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Next we came to Cossipore—the enamelled village of the native rose and the exiled daisy, and the classic spot over which the muse has flung many a soft and sacred enchantment.* The gay villas with which it is studded, and the bloom and beauty of its parterres, reflect a picture in the calm mirror of the waters, that reminds us of the lines,
•I saw from out the wave her structures rise,
As from the stroke of the enchanter's wand.' From Cossipore to Burranagur. Nearly two hundred years ago this was an important mart of traffic belonging to the Dutch. But it was then also so much the resort of bad women from different parts of the country, that it was appellatized by the early English travellers as the Paphos of Calcutta.' Now-a-days, it forms the retreat of the mercantile élite from the cares and vexations of the Ditch, and the merry scene of native holiday pic-nics. The next place is Duckinasore—said, in days gone by, to have been the seat of a Mussulman prince. It is now covered by extensive gardens, gay with brilliant and variegated flowers, and emerald lawns sloping to the water's edge.
Opposite to Duckinasore stands the village of Balli. This is a very old and orthodox place, mentioned in the Kobi Kunkun. It is doubtful, however, how Sreemunto could have sailed by this place, if the Ganges formerly held its course below Satgong-unless, in the age of the poet, the stream had flowed as it does in our day. Long had the ragged appearance of Balli, and its mud-built
* In allusion to the late author of the 'Literary Leaves,' who resided here for many years.
cottages given the lie to its great antiquity. It is noted for being an academy of Hindoo pundits in Lower Bengal. The creek to which it has lent its name affords a nice little inlet for a peep into rural life. Over that creek has been thrown now one of the largest and strongest bridges in Bengal.
Beautiful passage! The banks of the Hooghly, for miles, present the most gay and picturesque scenery. On either hand are gardens and orchards decked in an eternal verdure, and the eyes revel upon landscapes of the richest luxuriance. From the groves shine out the white villas of most tasteful and variegated architecture. Ghauts occur at short intervals, with their wide flights of steps from the banks into the water. Towns and villages turn up in rapid succession. Now, a wooded promontory stretching into the water bounds the view; then, a wide expanse of the river
gorgeous vista. No part of Bengal exhibits such a high degree of populousness, and wealth, and civilization, as the valley of the Hooghly.
Our progress was from bank to bank, or in midstream, as the tide carried the boat. Passed Penhatty, in which is the sumaj of Raghub Pundit. He sleeps embowered under the shade of a madhavi tree, while the river flows immediately below with a soft gurgling song.
Little downwards of Khurdah is a spot, where we remembered to have seen, many a time, in our early days, the ironed skeleton of a highwayman suspended in the air. It reminded one of the period when robberies were committed by announcements in letters and
opens a most
his old age.
cartels to the householder--when honest burghers, falling into the hands of dacoits, were burnt to death by the flames of torches, and housewives were roasted alive in cauldrons of boiling oil.
Khurdah is a noted place for the residence of Nityanunda—the fellow-reformer of Choitunya. The latter retired to Nilachull, leaving his colleague at the head of the diocese in Bengal. Long agad-about ascetic, Nityanunda at last took up his abode at Khurdah, and, falling in love with a Brahmin's daughter, led her to the hymeneal altar, and turned an honest Benedick in
His descendants are the Proroos and Gossains, or Gentoo Bishops, as Mr Holwell calls them. The Gossains promise to ferry you across the Bhubo-Sindhoo, or the Ocean of Life, upon their shoulders. But there is hardly a man among them who is sufficiently strong-built and broad-shouldered to execute the feat of carrying you across even the Hooghly. Now, that loaves and fishes are scarce, the Gossains are leaving off to announce themselves at the doors of their followers with flag-bearers, and khootnies, and hautboys, and taking to the European method of announcement by cards.
Mahesh, on the other side, is famous for being the scene where Juggernauth and his brother Balaram, having fasted the whole day, pawned a bracelet with a shopkeeper to procure some food. The ornament was missed by the Pandas (priests) on their return to Pooree, and they came to release it from the shopkeeper. Nearly three-quarters of a century ago, Warren Hastings had
his garden-house at Mahesh. One or two mango-trees of his planting were to be seen till very lately.
. We then sailed by the spot memorable for the labours of Carey, Ward, and Marshman-those arantcouriers of the Messiah, who first came out to this country for gospelling its people. I do not know,' says Wilberforce, 'a finer instance of the moral sublime, than that a poor cobbler working in his stall, should conceive the idea of converting the Hindoos to Christianity—yet such was Dr Carey.'
Half a century ago, there was a dock-yard at Titahgur. The Dutch also brought their ships up to Chinsurah. Not only is the river silting up, but those were the days of small Portuguese carracks and Dutch galleons, and not of Candias, Simlas, Nubias, and Lady Jocelyns.
Serampore is a snug little town that possesses an exceeding elegance and neatness of appearance. The range of houses along the river makes up a gay and brilliant picture. The interior keeps the promise which a distant view has given. It is the best-kept town in India. The streets are as brightly clean as the walks in a garden. There is not much bustle or activitythe place greatly wears the character of a suburban retreat. But time was, when there was a busy trade, and 'twenty-two ships cleared from this small port in the space of three months. The Danes were here for ninety years. They seem to have been content with this inch of ground, like their old prince Hamlet, and counted themselves kings of infinite space.'
From the opposite shore, Barrackpore, with its pretty park and embowered vice-regal palace, bursts on the sight with a splendid view. Upwards of a century and a half ago, its rural precincts formed the Tusculum of that old Anglo-Indian patriarch, Mr Job Charnock, the founder of Calcutta. He used to come liither not so much to avoid the dust and bother of his bustling capital, as to be near that grave where there rested one with whom his heart still beat in sympathy. This alludes to his wife--a Hindoo woman, whom he had espoused after rescuing her from burning on the funeral pile of her deceased husband.
As a specimen of architecture, the Barrackpore palace has scarcely any claims to excellence. The Marquis of Wellesley had originally commenced this building with the intention of making it a suitable abode for one who had subverted the throne of Tippoo, humbled the gigantic power of the Mahrattas, and numbered among his protégés the Great Mogul of Delhi. But the work was stopped by a dictum of Leadenhallstreet economy, the views of which have often proved a bed of Procrustes to many a noble undertaking. In the great hall, one may feel an unusual dilatation of spirit, and grow for the moment a most politic wiseacre, with big ideas, and state-views, and legislative this-and-that, filling the crannies of his head; but he has scarcely to witness any display of vice-regal grandeur, or engage his attention with anything in the shape of curiosity. The only sights with which one might beguile himself awhile, are a small but diversified collection of portraits