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Title: The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan
Author: Morier, James
Language: English
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In the first decade of the present century Persia was for a short time
the pivot of the Oriental interest of English and Indian statesmen.
But little known and scarcely visited during the preceding century,
it suddenly and simultaneously focussed the ambitions of Russia, the
apprehensions of Great Britain, the Asiatic schemes of France. The
envoys of great Powers flocked to its court, and vied with each other
in the magnificence of the display and the prodigality of the gifts with
which they sought to attract the superb graces of its sovereign,
Fath Ali Shah. Among these supplicants for the Persian alliance, then
appraised at much beyond its real value, the most assiduous and also the
most profuse were the British, agitated at one moment by the prospect of
an Afghan invasion of India, at another by the fear of an overland march
against Delhi of the combined armies of Napoleon and the Tsar. These
apprehensions were equally illusory; but while they lasted they supplied
the excuse for a constant stream of embassies, some from the British
sovereign, others from the viceregal court at Calcutta, and were
reproduced in a bewildering succession of Anglo-Persian Treaties. Sir
John Malcolm, Sir Harford Jones, Sir Gore Ouseley, and Sir Henry Ellis
were the plenipotentiaries who negotiated these several instruments; and
the principal coadjutor of the last three diplomats was James Justinian
Morier, the author of “Hajji Baba.”

Born and nurtured in an Oriental atmosphere (though educated at Harrow),
he was one of three out of four sons, whom their father, himself British
Consul at Constantinople, dedicated to the Diplomatic or Consular
service in Eastern Europe or in Asia. His Persian experience began when
at the age of twenty-eight he accompanied Sir Harford Jones as private
secretary, in 1808-1809, on that mission from the British Court
direct which excited the bitter jealousy and provoked the undignified
recriminations of the Indian Government. After the Treaty had been
concluded, James Morier returned to England, being accompanied by the
Persian envoy to the Court of St. James, who figures in this narrative
as Mirza Firouz, and whose droll experiences in this country he
subsequently related in the volume entitled “Hajji Baba in England.”
While at home, Morier wrote the first of the two works upon Persia, and
his journeys and experiences in and about that country, which, together
with the writings of Sir John Malcolm, and the later publications of Sir
W. Ouseley, Sir R. Ker Porter, and J. Baillie Frazer, familiarised the
cultivated Englishman of the first quarter of this century with
Persian history and habits to a degree far beyond that enjoyed by the
corresponding Englishman of the present day. Returning to Persia with
Sir Gore Ouseley in 1811-12 to assist the latter in the negotiation of a
fresh Treaty, to meet the novel situation of a Franco-Russian alliance,
Morier remained in Tehran as _charge d’affaire_ after his chief had
left, and in 1814 rendered similar aid to Sir H. Ellis in the conclusion
of a still further Treaty superseding that of Ouseley, which had never
been ratified. After his return to England in 1815, appeared the account
of his second journey. Finally, nearly ten years later, there was issued
in 1824 the ripened product of his Persian experiences and reflections
in the shape of the inimitable story to which is prefixed this
introduction. “Hajji Baba” at once became a favourite of the cultured
reading public, and passed speedily through several editions. That
popularity has never since been exhausted; and the constant demand for a
new issue is a proof not merely of the intrinsic merit of the book as
a contemporary portrait of Persian manners and life, but also of
the fidelity with which it continues to reflect, after the lapse of
three-quarters of a century, the salient and unchanging characteristics
of a singularly unchanging Oriental people. Its author, having left the
Diplomatic service, died in 1849. The celebrity of the family name has,
however, been revindicated in more recent diplomatic history by the
services of his nephew, the late Sir Robert Morier, who died in 1893,
while British Ambassador at St. Petersburg.

James Morier was an artist as well as an author. The bulk of the
illustrations in his two journeys were reproduced from his own drawings;
and he left upon his death a number of scrap-books, whose unpublished
contents are, I believe, not unlikely to see the light. In the Preface
to the second edition of Hajji Baba he also spoke of ‘numerous notes
which his long residence in Persia would have enabled him to add,’ but
which his reluctance to increase the size of the work led him to omit.
These, if they ever existed in a separate form, are no longer in the
possession of his family, and may therefore be presumed to have ceased
to exist. Their place can now only be ineffectually supplied, as in
the present instance, by the observations of later travellers over the
familiar ground, and of inferior gleaners in the same still prolific

Such was the historic _mise-en-scène_ in which James Morier penned his
famous satire. I next turn to the work itself. The idea of criticising,
and still more of satirising, a country or a people under the guise of
a fictitious narrator is familiar in the literature of many lands. More
commonly the device adopted is that of introducing upon the scene the
denizen of some other country or clime. Here, as in the case of the
immortal Gil Blas of Santillane, with whom Hajji Baba has been not
inaptly compared, the infinitely more difficult plan is preferred of
exposing the foibles of a people through the mouth of one of their own
nationality. Hajji Baba is a Persian of the Persians, typical not merely
of the life and surroundings, but of the character and instincts and
manner of thought of his countrymen. And yet it is from his lips that
flows the delightful stream of naive confession and mordant sarcasm
that never seems either ill-natured or artificial, that lashes without
vindictiveness, and excoriates without malice. In strict ratio, however,
to the verisimilitude of the performance, must be esteemed the talents
of the non-Oriental writer, who was responsible for so lifelike a
creation. No man could, have written or could now write such a book
unless he were steeped and saturated, not merely in Oriental experience,
but in Oriental forms of expression and modes of thought. To these
qualifications must be added great powers of insight and long
observation. James Morier spent less than six years in Persia; and yet
in a lifetime he could scarcely have improved upon the quality of his
diagnosis. If the scenic and poetic accessories of a Persian picture
are (except in the story of Yusuf and Mariam and a few other instances)
somewhat wanting, their comparative neglect is more than compensated
by the scrupulous exactitude of the dramatic properties with which is
invested each incident in the tale. The hero, a characteristic Persian
adventurer, one part good fellow, and three parts knave, always the
plaything of fortune--whether barber, water-carrier, pipe-seller,
dervish, doctor’s servant, sub-executioner, scribe and mollah,
outcast, vender of pipe-sticks, Turkish merchant, or secretary to an
ambassador--equally accepting her buffets and profiting by her caresses,
never reluctant to lie or cheat or thieve, or get the better of anybody
else in a warfare where every one was similarly engaged in the effort to
get the better of him, and equipped with the ready casuistry to justify
any transgression of the moral code, Hajji Baba never strikes a really
false chord, or does or says anything intrinsically improbable; but,
whether in success or adversity, as a victim of the roguery of others,
or as a rogue himself, is faithful to a type of human character which
modern times and a European surrounding are incapable of producing, but
which is natural to a state of society in which men live by their wits,
where the scullion of one day may be the grandee of the next, and the
loftiest is not exempt from the extreme vicissitudes of fortune, and in
which a despotic sovereign is the apex of a half-civilised community of
jealous and struggling slaves.

Perhaps the foibles of the national character upon which the author is
most severe are those of imposture in the diverse and artistic shapes
in which it is practised by the modern Persian. He delights in stripping
bare the sham piety of the austere Mohammedan, the gullibility of
the pilgrims to the sacred shrines, the sanctimonious humbug of the
lantern-jawed devotees of Kum. One of his best portraits is that of
the wandering dervish, who befriends and instructs, and ultimately robs
Hajji Baba, and who thus explains the secrets of his trade:--

  ‘It is not great learning that is required to make a dervish; assurance
  is the first ingredient. By impudence I have been a prophet, by
  impudence I have wrought miracles, by impudence I have restored the
  dying to health--by impudence, in short, I lead a life of great ease,
  and am feared and respected by those who, like you, do not know what
  dervishes are.’

Equally unsparing is his exposure of the reputed pillars of the Church,
_mollahs_ and _mûshteheds_, as illustrated by his excellent stories of
the Mollah Bashi of Tehran, and of the mollah Nadan. He ridicules the
combined ignorance and pretensions of the native quacks, who have in
nowise improved since his day. He assumes, as he still might safely do,
the venality of the _kadi_ or official interpreter of the law. He places
upon the lips of an old Curd a candid but unflattering estimate of the
Persian character, ‘whose great and national vice is lying, and whose
weapons, instead of the sword and spear, are treachery, deceit, and
falsehood’--an estimate which he would find no lack of more recent
evidence to corroborate. And he revels in his tales of Persian
cowardice, whether it be at the mere whisper of a Turcoman foray, or in
conflict with the troops of a European Power, putting into the mouth
of one of his characters the famous saying which it is on record that
a Persian commander of that day actually employed: ‘O Allah, Allah, if
there was no dying in the case, how the Persians would fight!’ In this
general atmosphere of cheerful rascality and fraud an agreeable climax
is reached when Hajji Baba is all but robbed of his patrimony by his own
mother! It is the predominance in the narrative of these and other
of the less attractive aspects of Persian character that has led some
critics, writing from the charitable but ill-informed distance of an
English arm-chair, to deprecate the apparent insensibility of the author
to the more amiable characteristics of the Iranian people. Similarly,
though doubtless with an additional instigation of ambassadorial
prudence, Sir Harford Jones-Brydges, Morier’s own chief, wrote in the
Introduction to his own Report of his Mission to the Persian Court these

  ‘One may allow oneself to smile at some of the pages of “Hajji Baba”;
  but it would be just as wise to estimate the national character of the
  Persians from the adventures of that fictitious person, as it would be
  to estimate the national character of the Spaniards from those of Don
  Raphael or his worthy coadjutor, Ambrose de Lamela.... Knowing the
  Persians as well as I do, I will boldly say the greater part of their
  vices originate in the vices of their Government, while such virtues as
  they do possess proceed from qualities of the mind.’

To this nice, but, as I think, entirely affected discrimination between
the sources respectively of Persian virtues and vices, it might be
sufficient answer to point out that in “Hajji Baba” Morier takes up the
pen of the professional satirist, an instrument which no satirist worthy
of the name from Juvenal to Swift has ever yet dipped in honey or in
treacle alone. But a more candid and certainly a more amusing reply was
that which Morier himself received, after the publication of the book,
from the Persian envoy whom he had escorted to England. This was how the
irritated ambassador wrote:

  ‘What for you write “Hajji Baba,” sir? King very angry, sir. I swear
  him you never write lies; but he say, yes--write. All people very angry
  with you, sir. That very bad book, sir. All lies, sir. Who tell you all
  these lies, sir? What for you not speak to me? Very bad business, sir.
  _Persian people very bad people, perhaps, but very good to you, sir._
  What for you abuse them so bad?’

There is a world of unconscious admission in the sentence which I have
italicised, and which may well stand in defence of Morier’s caustic, but
never malicious, satire.

There is, however, to my mind, a deeper interest in the book than
that which arises from its good-humoured flagellation of Persian
peccadilloes. Just as no one who is unacquainted with the history and
leading figures of the period can properly appreciate Sir Thomas More’s
“Utopia,” or “Gulliver’s Travels,” so no one who has not sojourned in
Persia, and devoted considerable study to contemporary events, can form
any idea of the extent to which “Hajji Baba” is a picture of actual
personages, and a record of veritable facts. It is no frolic of
imaginative satire only; it is a historical document. The figures that
move across the stage are not pasteboard creations, but the living
personalities, disguised only in respect of their names, with whom
Morier was brought daily into contact while at Tehran. The majority
of the incidents so skilfully woven into the narrative of the hero’s
adventures actually occurred, and can be identified by the student
who is familiar with the incidents of the time. Above all, in its
delineation of national customs, the book is an invaluable contribution
to sociology, and conveys a more truthful and instructive impression of
Persian habits, methods, points of view, and courses of action, than
any disquisition of which I am aware in the more serious volumes of
statesmen, travellers, and men of affairs. I will proceed to identify
some of these personages and events.

No more faithful portrait is contained in the book than that of
the king, Fath Ali Shah, the second of the Kajar Dynasty, and the
great-grandfather of the reigning Shah. His vanity and ostentation,
his passion for money and for women, his love of flattery, his discreet
deference, to the priesthood (illustrated by his annual pilgrimage, in
the garb of penance, to the shrine of Fatima at Kum), his royal state,
his jewels, and his ambrosial beard, form the background of every
contemporary work, and are vividly reproduced in these pages. The
royal processions, whether in semi-state when he visited the house of a
subject, or in full state when he went abroad from the capital, and
the annual departure of the royal household for the summer camp at
Sultanieh, are drawn from the life. Under the present Shah they have
been shorn of a good deal of their former splendour. The Grand Vizier
of the narrative, ‘that notorious minister, decrepit in person,
and nefarious in conduct,’ ‘a little old man, famous for a hard and
unyielding nature,’ was Mirza Sheffi who was appointed by Fath Ali
Shah to succeed if Ibrahim, the minister to whom his uncle had owed
his throne, and whom the nephew repaid by putting to death. The
Amin-ed-Dowleh, or Lord High Treasurer, ‘a large, coarse man, and the
son of a greengrocer of Ispahan,’ was Mohammed Hussein Khan, the second
personage of Court. Only a slight verbal change is needed to transform
Hajji Baba’s master, Mirza Ahmak, the king’s chief physician into
Mirza Ahmed, the _Hakîm Bashi_ of Fath Ali Shah. Namerd Khan, the
chief executioner, and subsequent chief of the hero, whose swaggering
cowardice is so vividly depicted, was, in actual life, Feraj Ullah Khan.
The commander of the King’s Camel Corps, who had to give up his house to
the British _Elchi_, was Mohammed Khan. The Poet Laureate of the story,
Asker Khan, shared the name of his sovereign, Fath Ali Khan; and the
story of his mouth being filled on one occasion with gold coins, and
stuffed on another with sugar-candy, as a mark of the royal approbation,
is true. The serdar of Erivan, ‘an abandoned sensualist, but liberal
and enterprising,’ was one Hassan Khan; and the romantic tale of the
Armenians, Yûsûf and Mariam, down to the minutest details, such as the
throwing of a hand-grenade into one of the subterranean dwellings of the
Armenians, and the escape of the girl by leaping from a window of the
serdar’s palace at Erivan, is a reproduction of incidents that actually
occurred in the Russo-Persian war of that date. Finally, Mirza Firouz
Khan, the Persian envoy to Great Britain, and the hero of “Hajji Baba
in England”, is a portrait of Mirza Abul Hassan Khan, a nephew of the
former Grand Vizier, who visited London as the Shah’s representative
in 1809-10, and who was subsequently sent on a similar mission to
Petersburg. This individual made a considerable sensation in England by
his excellent manners and witty retorts, among which one is worthy of
being quoted that does not appear in Morier’s pages. When asked by
a lady in London whether they did not worship the sun in Persia, he
replied, ‘Oh yes, madam, and so would you in England too, if you ever
saw him!’

The international politics of the time are not without their serious
place in the pages of “Hajji Baba.” The French ambassador who is
represented in chapter lxxiv. as retiring in disgrace from Tehran, was
Napoleon’s emissary, General Gardanne, who, after his master had signed
the Peace of Tilsit with the Tsar, found a very different estimate of
the value of the French alliance entertained by the Persian Court.
The English embassy, whose honorific reception is described in chapter
lxxvii., was that of Sir Harford Jones. The disputes about hats, and
chairs, and stockings, and other points of divergence between English
and Persian etiquette, are historical; and a contemporary oil-painting
of the first audience with the Shah, as described by Morier, still
exists on the walls of the royal palace of Negaristan in the Persian
capital. There may be seen the portraits of Sir Harford Jones and Sir
John Malcolm, as well as of General Gardanne, grouped by a pardonable
anachronism in the same picture. There is the king with his spider’s
waist and his lordly beard; and there are the princes and the ministers
of whom we have been reading. The philanthropic efforts of the
Englishmen to force upon the reluctant Persians the triple boon of
vaccination, post-mortem examinations, and potatoes, are also authentic.

Quite a number of smaller instances may be cited in which what appears
only as an incident or an illustration in the story is in reality a
historical fact. It is the case that the Turcoman freebooters did on
more than one occasion push their _alamans_ or raids as far even as
Ispahan. The tribe by whom Hajji Baba is taken captive in the opening
chapters is seemingly rather the Yomuts beyond Atrek River than the
Tekke Turcomans of Akhal Tekke. I have myself ridden over the road
between Abbasabad and Shahrud, where they were in the habit of swooping
down upon the defenceless and terror-stricken caravans; and the
description of the panic which they created among vastly superior
numbers of Persians is in nowise exaggerated. The pillar of skulls which
Aga Mohammed Shah is represented as having erected in chapter vii. was
actually raised by that truculent eunuch at Bam in Persian Beluchistan,
and was there noticed by an English traveller, Sir Henry Pottinger, in
1810. I have seen the story of the unhappy Zeenab and her fate described
a review of “Hajji Baba” as more characteristic of the seraglio at
Stamboul than of the harem at Tehran. This is an ignorant remark; for
this form of execution was more than once inflicted during the reign of
Fath Ali Shah. At Shiraz there still exists a deep well in the mountain
above city, down which, until recently, women convicted of adultery were
hurled; and when I was at Bokhara in 1888 there had, in the preceding
year, been more than one case of execution by being thrown from the
summit of the Minari-Kalan or Great Minaret. It is an interesting
but now well-nigh forgotten fact that the Christian dervish who is
represented in chapter lix. as publicly disputing with the _mollahs_ in
a _medresseh_ at Ispahan, and as writing a refutation of the Mohammedan
creed, was no other than the famous Henry Martyn, who created a
prodigious sensation by the fearlessness of his polemics while at
Shiraz, and who subsequently died at Tokat, in Asiatic Turkey, in 1812.
The incidental mention of the great diamond or ‘Mountain of Light’ that
was worn by Fath Ali Shah in one of his _bazubands_ or armlets, though
historically inaccurate, is also of interest to English readers;
since the jewel alluded to is the Daria-i-Nur or Sea of Light, the
sister-stone to the Koh-i-Nur or Mountain of Light, which, in the
previous century, had been carried from Persia to Afghanistan, and in
this century passed through the hands of Runjit Singh, the Lion of the
Punjab, into the regalia of the British crown. The ‘Sea of Light’ is
still at Tehran.

In two respects the Persia of “Hajji Baba” differs notably from the
Persia of to-day. The national, and still more the court dress, as
depicted by him, have been considerably modified. The Kashmir shawls and
turbans, and the red-cloth gaiters, which were _de rigueur_ at the court
of Fath Ali Shah, are now only seen at the _salams_ or official levees
of Nasr-ed-Din Shah. Nor does the young dandy of modern Tehran wear the
lofty black sheepskin _kolah_ or hat, indented at the top and stuck on
sideways, as described by Morier. A lower and less pretentious variety
of the same head-gear adorns the brow of the _fin de siècle_ Iranian
gallant. Secondly, the Tehran of “Hajji Baba” has been transmogrified
almost out of existence; and, in particular, the fortified Ark or Palace
of the earlier Kajars, with its watch-towers and the open porch over
the gates in which the king sat to see reviews, and the lofty octagonal
tower from which Zeenab was thrown, have been entirely obliterated in
the more spacious architectural reconstruction of the reigning Shah.

Unchanged, however, are those customs by which now, as then, the royal
coffers require to be replenished or the royal purse relieved by the
application of a judicious spur to the backward generosity of the
subjects of the King of Kings. Still, as described in “Hajji Baba,”
is the visit of the Sovereign to any of his officials the recognised
intimation that a large money equivalent is expected for the unsolicited
honour. Still must the presents of the king be repaid by gifts of more
than corresponding value to the bearers of the royal favour. Still
is the sending of the royal _khalat_ or dress of office adopted as an
ingenious method of discharging the arrears of wages due to the royal
ministers or servants. In chapter xxxiii. the sub-lieutenant to the
chief executioner gives an admirable account, as true now as when
penned, of the methods by which salaries are capable of being recruited
in Persia; and the speech of the grand vizier in chapter lxxviii.,
on political morality as interpreted in that country, would, I am
confident, have been enthusiastically re-echoed by every subsequent
incumbent of that high office.

The art, however, in which Morier especially excels is of introducing,
so to speak by a side wind, as a subordinate incident in the narrative,
or as a spontaneous comment on the lips of the various _dramatis
personae_, informing and luminous knowledge upon the local charactistics
of places, or the social customs of peoples. For instance, he takes
advantage of being at Meshed to bring in the passion-play of Hussein, as
annually enacted by the Shiah Mohammedans in the month of Moharrem; of
mentioning Herat to introduce the _bad-i-sad-o-bist-ruz_ or famous ‘wind
of 120 days’; of conducting his hero to Kum, to describe the curious
prescription of _bast_ or sanctuary that still adheres to that sacred
spot; and of his arrival at Bagdad, to inflict upon him the familiar
pest of the Bagdad pimple. His description of camp-life among the
Turcomans is only surpassed in fidelity by his corresponding picture of
the vagrant existence of the border Cûrds; nor is there anywhere to
be found a more dramatic realisation of the incidents of a nomad
encampment, the arrangement and meals and etiquette, the striking of
the tents, and the straggling march of the tribes with their flocks
and herds, than in the narrative of the child-hood of the Cûrdish slave

It is to be noted that Morier represents her as a Yezeedi or
devil-worshipper (though it is more than doubtful whether the Yezeedis
could ever with justice be so described), and attributes her origin to
one of the incestuous nocturnal orgies that were said to be practised by
that people, and that gave rise to the epithet Chiragh Sunderun, or Lamp
Extinguishers. It is to be observed, however, that in such a case
Zeenab would have known her parentage on the maternal rather than on
the paternal side; whereas Morier, by a curious error, represents her
as knowing her father, but being in ignorance of the identity of her

In different chapters of “Hajji Baba” we are further initiated into the
domestic life and habits of the Persians. We learn that it is considered
a mark of respect for a man to keep his hands and feet hidden beneath
the folds of his dress. In two places we have mention of the profoundly
Persian device of conforming with the letter, while trifling with
the spirit of the religious law, by neatly ripping open a seam as a
substitute for rending the fabric of a garment in token of woe. We are
reminded of the prohibition from exacting interest that is imposed
upon the true believer, and of the still common custom of divination by
extracting a _fall_ from the pages of Hafiz or Saadi. We may gain a good
deal of information about the culinary methods of Turcomans, Persians,
and Cûrds; the operations of the _hammam_ or bath are disclosed to
us, and we are surreptitously introduced along with the hero to the
mysteries the Persian harem or _anderûn_, and its petty existence,
inane frivolity, open jealousy, and clandestine intrigue. The death and
funeral of the old barber provide an opportunity for a valuable account
of Persian customs upon those occasions.

Similarly the story of Yûsûf and Mariam is utilised to furnish an
equally interesting description of the Armenian ritual in cases of
betrothal and marriage. Incidentally the return of the poet Asker from
his captivity among the Turcomans acquaints us with the curious habit of
bringing back a person supposed to be dead, not by the door, but through
the roof; and when Hajji Baba, from the terrace of the doctor’s house,
listens to ‘the distant din of the king’s band, the crash of the drums,
and the swell of the trumpets, announcing sunset,’ he is alluding to a
custom that has prevailed for centuries in all the Mohammedan courts
of Central Asia and India, that is supposed to be a relic of extinct
sun-worship, and that is still observed in seats of royal or princely
rule, alike at Tehran, Ispahan and Kabul.

Mention should not be omitted, in passing, of the perfect familiarity
of the author both with cultured and colloquial Persian and with the
Persian classics. An Oriental metaphor, however hyperbolical, slips as
easily from his lips as though it had always rested there. Quotations
from Hafiz and Saadi play as large and as apposite a part in his
dialogue as they do to this day in the conversation of any well-educated
Asiatic who has been brought up in countries where Persian is the
language of literature and fashion. No one who has not been in the East
can fully appreciate the talent for self-detachment and for successful
assimilation of an alien mode of thought and expression which such an
exercise demands.

Nor, though this is beside the main purpose of the work, should we shut
our eyes to the side-lights which are thrown upon foreign nations;
and which, while they lend additional testimony to the insight of the
writer, are invaluable as showing the point of view from which European
institutions and customs were then and are still for the most part
regarded by the Asiatic Mussulman. How amusing is the description,
placed in chapter xix., in the mouth of the Chief Physician, of the main
external differences between Persians and Europeans, and in the ensuing
chapter, of the contemporary costume, regarded by the Persians as so
improper, of the English doctor who came in the train of Sir Harford
Jones. In those days the only Feringhis known to the Persians were the
English, the Russians, and the French; and it no doubt was a matter of
genuine surprise to the Persian ambassador to find when he arrived at
Constantinople that the Franks consisted of many nations with as many
kings. The Persians were particularly concerned to find out the truth
about ‘the infidel Boonapoort,’ whose career they much admired from its
supposed resemblance to that of their own hero Nadir Shah. Nor is there
less humour in Hajji Baba’s attempt to make progress in the study of
their language by writing down the words that he heard most frequently
in the conversation of the French envoys, viz. sacré, Paris, and
l’Empereur. That the Persian Court was thoroughly alive to the jealous
and interested struggle of the two Powers, England and France, to
acquire political ascendency at Tehran, is sufficiently evident from the
history of the period, but is admirably illustrated by the diplomatic
argument placed in chapter lxxvi in the mouth of Fath Ali Shah. Finally,
can a pupil of Party Government, and much more a member of the House of
Commons, read without a delicious emotion this description of the system
under which is conducted the government of the greatest empire in the

  ‘Then they have certain houses full of madmen, who meet half the year
  round for the purpose of quarrelling. If one set says white, the other
  cries black; and they throw more words away in settling a common
  question than would suffice one of our _muftis_ during a whole reign.
  In short, nothing can be settled in the state, be it only whether a
  rebellious Aga is to have his head cut off and his property
  confiscated, or some such trifle, until these people have wrangled.’

Such are among the many merits of this admirable, and, I would fain add,
immortal book. Even were the Persians be blotted out of existence as
a nation, even though Tehran, and Meshed, and Shiraz were to share
the fate of Persepolis and Susa, it would yet remain as a portrait of
unrivalled humour and accuracy of a people who, though now in
their decadence, have played an immense and still play a not wholly
insignificant part in the complex drama of Asiatic politics. It is the
picture of a people, light-hearted, nimble-witted, and volatile, but
subtle, hypocritical, and insincere; metaphysicians and casuists,
courtiers and rogues, gentlemen and liars, _hommes d’esprit_ and yet
incurable cowards. To explain the history and to elucidate the character
of this composite people great tomes have been written. I am conscious
myself of having added no inconsiderable quota to their bulk; but if
all this solid literature were to be burned by an international hangman
to-morrow, and were “Hajji Baba” and the “Sketches” of Sir John Malcolm
alone to survive, I believe that the future diplomatist or traveller who
visited Persia, or the scholar who explored it from a distance, would
from their pages derive more exact information about Persian manners,
and acquire a surer insight into Persian character, than he would gain
from years of independent study or months of local residence. Together
the two works are an epitome of modern and moribund Iran.




Of Hajji Baba’s birth and education.


Hajji Baba commences his travels--His encounter with the Turcomans, and
his captivity.


Into what hands Hajji Baba falls, and the fortune which his razors
proved to him.


Of his ingenuity in rescuing his master’s money from the Turcoman, and
of his determination to keep it.


Hajji Baba becomes a robber in his own defence, and invades his native


Concerning the three prisoners taken by the Turcomans, and of the booty
made in the caravanserai.


Hajji Baba evinces a feeling disposition--History of the poet Asker.


Hajji Baba escapes from the Turcomans--The meaning of ‘falling from the
frying-pan into the fire’ illustrated.


Hajji Baba, in his distress, becomes a saka, or water-carrier.


He makes a soliloquy, and becomes an itinerant vendor of smoke.


History of Dervish Sefer, and of two other dervishes.


Hajji Baba finds that fraud does not remain unpunished, even in this
world--He makes fresh plans.


Hajji Baba leaves Meshed, is cured of his sprain, and relates a story.


Of the man he meets, and the consequences of the encounter.


Hajji Baba reaches Tehran, and goes to the poet’s house.


He makes plans for the future, and is involved in a quarrel.


He puts on new clothes, goes to the bath, and appears in a new


The poet returns from captivity--the consequences of it for Hajji Baba.


Hajji Baba gets into the service of the king’s physician--Of the manner
he was first employed by him.


He succeeds in deceiving two of the faculty, getting a pill from one,
and a piece of gold from the other.


He describes the manner in which the Shah of Persia takes medicine.


Hajji Baba asks the doctor for a salary, and of the success of his


He becomes dissatisfied with his situation, is idle, and falls in love


He has an interview with the fair Zeenab, who relates how she passes her
time in the doctor’s harem.


The lovers meet again, and are very happy--Hajji Baba sings.


The history of Zeenab, the Cûrdish slave.


Of the preparations made by the chief physician to receive the Shah as
his guest, and of the great expense which threatened him.


Concerning the manner of the Shah’s reception; of the present made him,
and the conversation which ensued.


A description of the entertainment, which is followed by an event
destructive to Hajji Baba’s happiness.


Hajji Baba meets with a rival in the Shah himself, and loses the fair
object of his affections.


His reflections on the loss of Zeenab--He is suddenly called upon to
exert his skill as a doctor.


Hajji is appointed to a situation under government--He becomes an


He accompanies the Shah to his camp, and gets some insight into his


Employed in his official capacity, Hajji Baba gives a specimen of
Persian despotism.


Fortune, which pretended to frown, in fact smiles upon Hajji Baba, and
promotes him to be sub-lieutenant to the chief executioner.


Although by trade an executioner, he shows a feeling heart--He meets
with a young man and woman in distress.


The history of Yûsûf, the Armenian, and his wife Mariam.


Sequel of the foregoing history, and of the resolution which Hajji Baba
takes in consequence.


The Armenian Yûsûf proves himself worthy of Hajji Baba’s confidence.


Hajji Baba gives an account of his proceedings to his superiors, and
shows himself a friend to the distressed.


He describes an expedition against the Russians, and does ample justice
to the cowardice of his chief.


He proceeds to the king’s camp, and gives a specimen of lying on a grand


He relates a horrid tale, the consequences of which plunge him in the
greatest misery.


Hajji Baba meets with an old friend, who cheers him up, gives him good
advice, and secures him from danger.


He takes refuge in a sanctuary, where his melancholy thoughts are
diverted by a curious story.


He becomes a saint, and associates with the most celebrated divine in


Hajji Baba is robbed by his friend, and left utterly destitute; but is
released from his confinement.


Hajji Baba reaches Ispahan, and his paternal roof, just time enough to
close the eyes of his dying father.


He becomes heir to property which is not to be found, and his suspicions


Showing the steps he takes to discover his property, and who the
diviner, Teez Negah, was.


Of the diviner’s success in making discoveries, and of the resolution
which Hajji Baba takes in consequence.


Hajji Baba quits his mother, and becomes the scribe to a celebrated man
of the law.


The mollah Nadân gives an account of his new scheme for raising money,
and for making men happy.


Hajji Baba becomes a promoter of matrimony, and of the register he


Of the man Hajji Baba meets, thinking him dead; and of the marriage
which he brings about.


Showing how the ambition of the mollah Nadân involves both him and his
disciples in ruin.


Hajji Baba meets with an extraordinary adventure in the bath, which
miraculously saves him from the horrors of despair.


Of the consequences of the adventure, which threaten danger, but end in
apparent good fortune.


Hajji Baba does not shine in honesty--The life and adventures of the
mollah Nadân.


Hajji and the mollah make plans suited to their critical situation,
showing that no confidence can exist between rogues.


The punishment due to Hajji Baba falls upon Nadân, which makes the
former a staunch predestinarian.


Hajji Baba hears an extraordinary sequel to his adventure in the bath,
and feels all the alarms of guilt.


He is discovered and seized, but his good stars again befriend and set
him free.


He reaches Bagdad, meets his first master, and turns his views to


He purchases pipe-sticks, and inspires a hopeless passion in the breast
of his old master’s daughter.


He becomes a merchant, leaves Bagdad, and accompanies a caravan to


Hajji Baba makes a conquest of the widow of an emir, which at first
alarms, but afterwards elates him.


He obtains an interview with the fair Shekerleb, makes a settlement upon
her, and becomes her husband.


From a vender of pipe-sticks he becomes a rich Aga, but feels all the
inconvenience of supporting a false character.


His desire to excite envy lays the foundation of his disgrace--He
quarrels with his wife.


He is discovered to be an impostor, loses his wife, and the wide world
is again before him.


An incident in the street diverts his despair--He seeks consolation in
the advice of old Osman.


In endeavouring to gain satisfaction from his enemies he acquires a
friend--Some account of Mirza Firouz.


He becomes useful to an ambassador, who makes him a partaker of his


Of his first essays in public life, and of the use he was to his


Hajji Baba writes the history of Europe and with his ambassador returns
to Persia.


The ceremony of receiving a Frank ambassador at the court is described.


Hajji is noticed by the grand vizier, and is the means of gratifying
that minister’s favourite passion.


Of the manner in which he turned his influence to use, and how he was
again noticed by the vizier.


The conclusion--Misfortune seems to take leave of Hajji Baba, who
returns to his native city a greater man than when he first left.


Hajji shaves the camel-driver.

The chaoûsh tells what he will do when he meets the robbers.

Hajji’s master and the great Turkoman.

Hajji Baba bleeds the Banou.

Turcomans attack the caravanserai.

The prince’s tent-pitcher strikes Hajji over the mouth with his slipper.

Hajji carries the great water-sack.

The dervish slays the ape.

Hajji and the disguised Mohtesib.

Hajji receives the ferosles.

Hajji is cauterised for his sprain.

The shaving of the ass.

‘I pretended to receive a violent twitch.’

Hajji and Zeenab.

Hajji sings to Zeenab.

The khanum ill-treats Zeenab.

The procession of slaves before the Shah.

‘An explosion took place in the very room.’

‘I beheld her fair form in the air, falling down the giddy height.’

The two Russians drive back the Persians.

Death of Zeenab.

Hajji takes sanctuary.

The baked head.

‘“O mercy! mercy!” cried Kior Ali.’

‘To where the dead body of a Jew lay extended.’

Hajji’s father dying.

The diviner and the rice.

Hajji interviews the fair candidates for marriage.

The mock marriage.

The degradation of Hajji and the mollah.

Drowning of the mollah bashi.

Hajji in the mollah bashi’s house.

Hajji leaves the village hurriedly after collecting the money.

Hajji meets Osman Aga again.

The curing of Hajji Baba.

Shekerleb approaches Hajji.

Hajji curses Shekerleb and her relations.

Hajji disrobes.

Hajji relates his story to Mirza Firouz.

The British ambassadors and the Shah.



ESTEEMED AND LEARNED SIR, You will be astonished to see yourself
addressed by one, of whose existence you are, perhaps, ignorant, and
whose name doubtless long since been erased from your memory. But when
I put you in mind of an English traveller, who (forgive my precision)
sixteen years ago was frequently admitted to enjoy the pleasure of your
conversation, and who was even honoured with a peculiar share of your
attention, perhaps then you may indulgently recollect him, and patiently
submit to peruse the following volumes, to which he now takes the
liberty of prefixing your name.

At the time to which I allude, your precious hours were employed in
searching into the very depths of hieroglyphic lore, and you were then
almost entirely taken up in putting together the fruits of those your
researches, which have since appeared, and astonished the world in that
very luminous work, entitled “The Biography of Celebrated Mummies.” I
have frequently since reflected upon the debt of gratitude which you
imposed by allowing me to engross so much of your time, and upon matters
of comparatively trivial importance, when your mind must have been
so much engaged upon those grave and weighty subjects, which you have
treated with such vast learning, clearness, and perspicuity in your
above-mentioned treatise. In particular I have ever borne in mind a
conversation when one beautiful moonlight night, reclining upon a sofa
of the Swedish palace, and looking out of those windows which command
so magnificent and extensive a view of the city and harbour of
Constantinople, we discussed subjects which had reference to the life
and manners of the extraordinary people its inhabitants.

Excuse me for reporting back your own words; but as the subject
interested me much, I recollect well the observation you made, that no
traveller had ever satisfied you in his delineation of Asiatic manners;
‘for,’ said you, ‘in in general their mode of treating the subject is
by sweeping assertions, which leave no precise image on the mind, or by
disjointed and insulated facts, which, for the most part, are only of
consequence as they relate to the individual traveller himself.’ We were
both agreed, that of all the books which have ever been published on the
subject, the “Arabian Nights’ Entertainments” give the truest picture of
the Orientals, and that, for the best of all reasons, because it is the
work of one of their own community. ‘But,’ said you, ‘notwithstanding
they have been put into an European dress, weeded of their numerous
repetitions, and brought as near to the level of our ideas as can be,
still few would be likely to understand them thoroughly who have not
lived some time in the East, and who have not had frequent opportunities
of associating with its inhabitants. For,’ you added, opening a volume
of that work at the same time, ‘to make a random observation upon the
first instance which occurs here in the history of the three Calendars,
I see that Anima, after having requested the porter whom she had met to
follow her with his basket, stopped at a closed door, and having rapped,
a Christian with a long white beard opened it, into whose hand she put
some money without saying a single word. But the Christian, who knew
what she wanted, went in again, and a little while after returned,
bringing a large pitcher full of excellent wine.’ You observed, ‘that
although we who lived in Turkey might know that wine was in most cities
prohibited to be sold openly, and that if it was to be found it would be
in the house of a Christian, many of whom disposed of it in a mysterious
manner to the Mohammedans; yet that circumstance would not immediately
occur to the mere European reader, who, perhaps, would expect something
to be forthcoming in the future narrative, from what is, in fact, only a
trait of common life.’

I then suggested, that, perhaps, if an European would give a correct
idea of Oriental manners, which would comprehend an account of the
vicissitudes attendant upon the life of an Eastern, of his feelings
about his government, of his conduct in domestic life, of his hopes and
plans of advancement, of his rivalities and jealousies, in short, of
everything that is connected both with the operations of the mind and
those of the body, perhaps his best method would be to collect so many
facts and anecdotes of actual life as would illustrate the different
stations and ranks which compose a Mussulman community, and then work
them into one connected narrative, upon the plan of that excellent
picture of European life, “Gil Blas” of Le Sage.

To this you were pleased to object, because you deemed it almost
impossible that an European, even supposing him to have rejected his
own faith and adopted the Mohammedan, as in the case of Monsieur de
Bonneval, who rose to high rank in the Turkish government, and of
Messrs. C---- and B---- in more modern times (the former a _Topchi
Bashi_, or general of artillery, the latter an attendant upon the
Capitan Pasha), could ever so exactly seize those nice shades and
distinctions of purpose, in action and manner, which a pure Asiatic only
could. To support your argument, you illustrated it by observing, that
neither education, time, nor talent, could ever give to a foreigner, in
any given country, so complete a possession of its language as to make
him pass for a native; and that, do what he would, some defect in idiom,
or even some too great precision in grammar, would detect him. ‘But,’
said you, ‘if a native Oriental could ever be brought to understand so
much of the taste of Europeans, in investigations of this nature, as to
write a full and detailed history of his own life, beginning with his
earliest education, and going through to its decline, we might then
stand a chance of acquiring the desired knowledge.

This conversation, reverend sir, has remained treasured up in my mind;
for having lived much in Eastern countries, I never lost sight of the
possibility of either falling in with a native who might have written
his own adventures, or of forming such an intimacy with one, as might
induce him faithfully to recite them, and thus afford materials for the
work which my imagination had fondly conceived might be usefully put
together. I have always held in respect most of the customs and habits
of the Orientals, many of which, to the generality of Europeans, appear
so ridiculous and disgusting, because I have ever conceived them to be
copies of ancient originals. For, who can think the custom of eating
with one’s fingers disgusting, as now done in the East, when two or more
put their hands into the same mess, and at the same time read that part
of our sacred history which records, ‘He that dippeth his hand with me
in the dish,’ etc.? I must own, every time that, dining with my Eastern
friends, I performed this very natural operation (although, at the same
time, let it be understood that I have a great respect for knives and
forks), I could not help feeling myself to be a living illustration of
an ancient custom, and a proof of the authenticity of those records
upon which our happiness depends. Whenever I heard the exclamation so
frequently used in Persia, on the occasion of little miseries, ‘What
ashes are fallen on my head!’ instead of seeing anything ridiculous in
the expression, I could not but meditate on the coincidence which
so forcibly illustrated one of the commonest expressions of grief as
recorded in ancient writ.

It is an ingenious expression which I owe to you, sir, that the manners
of the East are, as it were, stereotype. Although I do not conceive that
they are quite so strongly marked, yet, to make my idea understood,
I would say that they are like the last impressions taken from a
copperplate engraving, where the whole of the subject to be represented
is made out, although parts of it from much use have been obliterated.

If I may be allowed the expression, a picturesqueness pervades the whole
being of Asiatics, which we do not find in our own countries, and in
my eyes makes everything relating to them so attractive as to create a
desire to impart to others the impressions made upon myself. Thus, in
viewing a beautiful landscape, the traveller, be he a draughtsman or
not, _tant bien que mal_, endeavours to make a representation of it;
and thus do I apologise for venturing before the public even in the
character of a humble translator.

Impressed with such feelings you may conceive the fulness of my joy,
when not very long after the conversation above mentioned, having
returned to England, I was fortunate enough to be appointed to fill an
official situation in the suite of an ambassador, which our government
found itself under the necessity of sending to the Shah of Persia.
Persia, that imaginary seat of Oriental splendour! that land of poets
and roses! that cradle of mankind, that uncontaminated source of Eastern
manners lay before me, and I was delighted with the opportunities
which would be afforded me of pursuing my favourite subject. I had an
undefined feeling about the many countries I was about to visit, which
filled my mind with vast ideas of travel.

     ‘Sive per Syrtes iter aestuosas,
     Sive facturus per inhospitalem
     Caucasum, vel quae loca fabulosus
     Lambit Hydaspes.’

I was in some degree like a French lady of my acquaintance, who had
so general a notion of the East, that upon taking leave of her, she
enjoined me to get acquainted with a friend of hers, living, as she
said, _quelque part dans les Indes_, and whom, to my astonishment, I
found residing at the _Cape of Good Hope!_

I will not say that all my dreams were realised; for, perhaps, no
country in the world less comes up to one’s expectation than Persia,
whether in the beauties of nature, or the dress and magnificence of its
inhabitants. But in what regards manners and customs, it appears to me
that no Asiatics bear so strong the stamp of an ancient origin as
they. Even in their features I thought to have distinguished a decided
originality of expression; which was confirmed when I remarked, that the
numerous faces seen among the sculptures of Persepolis, so perfect as
if chiselled but yesterday, were so many likenesses of modern Persians,
more particularly of the natives of the province of Fars.

During my long residence there, I never lost the recollection of our
conversation on the sofa of the Swedish palace; and every time I added
an anecdote or an observation illustrative of Oriental manners to my
store, or a sketch to my collection, I always thought of the Reverend
Doctor Fundgruben, and sighed after that imaginary manuscript which some
imaginary native of the East must have written as a complete exposition
of the life of his countrymen.

I will not say, learned sir, that the years I passed in Persia were
years of happiness, or that during that time I could so far keep up an
illusion, that I was living among the patriarchs in the first ages of
the world, or among those Persians whose monarchs gave laws to almost
the whole of Asia: no, I sighed for shaven chins and swallow-tailed
coats; and, to speak the truth, though addressing an antiquary of your
celebrity, I felt that I would rather be one among the crowd in the
Graben at Vienna, or in our own Bond Street, than at liberty to range in
the ease of solitude among the ruins of the palaces of Darius.

At length the day of my departure came, and I left Persia with books
filled with remarks, and portfolios abounding in original sketches.
My ideas during the journey were wholly taken up with schemes for the
future, and, perhaps, like every other traveller, I nourished a sort of
sly and secret conviction that I had seen and observed things which
no one before me had ever done; and that when I came to publish to the
world the fruits of my discoveries, I should create a sensation equal at
least to the discovery of a new planet.

I passed at the foot of the venerable Mount Ararat, and was fortunate
enough to meet with a favourable moment for traversing the cold regions
of Arminia, _‘nec Armeniis in oris stat glacies iners menses per
omnes’_; and I crossed the dangerous borders of Turkey and Persia
without any event occurring worthy of record. But I must request your
indulgent attention to what befell me at Tocat; for it is to that
occurrence you are indebted for this letter, and the world for the
accompanying volume.

It was at the close of a fatiguing days journey, that I and my escort,
consisting of two Tatars, two servants, and the conductors of our
baggage and post-horses, entered the city of Tocat. Our approach was as
usual announced by the howls of the _Surujees_, who more than usually
exerted their lungs in my service, because they felt that these sounds,
the harbingers of rest and entertainment, could but be agreeable to
weary and jaded travellers like ourselves. The moon was shining bright
as our cavalcade clattered over the long paved road leading to the city,
and lighted up, in awful grandeur, the turret-topped peaks which rear
their heads on the crest of the surrounding abrupt crags. On entering
the post-house, I was immediately conducted into the travellers’ room,
where, having disencumbered myself of my cloak, arms, and heavy boots,
and putting myself at ease in my slippers and loose dress, I quietly
enjoyed, the cup of strong coffee and the _chibouk_, which were
immediately handed to me, and after that my dish of rice, my tough fowl,
and my basin of sour curds.

I was preparing to take my night’s rest on the sofas of the post-house,
where my bed had been spread, when a stranger unceremoniously walked
into the room, and stood before me. I remarked that he was a Persian,
and, by his dress, a servant. At any other moment I should have been
happy to see and converse with him; because having lived so long in
Persia, I felt myself, in some measure, identified with its natives, and
now in a country where both nations were treated with the same degree of
contempt, my fellow-feeling for them became infinitely stronger.

I discovered that he had a tale of misery to unfold, from the very
doleful face that he was pleased to make on the occasion, and I was not
mistaken. It was this,--that his master, one Mirza Hajji Baba, now on
his return from Constantinople, where he had been employed on the Shah’s
business, had fallen seriously ill, and that he had been obliged to stop
at Tocat; that he had taken up his abode at the caravanserai, where he
had already spent a week, during which time he had been attended by a
Frank doctor, an inhabitant of Tocat, who, instead of curing, had, in
fact, brought him to his last gasp,--that having heard of my arrival
from Persia, he had brightened up and requested, without loss of time,
that I would call upon him, for he was sure the presence of one coming
from his own country would alone restore him to health. In short, his
servant, as is usual on such occasions, finished his speech by saying,
that, with the exception of God and myself, he had nothing left to
depend upon in this life.

I immediately recollected who Mirza Hajji Baba was; for though I had
lost sight of him for several years, yet once on a time I had seen much
of him, and had taken great interest in everything that regarded him,
owing to his having been in England, whither, in quality of secretary,
he accompanied the first ambassador which Persia had sent in modern
times. He had since been employed in various ways in the government,
sometimes in high, and sometimes in lower situations, undergoing the
vicissitudes which are sure to attend every Persian; and at length had
been sent to Constantinople, as resident agent at the Porte on the part
of the Shah.

I did not hesitate an instant, tired and jaded as I was, immediately
to accompany his servant; and in the same garb in which I was, only
throwing a cloak over my shoulders, I walked in all haste to the

There, on a bed spread in the middle of a small room, surrounded by
several of his servants, I found the sick Mirza, looking more like
a corpse than a living body. When I had first known him he was a
remarkably handsome man, with a fine aquiline nose, oval face, an
expressive countenance, and a well-made person. He had now passed the
meridian of life, but his features were still fine, and his eye full of
fire. As soon as he saw he recognised me, and the joy which he felt at
the meeting broke out in a great animation of his features, and in the
thousand exclamations so common to a Persian’s lips.

‘See,’ said he, ‘what a fortunate destiny mine is, that at a moment
when I thought the angel of death was about to seize me for his own, the
angel of life comes and blows a fresh existence into my nostrils.’

After his first transports were over, I endeavoured to make him explain
what was the nature of his complaint, and how it had hitherto been
treated. I saw enough by his saffron hue, that bile was the occasion of
his disorder; and, as I had had great experience in treating it during
my stay in Persia, I did not hesitate to cheer up his hopes by an
assurance of being able to relieve him.

‘What can I say?’ said he. ‘I thought at first that I had been struck
with the plague. My head ached intensely, my eyes became dim, I had a
pain in my side, and a nauseous taste in my mouth, and expected to die
on the third day; but no, the symptoms still continue, and I am alive.
As soon as I arrived here, I enquired for a physician, and was told
there were two practitioners in the town, a Jew and a Frank. Of course I
chose the latter; but ’tis plain, that my evil star had a great deal to
say in the choice I made. I have not yet been able to discover to what
tribe among the Franks he belongs,--certainly he is not an Englishman.
But a more extraordinary ass never existed in this world, be his nation
what it may. I began by telling him that I was very, very ill. All he
said in answer, with a grave face, was “_Mashallah!_ Praise be to God!”
and when, in surprise and rage, I cried out, “But I shall die, man!”
with the same grave face, he said, “_Inshallah!_ Please God!” My
servants were about to thrust him from the room, when they found that
he knew nothing of our language excepting these two words, which he had
only learnt to misapply. Supposing that he still might know something
of his profession, I agreed to take his medicine; but I might have saved
myself the trouble, for I have been daily getting worse.’

Here the Mirza stopped to take breath. I did not permit him to exert
himself further; but, without loss of time, returned the post-house,
applied to my medicine-chest, and prepared a dose of calomel, which was
administered that evening with due solemnity. I then retired to rest.

The next morning I repaired to his bedside, and there, to my great
satisfaction, found that my medicine had performed wonders. The
patient’s eyes were opened, the headache had in great measure ceased,
and he was, in short, a different person. I was received by him and his
servants with all the honours due to the greatest sage, and they could
not collect words sufficiently expressive of their admiration of my
profound skill. As they were pouring forth their thanks and gratitude,
looking up I saw a strange figure in the room, whose person I must take
the liberty to describe, so highly ludicrous and extravagant did it
appear. He was of the middle size, rather inclined to be corpulent, with
thick black eyebrows, dark eyes, a three days’ beard, and mustachios.
He wore the Turkish bag dress, from his shoulders downwards, yellow
_pabouches_, shawl to his waist, and carried a long cane in his hand;
but from his shoulders up he was an European, a neckcloth, his hair
dressed in the _aile de pigeon_ fashion, a thick tail clubbed, and
over all an old-fashioned, three-cornered laced hat. This redoubtable
personage made me a bow, and at the same time accosted me in Italian. I
was not long in discovering that he was my rival the doctor, and that he
was precisely what, from the description of the Mirza, I expected him
to be, viz. an itinerant quack, who, perhaps, might once have mixed
medicines in some apothecary’s shop in Italy or Constantinople, and who
had now set up for himself in this remote corner of Asia where he might
physic and kill at his pleasure.

I did not shrink from his acquaintance, because I was certain that
the life and adventures of such a person must be highly curious and
entertaining, and I cordially encouraged him in his advances, hoping
thus to acquire his confidence.

He very soon informed me who he was, and what were his pursuits, and
did not seem to take the least umbrage at my having prescribed for
his patient without previously consulting him. His name was Ludovico
Pestello, and he pretended to have studied at Padua, where he had
got his diploma. He had not long arrived at Constantinople, with the
intention of setting up for himself, where, finding that the city
overflowed with Esculapii, he was persuaded to accompany a Pasha of two
tails to Tocat, who had recently been appointed to its government, and
was there now established as his body physician. I suspected this story
to be fabrication, and undertook to examine his knowledge of physic,
particularly in the case of my friend the Persian Mirza. The galimatia
which he unfolded, as we proceeded, was so extremely ridiculous, and he
puzzled himself so entirely by his answers to the plain questions which
I put, that at length, not being able to proceed, he joined, with the
best good-nature possible, in the horse-laugh, from which I could not
refrain. I made him candidly confess that he knew nothing of medicine,
more than having been servant to a doctor of some eminence at Padua,
where he had picked up a smattering; and that, as all his patients were
heretics and abominable Mussulmans, he never could feel any remorse for
those which, during his practice, he had despatched from this world.

‘But, _caro Signor Dottore_,’ said I, ‘how in the name of all that is
sacred, how have you managed hitherto not to have had your bones broken?
Turks are dangerous tools to play with.’

‘Oh,’ said he, in great unconcern, ‘the Turks believe anything, and I
take care never to give them medicine that can do harm.’

‘But you must have drugs, and you must apply them,’ said I. ‘Where are

‘I have different coloured liquids,’ said he, ‘and as long as there is
bread and water to be had I am never at a loss for a pill. I perform
all my cures with them, accompanied by the words _Inshallah_ and

‘Bread and water! wonderful!’ did I exclaim.

‘_Signor, si_,’ said he, ‘I sprinkle my pills with a little flour for
the common people, cover them with gold leaf for my higher patients, the
Agas and the Pasha, and they all swallow them without even a wry face.’

I was so highly amused by the account which this extraordinary fellow
gave of himself, of the life he led, and of the odd adventures which he
had met with, that I invited him to dine; and were it not for the length
which this letter has already run, I should, perhaps, have thought it
right to make partake of my entertainment by retailing his narrative.
I repaid him, as he said, over and above, by presents from my
medicine-chest, which he assured me would be plentifully sufficient to
administer relief to the whole of Asia Minor.

I could not think of leaving the poor Persian in such hands; and feeling
that I might be the means of saving his life, I determined to remain at
Tocat until I saw him out of danger.

After three days’ administration of calomel, Hajji Baba’s complexion was
nearly restored to its original hue; and as he might now be said to be
free from danger, and in a fair way of recovery, I proposed proceeding
on my journey. The poor man could not find words for the expression
of his gratitude, and I saw that he was labouring hard to discover a
present worthy of my acceptance. At length, just before taking my
leave, he desired his servants to leave us alone, and spoke to me in the
following words:--

‘You have saved my life; you are my old friend and my deliverer. What
can I do to show my gratitude? Of worldly goods I have but few: it is
long since I have received any salary from my government, and the little
money I have here will barely suffice, to take me to my own country.
Besides, I know the English,--they are above such considerations; it
would be in vain to offer them a pecuniary reward. But I have that by me
which, perhaps, may have some value in your eyes; I can assure you that
it has in mine. Ever since I have known your nation, I have remarked
their inquisitiveness, and eagerness after knowledge. Whenever I have
travelled with them, I observed they record their observations in books;
and when they return home, thus make their fellow-countrymen acquainted
with the most distant regions of the globe. Will you believe me, that I,
Persian as I am, have followed their example; and that during the period
of my residence at Constantinople, I have passed my time in writing a
detailed history of my life, which, although that of a very obscure and
ordinary individual, is still so full of vicissitude and adventure, that
I think it would not fail to create an interest if published in Europe?
I offer it to you; and in so doing, I assure you that I wish to show
you the confidence I place in your generosity, for I never would have
offered it to any one else. Will you accept it?’

Conceive, my dear sir, conceive my happiness upon hearing this--upon at
length getting into my possession precisely the sort of work which
you so long since had looked upon as a desideratum in the history of
mankind, and which I had utterly despaired of ever seeing in reality.

My eyes, I am sure, glistened with pleasure when I expressed my sense
of the Mirza’s liberality; and as fast as I refused his offer (for I
thought it but generous to do so upon the terms he proposed), the more
he pressed it upon me.

As a further inducement, he said, that he was going back to his country,
uncertain if he enjoyed the favour of the Shah; and as he had freely
expressed his sentiments, which included his observations upon England,
he was afraid, should he be in disgrace, and his work be found upon him,
that it might lead to his destruction.

Unable to withstand these entreaties, I at length acceded to his
request, and became the possessor of the manuscript. It forms the
subject of the following work; and tell me, can I dedicate it to any
but him who first awakened my mind to its value? If you will do me the
favour to peruse it, you will find I have done my best endeavour to
adapt it to the taste of European readers, divesting it of the numerous
repetitions, and the tone of exaggeration and hyperbole which pervade
the compositions of the Easterns; but still you will, no doubt, discover
much of that deviation from truth, and perversion of chronology, which
characterise them. However, of the matter contained in the book, this
I must say, that having lived in the country myself during the time to
which it refers, I find that most of the incidents are grounded upon
fact, which, although not adhered to with that scrupulous regard to
truth which we might expect from an European writer, yet are sufficient
to give an insight into manners. Many of them will, no doubt, appear
improbable to those who have never visited the scenes upon which they
were acted; and it is natural it should be so, because, from the nature
of circumstances, such events could only occur in Eastern countries.

A distinct line must ever be drawn between ‘the nations who wear the
hat and those who wear the beard’; and they must ever hold each other’s
stories as improbable, until a more general intercourse of common life
takes place between them. What is moral and virtuous with the one,
is wickedness with the other,--that which the Christian reviles as
abominable, is by the Mohammedan held sacred. Although the contrast
between their respective manners may be very amusing, still it is most
certain that the former will ever feel devoutly grateful that he
is neither subject to Mohammedan rule, nor educated in Mohammedan
principles; whilst the latter, in his turn, looking upon the rest of
mankind as unclean infidels, will continue to hold fast to his bigoted
persuasion, until some powerful interposition of Providence shall dispel
the moral and intellectual darkness which, at present, overhangs so
large a portion of the Asiatic world.

Fearing to increase the size of the work, I have refrained adding the
numerous notes which my long residence in Persia would have enabled
me to do, and have only occasionally made explanations necessary to
understand the narrative. In the same fear, I have not ventured to
take Hajji out of his own country. His remarks upon England during his
residence there, and during his travels, may perhaps be thought worthy
of future notice; and should they be called for, I will do my best
endeavour to interpret his feelings as near to nature as possible.

I must now, dear sir, take my leave, expressing my regret at your
absence from Constantinople on my return from Persia; for had I then
been fortunate enough to meet you, no doubt, from the valuable hints
which you would have afforded me, the work now presented to you would
have been in every way more worthy of your acceptance. But you were
far better engaged; you were seeking another oasis in the wilds of the
desert (that emblem of yourself in hieroglyphic lore), to which, so I
was informed, you expected to have been guided information gained in the
inside wrappers of one of your most interesting mummies.

May your footsteps have been fortunate, and may I live to have the
pleasure of assuring you by word of mouth how truly I am, esteemed and
learned sir,

Your very devoted and Obliged humble servant, PEREGRINE PERSIC.

LONDON, 1st December 1823.

[Illustration: Hajji shaves the camel-driver. 1.jpg]



Of Hajji Baba’s birth and education.

My father, Kerbelai Hassan, was one of the most celebrated barbers
of Ispahan. He was married, when only seventeen years of age, to the
daughter of a chandler, who lived in the neighbourhood of his shop; but
the connexion was not fortunate, for his wife brought him no offspring,
and he, in consequence, neglected her. His dexterity in the use of a
razor had gained for him, together with no little renown, such great
custom, particularly among the merchants, that after twenty years’
industry, he found he could afford to add a second wife to his harem;
and succeeded in obtaining the daughter of a rich money-changer, whose
head he had shaved, during that period, with so much success, that he
made no difficulty in granting his daughter to my father. In order to
get rid, for a while, of the importunities and jealousy of his first
wife, and also to acquire the good opinion of his father-in-law (who,
although noted for clipping money, and passing it for lawful, affected
to be a saint), he undertook a pilgrimage to the tomb of Hosein, at
Kerbelah. He took his new wife with him, and she was delivered of me on
the road. Before the journey took place he was generally known, simply
as ‘Hassan the barber’; but ever after he was honoured by the epithet of
Kerbelai; and I, to please my mother, who spoilt me, was called _Hajjî_
or the pilgrim, a name which has stuck to me through life, and procured
for me a great deal of unmerited respect; because, in fact, that
honoured title is seldom conferred on any but those who have made the
great pilgrimage to the tomb of the blessed Prophet of Mecca.

My father having left his business during his absence to his chief
apprentice, resumed it with increased industry on his return; and the
reputation of a zealous Mussulman, which he had acquired by his journey,
attracted the clergy, as well as the merchants, to his shop. It being
intended that I should be brought up to the strap, I should perhaps have
received no more education than was necessary to teach me my prayers,
and I not been noticed by a _mollah_, (or priest), who kept a school
in an adjoining mosque, whom my father (to keep up the character he had
acquired of being a good man) used to shave once a week, as he was wont
to explain, purely for the love of God. The holy man repaid the service
by teaching me to read and write; and I made such progress under his
care, that in two years I could decipher the Koran, and began to write a
legible hand. When not in school I attended the shop, where I learnt the
rudiments of my profession, and when there was a press of customers, was
permitted to practise upon the heads of muleteers and camel-drivers, who
indeed sometimes paid dear for my first essays.

By the time I was sixteen it would be difficult to say whether I was
most accomplished as a barber or a scholar. Besides shaving the head,
cleaning the ears, and trimming the beard, I became famous for my
skill in the offices of the bath. No one understood better than I
the different modes of rubbing or shampooing, as practised in India,
Cashmere, and Turkey; and I had an art peculiar to myself of making the
joints to crack, and my slaps echo.

Thanks to my master, I had learnt sufficiently of our poets to enable
me to enliven conversation with occasional apt quotations from Saadi,
Hafiz, etc.; this accomplishment, added to a good voice, made me
considered as an agreeable companion by all those whose crowns or limbs
were submitted to my operation. In short, it may, without vanity, be
asserted that Hajji Baba was quite the fashion among the men of taste
and pleasure.

My father’s shop being situated near the Royal Caravanserai, the largest
and most frequented in the city, was the common resort of the foreign,
as well as of the resident, merchants; they not unfrequently gave him
something over and above the usual price, for the entertainment they
found in the repartees of his hopeful son. One of them, a Bagdad
merchant, took great fancy to me, and always insisted that I should
attend upon him, in preference even to my more experienced father. He
made me converse with him in Turkish, of which I had acquired a slight
knowledge, and so excited my curiosity by describing the beauties of the
different cities which he had visited, that I soon felt a strong desire
to travel. He was then in want of some one to keep his accounts, and
as I associated the two qualifications of barber and scribe, he made me
such advantageous offers, to enter into his service, that I agreed to
follow him; and immediately mentioned my determination to my father. My
father was very loath to lose me, and endeavoured to persuade me not to
leave a certain profession for one which was likely to be attended with
danger and vicissitudes; but when he found how advantageous were the
merchant’s offers, and that it was not impossible that I might become
one myself in time, he gradually ceased to dissuade me from going; and
at length gave me his blessing, accompanied by a new case of razors.

My mother’s regret for the loss of my society, and her fears for my
safety, derived no alleviation from the prospect of my expected future
aggrandizement; she augured no good from a career begun in the service
of a _Sûni_;[1] but still, as a mark of her maternal affection, she
gave me a bag of broken biscuit, accompanied by a small tin case of
a precious unguent, which, she told me, would cure all fractures, and
internal complaints. She further directed me to leave the house with
my face towards the door, by way of propitiating a happy return from a
journey undertaken under such inauspicious circumstances.

[Illustration: The chaoûsh tells what he will do when he meets the
robbers. 2.jpg]


Hajji Baba commences his travels--His encounter with the Turcomans, and
his captivity.

Osman Aga, my master, was now on a journey to Meshed, the object of
which was to purchase the lamb-skins of Bokhara, which he afterwards
purposed to convey to Constantinople for sale. Imagine a short squat
man, with a large head, prominent spongy nose, and a thick, black beard,
and you will see my fellow traveller. He was a good Mussulman, very
strict in his devotions, and never failed to pull off his stockings,
even in the coldest morning, to wash his feet, in order that his
ablutions might be perfect; and, withal, he was a great hater of the
sect of Ali, a feeling he strictly kept to himself, as long as he was
in Persia. His prevailing passion was love of gain, and he never went to
sleep without having ascertained that his money was deposited in a place
of safety. He was, however, devoted to his own ease; smoked constantly,
ate much, and secretly drank wine, although he denounced eternal
perdition to those who openly indulged in it.

The caravan was appointed to collect in the spring, and we made
preparations for our departure. My master bought a strong, ambling mule
for his own riding; whilst I was provided with a horse, which, besides
myself, bore the _kaliân_[2] (for he adopted the Persian style of
smoking), the fire-pan and leather bottle, the charcoal, and also my own
wardrobe. A black slave, who cooked for us, spread the carpets, loaded
and unloaded the beasts, bestrode another mule, upon which were piled
the bedding, carpets, and kitchen utensils. A third, carrying a pair of
trunks, in which was my master’s wardrobe, and every other necessary,
completed our equipment.

The day before our departure, the prudent Osman had taken precaution
to sew into the cotton wadding of his heavy turban fifty ducats, a
circumstance known only to him and me, and these were to serve in case
of accidents; for the remainder of his cash, with which he intended
to make his purchases, was sewn up in small white leather bags, and
deposited in the very centre of the trunks.

The caravan being ready to depart consisted of about five hundred
mules and horses, and two hundred camels, most of which were laden with
merchandize for the north of Persia, and escorted by about one hundred
and fifty men, composed of merchants, their servants, and the conductors
of the caravan. Besides these, a small body of pilgrims bound to the
tomb of Imâm Reza at Meshed joined the caravan, and gave a character of
sanctity to the procession of which its other members were happy to take
advantage, considering in what high estimation persons bound upon so
laudable a purpose as a pilgrimage are always supposed to be held.

Every man on these occasions is armed, and my master, who always turned
his head away whenever a gun was fired, and became pale at the sight of
a drawn sword, now appeared with a long carbine slung obliquely across
his back, and a crooked sword by his side, whilst a pair of huge pistols
projected from his girdle; the rest of his surface was almost made up of
the apparatus of cartouch-boxes, powder-flasks, ramrods, &c. I also
was armed cap-à-pie, only in addition to what my master carried, I was
honoured by wielding a huge spear. The black slave had a sword with only
half a blade, and a gun without a lock.

We started at break of day from the northern suburb of Ispahan, led by
the _chaoûshes_[3] of the pilgrimage, who announced our departure by
loud cries and the beating of their copper drums. We soon got acquainted
with our fellow travellers, who were all armed; but who, notwithstanding
their martial equipment, appeared to be very peaceably disposed persons.
I was delighted with the novelty of the scene, and could not help
galloping and curvetting my horse to the annoyance of my master, who in
a somewhat crabbed tone, bid me keep in mind that the beast would not
last the journey if I wore it out by unseasonable feats of horsemanship.
I soon became a favourite with all the company, many of whom I shaved
after the day’s march was over. As for my master, it is not too much to
say that I was a great source of comfort to him, for after the fatigue
of sitting his mule was at an end, I practised many of the arts which
I had acquired at the bath to do away the stiffness of his limbs, by
kneading his body all over, and rubbing him with my hands.

We proceeded without impediment to Tehran, where we sojourned ten days
to rest our mules, and to increase our numbers. The dangerous part of
the journey was to come, as a tribe of Turcomans, who were at war
with the king of Persia, were known to infest the road, and had lately
attacked and plundered a caravan, whilst at the same time they had
carried those who composed it into captivity. Such were the horrors
related of the Turcomans, that many of our party, and my master in
particular, were fearful of proceeding to Meshed; but the account he
received of the enormous price of lamb-skins at Constantinople was so
alluring, that, in spite of everything, he resolved not to be frightened
out of his prospect of gain.

A chaoûsh had long been collecting pilgrims at Tehran and its vicinity,
in the expectation of the arrival of our caravan, and as soon as we
made our appearance, he informed us, that he was ready to join us with
a numerous band, a reinforcement which he assured us we ought to
receive with gratitude, considering the dangers which we were about to
encounter. He was a character well known on the road between Tehran
and Meshed, and enjoyed a great reputation for courage, which he had
acquired for having cut off a Turcoman’s head whom he had once found
dead on the road. His appearance was most formidable, being in person
tall and broad-shouldered, with a swarthy sunburnt face, ornamented by
a few stiff hairs by way of beard at the end of a bony chin. Clad in
a breastplate of iron, a helmet with a chain cape flapping over his
shoulders, a curved sword by his side, pistols in his girdle, a shield
slung behind his back, and a long spear in his hand, he seemed to bid
defiance to danger. He made such boast of his prowess, and talked of the
Turcomans with such contempt, that my master determined to proceed under
his immediate escort. The caravan was ready to depart a week after
the festival of the New Year’s day[4], and after having performed our
devotions at the great mosque of the congregation on the Friday, we went
to the village of Shahabdul Azim, whence the whole body was to proceed
the next day on its journey.

We advanced by slow marches over a parched and dreary country, that
afforded little to relieve the eye or cheer the heart. Whenever we
approached a village, or met travellers on the road, our conductors,
made invocations of Allah and of the Prophet in loud and shrill
tones, accompanied by repeated blows with a leather thong on the drums
suspended to their saddle-bow. Our conversation chiefly turned upon the
Turcomans, and although we were all agreed that they were a desperate
enemy, yet we managed to console ourselves by the hope that nothing
could withstand our numbers and appearance, and by repeatedly
exclaiming, ‘In the name of God, whose dogs are they, that they should
think of attacking us?’ Every one vaunted his own courage. My master
above the rest, with his teeth actually chattering from apprehension,
boasted of what he would do, in case we were attacked; and, to hear his
language, one would suppose that he had done nothing all his life but
fight and slaughter Turcomans. The chaoûsh, who overheard his boastings,
and who was jealous of being considered the only man of courage of the
party, said aloud, ‘No one can speak of the Turcomans until they have
seen them--and none but an “eater of lions” (at the same time pulling up
his moustaches toward his ears) ever came unhurt out of their clutches.
Saadi speaks truth when he sayeth, “A young man, though he hath strength
of arm, and the force of an elephant, will kick his heel ropes[5] to
pieces with fear in the day of battle.”’

But Osman Aga’s principal hope of security, and of faring better than
others in case we were attacked, was in the circumstance of his being a
follower of Omar;[6] and, by way of proclaiming it, he wound a piece
of green muslin round his cap, and gave himself out as an _emir_, or a
descendant of the Prophet, to whom, as the reader may guess, he was no
more allied than to the mule upon which he rode.

We had proceeded in this manner for several days, when the chaoûsh
informed us, in a solemn and important manner, that we were now
approaching to the places where the Turcomans generally lie in wait for
caravans, and directed that we should all march in a compact body, and
invited us to make preparations for a desperate resistance in case we
were attacked. The first impulse of my master was to tie his gun,
sword, and pistols on one of his baggage mules. He then complained of an
affection in the bowels, and so abandoning all his former intentions of
engaging in combat, wrapped himself up in the folds of his cloak, put
on a face of great misery, took to counting his beads, ever and anon
repeating the prayer of _Staferallah_, or ‘God forgive me,’ and, thus
prepared, resigned himself to his destiny. His greatest dependence for
protection he seemed to have placed upon the chaoûsh, who, among
other reasons for asserting his indifference to danger, pointed to the
numerous talismans and spells that he wore bound on his arms, and which,
he boldly maintained, would avert the arrow of a Turcoman at any time.

This double-bladed sword of a man, and one or two of the boldest of the
caravan, rode ahead, at some distance, as an advanced guard, and every
now and then, by way of keeping up their courage, galloped their horses,
brandishing their lances, and thrusting them forward into the air.

At length, what we so much apprehended actually came to pass. We heard
some shots fired, and then our ears were struck by wild and barbarous
shoutings. The whole of us stopped in dismay, and men and animals, as if
by common instinct, like a flock of small birds when they see a hawk at
a distance, huddled ourselves together into one compact body. But when
we in reality perceived a body of Turcomans coming down upon us, the
scene instantly changed. Some ran away; others, and among them my
master, losing all their energies, yielded to intense fear, and began to
exclaim, ‘Oh Allah!--Oh Imâms!--Oh Mohammed the prophet; we are gone! we
are dying! we are dead!’ The muleteers unloosed their loads from
their beasts, and drove them away. A shower of arrows, which the enemy
discharged as they came on, achieved their conquest, and we soon became
their prey. The chaoûsh, who had outlived many a similar fray, fled in
the very first encounter, and we neither saw nor heard any more of him.
The invaders soon fell to work upon the baggage, which was now spread
all over the plain.

[Illustration: Hajji’s master and the great Turcoman. 3.jpg]

My master had rolled himself up between two bales of goods to wait the
event, but was discovered by a Turcoman of great size, and of a most
ferocious aspect, who, taking him at first for part of the baggage,
turned him over on his back, when (as we see a wood-louse do) he opened
out at full length, and expressed all his fears by the most abject
entreaties. He tried to soften the Turcoman by invoking Omar, and
cursing Ali; but nothing would do; the barbarian was inexorable: he
only left him in possession of his turban, out of consideration to its
colour, but in other respects he completely stripped him, leaving him
nothing but his drawers and shirt, and clothing himself with my master’s
comfortable cloak and trousers before his face. My clothes being
scarcely worth the taking, I was permitted to enjoy them unmolested, and
I retained possession of my case of razors, to my no small satisfaction.

The Turcomans having completed their plunder, made a distribution of the
prisoners. We were blindfolded, and placed each of us behind a horseman,
and after having travelled for a whole day in this manner, we rested at
night in a lonely dell. The next day we were permitted to see, and found
ourselves on roads known only to the Turcomans.

Passing through wild and unfrequented tracts of mountainous country,
we at length discovered a large plain, which was so extensive that it
seemed the limits of the world, and was covered with the black tents and
the numerous flocks and herds of our enemies.

[Illustration: Hajji Baba bleeds the Banou. 4.jpg]


Into what hands Hajji Baba falls, and the fortune which his razors
proved to him.

The distribution of their prisoners which had been made by the
Turcomans, turned out to be so far fortunate, that Osman Aga and I
fell into the hands of one master, the savage robber whom I have before
mentioned. He was called _Aslan Sultan_,[7] or Lion Chief, and proved
to be the captain of a considerable encampment, which we reached almost
immediately after descending from the mountains into the plain. His
tents were situated on the borders of a deep ravine, at the bottom of
which flowed a stream that took its rise in a chain of neighbouring
hills; and green pastures, teeming with cattle, were spread around as
far as the eye could reach. Our other fellow sufferers were carried into
a more distant part of the country, and distributed among the different
tribes of Turcomans who inhabit this region.

At our appearance the whole encampment turned out to look at us, whilst
our conqueror was greeted with loud welcomes, we were barked at and
nearly devoured by a pack of large sheep dogs, who had soon selected
us out as strangers. My master’s green shawl had hitherto procured some
degree of respect; but the chief wife, or the _Banou_,[8] as she was
called, was seized at first sight with a strong desire to possess it;
so he was with no other covering to his head than his padded _caoûk_,
or tiara, which contained his money. That too was longed for by another
wife, who said that it would just do to stuff the pack-saddle which
had galled her camel’s back, and it was taken from his head and thrown,
among other lumber into a corner of the tent. He did all he could to
keep possession of this last remnant of his fortune, but to no purpose;
in lieu of it he received an old sheep-skin cap, which had belonged to
some unfortunate man, who, like us, had been a prisoner, and who had
lately died of grief and wretchedness.

My master having been installed in the possession of the dead man’s cap,
was soon appointed to fill his situation, which was that of tending the
camels, when they were sent to feed upon the mountains, and, as he was
fat and unwieldy, there was no apprehension of his running away. As for
me, I was not permitted to leave the tents, but was, for the present,
employed in shaking the leather bags which contained the curds from
which butter was made.

In order to celebrate the success of the expedition, an entertainment
was given by the chief to the whole encampment. A large cauldron,
filled with rice, was boiled, and two sheep were roasted whole. The
men, consisting of our chief’s relations, who came from the surrounding
tents, and most of whom had been at the attack of our caravan, were
assembled in one tent, whilst the women were collected in another. After
the rice and the sheep had been served up to the men, they were carried
to the women, and when they had done, the shepherds’ boys were served,
and, after they had devoured their utmost, the bones and scrapings of
dishes were given to us and the dogs. But, when I was waiting with great
anxiety for our morsel, having scarcely tasted food since we were taken,
I was secretly beckoned to by one of the women, who made me screen
myself behind a tent, and setting down a dish of rice, with a bit of
sheep’s tail in it, which was sent, she said, by the chief’s wife,
who pitied my misfortune, and bade me be of good courage, hurried away
without waiting for my acknowledgements.

The day was passed by the men in smoking, and relating their adventures,
and by the women in singing and beating the tambourine, whilst my poor
master and I were left to ponder over our forlorn situation. The mark of
favour which I had just received had set my imagination to work, and
led me to consider my condition as not entirely desperate. But in vain I
endeavoured to cheer up the spirits of my companion; he did not cease
to bewail his hard fate. I brought to his mind that constant refuge of
every true Mussulman in grief, ‘_Allah kerim!_--God is merciful!’ His
answer was, ‘Allah kerim, Allah kerim, is all very well for you who had
nothing to lose; but in the meantime I am ruined for ever.’ His greatest
concern seemed to be, the having failed to secure the profits which he
had expected to make on his lamb-skins, and he passed all his time in
calculating, to the utmost farthing, what had been his losses on this
occasion. However, we were soon to be parted. He was sent off the
next day to the mountains, in charge of a string of fifty camels, with
terrible threats from the chief that his nose and ears should pay for
the loss of any one of them, and that if one died, its price should be
added to the ransom money which he hereafter expected to receive for
him. As the last testimony of my affection for him, I made him sit
down on a camel’s pack-saddle, and, with some water from a neighbouring
spring, and a piece of soap, which, together with my razors, I had saved
from the wreck of our fortunes, shaved him in the face of the whole
camp.[9] I very soon found that this exhibition of my abilities and
profession might be productive of the greatest advantage to my future
prospects. Every fellow who had a head to scratch immediately found out
that he wanted shaving, and my reputation soon reached the ears of the
chief, who called me to him, and ordered me to operate upon him without
loss of time. I soon went to work upon a large head that exhibited the
marks of many a sword cut, and which presented as rough a surface as
that of the sheep dogs aforementioned. He who had been accustomed to
have his hair clipped, perhaps, with the same instrument that sheared
his sheep, and who knew of no greater luxury than that of being
mutilated by some country barber, felt himself in paradise under my
hand. He freely expressed his satisfaction and his approbation of my
services, said, on feeling his head, that I had shaved him two days’
march under the skin, swore that he never would accept of any ransom for
me, be it what it might, and that I should, henceforth, be entitled to
the appointment of his own body barber. I leave the gentle reader to
guess what were my feelings upon this occasion. Whilst I stooped down
and kissed the knee of this my new master, with every appearance of
gratitude and respect, I determined to make use of the liberty which the
confidence reposed in me might afford, by running away on the very
first favourable opportunity. From being so often near the person of the
chief, I soon began to acquire great ascendancy over him; and although
I was still watched with care, yet I could already devise plans,
which appeared to me to be practicable, for escaping from this hateful
servitude into which I was thrown, and I felt in a less degree than
another would have done the drudgery and wretchedness of my situation.


Of his ingenuity in rescuing his master’s money from the Turcoman, and
of his determination to keep it.

One of the first objects which I had in view for the furtherance of my
plan of escape was to obtain possession of the money which was sewed in
the padding of my former master’s turban. But it had been thrown into
a corner of the women’s tent, to which I had no access, and it
required much ingenuity to get at it without creating suspicion. I
had established my reputation as a barber throughout ours and the
neighbouring encampments, and had become a favourite of the men; but
although I had reason to believe that the Banou of my master would fain
become more intimately acquainted with me than she hitherto had been,
yet as neither she nor any of the other women could employ me in my
profession as a shaver, our intercourse hitherto had been confined
to tender glances, occasional acts of kindness on her part, and of
corresponding marks of thankfulness and acknowledgement on mine. But as
they knew enough of civilized life to be aware that in Persia barbers
were also surgeons--that besides shaving and rubbing in the bath,
they could bleed, draw teeth, and set a broken limb--the Banou soon
discovered that she wanted to be bled, and sent a deputation to ask
me if I could perform that service for her. Looking upon this as
a favourable opportunity to learn some tidings of the object of my
solicitude, or perhaps to gain possession of it, I immediately answered
that provided I was furnished with a penknife, I hoped that I could
bleed as dexterously as the best of my profession. The instrument
was produced, and one of the elders of the tribe, who pretended to a
smattering of astrology, announced that a conjunction of the planets
favourable to such an operation would take place on the following
morning. At that auspicious moment, I was introduced into the women’s
tent, where I found the Banou seated on a carpet on the ground, waiting
for me with great impatience. She was not a person to excite sensations
of a tender nature in a novice like me; for, in the first place, she was
of an unwieldy size (so different from the slim forms that we are taught
to prize in Persia)[10] that I looked upon her with disgust; and, in the
next, I lived in such terror of Aslan Sultan, that had I aspired to her
favour, it must have been in the constant dread of the loss of my ears.
However, I was much noticed by her, and received great attentions from
her companions, who, looking upon me as a being of a superior order,
all wanted to have their pulses felt. Whilst making my preparations
for bleeding the Banou, I cast my eyes about the tent, in the hopes of
seeing the prize, which I was anxious to possess. It struck me that I
might make the very operation in which I was engaged subservient to my
views, and demanding to feel the patient’s pulse once more, which I
did with a look of intense meditation, I observed that this was a
complicated disorder--that the blood must not be allowed to flow upon
the ground, but be collected in a vessel, that I might examine it
at leisure. This strange proposal of mine raised an immediate outcry
amongst the women; but with the Banou a deviation from the usual
practice only served to confirm her opinion of my superior skill. Here,
however, a new difficulty arose. The scanty stock of a Turcoman could
ill afford to sacrifice any utensil by applying it to a service which
would defile it for ever. They were recapitulated one by one, and all
found too precious to be thrown away. I was hesitating whether I might
venture to go straight to my point, when the Banou bethought herself
of an old leather drinking-cup, which she desired one of the women to
search for in a corner of the tent. ‘This will never do: you can see
the light through it,’ said I, holding it up towards the tent door, and
pointing to the seams with the penknife, which I held in my hand, and
with I cut, at the same time, half a dozen of the stitches.

‘Where is the cap of that old Emir?’ cried out the Banou.

‘It is mine,’ said the second wife; ‘I want it to stuff my saddle with.’

‘Yours!’ returned the other in a fury. ‘There is but one God! Am not I
the Banou of this harem? I will have it.’

‘You shall not,’ retorted the other.

Upon this an uproar ensued which became so loud and threatening, that
I feared it would come to the ears of Aslan Sultan, who very probably
would have settled the dispute by taking at once the bone of contention
from the contending parties. But luckily the astrologer interfered, and
when he had assured the second wife that the blood of the Banou would
be upon her head if anything unfortunate happened on this occasion, she
consented to give up her pretensions. I accordingly prepared to bleed
my patient; but when she saw the penknife, the cap underneath to
receive her blood, and the anxious faces of those about her, she became
frightened, and refused to permit me to proceed. Fearing after all that
I should lose my prize, I put on a very sagacious look, felt her pulse,
and said that her refusal was unavailing, for that it was her fate to be
bled, and that she and every one knew nothing could avert an event which
had been decreed since the beginning of the world. To this there was no
reply; and all agreeing that she would commit a great sin were she to
oppose herself to the decrees of Providence, she put out her bare arm,
and received the stab from my penknife with apparent fortitude. The
blood was caught, and, when the operation was over, I ordered that it
should be conveyed to a little distance from the camp, and that none but
myself should be permitted to approach it, as much of the good or
evil that might accrue to the patient from bleeding depended upon what
happened to the blood after it had flown from the body. I waited until
night, when everybody was asleep, and then with great anxiety ripped
up the lining, where to my joy I found the fifty ducats, which I
immediately concealed in an adjacent spot, and then dug a hole for the
cap, which I also concealed. In the morning I informed the Banou,
that having seen some wolves prowling about the tents, I feared that
something unlucky might happen to her blood, and that I had buried it,
caoûk and all. This appeared to satisfy her; and by way of recompense
for the service I had rendered, she sent me a dish made with her
own hands, consisting of a lamb roasted whole, stuffed with rice and
raisins, accompanied by a bowl of sour milk with salt in it.

I must confess that when I became possessed of the fifty ducats, a
recollection of my poor former master, who was leading a melancholy life
in the mountains with the camels, whilst I was living in comparative
luxury, came across my mind, and I half resolved to restore them to him;
but by little and little I began to argue differently with myself. ‘Had
it not been for my ingenuity,’ said I, ‘the money was lost for ever;
who therefore has a better claim to it than myself? If he was to
get possession of it again, it could be of no use to him in his new
profession, and it is a hundred to one but what it would be taken from
him, therefore, I had best keep it for the present: besides, it was his
fate to lose, and mine to recover it.’ This settled every difficulty,
and I looked upon myself as the legitimate possessor of fifty ducats,
which I conceived no law could take from me. Meanwhile, I made an
attempt to convey to him half of the roasted lamb which I had just
received, through the means of a shepherd’s boy who was going into
the mountains, and who promised not to eat any of it by the wayside.
Although I doubted his word, yet, after my deliberation about the
ducats, my conscience wanted some quietus: ‘I cannot do less,’ said I,
‘than make my fellow sufferer in adversity a partaker of my prosperity.’
But alas! the boy had scarcely crossed the deep ravine that bordered the
encampment ere I could perceive him carrying the meat to his mouth, and
I made no doubt that every bone was picked clean before he was out of
sight. It would have been a useless undertaking to have pursued him,
considering the distance that already separated us, so I contented
myself by discharging a stone and a malediction at his head, neither of
which reached their destination.

[Illustration: Turcomans attack the caravanserai. 5.jpg]


Hajji Baba becomes a robber in his own defence, and invades his native

I had now been above a year in the hands of the Turcomans, during which
I had acquired the entire confidence of my master. He consulted me
upon all his own affairs, as well as those of his community, and as he
considered that I might now be depended upon, he determined to permit
me to accompany him in a predatory excursion into Persia,--a permission,
which, in hopes of a good opportunity to escape, I had frequently
entreated of him to grant. Hitherto I had never been allowed to stray
beyond the encampment and its surrounding pastures, and as I was totally
ignorant of the roads through the great salt desert which separated us
from Persia, I knew that it would be in vain for me to attempt flight,
as many before me had done, and had invariably perished or returned
to their masters, who treated them with more rigour than before. I
therefore rejoiced that I now had an opportunity of observing the
country we were about to cross, and determined with myself that if I
could not get away during this expedition, nothing should hinder my
attempting it on my return. The Turcomans generally make their principal
excursions in the spring, when they find pasturage for their horses in
the highlands, and fresh corn in the plains, and because they then
are almost certain of meeting caravans to plunder on their march. This
season being now near at hand, Aslan called together the chiefs of his
tribe, the heads of tens and the heads of hundreds, and all those who
were skilled in plunder, and proposed a plan to them of an incursion
into the very heart of Persia. Their object was to reach Ispahan itself,
to enter the city in the night, when all was quiet, and to sack the
caravanserai, to which the richest merchants were known to resort. Our
guide through the great salt desert was to be my master in person, whose
experience and local knowledge were greater than that of any of his
contemporaries; and he proposed to the council that as no one amongst
them, except myself, knew the streets and bazaars of Ispahan, I should
lead the way, when once we had entered the city. This was opposed by
several, who said that it was imprudent to trust a stranger and a native
of the very place they intended to attack, who would be likely to
run off the moment he could do so with safety. At length, after much
discussion, it was agreed that I should be their guide in Ispahan; that
two men should ride close on each side of me, and in case I showed the
least symptom of treachery in my movements, kill me on the spot. This
being settled, the Turcomans put their horses in training,[11] and one
was appointed for my use, which had the reputation of having twice borne
away the flag at their races. I was equipped as a Turcoman, with a large
sheep-skin cap on my head, a sheep-skin coat, a sword, a bow and arrows,
and a heavy spear, the head of which was taken off or put on as the
occasion might require. I had a bag of corn tied behind on my horse,
besides ropes to tether him with when we made a halt,--and for my own
food I carried several flaps of bread,[12] and half a dozen of hard
eggs, trusting to the chapter of accidents, and to my own endurance
of hunger, for further sustenance. I had already made a very tolerable
apprenticeship to a hard life since I had first been taken, by sleeping
on the ground with the first thing that I could seize for a pillow, and
thus I looked upon the want of a bed as no privation. My companions were
equally hardy, and in point of bodily fatigue, perhaps, we were a match
for any nation in the world.

I took previous care to unbury the fifty ducats, which I tied very
carefully in my girdle, and I promised my former master, who from
fretting had worn himself down to a skeleton, that if ever I had an
opportunity, I would do all in my power to make his friends ransom him.
‘Ah,’ said be, ‘no one will ever ransom me. As for my son, he will be
happy to get my property; and as for my wife, she will be happy to get
another husband: so no hope is left. There is only one favour I beg
of you, which is, to inquire what is the price of lamb-skins at

Here I had another struggle with my conscience on the subject of the
ducats. Should I restore them? Would it not be more advantageous, even
to my master, that I should keep them? My ability to take advantage of
this opportunity to escape might depend upon my having a little money
in my purse--and what chance had he of being relieved but through my
interference? All things considered, I let them remain in my girdle.

The astrologer having fixed upon a lucky hour for our departure, we,
mounted at nightfall. Our party consisted of Aslan Sultan, who was
appointed chief of the expedition, and of twenty men, myself included.
Our companions were composed of the principal men of the different
encampments in our neighbourhood, and were all, more or less,
accomplished cavaliers. They were mounted upon excellent horses, the
speed and bottom of which are so justly celebrated throughout Asia; and
as we rode along in the moonlight, completely armed, I was persuaded
that we looked as desperate a gang of ruffians as ever took the field.
For my part, I felt that nature had never intended me for a warrior, and
although I thought that I could keep up appearances as well as most men
in my predicament, and indeed I believe did act my part so perfectly,
as to make both my master and his companions believe that they had got a
very _Rustam_[13] in me, yet I dreaded the time when I should be put to
the trial.

I was surprised to observe the dexterity with which our chief led us
through the thick forests that clothe the mountains which border the
plains of Kipchâk. The dangers of the precipices and the steep ascents
were something quite appalling to a young traveller like me; but my
companions rode over everything with the greatest unconcern, confident
in the sure-footedness of their horses. Having once ascended the
mountains, we entered upon the arid plains of Persia, and here my
master’s knowledge of the country was again conspicuous. He knew every
summit the moment it appeared, with the same certainty as an experienced
Frank sailor recognizes a distant headland at sea. But he showed his
sagacity most in drawing his inferences from the tracks and footsteps of
animals. He could tell what sort of travellers they belonged to,
whence coming, whither going, whether enemy or friend, whether laden or
unladen, and what their probable numbers, with the greatest precision.

We travelled with much precaution as long as we were in the inhabited
parts of the country, lying by during the day, and making all expedition
at night. Our stock of provender and provisions was renewed at the last
encampment of the wandering tribes which we visited before we reached
the great salt desert, and when we entered it, we urged our horses on
with as much haste as we knew their strength was likely to support. At
length, after travelling about 120 parasangs,[14] we found ourselves
in the environs of Ispahan. The moment for reaping the fruit of our
fatigue, and for trying my courage, was now at hand, and my heart
quite misgave me when I heard of the plan of attack which my companions

Their scheme was to enter the city through one of the unguarded avenues,
which were well known to me, and at midnight to make straight for the
Royal Caravanserai, where we were sure to find a great many merchants,
who at this season of the year collect there with ready money to make
their purchases. We were at once to carry off all the cash we could
find, then to seize and gag each a merchant if we were able, that before
the city could be alarmed, we might be on the road to our encampment
again. I found the plan so hazardous, and so little likely to succeed,
that I gave it as my opinion that we ought not to attempt it; but my
master, putting on his most determined look, said to me, ‘Hajji!
open your eyes--this is no child’s play!--I swear by the beard of the
Prophet, that if you do not behave well, I’ll burn your father. We have
succeeded before, and why should we not be as successful now? He then
ordered me to ride near him, and placed another ruffian at my side, and
both vowed, if I flinched, that they would immediately run me through
the body. We then took the lead, and, from my knowledge of Ispahan,
I easily picked my way through the ruins which surround it, and then
entered into the inhabited streets, which were at that time of night
entirely forsaken. When near the scene of action, we stopped under the
arches of one of the ruined houses, which are so frequently to be met
with even in the most inhabited parts of the city, and dismounting from
our horses, picketed them to the ground with pegs and heelropes,[15]
and left them under the care of two of our men. By way of precaution
we appointed a rendezvous in a lonely dell about five parasangs from
Ispahan, to which it was determined we should retreat as circumstances
might require. Once on foot, we proceeded without noise in a body,
avoiding as much as we could the bazaars, where I knew that the
officers of the police kept watch, and by lanes reached the gate of the
caravanserai. Here was a place, every square inch of which I knew by
heart, namely, my father’s shaving shop. Being aware that the gate of
the caravanserai would be locked, I made the party halt there, and,
taking up a stone, knocked, and called out to the doorkeeper by name:
‘Ali Mohammed,’ said I, ‘open, open: the caravan is arrived.’

Between asleep and awake, without showing the least symptom of opening,
‘What caravan?’ said he.

‘The caravan from Bagdad.’

‘From Bagdad? why that arrived yesterday. Do you laugh at my beard?’

Seeing myself entrapped, I was obliged to have recourse to my own name,
and said, ‘Why, a caravan to be sure with Hajji Baba, Kerbelai Hassan
the barber’s son, who went away with Osman Aga, the Bagdad merchant. I
bring the news, and expect the present.’

‘What, Hajji?’ said the porter, ‘he who used to shave my head so well?
His place has long been empty. You are welcome.’

Upon which he began to unbolt the heavy gates of the entrance porch,
which, as they creaked on their hinges, discovered a little old man in
his drawers with an iron lamp in his hand, which shed enough light to
show us that the place was full of merchants and their effects.

One of our party immediately seized upon him, and then we all rushed in
and fell to work. Expert in these sort of attacks, my companions knew
exactly where to go for plunder, and they soon took possession of all
the gold and silver that was to be found; but their first object was to
secure two or three of the richest merchants, whose ransom might be a
further source of wealth to them. Ere the alarm had been spread, they
had seized upon three, who from their sleeping upon fine beds, covered
with shawl quilts, and reposing upon embroidered cushions, they expected
would prove a good prize. These they bound hand and foot after their
fashion, and forcing them away, placed them upon their best horses
behind riders, who immediately retreated from the scene of action to the

From my knowledge of the caravanserai itself, and of the rooms which the
richest merchants generally occupied, I knew where cash was to be found,
and I entered one room as softly as I could (the very room which my
first master had occupied), and seizing upon the small box in which the
merchants generally keep their money, I made off with it. To my joy,
I found it contained a heavy bag, which I thrust into my bosom, and
carried it about with me as well as I could; although, on account of the
darkness, I could not ascertain of what metal it was.

By the time we had nearly finished our operations the city had been
alarmed. Almost all the people within the caravanserai, such as
servants, grooms, and mule-drivers, at the first alarm had retreated to
the roof; the neighbouring inhabitants then came in flocks, not knowing
exactly what to do: then came the police magistrate and his officers,
who also got on the roof of the caravanserai, but who only increased
the uproar by their cries, exclaiming, ‘Strike, seize, kill!’ without in
fact doing anything to repulse the enemy. Some few shots were fired at
random; but, owing to the darkness and the general confusion, we managed
to steal away without any serious accident. During the fray I was
frequently tempted to leave the desperate gang to which I belonged, and
hide myself in some corner until they were gone; but I argued thus
with myself: If I should succeed in getting away, still my dress would
discover me, and before I could explain who I really was, I should
certainly fall a sacrifice to the fury of the populace, the effects of
which more than once I had had occasion to witness. My father’s shop was
before me; the happy days I had passed in that very caravanserai were in
my recollection, and I was in the act of deliberating within myself what
I should do, when I felt myself roughly seized by the arm, and the first
thing which I recognized on turning round was the grim face of Aslan
Sultan, who threatened to kill me on the spot, if I did not render
myself worthy of the confidence he had placed in me. In order to show
him my prowess, I fastened upon a Persian who had just rushed by us,
and, throwing him down, I exclaimed that, if he did not quietly submit
to be taken prisoner and to follow me, I would put him to death. He
began to make the usual lamentations, ‘For the sake of Iman Hossein, by
the soul of your father, by the beard of Omar, I conjure you to leave
me!’ and immediately I recognized a voice that could belong to no
one but my own father. By a gleam from a lantern, I discovered his
well-known face. It was evident, that hearing the commotion, he had left
his bed to secure the property in his shop, which altogether did not
consist of more than half-a-dozen of towels, a case of razors, soap, and
a carpet. The moment I recognized him, I let go his beard, of which
I had got a fast hold, and, owing to that habit of respect which we
Persians show to our parents, would have kissed his hand and stood
before him; but my life was in danger if I appeared to flinch, so I
continued to struggle with him, and in order to show myself in earnest,
pretending to beat him, I administered my blows to a mule’s pack-saddle
that was close to where he lay. This while I heard my father muttering
to himself, ‘Ah, if Hajji was here, he would not permit me to be served
in this way!’ which had such an effect upon me, that I immediately let
him go, and exclaimed in Turkish to the surrounding Turcomans: ‘He won’t
do for us; he’s only a barber.’ So without more ceremony I quitted the
scene of action, mounted my horse, and retreated in full gallop through
the city.


Concerning the three prisoners taken by the Turcomans, and of the booty
made in the caravanserai.

When we had reached our place of rendezvous, we dismounted from our
horses, and made a halt to rest them, and to recruit ourselves after
the fatigues of the night. One of the party had not forgotten to steal
a lamb as we rode along, which was soon put into a fit state to be
roasted. It was cut up into small pieces, which were stuck on a ram-rod,
and placed over a slow fire made of what underwood we could find, mixed
up with the dung of the animals, and, thus heated, was devoured most
ravenously by us all.

Our next care was to ascertain the value of our prisoners. One was a
tall thin man, about fifty years of age, with a sharp eye, a hollow
aguish cheek, a scanty beard, wearing a pair of silken drawers, and a
shawl undercoat. The other was a short round man, of a middle age, with
a florid face, dressed in a dark vest, buttoning over his breast, and
looked like an officer of the law. The third was stout and hairy, of
rough aspect, of a strong vigorous form, and who was bound with more
care than the others on account of the superior resistance which he had

After we had finished our meal, and distributed the remains of it to
the prisoners, we called them before us, and questioned them as to their
professions and situations in life. The tall thin man, upon whose rich
appearance the Turcomans founded their chief hope, was first examined,
and as I was the only one of our party who could talk Persian, I stood

‘Who and what are you?’ said Aslan Sultan.

‘I,’ said the prisoner, in a very subdued voice,--‘I beg to state, for
the good of your service, that I am nothing--I am a poor man.’

‘What’s your business?’

‘I am a poet, at your service; what can I do more?’

‘A poet!’ cried one of the roughest of the Turcomans; ‘what is that good

‘Nothing,’ answered Aslan Sultan, in a rage; ‘he won’t fetch ten
tomauns;[16] poets are always poor, and live upon what they can cozen
from others. Who will ransom a poet? But if you are so poor,’ said Aslan
Sultan, ‘how do you come by those rich clothes?’

‘They are part of a dress of honour,’ returned the poet, ‘which was
lately conferred upon me by the Prince of Shiraz, for having written
some verses in his praise.’

Upon which the clothes were taken from him, a sheep-skin cloak given to
him in return, and he was dismissed for the present. Then came the short

‘Who are you?’ said the chief: ‘what is your profession?’

‘I am a poor cadi,’ answered the other.

‘How came you to sleep in a fine bed, if you are poor?’ said his
interrogator. ‘You father of a dog, if you lie, we’ll take your head
off! Confess that you are rich! All cadies are rich: they live by
selling themselves to the highest bidder.’

‘I am the cadi of Galadoun, at your service,’ said the prisoner. ‘I was
ordered to Ispahan by the governor to settle for the rent of a village
which I occupy.’

‘Where is the money for your rent?’ said Aslan.

‘I came to say,’ answered the cadi, ‘that I had no money to give, for
that the locusts had destroyed all my last year’s crops, and that there
had been a want of water.’

‘Then after all, what is this fellow worth?’ said one of the gang.

‘He is worth a good price,’ replied the chief, ‘if he happens to be a
good cadi, for then the peasants may wish him back again; but if not, a
_dinar_[17] is too much for him. We must keep him: perhaps he is of
more value than a merchant. But let us see how much this other fellow is
likely to fetch.’

They then brought the rough man before them, and Aslan Sultan questioned
him in the usual manner--‘What are you?’

‘I am a _ferash_’ (a carpet-spreader), said he, in a very sulky manner.

‘_A ferash!_’ cried out the whole gang--‘a ferash! The fellow lies! How
came you to sleep in a fine bed?’ said one.

‘It was not mine,’ he answered, ‘it was my master’s.’

‘He lies! he lies!’ they all cried out: ‘he is a merchant--you are a
merchant. Own it, or we’ll put you to death.’

In vain he asserted that he was only a carpet-spreader, nobody believed
him, and he received so many blows from different quarters, that at last
he was obliged to roar out that he was a merchant.

But I, who judged from the appearance of the man that he could not be
a merchant, but that he was what he owned himself to be, assured my
companions that they had got but a sorry prize in him, and advised
them to release him; but immediately I was assailed in my turn with a
thousand maledictions, and was told, that if I chose to take part with
my countrymen, I should share their fate, and become a slave again--so
I was obliged to keep my peace and permit the ruffians to have their own

Their speculation in man-stealing having proved so unfortunate, they
were in no very good humour with their excursion, and there was a great
difference of opinion amongst them, what should be done with such
worthless prisoners. Some were for keeping the cadi, and killing the
poet and the ferash, and others for preserving the cadi for ransom, and
making the ferash a slave; but all seemed to be for killing the poet.

I could not help feeling much compassion for this man, who in fact
appeared to be from his manners, and general deportment, a man of
consequence, although he had pleaded poverty; and seeing it likely to
go very hard with him, I said, ‘What folly are you about to commit? Kill
the poet! why it will be worse than killing the goose with the golden
egg. Don’t you know that poets are sometimes very rich, and can, if they
choose, become rich at all times, for they carry their wealth in
their heads? Did you never hear of the king who gave a famous poet a
_miscal_[18] of gold for every stanza which he composed? Is not the same
thing said of the present Shah? And--who knows?--perhaps your prisoner
may be the King’s poet himself.’

‘Is that the case?’ said one of the gang; ‘then let him make stanzas for
us immediately, and if they don’t fetch a miscal each, he shall die.’

‘Make on! make on!’ exclaimed the whole of them to the poet, elated by
so bright a prospect of gain; ‘if you don’t, we’ll cut your tongue out.’

At length it was decided that all three should be preserved, and that as
soon as they had made a division of the booty, we should return to the
plains of Kipchâk.

Aslan then called us together, and every man was obliged to produce what
he had stolen. Some brought bags of silver and others gold. Nor did they
confine themselves to money only; gold heads of pipes, a silver ewer,
a sable pelisse, shawls, and a variety of other things, were brought
before us. When it came to my turn, I produced the heaviest bag of
tomauns that had yet been given in, which secured to me the applause of
the company.

‘Well done! well done! Hajji,’ said they all to me; ‘he has become a
good Turcoman: we could not have done better ourselves.’

My master in particular was very loud in his praises, and said, ‘Hajji,
my son, by my own soul, by the head of my father, I swear that you have
done bravely, and I will give you one of my slaves for a wife, and you
shall live with us--and you shall have a tent of your own, with twenty
sheep, and we’ll have a wedding, when I will give an entertainment to
all the encampment.’

These words sunk deep in my mind, and only strengthened my resolution
to escape on the very first opportunity; but in the meanwhile I was very
intent upon the division of the spoil which was about to be made, as
I hoped to be included for a considerable portion of it. To my great
mortification they gave me not a single dinar. In vain I exclaimed, in
vain I entreated; all I could hear was, ‘If you say a word more, we will
cut your head off.’ So I was obliged to console myself with my original
fifty ducats, whilst my companions were squabbling about their shares.
At length it became a scene of general contention, and would have
finished by bloodshed, if a thought had not struck one of the
combatants, who exclaimed, ‘We have got a cadi here; why should we
dispute? He shall decide between us.

So immediately the poor cadi was set in the midst of them, and was made
to legislate upon goods, part of which belonged in fact to himself,
without even getting the percentage due to him as judge.


Hajji Baba evinces a feeling disposition--History of the poet Asker.

We made our retreat by the same road we came, but not with the same
expedition, on account of our prisoners. They sometimes walked and
sometimes rode.

The general appearance of the poet had, from the first moment,
interested me in his misfortunes; and being a smatterer in learning
myself, my vanity, perhaps, was flattered with the idea of becoming the
protector of a man of letters in distress. Without appearing to show
any particular partiality to him, I succeeded in being appointed to keep
watch over him, under the plea that I would compel him to make verses;
and conversing in our language, we were able to communicate with
each other with great freedom without the fear of being understood. I
explained my situation, and informed him of my intentions to escape, and
assured him that I would do everything in my power to be useful to him.
He seemed delighted to meet with kind words, where he expected nothing
but ill-treatment; and when I had thus acquired his confidence, he
did not scruple to talk to me freely about himself and his concerns.
I discovered what I had before suspected, that he was a man of
consequence, for he was no less a personage than the court poet,
enjoying the title of _Melek al Shoherah_, or the Prince of Poets. He
was on his road from Shiraz (whither he had been sent by the Shah on
business) to Tehran, and had that very day reached Ispahan, when he had
fallen into our hands. In order to beguile the tediousness of the road
through the Salt Desert, after I had related my adventures, I requested
him to give me an account of his, which he did in the following words:

‘I was born in the city of Kerman, and my name is Asker. My father was
for a long time governor of that city, during the reign of the eunuch
Aga Mohammed Shah; and although the intrigues that were set on foot
against him to deprive him of his government were very mischievous,
still such was his respectability, that his enemies never entirely
prevailed against him. His eyes were frequently in danger, but his
adroitness preserved them; and he had at last the good fortune to die
peaceably in his bed in the present Shah’s reign. I was permitted to
possess the property which he left, which amounted to about 10,000
tomauns. In my youth I was remarkable for the attention which I paid
to my studies, and before I had arrived at the age of sixteen I was
celebrated for writing a fine hand. I knew Hafiz entirely by heart,
and had myself acquired such a facility in making verses, that I might
almost have been said to speak in numbers. There was no subject that I
did not attempt. I wrote on the loves of Leilah and Majnoun;[19] I never
heard the note of a nightingale, but I made it pour out its loves to the
rose; and wherever I went I never failed to produce my poetry and chant
it out in the assembly. At this time the king was waging war with Sadik
Khan, a pretender to the throne, and a battle was fought, in which his
majesty commanded in person, and which terminated in the defeat of the
rebel. I immediately sang the king’s praises. In describing the contest
I made Rustam appear standing in a cloud over the field of battle; who
seeing the king lay about him desperately, exclaims to himself, “Lucky
wight am I to be here instead of below, for certainly I should never
escape from his blows.” I also exerted my wit, and was much extolled
when I said, that Sadik Khan and his troops ought not to repine after
all; for although they were vanquished, yet still the king, in his
magnanimity, had exalted their heads to the skies. In this, I alluded
to a pillar of skulls which his majesty had caused to be erected of
the heads of the vanquished. These sayings of mine were reported to the
Shah, and he was pleased to confer upon me the highest honour which a
poet can receive; namely, causing my mouth to be filled with gold coin
in the presence of the whole court, at the great audience. This led to
my advancement: and I was appointed to attend at court, and to write
verses on all occasions. In order to show my zeal, I represented to the
king, that as in former times our great Ferdousi had written his “Shah
Nameh,” or the History of the Kings, it behooved him, who was greater
than any monarch Persia ever possessed, to have a poet who should
celebrate his reign; and I entreated permission to write a “Shahin Shah
Nameh,” or the History of the King of Kings; to which his majesty was
most graciously pleased to give his consent. One of my enemies at court
was the lord high treasurer, who, without any good reason, wanted to
impose upon me a fine of 12,000 tomauns, which the king, on the plea
that I was the first poet of the age, would not allow. It happened
one day, that in a large assembly, the subject of discussion was the
liberality of Mahmoud Shah Ghaznevi to Ferdousi, who gave him a miscal
of gold for every couplet in the Shah Nameh. Anxious that the king
should hear what I was about to say, I exclaimed: “The liberality of his
present majesty is equal to that of Mahmoud Shah--equal did I say?--nay
greater; because in the one case, it was exercised towards the most
celebrated poet of Persia; and in my case, it is exercised towards the
humble individual now before you.”

‘All the company were anxious to hear how and when such great favours
had been conferred upon me. “In the first place,” said I, “when my
father died, he left a property of 10,000 tomauns; the king permitted
me to inherit it; he might have taken it away--there are 10,000 tomauns.
Then the lord high treasurer wanted to fine me 12,000 tomauns; the king
did not allow it--there are 12,000 more. Then the rest is made up of
what I have subsisted upon ever since I have been in the Shah’s service,
and so my sum is made out.” And then I took to my exclamations of “May
the king live for ever!--may his shadow never be less!--may he conquer
all his enemies!”--all of which I flattered myself was duly reported to
his majesty: and some days after I was invested with a dress of honour,
consisting of a brocade coat, a shawl for the waist, and one for the
head, and a brocade cloak trimmed with fur. I was also honoured with the
title of Prince of Poets, by virtue of a royal firman, which, according
to the usual custom, I wore in my cap for three successive days,
receiving the congratulations of my friends, and feeling of greater
consequence than I had ever done before. I wrote a poem, which answered
the double purpose of gratifying my revenge for the ill-treatment I
had received from the lord high treasurer, and of conciliating his
good graces; for it had a double meaning all through: what he in his
ignorance mistook for praise, was in fact satire; and as he thought
that the high-sounding words in which it abounded (which, being mostly
Arabic, he did not understand) must contain an eulogium, he did not
in the least suspect that they were in fact expressions containing
the grossest disrespect. In truth, I had so cloaked my meaning, that,
without my explanation, it would have been difficult for any one to have
discovered it. But it was not alone in poetry that I excelled. I had a
great turn for mechanics, and several of my inventions were much admired
at court. I contrived a wheel for perpetual motion, which only wants one
little addition to make it go round for ever. I made different sorts of
coloured paper; I invented a new sort of ink-stand; and was on the high
road to making cloth, when I was stopped by his majesty, who said to me,
“Asker, stick to your poetry: whenever I want cloth, my merchants bring
it from Europe.” And I obeyed his instructions; for on the approaching
festival of the new year’s day, when it is customary for each of his
servants to make him a present, I wrote something so happy about a
toothpick, I which I presented in a handsome case, that the principal
nobleman of the court, at the great public audience of that sacred
day, were ordered to kiss me on the mouth for my pains. I compared his
majesty’s teeth to pearls, and the toothpick to the pearl-diver; his
gums to a coral-bank, near which pearls are frequently found; and the
long beard and mustachios that encircled the mouth to the undulations of
the ocean. I was complimented by everybody present upon the fertility
of my imagination. I was assured that Ferdousi was a downright ass when
compared to me. By such means, I enjoyed great favour with the Shah; and
his majesty being anxious to give me an opportunity of acquiring wealth
as well as honours, appointed me to be the bearer of the usual annual
dress of honour which he sends to his son, the prince of the province
of Fars. I was received at Shiraz with the greatest distinctions, and
presents were made to me to a considerable amount; which, in addition
to what I had levied from the villages on the road, made a handsome sum.
The event of last night has deprived me of all: all has been stolen from
me, and here you see me the most miserable of human beings. If you do
not manage to help me to escape, I fear that I shall die a prisoner.
Perhaps the king may be anxious to release me, but certainly he will
never pay one farthing for my ransom. The lord high treasurer is not my
friend; and since I told the grand vizier, that with all his wisdom he
did not know how to wind up a watch, much less how it was made, I fear
that he also will not care for my loss. The money, with which I might
have purchased my ransom, the barbarians have taken; and where to
procure a similar sum I know not. It is my fate to have fallen into this
disaster, therefore I must not repine; but let me entreat you, as you
are a fellow Mussulman--as you hate Omar, and love Ali--let me entreat
you to help me in my distress.’[20]

[Illustration: The prince’s tent-pitcher strikes Hajji over the mouth
with his slipper. 6.jpg]


Hajji Baba escapes from the Turcomans--The meaning of ‘falling from the
frying-pan into the fire’ illustrated.

As soon as the poet had finished his narrative, I assured him that I
would do everything in my power to serve him; but I recommended patience
to him for the present, as I had not yet devised the means of procuring
my own liberty, and foresaw great difficulties in saving him at the same
time. It would be impossible to evade the watchfulness of our masters,
as long as we were in the open desert: their horses were as good as
mine, and they were much better acquainted with the country than I
was. To run away from them under these circumstances would be madness;
therefore it was only left us to watch my opportunity that might be
given us of escape.

We had reached the limits of the Salt Desert, and were about crossing
the high road that leads from Tehran to Meshed, about twenty parasangs
to the east of Damgan, when Aslan Sultan made a halt, and proposed that
we should remain concealed for a day in the broken ground that borders
the road, in the hopes that fortune might throw us in the way of a
passing caravan, which it was his intention that we should pillage. At
the very dawn of the following clay, a spy, who had been stationed on an
adjacent hill, came in great haste to report that he saw clouds of dust
rising in the direction of Damgan, and approaching towards us, on the
road leading to Meshed.

Immediately we were all upon the alert. The Turcomans left their
prisoners, bound hand and foot, on the spot where we had rested, with
the intention of returning to take them up as soon as we should have
rifled the caravan, and, fully equipped, we sallied forth with great
caution, determined on blood and plunder.

Aslan himself proceeded before the rest, in order to reconnoitre;
and calling me to him, said, ‘Now, Hajji, here is an opportunity for
distinguishing yourself. You shall accompany me; and you will observe
the precautions I use previous to showing our whole body, which it may
be necessary for you to know, in order that you may be able to conduct
such an enterprise yourself on some future occasion. I take you with
me, in case I should be obliged to use an interpreter; for frequently in
these caravans, there is not a person who understands our language.
We will approach as near as we can, perhaps have a parley with the
conductor, and if we cannot make terms with him, we will fall on with
our whole party.’

As the travellers approached, I perceived that Aslan Sultan became
uneasy. ‘This is no caravan, I fear,’ said he; ‘they march in too
compact a body: besides, I hear no bells; the dust is too great in one
spot. I see spears!--it is an immense cavalcade--five led horses!--this
is no game for us.’

In fact, as they approached, it was easy to discover that it was no
caravan, but some great personage, the governor of a province at least,
who was travelling, attended by a numerous escort of horsemen and
servants, and with all the pomp and glitter usual on such occasions.

My heart leaped within me when I saw this, for here was an excellent
opportunity for escape. Could I approach near enough to be taken
prisoner by them, without exciting any previous suspicion in my master,
I should be safe; and although I might be ill-treated at first, still I
trusted to my eloquence to make my story believed. Accordingly, I said
to my companion, ‘Let us approach nearer’; and, without waiting for his
permission, I excited my horse onwards. He immediately followed, with
an intention of stopping me; but we had no sooner cleared the small
elevated ground behind which we had posted ourselves, than we came in
full view of the whole party, and were scarcely a bow-shot from them.
As soon as we were discovered, some six or seven of their best horsemen
were detached from the rest of the body, and, at the fullest speed of
their horses, came towards us. We turned about to fly: as much as Aslan
urged on his steed, so much did I restrain mine; and by this maneuver
I was very soon overtaken and seized. To be knocked off my horse,
disarmed, plundered of my fifty ducats, my razors and all my other
effects, was but the business of a few seconds; and although I assured
my new masters that I was in no intention to leave them, still they
persisted in tying my arms behind me, with my own shawl, which they took
from round my waist for that purpose. Thus pinioned, and receiving blows
every now and then, because I did not move fast enough, I was dragged
before their chief, who had made a halt, surrounded by his attendants.

From the sort of attentions which he received, and the low inclinations
of the body that were made before him, I imagined that he must be a
royal personage, and I was soon informed as much, when I came near; for
several blows on the head were given me, as hints to make me prostrate
myself before a _shahzadeh_, or prince. A large circle being made, he
ordered me to be released, and, as soon as I felt myself free, at one
bound I disengaged myself from those near me, and seizing upon the skirt
of his cloak,[21] as he was seated on his horse, exclaimed, ‘_Penah
be shahzadeh!_ protection from the prince.’ One of the guards rushed
forward to punish my audacity; but the prince would not allow the sacred
custom to be infringed, and promised me his protection. Ordering his
servants not to molest me, he, at the same time, commanded me to relate
how I came to be placed in the predicament in which I now stood.

Falling on my knees, and kissing the ground, I related my story in as
concise a manner as possible; and, to corroborate all that I had said,
added, that if he would order his horsemen to attack the party of
Turcomans, who still were close at hand, they might release the king’s
poet, with two other Persians, who were prisoners in their hands, and
they would fully confirm all that I had asserted.

I had no sooner said this than the horsemen, who had pursued Aslan
Sultan, returned, with looks of great dismay, swearing by Ali and by
the head of the king, that an immense body of Turcomans, at least 1,000
strong, were marching down upon us, and that the prince must prepare
to fight. In vain I explained to them that they were only twenty in
number--no body would believe me; I was treated as a spy and a liar, and
every one said that if the Turcomans did attack, they would put me to
death on the spot. The party then proceeded onwards at a good pace,
looking about in all directions for the expected enemy, and betraying
all those symptoms of apprehension which the very name of Turcoman
excites throughout the whole of Persia.

My own horse had been taken from me, and I was permitted to ride upon
a baggage mule, where I had time to ponder over my wretched fate and
miserable prospects. Without a farthing in my pocket, without a
friend, I saw nothing before me but starvation. I had not yet become a
sufficiently good Mussulman to receive comfort from predestination, and
I absolutely sobbed aloud at my own folly, for having voluntarily
been the cause of my present misery. That fond partiality for my own
countrymen, which used to predominate so powerfully in my breast when I
was a prisoner, entirely forsook me here, and I cursed them aloud.

‘You call yourselves Mussulmans!’ said I to those around me: ‘you have
not the feelings of dogs. Dogs did I say? You are worse than Christian
dogs--the Turcomans are men compared to you.’

Then when I found that this sort of language only produced laughter
in my auditors, I tried what entreaty would do. ‘For the love of Imam
Hossein, for the sake of the Prophet, by the souls of your children, why
do you treat a stranger thus? Am I not a Mussulman like yourselves? What
have I done that I should be made to devour this grief? I sought refuge
amongst you as friends, and I am thrust away as an enemy.’

For all this I got no consolation, excepting from an old muleteer, by
name Ali Katir, who had just lighted his _kalian_, or water pipe, and
giving it to me to smoke, said, ‘My son, everything in this world is in
the hand of God.’ Pointing to the mule upon which he rode, he added, ‘If
God has made this animal white, can Ali Katir make it black? It one
day gets a feed of corn; on the next it browses upon a thistle. Can we
contend with fate? Smoke your pipe now and be happy, and be thankful
that it is no worse with you. Hafiz says, “Every moment of pleasure that
you enjoy, account it gain--who can say what will be the event of any

This speech of the muleteer soothed me a little, and as he found that
I was as well versed in Hafiz as he,[22] and not backward in permitting
myself to be comforted, he treated me with much kindness, and made me a
partaker of his mess during the remainder of the journey. He informed
me that the prince, into whose hands I had fallen, was the Shah’s fifth
son, who had lately been installed in the government of the province
of Khorassan, and was now on his road to Meshed, the seat of his
jurisdiction. He was escorted by a greater number of attendants than
ordinary, on account of the alarming state of the Turcoman frontier, and
it was said that he had instructions to commence very active operations
against that people, as many of whose heads as possible he was invited
to send to Tehran, to be piled up before the gate of the royal palace;
and you may account yourself very fortunate,’ added the muleteer, ‘that
yours was not taken off your shoulders. Had you happened to be fair,
with little eyes, and without much hair, instead of being a dark man, as
you are, you certainly would have been put to death, and your head have
been pickled, and made to pass for that of a Turcoman.’

When we had reached our resting-place at night, which was a lonely
caravanserai half in ruins, situated on the skirts of the desert, I
determined to endeavour to procure admittance to the prince, and to make
an effort to regain my fifty ducats, and my horse and arms, which I made
no scruple in claiming as my own, notwithstanding a certain little voice
within me, which told me that another had almost as much right to them
as I had. I accordingly watched an opportunity, just before the evening
prayer, of presenting myself to him. He was seated on a carpet that had
been spread on the terrace of the caravanserai, reposing himself on his
cushion, and before his attendants had time to beat me off, I exclaimed,
‘_Arzi darum_, I have a petition to make.’ Upon which he ordered me to
approach, and asked me what I wanted? I complained of the treatment I
had received from his servants who had first seized me--related how they
had robbed me of my fifty ducats; and then entreated that my horse and
arms might be restored to me. He inquired of those surrounding him who
the men were that I complained of, and when their names were mentioned,
he sent his chief tent-pitcher to conduct them to him. As soon as they
appeared, for they were two, I recognized the aggressors, and affirmed
them to be such to the prince.

‘Sons of dogs,’ said he to them, ‘where is the money you stole from this

‘We took nothing,’ they immediately exclaimed.

‘We shall soon see that,’ answered he. ‘Call the ferashes,’ said he to
one of his officers, ‘and let them beat the rogues on the soles of their
feet till they produce the fifty ducats.’

They were immediately seized, and when their feet were in the air,
strongly tied in the noose, and after receiving a few blows, they
confessed that they had taken the money, and produced it. It was
forthwith carried to the prince, who deliberately counted it over, and,
putting it under the cushion upon which he was reclining, released the
culprits, and said in a loud voice to me, ‘You are dismissed.’ I stood
with my mouth wide open, hoping to see the money handed over to me,
when his master of the ceremonies took me by the shoulders and pushed me
away. I exclaimed, ‘And my money, where is it?’

‘What does he say?’ said the prince: ‘give him the shoe if he speaks

When the master of the ceremonies, taking off his high green slipper,
struck me over the mouth with the heel of it, shod with iron, saying,
‘Do you speak to a king’s son thus? Go in peace, and keep your eyes
open, or you’ll have your ears cut off’; and so I was pushed and dragged
violently away.

I returned in utter despair to my muleteer, who appeared not in the
least surprised at what had happened and said, ‘What could you expect
more? After all, is he not a prince? When once he or any man in power
gets possession of a thing, do you think that they will ever restore it?
You might as well expect a mule to give up a mouthful of fresh grass,
when once it has got it within its mouth, as a prince to give up money
that has once been in his hands.’

[Illustration: Hajji carries the great water-sack. 7.jpg]


Hajji Baba, in his distress, becomes a saka, or water-carrier.

We reached Meshed in due time, and the prince made his solemn entry
amidst all the noise, parade, and confusion, attendant upon such
ceremonies. I found myself a solitary being, in a strange city,
distant from my friends, and from any creature to whom I might look
for assistance, and without even a pair of razors to comfort me. When
I looked at my present means, I found that they consisted of five
tomauns--which I had managed to secrete from the sack I had stolen in
the caravanserai, and which I put between the lining of my cap--of a
brown woollen coat, of a sheep-skin jacket, a shirt, a pair of trousers,
and a heavy pair of boots. I had lived upon the muleteer as long as he
enjoyed the daily allowance of provisions that he received during the
time when he was attached to the suite of the prince; but now that
he and his mules were discharged, I could not expect that he should
continue to support me. I thought of again taking to my profession; but
who would trust their throats to a man who had the reputation of being
a Turcoman spy? Besides, although I might purchase razors, yet my means
were not large enough to set up a shop, and I was determined not to
become a journeyman.

My friend the muleteer, who knew the ways and means of Meshed,
recommended me strongly to become a _saka_, or water-carrier. ‘You are
young, and strong,’ said he: ‘you have a good voice, and would entice
people to drink by a harmonious cry. You have besides a great talent
for cant and palaver, and for laughing at one’s beard. The number of
pilgrims who come to Meshed to perform their devotions at the tomb of
the Imâm is great, and charity being one of the principal instruments
which they use for the salvation of their souls, they give freely to
those who promise them the best reward. You must sell each draught in
the name and for the sake Imâm Hossein, our favourite saint. Always
offer it gratis; but be sure you get money in hand before you pour it
out; and when your customer has drunk, say, with great emphasis,
‘May your draught be propitious! May the holy Imâm take you under his
protection! May you never suffer the thirst of the blessed Hossein!’
and such like sort of speeches, which you must chant out so loud that
everybody may hear you. In short, to devotees who come some hundreds of
parasangs to say their prayers, you may say anything and everything, and
you will be sure to be believed. I myself have been a saka at Meshed,
and know the trade. It has enabled me to buy a string of mules, and to
be the man you see.’

I followed my friend’s advice. I forthwith laid out my money in buying a
leather sack, with a brass cock, which I slung round my body, and also a
bright drinking cup. After having filled my sack with water, and let it
soak for some time, in order to do away the bad smell of the leather, I
sallied forth, and proceeded to the tomb, where I immediately began
my operations. The cry I adopted was ‘Water, water! in the name of the
Imâm, water.’ This I chanted with all the force and swell of my lungs,
and having practised under the tuition of the muleteer for two days
before, I was assured that I acquitted myself as well as the oldest
practitioners. As soon as I appeared, I immediately drew the attention
of the other sakas, who seemed to question the right I had to exercise
their profession. When I showed myself at the reservoir, to draw water,
they would have quarrelled with me, and one attempted to push me in; but
they found I was resolute, and that my resolution was backed by a set
of strong and active limbs, and therefore confined themselves to abusive
language, of which being the entire master, I soon got the lead, and
completely silenced them. Nature, in fact, seemed to have intended me
for a saka. The water which I had a moment before drawn from a filthy
reservoir, I extolled as having flowed from a spring created by Ali in
person equal to the sacred well of Zem Zem, and a branch of the river
which flows through Paradise. It is inconceivable how it was relished,
and how considerable was the money I received for giving it gratis. I
was always on the watch to discover when a new set of pilgrims should
arrive, and before they had even alighted from their mules, all dusty
from the road, and all happy at having escaped the Turcomans, I plied
them in the name of the Prophet with a refreshing draught, and made them
recollect that, this being the first devotional act which they performed
on reaching Meshed, so out of gratitude for their safe arrival, they
ought to reward me liberally; and my admonitions were scarcely ever

The commemoration of the death of Hossein, which is so religiously kept
throughout Persia, was now close at hand, and I determined to put myself
into training to appear as the water-carrier, who on the last day of
the festival, which is held the most sacred, performs a conspicuous
character in the tragedy. This was to be acted in public before the
prince in the great open square of the city, and I expected to acquire
much reputation and profit from the feat of strength which I should
perform, which consists of carrying an immense sack full of water on
the back, accompanied by additional exertions. I had a rival, who
accomplished the task on the last festival; but as the sack I was about
to carry contained infinitely more water than he could support, my claim
to superiority was not to be disputed. However, I was advised to be
on my guard, for he was of a jealous character, and would not lose an
opportunity of doing me an injury if he could. When the day arrived,
the prince being seated in an upper room situated over the gate of his
palace, and the whole population of the city assembled to witness
the religious ceremonies, I appeared naked to the waist, with my body
streaming with blood, slowly walking under the weight of my immense
sack. Having reached the window at which the prince was seated,
I attracted his notice by loud exclamations for his happiness and
prosperity. He threw me down a gold coin, and expressed himself pleased
with my performance. In my exultation I invited several boys, who were
near at hand for the purpose, to pile themselves upon my load, which
they did, to the astonishment of the crowd, who encouraged me by their
cries and applause. I called for another boy, when my rival, who had
watched his opportunity, sprang forwards and mounted himself on the very
top of all, hoping, no doubt, to crush me: but, exerting myself to
the utmost of my strength, I carried my burden clean off, amidst the
animating shouts of the staring multitude. But although in the heat of
the exertion I felt no inconvenience, yet when I was disencumbered I
found that my back was sprained so severely, that I was totally unfitted
for the trade of a water-carrier for the future. I therefore sold
my sack and other articles, and, with the money that I had gained
in water-selling, found myself well off, compared to the deplorable
situation in which I was on my arrival at Meshed. My friend the muleteer
had departed some time before the festival with a caravan for Tehran, so
I was deprived of his counsels. I should have demanded justice for the
injury done me by my rival, and might have dragged him before the cadi;
but I was assured that in the Mohammedan law there is no provision made
for a sprain. It is written an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;
but there is no sprain for a sprain. Had I had some powerful protector,
who would have prosecuted the business for me, perhaps I might have got
redress; but a miserable creature like myself, unknown and unfriended,
I could have gained nothing, and should perhaps have stood a chance of
losing the little money I had acquired.


He makes a soliloquy, and becomes an itinerant vendor of smoke.

I held a consultation with myself as to what I should do next for my
livelihood. Various walks in life were open to me. The begging line
was an excellent one in Meshed, and, judging from my success as
water-carrier, I should very soon have been at the head of the
profession. I might also have become a _lûti_,[23] and kept a bear; but
it required some apprenticeship to learn the tricks of the one, and
to know how to tame the other: so I gave that up. Still I might have
followed my own profession, and have taken a shop; but I could not bear
the thoughts of settling, particularly in so remote a town as Meshed.
At length I followed the bent of my inclination, and, as I was myself
devotedly fond of smoking, I determined to become an itinerant seller
of smoke. Accordingly I bought pipes of various sizes, a wooden tray,
containing the pipe-heads, which was strapped round my waist, an iron
pot for fire, which I carried in my hand, a pair of iron pincers, a
copper jug for water, that was suspended by a hook, behind my back, and
some long bags for my tobacco. All these commodities were fastened about
my body, and when I was fully equipped, I might be said to look like
a porcupine with all its quills erect. My tobacco was of various
sorts--Tabas, Shiraz, Susa, and Damascus. It is true that I was not very
scrupulous about giving it pure; for with a very small quantity of the
genuine leaf I managed to make a large store, with the assistance of
different sorts of dungs. I had a great tact in discovering amongst my
customers the real connoisseur, and to him I gave it almost genuine. My
whole profits, in fact, depended upon my discrimination of characters.
To those of the middling ranks, I gave it half-mixed; to the lower sort,
three-quarters; and to the lowest, almost without any tobacco at all.
Whenever I thought I could perceive a wry face, I immediately exerted my
ingenuity in favour of the excellence of my tobacco. I showed specimens
of the good, descanted on its superior qualities, and gave the history
of the very gardener who had reared it, and pledged myself to point out
the very spot in his grounds where it grew.

I became celebrated in Meshed for the excellence of my pipes. My
principal customer was a dervish, who was so great a connoisseur that
I never dared to give him any but pure tobacco; and although I did not
gain much by his custom, as he was not very exact in his payments, yet
his conversation was so agreeable, and he recommended so many of his
friends to me, that I cultivated his good will to the utmost of my

Dervish Sefer (for that was his name) was a man of peculiar aspect. He
had a large aquiline nose, piercing black eyes, a thick beard, and a
great quantity of jet black hair flowing over his shoulders. His conical
cap was embroidered all over with sentences from the Koran, and holy
invocations: the skin of a red deer was fastened loosely upon his back,
with the hairy side outwards: he bore in hand a long steel staff, which
he generally carried on his shoulder, and in the other a calabash,
suspended by three chains, which he extended whenever he deigned to ask
the charity of passengers. In his girdle he wore large agate clasps,
from which hung a quantity of heavy wooden beads; and, as he swung
himself along through the streets and bazaars, there was so much of
wildness and solicitude in all his words and actions, that he did not
fail to inspire a certain awe in all beholders. This, I afterwards
learn, was put on, in order to suit the character which he had adopted;
for when he smoked my pipes, if no one chanced to be present, he was the
most natural and unreserved of beings. Our acquaintance soon improved
into intimacy, and at length he introduced me into a small circle of
dervishes, men of his own turn and profession, with whom he lived almost
exclusively, and I was invited to frequent their meetings. It is true
that this did not suit my views in the smoking line, for they amongst
them consumed more of my good tobacco than all the rest of my other
customers put together; but their society was so agreeable that I could
not resist the temptation.

Dervish Sefer, one evening when we had smoked more than usual, said to
me, ‘Hajji Baba, you are too much of a man to be a seller of smoke all
your life:--why do you not turn dervish, like us? We hold men’s beards
as cheap as dirt; and although our existence is precarious, yet it is
one of great variety, as well as of great idleness. We look upon mankind
as fair game--we live upon their weakness and credulity; and, from what
I have seen of you, I think you would do honour to our profession, and
in time become as celebrated as even the famous Sheikh Saadi himself.’
This speech was applauded by the other two, who pressed my entering upon
their profession. I was nothing loath, but I pleaded my ignorance of the
necessary qualifications.

‘How is it possible,’ said I, ‘that a being so ignorant and
unexperienced as I am can at once attain to all the learning requisite
for a dervish? I know how to read and write, ’tis true; I have gone
through the Koran, and have my Hafiz and Saadi nearly by heart; besides
which, I have read a great part of the Shah Nameh of Ferdûsi, but beyond
that I am totally ignorant.’

‘Ah, my friend,’ said Dervish Sefer, ‘little do you know of dervishes,
and still less of humankind. It is not great learning that is required
to make a dervish: assurance is the first ingredient. With one-fiftieth
part of the accomplishments that you have mentioned, and with only a
common share of effrontery, I promise you, that you may command not only
the purses, but even the lives of your hearers. By impudence I have been
a prophet, by impudence I have wrought miracles, by impudence I have
restored the dying to health--by impudence, in short, I lead a life of
great ease, and am feared and respected by those who, like you, do not
know what dervishes are. If I chose to give myself the trouble, and
incur the risks which Mahomed himself did, I might even now become as
great a prophet as he. It would be as easy for me to cut the moon in two
with my finger as it was for him, provided I once made my hearers have
confidence in me; and impudence will do that, and more, if exerted in a
proper manner.’

When Dervish Sefer had done talking, his companions applauded what he
had said, and they related so many curious anecdotes of the feats which
they had performed, that I became very anxious to know more of these
extraordinary men. They promised to relate the history of their lives at
our next meeting, and, in the meanwhile, recommended me strongly to turn
my thoughts to a line of life more dignified, and fuller of enjoyment,
than that of a vagabond seller of adulterated smoke.

[Illustration: The dervish slays the ape. 8.jpg]


History of Dervish Sefer, and of two other dervishes.

When we had again collected ourselves together, each with a pipe in his
hand, seated with our backs against the wall, in a room, the window of
which opened into a small square planted with flowers, Dervish Sefer, as
the acknowledged head of our society, began his story in the following

‘I am the son of the Lûti Bashi, or head Merry-Andrew of the Prince
of Shiraz, by a celebrated courtezan of the name of _Taous_, or the
Peacock. With such parents, I leave you to imagine the education which
I received. My principal associates, during my infancy, were the monkeys
and bears that belonged to my father and his friends, and, perhaps,
it is to the numerous tricks in which they were instructed, and to the
facility with which they learnt them, that I am indebted for the talent
of mimicry that has been of so much use to me through life. At fifteen I
was an accomplished lûti. I could eat fire, spout water, and perform all
sorts of sleight of hand, and I should very probably have continued to
prosper in this profession, had not the daughter of the prince’s general
of camel artillery become enamoured of me, as I danced on the tight-rope
before the court on the festival of the new year’s day. A young
camel-driver under his orders had a sister who served in the harem of
the general: he was my most intimate friend, and his sister gave him the
intelligence of the effect my appearance had produced upon her mistress.
I immediately went to a mîrza or scribe, who lived in a small shed in
a corner of the bazaar, and requested of him to write a love-letter for
me, with as much red ink in it as possible, and crossed and re-crossed
with all the complication he could devise. Nothing could be better than
this composition--for at the very outset it informed my mistress that I
was dead, and that my death was owing to the fire of her eyes, that had
made roast meat of my heart. Notwithstanding this assertion, I ventured
at the end to say that as I had never yet seen her, I hoped that she
would contrive to grant me an interview. In the joy of my heart for the
possession of such a letter, in great confidence I told the scribe who
my charmer was, which he had no sooner heard, than hoping to receive
a present for his trouble, he went forthwith and informed the general
himself of the fact. That the son of the _Lûti Bashi_ should dare to
look up to the daughter of _Zambûrekchi Bashi_ was a crime not to be
forgiven, and as the latter had influence at court, he procured an order
for my instant removal from Shiraz. My father did not wish to incur the
prince’s displeasure, and fearing, from my growing celebrity, that I
should very soon rival him in his own profession, rather urged than
delayed my departure. On the morning when I was about quitting Shiraz,
and was bidding adieu to my friends the monkeys, bears, and other
animals under his care, he said to me, “Sefer, my son, I should be sorry
to part with you; but with the education which you have received, and
the peculiar advantages which you have had of living almost entirely
in the society of me and my beasts, it is impossible but that you will
succeed in life. I now endow you with what will ensure you a rapid
fortune. I give you my chief ape, the most accomplished of his species.
Make a friend of him for your own sake, and love him for mine; and I
hope in time that you will reach the eminence to which your father has
attained.” Upon this he placed the animal upon my shoulder, and thus
accompanied I left the paternal roof.

‘I took the road to Ispahan, in no very agreeable mood, for I scarcely
knew whether to be happy or sorry for this change in my circumstances.
A monkey and independence were certainly delightful things; but to leave
my associates, and the places that were endeared to me from my infancy,
and, above all, to abandon that fair unknown, whom my imagination had
pictured to me as lovely as _Shireen_ herself, were circumstances which
appeared to me so distressing, that by the time I had reached the hut
of the dervish, at the _Teng Allah Akbar_, my mind sank into a miserable
fit of despondency. I seated myself on a stone, near the hut, and,
with my monkey by my side, I gave vent to my grief in a flood of tears,
exclaiming, “_Ah wahi! Ah wahi!_” in accents the most piteous that can
be imagined.

‘These brought the dervish out, and when he had heard my tale, invited
me into the hut, where I found another dervish, of much more commanding
aspect than the former. He was clad nearly in the same manner that I am
now (indeed, the cap I wear was his); but there was a wildness about his
looks that was quite imposing.

‘At the sight of me and my companion, he appeared struck by a sudden
thought. He and the other dervish having talked together in private, he
proposed that I should accompany him to Ispahan, promised that he would
be kind to me, and, if I behaved well, would put me into the way of
making my fortune. I readily agreed, and after the dervish of the hut
had given us a pipe to smoke, we departed, walking at a good pace;
without much being said between us during some time.

_Dervish Bideen_, for that was his name, at length began to question
me very closely about my former life, and hearing in what my
accomplishments consisted, seemed to be well pleased. He then descanted
upon the advantages attending the life of a dervish, proved them to be
superior to the low pursuits of a lûti, and at length persuaded me to
embrace his profession. He said, that if I would look upon him as my
master, he would teach me all he knew, and _that_, he assured me, was no
small portion of knowledge, inasmuch as he was esteemed the most perfect
dervish in Persia. He began to talk of magic and astrology, and gave
me various receipts for making spells and charms, to serve on every
occasion in life; by the sale of which alone I should be able to make
my fortune. The tail of a hare, placed under the pillow of a child, he
assured me, produces sleep; and its blood, given to a horse, makes him
fleet and long-winded. The eye and the knuckle-bones of a wolf, attached
to a boy’s person, give him courage; and its fat, rubbed on a woman,
will convert her husband’s love into indifference: its gall, used in
the same manner, produces fruitfulness. But the article which bore the
greatest price in the seraglios was the _kûs keftar_, the dried skin
of a female hyena; which, if worn about the person, conciliated the
affection of all to the wearer. He discoursed long upon these and
such-like subjects, until he gradually excited so much interest in
my heart, by thus placing my fortune apparently in full view, that at
length he ventured to make a proposal, which he easily judged would be

‘“Sefer,” said he to me, “you know not the treasure you possess in that
ape,--I do not mean as he stands now alive, but dead. If he were dead, I
could extract such ingredients from him to make charms, which would sell
for their weight in gold in the harem of the Shah. You must know, that
the liver of an ape, and only of that particular species which you
possess, is sure to bring back the love of a desired object to the
person who may possess it. Then the skin of its nose, if worn round
the neck, is a decisive preventive against poison; and the ashes of the
animal itself, after it has been burnt over a slow tire, will, if taken
internally, give all the qualities of the ape, cunning, adroitness,
and the powers of imitation.” He then proposed that we should kill the

‘I was certainly alarmed at the proposal. I had been brought up with my
ape; we had hitherto gone through life together in prosperity as well as
in adversity; and to lose him in this barbarous manner was more than I
could bear. I was about to give a flat refusal to the dervish, when I
observed that his countenance, which hitherto had been all smiles and
good humour, had changed to downright furiousness; and fearing that
he would take by force that which I could not protect, I, with all the
reluctance imaginable, consented to the execution of his project. We
then deviated from the road; and having got into a solitary glen, we
gathered together some dry stubble and underwood, made a fire, striking
a light with a flint and steel, which my companion carried about him. He
took my poor ape into his hands, and, without further ceremony, put it
to death. He then dissected it; and having taken from it the liver, and
the skin off its nose, burnt it in the pile we had made; and when all
was over, carefully collected the ashes, which having packed in a corner
of his handkerchief, we proceeded on our journey.

‘We reached Ispahan in due time, where I exchanged such parts of my
dress as belonged to the lûti for the garb of a dervish, and then we
proceeded to Tehran. Here my master’s appearance produced great effect;
for no sooner was it known that he was arrived, than all sorts of people
flocked to consult him. Mothers wanted protection for their children
against the evil eye; wives a spell against the jealousy of their
husbands; warriors talismans to secure them from harm in battle. But the
ladies of the king’s seraglio were his principal customers. Their most
urgent demand was some powerful charm to ensure the attention of the
king. The collection of materials for this purpose, which the Dervish
Bideen had made, was very great. He had the hairs of a lynx, the
back-bone of an owl, and bear’s grease in various preparations. To one
of the ladies, who, owing to her advanced age, was more pressing than
the others, he sold the liver of my monkey, assuring her, that as
soon as she appeared wearing it about her person, his majesty would
distinguish her from her rivals. To another, who complained that she was
never in favour, and frustrated in all her schemes to attract notice,
he administered a decoction of the monkey’s ashes; and to a third, who
wanted a charm to drive away wrinkles, he gave an ointment, which, if
property applied, and provided she did not laugh, or otherwise move the
muscles of her face, would effectually keep them smooth.

I was initiated into all these mysteries, and frequently was a party
concerned in a fraud, whenever my master was put to the necessity of
doing something supernatural to support his credit, if by chance his
spells were palpably of no avail. But whatever profit arose either
from these services, or from the spoils of my monkey, he alone was the
gainer, for I never touched a _ghauz_[24]of it.

‘I accompanied the Dervish Bideen into various countries, where we
practised our art: sometimes we were adored as saints, and at others
stoned for vagrants. Our journeys being performed on foot, I had good
opportunities to see every place in detail. We travelled from Tehran to
Constantinople, and from that capital to Grand Cairo, through Aleppo and
Damascus. From Cairo we showed ourselves at Mecca and Medina; and taking
ship at Jedda, landed at Surat, in the Guzerat, whence we walked to
Lahore and Cashmire.

‘At this last place, the dervish, according to custom, endeavoured to
deceive the natives; but they were too enlightened for us, and we were
obliged to steal away in disgrace; and we at length fixed ourselves
at Herat, where we were repaid for our former want of success by the
credulity of the Affghans, who were good enough to admit all that we
chose to tell them. But here, as the dervish was getting up a plan to
appear as a prophet, and when our machinery for performing miracles was
nearly completed, he, who had promised eternal youth to thousands, at
length paid the debt of nature himself. He had shut himself up in a
small hut, situated at the top of a mountain near Herat, where we made
the good people believe he was living upon no other food than that which
the _Gins_ and _Peris_ brought to him; but unfortunately he actually
died of a surfeit, having ate more of a roast lamb and sweetmeats than
his nature could support. For my own credit, I was obliged to say,
that the Gins, jealous of us mortals for possessing the society of
so wonderful a person, had so inflated him with celestial food, that,
leaving no room for his soul, it had been completely blown out of his
body, and carried away into the fifth heaven by a strong north-east
wind, which was blowing at the time. This wind, which lasts for 120 days
during the summer months, and without which the inhabitants would
almost die with heat, I endeavoured to make them believe was a miracle
performed by the dervish in their favour, as a parting legacy to them
and their descendants for ever. The old men, indeed, who recollected the
wind ever since their youth, were incredulous; but their testimony bore
but little weight, compared to the influence which we had acquired. He
was buried with the greatest honours; and the prince of Herat himself,
_Eshek Mirza_, lent his shoulder to bear his coffin to the grave. A
mausoleum was erected over it by some of the most pious of the Affghans,
and it has ever since been a place of pilgrimage from all the country

‘I remained at Herat for some time after the death of my companion, in
order to enjoy the advantages which might accrue to me from being the
friend and disciple of one of such high reputation, and I did not repent
of my resolution. I disposed of my spells at great prices, and moreover
made a considerable sum by selling the combings of my deceased friend’s
beard, and the cuttings of his nails, which I assured my purchasers
had been carefully preserved during the time of his retirement in the
mountains; although in fact they were chiefly collected from my
own person. When I had sold of these relics enough to make several
respectable beards, and a proportionate quantity of nails, I felt that
if I persisted in the traffic, notwithstanding the inordinate credulity
of the Affghans, I might be discovered for a cheat, therefore I took
my departure, and, having travelled into various parts of Persia, I at
length fixed myself among the Hezareh, a large tribe, living for the
most part in tents, and which occupy the open country between Caboul
and Candahar. My success among them was something quite beyond my
expectation, for I put into practice what the Dervish Bideen had planned
at Herat, and actually appeared in the character of a prophet.’

The Dervish Sefer then, laying his hand upon the shoulder of the dervish
who sat next to him, said, ‘My friend, here, was my accomplice on that
occasion, and he will remember how ingeniously we managed to make the
Hezareh believe that we possessed a cauldron which was always full of
boiled rice--a miracle which even the most incredulous did not fail
to believe, as long as they got their share of it. In short, I am the
celebrated _Hazret Ishan_ himself; he of whom you have lately heard
so much in Khorassan; and although my sacred character was not proof
against the attacks made upon it by the arms of the Shah, yet, while it
lasted, I collected enough from the zeal and credulity of my disciples
to enable me to pass the remainder of my life in comfort. I have lived
at Meshed for some time; and it is but a week ago that we contrived to
perform the miracle of giving sight to a blind girl; so now are held in
the highest veneration.’

Here the Dervish Sefer ended his history, and then called upon his next
neighbour to give an account of himself. This was the dervish who had
been his accomplice among the Hezareb, and he began as follows:

‘My father was a celebrated man of the law, of the city of Kom, enjoying
the reputation of saying his prayers, making his ablutions, and keeping
his fasts more regularly than any man in Persia; in short, he was the
cream of Shîahs, and the model of Mussulmans. He had many sons, and we
were brought up in the strictest practice of the external parts of
our religion. The rigour and severity with which we were treated were
combated on our part by cunning and dissimulation. These qualities
gradually fixed themselves in our character; and without any
consideration for our circumstances, we were early branded as a nest of
hypocrites, and as the greatest cheats and liars of our birth-place.
I, in particular, was so notorious that in my own defence I became a
dervish, and I owe the reputation which I have acquired in that calling
to the following fortunate circumstance.

‘I had scarcely arrived at Tehran, and had taken up my quarters opposite
to a druggist’s shop, when I was called up in a great hurry by an old
woman, who informed me that her master, the druggist, had just been
taken exceedingly ill, after having eaten more than usual; that the
medicine which he had taken had not performed its office; and that his
family wished to try what a talisman would do for him: she therefore
invited me to write one suited to his case. As I had neither paper,
pens, nor ink, I insisted upon going into his _anderûn_, or woman’s
apartments, and writing it there, to which she consented. I was
introduced into a small square yard, and then into a room, where I found
the sick man extended on his bed on the ground, surrounded by as many
women as the place could hold, who cried aloud, and exclaimed, “_Wahi,
wahi_, in the name of God he dies, he dies!” The implements of medicine
were spread about, which showed that everything had been done either to
kill or save him. A large basin, which had contained the prescription,
was seen on the shelf; the long glass tube, that instrument of torture,
was in a corner; and among other furniture, the dotor himself was seen
seated, unconcernedly enjoying his pipe, and who, having found that
human means were inefficient, had had recourse to supernatural, and had
prescribed, as a last resource, the talisman, which it was my fate to
write. A new dervish excited new hopes, for I saw that I produced
much stir as I entered the sick room, I asked for paper with an air of
authority, as if I felt great confidence in my own powers, (although,
in fact, I had never written a talisman before), and a large piece was
produced, which seemed to have been the wrapper to some drug or other.
Pen and ink were also given me; and then calling up all my gravity, I
scrawled the paper over in a variety of odd characters, which here and
there contained the names of Allah, Mohamed, Ali, Hassan, and Hossein,
and all the Imâms, placing them in different anagrams, and substituting
here and there figures instead of letters. I then handed it over with
great ceremony to the doctor, who, calling for water and a basin, washed
the whole from off the paper into the basin, whilst the bystanders
offered up prayers for the efficacy of the precious writing. The doctor
then said, “In the name of the prophet, let the patient take this; and
if fate hath decreed that he is to live, then the sacred names which
he will now swallow will restore him: but if not, neither my skill, nor
that of any other man, can ever be of the least avail.”

‘The draught was administered, and every eye was immediately fixed upon
the wretched man’s face, as if a resuscitation was expected to ensue. He
remained for some time without showing any symptom of life; when, to the
astonishment of all, not excepting myself and the doctor, he groaned,
opened his eyes, raised his head on his arm, then called for a basin,
and at length vomited in a manner that would have done credit to the
prescription of Abu Avicenna himself. In short, he recovered.

‘In my own mind, I immediately attributed the happy change to the drug
which had once been wrapped in the paper, and which, with the nausea of
the ink, had produced the effect just described; but I took care to let
the bystanders know that the cure was entirely owing to the interference
and to the handwriting of one of my sanctity; and that but for me he
would have died.

‘The doctor, on the other hand, took all the merit of the case to
himself; for as soon as his patient had opened his eyes, he exclaimed,
“Did I not tell you so?” and in proportion as the draught operated,
he went on exulting thus: “There, there, see the efficacy of my
prescription! Had it not been for me, you would have seen the druggist
dead before you.”

‘I, however, would not allow him to proceed, and said: “If you are a
doctor, why did you not cure your patient without calling for me? Keep
to your blisters and to your bleedings, and do not interfere with that
which doth not belong to you.”

‘He answered, “Mr. Dervish, I make no doubt that you can write a very
good talisman, and also can get a very good price for it; but every one
knows who and what dervishes are; and if their talismans are ever of
use, it is not their sanctity which makes them so.”

“Whose dog are you,” exclaimed I, in return, “to talk to me after this
manner? I, who am a servant of the prophet. As for you doctors, your
ignorance is proverbial: you hide it by laying all to fate: if by chance
your patient recovers, then you take all the credit of the cure to
yourselves; should he die, you say, God hath decreed thus; what can the
efforts of man avail? Go to, go to; when you have nearly killed your
next patient, and then know not what more to ordain, send for me again,
and I will cover your impudent ignorance by curing him as I have just
done the druggist.”

“By my head, and by your death,” returned the doctor, “I am not a man
to hear this from any one, much less from a dog of a dervish:” and
immediately he got up and approached me in a threatening attitude,
making use of every epithet of abuse that he could think of.

‘I received him with suitable expressions of contempt, and we very soon
came to blows; he so effectually fastened upon my hair, and I upon his
beard,[25] that we plucked out whole handfuls from each other: we bit
and spat, and fought with such fury, heedless of the sick man and the
cries of the women, that the uproar became very great, and perhaps would
have terminated in something serious, if one of the women had not run
in to us, in great agitation, assuring us that the _Darogah’s_ officers
(police men) were then knocking at the door of the house, and inquiring
whence proceeded all the disturbance.

‘This parted us; and then I was happy to find that the bystanders were
in my favour, for they expressed their contempt of the skill of the
physician, whose only object was to obtain money without doing his
patients any good, whilst they looked upon me in the light of a divine
person, who in handwriting alone possessed the power of curing all
manner of disease.

‘The doctor, seeing how ill matters were going for him, stole away with
the best face he could; but before he left the room, he stooped down,
and collecting as many of the hairs of his beard, which I had plucked
from him, as he could find, to which he cunningly added some of my own
hair, he brandished them in my face, saying, “We shall see on whose side
the laugh will be when you are brought before the cadi to-morrow; for
beards are worth a ducat per hair in Tehran, and I doubt, with all your
talismans, whether you can buy these that I hold in my hand.”

‘It was evident, that when his anger was cooled, out of regard to his
own reputation, he would not put his threat into execution; so the
fear of being dragged before the justice gave me no uneasiness, and
I therefore only considered how to make the most of the fortunate
circumstance which had just taken place. The report that the druggist
(who was the first in Tehran) had been brought to life, when on the
point of death, by a newly arrived dervish, was soon spread about, and I
became the object of general concern. From morning to night I was taken
up in writing talismans, for which I made my customers pay according to
their means, and in a short time I found myself the possessor of some
hundreds of piastres. But unfortunately for me, I did not meet with a
dying druggist and a piece of his paper every day; and feeling myself
reduced to live upon the reputation of this one miracle, which I
perceived to my sorrow daily diminished, I made a virtue of necessity,
and determining to make the tour of Persia, I immediately left Tehran.
To whichsoever city I bent my steps, I managed matters so adroitly, that
I made my reputation precede my arrival there. The druggist had given
me an attestation under his seal, that he had been restored to life by
virtue of a talisman written by my hand, and this I exhibited wherever I
went, to corroborate the truth of the reports which had been circulated
in my favour. I am now living upon this reputation: it supports me very
tolerably for the present, but whenever I find that it begins to rail, I
shall proceed elsewhere.’--The dervish here ended his history.

When the third dervish came to his turn to speak, he said: ‘My tale is
but short, although story-telling is my profession. I am the son of a
schoolmaster, who, perceiving that I was endowed with a very retentive
memory, made me read and repeat to him most of the histories with which
our language abounds; and when he found that he had furnished my mind
with a sufficient assortment, he turned me out into the world under
the garb of dervish, to relate them in public to such audiences as my
talents might gather round me.

‘My first essays were anything but successful. My auditors heard my
stories, and then walked away without leaving me any reward for my
pains. Little by little I acquired experience. Instead of being carried
away, as I had at first permitted myself to he, by the interest of the
story, I made a pause when the catastrophe drew near, and then, looking
around me, said, “All ye that are present, if you will be liberal
towards me, I will tell you what follows;” and I seldom failed in
collecting a good handful of copper coin. For instance, in the story of
the Prince of Khatai and the Princess of Samarcand, when the Ogre _Hezar
Mun_ seizes the prince, and is about to devour him; when he is suspended
in the ogre’s mouth, between his upper and lower jaw; when the princess,
all dishevelled and forlorn, is on her knees praying that he may be
spared; when the attendants couch their lances, and are in dismay; when
the horses start back in fright; when the thunder rolls, and the ogre
growls; then I stop, and say, “Now, my noble hearers, open your purses,
and you shall hear in how miraculous a manner the Prince of Khatai cut
the ogre’s head off!” By such arts, I manage to extract a subsistence
from the curiosity of men; and when my stock of stories is exhausted in
one place, I leave it, travel to another, and there renew my labours.’

[Illustration: Hajji and the disguised Mohtesib. 9.jpg]


Hajji Baba finds that fraud does not remain unpunished, even in this
world--He makes fresh plans.

The dervishes having finished their narratives, I thanked them for
the entertainment and instruction which they had afforded me, and I
forthwith resolved to learn as much from them as possible, in order
to become a dervish myself, in case I should be obliged to abandon my
present business. Dervish Sefer instructed me in the numerous tricks
which he practised, to impose himself upon the world as a person of
great sanctity; I learned the art of writing talismans from the second;
and the story-teller taught me some of the tales with which his head was
stored, lent me his books, and gave me general rules how to lead on the
curiosity of an audience, until their money should insensibly be enticed
from their pockets.

In the meanwhile, I continued to sell my tobacco and my pipes; but owing
to my intimacy with the dervishes, who smoked away all my profits, I
was obliged to adulterate the tobacco of my other customers considerably
more than usual; so that in fact they enjoyed little else than the fumes
of dung, straw, and decayed leaves.

One evening, when it was dusk, and about the time of closing the
bazaars, an old woman in rags, apparently bent double with age, stopped
me, and requested me to dress a pipe for her to smoke. She was closely
veiled, and scarcely uttered a word beyond her want. I filled her one
of my very worst mixtures: she put it to her mouth; and at her spitting,
coughing, and exclamations, half a dozen stout fellows, with long twigs
in their hands, immediately came up, seized me, and threw me on my
back. The supposed old woman then cast off her veil, and I beheld the
_Mohtesib_ in person.[26]

‘At length, wretch of an Ispahani!’ said he, ‘I have caught you--you,
that have so long been poisoning the people of Meshed with your
abominable mixtures. You shall receive as many strokes on your feet as
you have received _shahies_[27] for your pipes. Bring the _felek_,[28]
said he to his officers, ‘and lay on till his nails drop off.’

[Illustration: Hajji receives the ferosles. 10.jpg]

My feet were instantly inserted into the dreaded noose, and the blows
fell upon them so thick, that I soon saw the images of ten thousand
Mohtesibs, intermixed with ten thousand old women, dancing before my
eyes, apparently enjoying my torture, and laughing at my writhing and
contortions. I implored the mercy of my tormentor by the souls of
his father, mother, and grandfather--by his own head--by that of his
child--and by that of his prince; by the Prophet--by Ali--and by all the
Imâms. I cursed tobacco, I renounced smoking. I appealed to the feelings
of the surrounding spectators, to my friends the three dervishes, who
stood there stirring neither limb nor muscle for me; in short, I
bawled, cried, entreated, until I entirely lost all sensation and all

At length, when I came to myself, I found myself seated with my head
against the wall on the side of the road, surrounded by a crowd gaping
at my miserable situation. No one seemed to pity me. My pipes, my jug,
and everything that I possessed, had been taken from me, and I was left
to crawl to my home as well as I was able. Luckily it was not far off,
and I reached it on my hands and knees, making the most piteous moans

After I had remained a day in horrid torment, with my feet swelled into
a misshapen mass of flesh and gore, I received a visit from one of the
dervishes, who ventured to approach me, fearful, as he told me, of being
taken up as my accomplice, in case he had come sooner to my help. He
had, in his early career, undergone a similar beating himself, and,
therefore, knew what remedies to apply to my limbs which, in a short
time, restored them to their former state.

During my confinement, I had time to reflect upon my situation. I
determined to leave Meshed, for I felt that I had entered it at an
unlucky hour. Once my back had been sprained, and once I had been
bastinadoed. I had managed to collect a small sum of money, which I kept
carefully buried in a corner near my room; and with this I intended to
make my way to Tehran by the very first caravan that should be on its
departure. I communicated my plan to the dervishes, who applauded it;
and, moreover, the Dervish Sefer offered to accompany me; ‘for,’ said
he, ‘I have been warned that the priesthood of Meshed are jealous of my
increasing influence, and that they are laying a plot for my ruin; and,
as it is impossible to withstand their power, I will try my fortunes

It was agreed that I should put on the dress of a dervish; and having
made my purchases, in the bazaar, of a cap, some beads, and a goat’s
skin, which I slung across my shoulder, I was ready to begin my journey
at a moment’s warning.

We became so impatient to depart, that we bad almost made up our minds
to set off without any other companions, and trust to our good fortune
to find our road, and escape the dangers of it; but we determined to
take a _fall_ out of Saadi,[29] before we came to a resolution. Dervish
Sefer, after making the usual prayer, opened the book, and read: ‘It
is contrary to reason, and to the advice of the wise, to take medicine
without confidence, or to travel an unknown road without accompanying
the caravan.’ This extraordinary warning settled our minds, and we
determined to be guided by it.

On making inquiries about the departure of caravans for Tehran, I
was delighted to meet my friend Ali Kâtir, the muleteer, who had just
arrived at Meshed, and was then making a bargain with a merchant, to
convey merchandise, consisting of the lambs’ skins of Bokhara, to the
capital. As soon as he saw me, he uttered an exclamation of delight, and
immediately lighted his _nargil_, or water pipe, which he invited me to
smoke with him. I related all my adventures since we last parted, and
he gave me an account of his. Having left Meshed with a caravan for
Ispahan, with his mules loaded partly with bars of silver, and partly
with lambs’ skins; and having undergone great fears on account of the
Turcomans--he reached his destination in safety. That city was still
agitated with the recollections of the late attack of the caravanserai,
of which I have given an account; and the general belief was, that the
invaders had made their approach in a body, consisting of more than a
thousand men; that they had been received with great bravery, and that
one Kerbelai Hassan, a barber, had, with his own hand, wounded one
of the chiefs so severely, that he had escaped with the greatest

I had always kept this part of my adventures secret from everybody; so
I hid any emotion that might appear on my face from the muleteer, by
puffing out a sufficient volume of smoke in his face.

From Ispahan he carried cotton stuffs, tobacco, and copper ware to Yezd,
where he remained some time, until a caravan was collected for Meshed,
when he loaded his mules with the manufactures of the former city. Ali
Kâtir agreed that Dervish Sefer and I should return with him to Tehran,
and that whenever we were tired with walking, he would willingly assist
us, by permitting us to mount his mules.

[Illustration: The shaving of the ass. 11.jpg]


Hajji Baba leaves Meshed, is cured of his sprain, and relates a story.

When I had cleared the gate which leads out of Meshed to Tehran, I shook
the collar of my coat, and exclaimed to myself: ‘May Heaven send thee
misfortunes!’ for had I been heard by any one of the pilgrims, who were
now on their return--it very probably would have gone ill with me. My
companion, Dervish Sefer, whom I knew to be of my mind, entered into my
feelings, and we both vented our spleen against the inhabitants of that
place; I for the drubbings which had been inflicted upon me, he for the
persecutions he had undergone from the Mollahs.

‘As for you, my friend,’ said he to me, ‘you are young; you have much
to suffer before you gain the experience necessary to carry you through
life: do not repine at the first beating; it win probably save you many
more, and will teach you another time to discover a Mohtesib, although
hid under a woman’s veil: but’ (taking hold of his beard) ‘for a man of
my age, one who has seen so much of the world, to be obliged to set out
upon his travels again, is truly a great misfortune.’

‘But it would have been easy for you,’ said I, ‘to remain at Meshed, if
you had chosen it: had you been regular in your prayers and ablutions,
you might have bid defiance to the Mollahs.’

‘That is true enough,’ said the Dervish; ‘but the fact is, that the
festival of the Ramazan is now close at hand, when I should have been
more closely watched than ever by them; and as I cannot and will not
fast (smoking being as necessary to me as air, and wine as daily bread),
I have thought it better to make a journey during that time, for the
sake of the indulgence which is permitted to travellers. I might perhaps
have deceived them, as I have frequently done before, by eating and
smoking in secret; but one so notorious as I, who lives by the supposed
sanctity of his character, being narrowly watched, cannot take such

We arrived at Semnan without the occurrence of anything remarkable,
excepting, that a day or two before we reached it, when I was helping my
friend Ali Kâtir to load one of his mules, I sprained my back again in
its old place: the pain was so great, that it became impossible for
me to proceed with the caravan, and I determined to remain where I was
until I was cured; particularly, as all danger from the Turcomans having
passed, it was needless to make myself any longer a dependant upon a
caravan. Dervish Sefer, who was anxious to get to the wine and pleasures
of the capital, continued his journey.

I took up my abode in a tomb on the skirts of the town; and having
spread my goat’s skin in a corner of it, I proclaimed my arrival,
according to the custom adopted by travelling dervishes, blowing my
horn, and making my exclamations of _Hak! Hû! Allah Akbar!_ in a most
sonorous and audible manner. I had allowed my person to acquire a wild
and extravagant appearance, and flattered myself that I did credit to
the instructions which had been given me in the arts of deception.

[Illustration: Hajji is cauterised for his sprain. 12.jpg]

I was visited by several women, for whom I wrote talismans, and they
repaid me by small presents of fruit, milk, honey, and other trifles.
My back became so painful, that I was obliged to inquire if no one at
Semnan could afford me relief. The barber and the farrier were the
only two supposed to possess any medical talents; the one skilled
in bleeding, drawing teeth, and setting a limb; the other, from his
knowledge in the diseases of horses, being often consulted in human
ailments. There was also a _gîs sefid_, or grey wig, an old woman of a
hag-like and decrepit appearance, who was looked up to as an oracle in
all cases where the knowledge of the barber and farrier was of no avail,
and who had besides a great many nostrums and recipes for all sorts of
aches. Each came to me in succession: all were agreed that my disorder
proceeded from cold; and as fire was the hottest thing in opposition
to cold that they knew of, they as unanimously agreed that the actual
cautery should immediately be applied to the part; and the farrier, on
account of his dealings in hot and cold iron, was appointed operator. He
accordingly brought a pan of charcoal, a pair of bellows, and some small
skewers; and seating himself in a corner, made his fire, and heated his
skewers: when they were red hot, I was placed on the ground flat on
my face, and then, with great solemnity, my back was seared with the
burning iron, whilst all the bystanders, at every touch, exclaimed, with
great earnestness, ‘_Khoda shefa mîdehed_,’ God gives relief. My medical
attendants, in their united wisdom, out of compliment to the prophet and
the twelve Imâms, marked me in thirteen different places; and although,
when I had endured half the operation, I began to cry out most lustily
with the pain, still I was not let off until the whole was gone through.
It was long before the wounds which they had inflicted were cured; and
as they never would heal unless I was kept in perfect quiet, I confined
myself to my cell for a considerable time; at the end of which, my
sprain had entirely taken its leave, and strength was restored to my
whole frame. Of course, my recovery was attributed to the thirteen
worthies, who had presided over the operation, and all the town became
more than ever persuaded of the efficacy of hot iron; but I could not
but think that long repose had been my best doctor--an opinion which
I took care to keep to myself; for I had no objection that the world
should believe that I was a protégé of so many holy personages.

I now determined to pursue my journey to Tehran; but before I ventured
to produce myself as a dervish upon that stage, I resolved to try my
talent in relating a story before a Semnan audience. Accordingly, I
went to a small open space, that is situated near the entrance of the
bazaars, where most of the idlers of the town flock about noon; and
making the sort of exclamations usual upon such occasions, I soon
collected a crowd, who settled themselves on the ground, round the place
which I had fixed upon for my theatre. A short story, touching a barber
at Bagdad (which I had heard when I was myself in that profession),
luckily came into my memory; and, standing in the middle of a circle
of louts with uplifted eyes and open mouths, I made my debut in the
following words:--

‘In the reign of the Caliph Haroun al-Rashid, of happy memory, lived in
the city of Bagdad a celebrated barber, of the name of Ali Sakal. He was
so famous for a steady hand, and dexterity in his profession, that
he could shave a head, and trim a beard and whiskers, with his eyes
blindfolded, without once drawing blood. There was not a man of any
fashion at Bagdad who did not employ him; and such a run of business had
he, that at length he became proud and insolent, and would scarcely ever
touch a head, whose master was not at least a _Beg_ or an _Aga_. Wood
for fuel was always scarce and dear at Bagdad; and as his shop consumed
a great deal, the wood-cutters brought their loads to him in preference,
almost sure of meeting with a ready sale. It happened one day, that a
poor wood-cutter, new in his profession, and ignorant of the character
of Ali Sakal, went to his shop, and offered him for sale a load of wood
which he had just brought from a considerable distance in the country,
on his ass: Ali immediately offered him a price, making use of these
words, “_for all the wood that was upon the ass.”_ The woodcutter
agreed, unloaded his beast, and asked for the money. “You have not given
me all the wood yet,” said the barber; “I must have the pack-saddle
(which is chiefly made of wood) into the bargain; that was our
agreement.” “How!” said the other, in great amazement--“who ever heard
of such a bargain?--it is impossible.” In short, after many words and
much altercation, the overbearing barber seized the pack-saddle,
wood and all, and sent away the poor peasant in great distress. He
immediately ran to the cadi, and stated his griefs: the cadi was one of
the barber’s customers, and refused to hear the case. The wood-cutter
applied to a higher judge: he also patronized Ali Sakal, and made light
of the complaint. The poor man then appealed to the mûfti himself; who,
having pondered over the question, at length settled, that it was too
difficult a case for him to decide, no provision being made for it in
the Koran, and therefore he must put up with his loss. The wood-cutter
was not disheartened; but forthwith got a scribe to write a petition to
the caliph himself, which he duly presented on Friday, the day when
he went in state to the mosque. The caliph’s punctuality in reading
petitions is well known, and it was not long before the wood-cutter was
called to his presence. When he had approached the caliph, he kneeled
and kissed the ground, and then placing his arms straight before him,
his hands covered with the sleeves of his cloak, and his feet close
together, he awaited the decision of his case. “Friend,” said the
caliph, “the barber has words on his side--you have equity on yours. The
law must be defined by words, and agreements must be made by words: the
former must have its course, or it is nothing; and agreements must be
kept, or there would be no faith between man and man; therefore the
barber must keep all his wood; but--” Then calling the wood-cutter close
to him, the caliph whispered something in his ear, which none but he
could hear, and then sent him away quite satisfied.’

Here then I made a pause in my narrative, and said whilst I extended a
small tin cup which I held in my hand, ‘Now, my noble audience, if
you will give me something I will tell you what the caliph said to the
wood-cutter.’ I had excited great curiosity, and there was scarcely one
of my hearers who did not give me a piece of money.

‘Well then,’ said I, ‘the caliph whispered to the wood-cutter what he
was to do, in order to get satisfaction from the barber, and what that
was I will now relate. The wood-cutter having made his obeisances,
returned to his ass, which was tied without, took it by the halter, and
proceeded to his home. A few days after, he applied to the barber, as if
nothing had happened between them; requesting that he, and a companion
of his from the country, might enjoy the dexterity of his hand; and the
price at which both operations were to be performed was settled. When
the wood-cutter’s crown had been properly shorn, Ali Sakal asked where
his companion was. “He is just standing without here,” said the other,
“and he shall come in presently.” Accordingly he went out, and returned
leading his ass after him by the halter. “This is my companion,” said
he, “and you must shave him.” “Shave him!” exclaimed the barber, in the
greatest surprise; “it is enough that I have consented to demean myself
by touching you, and do you insult me by asking me to do as much to your
ass? Away with you, or I’ll send you both to _Jehanum_;” and forthwith
drove them out of his shop.

‘The wood-cutter immediately went to the caliph, was admitted to his
presence, and related his case. “’Tis well,” said the commander of
the faithful: “bring Ali Sakal and his razors to me this instant,” he
exclaimed to one of his officers; and in the course of ten minutes
the barber stood before him. “Why do you refuse to shave this
man’s companion?” said the caliph to the barber: “Was not that your
agreement?” Ali, kissing the ground, answered: “’Tis true, O caliph,
that such was our agreement; but who ever made a companion of an ass
before? or who ever before thought of treating it like a true believer?”
“You may say right,” said the caliph: “but, at the same time, who ever
thought of insisting upon a pack-saddle being included in a load of
wood? No, no, it is the wood-cutter’s turn now. To the ass immediately,
or you know the consequences.” The barber was then obliged to prepare
a great quantity of soap, to lather the beast from head to foot, and to
shave him in the presence of the caliph and of the whole court,
whilst he was jeered and mocked by the taunts and laughing of all the
bystanders. The poor wood-cutter was then dismissed with an appropriate
present of money, and all Bagdad resounded with the story, and
celebrated the justice of the commander of the faithful.’


Of the man he meets, and the consequences of the encounter.

I left Semnan with a light heart--my sprain was cured--I was young and
handsome--twenty tomauns, my savings at Meshed, clinked in my purse--I
had acquired some experience in the world; and I determined, as soon as
I reached Tehran, to quit the garb of a dervish, to dress myself well
from head to foot, and to endeavour to push my fortunes in some higher
walk in life.

About a day’s journey from Tehran, as I was walking onward, chanting,
with all my throat, a song on the loves of _Leilah_ and _Majnoun_, I
was overtaken by a courier, who entered into conversation with me, and
invited me to partake of some victuals which he had brought with
him. The heat of the day being overpowering, I willingly accepted his
invitation. We settled ourselves on the borders of a rivulet, near a
cornfield, whilst the courier took off his horse’s bridle, and permitted
it to feed on the new wheat. He then groped up, from the deep folds
of his riding trousers, a pocket handkerchief, in which were wrapped
several lumps of cold boiled rice, and three or four flaps of bread,
which he spread before us, and then added some sour curds, which he
poured from a small bag that hung at his saddle-bow. From the same
trousers, which contained his shoes, a provision of tobacco, a drinking
cup, and many other useful articles, he drew half a dozen raw onions,
which he added to the feast; and we ate with such appetite, that very
soon we were reduced to the melancholy dessert of sucking our fingers.
We washed the whole down with some water from the rivulet, and only
then (such had been our voracity) we thought of questioning each other
concerning the object of our respective journeys. From my dress,
he perceived me to be a dervish, and my story was soon told: as for
himself, he was a courier belonging to the Governor of Asterabad, and,
to my joy and surprise, was carrying the happy intelligence of the
release of my former companion, Asker Khan, the Shah’s poet, from his
captivity among the Turcomans. I did not let the courier know how much
I was interested in his errand, for experience had taught me how wise it
was, in the affairs of life to keep one’s own counsel; and, therefore, I
pretended ignorance of even the existence of such a person.

My companion informed me that the poet had managed to reach Asterabad in
safety, and that, being destitute of everything, he, in the meanwhile,
had been dispatched to give intelligence of his situation to his family.
He showed me the letters with which he was entrusted, which he drew
forth from his breast, wrapped up in a handkerchief; and being a very
inquisitive fellow, though unable to read, he was happy to find in me
one who might give him some account of their contents. The first which
I inspected[30] was a memorial from the poet to the king of kings, in
which he set forth, in language the most poetic, all the miseries and
tortures which he had endured since he had been thrown into the hands of
the Turcomans: that the hunger, the thirst, and the barbarous treatment
which he had experienced, were nothing, when compared with the privation
of the all-gracious and refulgent presence of that pearl of royalty,
that gem of magnificence, the quintessence of all earthly perfection,
the great king of kings! that as the vilest reptile that crawls is
permitted to enjoy the warmth of the glorious sun, so he, the meanest
of the king’s subjects, hoped once more to bask in the sunshine of the
royal countenance; and, finally, he humbly prayed, that his long absence
might not deprive him of the shadow of the throne; that he might aspire
to reoccupy his former post near his majesty’s person, and once again
be permitted to vie with the nightingale, and sing of the charms and
perfections of his lovely rose.

The next letter was addressed to the prime vizier, in which that
notorious minister, decrepit in person, and nefarious in conduct, was
called a planet among the stars, and the sheet anchor of the state, and
in which the poet sues for his protection. There was nearly a similar
one to his former enemy, the lord high treasurer. I then inspected the
letters addressed to his family, of which one was to his wife, another
to his son’s tutor, and a third to his steward. To his wife, he talked
of the interior arrangements of his anderûn; hoped that she had been
economical in her dress, that she had kept the female slaves in good
order, and desired her immediately to set herself and them about making
clothes for him, as he was destitute of everything.

To the tutor, he enjoined great attention to his son’s manners; hoped
that he had been taught all the best forms of cant and compliment; that
he never omitted to say his prayers; that he was by this time able to
sit a horse, to perform the spear exercise, and to fire a gun on the
full gallop.

To his steward, he gave some general instructions concerning the
administration of his affairs--enjoined great economy; that he should
daily go and stand before the prime vizier; praise him to the skies; and
make all sorts of professions, on his part, to his excellency; that he
should keep a good watch upon his women and slaves; that his wife should
not go too often to the bath; that when she and her slaves went abroad
to take the air, he should accompany them. He hoped that no intriguing
old women, particularly Jewesses, had been admitted into his harem; and
that the walls, which surrounded the women’s apartments, had always been
kept in good repair, in order to prevent gadding on the housetop with
the neighbours. He ordered that his black slave, Johur, was now no
longer to be allowed free access into the anderûn; and if ever seen
to be familiar with any of the female slaves, he and they were to be
whipped: finally, he desired the steward to give the courier a handsome
reward, for being the bearer of such good news to his family.

I folded up the letters again; those which had been sealed, I again
sealed, and returned to the courier. He seemed to reckon a great deal
upon the reward that he was to get for bringing the first intelligence
of the poet’s safety, and told me that, fearing some other might get the
start of him, he had travelled day and night; and added, that the horse,
which he now bestrode, belonged to a peasant, from whom he had taken it
forcibly on the road, having left his own, which was knocked up, to be
brought on after him.

After we had conversed a little more, he seemed entirely overpowered
by fatigue, and fell into a profound sleep. As he lay extended on the
grass, I looked upon him, and I began to reflect how easy it would be to
forestall him. I knew the whole of the poet’s history;--in fact, I was
in some measure identified with it. I began to think that I had a right
to the first relation of it. Then as to the horse, it was as much mine
as his; particularly since the peasant, with his own, must now be close
at hand: so without more ceremony, I unfolded the handkerchief, which
still lay in his lap, and taking out the letter to the steward, I
mounted the horse: I applied the stirrups to his sides;[31] I galloped
off; and in a very short time had left the sleeper far behind me, and
had made considerable progress on the road to the capital.

As I rode along, I considered what was now my best line of conduct, and
in what manner I should best introduce myself to the poet’s family, so
as to make my story good, and secure for myself the reward which had
been destined for the courier. I calculated that I should have at least
a good day’s start of him; for when he awoke, he probably would be
obliged to walk some distance before he got another horse, should he
not regain his own, which was very doubtful; and appearing on foot as
he did, it would be a hundred to one if anybody would believe his story,
and he, most probably, would now be refused the loan of a beast to carry
him on. I resolved, therefore immediately upon reaching Tehran, to sell
the horse, and its accoutrements, for what they would fetch; I would
then exchange my dervish’s dress for the common dress of the country;
and making myself up as one come from off a long journey, present myself
at the gate of the poet’s house, and there make the best story I could,
which would be a sufficiently easy matter, considering how well I was
acquainted with every circumstance relating to him.


Hajji Baba reaches Tehran, and goes to the poet’s house.

I entered Tehran early in the morning by the Shah Abdul Azîm gate, just
as it was opened, and immediately exhibited my horse for sale at the
market, which is daily held there, for that purpose. I had proved it to
be a good beast, from the rate at which I had travelled since taking
my hasty leave of the courier; but a horse-dealer, to whom I showed it,
made out so clearly that it was full of defects, that I thought myself
in luck, if I got anything at all for it. It was _chup_--it had the
_ableh_[32]--it was old, and its teeth had been burnt;--in short, it
seemed to have every quality that a horse ought not to have. I was
therefore surprised when he offered me five tomauns for it, provided
I threw him the bridle and saddle into the bargain; and he seemed as
surprised when I took him at his word, and accepted of his offer. He
paid me down one half of the money, and then offered me a half-starved
ass in payment of the remainder; but this I refused, and he promised to
pay me in full when we met again. I was too much in haste to continue
bargaining any longer; so going straightway to the bazaar, I bought a
black cap, laid by my dervish’s tiara, and having equipped myself in a
manner to be taken for one come from off a journey, I inquired my way to
the house of the poet.

It was situated in a pleasant quarter of the town, surrounded by gardens
filled with poplars and pomegranate trees, and in a street through which
ran a stream of water, bordered by beautiful _chenars_.[33] But the
house itself seemed indeed to speak the absence of its master: the gate
was half closed; there was no stir about it; and when I entered the
first court, I could perceive but few indications of an inhabitant. This
looked ill for my promised reward. At length, making my way to the upper
room, that was situated over the gate, I there saw a man of about fifty
years old, seated on a felt carpet, smoking his kaliân, whom I found to
be the very person I was in search of, viz. the _Nazir_ or steward.

I immediately exclaimed, ‘Good news! the khan is coming.’

‘_Yani cheh?_ what do you mean?’ said he; ‘which khan? where? when?’

When I had explained myself, and had presented the letter addressed to
him, he seemed to be thrown into a mixed state of feigned joy and real
sorrow, amazement, and apprehension.

‘But are you very sure,’ said he, ‘that the khan is alive?’

‘Very sure,’ returned I; ‘and before to-morrow is over, you will receive
another courier, who will give you many more particulars of his safety,
and who will bring letters to the king, viziers, and others.’

He then began to make all sorts of incoherent exclamations; ‘This is a
wonderful business! What dust has fallen upon our heads? Where shall I
go? What shall I do?’

When he had a little recovered himself, I endeavoured to persuade him to
give me an explanation of his emotions on this occasion, and tell me why
he felt so agitated, and apparently distressed, at what ought only to
be a matter of joy. All I could hear from him was, ‘He must be dead;
everybody says he is dead; his wife dreamt that she had lost her largest
tooth--the one that gave her such aching pain, and therefore he is dead;
besides the king has settled it so. He cannot be alive; he must not be

‘Well,’ said I, ‘if he is dead, be it so; all I can say is, that he was
one of the true believers at Asterabad, not six days ago; and that he
will soon prove in person, by showing himself at Tehran, in the course
of another week.’

After the Nazir had sat, and wondered, and ruminated for some time, he
said, ‘You will not be surprised at my perplexity when I tell you of the
state of things here, in consequence of the report of my master’s death.
In the first place, the Shah has seized all his property: his house,
furniture, and live stock, including his Georgian slaves, are to be
given to Khur Ali Mirza, one of the king’s younger sons: his village
now belongs to the prime vizier: his place is about to be bestowed upon
Mirza Fûzûl; and, to crown all, his wife has married his son’s tutor.
Say, then, whether or no I have not a right to be astonished and

I agreed that there was no disputing his right; ‘but, in the meanwhile,’
said I, ‘what becomes of my reward?’

‘O, as for that,’ answered the Nazir, ‘you cannot expect anything from
me; for you have brought me no joyful tidings: you may claim it from my
master, when he comes, if you choose, but I can give you nothing.’

Upon which, promising to return on some future day, I left the Nazir to
his own reflections, and quitted the house.


He makes plans for the future, and is involved in a quarrel.

I determined to wait the arrival of the poet, and through his
interference to endeavour to get into some situation, where I might gain
my bread honestly, and acquire a chance of advancing myself in life,
without having recourse to the tricks and frauds which I had hitherto
practised: for I was tired of herding with the low and the vulgar; and
I saw so many instances before me of men rising in the world, and
acquiring both riches and honour, who had sprung from an origin quite
as obscure as my own, that I already anticipated my elevation, and even
settled in my own mind how I should act when I was a prime vizier.

‘Who,’ said I to myself, ‘was the Shah’s chief favourite, Ismael Beg
_tellai_, or the golden, but a _ferash_, or a tent pitcher? He is
neither handsomer nor better spoken than I; and if ever there should be
an opportunity of comparing our horsemanship, I think one who has been
brought up amongst the Turcomans would show him what riding is, in spite
of his reputation. Well; and the famous lord high treasurer, who fills
the king’s coffers with gold, and who does not forget his own--who and
what was he? A barber’s son is quite as good as a greengrocer’s, and, in
our respective cases, a great deal better too; for I can read and write,
whereas his excellency, as report says, can do neither. He eats and
drinks what he likes; he puts on a new coat every day; and after the
Shah, has the choice of all the beauties of Persia; and all this without
half my sense, or half my abilities: for to hear the world talk, one
must believe him to be little better than a _khûr be teshdeed_, i.e. a
doubly accented ass.’

I continued wrapt up in these sort of meditations, seated with my back
against the wall of one of the crowded avenues which lead to the gate of
the royal palace, and had so worked up my imagination by the prospect of
my future greatness, that on rising to walk away, I instinctively pushed
the crowd from before me, as if such respect from them was due to one of
my lofty pretensions. Some stared at me, some abused me, and others
took me for a madman; and indeed when I came to myself, and looked at my
tattered clothes and my beggarly appearance, I could not help smiling
at their surprise, and at my folly; and straightway went into the cloth
bazaar in the determination of fitting myself out in decent apparel, as
the first step towards my change of life.

Making my way through the crowd, I was stopped by a violent quarrel
between three men, who were abusing each other with more than ordinary
violence. I pushed into the circle which surrounded them, and there, to
my dismay, discovered the courier, whom I had deceived, seconded by a
peasant, attacking the horse-dealer, whom they had just pulled off the
horse, which I had sold him.

‘That is my horse,’ said the peasant.

‘That is my saddle,’ said the courier.

‘They are mine,’ exclaimed the horse-dealer.

I immediately saw the danger in which I stood, and was about to slink
away, when I was perceived by the horse-dealer, who seized hold of my
girdle, and said, ‘This is the man I bought the horse of.’ As soon as
I was recognized by the courier, immediately the whole brunt of the
quarrel, like a thunder-cloud, burst on my head, and I was almost
overwhelmed by its violence. Rascal, thief, cheat, were epithets which
were dinned into my ears without mercy.

‘Where’s my horse?’ cried one.

‘Give me my saddle,’ vociferated the other.

‘Return me my money,’ roared out the third.

‘Take him to the cadi,’ said the crowd.

In vain I bawled, swore, and bade defiance; in vain I was all smoothness
and conciliation: it was impossible for the first ten minutes to gain
a hearing: every one recited his griefs. The courier’s rage was almost
ungovernable; the peasant complained of the injustice which had been
done him; and the horse-dealer called me every sort of name, for having
robbed him of his money. I first talked to the one, then coaxed the
other, and endeavoured to bully the third. To the courier I said, ‘Why
are you so angry? there is your saddle safe and sound, you can ask no
more.’ To the peasant I exclaimed, ‘You could not say more if your beast
had actually been killed; take him and walk away, and return thanks to
Allah that it is no worse.’ As for the horse-dealer, I inveighed
against him with all the bitterness of a man who had been cheated of
his property:--‘You have a right to talk indeed of having been deceived,
when to this moment you know that you have only paid me one-half of the
cost of the horse, and that you wanted to fob me off with a dying ass
for the other half.’

I offered to return him the money; but this he refused: he insisted upon
my paying him the keep of the horse besides: upon which a new quarrel
ensued, in which arguments were used on both sides which convinced
neither party, and consequently we immediately adjourned to the _daroga_
or police magistrate, who, we agreed, should decide the question.

We found him at his post, at the cross streets in the bazaar, surrounded
by his officers, who, with their long sticks, were in readiness to
inflict the bastinado on the first offender. I opened the case, and
stated all the circumstances of it; insisting very strongly on the
evident intention to cheat me, which the horse-dealer had exhibited. The
horse-dealer answered me, and showed that as the horse did not belong to
him, it being stolen from another, he had no right to pay for its keep.

The question puzzled the daroga so much, that he declined interfering,
and was about ordering us to the tribunal of the cadi, when a decrepit
old man, a bystander, said, ‘Why do you make so much difficulty about
a plain question? when the horse-dealer shall have paid the hajji the
remaining half of the price of the horse, then the hajji shall pay
for the keep of the beast, as long as it was in the horse-dealer’s

Every one cried _Barîk Allah! Barîk Allah!_ Praise be to God! and right
or wrong, they all appeared so struck by the specious justice of the
decision, that the daroga dismissed us, and told us to depart in peace.

I did not lose a moment in repaying to the horse-dealer the
purchase-money of the horse, and in getting from him a receipt in full:
it was only after he had settled with me that he began to ponder over
the merits of the decision, and seemed extremely puzzled to discover
why, if he was entitled to the horse’s keep at all, he was not entitled
to it, whether he had paid me half or the whole of the money? He seemed
to think, that he for once had been duped; and very luckily his rage
was averted from me to the daroga, who he very freely accused of being a
puzzle-headed fool, and one who had no more pretension to law than _he_
had to honesty.


He puts on new clothes, goes to the bath, and appears in a new

I now looked upon myself as clear of this unpleasant business, which I
had entirely brought on my own head, and congratulated myself that I had
got off at so cheap a rate. I again made my way to the cloth bazaar, and
going to the first shop near the gate of it, I inquired the price of red
cloth, of which it was my ambition to make a _barûni_, or cloak; because
I thought that it would transfer to me that respect which I always felt
for those who wore it. The shopkeeper, upon looking at me from head to
foot, said ‘A barûni indeed! and for whom do you want it, and who is to
pay for it?’

‘For myself, to be sure,’ answered I.

‘And what does such a poor devil as you want with such a coat? Mirzas
and Khans only wear them, and I am sure you are no such personage.’

I was about to answer in great wrath, when a _dalal_ or broker went by,
loaded with all sorts of second-hand clothes, which he was hawking about
for sale, and to him I immediately made application, in spite of the
reiterated calls of the shopkeeper, who now too late repented of having
driven me off in so hasty a manner. We retreated to a corner in the
gateway of the adjacent mosque, and there the dalal, putting his load
down, spread his merchandise before me. I was struck by a fine shot silk
vest, trimmed in front with gold lace and gold buttons, of which I asked
the price. The dalal extolled its beauty and my taste; swore that it had
belonged to one of the king’s favourite Georgians, who had only worn
it twice, and having made me try it on, walked around and around me,
exclaiming all the while, ‘_Mashallah, Mashallah!_’ Praise be to God! I
was so pleased with this, that I must needs have a shawl for my waist to
match, and he produced an old Cashmerian shawl full of holes and darns,
which he assured me had belonged to one of the ladies in the king’s
harem, and which, he said, he would let me have at a reasonable price.
My vanity made me prefer this commodity to a new _Kermân_ shawl, which
I might have had for what I was about to pay for the old worn-out
Cashmere, and adjusting it so as to hide the defects, I wound it about
my waist, which only wanted a dagger stuck into it, to make my dress
complete. With this the dalal also supplied me, and when I was thus
equipped I could not resist expressing my satisfaction to the broker,
who was not backward in assuring me, that there was not a handsomer nor
better-dressed man in Tehran.

When we came to settle our accounts, the business wore a more serious
aspect. The dalal began by assuring me of his honesty, that he was not
like other dalals, who asked a hundred and then took fifty, and that
when he said a thing, I might depend upon its veracity. He then asked
me five tomauns for the coat, fifteen for the shawl, and four for the
dagger, making altogether twenty-four tomauns.

Upon hearing this, my delight subsided, for I had barely twenty tomauns
in my pocket, and I was about stripping myself of my finery, and
returning again to my old clothes, when the dalal stopped me, and said,
‘You may perhaps think that price a little too much, but, by my head
and by your soul, I bought them for that--tell me what you will give?’
I answered, that it was out of the question dealing with him upon such
high terms, but that if he would give them to me for five tomauns
I would be a purchaser. This he rejected with disdain, upon which I
stripped, and returned him his property. When he had collected his
things again, and apparently when all dealings between us were at an
end, he said, ‘I feel a friendship for you, and I will do for you, what
I would not do for my brother--you shall have them for ten tomauns.’ I
again refused, and we stood higgling, until we agreed that I should pay
him six, and one by way of a dress for himself. This was no sooner said
than done.

He then left me, and I packed up my bargain, with the intention of first
going to the bath, and there equipping myself. On my road, I bought a
pair of high-heeled green slippers, a blue silk shirt, and a pair of
crimson silk trousers, and having tied up the whole in my handkerchief,
I proceeded to the bath.

No one took notice of me as I entered, for one of my mean appearance
could create no sensation, and I comforted myself by the reflection,
that the case would be changed as soon as I should put on my new
clothes. I deposited my bundle in a corner, where I also undressed, and
having wrapt myself round with a towel, I entered the bath.

Here all ranks were on a level, in appearance at least, and I now
flattered myself that my fine form, my broad chest, and narrow waist,
would make me an object of admiration. I called to one of the _dalâks_
(bathing men) to wait upon me, and to go through the different
operations of rubbing with the hand, and of the friction with the hair
bag, and I also ordered him to shave my head, to get ready the necessary
materials for dying my beard, moustaches, and curls, as well as my hands
and the soles of my feet, and also to prepare the depilatory; in short,
I announced my intention of undergoing a complete lustration.

The dalâk, as soon as he began rubbing me, expressed his admiration at
my broad chest by his repeated exclamations; and bearing in mind the
influence which new clothes were likely to create, I behaved like one
who had been accustomed to this sort of praise and attention. He said
that I could not have come at a luckier hour, for that he had just
operated upon a Khan, who having received a dress of honour from the
Shah, upon the occasion of bringing the first melons from Ispahan, had
been sent to the bath by the astrologers at this particular time, as the
most fortunate for putting on a new dress.

As soon as all was over, the dalâk brought me some dry linen, and
conducted me to the spot where I had left my clothes. With what pleasure
I opened my bundle and inspected my finery! It appeared that I was
renovated in proportion as I put on each article of dress. I had never
yet been clothed in silk. I tied on my trousers with the air of a man
of fashion, and when I heard the rustling of my vest, I turned about in
exultation to see who might be looking at me. My shawl was wound about
me in the newest style, rather falling in front, and spread out large
behind, and when the dagger glittered in my girdle, I conceived that
nothing could exceed the finish of my whole adjustment. I indented the
top of my cap in the true _Kajari_ or royal style, and placed it on my
head considerably on one side. When the bathing man at length brought me
the looking-glass, as a signal for paying the bath, I detained him for
the purpose of surveying myself, arranging my curls to twist up behind
the ear, and pulling my moustaches up towards my eyes. I then paid him
handsomely, and leaving my old clothes under his charge, I made my exit
with the strut of a man of consequence.


The poet returns from captivity--the consequences of it for Hajji Baba.

I took my road towards the poet’s house, in the hope of gaining some
intelligence about him. From the head of the street, I perceived a crowd
surrounding the gate, and I was soon informed that he had just arrived,
and had gone through the ceremony of making his entrance over the roof
instead of through the door; for such is the custom when a man who has
been thought dead returns home alive.

I immediately pushed through the crowd, made my way into the room
where the poet was seated, and with every demonstration of great joy,
congratulated him upon his safe arrival. He did not recognize me, and
even when I had explained who I was, he could scarcely believe that one
so trim and smart as I then was could be the same dirty ragged ruffian
whom he had known before.

The apartment was filled with all sorts of people, some happy at his
return, others full of disappointment. Among the latter, and those who
paid him the finest compliments, was Mirza Fûzûl, the man who had
been nominated to succeed him in his situation, and who did not cease
exclaiming, ‘Your place has been empty, and our eyes are enlightened,’
as long as he remained in the room. At length, a great bustle was heard,
the doors were opened, and an officer from the king was announced, who
commanded the poet forthwith to repair to the presence, which he did in
the very clothes, boots, dust and all, in which he had travelled.

The party then broke up, and I left the house in the determination of
returning the next day; but as I was going out of the yard, I met the
Nazir, with whom I had had a conversation as before related. He did not
appear to me to be among the happy ones. ‘In the name of Allah,’ said I,
‘you see that my words have proved true: the Khan is alive!’

‘True enough,’ answered he, with a sigh; ‘he is alive; and may his life
be a long one! but God is great!’ and then making two or three more
similar exclamations, he left me, apparently full of care and misery.

I passed the remainder of the day in strolling about, and building
castles in the air. I walked through the bazaars, went to the mosques,
and lounged among the idlers, who are always to be found in great
numbers about the gate of the royal palace. Here, the news of the day
was the poet’s return, and the reception which he had met with from
the Shah. Some said, that his majesty, upon hearing of his arrival had
ordained that it could not be; that he was dead, and must be so. Others,
that, on the contrary, the king was happy at the intelligence, and had
ordered ten tomauns to be given to the bearer of it. The truth, however,
was this; the king had been disappointed at the poet’s resurrection,
because it destroyed the arrangements he had made with respect to his
house and effects, and he was not disposed to give him a good
reception; but Asker who well knew his majesty’s passion for poetry, and
particularly of that kind which sings the royal praises, had long since
foreseen the event, and had provided himself with an impromptu, which he
had composed even when he was living an exile among the Turcomans.
This he repeated at the proper moment; and thus the tide of the king’s
favour, which was running full against him, he entirely turned, and made
it flow to his advantage. In short, he had his mouth filled with gold
for his pains, was invested with a magnificent dress, and was reinstated
in his situation and his possessions.

I lost no time in again congratulating my adopted patron, and did
not miss a single morning in attending his levee. Finding that he was
favourably inclined towards me, I made known to him my situation,
and entreated him either to give me a place in his household, or to
recommend me as a servant to one of his acquaintance. I had found out
that the Nazir’s despondency at his master’s return proceeded from the
fear of being detected in certain frauds which he had committed on
his property; and, as I hoped that I might eventually succeed to his
situation, I expressed the greatest zeal for the poet’s interest, and
disclosed all that I knew concerning the delinquency of his servant.
However, I did not succeed; for whether he had a clearer insight into
characters than I gave him credit for, or whether the Nazir managed to
prove his innocence, and make me suspected, I know not; but the fact
was, that he kept his place, and I continued to be an attendant at the

At length, one morning Asker called me to him, and said, ‘Hajji, my
friend, you know how thankful I have always expressed myself for your
kindness to me when we were prisoners together in the hands of the
Turcomans, and now I will prove my gratitude. I have recommended you
strongly to Mirza Ahmak, the king’s _Hakîm Bashi_, or chief physician,
who is in want of a servant; and I make no doubt, that if you give
him satisfaction, he will teach you his art, and put you in the way
of making your fortune. You have only to present yourself before him,
saying that you come from me, and he will immediately assign you an

I had no turn for the practice of physic, and recollecting the story
which had been related to me by the dervish, I held the profession in
contempt: but my case was desperate; I had spent my last dinâr, and
therefore I had nothing left me but to accept of the doctor’s place.
Accordingly, the next morning I proceeded to his house, which was
situated in the neighbourhood of the palace; and as I entered a dull,
neglected court-yard, I there found several sick persons, some squatted
against the wall, others supported by their friends, and others again
with bottles in their hands, waiting the moment when the physician
should leave the women’s apartments to transact business in public.
I proceeded to an open window, where those who were not privileged to
enter the room stood, and there I took my station until I should be
called in. Within the room were several persons who came to pay their
court to the doctor (for every man who is an officer of the court has
his levee), and from remarking them, I learnt how necessary it was, in
order to advance in life, to make much of everything, even the dog or
the cat, if they came in my way, of him who can have access to the ear
of men in power. I made my reflections upon the miseries I had already
undergone, and was calculating how long it would take me to go through
a course of cringing and flattery to be entitled to the same sorts of
attention myself, when I perceived, by the bows of those near me, that
the doctor had seated himself at the window, and that the business of
the day had commenced.

The Hakîm was an old man, with an eye sunk deep in his head, high cheek
bones, and a scanty beard. He had a considerable bend in his back, and
his usual attitude, when seated, was that of a projecting chin, his
head reclining back between his shoulders, and his hands resting on his
girdle, whilst his elbows formed two triangles on each side of his body.
He made short snappish questions, gave little hums at the answers, and
seemed to be thinking of anything but the subject before him. When he
heard the account of the ailments of those who had come to consult him,
and had said a few words to his little circle of parasites, he looked at
me, and after I had told him that I was the person of whom the poet had
spoken, he fixed his little sharp eyes upon me for a second or two, and
then desired me to wait, for that he wished to speak to me in private.
Accordingly, he soon after got up, and went out of the room, and I was
called upon to attend him in a small separate court, closely walled
on all sides, except on the one where was situated the _khelwet_, or
private room, in which the doctor was seated.


Hajji Baba gets into the service of the king’s physician--Of the manner
he was first employed by him.

As soon as I appeared, the doctor invited me into the room, and
requested me to be seated; which I did with all the humility which is
the etiquette for an inferior to show towards his superior for so great
an honour. He informed me that the poet had spoken very favourably of
me, and had said that I was a person to be depended upon, particularly
on account of my discretion and prudence; that I had seen a great deal
of life; that I was fertile in expedients; and that if any business in
which circumspection and secrecy were necessary was intrusted to me, I
should conduct it with all the ability required. I bowed repeatedly as
he spoke, and kept my hands respectfully before me, covered with
the border of my sleeve, whilst I took care that my feet were also
completely hid. He then continued, and said,--‘I have occasion for a
person of your description precisely at this moment, and as I put great
confidence in the recommendation of my friend Asker, it is my intention
to make use of your good offices; and if you succeed according to my
expectations, you may rest assured that it will be well for you, and
that I shall not remain unmindful of your services.’

Then requesting me to approach nearer to him, and in a low and
confidential tone of voice, he said, looking over his shoulders as if
afraid of being overheard,--‘Hajji, you must know that an ambassador
from the Franks is lately arrived at this court, in whose suite there
is a doctor. This infidel has already acquired considerable reputation
here. He treats his patients in a manner quite new to us, and has
arrived with a chest full of medicines, of which we do not even know the
names. He pretends to the knowledge of a great many things of which we
have never yet heard in Persia. He makes no distinction between hot and
cold diseases, and hot and cold remedies, as Galenus and Avicenna have
ordained, but gives mercury by way of a cooling medicine; stabs the
belly with a sharp instrument for wind in the stomach;[34] and, what is
worse than all, pretends to do away with the small-pox altogether, by
infusing into our nature a certain extract of cow, a discovery which one
of their philosophers has lately made. Now this will never do, Hajji.
The smallpox has always been a comfortable source of revenue to me; I
cannot afford to lose it, because an infidel chooses to come here and
treat us like cattle. We cannot allow him to take the bread out of our
mouths. But the reason why I particularly want your help proceeds from
the following cause. The grand vizier was taken ill, two days ago, of a
strange uneasiness, after having eaten more than his usual quantity of
raw lettuce and cucumber, steeped in vinegar and sugar. This came to the
Frank ambassador’s ears, who, in fact, was present at the eating of the
lettuce, and he immediately sent his doctor to him, with a request that
he might be permitted to administer relief. The grand vizier and the
ambassador, it seems, had not been upon good terms for some time,
because the latter was very urgent that some demand of a political
nature might be conceded to him, which the vizier, out of consideration
for the interests of Persia, was obliged to deny; and, therefore,
thinking that this might be a good opportunity of conciliating the
infidel, and of coming to a compromise, he agreed to accept of the
doctor’s services. Had I been apprised of the circumstance in time,
I should easily have managed to put a stop to the proceeding; but the
doctor did not lose an instant in administering his medicine, which, I
hear, only consisted of one little white and tasteless pill. From all
accounts, and as ill luck would have it, the effect it has produced is
something quite marvellous. The grand vizier has received such relief
that he can talk of nothing else; he says, ‘that he felt the pill
drawing the damp from the very tips of his fingers’; and that now he
has discovered in himself such newness of strength and energy, that he
laughs at his old age, and even talks of making up the complement of
wives permitted to him by our blessed Prophet. But the mischief has not
stopped here; the fame of this medicine, and of the Frank doctor, has
gone throughout the court; and the first thing which the king talked
of at the _selam_ (the audience) this morning, was of its miraculous
properties. He called upon the grand vizier to repeat to him all that he
had before said upon the subject; and as he talked of the wonders
that it had produced upon his person, a general murmur of applause and
admiration was heard throughout the assembly. His majesty then turned to
me, and requested me to explain the reason why such great effects should
proceed from so small a cause, when I was obliged to answer, stooping as
low as I could to hide my confusion, and kissing the earth--“I am your
sacrifice: O king of kings, I have not yet seen the drug which the
infidel doctor has given to your majesty’s servant, the grand vizier;
but as soon as I have, I will inform your majesty of what it consists.
In the meanwhile, your humble slave beseeches the Centre of the Universe
to recollect that the principal agent, on this occasion, must be an evil
spirit, an enemy to the true faith, since he is an instrument in the
hands of an infidel; of one who calls our holy Prophet a cheat, and who
disowns the all-powerful decrees of predestination.”

‘Having said this, in order to shake his growing reputation, I retired
in deep cogitation how I might get at the secrets of the infidel, and
particularly inquire into the nature of his prescription, which has
performed such miracles; and you are come most opportunely to my
assistance. You must immediately become acquainted with him; and I shall
leave it to your address to pick his brain and worm his knowledge out of
him; but as I wish to procure a specimen of the very medicine which he
administered to the grand vizier, being obliged to give an account of it
to-morrow to the Shah, you must begin your services to me by eating much
of lettuce and raw cucumbers, and of making yourself as sick to the full
as his highness the vizier. You may then apply to the Frank, who will,
doubtless, give you a duplicate of the celebrated pill, which you will
deliver over to me.’

‘But,’ said I, who had rather taken fright at this extraordinary
proposal, ‘how shall I present myself before a man whom I do not know?
besides, such marvellous stories are related of the Europeans, that
I should be puzzled in what manner to behave: pray give me some
instructions how to act.’

‘Their manners and customs are totally different to ours, that is true,’
replied Mirza Ahmak, ‘and you may form some idea of them, when I tell
you, that instead of shaving their heads, and letting their beards grow,
as we do, they do the very contrary, for not a vestige of hair is to
be seen on their chins, and their hair is as thick on their heads as
if they had made a vow never to cut it off: then they sit on little
platforms, whilst we squat on the ground; they take up their food with
claws made of iron, whilst we use our fingers; they are always walking
about, we keep seated; they wear tight clothes, we loose ones; they
write from left to right, we from right to left; they never pray, we
five times a day; in short, there is no end to what might be related of
them; but most certain it is, that they are the most filthy people on
the earth, for they hold nothing to be unclean; they eat all sorts of
animals, from a pig to a tortoise, without the least scruple, and that
without first cutting their throats; they will dissect a dead body,
without requiring any purification after it, and perform all the brute
functions of their nature, without ever thinking it necessary to go to
the hot bath, or even rubbing themselves with sand after them.’

‘And is it true,’ said I, ‘that they are so irascible, that if perchance
their word is doubted, and they are called liars, they will fight on
such an occasion till they die?’

‘That is also said of them,’ answered the doctor; ‘but the case has not
happened to me yet; however, I must warn you of one thing, which is,
that if they happen to admire anything you possess, you must not say
to them, as you would to one of us, “It is a present to you, it is your
property,” lest they should take you at your word and keep it, which
you know would be inconvenient, and not what you intended; but you must
endeavour as much as possible to speak what you think, for that is what
they like.’

‘But then, if such is the case,’ said I, ‘do not you think that the
Frank doctor will find me out with a lie in my mouth; pretending to be
sick when I am well; asking medicine from him for myself, when I want it
for another?’

‘No, no,’ said the Mirza; ‘you are to be sick, really sick, you know,
and then it will be no lie. Go, Hajji, my friend,’ said he, putting his
arm round my neck: ‘go, eat your cucumbers immediately, and let me have
the pill by this evening.’ And then coaxing me, and preventing me from
making any further objections to his unexpected request, he gently
pushed me out of the room, and I left him, scarcely knowing whether to
laugh or to cry at the new posture which my affairs had taken. To sicken
without any stipulated reward was what I could not consent to do, so
I retraced my steps, with a determination of making a bargain with my
patron; but, when I got to the room, he was no longer there, having
apparently retreated into his harem; and, therefore, I was obliged to
proceed on my errand.

[Illustration: ‘I pretended to receive a violent twitch.’ 13.jpg]


He succeeds in deceiving two of the faculty, getting a pill from one,
and a piece of gold from the other.

I inquired my way to the ambassador’s house, and actually set off
with the intention of putting the doctor’s wishes into execution, and
getting, if possible, a writhing disorder on the road; but, upon
more mature reflection, I recollected that a stomach-ache was not a
marketable commodity which might be purchased at a moment’s notice; for
although lettuce and cucumber might disagree with an old grand vizier,
yet it was a hundred to one but they would find an easy digestion in
a young person like me. However, I determined to obtain the pill
by stratagem, if I could not procure it in a more direct manner. I
considered that if I feigned to be ill, the doctor would very probably
detect me, and turn me out of his house for a cheat, so I preferred the
easier mode of passing myself off for one of the servants of the royal
harem, and then making out some story by which I might attain my end.
I accordingly stepped into one of the old clothes’ shops in the bazaar,
and hired a cloak for myself, such as the scribes wear; and then
substituting a roll of paper in my girdle instead of a dagger, I
flattered myself that I might pass for something more than a common

I soon found out where the ambassador dwelt. Bearing in mind all that
Mirza Ahmak had told me, I rather approached the door of the doctor’s
residence with fear and hesitation. I found the avenues to it crowded
with poor women, bearing infants in their arms, who, I was told, came
to receive the new-fashioned preservative against the smallpox. This, it
was supposed for political reasons, the Franks were anxious to promote;
and, as the doctor performed the operation gratis, he had no lack of
patients, particularly of the poorer sort, who could not approach a
Persian doctor without a present, or a good fee in their hand.

On entering, I found a man seated in the middle of the room, near an
elevated wooden platform, upon which were piled boxes, books, and a
variety of instruments and utensils, the uses of which were unknown
to me. He was in dress and appearance the most extraordinary looking
infidel I had ever seen. His chin and upper lip were without the vestige
of a hair upon them, as like a eunuch as possible. He kept his head most
disrespectfully uncovered, and wore a tight bandage round his neck, with
other contrivances on the sides of his cheeks, as if he were anxious to
conceal some wound or disease. His clothes were fitted so tight to
his body, and his outward coat in particular was cut off at such sharp
angles, that it was evident cloth was a scarce and dear commodity in his
country. The lower part of his dress was particularly improper, and he
kept his boots on in his room, without any consideration for the carpet
he was treading upon, which struck me as a custom subversive of all

I found that he talked our language; for, as soon as he saw me, he asked
me how I did, and then immediately remarked that it was a fine day,
which was so self-evident a truth, that I immediately agreed to it. I
then thought it necessary to make him some fine speeches, and flattered
him to the best of my abilities, informing him of the great reputation
he had already acquired in Persia; that Locman[35] was a fool when
compared to one of his wisdom; and that as for his contemporaries, the
Persian physicians, they were not fit to handle his pestle for him. To
all this he said nothing. I then told him that the king himself, having
heard of the wonderful effects of his medicine upon the person of his
grand vizier, had ordered his historian to insert the circumstance in
the annals of the empire, as one of the most extraordinary events of his
reign,--that a considerable sensation had been produced in his majesty’s
seraglio, for many of the ladies had immediately been taken ill, and
were longing to make a trial of his skill,--that the king’s favourite
Georgian slave was, in fact, at this moment in great pain,--that I had
been deputed by the chief eunuch, owing to a special order from his
majesty, to procure medicine similar to that which the first minister
had taken--and I concluded my speech by requesting the doctor
immediately to furnish me with some.

He seemed to ponder over what I had told him; and, after reflecting a
short time, said that it was not his custom to administer medicine
to his patients without first seeing them, for by so doing he would
probably do more harm than good; but that if he found that the slave was
in want of his aid, he should be very happy to attend her.

I answered to this, that as to seeing the face of the Georgian slave,
that was totally out of the question, for no man ever was allowed that
liberty in Persia, excepting her husband. In cases of extreme necessity,
perhaps a doctor might be permitted to feel a woman’s pulse, but then it
must be done when a veil covers the hand.

To which the Frank replied, ‘In order to judge of my patient’s case I
must not only feel the pulse, but see the tongue also.’

‘Looking at the tongue is totally new in Persia,’ said I; ‘and I am sure
you could never be indulged with such a sight in the seraglio, without
a special order from the king himself; a eunuch would rather cut out his
own tongue first.’

‘Well, then,’ said the doctor, ‘recollect, that if I deliver my medicine
to you, I do so without taking any responsibility upon myself for its
effects; for if it does not cure it may perhaps kill.’

When I had assured him that no harm or prejudice could possibly accrue
to him, he opened a large chest, which appeared to be full of drugs, and
taking there from the smallest quantity of a certain white powder, he
mixed it up, with some bread, into the form of a pill, and putting
it into paper gave it me, with proper directions how it should be
administered. Seeing that he made no mystery of his knowledge, I began
to question him upon the nature and properties of this particular
medicine, and upon his practice in general. He answered me without any
reserve; not like our Persian doctors, who only make a parade of fine
words, and who adjust every ailment that comes before them to what they
read in their Galen, their Hippocrates, and their Abou Avicenna.

When I had learned all I could, I left him with great demonstration of
friendship and thankfulness, and immediately returned to Mirza Ahmak,
who doubtless was waiting for me with great impatience. Having divested
myself of my borrowed cloak and resumed my own dress, I appeared before
him with a face made up for the occasion, for I wished to make him
believe that the lettuce and cucumbers had done their duty. At every
word I pretended to receive a violent twitch, and acted my part so true
to life, that the stern and inflexible nature of Mirza Ahmak himself was
moved into somewhat like pity for me.

‘There! there,’ said I, as I entered his apartment, ‘in the name of
Allah take your prize:’ and then pretending to be bent double, I made
the most horrid grimaces, and uttered deep groans: ‘there! I have
followed your orders, and now throw myself upon your generosity.’ He
endeavoured to take the object of his search from me, but I kept it
fast; and whilst I gave him to understand that I expected prompt reward,
I made indications of an intention to swallow it, unless he actually
gave me something in hand. So fearful was he of not being able to answer
the king’s interrogatories concerning the pill, so anxious to get it
into his possession, that he actually pressed a gold piece upon me. No
lover could sue his mistress with more earnestness to grant him a
favour than the doctor did me for my pill. I should very probably have
continued the deceit a little longer, and have endeavoured to extract
another piece from him; but when I saw him preparing a dose of his
own mixture to ease my pain, I thought it high time to finish, and
pretending all of a sudden to have received relief, I gave up my prize.

When once he had got possession, he looked at it with intense eagerness,
and turned it over and over on his palm, without appearing one whit more
advanced in his knowledge than before. At length, after permitting him
fully to exhaust his conjectures, I told him that the Frank doctor had
made no secret in saying that it was composed of _jivch_, or mercury.

‘Mercury, indeed!’ exclaimed Mirza Ahmak, ‘just as if I did not know
that. And so, because this infidel, this dog of an _Isauvi_,[36]
chooses to poison us with mercury, I am to lose my reputation, and my
prescriptions (such as his father never even saw in a dream) are to be
turned into ridicule. Whoever heard of mercury as a medicine? Mercury is
cold, and lettuce and cucumber are cold also. You would not apply ice
to dissolve ice? The ass does not know the first rudiments of his
profession. No, Hajji, this will never do; we must not permit our beards
to be laughed at in this manner.’

He continued to inveigh for a considerable time against his rival; and
would, no doubt, have continued to do so much longer, but he was stopped
by a message from the king, who ordered him to repair forthwith to his
presence. In the greatest trepidation he immediately put himself into
his court dress, exchanged his common black lamb’s skin cap for one
wound about with a shawl, huddled on his red cloth stockings, called for
his horse, and, taking the pill with him, went off in great hurry, and
full of the greatest apprehension at what might be the result of the


He describes the manner in which the Shah of Persia takes medicine.

The doctor’s visit to the king had taken place late in the evening; and
as soon as he returned from it he called for me. I found him apparently
in great agitation, and full of anxiety. ‘Hajji,’ said he, when I
appeared, ‘come close to me’; and having sent every one else out of the
room, he said in a whisper, ‘this infidel doctor must be disposed of
somehow or other. What do you think has happened? The Shah has consulted
him; he had him in private conference for an hour this morning, without
my being apprised of it. His majesty sent for me to tell me its result;
and I perceive that the Frank has already gained great influence. It
seems that the king gave him the history of his complaints, of his
debility, of his old asthma, and of his imperfect digestion, but talked
in raptures of the wretch’s sagacity and penetration; for merely by
looking at the tongue and feeling the pulse before the infidel was told
what was the state of the case, he asked whether his majesty did not use
the hot baths very frequently;[37] whether, when he smoked, he did not
immediately bring on a fit of coughing; and whether, in his food, he was
not particularly addicted to pickles, sweetmeats, and rice swimming
in butter? The king has given him three days to consider his case, to
consult his books, and to gather the opinions of the Frank sages on
subjects so important to the state of Persia, and to compose such a
medicine as will entirely restore and renovate his constitution. The
Centre of the Universe then asked my opinion, and requested me to speak
boldly upon the natures and properties of Franks in general, and of
their medicines. I did not lose this opportunity of giving utterance to
my sentiments; so, after the usual preface to my speech, I said, “that
as to their natures, the Shah, in his profound wisdom, must know, that
they were an unbelieving and an unclean race; for that they treated our
Prophet as a cheat, and ate pork and drank wine without any scruple;
that they were women in looks, and in manners bears; that they ought to
be held in the greatest suspicion, for their ultimate object (see what
they had done in India) was to take kingdoms, and to make Shahs and
Nabobs their humble servants. As to their medicines,” I exclaimed,
“Heaven preserve your majesty from them! they are just as treacherous in
their effects as the Franks are in their politics: with what we give
to procure death, they pretend to work their cures. Their principal
ingredient is mercury (and here I produced my pill); and they use their
instruments and knives so freely, that I have heard it said they will
cut off a man’s limbs to save his life.” I then drew such a picture of
the fatal effects likely to proceed from the foreign prescription, that
I made the Shah promise that he would not take it without using every
precaution that his prudence and wisdom might suggest. To this he
consented; and as soon as the Frank shall have sent in the medicine
which he is preparing, I shall be summoned to another interview.

Now, Hajji,’ added the doctor, ‘the Shah must not touch the infidel’s
physic; for if perchance it were to do good, I am a lost man. Who will
ever consult Mirza Ahmak again? No, we must avert the occurrence of such
an event, even if I were obliged to take all his drugs myself.’

We parted with mutual promises of doing everything in our power to
thwart the infidel doctor; and three days after Mirza Ahmak was again
called before the king in order to inspect the promised ordonnance, and
which consisted of a box of pills. He, of course, created all sorts of
suspicions against their efficacy, threw out some dark hints about the
danger of receiving any drug from the agent of a foreign power, and,
finally, left the Shah in the determination of referring the case to his
ministers. The next day, at the usual public audience, when the Shah was
seated on his throne, and surrounded by his prime vizier, his lord high
treasurer, his minister for the interior, his principal secretary of
state, his lord chamberlain, his master of the horse, his principal
master of the ceremonies, his doctor in chief, and many other of the
great officers of his household, addressing himself to his grand vizier,
he stated the negotiations which he had entered into with the foreign
physician, now resident at his court, for the restoration and the
renovation of the royal person; that at the first conference, the said
foreign physician, after a due inspection of the royal person, had
reported that there existed several symptoms of debility. That at
the second, after assuring the Shah that he had for three whole days
employed himself in consulting his books and records, and gathering
from them the opinions of his own country sages on the subject, he had
combined the properties of various drugs into one whole, which, if taken
interiorly, would produce effects so wonderful, that no talisman could
come in competition with it. His majesty then said, that he had called
into his councils his _Hakîm Bashi_, or head physician, who, in his
anxiety for the weal of the Persian monarchy, had deeply pondered over
the ordonnances of the foreigner, and had set his face against them,
owing to certain doubts and apprehensions that had crept into his mind,
which consisted, first, whether it were politic to deliver over the
internal administration of the royal person to foreign regulations and
ordonnances; and, second, whether, in the remedy prescribed, there
might not exist such latent and destructive effects, as would endanger,
undermine, and, finally, overthrow that royal person and constitution,
which it was supposed to be intended to restore and renovate.

‘Under these circumstances,’ said the Centre of the Universe, raising
his voice at the time, ‘I have thought it advisable to pause before I
proceeded in this business; and have resolved to lay the case before
you, in order that you may, in your united wisdoms, frame such an
opinion as may be fitting to be placed before the king: and in order
that you may go into the subject with a complete knowledge of the case,
I have resolved, as a preparatory act, that each of you, in your own
persons, shall partake of this medicine, in order that both you and I
may judge of its various effects.’

To this most gracious speech the grand vizier and all the courtiers made
exclamations, ‘May the king live for ever! May the royal shadow never be
less! We are happy not only to take physic, but to lay down our lives in
your majesty’s service! We are your sacrifice, your slaves! May God give
the Shah health, and a victory over all his enemies!’ Upon which the
chief of the valets was ordered to bring the foreign physician’s box of
pills from the harem, and delivered it to the Shah in a golden salver.
His majesty then ordered the Hakîm Bashi to approach, and delivering the
box to him, ordered him to go round to all present, beginning with the
prime vizier, and then to every man according to his rank, administering
to each a pill.

This being done, the whole assembly took the prescribed gulp; after
which ensued a general pause, during which the king looked carefully
into each man’s face to mark the first effects of the medicine. When the
wry faces had subsided, the conversation took a turn upon the affairs of
Europe; upon which his majesty asked a variety of questions, which were
answered by the different persons present in the best manner they were

The medicine now gradually began to show its effects. The lord high
treasurer first, a large coarse man, who, to this moment had stood
immovable, merely saying _‘Belli, belli,’_ Yes, yes, whenever his
majesty opened his mouth to speak, now appeared uneasy, for what he had
swallowed had brought into action a store of old complaints which were
before lying dormant. The eyes of all had been directed towards him,
which had much increased his perturbed state; when the chief secretary
of state, a tall, thin, lathy man, turned deadly pale, and began
to stream from every pore. He was followed by the minister for the
interior, whose unhappy looks seemed to supplicate a permission from
his majesty to quit his august presence. All the rest in succession were
moved in various ways, except the prime vizier, a little old man, famous
for a hard and unyielding nature, and who appeared to be laughing in his
sleeve at the misery which his compeers in office were undergoing.

When the Shah perceived that the medicine had taken effect, he dismissed
the assembly, ordering Mirza Ahmak, as soon as he could ascertain
the history of each pill, to give him an official report of the whole
transaction, and then retired into his harem.

The crafty old doctor had now his rival within his power; of course,
he set the matter in such a light before the king, that his majesty
was deterred from making the experiment of the foreign physician’s
ordonnance, and it was forthwith consigned to oblivion. When he next saw
me, and after he had made me acquainted with the preceding narrative,
he could not restrain his joy and exultation. ‘We have conquered, friend
Hajji,’ would he say to me. ‘The infidel thought that we were fools;
but we will teach him what Persians are. Whose dog is he, that he should
aspire to so high an honour as prescribing for a king of kings? No, that
is left to such men as I. What do we care about his new discoveries? As
our fathers did, so are we contented to do. The prescription that cured
our ancestors shall cure us; and what Locman and Abou Avicenna ordained
we may be satisfied to ordain after them.’ He then dismissed me, to
make fresh plans for destroying any influence or credit that the new
physician might acquire, and for preserving his own consequence and
reputation at court.


Hajji Baba asks the doctor for a salary, and of the success of his

I had thus far lived with the doctor more as a friend than as a servant;
for he permitted me to sit in his presence, to eat with him, and even to
smoke his pipe, whilst at the same time I associated with his servants,
ate, drank, and smoked with them also; but I found that this sort of
life in nowise suited my views and expectations. The only money which I
had received from him was the gold coin aforementioned, for which I was
indebted to my own ingenuity; and, as things went, it appeared that it
would be the last. I was therefore resolved to come to an explanation
with him, and accordingly seized the opportunity when he was elated
with his success over the European doctor, to open the subject of my

He had just returned from the imperial gate, after having seen the Shah;
who, by his account, had been very gracious to him, having kept him
standing without his shoes only two hours, by the side of a stone
fountain, instead of six, which he generally does. ‘What a good king he
is!’ he exclaimed, ‘how affable, how considerate! It is impossible to
say how much kindness he shows to me. He gave abuse to the European
doctor, all out of compliment to my abilities, and said that he is not
fit to hold my shoes. He then ordered his favourite running footman to
bring me a present of two partridges, which were caught by the royal

I observed, ‘Yes, the king says true. Who is your equal nowadays in
Persia? Happy Shah! to possess such a treasure. What are the Franks,
that they should talk of medicine? If they want learning, science, and
skill, let them look to Mirza Ahmak.’

Upon this, with a smile of self-complacency, he took the pipe from
his mouth and gave it to me, pulled up his moustaches, and stroked his

‘_Inshallah!_ may it please God,’ I continued to say, ‘that I also
may share in the glory of your reputation; but I am like a dog, I am
nothing, I am not even like the piece of clay, which was scented by the
company of the rose.’

‘How!’ said the doctor; ‘why are you out of spirits?’

“I will leave you to judge, and relate a story,” said I. ‘Once upon a
time there was a dog, who in looks and manners was so like a wolf, that
the wolves used to admit him into their society. He ate, drank, and
killed sheep with them, and, in short, was everything that a wolf ought
to be; at the same time, he lived with his fellow dogs like a dog,
and was admitted to all their parties. But, little by little, the dogs
perceived that he associated with wolves, and became shy of him; and it
also happened that the wolves discovered that he was in fact a dog,
and did not like to admit him any longer into their circles; so between
both, the poor dog became neglected and miserable; and, unable to bear
his undefined state any longer, he determined to make a decided effort
to become either a dog or a wolf. I am that dog!’ exclaimed I: ‘you
permit me to sit and smoke with you, who are so much my superior; you
talk to and consult me, and I am even admitted to the society of your
friends; but what does that benefit me? I am still a servant, without
enjoying any of the advantages of one: I get nothing. I pray you
therefore to appoint me to the situation you wish me to hold in your
service, and to fix a salary upon me.’

‘A salary indeed!’ exclaimed the doctor: ‘I never give salaries. My
servants get what they can from my patients, and you may do the same;
they eat the remains of my dinner, and they receive a coat at the
festival of the _No Rûz_,--what can they want more?’ At this moment
entered the Shah’s running footman, bearing in his hands a silver tray,
upon which were placed the two partridges that his majesty had presented
to the doctor, and which, in great form, he gave into his hands, who,
rising from his seat, carried the tray to his head, and exclaimed, ‘May
the king’s kindness never be less! may his wealth increase, and may he
live for ever!’

He then was called upon to make the bearer a present. He sent first five
piastres,[38] which the servant returned with great indignation. He then
sent one tomaun: this also was sent back, until at length in despair
he sent five tomauns, which, it was intimated, was the sum proper to be
given. This disagreeable circumstance dissipated all the pleasure which
such a present had produced, and the Hakîm, in his rage, permitted
himself to use such expressions, which, if reported to the king, would
have brought him into considerable trouble. ‘A present, indeed!’ said
he; ‘I wish such presents were in the other world! ’Tis thus we pay the
wages of the king’s servants--a set of rapacious rascals, without
either shame or conscience! And the worst of it is, we must pay them
handsomely, or else whenever it happens that I get the bastinado on the
soles of my feet--which come it will--they, who perform the operation,
will show me no mercy. Let me not forget what Saadi says, that you can
no more depend upon the friendship of a king than you can upon the voice
of a child; the former changes on the slightest suspicion, the latter in
the course of a night.’

Upon this reflection the doctor began to be alarmed at what he had said
at the outset of his speech; and, with all the terrors of the felek
before him, he seemed quite reconciled to the loss of his five tomauns.

I found that this would not be the best moment to resume the subject of
my expectations, and therefore reserved it for some future opportunity;
but I had heard enough to settle in my own mind, that I would leave the
‘Locman of the age’, whenever an opportunity should offer, and for the
present to content myself with being neither dog nor wolf.

[Illustration: Hajji and Zeenab. 14.jpg]


He becomes dissatisfied with his situation, is idle, and falls in love.

Discontented with my present lot, and uncertain as to my future
prospects, my days passed on in total idleness; and, as I had no
inclination to pursue the profession of physic, which many before me had
done on quite as slender a foundation as the one I had acquired, I
cared little for those pursuits which engaged Mirza Ahmak. I should very
probably have left him instantly, if a circumstance had not occurred,
arising from the very state of unprofitableness in which I lived, which
detained me in his house. The feelings to which it gave rise so entirely
absorbed every other consideration, that I became their slave; and so
violent were the emotions which they created, that I verily believe that
Majnoun, in the height of his frenzy, could not have been madder than I.
After this, it is needless to mention that I was in love.

The spring had passed over, and the first heats of summer, which now
began to make themselves felt, had driven most of the inhabitants of the
city to spread their beds and sleep on the house-tops. As I did not like
to pass my night in company of the servants, the carpet-spreaders and
the cook, who generally herded together in a room below, I extended my
bed in a corner of the terrace, which overlooked the inner court of the
doctor’s house, in which were situated the apartments of the women. This
court was a square, into which the windows of the different chambers
looked, and was planted in the centre with rose-bushes, jessamines, and
poplar-trees. A square wooden platform was erected in the middle, upon
which mattresses were spread, where the inhabitants reposed during the
great heats. I had seen several women seated in different parts of the
court, but had never been particularly struck by the appearance of
any one of them; and indeed had I been so, perhaps I should never have
thought of looking at them again; for as soon as I was discovered,
shouts of abuse were levelled at me, and I was called by every odious
name that they could devise.

One night, however, soon after the sun had set, as I was preparing my
bed, I perchance looked over a part of the wall that was a little broken
down, and on a slip of terrace that was close under it I discovered a
female, who was employed in assorting and spreading out tobacco-leaves.
Her blue veil was negligently thrown over her head, and as she stooped,
the two long tresses which flowed from her forehead hung down in so
tantalizing a manner as nearly to screen all her face, but still left so
much of it visible, that it created an intense desire in me to see the
remainder. Everything that I saw in her announced beauty. Her hands were
small, and dyed with _khena_;[39] her feet were equally small; and her
whole air and form bespoke loveliness and grace. I gazed upon her until
I could no longer contain my passion; I made a slight noise, which
immediately caused her to look up, and before she could cover herself
with her veil, I had had time to see the most enchanting features
that the imagination can conceive, and to receive a look from eyes so
bewitching, that I immediately felt my heart in a blaze. With apparent
displeasure she covered herself; but still I could perceive that she
had managed her veil with so much art, that there was room for a certain
dark and sparkling eye to look at me, and to enjoy my agitation. As I
continued to gaze upon her, she at length said, though still going on
with her work, ‘Why do you look at me? It is criminal.’

‘For the sake of the sainted Hosein,’ I exclaimed, ‘do not turn from me;
it is no crime to love: your eyes have made roast meat of my heart: by
the mother that bore you, let me look upon your face again.’

In a more subdued voice she answered me, ‘Why do you ask me? You know it
is a crime for a woman to let her face be seen; and you are neither my
father, my brother, nor my husband; I do not even know who you are. Have
you no shame, to talk thus to a maid?’

At this moment she let her veil fall, as if by chance, and I had time
to look again upon her face, which was even more beautiful than I had
imagined. Her eyes were large and peculiarly black, and fringed by
long lashes, which, aided by the collyrium with which they were tinged,
formed a sort of ambuscade, from which she levelled her shafts. Her
eyebrows were finely arched, and nature had brought them together just
over her nose, in so strong a line, that there was no need of art to
join them together. Her nose was aquiline, her mouth small, and full of
sweet expression; and in the centre of her chin was a dimple which she
kept carefully marked with a blue puncture. Nothing could equal the
beauty of her hair; it was black as jet, and fell in long tresses down
her back. In short, I was wrapped in amazement at her beauty. The sight
of her explained to me many things which I had read in our poets, of
cypress forms, tender fawns, and sugar-eating parrots. It seemed to me
that I could gaze at her for ever, and not be tired; but still I felt
a great desire to leap over the wall and touch her. My passion was
increasing, and I was on the point of approaching her, when I heard the
name of _Zeenab_ repeated several times, with great impatience, by a
loud shrill voice; upon which my fair one left the terrace in haste, and
I remained riveted to the place where I had first seen her. I continued
there for a long time, in the hope that she might return, but to no
purpose. I lent my ear to every noise, but nothing was to be heard
below but the same angry voice, which, by turns, appeared to attack
everything, and everybody, and which could belong to no one but the
doctor’s wife; a lady, who, as report would have it, was none of the
mildest of her sex, and who kept her good man in great subjection.

The day had now entirely closed in, and I was about retiring to my bed
in despair, when the voice was heard again, exclaiming, ‘Zeenab, where
are you going to? Why do you not retire to bed?’

I indistinctly heard the answer of my charmer, but soon guessed what
it had been, when saw her appear on the terrace again. My heart beat
violently, and I was about to leap over the wall, which separated us,
when I was stopped by seeing her taking up a basket, in which she had
gathered her tobacco, and make a hasty retreat; but just as she was
disappearing, she said to me, in a low tone of voice, ‘Be here to-morrow
night.’ These words thrilled through my whole frame, in a manner that
I had never before felt, and I did not cease to repeat them, and ponder
over them, until, through exhaustion, I fell into a feverish doze, and I
did not awaken on the following morning until the beams of the sun shone
bright in my face.


He has an interview with the fair Zeenab, who relates how she passes her
time in the doctor’s harem.

‘So,’ said I, when I had well rubbed my eyes: ‘so, now I am in love?
Well! we shall see what will come of it. Who and what she is we shall
know to-night, so please it; and if she is anything which belongs to
the doctor, may his house be ruined if I do not teach him how to keep
a better watch over his property. As for marriage, that is out of the
question. Who would give a wife to me; I who have not even enough to
buy myself a pair of trousers, much less to defray the expenses of a
wedding? _Inshallah,_ please God, that will take place one of these
days, whenever I shall have got together some money; but now I will make
play with love, and let the doctor pay for it.’

With that intention I forthwith got up and dressed myself; but it was
with more care than usual. I combed my curls a great deal more than
ordinary; I studied the tie of my girdle, and put my cap on one side.
Then having rolled up my bed, and carried it into the servants’ hall,
I issued from home, with the intention of bathing, and making my person
sweet, preparatory to my evening’s assignation. I went to the bath,
where I passed a great part of my morning in singing, and spent the
remainder of the time, until the hour of meeting, in rambling about the
town without any precise object in view.

At length the day drew towards its close, my impatience had reached
its height, and I only waited for the termination of the _shâm_, or the
evening’s meal, to feign a headache, and to retire to rest. My ill luck
would have it, that the doctor was detained longer than usual in his
attendance upon the Shah, and as the servants dined after him, and ate
his leavings, it was late before I was at liberty. When that moment
arrived, I was in a fever of expectation: the last glimmering of day
tinged the western sky with a light shade of red, and the moon was just
rising, when I appeared on the terrace with my bed under my arm. I threw
it down and unfolded it in haste, and then, with a beating heart, flew
to the broken wall. I looked over it with great precaution; but, to
my utter disappointment, I saw nothing but the tobacco spread about in
confused heaps, with baskets here and there, as if some work had been
left unfinished. I looked all around, but saw no Zeenab. I coughed once
or twice; no answer. The only sound which reached my ears was the voice
of the doctor’s wife, exerting itself upon some one within the house;
although its shrillness pierced even the walls, yet I could not make out
what was the cause of its being so excited, until of a sudden it burst
into the open air with increasing violence.

‘You talk of work to me, you daughter of the devil! Who told you to go
to the bath? What business had you at the tombs? I suppose I am to be
your slave, and you are to take your pleasure. Why is not your work
done? You shall neither eat, drink, nor sleep, until it is done, so go
to it immediately; and if you come away until it be finished, wallah!
billah! by the prophet, I will beat you till your nails drop off.’ Upon
this I heard some pushing and scuffing, and immediately perceived my
fair one proceeding with apparent reluctance to the spot, which not a
moment before I had despaired of seeing blessed with her presence. Oh
what a wonderful thing is love! thought I to myself: how it sharpens the
wits, and how fertile it is in expedients! I perceived at a glance how
ingeniously my charmer had contrived everything for our interview, and
for a continuance of it without the fear of interruption. She saw, but
took no notice of me until the storm below had ceased; and then, when
everything had relapsed into silence, she came towards me, and, as the
reader may well suppose, I was at her side in an instant. Ye, who know
what love is, may, perhaps, conceive our raptures, for they are not to
be expressed.

I learnt from my fair friend that she was the daughter of a Cûrdish
chief, who, with his whole family, including his flocks and herds,
had been made prisoner when she was quite a child; and that, from
circumstances which she promised hereafter to relate to me, she had
fallen into the hands of the doctor, whose slave she now was.

After the first burst of the sentiments which we felt towards each other
had subsided, she gave way to the feelings of anger, which she felt for
the treatment that she had just experienced. ‘Ah!’ she exclaimed,
‘did you hear what that woman called me! woman, without faith, without
religion! ’Tis thus she always treats me; she constantly gives me abuse;
I am become less than a dog. Everybody rails at me; no one comes near
me; my liver is become water, and my soul is withered up. Why should I
be called a child of the devil? I am a Cûrd; I am a Yezeedi.[40] ’Tis
true that we fear the devil, and who does not? but I am no child of his.
Oh! that I could meet her in our mountains: she would then see what a
Cûrdish girl can do.’

I endeavoured to console her as well as I could, and persuaded her
to smother her resentment until she could find a good opportunity of
revenging herself. She despaired at that ever coming to pass; because
all her actions were so strictly watched, that she could scarcely go
from one room to another without her mistress being aware of it. The
fact was, so she informed me, that the doctor, who was a man of low
family, had, by orders of the king, married one of his majesty’s slaves,
who, from some misconduct, had been expelled from the harem. She brought
the doctor no other dowry than an ill-temper, and a great share of
pride, which always kept her in mind of her former influence at court;
and she therefore holds her present husband as cheap as the dust under
her feet, and keeps him in a most pitiful state of subjection. He dares
not sit down before her, unless she permits him, which she very seldom
does; and she is moreover so jealous, that there is no slave in her
harem who does not excite her suspicions. The doctor, on the other hand,
who is very ambitious, and pleased with his exaltation, is also subject
to the frailties of human nature, and is by no means insensible to
the charms of the fair creatures, his slaves. Zeenab herself, so she
informed me, is the peculiar object of his attentions, and consequently
that of the jealousy of his wife, who permits no look, word, or sign to
pass unnoticed. Much intrigue and espionage is carried on in the harem;
and when the lady herself goes to the bath or the mosque, as many
precautions are taken about the distribution of the female slaves,
with respect to time, place, and opportunity, as there would be in the
arrangement of a wedding.

Having never seen more of the interior of an anderûn than what I
recollected as a boy in my own family, I became surprised, and my
curiosity was greatly excited in proportion as the fair Zeenab proceeded
in her narrative of the history of her life in the doctor’s house.
‘We are five in the harem, besides our mistress,’ said she: ‘there is
Shireen, the Georgian slave; then Nûr Jehan,[41] the Ethiopian slave
girl; Fatmeh, the cook; and old Leilah, the duenna. My situation is that
of handmaid to the _khanum_,[42] so my mistress is called: I attend
her pipe, I hand her her coffee, bring in the meals, go with her to the
bath, dress and undress her, make her clothes, spread, sift, and pound
tobacco, and stand before her. Shireen, the Georgian, is the sandukdar,
or housekeeper; she has the care of the clothes of both my master and
mistress, and indeed of the clothes of all the house; she superintends
the expenses, lays in the corn for the house, as well as all the other
provisions; she takes charge of all the porcelain, the silver, and other
ware; and, in short, has the care of whatever is either precious or of
consequence in the family. Nûr Jehan, the black slave, acts as ferash,
or carpet-spreader: she does all the dirty work, spreads the carpets,
sweeps the rooms, sprinkles the water over the court yard, helps the
cook, carries parcels and messages, and, in short, is at the call of
every one. As for old Leilah, she is a sort of duenna over the young
slaves: she is employed in the out-of-door service, carries on any
little affair that the khanum may have with other harems, and is also
supposed to be a spy upon the actions of the doctor. Such as we are, our
days are passed in peevish disputes; whilst, at the same time, some two
of us are usually leagued in strict friendship, to the exclusion of the
others. At this present moment I am at open war with the Georgian, who,
some time ago, found that her good luck in life had forsaken her, and
she in consequence contrived to procure a talisman from a dervish.
She had no sooner obtained it, than on the very next day the khanum
presented her with a new jacket; this so excited my jealousy, that I
also made interest with the dervish to supply me with a talisman that
should secure me a good husband. On that very same evening I saw you on
the terrace. Conceive my happiness! But this has established a rivality
between myself and Shireen, which has ended in hatred, and we are now
mortal enemies: perhaps we may as suddenly be friends again. I am now on
the most intimate terms with Nûr Jehan, and at my persuasion she reports
to the khanum every story unfavorable to my rival. Some rare sweetmeats,
with _baklava_ (sweet cake) made in the royal seraglio, were sent a few
days ago from one of the Shah’s ladies, as a present to our mistress;
the rats ate a great part of them, and we gave out that the Georgian was
the culprit, for which she received blows on the feet, which Nûr Jehan
administered. I broke my mistress’s favourite drinking-cup; Shireen
incurred the blame, and was obliged to supply another. I know that she
is plotting against me, for she is eternally closeted with Leilah, who
is at present the confidant of our mistress. I take care not to eat or
drink anything which has passed through her hands to me, for fear of
poison, and she returns me the same compliment. It is not, that our
hatred amounts to poison yet, but such precautions are constantly in use
in all harems. We have as yet only once come to blows: she excited me to
violent anger by spitting and saying, “_lahnet be Sheitan_,” curse be
on the devil, which you know to the Yezeedies is a gross insult; when
I fell upon her, calling her by every wicked name that I had learnt
in Persian, and fastening upon her hair, of which I pulled out whole
tresses by the roots. We were parted by Leilah, who came in for her
share of abuse, and we continued railing at each other until our throats
were quite dried up with rage and exhaustion. Our violence has much
abated since this conflict; but her enmity is undiminished, for she
continues to show her spite against me in every manner she can devise.’

Zeenab continued to entertain me in this manner until the first dawn
of the morning, and when we heard the _muezzin_[43] call the morning
prayers from the mosque, we thought it prudent to retire; but not until
we had made mutual promises of seeing each other as often as prudence
would allow. We agreed, that whenever she had by her stratagems secured
an opportunity for meeting, she should hang her veil upon the bough of
a tree in the court, which could be seen from my terrace; and that if it
were not there, I was to conclude that our interview on that night was

[Illustration: Hajji sings to Zeenab. 15.jpg]


The lovers meet again, and are very happy--Hajji Baba sings.

On the following evening, I ascended the terrace in the hope of seeing
the signal of meeting; but in vain; no veil was visible; and I sat
myself down in despair. The tobacco, and all the apparatus for cleaning
it, had disappeared, and all was hushed below. Even the unceasing
voice of the doctor’s wife, which I now began to look upon as the most
agreeable sound in nature, was wanting; and the occasional drag of a
slipper, which I guessed might proceed from the crawl of old Leilah, was
the only sign of an inhabitant. I had in succession watched the distant
din of the king’s band, the crash of the drums, and the swell of the
trumpets, announcing sunset. I had listened to the various tones of the
muezzins, announcing the evening prayer; as well as to the small drum of
the police, ordering the people to shut their shops, and retire to their
homes. The cry of the sentinels on the watch-towers of the king’s palace
was heard at distant intervals; night had completely closed in upon me,
and still the same silence prevailed in the doctor’s harem.

‘What can be the reason of this?’ said I to myself. ‘If they have been
to the bath, they cannot have remained thus late: besides, the baths are
open for the women in the mornings only. Some one must be sick, or there
is a marriage, or a birth, or perhaps a burial; or the doctor may have
received the bastinado’; in short, I was killing myself with conjecture,
when of a sudden a great beating at the door took place, and, as it
opened, the clatter of slippers was heard, attended by the mingled
sounds of many female voices, amongst which the well-known querulous
tone of the khanum was prominent. Several lanterns passed to and fro,
which showed me the forms of the women, amongst whom, as they threw off
their veils, I recognized that of my Zeenab. I determined to watch, in
the hope that I might still be blessed with an interview; and, in
fact, it was not long before she appeared. She stole to me with great
precaution, to say that circumstances would prevent our meeting on this
occasion, as she should not fail being missed; but that, certainly,
ere long, she would contrive to secure an interview. In few words, she
informed me that her mistress had been called upon to attend her sister
(one of the ladies in the Shah’s seraglio), who being taken suddenly
ill, had expired almost immediately (it was supposed by poison
administered by a rival), and that she had taken all her women with her,
in order to increase the clamour of lamentation which was always made
on such occasions; that they had been there since noon, rending the
air with every proper exclamation, until they were all hoarse; that
her mistress had already torn her clothes, an etiquette which she had
performed however with great care, considering that she wore a favourite
jacket, having permitted only one or two seams of it to be ripped open.
As the burial would take place the next day, it was necessary that
they should be at their post early in the morning to continue the
lamentations--a service for which she expected to receive a black
handkerchief, and to eat sweetmeats. My fair one then left me, promising
that she would do her utmost to secure a meeting on the following
evening, and telling me not to forget the signal.

On getting up the next morning, I was much surprised to see it already
made, and to perceive Zeenab below, beckoning me to go to her. I did not
hesitate immediately to descend from the terrace by the same flight of
steps which she used to ascend it, and then of a sudden I found myself
in the very centre of the harem. An involuntary tremor seized me, when
I reflected that I was in a place into which no man with impunity is
permitted to enter; but, fortified by the smiles and the unconstrained
manner of my enchantress, I proceeded.

‘Come, Hajji,’ said she, ‘banish all fear; no one is here but Zeenab,
and, if our luck is good, we may have the whole day to ourselves.’

‘By what miracle,’ exclaimed I, ‘have you done this? Where is the
Khanum? where are the women? and, if they are not here, how shall I
escape the doctor?’

‘Do not fear,’ she repeated again; ‘I have barred all the doors; and
should any one come, you will have time to escape before I open them:
but there is no fear of that; all the women are gone to the funeral; and
as for Mirza Ahmak, my mistress has taken care to dispose of him in such
a manner, now that I am left by myself, that he will not dare to come
within a parasang of his own house. You must know then,’ said she, ‘for
I see you are all astonishment, that our destinies are on the rise, and
that it was a lucky hour when we first saw each other. Everything plays
into our hands. My rival, the Georgian, put it into the khanum’s head,
that Leilah, who is a professed weeper at burials, having learned the
art, in all its branches since a child, was a personage absolutely
necessary on the present occasion, and that she ought to go in
preference to me, who am a Cûrd, and can know but little of Persian
customs: all this, of course, to deprive me of my black handkerchief,
and other advantages. Accordingly, I have been left at home; and
the whole party went off an hour ago to the house of the deceased. I
pretended to be very angry, and opposed Leilah’s taking my place with
apparent warmth; but, thank Heaven, here we are, and so let us make the
most of our time.’

Upon which she went into the kitchen to prepare a tray, containing a
breakfast for me, whilst she left me to explore that which is hidden
from all bachelors, namely, the interior of the harem.

I first went into the apartments of the khanum herself. It opened upon
the garden by an immense sash-window, composed of stained glass; and in
the corner was the accustomed seat of the lady, marked by a thick felt
carpet, folded double, and a large down cushion, covered with cloth of
gold, with two tassels at the extremities, and veiled by a thin outer
covering of muslin. Near this seat was a looking-glass, prettily
painted, and a box containing all sorts of curiosities; the _surmé_
(collyrium) for the eyes, with its small instrument for applying it;
some Chinese rouge; a pair of armlets, containing talismans; a _toû
zoulfeh_, or an ornament to hitch into the hair, and hang on the
forehead; a knife, scissors, and other things. A guitar and a tambourine
lay close at hand. Her bed, rolled up in a distant corner, was enclosed
in a large wrapper of blue and white cloth. Several pictures, without
frames, were hung against the walls, and the shelf which occupied the
top of the room was covered with different sorts of glasses, basins,
etc. In a corner were seen several bottles of Shiraz wine, one of which,
just stopped with a flower, appeared to have been used by the good lady
that very morning; most likely in order to keep up her spirits during
the melancholy ceremony she was about to attend.

‘So,’ said I to myself, ‘the Prophet is not much heeded in this house.
I shall know another time how to appreciate a sanctified and mortified
look. Our doctor, who calls himself a staunch Mussulman, I see makes up
for his large potations of cold water and sherbet abroad, by his good
stock of wine at home.’

By the time I had satisfied my curiosity here, and had inspected the
other rooms, which belonged to the servants, Zeenab had prepared our
breakfast, which she placed before us in the khanum’s room. We sat down
next to each other, and reposed upon the very cushion of which I have
just given the description. Nothing could be more delicious than the
meal which she had prepared: there was a dish of rice, white as snow,
and near it a plate of roast meat, cut into small bits, wrapped up in
a large flap of bread; then a beautiful Ispahan melon, in long slices;
some pears and apricots; an omelette warmed from a preceding meal;
cheese, onions, and leeks; a basin of sour curds, and two different
sorts of sherbet: added to this, we had some delicious sweetmeats, and a
basin full of new honey.

‘How, in the name of your mother,’ exclaimed I, as I pulled up my
whiskers, and surveyed the good things before me, ‘how have you managed
to collect all this so soon? This is a breakfast fit for the Shah.’

‘Oh, as to that,’ she replied, ‘do not trouble yourself, but fall to. My
mistress ordered her breakfast to be prepared over-night, but on second
thoughts this morning she determined to make her meal at the house of
the deceased, and has left me, as you see, but little to do. Come, let
us eat and be merry.’

Accordingly, we did honour to the breakfast, and left but little for
those who might come after us. After we had washed our hands, we placed
the wine before us, and having each broken the commandment by taking a
cup, we congratulated ourselves upon being two of the happiest of human

Such was my delight, that taking up the guitar which was near me, and
putting aside all apprehension for the present, and all care for the
future, I tuned it to my voice, and sang the following ode of Hafiz,
which I had learnt in my youth, when I used to charm my hearers in the

What bliss is like to whisp’ring love, Or dalliance in the bowers of
spring? Why then delay my bliss t’improve? Haste, haste, my love, the
goblet bring.

Each hour that joy and mirth bestow Call it treasure, count it gain;
Fool is the man who seeks to know His pleasure will it end in pain!

The links which our existence bind Hang not by one weak thread alone; Of
man’s distress why tease the mind? Sufficient ’tis, we know our own.

The double charms of love and wine Alike from one sweet source arise:
Are we to blame, shall we repine, When unconstrain’d the passions rise?

If innocent in heart and mind, I sin unconscious of offence What use, O
casuist, shall I find In absolution’s recompense?

Hermits the flowing spring approve; Poets the sparkling bowl enjoy: And,
till he’s judged by powers above, Hafiz will drink, and sing, and toy.

Zeenab was quite in ecstasy: she had never heard anything so delightful
in her life, and forgetting that both of us were but wretched
individuals--she a slave, I the most destitute of beings--we did and
felt as if all that surrounded us was our own, and that the wine and our
love would last for ever.

Having sang several more songs, and emptied several cups of wine, I
found that my poetry was exhausted as well as our bottle.

It was still quite early, and we had much time before us. ‘Zeenab,’ said
I, ‘you have long promised to tell me the history of your life, and now
is a good opportunity; we are not likely to be interrupted for a long
while, and, as our meetings at night are very uncertain, an hour
cannot be better filled up than by the recital of your adventures.’ She
assented to my proposal with much good humour, and began as follows.


The history of Zeenab, the Cûrdish slave.

I am the daughter of a chief, well known in the Cûrdistan by the name of
Okous Aga. Who my mother was I do not precisely know. I have heard that
I am the produce of one of the secret meetings at Kerrund;[44] but as
such mysterious doings are hushed up among the Cûrds, I have never dared
to question anybody concerning them, and cannot, therefore, ascertain
whether the reports about my birth be true or not. It is very certain
that I never looked up to anyone as my mother; but was brought up at
hazard among our women, and that my earliest friend was a foal, that
lived as an inmate with us. It was born in the very tent which my
father’s wives occupied; and its dam, of the purest Arabian blood,
was treated more like one of the family than a quadruped: in fact,
it received much more attention than any of the wives; it enjoyed the
warmest place in the tent, was beautifully clothed, and in all our
journeys was the first object of our cares. When the mare died, a
universal lamentation ensued throughout the encampment. The foal
lived to be my father’s war-horse, and is to this day the pride of the
Cûrdistan. But would to Heaven that we had felt less affection for these
animals! then I might still have been a free woman; for, in truth, the
many vicissitudes which we have undergone originated in the possession
of a mare, of which you shall hear more hereafter.

‘You must know that although the Cûrds do not allow that they are
subject to any power, yet our ancestors (and so did my father to a
certain time) grazed their flocks and pitched their tents in that part
of the Cûrdistan mountains belonging to Turkey, which are situated in
the government of the Pasha of Bagdad. Whenever that chief had any
war on his hands, he frequently called upon our tribes to afford him
supplies of horsemen, who, being celebrated throughout Asia, were always
foremost in the battle. My father, from his strength, his courage, and
his horsemanship, was a great favourite with the Pasha, and in high
request on such occasions. He was a majestic figure on horseback; and
when his countenance was shaded by the back part of his cap thrown over
his brow, his look inspired terror. He had killed several men, and was
consequently honoured with the distinction of bearing a tuft of hair
on his spear. But it was when clad in armour that he was most to be
admired. I shall never forget the grandeur of his appearance, when, with
his horse curvetting under him, I saw him in the midst of a thousand
cavaliers, all dressed in shining cuirasses, peacock’s feathers
streaming from their helmets, and their spears glittering in the
sun, preparing themselves to join the Pasha. From the result of this
expedition we date part of our misfortunes. The Wahabi had advanced into
the territory of Bagdad, and even threatened that city, when the Pasha
thought it high time to call the Cûrds to his assistance. He took the
field with a considerable number of troops, and immediately marched
against the enemy. In a night attack my father happened to fall in with
and slay the son of the Arab Sheikh himself, who commanded the Wahabi;
and, having despoiled him of his arms, he led away with him the mare
which his antagonist had mounted. He too well knew the value of such a
prize not immediately to take the utmost care of it; and, in order to
keep his good fortune from the knowledge of the Turkish chieftain, who
would do everything in his power to get it from him, he sent the beast
to his encampment, with orders that it should be carefully concealed,
and lodged in the tent which his harem occupied. His precautions were
useless, because the feat which he had performed, and the circumstances
attending it, were soon known to every one; but as the Pasha had a great
esteem for him, and there being no reason to suppose that the mare was
more than an ordinary one, he made no inquiries about her. However, not
very long after the war had ceased, the Wahabi having been driven back
into the desert, and the Cûrds having retired to their mountains, we
were surprised one morning by a visit from one of the Pasha’s chief
officers, viz. the _Mirakhor_, or master of the horse, who came escorted
by a handsome train of ten men, well mounted and armed. Everybody was
immediately on the alert to do them honour. Their horses were taken to
the nearest pasture, and picketed with plenty of grass before them: the
horsemen were led into the men’s tent with much ceremony, where they
were treated with coffee and pipes; and a large cauldron of rice was
set on the fire to make a pilau. Two lambs were immediately killed, and
cooked into a savoury dish by the women, who also baked piles of bread
on the occasion. In short, we did all in our power to put into practice
those obligations of hospitality which are binding upon the wandering

‘As soon as my father was apprised of the approach of his visitors, even
when they were first espied at a distance, it immediately occurred to
him what might be their object, and he ordered his eldest son to mount
the mare without a moment’s delay, to take her into a neighbouring dell
until he should hear further from him. Our tents were pitched in a line,
on the brink of a mountain torrent; and it was therefore easy to steal
away unperceived in the deep bed through which it flowed; and the high
mountains in our neighbourhood, with the intricacies of which we were
well acquainted, afforded good shelter to us in case of disturbance.

‘I recollect the whole circumstance just as if it were yesterday; for
we women could peep into the place where the men were assembled, and our
curiosity led us to listen to what they said. The mirakhor and two other
Turks were seated; the others stood at the entrance of the tent, resting
on their arms. My father placed himself at some distance, on the carpet,
with his hands before him, and his feet tucked under him, looking very
humble, but at the same time casting his eyes very sharply around him.

‘“You are welcome, and you have brought happiness with you,” exclaimed
my father.

‘“Happily met,” answered the mirakhor; “it is long since we have seen
each other”; and when they had repeated these and similar sorts of
compliments over and over again, they relapsed into silence; their
pipes, which they smoked until the place was darkened with the fume,
holding them in lieu of conversation.

‘“Our master, the pasha,” said the mirakhor, “sends you health and
peace; he loves you, and says that you are one of his best and oldest
friends. _Mashallah!_ praise be to God! You are a good man; all Cûrds
are good; their friends are our friends, and their enemies our enemies.”

‘An old Turk, who was standing, the foremost of the attendants,
applauded this speech by a sort of low growl; and then my father,
shrugging up his shoulders, and pressing his hands on his knees,
answered: “I am the Pasha’s slave; I am your slave; you do me much
honour. _Il hem dillah,_ thanks to heaven, we eat our bread in peace
under the Pasha’s shade, and put our caps on one side without fear. God
give him plenty.”

‘After a short pause: “The business of our coming, Okous Aga,” said the
mirakhor, “is this:--The Wahabi (curses be on their beards!) have sent a
deputation to our chief, requiring from him the mare upon which the son
of their sheikh was mounted at the time that he was killed. Although
they say that his blood is on our heads, and that nothing but the
pasha’s life, or that of his son, can ever redeem it; yet that subject
they will for the present waive, in order to regain possession of her.
They say, she has the most perfect pedigree of any in Arabia; that from
generation to generation her descent is to be traced to the mare which
the Prophet rode on his flight from Medina; and, in order to regain her,
they offer to throw money on the board until the pasha shall say stop.
Now all the world knows that you are the brave he, who overcame and slew
the sheikh’s son, and that yours is the spoil of the mare. My master,
after consulting with the nobles and the chief men of Bagdad, has
determined to take the offer of the Wahabi into consideration; and since
it is become a business of government, has sent me to request you to
deliver her up into my hands. This is my errand, and I have said it.”

‘“_Wallah! billah!_ By the pasha’s salt which I have eat, by your soul,
by the mother who bore you, by the stars and the heavens, I swear that
all the Wahabi say is false. Where is the mare they pretend to have
lost, and where the miserable jade that fell to my lot? I got a mare,
’tis true, but so lean, so wretched, that I sold her to an Arab the day
after the battle. You may have the bridle and saddle, if you please; but
as for the beast, I have her not.”

‘“_Allah, Allah!_” exclaimed the mirakhor, “this is a business of much
consequence. Okous Aga, you are an upright man, and so am I. Do not
laugh at our beards, and send us away without caps on our heads. If we
do not bring back the mare, our faces will be black to all eternity, and
the doors of friendship between you and the pasha will be shut. By my
soul, tell me; where is the beast?”

‘“Friend,” answered my father, “what shall I say? what can I do? The
mare is not here--the Wahabi are liars--and I speak the truth.” Then
with a softened tone, he approached the mirakhor, and spoke to him for
a long time in a whisper, with much animation and apparent persuasion;
for, at the end of their conversation, they appeared to be well agreed.

‘The mirakhor then said aloud, “Well, if such is the case, and the beast
is not in your possession, _Allah kerim,_ God is merciful, and there is
no combating against fate. We must return to Bagdad.”

‘My father then rose from his seat, and came into the women’s tent,
leaving his guests to smoke their pipes and drink coffee, preparatory to
the meal which was making ready for them. He ordered his wife, who
was the depository of his money, to bring him a bag of gold, that was
carefully wrapped in many a piece of old cloth, and deposited in a
trunk, which, with his rich horse furniture, the parade pack-saddle, and
other things of value, were placed in a corner of the tent. He took
out twenty _Bajoglis_ (ducats), which he tied into the corner of a
handkerchief, and thrust them into his bosom; and then giving his orders
that the victuals should forthwith be served up, he returned to his
guests. Little was said until the hour of eating came, and the few words
that were uttered turned on horses, dogs, and arms. The mirakhor drew
from his girdle a long pistol, mounted in silver, which was shown around
to all the company as a real English pistol. Another man exhibited his
scimitar, which was assured to be a black _Khorassani_ blade of the
first water; and my father produced a long straight sword, sharp on both
edges, which he had taken from the son of the Arab Sheikh whom he had

‘The dinner being ready, the round leathern cloth was placed before the
mirakhor, upon which many flaps of bread, just baked, were thrown, and
water was handed about for washing the right hand. A mess of _chorba_,
or soup, was served up in a large wooden dish, and placed in the centre
of the cloth. My father then said aloud, “_Bismillah,_” in the name of
God; and all the party, consisting of the mirakhor, his ten followers,
my father and three of his attendants, settling themselves round the
dish, with their right shoulders advanced forwards, partook of the soup
with wooden spoons. A lamb roasted whole succeeded the mess, which was
pulled to pieces in a short time, each man getting as large a portion of
it for himself as he could. The feast was closed by an immense dish of
rice, which was dived into by the hands and fingers of all present. As
fast as they were satisfied, each man got up and washed, saying _Shukur
Allah_, thanks to God; and _Allah bereket versin_, may God restore you
plenty. The remains were then rolled up in the leathern cloth, and taken
outside the tents, where my father’s shepherds soon made an end of them.

‘The mirakhor being anxious to sleep at a village in the plain,
expressed a wish to depart, and his suite went to prepare their horses,
leaving him and my father in the tent. I, who had narrowly watched the
whole of the proceedings, was determined to see what should take place
between them, and lent an ear to what they said.

‘My father said, “Indeed ten ducats is all I can give--we are
poor--where shall I find more?” To which the mirakhor replied, “It is
impossible: you know perfectly what will happen if I do not receive
double that sum: the Pasha, when he finds that we have not brought the
mare, will order me back again to seize you, and will take possession
of all your property. I am indeed ordered to do that now, in case you
refuse his request, but shall not touch you, if you come to my terms,
which are twenty gold pieces. So, my friend, decide.” Upon which, my
father took the handkerchief from his bosom, and taking out the money
from it, counted twenty ducats into the mirakhor’s hand, who, when
satisfied that they were all good, untied the white muslin that was
wound round his turban, and placing them in the folds of it, twisted
it round his head again. “Now,” said he to my father, “we have ate salt
together; we are friends; and should the Pasha attempt anything, I will
interfere. But you must send him a present, or otherwise it will be
impossible to prevent him from molesting you.”

‘“_Bashem ustun_, upon my head be it!” answered my father. “I possess
a famous greyhound, celebrated throughout the whole of the Cûrdistan,
which can seize an antelope at full speed; a creature the like of which
the Shah of Persia’s father never even saw in a dream. Will that do?”

“Perfectly well for one thing; but that is not enough. Consider of what
consequence it is that my master should be pleased with you.”

‘“I tell you what,” said he: “a thought has struck me; I have a
daughter, more beautiful than the moon, round, large hipped, and greatly
inclined to corpulency. You must say to him, that although the Yezeedies
are infidels in his eyes, and as the dust under his feet, yet still he
may perhaps be anxious to possess a beauty, which even the houris of
Mahomed’s paradise would be jealous of, and I am ready to send her to

‘The mirakhor clapped his hands in ecstasy, and said, “_Aferin! Aferin!_
well said! this is excellent! I will make the offer, and no doubt he
will accept it; and thus you will have a powerful friend in his harem,
who will get you out of this scrape, and protect you for the future.”
Upon this they seemed agreed. I, who it appears was to be the victim,
left my watching-place to ruminate upon what was likely to be my future
destiny. At first I was inclined to weep, and to lament over my fate;
but after a little consideration, I exclaimed, “O my soul! am I to be a
pasha’s lady? am I to wear fine clothes? am I to be borne in a litter?
Oh! the delight of a litter will be too great! How all the girls of the
mountains will envy me!”

‘After some time had elapsed, looking from the tents into the open
country, I saw the mirakhor and his party, who had not failed to take
the greyhound with him, duly dressed out in its gayest trappings, making
their way along the side of the chain of hills which bordered our camp.
I then heard my father expressing his thankfulness and gratitude for
having so well got rid of such unwelcome visitors.

‘As soon as they were fairly out of sight, he dispatched one of his
shepherd’s boys to his son in the mountains, ordering him to bring back
the mare; and when the animal was safely lodged in the women’s tent, he
called together the elders of his tribe, consisting of his own and his
wives’ relations, who were encamped in our vicinity. He explained to
them the situation in which he was placed; showing that his and their
destruction was inevitable should they continue any longer in the
territory of the pasha, who would not fail to seize this opportunity of
levying fines and exactions, and reducing them to want and beggary.
They were assembled in the men’s tent, to the number of ten persons; the
place of honour, the corner, being given to my father’s uncle, the elder
of the tribe, an old man, whose beard, as white as snow, descended to
his girdle.

‘“You know,” said my father, “that we are Yezeedies; and you also know
the hatred which all Mussulmans bear to us: the pasha has hitherto
pretended friendship to me individually, because I have fought his
battles, because I am a lion in the fight, and drink the blood of his
enemies; but his love of money is so great that nothing can satisfy it;
and rather than lose this opportunity, he would see me, my father, my
grandfather, my great-grandfather, and all my race grilling in eternal
fires. We are too few to resist him, although, by that great Power whom
we all worship, if we had not wives and children to protect, I, with a
spear in my hand, my sword by my side, and mounted on my mare--I would
not fear to encounter the whole host of his dastardly ragamuffins, and
I should like to see the _cherkaji_[45] that would face me. I propose,
therefore, that, without a moment’s delay, we abandon the Turkish
territory, and migrate into Persia, where we shall not fail to meet with
welcome and protection.”

‘“Okous Aga,” said his uncle to him, whilst every one seemed to
listen with great respect to what he would say, “Okous Aga, you are my
brother’s son; you are my child; you are the head of our tribe, and our
best support and protection. If I were to advise you to give up the mare
to the pasha, you would think me unworthy of being a Cûrd and a Yezeedi;
and even were he now to get possession of her, we should not be spared;
for such is the experience I have of Turkish governors, that when once
they have a pretext in hand for oppression, they never fail to make use
of it. Therefore, I am of your opinion--we cannot remain here. Old as I
am, and accustomed as I have been from my earliest infancy to graze our
flocks and herds upon these mountains--to see the sun rise over yonder
hill and set in that distant plain--much as I love these spots upon
which our ancestors have been bred and born; yet it shall not be said
that I have been the cause of the ruin of our tribe. I am, therefore,
for immediate departure: delay now would be dangerous. In two more
days we shall be visited by the pasha’s troops, who will take from us
hostages, and then here shall we be fixed, and here will ruin overwhelm
us. Let us go, my children; God is great and merciful. The time may come
when you will be restored to your ancient seats, and when you may again
range from your summer pastures to your winter quarters, and from your
winter quarters to your pastures, without fear and apprehension.”

‘When he had done speaking, an old shepherd, who had great experience
in all that related to the seasons, and considerable knowledge of
the country between our mountains and those of Persia, spoke as
follows:--“If we go, we must go immediately, for a day’s delay might
stop us. The snows on the mountains are already beginning to melt, and
the torrents will be so swollen in another week, that we shall not be
able to get the sheep across them. Besides, it is now about three weeks
to the day when the sun enters the sign of the Ram, at which time our
ewes will, _inshallah,_ please God, bring forth in plenty; and they
ought to have performed their journey and be at rest long before that
time. We ought to settle beforehand in what tract of country we shall
fix ourselves, because the Persian wandering tribes are very tenacious
of their rights of pasturage; and should we trespass upon them, without
proper authority from the government, our shepherds and theirs would not
fail to come to blows, and God only knows the consequences.”

‘“He speaks true,” exclaimed my father: then turning to the shepherd, he
exclaimed, “Well said, Karabeg; well done! you are a good servant, and
you have given good advice. Before we think of establishing ourselves in
Persia, one of us must go to Kermanshah, and ask leave of the Prince
to appoint us to a good country; and when once we have got out of the
pasha’s reach, I will perform that service, and return to you in time to
prevent strife with the other wandering tribes.”

‘The assembly being unanimous for immediate departure, my father gave
his orders, that the cattle should be called in, the tents broken up,
and the oxen in readiness to receive their loads; that the camels should
have their pack-saddles put upon them, and that everything should be in
readiness to depart by midnight, in order that we might reach our first
stage about an hour after sunrise. His mare, which was now become an
object of the first consequence, was to be mounted by my father, in
person, whilst his chief wife, with her children, were to travel in
the _cajaveh_ or panniers; the camel which was to carry them being
ornamented with trappings inlaid with beads, set off by red cloth
trimmings, and a thick profusion of tassels.

‘As soon as this was known by the women, they set up shouts of wailing
and lamentation. The evil appeared to them greater than it really
was; for they expected nothing less than the immediate approach of the
pasha’s troops to seize upon the tribe, and carry them all into slavery.

‘As for me,’ said Zeenab, ‘my misery arose from another cause; for
ever since I had overheard the conversation between my father and the
mirakhor, I could think of nothing else than of the charms of being a
pasha’s lady. My dream was now over, and instead of the rich dresses,
the sumptuous palaces, the gilded litters, and the luxury of state,
which I had flattered myself was to be my future lot, I had now nothing
before me but my old drudgeries,--the loading of beasts, the packing up
of baggage, the churning of milk, and the making of butter.

‘Our whole camp was now in motion: and, as far as the eye could reach,
the mountains were swarming with the flocks and herds of our tribe,
which were driven by the shepherds towards their different encampments.
The tents were taken to pieces, and prepared for loading. The women, who
took the greatest share in the labour of departure, were seen everywhere
actively bestirring themselves to pack up the furniture and utensils.
The carpets were rolled up; the camel-trunks filled; all the materials
for making butter collected; and the pack-saddles of the mules, oxen,
and camels, laid out for immediate use. The cattle being arrived, the
camels were made to kneel down in a ring, and were covered with their
pack-saddles; the oxen had their pads put upon them; and the mules were
tied into strings of five or seven each, and ornamented with their bells
and thick felt coverings. The sheep and goats, in the meanwhile, at
the close of day, had already began their march, guarded by their
watch-dogs, and accompanied by their shepherds, one of whom walked in
front, whilst the whole train followed.

‘At midnight the whole camp had cleared the ground; and, as the day
dawned, our line of march was to be seen to a great distance, winding
along the mountains. We kept a track little followed, in order not to
meet any one who might give information of our movements to the pasha;
and, after several days’ march, we reached the frontier of Persia, with
much fewer accidents, and much less difficulties, than might have
been expected. During the journey, my father, in conjunction with
the principal men of his tribe, kept a constant look out in the rear,
determined, should any of the Pasha’s people approach us with an
intention of impeding our progress, they would, without hesitation, make
every resistance in their power. But fortune favoured us, and we saw
none but shepherds, belonging to Cûrdish tribes, who occupied part of
the country that we travelled over.

‘When we had reached a place of safety, my father rode forwards to
Kermanshah, the seat of government of a powerful prince, one of the king
of Persia’s sons, in order to claim his protection, and to receive his
permission to occupy one of the pasturages situated within the Persian
territory. We waited for his return with great anxiety, for in the
meanwhile we were liable to an attack from both Turks and Persians; but
as it is the policy of both countries to entice the wandering tribes
into their territory, we met with no molestation from the chief of the
Persian town which happened to be the nearest to us.

‘At length my father returned, and with him an officer belonging to the
prince, who assigned us a tract of country, about ten parasangs within
the Persian frontier. Our winter residence was situated in a sheltered
nook of the mountains, not far from a copious spring of water; and
our summer quarters, about three days’ journey off, were described as
situated in the coolest spot of the adjacent mountains, abounding in
grass and water, and distant from any chance of molestation from the

‘My father was well known at Kermanshah, and when his arrival and the
object of his mission were known, the prince expressed great pleasure,
treated him with much consideration, and dismissed him invested with a
dress of honour. No stipulations were made as to the terms upon which he
was to be received, and unlimited promises of protection were held out
to him. “If the pasha,” said the prince, “claims you and your tribe, as
the property of his government, and sends me a request that I should not
admit you into mine, I will burn his father, and laugh at his beard. The
face of God’s world is open to every one, and if man is ill-treated in
one spot, he will take himself where better treatment is to be found.”
In short, we settled, and returned to our former habits and occupations.

‘As the prince had expected, so it happened. A very short time after
our arrival an officer from the pasha appeared at Kermanshah, bearing
a letter, making a formal demand, that my father, with the whole of
his tribe, should be sent back to his territory; and stating all the
circumstances relative to our flight. My father was called a thief, and
accused of having stolen a mare of immense value, which was described as
the pasha’s property. The animal was demanded to be instantly restored;
and in case it were not, threats were made that immediate reprisals on
Persian property should ensue. The whole of these circumstances were
made known to my father, and he was summoned forthwith to appear before
the prince.

‘Consternation seized us as soon as this intelligence was known amongst
us. It was evident that the pasha was determined to leave nothing
undone; to regain possession of the mare, and to ruin my father; nor
could it be supposed that a weak and poor tribe like ours was likely
to withstand the intrigues, bribes, and machinations of so powerful a
chief: besides, the possession of such a treasure would of itself be a
crime in the eyes of the Persians, and they would certainly endeavour to
get her from us, if not now, yet at some more favourable opportunity.
It would soon be known that many of us were Yezeedies, a circumstance
of itself sufficient to excite the hatred and execration of every good
sectary of Ali; and every probability existed, even supposing the mare
to be out of the question, that we should be a prey to every sort of
persecution as soon as time enough should have passed over our heads for
intrigue to have worked its effects.

‘Before my father left us to attend the Prince’s summons, he had given
secret orders that the mare should be put into some place of safety,
in case he should be obliged to deny that he possessed her; but on his
return we found that such a precaution was unnecessary. He had been
kindly received by the prince, who had assured him that he was resolved
not to accede to the pasha’s demands in any one case; that my father
might enjoy the possession of his mare, and depend upon protection
and security as long as he remained in his territory. His words were
something to this purpose: “Set your mind at ease, Okous Aga. As long as
you remain under our shade you may lay your head on your pillow in full
security. What does the pasha mean by claiming you and your tribe as the
subjects of his government? The gates of the palace of my father, the
Centre of the Universe and King of Kings, are open to every one, and as
soon as the stranger has touched the skirt of his robe he is safe.
You have sought our protection, and we should not be Mussulmans if we
refused it. Go, return to your tents, be happy, and leave the pasha to

‘This produced great rejoicings amongst us; and my father, to celebrate
his success, gave a feast to the chiefs and elders of the tribe, where
our present situation was fully discussed, and our plans for the future
taken into consideration. Every one present was elated with the success
that had attended our flight excepting one, and that was the old man,
my father’s uncle. He had seen much of the Persians, having served under
Nadir Shah when a youth, and nothing could induce him to put any faith
in the promises and fair words of the prince. “You do not know the
Persians,” said he, addressing himself to the assembly. “You have never
had any dealings with them, and therefore you permit yourselves to be
lulled into security by their flattering expressions and their winning
and amiable manners. But I have lived long with them; and have learned
the value of what they say. Their weapons are not such as you have been
accustomed to meet in the bold encounter, and the open attack: instead
of the sword and spear, theirs are treachery, deceit, falsehood; and
when you are the least prepared, you find yourselves caught as in a net;
ruin and desolation surround when you think that you are seated on a bed
of roses. Lying is their great, their national vice. Do not you remark
that they confirm every word by an oath? What is the use of oaths to men
who speak the truth? One man swears by your soul, and by his own head,
by your child, by the Prophet, by his relations and ancestors; another
swears by the _Kebleh_,[46] by the king, and by his beard; a third by
your death, by the salt he eats, by the death of Imâm Hosein. Do they
care for any one of these things? No, they feel all the time that they
lie, and then out comes the oath. Now in our case, is it to be supposed
that we shall be left unmolested, in the quiet possession of this mare,
which has brought so much misfortune already on our heads? The Persians
are more wild, if possible, on the subject of horses than the Turks,
and an Arabian mare in their sight is of greater value than diamonds and
rubies. Should the Shah hear of the one we possess, he will instantly
send for it, and what are we to do then? Shall we continue in arms
against all the world? No, my friends. You may think what you please;
but, for my part, I look upon your situation as precarious, and advise
you, as a general rule, not to put your trust in Persians, be they who
or what they may.”

‘The event proved to be precisely what the old man had predicted, and
was the cause of placing me where you now see me.

‘One morning, about an hour before the dawn of day, we heard an unusual
stir among the dogs of the camp; they did not cease to bark and make a
most furious noise. As we were accustomed to the attacks of wolves, who
were kept at bay by our dogs, we did not at first pay attention to the
disturbance; but at length my father and his sons arose, and, taking
their guns with them, went to see what could have happened. They had not
proceeded twenty steps before they saw a horseman, and then a second,
and shortly after several more; in short, they discovered that their
tents were surrounded. My father immediately gave the alarm, and
instantly all the camp was in motion. The horsemen rushed on my father,
and attempted to seize him; but he shot the first dead at his feet, and
with his sword wounded the second. The report of the gun, and the noise
of the fray, was a signal to the invaders for a general attack, and in a
short time our camp was entered at every corner. Their principal object
was evidently the mare; for the women’s tent was attacked first, and
there they instantly seized the object of their search.

‘As the day dawned, we observed that our invaders were Persians, and we
also soon discovered that they were acting from authority. My father had
unluckily killed their chief, and that was a sufficient reason for our
being made prisoners. Conceive our situation: it was a scene of misery
that I shall never forget. My father was treated with every indignity
before our eyes; our property was pillaged, and----’

Zeenab was proceeding to relate to me how she became the property of
Mirza Ahmak, when a loud knocking at the gate of the house was heard.
We both got up in great alarm. My fair one entreated me to take my
departure by the terrace, while she went to see who it might be. By
the voice, that was ordering the door to be opened, she recognized
the doctor himself, and trusting to her own ingenuity for giving good
reasons for the appearance of breakfast and good cheer, which he would
perceive, she forthwith unbarred the gate and admitted him.

From the terrace I could watch all that was going on. The doctor
appeared quite delighted to find Zeenab alone, and made her some
speeches so full of tenderness, that there was no mistaking how his
affections were placed. Looking into the window of his wife’s apartment,
he perceived the remains of the breakfast, and every appearance of the
room having been occupied. He was asking some questions concerning what
he saw, when in came the khanum herself, followed by her women. She
entered the house so unexpectedly, that she appeared before them ere
they could separate. I shall never forget her look and attitude at this

‘_Selam aleikum!_ peace be unto ye!’ said she, with mock respect, ‘I
am your very humble servant. I hope that the health of both your
excellencies is good, and that you have passed your time agreeably. I
have arrived too soon, I fear.’ Then the blood creeping into her face,
she very soon relinquished her raillery, and fell tooth and nail upon
the unhappy culprits.

And breakfast too--and in my room. _Mashallah! Mashallah!_ It is
understood, then, that I am become less than a dog; now that in my own
house, on my own carpet, on my very pillow, my slaves give up their
hearts to joy. _La Allah il Allah!_ There is but one God! I am all
astonishment! I am fallen from the heavens to the ground!’

Then addressing herself to her husband, she said, ‘As for you, Mirza
Ahmak, look at me, and tell me, by my soul, are you to be counted a
man amongst men? A doctor too, the Locman of his day, a sage, with that
monkey’s face, with that goat’s beard, with that humped back, to be
playing the lover, the swain! Curses attend such a beard!’ then putting
up her five fingers to his face, she said, ‘Poof! I spit on such a face.
Who am I, then, that you prefer an unclean slave to me? What have I
done, that you should treat me with such indignity? When you had nothing
but your prescriptions and your medicines in the world, I came, and
made a man of you. You are become something, thanks to me! You now stand
before a king: men bow the head to you. You wear a Cashmerian shawl: you
are become a person of substance. Say, then, oh, you less than man! what
is the meaning of all this?’

The doctor, during this attack upon him, was swearing abundance of
oaths, and making tell thousands of exclamations, in proof of his
innocence. Nothing, however, could stop the volubility of his wife,
or calm her rage. By this time she had worked her passion up to such a
pitch, that oath succeeded oath; and blasphemy blasphemy, in one raging,
unceasing torrent. From her husband she fell on Zeenab, and from Zeenab
she returned again to her husband, until she foamed at the mouth. She
was not satisfied with words alone, but seizing the wretched girl by
one of the long tresses which hung down her back, she pulled it till she
roared with pain; then, with the assistance of the other slaves, she
was thrown into the reservoir, where they beat and soused her until both
parties were nearly exhausted. Oh, how I burned to fly to her rescue! My
body was become like glowing fire. I could have drunk the blood of the
unfeeling wretches. But what could I do? Had I rushed into the harem,
death would have been my lot; for most probably they would have impaled
me on the spot; and what good would that have done to Zeenab? She would
have been even more cruelly treated than before, and the doctor’s wife
would not have been the less jealous. So when the storm had subsided,
I quietly stepped down from my hiding-place on the terrace, and walked
into the open country without the town, to consider upon the course
which I ought to pursue. To remain with the doctor was out of the
question; and: to expect to enjoy Zeenab’s company again was folly. My
heart bled, when I reflected what might be the fate of that poor girl;
for I had heard horrid stories of the iniquities performed in harems,
and there was no length to which such a demon as the khanum might not
go, with one so entirely in her power.

[Illustration: The khanum ill-treats Zeenab. 16.jpg]


Of the preparations made by the chief physician to receive the Shah as
his guest, and of the great expense which threatened him.

In my walk I had almost determined to quit the doctor’s house
immediately, and abandon Tehran, such was the desperate view I took of
my situation; but my love for Zeenab overcame this resolution; and
in the hope of seeing her again, I continued to drag on a miserable
existence as a dependent on Mirza Ahmak. He had no suspicion that I was
his rival, and that I had been the cause of the late confusion in his
harem; but he was aware that some one must have had access to it, and
therefore took such precautions for the future, that I found great
difficulty in discovering how it fared with my love, or what had been
the consequences of the anger of the khanum. I daily watched the door of
the anderûn, in the hope of seeing Zeenab in the suite of her mistress
when she went out, but in vain: there was no indication of her, and
my imagination made me apprehend either that she was kept in close
confinement, or that she had fallen a victim of the violence of her
enemies in the harem. My impatience had risen to the utmost, when I, one
day, perceived that Nûr Jehan,[47] the black slave, had issued from the
house by herself, and was making her way to the bazaar. I followed her,
and trusting to the friendship that she formerly entertained for the
mistress of my heart, I ventured to accost her.

‘Peace be with you, Nûr Jehan!’ said I; ‘where are you going in such
haste by yourself?’

‘May your kindness never be less, Aga Hajji[48], answered she; ‘I am
bound to the druggist’s for our Cûrdish slave.’

‘What! Zeenab?’ exclaimed I, in great agitation. ‘What has befallen her?
Is she sick?’

‘Ah, poor thing,’ replied the good negro girl, ‘she has been sick and
sorry too. You Persians are a wicked nation. We who are black, and
slaves, have twice the heart that you have. You may talk of your
hospitality, and of your kindness to strangers; but was there ever an
animal, not to say a human creature, treated in the way that this poor
stranger has been?’

‘What have they done to her? For God’s sake tell me, Nûr Jehan!’ said I;
‘by my soul, tell me!’

Softened by my manner, and by the interest which I took in what she
said, she informed me, that in consequence of the jealousy of her
mistress, Zeenab had been confined to a small back room, whence she
was prohibited stirring; that the treatment which she had received had
occasioned a violent fever, which had brought her to the brink of the
grave, but that her youth and strength had enabled her to overcome it:
and now that she was quite recovered, her mistress began to relent, and
had permitted her to use the _khena_ and the _surmeh_,[49] which she
was about to procure from the druggist. But she was sure that this
indulgence would never have been granted, if the report had not been
spread, that it was the Shah’s intention to pay Mirza Ahmak a visit; and
as it is his privilege to enter every man’s harem at pleasure, and to
inspect his women unveiled; her mistress, who wanted to make as great a
display of slaves and attendants as possible, had released Zeenab from
the confinement of her room, in order that she should wait upon her: but
she was still restricted to the walls of the secret chamber.

I was relieved by this intelligence, and began to turn in my mind how I
could manage to obtain an interview; but such insurmountable obstacles
did I foresee, that, fearful of entailing fresh miseries upon her, I
determined to remain quiet for the present, and to follow the poet’s
advice--‘to fold up the carpet of my desires, and not to prowl round
and round my inclination.’

In the meanwhile, the day of the Shah’s departure for his usual
summer campaign approached; and, according to custom, he passed the
intermediate time in visiting the noblemen of his court, and thereby
reaping for himself and his suite a harvest of presents, which every one
who is distinguished by so great an honour is obliged to make.

Nûr Jehan’s intelligence to me was true: the king had selected Mirza
Ahmak as one of those to whom he intended the honour of a visit; for the
doctor had the reputation of being rich, and he had long been marked as
prey fit for the royal grasp. Accordingly, he was informed of the day
when this new and special proof of favour would be conferred upon him;
and as a most distinguishing mark of it, he was told, that it should not
be an ordinary visit, but that the doctor should enjoy the satisfaction
of entertaining his majesty: in short, the king would take his
_shâm_,[50] or dinner, at his house.

The doctor, half elated with the greatness of the distinction, half
trembling at the ruin that awaited his finances, set to work to make all
the necessary preparations. The first thing to be settled was the value
and nature of the _pah-endaz_.[51] This he knew would be talked of
throughout the country; and this was to be the standard of the favour
in which he stood with his sovereign. His vanity was roused on the one
hand, and his avarice alarmed on the other. If he exhibited too much
wealth, he would remain a mark for future exactions; and if he made no
display, his rivals in consequence would treat him with contempt. He had
not deigned to consult me for along time, and I had dwindled into a
mere hanger-on; but recollecting the success which had attended my
negotiation with the European doctor, he called me again into his

‘Hajji,’ said he, ‘what is to be done in this difficult case? I have
received a hint, that the king expects from me a considerable pah-endaz,
and this from the lord high treasurer himself, whose magnificence on
such occasions is the theme of wonder throughout the whole of Persia.
Now, it is impossible that I can rival him. He insisted, that I ought
to spread broad cloth from the entrance of the street to where the king
alights from his horse; that there he should tread upon cloth of gold,
until he reached the entrance of the garden; and from thence, the whole
length of the court to his seat, a carpet of Cashmerian shawls was to
be extended, each shawl increasing in value, until the one upon the
_musnud_, or carpet of state, which should be of an extraordinary price.
Now, you know I am not the man to make such display: I am a _hakîm_, one
of the learned: I make no profession of riches. Besides, ’tis plain that
the lord high treasurer only says this, because he has cloth, brocades,
and shawls to dispose of, which he wishes me to take off his hands. No,
it is impossible that I can listen to his extravagant proposals. What
then is to be done?’

I answered, ‘’Tis true that you are a hakîm; but then you are the royal
physician; you hold a situation of great consequence: besides, for the
sake of the lady, your wife, you are bound to do something worthy of
such an alliance. The king will be displeased if you do not receive him
in a manner that will show your sense of the confidence he reposes in

‘Yes,’ said the Mirza, ‘and that may all be very true, friend Hajji;
still I am but a doctor, and cannot be supposed to have all these
shawls, brocades, and stuffs by me whenever I want them.’

‘But what can you do otherwise?’ replied I; ‘you would not strew the
road with jalap, and spread his majesty’s seat with a blister plaster?’

‘No,’ said he; ‘but we might strew flowers, which, you know, are cheap;
and perhaps we might sacrifice an ox, and break plenty of bottles full
of sweetmeats under his horse’s feet.[52]--Would not that answer?’

‘It is impossible,’ exclaimed I; ‘if you act thus, the Shah, and your
enemies, will devise means to strip you as naked as my hand. Perhaps
there is no necessity to do all the lord high treasurer advises; but you
might spread chintz in the street, velvet at the alighting spot,
brocade in the court yard, and shawls in the room; that will not be very

‘You do not say ill,’ said the doctor: ‘I might perhaps manage that. We
have chintz in the house, which was intended for the women’s trowsers;
that will probably do. A patient gave me a piece of Ispahan velvet the
other day; I can sell my last dress of honour for some brocade; and two
or three of my wife’s shawls will suffice for the room. By the blessing
of Ali, that is settled.’

‘Ah, but the harem,’ exclaimed I; ‘the Shah must go there. You know it
brings good luck to be looked at by the king, and your women must appear
well-dressed on the occasion.

‘Oh, as for that,’ said the doctor, ‘they can borrow; they can borrow
anything they like from their friends--jewels, trowsers, jackets,
shawls--they can get whatever they want.’

Not so, said my lady the khanum. As soon as this arrangement was
mentioned to her, she protested against it; she called her husband a low
born, niggardly carle; one unfit for the honour of possessing her for
a wife; and insisted upon his conducting himself on this occasion in
a manner worthy of the high distinction that was about to be conferred
upon him. It was in vain to contend against her; and therefore the
preparations were made upon a scale far exceeding what the doctor had
intended; and every individual of his house appeared to be actuated by
only one feeling, that of making him refund all that money which he so
long and so unpitifully had extorted from others.


Concerning the manner of the Shah’s reception; of the present made him,
and the conversation which ensued.

On the morning of the day upon which this great event was to happen (a
day which had been duly settled as auspicious by the astrologers) the
note of preparation was heard throughout the whole of Mirza Ahmak’s
dwelling. The king’s tent-pitchers had taken possession of the saloon
of audience in which he was to hold his court, where they spread
fresh carpets and prepared the royal musnud,[53] covering it with
a magnificent shawl. They threw water over the court yard, set the
fountains playing, and fitted on a new curtain to the front of the
building. The king’s gardeners also came and decked the premises with
flowers. On the surface of the pool of water, immediately facing the
spot where his majesty was to be seated, they spread rose leaves in
curious devices. Around the marble basin they placed rows of oranges,
and a general appearance of freshness and cheerfulness was given to the
whole scene.

Then the cooks, a numerous and most despotic band, arrived with such
accompaniments of pots, pans, braziers, and boilers, that the doctor,
out of all patience, inquired of the head of the kitchen, ‘what this
meant; whether it was intended that he should feed all the city, as well
as the king.’

‘Not quite all’ was his answer; ‘but perhaps you will recollect the
words of Saadi:

If from the peasant’s tree, the king an apple craves, Down with it root
and branch, exclaim his ready slaves; And should he, in dainty mood, one
single egg require, Lo! thousand spitted birds revolve before the fire.

They took possession of the kitchen, which did not contain one-quarter
of the space required for their operations, and consequently it was
necessary to erect temporary fire-places in the adjoining court, where
the braziers were placed, and in which was boiled the rice that is
distributed on such occasions to all present. Besides the cooks, a body
of confectioners established themselves in one of the apartments, where
the sweetmeats, the sherbets, the ices, and the fruits were prepared;
and they called for so many ingredients, that the doctor had nearly
expired when the list was presented to him. In addition to all these,
arrived the king’s band of singers and musicians, and the _Lûti Bashi_
(jester in chief) accompanied by twenty lûtis, each with a drum hanging
over his shoulder.

The time appointed for the visit was after the evening’s prayer, which
is made at sunset. At that hour, when the heat of the day had partly
subsided, and the inhabitants of Tehran were about to enjoy the cool
of the evening, the Shah left his palace, and proceeded to the doctor’s
house. The streets had been swept and watered; and as the royal cortége
approached, flowers were strewn on the path. Mirza Ahmak himself had
proceeded to the royal presence to announce that all was ready, and
walked close to the king’s stirrup during the cavalcade.

The procession was opened by the heralds, who, with the distinguishing
club of office in their hands, and ornament on the head, proclaimed the
king’s approach, and marshalled every one on the road. The tops of the
walls were occupied by women in their white veils, and in the better
houses they were seen to be peeping through the holes made in the
screens which surround their terraces. Then followed a great body of
tent-pitchers and carpet-spreaders, with long slender sticks in their
hands, keeping the road clear from intruders. After this, walked a crowd
of well-dressed officers of the stable, bearing rich embroidered saddle
housings over their shoulders; then servants in the gayest attire, with
gold pipes in their hands, the king’s shoe bearer, the king’s ewer and
basin bearer, the carrier of his cloak, the comptroller of the opium
box, and a number of other domestics. As this was only a private
procession, his majesty was preceded by no led horses, which usually
form so splendid a part of his grand displays. To these succeeded a
train of running footmen, two and two, fantastically dressed, some with
gold coins embroidered on their black velvet coats, others dressed in
brocades, and others in silks: they immediately preceded the Shah in
person, who was attended by the chief of the running footmen, a man of
considerable consequence, known by the enamelled handled whip stuck in
his girdle. The king rode a quiet ambling horse, richly caparisoned;
but his own dress was plain, and only distinguished by the beauty of the
shawls and other materials of which it was composed. After him, at an
interval of fifty paces, followed three of the king’s sons, then the
noble of nobles, the great master of the ceremonies, the master of the
horse, the court poet, and many others, all attended by their servants:
and at length when the whole party were collected together, who were
to partake of Mirza Ahmak’s substance, five hundred would probably be
called a moderate number.

The king alighted at the gate, the entrance being too narrow to ride
through; and proceeded up the centre walk of the court to the seat
prepared for him in the great saloon. Every one, except the princes,
stood without, and the doctor himself did the duties of a menial.

After his majesty had been seated some little time, the master of
ceremonies, accompanied by the master of the house, walking barefooted,
appeared near the reservoir, the latter holding up breast high a silver
salver, in which were spread one hundred tomauns of new coinage. The
master, of ceremonies then exclaimed, in a loud voice, ‘The meanest of
your majesty’s slaves makes a humble representation to the Centre of the
Universe, the King of Kings, the Shadow of God upon earth, that Mirza
Ahmak, the king’s chief physician, dares to approach the sacred dust of
your majesty’s feet, and to bring by way of an offering one hundred gold

To which the king answered, ‘You are welcome, Mirza Ahmak. Praise be
to God, you are a good servant. The Shah has a particular share of
condescension for you; your face is whitened, your consequence has
increased, Go, give praises to God, that the king has come to your
house, and has accepted your present.’

Upon which the doctor knelt down and kissed the ground.

Then his majesty, turning to his noble of nobles, exclaimed, ‘By the
head of the Shah, Mirza Ahmak is a good man. There is no one like him
now in Persia--he is wiser by far than Locman--more learned than Galen.’

‘Yes, yes,’ answered the noble of nobles; ‘Locman indeed! whose dog was
he, or Galen? This also comes from the happy star of the King of Kings.
Such a king Persia before never saw, and such a doctor for such a king!
Men may praise the doctors of Europe and of India, but where is
science to be found, if it be not in Persia?--Who shall dare to claim
a superiority, as long as the land of Persia is enlightened by the
presence of its Shah without compare?’

‘That’s all true,’ said the king. ‘Persia is the country which, from the
beginning of the world to the present day, has always been famous for
the genius of its inhabitants, and the wisdom and splendour of its
monarchs. From Kaiumars, the first king of the world, to me who am the
present Shah, what list is so perfect, so glorious? India also had her
sovereigns, Arabia her caliphs, Turkey her _Khon Khors_ (lit. blood
drinkers), Tartary her khans, and China her emperors; but as for the
Franks, who come into my dominions from God knows where, to buy and
sell, and to bring me tribute of presents,--they, poor infidels! have a
parcel of kings, of whose countries even the names have not reached our

‘_Belli, belli,_ Yes, yes!’ said the nobleman, ‘I am your sacrifice.
Except the English and the French nations, which by all accounts are
something in the world, all others are but little better than nothing.
As for Moscovites, they are not Europeans--they are less than the dogs
of Europe.’

‘Ha! ha! ha! you say true’, answered the king, laughing. ‘They had their
_Khûrshîd Colah_,[54] their ‘Head of Glory’ as they called her, who for
a woman was a wonderful person, ’tis true--and we all know that when
a woman meddles with anything, _pena be khoda_, it is then time to
put one’s trust in God; but after her, they had a Paul, who was a pure
madman; who, to give you an instance of what his folly was, wanted to
march an army to India; just as if the _Kizzil Bashes_[55] would ever
have allowed it. A Russian puts on a hat, a tight coat, and tight
breeches, shaves his beard, and then calls himself a European. You might
just as well tie the wings of a goose to your back and call yourself an

‘Wonderful, wonderful,’ exclaimed the head of the nobles; ‘the
Shah-in-Shah speaks like an angel. Show us a king in Europe that would
speak like him.’

‘Yes, yes,’ was chorused by all the bystanders.

‘May he live a thousand years,’ said one.

‘May his shadow never be less,’ said another.

‘But it is of their women,’ continued the king, ‘of whom we hear
the most extraordinary accounts. In the first place, they have no
_anderûn_[56] in their houses; men and women all live together; then the
women never wear veils--they show their faces to whoever chooses to look
at them, like those of our wandering tribes. Tell me, Mirza Ahmak, you
that are a doctor and a philosopher, by what extraordinary arrangement
of providence does it happen, that we Mussulmans should be the only
people on earth who can depend upon our wives, and who can keep them in
subjection. You,’ said his majesty, smiling ironically, ‘you I hear are
blessed above all men in an obedient and dutiful wife.’

‘Possessed of the kindness and protection of the King of Kings,’
answered the doctor, ‘I am blessed with everything that can make life
happy. I, my wife, my family, are your humble slaves, and everything
we have your property. If your slave possesses any merit, it is none
of his; it all emanates from the asylum of the world: even my failings
become virtues, when the king commands me. “But what lamp can shine in
the face of, the sun, or what minaret can be called high at the foot
of the mountain of Alwend?” With respect to what your majesty has been
pleased to say concerning women, it appears to the meanest of your
slaves, that there must be a great affinity between beasts and
Europeans, and which accounts for the inferiority of the latter to
Mussulmans. Male and female beasts herd promiscuously together; so do
the Europeans. The female beasts do not hide their faces; neither do the
Europeans. They wash not, nor do they pray five times a day; neither do
the Europeans. They live in friendship with swine; so do the Europeans;
for instead of exterminating the unclean beast, as we do, I hear that
every house in Europe has an apartment fitted up for its hog. Then as
for their women indeed! What dog seeing its female in the streets does
not go and make himself agreeable? so doubtless does the European. Wife
in those unclean countries must be a word without a meaning, since every
man’s wife is every man’s property.

‘Well said, doctor,’ exclaimed the king; ‘’tis plain, then, that all are
beasts but us. Our holy Prophet (upon whom be blessing and peace!) has
told us as much. The infidel will never cease roasting, whilst the
true believer will be eternally seated next to his houri in the seventh
heaven! But we hear, doctor, that your Paradise has begun here on earth,
and that you have got your houris already. Ah! how is that?’

Upon which Mirza Ahmak made a low prostration, and said, ‘Whatever the
monarch permits his slave to possess is the monarch’s. The hour will
be fortunate, and Mirza Ahmak’s head will reach the skies, when the
propitious step of the King of Kings shall pass the threshold of his
unworthy anderûn.’

‘We shall see with our own eyes,’ rejoined the king; ‘a look from the
king brings good luck. Go, give notice to your harem that the Shah
will visit it; and if there be any one sick, any one whose desires are
unaccomplished, any maiden who sighs for her lover, or any wife who
wishes to get rid of her husband, let them come forward, let them look
at the king, and good fortune will attend them.’

Upon this the poet, who had hitherto remained silent, his mind
apparently absorbed in thought, exclaimed, ‘Whatever the king
hath ordained is only an additional proof of his beneficence and
condescension’; and then in very good verse he sung--

The firmament possesses but one sun, and the land of Irâk but one king.

Life, light, joy, and prosperity attend them both wherever they appear.

The doctor may boast of his medicine; but what medicine is equal to a
glance from the king’s eye?

What is spikenard? what _mumiai_? what _pahzer_?[57] compared even to
the twinkle of a royal eyelash!

Oh! Mirza Ahmak, happiest of men, and most blessed of doctors!

Now, indeed, you possess within your walls an antidote to every
disorder, a specific against every evil.

Shut up your Galen, burn your Hippocrates, and put Avicenna in a corner:
the father of them all is here in person.

Who will take cassia when an eye is to be had, or will writhe under a
blister when a look will relieve him?

Oh! Mirza Ahmak, happiest of men, and most blessed of doctors!

Every one present had kept the strictest silence when this was
repeating, when the king exclaimed, ‘_Aferîn_, this is well; you are
indeed a poet, and worthy of our reign. Who was Ferdousi when compared
to you? As for Mahmoud, the Ghaznevi, _hâk bûd_ (he was dirt). Go to
him,’ said he to the noble of nobles, ‘go, kiss him on the mouth, and,
when that is done, fill it with sugar-candy. Every pleasure should
attend such a mouth, from whence such good things proceed.’

Upon which the noble of nobles, who was endowed with a large and bushy
beard, approached the poet, and inflicted a kiss upon his mouth, which
also was protected by an appropriate quantity of hair; and then from a
plate of sugar-candy, which was handed to him, he took as many lumps as
would quite fill his jaws, and inserted them therein with his fingers
with all due form.

Though evidently distressed with his felicity, the poet did his utmost
to appear at the summit of all happiness, and grinned with such rare
contortions, that involuntary tears flowed from his eyes as fast as the
sugar-candy distilled through his lips.

The king then dismissed his courtiers and attendants, and preparations
were made for serving up the royal dinner.

[Illustration: The procession of slaves before the Shah. 17.jpg.]


A description of the entertainment, which is followed by an event
destructive to Hajji Baba’s happiness.

The only persons, besides servants, admitted into the saloon where the
Shah dined, were the three princes, his sons, who had accompanied him;
and they stood at the farthest end, with their backs against the wall,
attired in dresses of ceremony, with swords by their sides. Mirza Ahmak
remained in attendance without. A cloth, of the finest Cashmerian shawl
fringed with gold, was then spread on the carpet before the king, by
the chief of the valets, and a gold ewer and basin were presented
for washing hands. The dinner was then brought in trays which, as a
precaution against poison, had been sealed with the signet of the head
steward before they left the kitchen, and were broken open by him again
in the presence of the Shah. Here were displayed all the refinements
of cookery. Rice, in various shapes, smoked upon the board; first the
_chilau_, as white as snow; then the _pilau_, with a piece of boiled
lamb smothered in the rice; then another pilau, with a baked fowl in it;
a fourth coloured with saffron, mixed up with dried peas; and at length,
the king of Persian dishes, the _narinj pilau_, made with slips of
orange-peel, spices of all sorts, almonds, and sugar: salmon and
herring, from the Caspian Sea, were seen among the dishes; and trout
from the river Zengî, near Erivan; then in china basins and bowls of
different sizes were the ragouts, which consisted of hash made of a fowl
boiled to rags, stewed up with rice, sweet herbs, and onions; a stew,
in which was a lamb’s marrow-bone, with some loose flesh about it, and
boiled in its own juice; small gourds, crammed with force-meat, and done
in butter; a fowl stewed to rags, with a brown sauce of prunes; a large
omelette, about two inches thick; a cup full of the essence of meat,
mixed up with rags of lamb, almonds, prunes, and tamarinds, which was
poured upon the top of the chilau; a plate of poached eggs, fried in
sugar and butter; a dish of _badenjáns_, slit in the middle and boiled
in grease; a stew of venison; and a great variety of other messes too
numerous to mention. After these came the roasts. A lamb was served up
hot from the spit, the tail of which, like marrow, was curled up over
its back. Partridges, and what is looked upon as the rarest delicacy in
Persia, two _capk dereh_, partridges of the valley, were procured on the
occasion. Pheasants from Mazanderan were there also, as well as some
of the choicest bits of the wild ass and antelope. The display and the
abundance of delicacies surprised every one; and they were piled up in
such profusion around the king, that he seemed almost to form a part
of the heap. I do not mention the innumerable little accessories of
preserves, pickles, cheese, butter, onions, celery, salt, pepper,
sweets, and sours, which were to be found in different parts of the
tray, for that would be tedious: but the sherbets were worthy of notice,
from their peculiar delicacy: these were contained in immense bowls
of the most costly china, and drank by the help of spoons of the most
exquisite workmanship, made of the pear-tree. They consisted of the
common lemonade, made with superior art; of the _sekenjebîn_, or
vinegar, sugar, and water, so mixed that the sour and the sweet, were as
equally balanced as the blessings and miseries of life; the sherbet of
sugar and water, with rose-water to give it a perfume, and sweet seeds
to increase its flavour; and that made of the pomegranate; all highly
cooled by lumps of floating ice.

The king then, doubling himself down with his head reclining towards his
food, buried his hand in the pilaus and other dishes before him, and ate
in silence, whilst the princes and the servants in waiting, in attitudes
of respect, remained immovable. When he had finished he got up, and
walked into an adjoining room, where he washed his hands, drank his
coffee, and smoked his water-pipe.

In the course of his eating he ordered one of the pilaus, of which he
had partaken, to be carried to Mirza Ahmak, his host, by a servant in
waiting. As this is considered a mark of peculiar honour, the mirza was
obliged to give a present in money to the bearer. A similar distinction
was conferred upon the poet for his impromptu, and he also made a
suitable present. His majesty also sent one of the messes, of which he
had freely partaken, to the doctor’s wife, who liberally rewarded the
bearer. And in this manner he contrived to reward two persons, the one
who received the present, and the other who bore it.

The princes then sat down, and when they had eat their fill they rose,
and the dishes were served up in another room, where the noble of
nobles, the court poet, the master of the horse, and all the officers of
state and courtiers who had attended his majesty, were seated, and who
continued the feast which the king and his sons had begun. After this,
the dinner was taken in succession to the different servants, until the
dishes were cleared by the tent-pitchers and scullions.

In the meanwhile the Shah had been introduced into the harem by the
doctor in person; and as immediate death would have been inflicted upon
any one who might have been caught peeping, I waited in the greatest
suspense until I could learn what might have taken place there; but what
was my horror! what my consternation! on hearing (as soon as the king
had returned to the great saloon) that the doctor had made a present of
his Cûrdish slave to his majesty! At this intelligence I grew sick with
apprehension; and, although there was every reason to rejoice at her
leaving her present situation, yet there were consequences which
I anticipated--consequences which might even ultimately affect her
life,--at the very thought of which my blood ran cold. We had been too
much enamoured to listen to the dictates of prudence, and now the future
opened a prospect to me, the background of which was darkened by images
the most horrible that the imagination can conceive.

‘I will endeavour,’ thought I, to gain some certain intelligence of what
has happened; perhaps in the confusion, I may chance to get a sight
of Zeenab herself.’ I lost no time, therefore, in resorting to our old
place of meeting on the terrace. Much noise and clatter were heard below
amongst the women, a large number having come as visitors, in addition
to those which composed the doctor’s harem; but I could perceive no one
amongst them that looked at all like her I sought; indeed, the night had
closed in, and I despaired of making any sign which might be recognized;
but, trusting to the sympathies of love, I thought it certain that she
would hit upon precisely the same plan which I had devised to see
her. Part of the terrace where our first interview had taken place was
situated near the street, and upon this the women of the harem were
accustomed to take their station whenever anything remarkable was to be
seen abroad. Here I hoped Zeenab would not fail to come at the moment
of the Shah’s departure, which was now close at hand. The clatter of
the horses, the shouts of men, the passing to and fro of lanterns,
all announced the close of the scene; and to my delight I heard a
corresponding shuffling of women’s slippers and voices making for the
steps of the terrace. I had placed myself behind the wall, so as to be
seen by those only who had a knowledge of the premises, and I flattered
myself that Zeenab, by a natural impulse, would turn her eyes towards
me. I was not mistaken. She was among the women who had ascended the
terrace, and she recognized me. That was all I wanted, and I left it to
her ingenuity to devise a mode of conversing with me.

The cry of _Gitchin!_ Begone! made by the heralds whenever the king
rises to depart, was now heard, and every one arranged himself in the
procession. With the exception of the numerous lanterns; which by their
size announced the dignity of the different personages whose steps they
lighted, the ceremony of the king’s return to his palace was the same as
on his leaving it, and with his majesty departed all that had a moment
before given life and animation to the place.

The women, satisfied that nothing more was to be seen, also left
the terrace. Their conversation, during the time of their stay, had
consisted almost entirely of disputes of who had been most seen and
admired by the Shah; and, as they were descending, I overheard great
expressions of envy and jealousy at the good fortune which, in their
eyes, had fallen to the share of Zeenab.

‘I can’t conceive,’ said one, ‘what the Shah could have seen so
attractive in her. After all, she has no beauty. Did you ever see so
large a mouth? She has no salt in her complexion.’[58]

‘She is crooked,’ said another.

‘As for her waist,’ said a third, ‘’tis like that of an elephant; and
then her feet--a camel has smaller.’

‘And then,’ said a fourth, ‘she is a Yezeedi. She must have got a charm
from the shaitan himself, to make herself remarked.’

‘That is the truth,’ they all exclaimed. ‘Yes, that’s it--she and the
devil are in partnership to make the king eat dirt.’ Upon this they all
seemed satisfied, and I heard no more of them.

But one woman still remained behind on the terrace, apparently engrossed
with what was passing on in the street; she immediately rose when the
others had left it, and came towards me. It was Zeenab.


Hajji Baba meets with a rival in the Shah himself, and loses the fair
object of his affections.

The wall behind which I had taken post was not long a barrier between
us, and I had scarcely made known to her the unhappy state of my
mind, before she apprised me of the danger that we incurred in such an
interview. She soon gave me to understand that this must be our last
meeting; for, as she now belonged to the royal harem, death would be our
fate if we were found together. I was anxious to hear in what manner
the king had gained possession of her, and what was to be her future
destiny; but sobs stifled everything I had to say. She, on the other
hand, did not appear to take our separation quite so much to heart; for,
whether dazzled by the prospect of her future destinies, or subdued by
the miseries she had already endured on my account, certainly I did not
meet that return to my affection which I had so warmly anticipated.

She informed me, that when the Shah entered the anderûn, he was received
by a band of female singers, who went before, singing his praises, to
the accompaniment of tambourines; and, as soon as he had seated himself
in the open saloon, the khanum was permitted to enjoy the privilege of
kissing his knee. A _pah-endaz_, composed of embroidered silks, had been
spread for him, which, as soon as the royal footsteps had passed over,
was snapped up by the eunuchs, who shared it as their perquisite. The
king’s female master of the ceremonies was in attendance, and she made
an offering of the khanum’s present, which was laid out on a silver
tray, and consisted of six _arac gîrs_, or skull caps, embroidered
by that lady’s own hands; six _sineh gîrs_, or breast covers, made of
padded shawl, worn in cold weather over the shirt; two pairs of trousers
of Cashmerian shawl; three silk shirts, and six pairs of stockings,
knitted by the women of the doctor’s house. His majesty having accepted
this, with many encomiums on the khanum’s industry and skill, the women
were marshalled in two lines on each side of him; ‘and I,’ said Zeenab,
‘in order that every mortification possible might be heaped upon me, was
placed the last in the row, even below Nûr Jehan, the black slave. You
ought to have seen the pains which all of us, even old Leilah, took to
attract the Shah’s attention: some were bashful, others stole wicked
looks and glanced sideways; others, again, were bold, and kept their
eyes fixed on the king’s face. Having inspected each in turn, he paused,
and keeping his eyes riveted upon me, turned to the doctor, and said,
“What sort of thing is this? she is no indifferent commodity. By the
king’s _jika_,[59] the animal is fine! Doctor, mashallah! you have a
good taste--the moon face, the stag eye, the cypress waist, everything
is here.”

‘Upon which the doctor, making the lowest obeisance, said, “May I be
your sacrifice, notwithstanding the slave is totally unworthy of notice;
yet, since I and everything that belongs to me is the property of the
King of Kings, may I venture to place her as an offering at the foot of
your majesty’s throne?”

‘“_Caboul!_ I accept her,” said the Shah; and then calling the chief
eunuch to him, he ordered that I should be educated for a _baziger_
(dancer or singer), that all my clothes, &c., should be made suited to
my future profession, and that I should be ready accomplished to appear
before him upon his return from his summer campaign.

‘Oh! I shall never forget,’ exclaimed Zeenab, ‘the looks of the doctor’s
wife when this conversation was passing; she turned towards the Shah in
great humility, acquiescing in all that was said, and then cast glances
upon me, which spoke the thousand angry passions by which her breast was
agitated. As for the Georgian, she looked daggers and arsenic, whilst
Nûr Jehan’s good-humoured face was lightened up with every expression of
happiness at my good fortune. I, in the meanwhile, prostrated myself
to the ground before the king, who still kept surveying me with a kind

‘As soon as his majesty was gone, you ought to have seen the immediate
change which took place in the khanum’s conduct towards me. I was no
longer “a child of the devil”, “a maiden accursed”; but it was “my love,
my soul, light of my eyes, my child”. I, who had never smoked before
her, was now invited to partake of her own pipe; and whether I would or
not, she thrust bits of sweetmeat into my mouth with her own fingers. As
for the Georgian, she could not stand the sight, but withdrew to another
place, to digest her envy as she might. I received the congratulations
of the other women, who did not cease repeating a long list of delights
that were preparing for me. Love, wine, music, jewels, fine clothes,
bathing, and standing before the king, were to be my future occupations.
Some talked to me of the best spells to secure love, and to destroy the
influence of rivals; others gave me the best advice how to get presents
of finery; and many again began to teach me the forms of speech and
compliment which I must use in case the Shah spoke to me. In short,
poor Zeenab, the most miserable and neglected of human beings, all of a
sudden found herself the object of universal attention and admiration.’

Zeenab here finished talking, and the joy which she seemed to feel
for the change which was about to take place in her situation was
so natural, that I could not find in my heart to destroy it by
communicating to her my forebodings of the danger which awaited her. She
little knew the horrible penalty she would incur, in case, when called
upon to attend the Shah, she should be found unworthy of his attentions;
for it was upon record, under such circumstances, that death, a horrid,
cruel death, had been inflicted, and that without appeal to any tribunal
upon earth. I therefore seemed to partake her happiness, and although
we felt we must be separated yet we were consoled with the hope that
opportunities of mutual intelligence would not be wanting.

She told me that one of the king’s eunuchs was to call on the following
morning, to conduct her to the seraglio, and, when bathed and newly
dressed, she was to be delivered over to the department of the bazigers,
when her education was immediately to commence.

Hearing her name repeatedly called, she was afraid of risking herself
longer with me, and after ten thousands and thousands protestations of
mutual love, we parted, perhaps to meet no more.


His reflections on the loss of Zeenab--He is suddenly called upon to
exert his skill as a doctor.

As soon as she was gone I sat down on the same spot where we had been
standing, and gave myself up to thought. ‘So,’ said I to myself, ‘so,
this is being two kernels in one almond? Well, if such be the world,
then what I have been taken up with for these two last months is only a
dream. I thought myself a Majnoun, and she a Leilah, and as long as
the sun and moon endured we should go on loving, and getting thin, and
burning like charcoal, and making _kabob_[60] of our hearts. But ’tis
clear that my beard has been laughed at. The Shah came, looked, said two
words, and all was over. Hajji was forgotten in an instant, and Zeenab
took upon herself the airs of royalty.’

I passed a feverish night, and rose early in the morning, full of new
projects. In order to reflect more at my ease, I determined to take a
walk without the city walls, but just as I had stepped from the house,
I met Zeenab mounted on a horse, finely caparisoned, conducted by one of
the royal eunuchs, and escorted by servants making way for her to pass.
I expected, that at the sight of me she would have lifted up the flap
of her veil; but no, she did not even move from her perpendicular on the
saddle, and I walked on, more determined than ever to drive her from
my recollection. But somehow or other, instead of taking my path to the
gate of the city, I followed her, and was led on imperceptibly towards
the king’s palace.

Entering the great square, which is situated immediately before the
principal gate, I found it filled with cavalry, passing muster, or the
_soum_, as it is called, before the Shah in person, who was seated in
the upper room over the porch. I lost Zeenab and her conductor in the
crowd, who were permitted to pass, whilst I was kept back by the guards.
The current of my thoughts was soon arrested by the scene carrying
on before me. The troops now under examination consisted of a body of
cavalry under the command of Namerd Khan, the chief executioner, who was
present, dressed in cloth of gold, with the enamelled ornament on his
head glittering in the sun, and mounted upon a superb charger. The
review was quite new to me; and as I gazed upon the horses and the
horsemen, the spears and the muskets, the days which I had passed
among the Turcomans came again to my mind, and I longed once more to be
engaged in active life. The troops to be reviewed were stationed on
one side of the square. The secretary at war with his six scribes were
placed in the middle, taken up with their different registers: two
criers were also present, the one who, with a loud voice, called out the
name of the soldier, and the other answering _hazir_ (present) as
soon as he had passed muster. Whenever a name was called, a cavalier,
completely equipped, dashed from the condensed body, and crossed the
square at the full speed of his horse, making a low obeisance as he
passed the Shah; and this ceremony was performed by each man until
the whole were reviewed. Many and various were the appearance of the
horsemen. Some came forwards in fine style, looking like Rustams, whilst
others, who had perhaps borrowed a beast for the occasion, went hobbling
through as if the day of battle had already taken place. I recognized
many of my acquaintance as they galloped by, and was admiring the
animated manner of a young man, who had urged his horse forwards, when,
by some fatal accident, the beast fell just as they were about passing
the high pole which is erected in the middle of the course, and its
rider was thrown with great violence against the foot of it. He
was immediately taken up and carried through the crowd. Some one,
recognizing me to belong to the Shah’s physician, invited me to take
charge of him, and, without the least apprehension from my ignorance, I
did not hesitate to put on the airs of a doctor. I found the unfortunate
man stretched on the ground, apparently without life. Those who
surrounded him had already prescribed largely. One was pouring water
down his throat, ‘in the name of the blessed Hossien’; another was
smoking a pipe up his nose in order to awaken him; and a third was
kneading his body and limbs, to promote circulation. As soon as I
appeared, these different operations were suspended, and, room being
made, I felt his pulse with great solemnity, and as the surrounding
uplifted faces seemed to solicit a decision, I declared, with emphasis,
that he had been struck by fate, and that life and death were now
wrestling with each other who should have him. Thus (according to the
practice of my master) having prepared my hearers for the worst, I
ordered, as a preliminary to other remedies, that the patient should
be well shaken, in order to discover if life was in him or no. No
prescription was ever better administered, for the crowd almost shook
him to dislocation. This had no effect. I was about prescribing again,
when a cry was heard in the crowd, _Rah bedeh_, give way: _Ser hisab_,
heads, heads! and the Frank doctor (of whose skill I have before given
some account) made his appearance, having been sent by his ambassador,
who had witnessed the catastrophe. Without having seen the patient, he
cried out, ‘Take blood instantly! you must not lose a moment.’

I, who now felt myself called upon to assert the dignity of the Persian
faculty, and give proofs of my superior wisdom, said, ‘Take blood! what
doctrine is this? Do not you know that death is cold, and that blood is
hot, and that the first principle of the art is to apply warm remedies
to cold diseases? Pocrat,[61] who is the father of all doctors, has thus
ordained, and surely you cannot say that he eats his own soil. If you
take blood from that body, it dies; and go tell the world that I say

‘As for that,’ said the Frank, who had now examined it, ‘we may save
ourselves any further trouble: it is dead already, and hot and cold are
now all one.’ Upon this he took his leave, and left me and my Pocrat
with our noses in the air.

‘Then death,’ said I, ‘has had the best of it; the wisdom of man is
unavailing, when opposed to the decrees of God. We doctors can no more
contend with destiny, than the waters of an aqueduct can overcome those
of a river.’

A Mollah, who was present, ordered his feet to be turned towards the
Kebleh, his two great toes to be tied together, a handkerchief wrapped
under his chin, and fastened over his head, and then all the bystanders
after him repeated aloud the profession of the true faith. By this time
some of his relatives had gathered round him, and had begun the usual
lamentations, when the bier was brought, and the dead body conveyed to
his family.

Upon inquiry I found that the deceased had been a _nasakchi_, i.e. one
of the officers attached to the chief executioner, who has one hundred
and fifty such under his command, and whose duties consist in preceding
the Shah in his marches, dispersing crowds, maintaining order, taking
charge of state prisoners, and, in short, acting as police officers
throughout the country. It immediately struck me, how agreeable and how
convenient it would be to step into the dead man’s shoes, and how much
better my temper and disposition were suited to filling such an office
than mixing drugs and visiting the sick. In turning over in my mind the
possibility of acquiring this situation, I recollected that the chief
executioner was a great friend of Mirza Ahmak, and under considerable
obligations to him; for, but a few days since, he had persuaded the
doctor to swear to the Shah, that wine, which is strictly prohibited at
court, was absolutely necessary for his health, and that in consequence
he had received a dispensation from the head of the law to drink it,--a
privilege in which he indulged to the greatest excess. I therefore
determined to interest the mirza in my favour, and if possible, to turn
the waters of bitterness, which the fountain of fate had been pouring
into the cup of the deceased, into streams of sweet sherbet for myself.


Hajji is appointed to a situation under government--He becomes an

I watched an opportunity before the doctor set out the next morning for
the _Der-Khoneh_,[62] to speak upon my future plans, and to request him
to lose no time in asking for me the place of the deceased nasakchi from
the chief executioner. I urged the necessity of acting immediately; for
as the Shah would leave the capital for his camp at Sultanieh, in
the course of a few days, and as the doctor would be called upon to
accompany him, it was plain, if he did not in some manner provide for
me, I should be left upon his hands.

The doctor, who was still calculating the expenses of his entertainment
to the Shah, and had resolved upon adopting a system of more rigid
economy in his household, was not sorry to lose a hungry hanger-on, and
without hesitation he promised to assist me. It was agreed between us,
that he would forthwith call upon the chief executioner, and appointed
me to meet him at court, after the morning’s _selam_ (levee) was over.
As soon, therefore, as the mid-day prayer had been announced from the
mosque, I went to the palace, and took my station without the room
which is appropriated for the use of the head executioner, and which is
situated with its large window immediately facing the principal gate.
Several persons were collected there. He himself was taken up with
saying his prayers in a corner, and apparently completely abstracted
from a conversation that was carrying on between my friend the poet
laureate and the under-master of ceremonies.

The latter was describing to the former the death of the unfortunate
nasakchi, and was mixing a considerable portion of the marvellous in his
narrative, when the chief executioner, from the middle of his devotions,
cried out, ‘_Een derough est,_’--‘that’s a lie--have patience, and I
will tell you how it was,’ and then went on with his holy invocations.
As soon as they were over, and almost before he had finished his last
prostration, he began his story, relating the fact with infinitely more
exaggeration than the master of the ceremonies had done, and finishing
by a round assertion, that the Frank had bled the poor man to death,
after the Persian doctor had brought him to life only by shaking

During the chief executioner’s narration, Mirza Ahmak entered the room,
and far from denying what was asserted of the two doctors, he confirmed
it the more by new and stronger circumstances, and then finished
by pointing to me, and said, ‘This is he who would have saved the
nasakchi’s life, if he had not been prevented.’ Upon this, the eyes of
all present were turned upon me, and I was called upon to relate the
whole circumstance as it had happened, which I did, making my version
coincide as nearly as possible with what had been already related; but
giving all the merit of the science which I had displayed to the tuition
of the chief physician. Mirza Ahmak, elated by my praise, was full of
zeal to serve me, and he then introduced me to the chief executioner as
a man fit and willing to undertake the office of the deceased nasakchi.

‘How!’ said the head of the nasakchies, ‘a doctor become an executioner!
how can that be?’

‘There is no harm in that,’ said the poet (looking at the doctor through
the corner of his eye)--‘they are both in the same line--the one does
his business with more certainty than the other, that’s true; but after
all, it signifies little whether a man dies gradually by a pill, or at
once by a stroke of the scimitar.’

‘As for that,’ retorted Mirza Ahmak, ‘to judge of others by you,
poets are in the same line too; for they murder men’s reputations; and
everybody will agree with me, that that is a worse sort of killing than
the doctor’s (as you were pleased to say), or the nasakchi’s.’

‘That’s all very well,’ exclaimed the chief executioner; ‘you may kill
in any manner you choose, provided you leave me the soldier’s manner.
Give me good hard fighting--let me have my thrust with the lance, and my
cut with the sabre, and I want nothing more--let me snuff up the smell
of gunpowder, and I leave the scent of the rose to you, Mr. Poet--give
me but the roar of cannon, and I shall never envy you the song of the
nightingale. We all have our weaknesses--these are mine.’

‘Yes,’ said the master of the ceremonies, addressing himself to
the whole assembly: ‘Everybody knows your several merits. The Shah
particularly (who by the by has studied the art of killing as well
as any of you) is frequently expressing his delight, that of all the
monarchs which Persia ever had, he is the best served; and with that
feeling he talks of carrying his arms into the very heart of Georgia.
If the Russians once hear that you are going amongst them,’ addressing
himself to the chief executioner, ‘they may begin to make their accounts
clear in this world, and prepare for the next.’

‘What are the Russians?’ said the executioner, with half a shrug and
half a shiver; ‘they are dust--they are nothing--the possession of
Georgia by the Russians is to Persia what a flea which has got into
my shirt is to me: it teazes me now and then, but if I gave myself
the least trouble, I would hunt it out in a minute. The Russians are
nothing.’ Then, as if he were anxious to waive the subject, he turned to
me, and said: ‘Well, I agree to take you into the service, provided you
are as fond of the smell of powder as I am. A nasakchi must have the
strength of a Rustam, the heart of a lion, and the activity of a
tiger.’ Then looking at me from head to foot, he seemed pleased with my
appearance, and forthwith ordered me to go to his _naib_, or lieutenant,
who would equip me for my office, and give me instructions respecting
all the duties I should have to perform.

I found the Naib to be in the midst of preparations for the departure
of the Shah, giving his orders, and receiving the reports of those under
his command. As soon as he was informed that I was the man appointed to
succeed the deceased officer, he put me in possession of his horse and
its accoutrements, gave me strict injunctions to take the greatest care
of it, and informed me that I could not be provided with another unless
I brought back its tail and the mark peculiar to the royal horses, which
is burnt on its flank. My stipend was fixed at thirty tomauns per annum,
with food for myself and horse. I found myself in dress and arms, except
a small hatchet, which indicated my office and was provided by the

But before I proceed further, it is necessary that I make my reader
acquainted with the person and character of Namerd Khan, my new master.
He was a tall, square-shouldered, bony man, about forty-five years of
age--young enough to be still called a _khûb jûan_ (a fine youth). The
features of his face were cast in a deep mould, and shaded by black and
thick eyebrows, as well as by a jet black beard and moustachios. His
hand was particularly large and muscular; and from the black hairs that
curled out from the crevices of his shirt, it was evident that his fur
was of the thickest quality. Altogether he was of a figure commanding,
but coarse, and looked his office greatly to the advantage of the
peace of the city, for the very sight of him was sufficient to awe the
evil-minded. He was the most celebrated _khôsh guzerân_ (sensualist)
in Tehran. He drank wine without compunction, and freely cursed the
mollahs, who promised him a seat in the regions below for holding the
injunctions of the Prophet so cheap. His house was the seat of revelry;
the noise of singing and tambours was heard there from night till
morning. He kept men dancers and women dancers; and was the protector of
every Lûti,[64] however impudent and obscene he might be. But with all
this, he did not in the least relax in the severities of his office;
and one might frequently hear, amid the sounds of revelry, the cries and
groans of some unfortunate wretch who was writhing under the torture
of the bastinado on his feet. He was an excellent horseman, and very
dexterous at the spear exercise; and although there was everything in
his appearance to make one believe that he was a soldier and a man of
prowess, yet in fact he was a most arrant coward. He endeavoured
to conceal this defect of his nature by boasting and big words; and
succeeded in persuading those who did not know his real character, that
he was among the modern Persians, what Sâm and Afrasiâb[65] were among
the ancient.

His lieutenant, a man of stern aspect, was an active and intelligent
officer: he understood the management of his chief, whom he flattered
into a belief, that, besides the Shah and himself, no one was worthy to
be called a man in Persia. I soon discovered that his prevailing passion
was avarice; for when he found that I was to be installed in my office
without making him a present, there was no end to the difficulties which
he threw in my way. However, by dint of making use of that tongue which
nature had given me, and persuading him, in his turn, that he was the
cream of lieutenants, and the very best of materials for the future
executioner in chief, he relaxed in his dislike, and even flattered me
so much as to say, that, by the blessing of Allah, the benign and
the merciful, he believed that I should not fail to become in time an
ornament to the profession.

I still kept my lodging at the doctor’s house until the period of the
Shah’s departure, and filled up my time in preparing for the journey.
The very circumstance of being a nasakchi gave me consequence in the
bazaar, and I found no difficulty in procuring everything I wanted upon
credit. During my stay with the doctor, I had managed to set myself
up with a small capital of necessaries, which I had procured either
in presents from patients, or by happy contrivances of my own. As for
instance, I wanted a bed, a quilt, and a pillow: a poor man happening
to die under our charge, I assured his relations, whom I knew to be the
most bigoted of Mussulmans, that his death could be no fault of ours,
for no one could doubt the skill with which he had been treated, but
that the bed upon which he lay must be unfortunate; for in the first
place, the quilt was of silk;[66] and in the next, the foot of the bed
had not been turned towards the Kebleh,[67] as it ought to have been:
this was enough for the family to discard the bed, and it became mine.

A looking-glass was necessary to my toilet: a mirza, sick of the
jaundice, looked at himself in one which he possessed, and was
horror-struck at his colour. I assured him that it only proceeded from
a defect in the glass, for that in fact he was as fresh as a rose. He
threw it away, and I took it home with me.

No one was stricter than Mirza Ahmak himself in all the exteriors of
religion, and scrupulous to a fault about things forbidden as unclean. I
was in want of a pair of _yakhdans_, or trunks, and a pair belonging
to the doctor, which were lying idle in an unfrequented room, were
frequently the objects of my contemplation. How shall I manage to become
master of these? thought I: had I but half the invention of Dervish
Sefer, I should already have been packing up my things in them. A
thought struck me: one of the many curs, which range wild throughout
Tehran, had just pupped under a ruined archway, close to our house.
Unseen, I contrived to lodge the whole litter within one of the trunks,
and to make a deposit of old bones in the other. When they came to be
moved, preparatory to the doctor’s journey (for he always accompanies
the Shah), the puppies and their mother set up such a confusion of
yells, that the servant who had disturbed them ran breathless with the
information to the doctor, who, followed by his household, including
myself, proceeded to the spot. As soon as the state of the case had been
ascertained, many were struck by the singularity of the circumstance, as
an omen portending no good to the doctor’s house. One said, ‘This comes
of marrying the khanum; she will give him a houseful of _harem zadehs_.’
Another said, ‘The puppies are yet blind: God grant that we and the
doctor may not become so likewise!’ The doctor himself was only vexed by
the loss of his trunks; he pronounced them to be _nejes_ (unclean) from
that moment, and ordered them, puppies, bitch and all, immediately to
be expelled. I was not long in appropriating them; and very soon assumed
all the consequence of a man possessing trunks, which also implied
things worthy to be put into them. Little by little, I scraped together
a sufficient quantity of effects to be able to talk big about my
baggage; and when preparations for our departure were making, I
held myself entitled to the privilege of squabbling with the king’s
mule-drivers concerning the necessity of a mule for carrying it.


He accompanies the Shah to his camp, and gets some insight into his

At length the day of departure for Sultanieh was fixed by the
astrologers. The Shah left his palace just half an hour before sunrise,
on the 21st _Rebbi el evel_,[68] and travelled without drawing bridle,
until he reached his palace of Sulimanieh, which is situated on the
banks of the Caraj, at a distance of nine parasangs from Tehran. The
different corps composing the army to be collected at Sultanieh were
ordered to meet there at a given time, whilst the Shah’s escort was
to consist only of his body guard, his camel artillery, and a heavy
squadron of cavalry. The great officers of the court, with the viziers,
and those employed in the public offices, departed at about the same
time, and thus the city was bereft, almost in one day, of nearly
two-thirds of its population. Everything and everybody were in motion;
and a stranger would have thought that all the inhabitants, like bees
hiving, by one common consent had broken up housekeeping, and were about
to settle in some other place. Strings of mules and camels, laden with
beds, carpets, cooking utensils, tents, horse furniture and provisions
of all sorts, were soon making their way through each avenue, raising an
impenetrable dust, whilst their conductors mingled their cries with the
various toned bells which decked their beasts.

On the morning of departure, I was stationed at the Casbîn gate to keep
order, and to prevent any impediment to the Shah’s passage. The peasants
bringing provisions to the city, who are in waiting every day previously
to opening the gates, were ordered to take another direction. The road
was watered by all the sakas of the town, and every precaution taken
to make the royal exit as propitious as possible. In particular, no old
woman was permitted to be seen, lest the Shah might cast a look upon
her, and thus get a stroke of the evil eye.

I found within myself an energy and a vigour in driving the people
about, that I never thought appertained to my character; for I
recollected well, when one of the mob, how entirely I abominated every
man in office. I made use of my stick so freely upon the heads and backs
of the crowd, that my brother executioners quite stared, and wondered
what demon they had got amongst them. I was anxious to establish a
reputation for courage, which I expected would in time promote me to a
higher situation.

At length the procession began to move forwards. A detachment of camel
artillery had proceeded on the evening before to receive the Shah when
he should alight at Sulimanieh; and now was heard the salute which
announced his leaving the palace at Tehran. All was hushed into anxiety
and expectation. The chief executioner himself, mounted upon a superb
charger, galloped through the streets in haste; and horsemen were seen
running to and fro, all intent upon the one object of preparing the
road. First came the heralds; then the led horses, magnificently
caparisoned in jewellery, shawls, and cloth of gold; after them the
running footmen; then the Shah in person; the princes succeeded,
followed by the viziers; and last of all an immense body of cavalry.

When it is mentioned that every man of any consequence was accompanied
by his train of attendants, most of whom had also their trains; and
when the sum total of mirzas, of servants, of pipe-bearers, of cooks
and scullions, of carpet-spreaders, of running-footmen, of grooms and
horses, of mule drivers and camel drivers, and of ten thousand other
camp followers is reckoned up, the imagination may perhaps conceive what
was the crowd which passed before me in succession, as I stood at the
Casbîn gate. When the Shah approached, his long beard floating to his
girdle, with all the terrors of despotism concentrated in his person,
I could not help feeling an odd sort of sensation about my neck; and I
made my lowest prostration to that power, which by a single nod might
have ordered my head to take leave of my shoulders, even before I could
make an objection.

The whole procession having cleared the city gates, I lingered behind
to smoke with the guards who are there stationed; and at that time the
women of one of the viziers who were permitted to accompany him to
camp passing by, brought Zeenab once again to my recollection. I sighed
profoundly, when I reflected on the probable miserable fate which
awaited her. She had been sent (so I heard from Nûr Jehan the day before
our departure) to a small summer-house belonging to the Shah, situated
at the foot of the high mountains which surround Tehran, where, with
many other of the bazigers, she was to receive her education of dancing,
music, and tumbling. The Shah had ordered that she was to be mistress of
these accomplishments previously to his return in the autumn; when she
would be honoured by the permission of exhibiting before him. As I rode
away, I could not help turning my head towards the spot where she was
now confined, and which I could just discern a speck at the foot of the
mountain. Perhaps at any other time I should have left every duty to
endeavour to obtain a glimpse of her; but I was called up to head the
procession again, and to be in readiness at Sulimanieh when the king
should alight from his horse.

The day’s march, and the attendance at my post being at an end, I
proceeded to the quarters of the chief executioner, where I found a
small tent prepared for me and five other nasakchies, who were destined
to be my companions for the remainder of the journey. I had already
made their acquaintance in the city; but now we were brought into closer
contact, for our tent was not more than six _ghez_[69] long and four
broad, and we were thus thrown almost one upon the other. I, as the
junior, fared of course the worst; but I determined to put the best
face possible upon any present inconveniences, anticipating many future
advantages, which a certain confidence in my own pretty self whispered
to me I should not fail to secure.

In addition to the chief executioner’s naib, there was also a
sub-lieutenant, who must have a place in my narrative, because, in
fact, it was through him that I ultimately became noticed by the higher
powers. His name was Shîr Ali, in rank a _Beg_, and a Shirazi by birth.
Although natives of the two rival cities of Persia, yet without any
particular previous cause, and by a combination of those nothings which
give rise to most friendships, we became inseparable companions. He had
given me a piece of watermelon one hot day when I was thirsty; I had
lighted his pipe for him on another occasion: he had bled me with his
penknife when I had overloaded my stomach with too much rice; and I
had cured his horse of the colic by administering an injection of
tobacco-water: in short, one thing led on to another, until a very close
intimacy was established between us. He was three years older than I,
tall, handsome, broad-shouldered, narrow-waisted, with the prettiest
oval beard possible, just long enough to fringe round his chin, and
with two large curls, twisting beautifully behind his ear, like a vine
curling over the garden wall.

He had been long enough in the service to acquire all the tricks of
his profession; for when we came to converse upon the subject, it was
surprising what a vast field for the exercise of genius he threw open to
my view.

He said, ‘Do not suppose that the salary which the Shah gives his
servants is a matter of much consideration with them: no, the value of
their places depends upon the range of extortion which circumstances
may afford, and upon their ingenuity in taking advantage of it. As, for
instance, take our chief: his salary is 1,000 tomauns per annum, which
may or may not be regularly paid; that signifies little to him. He
spends at least five or six times that sum; and how is he to get it,
if it flows not from the contributions of those who come under his
cognizance? A khan has incurred the Shah’s displeasure; he is to be
beaten and fined: the chief executioner beats and mulcts in the inverse
proportion of the present which the sufferer makes him. A rebel’s
eyes are to be put out; it depends upon what he receives, whether the
punishment is done rudely with a dagger, or neatly with a penknife.
He is sent on an expedition at the head of an army; wherever he goes
presents are sent him from the towns and villages on his road to induce
him not to quarter his troops upon them; and he uses his discretion,
according to the value of what he receives, in choosing his halting
stations. Most of those in high offices, even the viziers, make him
annual gifts, in case the day of the Shah’s displeasure should come, And
then they would hope to be dealt with gently by him. In short, wherever
a stick is to be brandished, wherever punishment is to be inflicted,
there the chief executioner levies his dues; and they descend in a
gradual measure from him to the lowest of his officers. Before I was a
naib, and when I was called upon to lay the bastinado on some wretched
culprit, many is the time that my compassion has been moved by a direct
appeal to my purse; and then, instead of beating the sufferer’s feet, I
struck the felek upon which they rested. It was but last year that the
principal secretary of state incurred the wrath of the Shah. He was
ordered to receive the bastinado, and, by way of distinction, a small
carpet was spread for him to lie upon: I and another were the operators,
whilst two more held the felek. When we were taking the shawl and
cap from his head, his girdle and outer coat (which became our lawful
perquisites), he whispered to us, low enough not to be heard by the Shah
(for this was all done in his presence), “By the mothers that bore
you, do not eat me much! I’ll give you each ten tomauns if you will not
strike me.” His heels were tripped up, his feet placed in the noose,
whilst his back reposed on the carpet; and then we set to work. For our
own sakes, we were obliged to start fair, and we laid on until he roared
sufficiently; and then, having ably made him increase his offer until he
had bid up to any price we wished, we gradually ceased beating his feet,
and only broke our sticks over the felek. Much ingenuity was displayed
on both sides, in order that the Shah might not discover that there
was any understanding between us. His bidding was interwoven with his
groans, something after this manner:--“_Ahi amân! amân!_ For pity’s
sake, by the soul of the Prophet! twelve tomauns.--By the love of your
fathers and mothers! fifteen tomauns.--By the king’s beard! twenty
tomauns.--By all the Imâms! by all the prophets! thirty, forty, fifty,
sixty, hundred, thousand,--anything you want.” When it was over, we
soon found that his generosity had diminished quite as rapidly as it had
before increased, and we were satisfied to receive what he first offered
to us, which he was obliged to give, fearing if a similar misfortune
again overtook him, we should then show him no mercy.’

Shîr Ali, holding this sort of language, gave me such an insight
into the advantages of my situation that I could dream of nothing but
bastinadoing, and getting money. I went about all day flourishing
a stick over my head, practising upon any object that had the least
resemblance to human feet, and to such perfection did I bring my hand,
that I verily believe I could have hit each toe separately, had I been
so ordered. The first impulse of my nature was not cruelty, that I knew:
I was neither fierce nor brave, that I also knew: I therefore marvelled
greatly how of a sudden I had become such an unsainted lion.[70] The
fact is, the example of others always had the strongest influence over
my mind and actions; and I now lived in such an atmosphere of violence
and cruelty, I heard of nothing but of slitting noses, cutting off ears,
putting out eyes, blowing up in mortars, chopping men in two, and baking
them in ovens, that, in truth, I am persuaded, with a proper example
before me, I could almost have impaled my own father.


Employed in his official capacity, Hajji Baba gives a specimen of
Persian despotism.

The Shah moved slowly towards Sultanieh, and at length, after fourteen
days’ march, when a fortunate hour had been selected for his arrival,
he took possession of the summer palace, which has of late days been
erected there for his residence. Situated on a hill, not far from the
remains of the ancient city, it commands a view of the whole plain,
which now, to an immense extent, was covered with the white tents of the
camp. It was a magnificent sight, and I felt all the importance of the
nasakchi rising in my breast, as I contrasted my present situation with
my wretched and forlorn condition when an inmate in the tents of the
Turcomans. ‘In short, I am somebody now,’ said I to myself; ‘formerly I
was one of the beaten, now I am one of the beaters. I should just do
for an example of the active and passive participle, with which my old
master, the mollah at Ispahan, used to puzzle me, when endeavouring
to instil a little Arabic into my mind. Please Heaven that my good
dispositions towards my fellow-creatures may soon have an opportunity of
being displayed.’

Scarcely I had made these reflections, when Shîr Ali came up to me, and
said, ‘Our fortune has taken a flight upwards: you are to accompany me,
and _Inshallah!_ please Allah! we shall make clean work of it. You must
know, that the provisions for the king’s camp are supplied, in great
measure, by the surrounding villages. It seems that the village of Kadj
Sawar, situated between this and Hamadan, has not sent its quota, upon
a pretext that one of the princes, with his suite, not long ago, on a
hunting excursion, had there settled himself for several days, and eaten
the inhabitants out of house and home. I am ordered to proceed thither,
to investigate the business, and to conduct the _ked khoda_ (the head
man), with the elders of the village, before our chief. Since you are
my friend, I have received permission to take you with me, although the
other nasakchies complain that they have lost their turn. You must be
ready to join me after the evening prayer, for I intend to be there
to-morrow morning.’

I was overjoyed to find myself so soon brought into action; and,
although I did not know precisely the plan of operations which Shîr Ali
would adopt, yet I had wit enough to perceive that a great field was
open to the ingenuity of fellows like us, who are always guided by the
state of the weather. ‘Our star will be an evil one, indeed,’ said I,
‘if that destructive prince has left us nothing to glean. Some poet once
said “no melon is so bad but hath its rind, and although a tyrant may
pluck out a beard by the roots, yet still the chin is left upon which it
grew.”’ With these thoughts in my head I went to my horse, which, with
the other nasakchies’ horses, was picketed near our tents, and prepared
him for the journey. Casting off his head and heel ropes, I could not
help comparing him to myself. ‘Now,’ said I, ‘beast! you are free to
kick and plunge, and do what mischief you can’; and so, thought I, is
the Persian when absolved from the fear of his master.

Shîr Ali and I quitted the camp at sunset, accompanied by a lad, seated
on the top of a loaded mule, that carried our beds; and the coverings,
ropes, etc. for our horses. Since I had become a soldier, I also had
attached the title of Beg to my name; and, to add to my importance in
this expedition, I borrowed a silver chain for my horse’s head, and a
handsome silver mounted pistol for my girdle, from one of my comrades,
and promised to bring him a _soghat_, or present, in case the harvest
proved abundant.

We travelled all night, and, having slept for two hours at a village on
the road, reached Kadj Sawar just as the women were driving the cattle
from their stables, and the men smoking their pipes, previously to going
to their work in the field. As soon as we were perceived making for the
village, it was evident that a great stir was produced. The women ceased
from their cries, and hid their faces, and the men arose from their
seats. I wish my reader could have seen the air and countenance which
Shîr Ali Beg put on as we approached. He swelled himself out at least
into the size of the chief executioner himself, and with a tone of
authority, which sufficiently indicated who and what he was, inquired
for the chief of the village. A plain man, with a grey beard, humble
mien, and still humbler clothing, stepped forward, and said, ‘Peace
be with you, Aga! I am he; I am your servant. May your footsteps
be fortunate, and your shadow never be less!’ And then saying,
‘_Bismillah!_ in the name of God!’ we were helped off our horses with
all due respect. One held the horse’s head, another the stirrup, whilst
a third put his hand under the arm-pit, and thus we alighted, giving
ourselves as much weight as we could, and making up our backs like men
of consequence. A small carpet was spread at the door of ked khoda’s
house, to which we had been conducted, followed by almost all the male
population of the village, and there we seated ourselves until a room
within was prepared. The ked khoda himself pulled off our boots, and
otherwise performed all the acts of politeness and attention which are
shown to guests on their arrival. Shîr Ali having received this with the
dignity of one who thought it his due, and having let off several long
whiffs from his pipe, said, with great emphasis, to our host, ‘You, that
are the ked khoda of Kadj Sawar, know, that I am come on the part of
Shah--on the part of the Shah, again I say--that I am come to know why
this village has not sent its quota of provisions for the use of the
royal camp at Sultanieh, according to the order issued in the firman
two months ago, signified to you by the governor of Hamadan? Give me an
answer, and make your face white if you can.’

The ked khoda answered, ‘Yes, by my eyes! what I have said before I will
say now. All these men present’ (pointing to his fellow villagers) ‘know
it to be the truth; and if I lie, may I become stone blind! _Arz mi
kunum_, I beg leave to state, O nasakchi! that you, by the blessing
of God, you, in fine, are a man--you are a wise, a clever, and a
sharp-sighted man--you are also a Mussulman, and you fear God. I
shall not say more than the truth, nor less; I shall explain what has
happened, and then leave you to decide.’

‘Well, well, say on,’ said Shîr Ali; ‘I am the king’s servant: whatever
the Shah will decide, that you must look to.’

‘You are the master,’ replied the ked khoda; ‘but pray give ear to my
tale. About three months ago, when the wheat was nearly a gez high, and
lambs were bleating all over the country, a servant belonging to the
Prince Kharab Cûli Mirza announced to us that his master would take
up his quarters in the village the next day, in order to hunt in the
surrounding country, which abounds in antelopes, wild asses, partridges,
bustards, and game of all descriptions. He ordered the best houses to
be in readiness for him and his suite, turned out their inhabitants, and
made demands for provisions of all sorts. As soon as this intelligence
was known, alarm was spread throughout the village, and seeing that
nothing was to be done with the prince’s servant, either by bribe or
persuasion, to evade the disaster, we determined to abandon our houses
and take to the mountains until the evil day bad gone by. Had you seen
the state of these peasants, when forced to abandon everything they had
in the world, your heart would have turned upside down, and your liver
would have become water.’

‘What do you mean?’ exclaimed Shîr Ali: ‘the Shah’s villages are left
desolate, and I am to pity the fugitives? No, they would have all been
put to death had the Shah known it.’

‘For pity’s sake,’ continued the old villager, hear the end of my story,
and allow yourself to be softened. We loaded our cattle at nightfall
with everything we could carry away, and took to the mountains, where
we settled in a dell, close to a stream of running water. There only
remained behind three sick old women and the village cats.’

‘Do you hear that, Hajji?’ said my companion, addressing himself to me:
‘they carried away everything valuable, and left the bare walls,
and their old women to the prince. Well,’ said he to the ked khoda,

‘We sent spies from time to time,’ continued the old man, ‘to bring
intelligence of what was doing, and took up our abode among the rocks
and cliffs of the mountains. About noon the next day the party appeared,
and when they discovered that we had fled, their rage and disappointment
were great. The servants of the prince went from house to house,
and drove in the doors with violence. The only object which at all
restrained them was one of the old women, who having acquired sufficient
strength to rise from her bed, attacked them with such reproaches, that
none was bold enough to face her. The prince sent for provisions from
a neighbouring town, and took up his abode in my house. Wherever they
found corn, they seized upon it; they burnt our implements of husbandry
for firewood, and when they were expended had recourse to doors and
windows, and even to the beams and rafters of our houses. Their horses
were picketed in the new wheat, and they even cut down a great extent
of it to carry away. In short, we are entirely ruined; we have neither
money, clothes, cattle, houses, nor provisions; and, except in God and
you,’ addressing himself to Shîr Ali and me, ‘we have no other refuge.’

Upon this Shîr Ali Beg jumped up from his seat, took the old man
vigorously by the beard, and said, ‘Are not you ashamed, old man, with
these grey hairs, to utter such lies? But a moment ago you told us that
you had carried into the mountains all that was most valuable, and now
pretend that you are ruined. This can never be! We have not travelled
all this way to eat your dirt. If you think that we have brought our
beards to market to be laughed at, you are mistaken. You don’t yet know
Shîr Ali: we are men who sleep with one eye open and the other shut; no
fox steals from its hole without our knowledge: if you think yourself a
cat, we are the fathers of cats. Your beard must be a great deal longer,
you must have seen much more country, before you can expect to take us

‘No, God forgive me!’ said the ked khoda: ‘if I have thought to deceive
you. Who am I, that I should dare to think so? We are the Shah’s
_rayats_, (peasantry); whatever we have is his; but we have been
stripped, we have been skinned; go, see with your own eyes--look at our
fields--look into our store-rooms--we have neither corn abroad nor corn
at home.’

‘Well,’ said Shîr Ali, ‘skinned or unskinned, with corn or without
it, we have only one course to pursue, and one word to say--the Shah’s
orders must be executed. Either you deliver in kind or in money your
prescribed quota of provisions, or you and your elders must proceed
with us to Sultanieh, where you will be consigned over to the proper

After these words, much whispering and consultation took place between
the ked khoda and the village elders, who, having huddled themselves
into a corner, left us wrapt up in our own dignity, smoking our pipes,
with apparently the greatest indifference.

At length the result of their conference was made known, and they
changed their order of attack; for the chief of the village now
undertook to soften me, and another old man Shîr Ali Beg. The former
approached me with every manifestation of great friendship, and began,
as usual, by flattery. According to him, I was the most perfect of God’s
creatures. He then swore that I had excited feelings of love both in
his breast, and in that of all the villagers, and that I alone was
the person to extricate them from their difficulties. As long as this
lasted, I merely kept a steady countenance, and made play with my pipe;
but when he had a little more entered into particulars, and talked of
what we were likely to get, I must own that I became considerably more
interested. He said that they had consulted upon what was to be done;
and were unanimous, that to send what they had not was impossible, and
therefore out of the question; but perhaps if something could be offered
to us to protect their interests, they were ready to satisfy us on that

‘All this is very well,’ said I, ‘but I am not the only person to be
considered. We here are only two, but recollect that our chief must be
also satisfied, and if you do not begin by him, your labour and expense
will be in vain: and I can tell you, if you grease his palm, you
must measure your _roghun_ (grease) by the _maun_,[72] and not by the

‘Whatever we possess,’ said the ked khoda, ‘we will give; but of late
taxation has been so heavy, that, excepting our wives and children, we
have in fact nothing to offer.’

‘I tell you what, friend,’ said I, ‘unless you have money, ready
downright cash, to give, any other offer is useless: with money in your
hand, you may buy the Shah’s crown from his head; but without it, I can
only promise you a harvest of bastinadoes.’

‘Ah!’ said the ked khoda, ‘money, money! where are we to procure money?
Our women, when they get a piece, bore a hole through it, and hang it
about their necks by way of ornament; and if we, after a life of hard
toil, can scrape up some fifty tomauns, we bury them in the earth,
and they give us more anxiety than if we possessed the mountain of
light.’[73] Then approaching to put his mouth to my ear, he whispered
with great earnestness, ‘You are a Mussulman, in fine, and no ass.
You do not conceive that we will go into the lion’s mouth if it can
be avoided; tell me (pointing to my companion) how much will he be
contented with? Can I offer him five tomauns, and a pair of crimson
_shalwars_ (trowsers)?’

‘What do I know,’ said I, ‘what will satisfy him? All I can say is, that
he possesses not a grain of commiseration: make the tomauns ten, and the
trowsers a coat, and I will endeavour to make him accept them.’

‘Oh, that is too much,’ said the old man; ‘our whole village is not
worth that sum. Satisfy him with the five and the trowsers, and our
gratitude will be shown, by a present for yourself that will astonish

Upon this our conference broke off, and I was as anxious to hear what
had taken up my companion, as he was impatient to learn the result of my
whisperings with the ked khoda. Comparing notes, we found that both
the old villagers had been endeavouring to ascertain what might be our
respective prices. I assured Shîr Ali that I had given him out for the
veriest crucible in Persia, saying, that he could digest more gold than
an ostrich could iron, and was withal so proud, that he rejected units
as totally unworthy of notice, and never took less than tens.

‘Well said,’ answered Shîr Ali; ‘and I told my old negotiator, that
unless you were handsomely paid, you were equal to any violence,
notwithstanding your silence and quiet looks.’

At length, after some delay, the whole party came forward again, headed
by the ked khoda, who, bringing an ostensible present of apples, pears,
a pot of honey, and some new cheese, begged my companion to accept it,
in terms usually made on such occasions. When it had been spread before
us, in an undertone of voice the ked khoda made his offer of five
tomauns and the trousers, and talked of his misery and that of his
village in a manner which would have melted any breast but that of Shîr

We agreed at once to reject the present, and ordered it to be taken from
before us. This produced considerable dismay among the poor people, and
they walked off with their trays of fruit, etc., on their heads, with
slow and sorrowful steps.

In about half an hour they appeared again, the ked khoda having
previously ascertained that if he came with the ten tomauns and a coat,
the present would be accepted. When we had eaten thereof, Shîr Ali Beg
having pocketed his gold and secured his coat, I began to look for that
something for myself which was to astonish me: nothing, however, was
produced, notwithstanding certain significant winks and blinks with
which the ked khoda ever and anon kept me in play.

‘Where is it?’ said I to him at last, quite out of patience. ‘What is
it? how much?’

‘It is coming,’ said he; ‘have a little patience; it is not yet quite

At length, after some waiting, with great parade, the pair of trowsers,
which had been rejected by Shîr Ali, were placed before me on a tray,
and offered for my acceptance, accompanied by a profusion of fine words.

‘What news is this?’ exclaimed I: ‘do you know, ye men without
shame!’ addressing myself to those who stood before me, ‘that I am an
executioner,--one who can burn your fathers, and can give you more grief
to devour than you have ever yet experienced? What mean ye by bringing
me this pair of frouzy shalwars? That which has passed through many
generations of your ignoble ancestors, do ye now pretend to put off
upon me? Fools indeed you must be, to suppose that I will espouse your
interests, and set forth your grievances, merely for the sake of this
dirty rag! Away with it, or you will see what a nasakchi can do!’

Upon this they were about complying with my orders, when Shîr Ali Beg
stopped them, and said, ‘Let me look at the trousers. Ah,’ said he,
holding them up at the same time between his eyes and the sun, and
examining them with all the care of an old clothes broker, ‘they will
do; they have no defect: be it so, they are my property, and many thanks
for them. May your family prosper!’

Every one looked astonished; no one dared make an objection; and thus I,
who had been anticipating such great advantages, lost even the miserable
perquisite which I might have had, and only gained sufficient experience
to know another time how to deal with my countrymen, and, moreover, how
to trust one who called himself my friend.


Fortune, which pretended to frown, in fact smiles upon Hajji Baba, and
promotes him to be sub-lieutenant to the chief executioner.

Two fat lambs, which were tied on our baggage mule, were the only
present we brought with us for our chief. As soon as we reached the
camp, we immediately presented ourselves to the naib, who forthwith
carried us before the executioner, who was seated in his tent, in
conversation with one or two of his friends.

‘Well,’ said he to Shîr Ali, ‘what have you done? Have you brought the
corn, or the ked khoda, which?’

‘I beg leave to state for your service,’ said Shîr Ali, ‘neither. The
ked khoda and the elders of Kadj Sawar have sent two lambs to be laid at
your feet; and they have convinced us with our own eyes, that excepting
them, not a thing have they left, not even their own souls, so entirely
and completely have they been pillaged: on the contrary, if food be not
sent to them, they will eat up one another.’

‘Do you say so, indeed!’ exclaimed the khan: ‘if they have lambs, they
must also have sheep. By what account do you reckon?’

‘That’s true,’ said Shîr Ali, ‘and everything that you say is equally
so; but we were talking of corn, and not of sheep.’

‘But why did not you follow your orders, and bring the ked khoda and the
elders?’ said our chief. ‘If I had been there, the rogues, I would have
roasted them alive. I would have tied them with the camel tie,[74] until
they confessed that they had something. Tell me, why did you not bring

‘We wished much to bring them,’ said Shîr Ali, looking at me to help him
out. ‘Yes, we had bound them all together, and we wanted very much to
bring them: we also beat and abused them. Hajji Baba knows it all; for
Hajji Baba told them if they had not money to give, they would certainly
meet with no mercy. Mercy was a thing totally out of our way; for if
they knew anything, they must be aware that our khan, our lord and
master, the Nasakchi Bashi, was a man of such invincible courage, of a
resolution so great, and of bowels so immovable, that if once they got
within his grasp, it was all over with them. Yes, we told them all that,
and they almost sunk into the earth.’

‘What does he say, Hajji Baba?’ said the khan, turning round to me: ‘I
have not quite understood why these men were not brought to me?’

I answered in great humility, ‘Indeed, O khan, I also do not understand.
Shîr Ali Beg, who is your deputy-lieutenant, had the whole business in
his hands. I went in his service; I am nobody.’

Upon this the khan got into a violent rage, and branded us by every
odious name of contempt and reproach that he could think of. ‘It is
plain,’ said he to his friends, ‘that these villains have been playing
tricks. Tell me,’ said he to Shîr Ali, ‘by my soul, by the king’s
salt, tell me, how much have you got for yourself? And you, Aga Hajji,’
addressing himself to me, ‘you, who have scarcely been a month in
service, how much have you secured?’

In vain we both protested our innocence; in vain we swore that there
was nothing to gain; nobody would believe us; and the scene ended by our
being driven out of the tent in custody of the naib, who was ordered
to confine us until the chiefs of the village should have been actually
brought to the camp, and confronted with us.

When Shîr Ali and I were left to ourselves, he immediately endeavoured
to make me a partaker of the spoil, and offered to give me up half of

‘Not so, my friend,’ said I; ‘it is now too late. If you have drank
and enjoyed the forbidden wine, and have got a headache by it, it is
no reason that you should endeavour to make me sick too. I have had a
lesson, in which you have acted as master, which will satisfy me for
this time.’

He then endeavoured to make me promise to stand by him, when we should
be confronted with the ked khoda, and to swear through thick and thin to
everything that he intended to advance; but I was too much alive to
the consequences to make any such promise. He said that if once he were
brought to the felek to receive the bastinado, he knew that he could not
survive it; for so universal a terrorist had he been when operating upon
the feet of others, that now he felt he should be treated without
the least mercy; and he therefore swore upon the Korân, that he would
undergo every misery rather than be tied to the stake.

When the time came for being called up again before our chief, Shîr Ali
was nowhere to be found. He had absconded, and when I was interrogated,
all that I could say amounted to this,--that I knew he dreaded the idea
of being bastinadoed, and that I supposed he had made off to escape it.

As soon as I appeared before my judge, the men of Kadj Sawar, who were
already standing before him, declared one and all, that I had neither
exacted nor received anything from them; but, on the contrary, that I
had urged them to make a considerable present to the khan. They poured
out the whole of their complaints against Shîr Ali, who they declared
had put the finishing stroke to their misery, and had even torn off the
new skin that had began to cover their old wounds.

All this was slowly working for my advantage, and paving the road to my
promotion. The story had got abroad, and was in every one’s mouth. I was
looked upon as a paragon of moderation.

‘This comes from having been a doctor,’ says one; ‘wisdom is better than

‘He knows the doctrine of consequences,’ says another; ‘his feet will
never be where his head should be.’

In short, I had acquired the reputation of being a clever and a cautious
fellow, merely owing to events playing fortunately into my hands; and
I lost nothing from being looked upon as a man whose _taleh_ (luck) was
good, and one whose star was fortunate.

The result of this part of my history was, that I was installed in the
situation of the fugitive, and became the sub-lieutenant to the chief
executioner of Persia--a character, whatever my readers may think of it,
of no small consequence, as they will hereafter discover.


Although by trade an executioner, he shows a feeling heart--He meets
with a young man and woman in distress.

The Shah was at this time engaged in a war with the Moscovites, who had
established themselves in Georgia, and were threatening the frontier
provinces of Persia situated between the rivers Kûr and Arras. The
governor of Erivan, known by the title of _serdar_ or general, and one
of the Shah’s most favourite officers, had long ago opened the campaign
by desultory attacks upon the advanced posts of the enemy, and by laying
waste the villages and country in the track they were likely to keep
in advancing towards Persia. An army, under the command of the heir
apparent and governor of the great province of Aderbijân, had also been
collected near Tabrîz; and it was intended that he should immediately
proceed to the seat of war, in order if possible to drive the enemy back
to Teflis, and, according to the language of the court, carry its arms
even to the walls of Moscow.

Intelligence was daily expected at the royal camp of Sultanieh, from the
serdar, concerning an attack which he had announced it his intention
to make upon the Russian post of Gavmishlû; and orders were issued
for giving a suitable reception to the heads of the enemy, which it
is always the etiquette to send upon announcing a victory, for such
no doubt was expected to be the result of the attack. A _chapper_, or
courier, was at length seen riding towards the camp in great haste. He
was the conductor of five horse-loads of heads, ’tis true, and they were
heaped up with great pomp and parade before the principal entrance of
the royal tents; but it became evident that something had taken place
which required a reinforcement; for on the very next morning our chief,
Namerd Khan, was appointed to the command of a body of ten thousand
cavalry, which were ordered to march immediately to the banks of the

The _min bashies_, the heads of thousands; the _yûz bashies_, the heads
of hundreds, the _on bashies_, the heads of tens; and all the officers
commanding the troops, were seen hurrying over the camp in various
directions, attending upon their khans, and receiving their orders. The
tent of Namerd Khan was filled with the chiefs of the expedition, to
whom he distributed his directions, giving them the order of march, and
allotting to each division its station in halting at the villages on
the route. My duty was to precede the troops by a day, accompanied by a
detachment of nasakchies, to make arrangements for billeting the men in
the villages. This was a duty requiring activity and exertion; but at
the same time accompanied by great advantages, which, had I chosen to
avail myself of, might have increased the weight of my purse. However,
the recent example of Shîr Ali Beg was too strong before my eyes not
to repress any desire I might have of levying contributions, so I
determined for the present to keep my hands pure, and to quench the
flame of covetousness by the waters of prudence.

I set off with my detachment, and reached Erivan several days before
the troops could arrive. We here found the serdar, who, after his attack
upon Gavmishlû, had retreated, to wait the reinforcement of the cavalry
under our chief. The army under the prince royal had proceeded to
another part of the frontier, with the intention of attacking the
fortress of Ganja, of which the enemy had recently acquired possession,
and unable to spare any of his troops, the serdar had solicited
assistance from the Shah.

As soon as Namerd Khan and the serdar had met and consulted, it was
determined that spies should immediately be sent forwards in order to
ascertain the position, and the movements of the Russians; and I was
fixed upon to head a detachment of twenty men on the part of the chief
executioner, whilst a similar number was sent by the serdar, who at the
same time were to be our guides through such parts of the country as
were unknown to me.

We assembled at the close of day, and began our march just as the
muezzins called the evening prayer. Proceeding at once to the village of
Ashtarek, we passed Etchmiazin, the seat of the Armenian patriarch,
on our left. It was scarcely dawn of day when we reached the bridge of
Ashtarek, still obscured by the deepest shade, owing to the very high
and rocky banks of the river, forming, as it were, two abrupt walls on
either side. The village itself, situated on the brink of these banks,
was just sufficiently lighted up to be distinguished from the rocks
among which it was built; whilst the ruins of a large structure, of
heavy architecture, rose conspicuous on the darkest side, and gave
a character of solemnity and grandeur to the whole scenery. This, my
companions informed me, was the remains of the many Armenian churches so
frequently seen in this part of Persia. The river dashed along through
its dark bed, and we could perceive the foam of its waters as we began
to cross the bridge. The rattle of our horses’ hoofs over its pavement
had alarmed the village dogs, whose bark we could just distinguish; the
shrill crow of a cock was also heard, and most of our eyes were directed
towards the houses, when one of our men, stopping his horse, exclaimed,
‘Ya, Ali! (oh, Ali!) what is that?’ pointing with his hand to the
church: ‘do not you see, there, something white?’

‘Yes, yes,’ said another, ‘I see it: it’s a _ghôl_! without doubt it’s a
ghôl! This is the true hour: it is in search of a corpse. I dare say it
is devouring one now.’

I also could see that something was there, but it was impossible to make
it out.

We halted upon the bridge, looking up with all our eyes, every one being
satisfied that it was a supernatural being. One called upon Ali, another
upon Hossein, and a third invoked the Prophet and the twelve Imâms. None
seemed inclined to approach it, but every one suggested some new mode
of exorcism. ‘Untie the string of your trousers,’ said an old Irâki,
‘that’s the way we treat our ghôls, in the desert near Ispahan, and they
depart instantly.’

‘What good will that do?’ answered a _delikhan_ (a hare-brained youth);
‘I’d rather keep the beast out than let it in.’

In short, what with joking, and what with serious talk, the morning
broke sufficiently to convince us that the apparition must have been an
illusion of our senses, for nothing now was to be seen. However, having
passed the bridge, the said delikhan, shivering in his stirrups, and
anxious to gallop his horse, exclaimed, ‘I’ll go and find the ghôl,’
drove his horse up a steep bank, and made towards the ruined church. We
saw him return very speedily, with intelligence, that what we had taken
for a ghôl was a woman, whose white veil had attracted our notice, and
that she, with a man, were apparently hiding themselves among the deep
shades of the broken walls.

Full of anxiety for what might throw a light upon the object of my duty,
I lost no time in proceeding to the ruin, in order to ascertain why
these people hid themselves so mysteriously, and ordering five men to
follow me, I made the rest halt near the bridge.

We saw no one until turning the sharp angle of a wall we found, seated
under an arch, the objects of our search. A woman, apparently sick, was
extended on the ground, whilst a man, leaning over, supported her head,
in an attitude of the greatest solicitude. Enough of daylight now shone
upon them to discover that they were both young. The woman’s face,
partially hid by her veil, notwithstanding its deadly paleness, was
surprisingly beautiful; and the youth was the finest specimen of
strength, activity, and manliness that I had ever seen. He was dressed
in the costume of Georgia, a long knife hung over his thigh, and a gun
rested against the wall. Her veil, which was of the purest white, was
here and there stained with blood, and torn in several places. Although
I had been living amongst men inured to scenes of misery, utter
strangers to feelings of pity or commiseration, yet in this instance I
and my companions could not fail being much interested at what we saw,
and paused with a sort of respect for the grief of these apparently
unfriended strangers, before we ventured to break the silence of our

‘What are you doing here?’ said I. ‘If you are strangers, and
travellers, why do you not go into the village?’

‘If you have the feelings of a man,’ said the youth, ‘give me help, for
the love of God! Should you be sent to seize us by the serdar, still
help me to save this poor creature who is dying. I have no resistance to
offer; but pray save her.’

‘Who are you?’ said I. ‘The serdar has given us no orders concerning
you. Where do you come from? Whither going?’

‘Our story is long and melancholy,’ said the young man: ‘if you will
help me to convey this poor suffering girl where she may be taken care
of, I will relate everything that has happened to us. She may recover
with good and kind usage: she is wounded, but I trust not mortally,
and with quiet may recover. Thanks to Heaven, you are not one of the
serdar’s officers! I entreat you to befriend me, and my lamentable tale
may perhaps induce you to take us under your protection.’

This appeal to my feelings was unnecessary: the countenance and
appearance of the youth had excited great interest in my breast, and
I immediately lent myself to his wishes, telling him that we would,
without delay, convey his sick friend to the village, and then, having
heard his story, settle what to do for him.

She had to this moment said nothing, but gathered her veil round her
with great precaution, now and then uttering low groans, which indicated
pain, and venting the apparent misery of her mind by suppressed sighs.
I ordered one of my followers to dismount from his horse; we placed
her upon it, and immediately proceeded to the village, where, having
inspected the interior of several houses, I pitched upon that which
afforded the best accommodation, and whose owner appeared obliging and
humane; there we deposited her, giving directions that she should be
nursed with the greatest care. An old woman of the village, who had the
reputation of skill in curing wounds and bruises, was sent for, and she
undertook her cure. I learnt from the youth that he and his companion
were Armenians; and as the inhabitants of Ashtarek were of the same
persuasion, they very soon understood each other, and the poor sufferer
felt that she could not have fallen into better hands.

[Illustration: ‘An explosion took place in the very room.’ 18.jpg]


The history of Yûsûf, the Armenian, and his wife Mariam.

It was my intention to have proceeded to the heights of Aberan, where
we should have found a cool region and good pasturage for our horses,
before halting for the day; but hearing that the wandering tribes, whom
we had expected to find encamped in a certain spot, and upon whose tents
and provisions I had reckoned, were removed far into the mountains,
fearful of the war which had just broken out, I determined to halt at
Ashtarek until the heat of the day should have subsided. Accordingly,
my men were quartered in different parts of the village: some settled
themselves under the arches of the bridge, picketing their horses among
the long grass: one or two took possession of a mill, situated in the
bed of the river, whose wheel was turned by water, made to flow in an
elevated channel for the purpose; and I spread my carpet in an open
room, built upon a shelf, on the highest part of the rocky bank, from
whence I had a view of the whole scene, and also could discern any
object that might be coming towards us from the Russian frontier.

Feeling refreshed by two hours’ sound sleep, upon awaking I sent for the
Armenian youth; and whilst the good people of the village served us a
light breakfast, of which we were both much in need, I requested him to
relate his adventures, and particularly what had brought him into the
situation in which he had been discovered. Refreshed with rest and food,
the morning sun enlightening the spot we occupied, the manly features of
the youth exhibited all their beauty; and, as he spoke, their animation
and earnestness helped wonderfully to convince me that all he said was
the truth. He spoke as follows:--

‘I am an Armenian by birth, and a Christian; my name is Yûsûf. My father
is chief of the village of Gavmishlû, inhabited entirely by Armenians,
situated not far from the beautiful river of Pembaki, and about six
agatch from this place. In the middle of a verdant country, full of the
richest pasturage, and enjoying a climate celebrated for coolness and
serenity, we are a healthy and a hardy race; and, notwithstanding the
numerous exactions of our governors, were happy in our poverty. We live
so far within the mountains, that we are more distant from the
tyranny usually exercised upon those who abide nearer great towns, the
residences of governors; and, secluded from the world, our habits are
simple, and our modes of life patriarchal. I had an uncle, my father’s
brother, a deacon, and an attendant upon the head of our church, the
patriarch at Etchmiazin; and another uncle, by my mother’s side, was the
priest of our village: therefore my family, being well in the church,
determined that I should follow the sacred profession. My father
himself, who subsisted by tilling the ground, and by his own labour
had cleared away a considerable tract near the village, having two sons
besides me, expected to receive sufficient help from them in the field,
and therefore agreed to spare me for the church. Accordingly, when about
ten years old, I went to Etchmiazin to be educated, where I learned to
read, write, and perform the church service. I derived great pleasure
from instruction, and read every book that came in my way. A very
extensive library of Armenian books exists at the convent, of which
I managed now and then to get a few; and although mostly on religious
subjects, yet it happened that I once got a history of Armenia, which
riveted all my attention; for I learnt by it that we once were a nation,
having kings, who made themselves respected in the world. Reflecting
upon our degraded state at the present day, and considering who were
our governors, I became full of energy to shake off the yoke, and these
feelings turned my thoughts from the sacred profession to which I was
destined. About this time war broke out between Persia and Russia, and
our village lying in the track of the armies marching to the frontiers,
I felt that my family would require every protection possible, and
that I should be more usefully employed with them than in a cloister.
Accordingly, but a short time before taking priest’s orders, I left my
friends at Etchmiazin, and returned to my father’s house. I was welcomed
by every one. Already had they felt the horrors of war; for marauding
parties of both Persians and Russians (both equally to be feared)
had made their appearance, and molested the peaceable and inoffensive
inhabitants of ours and the neighbouring villages. This frontier
warfare, in its general results, was of no great utility to either
of the powers at war, yet to those who inhabited the seat of it, its
consequences were dreadful. We were continually harassed either by the
fears of the invading enemy, or by the exactions and molestations of the
troops of our own government. Our harvests were destroyed, our cattle
dispersed, and ourselves in constant danger of being carried away
prisoners. Anxious to preserve our property, and our only resource to
keep us from starvation, we continued to till our fields, but went to
work with swords by our sides, and guns ready loaded slung at our
backs; and when a stranger appeared, whoever he might be, we immediately
assembled and made a show of defence. By this means, for several years,
we managed, with great difficulty and perseverance, to get in our
harvest, and, by the blessing of Providence, had enough to subsist
upon. But here I must begin some of those particulars which relate to my
individual history.

‘About two years ago, when securing our harvest, I had gone out long
before the dawn to reap the corn of one of our most distant fields,
armed and prepared as usual. I perceived a Persian horseman, bearing
a female behind him, and making great speed through a glen that wound
nearly at the foot of a more elevated spot, upon which I was standing.
The female evidently had been placed there against her will, for as soon
as she perceived me she uttered loud shrieks, and extended her arms. I
immediately flew down the craggy side of the mountain, and reached the
lowermost part of the glen time enough to intercept the horseman’s road.
I called out to him to stop, and seconded my words by drawing my sword,
and putting myself in an attitude to seize his bridle as he passed.
Embarrassed by the burden behind him, he was unable either to use
his sword or the gun slung at his back, so he excited his horse to an
increased speed, hoping thus to ride over me; but I stood my ground, and
as I made a cut with my sabre, the horse bounded from the road with so
sudden a start that the frightened woman lost her hold and fell off.
The horseman, free of his incumbrance, would now have used his gun; but,
seeing mine already aimed at him, he thought it most prudent to continue
his road, and I saw nothing more of him.

‘I ran to the assistance of the fallen woman, whom by her dress, I
discovered to be an Armenian. She was stunned and severely bruised: her
outward veil had already disengaged itself, and in order to give her
air, I immediately pulled away the under veil, which hides the lower
part of the face (common to the Armenians), and, to my extreme surprise,
beheld the most beautiful features that imagination can conceive. The
lovely creature whom I supported in my arms was about fifteen years
of age. Oh! I shall never forget the thrill of love, delight, and
apprehension, which I felt at gazing upon her. I hung over her with all
the intenseness of a first passion; a feeling arose in my heart which
was new to me, and, forgetting everything but the object immediately
before me, I verily believe that I should have been for ever riveted to
that spot had she not opened her eyes and began to show signs of life.
The first words she spoke went to my very soul; but when she discovered
where she was, and in the hands of an utter stranger, she began to cry
and bewail herself in a manner that quite alarmed me. Little by little,
however, she became more composed; and when she found that I was one of
her own nation and religion, that I was, moreover, her deliverer, she
began to look upon me with different feelings: my vanity made me hope
that, perhaps, she was not displeased, at the interest she had awakened
in me. One thing, however, she did not cease to deplore, and to upbraid
me with,--I had withdrawn her veil;--there was no forgiveness for
me--that indulgence which even a husband scarcely ever enjoys, that
distinguishing emblem of chastity and honour, so sacred in the eyes of
an Armenian woman,--every sense of decency had been disregarded by me,
and I stood before her in the criminal character of one who had seen all
her face. In vain I represented, that had I not relieved her mouth and
nose from the pressure of the lower band, she must have suffocated; that
her fall having deprived her of all sensation, had she not inhaled the
fresh air, death would have been the consequence. Nothing would convince
her that she was not a lost woman. However, the following argument had
more effect upon her than any other; no one but myself was witness to
her dishonour (if such she must call it); and I swore so fervently by
the Holy Cross, and by St. Gregorio, that it should remain a profound
secret in my heart as long as I had one to keep it in, that she
permitted herself at length to be comforted. I then requested her to
give me an account of her late adventure, and to tell me from whom it
had been my good fortune to liberate her.

‘“As for the man,” said she, “all I know of him is, that he is a
Persian. I never saw him before, and know of no object that he could
have had in carrying me off, excepting to sell me for a slave. A few
days ago a skirmish took place between a detachment of Persian cavalry
and Georgians. The latter were driven back, and the Persians made
some prisoners, whom they carried away in great triumph to Erivan. Our
village had been occupied by the Persian troops some days before this
affray, and I suppose then my ravisher laid his plan to carry me off,
and make me pass for a Georgian prisoner. I had just got up in the
morning, and had gone to the village well with my pitcher to bring
home water, when he darted from behind a broken wall, showed his knife,
threatening to kill me if I did not follow him without noise, and made
me mount behind him on his horse. We galloped away just as some other
of the village maidens were proceeding to the well, and my only hope of
being saved was from the alarm which I knew they would instantly spread.
We were out of sight in a few minutes, for we rode furiously over
hill and dale, and cut across parts of the country unfrequented by
travellers. At length, seeing you on the brow of the hill, I took
courage, and gave vent to my cries, notwithstanding the threats of the
Persian. You know the rest.”

‘She had scarcely finished speaking when we discovered several persons,
one on horseback, the rest on foot, making towards us in great haste,
and as they approached and were recognized by my fair one, it was
delightful to watch her emotions.

‘“Oh! there is my father,” exclaimed she, “and my brothers! there is
Ovanes, and Agoop, and Aratoon! and my uncle too!”

‘As they came up, she embraced them all with transports of delight. I
was in agonies of apprehension lest some youth should appear, who might
have excited other feelings in her heart; but no, none but relations
were there. They explained to her that the alarm of her seizure had been
spread throughout the village by her young friends; that luckily they
had not yet gone to the fields, and the family horse was at home,
upon which her father was instantly mounted. They had traced the fresh
footsteps of her ravisher’s horse as long as he kept the road, had
marked the place where he turned from it, had seen them again in several
places, had tracked him through a corn-field that led up a steep slope,
and at length, from a high summit, Ovanes had seen them descending a
glen, which must have been very near the spot where they had now found

‘She said all this was true, and again thanked God and St. Gregory for
her escape; and, after some hesitation, in a most embarrassed manner,
pointed me out as her deliverer. The attention of the whole party was
then directed to me. “Whose son are you?” said the old man, her father.

‘“I am the son of Coja Petros,” said I, “the chief of the village of

‘“Ah! he is my friend and neighbour,” answered he; “but I do not know
you; perhaps you are the son who was educating at the Three Churches for
a priest, and who came to the help of your family?”

‘I answered in the affirmative, and then he said, “You are welcome. May
your house prosper! You have saved our daughter, and we owe you eternal
gratitude. You must come with us and be our guest. If ever it were
necessary to kill a lamb, to eat and be merry, it is now. We, and all
our families, will carry you upon our heads; we will kiss your feet, and
smooth your brow, for having saved our Mariam, and preserved her from
dragging out her existence the slave of the Mussulman.”

‘I then received the congratulations and kind speeches of her brothers
and uncle, who all invited me to their village in so pressing a manner,
that, unable to resist, and propelled by my anxiety to see Mariam, I
accepted their offer, and we forthwith proceeded in a body.

‘As we were winding down the side of one of the mountains, Mariam’s
village, for such I shall call it, was pointed out to me, situated among
trees, snugly seated in a warm nook, protected from every wind but
the east, which here coming from the _Kulzum_, or the Caspian Sea, is
delightfully cool and serene. Beyond was the Pembaki river, winding its
way through a beautiful valley, diversified by rich vegetation; and at
a greater distance we could just discern the church of Kara Klisseh, or
the Black Monastery, the first station of the Russians on this part
of their frontier, and situated on a dark and precipitous rock, rising
conspicuous among the verdure of the surrounding scenery.

‘When near the village we discovered that all its inhabitants,
particularly the women and children, had been watching our steps down
the slope, anxious to know whether Mariam had been retaken; and when
they saw her safe, there was no end to their expressions of joy. The
story of her flight and of her rescue was soon told, and carried
from one mouth to another with such rapidity and with such additional
circumstances, that at length it came out that she had been carried away
by a giant, who had an iron head, claws and feet of steel, and scales on
his back, mounted upon a beast that tore up the ground at every bound,
and made noises in its rapid course over the hills like the discharges
of artillery. They added to this, that of a sudden an angel, in the
shape of a ploughboy, descended from the top of a high mountain in a
cloud, and as he wielded a sword of fire in his hand, it frightened the
horse, threw Mariam to the ground, and reduced the giant and his steed
to ashes: for when she recovered from her fright, they were no longer to
be seen. I was pointed out as the illustrious ploughboy, and immediately
the attention of the whole village was turned towards me; but,
unfortunately, when about receiving nearly divine honours, a youth, whom
I had frequently met tending cattle in the mountains, recognized me,
and said, “He is no angel--he is Yûsûf, the son of Coja Petros, of
Gavmishlû”; and thus I was reduced to my mortality once more. However,
I was treated with the greatest distinction by everybody, and Mariam’s
relations could not sufficiently testify their gratitude for the service
I had rendered. But, all this time, love was making deep inroads in my
heart. I no longer saw Mariam unveiled, that happy moment of my life
had gone by; but it had put the seal to my future fate. “No,” said I
to myself, “nothing shall separate me from that beautiful maid;
our destinies forthwith are one; Heaven has miraculously brought us
together, and nothing but the decrees of Providence shall disunite us,
even though to gain her I should be obliged to adopt the violence of the
Persian, and carry her away by force.” We met now and then, Mariam and
I; and although our words were few, yet our eyes said much, and I knew
that my passion was returned. Oh, how I longed to have met and engaged
another, aye, twenty more Persians, to prove my love! but I recollected
that I was nothing but a poor Armenian, belonging to a degraded and
despised nation, and that the greatest feat which I could ever expect to
perform would be to keep the wolf from my father’s flocks, or to drive
the marauder from our fields.

‘I remained the whole of that eventful day at Geuklû (the name of the
village), where the promised lamb was killed, and a large cauldron of
rice boiled. I returned on the following day to my parents, who had been
alarmed at my absence, and who listened to the history of my adventures
with all the earnestness and interest that I could wish.

‘I was so entirely absorbed by my love, that I could think of nothing
else; therefore I determined to inform them of the situation of my
affections. “I am of an age now,” said I to them, “to think and act for
myself. Thanks to God, and to you, I have strong arms, and can work for
my bread; I wish to marry, and Providence has prepared the way for me.”

‘I then requested them forthwith to demand Mariam from her parents, in
order that I might make her my wife; and finished by kissing my father’s
hand, and embracing my mother.

‘They said in answer, “That marriage was a serious consideration in
these difficult times, and that the family was now too poor to incur the
expense of a wedding. It was necessary to buy clothes, a ring, candles,
sweetmeats, a crimson veil, bed and bed-covering, to pay the singers and
musicians, and to make a feast; and where was money to be found to meet
all this?”

‘I said, “’Tis true that money is wanted, and that no marriage can take
place without it, both for the honour of our family, and for the purpose
of showing my love to my intended; but I can borrow; I have friends both
at Erivan and at the Three Churches; and I think I could borrow enough
from the one and the other to pay the expenses of my wedding; and as for
repayment, I will work so laboriously, and live so frugally, that little
by little I shall pay off my debt. Besides, I can become the servant of
a merchant, who would give me a share in his adventures; and one journey
to Constantinople or to Astrachan would yield me enough profit to repay
every one with interest.”

‘In short, I said so much, that at length they were persuaded to make
the necessary overtures to the parents of Mariam; and it was fixed, that
in the course of a few days my father, my uncle the priest, and one
of the elders of the village should proceed to Geuklû, and ask her in
marriage for me. In the meanwhile, I myself had been there almost every
day, upon one pretext or another, and I had had several opportunities of
informing her of my intentions, in order that she and her family might
not be taken unawares.

‘My father and his colleagues were very well received by the parents of
my intended. Having talked over the matter, and seizing this opportunity
of drinking some more than usual glasses of arrack, they agreed that
we should be united as soon as the marriage-articles should have been
agreed upon, and the forms of the _nâm zed_ (the ceremony of betrothing)
should have been gone through.

‘Three days after this, my mother, accompanied by two old women of our
village, by my uncle the priest, and me, proceeded to Geuklû for the
purpose of the nâm zed, and settling the terms of the marriage. They
were received with more ceremony than my father and his colleagues had
been, and the women of the other party having met ours, negotiations
were opened.

‘My mother offered, on my part, that I should give of clothes to my
bride two full suits, consisting of two shifts, one of crimson silk, the
other of blue cotton; two pairs of trousers, one of silk, the other of
striped cotton; two _jubbehs_, or robes, fitting tight to the body, of
chintz; two veils, one of white cotton, the other of chequered blue; two
pair of slippers, one of green shagreen skin and high heels, the other
of brown leather, with flat bone heels and shod with iron; and I was
also to add a printed muslin handkerchief, and a set of bandages and
kerchiefs for the head. She moreover offered fifty piastres in silver
coin for minor expenses; and a chain for the neck, from which there
should be suspended one gold tomaun of Persia.

‘After some little consultation among the friends of my wife, this
was agreed upon; but one of the old women, who had been a servant in a
Persian family, started a demand which gave rise to some discussion; it
was, that I ought to give something for _sheer baha_, or milk money, as
is the custom throughout Persia. Our party said this was not usual among
the Armenians; the adverse party contended it was; in short, words were
running high, when I requested my mother not to make any difficulty,
but to offer ten piastres more; which being agreed upon, the whole was
amicably adjusted to the satisfaction of both parties.

‘This had taken place among the women alone. I was then called in, with
my uncle, to go through the ceremony, and strict injunctions were made
me not to laugh, nor even to smile, while it lasted; for ill luck would
attend the marriage if anything so indecorous took place at the first

‘I found my mother seated on the ground, flanked by her two old women,
opposite to my bride’s mother, supported by hers. Mariam entered at the
same moment, and my mother then presented her with a ring (a brass
one, alas!) from me, which she put on her finger, and then wine was
administered to the priest; of which, when he had taken a copious
draught, it was announced that we were betrothed man and wife, and we
received the congratulations of all those around us. I was delighted,
although prohibited from communicating with my intended; but went about
kissing everybody, and so many benedictions were showered upon us, that
perhaps no couple ever was so much blessed, by good wishes at least, as
we were.

‘My mother and her party having returned to our village, I proceeded to
make the preparations for my wedding with a light heart, regardless of
any event which might intervene to destroy it. When we came to discuss
the money it was likely to cost, and the means of obtaining it, I was
agreeably surprised to see my father walk into the room where the family
was assembled, with a bag in his hand. “Here,” said he, “here is money.
After all, the ked khoda of Gavmishlû can provide for his son as well
as the best in the country. Here, Yûsûf,” said he to me, “take these
ten tomauns, my son, and lay them out in the purchase of your wife’s

‘Upon which I knelt down, kissed his hand, and craved his blessing.

‘My uncle, the priest, warmed by this generosity, said, “And here,
nephew,--the church is poor indeed, and its ministers poorer,--but
here--take these twenty silver abassis, and expend them in tapers for
your wedding.” Others of those seated in the assembly also gave me
something; by which means, without being reduced to the necessity of
borrowing, I found my purse sufficiently well supplied to enable me to
make my purchases at once. I expressed my thanks to my benefactors; and
never before having had so much money in my possession, I scarcely knew
what countenance to keep. However, my impatience knew no bounds; I was
anxious to be already on my road to Erivan, where the clothes were to be
bought; for there was no place nearer than that city in which a bazaar
was to be found. But as I was ignorant of the arts of buying, and
particularly ill versed in women’s dresses, it was decided that my
mother should accompany me mounted on our ass, whilst I followed on
foot. She had an Armenian friend at Erivan, who would take us in for
a night or two; and as for sleeping on the road, we could take up our
abode in the tents of the wandering tribes, whose duties bind them to
hospitality towards the stranger.

‘We departed, she on the ass, I with my sword by my side, and my gun on
my shoulder; and followed by half the village, invoking good luck for

‘Having reached the heights of Aberan, we discovered an immense camp of
white tents; one of which, belonging to the chief, was of a magnificent
size. A horseman whom we met informed us that the serdar of Erivan was
encamped there with a considerable body of cavalry; and it was supposed
posted there to watch the motions of the Russians and Georgians, who,
it was expected, were likely soon to move their forces forwards to the
attack of Persia.

‘This intelligence gave us considerable alarm. My mother was for
returning home, and for putting off the wedding. Too much in love to
hearken to such a proposal, I urged her to travel more expeditiously,
that we might be back the sooner. We proceeded so far on the first day,
that I could see the smoke of Erivan in the distance. We passed the
night under a projecting rock, with the majestic mountain of Ararat in
full view; and did not fail to cross ourselves when we first came in
view of it, and of recommending ourselves to St. Gregorio, when we
composed ourselves to sleep. The wandering tribes had gone too far out
of our track for our purpose, therefore we did not think of seeking
their protection; but, refreshed with our night’s rest, we resumed our
journey early in the morning, and reached Erivan in safety.

‘My mother was received by her friend with kindness; and the day
after our arrival, they went to the bazaar to make purchases of the
wedding-clothes, whilst I roamed about, gaping at everything, and
listening to the speeches of those who were gathered together on the
market-place. Various were the rumours concerning the operations of the
serdar against the enemy. It was evident that some movement was likely
soon to take place, and an attack of an extraordinary nature to be made;
for the people at the arsenal, and powder works, had been more than
usually employed in making ready certain instruments of destruction,[75]
before unknown in Persia, and set on foot by Russian deserters
themselves. I was so entirely taken up by my own affairs, and by the
happiness in store for me, that this sort of intelligence passed by me
totally unheeded. It just struck me, that we might endeavour to secure
the protection of the serdar, through our chief at the Three Churches,
in case our village and its territory became the theatre of war; but
when I reflected upon the length of time it would take to make such a
deviation from our road, I abandoned the idea, and, in my impatience,
trusted to my own sword and musket as sufficient protection against all

‘My mother and I returned to our village by the same road we came, but
not with quite so much speed; for the ass was laden with our purchases,
and, in addition to my arms, I also carried a considerable share of the
burden. The serdar’s camp was still in the same place, and we passed on
without hindrance or any occurrence worth relating, until we reached the
high ground that overlooks Gavmishlû.

‘The sight of a tent first struck my mother, and she stopped.

‘“What is that, Yûsûf?” she cried out to me: “see, there is a tent.”

‘I, who had no thoughts in my head but those that concerned my wedding,
answered, “Yes, I see; perhaps they are making preparations for an
entertainment for us.”

‘“My husband’s beard with your entertainment!” exclaimed she; “what are
become of your wits? Either Russians or Persians are there, as sure as I
am a Christian; and in either case it is bad for us.”

‘We pushed on towards our dwelling with the greatest anxiety; and, as
we approached it, found that my mother had judged right. The village had
been just occupied by a small detachment of Russian infantry, composed
of fifty men, commanded by a _penjah bashi_, or a head of fifty, who,
it seems, formed the advanced posts of an army quartered at a day’s
distance from us. Every house in the village had been obliged to lodge
a certain number of men, and ours, as the best, and belonging to the
chief, was taken up by the captain.

‘You may conceive our consternation on finding this state of things;
and, in particular, how wretched I was from the apprehension that my
wedding must be put off to an indefinite time, when perhaps ruin would
have overwhelmed us, and left us naked and destitute fugitives. Oh! the
idea was too overwhelming, and I hastened to give vent to my feelings
to my friends at Geuklû, who perhaps might afford me some consolation.
Their village being considerably out of the track of the invaders, no
troops had yet made their appearance amongst them; but when they heard
what was passing on our side of the country, they immediately became
partakers of all our fears. I saw Mariam, dear child of nature! The
customs of our country did not permit us to converse openly; but love
is fertile in expedients, and we managed to pour out eternal vows of
constancy, and to swear upon the holy cross of our faith, that, happen
what might, we would ever be united.

‘These interviews happened frequently, and I became almost mad with rage
and disappointment that we could not marry. It was evident that some
terrible catastrophe must take place soon,--the armies might meet
from day to day, and then what would become of the rejoicings of
our wedding-day! To undertake the performance of a ceremony of such
importance, under these circumstances, would only be mocking Providence,
and preparing for ourselves a futurity of misfortune. However, I was
too much in love, and too impatient, not to have married under any
circumstances, therefore I only endured what I could not well resist.

‘However, a fortnight had elapsed since our return, and nothing had
happened. We were upon excellent terms with our guests the Russians,
and as they were quiet and inoffensive, infinitely more so than Persians
would have been under similar circumstances, we became very intimate.
They were Christians as well as we; they made the sign of the cross;
prayed at our church; ate pork and drank wine; all circumstances
producing great sympathy of feeling, and strengthening the bonds of
friendship between us. Their captain was a young man of great worth, and
of such unpresuming manners that he gave universal satisfaction. He kept
the strictest discipline among his troops, and was himself the soberest
of mankind. He was anxious to gain information concerning our manners
and customs, and encouraged us to converse with him upon everything
that interested our family. This brought on a full exposition of our
situation in regard to my wedding, to which he listened with a degree of
interest so great, as to make him my friend for life.

‘He said, “But why should it not take place now? There is nothing to
hinder it: we are here to protect you, and whatever we can give or lend,
I promise that I will procure. The Persians do not show the least sign
of moving, and our army must wait for reinforcements from Teflis before
it can advance farther; therefore you will have all the necessary time
to perform your ceremonies in quiet and happiness, and perhaps with more
splendour than if we had not been here.”

‘He, moreover, promised to make a present to the bride of some Georgian
gold lace, and to lend me his horse, a fine Karadaghi, which I might
mount on the occasion. He said so much, that he at length persuaded mine
and my bride’s relations not to defer the ceremony, and a day was
fixed. Had any other man pressed the business so much, and appeared so
personally interested in it, I should probably have been suspicious of
the purity of his intentions, and certain feelings of jealousy might
have arisen; but the captain was so ugly, so hideously ugly, so
opposite to what passes for beauty amongst us, that I could have no fear
concerning Mariam on his account; for if she could notice him, she could
with the same facility become enamoured of an ape. His face was composed
of a white leprous skin, with a head covered by hair, or rather quills,
thrown about in a variety of stiff lines, of the colour of straw; his
eyes were round holes scooped deep in their sockets, and situated behind
small hillocks of cheekbones; his nose was marked by a little bit of
flesh, under which were pierced two holes as if with an awl, and his
chin, as lucid as glass, did not show the smallest appearance of hair.
A little down grew upon his upper lip, which for length and prominence
quite outdid its fellow; and this indication of a man was as carefully
kept greased and blacked as a pair of immense boots in which his legs
were always cased.

‘“No,” said I, to myself, “Mariam would sooner love her Persian giant
than this creature; and when she comes to compare him to her intended
(looking over myself at the same time with some complacency), I flatter
myself that I may lay my jealous fears aside.”

‘And thus it was settled that I should wed. The evening before the
wedding-day, the clothes and other articles, placed in trays borne upon
men’s heads, and preceded by singers and musicians (of which some are to
be found in every village), were sent to my bride. My band consisted
of a man who played on the _zourna_, or hautbois, a performer on the
tambourine, and two who sang. As a mark of additional splendour, our
Russian friends lent us a drum, the beating of which by one of our
shepherd boys produced great effect all over the country. I followed my
present a few hours after, for the purpose of receiving the one which
my bride, according to custom, was to make me; consisting of a pair of
brass mounted pistols, made in the Caucasus, which had belonged to a
great uncle of hers, who had been a soldier in the troops of the Wali of
Georgia, before the Russians had got possession of that country.

‘On the following day, the day of my long-expected happiness, I and
all my family arose betimes in the morning. The weather was serene but
sultry; there had been a tendency to storm for several days before, and
heavy clouds stood in threatening attitudes with their white heads in
the horizon. But nature was beautiful, and refreshed by a shower that
had fallen in the night. My friend, the captain, lent me his horse,
which I caparisoned and ornamented as well as I could on the occasion.
I myself put on a new suit of clothes from head to foot, and with the
addition of many silver-studded belts, cartouche-boxes, daggers, and
other appendages fastened about me, and which had been lent me by a
Georgian in the service of the Russians, I was told, and I believe
it, that I made a very handsome appearance. Accompanied by my male
relations, the Russian captain, and as many of his men as could
be spared in order to create a crowd, we proceeded to Geuklû, and
approaching it, marshalled ourselves in procession, preceded by music,
songs, and shouts. We alighted at my bride’s house, where we partook of
refreshments, and received the congratulations of all the village; and
then, when everything was prepared for our return to Gavmishlû, where my
uncle was to perform the ceremony, we mounted again. My bride, covered
by a crimson veil from head to foot, which flowed over a flat platter
placed on her crown, was mounted on her father’s steed, led on either
side by her brothers. It is the custom for the bridegroom to hold a
sash or girdle by his right hand, which is held at the other end by the
bride, on their way to the church, and this we did. All our friends, our
relations, all the youth of the villages, some on foot, some on asses,
others on horses, accompanied the procession, making shouts, and
manifesting their joy by all sorts of games and jokes during the whole
course of the march. When at length we had reached a small rising ground
overlooking my village the procession stopped, and every one who had
a part to act in the ceremony received a taper, which was forthwith
lighted. The procession then moved on with slow and measured steps,
headed by my uncle, who, assisted by my other uncle from the Three
Churches, sang psalms as they walked forward, amidst all the noise of
the surrounding lookers-on. The Russian captain had had the attention
to dress his men up on the occasion, and they marched to the church with
us, adding much to the dignity of the scene.

‘We at length alighted at the door of the church, and, still holding
each end of the girdle, my bride and I walked to the foot of the altar,
which, notwithstanding our humble condition, had been ornamented with
more than ordinary brilliancy by flowers, ribbons, and looking-glasses.
My forehead was then placed against Mariam’s in a sort of butting
attitude, and the Bible opened and laid upon our heads, whilst her hand
was given into mine. The priest then asked, if we agreed to take each
other for husband and wife; and after we had made an inclination of our
heads as marking our consent, and a suitable proportion of prayers had
been read and chanted, the ceremony was at an end, and notified to all
the world by the shouts of the multitude, and by the redoubled sounds of
our drums, flutes, and tambours.

‘Daylight by this time had entirely disappeared, and the weather, which
had threatened a storm, now became very lowering. The sky was darkened,
rain fell, and distant thunders were heard. This circumstance put an end
to the entertainment given by my father earlier than it otherwise would
have done; and when our guests had retired, the hour at length arrived
which was to make me the happiest of men.

‘Oh, shall I stop here to recollect all the horrors of that night,
or shall I pass on, and not distress you by relating them? You must
conceive my bride lovely as the morning star, innocent as an angel, and
attached to me by the purest love; and you may imagine what I felt at
that moment,--I who had looked upon our union as impossible, and had
thought of my awaiting happiness as a bright spot in my existence, to
which I expected never to attain.

‘But in order to give a right impression of the scene which I am about
to describe, you must know that the villages in Georgia, and in our part
of Armenia, are built partly under ground, and thus a stranger finds
himself walking on the roof of a house when he thinks that he is on
plain ground, the greatest part of them being lighted by apertures at
the top. Such was the house in which my family lived, and in which my
wedding was celebrated. My nuptial chamber had one of these apertures,
which had been closed on the occasion, and was situated with its door
leading at once into the open air.

‘It is the custom among the Armenians for the bridegroom to retire
first. His shoes and stockings are then taken off by his wife; and,
before she resigns her veil, has the task of extinguishing the light.
The storm had just broke,--thunders were rolling over our heads,--the
lightning flashed,--torrents of rain were pouring down with fearful
noise,--there seemed to be a general commotion of the elements, when my
Mariam, unveiling herself, extinguished the lamp. She had scarcely laid
herself down, when we heard an unusual violent noise at the aperture in
the ceiling: sounds of men’s voices were mingled with the crash of the
thunder; trampling of horses was also distinctly heard; and presently we
were alarmed by a heavy noise of something having fallen in our room and
near our bed, accompanied by a glare and a smell of sulphur.

‘“’Tis a thunderbolt, by all that is sacred! Oh heaven protect us!”
cried I. “Fly, my soul, my wife, escape!”

‘She had just time to snatch up her veil, and to get without the door,
when an explosion took place in the very room, so awful, so tremendous,
that I immediately thought myself transported to the regions of the
damned. I fell senseless, amidst the wreck of falling stones, plaster;
and furniture. All I can recollect is, that an immense blaze of light
was succeeded by an overpowering sulphureous smell,--then a dead

‘I lay there for some time, unconscious of what was passing; but by
degrees came to myself, and when I found that I could move my limbs, and
that nothing about my person was materially hurt, I began to consider
how I had got there. As for my wedding, that appeared to me a dream:
all I heard about me now was the firing of muskets, loud and frequent
explosions, cries and shouts of men,--of men wounded and in pain,--of
men attacking and putting others to death,--the tramplings of horses,
the clashing of arms. “What, in the name of Heaven, can all this be?”
said I. I still thought myself transported into another planet, when the
shriek of a woman struck my ear. “It is Mariam! It is she, by all
that is sacred! Where, where, shall I seek her?” I was roused: I
disencumbered myself of the weight of rubbish that had fallen upon me,
and, once upon my legs again, I sallied forth in search of her. The
scene which presented itself was more terrible than language can
express; for the first object which struck my sight was a Persian
rushing by me, with a drawn sword in one hand, and a human head,
dripping with blood, in another. The blackness of the night was lighted
up at rapid intervals by vivid flashes of lightning, which, quick as
the eye could glance, now discovered the hideous tragedy that was then
acting, and now threw it again into darkness, leaving the imagination
to fill up the rest. By one flash, I saw Persians with uplifted swords,
attacking defenceless Russians, rushing from their beds: by another,
the poor villagers were discovered flying from their smoking cottages
in utter dismay. Then an immense explosion took place, which shook
everything around.[76] The village cattle, loosened from their
confinements, ran about in wild confusion, and mixed themselves with the
horrors of the night: in short, my words fall short of any description
that could be made of this awful scene of devastation; and I must bless
the mercy of that Almighty hand which hath spared me in the destruction
that surrounded me.

‘I knew not where to turn myself to seek for my wife. I had heard her
shrieks; and the shivering of despair came over me, when I thought
it might have been her death groans which had struck my ears. I threw
myself into the midst of the carnage, and, armed with a firebrand,
snatched from my burning nuptial chamber, I made my way through the
combatants, more like a maniac at the height of his frenzy, than a
bridegroom on his wedding-night. Getting into the skirts of the village
again, I thought I heard the shrieks of my beloved. I ran towards the
direction, and a flash of lightning, that glanced over the adjoining
hill, showed me two horsemen making off with a woman, whose white
veil was conspicuously seen, mounted behind one of them. Heedless of
everything but my wife, I followed them with the swiftness of a mountain
goat; but as the storm subsided, the lightning flashed no more, and I
was left in utter darkness at the top of the hill, not knowing which
path to take, and whether to proceed or not. I was almost naked. I
had been severely bruised. My feet, otherwise accustomed to the naked
ground, had become quite lacerated by the pursuit I had undertaken; and
altogether, I was so worn with grief, so broken-hearted, that I
laid myself down on the wet earth in a state of desperation that was
succeeded by a torpor of all my senses. Here I lay until the first rays
of the morning glared in my eyes, and brought me gradually to a sense of
my situation.

‘“What has happened?” said I. “Where am I? How came I here? Either the
demons and wicked angels of another world have been at work this night,
or else I am most grossly abused. To see that glorious orb rising in
that clear unclouded sky; to mark the soothing serenity of nature, the
morning freshness, the song of the birds, the lowing of yon cattle,
and the quiet and seclusion of my yonder paternal village, I ought to
suppose that the images of horror, of indescribable horror, now floating
in my mind, must be those of a diseased imagination. Is it possible
that in this secluded spot, under this lovely sky, in the midst of these
bounteous gifts of nature, I could have seen man murdering his fellow
creature, the blazing cottage, the mangled corse, the bleeding head;
and, O cruel, O killing thought, that I should have been bereft of my
dear, my innocent wife?” and then, then only, was I restored to a full
possession of every occurrence that had taken place; and tears which
before had refused to flow now came to my assistance, and relieved my
burning temples and my almost suffocating bosom. I got up, and walked
slowly to the village. All was hushed into quiet; a slight smoke was
here and there to be seen; stray cattle were grazing on the outskirts;
strangers on horseback seemed to be busily employed in preparations
of some kind or other, and the wretched peasantry were seen huddled
together in groups, scarcely awake from the suddenness of the
destruction which had visited them, and uncertain of the fate which
might still be in reserve. As for me, the loss which I had already
sustained made me expect every other attendant misfortune. I had made my
mind up to find my relations dead, to see the total ruin of our house,
and to know that I was a solitary outcast on the face of the world,
without a wife, without a home, without parents, without a friend. But
no, imagination had worked up the picture too highly; for one of the
first persons I met on entering our village was my poor mother, who,
when she saw me, recollecting all the trouble she had been at to secure
my happiness, fell on my neck, and shed a torrent of tears. When her
first grief had subsided, she told me that my father had suffered much
from bruises, and from a blow received on the head; but that the rest of
the family were well; that our house had been considerably injured, many
of our things pillaged; and that my nuptial room, in particular, had
been almost totally destroyed. She informed me that the good Russian
captain had been the first to fall a sacrifice to the attack of the
Persians; for almost immediately after the explosion in my room, he had
rushed out to see what had happened, when two Persians seized him, one
of whom at once decapitated him: this was the head that I saw brandished
before me, when first I sallied forth. She then took me to a place of
shelter, and put on me what clothes could be found.

‘The Persians, having completed their deeds of horror, had retired from
the scene of action, leaving to our unfortunate villagers the melancholy
task of burying the dead bodies of thirty wretched Russians, who had
fallen victims to their treacherous attack, and whose heads they had
carried off with them as trophies.

‘After I had visited my father, and left my home in as comfortable a
situation as I could, under the existing circumstances, I determined
instantly to set out in pursuit of my wife. It was evident that she had
been carried away by some of those who had attacked our village, and
that she must have been taken to Erivan, as the nearest market for
slaves, for such was no doubt the purpose for which she had been seized.
My sword, pistols, and gun, which had formed part of the ornamental
furniture of my bridal chamber, were found buried in its ruins, and with
these for my protection, and with some pieces of silver in my purse, I
bid adieu to Gavmishlû, making a vow never to return until I had found
my Mariam.

‘I travelled with hurried steps, taking the shortest cuts over the
mountains to Erivan, and as I crossed a branch of the high road I met
two horsemen, well-mounted and equipped, who stopped me, and asked
whither I was going, and upon what errand.

‘I did not hesitate to tell them my wretched tale, hoping they might
give me some hint which might throw light upon the fate of my wife. This
they did indeed, but in a manner so cruel, that their words awakened the
most horrid suspicions, and almost to a certainty convinced me that my
poor innocent, my hitherto unspotted, though wedded wife, had fallen
into the power of a most licentious tyrant.

‘“Is it possible,” said I, when they had related to me the horrid
expedients to which their chief, the serdar (for it was to two of his
bodyguard that I was talking), had recourse, for the accomplishment of
his wickedness,--“is it possible that selfishness can be carried to such
an extreme, that vice can have reached to such a pitch in the heart of
man? Women, by you Mussulmans, I know are treated as mere accessories
to pleasure; but, after all, they are God’s creatures, not made for the
serdar alone, as he seems to think, but given to us to be our help, our
comfort, and our companions through life.”

‘My hearers only laughed at my sentiments, and tauntingly assured me,
that, if I was seeking one who had got into the serdar’s harem, my
labour would be in vain, and that I might just take the trouble to
return whence I came.

‘Little heeding what they said, I hastened my steps, without knowing why
or wherefore; but impelled by a sort of feeling, that it could not be
in the wisdom of the Almighty to heap such a load of misfortune upon a
wretched sinner like me, without at length giving some counterbalancing
reward, or some consolation which it is ever in His power to bestow.

‘I was now near the camp at Aberan, where I knew the serdar in person
was settled, and, hoping to hear some favourable intelligence, I made
towards it. It was greatly agitated by the arrival of the detachment
of Persians who had attacked our village, and were giving proofs of the
success of their enterprise, by exhibiting the Russian heads which they
had brought away, and which were laid in several heaps before the tent
of the chief. One might have supposed that a great and signal victory
had been achieved, such were the rejoicings and boastings that took
place at the sight. The horrid objects were forthwith salted, and sent
off in great parade and ceremony to the Shah of Persia, who never will
believe that a victory is gained until he sees these palpable proofs of
it. However, in the midst of all this joy, a courier was seen arriving
in great haste from the Russian frontier, whose intelligence produced a
change of scene. He announced that the Russian army, having heard of
the late attack upon their outpost at Gavmishlû, was now in full march
against the serdar, and coming on so rapidly, that he must expect to
be attacked even before night-close. The scene that ensued defies all
description. The whole camp was ordered to be struck, and an immediate
retreat was commanded. Tents falling, mules loading, men screaming;
horses, camels, men, cannon, all were in motion at one time; and before
two hours had elapsed, the whole had disappeared, and the army was on
its march for Erivan.

‘I had in the meanwhile received no account of my lost Mariam; and it
was plain that, if in the power of the serdar, she was within the walls
of his seraglio at Erivan. Thither then I bent my steps, hoping that in
this great confusion something might turn up for my advantage.

‘Upon my arrival there, I posted myself at the bridge over the Zengui,
from whence I had a full survey of that part of the serdar’s palace
which contains his women; and as the troops were crossing it at the same
time in constant succession, I was unnoticed, and passed for one of the
camp followers. The building is situated upon the brink of a precipice
of dark rock, at the foot of which flows the Zengui, a clear and rapid
stream, foaming through a rocky bed, the stony projections of which form
white eddies, and increase the rush of its waters. A bridge of three
arches is here thrown over it, and forms part of the high road leading
to Georgia and Turkey. The principal saloon of the palace, in a corner
of which the serdar is usually seated, opens with a large casement on
the river, and overlooks the rugged scenery. At some distance on the
same surface of building are the windows of the women’s apartments,
distinguished by their lattices, and by other contrivances of jealousy.
However, I observed they were not so well secured, but that objects
passing and repassing the bridge might well be seen from them; and I
imagined that if Mariam was a prisoner there, she might perchance make
me out as I stood below. “But if she did, what then?” said I to myself
in despair: “seeing me there would only add to her torture, and to my
desperation.” To escape from such a height appeared impossible, for a
fall would be instant death; and excepting a willow tree, which grew out
of the rock immediately under one of the windows, there was nothing
to break the descent. However, having remained in one spot so long in
meditation, I feared to be observed; and left my post for the present,
determining to return to it at the close of day, and indeed at every
hour when I could appear without suspicion.

[Illustration: ‘I beheld her fair form in the air, falling down the
giddy height.’ 19.jpg]

‘I had been watching the windows of the seraglio in this manner for more
than a fortnight, and had not ceased to parade up and down the bridge at
least three times every day, when one evening, as the day was about to
close, I saw the lattice of the window over the willow tree open, and
a female looking out of it. I watched her with breathless suspense. She
appeared to recognize me. I extended my hand; she stretched forth hers.
“It is she!” said I; “yes, it must be her! It is my Mariam!” Upon which,
without a moment’s hesitation, without thinking of the consequences, I
plunged into the river, and having waded through it, stood at the foot
of the precipice immediately under my beloved wife. She stretched her
arms several times towards me, as if she would have thrown herself out.
I almost screamed with apprehension; and yet the hope of pressing her
to my heart made me half regret that she had not done so. We stood there
looking wistfully at each other, fearing to speak, yet longing to do so.
At length, she shut the lattice suddenly, and left me in an attitude
and in all the horrors of suspense. I kept my post for some time without
seeing anything more of her, when again suddenly the lattice opened, and
she appeared, but with looks that spoke of intense agitation. I scarcely
could tell what was about to happen, but waited in dreadful anxiety,
until I saw her lean forward, retreat, lean forward again--then more
and more, until, by a sudden effort, I beheld her fair form in the air,
falling down the giddy height.[77] My legs refused to perform their
office, my eyes were obscured by a swimming, and I should have
probably sunk under the intenseness of my feelings, when I saw her half
suspended, half falling, from a branch of the willow tree. I bounded up,
and in an instant had mounted the tree, and had clasped her senseless
in my arms. I seemed to be impelled by new vigour and strength; to reach
the ground, to recross the river, to fly with my precious burden from
the inhabited outskirts into the open country, appeared but the business
of a second. I was perfectly drunk with the thousand feelings which
agitated me; and although I acted like one bereft of his senses, yet
everything I did was precisely that which I ought to have done. Nature
guided me: the animal acting only from instinct would have done like me.
I had saved that which was most precious to me in this world.

‘When I had worn out my first efforts of strength, and had felt that my
hitherto senseless burden showed some symptoms of life, I stopped,
and placed her quietly on the ground behind some broken walls. She was
terribly bruised, although no bone had been broken. The branches of the
tree, upon which she had alighted, had wounded her deeply in several
places, and the blood had flowed very copiously. But she was alive; she
breathed; she opened her eyes, and at length pronounced my name. I was
almost crazy with joy, and embraced her with a fervour that amounted to
madness. When she had reposed herself a little, I snatched her up
again, and proceeded onwards with all the haste imaginable, in the
determination to strike at once into the mountains; but recollecting
that I had the river of Ashtarek to cross, and that with her in my arms
it would be impossible to do so except by the bridge, I at once directed
my steps thither.

‘We were reposing at the foot of the bridge, when I heard the footsteps
of your horses. Although nearly exhausted with my previous exertions, I
still had strength enough left to clamber up the bank, and take refuge
in the ruined church, where you first discovered us; and there I watched
your motions with the greatest anxiety, concluding that you were a party
sent in pursuit of us by the serdar. Need I say after this, that if you
will protect us, and permit us to seek our home, you will receive the
overflowing gratitude of two thankful hearts, and the blessings of many
now wretched people who by our return will be made supremely happy?
Whoever you are, upon whatever errand you may be sent, you cannot have
lost the feelings of a man. God will repay your kindness a thousand
times; and although we are not of your faith and nation, still we have
prayers to put up at the Throne of Grace, which must be received when
they are employed in so good a cause.’


Sequel of the foregoing history, and of the resolution which Hajji Baba
takes in consequence.

The Armenian youth here finished his narrative, and left me in
astonishment and admiration at all he had related. With my permission
he then quitted me to visit his wife, and promised to return immediately
with the report of her present state, and how she felt after her repose.

‘He surely cannot have been inventing lies to my face all this time,’
said I when left to myself, ‘for a bleeding woman is here in evidence
to corroborate what he has advanced; but then should I permit him to
proceed, and the serdar was to hear that I had done so, what would
become of me? I should certainly lose my place, and perhaps my ears.
No; compassion does not suit me; for if it did, I ought not to remain a
nasakchi. I will stick to what the sage Locman, I believe, once said
on this occasion, which runs something to this purpose: “If you are a
tiger, be one altogether; for then the other beasts will know what to
trust to: but if you wear a tiger’s skin, and long ears are discovered
to be concealed therein, they will then treat you even worse than if you
walked about in your own true character, an undisguised ass.”’

I kept turning over in my mind whether I should release him or not; and
was fluctuating in great perplexity between the ass and the tiger, when
Yûsûf returned. He told me that his Mariam was considerably refreshed by
repose; but, weak from loss of blood, and stiff by the violence of the
contusions which she had received (in particular, one upon her leg,
which was of consequence), it would be impossible for her to move for
several days; ‘except indeed we were pursued by the serdar,’ added he,
‘when I believe nothing but force could hinder us from proceeding.’ He
said that not until now had she found strength enough to relate her own
adventures from the time she had left him at Gavmishlû.

It appears that the instant she had darted from the nuptial chamber,
only covered by her veil, she had been seized by a Persian, who,
discovering by the glare of the lightning that she was young and
handsome, ran off with her to some distance, and there detained her
until, with the assistance of another, she was mounted on a horse and
taken forcibly away; that these two men carried her straight to the camp
at Aberan, and offered her for sale to the serdar; who, having agreed
to take her, ordered her to be conducted to his seraglio at Erivan, and
there put into service; that the horrid plight in which she stood, when
exhibited to the serdar, her disfigured looks, and her weak and drooping
state, made her hope that she would remain unnoticed and neglected;
particularly when she heard what was his character, and to what extent
he carried his cruelties on the unfortunate victims of his selfishness.
Mariam, alluding to herself, then said, ‘Hoping, by always talking of
myself as a married woman, that I should meet with more respect in
the house of a Mussulman, than if I were otherwise, I never lost an
opportunity of putting my husband’s name forward, and this succeeded,
for little or no notice was taken of me, and I was confounded with the
other slaves, and performed the different tasks of servitude which
were set me. But, unfortunately, I did not long keep my own counsel;
I confided my story to a Persian woman, who pretended to be my friend;
hoping by that means to soften her heart so much as to induce her to
help me in regaining my freedom; but she proved treacherous; she made a
merit of relating it to the serdar, who immediately forced me to confirm
her words with my own lips, and then the extent of my imprudence became
manifest. He announced his intention to avail himself of my situation,
and ordered me to prepare for receiving him. Conceive then what were the
horrors of my position. I turned over in my mind every means of escape,
but all avenues to it were shut. I had never before thought of looking
over the precipice upon which the windows of our prison opened; but now
I seriously thought of precipitating myself, rather than submit to the
tyrant. But a few hours after I had had the blessing to discover you on
the bridge, I had been ordered to hold myself in readiness to receive
him; and it was then that I had positively determined in my own mind to
throw myself headlong out, either once more to bejoined to you, or to
die in the attempt. When I shut the lattices in haste, several women
had just come into the room to conduct me to the hot bath previously to
being dressed; and when I had made some excuse for delaying it, and
had sent them out of the room, it was then that I opened the lattice a
second time, and put my resolution into practice.’

Yûsûf having finished the recital of his and his wife’s adventures, was
very anxious to know what part I would take, and earnestly entreated me
to befriend him by my advice and assistance. The morning was far spent.
My men were already mounted, and ready to proceed on our reconnoitring
expedition, and my horse was waiting for me, when a thought struck me,
which would settle every difficulty with regard to the young Armenian
and his wife.

I called him to me, and said, ‘After what you have related, it will be
impossible to leave you at liberty. You have, by your own account, run
off with a woman from the serdar’s seraglio, a crime which you perhaps
do not know, in a Mussulman country, is punished with death, so sacred
is the harem held in our estimation. If I were to act right, I ought not
to lose a moment in sending you both back to Erivan; but that I will
not do, provided you agree to join us in our present expedition, and to
serve us as guide in those parts of the country with which you are best
acquainted.’ I then explained to him the nature of my office, and what
was the object of the expedition.

‘If you are zealous in our cause,’ said I, ‘you will then have performed
a service which will entitle you to reward, and thus enable me to speak
in your favour to the serdar and to my chief, and, _Inshallah!_ please
God, to procure your release. In the meanwhile, your wife may remain
here, in all safety, in the hands of the good folks of this village; and
by the time we return, she will, I hope, have been restored to health.’

The youth, upon hearing this language, took my hand and kissed it,
agreed to everything I had said, and having girt on his arms, he was
ready to attend us. I permitted him to go to his wife, to give her an
account of this arrangement, and to console her, with proper assurances,
that they would soon be restored to each other. He again thanked me;
and, with the agility of an antelope, had already gained the summit of
the first hill before we had even begun to ascend it.


The Armenian Yûsûf proves himself worthy of Hajji Baba’s confidence.

We proceeded towards the Georgian frontier, shaping our track over
unfrequented parts of the mountains, in which we were very materially
assisted by Yûsûf, who appeared to be acquainted with every landmark,
and who knew the directions of places with a precision that quite
surprised us. He did not seem anxious to visit his own village; and, in
fact, he assured me, that had he even permission so to do, he could not,
because he felt himself bound by the oath which he had taken upon last
quitting it, not to return, except accompanied by his wife.

The intelligence which had been brought to the serdar of the advance of
the Moscovites proved false, for we found them posted on the banks of
the Pembaki river, occupying the village of Hamamlû, and fortifying
themselves in Karaklisseh. We were not far from the former place; and as
we approached it, I became anxious to acquire some precise intelligence
concerning the numbers and the dispositions of the enemy. A thought
struck me, as I pondered over the fate of my Armenian protégé--‘I will
either save this youth or lose him,’ thought I, ‘and never was there
a better opportunity than the present. He shall go to Hamamlû: if
he brings me the intelligence we want, nothing can prevent me from
procuring both his pardon and his wife for him--if he proves a traitor,
I get rid of him, and demand a reward from the serdar, for restoring his
fugitive slave.’

I called him to me, and proposed the undertaking. Quicker than thought,
he seized all the different bearings of the question, and without
hesitation accepted of my proposal. He girt himself afresh, he tucked
the skirts of his coats into his girdle, putting his cap on one side,
and slinging his long gun at his back, he darted down the mountain’s
side, and we very soon lost him amid the sloping woods.

‘_Ruft ke ruft._ He is gone and doubly gone,’ said the young delikhan;
‘we shall never see him again.’

‘And why should he not return?’ said I. ‘Have we not got a hostage?
Armenian though he is, he will not leave his wife.’

‘Yes,’ said the youth, ‘he is an Armenian; but he is also an Isauvi (a
Christian). The Russians too are Isauvis; and we all know, that when
these infidels get together, they will rather die than return to the
sons of Islam. No; were he the chaste Joseph himself, and his wife
Zuleikha in person, I will bet this horse,’ pointing to the beast under
him, ‘that we see him no more.’

‘Do not coin false words, my little gentleman!’ said a sturdy old
cavalier, whose sunburnt face was harrowed by a thousand wrinkles, and
shaded by a shaggy beard, mustachios, and eyebrows:--‘why, without any
use, do you eat dirt? The horse is the Shah’s, not yours: and do you
pretend to make the _bahs_ (bets) upon it?’

‘The Shah’s property is mine, and mine is my own,’ retorted the youth.

I and my party kept up this sort of desultory talk for a little while
before we thought of settling ourselves, when, seeing a spot where
there was much grass, we made for it, and dismounted from our horses.
We dispersed ourselves here and there, each making a temporary
establishment of horse-cloths and cloaks spread upon the ground, whilst
our steeds, picketed among the grass, fed at pleasure. I announced my
intention of passing the night here in case Yûsûf did not appear before
its close; and preparatory to this, two of our best marauders set off
in quest of a sheep, fowls, or anything they could get for our evening’s
meal. After an hour’s absence, they returned with a sheep which they had
seized from a flock grazing in the neighbourhood of the river. It was
soon killed, and preparations were made for roasting it. Two stakes with
hooks at the top were cut from the forest and stuck into the ground;
then a long stick was passed through the animal in lieu of a spit, and
placed on the hooks. A fire having been lighted, one of our men was
stationed near it to turn the animal at intervals; and it was not long
before it was ready for eating. By way of variety, some of the prime
bits, with the fat of the tail, were cut off, spitted upon a ramrod, and
thus roasted. The sheep was served up on its stake, and our party fell
upon it with an intense appetite, whilst, by way of distinction, the
ramrod was handed over to me for my share.

By this time the day had entirely closed in, and Yûsûf had not appeared.
We then composed ourselves to sleep, leaving one or two to keep watch
and to attend upon the horses. About an hour after midnight, when
the moon was about going down, a distant shout was heard--presently a
second, more distinctly and nearer to us. We were immediately upon the
alert, and the shouts being repeated, we could no longer doubt but that
the Armenian was at hand. We then shouted in return, and not very long
after we saw him appear. He was almost exhausted with fatigue, but still
strong enough to be able to relate his adventures since he had left us.

He informed me that having reached Hamamlû, he was recognized by some of
the Russian soldiers who had escaped the attack of the Persians upon his
village, and who immediately introduced him into the fort, and treated
him very kindly. He was taken before the commanding officer, who
questioned him narrowly upon the object of his visit; but the ready
pretext which he advanced, of seeking his wife, answered every
difficulty; besides which, the ruin of his village, the destruction of
his family property, and the acquaintances which he had on the spot,
furnished him with so much matter of conversation, that no suspicion of
his designs could be entertained. He was then permitted to walk about
the fort, and by asking his questions with prudence, and making his own
observations, as enabled to furnish me with the information I required
on the strength and position of the enemy, with some very good
conjectures on the nature and probability of their future operations. He
then managed to slip away unperceived before the gates of the place were
closed, and regained the mountains without the smallest impediment.

Having permitted Yûsûf to refresh himself with food and rest, and being
now perfectly satisfied that his story was true, and that all confidence
might be placed in his integrity, I ordered my party to hold themselves
in readiness to return to Erivan. He was permitted to ride behind either
of the horsemen when tired with walking, and in this manner, taking the
shortest cuts over the mountains, we regained the village of Ashtarek.
Whilst we stopped here to refresh ourselves and horses, and to gain
intelligence of the movements of the serdar and the chief executioner, I
permitted the youth to visit his wife. He returned beaming with joy, for
he had found her almost cured of her bruises, and full of thanks for the
kindness and hospitality with which she had been treated.

The serdar and the chief executioner had moved from Erivan, and were now
encamped close to the residence of the Armenian patriarch; and thither
we bent our steps, accompanied by Yûsûf.


Hajji Baba gives an account of his proceedings to his superiors, and
shows himself a friend to the distressed.

The monastery of Etchmiazin, so called in the Armenian tongue, or Utch
Klisseh, or the Three Churches, by the Turks and Persians, is situated
in a large and well-cultivated plain, watered by the Araxes, and several
smaller streams. It stands at the foot of the high mountain of Agri
Dagh, which the Christians, and in particular the Armenians, hold in
great veneration, because (so Yûsûf informed me) upon its conspicuous
snow-capt summit the ark of Noah rested. The monastery and church,
celebrated throughout Asia for the riches which they contain, are
enclosed within high walls, and secured by strong and massive gates.
It is here that the head of the Armenian church constantly resides,
together with a large retinue of bishops, priests, and deacons, who form
the stock which provides clergy for most of the Armenian churches in
Asia. The title by which he is known in Persia is _khalifeh_ or caliph,
a designation which, comprising the head of the civil as well as the
religious government, the Mussulmans used formerly to bestow on
the sovereigns who held their sway at Bagdad and elsewhere. By the
Christians he is generally known by the name of patriarch, and his
church is an object of pilgrimage for the Armenians, who flock there at
particular seasons in great numbers from different parts of the world.

Hither we bent our steps. We discovered the united camps of the serdar
and the chief executioner, spreading their white tents in an irregular
figure all round the monastery; and before we had reached its walls, we
heard that the two chiefs had taken up their abode within it, and were
the guests of the caliph.

‘We’ll burn the fathers of these _giaours_’ (infidels), said the young
delikhan, as he rode up to me in great joy at this intelligence; ‘and
will make up for the fatigues we have undergone, by drinking abundantly
of their wine.’

‘Are you a Mussulman,’ said I, ‘and talk of drinking wine? You yourself
will become a giaour.’

‘Oh, as for that,’ answered he, ‘the serdar drinks wine like any
Christian, and I do not see why I should not.’

As we approached the monastery, I called Yûsûf to me, and told him to
be in readiness whenever he should be called for, and be prepared
to confirm any oath that I might think it necessary to take for his
interests. He was particularly enjoined, when he came to talk of the
services he had rendered, to deviate from the truth as much as he chose,
to set forth every sort of danger he had or had not incurred, and in
particular to score up an account of sums expended, all for the use and
advantage of the serdar and of the Shah’s government. ‘I hope at that
rate,’ said I to him, ‘your accounts may be balanced by having your wife
restored to you; for which, after considerable difficulty, you may agree
to give a receipt in full of all demands.’

Thus agreed, we passed through the heavy archway which leads into the
first court of the monastery. This we found encumbered by the equipages
and servants of the serdar and the chief executioner. Here and there
were strings of horses picketed by ropes and pegs, with their grooms
established in different corners among their saddles and horse
furniture; and a corner was taken up by a set of mules, distinguished by
the eternal jingle of their bells, and the no less eternal wranglings of
their drivers.

In the second yard were the horses of the chief servants, who themselves
inhabited small rooms that surrounded two sides of the court.

We alighted at the first court, and I immediately inquired for the
quarters of my master, the chief executioner. It was noon, and I was
informed he was then with the serdar, before whom, in all the boots,
dust, and dirt of my travelling dress, I was immediately conducted.

They seemed to have entirely taken possession of the Armenian sanctuary,
and to have dispossessed the caliph of his place and authority; for they
had taken up their abode in his very rooms, whilst the poor priests were
skulking about with humble and downcast looks, as if fearful and ashamed
of being the lawful inhabitants of their own possessions. The favourite
horses of both the Persian chiefs were picketed close to the very walls
of the church, more care being taken of their comforts than of the
convenience of the Armenians.

My reader is already acquainted with the person and character of the
chief executioner; and, before I proceed further, I must also make him
acquainted with the serdar. A man of a more sinister aspect was never
seen. His eyes, which, in the common expression of his countenance, were
like opaque bits of glass, glared terribly whenever he became animated,
and almost started out of their old shrivelled sockets; and when this
happened, it was always remarked that a corresponding smile broke out
upon his mouth, which made the Shah’s poet say, that Hassan Khan’s face
was like _Agri dagh_, the mountain near which he lived. When clouded at
the top, and the sun shone in the plain, a storm was sure to ensue.
Time had worn two deep wrinkles down his cheeks, which were not hid by
a scanty beard, notwithstanding all the pains he took to make it thick;
and the same enemy having despoiled him of all his teeth save one, which
projected from his mouth, had produced deep cavities, that made the
shaggy hairs, thinly spread over them, look like burnt stubble on the
slopes of a valley. Altogether, it was difficult to say whether the goat
or the tiger was most predominant; but this is most certain, that never
was the human form so nearly allied to that of the brute as in this
instance. His character corresponded to his looks; for no law, human or
divine, ever stood in the way of his sensuality; and when his passions
were roused, he put no bounds to his violence and cruelty. But with all
this, he had several qualities, which attached his followers to him. He
was liberal and enterprising. He had much quickness and penetration, and
acted so politically towards the Shah and his government, that he was
always treated with the greatest confidence and consideration. He lived
in princely magnificence; was remarkable for his hospitality, and making
no mystery of his irregularity as a Mussulman, was frank and open in
his demeanour, affable to his inferiors, and the very best companion to
those who shared in his debaucheries. No bolder drinker of wine existed
in Persia, except perhaps his present companion, the executioner, who,
as long as he could indulge without incurring the Shah’s displeasure,
had ratified an eternal treaty of alliance between his mouth and every
skin of wine that came within his reach.

It was before these two worshipful personages that I was introduced,
followed by two or three of my principal attendants. I stood at the end
of the compartment until I was spoken to.

‘You are welcome,’ said the chief executioner. ‘Hajji, by my soul, tell
me, how many Russians have you killed? have you brought a head--let me

Here the serdar took him up, and said, ‘What have you done? What
Russians are on the frontier? and when shall we get at them?’

To all of which I answered, after making the usual prefatory speech,
‘Yes, Agas, I have done all that was in my power to do. It was a
lucky hour when we set off, for everything that you wish to know I can
explain; and it is evident that the destinies of the serdar and of my
master are much on the rise, since so insignificant a slave as I can be
of use to them.’

‘Good luck is no bad thing, that’s true,’ said the serdar, ‘but we trust
a great deal to our swords, too,’--rolling his eyes about at the same
time, and smiling in the face of the chief executioner.

‘Yes, yes,’ said his companion, ‘swords and gunpowder, spears and
pistols--those are our astrologers. It will always be a fortunate hour
that will bring me within slice of an infidel’s neck. As for me, I am a
_kizzel bash_ (a red head), and pretend to nothing else. A good horse,
a sharp sword, a spear in my hand, and a large _maidan_ (an open space)
before me, with plenty of Muscovites in it: that is all I want.’

‘And what do you say to good wine too?’ said the serdar. ‘I think that
is as good a thing as any you have mentioned. We’ll have the caliph
in, and make him give Hajji a cup of his best. But tell us first,’
addressing himself to me, ‘what have you seen and done? where are the
Russians posted? how many of them are there? have they any guns? who
commands them? where are their Cossacks? have you heard anything of the
Georgians? where is the Russian commander-in-chief? what are the Lesgî
about? where is the renegade Ismael Khan?--Come, tell us all: and you,
Mirza,’ addressing himself to his scribe, ‘write down all he says.’

Upon this I drew myself up, and, putting on a face of wisdom, I made the
following speech:--

‘By the soul of the serdar! by the salt of the chief executioner! the
Muscovites are nothing. In comparison to the Persians, they are mere
dogs. I, who have seen with my own eyes, can tell you, that one Persian,
with a spear in his hand, would kill ten of those miserable, beardless

‘Ah, you male lion!’ exclaimed my master, apparently delighted with what
I said, ‘I always knew that you would be something. Leave an Ispahani
alone: he will always show his good sense.’

‘They are but few Muscovites on the frontier. Five, six, seven, or eight
hundred,--perhaps a thousand or two thousand--but certainly not more
than three. They have some ten, twenty, or thirty guns; and as for the
Cossacks, _pûtch and_, they are nothing. It is very inconvenient that
they are to be found everywhere when least wanted, with those thick
spears of theirs, which look more like the goad of an ox than a warlike
weapon, and they kill, ’tis true; but then, they are mounted upon
_yabous_ (jades), which can never come up to our horses, worth thirty,
forty, fifty tomauns each, and which are out of sight before they can
even get theirs into a gallop.’

‘Why do you waste your breath upon the Cossacks and their horses?’ said
the chief executioner; ‘you might as well talk of monkeys mounted upon
bears. Who commands the infidels?’

‘They call him the _deli mayor_, or the mad major; and the reason why he
is called so, is because he never will run away. Stories without number
are related of him. Among others, that he has got the pocket Koran of
his excellency the serdar in his possession, which he shows to every one
as a great trophy.’

‘Aye, that’s true,’ exclaimed the serdar. ‘These bankrupt dogs surprised
me last year, when encamped not five parasangs hence, and I had only
time to save myself, in my shirt and trousers, on the back of an
unsaddled horse. Of course, they pillaged my tent, and among other
things stole my Koran. But I’ll be even with them. I have shown them
what I can do at Gavmishlû, and we still have much more to perform upon
their fathers’ graves. How many guns, did you say, they had?’

‘Four or five, or six,’ said I.

‘I wrote down twenty or thirty just now,’ remarked the Mirza, who was
writing at the edge of the carpet,--‘which of the two is right?’

‘Why do you tell us lies?’ exclaimed the serdar, his eyes becoming
more animated as he spoke. ‘If we find that any part of what you say be
false, by the head of Ali! you will soon discover that our beards are
not to be laughed at with impunity.’

‘In truth, then,’ said I, ‘this intelligence is not of my own acquiring.
The greatness of the serdar’s, and my Aga’s good fortune, consists in
my having fallen upon a means of getting the most perfect information
through a young Armenian, who risked his life for us, upon my making him
promise of recompense in the name of the serdar.’

‘A recompense in my name!’ exclaimed the serdar: ‘who is this
Armenian?--and what Armenian was ever worthy of a recompense?’

Upon this I related the whole of Yûsûf’s history, from the beginning to
the end. In pleading his cause in this public manner, I hoped that the
serdar would feel it impossible to resist the justice of the demand
which I made upon him, and that my young protégé would at once be
released from his fears and apprehensions of the chief’s resentment, and
restored to the undisputed possession of his wife.

When I had done speaking, nothing was said, but here and there _Allah!
Allah! il Allah!_ (there is but one God!) in suppressed exclamations
from the lips of the Mohammedans present; whilst the serdar, having
rolled his eyes about, and twitched his mouth into various odd shapes,
at length mumbled out, ‘the Armenian has performed wonders’; and then
called aloud to his servants to bring his _kaliân_ or pipe.

Having smoked two or three long whiffs, he said, ‘Where is this
Armenian? Order the caliph also to come before us.’

Upon which Yûsûf was ushered in, with the shoves and thrusts by which a
poor man of his nation is generally introduced before a Persian grandee;
and he stood in face of the assembly as fine a specimen of manly beauty
as was ever seen, evidently creating much sensation upon all present by
the intrepidity of his appearance. The serdar, in particular, fixed
his eyes upon him with looks of approbation; and turning round to the
executioner in chief, made signs, well known among Persians, of his
great admiration.

The caliph, a heavy, coarse man, of a rosy and jovial appearance,
dressed in the black hood peculiar to the Armenian clergy, appeared soon
after, followed by two or three of his priests. Having stood for a short
time before the serdar and his companion, he was invited to sit, which
he did, going through all the ceremonial of complimentary phrases, and
covering the feet and hands in a manner usual on such occasions.

The serdar then, addressing himself to the caliph, said, ‘It is plain
that we Mussulmans are become less than dogs in the land of Irân. The
Armenians now break into our harems, steal our wives and slaves from
before our faces, and invite men to defile our fathers’ graves. What
news is this, O caliph? Is this Allah’s work or yours?’

The caliph, attacked in this unexpected manner, looked very much
alarmed, and the dew broke out upon his ample and porous forehead.
Experience had taught him that these sorts of attacks were generally the
forerunners of some heavy fine, and he already put himself in a posture
of defence to resist it.

‘What language is this?’ said he in answer. ‘We, whose dogs are we, who
should dare even to think upon the evil of which your highness speaks?
We are the Shah’s subjects:--You are our protector, and the Armenians
sit in peace under your shade. What manner of man is this who has
brought these ashes upon our heads?’

‘That is he,’ answered the serdar, pointing to Yûsûf. ‘Say, fellow, have
you stolen my slave or not?’

‘If I am guilty,’ said the youth, ‘of having taken aught from any man,
save my own, here am I, ready to answer for myself with my life. She who
threw herself out of your windows into my arms was my wife before she
was your slave. We are both the Shah’s rayats, and it is best known to
yourself if you can enslave them or no. We are Armenians, ’tis true, but
we have the feelings of men. It is well known to all Persia, that our
illustrious Shah has never forced the harem of even the meanest of his
subjects; and, secure in that feeling, how could I ever suppose, most
noble serdar, that we should not receive the same protection under
your government? You were certainly deceived when told that she was
a Georgian prisoner; and had you known that she was the wife of your
peasantry, you never would have made her your property.’

The caliph, frightened at the language of the youth, stopped him,
by loud and angry exclamations; but the serdar, apparently struck by
language so unusual to his ears, instead of appearing angry, on the
contrary, looked delighted (if the looks of such a countenance could
ever express delight); and, staring with astonished eyes upon the youth,
seemed to forget even the reason of his having been brought before him.
Of a sudden, as if dispelling his former indignation, he stopped all
further discussion by saying to him, ‘Enough, enough; go, take your
wife, and say no more; and, since you have rendered us a service at
Hamamlû, you shall remain my servant, and wait upon my person. Go, my
head valet will instruct you in your duties; and when attired in clothes
suited to your situation, you will return again to our presence. Go,
and recollect that my condescension towards you depends upon your future
conduct.’ Upon this Yûsûf, in the fullness of his heart, ran up to him
with great apparent gratitude, fell upon his knees, and kissed the hem
of his garment, not knowing what to say, or what countenance to keep
upon such unlooked-for good fortune.

Every one present seemed astonished: the chief executioner gave a shrug,
and indulged in a deep yawn; the caliph, as if he had been disencumbered
of a heavy weight, stretched his limbs, and the huge drops that were
before glittering on his brow now disappeared, and his face again
expanded into good humour. All congratulated the serdar upon his
humanity and benevolence, and compared him to the celebrated Noushirwan.
_Barikallah_ and _Mashallah_ was repeated and echoed from mouth to
mouth, and the story of his magnanimity was spread abroad, and formed
the talk of the whole camp. I will not pretend to explain what were the
serdar’s real sentiments; but those who well knew the man were agreed
that he could be actuated by no generous motive.

[Illustration: The two Russians drive back the Persians. 20.jpg]


He describes an expedition against the Russians, and does ample justice
to the cowardice of his chief.

My chief and the serdar having acquired all the information which Yûsûf
and I could give them upon the force and position of the Muscovites, it
was determined that an attack should immediately be made, and the army
was ordered to march upon Hamamlû.

Everything was soon in motion; the artillery began its tedious and
difficult march through the mountains; the infantry made their way in
the best manner they could, and the cavalry were seen in unconnected
groups all over the plain. I must not omit to say, that before the
march began I received a visit from the Armenian. He was no longer, in
appearance, the rude mountaineer with his rough sheepskin cap, his short
Georgian tunic, his sandalled feet, his long knife hung over his knee,
and his gun slung obliquely across his body; but he was now attired in a
long vest of crimson velvet, trimmed with gold lace and gold buttons;
a beautiful Cashmerian shawl was tied gracefully round his waist; his
small cap, of Bokhara lamb-skin, was duly indented at the top, and the
two long curls behind his ears were combed out with all proper care. He
had now more the appearance of a woman than a man, so much were his
fine limbs hid by his robes; and as he approached me, he could not help
blushing and looking awkward at the metamorphosis. He thanked me with
expressions that indicated much gratitude, and assured me, that so far
from having expected this result to his interview with the serdar, he
had, in fact, made up his mind to the loss of both his wife and life,
and therefore had spoken with the boldness of one determined to die.
‘But,’ said he, ‘notwithstanding this great change in my fortunes, this
new existence of mine will never do. I cannot endure the degradation of
being a mere idle appendage to the state of the serdar; and be not angry
if, ere long, I decline the honour of his service. I will submit to
everything as long as my wife is not in a place of safety; but when once
I have secured that, then adieu. Better live a swineherd in the Georgian
mountains, naked and houseless, than in all these silks and velvets, a
despised hanger on, be it even in the most luxurious court of Persia.’

I could not help applauding such sentiments, although I should have been
happy had he made any one else his confidant, conscious that if he did
run away I should in some measure be made answerable for him.

In the meanwhile the army proceeded on its march. As we passed Ashtarek,
Yûsûf got permission to take possession of Mariam, who, now transformed
into the wife of one who had the reputation of being in the good graces
of the serdar, travelled with great respectability and consideration
on horseback, and formed one among the numerous camp-followers that
are always attached to a Persian army. The camp was pitched between
Gavmishlû and Aberan, where all that was not necessary for the
expedition was ordered to remain until its return. It was settled that
the serdar and the chief executioner, each accompanied by their own men,
with two pieces of artillery, should form the expedition, and towards
the close of the evening it set off.

As we approached the scene of action, the serdar became impatient of
delay, and, like every Persian who despises the utility of infantry,
expressed his wish to push on with the cavalry. I will not say as much
for the impatience of my chief. He continued his boastings to the last,
’tis true, and endeavoured to make every one believe that he had only
to appear, and the enemy would instantly be seized with a panic; but at
length he ceded to the serdar’s wishes of bringing on the rear-guard,
whilst the latter pushed on to Hamamlû with the main body of the
cavalry. I, of course, remained behind, to act under the orders of my
chief. The serdar intended to reach Hamamlû before break of day in order
to surprise the gates, and deviated from the road to ford the Pembaki
river. We continued our march straight for that place, and were to
appear as the day dawned, to give a retreat to the serdar, in case he
should be beaten back.

The morning had just broke when we reached the banks of the river.
The chief executioner was surrounded by a body of about five hundred
cavalry, and the infantry was coming up as well as it could. We were
about fording the river, when of a sudden we were accosted by a voice
on the other side, which shouting out two or three strange words in a
language unknown to us, explained their meaning by a musket shot. This
stopped our career, and called the attention of our chief, who came up,
looking paler than death.

‘What’s the news?’ exclaimed he, in a voice far below its usual
pitch:--‘what are we doing?--where are we going?--Hajji Baba,’ accosting
me, ‘was it you that fired?’

‘No,’ said I, catching rather more of his apprehension than was
convenient; ‘no, I did not fire. Perhaps there are ghôls here among the
Muscovites, as well as at Ashtarek among the Armenians.’

In another minute more barbarous cries were heard, and another shot was
fired, and by this time day had sufficiently advanced to show two men,
on the other bank, whom we discovered to be Russian soldiers. As soon as
our chief saw the extent of the danger, and the foe opposed to us, his
countenance cleared up, and he instantly put on the face of the greatest
resolution and vigour. ‘Go, seize, strike, kill!’ he exclaimed, almost
in one breath, to those around him:--‘Go, bring me the heads of yonder
two fellows.’

Immediately several men dashed into the river, with drawn swords,
whilst the two soldiers withdrew to a small rising ground, and, placing
themselves in a convenient position, began a regular, though alternate,
discharge of their muskets upon their assailants, with a steadiness that
surprised us. They killed two men, which caused the remainder to retreat
back to our commander, and no one else seemed at all anxious to follow
their example. In vain he swore, entreated, pushed, and offered money
for their heads: not one of his men would advance. At length, he said,
with a most magnanimous shout, ‘I myself will go; here, make way! will
no body follow me?’ Then, stopping, and addressing himself to me, he
said, ‘Hajji! my soul, my friend, won’t you go and cut those men’s heads
off? I’ll give you everything you can ask.’ Then, putting his hand round
my neck, he said, ‘Go, go; I am sure you can cut their heads off.’

We were parleying in this manner, when a shot from one of the Russians
hit the chief executioner’s stirrup, which awoke his fears to such a
degree, that he immediately fell to uttering the most violent oaths.
Calling away his troops, and retreating himself at a quick pace, he
exclaimed, ‘Curses be on their beards! Curse their fathers, mothers,
their ancestry, and posterity! Whoever fought after this fashion?
Killing, killing, as if we were so many hogs. See, see, what animals
they are! They will not run away, do all you can to them. They are worse
than brutes:--brutes have feeling,--they have none. O Allah, Allah, if
there was no dying in the case, how the Persians would fight!’

By this time we had proceeded some distance, and then halted. Our chief,
expecting to find the Russians back to back under every bush, did not
know what course to pursue, when the decision was soon made for us by
the appearance of the serdar, who, followed by his cavalry, was seen
retreating in all haste from before the enemy. It was evident that his
enterprise had entirely failed, and nothing was left for the whole army
but to return whence it came.

I will not attempt to draw a picture of the miserable aspect of the
serdar’s troops; they all looked harassed and worn down by fatigue, and
seemed so little disposed to rally, that one and all, as if by tacit
consent, proceeded straight on their course homewards without once
looking back. But as much as they were depressed in spirits, in the same
degree were raised those of our commander. He so talked of his prowess,
of the wound he had received, and of his intended feats, that at length,
seizing a spear, he put his horse at the full gallop, and overtaking
his own cook, who was making the best of his way to his pots and pans,
darted it at him, in the exuberance of his valour, and actually pierced
him in the back through his shawl girdle.

Thus ended an expedition which the serdar expected would have given him
a great harvest of glory and of Muscovites’ heads; and which, the chief
executioner flattered himself, would afford him exultation and boasting
for the remainder of his life. But, notwithstanding its total
failure, till, he had ingenuity enough to discover matter for

Surrounded by a circle of his adherents, amongst whom I was one, he was
in the midst of a peal of boasting, when a message came from the serdar,
requesting that Hajji Baba might be sent to him. I returned with the
messenger, and the first words which the serdar said, upon my appearing
before him, were, ‘Where is Yûsûf? Where is his wife?’

It immediately occurred to me that they had escaped; and putting on one
of my most innocent looks, I denied having the least knowledge of their

The serdar then began to roll his eyeballs about, and to twist up his
mouth into various shapes. Passion burst from him in the grossest and
most violent expressions; he vowed vengeance upon him, his race, his
village, and upon everything and everybody in the least connected with
him; and whilst he expressed a total disbelief of am my protestations of
ignorance, he gave me to understand, that if I was found to have been
in the smallest degree an accessory to his escape, he would use all his
influence to sweep my vile person from the face of the earth.

I afterwards heard that he had sent a party of men to Gavmishlû, to
seize and bring before him Yûsûf’s parents and kindred, with everything
that belonged to them; to take possession of their property, and to burn
and destroy whatever they could not bring away: but the sagacious and
active youth had foreseen this, and had taken his measures with such
prudence and promptitude, that he had completely baffled the tyrant.
He, his wife, his wife’s relations, his own parents and family, with
all their effects (leaving only their tilled ground behind them), had
concerted one common plan of migration into the Russian territory. It
had fully succeeded, as I afterwards heard, for they were received with
great kindness, both by the government and by their own sect; lands were
allotted, and every help afforded them for the re-establishment of their


He proceeds to the king’s camp, and gives a specimen of lying on a grand

I returned to my chief full of apprehension at the threat which I had
received; and knowing how very tenacious all our great men are of power
over their own servants, I did not fail immediately to inform him of the
language which the serdar had entertained me with. He became furious,
and I had only to fan the flame which I had raised in order to create a
quarrel between them; but, having more fears about the serdar’s power of
hurting me than I had confidence in the ability of the chief executioner
to protect me, I thought it best for all parties that I should retire
from the scene, and craved my master’s permission to return to Tehran.
Pleased with an opportunity of showing the serdar that no body but
himself could control his servants, he at once assented to my proposal;
and forthwith began to give me instructions concerning what I should say
to the grand vizier touching the late expedition, and particularly in
what light I was to place his own individual prowess.

‘You yourself were there, Hajji,’ said he to me, ‘and therefore can
describe the whole action as well as I could. We cannot precisely say
that we gained a victory, because, alas! we have no heads to show;
but we also were not defeated. The serdar, ass that he is, instead of
waiting for the artillery, and availing himself of the infantry, attacks
a walled town with his cavalry only, and is very much surprised that the
garrison shut their gates, and fire at him from the ramparts: of course
he can achieve nothing, and retires in disgrace. Had I been your leader,
things would have gone otherwise; and as it was, I was the only man who
came hand to hand with the enemy. I was wounded in a desperate manner;
and had it not been for the river between us, not a man of them would
have been left to tell the tale. You will say all this, and as much more
as you please’; then, giving me a packet of letters to the grand vizier,
and to the different men in office, and an _arizeh_ (a memorial) to
the Shah, he ordered me to depart; I found the Shah still encamped at
Sultanieh, although the autumn was now far advanced, and the season
for returning to Tehran near at hand. I presented myself at the grand
vizier’s levee, with several other couriers, from different parts of
the empire, and delivered my dispatches. When he had inspected mine,
he called me to him, and said aloud, ‘You are welcome! You also were at
Hamamlû? The infidels did not dare to face the _Kizzil bashes_, eh? The
Persian horseman, and the Persian sword, after all, nobody can face.
Your khan, I see, has been wounded; he is indeed one of the Shah’s best
servants. Well it was no worse. You must have had hot work on each bank
of the river.’

To all of this, and much more, I said ‘Yes, yes,’ and ‘no, no,’ as fast
as the necessity of the remark required; and I enjoyed the satisfaction
of being looked upon as a man just come out of a battle. The vizier then
called to one of his mirzas or secretaries, ‘Here,’ said he, ‘you
must make out a _fatteh nameh_ (a proclamation of victory), which
must immediately be sent into the different provinces, particularly
to Khorassan, in order to overawe the rebel khans there; and let
the account be suited to the dignity and character of our victorious
monarch. We are in want of a victory just at present; but, recollect, a
good, substantial, and bloody victory.’

‘How many strong were the enemy?’ inquired the mirza, looking towards

‘_Bisyar, bisyar,_ many, many,’ answered I, hesitating and embarrassed
how many it would be agreeable that I should say.

‘Put down fifty thousand,’ said the vizier coolly.

‘How many killed?’ said the mirza, looking first at the vizier, then at

‘Write ten to fifteen thousand killed,’ answered the minister: ‘remember
these letters have to travel a great distance. It is beneath the dignity
of the Shah to kill less than his thousands and tens of thousands. Would
you have him less than Rustam, and weaker than Afrasiab? No, our kings
must be drinkers of blood, and slayers of men, to be held in estimation
by their subjects, and surrounding nations. Well, have you written?’
said the grand vizier.

‘Yes, at your highness’s service,’ answered the mirza; ‘I have written
(reading from his paper) ‘that the infidel dogs of Moscovites (whom may
Allah in his mercy impale on stakes of living fires!) dared to appear in
arms to the number of fifty thousand, flanked and supported by a
hundred mouths spouting fire and brimstone; but that as soon as the
all-victorious armies of the Shah appeared, ten to fifteen thousand
of them gave up their souls; whilst prisoners poured in in such vast
numbers, that the prices of slaves have diminished 100 per cent in all
the slave-markets of Asia.’

‘Barikallah! Well done,’ said the grand vizier. ‘You have written well.
If the thing be not exactly so, yet, by the good luck of the Shah, it
will, and therefore it amounts to the same thing. Truth is an
excellent thing when it suits one’s purpose, but very inconvenient when

‘Yes,’ said the mirza, as he looked up from his knee, upon which he
rested his hand to write his letter, and quoting a well-known passage
in Saadi, ‘Falsehood mixed with good intentions, is preferable to truth
tending to excite strife.’

The vizier then called for his shoes, rose from his seat, mounted the
horse that was waiting for him at the door of his tent, and proceeded to
the audience of the Shah, to give an account of the different dispatches
that he had just received. I followed him, and mixed in with his large
retinue of servants, until he turned round to me, and said, ‘You are
dismissed; go, and take your rest.’

[Illustration: Death of Zeenab. 21.jpg]


He relates a horrid tale, the consequences of which plunge him in the
greatest misery.

In a few days after the camp was struck, and the Shah returned to his
winter quarters at Tehran, in the same pomp and parade with which he
had left it. I had resumed my post as sub-lieutenant to the chief
executioner, and was busily engaged in disposing of the men under my
command, that the best order might be preserved during the march, when
I was commanded to send off a messenger to Tehran, with orders that the
bazigers, the dancers and singers, should be in readiness to receive the
Shah on his arrival at Sulimanieh. This place, as I have said before, is
a palace situated on the banks of the Caraj, about nine parasangs from
the capital.

On receiving this order, my long-forgotten Zeenab came again to my
recollection, and all my tender feelings which, owing to my active life,
had hitherto lain dormant, were now revived. Seven months were elapsed
since we had first become acquainted; and although during that time I
had lived with men of a nature sufficiently barbarous to destroy every
good feeling, yet there was something so terrible in what I imagined
must now be her situation, and I felt myself so much the cause of it,
that my heart smote me every time that the subject came across my mind.
‘We shall soon see,’ thought I, ‘if my fears be well founded. In a few
days more we reach Sulimanieh, and then her fate will be decided.’

On the day of our arrival I headed the procession, to see that every
proper arrangement had been made within the palace; and as I approached
the walls of the harem, within which the bazigers had already taken
their station, I heard the sounds of their voices and of their musical
instruments. What would I not have given to have spoken to Zeenab, or
even to have observed her at a distance! But I knew that it would not be
prudent to ask many questions concerning her, as suspicions, dangerous
both to her and me, might arise, and probably involve us in immediate
ruin. Indeed, had I been inclined to give myself much stir on the
subject, it would have been to no purpose; for very shortly after I
heard the salute fired from the _Zamburek_ camels, which indicated that
the Shah had alighted from his horse.

After he had smoked one pipe in his hall of state, and had dismissed the
courtiers who attended him, he retired to the harem.

Upon his entrance there, I heard the songs of the women, accompanied by
tambourines, guitars, and little drums, rending the air as they walked
in procession before him. Well did I listen with all my ears to discover
Zeenab’s voice; but every endeavour was baffled, and I remained in a
disagreeable state of vibration betwixt hope and fear, until a hasty
order was issued for my old master, Mirza Ahmak, the king’s physician,
to appear immediately before the Shah. Combinations of the mind in all
matters of deep interest are formed as quick as thought, and act like
the foretellings of prophecy. When I heard that the hakîm was sent for,
a cold thrill ran through my veins, and I said to myself, ‘Zeenab is
lost for ever!’

He came, was soon dismissed, and seeing me at the door of the harem,
took me on one side, and said, ‘Hajji, the Shah is much enraged. You
remember the Cûrdish slave, which I presented to him at the festival of
the No Rûz. She has not appeared among the dancing-women, and pretends
to be ill. He loves her, and had set his heart upon seeing her. He has
called me to account for her conduct, as if I could control the caprice
of this daughter of the devil; and says, that if he does not find her in
full health and beauty when he reaches the ark (the palace), which will
be on the next best fortunate hour, he will pluck my beard out by the
roots. Curse the unlucky moment which made her my slave; and still more
the hour when I first invited the Shah into my house.’

Upon this he left me, to set off immediately for Tehran, whilst I
retired to my tent, to ruminate over the horrid fate that awaited this
unfortunate girl. I endeavoured to rally my spirits by the hope that
perhaps she was actually ill, and that it had been impossible for her to
appear before the king; and then I consoled myself with the idea, that
if my fears were well founded, the doctor’s heart might be softened, and
he might screen her from the Shah’s observation, by giving some evasive
reason for her non-appearance. Then, after all, as if braving my
feelings, I repeated to myself the lines of one of our poets, who, like
me, had lost his mistress.

‘Is there but one pair of stag eyes, or one cypress waist, or one
full-moon face in the world, that I should so mourn the loss of my cruel

‘Why should I burn, why should I cut myself, and sigh out my griefs
under the windows of the deaf-eared charmer?

‘No, let me love where love is cheap; for I am a miser of my feelings.’

Thus I endeavoured to make light of the subject, and to show myself a
true Mussulman by my contempt for womankind. But still, turn where I
would, go where I would, the image of Zeenab, a torn and mangled corpse,
was ever before my eyes, and haunted my imagination at all seasons and
at all hours.

At length the fortunate hour for the Shah’s entry was announced, and he
entered Tehran amidst the whole of its population, who had been turned
out to greet his arrival. My most pressing want was to see the hakîm,
as if by chance, in order that no suspicion might fall upon me, in case
poor Zeenab was found guilty. On the very evening of our arrival, my
wishes (alas! how fatally!) were accomplished. As I was taken up in
giving some orders to a nasakchi, I saw him come out of the Shah’s
private apartment, looking full of care, with one hand stuck in his
girdle, the other in his side, his back more bent than usual, and with
his eyes fixed on the ground. I placed myself in his way, and gave him
the salutation of peace, which caused him to look up.

When he had recognized me, he stopped, saying, ‘You are the very man
I was seeking. Come hither;’ and he took me on one side: ‘Here is a
strange story afloat,’ said he; ‘this Cûrd has brought all sorts of
ashes on my head. _Wallah!_ by Heaven, the Shah has run clean mad.
He talks of making a general massacre of all that is male, within and
without his harem, beginning with his viziers, and finishing by the
eunuchs. He swears by his own head, that he will make me the first
example if I do not find out the culprit.’

‘What culprit? who? what?’ said I, ‘what has happened?’

‘Why, Zeenab,’ answered he, ‘Zeenab.’

‘Oh! I understand,’ said I; ‘Aye! she you used to love so much.’

‘I?’ answered the Hakîm, as if afraid of being himself suspected, ‘I?
_Astaferallah!_ Heaven forbid! Do not say so for pity’s sake, Hajji, for
if such a suspicion were once hinted, the Shah would put his threat into
immediate execution. Where did you ever hear that I loved Zeenab?’

‘Many things were reported concerning you at that time,’ said I, ‘and
all were astonished that a man of your wisdom, the Locman of his time,
the Galenûs of Persia, should have embarked in so frail and dangerous a
commodity as a Cûrdish maid, one of the undoubted progeny of the
devil himself, whose footsteps could not be otherwise than notoriously
unfortunate; who, of herself, was enough to bring ill luck to a whole
empire, much more to a single family like yours.’

‘You say true, Hajji,’ said Mirza Ahmak, as he shook his head from
side to side, and struck his left hand on the pit of his stomach. ‘Ah!
marvellous fool was I ever to have been caught by her black eyes! in
fact, they were not eyes, they were spells:--the devil himself looked
out of them, not she, and if he is not in her now, may I be called
_Gorumsak_ all the rest of my days. But, after all, what shall I do?’

‘What can I say?’ answered I. ‘What will the Shah do with her?’

‘Let her go to Jehanum,’ answered the doctor; ‘let her go to her
father’s mansion, and a good journey to her. I am only thinking of my
own skin.’

Upon this, looking up tenderly at me, he said, ‘Ah, Hajji! you know how
much I have always loved you: I took you into my house when you were
houseless--I placed you in a good situation, and you have risen in your
profession all through me--allow that there is, or that there ought to
be such a thing in the world as gratitude--you have now an opportunity
of exercising it:’ then pausing for a while, and playing with the tip of
my beard, he said, ‘Have you guessed what I wished to say?’

‘No,’ said I, ‘it has not yet reached my understanding.’

‘Well, then,’ said he, ‘in two words, own that you are the culprit. A
great loss of consideration would accrue to me, but none to you; you are
young, and can bear such a story to be told of you.’

‘Loss of consideration, indeed!’ exclaimed I, ‘what is that when the
loss of life will ensue? Are you mad, oh Hakîm, or do you think me so?
Why should I die? why do you wish to have my blood upon your head? All I
can say, if I am questioned on the subject, is, that I do not think you
guilty, because you were ever too much in fear of the khanum, your wife;
but I will never say that I am guilty.’

Whilst in the middle of our conversation, one of the Shah’s eunuchs
came up to me, and said that his chief had been ordered to see that the
sub-lieutenant to the chief executioner, with five men, were in waiting
at the foot of the high tower at the entrance of the harem, at the hour
of midnight; and that they were to bring a _taboot_, or hand-bier, with
them, to bear away a corpse for interment.

All I could say in answer was ‘_be cheshm!_ (by my eyes)’; and lucky was
it for me that he quitted me immediately, that Mirza Ahmak had also left
me, and that it was dusk, or else the fear and anguish which overwhelmed
me upon hearing this message must have betrayed me. A cold sweat broke
out all over my body, my eyes swam, my knees knocked under me, and I
should perhaps have fallen into a swoon, if the counter fear of being
seen in such a state, in the very centre of the palace, had not roused

‘What,’ said I to myself, ‘is it not enough that I have been the cause
of her death, must I be her executioner too? must I be the grave-digger
to my own child? must I be the ill-fated he who is to stretch her cold
limbs in the grave, and send my own life’s blood back again to its
mother earth? Why am I called upon to do this, oh cruel, most cruel
destiny? Cannot I fly from the horrid scene? Cannot I rather run a
dagger into my heart? But no, ’tis plain my fate is ordained, sealed,
fixed! and in vain I struggle,--I must fulfil the task appointed for me!
Oh world, world! what art thou, and how much more wouldst thou be known,
if each man was to lift up the veil that hideth his own actions, and
show himself as he really is!’

With these feelings, oppressed as if the mountain of Demawend and all
its sulphurs were on my heart, I went about my work doggedly, collecting
the several men who were to be my colleagues in this bloody tragedy;
who, heedless and unconcerned at an event of no unfrequent occurrence,
were indifferent whether they were to be the bearers of a murdered
corpse, or themselves the instruments of murder.

The night was dark and lowering, and well suited to the horrid scene
about to be acted. The sun, unusual in these climates, had set,
surrounded by clouds of the colour of blood; and, as the night advanced,
they rolled on in unceasing thunders over the summits of the adjacent
range of Albors. At sudden intervals the moon was seen through the dense
vapour, which covered her again as suddenly, and restored the night to
its darkness and solemnity. I was seated lonely in the guard-room of
the palace, when I heard the cries of the sentinels on the watch-towers,
announcing midnight, and the voices of the muezzins from the mosques,
the wild notes of whose chant floating on the wind ran through my veins
with the chilling creep of death, and announced to me that the hour of
murder was at hand! They were the harbingers of death to the helpless
woman. I started up,--I could not bear to hear them more,--I rushed on
in desperate haste, and as I came to the appointed spot, I found my five
companions already arrived, sitting unconcerned on and about the coffin
that was to carry my Zeenab to her eternal mansion. The only word which
I had power to say to them was, ‘_Shoud?_ Is it done?’ to which they
answered, ‘_Ne shoud._ It is not done.’ To which ensued an awful
silence. I had hoped that all was over, and that I should have been
spared every other horror, excepting that of conducting the melancholy
procession to the place of burial; but no, the deed was still to be
done, and I could not retreat.

On the confines of the apartments allotted to the women in the Shah’s
palace stands a high octagonal tower, some thirty gez in height, seen
conspicuous from all parts of the city, at the summit of which is
a chamber, in which he frequently reposes and takes the air. It is
surrounded by unappropriated ground, and the principal gate of the harem
is close to its base. On the top of all is a terrace (a spot, ah! never
by me to be forgotten!) and it was to this that our whole attention
was now riveted. I had scarcely arrived, when, looking up, we saw
three figures, two men and a female, whose forms were lighted up by an
occasional gleam of moonshine, that shone in a wild and uncertain manner
upon them. They seemed to drag their victim between them with much
violence, whilst she was seen in attitudes of supplication, on her
knees, with her hands extended, and in all the agony of the deepest
desperation. When they were at the brink of the tower her shrieks were
audible, but so wild, so varied by the blasts of wind that blew round
the building, that they appeared to me like the sounds of laughing

We all kept a dead and breathless silence: even my five ruffians seemed
moved--I was transfixed like a lump of lifeless clay, and if I am asked
what my sensations were at the time, I should be at a loss to describe
them,--I was totally inanimate, and still I knew what was going on. At
length, one loud, shrill, and searching scream of the bitterest woe
was heard, which was suddenly lost in an interval of the most frightful
silence. A heavy fall, which immediately succeeded, told us that all was
over. I was then roused, and with my head confused, half crazed and half
conscious, I immediately rushed to the spot, where my Zeenab and
her burden lay struggling, a mangled and mutilated corpse. She still
breathed, but the convulsions of death were upon her, and her lips moved
as if she would speak, although the blood was fast flowing from her
mouth. I could not catch a word, although she uttered sounds that seemed
like words. I thought she said, ‘My child! my child!’ but perhaps it
was an illusion of my brain. I hung over her in the deepest despair, and
having lost all sense of prudence and of self-preservation, I acted
so much up to my own feelings, that if the men around me had had the
smallest suspicion of my real situation, nothing could have saved
me from destruction. I even carried my frenzy so far as to steep my
handkerchief in her blood, saying to myself, ‘This, at least, shall
never part from me!’ I came to myself, however, upon hearing the shrill
and demon-like voice of one of her murderers from the tower’s height,
crying out--‘Is she dead?’ ‘Aye, as a stone,’ answered one of my
ruffians. ‘Carry her away, then,’ said the voice. ‘To hell yourself,’
in a suppressed tone, said another ruffian; upon which my men lifted the
dead body into the taboot, placed it upon their shoulders, and walked
off with it to the burial-ground without the city, where they found
a grave ready dug to receive it. I walked mechanically after them,
absorbed in most melancholy thoughts, and when we had arrived at the
burial-place, I sat myself down on a grave-stone, scarcely conscious
of what was going on. I watched the operations of the nasakchies with a
sort of unmeaning stare; saw them place the dead body in the earth; then
shovel the mould over it; then place two stones, one at the feet and the
other at the head. When they had finished, they came up to me and said
‘that all was done’: to which I answered, ‘Go home; I will follow.’ They
left me seated on the grave, and returned to the town.

The night continued dark, and distant thunders still echoed through the
mountains. No other sound was heard, save now and then the infant-like
cries of the jackal, that now in packs, and then by two or three at the
time, kept prowling round the mansions of the dead.

The longer I remained near the grave, the less I felt inclined to return
to my home, and to my horrid employment of executioner. I loathed my
existence, and longed to be so secluded from the world, and from all
dealings with those of high authority in it, that the only scheme which
I could relish was that of becoming a real dervish, and passing the
rest of my days in penitence and privations. Besides, the fear of having
disclosed, both by my words and actions, how much I was involved in the
fate of the deceased, came across my mind, and added to my repugnance of

Day by this time began to dawn, and impelled, both by a sense of my
danger and by my desire to quit a place which had become odious to me, I
determined to proceed on foot to Kinaragird, the first stage to Ispahan,
and then take advantage of the first caravan that should be going to
that city.

‘I will go and seek consolation in retirement, and in the bosom of
my family,’ said I to myself; ‘I will see what is become of my
parents--perhaps I may reach the paternal roof in time to receive my
father’s dying blessing, and by my presence give him in his old age the
happiness of seeing his long-lost son restored to him. How shall I be
able to go through my duties, with this misfortune about my neck? I
have lived long enough in vice, and it is time that I should make the
_tobeh_, or renounce my wicked ways.’

In short, this horrid event produced such an effect upon my mind, that
had I continued in the sentiments it inspired me with through life,
I might well have aspired to be placed at the head of our most holy

[Illustration: Hajji takes sanctuary. 22.jpg]


Hajji Baba meets with an old friend, who cheers him up, gives him good
advice, and secures him from danger.

Pulling out the handkerchief from my breast, still wet with the blood
of the unfortunate Zeenab, I contemplated it with feelings of the most
bitter anguish; then spreading it before me on her grave, I went through
a ceremony to which I had long been unaccustomed,--I said my prayers.
Refreshed by this act, and strengthened in my resolutions of leaving
Tehran, I tore myself away, and stept valiantly onwards towards Ispahan.

Having reached Kinaragird, without seeing the trace of a caravan, and
feeling myself sufficiently strong to proceed on my journey, I pushed on
for the caravanserai of the sultan’s reservoir, where I intended to halt
for the night.

As I came in sight of the building, at some distance in the desert,
I saw a man putting himself into strange attitudes, playing antics by
himself, and apparently addressing himself to something on the ground.
I approached him, and found that he was talking with great animation to
his cap, which was thrown some yards before him. Going still nearer to
him, I discovered a face that was familiar to me.

‘Who can it be?’ said I to myself: ‘it must be one of my old friends,
the dervishes of Meshed.’

In fact, it proved to be the _Kessehgou_, the story-teller, who was
practising a new story by himself, making his cap act audience. As soon
as he saw, he recognized me, and came up to embrace me with seeming

‘Ahi, Hajji,’ said he, ‘peace be with you! Where have you been these
many years? Your place has long been empty. My eyes are refreshed by the
sight of you.’ Then he repeated himself in the same strain several times
over, until we at length got upon more rational subjects.

He related his adventures since we had last met; which consisted in the
detail of long and painful journeys, and of the various methods which
his ingenuity had suggested to him of gaining his bread. He was now on
his return from Constantinople, from whence he had walked, and had it in
contemplation to make his way in the same manner to Delhi, after having
passed a summer at Ispahan, whither he was now proceeding.

Although little inclined to talk, in the melancholy mood in which my
mind had been plunged, still I could not refrain in some measure from
catching the exuberance of spirits with which my companion seemed to
overflow, and I also gave him an account of myself since the day I left
Meshed with Dervish Sefer, when I had just recovered from the bastinado
on the soles of my feet.

As I proceeded in my narrative, showing him how, step by step, I
had advanced in station and dignity, it was amusing to see with
what increased reverence he treated me. At length, when I came to my
promotion to the rank of sub-lieutenant to the chief executioner, I
verily believe that he would have prostrated himself before me, with
such extreme respect had experience taught him to treat gentlemen of
that profession. But when he heard the sequel of my story; how for
a woman I had abandoned my high situation and all the prospects of
advancement which it held out to me; I perceived the low estimation to
which I fell in his opinion. He exclaimed that I was not worthy of
the _kalaât_ (the dress of distinction), which fortune had cut out,
fashioned, and invested me with. ‘So, because the Shah thinks it fitting
to destroy a faithless slave,’ said he, 'in whose guilt you have at most
only half the share, you think it necessary to abandon the excellent
station in life to which you had reached, and to begin again the
drudgery of an existence lower and more uncertain than even the one
which I enjoy. Well’ (making a pause), ‘there is no accounting for the
different roads which men take in their search after happiness: some
keep the high road; some take short cuts; others strike out new paths
for themselves; and others again permit themselves to be led on without
asking the road: but I never yet heard of one, but yourself, who, having
every road and every path thrown open to him, preferred losing his
way, with the risk of never again finding it.’ And then he finished by
quoting a reflection of the poet Ferdûsi, applicable to the uncertainty
of a soldier’s life, by way of consoling me for the vicissitudes of
mine, saying, ‘_Gahi pûsht ber zeen, gahi zeen ber pûsht_ (sometimes a
saddle bears the weight of his back, and sometimes his back the weight
of a saddle).’

Whilst we were conversing, a caravan appeared on the road from Ispahan,
and making straight for the caravanserai, took up its abode there for
the night.

‘Come,’ said the dervish, who was a merry sociable fellow, ‘come,
forget your sorrows for the present; we will pass an agreeable evening,
notwithstanding we are in the midst of this dreary and thirsty desert.
Let us get together the travellers, the merchants, and the mule-drivers
who compose the caravan, and after we have well supped and smoked I will
relate to you a story that has recently happened at Stamboul, and which
I am sure cannot yet have been imported into Persia.’

Most willingly did I accede to his proposal; for I was happy to drive
melancholy from my thoughts at any rate, and we strolled into the
building together.

Here we found men from different parts of Persia, unloading their beasts
and putting their effects in order, settling themselves in the different
open rooms which look upon the square of the caravanserai. A dervish,
and a story-teller too, was a great acquisition, after the fatigue and
dullness of a journey across the Salt Desert; and when we had made a
hearty meal he collected them on the square platform in the middle of
the court, making them sit round, whilst he took his station in the
midst. He then related his promised story.

I endeavoured to pay every attention to it; but I found that my mind
so constantly strayed from the narrative to the scenes I had lately
witnessed, that it became impossible for me to retain what he said.
I remarked, however, that he interested his audience in the highest
degree; for when plunged in one of my deepest reveries I was frequently
roused by the laughter and applause which the dervish excited. I
promised myself on some future occasion to make him relate it over
again, and in the meanwhile continued to give myself up wholly to my
feelings. Much did I envy the apparent light-heartedness that pervaded
my companions and which at intervals made the vaulted rooms of the
building resound with shouts of merriment. I longed for the time when I
should again be like them, and enjoy the blessings of existence without
care; but grief, like every other passion, must have its course, and, as
the spring which gushes with violence from the rock, by degrees dwindles
into a rivulet; so it must be let to pass off gradually until it becomes
a moderate feeling, and at length is lost in the vortex of the world.

Day had closed by the time that the dervish had finished his story.
The blue vault of heaven was completely furnished with bright twinkling
stars, which seemed to have acquired a fresh brilliancy after the storms
of the preceding night; and the moon was preparing to add her soft
lustre to the scene, when a horseman, fully equipped, entered the porch
that leads into the caravanserai.

The principal persons of the caravan had still kept their stations on
the platform, quietly smoking their pipes and discussing the merits of
the tale they had just heard; the servants had dispersed to spread their
masters’ beds; and the muleteers had retired for the night to nestle
in among their mules and their baggage: I, destitute of everything, had
made up my mind to pass my night on the bare ground with a stone for
my pillow; but when I looked at the horseman, as he emerged from the
darkness of the porch into the light, my ideas took another turn.

I recognized in him one of the nasakchies, who under my orders had
witnessed the death of the wretched Zeenab; and I very soon guessed what
the object of his journey might be, when I heard him ask if the caravan
was coming from or going to Tehran; and whether they had seen a person
whom, by the description he gave, I instantly recognized to be myself.

My friend the dervish immediately divined how the matter stood; and
deeply versed in every stratagem of deceit, without hesitation took upon
himself to answer for the whole company.

He said that all were going to the capital, with the exception of
himself and his friend, who, both dervishes, were just arrived from
Constantinople; but that he had met one answering to the person he
had described, one who seemed oppressed with care and worn with grief,
wandering about in a sort of chance manner through the wilds of the
desert. He added many more particulars which corresponded so entirely to
my appearance and history that the horseman could not doubt for a moment
but that this was the person he was in search of, and rode off in
great haste according to the directions of the dervish, who, as may be
imagined, purposely led him wrong.

When he had been gone some time the dervish took me on one side, and
said, ‘If you want to secure yourself from this man, you must instantly
depart; for when he finds his search fruitless, and is tired of
wandering about the desert, he will certainly return here, and then what
can hinder your being discovered?’

‘I will do anything rather than be discovered by him,’ said I: ‘he is
evidently sent to seize me. I can expect no mercy from such a ruffian,
particularly as I have not enough money to offer him, for I know his
price. Where can I go?’

The dervish reflected a while, and said, ‘You must go to Kom: you will
reach it before morning, and as soon as you arrive there, lose not a
moment in getting within the precincts of the sanctuary of the tomb of
Fatimeh. You will then, and not till then, be safe, even from the Shah’s
power. Should you be caught without its walls, there is no hope for you.
You will be seized; and then may Allah take you into his holy keeping!’

‘But when I am there,’ said I, ‘what shall I do? how shall I live?’

‘Leave that to me,’ said the dervish; ‘I shall soon overtake you, and as
I know the place and many of the people in it, _Inshallah_, please God,
you will not fare so ill as you may imagine. I myself was once obliged
to do the same thing, for having been the means of procuring poison for
one of the Shah’s women, who used it to destroy a rival. Orders were
sent to seize me, and I managed to reach the _bust_ (the refuge seat) at
Shahabdul Azîm just five minutes before the executioner who was to have
apprehended me. I never fared better in my life: for I did nothing; I
was supported by the charity of those who came to say their prayers at
the shrine of the saint: and the women, who constantly travelled thus
far to pray and take their pleasure, always contrived to comfort me
in my confinement. The only evil you have to fear is an order from the
Shah, that no one on pain of death shall give you food: if so, you will
be starved into a surrender, and then the Prophet be your protector! But
your case is not one of sufficient consequence to make you fear this.
The Shah cannot care so much for one slave, when he has a hundred others
to fill her place. After all, men do not die so easily as we Persians
imagine. Recollect what the Sheikh says, “Clouds and wind, the moon, the
sun, the firmament (and he might have added dervishes), all are busied,
that thou, O man, mayest obtain thy bread: only eat it not in neglect.”’

‘I am not the man,’ said I, ‘who will forget your kindness. Perhaps my
fortune may again be on the rise, and then I will put my beard into your
hand. You know Hajji Baba of old, and that he is not one of those who
“exposes his virtues on the palm of his hand, and hides his vices under
his armpit.” What I was at Meshed, the same I am now: the seller of
adulterated smoke and the deputy lieutenant to the chief executioner,
are one and the same.’

‘Well, then, go,’ said the dervish, as he embraced me, ‘and God be with
you! Take care of the ghôls and gins as you cross the Salt Desert; and
again, I repeat, may Allah, peace, and safety attend you!’

As the day broke I could distinguish the gilt cupola of the tomb at a
considerable distance before me; and this beacon of my security inspired
me with fresh vigour in my solitary march over the dreary waste. I had
scarcely reached the outskirts of the town of Kom before I perceived the
horseman at some distance behind, making the best of his way in search
of me; and therefore I looked neither right nor left until the massive
chain that hangs across the principal gateway of the sanctuary was
placed between myself and my pursuer. I then exclaimed, ‘_Ilhamd’illah!_
Praises to Allah! O Mahomed! O Ali!’ and kissing the threshold of the
tomb I said my prayers with all the fervency of one who having escaped a
tempest has got safe into port.

I had scarcely time to look about me before I perceived the nasakchi
coming towards me. He accosted me with a cold salutation of peace, and
then said, ‘that he had a royal order to conduct me into the Shah’s
presence wherever I might be found.’

I told him that, with all reverence for his firman, it was my intention
to avail myself of the acknowledged privilege of every true believer,
to seek refuge at the shrine of the saint, and that, of course, he could
not violate it by dragging me from it. ‘Besides, this is the favourite
saint of the King of Kings,’ said I, ‘and he respects this shrine more
than any other.’

‘What shall I do then, Hajji?’ said he. ‘You know this is not written
in the order. If I go back without you, perhaps the Shah may cut off my
ears instead of yours.’

‘_Inshallah!_ please God,’ said I.

‘Please God, do you say?’ said he in a fury: ‘am I come all this way
that men should call me ass? I am not a man if I do not make you return
with me.’ And forthwith we began to wrangle to such a degree that
several of the priests, attached to the endowment, came from their rooms
to inquire into the cause of the disturbance.

‘Here is one,’ exclaimed I, ‘who presumes to violate the sanctuary. I
have taken refuge in it, and he talks of forcing me away! You, that are
men of God,’ addressing myself to the mollahs, ‘speak, and say whether
you will allow this?’

They all took my part. ‘This is unheard of,’ said they, ‘in Persia.
If you dare to take one from the _bust_, you will not only have the
vengeance of the saint on your head, but the whole corps of the Ullemah
will be upon you; and be you protected by the King of Kings, or the king
of demons, nothing can screen you from their fury.’

The nasakchi remained quite uncertain what to do, and at length,
softening his tone, he endeavoured to make a virtue of necessity,
and began to negotiate with me upon what he might get if he went away
without further molesting me. I did not deny the right he had of being
paid for his trouble, for it is precisely what I should have expected
myself had I been in his place; but I made him recollect how little I
was able to requite him; for he knew as well as I all the circumstances
of my flight, and that I had brought nothing away with me from Tehran.

He suggested that I might give him what effects I had left behind me; to
which I did not in the least agree, but recommended him to go whence he
came, and to leave the afflicted to their miseries.

The fact is, as I afterwards found out, the rogue had already taken
possession of my property, which consisted of clothes, trunks,
bedding, horse-furniture, pipes, etc., having himself been the cause of
denouncing me to the Shah. He had watched the effect which the murderous
death of the unhappy Cûrd had produced upon me, and immediately had laid
his plan for my destruction, and for stepping into my situation.

Finding that he could not exert the power which had been vested in him,
and that his firman was so much waste paper, as long as I continued to
hold fast to my refuge-place, he thought it best to return to Tehran;
but in so doing he delivered his powers into the hands of the governor
of the town, with strict injunctions to keep watch over my actions, and
in case I stirred from the sanctuary, to seize and send me a prisoner to
the seat of government.


He takes refuge in a sanctuary, where his melancholy thoughts are
diverted by a curious story.

I had scarcely got rid of the nasakchi, when I heard the voice of my
friend the dervish, who was announcing his arrival in the holy city, by
all the different invocations of the Almighty and his attributes, which
are frequently made by true believers.

Very soon after, I was delighted to see him coming towards me, and to
hear him express his satisfaction that I had reached my resting-place
before my pursuer had had time to come up with me.

He proposed to keep me company for a short time, and we took possession
of one of the cells situated in the square court forming part of the
buildings in the centre of which the tomb is placed. I had by good
luck brought away my ready money, consisting of twenty tomauns in gold,
besides some silver; and we expended some of this in articles of the
first necessity, such as a mat to cover the bare floor of our room, and
an earthen jug for our water.

But before we had got any further in our domestic arrangements, the
dervish accosted me in the following manner: ‘I must be informed of one
thing before we proceed. Do you ever say your prayers? do you keep your
fasts? do you make your ablutions regularly? or do you continue to live
in that fit state for eternal perdition which we were wont to do at

‘Why do you speak thus to me?’ said I. ‘What can it be to you whether I
pray or not?’

‘It is not much to me,’ answered the dervish, ‘but it is a great deal
to yourself. This Kom is a place that, excepting on the subject of
religion, and settling who are worthy of salvation and who to be damned,
no one opens his lips. Every man you meet is either a descendant of the
Prophet or a man of the law. All wear long and mortified faces, and seem
to look upon that man as an appointed subject for the eternal fires, who
happens to have a rosy cheek and a laughing eye. Therefore, as soon as
I approach the place, I always change the atmosphere of my countenance
from fair to haze, and from haze to downright clouds and darkness,
according as circumstances may require. My knees, which scarcely ever
touch the praying carpet, now perform their functions five good times
per day; and I, who in any other place never consult any Kebleh[78] but
that of my own pleasure and inclinations, now know the direction of the
true one, as well as I know the way to my mouth.’

‘All this is very well,’ said I; ‘but what may be the use of it? I am a
Mussulman, ’tis true, but to such a pitch as this--no never.

‘The use?’ answered the dervish. ‘The use is this; that it will save you
from being starved or stoned to death. These priests will hearken to no
medium,--either you are a true believer or you are not. If they were
to have the least suspicion that you doubted any of the articles of the
faith,--that you did not look upon the Koran as a living miracle, and
did not read it with becoming reverence, whether you understand or
not,--they would soon show you what power they possess. And if they were
to suppose you to be a _Sûfi_ (a free thinker), by the death of your
father and mother, they would tear you into little pieces, and then
feel contented that they had got on another post on the high road
to paradise. Perhaps, friend Hajji, you do not know that this is the
residence of the celebrated Mirza Abdul Cossim, the first _mûshtehed_
(divine) of Persia; a man who, if he were to give himself sufficient
stir, would make the people believe any doctrine that he might choose
to promulgate. Such is his influence, that many believe he could even
subvert the authority of the Shah himself, and make his subjects look
upon his firmans as worthless, as so much waste paper. But the truth is,
he is a good man; and, except stoning his sûfi, and holding us wandering
dervishes as the dirt under his feet, I know of no fault in him.’

Having heard him out, I agreed that, however I might deplore the want of
habit in my religious duties, yet, situated as I was, it was necessary
that I should acquire them, in order to be held in proper estimation
by the great authorities, under whose eye I was immediately placed; and
forthwith I set about saying my prayers and making my ablutions, as
if my very existence depended upon my regularity. Indeed, what I had
formerly looked upon as irksome ceremony, now became an agreeable
pastime, and helped greatly to soften the tedium of my melancholy life.
I never omitted to rise at the first call; to make my ablutions at the
cistern, using all the forms of the strictest shiah, and then to pray in
the most conspicuous spot I could find. The intonations of my _Allah
ho akbar_ were to be heard in each corner of the tomb, and I hoped they
came to the ear of every inhabitant of it. No face wore a more mortified
appearance than mine: even the dervish, who was the best mimic possible,
could not beat me in the downcast eye, the hypocritical ejaculation, the
affected taciturnity of the sour, proud, and bigoted man of the law.

It became known that. I was a refugee at the sanctuary; and I very soon
discovered the advantages which the dervish had promised me, from taking
upon me the airs of the place, and assuming the character of a rigid
Mussulman. He spread abroad the history of my misfortune, of course much
to my advantage, giving me out for one who was suffering for the sins of
another, and asserting that the doctor ought, in fact, to have been the

I became acquainted with the principal personages of the town, who were
agreed that they had never known a better model of a true believer than
I; and had I not been confined to the walls of the sanctuary, it was in
contemplation to have made me a _peish namaz_ (a leader of the prayers)
at their religious meetings in the mosque. I found that the profound
taciturnity which I had adopted was the best help towards the
establishment of a high reputation for wisdom; and that, by the help
of my beads, which I kept constantly counting, a mumble of my lips,
and occasional groans and pious exclamations, the road to the highest
consideration was open to me.

My dervish and I lived almost free of expense, so plentifully were
we supplied with food. The women, in particular, did not lose an
opportunity of bringing me presents of fruit, honey, bread, and other
necessaries, for which I repaid them with kind thanks, and now and then
with a talisman, written with my own hand.

But although our life was one of ease, yet it was so dull, and so void
of incident, that even the spirits of my companion began to sink under
it. In order to fill up some of the long hours of listlessness which
oppressed us, I encouraged him to recite all his stories, one by one,
not forgetting the one which he had related with so much effect in
the caravanserai of the sultan’s reservoir, and we found this a very
agreeable mode of closing the day.

I feel, O reader, that you also may partake of that same dullness
which oppressed me; and I think it but fair that I should endeavour to
dissipate it, in the same manner as mine was by the dervish,--therefore
I will repeat the story which he related to me; and, whether it amuses
you or not, yet perhaps you will be glad to know how the mind of a poor
prisoner, in the sanctuary at Kom, was diverted from its miseries.

[Illustration: The baked head. 23.jpg]


The present Khon-khor of Roum[79] is a staunch Mussulman and a rigid
upholder of the true faith. Upon his coming to the throne, he announced
his intention of doing away with many customs common to the infidels,
which had crept into the administration of the state during the reign
of his predecessor; and he thought it his duty to endeavour to restore
things to their primitive simplicity and to adopt a mode of government
purely Turkish. Accordingly he resumed a custom which had almost got
into disuse,--that of going about the city in _tebdil_, or disguise; and
he was so careful about the disguises which he adopted, and the people
whom he admitted into his secrets on these occasions, that he took all
sorts of precautions, and invented all sorts of schemes of secrecy, in
whatever related to his dresses, and the characters in which he chose to

It is not long ago that considerable discontent prevailed throughout
Turkey, and rebellion threatened to break out in Constantinople itself.
He was then very anxious to ascertain the temper of the public mind;
and, in his usual wary manner, determined to get a suit made that would
make him undiscoverable by even his own immediate attendants.

He usually sent for different tailors at different times, and in
different places. On this occasion he ordered his favourite slave,
the white eunuch Mansouri, to bring him one of no repute, with all
the requisite secrecy, at midnight, in order that he might receive
instructions about a dress.

The slave in great humility made his _bash ustun_ (on my head be it),
and went his way to execute the command.

Close to the gate of the _Bezesten_, or cloth-market, he saw an old man
in a stall, so narrow that he could scarce turn himself about in it, who
was taken up in patching an old cloak. He was almost bent double with
constant labour at his shopboard; and his eyes seemed not to have
benefited by his application, for a pair of glasses were mounted on his
nose. "This is precisely the man I want," said the slave to himself: "I
am sure he can be of no repute." So intent was he upon his work, that he
did not heed the salutation of "Peace be with you, friend!" with which
Mansouri accosted him; and when he did look up, and saw the well-dressed
personage whom he thought had spoken, he continued his work, without
making the usual reply; for he could not suppose that the salutation was
meant for such a poor devil as he.

However, finding that he was the object of the eunuch's attention, he
doffed the spectacles, threw away his work, and was about getting on his
legs, when he was stopped, and requested not to disturb himself.

"What your name?" said Mansouri.

"Abdallah," said the tailor, "at your service; but I am generally called
Babadul by my friends and the world at large."

"You are a tailor, are you not?" continued the slave.

"Yes," said the other, "I am a tailor as well as the muezzin at the
little mosque in the fish-market. What more can I do?"

"Well, Babadul," said Mansouri, "have you a mind for a job,--a good

"Am I a fool," answered the old man, "that I should dislike it? Say what
it is."

"Softly, my friend," remarked the eunuch; "we must go on slow and sure.
Will you suffer yourself to be led blindfolded at midnight wherever I
choose to take you, for a job?"

"That's another question," said Babadul; "times are critical, heads
fly in abundance, and a poor tailor's may go as well as a vizier's or a
capitan pacha's. But pay me well, and I believe I would make a suit of
clothes for Eblis, the foul fiend, himself."

"Well, then, you agree to my proposal?" said the eunuch, who at the same
time put two pieces of gold in his hand.

"Yes, most surely," said Babadul, "I agree. Tell me what I am to do, and
you may depend upon me."

Accordingly they settled between them that the eunuch was to come to the
stall at midnight, and lead him away blindfolded.

Babadul, being left alone, continued his work, wondering what could be
the job upon which he was to be so mysteriously employed; and, anxious
to make his wife partaker of the news of his good luck, he shut up his
stall earlier than usual, and went to his house, that was situated
not far from the little mosque in the fish-market, of which he was the

Old Dilferîb, his wife, was almost as much bent double as her husband;
and in consequence of the two gold pieces, and contemplation of more
which they expected to receive, they treated themselves to a dish of
smoking kabobs, a salad, dried grapes, and sweetmeats, after which they
consoled themselves with some of the hottest and most bitter coffee
which the old woman could make.

True to his appointment, Babadul was at his stall at midnight, where
he was as punctually met by Mansouri. Without any words, the former
permitted himself to be blindfolded, whilst the latter led him away by
the hand, making many and devious turns, until they reached the imperial
seraglio; there, stopping only to open the private iron gate, Mansouri
introduced the tailor into the very heart of the sultan's private
apartments. The bandage over his eyes was taken off in a dark chamber,
lighted up only by a small lamp, which stood on the shelf surrounding
the top of the room, but which was splendidly furnished by sofas of the
richest brocade, and by carpets of the most costly manufacture. Here
Babadul was commanded to sit, until Mansouri returned with a bundle,
wrapped in a large shawl handkerchief: this being opened, a sort of
dervish's dress was displayed to the tailor, and he was requested to
look at it, to consider how long he would be making such a one, and
then to return it again, duly folded up, to its shawl covering. In the
meanwhile, Mansouri told him to stay there until he should return to
take him away again, and then left him.

Babadul, having turned the dress over and over again, calculated
each stitch, and, come to his proper conclusions, packed it up in the
handkerchief, as he had been commanded; but no sooner had he done this
than a man of lofty demeanour and appearance, whose look made the poor
tailor shrink within himself, came into the room, took up the bundle,
and walked away with it, without uttering a single word.

A few minutes after, as Babadul was pondering over the strangeness of
his situation, and just recovering from the effects of this apparition,
a door opened in another part of the apartment, and a mysterious figure,
richly dressed, came in, bearing a bundle, equally covered with a shawl,
about the size of that which had just been taken away; and making the
lowest prostrations before the tailor, in great apparent trepidation,
approached him, placed it at his feet, kissed the ground, and retreated
without saying a word, or even looking up.

"Well," said Babadul to himself: "this may be something very fine, and
I may be some very great personage, for aught I know; but this is very
certain, that I had rather be patching my old cloak in the stall than
doing this job, however grand and lucrative it may be. Who knows what
I may have been brought here for? These comings in and goings out of
strange-looking people, apparently without tongues in their heads,
do not argue well. I wish they would give me fewer bows and a greater
supply of words, from which I might learn what I am to get by all this.
I have heard of poor women having been sewn up in sacks and thrown into
the sea. Who knows? perhaps I am destined to be the tailor on such an

He had scarcely got thus far in his soliloquy when the slave Mansouri
re-entered the room and told him, without more words, to take up the
bundle; which having done, his eyes were again blindfolded, and he was
led to the spot from whence he came. Babadul, true to his agreement,
asked no questions, but agreed with the slave that in three days the
dress should be ready for delivery at his stall for which he was to
receive ten more pieces of gold.

Having got rid of his companion, he proceeded with all haste to his
house, where he knew his wife would be impatiently waiting his return;
and as he walked onwards he congratulated himself that at length he had
succeeded in getting indeed a job worth the having, and that his fate
had finally turned up something good for his old age. It was about two
o'clock in the morning when he reached the door of his house. He was
received by his wife with expressions of great impatience at his long
absence; but when he held up the bundle to her face, as she held up
the lamp to his, and when he said, "_Mujdeh_, give me a reward for good
news:--see, I have got my work, and a handsome reward we shall get when
it is finished," she was all smiles and good humour.

"Leave it there till we get up, and let us go to bed now," said the

"No, no," said the wife, "I must look at what you have got before I
retire, or I shall not be able to sleep": upon which, whilst he held up
the lamp she opened the bundle. Guess, guess at the astonishment of the
tailor and his wife, when, instead of seeing a suit of clothes, they
discovered, wrapped in a napkin, in its most horrid and ghastly state, a
human head!

It fell from the old woman's hands and rolled away some paces, whilst
the horror-struck couple first hid their faces with their hands, and
then looked at each other with countenances which nothing can describe.

"Work!" cried the wife, "work, indeed! pretty work you have made of it!
Was it necessary to go so far, and to take such precautions, to bring
this misfortune on our heads? Did you bring home this dead man's head to
make a suit of clothes of?"

"_Anna senna! Baba senna!_ Curses be on his mother! Perdition seize his
father!" exclaimed the poor tailor, "for bringing me into this dilemma.
My heart misgave me as that dog of a eunuch talked of blindfolding and
silence to me: I thought, as true as I am a Turk, that the job could not
consist only in making a suit of clothes; and sure enough this dog's son
has tacked a head to it. Allah! Allah! what am I to do now? I know not
the way to his home, or else I would take it back to him immediately,
and throw it in his face. We shall have the bostangi bashi and a hundred
other bashis here in a minute, and we shall be made to pay the price of
blood; or, who knows, be hanged, or drowned, or impaled! What shall we
do, eh, Dilferîb, my soul, say?"

"Do?" said his wife; "get rid of the head, to be sure: we have no more
right to have it palmed upon us than anybody else."

"But the day will soon dawn," said the tailor, "and then it will be too
late. Let us be doing something at once."

"A thought has struck me," said the old woman. "Our neighbour, the
baker, Hassan, heats his oven at this hour, and begins soon after to
bake his bread for his morning's customers. He frequently has different
sorts of things to bake from the neighbouring houses, which are placed
near the oven's mouth over-night: suppose I put this head into one of
our earthen pots and send it to be baked; no body will find it out until
it is done, and then we need not send for it, so it will remain on the
baker's hands."

Babadul admired his wife's sagacity, and forthwith she put her plan into
execution. When the head had been placed in a baking-pan, she watched
a moment when nobody was at hand, and set it on the ground, in the same
row with the other articles that were to be inserted in Hassan's oven.
The old couple then double-barred the door of their house, and retired
to rest, comforting themselves with the acquisition of the fine shawl
and napkin in which the head had been wrapped.

The baker Hassan and his son Mahmûd were heating their oven, inserting
therein thorns, chips, and old rubbish at a great rate, when their
attention was arrested by the extraordinary whinings and barking of a
dog, that was a constant customer at the oven for stray bits of bread,
and much befriended by Hassan and his son, who were noted for being
conscientious Mussulmans.

"Look, Mahmûd," said the father to the son, "see what is the matter with
the dog: something extraordinary is in the wind."

The son did what his father bade him, and seeing no reason for the dog's
noises, said, "_Bir chey yok_, there is nothing," and drove him away.

But the howlings not ceasing, Hassan went himself, and found the dog
most extremely intent upon smelling and pointing at the tailor's pipkin.
He jumped upon Hassan, then at the pot, then upon Hassan again, until
the baker no longer doubted that the beast took great interest in its
contents. He therefore gently drew off the lid, when need I mention his
horror and surprise at seeing a human head staring him in the face?

"Allah! Allah!" cried the baker; but being a man of strong nerves,
instead of letting it fall, as most people would have done, he quietly
put on the lid again, and called his son to him.

"Mahmûd," said he, "this is a bad world, and there are bad men in it.
Some wicked infidel has sent a man's head to bake; but thanks to our
good fortune, and to the dog, our oven has been saved from pollution,
and we can go on making our bread with clean hands and clear
consciences. But since the devil is at work, let others have a visit
from him as well as ourselves. If it be known that we have had a dead
man's head to bake, who will ever employ us again? we must starve, we
must shut up our oven; we shall get the reputation of mixing up our
dough with human grease, and if perchance a hair is found, it will
immediately be said that it came from the dead man's beard."

Mahmûd, a youth of about twenty, who partook of his father's
insensibility and coolness, and who, moreover, had a great deal of dry
humour and ready wit, looked upon the incident in the light of a good
joke, and broke out into a hearty laugh when he saw the ugly picture
which the grinning head made, set in its earthen frame.

"Let us pop it into the shop of Kior Ali, the barber, opposite," said
the youth; "he is just beginning to open it, and as he has but one eye,
we shall be better able to do so without being seen. Do, father," said
Mahmûd, "let me; nobody shall discover me; and let it be done before
there is more daylight."

The father consented; and Mahmûd catching the moment when the barber had
walked to the corner of the street to perform certain ablutions, stepped
into his shop, and placed the head on a sort of takcheh, or bracket on
the wall, arranged some shaving towels about it, as if it had been a
customer ready seated to be shaved, and, with a boy's mischief in his
heart, stepped back to his oven again, to watch the effects which this
new sort of customer would have upon the blind barber.

[Illustration: ‘“O mercy! mercy!” cried Kior Ali’. 24.jpg]

Kior Ali hobbled into his shop, which was but ill lighted by a
glimmering of daylight that hardly pierced through the oil-papered
windows, and looking about him, saw this figure, as he supposed, seated
against the wall ready to be operated upon.

"Ha! peace be unto you!" said he to it: "you are rather early this
morning; I did not see you at first. My water is not yet hot. Oh, I
see you want your head shaved! but why do you take off your _fese_
(skull-cap) so soon? you will catch cold." Then he paused. "No answer,"
said the barber to himself. "I suppose he is dumb, and deaf too perhaps.
Well, I am half blind: so we are nearly upon equal terms: however, if I
were even to lose my other eye," addressing himself to the head, "I dare
say, my old uncle, I could shave you for all that; for my razor would
glide as naturally over your head, as a draught of good wine does over
my throat."

He went methodically about his preparations; he took down his tin basin
from a peg, prepared his soap, then stropped his razor on the long bit
of leather that was fastened to his girdle. Having made his lather, he
walked up to the supposed customer, holding the basin in his left hand,
whilst his right was extended to sprinkle the first preparation of water
on the sconce. No sooner had he placed his hand on the cold head, than
he withdrew it, as if he had been burnt. "Eh! why, what's the matter
with you, friend?" said the barber; "you are as cold as a piece of ice."
But when he attempted a second time to lather it, down it came with a
terrible bounce from the shelf to the floor, and made the poor shaver
jump quite across his shop with the fright.

"Aman! aman! O mercy, mercy!" cried Kior Ali, as he thrust himself into
the furthermost corner without daring to move: "take my shop, my razors,
my towels,--take all I have; but don't touch my life! If you are the
Shaitan, speak; but excuse my shaving you!"

But when he found that all was hushed after the catastrophe, and that
nothing was to be feared, he approached the head and taking it up by the
lock of hair at the top, he looked at it in amazement. "A head, by all
the Imâms!" said he, accosting it: "and how did you get here? Do you
want to disgrace me, you filthy piece of flesh? but you shall not!
Although Kior Ali has lost one eye, yet his other is a sharp one, and
knows what it is about. I would give you to the baker Hassan there, if
his rogue of a son, who is now looking this way, was not even sharper
than this self-same eye; but now I think of it, I will take you where
you can do no harm. The Giaour Yanaki, the Greek _kabobchi_ [80] (roast
meat man), shall have you, and shall cut you up into mincemeat for his
infidel customers." Upon this Kior Ali, drawing in one hand, in which
he carried the head, through the slit on the sides of his _beniche_, or
cloak, and taking up his pipe in the other, he walked down two streets
to the shop of the aforesaid Greek.

He frequented it in preference to that if a Mussulman, because he could
here drink wine with impunity. From long practice he knew precisely
where the provision of fresh meat was kept, and as he entered the shop,
casting his eye furtively round, he threw the head in a dark corner,
behind one of the large sides of a sheep that was to be used for the
kabobs if the day. No one saw him perform this feat; for the morning
was still sufficiently obscure to screen him. He lighted his pipe at
Yanaki's charcoal fire, and as a pretext for his visit, ordered a dish
of meat to be sent to him for breakfast; a treat to which he thought
himself fully entitled after his morning's adventure.

Yanaki, meanwhile, having cleaned his platters, put his skewers in
order, lit his fires, made his sherbets, and swept out his shop, went to
the larder for some meat for the shaver's breakfast. Yanaki was a
true Greek:--cunning, cautious, deceitful; cringing to his superiors,
tyrannical towards his inferiors; detesting with a mortal hatred his
proud masters, the Osmanlies, yet fawning, flattering, and abject
whenever any of them, however low in life, deigned to take notice of
him. Turning over his stock, he looked about for some old bits that
might serve the present purpose, muttering to himself that any carrion
was good enough for a Turk's stomach. He surveyed his half sheep from
top to bottom; felt it, and said, "No, this will keep"; but as he turned
up its fat tail, the eye of the dead man's head caught his eye, and made
him start, and step back some paces. "As ye love your eyes," exclaimed
he, "who is there?" Receiving no answer, he looked again, and again;
then nearer, then, thrusting his hand among sheep's heads and trotters,
old remnants of meat, and the like, he pulled out the head--the horrid
head--which he held extended at arm's length, as if he were afraid it
would do him mischief. "Anathemas attend your beard!" exclaimed Yanaki,
as soon as he discovered, by the tuft of hair on the top, that it had
belonged to a Mussulman, "Och! if I had but every one of your heads in
this manner, ye cursed race of Omar! I would make kabobs of them, and
every cur in Constantinople should get fat for nothing. May ye all come
to this end! May the vultures feed on your carcasses! and may every
Greek have the good fortune which has befallen me this day, of having
one of your worthless skulls for his football!" Upon which, in his rage,
he threw it down and kicked it from him; but recollecting himself he
said, "But, after all, what shall I do with it? If it is seen here, I am
lost for ever: nobody will believe but what I have killed a Turk."

[Illustration: ‘To where the dead body of a Jew lay extended.’ 25.jpg]

All of a sudden he cried out, in a sort of malicious ecstasy, "'Tis well
I remembered,--the Jew! the Jew!--a properer place for such a head was
never thought or heard of; and there you shall go, thou vile remnant of
a Mahomedan!"

Upon which he seized it, and hiding it under his coat, ran with it down
the street to where the dead body of a Jew lay extended, with its head
placed immediately between its legs.

In Turkey, you must know, when a Mahomedan is beheaded, his head is
placed under his arm, by way of an honourable distinction from the
Christian or Jew, who, when a similar misfortune befalls them, have
theirs inserted between their legs, as close to the seat of dishonour as

It was in that situation then that Yanaki placed the Turk's head,
putting it as near, cheek by jowl, with the Jew's, as the hurry of the
case would allow. He had been able to effect this without being seen,
because the day was still but little advanced, and no one stirring;
and he returned to his shop, full of exultation at having been able to
discharge his feelings of hatred against his oppressors, by placing
one of their heads on the spot in nature, which, according to his
estimation, was the most teeming with opprobrium.

The unfortunate sufferer on this occasion had been accused of stealing
and putting to death a Mahomedan child (a ceremony in their religion,
which they have been known to practice both in Turkey and Persia),
and which created such an extraordinary tumult among the mob of
Constantinople, that, in order to appease it, he had been decapitated.
His execution had taken place purposely before the door of a wealthy
Greek, and the body was ordered to remain there three days before it
was permitted to be carried away for interment. The expectation that the
Greek would be induced to pay down a handsome sum, in order that this
nuisance might be removed from his door, and save him from the ill luck
which such an object is generally supposed to bring, made the officer
entrusted with the execution prefer this spot to every other. But,
careless of the consequences, the Greek shut up the windows of
his house, determined to deprive his oppressors of their expected
perquisite; and so the dead Jew remained exposed his full time. Few
excepting those of the true faith ventured to approach the spot, fearful
that the Mohamedan authorities would, in their wanton propensities to
heap insults upon the Giaours, oblige some one of them to carry the
carcass to the place of burial; and thus the horrid and disgusting
object was left abandoned to itself, and this had given an opportunity
to the kabobchi, Yanaki, to dispose of the head in the manner above
related, unseen and unmolested. But when, as the day advanced, and as
the stir of the streets became more active, this additional head was
discovered, the crowd, which gathered about it, became immense. It was
immediately rumoured that a miracle had been performed; for a dead Jew
was to be seen with two heads. The extraordinary intelligence flew from
mouth to mouth, until the whole city was in an uproar, and all were
running to see the miracle. The Sanhedrim immediately pronounced that
something extraordinary was about to happen to their persecuted race.
Rabbins were to be seen running to and fro, and their whole community
was now poured around the dead body, in expectation that he would
perhaps arise, put on his heads, and deliver them from the grip of their

But as ill luck would have it for them, a Janissary, who had mixed
in the crowd and had taken a close survey of the supernumerary head,
exclaimed in a mixture of doubt and amazement, "Allah, Allah, il Allah!
these are no infidel's heads. One is the head of our lord and master,
the Aga of the Janissaries." Upon which, seeing more of his companions,
he called them to him and making known his discovery, they became
violent with rage, and set off to communicate the intelligence to their

The news spread like wildfire throughout the whole of the corps of the
Janissaries, and a most alarming tumult was immediately excited: for it
seems that it was unknown in the capital that their chief, to whom they
were devotedly attached, and one of their own selection, had been put to

"What!" said they, "is it not enough to deal thus treacherously with
us, and deprive us of a chief to whom we are attached; but we must
be treated with the greatest contempt that it is possible for men to
receive? What! the head of our most noble Aga of the Janissaries to
be placed upon the most ignoble part of a Jew! what are we come to?
We alone are not insulted; the whole of Islam is insulted, degraded,
debased! No: this is unheard-of insolence, a stain never to be wiped
off, without the extermination of the whole race! And what dog has done
this deed? How did the head get there? Is it that dog of a Vizier's
work, or has the Reis Effendi and those traitors of Frank ambassadors
been at work? _Wallah, Billah, Tallah!_ by the holy Caaba, by the beard
of Osman, and by the sword of Omar, we will be revenged!"

We must leave the tumult to rage for a short time; we must request
the reader to imagine a scene, in which the Jews are flying in all
directions, hiding themselves with great precaution against enraged
Turks, who with expressions like those just mentioned in their mouths,
are to be seen walking about in groups, armed to their teeth with
pistols and scimitars, and vowing vengeance upon everything which came
in their way. He must imagine a city of narrow streets and low houses,
thronged with a numerous population, dresses the most various in shape
and the most lively in colours, all anxious, all talking, all agog as if
something extraordinary was to happen; in the midst of whom I will leave
him, to take a look into the interior of the sultan's seraglio, and
to inquire in what his eminency himself had been engaged since we last
noticed him.

On the very same night of the tailor's attendance, the sultan had given
a secret order for taking off the head of the Aga of the Janissaries
(the fomenter of all the disturbances which had lately taken place among
his corps, and consequently their idol); and so anxious was he about its
execution, that he had ordered it to be brought to him the moment it was
off. The man entrusted with the execution, upon entering the room
where he had been directed to bring the head, seeing some one seated,
naturally took him for the sultan, and, without daring to look up,
immediately placed the burden at his feet, with the prostrations which
we have ready described as having been performed before the tailor. The
sultan, who not a minute before had taken away the bundle containing
the dervish's dress, had done so in the intention of deceiving his slave
Mansouri himself; so anxious was he of being unknown in his new disguise
even to him; and intended to have substituted another in its stead;
but not calculating either upon the reception of the head, or upon
Mansouri's immediate return to the tailor, he was himself completely
puzzled how to act when he found the tailor was gone, led off by his
slave. To have sent after them would have disconcerted his schemes, and
therefore he felt himself obliged to wait Mansouri's return, before he
could get an explanation of what had happened; for he knew that they
would not have gone away without the dress, and that dress he had then
in his possession. In the meanwhile, anxious and impatient to know
what had become of the expected head, he sent for the officer who
was entrusted with the execution; and the astonishment of both may be
imagined when an explanation took place.

"By my beard!" exclaimed the sultan, having thought awhile within
himself; "by my beard, the tailor must have got the head!"

His impatience for Mansouri's return then became extreme. In vain he
fretted, fumed, and cried "Allah! Allah!" It did not make the slave
retum a minute the sooner, who, good man, would have gone quietly to
rest had he not been called upon to appear before the sultan.

As soon as he was within hearing, he called out, "Ahi! Mansouri,
run immediately to the tailor--he has got the head of the Aga of the
Janissaries instead of the dervish's dress--run, fetch it without loss
of time, or something unfortunate will happen!" He then explained
how this untoward event had occurred. Mansouri now, in his turn, felt
himself greatly embarrassed; for he only knew the road to the tailor's
stall, but was totally unacquainted with his dwelling-house. However,
rather than excite his master's anxiety in a higher degree, he set off
in quest of the tailor, and went straight to his stall, in the hopes of
hearing from the neighbours where his house was. It was too early in the
day for the opening of the Bezesten, and except a coffee-house that had
just prepared for the reception of customers, where he applied and could
gain no intelligence, he found himself completely at a standstill. By
the greatest good luck, he recollected Babadul had told him that he
was the muezzin to the little mosque in the fish-market, and thither he
immediately bent his steps. The azan, or morning invitation to prayers,
was now chanting forth from all the minarets, and he expected that he
might catch the purloiner of his head in the very act of inviting the
faithful to prayers.

As he approached the spot, he heard an old broken and tremulous voice,
which he imagined might be Babadul's, breaking the stillness of the
morning by all the energy of its lungs; and he was not mistaken, for as
he stood under the minaret, he perceived the old man walking round the
gallery which encircles it, with his hand applied to the back of his
ear, and with his mouth wide open, pouring out his whole throat in the
execution of his office. As soon as the tailor saw Mansouri making signs
to him, the profession of faith stuck in his throat; and between the
fright of being brought to account for the head, and the words which he
had to pronounce, it is said that he made so strange a jumble, that some
of the stricter Mussulmans, his neighbours, who were paying attention to
the call, professed themselves quite scandalized at his performance. He
descended with all haste, and locking the door after him which leads up
the winding staircase, he met Mansouri in the street. He did not wait
to be questioned respecting the fate of the horrid object, but at once
attacked the slave concerning the trick, as he called it, which had been
put upon him.

"Are you a man," said he, "to treat a poor Emir like me in the manner
you have done, as if my house was a charnel-house? I suppose you will
ask me the price of blood next!"

"Friend," said Mansouri, "what are you talking about? do not you see
that it has been a mistake?"

"A mistake, indeed!" cried the tailor, "a mistake done on purpose to
bring a poor man into trouble. One man laughs at my stupid beard, and
makes me believe that I am to make a suit of clothes for him--another
takes away the pattern--and a third substitutes a dead man's head for
it. Allah! Allah! I have got into the hands of a pretty nest of rogues,
a set of ill-begotten knaves!"

Upon which Mansouri placed his hand upon the tailor's mouth, and said,
"Say no more, say no more; you are getting deeper into the dirt. Do you
know whom you are abusing."

"I know not, nor care not," answered Babadul; "all I know is that
whoever gives me a dead man's head for a suit of clothes can only be an
infidel dog."

"Do you call God's viceregent upon earth, you old demi-stitching,
demi-praying fool, an infidel dog?" exclaimed Mansouri in a rage, which
entirely made him forget the precaution he had hitherto maintained
concerning his employer. "Are your vile lips to defile the name of him
who is the _Alem penah_, the refuge of the world? What dirt are you
eating, what ashes are you heaping on your head? Come, no more words;
tell me where the dead man's head is, or I will take yours of in his

Upon hearing this, the tailor stood with his mouth wide open, as if the
doors of his understanding had just been unlocked.

"_Aman, aman,_ Mercy, mercy, O Aga!" cried Babadul to Mansouri, "I was
ignorant of what I was saying. Who would have thought it? Ass, fool,
dolt, that I am, not to have known better. _Bismillah!_ in the name or
the Prophet, pray come to my house; your steps will be fortunate, and
your slave's head will touch the stars."

"I am in a hurry, a great hurry," said Mansouri. "Where is the head, the
head of the Aga of the Janissaries?"

When the tailor heard whose head it had been, and recollected what he
and his wife had done with it, his knees knocked under him with fear,
and he began to exude from every pore.

"Where is it, indeed?" said he. "Oh! what has come upon us! Oh! what
cursed _kismet_ (fate) is this?"

"Where is it?" exclaimed the slave, again and again, "where is it? speak

The poor tailor was completely puzzled what to say, and kept floundering
from one answer to another until he was quite entangled as in a net.

"Have you burnt it?"


"Have you thrown it away?"


"Then in the name of the Prophet what have you done with it? Have you
ate it."


"Is it lying in your house?"


"Is it hiding at any other person's house?"


Then at last quite out of patience, the slave Mansouri took Babadul by
his beard, and shaking his head for him, exclaimed with a roar, "Then
tell me, you old dotard! what is it doing?"

"It is baking," answered the tailor, half choked: "I have said it."

"Baking! did you say?" exclaimed the slave, in the greatest amazement;
"what did you bake it for? Are you going to eat it?"

"True, I said: what would you have more?" answered Babadul, "it is now
baking." And then he gave a full account of what he and his wife had
done in the sad dilemma in which they had been placed.

"Show me the way to the baker's," said Mansouri; "at least, we will get
it in its singed state, if we can get it in no other. Whoever thought of
baking the head of the Aga of the Janissaries? _Allah il allah!_"

They then proceeded to the baker Hassan's, who was now about taking his
bread from his oven. As soon as he became acquainted with their errand,
he did not hesitate in telling all the circumstances attending the
transmission of the head from the pipkin to the barber's bracket; happy
to have had an opportunity of exculpating himself of what might possibly
have been brought up against him as a crime.

The three (Mansouri, the tailor, and the baker) then proceeded to the
barber's, and inquired from him what he had done with the head of his
earliest customer.

Kior Ali, after some hesitation, made great assurances that he
looked upon this horrid object as a donation from Eblis himself, and
consequently that he had thought himself justified in transferring it
over to the Giaour Yanaki, who, he made no doubt, had already made his
brother-infidels partake of it in the shape of kabobs. Full of wonder
and amazement, invoking the Prophet at each step, and uncertain as to
the result of such unheard-of adventures, they then added the barber to
their party, and proceeded to Yanaki's cook-shop.

The Greek, confounded at seeing so many of the true believers enter his
house, had a sort of feeling that their business was not of roast meat,
but that they were in search of meat of a less savoury nature. As soon
as the question had been put to him concerning the head, he stoutly
denied having seen it, or knowing anything at all concerning it.

The barber showed the spot where he had placed it, and swore it upon the

Mansouri had undertaken the investigation of the point in question, when
they discovered symptoms of the extraordinary agitation that prevailed
in the city in consequence of the discovery which had been made of the
double-headed Jew, and of the subsequent discovery that had produced
such great sensation among the whole corps of Janissaries.

Mansouri, followed by the tailor, the baker, and the barber, then
proceeded to the spot where the dead Israelite was prostrate; and there,
to their astonishment, they each recognized their morning visitor--the
head so long sought after.

Yanaki, the Greek, in the meanwhile, conscious of what was likely to
befall him, without loss of time gathered what money he had ready at
hand, and fled the city.

"Where is the Greek?" said Mansouri, turning round to look for him in
the supposition that he had joined his party; "we must all go before the

"I dare say he is run off," said the barber. "I am not so blind but I
can see that he it is who gifted the Jew with his additional head."

Mansouri now would have carried off the head; but surrounded as it was
by a band of enraged and armed soldiers, who vowed vengeance upon him
who had deprived them of their chief, he thought it most prudent to
withdraw. Leading with him his three witnesses, he at once proceeded to
the presence of his master.

When Mansouri had informed the sultan of all that had happened, where he
had found the head of the Aga of the Janissaries, how it had got there,
and of the tumult it had raised, the reader may better imagine than I
can describe the state of the monarch's mind. To tell the story with all
its particulars he felt would be derogatory to his dignity, for it was
sure to cover him with ridicule; but at the same time to let the matter
rest as it now stood was impossible, because the tumult would increase
until there would be no means of quelling it, and the affair might
terminate by depriving him of his crown, together with his life.

He remained in a state of indecision for some time, twisting up the
ends of his mustachios, and muttering Allah! Allah! in low ejaculations,
until at length he ordered the prime vizier and the mûfti to his

Alarmed by the abruptness of the summons, these two great dignitaries
arrived at the imperial gate in no enviable state of mind; but when the
sultan had informed them of the tumult then raging in the capital, they
resumed their usual tranquillity.

After some deliberation it was resolved, that the tailor, the baker, the
barber, and the kabobchi should appear before the tribunal of the mûfti,
accused of having entered into a conspiracy against the Aga of the
Janissaries, and stealing his head, for the purposes of baking, shaving,
and roasting it, and that they should be condemned to pay the price
of his blood; but as the kabobchi had been the immediate cause of the
tumult by treating the head with such gross and unheard-of insult, and
as he was a Greek and an infidel, it was further resolved that the Mûfti
should issue a _fetwah_, authorizing his head to be cut off: and placed
on the same odious spot where he had exposed that of the Aga of the

It was then agreed between the sultan and his grand vizier, that in
order to appease the Janissaries a new Aga should be appointed who was
agreeable to them, and that the deceased should be buried with becoming
distinction. All this (except killing the Greek, who had fled) was done,
and tranquillity again restored to the city. But it must further be
added to the honour of the sultan, that he not only paid every expense
which the tailor, the baker, and the barber were condemned to incur, but
also gave them each a handsome reward for the difficulties into which
they had so unfortunately been thrown.

I have much curtailed the story, particularly where Mansouri proceeds to
relate to the sultan the fate of the head, because, had I given it with
all the details the dervish did, it would have been over long. Indeed
I have confined myself as much as possible to the outline; for to have
swelled the narrative with the innumerable digressions of my companion a
whole volume would not have contained it. The art of a story-teller
(and it is that which marks a man of genius) is to make his tale
interminable, and still to interest his audience. So the dervish assured
me; and added, that with the materials of the one which I have attempted
to repeat, he would bind himself to keep talking for a whole moon, and
still have something to say.


He becomes a saint, and associates with the most celebrated divine in

At length Mirza Abdul Cossim himself, having heard much of my sanctity,
took an opportunity, when visiting the shrine of the saint, to send for
me. This was an event which I contemplated with apprehension; for how
could I possibly conceal my ignorance from one who would certainly put
my pretensions of knowledge to the test?--an ignorance so profound, that
I could scarcely give an account of what were the first principles of
the Mohamedan faith.

I, therefore, began to take myself to task upon what I did know. ‘Let
me see,’ said I, ‘I know, lst, that all those who do not believe in
Mahomed, and in Ali his lieutenant, are infidels and heretics, and are
worthy of death. 2ndly, I also know that all men will go to Jehanum
(hell), excepting the true believers; and I further believe that it
is right to curse Omar.--I am certain that all the Turks will go to
_Jehanum_,--that all Christians and Jews are _nejis_ (unclean), and will
go to Jehanum,--that it is not lawful to drink wine or eat pork,--that
it is necessary to say prayers five times a day, and to make the
ablution before each prayer, causing the water to run from the elbow to
the fingers, not contrariwise, like the heretical Turks.’

I was proceeding to sum up the stock of my religious knowledge, when the
dervish came into the room; and I made no scruple of relating to him my
distress and its cause.

‘Have you lived so long in the world,’ said be, ‘and not yet discovered
that nothing is to be accomplished without impudence? The stories which
Dervish Sefer, his companion, and I related to you at Meshed, have they
made so little impression upon you?’

‘The effect of those stories upon my mind,’ said I, ‘produced such a
bastinado upon the soles of my feet, by way of a moral, that I request
you to be well assured I shall neither forget you nor them as long as
I live: the fêlek is a great help to the memory. And now, according to
your own account, instead of the bastinado, I am likely to get stoned,
should I be found wanting; a ceremony which, if it be the same to you, I
had rather dispense with. Say then, O dervish, what shall I do?’

‘You are not that Hajji Baba which I always took you to be,’ said the
dervish, ‘if you have not the ingenuity to deceive the mûshtehed. Keep
to your silence, and your sighs, and your shrugs, and your downcast
looks, and who is there that will discover you to be an ass? No, even I
could not.’

‘Well,’ said I, ‘be it so: _Allah kerim!_ God is great!--but it is being
in very ill luck to be invited to an entertainment to eat one’s own

Upon which I set forward with my most mortified and downcast looks to
visit the mûshtehed, and, thanks to my misfortunes, I truly believe that
no man in the whole city could boast of so doleful a cast of countenance
as I could. However, as I slowly paced the ground, I recollected one of
the tales recited by our great moralist Saadi, in his chapter upon the
Morals of Dervishes, which applied so perfectly to my own case, that I
own it cheered me greatly, and gave me a degree of courage to encounter
the scrutiny of the mûshtehed which otherwise I never could have
acquired. It is as follows:--

‘A devout personage was once asked, what he thought of the character
of a certain holy man, of whom others had spoken with slight and
disrespect? He answered, “In his exterior I can perceive no fault,
and of what is concealed within him I am ignorant. He who weareth an
exterior of religion, doubt not his goodness and piety, if you are
ignorant of the recesses of his heart. What hath the mohtesib to do with
the inside of the house?”’

I then recollected some sentences from the same chapter, which would
apply admirably in case I were called upon to show my learning and
humility at the same time; for I promised to say to the holy man, should
he offer me an opportunity, ‘Do unto me that which is worthy of thee,
treat me not according to my desert. Whether you slay or whether you
pardon, my head and face are on thy threshold. It is not for a servant
to direct; whatsoever thou commandest I shall perform.’

The mûshtehed had just finished his midday prayer, and was completing
the last act of it by turning his head first over the right shoulder
then over the left, when I entered the open apartment where he was
seated. It was lined with his disciples, on each side and at the top,
all of whom looked upon him with the reverence and respect due to a
master. Here he held his lectures. A mollah, with whom I was acquainted,
mentioned who I was, and forthwith I was invited to take my place on the
carpet, which I did, after having with great humility kissed the hem of
the holy man’s cloak. ‘You are welcome,’ said he; ‘we have heard a
great deal concerning you, Hajji, and _inshallah_, your steps will be
fortunate. Sit up higher!’

I made all sorts of remonstrances against sitting higher up in the room
(for I had taken the lowest place); and when I had crept up to the spot
to which he had pointed with his finger, I carefully nestled my feet
closely under me, covering both them and my hands with my coat.

‘We have heard,’ said he, ‘that you are a chosen slave of the Most High;
one whose words and whose acts are the same; not wearing a beard of two
colours, like those who are Mussulmans in outward appearance, but who
are kafirs in their hearts.’

‘May your propitious condescension never be less!’ said I: ‘your servant
is the most abject of the least of those who rub their forehead on the
threshold of the gate of Almighty splendour.’

Here ensued a pause and dead silence, when we each appeared absorbed in
deep meditation. The mûshtehed then breaking the silence, said to me:--

‘Is it true, O Hajji! that your _talleh_, your destiny, has turned its
face upon you, and that you have come hither to seek refuge? We and
the world have long bid adieu to each other; so my questions are not to
satisfy curiosity, but to inform me whether I can be of use to you.
Our holy Prophet (upon whom be blessings and peace!) sayeth, “Let our
faithful followers help each other: those who see, let them lead the
blind; those who prosper, let them help those who are in adversity.”’

Upon this I took courage, spoke my sentences from Saadi, as already
recited, and told my tale in such a modified manner, that my auditors, I
verily believe, began to look upon me as very little short of a martyr.

‘If it is so,’ said the mûshtehed, ‘perhaps the day is not far off, when
I may be the instrument, in the hands of God, to see justice done you.
The Shah is to visit the tomb before this month is expired, and as he
looks upon me with the eyes of approbation, be assured that I will not
be deficient in endeavouring to procure your release.’

‘What can such a sinner as I say to one of your high sanctity? I will
pray for you; the dust of your path shall be collyrium for my eyes.
Whatever you will do for me will be the effect of your goodness.’

‘It is plain that you are one of us,’ said the mûshtehed, apparently
well satisfied at the almost divine honours which I paid him. ‘True
Mussulmans always recognize each other in the same manner, as I have
heard to be the case among a sect of the Franks, called _Faramoosh_ [81]
who by a word, a look, or a touch, will discover one another even among

‘_Allah ho akbar!_ God is great’; and ‘_La Allah il Allah!_ there is
but one God’ was echoed by the company, in admiration of the mûshtehed’s
knowledge; and then he continued to address me thus:--

‘There is an ajem with you, who calls himself a dervish. Is he an
acquaintance of yours? He says that he and you are _hem dum_, of one
breath. Is it so?’

‘_Che arz bekunum?_ what supplication can I make?’ said I, not knowing
precisely whether to acknowledge my friend or not.

‘Yes, he is a fakîr, a poor man, to whom I have given a path near me. He
has done me some little service, and I am mindful of him.’

‘You must be mindful of yourself,’ said an old mollah, who sat next to
me. ‘Whatever is thief, whatever is knave, you will be sure to find it
among these ajems.’

‘Yes,’ said the mûshtehed, as he rested both his hands upon his girdle,
whilst his disciples (who knew this to be his favourite attitude
when about to make a speech) settled their faces into looks of
attention--‘yes, these, and all who call themselves dervishes, be
they the followers of _Nûr Ali Shahi_, be they _Zahabîas_, be they
_Nakshbendies_, or be they of that accursed race of _Uweisîes_; all are
kafirs or heretics--all are worthy of death. The one promulgate, that
the fastings of the Ramazan, our ablutions, the forms and number of our
daily prayers, are all unnecessary to salvation; and that the heart
is the test of piety, and not the ceremonies of the body. The other
acknowledge the Koran, ’tis true; but they reject everything else: the
sayings of the Prophet, opinions of saints, etc. are odious to them;
and they show their religious zeal by shouting out the blessed name of
Allah, until they foam at the mouth, like so many roaring lions; and
this they are pleased to call religion. Another set pretend to superior
piety, by disfiguring the outward man, making vows, and performing acts
of penance, that partake more of the tricks of mountebanks than of the
servants of the Almighty. The fourth, the most heretical of all, would
make us believe that they live in eternal communion with supernatural
powers; and whilst they put on a patched and threadbare garment,
affect to despise the goods of this world, and keep themselves warm
by metaphysical meditations, which neither they nor any one else
understand. No distinction of clean or unclean (may they enjoy the
eternal grills!) stands in their way; lawful and unlawful is all one to
them; they eat and drink whatever they choose, and even the Giaours,
the infidels, are undefiled in their sight. And these call themselves
Sûfies; these are your wise men; these are your lights of the world!
Curses on their beard!’ To which all the company answered ‘ameen,’ or
amen. Curses on their fathers and mothers! Curses on their children!
Curses on their relations! Curses on Sheikh Attar! Curses on Jelâledîn
Rûmi!’[82] After each curse the whole assembly echoed ‘Ameen!’

When he had concluded, all the company, whilst they expressed their
admiration at his doctrine, looked at me to see if I was not struck with
amazement. I was not backward in making the necessary exclamations, and
acted my part so true to the life, that the impression in my favour was

The mûshtehed, warmed by his own words, continued to harangue against
the Sûfies with such vehemence, that I believe had there been one at
hand, they would have risen in a body and put him to death. I hugged
myself in the success which had accompanied my attempt to appear a good
Mussulman, and now began to think that I was one in right earnest.

‘If what I do,’ said I, ‘constitutes a religious man, and is to acquire
me the world’s consideration, nothing is more easy. Why then should I
toil through life, a slave to some tyrant, exposed to every vicissitude,
uncertain of my existence beyond the present moment, and a prey to a
thousand and one evils?’

I left the mûshtehed, and returned to my cell, determined to persevere
in my pious dispositions. When I met my companion again, I told him
all that had happened, and everything that had been said about him and
dervishes in general; and advised him, considering the temper in which
I had left the assembly, to make the best of his way out of a place in
which every man’s mind and hand were turned against him. ‘If they catch
you, they stone you, friend!’ said I; ‘upon that make your mind easy.’

‘May the stones alight on their own heads!’ exclaimed the dervish: ‘a
set of blood-thirsty heathens! What sort of religion can theirs be which
makes them seek the life of an inoffensive man? I come here, having no
one thing to do with either Sûni or Shiah, Sûfi or Mohamedan: on the
contrary, out of compliment to them, I go through all the mummery of
five washings and five prayings per day, and still that will not satisfy
them; however, I will be even with them. I will go; I will leave their
vile hypocritical town; and neither will I wash nor pray until necessity
obliges me to pass through it again.’

I must own that I was not sorry when I heard the dervish make this
resolution. I saw him with pleasure gird on his broad leathern belt,
from which was suspended great bunches of beads, and stick his long
spoon in it. I helped to fasten his deer-skin to his back; and when he
had taken up the iron weapon, which he carried on his shoulder, in one
hand, whilst his other bore his calabash suspended with three chains, we
bade each other adieu with great apparent cordiality.

Leaving me to the full possession of my cell, he sallied forth with
all the lightness and gaiety of heart of one who had the world at his
command, instead of the world before him, with nothing but his two feet
and his ingenuity to carry him through it.

‘May the mercy of Allah be poured over you,’ said I, as I saw the last
of him, ‘you merry rogue! and mayest thou never want a pair of shoes to
your feet, nor a pleasant story to your tongue, with both of which thou
mayest go through life with more pleasure both to thyself and others
than the rich man, who is the slave of a thousand wants, a dependant
upon his dependants for the commonest necessaries of his existence.’


Hajji Baba is robbed by his friend, and left utterly destitute; but is
released from his confinement.

My mind now dwelt upon the promise which the mûshtehed had made of
procuring my pardon and release from the Shah, when he came to visit the
sanctuary at Kom; and it occurred to me, that to secure the favour of
so powerful an advocate, I ought to make him a present, without which
nothing is ever accomplished in Persia. But of what it was to be
composed was the next consideration. The money left in my purse was all
that I had to subsist upon until I should acquire a new livelihood; and,
little as it was, I had kept it safely buried in an unfrequented corner
near my cell.

I fixed upon a praying-carpet, as the best present for one who is always
upon his knees, and had laid my plan for getting some brought to me from
the bazaar to look at.

‘Every time the good man prays,’ said I, ‘he will think of me; and as
one is apt to make good resolutions in such moments, perhaps he will be
put in mind of his promises to endeavour to release me.’

I forthwith resorted to my secret corner for my purse, in the
determination of sacrificing one of my remaining tomauns to this
purpose. But here let me stop, and let me request the reader to
recollect himself, and reflect upon his feelings after the most severe
disappointment which it may have been his lot to sustain, and let
me tell him, that it was nothing to my grief, to my rage, to my
exasperation, when I found my purse was gone.

My soul came into my mouth; and without a moment’s hesitation I
exclaimed, ‘O thou bankrupt dog! thou unsainted dervish! You have
brought me safe into harbour, ’tis true; but you have left me without an
anchor. May your life be a bitter one, and may your daily bread be the
bread of grief! And so, after all, Hajji Baba has become a beggar!’

I then took to making the most sorrowful moanings and lamentations; for
the fear of starvation now stared me in the face notwithstanding the
charity of the people of Kom; and as despair is a malady which increases
the more the mind dwells upon its misfortune, I seemed to take delight
in reverting to all the horrors which I had lately witnessed in the
death of Zeenab; then I dwelt upon my confinement, then upon my loss,
and at length wound myself up to look upon my situation as so desperate,
that if I had had poison by me, I should certainly have swallowed it.

At this moment passed by my cell the old mollah, who, during my visit to
the mûshtehed, had warned me against putting too much confidence in the
dervish. I told him of my misfortune, and raised such doleful wailings,
that his heart was touched.

‘You spoke but too well, O mollah!’ said I, ‘when you warned me against
the dervish. My money is gone, and I am left behind. I am a stranger;
and he who called himself my friend has proved my bitterest enemy!
Curses on such a friend! Oh! whither shall I turn for assistance?’

‘Do not grieve, my son,’ said the mollah; ‘we know that there is a God,
and if it be his will to try you with misfortune, why do you repine?
Your money is gone,--gone it is, and gone let it be; but your skin is
left,--and what do you want more? A skin is no bad thing, after all!’

‘What words are these?’ said I: ‘I know that a skin is no bad thing; but
will it get back my money from the dervish?’

I then requested the old man to state my misfortune to the mûshtehed,
and, moreover, my impossibility of showing him that respect by a
present, which was due to him, and which it had been my intention to

He left me with promises of setting my case in its proper light before
the holy man; and, to my great joy, on the very same day the news of the
approaching arrival of the Shah was brought to Kom by the chief of
the tent-pitchers, who came to make the necessary preparations for his

The large open saloon in the sanctuary in which the king prays was
spread with fine carpets, the court was swept and watered, the fountain
in the centre of the reservoir was made to play, and the avenues to the
tomb were put into order. A deputation, consisting of all the priests,
was collected, to go before him, and meet him on his entry; and nothing
of ceremony was omitted which was due to the honour and dignity of the
Shadow of the Almighty upon earth.

I now became exceedingly anxious about my future fate; for it was long
since I had heard from Tehran, and I was ignorant of the measure of the
Shah’s resentment against me. Looking upon the dark side of things, my
imagination led me to think that nothing short of my head would
satisfy him; but then, cheering myself with a more pleasing prospect, I
endeavoured to believe that I was too insignificant a personage that
my death should be of any consequence, and built all my hopes upon the
intercession of the mûshtehed.

The chief tent-pitcher had formerly been my friend, and among his
assistants I recognized many of my acquaintance. I soon made myself
known to them; and they did not, for a wonder, draw back from
recognizing me, although one of our greatest sages hath said, ‘that a
man in adversity is shunned like a piece of base money, which nobody
will take; and which, if perchance it has been received, is passed off
to another as soon as possible.’

The newcomers gave me all the intelligence of what had happened at court
since I had left it; and although I professed to have renounced the
world, and to have become a recluse, a sitter in a corner, as it is
called, yet still I found that I had an ear for what was passing in
it. They informed me that the chief executioner had returned from his
campaign against the Russians, and had brought the Shah a present of two
Georgian slaves, a male and a female, besides other rarities, in order
the better to persuade him of his great feats and generalship. The
present had been accepted, and his face was to be whitened by a dress
of honour, provided he made the _tobeh_, oath of penance, restraining
himself from the use of wine for the future. I also learnt,
notwithstanding it was known how deeply I was implicated in Zeenab’s
guilt, that my former master, the hakîm, had still been obliged to make
a large present to the Shah, besides having had half his beard pulled
out by the roots, for the loss which his majesty had incurred by her
death, and for his disappointment at not finding her ready to dance and
sing before him on his return from Sultanieh. The king’s wrath for the
loss of the Cûrdish slave had in great measure subsided, owing to the
chief executioner’s gift of the Georgian one, who was described as being
the finest person of the sort who had been exhibited at the slave-market
since the days of the celebrated _Taous_, or Peacock; and was, in short,
the pearl of the shell of beauty, the marrow of the spine of perfection.
She had a face like the full moon, eyes of the circumference of the
chief tent-pitcher’s forefinger and thumb, a waist that he could
span, and a form tall and majestic as the full-grown cypress. And they
moreover assured me, that the Shah’s anger against me would very easily
cede to a present of a few tomauns.

Here again my anathemas against the dervish broke forth; ‘and but for
him,’ said I, ‘I might have appeared not empty-handed.’ However, I was
delighted to hear that my case was not so desperate as I had imagined;
and, seated on the carpet of hope, smoking the pipe of expectation,
I determined to await my fate with that comfortable feeling of
predestination which has been so wisely dispensed by the holy Prophet
for the peace and quiet of all true believers.

The King of Kings arrived the next day, and alighted at his tents, which
were pitched without the town. I will not waste the reader’s time in
describing all the ceremonies of his reception, which, by his desire,
were curtailed as much as possible, inasmuch as his object in visiting
the tomb of Fatimeh was not to reap worldly distinctions, but to humble
himself before God and men, in the hope of obtaining better and higher

His policy has always been to keep in good odour with the priesthood
of his country; for he knew that their influence, which is considerable
over the minds of the people, was the only bar between him and unlimited
power. He therefore courted Mirza Abdul Cossim, the mûshtehed of Kom,
by paying him a visit on foot, and by permitting him to be seated before
him, an honour seldom conferred on one of the laity. He also went
about the town on foot, during the whole time of his stay there, giving
largely to the poor, and particularly consecrating rich and valuable
gifts at the shrine of the saint. The king himself, and all those who
composed his train, thought it proper to suit their looks to the fashion
of the place; and I was delighted to find that I was not singular in
my woe-smitten face and my mortified gait. I recollected to have heard,
when I was about the court, that the Shah, in point of fact, was a Sûfi
at heart, although very rigid in the outward practices of religion; and
it was refreshing to me to perceive, among the great officers in his
train, one of the secretaries of state, a notorious sinner of that
persuasion, who was now obliged to fold up his principles in the napkin
of oblivion, and clothe himself in the garments of the true faith.

On the morning of the Shah’s visit to the tomb for the purpose of saying
his prayers, I was on the alert, in the hopes of being remarked by the
mûshtehed, who would thus be reminded of his promises to me.

About an hour before the prayer of midday, the Shah, on foot, escorted
by an immense concourse of attendants, priests, and of the people,
entered the precincts of the sanctuary. He was dressed in a dark suit,
the sombre colours of which were adapted to the solemn looks of his
face, and he held in his hand a long enamelled stick, curiously inlaid
at the pommel. He had put by all ornament, wearing none of his customary
jewellery, not even his dagger, which on other occasions he is never
without. The only article of great value was his rosary, composed
of large pearls (the produce of his fishery at Bahrein), of the most
beautiful water and symmetry, and this he kept constantly in his hand.

The mûshtehed walked two or three steps behind him on the left hand,
respectfully answered the interrogatories which the king was pleased to
make, and lent a profound attention to all his observations.

When the procession came near me (for it passed close to my cell), I
seized an opportunity, when no officer was at hand, to run forward,
throw myself on my knees, make the prostration with my face to the
ground, and exclaim, ‘Refuge in the King of Kings, the asylum of the
world! In the name of the blessed Fatimeh, mercy!’

‘Who is this?’ exclaimed the king to the mûshtehed, ‘Is he one of

‘He has taken the bust (the sanctuary),’ answered the mirza, ‘and
he claims the accustomed pardon of the Shadow of the Almighty to all
unfortunate refugees whenever he visits the tomb. He and we all are your
sacrifice; and whatever the Shah ordains, so let it be.’

‘But who and what are you?’ said the Shah to me; ‘why have you taken
refuge here?’

‘May I be our sacrifice!’ said I. ‘Your slave was the sub-deputy
executioner to the Centre of the Universe, Hajji Baba by name; and my
enemies have made me appear criminal in the eyes of the Shah, whilst I
am innocent.’

‘_Yaftéh îm_, we have understood,’ rejoined the king, after a minute’s
pause. ‘So you are that Hajji Baba? _Mûbarek_, much good may it do you.
Whether it was one dog or another that did the deed, whether the hakîm
or the sub-deputy, it comes to the same thing,--the end of it has been
that the king’s goods have burnt. That is plain enough, is it not, Mirza
Abdul Cossim?’ said he, addressing himself to the mûshtehed.

‘Yes, by the sacred head of the king,’ answered the holy man; ‘generally
in all such cases between man and woman, they, and they alone, can speak
to the truth.’

‘But what does our holy religion say in such cases?’ observed the king:
‘the Shah has lost a slave--there is a price of blood for the meanest
of human beings--even a Frank or a Muscovite have their price, and why
should we expend our goods gratis, for the amusement of either our chief
physician or our sub-deputy executioner?’

‘There is a price upon each of God’s creatures, and blood must not be
spilt without its fine; but there is also an injunction of forgiveness
and lenity towards one’s fellow creatures,’ said the mûshtehed, ‘which
our holy Prophet (upon whom be eternal blessings!) has more particularly
addressed to those invested with authority, and which, O king, cannot
be better applied than in this instance. Let the Shah forgive this
unfortunate sinner, and he will reap greater reward in Heaven than if he
had killed twenty Muscovites, or impaled the father of all Europeans, or
even if he had stoned a Sûfi.’

‘Be it so,’ said the Shah; and turning to me, he said with a loud
voice, ‘_Murakhas_, you are dismissed; and recollect it is owing to the
intercession of this man of God,’ putting his hand at the same time
upon the shoulder of the mûshtehed, ‘that you are free, and that you are
permitted to enjoy the light of the sun. _Bero!_ Go! open your eyes, and
never again stand before our presence.’

[Illustration: Hajji’s father dying. 26.jpg]


Hajji Baba reaches Ispahan, and his paternal roof, just time enough to
close the eyes of his dying father.

I did not require to be twice ordered to depart; and, without once
looking behind me, I left Kom and its priests, and bent my steps towards
Ispahan and my family. I had a few reals in my pocket, with which I
could buy food on the road; and, as for resting-places, the country was
well supplied with caravanserais, in which I could always find a corner
to lay my head. Young as I was, I began to be disgusted with the world;
and perhaps had I remained long enough at Kom, and in the mood in which
I had reached it, I might have devoted the rest of my life to following
the lectures of Mirza Abdul Cossim, and acquired worldly consideration
by my taciturnity, by my austerity, and strict adherence to Mahomedan
discipline. But fate had woven another destiny for me. The maidan
(the race-course) of life was still open to me, and the courser of my
existence had not yet exhausted half of the bounds and curvets with
which he was wont to keep me in constant exercise. I felt that I
deserved the misfortunes with which I had been afflicted, owing to my
total neglect of my parents.

‘I have been a wicked son,’ said I. ‘When I was a man in authority, and
was puffed up with pride at my own importance, I then forgot the poor
barber at Ispahan; and it is only now, when adversity spreads my path,
that I recollect the authors of my being.’ A saying of my school-master,
which he frequently quoted with great emphasis in Arabic, came to my
mind. ‘An old friend,’ used he to say, ‘is not to be bought, even if
you had the treasures of Hatem to offer for one. Remember then, O youth,
that thy first, and therefore thy oldest friends are thy father and thy

‘They shall still find that they have a son,’ said I, feeling a great
rush of tenderness flow into my heart, as I repeated the words; ‘and,
please God, if I reach my home, they shall no longer have to reproach me
with want of proper respect.’ A still soft voice, however, whispered
to me that I should be too late; and I remembered the prognostics of my
mind, when, filled with grief for the loss of Zeenab, I left Tehran full
of virtuous intentions and resolutions.

When I could first distinguish the peak in the mountain of the Colah
Cazi, which marks the situation of Ispahan, my heart bounded within me;
and at every step I anxiously considered in what state I should find my
family. Would my old schoolmaster be alive? Should I find our neighbour
the _baqal_ (or chandler), at whose shop I used to spend in sweetmeats
all the copper money that I could purloin from my father, when I shaved
for him, would he be still in existence? And my old friend the _capiji_,
the door-keeper of the caravanserai, he whom I frightened so much at the
attack of the Turcomans, is the door of his life still open, or has it
been closed upon him forever?

In this manner did I muse by the wayside, until the tops of the minarets
of Ispahan actually came in view; when, enraptured with the sight, and
full of gratitude for having been preserved thus far in my pilgrimage,
I stopped and said my prayers; and then taking up one stone, which I
placed upon another as a memorial, I made the following vow: ‘O Ali, if
thou wilt grant to thy humblest and most abject of slaves the pleasure
of reaching my home in safety, I will, on arrival, kill a sheep, and
make a pilau for my friends and family.’

Traversing the outskirts of the city with a beating heart, every spot
was restored to my memory, and I threaded my way through the long
vaulted bazaars and intricate streets without missing a single turn,
until I found myself standing opposite both my father’s shop and the
well-known gate of the caravanserai.

The door of the former was closed, and nothing was stirring around
it that indicated business. I paused a long time before I ventured to
proceed, for I looked upon this first aspect of things as portentous
of evil; but recollecting myself, I remembered that it was the
_Sheb-i-Jumah_, the Friday eve, and that probably my father, in his old
age, had grown to be too scrupulous a Mussulman to work during those
hours which true believers ought to keep holy.

However, the caravanserai was open, and presented the same scene to my
eyes which it had done ever since I had known it. Bales of goods heaped
up in lots, intermixed with mules, camels, and their drivers. Groups of
men in various costumes, some seated, some in close conversation, others
gazing carelessly about, and others again coming and going in haste,
with faces full of care and calculation. I looked about for the friend
of my boy-hood the capiji, and almost began to fear that he too had
closed his door, when I perceived his well-known figure crawling quietly
along with his earthen water-pipe, seeking his bit of charcoal wherewith
to light it.

His head had sunk considerably between his shoulders, and reclined more
upon his breast since last I had seen him; and the additional bend in
his knees showed that the passing years had kept a steady reckoning with

‘It is old Ali Mohamed,’ said I, as I stepped up towards him. ‘I should
know that crooked nose of his from a thousand, so often have I clipped
the whisker that grows under it.’

When I accosted him with the usual salutation of peace, he kept on
trimming his pipe, without even looking up, so much accustomed was he
to be spoken to by strangers; but when I said, ‘Do not you recognize me,
Ali Mohamed?’ he turned up his old bloodshot eye at me, and pronounced
‘Friend! a caravanserai is a picture of the world; men come in and go
out of it, and no account is taken of them. How am I then to know you?
Ali Mohamed is grown old, and his memory is gone by.’

‘But you will surely recollect Hajji Baba--little Hajji, who used to
shave your head, and trim your beard and mustachios!’

‘There is but one God!’ exclaimed the door-keeper in great amazement.
‘Are you indeed Hajji?--Ah! my son, your place has long been empty--are
you come at last? Well, then, praise be to Ali, that old Kerbelai Hassan
will have his eyes closed by his only child, ere he dies.’

‘How!’ said I, ‘tell me where is my father? Why is the shop shut? What
do you say about death?’

‘Yes, Hajji, the old barber has shaved his last. Lose not a moment in
going to his house, and you may stand a chance to be in time to receive
his blessing ere he leaves this world. Please God, I shall soon follow
him, for all is vanity. I have opened and shut the gates of this
caravanserai for fifty years, and find that all pleasure is departed
from me. My keys retain their polish, whilst I wear out with rust.’

I did not stop to hear the end of the old man’s speech, but immediately
made all speed to my father’s house.

As I approached the well-remembered spot, I saw two mollahs loitering
near the low and narrow entrance.

‘Ha!’ thought I, ‘ye are birds of ill-omen; wherever the work of death
is going on, there ye are sure to be.’

Entering, without accosting them, I walked at once into the principal
room, which I found completely filled with people, surrounding an old
man, who was stretched out upon a bed spread upon the floor, and whom I
recognized to be my father.

No one knew me, and, as it is a common custom for strangers who have
nothing to do with the dying to walk in unasked, I was not noticed. On
one side sat the doctor, and on the other an old man, who was kneeling
near the bed-head, and in him I recognized my former schoolmaster.
He was administering comfort to his dying friend, and his words were
something to this purpose: ‘Do not be downcast: please God you still
have many days to spend on earth. You may still live to see your
son; Hajji Baba may yet be near at hand. But yet it is a proper and a
fortunate act to make your will, and to appoint your heir. If such be
your wish, appoint any one here present your heir.’

‘Ah,’ sighed out my father, ‘Hajji has abandoned us--I shall never see
him more--He has become too much of a personage to think of his poor
parents--He is not worthy that I should make him my heir.’ These words
produced an immediate effect; I could no longer restrain my desire to
make myself known, and I exclaimed, ‘Hajji is here!--Hajji is come to
receive your blessing--I am your son--do not reject him!’

Upon which I knelt down by the bedside, and taking up the dying man’s
hand, I kissed it, and added loud sobs and lamentations, to demonstrate
my filial affection.

The sensation which I produced upon all present was very great. I
saw looks of disappointment in some, of incredulity in others, and of
astonishment in all.

My father’s eyes, that were almost closed, brightened up for one short
interval as he endeavoured to make out my features, and clasping his
trembling hands together, exclaimed, ‘_Il hem dillah!_ Praise be to God,
I have seen my son, I have got an heir!’ Then addressing me, he said,
‘Have you done well, O my son, to leave me for so many years? Why did
you not come before?’

He would have gone on, but the exertion and the agitation produced by
such an event were too much for his strength, and he sunk down inanimate
on his pillow.

‘Stop,’ said my old schoolmaster, who had at once recognized me--‘stop,
Hajji; say no more: let him recover himself; he has still his will to

‘Yes,’ said a youngish man, who had eyed me with looks of great
hostility, ‘yes, we have also still to see whether this is Hajji Baba,
or not.’ I afterwards found he was son to a brother of my father’s first
wife, and had expected to inherit the greatest part of the property; and
when I inquired who were the other members of the assembly, I found that
they were all relations of that stamp, who had flocked together in the
hope of getting a share of the spoil, of which I had now deprived them.

They all seemed to doubt whether I was myself, and perhaps would have
unanimously set me down for an impostor, if the schoolmaster had not
been present: and from his testimony there was no appeal.

However, all doubts as to my identity were immediately hushed when my
mother appeared, who, having heard of my arrival, could no longer keep
to the limits of her anderûn, but rushed into the assembly with extended
arms and a flowing veil, exclaiming, ‘Where, where is he? where is my
son?--Hajji, my soul, where art thou?’

As soon as I had made myself known, she threw herself upon my neck,
weeping aloud, making use of every expression of tenderness which her
imagination could devise, and looking at me from head to foot with an
eagerness of stare, and an impetuosity of expression, that none but a
mother can command.

In order to rouse my father from the lethargy into which he had
apparently fallen, the doctor proposed administering a cordial, which,
having prepared, he endeavoured to pour clown his throat; during the
exertion of raising the body, the dying man sneezed once, which every
one present knew was an omen so bad, that no man in his senses would
dare venture to give the medicine until two full hours had expired:
therefore, it remained in the cup.

After having waited the expiration of the two hours, the medicine was
again attempted to be administered, when, to the horror of all present,
and to the disappointment of those who expected that he should make his
will, he was found to be stone dead.

‘In the name of Allah, arise,’ said the old mollah to him; ‘we are now
writing your will.’ He endeavoured to raise my father’s head, but to no
purpose; life had entirely fled.

Water steeped in cotton was then squeezed into his mouth, his feet were
carefully placed towards the Kebleh, and as soon as it was ascertained
that no further hope was left, the priest at his bed-head began to read
the Koran in a loud and sing-song emphasis. A handkerchief was then
placed under his chin, fastened over his head, and his two great toes
were also tied together. All the company then pronounced the _Kelemeh
Shehâdet_ (the profession of faith), a ceremony which was supposed to
send him out of this world a pure and well-authenticated Mussulman; and
during this interval a cup of water was placed upon his head.

All these preliminaries having been duly performed, the whole company,
composed of what were supposed to be his friends and relations, gathered
close round the corpse, and uttered loud and doleful cries. This was a
signal to the two mollahs (whom I before mentioned), who had mounted on
the house-top, and they then began to chant out in a sonorous cadence
portions of the Koran, or verses used on such occasions, and which are
intended as a public notification of the death of a true believer.

The noise of wailing and lamentation now became general, for it soon was
communicated to the women, who, collected in a separate apartment, gave
vent to their grief after the most approved forms. My father, from his
gentleness and obliging disposition, had been a great favourite with all
ranks of people, and my mother, who herself was a professional mourner,
and a principal performer at burials, being well acquainted with others
of her trade, had managed to collect such a band around her on this
occasion, that no khan it was said, ever had so much mourning performed
for him on his death-day as my father.

As for me, whose feelings had previously been set to the pitch-pipe of
misfortune, I became a real and genuine mourner; and the recollection of
all the actions of my life, in which my total neglect of my parents made
so conspicuous a figure, caused me to look upon myself in no enviable

I was seated quietly in a corner, adding my sincere sobs to the
artificial ones of the rest of the whole company, when a priest came
up to me, and said, that of course it was necessary for me to tear my
clothes, as I could not prove myself to be a good son without so doing,
and that if I permitted him, he would perform that operation for
me without spoiling my coat. I let him do what he required, and he
accordingly ripped open the seam of the breast flap, which then hung
down some three or four inches. He also told me that it was the custom
to keep the head uncovered, and the feet naked, at least until all the
ceremonies of burial had been performed.

To this I freely consented, and had the satisfaction afterwards to
learn, that I was held up as the pattern of a good mourner.

My mother’s grief was outrageous: her hair was concealed, and she
enveloped her head in a black shawl, making exclamations expressive of
her anguish, calling upon the name of her husband.

By this time the neighhours, the passers-by, the known or unknown to the
family, flocked round the house for the purpose of either reading the
Koran or hearing it read, which is also esteemed a meritorious act on
that occasion. Among these, many came in the character of comforters,
who, by their knowledge in the forms of speech best adapted to give
consolation, are looked upon as great acquisitions in the event of a

My old schoolmaster, an eminent comforter, took me in hand, and seating
himself by my side, addressed me in the following words:--

‘Yes, at length your father is dead. So be it. What harm is done? Is
not death the end of all things? He was born, he got a son, he ran his
course, and died. Who can do more? You now take his place in the world;
you are the rising blade, that with millions of others promise a good
harvest, whilst he is the full ripened ear of corn, that has been cut
down and gathered into the granary. Ought you to repine at what is
a subject for joy? Instead of shaving men’s heads, he is now seated
between two houris, drinking milk and eating honey. Ought you to weep at
that? No; rather weep that you are not there also. But why weep at
all? Consider the many motives for which, on the contrary, you have to
rejoice. He might have been an unbeliever--but he was a true Mussulman.
He might have been a Turk--but he was a Persian. He might have been a
Sûni--but he was a Shiah. He might have been an unclean Christian--he
was a lawful son of Islam. He might have died accursed like a Jew--he
has resigned his breath with the profession of the true faith in his
mouth. All these are subjects of joy!’

After this manner did he go on; and, having expended all he had to say,
left me, to join his voice to the general wailing. Those unclean men,
the _mûrdeshûr_, or washers of the dead, were then called in, who
brought with them the bier, in which the corpse was to be carried to the
grave. I was consulted, whether they should make an imareh of it,
which is a sort of canopy, adorned with black flags, shawls, and other
stuffs--a ceremony practised only in the burials of great personages;
but I referred the decision to my friend the schoolmaster, who
immediately said, that considering my worthy father to have been a
sort of public character, he should certainly be for giving him such
a distinction. This was accordingly done; and the corpse having been
brought out by the distant relations, and laid therein, it was carried
to the place of ablution, where it was delivered over to the washers,
who immediately went to work. The body was first washed with clear cold
water, then rubbed over with lime, salt, and camphor, placed in the
winding-sheet, again consigned to the bier, and at length conveyed to
the place of burial.

The many who offered themselves to carry the body was a proof how much
my father must have been beloved. Even strangers feeling that it was
a praiseworthy action to carry a good Mussulman to the grave, pressed
forward to lend their shoulder to the burden, and by the time it had
reached its last resting-place, the crowd was considerable.

I had followed at a small distance, escorted by those who called
themselves friends and relations; and after a mollah had said a prayer,
accompanied by the voices of all present, I was invited, as the nearest
relative, to place the body in the earth, which having done, the
ligatures of the winding-sheet were untied, and another prayer, called
the _talkhi_, was pronounced. The twelve Imâms, in rotation, were then
invoked; and the talkhi being again read, the grave was covered in.
After this, the _Fatheh_ (the first chapter of the Koran) was repeated
by all present, and the grave having been sprinkled over with water, the
whole assembly dispersed, to meet again at the house of the deceased. A
priest remained at the head of the grave, praying.

I was now called upon to act a part. I had become the principal
personage in the tragedy, and an involuntary thought stole into my mind.

‘Ah,’ said I, ‘the vow which I made upon first seeing the city must now
be performed, whether I will or no. I must spend boldly, or I shall be
esteemed an unnatural son’; therefore, when I returned to the house, I
blindly ordered every thing to be done in a handsome manner.

Two rooms were prepared, one for the men, the other for the women.
According to the received custom, I, as chief mourner, gave an
entertainment to all those who had attended the funeral; and here my
sheep and my pilau were not forgotten. I also hired three mollahs, two
of whom were appointed to read the Koran in the men’s apartment, and the
other remained near the tomb, for the same purpose, inhabiting a small
tent, which was pitched for its use. The length of the mourning, which
lasts, according to the means of the family, three, five, seven days, or
even a month, I fixed at five days, during which each of the relations
gave an entertainment. At the end of that period, some of the elders,
both men and women, went round to the mourners, and sewed up their rent
garments, and on that day I was again invited to give an entertainment,
when separate sheets of the Koran were distributed throughout the whole
assembly, and read by each individual, until the whole of the sacred
volume had been completely gone through.

After this my mother, with several of her relations and female friends,
I proceeded in a body to my father’s tomb, taking with them sweetmeats
and baked bread for the purpose, which they distributed to the poor,
having partaken thereof themselves. They then returned, weeping and

Two or three days having elapsed, my mother’s friends led her to the
bath, where they took off her mourning, put her on a clean dress, and
dyed her feet and hands with the khenah.

This completed the whole of the ceremonies: and, much to my delight, I
was now left to myself, to regulate my father’s affairs, and to settle
plans for my own future conduct.


He becomes heir to property which is not to be found, and his suspicions

My father having died without a will, I was, of course, proclaimed his
sole heir without any opposition, and consequently, all those who
had aspired to be sharers of his property, balked by my unexpected
appearance, immediately withdrew to vent their disappointment in abusing
me. They represented me as a wretch, devoid of all respect for my
parents, as one without religion, an adventurer in the world, and the
companion of lûties and wandering dervishes.

As I had no intention of remaining at Ispahan, I treated their
endeavours to hurt me with contempt; and consoled myself by giving them
a full return of all their scurrility, by expressions which neither
they nor their fathers had ever heard; expressions I had picked up from
amongst the illustrious characters with whom I had passed the first
years of my youth.

When we were left to ourselves, my mother and I, after having bewailed
in sufficiently pathetic language, she the death of a husband, I the
loss of a father, the following conversation took place:--

‘Now tell me, O my mother--for there can be no secrets between us--tell
me the state of Kerbelai Hassan’s concerns. He loved you, and confided
in you, and you must therefore be better acquainted with them than any
one else.’

‘What do I know of them, my son?’ said she, in great haste, and seeming

I stopped her, to continue my speech. ‘You know that according to the
law, his heir is bound to pay his debts:--they must be ascertained.
Then, the expenses of the funeral are to be defrayed; they will be
considerable; and at present I am as destitute of means as on the day
you gave me birth. To meet all this, money is necessary; or else both
mine and my father’s name will be disgraced among men, and my enemies
will not fail to overcome me. He must have been reputed wealthy, or
else his death-bed would never have been surrounded by that host
of blood-suckers and time-servers which have been driven away by my
presence. You, my mother, must tell me where he was accustomed to
deposit his ready cash; who were, or who are, likely to be his debtors;
and what might be his possessions, besides those which are apparent.’

‘Oh, Allah!’ exclaimed she, ‘what words are these? Your father was a
poor, good man, who had neither money nor possessions. Money, indeed! We
had dry bread to eat, and that was all! Now and then, after the arrival
of a great caravan, when heads to be shaved were plentiful, and his
business brisk, we indulged in our dish of rice, and our skewer of
kabob, but otherwise we lived like beggars. A bit of bread, a morsel of
cheese, an onion, a basin of sour curds--that was our daily fare; and,
under these circumstances, can you ask me for money, ready money too?
There is this house, which you see and know; then his shop, with its
furniture; and when I have said that, I have nearly said all. You are
just arrived in time, my son, to step into your father’s shoes, and
take up his business; and _Inshallah_, please God, may your hand be
fortunate! may it never cease wagging, from one year’s end to the

‘This is very strange!’ exclaimed I, in my turn. ‘Fifty years, and more,
hard and unceasing toil! and nothing to show for it! This is incredible!
We must call in the diviners.’

‘The diviners?’ said my mother, in some agitation; ‘of what use can they
be? They are only called in when a thief is to be discovered. You will
not proclaim your mother a thief, Hajji, will you? Go, make inquiries of
your friend, and your father’s friend, the _âkhon_.[83] He is acquainted
with the whole of the concerns, and I am sure he will repeat what I have

‘You do not speak amiss, mother,’ said I. ‘The âkhon probably does know
what were my father’s last wishes, for he appeared to be the principal
director in his dying moments; and he may tell me, if money there was
left, where it is to be found.’

Accordingly I went straightway to seek the old man, whom I found
seated precisely in the very same corner of the little parish mosque,
surrounded by his scholars, in which some twenty years before I myself
had received his instructions. As soon as he saw me he dismissed his
scholars, saying, my footsteps were fortunate, and that others, as
well as himself, should partake of the pleasure I was sure to dispense
wherever I went.

‘Ahi, âkhon,’ said I, ‘do not laugh at my beard. My good fortune has
entirely forsaken me; and even now, when I had hoped that my destiny, in
depriving me of my father, had made up the loss by giving me wealth,
I am likely to be disappointed, and to turn out a greater beggar than

‘_Allah kerim_, God is merciful,’ said the schoolmaster; and, lifting up
his eyes to heaven, whilst he placed his hands on his knees, with their
palms uppermost, he exclaimed, ‘O Allah, whatever is, thou art it.’ Then
addressing himself to me, he said, ‘Yes, my son, such is the world, and
such will it ever be, as long as man shuts not up his heart from all
human desires. Want nothing, seek nothing, and nothing will seek you.’

‘How long have you been a Sûfi’ said I, ‘that you talk after this
manner? I can speak on that subject also, since my evil star led me to
Kom, but now I am engrossed with other matters.’ I then informed him of
the object of my visit, and requested him to tell me what he knew of my
father’s concerns. Upon this question he coughed, and, making up a face
of great wisdom, went through a long string of oaths and professions,
and finished by repeating what I had heard from my mother; namely, that
he believed my father to have died possessed of no (nagd) ready cash
(for that, after all, was the immediate object of my search); and what
his other property was, he reminded me that I knew as well as himself.

I remained mute for some time with disappointment, and then expressed
my surprise in strong terms. My father, I was aware, was too good a
Mussulman to have lent out his money upon interest, for I recollected a
circumstance, when I was quite a youth, which proved it. Osman Aga, my
first master, wanting to borrow a sum from him, for which he offered
an enormous interest, my father put his conscience into the hands of
a rigid mollah, who told him that the precepts of the Koran entirely
forbade it. Whether since that time he had relaxed his principles, I
could not say; but I was assured that he always set his face against the
unlawful practice of taking interest, and that he died, as he had lived,
a perfect model of a true believer.

I left the mosque in no very agreeable mood, and took my way to the spot
where I had made my first appearance in life, namely, my father’s shop,
turning over in my mind as I went what steps I should take to secure
a future livelihood. To remain at Ispahan was out of the question--the
place and the inhabitants were odious to me; therefore, it was only left
me to dispose of everything that was now my own, and to return to
the capital, which, after all, I knew to be the best market for an
adventurer like myself. However, I could not relinquish the thought that
my father had died possessed of some ready money, and suspicions would
haunt my mind, in spite of me, that foul play was going on somewhere or
other. I was at a loss to whom to address myself, unknown as I was in
the city, and I was thinking of making my case known to the cadi, when,
approaching the gate of the caravanserai, I was accosted by the old
capiji. ‘Peace be unto you, Aga!’ said he; ‘may you live many years, and
may your abundance increase! My eyes are enlightened by seeing you.’

‘Are your spirits so well wound up, Ali Mohamed,’ said I in return,
‘that you choose to treat me thus? As for the abundance you talk of,
’tis abundance of grief, for I have none other that I know of. Och!’
said I, sighing, ‘my liver has become water, and my soul has withered

‘What news is this?’ said the old man. ‘Your father (peace be unto him!)
is just dead--you are his heir--you are young, and, _Mashallah!_ you are
handsome--your wit is not deficient:--what do you want more?’

‘I am his heir, ’tis true; but what of that? what advantage can accrue
to me, when I only get an old mud-built house, with some worn-out
carpets, some pots and pans and decayed furniture, and yonder shop
with a brass basin and a dozen of razors? Let me spit upon such an

‘But where is your money, your ready cash, Hajji? Your father (God be
with him!) had the reputation of being as great a niggard of his money
as he was liberal of his soap. Everybody knows that he amassed much, and
never passed a day without adding to his store.’

‘That may be true,’ said I; ‘but what advantage will that be to me,
since I cannot find where it was deposited? My mother says that he
had none--the âkhon repeats the same--I am no conjuror to discover the
truth. I had it in my mind to go to the cadi.’

‘To the cadi?’ said Ali Mohamed. ‘Heaven forbid! Go not to him--you
might as well knock at the gate of this caravanserai, when I am absent,
as try to get justice from him, without a heavy fee. No, he sells it by
the miscal, at a heavy price, and very light weight does he give after
all. He does not turn over one leaf of the Koran, until his fingers
have been well plated with gold, and if those who have appropriated your
father’s sacks are to be your opponents, do not you think that they will
drain them into the cadi’s lap, rather than he should pronounce in your

‘What, then, is to be done?’ said I. ‘Perhaps the diviners might give me
some help.’

‘There will be no harm in that,’ answered the doorkeeper. ‘I have known
them make great discoveries during my service in this caravanserai.
Merchants have frequently lost their money, and found it again through
their means. It was only in the attack of the Turcomans, when much
property was stolen, that they were completely at their wits’ end. Ah!
that was a strange event. It brought much misery on my head; for some
were wicked enough to say that I was their accomplice, and, what is more
extraordinary, that you were amongst them, Hajji!--for it was on account
of your name, which the dog’s son made use of to induce me to open the
gate, that the whole mischief was produced.’

Lucky was it for me, that old Ali Mohamed was very dull of sight, or
else he would have remarked strange alterations in my features when he
made these observations. However, our conference ended by his promising
to send me the most expert diviner of Ispahan; ‘a man,’ said he, ‘who
would entice a piece of gold out of the earth, if buried twenty gez
deep, or even if it was hid in the celebrated well of Kashan.’[84]


Showing the steps he takes to discover his property, and who the
diviner, Teez Negah, was.

The next morning, soon after the first prayers, a little man came into
my room, whom I soon discovered to be the diviner. He was a humpback,
with an immense head, with eyes so wonderfully brilliant, and a
countenance so intelligent, that I felt he could look through and
through me at one glance. He wore a dervish’s cap, from under which
flowed a profusion of jet black hair, which, added to a thick bush of a
beard, gave an imposing expression to his features. His eyes, which by
a quick action of his eyelid (whether real or affected, I know not)
twinkled like stars, made the monster, who was not taller than a good
bludgeon, look like a little demon.

He began by questioning me very narrowly; made me relate
every circumstance of my life--particularly since my return to
Ispahan--inquired who were my father’s greatest apparent friends and
associates, and what my own suspicions led me to conclude. In short,
he searched into every particular, with the same scrutiny that a doctor
would in tracing and unravelling an intricate disorder.

When he had well pondered over every thing that I had unfolded, he
then required to be shown the premises, which my father principally
inhabited. My mother having gone that morning to the bath, I was
enabled, unknown to her, to take him into her apartments, where he
requested me to leave him to himself, in order that he might obtain a
knowledge of the localities necessary to the discoveries which he hoped
to make. He remained there a full quarter of an hour, and when he came
out requested me to collect those who were in my father’s intimacy, and
in the habit of much frequenting the house, and that he would return,
they being assembled, and begin his operations.

Without saying a word to my mother about the diviner, I requested her to
invite her most intimate friends for the following morning, it being my
intention to give them a breakfast; and I myself begged the attendance
of the âkhon, the capiji, my father’s nephew by his first wife, and a
brother of my mother, with others who had free entrance into the house.

They came punctually; and when they had partaken of such fare as I could
place before them, they were informed of the predicament in which I
stood, and that I had requested their attendance to be witnesses to the
endeavours of the diviner to discover where my father was wont to keep
his money, of the existence of which, somewhere or other, nobody who
knew him could doubt. I looked into each man’s face as I made this
speech, hoping to remark some expression which might throw a light upon
my suspicions, but everybody seemed ready to help my investigation, and
maintained the most unequivocal innocence of countenance.

At length the dervish, Teez Negah (for that was the name of the
conjuror), was introduced, accompanied by an attendant who carried
something wrapped up in a handkerchief. Having ordered the women in the
andenûn to keep themselves veiled, because they would probably soon be
visited by men, I requested the dervish to begin his operations.

He first looked at every one present with great earnestness, but more
particularly fixed his basilisk eyes upon the âkhon, who evidently could
not stand the scrutiny, but exclaimed ‘_Allah il Allah!_’--there is
but one God--stroked down his face and beard, and blew first over one
shoulder and then over the other, by way of keeping off the evil spirit.
Some merriment was raised at his expense; but he did not appear to be in
a humour to meet any one’s jokes.

After this, the dervish called to his attendant, who from the
handkerchief drew forth a brass cup, of a plain surface, but written all
over with quotations from the Koran, having reference to the crime of
stealing, and defrauding the orphan of his lawful property. He was a man
of few words, and simply saying, ‘In the name of Allah, the All-wise,
and All-seeing,’ he placed the cup on the floor, treating it with much
reverence, both in touch and in manner.

He then said to the lookers-on, ‘Inshallah, it will lead us at once to
the spot where the money of the deceased Kerbelai Hassan (may God show
him mercy!) is or was deposited.’

We all looked at each other, some with expressions of incredulity,
others with unfeigned belief, when he bent himself towards the cup,
and with little shoves and pats of his hand he impelled it forwards,
exclaiming all the time, ‘See, see, the road it takes. Nothing can stop
it. It will go, in spite of me. Mashallah, Mashallah!’

We followed him, until he reached the door of the harem, where we
knocked for admittance. After some negotiation it was opened, and there
we found a crowd of women (many of whom had only loosely thrown on their
veils) waiting with much impatience to witness the feats which this
wonderful cup was to perform.

‘Make way,’ said the diviner to the women who stood in his path, as he
took his direction towards a corner of the court, upon which the windows
of the room opened--‘Make way; nothing can stop my guide.’

A woman, whom I recognized to be my mother, stopped his progress several
times, until he was obliged to admonish her, with some bitterness, to
keep clear of him.

‘Do not you see,’ said he, ‘we are on the Lord’s business? Justice will
be done, in spite of the wickedness of man.’

At length he reached a distant corner, where it was plain that the earth
had been recently disturbed, and there he stopped.

‘_Bismillah_, in the name of Allah,’ said he, ‘let all present stand
around me, and mark what I do.’ He dug into the ground with his dagger,
clawed the soil away with his hands, and discovered a place in which
were the remains of an earthen vessel, and the marks near it of there
having been another.

‘Here,’ said he, ‘here the money was, but is no more.’ Then taking up
his cup, he appeared to caress it, and make much of it, calling it his
little uncle and his little soul.

Every one stared. All cried out, ‘_ajaib_, wonderful’; and the little
humpback was looked upon as a supernatural being.

The capiji, who was accustomed to such discoveries, was the only one
who had the readiness to say, ‘But where is the thief? You have shown us
where the game lay, but we want you to catch it for us:--the thief and
the money, or the money without the thief--that is what we want.’

‘Softly, my friend,’ said the dervish to the capiji, ‘don’t jump so soon
from the crime to the criminal, We have a medicine for every disorder,
although it may take some time to work.’

He then cast his eyes upon the company present, twinkling them all the
while in quick flashes, and said, ‘I am sure every one here will be
happy to be clear of suspicion, and will agree to what I shall propose.
The operation is simple, and soon over.’

‘_Elbetteh_, certainly’: ‘_Belli_, yes’: ‘_Een che harf est?_ what
word is this?’ was heard to issue from every mouth, and I requested the
dervish to proceed.

He called again to his servant, who produced a small bag, whilst he
again took the cup under his charge.

‘This bag,’ said the diviner, ‘contains some old rice. I will put a
small handful of it into each person’s mouth, which they will forthwith
chew. Let those who cannot break it, beware, for Eblis is near at hand.’

Upon this, placing us in a row, he filled each person’s mouth with rice,
and all immediately began to masticate. Being the complainant, of course
I was exempt from the ordeal; and my mother, who chose to make common
cause with me, also stood out of the ranks. The quick-sighted dervish
would not allow of this, but made her undergo the trial with the rest,
saying, ‘The property we seek is not yours, but your son’s. Had he been
your husband, it would be another thing.’ She agreed to his request,
though with bad grace, and then all the jaws were set to wagging, some
looking upon it as a good joke, others thinking it a hard trial to the
nerves. As fast as each person had ground his mouthful, he called to the
dervish, and showed the contents of his mouth.

All had now proved their innocence excepting the âkhon and my mother.
The former, whose face exhibited the picture of an affected cheerfulness
with great nervous apprehension, kept mumbling his rice, and turning it
over between his jaws, until he cried out in a querulous tone, ‘Why
do you give me this stuff to chew? I am old, and have no teeth:--it
is impossible for me to reduce the grain’; and then he spat it out. My
mother, too, complained of her want of power to break the hard rice, and
did the same thing. A silence ensued, which made us all look with more
attention than usual upon them, and it was only broken by a time-server
of my mother, an old woman, who cried out, ‘What child’s play is this?
Who has ever heard of a son treating his mother with this disrespect,
and his old schoolmaster, too? Shame, shame!--let us go--he is probably
the thief himself.’

Upon this the dervish said, ‘Are we fools and asses, to be dealt with
in this manner? Either there was money in that corner, or there was
not--either there are thieves in the world, or there are not. This man
and this woman,’ pointing to the âkhon and my mother, ‘have not done
that which all the rest have done. Perhaps they say the truth, they are
old, and cannot break the hard grain. Nobody says that they stole the
money--they themselves know that best,’ said he, looking at them through
and through; ‘but the famous diviner, Hezarfun, he who was truly called
the bosom friend to the Great Bear, and the confidant of the planet
Saturn,--he who could tell all that a man has ever thought, thinks, or
will think,--he hath said that the trial by rice, among cowards was the
best of all tests of a man’s honesty. Now, my friends, from all I have
remarked, none of you are slayers of lions, and fear is easily produced
among you. However, if you doubt my skill in this instance, I will
propose a still easier trial,--one which commits nobody, which works
like a charm upon the mind, and makes the thief come forward of his own
accord, to ease his conscience and purse of its ill-gotten wealth, at
one and the same time. I propose the _Hâk reezî_, or the heaping
up earth. Here in this corner I will make a mound, and will pray so
fervently this very night, that, by the blessing of Allah, the Hajji,’
pointing to me, ‘Will find his money buried in it to-morrow at this
hour. Whoever is curious, let them be present, and if something be not
discovered, I will give him a miscal of hair from my beard.’

He then set to work, and heaped up earth in a corner, whilst the lookers
on loitered about, discussing what they had just seen; some examining
me and the dervish as children of the evil spirit, whilst others again
began to think as much of my mother and the schoolmaster. The company
then dispersed, most of them promising to return the following morning,
at the appointed time, to witness the search into the heap of earth.

[Illustration: The diviner and the rice. 27.jpg]


Of the diviner’s success in making discoveries, and of the resolution
which Hajji Baba takes in consequence.

I must own that I began now to look upon the restoration of my property
as hopeless. The diviner’s skill had certainly discovered that money had
been buried in my father’s house, and he had succeeded in raising ugly
suspicions in my mind against two persons whom I felt it to be a sin to
suspect; but I doubted whether he could do more.

However, he appeared again on the following morning, accompanied by
the capiji, and by several of those who had been present at the former
scene. The âkhon, however, did not appear, and my mother was also
absent, upon pretext of being obliged to visit a sick friend. We
proceeded in a body to the mound, and the dervish having made a holy
invocation, he approached it with a sort of mysterious respect.

‘Now we shall see,’ said he, ‘whether the Gins and the Peris have been
at work this night’; and exclaiming ‘Bismillah! he dug into the earth
with his dagger.

Having thrown off some of the soil, a large stone appeared, and having
disengaged that, to the astonishment of all, and to my extreme delight,
a canvas bag well filled was discovered.

‘Oh my soul! oh my heart!’ exclaimed the humpback, as he seized upon the
bag, ‘you see that the Dervish Teez Negah is not a man to lose a hair
of his beard. There, there,’ said he, putting it into my hand, ‘there is
your property: go, and give thanks that you have fallen into my hands,
and do not forget my _hak sai_, or my commission.’

Everybody crowded round me, whilst I broke open the wax that was affixed
to the mouth of the bag, upon which I recognized the impression of my
father’s seal; and eagerness was marked on all their faces as I untied
the twine with which it was fastened. My countenance dropped woefully
when I found that it only contained silver, for I had made up my mind
to see gold. Five hundred reals[85] was the sum of which I became the
possessor; out of which I counted fifty, and presented them to the
ingenious discoverer of them. ‘There,’ said I, ‘may your house prosper!
If I were rich I would give you more: and although this is evidently but
a small part of what my father (God be with him!) must have accumulated,
still again I say, may your house prosper, and many sincere thanks to

The dervish was satisfied with my treatment of him, and took his leave,
and I was soon after left by the rest of the company--the capiji alone
remaining. ‘Famous business we have made of it this morning,’ said he.
‘Did I not say that these diviners performed wonders?’

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘yes, it is wonderful, for I never thought his operations
would have come to anything.’

Impelled by a spirit of cupidity, now that I had seen money glistening
before me, I began to complain that I had received so little, and again
expressed to Ali Mohamed my wish of bringing the case before the cadi;
‘for,’ said I, ‘if I am entitled to these five hundred reals, I am
entitled to all my father left; and you will acknowledge that this must
be but a very small part of his savings.’

‘Friend,’ said he, ‘listen to the words of an old man. Keep what you
have got, and be content. In going before the cadi, the first thing you
will have to do will be to give of your certain, to get at that most
cursed of all property, the uncertain. Be assured that after having
drained you of your four hundred and fifty reals, and having got five
hundred from your opponents, you will have the satisfaction to hear him
tell you both to “go in peace, and do not trouble the city with your
disputes.” Have you not lived long enough in the world to have learnt
this common saying--“Every one’s teeth are blunted by acids, except the
cadi’s, which are by sweets”?

‘The cadi who takes five cucumbers as a bribe, will admit any evidence
for ten beds of melons.’

After some deliberation, I determined to take the advice of the capiji;
for it was plain that if I intended to prosecute any one, it could only
be my mother and the âkhon; and to do that, I should raise such a host
of enemies, and give rise to such unheard-of scandal, that perhaps I
should only get stoned by the populace for my pains.

‘I will dispose of everything I have at Ispahan,’ said I to my adviser,
‘and, having done that, will leave it never to return, unless under
better circumstances. It shall never see me more,’ exclaimed I, in a
vapouring fit, ‘unless I come as one having authority.’

Little did I think, when I made this vain speech, how diligently my good
stars were at work to realize what it had expressed.

The capiji applauded my intention; the more so, as he took some little
interest that my resolutions should be put into practice; for he had a
son, a barber, whom he wished to set up in business; and what could be
more desirable, in every respect, than to see him installed in the shop
in which my poor father had flourished so successfully, close to his
post at the caravanserai?

He made proposals that I should dispose of the shop and all its
furniture to him, which I agreed to do, upon the evaluation of some
well-known brother of the strap, and thus I was relieved of one of my
remaining cares.

As for my father’s house and furniture, notwithstanding my feelings at
the recent conduct of my mother, I determined, by way of acquiring
a good name (of which I was very much in want), to leave her in full
possession of them, reserving to myself the _temesoûts_, or deeds, which
constituted me its lawful owner.

All being settled and agreed upon, I immediately proceeded to work. I
received five hundred piastres from the capiji for my shop; for he also
had been a great accumulator of his savings, and everybody allowed that
money was never laid out to better advantage, since the shop was sure
to enjoy a great run of business, owing to its excellent situation. I
therefore became worth in all about one hundred and ten tomauns in gold,
a coin into which I changed my silver, for the greater facility which
it gave me of carrying it about my person. Part of this I laid out
in clothes, and part in the purchase of a mule with its necessary
furniture. I gave the preference to a mule, because, after mature
deliberation, I had determined to abandon the character of a _sahib
shemshir_, or a man of the sword, in which, for the most part, I had
hitherto appeared in life, and adopt that of a _sahib calem_, or a man
of the pen, for which, after my misfortunes, and the trial which I had
in some measure made of it at Kom, I now felt a great predilection.

‘It will not suit me, now, to be bestriding a horse,’ said I to myself,
‘armed, as I used to be, at all points, with sword by my side, pistols
in my girdle, and a carbine at my back. I will neither deeply indent my
cap, and place it on one side, as before, with my long curls dangling
behind my ears, but wind a shawl round it, which will give me a new
character; and, moreover, clip the curls, which will inform the world
that I have renounced it and its vanities. Instead of pistols, I will
stick a roll of papers in my girdle; and, in lieu of a cartouche-box,
sling a Koran across my person. Besides, I will neither walk on the tips
of my toes, nor twist about my body, nor screw up my waist, nor throw my
shoulders forward, nor swing my hands to and fro before me, nor in short
take upon myself any of the airs of a _kasheng_, of a beau, in which I
indulged when sub-deputy to the chief executioner. No; I will, for the
future, walk with my back bent, my head slouching, my eyes looking on
the ground, my hands stuck either in front of my girdle, or hanging
perpendicular down my sides, and my feet shall drag one after the other,
without the smallest indication of a strut. Looking one’s character is
all in all; for if, perchance, I happen to say a foolish thing, it will
be counted as wisdom, when it comes from a mortified looking face, and
a head bound round with a mollah’s shawl, particularly when it is
accompanied with a deep sigh, and an exclamation of _Allah ho Akbar!_
or _Allah, Allah il Allah!_ and if, perchance, I am brought face to face
with a man of real learning, and am called upon to sustain my character,
I have only to look wise, shut my lips, and strictly keep my own
counsel. Besides, I can read; and, with the practice that I intend
to adopt, it will not be long before I shall be able to write a good
hand;--that alone, by enabling me to make a copy of the Koran, will
entitle me to the respect of the world.’

With reflections such as these I passed my time until it was necessary
to decide whither I should bend my steps. Everything told me that I
ought to make the most of the good impression which I had left behind
me, on the minds of the mûshtehed of Kom and his disciples, for he was
the most likely person to help me in my new career: he might recommend
me to some mollah of his acquaintance, who would take me as his scribe
or his attendant, and teach me the way that I should go. Besides, I
left him so abruptly when through his means I had been released from
my confinement in the sanctuary, that I felt I had a debt of gratitude
still to pay. ‘I will take him a present,’ said I; ‘he shall not say
that I am unmindful of his goodness.’ Accordingly I turned over in
my thoughts what I ought to present, when I again determined upon a
praying-carpet, which I forthwith purchased; reflecting, at the same
time, that it would make a comfortable seat, when duly folded, on the
top of my mule’s pad.

I had now nearly finished all that I had to do, previous to my
departure. I was equipped ready for my journey, and I flattered myself
that my outward appearance was that of a rigid mollah. I did not take
upon myself the title of one, but rather left that to circumstances;
but, in the meanwhile, the epithet of Hajji, which had been given to
me as a pet name when I was a child, now came very opportunely to my
assistance, to aid me to sustain my new character.

One duty I still had to accomplish, and that was to pay the expenses of
my father’s funeral. I do own that, cheated as I had been of my lawful
patrimony, I felt it hard that such an expense should fall upon me; and
several times had planned a departure from Ispahan unknown to anybody,
in order that the burden might fall upon the âkhon and my mother, to
whom I had intended the honour of payment; but my better feelings got
the mastery, and reflecting that by acting thus I should render myself
fully entitled to the odious epithet _peder sukhtéh_[86] (one whose
father is burnt) without further combat, I went round to each of the
attendants, namely, mollahs, mourners, and washers of the dead, and paid
them their dues.


Hajji Baba quits his mother, and becomes the scribe to a celebrated man
of the law.

I took leave of my mother without much regret, and she did not increase
the tenderness of our parting by any great expression of sorrow. She had
her plans, I had mine; and, considering how we stood circumstanced, the
less we ran in each other’s way the better. I mounted my mule at break
of day, and, ere the sun had past its meridian, was already considerably
advanced on my road to Kom. I loitered but little on my journey,
notwithstanding the pleasures which a halt at Kashan might have afforded
me, and on the ninth day I once again saw the gilded cupola of the tomb
of Fatimeh.

Alighting at a small caravanserai in the town, I saw my mule well
provided, and then, with my present to the mûshtehed under my arm, I
proceeded to his house. His door was open to every one, for he made no
parade of servants to keep the stranger in awe, as may be seen at the
houses of the great in Persia; and, leaving my carpet at the door with
my shoes, I entered the room, in one corner of which I found the good
man seated.

He immediately recognized me, and, giving me a welcome reception, he
desired me to seat myself, which I did, with all proper respect, at the
very edge of the felt carpet.

He asked me to relate the history of my adventures since I left Kom, for
he professed himself interested in my fate; and, having made him all the
necessary acknowledgments for procuring my release from the sanctuary, I
related all that had befallen me. I also told him what a calling I felt
within me to devote myself to a holy life, and entreated his help
to procure me some situation in which I might show my zeal for the
interests of the true faith.

He reflected for a moment, and said, ‘that very morning he had received
a letter from one of the principal men of the law of Tehran, the Mollah
Nadân, who was much in want of one who would act as half scribe and
half servant; one, in short, who might be of good materials for a future
mollah, and whom he would instruct in all that was necessary in that

My heart leaped within me when I heard this, for it was precisely the
place that my imagination had created. ‘Leave it to me,’ thought I, ‘to
become a whole mollah, when once I have been made half a one.’

Without hesitation I entreated the mûshtehed to continue his good
offices in my behalf, which he promised to do; and forthwith addressed a
small note, with his own hand, to the Mollah Nadân. This he sealed, and,
having duly fashioned it in its proper shape with his scissors, rolled
it up and delivered it to me; saying, ‘Proceed to Tehran immediately; no
doubt you will find the place vacant, and the mollah willing to appoint
you to fill it.’

I was so happy that I kissed the good man’s hand and the hem of his
garment, making him thousands of acknowledgments for his goodness.

‘I have one more favour to ask of my master,’ said I, ‘which is, that
he will deign to accept a small _peish-kesh_, a present from his humble
slave; it is a praying-carpet, and, should he honour him so far as to
use it, he hopes that now and then he will not forget the donor in his

‘May your house prosper, Hajji,’ said he very graciously, ‘and I
am thankful to you for remembering me, not that there was the least
occasion for this present. Be a good Mussulman, wage war against the
infidels, and stone the Sûfis,--that is the only return I ask; and be
assured that, by so doing, you will always find a place in my memory.’

I then presented my gift, with which he seemed much pleased; and,
having received my dismissal, I returned to my caravanserai, in the
determination of pursuing my road to the capital as fast as I could. I
did not even give myself time to call upon my other friends at Rom, or
even to take a look at my former unhappy cell in the sanctuary; but,
saddling my mule, I pushed on to the caravanserai of the Pûl-i-dallâk
that very night.

I reached Tehran in the evening, and, in order not to see the spot in
which the unfortunate Zeenab was buried, I made a deviation from my
straight road, and entered by the Casbin gate. I was happy to remark
that I was not recognized by the guards, who, when I was in office, were
accustomed to show themselves on the alert at my approach. But indeed it
was not surprising that the active, bustling, imperious nasakchi should
not be known under the garb of the would-be humble and insignificant
priest; so for the present I felt secure in my disguise, and I boldly
took my way through the bazaars and the most public places of the city,
where formerly nothing but my face was to be seen; and happy was I to
find that no one recollected me. I inquired my way to the house of the
Mollah Nadân, which was speedily pointed out, for he was a well-known
character; but, on second thoughts, I deemed it more prudent and
convenient to put up at a small caravanserai, situated near the house of
my new master, than to present myself, late in the day as it then was,
to him, upon whom it was my interest, by my looks and appearance, to
produce the best possible impression.

Having taken good care of my mule, I slept soundly after the fatigues of
the journey; and the next morning I repaired to the bath, where, having
given a fresh tinge to my beard, and plentifully used the khena to my
hands and feet, I flattered myself that in appearance I was precisely
the sort of person likely to meet with success.

The mollah’s house was situated between the royal mosque and the
quarters of the camel artillerymen, and near to the entrance of the
bazaar, which, leading by the gate of the said mosque, opens at its
other extremity immediately on the ditch of the Shah’s palace. It had
a mean front; although, having once passed through the gate, the small
courtyard which immediately succeeded was clean, and well watered; and
the room which looked into it, though only whitewashed, had a set of
carpets, which did not indicate wealth, but still spoke the absence of

In this room was seated a wan and sickly-looking priest, whom I took to
be the master of the house; but I was mistaken--he was in his anderûn,
and I was told that he would shortly make his appearance.

In order to make known my pretensions to being something more than a
servant, I sat down, and entered into conversation with the priest, who,
from what I could pick from him, was a dependent upon the mollah. He, in
his turn, endeavoured to discover what my business could be; but he did
not so well succeed, although the strange and mysterious questions which
he put drew forth my astonishment.

‘You are evidently newly arrived in Tehran?’ said he.

‘Yes, at your service,’ said I.

‘You intend probably to make some stay?’ added he.

‘That is not quite certain,’ said I.

Then, after a pause, he said, ‘It is dull living alone, even for a week,
and Tehran is a city full of enjoyment. If there is any service that I
can perform, I will do it--upon my eyes, be it.’

‘May your kindness never be less! My business is with the Mollah Nadân.’

‘There is no difference between him and me,’ said he. ‘I can facilitate
any business you may have; and, praise be to Allah, you will be served
to your heart’s content. We have at our disposal of all sorts and all

‘I am not a merchant,’ said I.

‘There is no necessity to be a merchant,’ said he; ‘it is enough that
you are a man and a stranger. You will find, be it for a year, a month,
a week, a day, or even an hour, that you will pass your time agreeably;
upon my head be it.’

I became more and more puzzled at his meaning, and was on the point
of asking him to enlighten my understanding, when the Mollah Nadân, in
person, entered the room.

He was a tall handsome man, about forty years of age, with a jet-black
beard, glossy with fresh dye, and with fine brilliant eyes, painted with
the powder of antimony. He wore on his head an immense turban of white
muslin, whilst a _hirkeh_, or Arab cloak, with broad stripes of white
and brown alternately, was thrown over his shoulders. Although his
athletic person was better suited to the profession of arms than to
that of the law, yet his countenance had none of the frankness of the
soldier, but on the contrary bespoke cunning and design, while at the
same time it announced good-humour.

I got up at his approach, and immediately presented my note from the
mûshtehed, whilst I did not venture again to sit. Having unrolled it, he
looked at me and then at it, as if to divine what could be my business;
but as soon as he had deciphered the seal, his face expanded into a
bright smile, and he requested me to be seated.

‘You are welcome,’ said he; and then he asked me a series of questions
concerning the health of the holy man, which I freely answered, as if
intimately acquainted with him.. He read the note with great attention,
but said not a word of its contents. He then began to make apologies for
not having a kalian (a pipe) to offer me, ‘for,’ said he, ‘I am not a
smoker of tobacco. We, who rigidly uphold the true faith, reject all
such luxuries, and mortify our senses. Our Holy Prophet (upon whom
be blessings and peace!) has forbidden to his followers whatever
intoxicates; and although tobacco be almost universally used throughout
Persia as well as Turkey, yet it is known sometimes to obscure the
understanding, and therefore I abstain from it.’

He continued to talk about himself, his fasts, his penance, and his
self-mortification, until I began to think that I should pass my time
but so-so in his house, nor enjoy the delights the priest had just
before promised me; but when I compared his healthy and rubicund face,
his portly and well-fed body, to the regimen which he professed to keep,
I consoled myself by the hope that he allowed great latitude in his
interpretation of the law; and perhaps that I should find, like the
house which he inhabited, which had its public and private apartments,
that his own exterior was fitted up for the purposes of the world,
whilst his interior was devoted to himself and his enjoyments.


The mollah Nadân gives an account of his new scheme for raising money,
and for making men happy.

When left to ourselves (for the priest soon after quitted the room),
mollah Nadân, taking the mûshtehed’s note from his breast, said, that
he should be happy to receive me in his service upon so good a
recommendation; and having questioned me upon my qualifications, I gave
such answers, that he expressed himself satisfied.

‘I have long been seeking a person of your character,’ said he, ‘but
hitherto without success. He, who has just left us, has assisted me in
my several duties; but he is too much of a _napak_ (an intriguer) for my
purpose. I want one who will look upon my interests as his own, who will
eat his bit of bread with me and be satisfied, without taking a larger
share than his due.’

In answer to this, I informed the mollah that although I had already
seen much of the world, yet he would find in me a faithful servant, and
one ready to imbibe his principles; for (as I had already explained
to the mûshtehed) my mind was made up to leading a new life, and
endeavouring under his direction to become the mirror of a true

‘In that,’ said the mollah, ‘esteem yourself as the most fortunate
of men; for I am looked up to as the pattern of the followers of the
blessed Mahomed. In short, I may be called a living Koran. None pray
more regularly than I. No one goes to the bath more scrupulously, nor
abstains more rigidly from everything that is counted unclean. You will
find neither silk in my dress, nor gold on my fingers. My ablutions are
esteemed the most complete of any man’s in the capital, and the mode
of my abstersion the most in use. I neither smoke nor drink wine before
men; neither do I play at chess, at _gengifeh_ (cards), or any game
which, as the law ordains, abstracts the mind from holy meditation. I am
esteemed the model of fasters; and during the Ramazan give no quarter to
the many hungry fellows who come to me under various pretexts, to beg
a remission of the strictness of the law. “No,” do say to them, “die
rather than eat, or drink, or smoke. Do like me, who, rather than abate
one tittle of the sacred ordinance, would manage to exist from _Jumah_
to _Jumah_ (Friday) without polluting my lips with unlawful food.”’

Although I did not applaud his tenacity about fasting, yet I did not
fail to approve all he said, and threw in my exclamations so well in
time, that I perceived he became almost as much pleased with me as he
appeared to be with himself.

‘From the same devotedness to religion,’ continued he, ‘I have ever
abstained from taking to myself a wife, and in that respect I may be
looked upon as exceeding even the perfection of our Holy Prophet; who
(blessings attend his beard!) had wives and women slaves, more even than
_Sûleiman ibn Daoud_ himself. But although I do not myself marry, yet
I assist others in doing so; and it is in that particular branch of my
duty in which I intend more especially to employ you.’

‘By my eyes,’ said I, ‘you must command me; for hitherto I am ignorant
as the Turk in the fields.’

‘You must know then,’ said he, ‘that, to the scandal of religion, to the
destruction of the law, the commerce of _cowlies_, or courtezans, had
acquired such ascendancy in this city, that wives began to be esteemed
as useless. Men’s houses were ruined, and the ordinances of the Prophet
disregarded. The Shah, who is a pious prince, and respects the Ullemah,
and who holds the ceremony of marriage sacred, complained to the head
of the law, the mollah bashi, of this subversion of all morality in
his capital, and, with a reprimand for his remissness, ordered him to
provide a remedy for the evil. The mollah bashi (between you and me, be
it said) is in every degree an ass,--one who knows as much of religion
and its duties, as of Frangistân and its kings. But I--I, who am the
mollah Nadân,--I suggested a scheme in which the convenience of the
public and the ordinances of the law are so well combined, that both may
be suited without hindrance to either. You know it is lawful among us to
marry for as long or as short a time as may be convenient; and in that
case the woman is called _mûtî_.

“Why then,” said I to the chief priest, “why not have a sufficient
number of such like wives in store, for those who know not where to seek
for a companion? The thing is easy to be done, and Nadân the man to do

‘The mollah bashi, who, though the cream of blockheads in all other
cases, is very quick-sighted when his interest is concerned, caught
at my idea, for he foresaw a great harvest of gain for himself. He
consequently acquired possession of several small houses of little
value, in which he has installed a certain number of women, who, through
his interference, are married, in the character and with the privileges
of mûties, to whoever is ambitious of such a marriage; and as both
parties on such occasion pay him a fee, he has thus very considerably
increased his revenues. So eagerly do the people marry, hat he has
several mollahs at work, wholly engaged in reading the marriage
ceremony. He has entirely excluded me from any share in his profits,--I
who first suggested the plan; and therefore I am determined to undertake
the business myself, and thus add to the public convenience. But we must
be secret; for if the mollah bashi was to hear of my scheme, he would
interpose his authority, overthrow it, and perhaps have me expelled the

During this exposure of the mollah’s plans, I began to look at him from
head to foot, and to question within myself whether this in fact could
be the celebrated pillar of the law, of whom the mûshtehed, good man!
had spoken in such high terms. However, I was too new in holy life to
permit any scruples against the fitness of such schemes to come across
my mind; so I continued to applaud all that Nadân had said, and he
continued as follows:--

‘I have already three women in readiness, established in a small house
in the neighbourhood, and it is my intention to employ you in the search
of husbands for them. You will frequent the caravanserais, watching
the arrival of merchants and other strangers, to whom you will propose
marriage, upon easier terms than the chief priest can offer, and
according to the riches of the bridegroom you will exact a proportionate
fee. I shall not give you any wages, because you will have opportunities
of acquiring such knowledge from me, that in time you may become
a mollah yourself, and show the road to all true believers in the
practices of their duty. You will find everything provided for you in my
house; and, now and then, opportunities will offer for putting something
honestly into your pocket. Whenever my friends come to see me, and when
they take their shâm (dinner) with me, you will appear as my servant; on
other occasions you may sit before me, and act as my scribe.’

The mollah here finished speaking, in the expectation of hearing what
I should say in answer; but I was so bewildered by this vast field of
action that he had opened to my view, that it took me some minutes to
recollect myself. I, who had expected to lead the life of a recluse,
to sit in a corner all the day long, reading my Koran, or mumbling
prayers--to frequent lectures in the _medressehs_ (schools), and
homilies in the mosques,--I, in short, who in my master expected to have
found a despiser of this world’s goods, and full of no other care than
that of preparing for the next,--of a sudden was called upon to engage
more deeply in the business of life than before, and to follow the
footsteps of a man who seemed to exist for no other purpose than to
amass wealth, and acquire consideration. ‘However, I can but try,’
thought I. My circumstances were too desperate to admit of much
hesitation; and, after all, to be the pupil of one of the most
celebrated men of the capital, was a situation not to be despised; and
so I accepted of the mollah’s offer.

He then told me that we should soon have some further conversation,
which, for the present, he was obliged to defer, because he was called
upon to attend the chief of the law; but, before he went, he mentioned,
that as he abstained from worldly pomp, he kept no servants but such as
were absolutely necessary. His establishment consisted of a cook, and
a servant who acted in the triple capacity of head-servant, valet, and
groom; and his stud, for the present, was composed of one ass. ‘After
considerable trouble,’ said he, ‘I have managed to procure a white one,
which, you know, is an animal that confers consideration on its rider;
but, as my business and my dignity increase, I intend to promote myself
to a mule.’ I did not lose this opportunity of informing him that I
had a very good one to dispose of; and, after some negotiation, it was
decided that we should keep both mule and ass; he, as the dignitary,
riding the former, whilst I should be carried about on the humbler

[Illustration: Hajji interviews the fair candidates for marriage. 28.jpg]


Hajji Baba becomes a promoter of matrimony, and of the register he

Preparatory to the full comprehension of the duties of my office, the
mollah Nadân requested me to introduce myself to the mûties, and gain
from them sufficient information to enable me to make a register, in
which I should insert their ages, appearance and beauty, tempers, and
general qualifications as wives. This I should carry about me, in order
to be able to exhibit it to any stranger who might fall in my way.

I first went to the bazaar, and furnished myself with a priest’s cloak,
with a coat that buttons across the breast, and a long piece of white
muslin, which I twisted round my head. Thus accoutred, in the full dress
of my new character, I proceeded to the women’s house, and found a ready
admission, for they had been apprised of my intended visit.

I found them all three seated in a mean and wretched apartment, smoking.
Their veils were loosely thrown over their heads, which, upon my
appearance, by a habit common to all our women, they drew tight over
their faces, merely keeping one eye free.

‘Peace be unto you, khanums!’ said I (for I knew how an appearance of
great respect conciliates)--‘I am come, on the part of the mollah Nadân,
to make you a tender of my humble services; and perhaps, as you know the
object of my visit, you will not object to lay your veils on one side.’

‘May you abide in peace,’ said they, ‘mollah!’ and then gave me to
understand, by many flattering speeches, that I was welcome, and that
they hoped my presence would bring them good luck.

Two of them immediately unveiled, and discovered faces which had long
bade adieu to their lilies and roses; and upon which, notwithstanding
the help of the surmeh round the eyelids, the blue stars on the forehead
and chin, and the rouge on the cheeks, I could, in broad characters,
make out a long catalogue of wrinkles. The third lady carefully
continued to keep herself veiled.

I did not hesitate to make an exclamation of surprise, as soon as the
two charmers had opened their battery of smiles upon me. ‘Praises to
Allah! _Mashallah!_’ said I, ‘this is a sight worthy of Ferhad himself.
Do not look too intensely upon me, for fear that I consume. What eyes!
what noses! what lips! Have pity upon me, and cease looking. But why,’
said I, ‘does this khanum’--(pointing to the unveiled one)--‘why does
she hold me so long in suspense? Perhaps she thinks me unworthy of
contemplating her charms; and she thinks right, for I am only a poor
mollah, whilst doubtless even the sun, in all its majesty, is not
entitled to such privilege.’

‘Why do you make this _naz_ (coyness ),’ said her companions to her;
‘you now he must be able to give an account of us, or else the curse of
single life will be our fate, and we shall remain the scorn and reproach
of womankind.’

‘Be it so,’ said the third woman; ‘the cat must come from under the
blanket’; and, in a sort of pet, she drew off her veil, and, to my great
astonishment, exhibited to my view the well-known features of the wife
of the Shah’s physician, my former master.

‘By all that is most sacred! by the beard of the blessed Prophet!’ said
I, ‘how is this? Are the Gins at work, that they should have brought
this about?’

‘Yes, Hajji,’ said she, very composedly, ‘fate is a wonderful thing. But
you, you who killed my husband, how came you to be a mollah?’

‘Is your husband dead, then,’ said I, ‘that you talk to me thus? Why do
you throw words away in this unguarded manner? What have I to do with
your husband’s death? He was once my master, and I grieve for his loss.
But you might as well say that I killed the martyr Hossein (blessings on
his memory!) as that I killed the hakîm. Tell me what has happened; for
I am walking round and round in the labyrinth of ignorance.’

‘Why do you pretend ignorance,’ said she with her usual scream, when you
must know that it was on your account that the Shah sent Zeenab out of
this world--that her death led to the doctor having his beard plucked
--that having his beard plucked brought on his disgrace--and his
disgrace death? Therefore you are the cause of all the mischief.’

‘What ashes are you heaping upon my head, O khanum?’ said I with great
vehemence; ‘why am I to be told that I am the death of a man, when I
was a hundred parasangs off at the time? You might as well say, if your
husband had died of a surfeit, that the labourer who had planted the
rice was the cause of his death.’

We continued to argue for some time, when the other women, fearing that
their interests would be neglected, interposed, and put me in mind that
we had business to transact; for they were anxious that their charms
should no longer lie barren and neglected. The khanum, too, who only
talked for talking’s sake, and who, to my knowledge, had cherished a
more than common hatred for her husband, seemed anxious that I should
forget her former more flourishing situation, and requested me to
proceed to business.

Still, to carry on the farce of respect, I began first with the doctor’s
widow, and requested to know some of the particulars of her history; in
order, when I came to describe her to some impatient bridegroom, I might
be able to do so in the best manner for her interests.

‘You know as well as I,’ said she, ‘that I once enjoyed the favour of
that rose in the paradise of sweets, the King of Kings; that I was the
first beauty in his harem, and the terror of all my rivals. But who can
withstand the decrees of destiny? A new woman arrived, who was provided
with a more powerful spell than I could possess for securing the Shah’s
love, and she destroyed my power. She feared my charms so much, that she
would not rest until I was expelled; and then, for my misfortune, the
Shah made a present of me to his chief physician. Oh, I shall never
forget the pangs of my mind, when I was transferred from the glories
and delights of the royal palace to the arms of the doctor, and to a
residence among physic and gallipots! I will not repeat all the history
of Zeenab. When the hakîm died, I endeavoured to revive the Shah’s good
feelings towards me; but the avenues to his ear were closed; and from
one stage of misery to another I, who once could lead the viceregent of
Allah by the beard, am reduced to seek a husband in the highway.’

Upon this she began to cry and bemoan her cruel destiny; but I in some
measure pacified her, by the assurance that I would do all in my power
to procure for her a suitable mate.

‘You see,’ said she, ‘that I am still handsome, and that the career
of my youth is yet to run. Look at my eyes: have they lost their
brightness? Admire my eyebrows. Where will you meet with a pair that
are so completely thrown into one? Then see my waist, it is not a span

She went on in full enumeration of her most minute perfections, upon
which I gazed with all my eyes, as she desired; but, instead of youth
and beauty, I could make nothing better of her than an old fat and
bloated hag, upon whom I longed to revenge myself, for her former
ill-treatment to the unfortunate Zeenab.

The other two ladies then gave me a sketch of their lives. One was the
widow of a silversmith, who had been blown from a mortar for purloining
some gold, which he had received to make a pair of candlesticks for
the king; and the other had turned mûti in her own defence, having been
abandoned by her husband, who had fled from the wrath of the Shah, and
sought refuge among the Russians.

They also endeavoured to persuade me that they were young and handsome,
to which I agreed with as good a grace as I was able; and, having made
the necessary notes in my register, I promised to exert myself to
the best for their advantage. ‘Recollect,’ said one, ‘that I am only
eighteen.’ ‘Don’t forget,’ said another, ‘that I am still a child.’
‘Always keep in mind my two eyebrows that look like one,’ roared out the
hakîm’s widow.

‘Upon my eyes be it,’ exclaimed I, as I left the room; and then I
consoled myself for the sight of such a trio of frights, by giving vent
to a peal of anathemas and laughter.

[Illustration: The mock marriage. 29.jpg]


Of the man Hajji Baba meets, thinking him dead; and of the marriage
which he brings about.

Having accomplished this part of my business, I strolled to one of the
most frequented caravanserais in the city, to see whether, perchance,
some circumstance might not turn up to advance my master’s views. As I
approached it, I found all the avenues blocked up with mules and camels
heavily laden, intermixed with travellers, some of whom wearing a white
band, the distinguishing mark of the pilgrims who have visited the tomb
of Iman Reza, at Meshed, informed me that the caravan came from the
province of Khorassan. I waited to see it gradually unravel from the
maze of the narrow streets, and, after a due allowance of wrangling and
abuse between the mule and camel drivers, I saw it take up its abode in
the square of the building.

‘Perhaps’, said I, ‘my good stars may throw some of my former
acquaintance at Meshed into my way’; and I looked at each traveller with
great earnestness. It was true that many years had now elapsed since my
memorable bastinado, and that time would have made great changes in the
appearances of men; but still, I, who knew each face by heart, and
had studied its expression as it inhaled my smoke, hoped that my
recollection would not fail me.

I had despaired of making a discovery, and was about to walk away, when
a certain nose, a certain round back, and a certain projecting paunch,
met my eye, and arrested my attention.

‘Those forms are familiar to me,’ said I; ‘they are connected with
some of my early ideas; and assuredly are the property of one who is
something more than a common acquaintance.’ My first master, Osman Aga,
came into my mind; but all idea of him I immediately banished, because
it was more than certain that he had long since fallen a victim to the
horrors of his captivity among the Turcomans. Still I looked at him, and
at every glance I felt convinced it was either he, his brother, or his
ghost. I approached to where he was seated, in the hope of hearing him
speak; but he seemed to be torpid (which was another characteristic in
favour of my suspicion), and I had waited some time in vain, when, to
my surprise, I heard him, in a voice well known to my ears, inquire of
a merchant who was passing, ‘In God’s name, what may be the price of
lambs’ skins at Constantinople?’

‘Oh, for once,’ said I, ‘I cannot be mistaken! You can be no one but
Osman,’--and I immediately made myself known to him.

He was as slow to believe that it was Hajji Baba who accosted him, as I
had been to make him out Osman Aga.

After our expressions of mutual astonishment had somewhat subsided, we
began to survey each other. I discussed the greyness of his beard, and
he complimented me upon the beauty and blackness of mine. He talked
with great serenity of the lapse of time, and of the nothingness of
this world, from which I perceived that his belief in predestination
had rather increased than diminished by his misfortunes, and which alone
could account for the equanimity with which he had borne them. In his
usual concise manner, he related what had befallen him since we last
met. He said, that after the first feelings of misery at his captivity
had gone by, his time passed more agreeably than he had expected; for he
had nothing to do but to sit with the camels, whose nature being of
the same calm and philosophic cast as his own, suited his quiet and
sedentary habits. His food was indifferent, but then he had excellent
water; and the only privation which he seemed to regret was tobacco,--a
want which long previous habit rendered infinitely painful. Years had
run on in this manner, and he had made up his mind to pass the remainder
of his life with the camels, when his destiny took another turn, and he
once more had the cheering hope of being restored to liberty. One, who
gave himself out for a prophet, appeared among the Turcomans. According
to the custom of such personages, he established his influence by
pretending to work two or three miracles, and which were received
as such by that credulous people. His word became a law. The most
celebrated and experienced marauders freely laid their spoils at his
feet, and willingly listed under his banner, in whatever enterprise he
chose to propose. Osman Aga presented himself before him, asserted his
privileges of a Sûni, and, moreover, of being an emir, and at length
succeeded in making the impostor procure his liberty without ransom,
which he did, in order to advance the glory of the true faith. Once
free, he lost no time in proceeding to Meshed, where, to his great
good fortune, he met merchants from Bagdad, one of whom being nearly
connected to him by marriage, advanced him a small sum of money to
trade with. He received encouraging accounts of the state of the Turkish
markets for the produce of Bokhara, and thither he proceeded to make his
purchases on the spot. Owing to his long residence among the Turcomans,
he had acquired much useful knowledge concerning their manners and
customs--particularly on the subject of buying and selling--and this
enabled him to trade, with much success, between Bokhara and Persia,
until he had gained a sufficient sum to enable his return to his country
with advantage. He was now on the road to Constantinople, with several
mules laden with the merchandise of Bokhara, Samarcand, and the east of
Persia; and having disposed of it there, it was then his intention to
return to his native city, Bagdad. He expressed, however, his intention
to remain at Tehran until the spring caravan should assemble, in order
to enjoy some of the pleasures of an imperial residence, after having
lived so long among savages, as he called the Turcomans, and he inquired
from me how he might most agreeably pass his time.

My fair charges immediately came into my mind; and recollecting of old
that he was a great advocate for the marriage state, I proposed a wife
to him without loss of time.

Certainly, thought I, nothing was ever more strongly pronounced than the
doctrine of predestination has been in this instance. Here, one of my
masters arrives from regions beyond the rising of the sun, to espouse
the widow of another of my masters, who dies just at the very nick of
time to produce the meeting, which I, who come from the countries of the
south, step in to promote.

The hakîm’s widow was the fattest of the three, and therefore I made
no scruple in proposing her to Osman, who at once acceded to my offer.
Softening down the little asperities of her temper, making much of her
two eyebrows in one, and giving a general description of her person,
suited to the Ottoman taste, I succeeded in giving a very favorable
opinion to the bridegroom of his intended.

I then proceeded to inform the mollah Nadân of my success, who appeared
to listen with delight to the adventures of this couple, which I related
to him with scrupulous detail. He directed me how to proceed, and
informed me, in order to make the marriage lawful, that a vakeel, or
trustee, must appear on the part of the woman, and another on that of
the man. That the woman’s vakeel having beforehand agreed upon the terms
of the marriage, proceeded to ask the following question of the man’s
_vakeel_, in the Arabic tongue.

‘Have you agreed to give your soul to me upon such and such conditions?’
to which the other answers, ‘I have agreed’; and then the parties are
held to be lawfully joined together. Nadân himself proposed to officiate
on the part of the hakîm’s widow, and I on the part of Osman; and it was
left to my ingenuity to obtain as large a fee as possible for ourselves,
on this happy occasion.

I forthwith communicated the joyful tidings to the khanum, as I still
called her, who did not fail to excite the envy of her other companions,
for she immediately laid her success to her superior beauty, and to that
never-failing object of her care, her two eyebrows in one. She was,
as the reader may be allowed to suppose, in great anxiety at her
appearance; for she dreaded not being corpulent enough for her Turk, and
from what I could judge, rather doubted the brilliancy of her eye, from
the great quantity of black paint which she had daubed on her eyelids.

I left her to return to Osman Aga, who, good man, was also arming
himself for conquest; and he seemed to think that, owing to his long
residence among camels, he might have imbibed so much of their natures
as to have become a fit subject for the perfumes of musk and ambergris.
Accordingly, he went to the bath, his grey beard was dyed a glossy
black; his hands received a golden tinge; and his mustachios were
invited to curl upwards towards the corners of his eyes, instead of
downwards into his mouth, as they usually had done.

He then arrayed himself in his best, and followed me to the house of the
mollah Nadân, where owing to this change in his appearance, he very well
passed off for a man at least ten years younger than he was in reality.

As soon as the parties came in sight of each other, an unconcerned
bystander would have been amused with their first glances--he, the
bridegroom, endeavouring to discover what he was about to espouse--she,
the bride, making play with her veil in such an artful manner as to
induce his belief that it concealed celestial charms. But I was too
deeply interested in the game to make it matter of amusement. Besides,
more than once, a certain fifty ducats that had formerly belonged to
Osman, and which I had appropriated to my own use, came into my mind,
and made me fear that it also might have a place in his: ‘and if,’ said
I, ‘he gets displeased and angry, who knows what ashes may not fall upon
my head!’

However, they were married; and I believe most truly that he did not
succeed in getting one glimpse of his intended until I had pronounced
the awful words, ‘I agree’; when in his impatience he partly pulled her
veil on one side, and I need not say that he was far from fainting with

As soon as he was well satisfied that his charmer was not a Zuleikha, he
called me to him, and said, ‘Hajji, I thought that youth, at least, she
would have possessed; but she is more wrinkled than any camel. How is

I got out of the scrape as well as I was able, by assuring him that
she had once been the flower of the royal harem, and reminded him that
nothing had so much to do with marriage as destiny.

‘Ah! that destiny’, said he, ‘is an answer for everything; but be its
effects what it may, it can no more make an old hag a young woman, than
it can make one and one three.’

Sorely did I fear that he would return his bargain upon our hands; but
when he found that it was impossible to expect anything better in
a mutî, a class of females, who generally were the refuse of
womankind,--old widows, and deserted wives; and who, rather than
live under the opprobrium that single life entails in our Mahomedan
countries, would put up with anything that came under the denomination
of husband, he agreed to take her to his home. I expected, like a hungry
hawk, who, the instant he is unhooded, pounces upon his prey, that Osman
as soon as he had got a sight of his charmer, would have carried her off
with impatience; but I was disappointed. He walked leisurely on to
his room in the caravanserai, and told her that she might follow him
whenever it suited her convenience.

[Illustration: The degradation of Hajji and the mollah. 30.jpg]


Showing how the ambition of the mollah Nadân involves both him and his
disciples in ruin.

Upon a closer acquaintance with my master, the mollah Nadân, I found
that, besides his being the most covetous of men, he was also the most
ambitious; and that his great and principal object was to become the
chief priest of Tehran. To that he turned all his thoughts, and left
nothing untried which might bring him into notice, either as a zealous
practiser of the ordinances of his religion, or a persecutor of those
who might be its enemies. He was the leader in prayer at the principal
mosque; he lectured at the royal medresseh, or college; and whenever he
could, he encouraged litigants to appeal to him for the settlement of
their disputes. On every occasion, particularly at the festival of the
No Rouz, when the whole corps of mollahs are drawn up in array before
the king, to pray for his prosperity, he always managed to make himself
conspicuous by the over-abundance of adulation which he exhibited, and
by making his sonorous voice predominate over that of others.

By such means, he had acquired considerable celebrity among the people,
although those who knew him better held him in no great estimation. An
opportunity soon occurred which abundantly proved this, and which, as I
will now narrate, gave an entire new turn to my fortunes.

The winter had passed over our heads, and spring was already far
advanced, when reports reached the capital, that in the southern
provinces of the kingdom, particularly in Lar and Fars, there had been
such a total want of rain that serious apprehensions of a famine were
entertained. As the year rolled on, the same apprehensions prevailed
in the more northern provinces; and a drought, such as before was
never known, gave rise to the most dismal forebodings. The Shah ordered
prayers to be put up at all the mosques in the city for rain, and the
mollah bashi was very active in enforcing the order.

My master Nadân had there too good an opportunity of manifesting his
religious zeal, and of making himself conspicuous by his exertions, not
to take advantage of it; and he lost not a moment in giving himself all
the stir in his power. Conscious of the influence he had obtained over
the populace, he went a step farther than his rival the chief priest,
and invited an immense crowd of the lower orders to follow him to a
large open space without the city, where he took the lead in prayer.

The drought still continuing, the Shah ordered all ranks of people to
attend him, and join in the supplications which he had first commenced.
He accounted this so great a triumph, that his zeal now knew no
bounds. He caused all sects, Christians, Jews, and Guebres, as well as
Mussulmans, to put up their prayers: still the heavens were inexorable;
no rain came, the despair increased, and Nadân redoubled his zeal.

At length, one morning when the weather was more than usually sultry,
he addressed a mob which he had purposely gathered round his house, in
words something to this purpose:--

‘Is there nothing more to be done, O men of Tehran! to avert this
misfortune which awaits the land of Irâk? ’Tis plain that the heavens
have declared against us, and that this city contains some, whose vices
and crimes must bring the Almighty vengeance upon us. Who can they be
but the kâfirs, the infidels, those transgressors of our law, those
wretches, who defile the purity of our walls by openly drinking wine,
that liquor forbidden by the holy Prophet (upon whom be blessing and
peace!) and by making our streets the scene of their vices? Let us go;
follow me to where these odious wine-bibbers live; let us break their
jars, and at least destroy one of the causes of the displeasure of Allah
against us.’

Upon this a general stir ensued; and fanaticism, such as I never thought
could be excited in the breasts of men, broke out in the most angry
expressions, which were only the forerunners of the violence that
soon after ensued. Nadân, putting himself at the head of the crowd,
haranguing as he pressed onwards, and followed by me--who had become as
outrageous a fanatic as the rest--led us to the Armenian quarter of the

The peaceable Christians, seeing this body of enraged Mohamedans making
for their houses, knew not what to do. Some barricaded their doors,
others fled, and others again stood transfixed, like men impaled. But
they did not long remain in doubt of our intentions; for first they were
assailed with volleys of stones, and then with such shouts of execration
and abuse, that they expected nothing less than a general massacre to

The mollah entered the houses of the principal Armenians, followed by
the most violent of the mob, and began an active search for wine. He
made no distinction between the women’s apartments and the public ones,
but broke open every door; and when at length he had found the jars in
which the liquor was contained, I leave the reader to imagine what was
the havoc which ensued. They were broken into a thousand pieces; the
wine flowed in every direction; and the poor owners could do nothing but
look on and wring their hands.

By the time that this ceremony had been performed in every house,
the fury of the mob had risen to the utmost, and from the houses they
proceeded to the church, which being forced open, they demolished
everything within--books, crucifixes, ornaments, furniture--nothing was
spared; and as there would not be wanting abundance of rogues on such
occasions, it was soon discovered that whatever valuables the despoiled
had possessed were carried away.

The ruin was now complete; and nothing more was left to the fury of the
mob but the unfortunate sufferers themselves, who perhaps would next
have been attacked, had not a king’s ferash appeared, accompanied by
one of the principal Armenians, and their presence produced an almost
instantaneous return to reason.

Apprehensive of the consequences of their conduct, all Nadân’s followers
made a precipitate retreat, leaving that revered personage and myself to
face the king’s officer. I presume our feelings will not be much
envied when we heard him inform us, that the King of Kings demanded our
immediate presence. The mollah looked at me, and I at him; and, perhaps,
two bearded men never looked more like raw fools than we did at that
moment. He endeavoured to temporize, and requested our conductor to
accompany him to his house, in order that he might put on his red cloth

‘There will be no occasion for red cloth stockings,’ said the ferash,

This produced a universal tremor in the mollah, and I must own that it
communicated itself to me in no agreeable manner. ‘But what have I done,
in the name of the Prophet?’ exclaimed he:--‘the enemies of our faith
must be overthrown. Is it not so?’ said he to the ferash.

‘You will see,’ returned the impenetrable man of blows.

We at length reached the palace, and at the entrance found the grand
vizier, seated with the mollah bashi, in the chief executioner’s

As we stood at the window, the grand vizier said to the mollah Nadân,
‘In the name of Ali, what is this that we hear? Have your wits forsaken
you? Do you forget that there is a king in Tehran?’

Then the mollah bashi exclaimed, ‘And who am I, that you should presume
to take the lead against the infidels?’

‘Conduct them before the king,’ exclaimed the executioner, as he arose
and took his staff of office in hand. ‘Do not keep the Centre of the
Universe waiting.’

More dead than alive, we were paraded through the avenues of the palace,
and then stepped through the small low door, which introduced us into
the enclosed garden, where we found the king seated in an upper room.

As we approached, I perceived the august monarch twisting his
mustachios, which is always esteemed a sign of wrath. I cast a glance at
Nadân, and I saw him streaming from every pore. We took our shoes off,
as soon as we had come within sight of him, and advanced to the brink of
the marble basin of water. The party who stood before the king consisted
of the mollah bashi, the chief executioner, the Armenian, Nadân, and

The chief executioner then placed his staff of office on the ground,
and making a low prostration, said, with all the prefatory form of words
usual in addressing the Shah, ‘This is the mollah Nadân, and this his
servant,’ pointing to me.

‘Say, mollah,’ said the king, addressing himself to my master in a very
composed tone of voice, ‘how long is it since you have undertaken to
ruin my subjects? Who gave you the power? Have you become a prophet? or
do you perhaps condescend to make yourself the king? Say, fellow, what
dirt is this that you have been eating?’

The culprit, who on every other occasion never wanted words, here lost
all power of utterance. He stammered out a few incoherent sentences
about infidels, wine, and the want of rain, and then remained immovable.

‘What does he say?’ said the king to the mollah bashi. ‘I have not
learnt from whom he claims his authority.’

‘May I be your sacrifice,’ said the chief priest; ‘he says, that he
acted for the benefit of your majesty’s subjects who wanted rain, which
they could not get so long as the infidels drank wine in Tehran.’

‘So you destroy part of my subjects to benefit the remainder! By the
king’s beard,’ said the king to Nadân, ‘tell me, do I stand for nothing
in my own capital? Are a parcel of poor dogs of infidels to be ruined
under my nose, without my being asked a question whether it be my will
or not that they should be so? Speak, man; what dream have you been
dreaming? Your brain has dried up.’ Then raising his voice, he said,
‘After all, we are something in our dominions, and the kâfirs, though
such they be, shall know it. Here, ferashes’ (calling his officers to
him), ‘here, tear this wretch’s turban from his head and his cloak from
his back; pluck the beard from his chin; tie his hands behind him, place
him on an ass with his face to the tail, parade him through the streets,
and then thrust him neck and shoulders out of the city, and let his
hopeful disciple (pointing to me) accompany him.’

Happy was I not to have been recognized for the lover of the unfortunate
Zeenab. My fate was paradise compared to that of my master; for never
was order more completely executed than that which had passed the Shah’s

Nadân’s beard was ripped from his chin with as much ease by the ferashes
as if they were plucking a fowl; and then, with abundance of blows to
hasten our steps, they seized upon the first ass which they met, and
mounted the priest, the once proud and ambitious priest, upon it, and
paced him slowly through the streets. I walked mournfully behind, having
had my mollah’s shawl torn from my head, and my _hirkeh_ (cloak) from my

When we had reached one of the gates Nadân was dismounted, and with
scarcely a rag to our backs, we were turned out into the open country;
and it is worthy of remark, that no sooner had we left the city than
rain began to pour in torrents, as if the heavens had been waiting to
witness the disgrace of two of Persia’s greatest rogues, and to give
the mollah Nadân the lie in favour of the poor, injured, and ruined

[Illustration: Drowning of the mollah bashi. 31.jpg]


Hajji Baba meets with an extraordinary adventure in the bath, which
miraculously saves him from the horrors of despair.

‘So,’ said I to my companion, as soon as we were left to ourselves, ‘so
I am indebted to you for this piece of happiness. If I had thought
that this adventure was to have been the result of the mûshtehed’s
recommendation, you would never have seen Hajji Baba in this trim.
What could it signify to you whether rain fell or no, or whether the
Armenians got drunk or remained sober? This is what we have got by your

The mollah was in too pitiable a condition for me to continue upbraiding
him any longer. We walked in silence by the side of each other in the
saddest manner possible, until we reached the first village on our road.
Here we made a halt, in order to deliberate upon what we should do. My
unfortunate companion was expelled the city, therefore it was impossible
for him to show himself in it until the storm had blown over; but as
we were both very anxious to know what had become of our respective
properties--he of his house and effects, I of my clothes, my money, and
mule,--it was determined that I should return and gain the necessary

I entered Tehran in the evening, and, making myself as little
recognizable as possible, I slunk through the streets to the mollah’s
house. At the first glimpse I discovered that we were entirely ruined;
for it was in possession of a swarm of harpies who made free property of
everything that fell under their hands. One of the first persons whom I
met coming from it was the very ferash who had been sent by the Shah to
conduct us to his presence; and he was mounted on my mule, with a bundle
in his lap before him, doubtless containing my wardrobe, or that of the

So borne down was I by this sight, and so fearful of being discovered,
that I hurried away from the spot; and, scarcely knowing whither I was
bending my steps, I strolled into a bath, situated not far from the
house of our enemy the chief priest. I went in, undressed myself, and it
being almost dark, I was scarcely perceived by the bathing attendants.
Going from the first heated room into the hottest of all, I there took
my station in a dark recess, unseen by any one, and gave free course to
my thoughts. I considered to what I could now possibly turn my hands for
a livelihood: for fortune seemed to have abandoned me for ever, and it
appeared that I was marked out for the stricken deer, as the choice game
of misfortune.

‘I no sooner fall in love,’ said I, musing, ‘than the king himself
becomes my rival, slays my mistress, and degrades me from my employment.
I am the lawful heir to a man of undoubted wealth: he lives just long
enough to acknowledge me; and although everybody tells me that I ought
to be rich, yet I have the mortification to see myself cheated before
my face, and I turn out a greater beggar than ever. The most devout and
powerful man of the law in Persia takes a fancy to me, and secures to
me what I expect will be a happy retreat for life: my master in an evil
hour prays for the blessings of heaven to be poured upon us, instead of
which we are visited with its vengeance, driven as exiles from the
city, and lose all our property.’ Never did man count up such a sum
of miseries as I did when seated in the corner of the bath. The world
seemed for ever gone from me, and I wished for nothing better than to
die in the very spot in which I had nestled myself.

The bath had now been almost entirely abandoned by the bathers, when of
a sudden a stir ensued, and I perceived a man walk in, with a certain
degree of parade, whom, through the glimmering of light that was still
left, I recognized to be the mollah bashi in person. Neither he nor his
attendants perceived me; and as soon as he was left to himself (for so
he thought) he immediately got into the reservoir of hot water, or the
_hazneh_ (the treasury), as it is called in the baths of Persia.

Here I heard him for some time splashing about and puffing with all his
might; a sort of playfulness which struck me as remarkable for so grave
and sedate a character; and then a most unusual floundering, attended
with a gurgling of the throat, struck my ear.

I conceived that he might be practising some extraordinary bodily
exercise, and curiosity impelled me to rise gently from my corner, and
with all the precaution possible, to steal softly on the tips of my toes
to the aperture of the reservoir, and look in.

To my horror, I perceived the head of the law at his last gasp,
apparently without a struggle left in him. It was evident that he had
been seized with a fit, and had been drowned before he could call for

All the terrible consequences of this unfortunate event stared me full
in the face. ‘What can now hinder me,’ said I, ‘from being taken up as
his murderer? Everybody knew how ill-disposed against him was my master,
the mollah Nadân, and I shall be called the vile instrument of his

Whilst making these reflections, standing upon the step that leads
into the reservoir, the mollah bashi’s servant, followed by a bathing
attendant, came in, with the warm linen that is used on leaving the
bath; and seeing a man apparently coming out of the water, naturally
took me for the deceased, and without any words proceeded to rub me down
and to put on the bathing linen. This gave me time for thought; and as I
foresaw an adventure that might perhaps lead me safely out of the scrape
into which my destiny had thrown me, I let it take its course, and at
once resolved to personify the chief priest.

A dim lamp, suspended from on high, was the only light that shone in the
large vault of the dressing-room; and as I happened to be about the size
and stature of the deceased, his servants, who were without suspicion,
very naturally took me for their master. I had known and seen a great
deal of him during my stay with the Mollah Nadân, and, therefore, was
sufficiently acquainted with the manners of the man to be able to
copy him for the short time it would take to be attended upon by his
servants, until we reached his house. The most difficult part of the
imposture would be, when I should enter the women’s apartments; for I
was quite unacquainted with the locality there, and totally ignorant of
the sort of footing he was upon with the inmates of his anderûn. Indeed,
I once heard that he was a perfect tyrant over the fairer part of the
creation; and as much gossip was carried on at my master’s, it came to
my recollection, that it had been said he waged a continual war with his
lawful wife, for certain causes of jealousy which his conduct was said
to promote. He was a man of few words, and when he spoke generally
expressed himself in short broken sentences; and as he affected to use
words of Arabic origin on all occasions, more gutteral sounds obtruded
themselves upon the ear than are generally heard from those who talk
pure Persian.

I did not permit myself to open my lips during the whole time that I
was dressing. I kept my face in shade as much as possible; and when the
waterpipe was offered to me, I smoked it in the manner that I had seen
the chief priest do; that is, taking two or three long whiffs, and then
disgorging a seemingly interminable stream of smoke.

One of the servants appeared to be struck by something unusual, as I
pronounced my _Khoda hafiz!_ to the owner of the bath upon leaving it;
but all suspicion was at an end when they felt the weight which I gave
myself, as they helped me to mount the horse that was in waiting.

I deliberately dismounted at the gate of the house of the deceased; and
although I bungled about the passages, yet, following the man who seemed
to act as the confidential servant, I came to the little door which
leads into the anderûn. I permitted him to do what he no doubt was daily
accustomed to do, and just as he had opened the door, and I had advanced
two or three paces, he shouted out, ‘_Cheragh biar_, bring lights,’ and
then retired.

A clatter of slippers and women’s voices was then immediately heard,
and two young slaves came running towards me with tapers in their hands,
apparently striving who should first reach me.

The largest apartment of the building was lighted up, and I could
perceive in it more women than one. That I took to be the residence of
the principal personage, the now widow of the deceased; and I dreaded
lest the slaves should conduct me thither. But, aided by my good stars,
I must have fallen upon a most propitious moment, when the mollah bashi
and his wife had quarrelled; an event which seemed to be understood
by my conductors, who, seeing me unwilling to proceed to the lighted
apartment, drew me on to a door which led into a small inner court,
where I found a khelwet, or retiring room, into which they introduced
me. How to get rid of them was my next care; for as they had walked
before me, they could not have got a sight of my face, and had they
entered the room with me, perhaps they would have made a discovery fatal
to my safety. I took the light from the hand of one, and dismissed the
other, with a sign of the head. Had I been the same inconsiderate youth
as at the time of my acquaintance with Zeenab, perhaps I should have
committed some act of imprudence that might have led to my discovery;
but now I eyed the two young slaves with apprehension and even with
terror; and certainly one of the most agreeable moments of my existence
was, when I saw them turn their backs upon me and leave me to my own
meditations. The change in my fortune, which had taken place during
the last hour, was so unexpected, that I felt like one treading between
heaven and earth; and my first impulse, upon finding myself in safety,
after having got over the most difficult part of the imposture, was
at one moment to exult and be joyful, and at another to shiver with
apprehension lest my good fortune might abandon me.

[Illustration: Hajji in the mollah bashi’s house. 32.jpg]


Of the consequences of the adventure, which threaten danger, but end in
apparent good fortune.

I carefully fastened the inside of my door as soon as I was left to
myself, and put my candle in so remote a corner of the room, that if
any one was curious to look through the painted glass window, they could
never discover that I was not the mollah bashi.

Having done this, it then struck me that something more might be
elicited from this adventure than I had at first imagined. ‘Let me
inspect the good man’s pockets,’ said I, ‘and the roll of paper in his
girdle; perhaps they may contain the history of my future plans.’ In his
right-hand pocket were two notes, a rosary, and his seals. In the left
his ink-stand, a small looking-glass, and a comb. His watch was kept in
the breast of his coat, and in another small pocket, nearly under his
arm-pit, was his purse.

The purse first came under inspection, and there I found five tomauns
in gold and two pieces of silver. The watch was gold, and of English
manufacture. His inkstand, beautifully painted, was also valuable,
and contained a penknife, scissors, and pens. All these and the other
trinkets I duly looked upon as my own (for I was determined to play the
whole game), and I replaced them in their proper places on my person.
The notes then came under inspection. One was to this purpose, without a

‘O friend! my intimate! my brother!’ (‘O,’ said I, ‘this is from an
equal!’) ‘You know the affection that the friend who addresses you
entertains for that bright star of the age, the shadow of our blessed
Prophet, and his only wish is, that their intimacy should daily increase
and strengthen. He sends him six choice Ispahan melons, such as are not
to be found every day, and requests him, as he values his beard, to give
him an unlimited permission to drink wine; for the doctors assure him
if he does not take it in abundance, he will not have long to be the
scourge and extirpator of the enemies of the true faith.’

‘This can only be from the chief executioner,’ said I immediately.
‘Who else in Persia could express in such few words his own character,
namely, flatterer, drunkard, and braggart? I will make something of
this; but let me look at the other note. I opened it, and read as

‘O my lord and master, ‘The humble inferior who presumes to address the
prop of the true faith, the terror of infidels, and the refuge of the
sinner, begs leave to lay before him, that after having encountered a
thousand difficulties, he has at length succeeded in getting from the
peasantry of his villages one hundred tomauns in ready money, besides
the fifty _kherwars_, or ass loads of grain: that the man, Hossein Ali,
could or would not pay anything, although he had bastinadoed him twice,
and he had in consequence taken possession of his two cows: that he
would go on beating and exerting himself to the best of his abilities;
and if some one was sent for the money which he had now in hand, he
would deliver it over upon receiving a proper order.’

The note then finished with the usual form of words from an inferior to
his master, and was sealed with a small seal, upon which was impressed
Abdul Kerim, the name of the writer.

‘Ah,’ said I, ‘may my lucky stars still protect me, and I will discover
who this Abdul Kerim is, and where the village from whence he writes,
and then the hundred tomauns become mine. However, I let that matter
rest for the moment, to think of the good account to which I might turn
the note from the chief executioner. After due reflection I wrote as

‘O my friend! my soul! ‘The note of that friend without compare has been
received, and its contents understood. When the sacred standard of Islâm
runs the risk of losing that lion of lions, that double-bladed sword,
that tower of strength, when he may be saved and preserved, who can
doubt what is to be done? Drink, O friend, drink wine, and copiously
too; and let the enemies of all true believers tremble. May thy house
prosper, for the melons; but add one more favour to the many already
conferred; lend thy friend a horse, duly caparisoned, for he has
pressing business on hand, and he will return it safe and sound, as soon
as the star of his destiny shall direct him home again.’

This I impressed with the seal of the deceased, and determined to
present it myself very early in the morning.

To the other note I wrote the following answer:

‘To the well-beloved Abdul Kerim. ‘We have received your note, and
have understood its contents. This will be delivered to you by our
confidential Hajji Baba Beg, to whom you will deliver whatever money you
have in hand for us. On other subjects you will hear from us soon; but
in the meanwhile go on with the bastinado, and we pray Allah to take you
into his holy keeping.’

Having duly accomplished this, I waited for a proper hour to make my
escape from a place where I was in momentary danger of a discovery,
which perhaps might bring me to an ignominious end. It was past
midnight, and I was preparing to issue in great secrecy from my room,
when the door was gently pressed as if some one wanted admittance. My
fright may better be imagined than described. I expected to see, at
least, the _daroga_ (police magistrate) and all his officers rush in and
seize me; and I waited in agony for the result of the intrusion, when
I heard the sound of a female voice whispering words which my agitation
prevented my understanding. Whatever might have been the object of
the visit, I had but one answer to give, and that was a loud and heavy
snore, which sufficiently proclaimed that the occupant of the apartment
was in no humour to be disturbed.

I waited for some time until I thought that everything was hushed
throughout the mansion, then made my way quietly to the principal
entrance, which having easily opened, I fled as if pursued. I watched
the best opportunities to steal along the streets without meeting the
police, and without being discovered by the sentinels on duty. The day
at length dawned, and the bazaars, little by little, began to open.
Dressed as I was in the mollah bashi’s clothes, my first care was
to make such alterations in them that they should not hold me up to
suspicion, and this I did for a trifling expense at an old clothes’
shop, although, at the same time, I took care not to part with any of
the valuable articles which had fallen into my possession.

I then proceeded to the house of the chief executioner, where I
presented my note to a servant, an utter stranger to me, saying, that
the mollah bashi requested an immediate answer, as he was about going
from the city on important business.

To my delight, I was informed that the great personage was in his
anderûn, and that he must for the present delay sending a written
answer; but that in the meanwhile he had ordered one of his horses to be
delivered to me.

O how I eyed the beast as I saw him led out of the stable, with the
gold-pommelled and velvet-seated saddle, with the gold chain dangling
over his head, and the bridle inlaid with enamelled knobs. I almost
dreaded to think that all this was about to become my property, and that
such luck could not last long. So strong was this apprehension that
I was about asking for trappings less gaudy and more serviceable; but
again, I thought that any delay might be my ruin; so without mincing the
matter I mounted him, and in a very short time had passed the gates of
the city, and was far advanced into the country.

I rode on, without stopping or once looking behind, until I had got
among some of the broken ground produced by the large and undefined bed
of the river Caraj, and there I made a halt. I recollected to have heard
that the village of the mollah bashi lay somewhere in the direction of
Hamadan, and consequently I directed my course thither. But, to say the
truth, when pausing to breathe, I was so alarmed at the extraordinary
turn which my fortunes had taken, that, like one dizzy on the brink of
a precipice, invaded by a sort of impulse to precipitate himself, it
was with some difficulty that I could persuade myself not to return and
deliver up my person to justice. ‘I am,’ said I, ‘nothing more nor less
than a thief, and, if caught, should duly be blown from the mouth of
a mortar. But then, on the other hand, who made me so? Surely, if
_takdeer_ (destiny) will work such wonderful effects, it can be no fault
of mine. I sought not the death of the mollah bashi; but if he chooses
to come and breathe his last in my lap, and if, whether I will or no,
I am to be taken for him, then it is plain that fate has made me his
vakeel, his representative; and whatever I do so long as I remain in
that character is lawful--then his clothes are my clothes, his hundred
tomauns are my hundred tomauns, and whatever I have written in his name
is lawfully written.’

Revived by these conclusions, I again mounted and proceeded to the
nearest village, to inquire where the property of the chief priest was
situated, and if a person of the name of Abdul Kerim was known in the
neighbourhood. As if the dice were determined to keep turning up in my
favour, I found that the very next village, about one parasang distant,
was the one in question, and Abdul Kerim a priest of that name who
superintended the interests and collected the revenues of his deceased
master. ‘Ho,’ said I, ‘a priest! I must change the tone of the letter
and insert his proper titles.’ I immediately sat clown on the ground,
taking the inkstand from my pocket, and cutting off a slip of paper from
the roll in my girdle I framed my note anew, and then proceeded on my
errand, determined, if I obtained possession of the hundred tomauns, to
take the shortest road to the nearest Persian frontier.

[Illustration: Hajji leaves the village hurriedly after collecting the
money. 33.jpg]


Hajji Baba does not shine in honesty--The life and adventures of the
mollah Nadân

I put on an air of consequence suited to the fine horse which I bestrode
as soon as I reached Seidabad (for that was the name of the village),
and rode through its gates with such a look of authority that the
peasants who saw me did not fail to make very low inclinations of the

‘Where is Abdul Kerim?’ said I, as I dismounted, and gave my horse to
one of the bystanders.

In a moment every one was in motion to find him, and he very soon

‘I am come,’ said I (after the usual salutations), ‘on the part of the
chief priest, upon certain business well known to you’; and straight I
delivered him my note.

Abdul Kerim had a piercing eye, which did not at all suit me,
particularly as he kept conning me over through a corner of it; but
I was relieved as soon as he had read the note to hear him say, ‘_Be
cheshm!_ By my eyes! the money is ready. But you must refresh yourself.
In the name of God, come in.

I pretended great hurry, not at all liking to remain under the fire of
his sharp eyes; but by way of not exciting suspicion, I consented to eat
some fruit and sour milk.

‘I do not remember to have seen you at the chief priest’s,’ said he to
me, as I was opening wide my mouth to swallow a piece of melon; ‘and yet
I am acquainted with every one of his servants perfectly.’

‘No,’ said I, half choked at the question, ‘no, I do not belong to
him. I am an attendant upon the chief executioner, with whom the mollah
bashi, I believe, has some money transactions.’

This seemed to settle every difficulty which I saw had been rising in
the mind of my entertainer; and thus the fine horse, the gold-pommelled
saddle, and the brilliant bridle, were at once accounted for.

Having received the one hundred tomauns, I safely deposited them in my
breast; and then, apparently taking the road back to the city, I left
the village with a heart much lighter than I had brought. But as soon
as I was fairly out of sight I turned my horse’s bridle in the contrary
direction, and clapping the stirrups into his flanks galloped on without
stopping, until the foam fairly ran down his sides.

I determined to proceed direct to Kermanshah, there sell horse, saddle,
and bridle, and then make my way to Bagdad, where I should be safe from
all danger of molestation.

Having proceeded some five parasangs on my road I saw a strange figure
walking before me at a good pace, singing with all his throat. He was
lightly dressed, having only a skull-cap on his head, his face bound
round with a piece of linen, a pair of slippers on his feet, and nothing
to indicate that he was a wayfaring man. As I drew near I thought that
I had seen his form before; he was tall and well-shaped, with broad
shoulders, and a narrow waist. I should immediately have taken him for
the mollah Nadân but for his singing; for it never struck me as possible
that one of his grave character and manners could ever lower himself by
so ignoble an act. But little by little I saw so much of him, although
he had not yet discovered me, that I could not be mistaken; it was the
mollah himself.

I stopped my horse to deliberate whether I should notice or make
myself known to him. To pass him would be the height of cruelty, but
to recognize him would of necessity burden me with an inconvenient
companion. But then, should he discern who I was, and find that I had
shunned him, he would very probably denounce me as a thief on the very
first occasion; and if I escaped him now I should have the fear ever
after of knowing him to be my enemy.

We were both approaching a village where we must pass the night,
therefore there was no retreating on my part; for it was necessary to
see that proper care was taken of my horse, considering the long journey
it had to travel, and to push him on farther was impossible.

I took a middle line. Should he recognize me I would speak to him; if
not, I would pass him unheeded. I urged my horse on, and as I approached
he turned round and surveyed me from head to foot, but apparently
without making me out.

‘O Aga, for pity’s sake,’ exclaimed he, ‘have compassion on an
unfortunate man, who has no other refuge in this world than God and

I could not resist such an appeal to my feelings, and, keeping silence
for some little while by way of hearing what more he would say, I at
length burst into an immoderate fit of laughter. My laughter seemed to
be as much out of season as his singing, for he was extremely puzzled
what to make of me: but when I began to speak, all doubts were removed,
and he ran up to me with a sort of joy and ecstasy that bordered upon

‘Ay, Hajji; my soul, my uncle, light of my eyes!’ said he, as he kissed
my knee. ‘From what heaven have you dropped? What means this finery,
this horse, this gold, these trappings? Do you deal with the Gins and
the Dives or has fortune fallen in love, and adopted you its heir?’

I continued laughing, so amused was I at these sallies, and he went on,
saying: ‘How comes it that you have so soon turned your mule into this
fine horse? And my property, what is become of it? Have you not even
saved my ass, for I am sorely tired of going on foot? Tell me, tell me
all: by the beard of the Prophet, tell me all.’

I soon found that had I refused to give him a full account of my
adventures, he would suspect me of having got possession of his
property, and turned it into the finery which had just drawn forth
his admiration; so I promised faithfully to relate everything, but I
entreated him at the same time to prepare a large quantity of credulity,
for what I had to say was so marvellous that he would very probably
conceive it was my intention to impose upon him.

We then proceeded to the village, where we took up our quarters at the
_mehman khaneh_, or strangers’ house, a convenience generally to be
found in every hamlet throughout Persia, and there established ourselves
for the night.

A person of my appearance could not long remain unnoticed, and I was
duly waited upon by the ked khoda, who supplied us with a good supper;
and during the time required for its preparation I related my adventures
to my companion. Their singularity was in no manner thrown away upon
him; and he seemed to die away with delight when he found that all my
present prosperity was at the cost of his old enemy the mollah bashi. As
we sat communicating to each other in the full confidence of our hearts
(for the miserable are ever greatly relieved by talking of themselves),
I discovered that never before had I acquired an insight into the real
character of my associate.

‘There must have been an assumed importance in you,’ said I to him,
‘as long as I was in your service; for how could one really proud be so
amiable as you appear now?’

‘Ah, Hajji!’ said he, ‘adversity is a great alterative. My life has been
one eternal up and down. I have often compared it to those whirligigs
set up by louts in our market-places on the No Rouz, which keep one
dangling between heaven and earth. Unfortunately, I am one of those who
has never adopted the maxim of “spread not your carpet in a wet place.”’

‘Tell me,’ said I, ‘the history of your adventures. We cannot better
pass our time, and I hope that you know me well enough now not to refuse
me your confidence.’

‘You will hear nothing in my history but what is common to many
Persians, who one day are princes and the next beggars; but since you
are curious to know, I will relate it with pleasure’; and he began in
the following words:--

‘I am a native of Hamadan. My father was a mollah of such eminence
that he was ambitious of becoming the mûshtehed of Persia; but his
controversies upon particular points of faith unfortunately carried him
so far that a party was created against him, which deprived him of the
elevation he sought. His most prominent quality was the hatred he bore
to the Osmanlies, and to Sûnis in general. One of our ancestors is said
to have first introduced into Persia a more universal hatred against
them than ever before existed, by a simple innovation in the education
of the Shiah children, by which means their very first ideas were
trained to be inimical to the race of Omar. I mean,’ said the mollah,
‘that which you no doubt very well remember: when a little boy in
schooltime is pressed upon certain occasions to ask his master’s leave
to retire, the form of words in which he is enjoined to make his request
is “_Lahnet beh Omar!_ curse be upon Omar!” I dare say you have through
life, as I have, never omitted to unite the name of Omar with everything
that is unclean, and at least once a day to repeat the curse which you
were taught at school.’

I fully assented to this, and then he proceeded with his story.

‘My father’s hatred for the sectaries of Omar extended itself to all
sorts of infidels. Jews, Christians, fire-worshippers, and worshippers
of images, all came within the scope of his execration; and what at
first he had practised from motives of ambition, at length became the
ruling principle of his nature. His family, and I among the number, were
brought up in his tenets, and imbibed all his violent prejudices; and so
much did we hang together by them that we formed as it were a distinct
sect,--the terror of infidels, and the most zealous upholders of the
Shiah faith.

‘After this you will not be surprised at the part I lately took in the
destruction of the Armenian wine-jars at Tehran. But that is not the
only scrape my zeal has led me into. Very early in life, when still a
student at Hamadan, I was involved in a terrible disturbance, of which I
was the principal promoter.

‘An ambassador from the Pasha of Bagdad, with his suite, was quietly
taking his road through our city, having sojourned there two or three
days on his way to the court of the Shah, when burning to put into
practice my father’s lessons, I collected a band of young fanatics like
myself, and, making them an appropriate address, I so excited their
passions that we resolved to perform some feat worthy of our principles.
We determined to attack our Turkish guests, inform them of the curses
we denounced against Omar, and invite them to become adherents to the
doctrine of Ali. Heedless, and, perhaps, ignorant of what is due to the
character of _elchi_, or ambassador, we only saw in Suleiman Effendi an
enemy to the Shiahs, and one calling himself a Sûni. One day, as he
was setting forth from his house to visit the governor of Hamadan, we
gathered ourselves into a body and greeted him by loud cries of “Curses
be upon Omar!” This enraged his domestics, who retorted the insult
by blows. Showers of stones ensued from our party, and this led to a
general fray, in which the Pasha’s representative had his turban knocked
from his head, his beard spit upon, and his clothes nearly torn from his

‘Such an outrage of course could not be overlooked. The ambassador was
furious; he threatened to send off couriers to the Shah, and was even on
the point of returning to his own master when the governor, frightened
at the consequences if his wrath was not appeased, promised that
he should have all satisfaction, and that the ringleaders of the
disturbance should immediately be delivered up to him.

‘Trusting to my father’s consequence in the city, and full of vapouring
pride at what we had achieved, I at first made light of the vows of
vengeance which the Turks breathed against us; but the governor, who
only contemplated the loss of his place if the news of this event
reached Tehran; and caring little whether Ali was the true successor to
the Prophet, or whether Osman, Omar, and Abubekr were usurpers or
not, he at once ordered me to be seized, as well as two others of my
companions, and forthwith we were placed at the disposal of the enraged

‘I shall never forget the contending emotions of my mind when brought
face to face before these objects of my hatred. I did not at all relish
the sound beating which they had it in contemplation to inflict upon
me; and, at the same time, I groaned under the necessity of keeping to
myself that stream of abuse which was ready to flow against them upon
the smallest provocation.

‘They seemed, however, quite ready to return all our hatred with
interest, and did not lose this opportunity of letting us know its full
extent. They were not generous enough to let us off, but ordered the
administration of the bastinado with a degree of religious zest that
I thought could never have existed in any breast except my own. To be
short, our feet were beat into a jelly, and our only consolation during
the operation was the opportunity afforded us of giving vent to our
pent-up rage. The Turk, however, was revenged, and we were set free.

‘This adventure cooled my zeal for many years; although, in the pursuit
of the distinctions which my father sought, I continued to addict myself
to controversy. When about twenty-five years old, and my beard had
acquired a respectable consistency, I went to Ispahan in order to
improve myself by associating with our celebrated doctors, and to
make my own abilities known by the part which I might take in their
disputations. I succeeded to the utmost of my wishes, and acquired
considerable reputation. I only wanted an opportunity of distinguishing
myself, and that was soon afforded me by the following circumstance.

‘In the time of our famous Shah Seffi; who was himself half a heretic,
the Franks (a sect of the Christians) had considerable establishments
at Ispahan for the purposes of commerce, and were much patronized
and encouraged by him. He allowed them free exercise of their
religion,--permitted them to build churches, to import priests, and,
to the scandal of the true faith, even allowed them the use of bells to
call them to prayer. These Franks have a supreme head of their church--a
sort of caliph, whom they call _Papa_--part of whose duty, like that
of our own blessed Prophet, is to propagate his religion throughout
the world. Under different pretexts, convents of his dervishes were
established, some in Ispahan itself, and some in Julfa among the
Armenians. Most of these have been abandoned, and the buildings fallen
into decay; but one whose object more particularly was the propagation
of the Christian faith still existed, and to its destruction my
endeavours and those of some of our most zealous mollahs were directed,
notwithstanding the opposite views of the government, who are anxious to
encourage the Christians to settle in Persia, owing to the riches which
they introduce by their trade.

‘This convent was served by two dervishes, one of whom was in himself a
calamity!--one who understood the world,--a man of deep design,--and of
a wit so sharp that the shaitan in person was not fit to be his father.
He was tall, thin, and strong. His eyes were like live charcoal, and his
voice like a high wind. He never lost an opportunity of entering into
argument with our most learned men upon points of religion, and would
boldly assert, with the heart of a lion, that our holy Prophet, “the
chief of created beings, the sealed intercessor, Mohammed Mustapha”,
(upon whom be eternal blessings!) was a cheat and an impostor. In short,
he embarked in the sea of controversy, as if he had Noah for a pilot;
and, not content with words, he even wrote a book, in which he pretended
to prove the truth of his mad assertions. This book was unfortunately
attempted to be answered by one of our divines, who did not recollect
that it is folly to play with fire, unless there be plenty of water at
hand to extinguish it. His book said anything but what it ought, and
tended more to throw ridicule upon Islamism than to uphold its glory and
perfection. Ispahan was full of this subject when I arrived there; and,
being anxious to bring myself forwards, I proposed that an invitation
should be made to the Frank dervish to meet the mollahs of the city in
person, on an appointed day, in the Medresseh Jedeed, when they would
argue every point of their respective faiths, and when they would either
make the dervish turn Mohammedan, by producing conviction in his mind,
or they would become Christians, if his arguments prevailed. To this he
immediately assented; but we determined beforehand, amongst ourselves,
that such a thorn in the side of our _Ullemah_ should no longer exist in
Persia, and that the overwhelming truth of our belief should not be left
to the chances of vain words and uplifted voices, but show itself in the
zeal and numbers of its adherents. Accordingly every turbaned head,
and every beard that wagged, were secretly invited to appear on the
appointed day; and never was attendance more complete,--never did the
children of Islam make such a show of their irresistible force, as they
did on that memorable occasion.

‘The Medresseh was already filled; for, besides the mollahs, a great
crowd, all anxious to witness the triumph of the true faith, had taken
possession of the courts. Head over head and turban over turban were
piled upon each other, in thick array, along the walls and in the utmost
corners of the hall, when the Frank dervish, alone, unsupported, and
unfriended, appeared before us. He looked around in dismay, and appeared
appalled by our numbers. Two or three of the principal mollahs, who were
to carry on the controversy, were seated in front of their body, and I
was close at hand. We had prepared questions which were to be proposed
to him, and according to the answers he gave so were we to act. He
appeared to be provided with no other weapon of defence save his tongue;
and he sat down opposite to us, evidently much alarmed at the hostility
which he remarked on the countenances of all present.

‘Without giving him any time for reflection, we immediately began:--

‘“Do you believe,” said one, “that the God in heaven put himself into a
human form?” “Do you,” said another, “acknowledge that God is composed
of three persons, and still is only one?” “Are you convinced,” said a
third, “that what you call the Holy Ghost came down from heaven in the
body of a dove?”

‘These questions were put so quickly that he knew not which way to
turn, until, collecting within himself all the powers of his voice, he
exclaimed, “If your intention is to kill me, be it so; but what good
will that do your argument? If your intention be to argue, attacking me
in this manner by numbers and personal violence will prove that you can
only oppose passion to argument; and show the world, that by me you have
been overcome.”

‘Seeing that we were likely to fare ill, and observing that his words
were producing an effect in his favour, I was the first to exclaim
to the surrounding mob, and to the assembly present: “O Mussulmans!
Mussulmans! come to our help,--our religion is attacked,--the infidel is
trying to subvert our faith,--vengeance! help!”

‘These words produced an immediate effect, and a thousand voices were
lifted up against him. “Seize him!” said some; “kill him!” said others.
The mob was agitated to and fro, like the waves of the sea; when the
dervish, seeing himself in danger, made an attempt to escape, which was
seconded by one of the mollahs, whose compassion was moved towards him.
He threw his own cloak over the infidel’s shoulders, and just as violent
hands were about to be laid upon him, he pushed vigorously through the
crowd, and succeeded in reaching the house of an Armenian in safety.

‘We, the mollahs, being disappointed of our prey, proceeded in a body to
the house of the governor of the city, followed by an immense crowd of
the people. A great fermentation had been excited, and we promoted it
all in our power.

‘The govemor himself was a strict and pious Mussulman, and we expected
that he would without hesitation join in the cry we had raised. We
accused the Frank dervish of preaching false doctrine, with a view to
subvert our religion.

‘“This fellow,” said we, “calls our Prophet cheat; and talks
abomination. We demand that he be delivered over to us.”

‘The governor was perplexed how to act; for he knew how dangerous it was
to interfere in matters in which the subjects of Europe were concerned;
and he was far from seconding our disposition to violence.

‘“Why invite the dervish to an argument,” said he, “if you will not hear
what he has to say? If you have no arguments to oppose to his, violence
only makes your cause worse, and you do more harm than good to our
religion. But if on the other hand your arguments are better than
his, and he can bring no answer to them, then indeed he is a kafir, an
infidel; and according to our law is worthy of death.”

‘Finding ourselves balked again, we departed breathing vengeance; and
I verily believe, had we met the dervish at that moment, he would have
been tom into a thousand pieces. He was so well aware of this, we soon
heard that he had left the city in secret; and so far our endeavours
were successful, for it was long before he ventured again to show

‘I had put myself so much forward on this occasion, and had shown my
zeal in so many different ways, that I had become a prominent character.
But hitherto I had got nothing by it. The capital I felt, after all,
was the place where I ought to endeavour to gain some permanent and
lucrative situation; and to that I turned my views. To gain this end,
I took myself to Kom, with a view of ingratiating myself with the
mûshtehed, whose recommendation I knew would do me more good than
ten years of prayer and fasting. I succeeded perfectly; for with
the character I had acquired of being the scourge of infidels, I was
received by him with great favour, and he was delighted to acknowledge
me for one of his most diligent disciples. I soon took up his cause
against the Sûfies with all the ardour that he could wish; and it was
not long before I ventured to solicit his recommendation to the body of
the Ullemah at Tehran, and to the principal men in office at court. He
professed to be sorry to part with me, but acceded to my request; and I
was soon after counted one of the holy fraternity at the seat of empire.

‘I confess to you, although I enjoy as good an opinion of myself as most
men, that I was much less successful in making my way at court than I
had expected. My competitors for advancement were numerous, and more
versed in the ways of the world than I. Like them, I was obliged to
begin by paying a most assiduous attention to men in office. Having once
gained the privilege of being seated in the _mejlis_ (assembly) of the
head of the law, who was in fact my chief, I little by little became
noticed by the grand vizier, the lord high treasurer, the secretary of
state, the chief executioner, and others. I was constantly to be seen
at their uprisings, and at their evening meetings; but after all, I
was nothing but a poor mollah, and I longed for some opportunity of
distinguishing myself from the common herd. The prime vizier first
noticed me owing to my once having succeeded in making him shed tears,
at the commemoration of the death of the blessed Hossein, which he held
at his house, and where I preached and chanted the service in a manner
that drew forth his approbation, and that of all the assembly. Since
then I have made great progress, particularly in the eyes of the people,
whose good opinion I look upon as the first of acquisitions to an
ambitious man.

‘But you have had an opportunity of judging how little their assistance
is to be depended upon, when opposed to the will of an absolute king.
Trusting too much to my influence over them, I have lost myself; and I
am now what you see, a miserable wanderer, returning to my native city,
as penniless as when I first left it.’


Hajji and the mollah make plans suited to their critical situation,
showing that no confidence can exist between rogues.

The mollah Nadân having finished his narrative, I endeavoured to
persuade him that the same destiny which had presided over his success
in life, and afterwards over his misfortunes, would no doubt serve him
again, and restore him to his lost situation: ‘for,’ said I, ‘we both
of us have seen enough of life in Persia to have ascertained its extreme
instability. When events depend upon the will of one man, he may with as
much consistency order you back from exile, as he did the plucking your
beard and the thrusting you forth from the city. There is a reaction in
misfortune which frequently produces increased prosperity. Thus when the
smith sprinkles water upon his burning charcoal, it is extinguished
for a moment, and smoke takes the place of flame; but again, at the
slightest blast of his bellows, the fire breaks out with redoubled

‘That is precisely the thought with which I was consoling myself,’ said
my companion, ‘and which set me singing, when you overtook me on the
road. The Shah most probably thought it necessary to make an exhibition
of justice, by way of ingratiating himself with the Christian merchants;
but the day will come when he will feel the necessity of making friends
of the upholders of the Mohamedan religion, and then the good opinion of
such a man as I, who am beloved by my people, will be of consequence to
him. I had some thoughts, I confess, of relinquishing priestcraft, and
becoming a merchant; but, all things considered, I shall continue to
follow my original destiny. I have now an opportunity of setting up for
a martyr, and _that_, now I recollect it, is worth more than the loss
of my worldly goods, my house, my furniture, my white ass, and even my

‘Then what do you propose doing?’ said I. ‘Will you accompany me to
Bagdad, or will you wait the tide of events in Persia?’

‘My plan,’ said he, ‘is to proceed to my native place, Hamadan, where my
father, who is still alive, enjoys considerable reputation: through his
means I will set negotiations on foot for my readmission to the capital,
and ultimately for my restoration to the situations of which I have been
deprived. But you,--what road do you intend to pursue? When, inshallah,
please God, I am restored, I shall require your talents to make my mûti
establishment prosper. You had better remain at Hamadan with me, and
follow my fortunes.’

‘Ah, my friend,’ said I, ‘with all my present apparent prosperity, I am
more of an exile than you. Events have played wickedly into my lap, and
here am I (God knows how unwillingly) an avowed thief. I could not do
otherwise than follow my destiny, which has clothed me with the garments
of the chief priest, enriched me with his money, and mounted me upon the
finely caparisoned steed of the executioner in chief. That same destiny
compels me to fly my country: I cannot remain in it to run the chance of
being discovered and cut into quarters, to grace the gates of the city.
No, before many days are expired, I hope to have reached the Turkish
frontier, and then only shall I call myself in safety.’

Upon this I made him an offer of part of my acquired spoils, by which I
hoped to secure his secrecy, and happy was I to find him nothing loth.
He accepted of ten tomauns (leaving me ninety-five in hand), which he
said would be enough for present purposes, and which he promised to
repay whenever his fortunes should be reestablished. But upon taking
them from me, he again urged me to proceed with him to Hamadan. He
represented in the strongest colours the danger I ran of being seized
before I could escape from the Shah’s territories, and even when I
should have quitted them. ‘For,’ said he, ‘the moment the death of the
mollah bashi is known, and as soon as the chief executioner shall have
discovered the loss of his horse, he will not fail to dispatch officers
throughout the country in search of you, and you are too conspicuous a
character now not to be easily traced. It will be much better for you to
take refuge with me, who will not fail to avert any inquiries, until the
event has blown over, when you will be at liberty to follow your plans
in safety. My father owns a village at some distance from Hamadan, where
you can live unsuspected; and as for your horse and trappings, we
may dispose of them in such a manner that they cannot lead to your
discovery. Hamadan is not very far distant. If you depart hence at
midnight, we shall reach it early to-morrow; and this we can easily do
by making your horse carry us both. Consider that the journey is long to
the Turkish frontier; and should the beast fail you, what is to hinder
your being taken?’

His words gave a new turn to my thoughts, and I saw that he spoke the
language of reason. Totally ignorant of this part of Persia, and feeling
how necessary it was for my safety not only to be acquainted with the
high roads, but also with the unfrequented paths, I looked upon a rapid
flight to the frontier as an undertaking not so easily performed as
imagined. If the mollah was inclined to betray me, he would as easily
do so whether I fled or whether I adopted his plan; and of the two, it
appeared to me a safer line of conduct to confide in than to distrust
him: and accordingly I agreed to accompany him.

Refreshed both by food and rest, we departed at midnight, and made
great progress on the road to Hamadan ere the sun rose. Having reached a
rising ground which gave us a view of the city, we made a halt, in order
to decide upon our present operations. Nadân pointed with his hand to
a village about a parasang distant, and said, ‘That is the village in
which you must take up your quarters, until the story of the mollah
bashi’s extraordinary death be blown over; but you cannot present
yourself in this magnificent garb, and mounted on this fine horse,
without creating suspicion. I propose that we exchange dresses, and
that, you surrender the horse up to me. By this means you will appear
in the character of a dependant of my father at his village, and I shall
keep up the respectability of mine, by returning to the paternal roof
properly equipped. This arrangement will advance our mutual as well as
our combined interests. You will be safe from suspicion, and I shall not
look the pauper that I do now. The history of my disgrace will no doubt
soon reach the ears of my family, and perhaps lower them in the eyes of
the world; but in this country, where so much depends upon the effect of
outward show, as soon as it is known that I returned to them mounted on
a horse with an enamelled bridle, a gold-pommelled saddle, and with a
Cashmerian shawl round my waist, they as well as I will be restored to
our proper places again. After I have enjoyed the advantage of these
things a few days, it will be easy to sell them under some plausible
pretext, and then you shall duly receive their amount.’

I was rather startled by this proposal, for certainly my companion had
not inspired me with sufficient confidence to encourage me trusting him
with so much property without any other security than his word. But
I felt the truth of all he said. It was impossible for me to keep my
incognito at the village for ten days or a fortnight dressed as I was,
and the possessor of a fine horse, without creating suspicion. I was
now, ’tis true, completely in the power of the mollah; but by his
proposed arrangement he would have become such an accomplice in
my guilt, that he could never denounce me without at the same time
involving himself.

‘But,’ said I, ‘suppose a nasakchi discovers the horse, what becomes of
us then? You will be seized as well as I.’

‘God is great,’ answered the mollah; ‘no one can have travelled as fast
as we, and before any officer can arrive at Hamadan I shall have reached
my father’s house, and produced all the sensation I require in the city.
It will be easy after that to secrete both the horse and his trappings.
I take all the risk upon myself.’

Nothing more after this was to be said on my part. We immediately
stripped, and made an exchange of clothes. He got from me the deceased
mollah bashi’s under garment, his caba, or coat, his Cashmerian girdle,
and his outward cloak, made of a dark green broad cloth; and I, in
return, received his old clothes, which had been torn on his person the
day he had been thrust out of Tehran. I gave him my black cap, round
which he wound the chief priest’s head-shawl, which I had still
preserved; and, in return, he delivered over to me his skull-cap. I
preserved the mollah bashi’s purse, the remaining money, the watch and
seals; whilst I permitted him the use of the inkstand, the rosary, the
pocket looking-glass, and the comb. He then stuck the roll of paper in
his girdle; and when completely made up and mounted, he looked so much
like the deceased chief priest himself, that I quite started at the

We parted with great apparent affection: he promised that I should
hear from him immediately, and in the meanwhile gave me every necessary
information concerning his father’s village, leaving it to my own
ingenuity to make out as plausible a story for myself as I might be
able. He then rode away, leaving me with no very agreeable feelings,
on finding myself alone in the world, uncertain of the future, and
suspicious of my present fate.

I made the best of my road to the village; but was extremely puzzled in
what character to introduce myself to the inhabitants. In fact, I looked
like one dropped from the skies; for what could be possibly said for a
man, of good appearance, without a shawl to his waist, or an outer coat
to his back, with a pair of slippers to his feet, and a skull-cap on his
head? After much hesitation I determined to call myself a merchant, who
had been robbed and plundered by the Cûrds, and then sham a sickness,
which might be a pretext for remaining in the village until I could hear
from the mollah, who would no doubt furnish me with intelligence
which might enable me to determine how long I ought to remain in my

In this I succeeded perfectly. The good people of the village, whom
Heaven for my good luck had endowed with a considerable share of
dullness, believed my story, and took me in. The only inconvenience I
had to endure was the necessity of swallowing prescriptions of an old
woman, the doctor of the community, who was called to show her skill
upon me.


The punishment due to Hajji Baba falls upon Nadân, which makes the
former a staunch predestinarian.

I had passed ten long and tedious days in my hiding-place without the
smallest tidings from the mollah Nadân. I was suspicious that his star
was still glancing obliquely at him, and that matters had not gone quite
so well as he had expected. Little communication existed between the
city and the village; and I began to despair of ever again hearing of my
horse, my rich trappings and clothes, when, one evening a peasant,
who had gone to the market-place of Hamadan for the purpose of hiring
himself as a labourer in the fields, and who had returned disappointed,
by his discourse threw some light upon my apprehension.

He said that a great stir had been excited by the arrival of a nasakchi,
who had seized the son of their Aga (the owner of the village), taken
away his horse, and carried him off prisoner to the capital, under the
accusation of being the murderer of the mollah bashi of Tehran.

I leave the gentle reader to judge of my feelings upon hearing this
intelligence. I soon became satisfied of the reason of the mollah’s
silence; and although I felt myself secure for the present, yet I was
far from certain how long I might remain so. I immediately declared
that I was perfectly restored to health, and taking a hasty leave of my
hospitable villagers, made the best of my way to Hamadan, in order to
ascertain the truth of the peasant’s intelligence.

Nadân’s father was well known in the city, and I found no difficulty
in discovering where he lived. I abstained from entering his house,
and making any direct inquiries concerning the fate of my friend; but
I stopped at the shop of a barber in the neighbourhood, both because I
wanted his assistance in giving a decent appearance to my head and face,
and because I knew that he would be the most likely person to inform me
of the real state of the case.

I found him as talkative and as officious as I could wish. When I had
asked him the news of the day, and had pleaded my ignorance of the
recent occurrence that had filled everybody with astonishment, he
stepped back two paces, and exclaimed, ‘Whence do you come, that the
iniquities of that dog the mollah Nadân are unknown to you? He was not
satisfied with killing the chief priest, but he must needs dress himself
in his very clothes; and, not content with that, he also has stolen one
of the chief executioner’s best horses and furniture. Wondrous dirt has
he been eating!’

I entreated my informant to relate all the particulars of a story of
which I pretended to be totally ignorant; and without waiting for a
second request, he spoke as follows:--

‘About ten days ago this Nadân arrived at the gate of his father’s
house, mounted on a superb horse, caparisoned in a style more fitting a
khan and a man of the sword than a poor servant of God. He was dressed
in shawls of the finest quality, and looked indeed like the high priest
himself. His appearance in this fashion of dress and equipage created
an extraordinary sensation; because a very short time before it was
reported that he had incurred the Shah’s displeasure, and had been
turned out of Tehran in the most ignominious manner. He gave himself
all sorts of airs upon alighting; and when questioned concerning his
expulsion from the capital, he appeared to make very light of it, and
said that he had been made to understand, in a secret manner, that his
disgrace was only temporary; and that, by way of softening it, he had
been presented with the horse which he then rode.

‘This tale was believed by every one, and he was received at his
father’s house with great honours; but most unfortunately, the next day,
when about mounting his horse to show himself in the city, a nasakchi
passed the gate of the house, having just arrived from Tehran. He
stopped, and looked at the animal very earnestly; inspected the bridle
and gold-pommelled saddle, and then cried out, _La Allah il Allah!_
there is but one God! He inquired of the bystanders to whom the horse
belonged, and was informed that it was the property of the mollah Nadân.

‘“The Mollah Nadân!” exclaimed he in a great rage: “whose dog is he?
That horse is the property of my master, the chief executioner; and
whoever says it is not is a liar, whoever he may be, mollah or no

‘At this interval appeared the delinquent himself, who, upon seeing what
was going on, endeavoured to hide himself from the observation of the
nasakchi; for it so happened that he was one of the officers who had
paraded him through the capital on the day of his disgrace.

‘Wearing the garments and turbaned cap of the deceased chief priest,
the dangers of his situation immediately stared him in the face, and
he would have decamped on the spot, had he not been recognized by the
nasakchi, who as soon as he saw him cried out, “Seize him, take his
soul, that is he--the very man. Well done, my happy stars! By the head
of Ali, by the beard of the Prophet, that is the bankrupt rogue who
killed the chief priest and stole my master’s horse.”

‘By this time the nasakchi had dismounted, and, with the assistance of
his own attendant, and of the bystanders (who soon discovered that he
was acting under authority), he secured the mollah, who, in his defence,
made oath upon oath that he was neither thief nor murderer, and that he
was ready to swear his innocence upon the Koran.’

The barber related very faithfully the whole conversation which took
place between Nadân and the nasakchi, the result of which was that
the latter took the former with him to Tehran, notwithstanding all the
interest made in his favour by the mollah’s father and friends.

Never was breast torn by so many contending feelings as mine, upon
hearing the fate that had befallen my companion, as related to me by the
barber. In the first place, I bemoaned the loss of my horse and his rich
trappings, and of my fine shawl dresses; but in the next I enjoyed a
feeling of security when I considered, that if poor Nadân should happen
to lose his head, no account would ever be asked from me of my late
iniquities. I still could not help looking upon myself as one under
the protection of a good star, whilst the mollah, I concluded, was
inevitably doomed to be unfortunate: else why should we have exchanged
clothes, and he taken my horse from me at a time when I was in no way
inclined to accede to his proposals? But, notwithstanding there was
every likelihood that he would suffer the punishment due to me, still,
for the present, I could not feel myself secure so long as I remained in
Persia, and therefore determined to proceed upon my original intention,
and quit it without further delay. I consoled myself for the loss of
the horse and clothes, by the possession of the remaining ninety-five
tomauns, which would be sufficient for my present wants; and then those
powerful words, _Khoda buzurg est!_ God is great, stood me in lieu (as
they do many a poor wretch besides) of a provision for the future, and
of protection against all the unforeseen misfortunes preparing for us by
the hand of fate.


Hajji Baba hears an extraordinary sequel to his adventure in the bath,
and feels all the alarms of guilt.

Having equipped myself as a merchant, for I had long since determined to
abandon the character of a priest, considering how ill I had succeeded
in it, I sought out the conductor of a caravan, which was on its road
to Kermanshah, and bargained with him for the hire of a mule. He had a
spare one, that had run unloaded from Tehran, and which he let me have
for a trifle; and as I had no baggage but what I carried on my back, my
beast and I agreed very well together.

We reached our destination on the seventh day, and here I was obliged to
look out for a fresh conveyance. I was informed that none was likely to
offer under a month, because, owing to the Cûrdish robbers, who infested
the frontier, no caravan ventured on the road unless its numbers were
considerable, and it would take some time to collect them; but I was
told that a caravan of pilgrims and dead bodies had set off for Kerbelah
only the day before, and that, with a little exertion, I might easily
overtake them before they had reached the dangerous passes.

Constantly apprehensive of being discovered and detained, I did not
hesitate upon the course to adopt, and forthwith set off on foot. My
money was safely deposited in my girdle; and without any other baggage
than a good staff in my hand, I left Kermanshah, and proceeded on my

On the evening of the third day, when nearly exhausted with fatigue,
my eyes were cheered by the sight of fires at a distance, the smoke
of which curled up over the brow of a hill; and approaching them,
I discovered cattle spread over the plain grazing, and thus was not
mistaken in supposing that the caravan was nigh at hand. As I advanced
towards the baggage, which was piled up in a hollow square, and where
I knew that I should find the conductor, I observed a small white
tent, pitched at some little distance, which indicated that pilgrims of
consequence were of the party; and, moreover, that women were amongst
them, for a _takhteravan_ (a litter) and a _kejaweh_ (panniers) were
seen near the tent.

I gave myself out for a pilgrim, and found the conductor very ready
to furnish me with a mule for my conveyance. I was anxious to pass
unnoticed, considering the predicament in which I stood; but still the
conscious dignity which the ninety-five pieces of gold in my girdle gave
me made it difficult for me to restrain that vanity of display so common
to all my countrymen.

Among the baggage, at a small distance from the square in which I was
seated, were several long and narrow packages sewn up in thick felts,
which were spread in pairs upon the ground, apparently having been
unloaded there from the backs of camels. I inquired what they might
be, for the sight of them was new to me, and was informed that they
contained dead bodies bound to Kerbelah.

‘It is evident you are a stranger,’ said the conductor, who appeared to
be as loquacious and mother-witted as those of his profession generally
are, ‘or otherwise you would have been better informed. We are carrying
rare things to Kerbelah!’

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘I am a stranger; I come from afar, and am like one
decended from the mountains. In God’s name, what are you carrying to

‘What!’ answered he, ‘have you heard nothing of the extraordinary death
of the mollah bashi of Tehran; how he died in the bath; and how
his ghost was seen on horseback, and then in his harem; and how it
afterwards ran off with one of the chief executioner’s best horses?
Where have you been living all this while?’ added he, shaking both his
hands before him as he spoke, and shrugging up his shoulders.

Alarmed at what he had said, I pretended ignorance; and requested him to
satisfy my curiosity concerning the story in question, which he did in
a manner that, but for my being so deeply implicated in it, would have
afforded me much amusement.

‘You must know then,’ said the muleteer, ‘that what I am about to relate
is true, because I was on the spot in person, at the time it happened.

‘The chief priest having gone to the bath at the close of day, just
after the evening prayer, returned to his house surrounded by his
servants, and retired to bed for the night in the _khelwet_ of his
women’s apartments.

‘You need not be told that most of the public baths in Persia are open
to the women the first thing in the morning, to a certain hour in the
day, and are then appropriated to the men. The wife of the mollah bashi,
attended by her servants and slaves, the morning after her husband had
bathed, at the earliest sound of the cow horn, proceeded to the same
bath, and she and her suite were the first party who entered it on that
day. Out of respect to their mistress, none of her attendants ventured
to get into the reservoir of hot water before her. The cupola of the
bath was but very dimly lighted by the dawn; and the chief priest’s wife
was almost in utter darkness when she entered the water. Guess at her
horror, when scarcely having proceeded two steps, her extended hand fell
upon a large mass of floating flesh.

‘Her first impulse was to utter an amazing shriek; her second to tumble
headlong out as if she had been pursued, and straight to faint away.

‘The consternation which she produced amongst her women may easily be
conceived. One after the other, with the lamp in their hand, they
looked in, shrieked, and then ran back, not one among them having yet
discovered what was the object of their terror.

‘At length the old duenna taking courage, looked boldly into the
reservoir, and to her surprise she there found a dead man. More screams
and cries ensued, which having brought the chief priest’s wife to
her senses, caused her to join the inspecting party. Little could be
recognized of a floating corpse inflated with water, presenting various
odd surfaces to the eye, and giving but little clue to discovery. At
length the head and face appeared to view; and, as soon as the old
duenna had applied her lamp to it, one and all cried out, “O Ali! it is
the mollah bashi; it is the mollah bashi!”

‘The wife again fell into a trance; the slaves made their cries; in
short, there was that stir amongst them, that one would have thought
they had heard the “blast of consternation from the trumpets of the

‘But amidst all the wailing, which by this time had attracted every
woman in the building, one of the slaves cried out, “But it cannot be
our Aga, for I saw him return from the bath, I made his bed, and I am
sure he was soon asleep. It is impossible he can be in bed and asleep,
and in the bath, drowned, at one and the same time. It must be somebody

‘This observation threw them all into greater consternation than ever,
because they immediately felt that what the slave had seen must have
been her master’s ghost. “See,” said the wife,--who had again come
to life,--pointing to the face of the corpse, “I am sure this was my
husband; there is the scratch I gave him but yesterday.” “And there,”
said one of her servants, “that is the place in his beard from which you
plucked a handful of hairs.”

‘These tender recollections threw the poor widow into a violent flood
of tears, which were only stopped by her slaves assuring her that the
mollah bashi was still alive. “How else could he have taken the lamp
from my hand?” said the slave--“how could he have shut the door? how
dismissed me? how snored?” So persuaded was she of the truth of what she
said, that she forthwith dressed herself, and volunteered to go to her
master’s bed-room, where no doubt she would find him asleep.

‘“But if he is there,” said one of the women, “then what can this be?”
(pointing to the corpse.)

‘“Why, this must be his ghost,” said another; “for surely no man can
possess two bodies,--one in which he lives, and the other by way of a

‘“No,” said a third in a waggish tone, “that would be quite new. He
might then make the same use of them as he would of a town and country

‘All this time (many additional bathers having poured in) whilst those
who were indifferent were speculating after this fashion, the chief
priest’s women were uttering loud and piercing shrieks, particularly
when the slave returned and informed them that no mollah bashi had she
found, and that he had left no trace behind except the print of his body
in the bed.

‘The story had now got abroad, the bath was surrounded by a crowd, who
pressed to gain admittance; and ere the women had had time to dress
themselves, the place was full of men. Such a scene of confusion as then
ensued had never before been witnessed in a public bath at Tehran. What
with the wailing and lamentations of the women of the chief priest--what
with the noise and cries of those who inveighed against the intrusion of
the men--the clamour was excessive.

‘At length the friends and relations of the deceased appeared, and, with
them, the washers of the dead, who immediately bore the corpse to the
place of ablution, where it was embalmed, and prepared for its journey
to Kerbelah, for thither it was judged expedient to send it for burial.

‘His widow at once avowed her intention of accompanying the body; and
my mules,’ added my informant, ‘were hired on the occasion. The tent you
see yonder is occupied by her and her slaves; and there,’ pointing to
the packages, ‘lies the carcass of her husband. The accompanying dead
bodies are the remains of those who, both at Tehran and on our road
hither, died about the time that this event took place, and are now sent
to Kerbelah to be buried in the suite and under the protection of one
who at the day of resurrection, it is hoped, may lend them a helping
hand into paradise.’

Here the conductor stopped, whilst I, who had been struck by the latter
part of his speech, became almost mute from fear. I felt that having
endeavoured to escape danger, I had fallen into its very mouth. Were
I to be recognized by the chief priest’s servants, some of whom I
had known intimately, their knowledge of my person would lead to my

‘But what happened after the corpse was carried out of the bath?’ said
I, anxious to know whether the clothes which I had left in one of its
corners had been noticed.

‘By the head of Ali!’ said the man, ‘I do not very well recollect. This
I know, that many stories were in circulation; and every person had a
different one. Some said that the chief priest, after being drowned, was
seen in his anderûn and went to bed. Others that he appeared the next
morning at the chief executioner’s, and rode away with one of his best
horses. The chief executioner himself shows a note of his, sealed with
his seal, giving him permission to drink wine. In short, so many and so
contradictory were the reports, that no one knew what to believe. All
were puzzled to find out how he managed to get alive out of the bath
(for that is attested by his servants, and by the master of the bath),
and still remain in the reservoir. Difficulties continued to increase
as fast as people argued, until a discovery took place which threw a
marvellous light upon the subject. Some clothes were found in a dark
corner of the bath. They were torn and in bad case; but without much
difficulty they were known to have belonged to one Hajji Baba, a
drivelling priest, and an attendant upon that famous breeder of
disturbance, the mollah Nadân, the open and avowed enemy of the head of
the law. Then everybody exclaimed, “Hajji Baba is the murderer! without
doubt he is the murderer of the holy man, he must pay the price of
blood!” and all the city was in full search for Hajji Baba. Many said,
that Nadân was the culprit; in short, messengers have been sent all over
the country to seize them both, and carry them dead or alive to Tehran.
I only wish that my fate may be sufficiently on the ascent, to throw
either of them into my hands; such a prize would be worth my whole
mule-hire to Kerbelah.’

I leave every one to guess my feelings upon hearing this language; I
who was never famous for facing difficulties with courage, and who would
always rather as a preliminary to safety make use of the swiftness of my
heels, in preference to adopting any other measure. But here to retreat
was more dangerous than to proceed; for in a very short time I should be
in the territory of another government, until when I promised faithfully
to wrap myself up in the folds of my own counsel; and to continue my
road with all the wariness of one who is surrounded by imminent danger.


He is discovered and seized, but his good stars again befriend and set
him free.

The caravan pursued its march early the next morning, and I took my
station among the muleteers and the hangers on (many of whom are always
at hand), in order to screen myself from notice. The litter with the
chief priest’s widow, and her attendants, preceded the line of march,
the camels with the bodies followed, and the remainder of the caravan,
consisting principally of loaded mules, spread itself in a long
straggling line over the road.

I envied every fellow who had a more ruffian-like face, or a more ragged
coat than my own; so fearful was I of being thought good-looking enough
to be noticed. More particularly I dreaded the approach of the widow’s
servants, for although I was dying to know if any of them were of my
acquaintance, yet I carefully turned my head on one side, as soon as
there was the smallest likelihood of their looking towards me.

The first day’s march had passed over in safety; and I laid my head on a
projecting part of the baggage, where I slept sound through the night. I
was equally fortunate on the second day, and with so much confidence
did this success inspire me, that I began to be ambitious of associating
with something better than a common mule-driver.

I had opened a conversation with one, who I was informed was an Armenian
bishop; and had already made him understand how thankful he ought to be
for being thus noticed by a true believer, when one of the much
dreaded attendants rode by us, and in him I recognized the man who had
endeavoured to palm off a mûtî upon me, upon my first introduction to
the mollah Nadân. My heart leapt into my mouth at the sight of him.
The chief priest’s ghost, had it appeared, could not have frightened
me more. I turned my head quickly on one side, but he passed on without
heeding me; so for this time I was let off only with the fright; but I
resolved to return to my humble station again, and forthwith left the
bishop to his own meditations.

On the following day we were to pass through the defiles infested by the
Cûrdish banditti, when every one would be too much taken up with his own
safety to think of me. Once having passed them, we should no longer
be in the Persian territory, and I might then claim protection of the
Turks, in case I were discovered and seized.

On that eventful day, a day well remembered in the annals of my
adventurous life, the caravan wore a military appearance. All those who
possessed anything in the form of a weapon brought it forth and made a
display. The whole scene put me in mind of a similar one which I have
recorded in the first pages of my history; when, in company with Osman
Aga, we encountered an attack from the Turcomans. The same symptoms
of fear showed themselves on this occasion as on that; and I am honest
enough to own that time had not strengthened my nerves, nor given me any
right to the title of lion-eater.

The whole caravan marched in compact order, marshalled by a chaoush and
by the conductor, who, with the servants of the chief priest’s wife,
formed a sort of vanguard to the main body. I, who had my own safety to
consult for more reasons than one, huddled myself among the crowd, and
enjoyed the idea that I was encumbered with no other property than the
money in my girdle.

We were proceeding in silence; nothing was heard save the bells of the
caravan, and I was deep in thought in what manner I might dispose of my
ninety-five tomauns, on our arrival at Bagdad; when, turning up my eyes,
I perceived the conductor and a well-equipped Persian riding towards me.

The conductor pointed with his hand to me, and said to his companions,
‘_hem een est_, this is even he!’

‘By the beard of Ali!’ thought I, ‘my good fortune has turned its back
upon me.’

I looked at the conductor’s companion, whom I instantly discovered to be
the very Abdul Kerim, from whom I had extracted the one hundred tomauns,
at the village of Seidabad, by means of the letter which I had written
in the name of the deceased chief priest.

I was about giving myself up for lost, when the conductor relieved me a
little, by saying, ‘You are the last man who joined our caravan: perhaps
you can tell us upon what part of the frontier Kelb Ali Khan, the
robber, is said to be at present.’

I answered him in a great state of perturbation; but kept my eyes fixed
upon Abdul all the while, who also began to stare at me with those
penetrating eyes of his, which almost turned my heart inside out. He
continued looking at me like one in doubt, whilst I endeavoured to skulk
away; but at length appearing to recollect himself, he exclaimed, ‘I
have it, I have it! it is the very man; he it was who laughed at my
beard and stole the hundred tomauns.’ Then addressing himself to the
bystanders, he said, ‘If you want a thief, there is one. Seize him in
the name of the Prophet!’

I began to expostulate, and to deny the accusation, and probably should
have succeeded to convince those who surrounded us that I was wrongly
accused, when, to my consternation, the promoter of matrimony came up,
at once recognized me, and called me by my name. Then my whole history
came to light. I was denounced as the murderer of the chief priest, and
this event produced so general a bustle throughout the caravan, that
fear of the robbers was for a while suspended, and every one came to
gaze upon me.

I was seized, my hands were pinioned behind my back, I was about being
dragged before the chief priest’s widow to be exhibited, when my good
planet came to my help and showed its ascendant. Of a sudden a great cry
was heard at a distance, and to my delight I beheld a body of cavaliers
rushing down the slope of an adjacent hill. These were the very Cûrds
so much dreaded. The consternation was universal, the whole caravan was
thrown into confusion, and resistance was unavailing when both heart
and hand were wanting. Those who were mounted ran away; the muleteers,
anxious for the safety of their cattle, cut the ropes of their loads,
which fell and were left spread on the plain to the mercy of the
marauders. The camels were also disencumbered of their burdens, and
coffins were to be seen in all parts of the road. I remarked that the
one containing the chief priest had fallen into a rivulet, as if fate
was not tired of drowning him. In short, the rout was universal and

I soon was left to myself, and easily found means to disengage my bonds.
I perceived that the Cûrds had directed their attention principally to
the litter and its attendants, where they naturally expected to find
prisoners of consequence; and it rejoiced me to observe, that those
whom but a few minutes before I had looked upon as destined to be
the perpetrators of my ruin, and very possibly of my death, were now
themselves thrown into a dilemma nearly equally disastrous with the one
from which I was now relieved.

In vain the widow’s attendants threatened, swore, and bade defiance;
nothing would soften their wild and barbarous assailants, who, under
some lawless pretext of fees to be paid, began a regular pillage of
such parts of the caravan as had not fled their attack. I again had an
opportunity of ascertaining that my good star was prevailing; for
now, whilst those who possessed any article of dress which might give
respectability to their appearance became the object of the robbers’
attention, I and my solitary mule had the satisfaction to find ourselves
so totally unworthy of notice, that we proceeded without molestation on
the original object of our journey. I owned no corpse--I was not called
upon to pay duty upon a dead relation--I was free as air; and as soon as
I once found myself released from the thousand miseries which had arisen
all around me, and which, as if by magic, had been as quickly dispelled,
I went on my way, exclaiming, _Barikallah, ai talleh mun!_ Well done, oh
my good fortune!’

[Illustration: Hajji meets Osman Aga again. 34.jpg]


He reaches Bagdad, meets his first master, and turns his views to

Leaving the mollah bashi’s widow, her slaves, and attendants in the
hands of the Cûrds, I made the best of my way to my destination; and
caring little to hold converse with any one, after what had so recently
taken place, I shaped my course in such a manner as not to attract

Many stragglers, flying from the Cûrds, were to be seen on the road; but
as they all, more or less, had interest in the fate of the caravan, they
did not proceed far, but hovered about the scene of action, in the hopes
of reclaiming either their friends or their property. I alone seemed
to be totally independent, and by the time I had travelled two or three
parasangs from the danger, I had the road to myself. Everything that
had befallen me was turned over and over again in my mind, and I came to
this conclusion, that powerfully protected as I seemed to be by fate, I
might again turn my steps towards the paths of ambition, and hope that
my last failure in the pursuits of advancement was to be made up by
realizing a speedy and ample fortune.

‘Ninety-five tomauns in my girdle, and all the world before me,’ said I,
‘is no insignificant prospect. And if Nadân be but blown from a mortar,
and the chief priest’s widow detained and ruined by the Cûrds, I do
not see why I may not put my cap on one side as well as the best man in

At length the walls and turrets of Bagdad appeared in view, and I
entered the city a total stranger, and ignorant of its localities.
Caravanserais I knew that I should find at every turn, and indifferent
whither I bent my steps, or where I alighted, I let my mule take the
road it liked best. Well acquainted with every street, the animal took
me to a large caravanserai, where it no doubt had long been accustomed
to resort, and there stopping, gave several loud grunts as it entered
the porch, in the expectation of meeting its companions of the caravan.
Although disappointed, yet I was more fortunate (if fortunate I could
call myself), in seeing some of my countrymen in the square, and I soon
found out that this was their usual rendezvous.

My person, I flattered myself, could attract no notice, go where I
might: but I was sorry to find it otherwise. Upon alighting I was
assailed by a thousand questions--the caravan was hourly expected,
the merchants were eager for the reception of their goods, and I might
possibly give them some intelligence respecting it. I made such answers
as were necessary for the occasion; but resolved within myself very
soon to quit so inquisitive a society, and bury myself in obscurity. I
accordingly left my mule to its fate, reflecting that its owner would
very soon arrive and take possession of it, and straightway settled
myself in another part of the city.

As a first step towards preserving my incognito, I exchanged my dusty
and weather-beaten sheep’s-skin cap for a head-dress of the country,
namely, a long red cloth bag, which fell down in a flap behind,
and fastened to my head with a parti-coloured silk. I also bought a
second-hand beniche, or cloak, usually worn by the Turks, which, going
over my Persian garments, gave me the general appearance of an Osmanli;
and finished my adjustment by a pair of bright crimson leather slippers.

Having done this, it came into my head that much good might accrue if
I made myself known to the family of my first master, Osman Aga, for
through them I might make acquaintance in the city, and promote my views
in trade.

I accordingly sallied forth, and took my road through the principal
bazaars and bezestens, in order to make inquiries, and particularly
stopped where lambskins were sold, for I well recollected that they
were his favourite article of trade. I also recollected many particulars
concerning Bagdad, which he used to take pleasure in relating during our
journeys, and I fancied that I could almost find my way to his very door
without inquiry.

However, my trouble was soon at an end, for in putting my head into the
shop of one of the principal Bokhara merchants, and inquiring if any
news had reached Bagdad of one Osman Aga, I heard a well-known voice, in
answer, say, ‘Who wants me? In the name of the Prophet, I am he!’

Guess at my joy and surprise--it was the old man himself. I was almost
as much astonished to see him at Bagdad, as I had before been to meet
him at Tehran, and his surprise was equal to mine. I related as much of
my history as I thought it necessary for him to know, and he told me his
in return, which in two words was as follows.

He had left Tehran in the determination of proceeding to Constantinople,
there to dispose of his merchandise, but hearing that great danger of
being robbed existed on the road between Erivan and Arz Roum, he had
deemed it a safer plan to visit Bagdad; and here he was, restored to his
native city after an absence of many years. He had found his son
grown up to man’s estate, who, having gone through all the ceremony
of mourning for his loss, had duly taken possession of his patrimony,
which, according to the law, he had shared in the prescribed portions
between his mother and sister. But as soon as his father was restored to
him, he made no wry faces, but, like a good Mussulman, put into practice
that precept of the Koran which ordaineth man to show kindness to his
parents--but not to say unto them ‘Fie upon you!’ The old man added,
that he had found his wife alive, and that his daughter was old enough
to be married.

But having thus disburthened himself of this short history of his
adventures, he turned round upon me in a sharper manner than he had even
done before, and said, ‘But Hajji, my friend, in the name of the blessed
Mohammed, what could have possessed you to join me to that female Satan
at Tehran, by way of making me pass my time agreeably? By the salt which
we have so often eat together, the few days that I passed in her company
were filled with more misery than was the whole time I spent among the
Turcomans! Was it right to treat an old friend thus?’

I assured him that I had no object in view but his happiness, taking
it for granted that she, who had been the favourite of the monarch of
Persia, must, even in her later days, have had charms more than enough
for one who had passed some of the best years of his life with camels.

‘Camels!’ exclaimed Osman, ‘camels, indeed! they are angels compared to
this fury. Would to Heaven that you had married me to a camel instead,
for it, at least, poor animal, would have sat quiet, with calm and
thoughtful gravity, and let me have my own way; whereas your dragon,
she, the viper, she passed her whole time in telling me how vastly
honoured I was in having taken to wife one who had led the Shah by the
beard, and enforced each word with either a slap or a scratch. _Amân!
Amân!_’ said the old man, rubbing his hand on his cheek, ‘I think I feel
them now.’

He at length ceded to my assurances that I had no other object in view
than his happiness, and then very kindly asked me to take up my abode at
his house during my stay at Bagdad, to which, of course, I acceded with
all manner of pleasure.

This conversation had taken place in the back room of the Bokhara
merchant’s shop, during which the old man had treated me to five paras’
worth of coffee, brought from a neighbouring coffee-house; and when
it was over, he proposed going to his son’s shop, situated in the same
bazaar, some few doors farther on. His son’s name was Suleiman. Having
set himself up in the cloth trade during his father’s long absence, he
had acquired an easy livelihood, and passed the greatest part of the
day (except when necessary to go to his prayers) seated in the little
platform in the front of his shop, surrounded by his merchandise, neatly
arranged on shelves fixed in the wall. He was a fat, squat little man,
very like his father; and when he was informed that I was Hajji Baba, he
said that I was welcome, and taking the pipe which he was smoking from
his own mouth, he immediately transferred it to mine.

These preliminaries of mutual good-will being established, I enjoyed the
prospect of an easy and quiet sojourn at Bagdad, in the company of these
good people; but in order to show that I did not intend wholly to be a
dependant upon them, I made it known that I was possessed of ninety-five
tomauns, and asked their opinion upon the mode of laying them out to the
best advantage in trade. I gave them to understand that, tired of the
buffetings of an adventurer’s life, it was my intention for the future
to devote my time to securing an independence by my own industry. Many
had acquired wealth from beginnings much smaller than mine, said I; to
which they both agreed: and, as we anticipated the fortune that I was to
make, Osman Aga gravely let off the only bit of Persian poetry which he
had picked up during his travels--‘Drop by drop water distilleth from
the rock, till at length it becometh a sea.’

Upon this conclusion we, that is, the father and I, proceeded to his
house, which was situated at a convenient distance from the bazaars.

[Illustration: The curing of Hajji Baba. 35.jpg]


He purchases pipe-sticks, and inspires a hopeless passion in the breast
of his old master’s daughter.

Osman Aga’s house was situated in a narrow lane, leading out of the
street which leads into one of the principal bazaars. Immediately in
front of the door was a heap of rubbish, upon which a litter of kittens
had just been thrown, making an essay of their young voices as we
passed; and a little farther, on a similar mound, a colony of puppies
had been planted, guarded by a mangy mother, which, by their united
cries, left us nothing to desire in the way of discord. Between these
was situated the gate of Osman Aga’s house, into which we entered. It
was a small building, consisting of some crazy rooms, which neither
indicated riches nor cleanliness. As I had no baggage belonging to me,
except a small carpet, my removal here from the caravanserai was soon
accomplished, and I took up my future abode in a corner of mine host’s
principal room, where he also spread his bed and slept.

By way of celebrating my arrival, he treated me with roasted lamb, and
an abundant dish of rice, to which were added dates, cheese, and onions.
The dishes were cooked in the harem, by the hands of his wife
and daughter, aided by a female slave, the only domestic in the
establishment. Neither of these had I yet seen, for it was dusk when
we reached the house; nor, from good manners, did I ask more about them
than Osman was inclined to tell me.

Besides myself and his son, the old man had invited a brother dealer in
lambskins to the entertainment, with whom he had formed a close intimacy
during his travels in Bokhara. The conversation turned exclusively upon
commerce, about which I was so ignorant, that I took very little share
in it, although, considering that it was my intention to enter it
myself, I was very happy to open my ears to all that was said.

They entered deeply into the subject and discussed the relative merits
or each article of trade. To hear them talk, one might have inferred
that the end of the world was at hand, because it was rumoured that the
price of their favourite commodity had fallen at Constantinople. They
dissuaded me from embarking my capital in that article, but recommended
in preference that I should invest it in pipe-sticks, which, they
remarked, were subject to no decay, and for which there was a constant
demand in the market of Constantinople.

The entertainment being over, and the guests having parted, I ruminated
deeply upon what I had heard, and forthwith turned the whole weight
of my thoughts to pipe-sticks. There, in a corner, I sat all day
calculating what number of pipes I might acquire for my tomauns,
and what would be my profit when sold at Constantinople; and when my
imagination was heated by the hopes of the ultimate fortune that might
be realized, I gave myself up to the most extravagant expectations. The
plan of the merchant, whom Saadi relates he met in the island of Kish,
was trifling when compared to the one which I formed. ‘With the produce
of my pipe-sticks,’ said I, ‘I will buy figs at Smyrna, which I will
take to Europe, and having made great profit by them there, my money
shall then he invested in skull-caps, which I will carry to Grand Cairo;
these being sold in detail, for ready cash, I will carefully pack my
money in sacks, and proceed to Ethiopia, where I will purchase slaves,
each of whom I will sell for great profit at Moccha, and thence I will
make the pilgrimage to the tomb of the Prophet. From Moccha I will
transport coffee to Persia, which will fetch an amazing price; and then
I will repose in my native city, until I can purchase a high situation
at court, which may in time lead me to become the grand vizier to the
King of Kings.

Having thus disposed of the future in my favour, I set myself actively
to work in laying in my merchandise. According to the most approved
method, I made a bargain with a wood-cutter, who was to proceed to the
mountains of Lour and Bakhtiari, where he would find forests of the wild
cherry-tree, from which he would make his selections, according to the
sizes with which I should furnish him. He was then to return to Bagdad,
where the sticks would be bored, and made up into appropriate parcels
for the markets of Turkey.

All this was duly executed; but during the time that I was waiting for
the return of the wood-cutter, I was attacked by a disorder, from
which few residents, as well as strangers at Bagdad are exempt, which
terminating by a large pimple, as it dries up, leaves an indelible mark
on the skin. To my great mortification, it broke out upon the middle of
my right cheek, immediately upon the confines of the beard, and there
left its baleful print, destroying some of the most favourite of my
hairs, and making that appear a broken and irregular waste, which before
might be likened to a highly cultivated slope.

I bore this calamity as well as I was able, although I could not help
frequently quarrelling with fate, for having chosen so conspicuous
a spot to place that which might have been so conveniently settled
anywhere else.

‘So be it,’ said I, heaving a sigh at the same time; ‘the wise man said
true when he remarked, “if every stone was left to choose what it would
be, most probably it would be a diamond;” and if every man might choose
whereabouts he would have his pimple, there would be no ugly faces in

However, by way of consolation, I recollected the Osman Aga’s face was
the mirror of deformity, although his pimple had budded elsewhere. He,
instead of condoling with me on my misfortune, rather seemed to enjoy

‘Hajji,’ said he to me, ‘if you are not afflicted with any greater
calamity than this in life, look upon it as a blessing: although one
side of your face be deformed, still the other is perfect. The turquoise
is the perfection of colour on one side, but is black and dirty on the
other; still it is a turquoise, and a precious stone.’

‘Ah,’ said I to myself, ‘the ugly man cannot endure the sight of the
handsome, no more than the vicious can the virtuous: in the same manner
as curs of the market howl at a hunting dog, but dare not approach him.’

Notwithstanding the deformity of my cheek, I found, as I continued to
be an inmate in the house of my old master, that I had made no small
impression upon the heart of his daughter, the fair Dilaram, who, by a
thousand little arts, did not fail to make me acquainted with the state
of her affections. Her mother and she were both experienced in the mode
of curing the Bagdad disorder, and they undertook to superintend mine.
My pimple and Dilaram’s love appear to have risen at about the same
time; their progress was mutual, and by the time that the former had
risen to its full height, the latter had become quite inconvenient.

I, ’tis true, had not caught the infection; for my charmer was the
very image of her father, whose face and that of an old camel’s were
so entirely identified in my mind, that I never could lose that ugly
association of ideas when I gazed upon her. It was, therefore, a
considerable relief to me when the season for travelling approached,
and when the caravan for Constantinople was about to assemble. My
pipe-sticks were collected and packed into their proper bundles, my
accounts with my creditors regularly discharged, my wardrobe complete,
and I was all delight when it was announced, that at the very next
favourable conjunction of the planets the caravan was to take its
departure. But as for poor Dilaram, she hovered about my cheek with
looks of despair; and as fast as the swelling subsided, she appeared to
lose the only tie which kept her united to this world and its vanities.


He becomes a merchant, leaves Bagdad, and accompanies a caravan to

It was a fine spring morning when the caravan took its departure from
the Constantinople gate of the city. Mounted on the top of one of my
loads, with my bed tied on the pad by way of a soft seat, and my bags
surrounding me, I contemplated the scene with pleasure, listened to
the bells of the mules as I would to music, and surveyed myself as a
merchant of no small consequence.

My more immediate companions were Osman Aga, and his associate in
lambskins (he of whom I have already made honourable mention at the
entertainment), and one or two other Bagdad merchants; but besides,
there were many of my own countrymen, natives of different cities of
Persia, all bound upon purposes of trade to Constantinople, and with
whom I was more or less acquainted. My adventure with the chief priest
of Tehran had in great measure blown over; and indeed the dress I had
adopted, with the scar on my cheek, made me look so entirely like a
native of Bagdad, that I retained little in my appearance to remind the
world that I was in fact a Persian.

I will not tire the reader with a recital of our adventures through
Turkey, which consisted of the usual fear of robbers, squabbles with
muleteers, and frays at caravanserais. It will be sufficient to say,
that we reached our destination in safety; but I cannot omit the
expression of my first emotions upon seeing Constantinople.

I, a Persian, and an Ispahani, had ever been accustomed to hold my
native city as the first in the world: never had it crossed my mind that
any other could, in the smallest degree, enter into competition with
it, and when the capital of Roum was described to me as finer, I always
laughed the describer to scorn. But what was my astonishment, and I may
add mortification, on beholding, for the first time, this magnificent
city! I had always looked upon the royal mosque, in the great square
at Ispahan, as the most superb building in the world; but here were a
hundred finer, each surpassing the other in beauty and in splendour.
Nothing did I ever conceive could equal the extent of my native place;
but here my eyes became tired with wandering over the numerous hills and
creeks thickly covered with buildings, which seemed to bid defiance to
calculation. If Ispahan was half the world, this indeed was the whole.
And then this gem of cities possesses this great advantage over Ispahan,
that it is situated on the borders of a beautiful succession of waters,
instead of being surrounded by arid and craggy mountains; and in
addition to its own extent and beauty, enjoys the advantage of being
reflected in one never-failing mirror, ever at hand to multiply them.
But where should I stop, if I attempted to describe the numerous moving
objects which attracted my attention? Thousands of boats, of all forms
and sizes, skimmed along in every direction, whilst the larger vessels,
whose masts looked like forests, more numerous than those of Mazanderan,
lined the shores of the intricate and widely extended harbour.

‘O, this is a paradise,’ said I to those around me; ‘and may I never
leave it!’ But when I recollected in whose hands it was, possessed by a
race of the most accursed of heretics, whose beards were not fit to be
brooms to our dust-holes, then I thought myself too condescending in
allowing them to possess me amongst them. One consolation, however, I
did not fail to derive from reflection, which was, that if they were
allowed the possession of so choice a spot for their use in this world,
they would doubly feel the horror of that which was doubtless preparing
for them in the next.

After undergoing the necessary forms and examinations at the
customhouse, I and my companions took boat at Scutari, crossed over to
Constantinople, and established ourselves and merchandise in a large
caravanserai, the resort of Persian traders, situated in a very central
part of the city, near the principal bazaars. I felt myself a slender
personage indeed, when I considered that I was only one among the crowd
of the immense population that was continually floating through the
great thoroughfares. And when I saw the riches displayed in the shops,
the magnificence of dress of almost every inhabitant, and the constant
succession of great lords and agas, riding about on the finest and most
richly caparisoned horses, I could not help exclaiming, in a secret
whisper to myself, ‘Where is Constantinople and her splendours, and
where Persia and her poverty?’

I, in conjunction with old Osman, hired a room in the caravanserai, in
which we deposited our merchandise. During the daytime I displayed my
pipe-sticks in goodly rows on a platform; and as my assortments were
good, I began my sales with great vigour, and reaped considerable
profit. In proportion as I found money returning to my purse, so did I
launch out into luxuries which I little heeded before. I increased the
beauty and conveniences of my dress; I bought a handsome amber-headed
chibouk; I girded my waist with a lively-coloured shawl; my tobacco
pouch was made of silk, covered with spangles; my slippers were of
bright yellow, and I treated myself to a glittering dagger. Temptations
to expense surrounded me everywhere, and I began to think that there was
something worth living for in this world. So numerous were the places in
which I might exhibit my person in public, that I could not refrain from
visiting the most frequented coffee-houses, where, mounted on a high
bench, with soft cushions to recline upon, I smoked my pipe and sipped
my coffee like one of the highest degree.

Implicated as I had been in disagreeable adventures in Persia, I was
mistrustful of my own countrymen, and rather shunned them, whilst I
sought the acquaintance of the Turks. But they, my countrymen, who are
always so inquisitive, and who feel themselves slighted upon the least
inattention--they discovered who and what I was, and eyed me with no
great feelings of approbation. However, I endeavoured to live upon good
terms with them; and as long as we did not enter into competition in
matters of trade, they left me unmolested.

In places of public resort I gave myself out for a rich Bagdad merchant;
and now my scar, which I had before esteemed a great misfortune, was
conveniently conspicuous to attest the truth of my assertions. Nothing,
I found, was so easy as to deceive the Turks by outward appearance.
Their taciturnity, the dignity and composure of their manner and
deportment, their slow walk, their set phrases, were all so easy to
acquire, that in the course of a very short time I managed to imitate
them so well, that I could at pleasure make myself one of the dullest
and most solemn of their species. So perfect a hearer had I become,
so well did I sigh out, every now and then, in soft accents, my sacred
ejaculations of ‘Allah! and there is but one Allah!’ and so steady was
I in counting my beads, that I was received at the coffee-house, which
I frequented, with distinguished attention. The owner of it himself made
my coffee, and as he poured it out with a high flourish of his arm,
he never failed to welcome me by the friendly epithets of ‘my aga, my
sultan.’ Such influence had the respectability of my appearance secured
for me, that in every trifling dispute which might take place in the
coffee-room, either upon the subjects of horses, dogs, arms, or tobacco
(the principal topics of conversation), I was ever referred to, and any
low growl from my lips, of either _belli_ (yes), or _yok_ (no), was sure
to set the matter at rest.

[Illustration: Shekerleb approaches Hajji. 36.jpg]


Hajji Baba makes a conquest of the widow of an emir, which at first
alarms, but afterwards elates him.

I had lived in this manner for some time, when for three successive
evenings, towards the dusk, retiring from my coffee-house, I remarked an
old woman standing at the corner of a small street that nearly faced it.
She always gazed intensely at me, seemed desirous to speak, looked up
every now and then at the latticed windows of the house, at the foot of
which she had taken post, and then allowed me to pass on.

The first time I scarcely took notice of her, an old woman standing at
the corner of a street being nothing remarkable; but, on the second,
I became surprised, and was on my guard; the third roused all my
curiosity; and on the fourth evening I determined, if she appeared
again, to discover what could be her meaning.

Accordingly I dressed myself rather better than usual, having taken
it for granted that my good looks, added to the protection of my good
planet, were at work for me; and issuing forth from the coffee-house, I
walked with a slow and sauntering step towards the mysterious woman. I
was about accosting her, when, as I turned the angle of the street that
screened me from the windows of the coffee-house, of a sudden a lattice
of the house before mentioned was thrown open, and an unveiled female
presented herself to my sight, whose face and form appeared to me of the
most dazzling beauty. A flower was in her hand, which she first held out
to my notice, then placed it on her heart, threw it to me, and then shut
the lattice in such haste, that the whole scene was like an apparition
which had shown itself, and then suddenly disappeared. I stood with my
mouth open, and my eyes directed upwards, until I was gently pulled
by the sleeve by the old woman, who had picked up the flower, and was
presenting it to me as I looked round upon her.

‘What is this,’ said I, ‘in the name of the Prophet? Are there Gins and
Peris in this land?’

‘Are you such a novice,’ answered the old woman, ‘not to know what that
flower means? Your beard is long enough, you are not a child, and your
dress proclaims that you have travelled; but you have travelled to
little purpose, if you know not what a lady means when she gives you an
almond flower.

‘O yes,’ said I, ‘I know that fistek (almond) rhymes to yastek (pillow);
and I also know that two heads upon one pillow have frequently been
compared to two kernels in one almond; but my beard is long enough to
remind me also, that such things do not happen without danger, and that
the heads may be cut off, as well as the kernels swallowed up.’

‘Fear nothing,’ said my companion with great emotion, ‘by the holy
Mohamed, we are clean ones, and you despise fortune, if you reject us.
Are you an ass, that you should start at a shadow? for such are your

‘Tell me then,’ said I, ‘who is the lady I have just seen, and what am I
to do?’

‘Be not in such a hurry,’ answered she; ‘nothing can be done to-night,
and you must have patience. Time and place are not now convenient; but
meet me to-morrow at noon, at the cemetery of Eyúb, and you will hear
all that you wish to know. I shall be seated at the foot of the tomb of
the first emir on your right hand, and you will recognize me from any
other woman by a red shawl, thrown over my left shoulder. Go, and Allah
go with you!’

Upon this we parted, and I returned to my room in the caravanserai to
ruminate over what had happened. I did not doubt that something good was
in store for me; but I had heard terrible accounts of the jealousy
of Turkish husbands, and could not help imagining that I might fall
a victim to the fury of some much-injured man. Zeenab and her tower,
Mariam and her Yûsûf, Dilaram and her pimple, all the instances of
unfortunate loves, came across my mind in succession, and damped any
desire that I might at first have felt in prosecuting this adventure.
However, my blood was yet young and warm enough to carry me forwards,
and I determined, though reluctantly, to proceed.

On the noon of the ensuing day I faithfully kept my engagement, looked
for the first green-turbaned tomb, which I duly found on my right
hand, where I discovered the old woman with her red shawl over her left
shoulder. We retired from the roadside, and retreated to the shade of
some of the loftiest cypress trees in the burial-ground; where,
seated on the ground, with the magnificent view of the harbour of
Constantinople before us, we calmly entered upon the subject of our

She first complimented me upon my punctuality, and then again assured
me, that I had nothing to fear from what she was about to propose. She
had all the garrulity of her age, and spoke for some time but to little
purpose, making professions of her attachment, and of her desire to
serve me; all of which I foresaw would ultimately diminish the profits
of my pipe-sticks, and I therefore stopped her progress, and requested
her at once to let me know the history of the fair lady at the window.

Divesting her narrative of all her repetitions and circumlocutions, she
spoke nearly to the following effect:--

‘The lady whom you saw, and whose servant I am, is the only daughter of
a rich Aleppo merchant, who, besides her, had two sons. The father died
not long ago, and was succeeded in his business by his sons, who are now
wealthy merchants, and reside in this city. My mistress, whose name is
Shekerleb, or Sugar-lips, was married when very young to an old but rich
emir, who scrupulously refrained from having more than one wife at a
time, because from experience he knew that he could have no peace at
home if he took advantage of the permissions of his law in multiplying
to himself his female companions. He was very fond of domestic quiet,
and therefore hoped, by taking one so young, he might be able to
mould her to his wishes, and that she would never thwart him in his
inclinations. In that he was fortunate, for a more gentle and docile
creature than my mistress does not exist. There was only one point upon
which they could never agree, which proved indeed one of the causes of
the Emir’s death, which happened soon after. She liked tarts made with
cream, and he preferred his with cheese. On this subject, regularly
for five years they daily at breakfast had a dispute, until, about
six months ago, the old man, having ate over much of his favourite
cheese-tarts, had an indigestion and died. He bequeathed one-fourth
of his wealth, the house which you saw, his furniture, his slaves, in
short, all that he could leave according to the Mohamedan law, to the
fair Shekerleb, now his disconsolate widow. With the advantages of
youth, beauty, and riches, you may be certain that she has not lived
without admirers; but she has wisdom and discretion beyond most young
women of her age, and hitherto has resisted forming any new tie,
resolving to wait until some good opportunity, to marry one whom she
might really love, and who would neither be swayed by interest nor

‘Living opposite to one of the most fashionable coffee-houses in the
city, she has had an opportunity of watching those who frequent it; and
without a compliment, I need not say that she soon distinguished you as
the handsomest amongst them, and indeed, as the man most to her fancy
whom she had ever seen. My brother,’ said the old woman, ‘is the
owner of the coffee-house, and as the opportunities of seeing him are
frequent, I requested him to inquire who you were; and to let me know
what sort of a character you bore. His report was such as highly pleased
my mistress; and we resolved to endeavour to make you notice us, and
if possible to get acquainted with you. You best know how we have
succeeded, and now will be able to judge whether I have rendered you a
service or not.’

Little did I expect to hear such a result when first the old woman
began her tale. I now felt like one who had received his reprieve after
condemnation. Instead of the mysteries, disguises, scaling of walls
and windows, drawn scimitars, and bloody wounds attendant on a Turkish
intrigue, I saw nothing before me but riches, ease, and repose from all
future care. I blessed my star; in short, I held my fortune to be made.
I was so transported at what I heard, that I made use of a thousand
incoherent expressions to my companion; I protested and vowed eternal
love to her mistress, and promised the most liberal remuneration to

‘But there is one circumstance,’ said she, ‘which my mistress has
ordered me to ascertain before she can receive you; which is, the
respectability of your family and the extent of your fortune. You must
know that her brothers and relations are very proud; and if she were
to make an unworthy alliance, they would treat her with the greatest
harshness, and not fail to ill-treat if not to make away with her

Although I was not prepared for this, yet such was the quickness with
which I had seized the whole extent of the good fortune awaiting me,
that with the same quickness I without hesitation said, ‘Family? Family,
did you say? Who is there that does not know Hajji Baba? Let him inquire
from the confines of Yemen to those of Irâk, and from the seas of Hind
to the shores of the Caspian, and his name will be well known.’

‘But who was your father?’ said the old woman.

‘My father?’ said I, after a pause; ‘he was a man of great power. More
heads came under his thumb, and he took more men with impunity by the
beard, than even the chief of the Wahabi himself.’

I had now gained sufficient time to arrange a little off-hand genealogy
for myself; and as ‘the old woman’s countenance expanded at what I had
said, I continued to speak to her after this manner:--

‘If your mistress wants high blood, then let her look to me. Be assured,
that she and her brothers, be they who they may, will never exceed me in
descent. Arab blood flows in my veins, and that of the purest kind. My
ancestor was a Mansouri Arab, from the province of Nejd in Arabia Felix,
who with the whole of his tribe was established by Shah Ismael of Persia
in some of the finest pastures of Irâk, and where they have lived ever
since. My great ancestor, _Kâtir, ben Khur, ben Asp, ben Al Madian_,
was of the tribe of Koreish, and that brought him in direct relationship
with the family of our blessed Prophet, from whom all the best blood of
Islam flows.’

‘Allah, Allah!’ exclaimed the old woman, ‘enough, enough. If you are all
this, my mistress wants no more. And if your riches are equal to your
birth, we shall be entirely satisfied.’

‘As for my riches,’ said I, ‘I cannot boast of much cash; but what
merchant ever has cash at command? You must know as well as myself, that
it is always laid out in merchandise, which is dispersed over different
parts of the world, and which in due time returns back to him with
increase. My Persian silks and velvets are now travelling into
Khorassan, and will bring me back the lambskins of Bokhara. My agents,
provided with gold and otter skins, are ready at Meshed to buy the
shawls of Cashmere, and the precious stones of India. At Astrakan, my
cotton stuffs are to be bartered against sables, cloth and glass ware;
and the Indian goods which I buy at Bassorah and send to Aleppo are to
return to me in the shape of skull-caps and shalli stuffs. In short,
to say precisely what I am worth, would be as difficult as to count the
ears in a field of wheat; but you may safely tell your mistress that
the man of her choice, whenever he gathers his wealth together, will
astonish her and her family by its extent.’

‘Praise be to Allah!’ said the confidant, ‘all is now as it should be,
and it only remains to make you acquainted with each other. You must not
fail to be at the corner of the street at night-fall, when, with all the
necessary precautions you will be introduced to the divine Shekerleb;
and if she approves of you, nothing will interpose to defer your
marriage and your happiness. There is only one piece of advice which I
have to give; that is, be sure to like cream-tarts, and to disapprove
of cheese ones. Upon every other topic she is liberal and without
prejudice. May Allah keep you in peace and safety!’

So saying, she drew up the lower part of her veil over her mouth; and
receiving two pieces of gold without a struggle, which I put into her
hand, she walked away, and left me again to my meditations.


He obtains an interview with the fair Shekerleb, makes a settlement upon
her, and becomes her husband.

I did not long remain at the foot of the tree, for I felt that much was
to be done before the time of assignation. It would be necessary to put
on an appearance of wealth, to have a purse well furnished, and a dress
suited to my character; and moreover, it quite behoved me to make my
person as acceptable as possible by going to the bath, and using all
the requisite perfumes. Frequently as I walked along did I apostrophize
myself in terms of the highest approbation. ‘Ahi Hajji, friend Hajji,’
would I exclaim, ‘by the beard of your father, and by your own soul, for
this once you have shown the difference between a fool and a sage. Well
done, thou descendant from the Mansouris! thou scion of the root of

Deeply pondering over my future destinies, at length I reached my
caravanserai. I saw the old Osman seated in one corner of our apartment,
calculating the profits of his merchandise, and in the other I observed
my bundle of pipe-sticks. The contrast which these ignoble objects
formed to the great schemes then planning in my mind struck me so
forcibly, that it affected my ordinary deportment, and gave a certain
tone of superiority to my manner which I had never before felt. I know
not whether it was noticed by Osman; but he seemed rather startled when
I asked him immediately to advance me fifty gold pieces, for which I
offered to deliver over my merchandise as security.

‘My son,’ said he, ‘what news is this? what can you want with so much
money, and in such haste? Are you mad, or are you become a gambler?’

‘God forgive me,’ answered I, ‘I am neither a madman nor a gambler. My
brain is in good order, and the world has taken me into favour; but give
me the money, and you will hear the rest hereafter.’

He did not longer hesitate to accede to my wishes, for he well knew the
value of my goods, and that the transaction could not fail to be safe
and profitable. So without further hesitation he counted out the money,
and I forthwith left him.

I immediately bought some very handsome additions to my wardrobe,
and proceeded without delay to the bath, where I went through all the
necessary lustrations, and attired myself like a man of the highest

By the time that my new arrangements were complete, the hour of
assignation had arrived, and with a beating heart I proceeded to the
place appointed.

I found the old woman waiting, and having looked well round to see that
nobody remarked us, she introduced me into the house through a door
situated in a remote corner.

I was charmed at the great ease and comfort which appeared to exist
throughout the whole establishment; for I now looked upon myself as lord
and master of all I saw. We had entered at once into the apartments kept
sacred for the use of the women, because it seems that the principal
entrance of the house had been but little used since the emir’s death,
out of reverence to his memory; and the same sort of mystery and
precaution in entering here was kept up as if the good man was still in
existence. Having passed through the small street-door, we entered into
a courtyard, in which was a fountain. We then ascended a wooden flight
of steps, at the top of which we found a cloth curtain, composed
of various colours, which being lifted up, I was introduced into an
ante-room, the only furniture of which consisted of women’s slippers and
a lamp. Four doors, which were now closed, opened upon this, and here
I was left to myself, whilst my old conductress shuffled off to
prepare her mistress for my reception. I heard voices in the different
apartments, the owners of which I presumed belonged to the slippers;
and imagined that many eyes were directed at me, for I could distinguish
them through the crannies. At length the door at the farthest angle was
opened, and I was beckoned to approach.

My heart beat within me as I stepped forwards, and covering myself close
with the flaps of my cloak, in order to show my respect, I entered a
room that was lighted up by only one lamp, which shed a soft and dubious
light over the objects within it. It was surrounded by a divan, covered
with the richest light blue satins fringed with gold, in one angle of
which, near the window, was seated the object of all my desires. She was
carefully veiled from head to foot, and all I could then distinguish of
her person was a pair of brilliant black eyes, that seemed to delight in
the anxious curiosity which they had roused in my features.

She pointed to me with her hand to be seated; but this I obstinately
refused, so anxious was I to show the depth of my respect and gratitude.
At length, when further resistance was useless, I took off my slippers,
and seated myself with a corner of my hip just resting upon the edge of
the sofa, keeping my hands covered with the sleeves of my garment, and
affecting a coyness and a backwardness, at which, now that I recollect
myself, I cannot help laughing.

After we had sat facing each other for some few minutes, little, except
commonplace compliments, having passed, my fair mistress ordered the old
Ayesha (for that was the name of my conductress) to leave the room, and
then leaning forwards, as if to take up her fan of peacock’s feathers,
which was on the cushion, she permitted her veil to fall, and exhibited
to my impatient eyes the most beautiful face that nature had ever

This was the signal for laying by all reserve, and I prostrated myself
before this divinity with all the adoration of a profound devotee, and
poured out such a rhapsody of love and admiration, as to leave no doubt
in her mind of the tenderness of my heart, the acuteness of my wit, and
the excellence of my taste. In short, the emir’s widow had every reason
to be satisfied with the choice she had made; and she very soon showed
the confidence which she intended to place in me, by making me at once
the depository of her secrets.

‘I am in a difficult situation,’ said she, ‘and the evil eye which many
cast upon me hath embittered my soul. You may conceive, that, owing to
the wealth with which I have been endowed by my late husband (upon
whom be eternal blessings!) and to my own dower besides, which was
considerable, I have been tormented with many persecutions, and they
have almost driven me mad. My relations all claim a right to me, as if
I were part of the family estate. My brothers have their own interest in
view when they would negotiate a husband for me, as if they would barter
a sack of wool against bags of rice. A nephew of my husband, a man of
the law, pretends to claim an old custom, by which, when a man died,
one of his relations had a right to his widow, which he might assert
by throwing his cloak over her. Another relation again pretends, that,
according to the law, I am not entitled to the whole of what I now
possess, and threatens to dispute it. In short, so sadly perplexed have
I been under these circumstances, I only saw one way to set the matter
at rest, which was to marry again. Fate has thrown you in my way, and I
am no longer at a loss.’

She then informed me of the arrangements she had made for our immediate
union, in case I was not averse to it, and referred me to a man of the
law, whom she had secured to act in her behalf, who would make out all
the proper papers, and whom she informed me was now in the house ready
to officiate. I was not prepared for quite so much dispatch, and felt my
heart misgive me, as if it were hovering between heaven and earth; but
I did not hesitate to reiterate my protestations of eternal love and
devotion, and said nothing to my intended but what seemed to overwhelm
her with delight.

So impatient was she of any delay, that she immediately ordered the old
Ayesha to conduct me to the man of the law, who was in attendance in a
small apartment, in a more distant part of the house. Besides himself
he had brought another, who, he informed me, would act as my vakeel or
trustee, such an intervention being necessary on the part of the man
as well as the woman; and then he exhibited before me the _akdnameh_
or marriage deed, in which he had already inscribed the dower of my
intended, consisting of her own property, and demanded from me what
additions it was my intention to make thereto.

I was again thrown back upon my ingenuity, and as the best answer I
could give, repeated what I had before said to Ayesha, namely, that a
merchant was uncertain of his wealth, which was dispersed in trade in
different parts of the world; but I did not hesitate to settle all that
I possessed upon my wife, provided such engagement were mutual.

‘That is very liberal,’ replied my wily scribe; ‘but we require
something more specific. As for instance, what do you possess here at
Constantinople? You cannot have come thus far, except for important
purposes. Settle the wealth which you can command upon the spot, be it
in cash, merchandise, or houses, and that will suffice for the present.’

‘Be it so,’ said I, putting the best face possible upon the demand. ‘Be
it so--let us see.’ Then appearing to calculate within myself what I
could command, I boldly said, ‘You may insert that I give twenty purses
in money and ten in clothes.’

Upon this, a communication took place between the emir’s widow and her
agent, for the purpose of informing her what were my proposals, and for
gaining her consent to them. After some little negotiation, the whole
was arranged to the apparent satisfaction of both parties, and our
different seals having been affixed to the documents, and the necessary
forms of speech having been pronounced by our different vakeels, the
marriage was declared lawful, and I received the compliments of all

I did not fail to reward the scribes before they were dismissed, and
also to send a very liberal donation to be distributed throughout the
household of my fair bride.

Then instead of returning to old Osman, and my pillow of pipe-sticks, I
retired, with all the dignity and consequence of the gravest Turk, into
the inmost recesses of my harem.


From a vender of pipe-sticks he becomes a rich Aga, but feels all the
inconvenience of supporting a false character.

I soon found that I had a very difficult part to perform. A Chinese
philosopher is said to have remarked, that if the operation of eating
was confined to what takes place between the mouth and the palate, then
nothing could be more pleasant, and one might eat for ever; but it is
the stomach, the digestive organs, and, in fact, the rest of the body,
which decide ultimately whether the said operation has been prejudicial
or healthful. So it is in marriage. If it were confined to what takes
place between man and wife, nothing more simple; but then come the ties
of relationship and the interests of families, and they decide much upon
its happiness or misery.

My fair spouse entertained me for several successive days after our
marriage with such manifold and intricate stories of her family, of
their quarrels and their makings-up, of their jealousies and their
hatreds, and particularly of their interested motives in their conduct
towards her, that she made me feel as if I might have got into a nest
of scorpions. She recommended that we should use the greatest
circumspection in the manner of informing her brothers of our marriage;
and remarked that although we were so far secure in being lawful man and
wife, still as much of our future happiness depended upon their goodwill
towards us (they being men of wealth, and consequently of influence in
the city), we ought to do everything in our power to conciliate them.
As a precautionary measure, she had spread a report that she was on the
point of being married to one of the richest and most respectable of the
Bagdad merchants, and in a conversation with one of her brothers, had
not denied, although she had abstained from confessing it to be the
case. She now requested that our marriage might be proclaimed, and to
that effect recommended that we should give an entertainment to all
her relations, and that no expense should be spared in making it as
magnificent as possible, in order that they might be convinced she had
not thrown herself away upon an adventurer, but, in fact, had made an
alliance worthy of them and of herself.

She found me ready in seconding her wishes, and I was delighted to have
so early an opportunity to make a display of our wealth. I began by
hiring a suite of servants, each of whom had their appropriate situation
and title. I exchanged the deceased emir’s family of pipes for others of
greater value, and of the newest fashion. In the same manner I provided
myself with a new set of coffee-cups, the saucers of which were
fashioned in the most expensive manner; some of filigreed gold, others
of enamel, and one or two, for my own particular use, inlaid with
precious stones. Then, as I had stepped into the emir’s shoes, I
determined to slip on his pelisses also. He was curious in the luxuries
of dress, for his wardrobe consisted of robes and furs of great value,
which his widow informed me had existed in his family for many years,
and which I did not now blush to adjust to my own shoulders. In short,
before the day of the entertainment came, I had time to set up an
establishment worthy of a great aga; and I do believe, although born a
barber, yet in look, manner, and deportment, no one could have acted a
part truer to my new character than I did.

But I must not omit to mention, that previously to the feast, I had not
failed to visit my new relations in all due form; and although I was
greatly anxious respecting the result of our meeting, yet when I rode
through the streets mounted on one of the emir’s fat horses, caparisoned
in velvet housings that swept the ground, and surrounded by a crowd of
well-dressed servants, my delight and exultation exceeded any feeling
that I had ever before experienced. To see the crowd make way, look up,
and lay their hands on their breast as I passed,--to feel and hear the
fretting and champing of my horse’s bit as he moved under me, apparently
proud of the burden he bore,--to enjoy the luxury of a soft and easy
seat, whilst others were on foot; in fine, to revel in those feelings of
consequence and consideration which my appearance procured, and not to
have been intoxicated, was more than mere humanity could withstand, and
accordingly I was completely beside myself. But what added most to
the zest of this my first exhibition, was meeting some of my own needy
countrymen in the streets, who had been my companions in the caravan
from Bagdad, and who, in their sheepskin caps and thin scanty cotton
garments, made but a sorry figure among the gaily dressed Osmanlies, and
seemed to stand forth expressly to make me relish in the highest degree
the good fortune with which I had been visited. Whether or no they
recognized me, I know not; but this I recollect, that I turned my head
on one side as I passed, and buried my face as well as I could in the
combined shade of my beard, great turban, and furred pelisse.

My visits succeeded better than I could have expected. Whatever might
have been the motives of my wife’s brothers, they behaved to me with
marked civility, and indeed flattered me into the belief that I had
conferred an honour on their family in taking their sister off their
hands. Merchants as they were, their conversation turned principally
upon trade, and I made my best endeavours to talk up to the character
I had assumed, and convinced them of the extent of my undertakings in
commerce. But, at the same time, great was my circumspection not to
commit myself; for when they began to question and cross-examine me upon
the trade of Bagdad and Bassorah, the relations of those cities and of
Arabia in general with India and China, and to propose joint concerns in
their various articles and produce, I immediately reduced my speech
to monosyllables, entrenched myself in general terms, and assented to
proposals which led to nothing.

Having completed my visits, I felt that one duty was still left, which
was, to make the good old Osman a partaker of my happiness, to inform
him of my marriage, and to invite him to our ensuing entertainment. But,
shall I own it? so much did I feel that I was acting a false part, and
so fearful was I of being detected, that I dared not trust even him,
taciturn as he naturally was, with my secret, and therefore determined
for the present to have no communication with him, or, in fact, with any
of my countrymen, until I could feel myself so securely fixed in my new
situation as to be fearless of being displaced.

[Illustration: Hajji curses Shekerleb and her relations. 37.jpg]


His desire to excite envy lays the foundation of his disgrace--He
quarrels with his wife.

The entertainment went off with the greatest success, and there was
every reason to suppose that I fully succeeded in making my guests
believe I was really the personage whom I pretended to be. I therefore
began to feel secure in my new possessions, and gave myself up to
enjoyment, associating with men of pleasure, dressing in the gayest
attire, and, in short, keeping a house that was the talk and envy of
the city. ’Tis true that I almost daily felt the inconvenience of being
indebted to my wife for such good fortune; for, notwithstanding the
previous assurances of the old Ayesha, I soon found that differences
of opinion would arise on many other subjects besides the comparative
delicacy of cream and cheese tarts. ‘Excellent man must that old emir
have been,’ frequently did I exclaim, ‘who could go through life with
only one subject of dispute with his wife! For my part, if there happens
to be two sides to a question, we are sure to appropriate them one in
opposition to the other.

I had long promised to myself the enjoyment of one of the principal
pleasures arising from my good fortune; I mean, the exhibition of
myself in all my splendour before my countrymen in the caravanserai,
and enjoying the astonishment which I should excite in the old Osman, my
former master.

Now, that all was safe, as I fully hoped, I could no longer resist the
temptation, and accordingly dressed myself in my best attire, mounted
the finest horse in my stable, gathered my whole suite of servants
about me, and in the very busiest hour of the day proceeded to the
caravanserai, in which, on my first arrival at Constantinople, I had
appeared as a vender of pipe-sticks. Upon entering the gate, no one
seemed to know me, but all were anxious to do me honour, hoping that
in me they might find a purchaser of their merchandise. I inquired for
Osman Aga, whilst my servants spread a beautiful Persian carpet for my
seat, and at the same time offered me one of my most costly amber-headed
chibouks to smoke. He came and seated himself, with all due respect, on
the edge of my carpet, without recognizing me. I talked to him without
reserve for some time, and remarked that he eyed me with looks of
peculiar interest, when at length, unable to restrain himself any
longer, he exclaimed, ‘By the beard of the blessed Mohammed, you are
either Hajji Baba, or you are nobody!’

I laughed with all my heart at his exclamation, and when we had mutually
explained, very soon related how I was situated, and to what profit
I had turned the fifty pieces of gold which he had lent me. His
philosophic mind did not appear so much elated with my change of fortune
as I had anticipated; but my countrymen, the Persians, as soon as they
heard that under that large turban and that heavy pelisse was seated
Hajji Baba, the once vender of little wares like themselves, and that
all that splendour and circumstance of horse, servants, and rich pipes
was attendant upon his person, their national feelings were awakened,
and they could neither contain their envy nor their malevolence.

I now, too late, discovered the mistake I had committed in showing
myself off in this manner, and would willingly have sneaked away without
further triumph.

‘What! is this Hajji Baba?’ said one, ‘the son of the Ispahan barber?
May his father’s grave be polluted, and his mother abused!’

‘Well acted, true child of Irân!’ said another; ‘you have done your
utmost with the Turk’s beard, and may others do the same with yours!’

‘Look at his great turban, and his large trousers, and his long pipe,’
said a third: ‘his father never saw such things, not even in a dream!’

In this manner did my envious countrymen taunt me, until, asserting all
my dignity, I rose from my seat, mounted my horse, and left the place
amidst their scoffs and expressions of contempt. My first sensation was
that of indignation at them, my second of anger at myself.

‘You have been rightly served,’ said I to myself, ‘by the soul of
Kerbelai Hassan, the barber! What well-fed hound ever went among wolves
without being torn to pieces? What fool of a townsman ever risked
himself amongst the wild Arabs of the desert without being robbed and
beaten? Perhaps Hajji may one day become a wise man, but plentiful is
the vexation he must eat first! Of what use is a beard,’ said I, taking
mine into my hand, ‘when an empty sconce is tied to the end of it? about
as much as a handle is to a basket without dates. Great wisdom had the
sage who declared that no man was ever pleased with the elevation of his
fellow, except perhaps when he saw him dangling on a gibbet!’

In this manner did I soliloquize until I reached my house, where, having
retired to the harem, I endeavoured to seek repose for the remainder of
the day, in order to chew the cud of my bitter reflections. But I was
mistaken; for, to add to my misery, Shekerleb, my wife, as if impelled
by some wicked demon, demanded that I should immediately advance her
the money inserted in the marriage settlement for clothes, and so worked
upon me by her very unreasonable entreaties, that, involving her in the
ill-humour in which I had continued against my own countrymen, I poured
forth the current of my feelings in language and gestures the most
violent. Curses upon them and maledictions upon her came from my lips in
horrid succession, until I, the once mild and patient Hajji, had become
more furious than a Mazanderan lion.

My wife at first was all astonishment, and, as she drew herself up at
the head of her slaves and handmaids, seconded by the old Ayesha, waited
with impatient silence for an opportunity to speak. At length, when
she had found utterance, her mouth appeared too small for the volume
of words which flowed from it. Her volubility unloosed the tongue of
Ayesha, and the old woman’s those of all the other women, until there
arose such a tempest of words and screams, all of which were directed
against me, that I was nearly overwhelmed.

I would have resisted, but I found it impossible. It raged with such
fury, that the room in which we all stood was not large enough to
contain us. I was the first to seek shelter, and made a retreat from my
harem amid the groans, the revilings, and the clapping of hands of the
beings within it, who, with my wife at their head, looked more like
maniacs than those fair creatures, in paradise, promised by our Prophet
to all true believers.

Tired, jaded, and distressed by my day’s adventures, I retired into
my own apartment, locked the door, and there, though surrounded by
and master of every luxury that man can enjoy, I felt myself the most
miserable of beings, detesting myself for my idiotical conduct in the
present posture of my affairs, and full of evil forebodings for the
future. The inconveniences of lying now stared me full in the face.
I felt that I was caught in my own snare; for if I endeavoured to
extricate myself from my present dilemma by telling more lies, it was
evident that at the end I should not fail to be entirely entangled.

‘Would to Heaven,’ did I exclaim, ‘that I had been fair and candid at
first; for now I should be free as air, and my wife might have stormed
until the day of judgement, without being a single shift the better for
it; but I am bound by writings, sealed and doubly sealed, and I must
ever and shall stand before the world a liar both by word and deed.’

[Illustration: Hajji disrobes. 38.jpg]


He is discovered to be an impostor, loses his wife, and the wide world
is again before him.

I passed a feverish night, and did not fall asleep until the muezzins
from the minarets had announced the break of day. Scarcely had an hour
elapsed, ere I was awoke by an unusual stir, and then was informed by
one of my servants that my wife’s brothers, attended by several other
persons, were in the house.

Involuntarily, upon hearing this, I was seized with a trembling, which
at first deprived me of all power of action, and the consequences of
lying now spoke for themselves. Fifty horrors, one more hideous than the
other, rose in my mind, and I began to feel a tingling in the soles
of my feet, which the lapse of years had not been able to dispel, so
impressive had been the lesson received at Meshed. ‘But, after all,’
I reflected, ‘Shekerleb is my wife, happen what may; and if I have
pretended to be richer than is really the case, I have only done what
thousands before me have done also.’ I then turned to my servant, and
said, ‘In the name of the Prophet let them come in; and make ready the
pipes and coffee.’

My bed was then rolled up and carried out of the room, and my visitors
one after the other in silent procession walked in, and seated
themselves on my divan. They consisted of my wife’s two brothers, of her
late father’s brother, and his son, and of a stern-looking man whom I
had never before seen. These were seated; but, besides, a numerous train
of servants followed, who stood in a row at the end of the room, amongst
whom, standing foremost, were two ruffian-like looking fellows armed
with heavy canes, eyeing me as I thought with peculiar fierceness.

I endeavoured to appear as innocent and undisturbed as possible, and
pretended the greatest delight at seeing them. Having made them every
civil speech which I could devise, to which indeed I received nothing
but monosyllables for answers, I ordered pipes and coffee, at the
partaking of which I hoped to acquire some insight into the object of
their visit.

‘May your hours be fortunate!’ said I to the elder brother. ‘Is there
anything at this early time of the day in which I can be of use? If
there is, command me.’

‘Hajji,’ said he, after an ominous pause, ‘look at me! Do you take us
for animals, without understanding, without common sense? or do you
look upon yourself as the man of his day without compare, specially
privileged to take the beards of humankind into your hand, and to do
what you like with them?’

‘What is this that you say?’ I replied. ‘O my Aga! I am nobody and
nothing; I am less than an ounce of dust.’

‘Man!’ said the second brother, in a warmer tone of voice, ‘nobody and
nothing, do you say? then what have you made of us? Are we nothing, that
you should come all this distance from Bagdad to make us dance like apes
at your bidding?’

‘Oh, Allah, great and good!’ exclaimed I, ‘what is all this? Why do you
speak after this manner? What have I done? Speak, and speak truth!’

‘Ah, Hajji, Hajji!’ said my wife’s uncle, shaking his head and grey
beard at the same time, ‘you have been eating much abomination! Could
a man who has seen the world like you, suppose that others will eat it
with you, and say, thanks be to Allah! No, no--we may eat, but will not
digest your insolence.

‘But what have I done, O my uncle?’ said I to him; ‘by my soul, speak!’

‘What have you done?’ said my wife’s cousin. ‘Is lying nothing? is
stealing nothing? is marrying a wife under false pretences nothing? You
must be a rare man without shame to call such acts nothing!’

‘Perhaps,’ said the eldest brother, ‘you think it a great honour which
the son of an Ispahan barber confers upon one of the richest families of
Constantinople, when he marries their daughter!’

‘And perhaps,’ said the other, ‘you may look upon a beggarly vender
of pipe-sticks in the light of a merchant, and think him worthy of any

‘But Hajji, praise be to Allah! is a great merchant,’ said the uncle
ironically: ‘his silks and velvets are now on their way to bring us
lambskins from Bokhara; his shawls are travelling to us from Cashmere,
and his ships are blackening the surface of the seas between China and

‘And his parentage,’ continued his son in the same strain, ‘a barber’s
son did you say? forbid it, Allah! No, no; he dates from the Koreish. He
is not even the descendant, but, by the blessing of God, of the ancestry
of the Prophet; and who can come in competition with a Mansouri Arab?’

‘What is all this?’ again and again did I exclaim, as I saw the storm
gathering about my ears. ‘If you want to kill me, do so; but do not pull
off my skin by inches.’

‘I tell you what is it, man without faith,’ said the stern man, who
hitherto had remained immovable; ‘you are a wretch who deserves not
to live! and if you do not immediately give up all pretensions to your
wife, and leave this house and everything that belongs to it, without
a moment’s delay, do you see those men’ (pointing to the two ruffians
before mentioned); ‘they will just make your soul take leave of your
body as easy as they would knock the tobacco out of their pipes. I have
spoken, and you are master to act as you please.’

Then the whole of the assembly, as if excited by this speech, unloosed
their tongues at once, and, without reserve of words or action, told me
a great number of disagreeable truths.

This storm, which I permitted to rage without opening my lips, gave me
time for reflection, and I determined to try what a little resistance
would do.

‘And who are you,’ said I to the stern man, ‘who dares come into my
house, and treat me as your dog? As for these,’ pointing to my wife’s
relations, ‘the house is theirs, and they are welcome; but you, who
are neither her father, her brother, nor her uncle, what have you to do
here? I neither married your daughter, nor your sister, and therefore
what can it be to you who I am?’

All this while he seemed swelling with rage. He and his ruffians were
curling up their mustachios to the corners of their eyes, and eyeing me,
as the lion does the hind, before he pounces upon it.

‘Who am I?’ said he with a voice of anger. ‘If you want to know, ask
those who brought me here. I and my men act from authority, which if you
dispute, it will be the worse for you.’

‘But,’ said I, softening my tone, for I now found that they were
officers of the police, ‘but if you insist upon separating me from my
wife, to whom I have been lawfully married, give me time to consult the
men of the law. Every son of Islâm has the blessed Koran as his refuge,
and ye would not be such infidels as to deprive me of that? Besides, I
have not been told yet that she agrees to what you propose. She first
sought me out; I did not seek her. She wooed me for my own sake, not for
any worldly interest; and when I accepted her I knew her not, neither
had I any tidings of either her wealth or her family. The whole has been
the business of predestination, and if ye are Mussulmans, will ye dare
to oppose that?’

‘As to the wishes of Shekerleb upon the subject,’ said the eldest
brother, ‘make your mind easy. She desires a separation more even than
we do.’

‘Yes, yes, in the name of the Prophet, yes, let him go in peace. For the
sake of Allah, let us be free,’ and fifty other such exclamations, all
at once struck my ear; and on looking to the door which led into the
women’s apartments, from whence the sound came, I beheld my women
veiled, headed by my wife, who had been conducted there on purpose to
give evidence against me, and who all seemed possessed by so many evil
spirits, shouting and wailing out their lamentations and entreaties for
my dismissal, as if I were the wicked one in person to be exorcised from
the house.

Finding that all was over with me, that it was in vain to contend
against a power I could not withstand, stranger and unprotected as I
was in a foreign land, I put the best face I could upon my forlorn
situation, and getting up from my seat, I exclaimed, ‘If it is so, be
it so. I neither want Shekerleb nor her money, nor her brothers, nor her
uncle, nor anything that belongs to them, since they do not want me; but
this I will say, that they have treated me in a manner unworthy of the
creed and name of Mussulmans. Had I been a dog among the unbelievers, I
should have been treated better. From the bottom of my heart I believe
that the same punishment which shall be inflicted, on the last day,
upon those who reject our Holy Prophet, shall be inflicted upon my
oppressors.’ I then, with great emphasis, pronounced the following
sentence against them, as near as my memory would serve me, from the
blessed Koran:--‘They shall have garments of living fire, fitted tight
upon them; boiling water shall be poured over them; their bowels and
skins shall be dissolved, and, in this state, they be beaten with red
hot maces of iron, and flogged with whips, whose lashes are made of
lightnings, and the noise of which shall be claps of thunder.’

Upon this, roused and excited as I was with the speech I had made, I
stood in the middle of the room, and divested myself of every part of
my dress which had belonged to my wife, or which I might have purchased
with her money. Throwing down every article from me, as if it had been
abomination, and then calling for an old cloak which had originally
belonged to me, I threw it over my shoulders and made my exit,
denouncing a curse upon the staring assembly I left behind me.


An incident in the street diverts his despair--He seeks consolation in
the advice of old Osman.

When I had got into the street I walked hastily on without, for some
time, heeding whither I was bending my steps. My breast was convulsed by
a thousand contending passions; and so nearly had I lost possession of
my reason, that, when in sight of the sea, I began seriously to consider
whether it would not be wisdom to throw myself headlong in.

But, crossing a large open space, an occurrence happened which, however
trifling it may appear, was of great consequence to me, inasmuch as it
turned the current of my thoughts into a new channel, and saved me from
destruction. I was witness to one of those dog fights so frequently seen
in the streets of Constantinople. A dog had strayed into the territory
of another community, had infringed their rights, and stolen a bone.
Immediately an immense uproar ensued; all were on foot, and in full cry,
and the strange dog was chased across the border into his own territory.
Here, meeting some of his own friends, he called them about him,
returned to the attack, and a general engagement ensued as I was

While I stood by, intent upon the scene, a thought struck me, and I
exclaimed, ‘Allah, oh Allah, how inscrutable are thy designs! and how
little ought man, narrow-minded, short-sighted man, ever to repine at
thy decrees! Thou throwest into my path a lesson, which teaches me the
way that I should go, and that assistance is ever at hand to those who
will seek it; and, though given by a dog, let me not despise it. No,
am I to be surprised at anything, when I see animals, without reason,
acting like men, with it? Let me not be cast down, but rather retreat to
where I may still find a friend, and seek consolation in his advice and

Upon this, I turned almost mechanically to where I knew I should find my
faithful friend and adviser, the old Osman, who, although a Turk and a
Sûni, had always behaved to me as if he had been my countryman, and
one of my own religious persuasion. He received me in his usual quiet
manner; and when I had related all my misfortunes, he puffed out a long
volume of smoke from his never-failing chibouk, and exclaimed, with a
deep sigh, ‘_Allah kerim!_ (God is merciful!)’

‘My friend,’ said he, ‘when you appeared here in all your magnificence
before the Persians, from that moment I was apprehensive that some evil
would befall you. You perhaps are yet not old enough to have learnt how
odious are comparisons. Could you for a moment suppose, that men, in
your own station in life, who are drudging on, day after day, intent
upon the sale of a pipestick or a bag of Shiraz tobacco, that they could
bear to be bearded by an appearance of greatness and prosperity, so much
beyond anything which they could ever expect to attain? Had you appeared
with a better coat or a richer cap than they, or had you been mounted on
a horse, when they could only afford an ass, then, perhaps, nothing
more would have been said, but that you were more expert in making your
fortune, and a better retailer of your wares. But to crush, to beat them
down, with your magnificent dress, your amber-headed pipes, your train
of servants, your richly caparisoned horse, and, above all, the airs of
grandeur and protection which you took upon yourself, was more than they
could allow, and they immediately rose in hostility, and determined to
bring you down to their own level again, if possible. Evidently, it is
they who have whispered into the ear of your wife’s brothers that you
were not a Bagdad merchant, but only the son of an Ispahan barber, and
a sorry vender of little wares. They, doubtless, soon undeceived them
respecting the possibility of fulfilling the stipulations to which you
have bound yourself in your wife’s marriage contract; and they, it is
plain, have commented freely upon your pretensions to noble birth, and
upon the flourishing account which you gave of your mercantile concerns,
of your transactions in Bokhara, and of your ships sailing to China. Had
you first visited me in a quiet way, as Hajji Baba, the Ispahani, and
not as Hajji Baba, the Turkish Aga, I would have warned you against
making an undue exhibition of yourself and your prosperity before your
countrymen; but the mischief was done as soon as the deed was over,
and now all that can be recommended is, that from the past you gain
experience for the future.’ After this speech he took to his pipe again,
and puffed away with redoubled vigour.

‘This may be very true,’ said I. ‘What is done, is done, and peace abide
with it: but, after all, I am a Mussulman, and justice is due to me as
well as to another. I never heard of a woman putting away her husband,
although the contrary frequently happens; and it has not yet reached my
understanding why I should be the only true believer who is called
into the house, and thrust out of it again, in a manner that would even
disgrace a dog, merely because it suits a capricious woman one morning
to like, and the evening after to dislike, me. Cadies, mufties,
sheikh-el-islams, abound here as well as in other Mohamedan cities,
and why should I not have recourse to them? They are paid to administer
justice, and wherefore should they sit, with their hands across,
counting their beads, when such injustice as that, with which I have
been visited, is going about the land seeking for redress?’

‘Are you mad, Hajji’, rejoined the old man, ‘to think of redress from
the widow and relations of one of the most powerful emirs of Islam, and
that, too, when she is supported by her brothers, two of the richest
merchants in Constantinople? Where have you lived all your lifetime, not
to know, that he who hath most gold hath most justice? and that, if such
a man as you were to appear before the tribunal of the mufti, with every
word, line, leaf, and surai of the Koran in your favour, and one as rich
and powerful as your wife’s brother were to appear on the other side
against you, as long as he had gold in his favour, you might appeal
to your sacred book until you and it were tired of walking round each
other, for justice you would never obtain.’

‘O, Ali! O, Mohammed!’ exclaimed I, ‘if the world is indeed as
iniquitous as this, then Hajji Baba, truly, has made a bad bargain, and
I wish he were again in possession of his pipesticks: but I cannot, and
will not, lose all and everything in this easy manner,--I will go and
proclaim my misfortunes from the housetop, rather.’

Upon which, in utter despair, I began to cry and moan, and pulled out
some of my beard by the roots.

Osman Aga endeavoured to comfort me,--made me look back upon my past
life, and brought to my recollection our mutual adventures while
prisoners among the Turcomans.

‘God is all-powerful and all-merciful,’ said he. ‘Our destinies are
written in the book, and therefore what is there left, but to submit?’

‘But I am a Persian,’ exclaimed I (a new thought having crossed my
mind), ‘as well as a Mussulman; why, therefore, should I submit to
injustice from a Turk? We are, after all, a nation, and have had our
Jinghizs, our Timours, and our Nadirs, who made our name respected
throughout the world, and who burnt the fathers of the Turks wherever
they could find them. I will seek our ambassador, and, if he be a man,
he will insist upon justice being done me. Yes, yes! the ambassador
shall get back my wife; (oh, lucky thought!) and then we shall see who
will take her from me again.’

So elated was I by this idea, that I did not stop to hear what Osman
might have to say on the subject, but immediately sallied forth, full of
fresh spirits and vigour, to seek out the representative of our King
of Kings, who, at the best of all fortunate hours, had very recently
arrived on a mission to the Sublime Porte.

[Illustration: Hajji relates his story to Mirza Firouz. 39.jpg]


In endeavouring to gain satisfaction from his enemies he acquires a
friend--Some account of Mirza Firouz.

Upon inquiry I found that the ambassador had been provided with a
residence at Scutari, and thither I immediately bent my course, happy to
have the time which I should pass in the boat at my disposal, in order
to arrange my ideas for the purpose of making out a clear and strong
case of complaint.

Having landed, I inquired the way to his house, the avenues of which
were thronged by his numerous servants, who reminded me of my country
(so different from that in which we were) by their loquaciousness and
quick gesticulation.

They soon found by my discourse, that I was one of them, although
disguised by a Turkish dress, and without any difficulty I was promised
immediately to be ushered into the presence of their master. But
previously to this, I was anxious to acquire some little insight into
his character, in order that I might shape my discourse accordingly; and
therefore entered into conversation with one of his valets, who did not
scruple to talk fully and unreservedly upon every topic upon which I
required information.

The result of my inquiries was as follows:--The ambassador, by name
Mirza Firouz, was by birth a Shirazi, of respectable though not of high
parentage, excepting in the instance of his mother, who was sister to a
former grand vizier of great power, who, in fact, had been the means
of placing the Shah upon his throne. The Mirza married his cousin, a
daughter of the said vizier; and this led to his being employed in the
government, though he had previously undergone many vicissitudes, which
had caused him to travel into various countries. This circumstance,
however, was one of the reasons of his being selected by the Shah to
transact his business at foreign courts. ‘He is a man of a quick and
penetrating mind,’ said my informant: ‘irascible, but easy to soothe, of
a tender and forgiving nature, although in his first anger led to commit
acts of violence. He is gifted with the most overwhelming powers of
speech, which always are sure to get him out of the scrapes into which
his indiscreet use of them very frequently leads him. To his servants
and followers he is kind and the contrary, by turns. Sometimes he
permits them to do and say everything which they choose, at others, he
keeps them at a most chilling distance. But, on the whole, he is easy
of access, of agreeable commerce, of most fascinating manners, and of a
joyous and sociable nature.’

Such was the man into whose presence I was conducted. He was seated in a
corner, after the manner of Persia; therefore I could not ascertain
what his height might be, but his bust was extremely fine. His head was
symmetrically placed on his shoulders, which were blended in an easy
curve with his neck; whilst his tight dress helped to give great breadth
to his breast. His face was one of the handsomest I had ever seen
amongst my countrymen, his nose aquiline, his eyes large and sparkling,
his teeth and mouth exquisite, and his beard the envy of all beholders.
In short, as a specimen of the country he represented, none could have
been better selected.

When we had interchanged our greetings as true believers, he said to me,
‘Are you an Irani?’

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘so please you.’

‘Then why in looks an Osmanli?’ said he. ‘Praise be to Allah, that we
have a king and a country of whom no one need be ashamed.’

‘Yes,’ answered I, ‘your ordonnances are truth, and I am become less
than a dog, since I have put on the airs of a Turk. My days have been
passed in bitterness, and my liver has melted into water, since I have
entangled myself by a connexion with this hated people; and my only
refuge is in God and you.’

‘How is this?’ said he: ‘speak. Has a child of Ispahan (for such you are
by your accent) been taken in by a Turk? This is wonderful indeed! We
travel all this way to make them feed upon our abomination, not to learn
to eat theirs.’

I then related the whole of my adventures from the beginning to the
end. As I proceeded he seemed wonderfully interested. When I got to
my marriage he became much amused, and roared with laughter at
the settlements I had made on my wife. The account I gave of the
entertainment, the respect with which I was treated, my magnificence and
grandeur, afforded him great delight; and the more I descanted upon the
deception which I had practised upon the cows of Turks, as he called
them, the more interest he took in my narrative, which he constantly
interrupted by his exclamations, ‘Aye, well done, oh Ispahani! Oh! thou
bankrupt! By Allah! You did well! If I had been there, I could not have
done better.’

But when I informed him of the manner I had been served by my envious
countrymen, of the finishing scene in my own house, of the screams of my
women, of the speeches of my wife’s relations,--and when I represented
the very words, look, and attitude with which I made my exit, far from
having produced the sympathy I expected, his mirth was excited to such
a degree, that I thought the veins in his forehead would have burst; and
he actually rolled himself on his sofa in the convulsions of laughter.

‘But may it please you to consider,’ said I, ‘oh my aga! the situation
in which I am now placed. Instead of the bed of roses upon which I
slept, I have not even a pillow whereon to lay my head. As for the
horses and velvet which I used to bestride, happy should I now be could
I claim even an ass for my own. And when I call to mind the luxuries
in which I revelled, my rich dresses, my splendid horses, my train of
servants, my marble baths, my pipes, my coffee-cups--in short, what
shall I say, my everything a man could wish for, and now find myself a
beggar--conceive the bitter recollections which prey upon me, and which
excite anything but laughter in my breast, whatever they may do in

‘But those Turks, those heavy buffaloes of Turks,’ roared he, still
screaming with laughter; ‘praise be to Allah! I can see them now with
their long beards, their great caps, and their empty heads, believing
all that the sharp-witted madman of Persia chose to tell them, and they
would have gone on believing, had they not been undeceived by a similar
species of madman.

‘But what have I to do in the business?’ said he to me. ‘I am neither
your father nor your uncle, to interfere and make it up with your wife’s
relations; nor am I a cadi, or a mufti, who can judge the case between

‘No,’ answered I; ‘but you are my refuge here, and the representative
of God’s vicegerent upon earth; and you can see justice done me, and not
let a poor unfriended stranger be oppressed.’

‘But would you get back possession of your wife,’ said he, ‘and stand a
chance of being murdered? Of what good would all your riches be, if the
day after repossessing them you were found dead in your bed? No, no;
lend me your ear, and hearken to good council. Throw off your Turkish
clothes, and be a Persian again; and when in your proper character, I
will keep you in mind, and see what may be done for you. Your story has
interested me, your wit and manner are agreeable, and believe me that
many better things are to be done in the world than to smoke a long pipe
all day, with no other object in life than to sleep upon a bed of roses,
and to ride a fat horse. In the meanwhile, take up your quarters here;
look upon yourself as one of my suite for the present, and whenever I
wish to be merry you shall come and relate your story over again.’

Upon this I went up to him, kissed his knee in token of acknowledgement,
and retired, scarcely knowing what steps to take in this unsettled
posture of my affairs.


He becomes useful to an ambassador, who makes him a partaker of his

Necessity, so the poet sayeth, ‘is as a strong rider with sharp
stirrups, who maketh the sorry jade do that which the strong horse
sometimes will not do.’

I was disappointed, vexed, and mortified. My hopes of living a life of
ease and enjoyment had disappeared, and I once more saw myself obliged
to have recourse to my own ingenuity to keep me from starvation.

‘If I have lost a home,’ said I, ‘see I have found a friend. Let me not
reject his proffered protection; and the same powerful destiny which
has led me on step by step through the labyrinth of life will doubtless
again take me by the hand, and perhaps at length safely land me where I
shall no longer be perplexed respecting the path I ought to pursue.’

I determined to make the most of my access to the ambassador; and
happy was I to find, that the liking which he had taken to me at first
sensibly, though gradually, increased during our succeeding interviews.
He made use of me to acquire information, and conversed freely upon the
business of his government, and upon matters connected with his mission.

Having all my life been taken up in making my own fortune, I had turned
my mind but little to public events. Of the nations of the world I
scarcely knew any but my own and the Turks. By name only the Chinese,
the Indians, the Affghans, the Tartars, the Cûrds, and the Arabs were
known to me; and of the Africans I had some knowledge, having seen
different specimens of them as slaves in our houses. Of the Franks,--the
Russians (if such they may be called) were those of whom we had the most
knowledge in Persia, and I had also heard of the Ingliz and the Franciz.
When I reached Constantinople, I was surprised to hear that many more
Frank nations existed besides the three above mentioned; but still
occupied with my own affairs, I acquired but little knowledge concerning

Now that I was thrown into the ambassador’s society, my ideas took a
new turn, and hearing matters discussed which had never even reached
my understanding, I became more inquisitive. He seemed pleased to have
found in me one who took interest in his views, and at length let me
entirely into his confidence.

One morning, having received letters from his court, he called me to
him, said that he wished for some private conversation, and accordingly
ordered every one to depart from before him except myself.

He made me sit, and then in a low voice said, ‘Hajji, I have long wished
to speak to you. Those who compose my suite, between you and me, do
not possess the sort of understanding I require. ’Tis true, they are
Persians, and are endowed with more wit than all the world beside; but
in affairs of the _dowlet_ (the state), they are nothing, and rather
impede than forward the business upon which I have been sent. Now,
praise be to Allah! I see that you are not one of them. You are much of
a man, one who has seen the world and its business, and something may
come from out of your hands. You are a man who can make play under
another’s beard, and suck the marrow out of an affair without touching
its outside. Such I am in want of, and if you will devote yourself to
me, and to our Shah, the King of Kings, both my face as well as your own
will be duly whitewashed; and, by the blessings of our good destinies,
both our heads will touch the skies.’

‘Whatever is of my strength,’ replied I, ‘is at your service. I am your
slave and your servant, and I myself will place my own ear into your
hand. Order and command me: by my head and eyes, I am ready.’

‘Perhaps you have heard it reported in the world,’ said he, ‘that the
object of my mission is to buy women slaves for the Shah, to see them
instructed in dancing, music, and embroidery, and to purchase spangled
silks and other luxuries for the royal harem; but that is of course
a blind for the multitude. I am not an ambassador for such miserable
purposes: no, my business is of greater import; and our king, whose
penetration is as searching as lightning itself, does not select men to
transact his affairs without very substantial reasons. He has chosen me,
and that’s enough. Now hearken to what I shall tell you.

‘But a few months ago an ambassador from Europe arrived at the Gate of
Empire, Tehran, and said he was sent by a certain Boonapoort, calling
himself Emperor of the French nation, to bring a letter and presents to
the Shah. He exhibited full powers, by which his words were to be
looked upon as his master’s, and his actions as his actions; and he
also affirmed, that he had full instructions to make a treaty. He held
himself very high indeed, and talked of all other nations of Franks as
dirt under his feet, and not worth even a name. He promised to make the
Russians restore their conquests in Georgia to us, to put the Shah in
possession of Teflis, Baadkoo, Derbent, and of all which belonged to
Persia in former times. He said, that he would conquer India for us, and
drive the English from it; and, in short, whatever we asked he promised
to be ready to grant.

‘Now, ’tis true, we had heard of the French before, and knew that they
made good cloth and rich brocades; but we never heard that they could do
all this ambassador proclaimed.

‘Something we had heard also of their attacking Egypt, for coffee and
khenna had become dear in consequence; and it was in the recollection
of one of our old khans of the Seffi family, that an ambassador from a
certain Shah Louis of France had been seen at the court of Shah Sultan
Hosein; but how this Boonapoort had become Shah, not a single man
in Persia could explain. The Armenian merchants, who travel into all
countries, affirmed, that to their knowledge such a person in fact did
exist, and that he was a great breeder of disturbance; and it was from
what they said and from other circumstances, that the Shah agreed to
receive his ambassador; but whether the papers which he exhibited,
written in characters that no one could read, were true or false, or
whether all he said was to the purpose or not, who was to say? Our
viziers, great and small, knew nothing of the matter; our Shah, who (may
Allah preserve him) knows everything under the sun, he had no knowledge
of it; and excepting one Coja Obed, an Armenian, who had been to
Marsilia, a town in France, where he had been shut up in a prison for
forty days,[87] and one Narses, a priest of that nation, who had studied
in a convent of dervishes somewhere in those countries, we had no one at
the gate of the King of Kings who could let any light into the chambers
of our brain, or who could in the least explain whether this Boonapoort
or his representative were impostors or not,--whether they were come to
take our caps from off our heads, or to clothe us with the kalaats of
good fortune.

‘However, we were not very long in doubt; for when the English infidels
who trade between India and Persia, some of whom reside at Abusheher,
heard of the arrival of this ambassador, they immediately sent off
messengers, letters, and an agent, to endeavour to impede the reception
of this Frenchman, and made such extraordinary efforts to prevent his
success, that we soon discovered much was to be got between the rival

‘“By my crown,” exclaimed the Shah, “all this cometh from the ascendant
of my good stars. Here sit I upon my throne, whilst the curs of
uncleanness come from the north and the south, from the east and west,
bringing me vast presents for the liberty of fighting and quarrelling at
the foot of it. In the name of the Prophet, let them approach!”

‘When I left the imperial gate, an ambassador from the English was
expected, and the letters which I have just received are full of the
circumstances of his proposed reception, and the negotiations on foot
concerning it, but the Shah cannot well enter upon them before he
hears from me; because, having been informed that specimens of all the
different European nations were to be seen at Constantinople, each
of whom had an ambassador, there, he, in his wisdom, has judged it
expedient to dispatch me hither, to obtain all the information of which
we are so much in want, to clear up every doubt that exists in Persia
about the French and English, and if possible to find out whether all
they say of themselves be true or false.

‘Now, Hajji’ said the ambassador, ‘I am only one man, and this is a
business, as I have found out, sufficient for fifty. The Franks are
composed of many, many nations. As fast as I hear of one hog, another
begins to grunt, and then another and another, until I find that there
is a whole herd of them. As I told you before, those who compose my
suite are not men to help me in research, and I have cast my eyes upon
you. From your exertions I expect much. You must become acquainted with
some infidels; you understand the Turkish language, and they will be
able to inform you of much that we want to know. I will furnish you with
a copy of the Shah’s instructions to me upon that head, which you will
lock up of course in the secret corners of your brain, and which will be
your guide upon what we wish to acquire. And until that be done, go,
sit in a corner, and make one long and deep thought upon the plan of
operations that we ought to pursue.’

Upon this he dismissed me, and I left him with new prospects of
advancement in the career of life.


Of his first essays in public life, and of the use he was to his

As soon as the ambassador had furnished me with an extract of his
_vakayeh nameh_, or his instructions, I walked out to an adjacent
cemetery to read it over undisturbed. I kept the paper carefully folded
in the lining of my cap, and as it was my first initiation into public
business, the principal contents of it have remained in my memory
through life.

The ambassador was, in the first place, enjoined to discover, in truth,
what was the extent of that country called Frangistan; and if the Shah,
known in Persia by the name of the _Shahi Frank_, or king of the Franks,
actually existed, and which was his capital.

In the second place, he was ordered to discover how many _Ils_,
or tribes of Franks, there were; whether they were divided into
_Shehernisheens_ and _Sahranisheens_, inhabitants of towns and dwellers
in the desert, as in Persia, who were their khans, and how governed.

Thirdly, to inquire what was the extent of France, whether it was a
tribe of the Franks or a separate kingdom, and who was the infidel
Boonapoort, calling himself emperor of that country.

In the fourth place, his attention was to be turned particularly to
what regarded the Ingliz, who had long been known in Persia, by means
of their broadcloth, watches, and penknives. He was to inquire what
description of infidels they were, whether they lived in an island
all the year round, without possessing any _kishlak_ (warm region) to
migrate to in the summer, and whether most of them did not inhabit ships
and eat fish; and if they did live there, how it happened that they had
obtained possession of India; and he was to clear up that question so
long agitated in Persia, how England and London were connected, whether
England was part of London, or London part of England?

In the fifth place, he was commanded to bring positive intelligence
of who and what the _Coompani_ was, of whom so much was said,--how
connected with England,--whether an old woman, as sometimes reported,
or whether it consisted of many old women; and whether the account which
was credited of its never dying, like the lama of Thibet, were not a
fable. He was also enjoined to clear up certain unintelligible accounts
of the manner in which England was governed.

In the sixth place, some positive information concerning _Yengi duniah_,
or the New World, was much wanted, and he was to devote part of his
attention to that subject.

Lastly, he was ordered to write a general history of the Franks, and to
inquire what would be the easiest method of making them renounce pork
and wine, and converting them to the true and holy faith, that is, to
the religion of Islâm.

Having well pondered over this paper, I considered that it would be easy
to get it answered through the means of a _katib_, or scribe, attached
to the then Reis Effendi, and with whom, during the short gleam of
splendour and riches which had shone upon me, I had formed a great
intimacy. I knew the coffee-house he frequented, and the hour he was
most likely to be found there; and although he was not much addicted
to talking, yet I hoped, as he sipped his coffee and smoked his pipe
(particularly if I treated him), his heart might expand, and I might
obtain his real opinion.

Full of this idea, I immediately imparted it to the ambassador, who
seemed so delighted, that he at once did me the honour to take all the
merit of it to himself.

‘Did not I tell you so?’ exclaimed he; ‘did I not say that you were a
man of ingenuity? Acknowledge, then, that I am not without penetration;
own, that it requires a sharp discernment to discover at once where
abilities lie; and that had it not been for me, we should never have
discovered this katib, who is to tell us everything, and thus fulfil the
instructions of the Asylum of the Universe.’

He then empowered me, if I found it necessary, to promise him a present,
by which means, should there be any deficiency in his information, he
might perhaps succeed in obtaining it from the fountain head, namely,
the Reis Effendi himself.

I went to the coffee-house at the proper time, and there found my
friend. I approached him with great demonstrations of friendship; and
calling to the waiting man, ordered some best Yemen coffee, which
was served up as we sat one opposite the other. In the course of
conversation he pulled out his watch, when I seized the opportunity of
introducing my subject.

‘That is an European watch,’ said I, ‘is it not?’

‘Yes, truly,’ said he; ‘there are none in the world beside.’

‘Wonderful,’ answered I,--‘those Franks must be an extraordinary

‘Yes,’ said he, ‘but they are kafirs’ (infidels).

‘In the name of Allah,’ taking my pipe from my mouth and putting it into
his, ‘tell me something respecting them. This Frangistan, is it a large
country? Where does its king reside?’

‘What say you, friend?’ answered he; ‘a large country, do you ask?
A large country indeed, not governed by one king alone, but by many

‘But I have heard,’ said I, ‘it is composed of many tribes, all having
different names and different chiefs; still begin, in fact, but one

‘You may call them one nation if you choose,’ said he, ‘and perhaps such
is the case, for they all shave their chins, let their hair grow, and
wear hats,--they all wear tight clothes,--they all drink wine, eat pork,
and do not believe in the blessed Mahomed. But it is plain they are
governed by many kings; see the numerous ambassadors who flock here to
rub their foreheads against the threshold of our Imperial Gate. So many
of these dogs are here that it is necessary to put one’s trust in the
mercies of Allah, such is the pollution they create.’

‘In the name of the Prophet speak on,’ said I, ‘and I will write. Praise
be to Allah! you are a man of wisdom.’ Upon which, whilst I took out my
inkstand from my girdle, and composed myself to write, he stroked his
beard, and curled the tips of his moustachios, recollecting within
himself which were the principal nations of Europe.

He prefaced his information by saying, ‘But why trouble yourself? They
all are dogs alike,--all sprung from one dunghill; and if there be truth
in Heaven, and we believe our blessed Koran, all will burn hereafter in
one common furnace. But stop,’ said he, counting his fingers: ‘in the
first place, there is the _Nemsé Giaour_, the Austrian infidel, our
neighbours; a quiet, smoking race, who send us cloth, steel, and
glassware; and are governed by a Shah springing from the most ancient
race of unbelievers: he sends us a representative to be fed and clothed.

‘Then come those heretics of Muscovites, a most unclean and accursed
generation. Their country is so large, that one extremity is said to be
buried in eternal snows, whilst its other is raging with heat. They are
truly our enemy; and when we kill them, we cry _Mashallah_, praise be to
God! Men and women govern there by turns; but they resemble us inasmuch
as they put their sovereigns to death almost as frequently as we do.

‘Again, there is a Prussian infidel, who sends us an ambassador, Allah
only knows why; for we are in no need of such vermin: but, you well
know, that the Imperial Gate is open to the dog as well as the true
believer; for the rain of Providence descends equally upon both.

‘Who shall I say next, in the name of the Prophet? Let us see: there are
two northern unbelievers, living at the extremity of all things,--the
Danes and Swedes. They are small tribes, scarcely to be accounted among
men, although it is said the Shah of Denmark is the most despotic of the
kings of Franks, not having even janissaries to dispute his will; whilst
the Swedes are famous for a madman, who once waged a desperate war in
Europe; caring little in what country he fought, provided only that he
did fight; and who, in one of his acts of desperation, made his way into
our borders, where, like a wild beast, he was at length brought to bay,
and taken prisoner. Owing to this circumstance we were introduced to
the knowledge of his nation; or otherwise, by the blessing of Allah, we
should never have known that it even existed.

‘I will mention one more, called Flemengs, infidels, dun, heavy, and
boorish; who are amongst the Franks what the Armenians are amongst
us,--having no ideas beyond those of thrift, and no ambition beyond that
of riches. They used to send us a sleepy ambassador to negotiate
the introduction of their cheeses, butter, and salt-fish; but their
government has been destroyed since the appearance of a certain
Boonapoort, who (let them and the patron of all unbelief have their due)
is in truth a man; one whom we need not be ashamed to class with the
Persian Nadir, and with our own Suleiman.’

Here I stopped the Katib in his narrative, and catching at the name,
I exclaimed, ‘Boonapoort, Boonapoort,--that is the word I wanted! Say
something concerning him. I have heard he is a rare and daring infidel.’

‘What can I say,’ said my companion, ‘except that he once was a man of
nothing, a mere soldier; and now he is the sultan of an immense nation,
and gives the law to all the Franks? He did his best endeavours to
molest us also, by taking Egypt, and sent innumerable armies to conquer
it; but he had omitted to try the edge of a true believer’s sword ere
he set out, and was obliged to retreat, after having frightened a few
Mamalukes, and driven the Bedouins into their deserts.’

‘But is there not a certain tribe of infidels called Ingliz?’ said I,
‘the most unaccountable people on earth, who live in an island, and make

‘Yes, truly,’ said the Katib, ‘they, amongst the Franks, are those
who for centuries have most rubbed their heads against the imperial
threshold, and who have found most favour in the sight of our great
and magnanimous sultan. They are powerful in ships; and in watches and
broadcloth unrivalled.’

‘But what have you heard of their government?’ said I: ‘is it not
composed of something besides a king?’

‘Yes,’ returned he, ‘you have been rightly informed; but how can you and
I understand the humours of such madmen? They have a Shah, ’tis true;
but it is a farce to call him by that title. They feed, clothe, and
lodge him; give him a yearly income, surround him by all the state
and form of a throne; and mock him with as fine words and with as
high-sounding titles as we give our sovereigns; but a common aga of the
Janissaries has more power than he; he does not dare even to give the
bastinado to one of his own viziers, be his fault what it may; whereas
the aga, if expedient, would crop the ears of half the city, and still
receive nothing but reward and encouragement.

‘Then they have certain houses full of madmen, who meet half the year
round for the purposes of quarrelling. If one set says white, the
other cries black; and they throw more words away in settling a common
question than would suffice one of our muftis during a whole reign.
In short, nothing can be settled in the state, be it only whether a
rebellious aga is to have his head cut off and his property confiscated,
or some such trifle, until these people have wrangled. Then what are
we to believe? Allah, the Almighty and All wise, to some nations giveth
wisdom, and to others folly! Let us bless Him and our Prophet, that we
are not born to eat the miseries of the poor English infidels, but can
smoke our pipes in quiet on the shores of our own peaceful Bosphorus!’

‘Strange, strange things you tell me,’ said I, ‘and had I not heard
them, I could not believe something more, which is, that all India
belongs to them, and that it is governed by old women. Do you know that

‘I shall not be surprised to hear of anything they do,’ answered he,
‘so mad are they generally reported to be; but that India is governed
by infidel old women, that has never yet reached our ears. Perhaps it
is so. God knows,’ continued he, musing, ‘for mad people do wonderful

After a pause, ‘Now,’ said I, ‘have I learnt all, or are there more
unbelievers? By your beard, tell me; for who would have thought that the
world was so composed?’

He reflected for some time, and said, ‘O yes, I forgot to mention two or
three nations; but, in truth, they are not worthy of notice. There are
Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian infidels, who eat their swine, and
worship their image after their own manner; but who, in fact, are
nothing even amongst the Franks. The first is known to us by their
_patakas_ (dollars); the second sends us some Jews; and the third
imports different sorts of dervishes, who pay considerable sums into
the imperial treasury for building churches, and for the privilege of
ringing bells. I must also mention the _papa_ (pope), the Caliph of the
Franks, who lives in Italia, and does not cease his endeavours to
make converts to his faith; but we are more than even with him, for we
convert infidels in greater proportion than they, notwithstanding all
the previous pain which man must suffer before he is accepted for a true

‘One more question I must ask,’ said I, ‘and then I am satisfied. Can
you tell me anything positive about Yengi duniah, the New World; for I
have heard so many contradictory reports that my brain is bewildered?
How do they get at it, underground, or how?’

‘We have not had many dealings with it,’ said the Katib, ‘and,
therefore, know not much of the matter; but this is true, that one
can get there by ship, because ships belonging to the New World have
actually been seen here. They are all infidels, my friend,’ exclaimed
he, with a sigh; ‘all infidels, as much as those of the old world, and,
by the blessing of Allah, they will all grill in the same furnace.’

Finding that upon this subject the Katib was deficient, I ceased
questioning; and our conversation having now lasted a long time, I
released him from further importunity, by calling for more coffee and
replenishing our pipes. We then separated, with mutual promises of
meeting again.


Hajji Baba writes the history of Europe and with his ambassador returns
to Persia.

I returned to my ambassador full of the information I had acquired,
and all-joyous at the success which had attended my first essay in
diplomatic life. He was delighted at the memoir I had drawn up from
the materials furnished me by the Katib, and as long as we remained at
Constantinople daily sent me in search of further particulars, until
we both thought ourselves sufficiently in force to be able to draw up
a general History of Europe, which the Centre of the Universe in his
instructions to the ambassador had ordered him to present on his return.
Most assiduously did I apply myself in composing this precious morsel of
history. I made a rough draft, which was submitted to the correction
of my chief, and when he had seasoned its contents to the palate of the
King of Kings, softening down those parts which might appear improbable,
and adding to those not sufficiently strong, he delivered it over to a
clerk, who in a fair hand transcribed the whole, until a very handsome
volume was produced. It was duly bound, ornamented, and inserted in a
silk and muslin bag, and then the ambassador conceived it might be fit
to be placed in the hands of the Shah.

Mirza Firouz having now, as he conceived, accomplished the objects of
his mission, prepared to return, and announced his intention not only
of taking me with him, but also of continuing me in the employ of the
government as soon as we should reach Tehran; ‘for,’ said he, ‘a person
so well acquainted with the interests of the Franks will be of great use
in treating with the infidel ambassadors now in Persia.’

He could not have devised a plan better suited to my wishes; for after
my cruel treatment by the Turks, I hated everything relating to
them. Their city was become odious to me, and whenever I thought upon
Shekerleb my heart swelled with rage. Much time had now elapsed since
my affair with the chief priest of Tehran. The mollah Nadân, so I had
heard, had long ago been blown from the mouth of a mortar, and the
widow, whom I left in the hands of the Cûrds, had never returned to
Persia. Therefore, I concluded I might show myself in all safety, for
I argued thus: should I even be recognized, still who would venture to
molest me, powerfully protected as I should be by men in office? The
chief executioner had recovered possession of his horse and furniture,
when the unfortunate Nadân had been seized; and there was every reason
to suppose that Abdul Kerim had shared the fate of his mistress, the
chief priest’s widow, for he had no more been heard of; so I did not
fear that he would call upon me to refund the hundred tomauns. What
had I then to apprehend on returning to Tehran? Nothing that I could
foresee; and if once it were known that I was a servant of the Shah,
even being a thousand times more criminal than I was in fact, I might
put my cap on one side and walk all over the empire with impunity.

Fortified by these reflections, I made my preparations with alacrity to
accompany the ambassador. But previous to our departure, I determined
upon visiting my countrymen in the caravanserai, where with a better
chance of success I now might give myself those airs of importance which
had succeeded so ill at my last exhibition. Having taken some trouble to
make it well understood that I was attached to the embassy, I no longer
dreaded their contempt; and such is the respect that one invested with
that character is sure to inspire, that on this occasion I had no reason
to complain of any want of attention. Every word addressed to me was now
prefaced with, By your favour, By your condescension, May your kindness
never be less; and compliments which never ended, interlarded all the
fine discourses I heard. To hear them, nobody could have ever supposed
that I was the same person whom not two months before they had laughed
to scorn: on the contrary, one ignorant of the circumstance would have
set me down for a personage upon whom the issues of life and death
depended. But when I took my leave of the old Osman, I found him
unchanged, and every word he spoke showed that his affection for the son
of the barber of Ispahan was the feeling which ever actuated his conduct
towards me. ‘Go, my son,’ said he, as he parted from me, ‘whether you be
a prisoner with the Turcomans, or a priest, or a seller of pipe-sticks,
or a Turkish aga, or a Persian mirza; be you what you may. I shall
always put up my prayers for your prosperity, and may Allah attend your
steps wherever you go.’

Having made his visits of ceremony, and taken his leave of the Turkish
authorities, the ambassador left Scutari, accompanied by a large company
of his own countrymen, who conducted him about one parasang on the
road to Persia, and then received their dismissal. Our journey was
propitious, and nothing took place in it worthy of notice from the day
of our departure until our arrival in Persia. At Erivan we heard the
news of the day, though but imperfectly; but at Tabriz, the seat of
Abbas Mirza’s government, we were initiated into the various questions
which then agitated the country and the court. The principal one was the
rivalry between the French and English ambassadors; the object of the
former, who had already been received by the Shah, being to keep away
the latter, who had not yet reached the foot of the throne.

Various were the anecdotes related of the exertions made by them to
attain their ends, and the whole of Persia was thrown into astonishment
upon seeing infidels come so far from their own countries, at so much
trouble and expense, to quarrel in the face of a whole nation of true
believers, who were sure to despise, to deride, and to take them in.

The Frenchman, by way of enforcing his demands, constantly brought
forward the power of his own sovereign, his greatness and preponderance
over all the states of Europe, and did not cease to extol the immense
numbers of troops he could bring into the field.

To this he was answered, ‘That may be very true; but what is that to
us? Whole empires intervene, and, therefore, what affinity can there be
between France and Persia?

‘But,’ said the Frenchman, ‘we want to conquer India from the English,
and we wish to have an open road through your territories.’

‘What is that to us?’ again said the Shah: ‘you may want India, but we
are in no way anxious to entertain your troops.’

‘But we will conquer Georgia for you, put you in possession of Teflis,
and secure you from further molestation from the Russians.’

‘That is another case,’ said the Shah; ‘when once we see the effects of
your interference, and hear that there are no more Russians on this side
the Caucasus, we will treat with you: until then we can allow no passage
through our territories, nor break with our old friends the English!’

On the other hand, the English said, ‘The French can have no other
object in coming to Persia than to molest us; we require that you send
them away.’

‘How!’ said the Shah, ‘we cannot do that; for that would be against the
laws of hospitality. The gate of our palace is open to every one.’

‘But,’ urged the English, ‘you must either retain one or the other--and
must decide between us. Either agree to be our friends and expel the
French, or make up your minds to receive us as enemies.’

‘Why should we make ourselves enemies to please you? We want to be
friends with all the world.’

‘But,’ continued the English, ‘we will help and strengthen you, and give
you money.’

‘Oh! that is another case,’ said the Shah; ‘tell me how much, and then
all may be done.’

Such was nearly the state of things when we left Tabriz, and as my
ambassador was expected with impatience at Tehran, we did not tarry long
with the prince royal, but prosecuted our journey with all dispatch.

On the morning of our arrival at Sultanieh, on the road from Tehran, we
discovered a long train of horsemen with their baggage, whom we could
make out were not Persians, and whom as they approached we saw were
Franks. They were accompanied by a mehmander, an officer from the Shah,
who informed us, that this was the French embassy on its return, who it
seems had been politely requested to take its leave; and it was moreover
added, that the English ambassador would very shortly take its place.

This at once explained how matters stood at court, and that between the
rival bidders for his majesty’s favour, the King of Kings had come to a
good market. My ambassador was rather surprised how such a determination
could have been taken previous to his arrival, fraught as he was
with important information upon all the nations of Europe; but every
difficulty is easily explained away when money is permitted to exert its
eloquence, particularly if one recollects the words of the sheikh--

     ‘Let money only appear, and every head is prostrate.
     ’Tis thus, the heaviest weight in the scales lowers the iron beam.’

We were happy to have an opportunity of observing the manners of a
nation about whom we had lately heard so much, and as we passed the day
together in the same place, my chief did not fail to make himself known
to the French ambassador.

We expected of course to find them much depressed in spirits, and in
no good humour, having been driven as it were from the presence of the
Earth’s Centre; but what was our surprise to remark the contrary! Never
did Persia see such a company of madmen. They were singing, dancing,
and making the lûti all the livelong day. They all talked at once, one
louder than the other, without any apparent deference to rank, for all
seemed on the same footing. Without in the least respecting our carpets,
they were eternally pacing them with rapid strides, and, what most
shocked our feelings, spitting upon them. As I now looked upon myself in
some measure identified with the Franks, considering at what pains I
had lately been to acquire information concerning them, I endeavoured to
discover if there was any affinity between their language and ours;
but not a word could I comprehend. However, I thought to have made some
progress in it, by recollecting and writing down the words in their
speech which most frequently occurred--one was _sacré_, the other
_Paris_, and a third _l’Empereur_.

On the whole we liked them. We thought to discern many points of
similitude between them and ourselves; and were of opinion, that if
as infidels they were doomed to the _douzak_ of hereafter, even there,
instead of moaning over and deploring their lot, they would still be
found in the same happy mood we saw them at Sultanieh.

We parted on the following morning, they laughing, chattering, and
screaming with joy; we, full of anxiety and apprehension about the
reception with which our ambassador would meet from the King of Kings.

[Illustration: The British ambassadors and the Shah. 40.jpg]


The ceremony of receiving a Frank ambassador at the court is described.

My chief, the Mirza Firouz, was received with great condescension by the
Shah, who was pleased at the ready answers he received to his numerous
questions concerning the nations of Europe. Never was man better adapted
to fill the situation to which he had been appointed than the Mirza.
Every question which the Shah put to him was received with a ready
answer. Ignorance did not confound him, no difficulty stopped him. The
words ‘_nemi danum_, I don’t know,’ ever a sin in the hearing of a king,
were never known to pass his lips. He discoursed upon every matter with
a confidence that made his hearers believe that whatever he said must
be conclusive; and upon the subject of Europeans, to listen to him, one
could not but suppose he had been born and bred among them.

As I was known to have been employed under him in ‘seizing news’, as the
phrase goes, concerning Europe, and also in writing its history, I
in some measure enjoyed the reputation of being learned in whatever
regarded its inhabitants. Although my assurance was nothing equal to my
master’s, yet I managed to answer the questions put to me with tolerable
readiness, although, in so doing, I was obliged to be very circumspect
not to commit him: therefore, I passed my days in the double fear of
appearing ignorant, and of having my ears cut off in case I happened to
be too wise. However, as none among our own countrymen could contradict
us, we were listened to as oracles, and we exemplified what the poet Al
Miei has so justly remarked: ‘That in the country of the dumb the sound
of one voice, be it even that of an ass, would be called harmony.’

The English elchi (ambassador) had reached Tehran a few days before we
arrived there, and his reception was as brilliant as it was possible
for a dog of an unbeliever to expect from our blessed Prophet’s own
lieutenant. Indeed the city was almost shocked at the honours paid him,
and some of the most violent of our mollahs declared, that in treating
a Giaour so well, we were ourselves in some measure guilty of his
infidelity, and preparing our own damnation. At different stations on
the road, the throats of oxen had been cut before his horse’s feet, in
many places his path was strewn with sugar-candy, and on the day of his
entry he was permitted to have his trumpets sounded in the procession,
all of which were honours that could be exacted by none, save our own

Then all the proper attentions of hospitality were shown. The house of
a khan was taken from him and given to the ambassador, and whatever
furniture was wanting was demanded from the neighbours and placed
therein. A handsome garden was levied upon another, and added to the
house. The lord high treasurer was commanded to feed the strangers
at his own expense as long as they chose, and clothes and shawls were
collected from the courtiers and servants of the court, for the dresses
of honour which it is the custom to make on such occasions. The princes
and noblemen were enjoined to send the ambassador presents, and a
general command issued that he and his suite were the Shah’s guests,
and that, on the pain of the royal anger, nothing but what was agreeable
should be said to them.

All these attentions, one might suppose, would be more than sufficient
to make infidels contented with their lot; but, on the contrary, when
the subject of etiquette came to be discussed, interminable difficulties
seemed to arise. The elchi was the most intractable of mortals. First,
on the subject of sitting. On the day of his audience of the Shah, he
would not sit on the ground, but insisted upon having a chair; then the
chair was to be placed so far, and no farther, from the throne. In the
second place, of shoes, he insisted upon keeping on his shoes, and not
walking barefooted upon the pavement; and he would not even put on our
red cloth stockings. Thirdly, with respect to hats: he announced his
intention of pulling his off to make his bow to the king, although we
assured him that it was an act of great indecorum to uncover the head.
And then, on the article of dress, a most violent dispute arose: at
first, it was intimated that proper dresses should be sent to him and
his suite, which would cover their persons (now too indecently exposed)
so effectually that they might be fit to be seen by the king; but this
proposal he rejected with derision. He said, that he would appear before
the Shah of Persia in the very same dress he wore when before his own
sovereign. Now, as there was not a Persian who had ever been at the
court of a Frank king, no body could say what that proper dress
was; and, for aught we knew, the elchi might put on his bed-gown and
night-cap on the occasion. This was a difficulty apparently not to be
overcome, when, turning the subject over in my own mind, I recollected
that among the paintings in the palace of Forty Pillars at Ispahan,
there were portraits of Europeans, who, in the days of the great Shah
Abbas, flocked to his court, and even established themselves in the
city. In particular, I well recollected one in the very same painting in
which Shah Abbas himself is represented, whose dress was doubtless
the only proper costume to wear before a crowned head. I immediately
suggested this to my master, who mentioned it to the grand vizier, who
ordered that a copy of it should, without loss of time, be made by the
best artist of Ispahan, and sent to Tehran.

So soon as it arrived it was officially presented to the English elchi,
with a notification that the Shah was satisfied to receive him in the
same dress he wore before his own sovereign, a model of which was now
offered to him, and to which it was expected that he and his suite would
strictly conform.

The shouts of laughter which the infidels set up, upon seeing the
picture and hearing the message, are not to be described. They asked if
we thought them monkeys, that they should dress themselves as such at
our bidding, and were so obstinate in their resolution of keeping to
their own mode of attire, that at length they were permitted to do as
they chose.

The audience of the Shah passed off much better than could have
been expected from such rude and uncivilized people, and we were all
astonished that men, so unaccustomed to the manners and forms of the
world, should have conducted themselves on this difficult occasion
without committing some act that was flagrant and improper. The king was
seated on his throne of gold, dressed with a magnificence that dazzled
the eyes of the strangers, and made even his subjects exclaim, ‘Jemshîd?
who was he? or Darab? or Nûshirvan? that they should be mentioned in
the same breath?’ On the right and left of the throne stood the princes,
more beautiful than the gems which blazed upon their father’s person.
At a distance were placed the three viziers of the state, those
depositaries of wisdom and good council; and, with their backs to
the wall, each bearing a part of the paraphernalia of the crown, were
marshalled in a row the black-eyed pages of royalty, who might be
compared to angels supporting planets from the starry firmament. In the
midst appeared the Franks, who, with their unhidden legs, their coats
cut to the quick, their unbearded chins, and unwhiskered lips, looked
like birds moulting, or diseased apes, or anything but human creatures,
when contrasted with the ample and splendidly dressed persons by whom
they were surrounded. And they stood their ground, not in the least
abashed by the refulgent presence of the great king; but their attitude,
manner, and expression of countenance, would have made us suppose they
were as good and as undefiled as ourselves.

The speech made on the occasion by the elchi was characteristic of the
people he represented--that is, unadorned, unpolished, neither more nor
less than the truth, such as a camel-driver might use to a muleteer;
and had it not been for the ingenuity of the interpreter our Shah would
neither have been addressed by his title of King of Kings, or of the
Kebleh of the Universe.

It would be taking up the pen of eternity were I to attempt to describe
the boundless difference that we discovered between the manners and
sentiments of these people and ourselves. Some of our sages endeavoured
to account for it upon philosophical principles, and attributed much
to the climate of those dark, watery, and sunless regions in which they
were bred and born: ‘for,’said they, ‘how can men living surrounded by
water, and who never feel the warmth of the sun, be like those who are
never a day without enjoying the full effulgence of its rays, and do
not even know what the sea means?’ But the men of the law settled the
question in a much more satisfactory manner, by saying ‘it was owing to
their infidelity that they were doomed to be cursed even in this life;
and that if the ambassador, his suite, and even his whole nation, would
submit to become Mussulmans, and embrace the only true faith, they would
immediately be like ourselves, their defilements would be washed clean,
and they even might stand a chance of walking in the same story of the
heavens as the genuine children of Islam would in the world to come.


Hajji is noticed by the grand vizier, and is the means of gratifying
that minister’s favourite passion.

The transactions just recorded were all propitious to my advancement.
Owing to the knowledge I was supposed to have acquired respecting
Europe, I was employed in most of the affairs which concerned the Franks
in Persia, and this had furnished me with many opportunities of becoming
known to the grand vizier, and to other ministers and men in power.

The Mirza Firouz was not rich, and the maintenance which he received in
his public character ceasing as soon as he returned to Tehran, he could
no longer afford to support me, and he was happy to find that I was able
to work my own way into a livelihood. He did not fail to praise my good
qualities, and never lost an opportunity of extolling my abilities. Nor
was I backward in seconding his endeavours, for I brought everything
and every person, infidels as well as true believers, to bear upon my
ambitious views; and destiny (without whose aid man’s endeavours are of
no avail) almost as much as whispered, that the buffetings of the world
had taken their departure from me.

The grand vizier was, without a doubt, the man in Persia, who from his
acuteness, tact, and presence of mind, had the most influence over the
Shah. He had enjoyed his high situation almost from the commencement
of the present long reign, and had so interlaced his office with every
transaction, public as well as private, that his councils became as
necessary to the country as the rising and setting of the sun.

To secure his protection became then the first object of my endeavours.
I began by daily attending his levees and standing before him, and as
the affairs relating to Europe now took up his principal attention, he
never saw me without asking some question referring thereto. This led to
my being entrusted with messages to the English ambassador, the answers
to which I always brought back, with something of my own surcharged,
flattering to his abilities as a great statesman, and thus by creating
goodwill between the parties, I myself became a favourite.

The leading passion of the vizier was the love of receiving presents.
This was my kebleh in all transactions with the elchi, and my ingenuity
was constantly exercised in endeavouring to extract something from him
which would be acceptable to the vizier, and serviceable to myself.
That presents of ceremony should be received and given was a matter of
course, and, therefore, I stood no chance of acquiring any credit on
such occasions; but I was once or twice accessory in making the balance
strongly preponderate in favour of my own countrymen, and the vizier
from that time began to look upon me with a favourable aspect.

A treaty was to be negotiated between the two countries, and my patron
was appointed one of the plenipotentiaries on the part of the Shah.
Although this was matter in which one of my insignificance could not
expect to be employed, yet I did not cease to ply about the negotiators,
like a dog at an entertainment seeking for a chance bone; and every
now and then I got so much of the scent as to make me almost sure of
springing some game for myself.

At length, one morning, after a late sitting of the negotiators, I was
summoned to attend the grand vizier in his very anderûn, a place to
which none but his most confidential servants were ever admitted.
I found him still in bed, bolstered up with many soft pillows, and
entirely alone.

‘Hajji,’ said he, in a familiar tone, ‘draw near, and seat yourself
close to me; I have something of importance to say.’

I was staggered by so high an honour; but as his command was law, I did
not hesitate to kneel by his bedside.

Without circumlocution, he at once told me that he was placed in a
situation of great difficulty, for the English ambassador had made some
demands impossible to be granted, and declared that he must quit Tehran,
should they not receive our acquiescence.

‘Now,’ said he, ‘the Shah has threatened if I permit the elchi to leave
Persia dissatisfied, that my head shall answer for it; and at the
same time I and my brother plenipotentiary are half persuaded that
his majesty will never accede to the demands of England. What is to be

‘Could he not be bribed?’ said I, with all humility, and looking as if I
would give other meaning to my words.

‘_He_ be bribed?’ said the vizier; ‘in the first place, whence could the
bribe come? and in the second, these people are such fools, that they
know not what a bribe means. But give me your ear. We are no fools,
whatever they may be. The elchi is very anxious to carry his point,
and you know me well enough to be aware that there is nothing I cannot
accomplish if once I take it in hand. You must go and talk to him. You
are his friend. You may say that you are mine--you may whisper many
things to him which I cannot--do you understand?’

Upon this I kissed his hand with much fervour, and raising it to my head
I exclaimed, ‘By my head and by my eyes, I will go--and _inshallah_,
please God, I will not return without a white face.’

He then dismissed me, and full of happy prospects I made the best of my
way to the English ambassador.

I will not relate all I said and did to induce him to come into the
grand vizier’s terms; but in two words, I so entirely and completely
succeeded, that I returned with a heavy sack of gold, of good and solid
cash, in my hand, as the forerunner of what was to follow in case all
was concluded to the ambassador’s satisfaction, and I also secured the
promise of a large diamond ring that was forthwith to be transferred
from the finger of England to that of Persia, by way of an emblem of
eternal friendship between the representatives of the two states.

The vizier was so astonished when he saw me place the sack before him,
that he looked at me and then at it, some time before he spoke, and then
broke out into exclamations in praise of my activity and zeal.

‘Hajji,’ said he, ‘you are now my property. We are somebody in Persia,
and you will not long remain without a cap to your head. Make an _arz_,
a representation, and its accomplishment will rest with me.

Many were the protestations I made him of fidelity and redoubled zeal. I
disowned any intention of asking for any remuneration, except the favour
of being permitted to stand before him; and I looked so humble, and
talked in so disinterested a manner, that if he ever could have believed
a Persian, I flattered myself he did me.

But he understood the value of such speeches a great deal better than
I, and said, ‘Do not throw away your words at random. I was once with
my head turning round and round in the world for a livelihood as well as
yourself, and, therefore, I know the value of the service which you have
rendered. Proceed in the path which now lies before you. The Franks are
proper materials for your ingenuity. I give you my sanction to work upon
them. They have plenty of gold, and are in want of us. What more need be
said? The people of Iran are like the earth; they require _rishweh_,[88]
their interests must be highly excited, before they will bring forth
fruit. The Franks talk of feelings in public life of which we are
ignorant. They pretend to be actuated by no other principle than the
good of their country. These are words without meaning to us; for as
soon as I die, or when the Shah is no more, all that we may have done
for the welfare of Persia will most likely be destroyed; and when his
successor shall have well ruined the people in securing himself, the
whole business of improvement and consolidation must be gone over again.
Certain privileges and enjoyments are the lawful inheritance of the
Shahs of Persia: let them possess them in the name of Allah! And their
viziers also have their allotted portion: why should they refuse them?
Certainly not for the good of the country, because not one individual
throughout the whole empire even understands what that good means, much
less would he work for it.’

My mind was greatly enlightened by this speech, and as the curtain
which hitherto had darkened my understanding drew up, I discovered new
prospects, and could extend my view over a new and more diversified
region of profit. The words, ‘the Franks are proper materials for your
ingenuity’ rung in my ears, and my wits immediately began their career
of invention.


Of the manner in which he turned his influence to use, and how he was
again noticed by the vizier.

I gave myself much pains to have it well understood in the city, that I
was a confidential agent of the grand vizier, and did my best endeavour
to impress upon the infidels that without my interference nothing
could be done. The fruits of this proceeding were soon manifest, and
my services put into requisition in a manner highly conducive to mutual

One of the most remarkable features in the character of our English
guests was their extreme desire to do us good against our inclination.
Rather than not attempt it, they put themselves to infinite trouble,
and even did not refrain from expense to secure their ends. They felt
a great deal more for us than we did for ourselves; and what they could
discover in us worthy of their love, we, who did not cease to revile
them as unclean infidels, and as creatures doomed to eternal fires,
we were quite at a loss to discover. However, I had nothing to do with
their tastes; my business was to study how to turn them to account,
and the subject in all conscience was rich, and repaid me well for my

My readers will perhaps recollect that, in the first volume of this
my narrative, I mentioned my acquaintance with an infidel doctor,
who, among other novelties in medicine, did his utmost endeavours to
introduce into Persia a new mode of curing the small-pox. The practice
was now totally laid aside; our faculty continued to treat the disorder
as our forefathers had done, and the usual quantity of children died
as heretofore. A doctor was also attached to the suite of the present
elchi, and he was impelled by more than common anxiety to do us good.
His zeal to renew the practice of the cow medicine was unbounded, and
the quantity of mothers whom he enticed to bring their children to him

I, in pursuit of my own schemes, was the first to cry out, that this
great influx of women of the true faith into the dwelling of an infidel,
be the object what it might, was highly indecorous, and I persuaded the
grand vizier to place an officer of the police as sentry at the doctor’s
door to prevent the women entering. This very soon stopped his practice,
and he was in despair.

‘But why should you grieve?’ said I to him. ‘You get nothing for your
trouble, and the people are not obliged to you.’

‘Oh,’ said he (for he and his countrymen had learnt our language),
‘you know not what you say. This blessing must be spread throughout the
world; and if your government stops it here, it will be guilty of the
blood of all those lives which might have been saved.’

‘What is that to us?’ answered I: ‘let them die--we get nothing by their
being alive.’

‘If it be profit that you require,’ exclaimed the doctor, ‘I will
willingly pay any sum you may demand, rather than lose my vaccinating
matter, which must dry up and be lost if my practice ceases.’

Here we entered into a negotiation, and after much difficulty and
show of apprehension concerning the risk I ran of incurring the grand
vizier’s displeasure, it was agreed that for certain advantages which I
should enjoy, the restriction should be taken from the doctor’s house;
and I leave those who know me to guess the numbers of children who now
flocked to the man of medicine. His gate was thronged, and nothing more
was said respecting the impropriety of the women’s attendance.

Another of his manias was a desire to cut up dead bodies. He did so
languish after every corpse that was carried by his house for burial,
that I was surprised the people did not set upon him for his impure

‘But what possible good will accrue to mankind in general,’ said I to
him, ‘if you dissect a dead Mussulman?’

‘It is impossible to say what good may be lost by my not dissecting
him,’ said he; ‘besides, if I do not keep my hand in practice, I shall
lose my former skill.’

He then of his own accord proposed to give a large sum for a corpse, and
avowed that he was not particular about its quality, for that of a Jew,
Christian, or a true believer, would be equally acceptable.

I kept this in remembrance; and indeed I had so many opportunities
afforded me of advancing the designs of the infidels, and of filling my
own pockets at the same time, that I felt myself gradually growing into

The ambassador himself was not without his desires of improving (as he
called it) our state; and I cannot resist relating a circumstance which
took place between him and the grand vizier. He announced it as his
intention to make a present to us of a certain produce of the earth,
unknown in most parts of Asia, but much cultivated in Europe, which
would not fail to be of incalculable benefit to the people of Persia;
and he requested the vizier to assist him in his undertaking, promising
shortly to send him a specimen of the intended gift. The vizier, whose
nose was always carried very high whenever a present was in the wind,
did not fail daily to discuss with me what this great benefit which
the ambassador was about to confer might be, and his impatience to gain
possession became very great. He discovered through me, that the English
representative had brought with him a store of fine broadcloth, upon
which he had constantly kept a steady eye. Finding that the projected
public benefit was not forthcoming, he conceived in his wisdom that
the elchi would have an easy bargain, if he agreed to commute it for
a private gift to himself. Therefore, one morning at his uprising he
called me, and said, ‘By the blessing of God, whatever we want we have:
we have bread and meat--we have salt, and rice, and corn, and fruits,
such as the infidels never even saw in a dream; in short, we have
everything that it is possible to conceive. Then why should we become
indebted to this infidel ambassador for things that we do not want? A
happy thought has struck me, by which he will be a gainer, and be saved
the trouble he wishes to incur: I will agree to receive cloth in lieu of
the public benefit. This is so easy a transaction, that you, who, praise
be to Allah! are a man of sharp wit, will easily negotiate. Go, say this
to the ambassador, and without loss of time bring me the cloth.’

I forthwith presented myself, and delivered the message. Will it be
believed that he and all his beardless suite, upon hearing it, set up
such shouts of laughter, as might be heard from the top of Demawend?
‘What affinity has cloth to potatoes?’ said one. ‘We wish to give a
cheap and comfortable article of food to your countrymen,’ said another.
‘But it seems that your vizier likes to transfer the whole advantage of
the gift from the bellies of the nation to his own back,’ cried a third.
The ambassador, however, who appeared the most reasonable of the
party, without hesitation very politely ordered a piece of cloth to
be delivered to me, which he requested me to present to my master with
reiterated expressions of friendship; and with the assurance that it
could make no alteration in the sentiments which he entertained for the
Persian nation, who he hoped would still receive the potato, as a mark
of his high esteem and consideration.

I returned to the vizier full of exultation at the success of my visit;
and this, with the preceding and subsequent instances of my abilities,
so entirely won his affections, that I soon outstripped every rival, and
became his principal favourite and confidant.


The conclusion--Misfortune seems to take leave of Hajji Baba, who
returns to his native city a greater man than when he first left.

The negotiations with the infidels were now about being closed; and it
was agreed, in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship between the
two, that an embassy on the part of the Shah should forthwith be sent to
the king of England.

The experience of each succeeding day convinced me of the influence
I had acquired over the mind of the grand vizier; and the event just
recorded was the means of showing me to what extent he depended upon my
services and zeal. The day after the treaty with England was signed, he
called me into his private apartment, and spoke to me in the following

‘Hajji,’ said he, ‘give me your ear. I have things of importance to
impart, and as I look upon you as one exclusively mine, I am sure that
you will listen to them with becoming attention.’

I was proceeding to make the necessary protestations of my entire
devotedness, when he stopped me, and proceeded thus:--

‘Well or ill, our business with the English ambassador is at length
concluded, and the Shah has ceded to his wishes of sending an ambassador
to England in return. Now, you know the Persians as well as I, how they
detest leaving their own country, and the difficulty I shall find in
selecting a man to devote himself to this service. I have one in my
eye, whom I wish to send above every other; and as it is of the utmost
importance to me that he should be removed for the present from Persia,
and particularly from the presence of the Centre of the Universe, I
require that you use your best endeavours to persuade his acceptance of
the appointment.’

I immediately felt assured that he could mean no other than me, although
I did not see what reason he could have for removing me from the
presence of the king; and elated by so bright a prospect of sudden
elevation to rank and honours, I sprung towards him, and seizing his
hand with fervour to kiss, I exclaimed, ‘The least of your slaves will
always prove to be the most faithful of your servants: speak, and you
will always find me ready, even to death.’

‘That is well spoken,’ said he, with great composure, ‘and now listen to
me. The man I allude to is Mirza Firouz’ (here my countenance fell, and
I drawled out in answer a long ‘_belli_, yes’). ‘The truth is, I have
lately discovered that his influence with the Shah has been considerably
upon the increase. He possesses such great volubility of speech, and
such vast command of language,--he flatters so intensely, and lies so
profoundly,--that the king is more amused by him than by any other man
of his court. Who knows how far he may go? Besides, I am assured that
secretly he is my most bitter enemy, whilst openly he affects to be my
most devoted of servants; and although to this day I have never for a
moment dreaded the hatred or the intrigues of any one, yet I cannot but
own, that, in this instance, I am not without my fears. By sending him
among the infidels, as the Shah’s representative, I at once cut off the
source of my uneasiness; and once let him be gone, I will so arrange
matters, that even should he return successful from his mission (which,
please God, he never may!) he shall never acquire the influence over the
Shah which he is now attempting to establish.’

I agreed to all he said with hesitation; and was losing myself in the
reflection how I could possibly turn this piece of confidence to my own
advantage, when the vizier accosted me again, and said:--

‘I have only let you into one part of my scheme: the second object is,
that you, Hajji, should accompany the ambassador in the capacity of his
first mirza, or chief secretary. You, who are my friend and confidant,
who know all my wishes, and who have an intimate knowledge of all that
has occurred since the arrival of the infidels, you are precisely the
man to fill this situation, and you will render me the greatest of
services by accepting my proposal.’

However delighted I might have been at the prospect of becoming the
chief of an embassy, yet when I was offered the inferior appointment,
my feelings were very different. I felt that in quitting the situation I
now enjoyed, I should leave the high road to preferment, to get into one
of its crooked lanes. Besides, I strongly participated in the national
antipathy, the horror of leaving one’s country, and particularly dreaded
the idea of going to sea; and when I came to reflect that the country
to which I was likely to be sent was unknown land,--a land situated in
eternal darkness, beyond the regions of the sun, and whose inhabitants
were an unclean and unbelieving race,--I drew back from the vizier’s
offer with the fear of one who had the gulf of perdition placed before

The answer I made to the prime minister was by a string of cold assents,
such as constantly hang on every Persian’s lips, whatever may be his
real feelings. I said, ‘By my eyes; I am your servant; my ear is in your
hand; whatever you ordain I am bound to obey’; and then remained mute as
a stone.

The vizier easily discovered what passed within me, and said, ‘If you
dislike my offer, you are your own master, and another may easily be
found to accept it. I have your advantage in view as well as my own.
In the first place, you should immediately proceed to Ispahan, as
the Shah’s deputy, to collect a considerable portion of the presents
intended to be sent by our court to the King of England, and which must
be levied upon the inhabitants of that city. You would then have an
opportunity of enriching yourself.’

I did not let the vizier proceed further. The temptation of returning to
my native place in such a character, clothed with such powers, was
too great to be withstood, and in a very altered tone I immediately
exclaimed, with great earnestness:--

‘By the salt of your highness, by your death, and by the beard of the
Shah, I am ready to go. No other word need be said,--I will go wherever
you command, were it even to fetch the father of all the Franks from the
inmost chambers of the world below.’

‘Be it so,’ said the vizier; ‘and as the first step towards it, go at
once to Mirza Firouz, flatter and assure him that he is the only man
in Persia fit to be sent upon such an embassy, and persuade him of the
advantages that will accrue to him. Honour, riches, the goodwill of the
Shah, and my protection all will abound; and at his return, God best
knows to what heights he may not ascend. Throw out hints that some
other man, some rival, whom you may discover, has been talked of for the
situation, and you will see how easily he will swallow the bait. Go, and
Allah be with you!’

I left his presence scarcely knowing whether I soared in the heavens,
or trod on the earth. ‘What,’ said I to myself, ‘shall I then attain
the summit of all earthly happiness,--shall my long past prognostics at
length be fulfilled,--and shall I indeed enter my native place, clothed
with the kalaât of honour, armed with the hand of power, and mounted
upon the steed of splendour? Let those who once scorned Hajji Baba, the
barber’s son, now beware, for they will have to deal with the Shah’s
deputy. Let those crowns, which once submitted to my razor, now be
prostrate, for he who can cut the head off is at hand. Ye that have
deprived me of my inheritance tremble, for the power of making you
restore it is mine.’

Indulging in such like feelings, I am aware that I strutted along the
street with a swell and dignity of manner which must have surprised
every one who saw me. I could think of nothing save my approaching
honours; and my mind was riveted by the one idea of seeing myself
mounted on a finely caparisoned horse, adorned by a gold chain round its
neck, and a silver tassel under its throat, preceded by my led horses,
and my running footmen, and greeted by a deputation from the governor of
the city, to welcome my arrival in my native place.

However, I proceeded to the house of Mirza Firouz, whom I found prepared
to converse on the subject of the embassy, because the English elchi
had already made proposals to him to the same effect as those which the
grand vizier intended to make. Although I had attached myself almost
exclusively to the service of the prime minister, yet I persevered in my
friendship with the intended ambassador, who was glad to hear I was to
accompany him. We talked long upon our future plans, as well as past
adventures, and when, roaring with laughter, he asked whether I should
now endeavour to regain possession of my faithless Shekerleb, I slipped
away, not over-pleased to have that event of my life recalled to my

The next day, the Shah announced at the public audience his intention
of sending Mirza Firouz to England as his representative, and the grand
vizier ordered me to be in readiness to proceed to Ispahan, as soon as
the proper firmans necessary to arm me with power should be prepared.

I will not tire the reader with a description of the numerous details of
my preparatives for this expedition. He would sicken and I should blush
at my vanity. It is sufficient to say that I travelled to Ispahan with
all the parade of a man of consequence; and that I entered my native
city with feelings that none but a Persian, bred and born in the
cravings of ambition, can understand. I found myself at the summit of
what, in my eyes, was perfect human bliss. Misfortune seemed to have
taken its leave, and everything informed me that a new chapter in the
book of my life was about to open. Hajji Baba, the barber’s son, entered
his native place as Mirza Hajji Baba, the Shah’s deputy. Need I say

And here, gentle Reader! the humble translator of the Adventures of
Hajji Baba presumes to address you, and profiting by the hint afforded
him by the Persian story-tellers, stops his narrative, makes his bow,
and says, ‘Give me encouragement, and I will tell you more. You shall
be informed how Hajji Baba accompanied a great ambassador to England,
of their adventures by sea and land, of all he saw, and all he remarked,
and of what happened to him on his return to Persia.’ But he begs to
add, should he find, like Hajji’s friend the third dervish, he has not
yet acquired the art of leading on the attention of the curious, he will
never venture to appear again before the public until he has gained the
necessary experience to ensure success. And so he very humbly takes his




[Footnote 1: It is perhaps almost needless to remind the reader, that
the Mussulmans are divided into two inimical sects; viz. _suni_ and
_shiah_; and that the Turks are of the former, and the Persians of the
latter, persuasion. The Sunies hold, that Omar, Osman and Abubekr, were
the lawful successors of Mohamed. The Shiahs assert that they were
usurpers, and that Ali, his son-in-law, was the next in succession.]

[Footnote 2: This is the Persian pipe, made upon the principle of the
Indian hookah.]

[Footnote 3: Officers whose duties are to find quarters for the
pilgrims, establish the prices of provisions, make arrangements for
their supply, regulate the hours of march, settle disputes, announce the
time of prayer, etc.]

[Footnote 4: This takes place in the spring, when the sun enters Aries,
and is called the No Ruz, or the new day. The festival is not of
Mohamedan origin, and dates from very remote antiquity.]

[Footnote 5: By heel ropes is meant those fastenings which are used to
secures horses in the East.]

[Footnote 6: The Turcomans, as well as the Turks, their descendants, are
of the Suni persuasion: with them green is a sacred colour; but it is
not so among the Shiahs.]

[Footnote 7: The word _Sultan_, which in Europe is generally used to
designate the sovereign of Turkey, among the Tartars, Turcomans, etc.,
means captain or chief, and is given frequently to subalterns, as well
as to those of higher rank.]

[Footnote 8: Banou implies a female head or chief; thus in the _Arabian
Nights_, _Paribanou_, or more properly _Peribanou_ means the chief of
the fairies. The King of Persia's principal wife is styled _Banou
Harem_, chief of the harem.]

[Footnote 9: All classes of Mohamedans shave the crown of the head. In
Persia two patches of hair are left behind each ear by way of curls. In
Turkey, a tuft is left on the very summit of the head.]

[Footnote 10: The Turks differ materially from the Persians in their
tastes for women, the one admiring corpulency, whilst the latter show
greater refinement, and esteem those forms which are mostly prized in

[Footnote 11: The races that take place among the Turcomans and the
Persians are intended to try the _bottom_, rather than the actual speed
of their horses.]

[Footnote 12: The bread here alluded to is baked on small and convex
iron plates, and when prepared is about the thickness of brown paper.]

[Footnote 13: Rustam is the fabulous hero of Persian history, so much
celebrated in the _Shah Nameh_ as a paragon of strength and courage. His
duel with Asfendiar, which lasted two whole days, is the theme of
Persian romance.]

[Footnote 14: A parasang is equivalent to about three and a half
geographical miles.]

[Footnote 15: A full-equipped horseman in the East generally carries
with him an iron peg, to which is affixed a rope terminated by a noose,
with which he pickets his horse wherever he may alight. The rope is
buttoned to the fore-leg, whilst the peg is driven into the ground with
a stone.]

[Footnote 16: A tomaun is the principal gold coin of Persia, worth about

[Footnote 17: The dinar is the smallest denomination of money in

[Footnote 18: Twenty-four grains make one miscal.]

[Footnote 19: The loves of these personages have been treated by various
Oriental writers. Majnoun is looked upon as the model of a lover, and
Leilah as the most beautiful and perfect of her sex.]

[Footnote 20: In sketching the history of the poet Asker, the author has
attempted to record part of the life of the late Fatteh Ali Khan, poet-
laureate to the Shah, a most ingenious and amiable man, well known to
the English who were at Tehran in the years 1812 and 1813.]

[Footnote 21: Seizing the skirt of a man in authority, or the heel ropes
of his horses in the stable, are as great protection to a culprit in
Persia as the precincts of a church are in Roman Catholic countries.]

[Footnote 22: It is no uncommon circumstance in Persia to find men of
the lowest estate well versed in their poets. The Persians are eminently
a poetical people.]

[Footnote 23: The luties are privileged buffoons, usually keeping
monkeys, bears, and other animals.]

[Footnote 24: A ghauz is a small copper coin.]

[Footnote 25: A beard is held so sacred in the East, that every hair
which grows upon a Mohamedan's chin is protected from molestation by a
heavy fine.]

[Footnote 26: The mohteshib is an officer who perambulates the city, and
examines weights and measures, and qualities of provisions.]

[Footnote 27: Twenty shahies make the groush, or piastre, which is worth
about two shillings British.]

[Footnote 28: The felek is a long pole, with a noose in the middle,
through which the feet of him who is to be bastinadoed are passed,
whilst its extremities are held up by two men for the two others who

[Footnote 29: Saadi, Hafiz, and the Koran, are the three books to which
the Persians most willingly refer for this mode of divination. Its
resemblance to that of the Sortes Virgilianoe must occur to every

[Footnote 30: A Persian letter is folded up like a lady's thread paper,
and fastened in the middle by a slip of adhesive paper, which is
moistened with the tongue, and then stamped with the seal of the writer.
Thus, letters are frequently opened and closed without detection.]

[Footnote 31: The stirrup, which is a sort of iron shovel, sharp at the
edge, in Persia as well as in Turkey, is used by way of spur.]

[Footnote 32: The Persians have a particular aversion to horses which
have white legs on one side, which they call _chup_; and they also very
much undervalue a horse that has the _ableh_, which consists of white
leprous marks on its nose, round the eyes, and under the tail.]

[Footnote 33: The chenar tree is a species of sycamore.]

[Footnote 34: This alludes to tapping in cases of dropsy,--an operation
unknown among