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'Bewildered with this complication of real kings, and little kings, viziers, sitters upon chairs, and sitters upon stools, we held (says Hajji Baba) the finger of suspense upon the lip of astonishment, and pondered upon all we had heard, like men puzzling over a paradox. At length our visiters took their leave, and the ambassador promised that he would shortly fix a day for getting better acquainted with "Coompani," of whom he and his countrymen had heard so much, and about whose existence it became quite necessary that Persia should, for the future, have clear and positive information. Instead of re-ascending their crazy coach, the kings (for so we ever after called them) walked away upon their own legs, and mixed unknown and unheeded in the common crowd of the street.
When they were well off we all sat mute, only occasionally saying, “Allah, Allah! there is but one Allah!" so wonderfully astonished were we. What? India! that great, that magnificent empire!—that scene of Persian conquest and Persian glory!-the land of elephants and precious stones! the seat of shawls and kincobs!—that paradise sung by poets, celebrated by historians, more ancient than Irân itself! -at whose boundaries the sun is permitted to rise, and around whose majestic mountains, some clad in eternal snows, others in eternal verdure, the stars and the moon are allowed to gambol and carouse! What! is it so fallen, so degraded as to be swayed by two obscure mortals, living in regions that know not the warmth of the sun? two swine-eating infidels, shaven, impure, walkers on foot, and who, by way of state, travel in dirty coaches filled with straw! This seemed to us a greater miracle in government than even that of Beg Jan, the plaiter of whips, who governed the Turcomans, and the countries of Samarcand and Bokhara, leading a life more like a beggar than a potentate.'-vol. i. pp. 265-268.
The Persian envoy was not doomed to be gratified by every thing which occurred in his intercourse with the British court. He is described by Hajji Baba as being astonished and displeased at finding that his first audience of the sovereign is likely, from some circumstance of the English monarch's convenience, to be deferred beyond the period he had contemplated This was a great subject of grief and anger, the more so, as all the Persian vehemence could not move the phlegm of the English ministry, and hardly that of the mehmandar, or interpreter.
The hour of audience being at length fixed, the envoy is informed that he is to proceed to the palace, there to be presented to the Shah of England, by his vizier for foreign affairs, and to deliver his credentials. The elchee exclaims bitterly against the common-place character of such a reception, as altogether unworthy of his own character and the dignity of the sovereign who occupies the most ancient throne in the world.
"When your ambassador," said Mirza Firouz, "reached the Imperial Gate of Tehran, was he received in the manner that I have
been here? No. The king's amou was sent to welcome his arrival before he even entered the city. And when he proceeded to his audience, the streets were lined with troops, salutes were fired, sugar was thrown under his horse's feet; drums, trumpets, and cymbals resounded throughout the city; the bazars were dressed; the populace were ordered to pay him every respect. He was clothed with robes of honour, and he was allowed to stand in the same room in which the king of kings himself reposed. And, by the beard of the Prophet, I swear that if I am not treated in the same manner, I will proceed as a private individual to the palace, I will ask to see the king, I will place my shah's letter into his hands, and, having said my khoda hafiz shuma, May God take you into his holy protection,' I will straightway leave the country, and return whence I came."
6.66 That may be very well to say, as far as you are concerned," said the mehmandar, "but my sovereign is somebody also, and is likely to be consulted on this question. Suppose he were not to agree to your visit?" We saw the storm was impending, and that the mehmandar's words might as well have remained at the bottom of his throat. The ambassador's face was thrown upside down; the hairs of his beard became distended; and he oozed at every pore. "In short, then," said the ambassador, his eyes flashing fire," am I an ambassador, or am I not?" "Is my king a king, or is he not?" said the mehmandar, to which, angry as he was, in his own language, he mumbled something to himself about "dam, or dammy," which word caught the Mirza's ear, and he, recollecting it to have been frequently used on board ship, mistook it as an epithet applied to himself, and his wrath then broke out something in the following words: "Dam,' do you say? Am I 'dam?' If I am dam,' then you are the father of dam. Why should I remain here to be called dam?' After all I am somebody in my own country. I will defile the grave of dam's' father, I will do whatever an ass can do to his mother, sister, wife, and all his ancestry. I am not come all this way to eat 'dam,' and to eat it from such hands." Upon which he flung out of the room, leaving the mehmandar to open the eyes of astonishment, and to eat the stripes of mortification.—vol. i, p. 238.
The mehmandar, with perfect composure, buttoned his coat, took his hat, and wished them all a good morning. The envoy, however, now becomes alarmed that, in his zeal for maintaining his dignity, he might have overacted his part, and thrown some serious impediment in the way of the proposed audience. At length, real impatience and anxiety getting the better of all airs of dignity, he sends Hajji to the mehmandar, with an orange in his hand, and a courteous invitation to dinner. At the appointed hour, accordingly, the interpreter appears, calm and undisturbed as usual, and is most kindly received by the Persian, and caressed, as a man who had acquired wisdom in the east, and knew the folly of being really angry on such occasions.
To this the mehmandar answered, "May your friendship never diminish. I have made known your wishes to the vizier for foreign affairs." "Well," said the ambassador, all of a sudden excited, "and what did he say?" "He said," returned the infidel, "that there would be no difficulty in giving you a public audience. We have plenty of troops, and plenty of coaches, abundance of fine clothes, and fine things, and you shall go before the king, accompanied in any manner you choose.' "Wonderful!" exclaimed the ambassador, "wonderful! I do not understand you English at all! You make no difficulties. You leave no room for negotiation." "Not upon trifles," returned the mehmandar. "Trifles? do you call an ambassador's reception a trifle?" said Mirza Firouz. "There is not a step made on such an occasion as this in Persia which is not duly measured. And do you call the dignity of sovereigns nothing?" "The nations of Europe were fools enough in times past," said the mehmandar, "to make matters of etiquette affairs of state, and they used to lose intrinsic advantages in pursuing these ideal ones; but they are become wiser; we look upon etiquette now as child's play. However, in consideration of your being Persians, and knowing no better, we do not hesitate in giving you as much of it as you please."
Upon this the ambassador stroked his beard, pulled up his whiskers, and sat for some time in deep thought. He felt himself lowered in the estimation of the Franks, whilst, at the same time, he was aware that he could not act otherwise than he had done. At length he exclaimed, "And so the English think that we are men from the woods, asses, beasts of burthen, and know nothing of what the world is about? it so, be it so. But this know, that a nation who can trace its ancestry to Jemsheed; who counts a Jenghiz Khan, a Tamerlane, a Nadir Shah, an Aga Mohamed Khan, ay, and a Fatteh Ali, amongst its kings, is not accustomed to child's play, and, moreover, is not at all inclined to take example from the kings of Frangistaun for any part of its conduct in matters relating to its own dignity."'—p. 245.
The audience finally proceeds as originally proposed, the acute tact of the Persian having discovered, that, to insist upon vanities willingly and indifferently conceded would be placing himself in the rank of a froward child, or a barbarian, ignorant of the points on which Europeans rest real consequence.
This entertaining passage touches a point in the chapter of human society which leads to some reflections. The time is not so very distant when the English court would have reasoned on such a subject, in a manner not unworthy of that of Ispahan. When Sir John Finnett, the author of Finetti Philoxenes, acted as master of ceremonies to Charles I., Mirza would have encountered in him, beard to beard, or whiskers to beard at least, a zealous defender of those points of ceremony which modern ministers conceded with such easy contempt, and an antagonist, therefore, after his own soul. But one question remains, and it is
an important one. We have turned over to oblivion and scorn the ancient superstitions of masters of ceremonies, and gentlemen ushers, about first and last in the order of reception, right and left in point of place, chairs and joint stools in respect of accommodation; nor would the Spaniards and French, in the suites of their respective ambassadors, be (without the interference of Townsend) permitted, as of yore, to fight a bloody and fatal battle in the streets of London, on the important point whose carriage was entitled to precedence. The sense that ambassadors are sent for other purposes has got rid of all this foppery. But, we would ask, might not the reformation be carried further ?—is it not worthy to be extended from the ante-chamber, where it has been achieved, into the cabinets themselves, where much, and of a most important character, remains to be done to simplify diplomacy? James I.'s witty character of an ambassador, that he was a man of quality sent to lie abroad for the good of his country, has, perhaps, been too deeply imprinted on the European system of conducting foreign relations. It is particularly unfavourable for the English nation, and advantageous for the political agents of other countries, who, by a dexterous employment of what is familiar to their habits, and alien to ours, have, for ages, been as remarkable for gaining as we for losing in diplomacy. An Englishman argues much as he handles his national weapon in a private quarrel. He can make a shift to apply one sound argument as substantial and as solid as a lead bullet, to the comprehension of his adversary, by whom it must often be admitted as sufficing. But, in the small-sword logic, the tierce and quarte of diplomatic finesse, he is almost sure to be foiled. The progress of time has thrown general light on all manufactures, trades, and even professions, and has dispelled the mist in which interested persons had involved them; the more that the mysteries, as they were termed, attached to peculiar employments have been removed, the more powerful has been the assistance they have received from true science. The same rule would doubtless apply to diplomatic arrangement, if conducted on a more frank, explicit, and open principle, than that of the tortuous détours, finesses, &c.-(we are glad the vocabulary is not English)—hitherto held almost inseparable from the science. The diplomacy of Napoleon was conducted with all states inferior in power, on the principle of sic volo sic jubeo, and his decisive argument was the circle which the Roman consul drew round the eastern monarch. This put finesse and subterfuge much out of the question, and these were only resumed in his negotiations with Great Britain. On these occasions, the protracted contest, though maintained by the most able combatants, somewhat resembled that of men fighting in the armour of their
great grandfathers. The old tricks of the diplomatic science, ever since this palpable exposure, have been falling into as much disrepute as Barbara Celarent. Its disguises are now too threadbare to serve the purpose of concealment. Above all, the selfish, -narrow-minded, and most impolitic principle that each state ought to act, and had a right to act, for its own separate advantage, in seizing whatever advantage, craft, or superior force could secure for it, has been severely expiated by universal suffering, and though it cannot perhaps be altogether expelled from the bosoms of sovereigns and statesmen, will be no longer unblushingly avowed. The time was when Joseph II., thinking he had a fair opportunity to subdue Turkey in Europe, gave the King of Prussia to understand very frankly that the only rule of peace or war which sovereigns could be bound by, was the probability of their being defeated, or successful,-in other words, the same principle on which gamesters draw near the hazard table, and highwaymen take the road.* This wretched system of senseless ego-ism, after having engaged Europe in such a succession of mutual injuries, aggressions, and wrongs, until, like skirmishes of the frogs and mice, the feuds were ended in the general subjugation of the continent, has been fortunately counteracted, and for the present exploded; and, we believe, most civilized states have arrived at the wholesome conclusion, that true policy does not consist in the struggles of a nation for its own aggrandizement, but in the union of the whole European republic towards promoting the peace and happiness of the civilized world. If this be now in a great measure recognized as the object of public treaties, it seems to follow that an object so fair, and manly, and meritorious, will be best furthered by being stated and followed up by plans and arguments of the same candid character. Persons proposing each some sinister advantage to himself, naturally conceal their real objects under the jargon of contending attorneys, to whom peace is war. men united in the honest purpose of seeking that which is best for the whole, get rid as soon as possible of the grimgribber of negotiation, and resort to the language of common reason and common sense, because that which is unquestionably just always gains by being made completely intelligible. A fair experiment of this nature was made long since, when the plain and downright integrity of Sir Andrew Mitchell was found too many for the refined policy of the wily Frederick, the most subtle of negotiators, and when the English ambassador, merely by dint of speaking truth,
* See this unblushing avowal in a very interesting work entitled, 'Memoires d'un Homme d'Etat,' which contains much authentic information concerning the state of Europe at the commencement, and during the progress of the French revolution. We believe it is justly attributed to the pen of Prince Hardenberg, one of the few truly great statesmen of our own times.