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Ayeen Akbery : Or the Institutes of the Emperor Akber. Translated
from the Original Persian, by Francis Gladwin. 4to. 3 Vols. Calcutta. 1783-4-6.
T contemporary of our celebrated queen Elizabeth) was uni
contemporary versally esteemed a great and good prince * He was also fuca cessful in war, having in his reign made several conquefts, and reduced to obedience almost all the provinces of Hindoftan which bad revolted from his father, and predecessor, Hemajoon; and his political talents, together with his unremitting attention to the happiness of his subjects, are sufficiently 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 history 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 historian, who was a favourite with his sovereign, was murdered by ruffians, employed by his enemies.
Abul Fazel's history was entitled Akbernameh; to which the Ayeen Akbery is a kind of supplement. In fact, however, the latter is a complete work; it contains the emperor's regulations for every department of government; an historical and geo. graphical description of the twelve Soobahs, or Vice-royalties, of Hindoftan; and a full account of the religion of the Hindoos, their books, their several sects, and the points in which these fects differ from each other.
Such are the general subjects that are discussed in the Ayeen Akbery; and when it is considered that the book was written by a man of learning, who was perfectly acquainted with the empire (as ABUL Fazel undoubtedly must have been, both from the high office he held, and the confidence which the emperor placed in him), historians and politicians are the more obliged to Mr. Gladwin for the trouble he must have had in tranflating so voluminous and difficult a work. They ought to think themselves ftill more obliged to him, when it is also considered that Abul Fazel did not write in the style of the modern Perfic, but affected to imitate that of the earliest Persian authors after MAHOMMED ; which, as ManOMMED SHEREEF MOTAMED KHAN, an Author who wrote only 15 years after AKBER'S death, says, “is a style not only harsh and unpleasing to the ear,
* He was the fixth in descent from Tamerlane.
but such 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 withes to be possessed of an authentic account of the conftitution of the empire of Hindoftan, and of its immense resources 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 specimen of ABUL FAZEL's manner :
« In the name of the most merciful God !-O Lord! all thy mysteries are impenetrable. Unknown are thy beginning and thy end. In thee both beginning and end are loft. The name of both is lost in the mansions of thy eternity. It is sufficient that I offer op my thanksgiving, and medicate in astonishment. My ecstacy is fof. ficient knowledge of thee. He is the most commendable who ftrives to perform meritorious actions, rather than how to utter fine fpeeches; and who, by delineating a few of the wondrous works of the Cre. ator of the world, acquires immortal felicity.
* ABUL Fazel Moberek returns thanksgiving unto the Almighty, by singing the praises of royalty ; and for the instruction of those who search after koowledge and prudence, he records a few of the institutes of the lord of the world *; thus transmitting up to all ages a model of wisdom. Since the sum of his intentions is to set forth the laws of royalty, it is necessary that he speak something of its exalted dignity, and describe the conditions of those who are affiftants in the great office.'
After defining, in the most amplified manner, through fe. veral pages, the qualifications of a sovereign, he thus concludes his preface:
« Praise be unto God! The exalted monarch of our own time is so endowed with these laudable dispositions, that it is not exaggeration to say he furpaffes all the sages of antiquity. From the light of wisdom he discovers the ranks of men; and by the rectitude of his conduct, he adds splendour 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 versed in ancient history wonder how kings of former times governed without such a wise rule of conduet!'
In the first part, the Author describes 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, silver, and copper to it.
The next chapter, on the production of metals, may be recommended to alchemists; but that immediately following, on the specific gravity of metals, merits the attention of the philofopher ; who will find that the Hindoos understood as much of the subjed, as their contemporary European metallurgists, and perhaps more. Three tables are added to this chapter, the first fpecifying the quantity of water displaced by the immersion of a certain weight of each substance *; the second specifies the weight of these substances in water; and the third, their weight compared with an equal bulk of gold: but the European must lament that these tables are useless to him, as the translator has not reduced the Hindoo weights and their subdivisions, to any standard known in this part of the world, or even stated the proportion which these subdivisions bear to each other.
From these philosophical subjects, the Author proceeds to the description of the Haram, or Seraglio; a building of such an immense extent as to contain separate apartments for every one of the women, whose number exceeds five thousand. one,' says the Author, receives a salary equal to her merit. The pen cannot measure the extent of the emperor's largesses; but here fhall be given some account of the monthly ftipend of each. The ladies of the first quality receive from 1610 rue pees † 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 same observation holds good with respect to the description of the royal seals, and of the camp-equipage, if we except the following passage, relative to the method of furnishing the emperor with cold water during the encampment :
• Salt-petre, which in the composition of gunpowder, fupplies heat, his majesty has discovered to be also productive of cold. Saltpetre is a faline earth. They fill with it a perforated veffel, and sprinkle 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 silver, or any other clean metal, and the
* Eighteen different bodies are contained in each table.
+ Upwards of 200l. sterling per month, valuing the rupee at 25. 6d. exclusive of the most coltly apartments, luxurious table, and numerous attendants. These ladies appear to have been kept, in conformity to the custom of Eastern princes, merely for pomp and oftentation ; for our historian, in another part of the work, tells us, that his majesty took 'no delight in sensual gratifications. App. Rev. Vol. 1.xxix.
mouth ftopped close. Then is thrown into a vessel two and a half feers of falt-petre, with five feers of water; and the gogglet of water is stirred about in that mixture for the space of a quarter of an hour, by which time the water will be fofficiently cool."
The next chapter relates to the kitchen, and begins thus:
• His majesty even extends his attention to this department, and has made many wise 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 servants have always things in such readiness, that in the space of ao bour after the order is given, an hundred dishes are served up. What is required for the Haram, is going forward from morning till night.'
The regulations of the kitchen are described, and the chapter concludes with 30 receipts for dithes of various kinds, the prices of several sorts of provisions, and catalogues of fruits, fpicery, &c.
The perfumery and the wardrobe are next described, and are followed by an account of the royal library. The books are such as are scarcely, if at all, known in Europe. We shall transcribe a few articles of the catalogue.
New aftronomical tables by Ulugh Beg.
The Mohabhārot. One of the most ancient books of the Hindoos translated into Persian t.
The Or’borbo, which, in the opinion of the Hindoos, is one of the four books of divine authority.
The Vakiat Babery I: translated from the Turkish into Persian,
The description 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 superior to any thing that we could have imagined. Some pieces of cannon,' says the
• A seer equals 30 oz. avoirdupoize.
+ Mr. Gladwin says, • this Persian version, though it consists of 2000 folio pages, is no more than an abstract of the original, and that very indifferently executed, many beautiful descriptions and episodes being entirely omitted. Mr. Wilkins, at the persuasion of Mr. Hastings, has begun to make a complete translation of it from the original Shanscrit, and is considerably advanced in the work.' Part of it hath already appeared in our journal, see Rev. vol. lxxvi. p. 198, under the title of Bhagvat Geeta, which is an epi. sodical extract from this voluminous poem. The poem itself is af. firmed io have been written above 4000 years ago, by KREESHNA DWYPAYEN VEIAS, a learned Brahmin ; and it is still venerated by the Hindoos as divinely inspired. For farther particulars, see the Kev. as above quoted. : The emperor Baber's commentaries on himself.
Author, Author, are so large as to carry a ball of 12 maunds *; a convincing proof that the Hindoos were acquainted with firearms at the close of the fixteenth century.
The next article is the eftablifhment of the royal ftables. Here we are presented with some curious particulars respecting the elephant; which animal being a native of Hindoftan, and, when tamed, much employed by the Hindoos, must 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 those that have been given by travellers. The particulars are too many to be transcribed; we hall therefore in sert only those passages which contradict the opinions of European naturalists, or which contain facts that we do not recolled to have seen noticed by modern writers.
• The price of an elephant is from 100 to 100,000 rupees; those 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 breast, large eyes, and a long tail, with two excrescences on the forehead resembling large pearls. These excrescences are called in the Hindovee language Guj Manick, and many properties are ascribed to them. Another kind, called Mund, has a black skin, and yellow eyes; is bold and ungovernable. That called Murg, has a whiter skin, with moles, and its eyes are of a mixture of red, yellow, black, and white. That called Mirb has a small head, and is easily brought under command; its colour is a mixture of white and black, resembling smoke; 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 majesty has surmounted this fcruplet.
• The female goes with young eighteen lunar months 1.-In general, an elephant has but one young at a birth ; but sometimes ihe has two. The young one sucks 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 Powt; at twenty, Bek; and at thirty, Kelbeh. It undergoce some change at every one of these periods; and arrives at maturityin fixty years. The natural life of the elephant is, like that of man, 120 years llo'
A maund equals 761b. avoirdupoize ; so that the cannon here mentioned carries a ball of gizlb. and its bore must be above 18 inches. But this piece seems inferior in size to that belonging to the Grand Signior, mentioned by Baron de Tott: see Rev. vol. Ixxiii. p. 241.
+ M. de Buffon expressly says, that they cannot be made to breed in à came ftate.
I M. de Buffon says two years.
|| M. de Buffon says elephants live 200 years. The Hindoos appear to be longer lived than Europeans,