THE Commentaries of Bábar, originally written in Turkí, were translated into Persian in the middle of Akbar's reign, by 'Abdu-r Rahím, Khán Khánán, and are well known to the English reader by the admirable translation of Dr. Leyden and Mr. Erskine. The Persian translation was presented to the Emperor Akbar in the thirty-fourth year of his reign, 998 H. (1590 A.D.),* and the translator died in 1627 A.D., at the age of seventy-two.

Bábar's memoirs form one of the best and most faithful pieces of autobiography extant; they are infinitely superior to the hypo­critical revelations of Tímúr,* and the pompous declamation of Jahángír—not inferior in any respect to the Expedition of Xenophon, and rank but little below the Commentaries of Cæsar. They are equal in simplicity, and exhibit much less dissimulation than that celebrated work. The Emperor Jahángír states that he himself added some chapters to the work in the Turkí language, in which language Captain Hawkins, on his visit to Ágra in A.D. 1609, conversed with him. The language of Bábar's original is in the purest dialect of the Turkí language, not being so much intermixed as that of the other Turkish tribes with terms derived from the Arabic and Persian.

Zahíru-d dín Muhammad, surnamed Bábar, or the Tiger, was one of the descendants of Changíz Khán and of Tímúr; and though inheriting only the small kingdom of Farghána, in Bucharia, ultimately extended his dominions by conquest to Dehlí and the greater part of Hindustán; and transmitted to his descendants the magnificent empire of the Mughals. He was born in 1482, and died in 1530. Passing the greater part of his time in desperate military expeditions, he was a great general and a profound politician; he was an educated and accomplished man, and an eminent scholar in Arabic, Persian, and Hindí; he was also an elegant poet; a minute and fastidious critic in all the niceties and elegancies of diction; a curious and exact observer of the statistical phenomena of every region he entered; a great admirer of beautiful prospects and fine flowers; and, though a devoted Muhammadan in his way, a very resolute and jovial drinker of wine. Good-humoured, brave, munificent, sagacious, and frank in his character, he might have been a Henry IV. if his training had been in Europe; and even as he is, he is less stained, perhaps, by the Asiatic vices of cruelty and perfidy than any other in the list of Asia's conquerors. The work under notice is a faithful account of his own life and transactions, written, with some considerable blanks, up to the year 1508, in the form of a narrative, from which time to 1519 there is a blank; and it is continued afterwards, as a journal, till 1529.

The translation was begun by the learned and enterprising Dr. Leyden, and was completed and the whole of the valuable com­mentary added by Mr. W. Erskine, on the solicitation of the Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone and Sir John Malcolm. The greater part of the translation was finished and transmitted to England in 1817, but was only committed to the press in the course of 1826. It is illustrated by intelligent and learned notes, and by introductory dissertations, clear, masterly, and full of instruction. The preface to the translation contains a learned account of the Turkí language (in which these memoirs were written), the prevailing tongue of Central Asia—some valuable corrections of Sir William Jones's notices of the Institutes of Tímúr—and a very clear explanation of the method employed in the translation, and the various helps by which the great difficulties of the task were relieved. The first Introduction, however, contains much more valuable matter; it is devoted to an account of the great Tátár tribes, who, under the denomination of the Turkí, the Mughal, and the Manchu races, may be said to occupy the whole vast extent of Asia, north of Hindustán and part of Persia, and westward from China. The second Introduction contains a brief but clear abstract of the history of Mughalistán, from the time of Tímúr to Bábar, together with an excellent memoir of the map which accompanies the work, and an account of the geography of Bukhára.

The body of the work, independent of the historical value of the transactions which it records, abounds in statistical accounts which evidently display the monarch as a man of genius and observation. Modern travellers have agreed that his descriptions of Kábul and its environs, as well as of Farghána, and the countries to the north of Hindukush, are not to be exceeded for their fidelity and comprehensiveness.

The most remarkable piece of statistics, however, with which he has furnished us, is in his account of Hindustán, which he first entered as a conqueror in 1525. It occupies in the trans­lation twenty-five closely printed quarto pages; and contains, not only an exact account of its boundaries, population, resources, revenues, and divisions, but a full enumeration of all its useful fruits, trees, birds, beasts, and fishes, with such a minute descrip­tion of their several habitudes and peculiarities as would make no contemptible figure in a modern work of natural history—care­fully distinguishing the facts which rest on his own observation from those which he gives only on the testimony of others, and making many suggestions as to the means of improving, or trans­ferring them from one region to another.

He mentions, for instance, the introduction of the plantain at Kábul, where it was found to thrive very well, which shows the elevation at which it will grow; respecting which there has been some discussion in India. A few extracts from his graphic account, in which he exhibits all the prejudices of a fastidious Englishman, will not be deemed out of place here.

“Hindustán is situated in the first, second, and third climates, No part of it is in the fourth. It is a remarkably fine country. It is quite a different world, compared with our countries. Its hills and rivers, its forests and plains, its animals and plants, its inhabitants and their languages, its winds and rains, are all of a different nature. Although the Garmsíls (or hot districts), in the territory of Kábul, bear, in many respects, some resemblance to Hindustán, while in other particulars they differ, yet you have no sooner passed the river Sind than the country, the trees, the stones, the wandering tribes, the manners and customs of the people, are all entirely those of Hindustán. The northern range of hills has been mentioned. Immediately on crossing the river Sind, we come upon several countries in this range of mountains, connected with Kashmír, such as Pakhali and Shamang. Most of them, though now independent of Kashmír, were formerly included in its territories. After leaving Kashmír, these hills contain innumerable tribes and states, parganas and countries, and extend all the way to Bengal and the shores of the Great Ocean. About these hills are other tribes of men.”

“The country and towns of Hindustán are extremely ugly. All its towns and lands have a uniform look: its gardens have no walls; the greater part of it is a level plain. The banks of its rivers and streams, in consequence of the rushing of the torrents that descend during the rainy season, are worn deep into the channel, which makes it generally difficult and troublesome to cross them. In many places the plain is covered by a thorny brushwood to such a degree that the people of the parganas, relying on these forests, take shelter in them, and trusting to their inaccessible situation, often continue in a state of revolt, refusing to pay their taxes. In Hindustán, if you except the rivers, there is little running water. Now and then some standing water is to be met with. All these cities and countries derive their water from wells or tanks, in which it is collected during the rainy season. In Hindustán, the populousness and decay, or total destruction of villages, nay of cities, is almost instantaneous. Large cities that have been inhabited for a series of years (if, on an alarm, the inhabitants take to flight), in a single day, or a day and a half, are so completely abandoned that you can scarcely discover a trace or mark of population.”

“Hindustán is a country that has few pleasures to recommend it. The people are not handsome. They have no idea of the charms of friendly society, of frankly mixing together, or of familiar intercourse; they have no genius, no comprehension of mind, no politeness of manner, no kindness or fellow-feeling, no ingenuity or mechanical invention in planning or executing their handicraft works, no skill or knowledge in design or architec­ture; they have no good horses, no good flesh, no grapes or musk-melons, no good fruits, no ice or cold water, no good food or bread in their bazars, no baths or colleges, no candles, no torches, not a candlestick.”