I may here mention a very absurd fiction, which I have more
than once heard the Zoroastrians maintain in the presence of
Musulmans or Babis, namely, that Zoroaster was identical with
Abraham. The chief argument whereby they seek to establish
this thesis is as follows: "You recognise five 'nabi-i-mursal'"
(prophets sent with new revealed scriptures, as opposed to
prophets merely sent to warn and preach repentance, who are
called "nabi-i-mundhir"), say they, "to wit, Abraham with the
My first introduction to the Babis of Yezd I have already described. The morning after I had taken up my quarters in Ardashir's garden I received a message from Haji Seyyid M--- about 6 a.m., inviting me to take my early tea in a garden of his situated close at hand. Thither I at once repaired, and, after a while, found myself alone with the Babi poet 'Andalib.
"How was it," he began, "that the Jews, although in expectation
of their Messiah, failed to recognise him in the Lord Jesus?"
"Because," I answered, "they looked only at the letter and not the spirit of their books, and had formed a false conception of the Messiah and his advent."
"May not you Christians have done the same," he continued,
"with regard to Him whose-advent you expect, the promised
"Consider the parable of the Lord of the vineyard," he
resumed after a while, "which is contained in your gospel.
First, He sent servants to demand his rights from those wicked
men to whom the vineyard was let; these were the prophets
before Christ. Then He sent His own Son, whom they killed;
this was Christ Himself, as you yourselves admit. And after that
what shall the Lord of the vineyard do? 'He will come and destroy
the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.'"*
"Do you then regard Beha as the Lord of the vineyard, that is to say, as God Himself?" I enquired in astonishment.
"What say your own books?" he replied. "Who is He who shall come after the Son?"
"Well, but what then say you of Muhammad?" I demanded, "for if you accept this parable and interpret it thus there is no place left for him, since he comes after the Son and before the Lord of the vineyard."
"He was a messenger sent to announce the advent of the Lord of the vineyard," replied 'Andallb.
"Then," said I, "he was less than the Son."
"Yes," answered 'Andalib, "he was." He then spoke of
other matters; of the devotion of the youth Badi', who came
on foot from Acre to Teheran, there to meet a cruel death,
with Beha's letter to Nasiru'd-Din Shah; of the martyrs of
Isfahan, and the miserable end of their persecutors, Sheykh
Bakir and the Imam-Jum'a; of the downfall of Napoleon III,
foretold by Beha in the epistle addressed to the French Emperor
Next day I received a visit from a sarhang, or colonel, who
filled at that time a rather responsible post at Yezd, whence he
has since been transferred to another important town in the south
of Persia. He too proved to be a Babi, and conversed very freely
about the new Manifestation. "In accordance with the injunction
'address men according to tbe measure of their understanding,'"
said he, "it behoves every divine messenger to impart to his
people only so much spiritual knowledge as they are capable of
receiving; wherefore, as mankind advances in education, the old
creeds necessarily lose their significance, and the old formuae
become obsolete. So, if a child were to ask what we meant by
saying that knowledge was sweet, we might give it a sugar-plum
and say, 'It resembles this,' so that the child, liking the sugar-
plum, might desire knowledge; though, as a matter of fact, the
two have nothing in common. To rough uncultivated men, such
as the Arabs with whom Muhammad had to deal, the pleasures
of Divine Love cannot be more clearly symbolised than as a
material paradise of beautiful gardens and rivers of milk and
wine and honey, where they shall be waited on by black-eyed
maidens and fair boys. Now we have outgrown this coarse
symbolism, and are fitted to receive a fuller measure of spiritual
truth and wisdom from him who is the Fountain-head of wisdom
and the wisest of all living men, Beha."
Two days later I was invited by Haji Seyyid M---to spend the day with him and his friends in one of his gardens situated outside the town, on the road to Taft. He kindly sent his servant with a horse to convey me thither, and I had lunch and tea there, returning home about sunset. There were a good many guests (all, so far as I could make out, being Babis), including 'Andalib and a very vivacious little merchant on whom, in consideration oś the very humorous manner in which he impersonated, for our amusement, the venal conduct of a certain eminent mula of Yezd on the judgment-seat, the title of "Sheykh" was bestowed. The garden, with its roses, mulberry-trees, pomegranates in full blossom, syringas (nastarjan), cool marble tanks, and tiny streams, was like a dream of delight, and I have seldom spent a pleasanter day anywhere. I conversed chiefly with 'Andalib, who read me some of his own poems, and also wrote down for me one of the beautiful odes attributed to the Babi heroine and martyr Kurratu'l-'Ayn. He talked a good deal about the identity of all the prophets, whom he regarded as successive Manifestations or Incarnations of the Divine Will or Universal Reason.
"If that is so," I urged, "how can you speak of one Manifestation as more perfect than another, or one prophet as superior to another?"
"From our human point of view," he replied, "we are entitled
to speak thus, although from the standpoint of the Absolute it
is incorrect. It is the same sun which rises every day to warn
and light us, and no one for a moment doubts this; yet we say
that the sun is hotter in summer than in winter, or warmer to
day than yesterday, or in a different sign of the zodiac now fron
that which it occupied a month ago. Speaking relatively to ourselves
this is perfectly true, but when we consider the sun apart
from accidents of time, place, environment, and the like, we
perceive it to be ever one and the same, unchanged and
"Is it not strange, then," I asked, "that different prophet should advance different claims, one announcing himself as the 'Friend of God,' another as the 'Interlocutor of God,' another a the 'Apostle of God,' another as the 'Son of God,' and another as God Himself?"
"No," he answered, "and I will strive to make it clearer by
means of a parable. A certain king holding sway over a vast
empire desired to discover with his own eyes the causes of disorders
which prevailed in one of his provinces, so that he might
take effectual measures to remedy them. He determined, therefore,
to go thither himself, and, laying aside his kingly state, to
mix with the people on terms of intimacy. So he wrote a letter
declaring the bearer of it to be an officer of the king's household,
sealed it with the royal seal, and, thus provided, went in disguise
to the province in question, where he announced that he was an
officer sent by the king to enquire into the disorders prevailing
amongst the people, in proof of which he produced the royal
warrant which he had himself written. After a while, when order
had been in some degree restored, and men were more loyally
disposed, he announced himself to be the king's own minister,
producing another royal warrant in proof of this. Last of all
he threw off all disguise and said, 'I am the king himself.' Now,
all the time he was really the king, though men knew him not;
yet was his state and majesty at first not as it was at last. So is it
with the Divine Will or Universal Reason, which, becoming
manifest from time to time for our guidance, declares Itself now
as the Apostle of God, now as the Son of God, and at last as God
Himself. We are not asked to acknowledge a higher status than
It sees fit to claim at any particular time, but the royal signet is
the sufficient proof of any claim which It may advance, including
1 The text of this, with a translation into English verse, will be found
pp. 314-16 of vol. ii of my Traveller's Narrative.
Later on I asked Haji Seyyid M--- what he considered to be the difference between the Sufi saint who had attained to the "Station of Annihilation in God," wherein, like Mansur-i- Hallaj, he could cry, "I am the truth," and the prophet. "What, in short," I concluded, "is the difference between the 'I am God' of Mansur, and the 'I am God' of Beha? For, as your own proverb has it, 'There is no colour beyond black." '
"The difference," said he, "is as the difference between our sitting here and saying, 'See, this is a rose-garden,' and one saying, 'I am such-and-such a rose in that garden. The one reaches a point where, losing sight and cognisance of self, he wanders at will through the World of Divinity ('Alam-i-Lahut); the other is the throne on which God sits, as He Himself saith, 'He set Himself upon the Throne' (istawa 'ala'l-'arsh)*. One is a perfect reflection of the sun cast in a pure clear mirror; the other is the sun itself."
A few days later, after the month of Ramazan had begun, I paid another visit to Haji Seyyid M---'s house, where three of my Zoroastrian friends presently joined me. 'Andalib, as usual, was the chief spokesman, and, amongst other things, laid down the dogma that faith and unbelief were the root or essence of the whole matter, and good or bad actions only branches or subsidiaries. This position I attacked with some warmth.
"Suppose a Jew and a Christian," said he, "the former
merciful, charitable, benevolent, humane, pious, but rejecting
and denying Christ; the latter cruel, selfish, vindictive, but
accepting and reverencing Him. Of these two, which do you
regard as the better man?"
"God forbid!" replied he. "Without doubt the Christian. God is merciful and forgiving, and can pardon sin."
"Can He not then pardon unbelief?" I demanded.
"No," he answered, "from those who do not believe is taken the spirit which once they had, to which the present wretchedness and abasement of the Jews bears witness."
As it did not appear to me that the nations professing the Cluistian religion had suffered much abasement on account of their rejection of Muhammad, I said, thinking to get the better of the argument, "Do you consider that every people which rejects a new Manifestation must be similarly abased?"
He did not fall into my trap, however. "No," he answered, "not unless they have been guilty of some special act of hostility or cruelty towards the bearer of the new gospel."
"What, then," I demanded, "of the Muhammadans? Can one conceive of greater hostility or cruelty than they showed towards the Bab and those who followed him? Shall they too be abased?"
"Yea, verily," he answered, "and grievous shall be their
abasement! Look at these poor guebres" (pointing to my
Zoroastrian friends), "how miserable is their condition! And
why? Because of the sin of Khusraw Parviz, who tore up the
letter which the Apostle of God sent to him, inviting him to
embrace Islam. Yet had he some excuse; for he was a great
king, belonging to a mighty dynasty which had ruled for many
generations; while the letter was from an unknown member
of a despised and subject race, and was, moreover, curt and
unceremonious in the extreme, beginning, 'This is a letter from
Muhammad, the Apostle of God, to Khusraw Parviz.' What shall
we say of the king who not only tore up the letter, but slew
with the most cruel torments the messenger of one greater than
Muhammad, the letter being, moreover, written in the most
courteous and conciliatory tone? But the Christians never acted
I tried to ascertain 'Andalib's beliefs as to the future life, a subject on which I have always found the Babis singularly reticent, and he told me that, according to their belief, the body, the vegetable soul, and the animal soul--all the lower prin- ciples, in fact--underwent disintegration and redistribution, while the "luminous spirit" (ruh-i-nurani) survived to receive rewards or punishments, whereof the nature was unrevealed and unknown. He then turned upon the Zoroastrians and upbraided them for their indifference in matters of religion. "For all these years," he concluded, "you have been seeing and hearing of Jews, Christians, and Muhammadans: have you ever taken the trouble to ascertain the nature of their beliefs, or of the proofs and arguments by which they support them? If for a single week you had given half the attention which you devote to your worldly business to a consideration of these matters, you would, in all probability, have attained to certainty. What fault can be greater than this indifference and neglect?"
A few days after this I returned the Sarhang's visit. He received me very kindly in his house, situated near the mosque of Mir Chakmakh, and, though it was Ramazan, gave me tea, and himself drank a little hot water. The conversation at once turned on religion. He began by discussing the martyrdom of Imam Huseyn, "the Chief of Martyrs," and of 'Abbas, 'Ali Akbar, and the rest of his relatives and companions, at Kerbela, declaring that had it not been for the wrongs suffered by these, Islam would never have gained one-tenth of the strength it actually possesses. From this topic he passed to the Babi insurrection, headed by Aka Seyyid Yahya of Darab, which was put down with great severity in the summer of 1850.
"Two of my relatives were in the army of the malignants,"
"My grandfather, the Shuja'u'l Mulk, when stricken down by his last illness, was dumb till the day of his death. Just at the end, those who stood round him saw his lips move, and, stooping down to hear what he was whispering, heard him repeat the word 'Babi' three times. Immediately afterwards he fell back dead.
"My great-uncle, Mirza Na'im, who also took part in the
suppression of the Niriz rising, fell into disgrace with the
Governrnent, and was twice heavily mulcted--10,000 tumans
the first time, 15,000 tumans the second. His punishrnent did
not stop here: he was made to stand bareheaded in the sun, with
syrup smeared over his face to attract the flies; his feet were
crushed in the Kajar boot; and his hands submitted to the el-chek,
"I will tell you another instance of Divine Vengeance. There was in Shiraz a certain Sheykh Huseyn, who bore the honorific title of Nazimu'l-'Ulama', but who was generally known, by reason of his injustice, as 'Zalim' ('Tyrant'). He was not only concerned in the events I have described, but manifested a specially malignant hatred towards the Bab. So far did this hatred carry him, that when the Bab was before Huseyn Khan, the Governor of Fars, he drew his penknife from his pen-case, and cried, 'If you will not order his execution, I will kill him with this.' Later on, when the Bab had gone to Isfahan, he followed him thither, declaring that he would not cease to dog his footsteps till he had enjoyed the satisfaction of carrying out the death sentence on him; till at last the Governor of Isfahan sent him back to Shiraz, telling him that whenever that time came the mir-ghazab, or executioner, would be ready to do his duty. Well, after his return to Shiraz, he became affected with a scrotal swelling, which attained so enormous a size that he could hardly sit his horse, and had to be lifted into the saddle. Later on, before he died, his face turned black, save that one side was flecked with white spots; and thus he lay in his bed, loathsome alike to sight and smell, smearing his countenance with filth, and crying upon God to whiten his face on the Last Day, when the faces of others should be black. So he died."
A few days after this I again paid a visit to Haji Seyyid M---'s
house. 'Andalib, of course, was there, and took tea with me,
explaining that as his throat was sore he was not fasting that day.
He had found the passages, occurring in Beha's epistle to one
of the Turkish ministers who had oppressed him, wherein the
* Tukhm-i-murgh-ha-yi garm dar mak'ad-ash firu kardand.
It was a pretty sight to see Haji Seyyid M--- with his little child, to which he appeared devotedly attached, and which he would seldom suffer to be long out of his sight. When I had read the passage above translated, he took the book from me and held it out to the little one, saying "Kitab-ra mach kun" ("Kiss the book"), which, after some coaxing, it was prevailed upon to do. A baby Babi!
On the following afternoon I again visited the Sarhang.
Another man, to whom he did not introduce me, was with him
when I arrived, but soon left. The Sarhang upbraided me for
wishing to leave Yezd so soon, saying that he had not seen
nearly as much of me as he would have liked, and then asked
me whether I had attained any greater certainty in the matter
of the Babi religion. I stated certain difficulties and objections,
which he discussed with me. He also showed me some Babi poems,
including one by "Jenab-i-Maryam" (the sister of Mulla Huseyn of
Bushraweyh, the Bab's first convert and missionary), written
in imitation of a rather celebrated ode of Shams-i-Tabriz.
While we were examining these, a servant entered and announced
the arrival of "Khuda" ("God"), and close on his heels followed
the person so designated--a handsome, but rather wild-looking
man--whose real name I ascertained to be Haji Mirza Muhammad,
commonly called "Divane" ("the Madman"). The Sarhang introduced
him as one controlled by Divine Attraction ("majdhub"), whose
excessive love for God was proof against every
I tried to put some questions on religious matters to them,
but at first they would hardly listen to me, pouring forth torrents
of rhapsody. At length, however, I succeeded in stating some
of the matters on which I wished to hear their views, viz. the
position accorded by them to Islam in the series of Theophanies,
and the reasons for its lower standard of ethics and morality,
lower ideal of future bliss, and greater harshness of rule and
practice, as compared with Christianity. The answers which
they returned made me realise once again how widely separated
from each other were our respective points of view. They
seemed to have no conception of Absolute Good or Absolute
Truth: to them Good was merely what God chose to ordain, and
Truth what He chose to reveal, so that they could not understand
how anyone could attempt to test the truth of a religion by
an abstract ethical or moral standard. God's Attributes,
according to their belief, were twofold--"Attributes of
Grace" (Sifat-i-Jemal or Lutf), and "Attributes of Wrath"
(Sifat-i-Jalal or Kahr): both were equally divine, and in some
dispensations (as the Christian and Babi) the former, in some (as
the Mosaic and the Muhammadan) the latter predominated. A
divine messenger or prophet, having once established the validity
of his claim by suitable evidence, was to be obeyed in all things
without criticism or questioning; and he had as much right to
kill or compel, as a surgeon has to resort to amputation or the
actual cautery, in cases where milder methods of treatment
Wishing to ascertain the views of the Sarhang and his friend
"Divane" on Sufiism and its saints, I briefly described to them
certain phases of thought through which I myself had passed,
and certain conclusions as to the relation and significance of
different religions which its teachings had suggested to me. "In
a well-known aphorism," I concluded, "it is said that 'the ways
unto God are as the number of the souls of the children of men.'
Every religion is surely an expression, more or less clear and
complete, of some aspect of a great central Truth which itself
transcends expression, even as Nizami says:--
From a Sufi I should have confidently expected a cordial endorsement of these views, but not from a Babi; and I was therefore surprised by the acclamations with which both of my companions received them, and still more so by the outburst of wild enthusiasm which they evoked in "Divane," who sprang from his seat, waving his arms and clapping his hands, with cries of "You have understood it! You have got it! God bless you! God bless you!"
"Well, then," I continued, "what do you consider to be the
difference between a prophet and a saint who by purification of
the heart and renunciation of self has reached the degree of
"The difference," they replied, "is this. The saint who has reached this degree, and can, like Mansur the wool-carder, say, 'I am the Truth,' has no charge laid on him to guide and direct others, and is therefore not bound to be cautious and guarded in his utterances, since the possible consequences of these concern himself alone, and he has passed beyond himself; while the prophet is bound to have regard to the dictates of expediency and the requirements of the time. Hence it is that, as a matter of fact, most of the great Sufi saints were put to death, or subjected to grievous persecutions."
I did not see "the Madman" again, but the Sarhang paid
me a farewell visit on the morrow, and brought with him another
officer, who, as I was informed, belonged to the 'Ali-Ilahi sect,
and was, like many of that sect, very favourably disposed towards
Babiism, concerning which the Sarhang spoke freely before him.
Meanwhile the time of my departure was drawing near, and it was in some degree hastened by the kindly-meant but some- what irksome attentions of the Prince-Governor. He, as I have already mentioned, had set his heart on my visiting a certain waterfall in the mountains, without which, he declared, my journey to Yezd would be incomplete. As I had no particular desire to see this waterfall, and was anxious to avoid the trouble and expense in which the mounted escort which he wished to send with me would certainly have involved me, I determined to parry his proposals with those expressions of vague gratitude which I had already learned to regard as the most effectual means of defence in such cases, and meanwhile to complete my preparations for departure, and quietly slip away to Kirman with a farewell letter of thanks and apologies, to be despatched at the last moment.
There was no particular difficulty about obtaining mules
"I advise you to give up the idea of going to Kirman
altogether," said 'Andalib; "you will get no good by it, and you see
the difficulties that it involves. Go to Acre instead; that will be
easily done on your homeward journey, and therefrom far greater
blessings and advantages are likely to result."
"But," said I, "I am in some sort pledged to go to Kirman, as I have written to Shiraz and also to my friends in England stating this to be my intention."
"You are quite right," said Ardashir, "and I for my part advise you to adhere to your plan, for to change one's plans without strong rcason is to lay one's self open to a charge of indecision and lack of firm purpose."
"Well," I rejoined, "if I am not to go there on a mule, and cannot hire a horse, what am I to do? Shall I, for instance, walk, or would it be more 'dignified' to go on a camel?"
"Post," said one.
"Buy a horse,' said another.
"As for posting," I said, "I have had enough of that. I
never understood the force of the proverb, 'Es-safar sakar'
After my guests had gone I talked the matter over with
Haji Safar, who was strongly in favour of my buying a horse.
Although he continued to recur with some bitterness to the
fact that he had entered Yezd riding on a donkey, he was good
enough to make no difficulties about riding a mule to Kirman.
Next day Bahman came bringing with him the muleteer who was
to supply me with the two mules I needed for my journey. He
also brought a horse belonging to a Zoroastrian miller, who was
willing to sell it for eighteen tumans (nearly 6 pounds). It was
by no means an ill-looking animal, and both Hajl Safar and myself,
having mounted it and tried its paces, liked it well. However,
with a view to forming a better idea of its capacities, I had it
saddled again in the evening and went for a short ride outside the
town, from which I returned delighted, with a full determination
to buy it. Shortly after my return the owner came to the garden,
and the bargain was soon concluded to the satisfaction of all
concerned. Haji Safar was especially delighted.
"You will have to give me three or four tumans a month more
now," he said, "to look after your horse."
"Or else engage another servant," I suggested. His face fell.
"Don't be afraid," I continued: "I have enough trouble with
you already. You shall have the groom's wages in addition to
your own, and you can either look after the horse yourself or
engage someone else to do so; only, in the latter case, please to
understand clearly that the selection, appointment, payment, and
dismissal of the groom is to be entirely in your hands, and that
in no case will I listen to any complaints on either side, or mix
myself up in any way in the quarrels you are sure to have."
Haji Safar was so elated by this arrangement that he launched
out into a series of anecdotes about one of his former masters,
named Haji Kambar, who had held some position of authority
(that of chief constable or governor, I believe) in Teheran, some
fifteen years previously. Although his own morals do not seem
to have been beyond reproach, he punished the offences of others
with great severity. He ordered a dervish who had got drunk
on 'arak to be bastinadoed for three hours; and even Seyyids
were not protected from castigation by their holy lineage, for
which, nevertheless, he would profess the greatest respect,
causing the dark-blue turbans and sashes which were the outward
sign thereof to be transferred to a tree or bush, to which
he would then do obeisance ere he bade his farrashes beat the
unlucky owner of the sacred tokens within an inch of his life.
"One evening," continued Haji Safar, "I and three others of his
pishkhidmats (pages) were taking a stroll in the town when we
noticed in a coffee-house a man accompanied by what we at first
took to be a very handsome youth, round whose kulah a handkerchief
was tied in Kurdish fashion, so as to conceal the hair. On
looking more attentively, however, we were convinced that
this seeming youth was really a woman in disguise, so we
arrested the two, and brought them to Hajl Kambar's house.
Then I went to him, and said, 'Master, we have brought something
I had not yet bought my horse or completed my preparations for departure, when I was again sent for by the Prince-Governor. This time I had not to go on foot, for one of my Babi friends insisted on lending me a very beautiful white horse which belonged to him. I tried to refuse his kind offer, saying that the Dastur was to accompany me to the Government House, and that as he could not ride I would rather go on foot also.
"In our country," I said, "we are taught to respect age and learning, and the Dastur is old and learned, for which reason it appears to me most unseemly that I should ride and he walk beside me. He is a Zoroastrian, I am a Christian; both of us are regarded by the Musulmans as infidels and unclean, and, if they could, they would subject me to the same disabilities which are imposed on him. Let me, therefore, walk beside him to show my contempt for those disabilities, and my respect for the Dastur and his co-religionists."
"If you desire to better the Zoroastrians," replied my friend,
"it is advisable for you to go to the Prince with as much state
and circumstance as possible. The more honour paid to you,
Half an hour before sunset the horse and servant of my friend
came to the garden, and immediately after them the usual band
of Government farrashes with a large lantern. I had arrayed
myself in a new suit of clothes, made by a Yezdi tailor, of white
shawl-stuff, on the pattern of an English suit. These were cool,
comfortable, and neat; and though they would probably have
been regarded as somewhat eccentric in England, I reflected that
no one at Yezd or Kirman would doubt that they were the ordinary
summer attire of an English gentleman. Haji Safar, indeed,
laughingly remarked that people would say I had turned Babi
(I suppose because the early Babis were wont to wear white
raiment), but otherwise expressed the fullest approval.
The first question addressed to me by the Prince on my
entering his presence was, "When are you going?" On hearing
that I proposed to start on the next day but one, he turned to
the Dastur and enquired whether he intended to accompany me. The
Dastur replied that he could not do so, as one of the Zoroastrian
festivals, which necessitated his presence in Yezd, was close at
hand, and that as it lasted a week I could not postpone my
departure till it was over. Hearing this, the Prince wished
to rearrange my plans entirely. I must go on the morrow, he
said, to visit the waterfall and the mountains, remain there five
days, then return to the city to see the Zoroastrian festival, and
after that accompany the Zoroastrians to some of their shrines
and holy places. Protestations were vain, and I was soon reduced
to a sulky silence, which was relieved by the otherwise unwelcome
intrusion of a large tarantula, and its pursuit and slaughter.
After conversing for a while on general topics, and receiving
for translation into English the rough draft of a letter which
the Prince wished to send to Bombay to order photographic
apparatus for his son, Minuchihr Mirza, I was suffered to depart.
I now determined to carry into effect my plan of taking French leave of the Prince; and accordingly, my preparations being completed, on the very morning of the day fixed for my departure I wrote him a polite letter, thanking him very heartily for the many attentions he had shown me; expressing regrets that the limited time at my disposal would not suffer me either to follow out the programme he had so kindly arranged for me or to pay him a farewell visit; and concluding with a prayer for the continuance of his kindly feeling towards myself, and of his just rule over the people of Yezd. This letter I confided to the Dastur, who happened to be going to the Government House, together with the English translation of the order which the Prince wished to send to the Bombay photographer.
I now flattered myself that I was well out of the difficulty
and returned with relief to my packing; but I had reckoned
altogether without my host, for in less than an hour I was
interrupted by the Prince's self-sufficient pishkhidmat, who
brought back the letter to the Bombay photographer with a request
that I would write a literal translation of it in Persian. This
involved unpacking my writing materials, and while I was engaged
in this and the translation of the letter, one of the servants
of my Babi friends came with a horse to take me to their house.
Towards this man the pishkhidmat behaved with great insolence,
asking him many impertinent and irrelevant questions, and finally
turning him out of the room. At length I finished the translation,
and, to my great relief, got rid of the pishkhidmat, as I hoped,
for good. I then proceeded to the house of my Babi friends,
bade them a most affectionate farewell, received from them the
promised letters of recommendation for Kirman, and the names of
the principal Babis at Nuk, Bahram-abad, and Niriz, and returned
about sunset to the garden. Here I found the Dastur, Ardashir,
and Bahman awaiting me, and also, to my consternation, the
irrepressible pishkhidmat, who brought a written message from
the Prince, expressing great regret at my departure,
"In the Abode of Security of Kirman. May it be honoured by the august service of the desirable, most honourable, most illustrious, nobly-born lord, the most mighty, most puissant prince, His Highness Nasiru'd-Dawla (may his glory endure!), governor and ruler of the spacious domain of Kirman.
"On the fourteenth of Ramazan was it despatched. 2468*.
"May I be thy sacrifice!
"Please God [our] religious devotions are accepted, and the care of God's servants, which is the best of service, on the part of the desirable, most honourable, most illustrious, most mighty and eminent prince (may his glory endure!) is approved in the divine audience-hall of God; for they have said--
"At all events, the bearer of this letter of longing and service is my respected and honoured friend, of high degree, companion of glory and dignity, Iduard Barum Sahib, the Englishman, who, having come to visit this country, and being now homeward bound, hath set his heart on Kirman and the rapture of waiting upon the servants of the nobly-born prince. Of the characteristics of this illustrious personage it is needless for me to make any representation. After meeting him you will be able to appreciate his good qualities, and the degree of his culture, and how truly sensible and well informed he is, for all his youth and fewness of years. The laudable traits which he possesses, indeed, are beyond what one can represent. Since he has mentioned that he is setting out for Kirman, my very singular devotion impelled me to write these few words to the Blessed Presence. I trust that the sacred person of Your desirable, most illustrious, most mighty, and eminent Highness may be conjoined with health and good fortune. More were redundant."
It was two hours after sunset when I returned to the garden,
and finally got rid of the Prince's pishkhidmat with a present of
two or three tumans. Haji Safar said that he should have had a
watch or some other gift of the kind rather than money, which,
he feared, might be refused or taken amiss. However, I had no
watch to spare; and I am bound to confess that he was condescending
enough to accept the monetary equivalent with grace if not gratitude.
The farrashes having likewise been dismissed with presents of money,
Little now remained to be done but to eat my supper, put
a few finishing touches to my packing, and distribute small
presents of money to some of those who had rendered me
service. They came up in turn, called by Haji Safar; old Jamshid
the gardener received 12 krans, his little son Khusraw 6 krans,
another gardener named Khuda-dad 12 krans, and Haji Seyyid
M---'s servant, 20 krans. The farewells were not yet finished,
for just as I was about to drink a last cup of tea, two of my Babi
friends came, in spite of the lateness of the hour, to wish me
God-speed. Then they too left me, and only Bahman was present
to watch the final departure of our little caravan as it passed
silently forth into the desert and the darkness.