Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/122

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103
PERSIA.

and of honesty in trade: in short, while he outwardly exhibits the bark of all the virtues, the sap of vice will circulate through all his actions.

A French traveller, M. Olivier, has drawn a very just comparison between the Turks and Persians, from which we shall quote a few passages.

In Turkey, every thing bears he stamp of barbarism and cruelty: in Persia, every thing bespeaks a mild and civilized nation. The Turks are vain, supercilious, inhospitable: the Persians polite, complimentary and obliging.

Though at the present day equally superstitious with the Turks, the Persians are not so fanatical: in some particulars, they carry their scruples to a greater length than the former; in general, they will not eat with a person of a different religion; they will not drink out of a cup or a glass which has been used by a Christian, a Jew, or an Indian, and yet they admit any one into their mosques. They listen with patience to all the objections you have to urge against their religion, and to whatever you may say against their prophet and their Imams; whereas the Turk would murder you, if in his hearing you were to speak irreverently of Mahomet and his laws. The Persian looks at you with pity, and prays to heaven that the truth may be revealed. to you in all its lustre. He avoids the subject of religion, but continues to treat you with the same kindness and friendship as ever.

Equally brave with the Turk, more active but less patient, he is, like the other, cruel in battle and implacable towards his armed foe; but more tractable after the combat, and more sociable after peace.

Insurrections for overthrowing the sovereign or his ministers, for plundering caravans, or for laying a city or a province under contribution, are less frequent in Persia than in Turkey. The Persian, however, ranks beneath the Turk in point of morals and perhaps also of character. If the first is better informed, more polite, more gentle, than the second; if he less frequently disturbs the tranquillity of the-state; if he does not so often threaten the lives and property of his fellow-citizens; if he pays more respect to weakness in either sex; he possesses neither that pride nor that magnanimity, neither that self-esteem, that confidence in friendship, nor that devoted attachment to his benefactor, which occasionally produce great things in the Turk.

The Persians seem to be a degenerate people, whose vices have increased during the troubles of the country; whose virtues are perhaps at present but the shadow of what they once were, when the laws were in full vigour, when talents were encouraged, when integrity was honoured, and when each, secure