Return to Isphahan.

I RETURNED again to Isphahan, and saw my brothers, my father's connexions, and my friends. Since the death of my venerable uncle in Lahi­jan, by the progressive manifestation of untoward events, and the confusion which arose from various causes in most places of Gilan, the means of sub­sistence, which came to us from our hereditary possessions, and were our chief resource in life, had begun every year to decrease: and after the death of my father, by reason of the ruin of those places, and there being no person of skill in busi­ness and ability to remedy grievances in that province, much loss was sustained even in that which should have been ours; and what came to us in the year was not sufficient for the necessary expenditure of a month. At last, by the invasion of a Russian army into that province, and the increase of anarchy and confusion, our income was at once cut off, and most of our property and estates fell away from all profit and cultivation. The little which did remain, was diverted to the possession of others, and the small portion, which, by their own measure, they gave to the daughters and relicts of my deceased uncle, was insufficient even for the expenses of the latter; so that turn­ing away our expectations from that quarter, we were reduced to live on what remained in our hands. As to myself, I had no disposition or ability for the acquisition of worldly riches; nor have I now: and to have recourse to any person, and, displaying to him my wants, to accept his favour and generosity, however many sincere friends I might have among the exalted Sovereigns and the most beneficent princes of mankind, to me, with my nice sense of honour and delicate high-mindedness, would be impossible. My inclina­tion is, to confer benefits, and to spread gifts among the whole human race. With such a pro­pensity, to live empty-handed and shorn of ability to the extent of my wish, is the most disagreeable and vexatious of all things, and the hardest of misfortunes.

A Philosopher was asked, who of all men in the world stands in the worst condition? He answered,* That person, whose mind expands far, whose wishes range wide, but whose power is contracted. It is utterly impossible for the soul of the high-minded, to resign itself and body to meanness. The ways of gaining what our wants demand, by laudable methods, are, at most times, not to be found; yet the alternative of baseness and infamy is ineligible to the noble heart.

The free-minded man would die of destitution;
He would never fill his belly from the alms of a brother.

How well has Sheikh Ferîd Oddin Attâr written on this subject:

A person asked our venerable friend,
What he liked? He said, Abuse;
For every thing else they give me,
Besides abuse, lays me under obligation.

However, it was not long, before the distress of Isphahan and its blockade took place. The brief history of that affair, one of the most surprising turns of the juggler, Fortune, is this:

A tribe of Kilizehi* Afghans, who constituted the meaner part of the population of Candahar, and a certain number of whom were from time to time enlisted among the troops of that frontier, and maintained themselves in the service of the Gover­nor there: of this body, a person named Mir Veis, was the Reyyis, or Chief. This man, by fraud and stratagem, murdered on the hunting-ground of the village of Dah Sheikh, the Amir Olomarâ, or Com­mander-in-chief, of that frontier, Shah Navâz Khan; and having surprised the fort of Candahar, he gained possession of abundant treasures, and was supported by the whole nation of Afghans. From the vestibule of the Soltan Shah Hosein Safavi, whom God cherish in his clemency! that prepa­ration of means, which might have extinguished the fire of this rebellion, never obtained a state of forwardness to ensure its success; and the afore­said Afghans maintained their possession of the fort, till Mir Veis died. After him his son, Mah­môd by name, stood in his father's place, and extended the hand of usurpation and tyranny over those territories. Sometimes in that king­dom he assumed the state and spread the carpet of sovereignty, and sometimes he transmitted humble petitions to the Court of his Soltan. Many ages having now elapsed, since civilization, tran­quillity, and the accomplishment of all worldly blessings had attained a state of perfection in the beautiful provinces of Irân, these were become a fit object for the affliction of the malignant eye. The indolent King and princes, and the army that sought nothing but repose and for near a hundred years had not drawn the sword from the scabbard, would not even trouble themselves to think of quelling this disturbance, until Mahmôd, with a large army, marched into the provinces of Kerman and Yazd, and having committed much plunder and devastation, proceeded on his route to Isphahan. This happened in the early part of the year one thousand one hundred and thirty-four (A. D. 1721).

When he approached this court of empire, the Itimâd Addowla, or Chief Minister, with all the princes and army that were in attendance on the King, received orders to repel him. One of the causes of the fatal events, that followed, was, that over an army composed of so many persons, no two of them, from the recklessness to which they had abandoned themselves, and the insincerity of their minds, could be brought to agree, that one should be the Amir, or Commander, and the other the Sardâr, or Leader. In short, the two armies met in the environs of the city; the Afghans were victorious, the Omaras completely defeated. The greatest part of the population of the neighbouring villages, abandoning their habitations, retired with all their appurtenances into the city, and created confusion among a people, who had never even imagined a similar disorder. The eyes of all were on the princes, destitute as the latter were of plan and counsel, and it remained impossible for the commonalty to seek a remedy, as they might other­wise have done, in the destruction of the enemy by their own means. Mahmôd, advancing with his army to the gate of the city, took up his quarters in the buildings of Farrokh Abâd, which of themselves formed a city and strong fort: and whatever necessary supplies he wanted, he brought to his army from the large villages near him, which had been deserted by their owners; and thus making himself master of stores for many years collected, he destroyed by fire, what his own consumption required not.