In the travelogue penned by Baron Charles Hugel of his tortuous, circuitous and labyrinthine route ascending the activities and descending the declivities in a hot and humid and elsewhere extremely cold climate has been poignantly and painstakingly narrated as follows:
Wednesday, January 13.-At nine o'clock, Khalifa Sahib came to conduct me to the palace. He brought with him three elephants, with European howdahs, in which a person can sit upright and stretch out his feet; a numerous escort was likewise in attendance under the commandant of Lahore. Mr. Mackeson had also received an invitation.
We entered Lahore by the south gate. When we arrived at the outer ward of the old imperial palace, the Maha Raja's officers who formed our escort, all alighted from their horses, while the elephants marched up some steps through a second gate into a garden, in an excellent state of cultivation and where I observed one of those beautiful little marble buildings, belonging to the pure taste of the Akbar dynasty. The exterior is ornamented with flowers worked in high relief in the marble, and the floor and inner walls are of pietra dura. On making some inquiries, I was told that the Maha Raja had built it, which is evidently incorrect. A more modern structure of white brick, which has an upper story, abutting on one corner of this pretty edifice, has gained for him the reputation of having built the whole. To the left of this garden, but not accessible from it, stands the great Jama Masjid of Jehanghir, with its three domes of marble. The warlike Ranjit has turned it to the best advantage, the north side of this strong building being made a portion of the city wall, and the mosque itself converted into a barrack. We proceeded through a wide gate straight before us, and opened on a small square, where a company of soldiers was drawn up, and presented arms to us. The Maha Raja was sitting in a small arm-chair with a low back, in a little pavilion; the walls were covered with gold brocade, and the floor with a large Kashmirian carpet. I had no sooner put my foot on the carpet, than he rose and received me at the entrance, taking my hand and leading me to an arm-chair close to his own. Before I had seated myself, I took a bag containing 750 rupees out of my Munshi's hands, and gave it a preliminary wave over his head from left to right, handed it to his dependants. This ceremony is considered necessary whenever the Maha Raja is ill, in order to drive away evil spirits, who have esteemed the sole cause of the royal infirmities.
My uniform had not arrived, and I had no boots with me; I had, therefore, to appear in shoes: to cross a carpet in them, is considered in India not so much an offence against the king's majesty as the English suppose, as a mark of extreme ill-breeding and rudeness, and the king himself would be considered wholly deficient in politeness, if he were to walk over the carpet of a room with his shoes on, no matter how inferior to himself the owner of the house might be. Knowing this, I left mine outside the border of the carpet. It is the English custom to offer their presents through a Munshi; but as I knew that the Maha Raja would feel flattered if I performed that ceremony myself, and I saw no degradation in it, I was determined to do so. He asked me if I had served as a soldier, to which I answered in the affirmative, upon which he questioned me about our Austrian army, and our wars with France. Mr. Mackeson was a capital interpreter. Seeing Mohan standing behind me, he inquired about him, and finding that he was mv interpreter, and that my former one, the Brahmin from Agra, had fallen ill, he desired Mohan to sit down at my feet, and inquired who he was.
Mohan told him that he was a Ghorkha, a Kshatriya, (of the military caste), and the son of a Subhedar, or captain. The Maha Raja then turned to me, and asked me whether Mohan was able to translate everything that I wished to say; and on my replying that he was, he said he would try him, and forthwith ordered the youth to ask me what I thought of his army, and whether it was in a state to encounter a European force answered that the Sikhs had long been remarkable for their bravery, and the discipline now introduced must no doubt have rendered the Quito equal to such an encounter; “With equal forces?" he asked. “Doubtless," said I. “You have seen the whole world, which country do you like best ?" “My own native land." “You have seen Kashmir, what do you think of it?" “That sickness and famino have of late years so depopulated it, that it must produce a revenue of a small amount." “I have ordered Mohan Singh to give money to the poor. Do you think that he robs me ?" “I think not." “Don't you think that I should do well to remove him from the government? he has no intellect."-"I think the Governor is a worthy man, and that you will not easily find a better. The country needs indulgence, in order that it may recover itself."
During the time this question was going on, and while Mr. Madkeson was translating it into Persian and Khalifa Sahib into the Panjábí, I took the opportunity of surveying the company. On a chair near the Maha Raja, sat Híra Singh, a youth of sixteen, the son of the favourite, Raja Dhyan Singh, the Prime Minister; all the other great officers of state were seated on the ground. Everyone had his eyes fixed on me to guess at the answers I was giving, before they were translated for the Maha Raja's information. The court colour of the Durbar is yellow or green, and the chiefs and officers were all. clothed in yellow garments of the wool of Kashmir, except Híra Singh, who wore a satin dress of light green and pink. There were also present there, Raja Suchet Singh, the brother of Dhyan and Gúlab Singh, Míyan, or Lord of Jamú; Kúshal Singh, called the Jemidar, a Brahmin, who has been converted some time since to the Sikh faith; this man was formerly a cook in the Maha Raja's household, and then a Jemidar, or Lieutenant, equivalent to the house-steward in a palace. He has retained this latter appellation, though now next to Dhyan Singh, the most powerful of Ranjit's vassals. The eldest son of the Maha Raja, Karak Singh, resides at Lahore, but is always overlooked, as his intellect is too feeble to afford any probability of his ever ruling over the scarcely united empire of the Sikhs. His son, Nihal Singh, promises to be a clever active youth, but as he is no more than fifteen, it depends much on Ranjit Singh's health, whether he will be able to consolidate a party strong enough to enable him to succeed his grand-father, in supersession of his father's right. Shír Singh and Tára Singh are twins, who have never been acknowledged by Ranjit as his sons; the former has distinguished himself as a soldier, but was found very unfit for his appointment as governor of Kashmir. He is at present in Peshawar, with the title of the governor; General Avitabile, however, has the entire direction of the affairs and administration of the country; Tara Singh is not of any importance. Kashmir Singh and Pesháwar Singh, are also called sons of Ranjit, but of them, I know nothing.
One of the great obstacles to the duration of the empire founded by Ranjit Singh, consists in the imprudence of suffering so much power to accumulate in the persons of his vassals. Gúlab Singh, for example, in Jamú, with his brothers, Dhyan Singh and Suchet Singh, possess a large district, which extends over inaccessible mountains from Atok to Narpoor in the south-east, and thence north to Ladak, besides other large estates in the Panjáb. These brothers, who are powerful in money, troops, cannon and fortresses, would. with great difficulty be brought into subjection by the arm of the feeble successors of Ranjit, and several others are similarly circumstanced. Nothing can establish this prince's dynasty firmly, éxcept an alliance with the Company, which his pride and the policy of the latter have hitherto precluded. The Maha Raja has no throne. “ My sword,” he observed, "procures me all the distinction I desire; I am quite indifferent to external pomp.”
Ranjit Singh is now fifty-four years old. The small-pox deprived him, when a child, of his left eye, whence he gained the surname of Kána, one-eyed, and his face was scarred by the same malady. His beard is thin and grey, with a few dark hairs in it: according to the Sikh religious custom, it reaches a little below his chin, and is untrimmed. His head is square and large for his stature, which, though naturally short, is now considerably bowed by disease; his forehead is remarkably broad. His shoulders are wide, though his arms and hands arc quite shrunk; altogether, he is the most forbidding human being I have ever seen. His large brown, unsteady and suspicious eye seems diving into the thoughts of the person with whom he converses, and his straight-forward questions are put incessantly and in the most laconic terms. His speech is so much affected by paralysis that it is no easy matter to understand him, but if the answer is delayed for an instant, one of his courtiers, usually the Jemidar, repeats the question. After I had been subjected to this examination for a whole hour, without one moment's intermission to put a single question in return, he turned to Mr.Vigne, and asked: “And what can you do?"To which my fellow traveller, with his usual simplicity, replied, “I can draw." The Maha Raja did not seem to comprehend how art so little esteemed by himself, could possibly occupy the time of a great white man, one of the Sahib Lóg. I now took occasion to thank him for the protection afforded me throughout his territories, which made travelling as safe under his vigorous government, as in the dominions of the East India Company. “The strict friendship between the two countries, "I added, "is a great source of satisfaction both in Hindústhan and the Panjáb." This was a remark particularly agreeable to him, and in answering his first letter, I had instinctively let fall. few flowers of oriental rhetoric on this same friendship, which procured me in a short time a most flattering epistle, enlarging on my amplifications. He now asked me,“ Who writes your letters?” I named Thakúr Dás. He praised him much, adding: “I hope Lahor will please you. Issue your commands, everything here is yours." A company of soldiers were stationed in the court, and he asked me if I would like to see them go through their maneuvers.
To this I bowed assent; he then stood up, took my left hand, and Mohan's right, and stationed himself at the entrance while the men marched past; the. The word of command was given in French, and the exercise was passed through with much precision. He begged me to excuse anything amiss. I observed that I was surprised to find his troops so proficient in European tactics. “Are the troops of your Emperor exercised in this manner?" he enquired. I answered that there was a great similarity in the discipline of all the European States, although in the Austrian army there were some essential points of difference; we, for instance, execute in three maneuvers what the French do in two. “What is your pay? "said he. I replied, that I received none, having quitted the service ten years ago, peace having deprived it of every attraction, and as none but officers on active service and invalids had any pay, I now lived on my own income. “What is the pay of an Austrian Colonel?" said he. I told him that it was less than that of an English Colonel, but that, as they have not to purchase their steps, they do in reality receive more money. ``Have you seen Lord William Bentinck?" “No; he had left Calcutta before I arrived there.” “Do you know Mr. Burns?" “Only through his works.” “Do you wish to see my troops exercise? "This, I told him, I should consider a great mark of his Highness' fayour. While the soldiers were marching about the little court, he continued his endless questions about the military resources of Austria, France, and England, and the number of disposable troops kept up by the different states of Europe. He then asked me what I meant to do with Mohan when I left the Panjáb and prepared for my return to Europe. I answered that I had not yet decided, but that I would take him with me, if he liked to go, adding that I believed he had a great wish to do so. I guessed what the Maha Raja was thinking of, and presently he said,“You can make his fortune if you will but leave him behind; send the youth to me, and I will take care of him." After we had seated ourselves again, he observed that I must be tired of answering all his questions. That,I replied, was impossible, but taking the hint to leave him, I departed, the Maha Raja accompanying me to the door. I had nearly omitted the flowery discourse of the Fakír Sahib as we went along· It began to rain, and his elephant marched close to mine.
“This will be a rainy day," said I. ``When princes meet in the garden of friendship," said the Fakír,"the water-bearers of heaven moisten the flowers, that they may give out all their perfume." I expressed my disappointment at being obliged to appear in a dark suit, on account of the non-arrival of.my uniform from Lúdiana, which I had ordered to be sent on to Lahor. He then began to tell me a long story about a tiger, who had made his appearance in a city to the terror of everybody,and how the king of the country having heard what the tiger was doing,and found that his actions were all very noble, discovered his real nature in spite of his disguise,and sending for him to : alice, recognised in the tiger a great prince. “What," said I, “ do. yi: compare me with a tiger?"-“ Under this disguise," he answered,“ your noble actions and your talent will betray you." Such, in brief, was tke meaning of his prolix tale. When we returned from this interview I desired to see something of the city, for in going to the palace, which lies in the south-west or west end,we had passed through the south gate and had seen nothing but one very uninteresting street. Throughout India one remarks the strange contrast presented by majestic buildings, round which are huddled together ruins, rubbish, and wretched huts of every description. Lahor may.claim a pre-eminence over all other cities in these contrasts. Close to the palace are mounds of dirt and pits of considerable depth, mud walls crumbled down, and unshapely heaps of stones, over which the traveller and his elephant move on wearily, coming oftentimes in this chaos of destruction on the apparition of an elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, or chíta, which the elephant passes very timidly without the slightest token of recognition. Beyond these you at length reach the bazar, where goods of great valuc are displayed,in streets which form,from one extremity to the other,a perfect slough after a heavy fall of rain; through these the luckless pedestrian is obliged to paddle, and looks in vain for a spot of dry ground on which to rest his foot, his white dress bespattered by every one passing by on horseback, and himself splashed all over from head to foot long before he gets out of the place again. Very strong and moveable awnings project over the shops, and nearly occupy the entire breadth of the narrow crooked roadway,which makes it a matter of no little difficulty to retain one's lofty position on the elephant's back,however desirable in many respects.Stulfs hung out to dry,carts with oxen,horsemen, camels,an elephant coming from the opposite direction,and an endless diversity of objects,fully engage the thought how to contrive to proceed, or get out of their way; while on the finely-carved balconies, almost within arm's length on either side,the wealthy Banyans with their painted faces and red turbans present their low obeisance occasionally,or some of the dark beauties of the place salute the traveller with a“Salam! Maha Raja!” The streets of this bazar are intricate beyond measure, and I was rejoiced to find myself once more issuing forth from another gate into the external fresh air.
On my arrival at General Ventura's house, I found a messenger of the Maha Raja's,Azíz-ud Dín, the elder brother of Khalifa Sahib, a diplomatic Minister, who informed me that the Maha Raja had been highly pleased with my visit, and hoped I should make a long stay in Lahore. He also brought me twelve baskets filled with the finest fruits of Kabúl, Kashmir,and Lahor,and 225 rupees, for the daily pay of my people. The three brothers, Azíz-ud Dín, the confidential Secretary; Khalifa Sahib,the Marshal; and the Governor of Amritsir, were often in my company; and I may observe here that the Maha Raja places great confidence in these Mohammedans, who by their talents and honourable character, seem well to deserve it. They are usually styled Fakír Sahib,and seem proud of the poverty nominally assigned to them, though they are all wealthy men. Their master, Ranjit Singh, is in every point of view so remarkable a character, for an Indian, that I have elsewhere devoted a considerable space to my description of him. The days were short, and the evening came on soon after my visitors had taken their leave. A walk in the plain by the river side and in some charming green fields occupied me till sunset.
Wednesday,January 14.-I was awakened with the intelligence that Aziz-ud Dín had been waiting for me half an hour, with a message from the Maha Raja. I quickly dressed and hurried into the apartment, when the following conversation took place, after the customary extravagant compliments. The fakír assured me, first, that the Maha Raja had never conversed with any person, whose talent had caused him so much surprise, and he wished I would consent to remain with him. He was aware that neither money nor any lucrative office could influence my actions, but as he did not wish me to reside in Lahore, and be obliged at the same time to draw any sums of money from my own country,he requested me,supposing that I did make up my mind to reside there, to accept a monthly allowance of 6000 rupees by way of compensation.
I answered, that the Maha Raja's offer was most flattering to me, and if I had been a younger man,I should certainly have accepted it; but that family reasons made me anxious to return without loss of time to my own home,and that I must be at Bombay in six weeks,or I should most likely be detained in India for another year; in other words,I should lose a year of my life. The fakír strove to persuade me to remain, but finding me resolute, ceased to importune me further, and said that he would take my answer to the Maha Raja,and thathis master had given him a list of questions to put to me,dictated by himself,which he thereupon took from his pocket and read:-
1. The Maha Raja knows you have travelled over the world; he wishes to hear what in all these countries has seemed to you most remarkable ?
I answered, that the object of my travels was manifold; my chief purpose was to make myself acquainted with the most remarkable phenomena, moral and physical, of distant countries:that as edifices, the Egyptian Pyramids and the Táj Mahal: as countries,New Holland and Kashmir: lastly and above all, the manners and customs of the Malabar coast, the greatness and power of the East India Company, the Maha Raja's ally, and more recently, the kingdom founded by Ranjit Singh,who,like a skilful architect, has formed of so many insignificant unpromising fragments,one majestic fabric, seemed to me the most wonderful objects in the whole world. The fakir wrote down my answer, with sundry Wáh! Wáh! as tokens of his amazement.
2. The Maha Raja is aware that you did not travel for profit,and that in your own country your position is honourable and important. What was your motive for travelling so far?
I answered,that my reasons were already in part explained, and that it was most difficult to make a native of the East comprehend the mind. of a European: life in India being limited to two pursuits,namely, physical or moral enjoyments through the attainment of power,which ensures the fulfilment of a man's desires; or, the hope of attaining greater happiness in another world by self-denial and holy deeds in the present. In Europe,the human mind is directed also to a third pursuit, that of scientific inquiry, which affords full occupation on subjects which to the mind of an Asiatic appear altogether unimportant. To this inclination for mental activity must be ascribed all the useful and extraordinary discoveries made by Europeans,and to this may partly be ascribed also my own wanderings, besides other reasons still less comprehensible to men of different habits. It will be well to give the Mabá Raja this answer, that my chief object was to observe the most remarkable customs of different lands,'and where such was possible to make these observations subservient to the interests of my own country.
3. The Maha Raja cannot think it possible, that you undertook such a dangerous journey,without something to protect you against disease. Probably you have brought some life-preserving medicine with you; the Maha Raja wishes to know what it is, provided such communication should not weaken the force of the spell on yourself?
Without even smiling at this question,which doubtless had occasioned all the others to be introduced,I answered,that in Europe we no longer believed in the power of particular medicines to prolong life, but·that 1 was fully persuaded I owed the preservation of my health to a medicine which I had always successfully used in two forms, either as a pill, and more promptly and efficacious in a white powder. The fakír wrote my answer down verbatim.
4. The Maha Raja is aware that Europeans are accustomed to eat a variety of food. How have you been able to obtain this necessary on your travels, and particularly,how did you contrive to get beef?
I answered that I cared very little about any particular kind of diet, and subsisted on whatever I could get; but that we had a method in Europe of preserving food in tin boxes, which was thus kept fresh for years.
5. What is the surest means of being victorious over an enemy?
In answer to this,I stated it to be my opinion that the best policy of the Panjáb state would be to keep its soldiers under the strong arm of discipline,and when the General had once brought the army to this point,that the whole mass moved like his own sword, as one spirit with ten thousand arms,he might then make quite sure of victory.
The Fakir Sahib exclaimed “ Wáh! Wáh! Wáh! Amazing! Wonderful!”and turning round, inquired of Mr.Mackeson whether this was my own idea; upon hearing that it was,he again repeated “Wáh! Wáh!" Having straightway recorded the reply in due form, he begged to take his leave, departing with a torrent of the most exaggerated oriental compliments.
I had made arrangements to remain here until I was satisfied that all my people were in Lúdiana, which place I should reach from Lahor in three days. There all my collections were to be packed up, and I intended to hire relays of bearers to convey them with all dispatch to Delhi,and thence to Bombay. To-day I heard that my people had not even arrived at Amritsar, which place, according to the route laid down for them,they ought to have reached the same day that I arrived in Lahore. From Amritsir to Lúdiana is eight marches,consequently I had to make up my mind to stay in Lahore until the 22nd,that I might not have to wait for them at Lúdiana. A deputation from the family of Mehán Singh,the Governor of Kashmir, with his son at the head of it, came today to thank me for the manner in which I had spoken of his father to Ranjit Singh. This was in reference to the Maha Raja's question, whether he ought not to remove Mehán Singh from Kashmir. As I observed, while in that province, it would be very desirable to have a more active Governor there, but the difficulty would be to replace him with a better one. Since his intentions at least are good,I told the youth,who was about thirteen or fourteen years old, that he might assure his father that I should never prejudice Ranjit Singh against him. I also had a visit from the son of the Jemidar,a General of fourteen; notwithstanding his youth, his talents, vivacity, and desire for information promised great things. The day was bitterly cold, and my fingers were almost frozen as I arranged my papers. I paced the terrace very often to warm myself in the sun's rays. In the evening we had a Nách, and the Maha Raja did not forget to send his presents,and three of his dancing girls.
Friday,January 15.-The fakír Azíz-ud Dín was here early this morning, to thank me from the Maha Raja, for my answers to his questions. According to the Eastern fashion, he repeated these thanks three times,adding also that the Maha Raja wished that I would remain for some time in Lahore ; and even if the Emperor of Austria's permission was necessary, he was quite ready to apply for it himself. At all events he hoped I should not quit Lahore for several months, and that I would organize some regiments for him according to the plan I had laid down. If it were not agreeable to me to receive regular pay, some other arrangement might be entered into between us. The earnest repetition of this offer, which at first I had taken as a mere courtesy, convinced me that the Maha Raja. was serious; and I candidly confess that I reflected for a moment on the opening now afforded to me, so far beyond my utmost expectations. Had I desired to undertake an expedition· into Central Asia, it seems it would not have been difficult for me to lead an army formed by myself in that quarter; and the various, though perhaps not profound information had acquired, would suffice to render me very useful to the Maha Raja. All things needed were at hand, money and the consent of the reigning authorities: by one man's efforts, civilization might be mightily advanced. But then the image of my mother, aged and expecting my. return to her, would obtrude itself. I therefore repeated my thanks, adding,that the Maha Raja might have assured that nothing but considerations of the most pressing importance would have induced me to deeline his proposals. The fakír now informed me, that my answers yesterday had given him so high an idea of my penetration, that he had charged him to ask my advice respecting his health. I replied that I could not but be highly flattered, and though no physician,that I had, like most intelligent Europeans, occasionally turned my attention to the science of medicine. The Maha Raja was suffering, as I have said, from a paralysis, which appeared to me, from his general appearance, not so much the consequence of a ruined constitution, as the effect of a temporary state of illhealth. I expressed this opinion to the fakir,and questioned him as to the condition of his health prior to the attack. He informed me that on a very sultry day,just before the rainy season set in,which in the past year was preceded by heats which were unusually great, the Maha Raja had ridden the whole day on horseback,and had greatly exhausted and overheated himself. With his usual carelessness with regard to food he took nothing that day but water melons, of which he partook very freely. A heavy storm fell in the afternoon, the rain poured down in torrents,and the piercing wind from the mountains of Kashmir suddenly lowered the temperature to a degree inconveniently cold. The Maha Raja rode for a long time,and at a foot's pace through this storm, until he reached a hut. There,however,the walls afforded him little protection against the wind, and he sat in his wet clothes, the draughts of air penetrating to him,and of course contributing to chill his frame. He did not reach his tent until nightfall, and nothing could persuade him to take any medicine, or use any sort of remedy· A violent pain in the stomach occasioned him very disturbed sleep; and when he would have called for assistance,his tongue felt heavy in his mouth, and hefound his left hand quite powerless. When a servant came and saw him in this state, he called immediately for Azíz-ud Dín, who found him with his face much drawn up,and next to speechless. I could not understand what means were employed to restore him,but according to the Hindú custom,musk was probably administered in large doses. He was brought back to Lahor,and became something better,and Dr. M·'Grgor being called in from Lúdiana, he was placed under his care.
He can now mount his horse ngain, but the motion is painful to him, and causes the hesitation in his speech to increase perceptibly: his eye has also suffered, and is still distorted, giving a stranger an idea that the Right is quite gone. If he wishes to examine any object, he brings it within two inches of his eye in an oblique direction, but at the distance of eight or ten paces he can guess the thoughts by the expression of the face. This account confirmed in my opinion that the evil was not so deeply seated as is usual in such cases. Azíz-ud Dín requested me to write a prescription for the Maha Raja. I inquired as to the regimen he pursued, and found it a most pernicious one; for though what he ate was simple enough, and not too much in quantity, he drank spirits in ruinous draughts. He gave me the receipt for a brandy prepared for him, in which were the strongest sauces compounded from the flesh of every kind of animal, beef excepted,pearls and jewels, musk,opium, plants of various kinds,all mingled together into a beverage,which must be nearly as strong as alcohol itself. This devil's drink I had myself tasted the evening before,and found the flavour good enough, but the following morning my spirits were exceedingly depressed. I asked whether he often drank of this royal wine, as it is called here, and he said ycs,but that the Maha Raja had desired him to inquire what I thought of it. I answered, that I considered it a most noxious potation, not improbably the cause of his last attack of illness ; but as he had been in the habit of drinking it for many years, I considered that it would be very hazardous to leave it off suddenly, and likely to produce an alarming prostration of strength. The fakír told me that Dr. M·Gregor had forbidden the liquor altogether, but that the Maha Raja, while obeying the prescription, had been so enfeebled, that he had taken to it again. The fakír asked me how much I thought he could drink without injuring his health, but I confessed my inability to specify any quantity. One wine glass had been a powerful dose in my own case, but. as the Maha Raja had accustomed himself to a larger allowance, perhaps this might do to begin with. The less he took,however, the better. Ranjit also wished to. have some of the medicine I had spoken of as having bought and used; for,whatever I might say, it was evident that I must consider it as a life preservative, or I should never be so foolish as to hazard my existence for no other purposé than the mere gratification of curiosity. I knew that I could not persuade either Ranjit or the fakír that J had nothing like an elixir of life, and therefore answered, that I had sent my stock with my servants to Lúdiana,except a few pills, but that I would send for it thence, and in the meantime, the little I had, was at the Maha Raja's service.
He then wanted some of the hermetically sealed provisions, but of these I had none remaining. I gave him half a dozen blue pills, the last I had, and Mr. Vigne produced a packet of calomel. I explained the dose to him. The fakír then informed me that the Maha Raja had ordered a review to take place that day,which he hoped I would attend; that at noon a salute of artillery would give notice that he had left his palace,and Khalifa Sahib would then come to escort me. I told the fakír I should be ready to accompany his brother, and he requested my permission to withdraw,taking his leave with a profusion of compliments. Long before.twelve the fakír arrived with three elephants,twovaluable richly clad horses, palankeens, &c. I preferred mounting the elephant's back,for the dust on horseback, or in the palankeen,surrounded by a party of forty or fifty horsemen, would have been quite intolerable. General Ventura rode on horseback,and as the salute was fired, Mr. Mackeson and I took our seats in one howdah,the fakír and Mr. Vigne in another, when we proceeded by the outer walls of the city,by the splendid building, formerly the mosque of Jehanghir,and through a gate which led to the entrance of the palace, with its small fort guarding it, on to the large exercising ground. The warmth of the sun and the opening spring, had given the country the most enchanting appearance; the inimitable green of the earliest Indian vegetation adorned the plain,which was thinly scattered with trees now in blossom; these trees being planted in the European taste,together with a number of pleasure houses here and there visible down to the banks of the Rávi,combined together to produce a scene most beautifully diversified. The whole neighbourhood is intersected by canals,which preclude the assemblage of any vast concourse, and it now presented to my gaze, the most brilliant, magnificent, and imposing spectacle which I had ever beheld in my life. Before I proceed to describe the living actors in the scene, I may be allowed to say a few words more on the inanimate features. And first, as we approached towards the city, were seen
those picturesque and beautiful buildings erected by Jehanghir,for the winter residence of the empress, and executed with the lavish profusion of a
man,who had only to will, and forthwith to show before her whom he loved a perfect world of treasures. Jehanghir built this splendid palace because Lahor was a favourite residence of Núr Jehán: the walls are chiefly of marble, and the different buildings tower one above the other in the form of an amphitheatre. Ranjit Singh has added to it other buildings not less extraordinary or expensive, though in very bad taste. Even this inconsistent work of modern times, corresponding as it does with the uncultivated taste of the suddenly raised Lord of the country,serves to bring out the background,formed of palaces built in the noblest styles. A view of the facades to the west, and the light thrown on them at this hour, mingled with deep masses of shade,formed one of the most enchanting and picturesque sights that it is possible to imagine. Vigne was in raptures, and I urged him not to let a single day pass while he remained at Lahore,without committing
to paper some part of this splendid picture, which it would require several days to complete.
Meanwhile we.had arrived at the scene of the review. Several regiments of infantry were drawn up in Jine,having on the right wing two batteries of horse artillery. These began marching upon us,and our elephants were, as nearly as possible, caught by the wheels of the gun-carriages, the clumsy animals having placed themselves in the way,and all the exclamations of the Mahúts were ineffectual to coax them out of their customary step. When we got within thirty paces of the Maha Raja's open tent, the elephants wereordered to kneel down; this tent was of yellow Kashmir shawl stuff, supported on columns of silver, the inside was covered with a large carpet, another being spread without. Both were the produce of Kashmir. Several other tents were pitched behind the royal tont. Banjit Singh himself was seated in the European manner in a plain chair, and by him was Raja Hira Singh; the first was dressed in a simple riding-dress, while the latter was clad in white muslin and pink satin, with bracelets of diamonds, pearls, and other jewels; hia accoutrements, turban, and other habiliments were covered with the most expensive stones. Kíshal Singh,the Jemidar, and RajaSúshet Singh, were the only state officers present. The last,a very fine distinguished man, wore a black and gold enamelled helmet with the visor open, and ornamented with three large black herons' feathers.
His dress was a green robe of Kashmir shawl,trimmed with red, over which he wore a shirt of mail of glittering steel; an armlet inlaid with gold was fastened on his right arm. The Maha Raja rose up, came to the end of the carpet, and received me with a clasp of the hand,leading me to an arm chair placed beside his own. Mr.Mackeson and Vigne sat near me,and Mohan stood behind Ranjit's chair. The troops consisted of some regular infantry; they wore red jackets, and carried matchlocks; they marched by in order. But what particularly attracted me,.was the sight of the Maha Raja's favourite horses,drawn up between the tent and the troops,twenty-five or thirty in number. The breed in the Panjáb is very peculiar, and not unlike that of Spain,but with straighter noses. The animals are large, and their movements are very gentle; they may be trained to execute the most graceful curvettings,and the Sikhs value them according to their proficiency in their movements. But I suspect that they have not much spirit,owing to the state of repose in which they are habitually kept, being from their very birth consigned to the care of a groom,and fastened by means of two ropes round the head, and two on the hind feet, to small pegs. In this manner their life is passed in the open air', and they are very rarely mounted. Many are born white. To the artist, who is not a painter of horses, these animals present a beautiful appearance,with their small bones.flowing mane and tail, and their
Proud and fiery action, and lofty heads. The passion of Ranjit Singh for horses has passed into a proverb in the East. The bridle, saddle, and other ornaments of these creatures are most costly. The first is overlaid with gold or enamel, and at the top of the head, or else on either side, waves a plume of heron's feathers; strings of jewels are hung round the neck, under which are the Sulimans, or Onyx stones, very highly prized on account of the superstition attached to them.
The saddle is also of enamel or gold, covered with precious stones, the pommel being particularly rich. The housings are of Kashmir shawl, fringed with gold; the crupper and martingale ornamented very highly, and on cach side of the favourite usually hangs the tail of the Tibetan yák,dyed of various hues; the saddle, moreover, is covered with a velvet cushion. After a profusion of compliments,theMaha Raja poured out a torrent of questions of every kind, and it became quite evident to me, that he was throwing off gradually a preconceived idea that my entire journey had him for its object, and that though I might not have intended to enter his service,I was bound on some commission either open or mysterious in its nature. I usually availed myself of Mr.Mackeson's complaisant offer to be my interpreter,and this must have assured him very soon that I had no designs of that nature. He rarely spoke of India or the English territories there,but chiefly asked my opinion of his own country, his army, the European officers in his service,and the designs of foreign countries and very distant lands of which he had hitherto heard nothing. Nor did he omit some very odd questions about my own circumstances; for instance,whether I belonged to the caste of the Raja or the Wazír? Each question was conveyed in the fewest words possible,and one followed upon another in such rapid succession that it seemed as though his mind required continual nourishment; that he did not wish for any details, but simply a reply. In this spirit I framed my answers to them, and as I had those answers already at hand,I took care not to delay a moment in uttering them. Short sentences and quick replies are likewise especially needful wherever an interpreter is used,to prevent a conversation becoming intolerably tiresome. He asked me at last whether I should like tosee the horses nearer, and on my request to do so,he rose and took my hand,walked out of the tent,and ordered them to be led up one after the other. A pommel of one. of the saddles struck me as particularly worthy of enk, having to ruby two inches square bearing on it the name of Jehanghir. Dow, in his History of Hindustan, tells hnt when Jehangir Iad his name engraved on this beef is the celebrated Empress Núr Jehán told him that she thought it a to which he answer,This jewel wll more assuredly hand down my mme to posterity than any written history. The House of Timár may fill, but as long as there is a king, this jewel will have its price." Many other names are now engraved on it, the best known being Abmed Shah's, who found it in the famous peacock throne (Takht-i. Táís),made by Shah Jehán in 1635, at Agra. This stone was stolen from Timúr in the year 1398, at Delhi, and Jehanghir repurchased it. Ranjit Singh told me he had received a splendid pair of pistols from Lord Amherst, and desired that they might be brought. His people searched in various holsters without finding them,until he called out and named the horse on which they were eventually found, a proof of his good memory,and of the bad regulation of his stables. The pistols are studded with gold, and set in bad diamonds; but Ranjit Singh seemed very proud of having received them,as a present from Lord Amherst,and said to me,“When you get home, send me a pair of pistols from your country,"which I promised,and,God willing,will not forget to do. As we returned to the tent,I told him I had not seen the most celebrated of his horses,and on his asking which that was, I named Láilí, which had made his name almost as well known in Europe as the foundation of his extensive dominion had done. He promised that I should see it on the morrow. As we seated ourselves he went on:“I was sure you would like to see the famous diamond. Will you look at it now ?" for they had brought before us four shields, on which was laid the most superb assortment of jewels; but the celebrated Kohi-núr, or Mountain of light, the largest diamond in the world,attracted my admiration above all. It is of the shape and size of a hen's egg, exquisitely white, and brilliant beyond description. It is set in an armlet, having a diamond on either side, for which the Nahá Raja told me he gave 130,000 and 100,000 rupees (1,000l. And 10,000l,) in Amritsar. Both of these had belonged to Shah Shújah. The history of the Kohianr deserves to be related, showing as it does the character of Ranjit Singh, if not to advantage, at least so truly that it will be worthwhile to devote a few words to it in the chapter dedicated to him. Ranjit put this treasure into my hand so that I might examine it more narrowly, and I must confess that the thought of the enormous value set by fancy on this single jewel caused me much deep reflection. How many thousand poor families might be made happy for the price at which this diamond was estimated! In an instant I looked on it as something of more than earthly value, as the means of happiness; but it could only bless by being parted with,and then it would become so much dead capital in the hands of another; its existence only becoming really valuable while it is being transferred from one to another party, like a bank-note or a bill of exchange. Perhaps, as kings of every age have taken delight in the accumulation of treasures, it is well that they hoard precious stones instead of keeping away gold from the trade and prosperity of their kingdoms, for that is distributed without diminution of its value. This idea brought me to a comparison between jewels, which require a connoisseur and admirer to prize them at their real worth; and gold, which has an intrinsic worth to all men: these in their respective value appeared to me to resemble the nobler gifts of genius and talent. How. few can estimate the former, while talent is recognized by all. Ranjit Singh was much pleased with my long examination of this treasure, and roused me from my reverie by asking me how I liked it. He then pointed with gratified vanity to each particular stone, and gave me its history, particularly that of the great emerald, which in the above-named peacock throne of Delhi, formed the body of a parrot. Thirty elephants, gaily dressed out, now passed by. The largest, of an immense size, and named Sardarji, had been lately sent to Ranjit by the King of Nepal,and was ornamented with a splendid gilt howdahand crimson velvet cushions. Red velvet housings fell as low as his knees,trimmed with a gold border and fringe. The long tusks were cut at the end,as is the case with all tame elephants; but this deficiency was supplied by tops of silver gilt,united by a golden chain. Round his ankles were heavy gold bangles,such as the Hindus wear, curiously wrought? The price of this elephant'sornaments,according to the Maha Raja's account,was 130,000 flooring. The animal was quite black,except the face and trunk,which were painted with various colours.
Unluckily, however, his pedigree is ignoble; he does not carry his head high,and instead of feeling proud of his finery,or playing with his chains,he behaves like a plebeian decked out in a court suit. The Maha Raja told me that he had 101 elephants,the same number that attends the Governor-General whenever he travels; 1000 saddle horses for his own use,27,000 for his infantry; for the troops in armour 15,000;for the cavalry 27,000;apprehending that I might not have fully understood him, he went over his story again,which I learnt afterwards was strictly correct. He then told me that he thought I should like to see some of his finest tents,and that he had ordered them to be pitched. I accordingly visited them while he remained seated. Some were made of the wools of Kashmir, others of stuff woven with silver threads,and I observed that one had a border of pearls, but there were none of any considerable size. A Kashmir shawl was laid down as a carpet for everyone. When I returned from my inspection,horses were led up for our use, so that we might see the troops to advantage; the seat on one of these inestimably costly saddles is very uncomfortable to a European. Ranjit Singh was quickly on the back of his steed, his shield at back, his like a common Sikh, and his face half hidden by the lower part of the turban which was wrapped over his chin. As we rode towards the troops,we were saluted by the most barbarous and discordant band of music, so every musician sounded his instrument as loudly as possible, and no two sounded them in tune. It was lucky for my ears that the drums exceeded them all in loudness,and in front of these the Maha Raja took his station.
I never heard so horrible a noise before, and with much difficulty repressed my inclination to laugh outright, it did seem such utter folly to stand where I did, instead of taking to instant fight with my hands to my ears; but I suppressed my own feelings on the occasion as well as I could, and looked straight before me until at a signal from the Maha Raja, the unearthly din ceased. He then turned to me, his features plainly saying,"There,1 am sure you never expected that; you had no idea how great proficients we arc in European harmony." He inquired what I thought of his music, and as the reader may suppose, I said it was surprisingly good. After we had passed the lines, the men presented arms, and the commanding officer dropped his sword. The Maha Raja inquired for Sultan Mohammed Khan. He was told by one of his suite, that he had been waiting for some time; presently he appeared with his son on foot, and was presented to me by the Maha Raja in this style:-
“This is Sultan Mohammed Khan, the Sirdar of Pesháwar, and brother of Dost Mohammed Khan. At this time I am giving him three lakhs of rupees as Jaghir." Sultan Mohammed Khan is about thirty-six years of age, and was clothed according to the fashion of Kabúl,in long garments of gold brocade, and a. yellow shawl wound as a turban about his head. He made a low bow,without uttering a single word,and thus ended the introduction. Sultan Mohammed Khan was one of the fifty brothers of Fatih Khan, the Wazír of Mohammed Shah,who conquered the kingdom of Kabúl for his master, which was occupied by Shah Shúja, the brother of Mohammed Shah. Mohammed Shah, however,put Fatih Khan to death, and thereby lost his throne, the brothers of Fatih Khan immediately breaking out into open rebellion,and dispersing themselves in every part of the kingdom. The most powerful of them is Dost Mohammed Khan, who lives in Kabúl. Two of these brothers have already felt the power of Ranjit's arms, viz., Jabar Khan,who had appropriated to himself Kashmir,and Yár Mohammed in Pesháwar; the first was forced to quit the country where he had taken up arms ; the last, unable to defend himself against the men of his own faith, the savage Juff Yusufzei, dwelling in the mountains north of Pesháwar, entered into terms with Ranjit Singh, by which, in return for protection given him against these enemies, he became his vassal. When Yar Mohammed died,General Ventura was in Pesháwar, whither he had gone to receive the horse, his tribute to the sovereignty of Ranjit Singh,and he obeyed the command of the Maha Raja to put the deceased's brother, Sultan Mohammed Khan,in possession of Pesháwar. Disturbances,however,broke out quickly, and Sultan Mohammed Khan favoured them,in order to get from Ranjit Singh something in exchange for his resignation of Pesháwar.
The fact is, that Pesháwar is on the borders of his eldest brother's, Dost Mohammed Khan's territory, and during the latter war of Ranjit Singh against him, the theatre of operations was precisely in the neighbourhood of Pesháwar,rendering the position of Sultan Mohammed Khan,obliged, though a brother and a Mohammedan, to join the standard of Ranjit Singh,one of peculiar difficulty. In return for the resignation of Pesháwar, of which he took immediate possession. Ranjit amused Sultan Mohammed Khan with promises for a long time; and it is but this very day, that Mohammed Khan,after incessant exertions, has obtained a territory,which brings him in a revenue of about three lakhs of rupees. Perhaps, but for my arrival, he would have had to wait still, for the recompense was given to-day, with theevident design of displaying the greatness and generosity of Ranjit Singh before foreign visitors. Having stationed ourselves in front of the battalions and the artillery, the exercises and maneuvers began, the firing being veryregular. The men loaded and fired five times in the minute. An accident then occurred, which was truly original in its nature. The elephants, carrying different persons of the suite, stood in front of the guns. After the first firing, they began to show great symptoms of inquietude, and spreading wide their legs, they trembled all over, and roared in a frightful manner. Presently, in spite of the blows given them by the driver in the face, the Ankush causing the blood to follow at every stroke, they wheeled about, and rushed over the plain in all directions, with their tails distended, and trunks lifted high up in the air,putting the assembled multitude to instant flight. The maneuvering was very indifferent, and consisted chiefy in firing off a quantity of blank cartridges. When the troops had marel hard nwny, I took my rukhsar, or leave, of the Maha Raja, and returned to the house highly delighted with the brilliant spectacle I had witnessed,which in originality, splendour of costume, and the addition of the beautiful natural scenery, surpassed anything of the kind I had ever witnessed during the last twenty years of my life.
On my return, I found letters from India,with good wishes for my safo journey,and an invitation from Captain Wade,inviting me to Firozpoor,and thence to travel with him to Lúdiana. Fírozpoor was in a Sikh state, on the left shore of the Setlej, but has lapsed to the East India Company lately,in consequence of the demise of the last possessor without direct heirs. The captain had been sent to take possession of it, Mr. Mackeson having been despatched to Lahor, to settle some differences which had arisen in consequence of Ranjit Singh claiming Fírozpoor as his property. I would have accepted the invitation gladly,as a means of taking me more speedily to Lúdiana, but then I should have missed seeing both Gobindgarh and Amritsir, which lie on the direct road between Lahor and Lúdiana. I therefore declined the offer, with suitable acknowledgments. In the afternoon Fakír Khalifa Sahib came with another message from the Raja. He inquired, frst, whether the review had not fatigued me, to which I answered, that the last five years had pretty well hardened me against fatigue,and that I had brought away with me an impression of surprise at the splendour of Ranjit Singh's court. He then said that the Maha Raja had desired him to request me to give him some of the medicine I always carried about with me, if it were not asking too great a favour, for he had learned that the powder was sent yesterday by Mr. Vigne, and not by myself. I promised to let him have some as soon as I should get back to Lúdiana. He told me that the Maha Raja had given a dose of the pills in the morning to one of his officers, who had not as yet been sensible of any effect from them. I answered that the mildness of the remedy would perhaps only occasion a slight feeling of improvement, and that if the officer were already in good health, he might not be sensible of any change, whatever.
I omitted to mention before that Ranjit had consulted me in the morning about his own state, complaining of weakness in his right side. His pulse was natural for an old man. I inquired whether the skin was insensible, and hearing that such was the case, I advised him to have some powerful ointment rubbed into it, to excite and invigorate the powers. He then complained of his tongue, over which he has not perfect command, and which feels at the root hardened like wood. I cheered him with the hope that this proceeded from want of activity in the muscles,and would be remedied when the side was irritated. In proof of his courtesy,I may add here that while at the review, a plate with about a dozen of the grapes of Kabúl, was brought to him. He asked my permission to eat them; and the manner in which the question was interpreted, made me suppose that in consequence of my advice as to his diet, he was asking my medical opinion. I said, therefore,that I did not think a few grapes could hurt him, He saw where the mistake had arisen, and quickly added,“ An invalid must ask pardon whenever he does anything disallowed." I had omitted to take a present with me on my first interview,a compliment expected from every visitor, for I could find nothing that I thought likely to be at all valued. General Ventura gave me an opera glass to-day,and I filled an ornamented silver inkhorn, which shut fast with an India rubber stopper, with some “bouquet du Roi." These I carried to him, recommending the last as a remedy for the headache. But the first attracted his attention directly, and he looked through it at the troops. His eye was too weak,however, to enable him to make any use of it. In the evening we had the dancers again, and among them was a girl of thirteen, who amused us a good deal with her jokes,at the
expense of Mr. Forni, who sat there with his grey beard and his foraging-cap,caring nothing about us, or the jets mostly levelled at his beard, and which his bad sight only allowed him to understand very imperfectly. There were also some dancers of the Maha Raja's, and they drank an incredible quantity of spirituous liquors, without becoming intoxicated. It is singular, how much of the strongest brandy these girls will swallow, without any effect; the fact is, they are so completely deadened by their course of life, that they seem no longer alive to any excitement.
Saturday, January 16.-The Maha Raja sent this morning to say that if I would not remain in Lahore altogether, he hoped at least that I would not go away before the Húli, which falls about the end of February,and draws to Lahor every dignitary of the empire in all their glory. The Húli is a festival celebrated in honour of the god Krishna by Hindús of all classes,and with the wildest sports and dissipation. I had heard throughout Hindústhan of the splendour with which it is always kept at Lahore, and was therefore sorry to miss the chance of seeing it. The fakír came back in two hours, and told me that as the Maha Raja thought I must be curious to see the festival, he would send the dancing girls with everything necessary,to show me the manner of its celebration. I expressed my obligations;General Allard's garden was fixed on as the locality,and it was agreed we. should meet at one o'clock. At the appointed hour we repaired to the spot,theMaha Raja having already sent everything necessary, not forgetting silver and gold tinsel. This Hindú festival, as I have said, is in honour of Krishna, and represents the manner in which he and his beloved Sita, with their companions,amused themselves. A quantity of Singhára meal dyed yellow,green, red, and blue, is put into large baskets, and mixed up with little pieces of gold and silver tinsel, a number of large pots of water dyed with the same colours, and little water-engines being set near. Every one appears in white garments, and the festival commences, by the dancing girls sitting down, and breaking forth into a song in honour of the feast. The baskets. of coloured meals are then introduced,and thin glass balls full of Singhara powder are distributed to the assembly,which they throw at each other,and being broken with the slightest force discharge their contents on the white dresses, and stain them. Like all games of this description, these begin gently,but soon assume a rougher aspect, each player seizing as many balls as he can, and Hinging them at one another. When the glass balls are exhausted, they take the coloured meal, first, as much as the fingers can hold, then by handfuls, and at last they empty the baskets over each other's heads, covering the whole person. The dirtiest part of the omnertainment consists in the sprinkling with the coloured waters. In great houses the Húli is often held in the Zenana, and on those occasions the women are allowed to be present. Spirits are drunk, and the amusements are then carried far beyond our European ideas of propriety, but the Hindu thinks no harm of them. In General Allard's garden, built by himself, is a pretty little building: The eagle and Napoleon's flag are displayed on every wall, and here and there are figures representing the soldiers who served under him. In the upper story are a few rooms, adorned with mirrors, and set apart for the females of his family. Before the main building is the tomb of his young daughter, a singular but durable monument, in the Mohammedan taste, but embellished with the cross, the sign of the father's faith, while the style of the tomb shows the mother's. In the evening the dancers who had performed the Húli all came: they are always carried about in Gárís, or covered vehicles drawn by oxen, and usually escorted by a party of armed police, whom they pay for fear of being robbed of the costly jewels with which they are usually decked. To a European's eye there is nothing more singular than one of these processions. going or returning.
Sunday, January 17.-The Shalimár garden is one of the sights of Lahor. There are three famous gardens of this name. One at Delhi, the original from which the others are copied,and which cost,they say, ten millions of forints ; a second at Lahore, made by Núr Jehán; and the third and most celebrated of all, at Kashmir,laid out by Jehanghir. Having a leisure day,I begged General Ventura to lend me his carriage to take me there; and accompanied by his brother-in-law Mr. Dubuignon, and Vigne,I set off. The garden is five miles from the city, and the road to it carries one past serais, palaces, and ruins, so numerous and extensive, that they must be seen to be believed. In Europe, the sight of aruin creates in the mind a feeling of curiosity and surprise, imagination is set to work,and we retrace the strange existence of the former!y perhaps passed within the walls. The reason is, that ruins are not often seen there, and they carry us back to bygone days and the traditions of
history. In India, their grant numbers make us pass thousands without any emotion. True, scarcely any of them, except those belonging to the pre-Mohammedan times, are without a history, and the Hindú ruins are stored with the most fanciful of legends; but their number, and sometimes their modern date, interests the spectator otherwise than with us. There may be inhabitants of Lahor now living, who have seen most of those buildings, whose walls are now crumbling in unshapely masses, in their day of pride: here the mind has to reflect on the fallen greatness, the rapidity of time's destructiveness, the swift departure of men and their works; while we, in Europe, look on ruins which are monuments of an age of power, to which nobler and better things have succeeded. Some bold emirences start up from this chaos of ruins, and interrupt the monotony of the plain. Not that nature has had anything to do with them, whatever their height or extent may be; they owe their existence to the burning of bricks, and a view of the numberless ruin. edifices constructed with this material at once accounts for their appearance here. Near them is a crowd of new palaces, built in the worst taste, the largest of which, belonging to Kripa Rám,(not the former governor of Kashmir,) looks over the midst of this scene of desolation, like a house of cards built in the Colosseum of Rome. Four miles from Lahor the road to the Shalimár leads through the Serái of Núr Jehán, a large building like a fortress, but now entirely in ruins. The Shalimár is a large building, for the entire garden, about a mile and a half long and a quarter of a mile broad, is in fact an edifice, and not a pleasure ground. The entrance of the building, which is constructed of fine marble, is the prettiest part of it, and is at present occupied by the family of a poor gardener. From this spot the ground falls, and at a quarter of a mile further on is a large reservoir, which is nearly as extensive as a lake. Close to it are several buildings huddled together,some tasteful enough; indeed, the whole might well have served as a model for the pleasure gardens of the age of Louis XIV. The Shalimár is well kept,and many very fine fruits, particularly the Santareh oranges, thrive abundantly. Ranjit Singh frequently passes a day or two in this place. The Máli laid a beautiful basket of fruit at my feet I promulgated the garder in all directions, and the buildings in like manner; determined to have a brisk walk, for my present inactivity, after the constant exercise I had been long accustomed to, caused me sensations of great disquiet, and was even painful to me. In this garden Núr Jehán was wont to hold yearly fairs, where
pleasure became madness. A straw hut, built by Ranjit Singh, has a strange appearance in the midst of so much that breathes of royal magnificence. As we came back I expressed my wish to see General Ventura's garden. The road is dreadful, being over the ruins of the old city, which extended in this direction, from the ancient citadel, the present city, four or five miles in a semi-circle round the Ráví. Large as Lahor is at present, it must formerly have been at least ten times as extensive. We reached the garden with some trouble, a Sikh General having taken a fancy to the place, had pitched his tent there, and his horses prevented Our carriage from getting near the gate. The garden is prettily situated; the entrance-hall in the first division is large and handsome; the rooms in the second, or the Zenána, are also pretty; but Jacquemont indulged his fancy very largely, when he wrote that this was one of the fairy palaces of the Thousand and One Nights. We rode back for a mile along the city wall, and when not far from home, I described a black fakír dancing with his guitar, and singing praises to Govind Singh. He was standing on a lofty terrace before a handsome tomb, in which he had taken up his abode. His long black robe was lined with red; a black and white belt with astrological signs hung from his right shoulder across the left side, and a high magic cap completed his fantastic array. He had a circle of female auditors. I alighted from the carriage to view this novel spectacle somewhat nearer, and was surprised at the manner in which he danced to the melody of a very fine voice. On my return home, I found the Fakír Sahib waiting for me, with a request from Ranjit Singh that I would give him a testimonial. After some trouble, I made out that he wanted a writing, in which I was to congratulate both the Maha Raja and the Company on the strict friendship existing between them, and acknowledge the handsome reception given to myself. I could not help laughing at the idea, and asked the fakir what possible use such a testimonial from an insignificant foreigner, who had nothing to do with the English Government, could do to Ranjit Singh. Nevertheless, without waiting for any further request, I promised to draw up something of the kind, and take high opinion of it on the following morning, whon ho was to return. In the evening we had a nách again, and entertainment which has no attractions for me, but which they think necessary for the proper reception of every stranger. Mr.Mackeson started this evening for Fírozpoor, taking with him some letters for me for my European correspondents. I saw him depart with much regret. He is a very amiable, prudent man, and I foresee that my intercourse with Ranjit Singh will not be carried on so easily without him. Monday, January 18.-I rose early to draw up the paper for Ranjit Singh, and after pondering a little, I wrote down as follows, but, before I had it translated into Persian, I intended to show it to Ventura and the fakír. “When I left my own country to visit the different kingdoms of the world, I made every inquiry how far it would be possible for me to travel. The kingdoms of Lahor and Kashmir, so little known to Europeans, were peculiarly interesting to me. I had heard of the great Maha Raja of Lahor, who, living in peace and amity with the English East India Company, protected travellers with his power, and received them with distinction at his court,much spoken of in Europe. In consequence of my information, I journeyed to Hindústhan, and finding that the friendship between the two powers was much stronger than I had believed, I asked and obtained the Maha Raja's permission to visit Kashmir. Throughout my journey I was loaded with kindness by the Maha Raja; but I was chiefly impressed by the evident confidence and good understanding subsisting between the Company and the Maha Raja, which is for the happiness of the world, and, like the tree of life, protects and gives security to the whole of India." When the fakír Ame, Ventura translated these words to him. He said that the Maha Raja would like to hear something more about the great friendship·between the two countries, and would be pleased to have it written in English by my own hand, so that the Persian translation might be made on the same page. I then wrote these lines:-
“Previously to leaving my own country with the intention of visiting foreign kingdoms,I made inquiries how far a European might be able to penetrate,and hope to enjoy the protection of the sovereigns ruling over them. The kingdom of the Panjáb and Kashmir had particular attractions and interests for me as being, especially the latter,countries little seen by,and still less known to the inhabitants of the western world. In Europe,I had heard of the most powerful Maha Raja of Lahor, who, living in peace and friendship with the Company Sirdar, not only afforded protection to travellers visiting the Panjáb, but received them with distinction at his court. Upon my arrival in Hindústhan, the accounts which I had heard in the course of my travels, of the friendship subsisting between the two governments were not only confirmed, but proved to me to be much stronger than I had even imagined. Thus encouraged,I asked and obtained the permission of the Maha Raja to go to Kashmir, and afterwards to present my respects to his Highness at Lahore. From the Maha Raja I experienced not only the protection and munificence ·becoming a great king, but his kindness
has left a. lasting impression upon me. This as the first Austrian who had ever visited these countries, was particularly gratifying to my feelings, and it was with equal surprise and pleasure, that I observed the close and unreserved friendship established between the Maha Raja and the British government, which happily spreads its branches over the whole of Hindústhan and the Panjáb, and will every day acquire strength and solidity."
The last words "and will" were added at the urgent request of the fakír. The whole looked rather strange to me, and if it should ever be found among Ranjit's papers, will not be very easily understood. Perhaps the testimonials which were asked of me by all his subordinates, from the governor of Kashmir down to the most humble Thanadar, were sent to him for the purpose of keeping them for a similar motive. To gratify his childish whim, I wrote this in English in my best manner, and allied to it my large European seal. The fact is, that time hangs heavy on Ranjit Singh's hands; he has always been accustomed to visit all parts of his dominions on horseback, which exercise is now painful to him. Nor can he amuse himself any longer in the Zenána, his feeble health preventing him from occupying his leisure hours with the trifling diversions of the women. Not being able to turn to any mental recreation, he is forced to seek amusement, therefore, from external sources, for the speculations of thought have no charm for him, and to seek amusement in reading, or in being read to, is a thing quite unheard of in India.
I informed the Fakír Sahib to-day, of my wish to leave Lahor on the 20th, and to take three days for my journey to Lúdiana. From Kopartela, the second day's resting-place, I had my dhák arranged by Captain Wade, that is, I had bearers ready at the appointed stations in such relays, that I should make one day's journey of several. General Ventura was to take me to Amritsir in his carriage, and I desired to be furnished by the Maha Raja with elephants to convey me. from Amritsir to Kopartela. The fakír said that he would acquaint Ranjit with my wishes, and that it would take four days to
arrange the matter. In the Panjáb every thing is transacted through Ranjit's orders, and nothing can be done without them. I had hitherto been waiting for my palankeen, which contained the trunk enclosing my uniform. Captain Wade had sent me word that it had left Lúdiana on the 8th, and I could not conceive what could have detained it so long. Anything like a robbery was most improbable, for I have before remarked that, in this respect,the Panjáb is much safer than Hindústhan, the Maha Raja calling every village near which the robbery takes place, to a very strict account, and making the inhabitants pay the value of things stolen to the loser. I have forgotten to mention the Shah for a long while. I introduced him to General Ventura, who assigned him a dwelling near his own, and promised, in my presence, that he would. take his cause in hand when I left Lahor.' Perhaps I shall do well to describe in this place, Ventura's position in the Panjáb, as well as that of the other Europeans in Ranjit's service: the General has been of great service to the Maha Raja, both in the field and in the training of his forces, but he is blamed for not being sufficiently pliant and refined for a court.
None but minions have any influence over Ranjit Singh, and it is to Ventura's honour that he is not one of these. Here and in India he is acknowledged to be a man of high honour, and during a journey he took not long since in Hindústhan, the English Generals and other officers, testified their respect to him most cordially. He has been appointed by the Maha Raja, Kázi and Governor of Lahore, which gives him the third place at his court. He has to attend the Maha Raja soon after sunrise every morning, and during the day all sorts of grievances are brought before him. General Avitabile is a Neapolitan, who served some time in Persia, and has lately entered Ranjit's service. A longing after his native land urged him some time ago to revisit Europe, but disgusted by a variety of circumstances which seemed to make his home distasteful, he soon returned to the East, and entered the service of an independent prince. The Maha Raja gave him at first the post of Governor of the Rekhna Doáb, and the capital of Wazírabad, where he distinguished himself so much by the strong measures he took, that when the difficult post of Pesháwar required the presence of an independent resolute, man, inaccessible to the influence of the incapable Shír Singh,the Maha Raja sent him there against his own inclination. The following anecdote will give an idea of his character. The Maha Raja is always unwilling to inflict the punishment of death or mutilation, but he knows not how to reconcile mildness with the just reward due to crime. While Avitabile was at Wazírabad not long ago, six robbers were taken, professors of the Sikh religion, to whom Ranjit Singh thought himself bound to show forbearance. It was an embarrassing circumstance, this being the second apprehension of the thieves. They were sent to Avitabile, with a command that they should not be allowed to escape again, and the same hour they were hanged. The Maha Raja sent for Avitabile in high wrath; all his friends trembled for him, and when he appeared before Ranjit, he was asked how he had dared to hang six Sikhs, who had been given into his safekeeping. Avitabile answered that he thought it the surest means of preventing their escape, and obeying the Maha Raja's command. The king
laughed at this answer; the event was not taken any further notice of the Sikh who told me the story seemed to think it a good joke, and all the people regarded him with much reverence. Colonel Court quitted the Polytechnic Institution of Paris, of which he was a pupil, in the year 1815. He is a good officer, and well informed, commanding two battalions of Gurkhas in the service of the Maha Raja, and likewise at this time the French legion at Akora, near Atok.
In the evening we again had an nách, and there was a feast at the Fakír Sahib's, which gave him the opportunity of sending to General Ventura a repast consisting of about 100 lbs. of boiled rice, with butter and sweetmeats in proportion. This, and the daily present of fruit and pastry sent by the Raja, namely, twelve boxes of grapes, baskets of oranges, pears, apples,&c., made up the supper of the dancers, which they ate while squatting on a carpet, over which a cotton cloth was spread.
Navin Kumar Jaggi
Gurmeet Singh Jaggi