« AnteriorContinua »
prosaic times, can scarcely supply a parallel to it. . History, indeed, has never more closely simulated romance, than when recording the remarkable career of this remarkable man.
*...* There is so much vraisemblance in the following passages from General Harlan's book, descriptive of the personal habits of Dost Mahommed, that we are induced to publish them in the form of an appendix to this article:–
“The Amír was not attended by a guard of regular troops, but his personal servants, many of whom were confidential household slaves, came armed into his presence. Every day, except Thursday morning, he sat in public, to transact business. Thursday morning was devoted to the bath until ten o'clock; after this hour those only visited him who were called. He usually employed the time before noon in auditing his domestic affairs in company with his Mirzas or writers. # * + * Friday was appropriated to the promiscuous access of the populace. . On this day, the gateway of his durbar was thrown wide open, and the doorkeepers withdrawn. Every one who had a cause to urge, or curiosity to gratify, might come into the presence without impediment. The Amir heard all complaints in person, attended by the Langi. Civil causes were referred to this functionary for judgment, and the sentence was enforced by the Amir. Criminal causes which were not likely to yield a fine, were also referred to the Langi, to shift from his own shoulders the odium of an Onerous act. + * + * * + + The remainder of the week was employed in the transaction of miscellaneous business. The hours of business were confined to the forenoon. His highness, in common with all the Mahommedans, was an early riser, which custom is necessary to admit of the performance of the prescribed morning prayers. Of the five periods of prayer, commanded by the traditionary law, the first must be finished before sun-rise, otherwise the act becomes “quazah,” or “lapsed ;” in this event the prayer is unacceptable to the deity, or of no avail; and the consequences attending neglect of religious duty should be deprecated by charitable donation, at least to the provision of a meal for the necessitous. Conscientious persons will perform this penitential hospitality, though the mass of the community are indifferent to the pious injunction. ... After the conclusion of this first religious duty, which commences the diurnal service and routine of life, he read a few pages in the Koran attended by his Iman. ... This functionary translated into Persian, or rather expounded in that colloquial dialect, the Arabic of the sacred volume, which the Mussalman holds to be the Word of God. In this employment he would be engaged an hour, more or less, as the task was longer or shorter. At the conclusion of this matin exercise, to which all the faithful, who have singular pretensions to piety, are addicted, the chiefs who composed the durbar made their entree promiscuously, and, with the simple ceremony of a bow, and the ordinary salutation “Usulam Allaikúm,” touching the forehead as they leaned forward with the inner surface of the four fingers of the right hand, took their seats on the right or left of his highness. They were seated generally according to the rank of each guest. * * * + * * The salutation of every one was returned by an audible response, it being amongst the religious, injunctions of the faithful, to reply to proferred civility a reciprocal acknowledgment. They are probably just in the estimation of politeness when they ascribe humility and condescension to the courteous. These are qualities which all profess to admire, and endeavour to practise, notwithstanding the exclusive bigotry of pure Mahommedanism. My place in durbar was alongside of the Amir, on the left if the right should be pre-occupied, otherwise on the right. If his brother, the Nawab was there when I entered, he always gave place to me. The Nawabs Jubbar Khan and Mahommed Khan Populzye, whose daughter was married to the heir apparent, and myself, were the only officers who enjoyed the F. right of seating ourselves on the same numed or felt, which his ighness occupied. * * * - * When recent spring fruit came into season the Amír frequently breakfasted at nine o'clock, on mulberries or apricots, in which instance he usually abstained from the more solid repast at meridian. * * * * At twelve o'clock, the Prince and the élite retired and slept until two P. M.; at this hour they arose to perform the second prayer. After his ablutions and toilet the Amír egressed from his harem, and mounting his horse, which was in waiting at the gateway, he sallied out upon his evening ride. He had a fondness for fine horses, and generally visited his stud in the afternoon; but this occupation was more appropriate to the spring, when the brood mares and colts attracted his regard, and participated in his care. In the summer and fall, he luxuriated in the picturesque scenery about the city, from a favourite prospect point; seated himself, with a few select friends, on the bank of a running stream, of which there were several about the vicinity, end enjoyed a cup of tea; or visited some one of the magnificent, ornamental and useful gardens near the suburbs of Kabul, accompanied by a train of musicians. In the spring he viewed his stud, daily about three or four P. M. He sat on a terrace made for the purpose, two or three feet high, covered with felts. Here many of his chiefs joined him, who did not usually attend in morning durbar. These were stipendiary lords, and mūllahs or priests and familiar friends who enjoyed his confidence; they passed their time in smoking the cullioon," desultory conversation, complimentary commendations of the Prince's unique fancy for horses, and admiration of the promising brood of young colts, which were the delight of his highness and favourites of his taste. These companions o the evening with his highness until he retired. He returned to his erri Khaneh (place of durbar) at nightfall. Having previously performed the third prayer, he mounted his horse and moved into quarters. The evenings, when the weather permitted, were passed in a beautiful flower garden: we sat on a low terrace illuminated by a large lamp. During the season of full bloom, the position was surrounded by an invisible and delightful fragrance of the ever wakeful floral nature; the intoxicating perfume of the rose, the spicy pink, breathing of sweetness, and the flood of grateful odour that bathed the senses from the enchanting “Shuhboo.”t The genial air of midsummer, tempered by the everlasting Alps of permament snow near the valley, gratefully clothed our nocturnal hours in a voluptuous mantle of serene repose. The music was there too, fitful, frantic, or pathetic as the feast of reason and the flow of soul invoked its mysterious influence which, “Softly sweet in Persian measure, Gently soothed the soul to pleasure.”
* Persian water pipe. ...t. “Or nocturnal odour;” the July or Jilly flower, that sheds its scent after nightfall, is so called by the Persians.
Kabul, the city of a thousand gardens, in those days was a paradise far removed from the agitating scenes of life, away from the world. * * *
His highness kept very late hours, particularly during the long nights of winter. I have repeatedly sat up with him until three A. M. Dinner was brought after “usser,” or the fourth prayer, which shortly followed sunset. This meal similar to the breakfast was served sooner or later, generally before eight o'clock, as his appetite suggested, although sometimes deferred until ten o’clock. When this was the case, fresh fruit would be introduced about eight, and the intermediate time was passed by his highness, playing several games of chess with Kazi Budder-ü-Din, or in conversation. When his highness was engaged at chess, the conversation ceased, and the interlocutors gathered nearest the performers, to observe the game, and applaud the sagacity he displayed. I never knew him lose a game. The Kazi was always beaten. At the conclusion of each game the science of certain moves was discussed, and a sufficient amount of flattery bestowed on the unrivalled play of his highness.
Notwithstanding, the wily Afghans would aside pass winks and gestures from one to another, and occasionally some one, more privileged than the rest, has been heard to taunt the Amir by hinting that the Kazi played bad intentionally, and lost to flatter him. He took his rallying always in good part, and it is certain that the Kazi was much too complaisant ever to gain a game even by chance. These nocturnal parties were conducted with perfect regard to etiquette and good manners. He was fond of listening to the relation of travels, and allusions to history; made frequent inquiries of merchants who were known to visit distant countries, concerning the manners and customs of the people they had seen, the character of the prince, the Government, religion, and particularly, geography and topography, for which sciences he seemed to have a strong inclination. He was well acquainted with the Russian military system, and the best account, detailed with accuracy and illustrative minuteness, I have heard of the destruction of the Janissaries by the last Săltan of Turkey, was recited to me by the Amir. He was much addicted to telling stories of his personal adventures; he delighted to talk of himself, was pleased with his own declamation, and vain of his eloquence. If merit is to elicit the reward of praise, he was justly entitled to admiration for the ready command of language and agreeable mode of displaying his talents in colloquial intercourse. Buffoonery never formed a part of his princely amusements, but refinement of moral or purity of design did not always characterize the tenor of his improvisatore. His anecdotes were not unfrequently gross and sensual. Unsophisticated by the arts of intellectuality, he thought that “nature unadorned was adorned the most.” . No event lost by relating any importance in reality, or was obscured by the nomenclature of modesty. He dealt a good deal in sarcasm, and was ever ready to trump his adversary's trick. Ridicule was a weapon that he flourished with considerable effect, and he good-humouredly made himself or his position the subject of ludicrous wit. The demands of his courtiers, or rather the feudal lords, who represented the communities and constituted the most powerful element of the Government, kept the Amir always greatly straitened for the resources of present means, and I have heard him make his poverty, which really arose from extreme circumspection in providing for the necessities of personal defence out of his civil list, the source of ridicule.”
ART. II.- The History of Ceylon, from the earliest period to the present time; with an appendir, containing an account of its present condition. By William Knighton, Esq. Colombo, 1845.
WE have of late, on several occasions, endeavoured to direct the attention of our readers to the island of Ceylon—the celebrated Lanka of Hindu mythological legends—and the not less celebrated Taprobane of ancient Classic authors. Our labours, in this respect, appear to have been variously appreciated, not in India only, but also in Great Britain. In the seventh number of this work, we bestowed a short notice on Mr. Selkirk’s “Recollections of Ceylon.” That notice so arrested the attention, excited the admiration, and the covetous propensity of the conductors of a certain English Journal, that they actually transferred it, verbatim et literatim, from our pages to their own—as if it were an entirely original article— there being not the slightest acknowledgement of the source whence it was derived However, for the sake of our new favourite “the cinnamon isle”—the “pearl drop of India"— the “emerald gem” of the oriental world—and the additional celebrity thus gained for it, we cheerfully and uncomplainingly submitted to this unseemly act of Literary larceny.
Hitherto, our observations on Ceylon have been of a general and discursive character, or they have been limited to certain isolated and specific subjects. But, remembering how very little, even persons of extensive information and superior intelligence, usually know of the history of the island, we felt as if our remarks wanted a certain substratum of knowledge in men's minds, on which steadily and connectedly to repose. Under a deep and growing consciousness of this want, we began to cast about for authentic materials from which to adduce and fabricate an intelligible historic sketch—calculated to exhibit, in a brief yet comprehensive form, the leading events which have characterized its transitionary states and settled epochs, from the earliest times to the present. When abroad on this foraging expedition, we unexpectedly stumbled on a work which seemed at once to provide for us, without further trouble or research, all that we required. It was the happily conceived and admirably executed work at the head of this article. But, without pausing, at this stage of our inquiries, to pronounce any eulogy on the author or his production, we shall forthwith proceed, chiefly by the seasonable aid of his judicious and successful labours, to present our readers with an epitomized sketch of the History of Ceylon.
The fables invented to account for the first settlement of a country, are generally of less use to history than those intended to elucidate subsequent events. Into the region of fable on the primeval occupation of Ceylon it is not our intention to enter, nor do our readers lose much by this resolution. Suffice it to say that the Chinese, the Burmese, and the natives of India are all claimants for the honor. Nor in such a sketch as we propose laying before our readers at present need we enter much into the wars of Rama and Rawana, stated by the Ramayana to have been waged in this favoured island. The research of two distinguished Ceylonese antiquarians, Mr. Turnour and Major Forbes, have fixed the site of these contests somewhere in the neighbourhood of Newera Ellia, the modern sanatarium, and we have little difficulty in saying to their believers “it may be so.” To the religious community and religious works we more particularly look for its early history, and of these there is no lack. The founder of modern Buddhism, Gotamo or Gandma, impelled by the sanctity of the island, we are told, a sanctity celebrated even before his time, visited it to raise from their degradation the debased inhabitants. Of this indefatigable reformer many wonderful anecdotes are as usual related, as having occurred during his visits to the island, and of these not the least miraculous in the eye of the Buddhist, is the fact of his having known by intuition the places hallowed by the touch of former Buddhas—knowledge which his admiring disciples could neither dispute nor deny. Anxious to connect still further the history of their country with the life of their great saint, the Ceylonese historians inform us that on the very day of Buddha's death, the founder of the subsequent royal dynasty landed on the island. This founder, Wijaya by name, is stated to have been a prince driven by his father, the King of modern Bengal, from his home and country for his misdemeanors; with a considerable band of equally reckless characters with himself, we are told, he directed his course to sea, and attempted to land on a part of the coast of India, where he was violently opposed. He next directed his course to Ceylon and thus succeeded in making good a settlement (543 B.C.) By a fortunate alliance with the daughter of a chief he established himself more securely, and she, violating patriotism and paternal love for the advantage of her newly found spouse, aided him in a cowardly massacre whereby the chief rulers of the island were destroyed, and Wijaya left supreme. He was not long in taking every advantage of the superiority he had gained, and by sending his followers to found cities throughout the island, of which they were the chiefs,