*A JOURNEY THROUGH THE KINGDOM OF OUDE, IN 1849-1850; BY DIRECTION OF THE RIGHT HON. THE EARL OF DALHOUSIE, GOVERNOR-GENERAL.WITH PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE RELATIVE TO THE ANNEXATION OF OUDE TO BRITISH INDIA, &c.*
BY MAJOR-GENERAL SIR W. H. SLEEMAN, K.C.B., Resident at the Court of Lucknow.
In Two Volumes. London: Richard Bentley, Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty. 1858.
Sexual and dynastic politics in Avadh in the 1830's:
an excerpt from Sleeman's "Journey"
The Royal Family (more or less in order of main appearance):
NUSEER-OD DEEN HYDER -- Navab of *AVADH* [r.1827-37]; son of Ghazee-od Deen Hyder [r.1814-27]
Some of his wives:
==The Delhi princess -- chief wife of the Navab, but estranged from him and living in retirement
==Mulika Zumanee (formerly Dolaree) -- another wife of the Navab
=Mahommed Allee, known as Kywan Ja -- her son by (at least officially) her first husband Roostam
=Zeenut-on Nissa -- her daughter, married to Prince Moomtaz-od Dowla
==Mokuddera Ouleea (also known as Miss Walters) -- another wife of the Navab
==Taj Mahal -- another wife of the Navab
==Kuduseea Begum -- another wife of the Navab; formerly a waiting-woman of Mulika Zumanee's
=The "Mogulanee attendant," a waiting-woman of hers
==Afzul-mahal -- another wife of the Navab, "of humble birth"; mother of Moonna Jaan
Nuseer-od Dowlah -- elderly uncle of the Navabm
The Padshah Begum -- adoptive mother of the Navab; widow of Ghazee-od Deen; devoted grandmother of Moonna Jan
Moonna Jan -- son of the Navab and Afzul-mahal
|FROM VOLUME II, THE END OF CHAPTER III:
I have mentioned that Moomtaz-od Dowla might now have been King of Oude had his father not died before his [=the father's] father. The Mohammedan law excludes forever the children of any person who dies before the person to whom he or she is the next heir, from all right in the inheritance. Under the operation of this law, the sons of the eldest son of the reigning King are excluded from the succession if he dies before his father, and the crown devolves on the second son, or on the brother of the King, if he leaves no other son. The sons of all the sons who die, while their father lives, are mahjoob-ol-irs; that is, excluded from inheritance.... Moomtaz-od Dowla is married to Zeenut-on Nissa, the daughter of Mulika Zumanee, one of the consorts of Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, late King of Oude; and he has, I fear, more cause to regret his union with her than his exclusion from the throne.
Zeenut-on Nissa enjoys a pension of ten thousand rupees a-month, in her own right, under the guarantee of the British Government. I may here, as an episode not devoid of interest, give a brief account of her mother, who for some years, during the reign of Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, presided over the palace at Lucknow. Before I do so I may mention that the King Nuseer-od Deen Hyder had been married to [the Delhi princess,] a grand-daughter of the Emperor of Delhi, a very beautiful young woman of exemplary character, who still survives, and retains the respect of the royal family and people of Lucknow. Finding the Court too profligate for her, she retired into private life soon after the marriage, and has remained there ever since upon a small stipend from the King.
Mulika Zumanee, [whose title means] "Queen of the Age," was a daughter of a Hindoo of the [low] Koormee caste, who borrowed from his neighbour Futteh Morad the sum of sixty rupees, to purchase cloth. He soon after died, leaving a widow and a daughter named Dolaree, then five years of age. They were both seized and confined for the debt by Futteh Morad; but on the mother's consenting to leave her daughter in bondage for the debt, she was released. Futteh Morad's sister Kuramut-on Nissa adopted Dolaree, who was a prepossessing child, and brought her up as her daughter; but finding, as she grew up, that she was too intimate with Roostum, the son by a former husband of her brother's second wife, she insisted on their being married, and they were so.
Futteh Morad soon after died, and his first wife turned the second [wife]—with her first son Roostum and his wife Dolaree, and the two sons which she had borne to Futteh Morad (Futteh Allee Khan and Warus Allee Khan)—out of her house. They went to Futteh Morad's aunt, Bebee Mulatee, a learned woman who resided as governess in the house of Nawab Mohubbet Khan, at Roostumnugger near Lucknow, and taught his daughters to read the Koran. Finding Dolaree to be not the most faithful of wives to Roostum, she would not admit them into the Nawab's house, but she assisted them with food and raiment [=clothing]; and Roostum entered the service—as a groom—of a trooper in the King's cavalry, called Abas Kolee Beg. Dolaree had given birth to a boy, who was named Mahommed Allee, and she now gave birth to a daughter; but she had cohabited with a blacksmith and an elephant-driver in the neighbourhood, and it became a much "vexed question" whether the son and daughter resembled most Roostum, the blacksmith, or the elephant-driver; all, however, were agreed upon the point of Dolaree's backslidings.
[Dolaree's son] Mahommed Allee, alias Kywan Ja, was three years of age, and the daughter Zeenut-on Nissa one year and half, when some belted attendants from the palace came to Roostumnugger in search of a wet-nurse for the young prince Moonna Jan, who had been born the night before; and Bebee Mulatee, whose reputation for learning had reached the royal family, sent off Dolaree as one of the candidates for employment. Her appearance pleased the queen, the Padshah Begum; the quality of her milk was pronounced by the royal physicians to be first-rate; and she was chosen as wet-nurse for the new-born prince.
Moonna Jan's father (then heir-apparent to the throne of Oude) no sooner saw Dolaree than, to the astonishment of the Queen and her Court, he fell desperately in love with her, though she seemed very plain and very vulgar to all other eyes; and he could neither repose himself, nor permit anybody else in the palace to repose, till he obtained the King's and Queen's consent to his making her his wife, which he did in 1826. She soon acquired an entire ascendancy over his weak mind; and anxious to surround herself in her exalted station by people on whom she could entirely rely, she invited the learned Bebee Mulatee, and her daughter Jumeel-on Nissa, and her son Kasim Beg, to the palace, and placed them in high and confidential posts. She invited at the same time Futteh Allee and Warus Allee, the sons of Futteh Morad by his second wife; and persuaded the King that they were all people of high lineage, who had been reduced by unmerited misfortunes to accept employments so humble. All were raised to the rank of Nawabs, and placed in situations of high trust and emoluments. Kuramut-on Nissa too, the sister of Futteh Morad, was invited; but when Dolaree's husband—the humble Roostum—ventured to approach the Court, he was seized and imprisoned in a fort in the Bangur district till the death of Nuseer-od Deen [in 1837], when he was released. He came to Lucknow, but died soon after.
Soon after the death of Ghazee-od Deen had placed the heir-apparent [Nuseer-od Deen Hyder], her husband, on the throne, [on the] 20th of October 1827, she fortified herself still further by high alliances: and her son Mahommed Allee was affianced to the daughter of Rokun-od Dowla, brother of the late King; and her daughter Zeenut-on Nissa to Moomtaz-od Dowla, the prince of whom I am writing. These two marriages were celebrated at a cost of about thirty lacs of rupees; Dolaree was declared the first consort of the King, under the title of Mulika Zamanee, "Queen of the Age," and received an estate in land yielding six lacs of rupees a year for pin-money.
Not satisfied with this, she prevailed upon the King to declare her son, Mahommed Allee, alias Kywan Ja, to be his own and eldest son, and heir-apparent to the throne; and to demand his recognition as such from the British Government, through its representative, the Resident. His Majesty, with great solemnity, assured the Resident on many occasions during November and December 1827, that Kywan Ja was his eldest son; and told him that had he not been so, his uncle [Rukn od-Dowla] would never have consented to bestow his daughter upon him in marriage, nor should he himself have consented to expend twenty lacs of rupees in the ceremonies. The Resident told him that the universal impression at Lucknow was that the boy was three years of age when his mother was first introduced to his Majesty. But this had no effect; and to remove all further doubts and discussions on the subject, he [=the King] wrote a letter himself to the Governor-General, earnestly protesting that Kywan Ja was his eldest son and heir-apparent to the throne; and as such he [=Kywan Ja] was sent from Lucknow to Cawnpoor to meet and escort over Lord Combermere in December 1827.
On the birth of Moonna Jan, the then King, Ghazee-od Deen Hyder [r.1814-27] declared to the Resident that the boy was not his grandson, and that his son Nuseer-od Deen pretended that he was his son merely to please his imperious mother, the Padshah Begum, and to annoy his father [=Ghazee-od Deen himself], with whom they [=the Padshah Begum and Nuseer-od Deen] were both on bad terms. Ghazee-od Deen had, however, before his death declared that he believed Moonna Jan to be his grandson.*
[[* I believe that Ghazee-od Deen's first repudiation of Moonna Jan arose entirely from a desire to revenge himself upon his termagant wife, whose furious temper left him no peace. She was, from his birth, very fond of the boy; and to question his legitimacy was to wound her in her tenderest point. This was the "raw" which her husband established, and which his son and successor afterwards worked upon.]]In February 1832 the King Nuseer-od Deen Hyder first through the minister, and then in person, assured the Resident that neither of the boys was his son, and requested that he would report the same to his Government, and assure the Governor-General that both reports as to these boys being sons of his were false, and arose from the same cause, bribery and ambition; that Mulika Zumanee had paid many lacs of rupees to influential people about him to persuade him to call her son his, and declare him heir-apparent to the throne; and that Fazl Allee and Sookcheyn had done the same to induce others to persuade him to acknowledge Moonna Jan to be his son. "But," said his Majesty, "I know positively that he is not my son, and my father knew the same."
The wary minister then, to clinch the matter, remarked that his Majesty had mentioned to him that he had ceased to cohabit with Moonna Jan's mother for twenty-four months before the boy was born; and the King assured the Resident that this was quite true. Hakeem Mehndee [the minister] was as anxious as Aga Meer had been to keep the King estranged from his imperious mother, and the only sure way was to make him persist in repudiating the boy or postponing his claim to the succession.
Mulika Zumanee's influence over the king had, however, been eclipsed, first by Miss Walters, Mokuddera Ouleea, whose history has already been given*; secondly by the beautiful Taj Mahal; and thirdly by the Kuduseea Begum. She [=the Kuduseea Begum] entered the palace as a waiting-woman to Mulika Zumanee, and on the 17th of December 1831, the King married her; and from that day till her death, on the 21st of August 1834, she reigned supreme in the palace and in the King's affections.
[[*[Here is the passage from Vol. I, Chapter VI, to which Sleeman refers:] "Mokuddera Ouleea, one of the consorts of the King Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, was the daughter of Mr. George Hopkins Walters, a half-pay officer of one of the regiments of British Dragoons, who came to Lucknow as an adventurer. He there united himself (though not in marriage) to the widow of Mr. Whearty, an English merchant or shopkeeper of that city, who had recently died, leaving this widow, who was the daughter of Mr. Culloden, an English merchant of Lucknow; and one son, now called Ameer Mirza; and one daughter, now called Shurf-on Nissa. By Mr. Walters this widow had one daughter, who afterwards became united to the King in marriage (in 1827), under the title of "Mokuddera Ouleea." Mr. Walters died at Lucknow, and the widow and two daughters went to reside at Cawnpoor. The daughters were good-looking, and the mother was disposed to make the most of their charms, without regard to creed or colour."]]On the King's paying a visit of ceremony to Mulika Zumanee one evening, he asked for water, and it was brought to him in a gold cup, on a silver tray, by the Kuduseea Begum, then one of the women in waiting. Her face was partially unveiled; and the King, after drinking, threw the last few drops from the cup over her veil in play. In return, she threw the few drops that had been spilled on the salver upon the King's robe, or vest. He pretended to be angry, and asked her, with a frown, how she could dare to besprinkle her sovereign; she replied—"When children play together there is no distinction between the prince and the peasant." The King was charmed with her half-veiled beauty and spirit, and he paid a second visit the next day, and again asked for water. He did the same as the first day, and she returned the compliment in the same way. He came a third time and asked for water, but Mulika Zumanee had become alarmed, and it was presented by another and less dangerous person. A few days after, however, the Queen was constrained to allow her fair attendant to attend the King, and receive from him formal proposals of marriage, which she accepted.
She was handsome and generous; but there was no discrimination in her bounty, and she is said to have received from the King nearly two millions of money out of the reserved treasury for pin-money alone. Of this she saved forty-four lacs of rupees. The King never touched this money, and it formed, in a separate apartment, the greater part of the seventy lacs found in his reserved treasury on his death, out of the ten krores, or ten millions sterling, which he found there when he ascended the throne in 1827.
She is said to have been the only one of his wives who ever had any real affection for the King. She was haughty and imperious in her temper; and the only female who had any influence over her was a Mogulanee, who taught her to read and write. She assisted her mistress very diligently in spending her pin-money, and made the fortunes of sundry of her relations. Altercations between the Kuduseea Begum and the King were not uncommon; but on the 21st of August 1834, the King became unusually excited, and told her that he had raised her from bondage to the throne, and could as easily cast her back into the same vile condition. Her proud spirit could not brook this, and she instantly swallowed arsenic.
The King relented; and every remedy was tried, but in vain. The King watched over her agonies till she was about to expire, when he fled in a frantic state and took refuge in the apartments of the race-stand, about three miles from the palace, till the funeral ceremonies were over. It is said that in her anxiety to give birth to an heir to the throne, she got the husband from whom she had been divorced, smuggled into her apartments in the palace in a female dress more than once; and that this was reported to the King, and became the real cause of the dispute.
The Mogulanee attendant, who had accumulated twenty lacs of rupees, was seized and commanded to disgorge. She offered five lacs to Court favourites on condition that they saw her safely over the river Ganges into British territory. The most grave of them were commissioned to wait upon his Majesty, and entreat him most earnestly to banish her forthwith from his territories; as she was known, in the first place, to be one of the most potent sorceresses in India; and in the next, to have been exceedingly attached to her late mistress; that they had strong grounds to believe that it was her intention to send his Majesty's spirit after hers, that they might be united in the next world us they had been in this. The King got angry, and said that he had no dread of sorceresses, and would make the old lady disgorge her twenty lacs. That very night, however, in his sleep, he saw the Kuduseea Begum enter his room, approach his bed, look upon him with a countenance still more kind and bright than in life, and then return slowly with her face still towards him, and beckoning him with her hand to follow! As soon as he awoke he became greatly agitated and alarmed, and ordered the old sorceress to be sent forthwith across the Ganges to Cawnpoor. She paid her five lacs, and took off about fifteen; but what became of her afterwards I have not heard.
One of the first cases that I had to decide, after taking charge [in 1849] of my office [of Resident], was that of a claim to five Government notes of twenty thousand rupees each, left by Sultan Mahal, one of the late King [r.1842-47] Amjud Allee Shah's widows. The claimants were the reigning King, and the mother, brother, and sister of the deceased widow. She [=Sultan Mahal] was the daughter of a greengrocer, and in February 1846, at the age of sixteen, she went to the palace with vegetables. The King saw [her] and fell in love with her; and she forthwith became one of his wives, under the name of "Sultan Mahal." In November 1846, the King invested eighteen lacs and thirty thousand rupees in Government notes as a provision for his wives and other female relations. The notes were to be made out in their names respectively; and the interest was to be paid to them and their heirs. Of this sum, Sultan Mahal was to have one hundred thousand; and on the 21st of November she drew the interest, in anticipation, up to the 30th of December of that year. The five notes for twenty thousand each, in her name, were received in the Resident's Treasury on the 20th of April, 1847. On the 28th of August, she sent an application for the Notes to the Resident, but died the next day. The King, her husband, had died on the 18th February, 1847.
Nine days after, on the 6th of September, the new King, Wajid Allee Shah [r.1847-56], sent an application to have these five notes transferred to one of his own wives; urging that, as his father and the Sultan Mahal had both died, he alone ought to be considered as the heir. It was decided that the mother, sister, and brother were the rightful heirs to the Sultan Mahal; and the amount was distributed among them according to Mahommedan law. The question was, however, submitted to Government at his Majesty's request; and the decision of the Resident was upheld on the ground that the notes were in the lady's name, and she had actually drawn interest on them; and as she died intestate, they became the property of her heirs.
By a deed of engagement with the British Government, dated the 1st of March 1820, the King contributed to the five per cent loan the sum of sixty-two lacs and forty thousand rupees, the interest of which, at five per cent, our Government pledged itself to pay, in perpetuity, to four females of the King's family. To Mulika Zumanee, ten thousand a-month; to her daughter Zeenut-on Nissa, four thousand; to Mokuddera Ouleea (Miss Walters), six thousand; and to Taj Mahal, six thousand: total, twenty-six thousand rupees a month. On the death of Mulika Zamanee, which took place on the 22nd December 1843, her daughter succeeded to her pension of six thousand a month.
The other portion of her pension—four thousand rupees a month—went to her grandson, Wuzeer Mirza, the son of Kywan Ja (who had died on the 16th of May, 1838, before his mother).* Of this four thousand a month, one thousand are given to Zeenut-on Nissa for the boy's subsistence and education, and three thousand a month are invested in Government securities, to be paid to him when he comes of age. But besides the six thousand rupees a month which she inherits from her mother, Zeenut-on Nissa enjoys the pension of four thousand rupees a month which was assigned to her by the King in the same deed; so that she now draws eleven thousand rupees a month, independent of her husband's income.** By this deed the stipends are to descend to the heirs of the pensioners, if they have any; and if they have none, they can bequeath their pensions to whom[ever] they please. Should they have no heirs, and leave no will, the stipends are to go to the moojtahids and moojawurs, or presiding priests of the shrine of Kurbala, in Turkish Arabia [=Iraq], for distribution among the needy pilgrims.
[[* Wuzeer Mirza is not the son of Rokun-od Dowla's daughter. Kywan Ja's marriage with that lady was never consummated.]]A European lady who visited the zunana of the King Nuseer-od Deen Hyder on the anniversary of his coronation, on the 18th of October 1828, writes thus to a female friend:—
"But the present King's wives were superbly dressed, and looked like creatures of the Arabian Tales. Indeed, one (Taj Mahal) was so beautiful, that I could think of nothing but Lalla Rookh in her bridal attire. I never saw anyone so lovely, either black or white. Her features were perfect, and such eyes and eye-lashes I never beheld before. She is the favourite Queen at present, and has only been married a month or two, her age, about fourteen; and such a little creature, with the smallest hands and feet, and the most timid, modest look imaginable. You would have been charmed with her, she was so graceful and fawn-like. Her dress was of gold and scarlet brocade, and her hair was literally strewed with pearls, which hung down upon her neck in long single strings, terminating in large pearls, which mixed with and hung as low as her hair, which was curled on each side her head in long ringlets, like Charles the Second's beauties. On her forehead she wore a small gold circlet, from which depended and hung, half way down, large pearls interspersed with emeralds. Above this was a paradise plume, from which strings of pearls were carried over the head, as we turn our hair. Her earrings were immense gold rings, with pearls and emeralds suspended all round in large strings, the pearls increasing in size. She had a nose ring also with large round pearls and emeralds; and her necklaces, &c., were too numerous to be described. She wore long sleeves, open at the elbow; and her dress was a full petticoat with a tight body attached, and open only at the throat. She had several persons to bear her train when she walked; and her women stood behind her couch to arrange her head-dress when, in moving, her pearls got entangled in the immense robe of scarlet and gold she had thrown around her. This beautiful creature is the envy of all the other wives, and the favourite at present of both the King and his mother, both of whom have given her titles."—See Mrs. Park's Wandering[s] [of a Pilgrim in Search of the Picturesque], vol. i., page 87. Taj Mahal still lives and enjoys a pension of six thousand rupees a month, under the guarantee of the British Government. She became very profligate after the King's death; and after she had given birth to one child, it was deemed necessary to place a guard over her to prevent her dishonouring the memory of the King her husband any further, by giving birth to more.
Of Miss Walters, alias Mokuddera Ouleea, the same lady writes:—
"The other newly-made Queen is nearly European, but not a whit fairer than Taj Mahal. She is, in my opinion, plain; but she is considered by the native ladies very handsome, and she was the King's favourite before he saw Taj Mahal. She was more splendidly dressed than even Taj Mahal. Her head-dress was a coronet of diamonds, with a fine crescent and plume of the same. She is the daughter of a European merchant, and is accomplished for an inhabitant of a zunana, as she writes and speaks Persian fluently, as well as Hindoostanee; and it is said that she is teaching the King English, though when we spoke to her in English, she said she had forgotten it, and could not reply. She was, I fancy, afraid of the Queen Dowager, as she evidently understood us; and when asked if she liked being in the zunana, she shook her head and looked quite melancholy. Jealousy of the new favourite, however, appeared to be the cause of her discontent; as, though they sat on the same couch, they never addressed each other."Of Mulika Zumanee, the same lady says:—
"The mother of the King's children, Mulika Zumanee, did not visit us at the Queen Dowager's; but we went to see her at her own palace. She is, after all, the person of the most political consequence, being the mother of the heir-apparent; and she has great power over her royal husband, whose ears she boxes occasionally."
VOLUME II, THE BEGINNING OF CHAPTER IV.
Nuseer-od Deen Hyder's death—His repudiation of his son Moonna Jan leads to the succession of his uncle, Nuseer-od Dowlah—Contest for the succession between these two persons—The Resident supports the uncle; and the Padshah Begum supports the son—The ministers supposed to have poisoned the King....
Under these considerations, instructions were sent to the Resident, on the 15th of December 1833, in case of the King's death without a son or [a] pregnant consort, to declare the eldest surviving brother of the late King, Ghazee-od Deen Hyder, heir to the throne, and have him placed upon it. According to the law already noticed (which applies as well to sovereignty as to property) the sons of Shums-od Dowlah, the second son of Saadut Allee Khan, who had died shortly before his eldest and reigning brother Ghazee-od Deen, were excluded from all claims to the succession [because their father's prior death had annulled their rights]; and the right devolved upon the third son of Saadut Allee, Nuseer-od Dowlah. Ghazee-od Deen had only one son, the reigning sovereign, Nuseer-od Deen Hyder.
This prince [Nuseer-od Deen Hyder] had impaired his constitution by drinking and other vicious indulgences, in which he had been encouraged in early life by his designing or inconsiderate adoptive mother, the Padshah Begum; but for some time before his death, he used frequently to declare to his most intimate companions that he felt sure he should die of poison, and that at no distant period. He for some time before his death had a small well in the palace, over which he kept his own lock and key; and he kept the same over the jar, in which he drew the water from it for his own drinking. The keys were suspended by a gold chain around his neck. The persons who gave him his drink, except when taking it out of English sealed bottles, were two sisters, Dhuneea and Dulwee. The latter and youngest is now the wife of Wasee Allee Khan. The eldest, Dhuneea, still resides at Lucknow.
The general impression at Lucknow and over all Oude was that the British Government would take upon itself the management of the country on the death, without issue, of Nuseer-od Deen Hyder; and the King himself latterly seemed rather pleased than otherwise at the thought that he should be the last of the Oude kings. He had repudiated his own son, and was unwilling that any other member of the family should fill his place. The minister and the other public officers and Court favourites, who had made large fortunes, wished it [=that he would be the last sovereign]; as it was understood by some, that by such a measure they would be secured from all scrutiny into their accounts, and enabled to keep securely all that they had accumulated.
About half-past eleven, on the night of the 7th July 1837, the Durbar Wakeel, Gholam Yaheea,* came to the Resident and reported that the King had been taken suddenly ill, and appeared to be either dead or in a dying state, from the symptoms described to him by his Majesty's attendants. The Resident, Colonel Low, ordered his two Assistants, Captains Paton and Shakespear, [and] the Head Moonshee and Head Clerk, to be in attendance; and wrote to request the Brigadier commanding the troops in Oude to hold one thousand men in readiness to march to the Residency at a moment's notice. The Residency is situated in the city near the Furra Buksh Palace, in which the King resided. The Resident intended that five companies of this force should be sent in advance of the main body and guns, for the purpose of placing sentries over the palace gates, treasuries, and other places containing valuables within the walls.
[[* Gholam Yaheea Khan was the maternal uncle of Shurf-od Dowlah, who was, afterwards, [for] some time minister under Mahommed Allee Shah.]]But this intention was not, unfortunately, made known to the Brigadier. Captain Magness, who commanded a corps of infantry with six guns, and a squadron of horse, had been ordered by the minister, at half-past eight o'clock, to proceed with them to a place near the southern entrance of the palace, and there to wait for further instructions; and he did so. This was three hours before the minister made any report to the Resident of the King's illness, and Captain Magness was told by the people in attendance that the King was either dead or dying.
Having given these orders, the Resident proceeded to the palace, attended by Captain Paton, the first Assistant, and Dr. Stevenson, the Residency Surgeon. They found the King lying dead upon his bed, but his body was still warm, and Dr. Stevenson opened a vein in one arm. Blood flowed freely from it, but no other sign of life could be discovered. His features were placid and betrayed no sign of his having suffered any pain; and the servants in attendance declared that the only sign of suffering they had heard or seen was a slight shriek, to which the King gave utterance before he expired; that after that shriek he neither moved, spoke, nor showed any sign whatever of life. His Majesty had been unwell for three weeks, but no one had any apprehension of danger from his symptoms. He had called for some sherbet a short time before his death, and it was given to him by Dhuneea, the eldest of the two sisters.
The Resident took with him a guard of sipahees [=soldiers] from his escort, and Captain Paton distributed them as double sentries at the inner doors of the palace, and outside the chief buildings and store-rooms, with orders to allow no one but the ministers and treasurers to pass. Captain Magness had placed one sentry before at each of these places, and he now added a second, making a party of four sipahees at each post. Captain Paton at the same time, in conjunction with the officers of the Court, placed seals on all the jewels and other valuables belonging to the King and his establishments; and as the night was very dark, placed torch-bearers at all places where they appeared to be required.
Having made these arrangements, the Resident returned with Dr. Stevenson to the Residency, leaving Captain Paton at the palace; and wrote to the Brigadier to request that he would send off the five companies in advance to the palace direct, and bring down all his disposable troops, including artillery, to the city. The distance from the palace to the cantonments, round by the old stone bridge, was about four miles and half. The iron bridge, which shortens the distance by a mile and half, had not then been thrown over the Goomtee river, which flows between them. The Resident then had drawn up, for the consent of the new king, a Persian paper, declaring that he was prepared to sign any new treaty for the better government of the country that the British Government might think proper to propose to him.
It was now one o'clock in the morning of the 8th of July, and Captain Shakespear, attended by the Meer Moonshee Iltufat Hoseyn, and the Durbar Wakeel, proceeded to the house of the new sovereign, Nuseer-od Dowlah, who then resided where the present King now resides, a distance of about a mile from the Residency. The visit was altogether unexpected; and as the new sovereign had been for some time ill, some delay took place in arranging for the reception of the mission. After explaining the object of his visit. Captain Shakespear presented the paper, which the King perused with great attention, and then signed without hesitation. Captain Shakespear returned with it to the Resident, who repaired again to the palace, and sent Captain Paton, the first Assistant, to the Residency, to proceed thence with Captain Shakespear and the Durbar Wakeel to the house of the new sovereign, and escort him to the palace, where he would be in readiness to receive him.
He [=Nuseer-od Dowlah] arrived about three o'clock in the morning, and being infirm from age, and exceedingly reduced from recent illness, he was, after a short conversation with the Resident, left in a small adjoining room, to repose for a few hours preparatory to his being placed on the throne and crowned in due form. His eldest surviving son, afterwards Amjud Allee Shah; his sons the present King Wajid Allee Shah, and Mirza Jawad Khan; the King's foster brother Hummeed-od Dowlah; and his confidential servant Rufeek-od Dowla, were left in the room with him; and the Resident and his Assistants sat in the verandah facing the river Goomtee, which flows under the walls, conversing on the ceremonies to be observed at the approaching coronation, and the persons to be invited to assist at it, when they were suddenly interrupted by the intelligence that the Padshah Begum, the adoptive mother of the late King, with a large armed force, and the young pretender, Moonna Jan, were coming on to seize upon the throne, and might soon be expected at the principal entrance to the palace to the north-west.
When the Resident was about to proceed to the palace the first time, about midnight, he was assured by the minister Roshun-od Dowla that every possible precaution had been taken by him to prevent the Padshah Begum from attempting any such enterprise, or from leaving her residence with the young pretender; that he had placed strong bodies of troops in every street or road by which she could come. But to make more sure, and prevent her leaving her residence at the Almas gardens, five miles from the palace, the Resident sent off one of his chobdars, Khoda Buksh, with two troopers and a verbal message, enjoining her to remain quietly at her palace. These men found her with her equipage in the midst of a large mass of armed followers, ready to set out for the palace.
They delivered their message from the Resident, but were sent back with her Wakeel, Mirza Allee, to request that she might be permitted to look upon the dead body of the late King, since she had not been permitted to see him for so long a period before his death. But they reached the Resident with this message, only ten minutes before the Begum's troops were thundering for admittance at the gate. The Resident gave the chobdar a note for the officer in command of the five companies, supposed to be in advance on their way down from cantonments; but before he could get with this note five hundred yards from the palace, he met the Begum and her disorderly band filling the road and pressing on as fast as they could. Unable to proceed, he returned to the palace with all haste, and gave the Resident the first notice of their near approach. Captain Magness had placed two of his six guns at each of the three entrances to the south and west, but was now ordered to collect all, and proceed to the north-western entrance, towards which the Begum was advancing. Before he could get to that entrance she had passed in, and he returned to the south-western entrance for further orders.
On passing the mausoleum of Asuf-od Dowlah, where the Kotwal or head police officer of the city resided, she summoned him, with all his available police, to attend his sovereign to the throne of his ancestors. He promised obedience; but with all his police stood aloof, thinking that her side might not be the safe one to take in such an emergency. A little further on she passed Hussun Bagh, the residence of [the Delhi princess,] the chief consort of the late King and niece of the emperor of Delhi, and summoned [her] and brought her on, to give some countenance to her audacious enterprise.
The Resident admonished the minister for his negligence and falsehood in the assurance he had given him; and directed Rajah Bukhtawur Sing, with his squadron of one hundred and fifty horse; and Mozuffer-od Dowlah, the father of Ajum-od Dowlah; and Khadim Hoseyn, the son-in-law of Sobhan Allee Khan, the deputy minister; with all the armed men they could muster, to arrest the progress of the pretender; but nothing whatever was done, and the excited mass came on, and augmented as it came in noise and numbers. All whom the Resident sent to check them, out of fear or favour avoided collision, and sought safety either in their homes or among the pretender's bands.
Captain Paton, as soon as he heard the pretender's men approach, rushed to the gate to the north-west, towards which the throng was approaching rapidly. He had only four belted attendants with him, and the gate was guarded only by a small party of useless sipahees, under the control of three or four black slaves. By the time he had roused the sleepy guard and closed the gates, the pretender's armed mass came up, and with foul abuse, imprecations, and with threats of instant death to all who opposed them, demanded admittance. Captain Paton told them that the Resident had been directed by the British Government to place Nuseer-od Dowlah, the uncle of the late King, on the throne as the rightful heir; that he was now in the palace, and all who opposed him would be treated as rebels; that the gates were all closed by order of the Resident, and all who attempted to force them would be put to death.
All was in vain. They told him with fury that the Padshah Begum, and the son of the late King and rightful heir to the throne, were among them, and must be instantly admitted. Captain Paton despatched a messenger to the Resident to say that he could hold the gate no longer without troops: but before he could get a reply, the insurgents brought up an elephant to force in the gate with his head. The first failed in the attempt, and drew back with a frightful roar. A second, urged on by a furious driver, broke in the gate; one half fell with a crash to the ground, and the elephant plunged in after it. Captain Paton was standing with his back against this half, and must have been killed; but Mukun, one of his chuprassies, seeing the gate giving way, caught him by the arm and dragged him behind the other half. The other three chuprassies ran off in a fright and hid themselves. Two of them were Surubdawun Sing and Juggurnath, two brothers, who will be mentioned elsewhere in this diary.*
[* See Juggurnath chuprassie in Chapter V., Vol. II.]The furious and confused mass rushed in through the half-opened gate, and beat Captain Paton to the ground with their bludgeons, the hilts of their swords, and the butt-ends of their muskets. Mukun [the] chuprassie, his only remaining attendant, was beaten down at the same time and severely bruised, but he soon got up, covered with blood, made his way out through the crowd, and ran to meet the five companies of the 35th Regiment, then not far distant, under Colonel Monteath. As soon as he [=Colonel Monteath] heard from Mukun the state in which he had left his master, he sent on a party of thirty sipahees under Captain Cowley, with orders to make all possible haste to the rescue. They arrived in time to save his life from the fury of the assailants, but found him insensible from his wounds.
In a few minutes every court-yard within the palace walls was filled with the armed and disorderly mass. The Resident, Captain Shakespear, and their few attendants, tried to stop them by every impediment they could throw in their way, but in vain. The assailants rushed past or over them, brandishing their swords and firelocks, with loud shoutings and flaming torches, and soon filled all the apartments of the palace, save those occupied by the ladies and their female attendants, and the dead body of the late King. The Resident and his Assistant, and the Meer Moonshee, were soon separated from the new sovereign and his small party, who lay for some time concealed in the small room in which he had been left to repose, while they were confined to the northern verandah overlooking the river, and the long room leading into it. The armed and furious throng filled all the other rooms of the palace; the court-yard, eighty yards long, leading to the baraduree (or summer-house); and all the four great halls of that building, in one of which the throne stood.
The Resident felt that he was helpless in his present position, and unable to do anything whatever to prevent the temporary triumph of the insurgents, and the consequent tumult, pillage, and loss of life that must follow; and that it would be better to try any change than to remain in that helpless state. He thought that he might, if he could once reach the Begum, be able to persuade her of the impossibility of her ultimately succeeding in her attempt to keep the pretender on the throne; and if not, that it would be of advantage to get so much nearer to the place where the British troops must soon arrive and be drawn up in a garden to the south of the baraduree; and to gain time for their arrival by a personal and open conference with the Begum, during which he thought her followers would not be likely to proceed to violence against his person and those of his attendants. He therefore persuaded one of the rebel sentries placed over him to apprize the Begum that he wished to speak to her. She sent to him Mirza Allee, one of her Wakeels; and with him, Captain Shakespear, and the Meer Moonshee, he forced his way through the dense crowd, and got safely into the baraduree.
They found all the four halls, small apartments, and verandahs leading into them, filled with armed men in a state of great excitement, and in the act of placing the pretender, Moonna Jan, on the throne. The Begum sat in a covered palankeen at the foot of the throne; and as the Resident entered, the band struck up "God save the King," answered by a salute of blunderbusses within, and a double royal salute from the guns in the "jullooknana," or northern court-yard of the palace, through which the Begun had passed in. Other guns, which had been collected in the confusion to salute somebody (though those who commanded and served them knew not whom), continued the salute through the streets without. A party of dancing-girls, belonging to the late King or brought up by the Begum, began to dance and sing as loud as they could at the end of the long hall in front of the throne; at the same time that the crowd within and without shouted their congratulations at the top of their voices, and every man who had a sword, spear, musket, or matchlock, flourished it in the air amidst a thousand torches. A scene more strange and wild it would be difficult to conceive.
In the midst of all this the Resident and his Assistants remained cool under all kinds of foul abuse and threats, from a multitude so excited that they seemed more like demons than human beings, and [seemed] resolved to force them to commit some act or make use of some expression that might seem to justify their murder. They fired muskets close to their ears, pointed others loaded and cocked close to their breasts and faces, flourished swords close to their noses, called them all kinds of opprobrious names, but all in vain. The Resident, in the midst of all this confusion, pointed out to the Begum the impossibility of her ultimately succeeding in her attempt to secure the throne for the pretender, since he was acting under the orders of his Government, who had declared the right to be another's; and if he and all his Assistants were killed, his Government would soon send others to carry out their orders.
"I am," she said, "in my right place, and so is the young King, my grandson, and so are you. Why do you talk to me or to anybody else of leaving the throne and the baraduree?" But some of her furious followers, afraid that she might yield, seized him by his neckcloth, dragged him towards the throne, on which the boy sat, and commanded him to present his offerings of congratulation on the threat of instant death. They had, they said, placed him on the throne of his ancestors by order of the Begum, and would maintain him there. Had he or either of his Assistants lost their temper or presence of mind, and attempted to resent any of the affronts offered to them, they must have been all instantly put to death, and a general massacre of all their supposed adherents, and the pillage of the palace and city, would have followed.
The Begum's Wakeel, Mirza Allee, seeing the life of the Resident and those of his Assistants and attendants in such imminent peril, since he so resolutely refused to give any sign whatever of recognition to the pretender, and aware of the consequences that would inevitably follow their murder, seized him by the arm, and in a loud voice shouted out that it was the Begum's order that he should conduct him out into the garden to the south. He pushed on with him through the crowd, followed by all his small party, and with great difficulty and danger they at last reached the garden, where Colonel Monteath had just brought in and drawn up his five companies in a line facing the baraduree. Finding the entrance to the north-west occupied by the Begum's party, Colonel Monteath marched along the street to the west of the palace, and entered the baraduree garden by the south-west gate.
As the Resident went out, Colonel Roberts, who commanded a brigade in the Oude service, went in, and presented to the pretender his offering of gold mohurs, and then went off and hid himself, to wait the result of the contest. Captain Magness drew up his men and guns on the left of Colonel Monteath's, and was told to prepare for action. He told the Resident that he did not feel quite sure of his men in such a crisis, and the line of British sipahees was made to cover his rear, to secure them. The King and minister had commanded him to act precisely as directed by the Resident, and he himself knew this to be his only safe course, but the hearts of his men were with Moonna Jan and the Begum.
The Begum, as soon as the Resident left her, deeming all safe, went over to the female apartments, where her adopted son, the late king, lay dead; and after gazing for a minute upon his corpse, returned to the foot of the throne, on which the pretender had now been seated for more than three hours. It was manifest that nothing but force could now remove the boy and his supporters, but the Begum tried to gain more time in the hope of support from a popular insurrection from without, which might take off the British troops from the garden; and she sent evasive messages to the Resident by her wakeels, urging him to come once more to her, since it was impossible for her to make her way to him without danger of collision between the troops of the two States. He refused to put himself again in her power, and commanded her to come down with the boy to him and surrender; and promised that if she did so, and directed all her armed followers to quit the palace and city of Lucknow, all that had passed should be forgiven, and the large pension of fifteen thousand rupees a-month, promised by the late King, secured to her for life.
All was in vain, and the Begum was gaining her object. Robberies of State property in the eastern and more retired parts of the palace-buildings had commenced. Gold, jewels, shawls, &c., to a large amount were being carried off. Much of such property lay about in places not guarded by Captain Paton in the morning, or known to the minister or other respectable servants of the State; all holding out temptation to pillage. Acts of plunder and ill-treatment to unoffending and respectable persons in the city were every moment reported, and six or eight houses had been already pillaged, and attempts had been made on others by small parties, who were every moment increasing in numbers and ferocity.
Several parties of the King's troops had openly deserted their posts and joined the pretender's followers in the baraduree, and dense masses of armed men were crowding in upon the British troops, whose officer became anxious, and urged the Resident to action, lest they should no longer have room to use their arms. At one time these armed crowds got within two yards of the British front; and on Colonel Monteath's telling them to retire a few paces and leave him a clear front, they did so in a sullen and insolent manner; and one of them actually attempted to seize one of the sipahees by his whiskers, and an affray was with difficulty prevented.
Mostufa Khan, Kundaharee, who had command of a regiment of a thousand horse in the late King's service, was with many others commanded by the Begum to attend the young King on the throne; and he did so some time after Brigadier Johnstone reached the garden in front of the baraduree, though he knew that Nuseer-od Dowlah had been declared the rightful heir to the throne, and was actually in the palace. He said that "he was the servant of the throne; that the young King was actually seated upon it, and that he would support him there, happen what might." He presented his offerings of gold to the young King, and was forthwith appointed to supersede all the other wakeels in the Begum's negotiations with the Resident. He merely repeated what the other wakeels had said, urging the Resident to go up to the Begum, since she could not come down to him. The Resident repeated to him what he had told the Begum herself, and taking out his watch, told him that unless his orders were obeyed in less than one-quarter of an hour, the guns should open upon the throne-room; that when once they opened, neither she nor her followers could expect favour, or even mercy; and unless he, Mostapha Khan, separated himself from her party, he should be hung as a traitor if taken alive.
Owing to the height of some houses and walls about the left part of the position of the British troops, the guns could not be conveniently brought to bear upon the south-western corner of the baraduree and throne-room, and two of the guns had to be taken round by a road one-third of a mile, to be placed in a better position. On seeing this the crowd shouted out, "The cravens are already running away!" and became more insolent and furious than ever.
The minister and Durbar Wakeel had been swept away by the crowd who rushed into the palace, and separated from the Resident and his party; and as they passed through the balcony overlooking the river, the wakeel threw off his turban, and leaped over from a height of about twenty feet. The ground was soft, but he sprained both his ankles. He was taken up by some boatmen who had put-to near the bank, and concealed in their boat till the affair was over. The new sovereign remained still unnoticed, and apparently unknown, having long led a secluded life; but his son, grandsons, and the rest of his attendants were at last discovered, very roughly treated by the insurgents, and would, it is said, have been put to death, had not Rajah Bukhtawur Sing and some others, who thought it safe to be on friendly terms with the ruffians, persuaded them that they would be useful hostages in case of a reverse. The minister had had all his clothes, save his trousers, torn from him, and his arms and legs pinioned preparatory to execution, and the princes had been treated with little more ceremony. All had given themselves up for lost.
The Begum remained firm to her purpose, her hopes from without increasing with the increasing noise, tumult, and reports of pillage in the city. The quarter of an hour had passed; and the Resident, turning to the Brigadier, told him that the work was now in his hands, just an hour and twenty minutes after he had brought his troops into the garden. The guns from the British, and Captain Magness' parks, opened at the same instant upon the throne-room and the other halls of the baraduree with grape; and after six or seven rounds, a party of the 35th Regiment, under Major Marshall, was ordered to storm the halls. With muskets loaded and bayonets fixed they rushed first through a narrow covered passage, then up a steep flight of steps, and then into the throne-room, firing upon the affrighted crowd as they advanced, and following them up with the bayonet as they rushed out over the two flights of steps on the north side, and through the courtyard which separates the baraduree from the palace. Other parties of sipahees ascended at the same time over ladders collected at the suggestion of Doctor Stevenson and placed on the southern front of the baraduree; and the halls were soon cleared of the insurgents, who left from forty to fifty men killed and wounded on the floors of the four halls.*
[[* As they entered the hall at the end opposite the throne, they saw their own figures reflected in the large mirror, which stands behind the throne; and taking them to be their enemy preparing to charge, they poured their first volley into the mirror, by which many lives were saved at the expense of the glass.]]In this assault Mostufa Khan, Kundaharee, was killed. Moonna Jan was found concealed in a small recess under the throne, and the Begum in a small adjoining room, to which she had been carried as soon as the guns opened. They were taken into custody and sent to the Residency; with Imam Buksh, a bihishtee or water-carrier, a notorious villain, who had been her chief instigator in all this affair, and [had been] appointed Commander-in-Chief to the young King. Many who had been wounded got out of the halls, and some even reached their homes, but the killed and wounded are supposed to have amounted altogether to about one hundred and twenty. The Begum and the boy were accommodated in the Residency, and their Commander-in-Chief was made over to the King's Courts for trial. He is still in prison at Lucknow. No one was killed on our side, but three or four of our sipahees were wounded in the assault.
The Delhi princess, the chief consort of the deceased King, a modest, beautiful, and amiable young woman who had been forced to join the Begum in order to give some countenance to the daring enterprise, was, as soon as the guns opened, carried by her two female attendants in her litter to a small side-room facing the palace at the east end of the throne-room. One of these females had her arm shattered by grape shot, but the other tied some clothes together, and let the princess and her wounded attendant down from a height of about twenty-four feet into a court-yard, whence they were conveyed to her palace by some of her attendants, and all three escaped. The sipahees occupied both of the flights of steps in the northern face of the baraduree. She was afraid to trust herself to them, and saw no other way of escape than that described.
It was nine o'clock before the palace could be cleared of the insurgents; and the Resident was very anxious that the new Sovereign should be crowned as soon and as publicly as possible, in order to restore tranquillity to the city, which had become greatly disturbed from the number of loose and desperate characters that always abound in it, and are at all times ready to make the most of any tumult that may arise from whatever cause. The new Sovereign had become greatly agitated and alarmed at the danger to which he and his family had been so long exposed, and at the fearful scene which they witnessed at the close; and the Resident exerted himself to soothe and prepare him for the long and tedious ceremonies of the coronation, while the killed and wounded were being removed and the throne-room and the other halls of the baraduree cleaned out and properly arranged and furnished.
When all was ready the Resident conducted him from the palace through the court-yard to the baraduree, accompanied by the brigadier and all the principal officers of the British force and the Court; seated him on the throne; placed the crown on his head under a royal salute, repeated from every battery in the city; and proclaimed him King of Oude, in [the] presence of all the aristocracy and principal persons of Lucknow, who had flocked to the place on hearing that the danger had passed away.
From the time that the Resident discovered that the King was dead, till the arrival of the five companies under Colonel Monteath, the whole of the British force in this vast city, containing a population of nearly a million persons, amounted to only two companies and a half of sipahees under native officers. One of the companies guarded the Resident's Treasury, one constituted the honorary guard of the Resident, and the half company guarded the gaol. A part of the honorary guard, with as many sipahees as could be safely spared from the Treasury and gaol, were taken by Captain Paton to the palace, and distributed as already mentioned. They all stood nobly to their posts during the long and trying scene, and no attempt was made to concentrate them for the purpose of arresting the tumultuous advance of the Begum's forces. Collectively they would have been too few for the purpose, and it was deemed unsafe to remove them from their respective charges at such a time. The Resident relied upon the minister's repeated assurances that he had taken all necessary precautions to prevent her approach; upon the two companies, called the Khas companies, under the command of Mujd-od Dowlah; and [upon] the squadron of one hundred and fifty horse, under Rajah Bukhtawur Sing, whom he had himself ordered to guard the passage by which they entered. Of all these men not one was employed for the purpose [for which they had been designated]. They and their Commanders all stood aloof, and left the British soldiers to their fate.
The minister was a fool, under the tutelage of his deputy Sobhan Allee Khan, a great knave, who disappeared as soon as he heard that the Begum was approaching with his son-in-law, Khadim Hoseyn. Mozuffer Allee Khan, a person in high office and confidence under the late King, did the same. The minister and the Durbar Wakeel were the only officers of the State of Oude who stood by the new King and the British Resident. The minister afterwards declared that a strong detachment of troops had been placed outside the gate through which the Begum ultimately forced her way, as well as at the other passages leading to the palace and baraduree; and Captain Shakespear, on his way to the new Sovereign, ascertained that guards had actually been posted outside all the other gates leading to the palace and baraduree. From this, the supineness and seeming apathy of many of the palace guards and servants, and the perversion of the orders sent by him before and during the tumult, the minister concluded that there must have been many about him interested in promoting the enterprise of the Begum; and that the approach to the gate through which she forced her way must have been purposely left unguarded. There is now little doubt that from the time that it became known that the contest was between Moonna Jan and Nuseer-od Dowlah, a person but little known except as a prudent and parsimonious old man, a large portion not only of the civil and military establishments, but of the population of the city, felt anxious for the success of the Begum's enterprise; for both [she and her grandson] had, under the harsh treatment of the last two sovereigns, become objects of sympathy.
A good many of the members of the royal family, who were brought up from childhood with the deceased King Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, and near his person to the last, declare that Moonna Jan was his son; but that the King was ashamed and afraid to acknowledge him, after he had so frequently and so formally declared to the British Government that he was not his son, and that he had ceased to cohabit with the boy's mother for two years before his birth. But all such persons admit that Moonna Jan was a boy of ungovernable temper, and the worst possible dispositions; and that he must soon have forfeited the crown by his cruelty, bigotry, and injustice, had he been placed upon it by the British Government. I saw him in January 1838, at Chunar, and a more unpromising boy I have rarely seen.
The ministry dreaded being called to account for their malversations [=improper behavior] as much from the Begum, on account of their successful efforts to keep the King alienated from her and his son, as from Nuseer-od Dowlah, on account of his parsimony, prudence, and great experience in business during the reign of his able father, Saadut Allee Khan. But they would have a better chance of escape from the Begum and the boy than from the vigilant old man, who afterwards made them all disgorge their ill-gotten wealth; and, in consequence, they made no effort to obstruct her enterprise. The military and civil establishments were all in favour of the boy, who would probably be as regardless of their number and discipline as his father had been; while the old man would assuredly reduce the one, and endeavour by rigorous measures to improve the other. Hardly anyone at Lucknow at present doubts that the minister and his associates caused the King to be poisoned, and employed Duljeet and the two sisters; Dhunneea and Dulwee, for the purpose, in expectation that the British Government would take upon itself the Oude administration, as the only possible means of improving it.
The respectable and peaceable portion of the city, though their sympathies were with the boy, had too much in property, and the honour of their families, at stake to aid in any movement in his favour, since it would involve a tumult, and for a time at least insure the supremacy of the mob. Their security and that of their families depended upon the success of the British troops; and they were all prepared to acquiesce in any cause which the British Government might adopt for the sake of order. They would rather that it should adopt that of the Begum and the boy than that of Nuseer-od Dowlah; but in either case were resolved to remain neuter, and let the representative of the British Government take his own course.
It is a fact not unworthy of remark, that more than three millions sterling, or three crores of rupees, in our Government securities, are held by persons who reside, and spend the interest arising from them, in the city of Lucknow; and that the fall in their value in exchange during the times that we have been engaged in our most serious wars has been less in Lucknow than in Calcutta, the capital of British India; so much greater assurance do the people feel of our resources being always equal to our exigencies. At such times the merchants of Lucknow commission their agents in Calcutta to purchase up Government securities at the rate to which they fall in Calcutta, for sale at Lucknow, where they seldom fall at all. About three crores and half of rupees, or three millions and half sterling, have been at different times contributed to our loans by the sovereigns of Oude as a provision for the different members of their respective families and dependents; and the interest is now paid to them and their descendants, at the rates which prevailed at the time of the several loans (four, five, and six per cent), to the amount of fourteen lacs thirty-five thousand and four hundred and ten rupees a-year.
The Begum's haughty and violent temper, and inveterate disposition to meddle in public affairs, were the real cause of her continual disquietude and ultimate disgrace and ruin. The minister of the day dreaded the ascendancy of so imperious and furious a character, should she ever become reconciled to the King. During the whole reign of Ghazee-od Deen, her husband, from the 12th of July 1814 to the 20th of October 1827, her own frequent ebullitions [=outbursts], which often disfigured the King's robes and vests, and left even the hair on his head and chin unsafe; and Aga Meer's sagacious suggestions, satisfied him that his own personal safety and peace of mind, and the welfare of the State, depended upon his keeping as much as possible aloof from her.
He was fond of his son Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, but during his minority he [=Nuseer-od Deen] always took the part of his adoptive mother, the Padshah Begum, and in consequence remained, almost as much as she was, alienated from the King his father. His natural mother died soon after his birth; and people suspected that the Padshah Begum had her put to death, that she might have no rival in his affections; and she had an entire ascendancy over him, acquired by every species of enervating indulgences; and he remained all his life utterly without character, ignorant of the rudiments of public affairs and altogether incapable of taking any useful part in them.
She [=the Padshah Begum] retained this ascendancy over him for some time after he became King, first from habit and affection, and latterly from the fears with which she continued to inspire him, that she could, by her disclosures, whenever she pleased, prevail upon the British Government to set him aside in favour of some other member of the royal family, as the Buhoo Begum of Fyzabad had set aside Wuzeer Allee. She made him dismiss his father's minister, Aga Meer, with disgrace, and confer the seals on Fuzl Allee, the nephew of her favourite waiting-woman, Fyzon Nissa; but when the shrewd and sagacious Hakeem Mehndee became minister three years after, he soon persuaded the young King that all fears of his adoptive mother's disclosures or wishes were idle, and that nothing which she could do or say would induce the British Government to disturb his possession of the sovereignty of Oude.
He [=Hakeem Mehndee] is said to have been the first person who ventured to hint to him the murder of his natural mother by the Padshah Begum; and he was, or pretended to be, violently shocked and grieved. He then built a splendid tomb or cenotaph for her; and endowed it with the means for maintaining pious men to read the Koran in it, and attendants of all kinds to keep it in a condition suitable for the mother of a King. He shuddered, or pretended to shudder, at the mention of the name of the Padshah Begum, as the most atrocious of murderesses. The minister of the day always made it a point to bring the reigning favourite of the seraglio over to his views, by giving her a due share of the profits and patronage of his office; and it was for this reason that the high-born chief consort [the Delhi princess], whose influence over the King could not be so purchased, was soon made to retire from the palace, and ever after to live separated from her husband.
The Padshah Begum had only one child, a daughter, who was united in marriage to Mehndee Allee Khan, by whom she had three children: Mohsen-od Dowlah, who was married to the daughter of Nuseer-od Dowlah the new King; and two daughters, who were married to Mirza Abool Kasim and Mirza Aboo Torab. They [=these three grandchildren] lost their mother while yet children, and the Padshah Begum brought them up and became much attached to them. They had all from childhood been brought up with Nuseer-od Deen, and were all much attached to him and to each other. The ministers, fearing that this attachment might possibly lead to a reconciliation between the King and his adoptive mother, and to their ruin, left him and her no peace till, to save them, she forbade them her house, and sent the girls to their husbands, and the boy to his father-in-law, Nuseer-od Dowlah, whose succession to the throne of Oude has been here described. All objects of mutual interest and affection were in this manner carefully excluded from attendance on either, till they showed themselves to be entirely subservient to the minister of the day.*
[[* The mother always declared, and her two daughters and son all declare, Moonna Jan to have been the son of Nuseer-od Deen, and exactly like him in person, voice, and temper. But he was indulged by the Padshah Begum in such habits of atrocious cruelties to other children, that he soon became detested by all around him but herself and the boy's natural mother, Afzul-mahal.]]Thus alienated from her son, all her affections were transferred to her grandson, Moonna Jan, and there is too much reason to believe that in both cases she purposely did her best to prevent their ever becoming men of business, in order that she might have the guidance of public affairs in her own hands when they should be called to the throne.
The Resident accommodated the Begum, the boy, and her two female attendants in apartments at the Residency, and had a guard placed over them. The new King told him, "that the Begum was the most wicked and unscrupulous woman he had ever known, and that he could expect no peace at Lucknow while she remained." He promised to consult his Government as to her disposal, and on returning to the Residency he increased that guard to two companies of Native Infantry, and all remained quiet when he made his report to Government on the 9th. But towards the close of that day, the city became again agitated. Reports prevailed that Government was to be consulted as to whether they preferred the rights of Moonna Jan to the throne or those of Nuseer-od Dowlah; that the Begum's adherents were ready at her call to fall upon the Resident and his party and put them all to death, or to attack the apartments in which she was confined, rescue her and the boy from prison, and place him again on the throne.
The Court favourites of the late King, and all the public military and civil establishments in the city, dreaded the rigid economy and strict supervision of the new King, who had conducted the duties of the ministry for some time, under his able and vigilant father, Saadut Allee Khan; and all that numerous class who benefit by the lavish expenditure of a thoughtless and profligate Court were equally anxious to have the Government in the hands of an extravagant woman and thoughtless boy, and ready to join and incur some risk in supporting their cause.
Under all these circumstances the Resident determined to send the Begum and her boy out of Oude as soon as possible. At midnight on the 11th, a detachment of three companies of Infantry, under Major Lane of the 2nd Regiment, marched from Cawnpore and arrived at Newulgunge, midway to Lucknow, a distance of twenty-two miles, in the morning of the 12th, with one troop of cavalry. Another troop proceeded to Onow, the first stage from Cawnpore; and a third to Rahmutgunge, the second stage, to relieve the first on their return. At each of these stages, relays of sixty palankeen-bearers and six torch-bearers were placed by the Post-Master at Cawnpore. As the bridge over the Ganges at Cawnpore had been washed away by the flood, a company of Native Infantry was placed on the Oude side of that river, to hold boats in readiness and assist in escorting over the party when they came. About the same time, at midnight, the Begum, her boy, and two of her female attendants were placed in palankeens and sent off from the Residency under the escort of a regiment of Infantry and a detail of artillery, attended by the Second Assistant, Captain Shakespear.
They marched without resting through one of the hottest days of the year, and the party reached Cawnpore in safety about half-past nine o'clock in the evening of the 12th, and were securely lodged in apartments prepared for them at the custom-house. So well had things been arranged between the Resident and Brigadier commanding the troops in Oude, and the Major-General commanding the Division at Cawnpore, that very few persons at Lucknow knew that the Begum and her party had left the Residency when she passed the Ganges at Cawnpore. The three companies under Major Lane, who had marched twenty-two miles in the morning, kept pace with the palankeens all the way back, making a march of forty-four miles, between midnight of the 11th and half-past nine in the evening of the 12th, in so hot a day.
The Begum and Moonna Jan were sent off with their attendants to the fort of Chunar, where they were lodged as state prisoners. As it became safe, the restrictions to which they were at first subjected became by degrees relaxed, and they were permitted to enjoy all the freedom and comforts compatible with their safe keeping. Both died at Chunar, Moonna Jan some time before the Begum. He left three sons by two slave-girls at Chunar, and they still reside there, supported by a small stipend of three hundred rupees a-month from the Oude Government, under the protection of the commandant of the garrison, and the guardianship of Afzul-mahal, the mother of the late Moonna Jan.