Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/127

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108
PERSIA.

learns to bend the bow, to wield the sabre, and to manage a horse. Marriage re]eases him from all restraint, but not from the respect which he owes to his father. The sacred rights of paternity are never violated in the East: there a son, whatever may be his age or condition, never sits in the presence of his father; but his movements and whole demeanour are marked with filial submission.

More pains are bestowed on the education of the children of the lower classes, than in Europe. They are never seen running about the streets, getting corrupted by bad examples and bad language, contracting a fondness for play, quarrelling and fighting. They usually begin to go to school at the age of six years, and attend it twice a day. On their return, their parents keep them at home, to accustom them early to the business for which they design them.

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CHAPTER IV.

MARRIAGE.

The mode of matrimonial courtships in Persia, does not allow the eyes of the parties to direct their choice till they are mutually pledged to each other. An elderly female is employed by the relations of the youth to visit the object selected by his parents or friends, or guessed at by himself; and her office is to ascertain the damsel's personal endowments, and all other subjects suitable to their views in the connexion. If the report be favourable, the friends of the proposed bridegroom despatch certain sponsors to explain his merits and pretensions to the relations of the lady, and to make the offer of marriage in due form. If accepted, the heads of the two families meet, when the necessary contracts are drawn up; the presents, ornaments, and other advantages proposed by the bridegroom's parents, discussed and arranged; and when all is finally settled, the papers are sealed and witnessed before the Cadi.

On the morning of the day fixed for the wedding, the lover sends a train of mules laden with the promised gifts for his bride, to the house of her parents; the whole being attended by numerous servants, and preceded by music and drums. Besides the presents for the lady, the procession carries all sorts of costly viands on large silver trays, ready prepared to be immediately spread before the inmates of the house. The whole of the day is spent in feasting and jollity: towards evening, the damsel makes her appearance enveloped in a long veil of scarlet or crimson silk, and being placed on a horse or mule splendidly