Shaista Khan


No other name in Muslim annals, not even the name of Islam Khan, its founder, is so closely connected with Dacca as that of Shaista Khan. At a time when Eastern Bengal, on the outskirts of the empire, had become the sport of princes, a stepping-stone to greater things, and all was change, confusion, and disorder, this greatest of Eastern Viceroys, strong in the enormous influence he wielded at the Court of Delhi, ruled undisturbed for well nigh a quarter of a century. In the midst of the chequered careers of his contemporaries his own stands out with singular force, his authority undiminished until the end, enabling him to retire full of dignity and honours at the advanced age of eightyone.

Proud, high-born, the Amir-ul-Umara Nawab Shaista Khan started life with all the advantages that even in those days of royal favouritism and interest could have been desired. Yet, born in the purple as he was, the fortunes of his family had only begun two generations before. Among all the romances of the East there are few more fascinating than the romance of the family to which Shaista Khan belonged. No women of the East are better remembered in history and legend than Jehangir’s beautiful Empress Nur Jehan, the Light of the World, and the Empress Mumtaz Mahal, whose fame will live for ever in the wonderful Taj at Agra which Shahjahan’s love raised as an everlasting memorial of her beauty and his grief. Shaista Khan was the nephew of the Empress Nur Jehan and the brother of the lady who sleeps within the Taj.

The rapid rise to wealth and dignity of this once obscure Tartar family is typical of Muslim annals. A native of Western Tartary, of a noble but impoverished family, Shaista Khan’s grandfather Khaja Ghayas, with no prospects in his own land, turned his thoughts to Hindustan, that Eldorado of the needy Tartars of the north, determined to follow that road to fortune which so many of his countrymen had taken with such eminent success. The legend of his setting out is a tale of poverty and distress. With a young wife, frail and delicate, and one sorry steed as their only means of transport, their progress was slow, and, their small stock of money exhausted, they came nigh to perishing in the inhospitable[1] wastes that divided Tartary from the furthest limits of the empire of the house of Timur. Without food, on a lonely road where travelers were few, their fortunes reached their lowest ebb. To return was as impossible as to proceed, and no hint of coming fortune cheered them on. To put the last touch to their difficulties and distress, the wife of Khaja Ghayas gave birth to her first-born child. No infant destined for future greatness could have made its first appearance in the world under circumstances apparently more inauspicious. Too weak to struggle on with the child at her breast, the mother left the infant by the roadside; but, grief overtaking her, Khaja Ghayas returned only just in time to save it from a huge black snake which had already coiled itself round the infant’s body. Then, when they were all three again united, apparently only that they might die together, a company of travelers came upon them and gave them food and the means wherewith to proceed. The tide of fortune had at last set in, and without further harm they reached their destination. Within a few years Khaja Ghayas had so completely won the favour and confidence of the Emperor Akbar that he was appointed High Treasurer of the Empire under the title Itimad-ud-Dowla. From an impoverished adventurer he had won his way in an incredibly short space of time, with all the determination of his race, to one of the highest and most coveted positions in the empire. Now, surrounded by many of the members of his family, he sleeps his last sleep in the magnificent mausoleum at Agra, across the Jumna, not far from the wonder of the Taj.

But it was the child born in poverty and abandoned in the desert who was destined to raise her family to the highest pitch of greatness. Named Mehr-un-Nissa, the Sun among Women, she justified the lofty title and grew up more beautiful than all the women of the East. The ambitious adventurer was careful that no extraneous advantage that might enhance his daughter’s beauty should be wanting. In music, in dancing, in poetry, in painting, we are told, she had no equal among her sex. Her disposition was volatile, her wit lively and satirical, her spirit lofty and uncontrolled. Betrothed young, she was a fit mate for the famous Sher Afgan, the Conqueror of the Lion, but Mehr-un-Nissa, Sun among Women, aimed higher than an adventurous Turkoman noble. The Emperor Jehangir, having once seen her, desired her for his wife above all women; and, shut up in Burdwan as the wife of Sher Afgan, she waited while her royal lover devised scheme after scheme to rid him of the obstacle that stood in his path. It is the story of David and Uriah the Hittite retold. The evil designs of Jehangir and the prowess of Sher Afgan, who time and again defeated them, have become part of the legends of the race, and live in the memory when much else has been forgotten. But at last Sher Afgan was destroyed and Mehrun-Nissa, the Sun among Women, became the Empress Nur Jehan, the Light of the World.

The woman whose ambition led her to defy the traditions of her race and marry her husband’s murderer on the plea that that husband had urged her to do so, since he feared that his exploits would be forgotten unless they were associated with the fact that he had given an Empress to Hindustan, was not likely to neglect the advancement of her family. Her influence with Jehangir was supreme. Jointly with him she ruled the empire. ‘By order of the Emperor Jehangir,’ runs the inscription on a coin of the period; ‘Gold acquires a hundred times additional value by the name of the Empress Nur Jehan.’

Itimad-ud-Dowlah died in 1622, six years before his son-in-law the Emperor, leaving his daughter Nur Jehan scheming for the accession of her own son-in-law, Jehangir’ s son, who had married her daughter by Sher Afgan. Her brother, Asaf Khan, succeeded his father as Grand Vizier to Jehangir, and retained that post under his successor, Shahjahan, over whom his influence was still more complete as the father of his wife, the beautiful Murutaz Mahal. Asaf Khan died in 1641, and his son, Shaista Khan, succeeded to his honours. A man of thirty-three, Shaista Khan had already, during his father’s lifetime, enjoyed a distinguished career. Governor of Behar, Grand Vizier to the Emperor, Viceroy of Guzrat, and Generalissimo of the Golconda war and Viceroy of the Deccan, he had played many parts and occupied many posts before finally becoming Viceroy of Bengal, the dignity he so long held.

Thus, closely connected with the Imperial Court, Shaista Khan occupied a secure position vouchsafed to few of his contemporaries. Brotherin-law of one emperor and uncle of another, yet with no claim or aspiration to the imperial throne, he had already won the life-long gratitude of Aurungzeb, having done much to secure for him the throne against his eldest brother Dara Shikoh, who at one time threatened to forestall him in the race for empire. In the very year, 1663, that he was appointed Nawab Nazim of Bengal, he was suffering from the wounds he had received from the assassins of the Mahratta chief Sivajee while fighting Aurungzeb’s battles in the Deccan. It was not until the following year that he arrived in Dacca and assumed the viceroyalty. His tenure of office falls into two parts, the first from 1663 to 1677, and the second, after an interval of less than two years, from 1679 until his final retirement ten years later.

The first great difficulty with which the new Viceroy had to contend lay in combating the incursions of the Mughs and their allies, the Portuguese pirates, who still troubled Eastern Bengal. No vengeance having been inflicted upon the King of Arracan for his shameful treatment of Sultan Shah Shuja, the late Viceroy and son of the Emperor himself, the Mughs had resumed their piracy with increased vigour, harrying unchecked even within sight of Dacca itself, which Mir Jumla four years before had restored as the capital of Bengal. But Mir Jumla’s brief reign had been fully occupied by his war with Cooch Behar and his ambitious undertakings in Assam. It was reserved for Shaista Khan to bring the long struggle with the Mughs and the Portuguese to an end, and by so doing confer an unintentional benefit on the struggling English factory laboriously making firm its footing on the low-lying lands at the head of the Bay.

Eecognising how greatly the English factories at the mouth of the Hooghly would benefit by the extermination of the pirates, it is said that Shaista Khan made the not unreasonable request that they should aid him with a company of European gunners from their factories. But the English, still strong in their resolve to abstain from all interference in native politics, and particularly in warfare of any kind, refused, and Shaista Khan, incensed at their refusal, doubtless was not unmindful of it when in later days the Company was bent upon obtaining new concessions. Failing with the English, Shaista Khan endeavoured to enlist the support of the Dutch, and sent ambassadors to Batavia asking them to join in exterminating the pirates and subduing the kingdom of Arracan. The general of the Dutch Company, anxious to break the power of the Portuguese, readily consented, and despatched two men-of-war to join the Mughal fleet in the Bay. But Shaista Khan meanwhile, by threats and promises, had secured the submission of the Portuguese in Sundeep. The two Dutch men-of-war arrived later, but Shaista Khan, freed for the moment from fear of the Portuguese, now saw his way clear without the embarrassment of outside help, and, politely thanking them for their goodwill, gently hinted that he had no further use for them. ‘I saw these ships in Bengal,’ writes Bernier, ‘and their commanders, who were but little contented with such thanks and liberalities of Shaista Khan.’

It was an imposing expedition that Shaista Khan fitted out at Dacca. The Buriganga was alive with craft as the three hundred boats of the fleet were hastily equipped and manned. Of the army of forty-three thousand men, three thousand were placed on board the ships, and, under the command of Hossain Beg, sent on ahead of the main army to clear the rivers of the pirates. The troops under the command of his own son, Buzurg Omeid Khan, were ordered to proceed by land, and in conjunction with the fleet, after driving the Mughs from the islands of which they had taken possession in the delta of the Ganges, pursue them to their own land and once for all rid Eastern Bengal of their presence.

Sailing from Dacca after the rains were over, Hossain Beg led his fleet down the Meghna and driving the Arracanese before him from the forts of Jugdea and Alumgirnugger which they had wrested from the Mughals, he sailed on towards the island of Sundeep, which had so long been the headquarters of the Portuguese adventurers. But it was no light task to drive them from the island which for fifty years they had fortified and strengthened. They were adepts in the art of fortification and defence, and it was only after a determined resistance that they were finally expelled.

Hearing of this first hard-won victory, Shaista Khan sought to lessen the difficulty of the conquest of Chittagong by detaching the Portuguese adventurers who still adhered to the King of Arracan from his service. Offering them all the advantages and more than they were obtaining from the Mughs, including a grant of lands near his own capital with freedom of trade, and threatening to exterminate them if they persisted in their attachment to the Mughs, he won them to his side. They recognised in Shaista Khan the strong ruler that Eastern Bengal had so long awaited, and they realised that their days of piracy and freebooting unrestrained were over. Consequently, escaping by stealth from the territories of the Raja of Arracan, they set sail for the island of Sundeep, where they were welcomed by Hossain Beg. The most useful of them he retained in his service to assist his forces against their late allies, sending their wives and families, with the less adventurous spirits, to the lands on the Ishamutti which Shaista Khan had promised them. At Feringhi Bazaar, not far from the ancient capital of Vikrampur, they settled down into peaceful ways and long continued in the neighborhood, many of them becoming officers in the cavalry of Shaista Khan, while others established a factory for trade in Dacca itself. They lived in the city in the vicinity of the Dullaye Creek, where they built an Augustinian monastery and a church, which Tavernier admired, on his visit to Dacca, for the beauty of its architecture. Another church of theirs still survives four miles away at Tezgaon, beyond which the city in its heyday once far extended, but from which it has long since shrunk away.

Meanwhile the land army, under Shaista Khan’s own son, had by forced marches reached the river Feni, the boundary of the Arracanese territory. Here Omied Khan found the Arracanese waiting to receive him, but it was the first time that they had ever been confronted by the Mughal cavalry, that splendid force before which far finer troops than they had been forced to give way. These rude, unskilled adventurers fled in terror before their onslaught, and the entry into the kingdom of Arracan was easily won.

Hossain Beg, hearing of the arrival of the land forces, endeavoured to effect a junction with them, and set sail from Sundeep. But the Arracanese were on the watch, and sailing out from Chittagong, hurried to intercept him. Taught by the Portuguese, with whom they had been so long associated, they were no mean seamen, and their fleet of three hundred ships was no unworthy match for the Mughal navy. But Hossain Beg had the best of the Portuguese seamen in his fleet, and they did much to turn the tide in favour of their new master. The arrival on the bank of Omeid Khan and the main body of the army, who turned the guns upon the attacking fleet, completed their discomfiture, and they were forced to retreat. The way w r as open to Chittagong, and it was here that the Mughs made their last stand. It was well fortified, and its walls well manned, but the garrison, looking out anxiously to see the victory of its fleet, saw only its irretrievable defeat, and grew disheartened ere the fight began. Beset by land and sea, the Mughs gave up the struggle and sought to escape to their own country in the dead of night. But the dreaded Mughal cavalry pursued them in the morning, and as many as two thousand of the luckless survivors were caught and sold as slaves. Chittagong, however, proved a source of untold disappointment to the victors. On so extensive a scale had been the piracy of the Mughs that the Mughal troops expected to find great stores of treasure in the fallen city. But beyond an extraordinary collection of pieces of cannon, numbering, it is said, twelve hundred and twenty-three, there was little found. Shaista Khan changed the name of the conquered city to Islamabad, the City of the Faithful. Chittagong was thus for the first time conquered by the Mughals, and permanently annexed to the Kingdom of Bengal.

Beyond this single expedition, the whole course of Shaista Khan’s rule in Bengal was of a strangely peaceful nature. After the continual wars and invasions of the Mughs and Portuguese from which Eastern Bengal had so long suffered, these years came as an inestimable boon to the muchharassed land and people. It was a time of prosperity in Dacca hitherto unknown. The number and variety of things exported at this period are sufficient evidence of its flourishing condition. To almost every country in the world Dacca sent her produce. With the discovery of the Cape route to India, Surat on the western coast had quickly become the chief emporium for the goods of India and Europe. Through this busy mart Dacca carried on a great trade in cloth, and although chanks and tortoiseshell were taken in exchange, the balance of trade lay so greatly in her favour that it was necessary to import specie direct, which accounts for the appearance of the Arcot rupee in Eastern Bengal. Tavernier, visiting the city in 1666, found ‘cossas muslin, silk, and cotton stuffs, and flowered or embroidered fabrics ‘being exported in large quantities to Provence, Italy, and Languedoc. To Bhutan, Assam, and Siam went coral, amber, and tortoiseshell; to Nepal, large quantities of cloth, otter skins, and shell bracelets; to the Coromandel coast, rice, which sold in Dacca at the extraordinary rate of 640 lbs. to the rupee. But in spite of the great export of cloth, all the best and finest kinds were reserved for the imperial and viceregal courts. Manufacturers were forbidden by imperial rescript to sell cloth exceeding a certain value to any native or foreign merchant. To supervise the carrying out of this order a special agent was appointed to reside on the spot to see that none of the finest muslins went astray. He had full authority over the weavers and brokers, and jealously watched their output, that none but his masters might obtain the best and finest of the produce. All the cloth and muslin, however, that was not required for the royal household might be disposed of as the producers pleased, and much of it, in addition to that sent abroad, was despatched all over Hindustan and overland as far as Persia and the Arabian seaports.

Of the exquisite fineness of the Dacca muslins much has been written. ‘In this same country,’ runs one of the earliest accounts of them, ‘they make cotton garments in so extraordinary a manner that nowhere else are the like to be seen. These garments are for the most part round, and wove to that degree of fineness that they may be drawn through a ring of middling size.’ Tavernier relates that a turban sixty cubits in length, ‘of a muslin so fine that you would scarcely know what it was that you had in your hand,’ was contained in a cocoanut about the size of an ostrich’s egg. There were many different kinds of muslins manufactured, and some of them were given figurative names indicative of their exquisite texture. The Ab-i-rawan or Eunning Water, and the Shabnam or Evening Dew, were some of the most highly prized, while no less beautiful were the Jamdani, flowered muslin, and the Malmal Khas, the King’s muslin. For transparency, fineness, and delicacy of workmanship, these fabrics have never been equalled, and not all the improvements in the art of manufacture in modern times have been able to approach them. Yet the implements used by the weavers at their work were primitive in the extreme. They consisted only of pieces of bamboo or reeds roughly tied together with thread, and so laborious was the process of manufacture that it is said that one hundred and twenty instruments were necessary to convert the raw material into the finest fabrics, such as the Ab-i-rawan. Infinite care and skill were demanded, and the strain on the eyesight was so great that it was only between the ages of sixteen and thirty that weavers could be employed on the finest work. The excellence of their muslins was largely attributed by the Dacca weavers to the peculiar dampness of the climate, and they were careful not to work in the middle of the day lest the heat of the sun might affect them. A story is told illustrative of the delicacy of the texture of the muslins and the value placed upon them. One of the weavers spread the piece he had just finished on the grass to dry in the cool of the evening, and, carelessly leaving it unguarded, let it be eaten up by a cow which was grazing near at hand. So great was the indignation against him that he was ignominiously turned out of the city and allowed to weave no more.

It is during the viceroyalty of Shaista Khan that we get another of those brief illuminating glimpses of Eastern Bengal from the pen of a European traveler writing at first hand. Francois Bernier, visiting Bengal in 1666, cannot say enough in praise of its wonderful fertility and abundance. 1 You may there have almost for nothing three or four kinds of legumes,’ he writes, ‘which together with rice and butter are the most usual food of the meaner people; and for a Koupy, which is about half a crown, you may have twenty good pullets and more: geese and ducks in proportion. There is also plenty of many kinds of fish, both fresh and salt; and, in a word, Bengale is a country abounding in all things.’ Apparently there was a proverb in those days among the Portuguese, English, and Dutch, to the effect that there were a hundred open gates to enter into the kingdom of Bengal, and not one to come away again. ‘As to the commodities of great value, and which draw the commerce of strangers thither, I know not,’ continues Bernier, ‘whether there be a country in the world that affords more and greater variety: for besides the sugar I have spoken of, which may be numbered among the commodities of value, there is such store of cottons and silks, that it may be said, that Bengale is as ’twere the general magazine thereof, not only for Indostan or the empire of the Great Mogol, but also for all the circumjacent kingdoms, and for Europe itself. I have sometimes stood amazed at the vast quantity of cotton-cloth of all sorts, fine and others, tinged and white, which the Hollanders alone draw from thence and transport into many places, especially into Japan and Europe; not to mention what the English, Portingal and Indian merchants carry away from those ports. The like may be said of the silks and silk-stuffs of all sorts: one would not imagine the quantity that is hence transported every year.’

Though Bernier never made his way as far east as Dacca, the waterways along which he travelled at the head of the Bay are typical of those of Eastern Bengal. He speaks of the country as of ‘incomparable beauty,’ very fertile, ‘filled with fruit-bearing trees and all sorts of verdure, and interlaced with a thousand little channels which you cannot see the end of, as if they were so many water-mails all covered with trees.’ Though here and there the banks were well cultivated, for miles dense jungle covered the lands on either side, with ‘no other inhabitants but tigers, and gazelles, and hoggs, and poultry grown wild.’ Tigers then, as for many years afterwards, constituted a continual source of danger to travelers in Eastern Bengal. ‘For there are now and then men surprised,’ writes Bernier, ‘and I have heard it said that tigers have been so bold as to come into the boats and to carry away men that were asleep, choosing the biggest and fattest of them, if one may believe the watermen of the county. ‘In spite of many dangers by the way, Bernier could ‘not be satisfied with beholding such beautiful countries,’ even although he writes that ‘in the meantime my trunk and all my baggage was wet, my pullets dead, my fish spoiled, and all my biscuit drunk with water.’

Of the climate, however, Bernier does not speak so favourably. ‘It cannot be denied that the air, in regard to strangers,’ he writes in his own delightfully quaint, inimitable style, ‘is not so healthy there, especially near the sea: and when the English and Hollanders first came to settle there many of them dyed. Yet since the time that they have taken care and made orders that their people shall not drink so much Botdeponges, nor go so often to visit the seller of arac and tobacco; and since they have found that a little wine of Bourdeaux, Canary or Chiras is a marvellous antidote against the ill air, there is not so much sickness amongst them, nor do they lose so many men. Boitleponge is a certain beverage made of arac, that is of strong water, black sugar, with the juice of limon water, and a little muscadine upon it; which is pleasant enough to the taste, but a plague to the body and to health.’

Another French traveler actually visited Dacca itself about this time, and he has left on record a brief account of his visit. Jean Baptiste Tavernier, travelling a portion of the way across India with Bernier, with whom he parted company at Patna, arrived in Dacca on January 13, 1666. He had met Shaista Khan before at Ahmadabad, when the latter was Governor of Gujarat, and he gives elsewhere an amusing account of a pecuniary transaction between them, which he ends with the sad reflection that ‘this Prince who is otherwise magnificent and generous, shows himself a stern economist in matters of purchase.’ In Dacca, however, things went more smoothly. He speaks of Shaista Khan as ‘the uncle of King Aurungzeb, and the cleverest man in all his kingdom,’ and proceeds to relate his dealings with him.

‘ The day following my arrival in Dacca,’ he writes, ‘I went to salute the Nawab, and presented him with a mantle of gold brocade with a grand golden lace of “point d’Espagne ” round it, and a fine scarf of gold and silver of the same ” point,” and a jewel consisting of a very beautiful emerald. During the evening, after I had returned to the Dutch with whom I lodged, the Nawab sent me pomegranates, China oranges, two Persian melons and three kinds of apples.’ By which exchange of presents it appears that the astute Nawab distinctly scored. Yet so valuable did the merchant-traveler consider his custom that on the following day he presented still more valuable gifts. ‘On the 15th,’ he writes, ‘I showed him my goods and presented to the Prince, his son, a watch having a case of enamelled gold, a pair of pistols inlaid with silver, and a telescope. All this which I gave, both to the father and to the young lord of about ten years of age, cost me more than 5,000 livres.’ The secret of Tavernier’s apparent generosity is probably to be found in his entry of the following day. ‘On the 16th I agreed with him as to the price of my goods,’ he writes, ‘and afterwards I went to the Vizir to receive my bill of exchange,’ which was doubtless sufficiently large to make good the value of the presents.

Though the English did not formally establish their factory in Dacca until two years later, they already had agents there at the time of Tavernier’s visit. ‘On the 22nd,’ he writes, ‘I went to visit the English, who had for chief or president Mr. Prat,’ and he also mentions their house in his brief description of the city itself. ‘The residence of the Governor is an enclosure of high walls, in the middle of which is a poor house merely built of wood. He ordinarily resides under tents which he pitches in a large court in this enclosure. The Dutch, finding that their goods were not sufficiently safe in the common houses of Dacca, have built a very fine house, and the English have also got one which is fairly good. The church of the Eev. Augustin Fathers is all of brick, and the workmanship of it is rather beautiful.’ From the 23rd to the 29th Tavernier was busy making purchases to the value of 11,000 rupees, the nature of the purchases not being divulged but probably consisting of the famous Dacca muslins. ‘On the 29th, in the evening, I parted from Dacca,’ he concludes the narrative of his story in the Eastern capital, ‘and all the Dutch accompanied me for two leagues with their small armed boats, and the Spanish wine was not spared on this occasion.’

The viceroyalty of Shaista Khan is the period of great advance among the European companies in Bengal. The Portuguese had settled at Hooghly as early as 1575, only to be expelled thence by Shah Shuja in 1632. The Dutch had probably arrived at the close of the first quarter of the seventeenth century. The English, setting out from Fort St. George, had established factories at Hariharpur and Balasore in Orissa in 1633. Eighteen years later, twelve years before Shaista Khan became governor of Bengal, Stephens and Bridgeman had established a factory at Hooghly, which they made their headquarters station in the Bay. It was later, during the viceroyalty of Shaista Khan himself, that the Dutch finally established themselves at Chinsura, the French at Chandernagore, and the Danes at Serampore. Further, it was in 1668, the year of the establishment of the Bengal pilot service, when the first English ship sailed up the Hooghly, that the English opened their new factory at Dacca itself, Shaista Khan’s own capital. Thus, though Shaista Khan is vilified as the enemy of the Europeans, it cannot be denied that his reign synchronises with a great advance in their position throughout Bengal.

Affairs were in a critical condition for the struggling English Company in the Bay when Shaista Khan succeeded in 1663. They had already, by the high-handed capture of a native boat, incurred the wrath of Mir Jumla, and it was only because he was fully occupied with his expedition to Cooch Behar and Assam that they had escaped condign punishment. Shaista Khan at his accession viewed the interlopers with all the distrust with which they had inspired the Mughal on their first arrival in the East. Yet during the first half of his viceroyalty the relations between him and the Company appear not to have been openly hostile. If the imperial rescripts which the English Company obtained are any criterion, its position was rapidly improving. Aurungzeb himself issued letters patent in their favour in 1667. Eive years later Shaista Khan confirmed the English privileges in the kingdom of Bengal. He followed the practice of his predecessor, Mir Jumla, in exacting an annual tribute of three thousand rupees from the Company, but his perwana sternly forbade his officers to impose illegal exactions upon them on their own account. Apart from their relations with their Mughal neighbours, these were stormy days for the English Company. The established and privileged corporation was engaged in a fierce struggle with the free traders, ‘interlopers’ and ‘pirates,’ as the Court angrily dubbed them. The long rivalry between the Old and the New Company was just beginning, dividing the small English community in Bengal into hostile camps, and weakening its front against their common enemy, the Mughal Viceroy at Dacca, and their Muslim neighbours close at hand. Interlopers sailed up the Hooghly, openly defying the Company on its own ground. Most notorious of all the intruders was Thomas Pitt, discoverer of the most famous diamond in the world, and the ancestor of two of the most celebrated among the statesmen whose names are inscribed for all time upon the roll of England’s fame. Later, in more reputable days, Governor of Madras and the honoured servant of the Company, he was long the most notorious of its rivals, and contemptuously termed in official correspondence the ‘Pirate Pitt.’ Married to the niece of Matthias Vincent, Chief of the English factories in Bengal, he had friends at court in high places, and Vincent soon fell under the suspicion of aiding and abetting piratical trade in the person of his nephew, the most heinous crime in the Company’s eyes that its servants could commit. The Bengal factories were still under the Governor of Fort St. George, Madras, and twice Streynsham Master, deputed by the Court at home, had visited them to correct abuses, issuing a number of regulations for ‘advancing the glory of God, upholding the honour of the English nation, and preventing of disorders.’

Shaista Khan may well have looked on content while these disorders and disputes divided the English traders against themselves. In 1668, he had allowed the English to set up a factory at Dacca, thus bringing them into closer touch with the central Mughal power in Bengal. At first it was only an out-station of small beginnings, but within a few years, in 1677, the sales of Dacca goods, principally muslins, for which the city had long been famous, turned out so profitably that the Court raised the stock of the Company from 85,000l. to 100,000l. Four years later the Court determined to set the factories in Bengal upon an independent footing. With this purpose they superseded Vincent, whose ‘odious infidelity in countenancing interlopers ‘had long enraged the Directors, and on Nov. 14, 1681, appointed William Hedges, with special powers, to be their Agent and Governor in the Bay of Bengal, assisted by the famous Job Charnock as second in command, and a Council of five others who were already engaged in the English factories in the Bay.

Then ensued one of those comedies that enliven the pages of the annals of the English in Bengal. On January 28, 1682, Mr. William Hedges, the Company’s Governor, set sail in state from England with a guard of a corporal and twenty soldiers, on board the ‘Defense’ commanded by Captain William Heath. Three weeks later came the news that ‘Pirate Pitt ‘was also setting sail for Bengal in the ‘Crown,’ attended by three or four other vessels in his pay. The Court of Directors was frantic. Every means in its power was employed to stop the ‘pirate ‘and ‘interloper ‘from starting, but in vain. Failing this the Court consoled itself with the fact that Governor Hedges, with his three weeks’ start, would have already ousted Vincent and be prepared to give Pitt the reception he deserved. In fact they became quite hopeful of the ‘total wreck of the interloper,’ which they trusted would ‘have such an effect upon all men’s minds as to convince the deluded world of the vanity and folly of these persons.’ But the Court counted without Thomas Pitt.

It was a race between the ‘Defence’and the ‘Crown.’ In a six months’ voyage a three weeks’ start, though considerable, was not impossible to overcome, and Thomas Pitt had chosen an admirable vessel for speed in the ‘Crown.’ Within two months she sighted the ‘Defence,’ pursuing her dignified way with legitimate authority on board, unconscious of the danger in her wake. The ‘Crown ‘easily outdistanced the larger and heavier vessel, and on July 8 Pitt landed at Balasore, eleven days before the ‘Defence ‘was sighted. Every day was of value to the ‘interloper,’ and he was not slow to make use of the advantage he had gained. Giving out that a new Company had been founded, of which he was the authorised agent, and attended by a company of Portuguese and native soldiers and trumpeters, he sailed up the river to Hooghly in three ships, with all the state due to the Governor of the English Factories in the Bay. Vincent, knowing that his credit with the Court was small and that it was only a question of time before he was superseded, joined his adventurous nephew, and together they treated with the native governor of Hooghly, obtaining commercial privileges and a perivana to build a factory in the name of the New Company.

It was in the midst of this confusion that William Hedges arrived, the first independent Governor of the English Factories in the Bay. Shaista Khan may well have smiled at the situation, content to play a waiting game. To him Hedges appealed, but negotiations dragged on interminably. The astute Mughal governor was not ill-pleased that such dissensions should continue among the English. The Interlopers, anxious for his favour, willingly paid the dues that he demanded from them, and though at length the Governor obtained an order from him to Balchandra Das, the Customs officer, and to the native governor of Hooghly to arrest Pitt and his associates, a further bribe easily secured their immunity. Shaista Khan had no intention of advancing the interests of the English Company by removing the Interlopers from its path.

In the following year the Interlopers reached what the Directors considered the ‘height of impudence.’ One Captain Alley openly sailed up the Hooghly in great state, ‘habited in scarlet richly laced, while ten Englishmen in blue caps and coats edged with red, all armed with blunderbusses, went before his palanquin, eighty peons before them and four musmins playing on the waits, with two flags before him like an Agent.’ In this state he had the impertinence to call upon the Governor, and Hedges bitterly complains that every considerable person in the factory except himself returned his visits. He openly negotiated with Balchandra Das, the Viceroy’s Customs officer, agreeing to pay three-and-a-half per cent, on all goods imported and exported, upon which, says Hedges, ‘they parted good friends.’ Hedges at last succeeded in getting an order from Shaista Khan to the governor of Hooghly directing him to arrest the interloping captains and send them to Dacca. But they had proved themselves too valuable to Balchandra Das to be allowed to slip so easily out of his hands. He sent urgent representations to Shaista Khan, pointing out that the Interlopers were no enemies of his. It was all the fault of the Old Company, which wanted the monopoly of trade. The Interlopers were traders too, and they were willing to pay even five per cent, duty. Why should he drive such useful and profitable subjects from his realm ? Shaista Khan was not slow to see the wisdom of the reasoning of his astute Customs officer, and in spite of his perwana to the Old Company the Interlopers met with little interference at his hands. Hedges had only been installed a few months in the factory on the banks of the Hooghly when the Council found trade in such a disorganised condition that it was ‘agreed and concluded in consultation that the only expedient now left was for the Agent to go himself in person to the Nawab and Dewan at Dacca as well to make some settled adjustment concerning the customs as to endeavour the preventing Interlopers trading in these parts for ye future.’ To go with the Agent, Mr. Eichard Trenchfield and Mr. William Johnson were appointed, and it was thought convenient to go by way of Cossimbazaar in order to consult with Mr. Job Charnock, second in Council and high in favour with the Directors at home.

Governor Hedges prepared to set out for Dacca with all the state becoming the Chief of the English Factories in the Bay. Two barges and several small boats for servants were made ready, and on the evening of the 10th of October, 1682, the Governor, with Mr. Trenchfield and Mr. Johnson, escorted by twenty-three English soldiers and fifteen Rajputs, proceeded on the first stage of their journey to the English garden to the north of Hooghly. But the local officials, doubtless guessing that this embassy would be by no means welcome to Shaista Khan in Dacca, took every means in their power to hinder it at the outset. Parmeshar Das, the local Collector of Customs and the creature of Balchandra Das, actually sent out to seize the English boats. Two of them were taken and the English, endeavouring to recover them by force, Parmeshar Das beat and ill-used all the boatmen and footmen on whom he could lay hands, and even succeeded in enticing away many of the Governor’s native retainers by means of threats and bribes. The Governor protested in vain. For five days he was kept waiting, unable to start, watched by the minions of Parmeshar Das, who were ready to harass his fleet the moment he set sail. Finally the dignified Governor of the English Factories was forced to run away in the night, under cover of darkness, on the 14th of October. The story is best told in Governor Hedges’ own indignant words. ‘Kesolving now to be abused no more in this manner, I sent all ye laden boats before, with Mr. Johnson to see them make all the haste that might be and not to stop all night. Next to them went the soldiers with ye other budgero. I followed that, and two stout fellows, an Englishman and a Spaniard in a light boat, came last of all. About two hours within night a boat full of armed men came up very near to the Spaniard, who, speaking ye language, demanded who they were and commanded them to stand; but those in the boat returning no answer, nor regarding what he said, he fired his musket in the water, at which they fell astern. About an hour after, when we were got up as far as Trippany, the armed boat came up with ye Spaniard again, who commanded them to keep off, otherwise he would now shoot amongst them, though he shot at random the time before: so the boat fell astern, and perceiving that we resolved not to stay at that place, we saw them no more.’

Such was the commencement of the first voyage undertaken by a Governor of the English Factories in the Bay. It was only a journey of eleven days to Dacca with favourable winds, and Hedges arrived on the 25th of October. The rivers were in flood, the season being just at the end of the rains, and the route lay up the Hooghly and the Jellinghi into the Ganges and thence by many of the numerous streams that intersect all this part of Eastern Bengal. The boats in which they sailed were such that they passed easily up the flooded watercourses, which a month later would be almost completely dried up. It was a pleasant voyage, especially after the heat and discomfort of Calcutta. There is always a breeze on the river in the rains, and the voyagers must have been pleasantly surprised at the coolness and comfort in which the journey was performed. Mr. Hedges fully appreciated the interest and novelty of the voyage. Budgerows, large, flat-bottomed boats, much in the form of an English houseboat, were roomy and comfortable. With a favourable wind, a sail was hoisted and rapid progress made. Venetian windows alongeach side made the budgerows light and airy, and afforded a full view of the delightful river scenery with its constantly changing interests. Country boats of all sizes and descriptions passed up and down, skimming over the water with their wonderful variety of sails. It was a new experience and constant source of interest to Governor Hedges, who had but recently arrived from home. Here fishermen plied their time-honoured profession, with their huge nets and tiny skirls that they managed with so much skill: there, majestic and slow sailing, passed a company of sloops, doubtless carrying their own goods down from Dacca to be shipped to England in the Company’s vessels that awaited them at Hooghly. At midday the Manjhis rested and took their meal, while the Saheb-log dined beneath the trees on the bank, and stretched their limbs for a while after the somewhat cramped space of the budgerow. In the evening they rowed on again, and at night they were towed from the bank by the boatmen, who chanted their weird songs as they walked, to keep off the wild beasts that infested the river-banks, and to make their labours light.

It was an imposing sight that greeted the embassy as they approached Dacca on the evening of October 25. Facing the river which then flowed beneath its walls rose the towers and turrets of the Lalbagh Fort, begun but a few years before by Prince Mahomed Azim, son of Aurungzeb, during his brief viceroyalty. Not far off, the high imposing front of the Bara Katra, built some forty years before in the time of Shah Shuja, rose the most conspicuous object on the river-bank. Its high central gateway, flanked by smaller entrances and the octagonal tower, faced the river, a magnificent and lofty structure. Beside it stood the Chhota Katra, built by Shaista Khan himself, smaller but scarcely less beautiful, designed in the style of architecture that has come to be popularly known as Shaista Khani, after the great Viceroy himself. Behind lay the Chauk with its handsome mosque, built in the same style of architecture by the same great Viceroy. Further back still rose the Hossaini Delan, constructed during Shah Shuja’s time forty years before, and beyond again the Idgah, built about the same time, and then in its first glory; while still higher up on the bank of the river, which has long since receded, stood the beautiful seven-domed mosque just completed by Shaista Khan. Away beyond for fourteen miles the city stretched as far as Tungi, a vast labyrinth of streets and villages, the camps of armies and all that followed in their train. On the river, facing the town, rode at anchor the state barges of the Viceroy and the Nawara, the great fleet of seven hundred war-boats that but a few years before had returned in triumph from the conquest of the Mughs.

The English factory, which has long since disappeared, originally stood where the College now stands, and it was here that Governor Hedges stayed. It was a building of no pretensions, constructed solely with a view to commercial usefulness. The French factory lay a short distance away, on the site now occupied by the palace of the present Nawab of Dacca, while the Dutch factory stood close by on the river-bank, where the Mitford Hospital now stands. Shaista Khan was apparently living in a palace within the Lalbagh Fort, and it was there that Governor Hedges came to interview the great Viceroy and seek better terms for the Company he served. Shaista Khan, with typical diplomacy, was full of fair words and promises. No further countenance should be given to the Interlopers. Muslim officials should no longer be allowed to oppress the traders, and the Company’s servants should be forced to pay nothing beyond what was actually due. The meetings, held with all the Oriental love of stateliness and display, continued with growing satisfaction on Governor Hedges’ side. Shaista Khan was gracious, and the English Agent, after a month and a half spent in negotiations in Dacca, departed full of gratification at the result of his embassy. ‘My going to Dacca,’ he wrote, still pleased and flattered at the fair words of Shaista Khan, ‘has in the first place got seven months’ time for procuring a Phirmaund; 2ndly, taken off wholly ye pretence of 5 per cent, customs on all treasure imported this and ye three preceding years, besides 1 \ per cent, of what was usually paid at ye mint for some years past: 3rdly, procured the general stop to be taken off all our trade, our goods now passing as freely as ever they did formerly: 4thly, got a command to turn Parmeshar Das out of his place, and restore ye money forced from us: 5thly and last, prevailed with ye Nawab to undertake ye procuring a Phirmaund for us from ye King … If God gives me life to get this Phirmaund into my possession ye Hon’ble Company shall never more be troubled with Interlopers. I bless God for this great success I have had, beyond all men’s expectations, in my voyage to Dacca.’

Fresh from home, Hedges knew little of the tortuous ways of Indian diplomacy. But the glow of satisfaction with which he penned the above words must soon have cooled. Things remained exactly as they had been before. Balchandra Das, the superintendent of customs, and Parmeshar Das, his minion, flourished as of old, unchecked in spite of all the promises of Shaista Khan. Governor Hedges soon learned that his journey to Dacca had been productive of little save promises and fair words. It was small wonder that, smarting under the knowledge that all the high hopes he had built upon his mission to Dacca had come to nought, Hedges angrily wrote of Shaista Khan as the ‘old doting Nawab.’ But none could have known better than he how fully alive to the situation the ‘doting Nawab’ really was.

Shaista Khan, meanwhile, doubtless listened with keen enjoyment when the internal affairs of the Company at Hooghly were duly reported to him in Dacca. First came the news, in August 1684, that Governor Hedges had been dismissed by the Company, and John Beard appointed Agent in his place, while the factories in the Bay were once more brought under the control of Fort St. George, Mr. Gifford being appointed President of the Coast of Coromandel and the Bay. But President Gifford soon sailed away from Bengal, and John Beard, weighed down with the anxieties and responsibilities of office, died in the following year.

It was about this time that a momentous change, destined to transform a small trading company into a great political power, first began to make itself felt in the history of the English in Bengal. It was gradually borne in upon those in authority in the English factories that the great Mughal Empire, in whose greatness and authority they had so long believed, was powerless to carry out its obligations. They had all that they could desire in the way of farman s from the far-off Imperial Court at Delhi, but these were repeatedly rendered of no effect by the powerful Viceroy at Dacca. The latter, again, seemed equally powerless to check the exactions of his local officers at Hooghly. It was a tremendous change in the political outlook that was only slowly borne in upon the English in the Bay. It left them but two alternatives: either to withdraw from Bengal, where the Mughal Empire was powerless to protect them, or to strengthen themselves until they were able to stand alone in defiance of the local authority if need be. Governor Hedges was among the first to see that the English must look to themselves for their own protection, and he strongly advocated the building of a fort on Saugor Island, at the mouth of the river, whence war might be waged upon Interloper and Mughal alike. President Gifford in 1685 did in fact apply to Shaista Khan for permission to erect such a fort at the mouth of the Ganges to guard their trade against the Interloper and for the general protection of their factories. But Shaista Khan viewed anything in the nature of a military fortification with suspicion, and refused his consent. It was quite clear that what was to be done must be done in spite of the Mughal Governor at Dacca.

But the Company, ever timorous at the outset, deprecated such an extreme measure as falling out once and for all with the Great Mughal, the fame of whose power and authority still lingered in their minds. Yet in the end even they were forced to acknowledge that it was a question of withdrawal or the adoption of a bolder attitude. With their usual caution, however, they contented themselves with half-measures, turning aside from the main point at issue and advocating an attack on Chittagong. Obtaining sanction to retaliate upon Shaista Khan and his minions from James the Second, who was too busy endeavouring to secure his throne to exhibit great interest in so far-off a venture, the Court of Directors despatched the largest force to the Bay that they had yet sent to India. It consisted of ten ships of war, with twelve to seventy guns each, under the command of Vice-Admiral Nicholson, having on board a regiment of six hundred soldiers which was to receive an addition of four hundred men from the Governor of Madras. The avowed object of the expedition was to seize Chittagong and transform it into a place of arms for the English Company on the eastern side of the Bay, as they had already done in the case of Fort St. George on the western shore. It was an attempt to gain a firmer base at a greater distance from Dacca, whence operations might be gradually extended up the Hooghly. No sooner should they be fully established in Chittagong than the expedition had orders to proceed at once to Dacca to dictate terms to Shaista Khan.

It was a strangely ambitious scheme for the timorous Company suddenly to evolve. It assuredly did not err on the side of diffidence. The Directors showed all their usual ignorance of the needs of the moment. Long overawed by the shadow of the Great Mughal, no sooner did they begin to doubt his omnipotence than they flew to the other extreme and talked glibly of sailing up to Dacca and dictating terms to the greatest of Aurungzeb’s Viceroys in his own palace. The expedition, born of over-confidence, was dogged by misfortune from the outset. Contrary winds delayed the fleet and storms dispersed it, while the Vice-Admiral, disregarding orders, sailed up the Bay with the few ships that remained to him, the ‘Beaufort,’ the ‘Nathaniel,’ and the ‘Kochester,’ with their attendant frigates, and anchored opposite Hooghly. Here Job Charnock was awaiting them with the four hundred soldiers who had been sent round from Madras, and a company of native Christian infantry, ‘very sorry fellows,’ as the English termed them. But insignificant as the first British force to enter Bengal was, it was sufficient to alarm Shaista Khan and stir him to action. He at once ordered a large body of troops, three thousand foot and three hundred horse, down to the royal fort at Hooghly to watch events and overawe the English. Thus strengthened, the local Mughal officials adopted a still more overbearing attitude. All trade was stopped, and even the local market was closed to the British soldiers. The English forces were practically placed in a state of siege. It was obvious that only a small incident was necessary to bring about open war, and that incident occurred on October 28. Three English soldiers, entering the bazaar as usual to buy provisions, were not only refused supplies by the native dealers, but when they protested, were set upon by the governor’s men and severely handled, being finally carried off as prisoners. The news spread like wildfire within the English factory, and Job Charnock took such active measures that before sunset full vengeance had been exacted, the enemy’s battery taken, the guns dismantled, and the governor put to flight. The English soldiers ‘firing and battering most part of that night and next day,’ and having taken a ship belonging to the Mughal governor, made frequent sallies on shore, burning and plundering all they met with. But Job Charnock, realising the danger, had determined on removing from so dangerous a position and withdrawing to the island of Hijili at the mouth of the Hooghly.

Shaista Khan, on hearing news of this fracas, at once took prompt measures. The Company’s agents in the out-stations were seized, and large detachments of horse despatched to reinforce the troops at Hooghly. Mr. Watts, the Company’s agent at Dacca, was in no comfortable position, and it speaks much for Shaista Khan that no extreme measures were taken against him. He had a friend at court, however, in one Baramal, a Hindu who had won Shaista Khan’s confidence, and who pointed out to his master that the English factory at Dacca was not responsible for the misdoings of the factory at Hooghly, and that Mr. Watts had engaged in nothing but in peaceable trade. So the agent in Dacca escaped, and by the end of December he was on his way down to Hooghly with Baramal, who was sent by Shaista Khan to negotiate terms of peace. Charnock had withdrawn from Hooghly to Sutanati, and thence, through Baramal, submitted his demands to Shaista Khan. The old demand for a fort was again urged, and in addition Charnock asked that all damage done to their factories might be made good, the establishment of a mint permitted, and full freedom of trade allowed. Shaista Khan, as usual, had nothing but fair words when these demands were presented to him. He appointed Baramal and two others to act as commissioners to draw up the terms of peace. At Sutanati, now the northern quarter of Calcutta, the conference took place. Twelve articles, embodying the English demands, were drawn up and signed and sealed by the commissioners. They were then despatched to Shaista Khan for confirmation, with a request from Charnock that they might be ratified by the Emperor himself.

But Job Charnock, with all his thirty years’ experience of Indian life, had yet much to learn of the ways of Indian diplomacy. At the sight of his demands definitely formulated on paper, Shaista Khan threw off all pretences. He had previously delayed in order to gain time, but that this small body of men should make these impudent demands upon the great Viceroy of the East aroused the full tide of the old despot’s wrath. The English, he declared, should be driven out of Bengal. Orders were sent in every direction that the Company’s servants should be seized, the factories closed, and the English at Hooghly driven into the sea. The news of the reception of his terms at Dacca having reached Charnock, he lost no time in doing what damage he could before falling back on the island of Hijili. Burning down the royal offices at Hooghly, he took the Thana forts, ‘with the loss only of one man’s leg and some wounded.’ Then, baffled for the moment, he withdrew to Hijili.

With the withdrawal of all the Company’s servants, Shaista Khan seems to have been content. They had chosen the most unhealthy spot in all Bengal, and the most trying months of the year were upon them. News reached him that more than half the European troops had succumbed to malaria, while the remainder were scarce fit for the lightest duties. Shaista Khan may well have deemed them unworthy of further effort, and left them to their fate. Though the local Mughal commander harassed them and drove them to desperate straits, Shaista Khan appears to have taken but half-hearted measures against them. Had he been as bitterly opposed to them as he is popularly supposed to have been, it would have required little energy to have finally driven them out of Bengal. So far from this, he even allowed them, a few months later, to return to the river as far as Ulubaria and continue their interrupted trade. For this unexpected complaisance on the part of Shaista Khan there was probably a double reason. The English on the Bombay side, indignant at their treatment, had withdrawn from Surat and declared open war upon Aurungzeb, and with their superiority at sea had practically annihilated the Mughal maritime trade and interrupted the pilgrimages to Mecca. Aurungzeb was fully occupied, intent on taking Hyderabad, and he was willing to make peace with the English to avoid further contest. They were restored to all their privileges on the Bombay side, and an imperial order was received by Shaista Khan, ordering a similar restoration in Bengal. The order came but just in time to save Charnock and the remnant that remained to him. Yet Shaista Khan’s order, dated Dacca, July 2, was of so grudging a character that Charnock indignantly refused it. A further order, dated August 16, while not granting their demands for compensation, for exemption from taxation, and for the establishment of a mint, gave them permission to return to Hooghly and renew their trade. Job Charnock eventually returned as far as Sutanati, which, after many experiences, he had finally determined upon as the most defensible position on the lower reaches of the Hooghly.

It is not surprising that Shaista Khan should have looked on the small affairs of the English with something of contempt. He was now eighty years of age, and his mind turned to thoughts of peace and well-earned retirement. For nearly a quarter of a century he had ruled Bengal. Though in the annals of the English he figures as a ‘tyrant ‘and as the ‘old doting Nawab,’ as the ruler of Bengal he appears conspicuous for his wisdom and justice. It was but natural that he should regard the English as interlopers, and their bombastic language and impudent demands enraged one accustomed to excess of deference. But that he had any particular active ill-will towards the English seems improbable. They were entirely in his hands. Had he actively taken sides against them, there can be little doubt that he had the power to sweep them out of Bengal. At the most, even when reinforced by Vice-Admiral Nicholson and his fleet, they were but a handful of men compared with the forces at the disposal of Shaista Khan. The Viceroy who could equip a fleet of seven hundred war-vessels, and had sent an army of one hundred and forty-three thousand men against the Mughs, could have made short work, by sheer force of numbers, of the little company of Englishmen, had he been so minded. Aurungzeb was too busy elsewhere to do aught but call for a map when he heard of these petty disturbances in some obscure island in the Hooghly. All power was in the hands of the Viceroy. That no harm befell even the unprotected servants of the Company at Dacca in his time speaks much for the clemency of Shaista Khan, and the close of his long reign left the English Company in Bengal in a far more flourishing condition than it had been twenty-five years before.

As the Viceroy of a Mughal province, Shaista Khan stands out beyond his contemporaries. Above all things, he gave a distracted country the peace and quietness it so much needed. Not since the Muslim first came to Bengal had the province enjoyed so long a rest, and the blessings of peace in those days conferred a distinction upon the giver that later days cannot wholly appreciate. His rule was the period of Dacca’s greatest prosperity. Noble buildings, designed and executed with all the skill of Muslim art, rose to beautify the city. The marble tomb and mausoleum that he erected over his favourite daughter Peri Bibi, shorn as it has been of much of its glory, still remains the most beautiful Muslim monument in all Eastern Bengal. No other viceroy or governor has so impressed his memory upon Dacca. It is truly the city of Shaista Khan. What, one cannot refrain from wondering, would be his feelings could he see it today, the new capital of the descendants of that despised little Company whose doings on the far-off island at the mouth of the Hooghly he regarded with so much contemptuous unconcern?

Full of years and honours, Shaista Khan laid down the viceroyalty and quitted the city where he had so long ruled. The manner of his going was full of dignity. Attended by the whole city and all the state due to his rank, he passed out through the western gate. There the great procession halted, and the aged Viceroy took his last farewell of the great city. In his day there had been unparalleled prosperity and rice had sold at[2] the incredible rate of 320 seers to the rupee. His last order was that the western gate through which he had just passed should be closed, and an inscription placed upon it forbidding all future governors to open it until rice should again be sold at the same price. After he had gone they did as he had ordered, and so for forty-seven years the western gate of the city remained closed until in the days of Serferaz Khan, whose wise rule again gave prosperity to the province, the price of rice was reduced to the same rate and the gate of the city once more opened.

Five years after his departure from Dacca, Shaista Khan died at Agra at the age of eighty-six, full of dignity and honours, one of the few examples of a great Mughal prince ending his days in peaceful retirement after a long and uniformly successful career.

[1] Photography: 1 Descent And Connections Of Shaista Khan

[2] Photography: The Mausoleum Of Peri Bibi, Daughter Of Shaista Khan


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