A Year Amongst the Persians: Amongst the Kalandars



THIS was how it came about.

      On the afternoon of this notable day, about four hours before sunset, I went into the town to pay some visits, leaving Sheykh Ibrahim asleep in the garden. I first went to see the Frenchmen, about whose health I had heard disquieting reports, which, fortunately, turned out to be exaggerated. Having remained with them for rather more than half an hour, I proceeded to the house of the young artillery officer whose acquaintance I had made through the Sheykh of Kum. While I was sitting there conversing with him, and watching the grotesque antics of a large tame monkey ('antar) which he kept as a pet, I first became conscious of an uneasy sensation in my eye. My host, too, noticed that it appeared inflamed, and bade


one of his servants bring a bowl of iced water that I might bathe it. So far from deriving any benefit from this treatment, however, it rapidly grew worse, so that, on my return to the garden, I was in considerable pain.

      Now Usta Akbar, the pea-parcher, whenever I urged him to tell me more about the Bab and his religion, used to declare that he could not talk freely on this topic save in some place where there was no fear of his being overheard; and it had therefore been arranged a day or two previously that on this evening he and a select company of his Babi friends--to wit, Sheykh Ibrahim of 'Irak, the Farrash-bashi's man, 'Abdu'llah, and the Ezeli minstrel, Fathu'llah--should sup with me in the garden and spend thc night there. Just as I was going out in the afternoon, Usta Akbar had come to the garden bringing with him a Babi merchant (whom I will call Aka Muhammad Hasan of Yezd), just arrived on business in Kirman from the little village in Rafsinjan where he dwelt. He, having heard from Usta Akbar an account of myself, was so curious to see me that he insisted on at once paying me a visit; and no sooner were they seated than the pea-parcher began to introduce him in his usual wild language.

      "Here is Aka Muhammad Hasan," said he, "come to do penance before you and entreat your forgiveness for his shortcomings, in that when you passed through Rafsinjan he neither came out to meet you, nor brought you into his house, nor set you on your journey. I have scolded him well, saying, 'Aka Muhammad Hasan, the Holy Spirit (Ruhu'l-Kuds) passed through Rafsinjan, and you had not so much as a word of welcome, nor advanced one foot from the other. Are you not ashamed of yourself?' He is now duly ashamed of himself, and will not be content till he receives from your lips the assurance of his pardon."

      I was in a hurry to get rid of my visitors, as I had to go into the town; so, half assenting to Aka Muhammad Hasan's


proposal that I should spend a few days with him at his village before leaving the province of Kirman, and inviting him to join us at supper that evening, when we should be able to talk to our hearts' content, I bade them farewell for the present.

      On my return to the garden, about an hour after sunset, I found these two and Sheykh Ibrahim awaiting me. My eye was now so painful that I determined to cover it with a bandage, which at once called the attention of my guests to its condition. They all expressed the greatest concern, and Usta Akbar begged me to allow him to try a remedy which he had never known to fail. In this request he was so importunate that at last I most foolishly consented. Thereupon he went out into the garden and gathered some leaves from the hollyhock or other similar plant, with which he soon returned. Then he called for an egg, broke it into a cup, removed the yolk, leaving only the white, and bade me lie down on the floor on my back, and, if possible, keep the inflamed eye open. Then he poured the white of the egg over the eye, covered it up with the leaves, and entreated me to remain still as long as I could, that the treatment might work. It did work: in two or three minutes the pain became so acute that I could bear it no longer, and called for warm water to wash away the horrid mess which half-blinded me. Usta Akbar remonstrated, but I told him that the remedy was worse than the disease.

      "Ah," said he, "it is clear that I have made a mistake. When you toId me that you had been bathing your eye in iced water, I assumed that this cold was the cause of the affection, and so applied a hot remedy. Now it is evident that it is due not to cold but to heat, so that a cold remedy should be applied. And I know one which will not disappoint you."

      "Thank you," I rejoined, "if it is anything like the last I should prefer to have nothing to do with it."

      "It is nothing like the last," he answered. "What I would suggest is that you should smoke a pipe of opium. That is a cold


drug most potent in the treatment of hot maladies, and of its efficacy you cannot but have heard."

      Opium! There was something fascinating about the idea. The action on the mental functions exercised by narcotic drugs had always possessed for me a special interest, and though the extremely unpleasant results of an experiment on the subjective effects of Cannabis India (Indian hemp) which I had tried while a student at St Bartholomew's Hospital had somewhat cooled my enthusiasm for this sort of research, the remembrance of that dreadful evening when Time and Space seemed merging in confused chaos, and my very personality appeared to be undergoing disintegration, had now sufficiently lost its vividness to make me not unwilling to court some fresh experience of this kind. So, after a few moments' reflection, I signified my willingness to try Usta Akbar's new cure; and ten minutes later my whole being was permeated with that glow of tranquil beatitude, conscious of itself, nay, almost exultant in its own peaceful serenity, which constitutes the fatal charm of what the Persians call par excellence "the Antidote" (tiryak).

      At this juncture the young Ezeli minstrel, and, soon afterwards, 'Abdu'llah arrived, and we adjourned to the summerhouse, where Haji Safar had spread a cloth on which were disposed dishes of fruit, sweets, and ajil (pistachio-nuts, melon seeds, and the like, strongly salted to whet the appetite), and bottles of wine and 'arak.

      The conversation, though it did not flag, was at first quiet enough. My guests spoke in the usual strain of the succession of prophetic cycles, of the progressive character of Revelation, and of the increasing strength of the Theophanic Sun in each appearance. "The Lord Jesus," said they, "was as a sun shining in the Fourth Heaven, which is the 'Station of the Spirit' (Makam-i-Ruh). Muhammad was in the Fifth Heaven, which is the 'Station of Reason' (Makam-i-Akl). The Nukte'-i-Beyan, 'His Holiness our Lord the Supreme' (i.e. the Bab) appeared


yet higher, in the Sixth Heaven or 'Station of Love' (Makam-i- 'Ishk); and Beha, in whom all previous Manifestations find their fulfilment and consummation, occupies the Seventh or highest Heaven, and is a perfect Manifestation of the Unseen and Incomprehensible Essence of the Divinity."

      Then suddenly some one bade the minstrel sing; and he, in high-pitched, plaintive voice, every modulation of which seemed to stir the soul to its very depths, burst forth with an ode of the Babi heroine Kurratu'l-Ayn, whereof the translation which I here give can but dimly reflect the passion and the fire.

    "The thralls of yearning love constrain in the bonds of pain and
      These broken-hearted lovers of thine to yield their lives in their zeal
               for Thee.
   2 Though with sword in hand my Darling stand with intent to slay,
               though I sinless be,
      If it pleases Him, this tyrants whim, I am well content with His
    As in sleep I lay at the dawn of day that cruel Charmer came to me
      And in the grace of His form and face the dawn of the morn I seemed
               to see.
   4 The musk of Cathay might perfume gain from the scent those fragrant
               tresses rain,
      While His eyes demolish a faith in vain attacked by the pagans of
      With you, who contemn both love and wine for the hermit's cell and
               the zealot's shrine,
      What can I do?   For our faith divine you hold as a thing of infamy.
   6 The tangled curls of thy darling's hair, and thy saddle and steed are
               thine only care;
      In thy heart the Infinite hath no share, nor the thought of the poor
               man's poverty.
      Sikandar's pomp and display be thine, the Kalandar's habit and way
          be mine;
      That, if it please thee, I resign, while this, though bad, is enough
          for me.
   8 The country of 'I' and 'We' forsake; thy home in Annihilation make,
      Since fearing not this step to take thou shalt gain the highest


      When he had finished this ode, and the cries of "Ey jan!" ("O my life!") and "Kurban-at gardam!" ("May I be thy sacrifice!"), which, interjected more than once even in the course of the song, burst forth with uncontrollable enthusiasm at its conclusion, had ceased, the minstrel once more began to sing. I cannot recall the actual words of this song, save in a few places, but the general tenor of it was not far from the paraphrase which I here offer--

Again the minstrel was silent, and Sheykh Ibrahim, with flushed face and glittering eyes, began to speak. "Yes," said he, "we are all one. What matter if the vessels differ in honour and degree one from another, when in truth their honour is but from


the wine they hold, which perisheth not though they be broken in pieces? And what is this Wine which perisheth not, which pervadeth all things? God, you will answer. Then, what, I say again, is God? An imaginary abstraction? A projection of your own personality and conceptions thrown on the sky above?

What, then, means the 'meeting with God' spoken of in the Kur'an? Who are 'those who shall meet their Lord'? Can you meet an Abstraction? Nay, is not this Abstraction, after all, but the creation of your own mind, and as such dependent on you and inferior to you? No, God is something real, visible, tangible, definite. Go to Acre and see God!"

      "Now God forbid," I exclaimed in utter horror of the frightful anthropomorphism thus suddenly laid bare before me, "God forbid that it should be so! Why, the very verse which you cited from the Masnavi bears witness against you-- 'The Moon's not in the stream but in the sky'--that is to say, as I understand it, 'Look for the Reality outside and beyond this phenomenal world, not in these transient reflections whereby, clearly or dimly, it is mirrored amongst mankind.' The mirror wholly depends on the original, and owes all to it; the original stands in no need of the mirror. 'Exalted is God above that which they allege!'"

      Then Fathu'llah, the minstrel, broke in. "O Hazrat-i-Firangi!" he exclaimed, "all these ideas and thoughts about God which you have, yea, your very doubts and wonderings, are your creatures, and you are their creator, and therefore above them, even according to the verse you quote, 'Exalted is God above


that which they allege!' Jesus, who is the Spirit of God (Ruhu'llah), passed into His Church and is manifested in them; therefore was it that when His Holiness, the Point of Revelation (i.e. the Bab) was asked 'What are the Firangis?' he replied, 'They are Spirit.' You are to-day the Manifestation of Jesus, you are the Incarnation of the Holy Spirit, nay, did you but realise it, you are God!"

      "God forbid!" I exclaimed again, "speak not after this impious fashion, and know that I regard myself as the least of God's servants and the most inconsistent and unworthy of those who profess to take the Lord Jesus as their pattern and exemplar!"

      "'Verily, I am a man like unto you!'" shouted Sheykh Ibrahim; "thus said the Prophet, whose object, like all the prophets who preceded and followed him, was to make us men. So said Beha to me in Acre, 'I desire that all men should become even as I am!' If any one says that Beha has attained to anything whereunto we also may not attain, he lies and is an ignorant fool!" Here he glared fiercely round the assembly to see if anyone would venture to contradict him, and, as no one did so, continued: "On the forehead of every man is written, in that writing whereof you wot, either 'Hadha Mu'min' ('This is a Believer'), or 'Hadha Kafir' ('This is an Infidel'). On that side of your forehead uncovered by the bandage which you have bound over your eye I read 'Hadha Mu'...,' and I know that were the bandage removed I should see '-min' written on the other side. O Jenab-i- Sabib! O Hazrat-i-Firangi! when you go back to Firangistan you must stir up trouble and mischief (fitne u fasad); you must make them all Babis."

      They talked much after this fashion, while I listened in consternation, half-frightened at their vehemence, half-disgusted at their doctrines, yet withal held spell-bound by their eloquence. "Was this, then," I thought to myself, "the root of the matter, the heart of that doctrine which promised so fairly, whereof the votaries whom I have hitherto met seemed so conspicuous for


their probity, piety, sobriety, and devoutness? Have I mistaken for a gleam of heaven-sent light a will-o'-the-wisp, born of the dead, disintegrated creeds of Mazdak and el-Mokanna', and the terrible 'Old Man of the Mountain,' before the daggers of whose emissaries the chivalry of East and West fell like the grass before the scythe of the mower? And have I tracked it onwards, step by step, only to find at last that its home is in this quagmire of antinomian anthropomorphism? Or are these indeed no more Babis than they are Muhammadans, but men who, in true Persian fashion, disguise atheism in the garb of religion, and bedeck it with the trinkets of a mystical terminology?"

      At length, long after midnight, we adjourned for supper to the other buildings, and, ere the conclusion of the meal, Sheykh Ibrahim's conversation grew so blasphemous and disgusting that on the first opportunity I arose and returned, distressed and angry, to the summer-house, followed by my guests. The merchant from Rafsinjan, whose conversation had throughout been more moderate and reasonable than that of the others, and Fathu'llah, the minstrel, whose vehemence was the outcome of an emotional and excitable nature--not of wine, which he eschewed--noticed my disgust, and approached me to enquire its cause.

      "What is it that has offended me?" I replied: "What should it be but Sheykh Ibrahim's disgusting behaviour? The all- controlling influence exerted by the Prophetic Word over the hearts of men is one of the chief proofs to which you appeal in support of your religion. Is not wine forbidden in your religion as rigorously as in Islam? What is the use of your professing all this devotion to him whom you regard as the Mouthpiece of God, and kissing the Kitab-i-Akdas, which you regard as the Word of God, if you condone so gross a violatior of the laws which it contains, and of all laws, whether of religion, ethics, or good taste?"

      Sheykh Ibrahim at this moment staggered up to us with cries


of drunken defiance, and, laying his hand on my arm, demanded what we were talking about. I shook him from me with a gesture of uncontrollable loathing, and, followed by the other two, retired to a little distance from the summer-house.

      "You are right," they rejoined, as soon as we were out of Sheykh Ibrahim's sight and hearing, "and the Sheykh's conduct is to be deplored. But then old habits will force themselves to the surface at times, and, after all, to know and recognise the Truth is the great thing."

      "But action is better than assent," said I, "and to do is greater than to know. What think you of this parable which we find in our Gospels?" And I repeated to them the parable of the two sons bidden by their father to go and do his work, of whom the one said, "I go," and went not, and the other said, "I will not go," but afterwards went.

      "Ay," said they, "but for all that, both were sons. Knowledge is like a telescope, wherewith we view the distant Land of Promise. We may be standing in the mud, chilled by snow and sleet, or drenched with rain, yet with this telescope we may see and correctly describe the orange and myrtle-groves of the Promised Land. And this knowledge the Sheykh has none the less, because at times he wallows, as now, in the mud of sin."

      "But this vision of the Promised Land," I replied, "is of no use unless you set out to reach it. Better is he who, without seeing it or knowing where it lies, faithfully follows one who will lead him thither, though he be compelled to walk blindly, than he who supinely gazes at it through this telescope."

They were silent for a while, distressed, as it seemed, at my distress, and somewhat ashamed of the Sheykh's conduct. Then said the merchant of Rafsinjan:--

      "Sahib, we will now bid you farewell and depart, for see, the dawn grows bright in the sky, and we had best return."

      "Nay," I answered, fearing lest I had offended them, "tarry


at least till the city-gates are open, and sleep for a while, and then depart in peace."

      But they would not be persuaded, and departed with sorrowful and downcast faces, all save Sheykh Ibrahim (who was in no condition to move) and 'Abdu'llah, who would not forsake his friend. So I left these two in the summer-house, and went back to the room where we had eaten supper, and bathed my eye, which had again become very painful, and, after a time, fell asleep.

      It was the afternoon of the next day when I awoke, and learned with some relief that 'Abdu'llah had departed soon after the other guests, and the Sheykh about noon. My eye was so painful that it was impossible to think of going out, and there was nothing to distract my attention from the pain which I suffered (for to read was, of course, impossible) till, about three hours before sunset, a telegram from my friend, the Chief of the Telegraph at Yezd, was brought to me, informing me that he had just received my letter and had answered it by that day's post, and enquiring after my health. The telegram must have travelled very slowly, or the letter very fast, for hardly had I finished writing the answer to the former when the latter was brought by the postmaster of Kirman, who was accompanied by the young Babi merchant, Aka Muhammad Sadik. In the letter, which was most kindly worded, were enclosed copies of two poems for which I had asked--the one by Kurratu'l-'Ayn*, the other by Jenab-i-Maryam, the sister of the Bab's first apostle, Mulla Huseyn of Bushraweyh. These I showed to my visitors, who read them with manifest delight, and, the subject being thus introduced, the conversation turned on the Babis, and especially on Kurratu'l-'Ayn, of whose death the postmaster gave me the following account, which he professed to have had from thc lips of her gaoler, Mahmud Khan the Kalantar:--

* Of this poem, which is written in the same rhyme and metre as that

      translated at P. 535, supra, the text and translation will be found

      at pp. 314-16 of vol. ii of my Traveller's Narrative.


      "'The day before she suffered martyrdom," said the postmaster, "she told those about her that her death was to take place, saying, 'To-morrow evening the Shah will send after me, and his messenger will come riding, and will desire me to mount behind him. This I do not wish to do, wherefore I pray you to lend me one of your horses, and to send one of your servants to escort me.' Next day all this came to pass. When she was brought in before the Shah in the palace of the Nigaristan, and bidden to renounce the Bab, she refused, and persisted in her refusal. So she was cast into a well which is in the garden, and four large stones were thrown down upon her, and the well was then filled up with earth. As for Mahmud Khan, he was, as you know, strangled by order of the father of Prince Nasiru'd- Dawla, our governor, during the bread-riots in Teheran, and his body dragged by the feet through the streets and bazaars."*

      The postmaster also talked a little about the Ezelis, saying that they were more numerous in Kirman than anywhere else, and that even in Kirman they were but few in number. Amongst them he mentioned Fathu'llah, the minstrel, and a certain mulla whom I will call Mulla Hadi, but the Sheykh of Kum he would not include in his enumeration, "for," said he, "though he sympathises with the Ezelis and courts their society, he is in point of fact a free-thinker and a materialist." After the departure of these guests I was visited by my Zoroastrian friends, Gushtasp and Feridun, who came to condole with me, and to enquire after the ophthalmia, repeating over and over again, "Bad na-bashad!" ("May it not end ill!"), till I was depressed not a little.

      Monday, 8th July, 28th Shawwal. -- This morning I received a visit from one Murtaza-kuli Khan Afshar, who, soon after his arrival, produced a great roll of verse in manuscript, from


which he proceeded to read me selections. This verse was, I fancy, his own composition, but about the writer I could learn no more than that his poetical pseudonym (takhallus) was Bi-nawa, and that he was still living. My visitor was very anxious to give me the manuscript, so that I might take it back with me to Europe and get it printed, but I excused myself, assuring him that it could be better and more conveniently published in Persia. In point of fact it was not worth publishing anywhere, being remarkable only for its monotonous harping on the topics of death, corruption, and the torments of hell, and for its badness of taste and poverty of style. Over and over again was this idea repeated in substance: "How many moon-faced beauties, whose stature was as that of the cypress tree, have gone down into the grave with only scorpions, snakes, worms, and ants for their companions in their narrow bed!" Only one poem, in praise of the reigning king, offered the least variety. This began with an account of the Shah's travels in Europe, which was followed by a description of the Babi rising and its suppression, a long passage being devoted to Kurratu'l-'Ayn. My visitor remained with me for some time after I had succeeded in checking this recitation of doggerel, but his conversation was not much more lively than his verse, for he talked of nothing else but the horrors of hell and the delights of paradise, both of which he depicted in the crudest and most grossly material colours.

      Tuesday, 9th July, 29th Shawwal.-- This evening I was again the guest of the Zoroastrians at the garden of Mulla Serush, and sat down to supper with some twenty-five followers of "the Good Religion." The evening passed much as usual, with wine song, and minstrelsy, save that one Firuz by name, having taken rather more to drink than was good for him (a rare thing amongst the Zoroastrians), favoured the company with a rather vulgar imitation of the performances of dancing-boys. There was some talk of Zoroaster and the miracles ascribed to him, and of the descent to earth of ten flames (adhar), distinguished from fire (atash)


by being devoid of all property of scorching or burning. Three of these, so my hosts informed me, had returned to heaven, and one had in recent times migrated from Khurasan, where it suffered neglect, to Yezd. It was not till after midnight that I was suffered to depart, and then only on giving a promise that I would return first thing the next morning.

      It was on this night that a jerk of the chain which I had suffered Sir Opium to wind round me, first made me conscious of the fact that I had dallied overlong with him. Eight days had now elapsed since this dalliance began, and, though I had smoked what may well be termed "the Pipe of Peace" pretty regularly during this period, the fact that once or twice I had abstained from smoking it at the usual time, without suffering inconvenience, had lulled me into a false sense of security. "After all," I had said to myself, "a great deal of exaggeration is current about these things; for how few of those in England who talk so glibly about the evils of opium-smoking, and waste their time and other people's money in trying to put a stop to it, have any practical acquaintance at all with it; and, on the other hand, how many of my friends here, when they feel depressed and worried, or want to pass a quiet evening with a few congenial friends in discussing metaphysics and ontology, indulge in an occasional pipe. However, this resolution I make, that on the day when I shall be well enough to go out of this garden I lay aside my pretty opium-pipe (vafur), with its sikh (cleaning rod) and its anbur (charcoal tongs), which shall be to me thenceforth but as curiosities to hang up in my college rooms when I get back to Cambridge."

      Well, to-night, as I reluctantly admitted to myself, the time had come to put my resolution into practice. And how did I do it? I kept it, after a fashion, just for that one night--and what a night it was! In vain I longed for sleep, in vain I tossed to and fro on my couch till the stars grew pale in the sky, for an indefinable craving, to which was presently superadded


general sense of uneasiness pervading all the facial nerves warred with the weariness which possessed me. I was ashamed to wake my servant and bid him kindle a fire, else had my resolution not held even for one night; indeed, as it was, it can hardly be said to have held, since at last in desperation I drenched some tobacco in laudanum, taken from the little medicine-chest I had with me, rolled it into a cigarette, and tried, though with but little satisfaction, to smoke it.

      And this is the way of opium. You may smoke it occasionally at long intervals, and feel no after-craving. You may smoke it for two or three days consecutively, and abandon it without difficulty; then you may, after an interval of one or two days do the like once more, and again forsake it; and then, having smoked it once or twice again, you will try to put it from you as before, and you will find you cannot--that the fetters are forged which, likely enough, you will wear for ever. So next day I relapsed into bondage, and, when a few days later I told my plight to a friend of mine (the Prince's secretary and an Ezeli Babi), who was a confirmed "vafuri" (opium-smoker), he clapped his hand on his thigh and exclaimed, "Hala digar guzasht! Vafuri shude-id!" (Now, at any rate, it is all over! You have become an opium-smoker!"). Neither did he say this without a certain air of contentment, if not of exultation; for it is a curious fact that, although the opium-smoker will, as a rule, never tire of abusing his tyrant, he will almost always rejoice to see another led into the same bondage, and will take the new captive by the hand as a brother.

      Thursday, 11th July, 2nd Dhi'l-Ka'da.-- Last night I received a telegram from Shiraz informing me that a telegram addressed to me there had arrived from England, in which I was requested to signify my acceptance of the post of Persian Lecturer, to which I had been appointed at Cambridge. Accordingly, I went into the City an hour or two after sunrise to despatch an answer. Near the Mosque Gate I met Usta Akbar, the pea-parcher, who invited


me to lunch with him when I had completed my business. I readily accepted his invitation, and walked with him to his shop, where I stayed talking with him for a few minutes. A young Tabrizi named Rahman Beg was there, and Usta Akbar, pointing at him, asked me jestingly, "whether I could make this Turk a Babi?"

      My business at the telegraph-office did not take long. The telegram, though destined for England, had, of course, to be written in Persian, and I managed to condense it, including the address, into seven words, for which I paid twenty krans and thirteen shahis (about 16s. 6d.), the tariff having luckily been reduced within the last few days. I then returned to Usta Akbar's house and had lunch with him, after which I wrote some letters, including one to Prince Nasiru'd-Dawla, the governor. In this I ventured to say a few words in favour of Mirza Yusuf of Tabriz (at whose urgent request, supported by Seyyid Huseyn of Jandak, I had been induced to take what certainly was rather a liberty), asking the Prince, in case he could not find him employment, whether he would give him the means of reaching his native town of Tabriz, where he had friends and relatives.

      I stayed to supper with Usta Akbar, Fathu'llah, the Ezeli minstrel, being the only other guest. We ate our meal on the roof (for it was a beautiful moonlight night), and sat so late talking, drinking tea, and smoking opium, that, as the time for shutting the city-gates had long passed, I agreed to my host's proposal that I should spend the night there. Bolsters, pillows, and quilts were accordingly brought up on to the roof, but, though our host soon composed himself to sleep, I sat late talking to the Ezeli. I asked him to tell me how he had become a Babi, and he related as follows:--

      "A year or two ago," he began, "I fell desperately in love; so that, on the rare occasions when my good fortune suffered me to pass a few moments in the presence of my beloved, I was for the most part as one annihilated and overcome with bewilderment,


submerged in the ocean of adoration, and repeating in the language appropriate to my condition Sheykh Sa'dis lines--

         ''Ajab-ast ba vujudat ki vujud-i-man bi-manad;
         Tu bi-guftan andar a'i, u mara sukhan bi-manad!'

            'The wonder is that I survive the while I gaze on thee;
               That thou should'st speak, and power of speech should
                                    still be left to me!'

Or, as another has said--

            'Agar khwaham gham-i-dil ba tu guyam, ja nami-yabam;
               Agar ja'i kunam peyda, tura tanha nami-yabam;
               Agar tanha tura yabam, va ja'i ham kunam peyda,
               Ai shadi dast u pa gum mi-kunam, khud-ra nami-yabam!'

         'I find no place whcre I to thee my passion may declare
            Or, if I find the place, with thee I find my rival there,
            Or, if at length I find a place, and find thee there alone,
            In vain I seek myself, for self has melted into air!'

But more often it happened that I was compelled to bear with separation, and then I would console myself as best I might by reading and singing the odes of Sa'di, which, seemed to me specially applicable to my condition.

      "Now one day a friend of mine begged me to lend him my Divan of Sa'di, promising to give me instead another and a better book. With some reluctance I consented to the exchange, and received from him the mystical Masnavi of Jalalu'd-Din Rumi. When I began to read this, I at first bitterly repented the bargain. 'What is all this,' I asked myself, 'about the flute making lamentation because of its separation from the reed-bed-- and wkat has it to do with me?' But graduany the inner meaning began to dawn upon me; the love of the True and Eternal Beloved displaced from my heart the earthly passion which had filled it; and I realised the meaning of what the mystics say, 'El- Mejazu kantaratu'l-Hakikat' ('the Phenomenal is the Bridge to the Real'). Yes,


      "One day, passing by the city-gate, I heard a man reading from a book which he held in his hand. The sweetness of the words and their dignity charmed me, and I stopped to ask him what book it was. At first he appeared unwilling to tell me, but at length, yielding to my persuasion, he told me that it was the Beyan of Mirza 'Ali Muhammad, the Bab. He consented to lend me the book for a while; and as I read it my assurance increased that this indeed was the Word of God."

      "What, then, think you of Beha?" I demanded, "for these would make him greater than the Bab."

      "I know not," he replied; "for me the Bab sufficeth, neither can I comprehend a station higher than His."

      Friday, 12th July, 3rd Dhi'l-ka'da.--I woke late, and found that Fathu'llah and Usta Akbar had both gone out, the latter leaving word that he would return soon. An old man named Mirza Ja'far, a dervish of the Dhahabi order, presently arrived. He told me that he was at present engaged in fasting and other religious exercises, and that he had an "Inner Light." Presently Usta Akbar returned with a shoemaker of his acquaintance, named Usta Ghulam Riza, who brought with him a book of verses composed in praise of Beha by the Babi poet Nabil. These, which in their eulogies were fulsome beyond belief, he proceeded to read, the pea-parcher encouraging him with occasional exclamations of "Ziba mi-khwanad!" ("He does read nicely!"). During a momentary pause the Dhahabi dervish ventured to make some remarks containing an allusion to his "Inner Light," whereupon the shoemaker turned savagely upon him, crying--

      "Who cares for your 'Inner Light,' owl and bat that you are? The Sun of Truth shines radiant in the mid-heaven of the Theophany, and do you dare obtrude your foolish fancies and


vain imaginings, or seek to distract us thereby from that which will truly advantage us?"

      At this arrogant and insolent speech anger overcame me, and I said to the shoemaker--

      "Silence! How dare you speak in so unseemly a manner to this old man, who, according to his belief, is seeking to draw near to God? After all, age is revered and courtesy of demeanour approved in every religion, and you do but ill commend to others the creed which you profess by conduct such as this.' Then the shoemaker hung his head and was silent.

      On my way home I called on Aka Muhammad Sadik, the young Babi merchant, at the caravansaray where he dwelt, and he, on learning that I had taken to smoking opium, entreated me to abandon it ere it was too late. He also begged me to lend him the manuscript of the Kitahi-Akdas ("Most Holy Book") which had been given to me at Shiraz, that he might transcribe it for himself, and this request, at least, I was ready to grant, though the other, as I began to fear, came too late.

      When I returned to my garden about sundown I found that Seyyid Huseyn of Jandak had been several times to see me, and had enquired most persistently as to my whereabouts; and that Sheykh Ibrahim, his friend 'Abdu'llah, and a dervish who had brought me a present of apples, were still patiently awaiting my arrival. I found them sitting by one of the streamlets near the summer-house, and half a glance sufficed to show me that that Sheykh, at least, was a good deal the worse for drink. As I approached he greeted me with a loud screech of welcome, and strove to stagger to his feet, but quickly subsided into the expectant arms of 'Abdu'llah, crooning out a couplet from the Masnavi, which, when he was in this state, he never tired of repeating--


      After informing me with some incoherence that he was charged with a message to me from one of the principal physicians of Kirman inviting me to lunch with him on the following day, he continued, chuckling to himself at the reminiscence--

      "Your friend the Seyyid of Azghand" (so he chose to call him, confounding this place with Jandak, which was in reality his birthplace) "has been here, but I, your most humble servant and sincere friend Sheykh Ibrahim (now, as you perceive, not quite himself), have put him to flight, together with another rascally Seyyid whom he brought with him."

      "I wish you would not insult my guests," said I. "Who was this other Seyyid?"

      "How do I know?" he shouted defiantly; "all I know is this, that just outside the garden-gate he was attacked by a singularly intelligent dog, and came in here shaking with fright. When he had somewhat recovered, he and the Azghandi Seyyid began talking about you. 'What like is this Firangi?' enquired he. 'Not a bit like other Firangis,' replied the Azghandi, 'inasmuch as, instead of going after old tiles and other rubbish such as they mostly love, he goes after religions, and consorts with Musulmans, Sheykhis and Balasaris, Sufis, and even Zoroastrians.' 'How about Babis?' asked the other. 'How should I know?' says the Azghandi. 'My brother when on a journey once occupied the opposite litter (kajave) to the chief of their gang,' continued he. Then I felt it was high time to put him to rights a bit, so I said, 'You ugly, wizened old fox (for, in the World of Similitudes I behold you as such, and so did that most sagacious dog who wished to tear you in pieces at the door, in which wish I hope he may be more successful when you depart), what do you know about Babis, and how dare you speak of one whose greatness and glory far transcend your mean comprehension in such disrespectful terms?' I saw him change colour, and soon after he left, without waiting for the tea which your excellent


servant Haji Safar was preparing for him. Haji Safar! Haji Safar! Where is Haji Safar?"

      Haji Safar approached. He was sulky and morose, offended, as it appeared, at my having remained so long away without telling him where I had gone, and grumbled accordingly. I bade him be silent, and Sheykh Ibrahim continued in a loud and aggressive tone--

      "I have heard from the postmaster how he surprised you in close confabulation with those foul and benighted Ezeli's at the house of the Sheykh of Kum. Mulla Hadi, a noted Ezeli, was there, and you were talking glibly enough when the postmaster entered, but, on seeing him, you at once changed the conversation."

      Presently, to my great relief, Sheykh Ibrahim and 'Abdu'llah rose to depart. As they were leaving, Haji Safar met us, and again complained of my want of consideration for him in leaving him ignorant of my whereabouts. Sheykh Ibrahim loudly applauded his solicitude, which I, on the other hand, was inclined to resent as impertinence. In consequence, we had words, and he threatened to leave me on the morrow and return to Teheran; but later on, when he brought my supper, he had repented of his decision, and offered an apology for his conduct, explaining it by saying that he had just had news that his mother was seriously ill, and that this had greatly disturbed his mind, and caused him to forget himself.

      Saturday, 13th July, 4th Dhi'l-ka'da.--According to my promise, I lunched to-day with the physician of whom I have already spoken. On my arrival I found Sheykh Ibrahim (already much disguised in liquor) and 'Abdu'llah, together with my host and his little boy, a pretty child of eight or nine years of age, who amused us by repeating 'Obeyd-i-Zakani's celebrated poem of "the Cat and the Mouse" (Mush-u-gurbe). In the evening I was the guest of my host's rival, a physician of the old Galenic school, with a splendid contempt for the new-fangled doctrines of pathology and treatment which are beginning to make way


amongst the medical men of Teheran. His son was a determined Babi, and confided to me his intention of running away from Kirman and setting out alone and on foot for Acre. Usta Akbar joined us presently, and after supper we sat late, talking, drinking tea, and smoking opium.

      Sunday, 14th July, 5th Dhi'l-ka'da.--Soon after we had drunk our morning tea I left, and paid a visit to one of my Ezeli friends, the Prince's secretary, who invited me to stay to lunch. In the intervals of conversation he amused himself by making the tea- glasses float in the little tank which occupied the middle of the room, pushing them from one side to the other, and objurgating them with shouts of "Gur-i-pidar-ash la'nat!" ("Curses on the grave of its father!"), when, receiving too violent a push, they filled with water and sank to the bottom. On returning to the garden about sunset I found that a number of visitors, including the postmaster and two of his men, the Prince- Telegraphist, the insufferable Haji Muhammad Khan, and Mulla Yusuf and Fathu'llah, the Ezelis, had been to see me, while the Sheykh of Kum and one of his friends were still awaiting my arrival. The Sheykh brought me a photograph of Prince Nasim'd-Dawla bearing an inscription in his own hand, together with a very kind answer to the letter which I had addressed to him some days previously concerning Mirza Yusuf of Tabriz. This letter, even after making a large deduction for Persian politeness, was so gratifying that I cannot forbear translating it--

      "My dear and respected Friend,

      "From the receipt of your letter, and the perusal of the pleasing contents of your script, I derived the utmost gratification. My delight at the handwriting and coherent diction of that honoured friend was chiefly owing to the fact that it is in Europe that you have thus perfectly acquired the Persian language, and have obtained so thorough a mastery of composition and style. May God, if it so please Him, bring this dear friend of mine safely back to his native country, and gladden him with the sight of his honourable father and mother and kindred! I regret having met that dear friend so seldom, nor has your sojourn in Kirman been of any length; yet such is the regard


which I have conceived for you during this short period that it will never quit my heart.

I shall ever supplicate God for your safety and advancement, and I shall be much pleased if now and then a letter from you should reach me from Firangistan. As for Mirza Yusuf, the request of that honoured friend is of course most gladly granted by me, and I have ordered that he shall receive money for the expenses of his journey....I send a portrait of myself as a keepsake for that dear friend."

      When I had read this letter, the Sheykh of Kum informed Mirza Yusuf of Tabriz that fifteen tumans (about 5 pounds) was the sum assigned to him by the Prince. Mirza Yusuf was, of course, overjoyed, and Seyyid Huseyn of Jandak, who had interested himself a good deal in the matter, was also very pleased, "but," said he to me, "don't suppose that these fifteen tumans were given to Mirza Yusuf; they were given to you, and the obligation lies on your neck, for so much money was not raised in Kirman save at the price of blood." This, of course, was a mere figure of speech, yet it somewhat damped my joy, and would have done so more had I known how worthless Mirza Yusuf would prove himself.

      Monday, 15th July, 6th Dhi'l-ka'da.--To-day I lunched with the Sheykh of Kum, where I met the young Ezeli artillery officer of whom I have aready spoken. After lunch the Prince's head- cook dropped in. He was an amusing fellow, and had seen something of the world, having been for some time a servant at the Persian Embassy in London, in the remembrance of which he gloried. It was he, I found, who had prepared the elaborate meal of which I had partaken with the Prince-Governor, for he had learned the art of European cookery while in London, though, as he told me, the ambassador, unless he had company, generally preferred to have Persian dishes set before him. I asked him whether the materials for these were generally forthcoming in London. "Oh yes," he replied, "I found them without much difficulty in the shops, but of course I made the


ambassador pay well for them. I would buy egg-plants (badinjan), for instance, at a few pence each, and when I returned I would tell him with a long face that things were terribly dear here, and that I had paid a shilling apiece for them. Yes, those were the times, and I wish I were back in London again."

      The cook presently departed, and the Sheykh began to speak more freely about Beha than he had hitherto done. He produced a copy of the lithographed Bombay edition of the Ikan, which he told me had been sent him by the Beha'is, and pointed out with great disapproval, a passage where the Shi'ites are called "that foul and erring sect." He also showed me some letters addressed to him and other Ezelis by Beha, and took great exception to several passages in them, especially to one where Beha said, "A child who has been blessed by beholding me is greater than all the people of the Beyan." Then he gave me an account of the attempt on the Shah's life by the Babis in 1852, which I will not repeat here, as I have already published it in the second volume of my Traveller's Narrative (pp. 323-4). The young artillery officer told me that for four years he had in vain sought to enter into relations with the Babis, and had only succeeded at last by acquainting himself with a part of their terminology, and so leading some of his acquaintances whom he believed to be adherents of the sect to make open confession of their doctrines in his presence.

      Tuesday, 16th July, 7th Dhi'l-ka'da.--This afternoon I paid a visit to Mirza Jawad's house. He himself was away, but I found his son and one or two other boys reading with their tutor, Mulla Ghulam Huseyn, who, on my arrival, at once dismissed the class. I made some further enquiries of him concerning the Sheykhi literature, and he gave me the following supplementary list of books:--By Sheykh Ahmad Ahsa'i', "The Commentary on the 'Visitation'" (Sharh-i-Ziyarat) and the Fava'id (text and commentary) in Arabic, and the "Aphorisms" (Jawami'u'l-kalam) in Persian; by Haji Seyyid Kazim of Resht, the Commentary


on 'Ali's sermon called the 'Khutba-i-Tutunjiyyaa,' and the Commentary on the Kasida"; by Haji Muhammad Karim Khan, the Faslu'l-khitab (on Tradition), the Irshadu'l-'Awamm ("Direction of the Common People"), the Tariku'n-najat ("Way of Salvation"), the Izhaku'l-Batil ("Crushing of Falsehood") and the Tir-i-Shihab ("Meteor-bolt"), both directed against the Babis, the Fitratu's-salima ("Sound disposition"), the Nusratu'd- Din ("Help of Religion"), and the Sultaniyya, an Apology for Islam, written in Persian.

      Wednesday, 17th July, 8th Dbi'l-ka'da.--This morning, before I was dressed, Seyyid Huscyn of Jandak came to see me. While he was with me, an old man named Mashhadi 'Ali, who kept a shop just outside the city-gate, came to lodge a complaint against Na'ib Hasan's brother, a muleteer whom I had some thoughts of engaging for the journey to Shiraz. He was accompanied by a farrash sent by the vazir (who, in the absence of the Prince-Governor, was administering justice), and his complaint was that he had been subjected to a violent and unprovoked attack on the part of Na'ib Hasan's brother, for which he demanded redress. He had been before the vazir, who said that, as the defendant was in some sort under my protection, he would prefer to leave his punishment to me; but that he hoped I would inflict the bastinado upon him, if the complainant could prove his case to my satisfaction. Now, I have no doubt that the vazir meant kindly, but I could not help wishing he would execute whatever he conceived to be justice according to his own lights, without making me a judge and arbiter over his subjects--a position which I was very far from coveting. The Seyyid, however, who saw only an unhoped-for opportunity of displaying his Solomonlike wisdom and delivering some epoch-making decision, was delighted, and bade Haji Safar bring the complainant, the defendant, the farrash, and any witnesses who might be forthcoming, before us. The defendant was luckily away in the country, and as the only "witness" (if such he could be called,


for it did not appear that he knew anything more about the case than that the defendant was his cousin, and therefore, in his view, to be exculpated) was Haji Safar, our little tribunal was of very modest dimensions. The "case," however, lasted some time, the complainant, the "witness," and the farrash all talking at once, and the first two swearing to everything and at everybody, so that even the loquacious Seyyid could hardly make himself heard. At last, however, silence was obtained, and the Seyyid, with great gravity, gave it as his decision that Na'ib Hasan's brother should give the defendant a new shirt as a token of regret for his alleged violence, on condition that the charge should be suffered to drop; and that the farrash should receive a present in money from me for his trouble. And as this seemed the easiest way out of the difficulty, it was unanimously agreed to. I hope the old man got his shirt, but I cannot be sure of it, as the farrash, having received his money, naturally lost all further interest in the case. I wished to give the old man the price of his shirt, but this the Seyyid would not permit, declaring that the farrash would certainly take it from him.

      I had lunch when the Seyyid left, and then began to write in Persian an account of my travels for the Prince-Governor, who had requested me to furnish him with a brief narrative of my journey. About two hours before sunset, however, the Seyyid came back, bringing with him two books, one a book of his own composition, called Viraniyye, and the other one of Haji Muhammad Karim Khan's refutations of Babi doctrine, from both of which he read to me aloud. I was laughing in my sleeve at the garbled account given by the Sheykhi leader of his rival's life and pretensions, when suddenly the Seyyid stopped reading, pricked up his ears, and began to gaze intently in the direction of the gate, whence arose mirthful peals of laughter, mingled with the notes of a flute.

      "What is this unseemly noise?" he enquired angrily.

      The question was answered a moment later by the appearance


of Mirza Yusuf of Tabriz, mounted on a white ass, fully caparisoned and laden with saddle-bags and other properties. He advanced towards the summer-house at a rapid amble, and, after displaying himself before us to his satisfaction, dismounted, seated himself before us with a conceited smirk, and awaited our congratulations. At this juncture, almost before the Seyyid had recovered power of speech, Sheykh Ibrahim joined us.

      "'Listen to the flute when it tells its tale!"' cried the Seyyid as soon as he could speak; "what does all this mean, Mirza Yusuf? Where did you get that donkey?"

      "I bought it," replied Mirza Yusuf, "with the money His Royal Highness the Prince (may God prolong his life!) bestowed

      "Bought it!" exclaimed the Seyyid, "why, you were a pauper and this money, only granted you at the urgent request of the Sahib (on whose neck lies the burden of obligation to the Prince) was intended to convey you to Tabriz. And the saddle, the saddle-bags, your smart kamar-band, and your other gear, how did you get them?" "I bought them too," answered Mirza Yusuf, pertly enough; how else should I come by them? You don't suppose I stole them?"

      "You bought them too!" repeated the Seyyid. "And may I ask how much money you have left out of the fifteen tumans the Prince gave you?"

      Mirza Yusuf pulled out three or four krans from his pocket. "So much," he replied.

      "And how are you going to get to Tabriz, may I ask, with three krans?" demanded the Seyyid.

      "On my donkey," retorted Mirza Yusuf with a laugh; "what else did I get it for?" No doubt he cherished hopes of extracting further sums of money from the charitable Babis of Yezd, according to the plan which he had exposed with such refreshing


simplicity to Sheykh lbrahim and myself. But he could hardly allude to this in the Seyyid's presence.

      "You impertinent little fool!" cried the Seyyid angrily; "is it for this that I have interested myself in your case--you who two days ago were so humble--'a poor orphan whom none would pity!'--you who would make me believe that you were so careful about your religious duties that Haji Safar's occasional neglect of his prayers pained your tender conscience, and who now come prancing into my presence on your precious ass deafening me with your unrighteous flute-playing?"

      "You don't understand these things, Master Seyyid," rejoined Mirza Yusuf; "you are not a man of the world, but a recluse, a man of the pen and the pulpit, a votary of the rosary and the reading-desk." And he made a grimace aside to Sheykh Ibrahim, whom he expected to enlist on his side against the common enemy.

      For once, however, the Sheykh was at one with the Seyyid. "It is related," said he, sententiously, "that once the ass complained to God, saying, 'Why hast Thou created me, seeing that Thou hast already created the Turk?' Answer came, 'Verily We have created the Turk in order that the excellence of thine understanding might be apparent.' Mirza Yusuf is a Turk, a Tabrizi. What would you have?"

      So Mirza Yusuf, somewhat abashed, withdrew; and thereupon, as I anticipated, the Sheykh and the Seyyid began to quarrel about the manner in which the former had seen fit to treat the friend of the latter on the previous Friday. The Seyyid for his part was politely sarcastic.

      "I said to my friend," quoth he, "'You have had the misfortune to displease the worthy Sheykh, no doubt inadvertently, by talking of one whom he affects to revere with unbecoming levity, and applying to him an appellation generally used of robber captains and the like. It would be best for you to propitiate him by presenting to him one of those inlaid and


enamelled pen-cases in the manufacture of which you are so skilful.' He promised to follow my advice, and you may expect to receive his gift shortly."

      "You are too considerate," rejoined the Sheykh, "but really I am unworthy of so great an honour." Then, suddenly losing control of his tongue, "And who, I should like to know, is this rascally brother of his who enjoyed the unmerited and unappreciated honour of travelling in the company of one whose greatness and holiness are as much beyond his comprehension as the splendour of the sun is beyond the comprehension of the bat or the mole? I will tell you who he is: he is now at Teheran, and makes his living by buffoonery of the lowest kind, and the Shah, who loves buffoonery, especially in a Seyyid, has given him the title of Kiwamu's Sadat. There is another younger brother, who is in high favour with certain of the nobles about the court, and whose influence has conduced in no small degree to the exaltation of his family."

      "And do you mean to say," enquired the Seyyid, aghast at the scandalous details of Persian Court life furnished by the Sheykh, 'that this is the state of things prevailing in Teheran, the abode of the Caliphate' (Daru'l-Khilafat), at the court of him whom we account the Defender of the Faith and Protector of Religion?"

      "Assuredly I do," replied the Sheykh, "and I can tell you more surprising things than this if you care to hear them, from which you will be better able to judge of the claims which Nasiru'd-Din Shah has to these titles." And thereupon he launched out into a variety of scandalous anecdotes, which it is to be hoped had no foundation in fact, and which in any case are best unrecorded. Neither could he be diverted from this topic till the Seyyid departed in consternation, an object at which, in all probability, he had from the first aimed.

      "And now, Sheykh," I said, when we were alone, "will you tell me more fully about the murder of the seven Ezelis who


were sent with Beha and his followers to Acre? You mentioned the fact a few days ago, and added that you had seen the assassins yourself during your stay there, and that they still received their prison allowance, though at large, and wore gyves on their ankles."

      "Yes," replied the Sheykh, who had drunk enough 'arak to render him communicative, and not enough to make him incoherent, "they were twelve in number who slew the Ezelis, and nine of them were still living when I was at Acre. This was the way of it. When Beha advanced his claim at Adrianople, and his half-brother, Subh-i-Ezel, refused to admit it, the Babis were divided into two factions, some going with the former, and some holding fast to the latter. So high did the feeling run that the matter ended in open strife, and two Ezelis and one Beha'i were killed. So the Turkish Government determined to separate the two, and arranged to banish Mirza Yahya (Subh-i- Ezel) and his followers to a town in Cyprus near the sea-shore, of which I cannot now remember the name, and Mirza Huseyn 'Ali (Beha'u'llah), with his family and adherents, to Acre. But, knowing the two factions to be on the worst possible terms, it occurred to them that it would be advantageous to themselves to keep a few of each in the stronghold of the other, so that, should any Persian or other traveller come to Acre or Cyprus with the intention of visiting Beha or Ezel, these adherents of the rival claimant to supreme power might co-operate with the governrnent in throwing obstacles in his way. So they sent three of Beha's followers (one of whom, Mushkin-Kalam, so-called from his extraordinary skill in calligraphy, is still [1892] alive) to Cyprus with Ezel, and seven Ezelis with Beha to Acre.

      "Now as far as concerned Ezel this plan worked well enough, for Mushkin-Kalam set up a little coffee-house at the port where travellers must needs arrive, and whenever he saw a Persian land, he would invite him in, give him tea or coffee and a pipe, and gradually worm out of him the business which had brought


him thither. And if his object were to see Subh-i-Ezel, off went Mushkin-Kalam to the authorities, and the pilgrim soon found himself packed out of the island. But at Acre it was different. The seven Ezelis--Aka Jan, called 'Kaj-Kulah' ('Skew-Cap') who had served with distinction in the Turkish artilley; Haji Seyyid Muhammad of Isfahan, one of the original companions of the Bab; Mirza Riza, nephew of the last, and a scion of the same royal race of the Safavis (for both were descended from Shah 'Abbas the Great); Mirza Haydar 'Ali of Ardistan, a wonderful fire-brand (atashi gharib), beside whom our mutual friend Mirza Muhammad Bakir of Bawanat was no more than a spark; Haji Seyyid Huseyn of Kashan; and two others, whose names I forget--lived all together in a house situated near the gate of the city. Well, one night, about a month after their arrival at Acre, the twelve Beha'is of whom I have spoken determined (but without having received instructions from Beha) to kill them, and so prevent them from doing any mischief. So they went at night, armed with swords and daggers, to the house where the Ezelis lodged, and knocked at the door. Aka Jan came down to open to them, and was stabbed before he could cry out or offer the least resistance. He was a young man, but very strong, so that once in the Russian war he had without aid picked up a cannon-ball and thrown it into the mouth of the gun. Then they entered the house and killed the other six.

      "When the Turks heard what had been done, they imprisoned Beha and all his family and followers in the caravansaray, but the twelve assassins came forward and surrendered themselves, saying, 'We killed them without the knowledge of our Master or any of our brethren; punish us, then, not them.' So they were imprisoned for a while; but afterwards, at the intercession of 'Abbas Effendi, Beha's eldest son, were suffered to be at large, on condition only of remaining in Acre, and wearing steel fetters on their ankles for a time."

      'It was a horrible deed," I remarked.


      "Nay," said thc Sheykh, "it was soon over for them; I have seen worse than that myself. Love cannot exist without strife, and, as has been said, 'affliction is the portion of affection.'"

      "What do you allude to," enquired I, "when you say that you have seen worse than this yourself?"

      "To an experience which befell me when I was a mere lad,"* answered the Sheykh, "and had but recently entered into this circle. I was in Sultan-abad then--my native place--and the Friends used to meet regularly at night-time, the men in one room and the women in an adjoining apartment, to read the Holy Books and hold spiritual converse. All went well for a while; our conventicles escaped the notice of thc authorities, and might have continued to do so, had it not been for a traitor, Mulla 'Ali, now pishnamaz of one of the mosques of Sultan-abad (as his father Mulla Huseyn was then) who, to insinuate himself amongst us and compass our destruction, feigned belief in our doctrines, and for five or six months continued to frequent our assemblies until he knew us all, and discovered where our books were concealed.

      "Now this wretch used to be a constant visitor at the house of one of the chief adherents of our faith, a theologian named Mulla Muhammad 'Ali, with whom he used to read the sacred books. One day he requested permission to borrow a copy of the Beyan, which was at once granted him. Having thus secured possession of the book, he forthwith proceeded to the house of Haji Aka Muhsin, the philosopher (hakami), and laid it before him. Aka Muhsin (whom a study of philosophy had rendered comparatively tolerant) invited Mulla Muhammad 'Ali to his house to discuss the matter with him, intending, should he not succeed in convincing him and inducing him to renounce his opinions, to do no more than expel him and his associates from the city. He further summoned another leading Babi, Mulla

* The date of this occurrence, so far as the Sheykh could recollect

      it, was about A.H. 1278 (A.D. 1861-2).


Ibrahim, the author of commentaries on the Kubra, Shamsiyya and other treatises on Logic, and at that time tutor to Prince Nasiru'd-Dawla, Governor of this city, whose father, Prince Nusratu'd-Dawla, was then Governor of Sultan-abad. He was the first to arrive, and while these two were engaged in discussion Haji Seyyid Muhammad Bakir, Mujtahid, suddenly entered the room with a knife concealed under his cloak, and, seeing Mulla Ibrahim, cried out, 'Do you hold converse or engage in controversy with this viper?' Even as he spoke he drew forth his dagger, and smote the Babi thrice--on the side of the head, the back of the neck, and the back of the chest--so that he fell dead to the ground. A moment later the other Babi, Mulla Muhammad 'Ali, ignorant of what had passed, entered the room, and was in turn stabbed by the Mujtahid, as was also a third, named Kerbela'i Rahmatu'llah, who followed him.

      "When news of these doings was brought to Prince Nusratu'd- Dawla, the Governor, he sent a message to the Mujtahids, saying 'Leave this matter alone, for I will see to it.' Then he sent and arrested all the Babis whose names were known to Mulla 'Ali the traitor, and furthermore caused a number of those whose opinions were suspected to pass before him, so that he might identify those whom he had seen at the Babi conventicles. Some twenty or thirty of us in all, including myself, were denounced, and forthwith cast into a loathsome underground dungeon where we lay, chained together in a row, hardly able to move and in dire suspense, for that night and the whole of the next day.

      "It was on the second night of our captivity that we heard a tramp of feet without; then the key grated in the lock, the door opened, and the executioner, accompanied by several of his assistants, bearing lanterns and the implements of his ghastly craft, entered. 'I am come to kill the Babis,' said he, as the farrashes set down the lanterns on the floor; and we, of course, supposed that one and all we were doomed to die.

      "I was seventh in the row. Passing the first and second,


the man of blood halted before Usta Mahmud, the pea-parcher (nokhud-biriz), of Kashan. They forced open his mouth, crammed a wet handkerchief rolled into a ball into his gullet, and drove it down his throat with a wooden peg and a mallet. For a minute or two, with gaping mouth, blackening face, and eyes starting from his head, he continued to struggle; then he fell back on the floor, and one of the executioner's assistants sat on his face till the last quiver died away.

      "They next came to Kerbela'i Haydar, the furrier (pustinduz), of Kabul, whom they slew in like manner; and we, seeing this (for he was fourth in the row, next to Usta Mahmud), made sure that all of us were to die. We were mistaken, however, for they passed by the fifth and sixth in the row, and myself (the seventh), and did not halt again till they came opposite to Mirza Hasan of Sultan-abad, the surgeon, who was next beyond me. And when they had made an end of him, and of Mirza Ahmad of Tafrish, who sat next beyond him, they gathered up their instruments of death, together with the lanterns, and, without saying another word, left us there in the darkness, the living and the dead chained together.

      "It was an awful night, as you may imagine, for us who lay beside our murdered companions, expecting to share their fate, or one yet worse, on the morrow. But amongst us was one poor hunchbacked cobbler, who, during the horrible scenes which had just been enacted, had not once changed colour, and he continued to console us, reciting poems suitable to our situation, chanting verses from the sacred books, and crying, 'A strange paradise is this! Yet, if we are to die to-morrow, it is at most that we shall eat so many pounds less of bread and meat ere our bodies return to the dust and our souls to the source whence they came.' He grew more excited as he talked, and at last, 'Let us kill one another now,' he said; 'I will show you how it may be done--I will press and press so gently that you shall hardly know it, on the veins of the neck, and life will ebb quietly


away. How much better to die thus, in all love and affection by the hands of our friends than as these did by the hands of the headsman! It was only with the greatest difficulty that we could restrain him from carrying out his purpose, and so continue anxiously awaiting the morning.

      "No more of us, however, were doomed to suffer death on this occasion, save one old woman, nearly seventy years of age the wife of Haji Aka Muhsin's paternal uncle. Her they sent to Teheran; and when they asked the Shah what should be done with her, he said, 'It is not good for a woman to be imprisoned,' wherefore they strangled her in the women's apartments of the palace, and cast her body into a well. The rest of us were released about a fortnight later, after the governor had extorted from us as much money as he could--in my case three hundred tumans."

      I was not a little moved by this horrible story, and regarded the Sheykh with increased interest and respect, for after all a man who has looked death in the face (and such a death!) for conscience sake is worthy of respect, though he be a drunkard and a libertine. I could not help thinking what a strange combination of good and evil he must be--such a combination as would be almost impossible save amongst the Persians--but I only said:--

      You have suffered much for your faith, it would seem."

      "Ay, he said, nor was that the only time, though it was the most terrible. I was imprisoned in the jail (anbar) at Teheran for three months and seventeen days, along with five other Babis Aka Jemal of Burujird, son of Mulla 'Ali, who was entitled the Proof of Islam' (Hujjatu'l-Islam); Mirza Abu'l-Fazl of Gulpayagan, the secretary of Manakji, the Zoroastrian agent at the Persian Court, and the compiler, under his directions and instructions, of the New History of this Most Great Theophany*;


Usta Ahangar, Mulla 'Ali Akbar of Shimran, and Haji Mulla Isma'il Dhabih. For the first three days and nights our captivity was very grievous, for, in the hopes of extorting money from us, or our friends, they subjected us by day to various torments, and by night put our necks in the 'collar' (tawk), and our feet in the stocks (khalil), but we determined to bear our sufferings rather than appeal for money to our friends, knowing that to produce money would be only to increase the zeal of our tormentors. And after thus enduring for three days we were rewarded by an abatement of our torments."

      Sheykh Ibrahim next related to me what had once passed between himself and the Shah's eldest son, the Zillu's-Sultan, and the account given to him by the prince of the death of the martyrs of Isfahan, which, as I have already published it in the notes to the second volume of my Traveller's Narrative (pp. 401-3), I will not here repeat, especially as I have already referred to this episode more than once in the course of these pages. I then again attempted to ascertain his views on the future life and on the nature of the divinity ascribed to Beha, but the 'arak which he had drunk was beginning to take effect, and he was growing gradually incoherent. Concerning the soul, he said that it was imperishable, and that when the body died it looked calmly and unconcernedly on at the preparations for interment. Pure and impure souls, he added, were like clean and dirty water--the pure poured back into the brook, the impure cast forth upon the ground to become mingled with it.

      As for Beha, the Sheykh said: "I have heard him say in my presence, 'I do not desire lordship over others; I desire all men to become even as I am.'" When I remarked that many of his followers declared him to be divine in quite another sense than those who, according to the Sufi doctrine, had escaped from self and become merged in God, the Sheykh simply remarked, "Then they are in error." He added that Beha had forbidden him from preaching, or making any attempts at proselytising, saying that


he had already suffered enough for his faith. And after this, the last rational remark to which he gave utterance, he relapsed into ribaldry and incoherence, and presently fell asleep.

      Thursday, 18th July, 9th Dhi'l-ka'da.--Towards evening I went into the town and called at the post-office, where the postmaster lent me a poem in praise of Beha, composed by one Na'im of Abade, a poor man of no education, whose power of verse-writing is regarded by his co-religionists as a divine gift, and little short of miraculous. His verses are partly in Persian, partly in Arabic, and of the latter, at any rate, it may truly be said that they are of the most miraculous character. Usta Akbar, the pea- parcher, was also there. He was, after his wont, very mysterious, and informed me that a relation of the postmaster's, who was a "Mulla," and who possessed some of Kurratu'l-'Ayn's poems, was anxious to see me, but that I must not mention this to the postmaster, as he might be displeased. I was somewhat surprised at what appeared to me so unnecessary a stipulation, but attributed it to Usta Akbar's love of mystery. It was only afterwards (for the pronouns in Persian do not distinguish gender) that I discovered that the "Mulla" in question was a lady, who regarded herself as a "manifestation" (mazhar), or re-incarnation, of Kurratu'l-'Ayn. It was accordingly arranged that I should meet this "Mulla" on the next day but one, at the house of one of the officials of the post-office. As I did not know where he lived, I enquired as to how I should find my way thither. Usta Akbar naturally selected the most cumbrous and mysterious method he could think of. I was to walk slowly past his shop at a certain hour on the Saturday in question, and he would tell his apprentice to be on the look-out for me, and, as soon as he saw me, to run out, pass me, and precede me at a distance of twenty or thirty yards to the rendezvous.

      This plan was duly carried out, and on the afternoon of the appointed day I found myself in a room in the house of Haydaru'llah Beg, the postman, where, besides my host, were


seated the "Manifestation of Kurratu'l-'Ayn" and a Babi dervish, the former engaged in smoking a kalyan, the latter an opium-pipe. I was filled with astonishment at seeing a lady in the room, and my astonishment was increased when I heard the others address her as "Mulla," and ascertained that she was the learned Babi who had expressed a wish to make my acquaintance. She greeted me very politely, bowing repeatedly as she exclaimed, "Musharraf! Muzayyan! Chasm-i-ma rawshan!" ("[You have made the house] honoured [and] adorned! Our eyes are brightened!") and then asking me how long it was since I had believed. I was somewhat embarrassed by this question, and tried to explain that I was an enquirer only, whereupon she began to give a long and rather garbled version of Christ's prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, which she concluded by bidding me not be like that disciple who denied his Master.

      By this time eight or nine other persons had joined us, including Sheykh Ibrahim and his friend 'Abdu'llah, in consequence of which the recitation of Kurratu'l-'Ayn's poems, which I had been so eager to hear, was postponed. Several Babi books, however, were shown to me, induding one containing the Kalimat-i-Maknuna, or "Hidden Words of Fatima,"* of which the surpassing eloquence was greatly praised by all present.

      "Will you not smoke a kalyan?" enquired Sheykh Ibrahim, turning suddenly to me. I signified assent, and he called for one to be brought. "A good one, mind, for the Sahib," he cried, as the servant left the room.

      In a minute or two the kalyan was brought, and as I took it, and, according to the customary etiquette, offered it in turn to all present before putting my lips to it, I fancied that I was watched with a certain attention and subdued amusement for which I could not account. The first whiff of smoke, however,


explained the cause of this. My experience with Cannabis Indica while I was a student at St Bartholomew's Hospital had not been altogether fruitless, since it had indelibly impressed on my memory the taste of this hateful drug, which now again, for the third time in my life, struck on my palate. "Oh," thought I to myself, "so this is the trick you thought to play on me, is it?" But I continued to smoke on slowly and deliberately till the Sheykh, unable any longer to control his curiosity, asked me how I found the kalyan.

      "Nice enough," I answered, "but I fear it somewhat, for unless I am much mistaken, you have put 'Master Seyyid'* into it."

      I do not think that during the whole time I was in Persia I ever scored so great a success as by this simple remark. That I --a mere European--should be able to recognise the taste of hashish was much, but that I should know it, so to speak, by its pet name, was indeed to prove myself well matured (pukhte) by travel and the society of persons of experience.

      "How ever did you know that?" enquired the Sheykh amidst the laughter and applause of the others.

      "Because I am a Firangi must I needs be an ass?" I demanded with a show of indignation.

      Sheykh Ibrahim was delighted, and proceeded to unfold to me many mysteries connected with the use of narcotics in Persia. He told me of an oil called Rawghan-i-Hashish ("Oil of Indian Hemp'), prepared from a plant named Tature (? Datura), of which half a nokhud would render a man insensible for twenty- four or thirty-six hours. This, he said, was often employed by



Persian adventurers in Turkey and Arabia (especially at Mosul and Mecca) to stupefy persons whom they wished to rob. Mixed with the food intended for the victim's consumption its flavour is imperceptible, and the protracted insensibility to which it gives rise allows the thief ample time to decamp. These revelations were, however, interrupted by the arrival of a murshid, or spiritual director, of the Shah-Ni'matu'llah order of dervishes, who asked me point-blank what my religion was, and was much annoyed when I answered him with the well-known tradition, "Ustur dhahabaka, wa dhahabaka, wa madhhabak" ("Conceal thy gold, thy destination, and thy creed").

      Monday, 22nd July, 13th Dhi'l-ka'da.--To-day another threatened collision between Seyyid Huseyn of Jandak and Sheykh Ibrahim was with difficulty averted. The former had dropped in during the afternoon to read me selected extracts from Haji Muhammad Karim Khan's attack on the Babi doctrines, when the latter most inopportunely joined us. The two glared at one another for a while, and then the Seyyid, who had a really remarkable faculty for making things disagreeable, began to ask the Sheykh whether he had been to Acre lately, and other similar questions. I interposed, and, to my great relief, succeeded in changing the conversation, and getting the Sheykh to talk about his travels. He told us about the Yezdis (the so-called "Devil-worshippers") of Mosul and its environs. "They extend for a distance of three stages west of Mosul," said he, "and strange folk they are-- uglier than you can imagine, with immense heads and long unkempt beards, and dressed in white or crimson clothes. They refuse to regard any sect or any person, even the Devil (whom they call 'Malak-i-Ta'us,' the 'Peacock Angel'), as bad; and if any unwary traveller curses him, or 'Omar, or Shimr, or anyone else whom most men are wont to curse, or if he spits on the ground, they consider it incumbent on themselves to kill him, though every man of them should suffer death in retaliation. They have a sort of temple whither they repair for their devotions,


and there, as I have heard (for none save themselves may enter) they from time to time spread a banquet, and then let loose a cock. If the cock eats the food, they consider their offering a accepted, but if not, as rejected."

      Tuesday, 23rd July, 14th Dhi'l-ka'da.--In the afternoon I rode into town and visited the Sheykh of Kum. He called to his little daughter (a child six or seven years of age), who was on the roof, to come down and speak to me, but she, with precocious modesty, hid her face with a corner of her shawl and refused.

      "Why wilt thou not come down and speak to the Firangi Sahib?" enquired her father.

      "Because I am shy," cried the little one from the roof, peeping out from behind her extemporised veil.

      Thou art not wont to be so shy before others," he continued; why then before this one?"

      "I do not reckon them as men," she replied, with a toss of her head, and ran away to hide, while we both burst out laughing, and I remarked that such a compliment from the lips of a child was indeed gratifying.

      The Sheykh talked rather freely about Babiism "The allegations made by the Musulmans about the Babis," said he, "though untrue, are in most cases founded to some extent upon fact. They say, for instance, that the Bab wrote Arabic which violated the rules of grammar. This is not true; but it is true that he made use of grammatical forms which, though theoretically possible, are not sanctioned by usage, such as 'Wahhad,' from Wahid; Farrad, from Farid, and the like. So, too, they accuse Kurratu'l-'Ayn of unchastity. That is a lie--she was the Essence of Purity; but after His Holiness the Point [i.e. the Bab] had declared the Law of Islam abrogated, and ere he had promulgated new ordinances, there ensued a period of transition which we call Fatrat ('the Interval'), during which all things were lawful. So long as this continued she may very possibly have consorted;


for example, with Mulla Muhammad 'Ali of Barfurush as though he had been her husband, though afterwards, when the New Law was revealed, she and all the others were most rigorous in its observance."

      At this point we were joined by a certain Mulla whom I knew to be the chief Ezeli in Kirman, and to have an enormous collection of Babi books. I was extremely anxious to draw him into conversation on this topic, when, to my great chagrin, the postmaster (who was, as will be remembered, a determined Beha'i) was announced. He looked at us suspiciously, evidently guessing the subject which occupied our thoughts, and forthwith there fell upon us a sense of constraint which soon brought about the dispersion of the assembly.

      On leaving the Sheykh's house I was making for the telegraph- office to condole with the Prince-Telegraphist on the death of his eldest son, the poor lad whom I had last seen smoking opium at the house of my friend, the secretary of the governor, when I was met by Mirza 'Ali Naki Khan, the brother of the chief of the Farrashes, and by him detained in conversation. While we were talking, a murmur suddenly arose that the Prince-Governor was coming, and everyone began to bow down, with arms folded across their breasts, in humble obeisance. When the Prince saw me he called me to him, brought me with him into his garden, and bade his servants bring tea, kalyans and cigarettes. He did not talk much, being busy reading a packet of letters which had just been placed in his hands, and examining a fine gold repeater which had arrived by the same post, so, when I had sat for a short time, I asked permission to retire--which was accorded me. I then proceeded to the telegraph-office, where I found the Prince-Telegraphist looking very sad and dejected, and surrounded by five or six Babis of note, who, like myself, had come to offer condolence.

      On returning to my garden about two hours after sunset, I found the pea-parcher and a rather notable dervish of the


Shah-Ni'matu'llahi order, named Shahrukh, awaiting me. They had supper with me, and stayed all night. The dervish smoked a great quantity of opium and recited a vast amount of mystical poetry, of which his memory appeared to contain an inexhaustible store. The pea-parcher retired for a while, leaving us alone, and presently returned in a state of boastful intoxication. "I am am he cried, again and again; "I am Moses! I am Jesus! I am Muhammad! What say you to that?" I was so disgusted that at last I could not refrain from answering, "Since you ask my opinion, I should say that you have had too much to drink, and are now talking blasphemous nonsense."

      Wednesday, 24th July, 15th Dhi'l-ka'da.--My guests departed early, soon after sunrise, Usta Akbar awakening me to communicate the message which had brought him to the garden on the previous evening. "There is a poor opium-kneader (tiryak- mal) of my acquaintance," said he, "one of 'the Friends,' who is most anxious to entertain you at his house, and has so importuned me to bring you, that for the sake of peace I had to promise that I would do so. He wanted you to sup with him and stay the night at his house, but, having regard to its meanness, I told him that this would not be convenient to you, so it has been arranged that we shall lunch there to-morrow and spend the day. Come, therefore, in two hours' time to the caravansaray of Ganj 'Ali Khan, and there one shall meet you who will conduct you to the opium-kneader's house."

      I fell asleep again when Usta Akbar had gone, and did not awake for several hours. Just as I was going out with 'Abdu'l- Huseyn I met the opium-kneader, who, poor man, had already come once to the garden that morning to guide me to his house whither we at once proceeded. Haydaru'llah Beg, and Nasru'llah Beg of the post-office, a dervish named Habibu'llah, and the pea-parcher, were the other guests, and later we were joined by the Prince-Telegraphist's secretary and Sheykh Ibrahim, who though uninvited, had by some occult means discovered that


an entertainment was in progress, which I suppose he considered would not be complete without his presence. Soon after my arrival the dervish-boy, whose sweet singing had so delighted me one day in the caravansaray of Ganj 'Ali Khan, entered the room with a kalyan, which he presented to me with the Babi salutation "Allahu Abha." All those present, indeed, were Babis; and after lunch, as we sat sipping our tea and taking an occasional whiff of opium, quantities of Babi poems by Kurratu'l- 'Ayn, Suleyman Khan, Nabil, Rawha (a woman of Abade), and others, were produced and handed round or recited, together with the Bab's Seven Proofs (Dala'il-i-Sab'a), Beha's Lawh-i-Nasir, and other tracts and epistles. Before my departure I succceded in arranging with the Prince-Telegraphist's secretary that he. should copy out for me a selection of these treasures, which the owners kindly consented to place at his disposal.

      Thursday, 25th July, 16th Dhi'l-ka'da.--In the afternoon I went into the city by the Mosque Gate, through which crowds of people were pouring forth to visit the cemetery, the "Eve of Friday" (Shab-i-Jum'a) being the favourite time for the performance of this pious act. The Babi dervish-boy was amongst the crowd, and, dervish-fashion, placed a sprig of mint in my hand as he passed, but without asking or waiting for the small sum of money which is generally expected in return for this compliment. In the square of the caravansaray of Ganj 'Ali Khan, I saw Usta Akbar standing, and approached him to speak with him. While we were conversing, there came up to me a certain dervish, who had once visited me in my garden, and craved an alms "for the sake of Beha." Now in general I made it a rule to respond, as far as possible, to such calls; but against this particular dervish I cherished some resentment, for this reason. On the day when he visited me in the garden, Sheykh Ibrahim chanced to be with me; and him, either from previous knowledge, or from some chance remark which he let drop, the dervish recognised as a Babi. So when he had sat with us for a while,


drunk several cups of tea, and pocketed a kran and half a stick of opium, he went out, found Seyyid Huseyn of Jandak performing his ablutions at the stream by the gate, and told him that I was certainly a Babi, or in a fair way to become one, since I was continually in the society of notorious Babis. All this, of course, was repeated to me; and as I had treated this not very agreeable or intelligent dervish thus courteously rather on Sa'di's principle that "the dog's mouth is best stopped with a morsel," I was naturally incensed at his indiscretion. So when he asked me "for the sake of Beha" to give him money, I bade him begone with scant ceremony; and when he continued to importune me, declaring that he had no bread for that night's supper, I turned angrily upon him, saying, "No opium, I suppose you mean!"

      "Ay," said he, "no opium: neither bread nor opium. For the sake of Beha give me some money!"

      "You ingrate (namak-haram)!" I exclaimed, exasperated at his pertinacity and indiscreetness (for already a little crowd was gathering round us to listen to our dialogue, and to stare at "the Firangi Babi," from whom alms were demanded "for the sake of Beha"), "how dare you come to me again for money after what you have done?"

      "I am no ingrate," he answered, "and whoever says so wrongs me. What have I done that you should be thus angry with me?"

      "What have you done?" I retored; "when you came to the garden, did I not give you money and tea and opium, and speak you fair? And did you not, with the money and the opium in your pocket, and the taste of the tea in your mouth, go out and make mischief against me, spreading idle and damaging reports?"

      Then at last he slunk away with some appearance of shame.

      Friday, 26th July, 17th Dhi'l-ka'da.--During the greater part of the day I was occupied in writing for the Prince-Governor the brief account of my journey which he had requested me to compose for him. Towards evening, Sheykh Ibrahim, 'Abdu'llah, and the self-sufficient and conceited cobbler, whose rudeness to the old


Dhahabi dervish had so displeased me, arrived simultaneously. 'Abdu'llah soon went off, thinking that he might be wanted by his master, and I was left with the other two. Both talked, and Sheykh lbrahim drank a great deal; but as regards the talking, the cobbler had at first the best of it, and presently he demanded my copy of the Ikan, and said he would read aloud to us--an accomplishment on which he greatly prided himself.

      Sheykh Ibrahim bore with this reading, or rather chanting, as long as he could, gulping down his rage and his 'arak together, till finally one or both of these proved too much for him, and he suddenly turned ferociously on the unsuspecting cobbler.

      "Beast and idiot!" he cried, "cannot you be silent when there are men present, and let them talk without interrupting them with your abominable gabbling? Your silly head is so turned by Usta Akbar and others, who listen to your reading, and applaud it with cries of 'Ziba mi-khwanad!' ('How nicely he reads!') that you are inflated with conceit, and do not see that this Firangi here, who knows ten times as much Arabic as you do, is laughing at you under his lip, because in every word of Arabic which you read you violate a rule of grammar. Silence then, beast, and be no more intoxicated with Usta Akbar's 'Ziba mi-khwanad!'"

      The poor cobbler was utterly taken aback by this unexpected sally. "Forgive me, O Sheykh!" he began; "I am only a poor ignorant man---"

      "Man!" cried the Sheykh, waxing more and more wroth; "I spit on the pates of the father and mother of the dog-mamma!* Man, forsooth! You are like those maggots (kharatin) which thrust forth their heads from rotten fruit and wave them in the air under the impression that they are men. I count you not as belonging to the world of humanity!"

* A slightly refined translation of the Persian "Ridam bi-kelle-i-

      pidar u madar-i-nene sag," a form of abuse which was a great favourite

      with the Sheykh, who was not given to mincing words.


      "O Sheykh!" exclaimed the poor cobbler, "Whatever you may please to say is right. I have eaten dirt! I have committed a fault. I am the least of your servants!"

      But I will not accept you as my servant," shouted the Sheykh; you are not in my world at all. I take no cognisance of your existence." And so he stormed on, till the wretched cobbler, now reduced to tears, grovelled at his feet, begging for enlightenment and instruction, and saying, "You are a great and a wise man; your knowledge is far beyond ours; you have travelled and seen the world, and looked on the Blessed Beauty (Jemal-i-Mubarak, i.e. Beha'u'llah, the Babi hierarch at Acre). Tell me what to think, and what to believe, and what to do and I will accept it." Finally the Sheykh was appeased, and they embraced and made up their quarrel.

      Saturday, 27th July, 18th Dhi'l-ka'da.--This day was chiefly notable to me because, for the first time for several weeks, I succeeded in resisting the growing craving for opium which possessed me. This had now begun to cause me some anxiety for I felt that the experiment had gone quite far enough. "It is all very well," I thought to myself, "to enter into the world of the opium-smoker--and the experience was needed to complete my view of dervish life--but if I do not take care I shall become a dervish in reality, living from hand to mouth, engrossed with smoking opium and 'weaving metaphysic' ('irfan-bafi), and content if I can but postpone the business or trouble of to-day till to-morrow--a to-morrow which never comes. It is high time I took measures to put an end to this state of things." The plan which I devised for putting an end to my servitude was based upon the observation that it is not so much the smoking of opium as the regular smoking of opium at a fixed time, that is dangerous. I believe that, speaking generally, anyone may indulge in an occasional pipe with impunity; but I had accustomed myself to smoke opium regularly after supper, and so soon as this time came round, an indescribable craving came upon me,


which only the drug could assuage. It therefore seemed to me that the first step towards emancipation must be to alter, and gradually to increase, the interval, which, so far as I remember, I effected somewhat in the following way:--One day, instead of waiting till after supper, I smoked a small amount of the drug at the time of afternoon tea. Next day I waited till supper-time, thus extending the interval of abstinence from twenty-four to thirty hours. On the third day I sat up very late and smoked a very little opium just before retiring to rest. And on the fourth day I went to bed in reasonable time, and succeeded in falling asleep before the craving came upon me, not returning to the drug till the afternoon of the fifth day, thus farther extending the interval from thirty to forty hours. Thus gradually did I free myself from a thraldom which, as I believe, can hardly be broken in any other way.

      Sunday, 28th July, 19th Dhi'l-ka'da.--To-day I lunched with Usta Akbar to meet the postmaster of Kirman; the chief of the telegraph at Rafsinjan, who was on a visit to Kirman; and several other Babis of the Beha'i faction. On my entrance they greeted me with an outburst of raillery, induced, as it appeared, by their belief that I was disposed to prefer the claims of Subh-i-Ezel to those of Beha, and that I had been influenced in this by the Sheykh of Kum and his friends. I was at first utterly taken aback and somewhat alarmed at their vehemence, but anger at the unjust and intolerant attitude towards the Ezelis which they took up presently came to my aid, and I reminded them that such violence and unfairness, so far from proving their case, could only make it appear the weaker. "From the statement of Sheykh Ibrahim, I concluded, "who is one of your own party, it appears that your friends at Acre, who complain so much of the bigotry, intolerance, and ferocious antagonism of the Muhammadans, and who are always talking about 'consorting with men of every faith with spirituality and fragrance,' could find no better argument than the dagger of the assassin wherewith to convince the


unfortunate Ezelis who were their companions in exile, and I assure you that this fact has done more to incline me from Beha to Ezel than anything which the Sheykh of Kum or his friends have said to me. It would be more to the point if, instead of talking in this violent and unreasonable manner, you would produce the Beyan (of which, ever since I came to Kirman, and indeed, to Persia, I have been vainly endeavouring to obtain a copy), and show me what the Bab has said about his successor." The postmaster and Usta Akbar eventually admitted that I was right, and promised to try to obtain for me a copy of the Beyan. After this, amicable relations were restored, and the atmosphere seemed clearer for the past storm.

      On returning to the garden I found Seyyid Huseyn and one Mirza Ghulam Huseyn awaiting my arrival. They stayed for some time, and, as usual, talked about religion. With Mirza Ghulam Huseyn I was much pleased, though I could not satisfy myself as to his real opinions. He told me that he had read the gospels attentively, and was convinced of their genuineness by the deep effect which the words of Christ recorded in them had produced on his heart. He added that he could interpret many of the prophecies contained in the Book of Revelation as applying to Muhammad, and would do so for my benefit if I would Visit him in the Karavansaray-i-Gulshan, where he lodged.

      Monday, 29th July, 20th Dhi'l-Ka'da.--This evening there was another stormy scene in the summer-house, of which, as usual Sheykh Ibrahim was the cause. He and the parcher of peas came to visit me about sundown, bringing with them a poor scrivener named Mirza Ahmad, who had made for himself copies of certain writings of the Babis, with which, as being a dangerous possession, he was, I was informed, willing to part for a small consideration. Now to guard himself from suspicion, in case the book should fall into the hands of an enemy, he had placed at the end of the Kitab-i-Akdas, whlch stood first in the volume, a colophon,


wherein he had described it as "the book of the accursed, misguided, misleading sect of the Babis." This colophon, which had not been seen by either of his companions, caught my eye as I turned over the pages; but I made no remark, and, fearing trouble if it should meet other eyes, quickly closed the book and laid it aside. Shortly afterwards, Usta Akbar, wishing to speak with me privately, drew me apart. When we returned, it was to find that the explosion which I dreaded had taken place, and that Sheykh Ibrahim, having taken up the book and seen the objectionable words, was pouring forth the vials of his wrath on the poor scrivener, who, overcome with shame and terror, was shaking like an aspen, and on the verge of tears. It was only with the greatest difficulty that I could stem the torrent of threatening and abusive language which the Sheykh continued to pour forth, and lead Mirza Ahmad out into the garden, where he sat down by the stream and began to weep. Finally, I succeeded in comforting him a little with fair words and a larger sum of money than he had expected, but the evening was not a harmonious one, and the acquisition of a new manuscript was the only feature in it which caused me any satisfaction.

      Wednesday, 31st July, 22nd Dhi'l-Ka'da.--In the morning Seyyid Huseyn came, bringing with him a kindly and courteous old divine of the Sheykhi sect, named Mulla Muhammad of Jupar. When lunch-time came I invited them to eat with me, "although," I added with a smile, "I am in your eyes but an unclean infidel." "Now God forbid that it should be so!" exclaimed the old mulla; "in His Name (exalted is He!) will we partake of your food." So Haji Safar set before them delicate and strange meats, whereof they ate with great contentment, and presently departed, well pleased with their entertainment. Thereupon I again set to work on the account of my journey which I was writing for the Prince-Governor, intending later to go into the city; but word came from Mirza Jawad's son that he would visit me with


his tutor, and about three hours before sunset they arrived. I was greatly displeased at the conduct of the aforesaid tutor, Mulla Ghulam Huseyn, on this occasion; for soon after his arrival there was placed in my hands a letter from one of my Babi friends at Yezd, which he, with gross impertinence, requested me to show him. This I naturally declined to do, but he, unabashed, picked up the envelope from the ground where it lay, and began to criticise the superscription, which ran as follows:--

Which being interpreted is--

      "'Discerning philosopher,' 'excellent of resort,'" read Mulla Ghulam Huseyn. "What right have you, a Firangi, to such titles as these? Either be this thing or that--a Firangi or a Persian."

      An end was put to this unpleasant conversation by the return of Seyyid Huseyn and the old mulla of Jupar, who were soon followed by Usta Akbar and several other persons, mostly Babis. In this ill-assorted and incongruous assembly, which thteatened momentarily to terminate in an explosion, I was oppressed as by a thunderstorm, and I was almost thankful when the rudeness of Usta Akbat finally put the Sheykhis to rout, leaving the Babis in possession of the field. These also departed a little later, leaving me at last in peace. They wished me to go with them on the morrow or the following day to Mahan, to visit the shrine of the great Sufi saint, Shah Ni'matu'llah. I told them that I had already ptomised to go with some of my Zoroastrian friends; whereupon they urged me to break with these "gahr-ha-yi najis" ("unclean pagans"), as they called them, and would hardly take


"No" for an answer. But at last, when, after listening in silence to their efforts to persuade me, I replied, "It is no use talking more about it; I have given my word to the Zoroastrians, and will not go back on it, for my word is one"--they turned away impatiently, exclaiming, "Go with the guebres, and God pardon thy father!"

      Next day I had a telegram from Shiraz enquiring when I proposed to return thither, and urging me to leave Kirman without further delay. This caused me some annoyance, as I had no wish to leave it yet, and hoped to obtain permission from Cambridge to postpone my return to England till January, so that I might go by Bandar-i-'Abbas and the Persian Gulf to Baghdad, and thence to Damascus and Acre, which would be impossible till the cooler weather came. I therefore had recourse to the opium-pipe, and deferred answering the message till the following day, when I visited the telegraph-office and despatched an answer to the effect that I had no intention of quitting Kirman at present. I found my friend the Prince-Telegraphist still much cast down at the loss of his eldest son. His mind was evidently running much on the fate of the soul after its separation from the body, and he asked me repeatedly, "What think you of the matter? what have you understood?" He also talked more openly than he had hitherto done about the Babi religion, saying that as between the rival claimants to the pontificate, Beha and Ezel, he found it hard to decide, but that as to the divine mission of Mirza 'Ali Muhammad, the Bab, there could, he thought, be no doubt. Then his secretary, who was an ardent believer in Beha, read extracts from the epistles and treatises which he was copying for me, and asked if these were like the words of a mere man; but the poor prince only shook his head, sorrowfully, saying, "It is a hard matter; God knows best!"

      Next day a term was put to my uncertainty (though not in the way I wished) by the arrival of a telegram from England, which had been translated into Persian and sent on from Shiraz,


bidding me be in Cambridge by the beginning of October. There was no help for it then; I must leave Kirman, and that without much delay, and, abandoning all idea of Baghdad, Acre, and a camel-ride across the Syrian Desert, post to Teheran, and return home by the Caspian Sea and Russia. It was a bitter disappointment at the time, and on the top of it came, as is so often the case, another, which, though small in comparison, gave me that sense of things going generally wrong which almost everyone must at some time have experienced. My Zoroastrian friend, who was to have taken me to Mahan, sent word that a misfortune had befallen him (the death of his brother in Teheran, as I afterwards discovered), which rendered this impossible; and my Babi friends, who had previously so greatly importuned me to accompany them, had now made other arrangements, so that it seemed likely that I should have to leave Kirman without visiting the tomb of the celebrated Saint Shah Ni'matu'llah.

      I had now no excuse for prolonging my stay at Kirman; yet still I could not summon up resolution to leave it. It seemed as though my whole mental horizon had been altered by the atmosphere of mysticism and opium smoke which surrounded me. I had almost ceased to think in English, and nothing seemed so good in my eyes as to continue the dreamy speculative existence which I was leading, with opium for my solace and dervishes for my friends. Peremptory telegrams came from Shiraz, sometimes two or three together, but I heeded them not, and banished all thought of them with these two potent antidotes to action of which I have spoken above. Their influence must have been at its height at this time, for once or twice I neglected for a day or two even to write my diary--a daily task which I had hitherto allowed nothing to keep me from accomplishing. The record of the incidents which marked the day preceding the first break of this sort shows the elements of external disturbance and internal quietism in full conflict--on the one hand, a tripartite telegram from the English Superintendent of the Telegraph at Shiraz,


the chief of the Persian office at the same place (the same whom I had known at Yezd, whence he had recently been transferred), and my former host, the Nawwab, strongly urging me to start at once; on the other, two wildly mystical poems given to me by a dervish murshid, or spiritual director, whom I had left in a state of unconsciousness produced by some narcotic compound which I had refused to taste, and of which he had offered to prove the innocuousness by eating it.

      Some decision, however, was imperatively called for, and could not much longer be deferred; for, amongst other things, my money had nearly come to an end, and I could only obtain a fresh supply in Teheran, Isfahan, or Bushire. In this strait my friends came to my assistance with a delicacy and a generosity which I shall not readily forget. I was making arrangements for borrowing, at 5 per cent. interest, a sufficient sum to take me at least as far as Isfahan or Teheran, when, almost simultaneously, by a Babi and a Zoroastrian merchant, I was offered any advance that I might need. I was at first unwilling to borrow from either of them, remembering the Arabic proverb, "el-kardu mikrad- u'l mawaddat" ("Borrowing is the scissors of friendship"), but they would take no denial, especially the Babi, who said that he should feel deeply hurt if I refused to accept his offer. Finally, I consented to avail myself of his kindness, and borrowed from him a sum of sixty or seventy tumans (about 20 pounds), for which he declined to accept any interest, and could only be prevailed upon with difficulty to take a receipt. This sum I duly remitted to his agent at Teheran on my arrival there.

      And now Haji Safar, who, in spite of occasional fits of perversity and sulkiness, had always shown himself a faithful and loyal servant, came to the rescue. He had been much troubled (and not without reason) at the state of indecision and inactivity into which I had lapsed, which state he ascribed to some spell cast over me by the Babis, to whom he had even addressed


threats and remonstrances. So one night, while waiting on me at supper, he unfolded to me a plan which he had formed, as follows:

      "Sahib," he began, "you cannot stay on here for ever, and you know that you are wanted in England at the beginning of the month of Safar next (7th October 1888). Now I have been thinking how you can stay at Kirman as long as possible, see as much new country as possible, and still be back in your own country in time. If you return to Shiraz and go thence to Bushire, and there take ship, you will not arrive in time, even if we could start at once, which we cannot do, as it will not be easy to find mules for the journey. It is much better, then, that we should go to Teheran, and that you should return thence through Russia. The advantages of this plan ar that you can have a week or ten days more here; visit your friends at Rafsinjan on the way; see your friends at Yezd, Kashan, Kum, and Teheran again; be in the capital for the Muharram passion- plays, which you will nowhere see so well performed; and traverse Mazandaran or Gilan, both of which, as I can assure you, are very remarkable countries, which you ought to see before leaving Persia. I will undertake to sell your horse for not less than you gave for it, and before it is sold I will arrange for you to visit Mahan, as you wished to do. You can write to Shiraz for your things to be sent to meet you at Teheran, where also you will be able to buy any more books of which you have need. What do you think of my plan? Have I not spoken well?"

      That he had spoken well there was no doubt; his plan was the best that remained possible, and he had baited it cunningly. With a sudden sense of shame at my own lethargy, and gratitude to Haji Safar for his wise admonition, I determined once and for all to shake off this fatal quietism which had been so long growing on me, and at once to take the steps necessary for the execution of his plan.


      Two days later, on 9th August, everything was in proper train. The expedition to Mahan had presented some difficulties, but they were overcome by Haji Safar's energy. He came to me about sundown on that day with a smile of triumph and satisfaction. "Sahib," said he, "it is all arranged: you will go to Mahan and perform your visitation to the shrine, and that without bearing the burden of obligation to anyone. I have found an old man, an uncle of the gardener's, and a regular 'desert-walker' (biyaban-gasht), who will bear you company and show you the way; for I must remain here to complete our preparations for the journey. I will bring you your supper directly, and then you had better go to sleep for a while; for if you start four hours after sunset, you will still be at Mahan by daybreak. You will remain there all to-morrow, travel back in the same way to-morrow night, and be here at daybreak on Sunday morning."

      The silent march to Mahan (for the old guide stalked on before me with swift untiring gait, only looking round now and again to see that I was following him) was pleasant in spite of its monotony. Never had my horse carried me so well as on this our last journey together. Once again my spirit was refreshed and rejoiced by the soft night air and the shimmer of the moonlight on the sand-hills, until the sky grew pale with the dawn, and the trees and buildings of Mahan stood clear before us.

      We went straight to the shrine of the great Saint Shah Ni'matu'llah, and were admitted without difficulty in company with other pilgrims. One of the dervishes attached to the shrine read the ziyarat, or form of visitation. Then he said to me, as the other pilgrims were kissing the tombstone, "Sahib, Shah Ni'matu'llah was a great man." I acquiesced. "In the world of the gnostics there is no difference of sects," he continued. Again I agreed. "Then," said he, "seeing that this is so, it were not amiss for you to kiss his tombstone." I did as he desired, and then, having visited the various buildings connected with


the shrine, returned with the dervishes to their kahve-khane (coffee-house or guest-chamber); where I had tea and slept till noon.

      In the afternoon the dervishes took me to see some of the gardens which surround Mahan. In one of these, called the Gardan-i-Shutur ("Camel's Neck"), a charming spot, I met my friend Serush, the Zoroastrian, who was still mourning the death of his brother, and had come to Mahan for a day's solitude and quiet before starting for Teheran to wind up his affairs.

      About two hours before sunset, after another cup of tea, I bade farewell to the kindly dervishes, mounted my horse, and started homewards with my guide, well pleased with Mahan and its people, and disposed to regard as a gratuitous slander that cynical verse:--

To our left lay the village of Langar, the headquarters of the Sheykhis, where live the sons of the Bab's great rival and antagonist, the late Haji Muhammad Karim Khan of Kirman I asked my guide whether we could not visit it on our way. To this he consented, and in a short while we found ourselves in the quiet lane where dwell the "Aka-zadas" ("Sons of the Master"). Here we met a Sheykhi divine, whom my guide accosted, telling him that I wished to pay my respects to the Aka-zadas; and before I had time to consider whether I should do well to thrust myself upon the leaders of a sect for which I had but little kindliness, I found myself in the courtyard of their house. At the farther end of this courtyard mats and carpets were spread, and on these sat in rows some dozen sourlooking, heavy-turbaned Sheykhi students, to whom two of Karim Khan s sons, seated in the place of honour, were


expounding the text of a work of their father's called the Faslu'l- Khitab. Ashamed to retreat, I advanced and sat down on my heels like the others in the lowest place. Of those nearest to me, some glared indignantly at me and others edged away, but no other notice was taken of my arrival till the lecture was over, when one of the Aka-zadas addressed me, remarking that he had heard I was "going after religions" ('akib-i-makhhab mi-gardid). I replied that he had been correctly informed. -

      "Well," said he, "and have you found a religion better than that in which you were brought up?"

      "No," I replied.

      "What of Islam?" continued he.

      "It is a good religion," I answered.

      "Which is best," said he: "the Law of Islam or your Law?"

      "Why do you ask me this question?" I replied; "my apparel answers for me. If I thought Islam the better, I should not come here clad in this raiment, but rather in turban and 'aba."

      Thereat the younger students laughed, and the Aka-zadas, remarking that it was the time for the evening prayer, went off to the mosque, leaving a cousin of theirs, who wore the dress of a layman, to entertain me till their return. He gave me tea, and would have had me stay to supper, so as to converse with the Aka-zadas, but I excused myself, and soon after their return from the mosque took my departure. One of Karim Khan's sons accompanied me to the gate. I thanked him for his hospitality. .

      "Our Prophet hath bidden us 'honour the guest,'" said he.

      "'Even though he be an infidel,'" I replied, completing the quotation; whereat we parted with laughter.

      Another silent ride through the moonlit desert, and, as the sun rose above the horizon, I alighted for the last time from my honest old horse at the gate of my garden in Kirman. The arrangements for his sale had been already concluded, and that very day the servant of his new master brought me a cheque for


eighteen tumans (about 6 pounds, two tumans more than I had paid for him), and led him away. And as I gave him a final caress (for I had come to love the beast after a fashion), I felt that now indeed I had finally broken with the pleasant Persian life of the last three months.
Home ][ Sacred Writings ][ Bulletin board
Primary sources ][ Secondary sources ][ Resources
Links ][ Personal pages ][ Other sites

Google distinguishes accents, e.g. "Babi" and "Bábí"
return different results. See more search tips.