Imágenes de páginas


[ocr errors]

“ Its streets, well arranged, were It must be confessed that this refreshed with ceaseless streams of sudden disappearance from the page water-its walls, variously ornamented, of history of a community so adresembled the checkered surface of a vanced in wealth and civilisation, is chess-board. It was filled with merchants, dramatists, elephants, horses, would you have? It is surely not

not entirely satisfactory. But what and chariots. The cloud of fragrantincense darkened the sun at noonday ;

the fault of Hindu historians that but the glowing radiance of the re

we English Mlechas have no faith splendent diamonds and jewels that

in Vishnu or his Paradise on Mount adorned the persons of the ladies relieved Sumeru. The latter being, according the gloom! The city was decorated with to their information, 85,000 miles in precious stones, filled with riches, fur. circumference, built of gold, with nished with abundance of provisions, the principal edifices of jewels and adorned with magnificent temples, whose

precious stones, and its spacious towers, · like the gods, dwelt in the

gardens filled with flowers of surheavens, such was their height-palaces passing beauty and fragrance, in the whose lofty summits were in perpetual midst of which Vishnu and his wife conflict with the soft clouds-baths and gardens. It was inhabited by the twin

Lukshmi appear shining like the born, the regenerate, profoundly in

--no better accommodation could structed in the Vedas, adorned with be reasonably expected for a Hindu every good quality, full of sincerity, zeal, population. If Europeans choose to of compassion, and like the venerated be sceptical, they are at liberty to sages."

imagine that the city and people of

Rama fell a prey to intestine diviIn another passage the father of sions, or to some of those devastating Rama is described as inviting other neighbour-wars, which, from the first princes to assist at an A sswamedha- appearance of Brahminism to the the solemn sacrifice of a horse, pecu- present hour, formed the special deliar to high occasions. The per- light and never-wearying occupation sonages enumerated are the Rajahs of its amiable votaries. of Kasi (Benares), Magadha (Behar), A grand field for such operations Sindu,Surashtra (Surat), Unga, which was opened in the Great War which is conjectured to be Ava, and Savira, forms the theme of the Mahabharat, supposed to be a tract on the Persian and the poem is to this day the most frontier, with the princes of the south popular of Hindu writings. "Apart (Deccan)-a tolerably extensive ac- from the Bharat (demands the Bengal quaintance, we submit, andamply suf- proverb), what narrative is there?” ficient to establish the family pedigree and the question is not misplaced, in the most august court of Germany. for, like a “good old Hindu gentle

The venerable metropolis was situ- man," Sanscrit literature utterly ated on the left bank of the Gogra, ignores history, geography, statistics, a river as wide as the Ganges at and physical science generally. It Chunar, where its extensive ruins is deep in metaphysics, fathomless are still to be seen, though vast in philosophy, and unapproachable quantities were taken by the Moham- in theology ; but it prefers theories medans to build the adjacent town of which have no connection with facts Fyzabad. The ruins still bear the or legitimate induction. Its departname of Ramgbur, and the stone ment is the imagination, and there its cradle is shown in which Rama was abundance equals its antiquity. The born - like the bricks that Jack Vedas with their appendages fill Cade's father built into the chimney eleven folio volumes; the Puranas, -to attest his exalted origin. The which are only a selection from their spot is also shown from which the class, extend to more than two hero took his flight into heaven, millions of lines. And how long, carrying with him all the population gentle reader, do you suppose may of the place ! This is the only account the epics be? The Iliad contains vouchsafed us in Hindu story, of the about 24,000 lines ; the Æneid half decay of so celebrated a capital, and as many; but the Ramayana -to the Hindu mind desires nothing more. show that high numbers are not

* Land of the Veda. By Rev. Dr PERCIVAL,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


always fictitious in India-extends to or inferior divinity, being exiled to a 100,000; and the Mahabharat spins sacred forest, sends his love to his the immortal verse to the tune of wife by a cloud which he invokes for 400,000, and, after all, is only a frag- the purpose : ment of the original poem as recited

I view her now ! long weeping swells her in the assembly of the gods !

eyes, The religious hero of this prodi- And those dear lips are dried by parting gious poem is Krishna, another

sighs ; avatar or incarnation of Vishnu, or

Sad on her hand her pallid cheek declines,

And half unseen through veiling tresses rather, it would seem, the only

shines, true incarnation of the divinity.

As when a darkling night the moon enRama and all other avatars seem to

shrouds, rise no higher than a kind of influ- A few faint rays break straggling through

the clouds. ence or inspiration ; Krishna alone is deemed to be the very person of Now at thy sight I mark fresh sorrows

flow, the god in human nature. Krishna,

And sacred sacrifice augments her woe. however, is lugged into the story, as I mark her now, with fancy's aid retrace a divinity ought to be, rather than This wasted figure, and this haggard face. one of the natural actors. The hu- Now from her favourite bird she seeks re

lief, man subject is the Great War between the hundred sons of blind old Mourns o'er the feathered prisoner's kin

And tells the tuneful Sarika her grief ; king Dritavashtra and the five Pan

dred fate, dus. The eld of these, Yudisthira, And fondly questions of its absent mate. the Agamemnon of the poem, is re

In vain the lute for harmony is strung, nowned for refusing in his dying

And round the robe-neglected shoulder

slung, moments to enter Indra's Paradise,

And faltering accents strive to catch in unless his dog might go with him ;

vain, and for quitting the Swarga again Our race's old commemorative strain ; the instant he was admitted, to go

The faltering tear that from reflection and share the fate of his lady-love


Bedews incessantly the silvery strings, and brothers in hell. The gods so Recurring woe still pressing on the heart, applauded his spirit that they set The skilful hand forgets its grateful art, aside the verdict of Yamun, and au- And idly wandering strikes no measured thorised the “king of men to take tone, his friends back with him to Swarga.

But makes a sad wild warbling of its

own.” The king and population of Oude being all this while in Sumeru, can- The truth and tenderness of the Hinnot be expected to figure in the Great du drama offer a pleasing contrast War. In fact, there is little more to be to the stilted, sensual stuff which traced of Ayodhya in the traditions came in with the comparatively ideaof the ensuing ages, when Canouj less Mussulmans. appears to have been the capital city. Still we hear no more of Oude as Vicramaditya (B. C. 57) sheds a ray an independent royalty. The throne upon the darkness by repeopling the of Ramchunder has not yet been recity of Rama, which he embellished stored in a world which has doubtless with 360 temples, and still more by never proved worthy of its revival. reviving its arts and literature. This During the atrocities of the late Sefamous king is called, with his eight poy rebellion, some sanguine enthuliterary friends, the Nine Gems of siasts thought they recognised the Hindustan-one of them, Kalidas, a signs of their demigod, and went diamond of the purest water, has about the streets shouting “Rameven been designated the Hindu chunder is come, and claims his head.Shakespeare. The Swan of Avon, it We do not remember to have read is true, has nothing to fear from the that the hero left that important porcomparison ; still the court of Oude tion of the human frame in Ayodhya knew somewhat of the divine art when he took his numerous tail to when the Celts of Britain were as Paradise : if so, it was never found, yet innocent alike of Latin and of and the revolt, like the immortal, has broadcloth. Take the following, for died without a head. instance, from the Cloud Messenger, Taking a flying leap from Ramchuna simple drama, wherein a Yaksha, der down the steeps of time, we light




upon Ayodhya again in the doomsday of establishing an opposition throne book of Akbar. It is a prodigious de- —not indeed a native, but still a rival scent! from fifteen centuries before, to government—and consequently a foe the same figure after, the Christian to peace and good order, the evils era ! from Moses to Queen Elizabeth! principally dreaded by the true sons from Hindoo beatitude to the revenue of Ramchunder. Baber, however, survey of the Mogul conqueror! Yet, found little difficulty in reducing the looking back through all these thirty Mussulman “king of the east," and centuries, the history of Oude is almost Oude became a Soubah of the Mogul a blank. After the conquest of Ca- empire. The Ayeen Akbarry denouj by the Affghans, at the close of scribes the capital as still one of the the twelfth century, Oude submitted largest cities of Hindustan, and one to the Sultan of Ghiznee, and so be- of the most sacred places of antiquity. came an integral portion of the empire In ancient times, it is added, it meaof Delhi. We may be quite sure that sured about 200 miles in length.* all along the Brahmins schemed, and The province continued under the the Kshatryas fought, and everybody Great Mogul—its priestly and martial -lovers included—cheated, robbed, spirits relieving themselves occasionand killed in the true spirit of Hin- ally, like modern Italians, with an du civil and religious institutions. episodical insurrection or assassinaBut the wasps had it all to them- tion—till that majestic potentate went selves, and we hear nothing of them the common way of Oriental despots, beyond their sanctified and highly- becoming first the puppet, then the favoured nests. It was very likely prisoner, eventually the victim, of in Oude that the battle was fought his feudatories and subjects. Oude which one of the Puranas records, was then in the charge of Sujah-udbetween the two upper castes of the Dowlah, the Vizier of the empire, twice-born_children of Brahma, in who signalised his independence by which the Brahmins so utterly routed invading Bengal, in concert with the Kshatryas as to exterminate the Cossim Ali the deposed Nabob, and caste. Accordingly, all the so-called Shah Allum the titular Emperor, Kshatryas of the present day are whose father had perished by assasdeclared by the Brahmins impure, and sination in Delhi. The triple alliance denied the use of the Veda.

was utterly routed by the British at The Rajpoots may console them- Buxar (1764), and quickly dissolved selves under the privation, by the after Asiatic fashion. The Emperor knowledge that there is probably not hastened to place himself on_the a Brahmin in India who ever did read winning side, proposing that the Engthe Veda, nor, in fact, a complete lish should exterminate the Vizier, Veda to read, till Mr Dax Muller shall and give the Oude provinces to himhave finished the edition he is now self. The victors declining this mopreparing, under the patronage of the dest request, his imperial majesty East India Company. The priests liberally offered Oude to the Comand population of the Djambhu-dwip pany, on the simple condition of will then be furnished on the banks Dur killing the bear, and paying of the Ganges and Gogra with their him for wearing the skin. Evenown scriptures from the pen of a tually the Vizier sued for peace; Mlecha on the banks of the Isis ! In and a treaty was concluded between Europe not a few good Christians the three powers," by which the would have esteemed it no great loss Vizier restored to the Emperor the to humanity, if the said battle of the provinces of Allahabad and Corah, Brahmins and Kshatryas had ended and was confirmed in the governlike the duel between the two cats of ment of the remainder. The restKilkenny.

less Padishah soon after went over In the decline of the Patan empire to the Mahrattas, who promised to Oude was happy in the opportunity put him in possession of Delhi, upon

* The Hindus believe that Lucknow, which is forty miles distant, once formed a suburb of Ayodhya !!



which the English restored the for- Court of Oude ; everybody preyed feited provinces to the Vizier, and on his weaker neighbour, and everyhe was thenceforth regarded as their body suffered all the wrongs which chief native ally.

a stronger than himself could inThe first result of this alliance was flict. to put the Vizier in possession of Sujah was succeeded by Asoph, on Rohilcund—a transaction on which whose death an alleged son was a mine of good eloquence was ex- placed on the musnud, whom Sir hausted in the parliaments of Lead- John Shore dethroned again, as enhall and Westminster. The Ro- spurious, after a reign of some hilla Sirdars were described as months, to elevate the next heir, brave, generous, and free—the Swiss Saadut Ali, brother of our old friend of Asia_the_terror and detestation Sujah.* This measure of interference, of tyrants. The ravages of the war right enough in itself, obviously in(in which our troops were lent to creased the responsibility of the Britthe Vizier) were painted in the live- ish in a government so directly their liest colours of Burke's fervid ora- own creature. By-and-by the pretory; but the whole was of the tender took his revenge by assassinSanscrit order-richer in imagina- ating the English Resident, and then tion than in fact. These “brave" there was more interference. After Rohillas were an Affghan banditti this it was found that when the comwho, the decay of the empire, had bined forces were required on the quartered themselves on the feeble frontier for the preservation of the Hindus between Delhi and Oude. kingdom, the British troops were Their sway was neither better nor detained in the capital to protect the worse than that of other Mohamme- Nawaub from his own mutinous batdan caterans. The Hindu popula- talions. tion, in being transferred to the Lord Wellesley was a man of some Vizier, received a single tyrant in nerve ; but his nerves were sorely place of many petty ones, and neither tried when he found what a pretty lost nor gained by the exchange. pie the British finger was thrust As for the atrocities—torture, and into. He determined to extinguish massacres in cold blood are the or- the military power of Oude altodinary incidents of Asiatic warfare, gether, and to place the civil adminHindu and Mohammedan. Thé istration under the superintendence aborigines suffered them from the and control of the British Resident. Brahmins, and the Brahmins from This was the object of the famous the Mohammedans, and each from treaty of 1801, by the provisions of their co-religionists, as often as vic- which the Nawaub Vizier's army of tory afforded the opportunity. The brigands was replaced by British claims of the Vizier were certainly troops, who undertook the defence better founded in right than those of of his government against all exterthe Sirdars; and no one can dispute nal and internal foes. At the same the policy of strengthening the fron- time, as it was visionary to expect tier of the only native ally on whom payment of a money-tribute for the the English were to depend in the support of the troops, a transfer of approaching struggle with the Mah- territory equal to the charge was rattas.

insisted upon and obtained. By this The Nawaub Vizier's was far arrangement the Southern Doab, enough, however, from being a model with the districts of Allahabad and government. It aimed no higher some others, once more changed than the "traditional policy” of the hands, and passed to the British. In empire. “ The good old rule,” which agreeing to this surrender, the had guided the Mussulman power Nawaub Vizier demanded the unfrom its first entry into India, con- controlled government of his remaintinued the “simple plan” of the ing territories, unchecked by the ad.

A former Saadut Ali had fixed the seat of his provincial government at Fyzabad, built out of the ruins of Ayodhya. It was now transferred to Lucknow, the city of Lahshwana Ramchunder's brother.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

vice or interference of the British. contractors, who then collect them at But, as his Excellency was henceforth their own risk and for their own to rely upon British troops to en- profit. These speculators not only force his orders, it was plainly im- demand the assistance of the troops, possible to place them unreservedly but levy retainers of their own to at his disposal. Lord Wellesley felt enforce their claims on defaulting that something was due to the sub- tax-payers. Oude is divided into ject as well as to the Prince, and that, large revenue districts. Many of the in protecting the one, he was bound Zemindars occupy forts or fortified to see justice done to the other.* residences, having also their large Accordingly, he not only stipulated, body of armed retainers.

In short, in the sixth article of the treaty, that every man carries arms; even the the Vizier, "advising with, and acting ryot walks to the field with sword in conformity to the counsel of, the and shield at his back; and every officers of the Honourable Company, man considers a demand for money, should establish, in his reserved do- whether in the shape of taxes or minions, such a system of adminis- debt, as the most legitimate causa tration (to be carried into effect belli. In such a state the revenue by his own officers) as should be con- can only be collected at the point of ducive to the prosperity of his sub- the bayonet. A strong government jects, and be calculated to secure the is often defied; a weak one univerlives and property of the inhabi- sally so. But before British troops tants;" but in reporting the treaty could be despatched to burn and to the Home authorities, Lord Wel- slay, in order to recover a treasury lesley declared his determination to balance, it was necessary to satisfy exercise the right of interference British justice that the money was thus reserved, to such an extent as really owing, and could not be got shall afford every practical degree of in by milder means. In the end it security for the lives and properties was found impossible to employ our of the Vizier’s remaining subjects, army for revenue purposes at all, and and preclude any disturbance of the the Oude rulers were tacitly perpeace and good order of our domin- mitted to disregard the limit of the ions from the vicinity of his Excel- treaty, and augment their troops till lency's administration.”

they reached as many as 70,000 men. Similar is the theory of all our Thus all the evils of the brigand arrangements with the subsidiary army returned upon the country, states of India. It has but one de- and the military part of Lord Welfect—it is impossible to reduce it to lesley's reforms proved a failure. practice. An Asiatic prince--espe- It fared no better with the scheme cially a Mohammedan ruling a Hin- of civil administration. The native du population, as in Oude-depends sovereign was bound to establish a on his army for the collection of the good system of government, but the revenue and all the ordinary pur- treaty contained no penalty in case poses of government. The practice of failure. He was to advise with, is to farm all the revenues to large and act in conformity to the advice

On the 22d January 1801, Lord Wellesley wrote to the Resident in these terms :-"Had the territories of Oude been subject to the frequent or occasional devastations of an enemy-had they been visited by unfavourable seasons, or by other calamities which impair the public prosperity, the rapid decline of the Vizier's revenues might be imputed to other causes than a defective administration. But no such calamitous visitations have afflicted the province of Oude, while in consequence of the protection which it derives from the presence of the British forces, it has been maintained, together with all the Company's possessions on this side of India, in the uninterrupted enjoyment of peace. À defective administration of the Government is therefore the only cause which can have produced so marked a difference between the state of his Excellency's dominions, and that of the contiguous territories of the Company. While the territories of the Company have been advancing progressively during the last ten years in prosperity, population, and opulence, the dominions of the Vizier, though enjoying equal advantages of tranquillity and security, have rapidly and progressively declined."

« AnteriorContinuar »