‘True, very true,’ said an old Musalman trooper, with large white whiskers and moustachios, who had dismounted to follow me across the river, with a melancholy shake of the head, ’very true; who but Emperors could do such things as these?’
Encouraged by the trooper, the boatman continued:—’The Jats and the Marathas did nothing but pull down and destroy while they held their accursed dominion here; and the European gentlemen who now govern seem to have no pleasure in building anything but factories, courts of justice, and jails.’
Feeling as an Englishman, as we all must sometimes do, be where we will, I could hardly help wishing that the beautiful panels and pillars of the bath-room had fetched a better price, and that palace, Taj, and all at Agra, had gone to the hammer—so sadly do they exalt the past at the expense of the present in the imaginations of the people.
The tomb contains in the centre the remains of Khwaja Ghias, one of the most prominent characters of the reign of Jahangir, and those of his wife. The remains of the other members of his family repose in rooms all round them; and are covered with slabs of marble richly cut. It is an exceedingly beautiful building, but a great part of the most valuable stones of the mosaic work have been picked out and stolen, and the whole is about to be sold by auction, by a decree of the civil court, to pay the debt of the present proprietor, who is entirely unconnected with the family whose members repose under it, and especially indifferent as to what becomes of their bones. The building and garden in which it stands were, some sixty years ago, given away, I believe, by Najif Khan, the prime minister, to one of his nephews, to whose family it still belongs. Khwaja Ghias, a native of Western Tartary, left that country for India, where he had some relations at the imperial court, who seemed likely to be able to secure his advancement. He was a man of handsome person, and of good education and address. He set out with his wife, a bullock, and a small sum of money, which he realized by the sale of all his other property. The wife, who was pregnant, rode upon the bullock, while he walked by her side. Their stock of money had become exhausted, and they had been three days without food in the great desert, when she was taken in labour, and gave birth to a daughter. The mother could hardly keep her seat on the bullock, and the father had become too exhausted to afford her any support; and in their distress they agreed to abandon the infant. They covered it over with leaves, and towards evening pursued their journey. When they had gone on about a mile, and had lost sight of the solitary shrub under which they had left their child, the mother, in an agony of grief, threw herself from the bullock upon the ground, exclaiming, ‘My child, my child!’ Ghias could not resist this appeal. He went back to the spot, took up his child, and brought it to its mother’s breast. Some travellers soon after came up, and relieved their distress, and they reached Lahore, where the Emperor Akbar then held his court.