Zitierweise / cite as:
Payer, Alois <1944 - >: Quellenkunde zur indischen Geschichte bis 1858. -- 15. Frühe europäische Quellen und Quellen aus der Zeit der East India Companies. --14. Zum Beispiel: François Bernier: Travels in the Mogul empire, A.D. 1656-1668 <Auszüge>. -- Fassung vom 2008-06-11. -- http://www.payer.de/quellenkunde/quellen1514.htm
Erstmals publiziert als:
Bernier, François <1620-1688>: Travels in the Mogul empire, A.D. 1656-1668 / by François Bernier ... Translated on the basis of Irving Brock’s version and annotated by Archibald Constable (1891). -- 2d ed., rev / by Vincent A. Smith [1848 - 1920]. -- London [u.a.] : Milford, Oxford University Press, 1916. li, 497, S. : Ill; 19 cm. -- S. 130 - 133; 154 - 163; 176 - 179; 248 - 256; 259; 263 - 265; 286 - 292. -- Online: http://www.archive.org/details/travelsinmogulem00bernuoft. -- Zugriff am 2008-05-19. -- "Not in copyright."
Erstmals hier publiziert: 2008-06-10
Anlass: Lehrveranstaltung FS 2008
©opyright: Public domain.
Dieser Text ist Teil der Abteilung Sanskrit von Tüpfli's Global Village Library
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[S. 130] A melancholy circumstance happened at this time which excited a great deal of interest in Dehli, particularly in the Seraglio, and which proved the fallacy of an opinion [S. 131] entertained by myself, as well as by others, that he who is entirely deprived of virility cannot feel the passion of love.
Didar-Kan, one of the principal eunuchs of the Seraglio, had built a house, to which he sometimes resorted for entertainment, and where he often slept. He became enamoured of a beautiful woman, the sister of a neighbour, a Gentile,1 and a scrivener by profession. An illicit intercourse continued for some time between them, without creating much suspicion. After all, it was but an eunuch, privileged to enter anywhere, and a woman !
1 In the original 'un Ecrivain Gentil,' or, in other words, a Hindoo writer or clerk. At this period the collection of the revenue, the keeping of the accounts, the conduct of the official correspondence of the Court was all in the hands of Hindoo clerks, well versed in Persian. As Professor Blochmann tells us in his Calcutta Review article already quoted (p. 40, footnote 1), 'the Hindus from the 16th century took so zealously to Persian education, that, before another century had elapsed, they had fully come up to the Muhammadans in point of literary acquirements.'
The familiarity between the two lovers became at length so remarkable, that the neighbours began to suspect something, and chaffed the scrivener on the subject. He felt so stung by these taunts that he threatened to put both his sister and the eunuch to death if the suspicions of their guilt should be verified. Proof was not long wanting: they were one night discovered in the same bed, by the brother, who stabbed Didar-Kan through the body, and left his sister for dead.
Nothing could exceed the horror and indignation of the whole Seraglio. Women and eunuchs entered into a solemn league to kill the scrivener ; but their machinations excited the displeasure of Aureng-Zebe, who contented himself by compelling the man to become a Mahometan.
It seems nevertheless to be the general opinion that he cannot long escape the power and malice of the eunuchs. Emasculation, say the Indians, produces a different effect upon men than upon the brute creation ; it renders the [S. 132] latter gentle and tractable ; but who is the eunuch, they ask, that is not vicious, arrogant and cruel ? It is in vain to deny, however, that many among them are exceedingly faithful, generous, and brave.
Much about the same time, Rauchetiara-Begum incurred the displeasure of Aureng-Zebe, the Princess having been suspected of admitting two men into the seraglio. As it was only suspicion, however, the King was soon reconciled to his sister. Nor did he exercise the same cruelty toward the two men, who were caught and dragged into his presence, as Chah-Jehan had done upon a similar occasion toward the unhappy gallant concealed in the cauldron. 1 I shall relate the whole story exactly as I heard it from the mouth of an old woman, a half-caste Portuguese2 who has been many years a slave in the seraglio, and possesses the privilege of going in and out at pleasure. From her I learnt that Rauchenara-Begum, after having for several days enjoyed the company of one of these young men, whom she kept hidden, committed him to the care of her female attendants, who promised to conduct their charge out of the Seraglio under cover of the night. But whether they were detected, or only dreaded a discovery, or whatever else was the reason, the women fled, and left the terrified youth to wander alone about the gardens : here he was found, and taken before Aureng-Zebe ; who, when he had interrogated him very closely, without being able to draw any other confession of guilt from him than that he had scaled the walls, decided that he should be compelled to leave the seraglio in the same manner. But the eunuchs, it is probable, exceeded their master's instructions, for they threw the culprit from the top of the wall to the bottom. As for the second paramour, the old Portuguese informed me that he too was seen roving about the gardens, and that having told the King he had entered [S. 133] into the Seraglio by the regular gate, he was commanded to quit the place through that same gate. Aureng-Zebe determined, however, to inflict a severe and exemplary punishment upon the eunuchs ; because it was essential, not only to the honour of his house, but even to his personal safety, that the entrance into the seraglio should be vigilantly guarded.
1 See p. 12.
2 'Une vieille Mestice de Portugais,' in the original ; from mestizo, the Portuguese word for one of mixed parentage.
[S. 154] It was at the time of the return of the Persian ambassadors that Aureng-Zebe accorded that memorable reception to his quondam teacher Mullah Sale.1 It is an uncommonly good story. This old man had resided for several years near Kaboul in retirement on an estate presented to him by Chah-Jehan, when he was made acquainted with the termination of the civil war, and the complete success which had attended the ambitious projects of his former pupil. He hastened to Dehli, sanguine in his expectation of being immediately advanced to the rank of Omrah ; and there was no person of influence, up to Rauchenara-Begum, whom he did not engage in his favour. Three months elapsed before Aureng-Zebe [Aurangzeb / اورنگزیب] would even appear to know that such a person was within the purlieus of the court; but weary at last with seeing him constantly in his presence, the [S. 155]
1 Mulla Shāh, a native of Badakshan, was the Murshid or spiritual guide of Dara Shikoh, and was highly respected by Shāh Jahān. He died in Kashmir about the year 1660. He may be the Mullah Sale of Bernier's narrative, and have taught Aurangzeb also. I possess a very fine contemporary portrait, by a Delhi artist, of Dara's teacher, who was one of the disciples of Mian Shāh Mir of Lahore, after whom part of the area now occupied as the Cantonment of Mian Mir (Meean Meer), near the capital of the Punjab, was named ; the Mian Sahib's tomb, with a mosque and land attached, being included within its boundaries.
Mogol commanded that he should come to him in a secluded apartment, where only Hakim-ul-Mouluk Danech-mend-kan, and three or four other grandees, who pride themselves upon their accomplishments, were present. He then spoke in nearly the following words. I say nearly, because it is impossible to transcribe so long a discourse precisely in the terms in which it was delivered. Had I been present myself, instead of my Agah, from whom I received a report of the speech, I could not hope to be verbally correct. There can be no doubt, however, that what Aureng-Zebe said was substantially as follows : 'Pray what is your pleasure with me, Mullah-gy [Mulla-Ji] Monsieur the Doctor ? Do you pretend that I ought to exalt you to the first honours of the State ? Let us then examine your title to any mark of distinction. I do not deny you would possess such a title if you had filled my young mind with suitable instruction. Show me a well-educated youth, and I will say that it is doubtful who has the stronger claim to his gratitude, his father or his tutor. But what was the knowledge I derived under your tuition ? You taught me that the whole of Franguistan1 was no more than some inconsiderable island, of which the most powerful Monarch was formerly the King of Portugal, then he of Holland, and afterward the King of England. In regard to the other sovereigns of Franguistan, such as the King of France2 and him of Andalusia, you told me they resembled our petty Rajas, and that the potentates of Hindoustan eclipsed the glory of all other kings ; that they alone were Humayons, Ekbars, Jehan-Guyres, or Chah-Jehans ; the Happy, the Great, the Conquerors of the World, and the Kings of the World ; and that Persia, Usbec, Kachguer, Tartary, and Catay,3 [S. 156] Pegu, Siam, China and Matchine,4 trembled at the name of the Kings of the Indies. Admirable geographer ! deeply read historian ! Was it not incumbent upon my preceptor to make me acquainted with the distinguishing features of every nation of the earth ; its resources and strength ; its mode of warfare, its manners, religion, form of government, and wherein its interests principally consist ; and, by a regular course of historical reading, to render me familiar with the origin of States, their progress and decline ; the events, accidents, or errors, owing to which such great changes and mighty revolutions, have been effected ? Far from having imparted to me a profound and comprehensive knowledge of the history of mankind, scarcely did I learn from you the names of my ancestors, the renowned founders of this empire. You kept me in total ignorance of their lives, of the events which preceded, and the extraordinary talents that enabled them to achieve, their extensive conquests. A familiarity with the languages of surrounding nations may be indispensable in a King ; but you would teach me to read and write Arabic ; doubtless conceiving that you placed me under an everlasting obligation for sacrificing so large a portion of time to the study of a language wherein no one can hope to become proficient without ten or twelve years of close application. Forgetting how many important subjects ought to be embraced in the education of a Prince, you acted as if it were chiefly necessary that he should possess great skill in grammar, and such knowledge as belongs to a Doctor of law; and thus did you waste the precious hours of my youth [S. 157] in the dry, unprofitable, and never-ending task of learning words !'5
2 França, in the original.
3 Here Catay (Cathay) is used as if the name of a distinct country other than China, whereas Khitai was the name for all China, from Khitan, the dynasty that ruled its Northern Provinces for 200 years, See p. 427, footnote 4
4 In the original 'Tchine et Matchine,' a rotund way of saying China. In olden times the more intelligent Muhammadans used the term Māchin (a contraction for Māhāchina, 'Great China,' the ancient Hindoo name for China) when talking of the Chinese Empire. Chin Machin, which occurs in many of the narratives of the old travellers, is, as Colonel Yule has pointed out (Cathay and the Way Thither), an instance of the use of a double assonant name, to express a single idea, a favourite Oriental practice ; just as in Herodotus we have Crophi and Mophi, Thyni and Bithyni, and at the present day Thurn and Taxis.
5 It is but seldom that an Emperor takes the world into his confidence, and proclaims aloud what he thinks of his schools and schoolmasters. Just this is what the Emperor Aurangzeb did in the speech reported by Bernier, and the utterances on the same subject made by the German Emperor at Berlin on the 4th December 1890, bear such a remarkable resemblance to those of the Mogul Emperor, constituting an interesting historical parallel, that it seems advisable to reproduce them here, from the report in The Times of the 5th December :
BERLIN, Dec. 4.
To-day a special conference on educational reform in the higher schools and gymnasia of Prussia was opened, under the presidency of the Emperor himself in the Ministry of Public Worship. Herr von Gossler, the Minister, began by thanking the Emperor for the warm personal interest he displayed in such matters. The time had now come, he said, to consider whether Prussian schools were to continue on the same old classical path, or whether they should not now rather endeavour to adapt themselves to the spirit and practice and needs of modern life. All that learned professions were now filled to excess, and Germany was producing too many University men, for whom there seemed to be but scanty prospects in the growing struggle for existence.
The Emperor then followed with a long and well-thought-out address. He tabled a series of queries on the subject under discussion, and proceeded to argue at elaborate length that the gymnasia or higher public schools no longer answered the requirements of the nation and the necessities of the time. They produced crammed youths, but not men, wasting on Latin and classical lore the time which should be devoted to the German language and to German history a knowledge which was of infinitely more value to a German than all the chronicles of antiquity. . . . He had himself sat on the various forms of a Gymnasium at Cassel, and knew all about their ways and methods, and the sooner these were mended the better it would be for every one. . . . Since 1870, the philologists, as beati possidentes, had been sitting enthroned in the gymnasia, devoting their attention more to increasing the book-learning of their pupils than to forming their characters and training them for the needs of practical life. This evil had gone so far that it could go no further. Much more stress was laid on cramming young men's heads with knowledge than on teaching them how to apply it.
He had frequently been described as a fanatical foe of the gymnasial system, but that was not so. He had an open eye to its crying defects, and of these perhaps the chief was its preposterous partiality for classical education. The basis of instruction in all such schools ought to be German, and their principal aim should be to turn out young Germans instead of youthful Greeks and Romans. They must courageously break with the mediaeval and monkish habit of mumbling away at much Latin and a little Greek, and take to the German language as the basis of all their scholastic studies. The same remark applied to history as to language. Preference should be given in all schools to German history, geographical and legendary. It was only when they knew all the ins and outs of their own house that they could afford to moon about in a museum. When he was at school the Great Elector was to him but a nebulous personage. As for the Seven Years' War, it lay outside the region of study altogether, and history ended with the French Revolution at the close of the last century. The Liberation wars, however, which were extremely important for the young, were not included, and it was only, thank God, by means of supplementary and very interesting lectures which he received from his private tutor, Dr. Hinzpeter, whom he was now glad to see before him, that he got to know anything at all about modern history. . . . His Majesty then proceeded to discuss what ought to be the relations between the classical and commercial education, even in the schools which had hitherto been devoted to one of these directions only, his remarks being listened to with the keenest interest, and regarded as a masterpiece of practical wisdom. Our Own Correspondent.
The German Emperor's speech has naturally given rise to a great deal of discussion, and the opinions expressed by Scholars and Educational Experts all over Europe, as to his views on 'classical education' differ very widely. As it will be my constant aim throughout Constable's Oriental Miscellany to impartially present both sides of any question on which there may be a difference of opinion among competent authorities, I now quote the opinions on the educational utility of the study of Greek, recently enunciated by a great Englishman (using this word in its widest signification), and one of the leading Educational Experts of the day.
On the I4th March 1891, Mr. Gladstone paid a visit to Eton, the school where, seventy years ago, he had been taught, and delivered a Saturday lecture to the boys now being educated there, on The character and attributes of the goddess Artemis in the Iliad and Odyssey.
At the conclusion of his lecture, Mr. Gladstone said (I quote from the report in The Times newspaper of the 16th March) :
When I was a boy I cared nothing at all about the Homeric gods. I did not enter into the subject until thirty or forty years afterwards, when, in a conversation with Dr. Pusey, who, like me, had been an Eton boy, he told me, having more sense and brains than I had, that he took the deepest interest and had the greatest curiosity about these Homeric gods. They are of the greatest interest, and you cannot really study the text of Homer without gathering fruits ; and the more you study him the more you will be astonished at the multitude of lessons and the completeness of the picture which he gives you. There is a perfect encyclopaedia of human character and human experience in the poems of Homer, more complete in every detail than is elsewhere furnished to us of Achaian life. (The right hon. gentleman resumed his seat amid hearty cheers.)
The Rev. Dr. Hornby, the Provost of Eton College, then proposed a hearty vote of thanks to Mr. Gladstone for his kindness in coming among them, and the great honour he did to the present generation of his old school in thus addressing them in a lecture so full of matter for careful after-study, and also stated that it would be difficult, at once, to single out any special points for notice. The Provost then ended by saying :
But I am sure we shall all have felt great pleasure and some comfort in knowing that a man so able, so laborious, so full of ideas as Mr. Gladstone, should still return in his leisure time to the old subjects which formed so large a portion of his school days. I hope I shall not be abusing his kindness by attributing to him an excessive educational conservatism which perhaps he would repudiate. But I cannot but think he intends to encourage us to hold fast to the old studies, as to which, though they cannot keep the exclusive place which was formerly theirs, we have Mr. Gladstone's authority for saying that there is no better foundation for the highest culture than the old Greek literature, and that in that literature there is nothing more healthy, more noble and splendid, than the early part of it, which Mr. Gladstone has done so much to illustrate and recommend to this generation. I propose a vote of thanks to Mr. Gladstone, to which, I am sure, you will accord a hearty reception. (Cheers.)
Mr. Gladstone, in thanking his audience for the manner in which he had been received, and telling them how refreshing it was for an old man to come back among young ones, standing more or less in the position he once stood himself, concluded with these words :
'I have mentioned a subject which is of such profound and vast extent, that were I to allow myself to be tempted, it would lead me to make another infliction upon you, but I answer the Provost by saying he has understood me rightly. I have not the smallest desire that all boys should be put upon the bed of Procrustes, and either contracted or expanded to the possession of Greek and Latin, especially of Greek, culture. I may say it would probably be a case of expansion rather than contraction. But the object is to find right and sufficient openings for all characters and all capacities. But this, Mr. Provost, I say with confidence, that my conviction and experience of life leads me to the belief that if the purpose of education be to fit the human mind for the efficient performance of the greatest functions, the ancient culture, and, above all, Greek culture, is by far the best, the highest, the most lasting, and the most elastic instrument that can possibly be applied to it.' (Loud cheers.)
Such was the language in which Aureng-Zebe expressed his resentment ; but some of the learned men, either wishing to flatter the Monarch and add energy to his speech, or actuated by jealousy of the Mullah, affirm that the King's reproof did not end here, but that, when he had spoken [S. 158] for a short time on indifferent subjects, he resumed his discourse in this strain : 'Were you not aware that it is during the period of infancy, when the memory is commonly so retentive, that the mind may receive a thousand wise precepts, and be easily furnished with such valuable instruction as will elevate it with lofty conceptions, and render the individual capable of glorious deeds ? Can we [S. 159] repeat our prayers, or acquire a knowledge of law and of the sciences, only through the medium of Arabic ? May not our devotions be offered up as acceptably,, and solid information communicated as easily, in our mother tongue ? You gave my father, Chah-Jehan, to understand that you instructed me in philosophy ; and, indeed, I have a perfect remembrance of your having, during several years, harassed [S. 160] my brain with idle and foolish propositions, the solution of which yield no satisfaction to the mind propositions that seldom enter into the business of life ; wild and extravagant reveries conceived with great labour, and forgotten as soon as conceived ; whose only effect is to fatigue and ruin the intellect, and to render a man headstrong and insufferable [their Philosophy abounds with even more absurd and obscure notions than our own. Bernier]. O yes, you caused me to devote the most valuable years of my life to your favourite hypotheses, or systems, and when I left you, I could boast of no greater attainment in the sciences than the use of many obscure and uncouth terms, calculated to discourage, confound, and appal a youth of the most masculine understanding [their Philosophers employ even more gibberish than ours do. Bernier] : terms invented to cover the vanity and ignorance of pretenders to philosophy ; of men who, like yourself, would impose the belief that they transcend others of their species in wisdom, and that their dark and ambiguous jargon conceals many profound mysteries known only to themselves. If you had taught me that philosophy which adapts the mind to reason, and will not suffer it to rest satisfied with anything short of the most solid arguments ; if you had inculcated lessons which elevate the soul and fortify it against the assaults of fortune, tending to produce that enviable equanimity which is neither insolently elated by prosperity, nor basely depressed by adversity ; if you had made me acquainted with the nature of man ; accustomed me always to refer to first principles, and given me a sublime and adequate conception of the universe, and of the order and regular motion of its parts; if such, I say, had been the nature of the philosophy imbibed under your tuition, I should be more indebted to you than Alexander was to Aristotle, and should consider it my duty to bestow a very different reward on you than Aristotle received from that Prince. Answer me, sycophant, ought you not to have instructed [S. 161] me on one point at least, so essential to be known by a King ; namely, on the reciprocal duties between the sovereign and his subjects ? Ought you not also to have foreseen that I might, at some future period, be compelled to contend with my brothers, sword in hand, for the crown, and for my very existence? Such, as you must well know, has been the fate of the children of almost every King of Hindoustan. Did you ever instruct me in the art of war, how to besiege a town, or draw up an army in battle array? Happy for me that I consulted wiser heads than thine on these subjects ! Go ! withdraw to thy village. Henceforth let no person know either who thou art, or what is become of thee.'
At that time a slight disturbance arose against the astrologers, which I did not find unpleasing. The majority of Asiatics are so infatuated in favour of being guided by the signs of the heavens,1 that, according to their phraseology, no circumstance can happen below, which is not written above. In every enterprise they consult their astrologers. When two armies have completed every preparation for battle, no consideration can induce the generals to commence the engagement until the Sahet 2 be performed ; that is, until the propitious moment for attack be ascertained. In like manner no commanding officer is nominated, no marriage takes place, and no journey is undertaken, without consulting Monsieur the Astrologer. Their advice is considered absolutely necessary even on the most trifling occasions; as the proposed purchase of a slave, or the first wearing of new clothes. This silly superstition is so general an annoyance, and attended with such important and disagreeable consequences, that I am astonished it has continued so long : the astrologer is necessarily made acquainted with [S. 162] every transaction public and private, with every project common and extraordinary.
1 In the original Astrologie Judiciaire.
2 The Arabic word sā'at, meaning 'moment' or 'hour.' See p. 244.
Now it happened that the Kings principal astrologer fell into the water and was drowned. This melancholy accident caused a great sensation at court, and proved injurious to the reputation of these professors in divination. The man who had thus lost his life always performed the Sahet for the King and the Omrahs ; and the people naturally wondered that an astrologer of such extensive experience, and who had for many years predicted happy incidents for others, should have been incapable of foreseeing the sad catastrophe by which he was himself overwhelmed. It was insinuated that in Franguistan, where the sciences flourish, professors in astrology are considered little better than cheats and jugglers, that it is there much doubted whether the science be founded on good and solid principles, and whether it be not used by designing men as a means of gaining access to the great, of making them feel their dependence, and their absolute need of these pretended soothsayers.
The astrologers were much displeased with these and similar observations, and particularly with the following anecdote, which was universally known and repeated : Chah-Abas [Shāh Abbas / شاه عباس], the great King of Persia, having given orders that a small piece of ground within the seraglio should be prepared for a garden, the master-gardener intended to plant there several fruit-trees on a given day; but the astrologer, assuming an air of vast consequence, declared that unless the time of planting were regulated by the Sahet, it was impossible that the trees should thrive. Chah-Abas having acquiesced in the propriety of the remark, the astrologer took his instruments ; turned over the pages of his books, made his calculations and concluded that, by reason of this or that conjunction of the planets, it was necessary to plant the trees before the expiration of another hour. The gardener, who thought of nothing less than an appeal to the stars, was absent [S. 163] when this wise determination was formed ; but persons were soon procured to accomplish the work : holes were dug, and all the trees put into the ground, the King placing them himself, that it might be said they were all planted by the hand of Chah-Abas. The gardener, returning at his usual hour in the afternoon, was greatly surprised to see his labour anticipated ; but observing that the trees were not ranged according to the order he had originally designed that an apricot, for example, was placed in the soil intended for an apple-tree, and a pear-tree in that prepared for an almond he pulled up the premature plantation, and laid down the trees for that night on the ground, covering the roots with earth. In an instant the astrologer was apprised of the gardener's proceedings, and he was equally expeditious in complaining to Chah-Abas, who, on his part, sent immediately for the culprit. 'How is it,' cried the Monarch indignantly, 'that you have presumed to tear up trees planted by my own hands ; trees put into the ground after the solemn performance of the Sahet ? We cannot now hope to repair the mischief. The stars had marked the hour for planting, and no fruit can henceforth grow in the garden.' The honest rustic had taken liberal potations of Schiras wine, and looking askance at the astrologer, observed after an oath or two, 'Billah, Billah, an admirable Sahet certainly ! thou augur of evil ! Trees planted under thy direction at noon, are in the evening torn up by the roots!' Chah-Abas, hearing this unexpected piece of satirical drollery, laughed heartily, turned his back upon the astrologer, and walked away in silence.
[S. 176] Chah-Jehan [Shāh Jahān / شاه جهان], a more rigid Mahometan than his father, visited the Portuguese at Ogouli [Hūglī/হুগলী] with a terrible punishment. They provoked his displeasure by the encouragement afforded to the depredators of Rakan, and by their refusal to release the numerous slaves in their service, who had all of them been subjects of the Mogol. He first [S. 177] exacted, by threats or persuasion, large sums of money from them, and when they refused to comply with his ultimate demands, he besieged and took possession of the town, and commanded that the whole population should be transferred as slaves to Agra.1 The misery of these people is unparalleled in the history of modern times : it nearly resembled the grievous captivity of Babylon ; for even the children, priests, and monks shared the universal doom. The handsome women, as well married as single, became inmates of the seraglio ; those of a more advanced age, or of inferior beauty, were distributed among the Omrahs ; little children underwent the rite of circumcision, and were made pages ; and the men of adult age, allured, for the most part, by fair promises, or terrified by the daily threat of throwing them under the feet of elephants, renounced the Christian faith. Some of the monks, however, remained faithful to their creed, and were conveyed to Goa, and other Portuguese settlements, by the kind exertions of the Jesuits and missionaries at Agra, who, notwithstanding all this calamity, continued in their dwelling, and were enabled to accomplish their benevolent purpose by the powerful aid of money, and the warm intercession of their friends.
Abb.: Lage von Hūglī/হুগলী
[Bildquelle: Bartholomew, J. G. (John George) <1860-1920>: A literary and historical atlas of Asia. -- London :  -- xi, 226 S. ; Ill. : 18 cm. -- S. 61. -- Online: http://www.archive.org/details/literaryhistoric00bartrich. -- Zugriff am 2008-06-10. -- "Not in cpopyright".]
1 This was in 1629-30, and other reasons than- those given by Bernier led to the action taken by Shāh Jahān ; such as the refusal of all aid to him, when in 1621, as Prince Khurram, he had revolted against his father, the Emperor Jahāngīr, and applied to the Portuguese at Hūglī for assistance in the shape of soldiers and munitions of war.
Before the catastrophe at Ogouli, the missionaries had not escaped the resentment of Chah-Jehan : he ordered the large and handsome church at Agra, which, together with one at Lahor, had been erected during the reign of Jehan-Guyre [Jahāngīr / جهانگیر ], to be demolished. A high steeple stood upon this church, with a bell whose sound was heard in every part of the city.
Some time before the capture of Ogouli, the pirates [S. 178] made a formal offer to the Viceroy of Goa, to deliver the whole kingdom of Rakan into his hands. Bastian Consalve1 was then chief of the pirates, and so celebrated and powerful was he, that he married the King of Rakan's daughter. It is said that the Viceroy was too arrogant and envious to listen to this proposal, and felt unwilling that the King of Portugal should be indebted to a man of low origin for so important an acquisition. There was nothing, however, in the proposal to excite surprise ; it was quite in keeping with the general conduct of the Portuguese in Japan, Pegu, Ethiopia, and other places. The decay of their power in the Indies is fairly ascribable to their misdeeds, and may be considered, as they candidly allow, a proof of the divine displeasure. Formerly their name was a tower of strength; all the Indian princes courted their friendship, and the Portuguese were distinguished for courage, generosity, zeal for religion, immensity of wealth, and the splendour of their exploits : but they were not then, like the Portuguese of the present day, addicted to every vice, and to every low and grovelling enjoyment.
1 Sebastian Gonzales Tibao, who had been a common sailor. According to Stewart (History of Bengal, Lond. 1813, p. 210), he married the Mugh's sister who had become a Christian, and this historian states that it was Anaporam, a brother of the King of Aracan, who, having been guilty of some misdemeanour when Governor of a province of that country, fled for refuge to Sundeep where he met Gonzales, whom he enlisted in his cause. They invaded Aracan and were able to save the family of Anaporam and bring away a good deal of treasure. Anaporam then gave Gonzales a large sum of money and his sister in marriage, but shortly after that died, poisoned it is believed, and all his wealth fell into the hands of the pirate.
The pirates, about the time of which I am speaking, made themselves masters of the island of Sondiva1 an [S. 179] advantageous post, commanding part of the mouth of the Ganges. On this spot, the notorious Fra-Joan, an Augustine monk, reigned, as a petty Sovereign, during many years ; having contrived, God knows how, to rid himself of the Governor of the island.
Abb.: Sandwīp / সন্দ্বীপ, Bangladesh
[Bildquelle: ©Google Earth. -- Zugriff am 2008-06-10]
1 Sundeep (Sandwīp / সন্দ্বীপ), off the coast of Chittagong, at the mouth of the Meghna, and described by the Venetian traveller Cesare de Federici (circa 1565), as being one of the most fertile places in the country, and that such was the abundance of materials for shipbuilding in the neighbourhood that the Sultan of Constantinople found it cheaper to have his vessels built there than elsewhere.
[S. 248] That which so much contributes to the beauty of European towns, the brilliant appearance of the shops, is wanting in Dehli. For though this city be the seat of a powerful and magnificent court, where an infinite quantity of the richest commodities is necessarily collected, yet there are no streets like ours of S. Denis, which has not perhaps its equal in any part of Asia. Here the costly merchandise is generally kept in warehouses, and the shops are seldom decked with rich or showy articles. For one that makes a display of beautiful and fine cloths, silk, and other stuffs striped with gold and silver, turbans embroidered with gold, and brocades, there are at least five-and-twenty where nothing is seen but pots of oil or [S. 249] butter, piles of baskets filled with rice, barley, chick-peas, wheat, and an endless variety of other grain and pulse, the ordinary aliment not only of the Gentiles, who never eat meat, but of the lower class of Mahometans, and a considerable portion of the military.
There is, indeed, a fruit-market that makes some show. It contains many shops which during the summer are well supplied with dry fruit from Persia, Balk, Bokara, and Samarkande ; such as almonds, pistachios, and walnuts, raisins, prunes, and apricots ; and in winter with excellent fresh grapes, black and white, brought from the same countries, wrapped in cotton ;1 pears and apples of three or four sorts, and those admirable melons which last the whole winter. These fruits are, however, very dear; single melon selling for a crown and a half. But nothing is considered so great a treat : it forms the chief expense of the Omrahs, and I have frequently known my Agah spend twenty crowns on fruit for his breakfast.
1 A common practice to the present day, the round wooden boxes filled with grapes imbedded in cotton wool arriving in India about November, brought by Afghan traders.
In summer the melons of the country are cheap, but they are of an inferior kind : there are no means of procuring good ones but by sending to Persia for seed, and sowing it in ground prepared with extraordinary care, in the manner practised by the grandees. Good melons, however, are scarce, the soil being so little congenial that the seed degenerates after the first year.
Ambas1 or Mangues, are in season during two months in summer, and are plentiful and cheap ; but those grown at Dehli are indifferent. The best come from Bengale, Golkonda, and Goa, and these are indeed excellent. I do not know any sweetmeat more agreeable. [S. 250]
1 Ām or ambā (from the Sanskrit amra), is the Northern Indian name for this well-known fruit. From the Tamil name, mānkāy, was derived the Portuguese manga, Anglicized as mangoe. The places named by Bernier are still renowned for the excellent quality of their mangoes.
Pateques,1 or water-melons, are in great abundance nearly the whole year round ; but those of Dehli are soft, without colour or sweetness. If this fruit be ever found good, it is among the wealthy people, who import the seed and cultivate it with much care and expense.
1 Pateca is the word used by the Portuguese in India for a water melon (derived from the Arabic al-battikh), whence the French pasteque.
There are many confectioners' shops in the town, but the sweatmeats are badly made, and full of dust and flies.
Bakers also are numerous, but the ovens are unlike our own, and very defective. The bread, therefore, is neither well made nor properly baked. That sold in the Fort is tolerably good, and the Omrahs bake at home, so that their bread is much superior. In its composition they are not sparing of fresh butter, milk, and eggs ; but though it be raised, it has a burnt taste, and is too much like cake, and never to be compared to the Pain de Gonesse,1 and other delicious kinds, to be met with in Paris.
1 So called from the small town of Gonesse, about 9½ miles to the north-east of Paris, in the midst of a fine agricultural country, now and anciently celebrated for its corn, flour, and bread. It was the head -quarters of the British army on the 2d July 1815.
In the bazars there are shops where meat is sold roasted and dressed in a variety of ways. But there is no trusting to their dishes, composed, for aught I know, of the flesh of camels, horses, or perhaps oxen which have died of disease. Indeed no food can be considered wholesome which is not dressed at home.
Meat is sold in every part of the city ; but instead of goats' flesh that of mutton is often palmed upon the buyer ; an imposition which ought to be guarded against, because mutton and beef, but particularly the former, though not unpleasant to the taste, are heating, flatulent, and difficult of digestion.1 Kid is the best food, but being [S. 251] rarely sold in quarters, it must be purchased alive, which is very inconvenient, as the meat will not keep from morning to night, and is generally lean and without flavour. The goats' flesh found in quarters at the butchers' shops is frequently that of the she-goat, which is lean and tough.
1 At the present time in Northern India the complaint of the Anglo-Indian housewife is that goats' flesh is palmed off upon the buyer as mutton.
But it would be unreasonable in me to complain ; because since I have been familiarised with the manners of the people, it seldom happens that I find fault either with my meat or my bread. I send my servant to the King's purveyors in the Fort, who are glad to sell wholesome food, which costs them very little, at the high price I am willing to pay. My Agah smiled when I remarked that I had been for years in the habit of living by stealth and artifice, and that the one hundred and fifty crowns which he gave me monthly would not otherwise keep me from starving, although in France I could for half a roupie eat every day as good meat as the King.
As to capons, there are none to be had ; the people being tender-hearted toward animals of every description, men only excepted ; these being wanted for their Seraglios. The markets, however, are amply supplied with fowls, tolerably good and cheap. Among others, there is a small hen, delicate and tender, which I call Ethiopian, the skin being quite black.1
1 This is a curious instance of the acute observation of Bernier. It is, as he tells us, the skin of certain fowls that is black, not the flesh as asserted by other travellers. Linschoten relates of the fowls of Mozambique, which he visited in August 1583, remaining there for two weeks, that 'There are certain hennes that are so blacke both of feathers, flesh, and bones, that being sodden they seeme as black as inke ; yet of very sweet taste, and are accounted better than the other ; whereof some are likewise found in India, but not so many as in Mossambique.' Voyage to East Indies, pp. 25, 26, vol. i. Hakluyt Soc. Ed., 1885.
Pigeons are exposed for sale, but not young ones, the Indians considering them too small, and saying that it would be cruel to deprive them of life at so tender an age. [S. 252]
There are partridges, which are smaller than ours, but being caught with nets, and brought alive from a distance, are not so good as fowls. The same thing may be remarked of ducks and hares, which are brought alive in crowded cages.
The people of this neighbourhood are indifferent fishermen ; yet good fish may sometimes be bought, particularly two sorts, called sing-ala and rau. 1 The former resembles our pike ; the latter our carp. When the weather is cold, the people will not fish at all if they can avoid it ; for they have a much greater dread of cold than Europeans have of heat. Should any fish then happen to be seen in the market, it is immediately bought up by the eunuchs who are particularly fond of it ; why, I cannot tell. The Omrahs alone contrive to force the fishermen out at all times by means of the korrah, the long whip always suspended at their door.
1 Sing-ala is the sīngī (Silurus pungentissimus, Buch.), and rau the well-known rohū (Cyprinus denticulatus Buch.), still considered the best ordinary river fish in Northern India.
You may judge from what I have said, whether a lover of good cheer ought to quit Paris for the sake of visiting Dehli. Unquestionably the great are in the enjoyment of everything ; but it is by dint of the numbers in their service, by dint of the korrah, and by dint of money. In Dehli there is no middle state. A man must either be of the highest rank or live miserably. My pay is considerable, nor am I sparing of money ; yet does it often happen that I have not wherewithal to satisfy the cravings of hunger, the bazars being so ill supplied, and frequently containing nothing but the refuse of the grandees. Wine, that essential part of every entertainment, can be obtained in none of the shops at Dehli, although it might be made from the native grape, were not the use of that liquor prohibited equally by the Gentile and Mahometan law. I drank some at Amedabad and Golkonda, in Dutch and English houses, which was not ill-tasted. If wine be [S. 253] sometimes found in the Mogol empire, it is either Chiraz or Canary. The former is sent by land from Persia to Bander Abasy, where it is embarked for Sourate, from which port it reaches Dehli in forty-six days. The Canary wine is brought by the Dutch to Sourate; but both these wines are so dear that, as we say at home, the taste is destroyed by the cost. A bottle containing about three Paris pints1 cannot be purchased under six or seven crowns. The liquor peculiar to this country is Arac, a spirit drawn by distillation from unrefined sugar ; the sale of which is also strictly forbidden, and none but Christians dare openly to drink it. Arac is a spirit as harsh and burning as that made from corn in Poland, and the use of it to the least excess occasions nervous and incurable disorders.2 A wise man will here accustom himself to the pure and fine water, or to the excellent lemonade,3 which costs little and may be drunk without injury. To say the truth, few persons in these hot climates feel a strong desire for wine, and I have no doubt that the happy ignorance which prevails of many distempers is fairly ascribable to the general habits of sobriety among the people, and to the profuse perspiration to which they are perpetually subject.4 The gout, the [S. 254] stone, complaints in the kidneys, catarrhs and quartan agues are nearly unknown ; and persons who arrive in the country afflicted with any of these disorders, as was the case with me, soon experience a complete cure. Even the venereal disease,, common as it is in Hindoustan, is not of so virulent a character, or attended with such injurious consequences, as in other parts of the world. But although there is a greater enjoyment of health, yet there is less vigour among the people than in our colder climates ; and the feebleness and languor both of body and mind, consequent upon excessive heat, may be considered a species of unremitting malady, which attacks all persons indiscriminately, and among the rest Europeans not yet inured to the heat.
1 About three imperial quarts, English.
2 See p. 441.
3 Made ordinarily of squeezed limes and water, the nimbū (lime) pāni (water) of the present day. For those who could afford it, there were various sherbets ; rose water and sugar being added to the juice of limes, pomegranates, and the like.
4 Fryer, writing of the mortality among the English at Bombay and the parts adjacent, says : 'Notwithstanding this Mortality to the English, the Country People and naturalised Portugals live to a good Old Age, supposed to be the Reward of their Temperance ; indulging themselves neither in Strong Drinks, nor devouring Flesh as we do. But I believe rather we are here, as Exotick Plants brought home to us, not agreeable to the Soil : For to the Lustier and Fresher, and oftentimes the Temperatest, the Clime more unkind ; but to Old Men and Women it seems to be move suitable.' A new account of East India and Persia (ed. Crooke, Hakluyt Society, 1909 ; vol. i. p. 180).
Workshops, occupied by skilful artisans, would be vainly sought for in Dehli, which has very little to boast of in that respect. This is not owing to any inability in the people to cultivate the arts, for there are ingenious men in every part of the Indies. Numerous are the instances of handsome pieces of workmanship made by persons destitute of tools, and who can scarcely be said to have received instruction from a master. Sometimes they imitate so perfectly articles of European manufacture that the difference between the original and copy can hardly be discerned. Among other things, the Indians make excellent muskets, and fowling-pieces, and such beautiful gold ornaments that it may be doubted if the exquisite workmanship of those articles can be exceeded by any European goldsmith. I have often admired the beauty, softness, and delicacy of their paintings and miniatures, and was particularly struck with the exploits of Ekbar, painted on a shield1 by a celebrated artist, who is said to have been seven years in completing the picture. I thought it a wonderful performance. The Indian painters are chiefly deficient in just proportions, and in the expression of the face ; but these defects would soon be corrected if they possessed good masters, and were instructed in the rules of art.2
1 In the Times newspaper of the 20th March 1891, will be found an interesting account of a shield, called the Ramayana shield, then just completed, the work of the premier Jeypore state workman, Ganga Baksh, Khati, who executed the work under the direction of Surgeon-Major T. H. Hendley, C.I.E., the Residency Surgeon, and Honorary [S. 255] Secretary, Jeypore Museum. On this shield the story of the Ramayana is told in a series of plaques, 'nearly all of which are faithful reproductions in relief, in silver-plated brass, of paintings by the most celebrated artists who flourished in Akbar's time.' It is further stated that Dr. Hendley has arranged for the production of two more large shields. One of these will be a companion to the Ramayana shield, the story of the Mahabharata being taken as the second great epic poem of the Hindoos. Here, again, the paintings of Akbar's time will be copied. The other shield will be known as the Ashwameda (horse sacrifice) shield, and will contain seven plaques, illustrating the sacrifice which Yudhishthira performed, an incident in Mahabharata, the drawings being taken from Akbar's own copy of the Razmnamah, or Persian version of the great Hindoo epic. Jeypore will thus eventually possess three specimens of metal-work in relief unrivalled throughout India. In this connection, see p. 258, footnote 3.
2 'I have to notice that the observing of the figures of objects and the making of likeness of them, which are often looked upon as an idle occupation, are, for a well-regulated mind, a source of wisdom, and an antidote against the poison of ignorance. Bigoted followers of the letter of the law are hostile to the art of painting ; but their eyes now see the truth. One day at a private party of friends, His Majesty [the Emperor Akbar], who had conferred on several the pleasure of drawing near him, remarked, "There are many that hate painting ; but such men I dislike. It appears to me as if a painter had quite peculiar means of recognising God ; for a painter in sketching anything that has life, and in devising its limbs, one after the other, must come to feel that he cannot bestow individuality upon his work, and is thus forced to think of God, the giver of life, and will thus increase in knowledge." Āīn, vol. i. p. 108.
Want of genius, therefore, is not the reason why works of superior art are not exhibited in the capital. If the artists and manufacturers were encouraged, the useful and fine arts would flourish ; but these unhappy men are contemned, treated with harshness, and inadequately remunerated for their labour. The rich will have every [S. 256] article at a cheap rate. When an Omrah or Mansebdar requires the services of an artisan, he sends to the bazar for him, employing force, if necessary, to make the poor man work ; and after the task is finished, the unfeeling lord pays, not according to the value of the labour, but agreeably to his own standard of fair remuneration ; the artisan having reason to congratulate himself if the korrah has not been given in part payment. How then can it be expected that any spirit of emulation should animate the artist or manufacturer? Instead of contending for a superiority of reputation, his only anxiety is to finish his work, and to earn the pittance that shall supply him with a piece of bread. The artists, therefore, who arrive at any eminence in their art are those only who are in the service of the King or of some powerful Omrah, and who work exclusively for their patron.
[S. 259] The artisans repair every morning to their respective Kar-kanays, where they remain employed the whole day ; and in the evening return to their homes. In this quiet and regular manner their time glides away ; no one aspiring after any improvement in the condition of life wherein he happens to be born. The embroiderer brings up his son as an embroiderer, the son of a goldsmith becomes a goldsmith, and a physician of the city educates his son for a physician. No one marries but in his own trade or profession ; and this custom is observed almost as rigidly by Mahometans as by the Gentiles, to whom it is expressly enjoined by their law. Many are the beautiful girls thus doomed to live singly, girls who might marry advantageously if their parents would connect them with a family less noble than their own.
[S. 263] What I have stated in the proceedings of the assembly of the Am-Kas appears sufficiently rational and even noble ; but I must not conceal from you the base and disgusting adulation which is invariably witnessed there. Whenever a word escapes the lips of the King, if at all to the purpose, how trifling soever may be its import, it is immediately caught by the surrounding throng ; and the chief Omrahs, extending their arms towards heaven, as if to receive some [S. 264] benediction, exclaim Karamat ! Karamat ! wonderful ! wonderful ! he has spoken wonders ! Indeed there is no Mogol who does not know and does not glory in repeating this proverb in Persian verse :
Aguer chah ronzra Goyed cheb est in
Bubayed Gouft inck mah ou peruin.1
[If the monarch says that day is night,
Reply : 'The moon and stars shine bright.']
(Lit. 'I see the moon and Pleiades.' Inck is corrupt)
1 Agar Shāh rozrā goyad shab ast īn,
Bibāyad guft, bīnam māh ū Parvīn.
The vice of flattery pervades all ranks. When a Mogol, for instance, has occasion for my services, he comes to tell me by way of preamble, and as matter of course, that I am the Aristotalis, the Bocrate, and the Aboiiysma-Ulzaman1, the Aristotle, the Hippocrates, and the Avicenna of the age. At first I endeavoured to prevent this fulsome mode of address by assuring my visitors that I was very far from possessing the merit they seemed to imagine, and that no comparison ought to be made between such great men and me ; but finding that my modesty only increased their praise, I determined to accustom my ears to their flattery as I had done to their music. I shall here relate an anecdote which I consider quite characteristic. A Brahmen Pendet or Gentile doctor, whom I introduced into my Agah's service, would fain pronounce this panegyric ; and after comparing him to the greatest Conquerors the world has ever known, and making for the purpose of flattery a hundred nauseous and impertinent observations, he concluded his harangue in these words, uttered with all conceivable seriousness : 'When, my Lord, you place your foot in the stirrup, marching at the head of your cavalry, the earth trembles under your footsteps ; the eight elephants, on whose heads it is borne, finding it impossible to support the extraordinary pressure.' The conclusion of this speech produced the effect that might be expected. [S. 265] I could not avoid laughing, but I endeavoured, with a grave countenance, to tell my Agah, whose risibility was just as much excited, that it behoved him to be cautious how he mounted on horseback and created earthquakes, which often caused so much mischief. 'Yes, my friend,' he answered without hesitation, 'and that is the reason why I generally choose to be carried in a Paleky.2
1 Bū-Avisinna uz-zamān.
2 Sir William Jones quotes approvingly this passage from BERNIER in his dissertation on Eastern poetry, in that portion of chapter I., Asiaticos fere omnes Poeticae impensius esse deditos, devoted to a consideration of Indian verse, p. 352, vol. ii. of the quarto edition of his works in six vols. London, 1799.
[S. 286] The Jesuits have a church in Agra, and a building which they call a college, where they privately instruct in the doctrines of our religion the children of five-and-twenty or thirty Christian families, collected, I know not how, in Agra, and induced to settle there by the kind and charitable aid which they receive from the Jesuits. This religious order was invited hither by Ekbar [Akbar] at the period when the power of the Portuguese in the Indies was at the highest ; and that Prince not only gave them an annual income for [S. 287] their maintenance, but permitted them to build churches in the capital cities of Agra and Lahor. The Jesuits found a still warmer patron in Jehan-Guyre [Jahāngīr] , the son and successor of Ekbar ; but they were sorely oppressed by Chah-Jehan [Shāh Jahān] the son of Jehan-Guyre, and father of the present King Aureng-Zebe [Aurangzeb]. That Monarch deprived them of their pension, and destroyed the church at Lahor and the greater part of that of Agra, totally demolishing the steeple, which contained a clock heard in every part of the city.1
1 See p. 177. Catrou states that it was Taj Mehāl, the wife of Shāh Jahān, who was a principal instrument in exasperating the mind of the Emperor against the Christians in general, and particularly the Portuguese, who had given an asylum to two of her daughters converted to Christianity by the missionaries.
The good Fathers during the reign of Jehan-Guyre were sanguine in their expectation of the progress of Christianity in Hindoustan. It is certain that this Prince evinced the utmost contempt for the laws of the Koran, and expressed his admiration of the doctrines of our creed.1 He permitted two of his nephews to embrace the Christian faith, and extended the same indulgence to Mirza-Zulkarmin, who had undergone the rite of circumcision and been brought up in the Seraglio. The pretext was that Mirza was born of Christian parents, his mother having been wife of a rich Armenian, and having been brought to the Seraglio by Jehan-Guyre 's desire.
1 'His Majesty [i.e. Akbar] firmly believed in the truth of the Christian religion, and wishing to spread the doctrine of Jesus, ordered Prince Murad [i.e. the second son of Akbar and brother of Jahāngīr (Salim)] to take a few lessons in Christianity by way of auspiciousness.' Āīn, vol. i. p. 182.
The Jesuits say that this King was so determined to countenance the Christian religion that he formed the bold project of clothing the whole court in European costume. The dresses were all prepared, when the King, having privately arrayed himself in his new attire, sent for one of his principal Omrahs whose opinion he required concerning the meditated change. The answer, however, was so [S. 288] appalling that Jehan-Guyre abandoned his design and affected to pass the whole affair as a joke.1
1 Catrou gives a different version of this story. According to his account Jahāngīr, becoming impatient at the reproaches of the Moslem elders, who had admonished him that the use of certain meats was forbidden in the Koran, inquired of them 'in what religion the use of drink and food of every species without distinction was permitted.' The reply was in that of the Christian religion alone. 'We must then,' he rejoined, 'all turn Christians. Let there be tailors brought to us, to converts our robes into close coats, and our turbans into hats.' At these words the doctors trembled for their sect. Fear and interest made them hold a less severe language. They all declared that the sovereign was not bound by the precepts of the Koran ; and that the Monarch might, without scruple, use whatever meats and drink were most agreeable to him.'
They also maintain that when on his death-bed he expressed a wish to die a Christian, and sent for those holy men, but that the message was never delivered. Many, however, deny this to have been the case, and affirm that Jehan-Guyre died, as he had lived, destitute of all religion, and that he nourished to the last a scheme which he had formed, after the example of his father Ekbar, of declaring himself a prophet, and the founder of a new religion.
I am informed by a Mahometan, whose father belonged to Jehan-Guyre s household, that in one of that King's drunken frolics he sent for some of the most learned Mullahs, and for a Florentine priest, whom he named Father Atech,1 in allusion to his fiery temper; and that the latter [S. 289] having, by his command, delivered an harangue in which he exposed the falsehoods of the Mahometan imposture, and defended the truths of his own persuasion, Jehan-Guyre said that it was high time something should be done to decide the controversy between the Jesuits and Mullahs. 'Let a pit be dug,' he added, 'and a fire kindled. Father Atech, with the Gospel under his arm, and a Mullah, with the Koran, shall throw themselves into it, and I will embrace the religion of him whom the flames shall not consume.' Father Atech declared his willingness to undergo the ordeal, but the Mullahs manifested the utmost dread, and the King felt too much compassion both for the one and the other to persevere in the experiment.
1 Atash being the Persian for fire. Catrou gives a different version of this story. According to him it was Father Joseph D'Acosta, Superior of the Jesuits in Agra, that proposed to Jahāngīr to carry out the ordeal. '" Let a large fire be lighted," said the Father, "and the chief of the Mahometan religion on one side enter it bearing the Alcoran, whilst on the other side I will cast myself into it, holding in my hand the Gospel. It will then be seen in whose favour Heaven will declare, whether for Jesus Christ or Mahomet." At these words the Emperor cast his eyes upon the Mahometan, who exhibited great symptoms of terror lest the challenge should be accepted. He took pity on the Moula, and refrained exacting him to serve a trial. As for the Jesuit, they caused him to change his name, and the Emperor no longer called him by any other than that of Father Ataxe, which means the Fire Father.'
Whatever credit this story may deserve, it is indisputable that the Jesuits during the whole of Jehan-Guyre's reign were honoured and respected at this court, and that they entertained what appeared a well-grounded hope of the progress of the Gospel in Hindoustan. Everything, however, which has occurred since the death of that Monarch, excepting perhaps the close intimacy between Dara and Father Buzé,1 forbids us to indulge in any such expectation. But having entered insensibly upon the subject of missions, you will perhaps allow me to make a few observations, introductory to the long letter which I intend to write concerning that important topic.
1 See p. 6, also p. 101, footnote 1.
The design, indeed, meets with my entire approbation ; nor ought we to withhold the meed of praise from those excellent missionaries in this part of the world, especially the Capuchins and Jesuits, who meekly impart religious instruction to all descriptions of men, without any mixture of indiscreet and bigoted zeal. To Christians of every denomination, whether Catholics, Greeks, Armenians, Nestorians, Jacobins, or others, the demeanour of these good pastors is affectionate and charitable. They are the refuge and consolation of distressed strangers and travellers, and by their great learning and exemplary lives expose to [S. 290] shame the ignorance and licentious habits of infidels. Some unhappily there are who disgrace the Christian profession by notoriously profligate conduct, and who ought, therefore, to be immured in their convents instead of being invested with the sacred character of missionaries. Their religion is a mere mummery, and so far from aiding the cause of Christianity, they become stumbling-blocks in the way of those whom they were sent to enlighten and reclaim ; but these are merely the exceptions to a general rule which affect not the main argument. I am decidedly favourable to this establishment of missions, and the sending forth of learned and pious missionaries. They are absolutely necessary ; and it is the honour as well as the peculiar prerogative of Christians to supply every part of the world with men bearing the same character and following the same benign object as did the Apostles. You are not, however, to conclude that I am so deluded by my love of missions as to expect the same mighty effects to be produced by the exertions of modern missionaries as attended the preaching of a single sermon in the days of the Apostles. I have had too much intercourse with infidels, and am become too well acquainted with the blindness of the human heart to believe we shall hear of the conversion, in one day, of two or three thousand men. I despair especially of much success among Mahometan Kings or Mahometan subjects. Having visited nearly all the missionary stations in the East, I speak the language of experience when I say, that whatever progress may be made among Gentiles by the instruction and alms of the missionaries, you will be disappointed if you suppose that in ten years one Mahometan will be converted to Christianity. True it is that Mahometans respect the religion of the New Testament : they never speak of Jesus Christ but with great veneration, or pronounce the word Aysa, which means Jesus, without adding Azeret,1 or majesty. They even believe with us that he was miraculously begotten and [S. 291]
1 Hazrat 'Isā.
2 Kalāmullāh and Rūhullāh.
born of a virgin mother, and that he is the Kelum-Allah2 and the Rouh-Allah, the Word of God and the Spirit of God. It is in vain to hope, however, that they will renounce the religion wherein they were born, or be persuaded that Mahomet was a false prophet. The Christians of Europe ought nevertheless to assist the missionaries by every possible means : their prayers, power and wealth, ought to be employed in promoting the glory of their REDEEMER ; but the expense of the missions should be borne by Europeans, for it would be impolitic to lay burthens on the people abroad ; and much care should be had that want may not drive any missionary to acts of meanness. Missions ought not only to be liberally provided, but should be composed of persons of sufficient integrity, energy, and intelligence always to bear testimony to the truth, to seek with eagerness opportunities of doing good, in a word, to labour with unwearied activity and unabated zeal in their Lord's vineyard whenever and wherever He may be pleased to give them an opening. But although it be the duty of every Christian State to act in this manner, yet there ought to be no delusion ; credence ought not to be given to every idle tale, and the work of conversion, which in fact is full of difficulty, should not be represented as a matter of easy accomplishment. We do not adequately estimate the strong hold which the Mahometan superstition has over the minds of its votaries, to whom it permits the unrestrained indulgence of passions which the religion we require them to substitute in its stead declares must be subdued or regulated. Mahometanism is a pernicious code, established by force of arms, and still imposed upon mankind by the same brutal violence. To counteract its baneful progress, Christians must display the zeal, and use the means I have suggested, however clear it may be that this abominable imposture can be effectually destroyed only by the special and merciful interposition of Divine Providence. We may derive encouragement [S. 292] from the promising appearances lately witnessed in China, in Japan, and in the case of Jehan-Guyre. Missionaries have to contend, however, with another sad impediment the irreverent behaviour of Christians in their churches, so dissonant from their belief of the peculiar presence of God upon their altars, and so different from the conduct of Mahometans, who never venture when engaged in the service of their mosques even to turn the head, much less to utter a monosyllable one to the other, but seem to have the mind impressed with profound and awful veneration.
Zu: 15. Zum Beispiel: François Bernier: Letter to Monsieur Chapelain, 1667