« FöregåendeFortsätt »
up again with force-meat, and so dress it. It makes a very good dish, the sourness of the vegetable matter attached to the skin agreeing very well with the highly-seasoned force-meat. Pumpkins are also used as culinary vegetables, by being cut into thick slices and fried in butter.
J. Fried pumpkin!
U, 0. Yes; and I really do not remember any mode of dressing a vegetable that pleased me better. During a journey, a dish of this is considered a good substitute for meat.
Let us now turn our attention to the flowers of Persia. It may be called the Land of Flowers, they are so very abundant in the gardens and the fields; and even the gravelly and desert plains are, in the spring, enamelled with the variouslycoloured blossoms, which arise as if by enchantment from the stubborn soil. Among the favorite flowers of Persia are tulips, anemones, ranunculuses, lilies, jonquilles, narcissuses, hyacinths, pinks, gilliflowers, sun-flowers, marigolds, jessamines, and violets.
But of all the flowers of Persia the rose is that which is the most admired and cultivated. At Shiraz, where the best sort of that perfume which the Persians call attar-gül, and we attar of roses, is made, there are entire fields
of roses, which fill the air to a great distance around with their delicious fragrance. The Persians are passionately fond of these flowers; the gardens and courts of houses abound with them, the baths are strewn with them, and in the better class of houses they are placed about the rooms in vases. I do not however think that their roses are generally so large or so good as ours; but it is certain that the rose-trees of Persia are among the largest and finest in the world. I have seen rose-trees not less than fourteen feet high, laden with thousands of flowers, which spread a most powerful fragrance all around. The Persians, however, notwithstanding their admiration of flowers, do not pay much attention to their cultivation. The truth is that flowers are plentiful, and that there is much talk about flowers in Persia; but I do not consider that the people of that country are, at the bottom, greater lovers of flowers than ourselves: among us, the cottager does not feel quite comfortable without some flowers in his little bit of garden, while the inhabitants of towns manifest an equal regard for flowers by keeping mignonette in trays outside their windows, or by having geraniums in pots within.
Besides this rose-tree, there is another still larger, called Nasteraun. It generally grows to the height of about twenty feet, and the trunk is nearly two feet in circumference. The flower, which has five leaves with a calyx in the form of a bell, resembles the English hedge-rose, but is larger. The branches droop to the ground, and laden as they are with flowers and small, smooth, shining leaves, completely conceal the stem from the spectator.
F. That must be very pretty !
U. O. It is indeed. There is another interesting flowering shrub that droops like the willow. The flower is composed of silky fibres of a delicate pink colour; and has aptly enough been compared to a swansdown powder-puff, tinged with carmine. It is a fine plant, and grows wild in the forests that border on the Caspian Sea.
I do not know that I have anything else to tell you about trees and plants, except that a person who travels in Persia comes sometimes to trees and bushes almost covered with bits of rag fastened to the branches. These are held in great respect by the Persians, who call them dirakht i fazel, which means “excellent or beneficial trees."
H. But what sort of trees are they ?
U. O. No particular sort. They are generally old, but not always; and are of all sizes and descriptions. The respect paid to them proceeds from some accident or other. A man fancies that he sees some shining appearance about it; or he has a dream about it; or it may in some way or other be connected with some of their saints and holy men. Many of these trees and bushes are near the graves of their saints.
H. But why do they put rags upon them?
U.O. These rags are generally torn from their clothes, and I suppose the people hope that they may in this way connect themselves with the tree, and have part in its benefits and virtues. In many cases the natives think that certain trees and bushes have virtues to prevent or cure diseases, and that they shall receive benefit from that virtue in the tree, if they fasten'a strip from their clothing to it. Sometimes the rule is that the person who wishes to receive the benefit takes away one of the rags already there, and fastens another of his own in its place.
H. This seems to me exceedingly silly.
U.O. So it is. But this silliness is not at all peculiar to the Persians. There is scarcely a country in the world where some similar practice
does not now prevail, or did not prevail at some former time. Nothing is more common than to find some kind of veneration or other paid to particular trees.
Now, then, we have got to the end of one part of our talk about Persia. I am very well pleased with the attention you have given to what I have told you. I know it has not always been entertaining; but I hope it has been instructive. I shall, on the future evenings, have to talk about the Persians themselves, their habits, customs, manners, arts, and habitations. This will be more entertaining than what I have already had to relate; and now I can tell you that those who have given the most attention to what I have already related will be the most amused by that which is to come, because they will understand it best. Now good night, Henry; good night, Frank; good night, Jane.
END OF VOLUME THE FIRST.