The Fall of the Moghul Empire of Hindustan, by H. G. Keene
THE FALL OF THE MOGHUL EMPIRE OF HINDUSTAN, A NEW EDITION, WITH CORRECTIONS AND ADDITIONS.
Two editions of this book having been absorbed, it has been thought that the time was come for its reproduction in a form more adapted to the use of students. Opportunity has been taken to introduce considerable additions and emendations.
The rise and meridian of the Moghul Empire have been related in Elphinstone's " History of India: the Hindu and Mahometan Period; " and a Special Study of the subject will Also be found in the " Sketch of the History of Hindustan" published by the present writer in 1885. Neither of those works, however, undertakes to give a detailed account of the great Anarchy that marked the conclusion of the eighteenth century, the dark time that came before the dawn of British power in the land of the Moghul. Nor is there is any other complete English book on the Subject.
The present work is, therefore, to be regarded as a monograph on the condition of the capital and neighbouring territories, from the murder of Alamgir II. in 1759 to the occupation of Dehli by Lake in 1803. Some introductory chapters are prefixed, with the view of showing how these events were prepared; and an account of the campaign of 1760-1 has been added, because it does not seem to have been hitherto related on a scale proportioned to its importance. That short but desperate struggle is interesting as the last episode of medival war, when battles could be decided by the action of mounted men in armour. It is also the sine qua non of British Empire in India. Had the Mahrattas not been conquered then, it is exceedingly doubtful if the British power in the Bengal Presidency would ever have extended beyond Benares.
The author would wish to conclude this brief explanation by reproducing the remarks which concluded the Preface to his second edition.
"There were two dangers," it was there observed; "the first, that of giving too much importance to the period; the second, that of attempting to illustrate it by stories such as those of Clive and Hastings which had been told by writers with whom competition was out of the question. Brevity, therefore, is studied; and what may seem baldness will be found to be a conciseness, on which much pains have been bestowed."
"The narrative," it was added, "is one of confusion and transition; and chiefly interesting in so far as it throws light on the circumstances which preceded and caused the accession of the East India Company to paramount power in India." The author has only to add an expression of his hope that, in conjunction with Mr. S. Owen's book, what he has here written may help to remove doubts as to the benefits derived by the people of India from the Revolution under consideration.
Finally, mention should be made of Mr. Elphinstone's posthumous work, "The Rise of British Power in the East." That work does not, indeed, clash with the present book; for it did not enter into the scope of the distinguished author to give the native side of the story, or to study it from the point of view here presented. For the military and political aims and operations of the early British officers in Madras and Bengal, however, Elphinstone will be found a valuable guide. His narrative bears to our subject a relation similar to that of the "Roman de Rou" to the history of the Carling Empire of Northern France.
Preliminary Observations on Hindustan and the City of Dehli
Greatness of the Timurides
Causes of Empire's decline
Character of Aurungzeb
Progress of disruption under his descendants
Muhamadan and Hindu enemies
The stage emptied
Overthrow of Mahrattas at Panipat
1760. Movements of Shahzada Ali Gohar, after escaping from Dehli
1761. Battle of Gaya
1762. March towards Hindustan
1763. Massacre of Patna
1764. Flight of Kasim and Sumroo
Battle of Buxar
1705. Treaty with British
1767. Establishment at Allahabad
1764. Najib-ud-Daula at Dehli
Mirza Jawan Bakht Regent
The Jats attacked by Najib
Death of Suraj Mal
1765. Jats attack Jaipur .
1766. Return of Mahrattas
1767. Ahmad Abdali defeats Sikhs .
1768. Mahrattas attack Bhartpur
1770. Rohillas yield to them
Death of Najib-ud-Daula
State of Rohilkand
Zabita Khan .
1771. Mahrattas invite Emperor to return to Dehli
Agency of Restoration .
Emperor's return to Dehli . . . .
1772. Zabita Khan attacked by Imperial force under Mirza Najaf Khan
Flight of Zabita
Treaty with Rohillas
Zabita regains office
Mahrattas attack Dehli .
1773. Desperation of Mirza Najaf .
Mahrattas attack Rohilkand .
Opposed by British
Advance of Audh troops
Restoration of Mirza
Abdul Ahid Khan .
Suspicious conduct of Rohillas
Tribute withheld by H. Rahmat
1774. Battle of Kattra
1775. Death of Shojaa-ud-Daula
Zabita Khan rejoins Jats
Najaf Kuli Khan
Successes of Imperial army
1776. Zabita and the Sikhs
Death of Mir Kasim
Vigour of Empire under M. Najaf
Zabita rebels again
1777. Emperor takes the field .
And the rebellion is suppressed
1778. Abdul Ahid takes the field against the Sikhs
1779. Sikhs plunder Upper Doab
Dehli threatened, but relieved
1780. Mirza Najaf's arrangements
Popham takes Gwalior
Death of Sumroo
1781. Begam becomes a Christian
1782. Death of Mirza
Afrasyab Khan becomes Premier
Mirza Shaffi at Dehli
1783. Murder of Shaffi
Action of Warren Hastings
1784. Flight of Shahzadah Jawan Bakht
Madhoji Sindhia goes to Agra
1785. Tribute demanded from British, but refused
Death of Zabita
State of Country
1786. Gholam Kadir succeeds his father Zabita
Siege of Raghogarh
1787. British policy
Measures of Sindhia
Battle of Lalsot
Mohammed Beg's death
Defection of his nephew Ismail Beg
Greatness of Sindhia
Gholam Kadir enters Dehli
But checked by Begam Sumroo and Najaf Kuli
Gholam Kadir joins Ismail Beg
1788. Battle of Chaksana
Emperor proceeds towards Rajputana
Shahzada writes to George III.
Najaf Kuli rebels
Death of Shahzada
Siege of Gokalgarh
Emperor's return to Dehli
Battles of Fatihpur and Firozabad
Confederates meet at Dehli
Sindhia is inactive
Benoit de Boigne
Defection of Moghuls and retreat of Hindu Guards
Confederates obtain possession of palace
Gholam Kadir in the palace
Approach of Mahrattas
Apprehensions of the spoiler
Moharram at Dehli
Explosion in palace
Gholam Kadir flies to Meerut
His probable intentions
His capture and punishment
Future nature of narrative
Poetical lament of Emperor
A.D. 1788 - 94.
Sindhia as Mayor of palace
1789. Augmentation of Sindhia's Army
1790. Ismail Beg joins the Rajput rising
Battle of Patan
Sindhia at Mathra
Siege of Ajmir
Battle of Mirta
1792. Sindhia's progress to Puna
Holkar advances in his absence
Ismail Beg taken prisoner
Battle of Lakhairi
Sindhia rebuked by Lord Cornwallis
His great power
Rise of George Thomas
1793. He quits Begam's service
Sindhia at Punah
1794. His death and character
A.D. 1794 - 1800.
Daulat Rao Sindhia
Thomas adopted by Appa Khandi Rao
1795. Revolution at Sardhana
Begum delivered by Thomas
Becomes a wiser woman
Movements of Afghans
Battle of Kurdla
1796. De Boigne retires
1797. General Perron
Succession in Audh
1798 War of the Bais
1799. Afghans and British, and treaty with the Nizam
Rising of Shimbunath
Revolt of Lakwa Dada
1801. Holkar defeated at Indor
Power of Perron
Feuds of Mahrattas
Perron attacks Thomas
1802. Treaty of Bassein
1803. Marquis of Wellesley
Supported from England
Fear entertained of the French
Influence of Perron
Plans of the French
The First Consul.
Sindhia's European officers
Anti-English feelings, and fall of Perron
Battle of Dehli
Lake enters the capital
Is received by Emperor
No treaty made
Effect of climate upon race
Early French and English
Empire not overthrown by British
Changes since then
Lake's friendly intentions towards them
Their power curbed
No protection for life, property, or traffic
Uncertain reform without foreign aid
THE FALL OF THE MOGHUL EMPIRE OF HINDUSTAN.
Preliminary Observations on Hindustan and the City of Dehli.
THE country to which the term Hindustan is strictly and properly applied may be roughly described as a rhomboid, bounded on the north-west by the rivers Indus and Satlej, on the south-west by the Indian Ocean, on the south-east by the Narbadda and the Son, and on the north-east by the Himalaya Mountains and the river Ghagra. In the times of the emperors, it comprised the provinces of Sirhind (or Lahore), Rajputana, Gujrat, Malwa, Audh (including Rohilkand, strictly Rohelkhand, the country of the Rohelas, or "Rohillas" of the Histories), Agra, Allahabad, and Dehli: and the political division was into subahs, or divisions, sarkars or districts; dasturs, or sub-divisions; and parganahs, or fiscal unions.
The Deccan, Panjab (Punjab), and Kabul, which also formed parts of the Empire in its widest extension at the end of the seventeenth century, are omitted, as far as possible, from notice, because they did not at the time of our narration form part of the territories of the Empire of Hindustan, though included in the territory ruled by the earlier and greater Emperors.
Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa also formed, at one time, an integral portion of the Empire, but fell away without playing an important part in the history we are considering, excepting for a very brief period. The division into Provinces will be understood by reference to the map. Most of these had assumed a practical independence during the first quarter of the eighteenth century, though acknowledging a weak feudatory subordination to the Crown of Dehli.
The highest point in the plains of Hindustan is probably the plateau on which stands the town of Ajmir, about 230 miles south of Dehli. It is situated on the eastern slope of the Aravalli Mountains, a range of primitive granite, of which Abu, the chief peak, is estimated to be near 5,000 feet above the level of the sea; the plateau of Ajmir itself is some 3,000 feet lower.
The country at large is, probably, the upheaved basin of an exhausted sea which once rendered the highlands of the Deccan an island like a larger Ceylon. The general quality of the soil is accordingly sandy and light, though not unproductive; yielding, perhaps, on an average about one thousand lbs. av. of wheat to the acre. The cereals are grown in the winter, which is at least as cold as in the corresponding parts of Africa. Snow never falls, but thin ice is often formed during the night. During the spring heavy dews fall, and strong winds set in from the west. These gradually become heated by the increasing radiation of the earth, as the sun becomes more vertical and the days longer.
Towards the end of May the monsoon blows up from the Indian Ocean and from the Bay of Bengal, when a rainfall averaging about twenty inches takes place and lasts during the ensuing quarter. This usually ceases about the end of September, when the weather is at its most sickly point. Constant exhalations of malaria take place till the return of the cold weather.
After the winter, cacurbitaceous crops are grown, followed by sowings of rice, sugar, and cotton. About the beginning of the rainy season the millets and other coarse grains are put in, and the harvesting takes place in October. The winter crops are reaped in March and April. Thus the agriculturists are never out of employ, unless it be during the extreme heats of May and June, when the soil becomes almost as hard from heat as the earth in England becomes in the opposite extreme of frost.
Of the hot season Mr. Elphinstone gives the following strong but just description: "The sun is scorching, even the wind is hot, the land is brown and parched, the dust flies in whirlwinds, all brooks become dry, small rivers scarcely keep up a stream, and the largest are reduced to comparative narrow channels in the midst of vast sandy beds." It should, however, be added, that towards the end of this terrible season some relief is afforded to the river supply by the melting of the snow upon the higher Himalayas, which sends down some water into the almost exhausted stream-beds. But even so, the occasional prolongation of the dry weather leads to universal scarcity which amounts to famine for the mass of the population, which affects all classes, and which is sure to be followed by pestilence. Lastly, the malaria noticed above as following the monsoon gives rise to special disorders which become endemic in favouring localities, and travel thence to all parts of the country, borne upon the winds or propagated by pilgrimages and other forms of human intercourse. Such are the awful expedients by which Nature checks the redundancy of a non-emigrating population with simple wants. Hence the construction of drainage and irrigation-works has not merely a direct result in causing temporary prosperity, but an indirect result in a large increase of the responsibilities of the ruling power. Between 1848 and 1854 the population of the part of Hindustan now called the North-West Provinces, where all the above described physical features prevail, increased from a ratio of 280 to the square mile till it reached a ratio of 350. In the subsequent sixteen years there was a further increase. The latest rate appears to be from 378 to 468, and the rate of increase is believed to be about equal to that of the British Islands.
There were at the time of which we are to treat few field-labourers on daily wages, the Metayer system being everywhere prevalent where the soil was not actually owned by joint-stock associations of peasant proprietors, usually of the same tribe.
The wants of the cultivators were provided for by a class of hereditary brokers, who were often also chandlers, and advanced stock, seed, and money upon the security of the unreaped crops.
These, with a number of artisans and handicraftsmen, formed the chief population of the towns; some of the money-dealers were very rich, and 36 per cent. per annum was not perhaps an extreme rate of interest. There were no silver or gold mines, external commerce hardly existed, and the money-price of commodities was low.
The literary and polite language of Hindustan, called Urdu or Rekhta, was, and still is, so far common to the whole country, that it everywhere consists of a mixture of the same elements, though in varying proportions; and follows the same grammatical rules, though with different accents and idioms. The constituent parts are the Arabised Persian, and the Prakrit (in combination with a ruder basis, possibly of local origin), known as Hindi. Speaking loosely, the Persian speech has contributed nouns substantive of civilization, and adjectives of compliment or of science; while the verbs and ordinary vocables and particles pertaining to common life are derived from the earlier tongues. So, likewise, are the names of animals, excepting those of beasts of chase.
The name Urdu, by which this language is usually known, is said to be of Turkish origin, and means literally "camp." But the Moghuls of India first introduced it in the precincts of the Imperial camp; so that as Urdu-i-muali (High or Supreme Camp) came to be a synonym for new Dehli after Shahjahan had made it his permanent capital, so Urdu-ki-zaban meant the lingua franca spoken at Dehli. It was the common method of communication between different classes, as English may have been in London under Edward III. The classical languages of Arabia and Persia were exclusively devoted to uses of law, learning, and religion; the Hindus cherished their Sanskrit and Hindi for their own purposes of business or worship, while the Emperor and his Moghul courtiers kept up their Turkish speech as a means of free intercourse in private life. The Chaghtai dialect resembled the Turkish still spoken in Kashgar.
Out of such elements was the rich and still growing language of Hindustan formed, and it is yearly becoming more widely spread over the most remote parts of the country, being largely taught in Government schools, and used as a medium of translation from European literature, both by the English and by the natives. For this purpose it is peculiarly suited, from still possessing the power of assimilating foreign roots, instead of simply inserting them cut and dried, as is the case with languages that have reached maturity. Its own words are also liable to a kind of chemical change when encountering foreign matter (e.g., jau, barley: when oats were introduced some years ago, they were at once called jaui "little barley").
The peninsula of India is to Asia what Italy is to Europe, and Hindustan may be roughly likened to Italy without the two Sicilies, only on a far larger scale. In this comparison the Himalayas represent the Alps, and the Tartars to the north are the Tedeschi of India; Persia is to her as France, Piedmont is represented by Kabul, and Lombardy by the Panjab. A recollection of this analogy may not be without use in familiarizing the narrative which is to follow.
Such was the country into which successive waves of invaders, some of them, perhaps, akin to the actual ancestors of the Goths, Huns, and Saxons of Europe, poured down from the plains of Central Asia. At the time of which our history treats, the aboriginal Indians had long been pushed out from Hindustan into the mountainous forests that border the Deccan; which country has been largely peopled, in its more accessible regions, by the Sudras, who were probably the first of the Scythian invaders. After them had come the Sanskrit-speaking race, a congener of the ancient Persians, who brought a form of fire-worshipping, perhaps once monotheistic, of which traces are still extant in the Vedas, their early Scriptures. This form of faith becoming weak and eclectic, was succeeded by a reaction, which, under the auspices of Gautama, obtained general currency, until in its turn displaced by the gross mythology of the Puranas, which has since been the popular creed of the Hindus.
This people in modern times has divided into three main denominations: the Sarawagis or Jains (who represent some sect allied to the Buddhists or followers of Gautama); the sect of Shiva, and the sect of Vishnu.
In addition to the Hindus, later waves of immigration have deposited a Musalman population somewhat increased by the conversions that occurred under Aurangzeb. The Mohamadans are now about one-seventh of the total population of Hindustan; and there is no reason to suppose that this ratio has greatly varied since the fall of the Moghuls.
The Mohamadans in India preserved their religion, though not without some taint from the circumjacent idolatry. Their celebration of the Moharram, with tasteless and extravagant ceremonies, and their forty days' fast in Ramzan, were alike misplaced in a country where, from the movable nature of their dates, they sometimes fell in seasons when the rigour of the climate was such as could never have been contemplated by the Arabian Prophet. They continued the bewildering lunar year of the Hijra, with its thirteenth month every third year; but, to increase the confusion, the Moghul Emperors also reckoned by Turkish cycles while the Hindus tenaciously maintained in matters of business their national Sambat, or era of Raja Bikram Ajit.
The Emperor Akbar, in the course of his endeavours to fuse the peoples of India into a whole, endeavoured amongst other things to form a new religion. This, it was his intention, should be at once a vindication of his Tartar and Persian forefathers against Arab proselytism, and a bid for the suffrages of his Hindu subjects. Like most eclectic systems it failed. In and after his time also Christianity in its various forms has been feebly endeavouring to maintain a footing. This is a candid report, from a source that cannot but be trusted, of the result of three centuries of Missionary labour.
"There is nothing which can at all warrant the opinion that the heart of the people has been largely touched, or that the conscience of the people has been affected seriously. There is no advance in the direction of faith in Christ, like that which Pliny describes, or Tertullian proclaims as characteristic of former eras. In fact, looking at the work of Missions on the broadest scale, and especially upon that of our own Missions, we must confess that, in many cases, the condition is one rather of stagnation than of advance. There seems to be a want in them of the power to edify, and a consequent paralysis of the power to convert. The converts, too often, make such poor progress in the Christian life, that they fail to act as leaven in the lump of their countrymen. In particular, the Missions do not attract to Christ many men of education; not even among those who have been trained within their own schools. Educated natives, as a general rule, will stand apart from the truth; maintaining, at the best, a state of mental vacuity which hangs suspended, for a time, between an atheism, from which they shrink, and a Christianity, which fails to overcome their fears and constrain their allegiance." Extract from Letter of the Anglican Bishops of India, addressed to the English Clergy, in May, 1874.
The capital cities of Northern India have always been Dehli and Agra; the first-named having been the seat of the earlier Musalman Empires, while the Moghuls, for more than a full century, preferred to hold their Court at Agra. This dynasty, however, re-transferred the metropolis to the older situation; but, instead of attempting to revive any of the pristine localities, fixed their palace and its environs upon a new—and a preferablepiece of ground.
If India be the Italy of Asia, still more properly may it be said that Dehli is its Rome. This ancient site stretches ruined for many miles round the present inhabited area, and its original foundation is lost in a mythical antiquity. A Hindu city called Indraprastha was certainly there on the bank of the Jamna near the site of the present city before the Christian era, and various Mohamadan conquerors occupied sites in the neighbourhood, of which numerous remains are still extant. There was also a city near the present Kutb Minar, built by a Hindu rajah, about 57 B.C. according to General Cunningham. This was the original (or old) Dilli or Dehli, a name of unascertained origin. It appears to have been deserted during the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni, but afterwards rebuilt about 1060 A.D. The last built of all the ancient towns was the Din Panah of Humayun, nearly on the site of the old Hindu town; but it had gone greatly to decay during the long absence of his son and grandson at Agra and elsewhere.
At length New Dehlithe present citywas founded by Shahjahan, the great-grandson of Humayun, and received the name, by which it is still known to Mohamudans, of Shahjahanabad. The city is seven miles round, with seven gates, the palace or citadel one-tenth of the area. Both are a sort of irregular semicircle on the right bank of the Jamna, which river forms their eastern arc. The plain is about 800 feet above the level of the sea, and is bordered at some distance by a low range of hills, and receiving the drainage of the Mewat Highlands. The greatest heat is in June, when the mean temperature in the shade is 92 F.; but it falls as low as 53 in January. The situationas will be seen by the mapis extremely well chosen as the administrative centre of Hindustan; it must always be a place of commercial importance, and the climate has no peculiar defect. The only local disorder is a very malignant sore, which may perhaps be due to the brackishness of the water. This would account for the numerous and expensive canals and aqueducts which have been constructed at different periods to bring water from remote and pure sources. Here Shahjahan founded, in 1645 A.D., a splendid fortified palace, which continued to be occupied by his descendants down to the Great Revolt of 1857.
The entrance to the palace was, and still is, defended by a lofty barbican, passing which the visitor finds himself in an immense arcaded vestibule, wide and lofty, formerly appropriated to the men and officers of the guard, but in later days tenanted by small shopkeepers. This opened into a courtyard, at the back of which was a gate surmounted by a gallery, where one used to hear the barbarous performances of the royal band. Passing under this, the visitor entered the 'Am-Khas or courtyard, much fallen from its state, when the rare animals and the splendid military pageants of the earlier Emperors used to throng its area. Fronting you was the Diwan-i-Am (since converted into a canteen), and at the back (towards the east or river) the Diwan-i-Khas, since adequately restored. This latter pavilion is in echelon with the former, and was made to communicate on both sides with the private apartments.
On the east of the palace, and connected with it by a bridge crossing an arm of the river, is the ancient Pathan fort of Salimgarh, a rough and dismal structure, which the later Emperors used as a state prison. It is a remarkable contrast to the rest of the fortress, which is surrounded by crenellated walls of high finish. These walls being built of the red sandstone of the neighbourhood, and seventy feet in height, give to the exterior of the buildings a solemn air of passive and silent strength, so that, even after so many years of havoc, the outward appearance of the Imperial residence continues to testify of its former grandeur. How its internal and actual grandeur perished will be seen in the following pages. The Court was often held at Agra, where the remains of a similar palace are still to be seen. No detailed account of this has been met with at all rivalling the contemporary descriptions of the Red Palace of Dehli. But an attempt has been made to represent its high and palmy state in the General Introduction to the History of Hindustan by the present writer.
Of the character of the races who people the wide Empire of which Dehli was the metropolis, very varying estimates have been formed, in the most extreme opposites of which there is still some germ of truth. It cannot be denied that, in some of what are termed the unprogressive virtues, they exceeded, as their sons still exceed, most of the nations of Europe; being usually temperate, self-controlled, patient, dignified in misfortune, and affectionate and liberal to kinsfolk and dependents. Few things perhaps show better the good behaviour one may almost say the good breeding of the ordinary native than the sight of a crowd of villagers going to or returning from a fair in Upper India. The stalwart young farmers are accompanied by their wives; each woman in her coloured wimple, with her shapely arms covered nearly to the elbow with cheap glass armless. Every one is smiling, showing rows of well-kept teeth, talking kindly and gently; here a little boy leads a pony on which his white-bearded grandfather is smilingly seated; there a baby perches, with eyes of solemn satisfaction, on its father's shoulder. Scenes of the immemorial East are reproduced before our modern eyes; now the "flight into Egypt," now St. John and his lamb. In hundreds and in thousands, the orderly crowds stream on. Not a bough is broken off a way-side tree, not a rude remark addressed to the passenger as he threads his horse's way carefully through the everywhere yielding ranks. So they go in the morning and so return at night.
But, on the other hand, it is not to be rashly assumed that, as India is the Italy, so are the Indian races the Italians of Asia. All Asiatics are unscrupulous and unforgiving. The natives of Hindustan are peculiarly so; but they are also unsympathetic and unobservant in a manner that is altogether their own. From the languor induced by the climate, and from the selfishness engendered by centuries of misgovernment, they have derived a weakness of will, an absence of resolute energy, and an occasional audacity of meanness, almost unintelligible in a people so free from the fear of death. Many persons have thought that moral weakness of this kind must be attributable to the system of caste by which men, placed by birth in certain grooves, are forbidden to even think of stepping out of them. But this is not the whole explanation. Nor, indeed, are the most candid foreign critics convinced that the system is one of unmixed evil. The subjoined moderate and sensible estimate of the effects of caste, upon the character and habits of the people is from the Bishops' letter quoted above. "In India, Caste has been the bond of Society, defining the relations between man and man, and though essentially at variance with all that is best and noblest in human nature, has held vast communities together, and established a system of order and discipline under which Government has been administered, trade has prospered, the poor have been maintained, and some domestic virtues have flourished."
Macaulay has not overstated Indian weaknesses in his Essay on Warren Hastings, where he has occasion to describe the character of Nand Komar, who, as a Bengali man-of-the-pen, appears to have been a marked type of all that is most unpleasing in the Hindoo character. The Bengalis, however, have many amiable characteristics to show on the other side of the shield, to which it did not suit the eloquent Essayist to draw attention. And in going farther North many other traits, of a far nobler kind, will be found more and more abundant. Of the Musalmans, it only remains to add that, although mostly descended from hardier immigrants, they have imbibed the Hindu character to an extent that goes far to corroborate the doctrine which traces the morals of men to the physical circumstances that surround them. The subject will be found more fully treated in the concluding chapter.
Greatness of Timur's DescendantsCauses of the Empire's DeclineCharacter of AurangzebProgress of Disruption under his SuccessorsMuhamadan and Hindu enemiesThe Stage emptied.
For nearly two centuries the throne of the Chaghtais continued to be filled by a succession of exceptionally able Princes. The brave and simple-hearted Babar, the wandering Humayun, the glorious Akbar, the easy but uncertain-tempered Jahangir, the magnificent Shahjahan, all these rulers combined some of the best elements of Turkish character and their administration was better than that of any other Oriental country of their date. Of Shahjahan's government and its patronage of the arts both decorative and useful we have trustworthy contemporary descriptions. His especial taste was for architecture; and the Mosque and Palace of Dehli, which he personally designed, even after the havoc of two centuries, still remain the climax of the Indo-Saracenic order, and admitted rivals to the choicest works of Cordova and Granada.
The abilities of his son and successor ALAMGIR, known to Europeans by his private name, AURANGZEB, rendered him the most famous member of his famous house. Intrepid and enterprising as he was in war, his political sagacity and statecraft were equally unparalleled in Eastern annals. He abolished capital punishment, understood and encouraged agriculture, founded numberless colleges and schools, systematically constructed roads and bridges, kept continuous diaries of all public events from his earliest boyhood, administered justice publicly in person, and never condoned the slightest malversation of a provincial governor, however distant his province. Such were these emperors; great, if not exactly what we should call good, to a degree rare indeed amongst hereditary rulers.
The fact of this uncommon succession of high qualities in a race born to the purple may be ascribed to two main considerations. In the first place, the habit of contracting, marriages with Hindu princesses, which the policy and the latitudinarianism of the emperors established, was a constant source of fresh blood, whereby the increase of family predisposition was checked. Few if any races of men are free from some morbid taint: scrofula, phthisis, weak nerves, or a disordered brain, are all likely to be propagated if a person predisposed to any such ailment marries a woman of his own stock. From this danger the Moghul princes were long kept free. Khuram, the second son of Jahangir, who succeeded his father under the title of Shah Jahan, had a Hindu mother, and two Hindu grandmothers. All his sons, however, were by a Persian consort the lady of the Taj.
Secondly, the invariable fratricidal war which followed the demise of the Crown gave rise to a natural selection (to borrow a term from modern physical science), which eventually confirmed the strongest in possession of the prize. However humanity may revolt from the scenes of crime which such a system must perforce entail, yet it cannot be doubted that the qualities necessary to ensure success in a struggle of giants would certainly both declare and develop themselves in the person of the victor by the time that struggle was concluded.
It is, however, probable that both these causes aided ultimately in the dissolution of the monarchy.
The connections which resulted from the earlier emperors' Hindu marriages led, as the Hindus became disaffected after the intolerant rule of Aurangzeb, to an assertion of partisanship which gradually swelled into independence; while the wars between the rival sons of each departing emperor gave more and more occasion for the Hindu chiefs to take sides in arms.
Then it was that each competitor, seeking to detach the greatest number of influential feudatories from the side of his rivals, and to propitiate such feudatories in his own favour, cast to each of these the prize that each most valued. And, since this was invariably the uncontrolled dominion of the territories confided to their charge, it was in this manner that the reckless disputants partitioned the territories that their forefathers had accumulated with such a vast expenditure of human happiness and human virtue. For, even from those who had received their titledeeds at the hands of claimants to the throne ultimately vanquished, the concession could rarely be wrested by the exhausted conqueror. Or, when it was, there was always at hand a partisan to be provided for, who took the gift on the same terms as those upon which it had been held by his predecessor.
Aurangzeb, when he had imprisoned his father and, conquered and slain his brothers, was, on his accession, A.D. 1658, the most powerful of all the Emperors of Hindustan, and, at the same time, the ablest administrator that the Empire had ever known. In his reign the house of Timur attained its zenith. The wild Pathans of Kabul were temporarily tamed; the Shah of Persia sought his friendship; the ancient Musalman powers of Golconda and Bijapur were subverted, and their territories rendered subordinate to the sway of the Empire; the hitherto indomitable Rajputs were subdued and made subject to taxation; and, if the strength of the Mahrattas lay gathered upon the Western Ghats like a cloud risen from the sea, yet it was not to be anticipated that a band of such marauders could long resist the might of the great Moghul.
Yet that might and that greatness were reduced to a mere show before his long reign terminated; and the Moghul Empire resembled to use a familiar image one of those Etruscan corpses which, though crowned and armed, are destined to crumble at the breath of heaven or at the touch of human hands. And still more did it resemble some splendid palace, whose gilded cupolas and towering minarets are built of materials collected from every quarter of the world, only to collapse in undistinguishable ruin when the Ficus religiosa has lodged its destructive roots in the foundation on which they rest. Thus does this great ruler furnish another instance of the familiar but everneeded lesson, that countries may be over-governed. Had he been less anxious to stamp his own image and superscription upon the palaces of princes and the temples of priests; upon the moneys of every market, and upon every human heart and conscience; he might have governed with as much success as his free thinking and pleasure-seeking predecessors. But he was the Louis Quatorze of the East; with less of pomp than his European contemporary, but not less of the lust of conquest, of centralization, and of religious conformity. Though each monarch identified the State with himself, yet it may be doubted if either, on his deathbed, knew that his monarchy was dying also. But so it was that to each succeeded that gradual but complete cataclysm which seems the inevitable consequence of the system which each pursued.
One point peculiar to the Indian emperor is that the persecuting spirit of his reign was entirely due to his own character. The jovial and clement Chaghtai Turks, from whom he was descended, were never bigoted Mohamadans. Indeed it may be fairly doubted whether Akbar and his son Jahangir were, to any considerable extent, believers in the system of the Arabian prophet. Far different, however, was the creed of Aurangzeb, and ruthlessly did he seek to force it upon his Hindu subjects. Thus there were now added to the usual dangers of a large empire the two peculiar perils of a jealous centralization of power, and a deep-seated disaffection of the vast majority of the subjects. Nor was this all. There had never been any fixed settlement of the succession; and not even the sagacity of this politic emperor was superior to the temptation of arbitrarily transferring the dignity of heir-apparent from one son to another during his long reign. True, this was no vice confined exclusively to Aurangzeb. His predecessors had done the like; but then their systems had been otherwise genial and fortunate. His successors, too, were destined to pursue the same infatuated course; and it was a defeated intrigue of this sort which probably first brought the puppet emperor of our own time into that fatal contact with the power of England which sent him to die in a remote and dishonoured exile.
When, therefore, the sceptre had fallen from the dead man's hands, there were numerous evil influences ready to attend its assumption by any hands that were less experienced and strong. The prize was no less than the possession of the whole peninsula, estimated to have yielded a yearly revenue of the nominal value of thirty-four millions of pounds sterling, and guarded by a veteran army of five hundred thousand men.
The will of the late emperor had left the disposal of his inheritance entirely unsettled. "Whoever of my fortunate sons shall chance to rule my empire," is the only reference to the subject that occurs in this brief and extraordinary document.
His eldest surviving son consequently found two competitors in the field, in the persons of his brothers. These, however, he defeated in succession, and assumed the monarchy under the title of BAHADUR SHAH. A wise and valiant prince, he did not reign long enough to show how far he could have succeeded in controlling or retarding the evils above referred to; but his brief occupation of the monarchy is marked by the appearance of all those powers and dynasties which afterwards participated, all in its dismemberment, and most in its spoil. Various enemies, both Hindu and Musalman, appeared, and the Empire of the Chaghtai Turks was sapped and battered by attempts which, though mostly founded on the most selfish motives, involved a more or less patriotic feeling. Sikhs, Mahrattas, and Rajputs, all aimed at independence; while the indigenous Mohamadans, instead of joining the Turks in showing a common front to the common enemy, weakened the defence irrecoverably by opposition and rivalry.
In the attempt to put down the Sikhs, Bahadur died at Lahor, just five years after the death of his father. The usual struggle ensued. Three of the princes were defeated and slain in detail; and the partisans of the eldest son, Mirza Moizudin, conferred upon him the succession (by the title of JAHANDAR SHAH), after a wholesale slaughter of such of his kindred as fell within their grasp. After a few months, the aid of the governors of Bihar and Allahabad, Saiyids of the tribe of Barha, enabled the last remaining claimant to overthrow and murder the incapable Emperor. The conqueror succeeded his uncle under the title of FAROKHSIAR.
The next step of the Saiyids, men of remarkable courage and ability was to attack the Rajputs; and to extort from their chief, the Maharajah Ajit Sing, the usual tribute, and the hand of his daughter for the Emperor, who, like some of his predecessors, was anxious to marry a Hindu princess. But the levity and irresolution of the Emperor soon led to his being, in his turn, dethroned and slaughtered. The race was now quite worn out.
A brief interregnum ensued, during which the all-powerful Saiyids sought to administer the powers of sovereignty behind the screen of any royal scion they could find of the requisite nonentity. But there was a Nothing still more absolute than any they could find; and after two of these shadow-kings had passed in about seven months, one after the other, into the grave, the usurpers were at length constrained to make a choice of a more efficient puppet. This was the son of Bahadur Shah's youngest son, who had perished in the wars which followed that emperor's demise. His private name was Sultan Roshan Akhtar ("Prince Fair Star"), but he assumed with the Imperial dignity the title of MOHAMMAD SHAH, and is memorable as the last Indian emperor that ever sat upon the peacock throne of Shah Jahan.
The events mentioned in the preceding brief summary, though they do not comprehend the whole disintegration of the Empire, are plainly indicative of what is to follow. In the final chapters of the First Part we shall behold somewhat more in detail the rapidly accelerating event. During the long reign of Mohammad foreign violence will be seen accomplishing what native vice and native weakness have commenced; and the successors to his dismantled throne will be seen passing like other decorations in a passive manner from one mayor of the palace to another, or making fitful efforts to be free, which only rivet their chains and hasten their destruction. One by one the provinces fall away from this distempered centre. At length we shall find the throne literally without an occupant, and the curtain will seem to descend while preparations are being made for the last act of this Imperial tragedy.
Muhammad Shah Chin Kulich Khan, his retirement from Dehli Movements of the Mahrattas Invasion of Nadir Shah Ahmad Khan repulsed by the Moghuls.
GUIDED by his mother, a person of sense and spirit, the young Emperor began his reign by forming a party of Moghul friends, who were hostile to the Saiyids on every conceivable account. The former were Sunnis, the latter Shias; and perhaps the animosities of sects are stronger than those of entirely different creeds. Moreover, the courtiers were proud of a foreign descent; and, while they despised the ministers as natives of India, they possessed in their mother tongue Turkish a means of communicating with the Emperor (a man of their own race) from which the ministers were excluded. The Saiyids were soon overthrown, their ruin being equally desired by Chin Kulich, the head of the Turkish party, and Saadat Ali, the newly-arrived adventurer from Persia. These noblemen now formed the rival parties of Turan and Iran; and became distinguished, the one as founder of the principality of Audh, abolished in 1856, the other as that of the dynasty of Haidarabad, which still subsists. Both, however, were for the time checked by the ambition and energy of the Mahrattas. Chin Kulich was especially brought to his knees in Bhopal, where the Mahrattas wrung from him the cession of Malwa, and a promise of tribute to be paid by the Imperial Government to these rebellious brigands.
This was a galling situation for an ancient nobleman, trained in the traditions of the mighty Aurangzeb. The old man was now between two fires. If he went on to his own capital, Haidarabad, he would be exposed to wear out the remainder of his days in the same beating of the air that had exhausted his master. If he returned to the capital of the Empire, he saw an interminable prospect of contempt and defeat at the hands of the Captain-General Khan Dauran, the chief of the courtiers who had been wont to break their jests upon the old-fashioned manners of the veteran.
Thus straitened, the Nizam, for by that title Chin Kulich was now beginning to be known, took counsel with Saadat, the Persian, who was still at Dehli. Nadir Shah, the then ruler of Persia, had been for some time urging on the Court of Dehli remonstrances arising out of boundary quarrels and similar grievances. The two nobles, who may be described as opposition leaders, are believed to have in 1738 addressed the Persian monarch in a joint letter which had the result of bringing him to India, with all the consequences which will be found related in the History of Hindustan by the present writer, and in the well-known work of Mountstuart Elphinstone.
It would be out of place in this introduction to dwell in detail upon the brief and insincere defence of the Empire by Saadat 'Ali, in attempting to save whom the Khan Dauran lost his life, while the Nizam attempted vain negotiations. The Persians, as is well-known, advanced on Dehli, massacred some 100,000 of the inhabitants, held the survivors to ransom, and ultimately retired to their own country, with plunder that has been estimated at eighty millions sterling, and included the famous Peacock Throne.
The Nizam was undoubtedly the gainer by these tragic events. In addition to being Viceroy of the Deccan, he found himself all-powerful at Dehli, for Saadat 'Ali had died soon after the Khan Dauran. Death continuing to favour him, his only remaining rival, the Mahratta Peshwa, Baji Rao, passed away in 1740, on the eve of a projected invasion of Hindustan. In 1745 the Province of Rohelkhand became independent, as did the Eastern Subahs of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. Leaving his son to represent him at Dehli, the Nizam settled at Haidarabad as an independent ruler, although he still professed subordination to the Empire, of which he called himself Vakil-i-Mutlak, or Regent.
Shortly after, a fresh invader from the north appeared in the person of Ahmad Khan Abdali, leader of the Daurani Afghans, who had obtained possession of the frontier provinces during the confusion in Persian politics that succeeded the assassination of Nadir. But a new generation of Moghul nobles was now rising, whose valour formed a short bright Indian summer in the fall of the Empire; and the invasion was rolled back by the spirit and intelligence of the heir apparent, the Vazir's son Mir Mannu, his brother-in-law Ghazi-ud-din, and the nephew of the deceased Governor of Audh, Abul-Mansur Khan, better known to Europeans by his title Safdar Jang. The decisive action was fought near Sirhind, and began on the 3rd March, 1748. This is memorable as the last occasion on which Afghans were ever repulsed by people of India until the latter came to have European leaders. The death of the Vazir took place eight days later. This Vazir (Kamr-ul-din Khan), who had long been the head of the Turkish party in the State, was the nominal leader of the expedition, in conjunction with the heir-apparent, though the chief glory was acquired by his gallant son Mannu, or Moin-ul-din. The Vazir did not live to share the triumph of his son, who defeated the enemy, and forced him to retire. The Vazir Kamr-ul-din died on the 11th, just before the retreat of the Afghans. A round shot killed him as he was praying in his tent; and the news of the death of this old and constant servant, who had been Mohammad's personal friend through all the pleasures and cares of his momentous reign, proved too much for the Emperor's exhausted constitution. He was seized by a strong convulsion as he sate administering justice in his despoiled palace at Dehli, and expired almost immediately, about the 16th of April, A.D. 1748.
Ahmad Shah The Rohillas Ghazi-ud-din the younger Perplexities of the Emperor Alamgir II. placed on the throne.
SELDOM has a reign begun under fairer auspices than did that of Ahmad Shah. The Emperor was in the flower of his age; his immediate associates were men distinguished for their courage and skill; the Nizam was a bar to the Mahrattas in the Deccan, and the tide of northern invasion had ebbed out of sight.
There is, however, a fatal element of uncertainty in all systems of government which depend for their success merely upon personal qualities. The first sign of this precarious tenure of greatness was afforded by the death of the aged Nizam Chin Kulich, Viceroy of the Deccan, which took place immediately after that of the late Emperor.
The eldest son of the old Nizam contended with the nephew of the deceased Saadat whose name was Mansur, but who is better known by his title of Safdar Jang for the Premiership, or office of Vazir, and his next brother Nasir Jang held the Lieutenancy of the Deccan. The command in Rajputan, just then much disturbed, devolved at first on a Persian nobleman who had been his Bakhshi, or Paymaster of the Forces, and also Amir-ul-Umra, or Premier Peer. His disaster and disgrace were not far off, as will be seen presently. The office of Plenipotentiary was for the time in abeyance. The Vazirship, which had been held by the deceased Kamr-ul-din was about the same time conferred upon Safdar Jang, who also succeeded his uncle as Viceroy or Nawab of Audh. Hence the title, afterwards so famous, of Nawab-Vazir.
Having made these dispositions, the Emperor followed the hereditary bent of his natural disposition, and left the provinces to fare as best they might, while he enjoyed the pleasures to which his opportunities invited him. The business of state fell very much into the hands of a eunuch named Jawid Khan, who had long been the favourite of the Emperor's mother, a Hindu danseuse named Udham Bai, who is known in history as the Kudsiya Begam. The remains of her villa are to be seen in a garden still bearing her name, on the Jamna side a little beyond the Kashmir Gate of New Dehli. For a time these two had all at their command; and the lady at least appears to have made a beneficent use of her term of prosperity. Meanwhile, the two great dependencies of the Empire, Rohilkand and the Panjab, become the theatre of bloody contests.
The Rohillas routed the Imperial army commanded by the Vazir in person, and though Safdar Jung wiped off this stain, it was only by undergoing the still deeper disgrace of encouraging the Hindu powers to prey upon the growing weakness of the Empire.
Aided by the Mahrattas under Holkar and by the Jats under Suraj Mal, the Vazir defeated the Rohillas at the fords of the Ganges; and pushed them up into the malarious country at the foot of the Kumaon mountains, where famine and fever would soon have completed their subjugation, but for the sudden reappearance in the north-west of their Afghan kindred under Ahmad Khan the Abdali.
The Mahrattas were allowed to indemnify themselves for these services by seizing on part of the Rohilla country, and drawing chauth from the rest; consideration of which they promised their assistance to cope with the invading Afghans; but on arriving at Dehli they learned that the Emperor, in the Vazir's absence, had surrendered to Ahmad the provinces of Lahor and Multan, and thus terminated the war.
An expedition was about this time sent to Ajmir, under the command of Saadat Khan, the Amir-ul-Umra, the noble of the Shiah or "Iranian" party already mentioned as commanding in Rajputan, and who was also the Imperialist Viceroy of Agra. He wasted his time and strength, however, in an attack upon the Jats, through whose country the way went. When at last he neared Ajmir he allowed himself to be entangled in the local intrigues which it was the object of his expedition to suppress. He returned after about fifteen months of fruitless campaigning, and was dismissed from his office by the all-powerful Jawid, Ghazi-ud-din succeeded as Amir-ul- Umra.
Almost every section of the History of Ahmad Shah abstracted by Professor Dowson (VIII.) ends with some sinister allusion to this favourite eunuch and his influence. The Emperor had nothing to say as to what went on, as his mother and Jawid were the real rulers. The Emperor considered it to be most suitable to him to spend his time in pleasure; and he made his Zanana extend a mile. For weeks he would remain without seeing the face of a male creature. There was probably no sincere friend to raise a warning; and the doom deepened and the hand wrote upon the wall unheeded. The country was overrun with wickedness and wasted with misery. The disgrace of the unsuccessful Saadat returning from Ajmir, was enhanced by his vainly attempting to strike a blow at the Empress and her favourite. They called in the Turkish element against him, and contrived to alienate his countryman, Safdar Jang, who departed towards his Viceroyship of Audh; leaving the wretched remains of an Empire to ferment and crumble in its own way.
The cabinet of the Empress was now, in regard to Ghazi-ud-din and the Mahrattas, in the position of a necromancer who has to furnish his familiars with employment on pain of their destroying him. But an escape seemed to be afforded them by the projects of Ghazi-ud-din, who agreed to draw off the dangerous auxiliaries to aid him in wresting the Lieutenancy of the Deccan from his third brother Salabat Jang who had possessed himself of the administration on the death of Nasir Jang, the second son and first successor of Chin Kulich, the old Nizam. He was to be represented at Dehli by a nephew.
Gladly did the Persian party behold their rival thus depart; little dreaming of the dangerous abilities of the boy he had left behind. This youth, best known by the family affix of Ghazi-ud-din (2nd), but whose name was Shahabuddin, and who is known in native histories by his official title of Aamad-ul-Mulk, was son of Firoz Jang, the old Nizam's fourth son. He at once assumed the head of the army, and may be properly described, henceforth, as "Captain-General." He was but sixteen when the news of his uncle's sudden death at Aurangabad was brought to Dehli. Safdar Jang, returning from Lucknow, removed the Emperor's chief favourite, Jawid, by assassination (28th August, 1752) and doubtless thought himself at length arrived at the goal of his ambition. But the young Ghazi, secretly instigated by the weak and anxious monarch, renewed against the Persian the same war of Turan and Iran, of Sunni and Shia, which in the last reign had been waged between the uncle of the one and the grandfather of the other. The only difference was that both parties being now fully warned, the mask of friendship that had been maintained during the old struggle was now completely dropped; and the streets of the metropolis became the scene of daily fights between the two factions. Many splendid remains of the old cities are believed to have been destroyed during these struggles. The Jats from Bhurtpore came up under Suraj Mal, their celebrated leader, and plundered the environs right and left. The Vazir's people, the Persian partly, breached a bastion of the city wall, and their victory seemed near at hand. But Mir Mannu, the famous Viceroy of the Punjab who was Ghazi's near kinsman sent a body of veterans to aid the Moghul cause; the account is confused, but this seems to have turned the tide. The Moghuls, or Turks, for the time won; and Ghazi assumed the command of the army. The Vazirship was conferred on Intizam-ud-daulah the Khan Khanan (a son of the deceased Kamr-ul-din, and young Ghazi's cousin), while Safdar Jang falling into open rebellion, called the Jats under Surajmal to his assistance. The Moghuls were thus led to have recourse to the Mahrattas; and Holkar was even engaged as a nominal partizan of the Empire, against his co-religionists the Jats, and his former patron the Viceroy of Audh. The latter, who was always more remarkable for sagacity than for personal courage, soon retired to his own country, and the hands of the conqueror Ghazi fell heavily upon the unfortunate Jats.
The Khan Khanan and the Emperor now began to think that things had gone far enough; and the former, who was acquainted with his kinsman's unscrupulous mind and ruthless passions, persistently withheld from him a siege-train which was required for the reduction of Bhartpur, the Jat capital. The Emperor was thus in a situation from which the utmost judgment in the selection of a line of conduct was necessary for success, indeed for safety. The gallant Mir Mannu, son of his father's old friend and servant Kamar-uddin, was absent in the Panjab, engaged on the arduous duty of keeping the Afghans in check. But his brother-in-law, the Khan Khanan, was ready with alternative projects, of which each was courageous and sensible. To call back Safdar Jung, and openly acknowledge the cause of the Jats, would probably cost only one campaign, well conceived and vigorously executed. On the other hand, to support the Captain-General Ghazi honestly and without reserve, would have secured immediate repose, whilst it crushed a formidable Hindu power.
The irresolute voluptuary before whom these plans were laid could decide manfully upon neither. He marched from Dehli with the avowed intention of supporting the Captain-General, to whom he addressed messages of encouragement. He at the same time wrote to Surajmal, to whom he promised that he would fall upon the rear of the army (his own !), upon the Jats making a sally from the fortress in which they were besieged.
Safdar Jang not being applied to, remained sullenly aloof: the Emperor's letter to the Jats fell into the hands of Ghazi-ud-din, the Captain-General, who returned it to him with violent menaces. The alarmed monarch began to fall back upon his capital, pursued at a distance by his rebellious general. Holkar meanwhile executed a sudden and independent attack upon the Imperial camp, which he took and plundered at Sikundrabad, near Bolandshahr. The ladies of the Emperor's family were robbed of everything, and sent to Dehli in country carts. The Emperor and his minister lost all heart, and fled precipitately into Dehli, where they had but just time to take refuge in the palace, when they found themselves rigorously invested.
Knowing the man with whom they had to deal, their last hope was obviously in a spirited resistance, combined with an earnest appeal to the Audh Viceroy and to the ruler of the Jats. And it is on record in a trustworthy native history that such was the tenor of the Vazir's advice to the Emperor. But the latter, perhaps too sensible of the difficulties of this course from the known hostility of Safdar Jang, and the great influence of Ghazi-ud-din over the Moghul soldiery, rejected the bold counsel. Upon this the Vazir retired to his own residence, which he fortified, and the remaining adherents of the Emperor opened the gates and made terms with the Captain-General. The latter then invested himself with the official robes of the Vazirate (5th June, 1754) and convened the Moghul Darbar, from which, with his usual address, he contrived to obtain as a vote of the cabinet what was doubtless the suggestion of his own unprincipled ambition. "This Emperor," said the assembled nobles, "has shown his unfitness for rule. He is unable to cope with the Mahrattas: he is false and fickle towards his friends. Let him be deposed, and a worthier son of Timur raised to the throne." This resolution was immediately acted upon; the unfortunate monarch was blinded and consigned to the State prison of Salim Garh, adjoining the palace; and a son of Jahandar Shah, the competitor of Farokhsiar, proclaimed Emperor under the sounding title of Alamgir II., July, 1754 A.D. The new Emperor (whose title was due to the fact that his predecessor the great Aurangzeb had been the first to bear it) was in the fifty-fourth year of his age. He was a quiet old devotee, whose only pleasures were reading religious books and attending divine service. His predecessor was not further molested, and lived on in his captivity to his death in 1775, from natural causes, at the age of fifty. Ghazi-ud-din was at the same time acknowledged as Vazir in the room of the Khan Khanan. That officer was murdered about five years later, according to Beale (Orl. Bl. Dicty in voc.) So also the Siyar-ul-mutikharin.
One name, afterwards to become very famous, is heard of for the first time during these transactions; and, since the history of the Empire consists now of little more than a series of biographies, the present seems the proper place to consider the outset of his career. Najib Khan was an Afghan soldier of fortune, who had attained the hand of the daughter of Dundi Khan, one of the chieftains of the Rohilkand Pathans. Rewarded by this ruler with the charge of a district, now Bijnaur, in the north-west corner of Rohilkand, he had joined the cause of Safdar Jang, when that minister occupied the country; but on the latter's disgrace had borne a part in the campaigns of Ghazi-ud-din. When the Vazir first conceived the project of attacking the government, he sent Najib in the command of a Moghul detachment to occupy the country, about Saharanpur, then known as the Bawani mahal, which had formed the jagir of the Ex-Vazir Khan Khanan. This territory thus became in its turn separated from the Empire, and continued for two generations in the family of Najib. Though possessing the unscrupulous nature of his class, he was not without the virtues that are found in its best specimens. He was active, painstaking, and faithful to engagements; when he had surmounted his early difficulties he proved a good administrator. He ruled the dwindled Empire for nine years, and died a peaceful death, leaving his charge in an improved and strengthened condition, ready for its lawful monarch. He was highly esteemed by the British in India. (v. inf 89 )
The dominions of Akbar and Aurangzeb had now indeed fallen into a pitiable state. Although the whole of the peninsula still nominally owned the sway of the Moghul, no provinces remained in the occupation of the Government besides part of the upper Doab, and a few districts south of the Satlaj. Gujarat was overrun by the Mahrattas; Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa were occupied by the successor of Aliverdi Khan, Audh and Allahabad by Safdar Jang, the central Doab by the Afghan tribe of Bangash, the province now called Rohilkand by the Rohillas. The Panjab had been virtually abandoned; the rest of India had been recovered by the Hindus, with the exception of such portions of the Deccan as still formed the arena for the family wars of the sons of the old Nizam. Small encroachments continued to be made by the English traders.
Progress of Ghazi ud-din Ahmad Khan enters Dehli Escape of the Prince Ali Gauhar Murder of the Emperor Ahmad the Abdali advances on Dehli End of Ghazi's career.
No sooner was the revolution accomplished than the young kingmaker took effective measures to secure his position. He first seized and imprisoned his relation the Khan Khanan, whose office he had usurped, as above stated. The opportune death of Safdar Jang (17th October, 1754) removed another danger, while the intrepidity and merciless severity with which (assisted by Najib Khan) he quelled a military mutiny provoked by his own arbitrary conduct, served at once as a punishment to the miserable offenders and a warning to all who might be meditating future attacks.
Of such there were not a few, and those too in high places. The imbecile Emperor became the willing centre of a cabal bent upon the destruction of the daring young minister; and, though the precautions of the latter prevented things from going that length, yet the constant plotting that went on served to neutralize all his efforts at administration, and to increase in his mind that sense of misanthropic solitude which is probably the starting-point of the greatest crimes.
As soon as he judged that he could prudently leave the Court, the Minister organized an expedition to the Panjab, where the gallant Mir Mannu had been lately killed by falling from his horse. Such had been the respect excited in men's minds towards this excellent public servant, that the provinces of Lahor and Multan, when ceded to the Afghans in the late reign, had been ultimately left in his charge by the new rulers. Ahmad the Abdali even carried on this policy after the Mir's death, and confirmed the Government in the person of his infant son. The actual administrators during the minority were to be the widow of Mannu and a statesman of great local experience, whose name was Adina Beg. This man was a Hindu by origin, a, self-made man, bold and intelligent.
It was upon this opportunity that the Vazir resolved to strike. Hastily raising, such a force as the poor remnant of the imperial treasury could furnish, he marched on Lahor, taking with him the heir apparent, Mirza Ali Gauhar. Seizing the town by a coup de main, he possessed himself of the Lady Regent and her daughter, and returned to Dehli, asserting that he had extorted a treaty from the Afghan monarch, and appointed Adina Beg sole Commissioner of the provinces.
However this may have been, the Court was not satisfied; and the less so that the success of the Minister only served to render him more violent and cruel than ever. Nor is it to be supposed that Ahmad the Abdali would overlook, for any period longer than his own convenience might require, any unauthorized interference with arrangements made by himself for territory that he might justly regard as his own. Accordingly the Afghan chief soon lent a ready ear to the representations of the Emperor's party, and swiftly presented himself at the head of an army within twenty miles of Dehli. Accompanied by Najib Khan, (who was in secret correspondence with the invader,) the Minister marched out to give battle; and so complete was the isolation into which his conduct had thrown him, that he learned for the first time what was the true state of affairs when he saw the chief part of the army follow Najib into the ranks of the enemy, where they were received as expected guests.
In this strait the Minister's personal qualities saved him. Having in the meantime made Mannu's daughter his wife, he had the address to obtain the intercession of his mother-in-law; and not only obtained the pardon of the invader, but in no long time so completely ingratiated himself with that simple soldier as to be in higher power than even before the invasion.
Ahmad Khan now took upon himself the functions of government, and deputed the Minister to collect tribute in the Doab, while Sardar Jahan Khan, one of his principal lieutenants, proceeded to levy contributions from the Jats, and Ahmad himself undertook the spoliation of the capital.
From the first expedition Ghazi returned with considerable booty. The attack upon the Jats was not so successful; throwing themselves into the numerous strongholds with which their country was dotted, they defied the Afghan armies and cut off their foraging parties in sudden sallies. Agra too made an obstinate defence under a Moghul governor; but the invaders indemnified themselves both in blood and plunder at the expense of the unfortunate inhabitants of the neighbouring city of Mathra, whom they surprised at a religious festival, and massacred without distinction of age or sex.
As for the citizens of Dehli, their sufferings were grievous, even compared with those inflicted twenty years before by the Persians of Nadir Shah, in proportion as the conquerors were less civilized, and the means of satisfying them less plentiful. All conceivable forms of misery prevailed during the two months which followed the entry of the Abdali, 11th September, 1757, exactly one hundred years before the last capture of the same city by the avenging force of the British Government during the Great Mutiny.
Having concluded these operations, the invader retired into cantonments at Anupshahar, on the Ganges, and there proceeded to parcel out the Empire among such of the Indian chiefs as he delighted to honour. He then appointed Najib to the office of Amir-ul-umra, an office which involved the personal charge of the Palace and its inmates; and departed to his own country, from which he had lately received some unsatisfactory intelligence. The Emperor endeavoured to engage his influence to bring about a marriage which he desired to contract with a daughter of the penultimate Emperor, Muhammad Shah: but the Abdali, on his attention being drawn to the young lady, resolved upon espousing her himself. He at the same time married his son Timur Shah to the daughter of the heir apparent, and, having left that son in charge of the Panjab, retired with the bulk of his army to Kandahar.
Relieved for the present from his anxieties, the Minister gave sway to that morbid cruelty which detracted from the general sagacity of his character. He protected himself against his numerous enemies by subsidizing a vast body-guard of Mahratta mercenaries, to pay whom he was led to the most merciless exactions from the immediate subjects of the Empire. He easily expelled Najib (who since his elevation must be distinguished by his honorific name of Najib ud daula, "Hero of the State"): he destroyed or kept in close confinement the nobles who favoured the Emperor, and even sought to lay hands upon the heir apparent, Ali Gohar.
This prince was now in his seven-and-thirtieth year, and exhibited all those generous qualities which we find in the men of his race as long as they are not enervated by the voluptuous repose of the Palace. He had been for some time residing in a kind of open arrest in the house of Ali Mardan Khan, a fortified building on the banks of the river. Here he learned that the Minister contemplated transferring him to the close captivity of Salim Garh, the state prison which stood within the precincts of the Palace. Upon this he consulted with his companions, Rajah Ramnath and a Musalman gentleman, Saiyid Ali, who with four private troopers agreed to join in the hazardous enterprise of forcing their way through the bands which by this time invested the premises. Early the following morning they descended to the courtyard and mounted their horses in silence.
There was no time to spare. Already the bolder of the assailants had climbed upon the neighbouring roofs, from which they began to fire upon the little garrison, while their main forces guarded the gateway. But it so happened that there was a breach in the wall upon the river side, at the rear of the premises. By this the Prince and his friends galloped out, and without a moment's hesitation plunged their horses into the broad Jamna. One alone, Saiyid Ali, stayed behind, and single-handed held the pursuers at bay until the prince had made good his escape. The loyal follower paid for his loyalty with his life. The fugitives found their way to Sikandra, which was the centre of Najib's new fief; and the Prince, after staying some time under the protection of the Amir-ul-Umra, ultimately reached Lucknow, where, after a vain attempt to procure the co-operation of the new Viceroy in an attack upon the British, he was eventually obliged to seek the protection of that alien power.
Ahmad the Abdali being informed of these things by letters from Dehli, prepared a fresh incursion; the rather that Adina Beg, with the help of the Mahrattas had at the same time chased his son, Timur Shah, from Lahor; while with another force they had expelled Najib from his new territory, and forced him to seek safety in his forts in the Bawani Mahal. The new Viceroy of Audh raised the Rohillas and his own immediate followers in the Abdali's name; the Mahrattas were driven out of Rohilkand; and the Afghans, crossing the Jamna in Najib's territory to the north of Dehli, arrived once more at Anupshahar about September, 1759, whence they were enabled to hold uninterrupted communication with Audh.
The ruthless Ghazi was now almost at the end of his resources. He therefore resolved to play his last card, and either win all by the terror of his monstrous crime, or lose all, and retire from the game.
The harmless Emperor, amongst his numerous foibles, cherished the pardonable weakness of a respect for the religious mendicants, who form one of the chronic plagues of Asiatic society. Taking advantage of this, a Kashmirian in the interest of the Minister took occasion to mention to Alamgir that a hermit of peculiar sanctity had recently taken up his abode in the ruined fort of Firozabad, some two miles south of the city, and (in those days) upon the right bank of the Jamna, which river has now receded to a considerable distance. The helpless devotee resolved to consult with this holy man, and repaired to the ruins in his palanquin. Arrived at the door of the room, which was in the N.E. corner of the palace of Firoz Shah, he was relieved of his arms by the Kashmirian, who admitted him, and closed the entrance. A cry for aid being presently heard was gallantly responded to by Mirza Babar, the emperor's son-in-law, who attacked and wounded the sentry, but was overpowered and sent to Salim Garh in the Emperor's litter. The latter meanwhile was seized by a savage Uzbek, named Balabash, who had been stationed within, and who sawed off the defenceless monarch's head with a knife. Then stripping off the rich robe he cast the headless trunk out of the window, where it lay for some hours upon the sands until the Kashmirian ordered its removal. The date of this tragic event is between the 10th and 30th of November, 1759 (the latter being the day given by Dowson, vol. viii. p. 243). The late Minister, Intizam-ud-Daula, had been murdered by order of his successor three days earlier. A grandson of Kam Bakhsh (the unfortunate son of Aurangzeb) was then taken out of the Salim Garh and proclaimed Emperor by the sonorous title of "Shah Jahan II." But he is not recognised on the list of emperors, and his reign such as it was lasted but a moment. Ghazi - (or Shahab) ud-din attempted to reproduce the policy of the Sayyids by governing behind this puppet; but the son of the murdered emperor proclaimed himself in Bihar (v. inf.), and Ahmad the Abdali moved against Ghazi, as we shall see in the next chapter. Discretion was the only part of valour left, and the young and unscrupulous politician fled to Bhartpur, where he found a temporary asylum with Suraj Mal.
As this restless criminal here closes his public life, it may be once for all mentioned that he reluctantly and slowly retired to Farukhabad, where he remained till Shall Alam came there in 1771 (inf. p. 98); that being driven from thence at the Restoration he once more became a wanderer, and spent the next twenty years of his life in disguise and total obscurity; till being accidentally discovered by the British police at Surat, about 1791, he was, by the Governor-General's orders, allowed to depart with a small sum of money to Mecca, the refuge of many a Mohamadan malcontent. Returning thence he visited Kabul, where he joined one of the Dehli princes in an attempted invasion of India. The prince went mad at Multan, and Ghazi, leaving him there, went on to Bandelkhand, where he received a grant of land on which he chiefly passed the remainder of his days. He died in 1800, and was buried at Pakpatan in the Panjab (v. Journal of the As. Soc. of Bengal, No. CCXXVI. 1879, pp. 129, ff.)
The vengeance of the Abdali, therefore, fell upon the unoffending inhabitants of the capital once more they were scourged with fire and sword. Leaving a garrison in the palace, the Abdali then quitted the almost depopulated city, and fell back on his old quarters at Anupshahar, where he entered into negotiations with the Rohillas, and with the Nawab of Audh, of which the result was a general combination of the Musalmans of Hindustan with a view of striking a decisive blow in defence of Islam. But these events will form the subject of a separate chapter.
The Campaign of Panipat.
THE Mahratta confederacy was in 1759 irresistible from the borders of Berar to the banks of the Ganges. On one side they were checked by the Nizam and Haidar, on the other by Shujaa-ud-daula, the young ruler of Audh. Between these limits they were practically paramount. To the westward a third Mohamadan power, the newly-formed Daurani empire, was no doubt a standing menace; but it is very possible that, with Ahmad Shah, as with the other Moslem chiefs, arrangements of a pacific nature might have been made. All turned upon the character and conduct of one man. That man was Sadasheo Rao, the cousin and minister of the Mahratta leader, the Peshwa, into whose hands had fallen the sway of Mahratta power. For their titular head, the descendant of Sivaji the original founder, was a puppet, almost a prisoner, such as we, not many years ago, considered the Mikado of Japan.
The state of the country is thus described by a contemporary historian, quoted by Tod: "The people of Hindustan at this period thought only of personal safety and gratification. Misery was disregarded by those who escaped it; and man, centred solely in self, felt not for his kind. This selfishness, destructive of public, as of private, virtue, became universal in Hindustan after the invasion of Nadir Shah; nor have the people become more virtuous since, and consequently are neither happy nor more independent."
Ahmad Khan (known as "the Abdali"), whom we are now to recognise as Ahmad Shah, the Daurani emperor, returned to Hindustan (as stated in the last chapter) late in the summer, and marched to Dehli, when he heard of the murder of Alamgir II. The execrable Shahabuddin (or Ghazi-ud-din the younger) fled at his approach, taking refuge with the Jats. Mahratta troops, who had occupied some places of strength in the Panjab, were defeated and driven in. The capital was again occupied and plundered, after which the Shah retired to the territory of his ally Najib, and summoned to his standard the chiefs of the Rohillas. On the other hand the Mahrattas, inviting to their aid the leaders of the Rajputs and Jats, moved up from the South. They possessed themselves of the capital in December 1759.
The main force of the Mahrattas that left the Deccan consisted of 20,000 chosen horse, under the immediate command of the minister, Sadasheo, whom for convenience we may in future call by his title of "the Bhao." He also took with him a powerful disciplined corps of 10,000 men, infantry and artillery, under a Mohamadan soldier of fortune, named Ibrahim Khan. This general had learned French discipline as commandant de la qarde to Bussy, and bore the title, or nickname, of "gardi," a souvenir of his professional origin.
The Bhao's progress was joined by Mahratta forces under Holkar, Sindhia, the Gaikwar, Gobind Pant, and others. Many of the Rajput States contributed, and Suraj Mal brought a contingent of 20,000 hardy Jats. Hinduism was uniting for a grand effort; Islam was rallied into cohesion by the necessity of resistance. Each party was earnestly longing for the alliance of the Shias under Shujaa, Viceroy of Audh, whose antecedents led men on both sides to look upon them as neutral.
The Bhao had much prestige. Hitherto always victorious, his personal reputation inspired great respect. His camp, enriched with the plunder of Hindustan, was on a scale of unwonted splendour. "The lofty and spacious tents," says Grant-Duff, "lined with silks and broadcloths, were surmounted by large gilded ornaments, conspicuous at a distance..... Vast numbers of elephants, flags of all descriptions, the finest horses, magnificently caparisoned .... seemed to be collected from every quarter .... it was an imitation of the more becoming and tasteful array of the Moghuls in the zenith of their glory." Nor was this the only innovation. Hitherto the Mahrattas had been light horsemen, each man carrying his food, forage, bedding, head and heel ropes, as part of his accoutrements; marching fifty miles after a defeat, and then halting in complete readiness to "fight another day." Now, for the first time, they were to be supported by a regular park of artillery, and a regular force of drilled infantry. But all these seeming advantages only precipitated and rendered more complete and terrible their ultimate overthrow.
Holkar and Suraj Mal, true to the instincts of their old predatory experience, urged upon the Bhao, that regular warfare was not the game that they knew. They counselled, therefore, that the families and tents, and all heavy equipments, should be left in some strong place of safety, such as the almost impregnable forts of Jhansi and Gwalior, while their clouds of horse harassed the enemy and wasted the country before and round him. But the Bhao rejected these prudent counsels with contempt. He had seen the effect of discipline and guns in Southern war; and, not without a shrewd foresight of what was afterwards to be accomplished by a man then in his train, resolved to try the effect of scientific soldiership, as he understood it. The determination proved his ruin; not because the instrument he chose was not the best, but because it was not complete, and because he did not know how to handle it. When Madhoji Sindhia, after a lapse of twenty years, mastered all Asiatic opposition by the employment of the same instrument, he had a European general, the Count de Boigne, who was one of the great captains of his age; and he allowed him to use his own strategy and tactics. Then, the regular battalions and batteries, becoming the nucleus of the army, were moved with resolution and aggressive purpose, while the cavalry only acted for purposes of escort, reconnoissance, and pursuit. In the fatal campaign before us, we shall find the disciplined troops doing all that could fairly be expected of them under Asiatic leaders, but failing for want of numbers, and of generalship.
On arriving at Dehli, the Bhao surrounded the citadel in which was situated the palace of the emperors. It was tenanted by a weak Musalman force, which had been hastily thrown in under the command of a nephew of Shah Wali Khan, the Daurani Vazir. After a brief bombardment, this garrison capitulated, and the Bhao took possession and plundered the last remaining effects of the emperors, including the silver ceiling of the divan khas, which was thrown into the melting-pot and furnished seventeen lakhs of rupees ( 170,000).
Ahmad, in the meantime, was cantoned at Anupshahr, on the frontier of the Rohilla country, where he was compelled to remain while his negotiations with Shujaa were pending. So came on the summer of 1760, and the rainy season was at hand, during which, in an unbridged country, military operations could not be carried on. All the more needful that the time of enforced leisure should be given to preparation. Najib, the head of the Rohillas, was very urgent with the Shah that Shujaa should be persuaded to take part against the Mahrattas. He pointed out that, such as the Moghul empire might be, Shujaa was its Vazir. As Ahmad Shah had hitherto been foiled by the late Nawab Safdar Jang, it was for his majesty to judge how useful might be the friendship of a potentate whose predecessor's hostility had been so formidable. "But," added the prudent Rohilla, "it must be remembered that the recollection of the past will make the Vazir timorous and suspicious. The negotiation will be as delicate as important. It should not be entrusted to ordinary agency, or to the impersonal channel of epistolary correspondence."
The Shah approved of these reasonings, and it was resolved that Najib himself should visit the Vazir, and lay before him the cause which he so well understood, and in which his own interest was so deep. The envoy proceeded towards Audh, and found the Vazir encamped upon the Ganges at Mahdi Ghat. He lost no time in opening the matter; and, with the good sense that always characterized him, Najib touched at once the potent spring of self. Shia or Sunni, all Moslems were alike the object of Mahratta enmity. He, Najib, knew full well what to expect, should the Hindu league prevail. But would the Vazir fare better? "Though, after all, the will of God will be done, it behoves us not the less to help destiny to be beneficent by our own best endeavours. Think carefully, consult Her Highness, your mother: I am not fond of trouble, and should not have come all this distance to see your Excellency were I not deeply interested." Such, as we learn from an adherent of Shujaa's, was the substance of the advice given him by the Rohilla chieftain.
The nature of these negotiations is not left to conjecture. The narrative of what occurred is supplied by Kasi Raj Pandit, a Hindu writer in the service of the Nawab Vazir, and an eye-witness of the whole campaign. He was present in both camps, having been employed in the negotiations which took place between the Mahrattas and Mohamadans; and his account of the battle (of which a translation appeared in the Asiatic Researches for 1791, reprinted in London in 1799) is at once the most authentic that has come down to our times, and the best description of war ever recorded by a Hindu.
Shujaa-ud-daulah, after anxious deliberation, resolved to adopt the advice of his Rohilla visitor. And, having so resolved, he adhered honestly to his resolution. He sent his family to Lucknow, and accompanied Najib to Anupshahr, where he was warmly received by the Daurani Shah, and his minister Shah Wali Khan.
Shortly after, the united forces of the Moslems moved down to Shahdara, the hunting-ground of the emperors, near Dehli, from which, indeed, it was only separated by the river Jamna. But, the monsoon having set in, the encounter of the hostile armies was for the present impossible. The interval was occupied in negotiation. The Bhao first attempted the virtue of Shujaa, whom he tempted with large offers to desert the Sunni cause. Shujaa amused him with messages in which our Pandit acted as go-between; but all was conducted with the knowledge of Najib, who was fully consulted by the Nawab Vazir throughout. The Shah's minister, also, was aware of the transaction, and apparently disposed to grant terms to the Hindus. Advantage was taken of the opportunity, and of the old alliance between Shujaa and the Jats, to shake the confidence of Suraj Mal, and persuade him to abandon the league, which he very willingly did when his advice was so haughtily rejected. It was the opinion of our Pandit, that a partition of the country might even now have been effected had either party been earnest in desiring peace. He did not evidently know what were the Bhao's real feelings, but probably judged him by the rest of his conduct, which was that of a bold, ambitious statesman. From what he saw in the other camp, he may well have concluded that Najib had some far-seeing scheme on foot, which kept him from sincerely forwarding the proposed treaty. Certainly that astute Rohilla was ultimately the greatest gainer from the anxieties and sufferings of the campaign. But the first act of hostility came from the Bhao, who moved up stream to turn the invader's flank.
About eighty miles north of Dehli, on the meadowlands lying between the Western Jamna Canal and the river (from whose right bank it is about two miles distant), stands the small town of Kunjpura. In the invasion of Nadir Shah, it had been occupied by a force of Persian sharpshooters, who had inflicted much loss on the Moghul army from its cover. Induced, perhaps, by the remembrance of those days, Ahmad had made the mistake of placing in it a garrison of his own people, from which he was now separated by the broad stream of the Jamna, brimming with autumnal floods. Here the Bhao struck his first blow, taking the whole Afghan garrison prisoners after an obstinate defence, and giving up the place to plunder, while the main Afghan army sat idle on the other side.
At length arrived the Dasahra, the anniversary of the attack of Lanka by the demigod Ram, a proverbial and almost sacred day of omen for the commencement of Hindu military expeditions. Ahmad adopted the auspices of his enemy and reviewed his troops the day before the festival. The state of his forces is positively given by the Pandit, as consisting of 28,000 Afghans, powerful men, mounted on hardy Turkoman horses, forty pieces of cannon, besides light guns mounted on camels; with some 28,000 horse, 38,000 foot, and about forty guns, under the Hindustani Musalmans. The Mahrattas had more cavalry, fewer foot, and an artillery of 200 guns; in addition to which they were aided, if aid it could be called in regular warfare, by clouds of predatory horsemen, making up their whole force to over 200,000, mostly, as it turned out, food for the sabre and the gun.
On the 17th of October, 1760, the Afghan host and its allies broke up from Shahdara; and between the 23rd and 25th effected a crossing at Baghpat, a small town about twenty-four miles up the river. The position of the hostile armies was thus reversed; that of the northern invaders being nearer Dehli, with the whole of Hindustan at their backs, while the Southern defenders of their country were in the attitude of men marching down from the north-west with nothing behind them but the dry and war-wasted plains of Sirhind. In the afternoon of the 26th, Ahmad's advanced guard reached Sambalka, about half-way between Sonpat and Panipat, where they encountered the vanguard of the Mahrattas. A sharp conflict ensued, in which the Afghans lost a thousand men, killed and wounded, but drove back the Mahrattas on their main body, which kept on retreating slowly for several days, contesting every inch of the ground until they reached Panipat. Here the camp was finally pitched in and about the town, and the position was at once covered by digging a trench sixty feet wide and twelve deep, with a rampart on which the guns were mounted. The Shah took up ground four miles to the south, protecting his position by abattis of felled timber, according to his usual practice, but pitching in front a small unprotected tent from which to make his own observations.