Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][merged small]

cerned, is complete—a Persian may not float a flag there—traverses the titanic Elburz chain and passes through the historic city of Kasvin, once the Persian capital. There is a wealth

bornly refused to build a railroad uniting the Anatolian towns on the Black Sea coast with Constantinople. The belief of the Turk is that to yield to the long demand for this road, though it would confessedly give new impetus to places without number, in the interior of Asia Minor, as well as along the littoral, would in the end be to furnish a means for Russian troops some day to approach Stamboul. It was this same dread of Russian intrusion that for so long a time kept the Persians from restoring the road between Resht and Teheran. The approach to the capital from the north was, until a few years ago, the most insufferably bad road in northern Persia, but here again the Russian has cleared his own pathway. There has been built by a Russian company a first-class high road in place of the rude and sometimes absolutely impracticable track with which the Persians had long been satisfied.

This road, which is of inestimable importance in view of the fact that Russia's mastery of the Caspian, so far as ships are

[graphic]

con

MILITARY GEORGIAN ROAD, UTSHET BRIDGE

[ocr errors]

tion several years ago, before British influence in the Shah's country had become a memory. Among the concessions which Sir Drummond Wolfe obtained for Englishmen was that of the Persian Road Company. This was organized, with charter rights, for the building of a toll road from Teheran to the head of the Persian Gulf. The enterprise was financed by the Imperial Bank of Persia, another of Wolfe's creations. Surveys were made of the entire route, and the road actually built from Teheran to Kum, a distance of about seventy miles. At the end of three years £200,000 had been expended, but the Persians rebelled at the payment of tolls, and refused to use the road. The expensive bridges were useless, for in the Shah's realm time is the cheapest of all commodities, and the natives, when the streams were fooded, waited for them to subside,

usually a matter of only two or three days, THE REAL KURDISH CHIEF

rather than use the bridges. The Bank still

keeps the road in repair in hope of selling it. of suggestion in its form of construction which The customer is at hand, and waiting for the is identical with that of the military roads price to decline, and it is safe to predict that through Georgia and Transcaucasia, even to the English trade route will in the end bethe rows of posts along the embankments and come a continuation of the Russian highway precipices and the Russian colors on the from Resht to Teheran, and then be combarriers.

pleted to the Gulf, in accordance with the But its real significance is clear only when original plans of the English engineers. attention is given to another piece of road Indeed, it seems reasonable enough to doubt building, accomplished by an English corpora if the Imperial Bank itself, which started with

[graphic]
[graphic][merged small]

such brilliant prospects, will survive the ten doctors and ministers and wives, and 5,000 sion to the end of its charter term, which is other of his subjects as far as the border, ninety-nine years. Its prerogatives, like started for St. Petersburg. everything else that is English, have been In the military arm of the Persian estabmaterially curtailed since the Russians ob- lishment, as in nearly all else, Russian intained the whip hand. Its chief support was fluence has become paramount. The Hunderived from lending money to the Persian garian drill officers, who for years have been government at interest of fifteen per cent., employed to control the organization, equipand the importation of silver bullion to be ment and training of Persian troops, have struck into krans (the commercial unit of gradually been displaced to make room for value, about ten cents) in Teheran. That Russians, thus ensuring perfect cognizance, part of its business has been withdrawn since at least, of what war force the Shah has at the Russian loan, and the bank is not allowed his disposal. The effect of the exchange is to take mortgages on property. It conducts plain. The Hungarians organized infantry; a foreign exchange, and has, under the pro the new regiments now forming are cavalry, visions of its charter, a monopoly of the issu and cavalry that might be transmuted into ance of paper money. This currency was Russian in a day, so far as dress or tactics made the means of an attack on the institu

are concerned. The commanding officers, in tion about two years ago, which only chance many of them, hold rank in the Russian prevented from resulting disastrously. The army; the uniform is the uniform of the paper issue was industriously collected through- Cossack; the weapons and I have examined out the kingdom, and a vast quantity of it several of them in the possession of pickets presented for redemption at the Bank's branch and patrol riders along the roads of Persia — in Tabriz. It so happened that an unusually are chiefly the product of Russian armories. large amount of silver was stored in the vaults Again, observe the Kurds. The hardest at the time, preparatory to shipment, and the problem with which Persia has had to deal, demand for specie was met.

Before return since Russia's suppression of the man-stealing ing the paper to circulation, the Bank officials Turkomans, has been the restraint of these improved the opportunity to stamp it “Pay- Western border men, who are a continual able only in Tabriz,”—or Shiraz, or Teheran menace to Persian peace. No enterprise of a certain amount for each branch throughout any moment can be begun by the Persian the kingdom. But the end is not yet. The government without assurance in advance that Russians have established a banque de prets during the time required for it the Kurds will at Teheran, to which a great part of the be quiet. Nobody has ever subdued these Persian business is being diverted, and reckless warriors yet, though many have tried branches of which are to be started in other it. It is a task no Persian general would uncities in competition with the English concerns. dertake gladly. The Russian is beginning to It is in such and divers ways that the Rus go another

way

about it. He will use them. sian power is sinking its roots deeper and Indeed it is not unlikely that in some ways deeper into Persian soil. It is never demon he has used them already. When the Shah, strative, but it is never idle. A single memo after repeated visitations to St. Petersburg, randum concerning the kingdom's financial and corresponding periods of royal extravacondition is sufficient to show that Russia's gance in Paris, was perilously near having present plan of acquisition can be pursued worn out his welcome in Europe and still deuntil the swallowing of Persia is complete, clared that he had no appetite for going home, and, given adequate resources, it should there came out of Persia, where Russian not take so long, either. The temporary agencies are in plenty, a most timely and relief which is afforded by the loans can effective report that the Kurds, though they not turn back the tide which has so rapidly, had promised to abide peaceably in their of late years, been cutting away the fin mountains until the Shah's junket should be ancial underpinning of Persia. Under the over, were making ready for an uprising. stimulus of the principal loan before referred The Shah promptly packed up and started to, the kran advanced in value to forty-six, to home, for this was about the most disconcertthe pound sterling ; but it shortly fell again ing news he could receive. Nothing has been to fifty-one, and the Shah, attended by his heard of the Kurdish uprising since. It was

tion several years ago, before British influence in the Shah's country had become a memory. Among the concessions which Sir Drummond Wolfe obtained for Englishmen was that of the Persian Road Company. This was organized, with charter rights, for the building of a toll road from Teheran to the head of the Persian Gulf. The enterprise was financed by the Imperial Bank of Persia, another of Wolfe's creations. Surveys were made of the entire route, and the road actually built from Teheran to Kum, a distance of about seventy miles. At the end of three years £200,000 had been expended, but the Persians rebelled at the payment of tolls, and refused to use the road. The expensive bridges were useless, for in the Shah's realm time is the cheapest of all commodities, and the natives, when the streams were flooded, waited for them to subside, usually a matter of only two or three days,

rather than use the bridges. The Bank still THE REAL KURDISH CHIEF

keeps the road in repair in hope of selling it. of suggestion in its form of construction which The customer is at hand, and waiting for the is identical with that of the military roads price to decline, and it is safe to predict that through Georgia and Transcaucasia, even to the English trade route will in the end bethe rows of posts along the embankments and come a continuation of the Russian highway precipices and the Russian colors on the from Resht to Teheran, and then be combarriers.

pleted to the Gulf, in accordance with the But its real significance is clear only when original plans of the English engineers. attention is given to another piece of road Indeed, it seems reasonable enough to doubt building, accomplished by an English corpora- if the Imperial Bank itself, which started with

[graphic]
[graphic][merged small]

such brilliant prospects, will survive the ten doctors and ministers and wives, and 5,000 sion to the end of its charter term, which is other of his subjects as far as the border, ninety-nine years. Its prerogatives, like started for St. Petersburg. everything else that is English, have been In the military arm of the Persian estabmaterially curtailed since the Russians ob- lishment, as in nearly all else, Russian intained the whip hand. Its chief support was fluence has become paramount. The Hunderived from lending money to the Persian garian drill officers, who for years have been government at interest of fifteen per cent., employed to control the organization, equipand the importation of silver bullion to be ment and training of Persian troops, have struck into krans (the commercial unit of gradually been displaced to make room for value, about ten cents) in Teheran. That Russians, thus ensuring perfect cognizance, part of its business has been withdrawn since at least, of what war force the Shah has at the Russian loan, and the bank is not allowed his disposal. The effect of the exchange is to take mortgages on property. It conducts plain. The Hungarians organized infantry; a foreign exchange, and has, under the pro- the new regiments now forming are cavalry, visions of its charter, a monopoly of the issu- and cavalry that might be transmuted into ance of paper money. This currency was Russian in a day, so far as dress or tactics made the means of an attack on the institu are concerned. The commanding officers, in tion about two years ago, which only chance many of them, hold rank in the Russian prevented from resulting disastrously. The army; the uniform is the uniform of the paper issue was industriously collected through- Cossack; the weapons—and I have examined out the kingdom, and a vast quantity of it several of them in the possession of pickets presented for redemption at the Bank's branch and patrol riders along the roads of Persiain Tabriz. It so happened that an unusually are chiefly the product of Russian armories. large amount of silver was stored in the vaults Again, observe the Kurds. The hardest at the time, preparatory to shipment, and the problem with which Persia has had to deal, demand for specie was met. Before return since Russia's suppression of the man-stealing ing the paper to circulation, the Bank officials Turkomans, has been the restraint of these improved the opportunity to stamp it “Pay- Western border men, who are a continual able only in Tabriz,"-or Shiraz, or Teheran menace to Persian peace. No enterprise of a certain amount for each branch throughout any moment can be begun by the Persian the kingdom. But the end is not yet. The government without assurance in advance that Russians have established a banque de prets during the time required for it the Kurds will at Teheran, to which a great part of the be quiet. Nobody has ever subdued these Persian business is being diverted, and reckless warriors yet, though many have tried branches of which are to be started in other it. It is a task no Persian general would uncities in competition with the English concerns. dertake gladly. The Russian is beginning to

It is in such and divers ways that the Rus go another way about it. He will use them. sian power is sinking its roots deeper and Indeed it is not unlikely that in some ways deeper into Persian soil. It is never demon he has used them already. When the Shah, strative, but it is never idle. A single memo after repeated visitations to St. Petersburg, randum concerning the kingdom's financial and corresponding periods of royal extravacondition is sufficient to show that Russia's gance in Paris, was perilously near having present plan of acquisition can be pursued worn out his welcome in Europe and still deuntil the swallowing of Persia is complete, clared that he had no appetite for going home, and, given adequate resources, it should there came out of Persia, where Russian not take so long, either. The temporary agencies are in plenty, a most timely and relief which is afforded by the loans can effective report that the Kurds, though they not turn back the tide which has so rapidly, had promised to abide peaceably in their of late years, been cutting away the fin mountains until the Shah's junket should be ancial underpinning of Persia. Under the over, were making ready for an uprising. stimulus of the principal loan before referred The Shah promptly packed up and started to, the kran advanced in value to forty-six, to home, for this was about the most disconcertthe pound sterling ; but it shortly fell again ing news he could receive. Nothing has been to fifty-one, and the Shah, attended by his heard of the Kurdish uprising since. It was

« AnteriorContinuar »