« PredošláPokračovať »
be brought upon you insensibly to vote by Scotch and Irish members, who will enforce all your votes hereafter. Mr. Knightly.- The union with Irelaud must be preserved. This has been one occasion of the great tumults in Ireland that we have not till now taken them into our legislature. Mr. Hewley. We are now all one body; Irish are natives here, and have all one soul, It is not prudent or safe to turn them out of the house."
“ March 21.-The debate is resumed on the Scotch and Irish members. Mr. Annesley.— This house has all along dispensed with acts of parliament; as in case of non-residency. If the union were not for the interest of England, I should be the first to withdraw.' Mr. Boscawen.- The union was made but by the fag.end of the long parliament. Scotland will not think themselves obliged to keep that union, longer than till they can break it.' Colonel West. As not one native may be here, then sixty (thirty for Ireland and thirty for Scotland), are the quorum ; and it may happen that it will be in their power to impose laws upon us.'
“ March 23.—The debate on Ireland is resumed. Major Ashton.—I am a member for Ireland. The members that come in for that place serve no more for Ireland than for England. Ireland was anciently a province. Henry II. went thither, and they made a resignation of their
power to him, by confirmation of the pope. He granted it to his son John, but
ut non separetur ab Angli.' King John went into Ireland, and ordained by act of parliament that Ireland should be governed by all the laws of England. 10 Hen. VII. came in the Statute of Poynings, which made the statute law also the same in Ireland, only they had parliaments, as being most fit for that nation. In a parliament held that year at Drogheda, it is enacted that all statutes made in England, &c., from henceforth be deemed effectual in law, and be accepted, used, and executed, within this land of Ireland, in all points. I think it best that they should have parliameuts of their own, for the very reason, that votes may not be imposed upon you here. Mr. Gewen. Ít were better for England and Ireland that they have parliaments of their own.' Mr. Thomas.—' How does it consist with our privilege to admit strangers?' Mr. Annesley.• England is in no danger of thirty members from Ireland, but if thirty from Scotland should join them, much mischief might ensue.'
It must from the above extracts be quite clear to our readers that in the compilation before us, there is matter requiring the attention of every raw or juvenile legislator, and also that in the stores which Mr. Parry has drawn from, there is much more to reward the most industrious and competent research.
ART. X. - Travels in the Trans-Cauc asian Provinces of Russia, &c.,
By Captain R. WILBRAHAM, 7th. Royal Fusileers. London: Murray.
1839. CAPTAIN WILBRAHAM states that he has been lately employed on a particular service in Persia, being one of the British officers, it would appear, who were engaged to teach the European system of
military discipline and tactics in that country. When the army of the Shah was ordered to repair towards the East in its expedition against Herat, the Captain, of course, could not join in the undertaking, seeing that it was hostile to the interests of the crown to which he owed allegiance. The autumn and winter of 1837 being thus left free to him to occupy as he might deem proper, were devoted to travelling in Georgia, and along the Southern shores of the remarkable Lakes Van and Urumiah. He afterwards visited the province of Mazanderan on the shores of the Caspian Sea ; but this second excursion need not detain us.
It appears that the journals of these tours were not originally intended for publication, but for the entertainment of a few, the author's own family particularly ; and he mentions this circumstance, along with that of little opportunity being frequently allowed him, in consequence of wintry weather, a hard method of travelling, motley companionship when he was at leisure, and brief occasions for forming his opinions, as an apology for the superficial nature of the work, -external objects and the features of human character and manners, which at once strike the stranger, constituting the themes and matter of his pages.
We must allow, however, that the Captain has a quick eye which has seen a great deal in very distant spheres, and a rapid hand at noting and comparing. There is much of the man of the world as well as of the soldier about him ; and what must have been specially serviceable to him in the course of the Travels here detailed, he is not unacquainted with eastern manners, nor the national characteristics of the people among whom he rambled. Indeed, as regards Persia, which was not the subject which he intended particularly to describe, he, from the abundance of his experience and intimate observation, conducts us, though it may have been unintentionally and unconsciously, below the surface, laying bare by incidental strokes the rotten and tottering condition of the monarchy.constitutionally, and as respects some of its most important relations. The government is weak, ministers and office-bearers are exceedingly corrupt; the people are sadly oppressed, very poor, and greatly demoralized. The kingdom has been shorn of some of its fairest as well as some of its strongest provinces. Hostile and warlike tribes infest its borders, not to speak of the more formidable blow which a mighty European arm may at any time aim at the integrity of the empire as it still exists dominally rather than virtually.
Having said this much, as a general introduction to the passages which we have marked for quotation; and having spoken favourably in particular of his views of Persia, we shall first of all, and in the natural order of the points that at present press upon public attention, take our stand in that declining and decaying country. The Shah himself has a right to be placed first in the order of the sketches to be transferred to our pages :
" His majesty," says the Captain who had an audience of leave of him, “ was seated near the window supported by a pile of cushions, while a single attendant knelt behind him, waving a broad fan of feathers above his head. His dress was as usual, perfectly simple, the rich jewelled handle of his dagger alone betokened his rank. His age does not exceed one or two and thirty, but his thick beard and heavy figure make him appear an older man: his countenance is rather handsome, and except when his anger is excited, of a prepossessing and good humoured expression : his manner, especially towards Europeans, is extremely affable: he generally speaks Turkish, the language of his tribe, but, both in that and in Persian, his enunciation is so rapid, that it requires some practice to understand him. Compared with the generality of Asiatics, the Shah is a man of considerable energy, and by no means deficient in information : he is well versed in the history of his own country, and has a tolerably correct idea of the geography and political state of Europe. His army is his hobby, and to his thirst for military fame he sacrifices both his own ease and comfort, and the welfare and prosperity of his own country. His court is far inferior in style and splendour to that of his grandfather and predecessor, the principal offices of state being occupied by men of low origin; deficient in that magnificence of coutliness of manner which formerly distinguished the Persian noble. The late king was always attended by a numerous and gallant retinue, of princes of the blood, and officers of state, besides a crowd of inferior retainers; the present monarch often rides out with a few ill-mounted and worse appointed followers. The Shah is a strict and conscientious Mussulman: he never indulges in the forbidden juice of the grape, an abstinence rare in royal family, nor does he follow the universal practice of smoking. His harem, unlike that of his grandfather, the number of which exceeds all credibility, is within the limits prescribed by the Mahommedan law. Well would it have been for Persia aud Fatteh had Ali Shah been as moderate, for every government, however significant, was conferred upon one of his countless sons, who drained the very heart's blood of the country. Since the accession of the present monarch the greater part of these bave been removed, and many of them are now reduced to the utmost distress, living from hand to mouth by the sale of shawls and jewels, the relics of better days. Some of the late king's wives have passed into the harem of private individuals : others, who had anassed some property, live in their respective villages. Mahommed Shah has two sons; the eldest, the destined successor, is now at Tabreez, under the care of Suleeman Khan, his maternal uncle. The mother of the boy was of the royal tribe. The second, who resides at Tehran, is a chubby little fellow, about three years old, the sun cf a Koordish woman."
Of one of the sons of the late Shah we have rather a prepossessing account. He at least is a character : -
“On the evening of the 8th of December 1 reached the village of Shisha wan, the residence of Malek Kossim Mirza, a son of the late Shah, whom I had constantly met during my short stay at Tabreez in the
summer of 1836. At that time he adopted the Frank dress, and, instead of a handsome Persian, had transfigured himself into a raffish-looking European. I remember meeting him at the ambassador's table in a blue surtout with large brass buttons, a coloured check-shirt, and a white cravat. In compliance with our customs, he bad doffed the lambskin-cap, and his shorn bead certainly did not improve his appearance. He had taught himself French, with some assistance from a Frenchwoman, who held the responsible situation of matron of the Prince Royal's harem, and spoke that language fluently. He had now turned his attention to learn. ing English, and had persuaded Mr. Merrick, an American missionary, to spend a few months with him at Shishawan. Mr. Merrick, who had been sent to Persia with a view of ascertaining what might be done towards the propagation of the gospel among the Mahommedans, had accepted the Prince's invitation, with the double view of studying the Persian language and character."
We are also told of this worthy, that some years ago, having met with an edition of Voltaire's works, he became a disciple of that school ; but that the late Shah, alarmed at some of his opinions, ordered him to commit the work to the flames. The Captain says, that, to do him justice, his conversation was decorous and sensible, and that his rapid progress in English was quite astonishing.
· In regard to the present monarch's state and appointments, when the author accompanied the royal camp in 1836, we read that with the exception of a small phaeton, belonging to the Russian Ambassador, who, in consequence of a wound in the leg, was unable to ride, the only wheel carriage was a venerable cab, in which the Centre of the Universe was wont to travel whenever the road would permit. A good story is connected with this state carriage. One of the sons of the late Prince Royal, Abbas Mirza, inquired of an Eng, lish officer whether the King of England had such a set-out; and, on being answered in the negative, he appeared perfectly satisfied that no other man or country could boast of such a splendid vehicle.
· Wheel-carriages of any kind, even the most commou sort of carts, seem not to be in vogue in Persia ; the want of regular roads and the nature of the surface of the country in fact, rendering such contrivances for carrying merchandize or the munitions of war useless. To be sure, it was one of the bright schemes of the present Haji to have a number of inefficient vehicles of the kind now nentioned manufactured for the purpose of carrying the provisions for the army to Herat ; but in the course of one day's march out of Tehran, the greater number broke down by the way..
By the bye, and before leaving Persia or even Tehran, it will be as well to let our readers have a view of the sketch of the all-powerful minister just now referred to, - Haji. Mirza Aghassi,. the grand vizier :
" The liaji or pilgrim, as this important personage is always called, from bis having performed his devotions at the shrine of Mecca, is the most remarkable man that I have ever met with. He.is by no means destitute of talent, but his words and actions are strongly tinctured with zeal or affected insanity. He is said to be deeply versed in Soofeeism, the wild theories of which, though incompatible with the religion of the prophet, are daily extending the number of their votaries. The extraordinary degree in which he has possessed himself of the confidence of his sovereign, both as political and religious adviser, has rendered him omnipotent, emboldens him to treat the ancient nobles, and even the princes of the royal family, with the utmost hauteur and coarseness, doubly galling to them from the lowness of his origin. The whole business of the state is transacted by him, and the other ministers of the Shah are mere instruments in his hands. It is impossible to introduce any subject, but the haji immediately assures you that he understands it more thoroughly than any man alive ; and I have heard him utter the most consummate nonsense about military matters, while the whole assembly, with imperturbable gravity, agreed with all he said. On one occasion, some one having ventured to praise the generalship of Napoleon, the haji sharply interrupted him, saying, Napoleon ! whose dog was Napoleon ?'".
The good sayings attributed to the haji would fill a volume, but unfortunately few of them would adınit of repetition to ears polite. He is a short but athletic man, of about sixty, with a shrewd eye, and a beard so scanty as to be the subject of witty remark in a country where such an appendage is an object of so much consideration. He affects great friendship for the English ; yet we learn that when the Captain took his leave of this most influential personage, previous to the army marching towards Herat, couriers were waiting on him, ready booted, for their orders to proceed to the different provinces from which new levies were to be drawn. And what a sad prospect have the provincial inhabitants of Persia when an army of their countrymen is ordered to march through the land :
• " The route of a Persian regiment may be traced by deserted villages, unroofed houses, and devastations of the most wanton nature. Its march is more destructive in its own country than would be that of a hostile furce; and the evil is daily increasing, since the long arrears of pay and absence of commissariat force the soldiers to supply their wants by plunder. Hard indeed is the lot of those whose villages lie near the main road. Many, which a few years ago were rich and thriving, are now heaps of ruins. The invasion of an enemy might cause a temporary abandonment of house and home, but a visitation, at all times impending, drives the poor peasant to despair, and he seeks a refuge in remuter valleys. Many of these villages are surrounded by a wall, and might resist the efforts of the troops to force an entrance ; but, unless they be. long to some man of influence, the fear of ulterior consequences deters