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Rambles and recollections of an Indian official!
Major-General Sir W. H. Sleeman, K.C.B.
Reflections on the Preceding History

The contest for the empire of India here described is very like that which preceded it, between the sons of Jahāngīr, in which Shāh Jahān succeeded in destroying all his brothers and nephews; and that which succeeded it, forty years after,[1] in which Mu'azzam, the second of the four sons of Aurangzēb, did the same;[2] and it may, like the rest of Indian history, teach us a few useful lessons.

First, we perceive the advantages of the law of primogeniture, which accustoms people to consider the right of the eldest son as sacred, and the conduct of any man who attempts to violate it as criminal. Among Muhammadans, property, as well real as personal, is divided equally among the sons;[3] and their Korān, which is their only civil and criminal, as well as religions, code, makes no provision for the successions to sovereignty.

The death of every sovereign is, in consequence, followed by a contest between his sons, unless they are overawed by some paramount power; and he who succeeds in this contest finds it necessary, for his own security, to put all his brothers and nephews to death, lest they should be rescued by factions, and made the cause of future civil wars. But sons, who exercise the powers of viceroys and command armies, cannot, where the succession is unsettled, wait patiently for the natural death of their father—delay may be dangerous.

Circumstances, which now seem more favourable to their views than to those of their brothers, may alter; the military aristocracy depend upon the success of the chief they choose in the enterprise, and the army more upon plunder than regular pay; both may desert the cause of the more wary for that of the more daring; each is flattered into an overweening confidence in his own ability and good fortune; and all rush on to seize upon the throne yet filled by their wretched parent, who, in the history of his own crimes, now reads those of his children.

Gibbon has justly observed (chap. 7): 'the superior prerogative of birth, when it has obtained the sanction of time and popular opinion, is the plainest and least invidious of all distinctions among mankind.

The acknowledged right extinguishes the hopes of faction; and the conscious security disarms the cruelty of the monarch. To the firm establishment of this idea we owe the peaceful succession and mild administration of European monarchies. To the defect of it we must attribute the frequent civil wars through which an Asiatic despot is obliged to cut his way to the throne of his fathers.

Yet, even in the East, the sphere of contention is usually limited to the princes of the reigning house; and, as soon as the fortunate competitor has removed his brethren by the sword and the bowstring, he no longer entertains any jealousy of his meaner subjects.'

Among Hindoos, both real and personal property is divided in the same manner equally among the sons;[4] but a principality is, among them, considered as an exception to this rule; and every large estate, within which the proprietor holds criminal jurisdiction, and maintains a military establishment, is considered a principality.

In such cases the law of primogeniture is rigorously enforced; and the death of the prince scarcely ever involves a contest for power and dominion between his sons. The feelings of the people, who are accustomed to consider the right of the eldest son to the succession as religiously sacred, would be greatly shocked at the attempt of any of his brothers to invade it.

The younger brothers, never for a moment supposing they could be supported in such a sacrilegious attempt, feel for their eldest brother a reverence inferior only to that which they feel for their father; and the eldest brother, never supposing such attempts on their part as possible, feels towards them as towards his own children.

All the members of such a family commonly live in the greatest harmony.[5] In the laws, usages, and feelings of the people upon this subject we had the means of preventing that eternal subdivision of landed property, which ever has been, and ever will be, the bane of everything that is great and good in India; but, unhappily, our rulers have never had the wisdom to avail themselves of them.

In a great part of India the property, or the lease of a village held in farm under Government, was considered as a principality, and subject strictly to the same laws of primogeniture—it was a fief, held under Government on condition of either direct service, rendered to the State in war, in education, or charitable or religions duties, or of furnishing the means, in money or in kind, to provide for such service.

In every part of the Sāgar and Nerbudda Territories the law of primogeniture in such leases was in force when we took possession, and has been ever since preserved.[6] The eldest of the sons that remain united with the father, at his death, succeeds to the estate, and to the obligation of maintaining all the widows and orphan children of those of his brothers who remained united to their parent stock up to their death, all his unmarried sisters, and, above all, his mother.

All the younger brothers aid him in the management, and are maintained by him till they wish to separate, when a division of the stock takes place, and is adjusted by the elders of the village. The member, who thus separates from the parent stock, from that time forfeits for ever all claims to support from the possessor of the ancestral estate, either for himself, his widow, or his orphan children.[7]

Next, it is obvious that no existing Government in India could, in case of invasion or civil war, count upon the fidelity of their aristocracy either of land or of office. It is observed by Hume, in treating of the reign of King John in England, that 'men easily change sides in a civil war, especially where the power is founded upon an hereditary and independent authority, and is not derived from the opinion and favour of the people'—that is, upon the people collectively or the nation; for the hereditary and independent authority of the English baron in the time of King John was founded upon the opinion and fidelity of only that portion of the people over which he ruled, in the same manner as that of the Hindoo chiefs of India in the time of Shāh Jahān; but it was without reference either to the honesty of the cause he espoused, or to the opinion and feeling of the nation or empire generally regarding it.

The Hindoo territorial chiefs, like the feudal barons of the Middle Ages in Europe, employed all the revenues of their estates in the maintenance of military followers, upon whose fidelity they could entirely rely, whatever side they might themselves take in a civil war; and the more of these resources that were left at their disposal, the more impatient they became of the restraints which settled governments imposed upon them. Under such settled governments they felt that they had an arm which they could not use; and the stronger that arm, the stronger was their desire to use it in the subjugation of their neighbours.

The reigning emperors tried to secure their fidelity by assigning to them posts of honour about their court that required their personal attendance in all their pomp of pride; and by taking from each a daughter in marriage. If any one rebelled or neglected his duties, he was either crushed by the imperial forces, or put to the ban of the empire', and his territories were assigned to any one who would undertake to conquer them.[8]

Their attendance at our viceroyal court would be a sad encumbrance;[9] and our Governor-General could not well conciliate them by matrimonial alliances, unless we were to alter a good deal in their favour our law against polygamy; nor would it be desirable to 'let slip the dogs of war' once more throughout the land by adopting the plan of putting the refractory chiefs to the ban of the empire. Their troops would be of no use to us in the way they are organized and disciplined, even if we could rely upon their fidelity in time of need; and this I do not think we ever can.[10]

If it be the duty of all such territorial chiefs to contribute to the support of the public establishments of the paramount power by which they are secured in the possession of their estates, and defended from all external danger, as it most assuredly is, it is the duty of that power to take such contribution in money, or the means of maintaining establishments more suited to its purpose than their rude militia can ever be; and thereby to impair the powers of that arm which they are so impatient to wield for their own aggrandizement, and to the prejudice of their neighbours; and to strengthen that of the paramount power by which the whole are kept in peace, harmony, and security.

We give to India what India never had before our rule, and never could have without it, the assurance that there will always be at the head of the Government a sensible ruler trained up to office in the best school in the world; and that the security of the rights, and the enforcement of the duties, presented or defined by law, will not depend upon the will or caprice of individuals in power.

These assurances the people in India now everywhere thoroughly understand and appreciate. They see in the native states around them that the lucky accident of an able governor is too rare ever to be calculated upon; while all that the people have of property, office, or character, depends not only upon their governor, but upon every change that he may make in his ministers.

The government of the Muhammadans was always essentially military, and the aristocracy was always one of military office. There was nothing else upon which an aristocracy could be formed. All high civil offices were combined with the military commands. The emperor was the great proprietor of all the lands, and collected and distributed their rents through his own servants.

Every Musalmān with his Korān in his hand was his own priest and his own lawyer; and the people were nowhere represented in any municipal or legislative assembly—there was no bar, bench, senate, corporation, art, science, or literature by which men could rise to eminence and power. Capital had nowhere been concentrated upon great commercial or manufacturing establishments. There were, in short, no great men but the military servants of Government; and all the servants of Government held their posts at the will and pleasure of their sovereign.[11]

If a man was appointed by the emperor to the command of five thousand, the whole of this five thousand depended entirely on his favour for their employment, and upon their employment for their subsistence, whether paid from the imperial treasury, or by an assignment of land in some distant province.[12]

In our armies there is a regular gradation of rank; and every officer feels that he holds his commission by a tenure as high in origin, as secure in possession, and as independent in its exercise, as that of the general who commands; and the soldiers all know and feel that the places of those officers, who are killed or disabled in action, will be immediately filled by those next in rank, who are equally trained to command, and whose authority none will dispute.

In the Muhammadan armies there was no such gradation of rank. Every man held his office at the will of the chief whom he followed, and he was every moment made to feel that all his hopes of advancement must depend upon his pleasure. The relation between them was that of patron and client; the client felt bound to yield implicit obedience to the commands of his patron, whatever they might be; and the patron, in like manner, felt bound to protect and promote the interests of his client, as long as he continued to do so.

As often as the patron changed sides in a civil war, his clients all blindly followed him; and when he was killed, they instantly dispersed to serve under any other leader whom they might find willing to take their services on the same terms.

The Hindoo chiefs of the military class had hereditary territorial possessions; and the greater part of these possessions were commonly distributed on conditions of military service among their followers, who were all of the same clan. But the highest Muhammadan officers of the empire had not an acre more of land than they required for their dwelling-houses, gardens, and cemeteries.

They had nothing but their office to depend upon, and were always naturally anxious to hold it under the strongest side in any competition for dominion. When the star of the competitor under whom they served seemed to be on the wane, they soon found some plausible excuse to make their peace with his rival, and serve under his banners. Each competitor fought for his own life, and those of his children; the imperial throne could be filled by only one man; and that man dared not leave one single brother alive.

His father had taken good care to dispose of all his own brothers and nephews in the last contest. The subsistence of the highest, as well as that of the lowest, officer in the army depended upon their employment in the public service, and all such employments would be given to those who served the victor in the struggle. Under such circumstances one is rather surprised that the history of civil wars in India exhibits so many instances of fidelity and devotion.

The mass of the people stood aloof in such contests without any feeling of interest, save the dread that their homes might become the seat of the war, or the tracks of armies which were alike destructive to the people in their course whatever side they might follow. The result could have no effect upon their laws and institutions, and little upon their industry and property.

As ships are from necessity formed to weather the storms to which they are constantly liable at sea, so were the Indian village communities framed to weather those of invasion and civil war, to which they were so much accustomed by land; and, in the course of a year or two, no traces were found of ravages that one might have supposed it would have taken ages to recover from.

The lands remained the same, and their fertility was improved by the fallow; every man carried away with him the implements of his trade, and brought them back with him when he returned; and the industry of every village supplied every necessary article that the community required for their food, clothing, furniture, and accommodation. Each of these little communities, when left unmolested, was in itself sufficient to secure the rights and enforce the duties of all the different members; and all they wanted from their government was moderation in the land taxes, and protection from external violence.

Arrian says: 'If any intestine war happens to break forth among the Indians, it is deemed a heinous crime either to seize the husbandmen or spoil their harvest. All the rest wage war against each other, and kill and slay as they think convenient, while they live quietly and peaceably among them, and employ themselves at their rural affairs either in their fields or vineyards.'[13]

I am afraid armies were not much more disposed to forbearance in the days of Alexander than at present, and that his followers must have supposed they remained untouched, merely because they heard of their sudden rise again from their ruins by that spirit of moral and political vitality with which necessity seems to have endowed them.[14]

During the early part of his life and reign, Aurangzēb was employed in conquering and destroying the two independent kingdoms of Golconda and Bījāpur in the Deccan, which he formed into two provinces governed by viceroys. Each had had an army of above a hundred thousand men while independent. The officers and soldiers of these armies had nothing but their courage and their swords to depend upon for their subsistence.

Finding no longer any employment under settled and legitimate authority in defending the life, property, and independence of the people, they were obliged to seek it around the standards of lawless freebooters; and upon the ruins of these independent kingdoms and their disbanded armies rose the Marāthā power, the hydra-headed monster which Aurangzēb thus created by his ambition, and spent the last twenty years of his life in vain attempts to crush.[15]

The monster has been since crushed by being deprived of its Peshwā, the head which alone could infuse into all the members of the confederacy a feeling of nationality, and direct all their efforts, when required, to one common object. Sindhia, the chief of Gwālior, is one of the surviving members of this great confederacy—the rest are the Holkars of Indore, the Bhōnslās of Nāgpur, and the Gaikwārs of Barodā,[16] the grandchildren of the commandants of predatory armies, who formed capital cities out of their standing camps in the countries they invaded and conquered in the name of their head, the Sātārā Rājā,[17] and afterwards in that of his mayor of the palace, the Peshwā.

There is not now the slightest feeling of nationality left among the Marāthā States, either collectively or individually.[18] There is not the slightest feeling of sympathy between the mass of the people and the chief who rules over them, and his public establishments. To maintain these public establishments he everywhere plunders the people, who most heartily detest him and them.

These public establishments are composed of men of all religions and sects, gathered from all quarters of India, and bound together by no common feeling, save the hope of plunder and promotion. Not one in ten is from, or has his family in, the country where he serves, nor is one in ten of the same clan with his chief. Not one of them has any hope of a provision either for himself, when disabled from wounds or old age from serving his chief any longer, or for his family, should he lose his life in his service.

In India[19] there are a great many native chiefs who were enabled, during the disorders which attended the decline and fall of the Muhammadan power and the rise and progress of the Marāthās and English, to raise and maintain armies by the plunder of their neighbours.

The paramount power of the British being now securely established throughout the country, they are prevented from indulging any longer in such sporting propensities; and might employ their vast revenues in securing the blessing of good civil government for the territories in the possession of which they are secured by our military establishment. But these chiefs are not much disposed to convert their swords into ploughshares; they continue to spend their revenues on useless military establishments for purposes of parade and show.

A native prince would, they say, be as insignificant without an army as a native gentleman upon an elephant without a cavalcade, or upon a horse without a tail. But the said army have learnt from their forefathers that they were to look to aggressions upon their neighbours—to pillage, plunder, and conquest, for wealth and promotion; and they continue to prevent their prince from indulging in any disposition to turn his attention to the duties of civil government.

They all live in the hope of some disaster to the paramount power which secures the increasing wealth of the surrounding countries from their grasp; and threatened innovations from the north-west raise their spirits and hopes in proportion as they depress those of the classes engaged in all branches of peaceful industry.

There are, in all parts of India, thousands and tens of thousands who have lived by the sword, or who wish to live by the sword, but cannot find employment suited to their tastes. These would all flock to the standard of the first lawless chief who could offer them a fair prospect of plunder; and to them all wars and rumours of war are delightful.

The moment they hear of a threatened invasion from the north-west, they whet their swords, and look fiercely around upon those from whose breasts they are 'to cut their pound of flesh'.[20]


1. 'Fifty years after' would be more nearly correct. Aurangzēb wa crowned 23rd July, 1658, according to the author. See end of next note.

2. On the death of Aurangzēb, which took place in the Deccan, on the 3rd of March, 1707 (N.S.), his son 'Azam marched at the head of the troops which he commanded in the Deccan, to meet Mu'azzam, who was viceroy in Kabul.

They met and fought near Agra. 'Azam was defeated and killed. The victor marched to meet his other brother, Kām Baksh, whom he killed near Hyderabad in the Deccan, and secured to himself the empire. On his death, which took place in 1713, his four sons contended in the same way for the throne at the head of the armies of their respective viceroyalties.

Mu'izz-ud-dīn, the most crafty, persuaded his two brothers, Rafī-ash-Shān and Jahān Shāh, to unite their forces with his own against their ambitions brother, Azīm-ash-Shān, whom they defeated and killed, Mu'izz-ud- dīn then destroyed his two allies. [W. H. S.]

The above note is not altogether accurate. 'Azam, the third son of Aurangzēb, was killed in battle near Agra, in June 1707. During the interval between Aurangzēb's death and his own, he had struck coins. Mu'azzam, the second, and eldest then surviving son, after the defeat of his rival, ascended the throne under the title of Shāh Ālam Bahādur Shāh, and is generally known as Bahādur Shāh.

He was then sixty-four years of age, his father having been eighty-seven years old when he died. The events following the death of Bahādur Shāh are narrated as follows by Mr. Lane-Poole; 'The Deccan was the weakest point in the empire from the beginning of the reign. Hardly had Bahādur appointed his youngest brother, Kām Baksh ('Wish-fulfiller'), viceroy of Bījāpur and Haidarābād, when that infatuated prince rebelled and committed such atrocities that the Emperor was compelled to attack him. Zū-l-Fikār engaged and defeated the rebel king (who was striking coins in full assumption of sovereignty) near Haidarābād, and Kām Baksh died of his wounds (1708, A.H. 1120).

'In the midst of this confusion, and surrounded by portents of coming disruption, Bahādur died, 1712 (1124). He left four sons, who immediately entered with the zest of their race upon the struggle for the crown. The eldest, 'Azīm-ash-Shān ("Strong of Heart"), first assumed the sceptre, but Zū-l- Fikār, the prime minister, opposed and routed him, and the prince was drowned in his flight.

The successful general next defeated and slew two other brothers, Khujistah Akhtār Jahān-Shāh and Rafī-ash-Shān, and placed the surviving of the four sons of Bahādur [i.e. Mu'izz-ud- dīn] on the throne with the title of Jahāndār ("World-owner").

The new Emperor was an irredeemable poltroon and an abandoned debauchee.' (The History of the Moghul Emperors of Hindustan illustrated by their Coins, Constable, 1892, and in Introd. to B. M. Catal. of Moghul Emperors, same date.)

He was killed in 1713, and was succeeded by Farrukh-sīyar, the son of Azīm-ush-Shān. The chronology is as follows:-

No. Soverign A.H. A.D.

VI. Aurangzēb Ālamgīr, Muhayī-ud- dīn 1068 1658

['Azam Shāh 1118 1707

Kām Baksh 1119-20 1708]

VII Bahādur Shāh-'Ālam, Kutb-ud-dīn 1119 1707

VIII Jahāndār Shāh, Mu'izz-ud-dīn 1124 1713

IX Farrukhsīyar 1124 1713

The question concerning the exact date from which the beginning of Aurangzēb's reign should be reckoned is obscured by the conflict of authorities and has given rise to much discussion. The results may be stated briefly as follow:—

Aurangzēb formally took possession of the throne in a garden outside Delhi on the 1st Zū'l Q'adah, A.H. 1068, July 31, A.D. 1658, but subsequently orders were passed to antedate the beginning of the reign to 1st Ramazān in the same year, equivalent to June 2, 1658. After the destruction of Shāh Shujā, Aurangzēb returned to Delhi in May, A.D. 1659, and was again enthroned with full ceremonial on June 15, 1659 (= A.H. 1069).

Some authors consequently assume the accession to have taken place in 1659. But the reign certainly began in A.D. 1658, and should be reckoned as running from the official date, June 2 of that year. The dates given above are in New Style (N.S.). If recorded in Old Style (O.S.) they would be ten days earlier. (See Irvine and Hoernle in J.A.S.B., Part I, vol. lxii (1893), pp. 256-67; and Irvine, in Ind. Ant., vol. xl (1911), pp. 74, 75.)

3. The author invariably ignores the fact that daughters and other female relatives inherit under Muhammadan law.

4. Hindoo law does not ordinarily recognize any right of succession for daughters, and so differs essentially from the law of Islam. The exceptions to this general rule are unimportant.

5. The experience of most officials does not confirm this statement.

6. The statement now requires modification. After the Central Provinces were constituted in 1861, the principle of succession by primogeniture was maintained only in the Hoshangābād, Chhindwāra, Chāndā, and Chhattīsgarh Districts. But even there the legal effect of the restrictions on alienation and partition is 'not quite free from doubt' (I.G. 1908, x. 73). The tendency of the law courts is to apply everywhere uniform rules taken from the Hindoo law books.

7. 'See ante, Chapter 10, notes 10, 16. The gradual conversion of tenure by leases from Government into proprietary right in land has brought the land under the operation of the ordinary Hindoo law, and each member of a joint family can now enforce partition of the land as well as of the stock upon it. The evils resulting from incessant partition are obvious, but no remedy can be devised. The people insist on partition, and will effect it privately, if the law imposes obstacles to a formal public division.

8. These remarks attribute too much System to the disorderly working of an Asiatic despotism. No institution resembling the formal 'ban of the empire' ever really existed in India.

9. The Rājās at Simla might now be considered by some people as an encumbrance.

10. The author could not foresee the gallant service to be rendered by the Chiefs of the Panjāb and other territories in the Mutiny, nor the institution of the Imperial Service Troops. Those troops, first organized in 1888, in response to the voluntary offers made by many princes as a reply to the Russian aggression on Panjdeh, are select bodies, picked from the soldiery of certain native states, and equipped and drilled in the European manner. Cashmere (Kāshmīr) and many States in the Panjāb and elsewhere furnish troops of this kind, officered by local gentlemen, under the guidance of English inspecting officers.

The Kāshmīr Imperial Service Troops did excellent service during the campaign of 1892 in Hunza and Nagar. the System so happily introduced is likely to be much further developed. In 1907 the authorized strength was a little over 18,000 (I.G., iv (1907), pp. 87, 373).

11. 'In Rome, as in Egypt and India, many of the great works which, in modern nations, form the basis of gradations of rank in society, were executed by Government out of public revenue, or by individuals gratuitously for the benefit of the public; for instance, roads, canals, aqueducts, bridges, &c., from which no one derived an income, though all derived benefit. There was no capital invested, with a view to profit, in machinery, railroads, canals, steam- engines, and other great works which, in the preparation and distribution of man's enjoyments, save the labour of so many millions to the nations of modern Europe and America, and supply the incomes of many of the most useful and most enlightened members of their middle and higher classes of society.

During the republic, and under the first emperors, the laws were simple, and few derived any considerable income from explaining them. Still fewer derived their incomes from expounding the religion of the people till the establishment of Christianity.

Man was the principal machine in which property was invested with a view to profit, and the concentration of capital in hordes of slaves, and the farm of the public revenues of conquered provinces and tributary states, were, with the land, the great basis of the aristocracies of Rome, and the Roman world generally.

The senatorial and equestrian orders were supported chiefly by lending out their slaves as gladiators and artificers, and by farming the revenues, and lending money to the oppressed subjects of the provinces, and to vanquished princes, at an exorbitant interest, to enable them to pay what the state or its public officers demanded.

The slaves throughout the Roman empire were about equal in number to the free population, and they were for the most part concentrated in the hands of the members of the upper and middle classes, who derived their incomes from lending and employing them. They were to those classes in the old world what canals, railroads, steam-engines, &c., are to those of modern days.

Some Roman citizens had as many as five thousand slaves educated to the one occupation of gladiators for the public shows of Rome. Julius Caesar had this number in Italy waiting his return from Gaul; and Gordianus used commonly to give five hundred pair for a public festival, and never less than one hundred and fifty.

In India slavery is happily but little known;[a] the church had no hierarchy either among the Hindoos or Muhammadans; nor had the law any high interpreters. In all its civil branches of marriage, inheritance, succession, and contract, it was to the people of the two religions as simple as the laws of the twelve tables; and contributed just as little to the support of the aristocracy as they did.

In all these respects, China is much the same; the land belongs to the sovereign, and is minutely subdivided among those who farm and cultivate it—the great works in canals, aqueducts, bridges, roads, &c., are made by Government, and yield no private income.

Capital is nowhere concentrated in expensive machinery; their church is without a hierarchy, their law without barristers-their higher classes are therefore composed almost exclusively of the public servants of the Government. The rule which prescribes that princes of the blood shall not be employed in the government of provinces and the command of armies, and that the reigning sovereign shall have the nomination of his successor, has saved China from a frequent return of the scenes which I have described.

None of the princes are put to death, because it is known that all will acquiesce in the nomination when made known, supported as it always is by the popular sentiment throughout the empire. [W. H. S.]

a. the anthor's statement that in the year 1836 slavery was 'but little known in India' is a truly astonishing one. Slavery of various kinds—racial, predial, domestic—the slavery of captives, and of debtors, had existed in India from time immemorial, and still flourished in 1836.

Slavery, so far as the law can abolish it, was abolished by the Indian Act v of 1843, but the final blow was not dealt until January l, 1862, when sections 370, &c., of the Indian Penal Code came into force. In practice, domestic servitude exists to this day in great Muhammadan households, and multitudes of agricultural labourers have a very dim consciousness of personal freedom.

The Criminal Law Commissioners, who reported previous to the passage of Act v of 1843, estimated that in British India, as then constituted, the proportion of the slave to the free population varied from one-sixth to two-fifths. Sir Bartle Frere estimated the slave population of the territories included in British India in the year 1841 as being between eight and nine millions.

Slaves were heritable and transferable property, and could be mortgaged or let out on hire. The article 'Slave' in Balfour, Cyclopaedia (3rd ed.), from which most of the above particulars are taken, is copious, and gives references to various authorities.

The following works may also be consulted: The Law and Custom of Slavery in British India, by William Adam, 8vo, 1840; An Account of Slave Population in the Western Peninsula of India, 1822, with an Appendix on Slavery in Malabar; India's Cries to British Humanity, by J. Peggs, 8vo, 1830; and E.H.I., 3rd ed. (1914), pp. 100, 178, 180, 441.

12. In Akbar's time there were thirty-three grades of official rank, and the officers were known as 'commanders of ten thousand', 'commanders of five thousand', and so on. Only princes of the blood royal were granted the commands of seven thousand and of ten thousand.

The number of troopers actually provided by each officer did not correspond with the number indicated by his title. The graded officials were called mansabdārs, no clear distinction between civil and military duties being drawn (The Emperor Akbar, by Count Von Noer; translated by Annette S. Beveridge, Calcutta, 1890, vol. i, p. 267).

13. Diodorus Siculus has the same observation. 'No enemy ever does any prejudice to the husbandmen; but, out of a due regard to the common good, forbear to injure them in the least degree; and, therefore, the land being never spoiled or wasted, yields its fruit in great abundance, and furnishes the inhabitants with plenty of victual and all other provisions.' Book II, chap. 3. [W. H. S.] These allegations certainly cannot be accepted as accurate statements of fact, however they may be explained. See E.H.I., 3rd ed. (1914), p. 442.

14. The rapid recovery of Indian villages and villagers from the effects of war does not need for its explanation the evocation of 'a spirit of moral and political vitality'. The real explanation is to be found in the simplicity of the village life and needs, as expounded by the author in the preceding passage. Human societies with a low standard of comfort and a simple scheme of life are, like individual organisms of lowly structure and few functions, hard to kill.

Human labour, and a few cattle, with a little grain and some sticks, are the only essential requisites for the foundation or reconstruction of a village.

15. Golconda was taken by Aurangzēb, after a protracted siege, in 1677. Bījāpur surrendered to him on the 15th October, 1686. The vast ruins of this splendid city, which was deserted after the conquest, occupy a space thirty miles in circumference. The town has partially recovered, and is now the head- quarters of a Bombay District, with about 24,000 inhabitants. Sivājī, the founder of the Marāthā power, died in 1680.

16. The Indore and Barodā States still survive, and the reigning chiefs of both have frequently visited England, and paid their respects to their Sovereign. Bhōnslā was the family name of the chiefs of Berār, also known as the Rājās of Nāgpur. The last Rājā, Raghojī III, died in December 1853, leaving no child begotten or adopted. Lord Dalhousie annexed the State as lapsed, and his action was confirmed in 1864 by the Court of Directors and the Crown.

17. The State of Sātārā, like that of Nāgpur, lapsed owing to failure of heirs, and was annexed in 1854. It is now a district in the Bombay Presidency.

18. During the early years of the twentieth century a spirit of Marāthā nationalism has been sedulously cultivated, with inconvenient results.

19. This paragraph, and that next following, are, in the original edition, printed as part of Chapter 48, 'The Great Diamond of Kohinūr', with which they have nothing to do. They seem to belong properly to Chapter 47, and are therefore inserted here. The observations in both paragraphs are merely repetitions of remarks already recorded.

20. It need hardly be said that these fire-eaters no longer exist.

The book




1893 1915




Annual Fairs held on the Banks of Sacred Streams in India


Hindoo System of Religion


Legend of the Nerbudda River


A Suttee on the Nerbudda


Marriages of Trees—The Tank and the Plantain—Meteors—Rainbows


Hindoo Marriages


The Purveyance System


Religious Sects—Self-government of the Castes—Chimneysweepers—Washerwomen —Elephant Drivers


The Great Iconoclast—Troops routed by Hornets—The Rānī of Garhā—Hornets' Nests in India


The Peasantry and the Land Settlement




The Silver Tree, or 'Kalpa Briksha'—The 'Singhāra', or Trapa bispinosa, and the Guinea-Worm


Thugs and Poisoners


Basaltic Cappings of the Sandstone Hills of Central India—Suspension Bridge—Prospects of the Nerbudda Valley—Deification of a Mortal


Legend of the Sāgar Lake—Paralysis from eating the Grain of the Lathyrus sativus


Suttee Tombs—Insalubrity of deserted Fortresses


Basaltic Cappings—Interview with a Native Chief—A Singular Character


Birds' Nests—Sports of Boyhood


Feeding Pilgrims—Marriage of a Stone with a Shrub


The Men-Tigers


Burning of Deorī by a Freebooter—A Suttee


Interview with the Rājā who marries the Stone to the Shrub—Order of the Moon and the Fish


The Rājā of Orchhā—Murder of his many Ministers


Corn Dealers—Scarcities—Famines in India


Epidemic Diseases—Scape-goat


Artificial Lakes in Bundēlkhand-Hindoo, Greek, and Roman Faith




Pestle-and-Mortar Sugar-Mills—Washing away of the Soil


Interview with the Chiefs of Jhānsī—Disputed Succession


Haunted Villages


Interview with the Rājā of Datiyā—Fiscal Errors of Statesmen—Thieves and Robbers by Profession


Sporting at Datiyā—Fidelity of Followers to their Chiefs in India—Law of Primogeniture wanting among Muhammadans




The Suicide-Relations between Parents and Children in India


Gwālior Plain once the Bed of a Lake—Tameness of Peacocks


Gwālior and its Government


Contest for Empire between the Sons of Shah Jahān


Aurangzēb and Murād Defeat their Father's Army near Ujain


Dārā Marches in Person against his Brothers, and is Defeated


Dārā Retreats towards Lahore—Is robbed by the Jāts—Their Character


Shāh Jahān Imprisoned by his Two Sons, Aurangzēb and Murād


Aurangzēb Throws off the Mask, Imprisons his Brother Murād, and Assumes the Government of the Empire


Aurangzēb Meets Shujā in Bengal, and Defeats him, after Pursuing Dārā to the Hyphasis


Aurangzēb Imprisons his Eldest Son—Shujā and all his Family are Destroyed


Second Defeat and Death of Dārā, and Imprisonment of his Two Sons


Death and Character of Amīr Jumla


Reflections on the Preceding History


The Great Diamond of Kohinūr


Pindhārī System—Character of the Marāthā Administration—Cause of their Dislike to the Paramount Power


Dhōlpur, Capital of the Jāt Chiefs of Gohad—Consequence of Obstacles to the Prosecution of Robbers


Influence of Electricity on Vegetation—Agra and its Buildings


Nūr Jahān, the Aunt of the Empress Nūr Mahal, over whose Remains the Tāj is built


Father Gregory's Notion of the Impediments to Conversion in India—Inability of Europeans to speak Eastern Languages


Fathpur-Sīkrī—The Emperor Akbar's Pilgrimage—Birth of Jahāngīr


Bharatpur—Dīg—Want of Employment for the Military and the Educated Classes under the Company's Rule


Govardhan, the Scene of Kriahna's Dalliance with the Milkmaids




Declining Fertility of the Soil—Popular Notion of the Cause


Concentration of Capital and its Effects


Transit Duties in India—Mode of Collecting them


Peasantry of India attached to no existing Government—Want of Trees in Upper India—Cause and Consequence—Wells and Groves


Public Spirit of the Hindoos—Tree Cultivation and Suggestions for extending it


Cities and Towns, formed by Public Establishments, disappear as Sovereigns and Governors change their Abodes


Murder of Mr. Fraser, and Execution of the Nawāb Shams-ud- dīn


Marriage of a Jāt Chief


Collegiate Endowment of Muhammadan Tombs and Mosques


The Old City of Delhi


New Delhi, or Shāhjahānābād


Indian Police—Its Defects—and their Cause and Remedy


Rent-free Tenures—Right of Government to Resume such Grants


The Station of Meerut—'Atālīs' who Dance and Sing gratuitously for the Benefit of the Poor


Subdivisions of Lands—Want of Gradations of Rank—Taxes


Meerut-Anglo-Indian Society


Pilgrims of India


The Bēgam Sumroo



Abolition of Corporal Punishment—Increase of Pay with Length of Service—Promotion by Seniority


Invalid Establishment


Thuggee and the part taken in its Suppression by General Sir W. H. Sleeman, K.C.B., by Captain J. L. Sleeman

Supplementary Note by the Editor

Additions and Corrections

Maps Showing Author's Route


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