Page images
PDF
EPUB

winds make a noise, to warn ships off them. “Oh,” said Abdullah,“there are elephants bathing; Dacca much place for elephant.” I looked immediately, and saw about twenty of these fine animals with their heads and trunks just appearing above

the water. Their bellowing it was which I had ! heard, and which the water conveyed to us with a

finer effect than if we had been ashore. Another mile, or thereabouts, of rowing brought us to some buildings of a more habitable description, and pretty much like those of Calcutta. One of these, close to the water's edge, was pointed out to me as Mr. Master's, who was himself in the court of justice, but whose servants, though surprised to see the style in which I arrived, had an excellent bedroom for me, with every thing ready for bathing and dressing. I found myself in no respect the worse for my boating, except that my face was a little burnt, in spite of my chahtah, by the reflection of the water, while my shins (which had been exposed to the sun, owing to my trowsers slipping up

in the uncomfortable situation in which I was compelled to sit,) were scorched as if I had laid them before a great fire. These I washed in milk, which relieved them a good deal. Mr. Master, when he returned, said that, though I had, perhaps, done a rash thing in coming through the sun, yet certainly I took the only means of arriving in time for Church. He said that he would send a guardboat to help the pinnace on, but that she could not possibly get to Dacca under 24 hours. For my part, except my shins, I never felt better.

CHAPTER VII.

DACCA.

Ruins-Visit from the Nawáb-Visit returned-Death of Mr. Stowen

Consecration of Church, and Burial-ground-Confirmation---Armenian Archbishop-Farewell visit to Nawáb-Meer Israf Ali.

July 4.— I preached to a small congregation, in a very small but pretty Gothic Church. Mr. Parish read prayers, and gave notice of the Consecration and Confirmation for the Wednesday and Friday ensuing. About 4 o'clock the pinnace arrived, but Stowe, to my great concern, sent word that he was too ill to leave it, having had a very severe relapse of dysentery. I took Mr. Todd, the surgeon of the station, to him, who pressed his making the attempt for the sake of a more airy apartment than his cabin, and in an hour's time, the wind having abated, he got into Mr. Master's house and to bed, Į hope not the worse for the exertion. Nothing can exceed Mr. Master's kindness to us both, but I am sorry to say, he is himself by no means in good health.

The river on which Dacca stands, has greatly altered its character since Rennell drew his map. It was then narrow, but is now, even during the dry season, not much less than the Hooghly at Calcutta. At present it is somewhat wider, but

from the upper, windows of Mr. Master's house, the opposite bank may be seen also in a great degree flooded, and though the green rice rising with the water, gives it no other appearance than that of a swampy meadow, small boats are seen every where paddling about amid the crop, which yields them way without difficulty.

Dacca, Mr. Master says, is, as I supposed, merely the wreck of its ancient grandeur. Its trade is reduced to the sixtieth part of what it was, and all its splendid buildings, the castle of its founder Shahjehanguire, the noble mosque he built, the palaces of the ancient Nawâbs, the factories and Churches of the Dutch, French, and Portuguese nations, are all sunk into ruin, and overgrown with jungle. Mr. Master has himself been present at a tyger hunt in the court of the old palace, during which the elephant of one of his friends fell into a well, overgrown with weeds and bushes. The cotton produced in this district is mostly sent to England raw, and the manufactures of England are preferred by the people of Dacca themselves for their cheapness. There are still a few Armenians resident in the town, some of them wealthy, with a Church, and two Priests. Their Archbishop, who makes once in four or five years a journey from Nakitchyan to India, is now in the place, on the same errand with me. There are also a few Portuguese, very poor and degraded. Of Greeks the number is considerable, and they are described as an industrious and intelligent people, mixing more with the English than the rest, and filling many of

[blocks in formation]

the subaltern situations under government. The clerk at the English Church (it happens singularly enough) is a Greek, and the Greek Priest has sent to request permission to call on me.

Of English there are none, except a few indigo planters in the neighbourhood, and those in the civil or military service. But the Hindoo and Mohammedan population, Mr. Master still rates at 300,000, certainly no immoderate calculation, since, as he says, he has ascertained that there are above 90,000 houses and huts. The climate of Dacca, Mr. Master reckons one of the mildest in India, the heat being always tempered by the vast rivers flowing near it, and the rapidity of their streams discharging the putrid matter of the annual inundation more rapidly than is ever the case in the Hooghly. The neighbourhood affords only one short ride at this season, and not many even when the ground is dry, being much intersected by small rivers, and some large and impenetrable jungles coming pretty close to the north-east of the town. Boating is popular, and they make boats very well here. Indeed I cannot conceive a situation which more naturally would lead men to take delight in sailing. No vessels, however, larger than the small country-built brigs ever come to Dacca ; during the rains, ships of any moderate burden might do so, but it would be attended with some risk, and the inducements to enter this branch of the Ganges are not sufficient to encourage men to endanger their vessels or themselves, though as far as Luckipoor, small European craft have been known to come. The majority pre

fer Chittagong, though even this last has a harbour little adapted for vessels of burthen.

Of Chittagong I learnt many interesting particulars. The town of Islamabad itself is not large, and the English society is still smaller than at Dacca. The country round is pretty and romantic, consisting of a number of little round steep hills covered with verdure, coffee, pepper, vines, and bamboos, on the summits of which the villas of the English are generally placed. These are not very accessible, the roads being often too steep and stony to admit of carriages or horses, and the usual method of visiting being in tonjons, and even these, no bearers but the practised ones of Chittagong would be able to carry in such a country. At some distance from the coast are mountains which divide this territory from that of the Burmese, and are covered by almost impenetrable woods and thickets. The climate, Mr. Master thinks, has been over-praised. It is certainly cooler during the hot months than Culcutta, but not than Dacca, while during the rainy season and the winter, it is exceedingly raw, aguish, and asthmatic, being subject to continual and very offensive fogs, from the quantity of uncleared land, and the neighbouring mountains. But little has been attempted at Dacca or Chittagong for the conversion of the natives, and that little has had very small success. At the former place is a Baptist minister, who is described as a very good and diligent man, and has succeeded in establishing one Christian school (among the Portuguese and Greek children), and some few

« PreviousContinue »