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had but five minutes to live. The vizier re-
ceived the summons with calmness, and com-
posed two lines on the spot, which have be-
come proverbial in Persia : ** Such is life ; now
it overwhelms us with honors, and anon it
clothes us with thorns. Fortune, like a juggler,
delights to play us a thousand tricks like this."
Five minutes later he was suffocated, it is
said, by a mattress laid over him in an apart-
ment of the palace, although one living at the
time told me he died by the cord.

Before leaving the anderoon we were taken
to the bath, where the royal ladies were wont
to disport themselves. Proceeding down an
inclined plane, we entered a subterranean hall
of marble supported by pillars clustered around
a circular pool. Opposite to where we entered
was a steep slide of polished marble. This was
built to enable Feth Alee Shah to indulge in
an original sport which reminds one of the
delights of the gardens of Armida. From the
upper story of the anderoon his wives pro-
ceeded, somewhat thinly clad, to the top of
the slide, and with much merriment deftly
slipped into the arms of the royal husband,
who waited for them below. The bath is con-
nected with this subterranean hall, and con-
sists of several apartments faced with marble
and floral designs on glazed tiles. No more
are peals of laughter heard there, nor the song
warbled by ruby lips. All are gone who once
imparted life to this lovely scene. The livelong
summer day the nightingale trills in the rose-
bush and the turtle-dove coos in the chendrs^
and the 'murmuring water dashes down its
marble channels, but no one dwells there now
save the soHtary sentinel and the venerable
guardian.

The Persians are a mercurial people, far
different from most Orientals. They are pas-
sionately fond of poetry, and the stanzas of
FerdoUsee and Hafiz are familiar to all classes.
Shah Djemsheed and Rustem, the hero of the
Shah-na-meh, or Chronicle of Kings, are house-
hold words, even more than the Cid in Spain
or King Arthur in England. The Persians
are also influenced by what appears to the
eye beyond any other people. "If you \vish
to reach a Persian's heart you must touch his



eye," said a distinguished Persian. For this rea-
son they are greatly taken with spectacular
effects, and find it difficult to regard with
respect foreigners who live in simple style and
avoid display when abroad. Power that is
unostentatious is to them difficult of compre-
hension.

If Teherin should ever have a theater or
opera, and Persians should be permitted to
attend them, they would develop a passion
which at present finds only incomplete ex-
pression in numerous feasts or the mourn-
ing festivities of the Moharrem. The greatest
annual occasion in Persia is probably the Noh
Rooz, or New Year, which comes in the spring.
This festival, although sanctioned by the
Sheahs, undoubtedly had its origin in the time
when the Zenda vesta was the acknowledged
guide of religion in Persia. The Noh Rooz
comes when the sun again asserts his brilliant
reign over the earth in March, and drives
away clouds and rain and storm for nine
months from its special favorite, the land of
Irdn. Then the trees bourgeon and bloom, and
the fields and gardens are resplendent with
flowers. The Noh Rooz continues for ten
days. One of these days is celebrated at Tehe-
ran with races held at the race-course outside
the city walls. A handsome royal pavihon,
furnished with arches and alcoves, affords a
fine point of observation for the King and his
wives, the latter guarded from view by lat-
tices. The legations and principal Persian
grandees erect tents adjoining the royal
pavilion, and give receptions to their friends.
The scene is gay with streamers and banners. j
The horses are fine steeds from the Arab breed |
of Shiriz, superb animals of grace and
fire. But their gait is the run instead of
the trot; the latter pace is not esteemed
in the East for riding-horses, and justly,
as it appears to me. Of course the entire
population of Teherin turns out to see the
races.

Another very important occasion at Tehe-
rin is what is called the Moharrem, or month
of mourning. It is the celebration of the
slaughter of Hussein, the son of Alee, and his
family by the army of Moawiy^h, who had
usurped the CaHphate. To the Sheahs the
occasion is one of the highest importance.
For nine days groups of fanatics, chiefly fakirs,
go through the streets, chanting and howling
** Ya Hussein ! " Their clothes are rent, some-
times, indeed, entirely dispensed with, and
their black locks hang disheveled over blood-
shot eyes. With knives they gash themselves
or pierce their limbs and cheeks with steel
spikes, sometimes falling dead in the street
from loss of blood. By the eighth, ninth, and
tenth days these enthusiasts have wrought



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THE CITY OF TEHERAN,



335



themselves up to such a pitch of religious
frenzy that it is prudent for Europeans to re-
main at home. He who has once seen one of
these processions, or in the still of evening
has heard the lamentation from all parts of
the city, can never forget the singular impres-
sion produced.

A marked feature of the last days of the
Moharrem is the Tazieh, or Passion Play,
representing the death of Hussein. Many of
the wealthy Persians give presentations of the
play in the court or patio of their own houses,
which is covered with awnings, and all the
faithful are invited to attend. To the women
especiaUy the opportunity of thus diverting
themselves is so valuable, that this reason
alone will probably render it difficult to abol-
ish the custom for many years, were it, indeed,
desirable to do so. But, of course, the royal
Tazieh offers the most elaborate and complete
representation of the Passion Play, if it may
be so termed for want of a more descriptive
phrase. The King has constructed a special
building for this drama, surmounted by a light
domical frame for supporting the awning.
Galleries are ranged around the arena divided
into boxes. Each minister is expected to fur-
nish his loggia in a costly manner, with Cash-
mere shawls and elegant rugs.

Much of the representation reminds one
of the scene in " Midsummer Night's Dream"
where Bottom figures as the lion with Moon-
ihine and his precious companions. A man
brings a bush into the arena, sticks it in
the ground, and says " This is a tree." An-
other actor on all fours, with a lion's skin
on his back, personates the devouring king
of beasts. Notwithstanding such absurdities,
which the lively fancy of the spectators
causes them to accept as real, the general
effect becomes solemn and impressive as
the tragedy proceeds and the martyrs are
slain by a multitude of assailants. The audi-
ence is moved to tears, and a wild wailing
proceeds from every quarter of the house.
The impersonation has been sometimes car-
ried to such a realistic point that men have
allowed themselves to be buried up to the
neck in the ground, or concealed their heads
in a hole, in order to represent a field strewn
with headless trunks and bloody heads. The
effort was, however, so violent that actors
representing such objects in the above man-
ner have been known to be suffocated when
the weather has been warm.

It appears singular to proceed from the
Tazieh to the CoUege of Teherin, the former
representing Oriental and reactionary and the
latter modem and Western ideas. Although
the standard of instruction in the college
leaves much to be desired, the existence of



such an institution indicates a progressive
spirit, and must eventually produce valuable
results for Persia. It is, of course, under gov-
ernment auspices; it includes instruction in
languages, geology, painting, medicine, and
other branches. Several of the instructors are
Englishmen and Germans. The Persians
show much aptitude in the acquisition of lan-
guages, and especially of the French tongue,
which is understood and spoken by the King
himself, and by many of his ministers and
numerous subordinate officers. The study
of anatomy is pursued with a manikin. It
would be impossible to introduce dissection
in Persia at present ; and the practice of sur-
gery, when involving amputation or compli-
cated cases, is attended with difficulties, for
if the surgeon should lose his patient, the
latter being a Mussulman, he would be lia-
ble to pay what is called blood-money, and
might even risk his own life.

Want of space forbids a further account of
a city which offers the stranger many novel
attractions. But we may allude, in closing, to
the numerous charming villas, pleasure- houses,
and retreats in the suburbs of Teherin.
Doshant6p€ is a favorite resort of the King,
three miles from the city. It is perched on the
summit of a lofty, isolated rock, and is ap-
proached by a picturesque winding stairway.
At the foot of the eminence lies a spacious
garden containing an interesting menagerie
composed largely of native animals. One
observes there several noble lions from the
vicinity of Persepolis. Another very interest-
ing palace is that called Kasr-i-KhajAr or
Castle of the Khajdrs. It is one of the most
pleasing objects in the landscapes of TeherSn.
The present Shah inherits the love of the
chase peculiar to the monarchs of Persia
from the oldest periods, and often resorts to
these choice retreats in order to be in the
neighborhood of his hunting-grounds.

The European colony spends the summer
at the Shimrdn in the villages of Tejrisch,
Gulah^k, and Zergend^h. The two latter were
royal gifts to the English and Russian lega-
tions respectively. Besides the extensive
grounds occupied by the two legations, these
villages include houses rented to Europeans
and Persians alike. The carriage-roads are
numerous in the vicinity of Teherln, and most
of them are excellent, and in several cases well
protected by avenues of shade-trees. The
most charming and romantic drive in the
neighborhood is that of Yusufabid. It gently
ascends towards the mountains, and commands
a superb prospect of Demav^nd and the
nearer ranges as well as the plains of Teherdn
far to the south beyond Kanaregird. When
there is a slight haze or mirage, as often hap-



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33^ THE CRICKETS IN THE FIELDS,



ROYAL THEATER, WHERE THE GREAT PASSION PLAV, OR TAZIEH, IS EXHIBITED ANNUALLY FOR TEN DAYS AT MOHAJtREJJ.
CURTAINS ARE DRAWN OVER THE FRAME-WORK ABOVE.

pens, the plain assumes the deep purple of here and there, mere gleaming specks, lcx>k
the sea when a fresh breeze is blowing over like white-caps, while the walls of Teheran
it ; the rosy ridges beyond resemble islands as suggest surf beaten into foam on far-extend-
seen at sea, and the white houses glistening ing reefs.

S. G, W. Benjamin.



THE CRICKETS IN THE FIELDS.

ONE, or a thousand voices? — filling noon
With such an undersong and drowsy chant
As sings in ears that waken from a swoon.
And know not yet which world such murmurs haunt :
Single, then double beats, reiterant ;
Far off and near ; one ceaseless, changeless tune.

If bird or breeze awake the dreamy will.
We lose the song, as it had never been;

Then suddenly we find 'tis singing still

And had not ceased. — So, friend of mine, within
My thoughts one underthought, beneath the din

Of life, doth every quiet moment fill.

Thy voice is far, thy face is hid from me.
But day and night are full of dreams of thee.

Anthony Marehead,
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THE BOSTONIANS.*



BY HENRY JAMES,
Author of " Portrait of a Lady/* " Daisy Miller," " Lady Barberina," etc



XXXVIII. — (Continued.)

IT is to be feared, indeed, that Verena was
easily satisfied (convinced, I mean, not that
she ought to succumb to him, but that there
were lovely, neglected, almost imsuspected
truths on his side) ; and there is further evi-
dence on the same head in the fact that after
the first once or twice she found nothing to say
to him (much as she was always saying to her-
self) about the cruel effect her apostasy would
have upon Olive. She forbore to plead that
reason after she had seen how angry it made
him, and with how almost savage a contempt
he denounced so flimsy a pretext. He wanted
to know since when it was more becoming to
take up with a morbid old maid than with an-
honorable young man; and when Verena
pronounced the sacred name of friendship, he
inquired what fanatical sophistry excluded him
from a similar privilege. She had told him,
in a moment of expansion (Verena believed
she was immensely on her guard, but ^er
guard was very apt to be lowered), that his
visits to Marmion cast in Olive's view a re-
markable light upon his chivalry ; she chose
to regard his resolute pursuit of Verena as a
covert persecution of herself. Verena repented,
as soon as she had spoken, of having given
further currency to this taunt ; but she per-
ceived the next moment no harm was done,
Basil Ransom taking in perfectly good part
Miss Chancellor's reflections on his delicacy,
and making them the subject of much firee
laughter. She could not know, for in the
midst of his hilarity the young man did not
compose himself to tell her, that he had made
up his mind on this question before he left
New York — as long ago as when he wrote
her the note (subsequent to her departure from
that city) to which allusion has already been
made, and which was simply the fellow of the
letter addressed to her after his visit to Cam-
bridge ; a friendly, respectful, yet rather preg-
nant sign that, decidedly, on second thoughts,
separation didii't imply for him the intention
of silence. We know a little about his second
thoughts, as much as is essential, and espe-
cially how the occasion of their springing up
had been the windfall of an editor's encour-



agement. The importance of that encourage-
ment, to Basil's imagination, was doubtless
much augmented by his desire for an excuse
to take up again a line of behavior which he
had forsworn (small as had, as yet, been his
opportunity to indulge in it) very much less
than he supposed ; still, it worked a consider-
able revolution in his view of his case, and
made him ask himself what amount of consid-
eration he should (from the most refined
Southern point of view) owe Miss Chancellor
in the event of his deciding to go after Verena
Tarrant in earnest. He was not slow to de-
cide that he owed her none. Chivalry had to
do with one's relations with people one hated,
not with those one loved. He didn't hate poor
Miss OHve, though she might make him, yet ;
and even if he did, any chivalry was all moon-
shine which should require him to give up the
girl he adored in order that his third cousin
should see he could be gallant. Chivalry was
forbearance and generosity with regard to the
weak; and there was nothing weak about
Miss Olive ; she was a fighting woman, and
she would fight him to the death, giving him
not an inch of odds. He felt that she was
fighting there all day long, in her cottage-fort-
ress ; her resistance was in the air he breathed,
and Verena came out to him, sometimes, quite
limp and pale from the tussle.

It was in the same jocose spirit with which
he regarded Olive's view of the sort of stand-
ard a Mississippian should live up to that he
talked to Verena about the lecture she was
preparing for her great d^but at the Music
Hall. He learned from her that she was to
take the field in the manner of Mrs. Farrinder,
for a winter campaign, carrying with her a
tremendous big gun. Her engagements were
all made, her route was marked out ; she ex-
pected to repeat her lecture in about fifty dif-
ferent places. It was to be called " A Woman's
Reason," and both Olive and Miss Birdseye
thought it, so far as they could tell in advance,
her most promising effort. She wasn't going
to trust to inspiration this time; she didn't
want to meet a big Boston audience without
knowing where she was. Inspiration, more-
over, seemed rather to have faded away ; in
consequence of Olive's influence, she had read



Vol. XXXL— 34.



• Copyright, 1884, by Henry James.



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338



THE BOSTONIANS.



and studied so much that it seemed now as
if everything must take form beforehand.
Olive was a splendid critic, whether he liked
her or not, and she had made her go over
every word of her lecture twenty times. There
wasn't an intonation she hadn't made her
practice ; it was very different from the old
system, when her father had worked her up.
If Basil considered women superficial, it was
a pity he couldn't see what Olive's standard
of preparation was, or be present at their re-
hearsals, in the evening, in their little parlor.
Ransom's state of mind in regard to the event
at the Music Hall was simply this — that he
was determined to " head it off" if he could.
He covered it with ridicule, in talking of it to
Verena, and the shafts he leveled at it went
so far that he could see she thought he exag-
gerated his dislike to it. In point of fact he
could not have overstated that; so odious did
the idea seem to him that she was soon to be
launched in a more infatuated career. He
vowed to himself that she should never take
that fresh start which would commit her irre-
trievably if she should succeed, and she would
succeed (he had not the slightest doubt of
her power to produce a sensation in the Mu-
sic Hall), to the acclamations of the news-
papers. He didn't care for her engagements,
her campaigns, or all the expectancy of her
friends ; to " smash " all that, at a stroke, was
the dearest wish of his heart. It would repre-
sent to him his own success, it would symbol-
ize his victory. It became a fixed idea with
him, and he warned her again and again.
When she laughed and said she didn't see how
he could stop her unless he kidnapped her,
he really pitied her for not perceiving, beneath
his ommous pleasantries, the firmness of his
resolution. He felt almost capable of kidnap-
ping her. It was palpably in the air that she
would become "widely popular," and that
idea simply sickened him. He felt as differ-
ently as possible about it from Mr. Matthias
Pardon.

One afternoon, as he returned with Verena
from a walk which had been accomplished
completely within the prescribed conditions,
he saw, from a distance, Doctor Prance, who
had emerged bareheaded from the cottage,
and, shading her hands fi-om the red, declining
sun, was looking up and down the road. It
was part of the regulation that Ransom should
separate fi-om Verena before reaching the
house, and they had just paused to exchange
their last words (which every day promoted
the situation more than any others), when
Doctor Prance began to beckon to them with
much animation. They hurried forward, Ve-
rena pressing her hand to her heart, for she
had instantly guessed that something terrible



had happened to Olive — she had given out,
fainted away, perhaps fallen dead, with the
cruelty of the strain. Doctor Prance watched
them come, with a curious look in her face ;
it was not a smile, but a kind of mocking
implication that she noticed nothing. In an
instant she had told them what was the matter.
Miss Birdseye had had a sudden weakness ;
she had remarked abruptly that she was
dying, and her pulse, sure enough, had fallen
to nothing. She was down on the piazza
with Miss Chancellor and herself, and they
had tried to get her up to bed. But she
wouldn't let them move her; she was passing
away, and she wanted to pass away just there,
in such a pleasant place, in her customiary
chair, lookmg at the sunset. She asked for
Miss Tarrant, and Miss Chancejlor told hfer
she was out — out walking with Mr. Ransom.
.Then she wanted to know if Mr. Ransom
was still there — she supposed he was gone.
(Basil knew, by Verena, apart fi-om this, that
his name had not been mentioned to the old
lady since the morning he saw her.) She ex-
pressed a wish to see him — she had some-
thing to say to him ; and Miss Chancellor told
her that he would be back soon, with Verena,
and that they would bring him in. Miss
Birdseye said she hoped they wouldn't be
long, because she was sinking ; and Doctor
Prance now added, like a person who knew
what she was talking about, that it was, in
fact, the end. She had darted out two or three
times to look for them, and they must step
in right off. Verena had scarcely given her
time to tell her story ; she had alreadj^ rushed
into the house. Ransom followed with Doc-
tor Prance, conscious that for him the occasion
was doubly solemn ; inasmuch as if he was to
see poor Miss Birdseye yield up her philan-
thropic soul, he was on the other hand
doubtless to receive from Miss Chancellor a
reminder that she had no intention of quitting
the game.

By the time he had made thisTeflection he
stood in the presence of Miss Chancellor and
her venerable guest, who was sitting just as
he had seen her before, muffled and bonneted,
on the back piazza of the cottage. Olive
Chancellor was on one side of her, holding
one of her hands, and on the other was Ve-
rena, who had dropped on her knees, close to
her, bending over those of the old lady. " Did
you ask for me — did you want me?" the
girl said, tenderly. " I will never leave you
again."

" Oh, I won't keep you long. I only wanted
to see you once more." Miss Birdseye's voice
was very low, like that of a person breathing
with difficulty; but it had no painful nor
querulous note — it expressed only the cheer-



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THE BOSTONIANS.



339



fal weariness which had marked all this last
period of her life, and which seemed to make
It, now, as blissfiil as it was suitable that she
should pass away. Her head was thrown back
against the top of the chair, the ribbon which
confined her ancient hat hung loose, and the
late afternoon light covered her octogenarian
face and gave it a kind of fairness, a double
placidity. There was, to Ransom, something
almost august in the trustful renunciation
of her countenance ; something in it seemed
to say that she had been ready long before,
but as the time was not ripe she had waited,
with her usual faith that all was for the best;
only, at present, since the right conditions
met, she couldn't help feeling that it was quite
a luxury, the greatest she had ever tasted.
Ransom knew why it was that Verena had
tears in her eyes as she looked up at her pa-
tient old friend ; she had spoken to him, often,
during the last three weeks, of the stories
Miss Birdseye had told her of the great work
of her life, her mission, repeated year after
year, among the Southern blacks. She had
gone among them vrith every precaution, to
teach them to read and write ; she had carried
ihera Bibles and told them of the friends they
had in the North who prayed for their deliv-
erance. Ransom knew that Verena didn't
reproduce these legends with a view to making
him ashamed of his Southern origin, his con-
nection with people who, in a past not yet
remote, had made that kind of apostleship
necessary; he knew this because she had heard
what he thought of all that chapter himself;
he had given her a kind of historical summary
of the slavery question which left her no room
to say that he was more tender to that partic-
ular example of human imbecility than he
was to any other. But she had told him that
this was what 5he would have liked to do —
to wander, alone, with her life in her hand,
on an errand of mercy, through a country in
which society was arrayed against her; she
would have liked it much better than simply
talking about the right from the gas-lighted
vantage of the New England platform. Ran-
som had replied simply " Balderdash ! " it
being his theory, as we have perceived, that
he knew much more about Verena's native
bent than the young lady herself. This did
not, however, as he was perfectly aware, pre-
vent her feeling that she had come too late
for the heroic age of New England life, and
regarding Miss Birdseye as a battered, imme-
morial monument of it. Ransom could share
such an admiration as that, especially at this
moment; he had said to Verena, more than
once, that he wished that he might have met
the old lady in Carolina or Georgia before the
war — shown her round among the negroes



and talked over New England ideas with her;
there were a good many he didn't care much
about now, but at that time they would have
been tremendously refreshing. Miss Birdseye
had given herself away so lavishly all her life
that it was rather odd there was anything left
of her for the supreme surrender. When he
looked at Olive he saw that she meant to ig-



Online LibraryRobert Walter BruèreThe Century, Volume 31 → online text (page 59 of 168)