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rienced any loss. When at home, however, we were the objects of a very importunate curiosity.
Among the sick who came to consult us, and whom we received both from motives of humanity and for our own instruction, some prying and idle individuals contrived to find their way, approached our persons without uttering a syllable, and continued to gaze on us for hours together, without ever accosting us; following all our movements with a degree of attention which seemed to denote suspicion, and which, in any other situation, could not have been tolerated. Yet our costume differed, in no respect, from their own ; like them, we had shaved our hair, and allowed our beards to grow: but we spoke a language which they did not understand, we did things which they had never seen doue, and we were more frequently in a sitting than in a crouching posture. At our meals, they admired our knives, forks, and napkins; and they were astonished at the quantity of food which was served up to us, and consumed. Our dishes also were prepared in a manner different from theirs. They laughed heartily, for example, when they saw us put sugar and milk into our coffee, and take bread along with this mixture. If we ate rice in any other form than that of pilau, they alleged that it could not be good.
These men, however, are not so stupid as their conduct might induce us to believe; for such of them as were somewhat more familiarized or venturesome than the others, and were emboldened to con⚫ verse with us, appeared to be possessed of intelligence, and of a certain degree of information, of which the others were not destitute. All of them betrayed an ease in their deportment, a boldness in their discourse, and notions at once more extended and precise than we usually observe in the labouring class of peasantry.'
M. OLIVIER judiciously ascribes the last-mentioned particularity to the military habits of the country-people, who often pass the best portion of the year in the armies. The few country-women, on the contrary, whom he had occasion to see, were extremely coarse in their manners, very ignorant, and more addicted than their husbands to foolish prejudices. A male villager has seldom more than one wife, though the law permits him to keep four. Excessive jealousy, on the part of the husband, prevails all over Persia; and every detected act of adultery subjects the offending female to capital punishment; but the chastity or the address of the married women renders the infliction of such punishment very rare.
As the author performed a considerable part of the ascent of Mount Albours on horseback, his attention was attracted by large and detached masses of lava; which, being extraneous to the composition of the mountain, appear to have been ejected from it, and, in some cases, to have suffered very little alteration from the action of fire. They are immediately succeeded by a red volcanic soil; and a little farther up, the surface is overspred
overspred with the Rheum ribes. This species of Rhubarb flowers towards the end of April, or the beginning of May, about a month after the melting of the snow; and the leafstalks, either raw or preserved with sugar, &c., are much relished by the Persians. At a still greater elevation, the tra veller and his companions observed enormous pentagonal prisms of basalt, and a considerable variety of rare plants. At the station at which they quitted their horses, and halted for the night, the rocks appeared to be wholly composed of granite and micaceous schistus, with scarcely any traces of vegetation, the herbage being quite parched by the sun. Next morning, they made a fatiguing but unavailing attempt to reach the summit, on foot; and they returned to their horses after an exhausting march of more than an hour and a half.
On the king's arrival at Teheran, the party procured an' audience of the prime minister. The following reflections on this occasion are somewhat enigmatical:
We were extremely anxious to quit Persia. All that we had hitherto seen and heard inspired us with a very unfavourable idea of the government and of the people. Our mission had, no doubt, been completely successful; for they had given a gracious answer to all our demands; they had just dispatched an ambassador to the Ottoman Porte; and it only depended on ourselves to go a step farther, to renew our antient treaties, and to obtain a solemn promise that they would cherish, as in former times, the establishments of the French at Ispahan, Shiraz, and the Persian Gulf. We even entertained no doubt that they would have consented to the cession of the island of Karek, which the court of France had, I believe, demanded of Kerim, before the abolition of our East India Company. But what advantage would France have derived from it? Would it have been prudent to settle in the heart of a kingdom which was ruined, depopulated, and incessantly exposed to convul sive agitations? What protection can be expected in a state which is so often devoted to the most dreadful anarchy; in which all the Khans combine in deadly warfare against each sovereign; and in which the King, while he exercises the most alarming despotism, is always exposed to the sword of an assassin, or to the poison of some ambitious individual?
The cession of the island of Karck, from which the Dutch were expelled in 1765, would certainly have proved a beneficial ob-. ject to us if we had seriously wished for a settlement in Egypt, and had, in consequence, extended our commercial views to the Persian Gulf, to Bussorah, and Bagdad; if we had been solicitous of resuming an active commerce with India; or if we had been desirous of opening communications between the Isle of France, Mascate, and Bussorah. So little importance does the court of Persia attach to cessions on the Gulf, that the Iman of Mascate, whose views are entirely commercial, and who has already obtained the islands of Barrhein, was treating, at our departure, for that of Ormus, which
is known to be more advantageously situated for trade than any spot within the range of Persia, or on the Persian Gulf.
But Persia, we repeat it, in her present state, presents no inviting, prospect to the merchant, because he can depend on no respect for his condition, nor security for his person, nor guarantee for his property. The profits which he might expect to realize, in a moment of calm, are not of sufficient magnitude to induce him to hazard a capital, which a moment of disturbance would annihilate. None know better than the merchant that, when a state advances by rapid strides to its fall, when despotism has obtained in it such an ascendancy that it is a crime to be rich, or to appear to be so,— when his fortune or even his life is incessantly menaced, and when all the bonds of society are ready to be torn asunder, no foreign nation can ever expect to establish in it any beneficial traffic. It belongs to political wisdom to stretch out, if it think proper, the arm of support.'
We are by no means certain that we comprehend all the latent meaning of these oracular sentences. Are we to believe, in genuine simplicity of faith, that this political mission of the naturalists was completely successful, and yet that its objects were no sooner attained than abandoned? Have the French never 'seriously wished for a settlement in Egypt,' nor panted for an 'active commerce with India,' nor been at all anxious for opening communications between the Isle of France and the Persian gulf? By affecting to despise all commercial relations with Persia, does the author mimic the Fox in the fable? Would he deter the English from such international policy? Or, by portraying the miseries which despotism entails on trade, does he aim a sly but refined thrust at the tyranny of Napoleon ?
In a few days after having left Teheran, the travellers' entered on the fertile territory of Kom, the Choana, or Chaona of Ptolemy and Diodorus Siculus. This city, which, under the Sophis, contained 15,000 houses and 100,000 inhabitants, is now represented by a heap of ruins, and about fifty houses still standing near the principal mosque.- Cachan, the next stage, of which the population once amounted to 150,000 souls, still includes about 30,000 inhabitants, retains an air of pomp and magnificence, and has some reputation for its silken stuffs, calicoes, jewellery, copper-vessels, and steel-blades,
We cannot take leave of Cachan, (says the author) without noticing the Scorpions which all travellers have mentioned, and which they have represented as very common and very dangerous in that city. Scorpions, in fact, abound in the whole of Persia; and the eastern mode of preferably residing on the ground floor, and of sitting and sleeping on the earth, renders the inhabitants liable to be bitten by this insect (which is a frequent inmate of their houses) if,
from inattention, they happen to press on it with the hand, or any other part of the body: but, from all the particulars which we could collect, and from all that we could observe, we are persuaded that this insect is not more common at Cachan than at Ispahan, Kom, or Teheran; and that its bite, though almost always followed by a slight inflammation, is never attended with serious danger, even during the excessive heats of summer, if suitable remedies, such as theriaca, olive oil, or the fluor volatile alkali, be applied. With this last mentioned preparation, in the desarts of Arabia, we very speedily checked inflammation, occasioned by the bite of one of these scorpions, which had crept into the bed of a young man from Bagdad, whom we had with us, and who, as he lay down, was bitten in the outer part of the thigh.
At Bagdad, where this same Scorpion is more common than in Persia, and where the heat is more intense, this animal is never the cause of any very disagreeable accident, because the inhabitants have the precaution to sleep on beds raised more than a foot above the surface, and which they place every summer's night on the terraces. These beds are made of the woody substance which is furnished by the leaf of the date-tree.
If all the tales which are circulated among the people of Cachan had the slightest foundation, the town would long since have been deserted, or its inhabitants would have had recourse to another mode of life.'
These remarks are accompanied by a particular description of this species of Scorpion, with references to the plate. The author observed it not only in Persia but in Bagdad, Mesopotamia, Arabia, and Egypt.
In his account of Ispahan, we are not conscious that M. OLIVIER has made any important additions to the more ample details of Chardin, Tavernier, and others. The chief object of his attention in the palace-garden seems to have been a rose-tree, which was at least fifteen feet high, very luxuriant in branches, and formed by the union of several stems, of four or five inches diameter each. At Ispahan it is called the Chinese rose-tree, but the seed, raised in the Parisian garden, has produced the common musk-rose which is cultivated in Europe.
It deserves to be remarked that Azir-Gerib is still celebrated for the fmeness of its fruits, though our artificial aids of grafting, pruning, and dressing, are either unknown or neglected; and yet, with the exception of pears and apples, for which the climate is perhaps too warm, all the fruits in Persia are either superior or equal in quality to those which are produced in France.
The chapter intitled Topography of Persia more properly relates to speculations concerning the physical geography of that country, and particularly to the summer droughts which pre
vail in the elevated plains. The want of moisture is here ascribed, and with much plausibility, to the extirpation of. forests..
An entire and somewhat tedious chapter is devoted to a statement of arguments intended to prove that the Caspian formerly communicated with the Black Sea, that the level of the latter has suffered no considerable depression, and that the former has no subterraneous intercourse with the Indian ocean.
But how has the Caspian Sea been separated from that of Azof? and why has its level subsided, while that of the Black Sea has maintained its elevation? I am inclined to believe, that the alluvial depositions of the Don, the Kouban, the Volga, and of the infinite number of rivers and torrents which descend from the Caucasus, may have sufficed for the gradual accomplishment of this separation. These seas communicated with each other only by means of a channel; and this channel received at its two extremities the alluvial depositions of three great rivers; it likewise received, through its whole length, all the soil which the rains continually detached from the higher mountains of Caucasus. If the Don rolled its stream to Constantinople, or to Lampsacus, can it be supposed that a long series of ages would elapse before the Propontis or the Egean sea would cease to communicate with the Euxine? The Don, which is one of the largest rivers in Europe, could not transport the mud and sand which it carries along with it, nor discharge them into the strait which unites the two seas, without gradually raising the bottom of that strait, and without finally obstructing it. The Volga produced the same effects at the other extremity, and thus contributed to accelerate the stoppage of the channel
This separation was not destined to effect any sensible change. on the level of the Black Sea; for we may presume that, as it always contained more water than was necessary to supply the loss by evaporation, it discharged a portion into the Propontis, into which it now pours all its superfluous water, and threw the other portion into the Caspian, which then preserved it at nearly the same level with the latter. But the Caspian, which had ceased to receive the waters of the Black Sea, or those of the Don and the Kouban, and which then lost more by evaporation than it received by the rains and rivers which fall into it, must necessarily have diminished in extent and height, until the equilibrium was settled as it now is.'
This hypothesis is at least simple and ingenious; and it appears to have been suggested by a coincidence of antient records with existing facts.-One of the most original passages however, in the work, and which appears to have been somewhat too studiously laboured, is the parallel between the Turkish and the Persian character and usages. In this sketch, which is by no means devoid of interest, we apprehend that too much influence is ascribed to the article of dress, in the formation of the physical and moral habits of our species.