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pleasing though not powerful voices, after which, as the demands both of curiosity and civility were satisfied, I gave them a gratuity, as I understood was usual on such occasions, as a token of their dismissal.
After this some cake and Persian grapes were brought in, and I took leave, having in the civilest and most cordial way I could, declined the usual present of shawls, and accepted one of fruit and sweetmeats. On going away I told the Raja's jemautdar to come to the camp in the evening, and he and his fellow-servants should have the usual buckshish, but he answered that neither he nor any of the Raja's people, except the dancing girls, to whom it was a usual token of approbation, dared accept any thing of the kind, the first instance which I had met with of a Hindoo refusing money, Soon after I had taken leave, and while we were still escorted by the Bullumghur cavalry, a message came from the Raja to say that he had heard of my intended liberality to his people, but that it was his particular request that I would give nothing either to his servants or to the suwarrs, whom he intended, with my leave, to send on with me as far as Muttra. Surely this is what in England would be called high and gentlemanly feeling
On our approach to Sikre, where the tents were pitched, I found we had entered another little feudal territory, being received by about twenty horsemen, with a splendid old warrior at their head, who announced himself as the jaghiredar of the place, and holding a little barony, as it would be call.. ed in Europe, under the Company, intermixed with the larger territories of Bullumghur. Cassim Ali Khan, the Nawab of Sikre, who thus introduced himself, was a figure which Wouvermans or Rubens would have delighted to paint, a tall, large, elderly man, with a fine countenance, and a thick and curly but not long gray beard, on a large and powerful white Persian horse, with a brocade turban, a saddle-cloth of tiger's skin with golden tassels which almost swept the ground, sword, shield, and pistols, mounted with silver, and all the other picturesque insignia of a Mussulman cavalier of distinction. He said that he had been a tusseldar in command of two hundred horse in Lord Lake's war, and had been recompensed at the end of the contest with a little territory of ten villages, rent and tax free. The Raja, he said, who had two hundred and fifty villages, nearly enclosed him, but they were good friends. The Raja certainly, though his brother is a fine young man, had nothing in his whole cavalcade to equal the old Nawab's figure, which was perfect as a picture, from his bare muscular neck and his crisp gray mustachios, down to his yellow boots and the strong brown hand, with an
PROVINCE OF DELHI,
emerald ring on it, the least turn of which on his silver bridle seemed to have complete mastery over his horse, without too much repressing its spirit. He afterwards showed me his certificates of service from Lord Lake and others, and it appeared that his character in all respects had corresponded with his manly and intelligent appearance.
At sikre, I found a letter from Mr. Cavendish, collector and magistrate of this district, saying that he was encamped in the neighbourhood and intended to call on me next morning at our next station, at Brahminy Kerar.
January 5.—The country between Sikre and Brahminy Kerar is uninteresting enough, though rather more fertile than in the neighbourhood of Delhi. Half way, near a village named Pulwul, we passed Mr. Cavendish's encampment, and were met by an escort of his suwarrs. I had long since had my eyes pretty well accustomed to the sight of shields and spears, but I have not failed to observe that, along this frontier which has not been till of late in a settled or peaceable state, and where hard blows are still of no unfrequent occurrence, even the police troopers sit their horses better, and have a more martial air by far, than persons in the same situation in the Dooab, or even in Rohilcund. I begin, indeed, to think better of the system on which the province of Delhi has been governed since its conquest, from all which I hear of its former state. This neighbourhood, for instance, is still but badly cultivated, but fifteen years ago it was as wild, I am assured, as the Terrai, as full of tigers, and with no human inhabitants but banditti. Cattle-stealing still prevails to a great extent, but the Mewattees are now most of them subject either to the British Government, or that of Bhurtpoor, and the security of life and property afforded them by the former, has induced many of the tribes to abandon their fortresses, to seat themselves in the plain and cultivate the ground like honest men and good subjects, while the tranquillity of the border, and the force maintained along it, prevents the Bhurtpoor marauders from renewing their depredations so often as they used to do. Highway robberies also sometimes occur, generally attended with murder; but, on the whole, the amendment has been great, and a European, under ordinary circumstances, may pass in safety through any part of the district. The lands are not now highly assessed, and Government has liberally given up half the year's rent in consideration of the drought. Still, however, something more is wanting, and every public man in these provinces appears to wish that a settlement for fourteen or even twenty years could be brought about, in order to give the Zemindars an interest in the soil and an inducement to make improvements.
At Brahminy Kerar are a few ruins, but nothing worthy particular notice. The coss-minars still make their appear. ance, but at very uncertain distances, great numbers having been destroyed or gone to decay. Indeed the road does not always follow its ancient line.
January 6.-We went on eight coss to Horal. The country along the road side is jungly, but cultivation seems rapidly gaining on it. The road side is, in India, always the part last cultivated, the natives being exposed to many inju. ries and oppressions from sepoys and travellers. I was told that for every bundle of grass or fagots which the thannadar, or other public officer, brought to my camp, he demanded as much more from the poor peasants, which he appropriated to his own use; and that, even if I paid for what I got, it required much attention, and some knowledge of the language, to be sure that the money was not intercepted in its way to the right owner. But the common practice of the thannadar was, to charge nothing for what was furnished to the traveller, both from wishing to make a compliment to the latter, (which costs him nothing, and also to take, without the means of detection, his own share of the plunder. The best way is to insist on a written bill, and request the collector afterwards to inquire of the Ryuts whether the money had been paid.
At Horal is a very pretty native house, now uninhabited, but used as a court of justice, with a fine tank near it, both the work of a former Hindoo jemautdar, in memory of whom a small temple is raised in the neighbourhood. Within I saw the representation of four human feet, one pair larger than the other, on a little altar against the wall, and was told that it was the customary way of commemorating that the favourite wife had burnt herself with her husband. This horrible custom, I am glad to find, is by no means common in this part of India; indeed, I have not yet found it common any where except in Bengal, and some parts of Bahar.
January 7.-From Horal to Dhotana, in the province of Agra, is seven coss, a wild, but more woody country than we had lately traversed. By woody, as distinct from jungle, I mean that a good many fine trees were seen. At Dhotana I saw the first instance of a custom which I am told I shall see a good deal of in my southern journey,--a number of women, about a dozen, who came with pitchers on their heads, dancing and singing, to meet me. There is, if I recollect right, an account of this sort of dance in Kehama. They all professed to be “Gaopiaree," or milk-maids, and are in fact, as the thannadar assured me, the wives and daughters of the Gaowala caste. Their voices and style of sing
ing were by no means unpleasing; they had all the appearance of extreme poverty, and I thought a rupee well bestowed upon them, for which they were very thankful. There are many indications, along all this route, of great distress and poverty arising from the long drought, but less, very far less, than to the north of Delhi; and what is remarkable, there are few professed beggars or faquirs. Those who have recently asked for charity have been poor women with young children, or men wandering, as they say, in search of work.
We were this day met by some suwarrs from the Judge of Agra, and I therefore dismissed the horse of Bullumghur. To take with me more than enough was only burdening the people; and since I was not to pay them, I apprehended they were not sorry to receive their dismissal. I sent with them a letter of thanks to the Raja.
January 8.-From Dhotana to Jeyt, the next stage, is a long sixteen miles, through a wild country. On our left, at a distance of two or three miles, we passed Bindrabund, a large town on the banks of the Jumna, celebrated among the Hindoos for its sanctity, and the wealth of its pagodas. I was sorry that I could not visit it, but I believe there was not really much to regret. The buildings are ancient, but all mean; and the peculiarities of the place are chiefly, its amazing swarms of sacred monkeys, and the no less amazing crowd of filthy and profligate devotees, who crowd round every stranger, not so much asking, as demanding alms. Through all this country, indeed, notwithstanding its vicinity to the capital of Islam in the East, Hindooism seems to predominate in a degree which I did not expect to find. Few or none of the people have Mussulman names; there are abundant pagodas and scarcely one mosque, and I have seldom seen any peasantry with so many Brahminical or Rajpoot strings among them. The villages and jungles near them are all full of peacocks, another symptom of Hindooism, since the Mussulmans would soon make havoc among these beautiful but well-tasted birds. Most of the names which I have heard are followed by the affix of “ Singh,” a lion: this ought to belong to the Rajpoots alone, but at present all the Jats claim it, as well as the Seiks who, as having relinquished Hindooism, have no apparent right to any
distinction of the kind. Í know not whether this
may garded as additional grounds for the suspicion which I have some time entertained, that the distinction of caste weighs less on men's minds than it used to do.
But though I was easily reconciled to the omission of Bindrabund, all my party were not so, and five sepoys applied for leave to go there, promising to rejoin me at Muttra, a VOL. I.
permission which I readily gave them. This, however, was followed by a similar request from more than half my little army, with the venerable soubahdar at their head, besides the goomashta of the camels, and my sirdar-bearer. This was inconvenient, but it was not easily avoided. Some of them were Brahmins, some Rajpoots, some had vows on them, and all were so deeply impressed with the sanctity of Bindrabund, that they were extremely anxious not to pass it by. I gave, therefore, my acquiescence with a good grace, reminding them only that they must rejoin me on Sunday evening, as I meant to make no halt in Muttra.
January 9, Sunday.-- From Jeyt to Muttra is about four coss, the country still wide, but apparently more fertile than most of what we had lately seen. Half-way are the ruins of a very large and handsome serai.
At this place I was met by Colonel Penny, the Commandant of Muttra, with several other officers, who rode with us through the town. Muttra is a large and remarkable city, much reverenced by the Hindoos for its antiquity and connexion with many of their legends, more particularly as the birth-place of their fabulous Krishna, or Apollo. In consequence it swarms with paroquets, peacocks, brahminy balls, and monkeys, which last are seen sitting on the tops of the houses, and running along the walls and roofs like cats. They are very troublesome, and admitted to be so by the Hindoos themselves, but so much respected that, a few years since, two young officers who shot at one near Bindrabund, were driven into the Jumna, where they perished, by a mob of Brahmins and devotees. In other respects, also, Muttra is a striking town, and a good deal reminded me of Benares, the houses being very high with the same sort of ornaments as in that city. There is a large ruinous castle on the shore of the Jumna, and a magnificent though dilapidated mosque, with four very tall minarets. In the centre, or nearly so, of the town, Colonel Penny took us into the court of a beautiful temple, or dwelling-house, for it seemed to be designed for both in one, lately built, and not yet quite finished, by Gokul Pattu Singh, Sindia's treasurer, and who has also a principal share in a great native banking-house, one branch of which is fixed at Muttra. The building is enclosed by a small but richlycarved gateway, with a flight of steps which leads from the street to a square court, cloistered round, and containing in the centre a building also square, supported by a triple row of pillars, all which, as well as the ceiling, are richly carved, painted, and gilt. The effect, internally, is much like that of the Egyptian tomb, of which the model was exhibited in London by Belzoni; externally, the carving is very beauti