Their barefaced boldness in restoring Zabita Khan's family and appropriating the ransom paid to the Emperor's account for them has been already mentioned. With the view of paving the way for the removal from power of Mirza Najaf, they next addressed themselves to creating disturbances in the country around Dehli.
Raja Ram Nath, whom we saw accompanying the prince in his escape from Dehli, continued about him; but the chief favourite was an illiterate ruffian called by the title Hissam-ud-daulah, who stooped to any baseness whereby he could please the self-indulgent monarch by pandering to his lowest pursuits.
Najaf Kuli Khan obeyed the Imperial summons, and reached Dehli, where he encamped close to the Begam Sumroo, in front of the main gate of the Palace, on the 17th November, 1787.
We have seen how the general of Ahmad the Abdali massacred the inhabitants, with a zeal partaking of the fanatic and the robber in equal proportions, in 1757. Since then the place, standing at the head of the Bhartpur basin, and midway between Dehli and the Rajput country, had recovered its importance, and now formed Madhoji's chief cantonment.
Of Shahjahan's government and its patronage of the arts both decorative and useful we have trustworthy contemporary descriptions. His especial taste was for architecture; and the Mosque and Palace of Dehli, which he personally designed, even after the havoc of two centuries, still remain the climax of the Indo-Saracenic order, and admitted rivals to the choicest works of Cordova and Granada.
At the last accounts a siege train was expected to arrive on the 3d of September, and an assault might be made very shortly afterwards. But September is an unhealthy month, and there may be delays. Dehli door ust, "Delhi is far off," is a favorite Indian proverb. But the chances are in favor of its being now in British hands.
The work is laborious, free from party bias, and much thought of by the educated natives of Hindustan. For access to Persian MSS. I was indebted to the late Colonel Hamilton, formerly Commissioner of Dehli, and of his friendly assistance and encouragement I take this opportunity to make thankful acknowledgment.
"As I was sleeping," he averred, "in a garden at Sikandra, an apparition stood over me and smote me on the face saying, Arise, go to Dehli, and possess thyself of the palace." It may be that at such times he experienced some feelings of remorse. At all events, his punishment was both immediate and terrible, and his crimes proved the ruin of his house.
It appears that, at this period, the Shahzada had applied to Colonel Clive for an Asylum in Calcutta, while the Colonel was at the same time in receipt of a letter from the minister at Dehli the unscrupulous Ghazi-ud-din calling on him to arrest the prince as a rebel and forward him to Court in custody. Clive contented himself by sending him a small present in money.
Shah Alam lived the life of ease which had become a second nature to him, at Dehli, surrounded by able servants of the Mirza's selection. One of these, indeed, soon obtained an apparent ascendancy over the indolent monarch, which was destined to afford another instance of the wisdom of that maxim invented of old in the East, "Put not your trust in Princes."