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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Both in North and Southern Persia


As late as 1872 there were only four Legations in Teheran: the English, French, Russian and Turkish; but since then the Governments of Austria, Belgium, Holland, and the United States have established Legations in the Persian capital. By the Persians themselves only four are considered of first-class importance, viz.: the British, Russian, Turkish and Belgian Legations, as being more closely allied with the interests of the country. The Austrian Legation comes next to these in importance, then the German.

American interests are so far almost a negligible quantity in Persia, but Germany is attempting to force her trade into Persia. In future, if she can realise her railway schemes in Asia Minor, Germany will be a very serious stumbling-block to England's and Russia's supremacy, both in North and Southern Persia. Germany's representative in Teheran is a man of considerable skill and untiring energy. No doubt that when the opportune time comes and Germany is ready to advance commercially in the Persian market, England in particular will be the chief sufferer, as the British manufacturer has already experienced great difficulty in contending with the cheap German goods. Even in India, where transport is comparatively easy, German goods swamp the bazaars in preference to English goods. Much more will this be the case in Persia when the railway comes to the Persian boundary.

The German Minister is certainly sparing

no efforts to foster German interests in Persia, and the enterprising Emperor William has shown every possible attention to the Shah on his visit to Berlin, in order that the racial antipathy, which for some reason or other Persians entertain towards Germans, may with all due speed be wiped out.

To us the British Legation is more interesting at present. We may well be proud of our present Minister, Sir Arthur Hardinge, a man of whose like we have few in our diplomatic service. I do not think that a man more fit for Persia than Sir Arthur could be found anywhere in the British Empire. He possesses quite extraordinary talent, with a quick working brain, a marvellous aptitude for languages--in a few months' residence in Persia he had mastered the Persian language, and is able to converse in it fluently--and is endowed with a gift which few Britishers possess, refined tact and a certain amount of thoughtful consideration for other people's feelings.

Nor is this all. Sir Arthur seems to understand Orientals thoroughly, and Persians in particular. He is extremely dignified in his demeanour towards the native officials, yet he is most affable and cheery, with a very taking, charming manner. That goes a much longer way in Persia than the other unfortunate manner by which many of our officials think to show dignity--sheer stiffness, rudeness, bluntness, clumsiness--which offends, offends bitterly, instead of impressing.

A fluent and most graceful speaker, with a strong touch of Oriental flowery forms of speech in his compliments to officials, with an eye that accurately gauges situations--usually in Persia very difficult ones--a man full of resource and absolutely devoid of ridiculous insular notions--a man who studies hard and works harder still--a man with unbounded energy and an enthusiast in his work--a man who knows his subject well, although he has been such a short time in Teheran--this is our British Minister at the Shah's Court.


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