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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. . 301 the Ambassador, at this period, is from the pen of Lord Radstock, in a letter addressed to a lady of high rank :- “Aboul Hassan is in person above the common stature ; and this is in no small degree increased by a high cap covered with a shawl, and heels a full inch and a half high. He is about thirty-five years of age. His features are perfectly regular ; his eyes have a peculiar softness in them, though sometimes animated to the highest degree ; his nose aquiline ; his teeth the most regular and beautiful imaginable ; and his profile as fine as the pencil could trace. His countenance is open and full of candour ; and, when in its natural state, is no less mild and dignified. When conversing and highly pleased, it has a sweetness that nothing can exceed ; and when animated by argument, it bespeaks a soul replete with energy, and a depth of understanding rarely to be met with. His manners are truly captivating, graceful, and as engaging as can be conceived, whilst, at the same time, they are such as ever to command respect, and remind ewii his very intimates that he is the representative of a great monarch. I have visited the Ambassador every day since his arrival, excepting one, when in the evening he told Mr. James Morier that ‘his heart was sick, as he had not seen his friend Lord Radstock during the whole day.’ * * A few days ago he gave us a grand dinner, at which were present Lord Winchilsea, Lord Teignmouth, General Grenville, Sir Gore Ouseley, Mr. Vaughan, and four or five others. Sir Gore Ouseley sat at the head of the table and the Mirza on his left, it being the side near the fire, Nothing could surpass the grace and ease with which he did the honours of the entertainment. * * * * He drank but one glass of wine at dinner, and none after, although he acknowledged he liked wine ; and we kept our seats little short of three hours. This act of his forbearance and abstinency, from religious motives, might have served as a lesson to his Christian guests ; but here candour bids me own, they seemed by no means inclined to follow so excellent an example, though certainly nothing like excess was committed. * * * When the conversation was serious, the Mirza’s attention, questions, and replies, alike bespoke a refined and superior Understanding ; and when jocose, he displayed his perfect knowledge of repartee, and was all life and merriment, * * I accompanied his Excellency the other night to the opera for the second time. The Ambassador was received at the King’s door, and with the same ceremony as if he had been of the blood royal. This marked attention pleased him much ; and he expressed his gratitude with seeming warmth. He appeared to be but little struck with the beauty or grandeur of the Theatre ; and, to my surprise, held the dancing very iheap. He laughed heartily at the folly of bringing forward Peter the Great and his Empress as dancing to divert the throng. ‘What !’ exclaimed he, ‘is it possible that a mighty monarch and his queen should expose themselves thus 2 how absurd ! how out of nature ! how perfectly ridiculous ! ’ Soon after, he jokingly said, ‘ When I get back to my own country, and the King shall ask me, What did the English do to divert you 0 I will answer, Sire, they brought before me your Majesty’s great enemies, the Emperor and Empress of Russia, and made them dance for my amusement ! ’ This he repeated with the highest glee, aa if conscious of saying a witty thing. At the end of the comic opera, at which he often laughed heartily, I asked him which he liked hest, the serious or the comic opera? Without a moment’s hesitation he replied, ‘ The serious, when I am inclined to cry ; and the comic, when I am inclined to laugh.’ “ I forgot to mention a laughable observation made the other night during the grand ballet. He asked Sir G. Ouseley what the Empress was going to do with the great chest and the casket which her slaves were carrying ? Sir G. Ouseley replied, that she waa going to endeavour to bribe the Pasha to sign a truce and withdraw his troops. ‘ Is that it !’ cries the Mirza, ‘then I’ll answer for her success ; for those fellows, the Turks, would even sell their father could they gain a piastre by it.’ He appears to despise and detest the Turks. He told the Tnrkirrh Ambassador the other morning, when I was present, that he would carry him to the Opera, where he should first see the Grand Vizer dance and then sell his counw. The stupid Turk bowed, and seemed thankful, receiving the speech as a compliment. The mind of the. Ambassador seems to be ever on the stretch, and illled with interesting and important objects only. His mission is consequently the primary one ; his next is the attainment of useful knowledge. His questions and answera are endless, when food for an inquisitive mind presents it.vel$ ; but they am ever to the purpose, scarcely anything frivolous eseapea him, though at times, particularly at table, no one seems to enjoy pleasantq more, even to playfulness. The objects which hitherto seem to have made the strongest impressions on the .hfirza’s mind, are * * * *
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302 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Greenwich and Chelsea Hospitals, the Bank, St. Paul’s, Westminster Abbey, and Westminster Bridge. He desired to have the exact dimensions of the latter, but the fogs and damp weather have hitherto prevented him seeing any external objects with pleasure and satisfaction. He wm highly delighted with his reception, both at the India House and at the Bank ; at both which places he was received in a princely style. “Last Sunday evening the Mirza sent a message to Mrs. Morier, requesting that she would permit him to pay her a visit. This being accepted, he shortly after made his appearance, and remained with her and her family, and myself, nearly two hours. On inquiring what were the books he saw upon the table, he was informed that they were the Bible and some books of sermons. He then desired to have explained to him the nature of the latter, and seemed to approve niuch the study of such books on days set apart for devotion. The Miss Moriers then sung a hymn to him, without telling him what was the nature of the music. When they had ended, he thanked them, adding -‘ I am sure that must be sacred music, it affected me so yery much-’ He said that among the many of our customs which he approved, he admired none more than that of not suffering the servants to remain in the room when not wanted. He added, that he was endeavouring to introduce this excellent custom into his own house ; and for that purpose he was ever driving his servants out of the room, but they returned like flies in spite of all he could do, I never beheld him in such high spirits and so merry as he was during that whole evening. “ Every thing seemed to conspire to please him ; the smallness and neatness of the house gave him an idea of comfort he had never experienced before. He repeated more than once, ‘ What could any person in the world wish for more than you have here 0 ’ Mrs. Morier showed him a miniature of one of her daughters when a child. This delighted him so much that Mrs. M. begged he would accept It. He was ,so much pleased with the present that he would not part with it for a moment during the remainder of the evening. He is uncommonly fond of children, and the younger they are the more he likes them. The first time he saw my youngest daughter, who is eleven years of age, he seemed quite enchanted with her, and made her sit by him the whole evening, when not dancing. He afterwards saw a little girl.of Mr. Elliot’s, who is not yet six years of age, and he seemed still more delighted with her, if possible, than he was with my daughter. He said, ‘About sixteen.’ I remarked that in India they married at a much younger age ; he replied, ‘ It was true ; but in Persia they liked children as children, but women as wives.’ He has but one wife, which he says is enough for any man, adding, that ‘ there can be no good or use in having more.’ The first time he heard my daughters sing a trio, he was much struck with it, saying, ‘This music quite delights me, but at the same time it puzzles me beyond measure ; for, though I can plainly discover that all of them are singing in different tones, yet it seems to produce but one pound : all is in unison, as if their very souls understood each other.’ * “A circumstance has just come into my recollection, which certainly ought not to be omitted. On the third or fourth day of the Ambassador’s arrival, the Turkish Ambassador paid him a visit. ‘What are you about ? ’ cries the Turk. ‘ Writing English ! why, you have scarcely been here three days, whilst I have been in England seven years, and I know not;a syllable of the language, or even how to form a single letter.’ Thanks to Mr. J. Morier’s kind attention and instruction, the Mirza writes daily copies that would do credit to any boy of twelve or fourteen.” I asked him at what age girls were married in Persia ! ‘ I am writing English ! ’ Though ignorant of European Literature, his Excellency was versant in that of his own country. His knowledge of oriental history was apparently extensive; and he seemed intimately acquainted with the productioluj of Hafiz, Zadi, and other celebrated eastern poets. Besides the Persian, he spoke Arabic, Hindostanee, and Russ. It is said he was indebted for much of his refinement and knowledge to the circumstance of having been for some time in disgrace at the Persian Court. The period of his exile was chiefly spent in travelling; and for three pears he had resided in India, under the administration of the Marquis Wellesley. Returning to Bombay, he learned from the Decan that the King of Persia had discovered hia innocence, and granted him permission to return home.
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