Page images
PDF
EPUB

in it . The inside of its upper room is constructed of marble of variegated colours, and neatly adjusted. From this apartment, the lord of the world, as he is intitled by his subjects, hath a distinct view of twelve different suits of female apartments; in the front of which, when the monarch issues the mandate, his beauteous handmaids are arranged in his sight, that he may select the favourite of the day. The imperial choice! or rather edict, (to what humiliations do fhe laws of Mahomet subject ye, my fair friends !) is conveyed to the fortunate damsel, and full joyously doth her heart beat, who on the day of review attracts the fancy of her lord;—for the passion of vanity is said oftentimes to supply in a female breast the place of love. I should not dislike, my friend, to be a Padshah myself, were it not that many of them have had their throats cut by their friends, and been compelled to drink very bitter potions; . since liable to such treatment, much good may their fine ladies and other fine things do them!

In the palace yard stands a rodnd pillar of about forty feet high, consisting of an entire stone, which coarsely resembles the porphyry, and seems covered with an inscription, in the ancient Hindoo character; but the letters are so much effaced and impaired by the ravages of time, which, my friend, spares not even marWe, that they are become illegible. The erection of this monument is attributed to Beemshyne, who, your Bramin will tell you, was in his day a powerful chief, and one of the principal warriors in the Mhah Bhaut.* But as a devout believer, you must not repose too much faith on the Bramin's account of the aera in which this Beemshyne is said to have flourished; for he will tell you that our great progenitor was not even heard of in those days. The Mahometans, who as furiously destroyed every monument and curious vestige not expressive of their doctrine, as they were actuated by a blind zeal in its propagation and support, have endeavoured to claim the construction of this pillar, and over the Hindoo record, they have engraved the names of many of their emperors) since the time of Babrf.

This pillar, which bears the mark of great antiquity, clearly evinces that Allahabad was a place of importance long before the aira of the Mahometan conquest of India. We should pass indeed a contemptuous, not to say an unjust censure, on the understanding of the ancient

* The great war which was carried on by the Paunch-paun-Deve, or the compact of the five Brothers, against Dur-jodin. See Wilkins's Gheeta.

t The first Emperor of the race of Timur, who sat on the thr»ne •f Hindostan.

VOL. I. O

Hindoos, did we suppose that they had overlooked a situation, at once so favourable to the performance of their religious duties, and so happily adapted to the enjoyments of life. Almost as many cities have been brought forward by modern writers to prefer their claims to the Polybortha of India, as of old, contested for the birth-place of Homer. Monsieur d'Anville, the celebrated French geographer, seems to give the palm to Allahabad. Strabo has made mention of a grand causeway, leading from Polybortha into the interior parts of the country, and as such structures are durable and conspicuous, it is to be supposed that some remains of this road would have yet been visible ; but on a careful examination I could not discover its most distant trace. A mound of earth appears on the western shore of the Ganges, extending about a mile in a line with the river where it approaches the fort, which has been evidently thrown up to prevent the stream in the seasons of the floods, from overflowing or injuring the town.

IN touching on the subject of Allahabad, it is necessary to notice the tomb of Sultan Khusro. This mausoleum, about a mile to the eastward of the town, stands in the midst of a spacious garden inclosed with a high wall, and well supplied with a variety of flowers and fruit trees, but from want of culture they look rugged and barren. Being clad in the Mahometan habit, and intimating a desire to offer up my prayers at the royal shrine, I was immediately admitted. The public edifices of the Mahometans being constructed of the worst species of what is termed the Gothic order, they cannot afford much pleasure to the European eye, which is now taught to regard only the more simple and chaste proportions of art”. Yet the tomb of Khusro, though comprising few of the rules of architecture, hath in its appearance something peculiarly pleasing, and diffuses around it an air of melancholy, congenially suited to the purpose of its foundation. The building is nearly square, raised from the ground by a low flight of steps, and has a vaulted roof in the form of a dome, whose outside is covered with tiles of a fine clay, stained with a diversity of colours, on which the reflection of the sun produces a pleasing effect. No fund being established for supporting this monument, it cannot long survive the numerous edifices now scattered in ruins through the environs of Allahabad. Adjoining to the tomb of Khusro, is one of a smaller size, which a mendicant informed me was erected in commemoration of one of the female branches of the imperial family. Some Mahometan priests who live in the garden, keep the inside of the mausoleum decently clean, and the different appurtenances are still in good preservation, particularly the wooden bier in which the body is said to be deposited". Observing a small curtain spread on the wall, I drew it aside, and must confess to you that I was impressed with a very sensible awe, on discovering the figure of an open hand, engraved on black marble: when I adverted to the nature of the place, and the use to which it had been applied, I at first supposed that this representation denoted the hand, or the power of the Deity; but a farther recollection informed me, that Mahomed, Ali, Fatimaf, Hussin, and Hussein, were described by this emblem ; and that, in compliance with the law which excludes all works of sculpture and painting from Mahometan worship, it had been covered. THE Allahabad districts once paid into the royal treasury a revenue of between seventy and eighty lacks of rupees: but such is the impoverished and depopulated state of the Vizier's country, that it is at this day reduced to a fourth of that amount. Shaistah Khan, who

* This opinion does not presume to include the monuments at Agra, which have deserved the warmest approbation of our celebrated artists.

* Sultan Khusro, the eldest son of Tehanquir, died A. D. 1622.

t Fatima, the daughter of Mahomed, was married to Ali, and had two sons, Hussin and Hussein.

« PreviousContinue »