« PreviousContinue »
the influence of which, he was subject to a feverish irritability. was a humane man. He played a great deal at backgammon, and sometimes at games of chance with the dice."
The following is the memorial of Hussain Mirza, king of Khorasan, who died in 1506 :
“ He had straight narrow eyes, his body was robust and firm ; from the waist downwards he was of a slenderer make. Although he was advanced in years, and had a white beard, he dressed in gaycoloured red and green woollen clothes. He usually wore a cap of black lamb's skin, or a kilpak. Now and then, on festival days, he put on a small turban tied in three folds, broad and showy, and having placed a plume nodding over it, went in this style to prayers.
"On first mounting the throne, he took it into his head that he would cause the names of the twelve Imams to be recited in the Khâtbeh. Many used their endeavours to prevent him. Finally, however, he directed and arranged everything according to the orthodox Sunni faith. From a disorder in his joints, he was unable to perform his prayers, nor could he observe the stated fasts. He was a lively, pleasant man. His temper was rather hasty, and his language took after his temper. In many instances he displayed a profound reverence for the faith ; on one occasion, one of his sons having slain a man, he delivered him up to the avengers of blood to be carried before the judgment-seat of the Kazi. For about six or seven years after he first ascended the throne, he was very guarded in abstaining from such things as were forbidden by the law; afterwards he became addicted to drinking wine. During nearly forty years that he was King of Khorasân, not a day passed in which he did not drink after mid-day prayers ; but he never drank wine in the morning. His sons, the whole of the soldiery, and the town's-people, followed his example in this respect, and seemed to vie with each other in debauchery and lasciviousness. He was a brave and valiant man. He often engaged sword in hand in fight, nay, frequently distinguished his prowess hand to hand several times in the course of the same fight. No person of the race of Taimur Beg ever equalled Sultan Hussain Mirza in the use of the scymitar. He had a turn for poetry, and composed a Diwân. He wrote in the Tûrki. His poetical name was Hussaini. Many of his verses are far from being bad, but the whole of the Mirza's Diwân is in the same measure. Although a prince of dignity, both as to years and extent of territory, he was as fond as a child of keeping butting rams, and of amusing himself with flying pigeons and cock-fighting.
Wecan afford only one other portrait---that of Sultan Abusaid, in 1499.
“ He was tall, of a ruddy complexion, and corpulent. He had a beard on the fore-part of the chin, but none on the lower part of the cheek. He was a man of extremely pleasant manners. He wore his turban, according to the fashion of the time, in what was termed Chármák (the four-plaited), with the tie or hem brought forward over the eyebrows. VOL. XLVI. NO. 9).
“ He was strictly attached to the Hanifah sect, and was a true and orthodox believer. He unfailingly observed the five stated daily prayers, and did not neglect them even when engaged in drinking parties. He was attached to Khwajeh Abid-ülla, who was his religious instructor and guide. He was polite and ceremonious at all times, but particularly in his intercourse with the Khwajeh ; insomuch that they say, that, while in company with him, however long they sat, he never changed the position of his knees, by shifting the one over the other, except in one instance, when, contrary to his usual practice, he rested the one knee on the other. After the Mirza rose, the Khwajeh desired them to examine what there was particular in the place in which the Mirza had been seated, when they found a bone lying there.
“He had never read any, and, though brought up in the city, was illiterate and unrefined. He was a plain honest Tûrk, but not favoured by genius. He was, however, a just man; and as he always consulted the reverend Khwajeh in affairs of importance, he generally acted in conformity to the law. He was true to his promises, and faithful to his compacts or treaties, from which he never swerved. He was brave; and though he never happened to be engaged hand to hand in close combat, yet they say that in several actions he showed proofs of courage. He excelled in archery. He was a good marksman. With his arrows and forked arrows he generally hit the mark; and in riding from one side of the exercise ground to the other, he used to hit the brazen basin several times. Latterly, when he became very corpulent, he took to bringing down pheasants and quails with the goshawks, and seldom failed. He was fond of hawking, and was particularly skilled in flying the hawk, an amusement which he frequently practised. If you except Ulugh Beg Mirza, there was no other king who equalled him in field sports.
He was singularly observant of decorum, insomuch that it is said that, even in private, before his own people and nearest relations, he never uncovered his feet. Whenever he took to drinking wine, he would drink without intermission for twenty or thirty days at a stretch, and then he would not taste wine for the next twenty or thirty days. In his social parties he would sometimes sit day and night, and drink profusely ; on the days when he did not drink, he ate pungent substances. was naturally of a penurious disposition, was a simple man, of few words, and entirely guided by his Begs.”
One of the most striking passages in the work is the royal author's account of the magnificence of the court and city of Herat, when he visited it in 1506; and especially his imposing catalogue of the illustrious authors, artists, and men of genius, by whom it was then adorned.
“ The age of Sultan Hussain Mirza was certainly a wonderful age, and Khorasân, particularly the city of Heri, abounded with eminent men of unrivalled acquirements, each of whom made it his aim and ambition to carry to the highest perfection the art to which he devoted himself. Among these was the Moulâna Abdal Rahman Jâmi, * to whom there was no person of that period who could be compared, whether in respect to profane or sacred science. His poems are well known. The merits of the Mülla are of too exalted a nature to admit of being described by me; but I have been anxious to bring the mention of his name, and an allusion to his excellencies, into these humble pages, for a good omen and a blessing."
He then proceeds to enumerate the names of between thirty and forty distinguished persons; ranking first the sages and theologians, to the number of eight or nine; next the poets, about fifteen; then two or three painters; and five or six performers and composers of music; -of one of these he gives the following instructive anecdote :
“ Another was Hussain Udi (the lutanist), who played with great taste on the lute, and composed elegantly. He could play, using only one string of his lute at a time. He had the fault of giving himself many airs when desired to play. On one occasion Sheibầni Khan desired him to play. After giving much trouble he played very ill, and besides, did not bring
his own instrument, but one that was good for nothing. Sheibâni Khan, on learning how matters stood, directed that, at that very party, he should receive a certain number of blows on the neck. This was one good deed that Sheibâni Khan did in his day; and indeed the affectation of such people deserves even more severe animadversion."
In the seductions of this luxurious court, Baber's orthodox abhorrence to wine was first assailed with temptation :-and there is something very naïve, we think, in his account of his reasonings and feelings on the occasion.
“ As we were guests at Mozeffer Mirza's house, Mozeffer Mirza placed me above himself, and having filled up a glass of welcome, the cupbearers in waiting began to supply all who were of the party with pure wine, which they quaffed as if it had been the water of life. The party waxed warm, and the spirit mounted up to their heads. They took a fancy to make me drink too, and bring me into the same circle with themselves. Although, till that time, I had never been guilty of drinking wine, and from never having fallen into the practice, was ignorant of the sensations it produced, yet I had a strong lurking inclination to wander in this desert, and my heart was much disposed to pass the stream. In my boyhood I had no wish for it, and did not know its pleasures or pains. When my father at any time asked me to drink wine, I excused myself, and abstained. After my father's death, by the guardian care of Khwajeh
* “ No moral poet ever had a higher reputation than Jâmi. His poems are written with great beauty of language and versification, in a captivating strain of religious and philosophic mysticism. He is not merely admired for his sublimity as a poet, but venerated as a saint."
Kazi, I remained pure and undefiled. I abstained even from forbidden foods ; how then was I likely to indulge in wine? Afterwards when, from the force of youthful imagination and constitutional impulse, I got a desire for wine, I had nobody about my person to invite me to gratify my wishes ; nay, there was not one who even suspected my secret longing for it. Though I had the appetite, therefore, it was difficult for me, unsolicited as I was, to indulge such unlawful desires. It now came into my head, that, as they urged me so much, and as, besides, I had come into a refined city like Heri, in which every means of heightening pleasure and gaiety was possessed in perfection; in which all the incentives and apparatus of enjoyment were combined with an invitation to indulgence, if I did not seize the present moment, I never could expect such another. I therefore resolved to drink wine! But it struck me, that as Badiaez-zemân Mirza was the eldest brother, and as I had declined receiving it from his hand, and in his house, he might now take offence. I therefore mentioned this difficulty which had occurred to me. My excuse was approved of, and I was not pressed any more, at this party, to drink.
It was settled, however, that the next time we met at Badia-ez-zemân Mirza's, I should drink when pressed by the two Mirzas."
By some providential accident, however, the conscientious prince escaped from this meditated lapse; and it was not till some years after, that he gave way to the long-cherished and resisted propensity. At what particular occasion he first fell into the snare, unfortunately is not recorded—as there is a blank of several years in the Memoirs previous to 1519. In that year, however, we find him a confirmed toper; and nothing, indeed, can be more ludicrous than the accuracy and apparent truth with which he continues to chronicle all his subsequent and very frequent excesses. The Eastern votary of intoxication has a pleasant way of varying his enjoyments, which was never taken in the West. When the fluid elements of drunkenness begin to fail, he betakes him to what is learnedly called a maajûn, being a sort of electuary or confection, made up with pleasant spices, and rendered potent by a large admixture of opium, bang, and other narcotic ingredients, producing a solid intoxication of a very delightful and desirable description. One of the first drinking matches that is described makes honourable mention of this variety:
“ The maajûn-takers and spirit-drinkers, as they have different tastes, are very apt to take offence with each other. I said, · Don't spoil the cordiality of the party; whoever wishes to drink spirits, let him drink spirits; and let him that prefers maajûn, take maajûn; and let not the one party give any idle or provoking language to the other. Some sat down to spirits, some to maajûn. The party went on for some time tolerably well. Bâba Jân Kabûzi had not been in the boat; we had sent for him when we reached the royal tents. He chose to drink spirits. Terdi Muhammed Kipchâk, too, was sent for, and joined the spirit-drinkers. As the spirit-drinkers and maajûntakers never can agree in one party, the spirit-bibing party began to indulge in foolish and idle conversation, and to make provoking remarks on maajûn and maajûn-takers. Bâba Jân, too, getting drunk, talked very absurdly. The tipplers, filling up glass after glass for Terdi Muhammed, made him drink them off, so that in a very short time he was mad drunk. Whatever exertions I could make to preserve peace, were all unavailing ; there was much uproar and wrangling. The party became quite burdensome and unpleasant, and soon broke up."
The second day after, we find the royal bacchanal still more grievously overtaken :
“ We continued drinking spirits in the boat till bed-time prayers, when, being completely drunk, we mounted, and taking torches in our hands came at full gallop back to the camp from the river-side, falling sometimes on one side of the horse, and sometimes on the other. I was miserably drunk, and next morning, when they told me of our having galloped into the camp with lighted torches in our hands, I had not the slightest recollection of the circumstance. After coming home, I vomited plentifully."
Even in the middle of a harassing and desultory campaign, there is no intermission of this excessive jollity, though it sometimes puts the parties into jeopardy,--for example :
“ We continued at this place drinking till the sun was on the decline, when we set out. Those who had been of the party were completely drunk. Syed Kâsim was so drunk, that two of his servants were obliged to put him on horseback, and brought him to the camp with great difficulty. Dost Muhammid Bâkir was so far gone, that Amîn Muhammed Terkhân, Masti Chehreh, and those who were along with him, were unable, with all their exertions, to get him on horseback. They poured a great quantity of water over him, but all to no purpose. At this moment a body of Afghâns appeared in sight. Amîn Muhammed Terkhân, being very drunk, gravely gave it as his opinion, that rather than leave him, in the condition in which he was, to fall into the hands of the enemy, it was better at once to cut off his head, and carry it away. Making another exertion, however, with much difficulty, they contrived to throw him upon a horse, which they led along, and so brought him off.”
On some occasions they contrive to be drunk four times in twenty-four hours. The gallant prince contents himself with a strong maajún one day; but
“ Next morning we had a drinking party in the same tent. We continued drinking till night. On the following morning we again had an early cup, and, getting intoxicated, went to sleep. About noon-day prayers, we left Istâlif, and I took a manjûn on the road. It was about afternoon prayers before I reached Behzâdi. The crops were extremely good. While I was riding round the harvest-fields,