THE author of these Memoirs, Jouhar, was a con­stant attendant of the Emperor Humayun. His post being that of an Aftabchy, or an ewer-bearer, he had to attend on his Majesty wherever he went. The services of an aftabchy in the Moghul Emperors’ establishment were a sine quâ non, more so with an Emperor of Humayun’s stamp, who was too fastidi­ous an observer of the laws and injunctions of Mahomet. An aftabchy had to look after the “Ewer Department” of the Emperors, which consisted of ewer, musek and flagons of water for the purposes of ablutions and drinking. Besides, the aftabchy had to prepare cordial and refreshing drinks, such as sherbets, for the Emperors. The office of an ewer-bearer was formerly well-known in all the courts of Europe, and is still to be found in the establishment of the King-of-England’s household. Besides the very meagre account which Jouhar gives of himself in the Preface of these Memoirs, nothing further can be known. Jouhar does not tell us what position he held when he wrote these Memoirs; but that he became a man of some marks, is beyond the shadow of a doubt. Abul Fazl mentions his appointment in the district of Haibatpur, and subsequently speaks of him as “Mihtar Jauhar, treasurer of the Punjab.” Jouhar too affirms that Humayun assigned to the “humble servant Jouhar,” the collection of the revenues of the Hybetpur Purgunnah

The composition of these Memoirs to which the the author gives the name of Tezkirat-ul-Wakiat,* or the “Relation of Occurrences,” was taken in hand not earlier than 1587 A. D., thirty years after the death of the Emperor. The “long-choosing and beginning-late” policy of the biographer is a great stumbling block to the accuracy of some of the incidents depicted herein. The truth and honesty of the author, in his delineation of the incidents in which he himself had been a participator, are unquestionable. “The fact of their having been com­menced full thirty years after the death of Humayun,” says Professor Dowson, “greatly diminishes their claim to be considered a faithful and exact account of the occurrences they record.” The author had not kept notes of events as they occurred, but he had to depend solely on his memory which, perhaps, misled him in several material points. Prof. Dowson further remarks:

“They are not contemporary records of the events as they occurred, but reminiscenes of more than thirty years’ standing, so that, whatever the sincerity and candour of the writer, time must have toned down his impressions, and memory had doubt­less given a favourable colour to the recollections he retained of a well-beloved master. The conversations attributed to the various personages who figure in his Memoirs must therefore contain quite as much of what the author thought they might or ought to have said as of what really was uttered.”

The most reliable authorities on the reign of Humayun are, Feristah’s accounts, Jouhar’s Memoirs and Abul Fazl’s Akbar Namah. Col. Dow has wholly relied on Feristah’s account and has trans­lated a portion of it for his celebrated History of Hindostan, while the Honourable Monstuart Elphin­stone has diligently collected materials for his History of India from the three authorities. Baber’s autobiography and Humayun Namah of the veteran historian Khonda Mir, may also be of invaluable help to those scholars, who, unlike the superficial and circumstantial readers, see deeper into things of the past, especially when they are connected with the chronology of that vast empire, which boasts of its own material prosperity and civilisation, long before the pre-historic times of Assyria, Babylon, Athens or Rome. Elphinstone’s indebtedness to Jouhar, the aftabchy to his Imperial Majesty Humayun Shah, is too large to have been adequately repaid with a few frigid but sincere remarks on these Memoirs. Says Mr. Elphinstone:

“He was in constant attendance on Humayun, and although unacquainted with his political relations and secret designs, was a minute and correct observer of all that came within his reach, and describes what he saw with simplicity and distinctness. He was devoted to Humayun, and anxious to put all his actions in the most favourable light; but he seldom imagined that any­thing in his master’s conduct required either concealment or apology.”

The author of these Memoirs was a faithful adherent and a constant attendant of a personage who was so kind and generous to him, that he looked upon him not as a stern master but as a fostering father. Moreover, he owed his rank and promotion, which perhaps, he did not well deserve, solely to the generosity of his master. When a man, so devoted an admirer of his patron, writes his memoirs almost in a spirit of filial reverence, he very seldom sees anything to reproach in his hero’s con­duct. The author was, perhaps “anxious to put all his (Humayun’s) actions in the most favourable light,” as Mr. Elphinstone very pertinently remarks. But this anxiety, we are led to believe, is inherent in a protêge.

Jouhar, a menial of the Emperor and a man of scarcely more than ordinary wit, was not endowed with that knowledge and acumen of a biographer which had created a new epoch for the works of Plutarch, Abbot or Boswell. “The Author of this work,” says Major Stewart, the translator, “was not a learned person, it has no claim to erudition.” “This book,” he continues, “being written with the greatest sincerity and naïvetê, sometimes to the disparagement of his hero, I have no doubt of its authenticity.” Professor Dowson also remarks that “these Memoirs afford much amusement from the naive and simple style in which they are written.” He praises the book because it bears all the “appearance of truth and honesty” and compliments its author, who is “to a great degree exempt from the exaggeration and fulsome eulogy to which Oriental biographers are prone.”

These Memoirs which purport to be a faithful and true representation of the life and career of Humayun, lack in one vital point, viz., they do not give us an inkling into his private and domestic traits. They do not give us sufficient personal traits and anecdotes—data for judging Humayun as a man, not as a King. The autobiographies of his illustrious father Baber and his ease-loving grandson Jahangir, abound in such anecdotes. Jahangir has carried them to such an extent, that a certain portion of his autobiography is full of incredulous, weird stories more amusing than a best written romance. But none can give us a more vivid and life-like portrait of the great personality in all his public affairs than Jouhar. The minute and glowing description of Humayun’s escape after his defeat by Sher Shah, of his adven­turous retreat through the deserts and unfriendly countries, of his perilous situation at the court of Shah Tahmasp, of his courage and fortitude in times of danger and peril, of his bearings in adversity, of his forbearance and clemency, of his kindness and humanity, and after all, of his piety and resignation, has stood without its equal. In kingly virtues, Humayun has been accused of showing unmistak­able signs of weakness. But his weakness “leaned to virtue’s side”; and, it has been even said, that “if he had been a worse man, he would have been a greater King.”

We have already said that these Memoirs do not commence till his mounting the throne of Dehli at the age of twenty-three. Here too the Memoirs do not give us any light as to his career, prior to the assumption of the crown, which covers a period of more than two decades. It is certain that he rendered valuable services to his father in his wars with the Afghans and his campaign in India. Baber always tried to put him on the right track with good advice and gentle reprimands. Baber writes to him:

“Fail not to exert yourself streneously to meet every situa­tion as it occurs; for indolence and ease suit but ill with royalty... The great should excercise self-command; and I do hope that you will always maintain a good understanding with him (Kamran)...... If you are desirous of gaining my approbation, you must not waste your time in private parties, but rather indulge in liberal conversation and frank intercourse with all about you.... There is no greater bondage than that in which a King is placed, &c.”*

He reprimands Humayun for the lack of warmth of his parental affection in this strain:

“I have some quarrels to settle with you. For two or three years past, none of your people has waited on me from you, and the messenger whom I sent to you did not come back to me for a twelvemonth.”*

Baber is famous for his vast learning and erudi­tion; he is also a first rate composer and his style is simple but dignified and unaffected. Once he was very much offended with Humayun for his writ­ing him a letter full of sonorous and bombastic words, without paying particular heed, either to orthography or adequate sense, for which Baber takes him to task in the following manner:

“In compliance with my wishes, you have indeed written me letters, but you certainly never read them over; for had you attempted to read them, you must have found it absolutely impossible, and would then undoubtedly have put them by. I con­trived indeed to decypher and comprehend the meaning of your last letter, but with much defficulty. It is excessively confused and crabbed. Who ever saw a Moâmma (a riddle or a charade) in prose? Your spelling is not bad, yet not correct. You have written iltafât with a toe (instead of a te) and kuling with a be (instead of a kãf). Your letter may indeed be read; but in consequence of the far fetched words you have employed, the meaning is by no means very intelligible. You certainly do not excel in letter-writing, and fail chiefly because you have too good a desire to show your acquirements. For the future, you should write unaffectedly, with clearness, using plain words, which would cost less trouble both to the writer and the reader.”*

Baber has had no occasion to complain of his son for any gross misconduct shown towards him. Humayun, on one occasion, had repaired to Dehli, and had there opened several houses which contained the treasure, and taken possession by force of the contents. “I certainly never expected such con­duct from him,” writes Baber, “and, being extremely hurt, I wrote and sent him some letters containing the severest reprehension.”* Humayun had com­mitted a guilt—nay, the highest crime against the State for which the Emperor, his father though, was only hurt and wrote “some letters containing the severest reprehension!” But unfortunately, not one of these letters has been preserved for us in the Memoirs of Baber, so as to be able to see the nature of the “severest reprehension.” It also goes to prove, how much Baber loved his son. It is said, once Humayun fell ill and his life was dispaired of. Abul Baka, a venerable and pious man told Baber, that in such cases God had sometimes granted a further lease of the dying man’s life in exchange for the most valuable thing possessed by a nearest and dearest friend of the invalid. Baber, without a moment’s hesitation, made a sacred vow to offer his own life for that of Humayun. The Omrahs entreated him to retract that terrible vow and offer the diamond taken at Agra, which had been reckoned the most valuable on earth. But he was inexorable. Mussul­man historians assure us, that Humayun almost immediately began to recover, and that, in propor­tion as he recovered, the health and strength of Baber visibly decayed. Baber died shortly after the recovery of Humayun. (Vide Memoirs of Baber p. 427 seq.)

Humayun’s character, as far as we can judge from these Memoirs, is irreproachable. But unalloyed goodness is a virtue, rarely to be found in mortals. He has, however, shown a weakness, which is the only black spot in his otherwise pure character. Baber, at his death-bed, besought him to be kind and forgiving to his brothers. (Vide text, p. 38) His brothers had been guilty of high treason and the grossest misdemeanor. Humayun not only forgave them on several occasions, but embraced them as his loving brothers. Prince Kamran is the most guilty of them all. At last being driven to exaspera­tion, Humayun was compelled to take recourse to a violent act. (Vide text, pp. 154-56). Prudent politicians will declare the action as the policy of self-preservation, while moralists will universally condemn it.

Calcutta, August 1904.