OBSERVATIONS ON THE SIKHS
(From the observations of Colonel Polier
and Mr. George Forster)
Having gone through the subject of the Powers, which bear the most
conspicuous and efficient parts in the Transactions of Hindostan,
or who were more immediately brought forward on the Theatre of the
last War, I will proceed to lay before you a cursory Description
of the Seicks and Afghans, nations who, from the remoteness of their
Situations, and, having no European connections, are hitherto but
partially known to us.
In my Route overland, I had an opportunity of procuring some sketches
of the History of the Seiks, which were reduced into a form, and
inserted in that collection of letters containing the relation of
my Journey to Jumboo with which you already have been furnished.+
Though the whole Relation, as it now stands, may not closely point
at the given object of this analisis, yet as it will prevent the
trouble of Reference, and the selection of matter difficult to extract,
and also appear more in order, I will with your permission subjoin
it in this Place.
Office Library (formerly India office Library) records Home
miscellaneous Series volume 6S5 (3). pp. 90-114.
||This evidently refers
to Letter XI given in the first volume of Forster's A Journey
from Bengal to England (London, 1798) pp. 253-95.
Extract of a letter from Mr. Forster to
Mr. Gregory at Lucknow, dated In Kachmere 1783.
"As several occasions have offered of introducing
the Seicks to your Notice, it will obviously enough occur
to you, that I should endeavor to give some description of this
new and extraordinary people.
"Now, my dear Sir, you will be pleased to know that I do
not possess a well grounded knowledge of the subject; I cannot
deduce, satisfactorily to myself their story from the period,
in which Nanock, the Institutor of their sect and their
Lawgiver, lived. Nor can I affix a date with a sufficient exactness
to the time of his existence.1
Neither can I follow them with necessary order, through the gradations
and progress which they have made until they arrived at their
present state of grandeur. You who are well apprized of the wretched
deficiency of Materials for the formation of Eastern History and
the irresistible tendency which our Eastern countrymen have to
fiction and the pleasing produce of fancy, will make for me every
indulgent allowance. One thing I will intreat of you to understand,
that if I should not insert the whole truth, which does not result
from the desire of suppressing facts, nothing but what you may
place a confidence in, will be introduced."
"Under the shelter of this protecting Preliminary,
I will proceed and inform you, that Nanock, the Founder
of the sect of the Seicks flourished about 300 years ago.2
The place of his birth does not seem to be fixed on, but it is
universally believed that he was interred at Amritsir:3 this Town
is situated at the head of the Punjab about 120 miles to the South
and by East of Jumboo, and in consequence of its being the burial
place4 of Nanock is become of great importance and the Seicks
hold it in the same degree of veneration and sanctity as Mecca
is behind by the Mussulman.
"Nanock - to whose name his Follower's
have added the appellation of Shaw which, be pleased to observe
is usually bestowed on Faquirs, appears to have been well qualified
|Guru Nanak, the founder
of Sikh religion, was a contemporary of the Lodhi Sultans of
of Delhi (1469-1526) and the first two Mughal Emperors of India
(1526-39). He was born in 1469 during the reign of the first
Lodhi Sultan Bahlol Khan (1450-88) and died in 1539 during the
time of Emperor Humayun (1530-39, 1555-56).
|In the year 1783, when
this letter was writte:n, it was 244 years that he had died
(1539), having lived for seventy years.
|Guru Nanak was born at
Talwandi Rai Bhoe, later known as Nankana Sahib, to the west
of Lahore, now in Pakistan. He was not interred at Arnritsar.
In fact, no Guru of the Sikhs died at Amritsar. Guru Nanak died
at a place called Kartarpur (now in Pakistan) on the left bank
of the river Ravi opposite to the town of Dera Baba Nanak in
the district of Gurdaspur.
|The importance of Arnritsar
is due not to its being the burial place of Guru Nanak but to
the Sikh (Golden) temple, called the Darbar Sahib, and other
Sikh historical associations. The town was founded by the fourth
Guru Ramdas in 1574, thirty-five, years after the death of Guru
Nanak. It may also be mentioned that the Sikhs do not bury their
dead but cremate them.
for the instituting and establishing a new Sect. It is said that he
was inflexibly just, that he was rigorously abstinent, and that he
possessed the most undaunted courage.
"When it is considered that the Worship of the Hindoos is,
at this day loaded with endless ceremonies and accompanied with
a ridiculous and a puerile Grimace, it will be allowed that the
tenets of the System which Nanock framed, are grounded on no unreasonable
Basis. The tenor and the grand purport of the Seick Religion pointedly
requires an abolition of the Worship of images. Their places of
Devotion are plain, and divested of every ornament and figure.
"Instead of the Intermediation of inferior Deities they are
ordered to address the Supreme Being, through the medium of Nanock
his favorite agent and Deputy. Though a very material difference
exists between the religious tenets of the Hindoos and those
of the Seicks, yet the groundwork of both exhibit strong features
of similarity. The Article indeed of receiving Proselytes, in the
Doctrine of the Seicks causes an essential deviation from the Hindoo
system. It totally overthrows those wonderful Barriers which were
constructed and affixed by Brimha,5
for the arrangement of the different ranks and Professions of his
People. When the Nation of the Seicks becomes sufficiently populous
and has acquired a competent stability, it is not improbable but
an alteration may take place in that tenet.
"They permit the growth of the hair of the head and beard,
they generally wear an Iron Bracelet on the left6
hand and the use of Tobacco is proscribed among them. Nanock, it
is said first published his Doctrine amongst the Mountains bordering
on the Northern Plains of Hindostan, and in that space which lies
between Shirhind and Lahor. He was there in a situation of more
security than had he dwelt in the open Country, and he had also
the advantage of being in the neighbourhood of an opulent and a
numerous people. No notice of consequence it would seem had been
taken of the Seicks until the reign of Acber, when that active
Prince in the course of his subduing the Hindoo Mountaineers, discovered
their Haunts and nearly extirpated them.7
"This Emperor, it is recorded, was so hostile to them, and
so determined on crushing the existence of their Sect, that he imposed
a Price on the head of every Seick.8
From that era to the period of Nadir Shaw's return from his Delhi
expedition, but few authenticated facts can be produced of the state;
of this People-When the Nadir's army were returning homewards laden
with spoil, and from their success and the general dread entertained
of them, regardless of regularity and discipline they were, fiercely
|The caste system of the
Hindus, evidently referred to by Forster, is ascribed to Manu,
the great law giver of the ancient Hindus, and was not introduced
|The iron bracelet, called
Kara, is not necessarily worn on the left wrist. It may be worn
on any wrist, though it is generally worn on the right.
|Emperor Akbar was not
hostile to the Sikh Gurus at all. In fact, he was friendly to
|It was Emperor Bahadur
Shah I (1707-12, son of Aurangzeb) during whose reign the Sikhs
were actively persecuted and a royal edict was issued on the
29th of Shawwal in the 4th regal year, December 10, 1710, to
kill the disciples of Nanak (the Sikhs) wherever they were found
-- 'Nanak-praston ra har ja kih ba-yaband ba-qatl rasanand'.
This order was repeated during the time of Emperor Farrukh-Siyar,
and "to give effect to this mandate, a reward," according
to Malcolm, "was offered for the head of every Sikh."
(Sketch of the Sikhs, 85; Miltah-ut-Tawarikh, 398; M'Gregor,
History of the Sikhs, i. 113)
by the Seicks who routed their rear and stripped them of great part
of their plunder. Towards the latter end of Mahomed Shaw's reign and
the beginning of that of his Successor, when the charm, which since
Tamerlane's conquest of Hindostan, had bound together that extensive
and Grand Empire, and had proclaimed it invincible throughout Asia
was broken, and it may be said, wholly dissolved, the Seicks
rushed out of their fortresses where they had been patiently waiting
for the occasion and seized on or ravaged the greatest part of the
"After various struggles with the Mussulmen, the Seicks possessed
themselves of Sirhind, Lahor and Moultan, but they were attacked
and driven out of a great part of their new acquisitions by the
Afghans under their famous Chief Abdullah,+9
who was afterwards more generally known in India and Afghanistan
by the name of Ahmed Shaw. This Prince affected great indignation
at the Seicks presuming to occupy the Imperial Palace of Lahor,
and that the supposed pollution might be wiped away, on his retaking
that city, it is said he caused many of the Seicks to be put to
death, and ordered that the facing and the steps of the great reservoir
of water should be washed with their blood. The Seicks by making
some extraordinary and well timed efforts in their turn drove the
Afghans out of that part of Hindostan and that they might exhibit
an Example of forbearance to their enemies and a restraint of the
Power of revenge, the warmest passion in the breast of an Asiatic,
and yet that they might not seem insensible of the injury, which
had been offered to them, poured the blood of swine in those places
which the Afghans had washed with that of theirs'. In a war which
the Seicks had with Timur Shaw, the present Afghan Emperor, they
lost the Province of Moultan, which, contrary to the general character
of the Seicks, for Military ability, was given up with scarcely
"This instance of such unusual Remissness in them seems to
me very inexplicable, unless it was occasioned by their internal
"The Government of the Seicks, if any fixed denomination can
be applied to it, may be termed Aristocratical. Their Chiefs are
numerous and wholly independent of each other. They eventually act
in concert with, and in opposition to their own Body, as in the
case of Mhah Singh who has succoured the Rajah of Jumboo against
the Seick Chief who invaded that Country.11
|So denominated from a
Persian Compound, meaning five Rivers or Waters which intersect
this Country. (Forster)
|or Ahmed Khan. (Forster)
|Ahmad Shah Durrani (1722-72).
|In the winter of 1778-79,
Sardar Ganda Singh Bhangi was embroiled with other chiefs and
could not personally look to the defence of Multan which was
surrendered by a lieutenant of his after a show of resistance.
Cunningham, History of the Sikhs, 123.
|This refers to the struggle
between Sardar Maha Singh Sukkarchakkia and Sardar Jai Singh
Kanhaiya in 1783, when Surbakhsh Singh, son the Kanhaiya Sardar,
was killed in a battle near Batala. Latif, History 01 the
"From the observations which I have made of the Seicks they
would appear to be a haughty and a high spirited people. Once I
travelled in the company of a Seick Horseman for some days, and
though I made to him several tenders of my acquaintance, he treated
them all with great reserve, and a covered sort of disdain. There
was no reason to be particularly offended at his hauteur towards
me, for he regarded every other Person in the same manner. His answer,
when I asked him very respectfully in whose service he was retained,
seemed strikingly characteristic of what I conceive to be the disposition
of the Nation. He said, in a tone of voice and with a countenance
which glowed with and was keenly animated by the warm Spirit of
Liberty and independence, that he disclaimed an earthly Master,
and that he was the servant only of his Prophet.
"The Seicks, it is asserted, believe, tho they do not loudly
insist on it, that Nanock is an Incarnation of Vishnow,*12
which the Hindoo Prophecies have foretold, is yet to exist and is
to be the last one.
"The force of the Seicks may be said to wholly consist in Cavalry,
they have in their army some Artillery, but it is so aukwardly managed
and so ill attended to, that little benefit is derived from it.
A Seick Horseman is armed with a Matchlock and a sabre, both in
their kind, excellent. In this matter I speak from a real knowledge,
for in the course of my travels, I had twice an opportunity of meeting
with their Parties, each of which might consist of 200 men. The
Horses were better than any I had ever seen either amongst the Hindoo
or Mussulman Troops in the Eastern parts of India. The men were
well clothed, chiefly in white Iamahs+,
and their arms, together with their accoutrements, which consisted
of priming horns and Ammunition Pouches, were in good order. The
latter were mostly covered with our scarlet cloth and ornamented
with gold lace.
"From the great predilection which the Seicks have for fire
arms, and the constant use which they make of them, their mode of
attack and defence, is different from that of any other Cavalry
"A party from thirty to forty and fifty will advance on a
gallop close up to the enemy and previously to the giving their
Fire that they may do it with the greater certainty they draw in
their Horses, at the performance of which Manoeuvre, the animal
is so thoroughly trained, that most of them, on receiving a gentle
stroke on the neck, will stop on the full career. Immediately on
their pieces being discharged, they retreat about 100 paces, load,
and repeat the same mode of annoying the enemy.
"It is not from this peculiarity in their discipline that
the Seicks have made themselves formidable.
"This in my opinion is a great defect in their army. and if
they persist in a continuance of it to the entire exclusion of Artillery,
it may yet be a long space of time, ere they are enabled to drive
the Afghans out of Hindostan, or extinguish the remains of the Mogul
Government. Both which objects they entertain sanguine hopes of
|The Supreme Being of
the Hindoos. (Forster)
|There is no such belief
recognized or commonly current among the Sikhs.
|A Long Callico Gown.
accomplishing, and in the probable evolution of the fate of Empires,
this event may be expected.
"The success and Conquests of the Seicks have principally
arisen from their unparalelled activity and the endurance of an
almost incredible fatigue. These Constitutional Endowments they
derive from an invariable Exercise of every species of temperance
which gives them powerfull advantages over the debauched and debilitated
"A Body of Seick Troops has been known to make daily marches
of 40 miles; and this exertion has not been confined to a single
operation, which would not be remarkable, but it has been continued
for many days.
"In 1782 the Territories of the Seicks, which towards the
limits are often varying, were bounded on the north by the grand
chain of mountains, which extend in a curved line across the Head
of the Punjab; on the East by the Possessions of the Emperor, and
his officers, which take in the Districts of Panipet and Kamal ;
on the south-East by the Country of the Jauts, which was conquered
by Najjif Khan and still continues annexed to the remains of the
Empire, and on the South by Moultan; and the West and North-West
by the Indus, and the Districts of Attock, which are now under the
Dominions of the Afghans.
"From their being possessed of an ample, and a fertile Territory,
and being when not occupied in Military service, much attached to
the Business of Agriculture, and well skilled in it, it must be
supposed that the revenues of the Seicks are very considerable,
tho it would be presumptuous in me to attempt at ascertaining the
"The Subah of Lahor in the Reign of Aurungzebe produced the
annual revenue to Government according to Mr. Bernier of 246 Lacks
and 95 thousand Rupees; and from the general character of the Seicks
for their knowledge in the cultivation of Lands, I should imagine
that there had been no decrease in the Reyenue, since the country
has been in their possession.
"Their Military Force also must be great, but I am as little
enabled to reduce that point to any certainty as to fix the amount
of their Revenue.
"A Seick will say that his Country can furnish 4, or 500,000
Horsemen, and to authenticate his story, he tells you, that every
person, even in the possession of a trifling property keeps a Horse,
Matchlock and Side Arms. In which case, and if we can believe that
they can produce when in unity 200,000 Horse, their Force in Cavalry
must be greater, than that of any power now existing in Hindostan.
"The Seicks have taken possession of all the country of Zabeta
Khan, and have left to him little more than Ghous Gheer his
principal town and fort.
"This weak Chief in every thing the reverse of his Father,
thought to obtain the protection of the Seicks, by becoming one
of their Sect. He has been grievously disappointed, for when I was
in that neighbourhood his Fort was beseiged by the Seicks, and he
had been obliged to call in a Body of Mercenaries to his assistance.
The name which he had assumed in consequence of his Conversion was
Nemez Sing,13 the first
||In fact, Zabita Khan
had taken the name of Dharam (Durm) Singh as stated by Forster
himself. A Journey from Bengal to England. i. 282, footnote.
The word Nemez is Namar, meaning Muslim prayer. A pious Muslim
who recites his prayers regularly is generally known as Namazi
part of which is evidently in Allusion to his former profession of
"The Seicks do not seem to be at all rigorous in their requisitions
from Mussulmen Proselytes, who, if they abstain from eating Beef
Flesh, which is held in as much Abhorrence by the Seicks as by the
Hindoos, they are indulged in every other article.
"The Nation of the Seicks may be said to have wholly sprung
from Hindoo Converts, not but many Mussulmen have been admitted
amongst them, yet they constitute a small portion of the whole People
and are immediately distinguished from the Hindoo Seicks, as well
in the difference of Manner, as in the dissimilarity of Features.
"The Word Seick is I apprehend a Corruption of Sing,14
which signifies in the Hindoo Language a Lion, and which Title is
given to every Seick, in the same Manner as the Khan is taken by
the Afghans and Patans. This supposition I have been the farther
induced to make from having observed, that by many of the Mussulmen,
and likewise amongst themselves, they are denominated Seicks and
In this Account, which may I be allowed to say has a reasonable
claim to authenticity you will see that the Seicks are a very respectable
People, and when united in a common Cause must be powerful and formidable.
They generally in their predatory Excursions into the Countries
of the neighbouring Hindoo Rajahs act as may be correspondent with
their respective views, and are often seen engaged in opposite alliances,
and in Hostilities with each other. But when incited by any grand
national Concern, their Chiefs became confederated, and their Armies
The Seick Forces were wholly united, during the War which they
carried on against the Afghans, whom they ultimately drove out of
the Punjab, and have maintained, firm possession of it since that
In the beginning of the Year 1783 a considerable Body of Seicks
came thro the Territories of Zabita Khan who as I have before noticed
is become a Dependant on them, and approached the Ganges, where
it forms the Western limit of Rohil Cund, with the design of crossing
the River and invading the Possessions of the Vizier. At that time
I happened to be travelling through Rohil Cund, and was a Witness
of the disorder and general Terror which prevailed amongst the Inhabitants,
many of whom, quitting the open Towns and Villages retired into
Forts and Places inaccessible to Cavalry.
The Seicks perceiving the difficulty and danger of passing a River
in the face of an Enemy, for the Vizier's Troops had been drawn
together and stationed on the Eastern Bank of the Ganges to oppose
their crossing, retired into their own Country. This fact has been
adduced to show that the Seicks did command an undisturbed Passage
||The word Seick
(Sikh) is not a corruption of Sing. It is, in fact, the Panjabi
(Prakrit) form of Sanskrit Shishya which means a disciple.
The surname Singh (lion) Was taken by the Sikhs when Guru Gobind
Singh instituted the order of the Khalsa in 1699 after which
all Sikhs who received baptism and undertook to follow the discipline
of the Khalsa were known as Singhs.
borders of the Vizier's Territories, without any effectual opposition
being made, either by Zabita Khan, or the Emperor's Officers.
The rapid progress which Scindia has lately made in the Northern
Quarter of India, and the ascendancy which he has thereby gained
in the Government of Delhi and Agra, must soon place him in the
Situation of becoming an avowed opponent of the Seicks, and in the
course of events will throw him between that Nation and the Vizier,
to whom, from the reason before stated in the sketch of Scindia
this Chief will become a more secure Barrier, than that which has
Little more remains to be said of the Seicks, than when they shall
find themselves checked in their views by the power of Scindia on
the East side of their Dominions (if he continues in prosecuting
the object which has now engaged him) that they will, it maybe concluded,
turn their attention towards the Afghans, their declared Enemies,
who still hold valuable and extensive Possessions in Hindostan.
The Afghans are the indigenous Possessors of that Tract of Country
which extends from the Indus to the Confines of the Province of
Chorason in Persia, and stretches in a Southern Direction from the
Mountains of Tartary to the Sea Coast. Nadir Shaw in his March into
Hindostan was detained a considerable time (it is said a Year) in
reducing the famous Fortress of Kundahar, and in forcing a passage
through Afghanistan. Nor had he accomplished this Service, so effectually,
without the Assistance of a large Body of Afghans, who were brought
over to espouse his Cause, at the Instance of one of their principal
Chiefs, then known by the Name of Abdallah or Ahmed Khan and afterwards
in consequence of the Empire which he founded, distinguished by
the Title of Ahmed Shaw.
Immediately on the event of the death of Nadir, which happened
in 1748, this Afghan officer withdrawing his Forces from the Persian
Army returned into his own Country, and supported by a veteran Army
and a strong family Influence, he became enabled to proclaim himself
Master of all the Afghan Territories. After having fully established
his Authority, he penetrated into India, and there making important
conquests and meeting with various Success, as has been mentioned
in the Sketch on the Seicks, Ahmed Shaw returned into his own Dominions,
and died about fourteen Years ago,15
at the new City of Kundahar, which he himself built, and had designed
to be the Capital of his Country.
Ahmed Shaw was succeeded by his eldest Son Timur, who has chosen
Cabul as his place of Residence, and has made, I think two Expeditions
into India, where on the Issue of an obstinate Contention with the
Seicks, this Prince retained the Possession of the little Kingdom
of Kachmire, the Town Districts of Attock, together with the Province
of Moultan, including in it the Territories of Scinde.
||Ahmad Shah Durrani died
at Toba Maruf in the Suleman hills on the night of October 16-17,
1772, and was carried to and burried at Kandahar.
Khahmire is governed on behalf of the Emperor, by an Afghan officer,
who, on the remitting a Peshcush16
of Seven Lacks of Rupees to the Treasury, is permitted to exercise
a Sovereign Authority there, and who indeed, from the peculiar situation
of this principality, it being walled in by a Circle of lofty Mountains
and its remote distance from the Seat of Empire, from which also,
it is divided by the Indus a River of a most difficult Passage, with
reason deems himself a very independant chief, and does not seem to
be in any wise affected by the operation of any Power in India.
The Surdar of Attock, an Hindostan Mussulman, is a Tributary of
Timur Shaw, and is assessed the annual Sum of 50,000 Rupees, which
is collected, or not, as the Motions of the Shaw's Army may be directed;
and the Territory of Scind, laying to the Southward of Attock, were,
while I was in the neighbourhood of that Country, in a Manner dismembered
from the Afghan Empire, no Revenue having been remitted to Cabul
for two years or any Measure adopted to reduce it to obedience.
The Chief of Moultan confiding in his local advantages, and presuming
on the indolent Administration of the present Shaw who now evinces
no Mark of an enterprizing disposition, and whose time is chiefly
passed in the Haram, has assumed a great degree of Independence,
and shows only such observance to the orders sent from Cabul as
may be correspondent with his own Conveniency. This Province, which,
in the grand division of the Mogul Empire includes also Scind produced
in the reign of Aurung-Zebe, according to Mr. Bernier, a Revenue
of 118 Lacs of Rupees, which at this day is diminished to more than
half of that Amount.
In this outline you will perceive that the Afghan Dominion in India
is not founded on either a flourishing or a firm Basis, and that
under the Aluspices of Timur Shaw, there is little reason to expect
that it will be extended or that from it he will derive any considerable
Influence in the Affairs of Hindostan.
It has been often rumoured at the Court of Delhi, and the Report
has also prevailed in our parts of India, that Timur is determinately
bent on crossing the Indus with a large Army for the purpose of
securely establishing the present Mogul Family on the, Throne, and
investing it with the Powers, of which it has been so long deprived.
But this is an idle tale calculated merely to raise the Spirits
of a drooping Court, or to amuse the News Mongers of the Bezar-and
so distant from the truth that, instead of being in a Condition
to undertake Foreign Expeditions, this Prince seems afraid of quitting
his Capital and seldom even leaves his Palace.*
Thus Sir, to the utmost of my abilities, and with a scrupulous
adherence to the Spirit of the Facts which have presented themselves,
and which I have carefully avoided
||Peshkash, a tribute
|In 1783 when I was at
Caboul, there was a general Outcry against the Shaw by the Soldiery
for his not having issued any Payment to his Army for upwards
of two Years; and I likewise learned that since the Year 80,
when he had made a Journey to the City of Peshour. which he
usually did in the Winter to avoid the Colds of Caboul. and
was there nearly cut off by a strong disaffected Party, he had
Dot shown any Inclination of moving out of his Capital.
to discolour or warp by any prejudice or political Bias, have I discussed
the Subject, which you were pleased to intrust to my Investigation,
and I shall receive a very high sense of pleasure, should my Mite
have added to your store of Information, or in any degree facilitated
the important Service in which you are engaged. But, Sir, permit me
to observe, that with every precaution which foresight or sound Judgement
is capable of exercising, and aided by the most wise and salutary
Regulations for the strengthening and directing any System of Government
in India, yet it will be oftentimes strongly agitated by effects arising
from foreign Alliances and Connections.
From the reasons which I have been induced to point out, it is
shown that Madajee Scindia who is drawn to us by the attraction
of self interest, may, with a provident attention become a powerful
and a valuable Ally, particularly for the purpose of influencing
the Poonah Councils in their Operations against Tippoo Sultan, or
checking the Behar Rajah in any hostile views on our Bengal Possessions
yet this Tenure is now held on the Life and Fortunes of one Man
for Scindia has no heir to his Dominions, and were he now to die,
they are not so firmly consolidated nor have they been so long in
his Possession, as to ensure their devolving on any nominated Successor.
The Existence of States in Hindostan must ever rest on precarious
and unsubstantial Grounds, having no fixed Principle for their Support,
or established Ordinances for the Security of the People, and where
the Rulers of them are subject to be cut off on every occasion,
when the Passions of Ambition or Revenge can with the hope of success
When you consider, Sir, the grand Revolutions which have taken
place in that quarter of the World, even within no wide Compass
of time, and deserve the depressed reverse of Fortune which the
Mogul Empire has undergone, you must testify a wonder mingled with
an Awe, and as a Man you must feel a humiliating Mortification.
In the Year 1707 when Aurung-Zebe died, it may be said without
any violation of the truth, that Hindostan,*
whether for its Military Resource, its Wealth or Magnitude, was
the most distinguished Empire in the World; and at that period,
it is to be noted that the English were known, only on the Sea Coasts
of that Country and occupied, under many restrictions, merely the
Profession of Merchants.
Permit me for a Moment to direct your attention to the view, which
at this day is exhibited at Delhi, where you will see the heir of
the Grandson of Aurung-Zebe, from the decline of the fortunes of
his House, reduced to such urgent distress, as to solicit in the
Country, so lately under the dominion of his Ancestors, a Maintenance
from an English Subject.
Pardon this Digression which I have been led into by the desire
of holding up to you so lively an Image of the Instability and rapid
Declension of this Eastern Empire, and I
|This Empire was bounded
on the North by the Mountains of Tartary, on the West by the
Territories of Kandahar, on the South by the Indian Ocean, and
on the East, by the Kingdoms of Arcan and Ava; Forrnina in length,
reckoning from Cabul to Cape Comerin a space of ] 800 Miles,
and in its extreme breadth 1600 Miles, and producing, according
to Mr. Bernier a Revenue of 20 Millions Stellina.
will now wholly close this Analysis, with expressing an unfeigned
wish, that the Measures which have been adopted for the Regulation
of our Government in India, may be successful and permanent, and
that the Effects arising from wise and Vigorous Councils may be
With the greatest respect
Your most obliged Servant
Charlotte StreetPortland Place
9th June 1785.
(Signed) GEORGE FORSTER