Mr. Tyler to Mr. Gresham.

No. 113.]

Sir: I have the honor to forward for your information copies of (1) a letter from the Rev. James Hawkes, an American missionary at Hamadan, relating to the renewed persecution of the Jews by a certain ecclesiastical dignitary in that city, and the forcible removal of a man who had taken refuge in Mr. Hawkes’s house; (2) a letter from Dr. Holmes, the medical missionary at that station, in regard to the same subject; (3) extract from a letter from Dr. Holmes reporting the arrest of some of their teachers and pupils, probably Jews, who were, however, speedily released; (4) a letter from myself to Dr. Holmes expressing my views of the situation, and requesting to be informed by telegraph in case affairs in Hamadan should assume a more serious aspect; (5) a letter from Mr. Conyingham Greene, the English chargé d’affaires, to myself affirming his belief that Mullah Abdullah, the author of all these troubles, who was ordered up to Teheran by the Shah, was, before he was permitted to return, obliged to give securities for his future good behavior, and stating that the Sadr Azem had informed him that orders had been sent by the Shah which would have the effect of putting an end to these oppressions.

It appears from what I have been able to gather from various sources that for some time past there has been a considerable movement amongst the Jewish population in Hamadan towards Christianity. This mayor may not be a reaction against the persecutions and indignities which they have suffered at the hands of the ecclesiastical and ruling authorities. It may also be, and on which I do not profess to offer an opinion, the result of religious convictions. Whichever may be the active cause, or it may even be both, it is quite evident that the Akhund, Mullah Abdullah, considers it a reflection on himself and the Moslem [Page 493] religion as well. He is a violent bigot and fanatic, and this phase of his character, in the eyes of the common people, throws a halo of sanctity around his person. It is satisfactory to find from Mr. Greene’s letter that the Shah has again asserted his authority in favor of peace, order, and good government.

I have, etc.,

John Tyler,
Vice-Consul-General in charge.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 113.]

Mr. Hawkes to Mr. Tyler.

Dear Mr. Tyler: Having received your favor of the 19th instant, I am pleased to learn that you still interest yourself in our efforts to establish a school at Kermanshah. I hope you may be eventually successful in obtaining the necessary permit.

The Catholics have no mission at present in Kermanshah, but I understand they are making preparations to open one shortly. Last winter during our stay there the Catholics gave us a separate petition, which I forwarded to our U. S. minister. You can no doubt find it in its proper place. The Christian community at Kermanshah numbers about six or eight families, almost entirely Catholic, and the Jewish community about four hundred families, or more.

As a matter of information I wish to report the following particulars of a little encounter with the Akhund, Mullah Abdullah.

On Sunday last he caused to be arrested a former pupil and teacher of our school, Mirza Salazar Faraj, who, since his older brother’s death, has been carrying on that brothers business as a merchant When he was present the Ahkund reviled him for accepting Christianity instead of Islam, and ordered him to be taken to the said Akhund’s house. The attendants beat him in the Akhund’s presence. On his way to the Akhund’s he slipped out of the hands of the attendants as he was passing near my house and came into my yard.

The attendants followed him, and after a contest, in which I tried to rescue him from their hands, they carried him off by force. I, being single-handed on account of the absence of my servants who were eating their dinners, was not able to effectually resist so many. Some of the number turned upon me, but a neighbor and a sayed helped me to put them out and close the door. Shortly afterwards the Akhund’s servant returned, ordering me to appear before the Akhund immediately, and threatened violence in case I did not respond. This I refused to do, and again closed the door in his face; (he is an exceedingly impudent sayed and the cause of almost all the Akhund’s contests).

Dr. Holmes, who had arrived before this sayed’s return, went out by another door and pacified him and brought him in. After considerable talk Dr. Holmes went with him to see the Akhund and talked the whole matter over with him. He attempted to make me out a transgressor, which Dr. Holmes denied, asserting that I had only asserted my right within the bounds of my premises.

Among many things which were said, the Akhund virtually defied the Shah, etc., but the interview ended in a friendly parting and the promise of another interview. That evening the missionaries called upon Hussein Khan Sarteeb, Beglar Begi (who has always proved a [Page 494] faithful friend on such occasions), and he afterwards arranged for a meeting between the Akhund and the missionaries. On Tuesday morning we went to the house of Hadji Mirza Mehde, where we understood we were to meet the Akhund, but we found that they had not so arranged, expecting us to go from thence to the Akhund’s house. At this we demurred but we finally consented to go for a friendly call on condition that these two men would take charge of our case. We asked but two things of them: First, that those Jews who had been free from wearing the patch and suffering other indignities on account of their relation to the missionaries should continue to enjoy this liberty; and second, that while we had nothing to say about their relations with the Jews of this city we reserved the right to report to our own and other foreign Governments any violence or indignities which may be imposed upon them. They accepted these conditions, and we made a call on the Akhund, at which time nothing but good will was expressed.

In this connection I would ask two favors: First, that you would kindly give the above report to the English legation as a matter of information; and second, that you would let us know on what conditions Mullah Abdullah returned to Hamadan. We understand, through English papers, that he gave bonds to keep the peace, and we would be glad to know if this is true.

Yours, very sincerely,

Jas. W. Hawkes.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 113.]

Dr. Holmes to Mr. Tyler.

Dear Sir: Mr. Watson and Mr. Hawkes are writing you to-day in regard to the renewal of the persecution of the Jews, which we have anticipated ever since the Akhund Abdullah returned from Teheran. The forcible entry of Mr. Hawkes’s premises in pursuit of one of our Christian converts, who was taken by the Akhund’s men literally out of Mr. Hawkes’s hands, and severely beaten for his failure to wear the red patch which the Akhund has decided that the Jews, whether Christian converts or not, should wear, gave us an opportunity of making a vigorous protest against the imposition of such insignia of dishonor upon Christians; and also against the renewal of the cruel persecution of the Jews which was carried out by his orders last year. We have satisfied him that we propose to keep our own and the European Governments advised of any unusual acts of oppression perpetrated upon the Jews, and of any demonstrations menacing their lives or property.

We have, however, had a very pleasant interview with the Akhund himself, and also with Hadji Mirza Mehde, who is in sympathy with him, and we have assurances from the latter that our rights and those of the Jews shall be respected.

Mirza Hussein Khan, the Beglar Begi, who has just recently been promoted to Sarteeb, has in this matter, as at all times, shown himself a warm and efficient friend. We called to-day upon the vizier of the governor, Mirza Mahomet Reizza Khan, the prince himself being absent, and had a very pleasant interview. We have no doubt of his disposition to protect us; also the Jews, to the extent of his power; though if an emeute should occur, he could probably do little. Mehdi Khan Sertib Mansur-ed-Dowleh sent to me yesterday to inquire about the affair, and Ali Islam Serhaug, his lieutenant, intimated that the city was in a [Page 495] ferment, and that we were in danger of mob violence. I told him that we were in no danger at all if the Sertib and his friend the Zea-ul-Mulk, and the other men in authority and influence, did their duty in asserting the authority of the Shah, and not allowing a hostile demonstration to gain headway. We have seen a statement from the British foreign office that the Akhund was not permitted to return to Hamadan until the assent of the British minister had been obtained, and this was not given until he had given bonds to keep the peace. If this is correct, as I doubt not it is, he should be required to respect the conditions of his release. I sent word to Mansur-ed-Dowleh and to the Zea-ul-Mulk that we had every confidence in their desire to protect us, but that, if they expected to do so, they must exert their influence and authority, they having the command of the most of the troops, I believe, to keep the peace; particularly as the Moharem is approaching, and the disorderly and fanatical elements are easily acted upon then by designing men. We do not feel that the situation is as yet at all critical, and hope that the excitement will entirely quiet down.

I had a personal interview with the Akhund after the affair at Mr. Hawkes’s, and though everything was said pleasantly, I made it plain that the violation of our premises must not be repeated.

My purpose is not to invoke any assistance from Teheran, but to keep you advised of the situation, so that on receipt of a letter you would know how to act, and could, if necessary, advise the British and other legations.

It has been reported that Sayed Ali, the servant of Akhund, had two ribs broken in the affair at Mr. Hawkes’s. This was absurd, as Mr. Hawkes was alone at the time and no blows were struck; but it was evidently believed by the native physician in attendance. At the request of Sayed Ali, I visited him and found him suffering from an attack of asthma to which he was subject, and for which I had previously treated him. He had a pleuritic pain, which was thought to depend on a fracture of the rib. It is needless to say that the sayed had no fracture, nor did he make any pretense that he had been hit by anybody.

Everything is now quiet and we come and go as usual. We do not wish to have any special action taken in the matter unless we should be compelled to do so by the action of the Akhund.

Yours, very truly,

Geo. W. Holmes.
[Inclosure 3 in No. 113.]

Dr. Holmes to Mr. Tyler.

Dear Sir: I wrote you last week about the trouble here, which I thought then was quieted down. Soon after this other of our teachers and pupils were arrested, but on our application were promptly released by the Akhund. It turns out that the aggressor in this instance, and the instigator in the other case, was a former servant of Miss Schenck’s, who used this method of revenging himself for his dismissal from her service and her unwillingness to meet his demands for more pay, etc. We hope to have the man punished, as he has made threats of violence to our missionary ladies. But the authorities are disposed to protect our interests, and the Akhund has done nothing about which we care to make complaint since I wrote you last week.

Yours, etc.,

Geo, W. Holmes.
[Page 496]
[Inclosure 4 in No. 113.]

Mr. Tyler to Br. Holmes.

Dear Sir: I wrote a few lines on the 3d instant, to inform you that Mr. Hawkes’s letter of the 28th and yours of the 29th ultimo had just arrived; and I have now to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 6th instant.

It appears from what you report concerning the persecution of the Jews of Hamadan, and the forcible removal from Mr. Hawkes’s premises of a former pupil and teacher of your school, that these are matters requiring serious consideration. They may not be of very grave import in themselves, but it is possible that if they are allowed to go on unchecked and unredressed, time after time, they may eventually assume alarming proportions. You are, no doubt, being on the spot, better able; than I am to judge of the actual state of public feeling and the general position of affairs in Hamadan, and therefore, in accordance with your expressed wishes, I shall, at the present time, make no official representation to the central authorities on these irregularities. I think, however, that it would not be advisable to allow too many repetitions of this lawlessness or too frequent threats to be used toward the ladies of the mission without some remonstrance being made, if the local governor is powerless to act effectively. I feel it, therefore, my duty to ask you, that in case the position should assume a more threatening aspect, you will let me know by telegraph.

I trust you will be able to get the instigator of these acts of aggression and indignity, Miss Schenck’s late servant, punished by the authorities. If this is carried out in an exemplary manner, it will probably have the effect of deterring others in the future. * * *

Any complaint that you may feel it necessary to make to this legation will be attended to with the utmost expedition.

I have already communicated Mr. Hawkes’s report to the English legation, where, I have no doubt, it will receive due attention. I remain, etc.,

John Tyler.
[Inclosure 5 in No. 113.]

Mr. Conyngham Greene to Mr. Tyler.

Sir: In reply to the inquiry contained in the last paragraph of your letter of the 7th instant, I beg to state that I believe it is the case that Mullah Abdullah gave securities for his good behavior before his return to Hamadan, but whether at the instance of Sir Frank Lascelles or not, I can not say. Sir Frank, I know, made strong representations to the Persian Government on the subject of the action of the Mullah.

I myself received a petition last month purporting to come from the Jewish community of Hamadan, complaining of the oppression of Mullah Abdullah, but, as it was neither signed nor sealed, I do not know if it was authentic.

I spoke to the Sadr Azem on the subject, who told me that orders have been sent by the Shah which would have the effect of putting an end to the oppression complained of by the Jewish community of Hamadan.

I am, etc.,

Conyngham Greene.