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recoil of long-continued injustice on the heads of its authorsthe substantial advantages of honesty and fair dealing over the most ingenious systems of trickery and fraud ;-and eventhough this is the last and hardest, as well as the most precious, of all the lessons of reason and experience—that the toleration even of religious errors is not only prudent and merciful in itself, and most becoming a fallible and erring being, but is the surest and speediest way to compose religious differences, and to extinguish that most formidable bigotry, and those most pernicious errors, which are fed and nourished by persecution. It is the want of this knowledge, or rather of the capacity for attaining it, that constitutes the palpable inferiority of the Eastern races; and, in spite of their fancy, ingenuity, and restless activity, condemns them, it would appear irretrievably, to vices and sufferings, from which nations in a far ruder condition are comparatively free. But we are wandering too far from the magnificent Baber and his commentators,--and must now leave these vague and general speculations for the facts and details that lie before us.
Zehir-ed-din Muhammed, surnamed Baber, or the Tiger, was one of the descendants of Zengiskhan and of Tamerlane; and though inheriting only the small kingdom of Ferghana in Bucharia, ultimately extended his dominions by conquest to Delhi and the greater part of Hindostan; and transmitted to his famous descendants, Akber and Aurengzebe, the magnificent empire of the Moguls. He was born in 1482, and died in 1530. Though passing the greater part of his time in desperate military expeditions, he was an educated and accomplished man; an elegant poet; a minute and fastidious critic in all the niceties and elegances of diction; a curious and exact observer of the statistical phenomena of every region he entered; a great admirer of beautiful prospects and fine flowers; and, though a devoted Mahometan in his way, a very resolute and jovial drinker of wine. Good-humoured, brave, munificent, sagacious, and frank in his character, he might have been a Henry IV. if his training had been in Europe ;-and even as he is, is less stained, perhaps, by the Asiatic vices of cruelty and perfidy than any other in the list of her conquerors. The work before us is a faithful translation of his own account of his life and transactions, written, with some considerable blanks, up to the year 1508, in the form of a narrative-and continued afterwards, as a journal, till 1529. It is here illustrated by the most intelligent, learned, and least pedantic notes we have ever seen annexed to such a performance; and by two or three introductory dissertations, more clear, masterly, and full of instruction
than any it has ever been our lot to peruse on the history or geography of the East. The translation was begun by the late very learned and enterprising Dr Leyden. It has been completed, and the whole of the valuable commentary added by Mr W. Erskine, on the solicitation of the Hon. Mountstewart Elphinstone and Sir John Malcolm, the two individuals in the world best qualified to judge of the value or execution of such a work. The greater part of the translation was finished and transmitted to this country in 1817, but was only committed to the press in the course of last year.
The preface contains a learned account of the Turki language, (in which these memoirs were written,) the prevailing tongue of Central Asia, and of which the Constantinopolitan Turkish is one of the most corrupted dialects,—some valuable corrections of Sir William Jones's notices of the Institutes of Taimūr,—and a very clear explanation of the method employed in the translation, and the various helps by which the great difficulties of the task were relieved. The first Introduction, however, contains much more valuable matters: It is devoted to an account of the great Tartar tribes, who, under the denomination of the Turki, the Moghul, and the Mandshur races, may be said to occupy the whole vast extent of Asia, north of Hindostan and part of Persia, and westward from China. Of these, the Mandshurs, who have long been the sovereigns of China, possess the countries immediately to the north and east of that ancient empire-the Turki, the regions immediately to the north and westward of India and Persia Proper, stretching round the Caspian, and advancing, by the Constantinopolitan tribes, considerably to the south-east of Europe. The Moghuls lie principally between the other two. These three tribes speak, it would appear, totally different languages—the name of Tartar or Tatar, by which they are generally designated in Europe, not being acknowledged by any of them, and appearing to have been appropriated only to a small clan of Moghuls. The Huns, who desolated the declining empire under Attila, * are thought by Mr Erskine to have been of the Moghul race; and Zengiskhan, the mighty conqueror of the
* The learned translator conceives that the supposed name of this famous barbarian was truly only the denomination of his office. It is known that he succeeded his uncle in the government, though there were children of his alive. It is probable, therefore, that he originally assumed authority in the character of their guardian; and the word Atalik, in Tartar, signifies guardian, or quasi parens.
thirteenth century, was certainly of that family. Their princes, however, were afterwards blended, by family alliances, with those of the Turki; and several of them, reigning exclusively over conquered tribes of that descent, came gradually, though of proper Moghul ancestry, to reckon themselves as Turki sovereigns. Of this description was Taimur Beg, or Tamerlane, whose family, though descended from Zengis, had long been settled in the Turki kingdom of Samarkand; and from him the illustrious Baber, the hero of the work before us, a decided Turki in language, character, and prejudices, was lineally sprung. The relative condition of these enterprising nations, and their more peaceful brethren in the south, cannot be more clearly or accurately described than in the words of Mr Erskine:
“ The whole of Asia may be considered as divided into two parts by the great chain of mountains which runs from China and the Birman Empire on the east, to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean on the west. From the eastward, where it is of great breadth, it keeps a north-westerly course, rising in height as it advances, and forming the hill countries of Assâm, Bootân, Nepal, Sirinagar, Tibet, and Ladâk. It encloses the valley of Kashmîr, near which it seems to have gained its greatest height, and thence proceeds westward, passing to the north of Peshâwer and Kâbul, after which it appears to break into a variety of smaller ranges of hills that proceed in a westerly and south-westerly direction, generally terminating in the province of Khorasan. Near Herât, in that province, the mountains sink away; but the range appears to rise again near Meshhed, and is by some considered as resuming its course, running to the south of the Caspian and bounding Mazenderân, whence it proceeds on through Armenia, and thence into Asia Minor, finding its termination in the mountains of ancient Lycia. This immense range, which some consider as terminating at Herât, while it divides Bengal, Hindustân, the Penjab, Afghanistan, Persia, and part of the Turkish territory, from the country of the Moghul and Tûrki tribes, which, with few exceptions, occupy the whole extent of country from the borders of China to the sea of Azof, may also be considered as separating, in its whole course, nations of comparative civilization, from uncivilized tribes. To the South of this range, if we perhaps except some part of the Afghân territory, which, indeed, may rather be held as part of the range itself than as south of it, there is no nation which, at some period or other of its history, has not been the seat of a powerful empire, and of all those arts and refinements of life which attend a numerous and wealthy population, when protected by a government that permits the fancies and energies of the human mind to follow their natural bias. The degrees of civilization and of happiness possessed in these various regions may have been extremely different; but many of the comforts of wealth and abundance, and no small share of the higher treasures of cultivated judgment and imagination, must have been enjoyed by nations that could produce the various systems of Indian philosophy and science, a drama so polished as the Sakontala, a poet like Ferdousi, or a moralist like Sadi. While to the south of this range we everywhere see flourishing cities, cultivated fields, and all the forms of a regular government and policy, to the north of it, if we except China and the countries to the south of the Sirr or Jaxartes, and along its banks, we find tribes who, down to the present day, wander over their extensive regions as their forefathers did, little if at all more refined than they appear to have been at the very dawn of history. Their flocks are still their wealth, their camp their city, and the same government exists of separate chiefs, who are not much exalted in luxury or information above the commonest of their subjects around them.”
These general remarks are followed up by an exact and most luminous geographical enumeration of all the branches of this great northern family,-accompanied with historical notices, and very interesting elucidations of various passages both in ancient and modern writers. The following observations are of more extensive application :
“ The general state of society which prevailed in the age of Baber, within the countries that have been described, will be much better understood from a perusal of the following Memoirs, than from any prefatory observations that could be offered. It is evident, that, in consequence of the protection which had been afforded to the people of Mâweralnaher by their regular governments, a considerable degree of comfort, and perhaps still more of elegance and civility, prevailed in the towns. The whole age of Baber, however, was one of great confusion. Nothing contributed so much to produce the constant wars, and eventual devastation of the country, which the Memoirs exhibit, as the want of some fixed rule of Succession to the Throne. The ideas of regal descent, according to primogeniture, were very indistinct, as is the case in all Oriental, and, in general, in all purely despotic kingdoms. When the succession to the crown, like everything else, is subject to the will of the prince, on his death it necessarily becomes the subject of contention ;-since the will of a dead king is of much less consequence than the intrigues of an able minister, or the sword of a successful commander. It is the privilege of liberty and of law alone to bestow equal security on the rights of the monarch and of the people. The death of the ablest sovereign was only the signal for a general war. The different parties at court, or in the haram of the prince, espoused the cause of different competitors, and every neighbouring potentate believed himself to be perfectly justified in marching to seize his portion of the spoil. In the course of the Memoirs, we shall find that the grandees of the court, while they take their place by the side of the candidate of their choice, do not appear to believe that fidelity to him is any very necessary virtue. The nobility, unable to predict the events of one twelvemonth, dege. nerate into a set of selfish, calculating, though perhaps brave partizans. Rank, and wealth, and present enjoyment, become their idols.
The prince feels the influence of the general want of stability, and is himself educated in the loose principles of an adventurer. In all about him he sees merely the instruments of his power. The subject, seeing the prince consult only his pleasures, learns on his part to consult only his private convenience. In such societies, the steadiness of principle that flows from the love of right and of our country can have no place. It may be questioned whether the prevalence of the Mahommedan religion, by swallowing up civil in religious distinctions, bas not a tendency to increase this indifference to country, wherever it is established."
“ That the fashions of the East are unchanged, is, in general, certainly true ; because the climate and the despotism, from the one or other of which a very large proportion of them arises, have continued the same. Yet one who observes the way in which a Musulman of rank spends his day, will be led to suspect that the maxim has sometimes been adopted with too little limitation. Take the example of his Pipe and his Coffee. The Kalliûn, or Hûkka, is seldom out of his hand; while the coffee-cup makes its appearance every hour, as if it contained a necessary of life. Perhaps there are no enjoyments the loss of which he would feel more severely; or which, were we to judge only by the frequency of the call for them, we should suppose to have entered from a more remote period into the system of Asiatic life. Yet we know that the one (which has indeed become a necessary of life to every class of Musulmans) could not have been enjoyed before the discovery of America ; and there is every reason to believe, that the other was not introduced into Arabia from Africa, where coffee is indigenous, previously to the sixteenth century;* and what marks the circumstance more strongly, both of these habits have forced their way, in spite of the remonstrances of the rigorists in religion. Perhaps it would have been fortunate for Baber had they prevailed in his age, as they might have diverted him from the immoderate use first of wine, and afterwards of deleterious drugs, which ruined his constitution, and hastened on his end."
The Yâsi, or institution of Chengiz, are often mentioned. “ They seem,” says Mr Erskine, “to have been a collection of the old usages of the Moghul tribes, comprehending some rules of state and ceremony, and some injunctions for the punishment of particular crimes. The punishments were only two-death and the bastinado;t the number of blows extending from seven to seven hundred. There is something very Chinese in the whole of the Moghul system of punishment, even princes advanced in years, and in command of large armies, being punished by bastinado with a stick, by their father's orders. Whether they received their usage in this respect from the
* La Roque, Traité Historique de l'Origine et du Progrés du Café, &c. Paris, 1716, 12mo.
+ D'Herbelot, Biblioth. Orient. Art. Turk.