Page images
[blocks in formation]

since they were placed under the immediate government of the Company. But that increase, I was told, might be accounted for by other causes, such as the maintenance of public peace, the perfect exemption from invasion and the march of hostile armies, and the knowledge that a man was tolerably sure of reaping the immediate fruits of his labour, and that the acquisition of wealth did not expose him to the malignant attention of Government. In Bahar, at least, the Zemindars had not, even yet, any real confidence in the permanence of the rate, and in fact there had been in so many instances revisions, re-measurements, re-examinations, and surcharges, that some degree of doubt was not unnatural. In these cases, indeed, fraud on the part of the original contractors had been alleged by Government, but as some of the Bahar landlords had observed, they did not hear of any abatement made by the Company in those instances where the advantage of the bargain had been notoriously on their side, while, they also observed, so long as, in the recent measure adopted by Mr. Adam, the Government possessed and exercised the power of taxing the raw produce of the soil to any amount they pleased in its way to market, it was of no great advantage to the landholder that the direct land-tax remained the same.

On the whole, what I heard confirmed my previous suspicion, that the famous measure of Mr. Law was taken on an imperfect acquaintance with the interests of India, and that in the first instance at least, a decennial valuation, executed in a liberal spirit, would have avoided many inconveniences without losing any great advantage. Mr. Templer surprised me by what he said of the size of farms in this part of India. A wealthy“ ryot," or peasant, on one of the large Zemindarries, often holds as much as two hundred English acres.

August 14.—I had this morning one christening, and Mr. Corrie had several. The child I christened was a very fine boy of two years old, the son of an invalid serjeant, who came, attended by his wife, a very pretty young half-caste, and by two of his comrades and one of their wives as sponsors. All these were very well-behaved decent old men; they stayed talking with me some time; they spoke well of India, but complained of the want of some occupation for their minds. A lending library, they said, would be a great comfort to their little society. I afterwards mentioned the subject to Mr. Templer, and, I hope, put him in the proper way to get one from Government, as well as a school for these poor men's children, such of them as, by any accident, were prevented from going to the Military Orphan Asylum. I understand that these old soldiers are in general men of very

decent character, and though poor, brought up their families very decently. Some of them, however, are liable to sudden fits of

[blocks in formation]

drunkenness or infatuation, sometimes after many months of sobriety, during which nothing can keep them from brandy so long as they have either money, credit, or clothes. Monghyr is the station generally chosen by the more respectable characters, the reprobates preferring Moorshedabad. The Company give them the choice of residing either at Moorshedabad, Monghyr, Buxar, or Chunar, and they sometimes change repeatedly before they fix.

In consequence of the intention I had expressed to have service to morrow, Mr. Templer told me that the Baptists had given notice that their own meeting should not open, so that he said we should probably have all the Christian residents of the place and vicinity. The Baptist congregation in this neighbourhood was first collected by Mr. Chamberlain, an excellent man and most active missionary, but of very bitter sectarian principles, and entertaining an enmity to the Church of England almost beyond belief. He used to say that Martyn, Corrie, and Thomason, were greater enemies to God, and did more harm to his cause, than fifty stupid drunken “ Padre ....."inasmuch as their virtues, and popular conduct and preaching, upheld a system which he regarded as damnable, and which else must soon fall to the ground. The present preacher, Mr. Lesley, is a very mild, modest person, of a far better spirit, and scarcely less diligent among the Heathen than Chamberlain was. He has, however, as yet had small success, having been but a very short time in the country. Mr. J. Lushington, whom I found here, has been detained some days, owing to the dandees belonging to the horse-boat running away, a practice very common on this river, these people getting their wages in advance, and then making off with them. One of the party asked Mr. Lushington whether there had been any quarrel between the dandees and his servants, or himself; on his answering in the negative, it was observed that one fertile cause of boatmen's desertion was the ill conduct of Europeans, who often stimulated them to do things which, in their weak and clumsy boats, were really dangerous, and, against all law or right, beat them when they refused or hesitated. A general officer

was some time since heard to boast, that when his cook-boat lagged behind, he always fired at it with ball! I suppose he took care to fire high enough, but the bare fact of putting unarmed and helpless men in fear, in order to compel them to endeavour to do what was, perhaps, beyond their power, was sufficiently unfeeling and detestable. They are, I suppose, such people as these who say that it is impossible to inspire the Hindoos with any real attachment for their employers! I am pleased with all I see of Mr. Lushington, who is gentlemanly, modest, and studious; he is going to Nusseerabad, so that it is possible we may see a good deal of each other.

August 15.-Mr. Corrie read prayers, and I preached and

[blocks in formation]

administered the sacrament in the hall of Dr. Tytler's (the garrison surgeon's) house. There were, 1 should guess, sixty persons in the congregation, among whom were two or three natives. The Monghyr proselytes were very young persons, probably brought over by the Baptist missionaries; Mr. Lesley and the greater part of his flock attended, but did not stay the sacrament. There were, however, between twenty and thirty communicants, all deeply impressed and attentive. In the evening I again preached to pretty nearly the same congregation. During this stay at Monghyr, I was advised by many old Indians to supply myself with spears to arm my servants with in our march, Colonel Francklyn particularly told me that the precaution was both useful and necessary, and that such a show of resistance often saved lives as well as property. Monghyr, I was also told, furnished better and cheaper weapons of the kind than any I should meet with up the country: they are, indeed, cheap enough, since one of the best spears may be had complete for twenty anas. I have consequently purchased a stock, and my cabin looks like a museum of Eastern weapons, containing eight of the best sort for my own servants, and eight more for the Clashees who are to be engaged up the country. These last only cost fourteen anas each. This purchase gave me a fair opportunity of examining the fire-arms and other things which were brought for sale. My eye could certainly detect no fault in their construction, except that the wood of the stocks was slight, and the screws apparently weak and irregular. But their cheapness was extraordinary; a very pretty single barrelled fowling-piece may be had for twenty S. rupees, and pistols for sixteen the brace.





August 16.—There was no wind this morning till near twelve o'clock, but we had then just enough to help us out of the eddy of Monghyr and across the river to the other side, along which our boatmen had a painful day's tracking against a fierce stream. The Curruckpoor hills on the left hand continued to offer a very beautiful succession of prospects. A chain of marshy islets seemed to extend nearly across the river towards the end of our course, by the aid of which a large herd of cattle were crossing with their keepers. The latter I conclude had been ferried over the principal arm, but when I saw them they were wading and swimming alternately by the side of their charge, their long gray mantles wrapped round their heads, their spear-like staves in their hands, and, with loud clamour joined to that of their boys and dogs, keeping the convoy in its proper course. The scene was wild and interesting, and put me in mind of Bruce's account of the passage of the Nile by the Abyssinian army. The bank at the foot of the hills seemed fertile and populous as well as beautiful; that along which we proceeded is very wretched, swampy, without trees, and only two miserable villages. Several alligators rose as we went along, but I saw none basking on the many reedy islets and promontories, which, during the hot months, are said to be their favourite resorts. Mr. Lushington's budgerow kept up with my pinnace extremely well, but the Corries were far behind.

We moored for the night adjoining a field of barley, the first I had seen in India; the ground was recovered, as it seemed, from a sand-bank in the river, and full of monstrous ant-hills, looking at a little distance like large hay-cocks. The peasant had just finished thrashing his barley, and was busy burying it in the dry soil. A small shed as usual stood to watch where the straw with the grain in it had been collected. The high ground of Peer Puhar above Monghyr was still in sight. Just before we stopped a very large crocodile swam close to the boat, and showed him



self to the best advantage. Instead of being like those we had seen before, of a black or dusky colour, he was all over stripes of yellow and brownish black like the body of a wasp, with scales very visibly marked, and a row of small tubercles or prominences along the ridge of his back and tail. He must, 1 should think, have been about fifteen feet long, though, under the circumstances in which I saw him, it was by no means easy to judge. My cabin was extremely infested with insects this evening, particularly with a large black beetle which I had not seen before, and which was very beautiful, having a splendid mixture of jet, copper colour, and emerald about it. I had also a pretty green lizard, which I carefully avoided injuring, knowing it to be an enemy to ants and cockroaches, both of which plagues are increasing, and unfortunately do not now seem to check each other. Yet I was a little perplexed how the “honest man should have found his way

into my closet."

August 17.-We had a fine breeze part of the day, and stood over to the other bank, which we found, as I had expected, really very pretty, a country of fine natural meadows, full of cattle, and interspersed with fields of barley, wheat, and Indian corn, and villages surrounded by noble trees, with the Curruckpoor hills forming a very interesting distance. If the palm-trees were away, (but who would wish them away?) the prospect would pretty closely resemble some of the best parts of England. In the afternoon we rounded the point of the hills, and again found ourselves in a flat and uninteresting, though fruitful country. The last beautiful spot was a village under a grove of tall fruit-trees, among which were some fine walnuts; some large boats were building on the turf beneath them, and the whole scene reminded me forcibly of a similar builder's yard, which I had met with at Partenak in the Crimea. Many groups of men and boys sate angling, or with their spears watching an opportunity to strike the fish, giving much additional beauty and liveliness to the scene.

I have been much struck for some days by the great care with which the stock of fruit-trees in this country is kept up. I see every where young ones of even those kinds which are longest in coming to maturity, more particularly mangoes, and the toddy or tara palm (the last of which I am told must be from thirty to forty years old before it pays any thing) planted and fenced in with care round most of the cottages, a circumstance which seems not only to prove the general security of property, but that the peasants have more assurance of their farms remaining in the occupation of themselves and their children, than of late years has been felt in England.

The village near which we brought to for a short time in the VOL. I.-27

« PreviousContinue »