Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/38

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PERSIA

answered the minister; but your highness's children are dangerously ill. Their lives are in imminent danger."—"Perhaps they are already dead!" rejoined the prince. The visit then confessed that three of his sons had just expired. "Dead!" exclaimed Abba—"but why should I grieve?—the state loses nothing by it. If I were deprived of three good servants, if death were to snatch from me three useful officers, then indeed, I should have cause for grief. My children, on the other hand, were very young; and God knows whether they would have been useful to their country."

Kotzebue, speaking of the reception of the Russian embassy by this prince at Tabreez, says:—We accidentally discovered an honourable trait in his character, which, in Persia, excited our astonishment. The ambassador observed in the garden a projecting corner of an old wall, which spoiled the beauty of the surrounding objects and disfigured the prospect. His excellency asked the prince why he did not order it to be pulled down. "Only conceive," replied his highness—"with a view to the forming of gardens on a grand scale, I purchased the ground of several proprietors. The owner of that where the wall stands is an old peasant, who has absolutely refused to sell his property to me, because he will not part for any price, with an ancient patrimonial possession of his family. His obstinacy, I must confess, vexes me exceedingly, and yet I cannot but honour him for his attachment to his forefathers, and still more for his boldness in denying me the ground. I must wait till the time when his heir will perhaps be more reasonable."

This prince has exhibited a phenomenon that is truly extraordinary in an Asiatic state, in the relinquishment of those inveterate prejudices which reject all innovations, how palpable soever the advantages with which they are attended. To Abbas Mirza alone is due the introduction of the regular discipline of Europe into the Persian army, and the formation of its artillery within the few last years; and it is allowed by all who have visited the country, that for so short a period he has, with the assistance, indeed, of able English officers, accomplished a great deal.

The character of this prince is thus drawn by Mr. Morier, who enjoyed ample opportunities for observation:—"Abbas Mirza is reported by all travellers to be as superior to the rest of his countrymen in mind, as he certainly is in external qualities. His countenance is always animated, his smile agreeable, and his conversation full of naïveté and pleasantry. In his dress he is scarcely to be distinguished from,other persons, for he generally wears the kadek, the common manufactured cotton stuff of Persia, made up into a single-breasted caba, with a Cashmere shawl round his waist. The greatest piece of finery belonging

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