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INDIA AND AVGHANISTAUN.
REPLY TO COUNT BJÖRSTJERNA'S WORK ON BRITISH
I am not acquainted with any historical subject amongst modern incidents which has been more elaborately or more ably treated by writers of eminent pretensions than the British Empire in India, an important phenomenon in the political history of the human race, and justly entitled to a careful investigation. The patient and persevering application necessary to eliminate from an extensive and promiscuous mass the atoms of a fair synopsis, deserves our warm approbation ; and the individual who devotes himself to the task with the motive of communicating information of a nature so full of interest as the general advancement of knowledge involved and displayed in the events of history, is entitled to, and shall receive, our grateful acknowledgements for the admirable design; but the errors of a work, whether accidental or premeditated, cannot be redeemed by the merit of the subject; and we
are particular in referring to the blunders of the treatise under review, because an invincible name does more to substantiate error than a controverted attempt to confirm a false position; the effort producing a conflict which must result in the predominance of truth; whilst the silent and unimpeached influence of a name imperceptibly impresses its force upon a plastic receptacle, and insensibly corroborates the grossest mistakes.
On this subject the most efficient information can be derived in a form sufficiently condensed for the general reader, from Harpers' Family Library, entitled “History of British India," in three vols. 16mo. If to this publication is added “ History of Persia, from the earliest ages to the present time,” by James B. Frazer, Esq., complete in one vol., with a map and engravings; and the well arranged and minutely true account of Avghanistaun, by the Hon. Mount Stuart Elphinstone, a synopsis of Indian and Persian history becomes available, including all that a philosophical inquirer could desire. Amongst the collaborators upon British India one of the latest candidates for public approbation is “Lieut. General Count de Björstjerna," &c. &c., (of Stockholm,) formerly chief of the staff, and at present Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at the Court of Great Britain. The Count is an admirer of the English government, and his work, for that essential cause, is, in the opinion of our great Colossus of the world, “ judicious and luminous, and will afford more complete information on the British Empire in the East than any work of the same extent in our own language." (Preface of the English translator.) The Count has laboriously referred to all accredited authorities
on India, and enumerates more than one hundred published sources, besides a host of unpublished manuscripts, many of them voluminous deposits in the archives of the East India Company, from which his knowledge has been culled, and his opinions made up or confirmed. He presents himself to the public as an individual perfectly acquainted with his subject, and consequently soliciting and deserving the attention of his auditors, and doubtless, in default of more correct knowledge, he may bear away the compliment of merit which his pretensions in no kind justify us in awarding.
The Count is more than unfortunate in almost every opinion he has expressed. He is indeed unwise, for he compromises by his misstatements, in the fullest latitude, the gratuitous approbation of his English friends. The value of the Count's opinions and accuracy may be readily estimated at the onset by recurring to his puerile inferences drawn from facts which, in his imagination, are worthy of remark. He directs our attention to a wonderful coincidence, a discovery unthought of heretofore, and refers to the occurrence with a matterof-course sort of self-complacency of an edifying caste. He says, p. 10 of “ The British Empire in India"_“During his residence in India (1324–53) Batuta gained the favour of Mahomet, the Emperor of Delhi, who sent him on an embassy to the Emperor of China. Mahomet was descended from the Sooltauns of Khorassaun, who had conquered India. The whole dynasty of these sooltauns had the surname of Oddin, a circumstance which I consider it right to notice here." By referring to the History of India mentioned above, page 184, we see, “ In the year 1316 the crown (of Delhi) was
placed on the head of Mubarrick I., one of the Emperor's sons. He was murdered after a reign of three years, and amid the confusion which followed (p. 185), Tuglick, a slave, belonging to the warlike border tribe of the Jits, ascended the throne.” Tuglick was succeeded by his son Jonah, who assumed the title of Mahomet III. ; but instead of following his father's example, his crimes surpassed those of his most guilty predecessors, and made him, during a reign of twenty-seven years, the execration of the East. 6 Mahomet, it appears (p. 186), had at length resolved to adopt a milder system, but death interrupted him before he could realize his intentions, and delivered India from the dreadful scourge of his government in the year 1351."
This Mahomet was the son of a slave, and not, as the Count observes, descended from the Sooltauns of Khorassaun," &c. “ The whole dynasty of these sooltauns (those of Khorassaun, who had conquered India,) had the surname of Oddin.” Merely alluding to the culpable and inexpressive looseness of the Count's style, we must meet this assertion with a direct denial. The first person who reigned as a local Mahomedan prince in India, was Kuttub ul Deen. He was of the humblest birth, having been purchased as a slave at Nishapoor in Toorkistaun. Mahmood of Ghoree established Kuttub as his lieutenant in the city of Delhi, on the subversion of the Hindoo dynasty.
He was the first of a race of foreign rulers called the Patan dynasty, but his power did not descend in his own family. He was succeeded by Altumish, who, like his master, had been a slave. All the kings of what is called “ the Patan dynasty," i. e., those who followed Kuttub ul
It is pro
Deen, to the period of the Moghul dynasty, established by Baber in 1525, are mentioned in history by their proper appellatives, without a surname. bable some who were elevated from a low condition, may have had the surname of Ul Deen, according to the Mahomedan usage. This cognomen would have corresponded with the denomination those who were called after some attribute of the faith, whilst there are many names which would not admit of the association. Such are Mahomed, Kei Kobad, Kera, (unless this last should be intended for Khire,) Ghuffoor, Omar, Mubarrick, Tuglick, Mahomed, et id genus omne. Admitting, for the Count's gratification, that they all took the surname which distinguished Kultub, by what method of pronunciation, or by what value of letters, can UI Deen be called Oddin. Ul is the Arabic article the, Deen means religion in the same language, and the word Kuttub signifies pole or axis (of the earth) Kuttub ul Deen implies, “axis of the faith,” i. e., the faith of Mahomed. The name is derived from the Mahomedan era, and cannot be in any way coincident with the Scandinavian name Oddin. Fancy the surprise of the Hyperborean worthy, could he break the cerements of his tomb at this moment, and find himself saluted by one antiquarian as a Hindoo devotee, whilst another familiarly addressed him as a Mahomedan priest ! The Count's great discovery, of which he had so much to make in reserve, a circumstance which he sagely suggests, "I consider right to mention here," goes for naught.
The Count draws other inferences from what he considers coincidences of language, in each of which he still more strongly proves his ignorance of philology and of history, and deficiency in tact, in