IN no town which I visited in Persia did I make so many
friends and acquaintances of every grade of society, and every
shade of piety and impiety, as at Kirman. When I left I made
a list of all the persons who had visited me, or whom I had
visited, and found that the number of those whom I could
remember fell but little short of a hundred. Amongst these
almost every rank, from the Prince-Governor down to the mendicant
dervish, was represented, as well as a respectable variety of
creeds and nationalities--Beluchis, Hindoos, Zoroastrians,
Shi'ites and Sunnis, Sheykhis, Sufis, Babis, both Beha'i
and Ezeli, dervishes, and kalandars belonging to no order,
fettered by no dogma, and trammelled by but few principles.
Hitherto I had always been more or less dependent on the
hospitality of friends, whose feelings I was obliged to consult
in choosing my acquaintances; here in Kirman thc garden where
I dwelt was open to all comers, and I was able without let
or hindrance to pursue that object which, since my arrival in
Persia, had been ever before me, namely, to familiarise myself
with all, even the most eccentric and antinomian, developments
All this, however, did not come to me at once, and would
not, perhaps, have come at all but for a fortunate misfortune
which entirely altered all my plans, and prolonged the period
of my stay at Kirman from the fortnight or three weeks which
I had originally intended to a couple of months. For just as I
was about to depart thence (having, indeed, actually engaged a
muleteer for the journey to Shiraz by way of Sirjan, Khir, and
Niriz), I fell a victim to a sharp attack of ophthalmia, which for
some weeks compelled me to abandon all idea of resuming my
travels. And this ophthalmia, from which I suffered no little
pain, had another result tending to throw me more than would
otherwise have been the case into the society of dervishes,
dreamers, and mystics. Judge me not harshly, O thou who hast
never known sickness--ay, and for a while partial blindness--
in a strange land, if in my pain and my wakefulness I at length
yielded to the voice of the tempter, and fled for refuge to that
most potent, most sovereign, most seductive, and most enthralling
of masters, opium. Unwisely I may have acted in this matter,
though not, as I feel, altogether culpably; yet to this
unwisdom I owe an experience which I would not willingly
have forfeited, though I am thankful enough that the chain of
my servitude was snapped ere the last flicker of resolution and
strenuousness finally expired in the Nirvana of the opium-smoker.
I often wonder if any of those who have returned to tell the tale
in the outer world have wandered farther than myself into the
flowery labyrinths of the poppy-land, for of him who enters its
fairy realms too true, as a rule, is the Persian opium-smoker's
"Sir Opium of ours for every ill is a remedy swift and sure,
But he, if you bear for a while his yoke, is an ill which knows no cure."
Although it was some while after my arrival in Kirman that I became numbered amongst the intimates of the aforesaid Sir Opium, he lost no time in introducing himself to my notice in the person of one of his faithful votaries, Mirza Huseyn- Kuli of Bam (a pleasant, gentle, dreamy soul, of that type which most readily succumbs to the charm of the poppy), who came to visit me in Na'ib Hasan's company on the very day of my entry into the garden. Soon after this, too, I came into daily relations with another bondsman of the all-potent drug, one 'Abdu'l Huseyn, whom Haji Safar, in accordance with the agreement made between himself and myself at Yezd, had hired to look after my horse. He was far advanced on the downward path, and often, when sent to buy bread or other provisions in the shops hard by the city-gate, would he remain away for hours at a time, and return at last without having accomplished his commission, and unable to give any account of how the time had passed. This used to cause me some annoyance till such time as I too fell under the spell of the poppy-wizard, when I ceased to care any longer (because the opium-smoker cares not greatly for food or indeed for aught else in the material world save his elixir), nay, I even found a certain tranquil satisfaction in his vagaries. But I must leave for a while these delicious reminiscences and return to the comparatively uneventful fortnight with which my residence at Kirman began. Of this I shall perhaps succeed in giving the truest picture by following in the main the daily entries which I made in my diary.
On the day of my instalment in the garden (Wednesday,
5th June, 25th Ramazan) I received several visitors besides the
opium-smoker of Bam. Chief amongst these was a certain
notable Sheykh of Kum, whose doubtful orthodoxy had made
Thursday, 6th June, 26th Ramazdn.--Soon after I was up I
received a visit from Na'ib Hasan (who, indeed, lost no time in
In the afternoon I went into the town, accompanied by Haji Safar and Mirza Yusuf, notwithstanding a message which I received from the Sardar of Sistan informing me of his intention of paying me a visit. We passed the walls, not by the adjacent Derwaze-i-Nasiriyya, but by another gate called Derwaze-i- Masjid ("the Mosque Gate"), lying more to the west, from which a busy thoroughfare (thronged, especially on "Friday eve," with hosts of beggars) leads directly to the bazaars, and paid a visit to my Zoroastrian friends in the caravansaray of Ganj 'Ali Khan (where, for the most part, their offices are situated) and to the post-office. In the bazaars I met a quaint-looking old Hindoo, who persisted in addressing me in his own uncouth Hindi, which he seemed to consider that I as an Englishman was bound to understand. We returned about sunset by the way we had come, and met crowds of people, who had been to pay their respects to a deceased saint interred in a mausoleum just outside the Mosque Gate, re-entering the city.
On reaching the garden I found another visitor awaiting me--
an inquisitive, meddlesome, self-conceited scion of some once
Friday, 7th June, 27th Ramazan.--In the morning I was
visited by an old Zoroastrian woman, who was anxious to learn
whether I had heard in Teheran any talk of Aflatun ("Plato")
having turned Musulman. It took me some little while to
discover that the said Aflatun was not the Greek philosopher
but a young Zoroastrian in whom she was interested, though
why a follower of "the good Mazdayasnian religion" should
take to himself a name like this baffles my comprehension. In
the afternoon I was invaded by visitors. First of all came a
Beluch chief named Afzal Khan, a picturesque old man with
long black hair, a ragged moustache, very thin on the upper
lip and very long at the ends, and a singularly gorgeous coat.
He was accompanied by two lean and hungry-looking retainers,
all skin and sword-blade; but though he talked much I had
some difficulty in understanding him at times, since he spoke
Persian after the corrupt and vicious fashion prevalent in India.
He enquired much of England and the English, whom he evidently
regarded with mingled respect and dislike. "Kal'at-i-Nasiri
is my city," he replied, in answer to a question which I
put to him; "three months' journey from here, or two months
if your horse be sound, swift, and strong. Khan Khudadad Khan
is the Amir, if he be not dead, as I have heard men say lately."
He further informed me that his language was not Beluchi but
Brahu'i, which is spoken in a great part of Beluchistan.
The next visitors to arrive were the postmaster, Aka Muhammad
Sadik (the young Yezdi merchant of whom I have already spoken),
and the eldest son of the Prince-Telegraphist. The last
upbraided me for taking up my abode in the garden instead of
in the new telegraph-office, which his father had placed at my
disposal; but his recriminations were cut short by the arrival of
Saturday, 8th June, 28th Ramazan.--In the morning I visited
one of the shawl-manufactories of Kirman in company with
Rustam, Na'ib Hasan, and Mirza Yusuf of Tabriz. Our way lay
through the street leading to the Mosque Gate, which, by reason
of the Saturday market (Bazar-i-Shanba), was thronged with
people. The shawl-manufactory consisted of one large vaulted
room containing eleven looms, two or three of which were
standing idle. At each loom sat three workers, one skilled
workman in the middle, and on either side of him a shagird or
apprentice, whom he was expected to instruct and supervise. There
were in all twenty-five apprentices, ranging in years from children
of six and seven to men of mature age. Their wages, as I learned,
begin at ten tumans (about 3 pounds) a year, and increase gradually
to twenty-four or twenty-five tumans (about 7 pounds 10 shillings).
In summer they work from sunrise to sunset, and in winter they
continue their work by candle-light till three hours after sunset.
They have a half-holiday on Friday (from rnid-day onwards),
thirteen days' holiday at the Nawruz, and one or two days more
on the great annual festivals, while for food they get nothing as
I next visited the one fire-temple which suffices for the spiritual
needs of the Kirman Zoroastrians, and was there received by the
courteous and intelligent old Dastur and my friend Ferfdun. I
could not see the sacred fire, because the mubad whose business
it was to tend it had locked it up and taken the key away with him.
In general appearance this fire-ternple resembled those which I
had seen at Yezd. I enquired as to the manuscripts of the sacred
books preserved in the temple, and was shown two: a copy of the
Avesta of 210 leaves, transcribed in the year A.H. 1086 (A.D.
1675-6), and completed on "the day of Aban, in the month of
Bahman, in the year 1044 of Yezdigird," by the hand of Dastur
Marzaban, the son of Dastur Bahram, the son of Marzaban, the
son of Feridun; and a copy of the Yashts, completed by the hand
of Dastur Isfandiyar, the son of Dastur Nushirvan, the son of
Dastur Isfandiyar, the son of Dastur Ardashir, the son of
Dastur Adhar of Sistan, on "the day of Bahman, in the month
In the evening I went for a ride outside the city with Feridun,
Rustam, and the son of the postmaster. We first visited a
neighbouring garden to see the working of one of the dulabs
generally employed in Kirman for raising water to the surface.
The dulab consisted of two large wooden wheels, one set horizontally
and the other vertically in the jaws of the well, cogged together.
A blindfolded cow harnessed to a shaft inserted in the axle of the
former communicated a rotatory motion to the latter, over which
a belt of rope passed downwards into the well, to a depth of
about five ells. To this rope earthenware pitchers were
attached, and each pitcher as it came uppermost on the belt
emptied its contents into a channel communicating with a small
reservoir. The whole arrangement was primitive, picturesque,
As we rode homewards in the gathering twilight the postmaster's son craved a boon of me, which I think worth mentioning as illustrative of that strange yearning after martyrdom which is not uncommon amongst the Babis. Bringing his horse alongside of mine at a moment when the two Zoroastrians were engaged in private conversation, he thus addressed me:--" Sahib, you intend, as you have told me, to visit Acre. If this great happiness be allotted to you, and if you look upon the Blessed Beauty (Jemal-i-Mubarak, i.e. Beha'u'llah), do not forget me, nor the request which I now prefer. Say, if opportunity be granted you, 'There is such an one in Kirman, so-and-so by name, whose chief desire is that his name may be mentioned once in the Holy Presence, that he may once (if it be not too much to ask) be honoured by an Epistle, and that he may then quaff the draught of martyrdom in the way of the Beloved.'"
Sunday, 9th June, 29th Ramazan.--To-day I received a
demonstration in geomancy ('ilm-i-ramal) from a young Zoroastrian,
While Bahram was busy with his geomancy, a dervish boy, who
afterwards proved to be a Babi, entered the room where we were
sitting (for the dervish is free to enter any assembly and to
go wherever it seemeth good to him), and presented me with a
white flower. I gave him a kran, whereupon, at the suggestion
of one of those present, he sung a ghazal, or ode, in a very
sweet voice, with a good deal of taste and feeling.
Later on in the day I visited Mirza Rahim Khan, the Farrash-
bashi, and Sheykh Ibrahim of Sultan-abad, whom I have already
had occasion to mention. The latter, as I discovered, had, after
the manner of kalandars of his type, taken up his abode in the
house of the former, till such time as he should be tired of his
host, or his host of him. Thence I went to the house of the
Sheykh of Kum, where I met two young artillery officers, brothers,
one of whom subsequently proved to be an Ezeli Babi. I was
more than ever impressed with the Sheykh's genial, kindly
manner, and wide knowledge. I enquired of him particularly
In the evening I received another visit from the garrulous
Haji Muhammad Khan, who seemed to me rather less disagreeable
than on the occasion of his first call. After his departure
a temporary excitement was caused by the discovery of a theft
which had been committed in the garden. A Shirazi muleteer,
who intended shortly to return home by way of Sirjan and Niriz,
had greatly importuned me to hire his mules for the journey
and this I had very foolishly half consented to do. These mules
were accordingly tied up in the garden near my horse, and it was
their coverings which, as the muleteer excitedly informed us,
had been removed by the thief. The curious thing was that my
horse's coverings, which were of considerably more value, had
not been touched, and I am inclined to believe that the muleteer
hirnself was the thief. He caused me trouble enough afterwards;
for when, owing to the ophthalmia with which I was attacked,
I was obliged to rescind the bargain, he lodged a complaint
against the poor gardener, whom he charged with the theft. A
farrash was sent by the vazir to arrest him; whereupon the said
gardener and his wife, accompanied by the myrmidon of the law,
came before me wringing their hands, uttering loud lamentations,
and beseeching me to intercede in their favour. So, though
Monday, 10th June, 30th Ramazan.--In the morning I visited several persons in the town, including two of my Zoroastrian friends, Shahriyar and Bahman. The shop of the former was crowded with soldiers just home from Jask and Bandar-i-'Abbas, so that conversation was impossible, and I left almost immediately. Bahman, on the other hand, had only one visitor, an old seyyid named Aka Seyyid Huseyn of Jandak, of whom I afterwards saw a good deal--in fact rather more than I wished. He conversed with me in a very affable manner, chiefly, of course, on religious topics, and, amongst other things, narrated to me the following curious legend about Christ:--
"Once upon a time," said the Seyyid, "the Lord Jesus (upon
whom be peace) entered into a certain city. Now, the king of
that city had forbidden any one of his subjects, on pain of death,
to shelter Him or supply Him with food; nevertheless, seeing
a young man of very sorrowful countenance, He craved his
hospitality, which was at once accorded. After the Lord Jesus
had supped and rested, He enquired of His host wherefore he
was so sorrowful, and eventually ascertained that he had fallen
in love with the king's daughter. Then said the Lord Jesus, 'Be
In the evening I received a visit from some of the leading
members of the Hindoo community, thirteen or fourteen in
number, who begged me to let them know if, at any time,
they could be of service to me in any way. "We owe you this,"
said they, "for it is through the protection of your government
that we are able to live and carry on our business here in safety
and security." Later in the evening I partook of supper with
several of the Zoroastrians at the dulab of the elder Gushtasp.
Tuesday, 11th June, 1st Shawwal.--In the morning I had a visit
In the afternoon I again went into the town to pay some
visits. I entered it by the Derwaze-i-Gabr, to the east of the
Derwaze-i-Nasiriyye, and visited an old mosque situated near
to that gate. This mosque had, as I was informed, been wilfully
destroyed by a former governor of the city, but it still showed
traces of its ancient splendour. After visiting the Hindoos and
some of my Zoroastrian friends, I proceeded to the house of
the Sheykh of Kum, with whom, as it had been arranged, I was
to pay my respects to the Prince-Governor. After drinking tea
we accordingly repaired to the Bagh-i-Nasiriyye, which is situated
near to the gate of the same name. On the arrival of Prince
Nasiru'd-Dawla we were conducted to an upper chamber, where
he received me in the kindliest and most friendly manner. He
talked to me chiefly about the condition of Beluchistan (which,
as well as Kirman, was under his government), and declared that
a very notable improvement had taken place during the last few
years. I then presented my letter of recommendation from
Prince 'Imadu'd-Dawla of Yezd, and took occasion to mention
the forlorn condition of Mirza Yusuf of Tabriz, and his hope
In the evening I was again entertained at supper by one of my Zoroastrian friends named Shahriyar. All the other guests were of "the good religion" save myself, Na'ib Hasan (who still continued to accompany me everywhere, and to consider himself as invited to every feast whereunto I was bidden), and a singer named Faraju'llah, who had been summoned for our entertainment.
Wednesday, 12th June, 2nd Shawwal.--Towards evening I was visited by the Beluch chief, Afzal Khan, and his son; Seyyid Huseyn of Jandak; the Sheykh of Kum, and his friend the young Babi gunner; and Mulla Yusuf the Ezeli. Between the last and Seyyid Huseyn a violent dispute arose touching the merits and demerits of the first three caliphs (so called), 'Omar, Abu Bekr, and 'Othman, whereby the other visitors were so wearied that they shortly departed, and finally the Seyyid was left in undisputed possession of the field, which he did not abandon till he had prayed the prayers of sundown (magbrib) and nightfall ('asha), and explained to me at length the significance of their various component parts, adding that if I would remain in Kirman for one month he would put me in possession of all the essentials of Islam. Na'ib Hasan and Feridun had supper with me in the char-fasl, or summer-house, on the roof of which I sat late with the latter, and finally fell asleep, with the song of a nightingale, sweet-voiced as Israfil, ringing in my ears.
Thursday, 13th June, 3rd Shawwal.--In the morning, while
walking in the bazaars, I met Afzal Khan, the Beluch, with his
ragged and hungry-looking retainers. He invited me to return
with him to his lodging, situated near the Derwaze-i-Rig-abad,
and I, having nothing else to do, and not wishing to offend
him, accepted his invitation. On our arrival there he insisted,
In the afternoon I visited Mulla Yusuf the Ezeli, who, though
he talked about nothing else than religion, confined himself,
much to my disappointment, to the Muhammadan dispensation.
He admitted my contention that by many paths men may attain
to a knowledge of God, and that salvation was not for the votaries
of one religion only, but maintained that, though all roads led
Friday, 14th June, 4th Shawwal.--This afternoon Mulla Yusuf
the Ezeli and one of his friends came to visit me and continue
the discussion of yesterday. They talked much about Reason,
and the Universal Intelligence, which, according to the words
"Awwalu ma khalaka'llahu'l-'Akl," was the first Creation or
Emanation of God, and which, at diverse times and in diverse
manners, has spoken to mankind through the mouth of the
prophets. Reason, said they, is of four kinds; 'akl bi'l-kuwwa
("Potential Reason," such as exists in an untaught child); 'akl
bi'l-fi'l ("Actual" or "Effective Reason," such as belongs to
those of cultivated intelligence); 'akl bi'l-malaka ("Habitual
Reason;" such as the angels enjoy); and 'akl-i-mustakfi ("All-
sufficing Reason"). This last is identical with the "First
Intelligence" ('akl-i-awwal), or "Universal Reason" ('akl-i-kulli),
which inspires the prophets, and, indeed, becomes incarnate in
them, so that by it they have knowledge of all things--that is,
of their essences, not of the technical terms which in the eyes of
men constitute an integral part of science. Whosoever is endowed
with this "All-sufficing Reason," and claims to be a prophet,
must be accepted as such; but unless he chooses to advance
Mulla Yusuf told me another anecdote about 'Ali, which, though it is well-known to students of Arabic history*, will bear repetition. He had overthrown an infidel foe, and, kneeling on his prostrate body, was about to despatch him with his sword, when the fallen unbeliever spat in his face. Thereupon 'Ali at once relinquished his hold on his adversary, rose to his feet, and sheathed his sword. On being asked the reason of this, he replied, "When he spat in my face I was filled with anger against him, and I feared that, should I kill him, personal indignation would partially actuate me; wherefore I let him go, since I would not kill him otherwise than from a sincere and unmixed desire to serve God."
At this point our conversation was interrupted by the arrival
of Mirza Yusuf of Tabriz accompanied by one of the Prince's
servants, who in turn were followed by Feridun and Na'ib Hasan.
The two last and Mirza Yusuf remained to drink wine after the
others had gone; and Mirza Yusuf, who was in a boastful
humour, began to say, "If you wish to know anything about
* See, for instance, el-Fakhri (ed. Ahlwardt), p. 54.
Saturday, 15th June, 5th Shawwal.--To-day, while I was sitting
in the shop of a merchant of my acquaintance, Haji 'Abdu'llah
of Shiraz, Bahram-i-Bihruz hurried up to inform me that his
friend the magician, Haji Mirza Muhsin, the controller of spirits
and genies, was at that moment in his shop, and that if I would
come thither he would present me to him. I wished to go at
"This Sahib," said Na'ib Hasan, as soon as the customary greetings had been interchanged, "has heard of your skill in the occult sciences, and desires to witness a specimen of the powers with which you are credited."
"What would it profit him?" replied the magician; and then, turning to me, "Is your motive in desiring to witness an exhibition of my powers a mere idle curiosity? Or is it that you seek to understand the science by means of which I can produce effects beyond the power or comprehension of your learned men?"
"Sir," I answered, "my object in making this request is, in the first instance, to obtain ocular evidence of the existence of powers generally denied by our men of learning, but which I, in the absence of any sufficient evidence, presume neither to deny nor to affirm. If, having given me such evidence of their existence as I desire, you will further condescend to acquaint me with some of the principles of your science, I need not say that my gratitude will be increased. But even to be convinced that such powers exist would be a great gain."
"You have spoken well," said the magician with approval, "and I am willing to prove to you the reality of that science concerning which you doubt. But first of all let me tell you that all that I can accomplish I do by virtue of powers centred in myself, not, as men affirm, by the instrumentality of the jinn, which, indeed, are mere creatures of the imagination, and have no real existence. Has any one of you a comb?"
Haji 'Abdu'llah at once produced a comb from the recesses
of his pocket, and handed it to Haji Muhsin, who threw it on
"Are your men of learning acquainted with any force inherent in the human body whereby motion may be communicated, without touch, to a distant object?"
"No," I replied, "apart from the power of attraction latent in amber, the magnet, and some other substances, we know of no such force; certainly not in the human body."
"Very well," said he, "then if I can make this comb come to me from the spot where it lies, you will have to admit that I possess a power whereof your learned men do not even know the existence. That the distance is in this case small, and the object light and easily movable, is nothing, and does not in the least degree weaken the force of the proof. I could equally transport you from the garden where you live to any place which I chose. Now look."
Then he moistened the tip of his finger with his tongue, leaned over to the left, and touched the comb once, after which he resumed his former position, beckoned to the comb with the fingers of his left hand, and called "Bi-ya, bi-ya" ("Come! come!"). Thereat, to my surprise, the comb spun rapidly round once or twice, and then began to advance towards him in little leaps, he continuing the while to beckon it onwards with the fingers of his left hand, which he did not otherwise move. So far one might have supposed that when he touched the comb with his moistened finger-tip he had attached to it a fine hair or strand of silk, by which, while appearing but to beckon with his fingers, he dexterously managed to draw the comb towards him. But now, as the comb approached within eighteen inches or so of his body, he extended his left hand beyond it, continuing to call and beckon as before; so that for the remainder of its course it was receding from the hand, always with the same jerky, spasmodic motion.
Haji Muhsin now returned the comb to its owner, and
"Well," I replied rather tartly, "I did not steal it at any rate; I bought it in Teheran for three tumans to replace my own watch, which I lost in Turkey. How it came into the hands of him from whom I bought it I cannot, of course, say."
After this the magician became very friendly with me,
promising to visit me in my lodging and show me feats far more
marvellous than what I had just witnessed. "You shall select
any object you choose," said he, "and bury it wherever you
please in your garden, so that none but yourself shall know
where it is hidden. I will then come and pronounce certain
incantations over a brass cup, which will then lead me direct
to the place where the object is buried." Hearing that I was
to visit the vazir of Kirman, he insisted on accompanying me.
The vazir was a courteous old man of very kindly countenance
and gentle manners, and I stayed conversing with him for more
than half an hour. A number of persons were present, including
the kalantar, or mayor, whose servant had that morning received
a severe application of the bastinado for having struck the
kedkhuda, or chief man, of a village to which he had been sent to
collect taxes or rents. Haji Mirza Muhsin, who lacked nothing so
little as assurance, gave the vazir a sort of lecture on me (as
though I were a curious specimen), which he concluded, somewhat
to my consternation, by declaring that he intended to accompany
me back to my own country, and to enlighten the
On leaving the vazir's presence, I accompanied the magician to his lodging, and was introduced to his brother, a finelooking man of middle age, dressed after the fashion of the Baghdadis in jubbe, fez, and white turban, who spoke both Arabic and Ottoman Turkish with fluency. There were also present a number of children, belonging, as I gathered, to Haji Mirza Muhsin, who was still mourning a domestic tragedy which had recently led to the death of his eldest son, a lad of sixteen. "Ah, you should have seen him," he said, "such a handsome boy, and so quick and clever. None of my other children can compare with him." He did not acquaint me with the details of his son's untimely death, which, according to Na'ib Hasan were as follows:--One of Mirza Muhsin's servants, or disciples had a very beautiful wife, with whom his son fell madly in love. Mirza Muhsin, on being informed by the boy of his passion, promised to induce the girl's husband to free her by divorce. In this he succeeded, but, instead of bestowing her hand on his son, he married her himself. The lad remonstrated vehemently with his father, who only replied, "It was for my sake, not yours, that her former husband divorced her." Thereupon the boy, in an access of passionate disappointment, shot himself through the head two stages out from Kirman, whither they were then journeying from Sirjan.
Sunday, 16th June, 6th Shawwal.--To-day I was invited to take
my mid-day meal (nahar) with the postmaster. On my way thither
I encountered, near the Derwaze-i-Masjid, one of my Zoroastrian
friends, Key-Khosraw, who informed me with some excitement that
two "Firangis" had just arrived in Kirman. "Come and talk to them,"
he added, "for they are now in the street a little farther on."
I accordingly followed him, though with no great alacrity, for I
enjoyed the feeling of being the only European in Kirman, and had
no wish to spoil the unmixedly
There I found one Mirza Muhammad Khan, of the Shah
Ni'matu'llahi order of dervishes; Sheykh Ibrahim of Sultan-abad;
and another, a parcher of peas (nokhud-biriz by profession,
whom, as I shall have to say a good deal about him before I
bid farewell to Kirman, and as I do not wish to mention his real
name, I will call Usta Akbar. Till lunch-time we sat in the
tanbal-khane ("idler's room" or drawing-room), smoking kalyans
and conversing on general topics, including, of course, religion.
The postmaster told me that he had a book wherein the truth of each
dispensation, down to the present one (or Babi "Manifestation"),
was proved by that which preceded it; and this book he
promised to lend me so soon as it was returned to him by a
Zoroastrian in whose hands it then was. I asked him about the
signs which should herald the "Manifestation" of the "End of
Time," and he said that amongst them were the following:--
That men should ride on iron horses; that they should talk with
one another from great distances; that they should talk on their
fingers; and that men should wear women's clothes and women
After lunch most of the guests indulged in a nap, but the parcher of peas came and talked to me for a while in a very wild strain, with which I subsequently became only too familiar. "If you would see Adam," he said, "I am Adam; if Noah, I am Noah; if Abraham, I am Abraham; if Moses, I am Moses; if Christ, lo, I am Christ." "Why do you not say at once 'I am God'?" I retorted. "Yes," he replied, "there is naught but He." I tried to ascertain his views as to the future of the human soul, but could extract from him no very satisfactory answer. "As one candle is lit from another," he said, "so is life kindled from life. If the second candle should say, 'I am the first candle,' it speaks truly, for, in essence, it is indeed that first candle which has thrust forth its head from another garment."
Presently we were interrupted by the arrival of visitors, the officious and meddlesome Haji Muhammad Khan, and the Mulla- bashi. As soon as the customary forms of politeness had been gone through, the latter turned to me, saying--
"Sahib, what is all this that we hear about you and Haji Mirza Muhsin the magician? Is it true?"
"If you would kindly tell me what you have heard," I replied, "I should be better able to answer your question."
"Well," he answered, "Haji Mirza Muhsin is telling everyone that
you, being skilled in the Magic of the West, had challenged
him to a contest; that you gave what proofs you could of your
power, and he of his; but that he wrought marvels beyond your
power, and, amongst other things, wrote a few lines
"Really," I replied, "I am not; and, were I disposed to do so, Haji Muhsin (whom, after what you have told me, I must regard as a liar of quite exceptional attainments) is not exactly the sort of person who would effect my conversion. As for his story, every word of it is false; all that actually happened was this" (here I described our meeting in Haji Shirazi's shop). "Furthermore, my father, by the grace of God, is alive and in good health; neither do I see why, in any case, he should address me in French, since my language and his is English."
On returning to the garden I found Afzal Khan the Beluch
and his retainers, Mulla Gushtasp, and Aka Seyyid Huseyn of
Jandak, awaiting my arrival. The first, somewhat overpowered
by the Seyyid's theology, probably, left very soon; but the
Seyyid, as usual, stayed a long while and talked a great deal. He
first of all produced a small treatise on physiognomy ('ilm-i-
kiyafa), of which he declared himself to be the author, and
proceeded to apply the principles therein laid down to me. "You
have a long arm and long fingers," said he, "which shows that
you are determined to wield authority and to exercise supremacy
over your fellows, also that you take care that whatever work you
do shall be sound and thorough." He next produced a collection
of aphorisms which he had written out for me, of which the only
one I remember is, "Eat the bread of no man, and withhold thine
own bread from none." He then dictated to me four questions
connected with religion, which he wished me to copy out on four
separate pieces of paper, and send to the Prince-Governor, with
a letter requesting him to submit them to four learned theologians
(whom he named), and to require them to
While we were engaged in this conversation, the proprietor
of the garden, Mirza Jawad, son of Aka Sewid Rahim, the
late vazir of Kirman, was announced. He was a portly,
pleasant-looking man of about forty-five or fifty, and was
accompanied by his son, a very beautiful boy of unusually
fair complexion, with dark-blue eyes, and long eyebrows and
eyelashes, rendered even more conspicuous than they would
naturally have been by a liberal application of surma (antimony).
The Seyyid, however, did not allow their presence long to
interrupt the unceasing stream of his eloquence, and began to
catechise me about the gospels, asserting that the very fact of
there being four proved that they were spurious, and that the
true gospel had disappeared from the earth. He then enquired
whether wine was lawful according to our law. I replied that
it was, inasmuch as we knew that Christ Himself tasted wine on
several occasions. "I take refuge with God!" cried the Seyyid;
"it is a calumny: this alone is sufficient to prove that your gospels
are spurious, for none of the prophets have ever drunk wine."
"Well," I said, "I do not quite see your object in trying to
disprove the genuineness of our gospels. I imagine that you wish
to convince me of the truth of Islam, but please to remember
that if you could succeed in convincing me that the gospels
now in our hands are forgeries, you having no other and genuine
gospel to put in their place, you would be no nearer converting
me to Islam, but rather further from it than at present. You
would either make me disbelieve in revealed religion altogether,
or you would drive me back on the Pentateuch and make me
The Seyyid outstayed the other visitors, and, squatting down by the little stream, proceeded to give me much advice (a thing whereof he was ever prodigal), mingled with hints and warnings which I was for some time unable to comprehend.
"Don't cultivate the acquaintance of so-and-so" (mentioning one of my Babi friends) "too much," he began, "and don't visit his house more than you can help. The Prince doesn't like him."
"Why doesn't he like him?" I enquired.
"The Prince had a very beautiful wife called Panba ('Cotton')," rejoined the Seyyid, "and one day in a fit of temper he said to her, 'Go to your father's house,' but without explicitly divorcing her. Your friend Mirza--- lived next door to her father, saw her, was smitten with her charms, and took her in marriage; and when the Prince (who soon repented of his hasty conduct) desired to take her back, he found that she was the wife of another. Naturally he was greatly incensed with Mirza---."
"Naturally," I said, "but he would hardly be incensed with me for visiting him."
"You don't understand my point," said the Seyyid. "The
"What nonsense!" I exclaimed, "why, I never even heard of Panba till this moment, and when I go to see Mirza--- am naturally not introduced to his wives."
"Never you mind that," said he; "take my advice and keep
away from his house. You can't be too careful here. You don't
know what the Kirmanis are like. It was a most fortunate thing
that Mirza Jawad found me here when he came to see you."
"It was very nice for him," I replied, "no doubt. But why
so specially fortunate?"
"Because," answered he, "seeing that I am your friend and
associate, and hearing our improving conversation, he will
think the better of you, and will be the slower to credit any
slanders against you which he may hear."
"I am not aware," said I, "that I have given any occasion for
"Perhaps you do not know what people say about your
servant Haji Safar's sigha" returned he.
"What do you mean?" I demanded sharply; "I was not
aware that he had a sigha."
The Seyyid laughed--a little, unpleasant, incredulous laugh.
"Really?" said he; "that is very curious. I should have
supposed that he would have consulted you first. Anyhow, there
is no doubt about the matter, for I drew up the contract myself.
And men say that the sigha, though taken in his name, was really
intended for you."
Here I must explain what a sigha is*. A Shi'ite may, according
to his law, contract a temporary marriage with a woman of his
* For fuller details see Querry's Droit Musulman (Paris, 1871), vol.i, pp. 689-695, from which admirable compendium of Shi'ite law I have drawn several of the particulars given in the text.
The Sewid's hints, whether intended maliciously or prompted
"Nonsense," I said, "they are a quiet, peaceable, downtrodden folk, these same Kirmanis, though over-fond of idle tattle. Besides you know what Sheykh Sa'di says--'an-ra ki hisab pak-ast az muhasabe che bak-ast?' ('To him whose account is clean what fear is there of the reckoning? ') But in future I hope that you will be carefull to avoid doing anything which may compromise my good name. I have no wish to interfere either with your religion, or with such indulgences as are accorded to you by it, but I have a right to expect that you will avoid anything which is liable to discredit my character." And so the matter dropped, the quotation from Sa'di being more effective (as quotations from Sa'di or Hafiz always are with a Persian) than any quantity of argument.
I have had occasion to allude to the unrighteous quibbles
whereby the mullas, while keeping the letter, contravene the
spirit of the law; and I may here add an instance (which was
related to me to-day by one of my Babi friends) of the gross
ignorance which sometimes characterises their decisions. A
certain man in Kirman, wishing to expose this ignorance,
addressed the following question to a distinguished member of
the local clergy. "I agreed with a labourer," said he, "to dig
in my garden a hole one yard square for eight krans: he has
dug a hole half a yard square. How much should I pay him?"
"Half the sum agreed upon, of course," said the mulla, "that
is to say four krans." After thinking for a while, however, he
Monday, 17th June, 7th Shawwal.--This afternoon I visited a
young secretary of the Prince's with whom I had become
acquainted, and found him with the son of the Prince-Telegraphist,
Mulla Yusuf, and other congenial friends (all, or nearly all,
Ezeli Babis) sitting round a little tank which occupied the centre
of the room, and smoking opium. The discussion, as usual, turned
on religion, and Mulla Yusuf gave me some further instances of
the quibbles whereby the Shi'ite clergy and their followers
have made the law of no effect. "There are," said he, "six
obligations incumbent on every Musulman, to wit, Prayer (salat),
Fasting (siyam), Pilgrimage (hajj), Tithes (khums), Alms
(zakat), and, under certain circumstances, Religious Warfare
(jihad). Of these six, the last three have practically become null
and void. Of Religious War they are afraid, because the infidels
have waxed strong, and because they remember the disastrous
results which attended their more recent enterprises of this sort*.
As for the Tithes (khums, literally 'fifths'), they should be paid
to poor Seyyids or descendants of the Prophet. And how do you
suppose they manage to save their money and salve their
consciences at the same time? Why, they place the amount
of the money which they ought to give in a jar and pour treacle
(shire) over it; then they offer this jar to a poor Seyyid (without,
* See my Traveller's Narrative, vol. ii, pp. 118-119, and n. 3,on the
On returning to the garden I found a note from the officious Haji Muhammad Khan, enquiring whether I had learned anything more about the two Frenchmen who had arrived in Kirman. He had also left with Hajl Safar a verbal message asking for some brandy, which message, by reason of Seyyid Huseyn's presence, Haji Safar communicated to me in Turkish. "Don't attempt to conceal anything from me," exclaimed the Seyyid, "by talking a foreign language, for I perfectly understand what you are talking about." This, however, was, as I believe, a mere idle boast.
From Mulla Yusuf I to-day obtained a more circumstantial
account than I had yet heard of an event which some time ago
created a good deal of excitement in Kirman, especially amongst
the Babis. A lad of fifteen, the son of an architect in the city,
who had been brought up in the doctrines of the Sheykhis, turned
Babi, and, inspired by that reckless zeal which is the especial
characteristic of the "people of the Beyan," repaired to
Tuesday, 18th June, 8th Shawwal. --This afternoon, I received
another visit from Afzal Khan the Beluch, who wished me to
give him a letter of introduction to my friend the Nawwab
Mirza Hasan 'Ali Khan at Mashhad, whither he proposed to
proceed shortly. Then he began to persuade me to accompany
him thither, and thence onwards to Kandahar and . Kal'at-i-
Nasiri, his home in Beluchistan. "You say you are a traveller,"
conduded he, "desirous of seeing as much as you can of the world:
well, Beluchistan is part of the world, and a very fine part too;
not Persian Beluchistan, of course, which is a poor, miserable
place, but our own land." I declined his seductive offer, and
thereupon he taunted me with being afraid. At this juncture
the Sheykh of Kum and the postmaster's son arrived.
"Well," said the Sheykh, when the usual greetings had been
"Hitherto," I replied, "I have hardly seen them, and
consequently am not in a position to form an opinion."
"They declare themselves to be Frenchmen," continued the Sheykh,
"but if so it is a very astonishing thing that they should be so
wanting in good manners as they appear to be, for we always
suppose the French to be remarkable amongst European nations
for their courtesy and politeness."
"Your supposition is correct, as a rule," I answered, "even
though there be exceptions; but you know the aphorism 'en-
nadiru k'al-ma'dum' ('the exceptional is as the non-existent')
In what way have they shown a lack of courtesy?"
"Why," said the Sheykh, "his Royal Highness the Prince
(may God perpetuate his rule!) naturally wished to see them and
ascertain the business which had brought them here, so he sent
a message inviting them to visit him. They refused to come. He
was naturally very angry; but, seeing that they were Firangis,
and so (saving your presence) not to be judged by our standards
of good behaviour, he swallowed down his annoyance, and sent
another message saying, 'Since you do not wish to visit me, I
must needs visit you.' In answer to this second message they
sent back word that their lodging was not suitable for receiving
so august a personage. His Royal Highness hesitated to punish
their churlishness as it deserved; but, finding that they had with
them a Persian attendant lent to them by the Governor of Mashhad
(with whom Prince Nasiru'd-Dawla is not on the best of terms),
he ordered him to come to the palace for interrogation on the
following day; 'for,' thought he, 'him at least I can oblige
to speak.' When the Firangis found that their fists were going
to be opened* in spite of them, they decided to accompany their
man before the Prince, and, without giving any notice of their
visit, in they marched with their great dirty boots (which
"I don't know," said I; "all I can say is that they talk French,
so far as I can judge, as though it were their native language."
"Don't you believe a word of it," broke in the Beluch;
"they are no more French than I am. Who are the French that
they should dare to act towards his Royal Highness as these
men have done? No; they are either Russians or English; of
that you may be sure."
We laughed at the Beluch's ideas on the balance of power in
Europe, while he continued with increasing excitement--"If
his Royal Highness will but give me a hint, I will seek out
these Firangis in their lodging--I and my companions here
--and will kill them, and cut off their heads, and lay them
at the Prince's feet."
"And how would you do that?" asked the Sheykh, with
difficulty suppressing his mirth.
"Do it?" rejoined Afzal Khan; "easily enough. I would
find out where they lodged, walk in one fine day with an 'es-
selamu 'aleykum' ('peace be upon you'), and cut them down with
this sword of mine before they had time to speak, or flee, or
offer the slightest resistance."
"Oh," said the Sheykh, "but that wouldn't be at all right; you
shouldn't say 'peace be upon you' to a man you are just going to
"Why not?" retorted the Beluch, "they are infidels, kafirs,
and such it is lawful to slay in any manner."
"But he is a kafir too," slyly remarked the Sheykh, pointing towards myself.
"Yes, I know he is," exclaimed the Beluch, "and if only---" Here he was interrupted by a general roar of laughter.
"O most excellent Khan," I cried, as soon as the general
merriment had somewhat subsided, "now your fist is opened!
Now I see why you were so eager for me to accompany you to
your interesting, hospitable country. A long journey, in sooth,
would it have been, and one, as I think, on which I might have
set out singing--
The Beluch hung his head in some confusion, and then began
to laugh gently. "You are quite right, Sahib," he said, "but
I know very well that you are an agent of your government,
engaged in heaven knows what mischief here."
"Why, look at me," I replied; "I live, as you see, like a
dervish, without any of the circumstance or having which befits
an envoy of such a government as ours."
"Ay," he retorted, "but you English are cunning enough to
avoid ostentation when it suits your own ends to do so. I know
you to my cost, and that is the way it always begins."
And so the matter dropped, and that was the last I saw of
my friend Afzal Khan.
Later on several other visitors came; the Seyyid, of course;
Haji Shirazi, who was immensely convivial, having, as he
informed me, drunk half a bottle of brandy "for his stomach's
sake"; and the parcher of peas. The last drew me aside out of
the hearing of the Seyyid (between whom and himself subsisted
a most violent antipathy), and said he had come to ask me to
have supper one night with him, the postmaster, and some other
"Thank you," I said, "I shall be very pleased to come any evening that suits you, and I am no less anxious than yourself for an opportunity for some quiet conversation; for hitherto, though I know that many of my friends here are Babis, we have only talked on side-issues, and have never come to the main point. And it is about the Bab especially, and Kurratu'l-'Ayn, and the others, not about Beha, that I want to hear. It was he whom I heard about and learned to admire and love before I left my native country: and since my arrival in Persia, though I have conversed with many Babis, it is always of Beha that they speak. Beha may be very well, and may be superior to the Bab, but it is about the Bab that I want to hear."
"Yes," he replied, "you shall hear about him, for he is worth
hearing about--the Lord Jesus come back to earth in another
form. He was but a child of nineteen when his mission began,
and was only twenty-six when they killed him--killed him
because he was a charmer of hearts, and for no crime but this--
"Oh," he replied, "the original verse is 'Iraki's, and runs
At this point the Seyyid was seen approaching us, and the
parcher of peas fled as from the Angel of Death. But Haji
Shirazi outstayed even the Seyyid, and after supper consumed
Wednesday, 19th June, 9th Shawwal.--This morning I received a visit from a very melancholy person, who, I think, held the office of treasurer to the Prince-Governor. He told me that he did not like Europeans, and would not have come to see me if he had not heard that I, unlike most of them, took an interest in religious questions, into which he forthwith plunged, arguing against the possibility of the use of wine being sanctioned by any true prophet, and defending the seclusion of women and the use of the veil. Against these last I argued very earnestly, pointing out the evils which, as it appeared to me, resulted from them. He was silent for a while after I had finished speaking, and then said:--
"It is true; I admit the force of your arguments, and I cannot at this moment give a sufficient and satisfactory answer to them, though I believe there must be one. But I will not attempt to give an insufficient answer, for my sole desire is to be just and fair."
Before he left he told me that he suffered much from indigestion,
brought on by excessive meditation, adding, "I fear, I fear greatly."
I asked him what he feared, and he replied, "God."
In the afternoon Feridun came to me while I was sitting in
Haji Shirazi's shop, to arrange for a visit to the dakhme, or
"tower of silence" of the Zoroastrians. Haji Shirazi was most
insolent to him, calling him a son of a dog ("pidar-sag"), a gabr,
and the like. I saw poor Feridun flush up with an anger which
it cost him an effort to control, and would fain have given the
drunken old Haji a piece of my mind, had I been certain that
he did not intend his rudeness for playful banter, and had I not
further feared that in any case my remonstrances would only
increase his spite against Feridun, which I could only hope to
Towards evening I rode out with Gushtasp and Feridun to
the lonely dakhme situated on a jagged mountain-spur at some
little distance from the town. Gushtasp rode his donkey; but
Feridun, who was a bold and skilful rider, had borrowed a horse,
for the Zoroastrians at Kirman are not subjected to restrictions
quite so irksome as those which prevail at Yezd. We stopped
twice on the way to drink wine, at a place called Sar-i-pul
("Bridge-end"), and at a sort of half-way house, where funerals
halt on their way to the dakhme, or rather dakhmes, for there are
two of them, one disused, and one built by Manakji, the late
Zoroastrian agent at Teheran, a little higher up the ridge. At
the foot of this, we dismounted, Mulla Gushtasp remaining below
to look after the animals, while I ascended with Feridun by a
steep path leading to the upper dakhme. Here Feridun, whose
brother had recently been conveyed to his last resting-place,
proceeded to mutter some prayers, untying and rebinding his
girdle or kushti as he did so; after which he produced a bottle
of wine and poured three libations to the dead, exclaiming as
he did so, "Khuda bi-yamurzad hama-i-raftagan-ra" ("May God
forgive all those who are gone!"), and then helped himself and
passed the wine to me. Observing an inscribed tablet on the
side of the dakhme (which was still some twenty yards above us)
I called my companion's attention to it, and made as though I
would have advanced towards it; but he checked me. "None,"
said he, "may pass beyond this spot where we stand, save only
those whose duty it is to convey the dead to their last resting-
place, and a curse falls on him who persists in so doing." As
On returning to the garden I found the inevitable Seyyid
Huseyn, who had arrived soon after I had gone out, and, in
my absence, had been inflicting his theological dissertations on
Na'ib Hasan. It had been arranged that I should visit a certain
Mirza Muhammad Ja'far Khan (a nephew of the great leader of the
Sheykhis and antagonist of the Babis, Haji Muhammad Karim Khan),
who had called upon me a few days previously: and the Seyyid,
hearing this, insisted on accompanying me. On reaching his
house, which stood alone at some distance from the town, we
were received by him and a stout pallid youth named Yusuf
Khan (who, I believe, was his cousin or nephew) in the tanbal-
khane or lounging-room, the walls of which were profusely
decorated with a strange medley of cheap European prints and
photographs representing scripture incidents, scenes from Uncle
Tom's Cabin, scantily clothed women, and other incongruous
subjects, arranged in the worst possible taste. The low
opinion of my host's character with which this exhibition
inspired me was not bettered by his conversation, which was, so
far as I remember, singularly pointless. He evidently felt ill at
ease in the presence of the Seyyid, who enquired very searchingly
as to the reception which the eldest of Haji Muhammad Karim Khan's
sons, the chief of the Sheykhis, had met with at
Thursday, 20th June, 10th Shawwal. --This morning I paid a visit to one of the most eminent members of the clergy of Kirman, the mujtahid Mulla Muhammad Salih-i-Kirmani. He was a fine- looking man, with a long black beard and deeply furrowed brow, and received me with a somewhat haughty courtesy. He conversed on religious topics only, pointing out the beauties of the law of Islam, and taking great exception to the carelessness of Europeans in certain matters of purification. On leaving his house I was taken to see an iron foundry, where I was shown two excellent-looking Enfield rifles manufactured by a Kirmani gunsmith, in imitation of one of European workmanship lent to him by the Prince-Governor.
In the afternoon I received a visit from the two Frenchmen
of whose arrival in Kirman I have already spoken. Haji Muhammad
Khan, Mulla Yusuf, and Seyyid Huseyn happened to come while
they were with me; but the last, on a hint from Na'ib Hasan
that wine was likely to be produced, fled precipitately, to
the satisfaction of everyone. The Frenchmen appeared, from
their account, to have had a very rough journey from Mashhad
to Kirman, and not to enjoy much comfort even here; they were
delighted with the wine, cognac, and tea which I placed before
them (for they had not been able to obtain any sort of alcohol
here, not knowing whither to go for it), and conversed freely
on everything save the objects of their journey, of which they
seemed unwilling to speak, though Haji Muhammad Khan, who
really did speak French with some approach to fluency,
endeavoured again and again to extract some information from
them. He was so disgusted at his ill success that he afterwards
In the evening I supped with the Prince-Governor, the party being completed by the Sheykh of Kum and the Prince-Telegraphist. The meal was served in European fashion in a room in the Bagh- i-Nasiriyya palace, which was brilliantly illuminated. A great number of European dishes was set before us, no doubt in my honour, though, as a matter of fact, I should have greatly preferred Persian cookery. Wine, too, was provided, and not merely for show either. The Prince, acting, I suppose, on the aphorism, "Address men according to the measure of their understandings," conversed chiefly on European politics, in which I felt myself thoroughly out of my depth. He was, however, extremely kind; and when I left, insisted on lending me a horse and a man to conduct me home.
Friday, 21st June, 11th Shawwal. --In the afternoon I returned
Mirza Jawad's call, and found with him his son and his son's
tutor, Mulla Ghulam Huseyn, a Sheykhi, from whom I extracted
the following account of the essential doctrines of his School:--
"The Balasaris, or ordinary Shi'ites," said he, "assert that
the essentials of religion are five, to wit, belief in the Unity of
God (tawhid), the Justice of God ('adl), the Prophetic Function
(nubuvvat), the Imamate (imamat), and the Resurrection (ma'ad).
Now we say that two of these cannot be reckoned as primary
doctrines at all; for belief in the Prophet involves belief in his
book and the teachings which it embodies, amongst which is
the Resurrection; and there is no more reason for regarding a
belief in God's justice as a principal canon of faith than
belief in God's Mercy, or God's Omnipotence, or any other of His
Attributes. Of their five principles or essentials (usul), therefore,
we accept only three; but to these we add another, namely, that
there must always exist amongst the Musulmans a 'Perfect
Shi'ite' (Shi'a-i-kamil) who enjoys the special guidance of the
In the evening I was the guest of Usta Akbar, the parcher of peas, at supper, and stayed the night at his house. Amongst the guests were Aka Fathu'llah, a young Ezeli minstrel and poet, who sung verses in praise of the Bab, composed by himself; Sheykh Ibrahim of Sultan-abad; one of his intimates and admirers, a servant of the Farrash-bashi, named 'Abdu'llah; a post-office official, whom I will call Haydaru'llah; and the pea-parcher's brother. As the evening wore on, these began to talk very wildly, in a fashion with which I was soon to become but too familiar, declaring themselves to be one with the Divine Essence, and calling upon me by such titles as "Jenab-i-Sahib" and "Hazrat-i-Firangi" to acknowledge that there was "no one but the Lord Jesus" present. Wearied and somewhat disgusted as I was, it was late before they would suffer me to retire to rest on the roof.
Saturday, 22nd June, 12th Shawwal. --The party at Usta Akbar's
did not break up till about an hour and a half before sunset,
when I returned to the garden accompanied by Sheykh Ibrahim,
who from this time forth until I left Kirman became my constant
companion, though more than once, disgusted at his blasphemous
conversation and drunkenness, I endeavoured to discourage his
visits. But he was not one to be easily shaken off; and on these
occasions, when my indignation had been specially kindled
against him, he would make so fair a show of regret for his
conduct that I was constrained to forget his unseemly behaviour.
Moreover, he was a man well worth talking to, so long as he
was sober or not more than half drunk, having travelled widely
through Persia, Turkey, and Egypt; seen many strange things
and stranger people; and mixed with almost every class and sect,
as it is the privilege of his order to do. He was, indeed, one of
the most extraordinary men whom I ever met, and presented
"Oh yes," he replied, "nothing can be easier. From Hamadan
you will go to Sanandij, a march of four days; thence in four
days to Suleymaniyye; thence in four days more to Mosul, where
you must certainly pay a visit to Zeynu'l-Mukarrabin."
"And who," enquired I, "is Zeynu'l-Mukarrabin?"
"He is one of the most notable of 'the Friends"' (Ahbab, i.e.
the Babis), replied he, "and to him is entrusted the revision and
correction of all copies of the sacred books sent out for circulation,
of which, indeed, the most trustworthy are those transcribed by
his hand. His real name is Mulla Zeynu'l-'Abidin of Najaf-abad.
You may also see at Mosul Mirza 'Abdu'l-Wahhab of Shiraz,
the seal-engraver, who will cut for you a seal bearing an
inscription in the New Writing (Khatt-i-badi'), and Mirza
'Abdu'llah 'Alaka-band, both of whom are worth visiting."
"Are these the only Babis at Mosul?" I enquired.
"Oh, no," he answered, "you will find plenty of them there
and elsewhere on your route. You can tell them by their dress;
they wear the Turkish fez with a small white turban, and a jubbe;
they do not shave their heads, but on the other hand they never
allow the zulf to grow below the level of the lobe of the
"You have visited Acre, have you not?" I enquired; "tell me what sort of place it is, and what you saw there."
"Yes," he replied, "I was there for seventy days, during which
period I was honoured (musharraf) by admission to the Holy Presence
twelve times. The first time I was accompanied by two of Beha's
sons, by his amanuensis and constant attendant Aka Mirza Aka Jan
of Kashan, whom they call 'Jenab-i-Khadimu'llah' ('His Excellence
the Servant of God'), and by my fellow-traveller. All these,
so soon as we entered the presence-chamber, prostrated themselves
on the ground; but while I, ignorant of the etiquette generally
observed, was hesitating what to do, Beha called out to me 'It
is not necessary' ('Lazim nist'). Then said he twice in a loud
voice, 'Baraka'llahu 'aleykum' ('God bless you!'), and then,
'Most blessed are ye, in that ye have been honoured by beholding
Me, which thing saints and prophets have desired most earnestly.'
Then he bade us be seated, and gave orders for tea to be set
before us. My companion hesitated to drink it, lest-he should
appear wanting in reverence, seeing which Beha said, 'The
meaning of offering a person tea is that he should drink it.'
Then we drank our tea, and Khadimu'llah read aloud one of the
Epistles (Alwah); after which we were dismissed. During my
stay at Acre I was taken ill, but Beha sent me a portion of the
pilaw which had been set before him, and this I had no sooner
eaten than I was restored to health. You should have seen how
the other believers envied
Later on Mirza Yusuf of Tabriz joined us, and, thinking to please Sheykh Ibrahim, pretended that he too was a Babi. But when Sheykh Ibrahim feigned ignorance of the whole matter, expressing surprise, and, in some cases, mild disapproval, at what Mirza Yusuf told him of the doctrines and practices of the sect, the latter, thinking that he had made a mistake, changed his ground, and told us that he had only pretended to be a convert to the new religion so as to get money from the rich and charitable Babis at Yezd. I could hardly contain my laughter as I watched Mirza Yusuf thus entangling himself in the snare set for him by the Sheykh, who, meanwhile, never so much as smiled at the success of his stratagem. I expected, of course, that the whole story would become known to all the Babis in Kirman, but I think the Sheykh kept his own counsel, being less concerned with the exposure of hypocrisy, than with his own amusement.
After Mirza Yusuf's withdrawal, the Sheykh, having communicated to me a great deal of very scandalous gossip about the postmaster (whom he was by way of considering as one of his best friends), began to discuss with high approval the character of the free-thinking poet Nasir-i-Khusraw, whose poems and apocryphal autobiography he had been recently reading. The episode in the autobiography which had especially delighted him, and which he repeated to me with infinite relish, runs as follows*: _
"After much trouble we reached the city of Nishapur, there being with
us a pupil of mine, an expert and learned metaphysician. Now in the
whole city of Nishapur there was no one who knew us, so we came and
took up our abode in a mosque. As we walked through the city, at the
door of every
Ere evening was past, the Sheykh, like Nasir-i-Khusraw, was "dead drunk, not like a common sot," and finally, to my great relief, went to sleep, wrapped in his cloak, in a formless heap on the floor, where we left him till morning. He awoke very late, and was sipping his morning tea with a woe-begone air which contrasted strangely with his vivacity of the previous day, when visitors were announced, and my disagreeable acquaintance, Haji Muhammad Khan, accompanied by a pleasant, well-informed mulla named Haji Sheykh Ja'far of Kerbela, entered the room. He was more than usually impertinent and inquisitive; enquired when Sheykh Ibrahim had come to the garden, and, on learning from me that he had been there since the previous night, lifted his eyebrows in surprise, remarking that the Sheykh had said he came that morning early; and then proceeded to enquire pointedly how the postmaster was, and whether I had any fresh news from Adrianople or Acre, meaning, of course, to imply his belief that I was a Babi. Finally, however, Na'ib Hasan came to the rescue, reminding me in a loud voice that I had accepted an invitation to visit Hurmuzyar, one of my Zoroastrian friends, at his garden. He omitted to mention that the engagement was for the evening, but the intimation had the desired effect of causing Haji Muhammad Khan to retire, taking the divine with him.
I now wished to go out, but to this Sheykh Ibrahim objected,
declaring that it was too hot; so we had lunch, and then
"So you met Sheykh S---, the Babi courier, at Shiraz, did
you?" he began; "a fine old fellow he is, too, and has had some
strange experiences. Did he tell you how he ate the letters?"
"No," I replied; "tell me about it."
"Ah," he continued, "he is not given to talking much. Well
you must know that he goes to Acre once every year to convey
letters from 'the Friends' in Persia and elsewhere, and to bring
back replies. He takes Isfahan, Shiraz, Yezd, and the south,
while Dervish Khavar takes Mazandaran, Gilan, and the northern
part of 'Irak, riding about on a donkey, selling drugs, and passing
himself off as an oculist. The Sheykh, however, goes everywhere
on foot, save when he has to cross the sea; and this, I fancy, he
only does when he cannot well avoid it, at least since a ship in
which he was a passenger was wrecked between Bushire and
Basra, and everyone on board drowned save himself and another
dervish, who managed to keep themselves above water by means
of floating wreckage, until, after fourteen or fifteen hours'
exposure, they were drifted ashore. As a rule, he so times his
return from the interior as to reach Bushire early in the month
of Dhi'l-Hijje, whereby he is enabled to join the pilgrims bound
for Jedda and Mecca. After the conclusion of the pilgrimage
he makes his way to Acre, where he generally stays about two
months, while the letters which he has brought are being
answered. Though he is not, perhaps, honoured by admission
to Beha's presence more than once or twice during this period,
he is in many ways a privileged person, being allowed to go into
the andarun (women's apartments) when he pleases, and to sit
with outstretched feet and uncovered head even in the presence
of the Masters (Akayan, i.e. Beha's sons). When the letters are
all answered, he packs them into his wallet, takes his staff, and
sets off by way of Beyrout for Mosul, where he stays for about a
month with Zeynu'l-Mukarrabin, of whom I told you a few days
We were interrupted by the unwelcome arrival of Seyyid Huseyn of Jandak, and, quickly as I pushed the Babi history under a cushion, he noticed the movement, and forthwith proceeded to make himself disagreeable (an accomplishment in which he excelled) to Sheykh Ibrahim, persistently and pointedly asking him about wine, where the best qualities were manufactured, how and when it was usually drunk, and the like, on all of which points the Sheykh professed himself perfectly ignorant. The Seyyid, however, continued to discourse in this uncomfortable strain, concluding severely with the aphorism "Man dana bi-dinin, lazimahu ahkamuhu" ("Whosoever professeth a faith, its laws are binding on him").
Presently the Farrash-bashi's servant, 'Abdu'llah, who was
one of the Sheykh's intimates, joined us, and we had tea; but
the Seyyid continued to act in the same aggressive and offensive
manner, enquiring very particularly whether the cup placed
before him had been properly purified since last it touched my
infidel lips. Mirza Yusuf of Tabriz, who had brought it, answered
pertly enough, and put the old man in a still worse temper, so
that I was very glad when Na'ib Hasan reminded me in a loud
voice that it was time to set out for the garden of Hurmuzyar
whose guest I was to be that evening, and the Seyyid departed
grumbling as he went, "You have already forgotten the advice
Sheykh Ibrahim, though uninvited, insisted on accompanying
me and Na'ib Hasan to Hurmuzyar's entertainment. We found
about twenty guests there assembled, all, with the exception of
ourselves and Fathu'llah, the minstrel, Zoroastrians; Rustams
and Rashids; Shahriyars, Dinyars, and Ormuzdyars; Key-Khusraws
and Khuda-murads; Bahmans, Bahrams, Isfandiyars and Mihrabans.
The entertainment was on a magnificent scale, the minstrel
sang well, and the pleasure of the evening was only marred
by the conduct of Sheykh Ibrahim, who got disgustingly drunk,
and behaved in the most indecorous manner. "But that he came
under your aegis," said Hurmuzyar to me afterwards, when I
apologised for his behaviour, and explained how he had
forced his company upon me, "we would have tied his feet to
the poles and given him the sticks; for if sticks be not for such
drunken brutes as him, I know not for what they were created."
I was constrained to admit that he was right; but for all that
I was unable to shake off my disreputable companion, who
accompanied us back to the garden when we said good-night to
our host, and slept heavily on the ground wrapped in his cloak.
The next day, Monday, 14th Shawwal, 24th June, will ever be
to me most memorable, for thereon did I come under the glamour
of the Poppy-wizard, and forge the first link of a chain which
it afterwards cost me so great an effort to break. Thereon, also,
was first disclosed to me that vision of antinomian pantheism
which is the World of the Kalandar, and the source of all that
is wildest and strangest in the poetry of the Persians. With
this eventful day, then, let me open a new chapter.