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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

A considerable number of Persians


Persian, it must be well understood, does not hide his accumulated treasure from avaricious reasons; on the contrary, his inclinations are rather toward extravagance than otherwise, which extravagance he can only satisfy under a mask of endless lies and subterfuges. No honest ways of employing his wealth in a business-like and safe manner are open to the rich Persian under the present public maladministration, nor have the foreign speculations in the country offered sufficient examples of success to induce natives to embark upon them again. Far from it; these enterprises have even made Persians more sceptical and close than before, and have certainly not shown foreign ways of transacting business at the best.

That is why, no other way being open to him, the Persian who does wish to get rid of his wealth, prefers to squander his money, both capital and income (the latter if he possesses land), in luxurious jewellery and carpets, and in unhealthy bribery and corruption, or in satisfying caprices which his voluptuous nature may suggest. The result? The Persian is driven to live mostly for his vanity and frivolity--two unbusiness-like qualities not tending to the promotion of commercial enterprise on a large scale, although it is true that in a small way his failings give rise and life to certain industries. For instance, even in remote, poor and small centres where food is scarce and the buildings humble, one invariably finds a goldsmith, filigree-workers

and embroidery makers, whereas the necessaries of life may be more difficult to obtain.

Of course Persia contains a comparatively small number of Persians of a more adventurous nature, men who have travelled abroad and have been bitten with the Western desire for speculation to increase their money with speed, if not always with safety; but even these men have mostly retired within their shells since the colossal _fiascos_ of the speculations started in Persia by foreign "company promoters." A considerable number of Persians, seduced by glowing prospectuses and misplaced faith in everything foreign, were dreadfully taken in by the novel experiments--everything novel attracts the Persian considerably--and readily unearthed solid gold and silver bars, that had lain for centuries in subterranean hiding-places, and now came out to be converted into shares in the various concerns, hardly worth the paper on which they were printed, but promising--according to the prospectus--to bring the happy possessors fabulous incomes.

We have seen how the Sugar Refinery, the Glass Factory, the "Gas" Company--a more appropriate name could not have been given--and the ill-fated Mining Company have created well-founded suspicion of foreign ways of increasing one's capital, nor can we with any fairness blame the Persians for returning to their old method of slow accumulation. True enough, a fortune, if discovered, has a fair possibility of being seized in the lump by a greedy official, but that is only a possibility; whereas, when invested in some foreign speculations the loss becomes a dead certainty! More even than the actual loss of the money, the Persians who burned their fingers by meddling with foreign schemes felt the scorn of their friends, of whom they had become the laughing stock.

There is no doubt that to-day the confidence of the natives towards foreigners has been very much shaken, and excepting a few men whom they well know, trust and respect, they regard most Europeans as adventurers or thieves. The "treasuring" of capital instead of the investment of it is, therefore, one of the reasons why industries in Persia seldom assume large proportions. It is only the small merchant, content to make a humble profit, who can prosper in his own small way while more extensive concerns are distrusted.

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