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THE RESIDENCY AT LUCKNOW.
LUCKNOW might well be named the City of Palaces. Long the residence of the kings of Oude, it has been dowered with many imposing buildings where formerly royal state was kept, and where now British officials carry on their work, or the infrequent footfall echoes through tenantless rooms. It would seem that whenever time hung heavy on his hands the King of Oude built a new palace. They are not excellent in any way, and a glance at the outside as the traveller passes is sufficient to meet the requirements of the occasion.
Prominent among a score of these royal buildings is the Hoseinabad Imambara, with which the third King of Oude endowed the city. Like many of the ancient buildings in India, it is a mausoleum, inclosing the tombs of the king and his mother. It is a poor, gaudy place, with a confusion of glass chandeliers, coloured glass globes, looking-glasses, and other devices calculated to please the minds of children. The prophetic eye of the king foreseeing a time when, in default of special arrangements, his tomb would be neglected, and his globes and his chandeliers left unpolished, he bequeathed a sum of money sufficient to keep up an establishment of servants, who lounge about the place and pounce upon visitors with demands for backsheesh. Once a year, on the anniversary of the lamented death of this monarch, there is a great flare-up of candles within the mausoleum and of lamps in the courtyard and garden. This is a highly popular festival and serves to keep green the memory of Mohammed Ali Shah.
Broad roads flank the quarter of palaces, and, not examined too closely, the big whitefronted houses look well seen through the vista of green trees. The native town is much like that of any other Indian city where over two hundred thousand natives congregate. There are · narrow streets and interminable bazaars populated chiefly by sellers. Here, as elsewhere, it is a marvel how these shops can be kept open. Everybody is busy manufacturing articles for sale or calmly
smoking awaiting the arrival of a customer. But the customer comes only at rare intervals, and though he makes a terrible noise when he arrives, that will not strike the balance of the long blank in the day's business. In these Indian bazaars business is conducted on a literal adaptation of the principle “much cry and little wool”—or little cotton goods, muslin, brass-work, inlaid metal, gold, embroidery, or pottery, as the case may be.
For Englishmen the real interest of Lucknow lingers round the looped and windowless raggedness of the Residency, held by a handful of gallant men during the mutiny. The Residency is approached through a broad Portland Place-like thoroughfare in the Quarter of Palaces. Eighty-three years ago it was resigned by the reigning Nawab for the use of the British Resident at his court. The Baillie Guard Gate, the outpost of the gallant defenders of the Residency, is now a few ruined walls eloquently pitted with bullet-marks. Where in 1857 the native city stood, creeping close up to the walls of the Residency compound, a fair park now smiles.
It has been the policy of the British, alike at Delhi, Cawnpore, and Lucknow, while preserving the memorials of the defence of the beleaguered loyal troops, to level with the ground the congeries of houses from which the mutineers poured their shot and shell. Close by the Baillie Guard Gateso called from Colonel Baillie, the officer who commanded the first Resident's escort -- is Dr. Frayrer's house. Hither Sir Henry Lawrence was carried on receiving his fatal wound, and here he died. A roofless chamber in this battered house bears the inscription : “ Here Sir Henry Lawrence died, July 4, 1857.”
There is an underground room where a number of ladies and children passed through the dreadful days of the siege, with shot and shell whistling overhead and the slow progress of the day marked by the deadly cannonade. Every morning at daybreak it began, continued till the heat of noon came on, then fell away, to begin again in the afternoon and continue as long as light làsted. When relief came, and the garrison with its womenkind had been quietly withdrawn in the dead of the night, the mutineers, breaking in, and mad with rage to find their prey had escaped, vented their fury on the dumb sticks and stones of the house, smashing everything that was breakable even to the stone staircases.
The Residency must in its time have been a pleasant house, standing on one of the highest spots of ground in the city, with a fine view of the country beyond. Entrance is obtained by one of those broad, lofty porticoes that are a feature in all Indian houses of the better class. At some distance in front, just behind the Baillie Guard Gate, is the banqueting hall, where gloomy state dinners and gayer balls were given before the trouble came. This building admirably served as a hospital during the siege. Like all other outbuildings, the banqueting hall is battered with cannon-shot and perforated with bullets. As for the Residency itself, it is simply a heap of ruins. On a mound close by is a prim Maltese cross reared “in memory of Sir Henry Lawrence and the brave men who fell in defence of the Residency.” It is a poor, mean-looking thing to stand as the official memento of so glorious a deed. But Englishmen have always been more successful in doing great deeds than in commemorating them in marble or brass.