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their enemies do not like to come to them now, on account of the difficulty of crossing the mountains and the general want of roads; so that if they had good roads, they should not so well be able to keep out their enemies.
H. That is a very good reason. , U. O. I do not think it is : but I think it is a very good excuse. A brave and wise people would not think that neglecting the improvement of their own country, is the best defence against their enemies. Now, before we consider other matters, we had better talk about the animals on which the people of Persia travel.
The Persians have always been a nation of horsemen. I do not suppose there is a man, woman, or boy in the country who cannot ride without fear. Boys are taught to ride very early
J. On pretty little ponies ?
U. O. No. There are no ponies in Persia; at least, not such small ponies as you mean. A Persian gentleman scarcely ever goes out of doors except on horseback, even though he only wants to go to the next street. He is very fond of his horses, and takes the greatest care of them. Their tails are not cut off like those of our horses; but when on a journey the tail is tied up, so that the rider may not be annoyed by their flapping it about. They are not fed with hay like our horses, but straw is chopped small and given them mixed with barley; food and water are seldom given them, except at sunrise and sunset. The Persians also take much care in clothing them according to the climate and season of the year. In very warm weather they are kept under shade during the day, but are taken out at night ; the Persians judging that what is agreeable to themselves in this respect, must be so to their horses and I dare say they are right. Whether in the stable or in the open air, their heads and heels are generally confined by ropes, in order that they may not quarrel and fight, for which they have a great disposition. Sometimes, however, they break loose, and bite and kick one another in the most furious and terrible manner, until the grooms, who are always at hand, are roused by the noise ; and I have often admired the skill and courage with which these men run into the thick of the battle, and succeed in separating the enraged animals.
have very well when not excited; but then they are certainly terrible creatures. In the battles that take place between horsemen, the animals take part in the fray, and tear each other with their teeth, while their masters are fighting on their backs. They have naturally so much spirit that they are sometimes very difficult to break. Mr. Morier mentions a remarkable way in which he saw the people in one part of Persia deal with a very vicious horse. Such a horse was muzzled in the mouth, and turned loose to await, in an enclosure, the attack of two horses, whose mouths and legs at full liberty were immediately directed against him. The success was as singular as the experiment. The violence of the discipline which he endured subdued the nature of the beast and rendered him the quietest of his kind.
I have said there are no small ponies in Persia—at least I never saw or heard of one; but the horses in general are not so large as ours. I remember I once had a horse to ride which struck me as one of the largest I had ever seen in the country; but when I had it measured it was found to be rather below the usual size of saddle-horses in England. They
have no such horses as those which drag carts and waggons among ourselves. Such horses as those which we see drawing the coal and beerdrays would strike the Persians with the greatest wonder. They have, however, several breeds of horses; of which the most valued are those which properly belong to a people called Turcomans, who inhabit the country to the east of Persia. They are larger than the common horses I have mentioned, and are much valued because they excel all others in that quality for which a horse is most esteemed in Persia—which is not, as with us, the speed with which it can go for a short time, but for the power of supporting fatigue for a long time together.
You must understand that between the Turcomans' country and the habitable parts of Persia there is a great desert, which it takes several days to pass over. And as the people are in the habit of going across this desert to plunder the Persians, they train their horses to bear the fatigue of continual travelling for several days with a very scanty supply of food and water. Horses thus trained are of the highest value in Persia, where they have been known to go about 100 miles a day, for five or six days together, It is not uncommon to keep a horse continually on the gallop for forty or fifty miles, and it will not appear in the least fatigued, although a wellconditioned and high-fed one would drop at the end of ten miles. Even the common horses, which carry loads upon their backs, do things which no one in this country would think of making any horse do. The distance to which they go, day after day, with burdens of three hundred pounds or more upon their backs, over such rough and mountainous roads as I have mentioned, was quite astonishing to me. We have, indeed, no idea in this country what a horse may be made to do by proper training; and without such training our horses would be killed by what those in the East do with ease.
H. I think, Sir, horses work quite hard enough in this country.
U. O. So do I, Henry. I was only telling you what horses might be brought to do; but do not at all wish they should be made to do it in England.
H. But after all, Sir, are the Persians such good riders as we are ?
U. O. I can hardly say ; but I rather think that, though good riders are more common in