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COLLECTIONNewspaper articles
TITLELetter [on Babis and Nestorians]
AUTHOR 1Austin Wright
TITLE_PARENTMissionary Herald
ABSTRACTLetter from November 1852, with a brief mention of the assassination attempt on the Sháh.
NOTES See also Wright's previous letters to the American Oriental Society, from 1851 and 1853.
TAGSAustin Wright; Iran (documents); Nasirid-Din Sháh; Nasirid-Din Shah, Attempt on

1. Introductory note

To supplement the topic of the Fall of 1852, note that both Nabil's Narrative and God Passes By refer to this pogrom.

Significant work has been published about the assassination attempt. See:

There are newspaper references to this as well; at first referring to hundreds of Babis being martyred in October:

    First in French as "Des Nouvelles de Perse", 3rd column, half way down, Journal des débats politiques et littéraires, 30 Oct 1852, page 1 online at It was then printed in English a couple times (earliest found so far are in the Patriot, Nov 1, page 5, 3rd column, and Morning Chronicle, Nov 10, p. 6, 3rd column near middle, alas not online yet but successively echoed such as viewable at, note that because of policies of the institution clippings are not public; to view the site requires a fee unless accessed "in premises owned or operated by the British Library, or within a premises subscribed to The British Newspaper Archive Community Edition”, however excerpts resulting from searches can be accessed publicly.

And then a rather longer first hand account of the spreading pogrom is published.
    It is eventually echoed in New Zealand - last on 26 March 1853, English Extracts (near the middle), New Zealand Spectator and Cook's Strait Guardian, 26 March 1853, Page 3. Steven Cooney lists the English version originating as "Reprinted from the Kolner Zeitung. “Persian Heretics and Executioners.” The Times (London). October 23, 1852, (see Persian Heretics and Executioners, The Times, (London, Greater London, England), 23 October 1852 • Page 8.) This might be referenced in The Bábí and Bahá'í religions 1844-1944: some contemporary western accounts on p. 12, 132–146, originating as "Oesterreichischer Soldatenfreund" on August 29 by Count von Gumoens, an Austrian working in Tehran, published perhaps first as "Oesterreichischer Soldatenfreund" in Zeitschrift für militärische Interessen 12 Oct. p. 1, and then echoed in ''Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung'' and ''Kolnische Zeitung'' 23 Oct. 1852, p. 2.
And then tens of thousands are noted martyred in December:
    First in the London Standard, 20 December 1852, p. 3, 3rd column, section on the Bab above middle, an excerpt of which is viewable online at, followed by other echoes.
Note these newspaper references are earlier than the previously known comments of Mirza Muhammad Taqi Lisan al-Mulk Sipihr (Sepehr) in his Nasikh al-tawarikh, dated 1858. A number of Western references noted parallels with Christian early history:
    * Robert Grant Watson (b. 8 February 1834, d. 28 October 1892) commented in A history of Persia from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the year 1858 (published 1866) in a footnote.
    * Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch (b. June 18, 1809 - d. October 12, 1870) in Studies in the evidences of Christianity (published 1869) footnote 36.
    * Sacramento Daily Union of 14 February 1874 , p. 4, 4th col - "He (the Shah) then massacred the Babis and religious sects, and set fire, a la Nero, to some of his victims.”
    * Mary Wilson in 1885 in the Contemporary Review included comments of Gobineau.

— Steven Kolins, 2016

2. Text

Letter from Dr. Wright, November 20, 1852


Enlistment of Nestorians.

The following extract will be read with regret; and yet the information which it contains is valuable.

You have been informed that the Persian government is raising a regiment of Christian soldiers, mainly from the Nestorians. The enlistment was commenced more than a year ago, and it is not yet complete. The people are much opposed to entering the army; consequently the enlistment has been mostly a forced one. Great corruption exists among the officers charged with the business; and in some cases serious oppression is practiced. At present there is such a state of excitement among the people on the subject, as in some measure to interfere with our labors.

Strong influences have been brought to bear upon the government to induce it to relinquish the plan of raising the regiment; but the King and his ministers still adhere to it; and of late peremptory orders have been received by the government agents here to complete the enlistment. It is conjectured that the King intends to make this regiment a part of his body-guard. It is said that he has lost confidence in his Musulman guard, since the attempt on his life last summer by five or six persons of the Bâbee sect. They approached him when out on a hunting excursion, under pretence of having a petition to present. Not suspecting any evil design, he reined up his horse and stopped. The ruffians then drew forth pistols, which they had concealed under their garments, and discharged them at the King. He fell from his horse wounded, though not seriously. The affair was investigated; and wherever persons were found, who were suspected of belonging to the Bâbee sect, they were seized and put to death with every variety of torture. Several hundred persons were killed in this manner at the capital; and messengers were dispatched to various parts of the empire with orders to the local governors to show no mercy to those professing bâbeeism.

Dr. Wright says that both the seminaries are in operation. The applicants for admission to these institutions were so numerous, that many were of necessity rejected.

3. Scan, excerpt (see complete scan below)

4. Scan, complete

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