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560 B.C., succeeded in establishing its independence, and afterwards consolidated it into a powerful kingdom.

2. During the reigns of several succeeding kings the Persians gradually increased in wealth and power; and conquering most of the surrounding nations, established a vast empire extending from Greece to the river Indus. This empire was afterwards broken up by Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia, who completely destroyed the Persian army under Darius the king in three great battles.

3. Since the break-up of the Persian Empire, Persia has fallen successively under the dominion of the Romans, Arabs, and Tartars, but it is at the present time an independent kingdom governed by a native ruler who is called the Shah.

4. Persia is more than twice as large as France, but a great part of it is incapable of cultivation, as it consists of high barren plateaus or table-lands. In addition to these, in the eastern parts of the country, there are great treeless sandy wastes or deserts, without a particle of vegetation, excepting in the narrow valleys which form the course of the few rivers that are found there.

5. In many districts of Persia the soil is largely impregnated with salt, indeed the numerous salt deserts and salt lakes form the chief peculiarities of the country.

6. Every variety of climate is found in Persia, from the intense cold of the snow-clad mountain districts, to the almost torrid heat of the plains. Agriculture is the chief occupation of the people and is well understood, especially the art of cultivation by artificial irrigation of the land.

7. There is a celebrated bridge at Ispahan, the former capital of Persia. This bridge has thirty-three arches, and on either side instead of a parapet a gallery extends from end to end composed of seventy smaller arches.

Aqueducts are numerous, and some of these are of very great length. By means of them large tracts of country, that would otherwise be barren, are irrigated, and so brought under cultivation. Rice, wheat, and barley are the usual crops; but millet, maize, beans, and peas

[graphic][merged small]

are grown in great quantities. Cotton, indigo, sugar, and tobacco are also cultivated, and near some of the towns large tracts of land are entirely set apart for the cultivation of roses and other perfume-yielding flowers.

8. Fruits are grown in abundance and are excellent in quality. The domestic animals of Persia are camels, horses, mules, buffaloes, sheep, and goats. The Persian horses are noted for their beauty, strength, and speed, especially those belonging to some of the nomadic tribes that live on the borders of the deserts. Mules are used more than any other animals for the transport of goods.

9. Wild animals are numerous in some parts. The chief are lions, leopards, bears, wolves, and wild boars. The sturgeon is caught in the Caspian Sea, and also in the Persian Gulf. Birds are plentiful, and include pheasants, nightingales, and bustards.

10. The artisan population of the towns are skilful and industrious, and exhibit exquisite taste in their productions. Persian rugs and carpets are beautiful in colour, rich in design, and of almost endless wear. Shawls and embroidered work are very highly prized and much sought after. They are mostly made from the long silky hair of the native goat interwoven with threads of gold and silver.

11. The Persians are also celebrated for their inlaid and damascened ware, which is brought to great perfection in the production of jewelry and swords. This trade is usually carried on in the bazaars of the large towns.

12. There is still living in Persia a singular race of people called the Parsees or fire-worshippers. They adore fire, light, and the sun, as the emblem of the Deity. This worship is supposed to have been the early faith of the country.

13. The people of Persia are badly governed, and are very heavily taxed. There are but few good roads in the country, and these are infested with robbers. Shiraz, a town near the Persian Gulf, is noted as the residence and burial-place of two great Persian poets-Hafiz and Saadi.

Assyrian Empire, one of the

most ancient empires. disruption, breaking up. Medes, a nation that inhabited

the country of Media, which was situated to the south-west of the Caspian Sea.

Cyrus, a Persian king, the found

er of the Persian Empire. He defeated the Medes. He also fought against the Assyrians and took Babylon by turning the course of the river Euphrates. He died 529 B.C.

consolidated, made firm. Alexander the Great was the

King of Macedon, one of the provinces of Greece. He conquered all the countries from Greece to India. The city of Alexandria in Egypt was founded by him. Alexander

died 323 B.C. Darius III., the last Persian

Emperor, died 330 B.C. Romans, one of the four great

nations of antiquity. Arabs, an eastern nation that

came from Arabia. incapable, unfit. plateaus, elevated plains.

Tartars, an eastern nation that

came from Tartary in Central

Asia. impregnated, charged with. peculiarities, special features. irrigation, watering by means

of channels or canals. nomadic, wandering. exquisite, refined, matchless. embroidered, ornamental needle

work. damascened, inlaid metal work,

so called from Damascus where

it was first worked.
bazaars, eastern markets.
emblem, sign.
infested, annoyed.

Where is Persia situated? Who was its first great king? What nations did he conquer? Who was its last ruler? By whom was he conquered? By what nations has it been conquered since ? Describe the appearance of some large districts in Persia. What is found in great quantities in the soil ? What is the chief occupation of the people? What are the chief objects of culture? Name the domestic animals. Name the wild animals. For what are the Persians noted:

THE FIRE-WORSHIPPERS.

And who is he, that wields the might

Of Freedom on the Green Sea brink,
Before whose sabre's dazzling light
The
eyes

of Yemen's warriors wink?
Who comes, embower'd in the spears
Of Kerman's hardy mountaineers ?-
Those mountaineers that truest, last,

Cling to their country's ancient rites,
As if that God, whose eyelids cast

[graphic]

Their closing gleam on Iran's heights, Among her snowy mountains threw The last light of his worship too!

'Tis Hafed---name of fear, whose sound

Chills like the muttering of a charm! Shout but that awful name around,

And palsy shakes the manliest arm.
'Tis Hafed, most accurs’d and dire
(So rank'd by Moslem hate and ire)
Of all the rebel Sons of Fire;
Of whose malign, tremendous power
The Arabs, at their mid-watch hour,
Such tales of fearful wonder tell,
That each affrighted sentinel
Pulls down his cowl

his

eyes, Lest Hafed in the midst should rise! A man, they say, of monstrous birth, A mingled race of flame and earth, Sprung from those old, enchanted kings,

upon

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