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to recall his armies from Persia.--Aga Mahomed is said to have been fully aware of his danger, and of the best means of averting it. In public, he talked in a lofty manner of his impatience to bring the Russians to an engagement, and of cutting them in pieces with the conquering sabres of the faithful. In private, he expressed to his minister a very different intention. 'Can a man of your wisdom, he said, believe I will ever run my head against their walls of steel, or expose my irregular army to be destroyed by their cannon, and disciplined troops? I know better. Their shot shall never teach me, but they shall possess no country beyond its range. They shall not know sleep; and let them march where they choose I will surround them with a desert!
But the Russians were now withdrawn, and all the vials of Persian wrath were about to be poured on Georgia, a second time abandoned; when, having, for some trifling fault, threatened two of his servants with death on the following day, this strange king had the temerity to retain them, meanwhile, in their usual attendance on his person. They were well aware, however, that a threat of this sort never fell from him in vain, and took good care that the morrow, which was to end their lives, never dawned on Aga Mahomed.
The history of this prince, of which we have been only able to. give the most prominent circumstances, is, perhaps, the most entertaining and instructive part of the present work. The friendship of Hajee Ibrahim, during many years his confidential minister, has enabled Sir J. Malcolm to illustrate with the most authentic information the various and discordant features of meanness and courage, cruelty and talent, by which this singular eunuch was distinguished; and the whole picture is such as bears with it its own certificate of resemblance, inasmuch as a portrait so spirited can only have been painted from the life. We ascribe it to the prejudices of the Persian vizier that Sir J. Malcolm speaks with so much toleration of the hateful cruelties which Aga Mahomed committed; but it is doubtless strange that the tyrant himself does not appear to have been blind to the enormity of his own actions, at the same time that he so far deceived himself as to fancy that he was prompted by no selfish motive. I have shed all this blood, he often observed, that the boy Baba Khan, may reign in peace:
-and his natural affection, which the misfortune of his early life, which severed him from his kind, had dried up towards every one else, seems to have concentrated itself in an ardent ambition to aggrandize his darling nephew.
The precautions of Aga Mahomed Khan in killing or blinding all whom he judged likely to aspire hereafter to the crown were not however sufficient to ensure the tranquil succession of his
VOL. XY. NO, XXIX:
favourite, the present king of Persia. Three successive rebellions burst forth against his authority, but they were suppressed with little bloodshed. The king has been able, by the assistance of Isaac Khan, to extend his authority over the greater part of Khorassan; and though Georgia and the shore of the Caspian are again lost, probably for ever, yet the situation of western Persia has, during his reign, been, generally speaking, prosperous. His court, as is well known, has been besieged by European envoys, and European officers have been employed in what Sir J. Malcolm considers as a measure of doubtful policy, to introduce the discipline and tactics of Europe into the disorderly armies of Persia. It is here, however, that Sir J. Malcolm closes his history. The rest of the second volume is occupied with a description of Persia itself, its people, customs, and religious opinions, which only wants a more lucid arrangement to make it very generally interesting, as well as instructive. This fault we shall, for our readers' sakes, attempt to repair; and we shall also take this opportunity of considering some topics which we would not notice before, lest we should interrupi the chain of the narrative.
· The great extent of Persia, intersected by mountains, during a considerable part of the year covered with snows, and by deserts waterless and sandy, may be reasonably expected to contain many various climates. On the whole, however, its temperature is singularly happy, and the neighbourhood of Ispahan, in particular, is said to enjoy such a delightful moderation of heat and cold, a sky so clear and an air so pure and salubrious, as almost to justify the hyperbolical expression of the Persians, which satirizes the levity of the citizens of their ancient capital, as being drunk with the fragrance of their air. -The soil, particularly the pasture ground, is in many districts wonderfully fertile; the orchards produce all the fruits of the temperate zone, and its wilds abound with flowers which can only be reared by care and cultivation in the gardens of Europe. Persia, however, with all the excellence of its climate, and fertility of its soil, is subject to two great inconveniences in the want of water and of trees. There is no navigable river in the whole range of country between the Tigris and Indus; and in many parts even a well is a rare and valuable possession. In the more prosperous days of Persia, astonishing efforts were made by the inhabitants to overcome this natural defect; but the frequent revolutions to which the empire has been exposed, have, from time to time, undone in a single day the labours of a century; and the water-courses, of which there were no less than 15,000 in one small district of Khorassan, are, at present, in a state of comparative neglect and decay. Sir J. Malcolm does not notice the Affghan usage of successive wells connected by a subterranean conduit; nor do we recollect that Chardin, or any other traveller, has mentioned their occurrence for the purposes of irrigation. This is the more extraordinary, since we know from Polybius* that this singular contrivance was formerly common in Media. If it have since fallen into disuse, few stronger proofs can be required of the fallen state of the Persian agriculturists, who have lost so useful an invention, and the comparative superiority of the Affghan peasantry, who still retain it. When, however, a country is only rendered arable in despite of nature, and by a process so expensive and laborious, the principal resource of its inhabitants must ever be, as in the case of Persia it always has been the pasturage of flocks and herds; of which the former require very little water, and the latter may be driven to a considerable distance to procure it. Yet neither of these are in this country of a good quality. The camel, in spite of the better pasturage, is inferior to that of Arabia ; and their horses and dogs alone, the first valuable in war, the second in the field sports of the nobility, are of superior size and beauty. The wild animals are such as may be expected in a country so dry and open; the lion is common, but the tiger, who delights in the cool reeds and dark jungles of India, is here never found. The same cause has banished the elephant; and Sir John Malcolm is mistaken in supposing that this animal was ever of frequent occurrence in the armies of the ancient Persian kings. The only instance in which they were employed was the fatal battle of Arbela-and then fifteen was the whole number belonging to Darius. The excellent cavalry for which the Persians were always famous, and perhaps the jealousy of the Indian princes, were the reason why they made so little use of an arm (to use the modern military phrase) on which their neighbours had so much reliance.
The habits as well as the climate of Persia are favourable to beauty and manly strength; and in these respects the modern natives of this country have been supposed, by Sir J. Chardin, to excel their ancestors. But the Guebres of Surat and Bombay, who are unquestionably of the purest race, have both these qualities in perfection: and the ancient Greeks acknowledged that the Medes, however undisciplined and inferior to them in gymnastic exercises, were of advantageous form and stature, and by no means deficient in courage.-The notion of Asiatic effeminacy, which must beutterly absurd as applied to the general population of any country whatever, had its origin, as is well known, from the sophists of a later age, and has been preserved by those who were glad, for the sake of the moral, to ascribe to this cause those misfortunes of the Persian armies which might have been far more easily accounted for by their want of military science, and by the remarkable ability of those European generals by whom they were opposed.The population of this
* Polyb. L. X. c. xxviii. 'Έπιπολης μεν γαρ έδεν εστι φαινόμενον υδωρ εν τούς προειρημένους τοπους: “ΥΠΟΝΟΜΟΙ δε πλειες εισι, και δια της έρημο φρεατιας έχον
-Καθ' ες χρονες Περσαι της Ασίας έποκράτον, "εδωκαν τοϊς επι τινας τοπες των μη προθερον αρδευομενων έπεισαγομενοις υδωρ πηγαίον, επι πεντε γενιας καρπευσαι την χωραν, οθεν, εχοντος τε Ταυρε πολλές και μεγαλας επιρρευσεις, πασαν επεδεχοντα δαπανην και κακοπαθειαν, εκ μακρά κατασκευαζοντες της υπονομες ώστε κατα τες νύν καιρες μηδε τες χρωμενες τους υδασι γινωσκειν τας αρχας των υπονόμων, ποθέη 'χεσι τας επιρρευσεις. .
kingdom has been by former travellers obviously exaggerated, and so many provinces of Persia have been alienated since the days of Chardin, that it is absurd to apply his computation to the mutilated territory which remains ; but Sir J. Malcolm probably rates it too low when, following the computation of Pinkerton, he only allows six millions for all the countries which obey the present sovereign. Of these, the Armenians, Nestorians, and Jews, do not exceed a few thousand, of whom all but the last are treated with respect and kindness by the government. The persecuted Guebres are now only found in the city of Yezd, and over estimated when computed at 4000 families. The remaining population is chiefly composed of Mahommedans of the Sheah sect, who differ, as is well known, from their Turkish and Arabian brethren in maintaining Ali, the nephew of Mahommed, to have been his rightful successor as prince and prophet, and in rejecting with contempt and abhorrence all the numerous traditions which rest on the authority of Omar and the more recent caliphs. There is a very considerable party, however, which, though found in most countries of Asia, should seem to be more abundant here than in any other region, and which, though reprobated by the orthodox Mahommedans, whether of the Sunnite or Sheah sect, has a tendency in some degree to reconcile them to each other, or, to speak perhaps more properly, to induce a general indifference for the distinctive articles of either confession. This sect is that of the Sooffees, a name variously derived from the Arabic terms for Soap, as an emblem of purity, or Wool, as descriptive of the coarse mantles affected by their teachers; but which Sir Ja Malcolm, induced by the respect which these singular enthusiasts pay to the ancient European philosophers, is inclined to derive from the copia and copos of the Greeks. He will be, perhaps, surprised to learn, that this last word itself is, with good reason, supposed to have originally entered Greece from the east; and that a more plausible origin than either soap or wool may be afforded by the Hebrew. Tsopheh,' • Explorator.' The opinions, indeed, which the Sooffees profess, though in Persia of comparatively recent introduction, are of the most remote antiquity among the various tribes of Semitic, or Arabic race; and, from the facility with which they adapt themselves to almost any religion, whether true or false, no less than the bewitching nature of some of their specu.
lations, are likely always to preserve a certain hold in whatever country they once obtain a footing.
We must not, however, confound the doctrines of Sooffeeism with that system which, in the later academy, and with the majority of Greek writers from the time of Plutarch downwards, obtained, almost exclusively, the name of oriental philosophy; which accounted for the creation of the world, and its natural and moral phenomena, by the hypothesis of two opposing principles ; and of which the history is well known from its origin in Persia itself, to its progress over no inconsiderable part of the western world. The system now in question is not of Persian but Chaldean birth : it professed, in ancient times, to be derived from a far elder Zoroaster than the Prophet of Fire; and is said by Diogenes Laertius to have been first taught in Greece by the Assyrian Pherecydes, whose opinions were, with still greater success, disseminated by Pythagoras in the western countries of Europe. The doctrines, indeed, ascribed to this latter myctic, the habits of his life, and the several adventures related in his legend, are such as might pass, Sir J. Malcolm assures us, in Persia, for those of a Sooffee saint; and though Plutarch undoubtedly gives an account of his opinions, (De Plac. Philos. L. 1. § 7.) which more inclines to the Magian than the Babylonian school, yet is his authority, in this respect, so much at variance with the general voice of antiquity,* that we cannot consistently deny the philosopher of Crotona a seat among his Chaldean brethren. Among the Jews, in later times, these notions were preserved at full length in the mysterious volumes of the Cabbalists;t and among the Judaizing professors of Christianity, we find evident traces of the same superstition in the recognitions of Clement, and the account which Epiphanius gives us of the Ebionites. All these, no less than the modern Sooffees, in direct opposition to the Magian theory of two principles, and to Plato himself, (with whom, in most other respects, they remarkably accord, and for whom, at the present day, they profess an extraordinary veneration,) maintain the existence of one pure and perfect substanceonly, absolutely denying the entity of matter as distinct from or opposed to spirit, and believing that whatever exists is of the same essence with God, has emanated from him, and must at length be united with him again. With them the act of creation is defined to be a developement and modifi
* Diog. Laert. L. viii. c. 25. Cicero. Nat. Deor. L. i § 11. Epiphan. L. i. H. 7.
+ For the similarity between the Chaldean and Cabbalistic opinions, compare Stanley, Philos. Chald. and Clericus, Ind. Philol. in Orac. Zoroastr. with the Liber Pruschim. Tract. 1. cc. 1 and 2. apud Cabbala Denudat. T. 2.
Recognit. L. iji. No. 16. Homil. Clement. xvi. No. 16. Epiphan, L. i. H. 30. 99 2. 17.