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Modern India by William Eleroy Curtis

Part 4 out of 8

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Within the wall of the great citadel at Delhi, for reasons of
policy, the English allowed the great Mogul to maintain a fictitious
court, and because the title continued to command the veneration of
the natives, at state ceremonies the nominal successor of Timour
the Tartar was allowed to sit upon a throne in the imperial hall
of audience and receive the homage of the people. But the Moguls
were not allowed to exercise authority and were idle puppets
in the hands of their advisers until the great mutiny of 1857
brought the native soldiers into the palace crying:

"Help, oh King, in our Fight for the Faith."

It is not necessary to relate the details of that awful episode
of Indian history, but it will do no harm to recall what we learned
in our school days of the principal incidents and refer to the
causes which provoked it. From the beginning of the British
occupation of India there had been frequent local uprisings caused
by discontent or conspiracy, but the East India Company, and the
officials of the British government who supported it, had perfect
confidence in the loyalty of the sepoys--the native soldiers who
were hired to fight against their fellow countrymen for so much
pay. They were officered by Englishmen, whose faith in them was
only extinguished by assassination and massacre. The general
policy and the general results of British administration have
been worthy of the highest commendation, but there have been
many blunders and much injustice from time to time, due to
individuals rather than to the nation. A weak and unwise man
in authority can do more harm in a year than can be corrected
in a century. Several so-called "reforms" had been introduced
into the native army; orders had been issued forbidding the use
of caste marks, the wearing of earrings and other things which
Englishmen considered trivial, but were of great importance to
the Hindus. Native troops were ordered over the sea, which caused
them to lose their caste; new regulations admitted low-caste men
to the service; the entire army was provided with a new uniform
with belts and cockades made from the skins of animals which the
Hindus considered sacred, and cartridges were issued which had been
covered with lard to protect them from the moisture of the climate,
and, as everybody knows, the flesh of swine is the most unclean
thing in existence to the pious Hindu. All these things, which
the stubborn, stupid Englishmen considered insignificant, were
regarded by the sepoys as deliberate attacks upon their religion,
and certain conspirators, who had reasons for desiring to destroy
British authority, used them to convince the native soldiers
that the new regulations were a long-considered and deliberate
attempt to deprive them of their caste and force them to become
Christians. Unfortunately the British officers in command refused
to treat the complaints seriously, and laughed in the faces of
their men, which was insult added to injury, and was interpreted
as positive proof of the evil intentions of the government.

This situation was taken advantage of by certain Hindu princes
who had been deprived of power or of pensions previously granted.
Nana Sahib, the deposed raja of Poona, was the leader, and the
unsuspecting authorities allowed him to travel about the country
stirring up discontent and conspiring with other disloyal native
chiefs for a general uprising and massacre, which, according to
their programme, occurred in northern India during the summer
of 1857. If the British had desired to play into the hands of the
conspirators they could not have adopted a policy more effective
in that direction. Utterly unconscious of danger and unsuspicious
of the conspiracies that were enfolding them, they relieved city
after city of its guard of English troops and issued arms and
ammunition in unusual and unnecessary quantities to the sepoys,
at whose mercy the entire foreign population was left.

The outbreak occurred according to the programme of Nana Sahib,
who proved to be a leader of great ability and strategic skill,
and in nearly every city of northern India, particularly at Delhi,
Lucknow, Cawnpore and other places along the Ganges, men, women and
children, old and young, in the foreign colonies were butchered
in cold blood. In Agra 6,000 foreigners gathered for protection
in the walls of the great fort, and most of them were saved.
Small detachments of brave soldiers under General Havelock, Sir
Henry Lawrence, Sir Colin Campbell, Sir Hugh Rose, Lord Napier and
other leaders fought their way to the rescue, and the conspiracy
was finally crushed, but not without untold suffering and enormous
loss of life.

On the evening of May 11, 1857, about fifty foreigners, all unarmed
civilians, were brought into the palace at Delhi, and by order of
Bahander Shah, the Mogul whom the mutineer leaders had proclaimed
Emperor of India, were thrust into a dungeon, starved for five
days and then hacked to pieces in the beautiful courtyard. The
new emperor, a weak-minded old man with no energy or ability,
and scarcely intellect enough to realize his responsibilities,
pronounced judgment and issued the orders prepared for him by
the conspirators by whom he was surrounded. But retribution was
swift and sure. A few weeks later when the British troops blew
in the walls of the palace citadel after one of the most gallant
assaults ever recorded in the annals of war, the old man, with
two of his sons, fled to the tomb of Humayon, who occupied the
Mogul throne from 1531 to 1556, as if that sanctuary would be
revered by the British soldiers.

This tomb is one of the most notable buildings in India. It stands
on the bank of the Jumna River, about five miles from the present
city of Delhi. It is an octagonal mass of rose-colored sandstone
and white marble, decorated with an ingenuity of design and delicacy
of execution that have never been surpassed, and is crowned by a
marble dome of perfect Persian pattern, three-fourths the diameter
of that of St. Paul's Cathedral of London, and almost as large as
that of the Capitol at Washington. In this splendid mausoleum,
where twelve of his imperial ancestors sleep, the Last of the Moguls
endeavored to conceal himself and his sons, but Colonel Hodson,
who commanded a desperate volunteer battalion of foreigners whose
property had been confiscated or destroyed by the mutineers, whose
wives had been ravished and whose children had been massacred,
followed the flying Mogul to the asylum he sought, and dragged
him trembling and begging for mercy from among the tombs.

Hodson was a man of remarkable character and determination and
was willing to assume responsibility, and "Hodson's Horse," as
the volunteer battalion was called, were the Rough Riders of the
Indian mutiny. He took the aged king back to Delhi and delivered
him to the British authorities alive, but almost imbecile from
terror and excitement. The two princes, 19 and 22 years of age,
he deliberately shot with his own revolver before leaving the
courtyard of the tomb in which they were captured.

This excited the horror of all England. The atrocities of the
mutineers were almost forgotten for the moment. That the heirs
of the throne of the great Moguls should be killed by a British
officer while prisoners of war was an offense against civilization
and Christianity that could not be tolerated, although only a
few weeks before these two same princes had participated in the
cold-blooded butchery of fifty Christian women and children.
There was a parliamentary investigation. Hodson explained that
he had only a few men, too few to guard three prisoners of such
importance; that he was surrounded by fifty thousand half-armed
and excited natives, who would have exterminated his little band
and rescued his prisoners if anyone of their number had possessed
sufficient presence of mind and courage to make the attempt.
Convinced that he could not conduct three prisoners through that
crowd of their adherents and sympathizers without sacrificing
his own life and that of his escort, he took the responsibility
of shooting the princes like the reptiles they were, and thus
relieved the British government from what might have been a most
embarrassing situation.

Hodson was condemned by parliament and public opinion, while
the bloodthirsty old assassin he had captured was treated as
gently and as generously as if he had been a saint. Bahandur
Shah was tried and convicted of treason, but was acquitted of
responsibility for the massacre on the ground that his act
authorizing it was a mere formality, and that it would have occurred
without his consent at any rate. Instead of hanging him the British
government sent him in exile to Rangoon, where he was furnished
a comfortable bungalow and received a generous pension until
November, 1862, when he died. Bahandur Shah had a third son, a
worthless drunken fellow, who managed to escape the consequences
of his participation in the massacre and accompanied him into
exile. He survived his father for several years and left a widow
and several children at Rangoon, including a son, who inherited
his indolence, but not his vices. The latter still lives there on
a small pension from the British government, is idle, indifferent,
amiable and well-liked. He goes to the races, the polo games
and tennis matches, and takes interest in other sports, but is
too lazy to participate. He has married a Burmese wife and they
have several children, who live with him in the bungalow that was
assigned to his grandfather when he was sent to Burma forty-five
years ago, and, judging from appearances, it has not been repaired
since. Although he is perfectly harmless, the Last of the Moguls
is required to report regularly to the British commandant and
is not allowed to leave Burma, even if he should ever desire
to do so.



Although the Moguls have vanished, their glory remains in the
most sublime and beautiful monuments that were ever erected by
human hands, and people come from the uttermost parts of the
earth to admire them. In the form of fortresses, palaces, temples
and tombs they are scattered pretty well over northern India,
and the finest examples may be found at Agra, a city of 200,000
inhabitants, only a short ride from Delhi, the Mogul capital. Agra
was their favorite residence. Akbar the Great actually removed
the seat of government there the latter part of the sixteenth
century, and expended genius and money until he made it the most
beautiful city in India and filled it with the most splendid
palaces that were ever seen. Shah Jehan, his grandson, who was
a greater man than he, and lived and reigned nearly a hundred
years after him, even surpassed him in architectural ambition
and accomplishments. Jehan built the fort at Agra, and the best
specimens of his architectural work are within its walls, erected
between 1630 and 1637, and he was confined within them, the prisoner
of his son Aurangzeb, for seven years before his death, from 1658
to 1665.

The fortress at Agra is probably the grandest citadel ever erected.
It surpasses in beauty and strength the Kremlin at Moscow, the
Tower of London, the citadel at Toledo and every other fortress
I know of. Nothing erected in modern times can compare with it.
Although it would be a poor defense and protection against modern
projectiles, it was impregnable down to the mutiny of 1857. The
walls are two miles and a quarter in circumference; they are
protected by a moat 30 feet wide and 35 feet deep; they are 70
feet high and 30 feet thick, and built of enormous blocks of
red sandstone. There are two entrances, both very imposing, one
called the Delhi Gate and the other the Elephant Gate, where
there used to be two large stone elephants, but they were removed
many years ago. Within the walls is a collection of the most
magnificent oriental palaces ever erected, with mosques, barracks,
arsenals, storehouses, baths and other buildings for residential,
official and military purposes, all of them on the grandest scale.
Since the British have had possession they have torn down many
of the old buildings and have erected unsightly piles of brick
and stone in their places, but while such vandalism cannot be
condemned in terms too strong, the world should be grateful to
them for leaving the most characteristic and costly of the Mogul
residences undisturbed. A small garrison of English soldiers is
quartered in the fortress at present, just enough to protect it
and keep things in order, but there is room for several regiments,
and during the mutiny of 1857 more than 6,000 foreigners, refugees
from northern India, found refuge and protection here.

Although the palaces seem bare and comfortless to us to-day, and
we wonder how people could ever be contented to live in them,
we are reminded that when they were actually occupied the open
arches were hung with curtains, the marble floors were spread
with rugs and covered with cushions, and the banquet halls were
furnished with sumptuous services of gold, silver and linen.
The Moguls were not ascetics. They loved luxury and lived in
great magnificence with every comfort and convenience that the
ingenuity and experience of those days could contrive. It is
never safe to judge of things by your own standard. You may always
be sure that intelligent people will adapt themselves in the
best possible manner to their conditions and environment. Those
who live in the tropics know much better how to make themselves
comfortable than friends who visit them from the arctic zone.
Wise travelers will always imitate local habits and customs so
far as they are able to do so. While these wonderful compositions
of carved marble seem cold and comfortless as they stand empty
to-day, we must not forget that they were very different when
they were actually inhabited. Some idea of the luxury of the
Mogul court may be gained from an account given by M. Bernier,
a Frenchman who visited Agra in 1663 during the reign of Shah
Jehan. He says:

"The king appeared sitting upon his throne, in the bottom of
the great hall of the Am-kas, splendidly appareled. His vest was
of white satin, flowered and raised with a very fine embroidery
of gold and silk. His turban was of cloth-of-gold, having a fowl
wrought upon it like a heron, whose foot was covered with diamonds
of an extraordinary bigness and price, with a great oriental topaz,
which may be said to be matchless, shining like a little sun. A
collar of big pearls hung about his neck down to his stomach,
after the manner that some of the heathens wear their great beads.
His throne was supported by six pillars, or feet, said to be
of massive gold, and set with rubies, emeralds and diamonds. I
am not able to tell you aright either the number or the price
of this heap of precious stones, because it is not permitted to
come near enough to count them and to judge of their water and
purity. Only this I can say: that the big diamonds are there
in confusion, and that the throne is estimated to be worth four
kouroures of roupies, if I remember well. I have said elsewhere
that a roupie is almost equivalent to half a crown, a lecque to
a hundred thousand roupies and a kourour to a hundred lecques,
so that the throne is valued at forty millions of roupies, which
are worth about sixty millions of French livres. That which I
find upon it best devised are two peacocks covered with precious
stones and pearls. Beneath this throne there appeared all the
Omrahs, in splendid apparel, upon a raised ground covered with a
canopy of purified gold, with great golden fringes and inclosed
by a silver balistre. The pillars of the hall were hung with
tapestries of purified gold, having the ground of gold; and for
the roof of the hall there was nothing but great canopies of
flowered satin, fastened with great red silken cords that had
big tufts of silk mixed with threads of gold."

The gem of the architectural exhibition at Agra, always exempting
the Taj Mahal, is the "Pearl Mosque," so called because it is
built of stainless white marble, without the slightest bit of
color within except inscriptions from the Koran here and there
inlaid in precious stones. It was the private chapel of the Moguls,
as you might say; was built between 1648 and 1655, and has been
pronounced by the highest authority to be the purest and most
elegant example of Saracenic architecture in existence. No lovelier
sanctuary was ever erected in honor of the Creator. One of the
inscriptions tells us that it was intended to be "likened to a
mansion of paradise or to a precious pearl." It is built after
the usual fashion, a square courtyard paved with white marble and
surrounded by a marble colonnade of exquisite arches, supported
by pillars of perfect grace. The walls upon three sides are solid;
the western side, looking toward Mecca, being entirely open, a
succession of arches supported by columns exquisitely carved.
And the roof is crowned with a forest of minarets and three white
marble domes. In the center of the courtyard is a marble tank
thirty-seven feet square and three feet deep, in which the faithful
performed their ablutions before going to prayer.

Near by the mosque is the Diwan-i-'Am, or Hall of Public Audience,
201 feet square, in which the Moguls received their subjects
and held court. The roof is supported by nine rows of graceful
columns cut from red sandstone and formerly covered with gold.
The rest of the building is marble. The throne stood upon a high
platform in an alcove of white marble, richly decorated, and above
it are balconies protected by grilles or screens behind which the
sultanas were permitted to watch the proceedings. Back of the
audience-room is a great quadrangle, planted with trees, flowers
and vines. White marble walks radiate from a marble platform and
fountain basin in the center, and divide the garden into beds
which, we are told, were filled with soil brought from Cashmere
because of its richness. And even to-day gardeners say that it
is more productive than any found in this part of the country.
Around this court were the apartments of the zenana, or harem,
occupied by the mother, sisters, wives and daughters of the sultan
who were more or less prisoners, but had considerable area to
wander about in, and could sit in the jasmine tower, one of the
most exquisite pieces of marble work you can imagine, and on the
flat roofs of the palaces, which were protected by high screens,
and enjoy views over the surrounding country and up and down the
Jumna River. From this lofty eyrie they could witness reviews
of the troops and catch glimpses of the gay cavalcades that came
in and out of the fortress, and in a small courtyard was a bazar
where certain favored merchants from the city were allowed to
come and exhibit goods to the ladies of the court. But these were
the only glimpses female royalty ever had of the outer world.

No man was ever admitted to the zenana except the emperor. All
domestic work was done by women, who were watched on the outside
by eunuchs and then by soldiers. They had their own place of
worship, the "Gem Mosque" they called it, a beautiful little
structure erected by Shah Jehan, and afterward used as his prison.

The baths are of the most sumptuous character. The walls are
decorated with raised foliage work in colors, silver and gold,
upon a ground of mirrors, and the ceiling is finished with pounded
mica, which has the effect of silver. Fronting the entrance of
the bathrooms are rows of lights over which the water poured in
broad sheets into a basin, then, running over a little marble
causeway, fell over a second cluster of lights into another basin,
and then another and another, five in succession, so that many
ladies were able to bathe in these fascinating fountains at the
same time. Below the baths we were shown some dark and dreary
vaults. In the center of the most gloomy of them there is a pit--a
well--which, the guide told us, has its outlet in the bottom of
the river, three-quarters of a mile away. Over this pit hangs
a heavy beam of wood very highly carved, and in the center is
a groove from which dangles a silken rope. Here, according to
tradition, unfaithful inmates of the harem were hanged, and when
life was extinct the cord was cut and the body fell into the
pit, striking the keen edge of knives at frequent intervals,
so that it finally reached the river in small fragments, which
were devoured by fishes or crocodiles, or if they escaped them,
floated down to the sea. After each execution a flood of water was
turned from the fountains into the pit to wash away the stains.

But let us turn from this terrible place to the jasmine tower
containing apartments of the chief sultana, which overhangs the
walls of the fort and is surpassingly beautiful: a series of
rooms entirely of marble--roof, walls and floor--and surrounded
by a broad marble veranda supported, by noble arches springing
from graceful, slender pillars arranged in pairs and protected
by a balustrade of perforated marble. One could scarcely imagine
anything more dainty than these lacelike screens of stone extremely
simple in design and exquisite in execution. The interior walls
are incrusted with mosaic work of jasper, carnelian, lapis-lazuli,
agate, turquoise, bloodstone, malachite and other precious materials
in the form of foliage, flowers, ornamental scrolls, sentences
from the Koran in Arabic letters and geometrical patterns. The
decoration is as beautiful and as rich as the Taj Mahal, so far
as it goes, and was done by the same artists.

There is a broad field for the imagination to range about in
and picture this palace when it was a paradise of luxury and
splendor, filled with gorgeous and costly hangings, draperies,
rugs, couches and cushions. The writers of the time tell us that
the sultanas had 5,000 women around them who were divided into
companies. First were the three chief wives, next in rank were
300 concubines and the remainder were dancing girls, musicians,
artists, embroiderers, seamstresses, hair dressers, cooks and
other servants. The mother of the Mogul was always the head of
the household. The three empresses were subject to her authority,
according to the oriental custom, and while they might stand
first in the affections of the Mogul they were subordinate to
his mother, who conducted affairs about the harem, we are told,
with the same regularity and strictness that were found in the
executive departments of the state. Each of the wives received an
allowance according to her rank. If she had a child, especially
a son, she was immediately promoted to the highest rank, given
larger and better quarters, provided with many more servants
and furnished with a much larger allowance in money.

The apartments of the emperor are quite plain when compared with
the adjoining suite of the favorite sultana, but are massive,
dignified and appropriate for a sovereign of his wealth and power,
and everything is finished with that peculiar elegance which is
only found in the East. In all the great cluster of buildings
there is nothing mean or commonplace. Every apartment, every
corridor, every arch and every column is perfect and a wonder
of architectural design, construction and decoration.

From the emperor's apartments you may pass through a stately
pavilion to a large marble courtyard. Upon one side of it, next
to the wall that overhangs the river, is a slab of black marble
known as "The Black Marble Throne." And upon this he used to
sit when hearing appeals for justice from his subjects or other
business of supreme importance. Upon the opposite side of the
court is a white marble slab upon which the grand vizier sat
and to the east is a platform where seats were provided for the
judges, the nobles and the grandees of the court. In this pavilion
have occurred some of the most exciting scenes in Indian history.

Perhaps you would like to know something about the women who
lived in these wonderful palaces, and are buried in the beautiful
tombs at Agra. They had their romances and their tragedies, and
although the Mohammedan custom kept them closely imprisoned in
the zenanas, they nevertheless exerted a powerful influence in
arranging the destinies of the Mogul empire. The most notable
of the women, and one who would have taken a prominent part in
affairs in whatever country or in whatever generation it had
pleased the Almighty to place her, was Nur Jehan, sultana of the
Mogul Jehanghir. She lived in the marble palace of Agra from 1556
to 1605; a woman of extraordinary force of character, the equal
of Queen Elizabeth in intellect and of Mary Stuart in physical
attractions, and her life was a mixture of romance and tragedy. Her
father, Mizra Gheas Bey, or Itimad-Ud Daula, as he was afterward
known, was grand vizier of the Mogul empire during the latter
part of the reign of Akbar the Great. An obscure but ambitious
Persian scholar, hearing of the generous patronage extended to
students by Emperor Akbar in India, he started from Teheran to
Delhi overland, a distance of several thousand miles. He had
means enough to buy a donkey for his wife to ride, and trudged
along with a caravan on foot beside the animal to protect her and
the panniers which contained all their earthly possessions. The
morning after the caravan reached Kandahar, Turkestan, a daughter
was born to the wife of Mirza, and was, naturally, a great source
of anxiety and embarrassment to him, but the principal merchant
of the caravan, struck with the beauty of the child and with
sympathy for the mother, provided for their immediate needs, took
them with him to Agra and there used his good offices with the
officials in behalf of the father, who was given employment under
the government. His ability and fidelity were soon recognized. He
was promoted rapidly, and finally reached the highest office in
the gift of the Mogul--that of prime minister of the empire--which
he filled with conspicuous ability, wisdom and prudence for many
years. As his daughter grew to girlhood she attracted the attention
of Prince Jehanghir, who became violently in love with her, and,
to prevent complications, the emperor caused her to be married to
Shir Afghan Kahn, a young Persian of excellent family, who was
made viceroy of Bengal, and took his wife with him to Calcutta.

Several years later, when Jehanghir ascended the throne, he had
not forgotten the beautiful Persian, and sent emissaries to Calcutta
to arrange with her husband for a divorce so that he might take
her into his own harem. Shir Afghan refused, and the king ordered
his assassination. Nur Jehan undoubtedly loved her husband, and
sincerely mourned him. She repelled the addresses of the emperor,
and for several years earned her living by embroidery and painting
silks. One day the emperor surprised her in her apartment. He
was the only man in India who had the right to intrude upon his
lady subjects, but seems to have used it with rare discretion.
When she recognized her visitor she bowed her head to the floor
nine times in accordance with the custom of the country; and
although she was wearing the simplest of garments, she had lost
none of her beauty or graces, and treated the Mogul with becoming
modesty and dignity. When he reproached her for her plain attire
she replied:

"Those born to servitude must dress as it shall please them whom
they serve. Those women around me are my servants and I lighten
their bondage by every indulgence in my power; and I, who am your
slave, O Emperor of the World, am willing to dress according to
your pleasure and not my own."

This significant retort pleased His Majesty immensely, and, with
the facilities that were afforded emperors in those days, he had
her sent at once to the imperial harem, where she was provided
with every possible comfort and luxury and was promoted rapidly
over the other women. She received the title Nur Jehan Begam
(Light of the World). The Emperor granted her the right of
sovereignty in her own name; her portrait was placed upon the
coin of the country; and after several years her power became
so great that the officials would not obey any important order
from his majesty unless it bore her indorsement. He willingly
submitted to her judgment and counsel. She repressed his passions,
caprices and prejudices, and when any matter of serious importance
arose in the administration of affairs, it was submitted to her
before action was taken. Her beauty and her graces were the theme
of all the poets of India, and her goodness, the kindness of her
heart and her unbounded generosity are preserved by innumerable
traditions. She was the godmother of all orphan girls and provided
their dowers when they were married, and it is said that during
her reign she procured good husbands for thousands of friendless
girls who otherwise must have spent their lives in slavery. Thus
the child of the desert became the most powerful influence in
the East, for in those days the authority of the Mogul extended
from the Ganges to the Bosporus and the Baltic Sea.

Nur Jehan took good care of her own family. Her father continued
to occupy the office of grand vizier until his death, and her
brother, Asaf Khan, became high treasurer of the empire and
father-in-law of the Mogul. Other relatives were placed in
remunerative and influential positions. But at last she made a
blunder, and failed to secure the crown for her son, Sheriar,
who, being a younger member of the family, was not entitled to
it, and Shah Jehan, the oldest son of the Mogul by another wife,
succeeded him to the throne.

Shah Jehan promptly murdered his ambitious brother, as was the
amiable custom of those days, but treated his father's famous
widow with great respect and generosity. He presented her with
a magnificent palace, gave her an allowance of $1,250,000 a year
and accepted her pledge that she would interfere no longer in
politics. She survived nineteen years and devoted her time and
talents thereafter and several millions of dollars to the
construction of a tomb to the memory of her father, which still
stands as one of the finest of the group of architectural wonders
of Agra. It is situated in a walled garden on the bank of the
River Jumna about a mile and a half from the hotels, and is
constructed entirely of white marble. The sides are of the most
beautiful perforated work, and the towers are of exquisite design.
Much of the walls are covered with the Florentine mosaic work
similar to that which distinguishes the Taj Mahal.


Shah Jehan, the greatest of all the Moguls, had many wives, and
three in particular. One of them was a Hindu, of whom we know
very little; another was a Mohammedan, the daughter of Asaf Khan,
high treasurer of the empire and the niece of Nur Jehan. She is
the woman who sleeps in the Taj Mahal, the most beautiful of all
human structures. The third was Miriam, a Portuguese Christian
princess, who never renounced her religion, and built a Roman
Catholic Church in a park outside the walls of Agra in connection
with a palace provided for her special residence. This marriage
was brought about through the influence of the governor of the
Portuguese colony at Goa, 200 miles south of Bombay, and illustrates
the liberality of Shah Jehan in religious matters. He not only
tolerated, but invited Catholic missionaries to come into his
empire and preach their doctrines, and although we know very
little of the experience of the Sultana Miriam, and her life
must have been rather lonely and isolated, yet the king did not
require her to remain in the harem with his other wives, but
gave her an independent establishment a considerable distance
from the city, where she was attended by ladies of her own race
and religion. Her palace has disappeared, but the church she
built is still standing, and her tomb is preserved. By successive
changes they have passed under the control of the Church of England
and her grounds are now occupied by an orphanage under the
superintendence of a Mr. Moore, who has 360 young Hindus under
his care. The fathers and mothers of most of them died during
the famine and he is teaching them useful trades. We stopped
to talk to some of the children as we drove about the place,
but did not get much information. The boys giggled and ran away
and the workmen were surprisingly ignorant of their own affairs,
which, I have discovered, is a habit Hindus cultivate when they
meet strangers.

Akbar the Great is buried in a coffin of solid gold in a mausoleum
of exquisite beauty about six miles from Agra on the road to
Delhi. It is another architectural wonder. Many critics consider
it almost equal to Taj Mahal. It is reached by a lovely drive
along a splendid road that runs like a green aisle through a
grove of noble old trees whose boughs are inhabited by myriads
of parrots and monkeys. The mausoleum is quite different from
any other that we have seen, being a sort of pyramid of four open
platforms, standing on columns. These are of red sandstone and
the fourth, where rests the tomb of the great Mogul, of marble.
The lower stories are frescoed and decorated elaborately in blue
and gold. The fourth or highest platform is a beautiful little
cloister of the purest white. No description in words could possibly
do it justice or convey anything like an accurate idea of its
beauty. Imagine, if you can, a platform eighty feet from the
ground reached by beautiful stairways and inclosed by roofless
walls of the purest marble that was ever quarried. These walls
are divided into panels. Each panel contains a slab of marble
about an inch thick and perforated like the finest of lace. The
divisions and frame work, the base and frieze are chiseled with
embroidery in stone such as can be found nowhere else. There is
no roof but the sky. In the center of this lofty chamber stands
a solid block of marble which is covered with inscriptions from
the Koran in graceful, flowing Persian text. Sealed within a
cenotaph underneath are the remains of the great Akbar.

About three feet from his head stands a low marble column exquisitely
carved. It is about four feet high, and in the center of the
top is a defect, a rough hole, which seems to have been left
there intentionally. When the mighty Akbar died, his son and
successor, the Emperor Jehanghir, imbedded in the center of that
column, where it might be admired by the thousands of people who
came to the tomb every day, the Kohinoor, then the most valued
diamond in the world and still one of the most famous of jewels,
and chief ornament in the British crown. It was one of the most
audacious exhibitions of wealth and recklessness ever made, but
the stone remained there in the open air, guarded only by the
ordinary custodian of the tomb, from 1668 to 1739, when Nadir,
Shah of Persia, invaded India, captured Delhi, sacked the palaces
of the moguls, and carried back to his own country more than
$300,000,000 worth of their treasures.



Once upon a time there lived an Arab woman named Arjumand Banu.
We know very little about her, except that she lived in Agra,
India, and was the Sultana of Shah Jehan, the greatest of the
Mogul emperors. She must have been a good woman and a good wife,
because, after eighteen years of married life, and within twelve
months after his accession to the throne, in 1629, she died in
giving birth to her fourteenth baby. And her husband loved her so
much that he sheltered her grave with a mausoleum which, without
question or reservation, is pronounced by all architects and
critics to be the most beautiful building in the world--the most
sublime and perfect work of human hands.

[Illustration: THE TAJ MAHAL]

It is called the Taj Mahal, which means "The Crown of the Palaces,"
and is pronounced Taash Mahal, with the accent on the last syllable
of the last word. Its architect is not definitely known, but the
design is supposed to have been made by Ustad Isa, a Persian,
who was assisted by Geronino Verroneo, an Italian, and Austin de
Bordeaux, a Frenchman. They are credited with the mosaics and
other decorations. Austin designed and made the famous peacock
throne at Delhi. Governor La Fouche of that province, who has
carefully restored the park that surrounds the building, and is
keeping things up in a way that commands hearty commendation,
has the original plans and specifications, which were discovered
among the archives of the Moguls in Delhi after the mutiny of 1857.
The records show also that the tomb cost more than $20,000,000 of
American money, not including labor, for like those other famous
sepulchers, the pyramids of Egypt, this wonderful structure was
erected by forced labor, by unpaid workmen, who were drafted
from their shops and farms by order of the Mogul for that purpose,
and, according to the custom of the time, they were compelled to
support themselves as well as their families during the period
of their employment. Thousands of those poor, helpless creatures
died of starvation and exhaustion; thousands perished of disease,
and thousands more, including women and children, suffered untold
distress and agony, all because one loving husband desired to do
honor to the favorite among his many wives. The workmen were changed
at intervals, 20,000 being constantly employed for twenty-two
years upon this eulogy in marble. The descendants of some of
the artists engaged upon its matchless decoration still live in
Agra and enjoy a certain distinction because of their ancestry.
Forty or fifty of them were employed by Governor La Fouche in
making repairs and restorations in 1902, and a dozen or more
are still at work. It is customary in that country for sons to
follow the occupations of their fathers.

The road to the Taj Mahal from the City of Agra crosses the River
Jumna, winds about among modern bungalows in which British officials
and military officers reside, alternating with the ruins of ancient
palaces, tombs, temples and shrines which are allowed to deface
the landscape. Some of the fields are cultivated, and in December,
when we were there, the business of the farmers seemed chiefly
to be that of hoisting water from wells to irrigate their crops.
They have a curious method. A team of oxen hoists the buckets
with a long rope running over a pulley, and every time they make
a trip along the well-worn pathway they dump a barrel or more of
much needed moisture into a ditch that feeds the thirsty ground.

The roadway is well kept. It was made several centuries ago, and
was put in perfect order in 1902 on account of the Imperial durbar
at Delhi, which brought thousands of critical strangers to see the
Taj Mahal, which really is the greatest sight in India, and is
more famous than any other building, except perhaps Westminster
Abbey and St. Peter's Cathedral at Rome. The road leads up to a
superb gateway of red sandstone inlaid with inscriptions from
the Koran in white marble, and surmounted by twenty-six small
marble domes, Moorish kiosks, arches and pinnacles. This gateway
is considered one of the finest architectural monuments in all
India. Bayard Taylor pronounced it equal to the Taj itself.

You pass under a noble arch one hundred and forty feet high and
one hundred and ten feet wide, which is guarded by a group of
Moslem priests and a squad of native soldiers who protect the
property from vandals. Having passed this gateway you find yourself
at the top of a flight of wide steps overlooking a great garden,
which was originally laid out by the Mogul Shah Jehan and by Lord
Curzon's orders was restored last year as nearly as possible
to its original condition and appearance. About fifty acres are
inclosed by a high wall of a design appropriate to its purpose.
There are groups of cypress equal in size and beauty to any in
India; groves of orange and lemon trees, palms and pomegranates,
flowering plants and shrubs, through which winding walks of gravel
have been laid. From the steps of the gateway to the tomb is
a vista about a hundred feet wide paved with white and black
marble with tessellated designs, inclosed with walls of cypress
boughs. In the center are a series of tanks, or marble basins,
fed from fountains, and goldfish swim about in the limpid water.
This vista, of course, was intended to make the first view as
impressive as possible, and it is safe to say that there is no
other equal to it. At the other end of the marble-paved tunnel
of trees, against a cloudless sky, rises the most symmetrical,
the most perfect, perhaps the only faultless human structure in
existence. At first one is inclined to be a little bewildered,
a little dazed, as if the senses were paralyzed, and could not
adjust themselves to this "poem in marble," or "vision in marble,"
or "dream in marble," as poets and artists have rhapsodized over
it for four centuries.

No building has been more often described and sketched and painted
and photographed. For three hundred and fifty years it has appeared
as an illustration in the chapter on India in geographies, atlases
and gazetteers; it is used as a model in architectural text-books,
and of course is reproduced in every book that is written about
India. It has been modeled in gold, silver, alabaster, wax and
every other material that yields to the sculptor's will, yet no
counterfeit can ever give a satisfactory idea of its loveliness,
the purity of the material of which it is made, the perfection of
its proportions, the richness of its decorations and the exquisite
accuracy achieved by its builders. Some one has said that the
Moguls designed like giants and finished like jewelers, and that
epigram is emphasized in the Taj Mahal. Any portion of it, any
feature, if taken individually, would be enough to immortalize
the architect, for every part is equally perfect, equally chaste,
equally beautiful.

I shall not attempt to describe it. You can find descriptions
by great pens in many books. Sir Edwin Arnold has done it up
both in prose and poetry, and sprawled all over the dictionary
without conveying the faintest idea of its glories and loveliness.
It cannot be described. One might as well attempt to describe
a Beethoven symphony, for, if architecture be frozen music, as
some poet has said, the Taj Mahal is the supremest and sublimest
composition that human genius has produced. But, without using
architectural terms, or gushing any more about it, I will give
you a few plain facts.


The Taj Mahal stands, as I have already told you, at the bottom
of a lovely garden surrounded by groves of cypress trees, on the
bank of the River Jumna, opposite the great fortress of Agra,
where, from the windows of his palace, the king could always
see the snowwhite domes and minarets which cover the ashes of
his Arab wife. Its base is a marble terrace 400 feet square,
elevated eighteen feet above the level of the garden, with benches
arranged around so that one can sit and look and look and look
until its wonderful beauty soaks slowly into his consciousness;
until the soul is saturated. Rising from the terrace eighteen
feet is a marble pedestal or platform 313 feet square, each corner
being marked with a marble minaret 137 feet high; so slender,
so graceful, so delicate that you cannot conceive anything more
so. Within their walls are winding staircases by which one can
reach narrow balconies like those on lighthouses and look upon
the Taj from different heights and study its details from the top
as well as the bottom. The domes that crown these four minarets
are exact miniatures of that which covers the tomb.

On the east and on the west sides of the terrace are mosques built
after Byzantine designs of deep red sandstone, which accentuates
the purity of the marble of which the tomb is made in a most
effective manner. At any other place, with other surroundings,
these mosques would be regarded worthy of prolonged study and
unbounded admiration, but here they pass almost unnoticed. Like
the trees of the gardens and the river that flows at the foot
of the terrace, they are only an humble part of the frame which
incloses the great picture. They are intended to serve a purpose,
and they serve it well. In beauty they are surpassed only by
the tomb itself.

One of the mosques has recently been put in perfect repair and
the other is undergoing restoration, by order of Lord Curzon,
who believes that the architectural and archaeological monuments
of ancient India should be preserved and protected, and he is
spending considerable government money for that purpose. This
policy has been criticised by certain Christian missionaries,
who, like the iconoclasts of old, would tear down heathen temples
and desecrate heathen tombs. Many of the most beautiful examples
of ancient Hindu architecture have already been destroyed by
government authority, and the material of which they were built
has been utilized in the construction of barracks and fortresses.
You may not perhaps believe it, but there are still living in
India men who call themselves servants of the Lord, who would
erase every other monument that is in any way associated with
pagan worship or traditions. They would destroy even the Taj
Mahal itself, and then thank God for the opportunity of performing
such a barbarous act in His service.

Midway between the two red mosques rises a majestic pile of pure
white marble 186 feet square, with the corners cut off. It measures
eighty feet from its pedestal to its roof, and is surmounted
by a dome also eighty feet high, measuring from the roof, and
fifty-eight feet in diameter. Upon the summit of the dome is a
spire of gilded copper twenty-eight feet high, making the entire
structure 224 feet from the turf of the garden to the tip of
the spire. All of the domes are shaped like inverted turnips
after the Byzantine style. Four small ones surround the central
dome, exact duplicates and one-eighth of its size, and they are
arranged upon arches upon the flat roof of the building. From
each of the eight angles of the roof springs a delicate spire
or pinnacle, an exact duplicate of the great minarets in the
corners, each sixteen feet high, and they are so slender that
they look like alabaster pencils glistening in the sunshine.
The same duplication is carried out through the entire building.
The harmony is complete. Every tower, every dome, every arch, is
exactly like every other tower, dome and arch, differing only
in dimensions.

The building is entered on the north and south sides through
enormous pointed arches of perfect proportions reaching above
the roof and at each corner of the frames that inclose them is
another minaret, a miniature of the rest. Each of the six faces
of the remainder of the octagon is pierced by two similar arches,
one above the other, opening upon galleries which serve to break
the force of the sun, to moderate the heat and to subdue the
light. They form a sort of colonnade around the building above
and below, and are separated from the rotunda by screens of
perforated alabaster, as exquisite and delicate in design and
execution as Brussels point lace. The slabs of alabaster, 12 by
8 feet in size, are pierced with filigree work finely finished
as if they were intended to be worn as jewels upon the crown of
an empress. I am told that there is no stone work to compare
with this anywhere else on earth. Hence it was not in Athens, nor
in Rome, but in northern India that the chisel of the sculptor
attained its most perfect precision and achieved its greatest
triumphs. All of the light that reaches the interior is filtered
through this trellis work.

The rotunda is unbroken, fifty-eight feet in diameter and one
hundred and sixty feet from the floor to the apex of the dome.
Like every other part of the building, it is of the purest white
marble, inlaid with mosaics of precious stones. The walls, the
pillars, the wainscoting and the entire exterior as well as the
interior of the building are the same. You have doubtless seen
brooches, earrings, sleeve-buttons and other ornaments of Florentine
mosaic, with floral and other designs worked out with different
colored stones inlaid on black or white marble. You can buy paper
weights of that sort, and table tops which represent months of
labor and the most exact workmanship. They are very expensive
because of the skill and the time required to execute them. Well,
upon the walls of the tomb of the Princess Arjamand are about
two acres of surface covered with such mosaics as fine and as
perfect as if each setting were a jewel intended for a queen to
wear--turquoise, coral, garnet, carnelian, jasper, malachite,
agate, lapis lazuli, onyx, nacre, bloodstone, tourmaline, sardonyx
and a dozen other precious stones of different colors. The guide
book says that twenty-eight different varieties of stone, many of
them unknown to modern times, are inlaid in the walls of marble.

The most beautiful of these embellishments are inscriptions,
chiefly passages from the Koran and tributes of praise to "The
Exalted One of the Palace" who lies buried there, worked out
in Arabic and Persian characters, which are the most artistic
of any language, and lend themselves gracefully to decorative
purposes. The ninety-nine names of God, which pious Mussulmans
love to inscribe, appear in several places. Over the archway
of the entrance is an inscription in Persian characters which
reads like a paraphrase of the beatitudes:

"Only the Pure in Heart can Enter the Garden of God."

This arch was once inclosed by silver doors, which were carried
off by the Persians when they invaded India and sacked the palaces
of Agra in 1739.

There is no wood or metal in this building; not a nail or a screw
or a bolt of any sort. It is entirely of marble, mortised and
fastened with cement.

The acoustic properties of the rotunda are remarkable and a sound
uttered by a human voice will creep around its curves repeating
and repeating itself like the vibrations of the gongs of Burmese
temples, until it is lost in a whisper at the apex of the dome.
I should like to hear a violin there or a hymn softly sung by
some great artist.

In the center of the rotunda Shah Jehan and his beloved wife
are supposed to lie side by side in marble caskets, inlaid with
rich gems and embellished by infinite skill with lacelike tracery.
But their bodies are actually buried in the basement, and, the
guides assert, in coffins of solid gold. She for whom this tomb
was built occupies the center. Her lord and lover, because he
was a man and an emperor, was entitled to a larger sarcophagus,
a span loftier and a span longer. Both of the cenotaphs are
embellished with inlaid and carved Arabic inscriptions. Upon his,
in Persian characters, are written these words:

"His Majesty, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Shadow of Allah,
whose Court is now in Heaven; Saith Jesus, on whom be peace,
This World is a Bridge; Pass thou over it, Build not upon it!
It lasteth but an Hour; Devote its Minutes to thy Prayers; for
the Rest is Unseen and Unknown!"

No other person has such a tomb as this; nor pope, nor potentate,
nor emperor. Nowhere else have human pride and wealth and genius
struggled so successfully against the forgetfulness of man. The
Princess Arjamand has little place in history, but a devoted,
loving husband has rescued her name from oblivion, and has
immortalized her by making her dust the tenant of the most majestic
and beautiful of all human monuments.

Everybody admits that the Taj Mahal is the noblest tribute of
affection and the most perfect triumph of the architectural art
in existence, and the beautiful edifices in the fort at Agra,
which we also owe to Shah Jehan, the greatest of the Moguls,
have already been mentioned but I am conscious that my words
are weak. It is not possible to describe them accurately. No
pen can do them justice. The next best work in India, a group
of buildings second only to those in Agra, and in many respects
their equal, are credited to Akbar the Great, grandfather of
Shah Jehan. He reigned from 1556 to 1605. They may be found at
Fattehpur-Sikir (the City of Victory), twenty-two miles from
Agra on the Delhi road, occupying a rocky ridge, surrounded by
a stone wall with battlements and towers. The emperor intended
these palaces to be his summer residence, and was followed there
by many of the rich nobles of the court, who built mansions and
villas of corresponding size and splendor to gratify him and
their own vanity--but all its magnificence was wasted, strange
to say. The city was built and abandoned within fifty years.
Perhaps Akbar became tired of it, but the records tell us that
it was impossible to secure a water supply sufficient for the
requirements of the population and that the location was exceedingly
unhealthy because of malaria. Therefore the king and the court,
the officials of the government, with the clerks and servants,
the military garrison and the merchants who supplied their wants,
all packed up and moved away, most of them going back to Agra,
where they came from, leaving the glorious marble palaces without
tenants and allowing them to crumble and decay.

Abandoned cities and citadels are not unusual in India. I have
already told you of one near Jeypore where even a larger population
were compelled to desert their homes and business houses for
similar reasons--the lack of a sufficient water supply, and there
are several others in different parts of India. Some of them
are in a fair state of preservation, others are almost razed
to the ground, and their walls have been used as quarries for
building stone in the erection of other cities. But nowhere can
be found so grand, so costly and so extensive a group of empty
and useless palaces as at Fattehpur-Sikri.

The origin of the town, according to tradition, is quite interesting.
When Akbar was returning from one of his military campaigns he
camped at the foot of the hill and learned that a wise and holy
Brahmin named Shekh Selim Chishli, who resided in a cave among
the rocks, exercised powerful influence among the Hindu deities.
Akbar was a Mohammedan, but of liberal mind, and had not the
slightest compunction about consulting with a clergyman of another
denomination. This was the more natural because his favorite
wife was a Hindu princess, daughter of the Maharaja of Jeypore,
and she was extremely anxious to have a child. She had given
birth to twins some years previous, but to her deep grief and
that of the emperor, they had died in infancy.

The holy man on the hill at Fattehpur was believed to have tremendous
influence with those deities who control the coming of babies
into this great world; hence the emperor and his sultana visited
Shekh Selim in his rock retreat to solicit his interposition
for the birth of a son. Now, the hermit had a son only 6 months
old, who, the evening after the visit of the emperor, noticed
that his father's face wore a dejected expression. Having never
learned the use of his tongue, being but a few months old, this
precocious child naturally caused great astonishment when, by a
miracle, he sat up in his cradle and in language that an adult
would use inquired the cause of anxiety. The old man answered:

"It is written in the stars, oh, my son, that the emperor will
never have an heir unless some other man will sacrifice for him
the life of his own heir, and surely in this wicked and selfish
world no one is capable of such generosity and patriotism."

"If you will permit me, oh, my father," answered the baby, "I
will die in order that his majesty may be consoled."

The hermit explained that for such an act he could acquire unlimited
merit among the gods, whereupon the obliging infant straightened
its tiny limbs and expired. Some months after the sultana gave
birth to a boy, who afterward became the Emperor Jehanghir.

Akbar, of course, was gratified and to show his appreciation of
the services of the hermit decided to make the rocky ridge his
summer capital. He summoned to his aid all the architects and
artists and contractors in India, and a hundred thousand mechanics,
stone cutters, masons and decorators were kept busy for two scores
of years erecting the palaces, tombs and temples that now testify
with mute eloquence to the genius of the architects and builders
of those days. It is shown by the records that this enterprise
cost the taxpayers of India a hundred millions of dollars, and
that did not include the wages of the workmen, because most of
them were paid nothing. In those days almost everything in the
way of government public works was carried on by forced labor.
The king paid no wages. The material was expensive. Very little
wood was used. The buildings are almost entirely of pure white
marble and red sandstone. They had neither doors nor windows, but
only open arches which were hung with curtains to secure privacy,
and light was admitted to the interior through screens of marble,
perforated in beautiful designs. The entrance to the citadel is
gained through a gigantic gateway, one of the noblest portals
ever erected. It was intended as a triumphal arch to celebrate
the victory of Akbar over the Afghans, and to commemorate the
conquest of Khandesh, and this is recorded in exquisite Persian
characters upon its frontal and sides. Compared with it the arches
of Titus and Constantine in Rome and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
are clumsy piles of masonry. There is nothing to be compared
with it anywhere in Europe, and the only structure in India that
resembles it in any way may be found among the ruins in the
neighborhood of Delhi.


Through this majestic portal you enter a quadrangle about six
hundred feet square, inclosed by a lofty cloister which Bishop
Heber pronounced the finest that was ever erected. He declared
that there was no other quadrangle to be compared to it in size or
proportions or beauty. In the center of this wonderful inclosure
is a building that resembles a miniature temple. It is not large,
and its low roof and far projecting eaves give it the appearance
of a tropical bungalow. It is built of the purest marble. No other
material was used in its construction. There is not a nail or
a screw or an ounce of metal of any kind in its walls, and very
little cement or mortar was used. Each piece of stone fits the
others so perfectly that there was no need of bolts or anything
to hold it in place. It stands upon a pedestal four feet high and
is crowned with a low white dome of polished metal. The walls
of this wonderful building are pillars of marble inclosing panels
of the same material sawed in very thin slabs and perforated in
exquisite geometrical patterns. No two panels are alike; there
is no duplication of design on the pillars; every column is
different; every capital and every base is unique. We are told
that it was customary in the days of the Moguls to assign a section
of a building to an artist and allow him to exercise his skill
and genius without restriction, of course within certain limits.
Notwithstanding this diversity of design, the tomb of Shekh Selim,
of which I have attempted to give you an idea, is an ideal of
perfect harmony, and every stroke of the chisel was as precise
as if the artist had been engraving a cameo. It was erected by
Akbar and his Queen, Luquina, as a token of gratitude to the old
monk who brought them an heir to their throne, but, unfortunately
this heir was an ungrateful chap and treated his father and mother
very badly.

Another tomb of equal beauty but smaller dimensions, is also a
tribute of respect and affection. Under this marble roof lies
all that remains of that extraordinary baby who gave his life
to gratify the king.

Surrounding the quadrangle are the apartments of the emperor,
the residences of his wives and the offices in which he conducted
official business. They are all built of marble of design and
beauty similar to those within the walls of the fort at Agra.
One of them, known as the Hall of Records, is now used for the
accommodation of visitors because there is no hotel and very
little demand for one. The only people who ever go to Fattehpur
Sikri are tourists, and they take their own bedding and spread
it on the marble floor. It is a long journey, twenty-six miles
by carriage, and it is not possible to make it and return on
the same day.

The Imperial Hall of Audience, where Akbar was accustomed to
sit in his robes of state each day to receive the petitions and
administer justice to his subjects, is a splendid pavilion of red
sandstone with fifty-six columns covered with elaborate carving
in the Hindu style. Here he received ambassadors from all parts
of the earth because the glory of his court and the liberality of
his policy gave him universal reputation. Here Jesuit missionaries
gave him the seeds of the tobacco plant which they brought from
America, and within a few miles from this place was grown the
first tobacco ever produced in India. The hookah, the big tobacco
pipe, with a long tube and a bowl of perfumed water for the smoke
to pass through, is said to have been invented at Fattehpur Sikri
by one of Akbar's engineers.

Connected by a marble corridor with the palace, and also with the
Hall of Public Audience, is a smaller pavilion, where, according to
the custom of the times, the emperor was in the habit of receiving
and conferring with his ministers and other officials of his
government, with ambassadors and with strangers who sought his
presence from curiosity or business reasons. This diwani-khas,
or privy chamber, is pointed out as the place where the emperor
held his celebrated religious controversies. We are told that
for several years Jesuit missionaries were invited there and
encouraged to explain the dogmas and doctrines of their faith to
the nobles and the learned pundits of the Indian Empire, often
in the presence of the Mogul, who took part in the discussions.

When his majesty was tired of business and wanted relaxation
he ordered his servants to remove the silken rug and cushions
upon which he sat to a little marble portico on the other side of
the palace, where the pavement of the court was laid in alternate
squares of black and white marble. This was known as the imperial
puchisi board, and we are told that his majesty played a game
resembling chess with beautiful slave girls dressed in costume
to represent the men upon the board. Here he sat for hours with
his antagonists, and was so proud of his skill that expert puchisi
players from all parts of the empire were summoned to play with

At the other end of the inclosure is a large building known as
the mint, where the first rupees were coined. They were cubes of
gold, covered with artistic designs and with Persian inscriptions
reading "God is great. Mighty is His Glory." The largest coin was
called a "henseh" and was worth about $1,000 in our money. And
there were several other denominations, in the forms of cubes,
and they bore similar pious inscriptions.

The residences of the women of the court and the ministers and
other high officials were of corresponding splendor and beauty.
There is nothing on our side of the world or in Europe to compare
with them in beauty of design, costliness of material and lavishness
of decoration. The grandest palaces of the European capitals are
coarse and clumsy beside them, and the new library at Washington,
which we consider a model of architectural perfection, can be
compared to these gems of Hindu architects as cotton duck to
Brussels lace.

The palaces, temples and tombs in northern India are unequaled
examples of the architectural and decorative arts. Nothing more
beautiful or more costly has ever been built by human hands than
the residences and the sepulchers of the Moguls, while their
audience chambers, their baths and pavilions are not surpassed,
and are not even equaled in any of the imperial capitals of Europe.
The oriental artists and architects of the Mohammedan dynasties
lavished money upon their homes and tombs in the most generous
manner, and the refinement of their taste was equal to their
extravagance. And where do you suppose they obtained all the
money for these buildings, which cost millions upon millions
of dollars? The architectural remains of Akbar and Shah Jehan,
the two most splendid of the Moguls, represent an expenditure of
several hundred millions, even though the labor of construction
was unpaid, and where did they get the funds to pay for them?
Lieutenant Governor La Touche, who has been collecting the records
of the Mogul dynasty and having them carefully examined, discovers
that their revenues average about $100,000,000 a year for a hundred
years or more. In 1664 the land taxes amounted to L26,743,000,
in 1665 they amounted to L24,056,000, while in 1697, during the
reign of the Mogul Aurangzeb, they reached their highest figure,
which was L38,719,000. With these funds they were required to
keep up their palaces, pay their officials, maintain their armies
and provide for the luxurious tastes of their courtiers.



Wherever the viceroy may hold court, wherever the government
may sit, Delhi always has been and always will be the capital
of India, for have not the prophets foretold that the gilded
marble palaces of the Moguls will stand forever? Although Benares
and Lucknow have a larger population, Delhi is regarded as the
metropolis of Northern India, and in commerce and manufactures
stands fourth in the list of cities, Bombay, Calcutta and Madras
only surpassing it in wealth, industry and trade. If you will look
at the map for a moment you will notice its unusually favorable
location, both from a commercial and military standpoint. It
occupies a central place in northern India, has railway connections
with the frontier and is equidistant from Bombay and Calcutta,
the principal ports of the empire. It receives raw materials
from the northern provinces and from mysterious regions beyond
the boundary. Its cunning artisans convert them into finished
products and ship them to all the markets of the world. Being
of great strategic importance, a large military garrison is
maintained there, and the walls of an ancient fort shelter arsenals
filled with guns and magazines filled with ammunition, which
may be promptly distributed by railway throughout the empire
on demand. It is the capital of one of the richest and most
productive provinces, the headquarters of various departments of
the government, the residence of a large foreign colony, civil,
military and commercial; it has the most learned native pundits
in India; it has extensive missionary stations and educational
institutions, and is the center and focus of learning and all
forms of activity. It is a pity and a disgrace that Delhi has
no good hotels. There are two or three indifferent ones, badly
built and badly kept. They are about as good as the average in
India, but ought to be a great deal better, for if travelers could
find comfortable places to stop Delhi might be made a popular

Travelers complain also of the pestiferous peddlers who pursue
them beyond the limit of patience. We were advised by people who
know India not to buy anything until we reached Delhi, because
that city has the best shops and the best bazaars and produces
the most attractive fabrics, jewelry and other articles which
tourists like to take home to their friends. And we found within
a few moments after our appearance there that we would have no
difficulty in obtaining as many things as we wanted. We arrived
late at night, and when we opened the doors of our chambers the
next morning we found a crowd of clamoring merchants in the corridor
waiting to seize us as we came out. And wherever we went--in
temples, palaces, parks and in the streets--they followed us with
their wares tied up in bundles and slung over their backs. When
we drove out to "The Ridge," where the great battles took place
during the mutiny of 1857, to see a monument erected in memory
of the victims of Indian treachery, two enterprising merchants
followed us in a carriage and interrupted our meditations by
offering silks, embroideries and brass work at prices which they
said were 20 per cent lower than we would have to pay in the
city. When we went into the dining-room of the hotel we always
had to pass through a throng of these cormorants, who thrust
jewelry, ivory carvings, photographs, embroideries, cashmere
shawls, silks and other goods in our faces and begged us to buy
them. As we rode through the streets they actually ran at the
sides of the carriage, keeping pace with the horses until we
drove them off by brandishing parasols, umbrellas and similar
weapons of defense. We could not go to a mosque or the museum
without finding them lying in wait for us, until we became so
exasperated that homicide would have been justifiable. That is
the experience of every traveler, especially Americans, who are
supposed to be millionaires, and many of our fellow countrymen
spend their money so freely as to excite the avarice of the Delhi
tradesmen. And indeed it is true that their goods are the most
attractive, although their prices are higher than you have to
pay in the smaller towns of India, where there is less demand.

The principal business section, called Chandni Chauk, which means
Silver street, has been frequently described as one of the most
picturesque and fascinating streets in the world. It is about a
mile long and seventy-five feet broad. In the center are two rows
of trees, between which for several hundred years was an aqueduct,
but it is now filled and its banks are used as a pathway, the
principal promenade of the town. But a stranger cannot walk there
in peace, for within five minutes he is hemmed in and his way is
blocked by merchants, who rush out from the shops on both sides
with their hands filled with samples of goods and business cards
and in pigeon English entreat him to stop and see what they have
for sale. Sometimes it is amusing when rival merchants grapple
with each other in their frantic efforts to secure customers,
but such unwelcome attentions impair the pleasure of a visit to

The shops on both sides of the Chandni Chauk are full of wonderful
loom and metal work, jewelry, embroidery, enamel, rugs, hangings,
brocades, shawls, leather work, gems and carved ivory and wood.
Delhi has always been famous for carvings, and examples of engraving
on jade of priceless value are often shown. Sometimes a piece
of jade can be found in a curio shop covered with relief work
which represents the labor of an accomplished artist for years.
In the days of the Moguls these useless ornaments were very highly
regarded. Kings and rich nobles used to have engravers attached
to their households. Artists and their families were always sure
of a comfortable home and good living, hence time was no object.
It was not taken into consideration. They were indifferent whether
they spent five months or five years in fashioning a block of
ivory or engraving a gem for their princely patrons. The greatest
works of the most accomplished artists of the Mogul period are now
nearly all in the possession of native princes and rich Hindus,
and if one comes into the market it is snapped up instantly by
collectors in Europe and the United States. Some of the carved
ivory is marvelous. An artist would spend his entire life covering
a tusk of an elephant with carvings of marvelous delicacy and
skill; and even to-day the ivory carvers of Delhi produce wonderful
results and sell them at prices that are absurdly small, considering
the labor they represent.

Akbar the Great, who sat upon the Mogul throne the latter half
of the sixteenth century, was a sensible man, and endeavored to
direct the skill and taste of the artisans of his empire into
more practical channels. Instead of maintaining artists to carve
ivory and jade he established schools and workshops for the
instruction of spinners, weavers and embroiderers, and offered
high prices for fine samples of shawls and other woolen fabrics,
weapons, pottery and similar useful articles. He purchased the
rich products of the looms for the imperial wardrobe and induced
the native princes to imitate his example. He organized guilds
among his workmen, and secured the adoption of regulations which
served to maintain a high standard, and permitted none but perfect
products to be placed upon the market.

The descendants of the master workmen educated under this policy
are still living and following the trades of their ancestors in
Delhi, and there may be found the finest gold and silver cloth
and the most elaborate embroidery produced in the world. The
coronation robe of Queen Alexandra of England, which is said
to have been of surpassing richness and beauty, was woven and
embroidered in a factory upon the Chandni Chauk, and the merchant
who made it is constantly receiving orders from the different
courts of Europe and from the leading dressmakers of London,
Paris and Vienna. He told us that Mrs. Leland Stanford had
commissioned him to furnish the museum of her university in
California the finest possible samples of different styles of
Indian embroidery, and his workmen were then engaged in producing
them. Her contract, he said, amounted to more than $60,000. Lady
Curzon is his best customer, for she not only orders all of the
material for her state gowns from him, but has brought him enough
orders from the ladies of the British court to keep his shop
busy for five years. He told us that Lady Curzon designed the
coronation robe of Queen Alexandra; he declared that she had
the rarest taste of any woman he knew, and that she was the best
dressed woman in the world--an opinion shared by other good judges.

[Illustration: A CORNER IN DEHLI]

He spread upon the floor wonderful samples of the skill and taste
of his artists, brocades embroidered with jewels for the ceremonial
robes of native princes; silks and satins whose surface was concealed
by patterns wrought in gold and silver thread. And everything is
done by men. Women do not embroider in India. He keeps eighty
men embroiderers constantly employed, and pays them an average of
18 cents a day. The most famous of his artists, those who design
as well as execute the delicate and costly garnishings, the men
who made the coronation robe of the British queen, receive the
munificent compensation of 42 cents a day. That is the maximum
paid for such work. Apprentices who do the filling in and coarser
work and have not yet acquired sufficient skill and experience
to undertake more important tasks are paid 8 cents a day and
work twelve hours for that.

Delhi is the principal distributing point for the famous Cashmere
shawls which are woven of the hair of camels, goats and sheep
in the province of Cashmere, which lies to the northward about
300 miles. They are brought packed in panniers on the backs of
camels. I was told at Delhi that the foreign demand for Cashmere
shawls has almost entirely ceased, that a very few are shipped
from India nowadays because in Europe and America they are no
longer fashionable. Hence prices have gone down, the weavers
are dependent almost entirely upon the local market of India,
and one can obtain good shawls for very low prices--about half
what they formerly cost.

In northern India every Hindu must have a shawl; it is as necessary
to him as a hat or a pair of boots to a citizen of Chicago or New
York, and it is customary to invest a considerable part of the
family fortune in shawls. They are handed down from generation
to generation, for they never wear out; the older they are the
more valuable they are considered. You often see a barefooted,
bare-legged peasant with his head wrapped in a Cashmere shawl
that would bring a thousand dollars in a London auction-room.
It is considered absolutely essential for every young man to
wear one of those beautiful fabrics, and if there is none for
him in the family he saves his earnings and scrimps and borrows
and begs from his relations until he gets enough money together
to buy one. Most of the shawls are of the Persian pattern familiar
to us. The groundwork is a solid color (white and yellow seem to
be the most popular), and there are a good many of blue, green,
orange and pink. A crowd of Hindus in this part of the country
suggest a kaleidoscope as they move about with their brilliant
colored shawls upon their shoulders.

The amount and fineness of embroidery upon the border and in
the corners of shawls give them their value, and sometimes there
is an elaborate design in the center. The shawl itself is so
fine that it can be drawn through a finger ring or folded up
and stowed away in an ordinary pocket, but it has the warmth
of a Scotch blanket. Shawls are woven and embroidered in the
homes of the people of Cashmere, and are entirely of hand work.
There are no factories and no steam looms, and every stitch of
the decoration is made with an ordinary needle by the fingers
of a man. Women do not seem to have acquired the accomplishment.

A great deal of fun used to be made at the expense of Queen Victoria,
who was in the habit of sending a Cashmere shawl whenever she was
expected to make a wedding present, and no doubt it was rather
unusual for her to persist in forcing unfashionable garments
upon her friends. But there is another way of looking at it.
The good queen was deeply interested in promoting the native
industries of India, and bought a large number of shawls every
year from the best artists in Cashmere. Up there shawl-makers
have reputations like painters and orators with us, and if you
would ask the question in Cashmere any merchant would give you
the names of the most celebrated weavers and embroiderers. Queen
Victoria was their most regular and generous patron. She not
only purchased large numbers of shawls herself, but did her best
to bring them into fashion, both because she believed it was a
sensible practice, and would advance the prosperity of the heathen
subjects in whom she took such a deep interest.

The arts and industries of India are very old. Their methods
have been handed down from generation to generation, because
sons are in the habit of following the trades of fathers, and
they are inclined to cling to the same old patterns and the same
old processes, regardless of labor-saving devices and modern
fashions. Many people think this habit should be encouraged;
that what may be termed the classic designs of the Hindus cannot
be improved upon, and it is certainly true that all purely modern
work is inferior. Lord and Lady Curzon have shown deep interest
in this subject. Lord Curzon has used his official authority and
the influence of the government to revive, restore and promote
old native industries, and Lady Curzon has been an invaluable
commercial agent for the manufacturers of the higher class of
fabrics and art objects in India. She has made many of them
fashionable in Calcutta and other Indian cities and in London,
Paris and the capitals of Europe, and so great is her zeal that,
with all her cares and responsibilities, and the demands upon
her time, she always has the leisure to place orders for her
friends and even for strangers who address her, and to assist
the silk weavers, embroiderers and other artists to adapt their
designs and patterns and fabrics to the requirements of modern
fashions. She wears nothing but Indian stuffs herself, and there
is no better dressed woman in the world. She keeps several of
the best artists in India busy with orders from her friends, and
is beginning to see the results of her efforts in the revival
of arts that were almost forgotten.

The population of Delhi is about 208,000. The majority of the
people, as in the other cities of northwestern India, are
Mohammedans, descendants of the invaders of the middle ages, and
the hostility between them and the Brahmins is quite sharp. The
city is surrounded by a lofty wall six miles in circumference,
which was built by Shah Jehan, the greatest of the Moguls, some
time about 1630, and the modern town begins its history at that
date. It has been the scene of many exciting events since then.
Several times it has been sacked and its inhabitants massacred.
As late as 1739 the entire population was put to the sword and
everything of value within the walls was carried off by the Persians.
In the center of the city still remains a portion of what was
probably the most splendid palace that was ever erected. It is
surrounded by a second wall inclosing an area 3,000 feet long by
1,500 feet wide, which was at one time filled with buildings of
unique beauty and interest. They illustrated the imperial grandeur
of the Moguls, whose style of living was probably more splendid
than that of any monarchs of any nation before or since their
time. Their extravagance was unbounded. Their love of display
has never been surpassed, and while it is a question where they
obtained the enormous sums of money they squandered in ceremonies
and personal adornment, there is none as to the accuracy of the
descriptions given to them. The fact that Nadir Shah, the Persian
invader, was able to carry away $300,000,000 in booty of jewels
and gold, silver and other portable articles of value when he
sacked Delhi in 1739, is of itself evidence that the stories
of the wealth and the splendor of the Moguls are not fables.
It is written in the history of Persia that the people of that
empire were exempt from taxation for three years because their
king brought from Delhi enough money to pay all the expenses
of his government and his army during that time. We are told
that he stripped plates of gold from the walls of the palace
of Delhi and removed the ceilings from the apartments because
they were made of silver, and the peacock throne of itself was
of sufficient value to pay the debts of a nation.

A considerable part of the palaces of the Moguls has been destroyed
by vandals or removed by the British authorities in order to make
room for ugly brick buildings which are used as barracks and
for the storage of arms, ammunition and other military supplies.
It is doubtful whether they could have secured uglier designs and
carried them out with ruder workmanship. Writers upon Indian
history and architecture invariably devote a chapter to this
national disgrace for which the viceroys in the latter part of
the nineteenth century were responsible, and they denounce it as
even worse than the devastation committed by barbarian invaders.
"Nadir Shah, Ahmed Khan and the Maratha chiefs were content to strip
the buildings of their precious metals and the jeweled thrones,"
exclaims one eminent writer. "To the government of the present
Empress of India was left the last dregs of vandalism, which
after the mutiny pulled down these perfect monuments of Mogul art
to make room for the ugliest brick buildings from Simla to Ceylon.
The whole of the harem courts of the palace were swept off the
face of the earth to make way for a hideous British barrack,
without those who carried out this fearful piece of vandalism
thinking it even worth while to make a plan of what they were
destroying, or making any records of the most splendid palace
in the world. Of the public parts of the palace, all that remain
are the entrance hall, the Nobut Khana, the Dewani Aum, the Dewani
Khas and the Rung Mahal, now used as a mess room, and one or two
small pavilions. They are the gems of the palace, it is true,
but without the courts and corridors connecting them they lose
all their meaning and more than half their beauty. Being now
situated in the midst of a British barrack yard, they look like
precious stones torn from their settings in some exquisite piece
of oriental jeweler's work and set at random in a bed of the
commonest plaster."

It is only fair to say that no one appreciates this situation
more keenly than Lord Curzon, and while he is too discreet a
man to criticise the acts of his predecessors in office, he has
plans to restore the interior of the fort to something like its
original condition and has already taken steps to tear down the
ugly brick buildings that deface the landscape. But something
more is necessary. The vandalism still continues in a small way.
While we were being escorted through the beautiful buildings by
a blithe and gay young Irish soldier, I called his attention to
several spots in the wall where bits of precious stone--carnelian,
turquoise and agate--had been picked out and carried away as
relics. The wounds in the wall were recent. It was perfectly
apparent that the damage had been done that very day, but he
declared that there was no way to prevent it; that he was the
only custodian of the place; that there were no guards; that
it was impossible for him to be everywhere at once, and that
it was easy enough for tourists and other visitors to deface
the mosaics with their pocket knives in one of the palaces while
he was showing people through the others.

The mosaics which adorn the interior marble walls of the palaces
are considered incomparable. They are claimed to be the most
elaborate, the most costly and the most perfect specimens of the
art in existence. The designs represents flowers, foliage, fruits,
birds, beasts, fishes and reptiles, carried out with precious
stones in the pure white marble with the skill and delicacy of a
Neapolitan cameo cutter, and it is said that they were designed
and done by Austin de Bordeaux, the Frenchman who decorated the
Taj Mahal, and it was a bad man who did this beautiful work.
History says that "after defrauding several of the princes of
Europe by means of false gems, which he fabricated with great
skill, he sought refuge at the court of the Moguls, where he
was received with high favor and made his fortune."

The richest and the loveliest of the rooms in the palace is the
Diwan-i-Khas, or Hall of Private Audience, which is built entirely
of marble and originally had a silver ceiling. The walls were once
covered with gold, and in the center stood the famous peacock
throne. Over the north and south entrances are written in flowing
Persia, characters the following lines:

If there be a Paradise on Earth
It is This! It is This! It is This!

The building was a masterpiece of refined fancy and extravagance,
and upon its decorations Austin de Bordeaux, whose work on the Taj
Mahal pronounces him to be one of the greatest artists that ever
lived, concentrated the entire strength of his genius and lavished
the wealth of an empire. Mr. Tavernier, a French jeweler, who
visited Delhi a few years after the palace was finished, estimated
the value of the decorations of this one room at 27,000,000 francs.

One of the several thrones used by the Moguls on occasions of
ceremony was a stool eighteen inches high and four feet in diameter
chiseled out of a solid block of natural crystal. M. Tavernier
asserts that it was the largest piece of crystal ever discovered,
and that it was without a flaw. It was shattered by the barbarians
during the invasion of the Marathas in 1789. But the peacock
throne, which stood in the room I have just described, was even
more wonderful, and stands as the most extraordinary example
of extravagance on record.


A description written at the time says: "It was so called from its
having the figures of two peacocks standing behind it, their tails
being expanded, and the whole so inlaid with diamonds, sapphires,
rubies, emeralds, pearls and other precious stones of appropriate
colors as to represent life. The throne itself was six feet long
by five feet broad. It stood upon six massive feet, which, like
the body, were of solid gold, inlaid with rubies, emeralds and
diamonds. It was surrounded by a canopy of gold, supported by
twelve pillars, all richly emblazoned with costly gems, and a
fringe of pearls ornamented the borders of the canopy. Between
the two peacocks stood a figure of a parrot of the ordinary size
carved out of a single emerald. On either side of the throne
stood an umbrella, one of the emblems of royalty. They were formed
of crimson velvet, richly embroidered and fringed with pearls.
The handles were eight feet high, of solid gold thickly studded
with diamonds."

This throne, according to a medical gentleman named Bernier, the
writer whose description I have quoted, was planned and executed
under the direction of Austin de Bordeaux. It was carried away by
Nadir Shah to Teheran in 1739, and what is left of it is still
used by the Shah of Persia on ceremonial occasions. The canopy,
the umbrellas, the emerald parrot and the peacocks have long
ago disappeared.

The same splendor, in more or less degree, was maintained throughout
the entire palace during the reign of the Moguls. The apartments
of the emperor and those of his wives, the harem, the baths,
the public offices, the quarters for his ministers, secretaries
and attendants were all built of similar materials and decorated
in the same style of magnificence. Some of the buildings are
allowed to remain empty for the pleasures of tourists; others
are occupied for military purposes, and the Rung Mahal, one of
the most beautiful, formerly the residence of the Mogul's favorite
wife, is now used for a messroom by the officers of the garrison.
A writer of the seventh century who visited the place says: "It
was more beautiful than anything in the East that we know of."

At one end of the group of the buildings is the Moti Majid, or
Pearl Mosque, which answered to the private chapel of the Moguls,
and has been declared to be "the daintiest building in all India."
In grace, simplicity and perfect proportions it cannot be surpassed.
It is built of the purest marble, richly traced with carving.

It is within the walls of this fort and among these exquisite
palaces that the Imperial durbar was held on the 1st of January,
1903, to proclaim formally the coronation of King Edward VII.,
Emperor of India, and Lord Curzon, with remarkable success, carried
out his plan to make the occasion one of extraordinary splendor.
It brought together for the first time all of the native princes
of India, who, in the presence of each other, renewed their pledges
of loyalty and offered their homage to the throne. No spectacle
of greater pomp and splendor has ever been witnessed in Europe or
Asia or any other part of the world since the days of the Moguls.
The peacock throne could not be recovered for the occasion, but
Lord and Lady Curzon sat upon the platform where it formerly
stood, and there received the ruling chiefs, nobles and princes
from all the states and provinces of India. Lord Curzon has been
criticised severely in certain quarters for the "barbaric splendor
and barbaric extravagance of this celebration," but people familiar
with the political situation in India and the temper of the native
princes have not doubted for a moment the wisdom which inspired
it and the importance of its consequences. The oriental mind
is impressed more by splendor than by any other influence, and
has profound respect for ceremonials. The Emperor of India, by
the durbar, recognized those racial peculiarities, and not only
gratified them but made himself a real personality to the native
chiefs instead of an abstract proposition. It has given the British
power a position that it never held before; it swept away jealousies
and brought together ruling princes who had never seen each other
until then. It broke down what Lord Curzon calls "the water-tight
compartment system of India."

"Each province," he says, "each native state, is more or less
shut off by solid bulkheads from its neighbors. The spread of
railways and the relaxation of social restrictions are tending
to break them down, but they are still very strong. Princes who
live in the south have rarely ever in their lives seen or visited
the states of the north. Perhaps among the latter are chiefs who
have rarely ever left their homes. It cannot but be a good thing
that they should meet and get to know each other and exchange ideas.
To the East there is nothing strange, but something familiar and
even sacred," continued Lord Curzon, "in the practice that brings
sovereigns together with their people in ceremonies of solemnity.
Every sovereign in India did it in the old days; every chief in
India does it now; and the community of interest between the
sovereign and his people, to which such a function testifies and
which it serves to keep alive, is most vital and most important."

And the durbar demonstrated the wisdom of those who planned it. The
expense was quite large. The total disbursements by the government
were about $880,000, and it is probable that an equal amount
was expended by the princes and other people who participated.
That has been the subject of severe criticism also, because the
people were only slowly recovering from the effect of an awful
famine. But there is another point of view. Every farthing of
those funds was spent in India and represented wages paid to
workmen employed in making the preparations and carrying them
into effect. No money went out of the country. It all came out of
the pockets of the rich and was paid into the hands of the poor.
What the government and the native princes and nobles expended in
their splendid displays was paid to working people who needed
it, and by throwing this large amount into circulation the entire
country was benefited.

The extravagance of the Viceroy and Lady Curzon in their own
personal arrangements has also been criticised, and people complain
that they might have done great good with the immense sums expended
in dress and entertainment and display, but it is easy to construe
these criticisms into compliments, for everyone testifies that both
the viceroy and his beautiful American wife performed their parts
to perfection, and that no one could have appeared with greater
dignity and grace. Every detail of the affair was appropriate
and every item upon the programme was carried out precisely as
intended and desired. Lord and Lady Curzon have the personal
presence, the manners and all the other qualities required for
such occasions.

Dr. Francois Bernier, the French physician who visited the Mogul
court in 1658, and gives us a graphic description of the durbar
and Emperor Aurangzeb, who reigned at that time, writes: "The
king appeared upon his throne splendidly appareled. His vest was
of white satin, flowered and raised with a very fine embroidery
of gold and silk. His turban was of cloth of gold, having a fowl
wrought upon it like a heron, whose foot was covered with diamonds
of an ordinary bigness and price, with a great oriental topaz
which may be said to be matchless, shining like a little sun. A
collar of long pearls hung about his neck down to his stomach,
after the manner that some heathens wear their beads. His throne
was supported by six pillars of massive gold set with rubies,
emeralds and diamonds. Beneath the throne there appeared the
great nobles, in splendid apparel, standing upon a raised ground
covered with a canopy of purple with great golden fringes, and
inclosed by a silver balustrade. The pillars of the hall were
hung with tapestries of purple having the ground of gold, and for
the roof of the hall there was nothing but canopies of flowered
satin fastened with red silken cords that had big tufts of silk
mixed with the threads of gold hanging on them. Below there was
nothing to be seen but silken tapestries, very rich and of
extraordinary length and breadth."



Seven ancient ruined cities, representing successive periods
and dynasties from 2500 B. C. to 1600 A. D., encumber the plains
immediately surrounding the city of Delhi, within a radius of
eighteen or twenty miles; and you cannot go in any direction
without passing through the ruins of stupendous walls, ancient
fortifications and crumbling palaces, temples, mosques and tombs.
Tradition makes the original Delhi the political and commercial
rival of Babylon, Nineveh, Memphis and Thebes, but the modern
town dates from 1638, the commencement of the reign of the famous
Mogul Shah Jehan, of whom I have written so much in previous
chapters. About eleven miles from the city is a group of splendid
ruins, some of the most remarkable in the world, and a celebrated
tower known as the Kutab-Minar, one of the most important
architectural monuments in India. You reach it by the Great Trunk
Road of India, the most notable thoroughfare in the empire, which
has been the highway from the mountains and northern provinces
to the sacred River Ganges from the beginning of time, and,
notwithstanding the construction of railroads, is to-day the
great thoroughfare of Asia. If followed it will lead you through
Turkestan and Persia to Constantinople and Moscow. Over this
road came Tamerlane, the Tartar Napoleon, with his victorious
army, and Alexander the Great, and it has been trodden by the
feet of successive invaders for twenty or thirty centuries. To-day
it leads to the Khyber Pass, the only gateway between India and
Afghanistan, where the frontier is guarded by a tremendous force,
and no human being is allowed to go either way without permits
from the authorities of both governments. Long caravans still
cross the desert of middle Asia, enter and leave India through
this pass and follow the Grand Trunk Road to the cities of the
Ganges. It is always thronged with pilgrims and commerce; with
trains of bullock carts, caravans of camels and elephants, and
thousands of pedestrians pass every milestone daily. Kipling
describes them and the road in "Kim" in more graphic language
than flows through my typewriter. In the neighborhood of Delhi
the Grand Trunk Road is like the Appian Way of Rome, both sides
being lined with the mausoleums of kings, warriors and saints in
various stages of decay and dilapidation. And scattered among
them are the ruins of the palaces of supplanted dynasties which
appeared and vanished, arose and fell, one after another, in
smoke and blood; with the clash of steel, the cries of victory
and shrieks of despair.

In the center of the court of the ancient mosque of Kutbul Islam,
which was originally built for a Hindu temple in the tenth century,
stands a wrought-iron column, one of the most curious things
in India. It rises 23 feet 8 inches above the ground, and its
base, which is bulbous, is riveted to two stone slabs two feet
below the surface. Its diameter at the base is 16 feet 4 inches
and at the capital is 12 inches. It is a malleable forging of
pure iron, without alloy, and 7.66 specific gravity. According
to the estimates of engineers, it weighs about six tons, and it
is remarkable that the Hindus at that age could forge a bar of
iron larger and heavier than was ever forged in Europe until a
very recent date. Its history is deeply cut upon its surface in
Sanskrit letters. The inscription tells us that it is "The Arm
of Fame of Raja Dhava," who subdued a nation named the Vahlikas,
"and obtained, with his own arm, undivided sovereignty upon the
earth for a long period." No date is given, but the historians
fix its erection about the year 319 or 320 A. D. This is the
oldest and the most unique of all the many memorials in India,
and has been allowed to stand about 1,700 years undisturbed.
An old prophecy declared that Hindu sovereigns would rule as
long as the column stood, and when the empire was invaded in
1200 and Delhi became the capital of a Mohammedan empire, its
conqueror, Kutb-ud-Din (the Pole Star of the Faith), originally
a Turkish slave, defied it by allowing the pillar to remain,
but he converted the beautiful Hindu temple which surrounded
it into a Moslem mosque and ordered his muezzins to proclaim
the name of God and His prophet from its roof, and to call the
faithful to pray within its walls.

This Hindu temple, which was converted into a mosque, is still
unrivaled for its gigantic arches and for the graceful beauty
of the tracery which decorated its walls. Even in ruins it is
a magnificent structure, and Lord Curzon is to be thanked for
directing its partial restoration at government expense. The
architectural treasures of India are many, but there are none
to spare, and it is gratifying to find officials in authority
who appreciate the value of preserving those that remain for
the benefit of architectural and historical students. It it a
pity that the original Hindu carvings upon the columns cannot be
restored. There were originally not less than 1,200 columns, and
each was richly ornamented with peculiar Hindu decorative designs.
Some of them, in shadowy corners, are still almost perfect, but
unfortunately those which are most conspicuous were shamefully
defaced by the Mohammedan conquerors, and we must rely upon our
imaginations to picture them as they were in their original beauty.
The walls of the building are of purplish red standstone, of
very fine grain, almost as fine as marble, and age and exposure
seem to have hardened it.

In one corner of the court of this great mosque rises the Kutab
Minar, a monument and tower of victory. It is supposed to have
been originally started by the Hindus and completed by their
Mohammedan conquerors. Another tower, called the Alai-Minar, about
500 feet distant, remains unfinished, and rises only eighty-seven
feet from the ground. Had it been finished as intended, it would
have been 500 feet high, or nearly as lofty as the Washington
monument. According to the inscription, it was erected by Ala-din
Khiji, who reigned from 1296 to 1316, and remains as it stood at
his death. For some reason his successor never tried to complete

The Kutab Minar, the completed tower, is not only a notable structure
and one of the most perfect in the world, second only in height
to the Washington monument, but it is particularly notable for
its geometrical proportions. Its height, 238 feet, is exactly
five times the diameter of its base. It is divided into five
stories each tapering in perfect proportions and being divided
by projecting balconies or galleries. The first story, 95 feet
in height, consists of twenty-four faces in the form of convex
flutings, alternately semicircular and rectangular, built of
alternate courses of marble and red sandstone. The second story
is 51 feet high and the projections are all semicircular; the
third story is 41 feet and the projections are all rectangular;
the fourth, 26 feet high, is a plain cylinder, and the fifth or
top story, 25 feet high, is partly fluted and partly plain. The
mean diameter of each story is exactly one-fifth of its height,
and the material is alternate courses of marble and red sandstone,
the entire exterior surface being incrusted with inscriptions from
the Koran, sculptured in sharp relief. It has been compared for
beauty of design and perfection of proportions to the Campanile
at Florence, but that is conventional in every respect, while
the Kutab Minar is unique. The sculptures that cover its surface
have been compared to those upon the column of Trajan in Rome and
the Column Vendome in Paris, but they are intended to relate the
military triumphs of the men in whose honor they were erected, while
the inscription upon the Kutab Minar is a continuous recognition
of the power and glory of God and the virtues of Mahomet, His

Whichever way you look, whichever way you drive, in that
extraordinary place, you find artistic taste, the religious devotion,
the love of conquest and the military genius of the Mohammedans
combined and perpetuated in noble forms. The camel driver of
Mecca, like the founder of Christianity, was a teacher of peace
and an example of humility, but his followers have been famous
for their pride, their brilliant achievements, their audacity
and their martial violence and success. The fortresses scattered
over the plain bear testimony to their fighting qualities, and
are an expression of their authority and power; their gilded
palaces and jeweled thrones testify to their luxurious taste
and artistic sentiment, while the massive mausoleums which arise
in every direction testify to their pride and their determination
that posterity shall not forget their names. I have told you in
a previous chapter about the tomb of Humayun, the son of Baber
(the Lion of the Faith), who transmitted to a long line of Moguls
the blood of conquerors. But it is only one of several noble
examples of architecture and pretensions, and as evidence of
the human sympathies of the man who built it, the tomb of his
barber is near by.

About a mile across the plain is another group of still more
remarkable sepulchers, about seven or eight miles from Delhi.
They are surrounded by a grove of mighty trees, whose boughs
overhang a crumbling wall intended to protect them. As we passed
the portal we found ourselves looking upon a large reservoir,
or tank, as they call them here, which long ago was blessed by
Nizamu-Din, one of the holiest and most renowned of the Brahmin
saints, so that none who swims in it is ever drowned. A group of
wan and hungry-looking priests were standing there to receive
us; they live on backsheesh and sleep on the cold marble floors
of the tombs. No dinner bell ever rings for them. They depend
entirely upon charity, and send out their chelas, or disciples,
every morning to skirmish for food among the market men and people
in the neighborhood. While we stood talking to them a group of six
naked young men standing upon the cornice of a temple attracted
our attention by their violent gesticulations, and then, one
after another, plunged headlong, fifty or sixty feet, into the
waters of the pool. As they reappeared upon the surface they
swam to the marble steps of the pavilion, shook themselves dry
like dogs and extended their hands for backsheesh. It was an
entirely new and rather startling form of entertainment, but
we learned that it was their way of making a living, and that
they are the descendants of the famous men and women who occupy
the wonderful tombs, and are permitted to live among them and
collect backsheesh from visitors as they did from us. Several
women were hanging around, and half a dozen fierce-looking mullahs,
or Mohammedan priests, with their beards dyed a deep scarlet
because the prophet had red hair.

The most notable of the tombs, the "Hall of Sixty-four Pillars,"
is an exquisite structure of white marble, where rests Azizah Kokal
Tash, foster brother of the great Mogul Akbar. He was buried here
in 1623, and around him are the graves of his mother and eight
of his brothers and sisters. Another tomb of singular purity
and beauty is that of Muhammud Shah, who was Mogul from 1719
to 1748--the man whom Nadir Shah, the Persian, conquered and
despoiled. By his side lie two of his wives and several of his

The tomb of Jehanara, daughter of the great Emperor Shah Jehan,
is a gem of architecture, a dainty bungalow of pure white marble.
The roof is a low dome with broad eaves, and the walls are slabs
of thin marble perforated in geometric designs like the finest
lace. The inscription calls her "Heavenly Minded," and reminds us
that "God is the Resurrection and the Life;" that it was her wish
that nothing but grass might cover her dust, because "Such a pall
alone was fit for the lowly dead," and closes with a prayer for
the soul of her father. Notwithstanding her wishes, so expressed,
the tomb cost $300,000, but such sentiments, which appear upon
nearly all of the Mogul tombs, are not to be taken literally. The
inscription over the entrance to one of the grandest in India,
where lies "The Piercer of Battle Ranks," admits that "However
great and powerful man may be in the presence of his fellow
creatures; however wide his power and influence, and however
large his wealth, he is as humble and as worthless as the smallest
insect in the sight of God." Human nature was the same among the
Moguls as it is to-day, and the men who were able to spend a
million or half a million dollars upon their sepulchers could
afford to throw in a few expressions of humility.

panels of perforated marble_]

The most beautiful of the tombs is that of Amir Khusrau, a poet
who died at Delhi in 1315, the author of ninety-eight poems,
many of which are still in popular use. He was known as "the
Parrot of Hindustan," and enjoyed the confidence and patronage
of seven successive Moguls. His fame is immortal. Lines he wrote
are still recited nightly in the coffee-houses and sung in the
harems of India, and women and girls and sentimental young men
come daily to lay fresh flowers upon his tomb.

In the center of Delhi and on the highest eminence of the city
stands the Jumma Musjid, almost unrivaled among mosques. There
is nothing elsewhere outside of Constantinople that can compare
with it, either in size or splendor, and we are told that 10,000
workmen were employed upon it daily for six years. It was built by
Shah Jehan of red sandstone inlaid with white marble; is crowned
with three splendid domes of white marble striped with black,
and at each angle of the courtyard stands a gigantic minaret
composed of alternate stripes of marble and red sandstone. There
are three stately portals approached by flights of forty steps,
the lowest of which is 140 feet long. Through stately arches you
are led into a courtyard 450 feet square, inclosed by splendid
arcaded cloisters. In the center of the court is the usual fountain
basin, at which the worshipers perform their ablutions, and at
the eastern side, facing toward Mecca, at the summit of a flight
of marble steps, is the mosque, 260 feet long and 120 feet wide.
The central archway is eighty feet high.

Over in one corner of the cloisters is a reliquary guarded by
a squad of fierce-looking priests, which contains some of the
most precious relics of the prophet in existence. They have a
hair from his mustache, which is red; one of his slippers, the
print of his foot in a stone, two copies of portions of the
Koran--one of them written by his son-in-law, Imam Husain, very
clear and well preserved, and the other by his grandson, Imam
Hasan. Both are very beautiful specimens of chirography, and would
have a high value for that reason alone, but obtained especial
sanctity because of the tradition that both were written at the
dictation of the Prophet himself, and are among the oldest copies
of the Koran in existence.



The most interesting classes among the many kinds of priests,
monks and other people, who make religion a profession in India,
are the thugs, fakirs and nautch girls, who are supposed to devote
their lives and talents to the service of the gods. There are
several kinds of fakirs and other religious mendicants in India,
about five thousand in number, most of them being nomads, wandering
from city to city and temple to temple, dependent entirely upon
the charity of the faithful. They reward those who serve them
with various forms of blessings; give them advice concerning
all the affairs of life from the planting of their crops to the
training of their children. They claim supernatural powers to
confer good and invoke evil, and the curse of a fakir is the
last misfortune that an honest Hindu cares to bring upon himself,
for it means a failure of his harvests, the death of his cattle
by disease, sickness in his family and bad luck in everything
that he undertakes. Hence these holy men, who are familiars of the
gods, and are believed to spend most of their time communicating
with them in some mysterious way about the affairs of the world,
are able to command anything the people have to give, and nobody
would willingly cross their shadows or incur their displeasure.
The name is pronounced as if it were spelled "fah-keer."

These religious mendicants go almost naked, usually with nothing
but the smallest possible breech clout around their loins, which
the police require them to wear; they plaster their bodies with
mud, ashes and filth; they rub clay, gum and other substances
into their hair to give it an uncouth appearance. Sometimes they
wear their hair in long braids hanging down their backs like the
queue of a Chinaman; sometimes in short braids sticking out in
every direction like the wool of the pickaninnies down South.
Some of them have strings of beads around their necks, others
coils of rope round them. They never wear hats and usually carry
nothing but a small brass bowl, in imitation of Buddha, which
is the only property they possess on earth. They are usually
accompanied by a youthful disciple, called a "chela," a boy of
from 10 to 15 years of age, who will become a fakir himself unless
something occurs to change his career.

Many of the fakirs endeavor to make themselves look as hideous
as possible. They sometimes whitewash their faces like clowns
in circuses; paint lines upon their cheeks and draw marks under
their eyes to give them an inhuman appearance. At certain seasons
of the year they may clothe themselves in filthy rags for the
time being as an evidence of humility. Most of them are very
thin and spare of flesh, which is due to their long pilgrimages
and insufficient nourishment. They sleep wherever they happen
to be. They lie down on the roadside or beneath a column of a
temple, or under a cart, or in a stable. Sometimes kindly disposed
people give them beds, but they have no regular habits; they
sleep when they are sleepy, rest when they are tired and continue
their wanderings when they are refreshed.

About the time the people of the country are breakfasting in
the morning the chela starts out with the brass bowl and begs
from house to house until the bowl is filled with food, when he
returns to wherever his master is waiting for him and they share
its contents between them. Again at noon and again at night the
chela goes out on similar foraging expeditions and conducts the
commissary department in that way. The fakir himself is supposed
never to beg; the gods he worships are expected to take care of
him, and if they do not send him food he goes without it. It is
a popular delusion that fakirs will not accept alms from anyone
for any purpose, for I have considerable personal experience to
the contrary. I have offered money to hundreds of them and have
never yet had it refused. A fakir will snatch a penny as eagerly
as any beggar you ever saw, and if the coin you offer is smaller
than he expects or desires he will show his disapproval in an
unmistakable manner.

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