Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/180

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153
PERSIA.

Colonel Baron Wrede, continues the same writer, who has long served with credit in Grusia, and who was some years since sent on a mission to Persia, relates a better authenticated instance of the poisonous bite of these bugs. It was pretty late in the year, when their bite is considered less venomous than in the heat of summer, and the baron thought that its effect might not be so dangerous as was reported. He determined, therefore, to pass the night at Mianna, taking care, however, to keep a light burning in his apartment. Every one happily escaped, with the exception of a Cossack, who next morning observed a black spot on his foot. The man talked wildly, and at last became delirious. The inhabitants recommended by way of antidote that an ox should be slaughtered, and his skin wrapped while warm round the Cossack's foot: this was done, but to no purpose; he died in dreadful convulsions. The inhabitants assert that persons bitten by these bugs have been saved by tasting nothing but water, sugar, and honey, for forty days. They themselves handle them without danger. It is fortunate that clothes and similar articles do not harbour these vermin, otherwise they might perhaps have spread throughout the whole country.

The Persians have no wheel-carriages: hence the presents carried out for the king by Sir Gore Ouseley, being for the most part too bulky to be loaded on camels, had to be carried by men from Bushire to Teheran, a distance of 620 miles. To lighten the labour of descending the steep mountains, the Persian attendants adopted the expedient of fastening some of the cases upon a gun-carriage, and letting it run at random down the declivities. The destruction of the article attached to it was the almost invariable consequence: out of seventy mirrors, about one-third arrived safe, the rest being entirely demolished.

Among the articles destined for the king was a carriage, which the ambassador, attended by the grand-visir and all the principal officers of state, presented with great formality to his majesty. He walked round the carriage, examined it minutely, admired its beauty, criticised its contrivances, and then got inside, leaving his shoes at the door, and seating himself with much satisfaction on the velvet cushions. Some of the secretaries of state and other persons of rank, in their court-dresses, then fastened themselves to it and dragged the king backward and forward, to his great delight, which he expressed by some good remarks on the convenience of carriages and the ingenuity of Europeans in bringing them to such great perfection. The king kept his seat more than half an hour, observing, that there would be very good sitting-room for two, pointing to the bottom of the carriage as the place for the second. When he had smoked his