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FESTIVAL OF JUNMA OSMEE.
are still more adorned with trinkets than those in Bengal. Besides the silver bracelets, their arms are covered with rings of a hard kind of sealing-wax which looks like coral, and another ornament either of silver or bright steel is common, in shape something like a perforated discus; it is worn above the elbow.
August 18.-This morning, after leaving the nullah, we proceeded with a fine breeze, along the left-hand bank of the river, which is very fertile and populous, with a constant succession of villages, whose inhabitants were all washing themselves and getting on their best attire, it being the Hindoo festival of Junma Osmee.
The day was a very brilliant one, and, though hot, rendered supportable by the breeze, while the whole scene was lively and cheerful, -all the shops having their flags hoisted; little streamers being spread by most of the boats which we passed, and a larger banner and concourse of people being displayed at a little pagoda under the shade of some noble peepul and tamarind trees.
The river is all this time filled with boats of the most picturesque forms; the peasants on the bank have that knack of e grouping themselves, the want of which I have heard com
plained of in the peasantry of England. Two novel circumstances were seen this morning; the one the appearance of considerable herds of swine, of a small kind resembling the Chinese breed, which were grazing near most of the villages; the other a system of planting tara palms in the trunks of decayed peepul-trees. The first whích I saw I supposed had been sown there by accident; but I soon found that the practice was frequent, and that the peepul thus treated had generally the greater part of its branches, and all the tops cut away to favour the intruding plant, which stands as if it were in a rude flower-pot. The hollow part of the tree must, I suppose, be previously filled with earth. A very excellent fence is thus obtained for the young tara plant; but I conclude that they are not Hindoos who thus mangle and violate the sacred tree of Siva.
Towards noon the banks became again, though not rocky, high and precipitous, and full of holes for the Muenas' nests. We are fortunate in having a breeze, for the towing here would be dangerous, the bank being crumbling and undermined, and the stream flowing with great rapidity. A friend of Mr. Corrie's had two dandees drowned in this place last month. I was astonished when he told me this, since it seemed almost as possible to drown an alligator as men of their habits. I was answe wered, however, that the
fellows were worn out with towing, and that the current washed
them under the boats, whence they had not strength to res cover themselves.
Two dervises, strange antic figures, in many-coloured patched garments, with large wallets, begged of us to day: I gave a trifle to the elder, a venerable old man, who raised his hand with much dignity and prayed for me.
At Bar, where I dined, is an old ruined house, with some little appearance of a palace, once the residence of the Jemautdar of the district, under the Mohammedan government. We brought to about half-past six near an indigo-field, which filled my cabin with bugs. The night was very hot and close.
August 19.-Another intensely hot day, but made bearable by a breeze. I found a young scorpion in my cabin this morning among my books. It seems to prove that such pests are not so common in India as is often supposed, that I have now been ten months in the country without seeing more; and that, though I have walked a good deal, and never particularly avoided places where such things are to be looked for, I have only seen one cobra di capello. I had supposed scorpions to be black, and was surprised to-day to see an animal white and almost transparent.
The pinnace got aground in passing from the chain of nullahs and jeels which we entered yesterday, into the main river, and we were obliged to call in the assistance of some fishermen to help her off; they laboured hard for near an hour, and were grateful for a gratuity of two pice; they were nine in number, besides a brahmin, who came down from a village while we were just getting disengaged, and extending a basket full of scarlet flowers, applied for a thank-offering to his god, in consideration of our escape from danger. I thought he was merely asking for alms, not quite hearing what he said, but Abdullah explained his meaning. However, he had obtained his request.
Our halting-place was on a pleasant open shore, opposite to Futwa, but still short of Patna. The country round is bare of wood, but well cultivated and very populous: the land laid out in alternate patches of grass-fallow, covered with cows, buffaloes, and swine, and fields of millet and Indian corn, among
appear also some patches of the castor-oil plant, which, now that the coco-nut is no longer found, is the usual supply for their lamps.
I walked about a good deal, the evening being pleasant, and was much interested. The buffaloes were all buried in the water, scarcely showing more than their noses and horns above its surface, but as the sun went down, they came out, sleek, blaek, and glossy; too wild and timorous to suffer á
European to approach them, but showing no degree of fierce
The pigs are small, black, and shaggy, of a very wild appearance. At the nearest village to which I walked were two or three cottages, which, though mere hovels of mud and thatch, yet from
the size of their out-buildings, and the treading of many cattle all round them, I should conceive were really the residences of tolerably wealthy farmers. One of these, an old man, was thrashing out a small kind of millet, by driving oxen over it round and round in a circle. They were just leaving off work as I came up, and a hind was bringing a large bundle of green Indian corn, weeded from the thick crop for their provender. I observed, however, that the animals, during their previous employment, were not muzzled, according to the Scriptural rule, at the same time that they were kept so constantly moving that a few mouthfuls were all that they could get. While I was examining this heap of grain, and asking the old man some questions, his cows came up for the evening, and I pleased him exceedingly, when the cowman ran forward to beat them from my path, by forbidding him to strike them. “Good! good !” he said, with an air indicative of much satisfaction, 66 one must not beat cows.” It seems to me that the tender mercies of the Hindoos towards animals are exhausted on cows only; for oxen they have no pity,-they are treated with much severity, but I have not here seen them show such marks of cruelty as those near Calcutta. Comfortable, on the whole, as this village seemed, many of the houses must soon be rendered uninhabitable, if, as seems by no means impossible from present appearances, the river rises a single cubit higher. Their round granaries, however, are all raised considerably above the other buildings, and must, I should suppose, be tolerably safe. When I asked what was to become of the others if the river rose, the answer was, they hoped it would not rise more than a few inches higher, which would be sufficient for their fields, without starving their cattle.
Futwa, which was directly opposite to us, is a large and ancient town, on a river for which the people of the town seem to have no other name than 6 Futwakee Nuddee." Futwa is famous for a very long and handsome old bridge, (an object of some rarity in India,) and a college of Mussulman law and divinity, the Moulavies of which are widely renowned. The night was very cool and pleasant.
August 20.-We arrived at the south-east extremity of Patna about nine o'clock; it is a very great, and from the water at some little distance, a very striking city, being full of large buildings, with remains of old walls and towers, VOL. I.
and bastions projecting into the river, with the advantage of a high rocky shore, and considerable irregularity and elevation of the ground behind it. On a nearer approach, we find, indeed, many of the houses whose verandahs and terraces are striking objects at a distance, to be ruinous: but still in this respect, and in apparent prosperity, it as much exceeds Dacca as it falls short of it in the beauty and grandeur of its ruins. As we approached, I proposed slacking sail to give the Corries time to come up, but Mohammed said that opposite the old castle was one of the most rapid and difficult passages of the river between Hurdwar and Saugor, and that if we did not use the fine wind we now had, we might be kept for weeks. We therefore proceeded along this noble expanse of water, which I really think grows wider instead of narrower as we advance, and which here, between wind and stream, was raised into waves little less than those which the Mersey sometimes exhibits below Liverpool; my boat for this sort of service is really a very fine one.
At the eastern extremity of Patna is a large wood of palms, and fruit trees, pointed out to me as the garden belonging to a summer palace, built and planted by the Nawab Jaffier Ali Khan. They are renowned for their beauty and extent, being two or three miles in circuit. We also passed a large and dilapidated palace, which had been the residence of the late Nawab of Patna, Abbas Kouli Khan, a splendid and popular person; he left no successor, but his nearest heirs are two very intelligent young men, who are said to hold some lucrative employment under the English Government, and to be much in its confidence. The houses of the rich natives which we passed, pretty much resemble those of Calcutta. They have, however, the advantage of immediately abutting on the river, and I saw one which, beneath its Corinthian superstructure, had a range of solid buildings of the eastern gothic, with pointed arches and small windows, containing a suite of apartments almost on a level with the water, uninhabitable, I should suppose, from damp during this season, but which must be coolness' itself during the hot winds. The continued mass of buildings extends about four miles along the river, when it changes into scattered cottages and bungalows; interspersed with trees, till some more large and handsome buildings appear about three miles further. This is Bankipoor, where are the Company's opium warehouses, courts of justice, &c., &c., and where most of their civil servants live. I had an invitation from Sir Charles D'Oyley, and stopped my boat literally at the gate of his house, which stands very pleasantly on a high bank above the river. I met here a Franciscan friar, a
remarkably handsome and intelligent-looking little man, whom I immediately and rightly guessed to be the Italian Padre, “ Giulio Cesare," of whom so much mention is made in Martyn's Life. I found great amusement and interest in looking over Sir Charles's drawing books; he is the best gentleman artist I ever met with. He says India is full of beautiful and picturesque country, if people would but stir a litthe way from the banks of the Ganges, and his own drawings and paintings certainly make good his assertion. The D'Oyleys offered me very kindly a bed-room on shore, which, as my boat was under the shester of a high bank, I found much cooler than the cabin. Soon after I arrived I received a large packet of letters, and, thank God! a more comfortable account of those dearest to me.
The wind and the sea, for the river really deserves the name, continued to rise during a greater part of the day, so that the Corries, it was very plain, could not get past the rock on which the fort stands. Indeed we afterwards heard that at Dinapoor, where the stream is also usually violent, a budgerow and even a pinnace had been very nearly lost, and the latter actually almost filled with water, and driven ashore.
After dinner Lady D'Oyley took me round the only drive which is at this time of year practicable, being, though of smaller extent, múch such a green as the race-ground at Barrackpoor. We passed a high building, shaped something like a glass-house, with a stair winding round its outside up to the top, like the old prints of the Tower of Babel. It was built as a granary for the district, in pursuance of a plan adopted about thirty-five years ago by Government; after a great-famine, as a means of keeping down the price of grain, but abandoned on a supposed discovery of its inefficacy, since no means in their hands, nor any buildings which they could construct, without laying on fresh taxes, would have been sufficient to collect or contain more than one day's provision for the vast population of their territories. It is not only in a tiine of famine, that in a country like India, the benefit of public granaries would be felt. These would of course be filled by the agents of the Company in those years and those seasons when grain was cheapest, and when the cultivator was likely to be ruined by the impossibility of obtaining a remunerating price. But the presence of an additional, a steady and a wealthy customer at such times in the market, to the amount of 1-365th of the whole produce, or even less than that, would raise the price of grain ten or even twenty per cent., and thus operate as a steady and constant bounty on agriculture, more popular by far, and, as I conceive, more efficient than any Corn Law