Two° sots= ; a Tale of the Mysore War. By Captain Meadows Taylor, Author of the .• Confessions of a Thug." In 3 vols Bentley. The Tower of London ; an Historical Romance. By William Harrison Ainsworth. Illustrated by George Cruikshatik Bent/ey.
Poems by Lady Flora Hastings. Edited by her Sister Blackwood.
TIPPOO SULTALYN, A TALE OF THE MYSORE WAR.
CArrsin TAYLOR is favourably known to the public by his Con- fessions of a Thug ; in which fiction he exhibited a thorough knowledge of the Thuggee system of murder, considerable ac- quaintance with the manners of India, no mean skill in portray- ing Oriental character and developing it in dialogue, together with high though rather literal powers of description, and a good deal of cleverness in contriving and carrying on events. His principal defect was a tendency to crudity. Striving to tell every thing, he of necessity introduced things that, whether worth telling or not in themselves, marred the unity of the whole, and encumbered the progress of the story.
This defect, which was traceable in the Confessions of a Thug, is more palpable in‘the present fiction ; its structure requiring greater closeness and coherence than the autobiography of a criminal, who may be engaged in an endless succession of adventures. In other respects, Tippoo Sultaun is an improvement upon its predecessor; possessing fireater varieties of character, and of a higher kind, with a judicious intermixture of historical and personal adventure ; whilst the subject is less revolting than that of Thuggee, which consisted of little save robbery and murder. The author has also brought his military knowledge into use in many passages de- scriptive of camp and battle life.
The chief historical personage in Tippoo Sultaun is Tippoo himself; who is drawn with great discrimination, and, we doubt not, with more accuracy than in the common histories. His quick and subtle intellect, his egregious vanity, his Mahomedan bigotry commingled with all kinds of superstition, and his weakness of judgment, apparently arising from the junction of these qualities with Asiatic ignorance and natural deficiency, are exceedingly well drawn. His cruelty, less a habit than a continually-recurring passion, or distemper by which his passion vented itself, is painted strongly, but not offensively to the reader; and some natural touches of feeling with his fellow men, explain the hold which be retained over his immediate followers to the last. The conduct of the Sultan, which in history and state papers seems unac- countable, has consistency in the narrative of Captain TAYLOR. The manner, too, in which Tippoo is connected with the fiction, is in the main judicious : he is necessary to influence the fortunes of the persons of the romance, but the influence exercised is to com- pass his own ends ; nor does he appear in any other position than that of Tippoo Sultaun. The management of the history is less judicious. Its introduction is sometimes arbitrary ; and the in- terest of the romance terminates with the end of the first war against Mysore. The second, ending with the capture of Serin- gapatam and the death of Tippoo, might be necessary to complete his history, but the story of the persons of the romance was at an end.
The tale is of that kind which in the drama is called a double- plot, consisting of the fortunes of two sets of characters. They are not connected by Captain TAYLOR with that skill which is neces- sary to display this kind of story in perfection, but they have some sort of relation to each other. Moreover, one being Indian and the other English, they contribute to vary the tale, not only with different persons, but with different scenes ; the reader being some- times carried from the wild and gorgeous magnificence of India and its cruelty and intrigues, to the quiet scenery and domestic hearths of England. The English part, too, furnishes the author with an opportunity of exhibiting the cruelties practised by Tippoo towards his European prisoners ; though perhaps he overdoes it by heaping all the cruelties upon one person, and he of course his English hero.
The Indian romance chiefly consists of the adventurers of Kasim Ali, a young man, who saving the youthful bride of an elderly officer • of Tippoo, is carried by him, in gratitude, to the court of the Sul- tan. A dream, and some fortunate marks the superstitious mo- narch discovers in Kasim's face, insure his reception and promotion. His prosperity, however, is distasteful, from a secret passion for the lady he has saved, which love is secretly returned. A sense of gratitude restrains its indulgence, even when the means of indul- gence, by Oriental intrigue, are offered. But an illness, induced by the magical arts of a rival wife, overtakes the lady. The old Khan, her husband—who, with all his good qualities, is a sensualist— neglects his young wife, and she departs for Kasim Ali's, to be conveyed to her family. The Khan, informed by an enemy, meets her, and, as he supposes, cuts her down. The whole of this is managed with a good deal of tact, and is perhaps softened to European opinion ; but, managed as it is, the stricter sense of our morality, arising from our monogamy, will scarcely be satisfied with the informal divorce contemplated.
, This event leads to what should properly have been the end of the work ; and the simultaneous offer of Kasim and the Khan to Tippoo, to volunteer on a desperate service he requires, is equally Oriental and well done. We will take it as an example of the power of Captain TAYLOR in exhibiting intense feeling in an Eastern garb. The Sultan has just read to his officers the stern terms of Collar/Aram, and appealed to their fidelity.
Then arose the oaths of all, in hoarse tones, as they waved their arms on high, and swore to be faithful till death. " 'Tis well," he said, "else ye had been kafirs, fit only to herd with the vile. I bless ye, 0 my friends ! Alla, who sees my aching heart, knows that I be-
lieve you true—true to the last ; true in prosperity, true now in adversity ; while I—I have often deceived ye, often been capricious. Will ye forgive me? I am no Sultaun now, but a poor worm before Alla, meaner than yourselves. Will ye forgive me?"
Then the passionate gestures and exclamations of devotion to him by the enthusiasts knew no bounds ; and their wild and frantic cries and expressions of service unto death—to the shedding of their hearts' blood—broke forth without control. Those without, and the soldiery, caught up the wild excite- ment, thronged into the mosque, and filled the steps and the court, uttering violent exclamations.
"Blessed be Alla! your old fire is still within you," cried Tippoo; "and were I but rid of Cornwallis, that host yonder would disperse like smoke before the sun : we might pursue them to annihilation. Will no one rid me of him ? Will no one lead a sortie from the fort, and dashing at his tent ere he be suspected, bear him or his head hither? I vow a reward such as it bath not entered into any one's thoughts to conceive, to him who doeth this : and those who fall, ye well know are martyrs ; and when they taste of death are trans- lated into Paradise, to the seventy virgins and undying youth."
Unknown to each other, and from opposite sides, two men dashed forward eagerly to claim that service of danger. The one was Kasim Ali, the other a,
man from whose bloodshot eyes and haggard features, upon which anguish and despair were fearfully written, all shrank back as he passed them : it was Rhyman Khan. " Kasim ! Kasim Ali! thou art not fit for this service; thou art weak, thy cheek is pale. Go, youth!" cried the Sultaun, "there are a hundred others ready." "Not so, Light of Islam !" replied the young man. " I was the first—it is my destiny. I claim the service; if it be written that I am to fall this day,
the shot would reach me even in thy palace. I am not weak, but strong as ever I was : behold my arm," and he bared it to the elbow : the muscles stood out in bold projections as he clenched his hand. "Behold, I am strong—I am full of power, therefore let it be so; Inshalla! your slave will be fortunate ; there is no fear."
"It is my right," cried layman Khan. The hollow tone of his voice, as it fell on the Sultaun's ear, cause:Leven him to start. "1 was before him; bid me go instead ; be is young, and should be spared; the old soldier is ripe for death.' "Prophet of Alla! what ails thee ?" said the Sultana to him. "Why doet thou stare so and roll thine eyes, Rhyman Khan ? art thou ill ?" "I am well," he answered, "quite welL Ha, ha! quite well; but as lam thy slave and have eaten thy salt for years, could I hear thy words unmoved? By Alla, no: therefore let me go, it is my right, for I am his elder."
"Go, both of ye," continued Tippoo ; you have been friends, nay more, father and son ; take whom ye will with ye. Go--may Alla shield ye both
from danger ! Go—if ye fall, your places will be indeed vacant, but your me-
mories will dwell in the hearts of those who love brave deeds, and ye will die as martyrs in the cause of the faith; and this is a death that all covet. But we will pray for your success. Inshalla! victory awaits you, and honour and my gratitude when ye return. Go! ye have my prayers, and those of every truer believer who will behold ye."
Both saluted him profoundly; and then turning, their eyes met. "Come !" said the Khan, "we delay." There was a burst of admiration from the assem-
bly—a shout which rose and spread abroad to those without. "Who will fol- low Rhyman Khan ?" he cried aloud: "whoever will, let him meet me at thr southern gate in half an hour ;" and so saying, he hurried rapidly in the direc- tion of his home.
All was confusion there, for the lady Ameena, with Sozun and Meeran, were missing : he ordered his beat horse to be prepared for action, and without speaking, he passed into the apartments of Ameena and fastened the door. They were as she had left them—nothing had been disturbed : her larks were singing cheerily ; her looree, which knew him well, fluttered its bright wings, and screaming tried to fly to him ; her gazelle ran up with a merry frisk, and rubbed its nose against his hand, and butted gently with its forehead, gazing at him with its large soft eyes. Her flowers were fresh and bright, and their odour was sweet in the cool morning air. His eye wandered around : every well-remembered object was there; but she whose joyous smile and sweet tones had made a heaven of the place, where was she? Dead and cold, he thought, disfigured in death by his own hand. He cast himself frantically on the bed, which remained in disorder even as she had left it, and groaned aloud. How long he lay there he knew not : he had no thought of present time, only of the past, the blissful past, which floated before his mental vision, a bitter mockery. Some one knocked': it recalled him to his senses.
"They wait," said Daood, "the Patel and a hundred others : he has sent for thee."
"1 come," cried the Khan, "I come: it was well he remembered me; he seeks death as I do," he added mentally.
"The lady Kummoo would speak to thee," said a slave, as he passed out. "Tell her I go to death I" he replied sternly ; "tell her I follow Ameena- away !" The girl stared at him as though the words had stunned her, gazed after him as he passed on, saw him spring quickly into his saddle, and dashing his heels into his noble charger, bound onwards at a desperate speed. "Tis well thou art come, Khan," said Kasim Ali, "we have waited for thee." " Hush ! why seekest thou death ? thou art not fitted to die, Kasim." "More fit than thou, old man," was his reply. Come, they wait—they remark thee: when we are before the judgment thou wilt know all. Come 1" The Khan laughed scornfully, for he remembered the kiss. "Come, my friends," he cried, "follow Rhyman Khan for the faith and for Islam Bis- mills ! open the gate."
"For the faith ! for Islam !" cried the devoted band as the heavy door opened ; and, emerging from the shadow of the gate and wall, the sunlight glanced upon their naked weapons, gay apparel, and excited horses, and they dashed in a fearful race toward the camp.
Here is a sample of a lighter kind.
THE TROUBLES OF POLYGAMY.
Leaving KAMM with his tents, which had arrived and were being pitched for the accommodation of Ameena, the Khan, accompanied only by his servant Daood, rode into the Fort, to his own house, in order to break the news of his marriage to his wives, and to prepare them for their new associate. "There is sure to be a storm," he said, " and it may as well burst upon me at once."
Alighting therefore at the door, where he was welcomed affectionately by his servants, the news quickly spread through the house that the Khan was come. He only delayed while lie washed his feet and face, to cleanse them from the dust of the road, as well as to refresh himself a little ere he passed on into the zenana.
The two ladies, who had expected his arrival, and who had employed a per- son abroad to inform them of it, were sitting on a musnud smoking at one end of the room, with their backs to the door. As he entered, the gargling of their hookas became doubly loud; a few slave-girls were standing about the apart- ment, who made low salaams as he approached them; but the ladies neither rose nor took the slightest notice of him. The Khan was surprised at seeing them together, as when he had left them &if-Were-bitter enemies; and he stopped suddenly in Ins' approach. It was evident at once to him that they had heard of his marriage, and made common cause against him : he was justly enraged at this, and at the want of respect, nay insult, with which they now received him. " Kummoo-bee ! Hoormut-bee 1" he cried; "women 1 do ye not see me ? Where is your respect ? How dare ye to sit as I approach? Am I a man, or am I less than a dog, that ye take no more notice of me than if I were a stone ? Speak, ye ill-conditioned !" "Ill-conditioned !" cried Kummoo-bee who, though the youngest wife, was the worst-tempered, and who led the reply-. ill-conditioned ! Alla, Alla! a man who has no shame—amen who is perjured—a man who is less than a man —a poor, pitiful, unblest coward Yes," she exclaimed, her voice rising with her passion as she proceeded, "a namurd ! a fellow who has not the spirit of a flea, to dare to come into the presence of women who, Inshalla! are daughters amen of family!—to dare to approach us, and tell us that he has come, and brought with him a vile woman—an unchaste—"
" Hold 1" cried the Khan, roused to fury as the words fell on his ear, ad- vancing and seizing a slipper which was on the ground, "dare to say that again, and I will beat thee 1" "Yea, beat us, beat us !" cried both breathlessly at once ; "beat us, and our cup of shame will be fulL Beat us, and you will do a valiant deed, and one that your new mistress will approve off," cried Hoormut. "Ails, Alla! an old man, one with white hairs, to bring a new mistress to his wives' house ! Shame shame!" vociferated Kummoo.
"I tell thee, women, she is my wife !" roared the Khan. "Ye will receive her as such this, evening; and cool your tempers in the mean while, or, by Alla and the Apostle, I will send ye both to your relations; and they may keep ye or not, as they please, for I will not. So bethink ye what ye do. This is my house, and, Inshalla! I will be its master :" and so saying, and not waiting to hear any reply, he left the apartment.
As they rode onwards through the bazaar of the outer town, they saw at the end of the street a cavalcade approaching, evidently that of a person of rank. A number of spearmen preceded it, running very fast, and shouting the titles of a person who was advancing at a canter, followed by a brilliant group, clad in gorgeous apparel, cloth-of-gold and the finest moans, and many in chain'. armour, which glittered brightly in the sun. Ere Kasim could ask who it was, the cortege was near the head of his corps, which drew off to one side to allow it to pass. As the company advanced, time Khan dashed his heels into the flanks of his charger, and flew to meet it : Kasim saw him halt suddenly, and present the hilt of his mord to one who, from his appearance and the humility of the Khan's attitude, he felt assured could be no other than the Sultan.
Just then, one of those bulls which the belief of the Hindoos teaches them are incarnations of divinity, and which roam at large in every bazaar, happened to cross the road lazily before the royal party. The attendant spearman strove to drive it on; but, not accustomed to being interfered with so rudely, it resisted their shouts and blows with the but-end of their spears, and menaced them with its horns. There ensued some little noise, and Kasim, who was watching the Sultaun, saw him observe it.
"A spear, a spear I" he beard him cry ; and as one of the attendants handed him one, he exclaimed to his suite, "Now, friends, for a hunt! Yonder fellow menaces us, by the Prophet ! Who will strike a blow for Islam, and help me to destroy this pet of the idolators?—may their mothers be defiled! Follow me I" And so saying, he urged his noble horse onwards.
The bull seeing himself pursued, turned for an instant with the intention of flight; but it was too late: as it turned, the spear of the Sultaun was buried in its side ; and it staggered on, the blood pouring in torrents from the gaping wound, while it bellowed with pain. One or two of the attendants followed his example ; and the Sultaun continued to plunge his weapon into the unre- sisting animal as fast as he could draw it out, until at last it fell, groaning heavily, having only ran a few yards.
" Sbabash, shabash ! (Well done, well done !) who could have done that but the Sultaun ? Inshalla! he is the victorious—he is the slayer of man and beast ! he is the brave in war, and the skilful in hunting!" cried all the atten- dants and courtiers. But there were many others near, who vented their bate in silent yet bitter curses—Brahmins, to whom the slaughter of the sacred animal was impiety not to be surpassed.
"Ha!" cried the Sultana, looking upon the group, one of whom had disgust plainly marked upon his countenance, "Ha! thou dust not like this? By the soul of Mahomed we will make thee like it ! Seize me that fellow, Furashes !" he cried fiercely, "and smear his face with the bull's blood : that will teach him to look with an evil eye on his monarch's amusements." The order was obeyed literally ; and ere the man knew what was said, he was seized by a number of the powerful attendants, his face was smeared with the warm blood, and some of it forced into his mouth.
" Enough!" cried the Sultana, leaning back in his saddle as he watched the scene, and laughing immoderately, pointed to the really ludicrous but disgusting appearance of the Brahmin, who, covered with blood and dirt, was vainly striving to sputter forth the abomination which had been forced into his mouth, and to wipe the blood from his face. "Enough! bring him before us. Now make a lane in front, and give me a spear. Away with thee !" he cried to the Brahmin, "I will give thee a fair start ; but if I overtake thee before yonder turning, thou art a dead man, by Alla!"
The man turned at once, and fled with the utmost speed that terror could lend him : the Sultana waited awhile, then shouted his favourite cry of "Alla yar I" and, followed by his attendants, darted at full speed after the fugitive. 'The Brahmin, however, escaped down the narrow turning; and the brilliant party rode on, laughing heartily at their amusement.
Captain TAYLOR states in his preface, that he is again about to depart for India ; where, says he, "if life and health be spared, I shall hope that I may be able, either through the medium of fic- titious narrative or otherwise, to add my mite to the knowledge respecting those millions who own the sway of the people of Eng- land." We hope so too. But in any future efforts, we would sug- gest that a defined and well-considered plan are necessary to ex- cellence. In the work before us, as well as in the Confessions of a Thug, Captain TAYLOR seems to have said—" I have a certain amount of knowledge both in the shape of positive facts, and of that more general character which results from observation : let me contrive a story to bring it all in." This is probably not the most natural concoction of a fiction ; but let that pass. When, how- ever, he has formed his plan in this mode, he should then consider it, to discern what is natural and proper to it, and what is evidently adventitious—well enough to display Captain TAYLOR'S informa- tion, but ill adapted to the nature of the story : and all such parts should be rigidly excised, and the work smoothed up to consistency. By this process, no doubt, some striking incidents and scenes will be lost, and more which the author fancies such ; but the work will gain greatly in clearness and general effect. We might also hint to him, that accidents are not proper agents for moral results. A criminal should be punished by means of his crimes, and not swept away in a torrent when the author has done with him.