Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/22

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
15
PERSIA

position, Georgia became, at his death, in 1800, a Russian province, by the name of Grusia. We are well aware what advantage Russia is likely to derive from the acquisition of a province, which at present, indeed, is a burden to her: but it is equally obvious that so long as she retains this province she cannot reckon upon the cordial friendship of a power interposed between her and Hindoostan. It is certain, moreover, that the total produce of Georgia is not equivalent to the immense profits which the Russians would derive from a free and uninterrupted commerce with the Afghans, the people of Cashmere, and even the Hindoos. England, at any rate, may congratulate herself upon it, as a new pledge of the tranquillity and security of her vast Indian empire.

The sovereignty of Khorasan has been for ages disputed with Persia by the Usbecks, who never either wholly subdued or were wholly dispossessed of it. Their invasions of that beautiful province, and the exploits of the Persian warriors against the Tartars who frequently passed the Djihoun, as they still continue to do, have furnished a theme to many of their poets, and the celebrated Firdousee with the subject of an epic containing 120,000 verses. The Shah Nameh (book of Kings). has been famous for upwards of eight centuries throughout all the East, and is justly considered as the masterpiece of Persian poetry.

If, however, the Persians have been frequently disturbed in the possession of Khorasan, they have never wholly lost that rich and extensive province: and according to their own accounts, they have again reduced great part of it, which they will retain till a fresh invasion of the Usbecks.

Notwithstanding the loss of these important possessions, the kingdom of Persia still extends from 26° to 40° north latitude, and from 45° to 61° east longitude, being upwards of 1000 miles in length, and 600 in breadth.

Modern Persia therefore comprehends Fars, Irak Adjemy, Louristan, Kuzistan, part of Kurdistan, Adherbijan, Ghilan, Mazanderan, the western parts of Khorasan, including the cities of Meshed, Nishapour, and Turkish, and the west part of Kerman and its capital.

CHAPTER II.

ASPECT AND NATURE OF THE SOIL—CLIMATE—POPULATION

Dead flats, fully exposed to the intense heat of the sun and covered with burning sand; successive ranges of mountains, some covered with trees, some with snow, others presenting bare masses of rock, separated by spacious valleys; vast uncultivated