It was on Sunday morning that I parted with my horse, and my departure was arranged for the following Tuesday. On that day, while paying a farewell visit to the young Babi merchant who had so kindly advanced me the money which I needed for my journey back to Teheran, I met the postmaster's son. He appeared to be sulky with me for some reason-- probably because of my friendliness with the Ezelis and apologies for their attitude--and coldly observed that the sooner I left Kirman the better, and that if I could leave that very night it would be best of all. I answered that this was impossible, but that I would perhaps start on the morrow. "Then you must go early in the morning," said he, "so as to avoid collision with the post."
When I told this to Sheykh Ibrahim, on whom I next called, he was greatly incensed.
"Nonsense," said he, "the rascally burnt-father only wants
to get your money as soon as may be, so that he may get drunk,
eat sweetmeats, and play the libertine. You must stop here
to-night and sup with me and some others of your friends. I will
Somewhat comforted by the Sheykh's confidence in his own powers, I went off with Usta Akbar to pay a visit to some of my Babi friends who were employed in the post-office in a subordinate capacity, after which we returned to Sheykh Ibrahim's abode. He had been as good as his word: the postmaster and his son were there, both, to use the Sheykh's expression, "the very essence of submission" (mahz-i-taslim), ready to let me have horses for my journey whenever it might please me. The evening passed off harmoniously after this, the Sheykh cooking the supper himself, only stopping occasionally to address a remark to one of us.
"O thou who art buried in this land of K and R,"* he cried
out to me in one of these pauses, "why should you leave this
place, since you like it so well?"
"Because," I replied, "I must be back at the University of
Cambridge early in the autumn. My leave of absence is nearly
at an end, and they have summoned me to return."
"I spit on the University of Gimbrij" (so he pronounced it),
answered the Sheykh; and to such revilings he continued at
intervals to give vent throughout the evening.
When one begins to procrastinate there is no end to it. I
wished to start on Thursday, 16th August, but at the last moment,
when I was actually ready for the journey, word came from the
post-office that the post (which was due out on that day) was so
heavy that there were no horses to spare; and from one cause
and another my actual departure was deferred till the evening
of Sunday, 19th August. All day I was busy with farewells,
to which there seemed to be no end, for several of my friends
were loth to bid me a final good-bye, and I too shrank from the
My last visit was to the Prince-Telegraphist. On my way
thither I was stopped in the street by the Babi cobbler who
had been so roughly rebuked by Sheykh Ibrahim for his chanting
of the sacred books. He was in a great state of agitation, and
cried out to me with tears in his eyes--
"Sahib, you will go to Acre, if not now, then at some future
time, and you will see the Supreme Beauty*. Do not forget me
then; mention me there, and let my name be remembered in the
The post-horses, ready laden for the journey, called for me
at the telegraph-office. It was after sunset, but the Prince had
caused the northern gate of the city to be kept open for me after
the usual hour of closing, so that I was able to linger a little
while longer in the city which had cast so strange a glamour over
me. At last, however, I rose regretfully and bade him farewell;
and, as the great gate closed behind me with a dull clang,
and I found myself in the open plain under the star-spangled sky,
I thought that I had seen the last of all my Kirman friends. But
when we halted at the post-house (which, as before said, stands
some distance outside the city to the north), there were Sheykh
Ibrahim and Usta Akbar the pea-parcher come out to see the last
of me, and I had to dismount and smoke a last pipe with them;
while the Sheykh, who was subdued and sorrowful, told me how
his friend 'Abdu'llah had fled, none knew whither, with such
raiment only as he wore, leaving word that he was bound for
Acre, and would not return till his eyes had gazed on the
It was three hours past sunset when I at length mounted and turned my face northwards. At midnight I was at Baghin, the first stage out from Kirman, and there I rested for a while in a garden belonging to Na'ib Hasan, whom we had overtaken on the way, and who set before me melons and other delicious fruits. Soon after daybreak I was at Kabutar Khan, where I slept till noon was passed, and then, after lunch and tea, set out or Rafsinjan, where I was to stay for the night with the telegraphist, a Babi whose acquaintance I had made at Kirman. On the way thither I passed two of my dervish friends, who, with banners, alms-gourds, and all the paraphernalia of professional mendicants, were returning from Rafsinjan; and, somewhat later, Na'ib Hasan's brother, who presented me with a melon. A little after this I met one of the officials of the Kirman post office (also a Babi, with whom I was well acquainted) returning from the limit of the Kirman district, to which it was his duty to escort the post. After a brief conversation we exchanged horses, I taking the ugly black beast which had brought him from Rafsinjan. In spite of its ill looks, it got over the ground at an amazing pace, and, guided by another Babi in the postal service (all the post-office officials about Kirman seemed to be Babis) I arrlved at my friend's house in Kamal-abad, hard by Bahram- abad, in good time for supper, at which I met my old friend the postmaster of the latter place.
I had arranged before leaving Kirman to spend two days
with another of my Babi friends, Aka Muhammad Hasan of Yezd
(my guest on the occasion of that wild banquet described at
p. 534 supra), who lived at a little village distant only about
five miles from Bahram-abad, somewhat off the main road. I
As there was no question, therefore, of getting beyond this
village for the present, and no object in arriving there before
evening, I stayed with my friends at Bahram-abad till half an
hour before sundown, when I again mounted the ugly black horse
which had carried me so well on the previous day, and set off
at a tearing gallop. As I drew near the village I descried a
little group assembled on a small conical hill just outside it.
Their figures stood out clear against the setting sun, and I
could see that they were watching for my arrival. Even as I
espied them, one of them, my host's son, a handsome lad of
eighteen or nineteen, disengaged himself from their midst, and,
mounting a large white ass which stood ready, advanced at a
rapid amble to meet me. I should have stopped to greet him,
but the black horse would hardly consent to be checked in his
headlong career, and in about a minute more I was in the middle
of the group. Having dismounted, I had to exchange embraces
I remained here for two days--days which passed pleasantly
but uneventfully. There was the usual tea-drinking, smoking
of opium and tobacco, and long debates--in shaded rooms by
day and in the moonlit garden by night--on religious and
philosophical questions. There were several guests besides
myself, some of whom had come from Kirman to meet me. Amongst
these was one, a dyer by trade, whose good sense and moderation
especially impressed me. To him I expressed my dissatisfaction
at the exaggerated language employed by Nabil, the poet, and
other Babis in speaking of Beha. He agreed with me, but said
that allowance must be made for them if their affection for their
Master prompted them at times to use language which calmer
reason could not approve.
My host had a large collection of Babi manuscripts, together
with some photographs, which he showed us with much pride and
yet more caution, never suffering more than one book at a time
to leave the box in which he kept his treasures. For liberal as
the Babis are in all else, they hoard their books as a miser does
his gold; and if a Babi were to commit a theft, it would be some
rare and much-prized manuscript which would vanquish his
honesty. And so it was that, when the moment of my departure
arrived, I came near to losing the manuscript of the Persian
Beyan which had served as the bait to lead me to this remote
hamlet of Rafsinian. My host begged me to leave it with him for
a month, for a week, even for five days; in five days, he said, he
could get it copied, and it should then be sent after me to Yezd,
or Teheran, o any other place I might designate. I was obdurate,
however, for I yearned to possess the book, and felt that I was
entitled to have it; neither dared I leave it behind me, fearing
"I have eaten your bread and salt, and am your guest. If you will have the book, take it; but I would almost as lief give you my head."
"Then," said he, after a moment's pause, "take it; if such be your feeling, we cannot ask you to give it up."
So I put the precious volume in my pocket with a sense of profound thankfulness, and, accompanied by my friends, walked out a little distance from the village before mounting. Once more we embraced; and then, tightening the wide leather belt in which I carried my money, and buttoning the hardly-won Beyan into my breast-pocket, I hoisted myself into the saddle, and, amidst a shower of good wishes for the journey, again set my face towards Yezd.
It was about an hour before sunset on Thursday, 23rd August, when I resumed my northward journey. Three hours after sunset I was at Kushkuh, where I stopped only to change horses. At about 3 a.m. on the Friday I was at Beyaz, and soon after sunrise at Anar. Here I rested and had luncheon, not starting again till the afternoon. About sundown I was at Shemsh, where such bad horses were provided that I did not reach Kirmanshahan till 9 or 10 p.m. There I had supper, tea, and--I regret to add-- a pipe of opium, which greatly cornforted me; and then I slept till daybreak.
Next day (Saturday, 25th August) I reached Zeynu'd-Din
two hours after sunrise, and ate a melon while the fresh horses
were being saddled. Soon after leaving this place the shagird-
chapar (post-boy) who accompanied us raised an alarm of thieves,
and indeed we saw three horsemen wheeling round us in the
distance. I fancy, however, that they were waiting there in the
hopes of rescuing some of their comrades who had recently been
captured at Kirman and were being sent in chains to
About noon we arrived at Sar-i-Yezd, where I halted for lunch for an hour or two. As I was preparing to start, a Kirmami woman who was standing by called out to me, "We pray God to bring you back to Kirman." I suppose she was a Babi, and regarded me as a co-religionist; though how she knew anything about me I was at a loss to imagine.
Rather more than an hour before sunset I reached Muhammad-abad,
a sort of suburb of Yezd. Here I visited the brother of the
young Babi merchant who had befriended me at Kirman, meaning
only to stay for a short time; but nothing would serve him
save that I should be his guest that night, and go on to Yezd
on the following morning. I was not loth to accept his
hospitality; and a right pleasant evening we passed on a roof
overlooking beautiful gardens redolent with the perfume of flowers
and resonant with the song of the nightingale. Here it was, I
think, that I smoked my last opium-pipe in Persia, amidst
surroundings the most perfect that could be imagined.
Next evening (Sunday, 26th August) I supped with the Babi Seyyids at Yezd, where I remained till the following Friday, lodging at the post-house, which is situated at the northern extremity of the town. I saw most of my old friends, except the Prince-Governor, during these five days, and received from all of them a very cordial welcome, but the Babi Seyyids were not a little vexed to find that I had foregathered-with the Ezelis at Kirman. "I told you," remarked the poet 'Andalib, "that no good would come of your going there, and I was, it seems, perfectly right."
I left Yezd at sunrise on Friday, 31st August, and entered the
great sand-desert which bounds it on the north. It and the long
post-ride to Kashan were equally monotonous, and need little
more description than a list of the stages, times, and distances,
which were as follows:--
Yezd to Meybut or Meybud, where I arrived about 2 p.m., after a two hours' halt at 'Izz-abad to visit an acquaintance, ten parasangs. Thence to Chifte, which we reached about 5 p.m., six parasangs. Thence to Aghda, where we arrived about half an hour after dusk, four parasangs. Here we were delayed by the post, which always has the first right to horses, till late in the night, when, after supper and a short sleep, we started by bright moonlight, and reached the desolate post-house of Naw- Gunbudh (whence a road leads to Isfahan) half an hour before sunrise on 1st September (nine parasangs).
1st September.--Slept till noon at Naw-Gunbudh. Thence a
dreary stage of six parasangs brought us about 4 p.m. to the
queer old rambling town of Na'in. Half an hour after sunset
we reached Neyistanak (six parasangs), where the son-in-law
of one of the postal officials of Yezd, with whom I had made
acquaintance, hospitably entertained me to supper.
2nd September.--Left Neyistanak a little before daybreak,
accompanied by an intelligent and handsome little shagird-chapar,
and arrived (eight parasangs) during the forenoon at Jaukand,
a pretty place, abounding in trees and streams, where I would
fain have lingered a while to converse with the singularly amiable
and courteous-postmaster. While I was waiting for fresh horses
to be saddled, two or three villagers came in, well-favoured,
genial fellows, who told me that an old dialect nearly akin to
that of Kohrud was spoken in this and the neighbouring villages.
After a short halt the fresh horses were led out, and I bade
farewell to the kindly postmaster, who exhorted me to deal gently
with them, as they had just been watered. The shagird-chapar,
a bright handsome lad named Haydar, saw to this; for he was
proud of his horses (and rightly, for they actually had to be held
in), and prattled incessantly about them, till, after a ride of
five parasangs, we reached the little town of Ardistan.
Here I had an introduction to a Babi, who took me to his house,
gave me fruit, tea, and pipes, and showed me a manuscript
After a stage of six parasangs we reached Mughar, where I
had supper and slept for a while by the side of a stream which
ran past the post-house, starting again soon after midnight. Five
parasangs more brought us to Khalid-abad about sunrise; six
more parasangs to Abu Zeyd-abad about noon on 3rd September.
The horses which brought us thither had been very bad, but
those now supplied to us were even worse; so, as it was
impossible to urge them out of a walk, I resigned myself to the
inevitable, bought some melons, and thus eating the fruit and
crawling along in true caravan fashion, entered Kashan soon
after sunset, and was again hospitably received at the telegraph-
office by Mr Aganor. Here I remained that night and all next day
to make some purchases and see one or two of my old friends.
I left Kashan about sunset on 4th September, and reached Sinsin at 10 p.m., and Pasangan about sunrise the next morning. I was very tired and would fain have rested a while, but the post from the south was behind us, and there was nothing for it but to push on, unless I wished to run the risk of being stranded for a day at this desolate spot. At 10 a.m. on 5th September I was at Kum, where I was most hospitably received at the telegraph-office, and enjoyed a welcome rest of twenty-four hours, for I was by this time half-dead with weariness, not being used to such severe riding.
6th September.--Left Kum at 9 a.m.; reached Rahmat-abad
7th September.--Started at 6 a.m., and, after a hot and dusty
ride of six parasangs, reached Ribat Karim, a populous and
rather pretty village, during the forenoon. Here I stopped for
lunch, after which I set off, about three and a half hours before
sunset, to accomplish the last stage (seven parasangs) of this
wearisome journey. We had good horses, and shortly before
sunset found ourselves at a little roadside tea-house, distant one
parasang from Teheran. Here we halted to drink tea, when Haji
Safar suddenly observed that if we didn't make haste the southern
gates of the city would be shut, and we should have to make a
long detour to obtain admission. We at once set off and galloped
in as hard as we could go, but all to no purpose, for the nearest
gate was already shut, nor could the gatekeeper be induced by
threats or promises to re-open it. He only did his duty, poor
man; but I was so angry and disappointed that I gave him the
benefit of the whole vocabulary of powerful abuse and invective
which I had learned from Sheykh Ibrahim, and it was perhaps
as well that the solid gate stood between us. I was ashamed of
my outburst of temper afterwards, but those who have ever
made a journey of 600 miles on Persian post-horses will be ready
to make some allowances for me. Luckily we found the Shah
'Abdu'l-'Azim gate still open, and, threading our way through
the bazaars, we alighted about 8.30 p.m. at Prevost's hotel,
where Haji Safar left me to go and visit his relatives.
The return to what must, I suppose, be called civilisation
was anything but grateful to me; I loathed the European dishes
set before me, the fixed hours for meals, the constraint and
absence of freedom, and above all the commonplace and
conventional character of my surroundings. Seven months had
elapsed since I quitted Teheran for the south, and during this
time I had been growing steadily more and more Persian in
In spite of my desire to get away from Teheran, it took me thirteen days to transact all my business. First of all I had to find out about the steamers from Mashhad-i-Sar, the port whence I intended to sail for Russia (for I would not take the well-known Resht and Enzeli route); then there were books to be bought, packed up, and sent off by way of Bushire to Cambridge; Babis, to whom I had letters of introduction, to be visited; money arrangements to be made; and last though not least, ta'ziyas to be seen, for it was the beginning of the month of Muharram, and the national mournings for Hasan, Huseyn, and the other saints of the Shi'ite Church were in full swing.
To the chief Babis of Teheran I was introduced by a merchant of Shirvan (a Russian subject), to whom I carried a letter of recommendation. They entertained me at lunch in a house near the Dulab Gate, and I was much impressed by their piety and gravity of demeanour, so unlike the anarchic freedom of the Kirman Babis. As a psychological study, however, they were less interesting, neither did I see enough of them to become intimate with them.
As I intended to spend all my available money on books,
I was at some pains to ascertain what was to be had, and where
it could be had cheapest. I therefore visited several booksellers
and asked them to furnish me with a list of books and prices
telling them that, as I hated haggling, I should make no remarks
on the pnces quoted, but simply buy what I needed from him who
would sell cheapest. This plan had the best effect, since they
On Wednesday, 6th Muharram (12th September), I dined
with my kind friend Mr. Fahie at the telegraph-offce. The
Shah's Prime Minister, the Aminu's-Sultan, was giving a
rawza-khwan, or religious recitation, on a splendid scale in
the adjoining house, and after dinner we adJourned to the
roof to watch it. On this occasion a whole regiment of
soldiers, as well as a number of other guests, were being
entertained by the generous vazir. Supper was provided for
all of them, and I counted over a hundred trays of food as
they were brought in by the servants.
Next evening I accompanied several members of the English Embassy to the Royal tekye, a theatre specially constructed and set apart for the dramatised representations of Muharram (ta'ziyas), which are to the Shi'ite Muhammadan what the Miracle-plays of Ober-Ammergau are to Christians of the Romish Church. The theatre is a large circular building,--roofless, but covered during Muharram with an awning. There are boxes (takches) all round, which are assigned to the more patrician spectators, one, specially large and highly decorated, being reserved for the Shah. The humbler spectators sit round the central space or arena in serried ranks, the women and children in front. A circular stone platform in the centre constitutes the sta@e. There is no curtain and no exit for the actors, who, when not wanted, simply stand back. The acting is powerful, though somewhat crude, and it is impossible not to be influenced by the deep feeling evinced by both actors and audience. The őta'ziyas comprise at least some tllirty or forty episodes the representation of any one of which requires two or tllree hours. Some of them are drawn from the histories of the Jewish prophets, and these are the less intercsting because the spectators are less profoundly moved by them; the majority however, illustrate the rllisfortunes of the Shi'ite Imams Those connected with the fatal field of Kerbel.i, culminating in the death of the "Prince of Martyrs" (Seyyidu'sh-shuhada), the Imam Huseyn, are the most moving; but I fancy that the Persians are, as a rule, not very willing to admit Europeans or Sunnite Muhammadans, so greatly are the religious feelings of the spectators stirred by the representation of the supreme catastrophe of the 'Ashura, or tenth of Muharram. On that day bands of men (especially soldiers of Azarbaijan) parade the streets in white garments, which are soon dyed with gore; for each man carries a knife or sword, and, as their excite- ment increases with cries of "Ya Hasan! Ya Huseyn!" and beatings of breasts, they infiict deep gashes on their heads till the blood pours forth and streams over their faces and apparel. It is an impressive sight, though somewhat suggestive of Baal-worship.
The ta'ziya which I was privileged to see represented the
bereaved women of the Holy Family before the impious Shimr,
I had been much exercised in mind as to the safe conveyance of my precious Babi manuscripts to England. Thc box of books which I was sending home by Bushire would, I knew, be months on the road, and I wished to begin to work at my manuscripts immediately on my return. On the other hand, I had heard such dreadful accounts of the Russian Custom-house that I was afraid to take them with me. Finally I decided to sew them up carefully in thick linen, direct the parcel to my home address, and send it, if I could obtain permission, in the Embassy bag, which is conveyed monthly to Constantinople by a special bearer, and there handed over to the Qeen's messenger for transport to London. It cost me an effort to part with my beloved and hardly-won manuscripts, even for so short a time, but I felt that this was the safest plan; and, accordingly, having packed and directed them with the greatest care, I rode out to Kulahak, the summer quarters of the English Embassy, situated about six miles to the north of Teheran, and, to my great relief, saw the precious packet sealed up in the bag.
I had been delayed in starting from Teheran, and so reached
* An English translation of some twenty or thirty of the more important
ta'ziyas has been published in two handsome volumes by Sir Lewis Pelly,
formerly Resident on the Persian Gulf. One of them ("Les Noces de
Kassem") is given in French by Gobineau in his Religions et Philosophies
dans l'Asie Centrale (pp. 405-437), which also contains a general account
of the Muharram Passion-plays (pp. 381-403 and 439-459).
Next day I woke at I know not wnat time, feeling faint, ill, and helplessly weak, as though every bone in my body were broken. No one came near me, and it was not till evening that I could make the effort to rise and obtain some food. After drinking a plate of soup and some tea, I again fell asleep, and woke next morning somewhat better, though still too weak to rise till evening. As two of my Persian friends had promised to take me into the town to see something more of the Muharram mournings and spectacles, I then made a fresh effort, got up, had dinner, and, as soon as they arrived, put on a Persian coat (sardari) and lambskin hat (kulah), and sallied forth in this disguise, well content to feel myself for the time a Persian amongst Persians. We spent a pleasant and interesting evening, visiting unmolested the Masjid-i-Shah (Royal Mosque) and the houses of two notable divines, the Imam-Jum'a and Mulla 'Ali of Kand.
On Tuesday, 18th September, I concluded my purchase of books, on which I spent something over 10 pounds. For the benefit of Persian students, I append a list of the twenty-six volumes which I bought for this sum, together with their prices. The first fifteen I obtained from my good old friend Sheykh Muhammad Huseyn of Kashan, the last eleven from another bookseller.
1. The Burhan-i-Jami', a very excellent and compact dictionary
of Persian words, composed in the reigns of Fath-'Ali Shah
2. The Divan of Anvari (Tabriz edition of A.H. 1266). Price 12 krans.
3. The Kisasu'l-Ulama ("Stories of Celebrated Divines"), by Muhammad ibn Suleyman et-Tanakabuni, together with two other treatises, one called Sabilu'n-najat ("The Way of Salvation"), and the other, by Seyyid Murtaza 'Alamu'l-Huda, called Irshadu'l-'Awamm ("The Layman's Guide"). Second edition, lithographed in Teheran in A.H. 1304. Price 10 krans.
4. The Sharh-i-Manzuma, or text and commentary of the philosophical poem (Arabic) of the great modern philosopher of Persia, Haji Mulla Hadi of Sabzawar. Lithographed at Teheran in A.H. 1298. Price 20 krans.
5. The Divan of Sana'i, one of the most celebrated of the early mystical poets of Persia (died about A.D. 1150). Lithographed. Not dated. Price 8 krans.
6. The Hadikatu'sh-Shi'a ("Garden of the Shi'ites"), an extensive work on Shi'ite doctrine and history. Second volume only, dealing with the Imams. Lithographed at Teheran in A.H. 1265. Price 12 krans.
7. The mystical commentary on the Kur'an of Sheykh Muhyi'd- Din ibnu'l-'Arabi, a very notable Moorish mystic, who flourished during the latter part of the twelfth and earlier part of the thirteenth century of our era. Lithographed in India (? Bombay) in A.H. 1291 (A.D. 1874). Price 30 krans.
8. Philosophical treatises of Mulla Sadra, with marginal commentary by Haji Mulla Hadi. Lithographed. No date. Price 10 krans.
9. The Tadhkiratu'l-Khattatin ("Biographies of Calligraphists")
and the Travels in Persia, Turkey, Arabia, and Egypt, of Mirza
Sanglakh, a large and extremely handsome volume, beautifully
On returning to the hotel with a sturdy porter who bore my purchases, I found my old teacher Mirza Asadu'llah of Sabzawar, who had kindly come to bring me a short biography of his master Haji Mulla Hadi the philosopher, and also an autograph of the great thinker.
Next day (Wednesday, 19th September) Haji Safar secured the services of a tinsmith, with whose aid we packed up and hermetically sealed my books and other purchases in a large wooden chest lined with tin, which luckily proved just large enough to contain them all. When it was closed up, we got proters to carry it to Messrs Ziegler's office in the Karavansaray- i-Amir, where I left it in the care of their agent for transport to England by way of Bushire. The total value of its contents, as estimated by myself for the Custom-House, came to almost exactly 79 tumans (24 pounds).
On the afternoon of the following day, haviang concluded all
my business, and said farewell to such of my friends as still
remained in Teheran, I started on my last march in Persia, which
was to convey me through the interesting province of Mazandaran
to the Caspian. I had succeded in obtaining through Messrs
Ziegler's agent 228 roubles in Russian money (the equivalent
of 752 krans, eight shahis Persian). The rest of my money,
amounting to 747 krans, twelve shahis, I carried with me in
Persian silver and copper.
Our first stage was, as usual, to be a short one, of two or
three parasangs only, but the moon had risen ere we reached
our halting place, the solitary caravansaray of Surkh Hisar
("the Red Fortress"), where I obtained a very good clean room,
opening on to a little courtyard, through which ran a stream of
limpid water. Soon after quitting Teheran by the Shimran Gate
we had been joined by an ex-artilleryman, who had just been
flogged and dismissed the service for some misdemeanour. He
expressed a desire to accompany me to "Landan" (London)
declaring that Persia was no fit place for an honest man, and
Friday, 21st September.--Left Surkh Hisar about 7.30 a.m., and,
after a dull ride through a barren, stony plain, reached the
solitary and rather dilapidated caravansaray of Asalak an hour
before noon. Here I stopped for lunch, and was entertained by
a quaint old Seyyid who was suffering from a bad foot. He told
me with great glee how he had recently succeeded in defrauding
the revenue officers sent to collect his taxes. Being apprised
of their intended visit, he had, in spite of his lameness,
gone on foot to Teheran (a distance of six parasangs), carrying
with him all his cash (some twelve or thirteen tumans), mostly
in copper coins, which he there entrusted to the keeping of a
friend. When the revenue officers came, there was no money
to be found on the premises, and they were obliged to depart
empty-handed after a fruitless search. On my departure I gave
the old man a kran, with which he was highly pleased.
Soon after leaving Asalak we entered the mountains, and the scenery began to improve rapidly, gradually assuming an almost English character; for our way was between green hedgerows, beyond which lay real grass meadows watered by rippling mountain streams and dotted with grazing cattle. Towards sundown we reached the pretty straggling village of Agh, which consists of three distinct groups of houses separated by considerable intervals of road. We stopped at the last group, just before the steepness of the ascent begins. Here I obtained a delightful lodging in an upper chamber looking out on the most charming landscape imaginable.
Saturday, 22nd September.--Started about 7.15 a.m., and at
once began to ascend steeply towards the pass by which we were
to enter Mazandaran. The first part of our march was delicious,
for our road was bordered by moss-grown walls, overshadowed
by leafy trees, and crossed by innumerable streams, while around
us lay green grassy fields such as my eyes had not looked upon
We left the beautiful Alpine village of Rene next morning
(Sunday, 23rd September) about 7.30 a.m. The pretty winding
road by which we continued to descend was so steep that for
the first hour or so of our march I preferred to walk. At the
bottom of the valley we again came to the river. In some places
this had undermined and washed away the path, so that we were
obliged to enter the water; but, on the whole, the road was a
triumph of engineering skill, for soon the valley narrowed into
About 2 p.m. we passed a village. No lodging was to be found
there, so we proceeded on our way, halted for lunch in a corn-
field, and, about 4 p.m., reached a house by a bridge, where
the muleteer wished to halt for the night. Here also no decent
lodging was to be found, and consequently, in spite of the
mutterings of the muleteer, "Akhir Mazandaran-ast: che mi-
khwahid?" ("After all it is Mazandaran: what would you have?"),
we again pushed on, until, about sunset, we came to a little group
of hovels, half caves, half huts, called Kalovan, where we halted.
It was a sweet night, and its sweetness was enhanced by the
shimmer of the moonlight and the murmur of the river; but inside
the cave-hut, which I shared with the owners, it was close and
warm, and the gnats were plentiful and aggressive.
Monday, 24th September.--We started about 7.30 a.m., and travelled for some time in the company of a Mazandarani muleteer, who gave me information which I had been unable to obtain from my own south-country charvadar as to the position of the castle of Sheykh Tabarsi, that once redoubtable stronghold of the Babis, which, if possible, I desired to visit before embarking at Mashhad-i-Sar. I found that it lay beyond Barfurush, between that town and Sari, some distance off the main road near a village called Karaghil, and that if I were to visit it, it must be from Barfurush.
As we advanced, the valley began to widen out, and the rocky
cliffs, which had hitherto formed its sides, gave place to wooded
slopes. In front, too, low wooded hills appeared, while round
our path the wild pomegranate and other trees grew ever thicker
Later in the day the road got terribly bad, being sometimes
so deep in mud and slush that the beasts could hardly advance.
Our muleteer had intended to make for a village called Firuz-
Kulah, but we, being somewhat in advance, passed the point
where the road thither diverged from the road to Amul, and
were already some way advanced on the latter when the muleteer
overtook us. A violent altercation arose between him and Haji
Safar, for he would have had us turn back; but, learning from
an old peasant who happened to pass by that Amul was distant
but one parasang, we insisted on proceeding thither, and the
muleteer was finally compelled to a sullen submission.
Again the character of the country underwent a sudden
change; for, emerging from the dense forest, we entered on a
flat fenny plain, covered with long sedge-like grasses and tall
bulrushes, and dotted with marshy pools and grazing cattle.
About 6 p.m. we passed a little village with thatched cottages
(which seemed strangely out of place in Persia, that land of
clay houses and flat roofs), interspersed amongst which were
curious wooden erections, each composed of four stout poles
set vertically in the ground and supporting a sloping thatch.
Beneath this, at a distance of some feet, was a sort of platform
on which carpets and pillows were spread. I supposed that the
About half an hour after passing this village we reached
Amul, one of the chief cities of Mazandaran, a picturesque
straggling town divided into two parts by a large river, which
is spanned by a long narrow bridge built of bricks. Crossing
this bridge, we found quarters for the night in the house of a
respectable citizen, but though the room allotted to me was clean
and comfortable enough, the close, moist air, mosquitoes, and
vagrant cats combined to keep me awake for some time.
Tuesday, 25th September.--We started about 7.30 a.m., and
all day our course lay through flat marshy fenlands, covered
with rushes, sedges, and scrubby bushes. Snakes, lizards (some
large and green, others small and brown), tortoises, and frogs
abounded in and about the numerous stagnant pools by which
we passed. The road was in many places little better than the
surrounding quagmire, sometimes hardly discernible; and this
notwithstanding the fact that it is the main highway between
two of the chief cities of Mazandaran. About 5 p.m. we crossed
the river Babul by a fine bridge, and, turning sharply to the left
(north) along its eastern bank, traversed a great common, used
as a grazing-ground for cattle, and in a few minutes entered
Barfurush. On our right, as we entered, was a large lake covered
with waterlilies, in the centre of which was an island. This
island was joined to the shore by a bridge, and on it stood a
summer-palace (called Bagh-i-Shah, "the King's Garden"), which
serves the Shah as a residence when he visits this part of his
dominions. Farther on we passed, just outside the town, the
caravansaray (now in ruins) where the Babis under Mulla Huseyn
of Bushraweyh, "the First Letter of Affirmation," defended
themselves against the townsfolk of Barfurush in the conflict
which preceded the fiercer struggle at Sheykh Tabarsi. Entering
The town of Barfurush is much finer and larger than Amul, but less picturesque and old-world. We alighted at a rather dilapidated caravansaray near the centre of the town. Here I was visited in the course of the evening by a native of Kabul, a British subject, who showed me his passport with evident pride, and by one or two other persons, who informed me that the Russian ambassador had on the previous day passed through the town on his way to Sari, whence, as I understood, he proposed to return to his own country by ship from Astarabad. I enquired of my visitors concerning Sheykh Tabarsi, which I still eagerly desired to visit. They told me that it was two parasangs distant from Barfurush, to the south-east; and that the Babis, drawing an analogy from the early history of Islam, called it "Kerbela" Barfurush "Kufa," and the lake surrounding the Bagh-i-Shah "the Euphrates" (Furat), and were still in the habit of making pilgrimages thither.
In the evening, after supper, I summoned Haji Safar, told him
of my wish to visit Sheykh Tabarsi, and asked him whether it
Next morning (Wednesday, 26th September) Haji Safar awoke me about 7 with the welcome intelligence that he had found a shopkeeper of Barfurush, who owned two ponies, and was well acquainted with the road to Sheykh Tabarsi, whither, for a consideration, he was willing to guide me. While I was drinking my morning tea the aforesaid guide, an honest-looking, burly fellow, appeared in person.
"Well," said he, "I hear you want to visit Tabarsi; what for is no concern of mine, though why a Firangi should desire to go there baffles my understanding. However, I am ready to take you, if you will give me a suitable present for my trouble. But we must start at once, for it is two good parasangs there over the worst of ground, and you must, as I understand, get to Mashhad-i-Sar this evening, so that you should be back here at least two or three hours before sunset. If you don't like fatigue and hard work you had better give up the idea. What do you say? Will you go or not?"
"Of course I will go," I replied; "for what else did I seek you out?"
"Well said!" replied my guide, patting me on the shoulder; "then let us be off without delay."
In a few minutes we were in the saddle, and moving rapidly
Sheykh Tabarsi is a place of little natural strength; and of
the elaborate fortifications, said by the Musulman historians to
have been constructed by the Babis, no trace remains. It consists
at present of a flat, grassy enclosure surrounded by a hedge, and
containing, besides the buildings of the shrine and another
building at the gateway (opposite to which, but outside the
enclosure, stands the house of the mutawalli, or custodian of
the shrine), nothing but two or three orange-trees and a few rude
graves covered with flat stones, the last resting-places, perhaps,
of some of the Babi defenders. The building at the gateway is
two storeys high, is traversed by the passage giving access to
My guide, believing, no doubt, that I was at heart a Babi
come to visit the graves of the martyrs of my religion,
considerately withdrew to the mutawalli's house and left me
to my own devices for about three-quarters of an hour. I was
still engaged in making rough plans and sketches of the place*,
however, when he returned to remind me that we could not afford
to delay much longer. So, not very willingly, yet greatly
comforted at having successfully accomplished this final
pilgrimage, I mounted, and we rode back by the way we had come
to Barfurush, where we arrived about 3 p.m. "You are a Haji
now," said my guide laughingly, as we drew near the town, "and
you ought to reward me liberally for this day's work; for I
tell you that there are hundreds of Babis who come here to visit
Sheykh Tabarsi and can find no one to guide them thither, and
these would almost give their ears to go where you have gone;
and see what you have seen." So when we alighted at a
caravansaray near his house I gave him a sum of money with
which he appeared well content, and he, in return, set tea
before me, and then came and sat with me a while, telling me,
with some amusement, of the wonderings and speculations which
my visit to Sheykh Tabarsi had provoked amongst the townsfolk.
* These will be found in my translation of the New History, published by the Cambridge University Press.
When I had rested for a while, a horse, on which was set
a palan, or pack-saddle, instead of an ordinary saddle, was
brought round. My guide apologised for not himself conducting
me to Mashhad-i-Sar, adding that he had provided a guide who
knew the way well. With this new guide, a barefooted stripling,
I set off for my last ride in Persia. Our way lay at first through
beautiful shady lanes, and thriving villages composed of thatched
cottages, both singularly English in appearance; and we made
good progress until, about two miles from Mashhad-i-Sar, we
emerged on the bare links or downs which skirt the coast, and
almost simultaneously darkness began to fall. Here we lost our
way for a while, until set in the road by an old villager; and
at length, about 7.30 p.m., after traversing more lanes over-
shadowed by trees and brilliant with glow-worms, we saw the
welcome light of the caravansaray which stands hard by the
seashore at some distance beyond the village.
That night was my last on Persian soil, but I had little time
to indulge in sentimental reflections, for it was late when I
had finished my supper, and I had to dispose my baggage for a
different manner of travelling from that to which I had been
so long accustomed, besides settling up with Haji Safar. I paid
him 163 krans in all (about 5 pounds), of which sixty krans were
for his wages during September, thirty krans for the first half of
October (for he would not reach Teheran for ten days probably),
forty krans for the hire of the horse I had ridden, and thirty-
three krans for journey-money. I also made over to him my
saddle, saddle-bags, and cooking utensils, as well as some well-
Next morning (Thursday, 27th September) Haji Safar woke me
early, telling me that the steamer was in sight. This proved
to be a false alarm, and when I went to the Russian agents (who
had an office in the caravansaray) they declined to give me my
ticket until the steamer actually appeared. These two agents
either were, or feigned to be, excessively stupid; they affected
not to understand either Persian or French, and refused to take
payment for the ticket in anything but Russian money, so that
it was fortunate that I had in Teheran provided myself with a
certain quantity of rouble notes. Finally the steamer hove in
sight, the ticket was bought for twenty-five roubles, and I
hastened down to the shore of the estuary, where several large
clumsy boats were preparing to put off to her.
It was with genuine regret that I turned for a moment before
stepping into the boat to bid farewell to Persia (which,
notwithstanding all her faults, I had come to love very dearly)
and the faithful and efficient Haji Safar. He had served me well,
and to his intelligence and enterprise I owed much. He was not
perfect--what man is?--but if ever it be my lot to visit these lands
again, I would wish no better than to secure the services of him,
or one like him. I slipped into his hands a bag of money which I
had reserved for a parting present, and with a few brief words
of farewell, stepped into the boat, which at once cast off from
the shore, and, hoisting a sail, stood out towards the Russian
steamer. The sea grew rougher as we left the shelter of the
estuary, but with the sail we advanced quickly, and about 8.15
a.m. I climbed on board the Emperor Alexander, and, for the
first time for many months, felt myself, with a sudden sense
of loneliness, a stranger in the midst of strangers.
The only passengers who embarked besides myself were two
About 10.30 a bell announced breakfast, and I again descended to the cabin. I was the only cabin passenger, and on entering the saloon I was surprised to see two tables laid. At one were seated the officers of the vessel (three or four in number), busily engaged in the consumption of sardines, caviare, cheese, roasted potatoes, and the like, which they were washing down with nips of vodka, a strong spirit, resembling the Persian 'arak. The other table was laid with plates, but the places were vacant. Wondering whether the officers were too proud to sit down at the same table with the passengers, I stood hesitating, observing which, one of the officers called out to me in English, asking me whether I felt sick. I indignantly repudiated the imputation, whereupon he bade me join them at their "Zakouski." So I sat down with them; and, after doing justice to the caviare and cheese, we moved on to the other table and had a substantial dejeuner. At 6.30 in the evening we had another similar meal, also preceded by Zakouski.
At 4 p.m. we reached Bandar-i-Gaz, the port of Astarabad,
and anchored close to the shore, by a wooden barge serving as
a pier, in full view of the little island of Ashurada. This now
belongs to the Russians (who first occupied it on the pretext
of checking the Turcoman pirates who formerly infested this
corner of the Caspian, and then declined to give it back to
the Persians), and around it several Russian war-ships were
anchored. Some of their officers came on board our steamer,
and later in the evening rockets were sent up from them in
honour, as I suppose, of the Russian Ambassador, who, so far
I went to sleep that night with the sweet scent of the forests of Mazandaran in my nostrils (for the wind was off the shore); but when I went on deck next morning (Friday, 28th September) not a tree was in sight, but only a long line of yellow sand-dunes, which marked the inhospitable Turcoman coast, whence in bygone days, ere the Russians stepped in and put a stop to their marauding, the Turcoman pirates issued forth to harry the fertile Persian lands, and bear back with them, to hateful bondage, hosts of unfortunate captives destined for sale in the slave-markets of Samarkand and Bukhara. At about mid-day we anchored off Chekishlar, where a number of Russian officers, two ladies, and a child, came on board to breakfast on the steamer. Immediately after breakfast we again stood out to sea.
That evening an official of the Russian police (who, I suppose,
had come on board at Chekishlar) came up to me with one of the
officers of the boat and demanded my passport, which, he said,
would be returned to me at the Custom-House at Baku. I was very
loth to part with it, but there was no help for it; and, inwardly
chafing, I surrendered to him the precious document.
Early next morning (Saturday, 29th September) I awoke to
find the vessel steaming along between a double row of sand-
dunes towards Uzun-Ada ("Long-Island"), the point whence the
Russian railway to Bukhara and Samarkand takes its departure.
Passing the narrows, we anchored alongside the quay about
8.30 a.m. Being without my passport (which had probably been
taken from me expressly to prevent me from leaving the steamer)
I could not, even if I would, have gone on shore. But indeed
there was little to tempt me, for a more unattractive spot I have
seldom seen. It seemed to consist almost entirely of railway-
stations, barracks, police-stations, and custom-houses, set in
wastes of sand, infinite and immeasurable, and the Turcoman
seemed to bear but a small proportion to the Russian inhabitants.
I woke about 6.30 a.m. on the following morning (Sunday, 30th September) to find myself at Baku (or Badkube, as it is called by the Persians). Somehow or other I escaped the ordeal of the Custom-House; for, intending at first to breakfast on board, I did not disembark with the other passengers, and when afterwards, changing my mind, I went on shore, about 9.30 a.m., the pier was free of excisemen, and I had nothing to do but step into a cab and drive to the station, stopping on the way at a Persian money-changer's to convert the remainder of my Persian money into rouble notes.
The train did not start till 2.37 p.m., so I had some time to
wait at the station, where I had lunch. The porters were
inefficient and uncivil, the train crowded, and the scenery
monotonous in the extreme, so that my long railway journey began
under rather depressing auspices. Still there was a certain
novelty in finding myself once more in a train, and after a
while I was cheered by the entrance into my compartment of two
Musulmans of the Caucasus. With these I entered into conversation
in Turkish, for which I presently substituted Persian on finding
that one of them was familiar with that language. But I had
hardly spoken ten words when a Russian officer, who sat next me
on the right, and
I had intended to stay a day at Tiflis, where we arrived at 8.15 next morning (Monday, 1st October), but the friendly officer told me that the steamers for Odessa left Batoum on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and that, after cities more truly Oriental in character, Tiflis would offer but little attraction to me, so I deterrnined to continue my journey without halt, in order to catch the morrow's boat. I had some difficulty in gettillg my ticket and finding my train, as no one seemed to talk anything but Russian, but at last I succeeded, though only after a waste of time which prevented me from making more thaIl the most unsubstantial and desultory breakfast. This, however, was of little consequence, for I never knew any railway on which there were such frequent and prolonged stoppages for refreshment, or any refreshment-rooms so well provided and so well managed. The fact that there is only one train a day each way no doubt makes it easier to have all these savoury dishes and steaming samovars (tea-urns) ready for passengers on their arrival, but at no railway station in Europe have I seen food at once so cheap, so good, and so well served as in the stations of the Trans-Caucasian line.
The scenery on leaving Tiflis was fine, and at one point
we caught a glimpse of splendid snow-capped mountains to
the north; but on the whole I was disappointed, for the line
lies so much in narrow valleys which bar the outlook that
little is to be seen of the great Caucasian range. What could
be seen of the country from the train was pretty rather than
grand, and I was not sorry to reach Batoum at about 11.15
P.M., where I put up at the Hotel de France, and, for the first
time since leaving Teheran eleven days ago, enjoyed the luxury
of sleeping between sheets.
As the steamer for Odessa was not to leave Batoum till 3.30 P.M. on the following day (Tuesday, 2nd October), I had all the morning to look about me, but the town presented few features of interest, and the only thing that aroused my wonder was the completely European character assumed by a place which had only ceased to be Turkish twelve years ago. I was very glad to embark on the steamer, which actually started about 4 P.M. Dinner was at 6, and afterwards I stayed on deck till after 11, when we arrived at Sukhoum- Kala.
Next evening (Wednesday, 3rd October) we reached Novo- Rassayask about 5 P.M., and lay there till late at night. There were several war-vessels in the fine harbour, which continued throughout the evening to send up rockets and ilash the electric light from point to point.
Early on the morning of Thursday, 4th October, we reached Kertch, where, amongst other passengers, a very loquacious American came on board. He had been spending some time amongst the Russians, whom he did not much like or admire, though, as he told me, he believed them to be the coming nation.
Friday, 5th October.--Reached Yalta about 5 A.M., and lay there till 8. It is a very beautiful place, and I was told that the drive thence to Sebastopol along the coast traverses scenery so fair that it has been called "the Earthly Paradise." At 1.30 P.M. we reached Sebastopol, where the American left the steamer. The harbour struck me as very fine, but I, ignorant of things military, should never have guessed that the place would be a position of such remarkable strength.
On the following morning (Saturday, 6th October) we
reached Odessa before 7 A.M. There was no customs' examination,
as we came from a Russian port, and I drove straight to
the Hotel d'Europe, thinking that my troubles were over, and
The landlord met me at the hotel door. "I am afraid you will not be able to get your visa to-day," said he, "for it is past noon, and if the police grant it, it will only be as an act of grace. Your only chance is to take a cab, drive direct to the police- station, and request the prefect as a favour to visa your passport, explaining to him that you have but just arrived and wish to start to-night."
Fruitless errand, to seek such grace from the Russian police! Whether I offended them by omitting to remove my hat on entering the office I know not; probably this had something to do with it, for a man cried out at me in anger through a pigeon-hole, and was only quieted when I uncovered my head. Then it was some time before I could find anyone who spoke anything but Russian; but at last I was shown into an inner room where two men sat at a table, one portly, irascible, and clad in uniform; the other thin, white-haired, smooth-shaven, and sinister of countenance. I presented my passport, and explained in French the reasons which had prevented me from coming sooner, adding that I should feel deeply obliged if they would grant me the visa. The wizen- faced man answered in a high peevish voice in very bad French that I must come to-morrow.
"I cannot come to-morrow," I replied, "for I must leave to-
"You cannot leave to-night," he retorted as his portly
colleague threw the passport back to me across the table; "if
you wished to leave to-night you should have come earlier."
"But I tell you that I only arrived this morning," I answered.
"Then you must stay till to-morrow," they answered; and
when I would have remonstrated, "Go," shouted the man in
the uniform, "you waste our time and yours." And so, gulping
down my anger and pocketing my passport, I left the office.
Here was a pleasant state of things! I was in hot haste to get back to England; I had travelled as fast as I could from the Persian capital, not even stopping at Tiflis, where I would gladly have spent a day; and now there seemed every likelihood of my being detained in this detestable Odessa for the whim of a Russian prefect of police. I asked my friend the ship-owner what I should do."I am afraid," said he, "that you can do nothing now. You seem to have offended the susceptibilities of the police in some way, and they will certainly not do anything to accommodate you, for their will is absolute, and argument is useless. A judicious bribe might have smoothed matters over if you had known how to give it and to whom, but I fear that the time for that has passed.
"Are you sure the passport needs a visa at all?" I enquired,
remembering that the words "bon pour se rendre en Angleterre par
voie de la Russie" had been inscribed on it at the English Embassy
after it had received the Russian visa at Teheran. My friend was
at first inclined to maintain that the visa was indispensable, but
I asked why, as I was not stopping even a single night at Odessa,
and as I was travelling straight through Russia as fast as possible,
it should need a visa here more than at Baku or any other town
through which I had passed. Then he called a clerk more experienced
in the ways of Russia than himself and asked his opinion. The
clerk finally gave it as his decision that the passport was good
without the visa of the Odessa police, unless the latter,
"Well," said I, "the practical point is this, would you advise
me to take this evening's train or not?"
"I hardly like to advise you," replied my friend, "but if I
were in your place I should go and risk it."
"In that case," I rejoined, after a moment's reflection, "I will go."
I had some difficulty with the hotel-keeper ere he would consent
to my departure, but at length, to my great relief, I found
myself, with a ticket for Berlin in my pocket, ensconced in a
compartment of the 7.40 p.m. train for the West. A pleasant and
kindly Austrian who was returning to Vienna, and who would
therefore bear me company as far as Oswiecim, was my fellow-
traveller. He spoke English well, and gave me much seasonable
help both at the Russian and the Austrian frontiers.
It was an anxious moment for me when, about 9 a.m. on the
following day (Sunday, 7th October), the train steamed into
the Russian frontier station of Woloczyska, and we were
bidden to alight for the inspection of passports. A peremptory
official collected these and disappeared with them into an office,
while we waited anxiously outside. Presently he appeared with
a handful of them and began to call out the names of the possessors,
each of whom, as his name was called, stepped forward and claimed
his passport. I waited anxiously, for mine was not there. The
official retired to his office and again emerged with another
sheaf of papers, and still I waited in vain, till all but one or two
of the passports had been returned to their owners. "Haven't
you got your passport yet?" enquired the kindly Austrian. "The
train is just going to start." "I don't know what has become of
it," I answered despairingly, making sure that my detention
had been resolved upon. Thereupon he stepped forward and
addressed the official, who in reply produced two or three
passports, amongst which I recognised my own. I was very near
So much time had been consumed thus that I had to forgo all hope of breakfast, and thought myself fortunate in finding a few moments to change my Russian into Austrian money. Then I re-entered the train, and indescribable was my satisfaction when we steamed out of the station and left Russia behind us. The people, I doubt not, are honest and kindly folk, but the system of police supervision and constant restraint which prevails is, to an Englishman unused to such interference, well-nigh intolerable. I had suffered more annoyance during the few days of my passage through Russian territory than during all the rest of my journey.
Not yet, however, were my troubles over. Five minutes after leaving Woloczyska the train pulls up at the Austrian frontier station of Podwoloczyska for the Austrian Customs' examination. As it began to slacken speed, my Austrian friend asked me whether I anticipated any trouble there. I answered in the negative.
"What, for instance," said he, "have you in that wooden box?" The box in question contained a handsome silver coffee-service of Persian workmanship, which a Persian gentleman, to whom I was under great obligations, had asked me to convey for him to one of his friends in England. I told my Austrian fellow- traveller this, whereupon he exclaimed:--
"A silver coffee-service! You will have trouble enough with
it, or I am much mistaken. Why, do you not know that the
Custom-House regulations in Austria as to the importation of
silver are most stringent? You will be lucky if they do not
confiscate it and melt it down."
I was greatly disquieted at this information, for I felt myself
bound in honour to convey the silver entrusted to me safely
to its destination; and I asked my companion what I had best do.
"Well," he said, "you must declare it at once on your arrival,
and demand to have it sealed up for transmission to the Prussian
frontier station of Oswiecim. I will give you what help I can."
I had another bad time at Podwoloczyska, but at length, thanks to the good offices of my fellow-traveller, the box containing the silver was sealed up with leaden seals and registered through to Oswiecim. All my luggage was subjected to an exhaustive examination, and everything of which the use was not perfectly apparent (such as my medicine chest and the Wolseley valise), was placed in the contraband parcel, for which I had to pay a considerable additional sum for registration. All this took time, and here, too, I had to abandon all idea of breakfast. By the time we reached Lemberg, at about 2 p.m., I was extremely hungry, having had practically nothing to eat since leaving Odessa on the previous evening; and I was glad to secure a luncheon-basket, the contents of which I had plenty of time to consume ere we reached the next station, where it was removed.
My original intention was to stay the night at Cracow, as
I found that I should gain nothing by pushing on to Oswiecim,
but now, seeing that the bundle containing the silver entrusted
to my care must go through to the frontier, and anticipating
further troubles at the Prussian Custom-House, I changed my
plan, and, on arriving at Cracow, alighted from the train,
reclaimed that portion of my luggage registered from Odessa,
and re-registered it to Oswiecim, the Prussian frontier station
and the point where the Vienna and Berlin lines diverge. I had
just time to effect this ere the train started again.
At 11.30 on the night of this miserable day the train stopped at
Oswiecim, and I emerged into the black wet night, the cheerlessness
of which was revealed rather than mitigated by a few feeble oil
I do not think that the porter who accompanied me spoke German very fluently, and, as I could hardly speak it at all, communication was difficult. Tired out, wet, and discouraged, I was anxious to throw myself on the bench and forget my troubles in sleep. Yet still the porter stood by me, striving, as I supposed, to express his regret at my being compelled to pass so uncomfortable a night. So I roused myself, and, as well as I could, told him that it was really of no consequence, since I had passed many a good night in quarters no more luxurious. "This will do very well till the morning," I concluded, as I again threw myself down on the bench, thinking of that favourite aphorism of the Persians under such circumstances as those in which I found myself, "Akhir yak shah-ast, na hazar" ("After all, it is for one night, not a thousand").
"It might do very well," explained the porter, "if you could stop here, but you cannot. We are going to shut up the station."
I again sprang to my feet. "I can't spend the night walking
"Ay, that's just the question," retorted he.
We again emerged on to the platform, and my porter took
counsel with some other station officials; but from the way they
shook their heads and shrugged their shoulders I inferred that
my chances of being allowed to remain there were but small.
Finally, a gendarme with a gun and bayonet appeared, and I was
invited to follow him, which I did apathetically, without the
least idea as to whither we were bound.
Tramping after my guide through dark muddy lanes, I presently
found myself at the door of a house, where the gendarme bade
me wait for a minute while he entered. Presently, after
much wrangling in Polish, he again emerged, and beckoned to
me to follow him. We passed through an outer bedroom where
several persons were sleeping, and entered a smaller inner room
containing two beds, occupied by the owner of the house and
his son. Between the former and my guide a further altercation
ensued, and it seemed as though here also I was to find no rest.
At last the owner of the house got out of bed, led me to a sort
of window looking into an adjacent room which I had not hitherto
noticed, and, pointing to a mass of human beings (vagrants,
I suppose) sleeping huddled together on the floor, remarked
that it was "pretty full in there."
I stepped back in consternation. "Well," continued he, "will
"I must stay somewhere," I replied; "I am not allowed to stop
in the railway station, I can't get into the hotel, and you can
hardly expect me to spend the night out of doors in the rain."
"Well, you can sleep on that bench," said he, pointing to one
which stood by the wall. I signified assent, and, as the gendarme
prepared to depart, I offered him a small silver coin which looked
like a sixpence. The effect was most happy. It had never occurred
to me that these people would suppose me to be absolutely
Altogether I fared much better than I had expected, and, had it not been that my socks and boots were wet through, I should have been sufficiently comfortable. In the morning they gave me breakfast, made me inscribe my name in a book kept for that purpose, were delighted to find that I had a passport, and thankfully received the few shillings I gave them. Then the porter of the previous night returned to conduct me to the railway station, and I bade farewell to my entertainers, not knowing to this day whether or no I had passed that night under the sheltering roof of a Polish casual-ward.
By reaching the station an hour before the departure of the
train (which started from Cracow, where I had intended to spend
the previous night), I hoped to get my luggage cleared at the
Custom-House, and the silver plate sealed up again for
transmission through Germany in good time. Here again I was
foiled, however, for I found that the Custom-House officers
did not put in appearance till the arrival of the train. When
they did come they were intelligent and courteous enough, but
very rigorous in their examination of my luggage. About my opium-
I was so heartily sick of Oswiecim, and so eager to get to the end of my journey, that I could not face the prospect of further delay, especially as I had every reason to expect that I should have another similar experience at the Dutch frontier; so I enquired whether it would not be possible to have the package forwarded after me to England. They replied that it would, and introduced to me an honest-looking man, named Arnold Haber, who, they said, was an agent for the transmission of goods. To him, therefore, I confided the care of my precious but troublesome little box, which duly reached me some days after my return to Cambridge, with a heavy charge for duty from the Dover Custom- House.
It was with unalloyed satisfaction that I took my seat in the
train, and, about 10 a.m., left Oswiecim behind me. At 2 p.m.
I reached Breslau, where I had just time for a hasty meal, and
at 10 p.m. I was at Berlin, just in time to see the Flushing night-
mail, which I had hoped to catch, steam out of the station. So
here I had to spend the night at a homely comfortable hotel
called the Berliner Hof, the luxuries of which a remembrance of
my last night's discomfort enabled me to appreciate to the full.
Next morning (Tuesday, 9th October) I left Berlin at 7.45 a.m
for Flushing, and twenty-four hours later, without further
adventure, landed once more in England. By half-past nine on
the morning of that day (Wednesday, 10th October) I was at
King's Cross, debating in my mind whether I should go straight
to the North, or whether I ought first to visit Cambridge (where
Thus ended a journey to which, though fraught with fatigues
and discomforts, and not wholly free from occasional vexations,
I look back with almost unmixed satisfaction. For such fatigues
and discomforts (and they were far fewer than might reasonably
have been expected) I was amply compensated by an enlarged
knowledge and experience, and a rich store of pleasant memories,
which would have been cheaply purchased even at a higher price.
For without toil and fatigue can nothing be accomplished, even
as an Arab poet has said:--