Page images

hearted wastefulness of life, which remind us that we are beyond the pale of European gallantry and Christian compassion. In his wars in Afghân and India, the prisoners are commonly butchered in cold blood after the action-and pretty uniformly a triumphal pyramid is erected of their skulls. These horrible executions, too, are performed with much solemnity before the royal pavilion; and on one occasion, it is incidentally recorded, that such was the number of prisoners brought forward for this infamous butchery, that the sovereign's tent had three times to be removed to a different station-the ground before it being so drenched with blood and encumbered with quivering carcases! On one occasion, and on one only, an attempt was made to poison him-the mother of one of the sovereigns whom he had dethroned having bribed his cooks and tasters to mix death in his repast. Upon the detection of the plot, the taster was cut in pieces, the cook flayed alive, and the scullions trampled to death by elephants. Such, however, was the respect paid to rank, or the indulgence to maternal resentment, that the prime mover of the whole conspiracy, the queen dowager, is merely put under restraint, and has a contribution levied on her private fortune. The following brief anecdote speaks volumes as to the difference of European and Asiatic manners and tempers:

"Another of his wives was Katak Begum, who was the fostersister of this same Terkhân Begum. Sultan Ahmed Mirza married her for love. He was prodigiously attached to her, and she governed him with absolute sway. She drank wine. During her life, the Sultan durst not venture to frequent any other of his ladies. At last, however, he put her to death, and delivered himself from his reproach."

In several of the passages we have cited, there are indications of this ambitious warrior's ardent love for fine flowers, beautiful gardens, and bright waters. But the work abounds with traits of this amiable and apparently ill-sorted propensity. In one place he says

"In the warm season they are covered with the chekin-taleh grass in a very beautiful manner, and the Aimâks and Tûrks resort to them. In the skirts of these mountains the ground is richly diversified by various kinds of tulips. I once directed them to be counted, and they brought in thirty-two or thirty-three different sorts of tulips. There is one species which has a scent in some degree like the rose, and which I termed laleh-gul-bûi (the rose-scented tulip). This species is found only in the Desht-e-Sheikh (the Sheikh's plain), in a small spot of ground, and nowhere else. In the skirts of the same hills, below Perwan, is produced the laleh-sed-berg (or hundred-leaved tulip), which is likewise found only in one narrow spot of ground, as we emerge from the straits of Ghûrbend."

And a little after"Few quarters possess a district that can rival Istâlif. A large river runs through it, and on either side of it are gardens, green, gay, and beautiful. Its water is so cold, that there is no need of icing it; and it is particularly pure. In this district is a garden, called Baghe-Kilan (or the Great Garden), which Ulugh Beg Mirza seized upon. I paid the price of the garden to the proprietors, and received from them a grant of it. On the outside of the garden are large and beautiful spreading plane trees, under the shade of which there are agreeable spots finely sheltered. A perennial stream, large enough to turn a mill, runs through the garden; and on its banks are planted planes and other trees. Formerly this stream flowed in a winding and crooked course, but I ordered its course to be altered according to a regular plan, which added greatly to the beauty of the place. Lower down than these villages, and about a koss or a koss and a half above the level plain, on the lower skirts of the hills, is a fountain, named Khwajeh-seh-yârân (Kwâjeh three friends), around which there are three species of trees; above the fountain are many beautiful planetrees, which yield a pleasant shade. On the two sides of the fountain, on small eminences at the bottom of the hills, there are a number of oak-trees; except on these two spots where there are groves of oak, there is not an oak to be met with on the hills to the west of Kabul. In front of this fountain, towards the plain, there are many spots covered with the flowery Arghwân* tree, and besides these Arghwân plots, there are none else in the whole country."

We shall add but one other notice of this elegant tastethough on the occasion there mentioned, the flowers were aided by a less delicate sort of excitement.

"This day I eat a maajûn. While under its influence, I visited some beautiful gardens. In different beds, the ground was covered with purple and yellow Arghwân flowers. On one hand were beds of yellow flowers, in bloom; on the other hand, red flowers were in blossom. In many places they sprung up in the same bed, mingled together as if they had been flung and scattered abroad. I took my seat on a rising ground near the camp, to enjoy the view of all the flower-plots. On the six sides of this eminence they were formed as into regular beds. On one side were yellow flowers; on another the purple, laid out in triangular beds. On two other sides, there were fewer flowers; but, as far as the eye could reach, there were flowergardens of a similar kind. In the neighbourhood of Pershâwer, during the spring, the flower-plots are exquisitely beautiful."

We have now enabled our readers, we think, to judge pretty fairly of the nature of this very curious volume; and shall only present them with a few passages from two letters written

* "The name Arghwân is generally applied to the anemone; but in Afghanistan it is given to a beautiful flowering shrub, which grows nearly to the size of a tree."

by the valiant author in the last year of his life. The first is addressed to his favourite son and successor Hûmâiûn, whom he had settled in the government of Samarcand, and who was at this time a sovereign of approved valour and prudence. There is a very diverting mixture of sound political counsel and minute criticism on writing and composition, in this paternal effusion. We can give but a small part of it.

"In many of your letters you complain of separation from your friends. It is wrong for a prince to indulge in such a complaint. "There is no greater bondage than that in which a king is placed; but it ill becomes him to complain of inevitable separation.

"In compliance with my wishes, you have indeed written me letters, but you certainly never read them over; for had you attempted to read them, you must have found it absolutely impossible, and would then undoubtedly have put them by. I contrived indeed to decipher and comprehend the meaning of your last letter, but with much difficulty. It is excessively confused and crabbed. Who ever saw a Moâmma (a riddle or a charade) in prose? Your spelling is not bad, yet not quite correct. You have written illafat with a toe (instead of a te), and kuling with a be (instead of a kaf). Your letter may indeed be read; but in consequence of the far-fetched words you have employed, the meaning is by no means very intelligible. You certainly do not excel in letter-writing, and fail chiefly because you have too great a desire to show your acquirements. For the future, you should write unaffectedly, with clearness, using plain words, which would cost less trouble both to the writer and reader."

The other letter is to one of his old companions in arms;and considering that it is written by an ardent and ambitious conqueror, from the capital of his new empire of Hindustan, it seems to us a very striking proof, not only of the nothingness of high fortune, but of the native simplicity and amiableness of this Eastern highlander.

"My solicitude to visit my western dominions is boundless, and great beyond expression. The affairs of Hindustan have at length, however, been reduced into a certain degree of order; and I trust in Almighty God that the time is near at hand, when, through the grace of the Most High, everything will be completely settled in this country. As soon as matters are brought into that state, I shall, God willing, set out for your quarter, without losing a moment's time. How is it possible that the delights of those lands should ever be erased from the heart? Above all, how is it possible for one like me, who have made a vow of abstinence from wine, and of purity of life, to forget the delicious melons and grapes of that pleasant region? They very recently brought me a single musk-melon. While cutting it up, I felt myself affected with a strong feeling of loneliness, and a sense of my exile from my native country; and I could not help shedding tears while I was eating it!"

On the whole, we cannot help having a liking for "the Tiger"-and the romantic, though somewhat apocryphal account

that is given of his death, has no tendency to diminish our partiality. It is recorded by Abulfazi and other native historians, that in the year after these Memoirs cease, Hûmâiûn, the beloved son of Baber, was brought to Agra in a state of the most miserable health:

"When all hopes from medicine were over, and while several men of skill were talking to the emperor of the melancholy situation of his son, Abul Baka, a personage highly venerated for his knowledge and piety, remarked to Baber, that in such a case the Almighty had sometimes vouchsafed to receive the most valuable thing possessed by one friend, as an offering in exchange for the life of another. Baber, exclaiming that, of all things, his life was dearest to Hûmâiûn, as Hûmâiûn's was to him, and that, next to the life of Hûmâiûn, his own was what he most valued, devoted his life to Heaven as a sacrifice for his son's! The noblemen around him entreated him to retract the rash vow, and, in place of his first offering, to give the diamond taken at Agra, and reckoned the most valuable on earth: that the ancient sages had said, that it was the dearest of our worldly possessions alone that was to be offered to Heaven. But he persisted in his resolution, declaring that no stone, of whatever value, could be put in competition with his life. He three times walked round the dying prince, a solemnity similar to that used in sacrifices and heave-offerings, and retiring, prayed earnestly to God. After some time he was heard to exclaim, I have borne it away! I have borne it away!' The Musulman historians assure us, that Hûmâiûn almost immediately began to recover, and that, in proportion as he recovered, the health and strength of Baber visibly decayed. Baber communicated his dying instructions to Khwâjeh Khalifeh, Kamber Ali Beg, Terdi Beg, and Hindu Beg, who were then at Court, commending Hûmâiûn to their protection. With that unvarying affection for his family, which he showed in all the circumstances of his life, he strongly besought Hûmâiûn to be kind and forgiving to his brothers. Humâiûn promised, and, what in such circumstances is rare, kept his promise."

ART. III. Memorie Venete di GIOVANNI GALLICIOLI, prete, per la nuova Collegione di documenti per servire alla Storia Veneziana. Venezia, 1826.


s the new collection of materials for the history of Venice, which is here announced, has not yet been completely published, we know not how much of Gallicioli's work it will comprise. We happen to have in our possession, however, a complete copy of that elaborate work; and are strongly tempted to introduce it to the knowledge of our readers, as it is, we believe,

in very few hands, and we do not think it probable that they will meet with any account of it elsewhere. So little indeed is it known, that even M. Daru, whose laborious researches, perhaps, no other documents have escaped, neither refers to it in the body of his work, nor names it in the list of the books he consulted. The author was long Greek professor in Venice; and published his voluminous work on the antiquities of that city in 1795-6; soon after which he died at an advanced age.

His researches are neither directed by a spirit of philosophy, nor pursued with a view to support any political system or party. Neither the character of his mind, indeed, nor his habits or taste in composition, seem to have fitted him for any higher task than that of investigating and compiling the most minute, and apparently the most insignificant matters of fact. In the discharge of this task, however, he is indefatigable and exact. He takes care to inform us, for instance, how many hundred candles were burnt round the coffin of a citizen in the year 958; what description of stuffs the daughter of another brought her husband as a dower in the year 867, and what was the nature and course of the nuptial festivities; what was the ordinary diet of the people; what variety of the Venetian dialect was at that time current among them, and what again was the style afterwards adopted by Marco Polo and those merchants who gratified the curiosity, and awakened the wonder of their fellow citizens, by the relation of their adventures in Arabia and Persia. He quotes and expounds the remains of monumental inscriptions still existing in the churches of Venice, and transcribes marriage-articles registered by ancient notaries, and fragments of the account-books and ledgers of the earliest merchants of Venice. His great merit, however, is, that he was not deterred by the profound obscurity which covered the history of Venice for nearly ten centuries; but plunged without fear, and laboured without disgust, in an abyss in which he had no professed guide, and but few accidental assistants.

The earliest of her annalists is not older than the end of the thirteenth, or beginning of the fourteenth centuries: But the minute facts, of an anterior date, which Gallicioli has rescued from oblivion, are like lamps, which, though dim and feeble, yet enable us, by their number and arrangement, to find our way through the thick darkness which surrounds us. Thus, the magnificent obsequies of a private citizen afford some indication of the general wealth of the republic: The marriage ceremonies and festivities illustrate the domestic and national manners; while the account-books throw a still stronger and

« PreviousContinue »