Page images
PDF
EPUB

square, which is wholly planted round with orange trees; there are likewise pomegranates. All around the piece of water the ground is quite covered with clover. This spot is the very eye of the beauty of the garden. At the time when the orange becomes yellow, the prospect is delightful. Indeed the garden is charmingly laid out. To the south of this garden lies the Koh-e-Sefîd (the White Mountain) of Nangenhâr, which separates Bangash from Nangenhâr. There is no road by which one can pass it on horseback. Nine streams descend from this mountain. The snow on its summit never diminishes, whence probably comes the name of Koh-e-Sefîd * (the White Mountain). No snow ever falls in the dales at its foot."

“ The wine of Dereh-Nûr is famous all over Lamghanât. It is of two kinds, which they term areh-lâshi (the stone-saw), and suhantashi (the stone-file). The stone-saw is of a yellowish colour ; the stone-file, of a fine red. The stone-saw, however, is the better wine of the two, though neither of them equals their reputation. Higher up, at the head of the glens, in this mountain, there are some apes to be met with. Apes are found lower down towards Hindustan, but none higher up than this hill. The inhabitants used formerly to keep hogs,t but in my time they have renounced the practice.”

His account of the productions of his paternal kingdom of Ferghana is still more minute-telling us even the number of apple-trees in a particular district, and making mention of an excellent way of drying apricots, with almonds put in instead of the stones, and of a wood with a fine red bark, of admirable use for making whip-handles and birds' cages! The most remarkable piece of statistics, however, with which he has furnished us, is in his account of Hindustân, which he first entered as a conqueror in 1525. It occupies twenty-five closelyprinted quarto pages; and contains, not only an exact account of its boundaries, population, resources, revenues, and divisions, but a full enumeration of all its useful fruits, trees, birds, beasts, and fishes, with such a minute description of their several habitudes and peculiarities as would make no contemptible figure in a modern work of natural history-carefully distinguishing the facts which rest on his own observation from those which he gives only on the testimony of others, and making many suggestions as to the means of improving, or transferring them from one region to another. From the detailed botanical and zoological descriptions, we can afford of course to make no extracts. What follows is more general:

* The Koh-e-Sefid is a remarkable position in the geography of Afghanistan. It is seen from Peshâwer.

+ This practice Baber viewed with disgust, the hog being an impure animal in the Muhammedan law,

“ Hindustan is situated in the first, second, and third climates. No part of it is in the fourth. It is a remarkably fine country. It is quite a different world, compared with our countries. Its hills and rivers, its forests and plains, its animals and plants, its inhabitants and their languages, its winds and rains, are all of a different nature. Although the Germsils (or hot districts), in the territory of Kabul, bear, in many respects, some resemblance to Hindustân, while in other particulars they differ, yet you have no sooner passed the river Sind than the country, the trees, the stones, the wandering tribes, * the manners and customs of the people, are all entirely those of Hindustân. The northern range of hills has been mentioned. Immediately on crossing the river Sind, we come upon several countries in this range of mountains, connected with Kashmîr, such as Pekheli and Shemeng. Most of them, though now independent of Kashmîr, were formerly included in its territories. After leaving Kashmir, these hills contain innumerable tribes and states, pergannahs and countries, and extend all the way to Bengal and the shores of the Great Ocean. About these hills are other tribes of men.”

“ The country and towns of Hindustân are extremely ugly. All its towns and lands have an uniform look ; its gardens have no walls ; the greater part of it is a level plain. The banks of its rivers and streams, in consequence of the rushing of the torrents that descend during the rainy season, are worn deep into the channel, which makes it generally difficult and troublesome to cross them. In many places, the plain is covered by a thorny brush-wood, to such a degree that the people of the Pergannas, relying on these forests, take shelter in them, and, trusting to their inaccessible situation, often continue in a state of revolt, refusing to pay their taxes. In Hindustan, if you except the rivers, there is little running water.t Now and then some standing water is to be met with. All these cities and countries derive their water from wells or tanks, in which it is collected during the rainy season. In Hindustân, the populousness and decay, or total destruction of villages, nay of cities, is almost instantaneous. Large cities that have been inhabited for a series of years (if, on an alarm, the inhabitants take to fight), in a single day, or a day and a half, are so completely abandoned, that you can scarcely discover a trace or mark of population.”[

« * The Ils and Ulûses."

+ In Persia there are few rivers, but numbers of artificial.canals or water-runs for irrigation, and for the supply of water to towns and villages. The same is the case in the valley of Soghd, and the richer parts of Maweralnaher.

“[ This is the wulsa or walsa, so well described by Colonel Wilks in his Historical Sketches, vol. I. p. 309, note : "On the approach of an hostile army, the unfortunate inhabitants of India bury under ground their most cumbrous effects, and each individual, man, woman, and child above six years of age, (the infant children being carThe prejudices of the more active and energetic inhabitant of the hill country are still more visible in the following passage :

“ Hindustan is a country that has few pleasures to recommend it.* The people are not handsome. They have no idea of the charms of friendly society, of frankly mixing together, or of familiar intercourse. They have no genius, no comprehension of mind, no politeness of manner, no kindness or fellow-feeling, no ingenuity or mechanical invention in planning or executing their handicraft works, no skill or knowledge in design or architecture ; they have no good horses, no good Alesh, no grapes or musk-melons,t no good fruits, no ice or cold water, no good food or bread in their bazars, no baths or colleges, no candles, no torches, not a candlestick.”

“ The chief excellency of Hindustan is, that it is a large country, and has abundance of gold and silver. The climate during the rains is very pleasant. On some days it rains ten, fifteen, and even twenty times. During the rainy season, inundations come pouring down all at once, and form rivers, even in places where, at other times, there is no water. While the rains continue on the ground, the air is singularly delightful—insomuch, that nothing can surpass its soft and agreeable temperature. Its defect is, that the air is rather moist and damp. During the rainy season, you cannot shoot, even with the bow of our country, and it becomes quite useless. Nor is it the bow alone that becomes useless ; the coats of mail, books, clothes, and furniture, all feel the bad effects of the moisture. Their houses, too, suffer from not being substantially built. There is pleasant enough weather in the winter and summer, as well as in the rainy season; but then the north wind always blows, and there is an excessive quantity of earth and dust flying about. When the rains are at hand, this wind blows five or six times with excessive violence, and such a quantity of dust

ried by their mothers), with a load of grain proportioned to their strength, issue from their beloved homes, and take the direction of a country (if such can be found) exempt from the miseries of war ; sometimes of a strong fortress, but more generally of the most unfrequented hills and woods, where they prolong å miserable existence until the departure of the enemy; and if this should be protracted beyond the time for which they have provided food, a large portion necessarily dies of hunger.' See the note itself. The Historical Sketches should be read by every one who desires to have an accurate idea of the South of India. It is to be regretted that we do not possess the history of any other part of India, written with the same knowledge or research.”

* Baber's opinions regarding India, are nearly the same with those of most Europeans of the upper class, even at the present day. · + Grapes and musk-melons, particularly the latter, are now common all over India.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

flies about that you cannot see one another. They call this an Andhi.
It gets warm during Taurus and Gemini, but not so warm as to be
come intolerable. The heat cannot be compared to the heats of Balkh
and Kandahår. It is not above half so warm as in these places. An-
other convenience of Hindustan is, that the workmen of every pro-
fession and trade are innumerable and without end. For any work,
or any employment, there is always a set ready, to whom the same
employment and trade hare descended from father to son for ages. In
the Zefer Nameh of Mülla Sherif-ed-din Ali Yerdi, it is mentioned
a surprising fact, that when Taimur Beg was building the Sangin (ar
stone) mosque, there were stone-cutters of Azerbaejan, Fars. Hindus.
tin, and other countries, to the number of two hundred, working every
dar on the mosque. In Agra alone, and of stone-cutters belonging
to that place only, I every day employed on my palares six hundred
and eighty persons ; and in Agra, Sikri, Biana, Dholpur, Guallar,
and Koel, there were every day employed on my works one thousand
four hundred and ninety-one stone-entters. In the same war, men
of every trade and occupation are numberless and without stmt in
Hindustan

“The countries from Behreh to Behår, which are not under my dominion, yield a revenue of fifty-two krorst as will appear from the particular and detailed statement.I Of this amount. Pergantas to the value of eight or nine krors are in the possession of w e Rais and Raias, who from old times have been submissive, and have faces. red these Pergannas for the purpose of confirming them in their obedience."

These memoirs contain many hundred characters and more traits of individuals; and it would not be fair not to give our readers one or two specimens of the royal author's minute stile of execution on such subjects. We may begin with that of Omer-Sheikh Mirza, his grandfather, and immediate prederas sor in the throne of Ferghana :

* Omer-Sheikh Mirza was of low stature, had a short besar beard brownish hair, and was very corpulent. He used to wear history tremelytight; insomuch, that as he was wont to contract his

t

. he tied the strings, when he let himself out again the strings

h e burst. He was not curious in either his food or dress. He tied his mirhan in the fashion called Destår-pêch (or plaited turban.) At that time, all turbans were worn in the char-pech (or four-plait) style. He wore his without folds, and allowed the end to hang down. Doring the heats, when out of the Divån, he generally wore the Moghul

obust and firm ; ake. Although ► dressed in gayly wore a cap of festival days, he I showy, and hayle to prayers. his head that he be recited in the it him. Finally, ording to the orhe was unable to d fasts. He was asty, and his lan

displayed a proe of his sons haers of blood to be r about six or se; very guarded in

the law; afteriring nearly forty ussed in which he Irank wine in the 1 the town's-peoI to vie with each brave and valiant y, frequently dis' in the course of seg ever equalled le had a turn for Tûrki. His po» far from being ne measure. Alent of territory, and of amusing

ultan Abusaid,

* This is still the Hindustani term for a storm, or tempest.

Abont a million and a half sterling, or rather £1,300.000
This statement unfortunately has not been preserved.
About £225,000 sterling.

ent. He had a wer part of the s. He wore his hat was termed rought forward

“ He read elegantly : his general reading was the Khamsahs, the Mesnevis,t and books of history; and he was in particular fond of reading the Shahnâmeh.f Though he had a turn for poetry, he did not cultivate it. He was so strictly just, that when the caravan from Khita|| had once reached the hill country to the east of Andejân, and the snow fell so deep as to bury it ; so that of the whole, only two persons escaped : he no sooner received information of the occurrence, than he dispatched overseers to collect and take charge of all the property and effects of the people of the caravan; and, wherever the heirs were not at hand, though himself in great want, his resources being exhausted, he placed the property under sequestration, and preserved it untouched ; till, in the course of one or two years, the heirs, coming from Khorasan and Samarkand, in consequence of the inti. mation which they received, he delivered back the goods safe and uninjured into their hands. His generosity was large, and so was his whole soul ; he was of an excellent temper, affable, eloquent and sweet in his conversation, yet brave withal, and manly. On two occasions he advanced in front of the troops, and exhibited distinguished prowess ; once, at the gates of Akhsi, and once at the gates of Shahrokhia. He was a middling shot with the bow; he had uncommon force in his fists, and never hit a man whom he did not knock down. From his excessive ambition for conquest, he often exchanged peace for war, and friendship for hostility. In the earlier part of his life he was greatly addicted to drinking bûzeh and talarg. Latterly, once or twice in the week, he indulged in a drinking party. He was a pleasant companion, and in the course of conversation used often to cite, with great felicity, appropriate verses from the poets. In his latter days he was much addicted to the use of Maajûn, ** while under

* Several Persian poets wrote Khamsahs, or poems, on five different given subjects. The most celebrated is Nezâmi.

+ The most celebrated of these Mesnevis is the mystical poem of Moulavi Jilâleddin Muhammed. The Sufis consider it as equal to the Koran.

I The Shahnámeh, or Book of Kings, is the famous poem of the great Persian poet Ferdausi, and contains the romantic history of ancient Persia.

|| North China, but often applied to the whole country from China to Terfân, and now even west to the Ala-tagh Mountains.

$ This anecdote is erroneously related of Baber himself by Ferishta and others. See Dow's Hist. of Hindostan, vol. ii. p. 218.

4 Bûzeh is a sort of intoxicating liquor somewhat resembling beer, made from millet. Talar I do not know, but understand it to be a preparation from the poppy. There is, however, nothing about bûzeh or talar in the Persian, which only specifies sherâb, wine or strong drink.

** Any medical mixture is called a maajun ; but in common speech, the term is chiefly applied to intoxicating comfits, and especially those prepared with bang.

« PreviousContinue »