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tribes are of Arab descent, and have always closely adhered to the language and customs of their parent stock; while from all these, though wanderers like them,--the Gipsies, who in Persia exactly resemble those of Europe, are distinguished by their mendicant way of life, their skill in palmistry, and peculiar countenance.
Of the lowland Persians, the manners have been often described and, though it be a mistake to suppose that the fashions of the East are of a much less changeable character than those of Europe, --yet, in the more essential points of their domestic habits and the state of knowledge which exists among them, little alteration appears to have taken place since the time of Chardin. Education is, to a certain extent, at least as generally diffused among them as among the inhabitants of the most civilized countries of Europe ; and there is no country in the world where so strong a passion exists for poetry.
An instance is mentioned in which an adven. turer, by the help of a popular song, and a few musicians and singers, assembled an army, and was for some weeks a candidate for royalty; and the lowest mechanics are as familiar with the works of Hafiz and Ferdusi as our less polished artisans with · Death and the Lady,' or, 'I loves Sue.' And as poetry is a popu. lar commodity, so the swarms of poets and poetical mendicants are beyond belief or parallel. One of these, who came fifty miles from Shiraz to welcome Sir J. Malcolm on his first mission to Persia in the year 1800, was told, to evade his request, that the ambassador could hardly comprehend his lines, and had no taste for verses. To this he replied by the following story.
• When the Affghans had possession of Persia, a rude chief of that nation was governor of Shiraz. A poet composed a panegyric on bis wisdom, his valour, and bis virtues. As he was taking it to the palace, he was met by a friend at the outer gate, who inquired where he was going. He informed him of his purpose. His friend asked him if be were insane, to offer an ode to a barbarian who hardly understood a word of the Persian language. “ All that you say may be true,” said he,“ but I am starving, and have no means of livelihood but making
I must therefore proceed.” He went and stood before the governor with bis ode in his hand. - Who is that fellow,' exclaimed the Affgban lord, “and what is that paper which he holds?” “I am à poet," exclaimed the man, “and the paper contains some poetry.” “ What is the use of poetry ?" said the chief. “ To render great men like you immortal,” he replied, making at the same time a very profound bow. Let us hear some of it." The poet, on this mandate, began reading his composition aloud; but he had not finished the second stanza, when he was interrupted. Enough!” exclaimed the governor, “I understand it all. Give the poor man some money ;that is what he wants.” As the poet retired he met his friend, who again commented on the folly of carrying odes to a man who did not
understand one word of them. « Not understand ?” he replied “ You are quite mistaken! He bas, beyond all men I ever met, the quickest apprehension of a poet's meaning !"- vol. ii. p. 501.
The extent of the chymical knowledge of the Persians may be inferred from the eagerness with which they follow the vain pursuit of alchymy. In medicine it has been supposed that they were acquainted with the use of cold effusions in cases of fever; but, though Chardin was thus treated, it does not appear to be the general practice. Their philosophy is that of Aristotle and Ptolemy; but an abstract of the Copernican system, and of some parts of Newton's Principia, has been translated into Persian, and studied by some of their learned men with as much eagerness as could be expected. No prejudices, in fact, exist, unfavourable to the introduction of fresh light into the country; but the unsettled state of political affairs and the tumults consequent on it have, from time to time, repressed all the improvement which might otherwise have been reasonably expected in a race so curious and ardent. The form of government is still more unfavourable to the mechanic arts, as well as to architecture and painting. Whoever excelled in these last, or in any of the finer manufactures, would be liable to have his talents made subservient, on the most disadvantageous terms, to the avarice or ambition of the king or his provincial deputies; and the bad taste, or impatience, or versatility of such patrons, is singularly inimical to any great or lasting improvement: accordingly, the arts are stationary in Persia,-or, to speak more accurately, they are alternately progressive and retrograde. The most splendid of their ruins, with the single and doubtful exception of Istakhar, belong to the period of the Sassanian kings. They are also the most ancient--for the very form and materials of the Tombs of Mordecai and Daniel, no less than their inscriptions, in the modern Hebrew character, sufficiently prove them to be of comparatively recent erection; and we are a little surprised that Sir J. Malcolm has thought them worthy so much attention as he has bestowed on them. In painting, the Persians have not been deterred from the imitation of the human figure by the absurd prejudices of the Sunnite Mahommedans ; and though those latest improvements of the art have not reached them which Europe owes to the Italian school, there are works of oriental artists in drawing, at least as good as the best of Albert Durer, and not inferior in colouring to those relics of ancient genius which are met with in Herculaneum.
Of the political strength and military resources of a country like Persia it is not easy to form an estimate. Both must chiefly depend on the personal character of the sovereign, and must therefore vary with each different reign. The ordinary revenues arise from
the crown lands, which, during the late disturbances, have been greatly increased by confiscations; from the church lands of which Nadir Shah resumed the property, paying very moderate stipends to the ministers of religion; and from a land-tax of 5, or 15, or even 20 per cent. on the crops raised on private property ; the amount of which is, in each instance, regulated by the facilities of irrigation, or the season at which they are reaped. The wandering tribes pay a tax of so much per head for their cattle and flocks; and fruit-trees and vines are subject to an impost varying according to the age of the tree and the quality of the fruit. There are duties on baths, water-mills, aqueducts, imported merchandise, and domestic manufactures; and all shops are charged with the fifth-part of their supposed annual profits. But presents, extra duties, and forced loans are continually resorted to by the wants or avarice of the government; and thre arbitrary mode in which these last are levied, renders them oppressive to the people beyond all proportion to the sums which the crown receives. The whole fixed revenue of the state is something more than three millions; and Sir J. Malcolm observes, that this was exactly the amount of the taxes imposed by Darius Hystaspes, as related by Herodotus. He forgets, however, that the empire from which Darius exacted the same revenue was at least five times as extensive as that which the kings of Persia now retain; and that Robertson, whom he blames for incredulity, might well wonder at so small a sum being raised in an empire which reached from the Strymon to the Hydaspes, and from Syene to Samarcand. The difficulty, however, by which Robertson was perplexed, is solved by the fact which Sir J. Malcolm mentions, that the irregular taxes and extortions are equal to the whole fixed public income. The disbursements are considerably less than the receipts, inasmuch as, where public credit is unknown, a full treasury is deemed essential to the public safety: and the same principle, joined with their portable nature, has made the possession of valuable jewels a favourite object, even with those kings who cared least for finery.
The regular troops of Persia, who have been armed and disci. plined in the European manner by the reigning sovereign and his Řeir apparent, Prince Abbas Meerza, do not exceed in number 23,000 effective men; and the household troops, who are all irregular cavalry, may amount to 3000 more. There is a registered militia of 80,000 horse, and 150,000 infantry; but almost every man in Persia is accustomed to the use of arms, and the military tribes whom we have described form a standing army of a very irregular kind indeed, but of numbers very considerable, and by no means ill calculated to defend a country like Persia against foreign invasion. The nature of the territory, indeed, and the character of no small portion of its inhabitants, who must (as Sir J. Malcolm well observes) be civilized before they are subdued, are those circumstances which constitute the peculiarstrength of this empire against an European enemy; and as these obstacles are not likely to be dininished by the internal disturbances and divided condition of the country, so they are of a nature which would place the conqueror in a state of more difficulty and embarrassment on the day that his project was apparently completed, than on that when he first commenced it. Alexander was able to establish his sovereignty over Persia because she had been long subject to a single family, and when Darius fell, the natives knew not whom to obey. But, at present, if the first combined efforts of the nation would be less than that which the Macedonian encountered, yet the war of detail which must follow would be infinitely more perplexing ; and for one head which the hydra lost, many others would arise, each as formidable as that which had been destroyed. There are, however, two modes of attack to which Persia, as it appears to us, is not invulnerable. The first is that which (whether seriously or not we cannot say) was proposed, in their blind hostility against England, by Bonaparte and Paul the First :--the passage, nainely, of a considerable army through her territory and that of the numerous and warlike states which intervene between her eastern frontier and the Ganges, to attack our settlements in that region. That the passage itself is possible, no one who recollects the many similar transits which are recorded in Sir J. Malcolm's history can safely venture to deny. But in what condition an European army would arrive at Delhi, after fighting its way from the fords of the Araxes ; what would be the health of the troops after passing so many different climates ;-how many cannon would have been abandoned in the sands of Durrah and Beloochistan ; how many horsemen would tighten their reins in despair' when the ridges of the Indian Caucasus rose before them, and with what remaining' strengthand spirit the invader would be enabled to cope with forces as well disciplined as his own in the best of times,--are subjects, we apprehend, to be quite as seriously considered by those who meditate such an attack, as by those who are called upon to resist it.
The other danger, though slower, is more certain; it is only so far doubtful, indeed, as the time which it requires is more than enough to give birth to events by which the wisest conjectures may be baffled. The Russian frontier now extends to the Araxes; and it may be reasonably anticipated, that, if Russia retains her present power, and if the state of society and government in Persia remains unaltered, this latter must finally be devoured. This is a necessity which results from the different constitutions of their governments. However averse to foreign conquest the Czar, for
the time, may be,-however desirous the Shah to preserve a good understanding with his neighbour,—yet will grounds of quarrel be surely furnished by the inferior agents of the irregular monarchy, and readily improved by those of the civilized neighbour; and the encroachments of the latter will be no less certain,--and, when gradually and progressively carried on, no less inevitable than the imperceptible advance of the tide. It is probable, however, that whatever was thus gained would be held on a very uncertain tenure ; that the first check which the Russian Monarchy might receive in the west would be followed by a simultaneous rising in all her eastern provinces ; and that she might lose in a month that footing which it had cost her many years to obtain. At any rate, some centuries are likely to elapse, before the Muscovite Terminus can have advanced in this manner to the Indian ocean. And they whose rest is disturbed by dreams of a chain of capitals, and of the exploits of those new Alexanders who are to shake the foundations of our eastern commerce, may do well to recollect the time when the roaring of the lion at our very doors was not enough, in their opinion, to justify a single measure of effective resistance.
Of the merits of Sir J. Malcolm's work, our opinion may be gathered from the length to which its discussion had carried us, We have fairly stated the points in which he is, as we conceive, mistaken ; but we should not do him justice, if we concluded without again acknowledging the amusement and information which he has afforded us.
** We have received a letter from Sir N. Douglas, Lieut, Colonel of the 79th Regiment, charging us with a most cruel and unfounded calumny against his fame and character, and those of the regiment, in having stated that, in the battle of Les Quatre Bras, it was taken by surprise by a body of cuirasșiers who were concealed by the high corn, and that it would have been destroyed if the 42d had not come up. This account appeared in the London newspapers at the time, in one of the many letters from the scene of action. We now learn that it was erroneous, and that the 79th, though often threatened by the enemy's cavalry, did not lose a single man by them on the 16th. Sir N. Douglas desires that we will contradict the statement in the fullest manner,--the information which he has given us enables us thus to do it upon his authority and he cannot for a moment suppose that
any intention of calumniating his fame or that of the regiment.