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not set over the Persians by the gots, as to only rule of right and wrong?” Another of the Persian kings called the megi to: gether to give their opinion on a similar occasion. The accommodating priests answered, “We can find no law that authorizes a man to marry his own daughter; but our laws authorize a king to do whatever he pleases.” Some idea of the excessive voluptuousness of the Persian court in ancient times may be derived from the account given of Ahasuerus. By an old custom the queen had a right to ask any favor she thought proper on the king's birthday, and he was bound to grant it. Amestris, the wife of Xemes, on one of these occasions, being filled with vindictive jealousy, demanded that her sisterin-law should he mangled in a most shocking manner and thrown to the dogs. The innocent victim, who had in fact discouraged and resisted the king's passion, was destroyed in the most cruel manner. The splendor which now characterizes Persian princes prevailed in ancient times. The revenues of provinces were devoted to particular articles of the queen's wardrobe. This was implied by their names; one being called the Queen's Sandals, another the Queen's Girdle, &c. The use of false hair was not uncommon in Media and Persia. The account given of Alexander's marriage with the daughter of Darius seems to imply that the ancient marriage ceremonies were very simple. A great feast was prepared, the bride was seated beWOL. I. 6
side her lover, he took her hand and kissed her in presence of the assembled guests, and she became his wife. The ancient Persians considered matrimony so essential, that they believed those who died single would infallibly be unhappy in another world; for this reason, when a relation of either sex died unmarried, they hired some person to be formally married to the deceased as soon as possible. It was considered a great misfortune to be childless. “Children,” said the prophet Zerdhust, “are a bridge that reaches to paradise; and how shall ye pass if he have provided no bridge 2 The angel shall ask every soul, if he have provided children; if he answer, no, the soul that has contributed so little to society shall himself be left desolate on the banks of a river, where he shall see the fresh springs and blooming fruits of paradise, but shall never be able to reach them.” A boy was kept in the female apartments, and not permitted to see his father, till his fifth year, in order that his parent might not experience so much uneasiness in case he died before that period. The slightest rudeness to a Persian woman was punished with instant death by her husband or guardian. He who spoke to one of the numerous inmates of the king's harem, or touched their persons even in the most accidental manner, or passed their chariots on the road, was killed immediately. The modern laws are but little less severe. A Persian woman, under the dominion of the kindest master, is treated in much the same manner as a favorite animal. To vary her personal graces for his pleasure is the sole end and aim of existence. As moral or intellectual beings, it would be better for them to be among the dead than the living. They are allowed to learn a little reading, writing, and embroidery; but their reading is confined to the Koran, and even that they generally read very imperfectly. Dancing and music are little practised, except by a public class of women, usually hired at festivals and entertainments, and of a character notoriously profligate. These girls are more remarkable for agility than grace in their motions. The Persian women are kept continually shut up in the harem, which they rarely leave from the cradle to the grave. They are visited only by female relations, or female teachers, hired to furnish them their scanty apparatus of knowledge. The mother instructs her daughter in all the voluptuous coquetry by which she herself acquired precarious ascendency over her absolute master; but all that is truly estimable in female character is neglected, as it ever must be where nothing like free and kind companionship exists between the sexes. A resident in Persia declares that the women are ignorant, and inconceivably gross in their ideas and conversation. Under such a system it could not be otherwise. The contempt in which women are held is singularly exemplified by a Persian law, which requires the testimony of four of them in cases where the declaration of two men would be deemed sufficient.
While talking with a person of rank, it would be considered grossly impolite to make the most remote allusion to the female part of his family; even if his beloved wife were on her death-bed, it would be deemed an almost unpardonable insult to make any inquiries concerning her. A large black eye, full of amorous softness, is considered the chief requisite in Persian beauty. To increase this voluptuous languor of expression, they make lines around the eyes with powder of antimomy. They take great pains to make their eyebrows meet; and if this charm be denied, they paint them, so as to produce the effect. They not only dye their hair and eyebrows, but also stain the face and neck with a variety of figures of birds, beasts, and flowers, the sun, moon, and stars. A large proportion of the noble families are descended from Georgian and Circassian mothers, and consequently have fair complexions. When a Persian father has selected a family with which he wishes to have his son connected, he sends an elderly female to ascertain the girl's personal endowments, and the probable consent of her parents or guardians. If the report prove favorable, the bridegroom sends messengers to explain his merits, and make a formal offer of marriage. The heads of the family meet to make all arrangements concerning presents, ornaments, dowry, &c.; and the papers are sealed and witnessed before magistrates. On the morning of the wedding, the bridegroom sends a train of mules laden with presents to the bride, preceded by music, and followed by numerous servants, bearing costly viands on silver trays, to be spread before the inmates of her father's house. The day is spent in mirth and feasting. Toward evening, the bride veiled, in scarlet or crimson silk, is mounted on a superbly caparisoned mule, preceded by music, and followed by a long train of relatives and friends to the house of her destined husband, who rides forth with a similar procession to meet her. The female attendants conduct her to the apartments prepared for her, and she is from that moment a lawful wife. The bridegroom prepares a sumptuous feast for his friends and relatives, who generally keep up the festivities for three days. The jointure settled upon a wife varies according to the wealth of the husband. If he is in middling circumstances, he merely bestows two dresses, a ring, and a mirror; but he is likewise expected to supply all the requisite furniture. It is deemed an irretrievable disgrace for a bride to be sent back after she has left her father's house. Sometimes the bridegroom promises a jointure beyond his means; and in these cases, curious scenes sometimes take place. He shuts the door against the cavalcade, and declares the girl shall not enter his dwelling, unless the jointure be reduced. Under these circumstances he is generally able to make his OWn terms. The harems of grandees are the most magnificent portion of their palaces. In the king's seraglio the same offices and places exist as at court; but the