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the most devoted of his followers to the fortress of Lóhgad, where he was surrounded and starved into a surrender. Banda and the chiefs were sent to Delhi, where, after being treated with every kind of obloquy and insult, they were put to death by the most excruciating tortures. Banda,' says a Mahommedan writer, ' was at last produced, his son being seated in his lap. His father was ordered to cut his throat, which he did without uttering one word, Being then brought nearer the magistrate's tribunal, the latter ordered his flesh to be torn off with red hot pincers, and it was in those moments he expired.'
From this period the Sikhs were persecuted by the Mahommedans with unrelenting severity. An edict was issued ordering all who professed the religion of Nanac to be put to death; "a reward was offered for the head of every Sikhi, and every
Ilindoo ordered to shave off his hair on pain of death. Those who escaped Hled to the mountains to the north-east of the Penjab, and were scarcely heard of for a period of thirty years, when Nadir Shah invaded Iudia. On this event, the peaceable inhabitants of the Penjab, who retired with their property to the same mountains to escape the rapacity of the Persian, were plundered by the Sikhis: the defeat of the rear of Nadir Shah's army, encumbered with spoil, added to their wealth; and at the death of this extraordinary man, taking advantage of the confusion into which the provinces of Lahore and Cabul were thrown, and of the weak state to which the empire of Hindostan was reduced, the Sikbs became daily more bold, and thousands hastened to join a standard under which robbery was made sacred, and to plunder was to be pious. They extended their ravages over most of the provinces of the Penjab; repossessed themselves of the holy city of Amritsar; subdued a considerable part of the Duab of Ravi and Jalcudra, and got possession of many of the countries which they now enjoy, and from which the united forces of the Affghans and the Mahrattas, have in vain endeavoured to expel them. When unable to stand a general action, they invariably éretreated to impenetrable mountains, and the moment they saw an advantage, rushed again into the plains with renewed vigour and recruited numbers. Their determined courage, added to the enthusiasın of religion, has hitherto baffled every attempt to crush them. It is probable, however, that the failure is rather to be ascribed to the declive of the house of Timur than to the coinbined valour of the Sikhs. So far, indeed, is there at present any thing like union among them, that quarrels are regularly transmitted from father to son ; every village is an object of dispute among themselves; and the title to the supremacy is contested between the nearest relations. Scindia, with his French brigades, not only checked their inroads, but made all the chiefs to the southward of the Setlej bis tributaries. Sir J. Malcolm
states, that when Lord Lake, in 1905, pursued Holkar into the Penjab, the condition of the Sikhs was found weak and distracted in a degree that could hardly have been imagined; they were wholly destitute of union, and every shadow of that concord which once formed the strength of the nation, seemed to be extinguished. The whole country is in fact under the government of a number of petty chiefs. These, however, on extraordinary occasions, assemble in a grand national council at the holy city of Amritsar. On this solemn occasion all private animosities cease; every personal feeling is sacrificed to the public good, and nothing is thought of but the interests of the religious commonwealth established by Nanac.
This national council, called the Guru-mata, is convened by the Acalis,* or immortals, - who, under the double character of fanatic priests and desperate soldiers, have usurped the sole direction of all religious affairs at Amritsar, and are consequently leading men in the council held at that sacred place. The cause of one is the cause of all, and no Sikh can offend this powerful body with impunity. When the chiefs are seated, the great book is opened as described by Mr. Wilkins. After the prayers and music have ceased, and the holy cakes of wheat, butter and sugar have been broken and distributed, in commemoration of the command of Nanac to eat and give others to eat, the Acalis exclaim, Sirdars, this is a Gúru-mata. The sacred Grant’h is betwixt us; let us swear by our scripture to forget all internal disputes, and to be united;' after this they proceed to settle the business of the general assenibly.
The principal chiefs of the Sikhs are descendants of Hindoos. The Mahominedans who have become Sikhs are not allowed to attain power;
those who retain their faith and inhabit their territories are very numerous, but invariably poor, despised and oppressed, The lower class of Sikhs are more happy; the tyranny of one chief towards his people would infallibly drive them to seek the protection of a rival chief. The ruling power is entitled to one half of the produce of the land, the farmer to the other half; but the chief generally remits a part of his share; the ryot is treated with great indulgence. They have no written code for the administration of justice. Disputes about property are settled among the heads of the village by the arbitration of five persons, the ancient mode throughout India.
The Sikhs have the Hindoo cast of countenance, are as brave, as active, and more robust, than the Mahrattas; they are bold and rough in their address, and invariably converse in a loud tone of voice. ‘A Sikh,' says Sir J. Malcolm, “bawls a secret in your ear.' He adds, they are more open and sincere than the Mahrat
* From the Sanscrit privative a and cal, death-never-dying.
tas, and less rude and savage than the Affghans: the soldiers are all horsemen, they are without polish, but neither destitute of sincerity nor attachment.' The character of the merchant and the ryot is pretty nearly the same; all indeed wear steel ; and all are prompt to use it when required. A Sikh chief upwards of one hundred years of age was introduced to Lord Lake, who, pleased with the manliness of his address, and the independence of his sentiments, told him he would grant him any favour he chose to ask. •I am glad of it,' said the old man ; ' then march away with your army from my village, which will otherwise be destroyed. Meeting two officers at the door in going away, he laid his hands on their breasts, exclaiming, · Brothers, where were you born, and where are you at this moment ?' and instantly retired. The great objects of Nanac seem to bave been to restore the Hindoo religion to its ancient purity,* and to make all Sikhs equal as to rights, but preserving most of the institutions of Brahma. Gúrú Govind, the tenth spiritual leader in succession, gave a new character to the religion and institutions of the sect, and by the complete abolition of all distinction of castes, destroyed at one blow the whole system of the civil and religious polity of the Hindoos. "The Brahmin, the Chsatrya, the Vaisya, and the Sudra,' he said, 'would, like pawn, (betle-leaf,) chunam, (lime,) supari, (areca nut,) and khat, (catechu,) become all of one colour when well chewed.'
This narrative of Sir John Malcolm is interesting in many points of view. It proves that the Hindoos are by no means so unchangeable in their religious tenets and civil institutions as is generally supposed, when a set of fanatics could so completely succeed in overturning both; and it holds out a hope that, by a proper management of the Brahmins and pundits, the inhuman and impolitic division of the people into castes, that fatal spell which palsies all exertion, might be dissolved, without which all attempts to improve their condition must be fruitless. It also shews us what kind of people are interposed between our possessions and the Persians on the one hand, and the Affghans and lahrattas on the other; and it appears to us, that, united under a wise prince, the Sikhs would prove, on that side of India, an invincible barrier against any enemy that might attempt the invasion of the British territories in Hindostan.
Sir J. Malcolm informs us how this is to be understood — The most ancient Hin. doos do not appear to have paid adoration to idols ; but though they adored God, they worshipped the Sun and Elements.'--p. 147.
Art. XV. The Bridal of Triermain, or, the Vale of St. John,
Edinburgh ; John Ballantyne & Co. London; Longman & Co.
1813. 12mo. pp. 233. THIS poem, which is ushered to the world in a form the most
unassuming, is distinguished by excellencies of no ordinary rank. We are informed, in the preface, that three fragments, write ten in imitation of living poets, were inserted in the Edinburgh An nual Register for the year 1809; and that, as they attracted somewhat more attention than the author anticipated, he was induced to complete one of them, and to present it as a separate publi. cation.
It requires but little discrimination to discover that the prototypes of these beautiful pictures are Scott, Crabbe, and Moore. The imitations of the two latter are given as they appeared in the Edinburgh Annual Register : the fragment which bears the image of the northern minstrel is expanded to the tale which we now in* troduce to the acquaintance of our readers.
There is one peculiarity by which these imitations are distinguished. To say nothing of the more obvious and common exertions of the mimetic art, it must have been observed of those more perfect specimens of imitation, in which not the style merely, but the spirit of the original author's composition, the train of his sentiments, and his characteristic habits of thinking, have been success fully embodied, that the effect has been produced, first by judiciously selecting the peculiarities of his style and sentiments, and then by amplifying and exaggerating them. It is the same, perhaps, in every department of art. The nature which is sung by the poet, and pourtrayed by the painter, is not simple nature, but nature embellished. The intellectual mimic, if we may be allowed the expression, while he faithfully seizes the qualities that are characteristic of his model, seldom fails to vary their degree: his sentiments are considerably overcharged, and the singularities of his composition are either pushed to extravagance, or introduced with unsparing profusion. The author of the Bridal of ier main has happily found means to vary and improve the priociple on which hitherto such imitations have been framed. There is nothing overcharged in his sentiments; nothing exaggerated in his diction. The pictures which he has drawn are not caricatures. He has chosen such subjects as would have been selected by the authors themselves whoin he imitates, and we offer them no offence when we say that they could not themselves have illuminated those subjects with sentiments more poetical, or have expressed those sens timents in language more peculiarly their own. We shall pass over the song written after the manner of Moore,
It is distinguished by all his elegance of conception, and all his ariness and flow of versification; and indeed it is precisely such as at some future period he may himself indite, when maturer years, and a corrected taste, have taught him that the lyre of the poet should, be strung to other themes than the ephemeral strife of party politics, the imputed weaknesses of the great, or the pollution of vulgar sensuality.
But we cannot refrain from noticing somewhat more particularly the imitation of the poet of Mûston. Its title is the Poacher; a character Mr. Crabbe would have delighted to draw, uniting, as it does, all those qualities of poverty, misery, and profligacy, which he pourtrays with unexampled felicity; and in the delineation of it, the author has given us specimens of almost all the merits and defects of the master whom he copies. The cliaracter and scenery are seen with the eye, and drawn with the skill of the original artist. There is the same force, and truth, and minuteness of description; the same selection and compression of language, generally powerful
, though sometimes quaint and familiar; the same delight in dwelling on the realities, and the painful realities of life; the same propensity to quibble and antithesis, by which Crabbe has sometimes relieved, but oftener, perhaps, degraded some of his most gloomy delineations.
The lines in which the history of the Poacher’ is given, possess great excellence independent of every collateral consideration; as a specimen of Mr. Crabbe's style of composition, they leave nothing to be desired.
* That ruffian, whom true men avoid and dread,