1802-1874 Lutfullah.

Autobiography of Lutfullah, a Mohammedan gentleman : and his translations with his fellow-creatures : interspersed with remarks on the habits, customs, and character of the people with whom he had to deal online

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Online Library1802-1874 LutfullahAutobiography of Lutfullah, a Mohammedan gentleman : and his translations with his fellow-creatures : interspersed with remarks on the habits, customs, and character of the people with whom he had to deal → online text (page 10 of 27)
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obtained a full view of the incomparable wife of his
poor neighbour, conceived a passion for her, and to
this degree that, having lost the command of his
heart, he impatiently watched an opportunity to
seduce her. He tried every means to accomplish
his criminal desire, but invariably failed ; for a mind
once properly fortified with virtue can never be



THE JEW. 147

conquered by vice. The poor veteran, being without
employment for a long time, had been so overtaken
by indigence, that he and his wife actually starved
sometimes for two or three days. The pangs of
poverty at last being insufferable, the wife suggested
a plan to the husband of bettering themselves, telling
him that idling was the source of all miseries ; and
he must therefore buy a hatchet and ropes, and,
repairing daily to the forest, bring a bundle of fire-
wood, which certainly would sell for something. On
the other hand, she would take to her needle, and
thus they would try to make themselves as comfort-
able as possible in the world.

The man approved of her suggestion ; but said he
to her, in a submissive tone, " I extol your plan
highly, but I find it even difficult to procure the
preliminary means to begin. At least a hundred
dirhams are needed to purchase some linen and silk
for your needle, and a hatchet and rope for me."
To this the wife replied that the sum might easily be
borrowed, and the Hebrew neighbour would certainly
lend it if a prospect of good interest was held out to
him. The soldier thought the matter over, but
demurred at going to the mean Jew to solicit his aid.
" No," said he to himself, " I would rather starve to
death than be scornfully looked upon by a faithless
Jew." But again he thought he must submit to the
dishonour, rather than see his lovely wife on the
verge of the grave.



148 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF LUTFULLAE.

So, with mingled fear and hope, he betook himself
to the Jew, to whom he represented his case in his
soldier-like sincere but unpolished language. The
Hebrew was delighted to think that he had nearly
won the game, and that, by sacrificing a piece, he
would certainly circumvent the queen. So at first
he impressed upon the mind of his customer the
importance of money in the world. He then said he
was very sorry that he had no money of his own to
lend him ; at the same time he could not deny having
certain small sums in the house, but he dared not
touch them for his life, " they being," observed he,
" the deposits of other individuals of power and
authority." "Then am I to return disappointed?"
asked the veteran. " I cannot help it," returned the
Jew ; " I will not stake my life and property for
others ; so pray be gone, and never trouble me again
with such affairs. Don't be angry," added he, " but
suppose I lend you from the deposit which I am
obliged to produce to the depositor for his satisfaction
after two months from this day, and suppose I cannot
do so, do you think my head will remain on my
shoulders?" "But it will not be in any way
jeoparded," rejoined the veteran, "if I promise to
pay you back in seven weeks." "But how can I
believe you ? " quoth the Jew ; " what security can
you afford?" "As for security, I can offer you
none," replied the poor man: f lbut I can assure you
that I shall be punctual, and I can attach my signa-



A MERCILESS CREDITOR. 149

ture to any penal bond you may be pleased to draw
out." " Very well," said the Jew ; " then in that
case, will you engage, as a matter of mere form, of
course, to give a pound of your flesh from your body
in case you fail to fulfil your promise?" " With all
my heart," rejoined the poor man, considering that
he and his wife would work night and day, and would
certainly be able to liquidate the debt before the time
prescribed. Upon this understanding the bond was
formally written out, attested, signed, and delivered,
and the money paid to the poor man. On the other
hand, the Jew was happy in thinking over the
matter : " The bait," said he to himself, " is swal-
lowed, and I must have patience for seven weeks,
when the game will be won. On further considera-
tion, he bethought himself that, in the case of the
man's being able to produce the amount at the time
promised, which appeared to him more than im-
probable, he would manage to steal a part of the
good coins and mix up some counterfeit ones in their
place ; and thus he might easily render him unable
to pay his debt, and, besides, might accuse him of
cheating. So, the horror of such criminal charges
being brought to the notice of the court of justice,
and the impossibility of his submitting to be maimed,
would certainly cause the tree of his hope to be
fruitful of success.

As for the poor veteran, he, on the receipt of the
sum of money, purchased the materials of industry for



150 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF LUTFt'LLAH

his consort and himself ; he also bought some pro-
visions and necessaries of life for the time being, and
both of them set to work to release themselves from
the torturing chains of poverty. They strained every
nerve in working to make up the amount within the
given time ; but, so far from it, they could not even
save half the money required. When the time was
finished, the Jew made his unwelcome appearance,
seated himself at the door of the poor man, and, in
most violent terms, demanded payment. The poor
veteran entreated very humbly, soliciting forgiveness,
and telling him he was very sorry that all his labours
to make up the sum were fruitless, and begged him
to accept very nearly half the amount in ready cash,
and to grant him more time for the remainder; if not,
he might take the money and the materials, by sell-
ing which he might get something more than he
demanded. These supplications, instead of doing
good, provoked the Jew's indignation, and he angrily
shouted, "Frivolous excuses will not do with me;
the time agreed upon has expired, so be brief;
remember the penalty written down by yourself,
therefore produce the money or prepare to stand the
consequences." Upon this, the argumentation on both
sides, being carried on for some time, terminated in
a regular scuffle, and the Jew, getting the better of
the poor man, caught hold of his collar and dragged
him towards the court of justice ; but the poor man,
releasing himself somehow or other from his grasp,



THE HALL OF JUSTICE. 151

took to flight and the Jew followed him. In swiftly
crossing the first street, he came on a sudden in con-
tact with a pregnant woman, who, being knocked
down, unfortunately miscarried; and a relative of
hers, seeing this breach of manners, folloAved to
apprehend him. A little further, a horseman standing
in his way, he struck the horse to clear the road, and
the blow unluckily put out one of the horse's eyes.
This enraged the horseman, who likewise accompanied
the two pursuers to catch the man and hold him
responsible for the loss. The poor man, by his quick
turns and swiftness, got out of the city, leaving his
followers some distance behind ; and, seeing a stone
quarry in front, he determined to leap into it and
hide himself. With this resolve, exclaiming tf Bis-
millah, " In the name of God ! " down he jumped.
Now, where he leaped there was a shed, under which
an old man was lying ; and, as he precipitated him-
self down upon the shed, its weak rafters gave way,
and he, coming down upon the old man, not only
killed him, but sprained his leg and hurt himself so
much that he could move no farther until his pur-
suers, joined by the old man's son, whom he had
accidentally killed, came up and seized him. They
beat him soundly, and, tying his hands behind him,
dragged him to the Court of the Kazi Ratalbiik. As
the culprit reached the Kdzi's gate, he beheld some
shops wherein forbidden liquors were publicly sold,
and an old reverend gentleman with a long white



152 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF LUTFTJLLAH.

beard staggering about, shamefully intoxicated. Pre-
sently there passed a living man tied in a bier, and
carried to the graveyard to be buried alive, his
lamentable shrieks being utterly disregarded by
the remorseless bearers. The sight of these horrid
scenes enacted at the Kazi's gate, and evidently
by his decree, filled the poor soldier with terrible
forebodings.

He was soon, however, dragged into the Court, and
trembled at sight of the Kazi, whom he positively
looked upon as a deputy of the angel of death. In
the middle of the hall was a cushion backed with a
large pillow, upon which squatted a diminutive fat
person with a very small head and long black beard.
He held a rosary in his hand, and kept moving his
head in token of assent and dissent to the assertions
of the persons about him ; and a few peons stood here
and there in respectful postures, with instruments of
torture in their hands. The new parties being con-
ducted to the edge of the carpet, were struck with
awe, and stood trembling. The charges made by the
Jew, the relative of the pregnant woman, the owner
of the horse, and the son of the old man, were then
taken down by the clerks. As for the soldier, he told
his unvarnished tale, adding, at the same time, that
he had been very severely maltreated by his adver-
saries subsequent to his apprehension.

The matter then was thoroughly discussed by the
lawyers in presence of the Kazi, who listened with



A SECOND DANIEL. 153

profound gravity to the arguments on both sides, and
ultimately pronounced sentence as follows : " Let a
sharp knife, a pair of scales and weights, be brought
forward, and let the peons seize and hold fust the
soldier. Jew, there is a knife ; cut off the man's flesh,
who has only himself to blame for having so foolishly
signed the bond." The Jew gladly took the knife in
his hand, thinking that he would have the merit of
inflicting a mortal wound upon an enemy of his faith,
whose wife would then fall an easy prey. Just as he
was going to lay his hand upon the poor man, the
Kazi called out, " Hearken to me before you use the
knife; the pound must be exactly one pound of flesh,
* without any skin or bone, etc., and you must sever
it from his body in one cut, no additional torture to
the man by plurality of cuts having been agreed
upon in the bond. You must, therefore, neither
exceed nor come short of one pound ; if you do, you
must abide by the law of retribution according to the
sacred Kur'an." The Jew, hearing all this, clearly
saw the impossibility of the act being performed
without endangering himself, and offered to give up
his claim. Upon this, the Kazi imposed a fine of
five pieces of silver on him for his unreasonable pro-
secution, and dismissed him.

The Kazi next maturely weighed and considered
the case of the pregnant woman, and gave his decision
as follows : " Let the woman be made over to the
defendant, who must first employ a good physician to



154 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF LUTFULLAH.

cure her, and, after her recovery, must keep her with
him in his own house until she is in the family-way,
and then she must honourably be restored to her
former husband." The plaintiff, shocked at this sen-
tence, begged to give up his suit if such were justice.
But the Kazi observed, he should not be permitted to
do this unless he paid a fine of ten pieces of silver to
the Court for having taken up its time.

The horseman next being summoned, urged his
claim, stating that only a short time ago he had, by
a very cheap bargain, purchased his noble horse
for two hundred pieces of gold; and it had been
seriously damaged by the loss of its eye, K So that
the whole price," represented he, "should be paid
me, when the soldier may take the animal, or com-
pensate me for the blemish by paying a moiety of its
value"

Upon this his lordship duly considered the case,
and decreed as follows : " Let a pair of sawyers be
sent for to divide the horse longitudinally, from the
middle point of his head to the end of his tail ; and,
when this is done, the uninjured part shall be retained
by the complainant, and the part with the injured eye
be given to the defendant, who must pay one hundred
pieces of gold, being one-half the price to the plaintiff
as compensation for the damage." The owner of the
horse, seeing that the loss of his animal would be
greater than the compensation, begged to withdraw
his claim, which was granted to him with some diffi-



THE LAST CLAIM WITHDRAWN. 155

culty, on his agreeing to pay a fine of twenty pieces
of silver to the Court.

Lastly, the son of the poor old man appeared,
throwing dust over his head for the unnatural death
of his venerable father, the cause of which he swore
was the rascally veteran's fall upon him, and, there-
fore, in justice, he would have him impaled for the
crime.

His lordship coolly heard all his excited statements,
and what was said on the part of the prosecution,
and on that of the defence, and, weighing everything
in the scales of his judgment, pronounced the follow-
ing sentence : " Let the offender be dragged to the
same shedding under which, with hands and feet
tied, let him be placed at the identical spot where
the old man was killed, and then let his son jump
down upon him from the brink of the quarry in
revenge for his father's death." Hereupon the young
man, foreseeing the danger of the undertaking, refused
to execute the orders, offering to relinquish his claim,
and attribute his father's death to an accident ; but
his lordship replied that he would not allow the pre-
cepts of the law to be disregarded, or the claim to be
abandoned, unless he paid a fine of forty pieces of
silver to the Court, for his folly in making an unbe-
coming charge. The young man then paid the fine
and went off", considering himself lucky in getting out
of the scrape.

The hour of noon prayers by this time having



156 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF LUTFULLAII.

arrived, the Court was cleared, and the Kazi, having
compassion upon the veteran, bestowed on him a
handsome present, and inquired if he was satisfied
with the proceedings of the Court. The poor man,
in reply, praised the Kazi's justice, and said, " God
bless you, my lord ; I am entirely satisfied, and my
acknowledgments to your lordship during the re-
mainder of my life shall be unceasing."

Having said this, he began to leave his lordship's
presence with some hesitation, which being observed
by the judge, he asked him if he had anything to
say ; and the veteran answered he had something to
represent, but it being beyond the bounds of respect,
he would not do so unless permission were granted.
" You should not be backward," observed his lord-
ship, " in satisfying yourself about the law ; for if
you leave the Court in suspense respecting any
verdict, it may cause others to be misled, and the
mischief may become too serious to be remedied."
The veteran then humbly stated that he could not
reconcile with his lordship's fair justice the forbidden
liquor being openly sold at the gate of the Court,
where he found a venerable man drunk, nor the fact
of a living man being carried to the grave. " I am
glad," returned the Kazi, " that you have asked me
these questions, as my answers to them will quiet
your conscience. Pray hearken unto me with atten-
tion. The liquors privately sold are adulterated
with poisonous substances by the sellers to strengthen



A LINGERING DOUBT SOLVED. 157

their effects, and have consequently proved injurious
to purchasers who require strong drink as medicine,
or as a narcotic after mental labour. Drinking is a
crime certainly punishable by our blessed law ; but
the same law strictly observes, * Forbidden things
are lawful in cases of necessity;' so that by this
toleration I have abolished a heinous crime, and
have appointed a venerable man, of unquestionable
honesty, to test the spirits that are brought here for
sale ; and the tasting, which is his lawful duty, may
have disguised him a little. As to the person carried
alive to the grave, that has been legally ordered by
me, because six years ago his wife had been married
' to another man according to the decree of the law,
two witnesses of a very respectable character having
certified his death at Bagdad. The man, however,
came before the Court this morning, pleading that he
was not dead, arid advancing a claim to recover his
wife. I ordered the two witnesses to re-appear, and
they proved beyond doubt, by other evidences, that
they had attended his funeral at Bagdad, where he
was buried in their presence. From this circum-
stance it is easy to conclude that the man cannot be
a real one, but the ghost of the former, and must
therefore be laid to put an end to all future disputes
respecting the woman." The veteran upon this,
dissembling his misgivings, praised the Kazi's justice
and retired.



CHAPTER VI.

The Ran desert Colonel Miles Charles the Twelfth's music
somewhat too close Tiioughts of Makka Captain Bagnold
Mandavi Philosophic meditations and dogmatism dis-
turbed Study English at Khaira Infanticide The pirates
of Dwarka The Fort taken Wanderings in the hills of
Kattiwar The Aghori Gogo Surat The Parsi cemetery.

To return to my own adventures; on the next
morning of my triumph over the Maratha, we
marched from Baroda towards Nagar Parkar via
Ahmadabad, Karri, Sammi, Radhanpur, and Suigam.
Our marches were slow, about ten miles a day on an
average. From Suigam in our first long nightly
march we crossed to Narrah, a desolate spot in the
midst of the Ran where we arrived at about eight
o'clock, A.M., and thence on the following day we
crossed to Virawaw in another longer and more
fatiguing march. All of us were so much knocked
up with the fatigue, that a small party of the
insurgents might have exterminated our whole force
had they had courage enough to attack us at the
time. The difficulties and hardships suffered by the
force during the last two marches were very severe
from the want of fresh water, although a good supply



BRACKISH WATEB. 159

of it had teen carried along with us upon camels,
bullocks, and ponies; but soon after our arrival at
Narrah, it was nearly out, and we were obliged to
make use of the water of that place, brackish as it
was, for the animals, and partly for ourselves too.
This salt water, though drinkable, produced looseness
of the bowels to many. The mere want rendered
our thirst more craving, as the salt water appeared
to be nearly out, on account of our free use of
it ; and, I am sure, if the army had prolonged its
halt for ten or twelve hours more, the whole of
the water of the island would have been absorbed
by us. The sufferings of the Brahman sipahis of
the regiments, whose caste prohibited them from
touching water from the leather bags, was greater,
for the kettles provided for them by Government
held much less than what they required in two days.
The good management of the officers and economy
on the part of the people, were, however, the means
of our safe arrival at that side of the salt desert.

The view of the Ran, i. e., the salt morass, is not
an unpleasant one, perhaps, because it is a curiosity
not frequently met with by travellers. The Ran is a
vast pathless plain, bright and level. As far as sight
can reach nothing is seen but a white sheet, canopied
by the sky, and bounded only by the horizon. There
is no sign of vegetable or animal to interrupt the
view for miles and miles. Small objects, such as
dwarf bushes, are magnified by the mirage into



160 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF LUTFULLAII.

beautiful gardens and lofty trees reaching the clouds,
until you go near them, when you are undeceived.
A herd of zebras, that passed by us with uncommon
swiftness, assumed the appearance of gigantic horses,
something like elephants flying in the air, at the
distance of about three or four miles. When further
off, they appeared like a hill fort suspended between
heaven and earth, which, gradually diminishing in
size, at last disappeared.

On the morning after our arrival at Virawaw, I
walked out of the camp in the suburbs of the town
in search of something new, where I was surprised
to see a European gentleman, who had already
anticipated me. I found him engaged with a large
slab of stone bearing Arabic inscriptions, belonging
to a dilapidated mosque. As he copied it in silence
without reading it aloud, I took him to be a super-
ficial transcriber, who could not decipher the charac-
ter and understand the peculiar turns in the phrase-
ology of that difficult language. Upon this, taking
out my pencil, I copied the inscriptions for myself
in about five minutes, leaving him far behind in his
arduous task, and then, in comparing it with the
original, I read it aloud : but, finding my European
friend following me very close in my reading, I pur-
posely read out a part wrong to mislead him; but
he checked and corrected me in a very able manner,
which convinced me that he was a man of letters
and of superior abilities. I bowed to him, and we



COLONEL MILES. 161

talked with each other in Persian upon the subject
of the history of Guzerat for a little while, and then,
being mutually made acquainted with each other's
name and address, we parted on promise of meeting
again. He was Colonel Miles, the Resident at
Palanpur, and I had no opportunity of seeing him
again until the middle of the year 1844, when I had
the pleasure of seeing him in London at his own
house. I knew him well, but he knew me not.

It was about thirty miles distance from this to
Nagar Parkar, which .we passed over in four slow
marches. No opposition impeded our course during
this short journey. One evening, however, intelli-
gence being secretly brought to our brigadier that
a band of the rebels had encamped at about forty
miles distance from our camp, with the intention of
surprising us, he immediately marched with a select
party of his cavalry to turn their design against
themselves. The next morning he overtook them
by surprise, and, having killed and wounded some
of them, the rest took to their heels unpursued,
leaving their baggage for their vanquishers to take
possession of. The next day our brigadier returned
to the camp victorious. But, to our great dismay,
we were afterwards informed that the party attacked
were friends ; they were agents on the part of the
Sindh Government, deputed to co-operate with us,
either in conciliating or reducing the insurgents to
our submission ; and thus we returned our thanks

G



162 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF LUTFTJLLAH.

to them for their favour. It was a serious mistake
on our part, and, in fact, arose through the villanous
misrepresentations of a certain designing party.

During our journey from Virawaw, some antiqua-
rians from amongst the officers found an ample means
for the exercise of their talent. Idols of fine marble
and of different size, the images of the Buddhist
gods, were found underground in the country, and
were carefully exhumed and carried off.

On our arrival at Nagar Parkar, as the tents were
going to be pitched at a little distance from the town,
and a column of the regimental lines was passing by
its side in proper order, the insurgents began to fire
their matchlocks at us, thinking probably that they
would rout the force by wounding and killing a few
of us, and then attack the baggage and enrich them-
selves by plundering it. Our column, on being fired
at, coolly turned in the direction of the enemy
instead of its tents, and drove them out of the town
immediately. Taking shelter in the mountain, near
which the town is situated, they continued firing
upon us from behind the rocks and trees in places
inaccessible to us, until about three o'clock, P.M.,
without doing much harm. Several bullets startled
me as they passed whistling and whizzing by my
head. At about four o'clock in the evening the
rebels vanished in the mountains and valleys, which
were quite impracticable to us and familiar to
themselves.



THE MARCH RESUMED. 163

In this skirmish Captain Hart was nearly losing
his life, though not from the enemy. He had taken
a sipahi's musket, and was firing at the Khqjas,
when, in his eagerness, he advanced too near the
edge of a precipice, over which he fell, but was
saved by the sipahi, whose musket he had borrowed,
and who caught him by the neck as he was falling.
He rewarded the man with a liberality beyond his
and my expectation, so much so that he was released
from the servitude of a soldier's life at last, and able
to return to his own village in the upper provinces
with an ample provision to subsist on for the rest
of his life. Two years before, when he left his
village to enlist, he was no more than a young rustic ;
but the momentary display of valour raised the star


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Online Library1802-1874 LutfullahAutobiography of Lutfullah, a Mohammedan gentleman : and his translations with his fellow-creatures : interspersed with remarks on the habits, customs, and character of the people with whom he had to deal → online text (page 10 of 27)