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MONGHYR TO BUXAR.
Cattle swimming across the River-Brahmin Labourers-Patna-Banki
poor-Granary-Hackeries-Dinapoor-Cantonment-Digah FarnChupra—Floating Shops - Fort-Native Christians-Schools-Curreem Musseeh-Varicties of Complexion.
August 16.— There was no wind this morning till near 12 o'clock, but we had then just enough to help us out of the eddy of Monghyr and across the river to the other side, along which our boatmen had a painful day's tracking against a fierce stream. The Curruckpoor hills on the left-hand continued to offer a very beautiful succession of prospects. A chain of marshy islets seemed to extend nearly across the river towards the end of our course, by the aid of which a large herd of cattle were crossing with their keepers. The latter I conclude had been ferried over the principal arm, but when I saw them they were wading and swimming alternately by the side of their charge, their long grey mantles wrapped round their heads, their spear-like staves in their hands, and, with loud clamour joined to that of their boys and dogs, keeping the convoy in its proper course. The scene was wild and interesting, and put me in mind of Bruce's account of the passage of the Nile
by the Abyssinian army. The bank at the foot of the hills seemed fertile and populous as well as beautiful; that along which we proceeded is very wretched, swampy, without trees, and only two miserable villages. Several alligators rose as we went along, but I saw none basking on the many reedy islets and promontories, which, during the hot months, are said to be their favourite resorts. Mr. Lushington's Budgerow kept up with my pinnace extremely well, but the Corries were far behind.
We moored for the night adjoining a field of barley, the first I had seen in India; the ground was recovered, as it seemed, from a sand-bank in the river, and full of monstrous ant-hills, looking at a little distance like large hay-cocks. The peasant had just finished threshing his barley, and was busy burying it in the dry soil. A small shed, as usual, stood to watch where the straw with the grain in it had been collected. The high ground of Peer Puhar above. Monghyr was still in sight. Just before we stopped, a very large crocodile swam close to the boat, and shewed himself to the best advantage. Instead of being like those we had seen before, of a black or dusky colour, he was all over stripes of yellow and brownish black like the body of a wasp, with scales very visibly marked, and a row of small tubercles or prominences along the ridge of his back and tail. He must, I should think, have been about fifteen feet long, though under the circumstances in which I
APPEARANCE OF THE COUNTRY.
saw him, it was by no means easy to judge. My cabin was extremely infested with insects this evening, particularly with a large black beetle, which was very beautiful, having a splendid mixture of jet, copper-colour, and emerald about it. I had also a pretty green lizard, which I carefully avoided injuring, knowing it to be an enemy to ants and cock-roaches, both of which plagues are increasing, and unfortunately do not now seem to check each other. Yet I was a little perplexed how the “ honest man should have found his way into my closet."
August 17.-We had a fine breeze part of the day, and stood over to the other bank, which we found, as I had expected, really very pretty, a country of fine natural meadows, full of cattle, and interspersed with fields of barley, wheat, and Indian corn, and villages surrounded by noble trees, with the Curruckpoor hills forming a very interesting distance. If the palm trees were away, (but who would wish them away ?) the prospect would pretty closely resemble some of the best parts of England. In the afternoon we rounded the point of the hills, and again found ourselves in a flat and uninteresting, though fruitful country. The last beautiful spot was a village under a grove of tall fruit-trees, among which were some fine walnuts ; some large boats were building on the turf beneath them, and the whole scene reminded me forcibly of a similar builder's yard, which I had met with at Partenak in the Crimea. Many groupes of
men and boys sate angling, or with spears watching an opportunity to strike the fish, giving much additional beauty and liveliness to the scene.
I have been much struck for some days by the great care with which the stock of fruit-trees in this country is kept up. I see every where young ones of even those kinds which are longest in coming to maturity, more particularly mangoes, and the toddy or tara-palm (the last of which I am told must be from thirty to forty years old before it pays any thing) planted and fenced in with care round most of the cottages, a circumstance which seems not only to prove the general security of property, but that the peasants have more assurance of their farms remaining in the occupation of themselves and their children, than of late years has been felt in England.
The village near which we brought to for a short time in the evening, belonged to Brahmins exclusively, who were ploughing the ground near us, - with their strings floating over their naked shoulders; the ground was sown with rice, barley, and vetches, the one to succeed the other. Abdullah asked them to what caste of Brahmins they belonged, and on being told they were Pundits, enquired whether “a mixture of seeds was not forbidden in the Puranas ?" An old man answered with a good deal of warmth, that they were poor people and could not dispute, but he believed the doctrine to be a gloss of Bhuddh, striking his staff with much anger on the ground at the name of the heresiarch. The Brahmin labourers are now rest
ing after their toil, and their groupes are very picturesque. The ploughman, after unyoking his oxen, lifted up his simple plough, took out the coulter, a large knife shaped like a horn, wiped and gave it to a boy, then lifted up the beam and yoke on his own shoulders, and trudged away with it. These Brahmins, I observe, all shave their heads except a tuft in the centre, a custom which not many Hindoos, I think, besides them observe.
Having a good wind we proceeded a little further before sun-set; we passed a herd of cows swimming across a nullah about as wide as the Dee ten miles below Chester, the cowman supporting himself by the tail and hips of the strongest among them, and with a long staff guiding her in a proper direction across the stream. We soon after passed a similar convoy guided by a little boy, who, however, did not confine himself to one animal, but swam from one to another turning them with his staff and his voice as he saw proper. So nearly aquatic are the habits of these people, from the warmth of the climate, their simple food, their nakedness, and their daily habits of religious ablution. I saw a very smartly dressed and rather
retty young country-woman come down to the Ghât at Monghyr to wash. She went in with her mantle wrapped round her with much decency and even modesty, till the river was breast high, then ducked under water for so long a time that I began to despair of her re-appearance. This was at five o'clock in the morning, and she returned again at twelve to undergo the same process, both times