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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

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1. Royal PALACE AT ISPAHAN 2. Persian LANTERN . . 3. INTERIOR OF A Persian COTTAGE 4. House-TOP . . . 5. TURKISH BAZAAR . 6. Persians at Meals 7. Persian BaSON AND Ewer 8. Reception Of A DRESS of Honour . 9. Persian BOWING BEFORE THE King 10. Persian PostURES IN PRAYER 11. MOSQUE AT SULTANIAH . . 12. SITTING Room of a Persian LADY

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*** The cuts at pages 24 and 332 are from paintings by Colonel D'Arcy, in the possession of Major George Willock. The author feels much pleasure that, through the kindness of viii

these gentlemen, he is enabled to present his young readers with pictures of so much interest, and of subjects which have not before been represented in any engravings.

It may be desirable to add that in the engraving, “The Interior of a Persian Cottage,” the women on their knees are in the act of making bread, at one of those oven-pits described in pages 34–39. In the other engraving, the little slave-girl, who enters the room at the door opposite the lady, is bringing in the kaleon, for smoking tobacco through water, which has been noticed in page 176. The other details of these instructive pictures do not appear to need explanation, or are sufficiently explained in the present volume.

PERSIA.

CHAPTER I.

THE CITIES OF PERSIA.

Uncle Oliver. You have read many fine stories about the East. You have heard of cities glittering with gold, and rich in ivory and marble. I am now going to tell you about Persian cities : and from what you have read, you will be ready to expect that I shall have to tell you of something very different — something more glorious by far—than the cities of our own country. It is quite true that the difference between a city of Persia and one of England is very great. But the difference is not such as you have been led to expect. I dare say that you suppose I have to speak of cities, the wealth and glory of which must be difficult to describe. But no; that is not my difficulty. I have no other difficulty than how to describe their meanness. I assure you, that among all the renowned Per

VOL. II.

sian cities that I have seen, I know none so pleasant or handsome as a common English town, although, of course, they may exceed in size and in the number of their people.

Henry. Then how is it, Sir, that we have been led to consider them so glorious and beautiful ?

U. O. There are several ways in which we may account for that. In the first place, many of the cities, appear to be much less important now than they formerly were.

H. How is that?

U. O. One cause is the frequent change of the metropolis. There is scarcely a large city in Persia which has not at some time or other been the capital of the kingdom. While it was such, it increased in wealth and population; and when it ceased to be such, it declined in proportion. We have descriptions of these cities as they were in the height of their prosperity; and such descriptions give them a reputation to which they have no claim at present.

This brings us to another cause of mistakes, we fall into, when we think about Eastern cities. We are to consider that a few hundred years back the cities of England, and indeed of all

Europe, were very different from what they are now. The streets unpaved and narrow, and the houses mean on the outside and cheerless within. The streets of Eastern cities were then as good as those of Europe, and the houses were far more splendid and comfortable. So it was natural that Europeans who travelled to the East, should speak with much admiration of the cities to which they came, because they could only compare them with their own. Since then, however, the cities of Europe have been greatly improved, while those of the East have not improved at all. Thus, when I went to Asia, after having seen some of the most beautiful towns of Europe, I was surprised at the meanness of cities of which such grand descriptions have been given; but my wonder abated, when I considered that the persons who described them had not seen them with the same eyes that I did; for they not only saw them in their best state, but had seen nothing better in Europe with which to compare them.

H. Then in reading such descriptions, I suppose, I ought to consider at what time the writer lived ? U. O. It will be well to do so. You might

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