1205 A. H.
[10th September, 1790—30th August, 1791.]

IN this year the Imámbáráh was completed and ta’zias began to be deposited here.

It should be mentioned here, the expenditure of the Wazír in buildings alone is ten lakhs per annum, and has continued regularly from the beginning of his rule up to the present day. Each new building that is completed is occupied for two or three days and is left empty ever afterwards. A lamp even is not lighted in it by night, nor is it swept by day. And the wrongs which God’s people suffer by this building-mania are many. First, wherever he lays out a build­ing, the residents of the place, who have for years lived there, are ordered by him to leave at once with­out getting either money compensation or another house. It has often happened that people have not had time to carry away their furniture, the labourers have dismantled the house before it was vacated, and the occupants of a tenement have been compelled to quit, leading their wives and children by the hand. Second, the Wazír’s workmen, on every possible pre­text, utilize the houses of the people to furnish bricks, timber, and other building materials. In this matter their tyranny is so great that where there is a house with doorways or pillars of brick and the rest of the building of mud, and there is a family living in it, they ruin that whole family for the sake of the fifteen or twenty thousand bricks and pull down the house. Third, the dearness of building materials, caused by the hurry and the want of method on the part of the officials. Fourth, building materials and carpenters and masons are frequently interdicted to the public. When this happens, people are put to such straits and so hampered in their urgent requirements that they cannot get bricks to build masonry tombs over their relatives, not to say that they cannot repair their houses for the rains. And this is not confined to build­ing materials, but most commodities, such as sugar, firewood, rice, and so on: eatables and necessaries, are subjected to a sudden rise in price several times in the year; for, if the Wazír’s workmen take these things for their use, instead of payment for them, an order is given for the price current to be raised. Fifth, the servants of the Wazír, nay, even all moneyed men, on the principle of “like master, like man,”* follow the example of the Wazír and engage in build­ing mansions and oppressing the poor. And every one in his own muhalla turns out the residents and enlarges his own house. The Wazír and all the rest of them are so brisk about their building that they do not take time to burn bricks and lime thoroughly, so that a building is hardly completed before it begins to decay. Accordingly most buildings erected by the Wazír in his first years are now becoming dilapidated. The bridge* over the Gumti, which was built at a cost of two or three lakhs of rupees, gives way every year in the rains, and forty or fifty passengers are killed, and after the rains the same haste is exhibited in its repair

In a word, of all his buildings, the Imámbáráh is the finest and most strongly built. It consists of two halls and a balcony and arcades. The length of the halls is 60 yards and the breadth 30 yards. In front of it is a very broad terrace, and in the middle of it a reservoir. There is a large courtyard, and at the sides stand a lofty mosque and outoffices in keeping with it. Opposite the Imámbáráh is erected a high gate, a kind of ‘tirpauliyá,’ and beside it are two or three extensive jilo-khánas, which have three doors each in the same style. Near this are outoffices, a hospital, and travel­lers’ rest-houses. Over the gate of the outermost ‘jilo-khaná,’ which is known as the Rumi Darwáza, they have erected a circular chamber with painted walls. The breadth of this gate will be the same as that of all three gates, 30 yards, and its height about 40 yards. It dazzles the eyes of those who look up. The roofs of this gate and of the halls, which are 30 yards wide, and of all the buildings in this block, are of brick and lime, and there is no wood whatever in the whole.

Every year since its completion four or five lakhs of rupees have been spent on the decoration of the Imámbáráh. Hundreds of ta’zias, big and small, are made of gold and silver, and the number of glass chan­deliers, with and without glass shades, plain and coloured, and candelabra of gold and silver and glass, with drum-shaped and bell-shaped shades, which are purchased, defies computation. The halls, large as they are, have their floors and ceilings filled with them, so that the care-takers can with difficulty perform their duty, and what room is there for the ta’ziadárs to come and go. So the public look on from a distance, sitting on the roofless terrace. With all this the Wazír was not satis­fied. When Dr. Blane was going to England, he gave him an order for two glass ta’zias with chandeliers and shades and other appointments, one to be green and the other red. The price was fixed at a lakh of rupees. In 1211 A. H., one arrived, and the other was promised for the next year.

Another of the events of this year was that Zainu’l Abdín Khán, who had been imprisoned by the Patel after the death of his brother Mirza Sha’fí Khán, obtained his release on some pretext and came to Lucknow. Saiyad Muhammad Khán, son of Mirza Yusuf, Mirza Rahím Khán, and Abdu’l Mutlib Khán, who were relations of Burhánu’l Mulk, and the sons of Muhammad Quli Khán, deceased each of whom, driven by hunger, had in the course of events left and gone to Zulfiqáru’d Daulah’s camp, had returned to Lucknow before Zainu’l Abdin Khán on account of commotions in Akbarábád, and they were again involved in the same trouble as before; nay, in worse trouble. The circumstances of the head of this family are so reduced that a baniya applied to the Wazír for possession of the premises of Mirza Ja’far, son of Muhammad Quli Khán, in payment of the price of pro­visions, which he had for a long time failed to obtain. Mirza Ja’far pleaded that his allowances were in arrears and asked the sazáwal for time. The Wazír ordered that he should be at once expelled the realm, and his wife and children taken from him. The unfor­tunate man fled with his horse and whip to Kálpi, and meant to go thence to the Dakhin. The officers in that place, as they were creatures of Jhao La’l’s, in pursuance of the Wazír’s orders, prevented him going to the Dakhin. He then turned from Kálpi to Benares in distress and perplexity, and intended to go to Bengál. After this all trace of him was lost. Stranger than everything, notwithstanding such treatment of his relatives, old acquaintances and all respectable men of every rank, nobles, military men, and private citizens, and that wasteful expenditure, an enormous waste, of which a little has been mentioned in these pages, the Wazír expects that people will yield him allegiance on account of the claims and names of his ancestors, will submit to these tyrannies with perfect complacence, will wink at his evil practices, which are harder than death to endure, and will not open their lips to complain. If any one is foolish enough to reproach the Wazír for these actions and shuns him, he and the place-seekers charge him with sedition, disloyalty, and enmity to Mussulmans. Accordingly I had a long conversation once with a man of some influence in the Wazír’s councils. I said something to this effect: “As the world is a whirligig of changes, and especially in these days when there is a rumour afloat of an invasion by Zamán Sháh, it is possible that we may be attacked from without, and then the people will rise as they did in Chait Singh’s rebellion, and some of the soldiers will prove rebels and some will be loyal, and the Ruhelas and Afghans, who are lying in wait for their opportunity, like a latent pleurisy within the ribs, in that country, will raise a greater commotion even than foreign foes. Then who will ward off the enemy, and how? And what will become of the blood and honour of high and low?” He admitted all I said, and replied: “Quite so; but you know that the different ranks of society are dis­ordered, and that bad customs and habits are estab­lished among them, and the practices and principles of the ruler of the country have been from first to last opposed to the public weal. This being so, if one individual attempts to rectify these abuses, what can he effect?” I replied: “The alliance of the English power and their agency can correct the troops and settle the country, if only the veil of estrangement which Haidar Beg has drawn between us and them be removed.” He then said: “This is possible, but there is a proverb about people flying from coming calamity and falling into greater ills they know of. The English, as soon as they get a footing, will make the condition of the people here like that of those in Bengal.” I said: “If the English had had any hostile intentions, and their aim were the same as in the case of Bengal, they would have carried them out by this time, for there was no one to prevent them. Now that they come forward with representations only as to the condition in which the people are placed, worse treatment by them cannot be anticipated. Though the prosperity of some persons who now are in the ascendant and rob thousands of others would wane, the prosperity of those thousands would result; and in case of a war the lives and honour of the pub­lic would be safe” My friend laughed and said no more. I hope that my readers will not peruse this passage cursorily, and that they will judge for them­selves to which of the two the imputation of enmity to the interests of Mussulmans clung and was the more correctly applicable.