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BERNIER. [FRANÇOIS BERNIER—" the most instructive of all East India travellers," as he has been called—was a physician who had a passionate desire for peregrination. About 1656 he had an opportunity of proceeding from Cairo to the East Indies; and his skill as a medical practitioner enabled him to travel without cost. He entered the dominions of the Great Mogul when the sons of Shah Jehan were fighting for the empire, and Dara and Aurungzebe (or Aurengzebe) matched their power in a struggle, truly fearful in its deadly hatred and revenge. The great battle that gave the crown to Aurungzebe, and consigned Dara to an ignominious death, is told with wonderful spirit by the French physician. The extracts which we give are from a translation by Mr. Irving Brock, in two volumes. Bernier, after living twelve years in India as physician to Aurungzebe, returned to France, and died in 1688.]
The preparations I have described being completed, the artillery of both armies opened their fire, the invariable mode of commencing an engagement; and the arrows were already thick in the air, when suddenly there fell a shower of rain so violent as to interrupt the work of slaughter for a while. The weather had no sooner cleared than the sound of cannon was again heard, and Dara was at this time seen seated on a beautiful elephant of Ceylon, issuing his orders for a general onset; and, placing himself at the head of a numerous body of horse, advanced boldly towards the enemy's cannon. He was received with firmness, and soon surrounded by heaps of slain. And not only the body which he led to the attack, but those by which he was followed, were thrown into disorder. Still did he retain an admirable calmness, and evince his immovable determination not to recede. He was observed on his elephant looking about him with an undaunted air, and marking the progress of the action. The troops were animated by his example, and the fugitives resumed their ranks; the charge was repeated, but he could not come up to the enemy before another volley carried death and dismay to the assailants, many took to flight; but the greater part seemed to have imbibed Dara's spirit, and followed their intrepid commander, until the cannon were forced, the iron chains disengaged, the enemy's camp entered, and the camels and infantry put completely to the rout. It was now, that the cavalry of both armies coming in contact, the battle raged with the greatest fierceness. Showers of arrows obscured the air, Dara himself empty. ing his quiver : these weapons, however, produce but little effect, nine out of ten flying over the soldiers' heads, or falling short. The arrows discharged, the sword was drawn, and the contending squadrons fought hand to hand, both sides appearing to increase in obstinacy in proportion as the sword performed its murderous work. During the whole of this tremendous conflict, Dara afforded undeniable proofs of invincible courage, raising the voice of encouragement and command, and performing such feats of valour, that he succeeded at length in overthrowing the enemy's cavalry, and compelling it to fly.
Aurengzebe, who was at no great distance, and mounted also on an elephant, endeavoured, but without success, to retrieve the disasters of the day. He attempted to make head against Dara, with a strong body of his choicest cavalry, but it was likewise driven from the field in great confusion. Here I cannot avoid commending his bravery and resolution. He saw that nearly the whole of the army under his immediate command was defeated and put to flight; the number which remained unbroken and collected about his person, not exceeding one thousand (I have been told it scarcely amounted to five hundred). He found that Dara, notwithstanding the extreme ruggedness of the ground which separated them, evidently intended to rush upon his remaining little band; yet did he not betray the slightest symptom of fear, or even an inclination to retreat; but, calling many of his principal officers by name, exclaimed, Delirané! (Courage, my friends), Koda-hé! (God is), What hope can we find in flight ? Know ye not where is our Deccan ? Koda-he! Koda-he! and then, to remove all doubt of his resolution, and to show that he thought of nothing less than a retreat, he commanded (strange expedient !) that chains should be fastened to the feet of his elephant; a command he would undoubtedly have seen obeyed, if all those who were about him had not given the strongest assurances of their unsubdued spirit and unshaken fidelity.
Dara all this time meditated an advance upon Aurengzebe, but was retarded by the difficulty of the ground, and by the enemy's cavalry, which, though in disorder, still covered the hills and plains that intervened between the two commanders. Certainly he ought to have felt that without the destruction of his brother, victory would be incom
plete ; nor should he have suffered any consideration to move him, from his purpose of attacking Aurengzebe, now that he was so clearly incapable of offering effectual resistance. He had an easy opportunity to crush this formidable rival; but the circumstance I am about to relate distracted his attention, and saved Aurengzebe from the impending danger.
Dara perceived at this critical moment that his left wing was in disorder; and an aide-de-camp bringing him intelligence of the deaths of Ruotum-Khan and Sittersal, and of the imminent peril into which Ram-Singh-Routlé was placed in consequence of having valiantly burst through the enemy, by whom he was, however, entirely surrounded, Dara abandoned the idea of pushing towards Aurengzebe, and determined to fly to the succour of the left wing. After a great deal of hard fighting, Dara's presence turned the tide of fortune, and the enemy was driven back at all points; but the rout was not so complete as to leave him without occupation. Meanwhile Ram-Singh-Routlé was opposed to Morâd Bakche, and performing prodigies of valour. The Rajah wounded the prince, and approached so near as to cut some of the bands by which the amari was fixed upon the elephant, hoping in that way to bring his antagonist to the earth ; but the intrepidity and adroitness of Morâd-Bakche did not permit him to accomplish his object. Though wounded, and beset on all sides by the rajaputs, the Prince disdained to yield : he dealt his blows with terrible effect, throw ing at the same time his shield over his son, a lad of seven years of age, seated at his side; and discharged an arrow with so unerring an aim that the Rajah fell dead on the spot.
It was not long before Dara was made acquainted with the serious loss he had sustained; and hearing also that Morâd Bakche was hemmed in by the rajaputs, rendered furious by the death of their master, he determined, notwithstanding every obstacle, to advance to the attack of that prince; the only measure by which he could hope to repair the error committed in suffering Aurengzebe to escape: but even this step was rendered abortive by an act of treachery, which involved Dara in immediate and irretrievable ruin.
Calil-ullah-Khan, who commanded the right wing, consisting of thirty thousand Moguls, a force which alone was sufficient to destroy Aurengzebe's army, kept aloof from the engagement, while Dara, at the head of the left wing, fought with courage and success. The traitor pretended that his division was designed for a corps of reserve, and that he could not, consistently with his orders, move one step, or discharge a single arrow, until the last extremity; but the blackest perfidy was the cause of his inaction.
A few years prior to this period, Calil-ullah had suffered some indignity at the hands of Dara, and he considered the hour had arrived when he might gratify the resentment which had never ceased to rankle in his bosom. His abstinence from all share in the battle did not, however, produce the mischief intended, Dara having proved victorious without the co-operation of the right wing. The traitor, therefore, had recourse to another expedient. He quitted his division, followed by a few persons, and riding with speed towards Dara, precisely at the moment when that prince was hastening to assist in the downfall of Morâd-Bakche, he exclaimed, while yet at some distance, Mohbarekbad, Hazeret, Salamet, Elhamd-ul-ellah! May you be happy! May your majesty enjoy health, and reign in safety! The victory is your own! But let me ask, why are you still mounted on this lofty elephant ? Have you not been sufficiently exposed to danger? If one of the numberless arrows, or balls, which have pierced your canopy had touched your person, who can imagine the dreadful situation to which we should be reduced ? In Heaven's name descend quickly, and mount your horse; nothing now remains but to pursue the fugitives with vigour. I entreat your majesty, permit them not to escape!
Had Dara considered the consequences of quitting the back of his elephant, on which he had displayed so much valour, and served as a rallying point to the army, he would have become master of the empire; but the credulous prince, duped by the artful obsequiousness of Calil-ullah, listened to his advice as though it had been sincere. He descended from the elephant, and mounted his horse; but a quarter of an hour had not elapsed when, suspecting the imposture, he inquired impatiently for Calil-ullah. The villain, however, was not within his reach: he inveighed vehemently against that officer, and threatened him with death ; but Dara's rage was now impotent, and his menace incapable of being executed. The troops having missed their prince, a rumour quickly spread that he was killed and the army be. trayed : a universal panic seized them; every man thought only of his own safety, and how to escape from the resentment of Aurengzebe
In a few minutes the army scemed disbanded, and (strange and sudden reverse !) the conqueror became the vanquished. Aurengzebe remained during a quarter of an hour steadily on his elephant, and was rewarded with the crown of Hindostan: Dara left his own elephant a few minutes too soon, and was hurled from the pinnacle of glory, to be numbered amongst the most miserable of princes :-80 short-sighted is man, and so mighty are the consequences which sometimes flow from the most trivial incidents.”
The Patan having assembled, during the night, a considerable number of armed men, seized this gold, together with the women's jewels, and fell upon Dara and Sipper Shekô, killed the persons who attempted to defend them, and tied the prince on the back of an ele. phant. The public executioner was ordered to sit behind, for the purpose of cutting off his head, upon the first appearance of resistance, either on his own part, or on that of any of his adherents; and in this degrading posture Dara was carried to the army before Tatta, and delivered into the hands of Mir-Baba. This officer then commanded Jihon-Khan to proceed with his prisoner, first to Lahore, and afterwards to Delhi.
When the unhappy prince was brought to the gates of Delhi, it became a question with Aurengzebe whether, in conducting him to the fortress of Gualior, he should be made to pass through the capital. It was the opinion of some courtiers that this was by all means to be avoided, because not only would such an exhibition be derogatory to the royal family, but it might become the signal for revolt, and the rescue of Dara might be successfully attempted. Others maintained, on the contrary, that he ought to be seen by the whole city: that it was necessary to strike the people with terror and astonishment, and to impress their minds with an idea of the absolute and irresistible power of Aurengzebe. It was also advisable, they added, to undeceive the omrahs and the people, who still entertained doubts of Dara's captivity, and to extinguish at once the hopes of his secret partisans. Aurengzebe viewed the matter in the same light; the wretched prisoner was therefore secured on an elephant; his son, Sipper-Sheko, placed at his side, and behind them, instead of the executioner, was seated Bhadur-Khan. This was not one of the majestic elephants of Pegu or Ceylon, which Dara had been in the habit of mounting, pom