IRAN*, or the vast Empire, which we commonly call PERSIA, is a country bounded on all sides by seas or rivers. It has the Indian sea on the south, and the Caspian directly opposite to it: the Persian gulf, or, as the Asiaticks call it, the Green Sea, the Tigris and Euphrates, the Cyrus and Araxes, the Oxus or Bactrus, and the five branches of the Indus, divide it on the other sides from Arabia, from Syria, from Georgia, from Turkestan, and from India. As all the provinces in this Empire must have changed their boundaries in a course of ages, it will not be easy to reconcile exactly the accounts of ancient and modern Geographers; but we shall attempt to make them agree as nearly as possible.

PARS*, or Persis, has on the south a gulf, to which it gives its name, and along which it extends near three hundred leagues: it has Kermán on the east; Khuzistán on the west; and a vast desert, named Noubendigán, which embraces it on the north, divides it from Khorasán, or, The Province of the Sun. On the border of this desert is the beautiful valley of Baván*, often alluded to by the Arabian poets, which is reckoned one of the four Paradises of Asia; the other three are the vale of Damascus, the banks of the river Obolla, and the plain of Sogd, in the midst of which stands the flourishing city of Samarcand: all these places are said by travellers to be delightfully pleasant; and the mildness of the air, joined to the clearness of the rivulets, which keep a perpetual verdure on the plains, give us the idea of the most charming scenes in nature.

The finest cities in Persis are, 1. SHIRAZ, surrounded with pleasant gardens, and famous for having given birth to the poets, Hafez and Sádi: its inhabitants are fair and well made, and are remarkable for the liveliness of their wit. 2. YEZD, the birth-place of Sharfeddin Ali, an elegant author, who wrote the life of Tamerlane: and, 3. FIRUZABAD, or, The Region of Hap­piness, where a very able grammarian was born, who compiled an admirable dictionary of the Arabick language, which he justly entitled* Alcâmùs, or, The Ocean; he lived in the fourteenth century, and Tamerlane is said to have made him a present of five thousand ducats: he is usually called Firûzabâdi.

When you have passed the desert of Nouben­digân, you enter the province of KHORA­SAN, the Bactriana of the Ancients: it is the most eastern kingdom of Iran, and takes its name from Khór*, an old word for the Sun. It is bounded on the north by the Oxus, on the west by a desert, and on the east by the mountains of Candahár, which separate it from India. Its principal cities, all of which have been at different times the seats of Kings, are, 1. BALKH, where Lohorasp, successor to Cyrus, retired, having placed his son upon the throne of Persia; it was the birth-place of Mirkhond, the historian, and of the sublime poet Gelaleddín, who wrote the Mésnavi, a moral work, highly esteemed in the East. 2. HERAT, the Aria of the Greeks, whence the territory depending on it was called Ariana; it was a magnificent City, till it was ruined by the Tar­tars: the learned Khondemir, who was born in it, gives us a full description of its palaces, mosques, and gardens, in the twelfth chapter of his General History. 3. MERU SHAHJAN, or, The Delight of Kings; it was once a pleasant city, but had the same fate with Herat. 4. NISHA­POR, which was built or repaired by Shapor, son of Ardeshir. Several excellent men were born in this City, the chief of whom were Attár, who wrote a Pendnáma, or book of Instructions, and Cátebi, who composed a poem on the loves of Baharám, king of Persia, and the fair Gulendám. The great square of this city was called Meidán, in which was born a learned gram­marian, thence named Meidáni, who published a large collection of Arabian proverbs, with elabo­rate notes. The other populous city of Khorasan is, 4. TUS, now called MESHEHED, or, The tomb of Martyrs; which was made in this century the Capital of Khorasan; it was the native city of the astronomer Nasíreddîn, and the poet Ferdúsi, who, after a number of adventures, ended his days in it. The little town of JAM or ZAM deserves to be mentioned among these cities, because it was the birth-place of the illustrious JAMI, a most animated and elegant poet, whose beautiful compositions, on a great variety of subjects, are preserved at Oxford in twenty-two volumes. He flourished in the middle of the fifteenth century, and dedicated one of his poems to Mohammed II. The cities of Balkh, Herat, and Meru, or at least the names of them, are very ancient: they are said to be men­tioned by Zerdusht, in the first section of his Pazend, among the sixteen delightful places, which Ormusd raised, and Aherman endeavoured to destroy.

SEGESTAN*, or SISTAN, the Drangiana of the Greeks, has part of the Desert, and Ker­man, on the West, and on the East the country of Gour, famous for a rich mine of turkis-stones, between which and India lies the territory of Ráver; it touches also, at its eastern boundary, the province of MULTAN, which makes a part of Sind: it has another desert, and part of Mocran, on the south, and joins on the north to Zablestán. The country of Segestan consists chiefly of plains, and is very fruitful in palm-trees; it is also rich in mines of gold, the ore of which is uncom­monly pure. Its chief cities are, 1. BOST, whence a moral poet of great reputation in Persia was named BOSTI; and, 2. ZERENGE, which was a populous and commercial town during the reign of the Soffarian princes. This province, and ZABLESTAN, the ancient Ara­chosia, were considered as one principality by the old Persians; and Rostam, the commander under Cyrus, held it as a fief from the Kings of Iran. The cities of note in Zablestán are, 1. CABUL, which, indeed, is generally reckoned the capital of another province, named CABULISTAN, and no man, as the Indians say, can be called the ruler of India, who has not taken possession of Cábul. 2. MEIMEND, an agreeable town, sur­rounded with meadows watered by fresh streams, and with gardens, that produce excellent fruit. 3. GAZNA, or GAZNIN, from which the family of Mahmúd, who conquered these provinces in the tenth century, were called Gaz­nevis; it is an unpleasant city, and its inhabitants are forced to send to Meimend for their fruit and herbage: this city, as well as Cábul, was under the dominion of the Indian Emperor in the present century, but they were an easy conquest to the Persians. 4. BAMIAN, which Genghiz took by storm in the year 1221, and almost ruined, in the violence of his grief for the loss of his grandson, who was killed during the siege.

We may place the large province of SIND* next to Segestán, because, though it is generally reckoned a part of India, yet it comprehends both MOCRAN, the ancient Gedrosia, and MULTAN, which have been considered as provinces of Persia; and here we may observe, that the Easterns divide the Indian Empire into two parts, which they call HIND, and SIND: by Hind, in its strictest sense, they mean the districts on both sides of the Ganges, and by Sind, the country that lies on each side of the Sindáb or Indus, especially where it discharges itself into the ocean. Sind, therefore, including Mocrán and Multán, is bounded on the south by the Indian sea, which embraces it in the form of a bow: it has Hind on the east, and on the west, Kermán, with part of Segestan, which also bounds it on the north; but if, with some Geographers, we make it comprise even Zablestán and Cábul, its northern limits will extend as far as CASHMIR*, that delightful and extraor­dinary valley, celebrated over all Asia for the singular beauty of its inhabitants, the serenity of its air, and the abundance of its delicious fruits: if, again, we include Cashmír also in this division of India, it will reach as far northward as TIBIT or TOBAT, the country of the finest musk, which has China on the east, and Oriental Tartary on the west and north; but we are wandering from our road: let us return to Iran.

The principal cities of Sind are, 1. DAIBUL, where the Portuguese had a settlement. 2. MAN­SURAT, which we by contraction call Surát, situated in the territory of KAMBAIA, a city well known to our merchants and travellers: and 3. BIRUN, famous for being the birth-place of Abu Rihán an excellent Astronomer and Philosopher, who travelled forty years in India in search of knowledge; though some writers suppose him to be a native of another Birún in Kharézm.

Between Mocran, the mountains of which are washed by a branch of the Indus, and Persis, is the province of KERMAN*, or, as the Ancients called it, Carmania; which is bounded by the desert on the north, and on the south by the Persian gulf: the soil of Kermán is extremely dry, as it is watered by no considerable river. The cities of this province are, 1. SIRJAN, which the inhabitants have contrived to water with artificial canals. 2. ZEREND, and 3. HORMUZ, which was formerly on the con­tinent, but was afterwards transferred to an island of the same name in the gulf of Persia. The commerce of this city was removed by the Persians to the port of Abbas, or Gomrón. Many learned men were born in Kerman, the most celebrated of whom were the poets Khájah Kermáni, and Omadeddín: the first of them was remarkable for the richness and splendour of his style, the second for the correctness and elegance of his verses; they both left collections of their Odes and Elegies.

To the west of Pars is the province of KHUZISTAN*, which the Greeks called Susiana; it has no mountain in it, but consists wholly of large plains. It has part of Persian Irák on the north, the Gulf to the south; and it extends westward as far as the plains of Wásset, and the port of Basra, whence Milton says

—————— The south
Of Susiana, to Balsára’s haven.

But he pronounces the word Basra very improperly, and makes also a considerable mis­take, in putting into the mouth of the Tempter the name of a city, which was not built till six hundred years after the Temptation. The princi­pal cities of Khuzistán are, 1. TOSTAR or SHUSTER, the ancient Susa, famous for a manufactory of rich velvets. 2. AHWAZ, which has a large territory, or rather province around it: the country of Ahwaz contains the smaller cities of Corkób, Dourák, Ramhormoz, and Ascar Mocram.

ARABIAN or Babylonian IRAK*, the ancient Babylonia or Chaldea, comprises the districts, which lie on each side of the Tigris, and con­sequently has Mesopotamia on the west, and Cúhistán or Parthia on the east. This was the seat of the Babylonian princes; and the ruins of Babel or Babylon are still shown at some distance from BAGDAD, the capital of the province; which was built in the middle of the eighth century by the Calif Almansór. This city was raised on the spot, where a Persian princess had formerly built a palace, which she called the gift of Bag, the name of her idol; but Almansor named it the Mansion of Peace, because he had just put an end to a fortunate war, when the city was finished. Bagdád was also called ZAURA, by which name the illustrious and amiable Tográï mentions it in his poem, entitled Lamia. The Arabians, who inhabited this City under the Califs, were remarkable for the purity and elegance of their dialect; whence Sadi boasts, that he knew the art of love, as well as a native of Bagdád spoke the language of Arabia. The Tartars, Persians, and Turks have been successively in possession of this city: it was taken in the year 1638 by the Sultan Morad III. and it has remained to this day in the hands of the Turkish princes, for Ahmed, who governed it in the present century, had the address to defend it against the repeated assaults of the Persians. The other considerable cities of Irák are; 2. CUFA, from which the ancient Arabick letters are called Cúfick, for the modern characters were not invented till the beginning of the tenth century. The neighbourhood of Cufa has been rendered sacred to the Persians by the tombs of Ali, and his son Hussein, who was killed on the plain of Kerbelá*. 3. HEIF, remarkable for a fountain of naphtha or bitumen, with which, according to the Oriental tradition, the tower of Babel was built on the plains of Senaar. 4. MADAIN, near which the ancient Ctesiphon probably stood; it was the metropolis of Irak in the reign of Perviz, whose throne of massy gold, covered with jewels, together with other inestimable treasures, was found in it, after the battle of Cadessia, and plun­dered by the Arabs. 5. HOLVAN, where the Califs used to reside in summer for the freshness of its air; it stands in the mountains between the two Iraks: and, lastly, BASRA a com­mercial City well known to our merchants; it is unpleasantly situated, by reason of the uncommon dryness of the soil; but not far from it the river Obolla flows through a delightful valley, and makes it one of the most beautiful spots in Asia. In this city was born the cele­brated Hariri, who composed a moral work in fifty dissertations on the changes of fortune, and the various conditions of human life, interspersed with a number of agreeable adven­tures, and several fine pieces of poetry: the style of these discourses* is so rich, elegant, and flowery, that a man, who understands them accurately, may justly be called a perfect master of the Arabick language.

PERSIAN IRAK, named also CUHISTAN or the mountainous country, and GEBAL, which has the same sense in Arabick, seems to be the Parthia of the Ancients: it is remarkable, that the words Parthia and Persia were both taken from one word, that is, Pars, or Parth, for the Asiaticks had a letter, which they sometimes pronounced th, and sometimes s; Pars* signifies a Leopard, and the country might, perhaps, have taken its name from its being infested with beasts of that species: but this is only offered as a conjecture, and the fact, on which it is grounded, may hap­pen not to be true; it adds, however, some weight to this opinion, that the people of Asia frequently gave names to countries from the animals which were found in them, or the plants which they produced: thus part of Africa was, very probably, named Libya from Lebia*, which signifies a Lioness in the eastern dialects. It may be worth while to remark in this place, that the Old man of the mountain, who is mentioned in our accounts of the Crusades, was no other than a Prince of the Ismaëlian family, who reigned in Gebal, or the mountainous province, with the title of Sheikh, an Arabick word, signi­fying an Old man as well as a Prince.

The two Iraks are said to be fine provinces; and their beauties are particularly described by the Persian poet Khacáni in his poem entitled Ira­kein, the dual number of Irak.

The principal cities of Cuhistán are, 1. ISPAHAN, which the Sefi family made the Metropolis of their kingdom. The splendour and riches of this city under Abbas, and his imme­diate successors, are well known in Europe by the relations of Chardin, who has described them with a minute exactness; but for us, who prefer the genius of its inhabitants to the luxury of its Kings, it will be sufficient to mention the learned men, who were born in it: the chief of them were Omád Elcáteb, who published the life of Seláheddin, whom we call Saladin, in seven volumes, and an account of the Siege of Jerusalem in a separate work, both written in a flowery and elevated style; and the poet Kemàleddín, who left a Diván, or collection of his elegant verses. 2. HAMADAN, an agreeable city, situated near the mountain Alvénd, and remarkable for a fresh and temperate air; it was the birth-place of an eloquent writer, who produced some rhetorical discourses, in imitation of which, Haríri com­posed his admirable dissertations. 3. KOM, where the richest Persian silks were woven. 4. CASHAN, famous likewise for its manufactory of silk, and for the dangerous venom of its scorpions, which has even passed into a proverb. 5. CAZVIN, called also Gemálabád, or the Region of Beauty, where many able scholars, and learned historians were born. 6. REI, the most northern city of Parthia, in which were born the sublime philoso­pher Fakhreddín, and the physician, commonly called Rázi, whose works begin to be known in Europe, as those of Boerhave begin to be studied in Asia: and 7. NOHAVEND, celebrated for being the scene of the last battle, which the Persians were able to give to the Arabs, who gained a complete victory under the command of Ebn Yemen in the year of Christ 641, on a day which the Arabians call* The victory of victories. These cities, together with Abher, Sava, and others, have been exactly described by the traveller Chardin.

The province of Cuhistán has on the East the vast desert of Noubendigán, and, on the West, Azarbigian, the ancient Media; its southern limits are the borders of Susiana; its northern, part of Dilem and Mazenderán.

AZARBIGIAN*, or Media, ARRAN or Atro­patia, and ARMENA, or Armenia, are considered by some Eastern Geographers as One Province or Kingdom, and we may, therefore, describe them together. They are bounded on the east by part of Cuhistán, and the Caspian provinces, on the west, by Rûm, or the lower Asia; on the north they have Georgia and Circassia, on the south, a canton of Mesopotamia, and Curdistân, part of the ancient Assyria. The most remark­able cities of Azarbigián are; 1. ARDEBIL, considered as sacred by the Persians, for contain­ing the tombs of Sefiaddîn and Heider, the venerable ancestors of the Sefi family. 2. TABRIZ, commonly called Tauris, which, in the last cen­tury, was a large and beautiful city, but has been much impaired during the late disorders in Persia: it stands at the foot of a mountain, which the Greeks called Orontes, a word cor­rupted, perhaps, from Orond; and a small river winds through its streets. The air of Tauris is cool, dry, and so healthy, that it is said to have taken its name from its quality of resisting any noxious infection; for Tab signifies a fever, and Ríz is the participle of Ríkhten, to disperse*. There was an ancient city, which stood nearly in the same place, and is called <Greek> by Ptolemy. The most illustrious person born at Tabriz, was the poet Hemám, who flourished in the thirteenth century, and was contemporary with Sadi. There is a very agreeable story told by M. d’Herbelot of these two poets, which, though foreign from the subject of geography, deserves to be inserted. Sâdi, who spent his youth in travelling, hap­pened to meet Hemám in a certain city, either in a bath or at a banquet: they conversed for a long time without knowing one another, and discovered the places of their birth; some time after, Hemám, observing that Sadi was almost bald, a defect imputed to the air of Shiraz, showed him the bottom of a cup, which he held in his hand, and asked him how it happened, that the heads of the Shirazians were like that cup: Sadi, without hesitating, took the cup, and, presenting the hollow part of it to his companion, tell me first, said he, how it happens that the heads of the Tabrizians are like this. Hemám, who was very rich and well born, was surprised at so smart a reply from a dervise, for Sadi used to travel in that dress, and began to treat him with more respect: “You come, said he, from Shiraz; do you know Sádi? has he composed any new piece of poetry?Sadi replied, that he knew him, and repeated some of his finest verses. The other was highly pleased with them, and asked him if the people of Shiraz set any value on the poems of Hemám; he answered, that they were greatly admired, and repeated a couplet taken from them, which intimated, “that there was a veil between his beloved and him, but that it was time to remove it, and have a full view of her perfec­tions.” Upon this they made themselves known to each other, and cultivated the strictest friend­ship till their death.

The great cities of Arran and Armenia are, GANGIA, and ERIVAN, its Capital, a large but unpleasant town, without any fine edifice in it, or any other ornament than a number of gardens, and vineyards. Some Geographers, and among them the prince of Hamah, place in Armenia the cities which we consider as belonging to Georgia or Gurgistán; these are SHAMCUR, and TEFLIS, a city not large but tolerably elegant: it is washed on the eastern side by the river Ker or Cyrus, and defended on the other sides by strong and beautiful walls.

SHIRVAN* and DAGHESTAN* or The coun­try of rocks, are those provinces which Milton calls

——The Hyrcanian cliffs
Of Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales.

The first of them seems to be derived from Shír, a lion, and the second from Dágh, a cliff. Daghestan, the ancient Albania, which is inhabited by a bold and warlike race of banditti, called Lekzies, reaches along the Caspian to the borders of the Russian Empire: it has on the north the vast desert of Capchác, which has ever been the nursery of hardy and untamed war­riours; and extends from the Wolga to the immense regions of north-eastern Tartary or Siberia. The cities of Shirván are, 1. BACU, a port on the Caspian lake, whence it is called the Sea of Bácu: 2. SHAMAKHI, a city well known to the Russians: and 3. DERBEND or the barrier, which stands at the foot of Mount Caucasus or Keitáf, and commands the Caspian: this place was called by the ancients Caspiæ portæ, by the Turks, Demir Capi, or, the gate of iron, and by the Arabs, Bábelabwáb* or the important pas­sage. It was anciently considered as the boundary of the Persian Empire, and an old king of Persia built to the north of it a vast wall, like that of China, which has been repaired at differ­ent times, in order to prevent the incursions of the Khozárs, and other savage nations, who infested the rocks between the Caspian and Euxine seas. Some ruins of this mound are still to be seen, and the cement of it is as hard as marble. This city was once thought so con­siderable, that the governor of it had the privi­lege of giving audience in a golden chair, whence the territory around it was called Serîreddhehab, or, the throne of gold*.

DILEM and GHILAN, the country, perhaps, of the ancient Cadusü and Gelæ, are described together by the illustrious Geographer Abu’l Fedá, prince of Hámah, who reckons but seven towns in them, neither of which are at all remarkable: these provinces, according to him, contain two degrees from south to north, and about three from west to east. These two coun­tries, joined to TABERESTAN, and MAZEN­DERAN*, seem to form the great kingdom, called by the Ancients Hyrcania and Margiana. The capital of Mazenderán is, A??TERABAD, which stands in the territory of Jorján; and the chief city of Taberestan is, AMOL, the birth-place of Ibn Joreir or Taberi, an exact and agreeable Historian, whose work was pub­lished in Arabick at the beginning of the tenth century, and has since been translated by eminent writers into Persian and Turkish.

Khuarezm, or KHAREZM*, the country of the ancient Chorasmü, lies on each side of the Oxus, as far as the place where it formerly discharged itself into the Caspian; so that it belongs partly to Irán, partly to Turán: it has great Tartary on the north and north-east, Khorasán on the south, and is bounded on the east by the Transoxan provinces. The word Kharezm signifies in old Persian an easy conquest, and took its name, we are told, from an expression of Cyrus, who, having in this country, defeated a numerous army of Turanians, with little loss on his side, was heard to say Kharezmi búd, or, it was an easy victory; a tradi­tion, which seems to prove the antiquity of the Persian language, for Rezm, in the modern dialect, signifies a battle, and Búd, it was. The Kharezmians have always been esteemed lovers of musick and poetry; some of their verses are preserved in Arabick, which are very sprightly and elegant. They have not a very warm climate, for their rivers are generally frozen in winter. The principal cities of Kharezm are, 1. CORCANGE, whose inhabitants used to traffick in raw silk and saffron; it stands on the west of the Oxus, which in this place bends its course to the north. 2. CATH, once the capital of the province. 3. HEZARESB, famous for a castle almost impregnable. 4. DARGAN, the first city which you enter, if you come from Merú in Khorasán. 5. ZAMAKHSHAR, renowned only for being the birth-place of a great scholar and able grammarian, commonly called Zamakhshari*, author of a most learned and entertaining work in ninety-nine chapters, which he chose to entitle Al Rabî, or The Vernal Recreation*: to these cities Abulfeda adds FARABR a small town close to the Oxus, near which the river is fordable.

BADAKHSHAN and TOKHARESTAN*, the countries of the ancient Massagetæ, lie towards the source of the Gihún or Oxus, and are separated from Turán by the district of Khotlán, and the town of Vakhsh, which stands in a pleasant and fruitful territory. There is a city also named Badakhshán, near which are some mines, where the balass rubies are commonly found. We have a collection of poems by a native of this country, who is commonly called Badakshi; one of his couplets is quoted by M. d’Herbelot, in which he compares the life of man to an hour­glass, that is always alternately high and low*. On the south of Badakshán is the province and city of CANDAHAR*, situated in the moun­tains, which the Greeks called Paropamisus.

ALGEZIRAH, or the Peninsula, for so the Arabians call the province of Mesopotamia, lies, as its Greek name imports, between the two rivers Tigris and Euphrates, or, as the Easterns call them, Degelah, and Forát. This extensive country is divided into four Diár, or cantons, which took their names from as many Arabian tribes, who formerly settled in them; that of Becr is best known to our Geographers. The principal cities of Mesopotamia are, 1. ROHA, called by our writers Edessa, which was taken by the Crusaders, and afterwards recovered by the Persians from Baldwin, King of Jerusalem. 2. HARRAN, which the Romans called Carrhæ, where Crassus and his army were defeated. 3. RACCA, not Aracta, as it is written in the maps, the birth-place of the astronomer Batáni, a very accurate observer of the heavens. 4. NAS­SIBIN, the Nisibe of the Ancients, which has been a subject of perpetual contention between the Persian and Roman Emperors: and, 5. MUSEL, near which it is supposed, that Niniveh was anciently built; it was the native city of an excellent musician, thence named Múseli, who, by the power of his melody, is said to have reconciled the Calif Al Rashíd to the fair Maridah, his mistress, at whose behaviour he had taken some offence.