Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

6

in the whimsical habit of purchasing his food from the efforts

of his penmanship. Of this monarch, the following beautiful trait of character is given.

• One day, as a nobleman was inspecting a Koran of the King's writing before him, he pointed out the word Fee, which was written twice over : 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 beg. ged 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 it from a paper, than touch the heart of a poor man by bringing him to shame.

Gheias-ood-Deen Bulbun was an excellent monarch, although severe and unscrupulous in his policy. In the reign of his son, a new dynasty usurped the throne, and Julal-ood-Deen Feroze, of the race of Khiljy, became king at the age of seventy, and after a reign of seven years, fell a victim to treachery.

- But we are lapsing into the very error which we have promised to avoid, and must perforce abandon a system of exposition which would lead us amid interminable intrigues and inexplicable vicissitudes.

The invasion of the celebrated Teimoor Beg, the Tamerlane of European historians, found the empire of Delhy an easy prey, amid the infirmities of misrule, and the general system of division and rapacity which withheld the princes of India from uniting in the common defence. The sack and massacre which plunged the capital in the deepest misery, were the usual traces of this dreaded conqueror's march; and their ravages were but imperfectly repaired by two successive reigns of sagacious and beneficent monarchs. The weakness of their descendants led tot he establishment of an Afghan dynasty; a circumstance of which we shall avail ourselves, to make recurrence to the very singular tradition, formerly illustrated in our pages, which assigns to the Afghan tribes, a Jewish origin. There are certainly great difficulties in the way of this claim; but on the other hand, independently of the remarkable resemblance in physiognomical character, there are minor facts which aid in giving probability to the legend; and among them is the peculiarity which distinguishes their chiefs by a Hebrew title, Mullik (Melech).

I have read,' says Ferishta, in the Mutla-ool-Anwar, a work written by a respectable author ... that the Afghans are Copts of the race of the Pharaohs; and that when the prophet Moses got the better of that infidel who was overwhelmed in the Red Sea, many of the Copts became converts to the Jewish faith ; but others, stubborn and self-willed, refusing to embrace the true faith, leaving their country, came to India, and eventually settled in the Soolimany mountains,

where they bore the name of Afghans. At the time when Abraha (?). marched against Mecca, he was accompanied by several tribes of infidels from far and near, and, on that occasion, a body of these Afghans, it is said, also joined his forces. These tribes were eventually annihilated.'

This is, evidently, a garbled statement of the tradition more correctly given by Mr. Elphinstone; and it is much to be regretted, that Colonel Briggs failed in procuring a copy of the original work cited by Ferishta. It is almost unnecessary to observe that, although the Afghan and Jewish features are singularly alike, there is nothing in common between these races and the Egyptians, either in customs or in countenance.

The brilliant era of the Delhy annals, so far as related in the work of Ferishta, comprises the reigns of Babur, Hoomayoon, Sheer Shah, and Akbur. Of the first of these great monarchs, Mr. Erskine's Memoirs gave us an opportunity, not long since, of communicating information; while the reigns of the second, for the intermediate conquest and brilliant career of Sheer Shah justify the use of the plural, -with the long and splendid domination of Akbur, would demand from us so much space, in the attempt to give the mere outline of their vicissitudes and achievements, that we must, for the present, waive the exhibition of the causes, characters, and results of the Mogul dominion in Hindostan.

The history of the Deccan monarchies, including the six independent states of Koolburga, Beejapoor, Ahmudnuggur, Tulingana, Berar, and Bidur, spreads over so extensive a surface, and becomes so exceedingly complicated from the multiplied implications of the detail, as to bid defiance to abstraction. The extensive regions of India, and the various kinds of demarcation,--forest, jungle, desert, rivers, mountain-tracts, by which they are separated, have always been favourable to political divisions, and have given origin and vantage to incessant efforts after the establishment of distinct dominion. Hence the strongest Governments of India have generally been almost constantly engaged in a series of conflicts, greater or less in magnitude and importance, which are continually, and sometimes awkwardly, interfering with the great lines of history; and in the present case, were we to engage in direct narrative, they would leave no possible method of making matters clear, without inexpedient sacrifices. It is, moreover, to be remembered, that Ferishta's history being only partial, and not including the terminations either of the different series, or of the grand stream in which they successively merged, it becomes impossible to present them in a single view, unless by quitting our Author's simits, and in fact, giving what forms no part of our business, a complete history of India. To those who are anxious

for such an exhibition, on a clear, yet compressed scale, we cannot do better than refer them to the work which we have already quoted, where it will be found, with every additional illustration.

After having, in the first and second volumes, completed down to his own time, the histories of the monarchs of Delhy, and of the Bahmuny kings of the Deccan, Ferishta goes on with the minor sovereignties of Southern India; and this portion of the work has been rendered more complete by a succinct, though perfectly clear 'chronological epitome of the wars of 'the Portuguese in India, as connected with the wars of the • Deccan.' Some important additions, from a native writer, have also been made to the imperfect history of the kings of Golconda.

The fourth volume contains the histories of Guzerat, Malwa, Kandeish, Bengal and Behar, Joonpoor, Mooltan, Sind and Tutta, Kashmeer, and the Mahommedans of Malabar.

From these indications it will be seen, how much more complete is the present publication, than that of Dow: and, though we may feel regret that the work is not rendered complete by following up the details until the absorption of the minor monarchies in the great kingdom of the Moguls, yet, even this deficiency is in some degree supplied by the chronological tables, which bring down the series of events to the beginning of the seventeenth century.

We have felt some disposition to avail ourselves of the present opportunity, to institute an inquiry into the general influence of the Mohammedan conquests and supremacy, on the general condition of India; but Ferishta neither gives scope, nor furnishes, materials for such an investigation, and we scarcely feel justified in extending our comments so far as to include the various works which bear on that important question. One circumstance appears unquestionable, that, although the Mohammedan inroads may have supplied the armies of India with troops of firmer nerve and steadier discipline, yet, they have prepared the

way for the subjugation of Hindostan, by spoiling her wealth, by scattering her resources, by dividing her interests, and by rendering the natives indifferent as to what master they may serve. As a sort of resumé of the general subject, we insert the following very important remarks by Colonel Briggs.

· The perusal of this history cannot be otherwise than instructive, if it be merely to shew the certain effects of good and bad government among a people whom our ignorance disposes us to consider as devoid

ral energy, and who are prone to submit without resistance to the grossest oppression. It is not my intention to dilate on the origin of this misconception of the Indian character; and a volume would not suffice to point out all the instances to the contrary with which the work abounds. The rapid success of Akbur in subjugating the greater portion of India, by a policy which elevated all classes of his subjects, whether newly subdued or otherwise, and of whatever creed or country, to the level to which their rank in society entitled them; and the rapid downfall of the government of Aurungzeeb, who oppressed the Hindoo population by a poll-tax, and by disqualifications from public employ, are the most striking which occur in the Mahomedan history, The early success of the Portuguese under Albuquerque and Nuno de Cunha may be chiefly ascribed to the confidence they reposed in the natives ; and the decline of their power may be dated from the time when, under the name of religion, they persecuted them on account of their national tenets. These events form prominent landmarks in history, which our own rulers seem prudently to have avoided.

• It was the wisdom, or, perhaps, the good fortune, of the ruling administration in England, to select such governors as Clive and Hastings, in the early part of our Eastern career, who formed the groundwork of our gigantic dominion in the East ; and it is to the great men who have subsequently ruled those possessions, that they owe their present prosperity.

This is not the place to discuss a question of such magnitude. The present form of administration has arisen out of circumstances foreign to the objects contemplated in the original institution of the commercial body which now presides over it; but it stands preeminent among all the political phenomena in the annals of history. To appreciate this engine of government fully, it is necessary, not only to view it as a whole, but to observe the course of its action; and the more it is examined, the more one is struck with the magnitude of its power, and the energy and efficiency of its operation. It is a subject for deep speculation, how, if it were removed, its place could be supplied ; but we may, I think, pronounce with confidence, that whosoever shall venture to do so, either by changing its constitution, or even by violently disturbing its motion, will incur the risk of involving in ruin the British power in India.'

The very able work on Indian taxation, recently published by Colonel Briggs, will, probably, be noticed in our next Number.

[ocr errors]

Art. VI. 1. Diary of Thomas Burton, Esq., Member in the Parlia

ments of Oliver and Richard Cromwell, from 1656 to 1659 : now. first published from the Original Autograph Manuscript. With an Introduction, containing an Account of the Parliament of 1654 ; from the Journal of Guibon Goddard, Esq. M.P. Also now first printed. Edited and illustrated with Notes, historical and biographical. By John Towill Rutt. Four Vols. 8vo. London. 1828.

2. An Historical Account of my own Life, with some · Reflections on

the Times I have lived in (1671-1731). By Edmund Calamy; D.D. Now first published. Edited and illustrated with Notes, historical and biographical. By John Towill Rutt. In two Volumes, 8vo, pp. xxiv. 1070. Price £1. 18s. London, 1829.

IF reading a book were not, according to our obsolete notions,

a preliminary to reviewing it, we should not have been so far behind some of our contemporaries in noticing the first named of these publications. But we must confess that, even now, we have not been able entirely to get through Mr. Burton's voluminous Diary, and that we shrink from the labour requisite to enable us to give a full, true, and particular account of its contents. But we have read enough to feel much indebted to Mr. Rutt for the great pains and care he has taken in editing this curious and valuable document. His opinions and ours differ very widely both on religious and political subjects; but we cannot reasonably refuse to him the right he claims, to give occasional expression to them, as the Notes, taken altogether, form an admirable and indeed indispensable commentary upon the Diary, highly creditable to the Editor's diligence, and discovering a very extensive acquaintance with all the collateral sources of information. Few men, in the present day, would either have undertaken so laborious a task, or have prosecuted it so much con amore. Judging from the fac-simile of a page of the original manuscript, the mere task of deciphering the almost illegible writing, must have been laborious and perplexing in no ordinary degree. Nor is the subject matter of a character to relieve the extreme tiresomeness of the operation. Thomas Burton, Esq. M.P. &c., to whom we are indebted for this Parliamentary Diary, has confined himself to the dry and plodding business of a reporter; and if any thing approaching to eloquence was ever elicited in the course of the debates, no trace of it appears in the worthy Member's minutes. Nothing, indeed, can be more tedious, rambling, vexatious, and often disgusting, than the general character of the discussions; and we rise from the perusal with any thing rather than a higher opinion of the collective wisdom of the legislative body whose proceedings are here laid open.

One thing is made quite clear by this Diary,—that the Restoration was inevitable, and that what rendered it so, was the impossibility of establishing the new Government without violence. The variety of conflicting opinions, the wild theories of the republicans and theocrats, the irreconcileable jealousies between the Parliament and the army, and the inextricable difficulties in which all parties found themselves, rendered a return to the old systein of things the only means of escaping from anarchy. I have sat here in three parliaments,' said one speaker in the debate of Mar. 7, 1658, 9, “and we have still

« AnteriorContinuar »