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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Was Meftah es Sultaneh Davoud


[Illustration:

Persian Cossacks (Teheran) Drilled by Russian Officers.]

The Persian Government gives each Legation a guard of soldiers. The British Legation is guarded by infantry soldiers--an untidy, ragged, undisciplined lot, with cylindrical hats worn at all angles on the side of the head, and with uniforms so dirty and torn that it is difficult to discern what they should be like. Nearly all other Legations are provided with soldiers of the (Persian) Cossack regiment, who are infinitely better drilled and clothed than the infantry regiments. They are quite military in appearance. It was believed that these Cossacks, being drilled by Russian military instructors, would not be acceptable at the British Legation, hence the guard of infantry soldiers.

The Russian Legation has two additional Russian cavalry soldiers.

The country residences of all the Legations are quite comfortable, pretty and unpretentious, with the usual complement of furniture of folding pattern, so convenient but so inartistic, and a superabundance of cane chairs. Really good furniture being very expensive in Teheran, a good deal of the upholstery of the Teheran Legations is conveyed to the country residences for the summer months. Perhaps nothing is more amusing to watch than one of these removals to or from the country. Chairs, tables, sofas, and most private effects are tied to pack-saddles on ponies, mules or donkeys,

with bundles of mattrasses, blankets, and linen piled anyhow upon them, while the more brittle articles of the household are all amassed into a high pyramid on a gigantic tray and balanced on a man's head. Rows of these equilibrists, with the most precious glass and crockery of the homestead, can be noticed toddling along on the Golahek road, dodging carriages and cavaliers in a most surprising manner. They are said never to break even the smallest and most fragile articles, but such is certainly not the case with the heavily laden donkeys and mules, which often collide or collapse altogether, with most disastrous results to the heavier pieces of furniture.

On my arrival in Teheran I received a most charming invitation to go and stay at the British Legation, but partly owing to the fact that I wished to remain in town and so be more in touch with the natives themselves, partly because I wished to be unbiassed in any opinion that I might form, I decided not to accept anybody's hospitality while in Teheran. This I am very glad I did, for I feel I can now express an opinion which, whether right or wrong, is my own, and has not been in any way influenced by any one.

CHAPTER XI

Visits to high Persian officials--Meftah-es-Sultaneh--Persian education--A college for orphans--Uncomfortable etiquette--The Foreign Office--H.E. Mushir-ed-Doulet, Minister of Foreign Affairs--Persian interest in the Chinese War of 1900--Reform necessary.

Perhaps the description of one or two visits to high Persian officials may interest the reader.

Through the kindness of the Persian Legation in London I had received letters of introduction which I forwarded to their addresses on my arrival in Teheran. The first to answer, a few hours after I had reached Teheran, was Meftah-es-Sultaneh (Davoud), the highest person in the Foreign Office after the Minister, who in a most polite letter begged me to go to tea with him at once. He had just come to town from Tejerish, but would leave again the same evening.


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