[Khossrou's Flight]

On the evening of Sunday the eighth of Zilhudje, of the year one thousand and fourteen,* and at the expiration of the second watch of the night, it was that, misled by the counsels of evil-disposed and turbulent men, my son Khossrou became a fugitive from his father’s presence, directing his views towards the territory of the Punjaub.

Soon after the hour just stated, the chiraghtchey, or lamp director of Khossrou’s household, who was attached to the interests of Vezzeir-ul-Moulk, came and reported to that minister, that at the second watch of the night the Shahzâdah had left his quarter in the palace, and that the night-watch had expired without his re-appearance. Vezzeir-ul-Moulk conducted the man immediately to the Ameir-ul-Oomra, who had just quitted my presence and was on his way home, and to whom this extraordinary occurrence was now communicated. The Ameir-ul-Oomra repaired without delay to the palace, and having with some difficulty awakened the eunuchs in Khossrou’s quarter, from them it was soon ascertained that the prince had actually absconded. A further delay of an hour and a half was consumed in making these necessary inquiries, and then the Ameir-ul-Oomra hastened to make known to me the circumstances of an event so extraordinary. I had retired for the night to the interior of my harram, and the minister had desired Khoujah Ekhlauss to inform me that he had some­thing to communicate which demanded instant attention.

Conceiving that some intelligence had arrived either of disturbances in Gûjerat, which was ever the abode of turbulence and sedition, or of some hostile move­ments peradventure in the south of India, I joined the minister with no other expectation; when I received from him in detail all that he had been able to discover of the Shahzâdah’s unaccountable disappearance. In my first surprise, I demanded in some perturbation what was best to be done; whether I should take horse in person, or despatch my son Khoorum in pursuit of the fugitive. The Ameir-ul-Oomra observed in reply, that if I would favour him with my commands, he entertained not a doubt but that, with God’s assistance and the influence of my imperial fortune, he should be able to bring this untoward event to a termination consistent with my wishes. He demanded, however, with considerable earnestness, what were my orders should matters come to an extremity, and the Shahzâdah appeal to the sword? I replied, that if he perceived that the affair could not be determined without a conflict, he was not to fail in the application of the resources placed at his disposal. In the concerns of sovereign power there is neither child nor kin. The alien who exerts himself in the cause of loyalty, is worth more than a thousand sons or kindred. He that employs his faculties to promote the interests of his benefactor, must command the utmost in the power of his sovereign to bestow. The son who in the pre­sumption of his heart forgets the duty which he owes to his father, and the un­numbered marks of royal bounty so liberally bestowed, is to me, in every sense, a stranger. Though my son be considered the stability of the throne, yet when he betrays his hostile designs, he must be compared to the man who saps the foundation of his house and builds upon the upper story (terrace).

Again, the man who puts the seal to his ingratitude by an open demonstration of enmity, cannot expect that for him I should any more regard the claims of blood or proximity. Nay, have we not, in this respect, in Isslam a distinguished example laid, in the domestic policy of the monarchs of the house of Othman, who for the stability of their royal authority, of all their sons preserve but one, considering it expedient to destroy all the rest. What, then, if for the preserva­tion of the state, if to prevent the disorders that might otherwise interrupt the peace of the world, I should think it necessary to extinguish the mischief, though it shew itself in the bosom of my own family? But independently of these con­siderations, I should have but little to boast of in capacity for the exercise of the power intrusted to me, if, after such a flagrant proof of his total disregard of filial duty, with my eyes open, I should ever again be tempted to intrust this wretched fugitive with the slightest share of authority. This would indeed be, with mine own hands to consign the power delegated by the Almighty supreme, to those ruinous contingencies to which the world would be exposed, from the baneful effects of profligacy and ignorance. I have never given countenance to an act of violence, even in a matter of the most trifling importance, how then can I pass it over in an affair of such vital consequence as that which now demands our exertions?

These reflections, suggested by a prudent concern for the general tranquillity, may perhaps be considered superfluous to a man of the Ameir-ul-Oomra’s expe­rience and discretion; but he seemed, on the occasion, to have sought advice from a principle of foresight, and more especially to give confidence and stability to men’s minds. When he had, however, proceeded a short distance from my presence, it occurred to me, that although from long and intimate knowledge of my person, his zeal and attachment stood above all question, yet at such a crisis this sudden departure from my presence might furnish to the evil-disposed and disaffected some suspicion against his loyalty; and I could not immediately divest myself of some uneasiness at the thought that his departure was in com­pany with my son Khoorum, who was something younger than Khossrou. I need not observe, that with the generality of mankind the maxim is that the succession should rest in the eldest brother.

At the expiration of the third astronomical hour of the night, at all events, and not long after the Ameir-ul Oomra, whom I considered as a son, and who cer­tainly enjoyed the most intimate share of my confidence, had taken to horse, I also felt myself irresistibly impelled to follow him.* In these circumstances I sent however to recall that minister, giving orders, at the same time, to Sheikh Fereid the Bukhshy to get in readiness all the troops that night on guard in the palace of Agrah. I also instructed Ehttemaum Khaun, who was kotwaul, or superin­tendant of police of the city, to despatch in every direction the most active messengers, announcing the event to the principal ameirs on the frontiers, and in every city and town through the empire, and requiring their immediate pre­sence under the imperial standard. Those already on the spot received orders to be prepared to attend my person at the shortest notice.

The forty thousand long-tailed horses feeding in my stables were now brought forward, and as many as were required were immediately distributed among the most experienced and bravest of my guards and veterans, even to the number of one and two hundred each to many of the ameirs. I ordered out the whole of the swiftest road-camels of my establishment, to the number of one hundred thousand, and to every soldier who was not possessed of one fit for service was now given a fresh camel, with every other requisite equipment for the march. Every ameir and mûnsebdaur not immediately in attendance was at the same time directed to follow me without delay. Doust Mahommed and Mahommed Beg the Kabulite, whom I had recently dismissed for Kabûl and the Punjaub, and who had encamped some distance beyond Sekundera, now returned with the in­formation that Shahzâdah Khossrou with thirty thousand followers had passed in that direction, and that he was marching with his utmost expedition towards the Punjaub.

After having distributed the fleetest horses and the swiftest going camels in my possession to every man whom I could trust, I mounted my horse; and as it seemed pretty well understood that the fugitive had taken the road to the left, I caused every one whom we met to be examined on the subject, and all agreed that he was certainly proceeding towards the provinces on the Indus.

About daybreak I arrived at Sekundera, three kôsse from Agrah, where has been erected my father’s mausoleum. Here Mirza Hussun, the son of Mirza Shah Rokh, who had been intercepted in attempting to join Shahzâdah Khoss­rou, was brought to my presence; and as he did not pretend to make any denial of the fact, I ordered him to be mounted on a camel with his hands tied behind him.

On this occasion, doubtless under the influence of my father’s blessed spirit, an omen was displayed in my favour, which, however extraordinary it may appear, I cannot omit noticing in this place; and the more so, because it was something similar to what occurred at a remote period to my grandfather Homayûn. That prince, when about the age of fifteen, was on his way to visit the tomb of his father, the illustrious Bâber, and seeing a certain bird crossing his path, observed to his attendants, that if it were his destiny to succeed to the empire, the arrow which he was about to discharge would reach the bird at which he was taking aim. To his great delight the arrow passed right through the head of the bird, which fell dead at his feet. His conclusion was, that thenceforth, no design of any importance should be undertaken on his part without some such appeal to the decrees of destiny, since he had a firm persuasion that the accomplishment would infallibly correspond with the omen.

But to describe what took place in my own regard. I had mounted my horse on quitting my father’s resting-place, and had not yet proceeded a kôsse on my march, when a man came to meet me who could not have possessed any knowledge of my person, and I demanded his name. He told me in answer that his name was Mûrad Khaujah. “Heaven be praised,” said I, “my desire shall be attained.” A little further on, and not far from the tomb of the Emperor Bâber, we met another man, driving before him an ass loaded with fire-wood, and having a burden of thorns on his own back. I asked of him the same information, and he told me to my great delight that his name was Dowlet Khaujah (‘sir for­tune’), and I expressed to those who were in attendance how encouraging it would be if the third person we met should bear the name of Saadet (‘auspicious’). What then must have been the surprise when proceeding a little further on, on the bank of a rivulet to our right, and observing a little boy who was watching a cow grazing hard by, I ventured to ask him also his name; his answer was, my name is Saadet Khaujah (‘sir felix’). A clamour of exultation arose among my attendants, and with feelings of equal gratitude and satisfaction, I from that mo­ment determined that, in conformity with these three very auspicious prognos­tications, all the affairs of my government should be classed under three heads, to be called Eymaun-o-thalâtha (‘the three signs’).*

The second watch of the day had now expired, and the sun having attained the meridian, I was tempted to avail myself of the appearance of a shady tree to shelter myself against the scorching heat of the atmosphere. At this moment some melancholy reflexions passing through my mind, I could not forbear ob­serving to Khaun-e-Auzem, that with all the accompaniments of imperial splen­dour, and the absence of all concern for the result, I was nevertheless exposed, and still more so were those who attended me, to many very serious inconve­niences, against which we had not had the leisure sufficiently to provide; but what were these to the hardships endured by the unhappy boy who was flying under all the discouragements of guilt and dismay! Alas, what are our inconve­niences to the sufferings in body and mind under which he labours? I confessed that my resentment was, however, not a little aggravated by the reflection that hostilities should have arisen at so early a period of my reign, and in such a quarter; that those who had shared for so many years in my toils and solici­tude, should have thus exposed themselves to the inflictions of my just revenge. Nevertheless it afforded me some consolation that if I had not averted the impu­tation of neglect by taking horse at the instant, the wretched fugitive would by this time have gained some frontier ground, and there found himself joined by numbers of the factious and discontented—the perfidious hypocrites by whom he would have been soon surrounded. That I should personally engage in the enterprize was therefore without alternative, if I hoped to secure any reason­able prospect of success.

But to proceed with the narrative of this unnatural revolt. Arriving at a village remarkable for its numerous tanks and delightful groves, I determined there to encamp. It now appeared that when Khossrou reached Mut­tra, which is one of the most venerated places of Hindû worship (the Keblah­gah, in fact), Hussun Beg the Badakhshanian entered the town with a body of his troops, and proceeded to exercise upon the defenceless inhabitants every species of violence and outrage; forcing from every one all the money they could lay hands on, and otherwise perpetrating such acts of profligacy and barbarity, that there remained no security for either sister, wife, or daughter in the whole neigh­bourhood. In short, such were the atrocities of every description of which these barbarians were guilty, that the unhappy Khossrou, not less alarmed than dis­gusted at the scenes of licentiousness and havoc of which he was thus compelled to be a witness, broke forth among his attendants, in terms of agony and bitter self-reproach, to the following effect: “Alas,” said he, “whither am I led, and from whom is it that I have been persuaded to separate myself? What is become of the glory which once surrounded my most ordinary enjoyments, that I should now be driven to address by the respected title of Ameir, those who have arisen from the very scum and dregs of society! That I should be compelled thus passively to look on at the enormities committed by such men on the subjects of my father’s government!”

With these expressions upon his lips of repentance, self-reproach, and useless regret, suitable to the desperate lot to which he had abandoned himself, he never­theless refrained, through folly and a false sense of shame, from recurring to the only remedy by which he could have been saved from ruin. For, as I stand in the presence of God, had the unhappy Khossrou, at this moment of returning shame and remorse, presented himself before me, not only would his offences have been overlooked, but his place in my esteem would have been higher than any thing he had previously enjoyed. Of this he had already experienced the strongest proof, when, after his unfilial conduct during the illness of my father, which I must have suspected to have arisen from hostile views and motives of the most dangerous nature, yet on his bare expression of repentance and a returning sense of duty, I freely banished from my mind every unfavourable impression. With regard to the circumstances of my father’s last illness, and the means by which the duplicity and hostile designs of some turbulent ameirs became known to me on that occasion, I may remark that the influence of my predominant fortune was finally triumphant, and without the slightest effort of human skill God Almighty placed the empire of Hindûstaun at my disposal. The story and the events of which it furnishes the recital are among the extraordinary things of the age in which we live, and the particulars may be learnt with sufficient accuracy in the following relation.