A Year Amongst the Persians: Shiraz



     To the three weeks which I spent in Shiraz I look back with unmixed pleasure. The associations connected with it are familiar to every student of Persian; its natural beauties I have already feebly attempted to depict; its inhabitants are, amongst all the Persians, the most subtle, the most ingenious, the most vivacious, even as their speech is to this day the purest and most melodious.

     For seeing all that was most worth seeing, mixing in the society of the town, and forming an estimate of its life and thought, I enjoyed rare facilities. Living as I did in the heart of the city, in the house of one universally respected, not merely as the representative of an ancient and noble family, but as a gentleman whose genial manners, enlightened views, and liberal patronage of talent, rendered him peculiarly fitted for the responsible post which he occupied of Agent to the British Government, I was enabled to move freely in circles to which I might otherwise have failed to gain access. For acquiring fluency in the Persian language also I had continual opportunities. My host, it is true, possessed some knowledge of English,


but preferred to employ his own language in conversation; a preference which, it is needless to say, I was far from regretting; while few of the visitors, and none of the servants, with whom I came into daily contact, spoke anything but Persian.

     Although the visitors who came to the house were numerous, there was, except my host (with whom, when no other engagement prevented it, I took my meals), but one constant guest at table. This was the Nawwab's uncle, "Haji Da'i" ("Uncle Haji"), as he was usually called for the sake of brevity, who had come from Fasa (where he habitually resided) to Shiraz on a New Year's visit. For him I conceived, after a while, a great liking and admiration, though at first unable to penetrate his unusual taciturnity. Except in this respect, he was a thorough Persian of the old school, in dress as in everything else, and I was never tired of admiring the scrupulous neatness of his appearance, or the beautiful brocade lining revealed by the backward turn of the cuffs of his kaba. As I have already said, he was sparing of words, but when he spoke it was to the point; while the interesting details concerning the country east of Shiraz which at times he would give me were enhanced by a peculiar piquancy of idiom and expressiveness of gesture which I have never seen equalled. Thus, for example, in speaking of the length of a stage between two places near Kum he remarked, "They call it seven farsakhs, but such a seven farsakhs as would burn the father of nine farsakhs" ("hamchunin haf' farsakhi ki pidar-i-nuh farsakh-ra bi-suzanad"); in answering my question as to whether the water in Lake Niriz was fresh or salt, he said, "So salt that I take refuge with God!" ("chunan talkh ki penah bar Khuda!"); neither shall I ever forget the tone of the "Estaghfiru'llah!" ("I ask pardon of Godl") with which, in the Persian fashion, he would answer any question which he wished emphatically to negative.

     Besides Haji Da'i there was but one of the Nawwab's relatives resident in the house whom I often saw (for from the society of


his sisters and other female relations I was naturally excluded). This was the son of my friend Aka Muhammad Hasan Khan Kashka'i, who, when he bade me farewell at Teheran, had specially commended his boy to my notice. The latter, who was also the Nawwab's nephew, came to pay me a visit a day or two after my arrival. He was a bright handsome lad of about twelve or thirteen years of age, and, though rather shy at first, soon became very friendly, and would eagerly listen to anything which I told him about my native land or my travels.

     Of the Nawwab's numerous servants one or two deserve some brief mention. Of these the chief was he who had come out to meet me on my first arrival, and who was indeed rather a steward than a servant. He had a brother, Shukru'llah by name, who played with exquisite skill on the rebeck (sitar), to the accompaniment of which he would also sing in a sweet melodious voice. The poor fellow was blind, and I shall never forget the pathos of his tones when, as I was seated one evening with the Nawwab and a chance guest by the side of the stream in the courtyard under the moonlit plane-trees, he heard the former address me in an interval of the music as "Hakim Sahib," and eagerly exclaimed, "Hakim! did you say hakim, Master? Is our guest a physician? Can he not perhaps cure my blindness and enable me once more to behold the light?" And when the Nawwab answered gently, "No, my poor fellow, he is a metaphysician (hakim-i-ilahi) rather than a physician (hakim-i-tabi'i); he can do nothing for you," it went to my heart to see the momentary expression of anxious hope which had crossed the face of the blind minstrel pass, through a quiver of disappointment, into the look of patient sadness which his countenance habitually wore.

     Of all the servants, however, he with whom I had most to do, and indeed the only one with whom I habitually conversed much, was a black called Elmas ("Diamond"). He had been in the family, to which he was deeply attached, for many years, and


had, I suppose, been born in Persia or brought thither when a child; at any rate he spoke Persian with no foreign accent which I could detect. To him was entrusted the duty of attending on me; he used to bring me my tea in the morning, announce meals or visitors, and often, when I was alone, would stop and talk for an hour at a time. A pious Musulman, and extremely attentive to all the duties of his religion, he yet seemed quite free from that fanaticism and distrust of those belonging to other creeds with which piety is sometimes associated. Often he would talk to me of his master and his master's friends; of the noble families of Shiraz, its poets, its learned men, and its governors, especially Ferhad Mirza, concerning whom he related many strange things; how he had hanged Sheykh Madhkur on a lofty gibbet, after making him eat one of the coins he had struck in his own name; how he had put down Muhammad Tahir Gilladari, who, from the fastness near Darabjird where he dwelt, sallied forth to plunder caravans till none dared pass that way; how he had bricked-up alive a multitude of less notable outlaws by the side of the highways which had witnessed their depredations; and how, never forgetting the slight put upon him by the people of Shiraz when he was recalled from his first administration, he ever cherished towards the city and its inhabitants an unconquerable aversion.

     Thoroughly imbued with the superstitions of the country, Elmas would sometimes talk of Jinnis, Ghuls, 'Ifrits, and other sprites and hobgoblins which are said to infest its desert places. One day, soon after my arrival, while crossing the courtyard with the Nawwab on my way to lunch, I saw a strange sight. Lying on his back on the ground, with outstretched arms, legs raised in the air, and soles upturned to heaven as though to receive an invisible bastinado, was a man of the lower classes whom I did not recognise as one whom I had previously seen about the house. How he came there I know not, nor what ailed him; and when I asked my host he merely shook his head


silently. As we continued to watch him, he suddenly gave a deep groan, and rolled over on his side with-legs still flexed; whereupon Elmas, who had been standing quietly by, an unmoved spectator of the scene, approached him, and began to adopt the necessary measures for his revival. In the evening when Elmas came to my room I questioned him as to this strange occurrence.

     "It was the Jinnis," he answered; "this man had doubtless offended them, and therefore do they torment him thus."

     "In what way do men offend the Jinnis?" I asked.

     "In many ways," replied Elmas, "as, for instance, by throwing a stone without first giving them warning by exclainiling 'Bismi- llahi'r-Rahmani'r-Rahim' ('in the name of God the Merciful, the Clement'). In such cases the stone may strike an invisible Jinni and blind him or otherwise cause him injury; such injury the Jinnis never forgive, but continue at intervals to inflict chastisement on the offender, even as you saw to-day."

     I then proceeded to tell Elmas the stories I had heard from the muleteers in the Valley of the Angel of Death about the various hobgoblins whose favourite haunt it is supposed to be. With most of these he acquiesced, but of the Nasnas he gave a somewhat different account.

     "It does not injure people"; he said, "it is of a playful disposition, and contents itself with frightening. For instance, a man was riding between Shiraz and Bushire when he saw what he took to be a lamb by the roadside. He picked it up and placed it in front of him across his saddlebow. After he had gone some distance, he chanced to glance down on it, and saw with terror and amazement that it had grown and grown in length till its head and tail trailed on the ground on either side of the horse: whereat, being greatly alarmed, he cast the thing from him and galloped off as hard as he could. These are the sort of pranks the Nasnas delights to play; but, so far as I have heard, it never inflicts more serious injury.


     One morning, a day or two after my arrival, Elmas announced to me that Mirza Farhang, with his brother Mirza Yezdani (both poets of note, and sons of the celebrated poet Wisal), were below and desired to see me. Anxious to make the acquaintance of two of the most talented men in Shiraz, from a perusal of whose poetry (which, though perhaps scarcely equal to that of their elder brother, Mirza Davari, now deceased, is extremely fine) I had already derived much pleasure, I hastened down to greet my illustrious visitors. Mirza Yezdani was accompanied by his son, and the son of another of his brothers (also deceased), who wrote under the name of Himmat. My conversation was entirely with the elder poets, chiefly with Mirza Farhang; for however talented a son may be, and however honoured, it is contrary to Persian custom and etiquette for him to speak much in the presence of his father. I was greatly impressed with the appearance and manners of my talented visitors, especially with those of Mirza Farhang, to whose conversation an unusual breadth of knowledge and quickness of apprehension, combined with a soft voice and gentle unassuming manner, lent an irresistible charm. Poetry and philosophy naturally formed the chief topics of discussion; concerning the philosophy of the Hindus, and the method employed in deciphering the cuneiform inscriptions, Mirza Farhang manifested a special interest. The time passed all too quickly, and I was equally surprised and sorry when the visitors, declaring that they had already outstayed the ordinary limits of a morning call, rose to go.

     To the European doctor who had embraced Islam I have already alluded. I was naturally anxious to see him, and learn what causes had induced him to take this step. This at first appeared to be more difficult than I had supposed, for he seemed to dislike meeting other Europeans, though whether this arose from fear of being made the object of reproaches, or from a feigned fanaticism, I could not learn. At length, after several disappointments, business brought him to the Nawwab's house,


and he sent up a message by Haji Safar that he would be glad to pay me a visit if I was disengaged. I at once sent word that I should be pleased to see him if he would come up, and in a few minutes he entered the room. The Persian dress which he had adopted did not appear to sit easily on him, and harmonised ill with his personal appearance, which was anything but Oriental; neither did he seem to have become accustomed to his new part, for, on entering the room, he removed his lambskin hat, revealing hair cut in the Persian fashion, the natural reddish hue of which had been heightened rather than concealed by the henna with which it had been dyed. Thinking it unwise to question him at once on the causes which had led him to change his creed, I asked him concerning his adventures and travels. He informed me in reply that, having completed his medical studies at one of the large London hospitals, he had taken a post as surgeon on board an emigrant ship, in which capacity he had visited America, China, India, and Australia. After many wanderings and adventures, including a quarrel in the gold-fields wherein he had received a shot in the arm (the scar of which he showed me), he had finally arrived at Jedda. While he was residing there (according to his account) a message came that the Sherif of Mecca had been wounded with a knife in the abdomen, and desired the services of a European surgeon, if such were obtainable. Accordingly he proceeded thither, and treated the wound of his distinguished patient so successfully that in a short time it was cured, and the Sherif, moved by gratitude to his preserver, not only allowed him to remain at Mecca during the Pilgrimage, but also permitted him to visit Medina. The ceremonies of the Hajj, especially the "stoning the devil" at 'Arafat, and the sacrifice of sheep at Mina, he described in detail; of the latter he spoke with mingled disgust and amazement, declaring that the ground was literally covered with innumerable carcases of slaughtered animals, which were, for the most part, left to rot and poison the atmosphere with their noisome stench. From


Mecca he had returned to Jedda, and thence by Bushire to Shiraz, where he had resided three or four months as a medical practitioner.

     "I am tired of this place now," he said in conclusion, "and as I have seen everything worth seeing in the city, including Shah Chiragh and the other mosques (to which, I suppose, you have not been able to gain access), I intend to move on somewhere else. Where are you going when you leave?"

     "Yezd and Kirman," I answered, wondering inwardly if he would propose to accompany me, a plan to which, for several reasons, I should have refused to consent; "and you?"

     "I think that will be about my line of country," he replied. "I want to get to Mashhad, whence I shall return home, for I am tired of wanderings and adventures, and would like to see my old mother again, who must be wondering at my long absence, if, indeed, she be not anxious on my account."

     At this moment a young friend of mine, with whom I had first become acquainted some years before in Europe, and whom I shall henceforth designate as Mirza 'Ali, entered the room, accompanied by an aged Seyyid. As I knew the latter to be not only a follower but a relation of the Bab, and as the renegade doctor was accompanied by an individual professedly devoted to the Sufi philosophy and styling himself Murshid (spiritual director), who was bitterly opposed to the new religion, I became very uneasy lest some collision should occur between my visitors. Such ill-timed encounters fill us with anxiety even in England, where self-restraint and avoidance of dangerous topics are inculcated on all: in Persia, where religious questions form one of the most usual subjects of conversation, where religious feeling is so strong, the passion for discussion so great, and caution so scanty, they become positively dreadful, and I would almost as lief carry a lighted brand through a powder magazine as assist again at some of those terrible reunions at which (especially in Kirman) it was my fate--I can hardly say my privilege--to be present.


     On this occasion, however, my worst apprehensions were not destined to be fulfilled, though the direction given to the conversation by Mirza 'Ali kept them fully alive till the doctor and his companion departed, leaving the field to the Babis. It was, of course, necessary that I should introduce my Muhammadan compatriot to the newcomers; I hesitated whether to style him by the name which he had adopted on changing his creed, or by that which he had previously borne. Eventually I chose the latter course.

     "May I introduce to you Dr --- ," I said, "if, as it appears, you have not already made his acquaintance?"

     "If I have not met him I have heard about him," answered Mirza 'Ali; then, turning to the renegade, "What evil did you see in your own religion" said he, "or what good in Islam, that you have abandoned that for this? You, who appear to me to speak Persian but indifferently, do you know enough Arabic to understand the Kur'an?"

     The object of this somewhat scornful address replied that he had read a translation of the sacred book.

     "Translation!" exclaimed Mirza 'Ali with ill-concealed contempt, "and pray what particular passage or doctrine so commended itself to you that you became convinced of the divine origin of Islam? For of course you had some strong reason for casting aside the faith in which you were born."

     The other muttered something about "liking the whole thing," "being a Voltairian who regarded Christian and Muhammadan as one and the same," and "doing at Rome as Rome does,"--to all of which his interrogator vouchsafed no reply but a short laugh and a silence more chilling than words. The situation was painful and constrained in the extreme, and I was sincerely thankful when it was brought to an end by the departure of the discomfited doctor and his ally Murshid.

     The latter was present at another similarly ill-assorted gathering which chanced in the same room a few days later. On that


occasion he was accompanied by another friend, whom he introduced as a profound philosopher, but whom the Babis described subsequently as a notorious atheist (la-madhhab). They had hardly entered when they were followed by two of my Babi friends, one of whom was a zealous propagandist and missionary of the sect, the friend, fellow-worker, and companion in numerous hardships of him whom I had met in the house of the dallal at Isfahan. Though he was only a temporary resident at Shiraz, which he has since quitted, I do not consider it advisable to mention his real name, and (since I shall have occasion to allude to him repeatedly) shall henceforth designate him as Haji Mirza Hasan. His companion was a young Seyyid, well known as a zealous partisan of the new religion. Although, fortunately, no overt passage of arms took place (the Babis, as before, being soon left in complete possession of the field, Murshid's suspicions were aroused by meeting notorious Babis in my room on each of the two occasions on which he had visited me. A few days before I left Shiraz I was informed by a young Armenian gentleman with whom I was pretty intimate that Murshid, who was assisting him in his studies, had sent me a special message warning me against Haji Mirza Hasan, and assuring me that I should do well to be more careful in choosing my associates, as a report (probably originated by himself) had got about Shiraz that I had become, or was on the point of becoming, a Babi. To this caution it is almost needless to say that I paid no attention, being amused rather than disquieted by this absurd rumour; indeed, I confess that I considered myself honoured rather than insulted by being identified with a body which can boast of a past so heroic.

     This was not the first warning which Murshid had given me on this point. The occasion of his first attempt to alienate me from his enemy, Haji Mirza Hasan, affords an example of that extraordinary readiness in divining one's train of thought frequently possessed by the Persians, concerning which Vambery


says that it often caused him the most lively disquietude when, in dervish habit, he was pursuing his adventurous journey to Turkistan. To explain how the occasion in question arose, it is necessary to make a digression, and go back to the circumstances which first made me acquainted with Murshid.

     My young Armenian friend (who, though born in Persia, had received an English education in Bombay, and spoke my native language at least as fluently as his own) was extremely kind in taking me to see whatever was of interest in the neighbourhood. Indeed, but for his good-nature my stay at Shiraz would have been much less entertaining and profitable than it actually was, and many places of interest to which he guided me would have remained unvisited. One day he asked me if I should like to accompany him on a visit to some distinguished Persian friends of his.

     "I came to know them through my Mirza (Murshid)," said he, "and as I must go and see them to offer them my congratulations for the New Year, I thought you might like to accompany me. They are of royal blood, being descended from the Farman- farma, who was the eldest son of Fath 'Ali' Shah, and a man of great consequence and some literary attainments*. If you care to come, I am sure that they will be pleased to see you."

     Of course I readily agreed to the proposition, being always eager to enlarge my knowledge of Persian society. Accordingly, in the afternoon I accompanied my Armenian friend to the house of his aristocratic acquaintances, who received us very


hospitably, and urged us to partake of the tea, kalyans, sweetmeats, and other delicacies which, conformably to Persian custom at this festal season, were set before us in unstinted profusion. I was surprised to see amongst these a dish of dried prawns, which, I was informed, are brought from the Persian Gulf. They are called in Persian meygu, and are esteemed a luxury, though, in my opinion, undeservedly.

     The Princes were very curious to know what had brought me to Persia, how I liked Shiraz, and how I was in the habit of travelling. They affected great surprise on learning that I had no horse of my own, and had only hired three animals from a charvadar. I met their expressed astonishment and implied contempt not by an argument (which I knew would be useless), but by an apologue.

     "I have read in some book," I remarked, "that the great philosopher Diogenes used continually to decry the luxury which he saw around him, declaring that for him three things sufficed as furniture and clothing: the cloak wherewith he covered his nakedness, the staff wherewith he supported his steps, and the cup wherewith he quenched his thirst. Now one day, as he was drawing near to a stream to drink, he saw a child bending down over it, and raising the water to its lips by means of its hands, which it had placed together to form a cup. When Diogenes saw this, he threw away the cup which he carried, and cried out, 'Alas! alas! for years I have been inveighing against unnecessary luxury, and all the while I carried with me an encumbrance of which this child has taught me the uselessness!' The moral of this is obvious, to wit, that what is really indispensable to us is but little."

     "Wah! wah!" replied my hosts, "that is indeed tajarrud" (freedom from worldly ties): "we have only the name; you have the reality."

     Harmony being thus happily restored, I was taken to see a room, the walls of which were adorned with family portraits


and paintings illustrative of scripture history. The portraits, of which my friends seemed justly proud, included one of Fath 'Ali Shah, very finely executed; one of the grandfather of my hosts; and one of their uncle. The scripture subjects were four: Moses and the Burning Bush; Abraham offering up Ishmael (according to the version of this event given in the Kur'an); Joseph taking leave of Jacob; and Christ with the Virgin Mary. While examining these works of art (which, indeed, well deserved attentive consideration) sundry little giggles of laughter and whisperings, proceeding from behind a carved wooden screen occupying the upper portion of the wall on one side of the room, caused me to glance in that direction, where several pairs of bright eyes, just visible through the interstices of the woodwork, left no doubt in my mind that the ladies of the harem were making merry at my expense.

     Before I left, my hosts exacted from me a promise that I would accompany them, on a day subsequently to be fixed, to an old ruin called Kasr-i-Abu-Nar, situated some miles to the east of Shiraz, which they declared to be equal in age to Persepolis. The day fixed for this excursion was that succeeding the morning which had witnessed the encounter between Murshid and the Babis, in my room. The time was afternoon. The party consisted of Murshid, my Armenian friend, and myself, together with our hosts, the princes, and one or two servants.

     We left Shiraz by the gate of the slaughter-house (Derwaze-i- kassab-khane), somewhat appropriately so named, as it seemed to me; for just outside it, on either side of the road, was a double series of pillars of mortar, ten or twelve in number, each of which had formed the living tomb of an outlaw. There they stood, more or less disintegrated and destroyed, exposing here and there a whitened bone, to bear grim testimony to the rigour of the redoubtable Ferhad Mirza.

     Turning my back on these dismal relics, as well as on the tomb of Sheykh Ruz-bihan, a saint of some repute, I rode slowly



forward with Murshid. A pause occurring in the course of conversation, I said, more for the sake of making a remark than anything else:

     "I heard rather a curious expression the other day."

     "Did you?" replied Murshid, "what was it?"

     Now the expression in question was "ass's head" (in Arabic, ra'su'l-himar; in Persian, sar-i-khar), which signifies one whose presence in an assembly prevents free and unrestrained conversation. Though I had indeed heard it from the Babis, and though it most happily described the position of Murshid in my room on the previous day, it had not been applied to him, though a train of thought, of which I was myself unconscious, undoubtedly prompted me to make this unhappy and very mala-propos remark.

     "'Ra'su'l-himar,'" I answered, without reflection.

     Murshid did not fail to detect a sequence in my thought of which I myself was quite unaware.

     "Yes," said he, somewhat grimly, "a very curious expression; generally used in its Persian form, 'sar-i-khar.' From whom did you hear it?"

     "Oh," I replied in some confusion, "I am not sure--I have almost forgotten--That is, a friend of mine---"

     "--was kind enough to apply it to me when I so inopportunely broke in upon your little private conference."

     I attempted to stammer a disavowal, feeling extremely annoyed with myself for the folly of which I had been guilty, and yet half amused at the readiness with which a cap that fitted so remarkably well had been snatched up. Murshid paid no heed to my explanations.

     "As you are so fond of metaphysics," he remarked severely, gazing straight before him the while, "you have no doubt studied the Masnavi of Mawlana Jalalu'd-Din Rumi, and may perhaps remember these lines, which I would in any case strongly commend to your attention--


     "I am sure I hope there are not many such human devils in Shiraz," I exclaimed.

     "On the contrary," he answered shortly, "in Shiraz they are particularly abundant."

     The subject dropped, but it took some time to smooth the ruffled feelings of my companion. Indeed, I am not sure that I ever regained his goodwill, or succeeded in obliterating the remembrance of my unhappy remark.

     Except for this incident the excursion was a very pleasant one, though we halted so long in two gardens belonging to the Princes (who were much more bent on a good ride, and a quiet tea and smoke under the trees of their heritages, than on antiquarian research) that we had very little time left to examine the Kasr-i-Abu-Nasr. It is quite a small enclosure surrounded by stones, carved with a few bas-reliefs like those at Persepolis, but devoid of inscriptions. Whether these undoubtedly ancient stones were originally placed in their present position I do not know; but one does not see what object can have induced anyone to bring them there from Persepolis or Darabjird. Of the four doorways which the building possessed, only one is standing, the other three having fallen, in consequence of "excavations" undertaken at the command of Ferhad Mirza. The faces of the beautiful great figures cut in bas-relief on the stones of the gateway have, like some of those at Persepolis, been wilfully destroyed. On one of the fallen stones, however, is a bas-relief representing a procession of captives or slaves laden with presents, which is almost uninjured.

     Small as the extent of this interesting spot was, I had not time to examine it satisfactorily. The sun was close to the horizon when we reached the ruins, and had now completely disappeared


from view. It was high time to direct our steps towards the city with all haste, if we did not desire to be benighted in the open plain. As it was, we nearly lost our way several times, and only regained the city after blundering through marshes and streams innumerable towards the twinkling lights which marked its situation.

     The badness of the road prevented us all riding together, and I found myself, during the greater part of the way, next one of the princes. After he had exhaustively questioned me concerning the amount of my income, the sources whence it was derived, my occupation, my object in visiting Persia, and the like, he expressed a great desire to travel in Europe.

     "Do you think I could find any employment in England?" he asked.

     "It would not be easy," I answered, "for our country is already over-full, and many are compelled to emigrate. Besides, you do not know our language. If you did come, I doubt if you would like it after the novelty was gone. Why should you desire to leave Shiraz? Your lot seems to me very enviable: you have a beautiful house, numerous horses and servants, gardens and villages such as we have visited to-day, and all this in one of the fairest spots I have ever seen. What motive can you possibly have for desiring to leave all this?"

     "I am tired of the useless and aimless life we are compelled to lead here," he replied; "every day it is the same thing:--in the morning we read or practise calligraphy till lunch; afterwards we sleep for an hour or two; then we have tea and smoke kalyans; then--unless we have visitors--we go for a ride or walk; then supper and bed. It is wearisome."

     "Could you not obtain some definite employment from the Government here?" I demanded.

     "The Government would not employ us," he answered, "just because we are of royal descent. Is it so in your country? Is high birth there an impediment to promotion? But they are


distrustful of us because we are of kingly race. They prefer to employ persons of lowly origin, whom they can chastise for any fault. But suppose it were us, suppose we were to neglect our work or help ourselves to the public money, they could not punish us because we are so distinguished (mutashakhkhis). So they decline to employ us at all."

     This was the longest excursion which I made while resident in Shiraz. Indeed the objects of interest in the immediate vicinity of the city are so numerous that it is not necessary to go far afield. Of some of these it is time to speak briefly.

     Of course the tombs of Hafiz and Sa'di first attracted my footsteps; indeed I would have visited them the first day after my arrival had it been possible, and was unable to rest till I had done so. Before speaking of them in detail it will be well to give the reader some idea of the relative situations of the various places which I shall notice.

     Most of these lie to the north of the city. Let the reader, therefore, suppose himself to have followed the Isfahan road (already partially described at the end of the preceding chapter) for about a mile and a half, and to have ascended the rise leading to the Tang-i-Allahu Akbar. Spanning this at its narrowest point is the arch on which rests the kur'an-i-hafdah mani already mentioned. Close to this, on the western side of the road, is a raised platform called Mashrikeyn, on which is a little pleasure-garden and coffee-house commanding a fine view. On the opposite side of the valley, a little above the bottom, along which flows the stream of Ruknabad, is another building standing on a platform. This is called Takht-i-Nizam, and is a celebrated resort of gamers and dice-players. On the summit of the hill above this (i.e. the hill to the east of the Tang) is a curious little brick building called Kehvare-i-Div ("the Demon's Cradle"), probably by reason of two horn-like projections from the roof.

     Here we pause, and, looking southward towards the city, enjoy a magnificent view, bisected, as it were, by the broad white


line formed by the road along which we came from the town to the Tang-i-Allahu Akbar. Let us first consider the objects of interest which lie to the east of this. The chief of these, beginning with the remotest, are as follows:--

     The Sa'diyye (Tomb of Sa'di) standing somewhat apart from the gardens scattered in such rich profusion in the plain below us. It lies at the foot of the hills, half concealed in a little valley which runs into them at this place, and is not conspicuous from most points of view.

     The Hafiziyye (Tomb of Hafiz), far more popular and better cared for, rendered conspicuous by its tall dark cypresses and white walls.

     Chahil-tan ("Forty bodies"), and Haft-tan ("Seven bodies"), pleasant shady groves interspersed with commodious buildings, which afford a quiet retreat to those who, wearied of worldly cares, adopt the calm life of the dervish.

     Then come the gardens, amongst which two are conspicuous--

     Bagh-i-Dilgusha, the favourite haunt of the Sahib-Divan; and--

     Bagh-i-Jan-numa, situated close to the road.

     This completes what we may call the "eastern hemisphere" of our panorama, with the exception of the Chah-i-Murtaza 'Ali ("'Ali's well"), situated on another summit of the hills behind and to the east of our place of outlook, the Kehvare-i-Div. Of this I shall speak presently.

     Let us now turn to the "western hemisphere." Crossing the road from the Bagh-i-Jan-numa just mentioned, we come to another very fine garden, the Bagh-i-Naw*.

     Some distance to the north-west of this, farther from the road and on the slopes of the hills, is the splendid but neglected Bagh-i-Takht ("Garden of the Throne"), conspicuous for the white terraces and buildings which stand at its farther end, looking towards the city over avenues of judas-trees (erghavan).


     Beyond and above this, perched half-way up the mountain side, stands a small white edifice surrounded by a few cypresses. This is called Baba Kuhi.

     The whole plain is dotted with gardens, but on the slopes of the hills which bound it towards the west, overlooked by the dazzling summit of the Kuh-i-Barf ("Snow Mountain"), there is a compact mass of them extending for several miles. This is Masjid-Bardi.

     Amongst the gardens west of the city are two belonging to my host the Nawwab. The nearer of these is called Bagh-i-Sheykh, and the pleasant dwellings situated therein are occupied by the English members of the telegraph staff, the Superintendent, and the Doctor, while their Armenian colleagues dwell in the town. The farther one, distant perhaps two or three miles from the city, is situated close to the river-bed, on its northern side. It is called Rashk-i-Bihisht ("the Envy of Paradise"). Two pleasant picnics in this charming spot (of which the second was brought to an untimely end, so far as I was concerned, by an event which cut short my stay at Shiraz and altered all my plans) will be spoken of presently.

     Having now given a general, and, I hope, a sufficiently clear account of the topography of Shiraz, I shall proceed to notice some of the places above-mentioned in greater detail, beginning with the tombs of Hafiz and Sa'di.

     Both of these, together with the Bagh-i-Dilgusha, I visited on the same day, in company with one of the Nawwab's servants. Though they are within an easy walk of the town, one of the Nawwab's horses was placed at my disposal. It was a most beautiful animal, and the play of the muscles under its glossy skin gave token of great power, which, accompanied as it was by a display of freshness and spirit ("play," as the Persians admiringly call it), was to me a source rather of anxiety than of gratification. I would greatly have preferred to walk, but it is hard to persuade a Persian that one prefers walking to riding,


and I was constrained to accept an offer which was kindly intended.

     The tomb of Hafiz occupies the centre of an enclosed garden beautifully planted with cypresses and orange-trees. It is marked by a simple oblong block of stone, engraved with inscriptions consisting for the most part of quotations from the poet's works.

     At the top is the following sentence in Arabic:--

Beneath this is the ode beginning--

Round the edge of the stone is inscribed the ode beginning--

Written diagonally across the two triangular spaces formed by
the upper corners of the tombstone is the couplet--

The corresponding spaces at the lower end of the tablet bear the well-known lines composed to commemorate the date of the poet's death:--


     The unequalled popularity still enjoyed by Hafiz is attested by the multitude of graves which surround his tomb. What Persian, indeed, would not desire that his ashes should mingle with those of the illustrious bard from whom contemporary fanaticism would fain have withheld the very rites of sepulture?

     More remote from the city, and marked by a much humbler edifice, lies the grave of Sa'di. Popular--and deservedly popular --as his Gulistan and Bustan are, alike for the purity of style, richness of diction, variety of matter, and sententious wisdom which characterise them, in Persia itself his Divan is probably more widely read and more highly esteemed. Indeed it may be questioned whether in his own country his odes are not as much admired, as ardently studied, and as often quoted as those of Hafiz. But over his memory lies a shadow sufficient to account for the fact that few, if any, of his countrymen have cared to share his last resting-place, and that his grave stands alone in the little enclosure. Sa'di, it is generally believed, was a Sunni; and whether it be true, as some of his admirers assert, that in professing this form of belief he merely practised the concealment of his real convictions (ketman) authorised by Shi'ite ethics whenever considerations of personal safety appear to require it, the suspicion that he was really an adherent of this sect, so odious to every Shi'ite Persian, was suffciently strong to impel a fanatical Mujtahid of Shiraz to destroy the tombstone originally erected over the poet's grave. The present stone was set up at the expense, and by the orders, of the Kiwam--the father of the


Sahib-Divan. It bears the same Arabic inscription, testifying to the transitoriness of all things but God, as that which is engraved on the tomb of Hafiz. Below this are engraved the opening lines of that canto of the Bustan written in praise of the Prophet.

     At the . Hafiziyye I had been unable to see the copy of the poet's works kept there for purposes of divination and augury, as the guardian of the shrine (mutawalli) was engaged in performing his devotions. At the Sa'diyye I was more fortunate; the mutawalli was disengaged, and readily produced the manuscript of the complete works (kulliyyat) of the poet. It is very well written, and beautifully ornamented, but not old, for it dates only from the reign of Karim Khan the Zend (c. A.D. 1770). Twelve pages, which had been destroyed or lost, have been replaced by the skilful hand of Mirza Farhang, the poet.

     The Garden of Dilgusha, whither I proceeded on leaving the Sa'diyye, is very beautiful, with its tanks of clear water, avenues of orange-trees, and variety of flowers. The gardener brought me a present of wall-flowers (kheyri), and I entered into conver- sation with him. He said that the Sahib-Divan, to whom it had belonged, had been passionately attached to it, and that the thought of abandoning it to strangers, who might neglect it or injure its beauty, had added the sharpest sting to the humiliation of his dismissal. That the Sahib-Divan was a bad administrator I have no doubt, but he was not cruel, and this love for his garden appears to me a pleasing trait in his character. Indeed, one cannot help pitying the old man, dismissed from the office he had so long held, and recalled from his beloved Shiraz to the capital, to meet the doubtful mood of a despot, while the name he left behind served as the butt whereon the poetaster and the satirist might exercise their wit till such time as a new object of scorn and derision should present itself. For it is not only the graceful and melodious lays of Hafiz, Sa'di, or Ka'ani, which, accompanied by the soft strains of the si-tar and the monotonous


beat of the dunbak, delight the joyous revellers who drink the wine of Khullar under the roses bordering some murmuring streamlet; interspersed with these are rhymes which, if less lofty, seldom fail to awaken the applause of the listeners. We are apt to think of the Persians as an entirely sedate, grave, and almost melancholy people; philosophers, often pessimist, seldom mirthful. Such a type does indeed exist, and exists in plenty. Yet amongst all Orientals the Persians are perhaps those whose idea of humour most nearly approaches our own, those in whom the sense of the ludicrous is most highly developed. One is amazed at the ready repartees, brilliant sallies of wit, bon-mots, and "chaff" which fly about on all sides in a convivial gathering of Persian literary men.

     "'Chaff,"' the reader may exclaim, "is it possible that the compatriots of 'Omar Khayyam can condescend to 'chaff'?"

     Not only is it possible, but very far from unusual; more than this, there is a very rich vocabulary of slang, of which the existence would hardly be suspected by the student of Persian literature. This is not all. The Persians have a multitude of songs ephemeral, of course, and not to be bought in the book-shops --which, if they are not comic, are most decidedly topical. These compositions are called tasnif, and their authors, for the most part, modestly--perhaps wisely--prefer to remain anonymous.

     In such lampoons, in words devoid of ambiguity, and with a frankness bordering on brutality, were the faults and failings of the Sahib-Divan held up to ridicule and obloquy. I only remember a few lines of one of the most popular of these songs. They ran as follows:--


     From all that I have said it will be sufficiently evident that the Sahib-Divan was extremely unpopular with the Shirazis. Perhaps his own misdeeds were not the sole cause of this unpopularity. The memory of the black treachery of his ancestor, Haji Ibrahim Khan, may be answerable to some extent for the detestation in which he was held. The story of this treachery is briefly as follows:--

     On the death of Karim Khan, the noble and chivalrous prince of the Zend dynasty, and the succession of the no less noble, no less chivalrous, but far more unfortunate Lutf 'Ali Khan, Haji Ibrahim Khan was retained by the latter in the influential position which he had previously occupied. So far from suspecting that one attached to him and his family by every bond of gratitude could meditate his betrayal, Lutf 'Ali Khan reposed the fullest confidence in his unworthy minister, and entrusted to him those powers which rendered possible an act of infamy as hateful as the tyrant in whose service it was done. The fortune of the Zend was already on the decline: already the tide of battle had turned against him, and Shiraz had awakened from a dream of happiness to find the Kajar bloodhounds baying beneath her walls. Then Haji Ibrahim Khan conceived the diabolical idea of securing his own safety and wealth by selling his kind master to a foe as implacable as he was cruel, as mean in spirit as he was hideous in aspect. Aka Muhammad Khan readily accepted


the traitor's services, promising in return for these that so long as he lived Ibrahim Khan should be honoured and protected. So one night the gates of Shiraz were opened to the usurper; and it was only by heroic efforts that Lutf 'Ali Khan succeeded in escaping for the time from his cruel enemy, and, cutting his way through all who sought to bar his progress, fled eastwards towards Kirman.

     Aka Muhammad Khan kept his word to the letter. So long as he lived, Haji Ibrahim Khan was loaded with favours. But when the tyrant felt his last hour approaching, he called to his side his successor, Fath 'Ali Shah, and addressed him in words to this effect:--

     "As soon as I am dead, and you are established on the throne which I have won, let your first act be to extirpate, root and branch, the family of Haji Ibrahim Khan. I swore to him that, as a reward for his treachery, I would protect and honour him as long as I lived. This oath I have faithfully kept; but when I am dead it will be no longer binding. Therefore I counsel you to be rid of the traitor and all his brood, for one who did not scruple to betray a master who had shown him nothing but kindness will certainly not hesitate to do the same again should opportunity offer. Let not one of that accursed family remain, for truly has the poet said--

Let no compunction stay your hand; let no false clemency tempt you to disobey my dying injunctions."

     Fath 'Ali Shah had no sooner mounted the throne than he proceeded to execute the last behest of his predecessor. From all parts of the empire the descendants of the traitor to whom the new king owed his undisputed supremacy were sought out. Perhaps, when he had in some measure slaked his thirst for


blood, Fath 'Ali Shah remembered that the black sin which he was now visiting on the innocent progeny of the criminal had after all been perpetrated in his interests and for the consolidation of his power. At any rate, he so far mitigated the rigour of his instructions as to spare some few of the doomed family after they had been deprived of their eyesight and otherwise mutilated. Only one, whose tender years moved the compassion of the executioners, escaped unharmed. That one was the father of the Sahib-Divan. Can we wonder if, when such punishment was meted out to the offspring of the traitor by the tyrant whom he served, hatred should be the portion of his descendants from the city which he betrayed? So much for the Sahib-Divan. We must now return to Shiraz and its environs.

     The garden of Haft-tan I visited with my Armenian friend. It is a pleasant secluded spot, well fitted to calm the spirits and elevate the thoughts of the dervishes who dwell within its shady precincts. The presence of a large and savage-looking dog, which rushed at us with loud barkings as soon as we entered the gate, somewhat marred this impression of quietude at first: it was, however, soon secured by one of the dervishes. We sat for a while by the seven graves from which the place takes its name, and drank tea, which was brought to us by the kindly inmates. A venerable old dervish entered into conversation with us, and even walked with us as far as the gate of the city. He was one of those dervishes who inspire one with respect for a name which serves but too often to shelter idleness, sloth, and even vice. Too often is it the case that the traveller, judging only by the opium-eating, hashish-smoking mendicant, who, with matted hair, glassy eyes, and harsh, raucous voice, importunes the passers-by for alms, condemns all dervishes as a blemish and a bane to their country. Yet in truth this is far from being a correct view. Nowhere are men to be met with so enlightened, so intelligent, so tolerant, so well-informed, and so simple- minded as amongst the ranks of the dervishes.


     The only other object of interest outside the city which demands any detailed notice is the Chah-i-Murtaza 'Ali; for the gardens not described above, beautiful as they are, possess no features so distinctive as to render description necessary. The Chah-i-Murtaza 'Ali ("Ali's well") is situated about half a mile to the north-east of the Kehvare'-i-Div, on the summit of the hills east of the Tang-i-Allahu Akbar. A building of considerable size, inhabited by the custodian of the shrine and his family, surmounts the "well," which is reached by descending a very slippery stone staircase of nineteen steps. This staircase opens out of a large room, where visitors can rest and smoke a kalyan. Above the archway which surmounts it are inscriptions in Arabic and Persian of no very ancient date. Half-way down the rocky stair is a wider space, which forms a sort of landing. At the bottom is a small cave or grotto, wherein is a little well, such as one often sees by English roadsides, into the basin of which water continually drips from the rock above. Opposite this a tablet shaped like the tombstones seen in old churchyards is carved on the wall. In the centre of this is a rude design, which appears to be intended for a flower growing in a flower-pot. On either side of this are two lines in Arabic, but these are so effaced by time and the touches of visitors to the shrine that they are almost illegible. In front of this tablet is a place for votive candles, which are brought hither by the devout. We were not allowed much time for examining the place, the guardian of the shrine continually calling out to us from above that the air was bad and would do us an injury, which, indeed, was possibly true, for it seemed to me to be loaded with carbonic acid or other stifling gases. Having ascended again to the room above, we stayed a while to smoke a kalyan and talk to the custodian. He knew little about the age or history of the place, only asserting that in ancient days it had been a fire-temple, but that in the days of Muhammad the fire had been for ever quenched by a miraculous bursting forth of the water from the well.


     I have now described all the more interesting places which I visited outside the city. It remains to say something of those situated within its walls. There are several fine mosques, the most celebrated of which is Shah Chiragh, but to these I was not able to gain access, and of them I cannot therefore speak. The narrow, tortuous streets differ in no wise from those of other Persian towns, but the bazaar demands a few words of notice. It was built by Karim Khan the Zend, and, though not very extensive, is wide, lofty, and well constructed. As regards the wares exposed for sale in its shops, the long muzzle-loading guns manufactured in the city (which, primitive as they may appear to a European, are capable of doing wonders in the hands of the Persian marksmen) chiefly attract the notice of the stranger. The book-shops are few in number, and the books which they contain are brought for the most part from Teheran, there being no printing- press in Shiraz. Indeed, so far as I know, the only presses in Persia are at Teheran, Isfahan, and Tabriz.

     All, or nearly all, the European wares sold in Shiraz are, as one would expect, of English manufacture. The sale of these is chiefly in the hands of the Armenian and Zoroastrian merchants who inhabit the Karavan-saray-i-Rawghani and the Karavan-saray-i- Mushir. In the shop of one of the Armenian traders I observed English guns, ammunition, tennis-shoes, tobacco, preserves, potted meats, writing materials, note-books, an Indian sun- helmet, and a musical box; articles which would be vainly sought for in Teheran, where nearly all, if not all, the European goods come from Russia.

     The number of Zoroastrians in Shiraz does not exceed a dozen. They are all merchants, and all natives of Yezd or Kirman. To one of them, named Mihraban, a Yezdi, I paid one or two visits. On the occasion of my first visit he informed me with delight that he was expecting a Parsee from Bombay in a fewdays, and expressed a hope that I would come and see him. A fortnight later, as I was passing near the caravansaray, I heard that


the expected guest had arrived, and turned aside to Mihraban's shop to see him. At first sight I took him for a European, for he wore English clothes, and on his head a cloth cap of the kind known as "deer-stalkers." Our conversation was conducted in English, which he spoke well--much better than Persian, in which, at any rate colloquially, he was far from proficient, having learned to pronounce it after the fashion prevalent in India. I found that he was on his way to Europe, which he had already visited on a previous occasion, and that he had chosen the overland route through Persia, because he desired to behold the ancient home of his ancestors. I asked him how he liked it.

     "Not at all," he replied; "I think it is a horrible country: no railways, no hotels, no places of amusement--nothing. I have only been in Shiraz a couple of days, and I am tired of it already, and mean to leave it in a day or two more."

     "I think it is a beautiful place," I answered, "and though I have been here more than a fortnight, I am in no wise wearied of its charms, and have not begun to think of quitting it yet."

     "Beautiful!" he exclaimed; "you cannot surely mean that you admire it? What can you find to like in it--you, who have seen London and Paris--who have been accustomed to civilised countries?"

     "Perhaps that is just the reason why I do like it," I answered, "for one just gets the least bit tired of 'civilised countries' after a while: they are all so much alike. Here everything is delightfully novel and refreshing. Of course, you will go to Yezd to see your co- religionists there?"

     "Not I!" he replied; "I shall go straight to Teheran as fast as I can, only stopping a day or two in Isfahan on the way. My sole desire is to get out of this country as soon as I can into one where there are railways and other appliances of civilisation. As for my co-religionists, I have no particular wish to see more of them than I have done at present. I suppose they are like this


man" (pointing to his host, who stood by smiling, unconscious of the purport of his guest's remarks)--"little better than savages."

     "Well," I said, mentally contrasting the ingratitude of this admirer of civilisation with the humble but cordial hospitality of the host whom he affected to despise, "I am not a Zoroastrian, yet I intend to visit Yezd before I leave Persia, expressly to see your co-religionists there, and I wonder that you too do not wish to acquaint yourself with their condition."

     I then bade farewell to my Parsee friend and his host, but I fell in with the former again on his journey northwards, as will be set forth in its proper place.

     The Sahib-Divan had quitted Shiraz before the Feast of the Nawruz. The new governor, Prince Ihtishamu'd-Dawla (the son of Ferhad Mirza), whom I had already seen at Teheran, did not enter the city till the thirteenth day after it. This circumstance was for me very fortunate, since it enabled me not only to witness the ceremonies attendant on his entry, but also to visit the citadel (Arg) during his absence.

     The entry of the new governor into the city was a very fine sight. He had been in the neighbourhood for several days, but the astrologers had fixed on the thirteenth day after the Nawruz as most auspicious for his inauguration. From a Persian point of view it was so, for, as it is a universal holiday, all the people were enabled to take part in the rejoicings. From a European standpoint the selection seemed scarcely so happy, for the day chosen was the first of April.

     Having been misinformed as to the time when the Prince would arrive, I was too late to see more than the entry of the procession into the great square in front of the citadel (Maydan- i-Arg). From the lofty roof of the majestic building which now contains the telegraph-offices I obtained a good view of the whole pageant. The Prince, mounted on a handsome gray horse, was surrounded by all the nobles of Shiraz and the neighbourhood, and preceded by a number of soldiers and couriers, and


a band mounted on camels, while a vast crowd followed and filled the square. A roar of artillery greeted his arrival, causing the building on which we stood to tremble. From what I heard I should fancy that the sight outside the city was even finer. Both sides of the road as far as the Tang-i-Allahu Akbar were lined with spectators, while numerous deputations came out to meet and welcome the new governor.

     The citadel (Arg) is a large and handsome pile containing a fine garden, in the centre of which is a building called, from the shape of its roof, Kulah-i-Firang ("the European's Hat"). The interior of this is cruciform, four elongated rooms opening out of the central hall, in the middle of which is a fountain. The lower part of the walls is composed of the beautiful marble of Yezd. The building is entered on either side by three steps, each of which is made of a single block of stone. It was in this building, I believe, that the Babi captives taken at Niriz were exhibited to Firuz Mirza, then governor of Shiraz. These captives, consisting entirely of women and little children (for the men had all been slain on the spot), were subsequently confined in an old caravansaray just outside the Isfahan gate, where they suffered great hardships, besides being exposed, as the Babi historian asserts, to the brutality of the soldiers.

     On the outer wall of the principal block of buildings is a series of bas-reliefs representing the exploits of the old heroes of ancient Persia. These have been gaudily coloured by order of the young Prince Jalalu'd-Dawla. Some of the rooms in this block are very beautiful, but several have been converted into bakehouses, and the paintings on their walls blackened with smoke and dirt. One very pretty room conhined a portrait of Nasiru'd-Din Shah, painted at the beginning of his reign, while the ceiling was adorned with representations of female figures. On the side of the room opposite to the windows and entrance were three doors leading to apartments beyond. Over each of these was inscribed a verse of poetry.


The first ran thus:--

The second was as follows:--

The third ran thus:--

     Several of the fireplaces in the different rooms bore appropriate verses inscribed on them. Two of these may serve as examples. The first runs thus:--


     The second is as follows:--

     Having now attempted to depict the city of Shiraz--its palaces, gardens, shrines, pleasure-grounds, and places of resort --I must return once more to the life within its walls. As I have said, there was no lack of society, and I enjoyed opportunities of witnessing a variety of Persian entertainments. As I have already described the general features of these in speaking of Teheran, I shall endeavour to be as concise as possible in this place, merely noticing such points as were novel to me.

     Two days after my arrival at Shiraz I was invited with the Nawwab to an entertainment given by an Armenian gentleman connected with the telegraph. On reaching the house soon after sunset I was cordially received by the host, who introduced me to his wife and another lady relative, and to his cousin, whom I have already had occasion to mention more than once as the companion of my excursions. The latter was about twenty-one years of age, had resided for a long time in Bombay, where he had been connected with the press, and spoke English perfectly, as did my host. The ladies preferred to talk Persian, in which language one of them was remarkably proficient, reading with ease the most difficult poetry. After a short while the other guests arrived. These were three in number: the Begler-begi, a young and somewhat arrogant nobleman; a friend of his, less arrogant but more boisterous; and a turbaned and bearded philosopher. To the latter I was introduced as a student of Metaphysics, and he at once proceeded to question me on the books I had read, the teachers with whom I had studied, and, finally, on some of those knotty problems which, long buried in oblivion in Europe, still agitate the minds and exercise the ingenuity of the Persian schoolmen. From a trying cross-examination as to my views on


the primordial atom (juz'alladhi la yatajazza) I was fortunately relieved by the entrance of two Jewish minstrels and a dancingboy, who had been engaged for our entertainment. The attention of the philosopher began to wander; his eyes were fixed on the evolutions of the dancer; his hands and feet beat time to the music. Wine was offered to him and not refused; metaphysics was exorcised by melody; and ere the hour of departure arrived, the disciple of Aristotle and Avicenna lay helpless on the floor, incapable of utterance, insensible to reproof, and oblivious alike of dignity and decorum. It is but just to say that this was the only occasion on which I witnessed so disgraceful a sight in Shiraz.

     The Jewish minstrels of whom I have spoken appeared to be the favourite artists in their profession, for they were present at almost every entertainment of which music formed a part. One of the two men was noted for the hideous contortions into which he could twist his face. He was also, as I learned, an admirable mimic, and excelled especially in personating the Firangi Sahib and the Muhammadan Mulla. These representations I did not witness, the former being withheld out of respect for my feelings, and the latter reserved for very select audiences who could be trusted to observe a discreet silence; for a poor Jew would not willingly run the risk of incurring the resentment of the powerful and fanatical priests. The dancing boy cannot have been more than ten or eleven years old. When performing, he wore such raiment as is usual with acrobats, with the addition of a small close-fitting cap, from beneath which his black hair streamed in long locks, a tunic reaching half-way to the knees, and a mass of trinkets which jingled at every movement. His evolutions were characterised by agility and suppleness rather than grace, and appeared to me somewhat monotonous, and at times even inelegant. I saw him for the second time at the house of Haji Nasru'llah Khan, the Ilkhani. On this occasion he superadded to his ordinary duties the function of cup-bearer, which


he performed in a somewhat novel and curious manner. Having filled the wine glass, he took the edge of the circular foot on which it stands firmly in his teeth, and, approaching each guest in turn, leaned slowly down so as to bring the wine within reach of the drinker, continually bending his body more and more forwards as the level of the liquid sank lower. One or two of the guests appeared particularly delighted with this manoeuvre, and strove to imprint a kiss on the boy's cheek as he quickly withdrew the empty glass.

     Amongst the guests was one who had just arrived from the North with the new governor. He was very conversational, and his talk was almost entirely about philosophy. What his views were I could not ascertain; at first I was inclined to suspect he might be a Babi, for he greeted me with the remark that he had been looking forward to seeing me ever since he left Isfahan, where he had heard a good deal about me. This remark he accompanied with a look full of meaning, and followed it up by asking me if I had met a young Frenchman, M. R---, who had lately passed through Persia. This strengthened my suspicions, for I had heard much of the gentleman in question: how he had been for some while amongst the Babis in Syria, how he had received from their chiefs letters of introduction and recommendation, and how, by reason of these, he had been greeted with a perfect ovation by the Babis in every Persian town which he had visited. I began to be afraid that some indiscretion on the part of my loquacious friend would betray my dealings with the Babis, which, for many reasons, I was anxious to keep secret. I therefore answered guardedly that I had not met the French traveller, and enquired what manner of man he was.

     "I met him several times and liked him very much," he replied.

     One or two of those present who had been listening to our conversation began to manifest signs of curiosity, observing which I hastened to change the subject. It was not long, however,


before religious topics again came up, and I began to think that I had mistaken my friend's opinions, for now he spoke in the strangest manner, alternately putting forward views quite incompatible, and delighting, apparently, in the perplexity which his paradoxes caused me. At last I asked him point-blank what his real opinions were.

"You know very well," he replied.

I assured him that he was mistaken, and pressed him for a clearer answer.

     "Well, they are the same as yours," he said; and with this unsatisfactory reply I was forced to be content.

     I have already alluded to the pleasant picnics in the garden of Rashk-i-Bihisht, to which, on two occasions, I accompanied the Nawwab. The number of guests at each of these was about a dozen, while at least as many servants were in attendance to cook the food, lay the cloth, and prepare tea and kalyans. On the first occasion I was awakened at half-past seven in the morning by Haji Safar, who informed me that the Nawwab was already preparing to start. I dressed as quickly as I could, but on descending into the courtyard found that he had already gone on to receive his guests, leaving his uncle, Haji Da'i, to wait, not in the best of tempers, for my appearance. I apologised meekly for my unpunctuality, excusing myself by saying that I did not know we were to start so early.

     "Of course we were to start early," he retorted, "before the sun should be high and the day grow hot."

     "Yes, if it were summer that would be necessary," I answered, "but it is hardly spring yet. I don't think it will be very hot today," I added, gazing at the cloudy sky.

     "Well, the guests were asked for this time, the Nawwab has already gone on to receive them, and the horses have been waiting for a long while. Come! Let us start at once."

     On reaching the garden, whlch was situated at a distance of about two miles from the town, we found the chief guests


already assembled. Amongst them were two princes, Siyavush Mirza and Jalalu'd-Din Mirza, cousins to one another, and descendants of Fath 'Ali Shah's eldest son, the Farman-farma. The latter was accompanied by his son, a handsome boy of about fourteen. Of the remaining guests, three were brothers belonging to a family of some consideration in Shiraz. One of them, Abu'l-Kasim Khan, I had already met at the Nawwab's; another, Hidayatu'llah Khan, attracted my attention by his firm refusal to drink wine, which he appeared to regard with unqualified disapproval. I had a good deal of conversation with him subsequently, and found him both agreeable and intelligent. The eldest brother was named Khan-Baba-Khan. A previous acquaintance of mine, remarkable not less for his great business capacities and intimate knowledge of the country round Shiraz than for his extremely ugly countenance, which had gained for him the sobriquet of "Haji Ghul" ("the ogre," as one may translate it), joined us somewhat later. One of the Jewish minstrels of whom I have spoken, Arzani by name, was also present, and continued during the morning to entertain us with music and song, assisted therein by Shukru'llah, the blind minstrel, and occasionally by such of the guests as possessed musical talent.

     The rain, which had been threatening all the morning, presently descended in a steady downpour. As we watched the dripping trees from the shelter of the summer-house where we were seated, I expressed regret that the weather should be so bad.

     "Bad!" was the answer I received, "why, it is beautiful weather! Just the day one would wish; a real spring day."

     I found it difficult at first to understand this view, which was evidently shared by all present except myself. The fact is, that in Persia, where during the summer hardly a drop of rain descends to moisten the parched earth, the welcome showers of spring, on which the abundance of the crops, and consequently the welfare of all classes, so entirely depends, are regarded with a


genuine delight and admiration whicll we can scarcely comprehend. There is nothing which a Persian enjoys more than to sit sipping his wine under the shelter of a summer-house, while he gazes on the falling rain-drops, and sniffs up the moist, soft air, laden with the grateful scent of the reviving flowers.

     After lunch, which was served about mid-day, the room was darkened by lowering a great curtain suspended outside the windows, and most of the guests composed themselves to sleep. About 3 p.m. they began to rouse themselves; tea and pipes were brought, and conversation and music recommenced till about sunset. The rain having ceased, we mounted our horses and wended our way back to the city.

     It will be seen that I had plenty of amusement during my stay at Shiraz, and that of a varied character. To have described all the social gatherings wherein I took a part would have been wearisome to the reader, and I have therefore selected as specimens only those which were typical of a class, or marked by special features of interest. Neither was I limited to Persian society. The chief of the telegraph, as well as the medical officer attached to that department, had left Shiraz on a visit of inspection the day after my arrival, so that I had only met them once on the morning of their departure. But with the rest of the telegraph staff, several of whom were married, I spent many pleasant hours, and often enjoyed a game of tennis with them in the garden where they dwelt.

     Hitherto I have spoken only of the lighter aspect of Persian life in Shiraz; of social gatherings where wine and music, dance and song, beguiled away the soft spring days, or the moonlit nights. It is time that I should turn to other memories-- gatherings where no wine flowed and no music sounded; where grave faces, illumined with the light of inward conviction, and eyes gleaming with unquenchable faith, surrounded me; where the strains of the rebeck were replaced by low, earnest tones speaking


of God, of the New Light, of pains resolutely endured, and of triumph confidently expected.

     The memory of those assemblies can never fade from my mind; the recollection of those faces and those tones no time can efface. I have gazed with awe on the workings of a mighty Spirit, and I marvel whereunto it tends. O people of the Bab! sorely persecuted, compelled to silence, but steadfast now as at Sheykh Tabarsi and Zanjan, what destiny is concealed for you behind the veil of the Future?

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