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THE

CHAPTER XXIV.

Of the King.

H E present king of Persia ascended the throne under a variety of advantages which rarely occur in a country where the only claim to sovereignty depends upon the sword. At the time of his uncle's decease he was at Sheeraz; upon this event he advanced towards Tuhran, and was fortunate enough to gain possession of this important place. It was at this place where all the treasure of the empire was deposited, and the families of all the principal officers of the realm. He by this means secured the affections of the soldiery, and the fidelity of all the principal officers in the state. Hajee Ibrahim, the most considerable and respectable person in the empire, declared himself in his favour; and it was chiefly owing to his exertion and influence, that the king met with so little resistance in the accomplishment of his wishes.

Futih Ulee Shah, the present king, is about seven and twenty years of age; he is a Qajjir, an inconsiderable tribe in the neighbourhood of Tuhran, and of no repute before the accession of A Moohummud Khan to the throne of Persia.* Indeed, during the reign of Kureem Khan they were in general disrepute, nothing being more common than the people of the Bazar refusing to sell them any article, on the plea that they had nothing fit for a Qajjar

*All great men have an illustrious pedigree. It is said the prime minister, whom Nadir Shah seduced the unfortunate Tahmasp Shah to murder, was an ancestor of the present royal family. He was a namesake, and a Qajjar.

sufficiently bad and vile.* But now, owing to the very great partiality the king evinces for his tribe, they have become the most considerable people in the kingdom; and the name of Qajjar is detested and feared in every part of the empire of Persia. All the responsible trusts are conferred upon them: and the present governor of Isphahan, and of the district of Irak, was elevated from his former situation of a seller of greens, to his present station, merely because he was a Qajjar.

The manners of the king are said to be very dignified, though at the same time very affable and prepossessing; and he is allowed to possess all the exterior accomplishments of a Persian. In his person he is superior to most men; and the immense length of his beard (a gift highly valued by the Persians), is a perpetual theme of discourse and admiration. He has been engaged in no military enterprise, and in consequence of this the public opinion deny him the only Persian virtue, courage. His annual expeditions towards Khorasan are made with the view of engaging the attention of his subjects, and accustoming his troops to the fatigues of actual service, but without the smallest design of attempting the reduction of that province. The greatest blemish in his character, is the murder of Hajee Ibrahim, who regarded him as a son, and who had evinced for him the affection of a father. It is said that the minister used to take greater liberties than the extent of his services allowed: but I know of no excuse which can palliate such barbarous inhumanity.

The court of Tuhran is said (by those who have had many opportunities of judging), to be very magnificent and splendid, and in every respect becoming the sovereign of an extensive and flourish

* A Moohummud Khan was a state prisoner during the reign of the Vakeel Kureem Khan. Upon his accession to the throne, he dug up the body, and destroyed the grave of his illustrious and lamented predecessor. I saw the tablet in one of the gardens.

+ I have frequently heard the Persians say, that the King did not deserve the throne because he had not won it by the sword.

ing empire. When the king receives any one in state, his sons, who are very numerous,* stand in a line from the throne; his ministers and officers of state behind them; and in the avenues are perhaps more than two thousand Gholami Shahees sumptuously cloathed. The master of the ceremonies introduces the stranger; and every thing is conducted with the greatest decency and solemnity. Permission of being seated in the presence of the king is only granted to embassadors and envoys of foreign states, and to, I believe, the Sheik Ool Islam, as the chief priest of the Mooslim religion. The king sometimes wears his regalia, and by allowing the rays of the sun to fall upon him, I have heard it was impossible to behold him with any degree of steadiness. His jewels are supposed to be superior to any potentate's in the world; indeed it would be surprising were it otherwise, as he has possessed himself of all the valuable jewels in his empire.

The king has now reigned above seven years; and were it possible to form an opinion of the duration of a despotic government, he has every prospect of reigning for a much longer period. His brother, Hoosun Qoolee Khan, who twice threw off his allegiance, is now in a place of sanctuary, which, I believe, the king respects more on account of the entreaties of his mother, than from any reverence he entertains for the place itself. He is, however, guarded with the strictest vigilance, and it is almost impossible for him to effect his escape.

The King's eldest son (Mihr Ulee Khan) is an enterprising young man, much esteemed by the soldiers and military officers; and as his illegitimacy deprives him of all hopes of peaceably succeding his father, it is difficult to say what the intrigues of discontented noblemen might not excite him to attempt. He has frequently de

* His family amounts to above fifty, several of whom were born on the same day.

↑ I learnt, on my last visit to Bushire, that his mother was dead; she was mother to both the brothers, and was excessively fond of her youngest son. By all accounts she was a woman of considerable ability, and was highly respected by all classes of people.

clared to the king his father, that the sword should either secure or deprive him of the throne; and that it was his determination to overcome the obstacles which were placed in his way.* * Such is the situation of princes in a despotism, that it is the only means they have of preserving their lives; and in the event of the king's death, Persia will again be deluged with blood; for as the princes are the governors of various districts in the empire, they have each the means of asserting their claims to the throne.

The King of Persia has revived a taste for literature, so scandalously neglected by his predecessors. He is himself a man of considerable taste and erudition, and is also a tolerable poet. As it is an unusual circumstance for sovereigns to be poets, I venture to produce a specimen of his compositions.

بوامق از بنماني جمال خود یارا

وكر تطاره کند طلعت ترا یوسف

كند قد أي جمالت روان عزرارا

دكر هوس نکند دیدن زلیخارا

مده بمن توازین پش و عده فردا را بيا ببزم من امروز امروز دکام جانم ده ر بود باز پک عشوه دل زکف مارا رسید یار چون خاقان بصد کرشمه و ناز

، If thou wert to display thy beauties, my beloved, to Wamiq, " he would sacrifice the life of Oozra at the shrine of thy perfec"tions. If Yoosoof beheld thy charms, he would think no more of "Zuleekha. Come to me, and comply with my wishes; give me "no further promises of to-morrow. When the mistress of Khaqan approached him with a hundred graces, one glance captivated "his heart."

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دل داده ام بانکه همه کار او جفاست

کارش جفاست رورو شب و کوید این و فاست چشم نو چشم نیست که این عین فتنه است بالا نباشد اینکه تو داري يقين بلاست

A Moohummud Khan, who used to treat them with much kindness, once asked him what he would do were he king? The child, not more than five or six, instantly replied, that his first act would be to destroy him. This answer so enraged his grand uncle, that he ordered him to be strangled, but at the intercession of the present king's mother, pardoned him.

ما شکده از جفای تو خانا نمیکنیم

بر ما هر آنچه ميکني از جورو کین رواست

خونم بدست خویش بریز اینکه خوش را نیست

در دست یار کشته شدن عين مدعاست

شد بسركويت اي جوان
پیر
با آنکه

خاقان و باز گویش از کین که بیوفاست

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“When I yielded my heart she began her cruelty, yet she terms "this tyranny faithfulness. Call not your eyes by their name, for truly they are the source of affliction; the loftiness of thy stature "betrays thy pride.* I shall never complain of thee, my love! " for however great your cruelty, it must be proper. Destroy me " at once, for the height of my ambition is to die by the hand of 66 my mistress. Khaqan has watched near thy dwelling until he has "fallen into old age, and still you maliciously call him faithless.”

The governor of Kashan was indebted for his appointment to his being an excellent poet. On his sending the king a present of one of his compositions, he expressed greater satisfaction at the gift, than at the sumptuous offering of Chiragh Ulee Khan, which amounted to some thousand pounds. He would, however, be sorry to have all his governors poets, and all their presentations poems. It is a great thing for him to have patronised one man of genius; it is seldom they are so well rewarded.

The sum of the present king's reign may be given in a few words. If he has not achieved any of the great actions which have distinguished the reign of his more illustrious predecessors, he must at least be allowed the negative virtue of having done little harm, a virtue infinitely superior to the ferocious conquests of Tamerlane, and the victorious massacres of the inhuman Nadir Shah.

* I cannot do justice to the king's quibbles.

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