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APPROACH TO DACCA,
was passed by, and unless we gave him a lift, he had no chance of getting to Dacca, the country being all flooded, and he unable to swim even a few yards. I immediately turned the boat's head to the shore, and he came on board, a very fine handsome man, naked save his waist-cloth, and with a Brahminical string, but with all the carriage and air of a guard's-man. Nobody could, indeed, mistake his profession, even if he had not made his military salute very gracefully. He said he had begged a passage that morning in six or eight boats, but seeing him naked and pennyless they had all (as he said) “ run over to the other side, as if he had been a tiger.” He added, on seeing a Sahib his hopes revived, but, continued he, “ these cursed Bengalees are not like other people, and care nothing for a soldier, or any body else in trouble." "To be sure," he said, laughing, they always run away well.” He pointed out some budgerows and other large boats dropping down the stream a few miles before us, and said his comrades were there, and he should be very thankful if we would put him on board of any one. We were about an hour overtaking them, but the first we approached turned out to be a cook-boat, and he begged hard that I would not put him in a vessel where he could not escape defilement, (showing his string.)
We accordingly proceeded through the fleet, which consisted of about twenty vessels, all deeply loaded, with their masts struck, and their long cumbersome oars answering very little purpose, except to keep them steady in the middle of the current. Such of them, indeed, as were in its strength, were only to be approached with caution, since as they dropped down at the rate of five or six miles an hour, and were perfectly unmanageable, they would, if they had struck her, have swamped our little boat in an instant. There was one, however, which we could board without difficulty, but this was a washerman's boat, and our passenger again objected. This second scruple excited such a burst of laughter from the Mussulman dandees, that the soldier blushed up to the eyes as soon as he had made it, and begged pardon of me, saying, “ the boat would do very well;" then jumping on board with another military salam, he left us to proceed with more rapidity when freed from his weight. The towers of Dacca were already in sight, at least the dandees could see them at the end of a reach of water, perhaps twelve miles in length, along which we sped merrily. As we drew nearer, I was surprised at the extent of the place, and the stateliness of the ruins, of which, indeed, the city seemed chiefly to consist. Besides some huge dark masses of castle and tower, the original destination of which could not be mistaken, and which were now overgrown with ivy and peepul trees, as well as some old mosques and pagodas, of apparently the same date, there were some large and handsome buildings, which,
ARRIVAL AT DACCA.
at a distance, bid fair to offer us a better reception, and towards which I, in the first instance, proposed to direct our course, knowing the difficulty which we should have, if we passed them, in returning against the stream. The boatmen said, they did not think the "Sahib Log” lived in that part of the town, but were not sure, and the appearance of a spire, which, as it seemed to mark the site of the church, confirmed me in my resolution of bearing off to the left. As we approached, however, we found these buildings also, (though of more recent date than Shah Jehanguire, and many of them of Grecian architecture,) as ruinous as the rest, while the spire turned out to be a Hindoo obelisk. While we were approaching the shore, at the distance of about half a mile from these desolate palaces, a sound struck my ear, as if from the water itself, on which we were riding, the most solemn and singular I can conceive. It was long, loud, deep, and tremulous, something between the bellowing of a bull and the blowing of a whale, or perhaps most like those roaring buoys which are placed at the mouths of some English harbours, in which the winds make a noise, to warn ships off them. Oh,” said Abdullah, “there are elephants bathing; Dacca much place for elephant." I looked immediately, and saw about twenty of these fine animals, with their heads and trunks just appearing above the water. Their bellowing it was which I had heard, and which the water conveyed to us with a finer effect than if we had been ashore. Another mile or thereabouts of rowing brought us to some buildings of a more habitable description, and pretty much like those of Calcutta. One of these, close to the water's edge, was pointed out to me as Mr. Master's, who was himself in the court of justice, but whose servants, though surprised to see the style in which I arrived, had an excellent bed-room for me, with every thing ready for bathing and dressing I found myself in no respect the worse for my boating, except that my face was a little burnt, in spite of my chahtah, by the reflection of the water, while my shins (which had been exposed to the sun, owing to my trowsers slipping up in the uncomfortable situation in which I was compelled to sit) were scorched as if I had laid them before a great fire. These I washed in milk, which relieved them a good deal. Mr. Master, when he returned, said that, though I had, perhaps, done a rash thing in coming through the sun, yet certainly I took the only means of arriving in time for church. He said that he would send a guard-boat to help the pinnace on, but that she could not possibly get to Dacca under twenty-four hours. For my part, except my shins, I never felt better.
RUINS_VISIT FROM THE NAWAB-VISIT RETURNED-DEATH OF MR.
STOWE-CONSECRATION OF CHURCH, AND BURIAL-GROUND-CONFIRMATION-ARMENIAN ARCHBISHOP-FAREWELL VISIT TO NAWABMEER ISRAF ALI.
July 4.- preached to a small congregation, in a very small but pretty Gothic Church. Mr. Parish read prayers, and gave notice of the Consecration and Confirmation for the Wednesday and Friday ensuing. About 4 o'clock the pinnace arrived, but Stowe, to my great concern, sent word that he was too ill to leave it, having had a very severe relapse of dysentery. I took Mr. Todd, the surgeon of the station, to him, who pressed his making the attempt for the sake of a more airy apartment than his cabin, and in an hour's time, the wind having abated, he got into Mr. Master's house and to bed, I hope not the worse for the exertion. Nothing can exceed Mr. Master's kindness to us both, but I am sorry to say, he is himself by no means in good health.
The river on which Dacca stands, has greatly altered its character since Rennell drew his map. It was then narrow, but is now, even during the dry season, not much less than the Hooghly at Calcutta. At present it is somewhat wider, but from the upper windows of Mr. Master's house, the opposite bank may be seen also in a great degree flooded; and though the green rice rising with the water, gives it no other appearance than that of a swampy meadow, small boats are seen every where paddling about amid the crop, which yields them way without difficulty.
Dacca, Mr. Master says, is, as I supposed, merely the wreck of its ancient grandeur. Its trade is reduced to the sixtieth part of what it was, and all its splendid buildings, the castle of its founder Shahjehanguire, the noble mosque he built, the palaces of the ancient Nawabs, the factories and churches of the Dutch, French, and Portuguese nations, are all sunk into ruin, and overgrown with jungle. Mr. Master has himself been present at a tiger hunt in the court of the old palace, during which the elephant of one of his friends fell into a well, overgrown with weeds and bushes. The cotton produced in this district is mostly sent to England raw, and the manufactures of England are preferred by the people of Dacca themselves for their cheapness. There are
still a few Armenians resident in the town, some of them wealthy, with a church, and two priests. Their Archbishop, who makes once in four or five years a journey from Nakitchwan to India, is now in the place, on the same errand with me. There are also a few Portuguese, very poor and degraded. Of Greeks the number is considerable, and they are described as an industrious and intelligent people, mixing more with the English than the rest, and filling many of the subaltern situations under govern
The clerk at the English Church (it happens singularly enough) is a Greek, and the Greek Priest has sent to request permission to call on me. Of English there are none, except a few indigo planters in the neighbourhood, and those in the civil or military service. But the Hindoo and Mohammedan population, Mr. Master still rates at 300,000, certainly no immoderate calculation, since, as he says, he has ascertained that there are above 90,000 houses and huts. The climate of Dacca, Mr. Master reckons one of the mildest in India, the heat being always tempered by the vast rivers flowing near it, and the rapidity of their streams discharging the putrid matter of the annual inundation more rapidly than is ever the case in the Hooghly. The neighbourhood affords only one short ride at this season, and not many even when the ground is dry, being much intersected by small rivers, and some large and impenetrable jungles coming pretty close to the north-east of the town. Boating is popular, and they make boats very well here. Indeed I cannot conceive a situation which more naturally would lead men to take delight in sailing. No vessels, however, larger than the small country built brigs ever come to Dacca ; during the rains, ships of any moderate burden might do so, but it would be attended with some risk, and the inducements to enter this branch of the Ganges are not sufficient to encourage men to endanger their vessels or themselves, though as far as Luckipoor small European craft have been known to come. The majority prefer Chittagong, though even this last has a harbour little adapted for vessels of burthen.
Of Chittagong I learnt many interesting particulars. The town of Islamabad itself is not large, and the English society is still smaller than at Dacca. The country round is pretty and romantic, consisting of a number of little round steep hills covered with verdure, coffee, pepper, vines, and bamboos, on the summits of which the villas of the English are generally placed. These are not very accessible, the roads being often too steep and stony to admit of carriages or horses, and the usual method of visiting being in tonjons, and even these, no bearers but the practised ones of Chittagong would be able to carry in such a country. At some distance from the coast are mountains which
divide this territory from that of the Burmese, and are covered by almost impenetrable woods and thickets. The climate, Mr. Master thinks, has been over-praised. It is certainly cooler during the hot months than Calcutta, but not than Dacca, while during the rainy season and the winter, it is exceedingly raw, aguish, and asthmatic, being subject to continual and very offensive fogs, from the quantity of uncleared land, and the neighbouring mountains. But little has been attempted at Dacca or Chittagong for the conversion of the natives, and that little has had very small success. At the former place is a Baptist minister, who is described as a very good and diligent man, and has succeeded in establishing one Christian school (but among the Portuguese and Greek children), and some few Bengalee schools for the natives. But in these last he has either not ventured to introduce the New Testament, or has failed in doing so; a result so different from what has been the case in every other part of India, that I suspect some want of address at least in the instructor. He appears, however, to have received considerable encouragement from the English families, and I apprehend that a Church Missionary establishment of the same sort, would find the situation by no means a bad one.
July 5.-To-day I had visits from most of the civil and military functionaries of Dacca. I had also a visit from Mr. Lee, a sort of secretary to his highness the Nawab Shumsheddowlab, to congratulate me on my arrival, and to appoint a day for his calling on me. This potentate is now, of course, shorn of all political power, and is not even allowed the state palanquin, which his brother (whose heir he is) had, and which his neighbour the Nawâb of Moorshedabad still retains. He has, however, an allowance of 10,000 s. rupees per month, is permitted to keep a court, with guards, and is styled “highness.”
The palanquin, indeed, was a distinction to which his brother had no very authentic claim, and which this man could hardly expect, having been very leniently dealt with in being allowed the succession at all. He had in his youth been a bad subject, had quarrelled with government and his own family, and been concerned in the bloody conspiracy of Vizier Ali. For his share in this, he was many years imprisoned in Calcutta, during which time he acquired a better knowledge of the English language and literature than most of his countrymen possess. He speaks and writes English very tolerably, and even fancies himself a critic in Shakspeare. He has been really a man, Mr. Master tells me, of vigorous and curious mind, who, had his talents enjoyed a proper vent, might have distinguished himself. But he is now growing old, infirm, and indolent, more and more addicted to the listless indulgences of an Asiatic prince; pomp, so far as he can afford it, dancing