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94

HINDOOSTANEE PENTATEUCH.

trines of the Church of England, on which I hope I

gave him satisfactory information, (preferring to remove his prejudices against us, rather than to make any direct attack on his own principles). His greatest curiosity, however, was about the Free-masons, who had lately been going in solemn procession to lay the first stone of the new Hindoo College. Were they Christians ?” “ Were they of my Church?” He could not understand that this bond of union was purely civil, convivial, or benevolent, seeing they made so much use of prayer; and was greatly surprised when I said, that in Europe both Christians and Mussulmans belonged to the Society; and that of the gentlemen whom he had seen the other day, some went to the Cathedral, and some to Dr. Bryce's Church.

He did not, indeed, understand that between Dr. Bryce and the other chaplains any difference existed ; and, I had no desire, on finding this, to carry my explanations on this point further. He asked, at length, “If I was a Mason ?” “ If I knew their secret ?" “ If I could guess it ?” “ If I thought it was any thing wicked or Jacobinical ?” I answered, that I was no Mason; and took care to express my conviction that the secret, if there was any, was perfectly harmless; and we parted very good friends, with mutual expressions of anxiety to meet again. Greatly indeed should I rejoice, if any thing which I can say should be of service to him.

I have for these few days past been reading the Hindoostanee Pentateuch, with my “Moonshee," or teacher, who has never seen it before, and is highly

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delighted with its beauty and eloquence, particularly with the account of Paradise, the flood, and the fall of man. “ It must have been a delightful place,” said he, when reading of Eden and its four rivers. He asked me many, and some very interesting questions, and I began almost to hope that what I had the opportunity of saying to him, would, joined to the excellence of the Scriptures themselves, have gradually some effect, when one day he manifested a jealousy of the superiority of our Scriptures over those of his countrymen, and brought me a book, which he assured me greatly resembled the work of Moses, begging me to read it, which I readily promised. It was a translation into English of the “ Supta Sati," a portion of the “ Marcumdeya Purana," and recounts the exploits of a certain goddess, named “ Maha-Maya." (Great Delusion,) produced by the combined energies of all the deities 'united, in order to defeat the demons and giants. Some parts of it are not unlike the most inflated descriptions in the Edda ; and though a strange rhapsody, it is not devoid of spirit. But it has not the most distant approach to any moral lesson, or to any practical wisdom. The translator is a Brahmin from Madras, now in Calcutta, soliciting subscriptions for the sufferers by famine on the Coromandel coast. He called on me the other day for this pnrpose ; for which also he had contrived to assemble a numerous meeting of wealthy natives, an event so unusual as to excite much surprise among those Europeans whom I have heard mention it. None of the sums subscribed were very

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large, but it is a new thing to see a charitable feeling of this kind awakened among them. I felt myself bound to subscribe, if it were only to shew them that in such undertakings Christians would gladly co-operate with them, and even entrust their money to their distribution. On talking, however, with one of the most liberal of the subscribers, (Vomanundun Thakoor,) I found they had not the same confidence in each other which I placed in them. “ Ramaswani Pundit,” he said, “ may be a very good man, but I took care at the meeting that all the money subscribed should be lodged with the house of Palmer and Co., and be distributed at Madras by the English committee there. I do not know the Madras Pundits,--but I know that Europe gentlemen have character to lose.”

The external meanness of all the shops, depositories, and warehouses in this great city is surprising. The bazars are wretchedness itself, without any approach to those covered walks, which are the chief glory of the cities of Turkey, Russia, and Persia, and which, in a climate like this, where both the sun and the rains are intolerable, would be more than any where else desirable. Yet I have read magnificent accounts of the shops and bazars of Calcutta. But they were in the same authors who talk of the picturesque appearance of its “Minarets," whereas there is absolutely no single minaret in Calcutta; nor so far as I have seen or heard, in any of its neighbouring towns. Hamilton's book, where this is mentioned, is generally regarded as very correct. How could such a mis

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take occur in a matter, of all others, the most obvious to the eye? There are many small mosques, indeed, but the Muezzins all stand at the door, or on some small eminence adjoining. Minarets there are none. Perhaps he confounded the church and steeple, and supposed that mosque and minaret were synonymous. But none of the mosques are seen in any general view of Calcutta, being too small, too low, and built in too obscure corners to be visible, till one is close upon them. They rather, indeed, resemble the tombs of saints, than places for public worship, such as are seen in Turkey, Persia, and the south of Russia. Though diminutive, however, many of them are pretty, and the sort of eastern Gothic style in which they are built, is to my eye, though trained up to reverence the pure English style, extremely pleasing. They consist generally of a parallelogram of about thirtysix feet by twelve, or hardly so much, surmounted by three little domes, the apex of each terminated by a flower, with small but richly ornamented pinnacles in the angles. The faces of the building are covered with a good deal of Arabesque tracery, and pierced with a small door, of Gothic form, in the centre of one of the longest faces, and a small window, of almost similar form, on each side. Opposite to the door, which opens eastward, and on the western side, is a small recess, which serves to enshrine the Koran, and to direct the eyes of the faithful to the “ Kibla” of Mecca. The taste of these little oratories is better than their materials, which are unfortunately, in this part of India, no

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98

FESTIVAL OF CHURRUCK POOJAH.

thing but brick covered with plaister : while they last, however, they are really great ornaments to the lanes and villages where they occur, and might furnish some advantageous hints, I think, to the Christian architects of India.

March 25.–Our friends, Mr. and Miss Stowe arrived, well and in good spirits, after a very tedious voyage.

April 9.-The Hindoo festival of “ Churruck Poojah” commenced to-day, of which, as my wife has given an account in her journal', I shall only add a few particulars.

· One of the Hindoo festivals in honour of the goddess Kali commenced this evening. Near the river a crowd was assembled round a stage of bamboos, 15 feet high, composed of two upright, and three horizontal poles, which last were placed at about five feet asunder. On this kind of ladder several men mounted, with large bags, out of which they threw down various articles to the by-standers, who caught them with great eagerness ; but I was too far off to ascertain what they were. They then one by one raised their joined hands over their heads, and threw themselves down with a force, which must have proved fatal had not their fall been broken by some means or other. The crowd was too dense to allow of my discovering how this was effected ; but it is certain they were unhurt, as they immediately reascended, and performed the same ceremonies many times.

On the 10th we were awakened before day-break, by the discordant sounds of native musical instruments, and immediately mounted our horses, and rode to the Meidân. As the morning advanced we could see an immense crowd coming down the Chowringhee road, which was augmented by persons joining it from all the streets and lanes of the city. We entered the crowd, taking the precaution of making the saees walk close by my horse's head, who was frightened at the music, dancing, and glare of torches, accompanied at intervals by the deep sound of the gong.

“ The double double peal of the drum was there,

And the startling sound of the trumpet's blare,
And the gong, that seemed with its thunders dread
To stun the living, and waken the dead.”

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