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thus distinguished by the triple circumstance of its being the title of Ally, the name of Tippoo Sultaun's assumed emblem, and the name of his father, the founder of his dominion, was introduced by him on every occasion; and either the word at length, or its initial letter, was stamped upon every article belonging to him.”
I have read many letters from Hyder and Tippoo on various subjects, and on a former occasion introduced one from Hyder to Colonel Wood, strongly characteristic of his determined and warlike disposition. I have also given an extract of a bigotted epistle from his son, very much in the same spirit with a prayer prefixed to a foolish superstitious dream, thus entered in his diary: “On the seventh day of the month Jaufre, of the year Shaudaub 1217 from the birth of Mahomed, (answering to August 1790) when encamped at Sulaumabad, before the attack upon the intrenchments of Ram Nayer, and after evening prayers, I made invocation to the Deity, in these terms: “Oh God! the damned infidels of the hills forbid fasting and prayer, as practised by the Mussulmans; convert them at once to the faith, so that the religion of thy prophet may acquire strength. In the course of the night, and towards the morning, I had a dream,” &c.—This dream is not worth relating, nor shall I give a translation of the cruel mandates sent to the commanders of his forts respecting the English prisoners in the year 1783, particularly one (as I was credibly informed) ordering Captain Mathews and Lieutenant Wheldon to be turned out in a forest, and hunted to death by dogs, trained for such a purpose. These epistles are too sanguinary for insertion : they are equally cruel, but less energetic and concise than many similar compositions; especially that from the caliph Haroun-al-Rashid, to Nicephorus, emperor of Constantinople, which Gibbon styles of such tremendous brevity. .“ In the name of the most merciful God! Haroun-al-Rashid, commander of the faithful, to Nicephorus the Roman dog: : “ I have read thy letter, O thou son of an unbelieving mother.
Thou shalt not hear, thou shalt behold my reply." .: A reply, which was indeed written in characters of blood and fire, on the plains of Phrygia!—Similar was the language of Hyder to his enemies; equally laconic and sanguinary his epistles to the government of Madras; followed up by his conquering cavalry, carrying death and destruction to the very gates of Fort St. George!
I will dwell no longer on these melarcholy scenes.—Sir James Sibbald, who resided eleven years in Hyder's dominions, and was for some time in a public character at his durbar in Seringapatam, as well as in habits of intimacy with Tippoo Sullaun, during the life of his father, has often entertained me with a description of the splendid pageantry and ostentatious ceremonies in the newly established durbar, where he carried his authority with a high hand; sometimes profuse in his entertainments and princely in his presents, at others equally mean and sordid. These Mahomedan sovereigns seemed anxious to revive the magnificence of former times, in the palace at Seringapatam ; but they had neither taste, judgment, nor wealth, to follow the example of the Mogul and Patan courts in India, still less to vie with the splendor of the Abassides, or the Moorish sovereigns in Europe, the former of whom they seemed desirous to imitate; especially Tippoo, who wished to add the character of sanctity to his other princely virVOL. IV.
tues. Rising at break of day, he always employed his first hour in reading the Koran; how far its religion and morality influenced his life, is evident from these unconnected memoirs. He then gave audience to the civil and military officers who had particular business to transact; and before breakfast visited the jamdar khana, or treasury, containing his jewels, gold and silver ornaments and utensils, curious arms, and new mechanical inventions, on which he lavished large sums; but his museums and collections are said more to have resembled the heterogeneous mixtures of Asuph-ul-Dowlah, at Lucknow, than the valuable deposits of the Mogul emperors in their days of splendour.—After breakfast, arrayed in rich apparel, he gave public audience, and sometimes administered justice, reviewed the troops, hunted with the cheta, or superintended the arsenals; these and similar pursuits generally employed the succeeding hours in his capital. In camp, or severe marches, no soldier in his army could bear more fatigue: war was his delight, and every thing tending to it engaged his first consideration.
Among the chief curiosities in his treasury and wardrobe, were the arms and war-dresses ; some of the latter formed complete suits of armour, in chain-work, and other heavy encumbrances for man and horse, of more shew than use. Among the articles of a war-dress sent to the Duke of York was one of the sultaun's turbans, (perhaps more of a helmet) which had been dipped in the sacred fountain of Zum-Zum at Mecca, and on that account was supposed to be invulnerable: this was called a tuburrook, or holy gift. Altogether the jewels, treasure, and valuables, which the eastern sovereigns have laid up in store, from the days of Solomon to Tippoo Sultaun, fell very short of general expectation at the capture of Seringapatam. Indeed all Indian wealth and magnificence, since Nadir Shah's plunder of Delhi, even the brilliant huma, pearly canopy, and varied gems of the tiger throne, dwindle into comparative insignificance, when mentioned with the splendid luxury of the Arabian caliphs. The name of Haroun-al-Rashid is familiar to every reader of the Arabian Nights' Entertainments; nor are the descriptions of his palace, gardens, and pavilions, altogether fictitious. The successes of the Arabian prophet soon laid aside the patriarchal simplicity which distinguished his character. Every authentic history of Mahomed confirms the remark of Gibbon, “ that his good sense despised the pomp of royalty ; the man styled the apostle of God submitted to the menial offices of the family; he kindled the fire, swept the foor, milked the ewes, and mended with his own hands his shoes and his woollen garment. Disdaining the penance and merit of a hermit, he observed, without effort or vanity, the abstemious diet of an Arab and a soldier. On solemn occasions he feasted his companions with rustic and hospitable plenty, but in his domestic life, many weeks would elapse without a fire being kindled on the hearth of the prophet. The interdiction of wine was confirmed by his example; his hunger was appeased with a sparing allowance of barley-bread; he delighted in the taste of milk and honey; but his ordinary food consisted of dates and water. Perfumes and women were the two sensual enjoyments in which he chose to indulge, and his religion did not forbid; affirming that the fervor of his devotion was increased by these pleasures."
Abassides then established at Bagdad, forgetting the origin and example of their prophet, and disdaining his abstinence and frugality, began to emulate the splendour of other oriental monarchs. The character of Hyder Ally and Tippoo Sultaun are, in many respects, not unlike those of Mahomed and his early successors; especially in their zeal for converts and rage for conquest. Ambition and extent of empire were the ruling passions of Hyder; to these his son was desirous of annexing the titles of apostle, priest, and prophet. He gloried in being himself a religious author, and certainly possessed a library superior to that of any modern prince in Hindostan. He was at the same time vain, ostentatious, and deficient in the noble qualities of a sovereign; his own capricious cruelties, and those sanctioned by his authority, have been mentioned. He affected a splendid pageantry, and marshalled his choicest troops before his durbar on the introduction of a new ambassador at the Mahomedan festivals, and other public occasions; but all his ostentatious parade was trifling, compared with the wealth and splendor of the caliphs of Bagdad, or the Moorish kings in Spain, of which Abulfeda has given two remarkable instances: one of them peculiarly applicable to Tippoo Sultaun. The first exhibits the entrance of a Greek ambassador at the court of Moctader, on the decline of the Arabian caliphs. The latter presents a short, but striking, trait in the character of Abdalrahman, one of the great Moorish kings in Spain; who constructed the city, palace, and gardens of Zehra, near Cordova.
Abulfeda, as quoted by Gibbon, relates that when the Greek ambassador repaired to the palace of Moctader, " the caliph's whole army, both horse and foot, was under arms, which together