Tebris, or Tauris, is the capital of the province of Aderbeidschan, and the residence of the successor to the throne of Persia, who bears the title of Viceroy. It is situated in a treeless valley on the rivers Piatscha and Atschi, and contains 160,000 inhabitants. The town is handsomer than Teheran or Ispahan, possesses a number of silk looms and leather manufactories, and is said to be one of the principal seats of Asiatic commerce.

The streets are tolerably broad, and are also kept clean, there is in each an underground water canal with openings at regular intervals for the purpose of dipping out water.

There is no more to be seen of the houses than in any other Oriental town. Lofty walls with low entrances, without windows, and with the fronts always facing the court-yards, which are planted with flowers and small trees, and generally adjoining a beautiful garden. The reception rooms are large and lofty, with whole rows of windows, forming a complete wall of glass. The decoration of the rooms is not elegant, generally nothing beyond some few carpets; European furniture and articles of luxury are rare.

There are no handsome mosques, palaces, or monuments, either ancient or modern, with the exception of the partly ruined mosque of Ali-Schach, which, however, will not bear comparison in any respect with those in India.

The new bazaar is very handsome, its lofty, broad covered streets and passages forcibly called to my remembrance the bazaar at Constantinople; but it had a more pleasant appearance as it is newer. The merchant's stalls also are larger, and the wares, although not so magnificent and rich as some travellers represent, are more tastefully displayed and can be more easily overlooked, especially the carpets, fruits, and vegetables. The cookshops also looked very inviting, and the various dishes seemed so palatable and diffused such a savoury odour, that I could have sat down with pleasure and partaken of them. The shoe department, on the contrary, presented nothing attractive; there were only goods of the plainest description exposed; while in Constantinople the most costly shoes and slippers, richly embroidered with gold, and even ornamented with pearls and precious stones, are to be seen under glass cases.

I had arrived at Tebris at a rather unfavourable time - namely, the fast month. From sunrise to sunset nothing is eaten, nobody leaves the house, there are neither visits nor company - indeed, nothing but praying. This ceremony is so strictly observed that invalids frequently fall victims to it, as they will take neither medicine nor food during the day; they believe that if they were to eat only a mouthful, they would forfeit the salvation to be obtained by fasting. Many of the more enlightened make an exception to this custom in cases of illness; however, in such an instance the physician must send a written declaration to the priest, in which he explains the necessity of taking medicine and food. If the priest puts his seal to this document, pardon is obtained. I am not aware whether this granting of indulgences was taken by the Mahomedans from the Christians, or the reverse. Girls are obliged to keep these fasts after their tenth year, and boys after their fifteenth.

It was to the courteousness of Dr. Cassolani, and his intimacy with some of the principal families in Tebris, that I was indebted for my introduction to them, and even for my presentation at court, notwithstanding the strict observance of the fast.

There was no viceroy in Tebris until about six months since, but only a governor; the present reigning schach, Nesr-I-Din, raised the province of Aderbeidschan to a vice-royalty, and decreed that every eldest son of the future inheritor of the empire should reside here as viceroy until he came to the throne.

The last governor of Tebris, Behmen Mirza, the schach's brother, was a remarkably intelligent and just man. He brought the province of Aderbeidschan into a flourishing condition in a few years, and everywhere established order and security. This soon excited the envy of the prime minister Haggi-Mirza-Aagassi; he urged the schach to recall his brother, and represented to him that he would engage the affections of the people too much, and that he might at last make himself king.

For a long time the schach paid no attention to these insinuations, for he loved his brother sincerely; but the minister did not rest until he had attained his wishes. Behmen Mirza, who knew all that was going on at court, hastened to Teheran for the purpose of exculpating himself before the schach. The latter assured him of his love and confidence, and told him, candidly, that he might retain his office if the minister would consent to it, and recommended him to endeavour to gain his favour.

Behmen Mirza learnt, however, through his friends, that the minister entertained an inveterate hatred towards him, and that he ran the risk of being deprived of his sight, or even made away with altogether. They advised him to lose no time, but quit the country immediately. He followed their advice, returned quickly to Tebris, gathered his valuables together, and fled with a part of his family to the neighbouring Russian dominions. Having arrived there, he appealed to the Emperor of Russia by letter, soliciting his protection, which was magnanimously afforded to him. The emperor wrote to the schach declaring that the prince was no longer a Persian subject, and that therefore every persecution of himself or his family must cease; he also provided him with a pretty palace near Tiflis, sent him costly presents, and, as I was informed, allowed him a yearly pension of 20,000 ducats.

It may be seen from this circumstance that the minister completely governed the schach; indeed he succeeded to such an extent, that the schach honoured him as a prophet, and unconditionally carried out all his suggestions. He was, on one occasion, desirous of effecting some very important object. He told the schach, at a morning visit, that he woke in the night and felt himself being carried upwards. He went up higher and higher, and finally entered heaven, where he saw and spoke with the king's father, who requested him to describe the government of his son. The deceased king was greatly rejoiced to hear of his good conduct, and recommended that he should continue to go on thus. The delighted king, who had cordially loved his father, did not cease from asking further questions, and the artful minister always contrived to bring in at the end of his answers - "It was only this or that thing that the father wished to see done," and of course the good son fulfilled his father's wishes, not for one moment doubting the assertions of his minister.

The king is said to be rather passionate, and when in such a state of mind, will order the immediate execution of an offender. The minister, on the other hand, possesses at least enough sense of justice to endeavour to stay the sentence of death upon men whom he does not fear. He has, therefore, given orders that when such a circumstance occurs, he is to be sent for immediately, and that the preparations for the execution are to be delayed until he comes. He makes his appearance then as if accidentally, and asks what is going on. The enraged sovereign tells him that he is about to have an offender executed. The minister agrees with him completely, and steps to the window to consult the sky, clouds, and sun. Presently he cries out that it would be better to postpone the execution until the following day, as the clouds, sun, or sky at the present moment are not favourable to it, and that some misfortune to the king might probably result from it. In the meanwhile, the king's rage abates, and he consents that the condemned should be taken away, and generally, that he shall be set free; the next morning the whole affair is forgotten.

The following circumstance is also interesting; the king had once a particular hatred for one of his town governors, and ordered him to the capital, with the intention of having him strangled. The minister, who was a friend of the governor, was desirous of saving him, and did so in the following manner. He said to the king, "Sire, I bid you farewell, I am going to Mecca." The king, greatly grieved at the prospect of losing his favourite for so long (the journey to Mecca takes at least a year), hastily asked the reason of his making this journey. "You know, sire, that I am childless, and that I have adopted the governor whom you wish to have executed; I shall then lose my son, and I wish to fetch another from Mecca." The king answered that he knew nothing of this, but as such was the case he would not have him executed, but allow him to retain his office.

The king has a great affection for his mother. When she visited him, he always rose and continued standing, while she sat down. The minister was much annoyed at this mark of respect, and said to him, "You are king, and your mother must stand before you." And he ultimately succeeded according to his wish. If, however, the king's mother comes at a time when the minister is not present, her son pays her this respect. He then gives strict orders to his people not to say anything of it to the minister.

I was told these and other things by a very trustworthy person, and they may serve to give my readers some slight idea of the system of government in Persia.

I was presented to the viceroy a few days after my arrival. I was conducted one afternoon by Dr. Cassolani to one of the royal summer-houses. The house was situated in a small garden, which was surrounded by another larger one, both enclosed by very high walls. In the outer garden there were, besides meadows and fruit trees, nothing deserving of much notice, except a number of tents, in which the military were encamped. The soldiers wore the usual Persian dress, with the single exception that the officers on duty had a sword, and the soldiers a musket. They only appear in uniform on the most rare occasions, and then they are, in some respects, like European soldiers.

Several eunuchs received us at the entrance of the small garden. They conducted us to an unpretending looking house, one story high, at the end of a field of flowers. I should never have looked for the country seat of the successor to the Persian throne in this house; but such it was. At the narrow entrance of the little house were two small flights of stairs, one of which led to the reception- room of the viceroy, the other to that of his wife. The doctor entered the former and several female slaves took me to the viceroy's wife. When I reached the top of the stairs, I took off my shoes, and entered a small, comfortable room, the walls of which consisted almost entirely of windows. The viceroy's wife, who was only fifteen years of age, sat upon a plain easy chair, not far from her stood a middle-aged woman, the duenna of the harem, and an easy chair was placed for me opposite the princess.

I was fortunate enough to be remarkably well received. Dr. Cassolani had described me as an authoress, adding that I intended to publish the experiences of my journey. The princess inquired whether I should mention her also, and when she was answered in the affirmative, she determined to show herself in full dress, in order to give me an idea of the gorgeous and costly dress of her country.

The young princess wore trousers of thick silk, which were so full of plaits that they stood out stiff, like the hooped petticoats of our good old times. These trousers are from twenty to five and twenty yards wide, and reach down to the ankle. The upper part of the body was covered as far as the hips by a bodice, which, however, did not fit close to the body. The sleeves were long and narrow. The corset resembled that of the time of the hooped petticoats; it was made of thick silk, richly and tastefully embroidered round the corners with coloured silk and gold. A very short white silk chemise was to be seen under the corset. On her head she wore a three-cornered white kerchief, extending in front round the face, and fastened under the chin; behind, it fell down as far as the shoulders. This kerchief was also very handsomely embroidered with gold and silk. The jewellery consisted of precious stones and pearls of great purity and size; but they had not much effect, as they were not set in gold, but simply perforated and strung upon a gold thread, which was fastened above the head kerchief, and came down under the chin.

The princess had on black silk open-worked gloves, over which were several finger rings. Round the wrists sparkled costly bracelets of precious stones and pearls. On her feet she wore white silk stockings.

She was not remarkably beautiful; her cheek bones were rather too prominent; but altogether her appearance was very attractive. Her eyes were large, handsome, and intellectual, her figure pretty, and her age - fifteen years.

Her face was a very delicate white and red; and the eyebrows were covered with blue streaks, which, in my opinion, rather disfigured than adorned them. On the temple a little of her brilliant black hair was to be seen.

Our conversation was carried on by signs. Dr. Cassolani, who spoke Persian very well, was not allowed to cross the threshold today, and the princess had received me, consequently, unveiled. During this stupid interview, I found time enough to look at the distant view from the windows. It was here that I first saw how extensive the town was, and what an abundance of gardens it possessed. The latter are, indeed, its peculiar ornament, for it contains no fine buildings; and the large valley in which it lies, together with the mountains round, are naked and barren, and present no attractions. I expressed my surprise at the great size of the town and the number of the gardens.

Towards the end of the audience, a quantity of fruits and sweetmeats were brought, of which, however, I alone partook - it being fast time.

Leaving the princess, I was conducted to her husband, the viceroy. He was seventeen, and received me seated upon an easy chair at a bow-window. I had to thank my character of authoress, that a chair was placed ready for me. The walls of the large room were panelled with wood, and ornamented with several mirrors, gilt-work, and oil-paintings of heads and flowers. In the middle of the saloon stood two large empty bedsteads.

The prince wore a European dress: trousers of fine white cloth, with broad gold lace; a dark blue coat, the collar, facings, and corners of which were richly embroidered with gold; white silk gloves and stockings. His head was covered by a Persian fur cap nearly a yard high. This is not, however, his ordinary dress; he is said to change his mode of dressing oftener than his wife, and sometimes to wear the Persian costume, sometimes to envelop himself in cashmere shawls, as his fancy may be.

I should have supposed that he was at least twenty-two. He has a pale, tawny complexion, and, altogether, no attractive, amiable, or intellectual expression; never looks straightforward and openly at you, and his glance is savage and repulsive. I pitied, in my mind, all those who were his subjects. I would rather be the wife of a poor peasant than his favourite princess.

The prince put several questions to me, which Dr. Cassolani, who stood a few paces from us, interpreted. They were nothing remarkable, chiefly common-places about my journey. The prince can read and write in his mother tongue, and has, as I was told, some idea of geography and history. He receives a few European newspapers and periodicals from which the interpreter has to make extracts, and read to him. His opinion of the great revolutions of the time was, that the European monarchs might have been very good, but they were most remarkably stupid to allow themselves to be so easily driven from the throne. He considered that the result would have been very different if they had had plenty of people strangled. As far as regards execution and punishment, he far exceeds his father; and, unfortunately, has no controlling minister at his side. His government is said to be that of a child; one moment he orders something to be done, and an hour afterwards countermands it. But what can be expected from a youth of seventeen, who has received little or no education; was married at fifteen, and, two years afterwards, takes the unlimited control of a large province with a revenue of a million tomans (500,000 pounds), and with every means of gratifying his desires.

The prince has at present only one regular wife, although he is allowed to have four; however, he has no scarcity of handsome female friends. It is the custom in Persia, that when the king, or the successor to the throne, hears that any one of his subjects has a handsome daughter or sister, he demands her. The parents or relations are greatly rejoiced at this command, for if the girl is really handsome, she is, in any case, well provided for. If, after some time, she no longer pleases the king or prince, she is married to some minister or rich man; but, if she has a child, she is immediately considered as the king's or prince's acknowledged wife, and remains permanently at court. When, on the contrary, a girl does not please the regent at first sight, her family are very much disappointed, and consider themselves unfortunate. She is, in this case, sent home again immediately, her reputation for beauty is lost, and she has not, after this, much chance of making a good match.

The princess is already a mother, but, unfortunately, only of a daughter. She is, for the present, the chief wife of the prince, because no other female has given birth to a son; but whoever brings the first son into the world will then take her place: she will be honoured as the mother of the heir to the throne. In consequence of this custom, the children are unfortunately liable to the danger of being poisoned; for any woman who has a child excites the envy of all those who are childless; and this is more particularly the case when the child is a boy. When the princess accompanied her husband to Tebris, she left her little daughter behind, under the protection of its grandfather, the Schach of Persia, in order to secure it from her rivals.

When the viceroy rides out, he is preceded by several hundred soldiers. They are followed by servants with large sticks, who call upon the people to bow before the powerful ruler. The prince is surrounded by officers, military, and servants, and the procession is closed by more soldiers. The prince only is mounted, all the rest are on foot.

The prince's wives are also permitted to ride out at times, but they are obliged to be thickly veiled, and entirely surrounded by eunuchs, several of whom hasten on before, to tell the people that the wives of the monarch are on the road. Every one must then leave the streets, and retire into the houses and bye-lanes.

The wives of the banished prince, Behmen, who were left behind, learnt, through Dr. Cassolani, that I thought of going to Tiflis. They requested me to visit them, that I might be able to tell the prince that I had seen them and left them well. The doctor conducted me into their presence. He had been the friend and physician of the prince, who was not one of the fanatic class, and allowed him the entree to the females.

Nothing very worthy of notice took place at this visit. The house and garden were plain, and the women had wrapped themselves in large mantles, as the doctor was present, some, indeed, covered a part of their faces while speaking with him. Several of them were young, although they all appeared older than they really were. One, who was twenty-two, I should have taken to be at least thirty. A rather plump dark beauty of sixteen was also introduced to me as the latest addition to the harem. She had been bought at Constantinople only a short time since. The women appeared to treat her with great good- nature; they told me that they took considerable pains to teach her Persian.

Among the children there was a remarkably beautiful girl of six, whose pure and delicate countenance was fortunately not yet disfigured by paint. This child, as well as the others, was dressed in the same way as the women; and I remarked that the Persian dress was really, as I had been told, rather indecorous. The corset fell back at every quick movement; the silk or gauze chemise, which scarcely reached over the breast, dragged up so high that the whole body might be seen as far as the loins. I observed the same with the female servants, who were engaged in making tea or other occupations; every motion disarranged their dress.

My visit to Haggi-Chefa-Hanoum, one of the principal and most-cultivated women in Tebris, was far more interesting. Even at the entrance of the court-yard and house, the presence of a well-regulating mind might be perceived. I had never seen so much cleanliness and taste in any Oriental house. I should have taken the court-yard for the garden, if I had not afterwards seen the latter from the windows. The gardens here are, indeed, inferior to ours, but are magnificent when compared with those at Baghdad. They have flowers, rows of vines and shrubs, and between the fruit-trees pleasant basins of water and luxuriant grass-plots.

The reception-room was very large and lofty; the front and back (of which the former looked out into the court-yard, the latter into the garden), consisted of windows, the panes of which were in very small six and eight-sided pieces, framed in gilded wood; on the door-posts there was also some gilding. The floor was covered with carpeting; and at the place where the mistress of the house sat, another piece of rich carpet was laid over. In Persia, there are no divans, but only thick round pillows for leaning upon.

Intimation had previously been given of my visit. I found a large party of women and young girls assembled, who had probably been attracted here by their curiosity to see a European woman. Their dress was costly, like that of the princess, but there was a difference in the jewellery. Several among them were very handsome, although they had rather broad foreheads, and too prominent cheek- bones. The most charming features of the Persians are their eyes, which are remarkable, as well for their size as their beautiful form and animated expression. Of course, there was no want of paint on their skins and eye-brows.

This party of women was the most agreeable and unconstrained that I ever found in Oriental houses. I was able to converse in French with the mistress of the house, by the help of her son, of about eighteen, who had received an excellent education in Constantinople. Not only the son, but also the mother and the other women, were read and well-informed. Dr. Cassolani, moreover, assured me that the girls of rich families could nearly all read and write. They are, in this respect, far in advance of the Turks.

The mistress of the house, her son, and myself, sat upon chairs, the rest squatted down on carpets round us. A table, the first that I had seen in a Persian house, was covered with a handsome cloth, and set out with the most magnificent fruits, sherbets, and various delicacies, which had been prepared by my host herself; among the sweetmeats were sugared almonds and fruits, which not only appeared inviting, but tasted deliciously.

The sweet melons and peaches were just in their prime during my stay at Tebris. They were so delicious, that it may well be said Persia is their native country. The melons have more frequently a whitish, or greenish, than a yellow pulp. They may be eaten entirely, with the exception of the outermost thin rind; and, if it were possible for anything to exceed sugar in sweetness, it would be these melons. The peaches are also juicy, sweet, and aromatic.

Before leaving Tebris, I must say a few words about the people. The complexion of the common men is rather more than sunburnt; among the upper classes, white is the prevailing colour of the skin. They all have black hair and eyes. Their figures are tall and powerful, the features very marked - especially the nose - and the look rather wild. The women, both of the upper and lower classes, are uncommonly thickly veiled when they go out. The better-dressed men wear, out of doors, a very long mantle of dark cloth with slashed sleeves, which reach to the ground; a girdle or shawl surrounds their waist, and their head-dress consists of a pointed black fur cap more than a foot high, which is made of the skins of unborn sheep. The women of the labouring class do not appear to have much to do; during my journey, I saw only a few at work in the fields, and I noticed also in the town that all the hard work is done by the men.

In Tebris, as well as throughout the whole of Persia, the Jews, semi-Mahomedans, and Christians, are intolerably hated. Three months since, the Jews and Christians in Tebris were in great danger. Several crowds of people gathered together and marched through the quarter where these people dwelt, when they commenced plundering and destroying the houses, threatening the inhabitants with death, and, in some cases, even putting their threats into execution. Fortunately, this horrible proceeding was immediately made known to the governor of the town; and he, being a brave and determined man, lost not a moment's time even to throw his kaftan over his house-dress, but hastened out into the midst of the crowd, and succeeded, by means of a powerful speech, in dispersing the people.

On arriving at Tebris, I expressed my desire to continue my journey from here to Tiflis by way of Natschivan and Erivan. It appeared at first that there was not much hope of its possibility, as, since the late political disturbances in Europe, the Russian government, like the Chinese, had strictly prohibited the entrance of any foreigners; however, Mr. Stevens promised to make use of all his power with the Russian consul, Mr. Anitschow, in my favour. I was indebted to this, together with my sex and age, for being made an exception. I received from the Russian consul not only the permission, but also several kind letters of introduction to people at Natschivan, Erivan, and Tiflis.

I was advised to ride from Tebris to Natschivan with post-horses, and to take a servant with me as far as that place. I did so, and commenced my journey at 9 o'clock in the morning of the 11th of August. Several gentlemen, whose acquaintance I had made in Tebris, accompanied me about a mile out of the town, and we encamped on the bank of a beautiful little river, and partook of a cold breakfast. Then I began my journey alone, indeed, but composedly and with good courage, for now I thought I was entering a Christian country, beneath the sceptre of a civilized, European, law and order-loving monarch.