A Summary Account of Occurrences in Bengal, and different Parts of Hin­dostan.

FROM the weak state of the govern­ment of Mohammed Shah, and the factions that prevailed amongst the nobility, the Mahrattas of the Dekhan had invaded Bengal; and the port of Hooghly being in their possession, I was obliged to land at Frasdangeh*. The town of Calcutta, built by the English, and situated on the other, or eastern, side of the river, is more extensive and con­siderable than Frasdangeh. There are various nations of Europeans, viz. French, English, Dutch, Portuguese, Germans, &c. Their gardens are laid out in the European taste; the trees are cut into different forms with sheers, and and produce a very pleasing effect. Living separate from each other in their different settlements, they preserve their respective customs and manners, without any deviation from what they practise in their native countries. They have different churches, where they hold con­gregations. There are amongst them handicraftsmen of every denomination; and the natives have acquired many of their mechanical arts. The European soldiers, as well as their artists, are supe­rior to those of any other country, of which the Mahrattas are so sensible, that although Frasdengeh and Calcutta abound with all kinds of Europe mer­chandize, and the distance between Fras­dangeh and Hooghly, is not above two cose*; and the former has not any for­tifications, whilst the number of European inhabitants is but inconsiderable, and the Mahrattahs swarm like ants or locusts, they have never made any attempt upon that quarter, from the dread that the Europeans would unite their forces for mutual defence. “Unanimity insures prosperity; and destruction is the con­sequence of discord.” The Europeans excel in the use of cannon and muskets, but are not skilful with the sword.

The Mahrattas were first invited to invade Bengal, by the contest between Alyvirdy Khan and Sirafraz Khan, the son of Shuja Khan, of which the fol­lowing are the particulars; the partizans of Alyvirdy Khan pretend, that Sirafraz Khan, upon the death of his father, at the instigation of evil counsellors, wanted to act treacherously by Hajee Ahmed, who with his brother Alyvirdy Khan, who was Naib Soobahdar* of Bahar, upon receiving intelligence of these designs, marched from Azeemabad towards Moorshedabad, to give good advice to the son of his patron, and deliver him from the hands of evil counsellors, as well as to relieve his brother from the impending danger. Sirafraz Khan con­sidering this conduct of Alyvirdy Khan bold and presumptuous, marched with troops from Moorshedabad to oppose him. The armies engaged, when Sira­fraz Khan happening to be killed by a matchlock, discharged by one of his own men, his troops were routed with great slaughter. But the friends of Sirafraz Khan assert, that the whole was a calumny fabricated by Alyvirdy Khan, in order to cover his real motives; for that instead of any wish to accommodate matters with Sirafraz Khan, he had pre­viously determined to deprive him of his life, and usurp the government. What­ever might have been the motives by which Alyvirdy Khan was at first actu­ated, he now made himself master of the country, and of the immense treasure which had been accumulating from the time of Jaffer Khan, who was Soo­bahdar* of Bengal, and Sirafraz Khan’s maternal grand father. When he had thus gotten possession of all this wealth, he freely employed part of it in bribery and corruption, and by adopting con­ciliating measures, with a wise and prudent administration, gained the affection of people of all ranks and con­ditions. Upon the death of Sirafraz Khan, many of his relations and depen­dents, apprehensive for their lives and fortunes, fled to Nizam ul Mulk, the Nazim, or Soobahdar, of the Dekhan, where by describing the riches of Ben­gal, having excited the avidity of the Mahrattas, who delight in plunder, they conducted by the road of Orissa, an army of these free-booters, who distressed the ryotts*, plundered the country, and threw the government into great confusion, Frequent skir­mishes ensued, in which Alyvirdy Khan had many men killed, and the Mahrattas suffered some loss; but from the fortitude and good conduct of Alyvirdy Khan, it was a drawn game; for on the approach of the rains, the Mahrattas being apprehensive of suffering from the inclemency of the climate, gave up war and returned to the Dekhan, carrying with them an immense booty.

Alyvirdy Khan, Mehabut Jung*, by making large presents to Mohammed Shah, and bribing the principal Omrahs, obtained a grant of the Soobahdaries of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, in his own name. His power in those provinces was absolute, but the Mahrattas having tasted the sweets of the first expedition, and being now better acquainted with the roads, and the nature of the climate of Bengal, invaded and plundered the coun­try regularly every year*, till after many battles and skirmishes, with various suc­cess, it was mutually agreed, that the Soobah of Orissa should be ceded to them, in satisfaction of the fourth of the collec­tions of the three Soobahs, and which proportion in their language is called Chowth. From that time, they left Alyvirdy Khan in quiet possession of the other Soobahs,

Bengal is an extensive and fertile country, yielding a very great revenue. The air, on account of the excessive rains, and the vicinity of the sea, is exceedingly moist.

On the 1st of Moherrem, A. H. 1156, (or 14th of February, 1743,) I set out from Moorshedabad, after having resided there seven months. Being apprehen­sive of molestation from the Mahrattas, who were then dispersed about the coun­try, I crossed the Ganges, and proceeded through Purnea, and Tirhoot, to Azeemabad*. From the badness of the air and water, the inhabitants of Pur­nea are subject to chronic disorders; but they live happily under the government of Seif Khan, brother of Ameer Khan.

Azeemabad is a large and well built city: the Ganges, with the confluence of several other streams, runs by it, and after passing through Bengal, unites with the sea. At this place also, the Euro­peans have erected considerable buildings, and carry on an extensive trade. This part of the country is famous for beetle leaf, which is sent to great distances: and Patna rice being preferable to that of Bengal, is transported thither, and sold at a high price.

The Emperor Mohammed Shah, having been indisposed for some time, repeatedly wrote Hakeem Allavee Khan to hasten to court: wherefore, during the most intense heat, the sun being in Gemini, we left Patna, and travelling by the way of Benaris, Allahabad, and Ferukhabad, arrived at Shahjehanabad on the 10th of Jemady ul Sany, A. H. 1156, (or 21st July, 1743.)

Throughout our journey, the Soobah­dars*, and Foujdars*, of Hindostan, paid the highest respect to Allavee Khan, and entertained him in a manner suitable to his rank and character.

At this time Ameer Khan, was Soo­bahdar of Allahabad, whither he had been sent contrary to his own desire, and the Emperor’s inclination, to please Kummer­eddeen Khan the Vizier*, and Nizam ul Mulk, who made use of this method to remove him from court, because he was a man of sagacity, and played a deep game. Being thoroughly acquainted with the Emperor’s character and disposition he used to seek every opportunity of insinuating into his mind suspicions against the Vizier, and the Turany Moghuls, in order to further his own views. But their party being all powerful at that time, had him ordered away to Allahabad, of which place he had been appointed Soo­bahdar some time before. Ameer Khan, however, did not remain idle, but shortly after entering into a confederacy with Sefder Jung, the Soobahdar of Oudh, who with his Irany troops, was able to cope with the Vizier’s party, prevailed upon the Emperor to call him to court, whither himself also returned; and regaining his former influence, obtained for Sefder Jung the command of the artillery in the room or Saadeddeen Khan. But Ameer Khan did not long enjoy the fruits of his policy, for on the 23d of Zelhejeh 1159, (or 25th December 1746), one of his own servants, from an old grudge, stabbed him in the Dewan Aum, or public hall, at the entrance of the railing*. His relations accused several persons of being the abettors of this horrid transaction; but I do not think proper to mention their names, since, as is observed in the Koran. “Of a truth it is criminal to accuse any one upon mere suspicion.” As he left no son, the Emperor had given orders for all his property to be confiscated into the exche­quer*; but his troops being fourteen months in arrears, would not suffer his property to be confiscated, nor even per­mit his body to be buried, till they had received Tunkhas* for their demands, which was not effected till four days after the murder.

When we arrived at Ferukhabad on our way to Dehly, the governor Moham­med Khan Bungish, was exceedingly ill. As soon as Allavee Khan had felt his pulse, and learnt the symptoms of the disorder, he sent for me to his tent and said, “We must not continue here, for this man will certainly die in the course of six or seven days!” Afterwards when we heard that Mohammed Khan died within the period prescribed by Alla­vee Khan, I asked him whether he was able to predict the precise time of death, merely from his physical skill, or from any miraculous gift: he answered, that it was from long practice in medicine, and experience of the symptoms of dis­orders.