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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

There are missionaries in Teheran


The

Britisher in Persia, with few exceptions, is a charming person, simple and unaffected, and ready to be of service if he can. He is not aggressive, and, in fact, surprisingly suave.

This abnormal feature in the British character is partly due to the climate, hot but very healthy, and to the exile to which the Briton has to reconcile himself for years to come. Indeed, Persia is an exile, a painful one for a bachelor, particularly. Woman's society, which at all times helps to make life sweet and pleasant, is absolutely lacking in Persia. European women are scarce and mostly married or about to get married. The native women are kept in strict seclusion. One never sees a native woman except heavily veiled under her _chudder_, much less can a European talk to her. The laws of Persia are so severe that anything in the shape of a flirtation with a Persian lady may cost the life of Juliet or Romeo, or both, and if life is spared, blackmail is ever after levied by the police or by the girl's parents or by servants.

In Teheran all good citizens must be indoors by nine o'clock at night, and any one found prowling in the streets after that hour has to deal with the police. In the European quarter this rule is overlooked in the case of foreigners, but in the native city even Europeans found peacefully walking about later than that hour are taken into custody and conveyed before the magistrate, who satisfies himself as to

the man's identity and has him duly escorted home.

There are no permanent amusements of any kind in Teheran. An occasional concert or a dance, but no theatres, no music-halls. There is a comfortable Club, where people meet and drink and play cards, but that is all.

Social sets, of course, exist in the Teheran foreign community. There are "The Telegraph" set, "the Bank," "the Legations." There is an uncommon deal of social etiquette, and people are most particular regarding calls, dress, and the number of cards left at each door. It looks somewhat incongruous to see men in their black frock-coats and silk tall hats, prowling about the streets, with mud up to their knees if wet, or blinded with dust if dry, among strings of camels, mules, or donkeys. But that is the fashion, and people have to abide by it.

There are missionaries in Teheran, American and English, but fortunately they are not permitted to make converts. The English, Russian and Belgian communities are the most numerous, then the French, the Dutch, the Austrian, the Italian, the American.

Taking things all round, the Europeans seem reconciled to their position in Teheran--a life devoid of any very great excitement, and partaking rather of the nature of vegetation, yet with a certain charm in it--they say--when once people get accustomed to it. But one has to get accustomed to it first.

The usual servant question is a very serious one in Teheran, and is one of the chief troubles that Europeans have to contend with. There are Armenian and Persian servants, and there is little to choose between the two. Servants accustomed to European ways are usually a bad lot, and most unreliable; but in all fairness it must be admitted that, to a great extent, these servants have been utterly spoilt by Europeans themselves, who did not know how to deal with them in a suitable manner. I repeatedly noticed in Teheran and other parts of Persia that people who really understood the Persian character, and treated subordinates with consideration, had most excellent servants--to my mind, the most intelligent and hard-working in the world--and spoke very highly of them.


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