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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

I only halted a few days in Isfahan


Caravans

usually employ twenty days on the Ahwaz-Isfahan journey, but the distance can easily be covered in fifteen days and even less. A fortnightly steamer is run by the Euphratis and Tigris Steam Navigation Company to Ahwaz.

Mahommerah exports chiefly to India, then to Turkey, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, the Persian Gulf ports, Egypt and France. In 1900 the exports were to the value of L115,359. The imports were similar to those of Bandar Abbas, viz.:--cotton goods, sugar, coffee, silk, iron, tea, manufactured metal, thread, spices, etc. They amounted to an aggregate sum of L281,570 in 1900, against L202,492 in 1899.[4]

If I have gone into details it is to show the mistake made by the British Government in letting such a valuable position, of absolute vital importance to our interest, drift slowly but surely into Russian hands. Russia's aims in the Gulf are at present concentrated on the Karun River; our movements are closely watched, and nothing could be more probable than, that if we abandon the Karun, Russia will at once fill our place and turn the whole business into a formidable success.

The Russian Government have now granted a subsidy of L5,000 per round voyage to the Russian Steam Navigation to run three steamers a year from Odessa to Bussorah, touching at all the principal ports of the Persian Gulf. The s.s. _Kornilof_ made two voyages in 1901, arriving in Bussorah in

April and November. On her first voyage she landed most of her cargo in Bushire, and only conveyed 8,000 cases of petroleum and a quantity of wood for date boxes; but on her second journey 16,500 cases of petroleum were landed at Bussorah and a further supply of wood, besides a great number of samples of Russian products, such as flour, sugar and matches. On the second return journey the _Kornilof_ took back to Odessa freight for two thousand pounds from Bussorah, principally dates, a cargo which had been previously carried by British steamers to Port Said and then transhipped for the Black Sea.

The appearance of the Russian boats excited considerable interest among the natives and merchants, both British and indigenous. Comments are superfluous on the grant given by the Russian Government to further Russian trade, and the wavering attitude of the British Government in safeguarding interests already acquired.

FOOTNOTES:

[4] See Diplomatic and Consular Reports, Trade of Persian Gulf for the year 1900. Foreign Office. H.M. Stationery Office.

CHAPTER XXXV

The British Consul-General in Isfahan--Russia's influence in Southern Persia--H.R.H. Zil-es-Sultan--Departure for Yezd--Pigeon towers--A Persian telegraph line--Ghiavaz--Characteristics of the scenery--A village in ruins--Types--Saigsi--Mud dunes--Mirage--A reservoir--Kanats--Scarcity of fodder.

I only halted a few days in Isfahan, during which time I was the guest of Mr. Preece, the British Consul-General. Mr. Preece's hospitality and popularity are proverbial among Europeans and natives all over Persia. A step in the right direction was taken by the British Government in making a Consulate-General in Isfahan, and another good step was that of furnishing the Consulate with a guard of mounted Indian soldiers. Prestige and outward show go much together in Persia, and no matter to what extent one's private feelings may rebel at the idea, we must make a display, I suppose.


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