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Chapter 2 – First Reign of Humayun

Baber left three sons besides Humayun; Camran, Hindal, and Mirza Askari62.

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Arrangements of the king’s brother

Camran was governor of Cabul and Candahar, and the other two were unemployed in India. From his having assigned no shares to his younger children, it is probable that Baber did not intend to divide the empire: but Camran showed no disposition to give way to his brother; and as he was in possession of a strong and warlike country among the hereditary subjects of his family, he had a great advantage over Humayun, who could not assemble an army without evacuating his new and disaffected provinces.

Separation of Cabul Pram India

In these circumstances, Humayun thought it prudent to yield with a good grace, and give up the Panjab and the country on the Indus, in addition to Camran’s former territories. At the same time he gave the government of Sambal to Hindal, and that of Mewat to Mirza Askari. By the cession to Camran, Humayun was left to govern a new conquest, while he was deprived of the resources by which it had been gained, and by which it might have been retained; but as he still possessed Baber’s veteran army, and profited by the impression of his power, the effects of the dismemberment did not at first appear.

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Afghan insurrections in India

Humayun was engaged in the siege of Calanjer, in Bundelcand, when he received intelligence that Baban and Bayazid, the Afghan chiefs, whose party was formerly broken up by Baber, were again in rebellion in Juanpur. He defeated and dispersed this assemblage; and then went against the hill fort of Chunar, near Benares, at that time held by his future rival, Shir Khan.

1532, AH 939

Shir Khan submitted on condition of retaining the fort, and Humayun returned to Agra.

Disputes with Bahadur Shah, king of Guzerat

1532, AH 940

Some time before this period, a brother-in-law of Humayun’s, who had been engaged in plots against his life and government, had taken refuge with Bahadur Shah, king of Guzerat; and the refusal of that monarch to comply with Humayun’s demand for his surrender led to irritation and hostile feelings between the two kings. Bahadur, whose native kingdom always occupied a high rank among those formed out of the fragments of the empire of Delhi, had lately extended his power much beyond its former limits. The kings of Candesh, Berth., and Ahmednagar had agreed to do him homage for their crowns; and he had completely conquered the kingdom of Malwa, and annexed it to his own.

While his discussion with Humayun was at its height, Ala u din, the uncle of Sultan Ibrahim Lodi, who acted so conspicuous a part in the former reign, having quitted the residence assigned to him by Baber, in Badakhshan, threw himself on the protection of the king of Guzerat; and Bahadur,

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whose family bad risen to greatness under the house of Lodi, and who had himself found an asylum at the court of Ibrahim, being at once incited by favour for his hereditary patrons, resentment at Humayun, and pride in his own power and prosperity, was tempted into measures as inconsistent with sound policy as with justice. Without any open declaration of war with Humayun, he liberally supplied Ala u din with money, and enabled him, in a very short time, to assemble a large force, and to send it against Agra, under his son, Tatar Khan.

1534, AH 941,

This army, so hastily collected, was as speedily dispersed; and Tatar Khan fell in battle, at the head of a division which remained faithful in the general desertion.

Invasion and conquest of Guzerat

Encouraged by this success, or, perhaps, in pursuance of plans already determined on, Humayun marched from Agra to revenge the injury he had received from Bahadur Shah.

1534, November AH 941, Jamadi al awal

That prince was now at war with the rana of Mewar, and being entirely occupied by the siege. of Chitor, was particularly exposed to the attack of an enemy; but Humayun, moved by his remonstrances against the impiety of molesting a Mussulman prince while engaged in war with the infidels, or influenced by his own dilatory habits, retarded his march, until the place was taken, and the besieger prepared to receive him in an intrenched camp at Mandesor.

1535, March AH 941, Ramzan

Bahadur had chosen this course on account of the superiority of his artillery, commanded by a Constantinopolitan Turk, and partly

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served by Portuguese prisoners. These advantages availed him little; his position was rendered untenable by the enemy’s cutting off his supplies; and, finding that famine would soon force him to surrender, he blew up his guns, and fled in the night, almost alone, to Mandu, leaving his army to provide for its own safety.

The army immediately dispersed, and Bahadur, being hard pressed at Mandu, continued his flight to Champaner, and thence to the sea-port of Cambay. Humayun was by this time in pursuit of him in person, with a light detachment, and reached Cambay on the evening of the day on which Bahadur had quitted it for his final place of refuge at Diu, in the most remote part of the peninsula of Guzerat63.

Having failed in his immediate object, Humayun quitted the peninsula, and proceeded to occupy the settled part of Guzerat. He soon obtained possession of the open country, but the year was well advanced before the hill fort of Champaner fell into his hands. It was scaled in the

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1535, August AH 942, Safar

night, with the help of steel spikes fixed in an almost perpendicular rock, by 300 chosen men, who climbed up, one by one, during an attack made on one of the gates by the army. Humayun himself was among the 30064.

Expulsion of the Moguls from Guzerat

Soon after the taking of Champaner, Humayun received accounts of the commencement of those troubles which ended in the successful revolt of Shir Khan. He set off for Agra, leaving his brother, Mirza Askari, in charge of his new conquests; and had scarcely quitted Guzerat, when dissensions broke out among the officers left behind; discontents and intrigues ensued, and ended in some project for raising Mirza Askari to the throne.

1535-6, AH 942

Bahadur profited by these disorders; and to such a state of weakness were the invaders reduced, that they gave up Guzerat, without a struggle; and evacuated Malwa, which was not even threatened.65

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Early life and rise of Shir Khan Sur

Humayun had not been long returned to his capital before he set out against Shir Khan66. This person67, who was soon to act so great a part, was the grandson of Ibrahim Khan, a native of Afghanistan. Ibrahim claimed to be descended of the family (though probably only of the tribe) of the kings of Ghor, and both he and his son Hasan were married into noble families of their own nation. Hasan held a jagir at Sahseram, in Behar, for the maintenance of 500 horse. He had two sons by his Afghan wife, Shir Khan and Nizam

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Khan; but he was led, by the arts of a concubine, to slight his wife, and neglect her children; and as soon as Shir Khan was of an age to act for himself, he left his father, went to Juanpur, and entered as a private soldier into the service of the governor. His father applied to the governor to send him home for his education, but Shir Khan urged that there were more opportunities of education at Juanpur than at Sahseram; and he seems to have been in earnest in his preference, for he devoted himself to study, made himself familiar with history and poetry, and could repeat all the poems of Sadi from memory, besides acquiring a general knowledge of other branches of information. He was subsequently restored to favour by his father, and managed his jagir, until Soliman, the son of his step-mother, had grown up. After this he found his situation so unpleasant, that he went off with his full brother, Nizam, and entered into the service of Sultan Secander, who was then king68. He remained at Delhi until his father died, when the jagir of Sahseram was conferred on him; and after the defeat of Sultan Ibrahim (1526), he was active in the service of Mohammed Shah Lohani, who set up for king of Juanpur and Behar. He was for some time in favour with this prince, but being again deprived of his paternal jagir by the intrigues of his half brother, Soliman, he left the court in disgust, and joined Junid, the governor of

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Juanpur, on the part of Baer (1527). By the assistance of Junid, he assembled a body of adventurers in the hills of Behar, recovered his own jagir, and carried on attacks and depredations on the territory of Mohammed Shah Lohani, professing himself a subject of Baber. About this time (1523), he waited on that monarch, accompanied him to Chanderi, and was confirmed in his possessions, and intrusted with a command in Behar, on the part of the emperor.

Next year (1529) Mahmud Lodi took Behar; and Shir Khan, either from necessity, or an inclination to the cause of his nation, joined the Lodi standard. On the dispersion of Mahmud’s army, he was one of the many chiefs who made their submission to Baber (April 1529)69. Mohammed Shah Lohani was now dead; and his son Jelal, who was a minor, in charge of his mother, and at that time accompanying the Bengal army, made his submission also, and was invested with considerable powers, on the part of the emperor. He was still, however, under the management of his mother, Dudu, over whom Shir Khan acquired such an ascendancy, that, on her death, Jelal was left in entire dependence on that ambitious chief.

He obtains possession of Behar,

Shir Khan now made himself master of Behar, and also obtained possession of the fort of Chunar, as, at this or some subsequent period, he did of the still more important fortress of Rohtas70.

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These rapid advances to power were made in the early part of Humayun’s reign; and as soon as that prince had settled his discussions with Camran, and bad time to attend to his interests in the provinces, he marched against Chunar, as has been already stated (1532). He, however, was content with the recognition of his title, and the service of a body of horse, under Shir Khan’s son; and this young man took an opportunity to withdraw when the king began his march against Bahadur Shah.

and conquers Bengal

Humayun, thenceforward, was fully occupied in Guzerat; and before his return, Shir Khan had got complete possession of Behar, had invaded Bengal, and had made great progress in the conquest of that rich kingdom.

His war with Bengal was occasioned by Jelal Lohani, who had called in the aid of the king of that country to relieve him from the control of Shir Khan, and, by his means, had at one time nearly succeeded in his object; but Shir Khan soon retrieved his losses, repelled the attack on himself, and laid siege to Gour, the capital of the hostile king.

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He was engaged in this enterprise when Humayun returned; and that prince could not fail to perceive, at once, the advantage of attacking him while thus embarrassed, and the danger of allowing him to consolidate his power.

Humayun marches against

With those views, he marched at the head of a powerful army from Agra, and advanced through a peaceful country, till he reached Chunar, near Benares.

Military features of Behar and Bengal

But Shir Khan was well aware of all the danger of his situation, and laid his plans for averting it with a foresight and combination of which we have no example in the previous history of India.

His first object was to gain time to complete the conquest of Bengal, before he should be disturbed by a new enemy. For this purpose he threw a strong garrison into Chunar, and provided it with all the means of retarding the advance of Humayun, by an obstinate defence.

This fort stands on a rock, close to the Ganges, and is, as it were, a detached portion of the Vindya mountains, which extend to the same river near Mirzapur. From that neighbourhood the hills recede westward, by the fort of Rohtas and Shirghati, and do not approach the river again until near Bhagalpur, after which they run straight south, leaving the Ganges at a great distance. These hills, therefore, cover the whole of the south-west of Behar and Bengal, and shut up the road along the south bank of the Ganges, in two places; one near Chunar, and the other at Sicragalli, east

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of Bhagalpur. The hills themselves are not high, but poor and covered with woods.

Siege of Chunar

As Humayun marched along the Ganges, and made use of that river to convey his guns and stores, it was necessary for him to begin with the siege of Chunar71. After investing the place, he endeavoured to mine such parts of the walls as were accessible on the land side, and also brought floating batteries, constructed for the purpose, to bear upon the face towards the river. Notwithstanding all these preparations, his attack failed; the garrison, however, having already held out for several months, and knowing that they had no prospect of relief, at length surrendered. The siege had been conducted by Rumi Khan, the Constantinopolitan Turk, who brought Bahadur Shah of Guzerat’s ordnance to so high a state, and who had since entered into the service of Humayun; and so much importance was attached to the knowledge of the service of artillery in those days, that the right hands of all the gunners in the garrison, to the number of 300, were cut off, either

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to disable them for the future, or in revenge for the loss they had occasioned.

After the taking of Chunar, Humayun pushed his march along the Ganges. Before reaching Patna, he was met by Mahmud, king of Bengal, who had just been driven from his dominions, and was still suffering from a wound he had received in his last defeat.

As he approached the defile of Sicragali, he sent on a strong detachment to take possession of it. They found it already occupied by Jelal Khan, the son of Shir Khan, who attacked and repulsed them with considerable loss. Humayun hastened on with his main body to retrieve this check, but was agreeably surprised to find the pass deserted, and the road open to the capital of Bengal.

Shir Khan’s plan for resisting the invasion

It was no part of Shir Khan’s plan to cope with the superior of force Humayun in this stage of the campaign. His design from the first was to retire to the hilly tract on the south-west; and with this view he had removed his family, and all that he possessed of value, to Rohtas. The protracted siege of Chunar had enabled him to reduce Gour, and to defeat Mahmud in a conclusive battle. He had still required time to remove the captured treasure and stores to Rohtas, and to dispose of the open country in the manner that suited his views. Jelal Khan had therefore been instructed to delay Humayun at the pass, but to avoid any serious encounter, and to join his father in the hills.

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Taking of Gour by Humayun His difficulties during the rainy season

Humayun accordingly took possession of Gour72 without further opposition. But the rains had by this time attained their height: the Delta of the Ganges was one vast sheet of water; and in the country beyond the reach of inundation every brook and channel was become an impassable flood. It was impossible to carry on operations in Bengal, and scarcely less difficult to keep up a communication with upper India. This forced inactivity lasted for several months, during which time the spirit of the soldiers sank under the moist and sultry climate, and their numbers were thinned by the sickly season that follows the heavy rains. No sooner were the roads open, than they began to desert in numbers; and Prince Hindal, who had been left in North Behar, went off even before the rains had ceased.

Active operations of Shir Khan

Meanwhile Shir Khan issued from his retreat, took possession of Behar and Benares, recovered Chunar, laid siege to Juanpur, and pushed his detachments up the Ganges as far as Canouj. Thus, when the season for military operations commenced, Humayun found his communication with his capital again intercepted, and himself left with no alternative but to trust his new conquest to the charge of a weak detachment, and endeavour to

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force his way to Agra with the rest of his reduced army.

Retreat of Humayun

He for some time hesitated to adopt this decided measure, and the dry season was half over before he set out on his retreat. He sent on a considerable body before he himself began his march, under the command of Khan Khanan Lodi, one of Baber’s principal generals. By the time this force reached Monghir, it was surprised and defeated by a detachment sent by Shir, who was now as enterprising as he had before been cautious; and who, to show his confidence in the result of his operations, had already assumed the title of king.

Shir Khan assumes the title of king Intercepts Humayun on his retreat

If Humayun had not before had sufficient motives for extricating himself from his present situation, the accounts he was daily receiving of the progress of affairs at Agra must have filled him with impatience: but by the time he had passed Baxar, between Patna and Benares, he found that Shir Shah had raised the siege of Juanpur, and was come by forced marches to intercept his retreat. Shir Shah had made a march of thirty-five miles on that day, and Humayun was advised to attack him before his troops had time to refresh. The step seemed too hazardous to be adopted at once; and next day he found Shir intrenched in such a manner that he could neither be passed nor attacked with any prospect of success. Humayun, therefore, intrenched in his turn, and began to collect boats and form a bridge across the Ganges,

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so as to pursue his retreat along the opposite bank.

Surprises him, and disperses his army

Shir Shah, to whom every delay was an advantage, allowed him to go on for nearly two months; when, the bridge of boats being nearly completed, Shir Shah one day left his camp standing and occupied by a sufficient force to conceal his movement from the enemy, while he himself, with the choice of his army, made a secret march to the rear of Humayun’s position, and, returning in the night, attacked him in three columns about daybreak, and completely surprised his camp. Humayun had only time to leap on horseback, and, though himself disposed to make one effort, at least, against the enemy, he was urged by those around him to provide for his own safety; and one of his principal officers, seizing his reins, in a manner compelled him to make his way to the river-side. The bridge, as has been mentioned, was not finished; and as Humayun had not a moment for deliberation, he plunged at once into the Ganges. Before he reached the opposite bank his horse was exhausted, and sunk into the stream; and Humayun himself must have met with the same fate, if he had not been saved by a water-carrier who was crossing with the aid of the skin used to hold water, which he had inflated like a bladder, and which enabled him to support the king’s weight as well as his own. Thus rescued, Humayun pursued his flight, with a very small retinue, to Calpi, and thence proceeded to Agra, almost the whole of his army having been cut off by the enemy or drowned

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in the river. Humayun’s queen, whom it had been the object of his last exertion to save, had already been surrounded, and fell into the hands of the enemy: she was treated by Shir Shah with scrupulous delicacy and attention, and was sent on the first opportunity to a place of safety.

AH 946, Safer 6, 1539, June 26

This tremendous disaster took place in the end of June 153973.

Humayun’s presence, discomfited as he was, was of essential importance at Agra. While he was shut up in Bengal, Prince Hindal had begun to collect adherents at Agra, and being afterwards joined by the fugitives from Bengal, he went into open rebellion; while Prince Camran, on being applied to by the king’s representatives, immediately set out from Cabul, professedly to support Humayun’s interests, but in reality to be at hand to profit by any opportunity of advancing his own. The arrival of Humayun put a stop to all those designs. He pardoned Hindal at the intercession of Camran; and the three brothers united their exertions to arrest the progress of their common enemy.

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While Humayun was occupied in repairing his losses, Shir Shah contented himself with retaining his acquisitions in Hindostan, and proceeded to recover possession of Bengal, and to put all his former territories into a state of order.

1540, April 996, Zil Caadah

Eight or nine months were employed on both sides in these transactions. Towards the end of the Mahometan year, Humayun once more moved from Agra, his own army being strengthened by a reinforcement of 3000 men belonging to Camran, who himself retired to Lahor.

Second campaign

By this time Shir Shah had reached the Ganges opposite Canouj; and both parties seemed unwilling to offer an advantage to the other; until at length Sultan Mirza (a prince of the family of Tamerlane who had before been in rebellion) deserted from Humayun’s camp with his followers; and the example was so likely to be followed, that Humayun determined to bring the contest to an issue, and crossed the Ganges, by a bridge of boats which he had con strutted.

Final defeat of Humayun 1540, May 16 AH 947, Moharram 10 His flight

A general action ensued, in which Humayun’s army was entirely defeated and driven into the Ganges. Humayun himself was in imminent danger: his horse was wounded; and he must have been killed or taken, if he had not fortunately found an elephant, on which he mounted: even then the driver could not be prevailed on to attempt to swim the Ganges; and the king was obliged to throw him from his seat on the neck, and give his place to an eunuch whom he had found on the elephant, and who now guided the animal

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across the stream. The opposite bank was too steep for the elephant to ascend; and Humayun must still have perished, if two soldiers, who happened to have gained that part of the shore, had not tied their turbans together and thrown one end to him, so as to enable him to make good his landing. Before long he was joined by his brothers, the princes Hindal and Askeri, and also by some troops, and all together made their way to Agra, after a narrow escape from being plundered by the villagers on their road.

He arrives at Lahor 1540, July 5 AH 947, Rabi al Awal

All hope of further resistance was now at an end; and they had scarcely time to remove the royal family and the most portable part of the treasures from Agra and Delhi, and to escape to Camran at Lahor.

Even there Humayun was no welcome guest. Camran was equally afraid of being supplanted by him at home, and of being involved in his quarrel with Shir Shah, and lost no time in making his peace with the conqueror, to whom he ceded the Banjo”), and retired, himself, to Cabul, leaving Humayun to provide as he could for his own safety.

1540, end of October AH 947, Jamadi al Awal Fails in an attempt on Sind

The deserted monarch turned his thoughts to Sind, the province which adjoined to Camran’s territories on the south. It was in the hands of Husen, the head of the family of Arghun, who had been driven out of Candahar by Baber; and as it had once belonged to Delhi, Humayun hoped that he might still find some means of inducing it to recognise his authority.

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But there was nothing in Humayun’s character to promise him such an ascendancy.

Though not deficient in intelligence, he had little energy; and, though free from vices and violent passions, he was no less devoid of principles and affections. By nature he was more inclined to ease than ambition; yet as he had been brought up under Baer, and accustomed to bodily and mental exertion, he never was entirely wanting to the exigencies of his situation, or quite lost the advantages of his birth and pretensions, though he never turned them to the best account.

He passed into the Arghun territories through Uch; but after a year and a half of fruitless negotiations, and no less fruitless hostilities (during which he attempted the sieges of Bakkar and Sehwan), he found his funds expended, and the resources of the country exhausted, and was deserted by the adventurers he had collected, just as Husen Arghun. was advancing to attack him.

Seeks refuge in Jodpur; which is refused

In this extremity he fled to Uch, and resolved, as a last resource, to throw himself on the protection of Malden, raja of Marwar, whom he supposed to be favourably disposed towards him; but when, after a journey over the desert, in which he lost many of his followers from thirst and fatigue, he had reached the neighbourhood of Jodpur, he found that the raja was much less inclined to assist him than to deliver him up to his enemies, and was obliged again to seek comparative safety in the dreary sands from which he had just

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emerged. His present object was to make his way to Amercot, a fort in the desert not far from the Indus; and in this journey he had a more desolate tract than ever to pass, and had greater evils to encounter than any he had yet experienced. Before he quitted the inhabited country, the villagers repelled all approaches to their water, which was to them a precious possession; and it was not without a conflict and bloodshed that his followers were able to slake their thirst. And all this was but a prelude to scenes of greater distress.

Horrors of his march through the desert

His small train was encumbered by the presence of the women of his family; and they had already left the last trace of human culture behind, and were struggling with thirst in the heart of the desert, when, one morning, after a night of fatigue, they perceived that their march was followed by a considerable body of horse; and the worst apprehensions seem to be realised when they found it was commanded by the son of Malden, and was sent to chastise their intrusion into his territory.

These new enemies closed in on the exhausted party, cut off those who attempted resistance, and drove the rest before them; while another detachment pushed forward and took possession of the wells, on which the only remaining hope even of temporary relief was founded.

The calamities of the fugitives seemed now drawing to a close; but the Rajputs had no intention of destroying them; and when all hope appeared to be extinguished, the raja’s son advanced

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with a white flag, and after reproaching them with having entered his father’s territory without leave, and with having killed kine in a Hindu country, supplied them with water for their immediate relief, and allowed them to proceed without further molestation. But the natural horrors of the desert still remained; several marches were still to be accomplished; and it was not till they had again endured the torments of thirst, and witnessed the miserable death of many of their companions, that Humayun, with seven mounted attendants, at length found entrance to Amercot. The straggling survivors of his party assembled at the same place.

Is hospitably received at Amercot

At Amercot he, at last, found a friend. The chief, whose name was Rana Persad, not only received him with respect and hospitality, but offered his assistance in another attempt to gain an establishment in Sind.

Birth of Akber

It was this period of depression and affliction that gave birth to Akber, a prince destined to raise the Indian empire to the greatest lustre that it ever enjoyed (October. 14. 1542). During his residence beyond the Indus, Humayun had been struck with the beauty of a young lady whom he saw at an entertainment given to him, in the women’s apartment, by his step-mother, the mother of prince Hindal. He found she was the daughter of a Seiad, a native of Jam, in Khorasan74, and formerly preceptor

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to that prince, that her name was Hamida, and that she was not yet betrothed; and so strong was the impression made on him, that, in spite of the angry remonstrances of his brother, he almost immediately married her. She was far advanced in her pregnancy during the march to Amercot, and it was with the utmost difficulty that she was conveyed through the hardships of the desert.

Second attempt on Sind

Humayun had marched for Sind the day before the birth of Akber. It is usual on such occasions for the father to give presents among his friends. Humayun had no presents to give, except one pod of musk, which he broke up when the news reached him, and distributed among his adherents, with a wish that his son’s fame might be diffused throughout the world like the odour of that perfume.

He was accompanied on this expedition by Rana Persad with a considerable body of Rajputs, and he had again collected 100 Moguls of his own. With this force they proceeded to Jun in Sind75. They took the place after an action with the officer in charge; and though harassed by attacks from the troops of the Arghuns, they were joined by the neighbouring Hindi princes, and formed an army estimated by the author of the Memoirs at 15,000 horse.

But Humayun’s ill fortune, or ill management, continued to attend him. The raja, after giving

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decisive proofs of his fidelity, was affronted by a Mogul, and got so little redress on complaining, that he quitted the camp in indignation, and was followed by all his Hindu friends.

Humayun consents to retire to Candahar

In consequence of this defection, Humayun was left almost alone to contend with Husen Arghun, who was advancing against him. He, nevertheless, threw up intrenchments, and defended himself as well as he could; till Husen Arghun, glad to get rid of him on any terms, consented to allow him to withdraw, and even to assist him on his journey, if he would immediately set out for Candahar. These terms being settled, Humayun began his march towards his native kingdom (July 9. 1543).

His dangers in that country

His younger brothers had long quitted him, after occasioning him much annoyance from their restless disposition; and Candahar was then held by Mirza Askari on the part of Camran. Humayun’s object probably was to bring that prince over to his side, or to take the chances of gaining possession in some other way. His professed intention, however, was to leave his son at Candahar, and proceed himself on a pilgrimage to Mecca76.

When he had reached Shal, about 130 miles south of Candahar, a horseman, sent by one of his

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old adherents, galloped up to his tent, sprung from his horse, and, without quitting the bridle, rushed into the tent, and announced that Mirza Askari was close at hand, with the design of making Humayun prisoner. So little was he prepared for this intelligence, that he had only time to place his queen on his own horse, and was obliged to leave her child to the compassion of his uncle. Mirza Askari soon after arrived. He pretended to have come with friendly intentions, treated his infant nephew with affection, and removed the whole party to Candahar (December. 14. 1543). Meanwhile Humayun, accompanied by forty-two followers, escaped to the Garmsir, and thence to Sistan, which was then under the Persian government.

His flight to Persia

He was received with great respect by the governor, and sent on to Herat, to wait the orders of the king of Persia. At the latter city he was joined by several of his partisans from Candahar.

Three years had elapsed since his first arrival in Sind, of which eighteen months had been occupied in his negotiations and military attempts in that country. Six months were spent in his journeys to the eastward of the Indus; and a year in his residence at Jun and his journey to Candahar. In his military affairs he had shown no want of personal courage, but great deficiency in enterprise; and he had gone through his subsequent calamities with cheerfulness that approached to magnanimity.

His temper was put to many trials; for, as delicacy and subordination cannot be kept up

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under great sufferings, he was often exposed to instances of ill humour and disrespect from his followers. He was more than once refused a horse when it was almost necessary to his safety. A boat, which he had prepared to convey his family, on his flight, across the Indus, was seized by one of his chiefs; and, during the terrible march to Amercot, an officer, who had lent his horse to the mother of Akber, on finding his own exhausted, compelled her to dismount; and Humayun was obliged to give her his, and proceed on foot till he met with a baggage camel. On the other hand, he sometimes showed little consideration for his followers. When he reached Amercot, and was under the protection of the raja, he suddenly seized the baggage of his adherents, and even ripped open their saddles to discover their property, of which he took half to supply his own exigencies. At the end of one of his first marches towards Jodpur, where he had lost many of his party in the desert, he loaded all the cattle, even his own horses, with water, to relieve the survivors who might be unable to come on; and as he went part of the way back himself, he found a Mogul merchant, to whom he owed a large sum of money, lying in the last stage of exhaustion, when, with a hard-hearted pleasantry, he refused to give him a drop of water until he had cancelled his debt before legal witnesses; and it does not appear that he ever relieved the poor man from the consequences of this forced remission.


62. The narrative of the reign of Humayun (where not otherwise specified) is taken from Ferishta, the Memoirs of Humayun, and Abul Fazl. Ferishta is peculiarly defective at this period, which was too remote to admit of his conversing with eyewitnesses, and too recent to allow him to benefit by written histories. The Memoirs are written by a person named Jouher, who was a menial servant of Humayun, and whose duty it was to carry an ewer for his master to wash his hands. 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 any thing in his master’s conduct required either concealment or apology. Abul Fazl was the well-known minister and favourite of Akber, and was a man of enlarged views and extraordinary talents; but he was a professed rhetorician, and is still the model of the unnatural style which is so much admired in India; he was, besides, a most assiduous courtier, eager to extol the virtues, to gloss over the crimes, and to preserve the dignity of his master and those in whom he was interested. His dates and his general statement of events are valuable; but he requires constant attention, not so much to guard against his barefaced partiality, as against the prejudice which he draws on his favourites by his fawning and fulsome commendations of them, and against the suspicions which he excites by his dishonest way of telling a story, even in cases where the action related was innocent or excusable. His narrative is florid, feeble, and indistinct; overloaded with commonplace reflections and pious effusions, generally ending in a compliment to his patron. In this part of his writings I have generally availed myself of Major Price’s History, which, though it does not profess to be a translation, is often a literal version, and always a full and faithful abstract of the original.

63. When Humayun was encamped at Cambay, he was exposed to considerable danger from a night attack of a body of Culis, a forest tribe still famous for similar exploits in Guzerat. They made their way with so much silence and intelligence into the camp, that they surprised Humayun’s own tent and carried off his baggage and books, among which was a remarkable copy of the “History of Tamerlane,” the loss and subsequent recovery of which are thought worthy of being recorded by the historians of those times. Humayun, by way of retaliating the insult he had received from these lawless mountaineers, gave up the unoffending town of Cambay to plunder.

64. When the fort was taken, it was found that the place where Bahadur’s treasure was concealed was known only to one officer, and it was suggested to have recourse to torture to make him disclose the secret; but Humayun said they had much better have recourse to wine, and directed that the officer should be well treated, and invited to an entertainment by one of’ his own chiefs. Accordingly, when his heart was softened by kindness and warmed with good cheer, the officer made no scruple to tell his entertainer, that if the water were drawn off from a certain reservoir, the treasure would be found in a vault beneath it; and his instructions being complied with, a large amount of gold and silver was found as he had described.

65. Ferishta, vols. ii. and iv. Price, vol. iv. Memoirs of Humayun. Bird’s History of Guzerat. Paper by Col. Miles, Bombay Literary Transactions, vol. i.

66. He marched in the month of Safar, but the year is uncertain: the “Tarikhi Shir Shah” says AH 942 (1535); and the “Mantakhib al Towarikh,” as well as Ferishta, AH 913 (1536). The former date, 942, is impossible, because Humayun took the fort of Champaner in Guzerat in that very month and year. The other year, 943, is improbable, as it allows only a twelvemonth for the final settlement of Guzerat and Malwa, besides the return to Delhi and the preparations for the war with Shir Khan; while it leaves a year and a half for Humayun’s march of 350 miles through his own dominions to Chunar. I should therefore suppose that his march took place in Safar, A. II. 944 (July 1537).

67. This account of Shir Shah is compiled from Ferishta, vols. i., ii., iv., from Erskine’s Baber, and from Abul Fazl in Price, vol. iv. Ferishta gives a connected history of Shir Shah (vol. ii. p. 98.), which, though it appears to be written with perfect impartiality, is extremely confused from inattention to dates; the different expeditions of Baber being mixed up with those of Humayun in such a manner as to make then: quite inexplicable without other aid. This aid he himself partially supplies under the reigns of Ibrahim, Baer, and Humayun; but more is derived from Baber’s own Memoirs. Abul Fazl also furnishes several facts, though his general narrative is a mere invective against Shir Shah, such as might have been expected from the minister of Humayun’s son.

68. Secander died in 1517.

69. Erskine’s Baber, p. 408.

70. Rohtas was taken by treachery from a Hindu raja. Shir Khan persuaded him to give an asylum to his family, and then introduced armed soldiers in the covered litters, which were supposed to conceal the women. This stratagem, which has so fabulous an appearance, was thought sufficiently plausible in modern times to be employed by M. Bussy to conceal the treachery of a governor who admitted him into the strong fort of Doulatabad.

71. The Memoirs of Humayun say that the army reached Chunar on the Shabi Barat (Shaban 15th) of AH 945, January, 1539; but this would leave only six months for the conquest of Bengal and all the other operations till Humayun’s defeat in Safar, 946 (June, 1539). I conclude, therefore, that the memoir writer, who scarcely ever gives a date, may have mistaken the year, although he has remembered the festival, and that the siege began 15th Shaban, 944 (January 8th, 1538). All accounts agree that the siege lasted several months; some say six months.

72. Probably June or July, 1538. Abul Fazl states that Bengal was conquered in AH 945. That year began on May 30th, 1538; but it appears that Humayun had met with rain before he left Behar, where the rainy season does not commence till June.

73. Most writers ascribe Humayun’s defeat to treachery, and say that Shir Shah attacked him during an armistice, or even after a peace had been signed. This account, in itself, does not seem improbable; but that given by Major Price from Abul Fazl, although it occasionally applies opprobrious epithets to the enemy of Humayun, does great justice to Shir Shah in the facts, and asserts, on this occasion, that he delayed Humayun’s retreat by amusing him with negotiations, but never professed to suspend his hostility, and was entirely indebted to his military skill for the success of his stratagem.

74. Price, vol. iv. pp. 760. 840. Memoirs of Humayun, p. 31.

75. Probably Jun (or Jiun) on a branch of the Indus, half way between Tatta and Amercot. (See the map to Dr. Burnes’s Account of Sind.)

76. Some unexplained delay must have occurred between Jim and Sehwan. The whole distance from Jun to Shal is under 450 miles; and the journey from Sehwan to Shal appears, by the Memoirs, to have been made in nine days; yet the whole time, from Jim to Shal, was five months (from Rabi a Sani, July 9th, to the middle of Raman, about December 10th).

This collection transcribed by Chris Gage
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