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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

It is not out of place to recall the Maclean incident


The

duties levied in Persia are determined by the treaty of Turkmantchai with Russia in 1828, by which a uniform and reciprocal five per cent. for import and export was agreed to, a special convention, nevertheless, applying to Turkey, which fixed a reciprocal 12 per cent. export and 6 per cent. import duty, and 75 per cent. on tobacco and salt. An attempt was made to negotiate a new commercial treaty with Russia last year, but unfortunately, matters did not go as was expected by M. Naus, who was very keen on the subject. A high Russian official was despatched to Teheran who caused a good deal of trouble, and eventually the whole matter fell through.

Regarding the employment of foreigners by the Persian Government, it is not out of place to recall the Maclean incident.

An agreement had been entered into with Mr. Maclean, a British subject, and a former employee of the Imperial Bank, to take charge of the Mint, in order to bring it up to date and work it on more business-like principles than at present. This led to a demand from the Russians that a similarly high office in the Shah's Government should be given to a Russian, so that this appointment might not be taken as a slight against Russia; or, if this were not possible, that two or three Russians might be employed instead in minor capacities in the new Customs. The Persian Government would not agree to this, but owing to the pressure that had been brought to

bear by the Russians they felt obliged to dismiss Mr. Maclean. The British minister necessarily then stood up for British rights, and a great scandal was made of the whole affair, and as an agreement for three years had been signed, the Persian Government had to pay the salary in full for that period, although they had only availed themselves of Mr. Maclean's services for a few months.

It is to be regretted that the Sadrazam acted in so reckless a manner, for the whole matter might have been settled quietly without the slightest disturbance and unpleasantness. Anyhow, this led to a decree being passed (in 1901) that in future _no British subject, no Russian, and no Turk_ will be accepted in Persian employ. This includes the army, with the exception of the special Cossack regiment which had previously been formed under Russian instructors. It can safely be said that there is not a single Russian in any civil appointment in Persia, no more than there is any Britisher; but, in the Customs service particularly, M. Naus being a Belgian, nearly all the employees are Belgian, as I have said, with only one or two French lower subordinates.

[Illustration: The First Position in Persian Wrestling.]

[Illustration: Palawans, or Strong Men giving a Display of Feats of Strength.]

The Customs service is carried on with great fairness to all alike, and the mischievous stories of Russian preference and of the violation of rules in favour of Russian goods are too ridiculous to be taken into consideration. One fact is certain, that any one who takes the trouble to ascertain facts finds them very different from what they are represented to be by hasty and over-excited writers.

CHAPTER XVI

Russia on the brain--The apprehended invasion of India--Absolute nonsense--Russia's tariff--In the House of Commons--A friendly understanding advisable--German competition--The peace of the world--Russia's firm policy of bold advance--An outlet in the Persian Gulf--The policy of drift--Sound knowledge of foreign countries needed--Mutual advantages of a Russian and British agreement--Civilisation--Persia's integrity.


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