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Art. I.—1. Elliot's Historians of Muhammedan India.
2. Brigg's History of the Muhammedan Power in India.
3. Dow's History of Hindustan.
4. Elphinstone's History of India.
In contrasting the rule of the British in India, with that of their predecessors in the Government, it is too often the practice of a certain class of writers, to depreciate the presentfore think that, though the subject be a rather hackneyed one, we will be doing some service to the cause of truth, by sifting into the history of the Muhammedan rule in this country, and depicting it in its own proper colors. We shall not attempt to trace commotions to their source, nor to uncover and expose the secret springs of action; but shall simply confine ourselves to a cursory and general examination of facts, and to observations based on that enquiry, on the principal features of that unchanging tyranny, which, commencing from the rough times of Mahmood of Ghizni, remained unabated even in the courtly days of Akbar and Aurungzebe. These observations will necessarily embrace a period of above 700 years, and though the general reader may wonder that we should attempt to generalize reflections on the events of such an extensive period, the historic student, who knows that the Government was as intolerent, absolute and cruel to the end as in the beginning, will, we are persuaded, find no occasion to quarrel with our remarks, or question the fitness of their application.
At the end of the tenth century after Christ, Alptagin, an officer in the service of the Samani Kings of Bokhara, succeeded in rendering Ghizni an independent principality, and on his death left it to Subaktagin his general. Mahmood, the son of Subaktagin, succeeded his father in the government of this little empire, and by his valor, vastly extended its confines and increased his power. After making many encroachments on the side of Persia, he directed his best energies to the conquest of India, and he fully succeeded to the extent of his design. Twelve different invasions were effected at different times, tem
pies and idols in large numbers were desecrated and demolished, valuable booty consisting of gold, silver and jewellery, was carried off in triumph, and India became a province of the Ghiznian Empire. The entire subjugation of the country, however, was not effected till towards the end of the twelfth century> when Mahomed Ghori finally demolished the Hindu power, and committed the government of the kingdom to his favourite slave, Kjittubudeen Ibek, who at once established himself at Delhi. From that time, to the capture of Delhi, by the British, in 1803, the Government, though exercised by different dynasties, and with different degrees of vigor, was uninterruptedly Muhamedan, and preserved in its principal peculiarities an unvaried sameness through every stage of civilization. A cursory glance at the reign of the several princes will show this more clearly; but our limits will not permit us to take any lengthened view of each individual administration.
The principal feature of Mahmood's Government was the plundering of cities, and the levying of contributions; and till the time of Kuttubudeen Ibek, this was all the attention India received from her conquerors. The reigns of the Ghiznian and Ghorian houses, therefore, might well be passed over without further notice. From the reign of Kuttubudeen may be dated the commencement of a regular administration, and yet for a long period, history presents us nothing but an almost uninterrupted series of warfare, and an unbroken tissue of plunder, carnage and misrule. Kuttub was valiant; but after gaining the sovereignty, he resigned himself to idleness and intemperance. Aram, his son, was unequal to" the task of government. Altumsh, his successor, was vigorous, but all his energy was employed in putting down the other competitors for the throne. Euknudeen was weak and dissolute, and unfit to exercise the regal powers, which were accordingly arrogated by his mother, a cruel and passionate woman, who disgusted every body, and thus paved the way for the deposition of her son. The talents and virtues of Sultana Rizia were great, but her sex encouraged the presumption of ambitious men. Difficulties increased around her. She was conquered, and put to death. Byram, her successor, was a man of pleasure, and as imprudent as he was weak. His reign was of short duration, and was remarkable only for the invasion of India by the army of Jengis, who penetrated into the country as far as Lahore, but did not push further on becoming over-laden with plunder. His successor Musaood was equally infirm and vicious. The Omrahs conspired against him, and he was thrown into prison, while with the unanimous consent of all parties, his uncle Nasirudeen Mahmood was elevated to the throne. Nasirudeen was a man of vigor and prudence, but all his activity was kept engaged in wars. Rebellious Governors were reduced to obedience, Ghizni was conquered back from the Moguls, who had eased it off the hands of his predecessors, the Gickers and other mountain-tribes were chastised for misconduct and insolence. But the internal administration of the country does not appear to have profited largely from his wisdom. We read that an ambassador from Hullacu, the grandson of Jengis, was received at court amidst the grandest display of affluence and power. But the wealth and ostentation of the court were never, either then or in after times, correct indications of the comfort and felicity of the people. The reign of Gheasudeen Bulbun was also one of great vigor, and he made strong efforts to correct the morals of his court . Convulsions in Central Asia had driven many princes and learned men to seek refuge at Delhi, and the manner in which he treated these fugitives, has been very much commended by historians. But towards his own subjects he was cruel and harsh, and wanton in the punishments he inflicted. His successor Keikobad was licentious and effeminate in the extreme, and during the whole period of his administration, there was nothing but anarchy and confusion, every ambitious man scrambling to arrogate as much power as he could with impunity. He very early fell a sacrifice to this spirit of insubordination, which he was so unfit to control. The Emperor Jellaludeen, who was hauled up to succeed him, was an excellent sovereign, but his capacity for government was not equal to the goodness of his heart, and, though personally kind, generous and lenient, he did not succeed in bettering the condition of his subjects. The police was neglected, factions and rebellions grew strong from the little check they received, and he died by the hands of his own nephew, whom his partiality had elevated above his children. Of Alia it need only be said that he reigned in the same manner as he won the throne, that is, in a very violent manner. If his government was more vigorous than that of his predecessor, it was at the same time much more inhuman, oppressive and harsh.
From the time of Allaudeen Khilji to the advent of Timour, there was a perpetual and unvaried contention for the throne, which was repeatedly over and over lost and won by intrigues, perfidies and violence. We have murders and the putting out of eyes enough to make the mind sick of horror. Omer was imprisoned, and his eyes put out, after his elder brothers had been served in like manner. Mubarick and his sons were murdered in one night, and a great many men, in rank inferior only to kings, were likewise sacrificed. When Gheasudeen Toglek mounted the throne, these tragedies ceased indeed for a time. But his reign was short. His son Mahomed ruled for twenty-seven years, and was so barbarous and wantonly inhuman, that his tyranny was perhaps the one most pre-eminently disastrous to the people. Feroz Toglek was a weak sovereign, very well disposed towards his subjects, for he did all he could to promote their welfare ;and mosques, schools, caravanserais, wells, aqueducts, bridges, &c, without number, were made during his reign. But he had not the energy to prevent the mis-government of his subordinates. The reigns of Gheasudeen II. and Abubaker were unfortunate; that of Nasirudeen was altogether void of repose, the Emperor being kept chiefly employed in subduing and anticipating insurrections ; and in the time of the infant Mahmood, there were two Emperors in Delhi, (Mahmood and his rival Nuserit Shah,) who, for three years, struggled to supplant each other, and, of course, threw the affairs of Government into the greatest confusion, the edicts in force one day being cancelled on the next, as one party triumphed over another.
In 1397 Timour crossed the Indus, and carried fire and sword through the provinces he passed. Delhi was taken and pillaged, and the desperate courage of the inhabitants " cooled in their own blood." He then caused himself to be proclaimed Emperor, and after having, by his cruelties, won the unenviable surname of Hillak Khan, or the Destroyer, he went back to Samarcand, leaving India, if possible, in a worse condition than he found it in.
From the time of Chizer to the conquest of Baber, the Empire was so ill-governed, that many provinces started into independence, and the stewards of the state assumed the name and dignity of Kings. Chizer, though himself a man of considerable ability, could not altogether conciliate the jealousies of his brother Omrahs. His successor, Mubarick, was also endowed with talents, which, however, did not prevent his being defied and assassinated by the disaffected nobles; and Mahomed and Allaudeen were ill-acquainted with the art of conducting the affairs of Government. Allaudeen resigned his sceptre. Knowing that he was not fit for his place, he preferred to live and die in peace and obscurity, rather than run the risk of being assassinated, or blinded on the throne; and Beloli Lodi, the Viceroy of Sirhind, stepped into the vacant