My visit to Delhi, once the great capital of Hindoostaun, and the residence of the great Sultauns, has made impressions of a lasting kind, and presented a moral lesson to my mind, I should be sorry to forget in after years; for there I witnessed the tombs of righteous men in perfect repair after the lapse of many centuries, standing in the midst of the mouldering relics of kings, princes, and nobles, many of whose careers, we learn from history, was comparatively of recent date; yet, excepting in one solitary instance of Shah Allum's grave, without so much of order remaining as would tell to the passing traveller the rank of each individual's mausoleum, now either entirely a ruin or fast mouldering to decay.
The original city of Delhi presents to view one vast extent of ruins; abounding in mementos of departed worth, as well as in wrecks of greatness, ingenuity, and magnificence. Why the present city was erected or the former one deserted, I cannot venture an opinion, neither can I remember correctly in what reign the royal residence was changed; but judging from the remnants of the old, I should imagine it to have been equally extensive with the modern Delhi. A part of the old palace is still standing, whither the present King, Akbaar Shah, occasionally resorts for days together, attracted perhaps by sympathy for his ancestors, or by that desire for change inherent in human nature, and often deemed essential to health in the climate of Hindoostaun.
The city of Delhi is enclosed by a wall; the houses, which are generally of brick or red stone, appear to good advantage, being generally elevated a story or two from the ground-floor, and more regularly constructed than is usual in Native cities. Mosques, mukhburrahs, and emaum-baarahs, in all directions, diversify the scene with good effect; whilst the various shops and bazaars, together with the outpourings of the population to and from the markets, give an animation to the whole view which would not be complete without them.
The palace occupies an immense space of ground, enclosed by high walls, and entered by a gateway of grand architecture. On either side the entrance I noticed lines of compact buildings, occupied by the military, reaching to the second gateway, which is but little inferior in style and strength to the grand entrance; and here again appear long lines of buildings similarly occupied. I passed through several of these formidable barriers before I reached the marble hall, where the King holds his durbar (court) at stated times; but as mine was a mere unceremonious visit to the King and Queen, it was not at the usual hour of durbar, and I passed through the hall without making any particular observations, although I could perceive it was not deficient in the costliness and splendour suited to the former greatness of the Indian empire.
After being conveyed through several splendid apartments, I was conducted to the Queen's mahul (palace for females), where his Majesty and the Queen were awaiting my arrival. I found on my entrance the King seated in the open air in an arm chair enjoying his hookha; the Queen's musnud was on the ground, close by the side of her venerable husband. Being accustomed to Native society, I knew how to render the respect due from an humble individual to personages of their exalted rank. After having left my shoes at the entrance and advanced towards them, my salaams were tendered, and then the usual offering of nuzzas, first to the King and then to the Queen, who invited me to a seat on her own carpet, --an honour I knew how to appreciate from my acquaintance with the etiquette observed on such occasions.
The whole period of my visit was occupied in very interesting conversation; eager inquiries were made respecting England, the Government, the manners of the Court, the habits of the people, my own family affairs, my husband's views in travelling, and his adventures in England, my own satisfaction as regarded climate, and the people with whom I was so immediately connected by marriage; --the conversation, indeed, never flagged an instant, for the condescending courtesy of their Majesties encouraged me to add to their entertainment, by details which seemed to interest and delight them greatly.
On taking leave his Majesty very cordially shook me by the hand, and the Queen embraced me with warmth. Both appeared, and expressed themselves, highly gratified with the visit of an English lady who could explain herself in their language without embarrassment, or the assistance of an interpreter, and who was the more interesting to them from the circumstance of being the wife of a Syaad; the Queen indeed was particular in reminding me that 'the Syaads were in a religious point of view, the nobles of the Mussulmauns, and reverenced as such far more than those titled characters who receive their distinction from their fellow-mortals'.
I was grieved to be obliged to accept the Queen's parting present of an embroidered scarf, because I knew her means were exceedingly limited compared with the demands upon her bounty; but I could not refuse that which was intended to do me honour at the risk of wounding those feelings I so greatly respected. A small ring, of trifling value, was then placed by the Queen on my finger, as she remarked, 'to remind me of the giver.'
The King's countenance, dignified by age, possesses traces of extreme beauty; he is much fairer than Asiatics usually are; his features are still fine, his hair silvery white; intelligence beams upon his brow, his conversation gentle and refined, and his condescending manners hardly to be surpassed by the most refined gentleman of Europe. I am told by those who have been long intimate with his habits in private, that he leads a life of strict piety and temperance, equal to that of a durweish of his faith, whom he imitates in expending his income on others without indulging in a single luxury himself.
The Queen's manners are very amiable and condescending; she is reported to be as highly gifted with intellectual endowments as I can affirm she is with genuine politeness.
I was induced to visit the mukhburrah of the great-great-grandfather of the present King of Oude, who, at his death, --which occurred at Delhi, I believe, --was one of the Soobadhaars of the sovereign ruler of India. This nobleman, in his time, had been a staunch adherent to the descendants of Timoor, and had been rewarded for his fidelity by public honours and the private friendship of the King. The monument erected over his remains, is in a costly style of magnificence, and in the best possible condition, standing in the centre of a flower-garden which is enclosed by a stone wall, with a grand gateway of good architecture. The mukhburrah is spacious, and in the usual Mussulmaun style of building mausoleums; viz., a square, with a dome, and is ascended by a flight of broad steps. This building stands about three miles from the city, in a good situation to be seen from the road. I was told that the family of Oude kept readers of the Khoraun in constant attendance at the mukhburrah; and I observed several soldiers, whose duty it was to guard the sacred spot, at the expense of the Oude government.
In explanation of the word Soobadhaar, it may not be uninteresting to remark in this place, that when the government of Hindoostaun flourished under the descendants of Timoor, Soobadhaars were appointed over districts, whose duty, in some respects, bore resemblance to that of a Governor; with this difference, that the soobadhaaries were gifts, not only for the life of the individuals, but to their posterity for ever, under certain restrictions and stipulations which made them tributary to, and retained them as dependants of, the reigning sovereign: --as for instance, a certain annual amount was to be punctually transferred to the treasury at Delhi; the province to be governed by the same laws, and the subjects to be under the same control in each Soobadhaarie as those of the parent sovereignty; the revenue exacted in the very same way; each Soobadhaar was bound to retain in his employ a given number of soldiers, horse and foot, fully equipped for the field, with perfect liberty to employ them as occasion served in the territory which he governed, whether against refractory subjects, or encroachments from neighbouring provinces; but in any emergency from the Court at Delhi, the forces to be, at all times, in readiness for the Sultaun's service at a moment's notice.
The gift of a Soobadhaarie was originally conferred on men who had distinguished themselves, either in the army, or in civil capacities, as faithful friends and servants of the Sultaun. In the course of time, some of these Soobadhaars, probably from just causes, threw off their strict allegiance to their Sovereign, abandoned the title of Soobadhaar, and adopted that of Nuwaub in its stead, either with or without the consent of the Court of Delhi.
As it is not my intention to give a precise history of the Indian empire, but merely to touch on generalities, I have confined my remarks to a brief explanation of the nature of this office; and will only add, that whilst the Soobadhaars (afterwards the Nuwaubs) of Oude swayed over that beautiful province under these titles, they continued to send their usual nuzzas to the King of Delhi, although no longer considered under his dominion; thus acknowledging his superiority, because inferiors only present nuzzas. But when Ghauzee ood deen Hyder was created King of Oude, he could no longer be considered tributary to the House of Timoor, and the annual ceremony of sending a nuzza, I understood, was discontinued. The first King of Oude issued coins from his new mint almost immediately after his coronation, prior to which period the current money of that province bore the stamp of Delhi.
Shah Nizaam ood deen was one of the many Mussulmaun saints, whose history has interested me much. He is said to have been dead about five hundred years, yet his memory is cherished by the Mussulmauns of the present day with veneration unabated by the lapse of years, thus giving to the world a moral and a religious lesson, 'The great and the ambitious perish, and their glory dieth with them; but the righteous have a name amongst their posterity for ever.'
I was familiar with the character of Nizaam ood deen long prior to my visit at the Court of Delhi, and, as maybe supposed, it was with no common feeling of pleasure I embraced the opportunity of visiting the mausoleum erected over the remains of that righteous man.
The building originally was composed of the hard red stone, common to the neighbourhood of Delhi, with an occasional mixture of red bricks of a very superior quality; but considerable additions and ornamental improvements of pure white marble have been added to the edifice, from time to time, by different monarchs and nobles of Hindoostaun, whose pious respect for the memory of the righteous Shah Nizaam ood deen is testified by these additions, which render the mausoleum at the present time as fresh and orderly as if but newly erected.
The style of the building is on the original, I might say, only plan of Mussulmaun mukhburrahs--square, with a cupola. It is a beautiful structure on a scale of moderate size. The pavements are of marble, as are also the pillars, which are fluted and inlaid with pure gold; the ceiling is of chaste enamel painting (peculiarly an Indian art, I fancy,) of the brightest colours. The cupola is of pure white marble, of exquisite workmanship and in good taste; its erection is of recent date, I understand, and the pious offering of the good Akbaar Shah, who, being himself a very religions personage, was determined out of his limited income to add this proof of his veneration for the sainted Nizaam to the many which his ancestors had shown.
The marble tomb enclosing the ashes of Shah Nizaam ood deen is in the centre of the building immediately under the cupola; this tomb is about seven feet long by two, raised about a foot from the pavement; on the marble sides are engraved chapters from the Khoraun in the Arabic character, filled up with black; the tomb itself has a covering of very rich gold cloth, resembling a pall.
This tranquil spot is held sacred by all Mussulmauns. Here the sound of human feet are never heard; 'Put off thy shoes', being quite as strictly observed near this venerated place, as when the mosque and emaum-baarah are visited by 'the faithful'; who, as I have before remarked, whenever a prayer is about to be offered to God, cast off their shoes with scrupulous care, whether the place chosen for worship be in the mosque, the abode of men, or the wilderness.
I was permitted to examine the interior of the mausoleum. The calm stillness, which seemed hardly earthly; the neatness which pervaded every corner of the interior; the recollection of those virtues, which I so often heard had distinguished Shah Nizaam's career on earth, impressed me with feelings at that moment I cannot forget; and it was with reluctance I turned from this object to wander among the surrounding splendid ruins, the only emblems left of departed greatness; where not even a tablet exists to mark the affection of survivors, or to point to the passing traveller the tomb of the monarch, the prince, or the noble, --except in the instance of Shah Allum, --whilst the humble-minded man's place of sepulture is kept repaired from age to age, and still retains the freshness of a modern structure in its five hundredth year.
There are men in charge of Shah Nizaam ood deen's mausoleum who lead devout lives, and subsist on the casual bounties gleaned from the charitable visitors to his shrine. Their time is passed in religious duties, reading the Khoraun over the ashes of the saint, and keeping the place clean and free from unholy intrusions. They do not deem this mode of existence derogatory; for to hold the situation of darogahs, or keepers of the tombs of the saints, who are held in universal veneration amongst Mussulmauns, is esteemed an honourable privilege.
In this sketch of my visit to the tombs at Delhi, I must not omit one very remarkable cemetery, which, as the resting place of the last reigning sovereign of Hindoostaun, excited in me no small degree of interest, whilst contrasting the view it exhibited of fallen greatness, with the many evidences of royal magnificence.
The tomb I am about to describe is that erected over the remains of Shah Allum; and situated within view of the mausoleum of the righteous plebeian, Shah Nizaam. It is a simple, unadorned grave; no canopy of marble, or decorated hall, marks here the peaceful rest of a monarch, who in his life-time was celebrated for the splendour of his Court; a small square spot of earth, enclosed with iron railings, is all that remains to point to posterity the final resting place of the last monarch of Hindoostaun. His grave is made by his favourite daughter's side, whose affection had been his only solace in the last years of his earthly sufferings; a little masonry of brick and plaster supports the mound of earth over his remains, on which I observed the grass was growing, apparently cultured by some friendly hand. At the period of my visit, the solitary ornament to this last terrestrial abode of a King was a luxuriant white jessamine tree, beautifully studded with blossoms, which scented the air around with a delightful fragrance, and scattered many a flower over the grave which it graced by its remarkable beauty, height, and luxuriance. The sole canopy that adorns Shah Allum's grave is the rich sky, with all its resplendent orbs of day and night, or clouds teeming with beneficent showers. Who then could be ambitious, vain, or proud, after viewing this striking contrast to the grave of Shah Nizaam? The vain-glorious humbled even in the tomb; --the humble minded exalted by the veneration ever paid to the righteous.
I was persuaded to visit the ruins of antiquity which are within a morning' s drive of Delhi. Nothing that I there witnessed gave me so much pleasure as the far-famed Kootub, a monument or pillar, of great antiquity, claimed equally by the Hindoo and Mussulmaun as due to their respective periods of sovereign rule. The site is an elevated spot, and from the traces of former buildings, I am disposed to believe this pillar, standing now erect and imposing, was one of the minarets of a mosque, and the only remains of such a building, which must have been very extensive, if the height and dimensions of the minaret be taken as a criterion of the whole.
This pillar has circular stairs within, leading to galleries extending all round, at stated distances, and forming five tiers from the first gallery to the top, which finishes with a circular room, and a canopy of stone, open on every side for the advantage of an extensive prospect. Verses from the Khoraun are cut out in large Arabic characters on the stones, which form portions of the pillar from the base to the summit in regular divisions; this could only be done with great labour, and, I should imagine, whilst the blocks of stone were on the level surface of the earth, which renders it still more probable that it was a Mussulmaun erection.
The view from the first gallery was really so magnificent, that I was induced to ascend to the second for a still bolder extent of prospect, which more than repaid me the task. I never remember to have seen so picturesque a panorama in any other place. Some of my party, better able to bear the fatigue, ascended to the third and fourth gallery. From them I learned that the beauty and extent of the view progressively increased until they reached the summit, from whence the landscape which fell beneath the eye surpassed description.
On the road back to Delhi, we passed some extensive remains of buildings, which I found on inquiry had been designed for an observatory by Jhy Sing, --whose extraordinary mind has rendered his name conspicuous in the annals of Hindoostaun, --but which was not completed while he lived. It may be presumed, since the work was never finished, that his countrymen either have not the talent, or the means to accomplish the scientific plan his superior mind had contemplated.
At the time I visited Delhi, I had but recently recovered from a serious and tedious illness; I was therefore ill-fitted to pursue those researches which might have afforded entertaining material for my pen, and must, on that account, take my leave of this subject with regret, for the present, and merely add my acknowledgments to those kind friends who aided my endeavours in the little I was enabled to witness of that remarkable place, which to have viewed entirely would have taken more time and better health than I could command at that period. I could have desired to search out amongst the ruined mausoleums for those which contain the ashes of illustrious characters, rendered familiar and interesting by the several anecdotes current in Native society, to many of which I have listened with pleasure, as each possessed some good moral for the mind.
It is my intention to select two anecdotes for my present Letter, which will, I trust, prove amusing to my readers; one relates to Jhaungeer, King of India; the other to Kaareem Zund, King of Persia. I am not aware that either has appeared before the public in our language, although they are so frequently related by the Natives in their domestic circles. If they have not, I need hardly apologise for introducing them, and on the other hand, if they have before been seen, I may plead my ignorance of the circumstance in excuse for their insertion here.
I have already noticed that, among the true Mussulmauns, there are no religious observances more strictly enforced than the keeping the fast of Rumzaun, and the abstaining from fermented liquors. It is related, however, that 'A certain king of India, named Jhaungeer, was instructed by his tutors in the belief, that on the day of judgment, kings and rulers will not have to answer either for the sin of omission or commission, as regards these two commands; but that the due administration of justice to the subjects over whom they are placed, will be required at the hands of every king, ruler, or governor, on the face of the earth.
'Jhaungeer was determined to walk strictly in the path which he was assured would lead him to a happy eternity; and, therefore, in his reign every claim of justice was most punctiliously discharged. Each case requiring decision was immediately brought to the foot of the throne; for the King would not allow business of such importance to his soul's best interest to be delegated to the guardianship of his Vizier, or other of his servants; and in order to give greater facility to complainants of every degree, the King invented the novel contrivance of a large bell, which was fixed immediately over his usual seat on the musnud, which bell could be sounded by any one outside the palace gate, by means of a stout rope staked to the ground. Whenever this alarum of justice was sounded in the King's ear, he sent a trusty messenger to conduct the complainant into his presence.
'One day, upon the bell being violently rung, the messenger was commanded to bring in the person requiring justice. When the messenger reached the gate, he found no other creature near the place but a poor sickly-looking ass, in search of a scanty meal from the stunted grass, which was dried up by the scorching sun, and blasts of hot wind which at that season prevailed. The man returned and reported to the King that there was no person at the gate.
'The King was much surprised at the singularity of the circumstance, and whilst he was talking of the subject with his nobles and courtiers, the bell was again rung with increased violence. The messenger being a second time despatched, returned with the same answer, assuring the King that there was not any person at or within sight of the gate. The King, suspecting him to be a perverter of justice, was displeased with the man, and even accused him of keeping back a complainant from interested motives. It was in vain the messenger declared himself innocent of so foul a crime; a third time the bell rang, "Go," said the King to his attendants, "and bring the supplicant into my presence immediately!" The men went, and on their return informed the King that the only living creature near the gate was an ass, poor and manged, seeking a scanty meal from the parched blades of grass. "Then let the ass be brought hither!" said the King; "perhaps he may have some complaint to prefer against his owner."
'The courtiers smiled when the ass was brought into the presence of the monarch, who upon seeing the poor half-starved beast covered with sores, was at no loss for a solution of the mysterious ringing at the bell, for the animal not finding a tree or post against which he could rub himself, had made use of the bell-rope for that purpose.
"Enquire for the owner of the ass!" commanded the King, "and let him be brought before me without delay!" The order promptly given, was as readily obeyed; and the hurkaarahs (messengers, or running footmen) in a short time introduced a poor Dhobhie (washerman) who had owned the ass from a foal. The plaintiff and defendant were then placed side by side before the throne, when the King demanded, "Why the sick ass was cast out to provide for itself a precarious subsistence?" The Dhobhie replied, "In truth, O Jahaum-punah! (Protector or Ruler of the World), because he is grown old and unserviceable, afflicted with mange, and being no longer able to convey my loads of linen to the river, I gave him his liberty."
'"Friend," said the King, "when this thine ass was young and healthy, strong and lusty, didst thou not derive benefits from his services? Now that he is old, and unable from sickness to render thee further benefits, thou hast cast him from thy protection, and sent him adrift on the wide world; gratitude should have moved thee to succour and feed so old and faithful a servant, rather than forsake him in his infirmities. Thou hast dealt unjustly with this thy creature; but, mark me, I hold thee responsible to repair the injury thou hast done the ass. Take him to thy home, and at the end of forty days attend again at this place, accompanied by the ass, and compensate to the best of thy power, by kind treatment, for the injury thou hast done him by thy late hard-hearted conduct."
'The Dhobhie, glad to escape so well, went away leading the ass to his home, fed him with well-soaked gram (grain in general use for cattle), and nicely-picked grass, sheltered him from the burning sun, poured healing oil into his wounds, and covered his back to keep off the flies; once a day he bathed him in the river. In short, such expedients were resorted to for the comfort and relief of the ass, as were ultimately attended with the happiest effects.
'At the expiration of the forty days, the Dhobhie set off from his home to the palace, leading his now lively ass by a cord. On the road the passers-by were filled with amazement and mirth, at the manners and expressions of the Dhobhie towards his led ass. "Come along, brother! --Make haste, son! --Let us be quick, father! --Take care, uncle!"
'"What means the old fool?" was asked by some; "does he make his ass a relation?" --"In truth," replied the Dhobhie, "my ass is a very dear old friend, and what is more, he has been a greater expense to me than all my relations latterly: believe me, it has cost me much care and pains to bring this ass into his present excellent condition." Then relating the orders of the King, and his own subsequent treatment of the beast, the people no longer wondered at the simple Dhobhie's expressions which had prompted them at first to believe he was mad.
'The King, it is related, received the Dhobhie graciously, and commended and rewarded him for his careful attention to the animal; which in his improved condition became more useful to his master than he had ever been, through the King's determination to enforce justice even to the brute creation.'
The second anecdote, translated for me by the same kind hand, is often related, with numerous embellishments, under the title of 'Khareem Zund'.
'Khareem Zund ruled in Persia. One day he was seated in the verandah of his palace smoking his hookha, and, at the same time, as was his frequent practice, overlooking the improvements carried on by masons and labourers, under the superintendence of a trusty servant. One of the labourers, who was also named Khareem, had toiled long, and sought to refresh himself with a pipe. The overseer of the work, seeing the poor man thus engaged, approached him in great wrath, rated him severely for his presumption in smoking whilst he stood in the presence of his sovereign, and striking him severely with a stick, snatched the pipe from the labourer and threw it away. The poor wretch cared not for the weight of the blow so much as for the loss of his pipe: his heart was oppressed with the weight of his sorrows, and raising his eyes to Heaven he cried aloud, "Allah Khareem!" (God is merciful!), then lowering his eyes, his glance rested on the King, "App Khareem!" (thou art named merciful!), from whom withdrawing his eyes slowly he looked at his own mean body, and added, "Myn Khareem!" (I am called merciful!).
'The King, who had heard the labourer's words, and witnessed with emotion the impressive manner of lifting his eyes to Heaven, had also seen the severity of the overseer to the unoffending labourer; he therefore commanded that the man should be brought into his presence without delay, who went trembling, and full of fear that his speech had drawn some heavy punishment on his head.
'"Sit down," said the King. --"My sovereign pardon his slave!" replied the labourer. --"I do not jest; it is my pleasure that you sit down," repeated the King; and when he saw his humble guest seated, he ordered his own silver hookha to be brought and placed before the poor man, who hesitated to accept the gracious offer; but the King assured him in the kindest manner possible it was his wish and his command. The labourer enjoyed the luxury of a good hookha, and by the condescending behaviour of the King his composure gradually returned.
'This King, who it would seem
in every opportunity that offered of imparting pleasure and comfort to
his subjects of all ranks and degrees, seeing the labourer had finished
his second chillum (contents of a pipe) told him he had permission
to depart, and desired him to take the hookha and keep it for his sake.
"Alas, my King!" said the labourer, "this costly silver pipe will soon
be stolen from me; my mud hut cannot safely retain so valuable a gift;
the poor mazoor inhabits but a chupha (or coarse grass-roofed)
--"Then take materials from my store-houses to build a house suited to
your hookha," was the order he received from the King; "and let it be
done! I design to make you one of my overseers; for you,
have been the instrument to rouse me to be Khareem (merciful);
I can now approach Allah with increased confidence. Who is the only
 Akbar Shah II, King of
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