Slike stranica

her falsehood and her fascination, and the prince was quite right to put the poisoned arrows into her bosom, for was not her heart false? Inshallah! may all who act like her suffer like her!

Such is the end of Elihu Jan's story.






OUDH became a kingdom in 1814. Before that, its sovereigns were styled nawabs. The first king, Ghazee-ood-deen Hyder, reigned from 1814 to 1827, and left in the treasury, at his death, ten millions of pounds sterling. His son, Nussir-ood-deen Hyder, some of whose doings are recorded in the Private Life of an Eastern King,' reigned from 1827 to 1837, and left in the treasury at his death about 700,000. He had squandered not only the regular annual income of the kingdom on his pleasures and favourites, but also 9,300,000%. of the treasure accumulated by his father— that is, about a million a year in addition to the ordinary annual income. Nussir-ood-deen Hyder was succeeded by his uncle, Mohamed Aly Shah, who reigned from 1837 to 1842,

and left behind him in the treasury about 800,000l. His son, Umjid Aly Shah, consort of that queen whose life is illustrated in these pages, reigned from 1842 to 1847, and left behind him in the treasury 1,360,000l. He was succeeded by his son Wajid Aly Shah, now the ex-king of Oudh, who reigned till the annexation of the country to the British dominions in India in 1856.

The account given by Elihu Jan, in the foregoing pages, of the palace life of Umjid. Aly Shah and Wajid Aly Shah, the two last kings of Oudh, is simple, plain, and unvarnished. In the present chapter I propose to illustrate the same life from other sources, and chiefly from Sir W. Sleeman's 'Journey through the Kingdom of Oudh,' which was published in London in 1858.

Sleeman, having been resident at the court of Lucknow from 1849 to 1856, had of course the best opportunity of becoming acquainted with the state of the palace, and the ordinary life of its principal inmates. But his work was intended to serve a political purpose-his object was to show how

ruinous the misgovernment of the country had been-and consequently the 'Journey through the Kingdom of Oudh' is more taken up with the state of the provinces, the history of the leading families, and the conversations the resident held with the principal local authorities, than with the doings at court. These doings are, indeed, but incidentally introduced here and there, and hence the utility of collecting them together, to serve as an illustration of a state of society and of a court now probably for ever passed away.

In August 1849, writing to Lord Dalhousie, the resident gives the following account of Wajid Aly Shah, then the reigning sovereign: 'The king's habits will not alter. He was allowed by his father to associate, as at present he does, with singers from his boyhood, and he cannot endure the society of other persons. He no longer makes any attempt to conceal his determination to live exclusively in their society, and to hear and see nothing of what his officers do, or his people suffer. Whatever he has, he is ready to give to singers and eunuchs, or he allows them to take. No man

can take charge of any office without anticipating the income by large gratuities to them, and the average gratuity which a contractor for a year of a district yielding three lacs of rupees annually (30,0007.), is made to pay before he leaves the capital to enter upon his charge, is estimated to be 50,000 rupees (5,000l.). And again, in the same letter: 'The king is utterly unfit to have anything to do with the administration, since he has never taken, or shown any wish to take, any heed of what is done or suffered in the country. He spends all his time with singers and the females they provide to amuse him, and is for seven and eight hours together living in the house of the chief singer, Rajee-oodDowlah, a fellow who was only lately beating a drum to a party of dancing girls, on some four rupees a month. These singers are all Domes, the lowest of the low castes of India, and they and the eunuchs are now the virtual sovereigns of the country.'

In the council of regency, which the resident proposed, to supersede the king, the king's mother-the queen my mistress' of

« PrethodnaNastavi »