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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Which it principally expounded


Naturally

the Mullahs look askance upon these Government schools, in which foreign methods are adopted. The Alliance Francaise of Paris, which has a committee in Teheran, has opened a French school under the direction of Mr. Virioz, a certificated professor. The school has nearly 100 pupils, all natives. This is a primary school, of which the studies are in French, but a Mullah has been added to the staff to teach the Koran and religious subjects. In Hamadan, a large Jewish centre, the Alliance Israelite has opened important schools which have largely drained the American Presbyterian schools of their Jewish pupils. Other secular schools, it appears, are to be opened in which foreign education is to be imparted, and no doubt this is a first and most excellent step of Persia towards the improvement, if not the actual reform, of the old country.

Not that the religious education received from the priests was without its good points. The love for literature and poetry, which it principally expounded, developed in the people the more agreeable qualities which have made the Persian probably the most polite man on this earth. The clerical education, indeed, worked first upon the heart, then upon the brain; it taught reverence for one's parents, love for one's neighbours, and obedience to one's superiors; it expounded soft, charitable ways in preference to aggression or selfishness--not the right instead of the duty--as is frequently the case in secular schools.

style="text-align: justify;">But softness, consideration, poetry, and charity are things of the past; they can only be indulged in by barbarians; in civilisation, unluckily, there is very little use for them except for advertisement sake. So the Persians were wise to resort to our style of education, which may yet be the means of saving their country. They will lose their courteousness--they are fast beginning to do that already--their filial love, their charity, and all the other good qualities they may possess; only when these are gone will they rank in civilisation quite as high as any European nation!

The wealthier people send their sons to be educated abroad in European capitals, and one cannot help being struck by the wonderful ease with which these fellows master not only languages, but science and extremely complex subjects. Whether this is due to the brain of young Persians being fresher owing to its not having been overtaxed for generations--and therefore the impressions are clearly received and firmly recorded, or whether the mode of life is apt to develop the brain more than any other part of their anatomy is difficult to say, but the quickness and lucidity of the average young Persian brain is certainly astounding when compared to that of European brains of the same ages.

The Persian, too, has a most practical way of looking at things,--when he does take the trouble to do so--not sticking to one point of view but observing his subject from all round, as it were, with a good deal of philosophical humour that is of great help to him in all he undertakes; and it is curious to see how fast and thoroughly the younger Persians of better families can adapt themselves to European ways of thought and manner without the least embarrassment or concern. In this, I think, they surpass any other Asiatic nation, the small community of the Parsees of India alone excepted.

And here a word or two on the education of Englishmen intending to make a living abroad, especially in Asia, and particularly in Persia, will not, I hope, be out of place. With the fast-growing intercourse between East and West, sufficient stress cannot be laid upon the fact that sound commercial education on up-to-date principles is chiefly successful in countries undergoing the processes of development, and that, above all, the careful study of foreign languages--the more the better--should occupy the attention of the many students in our country who are to live in Asia. There is a great deal too much time absolutely wasted in English schools over Latin and Greek, not to mention the exaggerated importance given to games like cricket, football, tennis, which, if you like, are all very well to develop the arms and legs, but seem to have quite the reverse effect upon the brain.


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