THE Memoirs of the Emperor Bābur, of which the follow­ing pages contain a translation, are well known, by reputation, to such as are conversant with the history of India. They were written by that prince in the Jaghatāi or Chaghatāi Tūrki, which was his native language, and which, even down to the present time, is supposed to be spoken with more purity in his paternal kingdom of Ferghāna than in any other country. It is the dialect of the Tūrki tongue which prevails in the extensive tract of country that formed the dominions of Jaghatāi or Chaghatāi Khan, the son of Chingiz Khan, the celebrated conqueror, which extended from the Ulugh-Tāgh mountains on the north to the Hindūkūsh moun­tains on the south, and from the Caspian sea on the west to the deserts of Gobi, beyond Terfān, Kāshghar, and Yārkand, on the east. It was, however, chiefly the language of the deserts and plains, as the cities, especially along the Jaxartes, and to the south of that river, continued to be, in general, inhabited by persons speaking the Persian tongue, while the inhabitants of most of the hills to the south retained their original languages.

The Chaghatāi Tūrki was a dialect of the language of that extensive division of the Tartaric nations, which, in order to distinguish them from the Mongals, or Moghuls, have recently, though perhaps erroneously, been more peculiarly denominated Tartars or Tatārs. The language really spoken by that great race is the Tūrki; and the language of Kāshghar, of the Crimea, of Samarkand and Bokhāra, of Constantinople, and the greater part of Turkey, of the principal wandering tribes of Persia, and, indeed, of one half of the population of that country, of the Turkomāns of Asia Minor, as well as of those east of the Euxine, of the Uzbeks, the Kirghiz, the Kazzāks, the Bāshkirs, and numerous other tribes of Tartary, is radically the same as that of the Chaghatāi Tūrks. The most mixed, and, if we may use the expression, the most corrupted of all the dialects of the Tūrki, is that of the Constantinopolitan Turks,* which, however, for some centuries, has been the most cultivated and polished. The others all still very closely approximate, and the different tribes speaking them can easily under­stand and converse with each other.

The Tūrki language had been much cultivated before the age of Bābur, and at that period had every title to be ranked among the most perfect and refined in the East. The sovereigns of the different Turkomān and Tūrki dynas­ties to the south of the Caucasian range, the Caspian sea, and the river Sirr, (the ancient Jaxartes,) though many of them had been distinguished encouragers of Arabic litera­ture in the kingdoms which they had conquered, and though several of the earliest and most eminent of the Persian writers flourished in their courts, had still continued to speak their native tongue in their families and with the men of their tribe. When Sir William Jones decided* that the Memoirs ascribed to Taimūr could not be ‘written by Taimūr himself, at least as Caesar wrote his Commentaries, for one very plain reason, that no Tartarian king of his age could write at all,’ he probably judged very correctly as to Taimūr, who seems to have been unlettered, though, as to the other princes of Tartarian descent, his contemporaries, he perhaps did not sufficiently consider that two centuries had elapsed since the conquest of Chingiz Khan, and two more since the reign of Mahmūd of Ghazni, during all which time the territories to the east of the Caspian, as well as a great part of Persia, had been subject to Tūrki dynasties, and the country traversed by tribes of Tūrki race and speech; and that this period was far from being one of the darkest in the literary history of Persia. The want of a suitable alphabet, which he gives as a reason for doubting whether the language was a written one before the days of Chingiz Khan,* was soon remedied. The Arabic character is now used, as it was at least as early as the thirteenth century,* the age of Haitho. The fact only proves that the Tūrki language was, as Sir William Jones justly concluded, very little cultivated before the Tūrki tribes entered those pro vinces which had formed part of the immense empire of the Arabian Khalifs, in which the Arabian literature still pre­vailed, and the Arabian character was still used.

I may be permitted to add, that there seems to have been some mistake or confusion in the account given to Sir William Jones of the Tūzuk, or Institutes of Taimūr. ‘It is true,’ says he, ‘that a very ingenious but indigent native, whom Davy supported, has given me a written memorial on the subject, in which he mentions Taimūr as the author of two works in Turkish; but the credit of his information is overset by a strange apocryphal story of a King of Yemen, who invaded, he says, the Amīr’s dominions, and in whose library the manuscript was afterwards found, and translated by order of Alisher, first minister of Taimūr’s grandson.’* He tells us in the same discourse,* that he had ‘long searched in vain for the original works ascribed to Taimūr and Bābur.’ It is much to be regretted that his search was unsuccessful, as, from his varied knowledge of Eastern lan­guages, he would have given us more ample and correct views than we yet possess of the Tūrki class of languages, with the Constantinopolitan dialect of which he was well acquainted. The preface to the only copy of the complete Memoirs of Taimūr which I have met with in Persian, and which is at present in my possession, gives an account of the work, and of the translation from the original Tūrki into the Persian tongue; but does not describe the original as having been found in the library of a King of Yemen, but of Jaaffer, the Turkish Pasha of Yemen. Now, Sir Henry Middleton, in the year 1610, met with a Jaffer Basha, a Turk, in the govern­ment of Senna,* or Yemen. It is curious, too, that we are told by the author of the Tārīkh i dilkushā, that a copy of the Memoirs, kept in Taimūr’s family with great care and reverence, fell into the hands of the Sultan of Constantinople, who suffered copies of it to be made. Some confused recol­lection of these facts seems to have been working in the mind of Sir William Jones’s informant, and to have pro­duced the misstatements of his memorial. The mistake of a copyist writing Pādshah (king) for Pasha, might have produced part of the error.

The Tūzuk, or Memoirs themselves, contain the history of Tamerlane, in the form of annals, and conclude with the Institutes, which have been translated by Major Davy and Dr. Joseph White.* The Persian translation, in the manu­script to which I have alluded, differs considerably in style from the one published by the learned professor, which is an additional proof that there was a Tūrki original of some kind, from which both translations were made; a fact con­firmed by the number of Tūrki words which are scattered over both translations; in which respect the Persian trans­lation of Bābur’s Memoirs strongly resembles them. Whether these Memoirs of Taimūr are the annals written by Tamerlane, or under his inspection in the manner described by Sherīf-ed-din Ali Yezdi in his preface,* I have not examined the manuscript with sufficient care to venture to affirm or deny. They contain, in the earlier part of Taimūr’s life, several little anecdotes, which have much the air of autobiography; while throughout there are many passages in a more rhetorical style than we should expect from that rough and vigorous conqueror; but that they are a work translated from the Tūrki, the same that has long passed in the East as being the production of Tamerlane, which Dr. White, in his preface, regrets could no longer be found, and for which Sir William Jones sought in vain, there seems no reason to doubt. I confess that the hypothesis of the Nawāb Muzaffer Jung appears to me the most probable, that they were written, not by the Emperor, but by Hindu Shah, Taimūr’s favourite, under the direction of Taimūr* himself. If the European public are not already satiated with works on Oriental history, they might easily be translated.

The period between the death of Tamerlane and that of Bābur formed the golden age of Tūrki literature. From every page of the following Memoirs it will be seen that the spirit and enthusiasm with which Persian poetry and learn­ing were then cultivated had extended itself to the Tūrki. I do not find that any works on law, theology, or metaphysics, were written in that tongue. But the number of poems of various measures, and on various subjects, the number of treatises on prosody and the art of poetry, on rhetoric, on music, and on other popular subjects, is very considerable. The palm of excellence in Tūrki verse has long been unani­mously assigned to Ali Sher Beg Nawāi, the most eminent nobleman in the court of Sultan Hussain Mirza Baikera, of Khorasān, and the most illustrious and enlightened patron of literature and the fine arts that perhaps ever flourished in the East. Many of the principal literary works of that age are dedicated to him. He is often praised by Bābur in the following Memoirs, and his* own productions in the Tūrki language were long much read and admired in Māweralnaher and Khorasān, and are not yet forgotten. Many Tūrki princes were themselves poets; and although the incursions of barbarians, and the confusion and unsettled state of their country for the last three centuries, have broken the con­tinuity of the literary exertions of the Tūrki nations, they still cling with uncommon affection to their native tongue, which they prefer extremely to the Persian for its powers of natural and picturesque expression; and they peruse the productions of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries with a delight that reminds us of the affection of the Welsh, or of the Highlanders of Scotland, for their native strains. Unfortunately, however, as the Mullas, or schoolmasters, in the cities of the countries north of the Oxus, regard the Arabic as the language of science, and the Persian as the language of taste, and measure their own proficiency, as scholars and men of letters, chiefly by the extent of their acquaintance with the language and literature of Arabia and Persia, the earlier works written in the Tūrki language run some risk of being lost, unless speedily collected. From these causes, and from the air of literary superiority which a knowledge of Persian confers, few works are now written in Tūrki, even in Tūrki countries. In the great cities of Samar­kand and Bokhāra, though chiefly inhabited by men of Tūrki extraction, Persian is the language of business. Though the present royal family of Persia are Tūrks, and though Tūrki is the ordinary language spoken in their families, and even at their* court, as well as by one-half of the population of Persia, particularly by the tribes around the capital, who compose the strength of the army, Persian is the usual and almost only channel of written communi­cation; nor am I aware that any work of note has, of late years, been written in the Tūrki tongue.