A Year Amongst the Persians: Yezd (continued)


YEZD (continued)

IN the last chapter I have spoken chiefly of the Zoroastrians; in this I propose to say something concerning my dealings with the Babis of Yezd, of whom also I saw a good deal. And first of all a few words are necessary as to the relations subsisting between the votaries of these two religions, the oldest and the newest which Persia has produced. Their relations to one another are of a much more friendly character than are the relations of either of them towards the Muhammadans, and this for several reasons. Both of them are liable to persecution at the hands of the Muhammadans, and so have a certain fellow- feeling and sympathy. Both of them are more tolerant towards such as are not of their own faith than the Muhammadans, the Zoroastrians, as already said, regarding "the virtuous of the seven climes" as their friends, and the Babis being commanded by Beha to "associate with men of all religions with spirituality


and sweet savour," and to regard no man as unclean by reason of his faith. Moreover the Babis recognise Zoroaster as a prophet, though without much enthusiasm, and are at some pains to conciliate and win over his followers to their way of thinking, as instanced by the epistles addressed by Beha from Acre to certain of their number; while some few at least of the Zoroastrians are not indisposed to recognise in Beha their expected deliverer, Shah Bahram, who, as Dastur Tir-andaz informed me, must appear soon if they were to be rescued from their abasement, and "the Good Religion" re-established. The Dastur himself, indeed, would not admit that Beha could be this promised saviour, who, he said, must come before the next Nawruz if he were to come at all; but others of his co-religionists were less confident on this point, and in Kirman I met at least one who was, so far as I could ascertain, actually a Babi. The marked predilection towards the Babis displayed by Manakji, the late Zoroastrian agent at Teheran, at whose instigation the Tarikh-i-Jadid, or "New History" of the Bab's "Manifestation," was written, must also have re-acted powerfully on his Zoroastrian brethren*.

      I may here mention a very absurd fiction, which I have more than once heard the Zoroastrians maintain in the presence of Musulmans or Babis, namely, that Zoroaster was identical with Abraham. The chief argument whereby they seek to establish this thesis is as follows: "You recognise five 'nabi-i-mursal'" (prophets sent with new revealed scriptures, as opposed to prophets merely sent to warn and preach repentance, who are called "nabi-i-mundhir"), say they, "to wit, Abraham with the


Suhuf ('Leaves,' 'Tracts,' or 'Epistles'), Moses with the Tawrat (Pentateuch), David with the Mazamir (Psalms), Jesus with the Injil (Gospel), and Muhammad with the Kur'an; and you believe that the book of each of these five, and a remnant of his people, shall continue in the world so long as it lasts. Now of each of the last four the book and the people exist to our day, but where is the Suhuf of Abraham, and where his followers? Does it not seem probable to you that the Suhuf is our Avesta, that Abraham is but another name for Zoroaster, and that we are his people?" As further proof of this contention, Ardashir declared that mention was made of Barahim, who was evidently the same as Ibrahim (Abraham), in the Shah-name; and I think he strove to connect this word with Brahman and Bahram, for he was capable of much in the way of etymology and comparative philology. I do not suppose that in their hearts many of the Zoroastrians really believe this nonsense, but it has always been a great object with them to get themselves included amongst the ahlu'l-kitab, or people to whom a revealed book recognised by the Muhammadans has been vouchsafed, inasmuch as these enjoy many privileges denied to the pagan and idolater.

      My first introduction to the Babis of Yezd I have already described. The morning after I had taken up my quarters in Ardashir's garden I received a message from Haji Seyyid M--- about 6 a.m., inviting me to take my early tea in a garden of his situated close at hand. Thither I at once repaired, and, after a while, found myself alone with the Babi poet 'Andalib.

      "How was it," he began, "that the Jews, although in expectation of their Messiah, failed to recognise him in the Lord Jesus?"

      "Because," I answered, "they looked only at the letter and not the spirit of their books, and had formed a false conception of the Messiah and his advent."

      "May not you Christians have done the same," he continued, "with regard to Him whose-advent you expect, the promised


'Comforter'? May He not have come, while you continue heedless? Within a few miles of Acre is a monastery of Carmelite monks, who have taken up their abode there to await the return of Christ, because their books tell them that He will return there. He bas returned there, almost at their very door, yet they recognise Him not, but continue gazing up to heaven, whence, as they vainly suppose, He will descend."

      "Consider the parable of the Lord of the vineyard," he resumed after a while, "which is contained in your gospel. First, He sent servants to demand his rights from those wicked men to whom the vineyard was let; these were the prophets before Christ. Then He sent His own Son, whom they killed; this was Christ Himself, as you yourselves admit. And after that what shall the Lord of the vineyard do? 'He will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.'"*

      "Do you then regard Beha as the Lord of the vineyard, that is to say, as God Himself?" I enquired in astonishment.

      "What say your own books?" he replied. "Who is He who shall come after the Son?"

      "Well, but what then say you of Muhammad?" I demanded, "for if you accept this parable and interpret it thus there is no place left for him, since he comes after the Son and before the Lord of the vineyard."

      "He was a messenger sent to announce the advent of the Lord of the vineyard," replied 'Andallb.

      "Then," said I, "he was less than the Son."

      "Yes," answered 'Andalib, "he was." He then spoke of other matters; of the devotion of the youth Badi', who came on foot from Acre to Teheran, there to meet a cruel death, with Beha's letter to Nasiru'd-Din Shah; of the martyrs of Isfahan, and the miserable end of their persecutors, Sheykh Bakir and the Imam-Jum'a; of the downfall of Napoleon III, foretold by Beha in the epistle addressed to the French Emperor


when he was at the zenith of his power, and read by himself four years before the accomplishment of the prediction. Concerning Badi' he remarked, "Even Christ prayed that, if possible, this cup might pass from Him, while this lad joyfully hastened with unhalting and unswerving feet over many a weary mile of desert and mountain, bearing his own death-warrant in his hand, to quaff the draught of martyrdom." As we were leaving the garden he took me by the hand and besought me to go to Acre and see Beha for myself. "How noble a work might be yours," he said, "if you could become assured of the truth of his claim, in spreading the good news through your country!"

      Next day I received a visit from a sarhang, or colonel, who filled at that time a rather responsible post at Yezd, whence he has since been transferred to another important town in the south of Persia. He too proved to be a Babi, and conversed very freely about the new Manifestation. "In accordance with the injunction 'address men according to tbe measure of their understanding,'" said he, "it behoves every divine messenger to impart to his people only so much spiritual knowledge as they are capable of receiving; wherefore, as mankind advances in education, the old creeds necessarily lose their significance, and the old formuae become obsolete. So, if a child were to ask what we meant by saying that knowledge was sweet, we might give it a sugar-plum and say, 'It resembles this,' so that the child, liking the sugar- plum, might desire knowledge; though, as a matter of fact, the two have nothing in common. To rough uncultivated men, such as the Arabs with whom Muhammad had to deal, the pleasures of Divine Love cannot be more clearly symbolised than as a material paradise of beautiful gardens and rivers of milk and wine and honey, where they shall be waited on by black-eyed maidens and fair boys. Now we have outgrown this coarse symbolism, and are fitted to receive a fuller measure of spiritual truth and wisdom from him who is the Fountain-head of wisdom and the wisest of all living men, Beha."


      Two days later I was invited by Haji Seyyid M---to spend the day with him and his friends in one of his gardens situated outside the town, on the road to Taft. He kindly sent his servant with a horse to convey me thither, and I had lunch and tea there, returning home about sunset. There were a good many guests (all, so far as I could make out, being Babis), including 'Andalib and a very vivacious little merchant on whom, in consideration oś the very humorous manner in which he impersonated, for our amusement, the venal conduct of a certain eminent mula of Yezd on the judgment-seat, the title of "Sheykh" was bestowed. The garden, with its roses, mulberry-trees, pomegranates in full blossom, syringas (nastarjan), cool marble tanks, and tiny streams, was like a dream of delight, and I have seldom spent a pleasanter day anywhere. I conversed chiefly with 'Andalib, who read me some of his own poems, and also wrote down for me one of the beautiful odes attributed to the Babi heroine and martyr Kurratu'l-'Ayn[1]. He talked a good deal about the identity of all the prophets, whom he regarded as successive Manifestations or Incarnations of the Divine Will or Universal Reason.

      "If that is so," I urged, "how can you speak of one Manifestation as more perfect than another, or one prophet as superior to another?"

      "From our human point of view," he replied, "we are entitled to speak thus, although from the standpoint of the Absolute it is incorrect. It is the same sun which rises every day to warn and light us, and no one for a moment doubts this; yet we say that the sun is hotter in summer than in winter, or warmer to day than yesterday, or in a different sign of the zodiac now fron that which it occupied a month ago. Speaking relatively to ourselves this is perfectly true, but when we consider the sun apart from accidents of time, place, environment, and the like, we perceive it to be ever one and the same, unchanged and


unchangeable. So is it with the Sun of Truth, which rise from the horizon of the heart, and illuminates the Spiritul Firmament."

      "Is it not strange, then," I asked, "that different prophet should advance different claims, one announcing himself as the 'Friend of God,' another as the 'Interlocutor of God,' another a the 'Apostle of God,' another as the 'Son of God,' and another as God Himself?"

      "No," he answered, "and I will strive to make it clearer by means of a parable. A certain king holding sway over a vast empire desired to discover with his own eyes the causes of disorders which prevailed in one of his provinces, so that he might take effectual measures to remedy them. He determined, therefore, to go thither himself, and, laying aside his kingly state, to mix with the people on terms of intimacy. So he wrote a letter declaring the bearer of it to be an officer of the king's household, sealed it with the royal seal, and, thus provided, went in disguise to the province in question, where he announced that he was an officer sent by the king to enquire into the disorders prevailing amongst the people, in proof of which he produced the royal warrant which he had himself written. After a while, when order had been in some degree restored, and men were more loyally disposed, he announced himself to be the king's own minister, producing another royal warrant in proof of this. Last of all he threw off all disguise and said, 'I am the king himself.' Now, all the time he was really the king, though men knew him not; yet was his state and majesty at first not as it was at last. So is it with the Divine Will or Universal Reason, which, becoming manifest from time to time for our guidance, declares Itself now as the Apostle of God, now as the Son of God, and at last as God Himself. We are not asked to acknowledge a higher status than It sees fit to claim at any particular time, but the royal signet is the sufficient proof of any claim which It may advance, including

      1 The text of this, with a translation into English verse, will be found pp. 314-16 of vol. ii of my Traveller's Narrative.


that of the Supreme Majesty itself. But, as Mawlana Jalalu'd-Din Rumi says:--

      Later on I asked Haji Seyyid M--- what he considered to be the difference between the Sufi saint who had attained to the "Station of Annihilation in God," wherein, like Mansur-i- Hallaj, he could cry, "I am the truth," and the prophet. "What, in short," I concluded, "is the difference between the 'I am God' of Mansur, and the 'I am God' of Beha? For, as your own proverb has it, 'There is no colour beyond black." '

      "The difference," said he, "is as the difference between our sitting here and saying, 'See, this is a rose-garden,' and one saying, 'I am such-and-such a rose in that garden. The one reaches a point where, losing sight and cognisance of self, he wanders at will through the World of Divinity ('Alam-i-Lahut); the other is the throne on which God sits, as He Himself saith, 'He set Himself upon the Throne' (istawa 'ala'l-'arsh)*. One is a perfect reflection of the sun cast in a pure clear mirror; the other is the sun itself."

      A few days later, after the month of Ramazan had begun, I paid another visit to Haji Seyyid M---'s house, where three of my Zoroastrian friends presently joined me. 'Andalib, as usual, was the chief spokesman, and, amongst other things, laid down the dogma that faith and unbelief were the root or essence of the whole matter, and good or bad actions only branches or subsidiaries. This position I attacked with some warmth.

      "Suppose a Jew and a Christian," said he, "the former merciful, charitable, benevolent, humane, pious, but rejecting and denying Christ; the latter cruel, selfish, vindictive, but accepting and reverencing Him. Of these two, which do you regard as the better man?"


"Without doubt the Jew," I answered.

      "God forbid!" replied he. "Without doubt the Christian. God is merciful and forgiving, and can pardon sin."

      "Can He not then pardon unbelief?" I demanded.

      "No," he answered, "from those who do not believe is taken the spirit which once they had, to which the present wretchedness and abasement of the Jews bears witness."

      As it did not appear to me that the nations professing the Cluistian religion had suffered much abasement on account of their rejection of Muhammad, I said, thinking to get the better of the argument, "Do you consider that every people which rejects a new Manifestation must be similarly abased?"

      He did not fall into my trap, however. "No," he answered, "not unless they have been guilty of some special act of hostility or cruelty towards the bearer of the new gospel."

      "What, then," I demanded, "of the Muhammadans? Can one conceive of greater hostility or cruelty than they showed towards the Bab and those who followed him? Shall they too be abased?"

      "Yea, verily," he answered, "and grievous shall be their abasement! Look at these poor guebres" (pointing to my Zoroastrian friends), "how miserable is their condition! And why? Because of the sin of Khusraw Parviz, who tore up the letter which the Apostle of God sent to him, inviting him to embrace Islam. Yet had he some excuse; for he was a great king, belonging to a mighty dynasty which had ruled for many generations; while the letter was from an unknown member of a despised and subject race, and was, moreover, curt and unceremonious in the extreme, beginning, 'This is a letter from Muhammad, the Apostle of God, to Khusraw Parviz.' What shall we say of the king who not only tore up the letter, but slew with the most cruel torments the messenger of one greater than Muhammad, the letter being, moreover, written in the most courteous and conciliatory tone? But the Christians never acted


thus towards Muhammad, and some, such as the Abyssinian Najashi, did all in their power to succour and protect those who, for their belief in him, had become wanderers and exiles."

      I tried to ascertain 'Andalib's beliefs as to the future life, a subject on which I have always found the Babis singularly reticent, and he told me that, according to their belief, the body, the vegetable soul, and the animal soul--all the lower prin- ciples, in fact--underwent disintegration and redistribution, while the "luminous spirit" (ruh-i-nurani) survived to receive rewards or punishments, whereof the nature was unrevealed and unknown. He then turned upon the Zoroastrians and upbraided them for their indifference in matters of religion. "For all these years," he concluded, "you have been seeing and hearing of Jews, Christians, and Muhammadans: have you ever taken the trouble to ascertain the nature of their beliefs, or of the proofs and arguments by which they support them? If for a single week you had given half the attention which you devote to your worldly business to a consideration of these matters, you would, in all probability, have attained to certainty. What fault can be greater than this indifference and neglect?"

      A few days after this I returned the Sarhang's visit. He received me very kindly in his house, situated near the mosque of Mir Chakmakh, and, though it was Ramazan, gave me tea, and himself drank a little hot water. The conversation at once turned on religion. He began by discussing the martyrdom of Imam Huseyn, "the Chief of Martyrs," and of 'Abbas, 'Ali Akbar, and the rest of his relatives and companions, at Kerbela, declaring that had it not been for the wrongs suffered by these, Islam would never have gained one-tenth of the strength it actually possesses. From this topic he passed to the Babi insurrection, headed by Aka Seyyid Yahya of Darab, which was put down with great severity in the summer of 1850.

      "Two of my relatives were in the army of the malignants,"


he began, "so I know a good deal about what took place, and more especially how God punished them for their wickedness. When orders came from Teheran to Shiraz to put down the insurrection, my maternal grandfather, the Shuja'u'l-Mulk, received instructions to march against the Babis of Niriz. He was somewhat unwilling to go, and consulted two of the clergy, who reassured him, telling him that it was a jihad, or holy war, and that to take part in it would ensure him a great reward in the future life. So he went, and what was done was done. The malignants, after they had slain 750 men of the Babis, took the women and children, stripped them nearly naked, mounted them on camels, mules, and asses, and led them forth through an avenue of heads severed from those who had been their husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons, towards Shiraz. When they arrived there they were lodged in a ruined caravansaray just outside the Isfahan gate, opposite to an imamzade, near to which the soldiers encamped under some trees. There, exposed to all manner of hardships, insults, and persecutions, they were kept for a long while, during which many of them died. And now hear how God took vengeance on some of those who were prominent as persecutors of his saints.

      "My grandfather, the Shuja'u'l Mulk, when stricken down by his last illness, was dumb till the day of his death. Just at the end, those who stood round him saw his lips move, and, stooping down to hear what he was whispering, heard him repeat the word 'Babi' three times. Immediately afterwards he fell back dead.

      "My great-uncle, Mirza Na'im, who also took part in the suppression of the Niriz rising, fell into disgrace with the Governrnent, and was twice heavily mulcted--10,000 tumans the first time, 15,000 tumans the second. His punishrnent did not stop here: he was made to stand bareheaded in the sun, with syrup smeared over his face to attract the flies; his feet were crushed in the Kajar boot; and his hands submitted to the el-chek,


that is to say, pieces of wood were inserted between his fingers, round which whip-cord was tightly bound, and on the whip-cord cold water was poured to make it contract. Nor were these the worst or most degrading torments to which he was subjected*.

      "I will tell you another instance of Divine Vengeance. There was in Shiraz a certain Sheykh Huseyn, who bore the honorific title of Nazimu'l-'Ulama', but who was generally known, by reason of his injustice, as 'Zalim' ('Tyrant'). He was not only concerned in the events I have described, but manifested a specially malignant hatred towards the Bab. So far did this hatred carry him, that when the Bab was before Huseyn Khan, the Governor of Fars, he drew his penknife from his pen-case, and cried, 'If you will not order his execution, I will kill him with this.' Later on, when the Bab had gone to Isfahan, he followed him thither, declaring that he would not cease to dog his footsteps till he had enjoyed the satisfaction of carrying out the death sentence on him; till at last the Governor of Isfahan sent him back to Shiraz, telling him that whenever that time came the mir-ghazab, or executioner, would be ready to do his duty. Well, after his return to Shiraz, he became affected with a scrotal swelling, which attained so enormous a size that he could hardly sit his horse, and had to be lifted into the saddle. Later on, before he died, his face turned black, save that one side was flecked with white spots; and thus he lay in his bed, loathsome alike to sight and smell, smearing his countenance with filth, and crying upon God to whiten his face on the Last Day, when the faces of others should be black. So he died."

      A few days after this I again paid a visit to Haji Seyyid M---'s house. 'Andalib, of course, was there, and took tea with me, explaining that as his throat was sore he was not fasting that day. He had found the passages, occurring in Beha's epistle to one of the Turkish ministers who had oppressed him, wherein the


catastrophes impending over the Ottoman Empire were foretold. The first (which was in Arabic) ran as follows:--

      It was a pretty sight to see Haji Seyyid M--- with his little child, to which he appeared devotedly attached, and which he would seldom suffer to be long out of his sight. When I had read the passage above translated, he took the book from me and held it out to the little one, saying "Kitab-ra mach kun" ("Kiss the book"), which, after some coaxing, it was prevailed upon to do. A baby Babi!

      On the following afternoon I again visited the Sarhang. Another man, to whom he did not introduce me, was with him when I arrived, but soon left. The Sarhang upbraided me for wishing to leave Yezd so soon, saying that he had not seen nearly as much of me as he would have liked, and then asked me whether I had attained any greater certainty in the matter of the Babi religion. I stated certain difficulties and objections, which he discussed with me. He also showed me some Babi poems, including one by "Jenab-i-Maryam" (the sister of Mulla Huseyn of Bushraweyh, the Bab's first convert and missionary), written in imitation of a rather celebrated ode of Shams-i-Tabriz. While we were examining these, a servant entered and announced the arrival of "Khuda" ("God"), and close on his heels followed the person so designated--a handsome, but rather wild-looking man--whose real name I ascertained to be Haji Mirza Muhammad, commonly called "Divane" ("the Madman"). The Sarhang introduced him as one controlled by Divine Attraction ("majdhub"), whose excessive love for God was proof against every


trial, and who was deeply attached to the words of Christ (especially as recorded in the Gospel of St Matthew), which would move him to tears. The "Madman," meanwhile, had taken up one of the volumes of Babi Alwah (Epistles) which the Sarbang had brought out, and began to read from it in a very melodious voice. "If you could understand all the beauties of these words," he said, as he concluded his reading and laid down the book, "you would at once be firmly convinced of the truth of the New Manifestation."

      I tried to put some questions on religious matters to them, but at first they would hardly listen to me, pouring forth torrents of rhapsody. At length, however, I succeeded in stating some of the matters on which I wished to hear their views, viz. the position accorded by them to Islam in the series of Theophanies, and the reasons for its lower standard of ethics and morality, lower ideal of future bliss, and greater harshness of rule and practice, as compared with Christianity. The answers which they returned made me realise once again how widely separated from each other were our respective points of view. They seemed to have no conception of Absolute Good or Absolute Truth: to them Good was merely what God chose to ordain, and Truth what He chose to reveal, so that they could not understand how anyone could attempt to test the truth of a religion by an abstract ethical or moral standard. God's Attributes, according to their belief, were twofold--"Attributes of Grace" (Sifat-i-Jemal or Lutf), and "Attributes of Wrath" (Sifat-i-Jalal or Kahr): both were equally divine, and in some dispensations (as the Christian and Babi) the former, in some (as the Mosaic and the Muhammadan) the latter predominated. A divine messenger or prophet, having once established the validity of his claim by suitable evidence, was to be obeyed in all things without criticism or questioning; and he had as much right to kill or compel, as a surgeon has to resort to amputation or the actual cautery, in cases where milder methods of treatment


would be likely to prove inefficacious. As for the Muhammadan paradise, with its jewelled thrones, its rivers of milk and wine and honey, its delicious fruits, and its beautiful attendants, it fulfilled its purpose; for every people must be addressed in words suited to the measure of their intellectual capacity, and the people to whom the Prophet Muhammad was sent could not have apprehended a higher ideal of future bliss. They could see nothing immoral or unsatisfactory in a man's renouncing pleasures forbidden in this life so as to enjoy them everlastingly in a future state.

      Wishing to ascertain the views of the Sarhang and his friend "Divane" on Sufiism and its saints, I briefly described to them certain phases of thought through which I myself had passed, and certain conclusions as to the relation and significance of different religions which its teachings had suggested to me. "In a well-known aphorism," I concluded, "it is said that 'the ways unto God are as the number of the souls of the children of men.' Every religion is surely an expression, more or less clear and complete, of some aspect of a great central Truth which itself transcends expression, even as Nizami says:--

Thus in Islam the Absolute Unity of God is above all insisted upon; in the Dualism of the Zoroastrians the eternal conflict between Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, Being and Not-being, the One and the Many, is symbolised; while the Christian Trinity, as I understand it, is the Trinity of the Sun, the Sun-beams which proceed from the Sun, and the Mirror, cleansed from every stain, wherein these falling produce (neither by Absorption of the Mirror into the Sun, nor by Incarnation of the Sun in the Mirror, but by Annihilation of the Mirror-hood of the Mirror in the Sun's effulgence) a perfect image of the Sun.


Even Idolatry subsists only by virtue of a truth which it embodies, as Sheykh Mahmud Shabistari says:--

So in every religion there is Truth for those who faithfully and earnestly seek it; and hence we find amongst the followers of religions apparently most divergent, living in lands and times so widely separated as to preclude all possibility of intercommunication, men who, led by that Inner Light which lighteth every one who cometh into the world, have arrived at doctrines practically identical. Is not this identity a sign of their truth? Is it not, moreover, far more consistent with God's universal mercy to reveal Himself thus inwardly to every pure soul than by a written scripture confided only to a comparatively small section of the human race? If salvation is only for the people of the Kur'an, then how hard is the lot of my people, to most of whom no more than its name, if so much, is known! If, on the other hand, only the people of the Gospel are to be saved, what possible chance of eternal happiness has been given to the great bulk of your fellow-countrymen?"

      From a Sufi I should have confidently expected a cordial endorsement of these views, but not from a Babi; and I was therefore surprised by the acclamations with which both of my companions received them, and still more so by the outburst of wild enthusiasm which they evoked in "Divane," who sprang from his seat, waving his arms and clapping his hands, with cries of "You have understood it! You have got it! God bless you! God bless you!"

      "Well, then," I continued, "what do you consider to be the difference between a prophet and a saint who by purification of the heart and renunciation of self has reached the degree of


'Annihilation in God'? For, as your own proverb says, 'There is no colour beyond black.'"

      "The difference," they replied, "is this. The saint who has reached this degree, and can, like Mansur the wool-carder, say, 'I am the Truth,' has no charge laid on him to guide and direct others, and is therefore not bound to be cautious and guarded in his utterances, since the possible consequences of these concern himself alone, and he has passed beyond himself; while the prophet is bound to have regard to the dictates of expediency and the requirements of the time. Hence it is that, as a matter of fact, most of the great Sufi saints were put to death, or subjected to grievous persecutions."

      I did not see "the Madman" again, but the Sarhang paid me a farewell visit on the morrow, and brought with him another officer, who, as I was informed, belonged to the 'Ali-Ilahi sect, and was, like many of that sect, very favourably disposed towards Babiism, concerning which the Sarhang spoke freely before him.

      Meanwhile the time of my departure was drawing near, and it was in some degree hastened by the kindly-meant but some- what irksome attentions of the Prince-Governor. He, as I have already mentioned, had set his heart on my visiting a certain waterfall in the mountains, without which, he declared, my journey to Yezd would be incomplete. As I had no particular desire to see this waterfall, and was anxious to avoid the trouble and expense in which the mounted escort which he wished to send with me would certainly have involved me, I determined to parry his proposals with those expressions of vague gratitude which I had already learned to regard as the most effectual means of defence in such cases, and meanwhile to complete my preparations for departure, and quietly slip away to Kirman with a farewell letter of thanks and apologies, to be despatched at the last moment.

      There was no particular difficulty about obtaining mules


for the journey, but it appeared to be impossible to hire a horse for myself to ride. Personally, I was quite indifferent as to whether I rode on a horse or a mule, but my friends, both Babis and Zoroastrians, were horrified at the idea of my entering Kirman on the humbler quadruped: "it would be so undignified," they said, "so derogatory to my state, so incompatible with the idea of distinction!" At first I was disposed to deride these notions, pointing out that the well-known Arabic proverb, "Sharafu'l makan bi'l-makin" ("the dignity of the dwelling is in the dweller") might fairly be paralleled by another, "Sharafu'l- markab bi'r-rakih" ("the dignity of the mount is in the rider"); but they evidently felt so strongly on the subject that, seeing that I had received much kindness at their hands, and was the bearer of letters of recommendation to their friends at Kirman, I finally gave way, and asked them what they advised.

      "I advise you to give up the idea of going to Kirman altogether," said 'Andalib; "you will get no good by it, and you see the difficulties that it involves. Go to Acre instead; that will be easily done on your homeward journey, and therefrom far greater blessings and advantages are likely to result."

      "But," said I, "I am in some sort pledged to go to Kirman, as I have written to Shiraz and also to my friends in England stating this to be my intention."

      "You are quite right," said Ardashir, "and I for my part advise you to adhere to your plan, for to change one's plans without strong rcason is to lay one's self open to a charge of indecision and lack of firm purpose."

      "Well," I rejoined, "if I am not to go there on a mule, and cannot hire a horse, what am I to do? Shall I, for instance, walk, or would it be more 'dignified' to go on a camel?"

      "Post," said one.

      "Buy a horse,' said another.

      "As for posting," I said, "I have had enough of that. I never understood the force of the proverb, 'Es-safar sakar'


('Travel is travail'*) till I posted from Shiraz to Dihbid. But as for buying a horse, that is a more practicable idea, supposing that a suitable animal is forthcoming at a moderate price. A friend of mine at Teheran told me that he kept a horse so as to be able to enjoy the luxury of going on foot; because, so long as he had no horse, it was supposed that the cause of his walking was either parsimony or poverty; but when it was known that he had one, his pedestrian progress was ascribed to eccentricity. Now I do not wish to be regarded as poor, still less as parsimonious; but I have no objection to being credited with eccentricity, and I should greatly enjoy the liberty of being able to walk as much and as often as I please."

      After my guests had gone I talked the matter over with Haji Safar, who was strongly in favour of my buying a horse. Although he continued to recur with some bitterness to the fact that he had entered Yezd riding on a donkey, he was good enough to make no difficulties about riding a mule to Kirman.

      Next day Bahman came bringing with him the muleteer who was to supply me with the two mules I needed for my journey. He also brought a horse belonging to a Zoroastrian miller, who was willing to sell it for eighteen tumans (nearly 6 pounds). It was by no means an ill-looking animal, and both Hajl Safar and myself, having mounted it and tried its paces, liked it well. However, with a view to forming a better idea of its capacities, I had it saddled again in the evening and went for a short ride outside the town, from which I returned delighted, with a full determination to buy it. Shortly after my return the owner came to the garden, and the bargain was soon concluded to the satisfaction of all concerned. Haji Safar was especially delighted.


      "You will have to give me three or four tumans a month more now," he said, "to look after your horse."

      "Or else engage another servant," I suggested. His face fell.

      "Don't be afraid," I continued: "I have enough trouble with you already. You shall have the groom's wages in addition to your own, and you can either look after the horse yourself or engage someone else to do so; only, in the latter case, please to understand clearly that the selection, appointment, payment, and dismissal of the groom is to be entirely in your hands, and that in no case will I listen to any complaints on either side, or mix myself up in any way in the quarrels you are sure to have."

      Haji Safar was so elated by this arrangement that he launched out into a series of anecdotes about one of his former masters, named Haji Kambar, who had held some position of authority (that of chief constable or governor, I believe) in Teheran, some fifteen years previously. Although his own morals do not seem to have been beyond reproach, he punished the offences of others with great severity. He ordered a dervish who had got drunk on 'arak to be bastinadoed for three hours; and even Seyyids were not protected from castigation by their holy lineage, for which, nevertheless, he would profess the greatest respect, causing the dark-blue turbans and sashes which were the outward sign thereof to be transferred to a tree or bush, to which he would then do obeisance ere he bade his farrashes beat the unlucky owner of the sacred tokens within an inch of his life. "One evening," continued Haji Safar, "I and three others of his pishkhidmats (pages) were taking a stroll in the town when we noticed in a coffee-house a man accompanied by what we at first took to be a very handsome youth, round whose kulah a handkerchief was tied in Kurdish fashion, so as to conceal the hair. On looking more attentively, however, we were convinced that this seeming youth was really a woman in disguise, so we arrested the two, and brought them to Hajl Kambar's house. Then I went to him, and said, 'Master, we have brought something


to show you.' 'And what may that be?' he asked. 'Come with me,' I said, 'and I will show you.' So he followed me into the room where our prisoners were waiting. 'A nice-looking boy, is he not?' said I, pointing to the younger of the two. 'Well, what have you brought him here for?' demanded my master. 'And nicely dressed too,' I continued, disregarding his question; 'look at the pretty Kurdish handkerchief he has wound round his kulah,' and as I spoke I plucked it off, and the girl's hair, escaping from constraint, fell down over her shoulders. When the Haji discovered that our prisoner was a girl dressed in man's clothes he was very angry, reviled her in unmeasured terms, and ordered her to be locked up in a cupboard, on which he set his seal, till the morning. In the morning she was taken out, placed in a sack, and beaten all over by the farrashes, after which her head was shaved, and she was released."

      I had not yet bought my horse or completed my preparations for departure, when I was again sent for by the Prince-Governor. This time I had not to go on foot, for one of my Babi friends insisted on lending me a very beautiful white horse which belonged to him. I tried to refuse his kind offer, saying that the Dastur was to accompany me to the Government House, and that as he could not ride I would rather go on foot also.

      "In our country," I said, "we are taught to respect age and learning, and the Dastur is old and learned, for which reason it appears to me most unseemly that I should ride and he walk beside me. He is a Zoroastrian, I am a Christian; both of us are regarded by the Musulmans as infidels and unclean, and, if they could, they would subject me to the same disabilities which are imposed on him. Let me, therefore, walk beside him to show my contempt for those disabilities, and my respect for the Dastur and his co-religionists."

      "If you desire to better the Zoroastrians," replied my friend, "it is advisable for you to go to the Prince with as much state and circumstance as possible. The more honour paid to you,


the better for them." The Dastur himself took exactly the same view, so there was nothing for it but to acquiesce.

      Half an hour before sunset the horse and servant of my friend came to the garden, and immediately after them the usual band of Government farrashes with a large lantern. I had arrayed myself in a new suit of clothes, made by a Yezdi tailor, of white shawl-stuff, on the pattern of an English suit. These were cool, comfortable, and neat; and though they would probably have been regarded as somewhat eccentric in England, I reflected that no one at Yezd or Kirman would doubt that they were the ordinary summer attire of an English gentleman. Haji Safar, indeed, laughingly remarked that people would say I had turned Babi (I suppose because the early Babis were wont to wear white raiment), but otherwise expressed the fullest approval.

      The first question addressed to me by the Prince on my entering his presence was, "When are you going?" On hearing that I proposed to start on the next day but one, he turned to the Dastur and enquired whether he intended to accompany me. The Dastur replied that he could not do so, as one of the Zoroastrian festivals, which necessitated his presence in Yezd, was close at hand, and that as it lasted a week I could not postpone my departure till it was over. Hearing this, the Prince wished to rearrange my plans entirely. I must go on the morrow, he said, to visit the waterfall and the mountains, remain there five days, then return to the city to see the Zoroastrian festival, and after that accompany the Zoroastrians to some of their shrines and holy places. Protestations were vain, and I was soon reduced to a sulky silence, which was relieved by the otherwise unwelcome intrusion of a large tarantula, and its pursuit and slaughter. After conversing for a while on general topics, and receiving for translation into English the rough draft of a letter which the Prince wished to send to Bombay to order photographic apparatus for his son, Minuchihr Mirza, I was suffered to depart.


      I now determined to carry into effect my plan of taking French leave of the Prince; and accordingly, my preparations being completed, on the very morning of the day fixed for my departure I wrote him a polite letter, thanking him very heartily for the many attentions he had shown me; expressing regrets that the limited time at my disposal would not suffer me either to follow out the programme he had so kindly arranged for me or to pay him a farewell visit; and concluding with a prayer for the continuance of his kindly feeling towards myself, and of his just rule over the people of Yezd. This letter I confided to the Dastur, who happened to be going to the Government House, together with the English translation of the order which the Prince wished to send to the Bombay photographer.

      I now flattered myself that I was well out of the difficulty and returned with relief to my packing; but I had reckoned altogether without my host, for in less than an hour I was interrupted by the Prince's self-sufficient pishkhidmat, who brought back the letter to the Bombay photographer with a request that I would write a literal translation of it in Persian. This involved unpacking my writing materials, and while I was engaged in this and the translation of the letter, one of the servants of my Babi friends came with a horse to take me to their house. Towards this man the pishkhidmat behaved with great insolence, asking him many impertinent and irrelevant questions, and finally turning him out of the room. At length I finished the translation, and, to my great relief, got rid of the pishkhidmat, as I hoped, for good. I then proceeded to the house of my Babi friends, bade them a most affectionate farewell, received from them the promised letters of recommendation for Kirman, and the names of the principal Babis at Nuk, Bahram-abad, and Niriz, and returned about sunset to the garden. Here I found the Dastur, Ardashir, and Bahman awaiting me, and also, to my consternation, the irrepressible pishkhidmat, who brought a written message from the Prince, expressing great regret at my departure,


and requesting me, if possible, to come and see him at once. As the hour of departure was now near at hand, and I was weary and eager for a little rest before setting out on the long night- march to Sar-i-Yezd, I would fain have excused myself; but, seeing that my Zoroastrian friends wished me to go, I ordered my horse to be saddled, and set out with the pishkhidmat. We rode rapidly through the dark and narrow streets, but in crossing the waste ground in front of the Government House my horse stumbled in a hole and fell with me, luckily without doing much harm to himself or me. The Prince was greatly concerned on hearing of my fall, and would hardly be persuaded that it was of no consequence; indeed, I was rather afraid that he would declare it of evil augury for my journey, and insist on my postponing my departure. However, this, my farewell interview, passed off as smoothly as could be wished, and I sat for about an hour smoking, drinking sherbet, and conversing. He paid me many undeserved compliments, declaring that the letter I had written to him was better than he could have believed it possible for a European to write, and that he intended to send it to the prime minister, the Aminu's-Sultan. I, in return, expressed the genuine admiration with which I regarded his just, liberal, and enlightened rule; prayed that God might prolong his shadow so long as the months repeated themselves and the days recurred; and finished up by putting in a good word for the Zoroastrians. So we parted, with mutual expressions of affection and esteem; but not till he had made me promise to accept the escort of a mounted tufankchi or musket-man, and further placed in my hands a letter of recommendation to the Prince-Governor of Kirman. Of this, which was given to me open and unsealed, I preserved a copy, which, as it may be of interest to the curious, I here translate, premising only that the terms in which Prince 'Imadu'd-Dawla was kind enough to describe me, exaggerated as they appear in English, are but the commonplaces of polite Persian.


      "In the Abode of Security of Kirman. May it be honoured by the august service of the desirable, most honourable, most illustrious, nobly-born lord, the most mighty, most puissant prince, His Highness Nasiru'd-Dawla (may his glory endure!), governor and ruler of the spacious domain of Kirman.

      "On the fourteenth of Ramazan was it despatched. 2468*.

      "May I be thy sacrifice!

      "Please God [our] religious devotions are accepted, and the care of God's servants, which is the best of service, on the part of the desirable, most honourable, most illustrious, most mighty and eminent prince (may his glory endure!) is approved in the divine audience-hall of God; for they have said--

      "At all events, the bearer of this letter of longing and service is my respected and honoured friend, of high degree, companion of glory and dignity, Iduard Barum Sahib, the Englishman, who, having come to visit this country, and being now homeward bound, hath set his heart on Kirman and the rapture of waiting upon the servants of the nobly-born prince. Of the characteristics of this illustrious personage it is needless for me to make any representation. After meeting him you will be able to appreciate his good qualities, and the degree of his culture, and how truly sensible and well informed he is, for all his youth and fewness of years. The laudable traits which he possesses, indeed, are beyond what one can represent. Since he has mentioned that he is setting out for Kirman, my very singular devotion impelled me to write these few words to the Blessed Presence. I trust that the sacred person of Your desirable, most illustrious, most mighty, and eminent Highness may be conjoined with health and good fortune. More were redundant."

      It was two hours after sunset when I returned to the garden, and finally got rid of the Prince's pishkhidmat with a present of two or three tumans. Haji Safar said that he should have had a watch or some other gift of the kind rather than money, which, he feared, might be refused or taken amiss. However, I had no watch to spare; and I am bound to confess that he was condescending enough to accept the monetary equivalent with grace if not gratitude. The farrashes having likewise been dismissed with presents of money,


I was left in peace with my Zoroastrian friends, who, after drinking a farewell cup with me, departed, with the exception of Bahman, Ardashir's confidential clerk, who remained behind to give me a statement of my finances, and to pay over to me the balance still to my credit. The amount for which I had brought a cheque from Shiraz was 147.5 tumans (nearly 45 pounds), of which I found that I had drawn 45 tumans during my stay at Yezd. The balance of 102.5 tumans I elected to receive in cash to the amount of 32.5 tumans and a cheque on a Zoroastrian merchant of Kirman for the remaining 70 tumans, both of which Bahman, who was as business-like, careful, and courteous as any English banker could have been, at once handed over to me, receiving in return a receipt for the whole sum with which I had been credited at Yezd.

      Little now remained to be done but to eat my supper, put a few finishing touches to my packing, and distribute small presents of money to some of those who had rendered me service. They came up in turn, called by Haji Safar; old Jamshid the gardener received 12 krans, his little son Khusraw 6 krans, another gardener named Khuda-dad 12 krans, and Haji Seyyid M---'s servant, 20 krans. The farewells were not yet finished, for just as I was about to drink a last cup of tea, two of my Babi friends came, in spite of the lateness of the hour, to wish me God-speed. Then they too left me, and only Bahman was present to watch the final departure of our little caravan as it passed silently forth into the desert and the darkness.

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