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Ayeen Akbery: Or the Inftitutes of the Emperor Akber. Tranflated from the Original Perfian, by Francis Gladwin. 4to. 3 Vols. Calcutta. 1783-4-6.
HE emperor JILALEDEEN MAHOMMED AKBER (the contemporary of our celebrated queen Elizabeth) was univerfally esteemed a great and good prince*. He was also fuccessful in war, having in his reign made feveral conquests, and reduced to obedience almoft all the provinces of Hindoftan which had revolted from his father, and predeceffor, HEMAJOON; and his political talents, together with his unremitting attention to the happiness of his fubjects, are fufficiently apparent from the regulations which he established for every department of the empire. He was born at Amercote, A. D. 1542, was proclaimed emperor in 1556, and died at Agra in 1605, after a reign of 49 years and 8 months. The hiftory of this potentate has been written, with great elegance and precision, by the vizier ABUL FAZEL. It comes down to the 47th year of AKBER's reign, when the hiftorian, who was a favourite with his fovereign, was murdered by ruffians, employed by his ene
ABUL FAZEL'S hiftory was entitled Akbernameh; to which the Ayeen Akbery is a kind of fupplement. In fact, however, the latter is a complete work; it contains the emperor's regulations for every department of government; an hiftorical and geographical defcription of the twelve Soobahs, or Vice-royalties, of Hindoftan; and a full account of the religion of the Hindoos, their books, their feveral fects, and the points in which these fects differ from each other.
Such are the general fubjects that are difcuffed in the Ayeen Akbery; and when it is confidered that the book was written by a man of learning, who was perfectly acquainted with the empire (as ABUL FAZEL undoubtedly muft have been, both from the high office he held, and the confidence which the emperor placed in him), hiftorians and politicians are the more obliged to Mr. Gladwin for the trouble he must have had in tranflating fe voluminous and difficult a work. They ought to think themfelves ftill more obliged to him, when it is alfo confidered that ABUL FAZEL did not write in the ftyle of the modern Perfic, but affected to imitate that of the earliest Perfian authors after MAHOMMED; which, as MAHOMMED SHEREEF MOTAMED KHAN, an Author who wrote only 15 years after AKBER'S death, fays, is a ftyle not only harsh and unpleafing to the ear,
*He was the fixth in defcent from Tamerlane.
but fuch as cannot be read or comprehended by the generality of readers, without great difficulty.'
Mr. Gladwin enjoyed the patronage of Governor Haftings, whom we have frequently mentioned as a zealous patron of oriental literature; and he has, in the present inftance, been the promoter of a work, which cannot fail of being acceptable to every one who wishes to be poffeffed of an authentic account of the conftitution of the empire of Hindoftan, and of its immense refources and expenditure under the reign of one of its moft powerful monarchs.
The first volume is divided into three parts, containing refpectively the regulations of the emperor's household, of the military department, and of the revenue.
Before we give an analysis of this work, we shall copy the beginning of the preface, as a fpecimen of ABUL FAZEL'S
In the name of the most merciful God!-O Lord! all thy myfteries are impenetrable. Unknown are thy beginning and thy end. In thee both beginning and end are loft. The name of both is loft in the manfions of thy eternity. It is fufficient that I offer up my thanksgiving, and meditate in aftonishment. My ecftacy is fofficient knowledge of thee. He is the most commendable who strives to perform meritorious actions, rather than how to utter fine fpeeches; and who, by delineating a few of the wondrous works of the Creator of the world, acquires immortal felicity.
ABUL FAZEL MOBEREK returns thanksgiving unto the Almighty, by finging the praises of royalty; and for the inftruction of those who fearch after knowledge and prudence, he records a few of the inftitutes of the lord of the world; thus tranfmitting unto all ages a model of wisdom. Since the fum of his intentions is to fet forth the laws of royalty, it is neceffary that he fpeak fomething of its exalted dignity, and describe the conditions of those who are affiftants in the great office.'
After defining, in the moft amplified manner, through feveral pages, the qualifications of a fovereign, he thus concludes 1 his preface:
Praise be unto God! The exalted monarch of our own time is fo endowed with thefe laudable difpofitions, that it is not exaggeration to fay he furpaffes all the fages of antiquity. From the light of wisdom he difcovers the ranks of men; and by the rectitude of his conduct, he adds fplendour to his understanding by the performance of laudable actions. Who is it that is able to measure the extent of his virtues?-Those who are verfed in ancient hiftory wonder how kings of former times governed without fuch a wife rule of conduct!'
In the firft part, the Author defcribes the royal treasury, the jewel office, and the mint; with a particular account of the
coins, and the profit which merchants gain by bringing gold, filver, and copper to it.
The next chapter, on the production of metals, may be recommended to alchemifts; but that immediately following, on the specific gravity of metals, merits the attention of the philoSopher; who will find that the Hindoos understood as much of the fubject, as their contemporary European metallurgifts, and perhaps more. Three tables are added to this chapter, the first fpecifying the quantity of water difplaced by the immersion of a certain weight of each fubftance *; the fecond specifies the weight of these fubftances in water; and the third, their weight compared with an equal bulk of gold: but the European muft lament that these tables are useless to him, as the tranflator has not reduced the Hindoo weights and their fubdivifions, to any standard known in this part of the world, or even ftated the proportion which thefe fubdivifions bear to each other.
From these philofophical fubjects, the Author proceeds to the defcription of the Haram, or Seraglio; a building of fuch an immenfe extent as to contain feparate apartments for every one of the women, whose number exceeds five thousand. • Every one,' fays the Author, receives a falary equal to her merit. The pen cannot measure the extent of the emperor's largeffes; but here fhall be given fome account of the monthly stipend of each. The ladies of the firft quality receive from 1610 rupees down to 1028 rupees.'
Details of the emperor's travelling equipages, with regulations for the encampment of the army, and for illuminations, &c. afford not much that can entertain our readers; the fame obfervation holds good with refpect to the description of the royal feals, and of the camp-equipage, if we except the following paffage, relative to the method of furnishing the emperor. with cold water during the encampment :
Salt-petre, which in the compofition of gunpowder, supplies heat, his majesty has difcovered to be alfo productive of cold. Saltpetre is a faline earth. They fill with it a perforated veffel, and fprinkle it with water, and collecting together what drops through, they boil it until it cryftallizes. A quart of water is put into a gugglet of pewter, or filver, or any other clean metal, and the
Eighteen different bodies are contained in each table.
+Upwards of 200l. fterling per month, valuing the rupee at 2s. 6d. exclufive of the most coftly apartments, luxurious table, and numerous attendants. Thefe ladies appear to have been kept, in conformity to the cuftom of Eastern princes, merely for pomp and, oftentation; for our hiftorian, in another part of the work, tells us, that his majesty took no delight in fenfual gratifications.'
APP. Rev. Vol. LXXIX.
mouth ftopped clofe. Then is thrown into a veffel two and a half feers of falt-petre, with five feers of water; and the gugglet of water is ftirred about in that mixture for the fpace of a quarter of an hour, by which time the water will be fufficiently cool."
The next chapter relates to the kitchen, and begins thus :
His majesty even extends his attention to this department, and has made many wife regulations for it. He eats but once in the course of the twenty-four hours, and he always leaves off with an appetite; neither is there any fixed time for this meal, but the fervants have always things in fuch readiness, that in the space of an hour after the order is given, an hundred difhes are ferved up. What is required for the Haram, is going forward from morning till night.'
The regulations of the kitchen are described, and the chap ter concludes with 30 receipts for dithes of various kinds, the prices of feveral forts of provifions, and catalogues of fruits, fpicery, &c.
The perfumery and the wardrobe are next defcribed, and are followed by an account of the royal library. The books are fuch as are fcarcely, if at all, known in Europe. We shall tranfcribe a few articles of the catalogue.
New aftronomical tables by Ulugh Beg.
The Mohabbarot. One of the most ancient books of the Hindoos tranflated into Perfian +.
The Ot❜horbo, which, in the opinion of the Hindoos, is one of the four books of divine authority.
The Vakiat Babery: tranflated from the Turkish into Perfian.
The defcription of the library is followed by that of the picture-gallery. After which we are conducted into the armoury.
The artillery seems to be much fuperior to any thing that we could have imagined. Some pieces of cannon,' fays the
A feer equals 30 oz. avoirdupoize.
+ Mr. Gladwin fays, this Perfian verfion, though it confifts of 2000 folio pages, is no more than an abstract of the original, and that very indifferently executed, many beautiful defcriptions and epifodes being entirely omitted. Mr. Wilkins, at the perfuafion of Mr. Haftings, has begun to make a complete tranflation of it from the original Shanfcrit, and is confiderably advanced in the work. Part of it hath already appeared in our journal, fee Rev. vol. lxxvi. p. 198, under the title of Bhagvat Geeta, which is an epifodical extract from this voluminous poem. The poem itself is affirmed to have been written above 4000 years ago, by KREESHNA DWYPAYEN VEIAS, a learned Brahmin; and it is ftill venerated by the Hindoos as divinely inspired. For farther particulars, fee the Rev. as above quoted.
The emperor BABER'S Commentaries on himfelf.
Author, are fo large as to carry a ball of 12 maunds; a convincing proof that the Hindoos were acquainted with firearms at the clofe of the fixteenth century.
The next article is the eftablifhment of the royal ftables. Here we are prefented with fome curious particulars refpecting the elephant; which animal being a native of Hindoftan, and, when tamed, much employed by the Hindoos, muft neceffarily be better known to them than to Europeans; and for that reason we may presume that ABUL FAZEL'S account is more to be depended on than thofe that have been given by travellers. The particulars are too many to be tranfcribed; we fhall therefore infert only thofe paffages which contradict the opinions of European naturalifts, or which contain facts that we do not recollect to have feen noticed by modern writers.
• The price of an elephant is from 100 to 100,000 rupees; thofe of 5000 and of 10,000 are not uncommon.
There are four kinds of elephants. Behder is that which has well-proportioned limbs, an erect head, broad breaft, large eyes, and a long tail, with two excrefcences on the forehead refembling large pearls. These excrefcences are called in the Hindovee language Guj Manick, and many properties are afcribed to them. Another kind, called Mund, has a black skin, and yellow eyes; is bold and ungovernable. That called Murg, has a whiter fkin, with moles, and its eyes are of a mixture of red, yellow, black, and white. That called Mirh has a fmall head, and is eafily brought under command; its colour is a mixture of white and black, refembling fmoke; and from mixtures of the above kinds, are formed others of different names and properties.
Formerly it was thought unlucky to allow tame elephants to breed; but his majefty has furmounted this fcruple+.
The female goes with young eighteen lunar months .-In general, an elephant has but one young at a birth; but fometimes the has two. The young one fucks till it is 5 years old, after which time it feeds on vegetables. At this age it is called Bal; at ten, it is called Port; at twenty, Bek; and at thirty, Kelbeb. It undergoes fome change at every one of these periods; and arrives at maturity in fixty years.-The natural life of the elephant is, like that of man, 120 years ||.'
*A maund equals 761b. avoirdupoize; fo that the cannon here mentioned carries a ball of 912lb. and its bore must be above 18 inches. But this piece feems inferior in fize to that belonging to the Grand Signior, mentioned by Baron de Tott: fee Rev. vol. lxxiii.
+ M. de Buffon exprefsly says, that they cannot be made to breed in a tame state.
1 M. de Buffon fays two years.
M. de Buffon fays elephants live 200 years. The Hindoos appear to be longer lived than Europeans.