Of the Author of the Manuscript and its History.

Little is known of Āhmad-ul-Umri, the author of the story told in the manuscript, beyond what is stated in the note appended to it by Mir Jā’afar Ali, the copyist. From that it appears that he was in the service of Sharaf-ud-din Hussain Mirza, who was a commander of five thousand at Akbār’s Court and was on his mother’s side himself a descen­dant of Timur. He rebelled in A. D. 1563 and died of poison in A. D. 1581. Āhmad-ul-Umri does not appear to have been involved in his ruin, and he lived until the early years of Jahāngir’s reign. He seems to have taken a particular interest in the Emperor Sher Shāh, and was responsible for a collection of his firmāns, but beyond this nothing is known of him. It will be evident, however, that he was gifted with a poetic, if, to the Western mind, a somewhat turgid imagination, and that at times he strikes out phrases of great originality and beauty. Though a Muhammadan, he had studied Hindu thought, and, though an Oriental, he had views on women almost European in their liberality. It is impossible not to regret that there is little or no chance of further acquaintance with this prose poet, this romantic historian, this Oriental feminist.

‘This woeful history was written down in the forty-third year of the reign of Sultan Jalāl-ud-din Akbār Shah—may God preserve his kingdom for ever.’ So Āhmad-ul-Umri records in the beginning of the manuscript, thus giving the date of writing as A. D. 1599. The original manuscript passed to his grandson, Fulād Khān, who had a friend, Mir Jā’afar Ali. He found the story so interesting that, after reading it at Agra in the year A. D. 1653, he made a copy of it and secured three of the pictures, with which the original was embellished, and apparently had others painted for his own copy. He inserted in the text certain verses of Sa’ib, a well-known Persian poet of Jahāngir’s reign.

At the end of Mir Jā’afar Ali’s copy are various seals, seemingly those of later owners of the manuscript. None of these is, however, decipherable, but there is one legible signature and one legible note. The signature is that of Māhbub Ali, a well-known Muhammadan divine of Delhi, who died in 1831. He was a man of great learning, and his possession of the manuscript shows that he must have attached considerable value to it. On his death it passed to a lady of his family, with whom the family of Jemadār Ināyat Ali of the Bhopāl State was connected, and from whom Ināyat Ali bought it in Āgra. He added to it very appropriately the final couplet

‘Seek not on earth my grave when life depart:
My sepulchre is every faithful heart.’