Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/24

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17
PERSIA.

mer. From the 15th of June to to the 15th of August, the season of extreme heat in that country, blows the malignant sam-yel whose breath, swift as lightning, is equally destructive. The inhabitants then forsake the villages and repair to the mountain, where they abide till the return of a temperature that is supportable. The northern provinces, Mazanderan and Ghilan, refreshed by the winds that regularly blow from the Caspian Sea and are repelled by the mountains, enjoy a temperate climate in winter as well as summer. Here the atmosphere is cooler, and the vegetables are succulent; mountains clothed with wood remind the European of the Alps and the Pyrennees; but as he rises from these low tracts, in his progress to the central platform of Persia, the wind becomes colder, the productions of the earth are changed, and he would almost imagine that he was transported into some distant region. Thus the variation of climate depends more on the elevation of the soil than the difference of latitude; so that you may pass in a few hours from the climate of Montpellier, to that of Siberia. The order of the seasons is nearly as follows:

From the middle of May, to the end of September, the heat is excessive along the Gulf and the Indian Ocean, in the Kuzistan, the deserts of Kerman, and even in some parts of the interior, as at Teheran. The summers are generally temperate in tracts of middling elevation. Mr. Kinnier found the mountains covered with snow in July 1810, and the cold was so severe in some of the valleys between Shiraz and Ispahan, that two or three blankets were scarcely sufficient to protect him from it in the night. The winter nevertheless generally begins in November and lasts till March. To the north of Shiraz, in the vicinity of Teheran and Tabriz, that season is very cold, and frequently interrupts for months the communication between those cities and their dependencies. From May till September, the atmosphere is serene, and cooled by the breezes which blow morning and evening.

One striking peculiarity of Persia, is, that a kingdom of such extent contains not a single navigable river, to impart fertility to the country and to facilitate the communication between different provinces. All the mountains, excepting those which run parallel to the Gulf and the Caspian Sea, are destitute of trees, the hills exhibiting nothing but bare and dreary crags. In summer no refreshing dew gives moisture to vegetation, no vapour veils the face of heaven, no fog hovers over the hills. Notwithstanding this general drought, the soil richly remunerates the toil of the cultivator. Wherever despotism has not wholly paralysed the energies of man, and wherever he seconds by his industry the bountiful dispositions of Nature, the earth produces