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TITLEThe Babis
AUTHOR 1Eustache de Lorey
TITLE_PARENTQueer Things about Persia
PUB_THISJ.B. Lippincott Co.
ABSTRACTTranslation of an article which appeared in the official gazette of the Persian government, followed by a letter from de Gobineau, on the torture of Babis after the assassination attempt on the Shah, 1852.
NOTES Preface and table of contents included for context.

This complete book is available in many file formats at

It is also referenced in Peggy Caton's book A Persian Ode: Musical Life in Safavid and Qajar Iran []. See also Bábí Attempt on the Life of the Shah, 1852: Coverage in the New York Times.


1. PDF (see text below)

2. Text (uncorrected text from



The Babi religion has spread widely in Persia, though 
its adherents have to conceal their faith, which is officially 
prohibited. Its tenets and history form too large, and 
perhaps too recondite, a subject to be treated in these 
pages. Readers can find what they require about them 
admirably handled in the pages of A. L. M. Nicolas 's 
Seyyed AH Mohammed dit le Bab (Dujarric, Paris) and 
Mr. E. G. Browne's various publications. 

To show the inquisitorial vengeance to which the 
unhappy Babis have been subjected, I cannot do better 
than give a translation of an article which appeared in 
the Official Gazette of the Persian Government, relative 
to the attempt by the Babis upon the Shah's life. 

The account, coming from an enemy of the Babis, 
tries to show them at their worst, but its naive admissions 
only serve to bring out the high ideals and heroism, of 
the Babi martyrs, and the cold cruelty and bigotry of 
their persecutors. The article convicts its authors. 

" In our last number, in giving briefly an account of 
the attempt upon the life of the Shah, we have promised 
our readers to supply them with the after results of 
this lamentable affair, and to let them know the result 
of the inquiries made to discover the motives of this 
vast conspiracy, directed not only against the life of 
our beloved sovereign, but also against the public peace, 
and against the property and lives of true Mussulmans. 
For the real aim of these malefactors was, in getting 
rid of the person of the King, to seize the power, and 
by this detestable means to secure at last the triumph 
of their abominable cause, in forcing, by arms and 
violence, the good Mussulmans to embrace their in- 
famous religion, which differs from that sent down from 
Heaven, and which does not accord either with philo- 
sophy or human reason — which is, in fine, the most 
deplorable heresy that has ever been heard of, as may 
be gathered from certain of their books and pamphlets 
which we have been able to procure. 

" The founder of this abominable sect, who began 
to propagate these detestable doctrines only a few 
years ago, and who, having fallen into the hands of 
the authorities, was immediately shot, was called Ali 
Mohammed, and had given himself the surname of 
Bab,^ wishing to give people to understand by this that 
the keys of Paradise were in his hands. 

" After the death of the Bab, his disciples met soon 
under the orders of another chief, Sheikh Ali of Turshiz, 
who assumed the position of nayeb (vicar) of the Bab, 
and had imposed it on himself to live in complete 
solitude, showing himself to nobody, and granting 
audiences to his principal followers only at rare intervals. 
They regarded this favour as the greatest that Heaven 
could confer on them. He had given himself the sur- 
name of Hazret Azem, the Highest Highness. 

" Among the people who were attached to him one 
may mention first Hadji Suleiman Khan, son of the 
late Yah- Yah Khan of Tabriz. It was in the house 
of this Suleiman Khan, in Teheran, in the quarter 
Sar-i-Cheshmeh, that the principal Babis used to meet 
to deliberate upon their hateful projects. Twelve 
amongst them, who appeared more zealous and deter- 
mined than the others, were chosen by Hazret Azem, 
who had the necessary arms given to them to execute 
the great act that he believed to be unavoidable. Pistols, 
daggers, cutlasses, nothing was spared, and, armed in 
this way, it seemed impossible for them to miss their 

" They were recommended to stand in the neigh- 
bourhood of Niavaran, and to wait for a favourable 

" We may refer our readers to our last number ; they 
will see in it how three of these madmen have taken 
advantage of the circumstance which presented itself on 
Sunday the 28th of Chavval, at the moment when 
His Majesty, having gone out of the town, directed 
himself, with his ordinary suite, towards the village 
where he was in the habit of going for his hunting 
parties. They will see how they flung themselves 
upon the King, one after the other, firing their pistols 
nearly point-blank at His Majesty; how one of them 
was immediately slain by people of well-known zeal 
and devotion, such as Assad Oullah-Khan, first equerry 
of the King, Mustofi-el-Memalek, Nizam-oul-Moulk, the 
Keshikchi-Bashi, and other persons who were near His 
Majesty ; how at last the two others were seized and 
thrown into the prison of the town. 

" An inquiry was at once made into the case, and put 
into the hands of Adjutant Bashi Hadjeb-ed-Dowleh, 
the Kalentar (Minister of Police), and the Kedkhodas 
of the town (a sort of municipal councillors). 

" Thanks to the zeal and the activity that they showed 
in their inquiries, they soon learned that the house of 
Suleiman- Khan was used as the place of meeting by 
these wretches. It was immediately surrounded on all 
sides ; but whether by the neglect of the men of Hadjeb- 
ed-Dowleh, or by the lack of cohesion in the execution 
of this enterprise, they succeeded in catching only twelve, 
amongst them Suleiman- Khan. The others effected 
their escape, one does not know exacdy how. But 
their accomplices having named several of them, the 
police, it may be hoped, will soon trace them. 

" However, not a single day passed without the 
Adjutant- Bashi of the Kalentar and the ferrashes of 
the King capturing three, four, or even five Babis, whom 
they quickly brought before the Imperial divan or 
tribunal, which in such a case is held in public. 

" They were interrogated at once, and condemned 
upon their own evidence, as well as on the denuncia- 
tions of their accomplices, whom they took care to 
confront with them. 

" These interrogatories were made in accordance with 
the customs and forms laid down by the law. 

" We must not omit here to recall the immense service 
that Hadjeb-ed-Dowleh has rendered to the Faith, to 
the State, and to Religion, in capturing Mollah Sheikh 
Ali of Turchiz, in spite of all the precautions that he 
took not to be seen in public, and in spite of the retired 
and secretive life which he did not cease to lead till the 
moment of his arrest. By his flight from the town he 
had expected to find a shelter against all pursuit ; he 
had hidden himself in a litde house at Evine in the 

** He lived there, surrounded by some faithful disciples, 
who, like himself, had succeeded in escaping from the 
house of Suleiman Khan at the moment that it was 

" It is in this house that Hadjeb-ed-Dowleh, accom- 
panied by his men, succeeded in surprising them at the 
moment when they expected it least. The Babis were 
seized, manacled, and thrown into the prisons of the 

" His Excellency the Grand Vizier, Mirza Aga Khan, 
had the satisfaction of interrogating himself the chief of 
this hateful sect. He made him appear before him 
with the disciples taken at the same time as this wretch, 
and questioned him in their presence. Mollah Sheikh 
Ali of Turchiz did not attempt to excuse himself. He 
avowed that he had become the chief of the Babis 
since the death of the Bab ; that he had given the 
order to his most devoted disciples to kill the King. 
He declared even that Mohammed Sadek, who had 
precipitated himself the first on the King, was his con- 
fidential servant, and that he had provided himself the 
necessary arms to execute the regicides' project. The 
number of these wretches who had fallen into the hands 
of justice does not exceed thirty-two. As for the others, 
the police have not been able to find them, and it is 
believed that they have crossed the frontiers of Persia 
and gone to lead a wretched life in a foreign land. 

" We impose upon ourselves the task of pointing out to 
our readers the admirable conduct of His Excellency the 
Minister of Russia on this occasion. 

" One of these damnable conspirators, Mirza Houssein 
Ali, had taken refuge at Zerghandeh in the summer 
quarters of the Russian Legation. The Prince Dol- 
gorouki, having learnt that this individual was amongst 
the conspirators, had him seized by his own people and 
sent to the Ministers of His Majesty, who, touched by 
an action so in conformity with the good relations that 
existed between Persia and Russia, evinced their pro- 
found gratitude to him. His Majesty himself had his 
thanks conveyed to the prince, and gave orders that 
the people who had been entrusted with conveying the 
culprit to custody should be worthily recompensed, which 
was done without delay. 

" Amongst the Babis who have fallen into the hands 
of justice, there are six whose culpabiHty not having been 
well established, have been condemned to the galleys for 
life. The others have all been massacred in the following 
ways : — 

" Mollah Sheik AH of Turchiz, the author of this 
conspiracy, has been condemned to death by the Ulemas 
or religious judges, and put to death by them. 

" Seyyed Houssein Khorassani was killed by the 
princes of the blood, who massacred him with pistol- 
shots, scimitars, and daggers. 

" Mustafi-el-Memalek took charge of the execution of 
Mollah Zeyine-el-Abedin, Yezdi, whom he killed with 
pistol-shots fired point blank, after which the Mustafis of 
the Divan, throwing themselves upon the corpse, riddled 
it with pistol-shots and stabs of sword, dagger, and 

" Mollah Houssein Khorassani was killed by Mirza 
Kassem Nizam Oul-Moulk and by Mirza Said Khan, 
Minister of Public Affairs. Mirza Kassem was the first to 
approach the condemned, and shot him with his pistol point 
blank. Then Mirza Said Khan approached in his turn 
and fired another pistol. At last the servants of these 
two high functionaries threw themselves on the corpse, 
which they hacked to pieces with knives and daggers. 

" Mirza Abdoul Wahab of Shiraz, who during his 
sojourn in Kazemein had rendered himself guilty in the 
eyes of the authorities by inciting the inhabitants to 
revolt, was put to death by Jaffar Kouli-Khan, brother 
of the Grand Vizier, by Zulfe-Khar Khan, by Moussa 
Khan, and by Mirza Aly Khan, all three sons of the 
Grand Vizier, assisted by their servants and the guards 
of the King and the other people present at the execution, 
some using pistols, others rifles, others daggers of all sorts, 
so that the corpse of this wretched man was reduced to 

" Mollah Fcthoulhah, son of Mollah Aly, the book- 
binder, the man who, shooting at the King with a pistol 
loaded with lead, slightly wounded His Majesty, had his 
body covered with holes, in which lighted candles were 
stuck. Then Hadjeb-ed-Dowleh received the order to 
kill him with a pistol-shot, which he did by shooting at 
the exact spot of the body where His Majesty had been 
wounded. He fell stone dead. Then the ferrashes of 
the King threw themselves on the body and hacked it to 
pieces and heaped stones upon it. 

" Sheikh Abbas of Teheran has been sent to the bottom 
of hell by the Khans and other dignitaries of the State, 
who killed him with pistols and swords. 

" Mohammed Taghi of Shiraz had horseshoes nailed 
to his feet first, like a horse, by Ased-oullah-Khan, first 
equerry of His Majesty, and by the employees of the 
Imperial stables. Then he was beaten to death with 
maces and with the great nails of iron which are used in 
the stables to fasten the horses to. 

" Mohammed Aly of Nejef-Abad was handed over to 
the Artillery men, who first of all tore out one of his eyes, 
then bound him over the muzzle of a gun and blew him 
to pieces. 

" As to Hadji Suleiman Khan, son of Yah-Yah Khan 
of Tabriz, and Hadji Kassem, also of Tabriz, they were 
marched through the town of Teheran with their bodies 
stuck with candles, accompanied by dancers and by the 
music of the Evening, which is composed of long horns 
and huge drums, and were followed by a crowd of the 
curious, who wished to stone them, but were prevented 
by th^ f err ashes. 

" Suleiman Khan, when one of the candles fell, sank 
and picked it up, and restored it to its place. Somebody 
having cried, 'You sing, why don't you dance?' Suleiman 
began to dance. 

" Once out of the town, the ferraskes, executing the 
orders which had been given them, cut them both into four 
pieces, which they hung over various gates of the town. 

" Nejef of Khamseh was abandoned to the fury of the 
mob, who beat him to pieces with their fists and stones. 

" Hadji Mirza Djami, merchant of Kachan, was killed 
by the Provost of the Merchants of Teheran, assisted by 
the merchants and shopkeepers." 

The above is the official Persian account. Comte de 
Gobineau, who was Minister of France to the Court of 
Teheran at that time, tells us — 

" One saw that day in the streets and bazars of 
Teheran a spectacle that the population will never forget. 
One saw, walking between staffs of executioners, children 
and women, with the flesh gaping all over their bodies, 
with lighted wicks soaked with oil stuck in the wounds. 
The victims were dragged by cords and driven with 
whips. The children and women walked singing a 
verse, which says, * In truth we come from God, and we 
return to Him.' Their voices rose piercingly in the 
middle of the profound silence of the mob ; for the 
population of Teheran is neither bad-hearted nor much 
devoted to Islam. When one of the tortured people fell, 
he was forced to rise with blows from whips and prods 
from bayonets. If the loss of blood which ensued from 
the wounds all over the body left him strength enough, he 
began to dance and shout with fervour, ' We belong to 
God, and we return to Him.' Some of the children 
expired en rotite. The executioners threw their bodies 
under the feet of their father and sister, who walked 
fiercely upon them, without looking. 

" When they arrived at the place of execution near the 
new gate, life was again offered to the victims if they 
would abjure their faith, and, though it seemed difficult, 
means were sought to intimidate them. The executioner 
hit upon the device of signing to a father that if he did 
not abjure he would cut the throat of his two sons upon 
his chest. These were two small boys, the eldest being 
fourteen, who, red with their own blood and with flesh 
scorched by the candles, listened unmoved. The father 
answered by lying down on the earth that he was ready, 
and the eldest of the boys, claiming his right of birth, 
begged to have his throat cut first. It is not impossible 
that the executioner refused him this last satisfaction. 
At last everything was ended, and the night fell upon a 
heap of mangled human remains. The heads were 
strung in bundles to the Posts of Justice, and all the dogs 
of the suburbs made their way to that side of the 

" This day gave to the Bab more secret partisans than 
many preachings could have done." 
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