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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 303 During his travels he had been an attentive observer, and kept a journal to which, on his return, he gave the title of the “Wonderful Book ;” wherein were recorded his opinions on whatever he imagined might be curious or instructive to his countrymen. Thus recommended by his talents, and especially for his knowledge of Indian affairs, seconded by the influence of an uncle, who then held the office of Minister of Finance, Aboul Hassan was chosen for the important mission to Britain already mentioned. After a stay of nearly seven months his Excellency quitted England, accompanied by Sir G. Ouseley, as minister at the Court of Persia. On the passage the vessel touched at Rio Janeiro, and his Excellency had thus, for the first time, an opportunity of seeing the New World, On his arrival in <Persia he was honoured with the title of Khan, and every mark of confidence was shown him by the King. In 1813 he was employed to conclude a peace with Russia ; and immediately proceeding to St. Petersburgh, remained there upwards of three years. The embassy bn this occasion appeared to be more for the purpose of cultivating friendly relations generally, than for the attainment of any specific object. Besides innumerable other presents from the King, the Ambassador had with him sixteen of the finest horses in the Persian dominions as a compliment to the Prince Regent. These, under the charge of the King’s head groom, arrived in London some time prior to the Ambassador, who, coming by France, remained in Paris much longer than he intended, being greatly captivated with the gaiety of the French capital.’ On this side the channel public curiosity was excited by the frequent and sometimes extravagant announcements in the Parisian journals. mie beauty of the “ Fair Circassian,” by whom he was accompanied, was so much extolled that, “ like another Ellen,” she had almost “ fired another Troy.” ‘‘ The beautiful Circassian,” says one of the journals, “has been so closely confined that not a single person has been able to obtain a sight of her, though thousands crowd daily round her hotel, in the vain hope of a glimpse.” The Gazette de Fraw was more minute in its details :-“ Exiled to her chamber, inaccessible to all the world, she dares not even appear at her window without being covered with a large veil j and she is not relieved from this restraint except when her master is out with his people. She then walks about in her apartment without meeting any one save the females of the hotel, or the two persons charged to watch her. If she chance to meet the females she becomes quite joyous with spirits-she plays with them-romps with them ; but on the least noise she disappears and shuts herself up in her cabinet. Some ladies, among them Lady Somerset, solicited the Ambassador to permit the interesting stranger to pass an evening at their houses j but their entreaties were all to no purpose.” The fair prisoner thus became an object of intense interest, and her arrival in London was looked for with impatience. At length it was announced that At one of the balls given in honour of him, be was heard to say, in an under tonu, “This world is the prison of the true believer, but the paradise of the infidel ! ” The next visit of Aboul Hassan to Great Britain occurred in 1819.
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304 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. the Ambassador was about to quit Paris, without having been presented at the Tuilleries. The reason assigned was, that the Mirza expected the King to stand up in his presence, and in that posture receive the letter with which he was intrusted from his master, the Persian Monarch. This the French King could not do, being ill at the time with gout. His Excellency next insisted that he must sit beside his Majesty, or at least in front of him, otherwise he should have his head cut off on his return. As neither of these points of etiquette could be complied with, and the French Court had no desire to be accessory to his decapitation, it was,resolved that the simplest way to avoid difficulties was to dispense with the interview altogether. After much delay and anxious expectation the Ambassador and his fair Circassian arrived at their lodgings in Charles Street, Berkeley Square, London, on the 27th of April 1819. He was waited on by several of the Ministers, and next day gave a dinner to a select party of five, among whom were Lords Castlereagh and Walpole, and Sir Gore Ouseley, who had formerly accompanied him to Persia, None of the visitors, however, were gratified with a glimpse of the Circassian. She occupied the inner drawing-room; and the doh of her apartment, aecording to the newspaper reports of the day (which were probably not entitled to unlimited credence), was constantly guarded by two of the four black eunuchs, with sabres by their sides, who were her only attendants.’ This watchful seclusion of the “Fair Circassian ” tended the more to exaggerate a belief in the reality of her charms. At length the irresistible importunities of his friends induced his Excellency to comply with the wishes of the female portion of the nobility ; and on the first occasion upwards of twenty ladies of distinction were admitted into the presence of the fair incognita. The introduction took place in the front drawing-room, between one and two o’clock. The Circassian was elegantly attired in the costume of her country. Her dress was a rich white satin, fringed with gold, with a bandeau round her head, and a wreath of diamonds. She received her visitors with graceful affability ; and the ladies were highly pleased with her reserved manners. Although not quite such a model of female beauty as “ fancy painted her,” she was nevertheless described, even by her fair critics, as a creature truly admirable, of medium stature, and exquisite symmefry ; her complexion brunette ; her hair jet black, with finely arched black eyebrows ; handsome black penetrating eyes ; and her features regular and pleasing. Lady Augusta Murray, one of the visitors, presented her with a beautiful nosegay, with which she seemed highly pleased. From this period the residence of the Ambassador continued to be daily thronged with ladies of rank, anxious to pay their respects to the interesting stranger ; and all brought with them some elegant and costly present for the decoration of her person. Owing to the indisposition of the Prince Regent, the audience to the Ambasl Aa illustrative of the domestic habits of the ambassador, it waa stated in the journals that he nsually rose at six in the morning-went down stairs to bathe in a common bath hired from a tinsmith- md that his dinner hour was six in the evening. His fair slave, or mistress, was supplied from his own table, the servants in waiting conveying the dishes to her attendant outside the drawing-room.
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