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The Merchant Abroad in Europe, Asia and Australia. A series of
Letters from Java, Singapore, China, Bengal, Egypt, the
With an introduction by Freeman Hunt, A. M.,
It is only in virtue of the word Bengal in the above title, that it falls within our province to notice Mr. Train's book. It is a fair specimen of the class of literature to which it belongs, containing 512 closely printed pages, written and printed in hot haste, disfigured by probably 1,024 typographical, and 1,536 material, mistakes, but containing also a good deal of information, which would be valuable if only it could be depended on.
Mr. Train arrived in Calcutta on the 1st of March, 1856, and left it on the 9th. It seems to have been felt want” that induced him to give to the public his letters from Bengal. The following estimate of the literary labors of his predecessors in this field is characteristic :
“ A year of constant reading would hardly finish the works on India, for the volumes would crowd a library--memoirs, journals, sketches of the multitude of civil servants of the Honorable Company--histories and reports of Governor Generals from Lord Clive to Lord Canning-annals, records and accounts of the Board of Directors—biographies, historical reminiscences, despatches, and pretty volumes of clever military officers, who, during years of service, had little to do but write, draw bills, smoke, play cards and shoot tigers from off an elephant's back ; and others, who were in action, fought, gave their own account of the battle, and won medals and eulogies for their bravery,
“The printing press has been always active in introducing distinguished civil and military officers to the literary public, and books on our Eastern Empire” are to be found everywhere but where you most want them, Some of the writers have become rich, others poor, and some won a name ; others sunk into obscurity with the first edition ; but most of them lost their hair, their lungs, and, in one or two solitary instances, their conscience, in the honorable service of the Honorable Company. Tourists, too, poetical and prosaic-some falling into hysterical composition when standing on the summits of high mountains, or resting in their palanquins on the banks of grand rivers, watching the innocent gambols of Hindoo maidens, whose ablutions attracted them, while other writers tell of brave hunts, where they have luxuriated in the exciting embraces of a wounded female tiger ; and missionaries who have grown inspired in describing the horrors of the opium trade-the thrilling scenes of the jungle, the revolting customs of heathen worship, and the prayers* which they have made in the evangelization of the native races, prayers* somewhat doubted by many of the company's servants, who, living in the same localities, have seen few instances of a fruit the seed of which was planted long ago, but somehow or other refuses to ripen under an Indian sun, missionaries whose life of exile commands admiration, and far be it from me to speak liglıtly of their labors, for their motives are the best, although success seldom crowus their life of toil and absence. Others have written, and many who never saw the Indian shore have written, and many of their works show astonishing research and careful compilation. Moore's knowledge of the Orient is sprinkled along the great three thousand guiuea poem like pearls in a diamond necklace, and yet he never saw the country. Lalla
* Query“ progress," – ED. C. R. SEPT., 1857.
Rookh is full of Eastern painting. Burke, and Fox and Sheridan enchanted Parliament with their startling pictures of Indian life, when the American nation was in its cradle, and yet they were not in India.
From such a mass of composition one is fairly disheartened in reading upon such a country. No digest like Goldsmith's History of England has yet been thrown together. Yes—I am wrong—MacFarlane, who wrote on Japan, has published a valuable summary, which gives one taste for more. Yet his travels never extended to the East. Bishop Heber's " Indian Journal," Wellington's Despatches,” P. Auber's “Rise and Progress of British Power in India." James' “ Military Transactions of the British Nation in Hindostan”- a work of more than ordinary merit ; Mills' “ History of British India,” which I think, passed under Macaulay's favorable criticism in the Edinburgh Review ; Scott's “ History of Bengal,” Gleig's “ Warren Hastings,” are among some of the more prominent writings ; but only in proportion as the letter A is to the alphabet. In volume four, the last of the brilliant series that has been issued from the press from the pen of England's great historian-you will find an occasional page of England's progress in the East, and as you read the eloquent description of the birth and infancy of the empire you long for another chapter, and wait with impatient anticipation to see something of its youth and manhood.”
We presume it was with a view to the supply of this want, to furnish * a digest, like Goldsmith's History of England,” that Mr. Train undertook the composition of " a retrospective view of India," which he thus concludes:
“I have now ran over the history of India since commerce opened the country from Capt. Lawrence to Josiah Child; from Child to Clive, and from Clive to Hastings and Mornington, past Dalhousie to Canning, who is next in turn—'tis a strange and interesting history, the formation of the East India Company. Merchants wish to trade, and call in political power to assist them; then jealousy arises, ambition, conquest and a standing army, now numbering 300,000 men in round numbers, 30,000 of which are Queen's troopsmall paid by the Company. For two centuries the natives have been brought in contact with the Christian race-and what is there to show for it? Ancient and modern writers assure us that the products of the soil, the peculiar mode of irrigation, the strange fancy for copper utensils, the simple cotton cloth about the loins, the brilliancy of their colors and dyes, their extravagant love of jewelry-wearing them in ears, nose, on their toes, their ancles, their fingers, their necks, and their arms, the custom of eating alone, the religious seclusion of their women, the cutting off of goats' heads for the sacrifice, the training of elephants, and the extraordinary divisions of caste remaining unchanged; habits and customs of a thousand years ago are the habits and customs now. The Hindoo talent, then, of quick observation, perseverance, dexterity, tact, against the vices of greediness, servility and treachery, have gone through trifling changes for centuries. The European vices have been carefully studied ; but the European's virtues don't flourish in the Hindoo's mind. Of course, there are some exceptions; but I have yet to learn that the merchant, the missionary or the soldier have been able to break up prejudices which have for so long been handed down from generation to generation."
This “ digest written on board the steamer Nubia, while she was bearing our author away from us. We must therefore go back, and see the impression made on our visitor by the city of palaces and its inhabitants. Mr. Train's first visit was to the mint, which he admits to be " a remarkable picture, and where he informs us, with apparent seriousness, that the 6 intense heat of the furnaces turns the black men white !" From the mint he went to the Asiatic Society's museum, where he found the model of the Taj Mehal “ most attractive.” Then there was a flower-show,
most refreshing.” But“ the public buildings did not especially offer attraction.
< The Mission rooms, Metcalf Hall, the Hindoo College, where
English is so quickly learned by the apt natives; the $ 150,000
English cathedral, were among the most prominent, after the . Government House." Where the mission rooms are, we have not ascertained. Perhaps the Town Hall may be meant. We have heard of a “penny-pie,” and a “ two-penny-halfpenny piece of work ;'' but a $ 150,000 cathedral is original, and highly characteristic; as is also the designation of Lalla Rookh as "the great three-thousandguinea poem.
But the great event of Mr. Train's sojourn liere was a ball and supper at Government House, “to meet Lady Canning." His remarks on his hosts and his fellow-guests do not quite square with our notions of the obligations implied by the acceptance of hospitality ; but we shall not repeat them. The following piece of genealogical lore however, we shall submit to the criticism of those of our readers who are versed in these matters :
“I find peculiar interest in watching the motions of the State prisoners, and distinguished natives, who, dressed in the picturesque costume of their country, had been invited to partake in the festivities of those who had brought them to their present humiliating position. Kings, Pririces and Rajahs, or their descendants, were there bowing and cringing under the iron rule of military power. There was the grandson of the great warrior chief who so long kept the English at bay in his almost impenetrable fastnesses that nature Lad made for him, and also in that stronghold of which European architects must have drawn the plau-Seringapatam-Tippoo Sultan, the son of the great Hyder Ali, Ghoolam Mahomet, and his son Feeroz Shah, were the descendants of those great men who, three generations ago, were the terror of the Deccan ; and had his great ancestor lived to hold his power, Ghoolam would have been the most powerful and the wealthiest of all the Indian princes. These two have just returned from England, where they were courted and féted by crowned heads and noble peers, the most distinguished lions of the day—but at Government House they pass unnoticed, and are taught to remember that they are beggars only, dependent upon an English pension."
We should like very much if any one would tell us who was whose son, and who was whose grandfather.
grandfather. So far as we can make out, Tippoo Sultan was the son of Hyder Ali, Ghoolam Mahomet and Feeroz Shah; while Feeroz Shah is the son of Ghoolam Mahomet and Tippoo Sultan, Hyder Ali, Ghoolam and Feeroz, are the descen: dants in the third generation, that is the great grandsons of Hyder Ali and Tippoo Sultan.
As Paris is France, so " the Course " is Calcutta. And we cannot refuse our readers the treat of Mr. Train's description of it:
“I am no enthusiast, vor can I paint, ray youth has been buried among the diy leaves of commerce-the cobweb realities of the counting house —the invoice, the ledger, and the ship—and now, on the restless drifting of neverceasing change, I am purchasing dearly enough by absence from my family, my first draught of Oriental customs and Indian habits. The evening drive, however, as delightful as it is strange, would make me forget my commission account, were not the familiar names of clipper ships always before me as they range along the anchorage. All there is of European and Western life in Calcutta is reflected every evening on the course ; and as I lay off so lazily in my barouche, I can but contemplate the scene so singularly beautiful. Ik. Marvel should
have driven on the Course after he had been brooding over his sea coal fire. There was the holy river coursing far up above the city, far away beyond the suburbs,-past the hunting fields of the fierce Mahrattas-winding its many coils through the palace gardens on its sacred banks, past the umbrageous banyan, the palm, the sycamore and cocoa trees, past heathen temples, rusting under the corroding influence of climate and of tine ; and as it loses itself in the distance far beyond Barrackpore, and your imagination traces it beyond your visional reach, torturing its bends through the vast possessions of the honorable company and the paddy fields that give so many millions nourishment-past the wheat and the corn and the indigo plantations- near where the poppy blossoms bloom under government stimulants, to raise a few more lacs to pay the army, no mat. ter how great the misery that every chest of opium may occasion in the sea port families of the Celestial Empire-past the Zemindars, whose tyrant power grinds the life blood out of the poor ryot at the rate of twelve dollars per annum, without rations, or house, or home (the lion's share of which finds its way into the Bengal treasury) – worse in some instances than the Legrees of " Uncle Tom's Cabin,” that raised such a storm of virtuous indignation and false philanthropy at the Sutherland House-past the Saracenic ruins of Hindoo temples, endearing because so gray with age, by the Sepoy camp, where English officers are the lords of native regiments-till it finally loses itself among the valleys that base the mountain ranges, and in company with some of its branches waters the roots of the toweriug Himalayas-lost as you may be in reverie, your fancy is now arrested by the soul stirring music of the regimental bands (made perfectly harmonious by constant years of practice) in the garden enclosure, where nurses and children most do congregate, and where, in the little arbor, you may find an American apple or an American ice--fellow countrymen one is so glad to meet with."
Mr. Train does himself injustice. He can paint-after the fashion of the sign-painter, whose rule is to “lay it on thick.” At all events if these are not specimens of painting, we despair of being able to find out what they are specimens of. Certainly not of intelligible English writing. And now we must stop. An article in our present issue is proof sufficient, if any proof were necessary, of our perfect willingness to do justice to the intelligence and taste of American travellers, when they do justice to themselves and their country. But when a traveller, misled by the possession of a certain kind of cleverness, mistakes impertinence for smartness, conceit for knowledge, violation of the duties imposed by hospitality for legitimate descriptions of men and manners, -and himself for a gentleman, our calling requires of us to attempt, after our poor measure, to do justice to him too.
Episodes in the Tar-life of a Soldier : with the Dream-testimony of
Ora May, and other sketches in prose and verse.
CALDER CAMPBELL, formerly an officer in the Madras army, has been before the public as an author of books for a full quarter of a century; and as a contributor of prose and verse to various periodicals, for a still longer period. The dedication, prefixed to the volume now before us, bears date the 15th December, 1856 ; and since then we
have seen it announced that the earthly career of its author is closed. This fact would have induced us to censure gently, had censure been l'equired. But it is not required. The volume before us makes little pretension, and fulfils all that it professes. It is a collection of slight sketches, in prose and verse, some of which have appeared before in several periodicals, and others are now published for the first time. It was a sage remark of a sage critic that love in the drama bears a disproportionate part, as compared with the part that it occupies in actual life. In liké manner, we may remark that serpents are somewhat out of due proportion in our author's narratives. They crawl, and coil themselves, and dart and hiss in almost every page. We should like to extract one of our author's episodes ; but they are all too long, and it would not be doing justice to extract a fragment. We shall therefore content ourselves with a specimen of his poetical powers :
HOW A TRUE POET IS MADE.
“ The Bird, when ripe, will soar and sing,
The Bard, when Grief matures his mind
Thoughts, fit to teach bis Adam-kind;
To strains the willing crowd shall learn.
But not till then-Oh ! not till Care
Hath stared him sternly in the face,-
That scorches with a fierce embrace,-
The song by which his fame shall live !
Are said in Eastern tales to do ;
Our spirits must be bound, ere true
A Rose's grace can sing, or see !
Then haste not Thou, who, in thy soul
Ambitious art of poet's meed,
To gauge the depths of human Need;
Learn all too soon how Crowns are worn!
With heavy brows and aching hearts
Our Anadems we wear. – for they
A spiritual suffering, night and day;
Sorrows they have no skill to heal !
Yet Grief, yet Pain, may visit all,
Though few possess the Poet's power
That sooth man's dark and moody hour :-
One Song to cheer his onward path !