Daily Archives: 29 January 2007

The Shah of Iran’s Travel Diary, 6 July 1873

I have noticed today a curious state of mind among the French: first of all they are still in mourning over this recent war with Germany and all of them, young and old, are sad and melancholy. The women of the people, ladies and gentlemen still wear mourning dress, with few ornaments and of a great simplicity. Some of them cried occasionally ‘Long live the Marshal! Long live the Shah of Persia!’ I heard one cry while I went for a promenade in the evening: ‘May his reign be firm and long-lasting!’

It seems that in France several parties want a return of the monarchy. Among them there are three tendencies: one wishes for the return of the son of Napoleon III; another that of a descendant of Louis-Philippe; another that of Henri V; who belongs to the Bourbon dynasty, and who is descended from the family of Louis-Philippe, but by another branch. The advocates of a republic are equally numerous, but they too are divided in opinion: some want a red republic, that is a radical one; others want a moderate republic which would have the institutions of a monarchy, but no king; others want something else again. At the moment, governing in the middle of all these parties is very difficult and this situation may have detrimental consequences, unless all these tendencies come to an agreement, and a real monarchy or a real republic is established. Once the French state was the strongest of all, and everybody had to take it into account. Now with all these numerous divergent opinions it is difficult to preserve order within the country …

The Palace in which we reside was previously that of the Parliament, that is, the assembly of deputies of the nation. After the fall of Napoleon III and the installation of a Republic, the deputies and all the figures of State have left for Versailles and have left the city of Paris completely deprived of government administration. The city of Paris, in fact, belongs to the plebeians and the peasants. They may do as they like, the government does not have the means to oppose them. The Palace of the Tuileries, which was the most beautiful palace in the world, is now totally destroyed: the Communards set fire to it. Only the walls remain. I was very sad about it. But thank God, the Palace of Louvre, which was next to that of the Tuileries, has been preserved and has not suffered damage. The City Hall, which was a beautiful monument, and the Palace of the Legion of Honour have both been burnt to the ground. The Communards have broken down and removed the column of Vendome, which Napoleon I had built from cannon conquered from the enemy, on top of which his statue had been erected and on which scenes from all his battles had been engraved. Now nothing remains except the plinth of the column.

Paris is a very beautiful city, pretty, pleasant, generally sunny; its climate is very similar to that of Iran.

SOURCE: Other Routes: 1500 Years of African and Asian Travel Writing, edited by Tabish Khair, Martin Leer, Justin D. Edwards, and Hanna Ziadesh (Indiana U. Press, 2005), pp. 258-259

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