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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

The Governorship of distant Kerman was given him


"When

I want anything well done," said the Governor to me, "I do it myself. I want the welfare of my people and am only glad when I can see with my own eyes that they get it. I inspect my soldiers, I see them drilled before me; I go to the bazaar to talk to the people, and any one can come to talk to me. Nobody need be afraid of coming to me; I am ever ready to listen to all."

Although this innovation in the system of impressing the crowds created somewhat of a sensation at first, the Governor soon managed to impress the people with his own personality, and he is now extraordinarily popular among all classes, except the semi-official, who cannot carry on their usual extortions with impunity.

He asked me to go and inspect his troops, whom he had drilled before his own eyes every morning, and undoubtedly, of all the soldiers I had seen in Persia, they were the only ones--barring the Cossack regiments drilled by Russians--that had a real military appearance and were trained according to a method. They were better dressed, better fed, and more disciplined even than the soldiers of Teheran.

The teaching of music to recruits for the band was quite interesting. The musical notes were written on a black-board and the young fellows were made to sing them out in a chorus until they had learnt the whole melody by heart. The boys had most musical voices and quite good musical ears, while their

powers of retention of what they were taught were quite extraordinary, when it was considered that these fellows were recruited from the lowest and most ignorant classes.

The garrison of Kerman was armed with Vrandel rifles, an old, discarded European pattern, but quite serviceable. Anyhow, all the men possessed rifles of one and the same pattern, which was an advantage not noticeable in the Teheran troops, for instance. For Persians, they went through their drill in an accurate and business-like manner, mostly to the sound of three drums, and also with a capital band playing European brass instruments.

The Governor took special delight in showing me several tents which he had had specially manufactured for his approaching campaign, in conjunction with British troops from British Beluchistan, against marauding Beluch tribes who had been very troublesome for some time, and who, being so close to the frontier, were able to evade alike Persian, Beluch, and British law, until a joint movement against them was made from west and east. H. E. Ala-el-Mulk told me that he intended to command the expedition himself.

Ala-el-Mulk, a man extraordinarily courteous and simple in manner, was former Persian Ambassador in Constantinople. Through no fault of his own, owing to certain customs prevalent at the Sultan's court, the Shah during his visit to Constantinople was unreasonably displeased, and the Ambassador was recalled. The Governorship of distant Kerman was given him, but a man like Ala-el-Mulk, one of the ablest men in Persia, would be more useful in a higher position nearer the capital, if not in the capital itself. Kerman is a very out-of-the-way place, and of no very great importance just yet, although, if Persia develops as she should, it will not be many years from the present time before Kerman becomes a place of great importance to England.


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