March 8, 1850.—Oel, five miles, over a plain of the same fine muteear soil, beautifully cultivated and studded with trees, intermixed with numerous clusters of the graceful bamboo. A great- grandson of the monster Nadir Shah, of Persia, Ruza Kolee Khan, who commands a battalion in the King of Oude's service, rode by me, and I asked him whether he ever saw such a cultivated country in Persia. "Never," said he: "Persia is a hilly country, and there is no tillage like this in any part of it. I left Persia, with my father, twenty- two years ago, when I was twenty-two years of age, and I have still a very distinct recollection of what it was then. There is no country in the world, sir," said the Nazim, "like Hindoostan, when it enjoys the blessings of a good government. The purgunnah of Kheree, in which we now are, is all held by the heads of three families of Janwar Rajpoots: Rajah Ajub Sing, of Kymara; Anrod Sing, of Oel; and Umrao Sing, of Mahewa. There are only sixty-six villages of Khalsa, or Crown lands left, yielding twenty-one thousand rupees a-year. The rest have been all absorbed by the heads of these Rajpoot families.
Villages. Jumma. Kymara . . . 82 . . 13,486 0 0 Oel . . . . 170 . . 54,790 0 0 Mahewa . . . 70 . . 20,835 0 0 322 . . 89,111 0 0 Khalsa . . . 66 . . 21,881 0 0
388 . . 1,10,992 0 0
"These heads of families have each a fort, surrounded by a strong fence of bamboos, and mounted with good guns; and the King cannot get so large a revenue from them as he did thirty years ago, in the time of Hakeem Mehndee, though their lands are as well tilled now as they were then, and yield more rent to their holders. They spend it all in keeping up large armed bands to resist the Government; but they certainly take care of their cultivators and tenants of all kinds, and no man dares molest them.
"But," said Bukhtawur Sing, "this beautiful scene would all be changed were they encouraged or permitted to contend with each other for the possession of the lands. I yesterday saw a great number of the merchants of Kymara following the Resident's camp; and, on asking them why, they told me that the order from Court obtained by Gholam Ruza for you (the Nazim) to assist the Oel chief, Anrod Sing, in despoiling Rajah Ajub Sing of his estate, had driven out all who had no fields of corn or other local ties to detain them, and had anything to lose by remaining. The chief and his retainers were repairing their fort, and preparing to fight for their possessions to the last; and if you take your disorderly force against them according to orders, the crops now in the ground will be all destroyed, and the numerous fields now prepared to receive sugar-cane and the autumn seed will be left waste: they will make reprisals upon Oel; others of their clan will join in the strife; and this district will be what that of Bharwara, which we have just left, now is. The merchants are in the right, sir, to make off: no property in such a scene is ever safe. There is no property, sir, like that in the Honourable Company's paper: it is the only property that we can enjoy in peace. You feel no anxiety about it. It doubles itself in fifteen or sixteen years; and you go on from generation to generation enjoying your five per cent., and neither fearing nor annoying anybody."
The two villages of Oel and Dhukwa adjoin each other, and form a large town; but the dwelling-houses have a wretched appearance, consisting of naked mud walls, with but a few more grass-choppers than are usually found upon them in Oude towns. There is a good- looking temple, dedicated to Mahadeo, in the centre of the town, and the houses are close upon the ditch of the fort, which has its bamboo-fence inside its ditch and outer mud walls. I have written to the Durbar to recommend that the order for the attack upon Rajah Ajub Sing be countermanded, and more pacific measures adopted for the settlement of the claims of the Exchequer and Anrod Sing upon poor old Ajub Sing.
The Kanoongoes of this place tell me that the dispute has arisen from a desire, on the part of the old man's wife, to set aside the just claim of Jodha Sing, the old man's nephew, to the inheritance, in favour of a lad whom she has adopted and brought up, by name Teeka Sing, in whose name the estate is now managed by a servant; that Jodha Sing is the rightful heir, and managed the estate well for his uncle, after the death of his brother, till lately, when his aunt persuaded his uncle to break with him, which he did with reluctance; that Jodha Sing now lives in retirement at his village of Barkerwa; that Anrod Sing's design upon the inheritance for his younger brother, Dirj Bijee Sing, is unjust; and that he is, in consequence, obliged to prosecute it on the pretence of recovering money due, and supporting the claim of Jodha Sing, and in collusion with the officers of Government; that Gholam Ruza, who has charge of the Huzoor Tuhseel, is ready to adopt the cause of any one who will pay him; and that Anrod Sing is now at Lucknow paying his court to him, and getting these iniquitous orders issued.
Oel was transferred to the Huzoor Tuhseel in 1834, Kymara in 1836, and Mahewa in 1839. These Rajpoot landholders do not often seize upon the lands of a relative at once, but get them by degrees by fraud and collusion with Government officers, so that they may share the odium with them. They instigate these officers to demand more than the lands can pay; offer the enhanced rate, and get the lands at once; or get a mortgage, run up the account, and foreclose by their aid. They no sooner get the estate than they reduce the Government demand, by collusion or violence, to less than what the former proprietor had paid.
March 9, 1850.—Lahurpoor, twelve miles, over a plain of doomuteea soil, well studded with groves and single trees, but not so fully cultivated the last half way as the first. For the first halfway the road lies through the estate of Anrod Sing, of Oel; but for the last it runs through that of Seobuksh Sing, a Gour Rajpoot, who has a fort near the town of Kuteysura, five miles from Lahurpoor, and seven from Oel. It is of mud, and has a ditch all round, and a bamboo-fence inside the outer walls. It is of great extent, but not formidable against well-provided troops. The greater part of the houses in the town are in ruins, and Seobuksh has the reputation of being a reckless and improvident landholder. He is said not only to take from his tenants higher rates of rent than he ought, but to extort from them very often a property tax, highly and capriciously rated. This is what the people call the bhalmansae, of which they have a very great abhorrence. "You are a bhala manus" (a gentleman, or man of substance), he says to his tenant, "and must have property worth at least a thousand rupees. I want money sadly, and must have one-fifth: give me two hundred rupees." This is what the people call "bhalmansae," or rating a man according to his substance; and to say that a landlord or governor does this, is to say that he is a reckless oppressor, who has no regard to obligations or to consequences.
There are manifest signs of the present landholder, Seobuksh Sing, being of this character; but others, not less manifest, of his grandfather having been a better man, in the fine groves which surround Lahurpoor, and the villages between this place and Kuteysura, all of which are included in his estate. These groves were, for the most part, planted during the life of his grandfather by men of substance, who were left free to-dispose of their property as they thought best.
All the native gentlemen who rode with me remarked on the beauty of the approach to Lahurpoor, in which a rich carpet of spring crops covers the surface up to the groves, and extends along under the trees which have been recently planted. There are many young groves about the place, planted by men who have acquired property by trade, and by the savings out of the salaries and perquisites of office at Lahurpoor, which is the residence of the Nazim, or local governor, during several months in the year; and the landlord, Seobuksh, cannot venture to exact his property-tax from them. The air and water are much praised, and the general good health of the troops, civil establishments, and residents of all classes, show that the climate must be good. The position, too, is well chosen with reference to the districts, and the character of the people under the control of the governor of the Khyrabad district.
The estate of Seobuksh is very extensive. The soil is all good and the plain level, so that every part of it is capable of tillage. Rutun Sing, the father of Seobuksh, is said to have been a greater rack-renter, rebel, and robber than his son is, and together they have injured the estate a good deal, and reduced it from a rent-roll of one hundred thousand to one of forty. Its rent-roll is now estimated in the public accounts at 54,640, out of which is deducted a nankar of 17,587, leaving a Government demand of only 37,053. This he can't pay; and he has shut himself up sullenly in his mud fort, where the Nazim dares not attack him. He is levying contributions from the surrounding villages, but has not yet plundered or burnt down any. He was lately in prison, for two years; but released on the security of Rajah Lonee Sing, of Mitholee, whose wife is his wife's sister. He, however, says that he was pledged to produce him when required, not before the present Nazim, but his predecessor; and that he is no longer bound by this pledge. This reasoning would, of course, have no weight with the Government authorities, nor would it be had recourse to were Lonee Sing less strong. Each has a strong fort and a band of steady men. The Nazim has not the means to attack Seobuksh, and dares not attack Lonee Sing, as his estate of Pyla is in the "Huzoor Tuhseel," and under the protection of Court favourites, who are well paid by him.
Lonee Sing's estate of Mitholee is in the Mahomdee district, and under the jurisdiction of the Amil; and it is only the portion, consisting of one hundred and four recently-acquired villages, which he holds in the Pyla estate, in the Khyrabad district, that has been made over to the Huzoor Tuhseel.* He offered an increased rate for these villages to the then Amil, Bhowood Dowlah, in the year A.D. 1840. It was accepted, and he attacked, plundered, and murdered a good many of the old proprietors, and established such a dread among them, that he now manages them with little difficulty. Basdeo held fourteen of these villages under mortgage, and sixteen more under lease. He had his brother, maternal uncle, and a servant killed by Lonee Sing, and is now reduced to beggary. Lonee Sing took the lease in March, 1840, and commenced this attack in May.
[* Anrod Sing holds twenty-eight villages in the Pyla estate, acquired in the same way as those held by Lonee Sing.]
The Nazim had with him, of infantry, 1. Futteh Aesh Nujeebs. 2. Wuzeree, ditto. 3. Zuffur, Mobaruk Telinga. 4. Futteh Jung ditto; Ruza Kolee Khan. 5. Captain Barlow's ditto. Eleven guns. But, being unable to get any duty from the three regiments first named, he offered to dispense with the two first, on condition that the command of the third should be placed at his disposal for his son or nephew.
This request was complied with; and, on paying a fee of five thousand rupees, he got the dress of investiture, and offered it to Lieutenant Orr, a very gallant officer, the second in command of Captain Barlow's corps, as the only way to render the corps so efficient as he required it to be. The Durbar took away the two regiments; but, as soon as they heard that Lieutenant Orr was to command the third, they appointed Fidda Hoseyn, brother of the ruffian Mahommed Hoseyn, who had held the district of Mahomdee, and done so much mischief to it. Fidda Hoseyn, of course, paid a high sum for the command to be exacted from his subordinates, or the people of the district in which it might be employed; and the regiment has remained worse than useless. Of the eleven guns, five are useless on the ground, and without bullocks. The bullocks for the other six are present, but too weak to draw anything. They had had no grain for many years; but within the last month they have had one-half seer each per day out of the one seer and half paid for by Government. There is no ammunition, stores, or anything else for the guns, and the best of the carriages are liable to fall to pieces with the first discharge. They are not allowed to repair them, but must send them in to get them changed for others when useless. The Durbar knows that if they allow the local officers to charge for the repair of guns, heavy charges will be made, and no gun ever repaired; and the local officers know that if they send in a gun to be repaired at Lucknow, they will get in exchange one painted to look well, but so flimsily done up that it will go to pieces the first or second time it is fired.
Captain Barlow's corps is a good one, and the men are finer than any that I have seen in our own infantry regiments, though they get only five rupees a-month each, while ours get seven. They prefer this rate under European officers in the Oude service, to the seven rupees a- month which sipahees get in ours, though they have no pension establishment or extra allowance while marching. They feel sure that their European commandants will secure them their pay sooner or later; they escape many of the harassing duties to which our sipahees are liable; they have leave to visit their homes one month in twelve; they never have to march out of Oude to distant stations, situated in bad climates; they get fuel and fodder, and often food, for nothing; their baggage is always carried for them at the public cost. But to secure them their pay, arms, accoutrements, clothing, &c., the commandant must be always about the Court himself, or have an ambassador of some influence there at great cost. Captain Barlow is almost all his time at Court, as much from choice as expediency, drawing all his allowances and emoluments of all kinds, while his second in command performs his regimental duties for him. The other officers like this, because they know that the corps could not possibly be kept in the state it is without it. Captain Barlow has lately obtained three thousand rupees for the repair of his six gun- carriages, tumbrils, &c., that is, five hundred for each. They had not been repaired for ten years; hardly any of the others have been repaired for the last twenty or thirty years.
The Nazim of this district of Khyrabad has taken the farm of it for one year at nine lacs of rupees, that is one lac and a half less than the rate at which it was taken by his predecessor last year. He tells me, that he was obliged, to enter into engagements to pay in gratuities fifty thousand to the minister, of which he has as yet paid only five thousand; twenty-five thousand to the Dewan, Balkishun, and seven thousand to Gholam Ruza, who has charge of the Huzoor Tuhseel—that he was obliged to engage to pay four hundred rupees a-month, in salaries, to men named by the Dewan, who do no duty, and never show their faces to him; and similar sums to the creatures of the minister and others—that he was obliged to pay gratuities to a vast number of understrappers at Court—that he was not made aware of the amount of these gratuities, &c., till he had received his dress of investiture, and had merely promised to pay what his predecessor had paid—that when about to set out, the memorandum of what his predecessor had paid was put into his hand, and it was then too late to remonstrate or draw back. There may be some exaggeration in the rate of the gratuities demanded; but that he has to pay them to the persons named I have no doubt whatever, because; all men in charge of districts have to pay them to those persons, whether they hold the districts in contract, or in trust.
The Zuffer Mobaruk regiment, with its commandant, Fidda Hoseyn, is now across the Ghagra in charge of Dhorehra, an estate in the forest belonging to Rajah Arjun Sing, who has absconded in consequence of having been ruined by the rapacity of a native collector last year; and they are diligently employed in plundering all the people who remain. The estate paid 2,75,000 a-year till these outrages began; and it cannot now pay fifty thousand. Arjun Sing and Seobuksh Sing, of Kuteysura, are the only refractory landholders in the Khyrabad district at present.
March 10, 1850.—Halted at Lahurpoor. There is good ground for large civil and military establishments to the south of the town, about a mile out, on the left of the road leading to Khyrabad. It is a fine open plain of light soil. New pucka-wells would be required; and some low ground, near the south and north, would also require to be drained, as water lies in it during the rains. There is excellent ground nearer the town on the same side, but the mango-groves are thick and numerous, and would impede the circulation of air. The owners would, moreover be soon robbed of them were a cantonment, or civil station, established among or very near to them. The town and site of any cantonment, or civil station, should be taken from the Kuteysura estate, and due compensation made to the holder, Seobuksh. The town is a poor one; and the people are keeping their houses uncovered, and removing their property under the apprehension that Seobuksh will attack and plunder the place. All the merchants and respectable landholders, over the districts bordering on the Tarae forest, through which we have passed, declare, that all the colonies of Budukh dacoits, who had, for many generations, up to 1842, been located in this forest, have entirely disappeared. Not a family of them can now be found anywhere in Oude. Six or eight hundred of their brave and active men used to sally forth every year, and carry their depredations into Bengal, Bebar and all the districts of the north- west provinces. Their suppression has been a great benefit conferred upon the people of India by the British Government.
March 11, 1850.—Kusreyla, ten miles, over a plain of excellent muteear soil scantily cultivated, but studded with fine trees, single and in groves. Kusreyla is among the three hundred villages which have been lately taken in mortgage from the proprietors, and in lease from Government, by Monowur-od Dowlah, the nephew and heir of the late Hakeem Mehndee. He is inviting and locating in these villages many cultivators of the best classes; and they will all soon be in a fine state of tillage. No soil can be finer, and no acre of it is incapable of bearing fine crops. The old proprietors and lessees, to whom he had lent money on mortgage, have persuaded him to foreclose, that they may come under so substantial and kind a landholder. They prefer holding the sub-lease under such a man, to holding the lease directly under Government, subject to the jurisdiction of the Nazim. Monowur-od Dowlah pays forty thousand rupees a-year for the whole to Government, and has had the whole transferred to the Huzoor Tuhseel.
The Nazim of Khyrabad rode by my side during this morning's march, and at my request he described the mutiny which took place in two of the regiments that attended him in the siege of Bhitolee, just before I crossed the Ghagra at Byramghat. These were the Futteh Aesh, and the Wuzeeree. Their commandants are Allee Hoseyn, a creature of one of the singers, Kootab Allee; and Mahommed Akhbur, a creature of the minister's. They were earnestly urged by the minister and Nazim to join their regiments for the short time they would be on this important service, but in vain; nothing could induce them to quit the Court. All the corps mentioned above, as attending the Nazim, were present, and the siege had begun when, on the 17th of November, some shopkeepers in camp, having been robbed during the night by some thieves, shut up their shops, and prepared to leave the camp in a body. The siege could not go on if the traders all left the place; and he sent a messenger to call the principal men that he might talk to them. They refused to move, and the messenger, finding that they were ready to set out, seized one of them by the waist-hand, and when he resisted, struck him on the head with a stick, and said he would make him go to his master. The man called out to some sipahees of the Wuzeeree regiment, who were near, to rescue him. They did so: the messenger struggled to hold his grasp, but was dragged off and beaten. He returned the blows; the sipahees drew their swords: he seized one of the swords and ran off towards his master's tent, waiving it over his head, to defend himself, followed by some of the sipahees. The others ran back to the grove in which their regiment and the Futteh Aesh were bivouaced; both regiments seized their arms and ran towards the Nazim's tents; and when they got within two hundred yards, commenced firing upon them.
The Nazim had with him only a few of his own armed servants. They seized their arms, and begged permission to return the fire, but were restrained till the regiment came near, and two tomandars, or officers, who stood by the Nazim, were shot down, one dead; and the other disabled. His men could be restrained no longer, and they shot down two of the foremost of the assailants. The Nazim then sent off to Lieutenant Orr, who was exercising his corps with blank cartridge on the parade; and, supposing that one of these regiments was doing the same thing near the Nazim's tents, he paid no attention to them. He and his brother, the Adjutant, ran forward, and entreated the two regiments to cease firing; and the Nazim sent out Syud Seoraj-od Deen (the commandant of the Bhurmar regiment, stationed in the adjoining district of Ramnugger Dhumeree, who had just come to him on a visit), with the Koran in his hand, to do the same. The remonstrances of both were in vain. They continued to fire upon the Nazim, and Lieutenant Orr went off to bring up his regiment, which stood ready to move on the parade. Alarmed at this, the two regiments ran off to their grove, and the firing ceased.
During all this time, the other two regiments, the Zuffer Mobaruk and Futteh Jung, stood looking on as indifferent spectators; and afterwards took great credit to themselves for not joining in this attempt to blow up the viceroy, who was obliged, the next day, to go to their camp and apologize humbly for his men having presumed to return their fire, which he declared that they had done without his orders! On his doing this, they consented to forego their claim to have the unhappy messenger sent to their camp to be executed; and to remain with him during the siege. As to taking any part in the siege and assault on the fort, that was altogether out of their line. Ruza Kolee Khan, the commandant of the Futteh Jung, was at Lucknow during this mutiny, but he joined a few days after. Lieutenant Orr gave me the same narrative of the affair at the dinner-table last night; and said, that he and his brother had a very narrow escape— that his regiment would have destroyed all the mutineers had they been present; and he left them on the parade lest he might not be able to restrain them in such a scene. Even this mutiny of the two regiments could not tempt their commandants to leave Court, where they are still enjoying the favour of their patrons, the minister and the singers, and a large share of the pay and perquisites of their officers and sipahees, though the regiments have been sent off to the two disturbed districts of Sundela and Salone.
They dare not face the most contemptible enemy, but they spare not the weak and inoffensive of any class, age, or sex. A respectable landholder, in presenting a petition, complaining of the outrages committed upon his village and peasantry, said a few days ago—"The oppression of these revenue collectors, and their disorderly troops, is intolerable, sir—they plunder all who cannot resist them, but cannot lift their arms, or draw their breath freely in the presence of armed robbers and rebels—it is a proverb, sir, that insects prey upon soft wood; and these men prey only upon the peaceful and industrious, who are unable to defend themselves." The Nazim tells me, that the lamentations of the poor people, plundered and maltreated, were incessant and distressing during the whole time these two corps were with him; and that he could exercise no control whatever over them, protected as they were, in all their iniquities, by the Court favour their two commandants enjoyed at Lucknow.*
[* Kootab Allee was one of the singers who were soon after banished from Oude in disgrace. But all the influence they exercised over the King has been concentrated in the hands of the two singers who remained, Mosahib Allee and Anees-od Dowla. All are despicable domes; but the two, who now govern the King, are much worse characters than any of those who were banished.]
I asked Bukhtawur Sing, before the Nazim overtook us this morning, why it was, that these governors always took so many troops with them when they moved from place to place, merely to settle accounts and inspect the crops. "Some of them," said he, "take all the troops they can muster, to show that they are great men; but, for the most part, they are afraid to move without them. They, and the greater part of the landholders, consider each other as natural and irreconcilable enemies; and a good many of those, who hold the largest estates, are at all times in open resistance against the Government. They have their Vakeels with the contractors when they are not so, and spies when they are. They know all his movements, and would waylay and carry him off if not surrounded with a strong body of soldiers, for he is always moving over the country, with every part of which they are well acquainted. Besides, under the present system of allowing them to forage or plunder for themselves, it is ruinous to any place to leave them in it for even a few days—no man, within several miles, would preserve shelter for his family, or food for his cattle, during the hot and rainy months—he is obliged to take them about with him to distribute, as equally as he can, the terrible burthen of maintaining them. Now that the sugar-cane is ripe, not one cane would be preserved in any field within five miles of any place where the Nazim kept his troops for ten days."
March 12, 1850.—Seetapoor, nine miles over a plain of muteear soil, the greater part of which is light, and yields but scanty crops without manure, which is very scarce. Immediately about the station and villages, where manure is available, the crops are good. The wind continues westerly, the sky is clear, and the blight does not seem to increase.
The 2nd Regiment of Oude Local Infantry is stationed at Seetapoor, but it has no guns or cavalry of any kind. Formerly there was a corps of the Honourable Company's Native Infantry here, with two guns and a detail of artillery. The sipahees of this corps, and of the 1st Oude Local Infantry, at Sultanpoor, are somewhat inferior in appearance to those of our own native infantry regiments, and still more so to the Oude corps under Captains Barlow, Magness, and Bunbury. They receive five rupees eight annas a-month pay, and batta, or extra allowance, when marching; and the same pay as our own sipahees of the line (seven rupees a-month) when serving with them. But the commandants cannot get recruits equal to those that enlist in our regiments of the line, or those that enlist in the corps of the officers above named. They have not the rest and the licence of the one, while they have the same drill and discipline, without the same rate of pay as the other. They have now the privilege of petitioning through the Resident like our sipahees of the line, and that of the pension establishment, while Barlow's, Bunbury's, and Magness's corps have neither. They have none but internal duties—they are hardly ever sent out to aid the King's local authorities, and do not escort treasure even for their own pay. It is sent to them by drafts from Lucknow on the local collectors of the district in which they are cantoned; and the money required for the Resident's Treasury—a great portion of which passes through the Seetapoor cantonments—is escorted by our infantry regiments of the line, stationed at Lucknow, merely because a General Order exists that no irregular corps shall be employed on such duties while any regular corps near has a relief of guards present. The corps of regular infantry at Shajehanpoor escorts the treasure six marches to Seetapoor, where it is relieved by a detachment from one of the regular corps at Lucknow, six marches distant.
The native officers and sipahees of these two corps have leave of absence to visit their families just as often and for just as long periods as those of the corps under the three above-named officers— that is, for one month out of twelve. The native officers and sipahees of these three corps are not, however, so much drilled or restrained as those of the two Oude local corps, in which no man dares to help himself occasionally to the roofs of houses and the produce of fields or gardens; nor to take presents from local authorities, as they are hardly ever sent out to assist them. The native officers and sipahees of the very best of the King of Oude's corps do all this more or less; and they become, in consequence, more attached to their officers and the service. Moreover, the commandants of the two corps of Oude local infantry never become mediators between large landholders and local governors as those of the King of Oude's corps so often do; nor are any landed estates ever assigned to them for the liquidation of their arrears of pay, and confided to their management. So highly do the native officers of these three Oude Komukee corps appreciate all the privileges and perquisites they enjoy, when out on duty under district officers, that they consider short periods of guard duty in the city, where they have none of them, as serious punishments.
The drainage about Seetapoor is into the small river Surain, which flows along on the west boundary, and is excellent; and the lands in and about the station are at all times dry. The soil, too, is good; and the place, on the whole, is well adapted for the cantonment of a much larger force.
March 13, 1850.—Khyrabad, east nine miles, over a plain of doomuteea soil with much oosur. A little outlay and labour seem, however, to make this oosur produce good crops. On entering the town on the west side, we passed over a good stone bridge over this little stream, the Surain; and to the east of the town is another over the still smaller stream of the Gond. Khyrabad is not so well drained as Seetapoor, nor would it be so well adapted for a large cantonment. It is considered to be less healthy. There is an avenue of good trees all the way from Seetapoor to Khyrabad, a distance of six miles, planted by Hakeem Mehndee. Our camp being to the eastern extremity of the town, renders the distance nine miles.
Yesterday at Seetapoor I had a visit from Monowur-od Dowla, late prime minister, and Moomtaz-od Dowla, grandson to the late King, Mahommed Allee Shah, on their way out to the Tarae forest to join Kindoo Rao, the brother of the Byza Bae, of Gwalior, in pursuit of tigers. This morning on the road, old Bukhtawur Sing, after a sigh, said: "I presented a nazur to the prince, Moomtaz-od Dowla, sir; he is the grandson of a King, and the victim of the folly and crime of shooting a monkey! His father, Asgur Allee Khan, was the eldest son of Mahommed Allee Shah, and elder brother of Amjud Allee Shah, the father of the present King. He was fond of his gun, and one day a monkey, of the red and short-tailed kind, came and sat upon one of his out-offices. He sent for his gun, and shot it dead with a ball. The very next day, sir, he had a severe attack of fever, which carried him off in three days. During this time he frequently called out in terror, 'Save me from that monkey! save me from that monkey!' —pointing to the part of the room in which he saw him. The monkey killed Asgur Allee Khan, sir; and no man ever escapes death or misery who wilfully kills one. Moomtaz-od Dowla might, sir, have been now King of Oude had his father not shot that monkey."
"But I thought," said I, "it was the hanoomaun, or long-tailed monkey, that was held sacred by the Hindoos?"—"Sir," said Bukhtawur Sing, "both are alike sacred.* Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, the predecessor of Mahommed Allee Shah, went one day shooting in the dilkhoosha park. Several of the long-tailed monkeys came and sat upon a mango-tree near him. He could not resist the temptation, and shot several of them, one after another, with ball. He returned to the palace; but had not been home more than three hours, when he and his favourite wife, the Kooduseea Begum,** had a fierce quarrel, in which both became insane; she was so enraged that she took poison forthwith, and, in her agony, actually spit up her liver, which had been torn to pieces by the force of the poison! The King could not stand the horrible sight, and ran off and hid himself in the race-stand, near which you fell and broke your thigh-bone in April last; there he remained shut up till she died. He had had warning, sir, for a few months after his accession to the throne; I attended him and his minister, Aga Meer, on a visit to the garden, called padshah baag, on the opposite side of the river: he had a gun with him, and, seeing a monkey on a tree, he ordered the prime minister to try his hand at it. I told Aga Meer that evil would certainly befall him or his house if he shot the animal, and begged his Majesty not to assist upon the minister's doing it. Both laughed at what they thought my folly; the minister shot the monkey; and in a few days he was out of office and in a prison. One way or other, sir, a man who wilfully destroys a monkey is sure to be punished."
[* That Asgur Allee Khan, the eldest son of the King, Mahommed Allee Shah, did shoot the monkey, got a fever a few days after, and died of it, are facts well known at Lucknow. That he often mentioned the monkey during his delirium, is generally believed; and that his death was the consequence of his shooting that animal is the opinion of all the Hindoo, and a great part of the Musulman, population. His death, while his father lived, deprived his son, Moomtaz-od Dowla, of the throne.]
[** The Kooduseea Begum had been introduced into the palace as waiting-woman to Mulika Zumanee, whom she soon superseded in the King's affections, which she retained till her death. She was married to the King on the 17th December, 1831, and died on the 21st of August 1834.]
At Khyrabad there is a handsome set of buildings, consisting of a mausoleum over his father, a mosque, an imambara, and a kudum rusool, or shrine with the print of the prophet's foot, erected by Mucka Durzee, a tailor in the service of the King, who made a large fortune out of his master's favours, and who still lives, and provides for their repair and suitable endowment. These buildings are, like all others of the same kind, infested by a host of professional religious mendicants of both sexes and all ages, who make the air resound with their clamours for alms. Not only are such buildings so infested, but all the towns around them. I could not help observing to the native gentlemen who attended me, "that when men planted groves and avenues, and built reservoirs, bridges, caravansaries, and wells, they did not give rise to any such sources of annoyance to travellers; that they enjoyed the water, shade, and accommodation, without cost or vexation, and went on their way blessing the donor." "That," said an old Rusaldar, "is certainly taking a new and just view of the case; but still it is a surprising thing to see a man in this humble sphere of life raising and maintaining so splendid a pile of buildings."*
[* Mucka the tailor, to whom these buildings belong, is the person mentioned in the account of the death of the King, Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, and the confinement of Ghalib Jung.]
The town of Khyrabad has still a good many inhabitants; but the number is fast decreasing. It was the residence of the families of a good many public officers in our service and that of Oude; and the local authorities of the district used to reside here. They do so no longer; and the families of public officers have almost all gone to reside at other places. Life and property have become exceedingly insecure, and attacks by gang-robbers so frequent that no man thinks his house and family safe for a single night. Government officers are entirely occupied in the collection of revenue, and they disregard altogether the sufferings and risks to which the people of towns are exposed. The ground around the place is low, and the climate is inferior to that of Seetapoor. Salt and saltpetre are 'made from the soil immediately round the town.
I have mentioned that Moomtaz-od Dowla might now have been King of Oude had his father not died before his father. The Mohammedan law excludes for ever the children of any person who dies before the person to whom he or she is the next heir from all right in the inheritance. Under the operation of this law, the sons of the eldest son of the reigning King are excluded from the succession if he dies before his father, and the crown devolves on the second son, or on the brother of the King, if he leaves no other son. The sons of all the sons who die, while their father lives, are mahjoob-ol-irs, that is, excluded from inheritance. In the same manner, if the next brother of the King dies before him, his sons are excluded from the succession, which devolves on the third brother, and so on through all the brothers. For instance, on the death, without any recognised issue, of Nuseer-od Been Hyder, son of Ghazee-od Deen, he was succeeded on the throne by Mahommed Allee Shah, the third brother of Ghazee-od Deen, though four sons of the second brother, Shums-od Dowla, still lived. On the death of Mahommed Allee Shah, he was succeeded by his second son, Amjud Allee Shah, though Moomtaz-od Dowla, the son of his eldest son, Asgur Allee Khan, still lived. Shums-od Dowla died before his elder brother, Ghazee-od Deen; and Asgur Allee Khan before his father, Mahommed Allee Shah: and the sons of both became, in consequence, mahjoob-ol-irs, excluded from succession. The same rule guides the succession among the Delhi sovereigns. This exclusion extends to all kinds of property, as well as to sovereignty.
Moomtaz-od Dowla is married to Zeenut-on Nissa, the daughter of Mulika Zumanee, one of the consorts of Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, late King of Oude; and he has, I fear, more cause to regret his union with her than his exclusion from the throne. Zeenut-on Nissa enjoys a pension of ten thousand rupees a-month, in her own right, under the guarantee of the British Government. I may here, as an episode not devoid of interest, give a brief account of her mother, who, for some years, during the reign of Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, presided over the palace at Lucknow. Before I do so I may mention that the King, Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, had been married to a grand-daughter of the Emperor of Delhi, a very beautiful young woman, of exemplary character, who still survives, and retains the respect of the royal family and people of Lucknow. Finding the Court too profligate for her, she retired into private life soon after the marriage, and has remained there ever since upon a small stipend from the King.
Mulika Zumanee, queen of the age, was a daughter of a Hindoo of the Koormee caste, who borrowed from his neighbour, Futteh Morad, the sum of sixty rupees, to purchase cloth. He soon after died, leaving a widow, and a daughter named Dolaree, then five years of age. They were both seized and confined for the debt by Futteh Morad; but, on the mother's consenting to leave her daughter in bondage for the debt, she was released. Futteh Morad's sister, Kuramut-on Nissa, adopted Dolaree, who was a prepossessing child, and brought her up as her daughter; but finding, as she grew up, that she was too intimate with Roostum, the son by a former husband of her brother's second wife, she insisted on their being married, and they were so. Futteh Morad soon after died, and his first wife turned the second, with her first son, Roostum, and his wife, Dolaree, and the two sons which she had borne to Futteh Morad—Futteh Allee Khan and Warus Allee Khan— out of her house. They went to Futteh Morad's aunt, Bebee Mulatee, a learned woman, who resided as governess in the house of Nawab Mohubbet Khan, at Roostumnugger, near Lucknow, and taught his daughters to read the Koran. Finding Dolaree to be not the most faithful of wives to Roostum, she would not admit them into the Nawab's house, but she assisted them with food and raiment; and Roostum entered the service—as a groom—of a trooper in the King's cavalry, called Abas Kolee Beg. Dolaree had given birth to a boy, who was named Mahommed Allee; and she now gave birth to a daughter; but she had cohabited with a blacksmith and an elephant-driver in the neighbourhood, and it became a much "vexed question" whether the son and daughter resembled most Roostum, the blacksmith, or the elephant- driver; all, however, were agreed upon the point of Dolaree's backslidings. Mahommed Allee, alias Kywan Ja, was three years of age, and the daughter, Zeenut-on Nissa, one year and half, when some belted attendants from the palace came to Roostumnugger in search of a wet-nurse for the young prince, Moona Jan, who had been born the night before; and Bebee Mulatee, whose reputation for learning had readied the royal family, sent off Dolaree as one of the candidates for employment. Her appearance pleased the queen, the Padshah Begum, the quality of her milk was pronounced by the royal physicians to be first rate, and she was chosen, as wet-nurse for the new-born prince.
Moona Jan's father (then heir-apparent to the throne of Oude) no sooner saw Dolaree than, to the astonishment of the Queen and her Court, he fell desperately in love with her, though she seemed very plain and very vulgar to all other eyes; and he could neither repose himself, nor permit anybody else in the palace to repose, till he obtained the King's and Queen's consent to his making her his wife, which he did in 1826. She soon acquired an entire ascendancy over his weak mind, and, anxious to surround herself in her exalted station by people on whom she could entirely rely, she invited the learned Bebee Mulatee and her daughter, Jumeel-on Nissa, and her son, Kasim Beg, to the palace, and placed them in high and confidential posts. She invited at the same time Futteh Allee and Warus Allee, the sons of Futteh Morad by his second wife; and persuaded the King that they were all people of high lineage, who had been reduced, by unmerited misfortunes, to accept employments so humble. All were raised to the rank of Nawabs, and placed in situations of high trust and emoluments. Kuramut-on Nissa, too, the sister of Futteh Morad, was invited; but when Dolaree's husband—the humble Roostum—ventured to approach the Court, he was seized and imprisoned in a fort in the Bangur district till the death of Nuseer-od Deen, when he was released. He came to Lucknow, but died soon after.
Soon after the death of Ghazee-od Deen had placed the heir-apparent, her husband, on the throne, 20th of October, 1827, she fortified herself still further by high alliances: and her son, Mahommed Allee, was affianced to the daughter of Rokun-od Dowla, brother of the late King; and her daughter, Zeenut-on Nissa, to Moomtaz-od Dowla, the prince of whom I am writing. These two marriages were celebrated at a cost of about thirty lacs of rupees; Dolaree was declared the first consort of the King, under the title of "Mulika Zamanee," queen of the age, and received an estate in land yielding six lacs of rupees a-year for pin-money. Not satisfied with this, she prevailed upon the King to declare her son, Mahommed Allee, alias Kywan Ja, to be his own and eldest son, and heir-apparent to the throne; and to demand his recognition as such from the British Government, through its representative, the Resident. His Majesty, with great solemnity, assured the Resident, on many occasions during November and December, 1827, that Kywan Ja was his eldest son; and told him that had he not been so, his uncle would never have consented to bestow his daughter upon him in marriage, nor should he himself have consented to expend twenty lacs of rupees in the ceremonies. The Resident told him that the universal impression at Lucknow was, that the boy was three years of age when his mother was first introduced to his Majesty. But this had no effect; and, to remove all further doubts and discussions on the subject, he wrote a letter himself to the Governor-General, earnestly protesting that Kywan Ja was his eldest son and heir-apparent to the throne; and as such he was sent from Lucknow to Cawnpoor to meet and escort over Lord Combermere in December, 1827.
On the birth of Moonna Jan, the then King, Ghazee-od Deen Hyder, declared to the Resident that the boy was not his grandson, and that his son, Nuseer-od Deen, pretended that he was his son merely to please his imperious mother, the Padshah Begum, and to annoy his father, with whom they were both on bad terms. Ghazee-od Deen had, however, before his death declared that he believed Moonna Jan to be his grandson.* In February, 1832, the King, Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, first through the minister, and then in person, assured the Resident that neither of the boys was his son, and requested that he would report the same to his Government, and assure the Governor-General "that both reports, as to these boys being sons of his, were false, and arose from the same cause, bribery and ambition, that Mulika Zumanee had paid many lacs of rupees to influential people about him to persuade him to call her son his, and declare him heir-apparent to the throne; and that Fazl Allee and Sookcheyn had done the same to induce others to persuade him to acknowledge Moonna Jan to be his son. But, said his Majesty, I know positively that he is not my son, and my father knew the same."
[* I believe that Ghazee-od Deen's first repudiation of Moonna Jan arose entirely from a desire to revenge himself upon his termagant wife, whose furious temper left him no peace. She was, from his birth, very fond of the boy; and to question his legitimacy was to wound her in her tenderest point. This was the "raw" which her husband established, and which his son and successor afterwards worked upon.]
The wary minister then, to clench the matter, remarked that his Majesty had mentioned to him that he had ceased to cohabit with Moonna Jan's mother for twenty-four months before the boy was born; and the King assured the Resident that this was quite true. Hakeem Mehndee was as anxious as Aga Meer had been to keep the King estranged from his imperious mother, and the only sure way was to make him persist in repudiating the boy or postponing his claim to the succession.
Mulika Zumanee's influence over the king had, however, been eclipsed, first, by Miss Walters, Mokuddera Ouleea, whose history has already been given; secondly, by the beautiful Taj Mahal; and, thirdly, by the Kuduseea Begum. She entered the palace as a waiting-woman to Mulika Zumanee, and, on the 17th of December, 1831, the King married her; and from that day till her death, on the 21st of August, 1834, she reigned supreme in the palace and in the King's affections.
On the King's paying a visit of ceremony to Mulika Zumanee one evening, he asked for water, and it was brought to him in a gold cup, on a silver tray, by the Kuduseea Begum, then one of the women in waiting. Her face was partially unveiled; and the King, after drinking, threw the last few drops from the cup over her veil in play. In return, she threw the few drops that had been spilled on the salver upon the King's robe, or vest. He pretended to be angry, and asked her, with a frown, how she could dare to besprinkle her sovereign; she replied—"When children play together there is no distinction between the prince and the peasant." The King was charmed with her half-veiled beauty and spirit, and he paid a second visit the next day, and again asked for water. He did the same as the first day, and she returned the compliment in the same way. He came a third time and asked for water, but Mulika Zumanee had become alarmed, and it was presented by another and less dangerous person. A few days after, however, the Queen was constrained to allow her fair attendant to attend the King, and receive from him formal proposals of marriage, which she accepted.
She was handsome and generous; but there was no discrimination in her bounty, and she is said to have received from the King nearly two millions of money out of the reserved treasury for pin-money alone. Of this she saved forty-four lacs of rupees. The King never touched this money, and it formed, in a separate apartment, the greater part of the seventy lacs found in his reserved treasury on his death, out of the ten krores or ten millions sterling, which he found there when he ascended the throne in 1827.
She is said to have been the only one of his wives who ever had any real affection for the King. She was haughty and imperious in her temper; and the only female, who had any influence over her, was a Mogulanee, who taught her to read and write. She assisted her mistress very diligently in spending her pin-money, and made the fortunes of sundry of her relations. Altercations between the Kuduseea Begum and the King were not uncommon; but, on the 21st of August, 1834, the King became unusually excited, and told her that he had raised her from bondage to the throne, and could as easily cast her back into the same vile condition. Her proud spirit could not brook this, and she instantly swallowed arsenic. The King relented, and every remedy was tried, but in vain. The King watched over her agonies till she was about to expire, when he fled in a frantic state and took refuge in the apartments of the race-stand, about three miles from the palace, till the funeral ceremonies were over. It is said, that in her anxiety to give birth to an heir to the throne, she got the husband, from whom she had been divorced, smuggled into her apartments in the palace in a female dress more than once; and that this was reported to the King, and became the real cause of the dispute.
The Mogulanee attendant, who had accumulated twenty lacs of rupees, was seized and commanded to disgorge. She offered five lacs to Court favourites on condition that they saw her safely over the river Ganges into British territory. The most grave of them were commissioned to wait upon his Majesty, and entreat him most earnestly to banish her forthwith from his territories, as she was known, in the first place, to be one of the most potent sorceresses in India; and, in the next, to have been exceedingly attached to her late mistress: that they had strong grounds to believe that it was her intention to send his Majesty's spirit after hers, that they might be united in the next world us they had been in this. The King got angry, and said, that he had no dread of sorceresses, and would make the old lady disgorge her twenty lacs. That very night, however, in his sleep, he saw the Kuduseea Begum enter his room, approach his bed, look upon him with a countenance still more kind and bright than in life, and then return slowly with her face still towards him, and beckoning him with her hand to follow! As soon as he awoke he became greatly agitated and alarmed, and ordered the old sorceress to be sent forthwith across the Ganges to Cawnpoor. She paid her five lacs, and took off about fifteen; but what became of her afterwards I have not heard.
One of the first cases that I had to decide, after taking charge of my office, was that of a claim to five Government notes of twenty thousand rupees each, left by Sultan Mahal, one of the late King, Amjud Allee Shah's, widows. The claimants were the reigning King, and the mother, brother, and sister of the deceased widow. She was the daughter of a greengrocer, and, in February 1846, at the age of sixteen, she went to the palace with vegetables. The King saw and fell in love with her; and she forthwith became one of his wives, under the name of "Sultan Mahal." In November, 1846, the King invested eighteen lacs and thirty thousand rupees in Government notes as a provision for his wives and other female relations. The notes were to be made out in their names respectively; and the interest was to be paid to them and their heirs. Of this sum, Sultan Mahal was to have one hundred thousand; and, on the 21st of November, she drew the interest, in anticipation, up to the 30th of December of that year. The five notes for twenty thousand each, in her name, were received in the Resident's Treasury on the 20th of April, 1847. On the 28th of August, she sent an application for the Notes to the Resident, but died the next day. The King, her husband, had died on the 18th February, 1847.
Nine days after, on the 6th of September, the new King, Wajid Allee Shah, sent an application to have these five notes transferred to one of his own wives; urging, that, as his father and the Sultan Mahal had both died, he alone ought to be considered as the heir. It was decided, that the mother, sister, and brother were the rightful heirs to the Sultan Mahal; and the amount was distributed among them according to Mahommedan law. The question was, however, submitted to Government at his Majesty's request; and the decision of the Resident was upheld on the ground that the notes were in the lady's name, and she had actually drawn interest on them; and, as she died intestate, they became the property of her heirs.
By a deed of engagement with the British Government, dated the 1st of March, 1820, the King contributed to the five per cent loan the sum of sixty-two lacs and forty thousand rupees, the interest of which, at five per cent, our Government pledged itself to pay, in perpetuity, to four females of the King's family. To Mulika Zumanee, ten thousand a-month; to her daughter, Zeenut-on Nissa, four thousand; to Mokuddera Ouleea (Miss Walters), six thousand; and to Taj Mahal, six thousand: total, twenty-six thousand rupees a-month. On the death of Mulika Zamanee, which took place on the 22nd December, 1843, her daughter succeeded to her pension of six thousand a-month.
The other portion of her pension—four thousand rupees a-month—went to her grandson, Wuzeer Mirza, the son of Kywan Ja, who had died on the 16th of May, 1838, before his mother.* Of this four thousand a- month, one thousand are given to Zeenut-on Nissa for the boy's subsistence and education, and three thousand a-month are invested in Government securities, to be paid to him when he comes of age. But, besides the six thousand rupees a-month which she inherits from her mother, Zeenut-on Nissa enjoys the pension of four thousand rupees a- month, which was assigned to her by the King in the same deed; so that she now draws eleven thousand rupees a-month, independent of her husband's income.** By this deed the stipends are to descend to the heirs of the pensioners, if they have any; and if they have none, they can bequeath their pensions to whom they please. Should they have no heirs, and leave no will, the stipends are to go to the moojtahids and moojawurs, or presiding priests of the shrine of kurbala, in Turkish Arabia, for distribution among the needy pilgrims.
[* Wuzeer Mirza is not the son of Rokun-od Dowla's daughter. Kywan Ja's marriage with that lady was never consummated.]
[** She takes after her mother, and makes her worthy husband very miserable. She is ill-tempered, haughty, and profligate.]
An European lady, who visited the zunana of the King, Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, on the anniversary of his coronation, on the 18th of October, 1828, writes thus to a female friend:—"But the present King's wives were superbly dressed, and looked like creatures of the Arabian Tales. Indeed, one (Taj Mahal) was so beautiful, that I could think of nothing but Lalla Rookh in her bridal attire. I never saw any one so lovely, either black or white. Her features were perfect, and such eyes and eye-lashes I never, beheld before. She is the favourite Queen at present, and has only been married a month or two, her age, about fourteen; and such a little creature, with the smallest hands and feet, and the most timid, modest look imaginable. You would have been charmed with her, she was so graceful and fawn-like. Her dress was of gold and scarlet brocade, and her hair was literally strewed with pearls, which hung down upon her neck in long single strings, terminating in large pearls, which mixed with and hung as low as her hair, which was curled on each side her head in long ringlets, like Charles the Second's beauties. On her forehead she wore a small gold circlet, from which depended and hung, half way down, large pearls interspersed with emeralds. Above this was a paradise plume, from which strings of pearls were carried over the head, as we turn our hair. Her earrings were immense gold rings, with pearls and emeralds suspended all round in large strings, the pearls increasing in size. She had a nose ring also with large round pearls and emeralds; and her necklaces, &c., were too numerous to be described. She wore long sleeves, open at the elbow; and her dress was a full petticoat with a tight body attached, and open only at the throat. She had several persons to bear her train when she walked; and her women stood behind her couch to arrange her head-dress, when, in moving, her pearls got entangled in the immense robe of scarlet and gold she had thrown around her. This beautiful creature is the envy of all the other wives, and the favourite at present of both the King and his mother, both of whom have given her titles—See Mrs. Park's Wandering, vol. i., page 87. Taj Mahal still lives and enjoys a pension of six thousand rupees a-month, under the guarantee of the British Government. She became very profligate after the King's death; and after she had given birth to one child, it was deemed necessary to place a guard over her to prevent her dishonouring the memory of the King, her husband, any further by giving birth to more."
Of Miss Walters, alias Mokuddera Ouleea, the same lady writes:—"The other newly-made Queen is nearly European, but not a whit fairer than Taj Mahal. She is, in my opinion, plain; but she is considered by the native ladies very handsome, and she was the King's favourite before he saw Taj Mahal. She was more splendidly dressed than even Taj Mahal. Her head-dress was a coronet of diamonds, with a fine crescent and plume of the same. She is the daughter of a European merchant, and is accomplished for an inhabitant of a zunana, as she writes and speaks Persian fluently, as well as Hindoostanee; and it is said that she is teaching the King English, though when we spoke to her in English, she said she had forgotten it, and could not reply. She was, I fancy, afraid of the Queen Dowager, as she evidently understood us; and when asked if she liked being in the zunana, she shook her head and looked quite melancholy. Jealousy of the new favourite, however, appeared to be the cause of her discontent, as, though they sat on the same couch, they never addressed each other."
Of Mulika Zumanee, the same lady says:—"The mother of the King's children, Mulika Zumanee, did not visit us at the Queen Dowager's; but we went to see her at her own palace. She is, after all, the person of the most political consequence, being the mother of the heir-apparent; and she has great power over her royal husband, whose ears she boxes occasionally."
Nuseer-od Deen Hyder's death—His repudiation of his son, Moonna Jan, leads to the succession of his uncle, Nuseer-od Dowlah—Contest for the succession between these two persons—The Resident supports the uncle; and the Padshah Begum supports the son—The ministers supposed to have poisoned the King—Made to disgorge their ill-gotten wealth by his successor—Obligations of the treaty of 1801, by which Oude was divided into two equal shares—One transferred to the British Government, one reserved by Oude—Estimated value of each at the time of treaty—Present value of each—The sovereign often warned that unless he governs as he ought, the British Government cannot support him, but must interpose and take the administration upon itself—All such warnings have been utterly disregarded—No security to life or property in any part of Oude—Fifty years of experience has proved, that we cannot make the government of Oude fulfil its duties to its people—The alternative left appears to be to take the management upon ourselves, and give the surplus revenue to the sovereign and royal family of Oude—Probable effects of such a change on the feelings and interests of the people of Oude.
When in February, 1832, the King, Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, assured the Resident that Moonna Jan was not his son. Lord William Bentinck was Governor-General of India. A more thoroughly honest man never, I believe, presided over the government of any country. The question of right to succession was long maturely and most anxiously considered, after these repeated and formal repudiations on the part of the King, Nuseer-od Deen Hyder; and Government would willingly have deferred a final decision on so important a question longer, but it was deemed unsafe any longer from the debauched habits of the King, the chance of his sudden death, and the risk of a tumult in such a city, to leave the representative of the paramount power unprepared to proclaim its will in favour of the rightful heir, the moment that a demise took place. Under these considerations, instructions were sent to the Resident, on the 15th of December, 1833, in case of the King's death without a son, or pregnant consort, to declare the eldest surviving brother of the late King, Ghazee-od Deen Hyder, heir to the throne, and have him placed upon it. According to the law already noticed (which applies as well to sovereignty as to property) the sons of Shums-od Dowlah, the second son of Saadut Allee Khan, who had died shortly before his eldest and reigning brother, Ghazee-od Deen, were excluded from all claims to the succession, and the right devolved upon the third son of Saadut Allee, Nuseer-od Dowlah. Ghazee-od Deen had only one son, the reigning sovereign, Nuseer-od Deen Hyder.
This prince had impaired his constitution by drinking and other vicious indulgences, in which he had been encouraged in early life by his designing or inconsiderate adoptive mother, the Padshah Begum; but for some time before his death, he used frequently to declare to his most intimate companions that he felt sure he should die of poison, and that at no distant period. He for some time before his death had a small well in the palace, over which he kept his own lock and key; and he kept the same over the jar, in which he drew the water from it for his own drinking. The keys were suspended by a gold chain around his neck. The persons who gave him his drink, except when taking it out of English sealed bottles, were two sisters, Dhuneea and Dulwee. The latter and youngest is now the wife of Wasee Allee Khan. The eldest, Dhuneea, still resides at Lucknow. The general impression at Lucknow and over all Oude was, that the British Government would, take upon itself the management of the country on the death, without issue, of Nuseer-od Deen Hyder; and the King himself latterly seemed rather pleased than otherwise at the thought that he should be the last of the Oude kings. He had repudiated his own son, and was unwilling that any other member of the family should fill his place. The minister and the other public officers and Court favourites, who had made large fortunes, wished it, as it was understood by some, that by such a measure they would be secured from all scrutiny into their accounts, and enabled to keep securely all that they had accumulated.
About half-past eleven, on the night of the 7th July, 1837, the Durbar Wakeel, Gholam Yaheea,* came to the Resident and reported that the King had been taken suddenly ill, and appeared to be either dead or in a dying state, from the symptoms described to him by his Majesty's attendants. The Resident, Colonel Low, ordered his two Assistants, Captains Paton and Shakespear, the Head Moonshee and Head Clerk, to be in attendance, and wrote to request the Brigadier, commanding the troops in Oude, to hold one thousand men in readiness to march to the Residency at a moment's notice. The Residency is situated in the city near the Furra Buksh Palace, in which the King resided. The Resident intended that five companies of this force should be sent in advance of the main body and guns, for the purpose of placing, sentries over the palace gates, treasuries, and other places containing valuables within the walls. But this intention was not unfortunately made known to the Brigadier. Captain Magness, who commanded a corps of infantry with six guns, and a squadron of horse, had been ordered by the minister at half-past eight o'clock, to proceed with them to a place near the southern entrance of the palace, and there to wait for further instructions, and he did so. This was three hours before the minister made any report to the Resident of the King's illness, and Captain Magness was told by the people in attendance that the King was either dead or dying.
[* Gholam Yaheea Khan was the maternal uncle of Shurf-od Dowlah, who was, afterwards, some time minister under Mahommed Allee Shah.]
Having given these orders, the Resident proceeded to the palace, attended by Captain Paton, the first Assistant, and Dr. Stevenson, the Residency Surgeon. They found the King lying dead upon his bed, but his body was still warm, and Dr. Stevenson opened a vein in one arm. Blood flowed freely from it, but no other sign of life could be discovered. His features were placid and betrayed no sign of his having suffered any pain; and the servants in attendance declared that the only sign of suffering they had heard or seen was a slight shriek, to which the King gave utterance before he expired; that after that shriek he neither moved, spoke, nor showed any sign whatever of life. His Majesty had been unwell for three weeks, but no one had any apprehension of danger from his symptoms. He had called for some sherbet a short time before his death, and it was given to him by Dhuneea, the eldest of the two sisters.
The Resident took with him a guard of sipahees from his escort, and Captain Paton distributed them as double sentries at the inner doors of the palace, and outside the chief buildings and store-rooms, with orders to allow no one but the ministers and treasurers to pass. Captain Madness had placed one sentry before at each of these places, and he now added a second, making a party of four sipahees at each post. Captain Paton at the same time, in conjunction with the officers of the Court, placed seals on all the jewels and other valuables belonging to the King and his establishments; and as the night was very dark, placed torch-bearers at all places where they appeared to be required.
Having made these arrangements the Resident returned with Dr. Stevenson to the Residency, leaving Captain Paton at the palace; and wrote to the Brigadier to request that he would send off the five companies in advance to the palace direct, and bring down all his disposable troops, including artillery, to the city. The distance from the palace to the cantonments, round by the old stone bridge, was about four miles and half. The iron bridge, which shortens the distance by a mile and half, had not then been thrown over the Goomtee river, which flows between them. The Resident then had drawn up, for the consent of the new king, a Persian paper, declaring that he was prepared to sign any new treaty for the better government of the country that the British Government might think proper to propose to him.
It was now one o'clock in the morning of the 8th of July, and Captain Shakespear, attended by the Meer Moonshee, Iltufat Hoseyn, and the Durbar Wakeel, proceeded to the house of the new sovereign, Nuseer-od Dowlah, who then resided where the present King now resides, a distance of about a mile from the Residency. The visit was altogether unexpected; and, as the new sovereign had been for some time ill, some delay took place in arranging for the reception of the mission. After explaining the object of his visit. Captain Shakespear presented the paper, which the King perused with great attention, and then signed without hesitation. Captain Shakespear returned with it to the Resident, who repaired again to the palace, and sent Captain Paton, the first Assistant, to the Residency, to proceed thence with Captain Shakespear and the Durbar Wakeel, to the house of the new sovereign, and escort him to the palace, where he would be in readiness to receive him. He arrived about three o'clock in the morning, and being infirm from age, and exceedingly reduced from recent illness, he was, after a short conversation with the Resident, left in a small adjoining room, to repose for a few hours preparatory to his being placed on the throne and crowned in due form. His eldest surviving son, afterwards Amjud Allee Shah, his sons, the present King, Wajid Allee Shah, and Mirza Jawad Khan, the King's foster brother, Hummeed-od Dowlah, and his confidential servant, Rufeek-od Dowla, were left in the room with him; and the Resident and his Assistants sat in the verandah facing the river Goomtee, which flows under the walls, conversing on the ceremonies to be observed at the approaching coronation, and the persons to be invited to assist at it, when they were suddenly interrupted by the intelligence that the Padshah Begum, the adoptive mother of the late King, with a large armed force, and the young pretender, Moonna Jan, were coming on to seize upon the throne, and might soon be expected at the principal entrance to the palace to the north-west.
When the Resident was about to proceed to the palace, the first time about midnight, he was assured by the minister, Roshun-od Dowla, that every possible precaution had been taken by him to prevent the Padshah Begum from attempting any such enterprise, or from leaving her residence with the young pretender; that he had placed strong bodies of troops in every street or road by which she could come. But, to make more sure, and prevent her leaving her residence at the Almas gardens, five miles from the palace, the Resident sent off one of his chobdars, Khoda Buksh, with two troopers and a verbal message, enjoining her to remain quietly at her palace. These men found her with her equipage in the midst of a large mass of armed followers, ready to set out for the palace. They delivered their message from the Resident, but were sent back with her Wakeel, Mirza Allee, to request that she might be permitted to look upon the dead body of the late King, since she had not been permitted to see him for so long a period before his death. But they reached the Resident with this message, only ten minutes before the Begum's troops were thundering for admittance at the gate. The Resident gave the chobdar a note for the officer in command of the five companies, supposed to be in advance on their way down from cantonments; but before he could get with this note five hundred yards from the palace, he met the Begum and her disorderly band filling the road and pressing on as fast as they could. Unable to proceed, he returned to the palace with all haste, and gave the Resident the first notice of their near approach. Captain Magness had placed two of his six guns at each of the three entrances to the south and west, but was now ordered to collect all, and proceed to the north-western entrance, towards which the Begum was advancing. Before he could get to that entrance she had passed in, and he returned to the south-western entrance for further orders.
On passing the mausoleum of Asuf-od Dowlah, where the Kotwal or head police officer of the city resided, she summoned him, with all his available police, to attend his sovereign to the throne of his ancestors. He promised obedience, but, with all his police, stood aloof, thinking that her side might not be the safe one to take in such an emergency. A little further on she passed Hussun Bagh, the residence of the chief consort of the late King and niece of the emperor of Delhi, and summoned and brought her on, to give some countenance to her audacious enterprise. The Resident admonished the minister for his negligence and falsehood in the assurance he had given him; and directed Rajah Bukhtawur Sing, with his squadron of one hundred and fifty horse, and Mozuffer-od Dowlah, the father of Ajum-od Dowlah, and Khadim Hoseyn, the son-in-law of Sobhan Allee Khan, the deputy minister, with all the armed men they could muster, to arrest the progress of the pretender; but nothing whatever was done, and the excited mass came on, and augmented as it came in noise and numbers. All whom the Resident sent to check them, out of fear or favour, avoided collision, and sought safety either in their homes or among the pretender's bands.
Captain Paton, as soon as he heard the pretender's' men approach, rushed to the gate to the north-west, towards which the throng was approaching rapidly. He had only four belted attendants with him, and the gate was guarded only by a small party of useless sipahees, under the control of three or four black slaves. By the time he had roused the sleepy guard and closed the gates, the pretender's armed mass came up, and with foul abuse, imprecations, and with threats of instant death to all who opposed them, demanded admittance. Captain Paton told them, that the Resident had been directed by the British Government to place Nuseer-od Dowlah, the uncle of the late King, on the throne as the rightful heir; that he was now in the palace, and all who opposed him would be treated as rebels; that the gates were all closed by order of the Resident, and all who attempted to force them would be put to death. All was in vain. They told him with fury that the Padshah Begum, and the son of the late King, and rightful heir to the throne, were among them, and must be instantly admitted. Captain Paton despatched a messenger to the Resident to say, that he could hold the gate no longer without troops: but before he could get a reply, the insurgents brought up an elephant to force in the gate with his head. The first failed in the attempt, and drew back with a frightful roar. A second, urged on by a furious driver, broke in the gate, one-half fell with a crash to the ground, and the elephant plunged in after it. Captain Paton was standing with his back against this half, and must have been killed; but Mukun, one of his chuprassies, seeing the gate giving way, caught him by the arm and dragged him behind the other half. The other three chuprassies ran off in a fright and hid themselves. Two of them were Surubdawun Sing and Juggurnath, two brothers, who will be mentioned elsewhere in this diary.*
[* See Juggurnath chuprassie in Chapter V., Vol. II.]
The furious and confused mass rushed in through the half-opened gate, and beat Captain Paton to the ground with their bludgeons, the hilts of their swords, and the butt-ends of their muskets. Mukun, chuprassie, his only remaining attendant, was beaten down at the same time and severely bruised, but he soon got up, covered with blood, made his way out through the crowd, and ran to meet the five companies of the 35th Regiment, then not far distant, under Colonel Monteath. As soon as he heard from Mukun the state in which he had left his master, he sent on a party of thirty sipahees under Captain Cowley, with orders to make all possible haste to the rescue. They arrived in time to save his life from the fury of the assailants, but found him insensible from his wounds.
In a few minutes every court-yard within the palace walls was filled with the armed and disorderly mass. The Resident, Captain Shakespear, and their few attendants, tried to stop them by every impediment they could throw in their way, but in vain. The assailants rushed past or over them, brandishing their swords and firelocks, with loud shoutings and flaming torches, and soon filled all the apartments of the palace, save those occupied by the ladies and their female attendants, and the dead body of the late King. The Resident and his Assistant, and the Meer Moonshee, were soon separated from the new sovereign and his small party, who lay for some time concealed in the small room in which he had been left to repose, while they were confined to the northern verandah overlooking the river, and the long room leading into it. The armed and furious throng filled all the other rooms of the palace, the court-yard, eighty yards long, leading to the baraduree (or summer-house) and all the four great halls of that building, in one of which the throne stood.
The Resident felt that he was helpless in his present position, and unable to do anything whatever to prevent the temporary triumph of the insurgents, and the consequent tumult, pillage, and loss of life that must follow; and that it would be better to try any change than to remain in that helpless state. He thought that he might, if he could once reach the Begum, be able to persuade her of the impossibility of her ultimately succeeding in her attempt to keep the pretender on the throne; and if not, that it would be of advantage to get so much nearer to the place where the British troops most soon arrive, and be drawn up in a garden to the south of the baraduree, and to gain time for their arrival by a personal and open conference with the Begum, during which he thought her followers would not be likely to proceed to violence against his person, and those of his attendants. He therefore persuaded one of the rebel sentries placed over him to apprize the Begum that he wished to speak to her. She sent to him Mirza Allee, one of her Wakeels; and with him Captain Shakespear, and the Meer Moonshee, he forced his way through the dense crowd, and got safely into the baraduree.
They found all the four halls, small apartments, and verandahs, leading into them, filled with armed men in a state of great excitement, and in the act of placing the pretender, Moonna Jan, on the throne. The Begum sat in a covered palankeen at the foot of the throne; and as the Resident entered, the band struck up "God save the King," answered by a salute of blunderbusses within, and a double royal salute from the guns in the "jullooknana," or northern court-yard of the palace through which the Begun had passed in. Other guns, which had been collected in the confusion to salute somebody (though those who commanded and served them knew not whom), continued the salute through the streets without. A party of dancing-girls, belonging to the late King, or brought up by the Begum, began to dance and sing as loud as they could at the end of the long hall in front of the throne, at the same time that the crowd within and without shouted their congratulations at the top of their voices, and every man who had a sword, spear, musket, or matchlock, flourished it in the air amidst a thousand torches. A scene more strange and wild it would be difficult to conceive.
In the midst of all this the Resident and his Assistants remained cool under all kinds of foul abuse and threats from a multitude so excited, that they seemed more like demons than human beings, and resolved to force them to commit some act or make use of some expression that might seem to justify their murder. They fired muskets close to their ears, pointed others loaded and cocked close to their breasts and faces, flourished swords close to their noses, called them all kinds of opprobrious names, but all in vain. The Resident, in the midst of all this confusion, pointed out to the Begum the impossibility of her ultimately succeeding in her attempt to secure the throne for the pretender, since he was acting under the orders of his Government, who had declared the right to be another's; and if he and all his Assistants were killed, his Government would soon send others to carry out their orders. "I am," she said, "in my right place, and so is the young King, my grandson, and so are you. Why do you talk to me or to anybody else of leaving the throne and the baraduree?" But some of her furious followers, afraid that she might yield, seized him by his neckcloth, dragged him towards the throne, on which the boy sat, and commanded him to present his offerings of congratulation on the threat of instant death. They had, they said, placed him on the throne of his ancestors by order of the Begum, and would maintain him there. Had he or either of his Assistants lost their temper or presence of mind, and attempted to resent any of the affronts offered to them, they must have been all instantly put to death, and a general massacre of all their supposed adherents, and the pillage of the palace and city, would have followed.
The Begum's Wakeel, Mirza Allee, seeing the life of the Resident and those of his Assistants and attendants in such imminent peril, since he so resolutely refused to give any sign whatever of recognition to the pretender, and aware of the consequences that would inevitably follow their murder, seized him by the arm, and in a loud voice shouted out that it was the Begum's order that he should conduct him out into the garden to the south. He pushed on with him through the crowd, followed by all his small party, and with great difficulty and danger they at last reached the garden, where Colonel Monteath had just brought in and drawn up his five companies in a line facing the baraduree. Finding the entrance to the north-west occupied by the Begum's party. Colonel Monteath marched along the street to the west of the palace, and entered the baraduree garden by the south-west gate. As the Resident went out. Colonel Roberts, who commanded a brigade in the Oude service, went in, and presented to the pretender his offering of gold mohurs, and then went off and hid himself, to wait the result of the contest. Captain Magness drew up his men and guns on the left of Colonel Monteath's, and was told to prepare for action. He told the Resident that he did not feel quite sure of his men in such a crisis, and the line of British sipahees was made to cover his rear, to secure them. The King and minister had commanded him to act precisely as directed by the Resident, and he himself knew this to be his only safe course, but the hearts of his men were with Moonna Jan and the Begum.
The Begum, as soon as the Resident left her, deeming all safe, went over to the female apartments, where her adopted son, the late king, lay dead; and after gazing for a minute upon his corpse, returned to the foot of the throne, on which the pretender had now been seated for more than three hours. It was manifest that nothing but force could now remove the boy and his supporters, but the Begum tried to gain more time in the hope of support from a popular insurrection from without, which might take off the British troops from the garden; and she sent evasive messages to the Resident by her wakeels, urging him to come once more to her, since it was impossible for her to make her way to him without danger of collision between the troops of the two States. He refused to put himself again in her power, and commanded her to come down with the boy to him and surrender; and promised that if she did so, and directed all her armed followers to quit the palace and city of Lucknow, all that had passed should be forgiven, and the large pension of fifteen thousand rupees a-month, promised by the late King, secured to her for life. All was in vain, and the Begum was gaining her object. Robberies of State property in the eastern and more retired parts of the palace-buildings had commenced. Gold, jewels, shawls, &c., to a large amount were being carried off. Much of such property lay about in places not guarded by Captain Paton in the morning, or known to the minister, or other respectable servants of the State, all holding out temptation to pillage. Acts of plunder and ill-treatment to unoffending and respectable persons in the city were every moment reported, and six or eight houses had been already pillaged, and attempts had been made on others by small parties, who were every moment increasing in numbers and ferocity.
Several parties of the King's troops had openly deserted their posts and joined the pretender's followers in the baraduree, and dense masses of armed men were crowding in upon the British troops, whose officer became anxious, and urged the Resident to action, lest they should no longer have room to use their arms. At one time these armed crowds got within two yards of the British front; and on Colonel Monteath's telling them to retire a few paces and leave him a clear front, they did so in a sullen and insolent manner, and one of them actually attempted to seize one of the sipahees by his whiskers, and an affray was with difficulty prevented.
Mostufa Khan, Kundaharee, who had command of a regiment of a thousand horse in the late King's service, was with many others commanded by the Begum to attend the young King on the throne; and he did so some time after Brigadier Johnstone reached the garden, in front of the baraduree, though he knew that Nuseer-od Dowlah had been declared the rightful heir to the throne, and was actually in the palace. He said that "he was the servant of the throne; that the young King was actually seated upon it, and that he would support him there, happen what might." He presented his offerings of gold to the young King, and was forthwith appointed to supersede all the other wakeels in the Begum's negotiations with the Resident. He merely repeated what the other wakeels had said, urging the Resident to go up to the Begum, since she could not come down to him. The Resident repeated to him what he had told the Begum herself, and taking out his watch, told him that unless his orders were obeyed in less than one-quarter of an hour, the guns should open upon the throne-room; that when once they opened, neither she nor her followers could expect favour, or even mercy; and unless he, Mostapha Khan, separated himself from her party, he should be hung as a traitor if taken alive.
Owing to the height of some houses and walls about the left part of the position of the British troops, the guns could not be conveniently brought to bear upon the south-western corner of the baraduree and throne-room, and two of the guns had to be taken round by a road one-third of a mile, to be placed in a better position. On seeing this the crowd shouted out, "The cravens are already running away!" and became more insolent and furious than ever.
The minister and Durbar Wakeel had been swept away by the crowd, who rushed into the palace, and separated from the Resident and his party, and as they passed through the balcony overlooking the river, the wakeel threw off his turban, and leaped over from a height of about twenty feet. The ground was soft, but he sprained both his ankles. He was taken up by some boatmen, who had put-to near the bank, and concealed in their boat till the affair was over. The new sovereign remained still unnoticed, and apparently unknown, having long led a secluded life; but his son, grandsons, and the rest of his attendants were at last discovered, very roughly treated by the insurgents, and would, it is said, have been put to death, had not Rajah Bukhtawur Sing and some others, who thought it safe to be on friendly terms with the ruffians, persuaded them that they would be useful hostages in case of a reverse. The minister had had all his clothes, save his trousers, torn from him, and his arms and legs pinioned preparatory to execution, and the princes had been treated with little more ceremony. All had given themselves up for lost.
The Begum remained firm to her purpose, her hopes from without increasing with the increasing noise, tumult, and reports of pillage in the city. The quarter of an hour had passed, and the Resident, turning to the Brigadier, told him, that the work was now in his hands, just an hour and twenty minutes after he had brought his troops into the garden. The guns from the British, and Captain Magness' parks opened at the same instant upon the throne-room and the other halls of the baraduree with grape; and after six or seven rounds, a party of the 35th Regiment, under Major Marshall, was ordered to storm the halls. With muskets loaded and bayonets fixed they rushed first through a narrow covered passage; then up a steep flight of steps, and then into the throne-room, firing upon the affrighted crowd as they advanced, and following them up with the bayonet as they rushed out over the two flights of steps on the north side, and through the courtyard which separates the baraduree from the palace. Other parties of sipahees ascended at the same time over ladders collected at the suggestion of Doctor Stevenson, and placed on the southern front of the baraduree; and the halls were soon cleared of the insurgents, who left from forty to fifty men killed and wounded on the floors of the four halls.* In this assault Mostufa Khan, Kundaharee, was killed. Moonna Jan was found concealed in a small recess under the throne, and the Begum in a small adjoining room, to which she had been carried as soon as the guns opened. They were taken into custody, and sent to the Residency, with Imam Buksh, a bihishtee, or water-carrier, a notorious villain, who had been her chief instigator in all this affair, and appointed Commander-in-Chief to the young King. Many who had been wounded got out of the halls, and some even reached their homes, but the killed and wounded are supposed to have amounted altogether to about one hundred and twenty. The Begum and the boy were accommodated in the Residency, and their Commander-in-Chief was made over to the King's Courts for trial. He is still in prison at Lucknow. No one was killed on our side, but three or four of our sipahees were wounded in the assault.