« FöregåendeFortsätt »
unlike that of any other bird they had ever heard or seen. An old man, who had gone all the way from Kazeroon to see them, said that the sound was very much like that of the Arabic language, but added, that, though he had listened to them with the greatest attention, he had not been able to understand a word they said. As it was very unpleasant weather, and the roads were exceedingly bad, the Englishmen were much fatigued by the time they got to the village in which the strange creatures were. The people of the village took them to the house where the animals were kept. The door was opened, and out marched-a turkey-cock and hen. The former seemed to rejoice much in his release from confinement, and began to gabble his Arabic with great vehemence.
F. (After much laughter) What did the gentlemen say ?
U. O. They looked at one another, as if they did not know whether to laugh or to be angry: but at last they determined to laugh; and so they did. The people were much surprised when told that these strange creatures were very common in India and England. It seemed that the birds had escaped from a vessel that had been wrecked in the Persian Gulf, and had gradually made their way to the place where they then were.
Boiled fowls with rice form a very common and favourite dish in Persia, and a far greater number of them must be consumed in that country than in England. The Persians have a rather remarkable superstition about the crowing of a cock. They think it betokens good if the bird crows at favourable hours; but if it is so unfortunate to do so at what they consider improper times, they think it unlucky and kill it. What they think favourable hours are at nine in the morning and evening, and at midnight and noon. Geese and ducks are very rarely kept in a tame state in Persia, as neither of these birds is much liked for eating. Indeed, I do not remember ever to have seen either a goose or duck eaten by Persians. · Pigeons they have in plenty ; but they do not eat them. At the great city of Ispahan, they keep them in great numbers, and build fine large houses for them ; but it is only for the sake of their dung, which they use as a manure for their melon-grounds. This manure is of course very dear; but I should think it very good in the way the Persians use it; for the melons of Ispahan are certainly much superior to those of other places where this manure is not used.
F. And do they get plenty of melons ?
U. O. Plenty. There is hardly anything more common than melons, which are very valuable and refreshing in a warm climate; and they are generally so cheap, that the poorest can obtain them. Nothing is more usual than to see a man in rags squatting down in the street and munching a melon, which, in this country, would be a luxury at the tables of the great. This is because the melon is properly the product of a hot country, where it grows freely ; whereas here it is raised with expense and difficulty. You will not fail on this, as on other occasions, to admire the wisdom and kindness with which Providence has given to all countries those vegetable and animal products which are most suited to their several wants. We thus see, that the most juicy fruits, such as melons and oranges, are produced in the countries where the people are most in need of the refreshment which they give. But let us return to the pigeons.
In Persia, generally, the pigeons are mostly of a cindery-blue colour,-a white pigeon is
hardly ever seen in any part, and I believe never in the south; indeed, a white pigeon is considered almost as a prodigy in the country, and as such was formerly, if not now, an object of superstitious aversion. At Ispahan, the people who keep the pigeons for the sake of their dung build for them houses much larger and handsomer on the outside than the common dwelling-houses of the country. Here is a pic. ture of these houses, or dovecots.
They are built in the outskirts of the town, and are, as you see, large round towers, rather larger at the bottom than top, and with other smaller towers, upon the large ones, surmounted by sugar-loaf spires, through which the birds go in and out. The inside has some resemblance to a honey-comb, being pierced with innumerable holes, each of which forms a snug nest for the pigeons. These pigeon-houses are painted and otherwise ornamented on the outside, and altogether look very fine. It is interesting to observe the vast clouds of birds which issue from and return to these buildings, flying so close together as to obscure the sun when they pass overhead. These dove-cotes are not now, however, so well occupied by pigeons as formerly; and many of them