Ockley based his work on an Arabic manuscript in the Bodleian library which later scholars have pronounced less trustworthy than he imagined it to be. His English is pure, and simple, his narrative extraordinarily vivid and dramatic, and told in words exactly suited to his subject—whether he is describing how Caulah and her companions kept their Damascene captors at bay until her brother Derar and his horsemen came to deliver them, or telling the tragic story of the death of Hosein. The book was translated into French in 1748, and was long held to be authoritative. As a history, its defects are patent, its account of the conquest of Persia, for example, is so slight that even the decisive battle of Cadesia is not mentioned; nor is any attempt made to examine the causes of the rapid successes of the Saracen arms: it reads, indeed, more like a collection of sagas than a history. Such defects, however, do not impair its peculiar literary merit.

The antagonism of the various races, tribes, castes, creeds and sovereignties, the aggregate of which forms the geographical unity of what is called India, continued to be the vital principle of British supremacy. In later times, however, the conditions of that supremacy have undergone a change. With the conquest of Scinde and the Punjaub, the Anglo-Indian empire had not only reached its natural limits, but it had trampled out the last vestiges of independent Indian States.

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