Page images
[blocks in formation]


in his own justification, that desiring to obtain a wife for his son, (a boy,) he had given some rupees to a neighbour, (one of the robbers) to buy one: that the said neighbour brought him the little girl, saying she was his niece, and that he received her as such. But there was little doubt that this was untrue, and that the design of the whole

gang was to sell the child to some person at a distance.] Case 10, Two for murder by poison, administered in brandy. 11, Five for false imprisonment and murder. (A man was seen

bound and dragged along by the five prisoners,-
taken to the house of one of them, and there confined
two or three days, and beaten, as it is said, to death.
They plead that the man was mad, and his death occa-
sioned by his distemper. It appears, however, that
there was previous malice, and that they were not bound

to take care of him, if he had been mad.]
12, Seven for house-breaking, with torture.
13, Three

for homicide, in executing an arrest.
14, Seven for an affray and riot at another indigo factory, aris-

ing out of the same dispute with the one formerly men

tioned. 15, Four for piracy and attempt to murder. 16, One for murder, by striking with a bamboo. 17, Nine for an attack on a dwelling-house, plundering, beat

ing, and false imprisonment. 18, One for false imprisonment, assault, and compelling the

plaintiff to sign a paper containing a false deposition.
19, Seven for forgery and subornation of forgery. See cases

6 and 14.
20, Six for robbing a boat.
21, Two for assault, with intent to kill.

22, Five for piracy and attempt to kill. In all 91 prisoners for trial, not including a very curious case now under investigation, in which a wealthy brahmin is accused of having procured his enemy to be seized and carried before the altar of Kali in his private house, and having there cut off his head, after the manner in which sheep and hogs are sacrificed to their deities. This offers certainly no favourable view of the morals of the country, considering that the district of Furreed poor is not larger than the ordinary run of Welsh counties. Two circumstances worth notice are, the gangs in which most crimes are committed, and the nature of the defence usually set up, which, I observed, was, in nine cases out of ten, an alibi, being the easiest of all others to obtain by the aid of false witnesses. Perjury is dreadfully common and very little thought of.

In the evening I again drove out with Mr. Warner. A large lake is at a small distance from the house, which holds water all summer. The natives say it was part of the original bed of the Ganges which used to cover all Furreed poor, till a Raja requiring a portion for his daughter, implored Varuna



to give him one. The god sent a tortoise, which swam out, making a large circuit in the bed of the river, and immediately within that space dry land appeared. I read prayers to Mr. Warner's family circle, and returned to my pinnace. Furreedpoor used to be a favourite station of banditti, and so dangerous, that till a local magistrate with a strong police was settled here, no valuable boat ever risked the passage. This part of its former history may possibly have made the manners of its present inhabitants more unruly, and account in some degree for the heaviness of the calendar.

July 27.-This day passed as the preceding. I heard nothing of Miss Stowe, and the disadvantage of any further delay to my voyage seemed so serious, that I determined, unless some news reached me in the course of this day or night, to

go on. July 28.--No tidings arriving, and having done every thing I could think of to ensure the gradual impartment of the sad news of her brother's death to poor Miss Stowe, and provided as far as I could for the comfort and safety of her dismal homeward journey, about noon, when I was hurrying the Serang to make sail, Î received a letter from my poor wife, with an account of the severe illness of both our babies, and of the merciful deliverance which our beloved little Emily had received from God. This letter grievously agitated me, so much so that I think for some time I hardly felt or under stood what had happened. My first impression was to hurry home to Calcutta. But on reading the letter over again, I knew I could implicitly trust my wife when she told me that the danger was over; that if she had apprehended the probability of a relapse, she would not have concealed it from me; that I was engaged at this time in a solemn professional duty, to desert which, without the strongest grounds, would be a criminal distrust of God, and neglect of his service; that my presence would not help my poor child, and that in case of the worst which I might hear at Bogwangola, I might at all events then return to comfort my poor wife under her affliction. On the whole I determined to go on, though, when I had made that determination, and was actually on the broad stream of the Ganges, it seemed as if I first became sensible of the bitterness which I had escaped, and which might still threaten

I did not, however, repent of the resolution which I. had taken, and I hoped I acted right, and not unfeelingly to my dear wife, in thus preferring a public to a private duty.






We had a noble breeze, and went on rapidly, all sail spread, when all at once, to my great surprise, the Serang brought up the pinnace so suddenly, that he almost laid her on her beam-ends, and the water flowed in at her lee cabin windows; a very little more wind, and she would have turned quite over. On running out to learn the reason of this manæuvre, I found Mohammed pale, Abdullah scolding, and the crew endeavouring, with more haste than good speed, to get in the top and top-gallant sails. It appeared that the steersman had seen a shoal right ahead, and so close under the bows, that even the rapid bringing-up of the boat's head was barely sufficient to avoid it. The fact is, however, that such mud-banks as are usually met with here would have been less dangerous with our flat bottom, than the expedient which they put in practise. However, I ordered two men forward with long bamboos, to sound wherever there appeared suspicion in future, and exhorted them, when they found occasion to bring up so suddenly again, always to let the sails go at the same time.

The river is here, I should think, from four to five miles wide. We advanced up it with our fine breeze at a great rate, till nearly seven, when we brought to in a swampy and inconvenient spot, immediately opposite Jaffiergunge, being very nearly the same place where, with poor Štowe, I had crossed the river a month before. It now swarmed with fishing-boats, but offered vessels of no other description. Many nullahs branch out of the main stream in every direction. I found to-day that these people do not apply the name of Gunga at all to this stream, but call it " Pudda." My ignorance of this fact used to perplex me exceedingly, both in asking questions and receiving answers. They know no Gunga but the Hooghly; and the Burra Gunga (Great Ganges,) by which I tried to explain myself, was always mistaken by Mohammed for the “Boori-gonga,” a comparatively insignificant stream near Dacca.

[blocks in formation]

He was

I forgot to mention in their proper places the things which I saw while at Furreedpoor. One was a specimen of the native fox, running near Mr. Warner's house, and so little afraid that one might almost have laid hold of him. a beautiful little animal, not much larger than a hare, of a more silky fir and squirrel-like tail, than the English reynard, and is rather serviceable than otherwise, inasmuch as though he sometimes catches small birds, his chief food is of field-mice and white ants. Another circumstance was, that my

boat was visited by a blind beggar, (a young countryman,) with his wife, a fine young woman, her features not very delicate, but her person remarkably well made, and the tallest female whom I have seen in India. I gave them alms, and when she thrust out her hand to receive them, she displayed massive silver bracelets, worth, I should think, at least 25 or 30 shillings. Yet these were beggars; and to judge from their scanty and wretched clothing in all other respects, I doubt not objects of pity. But for this poor woman to sell her bracelets, was a thing which probably never would occur to her as possible, except under urgent and hopeless hunger. : She had also rings on her ankles, which, indeed, drew my attention to her sex, for her height made me at first suppose her to be young man, and her dress, which was a coarse sackcloth mantle, might have belonged either to male or female.

Her manner was extremely modest; she never let go her husband's hand, and was evidently annoyed by the sort of notice she attracted from the boatmen and my servants. The old blind man, led by a little boy, whom we saw on the Chundnah, made his appearance also at Furreedpoor, à proof of his wandering habits. The existence of these beggars, as it implies that they obtain some relief, may seem to exculpate the mass of Hindoos from the charge of general inhumanity and selfishness, so often brought against them. At the same time, in a country where there is no legal provision for distress, it is almost needless to observe, that in cases of blindness, leprosy, lameness, and helpless old age, to give to beggars as we have the means, is an obligation of justice as well as charity.

July 29.–Our course the early part of to-day was chiefly along the north-east bank, and in part through a succession of aits,” beds of reeds, and overflowed ground cultivated with rice. The weather pleasant, and not very different from an English summer day. Indeed, I have as yet seen nothing to make me lose the opinion that the rains in India are by no means an unpleasant season. Several circumstances reminded me painfully of poor Stowe. At about half past nine we passed what he and I had, in our previous passage,

[blocks in formation]

taken for a clump of tall trees; but which, now that I saw it nearer, appeared to be a single but very majestic banian. I looked in vain for the islet where we passed our evening, (his last evening of health and high spirits,) and where he waded after the wild ducks into the marsh, which so unhappily affected him. The increasing flood had now covered it; but I recognised the village where we passed our first night in what we called, in merriment, “India beyond the Gan. ges;" where we saw the dwarf, and the “ lodge in the garden of cucumbers;" while, standing out a little, to avail ourselves of the wind in the next reach, we grounded on a part of the same line of marshy islets which we had traversed on foot a few weeks before. "I could not help feeling that now I had nobody to compare my impressions with; none whose attention I might call to singular or impressive objects,that I was, indeed, a lonely wanderer! Such thoughts are, however, useless, and perhaps they are hardly innocent; with a great object before me, with Providence for my guide, and with the power of a constant correspondence with a beloved wife, I have no right to regard myself as solitary or forsaken. But having nobody to talk to will probably swell the

size of my journal.

The country improved very much in the course of the morning, and the number of fishing-boats was really extraordinary; most of them had their sails spread between two bamboos, one on each gunwale, as common in the South Seas; and the groups both of boats and fishermen, skimming past the beautifully wooded bank, afforded subjects for painting such as I should have delighted, had I possessed the necessary talent, to transfer to paper.

About half past one, and when we were not far from the stream which diverges from the Pudda, between Pulna and Radanuggur, Mohammed, in excessive carelessness or ignorance, contrived to lose his way, by going directly north, round a large island in the middle of the river, and consequently in a channel leading back again towards Jaffiergunge. We soon found that we had the stream with instead of against us, and asking some fishermen, learned the mistake. had scarcely, I think, gone a mile wrong, when we attempted to return; but having both wind and stream against us, and very bad towing ground, it took up the whole afternoon, till past six, to get out of the scrape again, and to moor in the main stream, by some marshy ground, so completely drenched with water, that my bearers were unable to find a place to dress their victuals. This loss of half a day's fine wind was excessively provoking. The delay, however, gave time for the servants' boats to join us which must else have Vol. I.


« PreviousContinue »