Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/39

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to him, is a diamond-hilted dagger, which was formerly the property of Lootf Ali Khan, and which, on an emergency, he once threatened to sell, that he might be able to pay up some arrears due to his troops. He wears English boots, and expressed great admiration of the helmets of our light dragoons, which he said he would not scruple to wear.

"To Europeans he is studiously polite: when they visit him, he enters into that kind of conversation which shows a mind eager for information. His rapid manner of speaking, which at first appears affected, is quite natural to him, and gives an appearance of sincerity to what he says, because it does not look premeditated. He is fond of reading, and his studies are chiefly restricted to the historians of his country, of which the Shah Nameh of Ferdousee is his favourite. He is anxious to acquire correct notions respecting the different states of Europe, and has got together a large collection of English books, which he frequently looks at without understanding them, and is always devising plans for getting them translated, but hitherto without success. A copy of the Encyclopædia Britannica was given to him; and it is related that, wishing to find out a piece of mechanism, which he was desirous to have made, he had the patience to turn over all the volumes of that work, until he came to what he wanted. He has also procured a collection of maps from the printing-press at Constantinople, which he has studied; so that he may be considered as perhaps the best geographer in his country. In short, from all that we can learn respecting the character of this prince, we are warranted in concluding, that if he had received an enlightened education, and been brought up with examples of virtue and honour constantly before him, he would not only have been an ornament to his country, but would have classed with the best of men and the best of princes."

Steadily pursuing the plans which he has formed for the improvement of his country, Abbas Mirza is solicitous to make the Persians more and more familiar with the arts and sciences of Europe, and has recently sent two young men to England, one of whom is engaged in the study of surgery, and the other of military engineering. In these plans the prince is faithfully seconded by his visir Mirza Bezoork, who is considered as the ablest statesman in Persia, and whose son is married to one of the king's daughters.

Hussain Ali Mirza, governor of Shiraz, is next to Abbas the greatest favourite with his father. His person and manners are dignified, but his disposition is very different from that of his brother Abbas. Pleasure is the sole occupation of Ali Mirza, who divides his time between the chase and his harem. The