The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Biography - Life of Timur Beg

Descendents of Timur

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Babur, the founder of the empire of the great Moguls in India, was, after Timur, the greatest genius of his race; and his memoirs, which he wrote during the latter part of his life, compose one of the most curious and interesting works in eastern literature {Vakeat Baburi (Babur's Occurrences) was translated by Dr. Leyden and W. Erskine, Esq. R. M. Caldecott, Esq. wrote an abridgment of it, which was published in 1844}. Lastly, the illustrious Akbar, the enlightened, the generous, the liberal emperor, was the brightest ornament of the family of Timur. Akbar died in 1605, and from that time it would be well if a veil could be drawn over the history of the house of Timur. His three successors Jehanghir, Shah Jehan, and Aurangzeb, retained great power; but it was bought at the price of endless crimes, and, from the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the great moguls became contemptible, as well as wicked. Escaping, through their submissive cowardice, the whirlwinds of Nadir, of Ahmed Shah, and of the Mahrattas, they subsequently continued to batten on an enormous pension granted by the British government, until, having, in 1857, added treason and murder to their other crimes, they will at last disappear from history unheeded and unpitied. Such is the melancholy end of the descendants of the mighty Timur, the heroic Babur, and the illustrious Akbar. After nearly five centuries of sovereign power the Timurides have ceased to reign; and of all the countries over which the members of this family once ruled, India alone has made any advance in material prosperity, since the days of their power. Samarkand, the capital of Timur, is a desolate heap of ruins. Andijan, the beloved home of Babur, is in the possession of Uzbeg savages. The once rich and opulent Herat, the abode of learning, the brilliant capital of Shah Rokh and Hosein Meerza, the native land of poets and historians, is now the ruinous fortress of a truculent Afghan. Shiraz, the beautiful city, made immortal by the songs of Sadi and of Hafiz, where Ali of Yezd wrote the life of the mighty Timur, is reduced to the condition of an impoverished provincial town, in the kingdom of the bungling Kajar Shahs of Persia. India, however, has passed into the hands of masters who do not require the fulsome flattery of Abul Fazl to show that their rule is more enlightened and beneficent than that of Akbar. The irrigating canals of Feroze and Shah Jehan have been restored and improved, after centuries of decay and disuse; a canal for irrigation and navigation, the largest work of the kind in either the old or the new world, now passes through eight hundred miles of the former empire of the great Moguls; the tax on land is lighter and less burdensome than the assessment imposed by Shere Shah or Akbar; good roads have been made; schools and hospitals founded; the more revolting forms of crime rooted out; valuable plants introduced from the remotest parts of the earth, more useful than the melons which Babur brought from Fergana; and the literature both of the Hindus and of their Muslim conquerors has been carefully preserved by the wise strangers from the west. Whatever may be the shortcomings of the English in India, they need not fear to compare the present state of their acquired empire, with the same country in the best days of the rule of the descendants of Timur.