Imágenes de páginas

followers. His struggles and adventures during these years are admirably described by himself. “ His sturdy frame, his precocious and versatile abilities, his indomitable energy, his quick observation and lively susceptibility to the curiosities, wonders, and beauties of nature, his warm heart and genial temper, and his constant cheerfulness under adverse circumstances, are most attractively displayed in his Memoirs; while, in a style as far as possible removed from the popular conception of the rude Tartar, he records a series of victories and defeats, of hair-breadth escapes, and daring achievements, which well illustrate the old adage, that truth is, after all, often stranger than fiction.” Once (in 1497), when ejected from Ferghâna, and seeing his followers reduced to two hundred and forty, he determined to attack his paternal city of Samarkhand, the military capital of Asia, and at that time strongly garrisoned. He approached and scaled the walls at midnight, and being joined by a number of friends, raised such a shout of victory through the city, that the sovereign fled in the confusion, leaving his metropolis and his dominions to Bâber. Driven out from this stronghold after a time, he marched southward and made himself master of the kingdom of Kâbul (1504); and there establishing his power, began to meditate the audacious project of repeating in India the exploits of his great ancestor Teimûr (or Tamerlane). But though several small expeditions took place, it was some time ere, to use his own words, he finally“ placed his foot in the stirrup of

Sidney Owen's India on the Eve of the British Conquest, p. 23.

Battle of

resolution,” and stood forth as a candidate for the inperial throne, which he claimed as the inheritance of his father's family (1519). But seven years passed, and four expeditions failed, before, in 1526, the battle

of Pânipat gave him Delhi and Agra, and Pânipat, the tract of country around them, and the 1526.

death of the Afgân emperor, Ibrahîm Lôdî, who fell in the battle, left the pathway to the throne clear. The old empire had in reality been long dissolved and broken up into many separate kingdoms, of which Bahâr, Mâlwâ, Chandêrî, and Bengal were the chief. Prince Humâyûn, Bâber's eldest son, was soon dispatched against the rulers of these states, and was successful in reducing the country from Gwâliôr to Jounpûr. But a more stubborn resistance was met with from Sanga, the Rajput prince of Chilôr, who was joined by the Râjas of Mârwâr, Jeypûr, and Chandêrî. The struggle was indeed an attempt, and the last attempt of the Râjpûts, to drive the Mussulmans from India, and to establish their own supremacy. But the decisive battle of Sikri (near Agra), early in 1527, and the storming of Chandêrî in January of the next year, conclusively settled the question of the lordship of Hindûstân, and firmly established the Mogul on the throne. Henceforth the endeavours of the Râjpûts were restricted to asserting what they could of their former independence. Bâber next turned his arms against Bahâr and Bengal ; and in 1529 these provinces were forced into submission. But the great conqueror's end was now not far off; and it was as remarkable and romantic as his life had been. Humâyûn, his eldest son, lay dangerously ill, when

Bâber conceived the idea of offering his own life for his son's. Having walked thrice round the bed of the sick man, and having prayed solemnly that the disease might pass to him, in full belief that his prayer was heard, he exclaimed, “I have borne it away.” Humâyûn rapidly recovered, and Bâber's health, already broken, rapidly declined. On December 26, 1530, with exhortations of peace on his lips, he breathed his last. His remains were taken to Kâbul, and a simple but beautiful tomb was there erected to his memory."

Humâyūn succeeded his father, and reigned nominally till the year 1556; but in reality the Humayan, last sixteen years of this period were spent 1530-1556. by him in exile. His generosity, or weakness, to his three brothers early stripped him of his fairest provinces, and left him with nothing more than the newlyacquired territory and his father's veteran army and renown to depend upon. His reverses, his sufferings, his gallantry, his fortitude, and his last brilliant success render his life alınost as interesting as his father's; but his personal defects—conspicuous amongst which were weakness, indolence, capriciousness, and occasional cruelty-deprive him in our eyes, as it did in the eyes of his adherents, of everything like respect or admiration.

His first antagonist was Bahâdar Shâh of Gujarât, on whom he wasted much strength; and his second and still more formidable opponent,

" It is somewhat curious that, though Bâber prided himself on his Tâtar descent from Teimûr (or Tamerlane), and hated the name and race of his mother's family, the empire which he founded in Hindústân should have always borne the title of Mogul (or Mongol).

was Shîr Khân Sûr, the Afgân conqueror of Bahâr and Bengal. After a few first successes against the latter, followed by a series of crushing defeats and narrow escapes from imprisonment or death, and then by severe trials in the great Indian desert, Humâyûn was at last forced to take refuge at the court of Tamasp, the Persian Shâh (1544). By this monarch he was by turns patronised, insulted, and persecuted, and at last, in hopes of obtaining assistance towards regaining his lost throne, induced to adopt the tenets of the Shîa sect of the Muhammadans. Of the five Afgâns of the house of Sûr, who ruled Hindûstân between 1540 and 1556, we need here say nothing. In 1545 we find the realmless Mogul emperor with the aid of Persian horse recovering the old family dominions of Kandahâr and Kâbul. Three years later, some sort of reconciliation is patched up with his rebellious and treacherous brothers; but it is not till 1555 that Humâyûn is in a condition to attempt to regain his Indian provinces. His success is now rapid and brilliant. He speedily retakes Lâhôr, and driving Sikander (the fifth of the interloping Sûr dynasty) before him, and wreaking a cruel vengeance on his brother Kâmrân, he recovers the towns of Ågra and Delhi, and the district around them. But even then, at the height of his triumph, and while his son Prince Akbar is working wonders in the Panjâb, his luckless fate overtakes him Slipping on the marble steps which led to the top of his palace, he falls headlong over the parapet and dies—just six months after his return.

Jalal-ud-dîn, commonly known as Akbar, or the Great, was only in his fourteenth year when he was called upon to struggle for the sceptre in a land which

Akbar, teemed from end to end with rebellion ; 1556–1605. Afgân nobles, Râjpût princes, and often his own discontented officers, contested with him the right, which was after all only the right of the strongest. But Akbar had already shown a character of no mean order; and the regent Beirâm Khân, who for four years exercised almost unlimited power, by his military talent, his energy, and inflexibility of purpose, before long rendered the struggle at least not very doubtful. In 1560 Akbar became emperor in reality, though his dominions consisted only of the Panjâb and the district around Delhi and Âgra. The adherents of the house of Tamerlane in India were moreover few, and not always to be counted upon. But powerful, athletic, handsome, incredibly active both in body and mind, brave, affable and captivating in manners, and withal sober, abstemious, and profoundly benevolent, the young prince was in every way fitted for the task of establishing a wide and firm rule, and of calling order out of chaos. He first set himself to conquer those whom he claimed as his feudatory nobles, and by the year 1567 had fairly accomplished his design. Then five years were spent in reducing the Râjpût chiefs to submission. But no sooner was the submission a fact than the emperor, with the wisdom and generosity for which he was always remarkable, recognised the rank of his former opponents, and encouraged the closest intimacy between his followers and these hereditary heroes of Hindustan by himself marrying a daughter of the Raja of Mârwâr. Indeed,

« AnteriorContinuar »