A Year Amongst the Persians: Introductory



I have so often been asked how I first came to occupy myself with the study of Eastern languages that I have decided to devote the opening chapter of this book to answering this question, and to describing as succinctly as possible the process by which, not without difficulty and occasional discouragement, I succeeded, ere ever I set foot in Persia, in obtaining a sufficient mastery over the Persian tongue to enable me to employ it with some facility as an instrument of conversation, and to explore with pleasure and profit the enchanted realms of its vast and varied literature. I have not arrived at this decision without some hesitation and misgiving, for I do not wish to obtrude myself unnecessarily on the attention of my readers, and one can hardly be autobiographical without running the risk of being egotistical. But then the same thing applies with equal force to all descriptions intended for publication of any part of one's personal experiences--such, for instance, as one's own travels. Believing that the observations, impressions, and experiences of my twelve months' sojourn in Persia during the years 1887-8 may be of interest to others besides myself, I have at length determined to publish them. It is too late now to turn squeamish about the use of the pronoun of the first person. I will be as sparing of its use as I can, but use it I must.

     I might, indeed, have given to this book the form of a systematic treatise on Persia, a plan which for some time I did actually


entertain; but against this plan three reasons finally decided me. Firstly, that my publishers expressed a preference for the narrative form, which, they believed, would render the book more readable. Secondly, that for the more ambitious project of writing a systematic treatise I did not feel myself prepared and could not prepare myself without the expenditure of time only to be obtained by the sacrifice of other work which seemed to me of greater importance. Thirdly, that the recent publication of the Hon. G. N. Curzon's encyclopaedic work on Persia will for some time to come prevent any similar attempt on the part of anyone else who is not either remarkably rash or exceedingly well- informed. Moreover, the question "What first made you take up Persian?" when addressed to an Englishman who is neither engaged in, nor destined for, an Eastern career deserves an answer. In France, Germany, or Russia such a question would hardly be asked; but in England a knowledge of Eastern languages is no stepping-stone to diplomatic employment in Eastern countries; and though there exist in the Universities and the British Museum posts more desirable than this to the student of Oriental languages, such posts are few, and, when vacant, hotly competed for. In spite of every discouragement, there are, I rejoice to say, almost every year a few young Englishmen who, actuated solely by love of knowledge and desire to extend the frontiers of science in a domain which still contains vast tracts of unexplored country, devote themselves to this study. To them too often have I had to repeat the words of warning given to me by my honoured friend and teacher, the late Dr William Wright, an Arabic scholar whom not Cambridge or England only, but Europe, mourns with heart-felt sorrow and remembers with legitimate pride. It was in the year 1884, so far as I remember; I was leaving Cambridge with mingled feelings of sorrow and of hope: sorrow, because I was to bid farewell (for ever, as I then expected) to the University and the College to which I owe a debt of gratitude beyond the power of words to describe; hope,


because the honours I had just gained in the Indian Languages Tripos made me sanguine of obtaining some employment which would enable me to pursue with advantage and success a study to which I was devotedly attached, and which even medicine (for which I was then destined), with all its charms and far- reaching interests, could not rival in my affections. This hope, in answer to an enquiry as to what I intended to do on leaving Cambridge, I one day confided to Dr Wright. No one, as I well knew, could better sympathise-with it or gauge its chances of fulfilment, and from no one could I look for kinder, wiser, and more prudent counsel. And this was the advice he gave me-- said he, you have private means which render you independent of a profession, then pursue your Oriental studies, and fear not that they will disappoint you, or fail to return you a rich reward of happiness and honour. But if you cannot afford to do this, and are obliged to consider how you may earn a livelihood, then devote yourself wholly to medicine, and abandon, save as a relaxation for your leisure moments, the pursuit of Oriental letters. The posts for which such knowledge will fit you are few, and, for the most part, poorly endowed, neither can you hope to obtain them till you have worked and waited for many years And from the Government you must look for nothing, for it has long shown, and still continues to show, an increasing indisposition to offer the slightest encouragement to the study of Eastern languages."

     A rare piece of good fortune has in my case falsified a prediction of which Dr Wright himself, though I knew it not till long afterwards, did all in his power to avert the accomplishment; but in general it still holds true, and I write these words not for myself, but for those young English Orientalists whose disappointments, struggles, and unfulfilled, though legitimate, hopes I have so often been compelled to watch with keen but impotent sorrow and sympathy. Often I reflect with bitterness that England, though more directly interested in the East than


any other European country save Russia, not only offers less encouragement to her sons to engage in the study of Oriental languages than any other great European nation, but can find no employment even for those few who, notwithstanding every discouragement, are impelled by their own inclination to this study, and who, by diligence, zeal, and natural aptitude, attain proficiency therein. How different is it in France! There, not to mention the more academic and purely scientific courses of lectures on Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Zend, Pahlavi, Persian, Sanskrit, and on Egyptian, Assyrian, and Semitic archaeology and philology, delivered regularly by savants of European reputation at the College de France and the Sorbonne (all of which lectures are freely open to persons of either sex and any nationality), there is a special school of Oriental languages (now within a year or two of its centenary) where practical instruction of the best imaginable kind is given (also gratuitously) by European professors, assisted in most cases by native repetiteurs, in literary and colloquial Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Malay, Javanese, Armenian, Modern Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Annamite, Hindustani, Tamil, Russian, and Roumanian, as well as in the geography, history, and jurisprudence of the states of the extreme East. To these lectures (the best, I repeat, without fear of contradiction, which can be imagined) any student, French or foreign, is admitted free of charge. And any student who has followed them diligently for three years, and passed the periodical examinations to the satisfaction of his teachers, provided that he be a French subject, may confidently reckon on receiving sooner or later from the Government such employment as his tastes, training, and attainments have fitted him for. The manifold advantages of this admirable system, alike to the State and the individual, must be obvious to the most obtuse, and need no demonstration. All honour to France for the signal services which she has rendered to the cause of learning! May she long maintain that position of eminence in science which she has so nobly won, and which she


so deservedly occupies! And to us English, too, may she become in this respect at least, an exemplar and a pattern!

     Now, having unburdened my mind on this matter, I will recount briefly how I came to devote myself to the study of Oriental languages. I was originally destined to become an engineer; and therefore, partly because--at any- rate sixteen years ago--the teaching of the "modern side" was still in a most rudimentary state, partly because I most eagerly desired emancipation from a life entirely uncongenial to me, I left school at the age of fifteen and a half, with little knowledge and less love of Latin and Greek. I have since then learned better to appreciate the value of these languages, and to regret the slenderness of my classical attainments. Yet the method according to which they are generally taught in English public schools is so unattractive and, in my opinion, so inefficient, that had I been subjected to it much longer I should probably have come to loathe all foreign languages, and to shudder at the very sight of a grammar. It is a good thing for the student of a language to study its grammar when he has learned to read and understand it, just as it is a good thing for an artist to study the anatomy of the human body when he has learned to sketch a figure or catch the expression of a face; but for one to seek to obtain mastery over a language by learning rules of accidence and syntax is as though he should regard the dissecting-room as the single and sufficient portal of entrance to the Academy. How little a knowledge of grammar has to do with facility in the use of language is shown by the fact that comparatively few have studied the grammar of that language over which they have the greatest mastery, while amongst all the Latin and Greek scholars in this country those who could make an extempore speech, dash off an impromptu note, or carry on a sustained conversation in either language, are in a small minority.

     Then, amongst other evil things connected with it, is the magnificent contempt for all non-English systems of pronunciation


which the ordinary public-school system of teaching Latin and Greek encourages. Granted that the pronunciation of Greek is very different in the Athens of to-day from what it was in the time of Plato or Euripides, and that Cicero would not understand, or would understand with difficulty, the Latin of the Vatican, does it follow that both languages should be pronounced exactly like English, of all spoken tongues the most anomalous in pronunciation? What should we think of a Chinaman who, because he was convinced that the pronunciation of English in the fourteenth century differed widely from that of the nineteenth, deliberately elected to read Chaucer with the accent and intonation of Chinese? If Latin and Greek alone were concerned it would not so much matter, but the influence of this doctrine of pan-Anglican pronunciation too often extends to French and German as well. The spirit engendered by it is finely displayed in these two sayings which I remember to have heard repeated-- "Anyone can understand English if they choose, provided you talk loud enough." "Always mistrust an Englishman who talks French like a Frenchman."

     Apart from the general failure to invest the books read with any human, historical, or literary interest, or to treat them as expressions- of the thoughts, feelings, and aspirations of our fellow-creatures instead of as grammatical tread-mills, there is another reason why the public-school system of teaching languages commonly fails to impart much useful knowledge of them. When any intelligent being who is a free agent wishes to obtain an efficient knowledge of a foreign language as quickly as possible, how does he proceed? He begins with an easy text, and first obtains the general sense of each sentence and the meaning of each particular word from his teacher. In default of a teacher, he falls back on the best available substitute, namely, a good translation and a dictionary. Looking out words in a dictionary is, however, mere waste of time, if their meaning can be ascertained in any other way; so that he will use this means only when compelled


to do so. Having ascertained the meaning of each word, he will note it down either in the margin of the book or elsewhere, so that he may not have to ask it or look it out again Then he will read the passage which he has thus studied over and over again, if possible aloud, so that tongue, ear, and mind may be simultaneously familiarised with the new instrument of thought and communication of which he desires to possess himself, until he perfectly understands the meaning without mentally translating it into English, and until the foreign words, no longer strange, evoke in his mind, not their English equivalents but the ideas which they connote. This is the proper way to learn a language, and it is opposed at almost every point to the public-school method, which regards the use of "cribs" as a deadly sin, and substitutes parsing and construing for reading and understanding.

     Notwithstanding all this, I am well aware that the advocates of this method have in their armoury another and a more potent argument. "A boy does not go to school," they say, "to learn Latin and Greek, but to learn to confront disagreeable duties with equanimity, and to do what is distasteful to him with cheerfulness." To this I have nothing to say; it is unanswerable and final. If boys are sent to school to learn what the word disagreeable means, and to realise that the most tedious monotony is perfectly compatible with the most acute misery, and that the most assiduous labour, if it be not wisely directed, does not necessarily secure the attainment of the object ostensibly aimed at, then, indeed, does the public school over the surest means of attaining this end. The most wretched day of my life, except the day when I left college, was the day I went to school. During the earlier portion of my school life I believe that I nearly fathomed the possibilities of human misery and despair. I learned then (what I am thankful to say I have unlearned since) to be a pessimist, a misanthrope, and a cynic; and I have learned since, what I did not understand then, that to know by rote a quantity of grammatical


rules is in itself not much more useful than to know how often each letter of the alphabet occurs in Paradise Lost, or how many separate stones went to the building of the Great Pyramid*.

     It was the Turkish war with Russia in 1877-8 that first attracted my attention to the East, about which, till that time, I had known and cared nothing. To the young, war is always interesting, and I watched the progress of this struggle with eager attention. At first my proclivities were by no means for the Turks; but the losing side, more especially when it continues to struggle gallantly against defeat, always has a claim on our sympathy, and moreover the cant of the anti-Turkish party in England, and the wretched attempts to confound questions of abstract justice with party politics, disgusted me beyond measure. Ere the dose of the war I would have died to save Turkey, and I mourned the fall of Plevna as though it had been a disaster inflicted on my own country. And so gradually pity turned to admiration, and admiration to enthusiasm, until the Turks became in my eyes veritable heroes, and the desire to identify myself with their cause, make my dwelling amongst them, and unite with them in the defence of their land, possessed me heart and soul. At the age of sixteen such enthusiasm more easily establishes itself in the heart, and, while it lasts (for it often fades as quickly as it bloomed), exercises a more absolute and uncontrolled sway over the mind than at a more advanced age. Even though it be transitory, its effects (as in my case) may be permanent.

     So now my whole ambition came to be this: how I might become in time an officer in the Turkish army. And the plan


which I proposed to myself was to enter first the English army, to remain there till I had learned my profession and attained the rank of captain, then to resign my commission and enter the service of the Ottoman Government, which, as I understood, gave a promotion of two grades. So wild a project will doubtless move many of my readers to mirth, and some to indignation, but, such as it was, it was for a time paramount in my mind, and its influence outlived it. Its accomplishment, however, evidently needed time; and, as my enthusiasm demanded some immediate object, I resolved at once to begin the study of the Turkish language.

     Few of my readers, probably, have had occasion to embark on this study, or even to consider what steps they would take if a desire to do so suddenly came upon them I may therefore here remark that for one not resident in the metropolis it is far from easy to discover anything about the Turkish language, and almost impossible to find a teacher. However, after much seeking and many enquiries, I succeeded in obtaining a copy of Barker's Turkish Grammar. Into this I plunged with enthusiasm. I learned Turkish verbs in the old school fashion, and blundered through the "Pleasantries of Khoja Nasru'd-Din Efendi"; but so ignorant was I, and so involved is the Ottoman construction, that it took me some time to discover that the language is written from right to left; while, true to the pan-Anglican system on which I have already animadverted, I read my Turkish as though it had been English, pronouncing, for example, the article bir and the substantive ber exactly the same, and as though both, instead of neither, rhymed with the English words fir and fur. And so I bungled on for a while, making slow but steady progress, and wasting much time, but with undiminished enthusiasm; for which I was presently rewarded by discovering a teacher. This was an Irish clergyman, who had, I believe, served as a private in the Crimean War, picked up some Turkish, attracted attention by his proficiency in a language of which very few Englishmen


have any knowledge, and so gained employment as an interpreter. After the war he was ordained a clergyman of the Church of England, and remained for some years at Constantinople as a missionary. I do not know how his work prospered; but if he succeeded in winning from the Turks half the sympathy and love with which they inspired him, his success must have been great indeed. When I discovered him, he had a cure of souls in the Consett iron district, having been driven from his last parish by the resentment of his flock (Whigs, almost to a man), which he had incurred by venturing publicly to defend the Turks at a time when they were at the very nadir of unpopularity, and when the outcry about the "Bulgarian atrocities" was at its height. So the very religious and humane persons who composed his congregation announced to his vicar their intention of with- drawing their subscriptions and support from the church so long as the "Bashi-bozouk" (such, as he informed me, not without a certain pride, was the name they had given him) occupied its pulpit. So there was nothing for it but that he should go. Isolated in the uncongenial environment to which he was transferred, he was, I think, almost as eager to teach me Turkish as I was to learn it, and many a pleasant hour did I pass in his little parlour listening with inexhaustible delight to the anecdotes of his life in Constantinople which he loved to tell. Peace be to his memory! He died in Africa, once more engaged in mission work, not long after I went to Cambridge.

     One of the incidental charms of Orientalism is the kindness and sympathy often shown by scholars of the greatest distinction and the highest attainments to the young beginner, even when he has no introduction save the pass-word of a common and much-loved pursuit. Of this I can recall many instances, but it is sufficient to mention the first in my experience. Expecting to be in, or within reach of, London for a time, I was anxious to improve the occasion by prosecuting my Turkish studies (for the "Bashi- bozouk" had recently left Consett for Hull), and to this end


wished to find a proficient teacher. As I knew not how else to set about this, I finally, and somewhat audaciously, determined to write to the late Sir James (then Mr) Redhouse (whose name the study of his valuable writings on the Ottoman language had made familiar to me as that of a patron saint), asking for his advice and help. This letter I addressed to the care of his publishers, and in a few days I received, to my intense delight, a most kind reply, in which he, the first Turkish scholar in Europe probably, not only gave me all the information I required, but invited me to pay him a visit whenever I came to London, an invitation of which, as may be readily believed, I availed myself at the earliest possible opportunity. And so gradually I came to know others who were able and willing to help me in my studies, including several Turkish gentlemen attached to the Ottoman Embassy in London, from some of whom I received no little kindness.

     But if my studies prospered, it was otherwise with the somewhat chimerical project in which they had originated. My father did not wish me to enter the army, but proposed medicine as an alternative to engineering. As the former profession seemed more compatible with my aspirations than the latter, I eagerly accepted his offer. A few days after this decision had been arrived at, he consulted an eminent physician, who was one of his oldest friends as to my future education. "If you wanted to make your son a doctor, said my father, "where would you send him?" And the answer, given without a moment's hesitation, was, "To Cambridge.

     So to Cambridge I went in October 1879, which date marks for me the beginning of a new and most happy era of life- for I suppose that a man who cannot be happy at the University must be incapable of happiness. Here my medical studies occupied of course, the major part of my time and attention, and that right pleasantly; for, apart from their intrinsic interest, the teaching was masterly, and even subjects at first repellent can be made


attractive when taught by a master possessed of grasp, eloquence, and enthusiasm, just as a teacher who lacks these qualities will make the most interesting subjects appear devoid of charm. Yet still I found time to devote to Eastern languages. Turkish, it is true, was not then to be had at Cambridge; but I had already discovered that for further progress in this some knowledge of Arabic and Persian was requisite; and to these I determined to turn my attention. During my first year I therefore began to study Arabic with the late Professor Palmer, whose extraordinary and varied abilities are too well known to need any celebration on my part. No man had a higher ideal of knowledge in the matter of languages, or more original (and, as I believe, sounder) views as to the method of learning them. These views I have already set forth substantially and summarily; and I will therefore say no more about them in this place, save that I absorbed them greedily, and derived from them no small advantage, learning by their application more of Arabic in one term than I had learned of Latin or Greek during five and a half years, and this notwithstanding the fact that I could devote to it only a small portion of my time.

     I began Persian in the Long Vacation of 1880. Neither Professor Palmer nor Professor Cowell was resident in Cambridge at that time; but I obtained the assistance of an undergraduate of Indian nationality, who, though the son of Hindoo parents converted to Christianity, had an excellent knowledge not only of Persian and Sanskrit, but of Arabic. To this knowledge, which was my admiration and envy, he for his part seemed to attach little importance; all his pride was in playing the fiddle, on which, so far as I could judge, he was a very indifferent performer. But as it gave him pleasure to have a listener, a kind of tacit understanding grew up that when he had helped me for an hour to read the Gulistan, I in return should sit and listen for a while to his fiddling, which I did with such appearance of pleasure as I could command.


     For two years after this--that is to say, till I took my degree-- such work as I did in Persian and Arabic was done chiefly by myself, though I managed to run up to London for an afternoon once a fortnight or so for a Turkish lesson, till the Lent Term of 1881, when the paramount claims of that most exacting of taskmasters, the river, took from me for some weeks the right to call my afternoons my own. And when the Lent races were over, I had to think seriously about my approaching tripos; while a promise made to me by my father, that if I succeeded in passing both it and the examination for the second M.B. at the end of my third year (i.e. in June 1882), I should spend two months of the succeeding Long Vacation in Constantinople, determined me to exert all my efforts to win this dazzling bribe. This resolution cost me a good deal, but I was amply rewarded for my self-denial when, in July 1882, I at length beheld the minarets of Stamboul, and heard the Mu'ezzin call the true believers to prayer. I have heard people express themselves as disappointed with Constantinople. I suppose that, wherever one goes, one sees in great measure what one expects to see (because there is good and evil in all things, and the eye discerns but one when the mind is occupied by a preconceived idea), but I at least suffered no disenchantment, and returned to England with my enthusiasm for the East not merely undiminished, but, if possible, intensified.

     The two succeeding years were years of undiluted pleasure, for I was still at Cambridge, and was now able to devote my whole time to the study of Oriental languages. As I intended to become a candidate for the Indian Languages Tripos in 1884, I was obliged to begin the study of Hindustani, a language from which I never could succeed in deriving much pleasure. During this period I became acquainted with a very learned but very eccentric old Persian, Mirza Muhammad Bakir, of Bawanat in Fars, surnamed Ibrahim Jan Mu'attar. Having wandered through half the world, learned (and learned well) half a dozen languages,


and been successively a Shi'ite Muhammadan, a dervish, a Christian, an atheist, and a Jew, he had finished by elaborating a religious system of his own, which he called "Islamo-Christianity," to the celebration (I can hardly say the elucidation) of which in English tracts and Persian poems, composed in the most bizarre style, he devoted the greater part of his time, talents, and money. He was in every way a most remarkable man, and one whom it was impossible not to respect and like, in spite of his appalling loquacity, his unreason, his disputatiousness, his utter impracticability. I never saw anyone who lived so entirely in a fantastic ideal world of his own creation. He was totally indifferent to his own temporal interests; cared nothing for money, personal comfort, or the favour of the powerful; and often alienated his acquaintances by violent attacks on their most cherished beliefs, and drove away his friends by the ceaseless torrent of his eloquence. He lived in a squalid little room in Limehouse, surrounded by piles of dusty books, mostly theological treatises in Persian and Arabic, with a sprinkling of Hebrew and English volumes, amongst which last Carlyle's Sartor Resartus and Heroes and Hero-Worship occupied the place of honour. Of these, however, he made but little use, for he generally wrote when alone, and talked when he could get anyone to listen to him. I tried to persuade him to read with me those portions of the Masnavi and the Divan of Hafiz set for my examination, and offered to remunerate him for his trouble; but this plan failed on its first trial. We had not read for twenty minutes when he suddenly pushed away the Hafiz, dragged out from a drawer in the rickety little table a pile of manuscript, and said, "I like my own poetry better than this, and if you want me to teach you Persian you must learn it as I please. I don't want your money, but I do want you to understand my thoughts about religion. You can understand Hafiz by yourself, but you cannot understand my poetry unless I explain it to you." This was certainly true: allusions to grotesque visions in which figured


grass-eating lions, bears, yellow demons, Gog and Magog "Crusaders," and Hebrew and Arab patriarchs, saints, and warriors, were jumbled up with current politics, personal reminiscences, Rabbinic legends, mystical rhapsodies, denunciations prophecies, old Persian mythology, Old Testament theology and Kur'anic exegesis in a manner truly bewildering, the whole being clothed in a Persian so quaint, so obscure, and so replete with rare, dialectical, and foreign words, that many verses were incomprehensible even to educated Persians, to whom for the most part, the "Little Sun of London" (Shumeysa-i-Landaniyya-- so he called the longest of his published poems) was a source of terror. One of my Persian friends (for I made acquaintance about this time with several young Persians who were studying in London) would never consent to visit me until he had received an assurance that the poet-prophet-philosopher of Bawanat would be out of the way. I, however, by dint of long listening and much patience, not without some weariness, learned from him much that was of value to me besides the correct Persian pronunciation. For I had originally acquired from my Indian friend the erroneous and unlovely pronunciation current in India, which I now abandoned with all possible speed, believing the "French of Paris to be preferable to the "French of Stratford atte Bowe."

     Towards the end of 1884 Mirza Bakir left London for the East with his surviving children, a daughter of about eighteen and a son of about ten years of age, both of whom had been brought up away from him in the Christian religion, and neither of whom knew any language but English. The girl's failing health (for she was threatened with consumption) was the cause of his departure. I had just left Cambridge, and entered at St Bartholomew's Hospital, where I found my time and energies fully occupied with my new work. Tired as I often was, however when I got away from the wards, I had to make almost daily pilgrimages to Limehouse, where I often remained till nearly midnight; for Mirza Bakir refused to leave London till I had


finished reading a versified commentary on the Kur'an on which he had been engaged for some time, and of which he wished to bestow the manuscript on me as a keepsake. "My daughter will die," said he, "as the doctors tell me, unless she leaves for Beyrout in a short time, and it is you who prevent me from taking her there; for I will not leave London until you have understood my book." Argument was useless with such a visionary; so, willing or no, I had to spend every available hour in the little room at Limehouse, ever on the watch to check the interminable digressions to which the reading of the poem continually gave rise. At last it was finished, and the very next day, if I remember rightly, Mirza Bakir started with his children for the East. I never saw him again, though I continued to correspond with him so long as he was at Beyrout, whence, I think, he was finally expelled by the Ottoman Government as a firebrand menacing the peace of the community. He then went with his son to Persia (his daughter had died previously at Beyrout), whence news of his death reached me a year or two ago.

     And now for three years (1884-7) it was only an occasional leisure hour that I could snatch from my medical studies for a chat with my Persian friends (who, though they knew English well for the most part, were kind enough to talk for my benefit their own language), or for quiet communing in the cool vaulted reading-room of the British Museum with my favourite Sufi writers, whose mystical idealism, which had long since cast its spell over my mind, now supplied me with a powerful antidote against the pessimistic tendencies evoked by the daily contemplation of misery and pain. This period was far from being an unhappy one, for my work, if hard, was full of interest; and if in the hospital I saw much that was sad, much that made me wonder at man's clinging to life (since to the vast majority life seemed but a succession of pains, struggles, and sorrows), on the other hand I saw much to strengthen my faith in the goodness and nobility of human nature. Never before or since have I


realised so clearly the immortality, greatness, and virtue of the spirit of man, or the misery of its earthly environment: it seemed to me like a prince in rags, ignorant alike of his birth and his rights, but to whom is reserved a glorious heritage. No wonder, then, that the Pantheistic idealism of the Masnavi took hold of me, or that such words as these of Hafiz thrilled me to the very soul:

Even my medical studies, strange as it may appear, favoured the development of this habit of mind; for physiology, when it does not encourage materialism, encourages mysticism; and nothing so much tends to shake one's faith in the reality of the objective world as the examination of certain of the subjective phenomena of mental and nervous disorders.

     But now this period, too, was drawing to a close, and my dreams of visiting Persia, even when their accomplishment seemed most unlikely, were rapidly approaching fulfilment. The hopes with which I had left Cambridge had been damped by repeated disappointments. I had thought that the knowledge I had acquired of Persian, Turkish, and Arabic might enable me to find employment in the Consular Service, but had learned from curt official letters, referring me to printed official regulations, that this was not so, that these languages were not recognised as subjects of examination, and that not they, but German, Greek, Spanish, and Italian were the qualifications by which one might hope to become a consul in Western Asia. The words of Dr Wright's warning came back to me, and I acknowledged their justice. To my professional studies, I felt, and not to my linguistic attainments, must I look to earn my livelihood. I had passed my final examinations at the College of Surgeons the College of Physicians, and the University of Cambridge,


received from the two former, with a sense of exultation which I well remember, the diplomas authorising me to practise, and was beginning to consider what my next step should be, when the luck of which I had despaired came to me at last. Returning to my rooms on the evening of 30th May 1887, I found a telegram lying on the table. I opened it with indifference, which changed, in the moment I grasped its purport, to ecstatic joy. I had that day been elected a Fellow of my College.

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