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Rambles and recollections of an Indian official!
Major-General Sir W. H. Sleeman, K.C.B.
Murder of Mr. Fraser, and Execution of the Nawāb Shams-ud-dīn

At Palwal Mr. Wilmot and Mr. Wright, who had come on business, and Mr. Gubbins, breakfasted and dined with us. They complained sadly of the solitude to which they were condemned, but admitted that they should not be able to get through half so much business were they placed at a large station, and exposed to all the temptations and distractions of a gay and extensive circle, nor feel the same interest in their duties, or sympathy with the people, as they do when thrown among them in this manner.

To give young men good feelings towards the natives, the only good way is to throw them among them at those out-stations in the early part of their career, when all their feelings are fresh about them. This holds good as well with the military as the civil officer, but more especially with the latter.

A young officer at an outpost with his corps, or part of it, for the first season or two, commonly lays in a store of good feeling towards his men that lasts him for life; and a young gentleman of the Civil Service lays in, in the same manner, a good store of sympathy and fellow feeling with the natives in general.[1]

Mr. Gubbins is the Magistrate and Collector of one of the three districts into which the Delhi territories are divided, and he has charge of Fīrōzpur, the resumed estate of the late Nawāb Shams-ud-dīn, which yields a net revenue of about two hundred thousand rupees a year.[2]

I have already stated that this Nawāb took good care that his Mewātī plunderers should not rob within his own estate; but he not only gave them free permission to rob over the surrounding districts of our territory, but encouraged them to do so, that he might share in their booty.[3]

He was a handsome young man, and an extremely agreeable companion; but a most unprincipled and licentious character. No man who was reputed to have a handsome wife or daughter was for a moment safe within his territories. The following account of Mr. William Fraser's assassination by this Nawāb may, I think, be relied upon.[4]

The Fīrōzpur Jāgīr was one of the principalities created under the principle of Lord Cornwallis's second administration, which was to make the security of the British dominions dependent upon the divisions among the independent native chiefs upon their frontiers. The person receiving the grant or confirmation of such principality from the British Government 'pledged himself to relinquish all claims to aid, and to maintain the peace in his own possessions.'[5]

Fīrōzpur was conferred by Lord Lake, in 1805, upon Ahmad Baksh, for his diplomatic services, out of the territories acquired by us west of the Jumna during the Marāthā wars. He had been the agent on the part of the Hindoo chiefs of Alwar in attendance upon Lord Lake during the whole of that war. He was a great favourite, and his lordship's personal regard for him was thought by those chiefs to have been so favourable to their cause that they conferred upon him the 'pargana' of Lohārū in hereditary rent-free tenure.

In 1822, Ahmad Baksh declared Shams-ud-dīn, his eldest son, his heir, with the sanction of the British Government and the Rājās of Alwar. In February, 1825, Shams-ud-dīn, at the request of his father, by a formal deed assigned over the pargana of Lohārū as a provision for his younger brothers by another mother, Amīn-ud-dīn and Ziā- ud-dīn;[6] and in October 1826 he was finally invested by his father with the management; and the circumstance was notified to the British Government, through the Resident at Delhi, Sir Charles Metcalfe. Ahmad Baksh died in October, 1827.

Disputes soon after arose between the brothers, and they expressed a desire to submit their claims to the arbitration of Sir Edward Colebrooke,[7] who had succeeded Sir Charles Metcalfe in the Residency of Delhi.[8] He referred the matter to the Supreme Government; and by their instructions, under date 11th of April, 1828, he was authorized to adjust the matter.

He decided that Shams-ud-dīn should make a complete and unencumbered cession to his younger brothers of the pargana of Lohārū, without the reservation of any right of interference in the management, or of any condition of obedience to himself whatever; and that Amīn-ud-dīn should, till his younger brother came of age, pay into the Delhi treasury for him the annual sum of five thousand two hundred and ten rupees, as his half share of the net proceeds, to be there held in deposit for him; and that the estate should, from the time he came of age, be divided between them in equal shares. This award was confirmed by Government; but Sir Edward was recommended to alter it for an annual money payment to the two younger brothers, if he could do so with the consent of the parties.

The pargana was transferred, as the money payment could not be agreed upon; and in September Mr. Martin, who had succeeded Sir E. Colebrooke, proposed to Government that the pargana of Lohārū should be restored to Shams-ud-dīn in lieu of a fixed sum of twenty-six thousand rupees a year to be paid by him annually to his two younger brothers. This proposal was made on the ground that Amīn-ud-dīn could not collect the revenues from the refractory landholders (instigated, no doubt, by the emissaries of Shams-ud-dīn), and consequently could not pay his younger brother's revenue into the treasury.

In calculating the annual net revenue of 10,420 rupees, 15,000 of the gross revenue had been estimated as the annual expenses of the mutual [sic] establishments of the two brothers. To the arrangement proposed by Mr. Martin the younger brothers strongly objected; and proposed in preference to make over the pargana to the British Government, on condition of receiving the net revenue, whatever might be the amount. Mr. Martin was desired by the Governor-General to effect this arrangement, should Amīn-ud-dīn appear still to wish it; but he preferred retaining the management of it in his own hands, in the hope that circumstances would improve.

Shams-ud-dīn, however, pressed his claim to the restoration of the pargana so often that it was at last, in September, 1833, insisted upon by Government, on the ground that Amīn-ud-dīn had failed to fulfil that article of the agreement which bound him to pay annually into the Delhi treasury 5,210 rupees for his younger brother, though that brother had never complained; on the contrary, lived with him on the best possible terms, and was as averse as himself to the retransfer of the pargana, on condition that they gave up their claims to a large share of the movable property of their late father, which had been already decided in their favour in the court of first instance.

Mr. W. Fraser, who had succeeded to the office of Governor-General's representative in the Delhi Territories, remonstrated strongly against this measure; and wished to bring it again under the consideration of Government; on the grounds that Ziā-ud-dīn had never made any complaint against his brother Amīn-ud-dīn for want of punctuality in the payment of his share of the net revenue after the payment of their mutual establishments; that the two brothers would be deprived by this measure of an hereditary estate to the value of sixty thousand rupees a year in perpetuity, burthened with the condition that they relinquished a suit already gained in the court of first instance, and likely to be gained in appeal, involving a sum that would of itself yield them that annual sum at the moderate interest of 6 per cent.

The grounds alleged by him were not considered valid, and the pargana was made over to Shams-ud-dīn. The pargana now yields 40,000 rupees a year, and under good management may yield 70,000.

At Mr. Fraser's recommendation, Amīn-ud-dīn went himself to Calcutta, and is said to have prevailed upon the Government to take his case again into their consideration. Shams-ud-dīn had become a debauched and licentious character; and having criminal jurisdiction within his own estate, no one's wife or daughter was considered safe; for, when other means failed him, he did not scruple to employ assassins to effect his hated purposes, by removing the husband or father.[9]

Mr. Fraser became so disgusted with his conduct that he would not admit him into his house when he came to Delhi, though he had, it may be said, brought him up as a child of his own; indeed he had been as fond of him as he could be of a child of his own; and the boy used to spend the greater part of his time with him.

One day after Mr. Fraser had refused to admit the Nawāb to his house. Colonel Skinner, having some apprehensions that by such slights he might be driven to seek revenge by assassination, is said to have remonstrated with Mr. Fraser as his oldest and most valued friend.[10]

Mr. Fraser told him that he considered the Nawāb to be still but a boy, and the only way to improve him was to treat him as such. It was, however, more by these slights than by any supposed injuries that Shams-ud-dīn was exasperated; and from that day he determined to have Mr. Fraser assassinated.[11]

Having prevailed upon a man, Karīm Khān, who was at once his servant and boon companion, he sent him to Delhi with one of his carriages, which he was to have sold through Mr. McPherson, a European merchant of the city. He was ordered to stay there ostensibly for the purpose of learning the process of extracting copper from the fossil containing the ore, and purchasing dogs for the Nawāb.

He was to watch his opportunity and shoot Mr. Fraser whenever he might find him out at night, attended by only one or two orderlies; to be in no haste, but to wait till he found a favourable opportunity, though it should be for several months. He had with him a groom named Rūplā, and a Mewātī attendant named Aniā, and they lodged in apartments of the Nawāb's at Daryāoganj.

He rode out morning and evening, attended by Aniā on foot, for three months, during which he often met Mr. Fraser, but never under circumstances favourable to his purpose; and at last, in despair, returned to Fīrōzpur.

Aniā, had importuned him for leave to go home to see his children, who had been ill, and Karīm Khān did not like to remain without him. The Nawāb was displeased with him for returning without leave, and ordered him to return to his post, and effect the object of his mission. Aniā declined to return, and the Nawāb recommended Karīm to take somebody else, but he had, he said, explained all his designs to this man, and it would be dangerous to entrust the secret to another; and he could, moreover, rely entirely upon the courage of Aniā on any trying occasion.

Twenty rupees were due to the treasury by Aniā on account of the rent of the little tenement he held under the Nawāb; and the treasurer consented, at the request of Karīm Khān, to receive this by small instalments, to be deducted out of the monthly wages he was to receive from him. He was, moreover, assured that he should have nothing to do but to cook and eat; and should share liberally with Karīm in the one hundred rupees he was taking with him in money, and the letter of credit upon the Nawāb's bankers at Delhi for one thousand rupees more.

The Nawāb himself came with them as far as the village of Nagīna, where he used to hunt; and there Karīm requested permission to change his groom, as he thought Rūplā too shrewd a man for such a purpose. He wanted, he said, a stupid, sleepy man, who would neither ask nor understand anything; but the Nawāb told him that Rūplā was an old and quiet servant, upon whose fidelity he could entirely rely; and Karīm consented to take him.

Aniā's little tenement, upon which his wife and children resided, was only two miles distant, and he went to give instructions about gathering in the harvest, and to take leave of them. He told his wife that he was going to the capital on a difficult and dangerous duty, but that his companion Karīm would do it all, no doubt. Aniā asked Karīm before they left Nagīna what was to be his reward; and he told him that the Nawāb had promised them five villages in rent-free tenure.

Aniā wished to learn from the Nawāb himself what he might expect; and being taken to him by Karīm, was assured that he and his family should be provided for handsomely for the rest of their lives, if he did his duty well on this occasion.

On reaching Delhi they took up their quarters near Colonel Skinner's house, in the Bulvemar's Ward,[12] where they resided for two months. The Nawāb had told Karīm to get a gun made for his purpose at Delhi, or purchase one, stating that his guns had all been purchased through Colonel Skinner, and would lead to suspicion if seen in his possession.

On reaching Delhi, Karīm purchased an old gun, and desired Aniā to go to a certain man in the Chāndnī Chauk, and get it made in the form of a short blunderbuss, with a peculiar stock, that would admit of its being concealed under a cloak; and to say that he was going to Gwālior to seek service, if any one questioned him. The barrel was cut, and the instrument made exactly as Karīm wished it to be by the man whom he pointed out.

They met Mr. Fraser every day, but never at night; and Karīm expressed regret that the Nawāb should have so strictly enjoined him not to shoot him in the daytime, which he thought he might do without much risk. Aniā got an attack of fever, and urged Karīm to give up the attempt and return home, or at least permit him to do so. Karīm himself became weary, and said he would do so very soon if he could not succeed; but that he should certainly shoot some European gentleman before he set out, and tell his master that he had taken him for Mr. Fraser—to save appearances. Aniā told him that this was a question between him and his master, and no concern of his.

At the expiration of two months, a peon came to learn what they were doing. Karīm wrote a letter by him to the Nawāb, saying that 'the dog he wished was never to be seen without ten or twelve people about him; and that he saw no chance whatever of finding him, except in the midst of them; but that if he wished, he would purchase this dog in the midst of the crowd'.

The Nawāb wrote a reply, which was sent by a trooper, with orders that it should be opened in presence of no one but Aniā. The contents were: 'I command you not to purchase the dog in presence of many persons, as its price will be greatly raised. You may purchase him before one person, or even two, but not before more; I am in no hurry, the longer the time you take the better; but do not return without purchasing the dog.'[13]

That is, without killing Mr. Fraser.

They went on every day to watch Mr. Fraser's movements. Leaving the horse with the groom, sometimes in one old ruin of the city, and sometimes in another, ready saddled for flight, with orders that he should not be exposed to the view of passers-by, Karīm and Aniā used to pace the streets, and on several occasions fell in with him, but always found him attended by too many followers of one kind or another for their purpose.

At last, on Sunday, the 13th of March, 1835, Karīm heard that Mr. Fraser was to attend a 'nāch' (dance), given by Hindoo Rāo, the brother of the Baiza Bāi,[14] who then resided at Delhi; and determining to try whether he could not shoot him from horseback, he sent away his groom as soon as he had ascertained that Mr. Fraser was actually at the dance.

Aniā went in and mixed among the assembly; and as soon as he saw Mr. Fraser rise to depart, he gave intimation to Karīm, who ordered him to keep behind, and make off as fast as he could, as soon as he should hear the report of his gun.

A little way from Hindoo Rao's house the road branches off; that to the left is straight, while that to the right is circuitous. Mr. Fraser was known always to take the straight road, and upon that Karīm posted himself, as the road up to the place where it branched off was too public for his purpose.

As it happened, Mr. Fraser, for the first time, took the circuitous road to the right, and reached his home without meeting Karīm. Aniā placed himself at the cross way, and waited there till Karīm came up to him. On hearing that he had taken the right road, Karīm said that 'a man in Mr. Fraser's situation must be a strange ('kāfir') unbeliever not to have such a thing as a torch with him in a dark night. Had he had what he ought', he said, 'I should not have lost him this time'.

They passed him on the road somewhere or other almost every afternoon after this for seven days, but could never fall in with him after dark. On the eighth day, Sunday, the 22nd of March, Karīm went, as usual, in the forenoon to the great mosque to say his prayers; and on his way back in the afternoon he purchased some plums which he was eating when he came up to Aniā, whom he found cooking his dinner.

He ordered his horse to be saddled immediately, and told Aniā to make haste and eat his dinner, as he had seen Mr. Fraser at a party given by the Rājā of Kishangarh.

'When his time is come,' said Karīm, 'we shall no doubt find an opportunity to kill him, if we watch him carefully.'

They left the groom at home that evening, and proceeded to the 'dargāh' (church) near the canal. Seeing Aniā with merely a Stick in his hand, Karīm bid him go back and change it for a sword, while he went in and said his evening prayers.

On being rejoined by Aniā, they took the road to cantonments, which passed by Mr. Fraser's house; and Aniā observed that the risk was hardly equal in this undertaking, he being on foot, while Karīm was on horseback; that he should be sure to be taken, while the other might have a fair chance of escape. It was now quite dark, and Karīm bid him stand by sword in hand; and if anybody attempted to seize his horse when he fired, cut him down, and be assured that while he had life he would never suffer him, Aniā, to be taken.

Karīm continued to patrol up and down on the high-road, that nobody might notice him, while Aniā stood by the road-side. At last, about eleven o'clock, they heard Mr. Fraser approach, attended by one trooper, and two 'peons' on foot; and Karīm walked his horse slowly, as if he had been going from the city to the cantonments, till Mr. Fraser came up within a few paces of him, near the gate leading into his house.

Karīm Khān, on leaving his house, had put one large ball into his short blunderbuss; and when confident that he should now have an opportunity of shooting Mr. Fraser, he put in two more small ones. As Mr. Fraser's horse was coming up on the left side, Karīm Khān tumed round his, and, as he passed, presented his blunderbuss, fired, and all three balls passed into Mr. Fraser's breast.

All three horses reared at the report and flash, and Mr. Fraser fell dead on the ground. Karīm galloped off, followed at a short distance by the trooper, and the two peons went off and gave information to Major Pew and Cornet Robinson, who resided near the place. They came in all haste to the spot, and had the body taken to the deceased's own house; but no signs of life remained. They reported the murder to the magistrate, and the city gates were closed, as the assassin had been seen to enter the city by the trooper.

Aniā ran home through the Kabul gate of the city, unperceived, while Karīm entered by the Ajmēr gate, and passed first through the encampment of Hindoo Rao, to efface the traces of his horse's feet. When he reached their lodgings, he found Aniā there before him; and Rūplā, the groom, seeing his horse in a sweat, told him that he had had a narrow escape—that Mr. Fraser had been killed, and orders given for the arrest of any horseman that might be found in or near the city.

He told him to hold his tongue, and take care of the horse; and calling for a light, he and Aniā tore up every letter he had received from Fīrōzpur, and dipped the fragments in water, to efface the ink from them. Aniā asked him what he had done with the blunderbuss, and was told that it had been thrown into a well. Aniā now concealed three flints that he kept about him in some sand in the upper story they occupied, and threw an iron ramrod and two spare bullets into a well near the mosque.

The next morning, when he heard that the city gates had been all shut to prevent any one from going out till strict search should be made, Karīm became a good deal alarmed, and went to seek counsel from Moghal Beg, the friend of his master; but when in the evening he heard that they had been again opened, he recovered his spirits; and the next day he wrote a letter to the Nawāb, saying that he had purchased the dogs that he wanted, and would soon return with them. He then went to Mr. McPherson, and actually purchased from him for the Nawāb some dogs and pictures, and the following day sent Rūplā, the groom, with them to Fīrōzpur, accompanied by two bearers.

A pilgrim lodged in the same place with these men, and was present when Karīm came home from the murder, and gave his horse to Rūplā. In the evening, after the departure of Rūplā with the dogs, four men of the Gūjar caste came to the place, and Karīm sat down and smoked a pipe with one of them,[15] who said that he had lost his bread by Mr. Fraser's death, and should be glad to see the murderer punished—that he was known to have worn a green vest, and he hoped he would soon be discovered.

The pilgrim came up to Karīm shortly after these four men went away, and said that he had heard from some one that he, Karīm, was himself suspected of the murder. He went again to Moghal Beg, who told him not to be alarmed, that, happily, the Regulations were now in force in the Delhi Territory, and that he had only to stick steadily to one story to be safe.

He now desired Aniā to return to Fīrōzpur with a letter to the Nawāb, and to assure him that he would be stanch and stick to one story, though they should seize him and confine him in prison for twelve years. He had, he said, already sent off part of his clothes, and Aniā should now take away the rest, so that nothing suspicious should be left near him.

The next morning Aniā set out on foot, accompanied by Islāmullah, a servant of Moghal Beg's, who was also the bearer of a letter to the Nawāb. They hired two ponies when they became tired, but both flagged before they reached Nagīna, whence Aniā proceeded to Fīrōzpur, on a mare belonging to the native collector, leaving Islāmullah behind.

He gave his letter to the Nawāb, who desired him to describe the affair of the murder. He did so. The Nawāb seemed very much pleased, and asked him whether Karīm appeared to be in any alarm. Aniā told him that he did not, and had resolved to stick to one story, though he should be imprisoned for twelve years.

'Karīm Khān,' said the Nawāb, turning to the brother-in-law of the former, Wāsil Khān, and Hasan Alī, who stood near him—'Karīm Khān is a very brave man, whose courage may be always relied on.'

He gave Aniā eighteen rupees, and told him to change his name, and keep close to Wāsil Khān. They retired together; but, while Wāsil Khān went to his house, Aniā stood on the road unperceived, but near enough to hear Hasan Alī urge the Nawāb to have him put to death immediately, as the only chance of keeping the fatal secret. He went off immediately to Wāsil Khān, and prevailed upon him to give him leave to go home for that night to see his family, promising to be back the next morning early.

He set out forthwith, but had not been long at home when he learned that Hasan Alī, and another confidential servant of the Nawāb, were come in search of him with some troopers. He concealed himself in the roof of his house, and heard them ask his wife and children where he was, saying they wanted his aid in getting out some hyaenas they had traced into their dens in the neighbourhood. They were told that he had gone back to Fīrōzpur, and returned; but were sent back by the Nawāb to make a more careful search for him.

Before they came, however, he had gone off to his friends Kamruddīn and Joharī, two brothers who resided in the Rāo Rājā's territory. To this place he was followed by some Mewātīs, whom the Nawāb had induced, under the promise of a large reward, to undertake to kill him.

One night he went to two acquaintances, Makrām and Shahāmat, in a neighbouring village, and begged them to send to some English gentleman in Delhi, and solicit for him a pardon, on condition of his disclosing all the circumstances of Mr. Fraser's murder. They promised to get everything done for him through a friend in the police at Delhi, and set out for that purpose, while Aniā returned and concealed himself in the hills.

In six days they came with a paper, purporting to be a promise of pardon from the court of Delhi, and desired Kamr-ud-dīn to introduce them to Aniā. He told them to return to him in three days, and he would do so; but he went off to Aniā in the hills, and told him that he did not think these men had really got the papers from the English gentlemen—that they appeared to him to be in the service of the Nawāb himself.

Aniā was, however, introduced to them when they came back, and requested that the paper might be read to him. Seeing through their designs, he again made off to the hills, while they went out in search, they pretended, of a man to read it, but in reality to get some people who were waiting in the neighbourhood to assist in securing him, and taking him off to the Nawāb.

Finding on their return that Aniā had escaped, they offered high rewards to the two brothers if they would assist in tracing him out; and Joharī was taken to the Nawāb, who offered him a very high reward if he would bring Aniā to him, or, at least, take measures to prevent his going to the English gentlemen.

This was communicated to Aniā, who went through Bharatpur to Bareilly, and from Bareilly to Secunderabad, where he heard, in the beginning of July, that both Karīm and the Nawāb were to be tried for the murder, and that the judge, Mr. Colvin, had already arrived at Delhi to conduct the trial. He now determined to go to Delhi and give himself up. On his way he was met by Mr. Simon Fraser's man, who took him to Delhi, when he confessed his share in the crime, became king's evidence at the trial, and gave an interesting narrative of the whole affair.

Two water-carriers, in attempting to draw up the brass jug of a carpenter, which had fallen into the well the morning after the murder, pulled up the blunderbuss which Karīm Khān had thrown into the same well. This was afterwards recognized by Aniā, and the man whom he pointed out as having made it for him.

Two of the four Gūjars, who were mentioned as having visited Karīm immediately after the murder, went to Brigadier Fast, who commanded the troops at Delhi, fearing that the native officers of the European civil functionaries might be in the interest of the Nawāb, and get them made away with.

They told him that Karīm Khān seemed to answer the description of the man named in the proclamation as the murderer of Mr. Fraser; and he sent them with a note to the Commissioner, Mr. Metcalfe, who sent them to the Magistrate, Mr. Fraser, who accompanied them to the place, and secured Karīm, with some fragments of important papers.

The two Mewātīs, who had been sent to assassinate Aniā, were found, and they confessed the fact: the brother of Aniā, Rahmat, was found and he described the difficulty Aniā had to escape from the Nawāb's people sent to murder him. Rūplā, the groom, deposed to all that he had seen during the time he was employed as Karīm's groom at Delhi. Several men deposed to having met Karīm, and heard him asking after Mr. Fraser a few days before the murder. The two peons, who were with Mr. Fraser when he was shot, deposed to the horse which he rode at the time, and which was found with him.

Karīm Khān and the Nawāb were both convicted of the crime, sentenced to death, and executed at Delhi, I should mention that suspicion had immediately attached to Karīm Khān; he was known for some time to have been lurking about Delhi, on the pretence of purchasing dogs; and it was said that, had the Nawāb really wanted dogs, he would not have sent to purchase them by a man whom he admitted to his table, and treated on terms of equality.

He was suspected of having been employed on such occasions before—known to be a good shot, and a good rider, who could fire and reload very quickly while his horse was in full gallop, and called in consequence the 'Bharmārū.'[16]

His horse, which was found in the stable by the Gūjar spies, who had before been in Mr. Fraser's service, answered the description given of the murderer's horse by Mr. Fraser's attendants; and the Nawāb was known to cherish feelings of bitter hatred against Mr. Fraser.

The Nawāb was executed some time after Karīm, on Thursday morning, the 3rd of October, 1835, close outside the north, or Kashmir Gate, leading to the cantonments. He prepared himself for the execution in an extremely rich and beautiful dress of light green, the colour which martyrs wear; but he was made to exchange this, and he then chose one of simple white, and was too conscious of his guilt to urge strongly his claim to wear what dress he liked on such an occasion.

The following corps were drawn up around the gallows, forming three sides of a square: the 1st Regiment of Cavalry, the 20th, 39th, and 69th Regiments of Native Infantry, Major Pew's Light Field Battery, and a strong party of police. On ascending the scaffold, the Nawāb manifested symptoms of disgust at the approach to his person of the sweeper, who was to put the rope round his neck;[17] but he soon mastered his feelings, and submitted with a good grace to his fate.

Just as he expired his body made a last turn, and left his face towards the west, or the tomb of his Prophet, which the Muhammadans of Delhi considered a miracle, indicating that he was a martyr—not as being innocent of the murder, but as being executed for the murder of an unbeliever.

Pilgrimages were for some time made to the Nawāb's tomb,[18] but I believe they have long since ceased with the short gleam of sympathy that his fate excited. The only people that still recollect him with feelings of kindness are the prostitutes and dancing women of the city of Delhi, among whom most of his revenues were squandered[19]

In the same manner was Wazīr Ali recollected for many years by the prostitutes and dancing women of Benares, after the massacre of Mr. Cherry and all the European gentlemen of that station, save one, Mr. Davis, who bravely defended himself, wife, and children against a host with a hog spear on the top of his house. No European could pass Benares for twenty years after Wazīr Alī's arrest and confinement in the garrison of Fort William, without hearing from the Windows songs in his praise, and in praise of the massacre.[20]

It is supposed that the Nawāb Faiz Muhammad Khan of Jhajjar was deeply implicated in this murder, though no proof of it could be found. He died soon after the execution of Shams-ud- dīn, and was succeeded in his fief by his eldest son, Faiz Alī Khān.[21] This fief was bestowed on the father of the deceased, whose name was Najābat Alī Khān, by Lord Lake, on the termination of the war in 1805, for the aid he had given to the retreating army under Colonel Monson.[22]

One circumstance attending the execution of the Nawāb Shams-ud-dīn seems worthy of remark. The magistrate, Mr. Frascott, desired his crier to go through the city the evening before the execution, and proclaim to the people that those who might wish to be present at the execution were not to encroach upon the line of sentries that would be formed to keep clear an allotted space round the gallows, nor to carry with them any kind of arms; but the crier, seemingly retaining in his recollection only the words arms and sentries, gave out after his 'Oyes, Oyes,'[23] that the sentries had orders to use their arms, and shoot any man, woman, or child that should presume to go outside the wall to look at the execution of the Nawāb.

No person, in consequence, ventured out till the execution was over, when they went to see the Nawāb himself converted into smoke; as the general impression was that as life should leave it, the body was to be blown off into the air by a general discharge of musketry and artillery. Moghal Bēg was acquitted for want of judicial proof of his guilty participation in the crime.


1. The author's remarks concerning military officers refer to officers serving with native regiments, now known as the Indian Army. Before the institution of the reformed police in 1861 the native troops used to be much scattered in detachments, guarding treasuries, and performing other duties since entrusted to the police. Detachments are now rarely sent out, except on frontier service.

2. Fīrōzpur, the Fīrozpur-Jhirka of the I.G., is now the head-quarters of a sub-collectorate in the Gurgāon district. The three Districts of the Delhi Territories in Sleeman's time seem to have been Delhi, Pānīpat (= Karnāl), and Rohtak, which were under the jurisdiction of the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-Western Provinces. In 1858, after the Mutiny, they were transferred to the Panjāb.

Since then, many administrative changes have occurred. The latest took place on October 1, 1912, on the occasion of Delhi becoming the official capital of India, instead of Calcutta.

The city of Delhi with a small surrounding area, 557 square miles in all, now forms a tiny distinct province, ruled by a Chief Commissioner under the direct orders of the Government of India. The Delhi Division has ceased to exist, and six Districts, namely, Hissar, Rohtak, Karnāl, Ambāla (Umballa), Gurgāon, and Simla, now constitute the Commissioner's Division of Ambāla in the Panjāb.

3. Ante, chapter 31, text between [10] and [11]. Some great landholders of the present day pursue the same policy.

4. The story of the murder of Fraser is told very differently in Bosworth-Smith's Life of Lord Lawrence, where all the detective credit is given to Lord L., apparently on his own authority. See also an article in the Quarterly Review for April 1883, by Sir H. Yule, and another in Blackwoods Magazine for January 1878.

Miniature medallion portraits of Nawāb Shams-ud-dīn and his servant Karīm Khān are given on the frontispiece of Volume II in the original edition.

5. The inglorious second administration of Lord Cornwallis lasted only from 30th of July, 1805, the date on which he relieved the Marquis Wellesley, to the 5th of October of the same year, the date of his death at Ghāzīpur.

'The Marquis Cornwallis arrived in India, prepared to abandon, as far as might be practicable, all the advantages gained for the British Government by the wisdom, energy, and perseverance of his predecessor; to relax the bands by which the Marquis Wellesley had connected the greater portion of the states of India with the British Government; and to reduce that Government from the position of arbiter of the destinies of India to the rank of one among many equals.'

His policy was zealously carried out by Sir George Barlow, who succeeded him, and held office till July, 1807. That statesman was not ashamed to write that 'the British possessions in the Doāb will derive additional security from the contests of the neighbouring states'. (Thornton, The History of the British Empire in India, chap. 21.)

This fatuous policy produced twelve years of anarchy, which were terminated by the Marquis of Hastings's great war with the Marāthās and Pindhārīs in 1817, so often referred to in this book. Lord Lake addressed the most earnest remonstrances to Sir George Barlow without avail.

6. Amīn-ud-dīn and Ziā-ud-dīn's mother was the Bhāo Bēgam, or wife; Shams-ud- dīn's the Bhāo Khānum, or mistress. [W. H. S.]

7. Sir James Edward, third baronet, who died November 5, 1838. He was paternal uncle of Henry Thomas Colebrooke, F.R.S., the greatest of Anglo-Indian Sanskritists. The fifth baronet, Edward Arthur, was created Baron Colebrooke in 1906.

8. Sir Charles Metcalfe was for a time Assistant Resident at Delhi, and was first appointed to the Residency at the extraordinarily early age of twenty-six. He was then transferred to other posts. In 1824 he returned to the Delhi Residency, superseding Sir David Ochterlony, whose measures had been disapproved by the Government of India. He left the Residency in 1827.

9. The editor once had occasion to deal with a similar case, which resulted in the loss by the offending Rājā of his rank and title. The orders were passed by the Government of Lord Dufferin.

10. Colonel Skinner, who raised the famous troops known as Skinner's Horse, died in 1841, and was buried in the church of St. James at Delhi which he had built. The church still exists. The Colonel erected opposite the church, as a memorial of his friend Fraser, a fine inlaid marble cross, which was destroyed in the Mutiny (General Hervey, Some Records of Crime, vol. i, p. 403).

11. According to General Hervey, the provocation was that Mr. Fraser had inquired from the Nawāb about his sister by name (op. cit., p. 279).

12. I print this word 'Bulvemar's' as it stands in the original edition, not knowing what it means.

13. The habits of Europeans have now changed, and to most people escorts have become distasteful. High officials now constantly go about unattended, and could be assassinated with little difficulty. Happily crimes of the kind are rare, except on the Afghan frontier, where special precautions are taken.

14. For the 'Bāiza Bai' see ante, chapter 50 note 4. Hindoo Rāo's house became famous in 1857 as the head- quarters of the British force on the Ridge, during the siege of Delhi.

15. Many of the Gūjar caste are Muhammadans.

16. That is to say 'load and fire', or 'sharpshooter'.

17. No one but a member of one of the 'outcaste castes', if the 'bull' be allowable, will act as executioner.

18. This sinister incident shows clearly the real feeling of the Muhammadan populace towards the ruling power. That feeling is unchanged, and is not altogether confined to the Muslim populace. See the following remark about the populace of Benares.

19. This remark was evidently written some time after the author's first visit to Delhi, and probably was written in the year 1839.

20. On the death of Āsaf-ud-daula, Wazīr Alī was, in spite of doubts as to his legitimacy, recognized by Sir John Shore (Lord Teignmouth) as the Nawāb Wazīr of Oudh, in 1797. On reconsideration, the Governor-General cancelled the recognition of Wazīr Alī, and recognized his rival Saādat Alī. Wazīr Alī was removed from Lucknow, but injudiciously allowed to reside at Benares.

The Marquis Wellesley, then Earl of Mornington, took charge of the office of Governor-General in 1798, and soon resolved that it was expedient to remove Wazīr Alī to a greater distance from Lucknow. Mr. Cherry, the Agent to the Governor-General, was accordingly instructed to remove him from Benares to Calcutta. The outbreak alluded to in the text occurred on January 14, 1799, and was the expression of Wazīr Ali's resentment at these orders.

It is described as follows by Thornton (History, chap. xvii):

'A visit which Wazīr Alī made, accompanied by his suite, to the British Agent, afforded the means of accomplishing the meditated revenge. He had engaged himself to breakfast with Mr. Cherry, and the parties met in apparent amity. The usual compliments were exchanged. Wazīr Alī then began to expatiate on his wrongs; and having pursued this subject for some time, he suddenly rose with his attendants, and put to death Mr. Cherry and Captain Conway, an English gentleman who happened to be present.

'The assassins then rushed out, and meeting another Englishman named Graham, they added him to the list of their victims. They thence proceeded to the house of Mr. Davis, judge and magistrate, who had just time to remove his family to an upper terrace, which could only be reached by a very narrow staircase. At the top of this staircase, Mr. Davis, armed with a spear, took his post, and so successfully did he defend it, that the assailants, after several attempts to dislodge him, were compelled to retire without effecting their object.

'The benefit derived from the resistance of this intrepid man extended beyond his own family: the delay thereby occasioned afforded to the rest of the English inhabitants opportunity of escaping to the place where the troops stationed for the protection of the city were encamped. General Erskine, on learning what had occurred, dispatched a party to the relief of Mr. Davis, and Wazīr Alī thereupon retired to his own residence.'

Wazīr Alī escaped, but was ultimately given up by a chief with whom he had taken refuge, 'on condition that his life should be spared, and that his limbs should not be disgraced by chains'.

Some of his accomplices were executed.

'He was confined at Port William, in a sort of iron cage, where he died in May, 1817, aged thirty-six, after an imprisonment of seventeen years and some odd months.' (Men whom India has Known, 2nd ed., 1874, art. 'Vizier Ali.')

But Beale asserts that after many years' captivity in Calcutta, the prisoner was removed to Vellore, where he died (Or. Biogr. Dict., ed. Keene, 1894, p. 416). It will be observed that the author was mistaken in supposing that 'all the European gentlemen, except Mr. Davis and his family, were included in the massacre.'

21. These names stand in the original edition as 'Tyz Mahomed Khan, of Ghujper,' and 'Tyz Alee Khan'. In 1857 the then Nawāb of Jhajjar joined the rebels. He was accordingly hanged, and his estate was confiscated. It is now included in the Rohtak District. See Fanshawe's Settlement Report of that District.

22. The disastrous retreat of Colonel Monson before Jeswant Rāo Holkār during the rainy season of 1804 is one of the few serious reverses which have interrupted the long series of British victories in India. A considerable force under the command of Colonel Monson, sent out by General Lake at the beginning of May in pursuit of Holkār, was withdrawn too far from its base, and was compelled to retreat through Rājputāna, and fall back on Agra.

During the retreat the rains broke, and, under pressure caused by the difficulties of the march and incessant attacks of the enemy, the Company's troops became disorganized, and lost their guns and baggage. The shattered remnants of the force straggled into Agra at the end of August. The disgrace of this retreat was speedily avenged by the great victory of Dīg.

23. This old Norman-French formula. Oyez, Oyez, meaning 'Hear!' is still, or recently was, used at the Assizes in the High Court, Calcutta. The formula would not now be heard at Delhi, or elsewhere beyond the precincts of the High Court.

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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