Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/82

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65
PERSIA.

every difficulty that was thrown in his way. He gave him full power to punish his recruits in any manner he chose, and un-
limited control over his troop. It was only upon the article of shaving off beards, that the prince was inexorable; nor would the sacrifice of them have ever taken place, had it not happened that in firing guns before the prince, a powder-horn exploded in the hand of a gunner, who by good luck had been gifted with a long beard, which in an instant was blown away from his chin. Lieutenant Lindsay, seizing this opportunity to prove his argu-
ment on the encumbrance of beards to soldiers, immediately produced the scorched and mutilated gunner before the prince, who was so struck with his woful appearance, that the abolition of military beards was instantly decided upon.

The serbaz, or infantry, were placed under the command of Major Christie, of the Bombay army, an officer of the greatest merit, who inspired his troops with an esprit de corps, which manifested itself on many occasions. Abbas Mirza, who was partial to the corps disciplined partly by the French and partly by himself, thinking that it had acquired more steadiness from being longer embodied than Major Christie's, one day proposed a sham-fight, in which he would lead his corps, and Christie his. They were drawn out, and the prince's troops vigorously attacked those of Christie, who however, ordering a charge of bayonets, put the others to flight. Christie's men, perhaps not fully un-
derstanding that this was intended for play, and warmed by their success, were heard to exclaim: "Oh, that we had ball-car-
tridges!"

The prince complained to the ambassador, that the new sys-
tem which he had introduced had still many enemies, and that the most powerful of them was his brother, Mahomed All Mirza, who had endeavoured to render him and his nezam (discipline) odious to the Persians, by attempting to show that, in adopting the customs of the infidels, he was subverting the religion of Islam, which, till his day, had been upheld by the same sword and the same discipline that had served Mahomed in its estab-
lishment. In order to counteract this, the prince caused a pas-
sage in the Koran, that is favourable to the improvement of the means of attack and defence in the cause of religion, to be copied, sealed, and approved by the chiefs of the land in Persia, and disseminated throughout the country.

The English officers employed in Persia still found many imp-
ediments in their way, originating from the confined ideas which the prince himself had of military science. The neces-
sity of a strict subordination of ranks, seemed to him incompre-
hensible. But the greatest difficulties encountered by our offi-
cers, arose from the knavery and intrigue of the Persian officers