« PreviousContinue »
ceeding bad conduct of the late chaplain, which must have driven many from the church, whom it would be very difficult for the most popular preacher to entice back again. And the want of a decent church is the strongest cause of all. The present room barely affords accommodation for half the soldiers who might be expected to attend, without leaving any for the officers' families, or the neighbouring planters. These, therefore, though room is generally to be had, have an excuse to offer to their consciences for not attending; and it is really true, that for women and children of the
class to sit jostling with soldiers in a small close room, without punkahs, with a drive of perhaps three or four miles before and after service, is not a prospect which would make a man very fond of bringing his family to attend divine service. A spacious and airy church would greatly remove these difficulties. Government did, I understand, promise one some time back; but the military officers, to whom the preparation of the estimate and plan were left, took no trouble in the business. On the whole, what I saw and heard, both at and after church, made me low and sad, to which perhaps the heat of the day, the most oppressive I have yet felt in India, greatly contributed.
On my return to the pinnace, which had meantime come on from Bankipoor, I found that, to avoid the fury of the stream, they had moored her in a narrow nullah, which constitutes the harbour of Dinapoor, and which was filled with all kinds of vessels, while one of its banks was covered with warehouses, and the other occupied by a great cattle-fair. The heat was intense, and no breath of air could visit us, whilst, as evening came on, we were sure of being devoured by moschetoes. I soon made up my mind, and told the Serang to leave the nullah and anchor in the middle of the river, when I had dressed and left the pinnace, and to have the jolly-boat waiting for me at night, on the beach, below the battery.
In the evening Mr. Northmore called to take me a drive before dinner. We went to "Digah Farm," the place I had passed in the morning, which is extremely well worth seeing. It is a tavern, a large ground-floored house with excellent rooms, very handsomely fitted up, surrounded with some of the most extensive ranges of cow-houses, pig-styes, places for fattening sheep and cattle, dairies, &c. that I ever saw, all kept beautifully clean, with a large grass court full of poultry, and in the middle a very pretty flower-garden. To the back is a large kitchen-garden, and beyond this stacks of oats and other grain, not unworthy of an English farmer. The keeper is named Havel, a very respectable man. He is the
butcher, corn-dealer, brewer, wine merchant, confectioner, and wax-chandler of all this part of India.
During the drive I endeavoured to put Mr. Northmore in the
way of getting some of those aids from the military officers of the cantonment, to which, by the regulations of Government, he is entitled. And afterwards at dinner, where were present most of the officers now in garrison, I succeed. ed, I hope, in getting the re-establishment of the school, together with the assurance from the colonel of the European regiment, that he would urge his recruits to attend, and promote only those men to be non-commissioned officers who could read and write; a measure which would soon make reading and writing universal. The brigade-major was not present, but I said all I could to the colonel about the lending library, and a more regular attendance of the troops in church, and was glad to find what I said extremely well taken. The li. brary I think I have secured, since every body present seemed pleased with the idea, when the nature of its contents and the system of circulation were explained. The heat was something which a man who had not been out of Europe would scarcely conceive, and the party, out of etiquette on my account, were all in their cloth uniforms. I soon put them at their ease, however, in this particular; and I am almost inclined to hope that the white jackets which were immediately sent for, put them in better humour both with me and my suggestions.
I was much pressed to stay over the next Sunday, or at least a few days longer; but it is only by going to-morrow that I can hope to reach Ghazeepoor, or even Buxar, by Sunday next; and all agreed, on telling them what I had to do, that I had no time to spare in order to reach Bombay before the hot winds.
August 25.--I parted from Dinapoor under a salute of artillery, and sailed along the northern bank, which, where we first approached it, presented an outline far bolder and more abrupt than most which I have seen on the Ganges, being a precipitous bank of red earth overhung with trees and shrubs, with a native house of some consequence on its summit.
About noon we arrived at Chuprah, a large town on the north bank of the river, or rather on an arm of the river divided from the main stream by some marshy islands. Chuprah was the scene of a defeat received by Mr. Law, from, I believe, Sir Eyre Coote, (then Capt. Coote.) It is now the chief town of the district of Sarum, and the residence of the Judge and Collector; and contains also a good many large, handsome, native houses, and one very pretty mosque, or pagoda, I know not which. Its architecture resembles the first,
but there are a peepul-tree, ghat, and other things near it, which lead me to suspect the latter, and I do noť think its entrance tallies with the regard shown in all mosques to the Kibla. While I was in this place, vainly waiting for the Corries, a very fine and fast sailing budgerow arrived with Mr. and Mrs. Anson, on their way to join his regiment at Meerut, and we proceeded together.
Near our halting place, which was a very pleasant one, was a little open shed occupied by a Hindoo ascetic; with a double quantity of dung and chalk on his face, who was singing in a plaintive monotonous tone to a little knot of peasants, who seemed to regard him with great veneration. He did not beg of us, but suspended his hymn while we passed between him and the Ganges. He had not the tiger-skin which those whom I saw at Boglipoor appeared to take particular pleasure in displaying. A village was near, and a fine orchard of mangoe-trees; a number of bearers passed with packages of various kinds, belonging, as they said, to a certain potentate named the “ Dum-Raja," who was crossing the country to pay a visit somewhere in this neighbourhood was in hopes of an opportunity to see an Indian of rank on a journey, but it appeared that the great man had already passed. We overtook a number of vessels to-day, two of them, of a curious and characteristic description. One was a budgerow at Chuprah, pretty deeply laden, with a large blue board on its side like that of an academy in England, incribed “Goods for sale on commission," being in fact strictly a floating shop, which supplied all the smaller stations with, what its owners would probably call, Europe articles.” The other was a more elegant vessel of the same kind, being one of the prettiest pinnaces I ever saw, with an awning spread over the quarter-deck, under which sate a lady and two gentleman reading, and looking so comfortable that I could have joined their party. I found that it was the floating shop of a wealthy tradesman at Dinapoor, who, towards the middle of the rains, always sets out in this manner with his wife, to make the tour of the Upper Provinces, as high as his boat could carry him, ascending alternate years, or as he finds most custom, to Agra, Meerut, or Lucknow, by their respective rivers, and furnishing glass, cutlery, perfumery, &c. &c. to the mountaineers of Deyra Doon, and the Zennanas of Runjeet Singh and Scindeah. We passed in the course of this day the mouths of no less than three great rivers falling into the Ganges from different quarters, the Soane from the south and the mountains of Gundwana, the Gunduch from Nepaul, and the Dewah from, I believe, the neighbourhood of Almorah: each of the three is larger, and of longer course
FILIAL PIETY OF THE NATIVES.
than the Thames or Severn. What an idea does this givě us of the scale on which Nature works in these countries!
The heat all this day would have been intense, had not the breeze tempered it. No rain has fallen for many days.
August 26.-Our fine wind continued, which was the more fortunate since the sun was intensely hot and bright. In our way to Buxar the Sirdar came to me with hands joined, and that sort of anxious smile which signifies that its wearer is about to ask a favour. He said that his parents lived close to the place where we now were, and requested a two days' leave of absence, (promising to join me on Sunday night at Ghazeepoor,) and also that I would advance him a month's wages to leave with them. I could not refuse him, though he is a very valuable person on board, and mention it because it seems to show that among these poor people there is at least filial piety. The calling to see them was, indeed, natural; but the gift of the month's wages was what many valets-de-chambre in England would have thought, I fear, " quite out of character. I forgot to mention in the proper place that the Sota-burdar had made a similar request at Bankipoor, where he had, he said, a wife and three children still at home, and that Abdullah, whose friends also live in Patna, had been to see them, and brought back with him divers books, clothes, and other things which he had left behind him, when he undertook that voyage to England, in his return from which we met him. He, however, did not ask for any advance of money, as he said his relations were pretty well off, and more able to help him than he them. He did not seem to anticipate much kindness of reception, but returned in good spirits, and asked for another day's leave of absence.
I found Baxar, (which I had expected to see a little ruinous fort, remarkable only as the scene of the battle which confirmed the British in the possession of Bengal and Bahar,) a large and respectable Mussulman town, with several handsome mosques--one of the largest and neatest bazars which I have seen, and some good looking European bungalows. We had some difficulty, owing to a crowd of boats, in getting our little vessel moored in a nullah, (or colly, as they call them here,) which is the usual harbour of the place. I could have preferred the open river, but the beach was very inconvenient, and the stream so strong that I did not like to press the point. Nor was the creek in question by any means so close and hot as that at Dinapoor. As soon as we touched ground, I sent a letter to Captain Field, the fort adjutant, requesting him to make my arrival known to the Europeans in garrison, in order that, if there was any
clerical assistance wanted, they might call on me in the forenoon of the next day. I was soon afterwards visited by Captain Field, who said he had immediately sent round the requisite notice, and apprehended that there would be some glad to avail themselves of it. He told me, to my surprise, that he had no fewer than 150 Europeans in garrison, his whole force amounting to 600 men. He also apologized for not having saluted me on my arrival, and on my teßling him that I always supposed his fort was dismantled, he said that it was still so far in good order that nothing but a European force could take it, except by a very long siege. On hearing the number of Europeans, I expressed my regret that I could not, without great inconvenience, stay over Sunday; to which he replied, that he was convinced, (as they had so very seldom an opportunity of attending divine service,) they would thankfully assemble if I would give them prayers and a sermon at ten the next day, to which, of course, I gladly consented. A welcome shower of rain fell this evening,
August 27.-I went in the morning with Captain Field to see the fort, which is a small square, with a high rampart cased with turf, four circular bastions, a deep and wide ditch, a good glacis, and a sort of lower fort, extending to and commanding the river. The view from the ramparts is pleasing and extensive. There is one quarter which is, I think, extremely assailable, and which Major Dugald Dalgetty would unquestionably have pressed him to fortify. Still, as he truly said, it might stand a siege of some length from a native army, and its situation on the Ganges in its nearest approach to the Goorkah territories, might make such a defence by no means unimportant, in the event of a rupture with those mountaineers. It is this possibility, indeed, which now constitutes the principal value of the great stations of Dinapoor and Ghazeepoor.
After breakfast I went to Captain Field's house, which he had arranged, as well as it admitted of, as a church. The principal room, and the adjoining verandah, were filled with old soldiers: two little rooms on each side contained, to my surprise, a number of natives, mostly women and children, while some officers and their wives were ranged round my desk. All were very attentive, and the old soldiers more particularly, (who had almost all prayer books,) joined in the responses with a regularity, an exactness, and a zeal, which much affected me, and showed how much, in their situation, they felt the blessing of an opportunity of public worship. I more than half repented of my intention to leave them before Monday. But I was aware that Ghazeepoor had at least an equally numerous congregation, equally without a Vol. I.