As the servants were preparing tea, the Vizier took a cup, and said to the travellers, “You must drink with us, for you are people of the Book,” meaning the Bible.
Yet you must not suppose because the Vizier seemed to approve these Christians, that he, and the Amir, would allow missionaries to settle in the kingdom.
It is dangerous for Englishmen to visit Bokhara. When they do come, they must be very careful not to give offence, or they will lose their lives. Englishmen are more dreaded than any other people, because it is known in Bokhara, that they have conquered Hindostan, and therefore the Amir fears lest they should conquer his kingdom also. As soon as an Englishman enters Bokhara, he is forbidden to write a letter, for fear he should contrive some plan to bring enemies there. Neither is he allowed to ride in the streets; none but Mahomedans are allowed to ride in them, though any one may ride outside the city.
Some years ago two Englishmen came to Bokhara, named Colonel Stoddart, and Captain Conolly. They acted foolishly in writing letters, and trying to send them secretly to their friends. They were found out, and shut up.
Colonel Stoddart behaved very wickedly in one respect; he pretended to be a Mahomedan! Was not this wicked? Soon he grew sorry, and declared himself a Christian. At last both Stoddart and Conolly were sentenced to die. They were led with their hands tied behind them to a place near the palace, to be executed. Conolly as he went along, cried out, “Woe, woe to me, for I have fallen into the hands of a tyrant.” At the place of execution the two Englishmen kissed each other.
Stoddart said to the king’s minister, (for the Amir was not present,) “Tell the Amir that I die a disbeliever in Mahomed, but a believer in Jesus. I am a Christian, and a Christian I die.”
Then Conolly said to his friend, “We shall see each other in paradise near Jesus.”
These were their last words. Immediately afterwards their heads were cut off with a knife.
Some time after this cruel murder, a clergyman, named Joseph Wolff, arrived at Bukhara. He had travelled all the way from England, and all alone, on purpose to inquire after Conolly, who had been his dear friend. The Amir was surprised at his coming, and said, “I have taken thousands of Persians and made them slaves, and no one came from Persia to inquire what was become of them; but as soon as I take two ENGLISHMEN prisoners, behold a man comes all this long way to inquire after them!”
The Amir did not know how precious are the lives of Englishmen in the eyes of their countrymen.
Joseph Wolff found it hard to get away from Bokhara. He was kept a long while in prison, and he feared he should be slain; for when he asked the Amir to give him the bones of Stoddart and Conolly to take to England, this was the Amir’s answer: “I shall send YOUR bones!” Yet, after all, he was permitted to leave Bokhara, the Lord graciously inclining the tyrant to let him go.