Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/58

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

selected from among all the tribes, but more particularly from that of the Cadjars. Half of these troops are disciplined in the European manner, and half in the Persian. The former, who belong to the king's household, are called Djan-baz, in contradistinction to those trained by the princes, and especially by Abbas Mirza, who are denominated Ser-baz. The first of these appellations signifies "one who plays with his soul," and the latter "one who plays with his head." Both are expressive of devotedness and valour. The costume of a superior officer of the Ser-baz is shown in the annexed plate.

The kechikdjees reside and have their families at Teheran, or in the adjacent villages: they are obliged to assemble at the first signal. Their duty consists in marching about in the ark, or citadel, in which the palace is situated, and in going from tower to tower. When they relieve guard, a Mirza, or prince belonging to the corps, reviews it and calls over the names. If any officer or soldier is absent, he is severely punished. The rank of Serkechidjee is in great request, and the princes of the blood themselves deem it an honour to be appointed to it.

The Gholam-shahees form the cavalry of the royal guard, and the kechikdjees the infantry. These troops are clothed, equipped, and maintained, at the expense of the king.


of the king's power.

It has already been stated, that the government of Persia is monarchical: perhaps it might be more properly called tyrannical —for what other term ought to be applied to the administration of a prince, whose power is not balanced by any class in the state, who has a right according to his caprice to deprive of property, nay, even of life itself, every subject who is so unfortunate as to incur his displeasure; in short, who can gratify his every whim, without being accountable to men for any of his actions? The opinion of the Persians respecting royalty is favourable to this unlimited power. Persuaded that the crown is conferred by the Almighty, and that the possessor, though neither Iman nor descendant of Ali, the son-in-law of Mahomet, is nevertheless the vicegerent of this legislator, the successor of the apostle of God, they set no other bounds to their submission than those of their fanaticism. Not but that they charge the sovereign with violence and injustice: for it is a common expression in their language, when a person has sustained an injury and complains to the judge, to say: "He has played the king with me?"—"Art thou then king?" cries the Persian to the rapacious governor who robs him of his property, and harasses him