By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
The Ottoman conquest of العراق Iraq began as an outgrowth of a religious war between the Sunni Ottoman sultan and the shi'a Safavid shah. The territory making up most of contemporary العراق Iraq came under permanent Ottoman rule. Mesopotamia was split into three provinces based on the towns of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. The Ottoman Empire was at the peak of its power when it conquered العراق Iraq, and was able to give العراق Iraq stable government and a uniform administration.
The Ottoman Empire lost direct control over the Iraqi provinces. Tension between the Sunni Ottomans and Shi'i Safavid shahs of Persia led to fragmentation and diminished control from the central Ottoman government in Istanbul. Initiative and power lay with those who could command forces.
Re-Conquest, early 19th century
Early 19th century
Direct Ottoman rule was reimposed, and reforms were instated, spearheaded by Midhat Pasha. Under the rule of Sultan Mahmud II (1808-39) the central Ottoman government began to implement the Nizam-i Cedid (New Order) which reclaimed power from semi-autonomous provincial governors into the hands of the sultan
Da'ud Pasha, the mamluk governor of Baghdad, refused to comply with the New Order and relinquish his office. An Ottoman army led by 'Ali Rida Pasha, governor of Aleppo, invaded Baghdad. Da'ud Pasha was captured along with his city, ending mamluk rule in Baghdad.
'Ali Rida Pasha went on to occupy Basra and end mamluk rule in that city.
Central Ottoman rule was restored in Mosul, ending the hold of the Jalili family on the governorship. The three provinces were now under direct rule from Istanbul.
Sultan Abdulmecid implemented the Tanzimat Reforms, which transformed landholding, administration, conscription, law and public education. However, these reforms were implemented at different rates, depending on the initiative, energy and tenure of the Ottoman governors appointed by authorities in Istanbul. However, the norms and methods of the mamluk era endured; furthermore, Ottoman power over major cities did not necessarily increase hegemony over semi-autonomous tribes and tribal confederations of the countryside. Ottoman reforms nonetheless brought a new way of politics to Mesopotamia, one largely built on the European model.
Eyalet of Kurdistan
1847 - 1867
The Ottoman eyalet of Kurdistan was disbanded when the vilayet system was instituted in 1867.
Land Law of 1858
The Land Law of 1858 sought to formalize land tenure, creating security of tenure (whilst reasserting state ownership) in hopes of encouraging productive and settled agriculture, attracting investment and generating tax revenues. The land reform involved the granting of title deeds (tapu sanad) to anyone who possessed or occupied land. The land remained state property, but the registered owner of the title deed had nearly complete rights of ownership.
Collective ownership of land was expressly prohibited and registration could only be in the name of an individual. Thus, areas of tribal cultivation were registered under the powerful shaikh. Due to ignorance, superstition and/or misplaced trust in the shaikh, tribal cultivators failed to register and thus become tenant farmers. On lands belonging to the sultant (saniyya lands), tax-farming continued and tax-farming rights were periodically auctioned, thus denying the inhabitants a long enough tenancy to apply for title deeds.
The Land Law of 1858 brought about conflicts. Namely, cultivators were oft stripped of their land rights. Registered owners were sometimes wholly unconnected with the cultivators, instead gathering title deeds via influence or capital. Gaining rights to land did not only confer power over the newly-privatized land, but also conferred power over those who cultivated it. This restructured social power, as agricultural land was now private property.
Vilayet Law of 1864
Eyalets were replaced with vilayets, a change from an old to a new system and name for provinces. The provincial borders were redrawn. The Vilayet Law of 1864 mapped the boundaries of Iraq's three provinces a new structure of administration from the provincial to the village levels. The Vilayet Law sought to bring the central administration systematically down to people hitherto outside the state apparatus. More radically, the Vilayet Law intended to involve even previously uninvolved Muslims and non-Muslims from the general population into various administrative councils alongside Ottoman officials.
مدحت پاشا Midhat Pasha
مدحت پاشا Midhat Pasha attained the Baghdad governorship and made concerted efforts to build for the future. مدحت پاشا MIdhat Pasha energetically and forcefully implement the Land Law and Vilayet Law. The Vilayet Law was relatively easy, as Istanbul was eager to assert its centralized authority and the populace was receptive. The Land Law was not fully implemented by the time Midhat Pasha was recalled to Istanbul in 1872.
Young Turk Revolution
The Young Turk revolution occurs in Istanbul.
Abdulhamid II Deposed
Sultan Abdulhamid II is deposed.
British Occupy Basra
British occupation of Basra.
British Occupy Baghdad
British occupation of Baghdad.
British Occupy Mosul
British occupation of Mosul.
Marr, Phoebe. The Modern History of Iraq, 2nd Edition. 2004. Westview Press. Boulder, Colorado.
Constantinople, June 3. They write from Bassora, that a Battle has been fought between between the Troops of Kerim Kan, Regent of Persia, and those of Omar, Pacha of Bagdad, who totally defeated the Persians, and took their Commander Prisoner. They add that the Pacha of Baghdad, being desirous of preventing a War from breaking out between the Persians and the Ottoman Porte, had set at Liberty the Persian General, and had sent magnificent Presents to the Regent of Persia, at the same Time making Excuses for the Necessity he was under of defending the Territories under his Government. It is pretended, that notwithstanding the Presents and Submissions of the Pacha of Bagdad, the Regent of Persia still retained a strong Resentment against him for the Check his Troops received in the Kurdistan, and that in Consequence, as the Port either absolutely could not or would not depose the Pacha of Bagdad, the Persians had attacked the Turks, and has beaten them in their Turn, but this last News merits Confirmation. In the mean Time the Porte fearing the Consequences of this Affair, which may become of the greatest Importance, has sent Orders to Abdi Pacha Oglou, who commands in Asia Minor, to march towards Bagdad, to reinforce the Pacha of that Town.
The Cheik Daher had promised to give an Account to the Porte of the Miry which he has not paid for these seven Year past, on Condition that the Grand Seignior would grant him the Dignity of Pacha of Three Tails, to be enjoyed after this death by his e'dest Son; but finding that the Porte hesitated to accept of these Conditions, that old Warrior took Offense at it, and seizing an Opportunity of attacking the Egyptian Army, entirely defeated it. After the Victory the Cheik Daher imprisoned the Deputy of the Porte, who was at Buruth.
Vienna, July 20. It is assured, that the Cheik Daher of Syria has been stripped of all his possessions, and even driven from his residence; but that Aboudaab, his conqueror, did not profit long by his advantages, having died in a little time afterwards of a very short sickness. This unexpected event has occasioned the total dissolution of the Egyptian army; in consequence of which the Porte has been obliged to send the Captain Pacha with a part of his fleet into Syria, in order to collect there the shattered remains of the said army. The Divan is seriously employed in taking proper measures for keeping Persia in respect, ever since Zends Kerim Kan has drawn near to Soherizur and Kerzuol, places belonging to the Turks, situated in the Kurdistan.
CONSTANTINOPLE, June 3.
They write from Bassora, that there has been a batle between the troops of Kerim Kahn [sic], Regent of Persia, and those of Omar, Pacha of Bagdad, who hath totally defeated the Persians, and made their commander prisoner. It is added, that the Pacha of Bagdad, desirous of preventing an open war from breaking out between the Persians and the Ottoman Porte, had set the Persian General at liberty, and sent some magnificent presents to the Regent of Persia, making an apology to him for the necessity he was under to defend the territories of his government. It is pretended, that notwithstanding the presents and submissions of the Pacha of Bagdad, the Regent of Persia still harboured a strong resentment, on account of the check which his troops met with in the Kurdistan; and in consequence, as the Ottoman Porte absolutely could not or would not dismiss the Pacha of Bagdad, the Persians had attacked the Turks in their turn and beaten them; but this last news stands in need of confirmation.
Mr. Murray, Ambassador of Great-Britain, having had his audience of leave of the Porte on the 20th ultimate. and having presented to the Grand Visir, Mr. Hayes, inequality of Charges des Affairs of the King his master, departed from hence on the 25th on board a Venetian ship.
The Chiek Daher promised to render an account to the Porte of the Miry which had not paid during the war with Russia, for the estates under his command, on condition, that the Grand Signor would grant him the dignity of Pacha of Three Tails, which his eldest descendant should enjoy after his decease; but we are informed, that his Highness having hesitated about accepting and confirming this condition, that old warrior took umbrage at it, and immediately prepared for fighting the Egyptian army, which merged against him; in effect, he seized the opportunity of attacking it to advantage, and entirely defeated it. After his victory, the Chiek Daher imprisoned the Deputy of the Porte, who was at Baruth.
It is reported that the Persians have at last made themselves Masters of Bassora, and that the Muslim of Curdistan had declared in Favour of the Regent of Persia. It is added, that the Porte is silent about all this News, for Fear of some popular Tumult.
Selim the IIId. as Grand Calif, has published a plenary indulgence, or a remission of all sins to every faithful Mussulman that joins the army; he has also published an edict for all his subjects, from the age of 16 to 60 to enlist, unless on the allegation of some particular circumstance. The troops that are continually crowding into Constantinople from the continent of Asia, commit so much outrage in the city, that all the shops of the Jews, the Greeks, and the Franks, are shut up, and even the native merchants dare not stir out for fear of being pillaged by these hordes.
The current news at Constantinople is, that Karon Mirsa, the Sultan of Persia, the declared enemy to Mahometan sectaries, having over-run all Kurdistan, and taken twelve thousand saves, has laid siege to Bagdat; while another Persian army has blockaded the city of Bassora, one of the richest ports in the Turkish dominions: – To these storms from the East, the Gran Signor appears indifferent, all his attention being directed towards Europe.
The following details are taken from an authentic source: – Buonaparte did not make himself master of Egypt before the end of the summer. He found at Suez but a few vessels, and these in bad condition. The Monsoon being against him at the Autumnal Equinox, he found that he had not time to caulk those vessels, or to put to sea. He immediately abandoned his plan of going to Indian, and his army began to consider itself as fixed in Egypt. The loss of our fleet ensued, and this was followed by the Declaration of War not he part of Turkey, their threats of invasion, &c. The French funding themselves thus shut up, immediately turned their thoughts to defending themselves and their conquests.
The month of Fructidor was rather severe, on account of the extreme heat, the calms, and exhalations which followed the retreat of the Nile; but in the month of Vendemiaire, the land was covered with trefoil. Milk, beer, flesh, fish, and vegetables were all abundant. The army recovered from its fatigues. It is about to pass the winter, and inure itself to the climate.
In the mean time Buonaparte is ever vigilant. Devoting himself to the administration of this important conquest, he descends to Damietta and Rosetta, and puts the coast in a state of defence at every point. He orders the necessary forts on the confines of the Desert near Suez, and in the higher Egypt. He keeps the troops in exercise, raises recruits in the country, and makes use rather of art than of force to form a party amongst the natives. He avails himself of the distinctions, civil and religious, to attach to him the Coptics, the Bedouins, and the peasantry. He flatters their self-love by adopting several of their customs, in order that they may more easily accommodate themselves to ours. He found them melancholy, choleric, and fretful, thro' the influence of tyranny. He has rendered them gay, good, and amiable, by the means of games, feats and music. He turns he most useful labours into amusement, and repairs the highways, the bridges, and the canals. He found the peasants slaves, and he has endowed them with property.
The Grand Signor inherited every succession. Buonaparte has consecrated the right of inheritance in every family; he bestows on every child an equal share, and suddenly, but without a shock, he has ameliorated the condition of the women, by giving them an equal portion of the descending property, with a right to dispose of it at will. He marries his soldiers to the women of the country, prohibits all premature marriages, lays restraints on polygamy, and, in a word, is founding in Asia a new civil code.
By his economy and foresight he is reviving the manufactures of the country. He has prohibited the ruinous and absurd luxury of Russian troops, and of Cocheminian shawls [spelling?]. He has called upon the neutral provinces, and procured front hem by the way exchange, the iron, the copper, and the wood of which he had occasion. He is not likely to be in any want of powder.
He has appointed schools of instruction for the people, and military colleges, where the young French, the Copts, and the Arabs instruct each other in the Arabic, the French, in geography, the mathematics, and other sciences. He has, in one word, created a nation; and, by managing the powerful resources of enthusiasm, he has recalled to the Arabs the glory of their ancestors. He has shown them, in the French Army, the miraculous instrument of the decrees of Providence, as wishing to revive the empire of the ancient Arabs, to deliver them from a barbarous yoke, to purify the laws of their Prophet, which had been altered by ignorant or impious men, and to open in Asia a new age of grandeur, of science, and of glory.
The answer made by the French Legation to the Prussian Ministers respecting their last note has been very laconic. They merely say, the they have sent dispatches tot heir Government on the subject, and that they shall hasten to communicate the result as soon as it arrives.
The following are the speculations of Volney as the destination of Buonaparte, which the thus puts into the mouth of that General:
"Let us leave to Zemaun Shah, and to Tippoo Sultan, the care of driving the English from Bengal. Zemaun Shah alone can do this with his 120,000 Knights. Besides, why should I go to the other end of the world to employ fruitless and inglorious efforts on an obscure and barbarous theatre? When I shall have driven the English from India, will their power be shaken? Will they be the less on that account the matters of the Ocean, or the matters of the Mediterranean, in which hey dare to say that I am a prisoner? Does not their alliance with the Russians, for the purpose of deceiving the Turks, open to them a new world, for the purpose of glutting their avarice? No, it is not to the factories of Madras or Calcutta that I am to look for glory. It is not there that France, of which my army is a precious portion, can be useful. It is Europe that must be made the Theatre of the War, and since the Turk has been so imprudent as to rear the standard of it, it is in Constantinople that I will tear it from his hands. I will put Egypt in a state sufficient for its defence and preservation. I shall pave the way for my expedition, by gaining over to my side the Arabs, the Druses, and the Maronites. When master of Syria, I shall there form my magazines, and shall protect, by the mountains, my rapid march on the skirts of the desert. When arrived at the Mountains of Cilica, my position will be strengthened: my left wing will be supported by the sea, my right by the Euphrates. I shall be able to keep open my communications with the Dearbekir and Armenia, corn countries, and which are disaffected to the Grand Turk. I will call on the assistance of the Bedouins, Turcomans, Kurds, Armenians, and Persians, to the ruin of their common enemy: and, forming a great body of cavalry, I shall soon cross the six or seven hundred miles which separate me from the Bosphorus, which I may perhaps cross on rafts, and I will then enter Constantinople.
"There a new course is opened to me. I enter on the Theatre of Europe, and form a counterpoise to all the Powers. I shall be able either to establish or to strengthen the Republic of all Greece by Albania and Corfu. I shall be able to keep open the communication with Italy and France. I shall be able to raise Poland from its ruins, and to form a state there which may maintain the ancient balance fo the North. Russia will be kept in check, and will be apprehensive of internal disturbances. Austria, placed between two enemies, will have still greater cause to be alarmed, and will be apprehensive for the enfranchisement of Hungary. Prussia will resume her state of natural alliance with France and the new Empire of Byzantium. Denmark and Sweden, relieved from the pressure of Russia, will increase both in their means and their influence. Moscow, jealous of Petersburgh, will reclaim its independence. England, driven from he Archipelago, will quit the Mediterranean, and Governments, tired at length with so much war, battles, fire, massacre, crime, and follies, will then in a mass be ready to listen to peace. May I be able to see that happy day, and to see an obelisk in Constantinople bear this inscription: "To the French Army, the Conquerors of Italy, of Africa, and of Asia. To Buonaparte, Member of the National Institute, the Pacificator of Europe."
Saturday afternoon, Lieutenant-Colonel McQUARRIE, of the 73rd Regiment, arrived at the India-House, with overland dispatches from the Governments in India, for the Court of Directors. Colonel McQUARRIE left Bombay on the 19th of March, at which time the British possessions in India were in a state of perfect peace and tranquility, and improving prosperity.
On account of the war with the Turks, Col. McQUARRIE was under the necessity of adopting a long and circuitous route from Bussora: traveling thence through Arabia, Curdistan, Persia, and by the Caspian, from Anzeley to Astracan, and thence through Russia, and by the Baltic to England. The plague having made its appearance lately in the city of Astracan, he was obliged to perform thirty-five days quarantine at different places between the mouth of the river Wolga and the city of Moscow, before he was permitted to approach the latter, and finally prosecute his journey.
Colonel McQUARRIE came to Yarmouth in the Calypso sloop of war, and is the bearer of dispatches from the Emperor of PERSIA.
The Persian Government has appointed an Ambassador to Bombay, to convey to the India Company assurances of its friendship. The Minister, MIRZA RIZA COOLY, has been nominated to this mission, for which great preparations have been made.
The King of Persia is extremely desirous that his subjects should be instructed in the European discipline, and the operations of the armies superintended by the English officers. It is said, that when Gen. Malcolm was about to depart, the King offered, upon condition he would remain and conduct the campaign against the Russians, to give him his daughter in marriage, create him a Prince, with remainder to the throne should Prince Abbas Mirza leave no issue. The prince is said to have joined his father in these solicitations. An army of observation, comprising of 25,000 men, was forming in Kurdistan, at having been discovered, from intercepted letters, that the Leaders of the Wachabees maintained a correspondence with the Russian Commanders, and had even proffered, upon certain conditions, to make a diversion in their favour.
Letters from Constantinople, of the 2nd January, state that official intelligence had been received in that capital, of the overthrow of the Wechabites, in several engagements, by the Egyptian forces commanded by one of the sons of Mahomed Aly Pacha; and that the latter, elated by his successes, and depending upon the favourable disposition of the Sheriff and inhabitants of Mecca, who had declared for the Grand Seignior, had marched straight to that holy city, with the intention of chasing from thence the implacable enemies of the Faith and of the State. This intelligence had diffused general joy at Constantinople – prayers were ordered in the mosques, and the Imans [sic] and Doctors of the Law had publicly declared, that the expulsion of the Wechabites from Mecca, coupled with he birth of an heir to the Ottoman Throne, must be considered as indications that the Divine wrath was removed, that Providence would again bless with success the arms of the Faithful when employed against Infidels, and restore the Empire to its pristine splendour and its former limits. So anxious were all classes in Constantinople for the receipt of advices announcing the re-occupation of Mecca, and so certain were they of that event taking place, that thousands had imposed upon themselves vows of abstaining from all animal food, of sleeping in the open streets, &c. until they were received. However ridiculous this fanaticism may appear, there is no doubt that the success of the enterprise would decide the Turkish Government against accepting the terms of peace offers by Russia; and equally certain is ti that a first appeal to arms, under such circumstances, would be answered by crowds of men rushing from the Asiatic provinces, to enlist under the banners of the Sultan, and swelling the Ottoman force to an incredible amount.
From the above letters we learn that the troubles in Kurdistan have terminated; and that Nahal and Jumbo, strong forts in the Peninsula of the Arabs, have been conquered from he Wechabites.
Letters from Constantinople, of the 2nd January, state, that official intelligence had been received in that capital, of the overthrow of the Wechabites, in several engagements, by the Egyptian forces commanded by one of the sons of Mahomed Aly-Pacha; who had marched straight to Mecca with the intention of chasing them from thence. It is also stated that the troubles in Kurdistan had terminated; and that Nahal and Jumbo, strong forts in the Peninsula of the Arabs, had been conquered from the Wechabites.
Offhand mention of Curdistan when describing vast geographic areas,
CONSTANTINOPLE, Nov. 24.
The Ministers of the Porte, during the last fortnight, have had meetings extraordinarily frequent; sometimes at the house of the Mufti, sometimes at the house of the Caimacan, to deliberate upon the situation of the empire. Hitherto nothing has transpired to the public respecting these deliberations; it is, however, presumed, that these conferences have had for their principal object, the affairs of Servia and Widdin, as well as the troubles of the Government of Bagdad, where Abdurahman Pacha, who has lately been driven from Kurdistan, has, in concert with the Persians, renewed hostilities. The Grand Vizier, to judge by what had passed, does not intend quickly to quit Schumla. It is true, that it would be difficult for him to quit the capital, before the negotiations with the Servians are terminated, and order and tranquility restored in some way or other in the neighbourhood of Widdin.
The Edinburgh Encylopedia mentioned Kurdistan,
as recorded here: The Caledonian Mercury, 1814 Apr 21
Important intelligence from Constantinople is said to have arrived. Advices from Aleppo, of the 17th of February, had been received there, stating that an express had arrived from Bagdad of a battle having been fought between the deposed Governor, Essoad Pacha, and the new Governor Daud Pacha, in which the first obtained a complete victory, and possessed himself of the important town of Solimanich, in the province of Curdistan; and the latter totally defeated, found safety only in precipitate retreat. The same accounts inform us, that important changes have taken place in the Turkish Ministry. The Reis Effendi, Mahomed Seida, has been dismissed from office, and is succeeded by the Marshal of the Empire, Mahomed Salyhd Dachanjb. [spellings double-checked]
The Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh), 1817 May 12; also mentioned in The Morning Post (London), 1817 May 06; The Royal Cornwall Gazette, 1817 May 10; The Hull Packet, 1817 May 13; and The Leeds Mercury, 1817 May 10
RUINS OF BABYLON
In the course of November last, Mr. Rich, accompanied by Sir Robert Kenporter and Mr. Bellien, made an excursion to Hilla, and the remains of ancient Babylon, from which they returned to Bagdad on the 24th of November. All the heaps of ruins and bricks were examined with the greatest care. Besides the very detailed drawings, Sir Robert drew in the presence of Mr. Rich, a plan of the whole extensive plain, upon a plan much larger than it had been previously taken by Mr. Rich. The ruin of Al Haima and Namrud, were also marked upon it, by which the learned will be able to judge whether these two ruins were within the city walls of ancient Babylon, or not; and to see whether Major Bennet or Mr. Rich is in the right. Sir Robert has doubtless left Bagdad, without stopped there, and proceeded by war of Kurdistan to Tabris, whence he returns to St. Petersburg.
CONSTANTINOPLE, DEC. 18.
For some days past tranquility has been a little restored in the capital, although the streets are encumbered with armed Mussulmans. The Austrian and English Ministers continue their negociations, [sic] but nothing decisive is known. The Porte has published, that the Schah of Persia has disavowed the declaration of war on the part of his son, and the latter's invasion of Kurdistan, but little credit is given to this intelligence; the Persians being still encamped near Ezerum on the 26th Nov.
After a panorama of interesting insights about relations with Russia and France, this piece is interesting for how it describes Curdistan as a lawless frontier province and perhaps significant only for its position between the two empires,
It is said that the hostilities between the Turks and Persians originated in an act of aggression, committed by the subjects of the Porte inhabiting the frontier provinces. The subjects here alluded to are probably the inhabitants of Curdistan; but they are a lawless race, and their subjection to the Porte is little better than nominal. However it was confidently expected at Constantinople that a reconciliation would soon be effected between the two Powers.
Brussels papers have been received to the 27th. Accounts from Egypt mention that hostilities have ceased between Persia and Turkey, but that the armies still retained their positions. The negociation is carried on at Teheran. The Schah of Persia, it is said, demands from the Porte the cession of the province of Curdistan, and several provinces of Armenia.
There is a report of a negociation opened since last autumn, having for its object the conclusion of a Treaty of Alliance between Persia and Russia. The war still continues between the Porte and Persia: the latter, it is said, demands the definitive cession of Curdistan and Armenia. The PACHA of Bagdad, it is added, has determined to unite his forces to those of Persia, whose protection he acknowledges. – Idem.
Interesting notes about how poorly-understood Kurdistan was and the role of the traveler in soft diplomacy. Notably, this would ultimately prove very true with the activities of later travelers including Bell. It also perhaps is an important turning-point in the visibility Kurdistan within Europe, with Mr. Rich opening the gates of public interest for further travelogues and studies. This did not occur during his lifetime. Narrative of a Residence in Koordistan was published posthumously more than a decade after his death, in 1836, by his widow (they were traveling together much of the time, it is indicated in the article below). Mr. and Mrs. Rich contributed much to public discourse.
As Mr. Rich, the subject of the following memoir, was during the early part of his life closely connected with this city, we have no doubt our insertion of the extract from the Bombay Courier will prove highly interesting to many of our fellow-citizens to whom he was well known.
By a recent arrival from the Gulph of Persia, we have the painful intelligence that Mr. Claudius James Rich, late Resident at Bagdad, died at Sheraz, on the 5th of October.
The life of this remarkable man will, we trust, be the subject of a memoir from the pen of some person competent to do justice to his memory. Our information only extends to a few facts, but these are sufficient to make us deeply deplore his loss, both on public and private grounds. Mr. Rich was appointed to the East India Company's civil service in 1803; and, young as he then was, from his singular proficiency in the oriental languages, and to afford him an opportunity of perfecting himself in the knowledge, he was named assistant to Mr. Locke, who was at that time proceeding as Consul-General to the Mediterranean. In the company of this elegant scholar and accomplished gentleman, he visited some parts of Spain and Italy, and on Mr. Locke's premature death at Malta, proceeded to Constantinople. He soon left that capital for Smyrna, where he made some stay, till appointed to act as assistant to Col. Misset, the Company's Consul in Egypt. In Alexandria and Cairo he completed his knowledge of the Arabic; and thence finally proceeded, through Syria, by way of Damascus, Aleppo, and Bagdad, to his destination at Bombay. He arrived in 1807, and was in a few weeks nominated by Government, on account of his superior acquirements (particularly his knowledge of the Turkish and Arabic languages), to the station of Resident of Bagdad. This appointment the Court of Directors not only confirmed, but added to it the Residency of Bussorn. Never was trust committed to a person more qualified from the judicious exercise of it. Mr. Rich quite understood the character of those amongst whom he resided, and on many occasions, but particularly on one that occurred immediately before he left Bagdad, he supported the reputation of the country he represented, with a spirit and firmness, that taught both he price of the place and his subjects, that an Englishman is not to be intimidated because he is alone. Such conduct is calculated to make an impression, that will be found in times of emergency of more real utility to our interest, than all the treaties that can be negociated with ignorant and half barbarous nations.
Mr. Rich was lately appointed to one of the best situations which a civil servant of his rank could hold at Bombay; but he believed, and with reason, that his temporary services might be required at Bagdad, and under this expectation he delayed his departure, and remained in a country where the Epidemic Cholera was making dreadful ravages, until he fell a sacrifice to his zeal, his death being caused by a violent attack of that fatal disorder. Mr. Rich was indefatigable in his researches and collection as a scholar and antiquarian. We have reason to believe that his collection of oriental manuscripts, and that of his coins and antiquities (particularly those found during his numerous visits to ancient Babylon), are very extensive and select. We anxiously hope that these, as well as his own manuscripts, which are, we understand, very valuable, will be brought to public notice. He had made considerable investigations on the spot, for an account of the remains of Nineveh, Ctesiphon, and Selucia, the ancient capitals of Asia. But the work on which he most valued himself, was an account of Curdistan, for which he collected materials during a residence he was compelled to make in that little-known country, to escape the heats of Bagdad. Besides the literary and local information common to such works, he had in readiness materials for a map constructed from astronomical observation, made to ascertain the position of the chief towns and highest mountains of the country, which have been most erroneously laid down in our best maps. The merit which belongs to every man who, placed by duty in remote and almost unknown countries, seizes the opportunities he enjoys to promote general knowledge, was greatly enhanced in his case by the liberal manner in which he communicated, not only with his own countrymen, but with foreigners of learning and reputation. Several of his essays have been published in the most celebrated Journals of the Continent, and we are gratified to find a catalogue of a part of his oriental library in some of the late numbers of Les Mines de l'Orient, a work edited at Vienna. We attach importance to such communications, from the liberality of their character, and from their tendency to remove an impression, very common regarding Englishmen in the East, who are accused of being indifferent to the cause of literature and science. Amongst other names which may be brought forward to refute this unjust charge, that of Mr. Rich will, we trust, when his efforts are made known, stand prominent.
Such are the claims which the late Mr. Rich had established on his country and on society, as a public servant and a man of literature and liberal pursuits. This may hardly be deemed a fit place to dwell on his passionate cultivation of the fine arts, the elegance of his manners and address, or his various personal accomplishments; but we may safely add of him, that his virtues were equal to his talents. His seclusion at Bagdad from all European society, except that of a single medical gentleman and of his lady (the eldest daughter of Sir James Macintosh), who for near fourteen years was the companion of his solitude, caused him to be intimately known to few; but the ties were stronger from being limited, and render his loss to those nearly connected with him the greater and the more afflicting.
Advertisement for Sir Robert Porter's Travels and Curdistan,
The Morning Chronicle (London), 1822 Jun 29
Fascinating account of his role in bringing visuals of the mostly mysterious region to the British public through his watercolors, from the
Extract of a letter from Odessa, dated the 21st of September, O.S., 1822, received in Glasgow on Saturday, via Marseilles.
"Great consternation reigns among the Turks, in consequence of advices just received that the Persians had exterminated the Turkish army in Kurdistan, and that the inhabitants of that province had joined the enemy. From other quarters, news equally unfavourable had been received – that the Wechabites, having again collected a considerable force, were threatening Mecca itself; while, at the same time, the Greeks were obtaining fresh advantages over the Turkish and Egyptian armies in the Morea. It appears the former have got possession of the pass of Thermopylae, which prevents all egress in that direction. The Greek fleet, in the number of 100 sail, and thirty fire-ships, have also burned some more Turkish men of war in the Gulf of Calamata.
"By accounts from Syria we learn that the western provinces are at present a scene of desolation, in consequence of an earthquake which continued from the 2d to the 4th of August, during which period the flourishing cities of Aleppo, Antioch, Seyd, and Alexandretta, have been almost entirely laid in ruins, destroying a great number of inhabitants. These different events following each other rapidly, have led the Turks to believe themselves the immediate objects of divine vengeance. The Sultan Mahmud has issued a firman prohibiting the use of all expensive garments, of all Cachmere shawls, fine pelisses, gold and silver buttons, &c. By this firman the subjects of the Porte are required to bring without delay all there silver plate to the mint, where the proprietors will be paid for it at the rate of 22 to 23 Paras per drachm, for what can at present fetch 45 Paras. In the meantime the Greeks are again endeavouring to escape from Constantinople, by offering large sums of money to the masters of such vessels as they are able to communicate with, who occasionally succeed in concealing them, in spite of three rigorous visits from the Turks, to which they are obliged to submit, before receiving permission to enter the Black Sea.
TREATY OF PEACE BETWEEN TURKEY AND PERSIA
Constantinople, Oct. 25.
The treaty of peace between Persia and the Porte, concluded on the 25th July 1823, has been published.
The preamble, as usual, recites the names and titles of the Plenipotentiaries of both powers.
The basis of the treaty provides that the stipulations made in 1744, relative to the ancient frontiers of both empires, shall be observed, as well as the stipulations of former treaties relative to pilgrims, merchandise, fugitives, prisoners, and the residence of Ambassadors at both Courts respectively.
All places on the frontier of the Ottoman empire of which the Persians took possession in the curse of the war, are to be restored, in their actual site, within the term of sixty days. The prisoners taken on both sides are to be restored mutually.
By the first article it is provided, that neither power shall interfere in the internal affairs of the other; that the Persian Government shall in no wise intermeddle in the districts of Bagdad and Curdistan, nor assume any sort of authority over the present or former occupiers of the countries. Such persons as may pass from the frontiers of one empire to another, for the purpose of temporary sojournment, shall be subjected to the usual tribute and regulations. Persian pilgrims to Mecca and Medina shall be free from all tribute, and be treated with all convenient attention, according to their rank. The subjects of both empires shall be liable to a duty of no more than four per cent. to be paid once only. The trade in tobacco pipes from Schiraz to Constantinople shall be free. If the Kurdes shall pass the Persian frontier, and give themselves to pillage, the Turkish authorities shall endeavor to prevent it, and to punish the guilty. If the Turkish authorities should fail in their efforts, the protection of the Porte shall be withdrawn from these tribes. The said tribes shall be free to transport themselves into Persia, but not to return again into Turkey.
The seventh article provides, that there shall be appointed to the two Courts respectively new Ambassadors every third year.
Notable in this article is how clearly the Kurdistan region – a relative power vacuum, perhaps – is crushed between the Ottoman and Persian empires. Kermashahti clearly refers to Kermanshah but Kennashah is more ambiguous to identify.
PERSIA AND TURKEY
BAGDAD, JULY 3. 7. 18.
There are serious apprehensions of a fresh rupture between Persia and the Pacha of Bagdad. It is said that Abbas Mirza will not agree to the treaty of peace till the Pacha has paid large sums of money which he demands of him.
This is taking Daoud Pacha on his weak side; he delays as much as possible; meantime troops are marching on both sides. Several battalions have left Bagdad, taking the road to Curdistan.
The Turks have taken possession of Solimenia, which the Persians have voluntarily abandoned. It is supposed they repent, and want to have it back again. It will be the centre of military operations, if war should break out between the two nations.
At present every thing is quiet in Bagdad and the environs; nothing passes in Curdistan; the two parties are negociating, and all differences will probably be amicably adjusted.
Daoud Pacha dislikes war, and in other things has great address. The Prince of Kermashah, his nearest neighbor, is not able of himself to give him any uneasiness, and with money it is easy to divert the King of Persia from all thoughts of war or invasion.
It is very certain that Prince Abbas Murza, at the head of an army of 20,000 or 25,000 men, has seized on a part of Curdistan. It is still said that the Persians act hostilely merely to obtain payment of the debt which they claim from Daoud, Pacha of Bagdad; but as one incident may lead to another, apprehensions are still entertained of a renewal of the war between the two nations.
Meantime the Minister of War of Kenneshak, who has come to this city on account of the removal of the body of his late master, Prince Ali Mirza, is still at Bagdad, where he is treated as a friend by the Pacha and his officers.
Interesting note about Silemani beyond the capital of Kurdistan, although it seems like an abrupt mention,
ODESSA, SEPTEMBER 22. – According to accounts from Constantinople of 13th September, the hopes that the Divan has entertained for many months of the Egyptian fleet begin to vanish. It seemed to be suspected, that the artful Mehemet Ali Pacha never thought of recovering the Morea for the Porte. The period of the departure of the fleet from Alexandria, which was precisely during the dog days, was enough to excite suspicion, and this has been greatly increased since by the lukewarm conduct of Ibrahim Pacha. Meantime, reports had been circulated in the capital of the dispersion of this expedition, which, however, seem to rest on no sure foundation. However, the dissolution of the Asiatic army as Scala Nuova is one of the most important events of this campaign, and, perhaps, decisive of its issue. There was reason to expect this dissolution, as some hordes had already deserted. It is the Persian Prince, Governor of Kermanschah, who has committed the first hostilities against the Porte, and occupied with his troops Sulemania, the capital of Curdistan.
Hysterical description of the play,
An overflowing audience was attracted to this house last night, to witness the first permanence of The Enchanted Courser; or, The Sultan of Curdistan. It will be fresh in the recollection of our juvenile readers, that the story of The Enchanted Courser is taken from one of their favourite classics, no less an authority than The Arabian Nights' Entertainments, and we can assure them that neither the splendid fancy of the writer, not the youthful exaggeration of their own wonder-struck minds, could picture any thing more brilliant of the land of enchantment, than was represented tot he eye at this theatre by no higher agency than that of scene painters, decorators, dressers, and other ministers of the property room 7 wardrobe. Though we are far from approving of the taste which managers have somehow or other imbibed themselves, and afterwards attributed to the public, in favor of the display of equestrian feats upon the boards of this once celebrated Theatre, we shall abstain from any severe strictures, in the present instance, in consideration of the enormous expense to which they have gone in the getting up the most brilliant, perhaps, of all the brilliant spectacles with which our stage has of late years abounded. But where the introduction of their favorite horsemanship has evidently interfered with the dramatic effect of the piece itself, we shall notice the defect, in the hope that it may be corrected hereafter. The drama opens with a scene in which the Sophi of Persia (Mr. ARCHER), and Abnazan, the Prince (Mr. PENLEY), receive the homage of their subjects, preparatory to the marriage of the latter with the Princess of Cachemire (Mrs. WEST). In the midst of the solemnity, Almalic, the Enchanter (Mr. WALLACK) rushes in, preceded by his slave Babouc) (Mr. HARLEY). On being asked, according to the worthy custom of Eastern Monarchs, what present he brings to offer, he describes the properties of his horse in very glowing and poetic terms. The Sophi is captivated by the description, and still more so on beholding the noble animal, winged and caparisoned for a journey, either on earth or on air. But Almalic's present is like a courtier's kindness, burthened with a condition not a little profitable to himself. He requires in return for his horse, the hand of the Princess of Cachemire. His terms are refused, even the qualities of his horse are doubted, and the Prince, in his anxiety to put the mettle of the animal to the test, mounts himself, and is carried above the clouds in a moment. Perhaps the only objectionable point in the whole of the scenic arrangement, is the manner in which this piece of enchantment is contrived. The horse gallops off the stage, and presently a small figure of a hose, with its rider, is seen to ascend; bu the ascent takes place too near the audience, instead of being as far as possible in the background, where the deception could be rendered more complete. There is also a strong objection to the figure of the horse, which, instead of being represented with its limbs stretched out in the eagerness to advance, as the commonest print would have suggested, is allowed to dangle his hoofs in the air as if all life had deserted the lower extremities the moment he began to make use of his wings. If we appear to be fastidious about trifles, we can only say, that the fault is not ours, and that a large portion of the spectators manifested their disapprobation of this part of the machinery. But to return – the Prince having disappeared, as we have stated, the Sophi, naturally enough, inquires of the Enchanter when he will come back, and is answered – Never. Indignant at the treachery thus confessed, he orders the offender to be executed at the string of the sun, but just as the sentence is about to be put in execution, the Prince returns in safety, and the Enchanter is pardoned and liberated. The first use he makes of his freedom is to hasten to the Valley of Roses, where the Princes of Cachemire expects her lover, who hastens to the spot, but only with mortal speed. The Enchanter, on the other hand, avails himself of his flying coursers, anticipates the Prince, and bears away his lovely prize to the Garden of Enchantment. Thus alone with his intended victim, his purposes are at first arrested by the seeming approach of death, which threatens to make her his prey. By degrees her senses revive, and he avails himself of her restorations to display his power before her. Music obeys his command, and the place in which they stand is transformed into a sensual paradise. Dance and song are next administered; but the Princess, faithful to her first impression, is not to be so won. The last appeal is to force, but even in that he is frustrated. A ghost appears, the ghost of his brother whom he had murdered. His powers are paralyzed at the sight – he falls in a swoon. In the mean while the Prince, who had contrived by some means to get into the good graces of Babouc, the Enchanter's slave, arrives at the Palace of Curdistan, or the Enchanted Garden. By a stratagem of Babouc, he is introduced as a Physician to the Princess; but just as they are about to make their escape, the Enchanter interrupts them, and Babouc, either to save his life, or to preserve his influence, declares the name of the Prince, whom he says he had purposely introduced, that he might betray him. An encounter between the Prince and the Enchanter follows of course. The Prince falls to the ground, but before the Enchanter has time to dispatch him, his brother's ghost appears again, and produces the same paralyzing effect as in the former instance. We now recollect that we were mistaken, in supposing there was but one objection to the contrivance of the machinery. Another occurs here. The Ghost is badly managed in this part; it is struck into a small aperture some feet from the ground, which has more the appearance of a cupboard than any thing else. We have English feeling enough about us to consider such a place too comfortable for a ghost to inhabit, and too well provided with pleasant associations to permit our terrors to interfere. The drama is by this time worked up to its crisis. The Prince and Princess are both in the power of their enemy, who soon recovers the effect of his supernatural awe; but before he can renew his efforts, the arrival of the Sophi with his troops, both horse and foot, is announced to him. Going himself to defend his castle at one point, he commands his slave to repair to the other, taking with him a talisman, of great virtue in such extremities. But the slave is faithful to his friend, and hostile to his oppressor. He dismissed part of the guard on one pretence, another on a different one, and thus gets rid of all but two, whom they can easily manage between them. Then comes the siege, the best part of which is the first advance of the soldiery with lighted torches from the back of the stage. The battle itself, in spite of the horses, was a tame and ineffective representation, and though the firing of the palace was magnificently arranged, Mr. STANFIELD would have fought the engagement a thousand times better on canvass than the living mimicky of the performers accomplished on this occasion. A solitary musquet was now and then discharged, and the horses were never so quiet, nor the riders so composed, as in the heat and turmoil of the fight. It is almost unnecessary to add, that the Enchanter was finally subdued, and the lovers restored to each other's arms, after achieving a full triumph over the foes of virtue and the Persian dominions. The introduction of the horses, as we have already intimated, was sometimes, at least, injurious to the effect of the Piece. In general the processions were protracted too long, and the appetite for splendour became surfeited. Without entering into particulars, there is one obvious reason why the acting should not be interrupted too often for purposes of mere show and parade. An audience cannot be expected to listen to a play as a lawyer pores over his authorities with a painful effort to impress them on his memory. They go for amusement, not for labour; and frequent interruptions disturb, if not irritate the mind, by breaking up the connexion on which the interest of an acting Drama must mainly depend. These processions should be shortened, in order that the scenes might lie more closely together, and present more the appearance of a consistent whole. It is to the neglect of this that we attribute the comparative coldness with which some passages were listened to which had otherwise the energy to strike. One of these was a description of the strength and loftiness of the Magician's haunt. There were likewise some lines of poetry, the effect of which was lost by the previous din and clatter from which the ears of he [sic] audience had not sufficiently recovered to admit the feeble appeals of the human voice. If proper care be taken to remove the defects to which we have alluded – to lessen or limit the processions – to give more bustle to the fighting part of the battle, for the tumbling of the tower was well enough, and to substitute something better for the horse in the air, and the ghost in the cupboard, it is probably that a drama, got up with such uncommon splendor, and written with a pen of no ordinary force, though employed on such a subject, will make its way to success. The performers exerted themselves to the utmost. Mr. WALLACK was admirable in the Enchanter; Mr. HARLEY, in the salve, displayed his usual vivacity; Mrs. WEST, as the heroine, was interesting and impressive, as the occasion required; and Miss POVEY, in a subordinate character, sang a few simple airs with taste and feeling. – The horsemanship appeared to most advantage at the commencement, but it is too much to expect a lively picture of a battle without going to right down earnestness. We have not time to give any description of the scenery, nor could we with any advantages of time succeed in describing it with accuracy. To be duly appreciated it must be seen, and we trust that Managers will see their way sufficiently to their own interest, to adopt those improvements which will add to the inclination of every one to go and judge for themselves. The house was crowded to excess, and the audience was brilliant as well as numerous.
Duplicated here: The Observer (London), 1824 Nov 01
An utterly scathing review: The Examiner (London), 1824 Oct 31
The new Tale of Magic called "The Enchanted Courser; or, The Sultan of Curdistan," was brought out last night according to announcement. The story of the Enchanted Horse in the Arabian Nights is the foundation of the piece, which has been got up with prodigal attention to scenic effect, and general costume. M. DUCROW and his troop, who have been so attractive in pieces of this kind, were announced to perform some very extraordinary equestrian evolutions, but like the reign of other kinds of animal magnetism, this seems to be falling into something like decay. Animals of various descriptions have had their day upon the stage; but even elephants maintained only a transient popularity. The Sophi of Persia, however, could hardly have a Court without them, and four were accordingly produced last night; opening through their hind quarters fresh roads to immortality for all the rising "DAWS" of the day. With respect to the horses, they have now been so much seen at the two national theatre, besides their regular performances upon their own legitimate ground at Astley's, that the public expect more than a repetition of their former evolutions. In the "Enchanted Courser" they perform fewer and less imposing feats than in any of the other pieces in which they were so much admired. This necessarily produced disappointment, and inclined the audience not to view the other parts of the piece in the best possible temper. The following is a sketch of the plot: –
Almalek (Mr. WALLACK), the Sultan of Curdistan, a Magician, who has ascended the throne by the murder of his brother. The late Sultan, feeling his power insecure, determines to sustain himself by the alliance of the Princess of Cachemire (Mrs. W. WEST). Almalek is bound to the evil spirit, but the condition of his aid is, that no violence shall be used for obtaining the Princess; he brings the enchanted courser, who has the power of flying through the air, as a purchase for her hand, but is rejected. He finally carries her off by violence upon the flying horse, and is pursed by the Prince of Persia (Mr. PENLEY) to his fortress in the mountains of Curdistan, where he is slain.
Some of the scenery is of the most beautiful description, and a grand procession was managed with great order and effect. The literary part of this class of the drama is not generally held amenable to rigid criticism, because it is made subservient to the splendour and pageantry intended to feed the eye alone.
Some of the listings below mention that one set was the mountain fortress of Curdistan, suggesting a growing knowledge of the general topography in the region,
The Morning Chronicle (London), 1824 Oct 28
The Times (London), 1824 Oct 30
The Morning Chronicle (London), 1824 Nov 01
The Morning Chronicle (London), 1824 Nov 02
The Morning Chronicle (London), 1824 Nov 04
The Morning Chronicle (London), 1824 Nov 05
In 1825 between July and September, there were many listings of the Encyclopedia Metropolitana, which had a good discourse on Curdistan.
Letters from Bagdad, dated June 10, say – "The Tigris this year has considerably overflowed, and the city of Bagdad is, as it were, in the midst of a vast morass. While I write, the waters are diminishing, but we are not yet in security. The city was much in danger of being inundated. Many houses have fallen down, among others a part of the palace of the Pacha. The rains which have fallen in Upper Mesopotamia, and the melting of the snows on the mountains of the Medea and Kurdistan, occasioned this little deluge. Numerous Arab families, who live in Lower Mesopotamia, narrowly escaped being buried in the waters; and it is said that the mass of the nation were only saved by a sacrifice of individuals. In the midst of the confusion and despair, human bodies were sought for to oppose a barrier to the waters, and men, women, children, and animals, were thrown on it. Provisions have tripled in price, and the Arabs and Kurds are everywhere in a statue of insurrection. French paper.
A letter from Bagdad, dated October 8th relates the history of one of those rebellions which are so common in the Turkish Empire. Meemet Riaya, a Georgian who had been in the service of Daut Pacha, of Bagdad, and was formerly defeated in an action with the Persians being afraid to return to his master, put himself in a state of rebellion, and after wandering sometime in Persia, sometimes in Kurdistan, and sometimes among the Arab tribes, at length declared that he had been appointed by a firman from Constantinople Pacha of Bagdad, and took possession of the city of Hilla, the ancient Babylon, and there fortified himself, with an army of six thousand men. A state of hostilities ensued. Philip Doria, an Italian, who held a hand in the army of the constitutionalists of Spain, happening to pass on his way to Persia offered his services to Daut Pacha, which were accepted and he was placed at the head of the troops of Bagdad. The false Pacha gave him battle in the suburbs of Hills, and was defeated. He retired to the city, which Doria bombarded with such success, directing the pieces with his own skilful [sic] hand, that the rebels abandoned it, and Doria entered it in triumph, and found there a rich booty. The rebels lost a thousand men in killed and wounded, and a family of ten persons were killed by the explosion of a single bomb. The town of Mamuzein, which had also revolted a few months before, and had caused the death of three governors which Daut had sent them, was so much alarmed that it immediately offered to capitulate. Doria had acquired great credit by these successes, had been rewarded by rich presents and had been received into the service of the Pacha, with a fixed pay of a thousand Piasters per month.
In 1826 starting in October (and continuing into 1827) there were listings for Personal Narrative of a Journey from India to England, by Bussorah, Bagdad, the Ruins of Babylon, Curdistan, the Court of Persia, the Banks of the Caspian Sea, Astrakhan, Nishney Novogored, Moscow, and St. Petersburgh, in the year 1824 by Captain George Keppell. This represents an important beginning of the Kurdistan travelogue genre.
The following account of the high character which our countrymen bear generally throughout Persia, is extracted from the Hon. George Keppel's narrative of Travels in 1824 through Curdistan to Tehraun, just published:–
"Mr. Lamb wishing to draw a bill upon Bagdad for the sum of 100 tomauns, for our common expenditure, sent a servant into the town to know whether any of the shraufs (merchants) would be willing to give him money for it. After a short time, a miserable half-starved looking wretch made his appearance, and said he would be willing to advance any sum we might require: at first we were inclined to laugh at his proposal, thinking from his appearance and garb, that he was more like an object of charity than a lender of money. He soon undeceived us: for disencumbering himself of a few of his rags, he unstrapped from his body a black leathern belt, and having cut it open, counted out the 100 tomauns in gold. Mr. Lamb wrote a drat in English, upon a merchant in Bagdad, which this man took in lien of his money, contenting himself with merely asking the name of the merchant on whom the bill was drawn, and declaring himself to be the party obliged: for, said he, "If I am robbed, I shall at least be spared this piece of paper." While we were wondering, both at his ability to serve us, and his confidence in our honesty (for we could easily have deceived him) he said he had had too many proofs of English probity to entertain any alarm on that head. "The Feringhees (Franks) are not so worthy of being trusted, but the Ingreez (Englishmen) have never been known to deceive."
Not directly related to Mesopotamia, but useful about Kurdistan. The article below speaks of fighting in Armenia between the Persians (via Kurdish cavalry) and the Russians (via Cossack cavalry) which would ultimately lead to Armenia falling from Persian control to Russian control,
GAZETTE EXTRAORDINARY. – NEWS FROM THE ARMY IN GEORGIA.
St. PETERSBURGH, MAY 7. – General Puskevitsch having assumed, on the 29th of March, the chief command of the corps of the Caucasus, immediately ordered the necessary arrangements to accelerate the march of the vanguard, which was to get into the province of Erivan, under the command of General Benkendorff. Notwithstanding the numerous obstacles caused by heavy falls of snow and copious rains the vanguard composed of seven battalions of infantry, a company of light artillery, and two regiments of Cossacks, succeeded in passing, on the 6th of April, Mounts Akzbiuk and Rozobdal. [Could not find these mountains mentioned elsewhere, but seem to be in modern-day Aremania.] General Benkendorff proceeded towards Etchmiadzine, and occupied it without having experienced any resistance, having met with no enemy, except in the vicinity of the villages Aiglanion, where the Persians, covered by their walls, opened a well-sustained fire on the detachment of the head of the column; but a few cannon-shot, and a decisive charge, executed by Major Youdine with two companions of the infantry regiment of Schirvan, put the enemy to flight, and the villages were immediately occupied. The Kurdish cavalry, dismounted, opened a fire of small arms on the reinforcement sent to support the head of the column, but was every where repulsed by the tirailleurs of the regiment of carbineers.
The baggage of the vanguard arrived on the 15th, without accident, at Etchmiadzine, though the enemy attempted several times to attack it; but the measures taken by Majors Mintchenko and Belfort baffled all their attempts.
In the monastery of Etchmiadzine a supply of provisions was found, sufficient for the whole detachment for five or six days. The venerable Narses, Archbishop of the Arminians, notwithstanding his great age, followed the army, and by his conduct gave the best example to his countrymen.
Leaving at Etchmiadzine the 2d battalion of the infantry regiment of Schirvan, two cannon, and a company of Cossacks, under command of Lieut.-Colonel Volginsky, General Benkendorff marched, on the 16th of April, to reconnoitre Sardar Abad, a new Persian fortress, situated 20 wersts from Etchmiadzine, on the left of the road of Talyne. At the same time he detached three companies of the regiment of Schirvan towards Erivan, with a view to draw off the attention of enemy, and particularly to fatigue the Kurdish cavalry, which occupied the road of Sardar Abad. In fact this cavalry marched towards Erivan, and there was some skirmishing between it and the three companies above mentioned.
At one in the afternoon, General Benkendorff met with the Kurds to the number of 10,000 horse, commanded by Hassan Khan, a famous partisan, brother to the Sardar of Erivan. Three companies of Cossacks of the regiment of Karpoff 2d, and two companies of that of Andreiff, supported by our cannon, and two companies of the regiment of infantry of Tiflis, following the example set them by their Officers, rushed upon the enemy with extraordinary intrepidity; in a moment the Kurdish cavalry was put to flight, and pursued for seven wersts with much loss. Amongst the killed were found the nephew of Hufsein, Aga of Kurdistan; and amongst the prisoners were Ismael Khan of Arderum, one of the confidential officers of the Sardar. The enemy lost in this affair 80 horsemen, and, for the first time since the beginning of the war, had not time to carry away the killed from the field of battle. The loss on our side was very inconsiderable. The wounds received by the Cossacks were chiefly from spears and sabres.
The charge of our irregular cavalry, in which General Benkendorff gave fresh proofs of brilliant courage, is the more remarkable, as it has proved to our Cossacks with what advantage they could engage the Kurds. The following officers particularly distinguished themselves on this occasion: – Col. Karroff, 2nd [illegible fourth letter, maybe Karioff or Karloff]; Count Tolstoy, Capt. of Cavalry, Aid-de-Camp to the Emperor, and the Aid-de-Camp of General Benkendorff, as well as the Georgian Prince Melikoff, who has brought to his Majesty the present report from the Commanders-in-Chief of the army of the Caucasus. The Georgians in general behaved with much intrepidity in this affair. On the same day, at seven in the evening, General Benkendorff, having made his detachment halt three wersts from Sardar Abad, advanced in person with four companies and four pieces of cannon towards that fortress, which he approached within musket shot, and opened a fire with shells, which damaged several buildings in the place, and caused great confusion. Colonel Gourko and Lieutenant Kotzebne distinguished themselves in this attack by their noble arrangements.
After having reconnoitred Sardar Abad, General Benkendorff returned the following day to Etchmiadzine. The convoys of provisions depart successively from Djelal Oglou. The second set out on the 24th April, escorted by the 39th Regiment of Chasseurs, two pieces of cannon, and 1,000 Cossacks. General Benkendorff intends, as soon as this convoy reaches him, to prosecute his offensive operations. – Extraordinary Supplement to the Journal of St. Petersburgh, May 19.
Petersburgh, Dec. 25.
The Northern Bee contains a letter from Tessudschi, on the banks of the Lake Urmio, dated the 17th November, of which the following is an extract: – While I was in General Benkendorf's detachment I was witness to one of the most remarkable events of our time – the arrival of Prince Abbas Mirza in the Russian camp. General Benkendorf was commissioned, first to receive Abbas Mirza, and then to show him the Russian troops on parade. The first reception took place at some wersts beyond Schewister, in a large plain near Lake Urmio. The Persian Prince, who was previously informed of the movements of the detachment of General Benkendorf, came to meet us, accompanied only by Fet-Ali Khan, two foreign officers (who had come from Teheran to join him), and two equerries. General Benkendorf detached a division of dragoons under Count Telstoi, to escort the Prince. Abbas Mirza rode along the front of the line, saluted the soldiers in Russian, and, when the General approached him, said, "I am very happy that you, General, who were the first that drew the sword against me this year, are also the first to come to meet me on the eve of peace." He then said with dignity, "Much time is required to form a nation to war. We are but beginners. You, too, have had your apprenticeship before you attained the degree of ability which you now possess. However it be, we shall henceforth live in peace. – "Yet," added he smiling, "is it not strange that I should come to you as a visitor in this country?"
Abbas Mirza requested General Benkendorf to show him the troops, which were drawn up in a line along the road, at the distance of half a werst from the place of meeting. He also begged us to introduce the General to the Princes of his suite. The Cossacks were at the head of the detachment, and the Prince desired to be introduced to their Commander, Colonel Schamschew. – Saluting him and all the Cossacks, he said, "These, I suppose, are your best cavalry." He was much struck at the sight of their infantry; on seeing the knapsacks, he said, shaking his head, "how can these people march with such a load; it is almost as heavy as the whole baggage of one of our horsemen." The artillery particularly excited his attention and curiosity. He rode along the front in order to examine the cannon, never failing to greet our soldiers, who cheerfully returned his salutation. A crowd of people from the neighbouring village thronged about our line; there were about three hundred Persian horsemen on the other side of the road, under the command of his son, a fine lad of about fifteen.
The Persian warriors had a gloomy look, and the feeling of mortified self love was painted on their countenances. – Abbas Mirza preserved his apparent gaiety during the whole time that he remained with us. He begged the General to let a Russian battalion file off before him. Before leaving us, he expressed his wish to see the Emperor of Russia and the Imperial Family. He said that he hoped peace would soon be concluded – that he would do his utmost to effect it. Lastly, he added, that he would write to the General, and that he hoped soon to see him in Russia.
Abbas Mirza, after having taken leave of us in the most affable manner, sent Fet Ali Khan to ask the General for a list of all persons who were with him, and to repeat the assurance of his regard.
I have given you, literally, the words of Abbas Mirza; but it is impossible to describe the nobleness of his manners, or the grace and affability with which he unites, with the dignity of a Sovereign, the animation of his countenance, and the unaffected smile, which scarcely permits any traces of care to be visible; his features are perfectly regular; his eyes large, lively, and penetrating, and his teeth fine; his complexion is brown and pale; his hair and long beard very black, and his costume was very simple, only his dagger was ornamented with valuable jewels. His horse, the finest I ever saw, had very rich harness, plated with solid gold. The prince is between 40 and 50 years of age, in a word, he is one of the extraordinary persons who make an indelible impression on those who see him. It is a pity he is surrounded with persons whose minds and understandings are not sufficiently elevated to second his views. All foreigners in Persia agree in doing him justice. His most earnest desire is to enlighten his people; but for this he wants energy, and the people Christianity. Prejudice opposes every thing that might be undertaken.
The weather is extremely fine. We are on the banks of a lake which resembles a sea, being 140 wersts in length, and 80 in breadth. It contains a great number of rocky islands, and in the distance we perceive the summits of the snowy mountains of Kurdistan. The inhabitants crowd round us with provisions and excellent fruit. We are treated even better than we were in Germany in 1813.
THE ARTS. – BRITISH GALLERY.
No. 509. "Banditti of Kurdistan assisting Georgians in surprising and carrying off Circassian Women." – (Vide the History of Persia, by Sir John Malcolm, Vol. II.) – By Mr. GEORGE HAYTER, Member of the Academies of Rome, Florence, Bologna, Venice, and Parma.
Among the most interesting works of modern art which have been produced for many years, this picture must hold a very high rank, from the circumstances of its representing a scene frequent in a distant part of the world, and with which the civilised state of Europe prevents our being acquainted, except when exhibited by painting or in history. The Artist, from his intimacy with Gentlemen who have travelled and resided in the East, has been enabled to convey, with the utmost truth of costume, the barbarous subject which he has chosen for the pencil which so ably represented the pathetic countenance of "Lady RUSSEL assisting at the Trial of her noble and oppressed Husband." We cannot conceal our surprise at seeing the same Artist delineating the Horses and Landscape Scenery with the same success with which he represented the Interior of the Old Bailey of 1683. The subject of the present Picture originated from a party of Circassians committing depredations on a Georgian village; the Georgians, unable to retaliate unassisted, engaged a party of Kurdistan soldiers (who are always willing to fight for any of the neighbouring Powers who pay them.) Thus increased in strength, they attacked the Circassian hamlet, and carried off the female inhabitants as hostages, until due reparation should be made for the injury they had sustained. The Picture represents the moment when the few Circassian men who were left guarding of the village had been overcome, and the women are being torn from their native homes, some in the utmost despair, preferring death to the brutal violence they dread; but one in the centre of the Picture, who appears willingly to accompany her sister, lead broken-hearted by the Georgian Chief, seems to plead and implore that more gentle means may be employed; while he assures her that they are taken as hostages, and not as slaves, but with firmness pursues his path. They are followed by a girl about twelve years old, whose fear induces her to rush towards rather than to avoid the danger which has fallen on her relations.
We find this Picture full of action and expression, the highest difficulties an Historical Painter has to cope with in his art. The only embarrassment of the spectator arises perhaps from the richness and force fo invention. We are left to hesitate which of the three principal groups is the better in composition, or which would singly have made the most pleasing centre for the whole – the Kurdish chieftain bearing away his struggling prize on the white horse, who bears with ease his double load; the tender affliction and supplication of the females in the centre group; or the violent despair of the third and leading group.
In point of composition, it may be considered as one of the most successful efforts of modern art; and the expression and action of the figures, varying from the graceful female from int he centre, to the brutal severity and coolness of their enemies, which, with the aged parents who are leaving the scene of the action, embrace almost every feeling the painter could have had exhibited in a single picture; while the second group, in the encore of the three horsemen, by the skill of the Artist relieve, but do not interfere with the principal interest of the Picture. The extraordinary richness and harmony of the coloring of the whole of the Picture exhibits the deepest knowledge of the art, and the beautiful drawing of every part evinces the greatest advantages to be derived from studying in Italy, where Mr. GEORGE HAYTER painted this Picture. It was, we understand, painted for the late Early of CARYSFORT. At his Sale, by order of the Executors of that Nobleman, it was purchased by a friend for the Artist, then in Italy, and subsequently sent to the Artist at Paris, where, after a year's absence from his Picture, he had the advantage of working many weeks on it, before its present to its present station in the British Gallery, where, with all its improvements, it is now exposed to public criticism, and perhaps, without meaning offence to this justly-celebrated Artist, for the purpose of sale.
When we recollect the remunerative compliments paid to this Artist by the Duke of BEDFORD for his splendid historical effort, the Trial of Lord RUSSELL; and by AGAR ELLIS, Esq. for his laborious production, the Trial of Queen CAROLINE, equalling in amount three thousand pounds, it will not excite surprise to learn, that the picture we have noticed has also found its way into another collection of celebrity.
A less flattering mention,
Banditti of Kurdistan carrying off Circassian Women. Mr G. HAYTER has painted better pictures than this, which, considering the soul-moving nature of the subject, wants energy and passion.
FOR THE SPECTATOR.
Turkey. – A short sketch of this country, whose fate at present depends more on external circumstances that on internal power of self-defence, may be acceptable to your readers.
The Turks were originally from Scythia, or Tartary, and the earliest historical notice which we have of them, is about the year 800, when, issuing for an obscure retreat, they took possession of a part of Armenia, which has since been known by the name of Turcomania. – Their dominions, for a long time divided into petty States, were at length united under Othoman, or Othman; who, about the year 1299, laid the foundation of a dynasty of most warlike and powerful princes, of whom it has been justly said, that for several centuries, the succeeding monarch outdid his predecessor in energy, grandeur of invention, and felicity of execution. This remark will, in a great measure, apply, from the times of Othman, till the empire attained the zenith of its glory under Solyman the Magnificent, whom the powerful Charles V of Germany accounted no contemptible adversary. The dominions of the Grand Sultan are distinguished under two great divisions, Turkey in Europe, and Turkey in Asia. Turkey in Europe is bounded on the N. by Hungary, Transylvania, & the Russian dominions; East, by the Black Sea, the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmora, Dardanelles & Archipelago; and on the West, by the Adriatic, Austrian Dalmatia, and Croatia. The extreme length, from the northern part of Moldavia to the Southern extremity of the More, is about 870 miles; and by a mean of the statements of Hassel, Malte-Brun, Cannabich, and others, it contains about 193,325 square miles, inhabited by a population of 8,540,000. Turkey in Asia, according to the same authorities, contains 505,333 square miles, with a population of 11,375,000. it is bounded on the North by the Black Sea and Circassian; on the East, by Persia; South, by Arabia and the Levant; and on the West, by the Archipelago, Hellespont, and the Sea of Marmora. Its extreme breadth from the shores of the ancient Troy, in Asia Minor, or Natolia [sic], in the West, to the Eastern part of Kurdistan, on the confines of Persia, is stated by Lavoisne to be 1010 miles.
The climate of both European and Asiatic Turkey is salubrious, and the seasons are regular and pleasant: yet both are sometimes visited by the plague; which is rendered doubly destructive by the characteristic indolence of the Turks, and their superstitious belief in predestination, which prevent their making use of suitable precautions against this dreadful calamity. "This country," says a late writer, "is fertile beyond description; producing, in abundance and perfection, the finest fruits of every species, grain, cotton, coffee, wine, oil, honey, myrrh, frankincense, and odoriferous plants and drugs, almost without culture.["]
Yet, notwithstanding these solid internal advantages, and many more which our limits forbid us to enumerate, we behold this great Empire, nearly equal in extent to two thirds of the United Sates, with a population almost double, degenerating into political, as well as mental, insignificant; and inviting by its imbecility, the attack of some powerful foreigner, such as Russia, to annex it to the list of conquered, tributary provinces. That Turkey should at once become more than a tributary province of the power that shall subjugate it, cannot be expected. Their habits and dispositions are so little consonant to those of any other nation, even the ferocious Russians, that half a century at least must elapse, after the change of the masters, before any very sensible reciprocity of feeling, or amalgamation of interests could subsist between them and their conquerors. The boasted uniformity of their characters, independently of other powerful causes, warrants this opinion. How different would be the face of things were this fine country peopled by such a race of men as achieved our independence, or of daring and intelligent Britons. Little, indeed, could the numerous hordes of semi-savage Russians then achieve, against such opposition. But alas, this theoretic speculation goes for nothing, as the Turks can supply no more than the mere physical force. They want that energy which can belong only to cultivated man, and without which hundreds are unable to compete with tens. That they possess sufficient means to repel the attacks of invaders, if properly organized, cannot be doubted; but that they are able or willing to avail themselves of those means, will hardly be admitted, after the disastrous results of the present campaign. According to Lavoisne, their infantry amounts to 200,000 men, including 100,000 Janissaries,* and their ex-cavalry to 180,000. Their navy is comparatively small; consisting, previous to the affair at Navarino, of 15 or 20 ships of the line, an equal number of frigates, and about 60 allies; manned, principally, by Greeks and Algerines. Their revenue is stated to produce upwards of two millions sterling, or nearly nine millions of dollars, over the annual expenditure. – With these means, and possessed of such a country, what, within the limits of possibility, could not twenty millions of enlightened freemen achieve?
The established religion of the Turks is Mahometanism; they profess to be of the sect of Omar; but like their neighbours, the Christians, they are subdivided into numerous sects. In the ceremonies of their worship, they are exemplary; and seldom, indeed, will a Turk neglect his ablutions, and at least five prayers a day, however deficient he may be in practical morality. Their religion prohibits the use of wine, but luckily, as they think, for those who are inclined to profit by it, they have found a powerful substitute in opium, of which they consume vast quantities.
Their indolence and the insecurity of private property, preclude that perfection in the arts, which other nations have attained; yet they are celebrated for the manufacturer of the beautiful carpeting which goes by the name of their country. They also manufacture priced muslins, crepes, and gauzes; brass cannon, muskets, and pistol barrels, much admired; and large quantities of Morocco leather, of the best quality. Most of these works, however, are said to be performed by the Christian residents. In the sciences, they are still more deficient than in the arts: nor is this wonderful, when we consider the midnight bondage in which their minds, as well as their bodies, are held. The government is represented as shocking and arbitrary; nor can this be doubled, when we consider that every thing is made subservient to the will of an uneducated tyrant, who is bounded only by his respect for the Koran; owning no other restriction, and no doubt frequently forgetting even that, when self-interest, or the gratification of passion stands in the way. – The remarks of an intelligent traveller being to the point, we shall close our sketch with this melancholy picture. – "The condition of the Turks themselves is no better than that of the other inhabitants. They are equally subjected to a barbarous tyranny, liable to similar extortion and injustice. They have nothing they can call their own – no right – no property – no security. They are liable to be murdered at midnight, by unknown messengers, and for unknown crimes; or they may be strangled at midday, in the midst of their families and friends, without any consciousness of guilt – without any form of trial – even without accusation, or subsequent reasons assigned. – Mystery reigns round their habitations; all is fear, concealment, melancholy, and distrust."
*This order has been abolished.
A letter from Tiflis, of the 1st ult. announces the assassination of Dr. Schulz, Professor of the University of Giessen, who had been sent out at the expense of the King of France to visit Asiatic Turkey and Persia for scientific and literary purposes. The melancholy event occurred in Curdistan, on the frontiers of Inal-Huerile, between the villages of Bash Kullah and Perihan Nichin. Two servants, a soldier, and a Persian sergeant, who accompanied the unfortunate traveller, were likewise assassinated. Colonel Macdonald, at whose house the Doctor had received the warmest hospitality during his stay at Tauris, immediately sent off a confidential person for the purpose of collecting, if possible, the papers and effects of Mr. Schulz, and, in concert with the Russian Ambassador, took the first steps towards the discovery of the assassins.
The Derby Mercury, 1830 Feb 17; and also in The Freeman's Journal (Dublin), 1830 Feb 18; Belfast News-Letter, 1830 Feb 19; >a href='https://www.newspapers.com/image/395483045/'>The Royal Cornwall Gazette, 1830 Feb 20; The Hull Packet, 1830 Feb 23; >a href='https://www.newspapers.com/image/53981858/'>The Cape-Fear Recorder (Wilmington, North Carolina), 1830 Apr 07; Southern Galaxy (Natchez, Mississippi), 1830 Apr 22
DEATH OF DR SCHULZ. – A letter from Tiflis, of the date of the 1st of January last, gives the melancholy intelligence of the death of this intrepid and intelligent traveller. It appears that he was murdered in Kurdistan, at the frontiers of Inal-Huerile, between the villages of Bash-Kullah and Perihad-Nechin; the details are not yet known, only that his two domestics, and a Persian serjeant and soldier, who accompanied him, shared the same fate. Colonel Macdonald, the English envoy, at whose house the traveller had resided during his stay at Tauris, had immediately dispatched a confidential person to the spot, in order to collect, if possible, the papers and effects of Dr Schulz, and take the necessary steps for the discovery and punishment of the murderers. The Russian envoy has also been very active on the occasion. The loss which literature and science have sustained by this lamentable catastrophe are almost irreparable. Dr Schulz was a Professor in the German University of Giessen, and had been selected on account of his extensive knowledge of the Oriental tongues (being equally well acquainted with the Turkish, Arabic, and Persian languages and literature) to go on a scientific and literary tour through the less known parts of Turkey in Asia, and Persia, at the expence of the King of France. One of his special objects was to repair to Yezd, in the centre of Persia, the great seat of the followers of the religion of Zoroaster, and reside there as long as was necessary, in order to study the ancient languages of Persia, and collect such works of Zoroaster as might still be in existence. He set out in the autumn of 1826, furnished with ample instructions from the Baron de Damas, then Minister of Foreign Affairs; but the war which broke out shortly after between Russia and Persia threw great difficulties in his way, but did not slacken his zeal. He collected a great mass of information during his residence at Constantinople and in the Asiatic provinces of Russia, in he Caucasus, and on the Caspian sea; he traversed the whole of Asia Minor and the most barbarous and difficult portions of Armenia and Kurdistan. He explored in the greatest detail the hitherto unknown ruins of the city of Semiramis in Armenia, where he copied forty-two inscriptions of the most remote antiquity, the greater part of them of great length. A portion of his observations and discoveries have been noticed or detailed in the Paris Journal Asiatique or in the Journal des Savans. It was anticipated that his residence in Persia would have supplied an ample harvest of most important observations. Besides his Oriental acquirements, he was deeply imbued with classical knowledge, and possessed a sound and well cultivated understanding; no traveller was ever better fitted or prepared to travel with advantage over the countries which it was his mission to visit.
[Refers to Başkale in modern Turkey.]
Assyria. – The missionary from Assyria gives information that he has had put into his hands, from the Pasha of Mosul, the sum of 4,500 pilasters for Rev. Dr. Bacon, of New-Haven, and the party within, that being the loss sustained by them from the robbers in the mountains of Kurdistan. The offenders have been secured, and will be punished. The Sultan, the Pasha, and Mr. Rassam, the English Consul, all deserver much credit for the part they have taken in the affairs.
Nestorians. – A remarkable interposition of Providence was related in reference to some missionaries who had been loaded with chains and brought to Brashkallah. Through the timely interference of Col. Williams, English Commissioner for settling the boundary between Turkey and Persia, they were released. Previous to this the whole Boundary Commission had visited Oroomah. Col. Williams had expressed himself especially interested in the labors of the mission, and he gave $60 to be expended among the poor who were suffering under the distressing ravages of the cholera.
Braving Death in Kurdistan Disguised As A Native
How an Englishman Penetrated One of the Most Savage and Least Known Parts of the World by Passing Himself Off as One of Its Inhabitants — His Exciting Adventures
Memories of Sir Richard Burton's famous pilgrimage to Mecca, when, disguised as a Mohammedan, he risked his life to see the Sacred City of the Prophet, are brought to mind now by the narrative of another fearless Englishman, who is back among his fellow countrymen after nonchalantly living in the shadow of death for months. He is E. B. Soon, and in his book "To Mesopotamia and Kurdistan in Disguise" (Small, Maynard & Co., Boston,) he recounts how he ventured into the unknown mountain homes of the savage Kurds, passing himself off as a Persian returning to his native town of Shiraz from a sojourn in Europe. So remarkably good was Soane's knowledge of the Persian and Kurd languages and so convincing his "bluff" that he was everywhere taken at his word and suffered to go on his way unmolested. In fact, like Sir Richard Burton, he was accounted by many a Hadji, or Mohammedan pilgrim returning from Mecca, and treated with great politeness.
But in spite of everything he suffered, rough handling at the hands of Turkish soldiers and wild Kurdish bandits, he brought back with him to civilization, in addition to his wealth of remarkable experiences, a wound inflicted by a dagger in the hands of a mountain robber.
Soane's way led him far beyond the railway terminus at Aleppo in Asia Minor, down the swiftly flowing Tigris, past the ruins of Nineveh and other renowned cities of thousands of years ago, past battlefields where Hittites, Assyrians, Medes, Persians, Parthians, Romans, Turks, and Tartars struggled and bled, straight through the dreaded haunts of the Hamavand bandits to the hidden mountain home of the Lady of Justice, revered throughout the district of Kurdistan in which she lives. Everywhere the Englishman met with evidences of Turkish misrule. So glaring were they that they made him yearn for Persia, where he had previously spent several years, and of which he speaks with deep affection. It was while he was in the Shah's domain that he mastered the Persian tongue and – ostensibly – embraced Mohammedanism, thus arming himself with a twofold knowledge that enabled him to return alive from his perilous Kurdistan adventure.
Soane started from Constantinople, a city of which he has little good to say. He took a steamer to Beirut, in Syria, and, for the time being, only added a fez to his regular costume, to make people think he was a Persian. But that simple headgear worked wonders. His fellow-passengers, largely English tourists, were completely taken in. Even after he confessed to a knowledge of their language and discoursed with them about England, which, he said casually, he had visited, they never thought him other than a Persian.
It was not without sadness that he bade these people good-bye at Beirut. They were about to travel through the Holy Island [sic?] in style, to put-up at the best hotels and know nothing but the best fare, while he was to turns back on civilization for many months, to strike into unknown parts in the guise of a humble wayfarer, to brave death at every step. Small wonder that he looked wistfully after his companions!
But his depression did not last. Completing his Persian disguise by donning outer garments more in army with his fez than had been the ordinary coat and trousers of the voyage from Constantinople, he took a second-class railway ticket to Aleppo, and, wedged in between all sorts of Oriental nondescripts, fairly launched himself upon his perilous wanderings.
Through Urfa, the ancient Edessa, he went, across the Euphrates, passing at every step places renowned in ancient history, ruins of forgotten cities, battlefields where armies of forgotten empires had won and lost. By the time he reached Diarbekr his coachman had set him down as a Hadji or pilgrim returning from Mecca, and not only treated him with due reverence but exacted it from others along the route. Soon did not judge it expedient to disillusion them; he knew that his trip was bound to be difficult enough anyhow without borrowing trouble.
At Diarbekr, in the midst of memories of thousands of years ago, he found a traveling companion in the person of a devout Kurd returning from his seventeenth pilgrimage to Mecca, with whom Soane, apparently, made a great hit – nor did the bona fide pilgrim suspect the "Persian" of deceit. The two bargained with a river skipper, "a gaunt Kurd, pretty well seven feet tall, with an impediment in his speech and a single fierce-looking eye," for passage on his raft down the Tigris.
That was a thrilling voyage. The raft, made of inflated goat kins and overlaid with planks, was swept down the swift river current at an alarming rate. Before starting Soane knew well the perils of voyaging on the Tigris; he also knew that some tribesmen on its banks had just raised against their Turkish masters and were murdering travelers. Nevertheless he boarded the raft undaunted. Of the journey the Englishman writes,
We had two fellow passengers – one an Arab merchant of Mosul, a man of tremendous piety, who spent his whole time smoking cigarettes and calling on the Lord. The other was as diametrically opposite to him in character as possible – a time-expired soldier, a youth of 23, who was returning from the Hejaz Railway, where he had formed part of the military police guard going to Kirkuk, his native town. Foul-mouthed, blasphemous, a thief, possessing no money and expecting us to keep him, he was a type of what the Turk becomes when the army has molded him to its standard of ruffianism.
The crew of the raft was composed of two Kurds, little men of the Zaza, a tribe that lives in the high mountains around the upper Tigris valleys and headwaters. * * * They are short men, of a shy, quick temperament, very sharp, and excellent workers, speaking a dialect which, while Kurdish, denotes by its form a very high antiquity. It is possible that these are lineal descendants of the hill tribes that the Assyrians had so much trouble in controlling, and whom the Parthians and Romans of a later age never subdued. In the high, pointed felt cap and long-toed felt shoes they still preserve part of a dress familiar from the sculptures of the southern Armenian mountains.
The skipper of our craft was known as one of the most skillful of all the river men, and in the dreadful weather that followed he showed by his ability to claim to that reputation.
We cast off from the bank at 10 o'clock this sunny morning, a light breeze from the north both assisting our progress and keeping the temperatures at a degree of perfect comfort. Under such conditions, find weather and a broad river that runs at a steady pace without too many shallows and rapids, there is probably no more pleasant method of travelling than by kalak (raft). As it proceeds, the raft turns round and round slowly, giving view of every side.
There is an ease and comfort about it all that only the traveler fresh from the road can appreciate. The abundance of cool, clean water is the chief delight of the journey, contrasting with he ever-present trouble of the road, with its water often enough scarce, and always obtained only at the expense of considerable manual labor. The dust and filth, the long, wearying stages, the trouble of loading and unloading and of seeking food in obscure bazaars when one is dead tired, the awakening from a sleep all too short in the dark before dawn, all these are past, and all there is to do is to lie at full length upon the bales and give one's self up to the luxury of pure laziness and enjoyment of the view.
For two days we floated down between flat banks, passing a few villages, all Kurdish. At night we tied up, gathered some sticks, made a fire, and cooked rice. Haji and myself are regarded as the first-class passengers, possessing as we did a tent and living upon cooked food. The others had but dry bread and cheese, of which they had brought a sufficient supply to last.
As the custom of Islam generally, and of the Kurd particularly, demands a fraternal fellowship among all travelers, we entertained the passengers and crew at our evening meals every night. The class distinction that asserts itself in every land on earth, whether it be the difference made by breeding, position, or hard cash, became apparent on the first evening.
I had cleaned and washed the rice, boiled it, and produced a pilau, turning it out into our one dish, which was but a big copper saucepan lid. We invited the company to partake, refusing to eat under any other conditions.
The crew, however, were too shy, and, asserting their own unworthiness, said they would eat afterward. The Arab merchant, too, hung off with polite phrases, but was eventually forced to join. The soldier needed no encouragement, and would have sat down and begun without waiting for us to put out our hands to the dish, a terrible gaucherie; but for some reason both Arab and Kurd, who had conceived a strong dislike to him, fairly beat him off, saying that he was not of our class and rank and might wait and eat afterward. So, with very bad grace, he retired to sulkiness and cigarettes.
A hearty appetite, helped by the pity-to-waste-it kind of sentiment, assures the total disappearance of a cooked meal among all the people of road and river in the East, so there were never any leavings and the washing-up of the one dish was always undertaken by the crew. * * *
After suffering severely from torrential rains, which reduced passengers and cargo (consisting largely of dried apricots) to a wretched state, the raft was swept through a gorge at a terrific speed by the current, and, as if there was not excitement enough for all concerned in keeping from getting drowned, Kurdish bandits on the banks took pot-shots at the party, fortunately without effect, as the raft's speed was altogether too great to admit of accurate aim. However, the fusillade was such as to compel all on board to take refuge behind bales and pray for rescue, especially the Turkish soldier, who actually wedged himself in among the apricot bags, whence he emerged wet and muddy long after the danger was past.
After all sorts of hardships, both from the vicious Tigris and from Turkish officials along the banks, the party reached Mosul, on the river bank. Not last among the discomforts of the trip were the constant inquiries to which the English adventurer was subjected. He was obliged to produce his Constantinople passport, a matter of no small embarrassment, since it described him as an Englishman, not a Persian. Nevertheless, he emerged triumphant from all his difficulties. On Turkish police officer gravely held the document upside down while perusing it, thus proving conclusively that he didn't know how to read at all, and another was so thoroughly convinced that Soane was a Persian that he refused to allow his conviction to be shaken by any number of suspicious circumstances.
At Mosul, Soane learned that the Hamavand, a belligerent tribe of the neighborhood, were robbing and murdering travelers along the route which he meant to traverse to reach Kurdistan. At first it was impossible to find anybody willing to undertake the dangerous journey to Sulaimania, but eventually a small caravan was formed – including the masquerading Englishman – and a start was made, not without considerable trepidation. as a measure of precaution, Soane discarded his red fez, it having been pointed out to him that this conspicuous scarlet headgear would e most useful as a target to the marauding Kurds.
Off the caravan went, past the site of ancient Nineveh and Arbela, to Kirkuk, where many others joined the caravan, which, to the great relief of all, was placed in charge of an escort of Turkish soldiers armed with Mausers, for rumors concerning the Hamavand tribesman were constantly becoming more hair-raising.
And although the "effendi," or officer commanding the escort, cautiously tried to give a wide berth to the Hamavand haunts, he was unsuccessful. The caravan was creeping round the base of some cliffs when a scout reported that he had descried a body of hamvand horsemen. The latter, drawing nearer, kept parallel with the caravan's course, while reinforcements constantly swelled their numbers. Says Soane:
Handsome men these Hamavands. As they rushed along the silk head handkerchiefs of many colors streamed behind them, their long tunics, covering even their feet, rose and fell with the horses' action.
The stirrups of many were inlaid with silver, contrasting with the scarlet upturned shoes. Their zouave [?] jackets they had ornamented to the highest degree. Weird designs in gold braid and thread covered the pale blue cloth. Most were armed with Mauser repeating rifles taken from he Turkish soldiers by force. * * *
Altogether there were about fifty of them, and notwithstanding the attitude of the soldiers, who had intrenched themselves behind bales, covering the oncomers, they rode straight up to the encampment, heedless of the disconcerted army that arose from behind its cover, looking foolish. As they approached near each one ostentatiously opened the breech of his rifle and emptied it of cartridges, then slung it on his back, thereby announcing at once their friendly intentions, and their scorn for the soldiers.
The Turkish Effendi went out to parley with the brigands, and it was arranged that the caravan should proceed to where the Hamavand chieftain was. He explained the nomads must decide whether the travelers were to be put to the sword or suffered to proceed.
Feeling very uncomfortable, as was natural, Soane and his companions were led away by the Kurdish horsemen. The Turkish soldiers especially were quite demoralized by fear, seemingly feeling no hope at al that they would ever get out of their predicament alive.
On reaching the Hamavand chief's camp all were ordered to squat down on the ground, and were given to understand that if they stood up or moved they would be shot at. Nobody stood up or moved about – except one reckless Turk, who promptly sat down again when a bullet grazed his ear.
The hours [illegible, but likely "passed, and"] daylight changed to night. "I [illegible] think many of us slept that night," says the English traveler. All night long the Kurds could be heard discussing as to the fate of the prisoners, their cigarette ends glowing in the darkness.
At last, when morning came, the suspense was ended. The Hamavand chief announced that he would let the caravan proceed on its way to Sulaimania. So on they went, delighted to have escaped the terrible fate of many other caravans. Not long before, they recalled with shuddering, no less than 200 Persian pilgrims had been murdered by Hamavands in that very neighborhood. It was with thankful hearts that they plodded into Sulaimania, in the heart of the mysterious Kurdish mountains.
According to Soane, this place is a stronghold of moss-backed Oriental conservatism. He says:
Among other customs strange and stupid, is the one which forbids a woman to appear in the bazaars at the risk of the loss of her good name; why seems hard to say, for there never was a more moral town than Sulaimania. Possibly it is for the same reason that it is reckoned improper for a man to wear ornamented socks, or bows on his slippers, or to remain in his house by day, or treat his wife as a woman, and a hundred other pranks and caprices which are hard-and-fast rules of Sulaimania society and life.
And the infringement of any one of these little rules is met by a horrified look and the hackneyed old expression, "Aiba Bokum," (It is a fault, little father.) * * *
If I would speak to my own wife in the street, if I would bare my head to a cool breeze in a public place. If I would be too friendly with a Christian, or speak civil to a Jew, these are all "Aiba bokum," and but the least of them. But would I in rash moments of philanthropy and idealism suggest killing the flies on the putrid meat of the shops, or ridding the town of fraudulent beggars, or building a sanitary house, or cleaning a street, or doing anything of any benefit to myself or others, then I should become a raving lunatic from hearing day and night the pained protest of "Aiba bokum"; If, indeed, I were allowed to remain in the town.
In this, Sulaimania is only too like the rest of the Mohammedan East, particularly those parts further removed from the West, whose creed is, "That I do as did my fathers, and leave undone that which they did not, and curse the innovator."
Nor is this creed to be set aside lightly, even thought it mean inconvenience to the people themselves. Some years ago a doctor of some skill came here, hoping – as he was the first arrival in a town full of dirt-diseases – to make a speedy fortune, as others have done among the Kurds. Two months after he had established himself he left for Persian Kurdistan, carting his implements upon his back, his heading riding with the phrase, "Aiba bokum."
From this hide-bound town Soane journeyed ever deeper into Kurdistan, until he came to the objective point of his toilsome journey – the hidden settlement of Halabja, where lives the famed Lady of Justice. In the rural regions of Kurdistan, be it known, women, unlike those at Sulaimania and elsewhere in the Orient, enjoy a freedom second only to that of their European and American sisters, and among them the Lady of Halabja is the most independent. It was largely for the sake of making her acquaintance that the Englishman braved so many dangers and suffered so much hardship. This remarkable woman, who hails from Sina, in Persian Kurdistan, and has married into the Kurdish tribe of the Jaff, is, as the Englishman puts it, "a woman unique in Islam, in the power she possesses, and the efficacy with which she uses the weapons in her hands."
Her name is Adela, and she is the wife of Uthman Pasha, the great Jaff potentate. Of her Soane writes:
Once installed at Halabja, Lady Adela proceeded, aided by the prestige of her family, to assert her position, as a procedure not opposed by Uthman Pasha. She built two fine houses, finer than any edifice in Sulaimania, upon the Sina model, importing Persian masons and artificers to do the work. Her servants were all Persian subjects, and in Halabja she instituted in her new house a little colony of Persian Kurds, and opened her doors to all travelers fro and to that country. * * *
Gradually the official power came into her hands. Uthman Pasha was often called away to attend to affairs, and occasionally had to perform journeys to Sulaimania, Kirkuk, and Mosul on matters of government. So Lady Adela, governing for him in his absence, built a new prison and instituted a court of justice, of which she was President, and so consolidated her own power that the Pasha, when he was at Halabja, spent his time smoking a water pipe, building new baths, and carrying out local improvements, while his wife ruled. * * *
In and around Halabja, Lady Adela has instituted the Persian fashion of making gardens, apart from the gardens around the houses, and now outside the little town are several of the graceful and thickly treed gardens which are only seen in Persia, gardens which are wildernesses of large shady trees, with unsuspected bowers and flower beds in their shady depths.
So here, in a remote corner of the Turkish Empire, which decays and retrogrades, is one little spot which, under the rule of a Kurdish woman, has risen from a village to be a town, and one hillside, once barren, now sprinkled with gardens, and these are in a measure renovations ancient state of these parts.
Lady Adela received the English traveler most graciously – nor did she, a native of Persia, succeed in penetrating his disguise. She spoke to him in Persian throughout, and never for an instant detected a flaw in his language, appearance, or actions.
At Halabja the Englishman met one who was almost his undoing. This was a Mohammedan priest, whom he had encountered in Constantinople, and who now roundly denounced him as an English impostor. Yet so extraordinarily good was Soane's Oriental make-up and so cool his demeanor that even this peril was averted. The priest, who a moment before had been treating imprisonment and execution, was brought round to believe that the man before him was simply a Persian who had lived in England. And when, shortly after, Soane quitted Halabja, he went without being exposed by this peppery individual.
But his exciting adventures were by no means over. On a lonely road he and his companions, a Kurd called Hama, and an old pilgrim, encountered a group of Turkomans who sent a bullet whistling after them. The Englishman and his comrades were unarmed and could do little when one of the Turkoman party came up on the run, seized Soane's bridle and started to go through his pockets. When some coins and a watch had been extracted, Soane and Hama began to put up a stiff fight, whereupon the robber, in a fury, drew a long dagger and plunged it into Soane's arm, inflicting a nasty wound. Turning then to Hama, he struck him on the nose with his riflebutt, and made off with his booty, Hama close at his heels. The Kurd overtook the robber, leaped on him and threw him, but not without getting a stab in the shoulder from the Turkoman's dagger. In spite of this, he recovered the watch and money and started back toward Soane, but the brigand, taking careful aim, sent a bullet after him which almost did [?] for the Kurd – in fact, it passed so close to his head that it carried away the tassel on the peak of his cap. Unperturbed by this little incident, he continued his journey with his companions, while the Turkoman watched them sullenly from the other side of the valley.
Back in Sulaimania, Soane was made much of by some of the inhabitants and, feeling himself safe, confided to them who and what he was. Their amazement was unbounded. But they had so sincere a liking for their strange acquaintance that none sought to do him harm and one joyfully exclaimed that it mattered not whether a friend was English or Russian, Turk or Kurd.
Taking leave of these hospitable fellows, Soane continued his homeward journey and after many days of ardor traveling, beset by sufferings of various sorts, reached the renowned city of Bagdad. Remote as that place is to us, it was to him within the bounds of everyday travel – has not Bagdad hotels and is it not visited by ever-increasing bands of European and American tourists? So, once there, Soane looked upon his perilous adventure as terminated. Says he:
In the dark and shadow I slipped the European hat upon my head, threw the dressing gown over my arm like an overcoat, and stood, a European in appearance, though somewhat shabby. * * *
I spent most of the day trying to get use to sitting upon a chair, but it was horribly uncomfortable, and my legs would gather under me in spite of myself.
I felt stranger and more lonely than I had ever done before. Gone was the coffee house and the bazaar, of the multitudes of which I was one and equal, with whom I spoke and laughed and fought and wrangled.
They were far away, and I must learn to look upon them as strange and inferior beings, if such were now possible, and, taking place again on the platform of Western birth, once more go on my way affecting to ignore their joys and sorrows – which had so lately been my own.