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of ignorance, barbarism and tyranny, men of eminent talents had not flourished in other countries. But their having done so is a fact which will not admit of being disputed. Though the character of most men depends on the age they live in, and the Government they live under, there always have been, in every age, a small number who were ahead of their times. In India, men of this class were, for the most part, patronized by the emperors, not because those emperors were anxious for the general spread of knowledge, but simply because they dreaded the pen. But intelligence was no more generally diffused than wealth was, and popular ignorance and imperial despotism, acting and reacting upon each other, perpetuated their respective reigns. Truth requires us also to mention, that, for the most part, miserable scribblers, commonly flatterers and dependents of the kings, were the men who were so patronized. There were some men of real genius amongst them no doubt,— a few great poets and a few good historians,—but even these did not dedicate themselves altogether to the cause of truth— a criterion by which alone all authorship should be judged. Much also was written that is excessively offensive to virtue, and if there were some ideas that were sublime, there was a heap of barbarism and absurdities, shocking to all tastes but the most depraved.
If one section of the community can be said to have been more unfortunate than another, in a society where all were unfortunate to an extreme degree, we must not forget that the Hindus, who comprised the bulk of the nation, labored under many especial freaks of tyranny, which told only against them. The religion they professed was in all respects dissimilar to that of their conquerors, and toleration in religion was a thing unknown under the Muhammedans. The origin of the Muhammedan power in India was fanaticism, and it was likewise the basis upon which most of the rulers acted. The princes were all more or less devoted to Islamism, and the persecution of Hindu idols was the general rule. The conduct of Sultan Mahmood of Ghizni, with respect to the idol of Somnath, is well known. He would not suffer it to exist for all the bribe the Brahmins could offer him, and expressed his utter contempt for a race of men who, from generation to generation, had lived by deceit and crime. When prince Anund Pal of Lahore begged him to spare Thanneswar, he answered, saying, " 1 have resolved to root out idolatry from India, and exalt the faith of Islam; and why should Thanneswar, a refuge of idols, be spared V For his bigotry and intolerance he received from Kaliph Kidersillah the title of Protector of the Faith, and, if bigotry and intolerance be the best qualifications for such a surname, none had a greater right to it than he, for such fanatical enthusiasm as his, has, we believe, never been surpassed. Mohamed Ghori was equally cruel and zealous in the cause of religion. He made nine expeditions into India, and destroyed the idols of more than 1,000 temples, obliging, at the same time, large districts to acknowledge the prophet's faith; and none of the princes who came after him ever hesitated to emulate his ardour. In the reign of Secunder Lodi, a Brahmin having said, in answer to some arguments, that the Hindu and Muhammedan religions were equally good, as God was the object of adoration to both alike, was offered the usual alternative by the king—death or conversion to Muhammedanism : and numerous instances of the like nature are on record, the general principle acted upon by all the princes and the greater chiefs, being either to convert or to oppress. As if ambition and rapine did not beget troubles enough for the poor heathens, religion was pressed in to assist them in breeding more, to complete the system of misrule and persecution. This intolerance, as a system, could not of course be carried out into all the minutiae of existence, except within the immediate precincts of the court . Idols far and near were destroyed from time to time, but only at the whim of princes, and not from an established line of conduct; nor could every idolater be punished for his superstitious observances, nor every image that he worshipped at home in secret, be desecrated or demolished. We do read indeed, that, in places where the Mussalmans dwelt in large numbers, even the sound of a conch or bell was not permitted to disturb the stillness of the air; but we read also that the government of those places which the Hindus held sacred, as for instance the city of Benares, was always left in the hands of native chiefs, and never, either in spite or wantonness, committed unto the Muhammedans. Perhaps this was done only out of respect to the Rajpoot race, whose prejudices and feelings appear ever to have been regarded with some consideration, and to reconcile whose good will concessions of importance were frequently made. They were zealous props of the Mogul empire, and as faithful as they were staunch ; and it was not until Aurungzebe began those religious persecutions which were carried out with rigor even against them, that they were alienated from the cause of the Government. All the partiality of the predecessors of Aurungzebe, however, for this warlike race, never went so far as to secure to them concessions of any extraordinary character. If Benares was left under the government of Hindu Rajas, it was not necessarily made subject exclusively to Hindu interests. There were indeed no less than a thousand Hindu temples in it, but ere the Muhammedan empire came to its end, there were erected in it upwards of 300 mosques for the followers of the Faithful to pray in, a circumstance which ostensibly appears to be a proof of impartiality, but, viewed in connection with the fact already mentioned, that in Muhammedan villages even the sound of a Hindu bell was not tolerated, appears to us to be rather a confirmation than a denial of intolerance.
Religious intolerance, however, was not always the sequence of religious prejudice; for if it had been so, the Timour family should not have been intolerant at all. All the descendants of Baber, perhaps Aurungzebe excepted, were deists, and took little pains even to counterfeit Muhammedanism. Humayun affected to be a Shiah at the Persian court, to please Tamasp, though he had ever affected to be a Sunni at his own. Jehangire had figures of Christ and the Virgin at the head of his rosary, and two of his nephews embraced Christianity with his full approbation. Even Aurungzebe himself was but a hypocrite. He affected, indeed, to be a devout Mussulman. But this was only a cloak to cover his wickedness; and the mask was too ill set not to be seen through .But their not being staunch Muhammedans, secured the Hindus no advantage, for their prejudices against them were as strong as they could have been under any other circumstances. Baber in his Memoirs speaks of the Hindus as "dogs," "damnable heathens," "wretches fit only to people the lowest regions of hell;" and none of his descendents ever condescended to think more charitably of them. As for Aurungzebe, it was his persecution only which sowed those seeds of disaffection, which in time yielded such a bitter harvest to his successors, by increasing the Mahratta interest throughout the land. If he was not a Muhammedan, he always affected to be one, that he might persecute the poor Hindus with better grace.
We must here conclude. We trust we have depicted the Muhammedan Government aright. Could we afford space for the comparison, we would here contrast it with the British Government in India. But our limits will not admit of our doing so at present. A brief sketch of the British administration, we expect, however, to present before our readers on some future occasion.
Art. II.—Robinson's History of Assam.
There is not perhaps'any country in the world of the same extent, where there are so many different races of men collected together, as are to be found scattered about within the Valley of Assam, and on the adjacent Hills situated in its immediate neighbourhood. Who were the real aborigines of the province, is still a profound mystery; and as the histories in possession of the natives themselves do not contain any record of the times previous to the first century of the Christian era, at which period Assam appears to have been a populous country, it is not very probable that this question will ever receive a satisfactory solution. The earliest invaders of whom any account is extant, would seem to have come from the west, and to have established in the lower parts of the valley a Hindu form of Government over the people, whom they regarded as melech (mletcha) or unclean.
After this, the country was subject to inroads from the northern tribes inhabiting the Himalayas, and again by the Mahomedan rulers from Gour in Bengal. In the eastern portion of the valley, the chief invaders came from the borders of China and Burmah, and as the rule of each of these conquering tribes generally lasted but a short period, a continued succession of foreigners were constantly over-running the province, each in their turn leaving some of their members settled about in various places, who, on a fresh change of rulers, soon became merged in the general body of the inhabitants. In this manner numerous tribes from the four points of the compass have become engrafted on the original stock, which may have consisted of Kooches in some parts, and of Kacharis, Rabhas, Salongs, and Mekirs in others. At least so much can be said in favour of these being Aborigines, that nothing is known which would lead to the supposition that they had immigrated from other places; whereas there is no doubt, but that the Ahoms, Chutteahs, Singphoos and Khamptees, all came from the countries beyond the eastern limits of the valley, and that the Brahmins, Kaists, and other Hindoo castes, must all have entered the province from the side of Bengal.
To trace the history of all the conquests and revolutions, which, at an early period, disturbed the peace of the country, would occupy more space than we can afford. Suffice it therefore to say that, previous to the invasion of the country by the Burmese, the valley of Assam was inhabited by Ahoms, Chutteahs, Singphoos, Khamptees, Muttocks, Kooches, Kacharis, Mekirs, Salongs, Eabhas, Assamese from Brahmins down to Dooms or fishermen, with a large number of Mahomedans ; and the neighbouring hills, by Booteahs, Akas,Senfflas, Meerees, Abors, Mishmees, Nagas, Khasseahs and Garos, nearly every one of which tribes has a separate and distinct language of its own, which being unwritten, varies very considerably amongst the villages of each tribe ; and in some instances the dialects have become so widely separated, that each community has its own language, which is totally incomprehensible to any but the inhabitants of the particular place itself.
Amongst the people of the valley, the predominant castes of Hindus are Brahmins, Kaists, Koletahs, Kaiwuts, Koochees and Dooms, the latter of whom, however, are hardly acknowledged to be within the pale of Hinduism, although they are the followers of a Gosain. The Mussulman population is small, compared with the number of Hindus, and not having at any time attained much hold on the Government of the province, they have always been looked down upon by the Hindus, whose customs and habits they have adopted, to an extent which would certainly astonish a strict disciple of the prophet. The largest number of the faithful are to be met with in Lower and Central Assam, and but few in the upper parts of the valley, which being farthest from the point where they entered, the province was less subject to the proselytizing propensities of these people, and obtained a smaller number of colonists as settlers in the country.
Although so many years have elapsed since most of the tribes invaded the province, it is still easy to perceive the great difference of physiognomy which characterizes the different races. Very little fusion appears to have taken place, the customs prevailing amongst them having perpetuated the distinctive casts of countenance, whereas, had the practice of intermarriage been adopted, it would, long ago, have produced a similarity of appearance, and obliterated the peculiarities which separate one class from another. At the present day the IndoChinese tribes are as easily distinguished from the rest of the inhabitants as though they had but lately descended from the steppes of Tartary; there is no mistaking the Mongolian eye, flat nose, and high cheek bones of these people, who are also fairer and of a more yellowish color than the other sections of the people; whereas the other tribes do not possess any very remarkable points in their appearance, which would afford to the observer any clue to their origin. They are mostly a very ill-favoured race, having flat unmeaning faces, small eyes, low foreheads, and large mouths, and are considerably darker than those whose