James Justinian Morier.

The adventures of Hajji Baba, of Ispahan (Volume 3) online

. (page 15 of 15)
Online LibraryJames Justinian MorierThe adventures of Hajji Baba, of Ispahan (Volume 3) → online text (page 15 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

' Oh,' said he, (for he and his country-
men had learnt our language) ' you know
not what you say. This blessing must be
spread throughout the world ; and if your
government stops it here, it will be guilty
of the blood of all those lives which might
have been saved. 1

* What is that to us ?' answered I : Met
them die we get nothing by their being




' If it be profit that you require, 1 ex-
claimed the doctor, ' I will willingly pay
any sum you may demand, rather than lose
my vaccinating matter, which must dry up
and be lost if my practice ceases.'

Here we entered into a negotiation, and
after much difficulty and show of appre-
hension concerning the risk I ran of in-
curring the grand vizier's displeasure, it was
agreed that for certain advantages which I
should enjoy, the restriction should be taken
from the doctor's house ; and I leave those
who know me to guess the numbers of child-
ren who now flocked to the man of medicine.
His gate was thronged, and nothing more
was said respecting the impropriety of the
women's attendance.

Another of his manias was a desire to
cut up dead bodies. He did so languish
after every corpse that was carried by his
house for burial, that I was surprised the
people did not set upon him for his impure

' But what possible good will accrue to



mankind in general,' said I to him, ' if you
dissect a dead Mussulman ?

' It is impossible to say what good may
be lost by my not dissecting him,' said he;
' besides, if I do not keep my hand in
practice, I shall lose my former skill.'

He then of his own accord proposed to
give a large sum for a corpse, and avowed
that he was not particular about its qua-
lity, for that of a Jew, Christian, or a true
believer, would be equally acceptable.

I kept this in remembrance ; and indeed
I had so many opportunities afforded me
of advancing the designs of the infidels,
and of filling my own pockets at the same
time, that I felt myself gradually growing
into wealth.

The ambassador himself was not with-
out his desires of improving (as he called
it) our state ; and I cannot resist relating a
circumstance which took place between him
and the grand vizier. He announced it
as his intention to make a present to us of
a certain produce of the earth, unknown in


most parts of Asia, but much cultivated in
Europe, which would not fail to be of in-
calculable benefit to the people of Persia ;
and he requested the vizier to assist him in
his undertaking, promising shortly to send
him a specimen of the intended gift. The
vizier, whose nose was always carried very
high whenever a present was in the wind,
did not fail daily to discuss with me what
this great benefit which the ambassador
was about to confer might be, and his im-
patience to gain possession became very
great. He discovered through me, that
the English representative had brought
with him a store of fine broad-cloth, upon
which he had constantly kept a steady eye.
Finding that the projected public benefit
was not forthcoming, he conceived in his
wisdom that the Elchi would have an easy
bargain, if he agreed to commute it for a
private gift to himself. Therefore, one
morning at his uprising he called me, and
said, * By the blessing of God, whatever
we want we have : we have bread, and meat


we have salt, and rice, and corn, and
fruits, such as the infidels never even saw
in a dream ; in short, we have every thing
that it is possible to conceive. Then why
should we become indebted to this infidel
ambassador for things that we do not want ?
A happy thought has struck me, by which
he will be a gainer, and be saved the trouble
he wishes to incur : I will agree to receive
cloth in lieu of the public benefit. This is
so easy a transaction, that you, who, praise
be to Allah ! are a man of sharp wit, will
easily negotiate. Go, say this to the am-
bassador, and without loss of time bring
me the cloth.'

I forthwith presented myself, and deli-
vered the message. Will it be believed
that he and all his beardless suite, upon
hearing it, set up such shouts of laughter,
as might be heard from the top of Dema-
wend ? ' What affinity has cloth to pota-
toes ?' said one. ' We wish to give a cheap
and comfortable article of food to your
countrymen/ said another. ' But it seems

VOL. in. B B


that your vizier likes to transfer the whole
advantage of the gift from the bellies of
the nation to his own back,' cried a third.
The ambassador, however, who appeared
the most reasonable of the party, without
hesitation very politely ordered a piece of
cloth to be delivered to me, which he re-
quested me to present to my master with
reiterated expressions of friendship; and
with the assurance that it could make no
alteration in the sentiments which he enter-
tained for the Persian nation, who he hoped
would still receive the potatoe, as a mark
of his high esteem and consideration.

I returned to the vizier full of exultation
at the success of my visit ; and this with
the preceding and subsequent instances of
my abilities, so entirely won his affections,
that I soon outstript every rival, and became
his principal favourite and confidant.



The conclusion. Misfortune seems to take leave of
Hqjji Baba, who returns to his native city a
greater man than when hejirst left it.

THE negotiations with the infidels were
now about being closed ; and it was agreed,
in order to strengthen the bonds of friend-
ship between the two, that an embassy on
the part of the Shah should forthwith be
sent to the king of England.

The experience of each succeeding day
convinced me of the influence I had ac-
quired over the mind of the grand vizier ;
and the event just recorded was the means
of showing me to what extent he depended
upon my services and zeal. The day after
the treaty with England was signed, he
called me into his private apartment, and
spoke to me in the following manner :

' Haj ji,' said he, ' give me your ear. I



have .things of importance to impart, and
as I look upon you as one exclusively mine,
I am sure that you will listen to them with
becoming attention.'

I was proceeding to make the necessary
protestations of my entire devotedness,
when he stopped me, and proceeded thus,

' Well or ill, our business with the En-
glish ambassador is at length concluded,
and the Shah has ceded to his wishes of
sending an ambassador to England in re-
turn. Now, you know the Persians as
well as I, how they detest leaving their own
country, and the difficulty I shall find in
selecting a man to devote himself to this
service. I have one in my eye, whom I
wish to send above every other ; and as it
is of the utmost importance to me that he
should be removed for the present from
Persia, and particularly from the presence
of the Centre of the Universe, I require
that you use your best endeavours to per-
suade his acceptance of the appointment.'

I immediately felt assured that he could


mean no other than me, although I did
not see what reason he could have for re-
moving me from the presence of the king ;
and elated by so bright a prospect of sud-
den elevation to rank and honours, I
sprung towards him, and seizing his hand
with fervour to kiss, I exclaimed, * The
least of your slaves will always prove to be
the most faithful of your servants: speak,
and you will always find me ready, even to

' That is well spoken,' said he, with great
composure, and now listen to me. The
man I allude to is Mirza Firouz, (here my
countenance fell, and I drawled out in an-
swer a long ' belli, yes.') The truth is, I
have lately discovered that his influence
with the Shah has been considerably upon
the increase. He possesses such great vo-
lubility of speech, and such vast command
of language, he flatters so intensely, and
lies so profoundly, that the king is more
amused by him than by any other man of his
court. Who knows how far he may go ?


Besides, I am assured that secretly he is
my most bitter enemy, whilst openly he
affects to be my most devoted of servants ;
and although to this day I have never for
a moment dreaded the hatred or the in-
trigues of any one, yet I cannot but own,
that, in this instance, I am not without my
fears. By sending him among the infidels,
as the Shah's representative, I at once cut
off the source of my uneasiness ; and once
let him be gone, I will so arrange matters,
that even should he return successful from
his mission (which please God, he never
may !) he shall never acquire the influence
over the Shah which he is now attempting
to establish. 1 *

I agreed to all he said without hesita-
tion ; and was losing myself in the reflec-
tion how I could possibly turn this piece of
confidence to my own advantage, when the
vizier accosted me again, and said,

' I have only let you into one part of my
scheme: the second object is, that you,
Hajji, should accompany the ambassador


in the capacity of his first mirza, or chief
secretary. You, who are my friend and
confidant, who know all my wishes, and
who have an intimate knowledge of all that
has occurred since the arrival of the in-
fidels, you are precisely the man to fill
this situation, and you will render me the
greatest of services by accepting my pro-

However delighted I might have been
at the prospect of becoming the chief of
an embassy, yet when I was offered the in-
ferior appointment, my feelings were very
different. I felt that in quitting the situa-
tion I now enjoyed, I should leave the
high road to preferment, to get into one of
its crooked lanes. Besides, I strongly par-
ticipated in the national antipathy, the
horror of leaving one's country, and par-
ticularly dreaded the idea of going to sea ;
and when I came to reflect that the country
to which I was likely to be sent was un-
known land, a laud situated in eternal
darkness, beyond the regions of the sun,
and whose inhabitants were an unclean and


unbelieving race, I drew back from the
vizier's offer with the fear of one who had
the gulf of perdition placed before him.

The answer I made to the prime mi-
nister was by a string of cold assents, such
as constantly hang on every Persian's lips,
whatever may be his real feelings. I said,
' By my eyes ; I am your servant ; my ear
is in your hand ; whatever you ordain I am
bound to obey :' and then remained mute
as a stone.

The vizier easily discovered what passed
within me, and said, ' If you dislike my
offer, you are your own master, and another
may easily be found to accept it. I have
your advantage in view as well as my own.
In the first place, you should immediately
proceed to Ispahan, as the Shah's deputy,
to collect a considerable portion of the
presents intended to be sent by our court
to the king of England, and which must be
levied upon the inhabitants of that city.
You would then have an opportunity of
enriching yourself.'

I did not let the vizier proceed further.


The temptation of returning to my native
place in such a character, clothed with such
powers, was too great to be withstood, and
in a very altered tone I immediately ex-
claimed, with great earnestness

' By the salt of your highness, by your
death, and by the beard of the Shah, I am
ready to go. No other word need be said,
I will go wherever you command, were it
even to fetch the father of all the Franks
from the inmost chambers of the world

* Be it so/ said the vizier ; * and as the first
step towards it, go at once to Mirza Firouz,
flatter and assure him that he is the only
man in Persia fit to be sent upon such an
embassy, and persuade him of the ad-
vantages that will accrue to him. Honour,
riches, the good will of the Shah, and my
protection all will abound; and at his re-
turn, God best knows to what heights he
may not ascend. Throw out hints that
some other man, some rival, whom you may
discover, has been talked of for the situa-*


tion, and you will see how easily he will
swallow the bait. Go, and Allah be with
you !'

I left his presence scarcely knowing whe-
ther I soared in the heavens, or trod on the
earth. ' What,' said I to myself, * shall I
then attain the summit of all earthly hap-
piness, shall my long past prognostics at
length be fulfilled, and shall I indeed
enter my native place, clothed with the
kalaat of honour, armed with the hand
of power, and mounted upon the steed
of splendour ? Let those who once scorned
Hajji Baba, the barber's son, now beware,
for they will have to deal with the Shah's
deputy. Let those crowns, which once
submitted to my razor, now be prostrate,
for he who can cut the head off is at
hand. Ye that have deprived me of my in-
heritance tremble, for the power of making
you restore it is mine.'

Indulging in such like feelings, I am
aware that I strutted along the street with
a swell and dignity of manner, which must


have surprised every one who saw me. I
could think of nothing save my approach-
ing honours ; and my mind was riveted by
the one idea of seeing myself mounted on
a finely caparisoned horse, adorned by a
gold chain round its neck, and a silver
tassel under its throat, preceded by my
led horses, and my running footmen, and
greeted by a deputation from the governor
of the city, to welcome my arrival in my
native place.

However, I proceeded to the house of
Mirza Firouz, whom I found prepared to
converse on the subject of the embassy,
because, it seems, that the English Elchi
had already made proposals to him to the
same effect as those which the grand vizier
intended to make. Although I had at-
tached myself almost exclusively to the
service of the prime minister, yet I always
persevered in my friendship with the in-
tended ambassador, who was very glad to
hear that I was to accompany him. We
talked long upon our future plans, as well


as upon our past adventures, and when,
roaring with laughter, he asked whether I
should now endeavour to regain possession
of my faithless Shekerleb, I slipped away,
not over-pleased to have that event of my
life recalled to my recollection.

The next day, the Shah announced at
the public audience his intention of send-
ing Mirza Firouz to England as his repre-
sentative, and the grand vizier ordered me
to be in readiness to proceed to Ispahan,
as soon as the proper firmans necessary to
arm me with power should be prepared.

I will not tire the reader with a de-
scription of the numerous details of my
preparatives for this expedition. He would
sicken and I should blush at my vanity.
It is sufficient to say that I travelled to
Ispahan with all the parade of a man of
consequence ; and that I entered my native
city with feelings that none but a Persian,
bred and born in the cravings of ambition,
can understand. I found myself at the
summit, of what, in my eyes, was perfect


human bliss. Misfortune seemed to have
taken its leave, and every thing informed
me that a new chapter in the book of my
life was about to open. Hajji Baba, the
barber's son, entered his native place, as
Mirza Hajji Baba, the Shah's deputy.
Need I say more ?

AND here, gentle Reader ! the
humble translator of the Adventures
of Hajji Baba presumes to address
you, and profiting by the hint af-
forded him by the Persian story-
tellers, stops his narrative, makes
his bow, and says, * Give me en-
couragement, and I will tell you
more. You shall be informed how
Hajji Baba accompanied a great
ambassador to England, of their


adventures by sea and land, of all
he saw, and all he remarked, and
of what happened to him on his
return to Persia.' But he begs to
add, should he find, like Hajji's
friend the third Dervish, he has
not yet acquired the art of leading
on the attention of the curious, he
will never venture to appear again
before the public until he has gained
the necessary experience to ensure
success. And so he very humbly
takes his leave.

P. P.






1111 Hill 11 Hi ii"" IIB """

A 000139095 4

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 15

Online LibraryJames Justinian MorierThe adventures of Hajji Baba, of Ispahan (Volume 3) → online text (page 15 of 15)