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160

HINDOO PEASANTRY.

men, when it turned out that he had received a beating from one or two men, twenty or thirty others being possibly present, (as in a village or market,) but taking no part in the quarrel. In the same way if a house or a boat is robbed, the complainant generally exaggerates the number of Decoits to any multitude which he may think likely to excite the magistrate's attention and pity. Nevertheless there was, he said, a great deal of gang robbery, very nearly resembling the riband-men of Ireland, but unmised with any political feeling, in all these provinces. It is but too frequent for from five to ten peasants to meet together as soon as it is dark to attack some neighbour's house, and not only plunder, but torture him, his wife

and children, with horrible cruelty, to make him discover his money. These robbers in the daytime follow peaceable professions, and some of them are thriving men, while the whole firm is often under the protection of a Zemindar, who shares the booty, and does his best to bring off any of the gang who may fall into the hands of justice, by suborning witnesses to prove an alibi, bribing the inferior agents of the police, or intimidating the witnesses for the prosecution. In this way many persons are suspected of these practices, who yet go on many years in tolerably good esteem with their neighbours, and completely beyond the reach of a Government which requires proof in order to punish. Mr. Warner thinks the evil has increased since the number of spirit shops has spread so rapidly. At present these places bring in a very considerable revenue to Government, and are frequented by multitudes both of the Hindoo and Mussulman population. They are generally, however, resorted to at night, and thus the drunkenness, the fierce and hateful passions which they engender, lead naturally to those results which night favours, at the same time that they furnish convenient places of meeting for all men who may be banded for an illicit purpose. I asked what the brahmin said to this. He answered that the brahmins themelves were many of them drunkards, and some of them Decoits, and that he thought what influence they retained was less for good or moral restraint, than evil. Yet he said that they had a good deal of influence still, while this had been quite lost by the Mussulman Imams and Moulahs. He spoke, however, favourably of the general character of the people, who are, he said, gentle, cheerful, and industrious, these great crimes being, though unhappily more common than in Europe, yet certainly not universal. He had learned, from different circumstances, more of the internal economy of the humbler Hindoo families than many Europeans do, and had formed a favour. able opinion of their domestic habits and happiness. As there is among the cottagers no seclusion of women, both sexes sit together round their evening lamps in very cheerful conversation,

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and employ themselves either in weaving, spinning, cookery or in playing at a kind of dominos. He says it is untrue that the women in these parts, at least, are ignorant of sewing, spinning, or embroidery, inasmuch as, while the trade of Dacca flourished, the sprigs, &c. which we see on its muslins, were very often the work of female hands. This is a strange and blended tissue of human life and human character! which it is most painful to hear of, since one cannot contemplate the evening enjoyments of a happy and virtuous family, such as is described, without anticipating the possibility of their cottage being made, during the night, a scene of bloodshed, torture, and massacre. Yet, alas! can we forget that in all these respects, India is too like Ireland !

July 26.-Still I had no news of Miss Stowe, and I was compelled to remain at Furreedpoor. I am sadly weary of waiting; and the worst is, I am told that there will be very little more south wind this year; if so, my progress will be slow indeed. I got a very pleasant walk this morning, without feeling tired, and breakfasted and dined with the Warners. The interval between breakfast and dinner 1 spent in the study, partly in writing letters, and partly in looking over a curious document which he allowed me to see, being his Gaol Calendar, as to be returned to the Circuit Judge. His “ Cutcherry," or Court of Justice, the gaol, and a small unoccupied bungalow, are the only buildings, besides his own house, in the station. The huts of the natives are in no compact village, but scattered thinly up and down a large and fertile extent of orchard-garden and paddy-ground. To return, however, to the Calendar. So far as the present quarter, it stands thus.

Case 1, Affray, and assault on a single person, by fourteen criminals.

2, One man charged with the murder of his fellow-workman in the fields.
3, One man charged with forgery.
4, Five with house-breaking.
5, Two charged with house-breaking.
6, Five charged with affray and riot, destroying property, &c. (This is

connected with the succeeding case of forgery, being an attempt, un-
der colour of a forged instrument first, and afterwards by violence, to

obtain possession of an indigo work.-See cases 14 and 19.] 7, Four for house-breaking and attempt to murder. 8, Three for house-breaking: 9, Five for child-stealing. [In this case one of the accused parties, in

whose house the little girl was found, declared in his own justification, that desiring to obtain a wife for his son, a boy,) he had given some rupees to a neighbour, (one of the robbers,) to buy one : that the said neighbour brought him the little girl, saying she was his niece, and that he received her as such. But there was little doubt that this was untrue, and that the design of the whole gang was to sell the child to

some person at a distance.] 10, Two for murder by poison, administered in brandy. 11, Five for false imprisonment and murder. (A man was seen bound and Vol. 1.-21

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dragged along by the five prisoners,—was taken to the house of one of them, and there confined two or three days, and beaten, as it is said, to death. They plead that the man was mad, and his death occasioned by his distemper. It appears, however, that there was previous malice, and that they were not bound to take care of him, if

he had been mad.]
Case 12, Seven for house-breaking, with torture.

13, Three for homicide, in executing an arrest.
14, Seven for an affray and riot at another indigo factory, arising out of

the same dispute with the one formerly mentioned.
15, Four for piracy and attempt to murder.
16, One for murder, by striking with a bamboo.
17, Nine for an attack on a dwelling-house, plundering, beating, and false

imprisonment. 18, One for false imprisonment, assault, and compelling the plaintiff to sign

a paper containing a false deposition. 19, Seven for forgery and subornation of forgery. See cases 6 and 14. 20, Six for robbing a boat. 21, Two for assault, with intent to kill. 22, Five for piracy and attempt to kill. In all 91 prisoners for trial, not including a very curious case now under investigation, in which a wealthy brahmin is accused of having procured his enemy to be seized and carried before the altar of Kali in his private house, and having there cut off bis head, after the manner in which sheep and hogs are sacrificed to their deities. This offers certainly no favourable view of the morals of the country, considering that the district of Furreedpoor is not larger than the ordinary run of Welsh counties. Two circumstances worth notice are, the gangs in which most crimes are committed, and the nature of the defence usually set up, which, I observed, was, in nine cases out of ten, an alibi, being the easiest of all others to obtain by the aid of false witnesses. Perjury is dreadfully common and very little thought of.

In the evening I again drove out with Mr. Warner. A large lake is at a small distance from the house, which holds water all summer. The natives say it was part of the original bed of the Ganges which used to cover all Furreedpoor, till a Raja requiring a portion for his daughter, implored Varuna to give him one. The god sent a tortoise, which swam out, making a large circuit in the bed of the river, and immediately within that space dry land appeared. I read prayers to Mr. Warner's family circle, and returned to my pinnace. Furreedpoor used to be a favourite station of banditti, and so dangerous, that till a local magistrate with a strong police was settled here, no valuable boat ever risked the passage. This part of its former history may possibly have made the manners of its present inhabitants more unruly, and account in some degree for the heaviness of the calendar.

July 27.—This day passed as the preceding. I heard nothing of Miss Stowe, and the disadvantage of any further delay to my

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voyage seemed so serious, that I determined, unless some news reached me in the course of this day or night, to go on.

July 28.-No tidings arriving, and having done every thing I could

think of to ensure the gradual impartment of the sad news of her brother's death to poor Miss Stowe, and provided as far as I could for the comfort and safety of her dismal homeward journey, about noon, when I was hurrying the Serang to make sail, I received a letter from my poor wife, with an account of the severe illness of both our babies, and of the merciful deliverance which our beloved little Emily had received from God. This letter grievously agitated me, so much so that I think for some time I hardly felt or understood what had happened. My first impression was to hurry home to Calcutta. But on reading the letter over again, 1 knew I could implicitly trust my wife when she told me that the danger was over; that if she had apprehended the probability of a relapse, she would not have concealed it from me; that I was engaged at this time in a solemn professional duty, to desert which, without the strongest grounds, would be a criminal distrust of God, and neglect of his service; that my presence would not help my poor child, and that in case of the worst which I might hear at Bogwangola, I might at all events then return to comfort my poor wife under her atfliction. On the whole I determined to go on, though, when I had made that determination, and was actually on the broad stream of the Ganges, it seemed as if I first became sensible of the bitterness which I had escaped, and which might still threaten me. I did not, however, repent of the resolution which I had taken, and I hoped I acted right, and not unfeelingly to my dear wife, in thus preferring a publie to a private duty.

CHAPTER IX.

FURREEDPOOR TO BOGLIPOOR,

BLIND BEGGAR-CROCODILE-- APE-SILK MANUFACTORY-BASKET FOR

CATCHING FISH--BOGWANGOLA-STRENGTH OF CURRENT-BEGGING DERVISES--ANT-HILLS-RAJMAHAL HILLS-GOUR-RAJMAHAL-SULTAN SUJAH'S PALACE-PUHARREES-CAVES-GOSSAINBOGLIPOORSCHOOLS RELIGION OF PUHARREES.

We had a noble breeze, and went on rapidly, all sail spread, when all at once, to my great surprise, the Serang brought up the pinnace so suddenly, that he almost laid her on her beam-ends, and the water flowed in at her lee cabin windows; a very little more wind, and she would have turned quite over. On running out to learn the reason of this manœuvre, I found Mohammed pale, Abdullah scolding, and the crew endeavouring, with more haste than good speed, to get in the top and top-gallant sails. It appeared that the steersman had seen a shoal right ahead, and so close under the bows, that even the rapid bringing-up of the boat's head was barely sufficient to avoid it. The fact is, however, that such mud-banks as are usually met with here would have been less dangerous with our flat bottom, than the expedient which they put in practice. However, I ordered two men forward with long bamboos, to sound wherever there appeared suspicion in future ; and exhorted them, when they found occasion to bring up so suddenly again, always to let the sails go at the same time.

The river is here, I should think, from four to five miles wide. We advanced up it with our fine breeze at a great rate, till nearly seven, when we brought to in a swampy and inconvenient spot, immediately opposite Jaffiergunge, being very nearly the same place where, with poor Stowe, I had crossed the river a month before. It now swarmed with fishing-boats, but offered vessels of no other description. Many nullahs branch out of the main stream in every direction. I found to-day that these people do not apply the name of Gunga at all to this stream, but call it “Pudda." My ignorance of this fact used to perplex me exceedingly, both in asking questions and receiving answers. They know no Gunga but the Hooghly; and the Burra Gunga (Great Ganges), by which I tried to explain myself, was always mistaken by Mohammed for the “ Boori-gonga," a comparatively insignificant stream near Dacca.

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