Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 January 2022
Qajar irredentism brought Persia to make some advances in Baluchistan in the 1830s and 1840s, but in early 1860s, the continuation of this advance was threatened by one of Britain's main imperial interests and needs: the Indo-European telegraph line, which was to cross the Makran Coast overland. Persia sought to use this need for getting British recognition for its claims over Baluchistan. This put the British under pressure, for they did not wish to alienate Persia, through whose territories the line was to pass. The British government tried to appease the Persians with a simple declaration that the telegraph would not affect their claims and by taking the telegraph away from disputed territories. One major thing was faulty in this “solution,” for it was the British who decided which territories were “disputed” or “undisputed,” not the Persians.
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2 Mojtahed-Zadeh, P., The Amirs of the Borderlands and Eastern Iranian Borders (London, 1995), 341–43Google Scholar. This book was updated and re-published under Small Players of the Great Game: The Settlement of Iran's Eastern Borderlands and the Creation of Afghanistan (London and New York, 2004). For a short and concise account of the Persian territorial aspirations on its eastern borders, see: Mojtahed Zadeh, P., “The Eastern Boundaries of Iran,” in McLachlan, K. (ed.), The Boundaries of Modern Iran (London, 1994), 128–139 (esp. 128–134)Google Scholar.
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6 The Peace Treaty of Paris from 1857 was between Britain and Persia, ending not only the Anglo-Persian War of 1856–7, but also “to relinquish all claims to sovereignty over the territory and city of Herat and the countries of Afghanistan, and never to demand…any marks of obedience,…to abstain…from all interference with the internal affairs of Afghanistan…to recognize the independence of Herat and of the whole of Afghanistan, and never to attempt to interfere with the independence of those States.” For the text of the Treaty, see Government of India, A Collection of Treaties, Engagements and Sanads Relating to India and Neighbouring Countries, vol. 13, compiled by A. U. Aitchison (Calcutta, 1933), 81–86.
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11 On the Indo-European telegraph line and project, see S. Shahvar, “The Formation of the Indo-European Telegraph Line: Britain, the Ottoman Empire and Persia, 1855–1865” (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, the University of London, 1997). The initiative for such a telegraphic connection belonged to private promoters, who begun to promote the idea in mid 1850s, and only few years later did the British government decide to make the connection herself.
12 At least one source claims the capture of Bampur to have taken place in 1845; see Acting Secretary to Government, Bombay, no. 9 of 3 June 1861, FO 60/385, 25, as quoted in Mojtahed-Zadeh, Small Players of the Great Game: The Settlement of Iran's Eastern Borderlands and the Creation of Afghanistan (London & New York, 2004), 164 & 236, note 59.
14 Acting Secretary to Government, Bombay, no. 9 of 3 June 1861, FO 60/385, 25, as quoted by Mojtahed-Zadeh, , The Amirs of the Borderlands and Eastern Iranian Borders (London, 1995), 342Google Scholar.
15 Spooner, “Baluchistan,” 613; Mojtahed-Zadeh, The Amirs of the Borderlands and Eastern Iranian Borders, 343.
16 Extracts of a document on the history of Baluchistan, FO 60/385, p. 61, as quoted by Mojtahed-Zadeh, The Amirs of the Borderlands and Eastern Iranian Borders (London, 1995), 342.
18 At that time Baghdad had been just connected to Istanbul (8 December 1860), which, in turn, had already been connected to the European telegraphic system (since 1855). On the construction of the Istanbul-Baghdad line, see Shahvar, “The Formation of the Indo-European Telegraph Line: Britain, the Ottoman Empire and Persia, 1855–1865,” 87–139.
19 Indian telegraphic system was formed under the Governor Generalship of James Andrew Ramsay, the Marquis of Dalhousie (1848–1856), especially from 1853 onwards. W. B. O'Shaughnessy, a surgeon in the Bengal Army, who first introduced the telegraph into India in May 1839, headed the creation and the expansion of the Indian telegraph administration; see Shahvar, “The Formation of the Indo-European Telegraph Line: Britain, the Ottoman Empire and Persia, 1855–1865,” 32.
20 A commission of inquiry, which was set up in order to arbitrate between Thoweini and Majid, both sons of Sayyid Sa'id, the Sultan of Muscat and Zanzibar (1804–1856), in the succession crisis which developed after Sai'd's death. The commission, which was appointed in 1860 by Lord Canning, Governor General of India, included Colonel (Sir) William Marcus Coghlan, British political resident at Aden, Rev. George Percy Badger, an Arabic scholar, and Hormuzd Rassam, the temporary agent of the Bombay Government at Muscat. In April 1861, the commission recommended Oman's and Zanzibar's independence from one another was recognized and the ruler of each state—namely Thoweini in Muscat and Majid in Zanzibar—received the official title of ‘sultan’. Also, Majid ibn Sa'id and his successors obligated to pay Thoweini ibn Sa'id and his successors an annual compensation of 40,000 Maria Therese dollars in perpetuity. Both sultans agreed to these terms, and in 1862 France, which was heavily involved in the conflict and in east African affairs at the time, engaged with Britain to recognize the independence of the two sultans. See Landen, Robert G., Oman Since 1856: Disruptive Modernization in a Traditional Arab Society (Princeton, 1967), 271–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
21 Badger to H. L. Anderson (Acting Secretary, Bombay Government), Bombay, 17 Dec. 1860, enclosure 1 in no. 1371, Anderson to Sir Charles Wood (Secretary of State for India), Bombay, 8 April 1861, U.K. National Archives, Foreign Office Records (hereafter: FO) 248/190. An identical, but a more detailed version of the plan, entitled “Electric Telegraph Communication with India,” was drawn up by Badger later [London, 7 September 1861, enclosure to no. 160 T(elegraphs) (hereafter: T), FO 78/1622].
22 Badger to H. L. Anderson (Acting Secretary, Bombay Government), Bombay, 17 Dec. 1860, enclosure 1 in no. 1371, Anderson to Sir Charles Wood (Secretary of State for India), Bombay, 8 April 1861, U.K. National Archives, FO 248/190.
23 The friendship of the ruler of Muscat towards the British had been previously expressed in a number of cases. For instance, in 1822 the ruler of Muscat permitted the British to establish a naval base at Basidu, at the north-western end of Qeshm, which served until 1879 as the headquarters of the Indian naval squadron maintained in the Persian Gulf to suppress piracy and the slave traffic and, after 1835, to supervise the maritime truce. Again, in 1854, the Sultan of Muscat ceded the Kuria Muria Islands to the British crown, who were interested in them for their guano deposits and for use as a cable station in a projected telegraph line to India through the Red Sea. See Hurewitz, J. C., The Middle East and North Africa in World Politics: A Documentary Record 2nd ed., vol. 1Google Scholar, European Expansion, 1535–1914 (New Haven & London, 1975), 309, 322–24.
24 Badger to Anderson, Bombay, 17 December 1860, enclosure 1 in no. 1371, Anderson to Sir Charles Wood (Secretary of State for India), Bombay, 8 April 1861, U.K. National Archives, FO 248/190.
25 This was Captain Felix Jones, the Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, stationed at Bushehr. Jones believed that a landline would not be secured from damage by the lawless tribes along the coast, and he was the only one (out of those whose views were sought by the Bombay government), who supported a submarine line.
26 For the full views of these British representatives, see A. B. Kemball (Consul General and Political Agent, Baghdad) to Anderson, Baghdad, 7 May 1861, enclosure in Kemball to Russell, Baghdad, 7 May 1861, FO 78/1634 (195a–196b) and 195/676 (117a–118b) and HM/551, no. 30 (41–42); Felix Jones (Political Resident, Persian Gulf) to Anderson, Bushehr, 20 March 1861, FO 248/198, no. 15 (PD); Hormuzd Rassam (Acting Political Officer, Muscat) to Anderson, Muscat, 27 February 1861, FO 248/190 and HM/551, no. 7; W. L. Merewether (Political Superintendent, Frontier Upper Sind) to PD, Jacobabad, 23 December 1860, no. 40, enclosure 3 in Anderson to Inverarity, Bombay Castle, 7 January 1861, HM/551, no. 72 (PD); Henry Green (Political Officer, Kalat) to Merewether, Camp Bagh, 27 March 1861, no. 157 (PD), enclosure in Merewether to Inverarity, Jacobabad, 30 March 1861, HM/551, no. 155. J. D. Inverarity (Commissioner, Sind) to Sir George Kensall Clerk (Governor and President in Council, Bombay), Camp Sukkur (Commissioner's Office, north of Haidarabad), 25 January 1861, FO 248/190, no. 16 (PD).
27 O'Shaughnessy to Under Secretary of State for India (hereafter: USSI), Paris, 25 April 1861, India Office Records (hereafter: IOR), Letters/Public Works Department (hereafter: L/PWD) /2/202 no. 71 (T).
28 It was mainly due to the Persian government not agreeing with this British belief, that the British government decided later to negotiate with its Persian counterpart for a line from Khaniqin to Bushehr, rather than Bandar ‘Abbas.
29 Merivale to O'Shaughnessy, London, 16 May 1861, L/PWD/2/196, no. 196.
30 O'Shaughnessy to Wood, London, 19 May 1861, L/PWD/2/202, no. 88 (T).
31 A. Kinloch Forbes [Acting Secretary to Bombay Government (hereafter: BG)] to Secret Department (hereafter: SD), Bombay Castle, 14 August 1861, India Office Records, Home Miscellaneous (hereafter: HM)/551, no. 214.
32 Indo-European Telegraph Department (hereafter: IETD), Persian Gulf Section, Official History of the Mekran Telegraph Line from Karachi to Jask (Karachi, 1895), 3Google Scholar; Phelps-Harris, C., “The Persian Gulf Submarine Telegraph of 1864,” The Geographical Journal 135, pt. 2 (June 1969): 172Google Scholar.
33 H. Green to Merewether, Camp Bagh, 27 March 1861, no. 157 Political Department (hereafter: PD), enclosure in Merewether to Inverarity, Jacobabad, 30 March 1861, HM/551, no.155.
34 H. Green to the Political Secretary to BG, Bombay, 23 June 1861, HM/551; Official History of the Mekran Telegraph Line from Karachi to Jask, 3–5. After Sultan bin Ahmad Al Bu Sa'idi, a contender for the rule of the Omani Sultanate, fled from Oman in 1784, the ruler of Kalat, Naser Khan, allowed him to settle in Gwadar, which remained a possession of the Sultans until sold to Pakistan in 1958 for three million Pounds Sterling; see Anthony, John Duke, Historical and Cultural Dictionary of the Sultanate of Oman and the Emirates of Eastern Arabia (Metuchen, N.J., 1976), 38Google Scholar.
35 Bandar ‘Abbas, together with Qeshm and Hormoz and their appended territories, were initially leased to the ruler of Muscat in 1798 for an annual payment of 6,000 Tomans (approximately MT$ 15,000). In 1853, the Muscati governor was expelled from Bandar ‘Abbas. A new arrangement for the lease of this port was signed on 17 November 1856, when the annual payment was increased to 14,000 Tomans (about MT$ 35,000), and in 4 August 1868 a new agreement raised the annual payment to 30,000 Tomans (about MT$ 75,000). In 1868, the Sultan of Muscat and Oman was expelled from Muscat by a successful revolt. This sufficed for the Persian government to cancel the contract on the basis of a conqueror obtaining possession of the place, and obtained possession of the port ever since. See Kelly, J. B., Britain and the Persian Gulf, 1795-1880 (Oxford, 1982), chs. 12, 14Google Scholar; and Curzon, G. N., Persia and the Persian Question vol. 2, (London, 1966), (1st ed. 1892), 410–27Google Scholar. For the text of the 1856 lease, see Aitchison, , A Collection of Treaties, Engagements and Sanads Relating to India and Neighbouring Countries, vol. 13, (Calcutta, 1933)Google Scholar, 12: cxlii-iv and encl. 3 in C. Gonne [Secretary, Secret Department (hereafter: SD)] to C. Alison (British Minister, Tehran), Bombay Castle, 14 February 1865, FO 248/ 226, no. 407.
36 Badger to Forbes, Aden, 3 June 1861, HM/551, no.9.
37 Tiz is a village near Chahbahar.
38 Badger to Forbes, 3 June 1861, HM/551, no.9.
39 Badger to Forbes, 3 June 1861, HM/551, no.9.
40 Badger to the Secretary to BG, Aden, 5 June 1861, no.10 in J.A. Saldanha, Precis of Makran Affairs (secret) (Calcutta, 1905), 12. For a short account of the Persian moves in those areas, see Khan Baluch, Muhammad Sardar, History of Baluch Race and Baluchistan (Quetta, 1958), ch. xvGoogle Scholar.
41 Badger to the secretary to BG, 5 June 1861, no.10 in Saldanha, J.A., Precis of Makran Affairs (secret) (Calcutta, 1905), 12Google Scholar. For a short account of the Persian moves in those areas, see Khan Baluch, Muhammad Sardar, History of Baluch Race and Baluchistan (Quetta, 1958), ch. xvGoogle Scholar.
42 BG to Indian Government (hereafter: IG), Bombay Castle, 12 July 1861, no. 93 in Precis of Makran Affairs, 12.
43 C. U. Aitchison [Officiating Secretary to IG in the Foreign Department (hereafter: FD)] to Forbes, Fort William, 9 Sep.1861, HM/551 and FO 248/190, no.5198 (FD).
44 Col. A. M. Durand (Officiating Secretary to IG) to Alison, Fort William, 9 Sep. 1861, no. 5199. See note 44. The Governor General of India (hereafter: GGI) believed that same information could also be obtained from the Persian minister in London.
45 Aitchison to Forbes, 9 September 1861, HM/551 and FO 248/190, no.5198 (FD).
46 Aitchison to Forbes, 9 September 1861, HM/551 and FO 248/190, no.5198 (FD).
47 Forbes to Aitchison, Bombay Castle, HM/551, no.144 (PD).
48 Inverarity to Merewether, Karachi, 9 December 1861, HM/551, no. 554; Official History of the Mekran Telegraph Line from Karachi to Jask, 7.
49 Merewether to Inverarity, Karachi, 22 July 1861, HM/551, no. 491/432.
50 Major Paul Lynch (Acting Secretary, PD) to Inverarity, n.p. (Bombay Castle), 19 October 1861, and Merewether to Inverarity, Jacobabad, 28 October 1861, HM/551, nos. 522 & 580 (PD) respectively.
51 Goldsmid to Inverarity, Karachi, 22 February 1862, HM/551, no. 19 (PD). The task of selecting the exact route over the Malan was left for the director of the future construction party. For a detailed account of the survey, see Goldsmid, F., “Diary of the Proceedings of the Mission into Mekran for Political and Survey Purposes, from the 12th to 19th December 1861,” Journal of the Royal Geographical Society 33 (1863): 181–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Goldsmid, F., “Exploration from Kurrachi to Gwadur, along the Mekran Coast,” Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society 7 no. 3 (1862–63): 91–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
52 Goldsmid to Inverarity, Sonmiani, 21 Dec.1861 and Karachi, 22 February 1862, HM/551, no. 2 & 19 respectively.
53 On these relationships, see Thomas A. Heathcote, “British Policy and Baluchistan, 1854–1876” (Ph.D. thesis, University of London, 1970), 6–26.
54 The latest information the British had about Baluchistan until Goldsmid's survey dated back to 1809–1810. In those years, two British officers, Capt. Christie and Lieut. (afterwards Sir Henry) Pottinger, both of the East India Company's (hereafter: EIC) native army, traveled through portions of Baluchistan and published the information they gathered in 1816; see Pottinger, H., Travels in Beloochistan and Sinde; Accompanied by a Geographical and Historical Account of Those Countries with a Map (London, 1816; repr. Westmead, 1972)Google Scholar. Another Englishman, Captain Grant, made immediately afterwards another survey in order to check whether a European army might be able to enter India from that direction; see Lorimer, G. J., Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia(Calcutta, 1915)Google Scholar, pt. II (Historical), 2154. Some other surveys and charts made by 1830—such as those by Maughan, Guy, and Brucks (on the Arabian coast of the Persian Gulf from Ras Musandam to the estuary of the Shatt al-‘Arab, the Persian shores and islands, and the Gulf of Oman) and by Stafford Haines and his assistants (the Makran Coast to the head of the Gulf of Oman)—had, probably, also been partially useful; see Graham, Great Britain in the Indian Ocean: A Study of Maritime Enterprise, 1810–1850, 15. See also Hughes, A.W., The Country of Balochistan: Its Geography, Topography, Ethnology and History (London, 1877), 56Google Scholar; and Nicolini, Beatrice, Makran, Oman and Zanzibar: Three-Terminal Cultural Corridor in the Western Indian Ocean (1799–1856),Google Scholar translated from the Italian by Watson, Penelope-Jane (Leiden & Boston, 2004), 4–23Google Scholar.
55 This was not an exception, and surveying missions did, usually, have strategic use as well.
56 Alison to Russell, Tehran, 5 November 1861, no. 214, FO 60/279 and 248/196.
57 The Persian govt. to Alison (translation of memo.), Tehran, 6 November 1861, enclosure 2 in no. 127, Alison to Russell, Tehran, 6 November 1861, FO 60/279 and 248/196.
58 For a detailed account of Persian claims, see “Memorandum by the Rev. G. P. Badger on the Pretensions of Persia in Beloochistan and Mekran, drawn up with especial reference to her claim to Gwadur and Charbar [Chahbahar],” 23 Dec.1863, IOR, Letters/Political and Secret (hereafter: L/P&S)/18/C/68.
59 See Shahvar, “The Formation of the Indo-European Telegraph Line: Britain, the Ottoman Empire and Persia, 1855–1865,” ch. 4.
60 At the time, Mirza Farrokh Khan, the Amin al-Dowleh, was member of the Majles-e Showra-ye Dowlati (State Consultative Council) and charged with responsibility for provincial affairs. In 1857 he headed the Persian delegation to the peace talks with the British delegation in Paris to bring the Anglo-Persian War of 1856–57 to the end.
61 Alison to Russell, Tehran, 19 November 1861, no. 130, FO 60/279 and 248/196.
62 Alison to Russell, Tehran, 19 November 1861, no. 130, FO 60/279 and 248/196.
63 T. G. Baring to E. Hammond, London, 22 Jan.1862, FO 60/279 and L/PWD/2/196, no.23.
64 T. G. Baring to E. Hammond, London, 22 Jan.1862, FO 60/279 and L/PWD/2/196, no.23.
65 Durand to Stewart, Fort William, 3 February 1862, in J.A. Saldanha, Precis of Makran Affairs, 14.
66 M. J. Shaw (Secretary, PD) to Inverarity, Bombay Castle, 30 December 1861, HM/551, no.4160 (PD).
67 BG, PD to Sir Charles Wood (SSI), Bombay Castle, 24 April 1862, HM/551, no.32.
68 IG to Wood, Fort William, 11 March 1862, FO 248/210, no. 36 (FD, political) (copy). Stewart was to be sent to the Arabian coast to report on such line if the Anglo-Persian telegraph negotiations failed.
69 I. Walton to M. Green, Muscat, 17 March 1862, no. 20 in “Muscat Affairs,” IOR, R/15/3/A/4 and in Official History of the Mekran Telegraph Line from Karachi to Jask, 20.
70 It could be that the British indeed learned from their mistake in connection with the telegraph concession, and indeed, as was the case in later concessions granted to them, knew to offer special financial privileges to the Qajar Shahs.
71 See note 71.
72 See note 71.
73 Stewart to Durand, Karachi, 20 March 1862, HM/551 and FO 248/208, letter no. 1.
74 Durand to the Acting Secretary to BG, Fort William, 24 March 1862, HM/551, no. 290 (FD, political).
76 Stewart to Durand, Bushehr, 5 April 1862, FO 248/208, letter no.3. More specific reasons for such objection were as follows: the higher cost of the submarine cable; uncertainty of deep sea cables (as such required between Makran and Muscat); doubts about efficient protection to the landline along the Arabian coast; and the volcanic character (and thus the unsuitability) of the Arabian coast, compared to the very favorable sandstone formation of the Persian coast.
77 Official History of the Mekran Telegraph Line from Karachi to Jask, 25–26.
78 Official History of the Mekran Telegraph Line from Karachi to Jask, 31–32. Walton mentioned a similar case in Turkey where the Arabs, seeing the line apparently abandoned, had at once destroyed it.
79 Official History of the Mekran Telegraph Line from Karachi to Jask, 31–32.
80 Official History of the Mekran Telegraph Line from Karachi to Jask, 32–33.
81 Official History of the Mekran Telegraph Line from Karachi to Jask, 32–33. At this time P. Stewart proposed to lay a cable from Karachi to Gwadar as an alternative to the landline, for greater security of communication, and the British govt. accepted the proposal; see P. Stewart to USSI (report), 22 September 1862, L/PWD/2/203, no.69 (T).
82 Stewart to USSI, London, 14 August 1862, L/PWD/2/203, no. 57 (T).
83 Stewart to USSI, London, 14 August 1862, L/PWD/2/203, no. 57 (T).
84 Merivale to Hammond, London, 10 September 1862, FO 60/279 and L/PWD/2/196, no. 356. While the Persian estimate for guarding the line was £13,000–14,000 per annum, the British were ready to pay only £6,000 for it, which was only £200 short of Stewart's estimate; see: Stewart to USSI, 14 August 1862, L/PWD/2/203, no. 57 (T).
85 Hammond and Russell to Alison, London, 11 September and 18 October, FO 60/279 and 248/202, nos. 57 (dft) and 78 respectively.
86 Mirza Sa'id Khan to Thomson (trans.), Tehran, 3 December 1862, encl. in Thomson to Russell, Tehran, 3 December 1862, FO 60/279 and 248/204, no. 14; A. Gobineau (French charge d'affaires, Tehran) to Thouvenel (French foreign secretary), Tehran, 20 December 1862, letter no. 39 in Gobineau, , Les Depeches Diplomatiques du Comte de Gobineau en Perse, ed. Hytier, A. D., (Paris & Geneve, 1959)Google Scholar, 2ieme partie, 209–212. The Persians were now proposing the compromising sum of £9,100 per annum.
87 For details of these Anglo-Persian negotiations, see Shahvar, “The Formation of the Indo-European Telegraph Line: Britain, the Ottoman Empire and Persia, 1855–1865,” 236–301 (esp. 272–301).
88 Official History of the Mekran Telegraph Line from Karachi to Jask, 33–34.
89 At the same time the British government was attempting to bypass another difficulty concerned with territorial claims of Persia, this time in relation to her dispute with the Ottoman Empire over the exact point of border in the Khanaqin neighborhood, a dispute which delayed the construction of the Baghdad-Tehran-Bushehr telegraph line. In that case the British managed (late 1864) to bypass the very knotty question by bringing both sides to agree on the construction of alternate iron (Ottoman) and wooden (Persian) poles over the disputed tract of land; for more details, see Soli Shahvar, “Iron Poles, Wooden Poles: The Electric Telegraph and the Ottoman-Iranian Boundary Conflict, 1863–1865,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (forthcoming). For the discussion of the telegraph in the larger context of Ottoman politics, see Bektaş, Yakup, “The Sultan's Messenger: Cultural Constructions of Ottoman Telegraphy, 1847–1880,” Technology and Culture 41 (October 2000): 669–696CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Shahvar, Soli, “Concession Hunting in the Age of Reform: British Companies and the Search for Government Guarantees; Telegraph Concessions through Ottoman Territories, 1855–1858,” Middle Eastern Studies 38, no.4 (October 2002): 169–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
90 Stewart to USSI, 14 August 1862, L/PWD/2/203, no. 57 (T).
91 One of the major technical difficulties was to construct the line over the Malan Drop—a 2,000 feet span from the top of the Malan Mountain to its bottom. It caused also many logistic problems, such as carrying supplies from the boats to the top. Apart from the political problems connected with Persia, the British faced another major problem connected with the relations between the Khan of Kalat and some of the Baluchi chiefs: whether to pay the agreed subsidies for the protection of the line directly to the Jam of Las Bela (and thus acknowledging his independence from the Khan of Kalat) or indirectly, through the Khan of Kalat. The British decided in favor of the latter mode. See Shahvar, “The Formation of the Indo-European Telegraph Line: Britain, the Ottoman Empire and Persia, 1855–1865,” 405–409, 415–423.