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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

In his dealings with Persians particularly


And

so we could go on and on; in fact, with the Persians, one might almost go as far as saying that, with the exception of eating and drinking and a few other matters, they do most things in a contrary way to ours. They remove their shoes, when we would remove our hats; they shave their heads and let the beard grow; they sleep in the day and sit up the greater portion of the night; they make windows in the roof instead of in the walls; they inoculate smallpox instead of vaccinating to prevent it; they travel by night instead of by day.

It would be absurd to believe that we can alter in a day the customs, religions, and manners of millions of natives, and it seems almost incomprehensible that in such long colonial experience as ours we have not yet been able to grasp so simple a fact. But here, again, comes in my contention that our failing is absolute lack of observation; unless it be indeed our conceited notion that other people must rise up to our standard. Anyhow, we have lost and are losing heavily by it.

We see the Germans and Austrians swamping our own Colonies with goods wherewith our bazaars in India are overflowing; whereas English articles--if cottons are excepted--are seldom to be seen in the bazaars. This seems indeed a curious state of affairs. Nor do we need to go to India. England itself is overflowing with foreign-made goods. Now, why should it not be possible--and certainly more profitable--to meet

the wishes of natives of Eastern countries and give them what they want?

There is another matter which greatly hampers the British manufacturer, in his dealings with Persians particularly. It is well to recollect that the blunt way we have of transacting business does not always answer with Orientals. Impatience, too, of which we are ever brimful, is a bad quality to possess in dealings with Persians. Times have gone by when England had practically the monopoly of the trade of the East and could lay down the law to the buyers. The influx of Europeans and the extension of trade to the most remote corners of the globe have increased to such an extent during the last few years--and with these competition--that the exporter can no longer use the slack, easy ways of half-a-century ago, when commercial supremacy was in our hands, and must look out for himself.

A knowledge of the language, with a conciliatory, courteous manner, a good stock of patience and a fair capacity for sherbet, hot tea and coffee, will, in Persia, carry a trader much further in his dealings than the so-called "smarter ways" appreciated in England or America; and another point to be remembered in countries where the natives are unbusiness-like, as they are in Persia, is that personal influence and trust--which the natives can never dissociate from the bargain in hand--go a very long way towards successful trading in Iran.

This is, to my mind, one of the principal reasons of Russian commercial successes in Northern Persia. We will not refer here to the ridiculous idea, so prevalent in England, that Russia was never and never will be a manufacturing country. Russia is very fast developing her young industries, which are pushed to the utmost by her Government, and what is more, the work is done in a remarkably practical way, by people who possess a thorough knowledge of what they are doing. The natives and the geographical features of the country have been carefully studied, and the Russian trading scheme is carried firmly and steadily on an unshakable base. We sit and express astonishment at Russian successes in Persia; the people at home can hardly be made to realise them, and I have heard people even discredit them; but this is only the beginning and nothing to what we shall see later on unless we proceed to work on similar sensible lines. It certainly arouses admiration to see what the Russians can do and how well they can do it with ridiculously small capital, when we waste, absolutely waste, immense sums and accomplish nothing, or even the reverse of what we intend to accomplish. But there again is the difference between the observant and the unobservant man.


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