Page images



Oude's officer, the latter followed by a train of elephants splendidly equipped with silver howdahs, and sufficient to accommodate more than three times the number of our party, А good many suwarrs, in red and yellow, followed Captain Salmon, and a most irregular and picturesque body of infantry, with swords and shields, long matchlock guns, and other guns of every sort and size, spears like spits, composed, sheath and all, of iron, and some silvered over, large triangular green banners, and every thing most unlike the appearance of European war, made up the cortège of Meer Hussun Khân. The whole formed a stage procession of the most interesting and showy kind, in which there was no regularity and little real magnificence, for the dresses of the men and trappings of the elephants were all the worse for wear, and the silver howdahs did not bear a close examination, but were flowing and picturesque dresses, glowing colours, numbers; and the majestic size of the noble animals which formed the most prominent part of the group, produced an effect more pleasing in the eye of a poet or an artist, than the sprucest parade of an English review. • While I was changing elephants, a decent looking man stepped up to me, and begged to know my name and titles at full length, in order, as he said, “ to make a report of them to the asylum of the world.” I found, on inquiry, that he was the writer of the court circular, a much more minute task, and one considered of far more importance here than in Europe. Every thing which occurs in the family of the King himself, the Resident, the chief officers of state, or any stranger of rank who may arrive, is carefully noted and sent round in writing. And I was told that the exact hour at which I rose, the sort of breakfast ) ate, the visits I paid or received, and the manner in which I passed my morning, would all be detailed by the King's chobdars, for the information of their master, whose own most indifferent actions, however, are with equal fairness written down for Mr. Ricketts's inspection. As I mounted my new elephant, the same sort of acclamation of “ Bismillah! Ullah Acbar! Ullah Kureen !" was made by the attendants, as I had heard by the Nawab of Dacca's arrival and departure. It is, I find, the ancient Mussulman fashion, and during their stay in Lucknow, my chobdars and bearers learnt it also from those of the King and the Resident. How long they will continue it I do not know. It seems a very pious custom, and one which I should not wish to check, though

certainly should not allow them to adopt the proclamation, which followed on this occasion, of my name and title, so mangled as never name was before.

We now proceeded, three elephants abreast, that on which Mr. Lushington and I rode in the centre. Meer Hussun Khân

[blocks in formation]

on the right, and Captain Salmon on the left, with the motley multitude before and the spare elephants behind. The Corries had fallen back, being unable to keep up with us. We thus advanced into Lucknow, through a very considerable population, and crowded mean houses of clay, with the filthiest lanes between them that I ever went through, and so narrow that we were often obliged to reduce our front, and even a single elephant did not always pass very easily. A swarm of beggars occupied every angle and the steps of every door, and all, or nearly all the remaining population were, to my surprise, as much loaded with arms as the inhabitants of the country, a circumstance which told ill for the police of the town, but added considerably to its picturesque effect. Grave men in palanquins, counting their beads and looking like Moullahs, had all two or three sword and buckler lacquies attending on them. People of more consequence, on their elephants, had each a suwarree of shield, spear, and gun, little inferior to that by which we were surrounded, and even the lounging people of the lower ranks in the streets and shop doors, had their shields over their shoulders, and their swords carried sheathed in one hand.

I recollected Sir W. Scott's picture of the streets of London in “ The Fortunes of Nigel,” but I should apprehend that Lucknow offered at this moment a more warlike exterior than our own metropolis ever did during its most embroiled and troublesome periods. As we advanced, the town began to improve in point of buildings, though the streets remained equally narrow and dirty. We passed some pretty mosques and some large houses, built like the native houses in Calcutta, and the bazars seemed well filled, so far as I could distinguish from the height at which I sat, and the general narrowness of the area. At last we suddenly entered a very handsome street indeed, wider than the High-street at Oxford, but having some distant resemblance to it in the colour of its buildings, and the general form and gothic style of the greater part of them. We saw but little of it, however, as we immediately turned up through some folding-gates into a sort of close, with good-looking houses and small gardens round it, and a barrack and guard-house at its entrance. One of these houses, I was told, belonged to the Resident, another was his banquetinghouse, containing apartments for his guests, and a third very pretty upper-roomed house in a little garden was pointed out as that which the King had assigned to receive me and my party. Here, therefore, our companions took their leave, and Mr. Lushington and I found ourselves in a very prettily arranged and wellfurnished dwelling, with excellent stables and accommodations for our numerous followers. It was the house usually assigned to the king's physician, now absent, and was extremely well

[blocks in formation]

suited to my purpose, both as being near the Residency, and sufficiently detached from it to allow me to have some part of my mornings to myself. The Corries arrived in about half an hour, and shortly afterwards we were summoned to breakfast at the Residency, where we found so large a party as completely to give the idea of a watering-place. After breakfast I was told the prime minister was come to call on me, and Mr. Ricketts introduced us to each other in form. He is a dark, harsh, hawknosed man, with an expression of mouth which seems to imply habitual self-command struggling with a naturally rough temper. He is, I understand, exceedingly unpopular. He was originally khânsaman to the present King, when heir apparent, and in disgrace with his father, Saadut Ali. His house is the most splendid in Lucknow, and his suwarree exceeds that of the King, who is said to be so attached to him as to have given himself entirely into his hands. His manners, though not his appearance, are those of a gentleman; he is said to be a man of undoubted courage, and to be a pleasant person to do business with, except that too much confidence must not be placed in him. He was very civil to me, and very tolerant of my bad Hindoostanee; but I saw that he was nursing some ill-humour towards Mr. Ricketts, and found at length that offence had been taken because Lord Amherst had not himself written to the King to introduce me, as had, he said, been the constant custom with other Governorsgeneral whenever any person of a certain rank in the country visited Lucknow. We explained to him that my regular progress was through those stations where there were chaplains, and that, therefore, it was probable that Lord Amherst did not know that I intended to visit Lucknow, and he seemed satisfied. Possibly Lord Amherst was not aware that such an etiquette was usual, and in my own case it was certainly ignorance which prevented my asking for such credentials.* However, the minister seemed

* The following letter from the Governor-general was subsequently sent to the King of Oude:


Wrillen 10th December, 1824. “ I have lately been informed, by a letter from the Lord Bishop of Calcutta, of the gracious reception which his Lordship experienced from your Majesty, and of the gratification which he derived from his visit to your Majesty's court of Lucknow.

“ I had no opportunity of making known, previously, to your Majesty, the Bishop's intention of visiting Lucknow, as his proceeding to that capital was a sudden thought, and he had not beforehand contemplated that the course of his public duties would allow of his deviating so far from his proposed route. This being the case, I feel myself now doubly called on to address your Majesty, both in explanation of the above apparent omission, and to offer my sincere acknow

[blocks in formation]

satisfied, his dark countenance cleared up, and he said that the introduction of their friend the Resident was quite enough for them, and that the King hoped to make Lucknow not unpleasant to me. The remaining conversation was about the cities and countries which I had visited, how I liked the first sight of Lucknow, and concluded with the minister's inviting me, on the part of the King, to breakfast with him the Monday following.

This is the usual way of being presented at this court, and the reason given for not naming an earlier day, was, that the King had a bad feverish cold. I found, indeed, half Lucknow laid up with the same influenza, though of a slighter degree, with that which had prevailed so universally in Calcutta during the rains. In fact, I know not how, the sight of the town, its various villanous smells, and its close population, gave me the idea of a very unhealthy place, though I found the old residents disclaimed the imputation. 1 felt much chagrined, on more accounts than one, to find that Mr. Ricketts's marriage could not take place before the 1st of November; if this were out of the question, however, it was very unlikely I should be able to leave it before that time, from the different things that were to be done. Under these circumstances it was a satisfaction to me to find that, if a week's notice was given, 1 should be sure of a numerous attendance at sacrament,--that many persons had been asking about confirmation, who only needed some days to prepare themselves, and make up their minds to the ceremony, and that a full share of those other opportunities of usefulness might be expected which I had found at Allahabad, Monghyr, and other places where there was, as here, no resident chaplain.

The great detentions which I have already met with have not only thrown me much behind the reckoning which I formed from my conversation with Colonel Cunliffe, but, joined to the experience which I have already had of marching, have obliged me to calculate on a much slower progress hereafter than I looked forward to when first that reckoning was made. In so long a journey as this I find it evident that a Sunday halt is not only adviseable in a religious point of view, but necessary for the animals and men who accompany me.

To be useful I must arrange my stay in each station so as to include a Sunday, and shall thus be often kept, besides these halting days, several others, which 1

ledgments for the flattering and cordial reception given by your Majesty to the
head of the British Church in India, of which the Bishop writes in the warmest
and most grateful terms.

(A True copy)

“ Persian Secretary to Government.”--Ed.

[blocks in formation]

should have employed, more to my liking, in pressing onwards towards the meeting to which I look forward with daily increasing earnestness. To To go dâk any considerable part of the way

would be a great additional expense, and, it so happens, that it would save me very little time, since I must still adjust my stay in the different stations according to Sundays, and wait for my servants and baggage to rejoin me. As, to the best of my calculation, it seems very improbable that I can reach Surat before the beginning of April, I was well pleased to learn from Mr. Hyde, one of the party at the Residency, who had recently come across from Bombay, that travelling in Guzerât was not only practicable but pleasant till that time. Mr. Hyde is a great traveller, and the only Englishman whom I have heard of, except Lord Valencia, who has visited India from motives, exclusively, of science and curiosity, since the country has been in our possession. All others, however science might engross their attention, have, like Leyden and Sir W. Jones, had some official and ostensible object, whereas this gentleman is merely making a tour.

He left Eng. land seven years ago, with the intention of being absent a few months, and has been since rambling on, without plan, and chiefly as his course has been determined by the motions of others. Having attached himself to Mr. Bankes, 1 believe in Spain, he accompanied him into Egypt, Nubia, Syria, and Arabia. Mr. Rich enticed him from Palmyra on to Babylon and Bagdad. From Bussorah he came to Bombay, touching in his way at some of the ports of Oman and Yeman, in the hope of finding an eligible opportunity of returning home by sea ; and then, finding himself in a new and interesting country, determined to make the tour of India. Added to his zeal for seeing new countries, he has an uncommon share of good-nature and cheerfulness, and is exactly the person whom I could conceive Bankes selecting as his travelling companion.

I do not know that there is any use in writing a regular journal of the manner in which I passed my time at Lucknow. There was, as must be the case, a good deal of sameness, in morning rides, evening sight-seeing, late breakfasts, and later dinners. There were several pleasant people among the crowd, and I was daily more and more pleased with my host and future hostess, and from him I obtained much information as to the manners and customs of northern India. The king very good-naturedly sent an elephant every morning for Mr. Lushington and myself, and a chariot for the Corries, that we might see the sights of Lucknow to more advantage. There is a menagerie with a greater number of scarce and curious animals, but in far worse order, than that at Barrackpoor; and on the other side of the river Goomty, in a well-wooded park, is a large collection of

« PreviousContinue »