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CALCUTTA TO BIBNIBASHI.
Departure—Pinnace-Bengalee boat-Hindoo Fanatics North-Wester
-Chinsura - Ranaghát — Sibnibashi — Ruins - Raja OmichundDurbar-Decoits.
JUNE 15.—This morning I left Calcutta for my Visitation through the Upper Provinces. This excursion, to which both my wife and I had long looked forwards with delightful anticipations, will now become a dreary banishment to me, as the state of her own health, and the circumstance of her having an infant, are considered as insuperable obstacles to her undertaking such a journey. Accompanied by my domestic Chaplain, Mr. Stowe, I embarked on board a fine 16 oared pinnace for Dacca, which was to be the first station on my Visitation. After about two hours squabbling with the owner and navigators of the vessel, we got under weigh, with a fine south breeze and the floodtide. Archdeacon Corrie, with his wife and children, accompanied us in a budgerow, and we had two smaller boats, one for cooking, the other for our baggage. We advanced to Barrackpoor that night, and in order to make up for lost time, I urged the boatmen forwards a good while after it was dark, the river being familiar to us all. The lights in Serampoor and Barrackpoor, the tall massive
shadows of the Government House, and of two state barges in the river, which, by this uncertain light, appeared like vessels of considerable importance, made our anchoring-place very beautiful. Soon after we were made snug for the night a strong storm of rain and wind came on. Our course during this day was pretty steadily north-northwest by quarter west, -the distance 24 miles.
June 16.-We weighed anchor about half-past four, and arrived at Chandernagore by half-past nine. We there paid the Governor, Mons. Pellissier a visit, who pressed us to stay to dinner with him, which invitation we accepted. The Governor's house has been much beautified since I was here before, and now has really a very handsome appearance. Between Barrackpoor and Chandernagore are some large and handsome pagodas, which are however excelled in beauty by one of a smaller size, under a noble grove of tall trees.
A Bengalee boat is the simplest and rudest of all possible structures. It is decked over, throughout its whole length, with bamboo; and on this is erected a low light fabric of bamboo and straw, exactly like a small cottage without a chimney, this is the cabin, baggage-room, &c.; here the passengers sit and sleep, and here, if it be intended for a cooking-boat, are one or two small ranges of brick-work, like English hot-hearths, but not rising more than a few inches above the deck, with small, round, sugar-loaf holes, like those in a lime-kiln, adapted for dressing victuals with charcoal. As the roof of this apartment is by far too fragile for
men to stand or sit on, and as the apartment itself takes up nearly two-thirds of the vessel, upright bamboos are fixed by its side, which support a kind of grating of the same material, immediately above the roof, on which, at the height probably of six or eight feet above the surface of the water, the boatmen sit or stand to work the vessel. They have, for oars, long bamboos, with circular boards at the end, a longer one of the same sort to steer with, a long rough bamboo for a mast, and one, or sometimes two sails, of a square form, (or rather broader above than below,) of very coarse and flimsy canvas. Nothing can seem more clumsy or dangerous than these boats. Dangerous I believe they are, but with a fair wind they sail over the water merrily. The breeze this morning carried us along at a good rate, yet our English-rigged brig could do no more than keep up with the cooking-boat.
There is a large ruined building a few miles to the south of Chandernagore, which was the country house of the Governor during the golden days of that settlement, and of the French influence in this part of India. It was suffered to fall to decay when Chandernagore was seized by us; but when Mr. Corrie came to India, was, though abandoned, still entire, and very magnificent, with a noble staircase, painted ceilings, &c.; and altogether, in his opinion, the finest building of the kind in this country. It has at present a very melancholy aspect, and in some degree reminded me of Moreton-Corbet having, like that, the remains of Grecian
1 A ruinous building in Shropshire.-ED.
pillars and ornaments, with a high carved pediment. In beauty of decoration, however, it falls far short of Moreton-Corbet, in its present condition. This is the only visible sign of declining prosperity in this part of the country. The town of Chandernagore itself, though small, is neat, and even hand
It has a little Catholic Church, and some very tolerable streets, with respectable dwellinghouses. An appearance of neatness and comfort is exhibited by the native villages; and, as an Indian generally lays out some of his superfluous wealth in building or adding to a pagoda, it is a strong mark of progressive and rapid improvement to say, as Mr. Corrie did to-day, that all the large pagodas, between “ Calcutta and this place have been founded, or re-built, in his memory." This, however, I must confess, does not tell much for the inclination of the Hindoos to receive a new religion. Indeed, except in our schools, I see no appearance of it. The austerities and idolatries exercised by them, strike me as much, or I think more, the more I see of them. A few days since I saw a tall, large, elderly man, nearly naked, walking with three or four others, who suddenly knelt down one after the other, and catching hold of his foot, kissed it repeatedly. The man stood with much gravity to allow them to do so, but said nothing. He had the string (“ peeta,") of a Brahmin. Another man passed us on Sunday morning last, hopping on one foot. He was a devotee who had made a vow never to use the other, which was now contracted, and shrunk close up to his hams.
Lately, too, I saw a man who held his hands always above his head, and had thus lost the power of bringing them down to his sides. In general, however, I must own that these spectacles are not so common, at least so far as I can yet judge, as, before I came to India, I expected to find them.
Chandernagore was taken by Lord Clive and Admiral Watson, in 1757, after a gallant and bloody defence: and it is worth recording, as a proof of the alterations which have taken place in this branch of the Ganges, that Watson brought up a 74 gun ship to batter it. It was afterwards restored to the French, who lost it again during the war of the Revolution, but who have now received some favours from the English Government, at which, when compared with the severity shewn towards the colonists of Serampoor, the latter think they have reason to repine.
We spent a very pleasant evening with Mons. Pellissier. Our party consisted of his wife, daughter, and son, the physician and secretary of the factory, and an Abbè, whom I supposed to be the chaplain. The little Church, which I had seen from the beach, belongs to the “ Tibet Mission,” a branch of the Society “pro propaganda fide," at Rome, which seems to extend its cares all over India, which it supplies for the most part with Italian priests, though my old visitor, the Rev. Jacob Mecazenas, the Georgian monk, is one of its agents. They have a bishop somewhere near Agra, an Italian, and the priests, (for I understood there were more than one at Chandernagore,) are of this