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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

The Legation house is handsomely furnished


Nor

is this faint praise. Sir Arthur Hardinge has done more in a few months to save British prestige and to safeguard British interests in Persia than the public know, and this he has done merely by his own personal genius and charm, rather than by instructions or help from the home Government.

While in Teheran I had much opportunity of meeting a great many high Persian officials, and all were unanimous in singing the praises of our new Minister. Many of them seemed very bitter against some of his predecessors, but whether the fault was in the predecessors themselves or in the home Government, it is not for me to say. Anyhow, bygones are bygones, and we must make the best of our present opportunities. The staff at our Legation and Consulate is also first-class.

It is to be hoped, now that the South African war is over, that the Government will be able to devote more attention to the Persian Question, a far more serious matter than we imagine; and as extreme ignorance prevails in this country about Persia--even in circles where it should not exist--it would be well, when we have such excellent men as Sir Arthur Hardinge at the helm, in whose intelligence we may confidently and absolutely trust, to give him a little more assistance and freedom of action, so as to allow him a chance of safeguarding our interests properly, and possibly of preventing further disasters.

It is not easy

for the uninitiated to realise the value of certain concessions obtained for the British by Sir Arthur Hardinge, such as, for instance, the new land telegraph line _via_ Kerman Beluchistan to India. Of the petroleum concessions, of which one hears a great deal of late, I would prefer not to speak.

The Legation grounds in Teheran itself are extensive and beautiful, with a great many fine trees and shady, cool avenues. The Legation house is handsomely furnished, and dotted all over the gardens are the various other buildings for secretaries, attaches, and interpreters. All the structures are of European architecture--simple, but solid. In summer, however, all the Legations shift their quarters to what is called in Teheran "_la campagne de_ Golahek, de Tejerish, de Zargandeh,"--by which gracefully misleading and misapplied terms are indicated the suburban residences of the Legations, at the foot of the arid, barren, hot, dusty Shamran range of mountains.

Golahek, where the British Legation is to be found, does actually boast of a few green trees in the Legation grounds; and a cluster or two of nominally "green" vegetation--really whitish brown--can be seen at Zargandeh, where the Russian and Belgian Legations are side by side, and Tejerish, where the Persian Foreign Office and many Persian officials have their summer residences.

The drive from Teheran to Golahek--seven miles--is dusty beyond words. There are wretched-looking trees here and there along the road, so dried and white with dust as to excite compassion. Half-way to Golahek the monotony of the journey is broken by a sudden halt at a khafe-khana, into which the coachman rushes, leaving the horses to take care of themselves, while he sips refreshing glasses of tea. When it suits his convenience he returns to splash buckets of water between the horses' legs and under their tails. This, he told me, in all seriousness, was to prevent sunstroke (really, the Persian can be humorous without knowing it), and was a preventive imported with civilised ways from Europe! The ears and manes of the animals are then pulled violently, after which the horses are considered able to proceed.


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