Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/37

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The king's eldest son, Mohammed Ali Mirza, is invested with the government of Kermanshah. The condition of his mother, who is a Georgian slave, or perhaps the partiality of his father for another son, has excluded him from the throne. He is thirty-five years of age, with a pleasing physiognomy, affable manners, courage, and activity. These qualities will doubtless prove more detrimental than profitable to the state, on the death of Feth Ali; for Mohammed has frequently declared to the king, that the sword should either secure or deprive him of the throne, and that it was his determination to overcome the obstacles placed in his way. Aga Mohammed Khan, who used to treat him with much kindness, once asked him, what he would do were he king. The child, then not more than five or six years old, instantly replied, that his first act would be to destroy him. This answer so enraged his grand-uncle, that he ordered him to be strangled; but he afterwards pardoned him, at the intercession of the present king's mother.

Abbas Mirza, whose mother was of the tribe of the Cadjars, and whom Feth Ali has declared his successor, governs the province of Abherbijan. According to the concurrent testimony of all travellers, the qualities displayed by this prince justify the preference of his father. He is of middling size, his face, though pale, is full of majesty and good-nature, and animated by large black eyes, shaded by well arched eye-brows which meet. He is an excellent horseman, distinguished for his skill in all military exercises, and passionately fond of war. The simplicity of his dress bespeaks the dignity of his mind. When one of his officers once appeared at his court clothed in stuff of gold, and covered with rich ornaments—"What is the benefit of this luxury?" said the prince—"instead of this gold and this tinsel, why do you not buy a good horse, a good sword, and a good gun? Such finery as this belongs to women, and is unbecoming a man, and especially a soldier." The same spirit which dictated this rebuke, is manifested in an anecdote recorded of this prince by Captain Kotzebue, who accompanied the Russian embassy to Persia, in 1817. When the ambassador offered him the presents sent for him by the emperor, among which were a service of porcelain, diamond plumes, &c. Abbas Mirza selected only a superb gun and a sabre: "This," said he, "belongs to me; the rest is too handsome for me; and belongs to the king."

His visir one day entered his palace with a woful and dejected look. The prince inquired the cause of his affliction. The minister hesitated to reply. "Speak," said Abbas—has some public disaster befallen us?—have the Russians gained a victory?—have they taken from us some province?"—"None of these,"