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«« My necessity," he was wont to say, “ led me to steal, from a saddler, a gold-embossed saddle which had been sent by an Afghan chief to be repaired. I soon afterwards learned that the man from whose shop it was taken was in prison and sentenced to be hanged. My conscience smote me and I replaced the saddle exactly on the place from whence I took it. I watched till is was discovered by the saddler's wife, who, on seeing it, gave a scream of joy, fell down on her knees, and prayed aloud that the person who had brought it back might live to have a hundred gold-embossed saddles. I am quite certain," Kurreem used to add, smiling, that “the honest prayer of the good old woman has aided my fortune in the attainment of that splendour which she desired I should enjoy."
The happy disposition, the regular but not austere temperance, the placid and tolerant piety of Kurreem Khan, prolonged his life to the age of eighty years, twenty-six of which appear to have been passed in a constant and active attention to the best interests of Persia. We know, indeed, no stronger instance than this reign affords of the wonderful power of native talent and goodness of heart. With the education of a peasant, for he could not even write, he was a patron of living learning, and built tombs over the remains of Sadi and Hafiz; brought up in camps, himself a tried, a valiant and successful soldier, he was not fond of war, and his contests, though numerous, were mostly, on his side, defensive. With the example of eastern splendour before his eyes, and in a country where, of all others, a degree of royal magnificence should seem, from national prejudice, necessary, his dress and establishment were plain and frugal, and yet no one taxed him with avarice. He knew so well to blend severity with mildness, that while he crushed completely the factions which, till his time, had desolated Persia, there are repeated instances in which he not only pardoned, but made trusted and faithful friends of those who had been his avowed and mortal enemies. His government was always firm, and sometimes what in Europe would be accounted harsh; but in no instance was his justice impeached, and to the meanest of his subjects he was kind, accessible, and familiar. To crown the whole, he was able to transplant all these good qualities into a soil so unkindly as a despotic throne without losing the respect of his subjects, or endangering his own authority.
• He lived,' says Sir J. Malcolm, happily ; bis death was that of a father amid a family whom he had cherished, and by whom he was beloved. The inhabitants of Persia to this day venerate his name, and those who have risen to greatness on the destruction of the dynasty which he founded do not withhold their tribute of applause from his goodness. These, indeed, when meaning to detract from his fame, often give him the highest possible eulogiums. 6. Kurreem Khan,"
was not a great king. His court was not splendid ; and he
made few conquests; but, it must be confessed,” they add, " that he Ft was a wonderful magistrate.”
It is the curse of an absolute government that even such rulers as Es he whose character we have drawn can be of no permanent use to
their country. On the death of Kurreem all was as bad as ever; his I brother Zuckee, a thorough eastern despot,* sooni lost his life in a
fit of popular indignation; and his four surviving sons fell victims to the ambition and cruelty of the chiefs who rose on the ruins of their family. The youngest, and the best of these, Looft Aly Khan, maintained a gallant contest against Aga Mahomed Khujur, who, though he abused his success over him with hideous and disgusting cruelty, did justice to the virtues of his poor eyeless and mutilated prisoner by wishing publicly that his own successors might resemble Looft Aly Khan
Aga Mahomed Khan Khujur, the founder of the present dynasty, was the son of a petty chieftain who had been expelled from his states by Shah Nadir, and he himself, when a child, had been deprived of virility by Adil. From the time of that prince's ruin to the final success of Kurreem, Aga Mahomed had been allowed to attend the wandering fortunes of his father. The latter was, however, defeated and put to death by Kurreem, who retained the son about his court, and latterly treated him with a kindness which had no power to soften the unrelenting hatred which he bore to all the enemies of his family. When seated in the council chamber for, young as he was the sagacity of Kurreem detected his superior understanding-Mahomed found a comfort, as he himself related in his more prosperous days, in cutting holes in the valuable carpets, and defacing the property of the sovereign whom he had no more effectual means of injuring. On the death of Kurreem he fled to Mazenderan, and there, by the assistance of his father's tribe, erected the standard of rebellion which conducted him, after eighteen years of various success, to the eminence on which he now was seated. An eminence it was, indeed, very little desirable, since the whole of Western Persia was in a state of utter anarchy, and all respect for the name of king had been lost by the rapacious and insolent chieftains by whose swords the country was lacerated. To compose these feuds, or to crush them, Aga Mahomed was a character well adapted. In the better parts of his nature, no less than his crimes, he appears to have resembled our Henry VII. : but it was what Henry VII. would have been had he been a Persian and an eunuch; with his ambition exaggerated, his temper soured, and his * This prince was ingenious in his cruelty. He is celebrated by the
Persians as being in the first who fastened men alive to branches of trees, and then planted them in avenues
with their heads buried and their limbs in the air, which he wittily called a garden of enemies.'
avarice and cruelty less restrained by respect for the opinions of those around him. The spirit of their new governor was first exhibited to the Persians by his unmanly insult on the bones of the virtuous Kurreem Khan, which he tore from the grave, and laid them together, with those of Nadir Shah, in the entrance of his palace at Teheraun, that he might daily have the wretched triumph of trampling on the remains of the ancient enemies of his house. The policy of fixing the regal residence in Teheraun was of a better and more reasonable character, inasmuch as it was the Persia where his natural strength lay, and its vicinity to the northern frontiers brought him nearer to the spot where foreign danger was to be apprehended. But he could not think himself safe while he had a brother living whose virtues were far superior, and whose courage and talents were by many men thought at least equal to his
Jaaffer Kooli had been one of the principal means of his ascent to the throne, and his services rendered him dangerous. Aga Mahomed first insulted him by refusing him the government of Ispahan, then feigning penitence, inveigled him to his court, and had him murdered at the gate of the palace. Then, weeping bitterly, or pretending to weep, over the body, he called him the best of brothers, and sending for his nephew and successor, the present King of Persia, assured him that, for his sake, and to secure the crown on his head, he had acted with shameful ingratitude and sinned deeply against God and man. Yet this wretch the historians of Persia are not ashamed to praise for his inflexible justice !
His next memorable exploit was the invasion of Georgia, whose Prince, Heraclius, had placed his country under the protection of Russia. The wonderful rapidity of his advance, in which, no less than his courage, he also resembled our Henry, completely surprised the Georgians before their new allies could join them. Teflis was sacked and ravaged ; and, in the following year, the conqueror, who till then had not assumed the title of King, though he still rejected the crown which Nadir Shah had worn, consented to gird on the royal sabre which had been consecrated at the tomb of Šudder-u-deen, and which was supposed to pledge its wearer to the defence of the Sheah religion. He shortly after marched against Khorassan. That province was divided among many petty rulers, of whom the most remarkable was Isaak Khan, chief of Turbet-eHyderee, a man of low birth, who, by the peaceable pursuits of commerce, had been able, like the Medici family in Italy, to obe tain a territory 200 miles in length, and to raise himself from the overseer of a caravansary to the rank of an independent sovereign. His revenue was reckoned at 200,0001., of which 80,000/. proceeded from his purchased landed property, 80,0001, from his subjects, and 40,0001, from the profits of his merchandise. He had 6,000 troops
in his pay, but chiefly trusted to his policy for the maintenance of his power ; nor did ever prince more securely reign in the hearts of his subjects and of the merchants whom he had attracted to his new emporium. To these, as well as to pilgrims and beggars of every country and religion, his hall was always open ; and it was his principal relaxation from the fatigues of government and traffic to dine in company with this motley multitude, conversing on equal terms with all, acquiring an accurate knowledge of every thing which concerned the welfare of his people, and sarprising his guests with his affability and (as we are also told) his deep and various learning. This extraordinary potentate had enemies at the court of Aga Mahomed; and his wealth was doubtless a very considerable temptation to regard or treat him as a rebel. But his high reputation for hospitality (the virtue of all others most valued in the east) was a restraint on the monarch's cupidity; and it is possible that even Aga Mahomed himself respected his inoffensive character, and the obvious utility of his pursuits. He received him kindly; and Isaak alone, of all the Khorassanian chiefs, was not obliged to give hostages of his fidelity.
Aga Mahomed next projected the invasion of Bokharah, then governed by a character as singularas Isaak of Turbet-e-Hyderee. It had long been a fashion with the Uzbeg Tartars to be governed by saints, and the father of the then nominal prince had been originally called Chakbootee,' or 'Old Clothes, from the custom which the pious man daily practised of picking up all the rags he could find, to be mended for his own wear, or that of the poor. Abdool Ghazee Khan, however, being less of a saint than his father, had lost his reputation and his power, and was now a mere pageant in the hands of Beggee Jân, a very holy person indeed, who, having utterly renounced all worldly authority, was conceived to be the fittest man in the world to have it pressed on his acceptance. Nor is it the least singular part of the story, that a person thus elevated did not, in fact, abuse the confidence of his country; nor (though his long prayers, the ostentatious beggary of his attire, and his daily use of whips to drive all lazy Mussulmans into the mosques, may be regarded as a continuance of the same arts whereby he was first distinguished),can we refuse our praise to the wisdom and lenity with which he, in person, assisted by forty moullahs, administered justice to all comers; nor to the wisdom which enabled him in a few years to unite or subdue the whole country between the Oxus and Jaxartes. At the head of his army, as well as in his palace, he preserved the manners and appearance of a devotee. Amid the mailed coats and chivalrous pomp of his nobles and courtiers, (for, like Sir Dennis Brand, he had no objection to splendour in those whose magnificence was reflected on himself,) he rode on a little
in the dress of a needy priest; and was pleased to see the envoys of the different eastern potentates dining with him under a ragged tent, on putrid meat, prepared by a cook whom his humble sovereign allowed to sit with the company at table.* knows,' says the ambassador of Chinnaran, in a written description of this strange court, God knows in what year of the Hegira the barley bread had been baked which was now set before us! All this abstinence and outward humility secured to Beggee Jân the most absolute authority and unbounded respect. His followers were persuaded that a leader who condemned the worldly pleasures which they prized, and who preferred the patched mantle and crooked staff of a medicant priest to a royal robe and sceptre, must act under the immediate direction of the Divine Being. After all, we are not sure that the good Tartars were altogether mistaken in inferring an extraordinary mind from a conduct so stubbornly consistent; or believing that he who, from whatever motive, could 80 well command himself, was, cæteris paribus, not the person worst adapted to command others. Had Beggee Jân and Aga Ma- . homed come to blows, the event of the contest, Sir John Malcolm thinks, would have been extremely doubtful. As it was, they were content with mutual scolding. The king affected to consider the saint as a nameless usurper, who had solů true believers like cattle at the market-place of Bokharah.' The saint wrote thus in a circular letter to the princes of Khorassan,' I have heard that my Lord Eunuch is come among you. Seize him if you can; if not, inform me, and I shall proceed to your quarter and punish him.'
In the mean time, the frontiers of Persia were passed by a still more formidable enemy. The Empress Catherine, eager to revenge the sufferings of her new subjects in Georgia, made great exertions to send an army thither. Between 40 and 50,000 men, under Valerian Zuboff, over-ran, in a few months, the whole southern coast of the Caspian, and, crossing the Araxes, fixed their winter quarters on the plains of Mogam. The whole of Aderbijan lay open to their incursions ; and the possession of that province was likely to be followed by an attack on the capital. The reputation of Catherine, whom the Persians called · Khoorsheed Kullah,' or • The Crowned Sun,' and whom they the more admired from the (to them inexplicable) wonder of a woman ruling such a mighty empire, gave still greater power to her arms; and the discipline and forbearance of the Cossacks themselves were astonishing to peasants and towns people accustomed to the tender mercies of their own soldiers. She died, however, as Peter the Great died, in the midst of her schemes of ambition; and the first act of her successor was
* He gave his cook the name or title of Helâl-Puz, or the dresser of what is lawful