"If you can be in India only so short a time as seven weeks," said an artist friend of mine - and among his pictures is a sombre representation of the big sacred bull that grazes under the walls of Delhi Fort - "why not stay in Delhi all the while? You will then learn far more of India than by rushing about." I think he was right, although it was not feasible to accept the advice. For Delhi has so much; it has, first and foremost, the Fort; it has the Jama Masjid, that immense mosque where on Fridays at one o'clock may be seen Mohammedans of every age wearing every hue, thousands worshipping as one; it has the ancient capitals scattered about the country around it; it has signs and memories of the Mutiny; it has delectable English residences; and it has the Chadni Chauk, the long main street with all its curious buildings and crowds and countless tributary alleys, every one of which is the East crystallised, every one of which has its white walls, its decorative doorways, its loiterers, its beggars, its artificers, and its defiance of the bogey, Progress.

Another thing: in January, Delhi, before the sun is high and after he has sunk, is cool and bracing.

But, most of all, Delhi is interesting because it was the very centre of the Mogul dominance, and when one has become immersed in the story of the great rulers, from Babar to Aurungzebe, one thinks of most other history as insipid. Of Babar, who reigned from 1526 to 1530, I saw no trace in India; but his son Humayun (1530-1556) built Indrapat, which is just outside the walls of Delhi, and he lies close by in the beautiful mausoleum that bears his name. Humayun's son, Akbar (1556-1605), preferred Agra to Delhi; nor was Jahangir (1605-1627), who succeeded Akbar, a great builder hereabout; but with Shah Jahan (1627-1658), Jahangir's son, came the present Delhi's golden age. He it was who built the Jama Masjid, the great mosque set commandingly on a mound and gained by magnificent flights of steps. To the traveller approaching the city from any direction the two graceful minarets of the mosque stand for Delhi. It was Shah Jahan, price of Mogul builders, who decreed also the palace in the Fort, to say nothing (at the moment) of the Taj Mahal at Agra; while two of his daughters, Jahanara, and Roshanara, that naughty Begam, enriched Delhi too, the little pavilion in the Gardens that bear Roshanara's name being a gem. Wandering among these architectural delights, now empty and under alien protection, it is difficult to believe that their period was as recent as Cromwell and Milton. But in India the sense of chronology vanishes.

After Shah Jahan came his crafty son, Aurungzebe, who succeeded in keeping his empire together until 1707, and with him the grandeur of the Grand Moguls waned and after him ceased to be, although not until the Mutiny was their rule extinguished. As I have just said, in India the sense of chronology vanishes, or goes astray, and it is with a start that one is confronted, in the Museum in Delhi Fort, by a photograph of the last Mogul!

In Bombay, during my wakeful moments in the hottest part of the day, I had passed the time and imbibed instruction by reading the three delightful books of the late E. H. Aitken, who called himself "Eha" - "Behind the Bungalow," "The Tribes on My Frontier" and "A Naturalist on the Prowl." No more amusing and kindly studies of the fauna, flora and human inhabitants of a country can have ever been written than these; and I can suggest, to the domestically curious mind, no better preparation for a visit to India. But at Raisina, when the cool evenings set in and it was pleasant to get near the wood fire, I took to history and revelled in the story of the Moguls as told by many authorities, but most entertainingly perhaps by Tavernier, the French adventurer who took service under Aurungzebe. If any one wants to know what Delhi was like in the seventeenth century during Aurungzebe's long reign, and how the daily life in the Palace went, and would learn more of the power and autocracy and splendour and cruelty of the Grand Moguls, let him get Tavernier's record. If once I began to quote from it I should never stop; and therefore I pass on, merely remarking that when you have finished the travels of M. Tavernier, the travels of M. Bernier, another contemporary French observer, await you. And I hold you to be envied.

The Palace in the Fort is now but a fraction of what it was in the time of Aurungzebe and his father, but enough remains to enable the imaginative mind to reconstruct the past, especially if one has read my two annalists. One of Bernier's most vivid passages describes the Diwan- i-Am, or Hall of Public Audience, the building to which, after leaving the modern military part of the Fort, one first comes, where the Moguls sat in state during a durbar, and painted and gilded elephants, richly draped, took part in the obeisances. Next comes the Hall of Private Audiences, where the Peacock Throne once stood. It has now vanished, but in its day it was one of the wonders of the world, the tails of the two guardian peacocks being composed of precious stones and the throne itself being of jewelled gold. It was for this that one of Shah Jahan's poets wrote an inscription in which we find such lines as -

  By the order of the Emperor the azure of Heaven 
    was exhausted on its decoration....

  The world had become so short of gold on account of 
    its use in the throne that the purse of the Earth 
    was empty of treasure....

  On a dark night, by the lustre of its rubies and pearls 
    it can lend stars to a hundred skies....

That was right enough, no doubt, but when our poet went on to say,

  As long as a trace remains of existence and space 
    Shah Jahan shall continue to sit on this throne,

we feel that he was unwise. Such pronouncements can be tested. As it happened, Shah Jahan was destined, very shortly after the poem was written, to be removed into captivity by his son, and the rest of his unhappy life was spent in a prison at Agra. On each end wall of the Hall of Private Audience is the famous couplet, -

  If there is a Paradise on the face of the earth, 
  It is this, Oh! it is this, Oh! it is this.

I think of the garden and palace of Delhi Fort as the loveliest spot in India. Not the most beautiful, not the most impressive; but the loveliest. The Taj Mahal has a greater beauty; the ruined city of Fatehpur-Sikri has a greater dignity; but for the perfection of domestic regality in design and material and workmanship, this marble home and mosque and accompanying garden and terrace could not be excelled. After the Halls of Audience we come to the seraglio and accompanying buildings, where everything is perfect and nothing is on the grand scale. The Pearl Mosque could hardly be smaller; and it is as pure and fresh as a lotus. There is a series of apartments all in white marble (with inlayings of gold and the most delicately pierced marble gratings) through which a stream of water used to run (and it ran again at the Coronation Durbar in 1911, when the Royal Baths were again made to "function") that must be one of the most magical of the works of man. Every inch is charming and distinguished. All these rooms are built along the high wall which in the time of Shah Jahan and his many lady loves was washed by the Jumna. But to-day the river has receded and a broad strip of grass intervenes.