Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/185

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
158
PERSIA.

SECTION II.

THE ARMENIANS.

Shah Abbas I., the greatest monarch of Persia in latter times, kept two objects stedfastly in view, during the course of his long reign—to encourage commerce in his dominions, and to secure them from the inroads of the Turks. To this end, he depopulated Armenia, and removed its inhabitants into the interior of his kingdom, to Ghilan, Mazanderan, and Ispahan, where they exclusively occupied the suburb of Julfa, thus named after one of their native cities. It was, in fact, through Armenia that the Turks always entered Persia. Shah Abbas hoped to prevent their incursions, by interposing a desert between their country and his own.

The result proved the correctness of the views of that great prince. The Armenians, who had previously been husbandmen, soon distinguished themselves by their skill in commerce and the arts; and they particularly excelled in the manufacture of silks. After some time, their numerous caravans, laden with these commodities, traversed Asia, and penetrated even into Europe. A very brisk trade was established between Persia and the West. Persia exported large quantities of silk, and received in return English and Dutch cloths, brocades, Venetian mirrors, cochineal, watches, and other articles. Gold and silver, which had Been very rare in that country, began to circulate in abundance; and the Armenians, the agents of this trade, became the most opulent merchants in the world.

The Armenian possessed the qualities requisite to ensure the complete success. Insinuating, frugal, active, intelligent, he acquired, by incessant pains, attention, and industry, what he preserved by prudence, and a line of conduct very different from that of the generality of European merchants. When he set out on a long journey, he took with him a small stock of flour, biscuit, smoked meat, and dried fruit, part of which he frequently brought back with him on his return: and while he abode in cities, he took up his quarters with some of his countrymen, to save the expense of lodging. If his provisions were exhausted, he bartered pieces of jewellery for more. When he passed through places inhabited by Armenians, he was welcomed by them as a brother, and treated with hospitality: so that he could travel over a vast space at little cost, without ever swerving from his usual temperance and economy.

The state of the Armenians of Persia has been equally affected with that of its other inhabitants, by the late revolutions. These