Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/144

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121
PERSIA.

bed on a tripod of sticks, in order that the evaporation may cool it for the night or next days's use. To preserve the amity between these ladies, which had so excited my admiration, our communicative host told me that himself, in common with all husbands who preferred peace to passion, adhered to a certain rule of each wife, claiming in regular rotation the connubial attentions of her spouse.—Wherever this monopoly of many women exists, there we find the softer sex regarded by man with a contempt which gives the loveliest bride, or the most respectable mother of his children, scarcely higher rank in his esteem than the best mare in his stud, or the dog that is his favourite to-day and totally neglected to-morrow. In proof of this Mahometan disparagement of women in general, it would be deemed the height of impropriety, while addressing a person of noble quality here, to hint at the female part of his family; and were even the most beloved wife of his bosom at the extremity of some dangerous illness, if a male friend were to make the slightest inquiry after her health, it would be deemed the grossest insult.

Of this remark we find a striking illustration, in a subsequent part of the work of the same entertaining traveller. In his journey from Persia through Asiatic Turkey, he fell in with a party belonging to Abdul Hassan Khan, then Persian ambassador in London. These people were returning from England to Teheran; and under their charge, mounted on a sorry post-horse, was the Fair Circassian, whose appearance both in Paris and in London excited at the time so strong a sensation. She was noticed by the European ladies with much kindness; but the style in which our traveller now beheld her must have formed a sad contrast to what she had then experienced. When the poor creature, says Sir Robert, discerned, on approaching, my Frangy (European) appearance, she was riding forward to address me; but in a moment a rough fellow who was her conductor laid his whip over her shoulders, with so terrible an admonition into the bargain, that closing both her lips and her veil, she travelled on, doubtless with heavy recollections. To interfere in behalf of a woman so situated, would cast a sort of contamination on her, and only redouble her stripes.

SECTION IV.

CHARACTERS OF BEAUTY AMONG THE PERSIANS.

The Persians differ as much from us in their notions of beauty, as they do in those of taste. A large, soft and languishing black