Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official eBook

William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,051 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.

9.  This incident still happens occasionally.

10.  For the Raja, see ante, chapter 20, [6].


The Begam Sumroo.

On the 7th of February [1836] I went out to Sardhana and visited the church built and endowed by the late Begam Sombre, whose remains are now deposited in it.[1] It was designed by an Italian gentleman, M. Reglioni, and is a fine but not a striking building.[2] I met the bishop, Julius Caesar, an Italian from Milan, whom I had known a quarter of a century before, a happy and handsome young man—­he is still handsome, though old; but very miserable because the Begam did not leave him so large a legacy as he expected.  In the revenues of her church he had, she thought, quite enough to live upon; and she said that priests without wives or children to care about ought to be satisfied with this; and left him only a few thousand rupees.  She made him the medium of conveying a donation to the See of Rome of one hundred and fifty thousand rupees,[3] and thereby procured for him the bishopric of Amartanta in the island of Cyprus; and got her grandson, Dyce Sombre, made a chevalier of the Order of Christ, and presented with a splint from the real cross, as a relic.

The Begam Sombre was by birth a Saiyadani, or lineal descendant from Muhammad, the founder of the Musalman faith; and she was united to Walter Reinhard, when very young, by all the forms considered necessary by persons of her persuasion when married to men of another.[4] Reinhard had been married to another woman of the Musalman faith, who still lives at Sardhana,[5] but she had become insane, and has ever since remained so.  By this first wife he had a son, who got from the Emperor the title of Zafar Yab Khan, at the request of the Begam, his stepmother; but he was a man of weak intellect, and so little thought of that he was not recognized even as the nominal chief on the death of his father.

Walter Reinhard was a native of Salzburg.  He enlisted as a private soldier in the French service, and came to India, where he entered the service of the East India Company, and rose to the rank of sergeant.[6] Reinhard got the sobriquet of Sombre from his comrades while in the French service from the sombre cast of his countenance and temper.[7] An Armenian, by name Gregory, of a Calcutta family, the virtual minister of Kasim Ali Khan,[8] under the title of Gorgin Khan,[9] took him into his service when the war was about to commence between his master and the English.  Kasim Ali was a native of Kashmir, and not naturally a bad man; but he was goaded to madness by the injuries and insults heaped upon him by the servants of the East India Company, who were not then paid, as at present, in adequate salaries, but in profits upon all kinds of monopolies; and they would not suffer the recognized sovereign of the country in which they traded to grant to his subjects the same exemption that they claimed for themselves exclusively; and a war was the consequence.[10]

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