« PreviousContinue »
only for my voyage, but for the country. No rain has fallen for many days; the wind has blown steadily and very hot from the west, and everything foretells a speedy termination of the "bursat,” or rainy season. In consequence I shall have a very laborious and slow tracking on the river, and what is much worse, the tanks are barely half full, the country but imperfectly irrigated, and famine, murrain, and all their attendant horrors, may be looked for. God avert such calamities from this poor country!
BENARES TO ALLAHABAD.
CHUNAR-INTENSE HEAT-TRIMBUK-JEE-HINDOO TEMPLE-CONFIR
MATION-INVALIDS--DEPARTURE FROM CHUNAR-LARGE FISHRETROSPECT OF BENARES-QUARREL BETWEEN HINDOOS AND MUSSULMANS--SITTING DHURNA-NATIVES' OPINIONS OF ENGLISH GOVERNORS-ALLAHABAD-FORT-JUMNA MUSJEED-CONFIRMATION PREPARATIONS FOR MARCHING FESTIVAL OF RAMA AND SEETA.
SEPTEMBER 10.- The events of yesterday are not worth recording. Mr. Macleod had promised to drive me in his gig half way to Sultanpoor, and at five o'clock this morning he was at my door. My palanquin had been sent on before, so that I had the advantage of making a quicker progress, as well as of enjoying his interesting conversation for about seven miles, when the carriage road ended in a little nullah, where we found the palanquin waiting for me, in which I proceeded to Sultanpoor, where I found
boat in readiness to convey me to Chunar, at which place I was to be Colonel Alexander's guest.
The view of Chunar is, from the river, very striking. Its fortress, which is of great extent, formerly of first-rate importance, and still in good repair, covers the crest and sides of a large and high rock, with several successive enclosures of walls and towers, the lowest of which have their base washed by the Ganges. On the right, as we approached it, is seen a range of rocky and uneven hills, on the left a large Indian town, intermingled with fine round headed trees, with some very good European habitations, and a tall gothic tower like that of a parish church in England, which belongs in fact to the Mission Church, and is an imitation of that in Mr. Corrie's native village. The whole scene is entirely English; the mosques and muts are none of them visible in this quarter; the native houses, with their white walls and red tiled roofs, look exactly like those of a small English country town; the castle with its union flag is such as would be greatly admired, but not at all out of place, in any ancient English seaport; and much as I admire palm-trees, I felt glad that they were not very common in this neighbourhood, and that there were in point of fact none visible, to spoil the home character of the prospect. But such a sun, thank heaven! never glared on Eng.. land as this day rained its lightnings on Chunar. I thought
myself fortunate in getting housed by ten o'clock, and before the worst came on, but it was still enough to sicken one. There was little wind, and what there was was hot, and the reflection and glare of the light gray rock, the light gray castle, the light gray sand, the white houses, and the hot bright river were about as much as I could endure. Yet, I trust, it is not a little that overpowers me. Breakfast, however, at Colonel Alexander's, and a good draught of cold water, set me quite up again, and I was occupied the rest of the morning in obtaining details of the schools and mission from Mr. Greenwood and Mr. Bowley. Wé dined with Colonel Robertson, the commandant of the fortress and station, and met a very large party, including among others Sir G. Martindell, the general in command at Cawnpoor; he is a fine, mild, unaffected old officer, with an experience of India, and particularly the upper provinces, scarcely shorter than Mr. Brooke's, and perhaps more various and extensive.
In the evening Colonel Alexander drove me in a gig a little way into the country, which is really pretty. The European dwellings are all on the side of a steep slope, covered with wood and gardens, with their drawing-room verandahs opening for the most part on a raised terrace. Behind, and rising still higher up the slope, is the native town, the houses all of stone and mostly of two stories, generally with verandahs in front let out into shops, the whole not unlike a Welch market-town, but much larger, and probably containing 15,000 people. Beyond is an open country, intersected by a broad núllah, with a handsome gothic bridge, and beyond this an open extent of rocky and woody country, which is a good deal infested by wolves and bears, but seldom visited by a tiger. The bears rarely do any harm unless they are first attacked. The wolves are apparently more daring and impudent than in Russia ; they are said frequently to come to the houses and sheepfolds, and sometimes even attack and carry
off children. The inhabitants of Chunar will not admit that it deserves the character which it usually bears, of excessive heat, but if this day and night were a fair specimen, I have certainly felt nothing to equal it. It happily grew cooler towards morning, and I got a few hours good sleep, which I much needed.
September 11.--This morning Colonel Robertson called to take me to see the fort, which well repays the labour, though this is not trifling. The site and outline are very noble; the rock on which it stands is perfectly insulated, and either naturally or by art, bordered on every side by a very awful precipice, flanked, wherever it has been possible to obtain a salient angle, with towers, bartizans, and bastions of various forms and sizes. There are a good many cannon mounted, and a noble bomb-proof magazine for powder, which has been lately in a great measure stripped
for the supply of the Birman war. Colonel Robertson, however, told me, that the ammunition on which he should most depend for the defence of Chunar are stone cylinders, rudely made, and pretty much like garden-rollers, which are piled up in great numbers throughout the interior of the fort, and for which the rock on which the fort stands affords an inexhaustible quarry. These, which are called “mutwalas" (drunkards), from their staggering motion, are rolled over the parapet down the steep face of the hill, to impede the advances and overwhelm the ranks of an assaulting army; and when a place has not been regularly breached, or where, as at Chunar, the scarped and sloping rock itself serves as a rampart, few troops will so much as face them. Against a native army, Colonel Robertson said, Chunar, if resolutely defended, would, he thought, be impregnable, and except in one quarter it would stand no contemptible siege against an European force. Even there the rock which commands it might easily be so much lowered as to prevent any danger; and the stone of which it consists is so valuable, that the neighbouring Zemindars had offered to cart it away at their own expense, provided Government would give up the duty now laid on Chunarstone when transported to different parts of India; but the offer was declined.
On the top of the rock of Chunar, and within the rampart, is a considerable space, covered with remarkably fine English hay. grass, now nearly ripe for cutting, several noble spreading trees, and some excellent houses for the officers, few of whom, however, when not on duty, remain here, the reflection of the sun from the rock being very powerful, and the expense of bringing water for the Tatties great. Within this principal circle, and on a still higher point, are two inner fortifications, one containing the Governor's house, the hospital, and the state-prison, now inhabited by the celebrated Maharatta chieftain Trimbuk-jee, long the inveterate enemy of the British power, and the fomentor of all the troubles of Berar, Malwah, and the Deccan. He is confined with great strictness, having an European as well as a sepoy guard, and never being trusted out of the sight of the sentries. Even his bed-chamber has three grated windows open into the verandah which serves as guard-room. In other respects he is well treated, has two large and very airy apartments, a small building fitted up as a pagoda, and a little garden shaded with a peepul-tree, which he has planted very prettily with balsams and other flowers. Four of his own servants are allowed to attend him, but they are always searched before they quit or return to the fort, and must be always there at night. He is a little, lively, irritable-looking man, dressed, when I saw him, in a dirty cotton mantle, with a broad red border, thrown carelessly over his head
and shoulders. I was introduced to him by Colonel Alexander, and he received me courteously, observing that he himself was a brahmin, and in token of his brotherly regard, plucking some of his prettiest flowers for me. He then showed me his garden and pagoda, and after a few common-place expressions of the pleasure I felt in seeing so celebrated a warrior, which he answered by saying, with a laugh, he should have been glad to make my acquaintance elsewhere, I made my bow and took leave. He has been now, I believe, five years in prison, and seems likely to remain there during life, or till the death of his patron and tool, Bajee Row, may lessen his power of doing mischief. He has often offered to give security to any amount for his good behaviour, and to become a warmer friend to the Company than he has ever been their enemy, but his applications have been vain. He attributes, I understand, their failure to Mr. Elphinstone, the governor of Bombay, who is, he says, “ his best friend, and his worst enemy," the faithful trustee of his estate, treating his children with parental kindness, and interesting himself, in the first instance, to save his life, but resolutely fixed on keeping him in prison, and urging the Supreme Court to distrust all his protestations. His life must now be dismally monotonous and wearisome. Though a brahmin of high caste, and so long a minister of state and the commander of armies, he can neither write nor read, and his whole amusement consists in the ceremonies of his idolatry, his garden, and the gossip which his servants pick up for him in the town of Chunar. Avarice seems at present his ruling passion. He is a very severe inspector of his weekly accounts, and one day set the whole garrison in an uproar about some ghee which he accused his khẩnsaman of embezzling; in short, he seems less interested with the favourable reports which he from time to time receives of his family, than with the banking accounts by which they are accompanied. Much as he is said to deserve his fate, as a murderer, extortioner, and a grossly perjured man, I hope I may be allowed to pity him.
In the last enclosure of the fortress, on the very summit of the mountain, and calculated to make a defence even after all the lower works had fallen, are several very interesting buildings. One of them is the old Hindoo palace, a central dome surrounded by several vaulted apartments, with many remains of painting and carving, but dark, low, and impervious to heat; on one side of this is a loftier and more airy building, now used as an armoury, but formerly the residence of the Mussulman governor, with handsome rooms, and beautifully carved oriel windows, such as one reads of in Mrs. Radcliffe's castles. A little further on in the bastion is an extraordinary well or reservoir, about fifteen fect in diameter, and cut to a great depth in the solid rock,