« PreviousContinue »
counted treasures. Ferocious as Mahmud was in war, and delighting in the devastation and subversion of the sacred cities and buildings of India, he is said, by Ferishta, to have been equally astonished and enraptured, when he beheld the admirable beauty and majestic grandeur of its lofty and numerous temples, whose gorgeous shrines were loaded with offerings brought from the remotest parts of India, ever burning with the purest naphtha, ever fragrant with the costliest incense.
"The soul of the invader was electrified with joy at the tidings of the wealth of Mattura, whither he instantly urged his desolating progress. The enfeebled arm of the rajah of Delhi, to whom of ancient time its defence was confided, was, in vain, raised for its defence. The troops, participating the savage ardour of Mohammedan zeal, which fired the breast of their master against Indian idols, and also inflamed with a similar passion for the precious materials of which they were generally composed, forced their irresistible way into the centre of that hallowed city, which the remorseless Mahmud at once delivered over to boundless spoliation and rapine. Nothing can be conceived more dreadful than the wild and wasteful havock made by soldiers impelled by such sentiments to destroy every thing deemed sacred and valuable in the consecrated metropolis of an innocent and unoffending, though infatuated, race of men, for the most part priests and devotees, whose only weapons are prayers, and whose only hopes of succour are from the too obdurate skies. As the women of Hindostan, according to Sir William Jones,* are in a more peculiar manner devoted to Creeshna, or rather, to use his own words, are passionately fond of that god, in this his pastoral avatar, and as Mattura was the ground on which was originally instituted the sacred dance of the Gopi's, or nine beautiful mistresses of Creeshna, engraved on one of Holwell's plates, no doubt the whole city was crowded with those enchanting women, selected for sacred purposes, from the noblest families, and called the girls of the idol': the shrieks therefore of violated beauty, added to the cries of a numerous and frantic priesthood raging through the streets, or expiring on their own altars, must have greatly increased the horrors of this tremendous scene. While the troops were plundering the spacious city, Mahmud, with his chosen bands, was engaged in despoiling the pagodas, burning some, and mutilating others of the innumerable images contained in them, and doubtless allusive to the various feats recorded in the eventful history of Crecshna : his combats with dæmons and giants; and his patronage of virtuous, or punishment of vicious, princes, whom he descended from heaven to protect or extirpate.
"The accumulated mass of wealth acquired in Mattura was prodigious; for, independently of the plunder of the palaces and private houses, in the various temples alone were found five great idols of pure gold, with eyes of rubies, each of which eyes was worth fifty thousand dinars. Upon another idol was found a sapphire, weighing four hundred miskal; and the image being melted down, produced ninety-eight thousand three hundred miskal of pure gold. Besides these, there were above a hundred idols of silver, which loaded a hundred cathels with bullion." P. 285.
But, astonishing as was this mass of wealth, it was far exceeded by what the same rapacious invader obtained in his twelfth and *Asiatic Researches, Vol. I. p. 160.
final irruption into that country, when he attacked the vast temple and castle of Sumnaut, in Guzzurat, near the shore of the ocean, in which were treasured, with pious zeal, and guarded with as pious vigilance, the hoarded offerings in gold, silver, and gems of princes, and devout pilgrims flocking thither for a series of centuries, from every region of that extensive region of Asia. The description of this famous shrine has ample vouchers for its authenticity in the Persian and Arabian histories of the conquests, made by the Ma.. hommedans in India, yet its unrivalled, its superlative grandeur, above that of all other idol temples in Asia, tempts us to think, while reading it, that we are treading on fairy ground. It is as follows:
"The lofty roof of Sumnaut was supported by fifty-six pillars, overlaid with plates of gold, and incrusted at intervals with rubies, emeralds, and other precious stones. One pendant lamp alone illumined the spacious fabric, whose light, reflected back from innumerable jewels, spread a strong and refulgent lustre throughout the whole temple. In the midst stood Sumnaut himself, an idol composed of one entire stone, fifty cubits in height, forty-seven of which were buried in the ground; and, on that spot, according to the Brahmins, he had been worshipped between four and five thousand years, a period beyond, which, it is remarkable, they seldom venture to ascend; for, it is a period at which their Cali, or present age, commences: it is, in short, the period of that flood, beyond which, human records cannot ascend. His image was washed every morning and evening with fresh water brought from the Ganges, at the distance of twelve hundred miles. Around the dome were dispersed some thousands of images, in gold and silver, of various shapes and dimensions, so that on, this spot, as in a grand pantheon, seemed to be assembled all the deities venerated in Hindostan.
"After placing a large body of guards at the gates and round the walls, Mahmud entered the city, and approaching the temple was struck with the majestic grandeur of that ancient structure; but, when he entered in and saw the inestimable riches it, contained, he was filled with astonishment, mingled with delight. In the fury of Mohammedan zeal he smote off the nose of the idol with a mace which he carried, and ordered the image to be disfigured and broke to pieces. While they were proceeding to obey his command, a croud of Brahmins, frantic at this treatment of their idol, petitioned his omrahs to interfere, and offered some crores in gold, if he would forbear farther to violate the image of their deity. They urged, that the demolition of the idol would not remove idolatry from the walls of Sumnaut, but that such a sum of money, given among believers, would be an action truly meritorious. The sultan acknowledged the truth of their remark, but declared, that he would never become that base character, which a co-incidence with their petition would render him, a seller of The persons appointed, therefore, proceeded in their work; and, having mutilated the superior parts, broke in pieces the body of the idol, which had been made bollow, and contained an infinite variety of diamonds, rubies, and pearls
of a water so pure, and of a magnitude so uncommon, that the beholders were filled with surprise and admiration. This unexpected treasure, with all the other spoil, taken in the temple and city of Sumnaut, were immediately secured, and sent to Gazna; while fragments of the demolished idol were destributed to the several mosques of Mecca, Melina, and Gazna, to be thrown at the threshold of their gates, and trampled upon by devout and zealous mussulmen.” P. 297.
Notwithstanding his unrelenting cruelties to the poor Hindoos, yet was this Mahmud in other respects endowed with many great and princely virtues. He was the patron of men of genius and science, encouraged the arts, and among his own subjects i. e. those of the Mahommedan faith, was celebrated for inflexible justice. The truth is, the armed supporters of that sanguinary creed, in those days, looked upon all who did not adopt it as unworthy to breathe-they called them infidel dogs, and treated them as such. This circumstance will help to illustrate what is obscure, and apparently contradictory, in the subsequent well-drawn character of this prince, with which the first part of the volume concludes, and with which, for the present, we will terminate our observations.
"Thus great, thus mean; thus formidable, thus contemptible; thus benevolent, thus cruel, was the potent Mahmud; whose empire extended from the shores of the Caspian to the mouth of the Indus; and from the Tigris to the Ganges. No Mohammedan prince before him, ever attained to so exalted a point of power and splendour, ever rolled in so inuch wealth, or was ever stained with so much blood. The liberal patron of the arts, at Gazna; at Delhi, the remorseless despoiler of their proudest monuments! affecting towards the Great Creator the most zealous piety, but acting towards his creatures with ferocious barbarity. So singular a compound of qualities the most opposite, has seldom occured in the historic page; though, in these pages, but too many characters will hereafter pass in review, polluted with all the vices, unmitigated by the virtues of Mahmud. Of the atrocities that marked a GENGIS, a TIMUR, and an AURENGZEB, it will soon be my painful task to give the black details, and to trace through desolated India, their blood-stained steps. I shall attempt neither to disguise, nor to palliate their crimes; but display them, for the contem plation of future depredators, in all the horrors of native deformity; under whatever sounding title concealed, endeavour to detect and expose the sordid baseness of avarice, and to ensanguined ambition hold up the genuine mirror. This is the duty of the historian at all times, but more particularly, of an historian of India; the debateable ground, if I may so term it, of ravaged Asia-the ACELDAMA of the earth." P. final.
We understand that a map of Hindostan, according to its modern divisions, and coloured to mark the different proprietors of its provinces, as now partitioned out between the English, the Nizam, the Mahrattas, and other powers in India, will be given with the Second Part, and that both are nearly finished,
History of the Relellion in the Year 1745. By John Home Esq.*
Ir is very surprising that no regular and impartial account of this rebellion should have been published, during a lapse of nearly sixty years. This work is from the pen of a gentleman, who has highly distinguished himself in the literary world, by his much admired tragedy of Douglas, and other literary works. He informs us that he has taken great pains to collect a sufficient fund of materials, in order to leave an impartial account of this event, so important in British annals. He was an eye witness of many of the chief transactions; and took an active part in them. Though not originally devoted to the military profession, his love of liberty, and his loyalty to the constitutional sovereign, led him to take up arms against the rebels. Of the fidelity of the narrative, there seems no reason to doubt. Indeed, whatever might have been the bent of the author's mind at an early period of life, he has certainly taken effectual care, that his fancy, as a poet, shall not invade his province as an historian.
This publication labours under some disadvantages. Fortunately for this country, the Scottish rebellions are now merely matters of history. The family, whose pretentions to sovereignty, caused two civil wars in the bosom of this island, has dwindled away into the person of an aged and unfortunate priest; whose remaining comforts depend upon the generous feeling of the head of a rival house and the liberality of a people, the violation of whose liberties cost his ancestors the crown of these realms.
Many however there are among us, who will read this book with a lively interest. Many still remember the agitation and anxiety of every true friend to the constitution and prosperity of Great Britain, at the period when the rebel army, almost without impediment, had "marched into the bowels of the land." Had that army been placed upon a more regular footing, and better supported by an auxiliary foreign force, what might have been the issue? An event, perhaps, too painful to be contemplated with British feelings! In that lamentable reverse, the brightest exploit of this nation would have lost its lustre. A sour, morose, and persecuting system of religious worship would have been established: liberty, which had been so closely allied to protestant principles, would have been known only by the remembrance of abrogated rights: the national honour would have been sacrificed, to repay the treacherous assist
A fine portrait, with an authentic memoir, of Mr. Home, appeared in No. 45 of the Monthly Mirror.
ance of France and the glorious lesson of the revolution in 1688, would, to Britain, to Europe, and to the world, have been given in vain.
The chief merit of this history will be found to consist in the minute and correct detail which it gives of all the measures of the rebels, from the landing of the pretender, on the 25th of July 1745, in the Bay of Lochnanuagh, on the western coast of Scotland, with the Marquis of Tullibardine, and a few other attendants, to his departure, on the 20th of September, 1746, with about 100 of his adherents, in two French frigates, which conveyed them in safety to Roscort, near Morlaix in Brittanny, on the 29th of the same month. Throughout the whole history, Charles seems to have displayed a high degree of personal bravery, and an ardent desire to contend for the crown of his father. In relating the circumstances of his entry into the metropolis of Scotland, the author has thus described the appearance of the adventurer.
"The Park was full of people, (among whom was the author of this history) all of them impatient to see this extraordinary person. The figure and presence of Charles Stuart, were not ill suited to his lofty pretensions. He was in the prime of youth; tall and handsome; of a fair complexion; he had a light coloured perriwig, with his own hair combed over the front: he wore the Highland dress; that is, a tartan short coat, without the plaid, a blue bonnet on his head; and on his breast, the star of the order of St. Andrew. Charles stood sometime in the Park, to shew himself to the people, and then, though he was very near the Palace, mounted his horse, either to render himself more conspicuous, or because he rode well, and looked graceful on horseback."
The appendix to this work is extremely useful, as it contains several important papers, which throw new lights upon many circumstances of the rebellion. Among them is a statement by Mr. Patullo, (who acted as muster master to the pretender) of their force on entering England, which amounted to rather more than 5000 men, with about 500 horse; these last were mostly low country gentlemen, and their servants. At the battle, which put an end to their hopes and prospects, we learn, from the same authority, that although the number on the rolls amounted to more than 8000 men, it was not possible, owing to the fatigue, hunger, and want of sleep they suffered, to bring 5000 of them into the field. Indeed, they seem to have laboured under peculiar difficulties on that day. By the official return in the appendix, (dated at Aberdeen, March 28, 1746,) the duke of Cumberland's force consisted of 7179 ❝ effective rank and file.” Mr. Home observes, that the magazines and newspapers of the time, made the loss of the vanquished