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" As Eastern priests in giddy circles run,
And turn their heads to imitate the sun."
Sketch of the Guebres. City of Yezd. Atishgar, and banishment of
the Fire-worshippers out of Persia. Their dissent. The Rusmiz and Cadmiz. Conversation with a Parsee. My friend Nesserwanjee. Love of imitating English customs. Outcasts rejected. How they dispose of their dead. Dockmehs, or Temples of Silence. Religion. Oramanes and Arimanes. The Zendavista. Ormuzd and the Great Spirit. Devout Parsees. The water called zor. Sacred cord. The two converts, Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy, his munificent gifts of charity, his knighthood, and opinions of his friends, his wealth and carriages. Lord Keen and the invitation to a ball. Parsee ladies, Town and country house. Visit to Sir Jamsetjee's house in the Fort. Elegant rooms and furniture. Prodigal expenditure at feasts, &c. A bridegroom's folly. Visit to the Burra Babee. Her jewels and diamond necklace. Mourning for the dead. Our salaams, &c., &c.
HAVING made some allusion to the Giaours, Guebres, Sabrians, Parsees, or Fire-worshippers-for they are all one and the same people—it may, perhaps, not prove uninteresting to those who are not very familiar with the history of this strange sect, if I introduce to their notice one of these remarkable
men, and add him to our list of national portraits. But before we speak of Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy individually, it is necessary that we should take a little journey into Persia. We will not linger among its rose-gardens, for we must pass over sandy deserts and lofty mountains, as fast as our camels will carry us, until we cross the borders of Farsistan, and enter the province of Irak Agemi, whence a guide will conduct us to the caravanzera of Yezd, and the city of which we are in search.
Yezd has long been celebrated for its manufactures. We are delighted with its porcelain works, and long to carry home with us some of those soft rugs and carpets, so much sought after by the luxurious Turks, to supply their harems. The hand-loom is busy at work. Rich silks and showy cottons attract our notice, as we ramble through the close and ill-ventilated bazaars, and foreign merchants, in odd costumes, crowd around us, and dispute the footpath with us. “ Dog of an infidel,” cries one, as, elbowing his way out of an opium shop, he puffs a cloud of scented tobacco-smoke in our face ; “ By Allah, that's a Giaour," says another. We have excited curiosity. A short, plump, animal-looking Mussulman, armed with a little brief authority, taps us on the shoulder, and demands our business in the city of Yezd ;* and if we cannot satisfactorily prove
The district of Yezd is, somewhat inconsistently in a geographical point of view, considered as belonging to Irak, for it assuredly makes part of Khorasan. It is an oasis in the vast desert which reaches from the
to him, that we are neither Giaour nor Guebre, be insists upon our paying him at once a sum of money varying from five to fifty rupees, just as he may estimate our ability to comply with his demands. Such is the way in which these hated Mohammedans levy their black-mail upon all poor pilgrims who annually resort hither to pay their vows at the shrine of one whom they detest, and whose name has become a by-word among them. The love of gain, however, has long got the better of their religious scruples; and the fire, which Zoroaster is said to have first kindled in the temple of Yezd, and which is fed with costly wood night and day, by a few unbelievers, who are permitted to live in the city and keep it up, still continues to blaze in spite of persecution. In process of time these Fire-worshippers became a dispersed
Elburz to Kerman. The city is built in a large sandy plain nearly encompassed by hills; but a thinly.inhabited tract in which there are several respectable towns and villages extending in the direction of Ispahan, from which it lies due east. In spite of the dryness of the soil and climate the territory produces good fruits. silk and corn, but not enough of the latter to serve more than forty days' consumption. Yezd, with all these disadvantages is among the most prosperous cities in Persia; and this it owes to its commerce and manufactures. It is one of the great entrepots between the east and west. Caravans from Cabul, Cashmere, Bokhara, Herat, Mushed, Kerman, are met by merchants from Ispahan, Shiraz, Cashan, Teheran and an immense interchange of commodities takes place. On the other hand, its manufactures of silk and other stuffs, its felts, sugar-candy and sweetmeats, command a ready market every where. The population was stated to Captain Christie to be about 50,000 souls, and among them are 300 families of Ghebres or followers of Zoroaster, an industrious and patient race, who in spite of a heavy taxation turn their attention busily to trade and agriculture."-TRAVELS IN KHORASAN.
people ; and Mohammedan tyranny is said to have driven out thousands, friendless and destitute, into foreign lands. Numbers of these poor exiles found a shelter in Guzerat. Some were sold as slaves to different Indian princes; and after the death of their leader they were scattered to the four winds of heaven. Wherever they are
now met with in Hindostan, they tell you, that they brought with them some of the sacred fire that burns in one of Zoroaster's beloved Atishgahs at Yezd ; that in their new home they have erected a temple for its reception and honour; that Dasturs, or priests, watch over it; and that no one of a faith different from theirs is permitted to enter the sacred building. Here, however, as elsewhere, the uneasy spirit of dissent has broken the tender ties of kindred and country which originally bound this persecuted sect together; and the Fire-worshippers of India are now divided and subdivided into many jarring parties. The Rusmiz, not content with the doctrines which Zoroaster taught them, have imbibed, from long association, many of the popular superstitions of their Hindoo neighbours. Thus, young people, whom curiosity tempted at first to join as spectators, the gaudy and glittering ceremonials of Brahmanism, grew up in time converts to it. The Cadmiz alone boast of having preserved pure the faith of their forefathers. It is unnecessary
that their religion has sank to an idolatrous worship of the fire and sun : though a Parsee in Bombay told me that he did not worship the sun; for
that he knew to be folly; but as the sun was the most glorious thing which the Great Spirit had created, he fixed his eyes upon it as he repeated his Zendavista; for he knew that God was behind it. When I told him that God was every where, and that he had especially forbidden man to bow down and worship the sun, and moon, and stars, and all the host of heaven; that nothing could displease him more than such worship—he was silent; so I went on, and told him, that one of the great objects England and other christian countries had in view in sending out missionaries to India, was to persuade the Hindoos to forsake the worship of blocks of wood and stone. Here, he interrupted me; and said, in an excited manner, that the Hindoos were a horrid and bad people; pointed out to me all their errors, and appeared thankful that he was not one of them. So prone are we to see the defects of our fellow-creatures, while we shut our eyes to our own. I was about to remind him of the sacred fire which he himself worshipped in the temple, when a sudden thought seemed to flash across his mind.
“ You say," he observed, “that you send out Padres to teach the Hindoos not to pray to wood and stone ; how is it then, you have so many in England who worship a figure in their temples, just as the Portuguese do here, but I cannot remember the name they give it, or that of the woman, of whom they have so many pictures, and about whom they talk so much." Nesserwanjee had here put to me a rather difficult