The Turks obey Mahomet’s laws; they pray five times a day, and drink no wine. But the Persians seldom repeat their prayers, and they do drink wine, though Mahomet has forbidden it. In short, the Persian seems to have no idea of right and wrong. The judges do not give right judgment, but take bribes. The soldiers live by robbing the poor people, for the king pays them no wages, but leaves them to get food as they can; and so the poor people often build their cottages in little nooks in the valleys, where they hope the soldiers will not see them.
THE COUNTRY.—Persia is a high country and a dry country. There are high mountains and wide plains; but there are very few rivers and running brooks, because there is so little rain. However, in some places the Persians have cut canals, and planted willow-trees by their side. Rice will not grow well in such a dry country, but sheep find it very pleasant and wholesome. The hills are covered over with flocks, and the shepherds may be seen leading their sheep and carrying the very young lambs in their arms. This is a sight which reminds us of the good Shepherd: for it is written of Jesus, “He gathered the lambs in his arms.”
The sweetest of all flowers grows abundantly in Persia—I mean the rose. The air is filled with its fragrance. The people pluck the rose leaves and dry them in the sun, as we dry hay. How pleasant it must be for children in the spring to play among the heaps of rose-leaves. Once a traveller went to breakfast with a Persian Prince, and he found the company seated upon a heap of rose-leaves, with a carpet spread over it. Afterwards the rose-leaves were sent to the distillers, to be made into rose-water.
Persian cats are beautiful creatures, with fur as soft as silk.
The best melons in the world grow in Persia.
The three chief materials for making clothes are all to be found there in abundance. I mean wool, cotton, and silk. You have heard already of the Persian sheep; so you see there is wool. Cotton trees also abound. Women and children may be been picking the nuts which contain the little pieces of cotton. There are mulberry-trees also to feed the numerous silk worms.
POOR PEOPLE.—The villages where the poor live are miserable places. The houses are of mud, not placed in rows, but straggling, with dirty narrow paths winding between them.
In summer the poor people sleep on the roofs; for the roofs are flat, and covered with earth, with low walls on every side to prevent the sleepers falling off. Here the Persians spread their carpets to lie upon at night.
Winter does not last long in Persia, yet while it lasts it is cold. Then the poor, instead of sleeping on their roofs, sleep in a very curious warm bed. In the middle of each cottage there is a round hole in the floor, where the fire burns. In the evening the fire goes out, but the hot cinders remain. The Persians place over it a low round table, and then throw a large coverlid over the table, and all round about. Under this coverlid the family lie at night, their heads peeping out, and their feet against the warm fire-place underneath. This the Persians call a comfortable bed.