Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri: or, Memoirs of Jahangir (volume 2 of 2)

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Memoirs of Jah?ng?r


After an interval of about five years, the second volume of Mr. Alexander Rogers’ translation of Jah?ng?r’s Memoirs has been published by the Royal Asiatic Society. It is a smaller work than the first volume, for it only extends over six years of the reign, as against the twelve years of its predecessor. Even then it does not include the whole of the reign, for that lasted twenty-two years. The two volumes, however, contain all that Jah?ng?r wrote or supervised. It will be found, I think, that the present volume is fully as interesting as its predecessor. The accounts of the Zodiacal coinage (pp. 6 and 7), and of the comet, or new star (p. 48), the notice of the Plague in Agra (pp. 65–67), and the elaborate description of Kashm?r, under the chronicle of the 15th year, are valuable, and a word should be said for the pretty story of the King and the Gardener’s daughter (p. 50), and for the allusions to painters and pictures.

If B?bur, who was the founder of the Moghul Empire in India, was the Cæsar of the East, and if the many-sided Akbar was an epitome of all the great Emperors, including Augustus, Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Julian, and Justinian. Jah?ng?r was certainly of the type of the Emperor Claudius, and so bore a close resemblance to our James I. All three were weak men, and under the influence of their favourites, and all three were literary, and at least two of them were fond of dabbling in theology. All three were in their wrong places as rulers. Had James I. (and VI. of Scotland) been, as he half wished, the Keeper of the Bodleian, and Jah?ng?r been head of a Natural History Museum, they would have been better and happier men. Jah?ng?r’s best points were his love of nature and powers of observation, and his desire to do justice. Unfortunately, the last of these merits was vitiated by a propensity for excessive and recondite punishments. Like his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, he was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and he shortened his life in this way. He made no addition to the imperial territories, but, on the contrary, diminished them by losing Qandahar to the Persians. But possibly his peaceful temper, or his laziness, was an advantage, for it saved much bloodshed. His greatest fault as a king was his subservience to his wife, N?r-Jah?n, and the consequent quarrel with his son, Shah Jahan, who was the ablest and best of his male children. The last years of his reign were especially melancholy, for he suffered from asthma and other diseases; and he had to endure the ignominy of being for a while a captive to one of his own servants—Mah?bat K?h?n. He died on the borders of Kashmir, when on his way to Lahore, in October, 1627, in the fifty-ninth year of his age, and was buried at Sh?hdara, near Lahore, where his widow, N?r-Jah?n, and her brother are also interred. At the time of his death his son Shah Jahan was at Junair in the Deccan, and there the news was conveyed in a wonderfully short time by a Hindu courier. Jah?ng?r was succeeded by Shah Jahan, who lost no time in getting rid of his relatives, for, like the Turk, he bore no kinsman near the throne. Indeed, he is strongly suspected of having killed his elder brother, K?husrau, several years before.

I am indebted to Mr. Ellis, of the India Office, for revising the proofs.


In the Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, p. 416, mention is made of a history of Hindustan during the reign of Jah?ng?r, in two volumes, with paintings (Ouseley MSS.). I have recently ascertained that the MS. is only a modern copy of the Iqb?l-n?ma.

H. Beveridge.