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CAWNPOOR TO LUCKNOW.
ENTRANCE INTO THE KING OF OUDE'S TERRITORIES-INCREASE OF
GUARDS -KING'S SUWARRS-AUMEEN- ENTRANCE INTO LUCKNOWCOURT CIRCULAR-NARROW STREETS-ARMED INHABITANTS PRIME MINISTER-RHINOCEROSES-DIL-KOUSHAR-CONSTANTIA---DECEASED KING'S WIVES-BREAKFAST AT THE PALACE-DISTRIBUTION OF MONEY AT THE GATES-KING BREAKFASTS AT THE RESIDENCY PRIVATE DETAILS OF THE GOVERNMENT-CHRISTIANS AT LUCKNOW.
We left Cawnpoor on Monday afternoon, the 18th of October, having sent our baggage and tents early in the morning to the first station, which is only six miles from the northern bank of the Ganges, the passage of which, by camels and elephants, usually takes up a considerable space of time. The Ganges is still a noble stream; its width, at the usual place of ferrying, is, I should think, not far from a mile and a half, but it is divided at this season by a large sand-bank, and the water is in many places shallow. Its banks on both sides are flat and ugly, but the southern side has the advantage in its numerous bungalows, surrounded by their respective gardens. We had heard much of the misgoverned and desolate state of the kingdom of Oude; boats had been recently menaced, in their way to Cawnpoor, by some of the villagers adjoining the river, and my guard had been increased, without any application from me, from thirty to fortyfive sepoys, by the obliging care of General Martindell. The immediate vicinity of the river we certainly found uncultivated, and the peasants who passed us here were still more universally loaded with defensive and offensive weapons than those of the Company's territories in the Dooab. We found them, however, peaceable and courteous, though our escort was mostly gone forward, and Mr. Lushington and I had cantered on by ourselves, leaving the remainder of the party behind, and in fact had repeatedly to ask our way as the evening closed in. When we arrived at our tents, a letter was put into
hands from Mr. Ricketts, the resident at Lucknow, stating that the king of Oude had sent a purveyor, or collector of taxes, (1 bardly know how to translate the word " Allmeen,") with two chobdars, and ten “suwarrs," or horsemen, to obtain supplies for us during our march. These persons, however, together with Mr. Ricketts's
own messenger, had expected us at Onnaw, a village four miles further on, but a supply had been obtained by their authority of all which was necessary for our present encampment.
October 19.-We started early on two elephants, which, after all, the good-natured exertions of Captain Lumsdaine had obtained for us, though not till I had purchased a second horse for my journey, a purchase, indeed,
which most of my friends tell me, in such a journey, I shall not find superfluous. The elephants are extremely convenient in the commencement of a march, while it is yet too dark to ride on horseback with comfort; and by sending on our horses half way to wait for us, we have the relief and pleasure of a ride during the pleasantest time of the morning. It was very dark, and the road excessively bad, through a country naturally broken and marshy, and now rendered almost impassable by the recent rains.
In the village of Onnaw, which we reached about half past four in the morning, it was very difficult to find our way, and nobody was awake except one poor foot-traveller, who, himself a stranger, had sat down on the brink of a large pool, in which, apparently, the only track visible terminated, and, wrapped up in his mantle, his sword and shield under him, and at intervals blowing the fusee of his long matchlock gun, was waiting, as he said, for day, and prepared for any possible attack which might in the meantime be made on him. We did not like to wait so long, and began knocking at the door of the nearest house, a cottage rather larger than ordinary. No answer was returned, and my spearmen were at once going to break the door, or rather gate, for it was built round a small court-yard. I forbade this step, however, on which one of the followers of the elephant crept like a cat up the mud wall, and dropped down inside of the little enclosure, calling loudly for a guide to show the way. He was received with a volley of abuse in a female voice, which was not at all calmed by my assurance that she had nothing to fear, and that, if her husband would come and show us the way, he should be well paid for his trouble. She declared her husband was not at home, but at last, as she said, merely to get rid of us, herself vouchsafed to open the gate, and give us some few directions. Our road we found, in fact, lay through the pool I have mentioned; and she said, if we kept well to the right hand, without going beyond an old tree, it was probable we should find safe footing. With these directions we were fain to be content, and they carried us on safely.
We wondered all this time that we heard nothing of the king's people, or Mr. Ricketts's servant; shortly after, however, as the day dawned, we saw the former galloping after us. They were mounted on very tolerable horses,
and armed with sabres like the
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suwarrs of the Company's magistrates, but extremely ill-dressed, and more like thieves than peace-officers or soldiers. The Aûmeen and Mr. Ricketts's servant had, they said, gone on to prepare things for our reception at the encampment, where we arrived about eight o'clock, and found it in a grove of trees, as usual, near a half-ruined village, but surrounded with a greater extent of well-cultivated ground than we were prepared to expect in this neighbourhood.
The Allmeen here called on me, and offered his nuzzur. He was a decent elderly man, looking like an Arab merchant, and was attended by two of the king's chobdars, also respectable men, and Mr. Ricketts's servant, one of the tallest and most powerful men I ever saw. They were followed by a troop of country people with the usual supplies, which were, however, yielded very grudgingly, and with bitter lamentations, all the crowd, particularly the women, declaring that they were fleeced to the last penny. They were apparently well satisfied, and certainly a good deal surprised, however, on my telling them that I should pay for the fowls and milk, and give a gratuity of two rupees among the wood and grass cutters; the whole expense only came to three rupees and a half, so cheaply may a great deal of oppression be remedied in this country!
Nothing remarkable occurred during our continuance here, except the care with which the sarbans, and saeeses, brought all the animals, and every thing which could be stolen, immediately under the
eye of the sentries. On my observing this circumstance, the reply was immediate, “ We are in the Nawâb Vizier's country.” Hardly any, even of his own people, call him king, and I must say his name seeins to be treated very disrespectfully under all denominations.
The waters were so deep a few days ago in the rivers which we had passed during this day's march, that palanquins were floated over by the help of kedgeree-pots, eight of which were competent to support the vehicle, with its contents. It was, however, no very agreeable way of passing a pool of deep water, pushed on by people swimming.
October 20,—The journey this morning was of seven very long coss, through bad roads, with a deep river, and several gullies made by the recent rain. Our station was a large walled village, with gates, and bazar in a much handsomer style than usual, but the walls bearing marks of decay, and many of the houses roofless, though the shops were neat, and the appearance of the people comfortable and thriving. All was quiet when we arrived ; but the servants who had gone on before with the breakfast tents, had found the place in a state of siege. A large sum of money, said to be 30,000 rupees, on its way to the treasury at Lucknow,
had attracted a number of the neighbouring peasantry, who were assembled outside the walls with their weapons, waiting for the departure of the treasure, while sentries were posted by the escort on all the old towers, and the gates were fast closed. One of our servants applied for a passage in vain; the warders were civil, but peremptory, pointing to the lurking enemy, and asking how they should endanger the treasure of " the refuge of the world.” At last, on more of our sepoys coming up, and finding that we were strong enough to protect them, they gladly opened their gates, and the armed peasantry dispersed themselves. Our camp was fixed beyond the town, near a large pool of water, amid some tall trees, and having at a little distance a grove surrounded by a high wall with a gothic gateway, the garden, as we were told, of a former minister of Oude, named Nawâll Sing, who had built the village, and from whom it derived its name.
Adjoining the pool we saw a crowd of people assembled round a fallen elephant; apprehending that it was one of our own, I urged my horse to the spot. On asking, however, whose it was, a bystander said it belonged to "the asylum of the world," and had fallen down from weakness, which was not surprising, since, instead of an allowance of twenty-five rupees a month, necessary for the keep of an elephant, I was told that these poor creatures, all but those in the immediate stables of his majesty, had for some time back, owing to the dilapidated state of the finances, and the roguery of the commissariate, received only five! They had now given the wretched animal a cordial, and were endeavouring to raise it on its legs, but in vain. It groaned pitifully, but lay quite helpless, and was in fact a mountain of skin and bone. Another elephant of very large size, and in somewhat better plight, was brought to assist; and I was much struck with the almost human expression of surprise, alarm, and perplexity in his countenance, when he approached his fallen companion. They fastened a chain round his neck and the body of the sick beast, and urged him in all ways, by encouragement and blows, to drag him up, even thrusting spears into his flanks. He pulled stoutly for a minute, but on the first groan his companion gave he stopped short, turned fiercely round with a loud roar, and with his trunk and fore feet began to attempt to loosen the chain from his neck. In fact, his resistance and refusal to sanction their proceedings were so decisive, that an immediate cry arose of “ le-jao,” take him away, in which I very cordially joined. I asked them if they could get nothing which the fallen animal was likely to eat, urging that, weak as he was, even if they did get him to rise, he would certainly fall again. They seemed sensible of this, and two of them ran for a great bundle of greens and a pot of water; the greens he ate readily enough, but refused the water, which
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they accounted for by saying he supposed it was physic. He was said to be very old, which the size of his tusks confirmed. Among the group thus assembled were some of the tallest and finest men I have ever seen here, or indeed in Europe. All the crowd were civil and communicative, and I could not help thinking that the peasants of Oude, in every thing but honesty, bore a high rank among those of their own class throughout the world.
In the course of the day a messenger, mounted on a fast trotting camel, (a style of conveyance for couriers very usual in these provinces,) arrived from Mr. Ricketts, his saddle perched high on the top of the hump, his carbine and sabre hanging down on each side, and guiding the animal not with a bridle, but with a small cord fastened to a ring through his nostrils. The message from Mr. Ricketts was that his own aide-de-camp, with one of the king's, would meet me next morning at about six miles from Lucknow, and that if I chose they would bring with them spare elephants for our party. This was fortunate, since on inquiry we found that we had still nearly ten coss between us and the Residency, a greater distance than our animals or foot attendants could get through without some rest, or before the middle of the day. Mr. Ricketts's offer, however, made the arrangement easy.
October 21.-We set out at half past three o'clock, and for some time lost our way, there being no other road than such tracks as are seen across ploughed fields in England, the whole country being cultivated, though not enclosed, and much intersected by small rivers and nullahs. The king's suwarrs were, I found, for show only, since they knew nothing about the road, and as for defence I should have been very sorry to be obliged to rely on them. I was pleased, however, and surprised, after all which 1 had heard of Oude, to find the country so completely under the plough, since were the oppression so great as it is sometimes stated, I cannot think that we should witness so considerable a population, or so much industry. Yet that considerable anarchy and mis-rule exist, the events of yesterday afforded a sufficient reason for supposing.
The bulk of the population is still evidently Hindoo. All the villages have pagodas, while many are without mosques ; by far the greater part of the people who pass us on the road, have the marks of caste on their foreheads, and it being now a Hindoo festival, the drumming, braying, and clattering of their noisy music, was heard from every little collection of houses which we passed through. At length, and sooner than we expected, we saw a considerable "Suwarree," or retinue, of elephants and horses approaching us, and were met by Captain Salmon and the King of