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CHAPTER I.

PERSIA PAST AND PRESENT.

16 And see

—the Sun himself !-on wings
Of glory up the East he springs
Angel of light!

Where are the days, thou wondrous sphere,
When IRAN, like a sun-flower turned
To meet that eye where'er it burned ?

When, from the banks of BENDEEMEER
To the nut-groves of Samarcand
Thy temples flam’d o'er all the land ?
Where are they? ask the shades of them

Who, on CADESSIA's bloody plains,
Saw fierce invaders pluck the gem
From Iran's broken diadem." --Lalla Rookh.

THE wars of Persia with Greece, the lives of Oriental princes, and tales and illustrations of the manners of the East a long time ago, are a part of the early studies of our boyhood, and a never failing source of amusement to an enlightened mind, through all the periods of life down to old age.

Even the loftiest strains of poetry in our holy prophetical books — the noblest outpourings of Hebrew song are about the people who lived on the Tigris and the Euphrates more than two thousand years ago.

And even now, it is found after centuries for research and examination, and after the wonderful discoveries of Botta, Layard, Rawlinson and others, that the Hebrew Scriptures are the best guide to the East - that the minutest allusions in the Bible to the habits of the people of Bible lands, and that even the details of their wars and religions, and customs, given by the father of profane history, are so accurately told that the history of the inhabitants of those countries in the present day, written from actual observation, varies in but few things from that of Herodotus.

In our day, the long sleep of Oriental literature is broken -never again to be resumed. Its untombed records have assumed a place, in historic value, above the classic glory of Greece and Rome. The scholar, the antiquarian, and the interpreter of ancient records, have vast treasures of priceless worth now opened to them that were hidden for ages. The fall of Constantinople somewhat retarded Oriental studies by the consequent revival of Greek learning, which was followed by the invention of printing in the West.

The tendency of the attention given to Greek literature, and of printing, was to lay aside the learning of the East as fabulous, or valueless. But, for the last three centuries, European travelers and scholars have been diligent in those researches that have so happily resulted in our present attainments.

As we are desirous of becoming acquainted with some of the most remarkable personages, and some of the most extraordinary events of ancient Persia, a brief reference to its legendary history seems necessary to enable us to form something like a correct opinion concerning its institutions. All men of letters have admired her poets, Jami, Hafiz, Saudi and Firdusi; but

ALEXANDER

IN PERSIA.

27

Persia has been adınired for something more than her poets. Alexander the Great intensely coveted her dominions, not so much because she was the favorite country of the imagination, as because she was wealthy and powerful. The legends of the golden egg, and like fancies, do not solve the great question, why Alexander marched his armies across her territory. Was it then to revenge Greece for Persian invasions before his day? or was it merely to imitate the exploits of Achilles, whom he greatly admired, and whose history he diligently studied ? No. I believe his was a nobler ambition-an ambition as justifiable as that which inspired Napoleon, when he invaded Egypt and dreamed of an Oriental empire-an ambition in every way as justifiable as that of the English in the conquest of India, or of China— the very same in substance that now moves all the great powers of Europe, and the United States, to seek an extension of their influence over the populous regions of the East, namely: to carry European, that is, as it was called in Alexander's day, Greek enterprise into Asia, and thereby awaken its decaying kingdoms, and stimulate them to trade and civilization. No doubt he wished, at the same time that he was thus arousing them, to make them develop the riches of their country, and doubtless, also, he was quite willing, as a conqueror, to take the lion's share, but in as honorable a way as is practiced in our day. That such views were entertained by him is proven from his enlarged ideas of trade, and his building of cities and highways of travel and commerce.

These remarks are made, not for the purpose of indorsing the wars of Alexander the Great, but because

it seems to me, justice has rarely been done to his genius and policy. Many cities were founded by him and the clearness of his foresight and the soundness of his judgment are seen in their continuance to this day as great seats of trade. And so great is the popularity of his name even in our times that many of the tribes of the East, claim to be his descendants.

He was a Pagan, and did many very wicked things, but in his desire to possess Persia, and to advance into India from the west, he has been often imitated, and has his suc. cessors in our day among several Christian crowns. Persia was the scene of some of his greatest exploits. Chinghis-Khan and Timur-lane also led their plundering hosts over the same mountains and plains. Roman Emperors and generals and Moslem Kaliphs were in their day familiar with its cities and fortresses and battle-plains. As in Spain, first civilized by the Phenicians and long possessed by the Moors, we find Pagan, Roman and Eastern customs long obsolete elsewhere turning up at every step in the cabinet and in the campaign, in the palace and in the house, field and church; so it is in Persia. It is in Persia as much--perhaps more than in any other land that we find in our day ancient customs preserved with the greatest tenacityespecially such as are referred to in the Bible. The mountain-ranges and rivers and physical features of Persia are now as they were when Alexander conquered her and Xenophon wrote his classic chapters. No canals have been dug, no railroads built, and the posts are inferior to those of Cyrus. And the manners of the people are less changed than in any other oriental nation. The throne of the Shah is shorn indeed of

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