[Description of Akbar]

Of my father I may further observe, that in youth it would appear that he made good eating one of the greatest pleasures of his life, and considered a powerful appetite as one of its greatest blessings. Nevertheless, so sincere and humble a sense did he entertain of the superintending power of Providence, that, with armies so numerous and formidable at command, with a train of war ele­phants in number, and treasures in accumulation beyond all precedent, and an extent of empire, might, and grandeur never surpassed, he never for a moment permitted himself to be unmindful of that eternal Being whom he adored; and hence it was that the following couplet was ever on his lips: “Ever, in all places, with all men, and under every variety of circumstances, place thine eye and heart secretly inclined towards thine everlasting Friend.”

But in his character one prominent feature was, that with every religion he seems to have entered, through life, into terms of unreserved concord, and with the virtuous and enlightened of every class, of every sect and profession of faith, he did not scruple to associate, as opportunities occurred; for the most part devoting the live-long night to this species of social enjoyment. And here it is to be remembered that, generally speaking, and taking the day and night together, his period of sleep did not extend in the whole to more than one pahar (or watch) of time.

His personal courage was of that fearless and imperturbable nature, that he has been seen not unfrequently to spring from the back of a female elephant to that of the most furious and refractory, known to have destroyed many a keeper, and this to the astonishment of those who had been most accustomed to the management of these enormous animals. On other occasions where the elephant was so furious and intractable as not to endure the approach of the female, he would ascend either a wall or a tree by which the elephant was to pass, and from thence cast himself without hesitation on the back of the infuriated animal; the mysterious energies with which the Almighty had endowed him being such that the elephant, as if by instinct of some supernatural influence, quietly submitted to his management.

In proof of his more than ordinary muscular powers, I shall relate, that he caused a massive iron chain to be made of ten Hindûstauny maunns, equal to an hundred maunns of Irâk in weight, which every morning he was in the habit of working about with such apparent facility as to be quite astonishing, it being an operation which required an uncommon degree of strength.

Of his extraordinary skill in military movements, indefatigable activity, and pro­ficiency in the art of war, it will be sufficient to record the two following instances.

First. It is well known that when he ascended the throne of Hindûstaun, on the demise of my grandfather Hemayûn, my father was not more than fourteen years of age. It was at such a crisis that the infidel Himmû, who had made himself monarch of the Afghans, and to whom they pointed the finger as the hero of their tribe, put his armies in hostile array against the imperial authority. The conflict to which these indications of hostility led took place exactly on Thursday the sixth of Mohurrim, of the nine hundred and sixty-third of the Hidjera (20th of November, A.D. 1555). It is not surprising that this man should have been elated beyond measure with the contemplation of his power, when we reflect that he had been triumphant in two most sanguinary battles with the most puissant of Indian râjahs; that on this occasion he was at the head of one hundred thousand horse, fifty thousand camel-mounted musqueteers, and three thousand elephants trained for the field; and that he should have borne, moreover, the reputation of being extremely brave in action. He sent, however, to my father a message, reminding him that, young as he was, he ought not to imagine that he was able to sustain a contest with a monarch of his superior might. “Come not,” said he, “within the reach of my numerous and resistless troops and elephants, lest in the collision thou come to harm. I resign to thee all the territories eastward from the Jumnah to the uttermost limits of Bengal, and mine be the remainder of Hindûstaun.” My father, in reply, desired him to reflect that there was little to boast of in his success over the unequal force of a petty Hindy chief—where was the renown of throwing a chain over his own slave? “Without experience of a battle with the brave, or having known aught of a shock with the warriors of my race, what canst thou conceive of the horrors of an equal conflict? The shadows of night disappear at the approach of day, when the Lord of Light unsheathes his sword of splendour. At to-morrow’s dawn come to the field in thy strongest array, we shall then soon see whom God is disposed to favour.”

Receiving this answer of defiance from my father, Himmû proceeded to com­municate to his generals his arrangement for the battle, detaching a strong division with one thousand elephants in advance of the main body, and placing the remaining two thousand elephants in reserve in the rear of his line. In this disposition he presented himself at the head of his army and led them to the con­flict. My father, on his part, having distributed his band of martial music upon elephants, and formed an advanced guard of five thousand mailed cavalry, with one thousand trained elephants, without further concern mounted his elephant and placed himself directly in front of Himmû. It is proper to state that my father’s army consisted of no more than fifty thousand horse, and eight thousand camel-mounted gunners or matchlock-men. The battle commenced with a dis­charge of arrows and fire-arms, the elephants of the contending hosts being at the same time urged against each other by their keepers.

My father’s fortune soon declared itself. An arrow transpierced the ill-fated Himmû through the head, and thus was he despatched to the abode of the wretched. His troops perceiving the catastrophe, immediately broke their ranks and fled: and thus were his boasted elephants, his treasures, and all the imple­ments of his grandeur, at a single shift of fortune given to the winds. Shah Kûly Khaun Mohurrem, with some of his followers, happened to reach the spot where lay the throne of the fallen infidel, in the formation of which had been expended, in gold and jewels, the sum of two laks of five methkaly ashrefies;*

and which, having with some difficulty saved from being pillaged, together with the elephant on which it had been mounted, he brought to the presence of my father. The mutilated head of Himmû, together with his tiara set with dia­monds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and pearls, to the value of sixty laks of ashrefies,* was at the same time laid before my father.