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BABER CHARACTER OF HIS GRANDFATHER.
reading the Shahnâmeh.* Though he had a turn for poetry, he did not cultivate it. He was so strictly just, that when the caravan from Khita † had once reached the hill country to the east of Andejân, and the snow fell so deep as to bury it, so that of the whole only two persons escaped, he no sooner received information of the occurrence, than he despatched overseers to collect and take charge of all the property and effects of the people of the caravan; and, wherever the heirs were not at hand, though himself in great want, his resources being exhausted, he placed the property under sequestration, and preserved it untouched ; till, in the course of one or two years, the heirs, coming from Khorasân and Samarkand, in consequence of the intimation which they received, he delivered back the goods safe and uninjured into their hands. His generosity was large, and so was his whole soul; he was of an excellent temper, affable, eloquent, and sweet in his conversation; yet brave withal, and manly. On two occasions he advanced in front of the troops, and exhibited distinguished prowess ; once, at the gates of Akhsi, and once at the gates of Shahrokhîa. He was a middling shot with the bow; he had uncommon force in his fists, and never hit a man whom he did not knock down. From his excessive ambition for conquest, he often exchanged peace for war, and friendship for hostility. In the earlier part of his life he was greatly addicted to drinking bûzeh and talar. § Latterly, once or twice in the week, he indulged in a drinking party. He was a pleasant companion, and in the course of conversation used often to cite, with great felicity, appropriate verses from the poets. In his latter days he was much addicted to the use of Maajûns, while under the influence of which he was subject to a feverish irritability. He was a humane man, He played a great deal at backgammon, and sometimes at games of chance with the dice."
The following is the memorial of Hussain Mirza, king of Khorasan, who died in 1506:
“ He had straight narrow eyes, his body was robust and firm ; from the waist downwards he was of a slenderer make. Although
* The Shahnâmeh, or Book of Kings, is the famous poem of the great Persian poet Ferdausi, and contains the romantic history of ancient Persia.
† North China; but often applied to the whole country from China to Terfân, and now even west to the Ala-tagh Mountains.
† This anecdote is erroneously related of Baber himself by Ferishta and others. See Dow's Hist. of Hindostan, vol. ii. p. 218.
§ Bûzeh is a sort of intoxicating liquor somewhat resembling beer, made from millet. Talar I do not know, but understand it to be a preparation from the poppy. There is, however, nothing about bûzeh or talar in the Persian, which only specifies sherâb, wine or strong drink.
|| Any medical mixture is called a maajûn ; but in common speech, the term is chiefly applied to intoxicating comfits, and especially those prepared with bang.
OF THE KING OF KHORASAN.
he was advanced in years, and had a white beard, he dressed in gaycoloured red and green woollen clothes. He usually wore a cap of black lamb's skin, or a kilpak. Now and then, on festival days, he put on a small turban tied in three folds, broad and showy, and having placed a plume nodding over it, went in this style to prayers.
“On first mounting the throne, he took it into his head that he would cause the names of the twelve Imams to be recited in the Khûtbeh. Many used their endeavours to prevent him. Finally, however, he directed and arranged every thing according to the orthodox Sunni faith. From a disorder in his joints, he was unable to perform his prayers, nor could he observe the stated fasts. He was a lively, pleasant man. His temper was rather hasty, and his language took after his temper. In many instances he displayed a profound reverence for the faith; on one occasion, one of his sons having slain a man, he delivered him up to the avengers of blood to be carried before the judgment-seat of the Kasi. For about six or seven years after he first ascended the throne, he was very guarded in abstaining from such things as were forbidden by the law; afterwards he became addicted to drinking wine. During nearly forty years that he was King of Khorasân, not a day passed in which he did not drink after mid-day prayers ; but he never drank wine in the morning. His sons, the whole of the soldiery, and the town's-people, followed his example in this respect, and seemed to vie with each other in debauchery and lasciviousness. He was a brave and valiant man. He often engaged sword in band in fight, nay, frequently distinguished his prowess hand to hand several times in the course of the same fight. No person of the race of Taimur Beg ever equalled Sultan Hussain Mirza in the use of the scymitar. He had a turn for poetry, and composed a Diwân. He wrote in the Tûrki. His poetical name was Hussaini. Many of his verses are far from being bad, but the whole of the Mirza's Diwân is in the same measure. Although a prince of dignity, both as to years and extent of territory, he was as fond as a child of keeping butting rams, and of amusing himself with flying pigeons and cock-fighting.”
One of the most striking passages in the work is the royal author's account of the magnificence of the court and city of Herat, when he visited it in 1506; and especially his imposing catalogue of the illustrious authors, artists, and men of genius, by whom it was then adorned.
“ The age of Sultan Hussain Mirza was certainly a wonderful age; and Khorasân, particularly the city of Heri, abounded with eminent men of unrivalled acquirements, each of whom made it his aim and ambition to carry to the highest perfection the art to which he devoted himself. Among these was the Moulâna Abdal Rahman Jâmi", to
* “No moral poet ever had a higher reputation than Jâmi. His poems are written with great beauty of language and versification, in “As we were guests at Mozeffer Mirza's house, Mozeffer Mirza placed me above himself, and having filled up a glass of welcome, the cupbearers in waiting began to supply all who were of the party with pure wine, which they quaffed as if it had been the water of life. The party waxed warm, and the spirit mounted up to their heads. They took a fancy to make me drink too, and bring me into the same circle with themselves. Although, all that time, I had never been guilty of drinking wine, and from never having fallen into the practice was ignorant of the sensations it produced, yet I had a strong lurking inclination to wander in this desert, and my heart was much disposed to pass the stream. In my boyhood I had no wish for it, and did not know its pleasures or pains. When my father at any time asked me to drink wine, I excused myself, and abstained. After my
746 BABER —HIS ACCOUNT OF THE SPLENDOURS OF HERAT.
whom there was no person of that period who could be compared, whether in respect to profane or sacred science. His poems are well known. The merits of the Mûlla are of too exalted a nature to admit of being described by me; but I have been anxious to bring the mention of his name, and an allusion to his excellences, into these humble pages, for a good omen and a blessing!”
He then proceeds to enumerate the names of between thirty and forty distinguished persons; ranking first the sages and theologians, to the number of eight or nine ; next the poets, about fifteen; then two or three painters; and five or six performers and composers of music ;of one of these he gives the following instructive anecdote
“ Another was Hussain Udi (the lutanist), who played with great taste on the lute, and composed elegantly. He could play, using only one string of his lute at a time. He had the fault of giving himself many airs when desired to play. On one occasion Sheibâni Khan desired him to play. After giving much trouble he played very ill, and besides, did not bring his own instrument, but one that was good for nothing. Sheibâni Khan, on learning how matters stood, directed that, at that very party, he should receive a certain number of blows on the neck. This was one good deed that Sheibâni Khan did in his day; and indeed the affectation of such people deserves even more severe animadversion."
In the seductions of this luxurious court, Baber's orthodox abhorrence to wine was first assailed with temptation :—and there is something very naïve, we think, in his account of his reasonings and feelings on the occasion.
a captivating strain of religious and philosophic mysticism. He is not merely admired for his sublimity as a poet, but venerated as a saint."
LAPSE INTO LOVE OF WINE -- AND GREAT EXCESSES. 747
death, by the guardian care of Khwajeh Kazi, I remained pure and undefiled. I abstained even from forbidden foods; how then was I likely to indulge in wine? Afterwards, when, from the force of youthful imagination and constitutional impulse, I got a desire for wine, I had nobody about my person to invite me to gratify my wishes ; nay, there was not one who even suspected my secret longing for it. Though I had the appetite, therefore, it was difficult for me, unsolicited as I was, to indulge such unlawful desires. It now came into my head, that as they urged me so much, and as, besides, I had come into a refined city like Heri, in which every means of heightening pleasure and gaiety was possessed in perfection; in which all the incentives and apparatus of enjoyment were combined with an invitation to indulgence, if I did not seize the present moment, I never could expect such another. I therefore resolved to drink wine! But it struck me, that as Badîa-ez-zemân Mirza was the eldest brother, and as I had declined receiving it from his hand, and in his house, he might now take offence. I therefore mentioned this difficulty which had occurred to me. My excuse was approved of, and I was not pressed any more, at this party, to drink. It was settled, however, that the next time we met at Badîa-ez-zemân Mirza's, I should drink when pressed by the two Mirzas."
By some providential accident, however, the conscientious prince escaped from this meditated lapse ; and it was not till some years after, that he gave way to the long-cherished and resisted propensity. At what particular occasion he first fell into the snare, unfortunately is not recorded as there is a blank of several
years in the Memoirs previous to 1519. In that year, however, we find him a confirmed toper; and nothing, indeed, can be more ludicrous than the accuracy and apparent truth with which he continues to chronicle all his subsequent and very frequent excesses. The Eastern votary of intoxication has a pleasant way of varying his enjoyments, which was never taken in the West. When the fluid elements of drunkenness begin to pall on him, he betakes him to what is learnedly called a maajûn, being a sort of electuary or confection, made up with pleasant spices, and rendered potent by a large admixture of opium, bang, and other narcotic ingredients; producing a solid intoxication of a very delightful and desirable description. One of the first drinking matches that is described makes honourable mention of this variety :
“ The maajûn-takers and spirit-drinkers, as they have different tastes, are very apt to take offence with each other. I said, “Don't 748
- HONEST CHRONICLE OF HIS TOPINGS,
spoil the cordiality of the party; whoever wishes to drink spirits, let him drink spirits; and let him that prefers maajûn, take maajûn; and let not the one party give any idle or provoking language to the other. Some sat down to spirits, some to maajûn. The party went on for some time tolerably well. Bâba Jân Kabûzi had not been in the boat; we had sent for him when we reached the royal tents. He chose to drink spirits. Terdi Muhammed Kipchâk, too, was sent for, and joined the spirit-drinkers. As the spirit-drinkers and maajûntakers never can agree in one party, the spirit-bibbing party began to indulge in foolish and idle conversation, and to make provoking remarks on maajûn and maajûn-takers. Bâba Jân, too, getting drunk, talked very absurdly. The tipplers, filling up glass after glass for Terdi Muhammed, made him drink them off, so that in a very short time he was mad drunk. Whatever exertions I could make to preserve peace, were all unavailing; there was much uproar and wrangling. The party became quite burdensome and unpleasant, and soon broke up."
The second day after, we find the royal bacchanal still more grievously overtaken:
“We continued drinking spirits in the boat till bed-time prayers, when, being completely drunk, we mounted, and taking torches in our hands, came at full gallop back to the camp from the river-side, falling sometimes on one side of the horse, and sometimes on the other. I was miserably drunk, and next morning, when they told me of our having galloped into the camp with lighted torches in our hands, I had not the slightest recollection of the circumstance. After coming home, I vomited plentifully.”
Even in the middle of a harassing and desultory campaign, there is no intermission of this excessive jollity, though it sometimes puts the parties into jeopardy, --for example:
“We continued at this place drinking till the sun was on the decline, when we set out. Those who had been of the party were completely drunk. Syed Kâsim was so drunk, that two of his servants were obliged to put him on horseback, and brought him to the camp with great difficulty. Dost Muhammed Bâkir was so far gone, that Amîn Muhammed Terkhân, Masti Chehreh, and those who were along with him, were unable, with all their exertions, to get him on horseback. They poured a great quantity of water over him, but all to no purpose. At this moment a body of Afghans appeared in sight. Amîn Muhammed Terkhân, being very drunk, gravely gave it as his opinion, that rather than leave him, in the condition in which he was, to fall into the hands of the enemy, it was better at once to cut off his head, and carry it away. Making another exertion, however, with much difficulty, they contrived to throw him upon a horse, which they led along, and so brought him off.”