Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official eBook

William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 897 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.

Aurangzeb Throws off the Mask, Imprisons his Brother Murad, and Assumes the Government of the Empire.

CHAPTER 43

Aurangzeb Meets Shuja in Bengal and Defeats him, after Pursuing Dara to the Hyphasis.

CHAPTER 44

Aurangzeb Imprisons his Eldest Son—­Shuja and all his Family are Destroyed.

CHAPTER 45

Second Defeat and Death of Dara, and Imprisonment of his Two Sons.

CHAPTER 46

Death and Character of Amir Jumla,

CHAPTER 47

Reflections on the Preceding History.

The contest for the empire of India here described is very like that which preceded it, between the sons of Jahangir, in which Shah Jahan succeeded in destroying all his brothers and nephews; and that which succeeded it, forty years after,[1] in which Mu’azzam, the second of the four sons of Aurangzeb, did the same;[2] and it may, like the rest of Indian history, teach us a few useful lessons.  First, we perceive the advantages of the law of primogeniture, which accustoms people to consider the right of the eldest son as sacred, and the conduct of any man who attempts to violate it as criminal.  Among Muhammadans, property, as well real as personal, is divided equally among the sons;[3] and their Koran, which is their only civil and criminal, as well as religions, code, makes no provision for the successions to sovereignty.  The death of every sovereign is, in consequence, followed by a contest between his sons, unless they are overawed by some paramount power; and he who succeeds in this contest finds it necessary, for his own security, to put all his brothers and nephews to death, lest they should be rescued by factions, and made the cause of future civil wars.  But sons, who exercise the powers of viceroys and command armies, cannot, where the succession is unsettled, wait patiently for the natural death of their father—­ delay may be dangerous.  Circumstances, which now seem more favourable to their views than to those of their brothers, may alter; the military aristocracy depend upon the success of the chief they choose in the enterprise, and the army more upon plunder than regular pay; both may desert the cause of the more wary for that of the more daring; each is flattered into an overweening confidence in his own ability and good fortune; and all rush on to seize upon the throne yet filled by their wretched parent, who, in the history of his own crimes, now reads those of his children.  Gibbon has justly observed (chap. 7):  ’the superior prerogative of birth, when it has obtained the sanction of time and popular opinion, is the plainest and least invidious of all distinctions among mankind.  The acknowledged right extinguishes the hopes of faction;

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Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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