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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

In charge of the Nushki Sistan road


"God is acquainted with what is in the minds of men. Beyond doubt and without hesitation it is rightly and justly stated that Military Doctor Mirza Abbas Ali Khan has during the period of his stay in Sistan displayed his personal tact and natural ability. He has treated with great civility and politeness any person who has applied to him for medical attendance and treatment of diseases, and has in no case whatever demanded payment or anything from anybody. He has never hesitated to give gratuitous medical aid with medicines or personal attendance, and all the natives from the highest to the lowest are well satisfied and under great obligation to him. It is hoped that the trouble taken and the pecuniary loss suffered by him will be appreciated by his Government. I have personally greatly benefited by his treatment of my personal diseases and ailments and I trust that he will receive great favour from his Government."

Naturally the medicines are supplied to him by the Government, but it would be becoming if the Government saw its way to reward men of this type for the "soul" which they put into their work, for this it is after all that wins the esteem of the natives more than the actual cost of the medicines. A few grains of quinine, or a few ounces of castor oil have often been the means of obtaining information and advantages for the British Government, which, if properly

used, may be worth millions of pounds sterling.

It is to these pioneers that the nation should be grateful, to these people who build sound foundations on which the Empire can spread without fear of collapsing we are indebted far more than to the folks who stop at home and reap with little trouble the credit of the work which has been done by others.

Abbas Ali has gained a most intimate knowledge of the country and people, which gives him enormous influence, and he has been the means of smoothing the way to a considerable extent for the new trade route to Quetta. Major Chevenix Trench, Consul at Meshed, fully testifies to this, and speaks very highly of Abbas Ali's political work, and so does Captain Webb-Ware, in charge of the Nushki-Sistan road, who writes that in his belief the growth of British influence in Sistan and Birjand is due in no small degree to the tact, discretion, and conscientious discharge of duties of Abbas Ali.

Abbas Ali was ordered again to Persia in August, 1899, and has remained there since, stationed at Birjand.

The Russians have established a rival agent to look after their own interests, in the person of Veziroff Gazumbek, a Perso-Russian subject and a Mussulman. This man very politely called upon me in great state, wearing a decoration of the third class which had just been bestowed upon him by the Shah, and accompanied by four Cossacks who were on their way to the Russian Consulate at Sistan to relieve the escort there. He and Abbas Ali were socially and outwardly on excellent terms, but great rivalry necessarily existed in their work.

The Russian had gained a temporary advantage in the eyes of the natives by the honour conferred upon him by the Shah, and it was a pity that an exception to the general rule could not be made and a similar or higher honour obtained for Abbas Ali, whose work certainly deserves--one would think--some consideration. Matters of that sort, although of absolutely no significance in themselves, are of great importance in a country like Persia, where appearances cannot altogether be neglected.


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