The war in Tartary.

ON A.D.1740. Nad. 53. the last day of July the army reached the banks of the Oxus, and found on the river eleven hundred barges, which Nader Shah had ordered to be built, that he might convey his artillery and provisions into the Transoxan provinces: they continued their march with great rapidity, and arrived in ten days at the passes of Bokhara, where a number of chiefs and gover­nors submitted to the Shah’s generals, and paid homage to them as to his representatives.

In the mean while, the princes Riza and Ali, having passed the Oxus, advanced along the opposite bank, and spread a general terrour before them: but the Shah continued in Persia till the eighteenth of August, when he crossed the river in a sumptuous barge, which had been prepared for his reception. Soon after this, a bridge, which Nader had ordered to be built over the Oxus, was completed; a numerous army of Persians were in a short time assembled on the northern side of the river, and were marching in full array towards the metropolis of Mawaranahr: but the King of Turan had no inclination to give them battle, and sent his first Vizir to the Persian camp with the humblest offers of subjection. Nader Shah received the Vizir with great affa­bility, and, having presented him with a rich mantle, according to the custom of Asiatick princes, A.D.1740. Nad. 53. dismissed him with orders to conduct the King his master to the camp, and to assure him, that nothing but his immediate compliance could preserve himself from destruction, and his kingdom from ruin. The Tartarian Monarch was under a necessity of obeying these haughty commands: he had descended too low already to think of recovering his dignity, and he was too prudent to irritate, by his disobedience, a powerful adversary, whom he could not repel by force of arms.

The Persian army still continued their course, and encamped on the twenty-third of August at the distance of twelve miles from the city of Bokhára: on the next day in the afternoon, Abulfeiz, King of Turan, attended by his Vizirs and Cour­tiers, arrived at the camp; and, being admitted into the presence of Nader Shah, layed his diadem and other ensigns of royalty at the feet of the Conqueror. If this fortunate man showed a fierce and violent temper on other occasions, he certainly behaved at the present juncture with a noble moderation: he assigned the captive monarch a place in the council, and declared, that he meaned to restore him, as he had restored the Emperor of India, to his former dignity; but that he should fix the Oxus as the common boundary of the Tartarian and Persian empires, and annex to the latter all the districts lying to the south and west of that river, together with Balkh and its dependen­cies; in confirmation of which alliance, he pro­posed to marry his nephew Ali to a daughter of Abulfeiz: the Turanian had too much sense to object to a single proposal of his Conqueror, who could easily have forced him to consent, and who, with respect to him, had acted mildly and benevolently. After A.D.1740. Nad. 53. several amicable conferences, the two sovereigns advanced to Bokhara; where Nader restored the crown of Tartary to his cap­tive with great ceremony, and placed a diadem, set with pearls, upon his head, as a mark of his particular favour: he conferred upon him another honour, which was merely verbal; for, as the chief rulers of the Transoxan provinces had born only the simple title of Khan or Lord, he gave that of Shah, or King, to Abulfeiz, and his descendants. On the same day, the nuptials of Ali and the princess of Turan were celebrated with uncommon magnificence.

The next morning Nader Shah led his forces towards Kharezm, which, we may remember, was said in the Introduction to be an extensive king­dom lying on each side of the Oxus, near the place where it emptied itself into the Caspian, and containing a number of large cities and fortresses, which, from the advantage of their situation, were accounted impregnable. His view in visiting this country, was to make reprisals upon Ilbars, who then governed it, and who, during the Indian expedition, had made fre­quent incursions into Khorasan. This Chief was then in a castle, named Hezaresb, before which Nader appeared on the eighteenth of October; but, finding it very strongly fortified, and capable of resisting the most vigorous assaults, he thought it adviseable to make a pretence of marching toward Kheiva, the Capital of the province, justly concluding, that Ilbars would hazard a battle to save his metropolis. He was not disappointed; for the Kharezmian no sooner heard of his motions, than he left the fortress, and marched to Kheiva by another road, while Nader, expecting that A.D.1740. Nad. 53. event, returned through some passes in the mountains, and entirely precluded him from the hope of regaining Hezaresb. Ilbars, thus inter­cepted, retired in haste to a weaker castle, where he soon found it impossible to make any defence: he therefore, in a fit of despair, resolved to give the Persians battle, and advanced intrepidly to the field; but, after a short skirmish, he was driven back, and, leaving most of his men dead on the plain, saved himself with a few attendants in the fort: the conquerors began immediately to batter the walls, and, after a brisk fire for three days, made a considerable breach, and took the castle in a violent assault; yet even then the prince of Kharezm, deserted by his friends, and destitute of succour, had the madness to think of holding out singly against so formidable an enemy, and would not surrender, till some Persian soldiers dragged him by force before the Shah, who ordered him to be put to death, in revenge for the Persian envoys, who had been sent to summon him at Hezaresb, and whom he had inhumanly murdered.

Ilbars seems to have been a mere savage, who, without any talent necessary to form a General, had assumed the character of a warriour, and invaded Persia without any provocation, but was put to flight in every engagement, and received at last the punishment, which his folly, arrogance, obstinacy, and cruelty certainly deserved.

After this victory, the princes Ali and Riza obtained leave to retire to Meshed, where they intended to pass some time with Nasralla, whom they had not seen since his return from India; but Nader Shah stayed several days longer A.D.1740. Nad. 53. in Kharezm, in order to concert measures for the peaceable government of that principality, which he gave to a near relation of Abul­feiz, named Thaher, a nobleman of illustrious merit: after which arrangement he repassed the Oxus, and arrived at Meru in the middle of December. He made but a short stay in that city, and advanced with great expedition to his favourite castle of Kelat, which he had fixed upon as the place of his retreat, whenever his advanced age, and the completion of his military projects, should enable him to resign the throne, and pass the remainder of his life in a glorious retirement. He determined to provide this place with every thing requisite to make his solitude agreeable; consistently with which design, he caused a sumptuous palace to be raised in Kelat, together with elegant baths, temples, aqueducts, and houses for his officers and ministers: he ordered the treasures collected at Delhi to be transported into the castle, which was far the strongest hold in the Persian Empire. After these regulations he left Kelat, and, returning through a very agreeable country, reached Meshed at the close of the year.

Nader A.D.1741. Nad. 54. Shah entered the metropolis of his kingdom in triumph, and nothing was seen in the city but diversions and pageants, from the opening of the new year to the tenth of March, which day was solemnized with more than usual magnificence. He had, in the course of five years, subdued or put to flight as many Sovereign Princes*, conquered three flourishing kingdoms, A.D.1741. Nad. 54. and extended the boundaries of Per­sia, as far as Oxus to the north, and Indus to the east. His next object was to drive the Turks from the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, as he had already driven both them and the Rus­sians from the Cyrus and Araxes; but the death of his brother Zoheireddoula was yet unrevenged: he, therefore, had no sooner recovered from the fatigue of his last campaign, than he led his army towards the mountains of Shirvan. On the third of May, as he was riding through a a forest in Mazenderan, a musket-ball, fired from a distance, grazed his right arm, and struck his horse on the head, who fell immediately to the ground: the ball was aimed at Nader Shah by an assassin, who lay in ambush behind a tree, but, finding he had failed in his design, had fled with great haste, and hid himself in the thickest part of the wilderness. The prince Rizakuli was in his father’s train, and appeared to be much surprised at this accident: but many of the courtiers, who were present, suspected that the plot had been concerted by him, and, though the Persian author supposes him to be innocent, yet the frequent examples of these horrid attempts in the courts of Asia, and the confidence with which our own writers relate the story, may induce us to believe, that their suspicions of his guilt are not wholly groundless. It was reported, however, that a son of Dilaver, one of the barbarous chiefs mentioned in a former part of this narrative, was the contriver of the plot, and had suborned a desperate villain to fire at the Shah, when he should pass through that forest: the assassin was pursued, and, being taken by the Persian soldiers, was put to immediate death.

The A.D.1741. Nad. 54. conquest of Daghestan was effected with little difficulty; as most of the savage chiefs, alarmed at Nader’s approach, came to him at the head of their tribes, and made a promise of inviolable submission to their Conqueror and his descendants.

The A.D.1742. Nad. 55. first months of the new year were employed in receiving foreign embassies, and in negotiating a treaty with the Sultan Mahmud, by which Nader proposed to recover the whole province of Mesopotamia; and, having so considerably enlarged the Persian Empire, he intended to resign the crown, and retire to Kelat, where he had reposited all the treasures of India. Among the ambassadors, who arrived this year at the court of Meshed, was an Indian Emîr, sent by the Great Mogul with a congratulatory letter to the Shah on his victories in Tartary, and a curious piece of furniture, made of red sandal­wood, and carved in a most elegant manner: Nader accepted the present, and dismissed the Emîr, with one no less valuable for the Mogul, consisting of several vases adorned with gems; at the same time he sent back a band of musi­cians and dancers, whom he had brought with him from Dehli, in order to instruct his subjects in the Indian musick and method of dancing, which he greatly admired. What that kind of musick was, it is impossible for us to determine; but we cannot help admiring the remarkable disposition of this singular man, who, with the fierceness of a warriour, had yet a taste for the polite and ornamental arts, and, while he was conquering an Empire, had the calmness to think of improving the musick of his nation.

The A.D.1742. Nad. 55. rest of the year was spent in reducing the northern provinces, and principally in settling the affairs of Georgia and Circassia.

Nader A.D.1743. Nad. 56. Shah, perceiving that the Sultan meaned only to trifle with him, and being now at leisure to renew hostilities, marched at the open­ing of the year towards Bagdad, and took several considerable places in his way. Ahmed sent him a submissive message, and entreated him to reflect on the ruin which he should bring on himself, if he were to abandon a City, which the Sultan had expressly ordered him to defend. The Turkish court, on the other hand, were making preparations for an obstinate war, and had sent a decision of the Mufti to all their Asiatick gover­nors, importing, that It was lawful to slay or make prisoners the inhabitants of Persia, as here­ticks and opposers of the true faith. On hearing this, the Shah, despairing at that time to reduce the governor of Bagdad, advanced with all possible speed to Musel, a large and opulent City, then governed by Hussein, who had lately been reinforced by the basha of Aleppo with all his troops. He pursued his operations with great rapidity, raised a strong bridge over the river, and, having completed his lines, began to bom­bard the citadel. The garrison supported a sharp fire for several days, but at length Hussein Pasha expressed an inclination to capitulate, and sent two officers to the Persian camp with an offer of amicable terms, but represented to him the dangers to which a Turkish governor was exposed, who should surrender a City committed to his care, and desired a respite for a few months to obtain the consent of his court, and to persuade them to make a peace with the Shah at any rate. “Nader, says the Persian historian, accepted these pro­“posals, and A.D.1743. Nad. 56. consented to desist from any fur­ther hostilities, till an answer could be received from Constantinople.” Accordingly he raised the siege, and amused himself, in this interval, with visiting the places near Bagdad, which had been rendered sacred by the residence of Ali, and the first successors of Mahomed. In the mean time great civilities passed between him and the governor of Bagdad; and a variety of presents were interchanged, as tokens of their mutual regard. Ahmed prepared a magnificent barge, in which Nader Shah passed the Tigris, and, with an indolence unworthy of his active nature, condescended to dispute upon subjects of religion with the Mahomedan priests, who took care to be always of his opinion. This irresolute and imprudent conduct, in a man so bold and impetuous, must needs be a matter of astonishment to the reader: it will, therefore, be necessary to explain the causes of it.

If Nader Shah had perished in the forest of Mazenderan on the third of May 1741, his course would have been completely glorious; and he would have left a most flourishing Empire to a valiant and active Prince, who, in all probability, would have followed the example of his father: but his glory was now declining, and his life seemed likely to be closed in weakness and misery. It had been suggested to him by some of his courtiers, that the villain, who fired at him in the forest, had been suborned by his eldest son Riza; and some of our travellers relate this story as an indisputable fact*: but whether the suggestion A.D.1743. Nad. 56. were just or groundless, it is certain that Nader, in a fit of rage, ordered the Prince’s eyes to be torn out; the common, but inhuman, punishment for high crimes in Asia. His orders were no sooner executed, than he repented of his hasty passion; remorse, anguish, and despair succeeded to his wrath, and a disorder preyed upon his spirits, which gained new force every day. Conscious of his growing malady, he was desirous to conclude a peace with the Turks, and to seek some comfort from the retirement which he had so long meditated: but a circumstance, which happened the next year, roused him from his lethargy, and led him to make a last effort, which was not altogether unworthy of his for­mer character.

A A.D.1744. Nad. 57. Turkish commander, named Gemál Ogli, who was then at Cars in Armenia, which he had re­covered, sent circular letters to the principal officers of Persia, inciting them to revolt from the Usurper Nader, and to join the banners of Prince Sefi, the true heir to the crown. This Pretender, whose real name was Mohammed Ali, had for­merly gotten his bread in the city of Shuster, the ancient Susa, by begging in the dress of a dervise: one day a man, who gave him alms, observed that he resembled the Sefi family in his complexion, and the colour of his eyes; from which the beggar took the hint of a most impudent imposture, and told the people a piteous story of his misfortunes, assuring them, that he never had intended to reveal the secret of his birth, but that, since he was betrayed by his features, he found himself obliged to confess, that he was really the Prince Sefi. Upon this, so great a croud assembled round him every day, that the governor of Shuster was forced to drive him from the city; A.D.1744. Nad. 57. whence he proceeded to Bagdad, and was introduced to Ahmed as a prince of the house of Sefi: the governor, imagining that the heir to the throne of Persia, whether real or pretended, would be useful to his court, sent him to Con­stantinople, where he had apartments allotted to him in the palace, and a considerable revenue; but after the deposition of Sultan Ahmed in 1730, he was sent to Thessalonica, and afterwards to Lemnos, where he had lived many years neglected and despised, but was now summoned, and carried into Persia by the Turkish General. The letters of Gemal Ogli were brought to Nader, who immediately led his army to Abher, intend­ing to advance as far as Cars, whither, on account of several delays, he did not arrive till the end of July. The governor refused to sur­render, and Nader Shah, finding himself in no condition to compel him, made a feeble attempt to bombard the citadel, but the next day accepted the governor’s offer to give the Turkish court notice of his desperate situation, and press them to conclude a peace; upon which he left one of his generals to blockade the city, and retired into winter quarters at Berda.

At A.D.1745. Nad. 58. the beginning of March he advanced towards Erivan, but was attacked with so violent a disorder, that he was forced to be carried in a litter, and did not recover his strength till the middle of summer; at which time he was informed that Mohammed Pasha, the late Grand Vizir, was marching by the way of Erzerum with twelve other Bashas, at the head of a vast army, and that two more Turkish officers were hastening through Diarbecr to join them with all their forces. Nader seemed to be transported with A.D.1745. Nad. 58. joy at this intelligence, hoping by one decisive blow to terminate his dispute with the Turks, and either to crown his labours with a victory, or to end in the field of battle a life, which was now become a burden to him: he therefore sent his son Nasralla to prevent the junction of the two Turkish armies, and, having appointed the princes Imamkuli and Ibrahim governors of Khorasan and Irák in his absence, proceeded by forced marches, and on the twenty-eighth of July encamped in the same plain, where he had defeated Abdalla ten years before. The next day Mohammed appeared with an hundred thousand horse, and forty thousand foot, but he marched very slowly, and pitched his tents in the evening at the bottom of a mountain. On the thirtieth, both armies advanced into the plain; but the whole day was spent in slight skirmishes, in which the Turks generally retired with loss. Mohammed must have been either ignorant of Nader’s infirmity, or timid to the last degree, for if he had made a bold attack on this day, it would probably have been suc­cessful; but, alarmed at the very name of Nader Shah, and thinking his troops unable to oppose the hardy veterans, who had learned the force of discipline in the battle of Karnal, he thought it prudeut to sound a retreat, and retired with such silence and expedition, that a detachment of Persians, who were sent to examine the Turkish camp, were surprised to find it deserted: but the janissaries, conscious of their own valour, and eager to engage their enemies, began to murmur at the remissness of their commander; and his council were apprehensive of a general mutiny, if he should delay to lead them back into the field.

On A.D.1745. Nad. 58. the ninth of August a letter was brought to Nader Shah from the prince Nasralla, informing him of a complete victory, which he had gained over the Basha’s, who were march­ing from Diarbecr, and whom he had intercepted in a plain near Musel. The King was highly pleased with this letter, and sent it to Mohammed by one of the Turkish prisoners, who had no sooner reached the camp, than he heard a loud noise, and presently discovered, that the soldiers had revolted, and put their General to death. By this time the Persians had advanced close to the Turkish camp, and, perceiving the disorder of the enemy, attacked them on all sides: the Turks fled in confusion; and, while some of Nader’s troops were engaged in pursuing them, the rest seized their artillery, tents, and ammu­nition: twelve thousand janissaries were slain, among whom were several officers of distinction. Nader Shah stayed a few days in this place to refresh his army, and to divide the spoils among them; after which he led them to Hamadan, and thence proceeded to Ispahan, which he did not reach till the close of the year, as he made a long stay in some of the principal towns, in order to regulate the affairs of his Empire. In his way he received an ambassador from the King of Khoten, who had sent a valuable present to Nader Shah, with a letter of congratulation upon all his victories, in which he took occasion to request, that a proper officer might be sent to fix the boundaries of their respective dominions: the Shah readily complied with his request, and dis­missed the ambassador with a present of nine Arabian horses, and a cimiter set with jewels. This prince was descended from Genghizkhan, and had been raised by his merit to the throne of A.D.1745. Nad. 58. Khoten, while his brother reigned in the king­dom of Khata; both which countries are usually mentioned together by the Asiatick writers, and reach from the northern frontiers of China to the territories of Balkb, which Nader Shah had lately annexed to the empire of Persia.

Nader A.D.1746. Nad. 59. had now baffled the last effort of his most dangerous enemies; and, as his disorder grew daily upon him, he was very desirous of making an honourable peace, and of hastening to that retirement, which had been his chief object for several years. In the middle of March, therefore, he sent an offer of accommodation to the Turkish court, who listened eagerly to his pro­posals; but the whole year was spent in nego­tiations, and peace was not concluded till January 1747, A.D.1747. Nad. 60. in the sixtieth year of Nader’s life. As he had no further intentions of renewing the war, he dropped his two articles relating to the mosque at Mecca, which, as we observed before, were only intended to amuse the Turks before the expedition against Candahar; and the Porte, on the other hand, consented to protect the Persian pilgrims, to set their prisoners at liberty, and to relinquish their claim to the provinces of Irak and Azarbigian, one district of which was ceded to the Sultan as a free gift, and as a mark only of the Shah’s amicable intentions.

While Nader was preparing to visit the place of his birth, and had thoughts of resigning the diadem to his son Nasralla, he received news, that a noble Persian, named Taki Khan, to whom he had assigned the government of Fars, had declared himself independent of his benefactor, and revolted A.D.1747. Nad. 60. openly; in which he was soon imitated by the governors of some other provinces. This intelligence drove him to a degree of fury, which can scarce be conceived: he put to death a great number of his governors and ministers, upon the slightest suspicion of their guilt; and, not satisfied with destroying the leaders of the rebellion, he cut off whole cities, and forced the greatest number of his subjects to seek a refuge in the mountains and deserts. After he had celebrated the Nurûz in the city of Kerman, he advanced to Meshed, which he found in a manner deserted, and the whole province ripe for revolt: his madness was now raised to the highest pitch; he sent Nasralla, his grand­son Shahrokh, and the other princes, to the castle of Kelat, resolving in the mean time to exterminate the rebels without mercy.

It was not long before he heard that the province of Segestan had revolted; upon which he sent his nephew Ali to reduce it to submission, under the guidance of an old and faithful officer named Tahmasp. The young prince, eager to possess the treasures of his uncle, and panting for the delights of a throne, proposed to his guide to join the Segestanians, and depose the Tyrant, whose age and infirmities rendered him incapable of reigning: the old man was shocked at the idea, and dissuaded the prince from so base an attempt. Ali dissembled his displeasure; but in a few days the person, who had occasioned it, was no more: he poisoned Tahmasp, and caused himself in several provinces to be pro­claimed King of Persia; but as the life of Nader Shah was a great obstacle to his designs, he des­patched three of his officers in order to remove it.

Nader A.D.1747. Nad. 60. had notice in a short time of this unnatural rebellion; and, as his presence alone could have any chance of suppressing it, he left Meshed at the end of May, to which he never returned.

On Sunday, the eighth of June, he encamped at a place called Fatehabad, or The mansion of victory, where, fatigued with his long march, oppressed with years, sunk in despair, he retired early to his tent, and slept till mid­night; at which time the three assassins sent by Ali, who had also bribed the officers upon guard, entered the tent, and in a few minutes put an end to a life, which had been devoted to destroy the lives of others*.

Thus fell, at the age of sixty years, NADER­KULI, the Deliverer of Persia, and Conqueror of India; who, from an humble station, had raised himself to a degree of power, at which few monarchs by birth have ever arrived. He seems to have united the talents of a complete General, and an able Politician; and, though he had not the advantages of learning, yet appears to have had a taste for true magnificence, and would probably, had he lived in happier times, have encouraged the arts of peace, and been no stranger to the charms of society; but the darling object of his life, to which he sacrificed every other pursuit, and devoted all the powers of his mind and body, was the Art of War, in which he became equal to the greatest Commanders of Asia, and may justly stand upon a level with Cyrus or Tamerlane. They, who form a notion of his character from the various narratives, which have been printed in Europe, are apt to consider him in no other light, than as a fearless Barbarian, who surmounted every difficulty, and overthrew all his opposers, by the dint of mere valour and hardiness; but, on a nearer view of his exploits, they will seem to contain something more than brutal heroism, and to have been no less wisely concerted than vigorously performed. His great project of delivering his country was executed with a regu­larity and prudence, that can be surpassed only by the celerity of his motions, and the vigour of his acts. If we throw a veil over his latter years, in which he was rather to be pitied than condemned, we shall see nothing in his life, but what was noble and laudable: he had neither the rashness of Alexander, the insatiable ambition of Cæsar, the inflexible obstinacy of Charles the Twelfth, nor the vices of his illustrious rival Peter the Great; he resembled rather that real Hero, Gustavus Vasa, who, to use the words of an excellent writer, “left the forest where he lay concealed, and came to deliver his coun­try*:” like Vasa, he was raised to the throne of the Empire, which he had freed from oppres­sion; like Vasa, he changed the religion of his subjects; but he did not, like Vasa, reign happy and beloved to an advanced old age.

Early in the morning the body of the king was exposed in the camp; upon which the leaders of the army, after a long debate, thought it adviseable to declare for Ali, and invite him to the seat of his empire: but Ahmed, a valiant officer, who had always been attached to Nader, made a bold effort to revenge his death, and rushed at the head of his troop against the other chiefs, but was soon repulsed, and retreated in despair to Candahar.

Ali, having received a full account of the transaction, marched with great eagerness into Khorasan, and sent a body of men under able commanders to seize the treasures of Kelát, and the persons of the young princes his cousins.

As the castle of Kelát was very strong, it would have been almost impossible to have taken it by storm; but an accident saved them the trouble of a regular siege: one of the soldiers in the fortress, wanting some fresh water, descended by a ladder, which he imprudently left on the wall, and did not return, till he found the castle full of Ali’s men, and heard the cries of the garrison. The princes Nasralla, Imam­kuli, and Shahrokh mounted their horses, and escaped by another gate, intending to fly towards Meru: they had scarce ridden twenty-seven miles, when they were overtaken by a troop of their enemies, by whom Imamkuli and Shahrokh were made prisoners; but Nasralla, having killed a soldier who had seized his bridle, galloped to Meru, where he hoped to find a sure refuge; but the inhabitants of the city, among whom Ali’s gold had already spread its infection, put him in chains, and sent him instantly to Meshed.

Ali made a solemn entry into the capital of Khorasan, where his first act of benevolence was to deprive the princes of their lives, which were no longer dear to them: the unfortunate Riza, together with Nasralla, Imamkuli, and sixteen others of the imperial family, were massacred; but Shahrokh, a beautiful boy about fourteen years old, was kept privately in a tower, whence Ali designed to bring him to the throne, and to assume the regency during his minority, if he should find the Persians determined to oppose his own government.

On the twenty-fifth of June he was crowned by the name of ALI SHAH, and began his reign by dispersing the spoils of India, which his uncle had collected in Kelát. He sent his brother Ibrahim to Ispahan, and appointed him governor of Irak; after which he committed the care of his Empire to his ministers, and, fixing his abode sometimes in Mazenderan, sometimes in Khorasan, led a life, the least worthy of a powerful King, sensual, voluptuous, effeminate.

In the mean while Ibrahim, who had repined in secret at the success of his brother, was con­certing measures to undermine his power: his liberality soon drew to Ispahan a number of chiefs and governors, who had taken a just offence at the conduct of Ali; and, when he had collected a force sufficient to try his strength, he marched against the city of Carmanshah, which he took by storm, and afterwards bent his course towards Azarbigian: but in a plain between Zenjan and Sultania, he was met by Ali Shah, who, roused from his indolence by the news of this revolt, had advanced by forced marches to intercept his progress. The two armies soon came to an action; but in the heat of it a great number of Ali’s men went over to the enemy, and the rest were soon put to flight. Ali was made prisoner, and condemned to lose his eyes by his brother, whom, contrary to the custom of Persian monarchs, he had permitted to enjoy his sight.

Ibrahim had in a short time secured to his interests most of the provinces and chief cities, and found himself at the head of an hundred and twenty thousand men: but the young prince Shahrokh, who was favoured by the Khorasanians, stood between him and the throne; and, as the treasury was at Meshed, he despaired of being fixed in his government, till he had in his power the person and wealth of his rival: with this intent he acted with a deep dissimulation, and sent one of his ministers to Meshed, with a declaration, that Shahrokh was now the undoubted heir of two royal families, of Sefi by his mother, and of Nader Shah, by his father; that Ibrahim was determined, therefore, to place him on the throne of his ancestors at Ispahan, where the former Kings of Persia had resided. The Chiefs of Khorasan agreed, that the young prince was heir to the crown, but sent word to Ibrahim, that it would be necessary to finish the ceremonies of the corona­tion without any further delay: they accordingly went to the prince in the tower, where he had been imprisoned, and paid homage to him, as their lawful sovereign; but the amiable youth, justly apprehensive of the dangers which sur­round a throne, and of which at his tender age he had been a mournful witness, entreated them not to expose him to a state of such splendid misery: they would not listen to his request, and, after repeated oaths of fidelity, brought him to the palace; where on the twentieth of September he took the scepter of Persia with a trembling hand.

Ibrahim, finding that his project had failed, had no resource left but open rebellion; he caused himself to be proclaimed King, and ordered money to be struck in his name: but his undiscerning prodigality brought him to destruc­tion; he chose his ministers among the meanest of his officers, and raised the most ignorant soldiers to the highest commands in his army: his best troops, justly incensed at this conduct, either went over to Shahrokh, or returned to their native countries; so that in a short time he was almost deserted, and had scarcely strength enough to take possession of Kom, which it would have been better for him never to have taken. He was betrayed by his guards to the inhabitants of this city, who sent him in chains to Meshed, along with his brother Ali, whom he had kept in his palace: the officer, who conducted the prisoners, thinking to recommend himself to the new king, slew Ibrahim in the way, and carried his head to Shahrokh, who turned aside from the bloody sight; but, when he cast his eyes upon Ali, his regard for the memory of the princes, whom that monster had murdered in cold blood, overcame his natural sweetness of temper, and he gave orders for him to be immediately strangled.

There was now a prospect of tranquillity in the Persian empire; as the Shah had every quality, which promised a happy reign: but there was one more pretender to the crown, a grand­son of Soliman III. whom Shahrokh, perhaps imprudently, had suffered to live unconfined. This barbarian concerted a plot against the Shah, and, having by bribes and promises gained access to his apartment, tore out the eyes of the unfor­tunate king, who in a lower station might have preserved both his sight and his happiness. So cruel an act could not be long unpunished: the ruffian was seized, and put to death with every aggravated circumstance of torture; but as the blindness of Shahrokh made him incapable, by the laws of Persia, of reigning, he retained only the name of King, whilst all his affairs were con­ducted by his ministers: how long he lived, it has not been in our power to learn; but it is easy to conceive that his life could be neither long nor happy, unless he spent it in retirement, where a sense of religion might support him with hopes of a better state.

Thus, in a period of sixty years, one of the most beautiful Empires in the world was so drenched in blood, and so torn with calamities that not one heir to the diadem remained in a capacity to wear it; and a single man of no high birth, in a life of the same length, delivered his country, raised it to the highest pitch of grandeur, and left it at his death no less distressed than ever: such are the miseries which naturally flow from an immoderate love of dominion; such are the fruits of military glory, and such the fate of those kingdoms, whose rulers prefer the pride of conquest to the calmer joys of peace and to the welfare of their people.

Persia has since been divided into a number of independent governments, and will probably continue in that state, till Kerim, who reigns in the midland provinces, or Abdalla, whose dominions extend from the Caspian to the borders of India, or some other of the rival powers, shall have the good, or bad, fortune to reduce the whole Empire to subjection.

The fate of India has not been better; and from Candahar to cape Comorin, from the straights of Kupele to the mouth of the Ganges, there has been a continual scene of havock and confusion for a course of years: the vast dominions of the Mogul were dismembered; the Rajas and other Indian princes refused to continue their alle­giance to the Emperor, and a descendant of Tamerlane, who still retains the title of Shah Alem, or, King of the World, was protected in the tents of European officers, whose employers also had their share in the ruins of Indostan. Who knows, but that the time may come, when the richest king­doms of Asia will be provinces of European Empires, and when the light of truth and reason will be spread over the finest part of the habitable globe?

The actions related in this volume have had a greater influence over the affairs of Europe than we may be apt to imagine; for if Nader Shah had lost his life, which he so wantonly exposed, in his youth, the whole face of Asia, and of those European kingdoms, which are connected with it, would have been different: if Persia had not been delivered by this daring genius, the Russians would still have possessed the rich provinces, which border on the Caspian lake, and would, no doubt, have attacked the Turks on the side of Georgia, which might have given them the dominion of the Black Sea, and might have opened a passage to Constantinople itself; or, on the other hand, the Turks, being possessed of all Media, the ancient kingdom of Cyrus, might have driven the Russians from Asia, and com­pelled them to retire beyond the mountains of Caucasus; lastly, if India had not been drained of its treasures in 1738, the Mogul Empire would not have been weakened and divided, the Nawáb or Viceroys would not have declared themselves independent of the Emperor, and consequently our settlements on the Ganges would still have depended for protection on the court of Dehli.