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James Mill, The History of British India, vol. 2 [1817]

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James Mill, The History of British India in 6 vols. (3rd edition) (London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1826). Vol. 2.

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James Mill’s History is a work of Benthamite “philosophical history” from which the reader is supposed to draw lessons about human nature, reason and religion, and the deleterious impact of commercial monopolies like the East India Company.

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Hoc autem pressè et distinctè excutiamus sermone quodam activo et masculo, nusquam digrediendo, nil amplificando.

Bacon, De Augm. Scient. Lib. ii.
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  • BOOK II. of the hindus.


  • CHAPTER VIII. The Arts .................. 1
  • CHAPTER IX. Literature .................. 44
  • CHAPTER X. General Reflections .................. 135
  • BOOK III. the mahomedans.
  • CHAPTER I. From the first Invasion of India by the Nations in the North, till the Expulsion of the Gaznevide Dynasty. ............ 7
  • CHAPTER II. From the Commencement of the first Gaurian Dynasty to that of the second Gaurian or Afghaun Dynasty. ............ 230
  • CHAPTER III. From the Commencement of the second Gaurian or Afghaun Dynasty, to the Commencement of the Mogul Dynasty ...... 249
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  • CHAPTER IV. From the Commencement to the Close of the Mogul Dynasty ...................... 283
  • CHAPTER V. A Comparison of the State of Civilization among the Mahomedan Conquerors of India with the State of Civilization among the Hindus ................... 424
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The Arts.

We come now to the arts, necessary or ornamental, BOOK II. Chap. 8 known to the Hindus. As the pleasures, to which the arts are subservient, form one of the grounds of preference between the rude and civilized condition of man, the improvement of the arts may be taken as one of the surest indications of the progress of society.

Of the Hindus, it may, first of all, be observed, that they little courted the pleasures derived from the arts, whatever skill they had attained in them. The houses, even of the great, were mean, and almost destitute of furniture;1 their food was simple and common; and their dress had no distinction Edition: current; Page: [2] BOOK II. Chap. 8.(which concerns the present purpose) beyond certain degrees of fineness in the texture.

If we desire to ascertain the arts which man would first practise, in his progress upwards from the lowest barbarism, we must inquire what are the most urgent of his wants. Unless the spontaneous productions of the soil supplied him with food, the means of ensnaring, or killing the animals fit for his use, by clubs or stones, and afterwards by his bow and arrows, would first engage his attention. How to shelter himself from the inclemency of the weather would be his second consideration; and where cavities of the earth or hollow trees supplied not his wants, the rude construction of a hut would be one of his earliest operations. A covering for his person would probably be the next of the accommodations which his feelings prompt him to provide. At first he contents himself with the skin of an animal; but it is surprising at how early a period he becomes acquainted with the means of fabricating cloth.1 Weaving, therefore, and architecture, are among the first of the complicated arts which are practised among barbarians; and experience proves that they may be carried, at a very early period of society, to a high state of perfection. It has been remarked, too, that one of the earliest propensities which springs up in the breast of a savage is a love of ornaments, of glittering trinkets, of bits of shining metals, or coloured stones, with which to decorate his person. The art, accordingly, of fetching out the brilliancy of the precious Edition: current; Page: [3] stones and metals, and fashioning them into ornamentsBOOK II.Chap. 8. for the person; the art, in fine, of jewellery, appears at an early period in the progress of a rude people.

These three, architecture, weaving, and jewellery, are the only arts for which the Hindus have been celebrated; and even these, with the exception of weaving, remained in a low state of improvement.

In a few places in Hindustan are found the remains of ancient buildings, which have attracted the attention of Europeans; and have, where there existed a predisposition to wonder and admire, been regarded as proofs of a high civilization. “The entry,” says Dr. Robertson, “to the Pagoda of Chillambrum, is by a stately gate under a pyramid 122 feet in height, built with large stones above forty feet long, and more than five feet square, and all covered with plates of copper, adorned with an immense variety of figures neatly executed. The whole structure extends 1332 feet in one direction, and 936 in another. Some of the ornamental parts are finished with an elegance entitled to the admiration of the most ingenious artists.”1 The only article of precise information which we obtain from this passage is the great size of the building. As for the vague terms of general eulogy, bestowed upon the ornaments, they are almost entirely without significance—the loose and exaggerated expressions, at second hand, of the surprise of the early travellers at meeting with an object, which they were not prepared to expect. Another structure still more remarkable than that of Chillambrum, the Pagoda of Seringham, situated in an island of the river Cavery, is thus described by Mr. Orme. “It is composed of seven square inclosures, Edition: current; Page: [4] BOOK II. Chap. within the other, the walls of which are twenty-five feet high, and four thick. These inclosures are 350 feet distant from one another, and each has four large gates with a high tower; which are placed, one in the middle of each side of the inclosure, and opposite to the four cardinal points. The outward wall is near four miles in circumference, and its gateway to the south is ornamented with pillars, several of which are single stones thirty-three feet long, and nearly five in diameter; and those which form the roof are still larger; in the inmost inclosures are the chapels.”1. In this nothing is described as worthy of regard except the magnitude of the dimensions.

The cave of Elephanta, not far from Bombay, is another work which, from its magnitude, has given birth to the supposition of high civilization among the Hindus. It is a cavity in the side of a mountain, about half way between its base and summit, of the space of nearly 120 feet square. Pieces of the rock, as is usual in mining, have been left at certain distances supporting the superincumbent matter; and the sight of the whole upon the entrance, is grand and striking. It had been applied at an early period to religious purposes, when the pillars were probably fashioned into the sort of regular form they now present, and the figures, with which great part of the inside is covered, were sculptured on the stone.2

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Antecedently to the dawn of taste, it is by magnitudeBOOK II. Chap. 8. alone that, in building, nations can exhibit Edition: current; Page: [6] BOOK II. Chap. 8.magnificence, and it is almost uniformly in honour of the gods, that this species of grandeur is first attempted. Experience alone could have made us comprehend, at how low a stage in the progress of the arts, surprising structures can be erected. The Mexicans were even ignorant of iron. They were unacquainted with the use of scaffolds and cranes. They had no beasts of burden. They were without sledges and carts. They were under the necessity of breaking their stones with flints, and polished them by rubbing one against another. Yet they accomplished works, which, in magnitude and symmetry, vie with any thing of which Hindustan has to boast. “The great temple,” says Clavigero, “occupied the centre of the city. Within the enclosure of the wall, which encompassed it in a square form, the conqueror Cortez affirms that a town of 500 houses might have stood. The wall, built of stone and lime, was very thick, eight feet high, crowned with battlements, in the form of niches, and ornamented with many stone figures in the shape of serpents. It had four gates to the four cardinal points. Over each of the four gates was an arsenal, filled with a vast quantity of offensive and defensive weapons, where the troops went, when it was necessary, to be supplied with arms. The space within the walls was curiously paved with such smooth and polished stones that the horses of the Spaniards could not move upon them without slipping and tumbling down. In the middle was raised an immense solid building of greater length than breadth, covered with square equal pieces of pavement. The building consisted of five bodies, nearly equal in height, but different in length and Edition: current; Page: [7] breadth; the highest being narrowest. The firstBOOK II. Chap. 8. body, or basis of the building, was more than fifty perches long from east to west, and about forty-three in breadth from north to south. The second body was about a perch less in length and breadth than the first; and the rest in proportion. The stairs, which were upon the south side, were made of large well-formed stones, and consisted of 114 steps, each a foot high. Upon the fifth body (the top) was a plain, which we shall call the upper area, which was about forty-three perches long, and thirty-four broad, and was as well paved as the great area below. At the eastern extremity of this plain were raised two towers to the height of fifty-six feet. These were properly the sanctuaries, where, upon an altar of stone five feet high, were placed the tutelary idols.”1 The Tlascalans, as a rampart against the Mexican troops, erected a wall, “six miles in length, between two mountains; eight feet in height, besides the breast-work; and eighteen feet in thickness.”2

Garcilasso de la Vega informs us, that “the Incas, who were kings of Peru, erected many wonderful and stately edifices; their castles, temples, and royal palaces,” says he, “their gardens, store-houses, and other fabrics, were buildings of great magnificence, as is apparent by the ruins of them. The work of greatest ostentation, and which evidences most the power and majesty of the Incas, was the fortress of Cozco, whose greatness is incredible to any who have not seen it, and such as have viewed it with great attention cannot but admire it, and believe that such a work was raised by enchantment, or the help of spirits, being that which surpasses the art Edition: current; Page: [8] BOOK II. Chap. 8.and power of man. For the stones are so many and so great which are laid in the three first rounds, being rather rocks than stones, as passes all understanding, how, and in what manner, they were hewn from the quarry, or brought from thence, for they had no instruments of iron or steel, wherewith to cut or fashion them: nor less wonderful is it to think, how they could be carried to the building; for they had neither carts nor oxen to draw them with; and if they had, the weight was so vast as no cart could bear, or oxen draw; then to think that they drew them with great ropes, over hills and dales, and difficult ways, by the mere force of men’s arms, is alike incredible; for many of them were brought ten, twelve, and fifteen leagues off.—But to proceed further in our imagination of this matter, and consider how it was possible for the people to fit and join such vast machines of stones together, and cement them so close, that the point of a knife can scarce pass between them, is a thing above all admiration, and some of them are so artificially joined, that the crevices are scarce discernible between them: Then to consider that to square and fit these stones one to the other, they were to be raised and lifted up and removed often, until they were brought to their just size and proportion; but how this was done by men who had no use of the rule and square, nor knew how to make cranes or pulleys, and cramps, and other engines, to raise and lower them as they had occasion, is beyond imagination.”1

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Whatever allowance any preconceptions of theBOOK II. Chap. 8. reader may lead him to make for exaggeration, which we may believe to be considerable, in the above descriptions, enough undoubtedly appears to prove, that no high attainments, in civilization and the arts, are implied in the accomplishment of very arduous and surprising works in architecture; and it will be allowed that such comparisons between the attainments of different nations, are the only means of forming a precise judgment of the indications of civilization which they present. The Gothic cathedrals reared in modern Europe, which remain among the most stupendous monuments of architecture in that quarter of the globe, were constructed, many of them at least, at comparatively a very low stage of civilization and science. To allude to Nineveh and Babylon, is to bring to the recollection of the historical reader, the celebrated works of architecture, in temples, walls, palaces, bridges, which distinguished those ancient cities. Yet it is demonstrated, that no high degree of improvement was attained by the people that erected them. The pyramids of Egypt, vast as their dimensions, and surprising their durability, afford intrinsic evidence of the rudeness of the period at which they were reared.1 According to Edition: current; Page: [10] BOOK II. Chap. 8.Strabo, the sepulchre of Belus, at Babylon, was a pyramid of one stadium in height. It appears to have been built of different bodies, or stages, one rising above another, exactly in the manner of the great temple at Mexico. A tower, says Herodotus, a stadium both in length and breadth, is reared at the base; and upon this is erected another tower, and again another upon that, to the number of eight towers in all.1

Sonnerat informs us, “that the architecture of the Hindus is very rude; and their structures in honour of their deities are venerable only from their magnitude.”2 “Mail-cotay,” says Dr. Buchanan, “is one of the most celebrated places of Hindu worship, both as having been honoured with the actual presence of an avatara, or incarnation of Vishnu, who founded one of the temples; and also as being one of the Edition: current; Page: [11] principal seats of the Sri Vaishnavam Brahmans, andBOOK II. Chap. 8. having possessed very large revenues. The large temple is a square building of great dimensions, and entirely surrounded by a colonade; but it is a mean piece of architecture, at least outwardly. The columns are very rude, and only about six feet high. Above the entablature, in place of a balustrade, is a clumsy mass of brick and plaster, much higher than the columns, and excavated with numerous niches, in which are huddled together many thousand images, composed of the same materials, and most rudely formed. The temple itself is alleged to be of wonderful antiquity, and to have been not only built by a god, but to be dedicated to Krishna on the very spot where that avatara performed some of his great works.”1 Of the celebrated pagodas at Congeveram, the same author remarks, that “they are great stone buildings, very clumsily executed, both in their joinings and carvings, and totally devoid of elegance or grandeur, although they are wonderfully crowded with what are meant as ornaments.”2

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BOOK II. Chap. 8. Wonderful monuments of the architecture of rude nations are almost every where to be found. Mr. Bryant, speaking of the first rude inhabitants of Sicily, the Cyclopes, who were also called Lestrygons and Lamii, says, “They erected many temples, and likewise high towers upon the sea-coast; and founded many cities. The ruins of some of them are still extant; and have been taken notice of by Fazellus, who speaks of them as exhibiting a most magnificent appearance. They consist of stones which are of great size. Fazellus, speaking of the bay, near Segesta, and of an hill which overlooked the bay, mentions wonderful ruins upon its summit, and gives an ample description of their extent and appearance.”1 The old traveller, Knox, after describing the passion of the Ceylonese, for constructing temples and monuments, of enormous magnitude, in honour of their gods, drily adds; “As if they had been born solely to hew rocks and great stones, and lay them up in heaps:”2 the unsophisticated decision of a sound understanding, on operations which the affectation of taste, and antiquarian credulity, have magnified into proofs of the highest civilization.

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Of one very necessary and important part ofBOOK II. Chap. 8. architecture, the Hindus were entirely ignorant. They knew not the construction of arches, till they first learned it from their Moslem conquerors. In the description of the superb temple at Seringham, we have already seen1 that no better expedient was known than great flat stones for the roof. “On the south branch of the river” Cavery, at Seringapatam, says Dr. Buchanan, “a bridge has been erected, which serves also as an aqueduct, to convey from the upper part of the river a large canal of water into the town and island. The rudeness of this bridge will show the small progress that the arts have made in Mysore. Square pillars of granite are cut from the rock, of a sufficient height to rise above the water at the highest floods. These are placed upright in rows, as long as the intended width of the bridge, and distant about ten feet from each other. They are secured at the bottom by being let into the solid rock, and their tops being cut to a level, a long stone is laid upon each row. Above these longitudinal stones, others are placed contiguous to each other, and stretching from row to row, in the direction of the length of the bridge.”2 The celebrated bridge over the Euphrates, at Babylon, was constructed on similar principles, and the president Goguet remarks, “that the Babylonians were not the only people who were ignorant of the art of turning an arch. This secret,” he adds, “as far as I can find, was unknown Edition: current; Page: [14] BOOK II. Chap. all the people of remote antiquity.”1Though the ancient inhabitants, however, of Persia, were ignorant of this useful and ingenious art, the modern Persians are admirably skilled in it: the roofs of the houses are almost all vaulted; and the builders are peculiarly dexterous in constructing them.2

Of the exquisite degree of perfection to which the Hindus have carried the productions of the loom, it would be idle to offer any description; as there are few objects with which the inhabitants of Europe are better acquainted. Whatever may have been the attainments, in this art, of other nations of antiquity, the Egyptians, for example, whose fine linen was so Edition: current; Page: [15] eminently prized, the manufacture of no modernBOOK II. Chap. 8. nation can, in delicacy and fineness, vie with the textures of Hindustan. It is observed at the same time, by intelligent travellers, that this is the only art which the original inhabitants of that country have carried to any considerable degree of perfection.1

To the skill of the Hindus, in this art, several causes contributed. It is one of the first to which the necessities of man conduct him;2 it is one of those which experience proves to arrive early at high perfection; and it is an art to which the circumstances of the Hindu were in a singular manner adapted. His climate and soil conspired to furnish him with the most exquisite material for his art, the finest cotton which the earth produces. It is a sedentary occupation, and thus in harmony with his predominant inclination. It requires patience, of which he has an inexhaustible fund; it requires little bodily exertion, of which he is always exceedingly sparing; and the finer the production, the more slender the force which he is called upon to apply. But this is not all. The weak and delicate frame of the Hindu is accompanied with an acuteness of external sense, particularly of touch, which is altogether unrivalled, and the flexibility of his fingers is equally remarkable. The hand of the Hindu, therefore, constitutes an organ, adapted to the Edition: current; Page: [16] BOOK II. Chap. 8.finer operations of the loom in a degree, which is almost, or altogether, peculiar to himself.1

Yet the Hindus possessed not this single art in so great a degree of perfection, compared with rude nations, as, even on that ground, to lay a foundation for very high pretensions. “In Mexico,” says Clavigero, “manufactures of various kinds of cloth were common every where; it was one of those arts which almost every person learned. Of cotton they made large webs, and as delicate and fine as those of Holland, which were with much reason highly esteemed in Europe. A few years after the conquest, a sacerdotal habit of the Mexicans was brought to Rome, which, as Boturini affirms, was uncommonly admired on account of its fineness. They wove these cloths with different figures and colours, representing different animals and flowers.”2 When the Goths first broke into the Roman empire they possessed fringed carpets and linen garments of so fine a quality as greatly surprised the Greeks and Romans, and have been thought Edition: current; Page: [17] worthy of minute description by Eunapius andBOOK II. Chap. 8. Zosimus.1 “Pliny, speaking of a carpet for covering such beds as the ancients made use of at table, says, that this piece of furniture, which was produced from the looms of Babylon, amounted to eighty-one thousand sestertia.”2 This proves the fineness to which that Edition: current; Page: [18] BOOK II. Chap. 8.species of manufacture was then wrought, and the excellence which the Babylonians, who yet could not construct an arch, had attained in the art. The Asiatic nations seem to have excelled, from the earliest ages, in the manufactures of the loom. It is by Pliny recorded, as the opinion of his age and nation, that of the art of weaving cotton Semiramis is to be revered as the inventress. The city Arachne, celebrated by the Greeks and Romans, as the place where weaving was first invented, and where it was carried to the highest perfection, is represented by Mr. Bryant as the same with Erech or Barsippa, and situated on the Euphrates, in the territory of Babylon.1 One of the accomplishments of the goddess of wisdom herself, (so early was the date) was her unrivalled excellence in the art of weaving; and Arachne, according to the poets, was a virgin, who, daring to vie with Minerva Edition: current; Page: [19] in her favourite art, was changed into a spider forBOOK II. Chap. 8. her presumption.1

That ingenuity is in its infancy among the Hindus, is shewn by the rudeness still observable in the instruments of this their favourite art. The Hindu loom with all its appurtenances, is coarse and ill-fashioned, to a degree hardly less surprising than the fineness of the commodity which it is the instrument of producing. It consists of little else than a few sticks or pieces of wood, nearly in the state in which nature produced them, connected together by the rudest contrivances. There is not so much as an expedient for rolling up the warp. It is stretched out at the full length of the web; which makes the house of the weaver insufficient to contain him. He is therefore obliged to work continually in the open air; and every return of inclement weather interrupts him.2

Among the arts of the Hindus, that of printing and dyeing their cloths has been celebrated; and the beauty and brilliancy, as well as durability, of the colours they produce, is worthy of particular praise. This has never been supposed to be one of the circumstances on which any certain inference with regard to civilization could be founded. It has been generally allowed that a great, if not the greatest part of the excellence which appears in the colours of the Hindu Edition: current; Page: [20] BOOK II. Chap. 8. cloths, is owing to the superior quality of the colouring matters, with which their happy climate and soil supply them.1 Add to this that dyeing is an early art. “It must have made,” says Goguet, “a very rapid progress in the earliest times in some countries. Moses speaks of stuffs dyed sky-blue, purple, and double-scarlet; he also speaks of the skins of sheep dyed orange and violet.”2 The purple, so highly admired by the ancients, they represented as the invention of Hercules, thus tracing back its origin even to the fabulous times. In durability it appears not that any thing could surpass the colours of the ancients. “We never,” says Goguet, “find them complain that the colour of their stuffs was subject to alter or change. Plutarch tells us, in the life of Alexander, that the conqueror found among the treasures of the kings of Persia, a prodigious quantity of purple stuffs, which, for one hundred and eighty years which they had been kept, preserved all their lustre, and all their primitive freshness. We find in Herodotus, that certain people, on the borders of the Caspian Sea, imprinted on their stuffs designs, either of animals or flowers, whose colour never changed, and lasted as long even as the wool of which their cloaths were made.”3

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We shall next consider the progress of the HindusBOOK II. Chap. 8. in agriculture, which, though the most important of all the useful arts, is not the first invented, nor the first which arrives at perfection. It is allowed on all hands that the agriculture of Hindustan is rude; but the progress of agriculture depends so much upon the laws relating to landed property, that the state of this art may continue very low, in a country where other arts are carried to a high degree of perfection.

A Hindu field, in the highest state of cultivation, is described to be only so far changed by the plough, as to afford a scanty supply of mould for covering the seed; while the useless and hurtful vegetation is so far from being eradicated, that, where burning precedes not, which for a short time smooths the surface, the grasses and shrubs, which have bid defiance to the plough, cover a large proportion of the surface.

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BOOK II. Chap. 8.Nothing can exceed the rudeness and inefficiency of the Hindu implements of agriculture. The plough consists of a few pieces of wood, put together with less adaptation to the end in view, than has been elsewhere found among some of the rudest nations. It has no contrivance for turning over the mould; and the share, having neither width nor depth, is incapable of stirring the soil. The operation of ploughing is described by the expressive term scratching. Several ploughs follow one another, all to deepen the same furrow; a second ploughing of the same sort is performed across the first; and very often a third, and a fourth, in different directions, before so much as an appearance of mould is obtained for the seed.1

The instrument employed as a harrow is described as literally a branch of a tree; in some places as a log of wood, performing the office partly of a roller, partly of a harrow; and in others as a thing resembling a ladder of about eighteen feet in length, drawn by four bullocks, and guided by two men, who stand upon the instrument to increase its weight.2 The hackery, which answers the purpose of cart or waggon, is a vehicle with two wheels, which are not three feet in diameter, and are not unfrequently solid pieces of wood, with only a hole in the middle for the axle tree. The body of the machine is composed of two bamboos, meeting together at an angle between the necks of the two bullocks, by which the vehicle is drawn, and united by a few crossing bars of the same useful material. It is supported at the angle by a bar which passes over the necks of the two animals; Edition: current; Page: [23] and cruelly galls them. To lessen the friction betweenBOOK II. Chap. 8. the wheel and axis, and save either his wretched cattle, or his own ears, the simple expedient of greasing his wheels, never suggested itself to the mind of a ryot of Hindustan.1 Even this wretched vehicle can seldom be employed for the purposes of husbandry, from the almost total want of roads. It is in back loads that the carriage of almost all the commodities of the country is performed; and in many places the manure is conveyed to the fields in baskets on the backs of the women.2

Every thing which savours of ingenuity; even the most natural results of common observation and good sense, are foreign to the agriculture of the Hindus. The advantages arising from the observation of the fittest season for sowing are almost entirely neglected. No attention was ever paid in Hindustan to the varieties of the grains; so as to select the best seed, or that fittest for particular situations. For restoring Edition: current; Page: [24] BOOK II. Chap. 8.fruitfulness to a field that is exhausted, no other expedient is known, than suspending its cultivation; when the weeds, with which it is always plentifully stored, usurp undivided dominion. Any such refinement as a fallow, or a rotation of crops, is far beyond the reach of a Hindu. The most irrational practice that ever found existence in the agriculture of any nation, is general in India, that of sowing various species of seeds, mustard, flax, barley, wheat, millet, maize, and many others, which ripen at different intervals, all indiscriminately on the same spot. As soon as the earliest of the crops is mature, the reapers are sent into the field, who pick out the stalks of the plant which is ripe, and tread down the rest with their feet. This operation is repeated as each part of the product arrives at maturity, till the whole is separated from the ground.

Though, during the dry season, there is an almost total failure of vegetables for the support of cattle; of which every year many are lost by famine, and the remainder reduced to the most deplorable state of emaciation and weakness; none but the most imperfect means were ever imagined by the Hindu of saving part of the produce of the prolific season, to supply the wants of the barren one. Hay is a commodity which it would not always be convenient to make; but various kinds of pulse and millet might be produced at all seasons, and would afford the most important relief to the cattle when the pasture grounds are bare. The horses themselves are often preserved alive by the grooms picking up the roots of the grass with a knife from the ditches and tanks.1

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The only circumstance to captivate the fancy ofBOOK II. Chap. 8. those Europeans, who were on the look-out for subjects of praise, was the contrivance for irrigation. Reservoirs or excavations, known in India by the name of tanks, were so contrived as to collect a large body of water in the rainy season, whence it was drawn off in the season of drought for the refreshment of the fields. These tanks appear to have been at all times a principal concern of the government; and when it is considered that almost the whole revenue of the sovereign depended in each year upon the produce of the soil, and that the decay of the tanks ensured the decay of revenue, it is no wonder that of such care and wisdom as the government any where displayed, a large portion should appear to Edition: current; Page: [26] BOOK II. Chap. 8.have been bestowed upon the tanks. In certain places much care and labour have been employed. But those authors were strangely mistaken who looked upon this as a proof of refined agriculture and great civilization. It is only in a small number of instances, where the whole power of an extensive government, and that almost always Mahomedan, had been applied to the works of irrigation, that they are found on a considerable scale, or in any but the rudest state. In a country in which, without artificial watering, the crops would always be lost, the ingenuity of sinking a hole in the ground, to reserve a supply of water, need not be considered as great.1

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To separate the grain from the straw, the ancientBOOK II. Chap. 8. method of treading with oxen has, in Hindustan, given way to no improvement; and for the most part the corn is still ground in handmills by the women.1

Of the arts which at an early stage of society acquire the greatest excellence, one, as we have already observed, is that of preparing brilliant trinkets for the ornament of the person. The Hindus cut the precious stones, polish them to a high degree of brilliancy, Edition: current; Page: [28] BOOK II. Chap. 8.and set them neatly in gold and silver. It remains to be ascertained how much of civilization this faculty implies. So early as the time of Moses, the art of forming jewels had attained great perfection among the Jews. In the ephod of Aaron, and in the breast-plate of judgment, were precious stones set in gold, with the names of the twelve tribes engraved on them. The account of these jewels in the book of Exodus, suggests ideas of considerable magnificence.1 Clavigero informs us, that the ancient Mexicans “set gems in gold and silver, and made most curious jewellery of great value. In short,” says that author, “these sorts of works were so admirably finished, that even the Spanish soldiers all stung as they were with the same wretched thirst for gold, valued the workmanship above the materials.”2

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When Europeans have compared the extreme imperfectionBOOK II. Chap. 8., the scantiness and rudeness of the tools by which the Hindu artist performs his task, with the neatness and in some cases the celerity of the execution, they have frequently drawn an inference, the very reverse of that which the circumstances implied. This sort of faculty is no mark of high civilization. A dexterity in the use of its own imperfect tools is a common attribute of a rude society.

Acosta, speaking of some remarkable instances of this species of talent in the natives of Mexico and Peru, says, “Hereby we may judge, if they have any understanding, or be brutish; for my part, I think they pass us in those things whereunto they apply themselves.”1 Mr. Forster himself, whose admiration was excited by the dexterity of the Hindus, affords an instance in the rude person of a Russian peasant, which might have suggested to him an appropriate conclusion. “At the distance,” says he, “of a few miles from Choperskoy, the driver of the carriage alarmed me by a report of the hinder axle being shattered; an accident which gave me an opportunity Edition: current; Page: [30] BOOK II. Chap. 8.of observing the dexterity of a Russian carpenter in the use of the axe. Without the help of any other tool, except a narrow chisel, to cut a space in the centre of it for receiving an iron bar which supports the axle, and to pierce holes for the linch pins, he reduced in two hours a piece of gross timber to the requisite form, and his charge was one shilling.”1

But while dexterity in the use of imperfect tools is not a proof of civilization; a great want of ingenuity and completeness in instruments and machinery Edition: current; Page: [31] is a strong indication of the reverse; nor would itBOOK II. Chap. 8. be easy to point out any single circumstance, which may be taken as a better index of the degree in which the benefits of civilization are any where enjoyed than the state of the tools and machinery of the artists. All European visitors have been vehemently struck with the rudeness of the tools, and machinery used by the people of Hindustan.1 Sonnerat, one of those travellers who have surveyed the state of the arts in that country, with the greatest attention and the most enlightened eyes, informs us, that with his hands, and two or three tools, the Hindu artisan has to perform that kind of task about which with us a hundred tools would be employed.2 “When the rudeness of the tools,” says Mr. Forster, “with the simplicity of the process, is examined, the degree of delicacy which the artizans have acquired in their several professions must challenge a high admiration.”3 Fryer, speaking of the mode in which coral is cut, says, “The tools of the workmen were more to be wondered at than his art; his hands and feet Edition: current; Page: [32] BOOK II. Chap. 8.being all the vice, and the other tools unshapen bits of iron.”1

In the mode in which the Hindu artisans, of almost all descriptions, performed their work, is observed a circumstance, generally found among a rude people, and no where else. The carpenter, the blacksmith, the brazier, even the goldsmith and jeweller, not to speak of others, produce not their manufacture, as in a refined state of the arts, in houses and workshops of their own, where the accommodations requisite for them can best be combined: they repair for each job, with their little budget of tools, to the house of the man who employs them, and there perform the service for which they are called.2

With regard to the fine arts, a short sketch will suffice. Hardly by any panegyrist is it pretended Edition: current; Page: [33] that the sculpture, the painting, the music of theBOOK II. Chap. 8. Hindus are in a state beyond that in which they appear in early stages of society. The merely mechanical part, that for which the principal requisites are time and patience, the natural produce of rude ages when labour is of little value, is often executed with great neatness; and surprises by the idea of the difficulty overcome. In the province of genius and taste, nothing but indications of rudeness appear. The productions are not merely void of attraction: they are unnatural, offensive, and not unfrequently disgusting. “The Hindus of this day,” says Mr. Foster, “have a slender knowledge of the rules of proportion, and none of perspective. They are just imitators, and correct workmen, but they possess merely the glimmerings of genius.”1 “The style and taste of the Indians,” says Paulini, “are indeed extremely wretched; but they possess a wonderful aptitude for imitating the arts and inventions of the Europeans, as soon as the method has been pointed out to them.”2 Major Rennel himself informs us, that the imitative or fine arts were not carried to the height even of the Egyptians, much less of the Greeks and Romans, by the Hindus; that like the Chinese they made great progress in some of the useful arts, but scarcely any in those of taste.3

“In India,” says Sonnerat, “as well as among all the people of the East, the arts have made little or no progress. All the statues we see in their temples are badly designed and worse executed.”4 We have the testimony of Mr. Hodges, which to this point at least is a high testimony, that the sculpture in the Edition: current; Page: [34] BOOK II. Chap. 8.pagodas of Hindustan is all very rude.1 In the description of a temple of Siva, at Hullybedu in Mysore, Dr. Buchanan says, “Its walls contain a very ample delineation of Hindu mythology; which, in the representation of human or animal forms, is as destitute of elegance as usual; but some of the foliages possess great neatness. It much exceeds any Hindu building that I have seen elsewhere.”2

Whatever exaggeration we may suppose in the accounts which the historians of Mexico and Peru have given us of the works of sculpture in the new world, the description of them will not permit us to conclude that they were many degrees inferior to the productions of Hindustan. Clavigero says, “The Mexicans were more successful in sculpture than in painting. They learned to express in their statues all the attitudes and postures of which the human body is capable; they observed the proportions exactly; and could, when necessary, execute the most delicate and minute strokes with the chisel. The works which they executed by casting of metals were in still more esteem. The miracles they produced of this kind would not be credible, if, besides the testimony of those who saw them, curiosities in numbers Edition: current; Page: [35] of this nature, had not been sent from Mexico toBOOK II. Chap. 8. Europe.”1

The progress was similar, as we might presume, in the sister art of painting. The Hindus copy with great exactness, even from nature. By consequence they draw portraits, both of individuals and of groups, with a minute likeness; but peculiarly devoid of grace and expression. Their inability to exhibit the simplest creations of the fancy, is strongly expressed by Dr. Tennant, who says, “The laborious exactness with which they imitate every feather of a bird, or the smallest fibre on the leaf of a plant, renders them valuable assistants in drawing specimens of natural history; but farther than this they cannot advance one step. If your bird is to be placed on a rock, or upon the branch of a tree, the draughtsman is at a stand; the object is not before him; and his imagination can supply nothing.”2 In one remarkable circumstance their painting resembles that of all Edition: current; Page: [36] BOOK II. Chap. 8.other nations who have made but a small progress in the arts. They are entirely without a knowledge of perspective, and by consequence of all those finer and nobler parts of the art of painting, which have perspective for their requisite basis.1

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It is anomalous and somewhat surprising that theBOOK II. Chap. 8. music of the Hindus should be so devoid of all excellence. As music is, in its origin, the imitation of the tones of passion; and is most naturally employed for the expression of passion, in rude ages, when the power of expressing it by articulate language is the most imperfect; simple melodies, and these often highly expressive and affecting, are natural to uncultivated tribes. It was in the earliest stage of civilization, that Orpheus is fabled to have possessed the power of working miracles by his lyre. Yet all Europeans, even those who are the most disposed to eulogize the attainments of the Hindus, unite in describing the music of that people, as unpleasing, and void both of expression and art. Dr. Tennant, who founds his testimony both on his own, and other people’s observation, says: “If we are to judge merely from the number of instruments, and the frequency with which they apply them, the Hindoos might be regarded as considerable proficients in music, yet has the testimony of all strangers deemed it equally imperfect as the other arts. Their warlike instruments are rude, noisy, and inartificial: and in Edition: current; Page: [38] BOOK II. Chap. 8.temples, those employed for the purposes of religion are managed apparently on the same principle; for, in their idea, the most pleasant and harmonious is that which make the loudest noise.”1 After a description of the extreme rudeness of the instruments of music of the people of Sumbhulpoor, Mr. Motte says, “the Rajah’s band always put me in mind of a number of children coming from a country fair.”2

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As the talent of the Hindus for accurate imitation,BOOK II. Chap. 8. both in the manual and in some of the refined arts, has excited much attention; and been sometimes regarded, as no mean proof of ingenuity and mental culture, it is necessary to remark, that there are few things by which the rude state of society is more uniformly characterized. It is in reality the natural precursor of the age of invention; and disappears, or at least ceases to make a conspicuous figure, when the nobler faculty of creation comes into play. Garcilasso de la Vega, who quotes Blas Valera, in his support, tells us that the Peruvian Indians, “if they do but see a thing, will imitate it so exactly, without being taught, that they become better artists and mechanics than the Spaniards themselves.”1

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BOOK II. Chap. 8.Sir William Jones, in pompous terms, remarks: “The Hindus are said to have boasted of three inventions, all of which indeed are admirable; the method of instructing by apologues; the decimal scale; and the game of chess, on which they have some curious treatises.”1 As the game of chess is a species of art, the account of it seems to belong to this place; and as it has been rated high among the proofs of the supposed civilization of the Hindus, we must see what it really imports. Though there is no evidence that the Hindus invented the game, except their own pretensions, which as evidence are of very little value, it is by no means improbable. The invention of ingenious games is a feat most commonly displayed by nations in their rude condition. It is prior to the birth of industry, that men have the strongest need for games, to relieve them from the pain of idleness: at that period they are most addicted to gaming; bestow upon it the greatest portion of time; and most intensely fix upon it all their faculties. It is, in fact, the natural occupation and resource of a rude mind, whenever destitute of the Edition: current; Page: [41] motives to industry. The valuable and intelligentBOOK II. Chap. 8. historian of Chili observes of a tribe, but a few removes from the savage state; “If what the celebrated Leibnitz asserts is true, that men have never discovered greater talents than in the invention of the different kinds of games, the Araucanians may justly claim the merit of not being in this respect inferior to other nations. Their games are very numerous, and for the most part very ingenious; they are divided into the sedentary and gymnastic. It is a curious fact, and worthy of notice, that among the first is the game of chess, which they call comican, and which has been known to them from time immemorial. The game of quechu, which they esteem highly, has a great affinity to that of backgammon, but instead of dice they make use of triangular pieces of bone marked with points, which they throw with a little hoop or circle, supported by two pegs.”1

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BOOK II. Chap. 8.Though the Hindus knew the art of making a species of rude glass, which was manufactured into trinkets and ornaments for the women, they had never possessed sufficient ingenuity to apply it to the many useful purposes to which it is so admirably adapted. In few climates is glass in windows more conducive to comfort than that of Hindustan; yet the Hindus had never learnt to afford this accommodation to themselves. Of its adaptation to optical purposes they were so ignorant, that they were astonished and confounded at the effects of a common spy-glass. They are unable to construct furnaces sufficiently powerful to melt either European glass, or cast iron.1

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In almost every manufacture, and certainly as aBOOK II. Chap. 8. manufacturing people in general, the Hindus are inferior to the Chinese. Yet Sir William Jones says of that latter people; “Their mechanical arts have nothing in them characteristic of a particular family; nothing which any set of men, in a country so highly favoured by nature, might not have discovered and improved.”1 The partialities, which it was so much his nature to feel, prevented him from perceiving how much less entitled to any kind of admiration were the arts of another people, whom he had adopted it as a business to eulogize.

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BOOK II. Chap. 9.AS the knowledge of what conduces to the augmentation of human enjoyment and the diminution of human misery, is the foundation of all improvement in the condition of human life; and as literature, if not synonymous with that knowledge, is its best friend and its inseparable companion, the literature of any people is one of the sources from which the surest inferences may be drawn with respect to their civilization.

The first literature is poetry. Poetry is the language of the passions, and men feel, before they speculate. The earliest poetry is the expression of the feelings, by which the minds of rude men are the most powerfully actuated. Before the invention of writing, men are directed also to the use of versification by the aid which it affords to the memory. As every thing of which the recollection is valuable must be handed down by tradition, whatever tends to make the tradition accurate is of corresponding importance. No contrivance to this end is comparable to verse; which preserves the ideas, by preserving the very words. In verse not only the few historical facts are preserved, to which the curiosity of a rude age attaches itself, but in verse are promulgated the maxims of religion, and the ordinances of law. Even after the noble art of writing is known, the habit of consigning to verse Edition: current; Page: [45] every idea, destined for permanency, continues, till certainBOOK II. Chap. 8. new steps are effected in the intellectual career.1

At this first stage the literature of the Hindus has always remained. The habit of expressing every thing in verse; a habit which urgent necessity imposes upon a people unacquainted with the use of permanent signs, and which the power of custom upholds, till after a certain progress in improvement, even among those to whom permanent signs are known; we trace among the Hindus to the present day. All their compositions, with wonderfully few exceptions, are in verse. For history they have only certain narrative poems, which depart from all resemblance to truth and nature; and have evidently no farther connexion with fact than the use of certain names and a few remote allusions. Their laws, like those of rude nations in general, are in verse. Their sacred books, and even their books of science, are in verse; and what is more wonderful still, their very dictionaries.2

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BOOK II. Chap. 9.There is scarcely any point connected with the state of Hindu society, on which the spirit of exaggeration and enthusiasm has more signally displayed itself than the poetry of the Hindus. Among those whose disposition was more to admire than explore, scarcely any poetry has been regarded as presenting higher claims to admiration. Among the Hindus there are two great poems, the Ramayan, and the Mahabarat, which are long narratives, or rather miscellanies, in verse, and which their admirers have been puzzled whether to denominate histories, or epic poems. By the Hindus themselves, they are moreover regarded as books of religion; nay farther, as books of law; and in the Digest which the Brahmens, under the authority of the British government, have recently compiled, the text of these poems is inserted as text of the law, in the same manner as the text of any other legal authority and standard. They may even be regarded as books of philosophy; and accordingly the part of the Mahabarat, with the translation of which Mr. Wilkins has favoured us, he actually presents to his reader as one of the most instructive specimens of the philosophical speculations of the country.

It is incompatible with the present purpose to speak of these poems in more than general terms. They describe a series of actions in which a number of men and gods are jointly engaged. These fictions are not only more extravagant, and unnatural, less correspondent with the physical and moral laws of Edition: current; Page: [47] the universe, but are less ingenious, more monstrous,BOOK II. Chap. 9. and have less of any thing that can engage the affection, awaken sympathy, or excite admiration, reverence, or terror, than the poems of any other, even the rudest people with whom our knowledge of the globe has yet brought us acquainted.1They are excessively prolix and insipid. They are often, through long passages, trifling and childish to a degree, which those acquainted with only European poetry can hardly conceive. Of the style in which they are composed it is far from too much to say, that all the vices which characterise the style of rude nations, and particularly those of Asia, they exhibit in perfection. Inflation; metaphors perpetual, and these the most violent and strained, often the most unnatural and ridiculous; obscurity; tautology; repetition; verbosity; confusion; incoherence; distinguish the Mahabarat and Ramayan. That amid the numberless Edition: current; Page: [48] BOOK II. Chap. 9.effusions, which a wild imagination throws forth, in its loose and thoughtless career, there should now and then be something which approaches the confines of reason and taste, is so far from surprising, that it would be truly surprising if there were not. A happy description, or here and there the vivid conception of a striking circumstance, are not sufficient; the exact observation of nature, and the symmetry of a whole, are necessary, to designate the poetry of a cultivated people.

Of the poems in dialogue, or in the dramatic form, Sacontala has been selected as the most favourable specimen. The author, Calidas, though he left only two dramatic pieces, Sir William Jones denominates the Shakspeare of India, and tell us that he stands next in reputation to their great historic poets, Valmic and Vyasa.

Sacontala was the daughter of a pious king, named Causica, and of a goddess of the lower heaven; brought up by a devout hermit, as his daughter, in a consecrated grove. The sovereign of the district, on a hunting excursion, arrives by accident in the forest. He observes Sacontala, and her two companions, the daughters of the hermit, in the grove, with watering pots in their hands, watering their plants. Instantly he is captivated. He enters into conversation with the damsels, and the heart of Sacontala is secretly inflamed. The king dismisses his attendants, and resolves to remain in the forest. In a little time the quality of the lover is ascertained, while the secret agitation in the bosom of Sacontala throws her into a languor which resembles disease. The king overhears a conversation between her and her companions, in which, being closely interrogated, she confesses her love. The king immediately discovers himself, and declares his passion. The two friends Edition: current; Page: [49] contrive to leave them together, and they consummateBOOK II. Chap. 9. “that kind of marriage which two lovers contract from the desire of amorous embraces.” So precipitate a conclusion, irreconcileable as it is with the notions of a refined people, is one of the numerous marriages legal among the Hindus. Presently, however, the king is summoned to his court. He promises to send for his wife in three days, and leaves a ring. In the mean time a Brahmen, of a proud and choleric temper, comes to the residence of the hermit, when his two daughters are at a little distance, and Sacontala has been overtaken with sleep. Finding no one to receive him with the expected honours, he utters an imprecation: “He on whom thou art meditating, on whom alone thy heart is now fixed, while thou neglectest a pure gem of devotion who demands hospitality, shall forget thee when thou seest him next, as a man restored to sobriety forgets the words which he uttered in a state of intoxication.” This malediction, which falls upon Sacontala, is overheard by her companions, and fills them with horror. They hasten to appease the angry Brahmen; who tells them, his words cannot be recalled, but that the spell would be dissolved when the lord of Sacontala should look upon his ring. Her two friends agree to conceal the calamity from Sacontala, who now languishes at the neglect of her husband, and finds herself pregnant. The hermit Canna, who at the time of the visit of the king was absent from home, returns, and is, by a voice from heaven, made acquainted with the events which have intervened. Encouraged by good omens, he soothes Sacontala, and resolves to send her to her lord. Her friends instruct her, should he not immediately recognise her, to show him the ring. Arrived at the palace, she is disowned by the king; thinks of the ring, but Edition: current; Page: [50] BOOK II. Chap. 9.discovers it is lost. The king treats her, and the messengers who brought her, as impostors; and orders them into custody; but while they are conveying her away, a body of light, descending in a female shape, receives her into its bosom, and disappears; upon which the king regards the whole as a piece of sorcery, and dismisses it from his thoughts. After a time, however, the ring is found, and conveyed to the king; when his wife, and all the connected circumstances, immediately rush upon his mind. He is then plunged into affliction; ignorant where Sacontala may be found. In this despondency, he is summoned by Indra, the god of the firmament, to aid him against a race of giants, whom Indra is unable to subdue. Having ascended to the celestial regions, and acquitted himself gloriously in the divine service, he is conveyed, in his descent to the earth, to the mountain Hemacuta, “where Casyapa, father of the immortals, and Aditi his consort, reside in blessed retirement.” To this sacred spot had Sacontala, by her mother’s influence, been conveyed; and there she had brought forth her son, a wonderful infant, whom his father found at play with a lion’s whelp, and making the powerful animal feel the superiority of his strength. The king now recognizes his wife and his son, of whom the most remarkable things are portended; and perfect happiness succeeds.

There is surely nothing in the invention of this story, which is above the powers of the imagination, in an uncultivated age. With the scenery and the manners which the Hindu poet has perpetually present to his observation, and the mythology which perpetually reigns in his thoughts, the incidents are among the most obvious, and the most easy to be imagined, which it was possible for him to Edition: current; Page: [51] choose. Two persons of celestial beauty and accomplishmentsBOOK II. Chap. 9. meet together in a solitary place, and fall mutually in love: To the invention of this scene but little ingenuity can be supposed to be requisite. To create an interest in this love, it was necessary it should be crossed. Surely no contrivance for such a purpose was ever less entitled to admiration than the curse of a Brahmen. A ring with power to dissolve the charm, and that ring at the moment of necessity lost, are contrivances to bring about a great event, which not only display the rudeness of an ignorant age, but have been literally, or almost literally, repeated, innumerable times, in the fables of other uncultivated nations. To overcome the difficulties, which the interest of the plot rendered it necessary to raise, by carrying a man to heaven to conquer giants for a god, for whom the god was not a match, is an expedient which requires neither art nor invention; and which could never be endured, where judgment and taste have received any considerable cultivation.

The poem, indeed, has some beautiful passages. The courtship, between Sacontala and Dushmantu, is delicate and interesting; and the workings of the passion in two amiable minds are naturally and vividly pourtrayed. The friendship which exists between the three youthful maidens is tender and delightful; and the scene which takes place when Sacontala is about to leave the peaceful hermitage where she had happily spent her youth; her expressions of tenderness to her friends, her affectionate parting with the domestic animals she had tended, and even with the flowers and trees in which she had delighted, breathe more than pastoral sweetness. These, however, are precisely the ideas and affections, wherever the scene is a peaceful one, which may naturally arise Edition: current; Page: [52] BOOK II. Chap. the simplest state of society; as the fables of the golden age and of Arcadia abundantly testify: and in whatever constitutes the beauty of these scenes they are rivalled by the Song of Solomon, which is avowedly the production of a simple and unpolished age.1 Beyond these few passages, there is nothing in Sacontala, which either accords with the understanding, or can gratify the fancy, of an instructed people.

Sir William Jones, who, on the subject of a supposed ancient state of high civilization, riches, and happiness among the Hindus, takes every thing for granted, not only without proof, but in opposition to almost every thing, saving the assumptions of the Brahmens, which could lead him to a different conclusion, says, “The dramatic species of entertainment must have been carried to great perfection, when Vicramaditya, who reigned in the first century before Christ, gave encouragement to poets, philologers, and mathematicians, at a time when the Britons were as unlettered and unpolished as the army of Hanumat.”2 Sir William forgets that, more than a century before Christ, the Britons had their Druids; between whom and the Brahmens, in character, doctrines, and acquirements, a remarkable similarity has been traced.3

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The mere existence, however, of dramatic entertainmentsBOOK II. Chap. 9. has been held forth, in the case of the Hindus, as proof of a high state of civilization; and Sir William Jones, whose imagination on the accomplishments of the orientals delighted to gild, thinks the representation of Sacontala must have been something pre-eminently glorious; as the scenery must have been striking; and “as there is good reason,” he says, “to believe, that the court at Avanti was equal in brilliancy, in the reign of Vicramaditya, to that of any monarch in any age or country.”1 To how great a degree this latter supposition is erroneous, we shall presently see. In the mean time, it is proper to remark, that nations may be acquainted with dramatic entertainments, who have made but little progress in knowledge and civilization. In extent of dominion, power, and every thing on which the splendour of a court depends, it will not, probably, be alleged, that any Hindu sovereign ever surpassed the present emperors of China. The Chinese, too, are excessively fond of dramatic performances; and they excel in poetry as well as the Hindus; yet our British ambassador and his retinue found their dramatic representations very rude and dull entertainments.2

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BOOK II. Chap. 9.As poetry is the first cultivated of all the branches of literature, there is at least one remarkable instance, that of Homer, to prove, that in a rude state of society it may acquire extraordinary perfection. At a point of civilization lower than that which we ascribe to the Hindus, poetry has been produced more excellent than theirs. From the effects produced by the poetic declamations of the Druids, it is certain that they must have possessed the faculty of working powerfully on the imaginations and sympathies of their audience. The Celtic poetry, ascribed to Ossian, and other bards, which, whatever age, more recent or more remote, controversy may assign for its date, is, beyond a doubt, the production of a people whose ideas were extremely scanty, and their manners rude, surpasses in every point of excellence, the sterile extravagance of the Hindus. In so rude a state of society as that which existed in Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, at the time of our Anglo-Saxon monarchies, the number of poets, Edition: current; Page: [55] and the power of their compositions, were exceedinglyBOOK II. Chap. 9. great.1

Even in that figurative and inflated style, which has been supposed a mark of oriental composition, and is, in reality, a mark only of a low stage of society, uniformly discovered in the language of a rude people, the poetry of the northern bards exhibits a resemblance Edition: current; Page: [56] BOOK II. Chap. that of the Hindus, the Fersians, Arabians, and other eastern nations. “The style of these ancient poems,” says Mallet, “is very enigmatical and figurative, very remote from common language; and for that reason, grand, but tumid; sublime, but obscure. If every thing should be expresssed by imagery, figures, hyperboles, and allegories, the Scandinavians may rank in the highest class of poets.”1 For these peculiarities, too, this author philosophically accounts. “The soaring flights of fancy, may possibly more peculiarly belong to a rude and uncultivated, than to a civilized people. The great objects of nature strike more forcibly on their imaginations. Their passions Edition: current; Page: [57] are not impaired by the constraint of laws and education.BOOK II. Chap. 9. The paucity of their ideas, and the barrenness of their language, oblige them to borrow from all nature images in which to clothe their conceptions.”1The poetry of the Persians resembles that of the Arabians; both resemble that of the Hindus; both have been celebrated in still higher strains, and are entitled to more of our admiration. The Persians have their great historic poem, the Shah Namu, corresponding to the Mahabarat or Ramayan of the Hindus. It embraces a period of 3,700 years, and consists of 60,000 rhymed couplets. On this poem the most lofty epithets of praise have been bestowed; and a part of it, embracing a period of 300 years, Sir William Jones selects as itself a whole; a poem truly epic, of which the merit hardly yields to that of the Iliad itself.2 We shall speak of it in the language of an oriental scholar, who has made the literature of Persia more peculiarly his study than Sir William Jones. The Shah Namu, says Mr. Scott Waring, “has probably been praised as much for its length as its intrinsic merit. When we allow it is unequalled in the East, Edition: current; Page: [58] BOOK II. Chap. 9.we must pause before we pronounce it to be equal, or to approach very nearly, to the divinest poem of the West. The stories in the Shah Namu,” he says, “are intricate and perplexed, and as they have a relation to each other, they can only be understood by a knowledge of the whole. Episodes are interwoven in episodes; peace and war succeed each other; and centuries pass away without making any alteration in the conduct of the poem—the same prince continues to resist the Persian arms; the same hero leads them to glory—and the subterfuge of supposing two Afrasiabs or two Roostums, betrays, at least, the intricacy and confusion of the whole fable. The character of Nestor answered the most important ends, his eloquence and experience had a wonderful effect in soothing the contentions of a divided council; but the age of Zal or of Roostum answers no purpose, for they only share longevity in common with their fellow creatures.” In many instances, he adds, “the poet is tedious and uninteresting. He is often too minute; and by making his description particular makes it ridiculous. An example of this may be given in his description of the son of Ukwan Deo; which instead of expressing his immense size by some bold figure, gives us his exact measure: He was one hundred yards high and twenty broad.”1 With respect to the style of this as well as of other Persian poets, the same author informs us, that “the style of the most admired Persian authors is verbose and turgid; the mind is filled with words and epithets, and you probably meet with several quibbles and monstrous images before you arrive at one fact.”2 And in another Edition: current; Page: [59] passage he says, “The Persian poets, in all theirBOOK II. Chap. 9. similes or comparisons, fall infinitely below medioority.”1

As soon as reason begins to have considerable influence in the direction of human affairs, no use of letters is deemed more important than that of preserving an accurate record of those events and actions by which the interests of the nation have been promoted or impaired. But the human mind must have a certain degree of culture, before the value of such a Edition: current; Page: [60] BOOK II. Chap. is perceived. The actions of his nation, or of his countrymen, which the rude and untutored barbarian is excited to remember, are those which he wonders at and admires; and they are remembered solely for the pleasure of those emotions. Exaggeration, therefore, is more fitted to his desires than exactness; and poetry than history. Swelled by fiction, and set off with the embellishments of fancy, the scene lays hold of his imagination, and kindles his passions. All rude nations, even those to whom the use of letters has long been familiar, neglect history, and are gratified with the productions of the mythologists and poets.

It is allowed on all hands that no historical composition existed in the literature of the Hindus; they had not reached that point of intellectual maturity, at which the value of a record of the past for the guidance of the future begins to be understood. “The Hindus,” says that zealous and industrious Sanscrit scholar, Mr. Wilford, “have no ancient civil history.” Remarking a coincidence in this characteristic circumstance between them and another ancient people, he adds, “Nor had the Egyptians any work purely historical.”1 Major Rennel says, that, founded on Hindu materials, there is no known history of Hindustan, nor any record of the historical events of that country prior to the Mahomedan conquests;2 and since that period, it is not to Hindu, but Mahomedan pens that we are indebted for all our knowledge of the Mahomedan conquests, and of the events which preceded the passage to India, by the Cape of Good Hope.3 An inclination at first appeared among Edition: current; Page: [61] the warm admirers of Sanscrit to regard the poemsBOOK II. Chap. 9. Mahabharat and Ramayan, as a sort of historical records. A more intimate acquaintance with those Edition: current; Page: [62] BOOK II. Chap. 9.grotesque productions has demonstrated the impossibility of reconciling them with the order of human affairs, and, as the only expedient to soften the deformities in which they abound, suggested a theory that they are allegorical.1

The ancient Persians, who used the Pehlivi language, appear in this respect to have resembled the Hindus. “I never,” says Sir John Malcolm, “have been able to hear of the existence of any work in the ancient Pehlivi that could be deemed historical.”2

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The modern Persians, in this, as in many otherBOOK II. Chap. 9. respects, are found to have made some progress beyond the ancient Persians, and beyond the Hindus. The first step towards the attainment of perfect history is the production of prose compositions, expressly destined to exhibit a record of real transactions, but in which imagination prevails over exactness, and a series of transactions appears in which the lines of reality can but faintly be traced. With histories of this description the Persians abound; but “the Persians,” says Mr. Scott Waring, “do not make a study of history; consequently their histories abound with idle tales, and extravagant fables.”2 Another celebrated Persian scholar says; “The Persians, like other people, have assumed the privilege of romancing on the early periods of society. The first dynasty is, in consequence, embarrassed by fabling. Their most ancient princes are chiefly celebrated for their victories over the demons or genii called dives; and some have reigns assigned to them of eight hundred or a thousand years.”2 On the comparison of the Grecian and native histories of Persia, he says, “There seems to be nearly as much resemblance between the annals of England and Japan, as between the European and Asiatic relations of the same empire.” The names and numbers of the kings, as exhibited by the historians of the two countries, have no analogy. No mention in the Persian annals is made of the Great Cyrus, nor of any King of Persia, the events of whose reign can, by any construction, be tortured into a similitude with his. No trace is to be found of Crœsus, of Cambyses, or of his expedition against the Ethiopians; none of Smerdis Magus, or of Edition: current; Page: [64] BOOK II. Chap. 9.Darius Hystaspes: “not a vestige of the famous battles of Marathon, Thermopylæ, Salamis, Platæa, or Mycale, nor of the mighty expedition of Xerxes.”1

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On the geography and chronology, as parts of theBOOK II. Chap. 9. literature of the Hindus, I shall express myself in the language of Mr. Wilford. “The Hindus,” says that celebrated Hindu scholar, “have no regular work on the subject of geography, or none at least that ever came to my knowledge.—I was under a necessity of extracting my materials from their historical poems, or, as they may be called more properly, their legendary tales.” In another place he says, “The Hindu systems of geography, chronology, and history, are all equally monstrous and absurd. The circumference of the earth is said to be 500,000,000 yojanas, or 2,456,000,000 British miles: the mountains are asserted to be 100 yojanas, or 491 British miles high. Hence the mountains to the south of Benares are said, in the Puranas, to have kept the holy city in total darkness, till Matra-deva growing angry at their insolence, they humbled themselves to the ground, and their highest peak now is not more than 500 feet high. In Europe, similar notions once prevailed; for we are told that the Cimmerians were kept in continual darkness by the interposition of immensely high mountains. In the Calica Purana, it is said that the mountains have sunk considerably, so that the highest is not above one yojana, or five miles high.—When the Puranics speak of the kings Edition: current; Page: [66] BOOK II. Chap. 9.of ancient times, they are equally extravagant. According to them, King Yudhishthir reigned 27,000 years; King Nanda is said to have possessed in his treasury above 1,584,000,000 pounds sterling in gold coin alone; the value of the silver and copper coin, and jewels, exceeded all calculation: and his army consisted of 100,000,000 men. These accounts, geographical, chronological, and historical, as absurd and inconsistent with reason, must be rejected. This monstrous system seems to derive its origin from the ancient period of 12,000 natural years, which was admitted by the Persians, the Etruscans, and, I believe, also by the Celtic tribes; for we read of a learned nation in Spain, which boasted of having written histories of above six thousand years.”1

It is an error to suppose, that for the origin of unprofitable speculations respecting the nature and properties of thought, great progress in civilization is required. The fears and hopes, the conceptions and speculations, respecting the Divine Nature, and respecting a future state of existence, lead to inquiries concerning the invisible operations of the mind. If we consult but history, we shall be led to conclude, that certain curious, and subtle, but idle questions, respecting the mental operations, are a mark, not of a cultivated, but a rude state of society. It was during an age of darkness and barbarity, that metaphysical speculations engaged so passionately the minds of the European doctors; and called forth examples of the greatest acuteness and subtlety. It was prior to the dawn of true philosophy, that the sophists, whose doctrine was a collection of ingenious quibbles on abstract questions, enjoyed their celebrity in Greece. Pythagoras flourished at a very early Edition: current; Page: [67] age; and yet there is a high degree of subtleBOOK II. Chap. 9. ingenuity in the doctrines he is said to have taught. Amid the rudeness of the Celtic inhabitants of Gaul and Britain, the Druids carried, we know not how far, the refinements of metaphysical speculation. Strabo, as quoted by Dr. Henry,1says. “The Druids add the study of moral philosophy to that of physiology.2 Ammianus Marcellinus informs us, that the inhabitants of Gaul, having been by degrees a little polished, the study of some branches of useful learning was introduced among them by the bards, the Eubates, and the Druids. The Eubates made researches into the order of things, and endeavoured to lay open the most hidden secrets of nature. The Druids were men of a still more sublime and penetrating spirit, and acquired the highest renown by their speculations, which were at once subtle and lofty.”3 The progress which the Arabians made in a semblance of abstract science has been highly celebrated. The following observations, borrowed from one of the most intelligent of the Europeans by whom they have been studied, will enable us to appreciate their metaphysical science. Of the Arabians, he says, even at the brightest period of their history, the Europeans, have been prone to form too favourable, indeed extravagant ideas.4 Their best writers are the translators or copiers of the Greeks. The only study peculiar to them, a study which they continue to Edition: current; Page: [68] BOOK II. Chap. 9.cultivate, is that of their own language. But by the study of language, among the Arabians, we must not understand that philosophical spirit of research, which in words investigates the history of ideas, in order to perfect the art by which they are communicated. The study is cultivated solely on account of its connexion with religion. As the word of God conveys the meaning of God, no conceivable nicety of investigation is ever too much to elicit that meaning in its divine purity. For this reason, it is of the highest moment to ascertain not only the exact signification of the words, but likewise the accents, inflections, signs, and pauses; in a word, all the most minute niceties of prosody and pronunciation; and it is impossible to conceive to what a degree of complication they have invented and refined on this subject, without having heard their declamations in the mosques. The grammar alone takes several years to acquire. Next is taught the nahou, which may be defined the science of terminations. These, which are foreign to the vulgar Arabic, are superadded to words, and vary according to the numbers, cases, genders, and person. After this, the student, now walking among the learned, is introduced to the study of eloquence. For this, years are required; because the doctors, mysterious like the Brahmens, impart their treasures only by degrees. At length arrives the time for the study of the law and the Fakah; or science peculiarly so called; by which they mean theology. If it be considered that the object of these studies is always the Koran; that it is necessary to be acquainted with all its mystical and allegorical meanings, to read all its commentaries and paraphrases, of which there are 200 volumes on the first verse; and to dispute on thousands of ridiculous cases of conscience; it cannot Edition: current; Page: [69] but be allowed that one may pass one’s whole life inBOOK II. Chap. 9. learning much and knowing nothing.1It is vain, as the same author still further remarks, to tell us of colleges, places of education, and books: These words, in the regions of which we are treating, convey not the same ideas as with us.2 The Turks, though signal, even among rude nations, for their ignorance, are not without speculations of a similar nature, which by superficial observers have been taken for philosophy. “Certain it is,” says Sir James Porter, “that there are among the Turks many philosophical minds. They have the whole systems of the Aristotelian and Epicurean philosophy translated into their own language.”3 “The metaphysical questions,” says Gibbon, “on the attributes of God, and the liberty of man, have been agitated in the schools of Mahomedans, as well as in those of the Christians.”4 And Mr. Elphinstone informs us, that if the rude Afghaun is ever stimulated to any degree Edition: current; Page: [70] BOOK II. Chap. 9.of literary activity, it is when pursuing the subtleties of metaphysical speculation.1

These facts coincide with a curious law of human nature, which some eminent philosophers have already remarked. The highest abstractions are not the last result of mental culture, and intellectual strength; it is discovered, that some of our most general and comprehensive notions are formed at that very early period, when the mind, with little discriminating power, is apt to lump together things which have but few points of resemblance; and that we break down these genera into species more and more minute in proportion as our knowledge becomes more extensive, more particular, and precise. The propensity to abstract speculations is then the natural result of the state of the human mind in a rude and ignorant age.2

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The Vedanti doctrine, which has caught the fancyBOOK II. Chap. 9. of some of the admirers of Sanscrit, appears to be delivered viva voce, and solely in that mode. As no passage implying it has been quoted from any Sanscrit work, it might, if it were any refinement, be suspected of being wholly modern. The following is the account of it by Sir William Jones. “The fundamental tenet of the Vedanti school consisted, not in denying the existence of matter, that is, of solidity impenetrability, and extended figure, (to deny which would be lunacy) but in correcting the popular notion of it, and in contending that it has no essence independent of mental perception, that existence and perceptibility are convertible terms, that external appearances and sensations are illusory, and would vanish into nothing, if the divine energy, which alone sustains them, were suspended but for a moment; an opinion which Epicharmus and Plato seem to have adopted, and which has been maintained in the present century with great elegance, but with little public applause; partly because it has been misunderstood and partly because it has been misapplied by the false reasoning of some unpopular writers, who are said to have disbelieved in the moral attributes of God, whose omnipresence, wisdom, and goodness, are the basis of the Indian philosophy. I have not sufficient evidence on the subject to profess a belief in the doctrine of the Vedanta, which human reason alone could, perhaps, neither fully demonstrate, nor fully disprove; but it is manifest, that nothing can be further removed from impiety than a system wholly built on the purest devotion.”1

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BOOK II. Chap. 9.“In some of these observations,” Mr. Dugald Stewart very justly observes, “there is a good deal of indistinctness, and even of contradiction.” He also remarks, that Sir William Jones totally misunderstands the doctrine of Berkeley and Hume.1 We may suspect that he not less widely mistakes the doctrine of the Brahmens, and fastens a theory of his own creation upon the vague and unmeaning jargon which they delivered to him. If in all minds the propensity be strong, and in weak minds irresistible, to see only through the medium of a theory; we need not wonder if theory manufactures the ideas of the other senses, of hearing, for example, after the same manner. “If the simplest narrative of the most illiterate observer involves more or less of hypothesis; and a village apothecary or a hackneyed nurse, is seldom able to describe the plainest case, without employing a phraseology of which every word is a theory,”2 we may conclude with certainty that the same intrusion is very difficult to avoid, in making up our own conception of what we hear, and still more in clothing it with our own language. Of the ideas which we profess to report, and which we believe that we merely report, it often happens that many are our own ideas, and never entered the mind of the man to whom we ascribe them.

We have a more distinct account of the same doctrine from Sir James Macintosh, whose mind is more philosophical, and on oriental subjects less prepossessed and less credulous, than that of Sir William Jones. Presenting, in a letter to Mr. Dugald Stewart, an account of a conversation with a young Brahmen, Edition: current; Page: [73] “He told me,” says he, “that besides the myriadsBOOK II. Chap. 9. of gods whom their creed admits, there was one whom they know by the name of Brim, or the great one, without form or limits, whom no created intellect could make any approach towards conceiving; that, in reality, there were no trees, no houses, no land, no sea, but all without was Maia, or illusion, the act of Brim; that whatever we saw or felt was only a dream; or, as he expressed it in his imperfect English, thinking in one’s sleep; and that the reunion of the soul to Brim, from whom it originally sprung, was the awakening from the long sleep of finite existence.”1

It will require few words, in application of the evidence adduced in the chapter on religion, to make it sufficiently appear, that this is a natural part of that language of adulation towards the deity, in which the Hindu theology mainly consists. One of the deities, who is chosen as the chief object of adoration, is first made to excel all the other deities; next to absorb all their powers; next to absorb even themselves; and lastly absorb all things.2 The fancy of “Maia,” is only a part of “the absorption of all things in God.” There is nothing but God. All our supposed perception of things besides God is, therefore, only illusion; illusion created by God. Why, then, does God create such an illusion? This is a very necessary question. If it were put; and why it has not been put, we may a little admire; the Brahmens might very consistently reply, that as for a use, a design, a purpose, in the actions of their God, they never thought of ascribing to them any such quality. He pleases himself by his actions, and that is enough; no matter how fantastic the taste. Edition: current; Page: [74] BOOK II. Chap. 9.It is with great pleasure I quote the following co incidence with my own opinion, expressed in a subsequent passage of the same letter. “I intend to investigate a little the history of these opinions; for I am not altogether without apprehension, that we may all the while be mistaking the hyperbolical effusions of mystical piety, for the technical language of a philosophical system. Nothing is more usual, than for fervent devotion to dwell so long, and so warmly, on the meanness and worthlessness of created things, and on the all-sufficiency of the Supreme Being, that it slides insensibly from comparative to absolute language, and, in the eagerness of its zeal to magnify the Deity, seems to annihilate every thing else. To distinguish between the very different import of the same words in the mouth of a mystic and sceptic, requires more philosophical discrimination than most of our Sanscrit investigators have hitherto shown.”1

Sir James might have passed beyond a suspicion; if from nothing else, from the very words of the conversation he reports. Human life is there not compared to a sleep; it is literally affirmed to be a sleep; and men are not acting, or thinking, but only dreaming. Of what philosophical system does this form a part? We awake, only when we are re-united to the Divine Being; that is, when we actually become a part of the Divine Being, not having a separate existence. Then, of course, we cease to dream; and then, it may be supposed, that Maia ceases. Then will there be any thing to be known? any thing real? Or is it the same thing, whether we are awake or asleep? But my reader might well complain I was only trifling with him, if I pursued this jargon any further. What grieves me is, that between the two Edition: current; Page: [75] passages which I have immediately quoted, Sir JamesBOOK II. Chap. 9. (we must remember that it is in the negligence of private correspondence) has inserted the following words. “All this you have heard and read before as Hindu speculation. What struck me was, that speculations so refined and abstruse should, in a long course of ages, have fallen through so great a space as that which separates the genius of their original inventor from the mind of this weak and unlettered man. The names of these inventors have perished; but their ingenious and beautiful theories, blended with the most monstrous superstitions, have descended to men very little exalted above the most ignorant populace, and are adopted by them as a sort of articles of faith, without a suspicion of their philosophical origin, and without the possibility of comprehending any part of the premises from which they were deduced.” Yet Sir James himself has described the origin from which they were deduced; namely, “the hyperbolical effusions of mystical piety;” and surely the Brahmens of the present day may understand these effusions as well as their still more ignorant predecessors.1

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BOOK II. Chap. 9.With respect to morals or duty, it appears not that any theory has ever been constructed by the Hindus. In what regards the preceptive part, their ethics exactly resemble those of all other rude and uninstructed nations; an excellent precept, and a foolish or absurd one, are placed alternately, or mixed in nearly equal proportions, in all their books which treat upon the subject. For specimens of their ethical precepts, it is sufficient to refer to what we have already produced under the head of religion. If all the good precepts were selected from the rest, and exhibited pure by themselves, they would present a tolerably perfect code of the common duties of morality. As we have authors who have attached importance to this, without adverting to the fact that a soundness in detached maxims of morality is common to all men down to the lowest stage of society, it is necessary to give a specimen of the ethical rules of nations confessedly barbarous. We might, perhaps, be satisfied with a reference to the Edition: current; Page: [77] proverbs of Solomon, and other preceptive parts ofBOOK II. Chap. 9. the Jewish writings, which are not equalled by the corresponding parts of the books of the Hindus. We shall, however, produce another instance, which is less exposed to any objection. The Havamaal or sublime discourse of Odin, is a Scandinavian composition of great antiquity. It is a string of moral aphorisms, comprised in 120 stanzas; with which, as a whole, there is nothing in Hindu literature in any degree worthy to be compared. The following is a specimen:

“To the guest who enters your dwelling with frozen knees, give the warmth of your fire: he who hath travelled over the mountains hath need of food and well-dried garments:

A man can carry with him no better provision for his journey than the strength of the understanding. In a foreign country this will be of more use to him than treasures; and will introduce him to the table of strangers:

There is nothing more useless to the sons of the age than to drink too much ale; the more the drunkard swallows the less is his wisdom, till he loses his reason. The bird of oblivion sings before those who inebriate themselves, and steals away their souls:

I have never yet found a man so generous and munificent, as that to receive at his house was not to receive; nor any so free and liberal of his gifts as to reject a present when it was returned to him:

They invite me up and down to feasts, if I have only need of a slight breakfast; my faithful friend is he who will give me one loaf when he has but two:

Where is there to be found a virtuous man without Edition: current; Page: [78] BOOK II. Chap. 9.some failing; or one so wicked as to have no good quality?”1

Among the parts of Hindu learning chosen by its admirers as the peculiar objects of their applause, are the niceties, the numerous and intricate subtleties, of the Hindu grammar. We are informed by an emiment Sanscrit scholar, that the grammatical precepts of one single treatise are no fewer than 3996. The reader will observe, that this number is composed of the digit 3 and its multiples, to which peculiar virtues are ascribed by the Hindus. It is not improbable that the rules may have been made to correspond with the number rather than the number with the rules. Nevertheless, we learn from Mr. Colebrooke, that “those rules are framed with the utmost conciseness, the consequence of very ingenious methods. But it is added that the studied brevity of the Paniniya Sutras renders them in the highest degree obscure; that even with the knowledge of the key to their interpretation, the student finds them ambiguous; that the application of them even when understood, discovers many seeming contradictions; and that, with every exertion of practised memory, the utmost difficulty is experienced in combining rules dispersed in apparent confusion through different portions of Paninis and lectures. The number of commentaries on the books of grammar is exceedingly great, and many of them very voluminous.”2

As these endless conceits answer any purpose rather than that of rendering language a more commodious and accurate instrument of communication, they afford Edition: current; Page: [79] a remarkable specimen of the spirit of a rude and ignorantBOOK II. Chap. 9. age: which is as much delighted with the juggleries of the mind, as it is with those of the body, and is distinguished by the absurdity of its passion for both.1It could not happen otherwise than that the Hindus should, beyond other nations, abound in those frivolous refinements which are suited to the taste of an uncivilized people. A whole race of men were set apart and exempted from the ordinary cares and labours of life, whom the pain of vacuity forced upon some application of mind, and who were under the necessity of maintaining their influence among the people, by the credit of superior learning, and, if not by real knowledge, which is slowly and with much difficulty attained, by artful contrivances for deceiving the people with the semblance of it. This view of the situation of the Brahmens serves to explain many things which modify and colour Hindu society. In grammatical niceties, however, the Hindus but discover their usual resemblance to other nations in the infancy of knowlege and improvement. We have already seen that the Arabians on this subject carry their complex refinements to a height scarcely inferior to that of the Brahmens themselves.2 Even the Turks, who are not in general a refining race, multiply conceits on this subject.3 During the dark ages the fabrication of grammatical distinctions and subtleties furnished a favorite exercise to the European schoolmen.4

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BOOK II. Chap. 9.Not only the grammar; the language itself has been celebrated as the mark of a refined and elegant people. “It is more copious,” we are told, “than the Latin. It has several words to express the same thing. The sun has more than thirty names, the moon more than twenty. A house has twenty; a stone six or seven; a tree ten; a leaf five; an ape ten; a crow nine.”1

That which is a defect and a deformity of language is thus celebrated as a perfection.2 The highest Edition: current; Page: [81] merit of language would consist in having oneBOOK II. Chap. 9. name for every thing which required a name, and no more than one. Redundancy is a defect in language, not less than deficiency. Philosophy, and even common good sense, determine, that every thing which can simplify language, without impairing it in point of precision and completeness, is a first rate advantage. An ignorant and fantastical age deems it a glory to render it in the highest degree perplexing and difficult.

The other perfections which are ascribed to the Edition: current; Page: [82] BOOK II. Chap. 9.Sanscrit are its softness, or agreebleness in point of sound, and its adaptation to poetry. Of its completeness or precision, those who were the fullest of admiration for it, were too little acquainted with it to be able to venture an opinion. Yet completeness and precision would have been undeniable proofs of the mental perfection of the people by whom it was used; while a great multitude of useless words and grammatical rules were the very reverse. Nothing is more probable than that a language which has too many words of one description, has too few of another, and unites in equal degree the vices of superfluity and defect. The adaptation of a language to poetry and the ear, affords no evidence of civilization. Languages, on which equal eulogies are bestowed to any which can be lavished on Sanscrit, are the languages confessedly of ignorant and uncivilized men. Nothing can surpass the admiration which is often expressed of the language of the modern Persians. Molina, the intelligent and philosophical historian of Chili, informs us, that of the language of the Chilians the grammar is as perfect as that of the Greek or Latin; that of no language does the formation and structure display greater ingenuity and felicity.1The language of the Malays is described as remarkably sweet, and well adapted to poetry.2 Clavigero knows not where to set a limit to his admiration of the Mexican tongue.3

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“Many extravagant things have been advanced concerningBOOK II. Chap. 9. the great antiquity and superior excellency of the Anglo-saxon language. According to some writers, it was the most ancient and most excellent in the world, spoken by the first parents of mankind in Paradise; and from it they pretend to derive the names, Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, and all the antediluvian patriarchs.”1

The same sacred volume which affords the most authentic materials for ascertaining the Hindu modes Edition: current; Page: [84] BOOK II. Chap. 9.of accounting for the phenomena of mind, lends equal assistance in leading us to a knowledge of their modes of accounting for the phenomena of matter. At the close of the night of Brahma, “intellect called into action by his will to create worlds, performed again the work of creation; and thence first emerges the subtle ether, to which philosophers ascribe the quality of conveying sound:”1Ignorant that air is the great agent in the conveyance of sound, the Hindus had recourse to a fiction; the imagination of a something, of whose existence they had no proof. Equally futile is their account of air. “From ether, effecting a transmutation in form, springs the pure and potent air, a vehicle of all scents; and air is held endued with the quality of touch.”2 The word touch is here ambiguous; it may mean either that air is tangible, or that it has the faculty, the sense of touch. The latter, I suspect, is the meaning of the original; for I can hardly credit that so great a master of language as Sir William Jones, would have explained a passage which only meant that air is tangible, by so exceptionable a term as that it is endued with the quality of touch. I can with less difficulty suppose, from other instances, that he endeavoured to cloak a most absurd idea under an equivocal translation.

With respect to light and heat, we are told in the immediately succeeding passage; “Then from air, operating a change, rises light or fire, making objects visible, spreading bright rays; and it is declared to have the quality of figure.”3 It sufficiently appears from these several passages; that the accounts with which they satisfy themselves, are merely such random guesses as would occur to the most vulgar and untutored minds. From intellect arose ether: from ether, Edition: current; Page: [85] air; from air, fire and light. It appears from thisBOOK II. Chap. 9. passage that they consider light and heat as absolutely the same; yet the moon afforded them an instance of light without heat; and they had instances innumerable of heat without the presence of light. What is the meaning, when it is declared that fire, alias light, has the quality of figure, it is impossible to say. That fire, or, which is the same thing, light, is itself figured, is an affirmation wherein little meaning can be found. That fire, that is, light, is the cause of figure in all figured bodies, is an affirmation which, notwithstanding the absurdity, is in exact harmony with the mode of guessing at the operations of nature, admired as philosophy among the Hindus.

The account of water and earth is a link of the same chain. “From light, a change being effected, comes water with the quality of taste; and from water is deposited earth with the quality of smell.”1 As from ether came air, so from air light, from light water, and from water earth. It is useless to ask what connexion appears between water and light, or earth and water. Connexion, reason, probability, had nothing to do with the case. A theory of successive production struck the fancy of the writer, and all inquiry was out of the question. Here occurs the same difficulty as in the case of air; air was endowed with the quality of touch; water and earth are said to have the qualities of smell and taste. In this we perceive a most fantastic conceit: To water is ascribed the quality of taste; to earth, the quality of smell; to fire, the quality of figure, (I suspect it should be translated sight); to air, the quality of touch; and to ether, the quality (as Sir William Jones translates it) of conveying sound; I suspect it should be translated, the quality of hearing.

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BOOK II. Chap. 9.We have thus seen the speculations respecting the origin and qualities of the principal parts of inanimate nature. The same divine volume affords us a specimen of their ideas concerning the origin of at least one great department of animated nature. “From hot moisture are born biting gnats, lice, fleas, and common flies; these, and whatever is of the same class, are produced by heat.”1 If this be an idea natural enough to the mind of an uncultivated observer it is at least not a peculiar proof of learning and civilization.

Of the arbitrary style of deciding without inquiry, the natural and ordinary style of all rude minds, a curious specimen is afforded by the Hindu dogma, that vegetables, as well as animals, “have internal consciousness, and are sensible of pleasure and pain.”2

Mr. Wilford, the industrious explorer of the literature of this ancient people, informs us; “The Hindus were superficial botanists, and gave the same appellation to plants of different classes.”3 To arrange or classify, on this or on any other subject, seems an attempt which has in all ages exceeded the mental culture of the Hindus.

Of all the circumstances, however, connected with the state of Hindu society, nothing has called forth higher expressions of eulogy and admiration than the astronomy of the Brahmens. Mons. Bailly, the celebrated author of the History of Astronomy, may be regarded as beginning the concert of praises, upon this branch of the science of the Hindus. The grounds of his conclusions were certain astronomical tables; from which he inferred, not only advanced progress in the science, but a date so ancient as to be entirely Edition: current; Page: [87] inconsistent with the chronology of the Hebrew Scriptures.BOOK II. Chap. 9. The man who invented a theory of an ancient and highly civilized people, now extinct, formerly existing in the wilds of Tartary, and who maintained it with uncommon zeal, and all the efforts of his ingenuity, is not to be trusted as a guide in the regions of conjecture. Another cause of great distrust attaches to Mons. Bailly. Voltaire, and other excellent writers in France, abhorring the evils which they saw attached to catholicism, laboured to subvert the authority of the books on which it was founded. Under this impulse they embraced, with extreme credulity, and actual enthusiasm, the tales respecting the great antiquity of the Chinese and Hindus, as disproving entirely the Mosaic accounts of the duration of the present race of men. When a case occurred, in which it appeared that this favourite conclusion could be established on the strength of astronomical observations and mathematical reasoning, the grand object seemed to be accomplished. The argument was laboured with the utmost diligence by Mons. Bailly, was received with unbounded applause, and for a time regarded as a demonstration in form of the falsehood of Christianity.

The most eminent of all the mathematical converts, gained by Mons. Bailly, was Mr. Playfair, the professor of mathematics in the University of Edinburgh. A bias was probably created in his mind by the high reputation of Mons. Bailly for his attainments in that science in which Mr. Playfair himself was so great a master; and any feeling of that nature could not fail to be greatly strengthened, by the loud applause, in which his countrymen, both those who were still in India, and those who had returned from it, at that time concurred, of the wonderful learning, wonderful civilization, and wonderful institutions of the Hindus; Edition: current; Page: [88] BOOK II. Chap. 9.applause which imposed implicit belief on minds such as that of his illustrious colleague, the author of the Historical Disquisition concerning the knowledge which the ancients had of India. In a paper published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Mr. Playfair stated, with skill and dexterity, the matter of evidence on which the proposition is founded;1and in an article lately published in the Edinburgh Review,2 the arguments are controverted by which Mr. Bentley had endeavoured to overthrow his opinion: but a suspension of belief, till further information shall yield more satisfactory proof, is all that in this latter document is contended for.

Such a demand, however, is infinitely too much, and at variance with all the principles of reasoning. When an opinion is obviously contradicted by a grand train of circumstances, and is not entirely supported by the special proof on which it pretends to rest, it is unproved; and whatever is unproved, and out of the known order of nature, is altogether unworthy of belief; deserves simple rejection.

Whoever, in the present improved state of our knowledge, shall take the trouble to contemplate the proofs which we possess of the state of knowledge and civilization among the Hindus, can form no other conclusion, but that every thing (unless astronomy be an exception) bears clear, concurring, and undeniable testimony to the ignorance of the Hindus, and the low state of civilization in which they remain. That such a people are masters of the science of astronomy to a degree which none but nations highly cultivated have elsewhere ever attained, is certainly Edition: current; Page: [89] not to be credited on any chain of proof that is notBOOK II. Chap. 9. entire.1

Of the fitness of the proof to maintain any such conclusions as have been founded upon it, an idea may be formed from this; that Mr. Bentley, who has paid great attention to the books of Hindu astronomy, says they are all of modern date, and their pretensions to antiquity founded only on forgery.2 As his moderate knowledge of mathematics, however, and even the inelegancies of his style, have been sarcastically employed to throw discredit upon his conclusions, it is of importance to add that the two mathematicians whose reputation for profundity seems to exceed that of all their cotemporaries, Laplace, and an eminent ornament of our country, not only reject the inference of the great antiquity and perfection of the Hindu astronomy, but, from the evidence offered, draw a conclusion directly the reverse; viz. that this science is in the very same state of infancy among the Hindus with all the other branches of knowledge. The Surya Sidhanta is the great repository of the astronomical knowledge of the Hindus. It is on the authority of our own countryman I am enabled to declare, that this book is itself the most satisfactory of all proofs of the low state of the science among the Hindus, and the rudeness of the people from whom it proceeds; that its fantastic absurdity is truly Hindu; that all we can learn from it is a few facts, the result Edition: current; Page: [90] BOOK II. Chap. 9.of observations which required no skill; that its vague allegories and fanciful reflections prove nothing, or every thing; that a resolute admirer may build upon them all the astronomical science of modern times; but a man who should divest his mind of the recollection of European discoveries, and ask what a people unacquainted with the science could learn from the Surya Sidhanta, would find it next to nothing.1

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BOOK II. Chap. 9.The Hindu astronomy is possessed of very considerable accuracy in regard to the mean motions. In other respects it has no pretensions to correctness or refinement. Astronomy may acquire great accuracy in regard to the mean motions, without the help of any nice or delicate observations; and while the science can hardly be said to exist. If there is every reason to believe, and none whatsoever to disbelieve, that the mean motions of the Hindu astronomy have been gradually corrected in the same manner in which the calendars of ancient nations have been improved, the legitimate conclusion cannot be mistaken.

As far as a conclusion can be drawn respecting the state of astronomy among the Hindus, from the state of their instruments of observation (and an analogy might be expected between those closely connected circumstances), the inference entirely corresponds with what the other circumstances in the condition of the Hindus have a tendency to establish. The observatory at Benares, the great seat of Hindu astronomy and learning, was found to be rude in structure, and the instruments with which it was provided of the coarsest contrivance and construction.

Even Mr. Playfair himself observes that “regular observations began to be made in Chaldea with the era of Nabonassar; the earliest which have merited the attention of succeeding ages.” The observation which he next presents is truly philosophical and Edition: current; Page: [92] BOOK II. Chap. 9.important. “The curiosity of the Greeks,” says he, “was, soon after, directed to the same object; and that ingenious people was the first that endeavoured to explain or connect, by theory, the various phenomena of the heavens.”1This was an important step; all that preceded was mere observation and empiricism, not even the commencement of science.2 He adds; “The astronomy of India gives no theory, nor even any description of the celestial phenomena, but satisfies itself with the calculation of certain changes in the heavens, particularly of the eclipses of the sun and moon, and with the rules and tables by which these calculations must be performed. The Brahmen, seating himself on the ground, and arranging his shells before him, repeats the enigmatical verses that are to guide his calculation, and from his little tablets and palm leaves, takes out the numbers that are to be employed in it. He obtains his result with wonderful certainty and expedition; but having little knowledge of the principles on which his rules are founded, and no anxiety to be better informed, he is perfectly satisfied, if, as it usually happens, the commencement and duration of the eclipse answer, within a few minutes to his prediction. Beyond this his astronomical inquiries never extend; and his observations, Edition: current; Page: [93] when he makes any, go no farther thanBOOK II. Chap. 9. to determine the meridian line, or the length of the day at the place where he observes.”1

Scarcely can there be drawn a stronger picture than this of the rude and infant state of astronomy. The Brahmen, making his calculation by shells, is an exact resemblance of the rude American performing the same operation by knots on a string; and both of them exhibit a practice which then only prevails; either when the more ingenious and commodious method of ciphering, or accounting by written signs, is unknown; or when the human mind is too rude and too weak to break through the force of an inveterate custom.2

But the rude state of the science of astronomy among the Brahmens of the present day, is supposed to have been preceded by a period in which it was cultivated to a high degree of perfection. It is vain to ask at what date this period had its existence; and where the signs of such ancient knowledge are to be found. To these questions no answer can be returned. Sir William Jones himself admits “it is improbable that the Indian astronomers, in very early times, had made more accurate observations than those of Alexandria, Bagdad, or Maraghah; and still more improbable that they should have relapsed without apparent cause into error.”3 Mr. Davis, Edition: current; Page: [94] BOOK II. Chap. of the oriental inquirers to whom we are most indebted for our knowledge of Hindu astronomy, says, “I had been inclined to think with many others, that the Brahmens possess no more knowledge in astronomy, than they have derived from their ancestors in tables ready calculated to their hands, and that few traces of the principles of the science could be found among them; but by consulting some Sanscrit books I was induced to alter my opinion. I believe the Hindu science of astronomy will be found as well known now as it ever was among them.”1In other words, the ignorance of the present age is the same with the ignorance of all former ages.2

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BOOK II. Chap. 9.While we are thus unable, from all we have learned of the Hindu astronomy, to infer either its high antiquity, or great excellence, it is a matter of doubt whether even that portion of the science which they possess, they may not to a great degree have derived from other nations more advanced in civilization than themselves. The Hindu astronomy possesses certain features of singularity which tend to prove, and have by various inquirers been held sufficient to prove, its perfect originality. But it may very well be supposed, that in a science which so naturally fixes the attention of even a rude people, the Hindus themselves proceeded to a certain extent; and even if they did borrow the most valuable portion of all that they know, that it was constrained to harmonize with the methods they had already invented, and the discoveries they had previously made. The fact, moreover, is, that if the Hindu astronomy exhibits marks of distinction from other systems, it exhibits, on the supposition of its originality, still more surprising instances of agreement with other systems. “The days of the week” (I use the language of Mr. Playfair) “are dedicated by the Brahmens, as by us, to the seven planets, and, what is truly singular, they are arranged precisely in the same order. The ecliptic is divided, as with us, into twelve signs of thirty degrees each. This division is purely ideal, and is intended merely for the purpose of calculation. The names and emblems by which these signs are expressed, are nearly the same as with us; and as there is nothing in the nature of things to have determined this coincidence, it must, like the arrangement of the days of the week, be the result of some Edition: current; Page: [96] BOOK II. Chap. 9.ancient and unknown communication.”1From this striking circumstance, Montucla, the celebrated historian of mathematics, inferred, that the Hindu zodiac was borrowed from the Greeks; and from the vicinity of the Greek empire of Bactria, as well as from the communications which took place between the Hindus, the Persians, and Arabians, the facility with which the knowledge of the Grecian astronomy might pass into India is clear. Sir William Jones controverts the position that the Hindu ecliptic was borrowed from the Greeks; he contends that it was derived from the Chaldeans.2 But this is the same in the end.3

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BOOK II. Chap. 9.At one time a disposition appeared to set the knowledge of the Hindus in pure mathematics very high.

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BOOK II. Chap. 9.A very convenient, and even an ingenious mode of constructing the table of approximate signs, is in use among the Hindu astronomers. “But ignorant totally,” says Professor Leslie, “of the principles of the operation, those humble calculators are content to follow blindly a slavish routine. The Brahmens must, therefore, have derived such information from people further advanced than themselves in science, and of a bolder and more inventive genius. Whatever may be the pretensions of that passive race, their knowledge of trigonometrical computation has no solid claim to any high antiquity. It was probably, before the revival of letters in Europe, carried to the East by the tide of victory. The natives of Hindustan might receive instruction from the Persian astronomers, who were themselves taught by the Greeks of Constantinople, and stimulated to those scientific pursuits by the skill and liberality of their Arabian conquerors.”1

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Arithmetic is a branch of mathematics; and amongBOOK II. Chap. 9. other inventions, of which the honour has been claimed for the Hindus, is that of numerical characters. Whether the signs used by the Hindus are so peculiar as to render it probable that they invented them, or whether it is still more probable that they borrowed them, are questions which, for the purpose of ascertaining their progress in civilization, are not worth resolving. “The invention of numerical characters,” says Goguet, “must have been very ancient. Edition: current; Page: [100] BOOK II. Chap. 9.For though flints, pebbles, and grains of corn, &c. might be sufficient for making arithmetical calculations, they were by no means proper for preserving the result of them. It was, however, necessary on many occasions to preserve the result of arithmetical operations, and consequently it was necessary, very early, to invent signs for that purpose.”1Under these motives, a people, who had communication with another people already acquainted with numerical signs, would borrow them: a people who had no such communication, would be under the necessity of inventing them. But alphabetical signs, far more difficult, were invented at a rude period of society; no certain proof of civilization is therefore gained by the invention of arithmetical characters. The characters of which Europeans themselves make use, and which they have borrowed from the Arabians, are really hieroglyphics; and “from the monuments of the Mexicans,” says Goguet, “which are still remaining, it appears that hieroglyphics were used by that people, both for letters and numerical characters.”2 That diligent and judicious inquirer says, in general, “The origin of cyphers or numerical characters was confounded with that of hieroglyphic writing. To this day, the Arabian cyphers are real hieroglyphics, and do not represent words, but things. For which reason, though the nations which use them speak different languages, yet these characters excite the ideas of the same numbers in the minds of all.”3

Algebraic signs, which were brought into Europe from Arabia, may, it is said, have originated in India. There is an assertion of the Arabian writers, that an Edition: current; Page: [101] Arabian mathematician in 959 travelled to India, inBOOK II. Chap. 9. quest of information. He might, however, travel without finding. On this foundation, it is plain that no sound inference can be established. If, indeed, it were proved that the algebraic notation came from India, an invention, which the Arabians could make, implies not much of civilization wherever it was made. The shape, indeed, in which it was imported from Arabia sets the question at rest. It cannot be described more clearly and shortly than in the words of Mr. Playfair. The characters, as imported from Arabia, “are mere abbreviations of words. Thus the first appearance of algebra is merely that of a system of short-hand writing, or an abbreviation of common language, applied to the solution of arithmetical problems. It was a contrivance merely to save trouble.”1

The books of the Hindus abound with the praise of learning; and the love and admiration of learning is a mark of civilization and refinement. By the panegyrics, however, in the books of the Hindus, the existence is proved of little to which admiration is due. On the pretensions of the Brahmens to Edition: current; Page: [102] BOOK II. Chap. 9.learning, the title to which they reserved exclusively to themselves, a great part of their unbounded influence depended. It was their interest, therefore, to excite an admiration of it, that is, of themselves, by every artifice. When we contemplate, however, the acquirements and performances on which the most lofty of these panegyrics were lavished, we can be at no loss for a judgment on their learning, or the motive from which the praises of it arose. To be able to read the Vedas, was merit of the most exalted nature; to have actually read them, elevated the student to a rank almost superior to that of mortals. “A priest,” says the sacred text of Menu, “who has gone through the whole Veda, is equal to a sovereign of the whole world.1 What is valuable in Edition: current; Page: [103] learning could be little understood, where consequencesBOOK II. Chap. 9. of so much importance were attached to a feat of this description.

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BOOK II. Chap. 9.The Hindus have institutions of education; and the Brahmens teach the arts of reading and writing, by tracing the characters with a rod in the sand.1 How extensively this elementary knowledge is diffused, we have received little or no information. This is a satisfactory proof of the want of intelligence and of interest, with which our countrymen in India have looked upon the native population. The magistrates, however, who returned answers to the interrogatories of government in the year 1801, respecting the morals of the people, describe the state of education in general terms, as deplorable in the extreme. Mr. J. Stracey, magistrate of Momensing, says, “The lower sort are extremely ignorant.” Mr. Paterson, magistrate of Dacca Jelalpore, recommends “a total change in the system of education amongst those who have any education at all:” adding, that “the great mass of the lower ranks have literally none.” The judges of the court of appeal and circuit of Moorshedabad say: Edition: current; Page: [105] “The moral character of a nation can be improved byBOOK II. Chap. 9. education only. All instruction is unattainable to the labouring poor, whose own necessities require the assistance of their children as soon as their tender limbs are capable of the smallest labour. With the middle class of tradesmen, artificers, and shopkeepers, education ends at ten years of age, and never reaches further than reading, writing (a scarcely legible hand on the plantain leaf), and the simplest rules of arithmetic.”1But if the Hindu institutions of education were of a much more perfect kind than they appear to have ever been, they would afford a very inadequate foundation for the inference of a high state of civilization. The truth is, that institutions for education, more elaborate than those of the Hindus, are found in the infancy of civilization. Among the Turks and the Persians there are schools and colleges, rising one above another for the different stages of instruction.2 And scarcely in any nation does the business Edition: current; Page: [106] BOOK II. Chap. 9.of education appear to have been a higher concern of the government than among the Americans of Mexico and Peru.1

As evidence of the fond credulity with which the state of society among the Hindus was for a time regarded, I ought to mention the statement of Sir W. Jones, who gravely, and with an air of belief, informs us, that he had heard of a philosopher “whose works were said to contain a system of the universe, founded on the principle of attraction and the central position of Edition: current; Page: [107] the sun.”1This reminds the instructed reader of theBOOK II. Chap. 9. disposition which has been manifested by some of the admirers of the Greek and Roman literature, and of these by one at least who had not a weak and credulous mind, to trace the discoveries of modern philosophy to the pages of the classics. Dr. Middleton, in his celebrated life of Cicero, says, that “several of the fundamental principles of the modern philosophy, which pass for the original discoveries of these later times, are the revival rather of ancient notions, maintained by some of the first philosophers, of whom we have any notice in history; as the motion of the earth, the antipodes, a vacuum; and an universal gravitation or attractive quality of matter, which holds the world in its present form and order.”2 It is a well known artifice of the Brahmens, with whose pretensions and interests it would be altogether inconsistent to allow there was any knowledge with which they were not acquainted, or which was not contained in some of their books, to attach to the loose and unmeaning phraseology of some of their own writings, whatever ideas they find to be in esteem; or even to interpolate for that favourite purpose.3 It was thus Edition: current; Page: [108] BOOK II. Chap. 9.extremely natural that Sir William Jones, whose pundits had become acquainted with the ideas of European philosophers respecting the system of the universe, should hear from them that those ideas were contained in their own books: The wonder was that without any proof he should believe them.1

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APPENDIX. N° I.: Remarks on the Arguments for the Antiquity of the Hindu Astronomy.

BOOK II. Appendix.THE knowledge of the Europeans concerning the astronomy of India is chiefly derived from different sets of astronomical tables brought to Europe at different times. All these tables are obviously connected with one another: for they are all adapted to one meridian; the mean motions are the same in them all; and their principal epochs are all deduced by calculation from one original epoch. The most ancient of the Indian epochs is fixed in the year 3102 before the Christian æra, at the commencement of the Caliyug. On account of the mutual connection which, it is allowed, subsists between the three remaining epochs, it is only necessary to discuss that one which seems to be the most important: it is comparatively of modern date, and goes back no further than to the year of Christ 1491.

M. Bailly, in his Astronomie Indienne, has endeavoured to prove that the more ancient of the two epochs is fixed by actual observations: a proposition, which, if it were clearly made out, would confer the highest antiquity on the astronomy of India. In a paper in the Edinburgh Transactions, Mr. Playfair, who has adopted the opinion of M. Bailly, has given a clear and forcible summary of all the arguments that have been adduced in favour of the side he supports. M. Laplace, who is the only other author that has noticed the subject of the Indian astronomy since the publication of M. Bailly’s work, does not Edition: current; Page: [111] accede to the opinion of his brother academician.BOOK II. Appendix. In a very short passage in the “Systeme du Monde,” Laplace states it as his own opinion, that the ancient epoch of the Brahmens was adopted with the view of making all the celestial motions begin at the same point of the zodiac: and he very briefly hints the reasons on which his opinion is founded. In drawing up the following remarks the observations of Laplace have been kept in view.

1. If we set out from the epoch of 1491, and compute the places of the sun, moon, and the planets, for the ancient epoch in 3102 A. C. it is found that all the celestial bodies are then in mean conjunction with the sun in the origin of the moveable zodiac. Here then is an astronomical fact, which the Indian tables necessarily suppose to have taken place, and which, it must be allowed, appears to be very fit to bring the authenticity of the ancient epoch to the proof. For, although the tables of the modern astronomy, highly improved as they are, do not enable us to go back more than 2000 years with extreme accuracy, yet they are sufficiently exact to afford the means of judging whether the general conjunction, supposed in the Indian tables, was actually copied from the heavens or not. Now M. Bailly has computed the places of the planets at the time of the ancient epoch of the Indians, or for the commencement of the Cali-yug, from the tables of M. Lalande: and, although all the planets, except Venus, were then nearly in conjunction with the sun, yet they were by no means so near to one another as to render it probable that this epoch was fixed by observation. M. Bailly argues that the conjunction could not be determined by direct observation; because the planets are invisible when immersed in the sun’s light: and he shows that fifteen days after the epoch all the Edition: current; Page: [112] BOOK II. Appendix.planets, except Venus, were contained within seventeen degrees of the zodiac. But this is not satisfactory. Mr. Playfair admits that the Indian tables cannot be entirely vindicated in this respect. Laplace lays all the stress on this argument to which it seems fairly entitled.

The fiction of a general conjunction in the beginning of the moveable zodiac is the more remarkable, because it agrees precisely with the account which M. Bailly gives of the formation of the Indian astronomical systems.

The validity of the observations made by the critic in the Edinburgh Review, as far as they regard the accuracy of the mean motions, and other astronomical elements which do not depend on the epochs, cannot be disputed. There is but one way of determining the mean motions with accuracy; namely, by comparing together real observations of the places of the planets made at a sufficient interval of time. No fictitious, or assumed, epochs can be of the least use for this purpose. Indeed Mr. Bently does not maintain that the Brahmens make any such use of their assumed epochs. The artificial systems of the Indian astronomy necessarily suppose the mean motions, and other elements, to be already determined and known. Mr. Bently seems in some measure to have misconceived the nature of the arguments by which the Europeans endeavour to establish the antiquity of the Hindu astronomy. He seems to have imagined that nothing more was necessary for confuting all their reasoning on this subject, than to make them acquainted with the formation of the artificial systems of the Brahmens.

But considering Mr. Bently as a person acquainted with the astronomy of the East, and as having access to the books in which it is contained, his testimony Edition: current; Page: [113] cannot but be allowed to be of great forceBOOK II. Appendix. in the present argument. He tells us that the Brahmens, when they would form an astronomical system, go back to a remote epoch, and assume as the basis of their system, that all the heavenly bodies are in a line of mean conjunction with the sun in the beginning of Aries: Now the Indian tables actually suppose such a conjunction at the commencement of the Cali-yug; and in this they are at variance with the most exact of the modern astronomical tables. Is it not then in the highest degree probable that the era of the Cali-yug is an assumed, or fictitious epoch in the astronomy of the Hindus?

If the ancient epoch, in 3102 A. C. be fictitious, the force of many of the arguments for the antiquity of the Indian astronomy will be greatly diminished. For that reasoning must needs be a good deal vague and unsatisfactory which rests entirely on the quantity of an astronomical element of an uncertain date affected, as must be the case, by the errors of observation, of the limits of which we have no means of judging.

2. The equation of the sun’s centre, according to the Indian tables, is 2° 10½′; whereas the same quantity, according to modern observations, is only 1° 55½′. It is one consequence of the mutual disturbances of the planets that the excentricity of the solar orbit, on which the equation just mentioned depends, was greater in former ages than it is at the present time. From the quantity which the Hindus assign to this astronomical element, M. Bailly has drawn an argument in favour of the antiquity of the Indian tables, which, it must be confessed, is of great weight, when the difference of the Indian and European determinations is considered as arising from the gradual alteration of the planetary orbits. But Laplace has remarked that the equation, which in the Hindu Edition: current; Page: [114] BOOK II. Appendix.tables amounts to 2° 10½′, is really composed of two parts; namely, the equation of the sun’s centre, and the annual equation of the moon; both of which depend alike on the excentricity of the sun’s orbit, and complete their periods in the same interval of time. The Indians have naturally enough blended these two irregularities together; because, the great object of their astronomy being the calculation of eclipses, the relative places of the sun and moon are effected by the sum of both. The annual equation of the moon is nearly 11′: And, when added to the equation of the sun’s centre, the amount (2° 6½′,) does not differ much from the quantity set down in the Indian tables. The force of M. Bailly’s argument is therefore completely taken off.

But the remark of Laplace not only invalidates the argument for the antiquity, but it furnishes a powerful one on the opposite side. It is indeed in the situation of a perfidious ally, who not only deserts his friends, but marshals his whole force in the ranks of their opponents. The amount of the two irregularities which are blended together by the Indians is 2° 6½′ at the present time: but if we go back to the commencement of the Cali-yug, there must be added about 13½′, on account of the greater magnitude of the sun’s excentricity in that age above what it is in the present century; and thus we ought to have found 2° 20′, in place of 2° 10½′, in the Hindu tables, if their supposed antiquity be granted. It must be admitted that, in this instance at least, the Indian tables, when they are referred to the ancient epoch, are fairly at variance with the state of the heavens.

3. The quantities which the Indian tables assign to two other astronomical elements, viz. the mean motions of Jupiter and Saturn, have been found to agree almost exactly, not with what is observed at Edition: current; Page: [115] the present time, but with what the theory of gravityBOOK II. Appendix. shows would have been observed at the beginning of the Cali-yug. This curious coincidence between the Hindu tables and the most abstruse theory of modern Europe, was discovered by Laplace after the publication of the Astronomie Indienne: and it was communicated to M. Bailly in a letter inserted in the Journal des Sçavans. The argument which this circumstance furnishes in favour of the antiquity is not forgotten by Mr. Playfair; and it is also mentioned by the critic in the Edinburgh Review.

But the discovery of Laplace, although it cannot be disputed, is absolutely of no avail in establishing the antiquity of the Indian astronomy: for no inference can be drawn from it respecting the ancient epoch in 3102 A. C. which is not equally conclusive with regard to the modern epoch in 1491 of our era.

The theory of astronomy is indebted to Laplace for many interesting discoveries. Of these, two equations, affecting the mean motions of Jupiter and Saturn, are not the least important. These irregularities are periodical, and they both complete their courses in 917¾ years: And while one of them augments the motion of one of the planets, the other diminishes the motion of the other planet. It is a consequence of this discovery of Laplace, that, after an interval of time equal to 917¾ years; or equal to twice, or thrice, or any exact number of times that period; the mean motions of Jupiter and Saturn will return, to be precisely of the same quantity that they were at the beginning of the interval of time. Now, if from the epoch 1491, we reckon back a number of years, equal to five times the period of Laplace, we shall arrive at the year 3095 A. C., which is so near the ancient epoch of the Indians, as to entitle us to Edition: current; Page: [116] BOOK II. Appendix.infer, that an observer who lived in 1491, would agree in his determinations of the mean motions of Jupiter and Saturn, with an astronomer who had lived forty-six centuries before, at the beginning of the Cali-yug.

No reliance, then, can be placed on this argument, as a proof of the antiquity of the Hindu tables. On the contrary, if we admit, what it must be allowed is extremely probable, that the ancient epoch is a fictitious one, pointed out by superstition, or fixed upon for convenience in calculation, this argument will concur with the last in giving, to the astronomy of India, a modern date, rather than the high antiquity contended for.

4. M. Bailly has shown that the place of the aphelion of Jupiter’s orbit, determined by the Indian tables for the beginning of the Cali-yug, agrees with the modern tables of Lalande, when corrected by the theoretical equations of La Grange. The same thing is true of the quantity which the Hindus assign to the equation of Saturn’s centre. It requires but little scepticism to raise up doubts of the validity of arguments founded on such coincidences. In the first place, we are ignorant of the limits of the errors, that the Indian determinations may be susceptible of. In the second place, the dates of the observations on which the astronomical elements of the Indians depend are unknown and merely conjectural; yet these are necessary data for calculating the corrections that must be applied to the modern tables, to fit them for representing the ancient state of the heavens: In the third place, the theoretical formulas, themselves, by which the corrections are computed, cannot be supposed to enable us to go back with much accuracy, to so remote an epoch as the Cali-yug; a circumstance which is not owing to any imperfection of the theory, Edition: current; Page: [117] but to the want of our knowing with precision theBOOK II. Appendix. relative proportions of the masses of the planets that compose our system. When we reflect on these things, even the very exact coincidence of the Indian elements, with the calculated quantities (which is nearer than there is reasonable ground to expect) is apt to create a suspicion that the whole is owing to a happy combination of balancing errors.

But waving these objections, fairness of reasoning requires that we should lay no more stress on such coincidences, as those just mentioned, in favour of one side of the question, than we are willing to allow to discrepancies in similar circumstances, in support of the other side. M. Bailly allows that not any more of the elements of the planetary motions, contained in the Indian tables, agree so well with the determinations derived from the theory of gravity: and the quantities which are assigned to the equations of the centre, for Jupiter and Mars, are quite irreconcileable with the supposition of so remote an antiquity as the beginning of the Cali-yug. Such a contrariety of results justly invalidates the whole argument.

5. Another argument urged by the favourers of the antiquity of the Indian astronomy, is derived from the obliquity of the ecliptic, which the Indians state at 24°.

Both observation and theory concur in showing that the obliquity of the ecliptic has been diminishing slowly for many ages preceding the present. At the beginning of the Cali-yug, this astronomical element, according to theory, was 23° 51′, which is still short of what the Indians make it. Twelve centuries before the Cali-yug, the actual obliquity of the ecliptic, as derived from theory, would coincide with the Indian quantity within 2′: And, by going back Edition: current; Page: [118] BOOK II. Appendix.still further, the error may, no doubt, be entirely annihilated. Nothing, it must be confessed, can be more vague and unsatisfactory than this sort of reasoning.

Let us grant that the Hindus determined the obliquity of the ecliptic, 4300 years before our era, which supposes that they made an error of 2′ only: How are we to account for the strange circumstance, that a quantity, which they were at one time able to determine with so much accuracy, should remain unaltered for a period of nearly 6000 years; during which time, the error of the first determination has accumulated to half a degree? Are we to suppose that, immediately after this imaginary epoch, the art of astronomical observation disappeared, and was entirely lost? This, we know, could not be the case, because many other astronomical elements necessarily suppose observations of a comparatively modern date: as, for instance, the equation of the sun’s centre.

We shall account for the quantity which the Indians assign to the obliquity much more simply and naturally, if we trust to the authority of Mr. Bently. According to him, the Hindu astronomers (unless in cases where extraordinary accuracy is required) make it a rule, in observing, to take the nearest round numbers, rejecting fractional quantities: so that we have only to suppose that the observer who fixed the obliquity of the ecliptic at 24°, actually found it to be more than 23½°.

6. The length of the tropical year, as deduced from the Hindu tables, is 365d 5h 50′ 35″ which is 1′ 46″ longer than the determination of La Caille. This is certainly not a little accurate, and necessarily supposes some degree of antiquity, and the comparison of observations made at a great interval of time. We shall be the better able to form a judgment of the length of time which such a degree of accuracy Edition: current; Page: [119] may require, if we consider the errors of some of ourBOOK II. Appendix. older tables, published before the art of making astronomical instruments was brought to its present perfect state. In the Alphonsine Tables, published about 1252, the length of the tropical year, is

Copernicus (about 1530) makes it..3655496
Kepler (about 1627)............36554857½

These quantities are determined by observations distant from one another about 1500 or 1600 years: and the differences between them and the year of La Caille, is about the fourth part of the error of the Indians.

If we suppose that the length of the year found in the Hindu tables was actually determined by observation at the beginning of the Cali-yug, the error, which has been stated at 1′ 46″, may be reduced to 1′ 5″. The reason of this is that the year has been decreasing in duration, for all the intervening time, and the quantity, computed by theory, which must be added to the length of the year as observed in the present age, to have its length forty-nine centuries ago, is 40½″. Arguments of this kind carry but little force with them. For the time when the observations from which the length of the Indian year was deduced is totally unknown: and it seems highly probable, that the beginning of the Cali-yug is not an epoch settled by observation. Besides, the error of observation (which cannot be reduced under 1′ 5″) must be allowed to be, in this instance, nearly double of the correction applied: and there is nothing to prove that it may not amount to much more.

It is to be remarked that the Indian tables contain the siderial motion of the sun, and not his motion in respect of the moveable equinox as our tables do. If Edition: current; Page: [120] BOOK II. Appendix.we draw our comparison from the length of the siderial, instead of the tropical year, the result will not be so favourable to the accuracy of the Hindu astronomy. The siderial revolution of the sun, according to the Indians, is 365d6h 12′ 30″; according to modern observation it is 365d 6h 9′ 11″; and the error is 3′ 19″ nearly double the former error. The difference of those errors arises from the quantity which they assign to the precession of the equinoxes, which is 54″ instead of 50½″.

7. Of all the arguments in support of the antiquity of the Hindu astronomy, the strongest and most direct is that which is derived from an ancient zodiac brought from India by M. le Gentil. This argument therefore deserves to be particularly considered.

It must be observed, that the force of an argument such as this, which turns on the magnitude of an astronomical quantity that accumulates slowly, and is perceptible only after a long lapse of time, will entirely depend on the authenticity of the observations, or facts, from which the argument is drawn, and on the precision and accuracy with which they are recorded. Any thing uncertain, or arbitrary, or hypothetical, respecting these fundamental points, will greatly weaken the strength of the argument. We are told by Mr. Playfair, that the star Aldebaran has the longitude of 3° 20′ in the zodiac of M. le Gentil: and it is on the authenticity and precision of this fact, that the validity of his reasoning hinges. Now, if we turn to the passage of the Astronomie Indienne, which is cited by Mr. Playfair, it will appear that this position of Aldebaran is rather a conjecture, or hypothesis, of M. Bailly, than an authentic observation recorded with precision.

The Indian zodiac moves westward, at the same rate as the fixed stars, and it is divided into twenty-seven Edition: current; Page: [121] constellations, each of 13° 20′. The vernalBOOK II. Appendix. equinox was 54° to the east of the beginning of the zodiac at the commencement of the Cali-yug; and it was therefore in the fifth constellation, being 40′ more advanced than the fourth. The Indians mark the fourth constellation, which they call Rhonini, by five stars, of which the most easterly, or the most advanced in the zodiac, is the very brilliant star Aldebaran. These things being premised, M. Bailly thus proceeds: “Il est naturel que cette belle etoile ait marque la fin ou le commencement d’une constellation. Je suppose qu’elle marque en effet la fin de Rhonini, la quatrieme des constellations Indiennes, et le commencement de la cinquième; il resulte de cette supposition que l’etoile Aldebaran etoit placée dans le zodiaque Indien à 1s23° 20′ de l’origin du zodiaque.” It appears then that the whole of the argument, which is stated so strongly by Mr. Playfair, and by the critic in the Edinburgh Review, rests on the conjecture of M. Bailly; that Aldebaran was exactly placed at the end of the fourth, and the beginning of the fifth constellation in the Indian zodiac. For this, no sort of proof is offered, except the conspicuousness of the star, which is certainly one of the most brilliant in the heavens. Are we to suppose, for the sake of this argument, that the position of the Indian zodiac was entirely regulated by the star Aldebaran? For it must be admitted that when the beginning of one constellation is fixed, all the rest are thereby determined. Or, are we to suppose, what is still more improbable, that the beginning of the fifth constellation fell, by a lucky chance, exactly in the place of this conspicuous star?

But the Indians themselves afford us the means of correcting the supposition of M. Bailly. Mr. Bently tells us that Bromhu Gupta makes the longitude of Edition: current; Page: [122] BOOK II. Appendix.the star, Spica Virginis, in the moveable zodiac of the Hindus, 6s3°: According to De la Caille, the longitude of the same star in 1750, was

Of Aldebaran..........261747

which subtracted from 6s 3°, leaves 1s 18° 56′ 29″ for the longitude of Aldebaran in the Indian zodiac, instead of 1s 23° 20′ which it is according to the hypothesis of M. Bailly. The error amounts to 4° 23′ 31″: a quantity which is nowise inconsistent with the configuration of the constellation Rhonini, while it is sufficient to show that the Indians may have fixed the origin of their zodiac at the beginning of the Caliyug by calculating back from a modern epoch.

And indeed the Brahmens point out a modern epoch, a noted one in their astronomy, which is connected with the era of the Cali-yug by their precession, in the same manner that the modern epoch 1491 is connected with it by the mean motions. Mr. Bently tells us that, according to Varaha, the year 3601 of the Cali-yug (A. D. 499) began precisely at the vernal equinox: which implies that the origin of the Indian zodiac did then coincide with the equinoxial point. Now if we deduct 1s 24°, the Indian precession for 3600 years, from 12s, we shall have 10s 6° for the origin of the zodiac, reckoned eastward from the vernal equinox according to the practice of our astronomy: precisely as it comes out by the Indian tables.

The epoch 3601 of the Cali-yug is involved in all the Indian tables, insomuch that M. Bailly was led to discover it by calculation: And in fact, there is no authority for fixing the origin of the Indian zodiac in Edition: current; Page: [123] 10s6° at the era of the Cali-yug, except by reckoningBOOK II. Appendix. back from this epoch, according to the Hindu rule for the precession.

It appears then that the argument drawn from the zodiac of M. le Gentil, when closely considered, not only affords no evidence for the antiquity of the Indian astronomy, but rather favours the opinion that the beginning of the Cali-yug, is a fictitious epoch fixed by calculation. For it has been shown that the place of the origin of the Indian zodiac, at the era of the Cali-yug, is connected by the precession contained in the Hindu tables with the epoch 3601 of that age: and indeed all the epochs of the Brahmens, ancient as well as modern, are connected with the same fundamental epoch, in what regards the precession. The pretended position of the star Aldebaran is merely a conjecture of M. Bailly: and it is at variance with the place which Bromha Gupta, and other Indian astronomers, assign to the star “Spica Virginis.”

8. In the preceding observations, all the arguments that have been adduced in favour of the antiquity of the Indian astronomy, as far as the question is purely astronomical, have been considered, excepting those drawn from the places of the sun and moon, at the beginning of the Cali-yug, (at midnight between the 17th and 18th of February, of the year 3102 A. C.) With regard to the first of these, there is a difficulty which weighed so much with Mr. Playfair, as to induce him to set aside the argument entirely, and to lay no stress upon it. It is remarkable that the critic in the Edinburgh Review has brought forward this argument, without noticing the difficulty which, in Mr. Playfair’s opinion, rendered it inconclusive. After what has been urged to invalidate the opinion of M. Bailly, that the ancient epoch of the Indian tables was settled by observation, we shall be spared Edition: current; Page: [124] BOOK II. Appendix.the task of examining the remaining argument drawn from the place of the moon: allowing to this argument all the force which the most sanguine supporters of the antiquity can demand, it can have but little weight in opposition to the many strong and concurring indications of a contrary nature.1

10. If the author of the “Astronomie Indienne” has succeeded in establishing any of his positions, it is in proving that the astronomy of the Brahmens is original, or at least that it has not been borrowed from any of the astronomical systems that we are acquainted with. This was a preliminary point which his favourite system required him to examine: for if the astronomy of the Brahmens had turned out to have an obvious affinity to the astronomical systems of Arabia or Greece, it would have been in vain to bring proofs of its antiquity. But how does this prove the antiquity of the Indian astronomy? It only proves that the inhabitants of the eastern world, separated from the rest of mankind, have made the same progress to a certain extent, which, in the western world, has been carried to a far greater pitch of perfection.

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APPENDIX. N° II.: Colebrooke on Sanscrit Algebra.

Since the pages relating to the science of theBOOK II. Appendix. Hindus were sent to the press, has appeared a work entitled, “Algebra, with Arithmetic and Mensuration, from the Sanscrit of Brahmegupta and Bhascara; translated by Henry Thomas Colebrooke, Esq.” No person who takes an interest in the history of the human mind, can fail to recognize that Mr. Colebrooke has added largely to the former obligations he had conferred upon us, not only by laying open to European readers the most approved production on Algebra, in the Sanscrit language, but by the research and ability with which, in a preliminary dissertation, he has brought together the materials for forming an opinion, both respecting the origin of that science among the Hindus, and their merit in the prosecution of it.

On mathematics I must speak superficially, because my knowledge does not permit me to speak profoundly. Enough, I think, however, appears on the face of this subject, to enable me to resolve the only question, in the solution of which I am interested.

Mr. Colebrooke thinks it possible, nay probable, that the Hindus derived their first knowledge of algebra from the Greeks; that they were made acquainted with the writings of Diophantus, before they had of their own accord made any attempts in the science; and that it is in the accessions which Algebra received in their hands, that their title, if any, to our respect, must, in this particular, look Edition: current; Page: [126] BOOK II. Appendix.for its foundation.1 That the Hindus cultivated astronomy, and the branches of the art of calculation subservient to astronomy, solely for the purposes of astrology, is not disputed by any body, and least of all by Mr. Colebrooke. That candid and careful inquirer has brought to light a very important fact, that even on the subject of astrology, on which they might have been supposed original, the Hindus have been borrowers, and borrowers from the Greeks.2 “Joining, Edition: current; Page: [127] “ he says, “this indication, to that of the divisionBOOK II. Appendix. of the zodiac into twelve signs, represented by the same figures of animals, and named by words of the same import, with the zodiacal signs of the Greeks; and taking into consideration the analogy, though not identity, of the Ptolemaic system, and the Indian one of excentric deferents and epicycles, no doubt can be entertained that the Hindus received hints from the astronomical schools of the Greeks.”1

To draw, then, from the tracts which Mr. Colebrooke has translated, an inference to any high state of civilization among the Hindus, the three following propositions must, first, be established;

  • 1.That the Greeks did not teach to the Hindus as much of the science as the works in question contain:
  • 2.That the works are sufficiently old to render it impossible that the knowledge could have been borrowed from any modern source:
  • 3.That the accessions made to the knowledge derived from the Greeks are so difficult as not to have been made except by a people in a high state of civilization.

If all these propositions are not fully and entirely made out; if any weakness appears in the evidence of any one of them, the inference falls to the ground. Edition: current; Page: [128] BOOK II. Appendix.Upon inquiry, it seems to come out, that for not one of them is the evidence sufficient, or trustworthy.

1. That the Hindus received from the Greeks all that the latter knew, is admitted by Mr. Colebrooke. It is also admitted by Mr. Colebrooke, that “Diophantus was acquainted with the direct resolution of affected quadratic equations, and of indeterminate problems of the first degree; that he displays infinite sagacity and ingenuity in particular solutions; and that a certain routine is discernible in them.”1 It is unfortunately from Diophantus alone, that we derive any knowledge of the attainments of the Greeks in this branch of mathematics. It is no less unfortunate, that out of thirteen books which he wrote upon this subject, only six, or possibly seven, have been preserved. How does Mr. Colebrooke know, that these other books of Diophantus did not ascend to more difficult points of the science?2 He says, you have no right to infer that. True; but neither has he any right to infer the contrary. There is, however, another possibility and a still more important one, which Mr. Colebrooke has altogether overlooked. Supposing that nothing more of Algebra was known to the Edition: current; Page: [129] Greeks, at the time of Diophantus, than is found inBOOK II. Appendix. seven out of thirteen books of one author, which is a pretty handsome allowance; is it certain or is it probable, that when the Greeks had made so considerable a progress, they remained stationary? and, though the most ingenious and inventive people in the world, peculiarly at that time turned to mathematical and abstruse investigations, they made no addition, through several generations, to what was taught them by Diophantus? This argument appears to be conclusive.

2. Mr. Colebrooke has a very elaborate, complex, and in some parts obscure train of argument to prove the antiquity of certain points of algebraic knowledge among the Hindus. That it is not conclusive may be made to appear very certainly; it is only to be regretted that so many words are required.

The point is, to prove the antiquity of certain treatises which Mr. Colebrooke possesses; part under the name of Bhascara, one mathematician; part under that of Brahmegupta, another. He begins with Bhascara.

There are two treatises of astronomy, which bear the name of Bhascara, and which themselves affirm, that they were written at a particular time, corresponding to the middle of the twelfth century of the Christian era: Therefore the Treatise on Algebra, possessed by Mr. Colebrooke, was produced about the middle of the twelfth century. For this degree of antiquity, this is the whole of the evidence. Let us see what it is worth.

In the first place, the dates refer only to the astronomical treatises; not to the algebraic. The algebraic is indeed prefixed to the astronomic; but it is alleged by one of the commentators, and believed by Mr. Colebrooke, that it “may have been added subsequently.” Edition: current; Page: [130] BOOK II. Appendix.And then at what date subsequently, or by what hand, are questions to which we shall presently see that there is no answer.

In the next place, an important observation applies to the affirmations, with respect to their own age, found in the treatises on astronomy. From the known, the extravagant disposition of the Hindus to falsify with regard to dates, and make almost every thing with respect to their own transactions and attainments more ancient than it is, such asseverations, found in books, or transcripts of books, are no proof of what is affirmed; and only deserve a moment’s regard when fully corroborated by other circumstances. Not one circumstance is adduced to corroborate them by Mr. Colebrooke.

We come down, all at once, from the date of the work, to the date of the commentaries upon it. For none of them does Mr. Colebrooke claim a degree of antiquity beyond 200 or 300 years. Supposing this date to be correct, what reason has Mr. Colebrooke to infer that the work on which they comment, was, at the time of that commentary, 400 years old? None, whatsoever. In nine instances out of ten, the commentator would be sure to speak of it as old, whether it was so or not. But further, what reason have we to believe that the date which he ascribes to these commentaries is the real one? Again the answer is, None: none that will bear examination. The date of the oldest is assumed upon the strength of an astronomical example, describing a particular state of the heavens: But this may be perfectly accidental; and, besides, the Hindus have the power of calculating backwards. Of the next two, the date is assumed upon the strength of their own assertion: This we have shown is of no value. Of the next two the date is assumed upon the assertion Edition: current; Page: [131] of other books. This, if possible, is of less value.BOOK II. Appendix. There are three others to which no date is assigned: And there are two commentaries upon the astronomical treatises, the date of which too rests upon their own assertion.

Neither to the treatise, therefore, in the hands of Mr. Colebrooke, nor to the Commentaries upon it, has any thing appeared, in what we have yet mentioned, which enables us to assign, with any degree of certainty, any one date in preference to any other. We may, if we please, assume that all of them in a body are less than a century old.

Beside the Sanscrit commentaries, there is a Persian translation, of each of the two treatises of Bhascara. In general, what is testified by Persian is far more trustworthy, than what rests upon Sanscrit authority; because there was more publicity in the Persian writings; whereas the Sanscrit, being wholly secret, and confined to a small number of Brahmens, accustomed and prone to forgery, there is security for nothing which they had any interest, real or imaginary, to change. If there was any evidence, therefore, to fix the dates of the Persian translations, we could not reasonably dispute a degree of antiquity corresponding to them. I suspect that there is no evidence to fix the dates of these translations. Mr. Colebrooke says, the one was made by order of the emperor Acber, the other in the reign of Shah Jehan. But he subjoins no reason for this affirmation. The cause probably is, that he had none; and that he took the conjecture from some date written somewhere in the book, nobody knows at what time, nobody knows by whom.

Such is the whole of the evidence which is adduced by Mr. Colebrooke to prove the antiquity of Bhascara. “The age of his predecessors,” he adds, “cannot Edition: current; Page: [132] BOOK II. determined with equal precision:” that is to say, the evidence which can be adduced for the antiquity of the other treatise, that of Brahmegupta, is still less conclusive and less satisfactory. As we have seen that the better evidence proves nothing, I shall spare the reader a criticism to show, what he will easily infer, that the worse evidence proves as little; evidence, which, as it is tedious and intricate, it would require a criticism of some length to unfold.

3. We come to the third of the propositions; that if the Hindus had discovered as much of algebra, as they know beyond what appears in the fragment of Diophantus, they must have been placed in a high state of civilization. That this proposition cannot be maintained, I expect to find universally acknowledged. I transcribe the passage from Mr. Colebrooke, in which he sums up the claims and pretensions of the Hindus. “They possessed well the arithmetic of surd roots; they were aware of the infinite quotient resulting from the division of finite quantity by cipher; they knew the general resolution of equations of the second degree, and had touched upon those of higher denomination, resolving them in the simplest cases, and in those in which the solution happens to be practicable by the method which serves for quadratics; they had attained a general solution of indeterminate problems of the first degree; they had arrived at a method for deriving a multitude of solutions of answers to problems of the second degree from a single answer found tentatively.”1

In all this it appears, that the only point in which there can be a pretence for their having gone beyond what we have in the fragment of Diophantus, is the general solution of indeterminate problems of the first Edition: current; Page: [133] degree. But, to quote Dr. Hutton once more, “DiophantusBOOK II. Appendix. was the first writer on indeterminate problems. His book is wholly on this subject; whence it has happened that such kind of questions have been called by the name of Diophantine problems.” Now, take the point at which the solution of indeterminate problems appears in the fragment of Diophantus, and the point at which it appears in the Sanscrit treatise, of whatever age, in the hands of Mr. Colebrooke; the interval between the two points is so very small, and the step is so easily made, that most assuredly far more difficult steps in the progress of mathematical science have been made in ages of which the civilization has been as low as that of the Hindus. Thales lived at a period when Greece was still uncultivated, and but just emerging from barbarism; yet he excelled the Egyptians in mathematical knowledge, and astonished them by computing the height of the pyramids from the shadow. Pythagoras lived in the same age; and was a great inventor both in arithmetic and geometry: In astronomy he made great discoveries, and maintained, we are told, the true system of the universe; that the sun is in the centre, and makes all the planets revolve about him. Regiomontanus was born in 1456, when the human mind was still to a great degree immersed in the darkness of the middle ages: Yet of him, Mr. Playfair says, “Trigonometry, which had never been known to the Greeks as a separate science, and which took that form in Arabia, advanced, in the hands of Regiomontanus, to a great degree of perfection; and approached very near to the condition which it has attained at the present day: He also introduced the use of decimal fractions into arithmetic, and thereby gave to that scale its full extent, and to numerical computation the utmost degree Edition: current; Page: [134] BOOK II. Appendix.of simplicity and enlargement, which it seems capable of attaining.”1Cardan was born in 1501, when assuredly much had not yet been gained of what deserves the name of civilization. “Before his time,” says the same accomplished mathematician, “little advance had been made in the solution of any equations higher than the second degree. In 1545 was published the rule which still bears the name of Cardan; and which, at this day, marks a point in the progress of algebraic investigation, which all the efforts of succeeding analysts have hardly been able to go beyond.”2 Even Vieta, with all his discoveries, appeared at an early and ill-instructed age.

In looking at the pursuits of any nation, with a view to draw from them indications of the state of civilization, no mark is so important, as the nature of the End to which they are directed.

Exactly in proportion as Utility is the object of every pursuit, may we regard a nation as civilized. Exactly in proportion as its ingenuity is wasted on contemptible or mischievous objects, though it may be, in itself, an ingenuity of no ordinary kind, the nation may safely be denominated barbarous.

According to this rule, the astronomical and mathematical sciences afford conclusive evidence against the Hindus. They have been cultivated exclusively for the purposes of astrology; one of the most irrational of all imaginable pursuits; one of those which most infallibly denote a nation barbarous; and one of those which it is the most sure to renounce, in proportion as knowledge and civilization are attained.

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General Reflections.

TO ascertain the true state of the Hindus in theBOOK II. Chap. 10. scale of civilization, is not only an object of curiosity in the history of human nature; but to the people of Great Britain, charged as they are with the government of that great portion of the human species, it is an object of the highest practical importance. No scheme of government can happily conduce to the ends of government, unless it is adapted to the state of the people for whose use it is intended. In those diversities in the state of civilization, which approach the extremes, this truth is universally acknowledged. Should any one propose, for a band of roving Tartars, the regulations adapted to the happiness of a regular and polished society, he would meet with neglect or derision. The inconveniences are only more concealed and more or less diminished, when the error relates to states of society which more nearly resemble one another. If the mistake in regard to Hindu society, committed by the British nation, and the British government, be very great; if they have conceived the Hindus to be a people of high civilization, while they have in reality made but a few of the earliest steps in the progress to civilization, it is impossible that in many of the measures pursued for the government of that people, the mark aimed at should not have been wrong.

The preceding induction of particulars, embracing Edition: current; Page: [136] BOOK II. Chap. 10.the religion, the laws, the government, the manners, the arts, the sciences, and literature, of the Hindus, affords, it is presumed, the materials from which a correct judgment may, at last, be formed of their progress toward the high attainments of civilized life. That induction, and the comparisons to which it led, have occupied us long, but not longer, it is hoped, than the importance of the subject demanded, and the obstinacy of the mistakes which it was the object of it to remove.

The reports of a high state of civilization in the East were common even among the civilized nations of ancient Europe. But the acquaintance of the Greeks and Romans with any of the nations of Asia, except the Persians alone, was so imperfect, and among the circumstances which they state so many are incredible and ridiculous, that in the information we receive from them on this subject, no confidence can be reposed.

Of the modern Europeans, the individuals who first obtained a tolerable acquaintance with any of the nations of the East, were the popish missionaries, chiefly the Jesuits, who selected China for the scene of their apostolical labours. Visiting a people who already composed a vast society, and exhibited many, though fallacious, marks of riches, while Europe as yet was every where poor; and feeling, as it was natural for them to feel, that the more they could excite among their countrymen an admiration of the people whom they described, the greater would be the portion of that flattering sentiment, which would redound upon themselves, these missionaries were eager to conceive, and still more eager to propagate, the most hyperbolical ideas of the arts, the sciences, and institutions of the Chinese. As it is almost always more pleasing, and certainly far more easy, to believe, than Edition: current; Page: [137] to scrutinize; and as the human mind in Europe, at BOOK II. Chap. 10.the time when these accounts were first presented, was much less powerful, and penetrating, than it is at present, they were received with almost implicit credulity. The influence of this first impression lasted so long, that even to Voltaire, a keen-eyed and sceptical judge, the Chinese, of almost all nations, are the objects of the loudest and most unqualified praise.1 The state of belief in Europe has, through the scrutiny of facts, been of late approximating to sobriety on the attainments of the Chinese, and a short period longer will probably reduce it to the scale of reason and fact.2

It was under circumstances highly similar, that the earliest of the modern travellers drew up and presented their accounts of Hindustan. The empire of the Moguls was in its meridian splendour. It extended over the principal part of India; and the court, the army, and the establishments of Akber or Aurungzebe, exhibited that gorgeous exterior, that air of grandeur and power, which were well calculated to impose upon the imagination of an unphilosophical observer.3

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BOOK II. Chap. 10.It was unfortunate that a mind so pure, so warm in the pursuit of truth, and so devoted to oriental learning, as that of Sir William Jones, should have adopted the hypothesis of a high state of civilization in the principal countries of Asia. This he supported with all the advantages of an imposing manner, and a brilliant reputation; and gained for it so great a credit, that for a time it would have been very difficult to obtain a hearing against it.

Beside the illusions with which the fancy magnifies the importance of a favourite pursuit, Sir William was actuated by the virtuous design of exalting the Hindus in the eyes of their European masters; and thence ameliorating the temper of the government; while his mind had scope for error in the vague and indeterminate notions which it still retained of the signs of social improvement. The term civilization was by him, as by most men, attached to no fixed and definite assemblage of ideas. With the exception of some of the lowest states of society in which human beings have been found, it was applied to nations in all the stages of social advancement.1

It is not easy to describe the characteristics of the different stages of social progress. It is not from one feature, or from two, that a just conclusion can be Edition: current; Page: [139] drawn. In these it sometimes happens that nations resemble BOOK II. Chap. 10.which are placed at stages considerably remote. It is from a joint view of all the great circumstances taken together, that their progress can be ascertained; and it is from an accurate comparison, grounded on these general views, that a scale of civilization can be formed, on which the relative position of nations may be accurately marked.

Notwithstanding all that modern philosophy had performed for the elucidation of history, very little had been attempted in this great department, at the time when the notions of Sir William Jones were formed;1 and so crude were his ideas on the subject, that the rhapsodies of Rousseau on the virtue and happiness of the savage life surpass not the panegyrics Edition: current; Page: [140] BOOK II. Chap. 10.of Sir William on the wild, comfortless, predatory, and ferocious state of the wandering Arabs. “Except,” says he, “when their tribes are engaged in war, they spend their days in watching their flocks and camels, or in repeating their native songs, which they pour out almost extempore, professing a contempt for the stately pillars and solemn buildings of the cities, compared with the natural charms of the country, and the coolness of their tents: thus they pass their lives in the highest pleasure of which they have any conception, in the contemplation of the most delightful objects, and in the enjoyment of perpetual spring.”1 “If courtesy,” he observes, “and urbanity, a love of poetry and eloquence, and the practice of exalted virtues, be a just measure of perfect society, we have certain proof that the people of Arabia, both on plains and in cities, in republican and monarchical states, were eminently civilized for many ages before their conquest of Persia.”2 We need not wonder if the man, who wrote and delivered this, found the Hindus arrived at the highest civilization. Yet the very same author, in the very same discourse, and speaking of the same people, declared, “I find no trace among them till their emigration of any philosophy but ethics;”3 and even of this he says, “The distinguishing virtues which they boasted of inculcating, were a contempt of riches and even of death; but in the age of the seven poets, their liberality had deviated into mad profusion, their courage into ferocity, and their patience into an obstinate spirit of encountering fruitless dangers.”9 He adds; “The only arts in which they pretended to excellence (I except Edition: current; Page: [141] horsemanship and military accomplishments) wereBOOK II. Chap. 10.poetry and rhetoric.”1 It can hardly be affirmed that these facts are less than wonderful as regarding a people “eminently civilized;” a people exhibiting “a just measure of perfect society.”2

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BOOK II. Chap. 10.Among the causes which excited to the tone of eulogy adopted with regard to the Hindus, one undoubtedly was, the affectation of candour. Of rude and uncultivated nations, and also of rude and uncultivated individuals, it is a characteristic, to admire only the system of manners, of ideas, and of institutions to which they have been accustomed, despising others. The most cultivated nations of Europe had but recently discovered the weakness of this propensity: Novelty rendered exemption from it a source of distinction: To prove his superiority to the prejudices of home, by admiring and applauding the manners and institutions of Asia, became, therefore, in the Edition: current; Page: [143] breast of the traveller, a motive of no inconsiderable BOOK II. Chap. 10.power.1

The nations of Europe became acquainted nearly about the same period, with the people of America, and the people of Hindustan. Having contemplated in the one, a people without fixed habitations, without political institutions, and with hardly any other arts than those indispensably necessary for the preservation of existence, they hastily concluded, upon the sight of another people, inhabiting great cities, cultivating the soil, connected together by an artificial system of subordination, exhibiting monuments of great antiquity, cultivating a species of literature, exercising arts and obeying a monarch whose sway was extensive, and his court magnificent, that they had suddenly passed from the one extreme of civilization to the other. The Hindus were compared with the savages of America; the circumstances in which they differed from that barbarous people, were the circumstances in which they corresponded with the most cultivated nations; other circumstances were overlooked; and it seems to have been little suspected that conclusions too favourable could possibly be drawn.2

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The progress of knowledge, and the force of observation, demonstrated the necessity of regarding the actual state of the Hindus as little removed from that of half-civilised nations. The saving hypothesis, however, was immediately adopted, that the situation in which the Hindus are now beheld is a state of degradation; that formerly they were in a state of high civilization; from which they had fallen through the miseries of foreign conquest, and subjugation.

This was a theory invented to preserve as much as actual observation would allow to be preserved, of a pre-established and favourite creed. It was not an inference from what was already known. It was a gratuitous assumption. It preceded inquiry, and no inquiry was welcome, but that which yielded matter for its support.1

To this purpose were adapted the pretensions of Edition: current; Page: [145] the Brahmens, who spoke of an antecedent period, BOOK II. Chap. 10.when the sovereigns of Hindustan were masters of great power and great magnificence. It was of importance to weigh these pretensions; because the rude writers of rude nations have almost always spoken of antecedent times as deserving all the praise with which their powers of rhetoric or song could exalt them. If the descriptions of antiquity presented by the Brahmens bore the consistent marks of truth and reality, a degree of intrinsic evidence would be attached to them. If these descriptions flew wide of all resemblance to human affairs, and were nothing but wild unnatural fictions, they would be so far from proving an antecedent state of knowledge and civilization, that they would prove the reverse. And, had the Hindus remained fixed from the earliest ages in the semibarbarous state, it is most certain that the Brahmens would have given to us just such accounts of antiquity as those we have actually received at their hands.

As the Hindus have enlightened us by no record of antecedent events, and we thus have no immediate proof of their state of civilization, in the times that are past, the only sure ground of inference is the laws and institutions which they framed, the manners they adopted, and the arts and sciences to which they attended. If these great circumstances were at variance with the existing state of society, but adapted to one more advanced, the inference would certainly be a probable one, that to a period when society was in that improved condition, they really owed their birth. But in regard to the Hindus, their laws and institutions are adapted to the very state of society which those who visit them now behold. They are laws and institutions which, so far from importing any more perfect state of society, seem entirely inconsistent Edition: current; Page: [146] BOOK II. Chap. 10.with it; such as could neither begin, nor exist, under any other than one of the rudest and weakest states of the human mind. As the manners, the arts and sciences of the ancient Hindus are entirely correspondent with the state of their laws and institutions, every thing we know of the ancient state of Hindustan conspires to prove that it was rude.

It is another important fact, that, if the Hindus had ever been placed in this pretended state of civilization, we know of no such period of calamity, as was sufficient to reduce them to a state of ignorance and barbarity. The conquest of Hindustan, effected by the Mahomedan nations, was to no extraordinary degree sanguinary or destructive. It substituted sovereigns of one race to sovereigns of another, and mixed with the old inhabitants a small proportion of new; but it altered not the texture of society; it altered not the language of the country; the original inhabitants remained the occupants of the soil; they continued to be governed by their own laws and institutions; nay, the whole detail of administration, with the exception of the army, and a few of the more prominent situations, remained invariably in the hands of the native magistrates and officers.2 The few occasions of the persecution, to which, under the reigns of one or two bigoted sovereigns, they were subjected on the score of religion, were too short and too partial to produce any considerable effects.16

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When we look for the particulars of those pretended BOOK II. Chap. 10.reigns of mighty kings, the universal lords of India, under whom science flourished, and civilization rose to the greatest height, we meet with nothing but fable, more wild, and inconsistent, and hyperbolical, than is any where else to be found. From this no rational conclusion can be drawn, except that it is the production of a rude and irrational age. Bharat, or Bharata, is said to have been the first universal sovereign of India, which from him derived its name; India being, in the language of the natives, Bharata Versh. In this, however, as usual, the Hindu accounts contradict themselves, since Bharat is represented Edition: current; Page: [148] BOOK II. Chap. preceding Rama, the son of Cush, who, according to Sir William Jones, might have established the first regular government in India.1 Judhishter is another of these universal sovereigns; but of him even the origin is allegorical; he is the son of Dherma, or the god of justice, and he reigned 27,000 years. The name, with which, chiefly, the idea of the universal sovereignship of India, and the glory of art and science, is combined, is that of Vicramaditya. Of him, let us hear what is represented; and then we shall be enabled to judge. “The two periods,” says Captain Wilford, “of Vicrama’ditya and Saliva’ha’na are intimately connected; and the accounts we have of these two extraordinary personages are much confused, teeming with contradictions and absurdities to a surprising degree. In general the Hindus know but of one Vicrama’ditya; but the learned acknowledge four; and when, at my request, they produced written authorities, I was greatly surprised to find no less than eight or nine. —Vicrama’ditya made a desperate tapasya, in order to obtain power and a long life from Ca’li’devi, and as she seemingly continued deaf to his entreaties, he was going to cut off his own head, when she appeared, and granted him undisturbed sway over all the world for one thousand years, after which a divine child, born of a virgin, and the son of the great Tacshaca, carpenter or artist, would deprive him both of his kingdom and of his life. This would happen in the year of the Cali yug, 3101, answering to the first of the Christian era. The history of these nine worthies, but more particularly when considered as a single individual, is a most crude and undigested mass of heterogeneous legends, taken from the apocryphal gospel of the infancy of Christ, the tales of the Rabbis and Talmudists Edition: current; Page: [149] concerning Solomon, with some particulars BOOK II. Chap. 10.about Muhammed; and the whole is jumbled together with some of the principal features of the history of the Persian kings of the Sassanian dynasty. Thus Vicrama is made contemporary with Solomon; and like him, he is said to have found the great mantra, spell or talisman; through which he ruled over the elements, and spirits of all denominations, who obeyed him like slaves. Like Solomon he had a most wonderful throne, supported and adorned with lions, who are endued with reason and speech. We read in the Vetala-pancha-vinsati, that it was through the assistance of the great Vetala, or devil, that two Vicrama’dityas obtained the empire of the world, a long life, with unlimited sway. They performed the pújá in his honour, offered sacrifices, and in short dedicated or gave themselves up to him.”1 On this foundation of historical matter is built the magnificent fabric of a great and universal monarchy, the reign of the arts and sciences, all that embellishes human life, and augments the human powers. Such being the premises, and such the conclusion, are they not admirably adapted to one another? The legend speaks, and that loudly, and distinctly, what it is; the creation of a rude and uncultivated fancy, exerting itself to rouse the wonder of a rude and uncultivated age, by a recital of actions, powers, and events, swelled beyond the measure of human nature; profiting by all the hints which the legends or history of other nations supplied to furnish out its story, and by appropriating the wonderful deeds of all the world to gratify the barbarous vanity of the people to whom the story was addressed. If the historian gave to his hero a reign of a thousand years; it was quite in the same temper, and conducive Edition: current; Page: [150] BOOK II. Chap. the same end, to give him the sovereignty of all India; and not only of all India, but, as we see was the fact, the sovereignty of the whole world. This is precisely the course which a wild and ignorant mind, regarding only the wonder which it has it in view to excite, naturally, in such cases, and almost universally, pursues. Such legends, if they existed in myriads, are no more a proof of a monarchy common to all India, which they do not assert, than of the universal monarchy of the whole world, or of the thousands or the myriads of years to one reign, which they expressly assert.1

The very lists which are found in the books of the Hindus, filled up with the names of successive monarchs, Mr. Wilford assures us, are the creation of the fancies of the writers, and are formed without any reference to facts. In enumerating the authorities, from which he drew his materials, in the essay on Vicramaditya and Salivahana, he says, “The fourth list has been translated into all the dialects of India, and new-modelled at least twenty different ways, according to the whims and pre-conceived ideas of every individual, who chose to meddle with it. It is, however, the basis and ground work of modern history Edition: current; Page: [151] among the Hindus; as in the Khulásetul Tuwarie, BOOK II. Chap. 10.and the Tadkeratussulatin. The latter treatise is a most perfect specimen of the manner of writing history in India; for, excepting the above list, almost every thing else is the production of the fertile genius of the compiler. In all these lists the compilers and revisers seem to have had no other object in view, but to adjust a certain number of remarkable epochs. This being once effected, the intermediate spaces are filled up with names of kings not to be found any where else, and most probably fanciful. Otherwise they leave out the names of those kings of whom nothing is recorded, and attribute the years of their reign in some among them better known, and of greater fame. They often do not scruple to transpose some of those kings, and even whole dynasties; either in consequence of some pre-conceived opinion, or owing to their mistaking a famous king for another of the same name. It was not uncommon with ancient writers, to pass from a remote ancestor to a remote descendant; or from a remote predecessor to a remote successor, by leaving out the intermediate generations or successions, and sometimes ascribing the years of their reigns to a remote successor or predecessor. In this manner the lists of the ancient kings of Persia, both by oriental writers, and others in the west, have been compiled: and some instances of this nature might be produced from Scripture. I was acquainted lately, at Benares, with a chronicler of that sort; and in the several conversations I had with him, he candidly acknowledged, that he filled up the intermediate spaces between the reigns of famous kings, with names at a venture; that he shortened or lengthened their reigns at pleasure; and that it was understood, that his predecessors had taken the same liberties. Through their emendations Edition: current; Page: [152] BOOK II. Chap. 10.and corrections, you see plainly a total want of historical knowledge and criticism; and sometimes some disingenuity is but too obvious. This is, however, the case with the sections on futurity in the Bhagavat, Vaya, Vishu, and Brahmanda Puranas; which with the above lists constitute the whole stock of historical knowledge among the Hindus; and the whole might be comprised in a few quarto pages of print.”1

Such is the mode, in which the authors of the Puranas supply themselves with a convenient quantity of ordinary kings: Mr. Wilford affords most satisfactory information with regard to the manner in which they further supply themselves with extraordinary ones. “The propensity,” says he, “of the Hindus, to appropriate every thing to themselves, is well known. We have noticed before their claims to Bahram-Gῦr and his descendants; and in the same manner they insist that Acbar was a Hindu in a former generation. The proximity of the time, in which this famous emperor lived, has forced them, however, to account for this in the following manner. There was a holy Brahmen, who wished very much to become emperor of India; and the only practicable way for him was to die first, and be born again. For this purpose be made a desperate Tapasya, wishing to remember then every thing he knew in his present generation. This could not be fully granted; but he was indulged with writing upon a brass plate a few things which he wished more particularly to remember; then he was directed to bury the plate, and promised that he would remember the place in the next generation. Mucunda, for such was his name, went to Allahabad, buried the plate, and then burned Edition: current; Page: [153] himself. Nine months after he was born in theBOOK II. Chap. 10.character of Acbar, who, as soon as he ascended the throne, went to Allahabad, and easily found the spot where the brass plate was buried. Thus the Hindus claim Muhammed and Acbar as their own; exactly like the Persians of old, who insisted that Alexander was the son of one of their kings; so that after all they were forced to submit to their countrymen only.”1

The account of the claim to Bahram-Gῦr, mentioned in the beginning of the preceding passage, is extremely important on the present occasion; as it shows us that Vicramaditya, whom the legend makes sovereign of the world, and the believers in the great Hindu monarchy take for emperor of Hindustan, was in reality a King of Persia, borrowed by the Brahmens, from their propensity to appropriate every thing remarkable which they heard of in the world. “One of these Vicramas,” says Mr. Wilford, speaking of the different persons in whom this Vicramaditya appears, “was really a Sassanian Prince: and the famous Shabour or Sapor, of that dynasty, who took the emperor Valens prisoner.”2 The story is as follows: “In Gurjjara-mandalam are the Sabharamati and Mahi rivers; between them is a forest, in which resided Tamralipta-rĭshi, whose daughter married King Tamrasena. They had six male children and one daughter called Mandava-rec’ha. The King had two young lads, called Devas’arma and Havis’arma, whose duty chiefly was to wash, every day, the clothes of their master, in the waters of the nearest river. One day, as Devas’arma went, by himself, for that purpose, he heard a voice, saying, Edition: current; Page: [154] BOOK II. Chap. 10.Tell King Tamrasena to give me his daughter; should he refuse me he will repent it. The lad on his return mentioned the whole to his master; who would not believe it, and the next day sent Havis’arma to the river, who heard the same voice also, with the threats in case of a refusal. The King was astonished; and going himself heard the voice also. On his return he assembled his council; and after consulting together, it was agreed, that the King should go again, and ask him who he was. The supposed spirit being questioned, answered, I am a Gand’harva, or heavenly choirister; who, having incurred Indra’s displeasure, was doomed to assume the shape of an ass. I was born in that shape, in the house of a cumbhacara, or potter, in your capital city; and I am daily roving about in quest of food. The King said that he was very willing to give him his daughter; but that he conceived that such an union was altogether impossible while he remained in that shape. The Gand’harva said, Trouble not yourself about that; comply with my request, and it shall be well with you. If, says the King, you are so powerful, turn the walls of my city, and those of the houses, into brass; and let it be done before sun-rise to-morrow. The Gand’harva agreed to it, and the whole was completed by the appointed time; and the King of course gave him his daughter. This Gand’harva’s name was Jayanta, the son of Brahma. When cursed by Indra, he humbled himself; and Indra relenting, allowed him to resume his human shape in the night time; telling him that the curse should not be done away, till somebody had burned his ass-like frame. The mother of the damsel spied them once in the night; and, to her great joy, found that the Gand’harva dallied with her daughter in a human shape. Rejoiced at this discovery, she looked for his Edition: current; Page: [155] ass-like form, and burned it. Early in the morning,BOOK II. Chap. 10.the Gand’harva looked for this body of his, and found that it had been destroyed. He returned immediately to his wife, informing her of what had happened, and that his curse being at an end, he was obliged to return to heaven, and leave her. He informed her also that she was with child by him, and that the name of the child was to be Vicramaditya.”1 After the statement of some other particulars, Mr. Wilford says; “This is obviously the history of Yesdegird, son of Bahram-Gῦr, or Bahram the ass, King of Persia: the grand features are the same, and the times coincide perfectly. The amours of Bahram-Gῦr, with an Indian princess, are famous all over Persia, as well as in India.”2 Such are the accounts of Vicramaditya, from which we are called upon for our belief of an universal monarchy, and a period of civilization and knowledge.3

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BOOK II. Chap. 10.Our experience of human nature, and the phenomena which are exhibited under the manners, attainments, Edition: current; Page: [157] and institutions of the Hindus, are the onlyBOOK II. Chap. 10.materials from which a rational inference can be drawn. It is by no means impossible for a people, who have passed but a small number of stages in the career of civilization, to be united, extensively, under one government, and to remain steady for a great length of time in that situation. The empire of China is one conspicuous proof; the ancient kingdom of Persia, which for several ages stood exempt from revolution, is another. The Ottoman empire may be considered as a similar instance. And the Russians, a Edition: current; Page: [158] BOOK II. Chap. 10.barbarous people, have long formed a very extensive monarchy. It would, therefore, be far from evidence of any higher civilization, among the Hindus, than what they now manifest, had the existence of a great monarchy been proved. Among uncivilized nations, however, it is most common to find a perpetual succession of revolutions, and communities in general small; though sometimes a prince or individual with uncommon talents arises; and, acquiring power, extends his authority over several of those communities; or even, as in the case of Charlemagne, over a great number; while, after his death, the large empire which he had erected gradually dissolves, till the whole, or the greater part, is re-divided into small communities as before. Every thing which the Europeans have seen in Hindustan conspires to prove that such subdivision of communities, and occasional and temporary extensions of power in particular hands, have composed the history of that country. The Mahratta empire affords a striking example of those changes which seem natural to the circumstances in which the people are placed. Within the period of the modern intercourse of the Europeans with Hindustan, an aspiring individual was enabled to extend his authority, partly by persuasion, partly by force, first over one district, and then over another, till at last he united under his command an extensive empire, composed chiefly of the separate and disjointed communities, who occupied the mountainous districts in the western and central parts of Hindustan.1 Soon was this empire broken into several different governments, the Edition: current; Page: [159] owners of which hardly acknowledged even a nominalBOOK II. Chap. 10.homage to the throne of Sevagee; and had they been left to themselves, free from the irresistible operation of the British power, the empire of the Mahrattas, in all probability, would have been resolved, ere this time, into its primitive elements. Even the empire of the Moguls, itself; though erected on firmer foundations than it is reasonable to suppose that any Hindu monarchy ever enjoyed; though supported by a foreign force; and acted upon by peculiar motives for maintaining undivided power, had no sooner attained its greatest extension by the conquests of Aurungzebe, than it began immediately to fall to pieces; and a single century beheld it in fragments.

The monuments of the ancient state of Hindustan conspire in giving indication of a troubled scene. Every ancient writing, which bears any reference to the matter of history, the historical poems, the Puranas, hold up to view a state of society, the reverse of tranquil; perpetual broils, dethronements, injustice, wars, conquests, and bloodshed. Among the most important of all the documents of antiquity found in Hindustan, are the inscriptions, declaratory of grants of land, made by the ancient princes of the country. These princes are so far from appearing to have presided over a peaceful land, that they are all represented, as victorious warriors; and as having been surrounded by enemies, over whom they have triumphed, and whom they have severely chastised.1 Almost all the princes mentioned in these inscriptions, Edition: current; Page: [160] BOOK II. Chap. 10.princes in all the parts of India, and not pretended to have been more than the sovereigns of some particular district, are described as the conquerors and sovereigns of the whole world.1

Of the unsparing and destructive cruelty which accompanied the perpetual wars and conquests of the Hindus, among other proofs, the following may be considered as strong. In the inscription found at Tanna, part of the panegyric bestowed upon the donor Prince, is in these words; “Having raised up his slain foe on his sharp sword, he so afflicted the women in the hostile palaces, that their forelocks fell disordered, their garlands of bright flowers dropped from their necks on the vases of their breasts, and the black lustre of their eyes disappeared; a warrior, the plant of whose fame grows up over the temple of Brahma’s egg [the universe] from the-repeated-watering-of-it-with-the-drops-that-fell-from-the-eyes-of-the-wives-of-his-slaughtered-foe.”2 It would be in the highest degree absurd to reject this, were it even a solitary instance, as evidence of a general fact; because the exterminating ferocity is described as matter of the highest praise; and panegyric, to be what it is, must be conformable to the ideas of the people to whom it is addressed.30

The picture which Major Rennel, looking only to a limited period, drew of the state of Hindustan, may Edition: current; Page: [161] be taken, agreeably to every thing which we know BOOK II. Chap. 10.of Hindustan, as the picture of it, to the remotest period of its history. Rebellions, massacres, and barbarous conquests, make up the history of this fair country, (which to an ordinary observer seems destined to be the paradise of the world,)—the immediate effect of the mad ambition of conquering more than can be governed by one man.”1 “Revolutions,” (says Sonnerat, directing his attention to the coast of Malabar, which had been little affected by foreign conquest) “have been more rapid in this than in any other part of the globe. A daring robber, possessed Edition: current; Page: [162] BOOK II. Chap. 10.of policy and courage, in a short time gives laws to the whole coast, but in his turn becomes tributary to a bolder villain, who marching in the same path, subjects him to that lot he had inflicted on others.”1

Notwithstanding, in other respects, the extreme scantiness and uncertainty of the materials for any inferences except the most general, in regard to the ancient state of Hindustan, there is a great body of evidence to prove the habitual division of the country into a number of moderate, and most frequently, petty sovereignties and states.2 In the dramatic poem Sacontala, the daughter of the hermit asks the royal stranger, who had visited their consecrated grove; “What imperial family is embellished by our noble guest? What is his native country? Surely it must be afflicted by his absence from it?” The question undoubtedly implied that there were more royal families than one to which he might belong; and these at no remarkable distance; since the stranger was known to have come into the forest in the course Edition: current; Page: [163] of a hunting excursion. In the Hetopadesa mentionBOOK II. Chap. 10. is made of a variety of princes. Thus in the compass of a few pages, we are told; “In the country of Calinga is a prince, named Rucmangada, who, advancing with preparations to subdue the adjacent regions, has fixed his station near the river Chandrabhaga.”2 Again, “In the country of Canyacuja is a prince named Virasena.”2 And further, “There is near the Bhagirathi a city, named Pataliputra, in which lived a prince named Sundersana.”3 In the inscription, formerly quoted, found at Monghir, and bearing date 23 years B. C. there is sufficient proof of the division of Hindustan into numerous kingdoms. Gopaal, the prince or the father of the prince by whom the grant is made, is panegyrized as the conqueror of many princes; and his son is, “He, who marching through many countries, making conquests, arrived with his elephants, in the forests of the mountains Beendhyo, where seeing again their longlost families, they mixed their mutual tears; and who going to subdue other princes, his young horses meeting their females at Komboge, they mutually neighed for joy:—who conquered the earth from the source of the Ganges as far as the well-known bridge which was constructed by the enemy of Dosaesyo, from the river of Luckeecool as far as the ocean of the habitation of Booroon.”4 If this prince overran the peninsula, and conquered a multitude of princes, the peninsula must have been possessed by a multitude of princes before. And we may form an idea of the exaggeration used in the account of his victories, when we are told that his father Gopaal was king of the world, and possessed of two brides, the earth and her wealth.5 The conquests by those princes, even when they took place, were but inroads, never to any considerable extent, effecting a durable possession. This Edition: current; Page: [164] BOOK II. Chap. 10. prince himself we are told, “when he had completed his conquests, released all the rebellious princes he had made captive; and each returning to his own country laden with presents, reflected upon this generous deed, and longed to see him again.”1 The laws frequently afford evidence to the same purpose. The penalty, so frequently imposed, of banishment from one kingdom to another, proves the vicinity of different kingdoms.2 The following is another instance in point: “If a lender of money says to a person, A debt due to me is outstanding in your hands, and that person denies the debt, if at that time the bond is not in the lender’s hands, but should be in some other kingdom, then, until he brings the bond from such other kingdom, the suit shall not be determined.”3 Edition: current; Page: [165] In the code of Menu is a series of rules for behaviourBOOK II. Chap. 10. to neighbouring princes; sufficiently proving, that Hindustan was in that state of subdivison which rendered these rules pertinent and useful.1 These articles, to which there is nothing whatsoever opposed, but the absurd fables of the Brahmens, constitute a degree of evidence to which we may with sufficient confidence attach our belief.2

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BOOK II. Chap. 10.We have already seen, in reviewing the Hindu form of government, that despotism, in one of its simplest and least artificial shapes, was established in Hindustan, and confirmed by laws of Divine authority. We have seen likewise, that by the division of the people into castes, and the prejudices which the detestable views of the Brahmens raised to separate them, a degrading and pernicious system of subordination was established among the Hindus, and that the vices of such a system were there carried to a more destructive height than among any other people.1 And we have seen that by a system of priestcraft, built upon the most enormous and tormenting superstition that ever harassed and degraded any Edition: current; Page: [167] portion of mankind, their minds were enchained moreBOOK II. Chap. 10. intolerably than their bodies; in short that, despotism and priestcraft taken together, the Hindus, in mind and body, were the most enslaved portion of the human race. Sir William Jones, in his preface to the translation of the Institutes of Menu, says, that this code exhibits “a system of despotism and priestcraft, both indeed limited by law, but artfully conspiring to give mutual support, though with mutual checks.” The despotism and priestcraft of the system were, it seems, too glaring to be mistaken or denied; but, in order to palliate the deformity, Sir William is betrayed into nonsense. A despotism, he says, limited by law; as if a despotism limited by law were not a contradiction in terms; what is limited by law, so far as so limited, being not a despotism. A priestcraft, he also says, limited by law: A law of which the priests themselves were the sole makers, and the sole interpreters! A despotism, and a priestcraft, he says, with mutual checks. Yes, truly; it was the interest of the priestcraft to check the despotism, in all encroachments on the priestcraft; and it was the interest of the despotism to check the priestcraft, in all encroachments on the despotism: But who checked the despotism and the priestcraft in oppressing the people? Alas! no one. It was the interest of the despotism and the priestcraft to join together in upholding their common tyranny over the people; and it must be allowed that so commanding a motive had all the influence upon their conduct which it might be expected to have. Apply this remark of the splendid orientalist to the Turks: There is a despotism and a priestcraft, limited, (if we may so abuse the term,) and still more strictly limited, by law; for the Moslem laws are more precise and accurate than those of the Hindus: There, too, the Edition: current; Page: [168] BOOK II. Chap. 10. despotism and priestcraft check one another: But has all this prevented the Turkish despotism and priestcraft from being the scourge of human nature; the source of barbarity and desolation?

That the Hindu despotism was not practically mild, we have a number of satisfactory proofs. We have seen the cruelty and ferocity of the penal laws; itself a circumstance of the highest importance. “A thunderbolt,” says the author of the Hetopadesa, “and the power of kings are both dreadful! But the former expendeth its fury at once, whilst the latter is constantly falling upon our heads.”1 Some of the observations are so comprehensive, and pointed, as to afford the strongest evidence. “In this world,” says the same celebrated book, “which is subject to the power of one above, a man of good principles is hard to be found, in a country, for the most part, governed by the use of the rod.”2 “Princes in general, alas! turn away their faces from a man endowed with good qualities.”3 “The conduct of princes, like a fine harlot, is of many colours: True and false, harsh and gentle; cruel and merciful; niggardly and generous; extravagant of expense, and solicitous of the influx of abundant wealth and treasure.”4 “An elephant killeth even by touching, a servant even by smelling, a king even by ruling.”5 Edition: current; Page: [169] All the general maxims of the Hindus import theBOOK II. Chap. 10.extreme degradation of the great body of the people. “The assistance, O king, which is rendered to those of low degree, is like endeavouring to please bears. A low person should never be placed in the station of the great. One of low degree having obtained a worthy station seeketh to destroy his master.”1 “The Hindus,” says Dr. Buchanan, “in their state of independence, exacted deference from those under them with a cruelty and arrogance rarely practised but among themselves. A Nair was expected instantly to cut down a Tiar or Mucua, who presumed to defile him by touching his person; and a similar fate awaited a slave, who did not turn out of the road as a Nair passed.”2 In Sacontala, Dushmantu is represented as a king who possessed every virtue, and made happiness flourish as in the golden age. Yet we have a specimen of the justice and legality which prevailed during this happy reign, in the passage relating to the innocent fisherman. He was found, by certain of the king’s officers, offering to sale a ring with the king’s name upon it. They instantly seize him, and drag him away to justice: all the while beating and bruising him; and loading him with opprobrious epithets. The victim of this brutal treatment offers only the most humble entreaties, making statement of the facts, and protestation of his innocence. Upon the sight of the ring, the king acknowledges that he is innocent; and orders him a sum of money, equal in value to the ring. Of this reward he is obliged to resign a half to the very men Edition: current; Page: [170] BOOK II. Chap. 10.who had abused him, “to escape,” it is said, “the effects of their displeasure.”1

The laws for guarding the authority of the magistrate exhibit a character of extreme severity, and indicate an habitual state of the most rigid domination. “If a man speaks reproachfully of any upright magistrate, the magistrate shall cut out his tongue, or, having confiscated all his effects, shall banish him the kingdom.”2 By this law even the privilege of complaint was taken from the wretched Hindu. The victim of oppression was bound, under ferocious penalties, to suffer in silence.

The following is a law by which every act of despotism is legalized. “If a magistrate, for his own good, hath passed any resolutions, whoever refuses to submit to such resolutions, the magistrate shall cut out that person’s tongue.”3 If every resolution which the magistrate chooses to pass for his own good, is by the very circumstance of his passing it, obligatory under violent penalties, the state of the government is not doubtful.

“If a man makes complaint before the magistrate against the magistrate’s counsellor, without any real fault in him, or performs any business or service for the magistrate’s accuser, the magistrate shall put him to death.”4 Under the operation of this law, the magistrate had little to fear from accusation. There could be no remedy for any grievance; because the existence of any grievance could hardly ever be told. If the magistrate was willing to hear of his own Edition: current; Page: [171] misconduct, or that of his servants, in that case heBOOK II. Chap. 10.might hear of it; where he was unwilling, in that case it was death.1

Though all peaceable applications for the redress of grievances were thus precluded, any violence offered to the person of the magistrate, was punished in a manner which none but the most savage people ever endured. “If a magistrate has committed a crime, and any person, upon discovery of that crime, should beat and ill-use the magistrate, in that case, whatever be the crime of murdering one hundred Brahmins, such crime shall be accounted to that person: and the magistrate shall thrust an iron spit through him, and roast him at the fire.”2

The notices afforded us of particular sovereigns are exceedingly few. But, such as they are, most of them declare the misgovernment and cruelty of the individuals to whom they relate. “According to Plutarch, in his life of Alexander, Chandra-Gupta (I use the words of Mr. Wilford) had been in that prince’s camp, and had been heard to say afterwards, that Alexander would have found no difficulty in the conquest of Prachi, or the country of the Prasians, had he attempted it, as the King was despised and hated too, on account of his cruelty.”3

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BOOK II. Chap. 10.As the Hindu manners and character are invariable, according to their admirers; these admirers cannot consistently reject their present, as proof of their ancient, behaviour; and all men will allow that it affords strong ground of inference. “It is a remark,” says one of the best informed observers of Hindustan, “warranted by constant experience, that wherever the government is administered by Gentoos, the people are subject to more and severer oppressions than when ruled by the Moors. I have imputed this to intelligent Gentoos, who have confessed the justice of the accusation, and have not scrupled to give their opinions concerning it.” The opinions of these Gentoos are as favourable to themselves as, suiting the occasion, they could possibly make them. “A Gentoo,” say they, “is not only born with a spirit of more subtile invention, but by his temperance and education becomes more capable of attention to affairs, than a Moor; who no sooner obtains power than he is lost in voluptuousness; he becomes vain and lordly, and cannot dispense with satiating the impulses of his sensual appetites; whereas a Gentoo Prince retains in his Durbar the same spirit which would actuate him if keeping a shop.” Mr. Orme adds, “Avarice is his predominant passion; and all the wiles, address, cunning, and perseverance, of which he is so exquisite a master, are exerted to the utmost in fulfilling the dictates of this vice; and his religion, instead of inspiring, frees him from the remorse of his crimes; for whilst he is harassing and plundering the people by the most cruel oppressions, Edition: current; Page: [173] he is making peace with the gods by denyingBOOK II. Chap. 10. nothing to their priests.” Mr. Orme exhibits an impressive example. “The present King of Travancore (an Hindu prince whose dominions had never been subject to a foreign government) has conquered or carried war into all the countries which lay round his dominions, and lives in the continual exercise of his arms. To atone for the blood which he has spilt, the Brachmans persuaded him that it was necessary he should be born anew: this ceremony consisted in putting the prince into the body of a golden cow of immense value, where, after he had laid the time prescribed, he came out regenerated and freed from all the crimes of his former life. The cow was afterwards cut up and divided amongst the Seers who had invented this extraordinary method for the remission of his sins.”1 No testimony can be stronger Edition: current; Page: [174] BOOK II. Chap. 10. to the natural tendency of the Hindu religion, and to the effects which their institutions are calculated to produce.1

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Among other expedients for saving the favouriteBOOK II. Chap. 10. system, it has been maintained that the petty states and princes in Hindustan were but subordinate parts of one great monarchy, whose sceptre they acknowledged, and mandates they obeyed. There is no definable limit to gratuitous suppositions. If we are to be satisfied with opinions not only void of proof, but opposed by every thing of the nature of proof, attainable upon the subject, we may conjure up one opinion after another; and nothing, except physical impossibility or a defect of ingenuity, can set bounds to our affirmations. In the loose mode of thinking, or rather of talking without thinking, which has prevailed concerning Indian affairs, the existence of Edition: current; Page: [176] BOOK II. Chap. 10. feudal institutions in modern Europe has constituted a sufficient basis for the belief of feudal institutions in India; though it would have been just as rational to conclude that, because the Saxon language forms the basis of most of the languages of Europe, therefore the Saxon language forms the basis of the language in India.

There are two modes in which the subordination of a number of petty princes to a great one may take place. The inferior states may exist merely as conquered, enslaved countries, paying tribute to a foreign government, obeying its mandates, and crouching under its lash. A second mode would be, where the inferior states were connected together by confederacy, and acknowledged a common head for the sake of unity, but possessed the right of deliberating in common upon common concerns. It may with confidence be pronounced, that in neither mode is the supposed effect compatible with the state of civilization in Hindustan.

To retain any considerable number of countries in subjection, preserving their own government, and their own sovereigns, would be really arduous, even where the science of government were the best understood. To suppose it possible in a country where the science of government is in the state indicated by the laws and institutions of the Hindus, would be in the highest degree extravagant. Even the Romans themselves, with all the skill which they possessed, retained their provinces in subjection, only by sending thither their own governors and their own armies, and superseding entirely the ancient authorities of the country. The moderation of conquering, without seizing, is a phenomenon so rarely exemplified in the most civilized times, that to suppose it universal in India, is to make a supposition in contradiction to Edition: current; Page: [177] the known laws of human affairs, and even to particularBOOK II. Chap. 10.experience. Wherever an Indian sovereign is able to take possession, he hastens to take it. Wherever he can make a plundering incursion, though unable to retain, he ravages and destroys. Now it sometimes happens, that a neighbouring prince, too weak to prevent or chastise these injuries, endeavours to purchase exemption from them by a composition. This, in the language of the Mahrattas, who, in modern times, have been almost the only people in India in a situation to exact it, is called Chout, of which the standard is a fourth part of the revenues of the district liable to be over-run. It has in several instances, and these abundantly recent ones, been payed, for certain districts, by the British government itself, without the most distant idea of any lordship paramount in the Mahrattas. It is abundantly evident that this species of subordination, if subordination it can be called, never could have extended far; never could reach beyond the countries immediately contiguous to that from which the chance of mischief arose.

A confederation of princes, similar to that which was exemplified in Germany, and which no combination of circumstances has elsewhere produced, is a supposition, still more opposed to experience. Of all the results of civilization, that of forming a combination of different states, and directing their powers to one common object, seems to be one of the least consistent with the mental habits and attainments of the Hindus.1 It is the want of this power of combination Edition: current; Page: [178] BOOK II. Chap. 10. which has rendered India so easy a conquest to all invaders; and enables us to retain, so easily, that dominion over it which we have acquired. Where is there any vestige in India of that deliberative assembly of princes, which in Germany was known by the name of the Diet? Where is there any memorial of that curious constitution by which the union of the German princes was preserved; or of those elections by which they chose among themselves him who should be at their head? That nominal homage, which the Mahratta chiefs paid to the throne of Sevagee, was a temporary circumstance, entirely of a different nature. These chiefs were not subordinate princes, but revolted subjects, in a dismembered empire. There was among them no confederacy. When at war with Scindia, the British were at peace with the Peshwa and Holkar; when they were at war with Holkar, they were at peace with the rest. They acknowledged a subordination to the primary seat of government, only because their subjects had been accustomed to look to it; and because they were not yet secure of their obedience.1

They, who affirm the high state of civilization among the Hindus previous to their subjugation to Edition: current; Page: [179] foreigners, proceed so directly in opposition to evidence,BOOK II. Chap. 10. that wherever the Hindus have been always exempt from the dominion of foreigners, there they are uniformly found in a state of civilization inferior to those who have long been the subjects of a Mahomedan throne.1

It is in no quarter pretended, that the Hindu superstition was ever less gross than it now appears. It is remarkable, that in any quarter it should not be recollected, that superstition necessarily gives way, as civilization advances. Powerful, at an early age, among the Greeks and Romans, it finally ceased to have almost any influence;2 and Goguet had long ago declared, with philosophical truth, that “we wanted no evidence to prove the ignorance and rudeness of the Greeks in the heroic times; their credulity and their respect for oracles are proofs, more than sufficient. This species of superstition has no force or dominion, but in proportion to the gross ignorance Edition: current; Page: [180] BOOK II. Chap. 10. of the people: witness the savages, who do not undertake any thing till they have previously consulted their divines and their oracles.”1

So many regulations are found in the Hindu codes of law respecting seasons of calamity; seasons when it is supposed that a great portion of the people are without the means of subsistence, that those dreadful visitations must be very frequent. From which soever of these two great causes, famine, or the ravages of war, the frequency of those calamities arose, it equally bars the supposition of good government and high civilization.2

If we apply the reflection, which has been much admired, that if a man were to travel over the whole world, he might take the state of the roads, that is, the means of internal communication in general, as a measure of the civilization; a very low estimate will be formed of the progress of the Hindus. “In India,” says Rennel, “the roads are little better than paths, and the rivers without bridges.”3 “In Malabar,” says Dr. Buchanan, speaking of the wretched state of the roads, “even cattle are little used for the transportation of goods, which are generally carried by porters.”4 The Emperor, Shah Jehan, constructed certain roads in Bengal, which were celebrated as prodigies; but the remains of them, Dr. Tennant Edition: current; Page: [181] remarks, sufficiently manifest that they can neverBOOK II. Chap. 10. have been good, and the admiration they excited proves nothing except the wretched condition of every thing, under the name of road, which had been known in India before.1 Another fact, of much importance, is, that a Mahomedan sovereign was the first who established Choultries; that is, Caravanseras, or houses of reception for travellers upon the road, of which, till that period, they had no experience. “This fact,” says Mr. Forster, “also recorded in Dow’s history, is well known amongst the natives.”2

Among the pretensions received without examination, that of enormous riches found in India by the first Mahomedan conquerors, requires particular attention. If those accounts had not far exceeded all reasonable bounds, it would have been a matter of difficulty, to prove the falsehood of them, except to those who were capable of estimating one circumstance, in any state of society, by its analogy with the rest. As the amount, however, stated by those authors, whose testimony has been adopted; by Ferishta, for example, followed by Dow; far exceeds the bounds not of probability only, but of credibility; and affords decisive evidence of that Eastern exaggeration which in matters of history disdains to be guided by fact, the question is left free of any considerable difficulty.3 These accounts refute themselves. We have, therefore, no testimony on the subject; for all that is presented to us in the shape of testimony betrays itself to be merely fiction. We are left to our knowledge of circumstances, and to the inferences which they support. Now if the preceding induction, embracing the circumstances of Hindu society, is to be Edition: current; Page: [182] BOOK II. Chap. 10. relied on, it will not be disputed, that a state of poverty and wretchedness, as far as the great body of the people are concerned, must have prevailed in India, not more in the times in which it has been witnessed by Europeans, than the times which preceded. A gilded throne, or the display of gold, silver, and precious stones, about the seat of a court, does not invalidate this inference. Only there where gold and silver are scarce, can the profuse display of them about the monarch’s person either gratify the monarch’s vanity, or dazzle by its rarity the eyes of the multitude. Perhaps there are few indications more decisive of a poor country, and a barbarous age, than the violent desire of exhibiting the precious metals and precious stones, as the characteristic marks and decorations of the chief magistrate.1

The science of political economy places this conclusion on the ground of demonstration. For the people to have been rich in gold and silver, these commodities must have circulated among them in the shape of money. But of gold and silver in the shape of money, no nation has more, than what is in proportion to its exchangeable commodities. Now that ever the people of Hindustan were profusely supplied with commodities, every thing in their manners, habits, government, and history, concur to disprove. There is, besides, a well-established fact, which ascertains the impossibility of their having abounded in gold and silver. Their commodities were not exchanged by the medium of the precious metals. The traffic of India, as in the rudest parts of the earth, was chiefly a traffic of barter; and its taxes, as already seen, were paid in kind. It was not till the time Edition: current; Page: [183] of Akber that gold or silver was coined for circulation,BOOK II. Chap. 10. in the greatest part of India; antecedently to that period small pieces of copper were the only coin.1 Up to the present hour, when the real signs of riches and civilization are but just beginning to be understood, nothing has been more common with rash and superficial travellers, than to set down lofty accounts of the riches of almost every new country to which they repaired.2

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BOOK II. Chap. 10.As rude nations, still more than civilized, are incessantly harassed by the dangers, or following the gains of war; one of the first applications of knowledge is, to improve the military art. The Hindus have, at no period, been so far advanced in knowledge, as even to be aware of the advantage of discipline, of those regular and simultaneous movements, upon which, in skilled warfare, almost every thing depends. “In the Hindu armies,” says Francklin, “no idea of discipline ever existed.”1 “The rudeness of the military art in Indostan,” says Mr. Orme, “can scarce be imagined but by those who have seen it. The infantry consists of a multitude of people assembled together without regard to rank and file.”2

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Even medicine and surgery, to the cultivation ofBOOK II. Chap. 10. which so obvious and powerful an interest invites, had scarcely, beyond the degree of the most uncultivated tribes, attracted the rude understanding of the Hindus. Though the leisure of the Brahmens has multiplied books, on astrology, on the exploits of the gods, and other worthless subjects, to such a multitude, “that human life,” says Sir W. Jones, “would not be sufficient to make oneself acquainted with any considerable part of Hindu literature,”1 he yet confesses, there is “no evidence that in any language of Asia, there exists one original treatise on medicine, considered as a science.”2 Surgery, says an author, who believes in the high civilization of the Hindus, is unknown among that people. In the case of gunshot, or sabre wounds, all they did was to wash the wound, and tie it up with fresh leaves; the patient, during the period of convalescence, eating nothing but the water gruel of rice.3

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BOOK II. Chap. 10.In comparing them with other people, it cannot, in a single word, be declared, with which of the nations, more familiar to Europeans, the Hindus, in point of civilization, may be regarded as on a level; because, in comparison with those whom they most nearly approach, while inferior to them in some, they are superior, in other respects. Should we say that the civilization of the people of Hindustan, and that of the people of Europe, during the feudal ages, are not far from equal, we shall find upon a close inspection, that the Europeans were superior, in the first place, notwithstanding the vices of the papacy, in religion; and, notwithstanding the defects of the schoolmen, in philosophy. They were greatly superior, notwithstanding the defects of the feudal system, in the institutions of government and in laws. Even their poetry, if the observance of nature, if the power of moving the affections, or indeed ingenuity of invention, be regarded as the marks of excellence, is beyond all comparison preferable to the poetry of the Hindus. That, in war, the Hindus have always been greatly Edition: current; Page: [187] inferior to the warlike nations of Europe, during theBOOK II. Chap. 10.middle ages, it seems hardly necessary to assert.1 In some of the more delicate manufactures, however, particularly in spinning, weaving, and dyeing, the Hindus, as they rival all nations, so they no doubt surpass all that was attained by the rude Europeans. In the fabrication, too, of trinkets; in the art of polishing and setting the precious stones; it is possible, and even probable, that our impatient and rough ancestors did not attain the same nicety which is displayed by the patient Hindus. In the arts of painting and sculpture, we have no reason to think that the Europeans were excelled by the Hindus. In architecture, the people who raised the imposing structures which yet excite veneration in many of the ancient cathedrals, were not left behind by the builders of the Indian pagodas.2 The agriculture of the Edition: current; Page: [188] BOOK II. Chap. 10.Europeans, imperfect as it was, surpassed exceedingly that of the Hindus; for with the climate and soil of most of the countries of Europe, agriculture, so imperfect as that of India, could not have maintained the population. In point of manners and character, the manliness and courage of our ancestors, compared with the slavish and dastardly spirit of the Hindus, place them in an elevated rank. But they were inferior to that effeminate people in gentleness, and the winning arts of address. Our ancestors, however, though rough, were sincere; but, under the glosing exterior of the Hindu, lies a general disposition to deceit and perfidy. In fine, it cannot be doubted that, upon the whole, the gothic nations, as soon as they became a settled people, exhibit the marks of a superior character and civilization to those of the Hindus.1

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No one can take an accurate survey of the differentBOOK II. Chap. 10.nations of Asia, and of their different ages, without remarking the near approaches they make to the same stage of civilization. This gives a peculiar interest and importance to the inquiry respecting the Hindus. There can be no doubt that they are in a state of civilization very nearly the same with that of the Chinese, the Persians, and the Arabians; who, together, compose the great branches of the Asiatic population; and of which the subordinate nations, the Japanese, Cochin-chinese, Siamese, Burmans, and even Malays and Tibetians, are a number of corresponding and resembling offsets.

With regard to former ages, it is true, that the religion, and several circumstances in the outward forms of society, have been altered in Persia, since the days of Darius; but the arts, the sciences, the literature, the manners, the government, concur to prove, in a remarkable manner, the near approach of the two periods to the same points of civilization. The ancient Persians, too, there is reason to believe, were placed in Edition: current; Page: [190] BOOK II. Chap. 10.nearly the same state of society with the people whom they succeeded; the Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Babylonians. In contemplating, therefore, the state of Hindustan, curiosity is very extensively gratified. As the manners, institutions, and attainments of the Hindus, have been stationary for many ages; in beholding the Hindus of the present day, we are beholding the Hindus of many ages past; and are carried back, as it were, into the deepest recesses of antiquity. Of some of the oldest nations, about which our curiosity is the most alive, and information the most defective, we acquire a practical, and what may be almost denominated a personal knowledge, by our acquaintance with a living people, who have continued on the same soil from the very times of those ancient nations, partake largely of the same manners, and are placed at nearly the same stage in the progress of society. By conversing with the Hindus of the present day, we, in some measure, converse with the Chaldeans and Babylonians of the time of Cyrus; with the Persians and Egyptians of the time of Alexander.

A judicious observer of Asiatic manners declares that “The leading customs of the various nations of Asia are similar, or but weakly diversified. When they sit, the legs are crossed or bent under them; they perform topical ablutions before and after meals, at which no knife or spoon is used, unless the diet be wholly liquid; they invariably adopt the like modes of performing natural evacuations.”1

The account which Gibbon presents us, from Herodian, and Ammianus Marcellinus, of the art of war among the Persians, in the time of the Roman emperors, is an exact description of the art, as practised by the Persians and Hindus, and by most of the other nations of Asia, at the present day. “The science of Edition: current; Page: [191] war, that constituted the more rational force of GreeceBOOK II. Chap. 10. and Rome, as it now does of Europe, never made any considerable progress in the East. Those disciplined evolutions which harmonize and animate a confused multitude, were unknown to the Persians. They were equally unskilled in the arts of constructing, besieging, or defending regular fortifications. They trusted more to their numbers than to their courage; more to their courage than to their discipline. The infantry was a half-armed, spiritless crowd of peasants, levied in haste by the allurements of plunder, and as easily dispersed by a victory as by a defeat. The monarch and his nobles, transported into the camp the pride and luxury of the seraglio. Their military operations were impeded by a useless train of women, eunuchs, horses and camels; and in the midst of a successful campaign, the Persian host was often separated or destroyed by an unexpected famine.”1

In the system of Zoroaster, and in that of the Brahmens, we find the same lofty expressions concerning the invisible powers of nature; the same absurdity in the notions respecting the creation; the same infinite and absurd ritual; the same justness in many ideas respecting the common affairs of life and morality; the same gross misunderstanding in others; but a striking resemblance between the two systems, both in their absurdities and perfections. The same turn of imagination seems to have belonged to the authors of both; and the same aspect of nature to have continually presented itself; the deformities however of the Hindu system being always the greatest.

The Persians, in the time of Cambyses, had judges, select sages, who were appointed for life; and whose Edition: current; Page: [192] BOOK II. Chap. 10. business it was, according to pre-established laws, to terminate all disputes, and punish crimes. This, like similar circumstances, in the state of the Hindus, presents part of the forms of a legal government. These judges, however, when consulted by the king if he might perform an act, on which for fear of popular odium he hesitated to venture, gave a solemn opinion, that for the king of the Persians it was law, to do whatsoever he pleased.1 “This constitutional maxim,” says Gibbon archly, “was not neglected as an useless and barren theory.”2

“Like Brimha, the Fo of the Chinese has various times become incarnate among men and beasts. Hence he is represented in his temples as riding upon dragons, rhinoceroses, elephants, mules and asses; dogs, rats, cats, crocodiles, and other amiable creatures, whose figures he fancied and assumed. There are in some of these pagodas, a thousand of these monstrous statues, all most horribly ugly, and ill represented, and unlike any thing in heaven or earth, or the waters under the earth.”3

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Under the reign of credulity, it is instructive toBOOK II. Chap. 10. mark the inconsiderateness of a reflecting writer. After many praises of the Chinese husbandry, such as those which we have often heard of the agriculture of the Hindus, Lord Macartney adds, “The plough is the simplest in the world, has but one handle, is drawn by a single buffalo, and managed by a single person without any assistance.”1 And Mr. Barrow says, “Two thirds of the small quantity of land under tillage is cultivated with the spade or the hoe, without the aid of draught cattle.”2

Even of the principal route from Pekin to Canton, Lord Macartney remarks; “For horse and foot the road is excellent, but admits of no wheel carriages.”3 Mr. Barrow more explicitly declares, that except near the capital, and in some few places where the junction of the grand canal with navigable rivers is interrupted by mountainous ground, there is scarcely a road in the whole country that can be ranked beyond a foot path.4 Even the grand canal itself was opened by the Tartar conqueror Gingis Khan, in the thirteenth century: and that solely with a view to convey the taxes, paid in kind, from the southern part of the empire to the capital, a great part of them having been always lost by the unskilfulness of Chinese navigation, when conveyed by sea.”5

Like the Hindus, before the improvements introduced among them by the Moguls, the Chinese have no coin, above a small one of copper; and the taxes of that immense empire are paid in kind.6

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Lord Macartney remarks, that the Chinese have no natural philosophy; no medical or chirurgical skill; that a fractured leg is usually attended by death.1

In the sciences and arts of the Hindus and Chinese there is manifested a near approximation to the same point of advancement. In respect to government and laws, the Chinese have to a considerable degree the advantage. As they are a busy people, however; and have no idle class, whose influence depends upon the wonder they can excite by pretended learning, they have multiplied, far less than the Hindus, those false refinements, which a barbarous mind mistakes for science.2 Both have made greater progress in the refinement of the useful arts, than in the advancement of science. But in these too the Chinese appear to have the superiority; for though it may be doubted whether the Chinese manufacture of silk rivals in delicacy the cotton manufacture of the Hindus, the latter people have nothing to set in competition with the porcelain of the Chinese; and in the common works in wood and iron, the Chinese are conspicuously preferable. In the contrivance and use of machinery both are equally simple and rude.3

In the state of the fine arts, there is a striking resemblance Edition: current; Page: [195] between the two nations. “The architectureBOOK II. Chap. 10. of the Chinese,” says Mr. Barrow, “is void of taste, grandeur, beauty, solidity, or convenience; their houses are merely tents, and there is nothing magnificent in the palace of the emperor.”1 Both nations were good at imitation.2 Both were extremely defective in invention. In painting and sculpture they were ignorant of perspective, of attitude, and proportion.

Even in manners, and in the leading parts of the moral character, the lines of resemblance are strong. Both nations are to nearly an equal degree tainted with the vices of insincerity; dissembling, treacherous, mendacious, to an excess which surpasses even the usual measure of uncultivated society. Both are disposed to excessive exaggeration with regard to every thing relating to themselves. Both are cowardly and unfeeling. Both are in the highest degree conceited of themselves, and full of affected contempt for others. Both are, in the physical sense, disgustingly unclean in their persons and houses.99

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BOOK II. Chap. 10.With respect to the inhabitants of another quarter of Asia, Turner, in his account of the embassy to Tibet, informs us, that the deportment of the Rajah of Bootan was exceedingly urbane, and his sentiments breathed that sort of humanity which seems to flow from the belief of the metempsychosis. “My food, said he, consists of the simplest articles; grain, roots of the earth, and fruits. I never eat of any thing which has had breath, for so I should be the indirect cause of putting an end to the existence of animal life, which by our religion is strictly forbidden.”1

Though frequent ablutions are performed for religious purposes, the same author informs us that the people in their persons are extremely unclean.2

“Bootan presents to the view nothing but the most mishapen irregularities; mountains covered with eternal verdure, and rich with abundant forests of large and lofty trees. Almost every favourable aspect of them, coated with the smallest quantity of soil, is cleared and adapted to cultivation, by being shelved into horizontal beds; not a slope or narrow slip of Edition: current; Page: [197] land between the ridges lies unimproved. There isBOOK II. Chap. 10.scarcely a mountain whose base is not washed by some rapid torrent, and many of the loftiest bear populous villages, amidst orchards and other plantations on their summits and on their sides. It combines in its extent the most extravagant tracts of rude nature and laborious art.”1

Yet they have no discipline in their armies. In their mode of warfare, stratagem is more practised than open assault.2

The appearance of the capital Teshoo Loomboo was in a high degree magnificent, and together with the palace afforded proofs of a progress in the arts which vied with that of Hindustan and China.3

The inhabitants of the great Peninsula, to the eastward of the Ganges, discover, as far as known, the uniform marks of a similar state of society and manners. The Cochin-Chinese, for example, who are merely a separate community of the Chinese race, appear by no means in civilization behind the Chinese and Hindus. A traveller from whom we have obtained a sensible though short account of some of the more striking phenomena of the country, both physical and moral, informs us, that it is “one of the most fruitful in the world. In many parts,” he says, “the land produces three crops of grain in the year. All the fruits of India are found here in the greatest perfection, with many of those of China. No country in the East produces richer or a greater variety of articles proper for carrying on an advantageous commerce, cinnamon, pepper, cardemoms, Edition: current; Page: [198] BOOK II. Chap., cotton, sugar, Agula wood, Japan wood, ivory, &c.”1

The following paragraph describes an important article of accommodation, to which no parallel can be found in all China and Hindustan. “In this valley we passed through three or four pretty villages pleasantly situated, in which, as well as on other parts of the road, were public houses, where tea, fruits, and other refreshments are sold to travellers. At noon we alighted at one of them, and partook of a dinner, which consisted of fowls cut into small pieces, dressed up with a little greens and salt, some fish, &c.”2

The appearance of the king’s court was not only splendid but decorous; and even the little of the country which the travellers saw discovered to them large cities, with streets, laid out on a regular plan, Edition: current; Page: [199] paved with flat stones, and having well-built brickBOOK II. Chap. 10.houses on each side.1

The people on the western side of that peninsula, whether known by the name of Birmans, Peguans, Assamese, or Siamese, partake strongly of the Hindu character, and exhibit only a variation of the religion, laws, institutions, and manners which prevail on the other side of the Ganges. The great difference consists in their having adopted the heresy, or retained the primitive faith of Buddha; and rejected the distinction of castes. But nothing appears among them which would lead to an inference of any inferiority in their progress towards the attainments of civilized life.

The Birmans, we are told by Symes, call their code generally Derma Sath or Sastra; it is one among the many commentaries on Menu. “The Birman system of jurisprudence,” he adds, “is replete with sound morality, and in my opinion is distinguished above every other Hindoo commentary for perspicuity and good sense. It provides specifically for almost every species of crime that can be committed, and adds a copious chapter of precedents and decisions to guide the inexperienced in cases where there is doubt Edition: current; Page: [200] BOOK II. Chap. 10.and difficulty. Trial by ordeal and imprecation are the only absurd passages in the book.”1

“There is no country of the East,” says the same author, “in which the royal establishment is arranged with more minute attention than in the Birman court; it is splendid without being wasteful, and numerous without confusion.”2

Their literature appears to be as extensive and curious, as that of the Hindus. They have numerous, and copious libraries; the books, says Colonel Symes, are “upon divers subjects; more on divinity than on any other; but history, music, medicine, painting and romance, had their separate treatises.”3

Of the kingdom of Assam we possess not many accounts; but what we have yield evidence to the same effect. In the Alemgeernameh of Mohammed Cazim, is a description of Assam, which has been translated by Henry Vansittart, Esqr. and presented to us in several publications. We are there told that the country, at least in many places, is “well inhabited, and in an excellent state of tillage; that it presents, on everyside, charming prospects of ploughed fields, harvests, gardens, and groves.”4

“As the country is overflowed in the rainy season, a high and broad causeway has been raised, for the convenience of travellers from Salagereh to Ghergong, Edition: current; Page: [201] which is the only uncultivated ground to be seen:BOOK II. Chap. 10.each side of this road is planted with shady bamboos, the tops of which meet and are entwined.”112 And this is more than seems to have been attained in Hindustan, before the improvements introduced by the Mohammedan conquerors.

“The silks are excellent, and resemble those of China. They are successful in embroidering with flowers, and in weaving velvet, and tautband, which is a species of silk of which they make tents and kenauts.”2

The bigotted and intolerant Mussulman, however, who finds no excellence where he finds not his faith; discovers no qualities but evil in the minds of the Assamese. “They do not adopt,” he says, “any mode of worship practised either by heathens or Mahomedans; nor do they concur in any of the known sects, which prevail amongst mankind. They are a base and unprincipled nation, and have no fixed religion; they follow no rule but that of their own inclinations, and make the approbation of their own vicious minds the test of the propriety of their actions.”3 Such are the distorted views presented to an ignorant mind, through the medium of a dark and malignant religion, respecting a people cultivating the ground to great perfection, and forming a dense population. Among other particulars of the vileness which he beheld in them, is the following: “The base inhabitants, from a congenial impulse, are fond of seeing and keeping asses, and buy and sell them at a high price.”4 Yet he speaks in lofty terms of the royal magnificence of the court. “The Rajahs of this country have always raised the crest of pride and vain Edition: current; Page: [202] BOOK II. Chap. 10.glory, and displayed an ostentatious appearance of grandeur, and a numerous train of attendants and servants.” And he expresses himself with mingled horror and admiration of the prowess and superiority of the Assamese in war. “They have not bowed the head of submission and obedience, nor have they paid tribute or submission to the most powerful monarch; but they have curbed the ambition, and checked the conquests, of the most victorious princes of Hindustan.” Several armies from Bengal, which had been sent to conquer them, having been cut off, of some of which scarce even tidings had ever been received, “the natives of Hindustan consider them wizards and magicians, and pronounce the name of that country in all their incantations and countercharms: they say, that every person who sets his foot there is under the influence of witchcraft, and cannot find the road to return.”1

The admiration which the Greeks, no very accurate observers of foreign manners, expressed of the Egyptians, and which other nations have so implicitly borrowed at their hands, not a little resembles the admiration among Europeans which has so long prevailed with regard to the Hindus. The penetrating force of modern intelligence has pierced the cloud: and while it has displayed to us the state of Egyptian civilization in its true colours, exhibits a people who, standing on a level with so many celebrated nations of antiquity, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Arabians, correspond, in all the distinctive marks of a particular state of society, with the people of Hindustan. The evidence has been weighed by a cool and dispassionate judge, in the following manner: “I see Edition: current; Page: [203] nothing,” says the President Goguet, “in the EgyptiansBOOK II. Chap. 10.that can serve to distinguish them in a manner very advantageous; I even think myself authorized to refuse them the greatest part of the eulogies that have been always so liberally bestowed upon them. The Egyptians did invent some arts and some sciences, but they never had the ingenuity to bring any of their discoveries to perfection. I have exposed their want of taste, and I venture to say, of talent, in architecture, in sculpture, and in painting. Their manner of practising physic was absurd and ridiculous. The knowlege they had of geometry and astronomy was but very imperfect. Their discoveries are far enough from entering into any comparison with those which the Greeks made afterwards in those two sciences. In fine, the Egyptians have had neither genius, ardour, nor talent, for commerce, or for the marine and military art.

“As to civil laws, and political constitutions, the Egyptians had indeed some very good ones; but otherwise there reigned in their government a multitude of abuses and essential defects, authorized by the laws and by their fundamental principles of government.

As to the manners and customs of this people, we have seen to what a height indecency and debauchery were carried in their religious feasts and public ceremonies. The public cult which a nation fixes to honour the Deity, bears the stamp of that nation’s character. Neither was the morality of the Egyptians extremely pure; we may even affirm, that it offended against the first rules of rectitude and probity. We see that the Egyptians bore the highest blame of covetousness, of ill faith, of cunning, and of roguery.

It appears to me to result from all these facts Edition: current; Page: [204] BOOK II. Chap. 10.that the Egyptians were a people industrious enough, but, as to the rest, without taste, without genius, without discernment; a people who had only ideas of grandeur ill understood; and whose progress in all the different parts of human knowledge never rose beyond a flat mediocrity; knavish into the bargain, and crafty, soft, lazy, cowardly, and submissive; and who, having performed some exploits to boast of in distant times, were ever after subjected by whoever would undertake to subdue them; a people again vain and foolish enough to despise other nations without knowing them: Superstitious to excess, singularly addicted to judicial astrology, extravagantly besotted with an absurd and monstrous theology. Does not this representation sufficiently authorize us to say that all that science, that wisdom, and that philosophy, so boasted of in the Egyptian priests, was but imposture and juggling, capable of imposing only on people so little enlightened, or so strongly prejudiced, as were anciently the Greeks in favour of the Egyptians.”1

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The sagacity of Adam Smith induced him, at anBOOK II. Chap. 10.early period of his life, to deny the supposed proof of any high attainments among those ancient nations, and to declare, though with hesitancy, his inclination to the opposite opinion.

“It was in Greece, and in the Grecian colonies, that the first philosophers of whose doctrine we have any distinct account, appeared. Law and order seem indeed to have been established in the great monarchies of Asia and Egypt, long before they had any footing in Greece: Yet after all that has been said concerning the learning of the Chaldeans and Egyptians, whether there ever was in those nations any thing which deserved the name of science, or whether that despotism which is more destructive of leisure and security than anarchy itself, and which prevailed over all the East, prevented the growth of philosophy, is a question which, for want of monuments, cannot be determined with any degree of precision.”1 To leave the subject even in this state of doubt was but a compromise with popular opinion, and with his own imperfect views. The circumstances handed down to us, compared with the circumstances of other nations, afforded materials for a very satisfactory determination. Edition: current; Page: [206] BOOK II. Chap. 10.The opinion by which he supports his disbelief of the ancient civilization of Asia is at once philanthrophic and profound; That “despotism is more destructive of leisure and security, and more adverse to the progress of the human mind, than anarchy itself.”

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From the first Invasion of India by the Nations in the North, till the expulsion of the Gaznevide dynasty.

AT the time when the nations of Europe openedBOOK III. Chap. 1.their communication with India, by the Cape of Good Hope, the people whom we have now described had for a number of ages been subject to a race of foreigners. That subjection, though it had not greatly altered the texture of native society, had introduced new forms into some of the principal departments of state; had given the military command to foreigners; and had mixed with the population a proportion of a people differing from them considerably, in manners, character, and religion. The political state of India, at this time, consisted of a Mahomedan government, supported by a Mahomedan force, over a Hindu population.

It appears that the people of Hindustan have at all times been subject to incursions and conquest, by the nations contiguous to them on the north-west. The Scythians, that is, the rude nations on the east of Persia, conquered, we are told by Justin, a great part of Asia, and even penetrated as far as Egypt, about Edition: current; Page: [208] BOOK III. Chap. 1.1,500 years before Ninus, the founder of the Assyrian monarchy. And we know that in the vast empire of Darius Hystaspes as much of India was included, as constituted one, and that the most valuable, of his twenty satrapies. The exact limits of the Indian satrapy are unknown; but from the account which Herodotus gives of its tribute, far exceeding that of any of the rest, the extent of it cannot have been small. Major Rennel supposes that it may have reached as far as Delhi, and have included the whole of the Punjab, or country watered by the five branches of the Indus, together with Cabul, Candahar, and the tract of country which lies along the Indus to the sea.1

The conquests of Alexander the Great, which succeeded to those of the Persian monarchs, seem not to have extended so far in India, as the previous possessions of Darius; since his career was stopped on the banks of the Hyphasis, or modern Beyah, the last of the five branches of the Indus; whence returning to the Hydaspes, he passed down the Indus to the sea. Seleucus, the successor of Alexander in Upper Asia, not only received, but endeavoured to augment, the acquisitions made by that conqueror in India. He gained victories over Sandracottos, the sovereign Edition: current; Page: [209] of a people living on the Ganges. But, as he wasBOOK III. Chap. 1.recalled to the defence of another part of his dominions against Antigonus, he made peace with the Indian: and the limits established between them are not ascertained.1

Among the kingdoms, formed out of the vast empire of Alexander, by the dissensions of his followers, was Bactria. This district was part of that great range of country, on the eastern side of Media and Persia, extending from the lake Aral to the mouths of the Indus, which the power of the Persian monarchs had added to their extensive dominions. The people of this intermediate region seem to have possessed an intermediate stage of civilization between the Tartar or Scythian tribes which bordered with them on the east, and the people of the Assyrian or Persian empire which was contiguous to them on the west. Among these people there is some reason for believing that the Bactrians were distinguished, and at an early period, by superior progress in the knowledge, and other acquirements of civilized men. Among the numerous Zoroasters, with whom Persian story abounds, one is said to have been king of Bactria, contemporary with Ninus; and to have invented magic; that is, to have been the object of admiration on account of his knowledge. Of the eastern nations added to the subjects of the Persian kings, the Bactrians were the nearest to India, and were only separated from it by that range of mountains, in which the Indus and the Oxus find their respective sources. Bactria as well as India were among the parts of the dominions of Alexander Edition: current; Page: [210] BOOK II. Chap. 10.which fell to the share of Seleucus. In the reign, however, of his son or grandson, the governor of the Bactrian province threw off his dependence upon the Seleucidæ; and a separate Greek kingdom was erected in that country, about sixty-nine years after the death of Alexander. The Persian dominions in India seem to have shared the fate of Bactria, and to have fallen into the hands of the same usurper. The Greek sovereigns of Bactria became masters of an extensive empire; and assumed the proud title of King of Kings; the distinctive appellation of the Persian monarchs in the zenith of their power. They carried on various wars with India; and extended their conquests into the interior of the country. The limits of their dominions in that direction we have no means of ascertaining. One of those great movements in central or eastern Tartary, which precipitates the eastern barbarians upon the countries of the west, brought an irresistible torrent of that people across the Jaxartes, about 126 years before the Christian era, which, pouring itself out upon Bactria, overwhelmed the Grecian monarchy, after it had lasted nearly 130 years.1

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About the same period that the successors ofBOOK III. Chap. 1.Alexander lost the kingdom of Bactria, the misconduct of a governor in the distant provinces bordering on the Caspian Sea, raised up a military chief who excited the rude and turbulent inhabitants to revolt, and laid the foundation of the Parthian kingdom; a power which soon possessed itself of Media, and finally stripped the descendants of Seleucus of almost all that they possessed from the Tigris eastwards. The rebellion of the Parthians is placed about the year 256 before Christ; and the kings of Syria maintained from that time a struggling and declining existence, till they finally yielded to the power of the Romans, and Syria was erected into a province sixty-four years before the commencement of the Christian era.1

The descendants of the Parthian rebel, known under the title of the Arsacides, held the sceptre of Persia till the year of Christ 226. The possession of empire produced among them, as it usually produces among the princes of the East, a neglect of the duties of government, and subjugation to ease and pleasure; when a popular and enterprising subject, availing himself of the general dissatisfaction, turned the eyes of the nation upon himself, and having dethroned his master, substituted the dynasty of the Sassanides to the house of Arsaces. As usual, the first princes Edition: current; Page: [212] BOOK III. Chap. 1.of this line were active and valiant; and their empire extended from the Euphrates to the Jaxartes, and the mountainous ridge which divided the kingdom of Bactria from the Scythians of the East. To what extent their power was carried over the ancient soil of the Hindus, does not appear; but it is more than probable that the territory west of the Indus, from the time when it was first established into a Persian satrapy, in the reign of Darius, owned no more the caste who sprung from the arm of the Creator. Bactria was numbered as one among the four provinces of the great Chosroes, who reigned from the year 531 of the Christian era to the year 571, and was denominated King of Persia and of India. The grandson of Chosroes, who was deposed in 628, may be considered as closing the line of the Sassanides; for, after a few years of tumult and distraction, the irresistible arms of the successors of Mahomet were directed toward Persia, and quickly reduced it under the power of the Caliphs.1

In the year 632, Caled, the lieutenant of Abubeker, entered Persia. In a few years the standards of the Faithful were carried to the furthest limits of Bactria, and pushing once more the shepherds of the East beyond the Jaxartes, rendered the empire of the Caliphs in that direction conterminous with the Persian monarchy in its proudest days.2

The possession of empire required, as usual, but a few generations to relax the minds of the successors of Mahomet, and render them as unfit as their predecessors Edition: current; Page: [213] for any better use of power, than the unrestrainedBOOK III. Chap. 1.indulgence of themselves in the pleasures which it commands.

The tribes of Tartar, or Scythian shepherds, from the centre of Asia, unsettled, fierce, and warlike, had from the earliest ages proved dangerous and encroaching neighbours to the Eastern provinces of Persia. Pushed beyond the Jaxartes and Imaus, by Cyrus, and the more warlike of the successors of Cyrus, they were ever ready, as soon as the reign of a weak prince enfeebled the powers of government, to make formidable incursions, and generally held possession of the provinces which they over-ran, till a renewal of vigour in the government made them retire within their ancient limits. We are informed by Polybius that a tribe of Nomades or shepherds, whom he calls Aspasians, forced their way across the Oxus, and took possession of Hyrcania, even in the reign of Antiochus. We have already seen that a body of Tartars overwhelmed Bactria about 120 years before Christ. And about 100 years subsequent to the Christian era, a portion of the great nation of the Huns, who had been forced by a victorious tribe from their native seat behind the wall of China, penetrated into Sogdiana, the country between the Oxus and the Jaxartes, towards the shores of the Caspian Sea; and there established themselves under the titles of the Euthalites, Nephthalites, and White Huns. After these irruptions, the more vigorous of the princes of the Sassanian dynasty reduced Sogdiana, as well as Bactria, to occasional obedience; but without expelling the new inhabitants, and without acquiring any permanent dominion. In the cultivated provinces in which they settled, the savage Tartars acquired a degree of civilization; and when obliged to yield to the followers of Mahomed, felt so little attachment to their Edition: current; Page: [214] BOOK III. Chap. 1.ancient religion, as immediately to recommend themselves to the favour, by adopting the faith, of their conquerors.1

When the government of the Caliphs began to lose its vigour, a tribe of Tartars, originally situated in the Alti mountains, and known by the name of Turks, had acquired extraordinary power. They had, in a series of wars, subdued the neighbouring tribes, and extended their sway, that species of sway which it is competent to a pasturing people to exercise or to sustain, over a great portion of the Tartars of Asia.2 When the military virtues of the Arabians sunk beneath the pleasures which flow from the possession of power, the Caliphs sought to infuse vigour into their effeminate armies, by a mixture of fierce and hardy Turks. Adventurers of that nation were raised to the command of armies, and of provinces; and a guard of Turkish soldiers was appointed to surround the person of the monarch. When weakness was felt at the centre of the empire; the usurpation of independence by the governors of the distant provinces was a natural result. The first, by whom this usurpation was attempted, was Taher, Governor of Chorasan, the province extending from the Caspian Sea to the Oxus. He and his posterity, under the title of Taherites, enjoyed sovereignty in that province from the year 813 to the year 872. The son of a brazier, called in Arabian Soffar, who rose (a common occurrence in the East) through the different stages of military adventure, to be the head and captain of an army, supplanted the Taherites, and substituted his own Edition: current; Page: [215] family, called from their origin Soffarides, in theBOOK III. Chap. 1.government of Chorasan and Transoxiana. The Soffarides were displaced by a similar adventurer, who established the house of the Samanides, after a period, according to the varying accounts, of either 34 or 57 years, from the elevation of the Brazier. The Samanides are celebrated by the Persian historians for their love of justice and learning; they extended their sway over the eastern provinces of Persia, from the Jaxartes to the Indus, and reigned till after the year 1000 of the Christian era.1

The Taherites, the Soffarides, and Samanides usurped only the eastern provinces of the empire of the Caliphs, the provinces which, being the nearest to the turbulent and warlike tribes of shepherds, and most exposed to their incursions, were of the least importance to the sovereigns of Persia. Three adventurers, brothers, called, from the name of their father, the Bowides, rose to power in the provinces extending westward from Chorasan, along the shores of the Caspian Sea, about the year 315 of the Hegira, or 927 of Christ. This dynasty consisted of seventeen successive and powerful princes, who reigned till the year 1056. They conquered the provinces of Gilan, Mazenderan, Erak, Fars, Kerman, Khosistan, Ahvaz, Tabarestan, and Georgian; and rendered themselves masters of the Caliphs, to whom they left only a shadow of authority.2

About the year of Christ 967, Subuctagi, a servant of the Samanides, was appointed governor of the Indian province of Candahar, or Ghazna, as it is called by the Persian writers; from the name of the capital Ghizni. Having raised himself from the condition Edition: current; Page: [216] BOOK III. Chap. 1.of a Turkish slave to such a degree of power as made it dangerous to recall him from his government, he left it to his son Mahmood, who asserted his independence; and founded the dynasty of the Ghaznevides. Mahmood subverted the throne of the Samanides, reduced to a shadow the power of the Bowides, and reigned from the Tigris to the Jaxartes. He also made extensive conquests towards the south; and as he was the first who in that direction bore the crescent beyond the furthest limits of the Persian empire, and laid the foundation of the Mahomedan thrones in India, we are now arrived at the period when the Mahomedan history of India begins.1

The northern provinces of India, Cabul, Candahar, Multan, and the Punjab, appear, from the days of Darius Hystaspes, to have followed the destiny of Bactria, Chorasan, and Transoxiana, the eastern appendages of Persia, and, excepting some short intervals, to have been always subject to a foreign yoke. Even the White Huns, who established themselves in Sogdiana, on the river Oxus, and in Bactria, about the end of the first century of the Christian era, advanced into India, and in the second century were masters as far as Larice or Guzerat.2 Mahmood was already master of the dominions of the Samanides, and of all the eastern provinces that had occasionally owned allegiance to the Persian throne; when he first, says the Persian historian, “turned his face to India.” This expedition, of which the year 1000 of the Christian era is assigned as the date, seems to Edition: current; Page: [217] have been solely intended to confirm or restore theBOOK III. Chap. 1.obedience of the governors who had submitted to his father, or been accustomed to obey the masters of eastern Persia; and few of its particulars have been thought worthy of record. He renewed his invasion the succeeding year; and proceeded so far as to alarm a prince who reigned at Lahore; a city, on one of the most eastern branches of the Indus, which gave its name to a small kingdom. This prince, called by the Persian historians Jeipal, or Gepal, met him, with his whole army, and was defeated. It was, according to the same historians, a custom or law of the Hindus, that a prince, twice defeated by Mahomedan arms, was unworthy to reign; and as this misfortune had happened to Jeipal, who had formerly yielded to Subuctagi, he resigned the throne to his son Anundpaul, and burnt himself alive in solemn state.1

In the year 1004 Mahmood again marched into India to chastise, for defect of duty, a tributary prince on the Indus. His presence was still more urgently required the following year; when the king of Multan revolted, and was joined by Anundpaul. Mahmood was met by Anundpaul as he was descending through the pass in the intervening mountains. Anundpaul was conquered and obliged to fly into Cashmere: when the king of Multan endeavoured, by submission, to save what he could. As Mahmood had received intelligence that a body of Tartars had invaded his northern provinces, he was the more easily softened; and leaving Zab Sais, a Hindu who had embraced the Mahomedan religion, his lieutenant, or governor in India, marched to repel the invaders.2

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BOOK III. Chap. 1.During this expedition against the Tartars, Zab Sais revolted; resumed the Brahmenical faith; and was on the point of being joined by a confederacy of Rajahs, or Hindu sovereigns, when Mahmood hastened back to India, took Zab Sais unprepared, and made him prisoner for life; after which, the season being far advanced, he returned to Ghizni. Early, however, in the following spring, some movements of Anundpaul recalled him to India, when the princes of Oogeen, Gualior, Callinger, Kanoge, Delhi, Ajmere, the Guickwars, and others, joined their forces to oppose him. A general battle was fought, in which the Ghiznian monarch prevailed. He then reduced the fort of Nagracote or Nagarcote; and, having plundered the temple of its riches, very great, as we are told, returned to his capital. As the king of Multan still continued refractory, Mahmood returned to that province in the following year, and having taken the Rajah prisoner, carried him to Ghizni, where he confined him for life.1

“In the year 402,2 the passion of war,” says the historian, “fermenting in the mind of Mahmood,” he resolved upon the conquest of Tannasar or Tahnesir, a city about thirty coss north-west from Delhi; the seat of a considerable government; famous for its sanctity and subservience to the Brahmenical religion. Having taken Tannasar, and demolished the idols, he marched to Delhi; which he quickly reduced; and thence returned with vast riches.”3

Two years afterwards, he drove from his dominions the king of Lahore, and overran Cashmere, compelling the inhabitants to acknowledge the prophet.

In the beginning of the year 1018, the Sultan Edition: current; Page: [219] (Mahmood was the first on whom that title was bestowed)BOOK III. Chap. 1.with a large army, raised chiefly among the tribes who possessed, or bordered upon, the northern provinces of his empire, marched against Kanoge, the capital of a kingdom, situated on the Ganges, about 100 miles south-east from Delhi.1 “From the time of Gustasp, the father of Darab, to this period, this city (says the Persian historian) had not been visited by any foreign enemy; three months were necessary to complete the march between this kingdom and the capital of Mahmood; and seven mighty streams rushed across the intervening space.” The conqueror having with much difficulty forced a passage through the mountains, by the way of Cashmere, arrived at Kanoge, before the Rajah was prepared for resistance. Placing his only hopes in submission, he threw himself upon the mercy of the invader. The magnitude and grandeur of the city is celebrated in poetic strains by the Persian historians. Mahmood, remaining but three days, proceeded against a neighbouring prince, inhabiting a city called Merat; thence to another city, on the Jumna, named Mavin, and next to Muttra, which is still a city of considerable extent, at a small distance from Agra. This last city was full of temples and idols, which Mahmood plundered and destroyed; and from which, according to the usual story, he obtained incredible treasure. Several other forts and Rajahs being subdued, Mahmood returned from his eighth expedition into India, laden, we are told, with riches; and began to adorn and improve his capital. He built a mosque, so beautiful and magnificent, that it was called the Edition: current; Page: [220] BOOK III. Chap. 1.Celestial Bride, and “struck every beholder with astonishment and pleasure. In the neighbourhood of this mosque he founded an university, which he furnished with a vast collection of curious books, in various languages: and with natural and artificial curiosities. He appropriated a sufficient fund for the maintenance of the students, and the learned men who were appointed to instruct the youth in the sciences.”1

Mahmood’s ninth expedition in 1021, was for the purpose of protecting the Rajah of Kanoge, who now held the rank of one of his dependants. The Rajah of Callinger, a city in the province of Bundelcund, situated on one of the rivers which fall into the Jumna, was the most guilty of the assailants. As the Rajah avoided Mahmood in the field, he plundered and laid waste the country, and, this done, returned to his capital.

Here he had not reposed many days, when he was informed that two districts on the borders of Hindustan refused to acknowledge the true prophet, and continued the worship of lions.2 The zeal of the religious sultan immediately took fire. Having speedily brought to reason the disrespectful provinces, he marched to Lahore, which he gave up to pillage. According to custom, it afforded enormous riches. Mahomedan governors were established in this and several other districts of Hindustan.

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The twelfth expedition of the Ghiznian monarchBOOK III. Chap. 1.was undertaken in the year 1024. He had heard not only of the great riches and supposed sanctity of the temple of Sumnaut, but of the presumption of its priests, who had boasted that other places had yielded to the power of Mahmood, by reason of their impiety; but if he dared to approach Sumnaut, he would assuredly meet the reward of his temerity. Mahmood, having arrived at Multan, gave orders to his army to provide themselves with water and other necessaries for crossing a desert of several days’ march, which lay between this city and Ajmere. The Rajah and people of Ajmere abandoned the place at his approach. They were invited to return, and experience the clemency of the victor; but not complying, beheld their country desolated with fire and sword. Arrived at Sumnaut, which was a strong castle, situated on the promontory of Guzerat, near the city of Diu,1 washed on three sides by the sea, Mahmood met with a more serious resistance than any which he had yet encountered in Hindustan. Not only did the priests and guardians of the temple defend it with all the obstinacy of enthusiasm and despair; but a large army collected in the surrounding kingdoms was brought to its defence. Having triumphed over all resistance, the religious sultan entered the temple. Filled with indignation at sight of the gigantic idol, he aimed a blow at its head, with his iron mace. The nose was struck from its face. In vehement trepidation the Brahmens crowded around, and offered millions,2 to spare the god. The Edition: current; Page: [222] BOOK III. Chap. 1.Omrahs dazzled with the ransom ventured to counsel acceptance. Mahmood, crying out that he valued the title of breaker, not seller of idols, gave orders to proceed with the work of destruction. At the next blow, the belly of the idol burst open: and forth issued a vast treasure of diamonds, rubies, and pearls; rewarding the holy perseverance of Mahmood, and explaining the devout liberality of the Brahmens. After this Mahmood took vengeance on the rajahs who had confederated to defend the temple, and reduced all Guzerat to his obedience. It is said that he was so captivated with the beauty of the country, the richness of the soil, and the salubrity of the climate, that he conceived the design of making it the place of his residence, and resigning Ghizni to one of his sons. Diverted from this design by the counsels of his friends, he placed a Hindu governor over the province, and after an absence of two years and six months returned to Ghizni. A people whom the translator of Ferishta calls the Jits, afterwards better known under the name of Jaats, who inhabited part of the country bordering on the Indus, southward from Multan, either failed in respect, or gave molestation, as he marched from Guzerat. Returning in the same year to chastise them, he defeated 4,000 or 8,000 (so wide are the accounts) of their boats, launched on the river to defend an island to which, as the place of greatest safety, they had conveyed the most valuable of their effects, and the most cherished of their people.1 This was the last of the exploits of Mahmood in India, who died at Ghizni in the year Edition: current; Page: [223] 1028. Mahmood, the son of Subuctagi the TurkishBOOK III. Chap. 1.slave, is one of the most celebrated of eastern princes. He was supposed to possess in the highest perfection almost every royal virtue. He patronized learning, and encouraged the resort of learned men. Ferdosi, the author of the Shah Namah, the most celebrated poem of the East, was entertained at his court.

After a short contest between Mahommed and Musaood, the sons of Mahmood, Musaood mounted the throne of Ghizni, and the eyes of Mahommed were put out. Musaood entered India three times, during the nine years of his reign; and left the boundaries of the Ghaznevide dominions there in the situation nearly in which he received them. His first incursion was in the year 1032, when he penetrated by the way of Cashmere; and his only memorable exploit was the capture of the fort of Sursutti, which commanded the pass. In 1034, he sent an army which chastised a disobedient viceroy. And in 1035, he marched in person to reduce Sewalik, a kingdom or rajahship lying at the bottom of the mountains near the place where the Ganges descends upon the Indian plains. He assailed the capital, of great imputed strength; took it in six days; and found in it incredible riches. From this he proceeded against the fort of Sunput, a place about forty miles distant from Delhi on the road to Lahore, the governor of which abandoned it upon his approach, and fled into the woods. He proposed to march against another prince, called Ram; but Ram, understanding his intentions, endeavoured to divert the storm, by gifts and compliments, and had the good fortune to succeed. Musaood was recalled from India to oppose an enemy, destined to render short the splendour of the house of Ghizni.

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BOOK III. Chap. 1.During several centuries, the movements westward of the hordes of Turkmans had been accumulating that people upon the barriers of the Persian empire. In the reign of Mahmood, three brothers, sons of Seljuk, solicited permission to pass the Oxus, with their flocks and herds, and to enjoy the unoccupied pastures of Chorasan. Mahmood, disregarding the advice of his best counsellors, granted their request. The example set, the number of Tartars in Transoxiana and Chorasan continually increased. During the vigilant and vigorous reign of Mahmood, the Turks behaved so much like peaceable subjects, that no complaint against them seems to have been raised. But in the days of his son and successor Musaood, the inhabitants of Chorasan and Transoxiana complained that they were oppressed by the strangers, and Musaood at last resolved to drive them back from his dominions. Togrul Beg, however, the son of Michael, the son of Seljuk, offered himself as a leader and a bond of union to the Turks; opposed Musaood; triumphed over him in the field; rendered himself master of the northern provinces of his empire, and established the dynasty of the Seljukides. Having baffled the power of the Sultan of Ghizni, Togrul found nothing remaining to oppose to him any serious resistance, from the Oxus to the Euphrates; he extinguished the remaining sparks of the power of the Bowides; and took the Caliph under his protection. Togrul was succeeded by his nephew Alp Arslan, and the latter by his son Malek Shah; both celebrated warriors, who pushed the limits of their empire beyond the Euphrates and the Jaxartes, and made deep inroads upon the Roman provinces and the Tartar plains. The provinces of Zabulistan or Candahar, of Segistan or Seistan, and Edition: current; Page: [225] Cabul, with the provinces in India beyond theBOOK III. Chap. 1.Hydaspes, were all that at last remained to the Ghaznevides.

Musaood returning from the defeat which he, deserted by his troops, had sustained at the hand of the Turkmans, and hastening to India to recruit his forces, was deposed by a mutiny in the army, and his brother Mahommed, whose eyes he had put out, was placed upon the throne. Modood, the son of Musaood, who had been left by his father with an army at Balke marched against Mahommed, whom he dethroned. Modood made some efforts against the Seljukians, and for a time recovered Transoxiana. But the feebleness and distraction now apparent in the empire of the Ghaznevides encouraged the Rajah of Delhi, in concert with some other rajahs, to hazard an insurrection. They reduced Tannasar, Hassi the capital of Sewalik, and even the fort of Nagracote. The Rajahs of the Punjab endeavoured to recover their independence; and the Mahommedan dominion was threatened with destruction.

In the year 1049 Modood died; and a rapid change of princes succeeded, violently raised to the throne, and violently thrown down from it. His son Musaood, a child of four years old, was set up by one general; and, after a nominal reign of six days, gave place to Ali, the brother of Modood, who was supported by another. Ali reigned about two years, when he was dethroned by Abdul Reshid, his uncle, son of the great Mahmood. Tugril, governor of Segistan, rebelled against Reshid, and slew him after reigning one year. Tugril himself was assassinated after he had enjoyed his usurpation but forty days. Feroch-Zaad, a yet surviving son of Musaood, was then raised to the throne, who, dying after a peaceable Edition: current; Page: [226] BOOK III. Chap. 1.reign of six years, was succeeded by his brother Ibrahim.

Ibrahim reigned a period of no less than forty-two years. After he had terminated his disputes with the dangerous Seljukians, by resigning to them all the provinces they had usurped of the Ghaznevide empire, he directed his ambition towards India. An army which he dispatched into that country is said to have reduced to his obedience many places which had not yet yielded to the Moslem arms. In the year 1080, he marched in person; and by the successful attack of several places of strength, added the territory they protected to his dominions.1 Against the house of Seljuk, now reigning over Persia, Chorasan, and Bucharia, the latter comprehending the ancient provinces or kingdoms of Bactria, Sogdiana, and Transoxiana, he found protection chiefly by intermarriages and alliance.

Ibrahim was succeeded by his son Musaood, who enjoyed a peaceable reign of sixteen years. With the exception of one expedition, under one of his generals, who penetrated beyond the Ganges, India remained unmolested by his arms. But as the Indian provinces now formed the chief portion of his dominions, Lahore became the principal seat of his government.

His son Shere, says the Persian historian, “placed his foot on the imperial throne; but within a year was assassinated by his brother Arsilla.” Byram, one of the brothers of Arsilla, made his escape; and fled to the governor of Chorasan, who was brother to Edition: current; Page: [227] the king of Persia, and to his own, and Arsilla’sBOOK III. Chap. 1.mother. By the assistance of this prince, his uncle, who marched with an army to his support, he dethroned Arsilla, and assumed the reins of government, which had been held by the usurper for three years.

Byram, or Bahram, was twice called into India, by the disobedience of the governor of Lahore, who aspired to independence. But he had no sooner settled this disturbance, than he was called to oppose the governor of another of his provinces, whose rebellion was attended with more fatal consequences. A range of mountainous country, known by the name of the mountains of Gaur, occupies the space between the province of Chorasan and Bactria on the west and north, and the provinces of Segistan, Candahar, and Cabul on the south. The mountaineers of this district, a wild and warlike race, had hardly ever paid more than a nominal obedience to the sovereigns of Persia. The district, however, had been included in the dominions of the Sultans of Ghizni; and had not yet been detached by the Seljukian encroachments. In the days of Byram, a descendant of the ancient princes of the country, Souri by name, was governor of the province. Finding himself possessed of power to aim at independence, he raised an army of Afghauns, such is the name (famous in the history of India) by which the mountaineers of Gaur are distinguished, and chased Byram from his capital of Ghizni. Byram, however, having collected and recruited his army, marched against his enemy, and aided by his subjects of Ghizni, who deceived and betrayed their new master, gained a complete victory, and put the Gaurian to a cruel death. The power which he gained was but of short duration. Alla, the brother of Souri, who succeeded him in Edition: current; Page: [228] BOOK III. Chap. 1.his usurped dominion, hastened to repair his loss. Byram was defeated in a decisive battle, and fled towards India; but sunk under his misfortunes, and expired, after a languid, but gentle reign of thirty-five years.

He was succeeded by his son Chusero, who withdrew to India, and made Lahore his capital. This prince cherished the hope of recovering the lost dominions of his house from the Gaurian usurper, by aid from his kinsman, the king of Persia; and collected an army for that purpose; but at this moment a fresh horde of Turkman Tartars rushed upon the Persian provinces, and inundated even Cabul and Candahar, from which the Gaurians were obliged to retire. The Turks, after two years’ possession, were expelled by the Gaurians. The Gaurians were again defeated by the arms of Chusero, and yielded up the temporary possession of Ghizni to its former masters. Chusero continued to reside at Lahore, and, having died after a reign of seven years, was succeeded by his son Chusero the Second.

Mahommed, brother to the Gaurian usurper, pursued the same ambitious career. He soon rendered himself master of the kingdom of Ghizni or Candahar; and, not satisfied with that success, penetrated even into India; over-ran Multan, with the provinces on both sides of the Indus; and advanced as far as Lahore. After an uninteresting struggle of a few years, Chusero was subdued; and in the year 1184 the sceptre was transferred from the house of Ghizni to the house of Gaur. The same era which was marked by the fall of the Ghaznevides, was distinguished by the reduction of the house of Seljuk. The weakness and effeminacy which, after the vigour and ability of the founders of a new dynasty, uniformly take place among the princes their successors, Edition: current; Page: [229] having relaxed the springs of the SeljukianBOOK III. Chap. 1.government, the subordinate governors threw off their dependence; and a small portion of the dominions of Malek now owned the authority of Togril his descendant.

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From the Commencement of the first Gaurian Dynasty to that of the second Gaurian or Afghaun Dynasty.

BOOK III. Chap. 2. 1190. Mahomed left the government of India, after the defeat and death of Chusero, in the hands of a viceroy, and returned to Ghizni. After an absence of five years, he marched towards Ajmere; and, having taken the city of Tiberhind, is said to have been on his way back, when he heard that the Rajahs of Ajmere and Delhi, with others in confederacy, were advancing with a large army to relieve the city which he had just taken and left. He turned and met them a little beyond Tannasar. Having incautiously allowed his army to be surrounded by superior numbers, he was defeated, and, being severely wounded, escaped with great difficulty from the field of battle. He took such measures, as the moment allowed, to secure his provinces and forts, and hastened to Gaur.

After little more than a year he was prepared to return to India with a formidable army of Turks, Persians, and Afghauns. The combined Rajahs had consumed their time in the siege of Tiberhind, which had resisted them for one year and one month. No fewer, it is said, than 150 kings, with their armies, amounting, by “the lowest and most moderate account, to 300,000 horse, 3000 elephants, and a great body of infantry,” met him on the former field of battle. The Rajahs sent him an insulting proposal, that he might be permitted to march back Edition: current; Page: [231] unmolested, if he had the prudence to decline the BOOK III. Chap. 2. 1192. combat. Mahomed had learned wisdom from experience. Sending an humble answer; that he was only the servant of his brother, bound to execute his commands; and praying for time, to learn the will of his master; he filled the Rajahs, and their enormous camp, with an ill-grounded and intemperate presumption. While they were spending the night in revelling and joy, Mahomed crossed the river with his army, and fell upon them before the alarm was spread. The extent of the camp was so great, that a part of the army had time to form itself and advance to cover the flight. Mahomed immediately drew off his troops to meet them. Forming a strong reserve of his chosen horse, he ordered the rest of his army, drawn up in four lines, to receive the enemy calmly. The first line, having discharged its missile weapons, was made to withdraw to the rear; the next, coming in front, discharged in like manner its weapons, and in like manner gave place to another. By this stratagem were the enemy held in play, “till the sun was approaching the west,” when Mahomed, placing himself at the head of his reserve, rushed upon the fatigued and now presumptuous multitude; who were immediately thrown into the greatest disorder, and “recoiled, like a troubled torrent, from the bloody plain.”

Shortly after this event Mahomed returned to Ghizni, leaving the fruits of the victory to be gathered and secured by his favourite General Cuttub. The events of this man’s life, though far from singular in the East, involved extraordinary changes of condition and fortune. In his childhood, he was brought from Turkestan to Nishapore, the capital of Chorasan, and there sold for a slave. It happened that the master by whom he was bought had the disposition to give him education, and that the quickness of his Edition: current; Page: [232] BOOK III. Chap. 2. 1202. parts enabled him to profit by this advantage. The death of his patron, however, exposed him once more to the chance of the market; which fortunately assigned him to Mahomed the Gaurian. His intelligence and assiduity attracted in time the notice of the Prince. He advanced by gradual accessions of favour, till he rose to be Master of the Horse. Even misfortune, though he lost a detachment of men, and was taken prisoner by the enemy, did not lose him the kindness of Mahomed; or interrupt the career of his promotion.

Cuttub improved, with diligence and ability, the advantages which his master had gained in India. He reduced the surrounding districts; took the fort of Merat; and invested Delhi. The garrison ventured to meet him in the field. He vanquished them; and, surmounting all opposition, obtained possession of the city.

Mahomed returned to India in 1193. Cuttub was received with the highest marks of distinction; and being honoured to command the van of the army, he conquered the rajah of Benares; where Mahomed destroyed innumerable idols, and obtained, of course, incalculable riches. The whole country submitted, to the confines of Bengal.

Upon the return of Mahomed to Ghizni, Cuttub was declared his adopted son, and confirmed in the government of India. By various expeditions, he chastised repeatedly the refractory rajahs of Ajmere and Guzerat; took the cities of Calinger and Kalpy, with their respective territories; and at last made himself master of the forts of Biana and Gualior.

In the year 1202, Mahomed was excited to try his fortune for a share in the dismemberment of the Seljukian empire. Among the provinces of which the governors had thrown off their dependance upon the Edition: current; Page: [233] Seljukian princes, that of Karisme, on the eastern BOOK III. Chap. 2. 1202. side of the Caspian Sea, had risen to the rank of an independent kingdom, under a race of princes known by the name of the Karismian dynasty. Against Tacash, the reigning sovereign of this kingdom, Mahomed led an army. But Osman, a Tartar chief, who had assumed the rank of sovereign, in another part of Transoxiana, and had Samarcand for his capital, marched to the assistance of Tacash; Mahomed sustained a total defeat; and was fain, by a great ransom, to purchase return to his own country. Intelligence of his defeat was to his servants the signal for revolt. His slave Ildecuz, having assumed supremacy in his capital of Ghizni, refused him admittance. He continued his route to Multan, where another of his servants took arms against him. Being joined by many of his friends, he gave the traitor battle, and obtained the victory. He next collected such of his troops as were in the contiguous provinces of India, and marched back to Ghizni, where the rebellious slave was delivered up by the inhabitants.

At the same time with the other rebellious attempts, to which his defeat by the Karismians had given birth, a tribe of Indians, inhabiting the country about the sources of the Indus from the Nilab or western branch of that river upwards to the Sewalic mountains; called by the Persian historian, Gickers, and by him described as a people excessively rude and barbarous, putting their female children to death; attempted the recovery of their independence, and proceeded towards Lahore. Mahomed had no sooner recovered his capital than he marched against them; and Cuttub at the same time advancing from Delhi, they were attacked on both sides, and speedily subdued. Mahomed was returning to Ghizni, when he Edition: current; Page: [234] BOOK III. Chap. 2. 1210. was murdered in his tent by two Gickers, who penetrated thither in the night.

The death of Mahomed, who left no children, produced a contest for the succession, and a division of the empire. Mamood, his nephew, retained Gaur, of which he was governor. Eldoze, another governor, took possession of Candahar and Cabul; and Cuttub claimed the sovereignty of India. Eldoze marched against him; but was met and conquered. Cuttub, following up his victory, proceeded to Ghizni, where he was crowned. He now resigned himself to sloth and indulgence. Eldoze, who had retired to Kirma, his former province, obtained intelligence of this degeneracy, and of the disgust to which it had given birth. He raised an army, and surprised Cuttub, who withdrew to India; and made no effort for the recovery of Ghizni; but is celebrated for having governed his Indian dominions with great justice and moderation. During his administration, Bahar and Bengal were added to the Mahomedan dominions.1 He died only four years after the death of Mahomed, in 1210. Tacash, the Karismian, who had extended his sway over almost the whole of Persia, shortly after marched against Eldoze, and added Ghizni, with all the possessions, of the Gaurides, as far as the Indus, to his extensive empire.

Cuttub was succeeded by his son Aram; who proved unequal to the task of reigning. Multan and Sind were seized upon by one chief; Bengal by another; and in almost every province the standard of revolt was raised or preparing to be raised; when the Omrahs of Delhi invited Altumsh, the son-in-law of Cuttub, and governor of Budaoon, now the country of Edition: current; Page: [235] the Rohillas, to ascend the throne. The reign of BOOK III. Chap. 2. 1235. Aram scarcely completed a year.

Altumsh, like Cuttub, had been a slave from Tartary; but, being remarkable for the beauty of his person, was thought by his master worthy of a good education. He was sold to Cuttub for a large sum, and appointed master of the chase. He rapidly made his way to great favour; was at last married to the daughter of his sovereign; and declared his adopted son.

Altumsh ascended not the throne in perfect tranquillity. Several of Cuttub’s generals aspired to improve their fortune by resistance; and Eldoze, being driven from Ghizni by the arms of the Karismian monarch, made an effort to procure for himself a sceptre in India. But Altumsh prevailed over all his opponents; and reigned from the mouths of the Indus to those of the Ganges.

This prince died in 1235, and was succeeded by his son Feroze; who appearing a weak and dissolute prince, subservient to the cruel passions of his mother, was soon deposed; and Sultana Rizia, the eldest daughter of Altumsh, was raised to the throne.

It is a rare combination of circumstances which, in the East, places sovereign power in the hands of a woman. Rizia possessed manly talents and great virtues. The idea, however, of the weakness of her sex encouraged the presumption of her deputies in the various provinces. She contended with success against more than one rebellious and usurping governor. But her difficulties continually increased; and at last a combination of the Omrahs set up her brother Byram, as a competitor for the throne. She was still able to meet the rebels with an army. But the Turkish or Tartarian mercenaries in her brother’s pay were an overmatch for her Indian troops. She was conquered Edition: current; Page: [236] BOOK III. Chap. 2. 1235.and put to death, after a reign of three years and six months.

Byram the Second, nursed in pleasure, and a stranger to control, was a weak, imprudent prince. The jealousies which he felt towards the great men in his court, he sought to relieve by assassination. His vizir, having escaped an intended blow, found means to regain his confidence: and being placed at the head of an army against the Moguls, he matured the dissatisfaction of the Omrahs, and, turning the army of Byram against himself, dethroned and killed him, about two years after he had ascended the throne.

It was during this reign that the Moguls, destined to erect in India the greatest empire it had ever seen, first penetrated into that country. Gingis, the chief of a tribe of Tartars, distinguished by the name of Moguls, who roamed with their flocks and herds on the northern side of the wall of China, formed, by talents and good fortune, one of those combinations, among different tribes of Tartars, which more than once within the period of history had been witnessed before; and never without extensive revolutions and conquests. Partly by force, partly by intimidation, partly by hopes of sharing in the advantages of conquest, Gingis, about the year 1210, was acknowledged as Khan, by all the shepherd hordes from the wall of China to the Volga. The presumption and pride of two such elevated neighbours as the emperor of China, and the new sovereign of Tartary, could not fail to kindle the flames of war. Innumerable squadrons of Tartars surmounted the unavailing rampart which the Chinese had in former ages raised to exclude them. Pekin was taken; and the northern provinces of China were added to the empire of Gingis.

About the same time a quarrel arose on the opposite side of his dominions. Mahomed was now Edition: current; Page: [237] king of Karisme, which from a revolted province hadBOOK III. Chap. 2. 1250. grown into the seat of a great empire, extending from the borders of Arabia to those of Turkestan. The monarch of so many provinces, which prided themselves in their riches and the acquirements of civilized life, made light, it seems, of the power of him who ruled over multitudes, indeed, but of men who had no riches except their cattle, and no cities except their camps. An injury done to some of the subjects of Gingis, for which all reparation was haughtily refused, first drew upon western Asia the fury of his arms. Mahomed crossed the Jaxartes to meet his enemy in the plains of Turkestan, with no less, it is said, than four hundred thousand men. But these were encountered by seven hundred thousand Tartars, under Gingis and his sons, who in the first battle, which was suspended by the night, laid one hundred and sixty thousand Karismians dead upon the field.

After this fatal blow, Mahomed expected to arrest the progress of the victor, by throwing his troops into the frontier towns. But the arms of Gingis were irresistible; the places of greatest strength were obliged to surrender; and Karisme, Transoxiana, and Chorasan, soon acknowledged the sovereignty of the Mogul. He was withdrawn by the wishes of his troops from the further prosecution of his conquests in the West, and died in the year 1227; but left sons and grandsons to copy the deeds of their progenitor. In the year 1258, the conquest of Persia was consummated: and the last remains of the power of the Caliphs and Seljukians trampled in the dust.

It was but an incursion which, in the year 1242, the Moguls, during the reign of Byram II., made into India. They plundered the country as far as Lahore, and then retreated to Ghizni.

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BOOK III. Chap. 2. 1256.Upon the fall of Byram, the men in power thought proper to take from his prison Musaood, the son of Feroze, the late king, and set him upon the throne. In the second year of his reign, an army of Mogul Tartars made a descent into Bengal, by the way, says Ferishta, of Chitta and Tibet.1 They met, we are told, with a total defeat. On the following year, however, another army of the same people crossed the Indus; but Musaood marching against them in force, they were pleased to retire. Musaood, however, in a reign of four years had disgusted his nobles, by his vices; and made them bold, by his weakness. They combined to call Mamood his uncle to the throne, and Musaood was thrown into prison for life.

Mamood II., upon the death of his father Altumsh, had been consigned to a prison; but there exhibited some firmness of mind, by supporting himself with the fruits of his industry in copying books; while he often remarked that “he who could not work for his bread did not deserve it.” He was released by his predecessor Musaood, and received the government of a province; in which he acted with so much vigour and prudence, that the fame of his administration recommended him to the Omrahs, as the fittest person to cover, with his power and authority, their rebellious enterprise.

The infirm administration of the preceding princes Edition: current; Page: [239] had introduced much disorder into the kingdom. TheBOOK III. Chap. 2. 1257. tribes of Hindus, known by the name of Gickers, a more active and enterprising race than the general body of their countrymen, had been guilty of many acts of insubordination and violence toward the Mahomedan government and people, in the provinces near the Indus. One of the first enterprises of Mamood, was to chastise this people; many thousands of whom he carried away into captivity. Of the Omrahs, who had received jagheers, or estates in land, many declined or refused to furnish their quota of troops for the army; though it was for the maintenance of those troops, that the estates, says Ferishta, were bestowed. The chiefs who infringed this condition were carried prisoners to Delhi; and their sons, or other relations, gifted with the estate. Some places of strength, in the country lying between the Jumna and the Ganges, were taken. A governor on the Indus, who had rebelled, was reduced to obedience, and received into favour. Shere, the king’s nephew, viceroy of Lahore and Multan, expelled the Moguls from Ghizni, and once more annexed that kingdom to the Indian part of the Gaurian empire. Mamood fell into the error of disgusting his Omrahs, by pampering a favorite; but recovered his authority, by sacrificing, with a good grace, the author of his danger. A fresh army of the Moguls crossed the Indus in the year 1257; but retired upon the approach of Mamood. In the following year, an ambassador, from Hallacu, the grandson of Gingis, who had just completed the conquest of Persia, arrived at Delhi. The grandest possible display of the power and wealth of the empire seems to have been studied upon this occasion. To meet the representative of the conqueror, before whom Asia trembled, the vizir went out at the head of 50,000 foreign horse, two hundred thousand Edition: current; Page: [240] BOOK III. Chap. 2. 1265.infantry, two thousand elephants of war, and three thousand carriages of fireworks. With this magnificent escort, the ambassador was conducted to the royal presence; all the officers, dignitaries, and dependants of the empire, in gorgeous attire, surrounding the throne. This appears to have been a message of peace; since nothing of importance occurred, till the death of the Shah, which happened in the year 1265.

This prince carried to the throne that contempt of pleasure and show, and that simplicity of manners, which he had learned in his adversity. “Contrary,” says Ferishta, “to the custom of princes, he kept no concubines. He had but one wife, whom he obliged to do every homely part of housewifery; and when she complained one day, that she had burned her fingers in baking his bread, desiring he would allow her a maid to assist her, he rejected her request, with saying—that he was only a trustee for the state, and that he was determined not to burthen it with needless expences. He therefore exhorted her to persevere in her duty with patience, and God would reward her in the end. As the emperor of India never eats in public, his table was rather that of a hermit, than suitable to a great king. He also continued the whimsical notion of living by his pen. One day, as an Omrah was inspecting a Coran, of the emperor’s writing, before him, he pointed out a word, which he said was wrong. The king, looking at it, smiled, and drew a circle round it. But when the critic was gone, he began to erase the circle and restore the word. This being observed by one of his old attendants, he begged to know his Majesty’s reason for so doing; to which he replied, “that he knew the word was originally right, but he thought it better to erase from a paper, than to touch the heart of a poor man, by bringing him to shame.”

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Mamood died without leaving any sons; and hisBOOK III. Chap. 2. 1265. vizir, Balin, who even in his life time engrossed the principal share of power, without opposition mounted the throne. Balin was originally a Turk, of Chitta, of the tribe of Alberi. He was taken, when very young, by the Moguls who over-ran his country, and sold to a slave merchant who carried him to Bagdat. The master into whose hands he fell, learning that he was a relation of Altumsh, who then reigned at Delhi, proceeded with him to that city, and presented him to the monarch, who received him gladly, and liberally rewarded his conductor.

A brother of Balin had already made his way to the court of Delhi, and was considerably advanced in the road of favour and power. The young adventurer improved his advantages; and rapidly ascended the ladder of promotion. He took an active part in all the revolutions which placed so many successors on the throne. In the reign of Musaood he was raised to the dignity of lord of requests; and in that of Mahmood obtained the vizarit.

The reign of Balin was severe; but vigilant, clearsighted, and consistent. He punished disobedience with rapidity and cruelty; but he distinguished talents with care, and rewarded services with discernment and generosity. The fame of his government made his alliance be courted, even by the Mogul sovereigns who reigned over Tartary and Persia.

“He expelled,” says Ferishta, “all flatterers, usurers, pimps, and players, from his court; and being one day told, that an Omrah, an old servant of the crown, who had acquired a vast fortune by usury and monopoly in the bazaar or market, would present him with some lacks of rupees, if he would honour him with one word from the throne; he rejected the proposal with great disdain. What, he said, must his subjects Edition: current; Page: [242] BOOK III. Chap. 2. 1270.think of a king who should condescend to hold discourse with a wretch so infamous.” As freedom of bargain respecting interest on loans is exceptionable on principles of superstition alone, Balin was possibly mistaken in his instance, without being incorrect in his rule. The association of the king with persons infamous by their vices, sheds moral depravity among the people, except in that proportion exactly in which it sheds contempt upon the throne.

The generosity of Balin made his court the resort and asylum of the various princes, whom the arms of Gingis and his successors had rendered fugitives from their kingdoms. More than twenty of these unfortunate sovereigns, from Tartary, Transoxiana, Chorasan, Persia, Irac, Azarbijan, Persia proper, Roum, and Syria, among whom were two princes of the race of the Caliphs, had allowances assigned them from the revenues of Balin, with palaces, which took their names from their possessors, and admission on all public occasions to the presence and throne of their benefactor. The most learned men from all Asia, accompanying their respective princes, or seeking the same asylum, were assembled at Delhi. “And the court of India,” says the historian, “was, in the days of Balin, reckoned the most polite and magnificent in the world. All the philosophers, poets, and divines, formed a society every night, at the house of the prince Shehid, the heir apparent to the empire. Another society of musicians, dancers, mimicks, players, buffoons, and story-tellers, was constantly convened at the house of the emperor’s second son Kera, who was given to pleasure and levity. The Omrahs followed the example of their superiors, so that various societies and clubs were formed in every quarter of the city.”

The hills to the south-east of Delhi were inhabited by Hindus, who acted the part of banditti and plunderers; Edition: current; Page: [243] and advanced, in numbers resembling anBOOK III. Chap. 2. 1283. army, sometimes to the very walls of the capital. Balin ordered operations against them; and they were massacred without mercy. The soldiers, who carried hatchets for the purpose, cut down, to the distance of one hundred miles, the woods to which the robbers retired. The cleared space proved excellent land; and was speedily peopled; the inhabitants being protected from the mountaineers by a line of forts erected at the bottom of the hills.

The Shah gave considerable employment to his army, in bridling the wild inhabitants of the mountains, near the centre of his dominions; but he rejected the advice of his counsellors, to regain the distant provinces of Malwa and Guzerat, which had asserted their independence from the time of Cuttub; wisely observing, that the cloud of Moguls, now gathered on his northern frontier, presented an object of more serious and anxious regard.

His accomplished and philosophical son, Mahomed Shehid, was appointed viceroy of the northern provinces, to hold in check those dangerous neighbours. And he assembled around him the men, most eminent for thought or action, whom the Asiatic world at that time contained.

Argunu, the grandson of Hallacu who subdued Persia, and the fourth in descent from Gingis, now filled the throne of Persia; and another descendant of that renowned conqueror, by name Timur, ruled over the eastern provinces from Chorasan to the Indus. In revenge for some former check, as well as by desire for extension of empire, Timur invaded India with a large army in 1283. They were met by the Indian prince, and battle was joined. Both leaders displayed the talents of great generals; but Mahomed at last prevailed, and the Moguls betook themselves Edition: current; Page: [244] BOOK III. Chap. 2. flight. Mahomed joined in the pursuit. He had just halted, in order to return; when he was surprised with only five hundred attendants, by a party of the enemy; and, being overpowered by superior numbers, was slain defending himself to the last. The army and the empire were filled with grief by his fall.

While the son was engaged in his arduous defence of the empire against the Moguls, the father was employed in subduing a dangerous rebellion in Bengal. Tughril, governor of that rich and powerful province, had executed an expedition against the rajahs of Jagenagur, a province bounded on the north by Bengal, and on the east by Orissa. Succeeding, and obtaining great treasure, he began to feel himself too great for a subject; delayed remitting the Emperor’s share of the plunder; and, hearing that Balin was sick, and too ill to survive, raised the red umbrella, and assumed the title of king. Balin ordered the Governor of Oude to assume the office of Subahdar of Bengal, and, with an army which he committed to his command, to march against the rebel. The new Subahdar was defeated; and Balin was so enraged that he bit his own flesh, and commanded the general to be hanged at the gate of Oude. Another of his generals whom he sent to wipe off this disgrace had no better success; when Balin, deeply affected, resolved to take the field in person. Tughril, hearing of his approach, thought proper to elude the storm, by retiring. He intended to remain in Jagenagur, till the Shah retired; and then to resume the command of the province. With some difficulty Balin procured intelligence of his route. An exploring party, at last, discovered and surprised his camp. Tughril fled and was killed, when Balin inflicted sanguinary punishment on his adherents.

But the death of his great and hopeful son was a Edition: current; Page: [245] blow to the heart of Balin, to which no success couldBOOK III. Chap. 2. 1285. yield a remedy. Oppressed, at once, with grief, with business, and with old age (he was now in his eightieth year), he languished for a short time, and expired. He appointed his grandson, by the deceased Mahomed, his successor. Kera,1 however, the second son of Balin, was governor of Bengal, the most affluent province of the empire; and the Omrahs, respecting his present power, more than the will of their deceased master, raised his son Kei Kobad to the throne.

Kei Kobad was in his eighteenth year, handsome in his person, of an affable and mild disposition, and not slightly tinctured with literature. His mother was a beautiful princess, daughter of the emperor Altumsh. “He delighted,” says his historian, “in love, and in the soft society of silver-bodied damsels with musky tresses.” He adds; “When it was publicly known that the king was a man of pleasure, it became immediately fashionable at court; and, in short, in a few days, luxury and vice so prevailed, that every shade was filled with ladies of pleasure, and every street rung with music and mirth. The king fitted up a palace at Kilogurry, upon the banks of the river Jumna; and retired thither to enjoy his pleasures undisturbed, admitting no company but singers, players, musicians, and buffoons.”

The father of Kei Kobad remained contented with his government of Bengal. But Nizam ul Dien, who became the favourite minister of the young Shah, conceived hopes, from the negligence of his master, of paving for himself a way to the throne. He proceeded to remove the persons whose pretensions were likely to obstruct his career. The many acts of cruelty and perfidy, of which he was the Edition: current; Page: [246] BOOK III. Chap. 2. 1285.cause, shed discredit upon the government. The father of Kei Kobad saw the danger; and forewarned his son. But the prince could not attend to business, without sacrificing pleasure. He found it, therefore, more agreeable to repose upon the minister, and neglected the advice. Kera, alarmed for his own fate, as well as that of his son, thought it adviseable to second his advice with his presence, and his presence with an army. This was construed an act of hostility; and the Shah marched out from Delhi, at the head of an army, to oppose his father. The father, either conscious of his inferiority in point of strength, or unwilling to proceed to the last extremity, requested an interview. This was dreaded by the minister, who endeavoured to blow up the vanity and presumption of the young monarch to such a pitch, that he might hear of nothing but a battle. Kera was not easy to be repulsed; and renewed his application, by a letter, full of parental expostulation and tenderness. The heart of the young prince was corrupted, but not yet thoroughly depraved. He could not resist the letter of his father; and Nizam, no longer able to defeat the interview by direct, endeavoured to elude it by artificial means. He prevailed upon the prince, as sovereign, to insist upon the first interview; in hopes that Kera would refuse. Kera was not a slave to points of ceremony; and readily consented to repair to the imperial camp; where the son was prepared to display his insolence at even his father’s expense. The throne was set out with the greatest pomp and ceremony; and Kei Kobad, ascending, commanded that his father should three times kiss the ground. At the first door, the aged prince was ordered to dismount; and, when he came in sight of the throne, to perform the abject obeisance of the east; the mace-bearer at the same Edition: current; Page: [247] time calling out, according to custom, “The nobleBOOK III. Chap. 2. 1285. Kera to the king of the world sends health!” The father, whose heart was full, was no longer able to restrain his tears. Upon sight of his father in tears, the young prince forgot his insolence, and rushing from the throne, threw himself upon his face at his father’s feet, and implored his forgiveness.1

The presence and admonitions of Kera made an impression upon the mind of Kei Kobad, which it was too soft to retain. “When he arrived at Delhi,” says Ferishta, “the advice of his father, for a few days, seemed to take root in his mind. But his reformation was not the interest of the minister.” He accordingly plied him with pleasure in all the shapes in which it was known to have the greatest influence on his mind. The most beautiful and accomplished women whom it was possible to procure were made to present themselves to him at all the most accessible moments, and invention was exhausted to find an endless variety of modes to surprise and captivate the prince with new combinations of charms. The most exquisite musicians, dancers, players, buffoons, were collected to fill up the intervals left vacant by love.

The hatred, however, which the success, the presumption, and insolence of the minister had engendered in his fellow courtiers; or the suspicions and fears which, at last, though tardily, were excited in the breast of the sovereign, cut short the days and the machinations of Nizam ul Dien. He was taken off by poison. The authority of the king did not long survive. His intemperance in the haram brought on a palsy; which disabled him in one side, and Edition: current; Page: [248] BOOK III. Chap. 2. 1289.distorted his countenance. All attention was then absorbed by the scramble for power. Every Omrah of popularity set up his pretensions. The friends of the royal family brought out the son of Kei Kobad, a child of three years old, and set him on the throne. He was supported by the Tartars; a body of whom, as mercenaries, were generally kept by the Indian sovereigns, whom they became the common instruments of setting up and pulling down. On the present occasion, the Tartars had a formidable body of competitors. Of the Afghauns, or mountaineers of Gaur and Ghirgistan, on the frontiers of Persia, a tribe named Chilligi1 made war and depredation their business; and usually, in great numbers, served, as mercenaries, any power which chose to employ them. An adventurer of this tribe, of the name of Mallek, who subsisted by his sword, rose to distinction in the army of Balin; and left his talents and his fortune to his son Feroze, who, at the time of the illness of Kei Kobad, was one of the chief Omrahs, and commanded a province. He was joined by the Chilligi mercenaries, who attacked, and cut to pieces, the Tartars. There was no longer any obstruction. Kei Kobad was killed upon his bed, after a reign of little more than three years. Such was the termination of the Gaurian, or rather of the first Gaurian dynasty; and such the commencement of the Afghaun, or second Gaurian dynasty, in the year 1289. At the time of this revolution, Cubla, the grandson of Gingis, sat on the throne of Tartary and China; another of his descendants on that of Persia; and a third possessed a kingdom in Transoxiana, and those provinces to the north-west of the Indus which constituted the original dominions of the house of Ghizni.

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From the Commencement of the second Gaurian or Afghaun Dynasty, to the Commencement of the Mogul Dynasty.

Feroze was seventy years of age when he becameBOOK III. Chap. 3. 1289. the master of the kingdom. He was a man of intelligence; and though guilty of cruelty and injustice in acquiring or establishing his throne, he sought to distinguish himself by the justice, and also the popularity, of his administration. “For that purpose,” says his historian, “he gave great encouragement to the learned of that age; who, in return, offered the incense of flattery at the altar of his fame.”

Chidju, however, a prince of the royal blood, nephew of the late Balin, and a nabob or governor of a province, obtained the alliance of several chiefs, and marched with an army towards Delhi. Feroze placed himself at the head of his army, and sent forward his son with the Chilligi cavalry. The prince encountered the enemy, and obtaining an advantage, took several Omrahs prisoners, whom he mounted upon camels with branches hung round their necks. When Feroze beheld them in this state of humiliation, he ordered them to be unbound, gave a change of raiment to each, and set an entertainment before them; repeating the verse, “That evil for evil it was easy to return; but he only was great who could return good for evil.” In a few days Chidju was taken prisoner, and sent to the king; but instead of death, which he expected, received a pardon, and Edition: current; Page: [250] BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1291.was sent to reside at Multan, on a handsome appointment for life. To the Omrahs of the Chilligi, displeased at so much lenity, Feroze replied, “My friends, I am now an old man, and I wish to go down to the grave without shedding blood.”

The mind of this prince, however, did not, it seems, distinguish sufficiently between lenity and relaxation. The police of the empire was neglected; and robbery, murder, insurrection, ever ready to break loose in India, diffused insecurity over the nation. The Omrahs of the Chilligi “began,” says Ferishta, “to lengthen the tongue of reproach against their sovereign.” The design was conceived of raising one of themselves to the throne; the project was even discussed at an entertainment, at which they were assembled; but one of the company privately withdrew and informed the emperor, who immediately ordered them to be arrested and brought before him. It occurred to one of them to represent the affair as a drunken frolic, and the words as the suggestion of intoxication. The prince was pleased to accept the apology; and dismissed them with a rebuke. He was not so lenient to a Dirvesh, or professor of piety, who by the appearance of great sanctity, and by the distribution of great liberalities to the poor, the source of which no one could discover, acquired immense popularity; and on this foundation aspired, or was accused of aspiring, to the throne. Though little or no evidence appeared against him, he was cruelly put to death.

With his expiring breath, the holy Dirvesh cursed Feroze and his posterity; nature was thrown into convulsions upon the death of the saint; and from that hour the fortunes of Feroze were observed to decline. His eldest son was afflicted with insanity which no power of medicine could remove. Factions Edition: current; Page: [251] and rebellions disturbed his administration. In theBOOK III. Chap. 3. 1291. year 1291, Hindustan was invaded by a prince of the house of Gingis, at the head of 100,000 Moguls; and though Feroze engaged them, and obtained the advantage, he was glad to stipulate for the departure of the invaders by consenting to let them retreat unmolested.

In this reign occurred an event of great importance in the history of Hindustan: the first invasion of the Deccan by Mahomedan arms. Deccan means the south; and is applied in a general manner to the kingdoms and districts included in the southern portion of India. It does not appear that the application of the name was ever precisely fixed. It has been commonly spoken of as indicating the country south of the Nerbudda river, which falls into the Gulf of Cambay at Baroach; but as the Patan or Mogul sovereignties hardly extended beyond the river Kistna, it is only the country between those two rivers which in the language of India commonly passes under the name of Deccan.

Alla, the nephew of Feroze, was Nabob or Governor of Corah, one of the districts in the Doab, or country lying between the Ganges and Jumna. Having distinguished himself in a warfare with some rajahs who bordered on his province, he was gratified by the addition to his government of the province of Oude. His first success appears to have suggested further enterprise. He solicited and obtained the consent of Feroze to extend his empire over the Hindus. Having collected such an army as his resources allowed, he marched directly, by the shortest route, against Ramdeo, one of the rajahs of Deccan, whose capital was Deogur, now Dowlatabad.1 Alla met with Edition: current; Page: [252] BOOK III. Chap. 3. inconsiderable resistance; but finally prevailed; and exacted heavy contributions (exaggerated by the pen of Oriental history into incredible sums), as the price of his return. He retreated many days through several hostile and populous kingdoms; the governments of which were too weak or too stupid to offer any obstruction to his march.

Feroze was not without uneasiness upon intelligence of the ambitious adventure of Alla; and of the great addition to his power which the vastness of his plunder implied. He rejected, however, the advice of his wisest counsellors to take previous measures for the securing of his authority and power; and resolved to repose on the fidelity of his nephew. He was even so weak as to permit Alla, on feigned pretences, to entice him to Corah, where he was barbarously assassinated, having reigned only seven years and some months.

Alla made haste to get into his power the family of Feroze; of whom all who were the objects of any apprehension were unrelentingly murdered; and the rest confined. He had scarcely time, however, to settle the affairs of his government, when he learned that the Mogul sovereign of Transoxiana had invaded the Punjab with an army of 100,000 men. An army, commanded by his brother, was sent to expel them. A battle was fought in the neighbourhood of Lahore, in which the Indians were victorious, and the Moguls retreated. The successful general was sent into Guzerat, which he quickly reduced to the obedience of the Shah.

The Moguls returned the following year with much Edition: current; Page: [253] greater force; and marched even to the walls of DelhiBOOK III. Chap. 3. 1303., to which they laid siege. Alla at last collected his army, and gave them battle. Though his success was not decisive, the Moguls thought proper to retreat.

The king’s arbitrary maxims of government, and the odious manner in which he arrived at the supreme command, engendered disaffection; and during the first years of his reign he was harassed by perpetual insurrections and rebellions. He applied himself, however, with industry and intelligence, to the business of government; and though his administration was severe and oppressive, it was regular and vigorous, securing justice and protection to the body of the people. His education had been so neglected that he could neither read nor write; but feeling the disadvantages under which his ignorance laid him, he had firmness of mind to set about the work of his own instruction even upon the throne; acquired the inestimable faculties of reading and writing; made himself acquainted with the best authors in the Persian language; invited learned men to his court; and delighted in their conversation.

In 1303, he projected another expedition into Deccan by the way of Bengal, but was recalled by a fresh invasion of the Moguls of Transoxiana; who advanced as far as Delhi, but retreated without sustaining a battle. After their departure, he resolved, by an augmentation of his army, to leave himself nothing to fear from that audacious enemy. But reflecting that his revenues were unequal to so great a burden, he resolved to reduce the soldiers’ pay. Reflecting again, that this would be dangerous, while the price of articles continued the same, he ordered all prices to be reduced a half; by that means, says Ferishta, with an ignorance too often matched in Edition: current; Page: [254] BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1305.more instructed countries, “just doubling his treasures and revenue.” The Moguls were not discouraged by frequency of repulse. The armies of the king of Transoxiana twice invaded Hindustan in 1305, and were twice defeated by Tughlic, the general of Alla.

In the following year the design against Deccan was renewed, and prosecuted with greater resources. Cafoor, a slave and eunuch, his favourite, and, it was said, the instrument of his pleasures, was placed at the head of a grand army, and marched towards the south. He first “subdued the country of the Mahrattors,1 which he divided among his Omrahs,” and then proceeded to the siege of Deogur. Ramdeo endeavoured to make his peace by submission; and having agreed to pay a visit to the emperor at Delhi, and to hold his territories as a dependency, he was dismissed with magnificent presents, and his dominions were enlarged.

The division of Deccan, known by the name of Telingana, is supposed to have extended, along the eastern coast, from the neighbourhood of Cicacole on the north, to that of Pulicat on the south; and to have been separated on the west from the country known by the name of Maharashtra, or by contraction Mahratta, by a line passing, near Beder, and at some distance east of Dowlutabad, to the river Tapti.2

Alla was on his march against the Rajah of Warunkul, one of the princes of this district, in 1303, when he was recalled by another invasion of the Edition: current; Page: [255] Moguls. He made, indeed, a part of his army proceedBOOK III. Chap. 3. 1310. in the expedition, for the purpose of reducing the fort of Warunkul, a place of great strength, and, by repute, of immense riches; but the project failed. In 1307, Cafoor was ordered to march into Telingana by the way of Deoghur, and lay siege to Warunkul. Warunkul was taken by assault, after a siege of some months.1 The rajah made his peace, by sacrificing largely to the avarice of his conquerors, and accepting the condition of a tribute.

The more Alla tasted of the plunder of Deccan, the more he thirsted for additional draughts. In 1310, Cafoor was sent on a more distant expedition. He marched by Deoghur; and penetrating as far as Carnatic, took the Rajah prisoner, and ravaged his kingdom. According to the historians, he returned with such wealth as no country ever yielded to a predatory invader.2 Nor did he remain long at Delhi before he persuaded the Shah to send him once more into Deccan; where he ravaged several countries, and sent the plunder to Alla. This prince had ruined his constitution by intemperance in the seraglio; and felt his health in rapid decline. He sent for Cafoor from Deccan, and complained to him of the undutiful behaviour of his wife and his son. Cafoor, whose eyes had already turned themselves with longing to the throne, contemplated the displeasure of the emperor against his family as a means for realizing his most extravagant hopes. He prevailed upon Alla to throw his two eldest sons, and their Edition: current; Page: [256] BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1316.mother, into prison; and to put to death several of the chiefs by whom his pretensions were most likely to be opposed. When things were in this train, Alla expired in the year 1316, in the twenty-first year of his reign.

The time was not yet come when Cafoor deemed it expedient to declare himself king. He produced a testament, genuine or spurious, of the late prince, in which he appointed Omar, his youngest son, then seven years of age, his successor, and Cafoor regent. The first act of Cafoor’s administration was to put out the eyes of the two eldest of the sons of Alla: But there was a third, Mubarick, who escaped, till a conspiracy of the foot guards put the regent to death, only thirty-five days after the decease of his master. The reins of government were immediately put into the hands of Mubarick; but he thought proper to act in the name of his young brother, already upon the throne, for the space of two months, till he had gained the Omrahs. He then claimed his birthright; deposed his brother; according to the Asiatic custom, put out his eyes; and sent him for life to the fort of Gualior.

Mubarick was a man of vicious inclinations, and mean understanding. He for a moment sought popularity, by remitting the more oppressive of the taxes, and relaxing the reins of government; but the last so injudiciously, that disorder and depredation overran the country.

The reduction of the revolted Guzerat was one of the first measures of Mubarick. The enterprise, being entrusted to an officer of abilities, was successfully performed.

The Rajahs in the Deccan yielded a reluctant obedience; which, presuming on their distance, they imagined they might now, without much danger, Edition: current; Page: [257] suspend. Mubarick, in the second year of his reign,BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1321. raised a great army, and marched to Deoghur; where not finding much resistance, he did little more than display his cruelty, in the punishment of those, who, charged with enmity or disobedience, fell into his hands.

Among the favourites of Mubarick was Hassen, formerly a slave, and, according to Ferishta, the son of a seller of rags in Guzerat. This man was an instrument of the pleasures of the Shah; and upon his accession to the throne had been honoured with the title of Chusero, and raised to the office of Vizir. Finding nothing more to perform in the region of Deoghur, Mubarick placed Chusero at the head of a part of the army, and sent him on an expedition against Malabar, while he himself returned with the remainder to Delhi.

The vices of Mubarick, and of his government, became daily more odious. He was the slave of every species of intemperance, and void of every humane or manly quality, which could procure the indulgence of mankind to his faults. Conspiracy succeeded conspiracy, and one insurrection another; till Chusero, beholding the contempt in which his master was held, believed he might shed his blood with safety, and place himself upon his throne. The reputation and plunder, derived from the success of his expedition to Malabar,1 had added greatly to his power. He made use of his influence over the mind of the emperor to fill with his creatures the chief places both in the army and the state. In the year 1321, he conceived himself prepared for the blow; when in one night Mubarick and his sons were destroyed.

Edition: current; Page: [258]

BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1323.On mounting the throne, Chusero assumed the title of Nasir ul dien, or defender of religion; a cause which has seldom been associated with that of government, except for the purposes of fraud; and Chusero, it seems, was aware that, for his government, such a covering was required.

He put to death, without remorse, a great multitude of persons in the service of Mubarick; all those from whom he imagined that he had any thing to fear; and distributed the offices of government among his creatures. “The army,” says Ferishta, “loved nothing better than a revolution; for they had always, upon such an occasion, a donation of six months’ pay immediately advanced from the treasury:” so exactly does military despotism resemble itself, on the banks of the Tiber, and those of the Ganges.

But though Chusero met with no opposition in ascending the throne; he did not long enjoy his kingdom in peace.

Ghazi was governor of Lahore; and though, for the sake of securing him to his interest, Chusero had bestowed high office and rank upon his son Jonah, Jonah made his escape from Delhi, and joined his father at Lahore.

Ghazi dispatched circular letters to the Omrahs; exerted himself to raise forces; and was joined by several of the viceroys with their troops. Chusero dispatched an army to subdue the rebellion; but the soldiers of Ghazi were hardened by frequent wars with the Moguls; those of Chusero, enervated by the debauchery of the city, were broken at the first onset; and the confederates marched with expedition to the capital. Chusero was ready to receive them with another army. Though betrayed and deserted in the action by a part of his troops, he maintained the conflict till night; when he made a Edition: current; Page: [259] fruitless endeavour to fly with a few of his friends.BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1323. Deserted by his attendants, and dragged from his lurking place, he met the fate which he would have bestowed.

The Omrahs hastened to pay their respects to the victor; and the magistrates of Delhi presented to him the keys. Mounting his horse, he entered the city, and arriving at the gates of the palace, he addressed the people; “O ye subjects of this great empire! I am no more than one of you, who unsheathed my sword to deliver you from oppression, and rid the world of a monster. If, therefore, any of the royal line remains, let him be brought, that we, his servants, may prostrate ourselves before his throne. If not; let the most worthy of the illustrious order be elected among you, and I shall swear to abide by your choice.” But the people cried out, with vehemence, that none of the royal family remained alive; and that he, who had protected the empire from the Moguls, and delivered it from the tyrant, was the most worthy to reign. He was then seized, and by a sort of violence placed upon the throne; the people hailing him “King of the World.”

Tuglick is the name, by which the new emperor chose to be distinguished. It was the name of his father, who is understood to have been a slave in the service of Balin. His mother was of the tribe of the Jaats.

After appointing the instruments of his government, the first care of Tuglick was to secure his northern frontier against the formidable incursions of the Moguls; and so judiciously did he station his force, and erect his forts, that he was not once molested by those invaders during his reign.

This being accomplished, he sent his son Jonah into the Deccan to chastise the Rajah of Warunkul, Edition: current; Page: [260] BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1323.who, during the late disorders, “had withdrawn his neck from the yoke of obedience.” Jonah, with the usual ease, hardly meeting with any resistance, overran the Hindu kingdoms; leaving every where behind him the cruel marks of imperial vengeance and avarice. After a few efforts in the field, the Rajah of Warunkul shut himself up in his strong-hold, and was besieged. From the strength of the place, the siege was a work of time; during which sickness, and along with sickness, desire to return, and from that desire opposed, disaffection, spread themselves in the Mahomedan army. Several of the Omrahs withdrew with their troops; when the Prince, no longer able to continue the siege, retreated, first to Deoghur, and thence to Delhi. The army was recruited with great expedition, and he marched again in a few months towards Warunkul, which soon yielded to his arms. Many thousands of the Hindus were put to the sword; and the Rajah and his family were sent to Delhi. Appointing Omrahs to the government of Telingana, he marched against Cuttack, where he gained some advantages, and then returned by the way of Warunkul to Delhi.

Tuglick, receiving complaints of great oppression against his officers in Bengal, appointed Jonah governor of Delhi, and marched toward that province with an army. Nazir, the grandson of the emperor Balin, had possessed the viceroyalty of Bengal, since the death of his father. He advanced to meet the Emperor with submission and presents; and was confirmed in his government. Jonah, with the nobles of Delhi, went out to meet his father with rejoicings upon his return. A wooden house was hastily erected to entertain him. When the entertainment was concluded, and the emperor was about to retire, the Omrahs hurrying out to be in readiness to attend him, the roof suddenly fell in, and crushed him with Edition: current; Page: [261] several of his attendants; whether by the contrivanceBOOK III. Chap. 3. 1324-51. of Jonah, by the fault of the building, or a stroke of lightning, was variously conjectured and believed. He reigned but four years and some months, with the reputation of a wise and excellent prince.

Jonah mounted the throne by the title of Mahomed III.; and began his reign with acts of liberality and beneficence. He distributed profuse gifts, and made magnificent appointments. This prince was a compound of heterogeneous qualities. He was generous to profusion; a lover of literature, in which he had made considerable acquirements; he was not only temperate but austere in his manner of life, and an attentive performer of acts of religion; he had no regard, however, to justice, or to humanity; he was cruel and vindictive as a man; oppressive and tyrannical as a ruler. His plans proceeded on the supposition, that the happiness or misery of his subjects was a matter of indifference; and when their disaffection began to afford him uneasiness, their misery seemed to become an object of preference and a source of gratification. He displayed however no contemptible talents in supporting himself against the hatred and detestation of mankind.

Immediately upon his accession he directed his attention to the further subjugation of Deccan; but more, it would appear, with a view to plunder, than to permanent dominion. His generals appear to have over-run a large portion of its more accessible parts. He reduced the Carnatic; and in the hyperbolical language of Ferishta, spread his conquests to the extremity of the Deccan, and from sea to sea.

He adopted frantic schemes of ambition. He raised an army for the conquest of the kingdom of Transoxiana and Chorasan, and another for the subjugation of China. Previous to the grand expedition Edition: current; Page: [262] BOOK III. Chap. 3. 324–51.against China, 100,000 horse were sent to explore the route through the mountains, and to establish forts to the confines of China. The horse did, we are told, penetrate to the frontiers of China, but were met with an army which they durst not oppose; and the rains, covering with water the roads and the plains, obstructed their retreat. They perished through fatigue, famine, and disease; and scarcely a man survived to describe the disaster. The inaccurate and uninstructive genius of Oriental history gives us no information respecting the track which this illfated army pursued.

The expense of Mahomed’s government led him to oppress his subjects by increase of taxes. To this great cause of misery and discontent, he added others by injudicious schemes of finance. “The King,” says Ferishta, “unfortunately for his people, adopted his ideas upon currency, from a Chinese custom of using paper upon the emperor’s credit, with the royal seal appended, for ready money. Mahomed, instead of paper, struck a copper coin, which, being issued at an imaginary value, he made current by a decree throughout Hindustan.” This produced so much confusion and misery, and so completely obstructed the collection of the revenue, that Mahomed was obliged to recall his debased coin; and individuals acquired immense fortunes by the ruin of many thousands, the general misery of the people, and the impoverishment of the sovereign.

Being called into Deccan, to suppress an insurrection raised by his nephew, whom be ordered to be flead alive, and in that condition carried, a horrid spectacle, round the city; he took a fancy to the situation of Deoghur, resolved to make it his capital, by the name of Dowlatabad, and to remove thither the inhabitants of Delhi. This caprice he carried Edition: current; Page: [263] into execution; unmoved by the calamities that wereBOOK III. Chap. 3. 1324-51. to fall upon the individuals; and unable to foresee the alienation in the minds of men to which the sight and the reports of so much unnecessary evil must of necessity expose him. “The emperor’s orders,” says the historian, “were strictly complied with, and the ancient capital left desolate.”

The provinces, one after another, began now to rebel. The Governor of Multan set the example. Scarcely was he subdued when Bengal broke into insurrection. This too the vigour of Mahomed quickly reduced. He was thence summoned by disturbances in Telingana, where he lost great part of his army, by a plague, then raging at Warunkul. But what, to the mind of Mahomed, was of more importance than the lives of half the inhabitants of Hindustan, he himself was afflicted with the tooth-ach. He even lost a tooth. This he commanded to be buried with solemn pomp, and a magnificent tomb to be erected over it.

Calamity in every shape assailed the wretched subjects of Mahomed. Such was the excess of taxation, that in many parts, particularly in the fertile country between the Jumna and the Ganges, the cultivators fled from their fields and houses, and preferred a life of plunder and rapine in the woods. From this, and from unfavourable seasons, famine raged about Delhi, and the neighbouring provinces; and multitudes of people perished from want. A chief of the Afghauns came down from the mountains, and plundered the province of Multan. The fierce tribes of Hindus, called by Ferishta, Gickers, were combined by a leader, and ravaged the Punjab and Lahore.

Mahomed, struck at last with the calamities of his reign, had recourse to religion for a cure. He sent a splendid embassy to Mecca, that, his coronation being Edition: current; Page: [264] BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1324-51.confirmed by the successor of the prophet, the blessing of Heaven might descend upon his throne.

The Rajahs of Telingana and the Carnatic formed a confederacy; and within a few months expelled the Mahomedans from every place in the Deccan, except Dowlatabad.

Even the Viceroy of Oude rebelled. But the Emperor, marching against him with expedition, brought him quickly to his feet. Contrary to his usual practice, Mahomed pardoned the offender, and even restored him to his government; declaring, that he would not believe in his guilt, and ascribing his transgression to a temporary delusion, which the malice and falsehood of others had produced.

An effort was made to regain what had been lost in Deccan, and governors and troops were dispatched to the different districts; who in the way of plunder performed considerable feats. But in the mean time disturbances of a new description broke out in Guzerat. Of the mercenary troops, composed of Tartars, Afghauns, and other hardy races from the North, in which consisted a great proportion of the armies of the Mahomedan emperors of Hindustan, a considerable number, during some ages, had been Moguls. Of these it would appear that a considerable body had been sent to keep in check the turbulent inhabitants of Guzerat. They began now to commit depredations, and to set the power of Mahomed at defiance. Mahomed resolved to punish and extirpate them. The presence of the emperor, and their fears made them withdraw from Guzerat; but they retired into Deccan; and took Dowlatabad by surprise. Mahomed allowed them little time to make an establishment. They ventured to meet him in battle; when they were partly slain and partly dispersed. Before he could take the city, fresh disturbances arose in Guzerat. Edition: current; Page: [265] Leaving an Omrah to push the reduction of DowlatabadBOOK III. Chap. 3. 1351-57., he hastened to the new insurgents. An army of no inconsiderable magnitude opposed him. He carried on his operations with vigour, and once more prevailed. But in the mean time the Moguls in Deccan, gathering strength upon his departure, defeated his General, and pursued his troops toward Malwa. He resolved to march against them in person. But the settlement of Guzerat was an arduous and a tedious task. Before it was concluded, he fell sick, and died in the year 1351, after a reign of twenty-seven years.

His death was propitious to the Moguls in Deccan; and afforded time for laying the foundation of a Mahomedan empire, which rose to considerable power, and preserved its existence for several centuries. Upon seizing Dowlatabad, the rebel chiefs agreed to elect a sovereign; when their choice fell upon Ismael, an Afghaun, who had been commander of a thousand in the imperial army. Among the insurgents, was a military adventurer of the name of Hussun. Wonderful things are recorded of his predestination to power; as usually happens in the case of those who, from a degraded station, rise to great command over the hopes and fears of mankind. He was an Afghaun slave or dependent of a Brahmen, who professed astrology in Delhi. The Brahmen gave him a couple of oxen to cultivate a piece of waste ground near the city, as means of a livelihood; where his plough turned up a treasure. He informed the Brahmen; and the Brahmen, equally conscientious, or equally cautious, the emperor. The Emperor, struck with the honesty of Hussun, bestowed upon him the command of one hundred horse. The Brahmen told him, that he saw by the stars, he was destined to greatness, and stipulated that, when king of Deccan, he would make Edition: current; Page: [266] BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1351-57.him his minister. Hussun offered his services to the first commander who was sent into Deccan; joined the insurgents; and when Ismael was chosen king, he was decorated with the title of Zuffeir Khan; and received a large jaghire for the maintenance of his troops.

After Mahomed was summoned from Deccan, by the new disturbances in Guzerat, and after his general was obliged to raise the siege of Dowlatabad, Zuffeir Khan marched with twenty thousand horse against Beder, a city on the Godavery, nearly a hundred miles north-west from Golconda, and about the same distance west from Warunkul. This had been the seat of a Hindu rajahship; it was at this time a station of one of the imperial generals. Zuffeir Khan, obtaining the assistance of the Rajah of Warunkul, who sent him fifteen thousand men; and being reinforced with five thousand horse, detached to his assistance by the new king of Dowlatabad, engaged and defeated the army of Mahomed. Returning, with glory and plunder, he was met, before reaching the capital, by the king; who could not help observing, that more attention was paid to the general than to himself. Making a merit of what would soon be necessity; and taking the pretext of his great age, he proposed to retire from the cares of government, and recommend Zuffeir Khan as successor. The proposition was applauded; and the slave or peasant Hussun, mounting the new throne by the style and title of Sultan Alla ad dien Hussun Kongoh Bhamenee, became the founder of the Bhamenee dynasty. Koolburga, or Culberga, which had been the place of his residence, he named Ahssunabad, and rendered it the capital of the Deccanee empire.

Sultan Alla was not unmindful of his ancient master; from whose name he added the term Kongoh, Edition: current; Page: [267] and according to some authorities, that of Bahmenee,BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1357-89. Brahmen being so pronounced, to his royal titles. He invited Kongoh from Delhi; made him lord of the treasury; and in his edicts associated the name of the Brahmen with his own. Hussun lived, after the acquisition of royalty, eleven years, two months, and seven days; having in that time reduced to his obedience all the regions in Deccan which had ever acknowledged the sway of the emperors of Delhi. He governed with wisdom and moderation, and died at Koolburga, in the year 1357, and the sixty-seventh year of his age.1

Upon the death of the emperor Mahomed, his nephew Feroze, whom he recommended for his successor, was in the imperial camp; and without difficulty mounted the throne. The nerves of the state were relaxed by mis-government; and it displayed but little vigour during the days of Feroze. The governor of Bengal aspired to independence; and the emperor, after several efforts, being unable to reduce him to obedience, was forced to content himself with a nominal subjection.2 Feroze, however, employed himself with laudable solicitude, in promoting agriculture, and the internal prosperity of his dominions. He lived till the age of ninety years; twenty-eight of Edition: current; Page: [268] BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1357-89.which he spent upon the throne. He is celebrated in history for having constructed fifty great aqueducts or reservoirs of water; forty mosques; thirty schools; twenty caravanseras; an hundred palaces; five hospitals; one hundred tombs; ten baths; ten spires; one hundred and fifty wells; one hundred bridges; and pleasure-gardens, without number.

Mahomed, a son of Feroze, had received the reins of government from his father, when the weight of them began to press heavily upon his aged hands. A conspiracy, however, of the Omrahs, had, after a time, obliged him to fly from the throne; and Feroze made Tuglick, his grandson, successor. Tuglick was a friend to pleasure; and slenderly provided with talents. He made an effort to get into his power Mahomed, his uncle, who had been chased from the throne; but Mahomed threw himself into the fort of Nagracote, which, for the present, it was deemed inexpedient to attack. The emperor, meanwhile, inspired so little respect, that Abu Becker, his cousin, in danger from his jealousy, found himself able to hurry him to his grave. By means of some Omrahs, he corrupted the imperial slaves; who assassinated their master, after he had reigned but five months.

Abu Becker was hardly more fortunate. Some of the Mogul mercenaries, in the imperial service, conspired against him, and invited Mahomed from Nagracote, to place himself at their head. Mahomed succeeded; and Abu Becker resigned his life and his throne, one year and six months after the death of Tuglick.

In the reign of Mahomed, the Mahrattors (Mahrattas) again appear in the field. They were soon brought to submission; and Narsing their prince waited upon the emperor at Delhi. The six years of this emperor were chiefly employed in subduing or Edition: current; Page: [269] anticipating the insurrections of the provincial OmrahsBOOK III. Chap. 3. 1389-96. or governors, from whom he enjoyed scarce an interval of repose. His son Humaioon, who succeeded him, was seized with a fatal disorder, and survived his father not many days.

The Omrahs, after high dispute, at last raised Mahmood, an infant son of the late Mahomed, to the throne. The distractions in the empire increased.

Three of the most powerful Omrahs of the court, Mubarick, Ekbal, and Sadit, fell into deadly feuds. The emperor having left the capital, with the army commanded by Sadit, Mubarick, fearing the resentment of Sadit, shut the gates of the city. The emperor was constrained to abandon Sadit, before he was allowed to re-enter his capital and palace. Joined by his sovereign, Mubarick, the next day, marched out and gave battle to Sadit, but was worsted and forced back into the city. As the rains had commenced, Sadit was obliged to lead his army into quarters. He immediately sent for Nuserit, a prince of the blood, and set him up in opposition to Mahmood, by the name of Nuserit Shah. A conspiracy soon threw Sadit into the hands of Mubarick, who put him to death. But a strong party adhered to Nuserit; and a most destructive contest ensued between the partisans of the rival kings. The balance continued nearly even for the space of three years, during which every species of calamity oppressed the wretched inhabitants. Some of the distant Subahdars looked on with satisfaction, contemplating their own elevation in the depression of the imperial power. But in the year 1396, Mahomed Jehangheer, the grandson of Timur, or Tamerlane, having constructed a bridge over the Indus, invaded Multan. The governor, who already regarded the province as his own, opposed him with Edition: current; Page: [270] BOOK III. Chap. 3. contemptible force; but was overcome, and resigned Multan to the conqueror. In the mean time the Omrah Ekbal obtained and betrayed the confidence of Nuserit, whom he obliged to fly to Paniput. He opened a deceitful negotiation with the Emperor, under cover of which he surprised and slew Mubarick. All power now centred in Ekbal; and the emperor was converted into a cipher. In this situation were affairs at Delhi, when intelligence arrived that Timur himself had crossed the Indus.

The birth of Timur, or Tamerlane, was cast at one of those recurring periods, in the history of the Asiatic sovereignties, when the enjoyment of power, for several generations, having extinguished all manly virtues in the degenerate descendants of some active usurper, prepares the governors of the provinces for revolt, dissolves the power of the state, and opens the way for the elevation of some new and daring adventurer. At no preceding period, perhaps, had these causes enervated the powers of government over so great a part of Asia at once, as at the time of Tamerlane. The descendants of Gingis had had formed their immense conquests into three great kingdoms; of which Persia was one; the intermediate regions of Transoxiana, Chorasan, Bactria, and Zabulistan or Candahar, and Cabul, lying between Persia and Tartary, were the second; and Tartary itself, or rather Tartary and China in conjunction, the third. The dynasties of the race of Gingis, in all these several kingdoms, had been in possession of power so long, as now to display the effects which possession of power in Asia invariably produces. The reigning sovereigns had every where given themselves up to the vices which are the natural growth of the throne; the viceroys of the provinces despised their authority; and weakness and distraction pervaded Edition: current; Page: [271] the empire. About thirty years before theBOOK III. Chap. 3. 1396. birth of Timur, the kingdom of Persia had undergone a species of dissolution; almost every province, under a rebel governor, had been erected into an independency, and the whole divided into a number of petty states. From nearly the same period, the kingdom of Zagatai, (this was the intermediate sovereignty, so called from that son of Gingis whose inheritance it became,) had been contended for by a succession of usurpers. The Mogul throne of Tartary and China had been less violently agitated, but was greatly reduced in power. Into what confusion and weakness the Afghaun empire of Delhi had fallen, we have seen in sufficient detail.

Timur was born forty miles to the south of Samarcand, in the village of Sebzar, where his fathers, enjoying the rank or command of a toman of horse, had possessed a local authority for some generations. Timur had, from a tender age, been involved in the warfare of a distracted period; and by his courage, activity, and address, had at five and twenty fixed upon himself the hopes and esteem of a large proportion of his countrymen. Amid the other calamities which had fallen upon the kingdom of Zagatai or Samarcand, upon the breaking up of the government of the descendants of Gingis, the Tartars of Cashgar had been incited, by the apparent weakness of the state, to invade the country, where they now oppressed and massacred the wretched inhabitants. Timur stood forward as the deliverer of his country; but when the day for action arrived, the chiefs who had promised to support him betrayed their engagements, and he was constrained to fly to the desert with only sixty horsemen. Timur run every sort of danger, and endured every sort of hardship, for several months, during which he led the life of a fugitive Edition: current; Page: [272] BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1396.or outlaw. By degrees, however, he collected a party of well-tried adherents. The soldiers of fortune, the most adventurous of the youth, gathered around him. He harassed the Tartars by daring, yet cautious onsets; whence he increased his reputation, and multiplied his followers. After a series of struggles, the invaders were finally driven from Transoxiana. But it was not till the age of thirty-four, and after a course of strenuous and fortunate activity, that he was raised by the general voice to the undivided sovereignty of his native country.

Placed on the throne of Samarcand, the eye of Timur perceived the situation of the neighbouring countries. The provinces or kingdoms which had become detached from the house of Zagatai; Karisme, and Chorasan; first tempted his restless ambition; and some years were spent in adding these important conquests to his dominion. The contiguous provinces of Persia; Mazenderan and Segistan, to which was added Zabulistan, the grand southern or Indian district of the kingdom of Zagatai; next employed his conquering arms. These enterprises successfully terminated, he passed into Fars, the Persia proper; into Persian Irac, and Aderbijian, the conquest of which he completed in two years. The princes or usurpers of the provinces, Shirvan and Gilan, sent to make their submissions, and to promise obedience. At Shiraz, in the year 1386, he received intelligence, that Toktamish Khan, a Tartar chief, whose authority was acknowledged throughout the region known to the Persians under the title of Desht Kapshak, north of the Caspian, had made incursion into Transoxiana. He flew to repel the invader; and the desire of chastising Toktamish was the primary cause of the conquests of Timur in Turkestan. He followed his enemy into regions, void of houses, where Edition: current; Page: [273] the men fled before him. When far driven to theBOOK III. Chap. 3. 1397. north, they were at last constrained to fight; and the army of Timur, after severe suffering, repaid itself by a complete victory, which compelled Toktamish, with his remaining followers, to take shelter in the mountains on the western side of the Caspian Sea. From this enterpise, the victor returned to complete the conquest of Persia. He drove from the city of Bagdad, the last prince in Persia of the house of Gingis; he conquered the whole of Mesopotamia; pushed his way into Tartary through mount Caucasus, to chastise anew the insolence of Toktamish, who had passed Derbend and made an inroad in Shirvan; and, having settled these extensive acquisitions, was, in 1396, prepared to carry his army across the Indus.

Timur proceeded from Samarcand, by the city of Termed, and passing a little to the eastward of Balk, arrived at Anderob, a city on the borders of that stupendous ridge of mountains which separates Hindustan from the regions of the north. The difficulties of the passage were not easily surmounted; but every thing yielded to the power and perseverance of Timur. He descended to the city of Cabul; whence he marched towards Attock, the celebrated passage of the Indus; and in the year 1397, commenced his operations against Mubarick, who governed the frontier provinces of the empire of Delhi. Mubarick betook himself to a place of strength, and resisted the detachment sent to subdue him; but on the approach of the conqueror with his whole army, fled, with his family and treasure. The attention of Timur was now called to the situation of his grandson, who had invaded Hindustan the preceding year. The solstitial rains had forced him to draw his army into Multan, after it had suffered much from the season; and no sooner was he enclosed within the city, than Edition: current; Page: [274] BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1397.the people of the country invested it, preventing supplies. Mahomed was reduced to the greatest distress, when his grandfather detached a body of horse to support him, and soon after followed with his whole army. He ravaged Multan and Lahore, putting the inhabitants of such of the cities as presumed to offer any resistance indiscriminately to the sword. Without further delay, he directed his march towards Delhi, and encamped before the citadel.

On the seventh day, though unlucky, Ekbal, and his ostensible sovereign, marched out to engage him. But the enervated troops of Delhi scarcely bore to commence the action with the fierce soldiers of the north; and Timur pursued them with great slaughter to the walls of Delhi. Ekbal, and Mahmood, fled from the city in the night, the sovereign towards Guzerat, the minister towards Birren; upon which the magistrates and omrahs of the city tendered their submissions; and opened the gates. In levying the heavy contributions imposed upon the city, disputes arose between the Moguls of Timur and the inhabitants; when blood began to flow. One act of violence led to another, till the city was involved in one atrocious scene of sack and massacre, which Timur was either (authorities differ) careless to prevent, or pleased to behold.

Timur remained at Delhi fifteen days, and arrested the progress of conquest in Hindustan. Having received the submissions of several omrahs, the governors or subahdars of provinces, and confirmed them in their commands, he marched in a northern direction, over-running the country on both sides of the Ganges, till he reached the celebrated spot where it issues from the mountains. He then advanced along the bottom of the hills to Cabul, and thence proceeded to Samarcand.

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Delhi remained in a state of anarchy for twoBOOK III. Chap. 3. 1413. months after the departure of the Moguls. It was then entered by the pretended emperor Nuserit, with a small body of horse. Ekbal, however, by means of some Zemindars, was still able to dislodge him, and recovered the Dooab or country between the rivers, which, with a small district round the city, was all that now acknowledged the sovereign of Delhi. The governors or subahdars of the provinces all assumed independence, and adopted royal titles. Lahore, Dibalpore [Punjab], and Multan, were seized by Chizer; Canoge, Oude, Corah, and Jionpoor, by Shaja Jehan, then styled the king of the East; Guzerat, by Azim; Malwa, by Delawir; and the other departments, by those who happened in each to have in their hands the reins of government. Ekbal made some efforts, but attended with little success, to extend his limits. He received Mahmood, who fled from the disrespectful treatment bestowed on him by the governor or king of Guzerat; but compelled him to live on a pension, without claiming any share in the government. At last he came to blows with Chizer, the powerful usurper of Multan and Lahore; when he was defeated, and lost his life in the action. Mahmood then recovered a small remainder of the power which once belonged to the Shahs of Delhi; but knew not how to employ it either for his own or the public advantage. Nothing but the struggles and contests which prevailed among the usurpers of the provinces prevented some one of them from seizing his throne, and extinguishing his impotent reign in his blood; when dying of a fever, in the year 1413, “the empire fell,” says Ferishta, “from the race of the Turks [or Tartars] who were adopted slaves of the emperor Edition: current; Page: [276] BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1413.Mahomed Gauri, the second of the race of the sovereigns of India, called the dynasty of Gaur.”1 An Omrah, who happened to be in command at Delhi, presumed to mount the vacant throne; but Chizer, with the troops and resources of Multan and Lahore, found little difficulty in throwing him down from his rash elevation.

Within a short period subsequent to the departure of Timur from Delhi, that conqueror had settled the affairs of Persia; reduced Syria, Egypt, and Asia Minor; defeated Bajazet the Turkish emperor on the plains of Galatia; and prepared a vast expedition against China, which he was conducting through the plains and across the mountains of Tartary, when he fell sick, and died, in the year 1405, leaving his vast empire to his son Shiroch.

Chizer, it seems, was of the race of the prophet. His father had been adopted as the son of a great Omrah, who was governor of Multan, in the reign of Feroze. Upon the death of this Omrah and his son, the father of Chizer succeeded as Subahdar of Multan, and from him the government descended to his son. At the time when Timur arrived in India, he was involved in difficulties, through the power of a neighbouring chief; and had the prudence, or good luck, to solicit the protection of the conqueror, who confirmed him in the government of Multan, and added to it several other important provinces.

Chizer affected to decline the title of sovereign; pretending that he held the government of India Edition: current; Page: [277] only as deputy of the house of Timur, in whose nameBOOK III. Chap. 3. 1420. he ordered the coin to be struck, and the instruments of government to be expedited. By this expedient, we are told, he obviated the jealousies and competition of the Omrahs, many of whom would have regarded their claim to the throne as preferable to his own. Chizer governed with considerable abilities; and the people again tasted the fruits of peace and protection under his reign. He made but little progress in reannexing the revolted provinces to the empire of Delhi. He reigned, however, from the furthest branch of the Indus, to the extremity of the Doab; and from the Cashmere and Himaleh mountains to the latitude of Gualior.

After a reign of seven years and some months his death transferred the government to Mubarick his son. Mubarick was early involved in a contest with the Gickers, who, under a leader of the name of Jisserit, continued to molest the Punjab and Lahore during the whole of his reign. The Hindu tribes in the hill country of Mewat, to the south of Delhi; those also in the hill country to the north of Budaoon or Rohilcund, gave him at various periods no little disturbance. A war was at one time kindled between him and the governor who had usurped the provinces lying eastward from Delhi, and was then known by the title of the King of the East. Coming however to a drawn battle, the two sovereigns were contented ever after to leave each other in peace. A rebellious slave, in the northern provinces, drew him into a contest with the Moguls of the empire of Samarcand; the rebel having invited the Viceroy of Shiroch who resided at Cabul, to come to his assistance. The Moguls were defeated in battle and repelled. Mubarick, however, in consequence of a conspiracy, headed by the Vizir, was shortly after assassinated, in Edition: current; Page: [278] BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1420-46.the fourteenth year of a reign, during which he had displayed considerable talents for government, and more than usual attention to justice and humanity.

The Vizir placed Mahomed, a grandson of Mubarick upon the throne, expecting to govern the kingdom in his name, or in time to appropriate the shadow as well as the substance of command. But the Omrahs were disgusted with his pretensions, and levied war; which enabled or compelled the king to rid himself by assassination of his domineering minister. The Omrahs returned to obedience; and the king, after making a parade of his power in a progress through several of the provinces, returned to Delhi, and resigned himself to pleasure. The temper of the times was not such as to permit a negligent hand to hold the reins of government with impunity. The Omrahs in the distant governments began immediately to prepare for independence. Beloli Lodi, the governor of Serhind, a town on the Sutledge, or eastern branch of the Indus, made himself master of Lahore, of the greater part of the Punjab, and the country eastwards as far as Paniput, within a few leagues of Delhi. Beloli retired before the imperial army, but preserved his own entire; and reoccupied the country as soon as the troops of Mahomed returned. Another Viceroy, who had become independent in Malwa, and assumed the title of its King, marched against the feeble sovereign of Delhi, who saw no hopes of safety, but in calling the rebel Beloli to his aid. An indecisive action was fought: and the monarchs of Delhi and Malwa, both suffering from their fears, made haste to quiet their minds by huddling up an adjustment; but Beloli attacked in its retreat the army of Malwa, which he plundered and deprived of its baggage. He was dispatched by Mahomed against Jisserit the Gicker chief, who still Edition: current; Page: [279] harassed the northern provinces. But Beloli madeBOOK III. Chap. 3. 1446. his own terms with the plunderer; and returned to besiege Delhi. It held out however so long, that for the present he abandoned the enterprise. Mahomed shortly after died, his power reduced to a shadow, after a reign of twelve years and some months.

In the same year, viz. 1446, died Shiroch, son of Timur, and Emperor of the Moguls. Upon his death the vast empire of Timur, which had yet remained entire, underwent division. The eldest son of Shiroch, the famous Ulug Beg, inherited the imperial titles, and the dominion of Western Tartary or Transoxiana. The eldest son of Basinker, another of the sons of Timur, possessed himself of Chorasan, Candahar, and Cabul. The second son of Basinker held possession of the Western Persia. And Abul Kazem, the third of Timur’s sons, became sovereign of Georgia, and Mazenderan.

Alla, the son of Mahomed, mounted the throne of Delhi, honoured now with the obedience of little more than a few of the contiguous districts. Alla showed no talents for government; and after a few years, being attacked by Beloli, resigned to him the throne, upon condition of receiving the government of Budaoon, where he lived and died in peace.

Beloli was an Afghaun, of the tribe of Lodi, which subsisted chiefly by carrying on the traffic between Hindustan and Persia. Ibrahim, the grandfather of Beloli, a wealthy trader, repaired to the court of Feroze at Delhi; and acquired sufficient influence to be entrusted with the government of Multan. When Chizer succeeded to the same command, he made the son of Ibrahim master of his Afghaun troops; and afterwards bestowed upon him the government of Serind. Beloli was not the son of the governor of Edition: current; Page: [280] BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1446.Serhind, but of another of the sons of Ibrahim. Beloli, upon the death of his father, repaired to his uncle at Serhind, and so effectually cultivated his favour, that he received his daughter in marriage, and his recommendation to succeed him in his government. But Ibrahim left a brother Feroze, and a son Cuttub, who disputed the pretensions of the son-in-law of the governor of Serhind. Beloli was the most powerful and adroit; and of course the successful competitor. The rest, however, excited against him the Emperor of Delhi. His country was attacked and over-run. But Beloli kept his army together, and speedily recovered his territory, when the imperial troops were withdrawn. By activity, valour, and skill, something was daily added to the power of Beloli; by indolence, effeminacy, and folly, something was daily detached from the power of the sovereign of Delhi; till Beloli was able to measure strength with him, on more than equal terms, and finally to seat himself on his throne.

The mother of Beloli was smothered, while pregnant, under the ruins of a falling house. Her husband, opening her body, saved the infant, afterwards emperor of Hindustan. It is related that when Beloli was yet a youth, in the service of his uncle, a famous Dirvesh, whom he came to visit, suddenly cried out with enthusiasm, Who will give two thousand rupees for the empire of Delhi? Beloli had but one thousand six hundred rupees in the world. But he sent his servant immediately to bring them. The Dirvesh, receiving the money, laid his hand upon the head of Beloli, and gave him salutation and blessing as the king of Delhi. Ridiculed by his companions as a dupe, Beloli replied, that if he obtained the crown it was cheaply purchased; if not, still the benediction of a holy man was not without its use.

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Those Omrahs, who regarded their own pretensionsBOOK III. Chap. 3. 1480. to the throne as not inferior to those of Beloli, were disaffected. A party of them joined Mahmood, who held the usurped sovereignty of Bahar, and the country towards Orissa; and was called king of Jionpoor, the city, at which he resided, on the banks of the Goomty, about 40 miles from Benares. The victory which Beloli gained over their united forces established him firmly on his throne.

Beloli made a progress through his unsettled provinces, confirming or removing the several governors, as he supposed them affected to his interests. He was not long suffered to remain in peace. Between him and the rival sovereign of Jionpoor, or the East, an undecisive war was carried on during the whole of his reign. The advantage, partly through force, and partly through treachery, was, upon the whole, on the side of Beloli, who at last drove the king of the East from Jionpoor, and severed from his dominions the district to which it belonged. In his declining years Beloli divided the provinces of his empire among his sons, relations, and favourites; and died at an advanced age, in the thirty-ninth year of his reign. He was a modest sovereign; and when reproved by his friends for showing so little of the prince, “It was enough for him,” he replied, “that the world knew he was king; without his making a vain parade of royalty.”

The partition which Beloli made of his dominions had no tendency to prevent those disputes about the succession, which are so frequent in the East; but neither, perhaps, did it augment them. A strong party of the Omrahs declared for Secunder, one of the younger sons of Beloli; and after some struggle of no great importance he was seated firmly on the throne. The usual measures were pursued for placing Edition: current; Page: [282] BOOK III. Chap. 3. 1525.the provinces in a state of obedience; and Secunder was stimulated to endeavour the restoration of some of the districts which for several reigns had affected independence on the throne of Delhi. The tranquillity, however, of an empire, which had been so long distracted, was not easily preserved; and Secunder was perpetually recalled from the frontiers of his kingdom, to anticipate or to quell insurrections within. He waged notwithstanding a successful war with the king of the East, who had been driven from Jionpoor by the father, and was now driven from Bahar by the son. But he found himself unequal to a war for the recovery of Bengal, to the confines of which he had once more extended the empire of Delhi; and that important province still remained in the hands of the usurper. Secunder reigned, with the reputation of abilities and of no inconsiderable virtue, for twentyeight years and five months, and was succeeded by his son Ibrahim.

Ibrahim had personal courage, and was not altogether destitute of talents; but he was a violent, capricious, unthinking prince; and quickly lost the affections and respect of his subjects. One of his maxims was, “that kings had no relations; for that all men equally were the slaves of the monarch.” This, though perfectly constitutional doctrine in the East, was a language which had now become unusual to the proud Omrahs of the falling throne of Delhi. Ibrahim was involved in an uninterrupted struggle with rebellion; against which, however, he maintained himself, during a space of twenty years. His empire was then invaded by Baber, a descendant of the great Timur, who in 1525 deprived him at once of his throne and his life.

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From the Commencement to the Close of the Mogul Dynasty.

Upon the death of Shiroch, the son of Timur, andBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1525. the division of the dominions of that conqueror among his descendants, quarrels and war ensued; the weakness and vice, which are the usual attendants upon long inherited sovereignty, weakened the unsteady powers of Asiatic government; and in a few years the great empire of Timur was in a state of dissolution. The Turks, who had penetrated into western Asia, and who, under Bajazet, received a dreadful overthrow by the arms of Timur, no sooner felt the weakness of government in the hands of his successors, than they pressed upon the nearest provinces, and at an early period were masters of Mesopotamia. Ismael was a disgraced servant of Jacob Beg, the eighth in the Turkish dynasty of the white sheep. Pursuing the career of a military adventurer, he collected around him a number of those daring characters, so numerous in the turbulent and unsettled countries of the East, whose business it is to seek a livelihood by their sword; and after a period, spent in subordinate plunder, he conceived himself sufficiently strong to attack, in the year 1500, the governor, or king (for he now affected independence) of the province of Shirvan. After the conquest of Shirvan, Ismael successively made himself master of Tauris, Media, Chaldea, Persia, and became the founder of the dynasty of the Sophis, who held the sceptre of Persia for a number of generations.

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BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1525.On the eastern side of the Caspian, Shaïbek Khan, a chief of the Usbeks, or Tartars of Desht Kipshak, entered Transoxiana, at the head of his horde, in the year 1494. In the course of four years, he rendered himself master of all Transoxiana and Chorasan; the last of which was however wrested from the Usbecks, by the arms of Ismael Sophi, in the year 1510.

Baber was the grandson of Abu Seid, the king of Zagatai; and Abu Seid was the son of Mahomed, the grandson of Timur, through Miran Shah. The dominions of Abu Seid were at his death divided among his sons. Ali became king of Cabul; Ahmed, king of Samarcand; Ahmer, king of Indija and Firgana; and Mahmood, king of Kundiz and Buducshan. Baber was the son of Ahmer, king of Indija and Firgana; a district surrounded by mountains, lying between Samarcand and Cashgar. He succeeded his father, while yet very young, in the year 1493; and was immediately involved in a war with his uncles, desirous to profit by his youth and inexperience. Baber maintained himself against them with varying fortune, sometimes reduced to the lowest ebb, at other times borne on a flowing tide; till the arrival of Shaïbek, the Tartar.1 Shaïbek, after a struggle which was strenuously supported by Baber, swept the posterity of Timur from Transoxiana and Chorasan. Baber was compelled to retire towards Cabul; where the son of his uncle Ali had been dethroned by his Omrahs, and the greatest anarchy prevailed. The weak resistance opposed to Baber, in Cabul, he had means to overcome, and became master of that province in the year 1504. After spending some years in contending with the enemies who disputed with him the possession of Cabul and Edition: current; Page: [285] resisted his efforts for obtaining Candahar, he wasBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1525. fired with the hopes of recovering his paternal dominions, Ismael Sophi having defeated and slain his enemy, Shaïbek. In the year 1511 he marched towards Bochara, of which, after some resistance, he made himself master. His next object was Samarcand, which surrendered upon his arrival. His ambition was to make this celebrated capital of the great founder of his house the place of his residence; and he appointed Nasir, his brother, governor of Cabul. But he had not enjoyed, above nine months, this coveted throne, when the Usbeks, under the successor of Shaïbek, returned from the desert, and Baber, after an unavailing struggle, was forced back to Cabul.

Baber had not spent one year in re-establishing his authority, in Cabul, when information received of the weakness at Delhi inspired him with hopes of indemnifying himself in the south for the possessions which he had been constrained to relinquish in the north. In the year 1519 he took possession of all the countries on the further side of the Blue River, one of the branches of the Indus. He overran a part of the Punjab, levying contributions; and after chastising the Gickers, who had molested him in his progress, he returned to Cabul. Before the end of the same year, he renewed his march into Hindustan, and intended to reduce Lahore; but was interrupted, by news from the northern side of the mountains which separate Bochara from Cabul, that a district there, of which he still retained possession, had been invaded by the Tartars of Cashgar. The following year, the conqueror was recalled, after he had made some progress in the invasion of Hindustan, by intelligence that Cabul itself was assailed by the people of Candahar. Baber resolved to complete the conquest Edition: current; Page: [286] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1525.of this neighbouring country, before he again led out his armies, to regions more remote. The vigour of the king of Candahar, who held out for three years, procured, thus long, a respite to the kings and Omrahs of Hindustan; or rather afforded three additional years for the exercise of their mutual hostilities, and the oppression of the wretched inhabitants. But in the year, 1523, Candahar being at last reduced, Baber rendered himself master of Lahore and the Punjab. The next year, beginning to feel the seducements of luxury and ease, he contented himself with directing his troops in Hindustan to march against Delhi. But they were attacked and overthrown. In 1525 Baber resolved to repair this misfortune by his presence. Ibrahim marched out to defend his capital with an army as much inferior in bravery, as it was superior in numbers. It was speedily routed, Ibrahim was slain in battle, Baber entered Delhi, and, mounting the throne of the Afghauns, or Patans, began the Mogul dynasty in Hindustan.

Great efforts were still demanded for the reduction of the provinces, the Omrahs of which being Afghauns, and expecting little favour under a Mogul monarch, held out, and even formed themselves into an extensive and formidable confederacy, setting a son of the late Secunder, as sovereign, at their head. Baber’s principal officers, alarmed by the resistance which it seemed necessary to overcome, combined in offering him advice to return. The king, declaring that he would relinquish such a conquest only with his life, displayed so formidable a spirit of resolution and perseverance, that in a short time the confederacy began to dissolve. Many of the Omrahs, who were the weakest, or whose territories were the most exposed, came over to Baber, and entered into his service. At last a great battle was fought, which Baber Edition: current; Page: [287] with difficulty won, but which gave him so decided a superiority, that his enemies were no longer able to meet him in the field. Having reduced the provinces which latterly paid obedience to the throne of Delhi, he advanced against the Omrahs of the East, who for a length of time had affected independence. He had scarcely, however, conquered Bahar, when he fell sick and died, in the year 1530.

Humaioon succeeded to the throne of his father, but was not long suffered to enjoy it in peace. His brother Camiran, in the government of Cabul, formed a resolution of seizing upon the Punjab; and Humaioon was fain to confer upon him the government of all the country from the Indus to Persia, on condition of his holding it as a dependency. Mahmood, too, the son of the Emperor Secunder, whom the confederated Omrahs, had placed at their head, was again joined by some chiefs, and kindled the flames of war in the eastern provinces. A victory gained by the Emperor extinguished all immediate danger in that quarter. But Shere Khan, the regent of Bahar, refused to give up the fortress of Chunar. A conspiracy was formed in favour of Mahomed, a prince of the race of Timur; and Bahadur, king of Guzerat, was excited to hostilities by the protection which Humaioon afforded to the Rana of Chitore. Bahadur was unequal to his enterprise; the war against him was pushed with activity and vigour, and he lost entirely the kingdom of Guzerat. Humaioon was now in favour with fortune; from Guzerat he marched to the eastern provinces, and reduced Chunar. Having gained the passes he then entered Bengal; the government of which had recently been usurped, and its sovereign expelled by the enterprising Shere. He took possession of Gour, then the capital of the province; and there resided for several months; but, his Edition: current; Page: [288] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1530-40.troops suffering from the humidity of the climate, and his two brothers now aspiring openly to his throne, he was compelled to proceed towards Agra, which he and his father had made the seat of government. In the mean time, Shere, though he had been defeated, was not subdued. He made himself master of the strong fortress of Rotas, after he had been obliged to retire from Gour; and he now threw himself in the way of Humaioon, whose presence was urgently required in another part of his empire. Humaioon, threatened with detention, if nothing worse, desired accommodation. After a negotiation, it was agreed that the government of Bahar and Bengal should be conferred upon Shere, paying a slight tribute, in acknowledgment of dependence. The chance of finding the camp of the Emperor unguarded, under the negligence inspired by the prospect of peace, was one among the motives which led Shere to open the negotiation. The perfidy succeeded; and Humaioon, having lost his army, was constrained to fly.

He repaired to Agra, and was joined by his brothers, whose united strength was no more than sufficient to defend them against Shere, the Afghaun. But their conflicting interests and passions defeated every scheme of co-operation. The army with which Humaioon marched out to meet the assailant was overthrown; the capital no longer afforded him a place of refuge; he fled from one place to another, subject at times to the greatest hardships; and was at last obliged to quit the kingdom, and seek an asylum in Persia, where he was hospitably and honourably entertained.

The grandfather of Shere, the new sovereign of Hindustan, came from the district of Roh1 in the Edition: current; Page: [289] mountains of Afghaunistan, in quest of military employmentBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1536-54., in the reign of Beloli, and entered into the service of an Omrah of the court. His son Hussun followed the Subahdar, who acquired the title of King of the East; and rose to considerable rank in his service. Ferid, the son of Hussun, received the name of Shere, which signifies lion, from killing with his own hand, in the presence of the King or Governor of Bahar, an enormous tiger which rushed from a thicket. When this monarch died, and his son, a minor, succeeded him, the government of Bahar rested chiefly in the hand of Shere; and a short time elapsed, when the young prince, having made his escape, left the name as well as the power of sovereign to the usurper. He had just accomplished the conquest of Bengal, when Humaioon, returning from Guzerat, invaded his dominions.1

Immediately after his victory, Shere assumed the imperial title of Shah, and exerted himself with great activity in reducing the provinces to his obedience. His mandates ran from the furthest branch of the Indus, to the Bay of Bengal; a more extensive dominion than for some ages had belonged to any sovereign of Hindustan. Besieging one of the strongly situated forts, which abound in India, he was killed by an accidental explosion of gunpowder, when he had reigned five years in Hindustan. What can be said of few sovereigns, even in still more enlightened Edition: current; Page: [290] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1536-54.ages, he left various monuments of public beneficence to prolong the memory, and the love, of his short administration. He built caravanseras at every stage, from the Nilab, or furthest branch of the Indus, to the shores of Bengal; he dug a well for the refreshment of the traveller at every two miles; he ordered that all travellers without distinction of country or religion should at every stage be entertained, according to their quality, at the public expense; he had trees planted along the roads to shelter the travellers against the violence of the sun; he established posthorses, the first in India, for the more rapid conveying of intelligence to government,1 and for the accommodation of trade and correspondence; even the religious comfort of the traveller was not neglected; a number of magnificent mosques were erected along the road, and priests appointed for the performance of devotional services.

Shere left two sons, of whom the youngest, being with the army, was proclaimed king. A struggle, as usual, ensued, for the possession of the throne; a feigned accommodation was made up between the brothers; war again quickly broke out; the eldest lost a battle, from which he fled, and disappearing was never heard of more. The youngest remained emperor, by the name of Selim. The Omrahs, however, or Subahdars of the provinces, who never neglected an opportunity that promised a chance of independence, rebelled in several quarters. In some instances they were not without difficulty subdued. After several years spent in reducing his dominions to order and obedience, Selim was roused from his dreams of future tranquillity, by intelligence that the exiled emperor Humaioon was on his way from Persia Edition: current; Page: [291] with an army, for the recovery of Hindustan. SelimBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1536-54. prepared for action with vigour. But Humaioon, instead of advancing, retired. Selim, shortly after, was seized with a violent distemper; and died suddenly, in the tenth year of his reign.

He left a son to succeed him; but only twelve years of age. There was a nephew to the late emperor Shere, by name Mubarick, whose sister was mother of the young prince. Mubarick assassinated the boy in the arms of his mother, three days after he had been proclaimed as king.

Mahomed was the name which Mubarick thought proper to use upon the throne. Vice, profusion, and folly, the attributes of his character and administration, lost him speedily the respect of his people, and the obedience of his Omrahs. His brother Ibrahim raised an army, from which Mahomed fled to the eastern provinces, leaving Ibrahim to assume the style of royalty at Delhi. This was not all. Ahmed, another nephew of the emperor Shere, laid claim to the sovereignty in Punjub, assumed the name of Secunder Shah, and marched towards Agra. Ibrahim met him, and was defeated. Ibrahim was attacked on the other side, by the vizir of Mahomed, and after several turns of fortune, fled to Orissa. Secunder took possession of Agra and Delhi, while Mahomed was engaged in a war with the governor of Bengal; in which at first he was prosperous, but finally stript of his dominions and life.

In the mean time, Secunder was summoned to oppose the exiled emperor Humaioon, who had now a second time returned for the recovery of his throne.

When Humaioon made his escape into Persia, Tamasp the son of Ismael, second of the Sophis, ruled from beyond the Euphrates, to the furthest boundary of Transoxiana. The governor of the Edition: current; Page: [292] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1536-54.province which first afforded shelter to Humaioon received him with distinction; and he was conveyed, with the respect which seemed due to his rank and misfortunes, to the Presence at Ispahan. He was treated by Tamasp as a sovereign; and his misfortunes excited the compassion of a favourite sister of the king, and of several of his counsellors. At their instigation an army of ten thousand horse was entrusted to Humaioon; with which he advanced towards Candahar, still governed, together with Cabul, by one of his rebellious brothers. After an obstinate resistance, the city of Candahar fell into his hands, and the rest of the province submitted. Jealousy and dissatisfaction soon sprung up between him and the Persian commanders. But various Omrahs of the country now joined him with their troops; and, marching to Cabul, he was joined by the second of his rebellious brothers, and several other chiefs. Cabul was in no situation to resist; and his hostile brother fled to Bicker, a wild and desert province toward the mouth of the Indus, governed by a relation. When Cabul was subdued, Humaioon crossed the mountains to the north, for the purpose of reducing Buducshan, that district of the Mogul kingdom of Transoxiana which had remained united to the dominions of Baber. In the mean time his brother returned from Bicker, and in the absence of Humiaoon and his army obtained possession of Cabul. Humaioon hastened from Buducshan, gave battle to his brother’s army, routed it, and laid siege to Cabul. His brother seeing no hopes of success, fled from the city by night, and made his way to Balk, where he received assistance from the governor, marched against Humaioon’s new conquest of Buducshan, and expelled his governor. Humaioon left him not to enjoy his acquisition in peace: he marched against him, and Edition: current; Page: [293] forcing him to submit, treated him with lenity andBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1536-54. respect. Humaioon next involved himself in hostilities with the Usbeks of Balk, over whom at first he gained advantages, but at last was routed, and obliged to retreat to Cabul. In this retreat he was deserted by his perfidious brother, whom he had recently spared. Some of the chiefs of his army wrote to that deserter, that if he could attack the army of Humaioon, they would betray him in the action. Humaioon was accordingly defeated; and obliged to fly towards Buducshan, leaving Cabul a third time to his foe. Being joined, however, by the second of his brothers, who now repaid by great services his former demerits; and by several other chiefs; he was speedily in a condition to march again to Cabul with a force which his brother was by no means able to withstand. After some resistance the brother was obliged to fly; and though he continued for several years to raise disturbance, he was no longer able to endanger the sovereignty of Humaioon.

That prince, though now in possession of part of his ancient dominions, though aware of the distractions which prevailed in the rest, and invited by the inhabitants of Agra and Delhi, paused at the thought of invading Hindustan. At first he was able to raise an army of only fifteen thousand horse. With that he began to advance towards the Indus, where he was joined by his veterans from Candahar. The governors of Punjab and Lahore fled before him; and those countries were regained without a contest. Secunder detached an army, which advanced towards the Sutledge. But the general of the advanced division of the army of Humaioon surprised the camp of Secunder in the night, and entirely dispersed the troops. This disaster made Secunder hasten with his main army to meet the enemy; a great battle was fought under Edition: current; Page: [294] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1555.the walls of Serhind, in which the young Akbar, son of Humaioon, showed remarkable spirit and resolution. Secunder, being routed, fled to the mountains of Sewalic.

Humaioon re-entered Delhi in the year 1554; but was not destined to a long enjoyment of the power which he had regained. As he was supporting himself by his staff, on the marble stairs of his palace, the staff slipped, and the emperor fell from the top to the bottom. He was taken up insensible, and expired in a few days, in the year 1555, the fifty-first of his age.

Tamasp still reigned in Persia. But the Usbecks had now possessed themselves of Bochara, and of the greater part of Transoxiana.

Akbar, the son of Humaioon, though not quite fourteen years of age, was placed on his father’s throne. He had been nursed in difficulty and misfortune; and, young as he was, those powerful teachers had done much in forming his mind.

When Humaioon with the few friends who adhered to him first fled from India, they nearly perished in the sandy desert which lies between Ajmere and the Indus. With the utmost difficulty, and after the loss of many lives, they arrived at Amercot, the seat of a Hindu Rajah, about two hundred miles from Tatta. It was here that Akbar was born. Humaioon, proceeding to Candahar, where he still hoped for support, was attacked by the governor of Candahar, and obliged to fly, leaving his infant son and his mother behind him. Akbar was kept at Candahar by the governor, till Humaioon was on his march from Persia, when he sent him to his uncle at Cabul. When Humaioon, after Cabul was taken, again beheld his son and his wife, he took the child in his arms, then four years of age, and exclaimed: “Joseph by Edition: current; Page: [295] his envious brethren was cast into a well; but he wasBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1557. exalted by Providence to the summit of glory.” Akbar once more fell into the hands of his uncle, when that rebellious prince regained possession of Cabul. When Humaioon returned to besiege him, Akbar was bound to a stake, and exposed upon the battlements. Humaioon made proclamation, that if injury happened to Akbar, every human being in Cabul should be put to the sword. The wretched uncle was deterred, or forcibly restrained, from exposing it to such a disaster.

Byram, the chief of the Omrahs in the service of Humaioon, a man of talents, but of a severe, or rather of a cruel disposition, was appointed regent during the minority; which, in so unsettled and turbulent an empire, was not likely to be attended with general submission and peace.

The first object of the new government was to exterminate the party of the late pretended emperor Secunder; and for this purpose an army, with the young sovereign at its head, marched toward the mountains. Secunder fled; the Rajah of Nagracote made his submission; and the rainy season coming on, the army retired into quarters.

In the mean time, the Governor who had been left by Humaioon in the command of Buducshan assumed independence; and presumed so far upon the weakness of the new government, as to march against Cabul. The city stood a siege of four months; but at last submitted, and acknowledged the authority of the invader.

This calamity arrived not alone. Himu, the vizir of Mahomed, the usurper who retained a part of the eastern provinces, marched to the centre of the empire with a formidable army. He took Agra. He took Delhi. The young Shah still remained in his quarters. A council of war was held, in which Byram advised Edition: current; Page: [296] BOOK III. Chap. 4. march against the enemy. The principal part of the Omrahs, as the hostile army amounted to 100,000 horse, that of the king to scarcely 20,000, held it adviseable to retreat. But the young Shah supported the opinion of Byram with so much ardour, that he kindled the enthusiasm of the Omrahs, who declared their resolution to devote their lives and fortunes to his service.

While the army was on its march, the governor of Delhi, he by whom the city had just been surrendered, joined the King. Waiting for a time when the presence of the Prince offered no interruption, Byram called this governor into his tent, and beheaded him. It was to anticipate, he told the King, the clemency of the royal mind, that he had taken upon him, without consultation, to make this example; necessary to let the neglectful Omrahs know, that want of vigour was hardly less criminal than want of loyalty; and that, as meritorious services would be amply rewarded, so no failure in duty should pass with impunity. The Prince, whatever were his thoughts, thanked the regent for the care he bestowed upon his person and government.

The brave Himu made the necessary dispositions for encountering the imperial army. The contending parties arrived in presence of one another in the neighbourhood of Paniput. The Moguls, who had been reinforced on the march, fought with great constancy, and the enemy were thrown into disorder. Himu advanced, conspicuous on a towering elephant, and endeavoured by his example to reanimate his troops. He was shot with an arrow through the eye; and his followers, believing him killed, endeavoured to save themselves by retreat. Himu drew the eye out of the socket with the arrow; and continued the fight with unabated constancy. But the driver of his Edition: current; Page: [297] elephant seeing a mortal blow aimed at himself offeredBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1557-60. to direct the animal wherever he should be desired. Upon this, Himu was surrounded and taken.

When the battle ended, he was brought into the presence of Akbar, almost expiring with his wounds. Byram, addressing the King, told him it would be a meritorious action to kill that dangerous infidel with his own hands. Akbar, in compliance with the advice of his minister, drew his sword, but only touching with it gently the head of his gallant captive, burst into tears. This movement of generous compassion was answered by the minister with a look of stern disapprobation; and with one blow of his sabre he struck the head of the prisoner to the ground.

This important victory restored tranquillity to the principal part of Akbar’s dominions. It is true that in the same year the invasion of a Persian army, under the nephew of Tamasp, rendered that prince for a time master of Candahar. And the late pretended emperor Secunder advanced into the western provinces, and made the governor fly to Lahore. But the imperial standards were carried with expedition towards the Indus; Secunder was cooped up in a fort; when, offering to surrender the place and all his pretensions, he was permitted to retire into Bengal, and Akbar returned to Lahore.

The overbearing pretensions of an imperious, though useful servant, and the spirit of a high-minded, though generous sovereign, could not long be reconciled. Mutual jealousies and discontents arose; the minister used his power with cruelty to deliver himself from those who stood in his way; he increased by that means the disgust of his master; yet he contrived for a time to preserve himself in power, by occupying the mind of the King with military preparation and action. An expedition, which ended successfully, Edition: current; Page: [298] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1557-60.was planned against Gualior, at that time a place of the highest importance. In the same year, one of Akbar’s generals subdued all the country about Jion-poor and Benares, hitherto retained by the Omrahs who had derived their power from the gift or the weakness of the late princes of the Afghaun or Patan dynasty. Operations were commenced against Malwa, possessed by another of those Omrahs. But all this business and success served only to retard, not prevent, the fall of the minister. When the royal ear was found open to accusations against the harsh and domineering Byram, courtiers were not wanting to fill it. He was secretly charged with designs hostile to the person and government of the Shah; and the mind of Akbar, though firm, was not unmoved by imputations against the man he disliked, however destitute of facts to support them. After some irresolution and apprehension, a proclamation was issued to announce that Akbar had taken upon himself the government; and that henceforth no mandates but his were to be obeyed. Byram, who had shown so much resolution when serving his master, was full of indecision when called upon to act for himself. The sovereign advised him to make a voyage to Mecca. At one time Byram proceeded to obey; at another time he resolved to render himself independent in some of the provinces which Akbar had not yet subdued; and at another time conceived the design of seizing and governing the Punjab itself. He attempted arms, but met with no support; and, driven to his last resource, implored the clemency of his master. Akbar hastened to assure him of forgiveness, and invited him to his presence. When the unfortunate Byram presented himself with all the marks of humiliation, and bursting into tears threw himself on his face at the foot of the throne, Akbar Edition: current; Page: [299] lifted him up with his own hand, and setting him inBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1560. his former place at the head of the Omrahs, “If the noble Byram,” said he, “loves a military life, he shall obtain the government of a province in which his glory may appear; if he chooses rather to remain at court, the benefactor of our family shall be distinguished by our favours; but should devotion engage the soul of Byram to make a voyage to the holy city, he shall be provided and escorted in a manner suitable to his dignity.” Byram, desiring leave to repair to Mecca, received a splendid retinue and allowance; but in his passage through Guzerat, an Afghaun Chief, whose father he had formerly slain in battle, pretending salutation, stabbed him with a dagger, and killed him on the spot.

In the year 1560, a son of the late Shah Mahomed, who had found means to raise 40,000 horse, advanced with a design to recover the province of Jionpoor. The generals of Akbar, who had the province in charge, vanquished him with the forces under their command. Presuming, however, on their services or strength, they delayed remitting the plunder. Akbar went towards them without a moment’s delay; upon which they made haste to meet him with the spoils. He accepted their obedience; praised their valour; and bestowed on them magnificent gifts. This is a specimen of the behaviour of Akbar to his Omrahs. Their proneness to seize every opportunity of disobedience he restrained by prompt and vigorous interference; seldom punished their backwardness; but always bestowed on their services honour and reward.

Hussun, the governor of Ajmere, made some progress in subduing several forts in that hilly country, yet held by Hindu Rajahs. The general, sent to reduce Malwa, had carried on the war in that province Edition: current; Page: [300] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1560-80.with so much success as to drive the pretended king out of his dominions. He fled, however, to the sovereigns of Candesh and Berar; from whom he received such effectual support as to be able to defeat the army of the imperial general, which he pursued to the vicinity of Agra. Akbar gave commission to Abdalla, the Usbeck, governor of Kalpy, a city and province on the Jumna, to prosecute the war; and by him was Malwa annexed to the Mogul dominions. About the same time the Gickers, those restless tribes of Hindus, who so often from their mountains disturbed the obedience of the upper provinces, were united under a warlike chief, and assumed the appearance of a formidable enemy. They were attacked with the usual vigour of Akbar’s government; and compelled to receive, though of their own nation, a sovereign named for them by the Moguls.

Notwithstanding the virtues of Akbar’s administration, the spirit of rebellion, inherent in the principles of Indian despotism, left him hardly a moment’s tranquillity, during the whole course of a long and prosperous reign. Hussun revolted in Ajmere, and gained a victory over the imperial troops who were sent to oppose him. Hakim, brother of Akbar, a weak man, the governor of Cabul, began to act as an independent prince. A slave of his, approaching the King, while marching with his troops, let fly an arrow which wounded him in the shoulder. Abdalla, the Usbeck, master of Malwa, believed himself so strong, and the King, pressed by rebellion in various quarters, so weak, that he might erect a throne for himself. He contrived artfully to spread a rumour, that the Shah had contracted a general hatred of the Usbecks in his service, and meditated their destruction. This gained over Secunder and Ibrahim, the governors of two of the eastern provinces. Asaph, Edition: current; Page: [301] who held the government of Corah, had obtainedBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1560-80. great wealth by subduing and plundering a rajahship or Hindu kingdom, between Berar and Bengal, which till this time had escaped the ravage of a Mahomedan conqueror. Not wishing to part with any of this wealth and influence, he joined with the rebels, in hopes of being able to defy the imperial power. Even Zemaun, the captain-general of the empire, and his brother Bahadur, two chiefs of great power and renown, joined the enemies of Akbar, and hoped to raise themselves on the ruins of the king.

Akbar, whom neither exertion nor danger dismayed, opposed himself to his enemies with an activity, which often repaired the deficiencies of prudence. It would be tedious to follow minutely a series of expeditions, so much the same, to subdue one rebellious chieftain after another. Akbar had made considerable progress in reducing the eastern provinces to obedience, when he learned that Hakim, governor of Cabul, in hopes of advantage from his absence, had advanced towards Lahore. The tranquillity of the northern provinces, whose inhabitants were hardy and warlike, was always regarded by Akbar as worthy of more watchful solicitude than that of the east, where the people were effeminate and more easily subdued. Leaving therefore the reduction of the Usbeck rebels still incomplete, he hasted towards Lahore; and surprising his brother by the celerity of his appearance, he rendered opposition hopeless, and crushed the rebellion in its bud. In the mean time the Usbecks increased their army, and extended their conquests. The expeditious movements of Abkar left them little time to enjoy their advantages. Having returned with a recruited army, he came to an action with the combined forces of the insurgents, and gained Edition: current; Page: [302] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1560-80.a great victory, which effectually quashed the rebellion in the east.

The unsettled state of the province of Malwa soon required the royal presence. Among other measures, for the secure possession of that important district, he advanced to the attack of Chitore, a fort of great natural strength, situated in a mountainous and difficult part of the province, inhabited by Hindus, who had been frequently subdued, by the more powerful of the Mahomedan princes, but had as often revolted when the reins of government were held by a feeble hand. After an obstinate resistance Chitore was taken. Rantampore, in the Arrabarreehills, in the province of Ajmere, was also a hill fort, of great strength, which had often been taken from the Hindus, and as often recovered. Having reduced Rantampore, as well as Callinger, another strong hold of similar description and importance, in the same range of mountains, he directed his attention to Guzerat.

This was one of the provinces the governor of which, during the decline of the Patan or Afghaun dynasty, had assumed independence; and it had been governed as a separate kingdom for a number of years. After a time it had fallen into the same confusion, which seems the common fate of Asiatic sovereignties whether great or small. The Ormahs became too powerful for the sovereign; the different districts or governments assumed independence; and the royal power was reduced to a shadow. In this situation the province offered but little resistance to Akbar; the different leaders, who felt their inferiority, courted favour by hastening submission. Hussun, in Ajmere, was able to take the field with an army; but as the king was now at leisure to push the war against him, he was driven from the province, and, Edition: current; Page: [303] with the remains of his army, fled to Punjab. AttackedBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1560-80. by a warlike tribe of the inhabitants, he was there taken prisoner, delivered up to the governor of Multan, and by him put to death. No sooner had the king turned his back on Guzerat, than some of the turbulent chiefs began to assemble armies, and prepare the means of resistance. The rainy season was now commenced, when the great army was unable to move; but Akbar, selecting a small body of cavalry, pursued his way with the utmost expedition to Guzerat, surprised the rebels in the midst of their preparations; offered them battle notwithstanding the inferiority of his force, and, contrary to all prudential calculation, gained a victory, which established his authority in Guzerat.

The province of Bengal paid a nominal submission to the throne of Delhi, but during several reigns had been virtually independent. After the other provinces of the empire were reduced to more substantial obedience, it was not likely that grounds of quarrel would long fail to be laid between Akbar and the King of Bengal. The governor or Subahdar of Oude being ordered, as contiguous, to begin operations against him, had gained some important advantages, and was besieging Patna, when he was joined by the Shah. The Bengal chief, seeing no chance of success, offered terms of accommodation. Akbar consented to engage for his life, but demanded that every thing else should be left to his clemency; to spare, however, the blood of their subjects, he offered to decide their disputes by personal combat. In the following night the Bengal chief went secretly down the river in a boat, and his troops immediately evacuated the city. Akbar returned to Agra; and the governor of Oude, to whose jurisdiction Patna was annexed, was ordered to complete the reduction of Bengal. The vanquished Edition: current; Page: [304] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1580.sovereign was allowed to retain Orissa. But unfortunately for him, the Zemindars of Bengal still adhered to his interests, and speedily assembled a considerable army for his restoration. Having put himself at the head of this armament, he was taken prisoner, and in the absence of Akbar put to death in cold blood, upon the field.

For a short space Akbar now enjoyed tranquillity and obedience throughout his extensive empire; and wisely made use of the interval to visit and inspect its several provinces. Soon was he recalled to his former troubles and exertions. The recently subdued Bengal furnished a variety of discontended spirits, who again appeared in arms; and his brother, in Cabul, marched against Lahore. Akbar never allowed disobedience in the upper provinces to gain strength by duration. He hastened to Lahore, overcame his brother, followed him close to Cabul, and received a message from the vanquished prince, imploring forgiveness. Akbar, with his usual generosity, which was often inconsiderate, and cost him dear, replaced him in his government.

The peace of Bengal was in the mean time restored; but a formidable rebellion broke out in Guzerat, which the son of Byram, the late regent, was sent to subdue. He was opposed with great obstinacy; and some power. But being a man of talents, he restored the province in a little time to obedience, and was rewarded with its government.

The governor of Cabul, the king’s brother, died. The state of the upper provinces seemed upon that occasion to require the presence of Akbar, and he marched towards Punjab. Here he projected the conquest of Cashmere, and dispatched an army for that purpose. The season being ill chosen and provisions failing, that army found itself unequal to the Edition: current; Page: [305] enterprise. Akbar, however, was not willing to beBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1593. foiled: he dispatched a second army; and the conquest was made with little opposition. Soon after this, the Governor of Candahar, a province which hitherto had paid but a nominal submission to the Mogul throne, unable to defend himself against his rebellious brothers, and the Usbeks, who had now rendered themselves masters of Transoxiana and Bactria, and were formidable neighbours to the northern provinces of Hindustan, offered to deliver up his government to Akbar; and received that of Multan in exchange.

Akbar, who now beheld himself master, from the mountains of Persia, and Tartary, to the confines of Deccan, began to cast the eyes of ambition on that contiguous land. He gave directions to his governors, in the provinces nearest Deccan, to prepare as numerous armies as possible; and to omit no opportunity of extending the empire. He dispatched ambassadors to the kingdoms of Deccan, more with a design to collect information, than to settle disputes. And at last a great army, under Mirza, the son of Byram, who had reduced Guzerat, marched in execution of this project of unprovoked aggression, and unprincipled ambition.

We have already observed the circumstances which attended the first establishment of a Mahomedan empire in Deccan, and it will now be necessary to recount shortly the events which intervened from the death of Alla Bhamenee, in the year 1357, to the invasion of Akbar in 1593.1 Alla was succeeded by his son Mahomed, who reigned seventeen years, and Edition: current; Page: [306] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1593.carried on successful wars against the Rajahs of Telingana and Beejanuggur,1 a city on the Tummedra or Toombuddra, the most southern branch of the Kistna or Krishna, and at that time the capital of a considerable kingdom.2 He stript these sovereigns of part of their dominions, and rendered them tributary for the rest. A circumstance is recorded by the historian, which indicates but a thin population in that part of India. The number of lives which were destroyed by his wars was computed at near 500,000, among whom was the natural proportion of both sexes, and of all ages; for Indian wars spare neither sex nor age: And by this loss, the regions of Carnatic, says the historian, were so laid waste, that they did not recover their natural population for several kerruns, or revolutions of ten years: yet they had never before been more than slightly over-run by a foreign invader; and the virtues or vices of Hindu policy were here to be traced in their natural effects. Mujahid the son of Mahomed, was assassinated by his uncle after reigning three years. The murderer Daood placed himself on the throne, but lost his own life by assassination, after a month and five days. Of Alla, the first of the Bahmenee sovereigns, the youngest son was still alive, and had passed his life in confinement during the intermediate reigns. By the intrigues of the Haram, he was now acknowledged as king, and spent a mild and Edition: current; Page: [307] prudent reign of nineteen years, in almost uninterruptedBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1593. tranquillity. His eldest son Gheause succeeded him; but having affronted one of his Turkish Omrahs, who disguised his resentment the more effectually to secure his revenge, he lost his throne and his eyes, after a reign of little more than a month; and his brother Shumse was made to possess it in his stead.

Shumse was but fifteen years of age; and was a passive instrument in the hands of the Turk. Of Daood, however, the usurper, who had enjoyed royalty a month, several sons remained, who, under the odium attending the present state of the government, conceived hopes of profiting by the usurpation of their father. By an alternation of force and artifice, they secured the persons of the king and his minister, after a reign of only five months and seven days, and one of the brothers, by name Firoze, took possession of the throne. He reigned upwards of five and twenty years; and is the most celebrated of all the sovereigns of Deccan. He was engaged in a variety of wars with the Hindu rajahs; but his acquisitions in point of territory were inconsiderable. His endeavours to secure the succession to his son, by the destruction of a brother of his own, whose power and talents excited his fears, involved the last months of his reign in trouble. But finding his efforts ineffectual, he submitted to necessity, and appointing his brother successor, died in a few days.

The new sovereign, Ahmed, was a man of talents; governed with moderation and prudence; and enjoyed a prosperous reign of twelve years and two months. He overthrew the Rajah of Warunkul, and added the city of Telingana to his dominions. The governors who, during the decline of the Afghaun or Patan dynasty of Delhi, had assumed independence in the Edition: current; Page: [308] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1593.provinces of Malwa, Candesh, and Guzerat, were now sovereigns, whose contiguity failed not to produce occasions of discord. At different times Ahmed was engaged in war with all these princes, but without any memorable result. He enlarged and beautified the city of Beder, which he called Ahmedabad, and removed to it the seat of government from Calburga. Toward the conclusion of his reign, he projected a partition of his kingdom among his sons. His acquisitions in Berar, with some contiguous districts, he assigned to Mahmood; he gave Telingana to Daood; and sent these princes to take possession of their shares. His two remaining sons, Alla and Mahomed, were destined to succeed him as colleagues on the throne of Calburga.

They ascended the throne without opposition; but Mahomed, dissatisfied with the share of power which his brother allowed him, was soon excited to rebel. He was defeated, and treated with generosity by Alla. Their brother Daood having just died in Telingana, Mahomed was appointed governor of that kingdom, where he devoted himself to his pleasures, and lived in peace. Alla was at various times attacked, by the Rajah of Beejanuggur in the south, and the kings of Guzera, Candesh, and Malwa, in the north; but defended himself with success. He sent an army to invade Malabar, which at first gained advantages, but being artfully drawn into the difficult recesses of that mountainous and woody country, was almost totally destroyed. After a reign of nearly twenty-four years, he was succeeded by his son Humaioon, who meeting with opposition and rebellion, gave reins to the ferocity of a violent mind; but died, or was assassinated, it is uncertain which, after a reign of little more than three years. His eldest son, Nizam, was only eight years of age at his accession; Edition: current; Page: [309] but the reins of government were directed by theBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1593. queen-mother, a woman of talents; and though the surrounding sovereigns endeavoured to avail themselves of the weakness of a minority, and the king of Malwa penetrated to the very capital, he was repulsed, and the Bahmenee empire remained entire. Nizam died in little more than two years after his father, when the crown devolved upon his second brother Mahomed, who was then in his ninth year. The abilities of the queen-mother, and of a faithful minister, conducted the state in safety through the difficulties and dangers of a second minority; and Mahomed, displaying, when he grew up, considerable talents for government, enjoyed prosperity for a number of years; took part of Orissa, and the island of Goa; and thus extended his dominions from sea to sea. At last, however, the jealous rivals of the minister forged an accusation, which they presented to the king at an artful moment, and surprised him into a sudden order for his destruction. Mahomed soon discovered, and soon repented, his fatal mistake. The ambitious Omrahs, whom the vigilance and talents of the minister had restrained, began immediately to encroach on the royal authority. Mahomed died within a year of the execution of his minister, having languished both in mind and body, from the day of that unfortunate and criminal act.

His son Mahmood ascended the throne of Deccan in the twelfth year of his age. The contentions of the great Omrahs now filled the state with disorder. The sovereign himself displayed no talents for government, and was a slave to his indolence and pleasures. After plotting and struggling for several years, four of the great Omrahs declared themselves independent in their several governments; and a fifth, who remained at the court, reduced the power of the sovereign to a Edition: current; Page: [310] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1593.shadow, and ruled in his name. Mahmood’s nominal sovereignty lasted for thirty-seven years; during which the Deccanee empire was divided into five several kingdoms; that of Beejapore or Visiapore, founded by Esuff Adil Khan; that of Ahmednuggur, founded by Ahmed Nizam Beheree; that of Berar, founded by Ummad al Mulk; that of Golconda, founded by Koottub al Mulk; their respective governors; and that of Ahmedabad Beder, founded by Ameer Bereed, who rendered himself master of the person and throne of his master, and retained the provinces which had not been grasped by the other usurpers. This revolution, after being several years in progress, was consummated about the year 1526. These sovereigns were engaged in almost perpetual wars with one another, with the Rajah of Beejanuggur, and with the Sultan of Guzerat, who was so powerful as to hold in a species of subjection the Sultans of both Malwa and Candesh. A temporary union of the Shahs of Beejapore, Golconda, and Ahmednuggur, in 1564, enabled them to subvert the empire of Beejanuggur, and reduce the power of its chief to that of a petty Rajah. The kingdom of Beder, which had fallen to the share of Ameer Bereed, was conquered during the reign of his grandson; and its territories, which were not large, were divided among the other usurpers of the Bahmenee dominions. A similar fate awaited the portion of Ummad, which consisted of the southern part of Berar; it subsisted as a kingdom only four generations; and was annexed to his dominions by the king of Ahmednuggur in the year 1574. Deccan was, therefore, at the time when its invasion was projected by the Moguls, divided among the sovereigns of Beejapore, Ahmednuggur, and Golconda. At the time when the Bahmenee empire of Deccan was first divided into separate Edition: current; Page: [311] kingdoms, the Portuguese began their conquestsBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1598. on the coast of Malabar, and took possession of the island of Goa.

In addition to the army which Akbar had dispatched under Mirza towards Deccan, he sent orders to his son Morad, to whom he had committed the government of Guzerat, to join him with all his forces: Mirza had already been reinforced with the troops of Malwa, governed by another son of the Emperor, and by six thousand horse belonging to the king of Candesh, who had endeavoured, by submission, to avert the ruin which resistance would ensure. The combined army marched upon Ahmednuggur, to which they laid siege. The place was defended with great bravery, till provisions began to fail in the Mogul army, when the generals opened a negociation, and agreed, upon condition of receiving Berar, to raise the siege of Ahmednuggur, and evacuate the kingdom. The pain felt by the king at the loss of Berar soon prompted him to an effort for its recovery. His army fought a drawn battle with the Moguls. The resolution and ardour of Mirza led him to renew the engagement on the following day, when he defeated indeed the enemy, but was so weakened by his loss, as to be unable to pursue the fugitives, or to improve his victory. Mirza was soon after recalled. In his absence the Ahmednuggur arms gained some advantages; and the Mogul interests declined. But in 1598 Mirza was restored to the army in Deccan, to which the Emperor proceeded in person. Ahmednuggur was again besieged; and at last compelled to open its gates. The territory of Ahmednuggur was formed into a province of the Mogul empire; and its government conferred upon Danial, one of the sons of Akbar. The Emperor did not long survive these Edition: current; Page: [312] BOOK III. Chap. 4. acquisitions. He returned to Agra, and died in the fifty-second year of his reign.

At the time of the death of this successful prince, his great empire was divided into fifteen vice-royalties, called Subahs; each governed immediately by its own viceroy called Subahdar. The names of the Subahs were, Allahabad, Agra, Oude, Ajmere, Guzerat, Bahar, Bengal, Delhi, Cabul, Lahore, Multan, Malwa, Berar, Candesh, and Ahmednuggur.1

Shah Tamasp, the second in the line of the Sophis, held the sceptre of Persia till the twentieth year of the reign of Akbar; when there was a rapid succession of several princes, most of whom were cut off by violence. During these disorderly reigns, the Usbecks made dangerous inroads upon the eastern provinces of Persia, and even threatened the security of the northern provinces of India. At the time of the death of Akbar, Shah Abbas the great was upon the throne, a prince who made both his neighbours and his subjects tremble at his name.

Selim was the only surviving son of Akbar; but even this fortunate circumstance did not save him from a rival. Selim’s own son Chusero was destined to supersede his father, by Azim Khan, whose daughter was the wife, and by Rajah Man Sing, whose sister was the mother of Chusero. Azim Khan was vizir; Man Sing had a powerful government as an Omrah of the empire, and an army of twenty thousand Rajpoots, his countrymen, in his service. The schemes of these powerful chiefs were rendered abortive, by a decisive resolution of the commander of the City guards; who ordered the gates to be shut, and delivered the keys to Selim on his knees. Selim assumed Edition: current; Page: [313] the title of Mahomed Jehangire, or conquerorBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1605. of the world, and dated his reign from October 21, 1605, being then in the thirty-seventh year of his age. Jehangire, for whom it would have been difficult, in the commencement of his reign, to contend with the power of Azim Khan, and Rajah Man Sing, contented himself with sending them to their respective governments; the vizir to his Subah of Malwa; the Rajah to that of Bengal; and Chusero was received into favour. A short time elapsed, when Chusero again rebelled, but, rejecting the advice of Azim Khan, and Rajah Man Sing, to assassinate his father, he taught those artful chiefs to despair of his cause, and they abstained from lending him any open support. So many followers crowded to his standards, as enabled him to seize and ravage some extensive districts. Unable to contend with the army which pressed him, he retired towards the Indus, when his followers dispersed, his principal friends were punished with all the ferocity of Oriental despotism, and he himself was placed in confinement.

One of the circumstances which had the greatest influence on the events and character of the reign of Jehangire was his marriage with the wife of one of the Omrahs of his empire, whose assassination, like that of Uriah, cleared the way for the gratification of the monarch. The history of this female is dressed in romantic colours by the writers of the East. Chaja Aiass her father, was a Tartar, who left poverty and his native country, to seek the gifts of fortune in Hindustan. The inadequate provision he could make for so great a journey failed him before its conclusion. To add to his trials, his wife, advanced in pregnancy, was seized with the pains of labour in the desert, and delivered of a daughter. All hope of conducting the child alive to any place of relief forsook the exhausted Edition: current; Page: [314] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1605.parents; and they agreed to leave her. So long as the tree, at the foot of which the infant had been deposited, remained in view, the mother supported her resolution; but when the tree vanished from sight, she sunk upon the ground, and refused to proceed without her. The father returned; but what he beheld was a huge black snake, convolved about the body of his child, and extending his dreadful jaws to devour her. A shriek of anguish burst from the father’s breast; and the snake, being alarmed, hastily unwound himself from the body of the infant, and glided away to his retreat. The miracle animated the parents to maintain the struggle; and before their strength entirely failed, they were joined by other travellers, who relieved their necessities.

Aiass, having arrived in Hindustan, was taken into the service of an Omrah of the court; attracted after a time the notice of Akbar himself; and by his abilities and prudence rose to be treasurer of the empire. The infant who had been so nearly lost in the desert was now grown a woman of exquisite beauty; and, by the attention of Aiass to her education, was accomplished beyond the measure of female attainments in the East. She was seen by Sultan Selim, and kindled in his bosom the fire of love. But she was betrothed to a Turkman Omrah; and Akbar forbid the contract to be infringed. When Selim mounted the throne, justice and shame were a slight protection to the man whose life was a bar to the enjoyments of the King. By some caprice, however, not unnatural to minds pampered, and trained up as his; he abstained from seeing her, for some years, after she was placed in his seraglio; and even refused an adequate appointment for her maintenance. She turned her faculties to account; employed herself in the exquisite works of the needle and painting, in which she excelled; Edition: current; Page: [315] had her productions disposed of in the shopsBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1611. and markets, and thence procured the means of adorning her apartments with all the elegancies which suited her condition and taste. The fame of her productions reached the ear, and excited the curiosity of the emperor. A visit was all that was wanting to rekindle the flame in his heart; and Noor Mahl (such was the name she assumed) exercised from that moment an unbounded sway over the Prince and his empire.

Through the influence of the favourite Sultana, the vizirit was bestowed upon her father; her two brothers were raised to the first rank of Omrahs, by the titles of Acticâd Khan, and Asiph Jah; but their modesty and virtues reconciled all men to their sudden elevation; and though the emperor, naturally voluptuous, was now withdrawn from business by the charms of his wife, the affairs of the empire were conducted with vigilance, prudence, and success; and the administration of Chaja Aiass was long remembered in India, as a period of justice and prosperity.

The Afghauns broke from their mountains into the province of Cabul, in the sixth year of the reign of Jehangire; but an army was collected with expedition, and drove them back to their fastnesses with great slaughter. About the same time, one insurrection was raised in the province of Bengal, and another in that of Bahar. But the springs of the government were strong; and both were speedily suppressed.

More serious hostility began in Odipore, a mountainous district lying between Ajmere and Malwa, the prince of which, though he had acknowledged subjection to the Mahomedans, yet, protected by his mountains, had never been actually subdued. Amar Sinka, the present Rana or prince of Odipore, attacked and defeated the imperial troops in Candesh. Edition: current; Page: [316] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1611.Purvez, the second son of the Emperor, at the head of 30,000 horse, was sent to take the command of all the troops on the borders of Deccan, and to oppose him. But Amar Sinka was no contemptible foe, possessing great authority among his countrymen, and the obedience of a great proportion of the people called Mahrattas, who inhabited the mountains on the southwest, adjoining those of Odipore. Dissensions prevailed among the Omrahs of the imperial army, which the youth and easy character of Purvez made him unable to repress. Encompassed with difficulties, and fain to retreat, he was pursued with loss to Ajmere. Purvez was recalled; a temporary general was sent to take charge of the army; the Emperor himself prepared to march to Ajmere, whence he dispatched his third son Churrum, to prosecute the war. Churrum entered the mountains with a force which alarmed the Hindus, and induced the Rana after a few losses to offer terms of accommodation. It suited the views of Churrum to show liberality on this occasion, and to conclude the war with dispatch. Peace was effected; and Sultun Churrum returned to his father, with a vast increase of reputation and favour at the expense of Purvez; who was left, notwithstanding, governor of Candesh; and lived in royal state at his capital Burrahanpore.1

It was at the time of which we are now speaking, that Sir Thomas Roe arrived at Surat, ambassador to the Great Mogul. In his way to the imperial presence he repaired to Burrahanpore, to pay his respects to the Prince, and solicit permission for his countrymen to establish a factory in his province. Purvez, whose good nature, affability, and taste, were better fitted for display, than his facility, indolence, Edition: current; Page: [317] and diffidence, for the duties of government,BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1615. received the European messenger with magnificence and distinction. From Burrahanpore, Sir Thomas repaired to Ajmere, where the Emperor still remained. Jehangire was flattered by the compliments and solicitations of a distant monarch. But the rude court of India was not a place where the powers of an ambassador could be exerted with much effect.

In the year 1615, disturbances arose both in Guzerat and Cabul. In the most inaccessible parts of Guzerat lived a race of men, known by the name of Coolies, who exercised perpetual depredations and cruelties upon the inhabitants of the open and cultivated districts. The enormities of this people had lately risen to an extraordinary height, when Jehangire issued a sanguinary order for the utter extirpation of the race. Many were slaughtered; the rest hunted to their mountains and deserts. Cabul was again over-run by the Afghauns, who issued from the mountains adjoining that province on the north. But the Subahdar, collecting an army, overcame them in battle, and drove them back to their own country.

The provinces of the south were still unquiet. Purvez was engaged in a war with the princes of Deccan, which, from the dissensions and treachery of his Omrahs, was not successful, and encouraged the Rana of Odipore “to draw his neck from the yoke of obedience.” The hopes of the Emperor were again cast upon his younger son; and though his counsellors set before him the danger of sending the younger to supersede the elder, he made light of the menaced evil; bestowed upon Churrum the title of Shah Jehan or King of the World, and vested him with the conduct of the war. The easy and unambitious Purvez contested not the royal appointment; fortune, rather than any merit of Shah Jehan, induced the opposing Edition: current; Page: [318] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1615-28.princes to offer terms of accommodation without trying the fortune of the sword; and the prudent desire of Jehan to obtain the credit of terminating the war, without running any of its dangers, made him eagerly remove every obstacle to the conclusion of the peace. In the mean time the Emperor, accompanied by the English ambassador, departed from Ajmere, to Mando, the capital of Malwa, where he presided at the settlement of the affairs of the south; and having spent at Mando seventeen months in business and pleasure, he conveyed the royal camp, which was a prodigious moving city, into the kingdom of Guzerat, and thence to Agra, where he arrived after an absence of little less than five years.

It was shortly after this arrival, that Chaja Aiass, the Vizir, now dear to the nation for the blessings conferred upon it, ended a life which had been checquered by so great a diversity of fortune. The sympathies of the Sultana with such a father appear to have been strong, in spite of that loss of heart, which flows almost inevitably from the enjoyment of boundless power. She was inconsolable for his loss: and her inconsiderate mind, and gaudy taste, made her conceive the design of raising a monument of silver to his memory, till reminded, by her architect, that one of less covetable materials stood a fairer chance for duration. Her brother Asiph Jah sustained the weight of administration, in the room of Chaja Aiass, and inherited the virtues and capacity of his father. But he dared not contend with the haughty and uncontrolable disposition of his sister. And from the death of her father, the caprices and passions of the Sultana exercised a calamitous influence over the fate of the empire.

As the other parts of his dominions were now at peace, Jehangire marched toward Sewalic, or that Edition: current; Page: [319] part of the mountains, separating Tartary from Hindustan,BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1615-28. which lies near the spot where the Ganges descends upon the plain. In the recesses and valleys of these mountains, lived tribes of Hindus, which, protected by the strength of their country, had escaped subjection to a foreign yoke, and exercised the depredations, common to the mountaineers of Hindustan, upon the fertile provinces below. The Emperor wished to subdue them; his army penetrated into the mountains; and after enduring a variety of hardships, for nearly two years (so long the war continued), brought twenty-two petty princes to promise obedience and tribute, and to send hostages to Agra. During this expedition the Emperor paid a visit to the delightful valley of Cashmere, where he spent several months. His partiality produced one good effect. A command was issued to improve the road, for the future visits of the Emperor; and this grand improvement, once begun, was extended to various parts of the empire.

In the mean time, the south engendered new disturbances, which led to important events. The princes of Deccan withheld their tribute, and raised an army to make good their disobedience. Intelligence arrived that they had crossed the Nerbudda in great force, and were laying waste the adjacent provinces. A great army was placed under the command of Shah Jehan, with which he was dispatched to repel and chastise the enemy. As the greatness of the force with which he advanced took from the confederates all hope of successful resistance, they hastened to make their peace, paid arrears, and promised punctuality and obedience. The success and power of Shah Jehan encouraged him now to commence the execution of designs which had long existed in his mind. His eldest brother Chusero, confined in a Edition: current; Page: [320] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1615-28.fortress in Malwa, from the time of his last rebellion, he prevailed on his father, before departing, to permit him to relieve from his confinement, and carry along with him. That prince was taken off by assassination, and all men ascribed the murder to Shah Jehan: The emperor loudly expressed his suspicions and resentment. Shah Jehan conceived the time for revolt to be now arrived; assumed the royal titles, and marched to attack his father. They came to action not far from Delhi, and empire was staked on the turn of a die. After an obstinate struggle, the troops of the father prevailed; and the son, who in his rage and grief had with difficulty been restrained from laying hands on himself, fled in great consternation toward the mountains of Mewat. He was pursued to Deccan; one province was wrested from him after another; and he lost a battle on the banks of the Nerbudda, which broke up his army, and obliged him to fly to Orissa. Here fortune seemed to dawn upon him anew. The governor of Orissa retired at his approach. He made himself master of Burdwan. He next entered Bengal, and defeated its Subadhar. He then marched to Bahar, which also yielded to his arms; and the impregnable fortress of Rotas, of which the governor came to deliver the keys into his hands, presented to him the inestimable advantage of a place of security for his family. In the mean time, the imperial army advanced. That of Shah Jehan was routed, in spite of all his exertions, and he again fled towards Deccan. All men now deserted him. After some time spent in eluding his pursuers; his spirits sunk, and he wrote a contrite letter to his father. Pardon was obtained, but with an order to deliver up the forts which were held in his name, and to repair with his family to Agra. That part alone of the command which regarded his own person, he endeavoured Edition: current; Page: [321] to elude, alleging the shame he should feel toBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1615-28. behold the face of an injured sovereign and father; and occupied himself under the guise of pleasure in travelling with a few attendants, through different parts of the empire. During this rebellion Abbas, the Persian Shah, attacked and conquered Candahar. The Usbecks also penetrated to Ghizni, but were successfully resisted, and compelled to retreat.

The general to whose valour and conduct, on the late extraordinary and critical occasions, the Emperor owed his success, was Mohâbet, from whom, also, on many former emergencies, he had reaped the most important services. The first movement in the breast of Jehangire was gratitude to his benefactor. But Mohâbet possessed a dangerous enemy in Noor Mahl. The slave, she said, who had power to keep the crown upon the head of the Emperor, had power to take it off. Fear is nearly allied to hatred in the breast of an emperor. The power of Mohâbet was curtailed; offensive mandates were addressed to him; a strong fort, which he held, was transferred to a creature of the Sultana. He was commanded to court. His friends represented the danger; but an angry and more peremptory order following his apology, Mohâbet resolved to obey. Five thousand Rajputs, who had served with him in the imperial army, offered themselves for his escort. When Mohâbet approached the imperial camp, he was ordered to stop, till he should account for the revenues of Bengal, and the plunder acquired in the recent battle. Mohâbet, deeply affected with this injurious treatment, sent his own son-in-law to the Emperor to represent his loyalty, and expose the injustice of his enemies. His son-in-law was seized in the royal square, stript of his clothes, bastinadoed, covered with rags, placed backwards on a horse, of the most miserable description, Edition: current; Page: [322] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1615-28.and sent out of the camp amid the shouts and insults of the rabble. Mohâbet separated his retinue from the camp; and resolved to watch his opportunity. Next morning, the royal army began to cross the bridge which lay upon the river Jylum, or Behut, on the road between Lahore and Cabul. The greater part of the army had now passed, and the royal tents were yet unstruck; when Mohâbet, with two thousand of his Rajputs, galloped to the bridge, and set it on fire. Hastening thence, with a few followers, to the royal quarters; he secured the person of the Emperor, and conveyed him without opposition to his camp. Noor Mahl, in the mean time, contrived to make her escape. Next day Asiph Jah, the vizir, made an obstinate attempt to ford the river, and rescue the Emperor; but was repulsed with great slaughter. Unable after this, to keep the army from dispersing, he fled to the castle of New Rotas on the Attock, where he was besieged and soon obliged to surrender at discretion, while his sister the Sultana fled to Lahore. The Emperor was treated by Mohâbet with profound respect; assured that no infringement of his authority was designed; that the necessity alone under which the enemies of Mohâbet had criminally placed him, was the lamented cause of the restraint which his imperial master endured. The generous Mohâbet, who really meant as he spoke, was well aware that for him there was no security, under Jehangire, while influenced and directed by Noor Mahl. She was repairing to the Emperor upon his own request, when met by an escort of Mohâbet, who, under pretence of guarding, kept her a prisoner. He accused her immediately of treason and other high crimes; and the Emperor, on whose feeble mind absence had already effaced in some degree the impression of her charms, signed without much reluctance Edition: current; Page: [323] the order for her execution. She only begged,BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1615-28. that she might have leave, before her death, to kiss the hand of her lord. She was admitted, but in the presence of Mohâbet. She stood in silence. The Emperor burst into tears. “Will you not spare this woman, Mohâbet? See how she weeps.” “It is not for the Emperor of the Moguls,” cried Mohâbet, “to ask in vain.” At a wave of his hand, the guards retired, and she was that instant retored to her former attendants. In a few months Mohâbet restored to the Emperor the full exercise of his authority, and, to show the sincerity of his obedience, dismissed the greater part of his attendants and guards. No sooner did the Sultana conceive him in her power, than she importuned the Emperor for his death. The Emperor had virtue to reject her proposal; but the consequence only was, that she resolved to employ assassination. Jehangire himself discovered to Mohâbet his danger; and he fled without attendants from the camp. The man who had saved the Emperor; and spared both his life and authority, when both were in his hands, was now the object of a command to all the governors of provinces to suffer him no where to lurk in existence; and a price was set on his head. Mohâbet seized a resolution which accorded with the boldness and generosity of his nature. In a mean habit, he secretly entered the camp of Asiph Jah when it was dark, and placed himself in the passage which led from the apartments of the vizir to the haram. He was questioned by the eunuch on guard, who recognized his voice, and carried to Asiph his request to see him on affairs of the utmost importance. Asiph was not ignorant of the baneful effects of his sister’s passions; nor unmoved by the generosity with which Mohâbet had lately treated both her and himself. He took him in Edition: current; Page: [324] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1628.his arms, and conveyed him in silence to a secret apartment; Mohâbet opened his mind with freedom on the misconduct of the Sultana; the weakness of Jehangire; and the necessity of another sovereign to cure the evils of an afflicted state. “The elder of the princes,” said he, “is a virtuous man, and my friend; but we must not exchange one feeble sovereign for another. I know the merit of Shah Jehan; for I have fought against him; and though his ambition knows no restraint either of nature or justice, his vigour will prevent intestine disorders, and give power to the laws.” The views of Asiph, whose daughter was the favourite wife of Shah Jehan, corresponded, it seems, with those of Mohâbet: a plan of co-operation was concerted at that moment; and Mohâbet, with letters from the vizir, retired to the court of the Rana of Odipore, to wait for events.

The death of the prince Purvez, which happened soon after, of an apoplexy; and the death of Jehangire, which followed at a short interval, saved the conspirators from many difficulties, and probably crimes. It was found, when the will of the Emperor was opened, that he had named Shariar, his youngest son, successor; at the instigation of the Sultana, whose daughter, by her first husband, that prince had espoused. As a temporary expedient, the vizir placed Dawir Buksh, the son of the late prince Chusero, upon the throne; but at the same time dispatched to Mohâbet the concerted signal for commencing operations in behalf of Shah Jehan. Asiph conquered the troops of Shariar, and put out his eyes. Shah Jehan proceeded towards Agra; and every obstacle was removed by the death of Dawir Buksh. Shah Jehan was proclaimed Emperor of the Moguls in the beginning of the year 1628.

He began his reign by removing all danger of Edition: current; Page: [325] competition. The whole of the male posterity of the BOOK III. Chap. 4. of Timur, with the exception of himself and his sons, were dispatched by the dagger or the bow-string. His sons were four in number; Dara surnamed Shêko, Suja, Aurungzebe, and Morad; the eldest, at this time, thirteen; the youngest, four years of age. Even the daughters of Shah Jehan were important actors in the scenes of his eventful reign. They were three in number, women of talents and accomplishments, as well as beauty. The eldest, Jehânara, was her father’s favourite, with a boundless influence over his mind; lively, generous, open; and attached to her brother Dara, whose disposition corresponded with her own. The second, Roshenrai Begum, was acute, artful, intriguing, and from conformity of character, favoured Aurungzebe. The gentleness of Suria Bânu, the youngest, kept her aloof from the turbulence of political intrigue and contention.

The two chiefs, Asiph and Mohâbet, who had conducted Shah Jehan to the throne, and were the most able and popular men of the empire, were appointed, the first, vizir; the latter, commander-in-chief of the forces. Through the wide dominions of the Shah, Lodi, who commanded the army in Deccan, was the only disobedient chief. Even he submitted, as soon as an army approached.

The dissensions and weakness usually attending a change of sovereign in the disjointed governments of the East, persuaded the leader of the Usbecks, that conquests might be achieved in Hindustan. Though Abbas still reigned in Persia, and the Usbecks had lately shed their blood in torrents, in disputes about the succession to their throne, they still possessed the regions of the Oxus, of which Abbas had in vain attempted to deprive them. Ten thousand horse, with a train of artillery, penetrated through the mountains Edition: current; Page: [326] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1632.into Cabul. They first laid siege to the fortress of Zohâc; but, finding it strong and well defended, proceeded to Cabul. The city made a vigorous resistance; but was at last reduced to extremity. The defenders, resolving however upon one desperate struggle, sallied forth, and repulsed the enemy, who evacuated the province, before Mohâbet, on his march from Deccan, whither he had been sent for the subjugation of Lodi, could reach the scene of action.

The disobedience of the Rajah of Bundelcund, who was so imprudent as to take offence at an increase of tribute, was chastised by an overwhelming force. But the heart of the generous Mohâbet was gained by the bravery of his enemy; and he obtained for him pardon and restoration.

All the merit of Mohâbet, and all his services, only inflamed the dark suspicions which usually haunt the mind of an Oriental despot. Shah Jehan regarded him with terror; and by such steps as it appeared safe to venture upon, proceeded to deprive him of his power.

The jealous and revengeful passions of the Emperor involved him in difficulties through another channel. When Lodi submitted upon terms, he was appointed to the government of a province, but not forgiven. He was now ordered to court, and received with so much studied insult, that both his pride and his prudence taught him to look for safety in his independence alone. He escaped with much difficulty; was reduced to the deepest distress; but, having talents and perseverance, he baffled the imperial pursuers, and reached Deccan. The resources which such a man as Lodi might find in the south made the Emperor tremble on his throne. He raised a large army; placed himself at its head; hastened to the scene of action; and engaged in those struggles for Edition: current; Page: [327] the subjugation of Deccan, which formed so large aBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1632. portion of the business of this, and of the following reign.

Since the fall of Ahmednuggur, at the close of the reign of Akbar, the following are the principal events which had taken place in Deccan. The territories of the Nizam Shawee or Ahmednuggur sovereignty were divided between Mallek Umber, who possessed the country from the Telingana frontier to within eight miles of Ahmednuggur, and four of Dowlatabad; and Rajoo Minnaun, who ruled from Dowlatabad northward to the borders of Guzerat, and southward to within twelve miles of Ahmednuggur; while Mortiza II. a prince of the royal house of Ahmednuggur, with the empty name of sovereign, was allowed to hold the fortress of Ouseh, with a few villages to yield him subsistence. Perpetual contests subsisted between the usurpers; and Umber succeeded at last in taking Rajoo prisoner, and seizing his dominions. Umber was now a sovereign of high rank among the princes of Deccan, governed his dominions with wisdom, and, exacting something more than respect from the kings of Beejapore and Golconda, held in check the arms of Jehângîre himself. He built the city of Gurkeh, now called Aurungabad, five coss from Dowlatabad, and died, two years before the present expedition of Shah Jehan, at eighty years of age, leaving his dominions the best cultivated, and the happiest, region in India. Futteh Khan, the son of Umber, succeeded him. Mortiza II., still alive, got him by treachery into his power; and recovered once more to the house of Nizam Beheree the remaining part of the Ahmednuggur territories. He did not retain them long; Futteh Khan regained his liberty and ascendancy; and, with the concurrence of Shah Jehan, whom he Edition: current; Page: [328] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1632.consulted, put Mortiza to death; and placed his son, only ten years of age, upon a nominal throne.1

The Beejapore and Golconda sovereignties remained nearly in the same situation in which they had been found and left by Akbar. Mahomed Adil Shah was now on the throne of the former; Abdoolla Koottub Shah, on that of the latter kingdom.2

The Emperor arrived at Burrahanpore, the capital of Candesh, and sent his mandates to the princes of Deccan, to disband their forces, deliver up Lodi, and make their submissions in person, on pain of destruction. The celerity of the Emperor had allowed to Lodi too little time to make the preparations which resistance to so formidable an enemy required. But he had already engaged the three sovereigns of Deccan in a confederacy for his support, and had influence to make them reject or evade the commands of the Emperor. He was entrusted with a body of troops, and, seizing the passes of the mountains, opposed the entrance of the Mogul army into Golconda. The Emperor, impatient of delay, removed his general, and commanded the vizir to take upon himself the charge of destroying Lodi, and chastising the insolence of the princes of Deccan. The princes were already tired of the war, and alarmed by its dangers. The reputation and power of the vizir augmented their apprehensions. Lodi was deserted by all on the day of battle, except by a few chiefs, his friends, who adhered to him, with their retinues. With these he posted himself on an advantageous ground; and long Edition: current; Page: [329] arrested victory against the whole might of the imperialBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1640-55. arms. A neighbouring Rajah, to gain the favour of the Emperor, set upon him unexpectedly, as he was pursuing his way to some place of safety, and he lost his brave son with the greater part of his followers. A party of those who were sent in all directions to scour the country, at last came upon him in a place from which there was no retreat; and he fell defending himself to the last extremity. Shah Jehan exhibited the most indecent joy when assured of his destruction; the measure of his terrors, while this brave man was alive. After the conquest of Lodi, the war in Deccan was little else than a series of ravages. The princes were able to make little resistance. A dreadful famine, from several years of excessive drought, which prevailed throughout India and a great part of Asia, added its horrid evils to the calamities which overwhelmed the inhabitants of Deccan. The princes sued for peace, and the Emperor agreed to withdraw his army, which he now found it difficult to subsist, retaining, as a security for good behaviour, the forts which had fallen into his hands.

During the famine, religion had made the Hindus desert cultivation, and betake themselves to the supplications, penances, and ceremonies, pleasing to their gods. The calamities which sprung from this act of devotion raised the indignation of Shah Jehan. Though no fanatic in his own religion, he pronounced that “an army of divinities who, so far from benefitting their votaries, led them to inflict upon themselves worse evils than the wrath of an enemy, were unfit to be endured in his dominions.” The Hindus however took arms in defence of their gods; and after some unavailing and unhappy efforts, he desisted, declaring, “that a prince who wishes to have subjects Edition: current; Page: [330] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1640–55.must take them with all the trumpery and baubles of their religion.”

The Portuguese, who had established themselves at Hoogley, in Bengal, and whose presumption rose with their success, gave displeasure to the Subahdar. He transmitted a complaint to the Emperor. “Expel those idolaters from my dominions;” was the laconic answer. The Portuguese defended themselves bravely. When compelled to lay down their arms, the principal evil which they were doomed to suffer, was, to see their religious images broken and destroyed. To this affair succeeded a second revolt of the Rajah of Bundelcund, who warded off the destruction now decreed for him with obstinate bravery for two years. The third son of the Emperor, Aurungzebe, with an experienced general for his guide, had the nominal command of the army, though only thirteen years of age; and showed that ardour in the work of destruction which distinguished his riper years.

When the Emperor marched from the borders of Deccan, he offered the government of Candesh and of the frontier army, for which he saw that great talents were required, to the Vizir, who, fearing the consequences of absence from the court, recommended successfully the virtues and capacity of Mohâbet. Adil Shah, the King of Beejapore, threatened to wrest Dowlatabad from Futteh Khan, who governed in the name of the young Shah of Ahmednuggur. To prevent the annexation of this important fortress to the dominions of his rival, Futteh Khan offered it to Shah Jehan, and Mohâbet marched to receive possession. Futteh Khan repented of his offer; and Mohâbet laid siege to the fortress. Dowlatabad is a place of great natural strength, standing upon a detached and precipitous rock, and had been fortified with the highest efforts of Oriental skill; but famine at last Edition: current; Page: [331] made Futteh submit. The young prince, his master,BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1640–55. was carried a prisoner to Gualior. Futteh Khan was allowed to retain his private property, and was destined to become one of the high Omrahs of the empire; but being seized with insanity, the consequence of a wound formerly received in his head, he was carried to Lahore, where he lived many years on a liberal pension. The fall of Dowlatabad put a period to the dynasty of Nizam Shah, which had swayed the sceptre of Ahmednuggur for 150 years.1 Mohâbet, resolving to pursue the reduction of Deccan, marched towards Telingana, and laid siege to a fortress; but falling sick, and finding himself unable to superintend the operations of the army, he withdrew the troops to Burrahanpore, where he died at an advanced age.

The tranquillity of the empire permitted the ambition of Shah Jehan to attach itself to the subjugation of Deccan. He began to march from Agra. That time might be afforded to the governors of the provinces for joining him with their troops, his progress was purposely slow. In rather less than a year he arrived at Dowlatabad with an accumulated army. This great host was divided into twelve bodies, and poured upon the kingdoms of Golconda and Beejapore, with orders not to spare the severities of war: “because war (such was the reflection of Shah Jehan) was the scourge of humanity, and compassion served only to prolong its evils.” One hundred and fifteen towns and fortresses were taken in the course of a year. The unfortunate sovereigns were overwhelmed with calamity; and solicited peace on any terms. It was granted; but on condition that they should resign Edition: current; Page: [332] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1640-55.their dominions, and be contented to hold them as tributaries of the Mogul. The province of Candesh, with the army in Deccan, was left under the command of the son of the late Mohâbet, an accomplished chief. But he died in a little time, and Aurungzebe, the Emperor’s aspiring son, was appointed to succeed him.

About this time a refractory Rajah of Berar drew upon himself the imperial arms. That large district of Hindustan was regularly subdued; and bestowed as a Subah upon the successful general. Another event yielded high satisfaction to the Emperor. The province of Candahar, which had been wrested from the Moguls by the power of Abbas, Shah of Persia, was now recovered by the treachery of its governor, disgusted with the cruel and capricious sway of Sefi, the successor of Abbas on the Persian throne.

Of the operations next in order it is to be lamented that our information is very imperfect. The province of Bengal, we are told, was invaded from the kingdom of Assam, the enemy descending the Brahmapootra in boats till its junction with the Ganges below Dacca. The Subahdar of Bengal experienced little difficulty in repelling the invaders; and, not contented with an easy triumph, pursued them into their own country, took possession of several forts, and reduced some provinces; but he was obliged to return for want of subsistence, and suffered extremely in his retreat by the commencement of the rains and the badness of the roads. It is related also, that the kingdom of Tibet was reduced about this time by another of the generals of Shah Jehan, who was delighted to conquer in regions, which the arms of his predecessor had never reached. But to these conquests no effects are ascribed; and of that which is said to have been accomplished in Tibet we are told neither the place, Edition: current; Page: [333] nor the extent, nor the circumstances, neither theBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1640-55. road by which the army was led to it, nor that by which it was conducted back.

The numerous subjects of Shah Jehan now enjoyed a tranquillity and happiness such as had seldom, if ever, been experienced in that portion of the globe. The governors and officers, in every part of his dominions, were strictly watched; and not only their obedience to himself, but their duty to his subjects, was vigorously enforced. His reign is celebrated for the exact execution of the laws. And the collection of the revenue, which affects so deeply the condition of the people, and had, in the time of Akbar, been very much improved, was advanced to greater perfection under the diligent administration of Shah Jehan.1

This tranquillity was scarcely affected by an incursion of the Usbecks into Cabul, the governor of which not only repulsed them, but, following the invaders, ravaged their country as far as Balk, and returned with considerable booty. This success of the governor of Cabul encouraged him to make an incursion into the territory of the Usbecks the following year. But he was on the point of paying dear for his temerity, his communications being intercepted, and his retreat rendered in the highest degree dangerous and difficult. The Emperor himself was, at last, infected with the ambition of conquering the Usbecks. His Edition: current; Page: [334] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1640-55.youngest son, Morad, was sent with an army, and over-ran the country without much difficulty; but offended his father by returning from his command, not only without, but contrary to, orders. The Usbeck sovereign had fled into Persia, but one of his sons solicited and obtained the co-operation of the kindred tribes beyond the Oxus. Aurungzebe was sent to cope with the new adversary; and his talents, and persevering courage were not more than necessary. In a desperate battle victory hung suspended, and fortune was more than once on the point of declaring against the Moguls. After much difficulty, and much loss, the country was indeed subdued; but its ancient sovereign, writing a most submissive letter to the Emperor, was, on promise of a slight tribute, reinstated in his dominions.

It was mortifying to the Emperor, in so high a tide of his power, that Candahar, regarded as the key of his dominions on the side of Persia, was wrested from his hands. Shah Abbas the second had succeeded the wretched Sefi, on the throne of Persia: and taking advantage of the removal of the Mogul troops from the northern provinces, and of the subjugation of the Usbecks, which seemed to deliver those provinces from danger, he marched towards Candahar with a great force, and obtained the city by capitulation, before the Mogul army was able to arrive. The strongest efforts were made for its recovery. Aurungzebe besieged it two several times; and Dara, the eldest son of the Emperor, once. It baffled the operations of both.

The most memorable transaction in the reign of Shah Jehan was the renewal of the war in Deccan. The frontier provinces, and the army appointed to hold in check the sovereigns of the south, had been entrusted to the command of Aurungzebe; but the Edition: current; Page: [335] suspicions and jealousy of his father and brothersBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1640-55. had made them seek occasions to remove him, at one time to command in Guzerat, at another in the war against the Usbecks; he had still, however, found means to regain that important government, and was at Dowlatabad when an occasion offered which a mind like his was not apt to despise. A chief, in the service of the king of Golconda, who had carried the arms of that sovereign against the Rajahs of the Carnatic, and added extensive districts to his dominions, fell, at last, from apprehension of his power, under the hatred of his master; and perceived that his life was no longer safe. He transmitted private intelligence to Arungzebe of his readiness to co-operate with him in surprising the city of Hyderabad, not far from Golconda, where the sovereign resided, and where his treasures were deposited. Aurungzebe, covering his designs under the pretence of an embassy, was admitted into the city, but the king discovered the treachery in sufficient time to make his escape to Golconda; and as Hyderabad was set on fire in the confusion of the attack, the greater part of the riches which had tempted Aurungzebe was consumed in the flames. Siege was laid to Golconda; but orders arrived from court, suggested by the jealousies which there prevailed, that the king of Golconda should be offered terms of peace. The troops were withdrawn, after the beautiful daughter of the king had been given in marriage to the eldest son of Aurungzebe.

The chief, at whose instigation Aurungzebe had undertaken the expedition, was the famous Emir Jumla, born in a village near Ispahan in Persia, and of parents so extremely poor that they had scarcely the means of procuring him instruction to read. A diamond merchant, who travelled to Golconda, carried him to Edition: current; Page: [336] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1640-55.that city as a servant or clerk; at this place he left his master, and began to trade on his own account. With the first of his gains he purchased a place in the service of the king. His talents and address attracted favour; and he ascended by rapid gradations to the summit of command. During his public services he forgot not the arts of private acquisition; he had vessels trading to various places, and farmed under borrowed names the whole of the diamond mines. He greatly added to those riches by his successful wars in Carnatic; and was supposed to posses enormous treasures at the time when he connected himself with Aurungzebe. That prince immediately received him into his inmost friendship; and sought the benefit of his counsels and co-operation in his most important affairs. As it appeared that his talents might be employed advantageously for Aurungzebe at the court of his father, he was sent with such recommendations as helped him quickly to the highest rank. When the office of vizir became vacant, the remonstrances of Dara could not prevent the Emperor from bestowing it upon Jumla, in the sordid hope of receiving, upon his appointment, a magnificent present, suited to the riches he was supposed to possess.

Meanwhile, a new event demanded the presence of Emir Jumla in Deccan. The king of Beejapore died: and his Omrahs, without consulting the Emperor, placed his son upon the throne. The Emperor, who now affected to reckon the sovereigns of Deccan among his dependants, construed this neglect into a crime, which his new vizir was sent with an army to chastise. He joined Aurungzebe at Burrahanpore; and that ambitious, but artful prince, affected to act with profound submission under the orders of his father’s vizir. These two leaders understood one another. Edition: current; Page: [337] The war was conducted with concert and ability.BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1640-55. The city of Beder was taken. The Beejapore army was defeated in the field. Calburga, the ancient capital of the Deccanee empire, submitted; and the King threw himself at the feet of the conqueror. After settling the terms of submission which were severe, Aurungzebe returned to Burrahanpore, and the vizir was recalled to Agra.1

After these events, the health of the Emperor excited alarm;2 when the flames, which had for some time been with difficulty compressed, broke out with irresistible fury. To every brother under an Oriental despotism the sons of the reigning monarch look, as either a victim, or a butcher; and see but one choice between the Musnud and the grave. The usual policy of Oriental fear is to educate the royal youths to effeminacy and imbecility in the haram; but the sons of Shah Jehan had been led into action, and indulged with the possession of power. They were not all men of capacity; but they were all ardent, brave, and aspiring; and each thought himself worthy of empire. Dara, the eldest, gallant, open, sincere, but impetuous, thoughtless, and rash, was destined to the sovereignty by his father, and generally kept near himself; Sujah, the second, was now Subahdar of Bengal, with more prudence and discretion than his elder brother, but far inferior in those qualities to the deep and dissembling Aurungzebe, who Edition: current; Page: [338] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1655-58.had from an early age affected a character of piety, pretending to hate the business and vanities of the world, and to desire only a retreat, where he might practise the austerities and devotions pleasing to God. Morâd, the youngest of the sons of Shah Jehan, was conspicuous, chiefly, for his courage; popular, from his affability and generosity; but credulous and weak. When his father’s illness gave fire to the combustibles which filled the imperial house, this Prince was serving as Subahdar in Guzerat.

As the illness of the Emperor was from the first regarded as mortal, Dara took into his hands without hesitation the reins of government; and with his usual precipitation and violence began to show what he apprehended from his brothers, and what his brothers had to expect from him. All communication with them was interdicted on pain of death. Their agents, papers, and effects at the capital were seized. Jumla, and such of the other high officers of the state as were suspected of attachment to any of the younger princes, were removed from their situations. And orders were issued to place the imperial forces in a state of preparation for the field.

Suja, who was nearest the scene of action, was the first to appear in hostile array. From the government of the richest province of the empire, which he had severely pillaged, he was master of a large treasure, the best sinew of war; and he had collected an army with a view to that very contest which was now impending. Solimân, the eldest son of Dara, was dispatched without loss of time to oppose him; found means to cross the Ganges unexpectedly; surprised the camp of Suja, and forced him to retreat precipitately to Mongeer; where he was immediately besieged.

In the mean time, Aurungzebe was employing the Edition: current; Page: [339] resources of his fertile mind for strengthening hisBOOK III. Chap. 4. 655-58. hands, and making sure his blow. He persuaded Morâd, that with regard to himself his views were directed to heaven, not to a throne; but as his brothers Dara and Suja, compared with Morad, were unworthy to reign, he was desirous from friendship of aiding him with all his resources; after which the only boon he should crave would be to retire into obscurity, and devote his days and his nights to the service of his Maker.

Though Emir Jumla had been dismissed from the vizirit, he was sent, through some influence which Dara could not resist, to the command of an army in Deccan, where it was the business of Aurungzebe to obtain the benefit of his talents and resources. But the family of Jumla, detained at Delhi, still retained that chieftain in bonds. The expedient which presented itself to the mind of Aurungzebe, fertile in contrivances, was, to seize the person of Emir Jumla. The appearance of constraint would deprive Dara of a pretext for taking revenge on his family. The sudden resentment of his army could be appeased by promises and bribes. The stratagem succeeded, and the talents and army of Jumla were both added to the resources of Aurungzebe.

Having concerted with his brother, from Guzerat, to join him at Oojeen, he took the route from Burrahanpore, and arrived at the Nerbudda, where he learned that Jesswint Sing, who had married the daughter of the Rana of Odipore, and through her succeeded to most of the dominions of her father, was in possession of the city of Oojeen, and prepared to dispute the passage of the army. The Rajah lost the favourable opportunity of attacking the troops of Aurungzebe, when, spent with heat and fatigue, they first arrived on the banks of the Nurbudda. The Edition: current; Page: [340] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1655-58.wily Mogul delayed some days, till joined by Morad; when the brothers crossed the river, and, after a well contested action, put the Rajah to flight. Aurungzebe, who never trusted to force what he could effect by deceit, had previously debauched the Mahomedans in the army of the Rajah, by disseminating among them the idea that help to the infidels was treason to the faithful.

In the mean time, the Emperor Shah Jehan had recovered from the violent effects of his disorder; and resumed the exercise of his authority. Dara, who during the royal illness had behaved with tenderness and fidelity truly filial, and delayed not a moment to restore the reins of government when his father was capable to receive them, was exalted to a still higher place in the affections of the Emperor; who dispatched his commands to the Princes Aurungzebe and Morad to return to their respective governments. Aurungzebe was little inclined to intermit the efforts he had so happily begun; but to make war upon his father, beloved both by the soldiers and people, was to ruin his cause, and make even his own army desert him. Under colour of refreshing his troops, he waited several days at Oojeen; and the impetuosity of Dara, which the counsels of Shah Jehan were unable to restrain, speedily afforded him a pretext to cover his designs. The news of the passage of the Nerbudda, and of the defeat of the Rajah, kindled Dara into a flame. He marched out of Agra at the head of the imperial forces; and enabled Aurungzebe to give out that he fought by necessity; against his brother merely, not his father; and in self-defence. Dara sent to his son Soliman, who was besieging Suja in Mongeer, to make what terms he could with that Sultan, and march with all expedition to join him against Aurungzebe. Suja was allowed to resume Edition: current; Page: [341] the government of Bengal: Soliman hastened towardBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1655-58. the new scene of action: And, could the impatience of Dara, have waited, till joined by his son, who was beloved by the soldiers, and at once prudent and brave, the career of Aurungzebe might perhaps have been closed. The emperor trembled at the prospect of a battle; he threatened to take the field in person, which would have been effectual; because no authority would have been obeyed in opposition to his. But the infatuated Dara found means to prevent the execution of this design; and marched to occupy the banks of the river Chumbul, and the passes of the mountains which extend from Guzerat to the Jumna. Aurungzebe found the passes so strongly guarded, and the enemy so advantageously posted, that he durst not attack them; and fearing the approach of Soliman, he was thrown into the greatest perplexity. In this situation he received, from a treacherous Omrah in the army of Dara, information of a byeroad among the hills, which would conduct him to an unguarded part of the river. He left his camp standing, to amuse the eyes of Dara; whose first intelligence was, that Aurungzebe was in his rear, and in full march towards the capital. By great exertion Dara threw himself before the enemy, and prepared for action. Dara appeared to most advantage in the field of battle. His bravery animated his troops. The impetuous gallantry of Morad, and the cool and inventive intrepidity of Aurungzebe, were balanced by the spirit of the imperial army and its leader. The elephant of Dara was wounded; and in an evil hour he was persuaded to dismount. The troops, missing the imperial houda, suspected treachery, and the death of their general; and every man began to provide for himself. Aurungzebe found himself master of the field of battle, at the moment when he despaired Edition: current; Page: [342] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1658.of any longer being able to make his soldiers maintain the contest.

Dara fled to Agra, and, after a short interview with his father, departed with his family and a few attendants to Delhi, where some imperial troops and treasures were placed at his disposal, and whence he proposed to effect a junction with Soliman. All the cunning and diligence of Aurungzebe were now exerted to the utmost, to improve his victory. He affected to treat Morâd as Emperor; and began to make preparations for himself, as intending immediately to set out on a religious pilgrimage to Mecca. In the mean time he wrote letters, and exhausted the arts of seduction, to detatch the Omrahs from the cause of Dara. His principal solicitude was to debauch the army of Soliman; which he accomplished so effectually, that the unfortunate Prince found at last he could place no dependance on its obedience, and was not even safe in its power. He fled from his danger; and took shelter with the Rajah of Serinagur, an unconquered kingdom of Hindus, among the northern mountains. The victorious army advanced towards Agra; but the Emperor ordered the gates of the citadel to be shut, and Aurungzebe was still afraid to offer violence to his father. He wrote a letter, replete with the strongest professions of loyalty, and of the most profound submission to his parent and sovereign. The Emperor, with the hope of drawing him into his power, affected to be satisfied, and invited him to his presence. Aurungzebe every day pretended that he was just about to comply; but every day found an excuse for delay. After a series of intrigues, he pretended that to set his mind at ease, in appearing under humiliation and abasement before his father, it was necessary that his son should previously be admitted into the citadel with a guard for his person. The Emperor, who was Edition: current; Page: [343] blinded by his desire to have Aurungzebe in his hands,BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1658. assented to a condition which seemed indispensable. When he found himself a prisoner in the hands of his grandson, his rage and vexation exceeded bounds; and he offered to resign to him the crown, if he would set him at liberty, and join him in defeating the schemes of Aurungzebe. But the youth, though not averse to the prospect of reigning, and not much restrained by the sense of filial duty, refused to comply; and, after some hesitation and delay, Shah Jehan sent the keys of the citadel to Aurungzebe. The hypocrisy of Aurungzebe was not yet renounced. By a letter, which was carefully made public, he declared; that with the utmost grief he had been reduced to these extremities; and that as soon as Dara, to whose crimes every evil was owing, should be disabled from future mischief, the happiest event of his life would be, to restore to his father the plenitude of his power.

To deliver himself from Morad was the next study of Aurungzebe. The friends of that thoughtless prince had at last brought him to look with suspicion upon his brother’s designs; and even to meditate an act which might deliver him finally from so dangerous a rival. The sagacity of Aurungzebe enabled him to discover the intended blow, which he contrived to elude at the very moment, when it was aimed and ready to fall. In his turn he inveigled Morad to an entertainment, and, having intoxicated him with wine, withdrew his arms while he slept; seized him without any commotion, and sent him a prisoner to the castle of Agra.1

Edition: current; Page: [344]

BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1658.It was now useless, if not hurtful to the cause of Aurungzebe, any longer to disavow his ultimate purpose. But he waited till he was importuned by his nobles; and then, on the second of August, 1658, in the garden of Azabâd, near Delhi, pretending to be overcome by their entreaties, he submitted to receive the ensigns of royalty; and assumed the pompous title of Aulum gîr, or Conqueror of the world.

Aulum gîr allowed not what he had already achieved to slacken his efforts in finishing what remained to be done. Dara had taken the route towards Lahore; and had the resources of the northern provinces, Lahore, Multan, and Cabul, at his command: Soliman was ready to descend from the mountains with the assistance of the Rajah of Serinagur, and with a body of adherents who still approached the size of an army: And Suja was master of the rich province of Bengal. Aulum gîr saw, what every skilful leader has seen, that in the coarse business of war, expedition is the grand instrument of success. He hastened toward the Sutledge, from the banks of which Dara retreated upon the news of his approach. Aurungzebe, pressing on, drove him first from the Beyah, then from Lahore, and next from Multan; the unfortunate Prince, who might have resisted with some chance of success, having lost his resolution together with his fortune. From Multan, he fled across the Indus to the mountains of Bicker, when Aurungzebe, declaring the war against him to be closed, left eight thousand horse to pursue him, and returned with haste to Agra.

He had no sooner arrived at Agra, than he learned, what he partly expected, that Suja was already in force, and in full march toward the capital. He sent to his son Mahomed whom he had left at Multan, Edition: current; Page: [345] to join him with all his forces; and in the mean timeBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1658. took the road to Bengal, but by slow marches, till Mahomed came up. Suja intrenched himself near Allahabad; and waited for the arrival of his enemy. Though Suja did not avail himself of all his advantages, he was able to join battle with a fair prospect of success. Nor was this all. In the very heat of the action, the Rajah, Jesswint Sing, who had made his peace with Aurungzebe, and joined him with his forces, turned his arms against him, and fell upon the rear of his army. The dismay and desertion which every unexpected incident scatters through an Indian army began to appear. But the firmness of the usurper recovered the blow. His elephant, which was wounded and began to be ungovernable, he ordered to be chained immoveable by the feet; the soldiers, still beholding the imperial castle opposed to the enemy, were rallied by the generals; Suja committed the same fatal mistake which had ruined Dara; he descended from his elephant, and his army dispersed.

Emir Jumla, the ancient friend of Aurungzebe, who from his place of confinement, or pretended confinement in Deccan, had joined him on the march, performed eminent service in this battle. It is even said, that Aurungzebe, when his elephant became ungovernable, had one foot out of the castle to alight, when Jumla, who was near him on horseback, cried out sternly, “You descend from the throne!” Aurungzebe smiled, had a moment for reflection, and replaced himself in the houda.

Suja and his army fled during the night, while Aurungzebe was in no condition to pursue them. Jesswint Sing, and his rajaputs, who had plundered the camp, had the audacity to wait the attack of Edition: current; Page: [346] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1658.Aurungzebe the following day; and were routed, but without being obliged to abandon their spoil. Leaving Mahomed with a force to pursue the vanquished Suja, Aurungzebe hurried back to Agra.

The haste was not without a cause. Dara, after having arrived at Bicker, crossed the desert with his family, and arrived in Guzerat, where he gained the governor. Aurungzebe, aware how small a spark might kindle into a flame, among the disaffected rajahs of the mountains, and the distant viceroys and princes of Deccan, was eager to allow the danger no time to augment. He courted Jesswint Sing, who had so recently betrayed him, to prevent his cooperation with Dara: and marched with all expedition to Ajmere. Dara had already seized an important pass, and entrenched himself. Aurungzebe was not a little startled when he first beheld the advantages of the position, and strength of his works. He set in motion his usual engines of treachery and deceit; and by their assistance gained a complete and final victory. Deserted by all, and robbed of his effects, by a body of Mahrattas in his service, Dara fled towards the Indus with his family, who, nearly destitute of attendants, were on the point of perishing in the desert. After many sufferings, he was seized by a treacherous chief, who owed to him his life and fortune; and delivered into the hands of Aurungzebe. His murder was only a few days deferred; during which he was ignominiously exposed about the streets of Delhi.

While the Emperor was engaged in opposing Dara, his son Mahomed and Jumla the Vizir prosecuted the war against Suja. That Prince had fled from the battle to Patna, from Patna to Mongeer, from Mongeer to Rajamahl, and from Rajamahl he was forced to Edition: current; Page: [347] retreat to Tanda. Sujah was still possessed of resources;BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1658. his courage and resolution failed not; and an event occurred which promised a turn in the tide of his affairs. Mahomed had been formerly enamoured of the daughter of Suja; and their union had been projected, before the distractions of the royal family had filled the empire with confusion and bloodshed. It is said that the Princess wrote to Mahomed a letter, reminding him of his former tenderness, and deprecating the ruin of her father. The impatient and presumptuous Mahomed was little pleased with the treatment he sustained at the hands of Aurungzebe; his heart was touched with the tears of the princess; and he resolved to desert the cause of his own father, and join that of hers. He expected that the army, in which he was popular, would follow his example. But the authority and address of Jumla preserved order and allegiance. The news of his son’s defection quickly reached Aulum gîr; who concluded for certain that he had carried the army along with him, and set out in the utmost expedition with a great force for Bengal. In the mean time Jumla attacked the army of Suja, which he defeated; and the conquered Princes retreated to Dacca. Aurungzebe, pursuing his usual policy, wrote a letter to Mahomed, which he took care that the agents of Suja should intercept. It purported to be an answer to one received; offering to accept the returning duty of Mahomed, and to pardon his error, on the performance of a service which was nameless, but seemed to be understood. This letter smote the mind of Suja with incurable distrust. After a time Mahomed was obliged to depart, and with a heavy heart to entrust himself to his unforgiving father. He was immediately immured in Gualior, where, after languishing for some years, he was entrusted with liberty, though Edition: current; Page: [348] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1658.not with power; but died a short time after.1 Suja was speedily reduced to extremity in Dacca, and having no further means of resistance, fled from the province, and sought refuge in the kingdom of Arracân. But the wretched Rajah, who at once coveted his wealth, and dreaded his pursuers, violated without scruple the laws of hospitality and mercy. Death, in some of the worst of its forms, soon overtook the family of Suja.

During these transactions, rewards, which were too powerful for the virtue of a Hindu, had been offered to the Rajah of Serinagur; and shortly after the ruin of Suja, Solimân, the last object of the fears of Aulum gîr, was delivered into his hands, and added to the number of the prisoners of Gualior.

From the time when Aulum gîr, having subdued all competition for the throne, found himself the undisputed lord of the Mogul empire, the vigilance and steadiness of his administration preserved so much tranquillity in the empire, and so much uniformity in its business, that the historians who describe only wars and revolutions, have found little to do. The most important series of transactions were these which occurred in Deccan; which ceased not during the whole of this protracted reign; laid the foundation of some of the most remarkable of the subsequent events; and had a principal share in determining the form which the political condition of India thereafter assumed. That we may relate these transactions without interruption, we shall shortly premise such of the other transactions handed down to us (for we have no complete history of Aurungzebe) as fell near the beginning of his reign, and merit any regard.

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When Aurungzebe marched from Deccan to contendBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1661. for the crown, he left Mahomed Mauzim, his second son, to command in his name. When established upon the throne, it was not altogether without apprehension that he contemplated so vast a power in hands which possibly might turn it against him. Mauzim, aware of the jealous disposition of his father, preserved the utmost humility of exterior; avoided all display, either of wealth or power; was vigilant in business; exact in obeying the commands of the Emperor, and in remitting the revenue and dues of his government. He was recalled, notwithstanding his prudence, and Shaista Khan made viceroy in Deccan. At the same time, Aurungzebe, seeking security for the present, by directing hope to the future, declared Mahomed Mauzim heir to the throne, and changed his name to Shah Aulum, or King of the World.

The third year of his reign was visited with a great famine, a calamity which ravages India with more dreadful severity than almost any other part of the globe. It was occasioned by the recurrence of an extraordinary drought, which in India almost suspends vegetation, and, throughout the principal part of the country, leaves both men and cattle destitute of food. The prudence of Aurungzebe, if his preceding actions will not permit us to call it his humanity, suggested to him the utmost activity of beneficence on this calamitous occasion. The rents of the husbandman, and other taxes, were remitted. The treasury of the Emperor was opened without limit. Corn was bought in the provinces where the produce was least, conveyed to those in which it was most defective; and distributed to the people at reduced prices. The great economy of Aurungzebe, who allowed no expense for the luxury and ostentation Edition: current; Page: [350] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1665.of a court, and who managed with skill and vigilance the disbursements of the state, afforded him a resource for the wants of his people.

It was before the commencement perhaps of this calamity, that the empire was agitated by the prospect of a fresh revolution from a dangerous sickness of the Emperor.1 The court was full of intrigues; on one hand, for Mauzim, the declared successor; on the other, for Akbar, a young, and even infant son of Aurungzebe. Shah Jehan himself was still alive; and the people in general expected that he would resume the reins of government. But the nation was relieved from its terrors, and from the calamities which too certainly would have fallen upon it. The usurper recovered. But the efforts of Sultan Mauzim, to secure the succession, expressed to the suspicious mind of Aulum gîr, more of the desire to obtain a throne than to preserve a father; and his purpose in regard to the succession, if his declaration in favour of Mauzim had ever been more than a pretence, was from this time understood to have suffered a radical change.

To forward his designs in favour of Akbar, he applied to Shah Jehan, to obtain for that prince, in marriage, the daughter of Dara, who remained in the seraglio of her grandfather. Shah Jehan, though strictly confined in the palace at Agra, had been treated with great respect; retaining his women and servants, and furnished with every amusement in which he was understood to delight. He had not, Edition: current; Page: [351] however, remitted his indignation against Aurungzebe,BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1665. and now sent a haughty and insulting refusal. Aurungzebe had prudence not to force his inclination; and, so far from showing any resentment, redoubled his efforts to soften his mind.

The services of Emir Jumla had been rewarded with the government of Bengal. But the mind of Aurungzebe, and indeed the experience of Oriental government, told him, that he was never safe while there was a man alive, who had power to hurt him. He wished to withdraw the Vizer from his government, but without a rupture, which might raise distrust in the breasts of all his Omrahs. To afford him occupation which would detain his mind from planning defection, he recommended to him a war against the King of Assam, who had broken into Bengal during the distractions of the empire, and still remained unchastised. Jumla, who promised himself both plunder and reputation from this expedition, and whose exploring eye beheld an illustrious path through the kingdom of Assam to the conquest of China, undertook the expedition with alacrity. He ascended the Brahmapootra in boats. The Assamese abandoned the country which lies on the side of the mountains facing Bengal; but the fortress of Azo was garrisoned, and stood an attack. After the reduction of Azo, Jumla crossed the mountains of Assam, vanquished the King who took refuge in his capital, forced him to fly to the shelter of the mountains, and became master of a great part of the kingdom. But the rains came on, which in that kingdom are peculiarly violent and lay the greater part of the level country under water. Jumla found it impossible to subsist his army; and was under the necessity of returning to Bengal. Incredible were the difficulties with which he had to contend; necessaries wanting, Edition: current; Page: [352] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1665.the roads covered with water, and the enemy every where harassing his retreat. The capacity of Jumla triumphed over all obstructions; he brought back the greater part of the army safe; and wrote to the Emperor that he would next year carry his arms to the heart of China. But the army, on its return, was afflicted with a dysentery, the effect of the hardships it had endured. The general escaped not; and worn out, as he was, with years and fatigue, fell a victim to the violence of the disease. “You,” said the Emperor to the son of Jumla, whom he had recently made generalissimo of the horse, “have lost a father; and I have lost the greatest and most dangerous of my friends.”1

The next event is ludicrous, perhaps, in itself, but of high importance, as an instance of the power of superstition among the weak and credulous inhabitants of India. Of the professors of devotion and penance, going by the name of Fakîrs, one class is distinguished by wandering about the country in crowds, almost naked, pretending to live by mendicity, but stealing, plundering, and even committing murder, wherever prompted by the hope of advantage. In the territory of Marwâr, or Judpore, an old woman, possessed of considerable property, began to enlarge her liberalities towards the Fakîrs. The sturdy beggars crowded around her, to the number of some thousands, and not satisfied with the wealth of their pious patroness, made spoil of the neighbouring country, and rioted in devotion and sensuality at her abode. The people, exasperated by these oppressions, rose repeatedly upon the saints; but were defeated with great slaughter. The idea of enchantment was generated. The people regarded the old woman as a sorceress; and believed Edition: current; Page: [353] that she compounded for her followers a horrid messBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1665. which rendered them proof against human weapons, and invincible. What they were not rendered by enchantments, they were rendered by the belief of them. The Fakîrs, finding themselves, under the auspices of the old woman, too formidable for resistance, assembled in great numbers, and spread their devastations to a wide extent. The Rajah of Marwar attacked them, but was defeated. The collectors of the imperial revenue marched against them with the troops under their command; but sustained a similar disaster. Becoming presumptuous from unexpected success, they resolved on a march to the capital, to the number of twenty thousand plundering saints, with the sacred old woman at their head. About five days’ journey from Agra, they were opposed by a body of imperial troops, under the collector of the district. Him they overcame; and now grasped in their imaginations the whole wealth and authority of the state. They set up their old woman as sovereign. Aurungzebe felt the danger to be serious; for the soldiers were infected with the superstitions of the people; and it was hazardous to the last degree, from the terrors with which they might be disordered, to permit them to engage with the sainted banditti. What was first demanded; an antidote to the religious contagion; was invented by Aurungzebe. His own sanctity was as famous as that of the old woman; he pretended that by means of incantation, he had discovered a counter-enchantment; he wrote with his own hand, certain mysterious words upon slips of paper, one of which, carried upon the point of a spear before each of the squadrons, he declared would render impotent the spells of the enchantress. The Emperor was believed, and though the Fakîrs fought with great desperation, they were all cut to pieces, Edition: current; Page: [354] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1665.except a few whom the humanity of the general led him to spare. “I find,” said Aurungzebe, “that too much religion among the vulgar is as dangerous as too little in the monarch.”

In the seventh year of the reign of Aurungzebe his father died. The life of Shah Jehan had reached its natural period; but his death did not escape the suspicion of the pousta, that detestable invention of despotic fears.1

After the death of Jumla, the Rajah of Arracan had invaded the contiguous quarter of Bengal, and possessed himself of Chittagong and all the country along the coast to the Ganges. He availed himself of the Portuguese settlers, who were numerous at Chittagong, and of their ships, which abounded in the bay of Bengal, and it is said infested the coast and every branch of the Ganges as plunderers and pirates. These evils it consisted not with the vigilance of Aurungzebe to leave without a cure. A new deputy was appointed for Bengal; an army collected itself at Dacca; and descended the river. The enemy, Edition: current; Page: [355] though master of the forts and strong holds of theBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1668. country, without much resistance retired. The Portuguese were invited to betray them, and made no hesitation by their obedience to purchase for themselves privileges and settlements in Bengal.1

The mistake of a secretary was near involving the empire, not only in hostilities with the whole force of Persia, but in all the horrors of a civil war. Aurungzebe, who had been complimented upon ascending the throne by embassies from the Khan of the Usbeks, and from Abbas II. Shah of Persia, proposed, after settling the affairs of his government, to make the suitable return. The secretary who composed the letters, addressed to the respective sovereigns, inadvertently designated the Shah, by no higher title than belonged to the Khan of the Usbeks. This was interpreted as a meditated insult: and resented by a declaration of hostilities. Aurungzebe wished to explain the mistake, but his ambassador was not admitted even to an audience. His own weapons were tried against him; and he added an illustrious instance to prove, that he who is most practised in the arts of deception is not always the hardest to deceive. Of the Mahomedan army and officers of the Mogul empire, as some were Moguls, some Afghauns, some Turks, and some Usbeks, so a large proportion were Persians, among whom was the Vizir himself. The fidelity of this part of his subjects, Aurungzebe was by no means willing to try, in a war with their native country. A letter was intercepted from Abbas, addressed Edition: current; Page: [356] BOOK III. Chap. 4. the Vizir himself, importing that a conspiracy existed among the Persian nobles to seize the Emperor when he should take the field. Aurungzebe was transported with apprehension and rage. He issued a sudden order to the city guards to surround the houses of the Persian Omrahs, which they were forbidden to quit under pain of death. Aurungzebe found himself on the brink of a precipice. The Persian chiefs were numerous and powerful; a common danger united them; the descendants of the Afghaun nobility, who formed a considerable proportion of the men in power, and hated the Moguls, by whom the Afghaun dynasty had been driven from the throne, were very likely to make common cause with the Persians. Even if guilty, he beheld appalling danger in attempting to punish them; but he now reflected that he might have been deceived, and wished only for the means of a decent retreat. He sent for some of the principal Omrahs; but they excused themselves from attendance. All had assembled their friends and dependants; fortified their houses, and waited the appeal to arms. After a suspense of two days, the princess Jehanara arrived. She had been sent for, express, upon the first alarm. The favourite daughter of Shah Jehan, by whom the Persians had always been distinguished and exalted, might render, by her mediation, the most important assistance. After a short conference with the Emperor, she presented herself in her chair at the door of the Vizir. This was an act of supreme confidence and honour. The doors of the mansion flew open; the Vizir hastened to the hall of audience, and prostrated himself at the foot of the throne. Aurungzebe descended, and embraced him. Convinced that he had been deceived, he now sought only to obliterate all memory of the offence; and with some loss of reputation, Edition: current; Page: [357] and a remainder of disgust in the breasts of some of the Omrahs, he recovered himself from the dangerous position in which a moment of rashness had placed him. Shah Abbas in the mean time, with a large army, was upon his march toward the confines of India; and Aurungzebe, who had sent forward his son Mauzim to harass the enemy, but not to fight, made rapid preparations to meet him in person. Shah Abbas, however, died in the camp, before he arrived at the scene of action. His successor wished to mount the throne, free from the embarrassment of an arduous war; and Aurungzebe was more intent upon gaining conquests in Deccan than in Persia. An accommodation, therefore, was easily made.1

These transactions were all contained within the first ten years of the reign of Aurungzebe, during which several events had already occurred in Deccan. A new enemy had arisen, whose transactions were not as yet alarming, but who had already paved the way to revolutions of the greatest importance. This was Sevagee, the founder of the Mahratta empire; a power which began when the empire of the Moguls was in its utmost strength; and rose to greatness upon its ruins. In the mountainous regions which extended from the borders of Guzerat to Canara, beyond the island of Goa, lived a race of Hindus, who resembled the mountaineers in almost all the other parts of Hindustan, that is, were a people still more rude and uncivilized than the inhabitants of the plains, and at the same time far more hardy and warlike. They consisted of various tribes or communities, to some of which (it appears not to how many) the name of Mahratta, afterwards extended to them all, was applied.2 Sevagee was the son Edition: current; Page: [358] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1668.of Shahjee, a Hindu in the service of Ibrahim Adil Shah, King of Beejapore, from whom he received a jahgire in the Carnatic, with a command of ten thousand horse. Sevagee, when very young, was sent along with his mother to reside at Poonah, of which as a Zemindary, his father had obtained a grant, and of which he entrusted the management, together with the charge of his wife and son, to one of his officers, named Dadajee Punt. The mother of Sevagee was an object of aversion to her husband; and the son shared in the neglect which was the lot of his mother. He grew up under Dadajee, to vigour both of body and mind; and at seventeen years of age engaged a number of banditti, and ravaged the neighbouring districts. Dadajee, afraid of being made to answer for these enormities, and unable to restrain them, swallowed poison, and died; when Sevagee took possession of the Zemindary, increased the number of his troops, and raised contributions in all the neighbouring districts. Such was the commencement of the fortunes of Sevagee.1

Of his ancestry, the following is the account presented to us. His father was the son of Malojee; Edition: current; Page: [359] and Malogee was the son of Bauga Bonsla, a son ofBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1668. the Rana of Odipoor, by a woman of an inferior caste. The degradation of Bauga Bonsla, from the impurity and baseness of his birth, drove him to seek, among strangers, that respect which he was denied at home. He served, during a part of his life, a Rajah, possessing a Zemindaree in the province of Candesh; and afterwards purchased for himself a Zemindaree in the neighbourhood of Poonah, where he resided till his death. His son Malojee entered the service of a Mahratta chief, in which he acquired so much distinction as to obtain the daughter of his master in marriage for his son. This son was Shajee, and Sevagee was the fruit of the marriage. But Shajee, having quarrelled with his father-in-law, repaired to the king of Beejapore, and received an establishment in Carnatic. He here joined the Polygar of Mudkul in a war upon the Rajah of Tanjore; and having defeated the Rajah, the victors quarrelled about the division of the territory. Shajee defeated the Polygar, took possession of both Mudkul and Tanjore; and having married another wife, by whom he had a son named Ekogee, he left him and his posterity Rajahs of Tanjore, till they sunk into dependants of the East India Company.1

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BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1668.When Sevagee, upon the death of Dadajee, seized the Zemindaree of Poonah, his father was too much occupied in the East to be able to interfere. Aurungzebe was at the same moment hastening his preparations for the war with his brothers; and invited Sevagee to join his standards. The short-sighted Hindu insulted his messenger, and reproached Aurungzebe himself with his double treason against a King and a father. He improved the interval of distraction in the Mogul empire; took the strong fortress of Rayree, or Râjegur, which he fixed upon as the seat of his government; and added to it Porundeh, Jegneh, and several districts dependant on the King of Beejapore. The threats of that power, now little formidable, restrained not his career of plunder and usurpation. He put to death, by treachery, the Rajah of Jaowlee, and seized his territory and treasure; plundered the rich and manufacturing city of Kallean; took Madury, Purdhaungur, Rajapore, Sungarpore, and an island belonging to the Portuguese. At length the Beejapore government sent an army to suppress him. He deceived the general with professions of repentance and offers of submission; stabbed him to the heart at a conference; cut to pieces his army deprived of its leader; and rapidly took possession of the whole region of Kokun or Concan, the Edition: current; Page: [361] country lying between the Ghauts and the sea, fromBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1668. Goa to Daman.

When Aurungzebe, upon the defeat of his rivals, sent Shaista Khan, with the rank of Ameer al Omrah, or head of the Omrahs, to command in Deccan, the Rajah Jesswunt Sing, who had redeemed his treachery in the battle against Suja, by his subsequent dereliction of the cause of Dara, was invested about the same time with the government of Guzerat. As soon as Aurungzebe had leisure to attend to the progress of Sevagee, the viceroy of Guzerat was commanded to co-operate with the viceroy of Deccan, in reducing and chastising the Mahratta adventurer. Sevagee could not resist the torrent which now rolled against him. The strong fortress of Jegneh was taken. The Ameer al Omrah advanced to Poonah, where he took up his residence. Here a band of assassins made their way to his bed in the night. He himself was wounded in the hand, by which he warded off a blow from his head, and his son was slain. The assassins escaped, and Sevagee himself was understood to have been among them. Circumstances indicated treachery; and the suspicions of Shaista Khan fell upon Jesswunt Sing. These two generals were recalled; and after an interval of two years, during which the Prince Mahomed Mauzim, or Shah Aulum, held the government of Deccan, the two generals, Jey Sing and Dilleer Khan were sent to prosecute the war against the Mahratta chief. Jey Sing was the Rajah of Abnir,1 and Dilleer was a Patan Omrah, who both Edition: current; Page: [362] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1668.had obtained high rank as generals in the service of Shah Jehan; and being chosen for their merit as the fittest to guide and enlighten Soliman, when sent against Suja, were the chiefs whom Aurungzebe had gained to betray their master, and debauch his army.

Before the arrival of these generals, Sevagee had with great address surprised and plundered Surat; a city of importance and renown; the chief part of the Mogul empire; and that from which the holy pilgrims commenced their voyage to the tomb of the prophet. The operations of the new commanders turned the tide in Mahratta affairs. The armies of Sevagee were driven from the field; his country was plundered; and Poorundeh, a strong fortress, in which he had placed his women and treasures, was besieged. It was reduced to the last extremity, when Sevagee, unarmed, presented himself at one of the outposts of the imperial camp, and demanded to be led to the general. Professing conviction of his folly, in attempting to contend with the Mogul power, he craved the pardon of his disobedience, and offered to the Emperor his services, along with twenty forts which he would immediately resign. Jeysing embraced the Edition: current; Page: [363] proposal; and Sevagee obeyed the imperial order,BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1668. to wait upon the Emperor at Delhi. Sevagee had offered to conduct the war in Candahar against the Persians. Had he been received with the honour to which he looked, he might have been gained to the Mogul service, and the empire of the Mahrattas would not have begun to exist. But Aurungzebe, who might easily have dispatched, resolved to humble the adventurer. When presented in the hall of audience, he was placed among the inferior Omrahs; which affected him to such a degree that he wept and fainted away. He now meditated, and with great address contrived, the means of escape. Leaving his son, a boy, with a Brahmen whom he knew at Mutterah, and who afterwards conducted him safe to his father, he travelled as a pilgrim to Juggernaut, and thence by the way of Hyderabad to his own country.1

The prince Shah Aulum, and the Rajah Jesswunt Sing, were sent to supersede the Rajah Jey Sing, who was suspected of an understanding with Sevagee, and died on his way to the imperial presence.2 The change was favourable to Sevagee; because Jesswunt Sing, who had but little affection to the imperial service, allowed the war to linger, and discontents and jealousies to breed in the army. Sevagee was not inactive. Immediately upon his arrival he took royal Edition: current; Page: [364] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1668.titles, and struck coins in his name. His troops, in consequence of his previous arrangements, had been well kept on foot during his absence; and he attacked immediately the Mogul territories and forts. Surat was again plundered; he recovered all the forts which he had resigned, and added some new districts to his former possessions.

The weakness of Beejapore made him look upon the territories of that declining state as his easiest prey. Neither upon that, however, nor any other enterprise, could he proceed with safety, till his forts were supplied with provisions; and provisions, while pressed by the Mogul arms, he found it difficult, if not impossible, to supply. He seems never to have distrusted his own address any more than his courage. By a letter to Jesswunt Sing, he averred, that only because his life was in danger had he fled from the imperial presence, where his faithful offer of services had been treated with scorn; that still he desired to return within the walks of obedience; and would place his son in the imperial service, if any command in the army, not dishonourable, was bestowed upon him. The stratagem succeeded to his wish; he obtained a truce, during which he supplied his forts; he dexterously withdrew his son from the Mogul army; with little resistance he took possession of several important districts belonging to Beejapore; compelled the King to pay him a contribution of three lacs of pagodas, and the King of Golconda to pay him another of four.1

The Emperor, displeased with Jesswunt Sing, as well on account of the ill success of the war, as the divisions and jealousies which reigned in the army, recalled him; and several generals were successively Edition: current; Page: [365] sent to conduct affairs under Aulum Shah. In theBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1671-81. mean time, the Mahrattas plundered the adjoining countries, retreating with the spoil to their forts, in spite of all the efforts of the imperial commanders. At last, in 1671, the Prince himself was recalled. An Omrah, titled Bahadur Khan, succeeded him; and retained the government till the year 1676. During these years the war produced no remarkable event, though it was prosecuted with considerable activity, and without intermission. The efforts of the Viceroy were divided and weakened, by hostilities with Beejapore and Golconda; which, though they had contributed to the fall of those languishing states, had aided the rising power of Sevagee. In 1677 that chieftain affected to enter into an alliance with the King of Golconda against the King of Beejapore and the Moguls; and marched into the territory of Golconda at the head of an army of 40,000 horse. He proceeded to make conquests with great appearance of fidelity; but placed Mahratta governors in all the fortresses, and enriched himself by plunder. He obtained possession of the impregnable fortress of Gingee by treachery. He laid siege to Vellore, which defended itself during more than four months. An interview took place between Sevagee and Ekojee, the latter of whom, perceiving the insatiable appetite of his brother for power, trembled for his dominions. Before he had time, however, to conquer every thing to the north of the Coleroon, he was recalled to his western dominions.1 Dilleer Khan, who succeeded Bahadur, carried on the war in a similar manner, and was superseded by Bahadur, who received the command anew, in 1681. The most remarkable occurrence, Edition: current; Page: [366] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1681.during the administration of Dilleer, was the arrival in his camp of the son of Sevagee, who had incurred the displeasure of his father, and fled for protection to the Moguls. The event was regarded as fortunate, and a high rank was bestowed upon the young Mahratta; but Sevagee soon found means to regain his confidence, and he had the good fortune to make his escape a little time before his father terminated his indefatigable and extraordinary career.

During all the time of these great and multiplied transactions, a naval war, which we hear of for the first time in the history of India, was carried on between Sevagee and his enemies. At the commencement of his exploits, a chief, distinguished by the name of Siddee Jore, had the government of the town of Dunda Rajapore, a sea-port, to the southward of Bombay, belonging to the king of Beejapore; and at the same time, the command of the fleet, which that sovereign had formed to protect his maritime dominions, and their trade, from the naval enemies which now infested the coasts of India. While Siddee Jore was endeavouring to signalize himself against Sevagee in another quarter, that ingenious adventurer arrived unexpectedly at Dunda Rajapore, and obtained possession of it by a stratagem. The loss of this important place so enraged the King against Siddee Jore that he procured his assassination. At the time of the capture of Dunda Rajapore, however, the heir of Siddee Jore was in the command of the fleet, which lay at the fortified island of Gingerah, before the town. When the outrage was committed upon his father by the king of Beejapore he tendered his services to Aurungzebe, with the fort of Gingerah, and the whole of the Beejapore fleet. The offer, of course, was greedily accepted. Siddee, it appears, was a name, which was applied in common to those Edition: current; Page: [367] Abyssinian adventurers, who had passed over, in greatBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1682. numbers, from their own country into the service of the kings of Deccan; and had there frequently engrossed a great proportion of the principal offices of state. Of this class of men was the admiral who had now enlisted himself in the Mogul service. He was joined by a great number of his family and countrymen. He himself was called the Siddee, by way of distinction; his principal officers had the term Siddee prefixed to their names; and his crews and followers were in general denominated the Siddees. They carried on an active warfare along the whole western coast of India, and were not only dangerous and troublesome enemies to Sevagee, but formidable even to the British, and other European traders, who frequented the coast.1

Sevagee breathed his last, in his fortress of Rayree on the 5th of April, 1682, of an inflammation in his chest, at the early age of fifty-two; having displayed a fertility of invention, adapted to his ends; and a firmness of mind in the pursuit of them, which have seldom been equalled, probably never surpassed. With the exception of the few small districts possessed by the Europeans, his dominions, at the time of his death, comprehended, along the western coast of India, an extent of about 400 miles in length by 120 in breadth, and from the river Mirzeou in the south, to Versal in the north. Of the detached forts, which at one time he had garrisoned in Carnatic, only one or two appear to have at this time remained in his hands.2

During these transactions in the south, we are not informed of any other emergency which called the attention of Aurungzebe from the ordinary details of his administration; excepting a war with the Patans Edition: current; Page: [368] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1682.or Afghauns who infested the northern provinces; and another, which the Emperor himself provoked, with the rajpoots of Ajmere and Malwa.

The Governor of Peshawir, to punish an incursion of the Patans, had, in 1673, pursued them to their mountains, where he allowed himself to be entangled in the defiles, and was cut off with his whole army. A Patan, who had served in the armies of Sultan Sujah, and bore a strong resemblance to his person, gave birth to a report, that the Sultan had made his escape from Arracan. The Patans proclaimed him King of India; and all the tribes of that people were summoned to join their forces to place him upon his throne. They were able, it is said, had they united, to bring into the field 150,000 men; and Aurungzebe was roused by the magnitude of the danger. He took the field in person, and crossed the Indus, about the close of the year 1674. The war lasted for about fifteen months, during which the Patans were driven from the more accessible country; and Aurungzebe was too cautious to penetrate among the mountains. A chain of forts was established to restrain them; and the governor whom he left at Peshawir, having exerted himself to gain the confidence of the Patan chiefs, drew them to an entertainment at that place, and murdered them along with their attendants. Though Aurungzebe disowned the action, he obtained not the credit of being averse to it.1

It is probable that Aurungzebe, from political motives, projected the reduction of the rajpoot states, viewing with jealousy the existence of so great an independent power, (able, it is said, to bring 200,000 men into the field) to the heart of his dominions. He put on however the mask of religion, and began the Edition: current; Page: [369] execution of a project, or pretended project, for theBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1682. forcible conversion of the Hindus to the religion of the faithful. Jesswunt Sing, the Maharajah, or Great Rajah, as he was called, having died, near Cabul in 1681, his children, on their return to their native country, were ordered to be conducted to court; where he insisted on their being rendered Mahomedans. Their rajpoot attendants contrived their escape, and fled with them to their own country. The Emperor revenged the disobedience by a war; which he conducted in person. His numerous forces drove the rajpoots from the more accessible parts of their difficult country; but they held possession of their mountains and fastnesses; and the war degenerated into a tedious and ineffectual struggle. Aurungzebe sat down at Ajmere, where he superintended, at a less inconvenient distance, the operations in Deccan, as well as the war with the rajpoots.1

Sambah, or Sambagee, the eldest son of Sevagee, succeeded to his throne, but not without a competitor, in a younger brother, whose adherents created him considerable danger, till the principal among them were all put to death. While the war was carried on between the Mahratta and the imperial generals in Deccan, as it had been for several years, by sudden inroads on the one side, and pursuit on the other; but with few important advantages on either; Akbar, one of the younger sons of Aurungzebe, who was employed in the war against the rajpoots, turned his standards against his father, being offered assistance by the enemy whom he was sent to subdue. One of Aurungzebe’s tried artifices, that of raising jealousy between associates, enabled him to defeat the Edition: current; Page: [370] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1687.first attempt of Akbar, who fled from the country of the rajpoots, and took refuge with Sambagee.

Both Sambagee and Aurungzebe knew the value of the acquisition. The prince was received with extraordinary honours, by the Mahratta chief, who would not sit in his presence. And Aurungzebe, resolving to extinguish the enemy who had so long troubled his government in the south, arrived with a vast army at Aurungabad, in 1684. After the attack and defence of some forts, with no important result, the prince Shah Aulum was sent into Concan, to reduce the Mahratta fortresses on the sea coast. He found it impossible to procure provisions; the climate disagreed with the Mogul troops; and he was obliged to return with only a remnant of his army.1

In 1687, the Emperor resolved upon the final reduction of the Mahomedan kingdoms of Deccan, Hyderabad or Golconda, and Beejapore, which displayed a greater residue of strength and resources, than their reduced condition had led him to expect. From Ahmednuggur, where the grand camp had already arrived, he moved as far as Sholapore, and sent one army towards Hyderabad, another towards Beejapore.

The general, who led the army of the King of Hyderabad, betrayed his trust, and passed over to the enemy; upon which the King abandoned the open country, and shut himself up in the fort of Golconda. Hyderabad was taken and plundered. That the Sultan Mauzim, however, who commanded, might not have the honour, which he was wise enough not to covet, of taking Golconda, Aurungzebe accepted the humble terms which were offered by the King, and reserved his destruction till another opportunity.

Beejapore made considerable resistance, which was Edition: current; Page: [371] aided by scarcity. After the city had been besiegedBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1690. for some time, the Emperor proceeded to the attack in person. Famine at last compelled the garrison to surrender; and the young King was delivered into the hands of Aurungzebe.1

He received, about the same time, intelligence of another agreeable event, the departure of Sultan Akbar, from the Mahratta country to Persia. As this lessened greatly, in the eyes of Aurungzebe, the importance of immediate operations against the Mahrattas, he turned from Bejapore towards Golconda. Shah Aulum, with his sons, was seized and put in confinement, for remonstrating, it is said, against the treachery aimed at the unfortunate King of Golconda, who had submitted under pledge of honour to himself. Aurungzebe, in truth, was incurably jealous of his son, because heir to his throne; and was stimulated to ease his mind of a part of its load of terror and distrust. Golconda was invested, and, after a siege of seven months, fell by that treachery, the benefit of which Aurungzebe made it his constant endeavour to procure. He had now the two sovereigns of Deccan in his hands, and the reduction of the outstanding forts was all that remained to complete the extension of the Mogul dominion to the furthest limit of Carnatic.2

This important success was immediately followed by an event which the Emperor regarded as peculiarly fortunate. His spies brought intelligence, that Sambagee, at one of his forts in the mountains not far distant, was spending his time in a round of his favourite Edition: current; Page: [372] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1690-1700.pleasures, and very imperfectly on his guard. A body of troops was dispatched to surprise him, and he was, in fact, taken prisoner. Sambagee was too formidable to be permitted to live; but the Emperor polluted his fortune by glutting his eyes with the butchery of his enemy; who relaxed not his haughtiness in the presence of death. The efficacy of Sambagee’s talents, which were not inconsiderable, was obstructed by his immoderate passion for women, which his father predicted would lead him to his ruin.

The Emperor followed up his advantage with activity, and immediately sent an army into Concan. Its operations were highly successful; and Rayree, which Sambagee and his father had made their capital, together with the wives and infant son of that chieftain, fell into the hands of the victor.1

Rama, however, the brother of Sambagee, escaped from Concan, and, crossing by the way of Seringapatam to Carnatic, threw himself into the fort of Gingee, which was a place of great strength, and by the obstinacy of its resistance, or the interested delays of the imperial generals, retarded the settlement of Deccan for several years. It gave occupation to a great part of the imperial army from the year 1692 to the year 1700; and during that period kept the reduction of Carnatic incomplete.

The Emperor turned his whole attention to the final subjugation of the Mahrattas, and penetrated into the country with his principal army. But while he was employed in the reduction of forts, the Mahrattas, under various chiefs, issued from their mountains, and spreading over the newly conquered countries of Beejapore and Golconda, and even the provinces of Berar, Candesh, and Malwa, carried great Edition: current; Page: [373] plunder back with them, and left devastation behind.BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1700-07. The imperial forces marched to oppose them in all directions, and easily conquered them in battle when they could bring them to an action. But the Mahrattas eluded rencounter, retired to their mountains when pursued, hung upon the rear of their enemy when obliged to return, and resumed their devastations whenever they found the country cleared of the troops which opposed them. The Emperor persevered with great obstinacy in besieging the forts in the accessible parts of the Mahratta country; the greater part of which fell into his hands. But during that time the Mahrattas so enriched themselves by plundering the imperial dominions, and so increased in multitude and power, being joined by vast numbers of the Zemindars in the countries which they repeatedly over-ran, that the advantages of the war were decidedly in their favour, and the administration of Aurungzebe betrayed the infirmities of age. The more powerful Omrahs, who maintained numerous troops, and were able to chastise invaders, his jealous policy made him afraid to trust with the command of provinces. He made choice of persons without reputation and power, who abandoning the defence of their provinces, to which they were unequal, were satisfied with enriching themselves by the plunder of the people. Under so defective a government, the Mahrattas found the whole country south from the Nerbudda open to their incursions. The Emperor persevered in his attempts to subdue them. In that harassing and unavailing struggle were the years consumed which intervened till his death. This event took place, in the camp at Ahmednugger on the 21st of February 1707, in the forty-eighth year of his reign, and ninety-fourth of his age.1

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BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1707.At the time when the last illness of Aurungzebe commenced, his eldest son Mahomed Mauzim, who at an early age had received the title of Shah Aulum, was at Cabul, of which, as a distant province where he would be least dangerous, he was made governor, upon his liberation from the confinement in which he had languished for several years. His two remaining sons, Azim Shah, who was subahdar of Guzerat, and his youngest son Kam Buksh, who had been recently appointed to the government of Beejapore, were both in the camp. Aurungzebe, who forgot not his caution to the last, hurried them away to their stations, either fearing lest under his weakness they should seize upon his person while yet alive; or lest they should fill the camp with bloodshed immediately upon his dissolution. Azim had not yet reached his province, when he received the news of the Emperor’s decease. He hurried back to the camp, and, no competitor being present, received without difficulty the obedience of the army.

As it was not, however, expected that Shah Aulum would quietly resign his throne and his life, Azim began his march towards the northern provinces. On the news of the Emperor’s illness, Shah Aulum had dispatched his commands to his two sons; Moiz ad dien, the eldest, governor of Multan, and Azim Ooshaun, the second, governor of Bengal, to advance with their forces towards Agra. Azim Ooshaun had used so much diligence, that he was enabled to anticipate the arrival of Azim Shah, and got possession of Agra with its treasures. As the two Edition: current; Page: [375] armies were approaching one another in the neighbourhoodBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1707. of Agra, Shah Aulum addressed a letter to his brother, offering to divide the kingdom. The presumptuous prince rejected the proposal; and the armies came to action; when Azim Shah lost the battle, and he and his two eldest sons their lives. He had committed many important errors; among others offended the generalissimo, the famous Zulfeccar Khan, the favourite general of Aurungzebe, and son of Assud Khan, his vizir. He rejected the advice of this commander at the commencement of the battle, and Zulfeccar with his forces withdrew from the field.1

Shah Aulum, who now assumed the title of Bahadur Shah, was chiefly indebted to the prudence and wisdom of Monâim Khan, his minister of finance, for his victory and throne. He rewarded him with the office of vizir; but Assud Khan, the late vizir, and Zulfeccar Khan his son, were received with extraordinary favour: the former being created vakeel muttulluck;2 the latter meer bukshi;3 and governor of all Deccan, with the title of Ameer ul Omrah.

Another contest, however, still remained. The throne was promised to Kâm Buksh by his own vanity, and by his astrologers; and though his brother, even when near him with an irresistible army, invited him to enjoy in peace his kingdom of Beejapore, to which he offered to add that of Golconda, the infatuated prince was resolved upon his destruction. It had been the object of his father to render Edition: current; Page: [376] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1708.him, by his power in Beejapore, safe from the jealousy of any of his brothers who might ascend the imperial throne. For this purpose, he had placed in his service the Turanee Moguls, or that part of the army which consisted of the Mogul adventurers, newly arrived from Tartary, and distinguished from those who had been bred in Hindustan. The chief of these Moguls was Ghazee ad dien Khan, a man of great years and experience; who had acquired high reputation and influence in Deccan during the wars of Aurungzebe. The light, inconsiderate, rash, and inconstant character of Kâm Buksh would have discovered to a less discerning mind than that of Ghazee, the speedy ruin of that prince’s hopes; he therefore listened to the friendly proposals of the Emperor, and was appointed Subahdar of Guzerat, while his son Cheen Koolich Khan, a man of great celebrity in the subsequent history of India, was favourably received at court. Kâm Buksh was gradually deserted by almost all his followers; but rushed desperately into battle near Hyderabad with not more than a few hundred attendants. He was taken prisoner; but not till he received a mortal wound, of which he died the same evening.

The Emperor seemed afraid of becoming, like his father, entangled in the labyrinth of Deccanee affairs; and leaving to his officers whatever remained for the settling of those newly conquered regions, he began his march towards the capital, though in the middle of the rains. Zulfeccar Khan, the subahdar of Deccan, left Daood Khan Dunnee, a native of Deccan, his deputy; and followed his master, still further to push his ambitious designs.

The Emperor was not satisfied with the Rajpoot princes, whose disobedience had been provoked by the religious and mischievous war kindled against Edition: current; Page: [377] them at the end of the reign of Aurungzebe. AjeetBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1709. Sing, the successor of Jesswunt Sing, Raja of Odeypore; and Jeysing, the successor of the Rajah, who had rendered himself famous in the wars of Aurungzebe, had formed an alliance, cemented by marriage; and without professing independence of the Mogul power, endeavoured to yield a very limited obedience. Some unavailing measures were taken to reduce them to more perfect subjection. But a new enemy, whose operations began to be serious, and even formidable, rendered it adviseable to accept for the present the nominal obedience of the Rajpoots.

The Seiks, now ravaging the province of Lahore and the northern part of the province of Delhi, committing outrages on the persons of the Moslem, inflamed both the religious and political indignation of the Emperor and his Omrahs. This people, of whom the history is curious, were advancing rapidly to that importance, which renders them at present one of the principal powers in Hindustan. Their origin is to be traced back to the time of the Emperor Baber, when a celebrated Dirvesh, being captivated with the beauty of the son of a grain merchant of the Cshatrya caste, by name Nannuk, brought him to reside in his house, and instructed him in the sublime doctrines and duties of Islamism. Nannuk aspired beyond the merit of a learner. From theological writings which he perused, he selected, as he went on, such doctrines, expressions, sentiments, as captivated his fancy. At length his selections approached to the size of a book; and being written (it is said with elegance) in the Punjabee dialect, or language of the country, were read by various persons, and admired. The fame of Nannuk’s book was diffused. He gave it a name, Kirrunt,1 and, by degrees, the votaries Edition: current; Page: [378] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1709.of Kirrunt became a sect. They distinguished themselves by a peculiar garb and manners, which resembled those of the Moslem fakîrs. They united so as to live by themselves apart from the other inhabitants; and formed villages or communities, called Sangats, in which some one, as head of the community, always presided over the rest. Nannuk was followed by nine successors in the office of chief, or patriarch of the whole sect; during whose time the Seiks led peaceable and inoffensive lives. Teeg Bahadur, the tenth in order, was perpetually followed by a large multitude of the enthusiasts of the sect; and united himself with a Mussulman fakîr who had a number of followers approaching that of his own. To subsist so numerous a body of idle religionists, the neighbouring districts were laid under contribution; and the saints having tasted the sweets of a life of plunder and idleness, pushed their depredations, and became the scourge of the provinces. Aurungzebe, who was then upon the throne, commanded the governor of Lahore to seize the two leaders of the banditti; to banish the Mussulman beyond the Indus; and to conduct the Hindu to the fort of Gualior; where he was put to death. The loss of their patriarch was far from sufficient to extinguish the religious flame of the Seiks. A son of Teeg Bahadur, whose family name was Govind, was raised to the vacant supremacy, and was distinguished by the name of Gooroo Govind, Gooroo being the title bestowed by a Hindu on his religious instructor. The fate of his father taught him audacity; he instructed his followers, hitherto unarmed, to provide themselves with weapons and horses; divided them into troops; placed them under the command of those of his friends in whose conduct and fidelity he confided; and plundered Edition: current; Page: [379] the country by force of arms. He was not, however,BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1709. able to withstand the troops of the province, which were collected to oppose him; his two sons were taken prisoners, and he himself fled among the Afghauns. After a time he came back, disguised as an Afghaun devotee; but falling into mental derangement, was succeeded by Banda, one of his followers, who assumed the name of Gooroo Govind, and resolved to take vengeance on the Moslems for the slaughter of the father and sons of his predecessor. To the robbery and plunder which had become the business of the Seiks, he added cruelty and murder. The Moslem historians of these events are filled with horror as well as indignation at the cruelties which he exercised upon the faithful (to them alone, it seems, did they extend) and describe as one of the most sanguinary of monsters the man whose actions, had infidels been the sufferers, and a Mussulman the actor, they might not, perhaps, have thought unworthy of applause. It was this Banda whose enormities Shah Aulum hurried from Deccan to interrupt and chastise. The rebels (so they were now denominated) deserted Sirhind upon the approach of the Emperor, and retired to Daber, a place of strength, at the entrance of the mountains, and the principal residence of the Gooroo. When Daber was reduced to the last extremity, Banda, with his principal followers, retired to the mountains during the night. The presence of the Emperor suspended, but did not extinguish, the depredations of the Seiks.1

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BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1712.Shah Aulum had reigned five years, counting from the death of Aurungzebe, with the praise of great humanity, having spilt the blood of no rival but in the field, and treating the sons of his rebel brothers like his own; when he was seized with a violent illness, and expired suddenly in his camp, near Lahore, in the year 1712.

The four sons of Shah Aulum, each with his army and retainers, were in the camp; Moiz ad dien Khan, the eldest; Azeem Ooshaun, the second, the favourite of his father; Ruffeh Ooshaun, the third; and Kojesteh Akter, the youngest. Of all the Omrahs, the vizir Monaim Khan being dead, Zulfeccar Khan was by far the most powerful; and doubted not to place on the musnud any of the princes whose cause he should espouse. Azeem Ooshaun, who had in the camp a large treasure of his own, and from his situation near his father was enabled to possess himself of all the imperial treasure and effects, assumed the sceptre without hesitation. Zulfeccar Khan sent to him a confidential messenger, to ask if, in that emergency, he could render him any service; and receiving a careless and disdainful answer, took his resolution. He passed to the camp of Moiz ad Dien, and formed or confirmed a union of the three brothers, who agreed to oppose Azeem Ooshaun, and afterwards to divide the empire. Azeem Ooshaun lost the favourable opportunity of attacking his brothers. He allowed the time to pass; till they made their preparations; and till his own army, becoming uneasy and dispirited, began to disperse. When the inevitable hour arrived, he was conquered without much difficulty, and disappeared Edition: current; Page: [381] in the battle; his wounded elephant, it is supposed,BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1712. rushed with him down the precipice into the river, where both sunk to appear no more.

To the surviving princes it remained to settle the partition on which they had agreed; but Zulfeccar Khan had other designs. Whether from selfish motives, or a patriotic dread of the consequences of division; whether because that prince was the weakest, and might be governed, or the oldest, and had the better title, the Ameer ul Omrah resolved to make Moiz ad Dien sole Emperor, and to defeat the expectations of the other two. By various artifices, creating difficulties and delay, he contrived to secure the greater part of the treasure to Moiz ad Dien. This roused the jealousy of Kojesteh Akter, and he prepared for action; but the night before the projected battle a fire broke out in his camp, and he lost the greater part of his ammunition. He and his son fought with gallantry, but his soldiers deserted him during the engagement, and gave an easy victory to his more fortunate brother. Ruffeh Ooshaun stood aloof during this action; still confiding in the friendship of Zulfeccar Khan, and reserving himself to fall upon the victor. While he waited with impatience for the morning, having been dissuaded from attacking the successful army the same night, intelligence of his design was carried to the Ameer ul Omrah, who made preparations to receive him. The victory was not a moment doubtful, for the army of the prince almost immediately dispersed, and he was slain, fighting bravely amid a few attendants.1

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BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1712.Moiz ad Dien was proclaimed Emperor with the title of Jehandar Shah. He possessed not abilities to redeem the weaknesses by which he exposed himself to the disapprobation of his people; and his government and person fell into contempt. He was governed by a concubine, who had belonged to the degraded and impure profession of public dancers, and shed infamy upon the man with whom she was joined. The favours of the crown were showered upon the mean relations, and ancient companions of Lall Koor (such was the name of the mistress), who did not always enjoy them with moderation. The Emperor, who loved the jollity of debauch, exposed himself about the city in company with Lall Koor and her favourites, in situations where dignity was apt to be lost. The nobles were offended, because a new set of favourites intercepted the rays of imperial favour; and the people were disgusted at the sight of vices in their sovereign, which shed degradation on the meanest of themselves.

Jehandar Shah was, from these causes, ill prepared to meet the storm which shortly after he was summoned to face. When Azim Ooshaun marched from Bengal to assist his father in the struggle for the crown, he left behind him his son Feroksere. Upon the defeat of Azim Ooshaun, and the elevation of Jehandar Shah, it became necessary for Feroksere to think either of flight or of resistance. There were two brothers, Abdoolla Khan, and Hussun Khan, of the high birth of Syeds, or descendants of the prophet, who had distinguished themselves in the service of Azim Shah, and, having afterwards attached themselves to Azim Ooshaun, were by him appointed, the one to the government of Allahabad; the other, to that of Bahar. Feroksere succeeded in gaining the support of these brothers, whose talents were powerful, Edition: current; Page: [383] and their reputation high. The counsels of JehandarBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1713. were divided. The powers and services of Zulfeccar Khan were eclipsed by the favour of Kokultash Khan, the foster brother of the Emperor. The talents of Kokultash were unequal to the conduct of any important affair. The abilities of Zulfeccar were restrained, and his ardour cooled, by the success with which Kokultash thwarted his designs. Neither wished to take the command of the army, which, compelling him to quit the Emperor, left the imperial power in the hands of his rival. Time was consumed during these intrigues. In the end, Aiz ad Dien, the eldest son of the Emperor, and with him, for his guide, a relation of the foster brother, a man without talents or experience, proceeded to the reduction of Feroksere. The two armies met at Cudjwa, a town in the district of Corah, where Aurungzebe and Sujah had formerly engaged. But the conductor of Aiz ad Dien fled with him during the night which was expected to precede the battle; upon which the army either dispersed or joined Feroksere. By an advice of Syed Abdoolla, for which it is difficult to account, Feroksere halted for several days, instead of rapidly improving his advantage. Jehandar Shah had now to put life and empire upon the fate of a battle. All that could be assembled of the imperial forces marched towards Agra, with the Emperor himself at their head. Feroksere also arrived on the opposite side of the river, and the two armies faced one another for several days. At last Feroksere unexpectedly crossed the river in the night; and battle was joined the following day. The line of the imperial army was soon broken, and confusion ensued. Zulfeccar Khan, indeed, fought with a gallantry not unworthy of his former renown, and kept the field when he and his followers remained alone. Not despairing to rally Edition: current; Page: [384] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1713.the army, and renew the action on the following day, he dispatched messengers in all directions, but in vain, to search for the Emperor during the night. That unhappy prince had taken the road in disguise toward Delhi, of which Assud Khan, the father of Zulfeccar, was governor. After intelligence of his arrival, the friends of the late Azim Ooshaun surrounded his palace, and demanded the custody of his person. To quiet their clamours, or to lay a foundation of merit with the future sovereign, Assud Khan placed him in confinement; and wrote to Feroksere that he waited for his commands to dispose of the prisoner. So gracious an answer was received, as dissipated the fears of Assud Khan, and enabled him to prevail upon his son, who had arrived at Delhi, to trus himself in the hands of Feroksere. The credulity of Zulfeccar deceived him; for he might have escaped to his government of Deccan, where his talents would have enabled him to set the imperial power at defiance. He was strangled by order of Feroksere, and his dead body was exposed about the streets of Delhi, at the same time with that of his master Jehandar Shah.1

Feroksere began his reign in the year 1713, with the usual performances of an Oriental despot; that is, the murder of all who were the objects of his apprehension. After this the two Syeds, to whom he owed both his life and his throne, were elevated; Hussun to the post of Bukshi, or paymaster of the forces, with the title of Ameer ul Omrah; and Abdoolla to that of Vizir, with the title of Koottub al Edition: current; Page: [385] Mulk, or axis of the state. Cheen Koolich Khan,BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1713. the son of Gazee ad Dien Khan, who was chief of the Tooranee Moguls in the Deccan at the end of the reign of Aurungzebe, was known to have lived on adverse terms with Zulfeccar Khan; and by this circumstance, as well as by the weight which was attached to his reputation for talents, and his connexion with the Tooranee lords, was recommended to the attention of the new government. He was appointed to the regency or subahdarry of Deccan, and decorated with the title of Nizam al Mulk, or composer of the state; a common title, which he rendered remarkable, in the modern history of India, by transmitting it to his posterity, and along with it a kingdom, in that very region which he was now sent, and but for a little time, to superintend.

Ferokscre was a weak prince, governed by favourites. The two Syeds had laid such obligations upon their sovereign, and possessed such power, chiefly from the inconsiderate cruelty of Ferokscre, who had killed Zulfeccar and others by whom they might have been restrained, that they could brook neither rival nor partner in disposing of the state. Their chains soon became heavy on Ferokscre. A ware of his impatience, they made such efforts to render themselves secure against the effects of his malice, as embroiled the state from the very commencement of his reign.

The first of the contrivances of Emir Jumla (this was the name of the favourite, a man who had formerly been cauzy at Dacca,) was to separate the brothers, under the pretence of honourable employment. The Rajah Ajeet Sing, whom we have already mentioned as the successor of Jesswunt Sing, in that district or division of Rajpootana which was known by the name of Marwar or Rhatore, and of which Chitore and Odeypore had been successively the capitals, Edition: current; Page: [386] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1718.had stood out against the operations of Aurungzebe, and remained in a state little short of independence, during the reigns of Shah Aulum and Jehandar Shah. Hussun, the Ameer al Omrah, was required to undertake the reduction of the rebellious Hindu. He marched with so great a force that the Rajah deemed it better to yield than contend; and though he received private encouragements from the court, where he was assured that opposition would be gratefully considered, he concluded an agreement with Hussun, impatient to return to the capital, where his brother’s letters assured him, that designs were ripening for their common destruction.

Though Abdoola, the Vizir, had talents and other eminent qualities; he was so addicted to women and other pleasures, that he neglected business; and let the affairs of his high office devolve into subordinate hands, whose mismanagement shed discredit and unpopularity on himself. His enemies therefore enjoyed advantages, which in the absence of his brother they were eager to improve. Upon the return of Hussun from Marwar, he demanded the regency of Deccan, with a view to govern it by deputy, and remain at court; and he received the appointment, in expectation of his being called to that distant province by the duties of his trust. When it was found, at last, that he had no intention to depart for Deccan, the misunderstanding between the court and the brothers became public and undisguised. They forbore attendance upon the Emperor; assembled their followers, and fortified themselves in their palaces; while the weak and timid Feroksere, who desired, without daring to attempt, their destruction, formed and abandoned twenty resolutions in a day. After a period of anxiety and alarm, a reconciliation was effected by mediation of the empress-mother, who Edition: current; Page: [387] was favourable to the Syeds, and by whom, it is said,BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1719. that intelligence was sometimes conveyed to them of the plots by which their lives were essayed. The agreement was, that Meer Jumla, being appointed to the government of Bahar, should depart for that province, at the same time that the Ameer al Omrah should proceed to Deccan.1

Hussun told the Emperor, that if mischief were aimed at his brother, he would in twenty days be in the capital from Deccan. The first danger, however, regarded himself. Daood Khan Punnee, the Afghaun, who had been left deputy by Zulfeccar, and obtained the province of Guzerat, upon the appointment of Nizam al Mulk to the regency of Deccan, was ordered to Boorahanpore, ostensibly to wait upon the Subahdar of Deccan, and receive his commands; but with secret instructions to assail the Syed and cut him off. Great expectations were entertained of the Afghaun, who, being a man of prodigious bodily strength, great courage, and not devoid of conduct, had risen to the highest repute as a warrior. It is not unworthy of remark, that he had associated with himself a Mahratta chief, named Neemajee Sindia, who had been taken into the imperial service by Shah Aulum, honoured with a high rank, and gifted with several jagheers in the vicinity of Aurungabad. Hussun had a severe conflict to sustain; and had not a Edition: current; Page: [388] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1719.matchlock ball struck Daood, at the moment when the advantage seemed hastening to his side, the day might have been fatal to the fortune of the brothers. When the Emperor heard of the failure of his project, he could not, even in the presence of Abdoolla, suppress his chagrin; and observed that Daood was a brave man unworthily used. Abdoolla replied, that if his brother had fallen, the victim of perfidy, the imperial mind would have experienced more agreeable sensations.

About this time, Banda, the patriarch and captain of the Seiks, fell into the hands of his enemies. He had soon collected his followers, after they were dispersed by Shah Aulum; and spread more widely his depredations and authority in the contiguous provinces. The Subahdar of Lahore had been sent against him, shortly after the accession of Feroksere; but was defeated with great slaughter. The Faujdar, or military and judicial chief of Sirhind, was next commanded to take the field; but was assassinated in his tent, by a Seik, especially commissioned for that purpose. The governor of Cashmere was then removed to the government of Lahore, and appointed to act against the heretics or infidels, with a great army. After many severe engagements, Banda was driven to seek refuge in a fort; where famine at last compelled him to surrender. Great cruelty was exercised upon his followers; and he himself was carried to the capital, where he was ignominiously exposed, and afterwards put to death by torture.

It would be useless and disgusting to describe the scenes to which the hatred of the Emperor and the jealousy of the Vizir gave birth in the capital. When the Ameer al Omrah arrived in Deccan, he found the power of the Mahrattas arrived at a height which was not only oppressive to the provinces but formidable Edition: current; Page: [389] to the imperial throne. Sahoo Rajah, or SahogeeBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1719. the son of Sambagee, had succeeded to the authority of his father and grandfather, as head of the Mahrattas, and had, during the distractions in the Mogul empire, experienced little resistance in extending the sphere of his domination and exactions. Towards the close of the reign of Aurungzebe, the widow of Rama, the brother of Sambagee, who during the minority of Sahogee enjoyed a temporary authority, had offered to put a stop to all the predatory incursions of the Mahrattas under which the imperial provinces in Deccan so cruelly suffered, on condition of receiving a tenth part, which they call Deesmuk-kee, of the revenues of the six provinces which composed the viceroyalty of Deccan. The pride of Aurungzebe revolted at the humiliating condition; and the offer was rejected with scorn. Daood Khan Punnee, however, who governed the country, as deputy of Zulfeccar, during the reigns of Shah Aulum and Jehandar, and who cultivated the friendship rather than the enmity of the Mahrattas, agreed to purchase deliverance from their incursions by the payment of even the chout, or fourth part of the revenues of the Deccanee provinces, reserving only such districts as were held in jagheer by any princes of the blood royal, and excluding the Mahrattas from the collection, which was to be performed by his own officers alone. Upon the arrival of Nizam al Mulk as Viceroy of Deccan, the chout gave rise to dispute and hostilities; in which the Viceroy gained a battle, and might have further checked the pretensions of the freebooters, had he not been recalled, after enjoying the government one year and some months. The Ameer al Omrah sent a force to dislodge a Mahratta chief who had established a chain of mud forts along the road from Surat to Boorahanpore; and by means Edition: current; Page: [390] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1719.of them plundered or levied a tax upon the merchants who trafficked between the two cities. The commander allowed himself to be drawn by the wily Mahratta into a place of difficulty; where he and the greater part of his soldiers lost their lives. A still stronger force was sent to dislodge the plunderer; who declined an action; and was followed by the imperial general as far as Sattara, the residence of Sahogee. But before Sattara was besieged, the Ameer al Omrah, understanding that danger was increasing at Delhi, and that even Sahogee had received encouragement from the Emperor to effect his destruction, resolved, on any terms, to free himself from the difficulties and embarrassment of a Mahratta war. He not only granted the chout, but he added to it the deesmukkee; nay, admitted the Mahratta agents, with a respectable force at Aurungabad, to perform the collection of their own portion of the taxes. The provinces were thus freed from the ravages of military incursion; but the people were oppressed by three sets of exactors, one for the imperial revenue, one for the chout, another for the deesmukkee.

Meanwhile a new favourite had risen at court, recommended to the Emperor by a double tie, a fellowship in disreputable pleasures, and promises to cut off the Syeds without the danger of a contest. By his advice, the most powerful chiefs in the empire were invited to court; Nizam al Mulk, from his government of Morâdabad; Sirbullund Khan, from that of Patna; and the Rajpoot princes, Jeysing of Ambere or Jagenagur; and, the father-in-law of the Emperor, Ajeet Sing of Rhatore. Had these chiefs perceived a prospect of sharing among themselves the grand posts of the empire, they would have undertaken the destruction of the Syeds; but they found the despicable Feroksere so infatuated with his unworthy Edition: current; Page: [391] favourite, that he alone was destined to beBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1719. the organ of power. Ajeet Sing, perceiving the miserable state of the imperial councils, lost no time in uniting himself with the Vizir.

The increasing violence of the councils pursued for the destruction of the Syeds, and the union, which the removal of the favourite would suffice to form against them, of so many powerful chiefs, induced Abdoolla to summon his brother from Deccan, and to meditate a decisive step. No sooner did the Emperor hear that Hussun was in motion, than, struck with apprehension, he solicited reconciliation with the Vizir. They exchanged turbans, and vows of fidelity, which were equally sincere on both sides. A messenger of rank was dispatched towards Hussun, to declare the reinstatement of his family in the plenitude of imperial favour; while Hussun, giving up to the Mahrattas such forts as he could not garrison, proceeded to the capital with an army, of which ten thousand were Mahrattas; attended by a youth, whom he received from Sahogee as a son of Sultan Akbar, and treated with all the respect due to a grandson of Aulumgir, and a competitor for the imperial throne. In the mean time the Vizir had found little difficulty in detaching from the hopeless cause of the Emperor, Nizam al Mulk, and the other chiefs of the intended conspiracy. Jeysing alone adhered to Feroksere, advising him to take the field in person, and, by the weight of the imperial name, bear down the cause of rebels and traitors. The pride and the resentments of Feroksere made him incline to violent measures during one moment; his fears and pusillanimity made him incline to submissive measures the next. After an interval, during which these passions violently alternated in his breast, he threw himself upon the mercy of the Syeds, and submitted to all their demands. Edition: current; Page: [392] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1720.It is not certain that they meant to depose him; but during these violent proceedings, tumults arose in the city; Feroksere shut himself up in the women’s apartments, and refused to come out; his friends and servants took arms; the commotions became alarming, and a moment might be productive of fatal events. After repeated entreaties, the Vizir was at last compelled to violate the sanctity of the secret apartments; Feroksere was dragged forth, and put in confinement; Ruffeh al Dirjaut, son of Ruffeh al Kudder, a grandson of Aurungzebe by a daughter of Akbar, was taken from among the confined princes, and seated on the throne; his accession was announced by the sound of the nobut, and firing of cannon; and, in a few hours, the commotions, which seemed ready to overwhelm the city, gave place to tranquillity and order.

Feroksere was rather more than six years on the throne. His successor was labouring under a consumption, and died in five months after his exaltation. During this interval, Feroksere suffered a violent death, but whether at his own hand, or that of the brothers, is variously affirmed. Except in the palace, the offices of which were filled entirely with the creatures of the Syeds, the different functionaries of the state were confirmed in their situations. Nizam al Mulk, who liked not the complexion of the times, desired leave to retire; but he was prevailed upon to accept the government of Malwa.

Ruffeh al Dowlah, the younger brother of Ruffeh al Dirjaut, was chosen to supply the vacancy of the throne. But the Governor of the citadel of Agra had under his charge a son of Akbar, the youngest son of Aulumgîr; and, in hopes of being joined by other lords, inimical to the Syeds, as well as by Jeysing, who, through influence of the brothers, had been dismissed Edition: current; Page: [393] to his own country before the dethronement ofBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1720. Feroksere, proclaimed the son of Akbar, King. The Syeds left no time for the disaffected to combine; and the Governor, finding his undertaking desperate, put an end to his life. The sickly youth, who this time also was placed upon the throne, followed his predecessor in three months. Rooshun Akter, a son of Kojesteh Akter, the youngest son of Shah Aulum, was the Prince who now was taken to fill the dangerous throne.

Mahomed Shah (that was the name which the new sovereign adopted) began his reign in the year 1720. He was in his seventeenth year; had been confined along with his mother, a woman of judgment and prudence, from the beginning of the reign of Jehandar Shah, and reared by her in great silence and obscurity.

The Syeds were now deprived of all grounds of jealousy and resentment towards the throne; for the Empress-mother advised, and the Emperor practised the most perfect submission to their will. But among the great lords of the empire were some, who beheld not their triumphs and power, without envy and hatred. The Governor of Allahabad had been guilty of some marks of disrespect. Shortly after the accession of Mahomed, Hussun marched to chastise him. The Governor died while Hussun was yet upon the march; and his nephew, though he stood upon the defensive, offered to lay down his arms, provided Rajah Ruttun Chund, the famous Duan of the Vizir, were sent to negociate the terms of his submission. The difficulty of besieging Allahabad, strongly defended by the Jamna and the Ganges, which meet under its walls, allayed in the bosom of Hussun, the thirst of revenge. He listened to the proposition of the nephew, and gave him the government Edition: current; Page: [394] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1720.of Oude, in exchange for that which his uncle had enjoyed.

Mahomed Ameed Khan, one of the Tooranee Omrah, remaining at court, began to excite the suspicions of the Syeds; but Nizam al Mulk soon became the principal object of their attention and fears. Upon taking possession of his government of Malwa, he found the province, owing to the late distractions of the empire, overrun with disorder; the Zemindars aiming at independence, and the people either become robbers themselves, or suffering from bands of robbers, who plundered the country with impunity. The vigorous operations demanded for the suppression of these enormities, justified the Nizam in raising and maintaining troops; in providing his garrisons; in adopting all the measures, in short, which were best calculated to strengthen his position. The Syeds were not slow in discerning that these preparations looked beyond the defence of a province. Policy required the removal of the Nizâm. The most respectful intimations were conveyed to him, that as Malwa lay half way between Deccan and the capital, it was pointed out as peculiarly convenient to form the place of residence for the Ameer al Omrah, who, from that station, could both superintend his viceroyalty in Deccan, and watch the operations of the court; and four Subahs were pointed out to Nizam al Mulk; Multan, Candesh, Agra, and Allahabad; of which he was invited to make his election in exchange. Policy might counsel the non-compliance of the Nizam; but pride and vanity counselled an insolent reply, which precipitated hostilities on both sides. The brothers sent an army against Malwa. The Nizam resolved to take possession of Deccan. He crossed the Nerbudda: got, through bribery, possession of the strong Edition: current; Page: [395] fortress of Asere, and the city of Boorahanpore; wasBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1720. joined by Eiwuz Khan, Subahdar of Berar, his relation; by a Mahratta chief, who had quarrelled with Sahogee; and, by a variety of Zemindars. He encountered and defeated the army which the brothers had sent to oppose him; conquered, and slew in battle the governor of Aurungabad, who marched out to meet him; and remained without a rival in Deccan. The Governor of Dowlatabad held out; but the Governor of Hyderabad joined him with 7000 horse. In addition to all these fortunate events, he was encouraged by messages from the court, from Mahomed Ameen Khan, and from the Emperor himself, that his opposition to the Syeds should meet with their support.

The brothers wavered; and permitted time to be lost. Ruttun Chund recommended, what was probably wise, to gain Nizam al Mulk by resigning to him Deccan; and, with vigilance, to guard the rest of the empire. Pride rejected this proposal. It was at last determined, that Hussun, accompanied by the Emperor, should proceed with a great army to Deccan, while Abdoola should remain to guard the capital. The troops were assembled; the march began; and had continued during four or five days, when Mahomed Ameen Khan conceived his plan to be ripe for execution. He had associated with himself Saadut Khan, afterwards Nabob of Oude, progenitor of the now reigning family; and another desperado, named Hyder Khan, in a conspiracy, with the privity of the Emperor, to assassinate the Ameer al Omrah. The lot fell upon Hyder to strike the blow. Hussun, who received a mortal stab, had strength to cry, “Kill the Emperor!” but the conspirators had taken measures for his protection; and, though the nephew of the deceased armed his followers, Edition: current; Page: [396] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1720-32.and endeavoured to penetrate to the Emperor, he was overpowered and slain, while his tents were plundered by the followers of the camp.

The dismal news was speedily conveyed to Abdoolla, who was on his march to Delhi. He advanced to that city; took one of the remaining princes, and proclaimed him Emperor; found still the means to assemble a large army, and marched out to oppose Mahomed. A great battle was fought at Shahpore; but the Vizir was vanquished and taken prisoner. The Emperor, after little more than a year of tutelage, entered his capital in great pomp and ceremony, and was hailed as if it had been his accession to the throne.

The weakness of Mahomed Shah’s administration, whose time was devoted to pleasure, and his mind without discernment and force, was soon felt in the provinces. The Rajah, Ajeet Sing, with a view to bind him to the cause of Mahomed, had, through the hands of the Empress-mother, at the time of the accession, received a firmaun appointing him Governor of Guzerat and Adjmere during life. The grant was now revoked, and Ajeet Sing rebelled. After some vain demonstrations of resentment, the Emperor was obliged to submit to concessions and indulgence.

The Afghauns about Peshawir rose in arms; and, after an obstinate engagement, defeated and took prisoner the son of the Governor of the province.

These, and other disorders, were expected to be redressed upon the arrival of Nizam al Mulk, who was invited from Deccan to receive the office of Vizir. He earnestly exhorted the Emperor to apply his own mind to affairs, and to infuse vigour into government, now relaxed and dissolving, through negligence and corruption. But the pleasantries of his gay companions, who turned the person and the counsels of Edition: current; Page: [397] the old and rigid Vizir into ridicule, were moreBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1732. agreeable to the enervated mind of Mahomed; and the Nizam, in disgust, under pretence of coercing a refractory Governor in Guzerat, withdrew from the capital. Saadut Khan was about the same time appointed Subahdar of Oude.

The Nizam, having reduced to his obedience the province of Guzerat, and taken possession of Malwa, which was also added to his extensive government, paid another visit to the capital, where he found the temper of administration as negligent and dissolute as before. Despairing, or careless of a remedy, and boding nothing but evil, he only thought of securing himself in his extensive dominions; and, under pretence of a hunting excursion, left the capital without leave, and pursued his march to Deccan. The Emperor, who now both hated and feared him, dispatched a private message to the Governor of Hyderabad to oppose and cut him off, with a promise of all his government of Deccan, as the reward of so meritorious a service. The bribe was too great to be resisted; but the undertaker paid the forfeit of his temerity with his life. The Nizam, however, was deprived of his Vizirit, and of his new governments of Malwa and Guzerat. To be revenged he encouraged his deputy in Guzerat to resist the imperial commands; and the Mahratta chiefs Peelajee and Coantojee to invade the provinces. Some inadequate and unavailing efforts were made to oppose the progress of these Mahratta chiefs; who were afterwards joined, still at the instigation, it is said, of the old Nizam, by Bajeeraow, the general of Sahogee. The struggle was upheld, with more or less of vigour, by the imperial deputies, till about the year 1732; when the provinces of Guzerat and Malwa might be regarded as completely reduced Edition: current; Page: [398] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1735.under Mahratta dominion. Never contented with present acquisitions, the Mahrattas made endless encroachments; and, by degrees, seized upon several districts in the Subahs of Agra and Allahabad, plundering even to the vicinity of Agra. When opposed by an army, they retreated; scoured the country; cut off supplies; and made flying attacks. When the opposing army was obliged to retrace its steps, they immediately re-seized the country; and still more extensively diffused their depredations.

During the calamities of the empire, Saadut Khan alone, among the different Omrahs and Governors, exhibited any public spirit, or any manliness and vigour. Though his province, placed beyond the Ganga, was little exposed to the devastations of the destructive Mahrattas, he marched out, in 1735, to chastise a body of them, who were plundering to the very walls of Agra; overtook them by forced marches, brought on a battle, and gave them a signal overthrow. The wreck of the army joined Bajeeraow, in the neighbourhood of Gualior. Saadut Khan intended to follow up his blow, to pursue the marauders to their own country, and redeem the lost honour of the imperial arms. But the Ameer al Omra, jealous of the glory, sent him orders to halt, till he should join him with the troops of the capital. Bajeeraow, having time to restore animation to the Mahrattas, and learning the removal of the troops from Delhi, marched with Mahratta speed towards that capital, and communicated the first intelligence of his stratagem by the fires which he lighted up in the suburbs. He was in possession of the outskirts of the city for three days before the approach of the imperial army made it necessary for him to decamp. He took the road to Malwa; and the pusillanimous monarch was advised Edition: current; Page: [399] by his dissolute courtiers to purchase the promiseBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1735. of peace by paying the chout, or fourth, of his revenues to the Mahrattas.

A more dreadful enemy was now about to fall upon the misgoverned empire. The Sophis, whom in the reign of Shah Jehan we left sitting upon the throne of Persia, had sunk into that voluptuousness and neglect of the business of government, which so uniformly accompany the continued possession of power; relax the springs of the existing government; and prepare the way for an usurper. In this state of the country, the range of mountains placed near the confines of Persia and India, which had already given a race of sovereigns to Hindustan, produced a chief, who with his rude and hardy countrymen, the mountaineers of Afghaunistan, invaded Persia, and pushed his conquests against the feeble Hussun Shah; whose government was, moreover, distracted, by the wretched factions of the black eunuchs, and the white. Though the Afghaun was assassinated, he was succeeded by a nephew, an enterprising youth of eighteen years of age. The provinces near the Caucasus and the Caspian, as well as those near the Indus, revolted. The Afghaun in 1722 laid siege to Ispahan itself, and the wretched Hussun laid his crown at his feet. In the mean time a son of Hussun, whose name was Thamas, escaped from massacre, and was joined by as many people as still adhered to his family or person, in the neighbourhood of Tauris; among others by Nadir, the son of a shepherd of Chorasan, who, by the sale of part of his father’s flocks, had hired a banditti, with whom he scoured and plundered the country. By his daring courage, and indefatigable activity, he soon distinguished himself among the followers of the fugitive Prince. He took the name of Thamas Koolee Khan, or Khan the slave of Thamas. Edition: current; Page: [400] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1736.Such a man found it easy in Persia to increase the number of his followers, whom he subsisted and rewarded by the plunder of the country. In a short time he was daring enough to measure swords with the Afghaun himself, and prevailed. In 1729 he retook Ispahan, pursued the usurper to Afghaunistan itself, vanquished and took him prisoner. Thamas, whom he acknowledged as king of Persia, he retained in confinement, and, governing in his name, turned his arms against the Turks, who had made encroachments on the western provinces of Persia during the declining vigour of the Sophis. Having conducted this war with success, he felt his power sufficient to pull off the mask. He proclaimed himself King, by the title of Nadir Shah, in the year 1736; and put out the eyes of the unfortunate Thamas.

The restless and enterprising Afghauns, who regretted the loss of Persia, still kept up disturbance on its eastern frontier; and they provoked the proud and furious Nadir to undertake a war of little less than extermination. Not satisfied with driving them from all the accessible parts of their own country, he made his way into Candahar, which had for some generations been detatched from the Mogul empire, and annexed to that of Persia. Cabul, which already contained a great mixture of Afghauns, was now crowded with that people, flying from the cruelties of the foe. Nadir was not soon tired in the pursuit of his prey. He had reason to be dissatisfied with the government of Hindustan, to which he had sent repeated embassies; received with something more than neglect. In the general negligence and corruption which pervaded the whole business of government, the passes from Persia into Cabul were left unguarded. The Persian protested that he meant neither hostility nor disrespect to his brother of Hindustan; and that, Edition: current; Page: [401] if not molested, he would chastise the accursedBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1739. Afghauns, and retire. The opposition he experienced was, indeed, so feeble, as hardly to excite the resenment of Nadir; and, after slaughtering the Afghauns in Cabul, he was ready to withdraw; when a circumstance occurred, which kindled his rage. A messenger and his escort, whom he had dispatched from Cabul to the Emperor at Delhi, were murdered at Jellalabad by the inhabitants; and, instead of yielding satisfaction for the injury, the silken courtiers of Mahomed counselled approbation; and ridiculed the supposition of danger from the shepherd and freebooter of Chorasan.

That furious warrior hastened to the offending city, and slaughtered the inhabitants without mercy. From this he pursued his route to Peshawir, and thence to Lahore: at both of which places he experienced but little opposition. He then turned his face directly to the capital, where Mahomed and his counsellors, wrapped in a fatal security, were not prepared to believe that the Persian usurper would dare to march against the Majesty of Hindustan. The Hindustanee army, which had been two months in the field, had only advanced to Carnal, four days march from Delhi, where it was surprised by the appearance of the enemy, while Mahomed and his friends were yet ignorant of his approach. The hardy and experienced valour of Nadir’s bands quickly spread confusion among the ill conducted crowds of Mahomed. The Ameer al Omrah was mortally wounded, and died after leaving the field of battle. Saadut Khan fought till he was deserted by his followers, and taken prisoner. Nadir, who had no project upon Hindustan, left the disordered camp the next day without an attack; and readily listened to the peaceful counsels of his prisoner Saadut Khan, who hoped, if now set Edition: current; Page: [402] BOOK III. Chap. 4., to obtain the vacant office of Ameer ul Omrah. Mahomed honoured the Shah with a visit in his camp, and the Shah consented to evacuate Hindustan, upon receipt of two crores of rupees. The insatiable avidity, however, of Nizam al Mulk fatally defeated this happy agreement. He demanded, and was too powerful to be refused, the office of Ameer al Omrah. The disappointed and unprincipled Saadut hastened to inform Nadir, that two crores of rupees were no adequate ransom for the empire of Hindostan; that he himself, who was but an individual, would yield as great a sum; that Nizam al Mulk, who alone had power to offer any formidable resistance, ought to be secured; and that Nadir might then make the wealth of the capital and empire his own. A new and dazzling prospect was spread before the eyes of the ravager. Mahomed Shah, and Nizam al Mulk were recalled to the Persian camp; when Nadir marched to Delhi, the gates of which were opened to receive him. For two days had the Persians been in Delhi, and as yet observed the strictest discipline and order. But on the night of the second, an unfortunate rumour was spread that Nadir Shah was killed; upon which the wretched inhabitants rose in tumult; ran to massacre the Persians; and filled the city throughout the night with confusion and bloodshed. With the first light of the morning, Nadir issued forth; and dispersing bands of soldiers in every direction, ordered them to slaughter the inhabitants without regard to age or sex in every street or avenue where the body of a murdered Persian should be found. From sun rise to mid day the sabre raged; and by that time not less than 8000 Hindus, Moguls, or Afghauns, were numbered with the dead. During the massacre and pillage, the city was set on fire in several places. The destroyer at last allowed himself Edition: current; Page: [403] to be persuaded to stay the ruin; the signal wasBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1739. given, and in an instant, such was the authority of Nadir, every sword was sheathed.

A few days after the massacre, a nobleman was dispatched by Nadir, to bring from Oude the two crores of rupees, promised by its governor Saadut Khan; who, in the short interval, had died of a cancer in his back. On the same day he commenced his seizure of the imperial treasure and effects; three crores and fifty lacks in specie;1 a crore and fifty lacks in plate;2 fifteen crores in jewels;3 the celebrated peacock throne, valued at a crore;4 other valuables to the amount of eleven crores;5 besides elephants, horses, and the camp equipage of the Emperor. The bankers, and rich individuals were ordered to give up their wealth, and tortured to make discovery of what they were suspected to have concealed. A heavy contribution was demanded of the city, and exacted with cruel severity; many laid violent hands upon themselves to escape the horrid treatment to which they beheld others exposed. Famine pervaded the city; and pestilential diseases ensued. Seldom has a more dreadful calamity fallen upon any portion of the human race, than that in which the visit of Nadir Shah involved the capital of Hindustan. Yet a native and cotemporary historian informs us, such is the facility with which men accommodate themselves to their lot, “that the inhabitants of Delhi, at least the debauched who were by far the most numerous part, regretted the departure Edition: current; Page: [404] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1739.of the Persians; and to this day (says he), the excesses of their soldiery are topics of humour in the looser conversation of all ranks, and form the comic parts of the drolls or players. The people of Hindustan at this time regarded only personal safety and personal gratification. Misery was disregarded by those who escaped it, and man, centred wholly in himself, felt not for his kind. This selfishness, destructive of public and private virtue, was universal in Hindustan at the invasion of Nadir Shah; nor have the people become more virtuous since, consequently not more happy, nor more independent.”1

Nadir having ordered, as the terms of peace, that all the provinces on the west side of the Indus, Cabul, Tatta, and part of Multan, should be detached from the dominions of the Mogul, and added to his own, restored Mahomed to the exercise of his degraded sovereignty; and, bestowing upon him and his courtiers some good advice, began on the 14th of April, 1739, his march from Delhi, of which he had been in possession for thirty-seven days.2

In regulating the offices of state, Mahomed was obliged to confirm the vizarut, which he intended for Edition: current; Page: [405] other hands, to Kummir ad dien Khan, the relationBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1739. and partisan of Nizam al Mulk. At the request of that domineering chief, the office of Ameer al Omrah was transferred to Ghazee ad dien Khan, his eldestson, while he himself was in haste to depart for Deccan, where Nazir Jung, his second son, whom he had left his deputy, was already aspiring at independence. After several months spent without avail in messages and negotiations, the father was obliged to draw his sword against the son. A victory, gained in the neighbourhood of Ahmednuggur, restored his government to the Nizam, and made Nazir Jung his prisoner. To compose the provinces subject to his command, which had been governed so irregularly and feebly for many years, and were over-run by innumerable disorders, required both vigour and time. The war which he carried on in Carnatic was the most remarkable of his subsequent transactions. Its result is the only circumstance material to us. Nearly the whole of that great province was reduced to his obedience.1

Saadut Khan Boorahan al Mulk, the deceased governor of Oude, was succeeded by his son in law, Abul Mansoor Khan Suffder Jung; who subsequently received the dignity of grand master of the household. A new governor was appointed for Guzerat, and an effort was made, but without success, to ravage that important province from the Mahrattas.

A refractory chief called the Emperor into the field, in the year 1745. This was Ali Mahomed Khan, the founder of the power of the Rohillas, a name of some celebrity in the modern history of Hindustan. The Afghauns, inhabiting the district of Roh, bordering on Cabul, were known by the name of Rohillas.1 Edition: current; Page: [406] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1745.Ali Mahomed himself is said to have been of Hindu extraction; the son of a man of the caste of cow-keepers. He was adopted, however, and reared by an Afghaun of the Rohilla clan; a man of a rank no higher than his own. He entered into the army as a common soldier; and after a time acquired the command of a small body of Afghaun cavalry, with which he served in the army of the Vizir, governor of Moradabad. His conduct gained him distinction; he was recommended to promotion by the Vizir; received some lands in grant from the Emperor; and was appointed to manage certain districts in Moradabad by the Vizir. Under the negligent government of Mahomed, and the disorders which ensued upon the invasion of Nadir Shah, scope was afforded to the ambition of such a man as Ali Mahomed, the Rohilla. He acquired possession of the lands of some neighbouring jagheer holders, under pretence of taking them in lease: He increased the number of Afghauns in his pay; many of whom the severities of Nadir Shah had driven to look for a home beyond the reach of his destructive sword, and to seek employment and protection under Ali Mahomed their countryman. The supposition of power produced its usual consequence. The remittances from his government were delayed and evaded. The Vizir sent a new governor with an army to enforce obedience. Him the Rohilla conquered and slew: and the Vizir, who hated every thing which disturbed his pleasures and ease, thought it better to make an accommodation with Ali than contend with him. He was confirmed in the government of certain districts; and by one acquisition after another, extended the limits of his authority, till they comprehended Moradabad, Bareilly, Aunlah, Sambal, Edition: current; Page: [407] Bangur, Budaoon, and Amroah, districts of Kutteer,BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1747. a province henceforward known by the name of Rohilcund, from the Afghaun clan, to whom, more particularly, Ali and his followers were regarded as belonging. The progress of this adventurer alarmed at last the Viceroy of Oude; whose representations of danger prevailed upon the Emperor to take the field in person. The Rohilla was unable to resist the imperial army; but was underhand supported by the Vizir, in opposition to the Viceroy of Oude. He was besieged in one of his fortresses; but receiving the promise of the Vizir to make his peace with the Emperor, he sent away his treasures to a place of safety, and surrendered. As a compensation for the territory which he had governed, he received the fojdary, or military and judicial authority of Serhind, a district in the upper part of the province of Delhi.1

In the second year after this imperial expedition, happened the invasion of Ahmed Abdallee, a man destined to be the founder of a formidable empire in the contiguous provinces of Persia and Hindustan. He was an Afghaun chief of the tribe of Abdal, inhabiting a district of the mountains of Gaur, near the city of Herat. When yet very young he was taken prisoner by Nadir Shah, and was for some time one of the slaves of the presence; till, attracting the notice of his master, he was raised to the office of Yessawal, or mace-bearer. He was by degrees promoted to a considerable rank in the army, and accompanied Nadir in his invasion of India. Nadir Shah was massacred in his tent, not far from Meshed, on the 8th of June, 1747. Ahmed Abdallee had acquired so Edition: current; Page: [408] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1747.great an ascendency among the troops, that upon this event several commanders and their followers joined his standard; and he drew off toward his own country. He fell in with and seized a convoy of treasure, which was proceeding to the camp. This enabled him to engage in his pay a still larger body of his countrymen. He proclaimed himself king of the Afghauns; and took the title of Doordowran, or pearl of the age, which being corrupted into Dooranee, gave one of their names to himself and his Abdallees.1 He marched towards Candahar, which submitted to his arms; and next proceeded to Cabul. The inhabitants had resisted the proposal of the governor to purchase tranquillity by the payment of a contribution, but they deserted him on the approach of danger; and this province also fell into the hands of the Afghaun. The governor of Lahore sent him a proposal, offering to betray his trust, and become the servant of Ahmed, on condition of being appointed his Vizir; and though be repented of his engagement and came to blows, his troops made a feeble resistance; and Lahore was added to the dominions of the conqueror. He now directed his ambitious thoughts to the capital of Hindustan, with the feeble government of which he was not unacquainted. A large army, under the Emperor’s eldest son, the Vizir, and other distinguished chiefs, advanced as far as the Sutledge to repel him; but he passed them artfully, and plundered the rich city of Serhind, where the heavy baggage of the prince was deposited. The imperialists made haste to overtake him: and, after several days of skirmishing, the Vizir was killed with a cannon ball in his tent. The brittle materials of an Indian army were nearly broken asunder by this Edition: current; Page: [409] event; the Rajpoots, under their princes, “stretched,”BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1747. says the historian, “the feet of trepidation on the boundless plain of despondency, and marched back to their homes.” However, the remaining chiefs, and among the rest the sons of the late Vizir, exerted themselves with constancy and judgment; and on the following day a still more disastrous accident took place in the camp of the Abdallees. A magazine of rockets and ammunition which had been taken at Serhind accidentally exploded, and killing a great number of people shed through the army confusion and dismay. Ahmed, no longer willing to risk an engagement, drew off his troops, and marched back unmolested to Cabul1.

The Emperor, who only survived a sufficient time to receive intelligence of this joyful event, expired in the thirtieth year of his reign, and forty-ninth of his age; his constitution exhausted by the use of opium.2

Ahmed Shah, his eldest son, succeeded him without opposition. The great character and power of Nizam al Mulk removed all competition for the vizirit, but he excused himself on account of his years, and actually died, about a month afterwards, in the hundred and fourth year of his age, leaving his Edition: current; Page: [410] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1749-50.government of Deccan to be seized by his second son Nazir Jung, whose good fortune it was to be present on the spot. After the refusal of the Nizam, the vizirit was bestowed upon Suffder Jung, the Viceroy of Oude, for whom it was originally intended.

The Rohillas and Abdallee Afghauns gave occasion to the most remarkable transactions of the reign of Ahmed Shah. Ali Mahomed, though removed from Rohilcund to Sirhind, found means to return, upon the invasion of the Abdallees, and being joined by the Afghauns, great numbers of whom had still remained in the country, he regained possession, and expelled the imperial governor, much about the time of the death of Mohamed Shah. He enjoyed not his prosperity long; but, dying of a cancer in his back, left discord and contention in his family. This circumstance encouraged the governor of Oude, who was now Vizir, and commanded the remaining resources of the state, to form the design of relieving himself from the dread of an aspiring neighbour, and of increasing his power and dominion by the country which that neighbour possessed. The district of Furruckabad was governed by an Afghaun of the Bungush tribe. This man the Vizir endeavoured to make his instrument in the destruction of the Rohillas. But the Bungush chieftain lost his life in the contest. The Vizir was not less greedy of the country of his Bungush friend, than he was of that of his Rohilla antagonist. The family of the Bungush chieftain, perceiving the designs of the Vizir, formed a confederacy with the neighbouring Afghauns. The Vizir was defeated in a great battle; after which the Afghauns proceeded in two bodies, one to Allahabad, where they plundered the city and besieged the citadel; the other to Lucknow, which Edition: current; Page: [411] they expected to surprise. The Vizir, now tremblingBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1749-50. for his own possessions, could think of nothing better than the wretched resource of calling in the Mahrattas to his aid. They fell upon the country with their usual rapidity; took the Afghauns in a great measure by surprise; and compelled them after much slaughter to take shelter in the neighbouring hills. This done, the Mahrattas had no inclination to depart. They took up their quarters during the rainy season in the country which they had cleared; and the Vizir was fain to assign them a large portion of it in the name of a reward for their service. The Afghauns, as a welcome counterpoise, were allowed to re-occupy the remainder. These events occurred before the end of the year 1750.

In 1749, Ahmed Abdallee marched from Cabul, and advanced as far as Lahore. Meer Munnoo, the eldest son of the late Vizir, had been appointed Governor of Multan, and of as much of the other provinces of Upper India, as could be recovered from the Persians or Afghauns. Being unprepared for adequate resistance, he offered to purchase the retreat of the Dooranee by assigning to him the revenues of four districts; with which Ahmed, for the present, thought proper to content himself.1 In two years he repeated his visit; when Meer Munnoo, after some months of vigorous resistance, was betrayed by one of his generals, and defeated. The Dooranee Shah was not incapable of generosity; he soothed the vanquished leader by obliging expressions, and appointed him his deputy in the two provinces of Multan and Lahore, which were now finally severed from the dominion of the Moguls. A messenger was sent to Edition: current; Page: [412] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1752.Delhi to demand even a formal cession of the conquered territory; and, though Suffder Jung was summoned from his government, with a view to resist the Afghauns, the favourite eunuch, jealous of the honour which he might acquire by recovering those important provinces, persuaded the emperor to ratify the cession before he arrived. About the same time an expedition was undertaken against one of the nations of Rajpoots, who had seized, with a disputable title, upon certain districts in Ajmere. The war was ill conducted, and ended in disgrace.

A youth now appeared on the stage, who was destined to play a conspicuous part in the closing scenes of the Mogul sovereignty. This was the only son of Ghazee ad Dien Khan, the eldest son of Nizam al Mulk. Upon the death of Nazir Jung in Deccan, Gazee ad Dien, his elder brother, solicited the Viceroyalty of that important country for himself; and taking with him the Mahratta army, which had been in the pay of the Vizir, marched unmolested to Aurungabad. At this place he died only a few days after his arrival. His army immediately dispersed; and the Mahratta general took possession of Candesh, the government of which the deceased Viceroy had been obliged to assign him in security for the pay of his troops. His son Shaab ad Dien, whom he had left in the capital, made so good a use of his interest, chiefly with the Vizir Suffder Jung, that he received his father’s titles of Ghazee ad Dien Khan Bahadur, and was raised to his office of Ameer al Omrah. This did not prevent him from joining immediately the party of the Emperor, and from seconding, with all his power, the machinations intended for the destruction of the Vizir. The military command of the palace was artfully taken out of the hands of that officer; and he and his dependants were refused Edition: current; Page: [413] admittance. The Vizir was alarmed at the prospectBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1752. of a war with his master. He therefore solicited permission to retire to his government beyond the Jumna. This was refused. He marched out of the city and encamped at a few miles distance; with an intention of proceeding to his government without leave, but without drawing the sword, unless in self defence. Learning that an attack was certainly intended, he invited to his assistance the Jaat Raja Soorâje Mul. This chief had already fought in his service, and readily joined his old friend and commander.1 The Vizir set up a new Emperor, a youth whom he represented as one of the royal princes; and laid siege to the castle. It was vigorously defended by the spirit and bravery of the young Ameer al Omrah; and, after a fruitless contest of six months, both parties were glad to negotiate. Suffder Jung gave up his pretended Prince, and was allowed to Edition: current; Page: [414] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1753.retire to his government, but was deprived of the Vizirit, which was bestowed upon Intizam ad Dowlah, son of the late Vizir Kummir ad Dien Khan.

The Jaat Rajah, Sooraje Mul, had given sufficient umbrage by his support of the rebellious Vizir; but, during the weakness of the Mogul government, the Jaats had also extended their encroachments over a great part of the province of Agra. The youthful ardour of Ghazee ad Dien suggested to him an expedition for the entire reduction of the Jaat country. He called to his assistance a Mahratta general, Holkar Mulhar; and the Jaats, unable to keep the field, retired to their strong holds. To reduce them speedily, heavy cannon was required. For this Gazee ad Dien applied to the Emperor. But the aspiring temper of the Ameer al Omrah was already formidable to both the Emperor and Intizam ad Dowlah. Sooraje Mul, aware of their sentiments, conveyed intimation to the Emperor, that if he would meet him at Secundra, he would join him with all his forces, and deliver him at once from the dangers which, from the ambition of his Ameer al Omrah, impended over his person and throne. The scheme was relished; and the Emperor, under pretence of a hunting party, set forward with as great a force as possible on the road to Secundra. He had advanced as far as that city, when Holkar Mulhar surprised his camp in the night. The Emperor, the Vizir, and other leading officers, fled, disguised as women; leaving even their wives and daughters behind them. Upon this the army disbanded, and Gazee ad Dien marched to the capital, where nothing remained to oppose him. He invested himself with the office of Vizir; seized the Emperor and his mother; blinded them both; and bringing forth Yezzez ad Dien, son of the late Jehander Shah, proclaimed him Emperor, Edition: current; Page: [415] by the title of Aulumgeer the Second. This revolutionBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1753. occurred in the year 1753.1

During the same year died Suffder Jung, Subahder of Oude; and was succeeded by Sujah ad Dowlah, his son. About the same time died also Meer Munnoo, Viceroy, under the Abdalee King, of the provinces of Multan and Lahore. By the severe exactions of the government, and the interruptions of agiculture through the ravages and terror of war, these provinces had for some time been severely afflicted with scarcity. Of this, one important consequence was, an accession to the numbers and power of the Seiks; for that people making it a rule to provide maintenance and occupation for one another, great numbers of persons in distress were tempted to join them; and all were readily received upon adopting the garb and principles of the sect.2 The Abdallee Shah withdrew not the government of Multan and Lahore from the family of Meer Munnoo. His son was a minor; but, in quality of guardian of the minor, his mother was allowed to act in his stead. Under this arrangement, the disorder of the provinces increased. The weakness of the administration suggested to the Vizir, who now had changed his title from that of Gazee ad Dien Khan to that of Umad al Mulk, the project of wresting the provinces at once from the hands of this female superintendant, and from the dominion of the Afghauns. During the life of Meer Munnoo, the daughter of the Governess had been promised in marriage to Gazee ad Dien Khan, who now claimed fulfilment of the contract. The mother, to whom few events could yield greater pleasure, conveyed to him his bride, with all the magnificence Edition: current; Page: [416] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1754.which the importance of the nuptials appeared to require. Under the confidence and security which this alliance inspired, the Vizir detached a body of troops to Lahore, who seized, and conveyed to his camp, the deluded Governess, inveighing against his perfidy, and denouncing the vengeance which Ahmed Shah, her sovereign, would speedily exact.

The fulfilment of her angry predictions was not long deferred. The exasperated Afghaun hasted from Candahar to Lahore, which was evacuated on his approach; and thence directed his march to Delhi. The Vizir, sensible of his inability to contend with the storm, eagerly solicited reconciliation with his mother-in-law, and employed her as a mediator with the Shah. The invader rejected not the prayer, but demanded a large contribution as the price of his clemency; and, in the mean time, continued his march to Delhi. The wretched Aulumgeer having no means of resistance, opened to him the gates of the capital; and affected to receive him as a royal guest. For some weeks, Delhi was subject to all the enormities which are practised by a barbarian soldiery, on a prostrate foe. To gratify more fully the rapacity of the invader, Umad al Mulk offered to go in person to raise contributions in the Dooab, or country between the Jumna and Ganges; while the Dooranee Shah was to march against the country of the Jaat Rajah Sooraje Mul. He had reduced some fortresses, and was employed in besieging the citadel of Agra, when a plague broke out in his camp. Upon this he formed the resolution of returning immediately to his own country, without even waiting for the return of the Vizir. An interview, as he passed Delhi, again took place between him and Aulumgeer. The fallen Mogul entreated the invader of his country not to leave him in the hands of his overbearing Vizir. Edition: current; Page: [417] Nujeeb ad Dowlah, a chief of Rohillas, who hadBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1756. lately acted a conspicuous part in the imperial service, was, at the request of the Emperor, appointed Ameer al Omrah; and to him the Dooranee recommended the protection of his master.

The Vizir, upon the retreat of the Abdalees, engaged in his party Ahmed Khan, the Bungush chief of Furrukhabad, whose father had lost his life in the contest with the Rohillas. To him and his Afghauns he joined an army of Mahrattas, under Ragonaut Raow and Holkar. With this force he marched to Delhi. The Emperor and Nujeeb ad Dowlah shut the gates of the city; but after a siege of forty-five days, the Emperor was obliged to submit; while Nujeeb ad Dowlah, by bribing the Mahrattas, obtained the means of escaping to his own district in Rohilcund; and his office of Ameer al Omrah was bestowed upon Ahmed Khan. Alee Gohur, the eldest son of Aulumgeer, was in the vicinity of Delhi, supporting himself with a small body of cavalry on some districts which he had in Jaghire. The Vizir made his father recall him; and the Prince repaired to Delhi, but refused to enter the citadel where he might easily be confined. He was, accordingly, besieged in his palace; but a few of his followers cut a passage for him through the troops of the Vizir, and he made his escape to Nujeeb ad Dowlah, with whom, and with the Subahdar of Oude, he remained for some months; and then betook himself for an asylum to the English in Bengal.

The settlement which, with short-sighted policy, the viceroy of Oude had given to a body of Mahrattas in part of Rohilcund, had fired other Mahrattas with a passion for the fertile country beyond the Ganges. Of this passion, in labouring the ruin of Nujeeb Edition: current; Page: [418] BOOK III. Chap. 4. Dowlah, and of the Nabob of Oude,1 whose power he dreaded and whose government he desired, Umad al Mulk resolved to make his account. At his instigation two chiefs, Junkojee and Duttah Sindia, set out from Deccan, meditating no less than the entire subjugation of Hindustan. They crossed the Jumna; and driving Nujeeb ad Dowlah from the open country, besieged him in one of his forts, where he defended himself with obstinate bravery. Sujah ad Dowlah saw that the danger was common; and collecting an army marched to support him. He encountered the Mahratta army; gained the advantage, and forced it to cross the Jumna, where a considerable portion of it perished in the waters. Hearing at the same time of the march of the Abdalee Shah, its leaders were sufficiently disposed to accommodation.

As soon as Umad al Mulk, the Vizir, was made acquainted with the alliance of Sujah ad Dowlah and the Rohillas, it was his desire, as his interest, to march to the assistance of his Mahratta allies. But he was now beset with a number of difficulties. The Abdalee Shah, whom he had twice offended, was in motion: The Rohillas, with the Nabob of Oude, were opposing the Mahrattas: And Aulumgeer was in correspondence with all his enemies. He resolved, without Edition: current; Page: [419] scruple, to deliver himself from the last of these difficulties.BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1759. A trusty Cashmerian having received his commission, the Emperor was stabbed with poignards, and his body thrown out upon the strand of the Jumna; where it was stripped by the people, and remained exposed for eighteen hours. Mohee al Sunnut, a son or grandson of Kaum Buksh, the youngest son of Aurungzebe, was taken from confinement, and set up as the pageant of royalty; after which the Vizir hastened to join the conflict against Nujeeb ad Dowlah and the Nabob of Oude. He was on his march when he heard that peace was concluded; and that the Mahrattas were gone to oppose themselves to the approach of the Abdalee King. The means of personal safety now engrossed the mind of Umad al Mulk. He retired to the country of Suraje Mul, and shut himself up in one of the strongest of his forts.

Upon the last retreat of Ahmed Dooranee Shah from Hindustan, he had left his son Governor of Lahore and Multan; disordered by revolutions, wasted and turbulent. A chief who had served with distinction under the late Meer Munnoo incited the Seiks to join him in molesting the Dooranees; and they gained several important advantages over their principal commanders. They invited the Mahratta generals, Ragonaut Raow, Shumsheer Bahadur, and Holkar, who had advanced into the neighbourhood of Delhi, to join them in driving the Abdalees from Lahore. No occupation could be more agreeable to the Mahrattas. After taking Sirhind, they advanced to Lahore, where the Abdalee Prince made but a feeble resistance, and fled. This event put them in possession of both Multan and Lahore. Placing the country under a temporary government, they marched Edition: current; Page: [420] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1760.homeward at the approach of the rains; but left a Mahratta Subahdar, who next season extended his acquisitions as far as the river Attok. It was at this very time that the army, of which we have already spoken, marched to take possession of Rohilcund and Oude: And the whole Indian continent appeared now about to be swallowed up by the Mahrattas. Had not Ahmed Shah, the Abdalee, whose empire was in its youth and vigour, been upon the stage: had not the Mahrattas at that time been possessed of extraordinary power; the Mahrattas in the one case; the Abdalees, in the other, might have extended their dominion from Thibet and Persia to Cape Comorin. The opposition which they made to one another opened a way for a maritime nation to introduce itself from the other side of the globe, and to acquire by rapid strides a more complete ascendant over that extensive region than any single government had ever attained.

Ahmed Shah was not only roused by the loss of his two provinces, and the disgrace imprinted on his arms; but he was invited by the chiefs and people of Hindustan, groaning under the depredations of the Mahrattas, to march to their succour and become their King. The Mahrattas, flying before him, evacuated the two provinces at his approach; and assembled together from all quarters in the neighbourhood of Delhi. The Dooranee army was joined by the chiefs of Rohilcund, Nujeeb al Dowlah, Saadoollah Khan, Hafiz Rhamut, and Doondee Khan. For some days the Dooranees hovered round the Mahratta camp; when the Mahrattas, who were distressed for provisions, came out and offered battle. Their army, consisting of 80,000 veteran cavalry, was almost wholly destroyed; and Duttah Sindia, their General, Edition: current; Page: [421] was among the slain. A detachment of horse sentBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1760. against another body of Mahrattas, who were marauding under Holkar in the neighbourhood of Secundra, surprised them so completely that Holkar fled naked, with a handful of followers, and the rest, with the exception of a few prisoners and fugitives, were all put to the sword.

During the rainy season, while the Dooranee Shah was quartered at Secundra, the news of this disaster and disgrace excited the Mahrattas to the greatest exertions. A vast army was collected; and Suddasheo Raow, commonly called Bhaow, the nephew of Ballajee, the Peshwa, and other chiefs of the greatest note, assuming the command, the Mahrattas marched to gratify the resentments, and fulfil the unbounded hopes of the nation. Having been joined by Sooraje Mul the Jaat, and Umad al Mulk the Vizir, they arrived at the Jumna before it was sufficiently fallen to permit either the Mahrattas on the other side, or the Dooranees, to cross. In the mean time they marched to Delhi, of which after some resistance they took possession; plundered it with their usual rapacity, tearing away even the gold and silver ornaments of the palace; proclaimed Sultan Jewan Bukht, the son of Alee Gohur, Emperor; and named Sujah ad Dowlah, Nabob of Oude, his Vizir. Impatient at intelligence of these and some other transactions, Ahmed Shah swam the Jumna, still deemed impassable, with his whole army. This daring adventure, and the remembrance of the late disaster, shook the courage of the Mahrattas; and they entrenched their camp on a plain near Pannipῦt. The Dooranee, having surrounded their position with parties of troops, to prevent the passage of supplies, contented himself for some days with skirmishing. At last he tried an assault; when Edition: current; Page: [422] BOOK III. Chap. 4. 1760.the Rohilla infantry of Nujeeb ad Dowlah forced their way into the Mahratta works, and Bulwant Raow with other chiefs was killed: but night put an end to the conflict. Meanwhile scarcity prevailed, and filth accumulated, in the Mahratta camp. The vigilance of Ahmed intercepted their convoys. In a little time famine and pestilence raged. A battle became the only resource. The Abdalee restrained his troops till the Mahrattas had advanced a considerable way from their works; when he rushed upon them with so much rapidity as left them hardly any time for using their cannon. The Bhaow was killed early in the action; confusion soon pervaded the army; and a dreadful carnage ensued. The field was floated with blood. Twenty-two thousand men and women were taken prisoners. Of those who escaped from the field of battle, the greater part were butchered by the people of the country, who had suffered from their depredations. Of an army of 140,000 horse, commanded by the most celebrated generals of the nation, only three chiefs of any rank, and a mere residue of the troops, found their way to Deccan. The Dooranee Shah made but little use of this mighty victory. After remaining a few months at Delhi, he recognized Alee Gohur, as Emperor, by the title of Shah Aulum the Second; and entrusting Nujeeb ad Dowlah with the superintendance of affairs, till his master should return from Bengal, he marched back to his capital of Cabul in the end of the year 1760. With Aulumgeer the Second, the empire of the Moguls may be justly considered as having arrived at its close. The unhappy Prince who now received the name of Emperor, and who, after a life of misery and disaster, ended his days a pensioner of English merchants, never possessed a sufficient degree of Edition: current; Page: [423] power to consider himself for one moment as masterBOOK III. Chap. 4. 1760. of the throne.1

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A Comparison of the State of Civilization among the Mahomedan Conquerors of India with the State of Civilization among the Hindus.

BOOK III. Chap. 5.After this display of the transactions to which the Mahomedan nations have given birth in Hindustan, it is necessary to ascertain, as exactly as possible, the particular stage of civilization at which these nations had arrived. Beside the importance of this inquiry, as a portion of the history of the human mind, and a leading fact in the history of India; it is requisite for the purpose of ascertaining whether the civilization of the Hindus received advancement or depression from the ascendancy over them which the Mahomedans acquired.

We have seen, in the comparisons adduced to illustrate the state of civilization among the Hindus, that the nations, in the western parts of Asia; the Persians, the Arabians, and even the Turks; possessed a degree of intellectual faculties rather higher than the nations situated beyond them toward the East; were rather less deeply involved in the absurdities and weaknesses of a rude state of society; had in fact attained a stage of civilization, in some little degree, higher than the other inhabitants of that quarter of the globe.

This is a statistical fact, to which it is not probable that much contradiction will hereafter be applied. The point of chief importance, for the present inquiry, is, to show, that the people who actually invaded Hindustan, and assumed the government over so large a Edition: current; Page: [425] portion of its inhabitants, were perfectly on a levelBOOK III. Chap. 5. with the Arabians and Persians, in the highest state of their civilization.

The Mahomedans, who established their dominion in Hindustan, were principally derived from the eastern portions of that great country which was contained within the limits of the Persian empire in its greatest extent.

These eastern provinces of the great Persian empire, Bactria and Transoxiana, with the contiguous regions, at the time when those men were formed who established the Mahomedan dominion in Hindustan, were remarkable rather for exceeding than falling short of the other parts of that empire, in the attainments of civilized life. The language of Balk was reckoned the most elegant dialect of the Persian tongue; and when God speaks mildly and gently to the cherubim surrounding his throne, this, according to the Mahomedans, is the language he employs. A large proportion of the men who have been most distinguished in all the different walks of Persian literature, have been natives of Balk; of whom it may suffice to mention Mahomed Ebn Emir Khowând Shah, better known to Europeans under the name of Mirkhond, the author of a great historical work, to which Europeans have been indebted for much of their knowledge of Persian history; Rashîd, a celebrated poet; and Anwari, famous both as a poet and astronomer. So greatly was Balk distinguished during the reigns of the immediate successors of Gingis Khan, that it was denominated Kobbat al Islâm, the metropolis of Islamism. Bokhara was one of the greatest seats of learning in the East. Students flocked from all parts to the celebrated university of Bokhara. In the Mogul language, Bokhâr, we are told, is a common appellation for a learned man. Among the celebrated Edition: current; Page: [426] BOOK III. Chap. who have made illustrious the studies of Bokhara, is found a name, ranked high among his contemporaries in all the quarters of the globe, Ebn Sîna, or Avicenna, who wrote above one hundred volumes, and died in 1036, at the early age of fifty-eight.

The Moguls were not perfectly barbarous when they advanced upon the countries of the West. It is sufficiently proved that they had the use of letters; they had an alphabet of their own, in no degree corresponding with the troublesome characters of the Chinese, but as ingenious and simple as that of the Romans. The degree in which they approximated to the mental capacity of the most enlightened nations of Asia, is abundantly proved, not only by that power of combined action which enabled them to effect their conquests, but by the skill with which they regulated the government of China, as well as that of Persia and Transoxiana, to which they subsequently advanced. It appears not that the government in those several countries was more skilfully conducted in any hands, than in those of the immediate successors of Gingis. The Moguls, at the time of their conquests, were so fully prepared for a new step in civilization, that they assimilated themselves with wonderful rapidity, both in China and Persia, to the more cultivated people among whom they had arrived; and, in a short time, were to be distinguished from them rather by slight shades of character and manners, than any difference in point of civilization. In their new acquisitions in Persia and Transoxiana, they were celebrated for prosecuting the sciences with great ardour; and, in particular, for having laid astronomy, geography, and the mathematical sciences, under great obligations. In the city of Samarcand, the seat of government of one of the sons of Gingis and his successors, “the academy of sciences,” to use the words of the writer Edition: current; Page: [427] in the Universal History, “was one of the mostBOOK III. Chap. 5. eminent to be found among the Mahomedans, who resorted thither to study from all the neighbouring countries.” Abulfeda mentions two decisive marks of a considerable degree of civilization. In his time the streets were paved, and water was conveyed into the city by leaden pipes. The silk-paper made here was the most beautiful in Asia; and in great request over all the East.1

Mahmood, of Ghizni, the founder of the first Mahomedan dynasty in Hindustan, was the most accomplished Prince in Asia. His court contained an assemblage of learned men. The greatest poet of Asia wrote in his capital, and was fostered by his bounty. He and his nobles adorned Ghizni with an architecture which rendered it the finest city in the East. He there erected an university, which he richly endowed, and made it one of the principal seats of learning in that quarter of the globe.2

Under Mahmood of Ghizni, the great sovereign of Persia, who combined in his service all the finest spirits that Persian civilization could produce, the Hindus could not be said to be over-run, or held in subjection by a people less civilized than themselves. As little could this be said under the descendants of Mahmood, who, though inferior to him in personal qualities, were themselves formed, and served by men who were formed, under the full influence of Persian arts and knowledge. The same was undoubtedly the case with the princes of the Gaurian dynasty. They, Edition: current; Page: [428] BOOK III. Chap. 5.and the leaders by whom they were principally served, were, in respect of training and knowledge, in reality Persians. It will not be denied, that the Moguls, the last of the Mahomedan dynasties of Hindustan, had remained a sufficient time in Transoxiana and Persia, to have acquired all the civilization of these two countries, long before they attempted to perform conquests in India. The Persian language was the language they used; the Persian laws, and the Persian religion, were the laws and religion they had espoused; it was the Persian literature to which they were devoted; and they carried along with them the full benefit of the Persian arts and knowledge, when they established themselves in Hindustan.

The question, therefore, is, Whether by a government, moulded and conducted agreeably to the properties of Persian civilization, instead of a government moulded and conducted agreeably to the properties of Hindu civilization, the Hindu population of India lost or gained. For the aversion to a government, because in the hands of foreigners; that is, of men who are called by one rather than some other name, without regard to the qualities of the government, whether better or worse; is a prejudice which reason disclaims. As India was not governed by the Moguls, in the character of a detached province, valued only as it could be rendered useful to another state, which is the proper idea of foreign conquest; but became the sole residence and sole dominion of the Mogul government, which thereby found its interest as closely united to that of India, as it is possible for the interest of a despotical government to be united with that of its people, the Mogul government was, to all the effects of interest, and thence of behaviour, not a foreign, but a native government. With these considerations before the inquirer, it will not admit of any Edition: current; Page: [429] long dispute, that human nature in India gained,BOOK III. Chap. 5. and gained very considerably, by passing from a Hindu to a Mahomedan government. Of this, without descending to particulars, the situation of human nature, under the Hindu governments which we have seen; that of the Mahrattas, for example; that of Nepaul; that of Mysore, before the time of Hyder Ali; or that of Travancore; affords a very satisfactory proof. The defects of Mahomedan rule, enormous as they justly deserve to be held, can by no means be regarded as equal to those which universally distinguish the government of Hindus.

The same minute analysis might here be instituted of the grand circumstances which constitute the marks of civilization among the Mahomedans of India, as has been already executed in regard to the Hindus. But it is by no means necessary. The state of civilization among the Hindus has been mysterious, and little known. With the state of civilization in Persia the instructed part of European readers are pretty familiar. Besides; in analysing the circumstances which constitute the marks of civilization among the Hindus, such comparisons, for the sake of illustration, were made with the corresponding circumstances among the Persians, as served to throw some light upon the state of civilization among the latter people, and to show in what position they stood as compared with the Hindus. A few short reflections under each of the heads will therefore suffice.

I. Classification and Distribution of the People. In this grand particular, the superiority of the order of things among the Mahomedans, over that among the Hindus, was inexpressibly great. The Mahomedans were exempt from the institution of caste; that institution which stands a more effectual barrier against the welfare of human nature than Edition: current; Page: [430] BOOK III. Chap. 5.any other institution which the workings of caprice and of selfishness have ever produced. Under the Mahomedan despotisms of the East, nearly as much as in republics themselves, all men are treated as equal. There is no noble, no privileged class. Legally, there is no hereditary property, as the king is the heir of all his subjects. The only thing which creates distinction, is office; or the exercise of some portion of the powers of government. For office, there is no monopolizing class. Men from the very lowest ranks of life are daily rising to the highest commands; where each of them is honoured, in proportion not to the opulence of his father, but the qualities which he himself displays. Though here, there is wanting that barrier to the unlimited progress of the power of the king, which was found in the hereditary nobility of Europe; yet the situation of Spain, of Poland, and, in a greater or less degree, of every country in Europe, shows that the body of the people is not much benefited, when the unlimited power of oppressing them, instead of being confined to the hands of the king and his servants, is shared between him and a body of nobles.

II. The Form of Government. In the simplicity of Oriental despotism, there is not much room for diversity of form. Yet there are circumstances which distinguish to a considerable extent the state of government among the Mahomedans from that among the Hindus; and all of them to the advantage of the former.

Under the Mahomedan sovereigns, there was a regular distribution of the functions of government, to certain fixed and regular officers; that of the Vizir, that of the Bukshee, Ameer al Omrah, and so on. Under the Hindu sovereigns, there appears to have been a confusion of all things together in one heterogeneous Edition: current; Page: [431] mass. The sovereign governed by a sort ofBOOK III. Chap. 5. council, composed of Brahmens, who exercised the powers of government, according to no pre-established plan; but according as each by intrigue, or by reputation, could obtain an ascendancy among the rest.1 The natural and common order of things, in this situation, was, that some one individual acquired a predominant influence; and employed the rest as merely his instruments. This man became, by way of distinction, the minister—peshwa, as he is called by the Mahrattas. Where the council of Brahmens is not a regular establishment; the sovereign chooses a minister, that is, a depositary of all his power; who disposes of it in portions, regulated by no rule, and by not much of established custom and habit.

To the abuse of the power which is placed in the hand of absolute sovereigns, there is no limit, except from three circumstances: 1. Religion, 2. Insurrection, 3. Manners.

1. When it is said that Religion opposes the will of the sovereign, it is meant that the ministers of religion oppose it; the priests: For, as a political engine, religion, without somebody to stand up for it, is a dead letter. Now the priests can only oppose the will of the sovereign, when, by their influence over the minds of men, they have acquired a great portion of power, a power which the king is afraid to provoke. Again; this power of the priests will, or will not, be applied in a way to protect the people from the Edition: current; Page: [432] BOOK III. Chap. 5.abuse of the sovereign power, according as the sovereign allies himself with it, or does not ally himself with it. If he allies himself with it; that is to say, if he associates the power of the priests with his own, and admits them to a due share of the benefits which he pursues, the power of the priests is employed, not in checking, but in supporting him in the abuse of his power. Now, so completely was the power of the priests associated with that of the sovereign, under the Hindu system of government, that the power of the sovereign was almost wholly transferred into the hands of the priests. As the benefit of abusing the sovereign power was shared so largely with themselves, they had no motive to check, but every motive to support. To misgovernment accordingly, under Hindu sovereigns, we find no where any symptoms of opposition from religion.

Under Mahomedan sovereigns, the alliance between the Church and the State is much less complete. The Caliphs, it is true, were at once head magistrates, and head priests: in other situations, under Mahomedan sovereigns, the priests have had little political power. Except in some matters of established custom, which by themselves are little capable of mending the condition of the people upon the whole, they have never had sufficient influence, nor apparently any inclination, to protect the people from the abuses of sovereign power. Herein they differ from the Hindu system of priesthood, and the difference is an important one, that they are not allied with those who abuse the sovereign power, and yield them no protection.

2. Insurrection is a principle of salutary operation, under the governments of the East. To that is owing almost every thing which the people are any where left to enjoy. I have already had some opportunities, Edition: current; Page: [433] and as I proceed shall have more, to pointBOOK III. Chap. 5. out remarkable instances of its practical effects. In a situation where there is no regular institution to limit the power of gratifying the will, the caprices, and the desires of the sovereign and his instruments, at the expense of the people, there is nothing which hinders the people from being made as completely wretched as the unbounded gratification, at their expense, of the will, caprices, and desires of those who have sovereign power over them, can render human beings; except the dread of insurrection. But, in a situation where the mass of the people have nothing to lose, it is seldom difficult to excite them to insurrection. The sovereigns of the East find, by experience, that the people, if oppressed beyond a certain limit, are apt to rebel; never want leaders of capacity in such a case to conduct them; and are very apt to tread their present race of oppressors under their feet. This prospect lays these rulers under a certain degree of restraint; and is the main spring of that portion of goodness which any where appears in the practical state of the despotisms of the East. But the dread of insurrection was reduced to its lowest terms, among a people, whose apathy and patience under suffering exceeded those of any other specimen of the human race. The spirit, and excitability, and courage of the Mahomedan portion of the Indian population, undoubtedly furnished, as far as it went, an additional motive to good government, on the part of the sovereigns of Hindustan.

3. It is in a higher state of civilization than that exemplified, either among the Mahomedans or among the Hindus, that Manners have great influence in limiting the abuses of sovereign power. It is only in proportion as the mind of man is susceptible of pleasure from the approbation, pain from the disapprobation, Edition: current; Page: [434] BOOK III. Chap. 5.of his fellow-creatures, that he is capable of restraint from the operation of manners; unless in so far as they increase or diminish the chance of insurrection. Though no great amount of salutary effects is, therefore, to be ascribed to the operation of manners, under the sovereigns, either of Hindu or of Mahomedan breed, the benefit, as far as it went, was all on the side of the Mahomedans. There was, in the manners of the Mahomedan conquerors of India, an activity, a manliness, an independence, which rendered it less easy for despotism to sink, among them, to that disgusting state of weak and profligate barbarism, which is the natural condition of government among such a passive people as the Hindus.

Further, along with those remains of barbarism which in considerable amount adheres to the best of the Mahomedan nations, as well as to all the other inhabitants of Asia, a considerable portion of plain good sense marked the character of the conquerors of India; while the natives of that country are distinguished by a greater deficiency in the important article of practical good sense, than any people, above the rank of savages, of whom we have any record. The practical good sense of any people is not without its influence upon the mode of employing the powers of government, and upon the minds of some at least of the princes that wield them. Before the Moguls proceeded to Hindustan, we have a proof, in the Institutes of the conqueror Timur,1 of the degree of beneficent contrivance, with which he laid down the plan of his administration.

“I appointed a Suddur, a man of holiness, and of Edition: current; Page: [435] illustrious dignity, to watch over the conduct of theBOOK III. Chap. 5. faithful; that he might regulate the manners of the times; and appoint superiors in holy offices; and establish in every city, and in every town, a judge of penetration, and a doctor learned in the law, and a supervisor of the markets, of the weights, and the measures.

“And I established a judge for the army, and a judge for the subjects: and I sent into every province and kingdom, an instructor in the law, to deter the faithful from those things which are forbidden, and to lead them in the truth.

And I ordained that in every town, and in every city, a mosque, and a school, and a monastery, and an alms-house for the poor and the indigent, and an hospital for the sick and infirm, should be founded, and that a physician should be appointed to attend the hospital; and that in every city a government-house, and a court for the administration of justice should be built; and that superintendants should be appointed to watch over the cultivated lands, and over the husbandmen.

And I commanded that they should build places of worship, and monasteries in every city; and that they should erect structures for the reception of travellers on the high roads, and that they should make bridges across the rivers.

And I commanded that the ruined bridges should be repaired; and that bridges should be constructed over the rivulets, and over the rivers; and that on the roads, at the distance of one stage from each other, Kauruwansarai should be erected; and that guards and watchmen should be stationed on the road, and that in every Kauruwansarai people should be appointed to reside; and that the watching and guarding Edition: current; Page: [436] BOOK III. Chap. 5.of the roads should appertain unto them; and that those guards should be answerable for whatever should be stolen on the roads from the unwary traveller.

And I ordered that the Suddur and the Judge should, from time to time, lay before me all the ecclesiastical affairs of my empire; and I appointed a Judge in equity, that he might transmit unto me all civil matters of litigation, that came to pass amongst my troops and my subjects.”

Here is a selection of four of the most important objects of government, in making a provision for which, the first care and attention of the Mogul sovereign are employed: The administration of justice; the instruction of the people; the facilitation of intercourse; and his own knowledge of all that is transacted in his name. That the provision for these objects was very incomplete, we have sufficient assurance; but some progress was made in the art and science of government, when they were pointed out as primary objects of regard; still more, when something considerable was really done for their attainment.

Of the twelve maxims of his government, the following is a selection:

“Persons of wisdom, and deliberation, and vigilance, and circumspection, and aged men endowed with knowledge and foresight, I admitted to my private councils; and I associated with them, and I reaped benefit, and acquired experience from their conversation.

The soldier and the subject I regarded with the same eye. And such was the discipline which I established amongst my troops and my subjects, that the one was never injured or oppressed by the other.

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From amongst the wise and the prudent, whoBOOK III. Chap. 5. merited trust and confidence, who were worthy of being consulted on the affairs of government, and to whose care I might submit the secret concerns of my empire, I selected a certain number, whom I constituted the repositories of my secrets: And my weighty and hidden transactions, and my secret thoughts and intentions I delivered over to them.

By the vizzeers, and the secretaries, and the scribes, I gave order and regularity to my public councils: I made them the keepers of the mirror of my government, in which they showed unto me the affairs of my empire, and the concerns of my armies and my people: And they kept rich my treasury; and they secured plenty and prosperity to my soldiers and to my subjects; and by proper and skilful measures they repaired the disorders incident to empire; and they kept in order the revenues and the expences of government; and they exerted themselves in promoting plenty and population throughout my dominions.

Men learned in medicine, and skilled in the art of healing, and astrologers, and geometricians, who are essential to the dignity of empire, I drew around me: And by the aid of physicians and chirurgeons I gave health to the sick: And with the assistance of astrologers I ascertained the benign or malignant aspect of the stars, their motions, and the revolutions of the heavens: And with the aid of geometricians and architects, I laid out gardens, and planned and constructed magnificent buildings.

Historians, and such as were possessed of information and intelligence, I admitted to my presence: And from these men I heard the lives of the prophets and the patriarchs, and the histories of ancient princes, and the events by which they arrived at the dignity Edition: current; Page: [438] BOOK III. Chap. 5.of empire, and the causes of the declension of their fortunes: And from the narratives and the histories of those princes, and from the manners and the conduct of each of them, I acquired experience and knowledge: And from those men I heard the descriptions and the traditions of the various regions of the globe, and acquired knowledge of the situations of the kingdoms of the earth.

To travellers, and to voyagers of every country, I gave encouragement, that they might communicate unto me the intelligence and transactions of the surrounding nations: And I appointed merchants and chiefs of Kauruwauns to travel to every kingdom and to every country, that they might bring unto me all sorts of valuable merchandize and rare curiosities, from Khuttau, and from Khuttun, and from Cheen, and from Maucheen, and from Hindostaun, and from the cities of Arabia, and from Missur, and from Shaum, and from Room, and from the islands of the Christians, that they might give me information of the situation, and of the manners and of the customs of the natives and inhabitants of those regions, and that they might observe and communicate unto me the conduct of the princes of every kingdom and of every country towards their subjects.”

All these different points laid down, in writing, as main objects of attention in the conduct of government, undoubtedly indicate a state of the human mind very considerably removed from the lowest barbarism.

The following regulations respecting the collection of the revenues; of all the parts of an imperfect government that which most deeply affects the happiness of the people; indicate no common share of excellence in the spirit of administration:

“And I commanded that the Ameers, and the Edition: current; Page: [439] Mingbaushees, in collecting the revenues from theBOOK III. Chap. 5. subjects, should not, on any account, demand more than the taxes and duties established:

And to every province on which a royal assignment was granted, I ordained that two supervisors should be appointed; that one of them should inspect the collections, and watch over the concerns of the inhabitants, that they might not be impoverished, and that the Jaugheerdaur might not ill use or oppress them, and that he should take an account of all the sums which were collected in the province; and that the other supervisor should keep a register of the public expenses, and distribute the revenues among the soldiers:

And every Ameer who was appointed to a jaugheer, I ordained that for the space of three years it should remain unto him, and that, after three years, the state of the province should be inspected: If the inhabitants were satisfied, and if the country was flourishing and populous, that he should be continued therein; but if the contrary should appear, that the jaugheer should return unto the crown, and, that for the three following years, subsistence should not be granted to the holder thereof:

And I ordained that the collection of the taxes from the subject might, when necessary, be enforced by menaces and by threats, but never by whips and by scourges. The governor, whose authority is inferior to the power of the scourge, is unworthy to govern.

I ordained that the revenues and the taxes should be collected in such a manner as might not be productive of ruin to the subject, or of depopulation to the country.”

Of the produce of the fertile and cultivated lands, Edition: current; Page: [440] BOOK III. Chap. third was taken for the government; and this was the principal, and almost the only source of the revenue.

“And I ordained, whoever undertook the cultivation of waste lands, or built an aqueduct, or made a canal, or planted a grove, or restored to culture a deserted district, that in the first year nothing should be taken from him, and that in the second year, whatever the subject voluntarily offered should be received, and that in the third year the duties should be collected according to the regulation.

And I ordained, that if the rich and the powerful should oppress the poorer subject, and injure or destroy his property, an equivalent for the damage sustained should be levied on the rich oppressor, and be delivered to the injured person, that he might be restored to his former estate.

And I ordained, that in every country three Vizzeers should be stationed. The first, for the subject—to keep a regular account of the taxes and the duties received, and what sums, and to what amount, were paid in by the subject, and under what denomination, and on what account, and to preserve an exact statement of the whole. The second, for the soldier—to take account of the sums paid to the troops, and of the sums remaining due unto them.” The third was for certain miscellaneous services, too tedious to be specified.

These details are sufficient to show, that among the Moguls, even at their first irruption into Hindustan, the arts of government were considerably advanced; and that the Hindus had much to gain by a change of masters. In the hands of some of the most eminent of the Mogul princes, the Emperor Akbar, for instance, the powers of government were distributed, Edition: current; Page: [441] and employed with a skill which wouldBOOK III. Chap. 5. not disgrace a period of considerable knowledge and refinement.

Though in a pure despotism much depended on the qualities of the sovereign, yet when a good plan of administration was once fully introduced, a portion of its excellence always remained, for a time; and had a strong tendency to become perpetual.

III. The Laws.—The laws of the Hindus, we have already seen, are such as could not originate in any other than one of the weakest conditions of the human intellect; and, of all the forms of law known to the human species, they exhibit one of the least capable of producing the benefits which it is the end and the only good consequence of law, to ensure.

The Mahomedan law, as introduced into India by its Mogul conquerors, is defective indeed, as compared with any very high standard of excellence; but compare it with the standard of any existing system, with the Roman law for instance, or the law of England, and you will find its inferiority not so remarkable, as those who are familiar with these systems, and led by the sound of vulgar applause, are in the habit of believing. In the following view of the most remarkable particulars in the state of Mahomedan law, a reference to the system of English law is peculiarly instructive, and even necessary; as it is by the English system that the Mahomedan has been superseded.

1. The civil, or non-penal branch of law, lays down the rights which, for the good of the species, should be constituted in behalf of the individual; in other words, prescribes the power which the individual for the good of the species, ought exclusively to possess, over persons, and over things.

The particular powers or privileges which it is Edition: current; Page: [442] BOOK III. Chap. 5.expedient to constitute rights, are, in the great points, so distinctly and strongly indicated by common experience, that there is a very general agreement about them among nations in all the stages of civilization. Nations differ chiefly in the mode of securing those rights.

One instrument, without which they cannot be secured, is strict and accurate definition. In affording strict and accurate definitions of the rights of the individual, the three systems of law, Roman, English, and Mahomedan, are not very far from being on a level. Completeness, in point of definition, it seems, is a perfection in the state of law, which it requires a very advanced stage of civilization to bestow. At first, experience has provided no record of all the variety of material cases for which a provision is necessary. Afterwards, the human mind is not sufficiently clear and skilful to classify accurately a multitude of particulars; and without accurate classification useful definitions and rules can never be framed. Lastly (and that is the state in which the more civilized nations of Europe have long been placed) custom and habit acquire a dominion which it is not easy to break; and the professors of law possess an interest in its imperfections, which prompts them to make exertions, and a power, which enables them for a long time to make successful exertions, to defeat all endeavours for its improvement.

Until very lately, there was no civil code, that is to say, there was no description good or bad, in a permanent set of words, of almost any of the rights belonging to individuals, in any country in Europe. The whole was traditionary, the whole was oral; there was hardly any legislative writing. Of course, in the greater number of cases, nobody knew exactly what was a right. The judge, having no fixed definition Edition: current; Page: [443] for his guidance, made for himself, on each particularBOOK III. Chap. 5. occasion, a definition to suit that particular occasion. But these numerous definitions, made by numerous judges on numerous occasions, were more or less different one from another. All the approximation to accuracy that was attained, or that was attainable, consisted in this, that the routine of decision fixed a certain sphere, within which the variation of the arbitrary definitions which the judges on each occasion made for themselves was, with a certain force, confined; as he, by whom a wider range was taken for injustice than what was usually taken, would expose himself to the consequences of blame. Within a few years some attempts have been made, in some of the German states, to supply a code; that is, to give fixed and determinate words to the laws, by the only instrument of permanency and certainty in language, writing. These attempts have been partial, and exceedingly imperfect, even as far as they went. The Emperor Napoleon was the first sovereign in modern Europe, who bestowed upon his subjects the inestimable benefit of laws, in written, fixed, and determinate words. Many are the faults which might be discovered in this code, were this the place to criticise the execution; but with all its imperfections, it placed the French people, with respect to law, in a situation far more favourable than that of any other people upon the globe. In England, the whole portion of the field, occupied by what is denominated the common law; that is, almost all the civil, and a great proportion of the penal branch, is in the unwritten, that is, the oral, and traditionary, or barbarous state. Lastly, that portion, which bears the character of written, or statute law, is so overloaded with useless words; so devoid of classification; and the expression is so ambiguous and obscure; that the lawyers declare Edition: current; Page: [444] BOOK III. Chap. is far more polluted with the vice of uncertainty, than that which is in a state of necessary and perpetual fluctuation, the common law itself.

The form of the Mahomedan law, as exhibited to us in some of the best of its digests, as the Hedaya, for instance, is not much more rude and barbarous than this. To give any intelligible account of the powers which law converts into rights, it is necessary to make a distribution of the existences which are the subject of those rights, or over which the powers, converted into rights, are granted. This distribution is the same, in the Mahomedan, as in the European systems. The subjects of those rights, or the existences over which the powers are granted, are either, First, Persons; or, Secondly, Things. In the case in which Persons are considered as the subject of rights; 1. individuals, as individuals, are allotted rights, or exclusive powers, with respect to their own persons; 2. as husbands, fathers, sons, masters, servants, judges, suitors, kings, or subjects, &c. they are allotted rights or exclusive powers, with respect to the persons, (including the services) of others. In the case in which Things are considered as the subject of right, two circumstances principally require to be ascertained; First, the powers which are included in each right; Secondly, the events which cause, or give origin to the existence of a right. These points are determined upon the same principles, and nearly in the same way, by the Mahomedan, as by European legislation: Every where law has been formed, not by a previous survey and arrangement of the matters which it belongs to a system of law to include; but by the continual aggregation of one individual case to another, as they occurred for decision: The only classifications, therefore, which have ever been attempted, are those of the cases which occur for decision; the states of Edition: current; Page: [445] circumstances which most frequently give occasion toBOOK III. Chap. 5. disputes about rights: Now, these states of circumstances are the more common of the events which constitute change of ownership, or affect the transfer of property: Of these events, one set, which obviously enough fall into a class, are those of bargain and sale, or the exchange of one article of value for another; this constitutes a large chapter in the Mahomedan code: Another important class of such events are those which relate to inheritance: A third class are those which relate to wills: A fourth, those which relate to engagements either to pay a sum of money, or to perform a service: There are other inferior titles, of which those relating to deposits and to bail are the most considerable: And under these heads is the matter of civil law distributed in the Mahomedan code.

It will not be denied that this distribution very closely resembles that which is made of the same subject in the legal systems of Europe. It will hardly be denied that this combination of heads as completely includes the subject, or all the cases of dispute respecting ownership or right, as that combination of heads which we find in the codes of the west. To show the exact degree in which the Mahomedan system falls short of the Christian system, but exceeds the Hindu, in making clear and certain the rights which it means to create and uphold, would require a developement far too long and intricate for the present occasion. From the delineation of the great lines to which the present aim has been confined, it will appear, that a much higher strain of intelligence runs through the whole, than is to be found in the puerilities, and the worse than puerilities, of the Hindus.

2. So much for the comparison of Mahomedan law with that of the Hindus and Europeans, in regard to Edition: current; Page: [446] BOOK III. Chap. 5.the civil branch, or the constitution of rights. In the penal branch, beside the selection of the acts which shall be accounted offences, in which selection there is great uniformity all over the globe, two things are necessary, an exact definition of the act which the law constitutes an offence, and an exact specification of the punishment which it adopts as the means of preventing that offence.

On the penal branch of law, the Mahomedan, like the Roman system, is exceedingly scanty. In the Institutes of Justinian, for example, three short titles or chapters, out of eighteen, in the last and shortest of four books, is all that falls to the share of this half of the field of law: And the whole is brought in under the subordinate title of “Obligations arising from delinquency.” The arbitrary will of the judge (a wretched substitute) was left to supply the place of law. The same disproportion, (and it is one of the most remarkable points of inferiority in the ancient Roman as compared with the modern systems of jurisprudence) is observable in the Mahomedan books of law: the portion which relates to the penal is very small in comparison with that which relates to the non-penal branch of the subject.

The Mahomedan system contained, indeed, one law comprehensive enough to supersede a number; viz., that, in all cases of injury to the person, retaliation should be the rule; An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. This recommends itself to a rude age by the appearance of proportion. But it recommends itself to no other but a rude age, because it possesses nothing but the appearance of proportion, and grossly violates the reality. In this the Mahomedan more nearly approached the Hindu, than the European systems of penal law. By this however it avoided the atrocity of some modern systems, particularly the Edition: current; Page: [447] English, in as much as it limited capital punishment,BOOK III. Chap. 5. never allowed for offences against property, to the single case of murder. In practice too, “the Mussulman courts,” says the translator of the Hedaya, “in all cases short of life, understand the words of the Koran, not as awarding an actual retaliation, according to the strict literal meaning, but an atonement in exact proportion to the injury.”1 This indicates a considerable refinement of thought on the subject of penal law; far removed from the brutality which stains the code of the Hindus.

The most atrocious part of the Mahomedan system of punishment is that which regards theft and robbery. Mutilation, by cutting off the hand, or the foot, is the prescribed remedy for all higher degrees of the offence. This savours strongly of a barbarous state of society; and in this the Mahomedan and Hindu systems resemble one another. The translator of the Hedaya, though he laments the inhumanity, inconvenience, and inefficiency, of this mode of punishment, yet tells his British countrymen; “They have nothing better to offer by way of substitute; for surely their penal laws are still more sanguinary.” This is a heavy imputation on the legislature of his country; but surely no good reason hinders a better system of penal remedies, than that of either English or Mahomedan law, from being introduced into India, by an enlightened legislature, if such a thing were to be found.

One peculiarity, indicating the work of an immature state of the human mind, strongly distinguishes the Mahomedan system; while it distinguishes the English, in a degree scarcely, if at all, inferior. In Edition: current; Page: [448] BOOK III. Chap. 5.framing the several rules or ordinances; which, of course, are intended, each, to include not a mere individual case (for then to be complete they must be innumerable), but sets or classes of cases; it is not the specific, or the generic differences, but the individual differences, upon which a great proportion of the rules are founded. Their mode of proceeding is the same, as if (taking a familiar case for the sake of illustration) they were to make one law to prohibit the stealing of a sheep; another to prohibit the stealing of a cow; a third, the stealing of a horse; though all the cases should be treated as equally criminal, and all subjected to the same penalty. Not merely a good logic, but a good talent for expediting business, would teach that all such cases as could be comprehended under one description, and were to be dealt with in one way, should be included in one comprehensive law. This would have two admirable effects. The laws would first be less voluminous; hence less obscure, and difficult to administer. In the second place, being founded upon the generic and specific differences, they would include all individual cases without exception; whereas in so far as they are founded upon individual distinctions, they may rise to the number of millions, and leave as many cases (no individual case resembling another) without an appropriate provision.

3. Beside the laws which mark out rights and punishments, are a set of laws on which the execution of the former branches altogether depends. These are the laws which constitute the system of procedure; or the round of operations through which the judicial services—inquiry, sentence and enforcement—are rendered.

In this part of the field of legislation, there is a most remarkable difference, between the Indian and Edition: current; Page: [449] the European systems. In the European system, theBOOK III. Chap. 5. steps of procedure are multiplied to a great number, and regulated by a correspondent multiplicity of rules. In the Mahomedan, (and in this the Mahomedan and the Hindu systems concur) the mode of procedure is simple, and not much regulated by any positive rules; the Judge being left to conduct the judicial inquiry, in the mode which appears to him most conducive to its end, and falling of course into the natural and obvious train of operations, recommended to every individual by ordinary good sense, when he has any private inquiry, analogous to the judicial, to perform. The parties are summoned to appear before him: They state, in their order, the circumstances of the case, subject to examination of all sorts, for the elucidation of the facts: The evidence which they have to adduce, whether of testimony or of things, is received: When all the evidence is before the Judge, he balances the weight of that which affirms, with the weight of that which denies the point in dispute; and according as either preponderates, decision is pronounced.

In this department, the advantage is all on the side of the Indian systems. The inconvenience to which the Indian mode of procedure is liable consists in the arbitrary power entrusted to the Judge; which he may employ either negligently, or partially and corruptly. Two things may here be observed: First, that this inconvenience is not removed from the system, characterised by the great number of steps and rules, which may be called the technical system: Secondly, that it may, to a great degree, be easily removed from the system which is characterized by the small number of steps and rules, which may be called the natural system.

Edition: current; Page: [450]

BOOK III. Chap. 5.It is not removed from the technical system; for that binds the Judge to nothing but an observance of the technical rules: Now they may all be observed in the most punctilious manner; while the real merits of the case may either have been most imperfectly brought to light, through negligence; or purposely disguised, through corruption. The observance of the technical rules by no means forces the inquiry upon the merits of the case; and affords no security whatsoever that in regard to them the inquiry shall be complete.

In the next place, the power of the Judge may be restrained from abuse, in the natural mode of procedure, by very easy expedients. As the steps are simple, they can be clearly described; and a standard of perfection may be rendered perfectly familiar to the minds of the people: With this standard in their minds, the conduct of the Judge may be subjected to perfect publicity, and held open to the full view, and unrestrained criticisms, of the people: As no misconduct would thus escape detection, an efficient method might be easily provided to render it very difficult, or impossible, that it should escape the due measure of punishment. This is the mode of obtaining good conduct from the Judge, as from every other servant of the public; not the prescription of numerous ceremonial observances, few of them having any connexion with the merits of the case; many of them obstructing, rather than aiding the efficient operations of a rational inquiry; and all, taken together, far better calculated for screening the Judge in a course of misconduct, than for imposing upon him any necessity of good and faithful service.

If the technical affords no security for good conduct in the Judge, above the natural system, it possesses Edition: current; Page: [451] other qualities which render it infinitely hurtfulBOOK III. Chap. 5. to the interests of justice. By multiplying the operations of judicature, it renders the course long, intricate, obscure, and treacherous. It creates delay, which is always a partial, often a complete denial of justice. It creates unnecessary expense; which is always positive robbery; and as often as it is above the means of the suitor is complete and absolute denial of justice: expense, which is almost always above the means of the indigent, that is, the most numerous class; which possesses, therefore, this peculiar property, that it outlaws the great body of the people; making law an instrument which any one may employ for the oppression of the most numerous portion of the species; an instrument which they can scarcely at all employ for their protection.

It is instructive, and not difficult, to trace the causes which gave birth to such different modes of judicial procedure in the two countries. The difference arose from the different situation of the judges. It arose from the different means presented to the judges of drawing a profit out of the business which they had to perform. In India, as the state of manners and opinions permitted them to receive bribes, they had no occasion to look out for any other means of drawing as much money as possible from the suitors; and, therefore, they allowed the course of inquiry to fall into the straight, the shortest, and easiest channel. In England, the state of manners and opinions rendered it very inconvenient, and in some measure dangerous, to receive bribes. The judges were, therefore, induced to look out for other means of rendering their business profitable to themselves. The state of manners and opinions allowed them to take fees upon each of the different judicial Edition: current; Page: [452] BOOK III. Chap. 5.operations. It was, therefore, an obvious expedient, to multiply these operations to excess; to render them as numerous, and not only as numerous, but as ensnaring as possible. For, with a view to fees, it was of prodigious importance, after the operations had been rendered as numerous as possible, to create pretexts for performing them twice over. This was easily done, by rendering the operations, imposed upon the suitors, so nice, and intricate, and equivocal, that it was hardly possible to observe them, in such a manner as to preclude exception; and, by making it a rule, that as soon as any misobservance was laid hold of by the judge, the whole of the preceding operations, how exactly soever performed, should be set aside, and the suit ordained to commence anew. This re-commencement, accordingly, this double performance of the ceremonies, double payment of the fees, is one of the most remarkable features in the English system of procedure.

Two persons in the Mahomedan courts, the Cauzee and Mooftee, share between them, on each occasion, the functions of the judge. The Mooftee attends in order to expound the sacred text; the Cauzee is the person who investigates the question of fact, and carries into execution what he receives as the meaning of the law.1

The following passage discovers a correct mode of thinking, whatever disconformity may have been found between the rule and the practice. “It is incumbent on the Sultan to select for the office of Cauzee, a person who is capable of discharging the duties of it, and passing decrees; and who is also in a superlative degree just and virtuous; for the prophet has said; Whoever Edition: current; Page: [453] appoints a person to the discharge of any office,BOOK III. Chap. 5. whilst there is another among his subjects more qualified for the same than the person so appointed, does surely commit an injury with respect to the rights of God, the prophet, and the Mussulmans.”1

Publicity was an important principle in the Mahomedan jurisprudence. For the hall of justice, “the principal mosque,” says the law, “is the most eligible place, if it be situated within the city; because it is the most notorious.”2

There is no part of the rules of procedure which more strongly indicate the maturity or immaturity of the human mind, than the rules of evidence. There is scarcely any part of the Mahomedan system, where it shows to greater advantage. On many points its rules of evidence are not inferior; in some they are preferable, to those of the European systems. Its exclusion of evidence, for example, is not so extensive, and, in the same proportion, not so mischievous as the English. There are other cases, however, in which inferiority appears. Reckoning women’s testimony inferior to that of men (they have less correctness, says the law, both in observation and memory—which so long as their education is inferior will no doubt be the case), the Mahomedan law makes some very absurd rules. In all criminal cases, the testimony of the woman is excluded: and in questions of property, the evidence of two women is held only equal to that of one man; as if one class of women may not be better educated than another class of men, and their testimony, therefore, more to be depended upon. Under Mahomedan customs, indeed, which exclude the women from the acquisition of knowledge and experience, the regulation had less of impropriety than it Edition: current; Page: [454] BOOK III. Chap. 5.would have in a state of things more favourable to the mental powers of the sex. There is nothing, however, in the Mahomedan laws of evidence, to compare with many absurdities of the Hindu system, which makes perjury, in certain cases, a virtue.

IV. The Taxes.—To a great extent the Mahomedans followed the plan of taxation which was established under the native government of the Hindus. The great source of the revenue was the proportion, exacted by the sovereign, of the gross produce of the land. The Emperor Akbar was celebrated as having placed the details of collection in a better state, than that important business had ever been seen in before. From what has been observed of the practice of existing Hindu governments; and, from the superior share of intelligence which the Mahomedans brought to the business of state, we may infer, with sufficient assurance, that the improvement introduced by that people was not inconsiderable. That the Mahomedan princes generally made use of Hindus in affairs of revenue; and even employed them as their instruments, in the reforms to which they were led, is not inconsistent with the supposition, that the business was better managed under the Mahomedans than under the Hindus. For the details of collection; which a revenue chiefly derived from a proportion of the gross produce of the land rendered excessively operose and complex; an intimate acquaintance with the language and manners of the people was indispensably required; and that acquaintance Hindus alone possessed. There is nothing to hinder the Hindus, as any other people, from being well qualified to be used as instruments in a business, in which they might have been utterly incapable of being the principals. The methods devised, with considerable Edition: current; Page: [455] skill, under the Emperor Akbar, for preventing theBOOK III. Chap. 5. two great abuses incident to the machinery of collection; the oppression of the people; and embezzlement of the king’s revenue; appear to have preserved their virtue, not much impaired, during the time when any vigour remained in the Mogul government; and to have become altogether neglected, only when each province, as the empire fell to pieces, became an independent petty state; and when the feeble and necessitous sovereign of each petty state was unable to contend either with his own vices, or those of his agents.1

V. Religion.—Under this head very few words are required; because the superiority of the Mahomedans, in respect of religion, is beyond all dispute. To the composition of the Koran was brought an acquaintance with the Jewish and Christian scriptures; by which the writer, notwithstanding his mental rudeness, appears to have greatly profited; and assigning, as we are disposed to assign, very little value to the lofty expressions regarding the Divine perfections, in the Koran, as well as to those in the Vedas, Edition: current; Page: [456] BOOK III. Chap. 5.we find the absurdities in the Koran, by which those lofty ideas are contradicted, inconsiderable both in number and degree, compared with those which abound in the religious system of the Hindus.

VI. Manners. In this respect the superiority of the Mahomedans was most remarkable. The principal portion of the manners of the Hindus was founded upon the cruel and pernicious distinction of castes: A system of manners proceeding, like that of the Mahomedans, upon the supposition of the natural equality of mankind, constituted such a difference in behalf of all that is good for human nature, as it is hardly possible to value too high. Another great portion of the manners of the Hindus consisted in the performance of religious ceremonies: In ceremonies to the last degree contemptible and absurd, very often tormenting and detestable, a great proportion of the life of every Hindu is, or ought to be, consumed. The religion of the Moslem is stript of ceremonies to a degree no where else exemplified among nations in the lower stages of civilization.

As so great a portion of human life is devoted to the preparation and enjoyment of food, the great diversity between a diet wholly vegetable, and one which may in any degree consist of animal food, implies a considerable diversity in one grand portion of the details of ordinary life. Abstinence from intoxicating liquors, is a feature almost equally strong in the manners of both Mahomedans and Hindus.

In point of address and temper, the Mahomedan is less soft, less smooth and winning than the Hindu. Of course he is not so well liked by his lord and master the Englishman; who desires to have nothing more to do with him, than to receive his obedience. In truth, the Hindu, like the Eunuch, excels in the Edition: current; Page: [457] qualities of a slave. The indolence, the security, theBOOK III. Chap. 5. pride of the despot, political or domestic, find less to hurt them in the obedience of the Hindu, than in that of almost any other portion of the species. But if less soft, the Mahomedan is more manly, more vigorous. He more nearly resembles our own half-civilized ancestors; who, though more rough, were not more gross; though less supple in behaviour, were still more susceptible of increased civilization, than a people in the state of the Hindus.

In the still more important qualities, which constitute what we call the moral character, the Hindu, as we have already seen, ranks very low; and the Mahomedan is little, if at all, above him. The same insincerity, mendacity, and perfidy; the same indifference to the feelings of others; the same prostitution and venality,1 are conspicuous in both. The Mahomedans are profuse, when possessed of wealth, and devoted to pleasure; the Hindus are almost always penurious and ascetic.

VII. The Arts. The comparison has been so fully exhibited, between the Persians and Hindus, in respect to progress in the arts, in that chapter of the preceding book, in which the arts of the Hindus have been described; and it is so well known, that the Edition: current; Page: [458] BOOK III. Chap. 5.Mahomedan conquerors of India carried with them in perfection the arts of the Persians that under this head scarcely any thing remains to be adduced.

Of the mechanical arts, those of architecture, jewellery, and the fabrication of cloth, appeared to be the only arts for which admiration has been bestowed upon the Hindus. In the first two, the Hindus were found decidedly inferior to the Mahomedans. Of the Mahomedan structures, some are hardly exceeded by the finest monuments of architecture in Europe. The characteristic circumstance of building an arch, the Hindus were totally ignorant of; the Mahomedans excelled in it.1 If in any thing the Mahomedans were inferior to the Hindus, it was in the productions of the loom; though it is doubtful whether, as high specimens of art, the silks and velvets of the Persians are not as wonderful as the fine muslins of the Hindus.

In making roads and bridges, one of the most important of all the applications of human labour and skill, the Hindus, before the invasion of the Mahomedans, appear to have gone very little beyond the state of the most barbarous nations. We have seen, in the extract lately produced from the Institutes of Timur, that this was a primary care of government among the Moguls, before they became the conquerors of Hindustan.

In the fine arts, as they are usually called; or those of music, painting, and sculpture, the reader has already traced, with me, a remarkable coincidence in the progress of the Mahomedans, the Chinese, and the Hindus. In painting, the taste, as well as the mechanical faculty of all these nations, exhibit a Edition: current; Page: [459] resemblance which is singular and surprising.BOOK III. Chap. 5. In music, the Hindus appear to be inferior; as, in sculpture, the Persians superior, to the other two.

Whether war is to be ranked among the fine or the coarse arts; and whatever the relative portion of the powers of mind which it requires; the art may be expected to exist in a state of higher perfection among a people who are more, than a people who are less advanced in the scale of intelligence. When a number of people, comparatively few, overcome and hold in subjection a number of people comparatively large, the inference is a legitimate one (unless something appear which gives the small number some wonderful advantage), that the art of war is in a state of higher perfection among the conquering people, than the conquered. This inference, in the case of the Mahomedans and Hindus, is confirmed by every thing which we know with respect to both those people.

VIII. Literature.—In this important article, it will be impossible to show that the Hindus had the superiority in one single particular. It will not be disputed, it is probable, that in almost every respect a decided superiority was on the side of their invaders. The only branches of Hindu literature of which the admirers of Hindu civilization have called for any admiration, are the mathematics and the poetry.

With regard to the mathematics, it is rather the supposed antiquity, than the high progress of the science, among the Hindus, at which any wonder has been expressed. Whatever the case in regard to antiquity; it is abundantly certain that the science existed among the Mahomedans, acquainted to a considerable degree with the mathematics of Europe, in a state not less high, than it was found among the Edition: current; Page: [460] BOOK III. Chap. 5.Hindus; and that point is all which is material to the present purpose.

Of the poetry of the Hindus I have already endeavoured to convey a precise idea. On the present occasion it appears sufficient to say, that even those who make the highest demand upon us for admiration of the poetry of the Hindus, allow, as Sir William Jones, for example, that the poetry of the Persians is superior. Compare the Mahabarat, the great narrative poem of the Hindus, with the Shah Namah, the great narrative poem of the Persians; the departure from nature and probability is less wild and extravagant; the incidents are less foolish; the fictions are more ingenious; all to a great degree, in the work of the Mahomedan author, than in that of the Hindu.

But the grand article in which the superiority of the Mahomedans appears is history. As all our knowledge is built upon experience, the recordation of the past for the guidance of the future is one of the effects in which the utility of the art of writing principally consists. Of this most important branch of literature the Hindus were totally destitute. Among the Mahomedans of India the art of composing history has been carried to greater perfection than in any other part of Asia. In point of simplicity and good sense, there is no specimen even of Persian history, known to the European scholar, which can vie with the works of Ferishta, or the interesting Memoirs of Gholam Hussein, the Seer Mutakhareen. Beside the best specimens of Persian history, it is worthy of remark that the best specimen also of Persian poetry, the celebrated Shah Namah, was produced among the Mahomedan conquerors of Hindustan.

Edition: current; Page: [461]

NOTE A. p. 71.

The most authentic source of information, yet open to the research of the European scholar, on the metaphysical, as on other ideas of the learned Hindus, is the volume of the Institutions of Menu. This celebrated, authoritative, and divine work contains, as is usual with the sacred books of the Hindus, a specimen of all their knowledge; cosmogony, theology, physics, metaphysics, government, jurisprudence, and economics. From the account which in this work is rendered of the origin of the mind and its faculties, very sure conclusions may be drawn respecting the extent and accuracy of the psychological knowlege of the people by whom that account is delivered and believed.

The inspired author of this divine work informs the believing Hindu that, “From the supreme soul, Brahma, the Creator, drew forth mind, existing substantially, though unperceived by sense, immaterial.”1 The principal words here employed are vague and obscure, and no distinct meaning can be assigned to them. What is meant by “existing substantially?” What is meant by “immaterial?” “To exist substantially,” if it have any meaning, is to be a substance. But this is inconsistent with the idea which we ascribe to the word immaterial; and there is in many other passages, abundant reason to conclude that the word, with its usual leanings, here translated, “immaterial,” by Sir William Jones, meant nothing, in the conception of a Hindu, but a certain air, or ether, too fine to be perceived by the organs of sense.

Immediately after the words we have just quoted, it is added; “And before mind, or the reasoning power, he produced consciousness, the internal monitor, the ruler.”2 Consciousness, a faculty of the mind, is here represented as created before the mind, the quality before the substratum. It is subjoined in the next words; “And before them both” (that is, before the mind and consciousness) “he produced the great principle of the soul, or first expansion of the divine idea.”3 Here is a third production, which is neither the mind, nor consciousness. What is it? to this we have no answer. As to the term “first Edition: current; Page: [462] expansion of the divine idea,” which may be suspected to be a gloss rather than a translation, it is mere jargon, with no more meaning than the cawing of rooks. “In the same manner”—(that is, according to the construction of the sentence, before mind and consciousness—) “he created the five perceptions of sense, and the five organs of perception.”1 Another faculty of the mind, perception, is thus a creation antecedent to mind. The organs of perception, too, or bodily part, are a separate creation; perceiving organs which belong to no perceiving being.

The following text, which are the words next in order, exhibits a curious sample of metaphysical ideas. “Having at once pervaded, with emanations from the supreme spirit, the minutest portions of six principles immensely operative, conciousness, and the five perceptions, the Creator framed all creatures.”2 Consciousness, and the five perceptions, existed antecedently to all creatures; consciousness and perception, without conscious and perceiving beings. What is meant by the minute portions of consciousness? How can consciousness be supposed divided into portions either minute or large; especially when we are told that the mind is immaterial? What, too, are we to understand by the minute portions of a perception? As to the mere jargon, such as “pervading consciousness, and the five perceptions with emanations from the supreme spirit,” it is unnecessary to offer on it any remarks.

We are next informed, that “the minutest particles of visible nature have a dependance on those six emanations from God.” What is meant by these six emanations is not very definitely expressed. The six things that are spoken of are consciousness and the five perceptions; and it is probable that they are meant. But how visible nature should depend upon consciousness and the five perceptions, does not appear. Certain other emanations from God, however, are spoken of, with which consciousness and the five perceptions were pervaded; and perhaps it was meant that the minutest particles of matter depend on them. But this is only barbarous jargon.3

In the following verse it is said, that “from these six emanations proceed the great elements, endued with peculiar powers, and mind with operations infinitely subtle, the unperishable cause of all apparent form.”4 It is still a difficulty, what is meant by the six emanations. If those are meant with which consciousness and the five perceptions are pervaded, no ideas Edition: current; Page: [463] whatever can be annexed to the words; they are totally without a meaning; and that is all. If consciousness and the five perceptions be, as seems probable, the emanations in question; in what manner do the great elements and mind proceed from consciousness and the five perceptions? Mind would thus proceed from certain of its own operations.

It is added in the succeeding sentence, “This universe, therefore, is compacted from the minute portions of those seven divine and active principles, the great soul, or first emanation, consciousness, and five perceptions; a mutable universe from immutable ideas.”1 Here it appears that the great soul, as well as consciousness and the perceptions, can be divided into portions. The great soul is not therefore immaterial, according to our sense of the word; and still less can either that, or the perceptions and consciousness be immaterial, if the universe, a great part of which is surely material, can be compacted from portions of them. “A mutable universe,” it is said, “from immutable ideas;” therefore, the great soul, consciousness, and the five perceptions, are not realities, though divisible into portions; they are only ideas! What conclusions are we entitled to form respecting the intellectual state of a people who can be charmed with doctrine like this?2

In the following passage, and there are others of a similar import, we find a specimen of those beginnings which are made at an early stage of society, to refine in the modes of conceiving the mental operation. “Self-love,” it is said, “is no laudable motive; yet an exemption from self-love is not to be found in this world: on self-love is grounded the study of scripture, and the practice of actions recommended in it.”3 The absurdity lies, in not perceiving, that if no action proceeding from self-love is virtuous; and if there is no action which does not proceed from self-love; then is there no virtue in the world, which is far from being the subject of Hindu belief.


“The buildings are all base of mud, one story high, except in Surat, where there are some of stone. The Emperor’s own houses are of stone, handsome and uniform. The great men build not, for want of inheritance; but, as far as I have yet seen, live in tents, or houses worse than our cottages.” Sir T. Roe’s Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Churchill, i. 803.


It is curious to observe how Plato traces this progress. He is endeavouring to account for the origin of society. Ιθι ὸη (η ν ὁεγω) τψ λογψ εξ αρΧης ποιωμεν πολιν’ ποιησει δ’αντην, ὡς εοικεν, ἡ ἡμετερα Χρεια. Πιως [Editor: illegible character]ἶ λλλα μ[Editor: illegible character]ν πρωιη γε κμ μεγιςη τωι χρειων, ὴ της τροφης πα ρασκευη, ὶευτερα ὶη οικησεως, τριτη εσθητος και των τοι[Editor: illegible character]των. Εςι ταντα. ζερε ὶη(ην ὶ’ εγω) πως ή πολις αρκε σει επι τοσαυ την παρασκευην; αλλοτι, γεωργος μεν ἑις ὁ ἶε οικο ῖεομος αλλος δε τις ὺφαντης. Plat. de Repub, lib. ii. p. 599.


Robertson’s Histor. Disquis. concerning India, p. 225.


Orme’s Hist, of Milit. Transac. of Indostan, i. 178.


The cave of Elephanta is not the only subterranean temple of the Hindus, exhibiting on a large scale the effects of human labour. In the isle of Salsette, in the same vicinity, is a pagoda of a similar kind, and but little inferior to it in any remarkable circumstance. The pagodas of Ellore, about eighteen miles from Aurungabad, are not of the size of those of Elephanta and Salsette, but they surprise by their number, and by the idea of the labour which they cost. See a minute description of them by Anquetil Duperron, Zendavesta, Disc. Prelim. p. ccxxxiii. The seven pagodas, as they are called at Mavalepuram, near Sadras, on the Coromandel coast, is another work of the same description; and several others might be mentioned. Dr. Tennant, who has risen higher above travellers’ prejudices in regard to the Hindus, than most of his countrymen, says, “Their caves in Elephanta and Salsette are standing monuments of the original gloomy state of their superstition, and the imperfection of their arts, particularly that of architecture.” Indian Recreations, i. 6. The extraordinary cavern, the temple of Pusa, near Chas-chou-fou, in China, which was visited by lord Macartney, and full of living priests, vies in wonderful circumstances with the cave of Elephanta. See Barrow’s Life of Lord Macartney, Journal, ii. 374. “However these gigantic statues, and others of similar form, in the caves of Elora and Salsette may astonish a common observer, the man of taste looks in vain for proportion of form, and expression of countenance.” Forbes’ Oriental Memoirs, i. 423. “I must not omit the striking resemblance between these excavations (Elephanta, &c.) and the sculptured grottos in Egypt,” &c. “I have often been struck with the idea that there may be some affinity between the written mountains in Arabia, and the excavated mountains in Hindustan.” Ibid. i. 448, 449. It is difficult to say how much of the wonderful in these excavations may be the mere work of nature: “Left Sullo, and travelled through a country beautiful beyond imagination, with all possible diversities of rock; sometimes towering up like ruined castles, spires, pyramids, &c. We passed one place so like a ruined Gothic abbey, that we halted a little, before we could satisfy ourselves that the niches, windows, ruined staircaise, &c. were all natural rock. A faithful description of this place would certainly be deemed a fiction.” Mungo Park’s last Mission to Africa, p. 75. “Between the city of Canton, and first pagoda, on the bank of the river, is a series,” says Mr. Barrow, “of stone quarries, which appear not to have been worked for many years. The regular and formal manner in which the stones have been cut away; exhibiting lengthened streets of houses with quadrangular chambers, in the sides of which are square holes at equal distances, as if intended for the reception of beams; the smoothness and perfect perpendicularity of the sides, and the number of detached pillars that are scattered over the plain, would justify a similar mistake to that of Mr. Addison’s doctor of one of the German universities, whom he found at Chateau d’Un in France, carefully measuring the free-stone quarries at that place, which he conceived to be the venerable remains of vast subterranean palaces of great antiquity.” Barrow’s Travels in China, p. 599. The conclusions of many of our countrymen in Hindustan will bear comparison with that of the German doctor in France. It is not a bad idea of Forster, the German commentator upon the travels of P. Paulini, that the forming caverns into temples must naturally have been the practice when men as yet had their principal abodes in caverns. Voyage aux Indes Orien. par le P. Paulini, iii. 115. Volney says, “Those labyrinths, temples, and pyramids, by their huge and heavy structure, attest much less the genius of a nation, opulent and friendly to the arts, than the servitude of a people, who were slaves to the caprice of their monarch.” Travels in Egypt, &c. i. 282.


Clavigero, Hist. of Mexico, book vi sect. 10.


Ibid. book vii. sect. 26.


Royal Commentaries of Peru, by the Inca Garcilasso de la Vega, book vii. ch. xxviii. Acosta likewise says, (see his Natural and Moral History of the Indies, book vi. ch. xiv.) that of these stones he measured one, at Tiagunaco, which was thirty-eight feet long, eighteen broad, and six in thickness; and that the stones in that building were not so large as those in the fortress at Cuzco. He adds, “And that which is most strange, these stones, being not cut, nor squared to join, but contrariwise, very unequal one with another in form and greatness, yet did they join them together without cement, after an incredible manner.” Acosta tells us, however, (Ibid.) that they were entirely unacquainted with the construction of arches. Humboldt, who could have no national partialities on the subject, is almost as lofty in his praises of the remains of the ancient architecture of the Mexicans and Peruvians. “An Mexique et au Perou,” says he, Tableaux de la Nature, i. 168, “on trouve partout dans les plaines elevées des moutagnes, des traces d’une grande civilization. Nous avons vu, à une hauteur de seize à dix-huit cent toises des ruines de palais et de bains.” The ruins which he saw of a palace of immense size, are mentioned at p. 158.


“Let us now speak,” says the President Goguet, Origin of Laws, part iii. book ii. ch. i. “of the bridge of Babylon, which the ancients have placed in the number of the most marvellous works of the East. It was near 100 fathoms in length, and almost four in breadth, &c..... While we do justice to the skill of the Babylonians, in conducting these works, we cannot help remarking the bad taste, which, at all times, reigned in the works of the eastern nations. The bridge of Babylon furnishes a striking instance of it. This edifice was absolutely without grace, or any air of majesty..... Finally, this bridge was not arched” The first chiefs in Iceland built no inconsiderable houses. Ingulph’s palace was 135 feet in length. Mallet. Introd. Hist. Denmark, vol. i. ch. xiii.


Herodot. Clio, 181. Major Rennel, who was obliged to trust to Mr. Beloe’s translation, was puzzled with the expression, “a tower of the solid depth and height of one stadium;” justly pronounces it incredible, and says, “Surely Herodotus wrote breadth and length, and not breadth and height,” (Geog. of Herodot. p. 359, 360,) which is precisely the fact, the words of Herodotus being και το μηχος και το ενρος The word ςερεος, too, here translated solid, as if the tower was a mere mass of brick-work, without any internal vacuity, by no means implies a fact so very improbable. Στερος means strong, firmly built, &c. This resemblance has been noticed by Humboldt (Essai Polit. sur la Nonv. Espagne,) p. 170, also that between the pyramids of Egypt, and the vast pyramids of which the remains are to be found in Mexico, p. 187. The palace of Montezuma bore a striking resemblance to that of the Emperor of China, p. 190.


Voyage de Sonuerat, liv. iii. ch. viii.


Buchanan’s Journey through Mysore, &c. ii. 70.


Id. Ib. i. 13. Sir James Mackintosh ingeniously remarks, that among the innumerable figures of men and monsters of all sorts exhibited at Elora, you perceive about one in ten thousand that has some faint rudiments of grace, those lucky hits, the offspring of chance, rather than design, which offord copies to a rude people, and enable them to make gradual improvements. “Rude nations,” (says Dr. Ferguson, Hist. of the Roman Republic, i. 18, ed. 8vo.) “sometimes execute works of great magnificence, for the purposes of superstition or war; but seldom works of mere convenience or cleanliness.” Yet the common sewers of Rome, the most magnificent that ever were constructed, are assigned to the age of the elder Tarquin. Polybius tells us, that the city of Ecbatana, in Media, which contained one of the palaces of the Persian kings, far excelled all other cities in the world, πγκτῳ και τ[Editor: illegible character] της θατασκενης πολυτελειΆ μεγα τι παρα τας αλλας δοκενηνοΧεναθ πολεις. With regard to the palace itself, he was afraid, he said, to describe its magnitude and magnificence, lest he should not be believed. It was seven stadia in circumference; and though all the wood employed in it was cedar or cypress, every part of it, pillars, cornices, beams, every thing was covered with plates of silver or gold, so that no where was a bit of wood visible; and it was roofed with silver tiles. Polyb. Hist. lib. x. 24.


Bryant’s Ancient Mythology, book v. p. 211. From p. 187 to 213, an ample and instructive collection will be found of instances to prove the passion of rude nations for erecting great buildings; and the degree of perfection in art which their works display. Priam’s palace, according to Homer, was a magnificent building. That remarkable structure, the labyrinth of Crete, was produced in a very early age. Mr. Ward assures us, “that of the Hindu temples none appear to be distinguished for the elegance of their architecture: they are not the work of a people sunk in barbarism; neither will they bear any comparison with the temples of the Greeks and Romans.” He adds, “We learn from the Ain Akb✓ree, however, that the entire revenues of Orissa, for twelve years, were expended in erecting a temple to the sun.” Introd. p. ix.


Knox’s Hist. of Ceylon, London, 1681.


See above, p. 3, 4. “Their knowledge of mechanical powers,” says Mr. Orme, “is so very confined, that we are left to admire, without being able to account for, the manner in which they have erected their capital pagodas. It does not appear that they had ever made a bridge of arches over any of their rivers, before the Mahomedans came amongst them.” Hist. of Mil. Trans. of Indostan, i. 7.


Buchanan’s Journey through Mysore, &c. i. 61.


Goguet, Origin of Laws, part iii. book ii. ch. i. He says, “it even appears to me demonstrated, that the Egyptians had not much more knowledge of architecture, of sculpture, and of the fine arts in general, than the Peruvians and Mexicans. For example, neither the one nor the other knew the secret of building vaults. What remains of foundery or sculpture, is equally clumsy and incorrect. I think this observation absolutely essential.” Origin of Laws, part iii. dissert. iii. Clavigero, however, asserts that the Mexicans did know the art of constructing arches and vaults, as appears, he says, from their baths, from the remains of the royal palaces of Tezcuco, and other buildings, and also from several paintings. Hist. Mex. book vii. sect. 53.


Chardin, Voy. en Perse, iii. 116. ed. 4to. Amsterd. 1735. On est frappé [à Ispahan] de l’elegante architecture des ponts; l’Europe n’offre rien qui leur soit comparable pour la commodité des gens de pied, pour la facilité de leur passage, pour les faire jouir sans trouble, le jour, de la vue de la riviere et de ses environs, et, le soir, de la fraicheur de l’air, Olivier, Voyage, &c. v. 180. La sculpture est nulle en Perse. . . . . . . . Mais l’architecture, plus simple, plus elegante, mieux ordonnée que chez les Turcs, est tout-a-fait adaptée au climat. Les plafonds et les domes sont d’une recherche, d’un fini, d’un precieux, d’une richesse qui etonne. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Les Persans ont poussé fort loin l’art de faire les voῦtes. . . . . Les toits de leurs maisons sont voῦtés, leur planchers le sont aussi. Ib. v. 298, 299. The skill in architecture of the Turks, a very rude people, is well known. “Perhaps I am in the wrong, but some Turkish mosques in Constantinople please me better than St. Sophia. — That of Validé Sultan is the largest of all, built entirely of marble; the most prodigious, and I think the most beautiful structure I ever saw. Between friends, St. Paul’s Church would make a pitiful figure near it.” Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montague, Works, ii. 249, 250.


“No art in Hindustan is carried to the same degree of perfection as in Europe, except some articles in which the cheapness of labour gives them an advantage, as in the case of the fine muslins at Dacca.” Tennant’s Indian Recreations, i. 104. The people are in a state of gross rudeness, Buchanan informs us, “in every part of Bengal, where arts have not been introduced by foreigners; the only one that has been carried to tolerable perfection is that of weaving.” Journey through Mysore, &c. ii. 285.


Mr. Park tells us that the art of spinning, weaving, and dyein cotton, are familiar to the Africans. Travels, p. 17.


“A people,” says Mr. Orme, “born under a sun too sultry to admit the exercises and fatigues necessary to form a robust nation, will naturally, from the weakness of their bodies, (especially if they have few wants) endeavour to obtain their scanty livelihood by the easiest labours. It is from hence, perhaps, that the manufactures of cloth are so multiplied in Indostan. Spinning and weaving are the slightest tasks which a man can be set to, and the numbers that do nothing else in this country are exceeding.” He adds; “The hand of an Indian cookwench shall be more delicate than that of an European beauty; the skin and features of a porter shall be softer than those of a professed petit-maitre. The women wind off the raw silk from the pod of the worm. A single pod of raw silk is divided into twenty different degrees of fineness; and so exquisite is the feeling of these women, that whilst the thread is running through their fingers so swiftly, that their eye can be of no assistance, they will break it off exactly as the assortments change, at once from the first to the twentieth, from the nineteenth to the second. The women likewise spin the thread designed for the cloths, and then deliver it up to the men, who have fingers to model it as exquisitely as these have prepared it.” Orme, on the Gov. and People of Indostan, p. 409 to 413.


Clavigero, Hist. of Mexico, book vii. sect. 57.


See Gibbon (Hist. of the Decl. and Fall of the Rom. Emp. iv. 364), who says, “Yet it must be presumed, that they (the carpets and garments) were the manufactures of the provinces; which the barbarians had acquired as the spoils of war; or as the gifts or merchandise of peace.” But had they been the manufactures of the provinces, the Romans must have known them familiarly for what they were; and could never have been so much surprised with their own manufactures, transferred by plunder, gift, or sale to the barbarians, (of none of which operations, had they existed, could they have been altogether ignorant) as to make their historians think it necessary to place a minute description of them in their works.


Goguet, Origin of Laws, part iii. book vi. ch. i. art. 2. That diligent and judicious writer says, “Of all the arts of which we have to speak in this second part, there are none which appear to have been more or better cultivated than those which concern clothing. We see taste and magnificence shine equally in the description Moses gives of the habits of the high priest and the vails of the tabernacle. The tissue of all these works was of linen, goat’s hair, wool, and byssus. The richest colours, gold, embroidery, and precious stones, united to embellish it.” Ib. part ii. book ii. ch. ii. The following lofty description of the tissues of Babylon, by Dr. Gillies, (see the description of Babylon, in his History of the World) is not surpassed by the most strained panegyrics upon the weaving of the Hindus. “During the latter part of Nebuchadnezzer’s reign, and the twenty-six years that intervened between his death and the conquest of his capital by Cyrus, Babylon appears not only to have been the seat of an imperial court, and station for a vast garrison, but the staple of the greatest commerce that perhaps was ever carried on by one city. Its precious manufactures under its hereditary sacerdotal government remounted, as we have seen, to immemorial antiquity. The Babylonians continued thenceforward to be clothed with the produce of their own industry. Their bodies were covered with fine linen, descending to their feet: their mitras or turbans were also of linen, plaited with much art; they wore woollen tunicks, above which a short white cloak repelled the rays of the sun. Their houses were solid, lofty, and separated, from a regard to health and safety, at due distances from each other: within them the floors glowed with double and triple carpets of the brightest colours; and the walls were adorned with those beautiful tissues called Sindones, whose fine, yet firm texture was employed as the fittest cloathing for eastern kings. The looms of Babylon, and of the neighbouring Borsippa, a town owing its prosperity to manufactures wholly, supplied to all countries round, the finest veils or hangings, and every article of dress or farniture composed of cotton, of linen, or of wool.”


Bryant’s Ancient Mythology, iii. 425. It was from this city the spider (Arachne) for its curious web, was said to have derived its name. The poet Nonnus thus celebrates its manufactures:

Και ηνρε ποιχιλα πεπλα, τα περ’ παρα Τιγιὁος

Νηματι λεπ ταλεψ τεχνησατο Περσις Αραχνη.


Νηρενς μεν ταδε δωρα πολντροπα δωχε δε χ[Editor: illegible character]ρν

Περσικος Ευφρη της πολν δαιδαλ[Editor: illegible character][Editor: illegible character]ιμαΤ’ Αραηνης.

Nonnus, lib. xviii. p. 326, Edit. 1569; et lib. xlii. p. 747. See the brilliant description which Chardin gives of the exquisite skill of the modern Persians in the art of weaving; of the extraordinary beauty and value of their gold velvets. They make not fine cottons, he says, only for this reason, that they can import them cheaper from India. Chardin, Voyages en Perse, iii. 119. Olivier says; “Ils excellent dans la fabrication des etoffes de soie pure, de soie et coton, de soie et or ou argent, de coton pur, de coton et laine. A Yesd, à Cachan, à Ispahan, on travaille avec autant de goῦt que de proprieté les brocards, les velours, les taffetas, les satins, et presque toutes les etoffes que nous connaissons. Olivier, Voyage, &c. v. 304, 305, 306.


Ovid. We learn from Plato, that, when any fine production of the loom among the Greeks was represented as of the most exquisite fineness and beauty, it was compared to those of the Persians; την ζωνυ τ[Editor: illegible character] χι θονισχ[Editor: illegible character] ειναι μεν ἁαια [Editor: illegible character]ιΠερσιχαι Των πολντελων. Hippias Min. 255.


Orme, on the Government and People of Indostan, p. 409, &c. Tennant’s Indian Recrentions, p. 301. “The apparatus of the weaver is very simple; two rollers placed in four pieces of wood fixed in the earth; two sticks which traverse the warp, and are supported at each of the extremities, one by two strings tied to the tree under which the loom is placed, and the other by two other strings tied to the workman’s feet, which gives him a facility of removing the threads of the warp to throw the woof.” Sonnerat, Voyag. liv. iii. ch. viii.


“Perhaps their painted cloths are more indebted to the brilliancy of the colours, and the goodness of the water, than any skill of the artist, for that admiration with which they have been viewed.” Tennant’s Indian Recreations, i. 299. Chardin, who tells us how admirable the Persians are in the art of dyeing, adds that their excellence in this respect is principally owing to the exquisiteness of their colouring matters. Voyages en Perse, iii. 116.


Goguet, Origin of Laws, part ii. book ii. ch. ii. art. 1.


Ibid. “The linen manufactured by the Colchians was in high repute Some of it was curiously painted with figures of animals and flowers; and afterwards dyed like the linen of the Indians. And Herodotus tells us, that the whole was so deeply tinctured, that no washing could efface the colours. They accordingly exported it to various marts, as it was every where greatly sought after.” Bryant’s Anc. Mythol. v. 109. Herodotus, however, represents the people of whom he speaks, as in a state of great barbarity; μιξιν τε τ[Editor: illegible character]των των ανθρωπων ειναν εμφαανεα, καταπερ τοισι προβατοισι. Clio. cciii. The Chinese dye scarlet more exquisitely than any other nation. Lord Macartney says it arises “from their indefatigable care and pains, in washing, purifying, and grinding their colouring matters.” See Lord Macartney’s Journal, Barrow’s Life of Lord Macartney, ii. 516. The same expenditure of time and patience, commodities generally abounding in a rude state of society, are the true causes of both the fine dyeing and the fine weaving of the Hindus. Both Hindus and Chinese are indebted for all elegance of pattern to their European visitors.—Pour se qui est des arts mechaniques, celui ou les Persans excellent le plus, et ou ils nous surpassent peut-ètre, cest la teinture. Ils donnent à leurs étoffes des coulours plus vives, plus solides qu’on ne fait en Europe. Ils impriment cellos de coton et celles de soie avec une netteté et une tenacité surprenantes, soit qu’ils emploient des couleurs, soit qu’ils procédent avec des fuilles d’or et d’argent. Olivier, Voyage, &c. v. 303. Mr. Park informs us, that the negroes of Africa have carried the art of dyeing to great perfection. Travels in Africa, p. 281: see also his last Mission, p. 10. The arts in which the Hindus have any pretensions to skill are the very arts in which so rude a people as the Turks most excel. “Presque tous les arts sont dans l’enfance, ou sont ignorés chez eux, si nous en exceptons la teinture, la fabrication de diverses étoffes, celle des lames de sabre ct de couteau. Voyages dans l’Empire Ottoman, &c. par G. A. Olivier, i. 26.


“You frequently see a field, after one ploughing, appear as green as before; only a few scratches are perceptible, here and there, more resembling the digging of a mole, than the work of a plough.” Tennant’s Ind. Recr. ii. 78.


Ibid. 124, 275.


Tennant’s Ind. Recr. ii. 75. “You cannot, by any argument, prevail upon the listless owner to save his ears, his cattle, or his cart, by lubricating it with oil. Neither his industry, his invention, nor his purse, would admit of this, even though you could remove what is generally insurmountable—his veneration for ancient usage. If his forefathers drove a screeching hackery, posterity will not dare to violate the sanctity of custom by departing from their example. This is one instance of a thousand in which the inveterate prejudices of the Asiatics stand in the way of their improvement, and bid defiance equally to the exertions of the active, and the hopes of the benevolent.” Ibid. 76. This characteristic mark of a rude people, a blind opposition to innovation, is displayed by persons among ourselves, as if it was the highest mark of wisdom and virtue.—The waggon wheels are one piece of solid timber like a millstone. Tavernier, in Harris, i. 815.


Into Oude are imported a variety of articles of commerce from the northern mountains, gold, copper, lead, musk, cow-tails, honey, pomegranate seeds, grapes, dried ginger, pepper, red-wood, tincar, civet, zedoary, wax, woollen cloths, wooden ware, and various species of hawks, amber, rock-salt, assafœtida, glass toys. What is carried back is earthen ware. All this commerce is carried upon the backs of men, or horses and goats. Ayeen Akberry, ii. 33. Buchanan’s Journey, i. 205, 434. Capt. Hardwicke, Asiat. Res. vi. 330.


For this sketch of Hindu agriculture, the chief authorities are, a short treatise, entitled “Remarks on the Agriculture, &c. of Bengal;” Tennant’s Indian Recreations, particularly the second volume; and Dr. Buchanan’s Journey through Mysore, Canara, and Malabar. After describing the wretched state of agriculture in the neighbourhood of Seringapatam, Dr. Buchanan says; “I am afraid, however, that the reader, in perusing the foregoing accounts, will have formed an opinion of the native agriculture still more favourable than it deserves. I have been obliged to use the English words ploughings, weedings, and hoeings, to express operations somewhat similar, that are performed by the natives; and the frequent repetition of these, mentioned in the accounts taken from the cultivators, might induce the reader to imagine that the ground was well wrought, and kept remarkably clean. Quite the reverse, however, is the truth. Owing to the extreme imperfection of their implements, and want of strength in their cattle, a field, after six or eight ploughings, has numerous small bushes remaining as upright in it as before the labour, while the plough has not penetrated above three inches deep, and has turned over no part of the soil. ∗ ∗ ∗ The plough has neither coulter nor mould-board, to divide and to turn over the soil; and the handle gives the ploughman very little power to command its direction. The other instruments are equally imperfect, and are more rudely formed than it was possible for my draughtsman to represent.” Buchanan’s Journey through Mysore, &c. i. 126. In another place he says, “In every field there is more grass than corn. Notwithstanding the many ploughings, the fields are full of grass roots.” Ibid. p. 345. See also p. 15. Agriculture was almost universal among the American tribes. “Throughout all America, we scarcely meet with any nation of hunters, which does not practise some species of cultivation.” Robertson’s America, ii. 117. The agriculture of the Peruvians was apparently superior to that of the Hindus. Ibid. iii. 341.


Frezier (see his Voyage to the South Sea, p, 213, London edition, 1718) says, “The ancient Indians were extraordinary industrious in conveying the water of the rivers to their dwellings: there are still to be seen in many places aqueducts of earth and of dry stones, carried on and turned off very ingeniously along the sides of hills, with an infinite number of windings, which shows that those people, as unpolished as they were, very well understood the art of levelling.” There is something indicative of no little art in the floating gardens and fields which were on the lake of Mexico. (See the Description in Clavigero, Hist. Mex. book vii. sect. 27.) The cultivation of their fields, considering it was done by human, without the aid of animal labour, was remarkable, and their produce surprising. (Ibid. sect. 28.) The following passage from Garcilasso de la Vega deserves to be quoted as a monument of the labours of the Peruvians in agriculture: “They drained all wet moors and fens, for in that art they were excellent, as is apparent by their works which remain unto this day: And also they were very ingenious in making aqueducts for carrying water into dry and scorched lands.” (He explains how careful they were to water both their corn lands and pasture.) ∗ ∗ ∗ “After they had made a provision of water, the next thing was to dress, and cultivate and clear their fields of bushes and trees; and that they might with most advantage receive the water, they made them in a quadrangular form; those lands which were good on the side of hills, they levelled by certain alleys or walks which they made. To make these alleys they raised three walls of friezed stone, one before, and one of each side, somewhat inclining inwards, so that they may more securely bear and keep up the weight of the earth, which is pressed and rammed down by them, until it be raised to the height of the wall. Then next to this walk they made another, something shorter and less, kept up in the same manner with its wall; until at length they came to take in the whole hill, levelling it by degrees in fashion of a ladder, one alley above the other. Where the ground was stony, they gathered up the stones, and covered the barren soil with fresh earth to make their levels, that so no part of the ground might be lost. The first quadrangles were the largest, and as spacious as the situation of the place could bear, some being of that length and brendth as were capable to receive a hundred, some two hundred, or three hundred bushels of seed. Those of the second row were made narrower and shorter. ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ In some parts they brought the channels of water from fifteen or twenty leagues distance, though it were only to improve a slip of a few acres of land, which was esteemed good corn ground.” Royal Commentaries of Peru, part i. book v. ch. i. The Mercurio Peruano describes extensive works for irrigation among the Peruvians, of which the vestiges are still to be seen. Mercur. Peruana, viii. 38. Acosta tells us, (Nat. and Mor. Hist. book iii. ch. xviii.) “The Indians do draw from these floods, that run from the mountains to the valleys and plains, many and great brooks to water their lands, which they usually do with such industry, as there are no better in Murcia, nor at Millan itself, the which is also the greatest and only wealth of the plains of Peru, and of many other parts of the Indies.”


Sonnerat, Voyag. liv. iii. ch. viii; Tennant’s Ind. Recr. i. 302. The country of the Seiks, a people confessedly barbarous, a well-informed author, Francklin, in his Memoirs of George Thomas, p. 65, 66, informs us, is highly cultivated, and their arts and manufactures are on a level with those of any other part of India. Les Tartares du Daghestan ont une coutume qu’ils observent soigneusement; sçavoir, que personne ne peut se marier chez eux, avant que d’avoir, planté en uu endroit marqué cent arbres fruitiers; ensorte qu’on trouve partout dans les montaignes du Daghestan de grandes forets d’arbres fruitiers. (Hist. Geneal. de Turtars, p. 313.) Zoroaster made the duties of agriculture part of his religion. “To sow grain with purity, is to fulfil the whole extent of the law of the Mazdeiesnans.” (Anquetil Zendav. ii. 610.) The Heruli, and Lombards, in their native wilds, cultivated flax, “which supposes,” says Gibbon, “property, agriculture, manufactures, and commerce.” (Gibbon, vii. 276.)


Exod. ch. xxviii. “I look upon engraving on fine stones,” says Goguet, (Origin of Laws, part ii. book ii. ch. ii. art. 3) “as the most remarkable evidence of the rapid progress of the arts in some countries. This work supposes a number of discoveries, much knowledge, and much experience.” He adds in a note, “It must be agreed, that the ancient Peruvians, whose monarchy had not subsisted above three hundred and fifty years, understood perfectly well the working of precious stones. (Hist. Gen. des Voyages, xiii. 578.)” Ibid.


Claverigo, Hist. of Mexico, book vii. sect. 51. Even the most rude of the American tribes seem not to have been without some knowledge of the art of working the precious stones. M. de la Condamine, speaking of the green stones, found in some places bordering on the Amazons River in South America, says (Voyage dans l’Interieur de l’Amerique Meridionale, p. 138), “La verité est qu’elles ne different, ni en couleur, in en dureté, du Jade Oriental; elles resistent a la lime, et on n’imagine pas par quel artifice les anciens Americains ont pu les tailler, et leur donner diverses figures d’ammaux, sans fer ni acier."—In the same place, he mentions another phenomenon of the art of the ancient Americans. “Ce sont,” says he, “des Emeraudes arroudies, polies, et percées de deux trous coniques, diametralement opposés sur un axe common, telles qu’on en trouve encore aujourd’hui au Perou sur les bords de la Riviere de St. Jago, dans la province d’Esmeraldas, a quarante lieues de Quito, avec divers autres monumens de l’industrie de ses anciens habitans.” The Persians of the present day are eminent lapidaries. Chardin, Voy. en Perse, iii. 115.—Olivier says, “Ils taillent assez bien les pierres precieuses, et les montent avec assez de gout. Olivier, Voy. &c. v. 304, &c. “At this place I had an opportunity of seeing their mode of smelting gold. Isaaco had purchased some gold in coming through Konkodoo, and here he had made it into a large ring. The smith made a crucible of common red clay, and dried it in the sun. Into this he put the gold, without any flux or mixture whatever. He then put charcoal under it and over it; and blowing the fire with the common bellows of the country, soon produced such a heat as to bring the gold into a state of fusion. He then made a small furrow in the ground, into which he poured the melted gold. When it was cold he took it up, and, heating it again soon hammered it into a square bar. Then heating it again he twisted it by means of two pair of pincers into a sort of screw, and, lengthening out the ends, turned them up, so as to perform a massy and precious ring.” Mungo Park’s Last Mission to Africa, p. 78.


Acosta, Nat. and Mor. Hist. of the Indies, book vi. chap. viii.


Forster’s Travels, ii. 282.—Les habitans de Kamschatka, d’une stupidité sans egale à certains égards, sont à d’autres d’une industrie merveilleuse. S’agit-il de se faire des vêtemens? leur addresse en ce genre, dit leur Historien, surpasse celle des Européens. Helvetius, de l’Homme, i. 304.—"In general, the ingenuity of all their (the Otaheitans’) works, considering the tools they possess, is marvellous. Their cloth, clubs, fishing implements, canoes, houses, all display great skill; their mourning dresses, their war head-dress and breast-plates, show remarkable taste; their adjustment of the different parts, the exact symmetry, the nicety of the joining, are admirable: and it is astonishing how they can, with such ease and quickness, drill holes in a pearl-shell with a shark’s tooth, and so fine as not to admit the point of a common pin.” Missionary Voyage, p. 330. Observe the same remarkable coincidence in patience, rudeness of tools, and neatness of execution, in the following description by Robertson of the state of the arts in Mexico. “The functions of the mason, the weaver, the goldsmith, the painter, and of several other crafts, were carried on by different persons. Each was regularly instructed in his calling. To it alone his industry was confined; and, by assiduous application to one object, together with the persevering patience peculiar to Americans, their artisans attained to a degree of neatness and perfection in work, far beyond what could have been expected from the rude tools which they employed. Their various productions were brought into commerce; and by the exchange of them in the stated markets held in the cities, not only were their mutual wants supplied, in such orderly intercourse as characterizes an improved state of society, but their industry was daily rendered persevering and inventive.” Robertson’s Hist. of America, iii. 286. Voltaire has a passage on this subject which shows philosophical discernment. “Il-y-a dans l’homme un instinct de mechanique que nous voyons produire tous les jours de très grands effets, dans des hommes fort grossiers. On voit des machines inventées par les habitans des montagnes du Tirol et des Vosges, qui etonnent les savans.” Voltaire, Essai sur les Mœurs et l’Esprit des Nations, Introd. p. 32.


Crauford’s Sketches, p. 328, 1st ed.


Sonnerat, Voy. liv. iii. chap. viii. “The Indian carpenter knows no other tools than the plane, the chisel, the wimple, a hammer, and a kind of hatchet. The earth serves him for a bench, and his foot for a holdfast. He is a month in performing what our workman will do in three days. Even after instruction he will not adopt our method of sawing. Placing his wood between two beams fixed in the ground, and sitting on a bench, a man employs three days, with one saw, to make a plank, which would cost our people an hour’s work.” Ibid. Among the Birmans the state of the more necessary and useful arts seems to be fully as much advanced as among the Hindus: in not a few cases more so. (See Mr. Syme’s Embassy to Ava.) The waggons more neat and commodious than the clumsy gauries or carts of India.


Forster’s Travels, i. 25. “Their artificers,” says Stavorinus, “work with so little apparatus, and so few instruments, that an European would be astonished at their neatness and expedition. Stavorinus, Voy. p. 412. See to the same purpose, Tennant, Indian Recreations, i. 301, 302, 303.


Fryer’s Travels, let. iii. chap. iii. They cut diamonds, he says, with a mill turned by men, the string reaching, in manner of our cutler’s wheels, to lesser that are in a flat press, where under steel wheels diamonds are fastened, and with its own bort are worn into what cut the artist pleases. Ibid.


The blacksmith goes from place to place carrying his tools with him. Beside his forge and his little furnace, a stone serves for an anvil, and his whole apparatus consists of a pair of pincers, a hammer, a mallet, and a file. They have not attained the art of polishing gold and silver, or of working gold in different colours. The goldsmith goes about with his tools, like the blacksmith. Sonnerat, Voy. hv. iii. chap. viii. The workmen in gold and silver are frequently only little boys, who sit every day in the bazaar or market waiting till they are called, when they go to your house, with their implements in a little basket, consisting of a very small anvil, a hammer, a pair of bellows, a few files, and a pair of pincers; a chaffing dish, or pan of embers, is then given to him with a model of what is to be made, and the material. He then sets about his work in the open air, and performs it with dispatch and ingenuity. Other tradesmen go to your home in the same manner, the shoemaker and tailor. Stavorinus, Voy. p. 412. It is remarkable how exactly this description of the state of the arts among the Hindus tallies with that among the Persians. Chardin informs us that every where in Persia, the artisans of all descriptions go to work in the houses of those who employ them—that they perform their work with the poorest apparatus, and, comparing the tools with the work, to a surprising degree of perfection. Chardin, Voy. en Perse, iii. 98.


Forster’s Travels, i. 80.


Bartolomeo’s Travels, book i. chap. vii.


Rennel’s Memoir, p. xxii.


Sonnerat, Voy. liv. iii. ch. viii.


Hodges’ Travels in India. Mr. Hodges says, “I am concerned I cannot pay so high a compliment to the art of sculpture among the Hindoos as is usually paid by many ingenious authors who write on the religion of Bramah. Considering these works, as I do, with the eyes of an artist, they are only to be paralleled with the rude essays of the ingenious Indians, I have met with in Otaheite, and on other islands in the South Seas:” p. 26. He adds in the next page, that in point of carving, that is, the mere mechanical part, the ornaments in the Hindu temples are often beautiful. In another passage, too, p. 151, he speaks again of the same mechanical nicety, the peculiar sharpness of the cut in Hindu carvings. See to the same purpose, Tennant’s Indian Recr. i. 299.


Buchanan, Journey through Mysore, &c. iii. 391.


Clavigero, Hist. Mex. book vii. sect. 50. He adds, “The works of gold and silver sent in presents from the conqueror Cortez to Charles V. filled the goldsmiths of Europe with astonishment, who, as several authors of that period attest, declared that they were altogether inimitable. The Mexican founders made, both of gold and silver, the most perfect images of natural bodies. They made a fish in this manner, which had its scales, alternately, the one of silver and the other of gold, a parrot with a moveable head, tongue, and wings, and an ape with a moveable head and feet, having a spindle in its hand in the attitude of spinning.” Ibid. Garcilasso tells us, “that the Peruvians framed many figures of men and women, of birds of the air, and fishes of the sea; likewise of fierce animals, such as tigers, lions and bears, foxes, dogs, cats; in short, all creatures whatsoever known amongst them, they cast and moulded into true and natural figures of the same shape and form of those creatures which they represented. They counterfeited the plants and wall-flowers so well, that being on the walls they seemed to be natural; the creatures which were shaped on the walls, such as lizards, butterflies, snakes, and serpents, some crawling up and some down, were so artificially done, that they seemed natural, and wanted nothing but motion.” (Book vi. Chap. i.)


Tennant’s Ind. Rec. i. 299.


Dr. Tennant, at the place cited above, supports his own authority, by quoting the following passage of Sonnerat: “La peinture chez les Indiens est, et sera toujours, dans l’enfance; ils trouvent admirable un tableau chargé de rouge et de bleu, et dont les personages sont vêtus d’or. Ils n’entendent point le clair obscur, n’arrondissent jamais les objets, et ne savent pas les mettre en perspective; en un mot, leurs meilleures peintures ne sont que de mauvaises enlumineures.” (Voyages aux Indes, i. 99.) The Indian pictures, says Mandelsloe, are more remarkable for their diversity of colours, than any exactness of proportion. Harris’ Collect. of Voy. i. How exactly does this correspond with the description which Chardin gives us of the state of the same art among the Persians? En Perse les arts, tant liberaux que mechaniques, sont en general prêsque tous rudes et bruts, en comparaison de la perfection ou l’Europe les a portés...... Ils entendent for mal le dessein, ne sachant rien faire au naturel; et ils n’ont aucune connoissance de la perspective....... Pour ce que de la platte-peinture, il est vrai que es visages qu’ils representent sont assez ressemblans; ils les tirent d’ordinaire de profil, parce que ce sont ceux qu’ils font le plus aisément; ils les font aussi de trois quarts: mais pour les visages en plain ou de front, ils y reussissent fort mal, n’entendant pas à y donner les ombres. Ils ne sauroient former une attitude et une posture............. Leur pinceau est fin et delicat, et leur peinture vive et eclatante. Il faut attribuer à l’air du pays la beauté des couleurs. Voy, en Perse, iii. 284. La peinture est encore au berceau: les Persans n’ont fait aucun progrès dans cet art...... En general, leur manière de faire ressemble un peu à celle des Chinois: leur dessin est tres incorrect; ils ne connaissent pas la perspective: ils ne savent pas employer les ombres...... Cependant on voit sortir de leurs mains des ouvrages assez jolis; ils peignent assez bien les fleurs et les oiseaux de fantaisie; ils reussissent dans les arabesques; ils emploient tres bien l’or; ils font de tres beaux vernix..........Les couleurs que les Persans emploient, et qu’ils font eux-mêmes, ont tout l’éclat, toute la solidité, qu’on peut desirer. Ce sont eux qui nous ont fait connaître l’outremir. (Olivier, Voyage, v. 301.) It is remarkable to find the state of the fine arts in China so exactly the same. “Quoique les Chinois ayent une passion extraordinaire pour tous les ouvrages de peinture, et que leurs temples en soient ornez, on ne peut rien voire neanmoins de plus borné et de moins regulier. Ils ne scavent point menager les ombres d’un tableau, ni meler ou adoucir les couleurs........Ils ne sont pas plus heureux dans a sculpture, et ils n’y observent ni ordre, ni proportions. (Le Gentil. Voyage, ii. 111.) The painting of the Mexicans seems to have had the same perfections and imperfections with that of these eastern nations. The colours, Robertson (iii. 278) informs us, were remarkably bright, but laid on without any art, and without any regard to light and shade, or the rules of perspective. Clavigero, though the skill of the Mexicans in painting is not one of the points for which he most highly admires them, says, “We have seen, among the ancient paintings, many portraits of the kings of Mexico, in which, besides the singular beauty of the colours, the proportions were most accurately observed.” (Hist. Mex. book vii. sect. 49.) “Les Mexicains,” says Humboldt, “ont conservé un goῦt particulier pour la peinture et pour l’art de sculpter en pierre et en bois. On est étonné de voir ce qu’ils executent avec un mauvais couteau, et sur les bois les plus durs...... Ils montrent beaucoup d’aptitude pour l’exercise des arts d’imitation; ils en deploient une plus grande encore pour les arts purement mecaniques. Cette aptitude deviendra un jour tres precieuse, &c.” Humboldt, Essai Politique sur le Royaume de la Nouvelle Espagne, p. 9.


Indian Rec. i. 300.—Ces peuples n’ont aucune idee des accords. Leur chant commence par un bourdonnement sourd et fort has, apres lequel ils eclatent. Anquetil Duperron, Voyage aux Indes Orientales, Zendavesta, i. xxvi. Even Sonnerat himself informs us, that their music is bad, and their songs destitute of harmony. Voyages aux Indes, liv. iii. chap. viii.


Motte’s Journey to Orissa, (Asiat. An. Regist. i. Miscellaneous Tracts, p. 77.) “Their ideas of music, if we may judge from their practice, are barbarous.” Orme’s Hist. Milit. Trans. i. 3. The following passage from Garcilasso de la Vega is an important document in the history of music. It exhibits more nakedly the fact respecting its origin, than, perhaps, any other written monument; and it proves at the same time the power of expression which the art had attained. “In music,” says he, “the Peruvians arrived to a certain harmony in which the Indians of Colla did more particularly excel, having been the inventors of a certain pipe made of canes glued together, every one of which having a different note of higher and lower, in the manner of organs, made a pleasing music by the dissonancy of sounds, the treble tenor, and basse, exactly corresponding, and answering to each other; with these pipes they often played in concert.... They had also other pipes, which were flutes with four or five stops, like the pipes of shepherds; with these they played not in concert, but singly, and tuned them to sonnets, which they composed in metre, the subject of which was love, and the passions which arise from the favours or displeasures of a mistress..... Every song was set to its proper tune; for two songs of different subjects could not correspond with the same air, by reason that the music which the gallant made on his flute was designed to express the satisfaction or discontent of his mind, which were not so intelligible, perhaps by the words, as by the melancholy or cheerfulness of the tune which he played. A certain Spaniard, one night late, encountered an Indian woman in the streets of Cozco, and would have brought her back to his lodgings; but she cried out, ‘For God’s sake, sir, let me go, for that pipe which you hear in yonder tower calls me with great passion, and I cannot refuse the summons; for love constrains me to go, that I may be his wife, and he my husband.’ The songs which they composed of their wars, and grand achievements, were never set to the airs of their flute, being too grave and serious be intermixed with the pleasures and softness of love; for these were only sung at their principal festivals when they commemorated their victories and triumphs.” Royal Comment. book ii. ch. xiv. “The accounts of twenty-two centuries ago represent the Indians as a people who stood very high in point of civilization: but to judge from their ancient monuments, they had not carried the imitative arts to any thing like the degree of perfection attained by the Greeks and Romans; or even by the Egyptians. Both the Hindoos and the Chinese appear to have carried the arts just to the point requisite for useful purposes; but never to have approached the summit of perfection, as it respects taste or boldness of design.” Rennel’s Memoir, Introd. p. xxii. Our latest informants are the most intelligent. Mr. Ward (Introd. p. lxii.) assures us, “whatever may have been the case in other countries, idolatry in this has certainly not contributed to carry the arts of painting or sculpture to any perfection. The Abbé Dubois (p. 463) observes, “that the ornamental arts, such as painting, instrumental music, and the like, are extremely low in estimation. Hardly any but the low tribe of the Mushiers exercise the first of these; and music is nearly confined to the barbers and Pariahs; instrumental music wholly so. The small encouragement these two arts receive is, no doubt, owing to the little progress they have made. In painting, nothing can be seen but mere daubing, set off with bright colours and extravagant glare. And though all Hindus are great lovers of music, introducing it into all their civil and religious ceremonies, yet I can vouch that it is still in its infancy.”


Royal Comment. part ii. book ii. chap. xxx. Frezier (Voyage to the South Sea, p. 263) says of the same people, “They have a genius for arts, and are good at imitating what they see, but very poor at invention.”


See the Discourse, Asiatic Researches, i. 429. “Invented apologues!” as well might he tell us they invented language. And the “decimal scale!“ as if they were the only nation that had ten fingers! or, as if most nations had not been led, by the simple and very natural process of counting by the fingers, to denominate and distinguish numbers by comparison with that sum! The Scandinavians, Mallet informs us, counted up the unities to twelve, and denominated higher numbers by comparison with twelve, which, he justly remarks, is preferable to ten, as being more divisible into fractions. Mallet, Introd. Hist. Denmark, vol. i. chap. xiii. The Swedes and Icelanders, as well as Scotch, retain a memorial of this in their great hundred. From Mr. Park we learn that some of the negro tribes in Africa counted only five, the number of fingers on one of the hands, and then doubled; thus, instead of six, they said five and one; seven, five and two, &c. Park’s Travels in Africa, p. 17.


Molina, Civil Hist. of Chili, book ii. chap. x. The Persians claim the invention of this game; and as their game is radically different from that of the Hindus, it is probable they are both inventions. See Chardin, Voy. en Perse, iii. 62. Gibbon, vii. 276, marks a fact in the narrative of Paul Diaconus, expressive of the manners of the Heruli: Dum ad tabulam luderet, while he played at draughts, says Gibbon; but he might as well have said chess; for the word as much expresses the one as the other: And we know that, among the Scandinavians, a game very closely resembling chess was known. The ancient chronicles of the Scandinavians frequently present us with young warrions endeavouring to acquire the good opinion of their mistresses by boasting of their accomplishments, such as their skill at chess, their dexterity in swimming and skating, their talents in poetry, and their knowing all the stars by their names. Mallet, Introd. Hist. Denmark, chap. xiii. Mr. Barrow informs us that the chess of the Chinese is totally different from that both of the Hindus and Persians. Travels in China, p. 158. It has been therefore probably, in each of those cases, a separate invention. The idea that chess was invented by the Hindus was, we believe, first started by Hyde (de Relig. Vet. Pers. ii. 1.), and thereafter it has been taken for granted. The curious reader may see an interesting description of a game at chess by four Brahmens, in Moor’s Hist. of Capt. Little’s Detachment, p. 139. That there are books in India containing the doctrine of chess proves nothing. There are books in Ice-landic, on the art of poetry, but the Icelanders were not the inventors of poetry.


“Buchanan’s Journey through Mysore, &c. iii. 370. Dr. Tennant says; “Before the arrival of the Europeans, there was not a house in all India furnished with glass windows; even at present, when glass is so common here, I believe none of the natives have availed themselves of so obvious a remedy. Glass is considered by the Europeans as an indispensable requisite in the construction of every Bungalow at the upper stations: they have even introduced the use of it into the camp. Several officers carry, on their march, a frame of glass, which they fix in the windward door of their tents, during the hot winds, should the service call them into the field at that season.” Indian Recreations, i. 325. See, too, Voyage aux Indes, par le P. Paulini, ii. 403, 404. The Jews first discovered the art of making glass. Taciti Hist. lib. v. cap. vii.; Plin. lib. v. cap. xix; also lib. xxxvi. cap. xxvi.; Strabo, lib. xvi.; Josephus, Wars of the Jews, ii. 19. The Hindus seem to be considerably behind the perfection which the Japanese have attained in the useful arts. “As to all sorts of handicrafts,” says Kæmpfer, “either curious or useful, they are so far from having occasion for masters, that they rather exceed all other nations in ingenuity and neatness of workmanship, particularly in brass, gold, silver, copper. What skill they have in working and tempering of iron, is evident by the goodness and neatness of their arms. No nation in the East is so dextrous and ingenious, in making, carving, graving, gilding of servaas, which is a particular kind of a precious, blackish metal, made artificially of a mixture of copper with a little gold. They weave silken stuff so fine, so neat and equal, that they are inimitable even to the Chinese.” Kæmpfer, Hist. of Japan, Appendix, p. 62.


Works of Sir W. Jones, Discourse on the Chinese.


“It was long before mankind knew the art of writing; but they very early invented several methods to supply, in a good measure, that want. The method most commonly used was, to compose their histories in verse, and sing them. Legislators made use of this expedient to consign and hand down to posterity their regulations. The first laws of all nations were composed in verse, and sung. Apollo, according to a very ancient tradition, was one of the first legislators. The same tradition says, that he published his laws to the sound of his lyre, that is to say, that he had set them to music. We have certain proof that the first laws of Greece were a kind of songs. The laws of the ancient inhubitants of Spain were verses which they sung. Tuiston was regarded by the Germans as their first lawgiver. They said he put his laws into verses and songs. This ancient custom was long kept up by several nations.” Goguet’s Origin of Laws, i. 28. See the various authorities there quoted. The laws of the Druids were in verse. Henry, Hist. of Great Britain, i. 315.


“Le Dictionnaire Amarasinha est ecrit en vers Sanscrit, comme tous les anciens livres, et n’est pas divisé par chapitres comme les notres, mais par classes de noms....ainsi....classe Svarggavargga, c’est à dire classe des noms qui appartiennent au ciel; Manouchavargga, de ceux qui appartiennent à l’homme,” &c. Voyage aux Indes Orientales, par le P. Paulini, ii. 228. “Presque tous les livres Indiens sont ecrits en vers. L’astronomie, la medicine, l’histoire, tout se chante.” Ibid. p. 369. The same was the case with the ancient Germans; “Celebrant carminibus antiquis, quod unum apud illos memoriæ et annalium genus est, Tuistonem,” &c. Tacit. de Mor. Germ. cap. x.


Even Mr. Maurice, whose appetite for Hindu miracles is not easily overcome, could not digest the beauties of their historic muse. After an exhibition of some of these specimens in his history, he says, “I know not whether some of my readers may not be so insensible to the charms of the Indian historic muse as to rejoice that the Ramayan (only passages of it were then in an English dress) has not been translated; for certainly inflated accounts of the combats of giants, hurling rocks, and darting serpents at one another, and of monsters whose blood, spouting forth in torrents, is formed into considerable rivers, are not very consistent with the sober and dignified page of history.” Maurice, Hist. of Hindustan, ii. 100. “To the above list of absurdities we may add monsters with ten heads and a hundred hands, which continue to fight after all their heads are cut off, and mow down whole battalions.” Ibid. p. 248. “The minute accounts of incantations and combats of giants, that fill the Indian legends, however they may astonish the oriental literati, have no charm for the polished scholar of western climes, and are justly consigned to puerile reading.” Ibid. p. 251. Yet Sir William Jones could say, “The first poet of the Hindus was the great Valmic; and his Ramayan is an epic poem on the story of Rama (or rather of the three Ramas,) which in unity of action, magnificence of imagery, and elegance of style, far surpasses the learned and elaborate work of Nonnus.” See Asiat. Res. i. 258. We strongly suspect that Sir William Jones never read the poem; or more of it than scraps.


Of the Song of Solomon Voltaire, notwithstanding all his prejudices against the Jews, confesses “Après tout, ce cantique est un morceau precieux de l’antiquité. C’est le seul livre d’amour qui nous soit resté des Hebreux. Il y est souvent parlé de jouissance. C’est une eglogue Juive. Le style est comme celui de tous les ouvrages d’eloquence des Hebreux, sans haison, sans suite, plein de repetitions, confus, ridiculement metaphorique; mais il y a des endroits qui respirent la naïveté et l’amour. Voltaire, Diction. Philos. Mot Solomon. The criticism would in most respects exactly suit Sacontala.


Preface to Sir William Jones’s Translation of Sacontala.


The conformities in their religious system have already been remarked. All their doctrines, their narratives, and even the laws of which they were the promulgators, were delivered in verse. “They had made considerable progress,” says Dr. Henry, “in several branches of learning. We shall be confirmed in this,” he adds, “by observing the respectful terms in which the best Greek and Roman writers speak of their learning. Diogenes Laertius places them in the same rank, in point of ‘earning and philosophy, with the Chaldeans of Assyria, the Magi of Persia, and the gymnosophists and Brachmans of India. Both Cæsar and Mela observe, that they had formed very large systems of astronomy and natural philosophy; and that these systems, together with their observations on other parts of learning, were so voluminous, that their scholars spent no less than twenty years in making themselves masters of them, and in getting by heart that infinite multitude of verses in which they were contained.” Henry’s Hist. of Great Britain, ii. 5, and i. 153.


Preface to Sacontala.


“Wretched dramas,” Lord Macartney calls them. Barrow’s Life of Lord Macartney, ii. 286.

Garcilasso de la Vega, on the subject of the ancient Peruvians, says, “The Amautas, who were men of the best ingenuity among them, invented comedies and tragedies, which in their solemn festivals they represented before their king and the lords of his court.—The plot or argument of their tragedies was to represent their military exploits, and the triumphs, victories, and heroic actions of their renowned men.” Royal Commentaries of Peru, book ii. chap xv.

“Dramatic as well as lyric poetry,” says Clavigero, “was greatly in repute among the Mexicans.” He then describes their theatres, and adds, “Boturini says, that the Mexican comedies were excellent.” Clavigero, Hist. of Mexico, book vii. sect. 43. Carli (Lettres Americaines, i. 296) says, “Mais que direz vous si je vous assure que les Peruviens jouoient des comedies pendant ces fêtes, et qu’ils aimoient passionément ce plaisir. Cela est cependent vrai. La comedie faisoit donc un des plaisirs du Peru; mais la tragédie etoit préférée à Tlascala, dont le peuple etoit republicain. Chez un peuple independant on se plait à produire les tyrans sur la scene pour en inspirer la traine à la generation actuelle, qui la transmet à la suivante........... Mais on a aussi remarqué ce gout du théatre chez plusieurs peuples des iles du Sud.” But an art which is known to the islanders of the South Sea, is not a proof of high civilization. The people in the Birman empire are fond of dramatic entertainments; but these entertainments among them are very rude. Dr. Buchanan, Asiat. Res. vi. 305.


“The poets of the north” (to use the words of Dr. Henry) “were particularly famous in this period, and greatly caressed by our Angle-Saxon kings. ‘It would be endless,’ (says an excellent antiquary) ‘to name all the poets of the north who flourished in the courts of the kings of England, or to relate the distinguished honours and magnificent presents that were heaped upon them.’ The same writer hath preserved the names of no fewer than eight of those Danish, Norwegian, and Icelandic poets, who flourished in the Court of Canute the Great.—The poems of those ancient bards of the north are said to have produced the most amazing effects on those who heard them, and to have roused or soothed the most impetuous passions of the human mind. Revenga, it is well known, rages with the greatest violence in the hearts of warlike, fierce barbarians, and is of all their passions the most furious and ungovernable; and yet it is said to have been subdued by the enchauting power of poetry. Egil-Skallagrim, a famous poet of those times, had quarrelled with Eric Blodox, King of Norway; and in the course of that quarrel had killed the King’s son and several of his friends; which raised the rage of Eric against him to the greatest height. Egil was taken prisoner, and sent to the King, who was then in Northumberland. No sooner was he brought into the presence of the enraged Monarch, who had in his own mind doomed him to the most cruel tortures, than he began to sing a poem which he had composed in praise of his royal virtues, and conveyed his flattery in such sweet and soothing strains, that they procured him not only the forgiveness of all his crimes, but even the favour of his prince. The power of poetry is thus described in one of their most ancient odes: ‘I know a song by which I soften and enchant the arms of my enemies, and render their weapons of none effect. I know a song which I need only to sing when men have loaded me with bonds; for the moment I sing it my chains fall in pieces, and I walk forth at liberty. I know a song useful to all mankind; for as soon as hatred inflames the sons of men, the moment I sing it, they are appeased. I know a song of such virtue, that, were I caught in a storm, I can hush the winds, and render the air perfectly calm.’—Those ancient bards, who had acquired so great an ascendaut over the minds of their ferocious countrymen, must certainly have been possessed of an uncommon portion of that poetic fire, which is the gift of nature, and cannot be acquired by art.”—Henry’s Hist. of Great Britain, book ii. chap. v.


Mallet, Introd. Hist. Denmark, i. 13. The following is a very soft but correct delineation of the rude features of Hindu poetry. “The poetical expression of the Hindus perhaps offends by too great loftiness and emphasis. One may understand their books and conversation in prose; but it is impossible to comprehend those in verse, until diligent study has rendered them familiar. Quaint phrases, perpetual allegories, the poetical terminations of the words, contracted expressions and the like, render the poetical style obscure and difficult to be understood, excepting to those who are inured to it. One of the principal defects of the Hindu poets is that their descriptions are commonly too long and minute. For example, if they are describing a beautiful woman, they are never contented with drawing her likeness with a single stroke.........Such a mode of expression would not be strong enough for the gross comprehension of a Hindu. The poet must particularize the beauty of her eyes, her forehead, her nose, her cheeks, and must expatiate on the colour of her skin, and the manner in which she adorns every part of her body. He will describe the turn and proportion of her arms, legs, thighs, shoulders, chest, and in a word of all parts visible or invisible; with an accurate recital of the shape and form which best indicate their beauty and symmetry. He will never desist from his colouring till he has represented in detail every feature and part in the most laboured and tedious style, but at the same time with the closest resemblance. The epithets, in their poetical style, are frequent, and almost always figurative.—The brevity and conciseness of many modes of expression in the Hindu idioms does not hinder their style, upon the whole, from being extremely diffuse.—To give an exact idea of the different species of Hindu poesy would not be much relished by the greater number of readers, so different in their manner from ours. All their little pieces that I have seen are in general very flat.” Description, &c. of the People of India, by the Abbé Dubois, p. 267.


Mallet, ut supra. In the very subjects of their poems, as well as the style of them, the Scandinavian bards bore a great resemblance to the Hindu. Of the poetry of the Scalds, Mallet says, Ibid. ii. 183, “The same taste and mode of composition prevails every where: we have constantly allegories and combats; giants contending with the gods; Loke perpetually deceiving them; Thor interposing in their defence, &c.” The Scandinavians had not only striking poems, but treatises on the art of poetry. Id. Introduction to the Edda, p. xix. Clavigero says of the Mexicans, “The language of their poetry was brilliant, pure, and agreeable, figurative, and embellished with frequent comparisons to the most pleasing objects in nature, such as flowers, trees, rivers, &c.” Hist. of Mex. book vii. sect. 42.


The words of Sir William Jones are: Nobilissimum interea, et longissimum (voluminis enim permagni, prope dimidiam partem constituit) est sine ulla dubitatione vere epicum, et profecto nullum est ab Europeis scriptum poema, quod ad Homeri dignitatem, et quasi cœlestem ardorem propius accedat.” Works, ii. 502.


Tour to Sheeraz, by Ed. Scott Waring, pp. 158, 159, 160, 198.


Ibid. p. 150. The author adds, “I shall give one instance from an immense number, of the forced images of Persian historians; it would be disgusting to the reader to produce others:"—a style of which more than one instance would disgust must be a bad style indeed.—"Nous savons assez,” says Voltaire, “que le bon gout n’a jamais été connu dans l’Orient.—Otez aux Arabes, aux Persans, aux Juifs, le soleil et la lune, les montagnes et les vallées, les dragons et les basilics, il ne leur reste presque plus de poesie.” Voltaire, Essai sur les Mœurs et l’Esprit de Nations, tom. i. ch. v.


Tour to Sheeraz, ut supra, p. 235. To the imagination of the eastern poets, and above all, of the Hindus, may be aptly applied, in many of its particulars, the description of the Demoness, Imagination, in the enchanted castle of Hermaphrodix:

  • Sous les grands ares—d’ un immense portique,
  • A mas confus de moderne et d’antique,
  • Se promenoit un fantôme brillant,
  • Au pied leger, à l’œil etincelant,
  • Au geste vif, à la marche egarée,
  • La tête hante, et de clinquans parée.
  • On voit son corps toujours en action,
  • Et son nom est l’Imagination,
  • Non cette belle et charmante déesse
  • Qui présida dans Rome et dans la Gréce,
  • Aux beaux travaux de tant de grands auteurs,
  • Qui repandit l’eclat de ses couleurs;
  • Mais celle-la qu’ubjure le bon sens,
  • Cette etourdie, effarée, insipide,
  • Que tant d’auteurs approchent de si près.
  • . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  • Près d’elle étoit le Galimatias,
  • Monstre bavard caressé dans ses bras.

La Pucelle d’Orleans, Chant 17 me.

Gibbon well denominates the Koran, “an endless incoherent rhapsody of fable, and precept, and declamation, which seldom excites a sentiment or an idea, which sometimes crawls in the dust, and is sometimes lost in the clouds.” Chap. 1. p. 269. Yet it is a superior composition to any work among the Hindus.


Wilford, on Egypt and the Nile, Asiat. Res. iii. 296.


Rennel’s Memoir, Introd. p. xl.


“That no Hindu nation, but the Cashmirians, have left us regular histories,” says Sir W. Jones, “in their ancient language, we must ever lament.” Asiat. Res. iv. xvii. What he meant by excepting the Cashmirians, we know not. No history of them has ever been seen. “Although we have had recourse,” says Dr. Tennant, “to the Sanscrit records at Benares for several years, no history of the country has been found, which is the composition of a native.” Ind. Rec. i. 10. “Their poets,” says Mr. W. Chambers, “seem to have been their only historians as well as divines; and whatever they relate is wrapped up in this burlesque garb, set off, by way of ornament, with circumstances highly incredible and absurd, and all this without any date, and in no order or method, than such as the poet’s fancy suggested and found most convenient. Asiat. Res. i. 157. Such is the character of the Puranas, from which Mr. Wilford has exerted himself with such a waste of labour and credulity to extract some scattered fragments of history; or rather something, it is difficult to say what, on which some few historical inferences might be founded. “The department of ancient history in the East is so deformed by fable and anachronism, that it may be considered an absolute blank in Indian literature.” Wilks’s Mysore, Pref. p. xv. Mr. Dow’s prejudices went far: “We must not,” says he, (Preface to his Hist. of Hindostan) “with Ferishta, consider the Hindoos as destitute of genuine domestic annals, or that those voluminous records they possess are mere legends framed by the Bramins.” Yet it has been found that all which Ferishta said was true, and all that Col. Dow believed was false.—"Seriously speaking, the turn and bent of the imagination of the people of India are such, that they can in no wise be excited but by what is monstrous. Ordinary occurrences make no impression upon them at all. Their attention cannot be gained without the introduction of giants and pygmies. The Brahmans, therefore, having studied this propensity, availed themselves of it to invent a religious worship, which they artfully interwove with their own private interests.—This passion of the Hindus for the extraordinary and the wonderful must have been remarked by every one who has ever so little studied their character. It continually leads to the observation I have so frequently repeated, that as often as it was necessary to move their gross imagination, some circumstance, altogether extravagant, but coloured with the hue of truth, was required to be added to the simplicity of narrative or fact. To give them any idea of the marvellous, something must be invented that will overturn, or at least alter the whole order of nature. The miracles of the Christian religion, however extraordinary they must appear to a common understanding, are by no means so to the Hindus. Upon them they have no effect. The exploits of Joshua and his army, and the prodigies they effected by the interposition of God, in the conquest of the land of Canaan, seem to them unworthy of notice, when compared with the achievements of their own Rama, and the miracles which attended his progress when he subjected Ceylon to his yoke. The mighty strength of Samson dwindles into nothing, when opposed to the overwhelming energy of Bali, of Ravana, and the giants. The resurrection of Lazarus itself is, in their eyes, an ordinary event, of which they see frequent examples, in the Vishnu ceremonies of the Paheahdam.—I particularize these examples, because they have been actually opposed to me more than once by Brahmans, in my disputations with them on religion.” Abbé Dubois, p. 421.


Such is the opinion of some of the best Sanscrit scholars; for example, of Mr Wilkins. The same idea is encouraged by Sir William Jones, Asiat. Res. ii. 135. The good sense of Major Rennel rejected at an early period the notion of their historical truth. “The Mahabarat....supposed to contain a large portion of interesting historical matter: but if the father of Grecian poetry made so total a change in the story of Helen, in order to give a full scope to his imagination; what security have we that another poet may not mislead us in matters of fact.” Memoir, p. xlii. A mind of greater compass and force had previously said, “It were absurd to quote the fable of the Iliad or the Odyssey, the legends of Hercules, Theseus, or Œdipus, as authorities in matter of fact relating to the history of mankind; but they may, with great justice, be cited to ascertain what were the conceptions and sentiments of the age in which they were composed, or to characterize the genius of that people, with whose imaginations they were blended, and by whom they were fondly rehearsed and admired.” Ferguson, Essay on the Hist. of Civil Society, part ii. sect. 1.


Hist. of Persia, i. 273. Yet the Jewish scriptures tell us, that the deeds of the kings of Persia were written in chronicles of that kingdom; and Ctesias, who was at the court of Artaxerxes Mnemon, says he had access to volumes contained in the royal archives. The Persians had no historians before the æra of Mohammed; Kinneir’s Geog. Mem. of the Persian Empire, p. 49.—In Persia, there is now, as there has long been, a royal historiographer, whose business it is to record the glories of the reigning prince. Ibid.


Tour to Sheeraz, p. 152.


Richardson’s Dissertations, p. 47.


Richardson’s Dissertations, p. 47 to 60. He gives us the following as the account, by the Persian historians, of the conquest of Alexander. Bahman, the King, had married his own daughter. When he died, leaving her pregnant, he appointed her his successor, if she had no son; and regent, if she had one. The lady wished to reign; and being delivered of a son, concealed his birth. He was exposed, but found, and brought up by a dyer. When grown to manhood he joined the Queen’s army, which was marching against the Greeks, and performed prodigies of valour. The Queen sent for him; he was recognized, and the Queen resigned. He became King Darab. He marched against Philip of Macedou, and forced him to take refuge in a forest. Peace was granted, on Philip’s giving his daughter to Darab, and paying annually a thousand eggs of gold. Philip’s daughter ceased to please, and Darab sent ber back after she was pregnant. The child she brought forth was the famous Alexander. The son of Darab, who succeeded him, proved so bad a king, that the nobles of Persia advised Alexander to assert his right to the throne. Alexander refused the annual tribute. Darab, the younger, marched against him, and was conquered. After the battle he was assassinated in his tent by his attendants. But Alexander protested his ignorance of the crime, and Darab named him his successor, requesting him to govern Persia by Persian nobles, which he did. Ibid. In another passage (Ibid. p. 326) he acknowledges that no account is found in the Persian historians of the expedition of Cyrus the younger. The story of Alexander, as told by Sir John Malcolm, in his late history of Persia, is similar, though not the same. Mr. Gibbon says well, “The art and genius of history have ever been unknown to the Asiatics. ......And perhaps the Arabs might not find in a single historian, so clear and comprehensive a narrative of their own exploits as will be deduced in the ensuing sheets.” Gibbon, chap. li. Chardin, speaking of the ignorance of the Persians, in regard to geography and history, says, “On ne croiroit jamais que cette ignorance fut aussi outrée qu’elle l’est, et je ne l’auroit pu croire moimême, si je ne m’en etois convaincu par un long usage. .....Pour ce qui est de l’historie du pays, les livres qui en traitent ne sont clairs et sῦrs, et ne se suivent, que depuis la naissance de la religion Mahometane; de maniere qu’on ne se peut fier à rien de ce qui est rapporteé de siecles precedens, surtout en matière de chronologie, ou ces gens committent les plus grossieres erreurs, confondant les siecles, et mettant tout pêle-mèle sans se soucier du tems.—Toutes ces histoires, jusqu’au tems de Muhammed, sont des pieces ou fabuleuses ou Romanesques, remplies de mille contes ou il n’y a rien de vraisemblable.” Voyage en Perse, iii. 256. And Gibbon says, (Hist. of Decl. and Fail, ch. x. p. 442.) “So little has been preserved of Eastern history before Mahomet, that the modern Persians are totally ignorant of the victory of Sapor, an event so glorious to their nation."—"When the Romans had supplanted the Greeks, and extended their dominion over all Europe, they also engaged in endless wars with the Persian kings of the Ashkanian and Sassanian dynasties, for these Asiatic provinces. The events of these early periods are not well described in our histories, as we have no authentic records prior to the time of Mohammed: But the Greeks, who have histories which extend back 2000 years, have minutely described all the circumstances of these wars.” Travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan, translated by Charles Stewart, Esq. M. A. S. Professor of Oriental Languages, in the Hon. East India Company’s College, Herts. iii. 23.


See Wilford on Egypt and the Nile, Asiat. Res. iii. 295; and on the Chronology of the Hindus, Ibid. v. 241.


Hist. of Great Britain, ii. 4.


Strabo, lib. iv. p. 197.


Ammian. Marcell. lib. xv. cap. ix.


The high civilization, refined literature, beautiful language, profound philosophy, polished manners, and amiable morals of the Arabians, are celebrated in the highest strains, by M. de Boulainvilliers, Vie de Mahomet, p. 38; Ed. of Amsterdam, 1781. Pythagoras, after having studied the sciences of the Egyptians, travelled into Arabia to learn the philosophy of the Arabians. Porphyr. de Vit. Pythag.


Volney’s Travels in Egypt and Syria, ii. 434. “In two recent voyages into Egypt,” says Gibbon, (Hist. of Dec. and Fall, &c. ix. 448.) “we are amused by Savary, and instructed by Volney. I wish the latter could travel over the globe.” “The last and most judicious,” he calls him, “of our Syrian travellers.” Ibid. p. 224.


Volney, ut supra, p. 443.


Observations on the Religion, Laws, Government, and Manners of the Turks, p. 39. Most, if not all, the Arabian versions of the Greek authors, were done by the Christian subjects of the caliphs. See Gibbon, ch. iii. The same is probably the origin of the Turkish versions. What use, if any, they make of them, does not appear. Mr. Scott Waring says, “The science of the Persians is, I believe, extremely confined. They have translations of Euchd, Ptolemy, the works of Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, and some other of the Grecian philosophers, which few of them read, and fewer understand.” Tour to Sheeraz, p. 254.


Hist. of Decline and Fall, &c. ch. i. Mr. Forster mentions a Mussulman fellow-traveller, a disputant, who, says he, “unhappily for himself and his neighbours, had conned over some of those books of ingenious devices and quaint syllogisms, which are held in high note among the modern Mahometans, and have fixed among them a false distorted taste.” Travels in India, p. 106.


“There is generally a want of ardour in pursuit of knowledge among the Asiatics, which is partaken by the Afghauns; excepting, however, in the sciences of dialectics and metaphysics, in which they take much interest, and have made no contemptible progress.” Elphinstone’s Account of Caubul, p. 189.


The clearest account I have seen of this important fact, which Mr. Dugald Stewart (Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind, ii. 231,) appears not to have known that any body had noticed but M. Turgot, is in the following passage of Condillac. “Mais il faut observer, qu’une fois qu’un enfant commence à generaliser, il rend une idée aussi etendue qu’elle peut l’être, c’est-à-dire qu’il se hâte de donner le même nom à tous les objets qui se resemblant grossièrement, et il les comprend tous dans une seule classe. Les resemblances sont les premieres choses qui le frappent, parce qu’il ne sait pas encore assez analyser pour distinguer les objets par les qualités qui leur sont propres. Il n’imaginera donc des classes moins générales, que lorsqu’il aura appris à observer par ou les choses different. Le mot homme, par example, est d’abord pour lui une denomination commune, sous laquelle il comprend indistinctment tous les hommes. Mais lorsque dans la suite il aura occasion de connoitre les differentes conditions, il fera aussitôt les classes subordonnées et moins generales de militaires, de magistrats, de bourgeois, d’artisans, de laboureurs, &c.; tel est donc l’ordre de la generation des idées. On passe tout à coup de l’individu au genre, peur descendre ensuite aux differentes especes qu’on multiplie d’autant plus qu’on acquiert plus de discerniment; c’est-a-dire, qu’on apprend mieux à faire l’analyse des choses.” Cours d’Etude, i. 49, 50. Ed. à Parme, 1776. Vide note A. at the end of the volume.


Works of Sir Wm. Jones, i. 165. It may be remarked, that Sir William Jones, after all these praises, allows that the Vedanti doctrines are wild and erroneous. Asiat. Res. iv. 164, 165.


Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind, vol. ii. note B.


The words in which this important observation is expressed, are borrowed from a happy application of it by Mr. Stewart, in the same volume, p. 443.


The passage is transcribed by Mr. Stewart, in the note quoted above.


Vide supra, vol. i. p. 315.


Stewart’s Elem. ut supra.


Another circumstance is always to be remembered. If the Brahmens are once informed of the European doctrine, they will take abundant care to make their own conform to it. “With respect to the real tenets of the Hindus, on subjects of theology, they are to be taken from their ancient books, rather than from the oral declarations of the most learned Brahmens of modern times, who have discovered that the opinions of Christians, concerning the nature of God, are far more rational than those currently entertained among them, and that the gross idolatry of the Hindus is contemned by the more intelligent natives of the western world. Bernier seems to have found occasion for the same remark in his time; for, after relating a conference between him and some learned pandits, in which the latter endeavoured to refine away the grossness of their image worship; ‘Voila (says he) sans ajouter ni diminuer la solution qu’ils me donnerent; mais, à vous dire le vrai, cela me sembloit un peu trôp bien concerté a la Chretienne, aux prix de ce que j’en avois appris de plusieurs autres pandits.’” (Grant’s Observations on the State of Society among the Asiatic Subjects of Great Britain, p. 73. Papers on India, ordered to be printed by the House of Commons, 15th June, 1813.) This supposed refinement, such as it is, Mr. Elphinstone found among the rude and uncivilized Afghauns. “Another sect in Caubul is that of the Soofees, who ought, perhaps, to be considered as a class of philosophers, rather than of religionists. As far as I can understand their mysterious doctrine, their leading tenet seems to be, that the whole of the animated and inanimate creation is an illusion; and that nothing exists except the Supreme Being, which presents itself under an infinity of shapes to the soul of man, itself a portion of the Divine essence. The contemplation of this doctrine raises the Soofees to the utmost pitch of enthusiasm. They admire God in every thing; and, by frequent meditation on his attributes, and by tracing him through all his forms, they imagine that they attain to an ineffable love for the Deity, and even to an entire union with his substance.” (An Account of the Kingdom of Caubul, by the Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone, p. 207.) See, for an account of a similar sect in Persia, Malcolm’s Hist. of Persia, ii. 385.—How different is all this from the curious result of the refined and ingenious reasonings of Berkeley! And how shallow the heads that confound them!


See Mallet, Introd. Hist. Denmark, vol. ii. For additional illustrations we may refer to the maxims of Confucius and Zoroaster.


Colebrooke on the Sanscrit and Pracrit Languages, Asiat. Res. vol. vii.


Mr. Colebrooke still farther remarks, that the Hindus delight in scholastic disputation; and that their controversial commentaries on grammar exhibit copious specimens of it. Ibid.


Vide supra, p. 67–69.


Tout ce que le mauvais goῦt peut inventer pour fatiguer l’esprit, fait leur delices, et ravit leur admiration. Memoires du Baron de Tott sur les Turcs et les Tartares, i. 8.


The following remarkable passage in the celebrated letter of our countryman, and (but for one exception) admirable countryman, Sir Thomas More, to Martin Dorpius, affords at once a proof of the fact, and a judgment on the practice: “At nunc absurda quædam portenta, ad certam bonarum artium nata perniciem, et luculenter ab antiquis distincta, commiscuerunt; et veterum purissimas traditiones suis adjectis sordibus infecerunt omnia. Nam in Grammatica (ut omittam Alexandrum, atque id genus ahos; qui quamquam imperite, tamen grammaticam utcunque docuerant) Albertus quidam, grammaticam se traditurum professus, logicam nobis quandam, aut metaphysicam, immo neutram, sed mera somnia, mera deliria grammaticæ loco substituit: et tamen hæ nugacissimæ nugæ in publicas academias non tantum receptæ sunt, sed etiam plerisque tam impense placuerunt, ut is propemodum solus aliquid in grammatica valere censeatur, quisquis fuerit Albertistæ nomen assequutus. Tantum auctoritatis habet, ad pervertenda bonorum quoque ingeniorum judicia, semel ab ineptis tradita, magistris, dein tempore corroborata persuasio. Quo fit ut minus mirer, ad eundem modum in dialecticæ locum nugas plus quam sophisticas irrepsisse quæ cultoribus suis argutiarum nomine tam vehementer, arrident.” Caramuel says of the subtle doctor, Scotus, Vix ahibi subtilius scripsit quam cum de grammaticis modis significandi. Mr. Horne Tooke, however, on this remarks, that his De modis significandi should be entitled, An Exemplar of the subtle art of saving appearances, and of discoursing deeply andlearnedly on a subject with which we are perfectly unacquainted. Quid enim subtilus vel magis tenue quam quod nihil est? (Diversions of Purley, Introd. p. 12.)


Le Pere Paulini (Bartolomeo) Voyage aux Indes, ii. 201.


Mr. Gibbon quaintly says, “In Arabia as well as in Greece, the perfection of language outstripped the refinement of manners; and her speech could diversify the fourscore names of honey, the two hundred of a serpent, the five hundred of a lion, the thousand of a sword, at a time when this copious dictionary was entrusted to the memory of an illiterate people.” Hist. of Dec. and Fall, &c. ix. 240. The German professor Forster, who writes notes on the Voyage du Pere Paulini, says not ineptly on the passage quoted in the text, (Paulini, Voy. aux Indes, iii. 399.) “Ce n’est pas de cette manière la qu’on doit juger de la richesse d’une langue. On a coutume de dire que la langue Arabe est riche, parceque elle a je ne sais quel nombre de synonimes pour exprimer le mot epée. Un de ces synonimes, par example, signifie le meurtrier des hommes. Ce n’est la, dans la realité, qu’une expression metaphorique et figurée, telle qu’on en pent former dans toutes les langues tant soit pen cultivees. On pouvait de même trouver plus de trente noms pour exprimer le soleil dans les poetes Grecs; mais il n’est venu dans l’esprit de personne, de faire valoir cela pour prouver la richesse de la langue Grecque.” Our own sagacions, and in many respects highly philosophical Wilkins judges better when he names “significancy, perspicuity, brevity, and consequently facility,” among the perfections of a language; and says that the multitude of rules in the Latin “argues the imperfection of that language, that it should stand in need of such and so many rules as have no foundation in the philosophy of speech...............If these rules be not necessary to language, and according to nature, but that words may signify sufficiently, and in some respects better without them, then there is greater judgment showed in laying them aside, or framing a language without them.” Essay towards a Real Character, &c. p. 448. Another writer, who speaks with as much boldness, as he thinks with force on the subject of language says, “Persons too dull or too idle to understand the subject cannot, or will not, perceive how great an evil many words is; and boast of their copiæ verhorum, as if a person diseased with gout or dropsy boasted of his great joints, or big belly.” And again, “It cannot be too often repeated that superfluous variety end copiu, are faults, not excellencies. Simplicity may be considered poverty by perverted understandings, but it is always of great utility; and to true judges it always possesses beauty and dignity.” Philosophic etymology, or Rational Grammar, by James Gilchrist, p. 110, 170. If the Sanscrit is to be admired for its amplicated grammar, the Ethiopic should be admired for its 202 letters; Wilkins’ Essay towards a Real Character, p. 14.


Gl’indigeni Chilesi formano una sola nazione divisa in varie tribu, et tutti hanno la medesima fisconomia, e la medesima lingua chiamata da loro Chiledugu, che vuol dire lingua Chilese. Questa lingua è dolce, armoniosa, expressiva, regolare, e copiosissima di termini atti ad enunciare non solo le cose fische generali, o particulari, ma anche le cose morali, e astratte. Saggio Sulla Storia Naturale del Chili Del Signor Abate Giovanni Ignazio Molina, lib. iv. p. 334.


Marsden’s Hist. of Sumatra, p. 197, ed. 3d.


“It is so copious, polished, and expressive, that it has been esteemed by many superior to the Latin, and even to the Greek. It abounds,” says he, “more than the Tuscan, in diminutives and augmentatives; and more than the English, or any other language we know, in verbal and abstract terms: for there is hardly a verb from which there are not many verbals formed, and scarcely a substantive or adjective from which there are not some abstracts formed. It is not less copious in verbs than in nouns; as from every single verb others are derived of different significations. Chihua “is to do,” Chichihua “to do with diligence or often,” Chihuilia “to do to another,” Chihualtia “to cause to be done,” Chihuatiuh “to go to do,” Chiuaco “to come to do,” Chiuhtiuh “to be doing,” &c. Having mentioned the extraordinary variety with which the Mexicans express different degrees of respect, by adding adverbs and other particles to the names employed, Clavigero adds, “This variety, which gives so much civilization to the language, does not, however, make it difficult to be spoken; because it is subjected to rules which are fixed and easy; nor do we know any language that is more regular and methodical. The Mexicans, like the Greeks and other nations, have the advantage of making compounds of two, three, or four simple words; but they do it with more economy than the Greeks did; for the Greeks made use of the entire words in composition, whereas the Mexicans cut off syllables, or at least some letters from them. Tlazotti signifies valued, or beloved; Mahuitzic, honoured or revered; Tespixqui, priest; Tatli, father. To unite these five words in one, they take eight consonants and four vowels, and say, for instance, Notlazomahuitzteopixcatalzin, that is, my very worthy father, or revered priest, prefixing the No which corresponds to the pronoun my, and adding tzin, which is a particle expressive of reverence. There are some compounds of so many terms as to have fifteen or sixteen syllables.......In short all those who have learned this language, and can judge of its copiousness, regularity, and beautiful modes of speech, are of opinion, that such a language cannot have been spoken by a barbarous people.” Clavigero, Hist. of Mexico, book vii. sect. 41.


Henry’s Hist. of Great Britain, iv. 365.—"I know not a language spoken in Europe that hath words of more sweetness and greatness than theirs:” Penn’s Letter on the American Indians, in Clarkson’s Life of Penn, i. 385.


Laws of Menu, ch. i. 75.


Ib. 76.


Ib. 77.


Laws of Menu, ch. i. 78.


Laws of Menu, ch. i. 45.


Ibid. 49. See also Ib. xi. 143 to 146.


Wilford on Egypt and the Nile, Asiat. Res. iii. 310.


Transactions of the Royal Society of Edin. vol. ii.


Of which he has over all Europe been recognized as the author: Vide infra, p. 93, note 3.


Mr. Playfair has himself given us a criterion for determining on his notions of the Hindu astronomy, which is perfectly sufficient. He says, in the conclusion of his discourse (Edin. Trans. ii. 192), “These conclusions are without doubt extraordinary; and have no other claim to our belief, except that their being false were much more wonderful than their being true.” On this principle, the question is decided; for the wonder is little that they should be false, but mighty indeed were they true.


Asiat. Res. vi. 577.


Dr. Smith, with his usual sagacity, says, “There are various causes which render astronomy the very first of the sciences which is cultivated by a rude people; though from the distance of the objects, and the consequent mysteriousness of their nature and motions, this would seem not to be the case. Of all the phenomena of nature, the celestial appearances are, by their greatness and beauty, the most strikingly addressed to the curiosity of mankind. But it is not only their greatness and beauty by which they become the first objects of a speculative curiosity. The species of objects in the heavens are few in number; the sun, the moon, the planets, and the fixed stars. All the changes too which are ever observed in these bodies, evidently arise from some difference in the velocity and direction of their several motions. All this formed a very simple object of consideration. The objects, however, which the inferior parts of nature presented to view, the earth and the bodies which immediately surround it, though they were much more familiar to the mind, were more apt to embarrass and purplex it, by the variety of their species and by the intricacy and seeming irregularity of the laws or orders of their succession. The variety of meteors in the air, of clouds, rainbows, thunder, lightning, winds, rain, hail, snow, is vast, and the order of their succession seems to be most irregular and inconstant. The species of fossils, minerals, plants, animals, which are found in the waters and near the surface of the earth, are still more intricately diversified; and if we regard the different manners of their production, their mutual influence in altering, destroying, supporting one another, the orders of their succession seem to admit of an almost infinite variety. If the imagination, therefore, when it considered the appearances in the heavens, was often perplexed and driven out of its natural career, it would be much more exposed to the same embarrassment, when it directed its attention to the objects which the earth presented to it, and when it endeavoured to trace their progress and successive revolutions.” Essays by Dr. Adam Smith, p. 97, 98. Of the Persians, Mr. Scott Waring says, “Their perverse predilection for judicial astrology excites them to the study of astronomy, merely that they may foretell the conjunction of the planets; and when they are able to do this with any degree of accuracy, they are accounted men of considerable science. They have two descriptions of Ephemeris; the first containing the conjunction and opposition of the luminaries; and the second the eclipses, the longitude and latitude of the stars,” &c. Tour to Sheeraz, p. 254. The pages of the historian being little adapted to mathematical and astronomical discussion, I have inserted, by way of Appendix, an examination of the arguments for the antiquity and excellence of the Hindu astronomy; with which the friendship of the great mathematician to whom I have alluded has enabled me to elucidate the subject. See Append. No. 1. at the end of the chapter.


Playfair, on the Astronomy of the Brahmens, Trans. Roy. Soc. Edin. ii. 135.


Dr. Smith says, “Nature, according to common observation, appears a chaos of jarring and discordant appearances, into which philosophy endeavours to introduce order by representing the invisible chains which bind together all these disjointed objects. It thus soothes the imagination, and renders the theatre of nature a more coherent, and therefore a more magnificent spectacle, than otherwise it would appear to be. Mankind in the first ages of society have little curiosity to find out those hidden chains of events which bind together the seemingly disjointed appearances of nature. A savage has no inclination to amuse himself with searching out what seems to serve no other purpose than to render the theatre of nature a more connected spectacle to his imagination.” Essays, Hist. of Astron. p. 20, 21, 23.


Playfair, on the Astron of the Brahm. Trans. R. S. E. ii. 138, 139.


Goguet having mentioned the quipos of the Peruvians, says, “It is the same with the negroes on the coast of Juida. They know nothing of the art of writing, and yet they can calculate the largest sums with great facility by means of cords and knots, which have their own signification.” Hist. Gen. de Voyage, iv. 283, 373, and 393.” Origin of Laws, i. 224. We are informed by Herodotus, that the Egyptians, like the Brahmens, counted by shells; and at one time at least, the Greeks; but in an inverse order, the Greeks passing from left to right, the Egyptians from right to left. Herodot lib. ii. cap. 36.


Asiat. Res. ii. 115. The following is valuable from the pen of M. Delambre. M. La Place, qui avoit quelque intéret a soutenir la grande ancienneté de l’astronomie Indienne, et qui avoit d’abord parle des mouvemens moyens et des époques des Hindous de la maniere la plus avantaguese, a fini pourtant par croire et imprimer que leurs tables ne remontent pas au dela du 13me siècle. Mr. Playfair, en repondant à l’objection de M. de la Place, ne la detruit pas. Peu importe que Bailly ait affirmé plus ou moins directement et positivement la conjonction generale des plauètes, qui a determiné l’epoque; Ce qu’il falloit eclaircir est un fait. Les tables indiquent-elles en effet cette conjonction, l’epoque alors est fictive, et l’astronomie Indienne est beaucoup plus moderne. Les tables n’indiquent-elles pas cette conjonction, alors l’objection de M. de la Place tombe d’elle-mème. C’est ce que ne dit pas Mr. Playfair, et c’est ce que je n’ai pas le tems de vérifier. Mais quand même l’objection seroit sans force, il resteroit bien d’autres difficultés. Ce ne sont pas quelques rencoutres heureuses parmi une foule de calculs erronés ou incoherens, qui suffiroient pour prouver l’antiquité de l’Astronomie Indienne. La forme mysterieuse de leurs tables et de leurs méthodes suffiroit pour donner des soupçons sur leur veracité. C’est une question qui probablement ne sera jamais decidée, et qui ne pourroit l’etre que par de nouvelles decouvertes dans les ecrits des Hindoos.” Letter from M. Delambre, dated Paris July 21, 1814, published, Appendix, note D. of “Researches concerning the Laws, &c. of India, by Q. Craufurd, Esq.”


Asiat. Res. ii. 226–228.


Of that ignorance take the following specimens:—"The Bhagavat,” (says Mr. Davis, Asiat. Res. iii. 225) “when treating of the system of the universe, places the moon above the sun, and the planets above the fixed stars."—” The prince of serpents continually sustains the weight of this earth.” Sacontala, beginning of act v.—"Some of them” [the Brahmens of the present day] “are capable,” says Mr. Orme, Hist. of Indost. i. 3, “of calculating an eclipse, which seems to be the utmost stretch of their mathematical knowledge.”


Playfair, on the Astronomy of the Brahmens, Trans. R. S. E. ii. 140, 141. See to the same purpose, Colebrooke on the Indian and Arabian Divisions of the Zodiac, Asiat. Res. ix. 323, 376.


Asiast. Res. ii. 289.


The division of the zodiac among the Birmans as well as the Brahmens, resembles ours, the original Chaldean. “My friend Sangermano,” (says Dr. Buchanan, Asiat. Res. vi. 204,) “gave Captain Symes a silver bason on which the twelve signs were embossed. He conceived, and I think justly, that this zodiac had been communicated to the Burmans from Chaldea by the intervention of the Brahmens. And I find that in this conjecture he is supported by Sir W. Jones, (As. Res. ii. 306). Both, however, I am afraid, will excite the indignation of the Brahmens, who, as the learned judge in another place alleges, have always been too proud to borrow science from any nation ignorant of the Vedas. Of their being so proud as not to acknowledge their obligations I make no doubt; but that they have borrowed from the Chaldeans who were ignorant of the Vedas, Sir W. Jones himself has proved. Why then should he have opposed the sarcastic smiles of perplexed Pandits to the reasoning of M. Montucla, (As. Res. ii. 303, 289,) when that learned man alledged that the Brahmens have derived astronomical knowledge from the Greeks and Arabs. The expression of the Brahmens quoted by him as a proof, namely, ‘that no base creature can be lower than a Yavan or Greek,’ only exposes their miserable ignorance and disgusting illiberality."—On this pride, too great to learn (a sure sign of barbarity), it is also to be remarked, that a matrimonial connexion (among the Hindus the most sacred of all connexions) took place between Seleucus and Sandracottos. “On this difficulty,” says Mr. Wilford, “I consulted the pundits of Benares, and they all gave me the same answer; namely, that in the time of Chandragupta, the Yavanas were much respected, and were even considered as a sort of Hindus.” Asiat. Res. v. 286. What was to hinder the Brahmens from learning astronomy from the Greeks at that period? Mr. Wilford indeed says that a great intercourse formerly subsisted between the Hindus and the nations of the West. Ibid. iii. 297, 298. Sir William seems to have known but little of the intercourse which subsisted between the Hindus and the people of the West. Suetonius (in vit. Octav.) informs us, that the Indians sent ambassadors to Augustus. An embassy met him when in Syria, from king Porus, as he is called, with letters written in the Greek character, containing, as usual, an hyperbolical description of the grandeur of the monarch. Strabo, lib. xv. p. 663. A Brahmen was among those ambassadors, who followed Augustus to Athens, and there burnt himself to death. Strabo, Ibid. and Dio. Cass. lib. liii. p. 527. Another splendid embassy was sent from the same quarter to Constantine. Cedreni Annal. p. 242, Ed. Basil. 1566; Maurice, Hist. iii. 125. “I have long harboured a suspicion,” says Gibbon, “that all the Scythian, and some, perhaps much, of the Indian science, was derived from the Greeks of Bactriana.” Gibbon, vii. 294. A confirmation of this idea, by no means trifling, was found in China, by Lord Macartney and his suite, who discovered the mathematical instruments deposited in the cities of Pekin, and Nankeen, not constructed for the latitude of those places, but for the 37th parallel, the position of Balk or Bactria: Barrow’s China, p. 289. The certainty of the fact of a Christian church being planted in India at a time not distant from that of the apostles, is a proof that the Hindus had the means of learning from the Greeks.—We learn the following very important fact from Dr. Buchanan. The greater part of Bengal manuscripts, owing to the badness of the paper, require to be copied at least once in ten years, as they will, in that climate, preserve no longer; and every copyist, it is to be suspected, adds to old books whatever discoveries he makes, relinquishing his immediate reputation for learning, in order to promote the grand and profitable employment of his sect, the delusion of the multitude. As. Res. vi. 174, note. Anquetil Duperron, who had at an early period asserted the communication of Grecian science to the Hindus, (See Recherches Historiques et Philosophiques sur l’Inde) supported this conclusion at the end of his long life. “N’est il pas avoué,” says he in his notes to the French translation of Paulini’s Travels, iii. 442; “que, de tout terms, sans conquête, avec conquête, par terre comme par mer, l’Asie, l’Inde, et l’Europe, ont eu des relations plus ou moins actives; que les savans, les sages de ces contrées se sont visités, ont pu se faire part de leurs decouvertes; et qu’il n’est pas hors de vraisemblance que quelques uns auront fait usage dans leurs livres, même sans en avertir, des nouvelles lumières qu’ils avaient reçues de l’etranger? De nos jours, le Rajah d’Amber, dans ses ouvrages astronomiques, parle des tables de la Hire. Le Rajah Djessingue, aura profité des leçons du P. Boudier, qu’il avait appolé auprès de lui. Si l’astronome Brahme, avec lequel M. le Gentil a travaillé à Pondicherri, ecrit sur l’astronomie, sans abandonner le fond de ses principes, du systême Indien, il adoptera des pratiques qu’il aura remarquées dans son disciple, calculera, quoique Indou, à la Française, et donnera comme de lui, du pays, des resultats réellement tirés de ses rapports avec l’astronomie Française. Nier ces probabilités, c’est ne pas connâitre les hommes."—"Il y a differentes epoques dans les sciences Indiennes, dans la mythologie, les opinions religieuses de cette contrée. Les Indiens ont reçu ou imprunté diverses connaissances des Arabes, des Perses, en tel temps; des Grecs dans tel autre.” Ib. p. 451.


Elements of Geometry, &c. By John Leslie, Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, note xxxiv. All that can be said in favour of the mathematical science of the Hindus is very skilfully summed up in the following passage, by a mathematician of first-rate eminence, William Wallace, Esq. the Professor of Mathematics in the University of Edinburgh. “The researches of the learned have brought to light astronomical tables in India, which must have been constructed by the principles of geometry; but the period at which they have been formed has by no means been completely ascertained. Some are of opinion, that they have been framed from observations made at a very remote period, not less than 3,000 years before the Christian era; and if this opinion be well founded, the science of geometry must have been cultivated in India to a considerable extent, long before the period assigned to its origin in the West; so that many of the elementary propositions may have been brought from India to Greece. The Hindus have a treatise called the Surya Sidhanta, which professes to be a revelation from heaven, communicated to Meya, a man of great sanctity, about four millions of years ago; but setting aside this fabulous origin, it has been supposed to be of great antiquity, and to have been written at least two thousand years before the Christian era. Interwoven with many absurdities, this book contains a rational system of trigonometry, which differs entirely from that first known in Greece or Arabia. In fact, it is founded on a geometrical theorem, which was not known to the geometricians of Europe, before the time of Vieta, about two hundred years ago. And it employs the sines of arcs, a thing unknown to the Greeks, who used the chords of the double arcs. The invention of sines has been attributed to the Arabs, but it is possible that they may have received this improvement in trigonometry, as well as the numeral characters, from India.” Edinburgh Encyclopedia, Article Geometry, p. 191. The only fact here asserted which bears upon the question of the civilization of the Hindus, is that of their using the sines of arcs instead of the chords of the double arcs. Suppose that they invented this method. It proves nothing beyond what all men believe; that the Hindus made a few of the first steps in civilization at an early period; and that they engaged in those abstract speculations, metaphysical and mathematical, to which a semi-barbarous people are strongly inclined. The Arabians were never more than semi-barbarous. The Greeks were no better, at the early age when they were acquainted with the elementary propositions of geometry. If the Greeks or Arabians invented, in the semi-barbarous state, the mode of computation by the chords; what was to hinder the Hindus from inventing, while semi-barbarous, the mode of computing by the sines of arcs? This is upon the supposition that the mode of computing by sines, and the elementary propositions on which it depends, really are original among the Hindus. But this seems not to rest upon very satisfactory proof, when it is barely inferred from the use of chords by the Greeks; and the possibility alone is asserted of the Arabians having derived the knowledge from the Hindus.


Origin of Laws, i. 221.


Ibid. i. 224.


Ibid. Mr. Gilchrist renders it highly probable, that not only the digits, but the letters of the alphabet are hieroglyphics. Philosophic Etymology, p. 23.


Second Dissertation, Supplement to the Encyclopædia Britannica, p. 12. It is a comcidence well worth remarking, that Diophantus, a Greek mathematician of Alexandria, about 150 years after Christ, employed a like expedient. “The questions he resolves,” says Mr. Playfair, “are of considerable difficulty. The expression is that of common language abbreviated, and assisted by a few symbols.” (Ib. p. 13.) In a Ms. of Diophantus, which Bombelli says he saw in the Vatican library, the Indian authors, he says, are often quoted. Nothing of this appears in the work of Diophantus, which was published about three years after the time when Bombelh wrote. Nor has any other work of Diophantus been produced. It is, besides, to be remembered, that the Greeks used the word Indian with great latitude. They applied it not merely to the people beyond the Indus; they applied it also to a people on the Euxine Sea; to a people in Ethiopia; in a general way, to all the people of the East. It is by no means clear that Diophantus would not apply it to the Arabians themselves. (See Appendix, No. II. at the end of the chapter.)


Laws of Menu, ch. ix. 245. “Since the era of Halhed and Sir William Jones,” says Mr. Scott Waring, “the existence of the precious manuscripts of Sanscrit learning has, like the chorus to a popular song, been echoed from author to author, who, though entirely ignorant of Sanscrit, have stamped with credibility a seemingly vague supposition; for what production have we yet seen to justify those extravagant praises.” Tour to Sheeraz, by Ed. Scott Waring, p. 5. Mr. Wilford, better acquainted with the Puranas than any other European, speaks of them with little respect. He talks of “the ignorant compilers of the Puranas, who have arranged this heterogeneous mass without method and still less judgment.” As. Res. vi. 471. M. Bernier, than whom no European had better opportunities of observing the actual and present attainments of the Brahmens, who observed with a penetrating and judicious spirit, and wrote before the birth of theory on the subject, says, “A pres le Purane quelque uns se jettent dans la philosophie ou certainement ils reussissent bien peu;—je l’ai deja dit, ils sont d’une humeur lente et paresseuse, et ne sont point animez dans l’esperance de parvenir a quelque chose par leur etude.” Suite des Memoires sur l’Empire du Grand Mogol, i. 184. “Leurs plus fameux Pendets,” says he, “me semblent tres ignorans.” (Ibid. p. 185.) Mentioning their accounts of the origin of the world, he says, “Il y en a aussi qui veulent que la lumiere et les tenebres soient les premiers principes, et disent la-dessus mille choses a vue de pays sans ordre ni suite, et apportent de longues raisons qui ne sentent nullement la philosophie, mais souvent la façon ordinaire de parler du peuple.” (Ibid. p. 187.) Though the Hindus abstain religiously from anatomy, they pretend to know most confidently anatomical facts. “Ils ne laissent pas d’assurer qu’il y a cinq mille veines dans l’homme, ny plus ny moins, comme s’ils les avoient bien contées.” (Ibid. p. 190.) After a review of their whole knowledge, which would be reckoned no incorrect outline, by the best informed of the present day, he adds, “Toutes ces grandes impertinences que je viens de vous racontor m’ont souvent fait dire en moi-meme que si ce sont la les fameuses sciences de ces anciens Bragmanes des Indes, il faut qu’il y ait eu bien du monde trompé dans les grandes idées qu’on en a conçues.” (Ibid. p. 193.)—"For some time a very unjust and unhappy impression appeared to have been made on the public mind, by the encomiums passed on the Hindoo writings. In the first place, they were thus elevated in their antiquity beyond the Christian Scriptures, the writings of Moses having been called the productions of yesterday, compared with those of the bramhŭns. The contents of these books, also, were treated with the greatest reverence; the primitive religion of the Hindoos, it was said, revealed the most sublime doctrines, and inculcated a pure morality. We were taught to make the greatest distinction between the ancient and modern religion of the Hindoos; for the apologists of Hindooism did not approve of its being judged of by present appearances. Some persons endeavoured to persuade us, that the Hindoos were not idolaters, because they maintained the unity of God; though they worshipped the work of their own hands as God, and though the number of their gods was 330,000,000. It is very probable, that the unity of God has been a sentiment amongst the philosophers of every age; and that they wished it to be understood, that they worshipped the One God, whether they bowed before the image of Moloch, Jupiter, or Kalēē; yet mankind have generally concluded that he who worships an image is an idolater; and I suppose they will continue to think so, unless in this age of reason common sense should be turned out of doors.—Now, however, the world has had some opportunity of deciding upon the claims of the Hindoo writings, both as it respects their antiquity and the value of their contents. Mr. Colebrooke’s essay on the védŭs, and his other important translations; the Bhŭgŭvŭt Gēēta, by Mr. Wilkins; the translation of the Ramayŭnŭ, several volumes of which have been printed; some valuable papers in the Asiatic Researches; with other translations by different Sŭngskritŭ scholars; have thrown a great body of light on this subject;—and this light is daily increasing.—Many an object appears beautiful when seen at a distance, and through a mist; but when the fog has dispersed, and the person has approached it, he smiles at the deception. Such is the exact case with these books, and this system of idolatry. Because the public, for want of being more familiar with the subject, could not ascertain the point of time when the Hindoo Shastrŭs were written, they therefore at once believed the assertions of the bramhŭns and their friends, that their antiquity was unfathomable.” (Ward on the Hindoos, Introd. p. xcix.) “There is scarcely any thing in Hindooism when truly known, in which a learned man can delight, or of which a benevolent man can approve; and I am fully persuaded, that there will soon be but one opinion on the subject, and that this opinion will be, that the Hindoo system is less ancient than the Egyptian, and that it is the most puerile, impure, and bloody of any system of idolatry that was ever established on earth.” (Ib. citi.)


Anquetil Duperron, who lodged a night at the house of a school-master, at a Mahratta village, a little north of Poona, gives a ludicrous picture of the teaching scene. “Les ecohers, sur deux files, accroupis sur leur talons, traçoient avec le doigt les lettres, ou les mots, sur une planche noire couverte de sable blanc; d’autres repetoient les noms des lettres en forme de mots. Car les Indiens, au lieu de dire comme nous, a, b, c, prononcent ainsi—awam, banam, kanam. Le maitre ne me parut occupe pendant une demi heure que la classe dura encore, qu’a frapper avec un long rotin le dos nud de ces pauvres enfans: en Asie c’est la partie qui paye; la passion malheureusement trop commune dans ces contrées, veille à la sureté de celle que nos maitres sacrifient a leur vengeance. J’aurois été bien aise de m’entretenir avec Monsieur le Pedagogue Marate, ou de moins d’avoir un alphabet de sa main; mais sa morgue ne lui permit pas de repondre a mes politesses.” (Zendavesta, Disc. Prelim. p. ccxxx.)


Papers on India Affairs, No. iii. ordered to be printed by the House of Commons, 30th April 1813.


There were in these times [the times of Aliverdi, nabob of Bengal] at Azimabad,” says the author of the Seer Mutakhareen, “numbers of persons who loved sciences and learning, and employed themselves in teaching and in being taught; and I remember to have seen in that city and its environs alone, nine or ten professors of repute, and three or four hundred students and disciples; from whence may be conjectured the number of those that must have been in the great towns, and in the retired districts.” Seer Mutakhareen, i. 705, 4to. Calcutta, 1789. N. B. This with regard to the Mussulmans of Bengal. The translator says, in a note, “The reader must rate properly all these students, and all these expressions: their only object was the Coran and its commentaries; that is the Mahometan religion, and the Mahometan law.” Ibid. A hint very different from those we are wont to receive from our guides in Hindu literature.—"In vain do some persons talk to us of colleges, of places of education, and books: these words in Turkey convey not the same ideas as with us.” Volney’s Travels in Syria and Egypt, ii. 443.—Chardin, who formed as high an opinion of the Persians as Sir William Jones of the Hindus, tells us, (Voyage en Perse, iii. 130,) “Le genie des Persans est porté aux sciences, plus qu’ à toute autre profession; et l’on peut dire que les Persans y reussissent si bien que ce sont, après les Chretiens Européens, les plus sçavans peuples du monde...... Ils envoyent les enfans aux colleges, et les elevent aux lettres autant que leurs moyens le peuvent permettre.” And at pages 137, 138, he adds, that schools are distributed in great numbers in Persia, and colleges very numerous.


“Inca Roca was reputed the first who established schools in Cozco, where the Amautas were the masters, and taught such sciences as were fit to improve the minds of Incas, who were princes, and of the chief nobility, not that they did instruct them by way of letters, for as yet they had not attained to that knowledge, but only in a practical manner, and by daily discourses: their other lectures were of religion, and of those reasons and wisdom on which their laws were established, and of the number and true exposition of them; for by these means they attained to the art of government and military discipline; they distinguished the times and seasons of the year, and by reading in their knots they learned history and the actions of past ages; they improved themselves also in the elegance and ornament of speaking, and took rules and measures for the management of their domestic affairs. These Amautas, who were philosophers, and in high esteem amongst them, taught something also of poetry, music, philosophy, and astrology,” &c. Garcilasso de la Vega, Royal Commentaries, book iv. ch. xix. This same Inca exhibited one stroke at least which will be reckoned high wisdom by some amongst us: “He enacted that the children of the common people should not be educated in the liberal arts and sciences, for that were to make them proud, conceited, and ungovernable; but that the nobility were those only to whom such literature did appertain, to render them more honourable, and capable of offices in the commonwealth.” Ibid. “There is nothing,” (says Acosta, book vi. ch. 27) “that gives me more cause to admire, nor that I find more worthy of commendation and memory, than the order and care the Mexicans had to nourish their youth.” He tells us they had schools in their temples, and masters to instruct the young “in all commendable exercises, to be of good behaviour,” &c.


Asiat. Res. i. 430, and iv. 169.


Middleton’s Life of Cicero, sect. 12. Considerable currency was obtained by a very learned work of a clergyman of the Church of England, Mr. Dutens, who undertook to prove that all the discoveries which the moderns have made in the arts and sciences, may be found distinctly broached in the writings of the ancients.


Anquetil Duperron gives us a remarkable instance of the disposition of the Brahmens to accommodate, by falsification, even their sacred records, to the ideas of Europeans. “Si je n’avois pas sçu que le commencement de l’Amerkosh contenoit la description du lingam, peut-etre m’eut il été impossible de decouvrir que mes Brahmes, qui ne vouloient pas devoiler le fond de leurs mysteres, paraphrasoient et pallioient plutot qu’ils ne traduisoient.” Zendav. Disc. Prelim. i. ccclxix. Dr. Buchunan found the propensity general, to deceive him in their accounts both of their religion and history. See Journey through Mysore, &c. ii. 76, 79, 80. “The Brahmens,” he says, “when asked for dates, or authority, say that they must consult their books, which may be readily done; but when I send my interpreter, who is also a Brahmen, to copy the dates, they pretend that their books are lost.” Ibid. i. 335. All information, he says, from the Brahmens, usually differs most essentially as derived from different individuals. Ibid. ii. 306. See an account of the imposition practised by his pundits upon Captain Wilford, by Lord Teignmouth, in the Introduction to his Life of Sir William Jones; also an account by Mr. Wilford himself, Essay on the Sacred Isles in the West, Asiat. Res. viii. 253.—In a letter to a friend Sir W. Jones said, “I can no longer bear to be at the mercy of our pundits, who deal out the Hindu law as they please, and make it at reasonable rates, where they cannot find it ready made.” Life of Sir W. Jones, by Lord Teignmouth, 4to. Ed. p. 307.—Colonel Wilkes accuses the Hindu author of the Digest of Hindu Law, translated by Mr. Colebrooke, of substituting a false principle of law for a true one, out of “a courtesy and consideration, for opinions established by authority, which is peculiar to the natives of India.” Histor. Sketches, p. 116.


He might have got proofs, equal to those with which they presented him, of Plato’s having been acquainted with the circulation of the blood; viz. because when speaking of that fluid he uses the word περιμγεσθαι, which signifies to be carried round.—It is worthy of remark, that the philosopher, of whom Sir William heard, and whose works contained such important discoveries, was called Yavan Acharya, that is Gentile or Greek. By the argument of Sir William, we might believe that the Greeks anticipated Newton. When Copernicus, dissatisfied with the received account of the heavenly motions, addressed himself to discover a new arrangement, we are told that “he examined all the obscure traditions delivered down to us, concerning every other hypothesis which the ancients had invented. He found in Plutarch, that some old Pythagoreans had represented the earth as revolving in the centre of the universe, like a wheel round its own axis; and that others of the same sect, had removed it from the centre, and represented it as revolving in the ecliptic, like a star round the central fire. By this central fire he supposed they meant the sun,” &c. Dr. Ad. Smith, Essay on Hist Astron. p. 51. We might prove that Parmenides had a just conception of the figure of the globe. Plato informs us that, according to that inquirer, Το ολον ιτι

Παντοθεν ενκνκλθ σφαιρας εναλιγκιον ογκψ,

Μεσσοθν ισοπαλις ισοπαλις παντη τ[Editor: illegible character] γαρ [Editor: illegible character]τε τι μει ςον

Οντε βεβαιοτερον πελει.

Plat. Souphista, p. 171

Herodotus mentions the opinion of a naturalist, even in his days, whoBOOK II. Chap. 9. supposed that the ocean flowed round the earth, (a bold step towards the conception of its right figure,) τοο ωχεανον γην περι περι πασαν ρεειν, lib. ii. sect. 22. Dr. Vincent, giving an account of the knowledge possessed by the ancients of the globular form of the earth, and of the saying of Strabo, that nothing obstructed the passage from Spain to India by a westerly course, but the immensity of the Atlantic ocean, has the following note; “Aristotle seems the author of this supposition, as well as of most other things that are extraordinary in the knowledge of the ancients. See Bochart, Phaleg. 169. Συναπιειν τον περι τας Ἡρακλει[Editor: illegible character]ς ςχλας τοπον τψ περι την Ἡρακλεει[Editor: illegible character]ς ςηλας τοηον τψ περι την Ινδικην. The parts about the pillars of Hercules join to those about India. This is a nearer approach still; but both suppositions arise from the contemplation of the earth as a sphere.—Aristotle has also preserved the opinion of the Pythagoreans, who made the sun the centre of our system, with the earth and the other planets revolving round it, which is the hypothesis adopted by Copernicus, and established by Newton. Strabo, likewise, who left the phenomena of the heavens, and the form of the earth, to the mathematicians, still thought the earth a sphere, and describes our system agreeably to the theory which was afterwards adopted by Ptolemy; but he adds the idea of gravitation in a most singular manner. Σφαιροδης μεν ἑ Κοσμοςκαι ἑ Ουρανος Ἡ ΡΟΠΗ δ’επι το μεσον των βαρεων......ἑ δ’ ονραννος περιφρεται περι περι τε αυτην και περι το αξονονα, απ’ ανατολης επι δυσινLib. ii. 110. The earth and the heaven are both spherical; but the tendency is to the centre of gravity. The heaven is carried round itself, and round its axis from east to west. I barely suggest the extent of ancient knowledge on these questions; those who wish to gratify their curiosity may consult Stobæus, tom. ii. cap. 25, Ed. Heeren, Gotting. 1792, 1794; and Diogenes Laertius in Anaximander, Pythagoras, and Zeno, lib. vii. sect. 155.” Periplus of the Erythræan Sea, part ii. 517.—Sir William Jones tells us, in his Discourse on the Hindu zodiac, that the pundit Ramachandra had a correct notion of the figure of the earth.—So had the elder Hermes, of whom it was one of the established maxims, that the earth was oviform, and hence the oval form of many of the oldest temples of Egypt. The earth was called Brahma’s egg. See Asiat. Res. i. 360. Or Ramachandra, like a common fortune-teller, might only repeat to Sir William what he had learned from Sir William.—Europeans will arrive in time to think justly respecting the Hindus: Thus speaks Dr. Buchanan; “No useful science have the Brahmens diffused among their followers; history they have abolished; morality they have depressed to the utmost; and the dignity and power of the altar they have erected on the ruins of the state, and the rights of the subject.” Asiat. Res. vi. 166.


Laplace has remarked, that the mean motions of the lunar orbit are quicker in the Indian tables, than in those of Ptolemy: which indicates that the former tables were constructed posterior to those of the Greek astronomer. This argument is at least as strong as any of those by which the antiquity is supported.


“If it be insisted, that a hint or suggestion, the seed of their knowledge, may have reached the Hindu mathematicians immediately from the Greeks of Alexandria, or mediately through those of Bactria, it must at the same time be confessed that a slender germ grew and fructified rapidly, and soon attained an approved state of maturity in Indian soil. More will not be here contended for: Since it is not impossible, that the hint of the one analysis may have been actually received by the mathematicans of the other nation: nor unlikely; considering the arguments which may be brought for a probable communication on the subject of astrology.” (Dissertation, p. xxii.) This is an important admission which Mr. Colebrooke was too well informed to overlook, and too honest to conceal. His partialities, however, lead him to a very useless effort of extenuation. Why call the knowledge which the Hindus derived of the Diophantine methods, a hint? What should confine it to a hint? Why make use of the word hint? when it is perfectly clear that if they had the means of receiving a hint, they had the means of receiving the whole. The communication was full and complete between the Hindus and the Greeks, both of Bactria and of Egypt; and the Hindus had the means of receiving from the Greeks all those parts of their knowledge, which the state of civilization among the Hindus enabled them to imbibe. Of the exaggerating language of Mr. Colebrooke, on the other side, about the growing and fructifying of the germ, and its attaining a state of approved maturity in Indian soil, we shall speak by and bye.


He had stated long ago, “That astronomy was originally cultivated among the Hindus, solely for the purposes of astrology: That one branch, if not the whole of their astrological science, was borrowed from the Arabians: And that their astronomical knowledge must, by consequence, have been derived from the same quarter.” (Asiat. Res. ix. 376.) And on the present occasion he says; “The position that astrology is partly of foreign growth in India; that is, that the Hindus have borrowed, and largely too, from the astrology of a more western region, is grounded, as the similar inference concerning a different branch of divination, on the resemblance of certain terms employed in both. The mode of divination, called Tájaca, implies by its very name its Arabian origin: Astrological prediction, by configuration of planets, in like manner, indicates even by its Indian name a Grecian source. It is denominated Hórá, the second of three branches which compose a complete course of astronomy and astrology: and the word occurs in this sense in the writings of early Hindu astrologers. ....The same term hórá occurs again in the writings of the Hindu astrologers, with an acceptation—that of hour—which more exactly conforms to the Grecian etymon. The resemblance of a single term would not suffice to ground an inference of common origin, since it might be purely accidental. But other words are also remarked in Hindu astrology.” &c. (Algebra, &c. from the Sanscrit, Dissert. Notes and Illust. p. lxxx.)


Ibid. p. xxiv.


Algebra, &c. from the Sanscrit, Dissert. Notes and Illust. pp. x. and xvi.


Dr. Hu