Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/98

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79
PERSIA.

neck above the shoulder. For this purpose, the criminal is fastened by the heels to a pack-saddle on the back of a camel, with his head hanging nearly to the ground. After the horrid sentence has been executed, the camel with the bisected body is led through the whole town, preceded by an officer who proclaims the nature of the crime. The remains of the culprit are then hung to a pole or a tree, either in the country or in the suburbs, or even in the meidan, or open place before the palace.

Mr. Morier relates, that during the residence of the embassy which he accompanied at Shiraz, the report of a gun was one day heard, and on inquiry it was found to be the execution of a thief, who had been blown from the mouth of a mortar. Three men had been condemned to death by the prince-governor, for robbery: one was beheaded; the second blown up; and the third was cut in half, and the two parts of his body hung over two of the most frequented gates of the city, as a warning to other thieves. This horrid spectacle was displayed for three days.

Another cruel punishment reserved for robbers, who, since the accession of Feth Ali Shah, have been treated with peculiar severity, is the following:—The tops of two young trees are pulled down by means of a rope; one of the legs of the criminal is fastened to each of them, and the ropes are suddenly loosed: the force with which the trees return to their original erect position, tears the body of the unfortunate wretch in two. Impaling, cutting off the hands and legs, and immuring between four walls, were punishments usual in Persia in Chardin's time.

The death inflicted on grandees who have incurred the anger of the king, varies according to his pleasure. The most common is beheading: but if the fault be attended with aggravating circumstances, ingenious cruelty easily finds out refinements of suffering. A French gentleman relates, that during his residence in the camp of Feth Ali Shah, he witnessed the punishment inflicted on one of the king's officers, who had been convicted of peculation. His majesty caused the culprit's hands to be nailed together in his presence, over his breast, and two hundred strokes with a stick to be administered on his back. This punishment, nevertheless, was not considered as ignominious; and it was generally asserted, that this officer would appear again at court, as soon as he should be well enough.

When the reigning Shah aspired to the throne, the nation was divided into several parties, whose leaders were actuated by the same ambition of reigning. Saduk Khan Chegaughee, the richest and most powerful of them, was alone able to make any long resistance. Having been at length discomfited in a battle near Casvin, he was persuaded to surrender to the king, provided his blood should not be split. The king gave his solemn