Although the Moguls have vanished, their glory remains in the most sublime and beautiful monuments that were ever erected by human hands, and people come from the uttermost parts of the earth to admire them. In the form of fortresses, palaces, temples and tombs they are scattered pretty well over northern India, and the finest examples may be found at Agra, a city of 200,000 inhabitants, only a short ride from Delhi, the Mogul capital. Agra was their favorite residence. Akbar the Great actually removed the seat of government there the latter part of the sixteenth century, and expended genius and money until he made it the most beautiful city in India and filled it with the most splendid palaces that were ever seen. Shah Jehan, his grandson, who was a greater man than he, and lived and reigned nearly a hundred years after him, even surpassed him in architectural ambition and accomplishments. Jehan built the fort at Agra, and the best specimens of his architectural work are within its walls, erected between 1630 and 1637, and he was confined within them, the prisoner of his son Aurangzeb, for seven years before his death, from 1658 to 1665.

The fortress at Agra is probably the grandest citadel ever erected. It surpasses in beauty and strength the Kremlin at Moscow, the Tower of London, the citadel at Toledo and every other fortress I know of. Nothing erected in modern times can compare with it. Although it would be a poor defense and protection against modern projectiles, it was impregnable down to the mutiny of 1857. The walls are two miles and a quarter in circumference; they are protected by a moat 30 feet wide and 35 feet deep; they are 70 feet high and 30 feet thick, and built of enormous blocks of red sandstone. There are two entrances, both very imposing, one called the Delhi Gate and the other the Elephant Gate, where there used to be two large stone elephants, but they were removed many years ago. Within the walls is a collection of the most magnificent oriental palaces ever erected, with mosques, barracks, arsenals, storehouses, baths and other buildings for residential, official and military purposes, all of them on the grandest scale. Since the British have had possession they have torn down many of the old buildings and have erected unsightly piles of brick and stone in their places, but while such vandalism cannot be condemned in terms too strong, the world should be grateful to them for leaving the most characteristic and costly of the Mogul residences undisturbed. A small garrison of English soldiers is quartered in the fortress at present, just enough to protect it and keep things in order, but there is room for several regiments, and during the mutiny of 1857 more than 6,000 foreigners, refugees from northern India, found refuge and protection here.

Although the palaces seem bare and comfortless to us to-day, and we wonder how people could ever be contented to live in them, we are reminded that when they were actually occupied the open arches were hung with curtains, the marble floors were spread with rugs and covered with cushions, and the banquet halls were furnished with sumptuous services of gold, silver and linen. The Moguls were not ascetics. They loved luxury and lived in great magnificence with every comfort and convenience that the ingenuity and experience of those days could contrive. It is never safe to judge of things by your own standard. You may always be sure that intelligent people will adapt themselves in the best possible manner to their conditions and environment. Those who live in the tropics know much better how to make themselves comfortable than friends who visit them from the arctic zone. Wise travelers will always imitate local habits and customs so far as they are able to do so. While these wonderful compositions of carved marble seem cold and comfortless as they stand empty to-day, we must not forget that they were very different when they were actually inhabited. Some idea of the luxury of the Mogul court may be gained from an account given by M. Bernier, a Frenchman who visited Agra in 1663 during the reign of Shah Jehan. He says:

"The king appeared sitting upon his throne, in the bottom of the great hall of the Am-kas, splendidly appareled. His vest was of white satin, flowered and raised with a very fine embroidery of gold and silk. His turban was of cloth-of-gold, having a fowl wrought upon it like a heron, whose foot was covered with diamonds of an extraordinary bigness and price, with a great oriental topaz, which may be said to be matchless, shining like a little sun. A collar of big pearls hung about his neck down to his stomach, after the manner that some of the heathens wear their great beads. His throne was supported by six pillars, or feet, said to be of massive gold, and set with rubies, emeralds and diamonds. I am not able to tell you aright either the number or the price of this heap of precious stones, because it is not permitted to come near enough to count them and to judge of their water and purity. Only this I can say: that the big diamonds are there in confusion, and that the throne is estimated to be worth four kouroures of roupies, if I remember well. I have said elsewhere that a roupie is almost equivalent to half a crown, a lecque to a hundred thousand roupies and a kourour to a hundred lecques, so that the throne is valued at forty millions of roupies, which are worth about sixty millions of French livres. That which I find upon it best devised are two peacocks covered with precious stones and pearls. Beneath this throne there appeared all the Omrahs, in splendid apparel, upon a raised ground covered with a canopy of purified gold, with great golden fringes and inclosed by a silver balistre. The pillars of the hall were hung with tapestries of purified gold, having the ground of gold; and for the roof of the hall there was nothing but great canopies of flowered satin, fastened with great red silken cords that had big tufts of silk mixed with threads of gold."

The gem of the architectural exhibition at Agra, always exempting the Taj Mahal, is the "Pearl Mosque," so called because it is built of stainless white marble, without the slightest bit of color within except inscriptions from the Koran here and there inlaid in precious stones. It was the private chapel of the Moguls, as you might say; was built between 1648 and 1655, and has been pronounced by the highest authority to be the purest and most elegant example of Saracenic architecture in existence. No lovelier sanctuary was ever erected in honor of the Creator. One of the inscriptions tells us that it was intended to be "likened to a mansion of paradise or to a precious pearl." It is built after the usual fashion, a square courtyard paved with white marble and surrounded by a marble colonnade of exquisite arches, supported by pillars of perfect grace. The walls upon three sides are solid; the western side, looking toward Mecca, being entirely open, a succession of arches supported by columns exquisitely carved. And the roof is crowned with a forest of minarets and three white marble domes. In the center of the courtyard is a marble tank thirty-seven feet square and three feet deep, in which the faithful performed their ablutions before going to prayer.

Near by the mosque is the Diwan-i-'Am, or Hall of Public Audience, 201 feet square, in which the Moguls received their subjects and held court. The roof is supported by nine rows of graceful columns cut from red sandstone and formerly covered with gold. The rest of the building is marble. The throne stood upon a high platform in an alcove of white marble, richly decorated, and above it are balconies protected by grilles or screens behind which the sultanas were permitted to watch the proceedings. Back of the audience-room is a great quadrangle, planted with trees, flowers and vines. White marble walks radiate from a marble platform and fountain basin in the center, and divide the garden into beds which, we are told, were filled with soil brought from Cashmere because of its richness. And even to-day gardeners say that it is more productive than any found in this part of the country. Around this court were the apartments of the zenana, or harem, occupied by the mother, sisters, wives and daughters of the sultan who were more or less prisoners, but had considerable area to wander about in, and could sit in the jasmine tower, one of the most exquisite pieces of marble work you can imagine, and on the flat roofs of the palaces, which were protected by high screens, and enjoy views over the surrounding country and up and down the Jumna River. From this lofty eyrie they could witness reviews of the troops and catch glimpses of the gay cavalcades that came in and out of the fortress, and in a small courtyard was a bazar where certain favored merchants from the city were allowed to come and exhibit goods to the ladies of the court. But these were the only glimpses female royalty ever had of the outer world.

No man was ever admitted to the zenana except the emperor. All domestic work was done by women, who were watched on the outside by eunuchs and then by soldiers. They had their own place of worship, the "Gem Mosque" they called it, a beautiful little structure erected by Shah Jehan, and afterward used as his prison.

The baths are of the most sumptuous character. The walls are decorated with raised foliage work in colors, silver and gold, upon a ground of mirrors, and the ceiling is finished with pounded mica, which has the effect of silver. Fronting the entrance of the bathrooms are rows of lights over which the water poured in broad sheets into a basin, then, running over a little marble causeway, fell over a second cluster of lights into another basin, and then another and another, five in succession, so that many ladies were able to bathe in these fascinating fountains at the same time. Below the baths we were shown some dark and dreary vaults. In the center of the most gloomy of them there is a pit - a well - which, the guide told us, has its outlet in the bottom of the river, three-quarters of a mile away. Over this pit hangs a heavy beam of wood very highly carved, and in the center is a groove from which dangles a silken rope. Here, according to tradition, unfaithful inmates of the harem were hanged, and when life was extinct the cord was cut and the body fell into the pit, striking the keen edge of knives at frequent intervals, so that it finally reached the river in small fragments, which were devoured by fishes or crocodiles, or if they escaped them, floated down to the sea. After each execution a flood of water was turned from the fountains into the pit to wash away the stains.

But let us turn from this terrible place to the jasmine tower containing apartments of the chief sultana, which overhangs the walls of the fort and is surpassingly beautiful: a series of rooms entirely of marble - roof, walls and floor - and surrounded by a broad marble veranda supported, by noble arches springing from graceful, slender pillars arranged in pairs and protected by a balustrade of perforated marble. One could scarcely imagine anything more dainty than these lacelike screens of stone extremely simple in design and exquisite in execution. The interior walls are incrusted with mosaic work of jasper, carnelian, lapis-lazuli, agate, turquoise, bloodstone, malachite and other precious materials in the form of foliage, flowers, ornamental scrolls, sentences from the Koran in Arabic letters and geometrical patterns. The decoration is as beautiful and as rich as the Taj Mahal, so far as it goes, and was done by the same artists.

There is a broad field for the imagination to range about in and picture this palace when it was a paradise of luxury and splendor, filled with gorgeous and costly hangings, draperies, rugs, couches and cushions. The writers of the time tell us that the sultanas had 5,000 women around them who were divided into companies. First were the three chief wives, next in rank were 300 concubines and the remainder were dancing girls, musicians, artists, embroiderers, seamstresses, hair dressers, cooks and other servants. The mother of the Mogul was always the head of the household. The three empresses were subject to her authority, according to the oriental custom, and while they might stand first in the affections of the Mogul they were subordinate to his mother, who conducted affairs about the harem, we are told, with the same regularity and strictness that were found in the executive departments of the state. Each of the wives received an allowance according to her rank. If she had a child, especially a son, she was immediately promoted to the highest rank, given larger and better quarters, provided with many more servants and furnished with a much larger allowance in money.

The apartments of the emperor are quite plain when compared with the adjoining suite of the favorite sultana, but are massive, dignified and appropriate for a sovereign of his wealth and power, and everything is finished with that peculiar elegance which is only found in the East. In all the great cluster of buildings there is nothing mean or commonplace. Every apartment, every corridor, every arch and every column is perfect and a wonder of architectural design, construction and decoration.

From the emperor's apartments you may pass through a stately pavilion to a large marble courtyard. Upon one side of it, next to the wall that overhangs the river, is a slab of black marble known as "The Black Marble Throne." And upon this he used to sit when hearing appeals for justice from his subjects or other business of supreme importance. Upon the opposite side of the court is a white marble slab upon which the grand vizier sat and to the east is a platform where seats were provided for the judges, the nobles and the grandees of the court. In this pavilion have occurred some of the most exciting scenes in Indian history.

Perhaps you would like to know something about the women who lived in these wonderful palaces, and are buried in the beautiful tombs at Agra. They had their romances and their tragedies, and although the Mohammedan custom kept them closely imprisoned in the zenanas, they nevertheless exerted a powerful influence in arranging the destinies of the Mogul empire. The most notable of the women, and one who would have taken a prominent part in affairs in whatever country or in whatever generation it had pleased the Almighty to place her, was Nur Jehan, sultana of the Mogul Jehanghir. She lived in the marble palace of Agra from 1556 to 1605; a woman of extraordinary force of character, the equal of Queen Elizabeth in intellect and of Mary Stuart in physical attractions, and her life was a mixture of romance and tragedy. Her father, Mizra Gheas Bey, or Itimad-Ud Daula, as he was afterward known, was grand vizier of the Mogul empire during the latter part of the reign of Akbar the Great. An obscure but ambitious Persian scholar, hearing of the generous patronage extended to students by Emperor Akbar in India, he started from Teheran to Delhi overland, a distance of several thousand miles. He had means enough to buy a donkey for his wife to ride, and trudged along with a caravan on foot beside the animal to protect her and the panniers which contained all their earthly possessions. The morning after the caravan reached Kandahar, Turkestan, a daughter was born to the wife of Mirza, and was, naturally, a great source of anxiety and embarrassment to him, but the principal merchant of the caravan, struck with the beauty of the child and with sympathy for the mother, provided for their immediate needs, took them with him to Agra and there used his good offices with the officials in behalf of the father, who was given employment under the government. His ability and fidelity were soon recognized. He was promoted rapidly, and finally reached the highest office in the gift of the Mogul - that of prime minister of the empire - which he filled with conspicuous ability, wisdom and prudence for many years. As his daughter grew to girlhood she attracted the attention of Prince Jehanghir, who became violently in love with her, and, to prevent complications, the emperor caused her to be married to Shir Afghan Kahn, a young Persian of excellent family, who was made viceroy of Bengal, and took his wife with him to Calcutta.

Several years later, when Jehanghir ascended the throne, he had not forgotten the beautiful Persian, and sent emissaries to Calcutta to arrange with her husband for a divorce so that he might take her into his own harem. Shir Afghan refused, and the king ordered his assassination. Nur Jehan undoubtedly loved her husband, and sincerely mourned him. She repelled the addresses of the emperor, and for several years earned her living by embroidery and painting silks. One day the emperor surprised her in her apartment. He was the only man in India who had the right to intrude upon his lady subjects, but seems to have used it with rare discretion. When she recognized her visitor she bowed her head to the floor nine times in accordance with the custom of the country; and although she was wearing the simplest of garments, she had lost none of her beauty or graces, and treated the Mogul with becoming modesty and dignity. When he reproached her for her plain attire she replied:

"Those born to servitude must dress as it shall please them whom they serve. Those women around me are my servants and I lighten their bondage by every indulgence in my power; and I, who am your slave, O Emperor of the World, am willing to dress according to your pleasure and not my own."

This significant retort pleased His Majesty immensely, and, with the facilities that were afforded emperors in those days, he had her sent at once to the imperial harem, where she was provided with every possible comfort and luxury and was promoted rapidly over the other women. She received the title Nur Jehan Begam (Light of the World). The Emperor granted her the right of sovereignty in her own name; her portrait was placed upon the coin of the country; and after several years her power became so great that the officials would not obey any important order from his majesty unless it bore her indorsement. He willingly submitted to her judgment and counsel. She repressed his passions, caprices and prejudices, and when any matter of serious importance arose in the administration of affairs, it was submitted to her before action was taken. Her beauty and her graces were the theme of all the poets of India, and her goodness, the kindness of her heart and her unbounded generosity are preserved by innumerable traditions. She was the godmother of all orphan girls and provided their dowers when they were married, and it is said that during her reign she procured good husbands for thousands of friendless girls who otherwise must have spent their lives in slavery. Thus the child of the desert became the most powerful influence in the East, for in those days the authority of the Mogul extended from the Ganges to the Bosporus and the Baltic Sea.

Nur Jehan took good care of her own family. Her father continued to occupy the office of grand vizier until his death, and her brother, Asaf Khan, became high treasurer of the empire and father-in-law of the Mogul. Other relatives were placed in remunerative and influential positions. But at last she made a blunder, and failed to secure the crown for her son, Sheriar, who, being a younger member of the family, was not entitled to it, and Shah Jehan, the oldest son of the Mogul by another wife, succeeded him to the throne.

Shah Jehan promptly murdered his ambitious brother, as was the amiable custom of those days, but treated his father's famous widow with great respect and generosity. He presented her with a magnificent palace, gave her an allowance of $1,250,000 a year and accepted her pledge that she would interfere no longer in politics. She survived nineteen years and devoted her time and talents thereafter and several millions of dollars to the construction of a tomb to the memory of her father, which still stands as one of the finest of the group of architectural wonders of Agra. It is situated in a walled garden on the bank of the River Jumna about a mile and a half from the hotels, and is constructed entirely of white marble. The sides are of the most beautiful perforated work, and the towers are of exquisite design. Much of the walls are covered with the Florentine mosaic work similar to that which distinguishes the Taj Mahal.

Shah Jehan, the greatest of all the Moguls, had many wives, and three in particular. One of them was a Hindu, of whom we know very little; another was a Mohammedan, the daughter of Asaf Khan, high treasurer of the empire and the niece of Nur Jehan. She is the woman who sleeps in the Taj Mahal, the most beautiful of all human structures. The third was Miriam, a Portuguese Christian princess, who never renounced her religion, and built a Roman Catholic Church in a park outside the walls of Agra in connection with a palace provided for her special residence. This marriage was brought about through the influence of the governor of the Portuguese colony at Goa, 200 miles south of Bombay, and illustrates the liberality of Shah Jehan in religious matters. He not only tolerated, but invited Catholic missionaries to come into his empire and preach their doctrines, and although we know very little of the experience of the Sultana Miriam, and her life must have been rather lonely and isolated, yet the king did not require her to remain in the harem with his other wives, but gave her an independent establishment a considerable distance from the city, where she was attended by ladies of her own race and religion. Her palace has disappeared, but the church she built is still standing, and her tomb is preserved. By successive changes they have passed under the control of the Church of England and her grounds are now occupied by an orphanage under the superintendence of a Mr. Moore, who has 360 young Hindus under his care. The fathers and mothers of most of them died during the famine and he is teaching them useful trades. We stopped to talk to some of the children as we drove about the place, but did not get much information. The boys giggled and ran away and the workmen were surprisingly ignorant of their own affairs, which, I have discovered, is a habit Hindus cultivate when they meet strangers.

Akbar the Great is buried in a coffin of solid gold in a mausoleum of exquisite beauty about six miles from Agra on the road to Delhi. It is another architectural wonder. Many critics consider it almost equal to Taj Mahal. It is reached by a lovely drive along a splendid road that runs like a green aisle through a grove of noble old trees whose boughs are inhabited by myriads of parrots and monkeys. The mausoleum is quite different from any other that we have seen, being a sort of pyramid of four open platforms, standing on columns. These are of red sandstone and the fourth, where rests the tomb of the great Mogul, of marble. The lower stories are frescoed and decorated elaborately in blue and gold. The fourth or highest platform is a beautiful little cloister of the purest white. No description in words could possibly do it justice or convey anything like an accurate idea of its beauty. Imagine, if you can, a platform eighty feet from the ground reached by beautiful stairways and inclosed by roofless walls of the purest marble that was ever quarried. These walls are divided into panels. Each panel contains a slab of marble about an inch thick and perforated like the finest of lace. The divisions and frame work, the base and frieze are chiseled with embroidery in stone such as can be found nowhere else. There is no roof but the sky. In the center of this lofty chamber stands a solid block of marble which is covered with inscriptions from the Koran in graceful, flowing Persian text. Sealed within a cenotaph underneath are the remains of the great Akbar.

About three feet from his head stands a low marble column exquisitely carved. It is about four feet high, and in the center of the top is a defect, a rough hole, which seems to have been left there intentionally. When the mighty Akbar died, his son and successor, the Emperor Jehanghir, imbedded in the center of that column, where it might be admired by the thousands of people who came to the tomb every day, the Kohinoor, then the most valued diamond in the world and still one of the most famous of jewels, and chief ornament in the British crown. It was one of the most audacious exhibitions of wealth and recklessness ever made, but the stone remained there in the open air, guarded only by the ordinary custodian of the tomb, from 1668 to 1739, when Nadir, Shah of Persia, invaded India, captured Delhi, sacked the palaces of the moguls, and carried back to his own country more than $300,000,000 worth of their treasures.