OMAR was succeeded by a race of Califs, the Popes of Asia, who assumed at once a regal and a priestly character, the one as conquerors of Persia, and the other as successors of Maho­med. The family of OMMIA preserved their power and dignity; but, under the house of ABBAS, the Califate was reduced to a shadow of sovereignty, and their Empire was divided among a number of independent Princes.

The division of the Empire prepared it for dissolution; the sons of GENGHIZ, who led a numerous army of Tartars over the Oxus, found the conquest of Persia an easy task. It is related, that Holagu, a Mogul prince, who put an end to the Califate in the thirteenth century, was incited to besiege Bagdad by the great astronomer Nassireddîn, who had taken offence at the Calif’s behaviour to him; so that the subversion of a splendid Empire was owing to the resentment of a private Philosopher*. The Genghizians were followed by TIMUR, improperly called Tamerlane, whose dominions extended from the Ganges to the borders of Museovy, and from the Archipelago to the frontiers of China; which kingdom he was beginning to invade at the time of his death. The metropolis of his Empire was Samarcand, a rich and flourishing city, the ancient Maracanda, situated in the beautiful valley of Sogd, about a day’s journey from Cash, the place of his birth. At the opening of the fif­teenth century, not many months before his death, he celebrated the nuptials of his sons and grandsons by a sumptuous festival in a delightful plain called Gánigul*, or The Treasury of Roses. All the riches of Xerxes and Darius, of which our historians talk so extravagantly, were trifling in comparison of the jewels and gold exhibited on this occasion.

His vast possessions were inherited by the illustrious SHAHROKH, who distributed them among his children. In his reign the princes of the BLACK RAM grew very powerful and insolent; they were, however, reduced by UZUN HASSAN, or Hassan the Tall, who was the sixth king of the WHITE RAM, and sub­dued many provinces of Persia, but was defeated by Sultan Mahomed II. who took Constantinople in the middle of the fifteenth century. These two families were distinguished by the Rams of different colours, which were painted on their ensigns.

The sons of Hassan weakened their Empire by their violent dissensions; and, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, left it open to ISMAIL, whose grandfather Juneid had married a daughter of Hassan. This prince is considered as the founder of the Sefi family, but his ancestor SHEIKH SEFI was the true cause of its rise. The story of that singular man deserves to be told at full length. When Timur returned to Persia, after his victories in Syria, he passed through Ardebil, a large city of Media. There lived at that time in this city a man named Sefieddín, or the Purity of Religion, by contraction Sefi, who was much respected by the Citizens, as a Philosopher of singular virtue and piety, and a reputed descendant from the prophet Ali. The Tartarian Conqueror, who was not inferiour to Alexander, visited Sefi, who was far more benevolent than Diogenes; and at that time Tamer­lane happened to have with him a great number of captives in chains, for the most part natives of Carmania, whom he had determined to put to death upon some publick occasion. He was charmed with the conversation of the philosopher, and, like the Macedonian Hero, offered to give him any thing he could desire. The Sage pointed to the Captives, and entreated him to save the lives of those young Carmanians who were in his train. Timur consented; and gave them all to Sefi as his slaves; but the virtuous old man supplied them with the necessaries of life, and sent them to their native city. The families of those prison­ers, who were the principal men of Carmania, retained so grateful a sense of this benefit, that they expressed it in the most extravagant man­ner: they made it the business of their lives to visit their benefactor and to carry him presents; and even enjoined their children to pay the same respect to the posterity of this excellent man. But all his descendants had not his benevolence; and Ismail employed those very Carmanians in raising him to the throne of Persia, and in sub­stituting the sect of Ali, his real or supposed ancestor, to that of Omar, the acknowledged successor of Mahomed.

Ismail had many eminent qualities, but sullied them all by his detestable cruelty. His successors, without excepting ABBAS, absurdly called the Great, were such a disgrace to human nature, that an account of their lives would be more like a description of the Tigers in some publick collection of wild beasts, than a piece of history: almost every day of their lives was distinguished by some horrid act of intemperance, lust, or murder, aggravated with some new circum­stance of wickedness: their very love was fierce and inhuman, and they burned for the slightest offences the most beautiful women of Asia, either because they declined drinking a cup of wine more than usual, or interceded for some courtier in disgrace. At length the vein of inhumanity seemed exhausted in the family, and left nothing behind it but an inconceivable stu­pidity.

HUSSEIN, who reigned at the opening of this century, was a weak Zealot; and, by committing the management of his kingdom to Eunuchs and pernicious Ministers, left it open to the Savages who invaded it, and assaulted him even in his Metropolis. A barbarous nation, called Afgans, or Avgans*, who inhabited the moun­tains between Candahar and the river Indus, rushed like a torrent into Persia, and took Ispahan after a violent siege, under the command of MAHMUD, son of MIRVEIS, who, as all Europe knows, had shaken off the Persian yoke, and governed Candahar for eight years*.

The kingdom of Persia was reduced to a deplorable state, when TAHMASP was raised to the throne, after the abdication of his father Hussein, who was soon after murdered. Mahmud, the Usurper reigned in Ispahan, and was suc­ceeded by his cousin Ashraf*, who added to his dominions the cities of Kom, Yezd, and Kazvin. The inhabitants of Candahar, the ancient Paro­pamisus, and those of Herat or Ariana had thrown off their allegiance to the Sultan, having established separate and distinct governments: in the provinces of Ghilán, Kermán, and Pars, several pretenders arose at the head of con­siderable forces: the rebel Melek had made himself master of Khorasan, ordered money to be coined in his name, and wore the diadem of Persia; the Turks had subdued great part of Azarbigian or Media, and all the districts near the shore of the Caspian were in the hands of the Russians. This was not all; a number of barbarous tribes, who inhabited the forests and mountains, joined in the general commotion, and concurred to fill the whole Empire with desolation and rapine; while the new Emperor, who had scarce common sense, was driven like a fugitive from city to city, attended only by a few troops, and some Nobles as weak as himself.

At this time a young man, named NADER­KULI, or The Servant of the Wonderful, advanced from the deserts bordering on the Caspian Sea, and attacked the enemies of his country. It is He, of whose life and actions we propose to give a succinct account in the following work.