A GENERAL History of India, composed by Muhammad Aslam, son of Muhammad Háfízu-l Ansárí, and concluded in the year 1184 A.H. (1770-1 A.D.).

This History is somewhat ambitious in style, but of no great value for its contents. The author informs us in his Preface that, “in the bloom of his youth, when he was yet a student, in the city of Lucknow (may God preserve it!), the heavenly inspirer whispered several times in the ear of this meanest person of mankind as follows:—‘O thou who art the painter of the various scenes of the gallery of the world, and the describer of the works of Nature! Since to thank and praise those who are the worshippers of God is in fact to thank and praise the Almighty Creator Himself, it is proper that thou shouldst compile a work, comprising the history of the Prophets, the Imáms, the Muhammadan Emperors, and the religious and learned men, by whose holy exertions the management of the country of Hindústán has been invisibly supported.’”

Independent of this divine afflatus, he mentions other reasons which induced him to devote his attention to history—such as the universal desire to read historical works, combined with the exceeding difficulty of procuring them; the eagerness to acquire a knowledge of the manners and customs of the ancients, of the accounts of travellers, of biographies of famous persons, and of the wonders of the world. In order to satisfy this general curiosity, he early accustomed himself to make extracts from books of travels and historical works, in order to compile a “history which might contain the most important and interest­ing matters, and which, from its lucid and methodical con­struction and exceeding conciseness, might meet the approbation of the most enlightened minds. But as ‘all works must be performed at the time destined for them,’ the task was delayed till he had completed his studies.”

After he had been fully educated, he visited the city of Faizábád in A.H. 1182, where he met the “most puissant and exalted Názim Jang Mudabbiru-l Mulk Rafi'u-d daula Monsieur Gentil, and petitioned through his intercession for his livelihood in the most high court of the world-benefiting and noble wazír of Hindústán, whose praise is beyond all expression. That light of the edifice of greatness and the sun of dignity showed him great kindness, and said that he himself was fond of knowledge, and always devoted himself to the study of histories. It was there­fore desirable that the author should take pains to write a most interesting account of the wazír's noble family, of the Emperors of Hindústán, the Prophets and the eminently religious and learned men; to make the horse of his pen gallop over the field of eloquence, and like a diver bring out from the ocean of his mind such shining pearls as might adorn Hindústán with their light, and be ornaments to the ear of curiosity. Prepare, said he, such a rose-bower as may echo with the song of the nightingales of the garden of knowledge.”

Under these happy auspices, he commenced to labour in collecting the histories of Hindústán, and obtained from different places a great number of authentic works—such as the Táríkh-i Nizámu-d dín Ahmad Bakhshí, Mirát-i 'Álam, and Firishta. He also informs us that he carefully perused other books, such as the Táríkh-i Bahmaní, Táju-l Ma-ásír, Tarjuma Yamíní, Táríkh-i Fíroz-sháhí, Táríkh-i Alfí, Habíbu-s Siyar, Rauzatu-s Safá, Tímúr-náma, Wáki'át-i Bábarí, Wáki'át-i Humáyúní, Akbar-náma, Jahángír-náma, Sháh Jahán-náma, 'Álamgír-náma, Táríkh-i Bahádur Sháh, etc. “He made abstracts of these trea­sures, which like scattered pearls were separate from each other, and strung them upon one thread after a peculiar plan, to be re­membered by posterity, in this charming garden, which is entitled Farhatu-n Názirín, the ‘Delight of Observers.’”

The author states that he wrote his Preface in the year 1184 A.H. (1770 A.D.), and dedicated the work to the “most prudent wazír, the gem of the mine of liberality, of most noble extraction, the select of the whole creation, the leader of the army of victory, Shujá'u-d daula Bahádur, in the hope that he would approve of it, and that it might go forth like the wind to the different quarters of the earth, and like unadulterated coin might obtain circulation throughout all countries. The readers of this mirror of the world are requested to consider the little leisure he had from his other avocations, and to remove with the sleeve of kindness the dust of inaccuracy which might soil its splendour, and to spare their reproaches.”

The author divides his work into an Introduction, three Books, and a Conclusion; but the latter, which is said to contain “an account of the Prime Minister and the learned and religious of that (his) time,” is not contained in the volume I have examined, which ends with a promise to write more concerning the Prime Minister, whose praises he is sounding. The Paris copy is also deficient in this Conclusion, but both contain an account of the famous men of Aurangzeb's time at the close of his reign; but no other reign, either before or after it, has any biographical notice of contemporaries.