« PreviousContinue »
and laborious. Potatoes are becoming gradually abundant in Bengal; at first they were here, as elsewhere, unpopular. Now they are much liked, and are spoken of as the best thing which the country has ever received from its European masters. At dinner these people sit, not like the Turks, but with the knees drawn up like monkeys.
Their eating and drinking vessels are of copper, very bright and well kept, and their whole appearance cleanly and decent, their countenances more animated, but less mild and gentle than the Hindoos. They do not seem much troubled with the prejudices of Mohammedanism, yet there are some services, which they obviously render to their masters with reluctance. The captain of the yacht ordered one of them, at my desire, to lay hold of our spaniel; the man made no difficulty, but afterwards rubbed his hand against the side of the ship with an expression of disgust which annoyed me, and I determined to spare their feelings in future as much as possible.
We had hoped to reach Fulta, where there is an English hotel, before night; but the wind being foul, were obliged to anchor a few miles short of it. After dinner, the heat being considerably abated, we went in the yacht's boat to the nearest shore. Before us was a large extent of swampy ground, but in a high state of cultivation, and covered with green rice, offering an appearance not unlike flax; on our right was a moderate-sized village, and on the banks of the river a numerous herd of cattle was feeding; these are mostly red,
or red and white,' with humps on their backs, nearly resembling those which I have seen at Wynnstay and Combermere. Buffaloes are uncommon in the lower parts of Bengal. As we approached the village a number of men and boys came out to meet us, all naked except the cummerbund, with very graceful figures, and distinguished by a mildness of countenance almost approaching to effeminacy. They regarded us with curiosity, and the children crowded round with great familiarity. The objects which surrounded us were of more than common beauty and interest; the village, a collection of mud-walled cottages, thatched, and many of them covered with a creeping plant bearing a beautiful broad leaf, of the gourd species, stood irregularly scattered in the midst of a wood of coco-palms, fruit, and other trees, among which the banyan was very conspicuous and beautiful ; we were cautioned against attempting to enter the houses, as such a measure gives much offence. Some of the natives, however, came up and offered to shew us the way to the pagoda," the Temple,” they said, “ of Mahadeo.” We followed them through the beautiful grove which overshadowed their dwellings, by a winding and narrow path; the way was longer than we expected, and it was growing dusk; we persevered, however, and arrived in front of a small building with three apertures in front, resembling lancet windows of the age of Henry the Second. A flight of steps led up to it, in which the Brahmin of the place was waiting to receive us,-an elderly man,