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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

They illegally issued bank notes which


It

is, to an Englishman, quite an eye-opener to watch how far the Russians will go for the absolute benefit of their own trade, and this conduct pursued openly and blamelessly can only be admired by any fair-minded person. It is only a pity that we are not yet wide awake enough to do the same.

The Russian Bank has branches in the principal cities of Northern Persia, her business being so far merely confined to the North.

FOOTNOTES:

[2] See Institute of Bankers.

CHAPTER XV

Illegitimate Bank-notes--Hampering the Bank's work--The grand fiasco of the Tobacco Corporation--Magnificent behaviour of the natives--The Mullahs and tobacco--The nation gives up smoking--Suppression of the monopoly--Compensation--Want of tact--Important European commercial houses and their work--Russian and British trade--Trade routes--The new Persian Customs--What they are represented to be and what they are--Duties--The employment of foreigners in Persia--The Maclean incident.

The work of the Imperial Bank has at various times been hampered by speculators who tried to make money by misleading the public. Their speculations were always based on the prestige of the bank. For instance, take the Bushire Company and the Fars

Trading Company, Limited, companies started by native merchants. They illegally issued bank-notes which, strangely enough, owing to the security found in the Imperial bank-notes, found no difficulty in circulating at a small discount, especially in Shiraz.

Naturally, the Imperial Bank, having in its conventions with the Persian Government the exclusive right to issue bank-notes payable at sight, protested against this infringement of rights, but for a long time got little redress, and some of the fraudulent bank-notes are to this day circulating in Southern Persia.

Sooner or later this was bound to interfere with the bank, as the natives, unaccustomed to bank-notes, confused the ones with the others. Moreover, the enemies of the bank took advantage of this confusion to instigate the people against the Imperial Bank, making them believe that the word "Imperial" on the bank-notes meant that the issuing of bank-notes was only a new scheme of the Government to supply people with worthless paper instead of a currency of sound silver cash. In the southern provinces this stupid belief spread very rapidly, and was necessarily accentuated by the issue of the illegal bank-notes of local private concerns, which, although bearing foreign names, were merely Persian undertakings.

Necessarily, the many foreign speculations to which we have already referred, cannot be said to have strengthened confidence in anything of European importation; but the grand successive abortions of the Belgian and Russian factories--which were to make gas, sugar, glass, matches, etc.--are hardly to be compared in their disastrous results to the magnificent English fiasco of the Tobacco Corporation, which not only came to grief itself, but nearly caused a revolution in the country. It is well-known how a concession was obtained by British capitalists in 1890 to establish a tobacco monopoly in Persia, which involved the usual payment of a large sum to the Shah, and presents to high officials.

The company made a start on a very grand scale in February, 1891, having the whole monopoly of purchase and sale of tobacco all over Persia. No sooner had it begun its work than a commission of injured native merchants presented a petition to the Shah to protest against it. A decree was, however, published establishing the monopoly of the corporation all over Persia, and upon this the discontent and signs of rebellion began.


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