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NATIVE FEMALE SCHOOLS.
but it is neither particularly tall nor stately. Its bulk consists in an enormous enlargement of its circumference immediately above the roots, and for a comparatively small height up its stem, which rather resembles that disease of the leg which bears the elephant's name than tallies with his majestic and well-proportioned, though somewhat unwieldly stature. Dr. Wallich has the management of another extensive public establishment at Titty-ghur, near Barrackpoor, of the same nature with this, but appropriated more to the introduction of useful plants into Bengal. He is himself a native of Denmark, but left his country young, and has devoted his life to natural history and botany in the east. His character and conversation are more than usually interesting; the first all frankness, friendliness, and ardent zeal for the service of science; the last enriched by a greater store of curious information relating to India and the neighbouring countries, than any which I have yet met with.
These different public establishments used to be all cultivated by the convicts in chains, of whom I have already spoken. In the Botanic Garden their labour is now supplied by peasants hired by the day or week, and the exchange is found cheap, as well as otherwise advantageous and agreeable : the labour of freemen here, as elsewhere, being infinitely cheaper than that of slaves.
During Lady Amherst's progress through the gardens, I observed, that besides her usual attendants of gilt-sticks and maces, two men with spears, also richly gilt, and two more with swords and bucklers, went before her. This custom is, so far as I have seen at present, confined to the Governor and his family; but I understand it used to be the case with most persons of condition in Calcutta.
To the north of the Botanical Garden, and separated from it by an extensive plantation of teak-trees, stands the new College founded by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, under the management, and at the suggestion, of Bishop Middleton, in a beautiful situation, and the building, from a little distance, beautiful also, in the Gothic of queen Elizabeth's time.
December 12.-1 attended, together with a large proportion of the European Society of Calcutta, an examination of the Native Female Schools, instituted by Mrs. Wilson, and carried on by her together with her husband and the other Missionaries of the Church Missionary Society. The progress which the children as well as the grown pupils had made, was very creditable; and it may show how highly we ought to appreciate Mrs. Wilson's efforts, when I mention, that when she began her work there was no known instance of an Indian female having been instructed in reading, writing, or sewing; and that all those who knew most
NATIVE FEMALE SCHOOLS.
of the country, regarded her attempt to bring them together into schools as idle as any dream of enthusiasm could be.* She is a sensible and amiable young woman, with patience and good temper sufficient to conquer most obstacles, and who has acquired an influence over these poor little girls and their parents, as well as over her grown pupils, which at first sight seems little less than magical. It was very pretty to see the little swarthy children come forward to repeat their lessons, and show their work to Lady Amherst, blushing even through their dark complexions, with their muslin veils thrown carelessly round their slim halfnaked figures, their black hair plaited, their foreheads speckled with white or red paint, and their heads, necks, wrists, and ankles loaded with all the little finery they could beg or borrow for the occasion. Their parents make no objection to their learning the catechism, or being taught to read the Bible, provided nothing is done which can make them lose caste. And many of the Brahmins themselves, either finding the current of popular opinion too strongly in favour of the measures pursued for them to struggle with, or really influenced by the beauty of the lessons taught in Scripture, and the advantage of giving useful knowledge, and something like a moral sense to the lower ranks of their countrymen and countrywomen, appear to approve of Mrs. Wilson's plan, and attend the examination of her scholars. There is not even a semblance of opposition to the efforts which we are now making to enlighten the Hindoos; this I had some days ago an excellent opportunity of observing, in going round the schools supported by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge with Mr. Hawtayne, and seeing with how much apparent cordiality he was received, not only by the children themselves and the schoolmasters, though all Hindoos and Mussulmans, but by the parents and the neighbouring householders of whatever religion.
On all these points, however, and on the great change which seems to be taking place in the character of this vast nation, or at least in the province of Bengal, I have written at considerable length to my friends in England, and therefore shall not repeat my opinions and observations here.
December 25.—This being Christmas-day I had a large congregation and a great number of communicants, I think above 300. Now, and at Easter-day, it is the custom in Calcutta to give very splendidly to the communion collection, which is the
* At the end of the year 1826, Mrs. Wilson had about 600 scholars in various schools in the suburbs of Calcutta. When the Central School is completed, these will all be concentrated. At the commencement of this experiment, Mrs. Wilson thought nerself fortunate when she had obtained the attendance of six or seven children.-ED.
STATE OF EUROPEAN POOR.
fund for the support of the European poor (for there are no poor's rates), and is managed with great judgment and attention by a body of gentlemen, calling themselves the select vestry of the Cathedral. There is a good deal of distress among the Europeans and half-castes here, arising from various causes, especially from the multitude of speculations which have been tried of late years in Indigo and other establishments. If a man once begins falling so far as to borrow money, it is hardly possible for him to recover himself, the interest of loans is so high, and the necessary expenses of living so great, while a return to England, except in forma pauperis and at the Company's cost, is too expensive to be thought of by persons under such circumstances. Nor are they luxuries only that ruin the colonist in Calcutta. House-rent is enormous, and though the poorer classes of Europeans and half-castes live in wretched dwellings, in very unwholesome parts of the town, they are often obliged to pay for these as much as would rent an excellent house in most of the market towns of England, and would furnish them with very tolerable dwellings even in London. Clothes, too, are dear. On the other hand, provisions, by those who will stoop so low, are to be had for almost nothing from the remains of the dinners of the principal European families, which the climate will not suffer to be kept till another day, and are therefore disposed of by the Khânsamans at a very low rate indeed. Still there is much real want, and I apprehend that a man who gives as a Christian ought to give, will in Calcutta find little opportunity for saving, and still less for amusement and needless luxury. Deus faxit ut quod debeo absolvam !
My wife went a few days ago on a cruize to the Sand heads, for the benefit of our child's health.
Captain Manning joined his ship at Saugor at the same time, with a promise that when he next returns here, he is again to become our guest. He is an excellent man, warm and singlehearted beyond most I know, of considerable talent in his profession and in mechanics, and of very pleasing unaffected manners. During the time he has been with us, 1 have had an opportunity of knowing his character thoroughly, and am very glad to be able to rank him among the number of my friends.
PAGODAS-BARRACKPOOR-SERAMPOOR : DECOITS - CHANDERNAGORE
--CHRISTMAS-BOXES—IDOLS-TITTY-GHUR-SUTTEE-BORE IN THE RIVER-SALTPETRE-CONFIRMATION-GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S NATIVE LEVEE.
On the 27th of December I paid a visit of two days to the Governor at Barrackpoor. I went by water early enough in the morning to preach to the congregation, which, for want of a church, assembles in the great hall of the Government-house. The distance is about 24 miles, which, with a favourable tide and a good set of rowers, may be ascended in two hours and a half, and descended in less than two hours. The river continues of nearly the same width as at Calcutta ; its banks are covered with fruit-trees and villages, with many very handsome pagodas, of which buildings Calcutta only offers some small, mean, and neglected specimens. The general style of these buildings is, a large square court, sometimes merely surrounded by a low wall, with brick balustrades, plastered so as to resemble stone, or indented at the top, with two or sometimes four towers at the angles, generally, in the present day, of Grecian architecture, and ornamented with pilasters, balustrades, and friezes. In the centre of the principal front is, for the most part, an entrance re. sembling, in its general character and style of arrangement, the beautiful Propylæum at Chester castle. When the pagoda adjoins the river, a noble flight of steps, the whole breadth of the portico, generally leads from the water to this entrance. Sometimes the whole court is surrounded by a number of square towers, detached by a small interval from each other, and looking not unlike tea-canisters, having such a propylæum as I have described in the centre of the principal front.
In the middle of the quadrangle, or at least in the middle of one of its sides, opposite to the main entrance, is the temple of the principal deity, sometimes octagonal, with pinnacles and buttresses, greatly resembling a Gothic Chapter House, but in some instances taller and larger, with three domes, one large in the centre, and a smaller at each side, with three gilded ornaments on the summit of each, extremely like the old churches in Russia. All these buildings are vaulted with brick, and the manner in which the Hindoos raise their square or oblong domes
seems to me simple and ingenious, and applicable to many useful purposes.
It is very seldom that any thing like a congregation assembles in these temples. A few priests and dancing women live in them, whose business it is to keep the shrines clean, to receive the of. ferings of the individuals who come from time to time to worship, and to beat their gongs in honour of their idols, which is done three or four times in the twenty-four hours. On more solemn occasions, however, wealthy Hindoos give money to illuminate the building, and throw up fire-works, which are to be had in Calcutta of great excellence and beauty. And in one instance, which I omitted to mention before, on the celebration of the festival of the goddess Kali at the pagoda of Kalighất, near Russipugla, I saw the towers at the corners of the building hung round with an immense quantity of gilt paper, tinsel, and flowers, the court crowded with coloured plaster statues as big or bigger than life, representing Sepoys, horse and foot, drawn up in the act of presenting arms, and a figure in their front on an elephant to represent the Governor-General, also in the act of taking off his cocked hat. In the middle of the court, and before the gate of the sanctuary, was a very large temporary pavilion, I should suppose 60 feet long by about 20, composed of coarse white cotton, but glittering with ribands, gilding, tinsel, and flounces of various coloured silks, with slender gilded pillars, overshadowing a vast Plateau, for it had exactly this appearance, of plaster filled with painted gods and goddesses, Kali and all her family with all their respective heads and arms, while the whole building rang with the clamour, tinkling, and strumming of gongs, bells, and stringed instruments. Yet there were not many worshippers even then. These pagodas are often endowed with lands as well as rent-charges on lands, though some of them depend entirely on voluntary contributions. Most of the larger ones are kept externally very neat, and diligently whitewashed, while the Grecian ornaments of which I have spoken, and which must have been borrowed from the Europeans, are so many evidences of the repairs bestowed on them occasionally and of late years.
During my stay at Barrackpoor, I witnessed one custom of the Hindoos which I could not comprehend; a jackall was caught in a trap and killed, and as soon as the breath was out of his body, all the servants of that religion ran forward to wash their hands in his blood,—which I am told they always do whenever they kill, or witness the death of a wild beast.
The Indian squirrel, which abounds in the park, is smaller than ours, more of an ash colour, with two black and white streaks down its back; and not only lives in trees, but in the