Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/152

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125
PERSIA.

iron pot with live charcoal, and as an opposite pendant we see a large leather bottle, holding water-fire and water being essentials to the enjoyment of the kallioun. The attendant must be ready to serve the kallioun instantly at the call of the master. Some use the common wooden tubes; but others, more luxurious, have one that is pliable, winding like a snake several feet in length. It is attached to the conducting tube, which being held by the servant, enables him to attend in his duty and yet keep a respectful distance in his master's rear. The opposite plate represents a grandee smoking on horseback, and attended by a servant on foot.

It cannot be denied, that the incessant use of tobacco renders the people of the East thin and emaciated: this they themselves admit; but the power of habit is stronger than regard for their health. Abbas the Great was desirous of correcting this pernicious custom. One gala-day, he provided pipes ready filled, and ordered them to be handed to the courtiers. From time to time the king inquired how they liked this new sort of tobacco, which, he said, had been sent to him by one of his ministers. They all declared that it was excellent. At length he put the same question to the chief officer of his guards, a man bred in camps, and who was unaccustomed to the polite but frequently false language of courts. "Sire," replied the officer, "I swear by your head that it smells like dung."—" Cursed be the drug," cried Abbas, turning to his courtiers, "which cannot be distinguished from horse-dung" It was in fact that substance, dried and broken small, with which he had caused the pipes to be filled. The use of wine, it is well known, is forbidden by the Mahometan religion. In spite of the prohibition, many of the Persian monarchs of the Sofy dynasty, as Abbas II. and Sefy III. did not scruple to drink wine in public, even to intoxication, in which state they committed the most atrocious excesses. Chardin speaks of a visit to the former of these sovereigns, who, every night on returning home from the palace, looked at himself in the glass with surprise, and felt his head with his hands to make sure that it was still on his shoulders. One evening, his forebodings were realized, for it was no longer in its place. The reigning family of the Cadjars, however, are strict observers of this point of the law of Mahomet, which they enforce both by precept and example. Kotzebue relates an adventure of a khan at Teheran, who was so lax in his observance of it, that his conduct reached the ears of the king. His majesty at first reproved him in strong terms for his immorality, but as this had no effect, he commanded the khan to continue drinking. This order the latter so faithfully obeyed, that he remained in a state of