No. 273.
Mr. Benjamin to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 73.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that on the 12th of June I was riding out to the country from Teheran in a carriage, on the way to the summer quarters of the legation. I was accompanied by my daughter. According to the custom of the country, the carriage was preceded by two outriders. The other legations on such an occasion take four to eight outriders, a matter of necessity as well as of display in Persia. As we approached a half-way coffee-house I observed a line of carriages waiting by the roadside in the shade. As it is very common for several vehicles to be seen standing there, while the occupants are taking a smoke, I had no idea that any precaution needed to be taken. I was greatly surprised, therefore, to see a troop of mounted cavalry rush out from the shade of the trees and make a violent attack on my outriders, who immediately cried out several times that the United States minister was in the carriage, and had the right of way. I now recognized the soldiers to belong to the royal guard, and immediately after perceived that the wives of the Shah were in the carriages. Although having officially the absolute right to pass, allowed to none except ministers and their families, at risk of immediate death to all others, I ordered my driver to stop, in order to give an officer opportunity to come to the carriage to apologize for the attack and escort us safely through the [Page 401] guards stationed in front and rear of the royal harem. But as no attention seemed to be paid to this, I ordered my men to keep on, thus throwing the responsibility of any results on the guards, who, not satisfied with beating the outriders with the flat of their swords, swarmed around the carriage itself with loud cries and flourishing their weapons. The lieutenant of the troop seized the carriage horses, others struck and thrust at the horses, and two even struck the driver himself. Fortunately the man was alike skillful and intrepid, and succeeded both in controlling the horses and driving us safely out of a disagreeable melée that at one moment threatened serious results. The number of men attacking was about twenty. It is proper to add that when the chief lady of the harem saw what was going on she dispatched a eunuch to escort us through the lines, but he did not arrive until the attack was nearly ended. All my men and horses were more or less bruised, and one of the men had his arm nearly broken. They all behaved well. * * *

On the same evening I sent a note to the minister of foreign affairs, demanding the prompt chastisement of the offenders, leaving it to the Persian Government to suggest out of its friendship such further redress as the occasion required.

There being some delay in replying to my note, I sent our dragoman, Mr. Keün, to the minister of foreign affairs. After quite an extended interview, the minister replied, “Tell your minister he shall hear from me to-morrow. I am anxious that he should be convinced of our good will, and I give you my word you shall be entirely satisfied by sunset to-morrow that I am sincere in these expressions.”

At 11 a. m. the following day, accordingly, the sanieh-ed-dowleh, a prominent member of the cabinet, was announced. Coming at once to the point, he stated that he had been personally deputed by the Shah to express the royal regret, and to say authoritatively that our demands should receive immediate attention.

In the afternoon of the same day I received an apologetic note from the minister of foreign affairs. In accordance with a request at the end of the note, our moonchee went to the foreign office next morning, and was there directed to take my driver and outriders and proceed at once to Sultanalabâd, the summer place where the Shah is staying at present. On arriving there the moonchee was confronted with the royal guards, and the men who had been most forward in the attack on my carriage, including their lieutenant, were recognized by my men. A grand chamberlain of the palace then ordered the punishment of the men, and they were accordingly punished. I think we could not ask further proof of the friendliness of the Shah toward the United States than the important fact that he ordered a number of the royal guards to be punished at the instance of a foreign legation.

In the afternoon of the same day the captain of the company came to the legation and apologized in a graceful and thoroughly satisfactory manner for the hasty and unwarranted action of the guards.

Two days later I called on the minister of foreign affairs and thanked him for the satisfactory manner in which the affair had terminated, and, later, I acknowledged his note in a note intended to reach the eye of the Shah, who, I have reason to know, as soon as he fully appreciated the gravity of the occasion, was willing, if possible, to anticipate our demands.

I have, &c.,