16 AUGUST 1930, Page 26

"Moors, Gentus and Jesauites"

Tnr•. Broadway Travellers Library, edited by Sir E. Denison Ross and Miss Eileen Power, is well-known among Orientalists for its scholarly texts and for the excellence of its print and binding. In the present volume Mr. Payne continues the story of the Jesuit missions to the Moghuls, which he began in Akbar and 11w Jesuits. In addition to Guerreiro's description of Agra in the time of Jehangir, we have an account of Gocs's journey to China from India, and of a mission to Pegu.

Guerreiro was a Jesuit of Lisbon, who compiled and every two years published the reports received from the Society's missionaries in India, China and elsewhere. Those on which this book is based were written chiefly by Fathers Xavier and Goes, the former from Agra, the latter from Peshawar, Kabul, Yarkand and various other places on the road to Cathay. Mr. Payne has been fortunate in having access to Father Navier's original letters, which he found in the British Museum, so that we have a very vivid eye-witness's report of the Court and Capital of the Moghuls at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Our space being limited it is only this portion of the book that we can consider, although the rest is of equal interest.

Jeliangir came to the throne in 1005, finding a prosperous India, in which there was absolute freedom of religious wor- ship, and during his reign the Jesuits were active in Agra. The English also sent an Ambassador, William Hawkins, with rich presents and a request that they be given leave to erect a factory at Surat : the Moghul Court thus became a centre of rivalry between the English and Portuguese.

The English demand was refused, although Jehangir was much impressed by Hawkins and kept him many years about his Court. It was not until the next reign that the British obtained this concession by one of those peculiar turns of fate that so often decide the destiny of nations as of men. Shah- jelian's daughter, Jehanara, the most beautiful girl in India, had burned herself in trying to rescue a slave who had upset an oil-lamp, and was in danger of death. So Shahjehan sent for the best medical advice in his dominions : amongst others, one Gabriel Boughton arrived ; and although Court etiquette Would only allow hint to treat her through aptirdah, the English- 'man succeeded in curing the princess. Asked what fee he would accept, he demanded nothing for himself, but asked that the Emperor should give his countrymen the strip of ground on which the East India Company afterwards built Calcutta. All this happened thirty years after the time of which our Jesuits write : it is mentioned here as a sidelight on history. If a slave girl had not burned her dress, Portugal instead of England might have established herself on the Hoogli, Like many drunkards (for Jehangir was a dehatichee in spite of his excellent wife, who limited his potations of mixed brandy and opium) the Moghul Emperor frequently promised more than he could perform. , He flirted with Christianity, he allowed the Corpus Domini procession to parade unmolested through the streets of his capital, he studied the New Testament in Persian, but it must remain a matter for conjecture whether his interest was more in polities (the Portuguese might be very useful to him at Goa) or in the new philosophy expounded by the missionaries. Certainly there is a very harrowing account of the forcible circumcision in his presence of two little boys who had professed Christianity.

We have not space to outline even all the matter of interest to be found in Mr. Payne's translation. Doubtless the book will appeal chiefly to those who already know something of Moghul history, but all may enjoy it, for it is " first-hand " history and a striking picture of seventeenth-century Agra.