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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

The Yezd people are very forward in educational matters


chief imports are spices, cotton goods, yarn, prints, copper sheeting, tin slabs, Indian tea, broadcloth, jewellery, arms, cutlery, watches, earthenware, glass and enamel wares, iron, loaf-sugar, powdered sugar, etc.

The Government of Yezd, as of other cities of Persia, is purely despotic, limited only by the power and influence of the Mahommedan priests, the Mullahs, and by the dread of private vengeance or an occasional insurrection. It is true that the actions of Hakims and Governors and their deputies are liable to revision from the Teheran authorities, but this does not prevent exactions and extortions being carried on quite openly and on a large scale.

The present Governor, Salal-ud-dauleh--"Glory of the state,"--eldest son of Zil-es-Sultan, is an intelligent and well-to-do young man, sensibly educated, who tries his best to be fair to everybody; but it is very difficult for him to run alone against the strong tide of corruption which swamps everything in Persia. He is not in good health, and spends much of his time hunting wild game at his country place in the hills near Yezd. His town residence is a kind of citadel--not particularly impressive, nor clean--inside the city wall. The Naib-ul-Kukumat was the Deputy-Governor at the time of my visit. He seemed quite an affable and intelligent man.

Near the Palace in the heart of the city are the covered bazaars, old and new,

and well stocked with goods, but they are in character so exactly like those of Teheran and Isfahan, already described in previous chapters, that a repetition is quite unnecessary. The streets are irregularly planned, and the older ones are very dark and dingy, but the newer arcades are lofty and handsome. The merchants seem--for Persia--quite active and business-like.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the population of Yezd is said to have been one hundred thousand souls, and to have dwindled down to less than thirty thousand in 1868-1870 during the terrific famine which took place at that time. Whether this is correct or not, it is difficult to ascertain, but to-day the city is on the increase again, and the population, as already stated, is certainly not less than sixty thousand. There are numerous Mahommedan _hammams_ (baths)--some 65 or more--in Yezd, but Europeans are not allowed to enter them.

The Yezd people are very forward in educational matters. I inspected some of the schools and colleges, and was much impressed by the matter-of-fact, sensible way in which some of the more modern institutions were conducted. They would indeed put to shame a great many of our schools in England, and as for the talent of children, as compared with English children of the same age, one had better say nothing at all. With no exaggeration, children aged six analysed and reasoned out problems placed before them in a way that would in this country baffle men of six times that age. The quickness of the Persian child's brain is well-nigh astounding, and as for their goodness and diligence, there is only one word that fits them: they are simply "angelic." Their intense reverence for the teachers, their eagerness really to learn, and their quiet, attentive behaviour were indeed worthy of admiration. But it must be well understood that these angelic traits are confined to the school-days only. When they leave school the "angelic" wears off very soon, and the boys, unluckily, drift into the old and demoralized ways with which Persia is reeking.

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