Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/33

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Feth Ali, who, prior to his elevation, was called Baba Khan, held a command in the army of his uncle Aga Mohammed, who also invested him with the dignity of governor of Shiraz, which he held at the time of Mohammed's death. Such a concurrence of circumstances as rarely happens in a country where the sword gives the only right to the sovereignty, seated him on the throne. When he heard of the assassination of Aga Mohammed, he hastened from Shiraz to Teheran, and was so fortunate as to gain possession of that important place, where the treasures of the empire and the families of all the principal officers fell into his power. He thus ensured the attachment of the soldiery and the fidelity of the most important personages in the state. Hadjee Ibrahim, the most distinguished man in Teheran, declared in his favour; and it was in a great measure owing to his powerful and extensive influence, that the prince met with so little resistance to the accomplishment of his wishes. The murder of this same Hadjee Ibrahim, to whom Feth All Shah was so largely indebted for his elevation, who looked upon him as his own son, and was attached to him with the affection of a father, is an indelible stain upon his character. It is true that he used rather too freely those rights which his services gave him; that he spared neither advice nor rebuke; but if it be frequently a crime to tell truth to princes, ought they to punish it by a crime still more heinous? Feth Ali nevertheless has not the reputation of being a tyrant.

The fate of Hadjee Ibrahim verifies the common remark—Confer a favour on a tyrant, and your reward will be death. It is related on undoubted authority, that the minister was aware of the designs against him, but declared he would not imbrue his hands again in blood: he could easily have destroyed the king, but relied on his gratitude, and conceived that the reward for giving away a crown would at least be mercy. He experienced the contrary, and his women even participated in the fate of their master. But the systematic treachery of the minister did not deserve a better fate. Hadjee Ibrahim experienced the same ingratitude he had shown to Lootf Ali Khan. He had been raised to his situation by the family of the Zunds, and he destroyed it; he was the principal instrument of the elevation of the Cadjars, and they destroyed him.

It is a generally received axiom among the Persians, that he alone is worthy of reigning who has felt the edge of the sword, or at least exposed himself to it. Valour in the estimation of these people is the first of qualities. This must be the case in a country where war is in some measure permanent, and where it is thought as glorious to cut off the head of an enemy with a single stroke of the sabre, as with us to perform the most virtu-