Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/121

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102
PERSIA.

12 guns. We soon afterwards heard the real truth, says Mr. Morier, which reduced their account to 300 killed, two guns taken, and 500 made prisoners. On questioning them why they exaggerated so much, when they knew how soon the falsehood must be discovered, they very ingenuously replied:—"If we did not know that your stubborn veracity would have come in our way; we should have said ten times as much. This is the first time our troops have made any stand at all against the Russians; and you would not surely restrict so glorious an event in our history to a few dry facts."

The Persian army, adds the traveller, amounted, on this occasion, by their own account, to 9000, or according to the English officers employed in it, to 14,000 men, among whom was a corps of flying artillery with 12 guns, to which chiefly its success was owing. The Russians, 800 in number, not expecting any attack from the latter kind of force, had neglected to send for succours. After losing 300 men, the rest capitulated. One of the articles of capitulation was, that their heads were not to be cut off: a practice which is quite common in Persian and Turkish warfare. During the fight, ten toomauns were given for every head of the enemy brought to the prince; and it has been known to occur, that after the combat was over, prisoners have been put to death in cold blood, in order that the heads, which are immediately despatched to the king, and deposited in heaps at the palace gate, might make a more considerable show. The Persians lost 100 men, a circumstance which rejoiced the king's ministers exceedingly; for on no preceding occasion had their troops been known to approach near enough to the enemy to get killed.

Passionately fond of pleasure and luxury, and voluptuous to excess, the Persians are unboundedly prodigal. Hence they acquire merely to expend: with them the enjoyment of the present day is every thing, and the morrow belongs to God.

A Persian will never blaspheme the name of God, but he will invoke him without occasion. He will one moment pronounce that sacred name with the same lips which the next are pouring forth the grossest obscenities: he will punctually recite his prayers; he will purify himself several times a day; he will avoid all corporeal contamination, the contact of a person of a different religion, or the admission of such a person into his house in rainy weather, since the wet from his clothes would render impure whatever it touched, whether persons or furniture: but he will bear false witness for the sake of filthy lucre; he will borrow without returning, or even deny his debt; he will seize every opportunity of cheating; he will be destitute of sincerity in the service of his friend, of fidelity in his engagements,