The extravagances of the Nawab of Oudh

From Ten Thousand Wonderful Things, (Edmund Gillingham, ed. Routledge: London, 1894).

Mr. Forbes has given a curious picture of the kind of magnificence affected by Asuf ul Dowlah, who succeeded his father on the throne of Oude. This nabob was fond of lavishing his treasures on gardens, palaces, horses, elephants, European guns, lustres, and mirrors. He expended annually about £200,000 in English manufactures. He had more than one hundred gardens, twenty palaces, one thousand two hundred elephants, three thousand fine saddle horses, one thousand five hundred double-barrel guns, seventeen hundred superb lustres, thirty thousand shades of various forms and colours; seven hundred large mirrors, girandoles and clocks. Some of the latter were very curious, richly set with jewels, having figures in continual movement, and playing tunes every hour; two of these clocks only, cost him thirty thousand pounds. Without taste or judgment, he was extremely solicitous to possess all that was elegant and rare; he had instruments and machines of every art and science, but he knew none; and his museum was so ridiculously arranged that a wooden cuckoo-clock was placed close to a superb timepiece which cost the price of a diadem; and a valuable landscape of Claude Lorraine suspended near a board painted with ducks and drakes. He sometimes gave a dinner to ten or twelve persons, sitting at their ease in a carriage drawn by elephants. His jewels amounted to about eight millions sterling. Amidst this precious treasure, he might be seen for several hours every day handling them as a child does his toys.

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