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by the daily habits of bloodshed to which the sovereigns of Persia are, from their earliest childhood, trained.
• There is, perhaps, nothing more difficult than for a Monarch of Persia to continue humane, even if that should be bis natural disposition. The constant habit of directing and witnessing executions must, in the course of time, harden his nature : and those entrusted with the education of the princes of this country, as if apprehensive that an indulgence in tender feeling should interfere with the performance of their future duties, take them, when almost infants, to witness scenes at which men would shudder. Those early lessons appear to have been almost always successful ; for we have hardly one instance, in the history of Persia, of a king of that country evincing any uncommon degree of humanity: while there are many to prove that the shedding of blood often becomes a passion; by a brutal indulgence in which, human beings appear to lose that rank and character which belong to their species'--vol. ii. p. 626.
Nor is it only in the regular administration of justice that these sovereigns are violent and sanguinary,--secret assassinations, and open massacres, have always been of frequent occurrence in their history; and so habituated are the lower and middling classes to these vigorous measures, on the part of their rulers, that a certain degree of ostentatious oppression and cruelty is regarded by the populace, as a necessary feature in the crown and dignity of a king; and to be lenient and beloved, would be often the surest way to become contemptible.
• A man of one of these tribes, who was sent to accompany two English gentlemen through a part of Persia, contended with bis companions, that a prince of the blood royal whom he served, had better claims to the crown than one of his royal brothers, whom they had extolled for his humanity, virtue and intelligence. “ You see,” he observed to them, as they were riding along, " that small village before us-if the prince you praise were where we are, the inhabitants would be at this moment running to meet him, and be eager to pitch his tents; whereas, if my master were here, so great is the terror of his name, that they would already have fled to the summit of the neighbouring hills. Now, I ask you," he added exultingly, “which is the most proper of these two to govern such a kingdom as Persia?"
But, though the natural consequence of such powers and such opinions is a general system of oppression and injury, which descends from the king through the long list of his subordinate governors, yet are there some checks, by no means inefficient, on the more wanton or unusual abuse of authority. In every city of consequence, the different classes of merchants, mechanics and labourers, have their respective wardens or representatives, elected by themselves out of their own number, who are the legal organs of their petitions and complaints, with the governor of the town or the sovereign, and the person to whom, in the first instance, the orders of the government are communicated. These hold their office for life, or, at least, are seldom removed from their situation except on the complaint of their constituents; and their representations have often possessed very considerable weight with the most powerful of the Persian kings. It is the custom too, to consult the wishes of the people in the appointment of the inferior magistrates, the bailiffs and aldermen of the cities, and though these are constitutionally only the submissive agents of the beglerbegs, or royal governors, yet so much of the execution of the laws devolves on them, that they have it in their power materially to temperthe harshness of an unjust, or the inconvenience of a foolish edict. Even the king himself-besides the “sacred right of insurrection, which in few countries is better understood, or more frequently resorted to, depends so greatly on public opinion for the continuance of his power, that an act of gratuitous violence has not often been ventured on even by the worst of these monarchs; and the lower ranks in this, as in every other country, may sleep in very tolerable security from those storms of caprice, jealousy and avarice, which are continually bursting on the heads of the wealthy and the powerful.
Nor are the kings of Persia without a check of a more moderate nature, that of the leading ministers of religion. These persons, who are called · Moostaheds,' or 'givers of evidence,' are simply those of the Mahommedan clergy who enjoy the highest reputation for holiness and learning; who, though they fill no office, receive no appointment, and have no specific duties different from other religious teachers, are looked up to, both by prince and people, as their guides in faith, and their most learned counsellors in the sacred jurisprudence of the Koran. Their numbers are, of course, unlimited; but from the various talents, and great appearance of sanctity, which are necessary to raise them to this pitch of general confidence, there are seldom above three or four in the whole kingdom, who receive from popular respect this highest title of ecclesiastical dignity. These are followed by numerous disciples, actuated not only by the desire of religious improvement, but by that of a knowledge of those laws which are the civil as well as the spiritual code of their country: their authority is recurred to in all cases of law and conscience, and to act against the opinion? regularly given by a Moostahed, would, in Persia, be equivalent to a renunciation of the Faith.*' The sort of rank, indeed, which they hold in the country, and the influence which they exercise, may be best compared to those of the ancient Jewish prophets; and though the justice, as well as charity, of a Mahommedan saint is too often confined to persons of his own persuasion; yei, in cases where Mussulmen only are concerned, Sir John Malcolm gives us a very favourable opinion of the general integrity of their decisions, and the courage with which they have occasionally borne testimony against the oppressions of the wealthy and powerful. As, indeed, the whole of that respect and influence which a Moostahed receives and
* We read in the History of Abbas the Great, that a person complained to Moollah Ahmed, the Moostahed of Ardebil, that the king had taken his sister by force into his haram. The holy man immediately gave him a note to the following effect: "Brother Abbas, restore the bearer his sister.' The king commanded the woman to be instantly
possesses, depends on public estimation; and as the degree of both thus conferred on him is such, that its loss could not be counterbalanced by any thing which even his sovereign could bestow; it is plain, that, generally speaking, no motive can be adequate to induce him to risk the loss of a popularity so flattering, and which would be necessarily endangered if he were suspected of interested motives, or of subserviency to the wishes of the court.
A safeguard of a different kind is afforded by the Sherrah, or written law of Mahommed, which, though very faulty as a civil or criminal code, is, at least, better than the unrestrained caprice of a despot. The judges in these courts are also ecclesiastics, whom, though they are appointed by the king, and, as being less independent, are therefore less respected than the Moostaheds, Sir J. Malcolm praises, nevertheless, fora gravity and decorum of demeanour becoming their station, and, in many instances, for integrity and a sincere though bigoted devotion, the more remarkable, because, for every kind of impudence and vulgar cunning, the lower orders of Syuds, Cauzies, Moollahs, or Hagees, are in no better repute with those of their own religion, than the mendicant friars of the west are with protestants. The jurisdiction of the Sherrah is, however, daily encroached on by the “Urf,' or common law, which is administered by the king himself and his officers, and which, though (from the promptness of decision common to all military rule, and from the superior impartiality, where Christians are concerned, which may be expected from a lay-tribunal) it has received the praises of Chardin, depends so entirely on the conscience or caprice of the magistrate as to afford all possible scope for avarice, violence, and cruelty.
In Persia, as in every other country where the law of retaliation prevails, the custom of sanctuary has become necessary. The houses of the most celebrated Moostaheds are often resorted to for this purpose ; but, of all sanctuaries, the most sacred is the royal stable, or that of a powerful nobleman. A horse,' say the given up, and showing the note which he had received to bis courtiers, said aloud, Let this be put into my shroud; for, on the day of judgment, to have been called brother by Moollah Ahmed will avail me more than all the actions of my life
Persians, 'will never bear him to victory by whom it was violated,' * The monarch, or chief,' we read in a Persian MS. "at whose stable a criminal takes shelter, must feed him while he stays there; but he may
be slain the moment before he reaches it, or the moment after he leaves it; but, when there, a slave who has murdered his master cannot be touched. The place of safety is at the head of the horse, and, if that is tied up in the open air, the object of him who takes refuge is to touch the head-stall.'
But, though all the limitations which we have mentioned are very slight indeed, as barriers against the will of a monarch without an hereditary or representative senate; yet the wandering tribes (who have, in every age, since the days of Herodotus and Strabo, made up a very numerous and formidable part of the population of this extensive empire) continue, without exception, to enjoy a species of patriarchal government, in no respect differing from that system which Mr. Elphinstone has recently described, in his account of Caubul ; and the close resemblance of which, to that which, in the last century, prevailed among the Scottish Highlanders, was noticed in our review of the Culloden Papers. These tribes, who yield in fact no more obedience to the Persian government than they please, or than accords with the interest of their immediate chieftain, are each governed by that chieftain, assistedand controled by a council of hereditary elders, and have all the vices and virtues appropriate to barbarous manners, and to a fierce and disorderly freedom. Singularly indifferent to the faith of Mahommed, and divested, in a great measure, of all religious principle; the men, nevertheless, are hospitable and brave; and the women, who possess all the liberty which even European habits allow, are as chaste as they are beautiful. As they are descended from many different stocks, their customs and laws are various.
In some tribes the council of elders have the privilege of cashiering their chieftain, in case of misbehaviour, or incapacity; in others, the point of honour consists in an indefeasible loyalty to the head of the clan, however incompetent or oppressive. But it is a principle with them all, that no foreign jurisdiction can interfere with the chief and his council in the management of their own tribe; and whatever may be the offence of an individual of these tribes, and wherever perpetrated, the whole family would be implacably incensed, if he were intrusted to any other than themselves for trial or punishment. With their kindred and their guests, murders but rarely happen; and whenever they occur, they are compounded for by the elders, whose interest it is to prevent their degenerating into a deadly feud; in which last case, the law of retaliation would authorize and exact a series of alternate deaths, ad infinitum, or at least, to the extermination of one or other of the families implie cated.' To plundering, however, at least so far as their lowland neighbours are concerned, no limit is fixed, and no dishonour attaches. What a glorious place to pillage!' said a chieftain who accompanied Sir J. Malcolm to see the wealth and wonders of Calcutta. How,' said another who had heard in astonishment the rigour of the English laws against those practices which his countrymen esteemed so innocent, —- How, if there is no plundering, do you support your numerous and warlike population ?'
We are not, however, to suppose that plundering is the only or principal vocation of these numerous clans. Like the Highland Scots, they are graziers, and to a certain extent, agriculturists; but they have the advantage of changing their residence with the season,--and, between the high breezy mountains which constitute their summer retreat, and the warmth of the adjacent valleys, they enjoy, throughout the year, a climate and sky under which a tent is in every respect a comfortable and luxurious habitation. Their encampment is usually in the form of a square, and the abode of the principal elder is only to be distinguished from that of the lowest man in his tribe by its size. All are made of the same coarse materials, and in the same shape. The horses, mules, and sheep, graze round the encampment. The young men, if not employed in hunting, are generally seen sitting in circles smoking or sleeping, in the full enjoyment of that indolence which has most charms for an uncultivated mind. The women are busied in their domestic duties, and the care of the flocks is committed to the boys and aged men. But of late years, it is only occasionally that these interesting scenes are visited by those chieftains to whom their tribes look up with filial reverence. Like the leading proprietors in the north of Scotland, the Persian thanes are often weak enough to prefer the amusements and political intrigues of the capital to the service and duty of their dependants ; and it is the object of the court to draw them by every possible enticement from these dangerous connexions, to lavish, in the splendid slavery of Teheraun or Shiraz, the revenues hardly earned for them by their wild and affectionate kindred.
The clans of whom we have been speaking are either of ancient Persian descent, (among whom the Curds must be reckoned, though these last are a distinct nation, and their soyereign, the Waly of Ardebil, is acknowledged as such by the court of Teheraun,) or those who have originally emigrated from Tartary. Of one of these last the present sovereign of Persia is the head; and it should seem that the hereditary tinge of mountain habits which his family still retain, has co-operated with the turbulence of the times to preserve the Khujur dynasty from the indolence and weakness which ruined the Suffavean kings. The south-western