Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/115

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present government, either from a principle of justice or from political motives, we shall adduce a circumstance that happened some years since in the province of Adherbijan, under the ministration of Abbas Mirza, heir-apparent to the throne.

One day, in the month of January 1807, a Persian belonging to the household of the prince-royal thought fit to insult publicly an Armenian merchant of the city of Tabreez, and to abuse him in the grossest manner, for no other reason than the difference of their religions, the Armenian being a Christian. The latter hoped at first to silence Iris aggressor, by addressing to him some pretty sharp reproofs: but a zealous Musulman, acknowledging no other legitimate right than that of his own strength, despises the eternal principles of justice. With defiance on his brow, and blasphemy upon his lips, it is his delight to insult the weak and to calumniate the Christian religion, when he can do it with impunity. Not content, therefore, with personally affronting the Christian merchant in an outrageous manner, this Persian servant launched out into the most atrocious language against Christ, his gospel, the sign of the cross, and other emblems of our religion. These blasphemies roused the indignation of the Armenian to such a degree, that, to punish the aggressor and to avenge his religion before the public, he laid hands on him, and after giving him a sound beating, left him extended on the ground, and quickly returned to his own house.

The man, covered with dirt and blood, presently got up and went straightway to the palace of the prince his master, to prefer his complaint against the Armenian merchant, by whom he had been so roughly handled. He took good care to conceal from the prince the real cause of their quarrel, and interlarded his story with many false allegations against the merchant. Abbas had too much penetration not to perceive the means by which his servant hoped to strengthen his complaint; he nevertheless listened with patience to his whole deposition, which embraced a variety of circumstantial details that had all the appearance of truth, but in reality were nothing but fictions. He then summoned before him the Armenian merchant, and determined to examine him in full divan, and hear what he had to say in his defence. At the same time, he ordered the persons who had witnessed the fray to attend. After hearing their declarations and evidence, the divan was convinced that the servant had without provocation attacked the Armenian, and uttered blasphemies against the Christian religion, and that for these causes only the merchant had beaten the Persian. After this unanimous decision of the divan, the prince commanded the Christian and the Musulman to be confined in separate prisons.

With a view to prevent similar offences in future, to give satis