A DIPLOMATE'S RESIDENCE IN PERSIA.
Mn. EASTWICK has not produced the work which was expected at his hands, or anything half so good, but the Diplomate's Resi- dence in Persia is a fair enough book of travels. Its author lived three years at Teheran and in Khorasan, as Secretary of Le- gation, and Chargé d'Affaires, was, as he hints pretty frequently, a favourite with the Court, certainly carried through a negotiation of great importance both to politics and commerce, and knows Persian, we believe, as it is very rarely known either by diplo- matists or travellers. He might have given us a work of the highest interest, an account of the last of the untrammelled Asiatic despotisms, of the mode in which it works, the instrumentality it employs, of the strange system of administration through the Royal clan, almost all first-class appointments being given to the Shah's blood relatives, and of the compensations which render that system endurable by a semi-civilized people. The authority of the Mogul is gone, and that of the Brother of the Sun is supported by foreign bayonets, Burmah is a province, and Cochin China almost a dependency, while the Sultan is compelled to act subject to the criticism of a knot of unsympathizing but all powerful European strangers. The Shah alone remains, in domestic affairs at all events, an unfettered Asiatic monarch, able to take life without apology,—Mr. Eastwick almost saw an instance of the kind,—destroy a city without reason assigned, or attempt a con- quest without calling it either an " execution " or a " material guarantee." Some idea of the way in which that ancient system of Government works, of its effect upon the people, of the resources it leaves, or creates, or destroys within a State would have been very acceptable, and Mr. Eastwick had singular opportunities for inquiry. Mr. Nassau Senior under the same circumstances would have exhausted information, and given us a picture of Persian political life not to be greatly added to for a generation. Mr. Eastwick has chosen instead to give us an account of his adventures as a traveller, and we do not know that we have any right to condemn his book for not being what its author never intended it should be. As a book of travels it is very much too full of half-fretful disquisitions on the want of comfort universal in the East, on bugs, and dirt, and thievish servants, and petty incidents of rough travel ; but it is lively, apparently accurate, and contains some sketches which make us grieve over the work the author could, but has not, done. Four pages on the discomfort of travelling with invalids from Paris to Marseilles are a little tiresome when one wants to bear about Persia, but then Mr. Eastwick fully confirms all that has ever been said about the beauty of the Mingrelians, and the existence of national beauty anywhere is a fact for the ethnologist as well as the artist. He says of a Mingrelian market, " Except my own and B—'s there was not an ugly face to be seen ; in respect to beauty it might have been a fair of the Olympians, masquerading in rustic guise. It was a sight to daze a painter, and to furnish him with models for his life." That is exceedingly satisfactory, and would have been a little more so had Mr. Eastwicktold us his ideas of beauty. Does he admire brunettes, or blondes, girls with colour, or girls like Greek statues, blue eyes or black, full busts, or figures which poets call etherial and other mortals scraggy? One does not realize how a girl looks who would have become " a fair of the Olympians," for though Venus was admired there and Hebe, so also was Juno, whom we take to have been what elderly men call a fine woman, and Minerva, who must have been slightly gaunt. The beauty, it seems, extends to the male sex also, for there was a butler who perpetrated small thefts, but nevertheless realized Mr. Eastwick's idea of Adam. He rises, however, into a more serious, but not, perhaps, more interesting, tone when he speaks of the Russian hold upon the Caucasus ; and his remarks, though like everything else in the book too short and too sketchy, are full of information and sense. He believes that the army in the Caucasus consists of about 180,000 effectives, who garrison all important points and • A Diplomats's Residenee in Persia. By E. B. lifastwiok, F.B.S. Loudon: Smith, Elder, end Co. fill four camps, organized with a view to the control of as many_ divisions of the country, but holds that the Czar is still only in military possession, and cannot rely with certainty even on her own military organization. He affirms, moreover, the populax
view of the military importance of the Caucasus, which, he says, is worth the three millions sterling per annum which it costs the invaders, as a vast Gibraltar, an impregnable fortress, whence Russia may, if she can but conciliate the Caucasians, advance to the conquest of Western Asia.
It is in Persia itself that the diplomatist is most interesting, and his account of Teheran, one of the thousand cities of the East about which Europeans have been deluded for a century, is entirely new.
"There is nothing very impressive in the appearance of Tehran. A city of 100,000 inhabitants, living in mud houses, and packed within a mud wall, twenty feet high, and four miles in circumference, cannot be a very striking object. Neither are the environs very attractive. A wide, stony plain, with mud-built villages hero and there, and without lake, or stream, or forest, but studded with long lines of circular pits, the shafts to the great subterraneous watercourses, on which in this region the life of animal and herb is altogether dependant, cannot of itself be very captivating. The one feature of the landscape that rivets attention is the gigantic range of the Elburz mountains, ten thousand feet high, which runs like a wall of the Titans to the north-east of the city, and terminates in the stupendous peak of Demavend. The vast height of Demavend, 22,000 feet, is increased by a singular tiara of clouds, shaped like the triple top of a Buddist temple, which almost always crowns its summit, and links, as it were, earth to heaven. Another, but far lower range of mountains, commencing about four miles to the south-east of Tehran, runs up and seems to join that of the Elburz. At the southern extremity of this range are the ruins of the once celebrated city of Rhd, or Rhages, to the fall of which Tehran no doubt owes its rise. Close to these ruins is the sacred shrine and village of Shah Abdul Azim, whose gilded domes shine out from a green cluster of trees. This village, and the Kasr f Ktijar' or "castle of the Eakin," built at the extremity of low ridge, running from the foot of the Elburz, to the north of Tehran, are the only picturesque objects in the plain."
It is a strange fact, one almost inexplicable on any ordinary theory of mankind, that Asiatics have almost ceased to build new cities. Pekin is a palace surrounded by huts, but Shanghai is a
collection of huts without the palace ; the people of India built Delhi and Benares, but native Calcutta is a congeries of mat hovels, and mud arcades, and a few ugly barracks interspersed; Madras is a stinking village ou a vast scale, and Bombay owes what of beauty it has to the sea and the undulations of the island.
Baghdad is in ruins, and native Constantinople never improves, while travellers deplore the fading glories of the oldest city on earth, the one place which makes a Mussulman doubt whether Paradise is a gift to its citizens. It is not that one city is ruined and another takes its place; there are the ruins sure enough, but the revival is still to seek. Is the quantity of human energy a fixed sum of which Europe and America have absorbed the whole, or is wealth really receding from all Asia except Bengal, or are the inhabitants stricken with an idea that their empires are doomed, and they only encamped within them? Travellers say it is all despotism; but under what form of government was Delhi built, or Palmyra, or Nankin, or any one of the myriad cities of Asia
in which the owls and the jackals now hold rival revel ? Bad government is it ? Rome exists. Failing population? There is Dublin. Age ? Paris is older than Mohammedan Constantinople,
and was a city before Baghdad. The problem of the East seems on every side insoluble, yet till we discover it half the power of the human race must continue thrown away. Europe oonquers, but does not use either the governing power of the Turk, or the subtly constructive intellect of the Arab, or the metaphysical keenness of the Bengalee, or the industrial force of the China- man. Suppose Persia submerged, who would miss the Persians?
yet they must have their place, not only among human beings but in the forces which remodel the world, and that place is not guano, else why the Iranian desert? The mission in Teheran is not apparently a very comfortable residence, the British Government preferring to spend tens of thousands in Paris, where diplomacy
does not depend on appearances, rather than tens of hundreds in Teheran, where it does. Sir Gore Ouseley, having lived among Asiatics as a river hawker, and consequently knowing something about them, built a good brick house on property generously taken
from somebody else by the Shah, Ahab fashion, and any suc- ceeding Minister who wanted more room added a mud hut. In these annexes live secretary, doctor, attaches, couriers, and the rest of the mission "family," the higher members of whom all
dine together by order as in a mess, an arrangement which has advantages, but which can only succeed perfectly if all the mem- bers are on good terms, if all are tolerably similar in habits, if all approve the life of barracks, and if all are vowed to celibacy, conditions which concur, perhaps, once in two centuries. Amuse- meats appear to be very few, and excitements consist in fighting or helping other missions, and carrying on intrigues in the Shah's Court, and sometimes in private households. Life, however, is varied by missions such as the one upon which Mr. Eastwick was sent to Khorasan, apparently to pacify the people, who had an idea that the British were urging Boat Mahommed to attack Herat,—an idea, by the way, better founded than Mr. Eastwick appears to think,—and that therefore the best thing they could do was to kill all accessible Britons. Mr. Eastwick travelled through Khorasan, and though he avoids general descriptions with annoying care, relates some facts of considerable interest. He visited the turquoise mines, of which, however, he tells us only that they are let by contract, saw Meshed in a haze which pre- vented his describing it, and was actually taken by the Governor into the Mosque of Riza, in Meshed, a place probably never entered by any other European. It is exceedingly well described, but we have room only for one more extract. It is an account of the Shah's jewel-room, of one of those scenes which used to be seen by the travellers of three hundred years ago, and which gave rise to many of the inflated stories of Oriental magnificence.
" In such a show of gems as seemed to realize the wonders of Aladdin's lamp, the eye was too mach dazzled and the memory too con- fused for description to be possible. But I remember that at the back of all was the Raiacisn crown, and on either side of it two Persian lambskin caps adorned with splendid aigrettes of diamonds. The crown itself was shaped like a flower-pot, with the small end open, and the other closed. On the top of the crown was an uncut ruby, apparently without flaw, as big as a hen's egg. In front of the crown were dresses covered with diamonds and pearls, trays with necklaces of pearls, rabies and emeralds, and some hundreds of diamond, ruby, and turquoise rings. In front of these again were gauntlets and belts covered with pearls and diamonds, and conspicuous among them the Kaianian belt, about a foot deep, weighing perhaps eighteen pounds, and one complete mass of pearls diamonds, emeralds, and rubies. Still nearer to us stood a drinking bowl completely studded with enormous jewels, a tray full of foreign orders set in brilliants, and in front of all lay a dozen swords, one or two of which are worth a quarter of a million each. Along with these were epaulettes covered with diamonds, and armlets so contrived that the brilliants revolved and kept up a continual shimmer.
The value of the whole of these je.ve]s is estimated at from six to seven millions, but we strongly suspect that sum is made up by the unreal estimates put upon jewels like the " Sea of Light," which are quite unsaleable, and that the real market value would be much less. The treasure in specie Mr. Eastwick does not appear to have seen, though there generally exists in the East some hoard of the kind kept by the Royal house against an evil day. Almost the whole of this treasure has been collected by plunder, taken from the great servants of the Crown, who again acquired the jewels as bribes.
Mr. Eastwick's book is worth reading, but we wish he would turn his wide knowledge to more definite purpose, excise the details of travel, and give us a work on Persia, instead of some- what thin sketches of his personal adventures there. At present popular knowledge upon Persian life, manners, and ideas, is bohnded by the cover of " Hajji Baba," and of Persian politics nobody out of the Foreign Office and the India House has any knowledge at all.