ in many respects from their fierce neighbours. They 
are all subject to a powerful chief, who exercises over them 
a very absolute authority. Still they are brave, industrious, 
cheerful, and lond of amusement. 

The Khyberees, who possess the upper branches of the 
Speenghur Mountain, and derive their name from the diffi- 
cult pass of Khyber, on the right of the Cabul river, between 
Peshawer and Jellalabad, are the most rapacious and treach- 
erous robbers of all Afghanistan. A previous arrangement, 
with the payment of a small sum, and the presence of a 
single individual, will secure to a traveller an unmolested 
passage through the territories of every other tribe ; and 
even without this he may have some chance, at all events, 
of escaping unplundered. But no sooner do the hoof-tramps 
of a passenger sound up the hollow ravines of their formi- 
dable mountains, than troops of marauders flock to the spot : 
and if a caravan should appear, the ridges bristle with 
hundreds of them, matchlock in hand, who sit motionless as 



* Elphinstone. 



316 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



the gray stones around them, watching its approach, and 
choosing their victims. They are a lean but muscular race, 
with long gaunt faces, high noses and cheekbones, and wear 
dark-blue turbans, with sandals of neatly-plaited straw or 
dwarf-palm. They are capital marksmen and hill-soldiers ; 
carry firearms, with a wooden fork attached for a rest, swords, 
and short spears ; and are altogether more uncouth than 
most of their countrymen. In winter they live in terrace- 
roofed houses ; in summer, in moveable huts of mat, and are 
very impatient of heat. 

The tribes of Peshawer require but little notice ; for, as 
they dwell chiefly in the plain of that name, their manners 
approximate to those of the Eussuffzehees, while their vi- 
cinity to the chief cities reduces them to a state of greater 
obedience to the king, and of subjection to their own chiefs. 

The Khuttuks, who occupy the country on the banks of 
the Indus from the Cabul river to the Salt Range, are said 
to be a tall well-favoured people, remarkable for honesty and 
orderly conduct. Their southern oolooses inhabit the most 
dreary country that can be imagined. Nothing is to be seen 
but rugged and bare mountains confusedly heaped together ; 
nothing is heard but the roar of the salt torrents that rush 
down the valleys ; and the forlorn appearance of two or 
three straw-built hovels once in twenty or thirty miles rather 
adds to the desolation of the scene. 

There is not much in the tribes of Daman which requires 
a separate or particular notice. They are a larger and more 
bony race than the Berdooranees, often fair, and universally 
wear long hair and beards. Instead of the shirt and cap of the 
Afghans, they prefer a close-fitting dress of white cotton, 
resembling that of Upper India : they have large loose tur- 
bans ; and in winter throw around their persons great-coats 
of brown or gray woollen, and poosteens. They are little 
under the control of government ; and, until within these 
fifty or sixty years, lived in as complete anarchy as the Eus- 
suffzehees. Since that time an establishment of magistrates 
has been formed, named chelwastee (from the Pushtoo word 
signifying forty, the number of which they consist in each 
kheil), eligible by the mulicks or heads of families, and 
chosen for their personal character and qualifications. These 
functionaries are in their turn placed under a chief, called 
meerchelwastee, whom the whole tribe are sworn to support, 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



31? 



and whose office, being annual, threatens not to endanger 
the public liberty. This establishment tends greatly to the 
maintenance of order, not only by its own weight, but by 
supporting the authority of the several khans. It, is also 
one of the distinguishing points between the tribes of Daman 
and their countrymen ; from whom also they are said to 
differ, in being more simple and honest, less intolerant, 
bigoted, and litigious, and generally less vicious and de- 
bauched. 

Not so the Gundepoors, a branch from the Daman stock ; 
who are described as a lawless race, plundering all strangers, 
stealing from all their neighbours, and continually quarrelling 
among themselves. They are great merchants, and make 
annual expeditions to India and Khorasan ; yet this sort of 
intercourse seems to have had no effect in softening down 
the rudeness and brutality for which they are notorious. 

The Baboors, on the other hand, are a civilized people, 
employing themselves much in merchandise, and, on the 
whole, the most respectable and flourishing nation in Daman. 
The Stooreeanees were formerly all shepherds ; but a quarrel 
with a tribe of Caukers, through whose territory they had to 
pass with their flocks to the summer pastures, caused so 
many disputes, that the one-half betook themselves to agri- 
culture / — an example which was gradually followed by the 
rest. All these tribes have ryots, who, like the fakirs of the 
Eussuffzehees, cultivate the lands of their masters and pay 
a tax for protection, but cannot quit them without permis- 
sion, although they may, if they please, leave the tribe alto- 
gether. 

We next come to notice the members of the central divi- 
sion. Of these, the Jaujees and the Toorees, who are he- 
reditary enemies, live in the glens and valleys of the Solyman 
range southward of the Suffeid-Koh. The country of the 
former is colder, wilder, and higher than that of the latter ; 
the sides of the mountains are covered with pines ; and the 
inhabitants, who live in houses partly hollowed out of the 
rock, burn fires day and night the greater part of the year, 
and wear shirts made of blanket. The Jadrans are a people 
remarkable chiefly for their disgusting vices, who dwell in a 
pleasant district westward of the rich plain of Bunnoo. 

The Sheeranees inhabit the borders of the Tucht e Soly- 
man, a wild inaccessible country, including a few small but 
Dd2 



318 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



fertile valleys which they live by cultivating-. They appear 
to be very poor and uncivilized ; plunder every traveller who 
comes within their reach ; and are at war with all the world. 
Yet their faith is said to be unblemished ; and when a 
stranger takes the precaution of hiring a Sheeranee escort, 
he is secure in passing through their lands. They are 
generally of middle stature, thin but hardy and active, 
have bold features, gray eyes, and a manly appearance com- 
bined with wildness. They live in miserable holes scooped 
out in the hill, each having but a single apartment and en- 
trance, which last they close at night, even during winter, 
with a bush of thorn. They sleep beside their fires on black 
hair carpets, wrapped in their sheep-skin cloaks. Their dress 
is a coarse blanket tied about the middle, with another thrown 
over the shoulders. On their feet they wear sandals, the 
£oles of which are made of coarsely-tanned baliock-hides. and 
a piece of cotton cloth is twisted round their heads. Their 
chief, whom they call Neeka (grandfather), is the onlv one 
who is clothed in Moultan silk, which they deem the extreme 
of magnificence. He is the regular and only dispenser of 
justice, — he hears the parties, breathes a prayer, and, as if 
from the inspiration of the Deity, utters ^ decree, which 
dread of supernatural punishment prevents them from diso- 
beying. 

The Zmurrees so closely resemble the Sheranees, except 
in being less addicted to predatory habits, that we need not 
describe them. They occupy a similar country in the range 
of Solvman, and are equally wild and uncivilized. 

The Vizerees are another barbarous, savage tribe, who 
dwell in the territory north-west of the two last-mentioned 
races, among mountains nearly covered with pine. They 
live in little societies ; some under the dominion of powerful 
khans, some under a democratic form of government, but all 
are remarkable for cultivating peace. They are, however, 
notorious plunderers ; though the smallest escort secures to 
a traveller an hospitable reception. The Vizerees consist of 
a fixed and a moving population : the former occupy small 
hamlets of thatched or terraced houses, or, in some places, 
rocky caves, many of which are lofty enough to admit a 
camel, and others are three stories high. The wandering 
portion, which is the largest, dwell in moveable hovels formed 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 319 



of mats, straw huts, or tents, and in spring they go to the 
mountains, until the cold of winter drives them back again. 

There remains only to be mentioned the long valley of 
Zawura, which opens on the plain of Tull and Chooteeallee, 
inhabited by the Speen or White Tereens, a people employed 
in agriculture, and, as well as their neighbours the Tor or 
Black Tereens, great carriers of merchandise between Upper 
Sinde and Candahar. 

We come now to notice the more noble and important of 
the Afghan tribes who inhabit the western section of that 
country, — The Dooranees and the Ghiljees. Their territory, 
unlike the eastern division, consists in a great degree of 
high and bleak downs interspersed with hills. In some parts 
it is desert, — in others poorly cultivated, — in all bare, open, 
and fitted rather for pasture than the plough. 

Scattered over an extensive country, the Western Afghans 
are too distant from each other to acquire the vices which 
belong to a dense population ; each horde guides its flocks 
over its own extensive pastures, or cultivates the banks of a 
stream, or procures water from a cahreez without the risk of 
interference with their neighbours. This exemption from 
rivalry distinguishes them, as well as a sort of primitive sim- 
plicity, which bears a greater resemblance to the Scriptural 
accounts of the early days of man than to any thing among 
modern nations. 

The pastoral tribes, who form the principal distinction be- 
tween the Western and Eastern Afghans, live in tents of 
black blanket or camlet, called kizhdees. These are from 
twenty to twenty-five feet long, ten or twelve broad, and 
eight or nine high, supported by three poles in a row, the 
sides being well closed in by a curtain all round. Some be- 
longing to the khans are spacious, and so lofty as to admit a 
camel ; and those which are intended to be stationary, being 
usually lined with felt, form warm and comfortable dwellings. 
The greater number are moveable'; their owners, like the 
Eeliauts of Persia, changing periodically from their winter 
stations or kishlaks to their summer pastures or yeelaks. 
The country of the Dooranees is about 400 miles long by 130 
broad, and extends from the Paropamisan Mountains to those 
of the Khojeh Amran range. Its nature has already been 
described. This tribe, formerly called Abdallees, received 
their present appellation from Ahmed Shah, their sovereign, 



320 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



in consequence of the dream of a famous saint ; and he at 
the same time took the title of Shah Doore Dooran. 

The nine principal clans, which appear in our classification 
of the western tribes as having sprung from the two great 
branches of Zeeruk and Punjpaw, have increased to a mul- 
titude of smaller ones ; but that of Populzehee is the most 
distinguished of all, as having given a king to the Afghan 
people. The principal seat of the Suddoozehees (that sub- 
division from which the royal family takes its origin) is near 
Sheher Suffa, in the lower valley of the Turnuk. Mr. El- 
phinstone calculates the whole population of the Dooranee 
country at 800,000 souls. 

The leading points of difference between their nation and 
the other Afghans lie principally in the nature of their in- 
ternal administration and government. The king is their 
hereditary chief and military commander : to him all heads 
of tribes are bound to render the service of a horseman* for 
every plough of land ; and the officers commanding these yeo- 
men are the civil magistrates of the country from which they 
are drawn. These sirdars are further employed in offices 
of state and emolument about court, where they acquire a 
taste for wealth and splendour ; and the patronage thus 
placed in the hands of the crown forms a counterpoise to the 
power which the petty leaders might otherwise be disposed to 
turn against the sovereign. The working of this system when 
in full operation is said to have been excellent, and to have 
greatly promoted good order and the happiness of the people. 
The internal government of the clans is more justly balanced, 
and far better maintained than among any of the other 
tribes ; and though the spirit of revenge and retaliation is 
not less strong than elsewhere, the hand of law is able to 
repress its effects. From these favourable circumstances 
the progress of civilization and improvement has been infi- 
nitely greater among the agricultural Dooranees than among 
the eastern states ; the benefits of which are obvious in 
every part of their private and social establishments. Their 
villages are more respectable, and their houses better con- 

* This remarkable innovation on the customs of an Afghan tribe was 
effected by Nadir Shah, who introduced the system of military service 
among the Ghiljees and Dooranees. when he returned to them under 
this stipulation part of the country he had wrested from them by con- 
quest. 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



321 



structed ; while comforts and even luxuries are common 
within their dwellings. 

Almost every hamlet has in its neighbourhood the castle 
of a khan, — places constructed rather for privacy than 
strength ; where the chief has several apartments ; lodgings 
for his family, relatives, and dependants ; storehouses for 
his property, and stables for his horses. At one of the gates 
there is always a Mehman Khaneh, where travellers are enter- 
tained, and where the villagers assemble to hear the news 
and talk with strangers. The khans themselves are said to 
be sober, decent, moderate, and plain men, — a species of 
small country lairds, who treat their inferiors with mildness, 
and in return are regarded by them with respect and esteem. 
The lands are cultivated principally by buzgurs,* by hired 
labourers, or by slaves. The first of these are often the 
poorer individuals of the tribe ; the labourers are chiefly 
Tajuks, or Afghan Humsayahs ; the slaves, who are not numer- 
ous, are either Caufirs or Persians taken by the Belooches, 
with a few Africans imported from the coast of Zanguebar. 

The Dooranees are generally handsome stout men, with 
good complexions and fine beards. Some have plump round 
^ices, but the greater number are marked by the usual high 
Afghan features. Their demeanour, though manly, is modest, 
and they are generally void of frivolity or vulgarity. They 
are religious yet tolerant, and are considered the bravest, 
most hospitable, and, on the whole, the worthiest of their 
race. They are not, however, altogether strangers to ra- 
pacity ; for, though by no means such determined robbers as 
most other Afghan tribes, they are not without a considerable 
inclination to plunder. The Atchikzehees must be excepted 
from even this measured praise ; as they are rough and bar- 
barous in their manners, filthy in their habits, inhospitable, 
irreligious, and, to crown all, most inhuman marauders. 

The country of the Ghiljees lies to the east of that of the 
Dooranees, and occupies the upper section of the valley of 
the Turnuk, together with the greater part of that which 
runs north from Ghizni to Cabul, and a portion of the Cabul 
valley itself as far as the Berdooranee territory. In this 
tract is contained some of the principal cities of the king- 
dom, — Ghizni, Cabul, and Kelat e Ghiljee, — with some fine 



* A sort of petty tenantry. 



322 ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



cultivated districts, surrounded by still more extensive ranges 
of stony mountains, barren hills, and desert plains. The 
climate is generally cold, — the winter severer than in Eng- 
land, — the summer not much hotter. 

The Ghiljees were formerly the leading tribe of Af- 
ghanistan. Only a century ago they conquered and held 
temporary possession of Persia, and, though fallen from their 
sovereign state, they still remain a numerous, brave, and 
high-minded people. Their enmity to the Dooranees, who 
have wrested from them the sceptre and importance they 
once possessed, is deep and deadly.* Yet the ascendency of 
that tribe is so firmly established, that all struggle is now at 
an end, and they sullenly submit to the government of the 
conqueror. According to Mr. Elphinstone's estimate, they 
may amount to 100,000 families, and their principal divisions 
have been marked in the classification of tribes. The Ho- 
teekee and Tokhee are the noblest clans ; from the first 
spring the Ghiljee kings, from the latter their viziers. But 
the state of internal government among them is of a very 
inferior character to that of their, rivals. The khans have 
little power beyond their own families, and in the parts of 
their country near the towns the king's governor supplies 
the deficiency ; while, at a greater distance, the multitude 
of small communities into which the kheils are broken, be- 
trays the anarchy that everywhere prevails. In some places 
the Chelwastee system, which they have been forced to 
adopt, has produced a salutary effect ; but feuds are never- 
theless numerous and increasing. Yet, notwithstanding 
these unhappy quarrels, they are not considered as a violent 
or an irritable people. They live in much harmony with 
each other, are very hospitable, and deservedly rank as the 
second in character among the tribes of Afghanistan. The 
western Ghiljees, in manners, customs, dress, and appear- 
ance, closely resemble the Dooranees their neighbours. 
Those to the east differ widely from their brethren, and as- 

* A Ghiljee, speaking to Mr. Elphinstone of the animosity of his tribe 
to that of the Dooranees, admitted that they were " good people. They 
dress well, they are hospitable, they are not treacherous ; yet we would 
go among them and serve them, eat their salt, and then set fire to their 
houses ; our hearts burn because we have lost the kingdom, and we wish 
to see the Dooranees as poor as ourselves. They say, ' Come, let us be 
united.' You have taken our kingdom, killed our brothers, and led away 
pur women prisoners, and shall we unite with you ?' 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



323 



emulate rather in dress and habits to the tribes of Daman. 
They are perhaps the fairest and handsomest of all the Af- 
ghans. 

The term Tajuk is used, as we have before observed, in 
opposition to Toork, — the peaceable to the warlike ; arid it 
was applied to the subdued Persians by their Tartar masters: 
The word, whether descriptive of the same people or not, is 
common over a considerable part of Asia. In Afghanistan, 
they are supposed to be the descendants of Arabs, who, dis- 
placed in a great measure by their conquerors, now live scat- 
tered about upon land which they once perhaps cultivated as 
their own. They everywhere occupy fixed habitations, as 
tenants or servants to the lords of the soil, though sometimes 
in villages which belonged to themselves. They are in this 
state a mild, sober, industrious, and peaceable people, with 
more of the virtues than the faults of their rulers, and all 
zealous Sonnees. They are most numerous in towns, and 
compose the principal part of the population around the great 
cities. They are on good terms with the Afghans, who, 
though they regard them as inferiors, do not treat them with 
contempt. The inhabitants of Cohisian, the Burrukees and 
Poormoolees, with some other races, are all considered by 
Mr. Elphinstone as coming under the description of Tajuks, 
who, according to him, are found in the dominions of the 
King of Cabul to the extent of a million and a half. 

The principal cities of Afghanistan are Candahar, Ghizni,- 
Cabul, and Peshawer ; and of these the two first are cele- 
brated both in Eastern romance and history. The ancient 
castle of Candahar was situated upon a high rocky hill ; but 
Nadir Shah, after taking the fortress, perhaps unwilling to 
leave so strong a place in the hands of a people in whom he 
could not confide, destroyed both, and founded upon the con- 
tiguous plain a new city, which he called Nadirabad. This, 
which was completed by Ahmed Shah Dooranee, is now 
denominated Candahar, and occupied, in the time of Foster, 
a square of about three miles in compass, surrounded by an 
ordinary fortification. It was then populous and flourishing ; 
and, as it lies in the route which directly connects India 
with Persia, it is still an important entrepot. The bazaar is 
well filled, and many rich Hindoo merchants are found there, 
who occupy an ex tensive range of shops filled with valuable 
merchandise. 



324 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



The ruins of ancient Ghizni form a striking contrast to the 
flourishing condition of Candahar. Little now remains to 
tell of the glories of the mighty Mahmoud. " The Palace 
of Felicity," like other gay visions of human happiness, has 
passed away ; while the gloomy mausoleum which contains 
his dust holds forth a striking moral to the pride of kings. 
It is a spacious but not a magnificent building, and still ex- 
hibits memorials of the sovereign whose remains it protects. 
The sandal-wood gates which he brought from the temple of 
Sumnaut, continue to fill the huge doorways ; and the plain 
but weighty mace, which in the hands of the " Iconoclast" 
himself dashed the grisly image to the ground, lies idle and 
harmless at the head of the marble tomb. 

Among the few remains of the Ghiznevide monarchs, the 
most important is an embankment thrown across the stream, 
which, though damaged when that capital was taken by the 
Ghori kings, still suffices for the irrigation of the adjoining 
fields. Two lofty minarets, upwards of 100 feet high, mark 
the spot where stood the celebrated mosque impiously called 
" The Celestial Bride but a few mounds of rubbish and 
masses of ruins are all that remain of the splendid baths, the 
caravansaries, the colleges, and noble dwellings that once 
adorned the capital of the East. The present town, which 
is built upon a height, consists of 1500 houses, surrounded 
by stone walls, including three mean bazaars, and a covered 
charsu or square in the centre. 

Cabul, the capital of the kingdom, is enclosed on three 
sides by low hills, along the top of which runs a decayed 
wail. There is an opening towards the east, bounded by a 
rampart, where the principal road enters a gate, after pass- 
ing a bridge over the river. The fort or castle of Bala His- 
sar, which stands on a height northward of this entrance, 
is a kind of citadel containing the king's palace, in which are 
several halls distinguished by the royal ornament of a gilt 
cupola. There is an upper fortress, used as a state-prison 
for princes of the blood. In the centre of the city is an open 
square, whence issue four bazaars, each two stories high, 
and arched over at top. Most of the buildings of Cabul are 
of wood, — a material recommended by its power of resisting 
earthquakes, with which this place is visited. Though not 
an extensive, it is a compact and handsome town. Being 
surrounded by gardens and orchards, watered by fine streams, 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



325 



the beauty and abundance of its flowers are proverbial ; its 
fruits are in estimation far and near ; and its climate and 
scenery are considered as unrivalled in the East. One of 
the most pleasing as well as interesting spots is the tomb of 
the celebrated Baber, the founder of the Mogul empire in 
India. It is situated at the top of an eminence near the city, 
among beds of anemones and other flowers, commanding a 
magnificent prospect, which that great and kind-hearted mon- 
arch used often to enjoy when passing his hours of leisure 
with his gallant companions, on the spot where his remains 
now lie interred. 

Peshawer, the second city in point of population, stands 
in a fine plain, but upon an irregular surface. It is five miles, 
round, and when visited by Mr. Elphinstone might contain 
about 100,000 inhabitants. The houses were built of brick, 
generally unburnt, in wooden frames, and commonly three 
stories high. The streets were paved, but narrow and in- 
convenient. Two or three brooks ran through the town, and 
were even there skirted with willows and mulberry-trees. 
The streets and bazaars were crowded with men of all na- 
tions and languages, and the shops filled with all sorts of 
goods ; but at that time the city was the residence of the 
court, and had consequently all the bustle and glitter attend- 
ant upon such a presence. 

We now proceed to give a short account of the kingdom 
of Cabul, as it existed under the Dooranee dynasty. It is 
unnecessary for our purpose to describe the struggles of that 
people and the Ghiljees for power previous to the reign of 
Nadir Shah On the day of confusion which succeeded the 
murder of this monarch in June, 1747, a battle took place 
(between the several bodies of troops, in which Ahmed Khan 
Abdallee headed the Afghans and Uzbecks against the Per- 
sians. But the conflict terminated without a decisive result; 
and Ahmed, fighting his way through Khorasan, reached 
Candahar with not more than three thousand horse. A 
treasure coming from India for Nadir, which had been seized 
by the inhabitants of that place, fell into his hands after some 
opposition ; and Ahmed, at the age of twenty-three, assumed 
the ensigns of royalty at Candahar, in the month of October, 
1747, — the Dooranee, Kuzzilbash, Belooche, and Hazara 
chiefs assisting at his coronation. 

Possessed of a genius well calculated for command, and a 



326 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN, 



prudence and decision beyond his years, the young shah com- 
menced his reign by the wise measure of conciliating hrs 
own tribe ; after which he gradually gained an ascendency 
over the others. — a difficult and delicate task, in which he 
succeeded partly bv a show of moderation, and partly by 
firmness, and occasional coercion, to which the strength of 
his party among the Dooranees enabled him to have recourse. 
But the most effectual means he used for consolidating the 
discordant mass of the Afghan tribes was foreign conquest ; 
thereby at once giving employment to their military genius, 
and satisfying their love of plunder. 

The feebleness of the Uzbeck and Indian empires had been 
exposed and increased by their contests with Nadir, and 
Persia was already distracted by the dissensions which had 
broken out in the family of her late sovereign. India, at 
once rich and weak, was the most attractive point to com- 
mence with, and against it, accordingly, did Ahmed Shah 
first direct his attention and his arms. 

His conquests there having been already described in 
another volume of this work,* do not require any farther 
mention. Suffice it to say, that they confirmed his power ; 
and the monarchy thus established, which extended from 
Nishapour to Sirhmd of the Pimjaub, from the Oxus to the 
sea, was fashioned on the model of that of Persia. 

It was natural that the follower of a successful sovereign 
should avail himself of his master's experience ; and accord- 
ingly we find that in the general administration of govern- 
ment, and even in the arrangement of the household, and 
distribution of the offices of state, f the example supplied by 
Nadir was closely imitated, modified only in such points as 
might suit the peculiarities of the Afghan nation. We 
shall therefore omit all details on this subject, and the rather, 
because subsequent events have so deranged the whole sys- 
tem as virtually to have annihilated it for the present alto- 
gether. 

Ahmed Shah diedt at Murgha, in the Atchikzehee coun- 

* Family Library, No. XLVII. British India, vol. i. p. 260-262. 

f These were very numerous, and each wa9 distinguished by a rich 
and peculiar dress, which together with the brilliant display of armour 
and jewels, particularly about the sovereign's person, threw an air of 
great splendour over the Dooranee court, 

t Of a cancer in his face. 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



327 



try, in June, 1773, in the fiftieth year of his age, and twenty- 
sixth of his government. He was succeeded by his son 
Timur Shah, a prince who, from his natural indolence, was 
ill qualified to maintain the fabric of power which his father 
had raised, or to rule with efficiency so turbulent a nation as 
the Afghans. After a reign of twenty years, marked chiefly 
by rebellions and conspiracies, during which the weakness of 
the crown gradually increased, he died at Cabul in 1793 
without naming an heir, — an omission of little moment, as a 
faction, headed by his favourite queen and supported by the 
principal chiefs, placed Shah Zeman upon the throne, and 
kept him there in spite of all the other princes of the blood. 

The fortunes of this prince, who was deficient neither in 
abilities nor courage, were blasted by an ill-directed ambi- 
tion, and a mistaken policy, arising from the evil counsels of 
a haughty, but timid and avaricious minister. While he 
should have busied himself in consolidating his power at 
home, and securing the possession of Khorasan, he wasted 
his time in foolish invasions of India ; and, instead of en- 
deavouring to secure the good-will of his own tribe, he dis- 
gusted them by neglect, want of confidence, ill-judged parsi- 
mony, and finally by downright cruelty. A reign of seven 
years, which at first gave the fairest promise of success, was 
thus spent in bootless enterprises, and imbittered by a series 
of domestic rebellions and dark conspiracies, which at length 
ended in his ruin. After terrifying the feeble princes of 
Hindostan, and alarming even the rising power of Britain,* 
which sent an army to Anoopsheher to check the progress 
of the Dooranee monarch in his threatened attack upon their 
ally the Nabob Vizier of Oude, Shah Zeman was forced by 
disturbances at home to withdraw from the country, and fell 
a victim to the ambition of a brother and the revenge of an 
injured statesman. 

A serious conspiracy, in which some of the most power- 
ful nobles of the realm were implicated, was discovered by 
an accomplice, and the whole of those engaged in it were 
seized and mercilessly put to death. Futeh Khan, the son 
of Sirafrauz Khan, one of these leaders, and chief of the 

* It was with the. view of causing a division on the side of Persia, and 
thus relieving the apprehensions entertained for our Indian dominions 
that the first embassy under Sir John, then Captain Malcolm, was sent 
to Persia. 



328 ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



Baurikzehee clan of Dooranees, — a man of great talents and 
little principle, — fled to Mahmoud, .another of the princes of 
the blood-royal, and Zeman's most formidable competitor for 
the throne. Encouraged by his support, and strengthened 
by his genius, the insurgents increased so rapidly that they 
were able not only to oppose the shah, but finally to gain 
over his troops, and force him to fly. Betrayed by a mollah 
in' whom he had confided, the unfortunate monarch was 
seized, and by having his eyes put out with a lancet, was 
rendered incapable of checking the career of his inhuman rel- 
ative, or the schemes of his ambitious minister. 

But the reign of the usurper was destined to be neither 
prosperous nor lasting : his indolent, timid, and unprincipled 
character was ill calculated to uphold an unjust cause. Sujah 
ul Mulk, the full brother of the unfortunate Zeman, who had 
been left at Peshawer in charge of the royal family and 
treasury, immediately, on hearing of the recent events, pro- 
claimed himself king ; and, although frequently defeated, he 
at length, taking advantage of the absence of Futeh Khan the 
vizier, and of a religious prejudice against Mahmoud, suc- 
ceeded in overpowering all opposition, and in seizing that 
prince in his palace at Cabul. With a generosity unknown 
in these fierce struggles, he spared the eyes of his fallen 
kinsman, — an act of lenity which afterward caused his own 
ruin. 

Sujah ul Mulk, now king of Cabul, found his reward in a 
very disturbed and shortlived success. Futeh Khan made 
his submission to him ; but his moderate demands were im- 
prudently rejected, and he retired in disgust to his castle of 
Geereesh, where he employed himself in intrigues against a 
prince who, as he conceived, had both injured and insulted 
him. Rebellions were fomented, disaffection encouraged, 
and at length, in an attempt of the discontented vizier to 
raise another prince to the throne, Mahmoud escaped, and 
succeeded in joining his wily friend Futeh. This event was 
productive of the most disastrous consequences. A year 
afterward, the mission to Cabul, under Mr. Elphinstone, 
found the king still in possession of the throne. But before 
they quitted the country his fortune had yielded to the in- 
fluence of his rival ; and, after a succession of reverses, the 
ill-fated Sujah was forced to seek protection with Runjeet 
Sing, chief of the Seiks. Disappointed in not meeting with 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



329 



the sympathy or assistance he hoped for, and inhospitably 
plundered* by that ruler, the exiled monarch once more 
took to flight, and threw himself upon the generosity of the 
British government, who afforded him an asylum at Lood- 
heana. 

In the meantime Mahmoud, though nominally king, was 
nothing more than a pageant in the hands of the ambitious 
Futeh Khan, who conferred upon the members of his own 
family the principal offices of state and governments of the 
realm. But the country was disturbed by constant rebellions ; 
and the Seiks not only made rapid progress in the Punjaub, 
but succeeded in getting possession of the celebrated valley 
of Cashmere, which had been one of the Afghan acquisitions. 
Endeavouring to compensate by conquests in the west for 
their losses in the east, Futeh proceeded to reduce Herat ; 
and, by treachery as it is alleged, he made himself master 
of that city and of the person of Ferose Mirza, another son 
of the late Timur Shah, who had been residing there in 
retirement, paying to Persia a trifling tribute as the price of 
exemption from molestation. An intrigue with a discon- 
tented chieff of Khorasan was at length the cause of this 
able but unprincipled minister's downfall. Seduced by his 
representations and promises of assistance, he attempted to 
carry the Dooranee arms further into Khorasan ; but, being 
worsted in an action with the prince-governor of Mushed 
and thrown from his horse, it was not without difficulty that 
he regained Herat. There, by some singular oversight, he 
fell into the power of Prince Camran, the son of Mahmoud, 
who, cruel and overbearing himself, and long since disgusted 
with the arrogance of the minister's demeanour, reproached 
him with his unauthorized enterprise and signal failure, and 
directed his eyes to be instantly put out, — an order which 
was executed upon the spot. 

This inhuman act of revenge soon brought its own punish- 
ment. The brothers and relatives of the unfortunate vizier 
fled each to his own stronghold, where they immediately 

* The unfortunate king in his flight had managed to carry off several 
valuable jewels, and among others the celebrated diamond known by the 
name of " Koh e Noor," or " Hill of Light," described by Tavernier. But 
the ruler of the Seiks having learned this fact, never ceased to persecute 
his fallen guest till he consented to sell him this invaluable gem at a 
nominal price. 

t Mohammed Khan Caraooee, chief of Toorbut. 

E e 2 



330 



ACCOUNT OF AFGHANISTAN. 



busied themselves in taking precautions for their safety,-^ 
strengthening their respective parties, and exciting rebellions 
against the king and his son. Shah Mahmoud and Camran, 
on the other hand, carrying the blind Futeh Khan along with 
them, sought to allay these disturbances ; and endeavoured 
to compel their unfortunate prisoner to use his influence with 
his kindred to desist from their treasonable attempts, and 
return to their allegiance. But he steadily and indignantly- 
rejected all their persuasions. " The eyes," said he, " which 
lighted vou to a throne, and maintained you there, are now 
sightless ; — without them I am useless, and you are weak. 
Your barbarous imprudence has deprived you of your only 
sure guide, and, sooner or later, fall you must and will." 
Exasperated at his determined resistance, they directed the 
miserable man to be tortured, and afterward put him to death, 
as has been averred, with their own hands. 

The prophecy thus uttered was very soon fulfilled. Mah- 
moud and Camran were rapidly deprived of all their domin- 
ions, which, indeed, they did not dare to re-enter. Herat 
and its dependancies alone remained, and there they resided, 
paying to the crown of Persia the same tribute which had 
been formerly exacted from Ferose Mirza. The kingdom 
has since been rent into a multitude of petty factions, headed 
by the brother of the murdered vizier, or other great lords 
of the country, some of whom, in order to cloak their own 
ambitious designs, set up a pageant of the royal family, taken 
from the state-prison of Bala Hissar. Several of the remain- 
ing princes have, however, fled for refuge to Mushed in Khora- 
san, where they subsist upon the precarious hospitality of 
the government of that place ; and, whatever other power 
may hereafter rule in Afghanistan, no doubt can be enter- 
tained that the glory of the house of Suddoozehee has set 
for ever. 



NATURAL HISTORY OF PERSIA. 331 



CHAPTER XII. 

• Natural History of Persia. 

Geology of Persia— Knowledge of it limited— Table-land — Islands— 
Primitive Mountains between Ispahan and Teheran— Turquoise Mines 
of Elburz Mountains— Mineralogy of the country almost unknown — 
Iron, Copper, and Lead Ores— Rock-salt— Sulphur— Vegetable Pro- 
ductions— Animals— Arabian Horses— The Ass— Mule— Camel— Cow 
— Sheep— Dogs— Wild Animals— Lion— Tiger— Hyena — Wolf— Jackal 
— Red-deer — Wild hog— Mountain Goat and Mountain Sheep— iiirds 
of Prey— Eagle, Vulture, Hawk— Game birds— Bustard, Partridge, 
Quail— Fishes— Rept iles— Insects. 

Our knowledge of Persian geology is limited and imperfect. 
The author, indeed, is not aware of any other information 
on the subject than that which is containsd in certain me- 
moirs furnished by himself to the Geological Society, together 
with a series of specimens collected in his travels through 
the country. 

Persia has already been described as an elevated table- 
land, varied with many ranges and groups of mountains. 
Commencing at the south, we may observe that the Gulf 
appears to be a basin, shallow at its upper extremity, and 
lying in a calcareous formation, the extent of which on the 
Arabian coast is great, while on the Persian shore it stretches 
from some point in Mekran, probably to Bussora. Its limits 
towards the interior are uncertain ; there seems reason, 
however, from all that can be collected, to believe, that from 
Candahar on the east, to Kermanshah on the west, the 
major part of the mountains are calcareous. 

The islands in the Gulf are principally of the same de- 
scription. In Kishma, the largest, the cliffs of limestone 
were capped with coralline sandstone, which is sonorous, 
and yields with difficulty to the hammer. The sand thus 
agglutinated forms layers, ridges, and blocks, beneath which 
are beds of white, gray, or yellow marl, with oyster and 
clam shells, and much coral. The same remarks apply to 



332 NATURAL HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



the coast of Kerman at Gombroon, and probably at all other 
points. 

The island of Ormuz presents a singular assemblage of 
summits and ridges. The rock most prevalent is of a dark- 
brown or reddish colour, tinged with iron, and abounding in 
specular iron-ore and ochre. Then occur peaks of gypsum, 
as white as snow, with conglomerates, in which quartz and 
felspar are imbedded in light-gray hornstone. Pebbles of 
greenish chert, plasma, and brown or red flint, with particles 
of iron ore, are also found, with abundance of copper pyrites, 
crystallized in pentagonal dodecahedrons. Salt is extremely 
abundant, and not a fresh spring is found in the island. The 
same description, nearly, will suit Larrak, Anjar, and Polior. 

The low plain from Bushire to Dalakee is thickly sprinkled 
with sulphate of lime in crystals, the rocks and gravel being 
generally calcareous. The whole mountainous tract between 
Dalakee and Shiraz, and from thence to Ispahan, in the 
course of the usual routes, consists invariably of limestone 
and gypsum. The former is principally compact, splintery, 
of various shades of gray and yellow, assuming a stratified 
form, dipping to the north and north-eastward at angles 
varying from 15 to 45 degrees, but often disturbed and dis- 
torted as if by violence. The gypsum appears sometimes 
composing whole hills, at others in small lumps or veins, and 
frequently in masses of fine alabaster. Salt is very abundant 
in the ranges between Dalakee and Shiraz. Sulphuric acid 
is found, sometimes in a disengaged state, impregnating cer- 
tain earthy substances which impart it to water. Chalcedony 
is picked up in the course of several streams near Shiraz. 
In the higher regions between that place and Ispahan, nodules 
of chert were found in the limestone, as also pebbles of quartz 
and green serpentine, in a state of conglomerate united by a 
calcareous cement. 

Indications of a more primitive character showed them- 
selves in the heights near Dehgirdoo, in knolls of clay-slate, 
among which masses of quartz rock occasionally protruded. 
This description probably applies to the whole mountainous 
tract from Kerman to Kermanshah. 

Between Ispahan and Teheran the mountains were found 
to assume an aspect more decidedly primitive. Near their 
basis the upper and under strata were calcareous, tinged of 



NATURAL HISTORY OF PERSIA. 333 



various colours by iron, while the middle position was occu- 
pied by siliceous rocks, and the union between the two was 
so intimate as sometimes to be nearly indeterminable. Clay- 
slate was next observed, surmounted by granular limestone, 
and occasionally traversed by trap-dykes. Curious conglome- 
rates also occurred, some containing nummulites with white 
crystals running in veins through a cement of yellow or 
brown sand ; — others enclosing agate-like kernels of a brown 
hue. In breaking a piece of compact limestone containing 
nummulites, an echinus was discovered nearly seven inches 
in diameter. Higher up, granite, clay-porphyry, and coarse- 
grained granular quartz, quartz with chlorite, mica-slate, and 
trap-porphyry, made their appearance. The summits of the 
mountain, so far as could be distinguished for snow, were 
composed of dark iron-stained felspar-porphyry, reposing 
upon granite. White selenite lay plentifully scattered about. 
On the northern side of the ridge also these rocks were 
abundant ; but masses of trap-porphyry often occurred amid 
the granite, and veins or strata of light-coloured clay-porphyry 
occasionally traversed the granite and felspar-porphyry in a 
direction opposite to that of their strata. On descending to 
the skirts, calcareous substances reappeared plentifully, in 
the shape of earthy or marly hillocks of various colours, 
from ash-gray to dark-red and yellow. In one low range, 
near Kinaraghird, these hillocks contained much dark com- 
pact felspar, and a quantity of amygdaloid, with prase in 
green-coated kernels of great beauty. 

The long range of mountains, extending from the plains 
of Mogan on the west to the Paropamisan hills on the east, 
and which have been denominated the Elburz, are supposed 
to possess a primitive character. Porphyry coloured with 
chlorite, and compact felspar with green earth, were found 
in abundance in the torrent-beds ; — granite and mountain- 
limestone more rarely. Their skirts, however, exhibited the 
usual predominance of calcareous matter ; — masses of va- 
rious-coloured earth or marl, intermixed with glittering 
selenite, lay in confused deposites or in deep beds, which, 
cut by the mountain-torrents into ditch-like ravines often 
more than 100 feet deep, exhibited the alternate layers of 
gravel and clayey or calcareous detritus of which they are 
formed. In crossing the branches of these mountains the 
primitive rocks appear. Ascending on the south side by a 



334 NATURAL HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



pass in a hollow, ash-coloured shale was succeeded by quartz. 
Higher up lay gray, black, or yellow mountain-limestone 
veined with white, — a very common rock in Persia. Chlo- 
rite- slate, varying in colour from dark-gray to purple and 
blue-black, and quartz, in various shapes, composed the 
summit, which must have been between 6000 and 7000 feet 
above the level of the sea. On descending the north side, 
coarse-grained granite, combined with calcareous particles, 
was found in huge detached blocks, which at a still lower 
level gave way to large beds of common granite, frequently 
exhibiting columnar divisions. These mountains may be 
generally described as follows : — calcareous substances 
stretch along their eastern skirts ; on their southern acclivi- 
ties schistose rocks appear ; clay intermingled with quartz 
occupies the middling and higher regions ; while granite 
composes the lower tracts of their northern aspects. 

Traces of volcanic action are to be found in several parts 
of this range. The peak of Demawund, which rises full 
12,000 feet above the level of the sea, is undoubtedly to be 
referred to that origin ; and the frequency of earthquakes, 
which shake and sometimes destroy the towns at their feet, 
indicate the widely-spread elements of subterraneous fire 
which exist within them. 

The most interesting geological feature which occurs in 
the Elburz Mountains is the turquoise mines, situated about 
forty miles west of Xishapour. The base of the ridge 
where they lie is composed of white, gray, yellow, red, or 
brown porphyntic earth, interspersed with veins of brilliant 
red, disposed in hillocks, on the top of which rest beds of 
limestone, or porphyritic conglomerates. The mines were 
opened in the hill side, in beds of porphyritic earth, or in 
rock of the same material, deeply tinged with iron ; and of 
these substances in various shapes, often veined with mica- 
ceous iron ore, the mountain appears to consist. The tur- 
quoise (or calaite of Professor Fisher) is disseminated in 
veins, nodules, and irregular masses, and the crude matter 
of the gem is often plentifully dispersed in soft and pulveru- 
lent lumps, of a pale drossy substance. It is occasionally 
hard and compact, but, being full of flaws, it possesses no 
great mercantile value. These mines are the property of 
the crown, and are farmed out to the best bidder. 

Towards the western extremity of the Elburz range, as- 



NATURAL HISTORY OF PERSIA. 33# 



cending from Ghilan to Azerbijan, yellow splintery lime- 
stone was the first rock observed, although granite and 
breccia had several times been seen in the plain at the foot 
of the hills. Beyond this was the dark chlorite-slate. Next 
came a brown porphyritic rock, exposing spar-like substances 
on fracture, and easily decomposable. A conglomerate rock 
with a calcareous cement formed, so far as could be seen, 
the summits of all the mountains from Khalhal to Ardebil, — 
a distance of at least forty miles. 

On the road from Ardebil to Tabriz a dark trap-rock was 
generally found occupying the high positions. It was occa- 
sionally porous, and as it were honeycombed by exposure, 
but oftener heavy, solid, and sonorous. White compact lime- 
stone is prevalent around Tabriz, and, with large tracts of 
gravelly hills and beds of conglomerate united by calcareous 
cement, composes the greater part of the country in its 
vicinity. 

The mountains of Sahund, 40 miles south-east of Tabriz, 
exhibit great masses of calcareous conglomerate resting on 
a base of granite. Their summits are composed of porphyry, 
! sometimes containing crystals of glossy felspar and horn- 
blende. Some of the lower hills intervening between Sahund 
and Tabriz are covered with blocks and pebbles of a dark-blue 
rock containing calcareous matter. At the north-east corner 
of the Lake Shahee, or Urumeah, argillaceous sandstone 
and compact limestone were found, the latter containing a 
great many petrified shells of the pecten genus, which like- 
wise occur in many parts contiguous to the lake. 

The mineralogy of Persia may be said to be unknown. 
Iron is undoubtedly abundant, but is little manufactured. 
Copper has been discovered in Khorasan, Azerbijan,* and 
other places ; but the disturbed state of the country, as well 
as the want of confidence in government, deters men of capital 

| from working them. Lead is by no means scarce, — the mines 
of Fars and Kerman supply the greater part of the demand, 

■ though a certain quantity is imported from India. Antimony 
is also found, but little used. There are no mines of silver 

t or gold worthy of notice. Rock-salt is plentiful all over the 

* An attempt has lately been made by some English gentlemen, sup- 
ported by a mercantile house in London, to work the copper mines in 
Azerbijan ;— we have not heard with what success, 



336 



NATURAL HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



country. The mines of Khameer yield a copious supply of 
sulphur, which is also found in many other places ; and 
naphtha is likewise a very common, cheap, and useful pro- 
duction. 

The empire of Persia, as described in the preceding pages, 
is by the natives divided into two distinct climates, the Gur- 
maseer and Sirhud (warm and cold regions), and the produc- 
tions of these necessarily differ from each other. The former 
comprehends the lower part of Beloochistan, Mekran, Ker- 
man, and Larisran, together with the southern parts of Fars and 
Kuzistan ; and these provinces, particularly those farthest 
to the east, are rich in many of the productions of India. 

By Mr. Pottinger we are informed, that all the grains of 
Hindostan are produced in Lus, and the southern parts of 
Beloochistan and Mekran. Bajeree, joar (Holcus sorgum), 
moongee (Phaseolus mungo.) tel (Sesamum), maize, dal (a 
vetch), oord-mutter (a sort of pea), chunna (Cicer arietinum), 
with rice, barley, and wheat, form the usual crops : cotton, 
indigo, sugar, and madder, are cultivated with perfect success. 
In addition to the chinar or Platanus Oricntalis. the walnut, 
and other trees of higher latitudes, the uphoor (a variety of 
Ziziphus jujuba), the peepul (Ficus rcligiosa), the neem 
(Melia azaderachta), the seesoo (Dalbergia sccso), the mango, 
the guava, the orange, the lemon, the babool (Mimosa Ara~ 
bica), and more than one species of the tamarisk, are found 
embellishing favoured spots, where moisture encourages vege- 
tation. The water-courses in Mekran are filled with under- 
wood of oleander, tamarisk, babool, and other thorny shrubs, 
which give harbour to a multitude of wild animals. 

Among the most valuable productions of this scorching 
climate is the date-tree, which here, as in Arabia, seems to 
require the full influence of a burning sun to ripen its deli- 
cious fruit. It flourishes only in the lowest and hottest parts 
of the region now under our consideration. 

Kelat of Beloochistan is situated in a climate which greatly 
resembles that of Europe, and its bazaars exhibit as various 
a displav of fruits and vegetables as can, perhaps, be found 
in any quarter of the world. Apricots, peaches, nectarines, 
plums, apples, pears, quinces, and grapes, of various and 
delicious kinds ; figs, pomegranates, mulberries, guavas, plan- 
tains, melons, currants, cherries, almonds, walnuts, and pis- 
tachio nuts, are sold in profusion for a trifle ; and the culinary 
vegetables, as turnips, carrots, cabbages, lettuces, cauli- 



NATURAL HISTORY OF PKRSIA. 



337 



flowers, peas and beans, radishes, celery, onions, garlic 
parsley, eggfruit, cucumbers, and others, yield not in ex- 
cellence to those in Europe. 

On ascending from the Dushtistan of Fars, by the pass of 
the Doochter and Peerazun, to the level of Shiraz and the 
region around it, we lose sight of those fruits and plants 
that love a warm climate. Among the trees that then attract 
our notice, are the stately chinar, the dark aspiring cypress, 
the picturesque pinaster, the tall Lombardy poplar, and the 
willow. The plains are covered with a stunted and prickly 
herbage, including the cameUhorn (Hedysarum alhaje), the 
wild-liquorice, the benak or spice-plant, the soapwort, a 
species of wild rue, and many others. Among them the 
stalk of the gum-ammoniac rears itself upon most of the 
gravelly plains of Irak and Khorasan, dropping its bitter tears 
upon the waste. 

The mountains between Kauzeroun and Shiraz, and those 
of the Buchtiarees and of Kurdistan, are in many places 
covered with dwarf oak ; while the konar or cornel-bush 
(the corrundah of Hindostan), with the wild or bitter almond, 
are scattered over their rocky sides, and on the little plains 
that lie imbosomed among them. 

Though the orchards of Persia are rich in all the fruits of 
Europe, the timber-trees of the great central tracts are 
chiefly limited to the chinar, Lombardy poplar (Persice sen- 
dar), a bushy species of elm, the common and the sweet- 
scented willow named singid, and a few pinasters. Walnut- 
trees grow everywhere to a magnificent size ; but the cypress 
does not thrive in the colder provinces. Cotton, tobacco, 
the opium-poppy, vines and figs, as well as the mulberry, are 
to be found all over the country. The Palma Christi is 
chiefly confined to the warmer provinces. Two sorts of 
tamarisk, including that which yields the gezungabeen or 
manna, appear in moist and low spots. 

Among the most valuable and remarkable productions of 
the eastern parts of this country, is the asafatida plant, 
which abounds in some parts of Khorasan, in Beloochistan, 
and Afghanistan. Its stem is from one to two and a half feet 
in height ; the leaves resemble those of the Indian beet-root ; 
and when ripe it produces a cauliflower-like head of a light 
straw colour. The milky juice extracted near the root con- 
geals into the well-known gum, of which each plant yields about 
F f 



338 Natural history of Persia. 



a pound ; but the plants themselves, especially when youngs 
are prized as a high delicacy by the natives, who stew or 
roast the stem, and boil or fry the head and leaves with 
clarified butter. In this way its smell is even stronger and 
more rank than when in the form of a drug, and none but those 
accustomed to it can endure its offensive effluvia. 

The low-lying provinces upon the banks of the Caspian 
Sea afford a prodigal display of the riches of the vegetable 
world ; but although it is a sight to feast the eye which has 
been seared by long dwelling on the brown plains of Upper 
Persia, it probably affords few materials for botanical research, 
as the productions are principally those already well-known 
in Europe. The hills are covered with oak, elm, sycamore, 
beech, ash, walnut, and box-wood ; and the marshes and 
flats which skirt the mountain-foot displav, besides a noble 
growth of magnificent alder, several varieties of poplar and 
willow. At the same time even 7 species of European fruit- 
tree is found growing in wild luxuriance, mingled with im- 
pervious thickets of wild-pomegranate, plum, blackthorn, rasp- 
berry, bramble, and other stubborn bushes, interlaced with 
various creeping plants, all of which in spring are covered 
with a sheet of the loveliest blossom. In these more favoured 
climes the orange and the lime again are found enriching the 
gardens of the great, and the sombre cypress rears its pic- 
turesque yet formal shape, although sometimes sadly pinched 
and broken down by a severe snow-storm. Wild-vines hang 
in graceful festoons from bough to bough, mantling up the 
gigantic trees ; while beneath them, wherever the swamp 
does not stretch its stagnant waters, the eye is refreshed by 
a carpet of the richest verdure, enamelled with the loveliest 
flowers. 

Among the flowers of Persia, the rose, in many varieties 
and in boundless profusion, asserts the first rank. Beds of 
tulips, anemones, ranunculuses, lilies, jonquils, narcissuses, 
hyacinths, the lily of the valley, pinks, gilliflowers, sunflowers, 
marigolds, jasmines, and violets, embellish the gardens or the 
•fields ; and even the hard gravel, of which the greater part 
of the extensive plain consists, is tinged in spring with lovely 
hues by the blossoms, chiefly of bulbous-rooted plants, that 
start in perfect sheets, without leaf or stem, from the seem- 
ingly impenetrable soil. 

Such is a very general summary of the vegetable produc- 



NATURAL HISTORY OF PERSIA. 339 



tions of Persia. In the animal kingdom we also recognise 
many of those genera and species which are common to other 
parts of Asia and Europe. In truth, with the exception of 
the camel, the domestic animals of the region we have been 
describing are, with no very material varieties, the same as 
those in our own quarter of the globe ; namely, the horse, 
the ass, the mule, the camel, the cow, the buffalo, the sheep, 
the goat, and the dog. 

There is no people, perhaps, who are better entitled to 
the appellation of " a nation of horsemen" than the Persians : 
and in no country, not even in England, where so much science 
and expense are lavished upon the stable, is greater attention 
paid to the management of their horses. There are various 
breeds in Persia ; but the most esteemed are those of the 
Turkoman tribes, when duly mingled with Arab blood. No 
one devoted more pains to the improvement of this animal 
than Nadir Shah. Perfectly alive to the value of the Arabian, 
he sent into Khorasan the finest specimens he could procure 
from the plains of Nejed, and the result quite equalled his 
expectations. The powers of endurance possessed by the 
Turkoman horses have already been more than once alluded 
to in the course of this work, as well as the modes used to 
train them ; and it is scarcely necessary to remark again, 
that the feats these animals are made to perform stand un- 
matched by those of the best coursers in England.* Nor 
are the valuable qualities of these, and the other breeds of 
Persian horses, confined to the animals of highest extraction ; 
on the contrary, it is not unfrequently found that the smaller 
and less noble ones, — the yahoos, as they are called, which 
in this country would be held as no better than ponies or 
galloways, — will often do the most work, and endure the 
hardest labour ; and the distance to which these creatures, 
loaded with three cwt. and upwards, will day after day pro- 
ceed over the worst roads, clambering up steep passes, and 
along the beds of stony torrents, is truly surprising. 

The price of the finer horses in Persia varies, of course, 
according to size or beauty, but principally according to 
breed. It may be held to range from 50/. to 300/., and 

* Sir John Malcolm relates, that a horseman, mounted on a Turkoman 
horse, brought him a packet of letters from Shiraz to Teheran, a distanot 
of more than 500 miles, within six days. 



340 



NATURAL HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



even 400/. sterling ; though none of high blood can be pro- 
cured for less than 100/. The common horses of the coun- 
try, among which some prove excellent, may be purchased 
at from 15/. to 40/., and such yaboos as we have spoken of, 
if proved to be good workers, may be estimated at a similar 
value. 

The Persians do not deform their horses by cutting their 
tails : bat, by knotting them up in a peculiar manner, they 
shorten them, so that they do not incommode their riders. 
The harness is simple, and generally plain ; the saddle, 
which by a European would be held as neither comfortable 
nor convenient, rises high above the horse's back, and is 
generally adorned w r ith a demi-peak mounted in gold or 
silver ; the stirrup-iron on which the foot rests is sharp, and 
answers the purpose of a spur ; and the bridle is but a single 
rein attached to a powerful bit. Ornaments are often sus- 
pended under the throat and above the forehead ; while 
silver chains are sometimes twisted round the animal's neck. 
The led horses, or yedeks, which always form a principal 
part of a great man's retinue, have their saddles covered 
with very gay cloths, one of which is generally spread on 
the ground to sit upon. 

-The ass of Persia is, generally speaking, as poor and mis- 
erable a drudge as it is in other quarters ; but some are of 
a very superior size and description. The best are of Ara- 
bian descent, and sell at large prices. One of particularly 
fine temper and easy paces will bring as much as 40/. ster- 
ling. They are generally preferred by the priesthood ; and 
the higher orders of that body may be seen pacing soberly 
along, blessing the people on either hand, and receiving in 
turn the most profound obeisances. 

Perhaps there is no animal more remarkable for power of 
endurance than the mules of Persia. They seldom attain a 
large size, but their strength is prodigious. The loads they 
usually carry are about three cwt., with which they travel 
day after day along the execrable roads and over the rough 
colhuls of the country (still preserving their condition), at 
the rate of from twentv-five to fifty miles a day, according 
to the distance of the resting-places. The writer of these 
pages saw three of these creatures just taken off grass, 
where they had been for a considerable time usiworked, and 
sent off heavily laden from Kauzeroun to Shiraz, a distance 



NATURAL HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



341 



of fifty-seven miles, including two of the worst cothuls in the 
kingdom. They performed this journey with only one halt 
of five or six hours, the latter stage, extending to more than 
forty miles, being completed without a stop. It is remark- 
able that the muleteers never remove the packsaddles from 
these animals except to clean and curry them. If the back 
is galled, they remove a part of the stuffing from above the 
tender spot, and then replace the load as before ; finding by 
experience that such sores, unless healed under the saddle, 
are apt to break out again. The price of good baggage- 
mules may vary from 20/. to 30/. sterling. 

There are three sorts of camels used in Persia ; those 
having one hump, those with two, and a third produced by 
the union of these varieties ; which last are esteemed 
stronger, more docile and patient than either of the parents, 
and for that reason greatly preferred. These animals are 
low in proportion to their bulk, have short stout bony legs, 
are of remarkable breadth, and carry a great quantity of 
shaggy hair upon their necks, shoulders, haunches, and on 
the crown of the head. They are not permitted to breed ; 
as the progeny, instead of inheriting the gentle qualities of 
their parents, are said to be extremely vicious. These ani- 
mals carry from 700 to 1100 lbs. English, and have a won- 
derful faculty of enduring fatigue, hunger, and thirst ; their 
selling price varies from 10/. to 15/. apiece. 

The cow and sheep of Persia require no particular notice. 
The breeds of the first are neither distinguished for size nor 
beauty : those to the eastward exhibit more or less of the 
Indian hump, as they have been more or less crossed with 
the animals of that country. The sheep are principally of 
the fat-tailed sort ; and it is remarkable that, although they 
constitute one chief source of the wealth and property of a 
very large class of the inhabitants, no attention whatever is 
paid to their improvement. Their flesh is generally excel- 
lent, and forms the chief part of the animal food used in the 
country. 

The dog in Persia, notwithstanding some superstitious 
restrictions, becomes, as elsewhere, the companion and as- 
sistant of man. Surrounded by nations of thieves, it would 
he impossible for a camp or village to preserve its property 
a single, night without these vigilant guards ; and, accord- 
ingly, most tribes and hamlets provide themselves with a 
Ff 2 



342 



NATURAL HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



breed of large ones, which are so fierce and watchful that 
none can approach the precincts guarded by them without 
causing alarm. The species employed are various, but all 
appear to be descendants of the mastiff and shepherd's dog, 
probably with some cross of the wolf. Besides these the 
Persians rear a kind of greyhound, with which they course 
antelopes, foxes, and hares. They have generally long silken 
hair upon their quarters, shoulders, ears, and tail. In some 
places, too, there is a description of pointer, which is trained 
to find the game by scent, and to catch it on the ground. 
These vary in their appearance, but some resemble the slen- 
derer breeds of our own smooth class. 

Persia, generally speaking, is too open and too barren to 
be very largely stocked with wild animals ; yet it cannot be 
charged with a deficiency of game, either as regards quality 
or variety. The lion itself is to be found on the plains of 
Kuzistan, on the banks of the Tigris, in many parts of Far, 
in Beloochistan, occasionally in Mazunderan, and probably 
in many other parts of the countries under consideration. 
It is smaller than that of Africa, and rather resembles the 
native of India. Tigers are rare ; leopards, chittahs or 
hunting-leopards, tigercats, lynxes, and bears, are more nu- 
merous. Hyenas, wolves, jackals, foxes, abound every- 
where : of the latter, some are occasionally seen white, or 
of a silver-gray. Mr. Pottinger mentions wild dogs in Be- 
loochistan, that hunt in packs of twenty or thirty together, 
and which have been known to run down and kill a bullock 
in twenty minutes. Jerboas swarm in the deserts. Ante- 
lopes are abundant in most parts, and several sorts of deer 
occur in various places. In Beloochistan we are informed 
that red-deer are frequent ; the gour-khur or wild ass, is 
scattered, though more rarely, over all the plains and rocky 
recesses of the country, particularly in the deserts of Kho- 
rasan and the exteneive valleys of Fars and Irak. This ani- 
mal, the favourite game of the Persian kings and khans, is 
from ten to twelve hands high, having a smooth skin covered 
with reddish hair, except on the hinder parts and belly, which 
are of a silvery gray ; the mane and tuft at the end of its 
tail are black, its head and ears are large, but the legs are 
slender and formed for that speed for which the animal is so 
remarkable. 

The wild hog is another animal found abundantly in many 



NATURAL HISTORY OF PERSIA. 343 



paits, particularly in swampy and wooded places ; and, 
although not eaten, is often made the object of sport. The 
porcupine and mangousti are frequent, and the mongoose is 
enumerated among the animals of Beloochistan. Hares are 
met with everywhere, and several species of the ferret or 
weasel also occur ; as do rats, mice, and bats, in the usual 
abundance, — the latter, indeed, swarm in all ruins and cav- 
erns. The Persian cat, with its silky hair, is a well-known 
favourite with those who are fond of such domestic in- 
mates. 

Two of the most interesting creatures to be met with in 
those countries are the booz or pazun (the mountain-goat), 
and the argali, or mountain-sheep. The male of the latter 
is magnificent, portly, bold, and very strong, resembling a 
lion in the neck and shoulders, which are covered with a 
reddish hair that curls closely around the fore-quarters. 
He is armed with a pair of immense horns, crooked and 
twisted. 

As birds of prey may be enumerated eagles, vultures, 
hawks, and falcons of several sorts, with kites and crows in 
abundance ; and Mr. Pottinger mentions that he observed 
magpies at Kelat of Beloochistan. Among winged game 
are bustards, termed by the Persians ahoobarras, together 
with a smaller species of the same bird, red-legged and com- 
mon gray partridges, with a smaller sort rather resembling 
the quail. The toivee or desert-partridge, also called bogra 
kara from its black breast, abounds in all the plains. Phea- 
sants, called karagoul, are numerous in Mazunderan and As- 
trabad. Storks, herons, wild ducks, plovers, and lapwings, 
snipes, and divers, occur in spots suited to their respective 
habits. Pelicans are seen in the wilderness ; cormorants, 
curlews, and other sea-fowl, frequent the shores of the gulf, 
and, with sea-eagles and other species, are most abundant on 
the banks of the Caspian Sea. The forests which fringe 
that sheet of brackish water, are vocal with a variety of 
those singing-birds common to Europe ; among which it 
would be unpardonable to omit the blackbird, the thrush, 
and the nightingale, which delight the ear with their 
evening song from the thickets of roses that embellish every 
garden * 



* Morier mentions having seen a white swallow at Bushire. 



344 NATURAL HISTORY OF PERSIA. 



Of fish, in a country which possesses so few rivers, we 
are not to look for either abundance or variety ; nor do the 
inhabitants make any great use of what they have. The 
shores of the Gulf are well supplied, it is true ; and the 
people of Mekran still merit the name of Ichthyophagi, ap- 
plied to them of old. The Caspian Sea also seems amply 
stocked with various sorts ; but little use is made by those 
who inhabit its shores of this bountiful provision of nature. 
The rivers which flow into it abound with sturgeon and 
sterlet, which are cured for the Russian market ;* and 
salmon and herring are taken in abundance in the Bay of 
Salian, and on the western shore. Several other species 
occur ; but they are seldom seen in the towns near which 
they are caught. The Lake Zerrah in Seistan is likewise 
said to abound in fish ; but we have no information regard- 
ing the species. Trouts are found in several of the streams 
of Azerbijan and Kurdistan. But the most remarkable zoo- 
logical fact connected with the subject is, that the subterra- 
neous aqueducts formed by art, and which, originating in 
springs thus brought to light, are exhausted in irrigating the 
surface of the land, are yet frequently found to swarm with 
a species of leather-mouthed and bearded fish, which grows 
to a considerable size. The natives make no use of them, 
and of course cannot be supposed to have used any means 
for introducing the breed. They are perfectly wholesome 
and well tasted, but of no great delicacy. 

Persia is generally but little infested by reptiles or trouble- 
some insects ; though there are some curious exceptions. 
The poisonous bug of Miana and the black scorpion of Ca- 
shan are notorious for their destructive qualities. Tarantu- 
las and overgrown spiders, said to be venomous, are also 
seen ; and large wasps and multitudes of mosquitoes invade 
the low and swampy provinces ; while clouds of locusts 
occasionally brood over the hotter regions, destroying every 
green thing, — themselves supplying to myriads of wild- 
fowl, as well as to the hungry Arab of the desert, a dainty 

* The writer of this has seen these fish lying in thousands upon the 
banks of the Suffeidrood in Ghilan, having been caught by the Russian 
fishers merely for the caviare and isinglass ; after extracting which, the 
carcasses were thrown away to rot, and tainted the air to a great dis- 
tance round. 



NATURAL HISTORY OF PERSIA. 345 



meal.* Fresh-water tortoises are numerous about the Bun- 
dameer River and in many other places, but are never used 
as food; and water-serpents were also seen by Sir W. 
Ouseley in the same stream. Snakes of various sorts, 
principally innocuous, occur in all parts of the country, and 
numbers of beautiful lizards frequent the ruinous buildings, 
gambolling among the herbage that mantles and withers 
around them. 

* There are two kinds of locusts, one of which is termed lawful, and 
the other unlawful ; the former, boiled with a little salt and butter, or fat, 
is said to eat like a shrimp or lobster somewhat stale. 



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