Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/84

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ranged store-rooms. The Persians are delighted with this place, and it is frequently visited by the prince, who takes great pleasure in inspecting the works, and learning the uses and properties of every article. His chief delight is a machine for boring cannon, which is worked by a buffalo, and enables him to make guns of any calibre.



The customs of a nation separated from us by an immense space, are the more interesting the more they differ from our own. We also observe with pleasure the coincidences between both; as a traveller is delighted to meet with the plant of his own county in a distant land. In contemplating the manners and customs of the Persians, we rarely experience the latter kind of satisfaction: here all is new; but from this novelty springs the interest which we take in studying them.

Among these people, one and the same ceremony is frequently practised to exalt a man to dignity, or to strip him of it, and even to deprive him of his life.

When the king has selected one of his officers to fill any post whatever, the secretary of state prepares his commission on a paper two or three feet long, adorned with gold and painted with different colours. The best writers in the office are commonly chosen to engross documents of this kind. The imperial seal is placed at the top of the paper, within an ornament of gold and brilliant colours. This place belongs exclusively to the seal of the sovereign; for the position of that appendage denotes in the East the quality of the writer, as well as of the person to whom he writes. Thus, the royal seal is the only one put at the head of a letter; that of the princes is affixed lower down, and that of the ministers at the lowest extremity; lastly, the seal of persons of inferior rank is placed at the back of the letter.

The paper, so sealed, is put into a bag of very light gauze, and this bag is inclosed in another of gold brocade: after which, the whole is addressed to the person appointed to the office. The appointment is always accompanied with khilaut or robe of honour, a sabre, and a dagger adorned with precious stones, if the office be of a military nature; or with a rich ink-horn, seven or eight inches long and one broad, if in the civil department.

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