Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/83

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appointed by the prince to aid them in their different commands. The men themselves they found most docile and tractable, receiving the discipline more quickly than even Englishmen: but the moment a mirza or a khan interfered, all was trouble and dispute. Thus, for instance, a mirza who was appointed to pay the men, would keep a per-centage from each man for himself: sums which he received for the supplies of dress, furniture, &c. he would detain to trade with, or put out to usurious interest: nay, a man of some consequence was one day discovered to have stolen two muskets; and similar instances of knavery might be cited without end.

The Persians are greatly deficient in the soldier’s first art, the art of dying. A Persian talking to one of our officers on that subject, said very ingenuously: "If there was no dying in the case, how gloriously the Persians would fight!" Their ideas of courage, indeed, are totally different from ours: they look upon it as a quality which a man may have or not, as he may feel at the moment. One of the king’s generals, who has the reputation of being a courageous man, was not ashamed to own that he and a large body of troops had been kept at bay by two Russian soldiers, who alternately fired their muskets at them, and at length obliged them to move away. In talking of the Russians, they say that they are so divested of feeling, that rather than run away they will die on the spot.

Abbas Mirza, the prince-royal, is said to be personally brave; and in his different encounters with the Russians, he has risked himself farther than necessity required. He punishes cowardice: the following instance was witnessed by the British embassy. One of his generals, Mahomed Bey, had, on some emergency, quitted his post, and run away. The prince degraded him from his rank, tied his hands behind his back, put a wooden sword by his side, seated him on an ass, with his face towards the tail, and thus paraded him through the streets of Tabriz.

The citadel of Tabriz is the most interesting structure in that city, principally because it contains a proof of what the labour and ingenuity of a few Englishmen will accomplish, under all the disadvantages of a bad administration and want of resources. The prince originally intended to make it his own place of residence, but changed its destination, and converted it into an arsenal, where many of the European trades are in full activity. In the first yard are seen a range of guns, and all the accompaniments of artillery: a numerous body of carpenters and wheelwrights work with European tools, under the superintendence of a European. Farther on is a blacksmith's forge, and in another yard are piles of shot: while a series of apartments form workshops fer saddles and other artisans, and neatly ar-