Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/64

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king one day called upon to read a list of presents just received, he made so gross a mistake, that his majesty was extremely angry, and about to inflict summary punishment, when he extricated himself from the dilemma, by offering on the spot a large sum of money as an apology for his ignorance.

In his particular department, however, that of raising money to feed the king's coffers, perhaps no man in Persia has ever surpassed him; and with all this, the people of Ispahan, from whom the greater part of his riches are derived, are in general very well disposed towards him. He takes great pride in the improvement of the city and its environs, and with evident success. The public buildings have been repaired and beautified, during his administration; the cultivation has considerably increased, and there is a more general appearance of affluence and prosperity.

It is asserted that Hadjee Mohammed, impressed with the precarious nature of court favour in so arbitrary a monarchy, is in the habit of annually remitting considerable sums to his father, who lives near Bagdad, in order to provide a resource for himself in case of disgrace.



We have not met with any mention of this dignity in modern travellers, though it still exists. Morier introduces, among the Persian ministers, the secretary-in-chief; and Kinnier informs us, that the events of Feth-Ali's reign are regularly written by the royal historiographer, who is no other than the vaca-neviz, or writer of occurrences. Kämpfer calls him chief secretary of state, and adds, that he is styled viziri-chep, or visir of the left, because his place is on the left of the king. The duty of the vaca-neviz consists in keeping an accurate register of all the decisions and decrees of the king; in examining all the acts of his authority; in reporting either to his majesty in person, or to his ministers, all the important events which occur throughout the empire, and in carefully committing them to writing. He is also keeper of the archives of the state, and of the letters and notes of foreign potentates and their ministers, of treaties of peace, and all diplomatic papers. When any difficulty arises in the administration, the vaca-neviz is consulted, that the conduct pursued, or the decision adopted, on a like occasion, may be followed as a precedent. Thus the vaca-neviz is both secretary, keeper of the archives, and historiographer of the state. It is said, that on the first day of the year, he reads, before the king and the whole court, a sketch of the events of the preceding