« PrécédentContinuer »
light up their magnificent and hospitable halls to the gentry and peasantry of the country, extending the consolations of wealth and influence to the poor.-Let then but do this,—and instead of those dangerous and distracted divisions between the different ranks of life, and those jealousies of the multitude so often blindly painted as big with destruction ; we should see our country as one large and harmonious family,—which can never be accomplished amidst vice and corruption, by wars or treaties, by informations ex officio for libels, or by any of the tricks and artifices of the state :--would to God this system had been followed in the instance before us Surely the noble house of F. needed no further illustration ; nor the still nobler house of H.,-with blood enough to have inoculated half the kingdom.'
p. 205-207. The speech concludes with such a representation of the defender's circumstances as might conduce to the same end-the diminution of damages. Whether he was successful or not, the reader may judge, when he learns, that only 500l. were given ;barely enough to cover an application for a divorce bill.
We shall now close this article, which we trust will not be thought tedious, however extended in length, by such as have read the extracts, which give it the whole value it possesses. It is too late to indulge in general reflexions upon a professional career, about which the world has long since made up its mind. Nothing now remains but to admire its lustre, and to lament that it has been terminated, -not indeed by cvents which took Mr Erskine from a new sphere, to which ihe habits of his previous life were little adapted, and in which he could have experienced no great comfort, however necessary for his fame and for the honour of the profession his elevation to it might have been. Nor yet do we mourn because the prospect of his return to the same sphere has been overcast. But we may be allowed to express a sincere, though unarailing regret, that the strange and humiliating events which have recently inflicted such injuries on the country, should have deprived it of the services which Lord Erskine might still render, in returning to the courts of common law, and filling a high magisterial station in those scenes where his life was spent.
In concluding these reflexions, we cannot avoid recurring to the topic with which our former article on the same subject was wound up. To hold up Lord Erskine's skill and eloquence to the younger members of the profession for their models, might be in most instances unavailing. But every one, however slenderly giited, may follow hiin close in the path of pure honour and unsullied integrity ;-above all -- of high and unbending independence, —incapable of being seduced or awed, either by the
political political or judicial influence of the times. Had he not been ihe first in this path-had his powers been exerted in obsequiousness to the government, or in time-serving or timid submission to the courts of justice, ul, at least, should not have stept aside to attempt the task of praising his eloquence. He might have spoken with the tongue of an angel, if his cause had not been that of the people and conducted with dauntless resistance to power-unceasing enmity to every kind of oppression, by whomsoever attempted. Covered over with honours (as they are called)--satiated with wealth--bepraised in every court and assembly within the realm--one thing he would still have found beyond the reach cither of his talents or his power :--the humble, but honest, and therefore not worthless, tribute of praise which we have given, not to the orator, but to the friend of the people.
Art. V. Select Letiers of Tippon Sultan ; arranged and trans
lated by Colonel Willian KIRKPATRICK. With Notes and Observations, and an Appeudix, containing several original Documents never before published. 4to. London., 1811. THE letters of a real sultan may fairly be reckoned among the
curiosities of literature, and will be eagerly glanced at, in a review, by many who would have shrunk from the perusal of the original quarto. Witiy letters from witty ladies, affected letters from affected ones, trifling letters from great authors, and dull letters from learned divines, the public have long possessed. The writer of the cpistles before us, however, never heard of such persons as M. de Bussi Rabutin, or Madame de Sevigné. He was not in the habit of collecting the best company in Srirungapatan at his suppers, and retailing their bon-mots in his correspondence; and had quite as little taste for sentimental poetry, and fine descriptions.
Tipu Sultan, in short, from the time of his ascending the throne, had two great objects in view ; the aggrandisement of his dominions, and the extension of the Mabomedan faith. As each of these materially promoted the success of the other, it is not easy to say which was nearest his heart. lle was very ambitious, and very fanatical. The end, in his opinion, completely sanctified the means; and the shortest road was always the best. Off with such a one's head—the ears of another and the nose of a third,- is the laconic and original style of this oriental letter-writer. The sultans of the French tales are food sort of credulous people, with a slight predilection for cutting off people's heads, and for listening to tiresome stories. The sultan of Mysore was distinguished only by the first propensity:
. It is already generally known,' says the learned editor, • that upon the reduction of Srirungapatan, in the year 1799, * all the public records of the government of Mysore passed in
to the possession of the captors. It is also, however, but too certain, that many of these precious documents were acciden
tally burnt, or otherwise destroved, in the confusion and dis• order which unavoidably ensued upon the assault of the fort. • It is owing to the active care and intelligent research of Lieu(tenant Colonel Ogg, of the East India Company's Madras • Establishment, that several of the most important of the Moi
sur papers, now remaining, have been rescued from oblivion ; • and, among the rest, the very register of public lette , from • which the correspondence contained in the present volume % has been extracted.' This register we find, however, is only a fragment, comprehending the Sultan's correspondence from February 1785, to November 1793 ; and of this period the portion from which General Kirkpatrick has extracted the letters now before the public, only extends to February 1787.
The accomplished orientalist who has amused the intervals of a tedious illness, by selecting and translating these letters, was guided by the following views. In making the present selec
tion from about a thousand letters, I have confined myself, • almost entirely, to such as either appeared to exhibit the Sul
tan in some new light; to unfold sone of his political, finan' cial, or commercial views; or to elucidate some historical fact.
My principal object, in this work, being to present as striking a likeness of Tipu, as the nature of my materials, and the
cxtent of my ability to employ them advantageously, would • admit, I thought iť essential to this end, to render his senti
ments, on all occasions, as closely as the different idioms of ' the two languages would allow, without involving the sense in • difficulty or obscurity.
The object being to exhibit the Sultan's character as it is delineated in his correspondence, more than usual importance attaches to the choice of corresponding expressions. In this point of view, the translator's intimate knowledge of the Persic language, his long experience of Indian Courts, and his extensive reading in every branch of Asiatic literature, have proved highly serviccable. In the passages where General Kirkpatrick has accidentally quoted the original phrase, we have uniforinly admired the singular felicity with which he has clothed the ideas of the Sultan in English expressions.
• Тіри « Tipu Sultan, indeed,' he observes, ' rarely took up his pen, without its laying open some recess or other of his various and irregular mind.
He seldom issues an order that does not bespeak, either the general tone of his nature, or the particular impulse of the moment. He seems to have felt no hesitation in avowing, in the course of the letters which follow, the most flagitious sentiments ; and this may be accounted for on one or other, or on both, of these principles. The letters being, in the first place, addressed, with few exceptions, to persons in absolute dependence on him, he consequently would be wholly free from that sort of reserve which arises from the fear of incurring the censure or reproach of the world. He knew his will to be a law, the propriety of which, as it might concern others, would never be canvassed or doubted by any of his slaves. In the next place, he probably measured the sentiments in question by a different estimate from that with which we estimate them. Thus, the various murders and acts of treachery which we see hin directing to be carried into execution, were not criminal, but, on the contrary, just, and even meritorious, in his eyes. . They might, and most likely did, in a great degree proceed from a disposition naturally cruel and sanguinary; but, perhaps, an intolerant religious zeal and bigotry were not less active motives to then. The Koran taught him, that it was not necessary to keep faith with infidels, or the enemies of the true religion, in which class it was not difficult for him to persuade himself that it was right to include all who opposed, or refused to cooperate in, liis views, for the extension of that religion ; or, in other words, for his own aggrandisement. Hence it was, that our mussulman allies and subjects were scarcely less obnoxious to his hatred and vengeance than ourselves. With regard to the secret murder of his English prisoners, his dreadful slaughter of the Curgas and Naïrs, and his forcible conversion of so many thousands of the · two latter trives to the Mohamedan faith, he probably thought such enormities no less warranted, both by the example and precepts of the founder of his religion, than the infraction of' oaths and engagements in his transactions with unbelievers.'
The aggregate of personal qualities, which passes under the name of " character,” is the result of dispositions implanted by nature, modified by accidental impressions in childhood, by education in early youth, by profession, rank und fortune in manhood, as well as by the state of society and form of government. In all situations, these external or secondary causes produce so great an effect, that whatever may be the original disposition of individuals, our experience leads us toexpect similar conduct in similar circumstances, and to rely more on the uniform effect of the latter, than on any peculiarity derived, from nature. When we see Richard Cromwell spontaneously descend to the condition of a private citizen, our astonishment is patua rally excited, because our experience did not lead us to expect such conduct, in such circumstances. But, had he wished to preserve the authority, it is quite evident that he must also bave adopted the policy and the artifices of his father; and that the only apparent difference in their public character, would have resulted from the inferior degree of ability he would probably have displayed in prosecuting the same plans.
It may readily be imagined that no circumstance operates more powerfully in the formation of character than despotic power, and that the minds of all those who possess it will in general be actuated by the same motives, and influenced by the same trains of thinking. It would be wonderful, if the flattery of courtiers failed to inspire them with a high sense of their own nierit; if obseqioisness to their caprices did not produce an universal contempt for the rest of mankind, and an opinion that their wishes ought to be gratified at whatever expense; and if their solitary grandeur did not render them callous to the misery of beings, whom they hardly deign to consider as participating of one common nature. Such, certainly, appears to be the natural effect of the unhappy circumstances in which Eastern sovereigns are placed; and, in reviewing the history of Asiatic states, there is more reason to wonder at the frequent exceptions to the general rule, than at the number of instances in which it is exemplified. Tipu Sultan did not figure as an exception ; but his character was modified by other circumstances of a peculiar nature.
Although Tipu had long been recognised as successor to his father, and ascended the throne without opposition, it was still the throne of an usurper. For the maintenance of his authority, it was necessary to support a greater military establishment than the revenues of the country could afford ; and the expedient which naturally presented itself was an extension of territory. Of his actual possessions, too, much had been wrested from the dominion of neighbouring states, who were naturally eager to seize on the first opportunity of regaining what they had lost. Of these states, almost all professed a religion different from his own; and this was also the religion of the majority of his subjects. It was therefore almost entirely on the zeal and attachment of his Moslem adherents that he depended, not only for success but for security; and to secure their exertions, the most effectual method was to blend religion with politics. Hence, all his wars became crusades. The extension of the faith became, of course, the motive and the apology for unprincipled aggression. And really, if we consider this pretext of the Sultan, with a reference to others made use of by kings and emperors nearer home, we do not see that it loses much