« FöregåendeFortsätt »
PERSIA. ; built in Persia was about a hundred years ago, by the orders of Nadir Shah.
H. Was it built on the Persian Gulf or the Caspian Sea ?
U. O. The Gulf. You are ready to ask how the wood was obtained. It was brought by main force on the backs of men, all across Persia, for nearly six hundred miles through a country without roads, and over high mountains which are difficult and dangerous to pass.
F. Who made them do that?
U. O. The King, of course. When a King of Persia orders a thing to be done, it must be done, however difficult, or whoever dies or suffers by it. This act of tyranny is to this day remembered with terror by the inhabitants, who say that the curse of God was upon this vessel, the wreck of which still lies in the harbour of Busheer.
H. I dare say they are right.
U. O. Since you have led me to say how the Persian Gulf is not navigated, I may as well tell you now how it is. The sailors and shipowners of the Gulf are almost entirely Arabians. These people have no aversion to sea; and those who live on the sea-coast are among the most skilful mariners of the East. Their vessels are chiefly dows and trankies. The dow is a large vessel, from two to three hundred tons burden, with a single mast leaning forward, on which is hoisted one large sail. The tranky is a smaller vessel, from fifty to one hundred tons, and differs little, except in size, from the dow. There is, however, not much trade in the Gulf except at one season of the year, when the vessels come from India. There is not very much even then. This trade does not employ in a whole year more than eight vessels under English colours, and six belonging to the Arabs. These bring the produce of India to the Gulf; but only a part of that which they bring into the Gulf is intended for Persia. After about one half of what the vessels carry has been discharged at Busheer, for Persia, the rest is taken to Bussora, which belongs to Turkey. From these two points the produce of India is carried on the backs of camels, horses, and mules to all parts of the Persian and Turkish empires.
The little trade carried on with the Gulf is, however, much disturbed by an Arab tribe of pirates. The dows of these pirates are in general very large and light, and sail very swiftly.
They carry only two or three guns, but are manned by from 300 to 400 men, all well armed; and when they intend to attack a ship, they try to bring their own vessel close to its side, and then they jump into it, and endeavour to overpower the men by their numbers. They hate all Mohamedans of a different sect from their own, and consider themselves quite at liberty to plunder them if they can; but they declare that they are willing to respect whatever property really belongs to the English: but when the owners are Mohamedans, or Indians, the English flag, which the native vessels are sometimes allowed to carry, does not protect them from the attacks of the pirates.
H. How is it that they are so friendly to the English ?
U. O. They have been beaten into fear of molesting the English. The Joassamee pirates, who are now so much dreaded about the Persian Gulf, were formerly a peaceable Arab tribe inhabiting the Arabian shore of the Gulf, from Cape Mussenden to the island of Bahrein. They were an industrious and sober people, and bore a much better character than any of the other tribes that inhabited the shores of the Gulf. They traded in their own vessels to Bussorah, Busheer, Muscat, and even to India; they fished for pearls at Bahrein ; and great numbers of them were employed as sailors in the vessels which navigated the Gulf. No people in these parts were so much esteemed and trusted as the Joassamees.
H. How long since was that ?
U. O. Until about forty years since, they were the people I have described. About that time they were conquered, and converted by the Wahabees. These Wahabees are a warlike sect in Arabia, who believe that the religion of Mohamed has been corrupted, and profess to restore it to its original purity. They look upon all other Mohamedans as heretics; and think it their duty to propagate the pure faith by fire and sword. They have beaten nearly all the tribes of Arabia into their opinions; and the brave Joassamee sailors were almost the last whom they were able to conquer and convert. When this was done, their new doctrines taught them to regard their former intercourse with infidels and heretics as a very great sin, for which they could only atone by making war
upon them in future. As their situation did not afford them much room for carrying on this war by land, they commenced pirates, and have ever since continued to be such. They were at first afraid to meddle with English vessels, but as they became strong, they ventured to attack them. Sometimes they were beaten, and sometimes they took our ships, and put to death the people on board.
H. (very angry.) Did the English allow themselves to be beaten by these savages ? Oh, if I had been there, I would
U.0. That's a brave boy! But before we say what we would do, let us see what was really to be done. When I consider that the pirates could bring numerous vessels, and thousands of men against a small English ship, I am obliged to feel that even if you had been there the ship might have been taken by these despised“ savages."
H. I would have died first!
U. O. And many did die first. At last the English government at Bombay became very angry, and sent a strong force to punish the pirates. And they were punished. Thousands of the pirates were killed, their principal town