Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/35

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
28
PERSIA.

erally conduct themselves well when abroad; and the quickness of their intellect soon making them masters of their objects, they return home in the prime of life, bringing back not merely the learning and practice for which they were sent out, but seeds of moral, mental, and national improvements; which being gradually sown in the minds of the people, nothing can prevent producing their natural harvest.

Th long tranquillity which has reigned in the interior of the empire, ever since the death of the last sovereign, Aga Mohammed Khan; the comparatively flourishing state of the country, with the increase of its population and revenue, speak strongly in favour of the reigning monarch, who is so far from having imbibed the tyrannous style of rule common with many of his predecessors, that the arm of blood is never raised by his order, but over the head of the robber and murderer.

Perhaps, however, his passion for riches is not less strong, though not indulged by violence, than that which impelled those short-sighted tyrants to sacrifice the life of a subject in order to secure his treasures. The whole of the higher orders pursue the same object, with an avidity by which the lower classes are great sufferers; a general system of exaction in those above them depressing their industry by extorting its fruits.

Feth Ali Shah is not merely a lover of poetry, but himself a poet, and the author of some pleasing compositions of that kind. The chief of the poets of his court is in high favour with him, and receives for his praises and the effusions of his genius more substantial remuneration. The king is said to pay him a toomaun (about eighteen shillings sterling) for every couplet; and it is even asserted that he has once released him from the payment of a considerable sum due from him to the royal exchequer, as a reward for a poem which he had composed.

The governor of Kashan was indebted for his appointment to his being an excellent poet. On his sending the king a present of one of his compositions, he expressed greater satisfaction at the gift than at the sumptuous offering of Chiragh Ali Khan, which amounted to some thousands of pounds; but, adds Mr. Scott Waring, he would be very sorry to have all his governors poets, and all their presentations poems.

The species of poetry for which his majesty shows the strong-predilection, is the light, amorous and playful. His compositions are chiefly ghazels, that is, odes or songs, the chief merit of which consists in expressions, metaphors, and allusions, which lose nearly all their beauty, spirit, and elegance, in translation. Of these pieces, the traveller just quoted gives the two following specimens:—

"If thou wert to display thy beauties, my beloved, to Wamiq,