Page images
PDF
EPUB

the Jail industrial farms, by means of forced prison labor, and we shall soon find the free laborer imitating the processes, and reaping some of the advantages, of the penal establishments.

The task which private enterprise fails to take in hand, by reason of a defective state of society, or from some other cause, may well be undertaken by the State. Our opinion of Jail labor has ever been that it should, so far as practicable, be made the pioneer of progress. Those who have outraged society by crimes or offences, are surely called upon to render reparation by some bold and forward work on behalf of that same society. The early convicts of Great Britain planted new colonies in the islands of the south : they pioneered the way for armies of free settlers, and laid the foundation for great and happy states. In doing that they rendered back the price of their great offences. We would say in this present time, do yet the same. Let the imperial convicts go forth to other lands, and repeat the self-same process.

Here in India, let it be done in smaller things. Instead of founding empires, let our felon population lay the foundation of a better system of industry. It needs but the order to go forth to have it done. In the present Inspector of Jails, we have a man in every way fitted for the task, one who adds the will to the power of doing good service. Let it be set about in no niggard spirit, but with large and practical views. Let an ample support be given to the toiler, with full and effective assistance.

We are far from expecting complete success to attend at once upon such an experiment. Many difficulties will be found in the way: many disappointments will be met with. It is simply a question of patience and time. Dr. Mouat has before him a great and noble task, and he will do well to let no ordinary discouragements turn him aside. We can conceive no loftier work in this world of ours, than that of “turning the hearts

of the disobedient,” of reclaiming to society its lost children. “ An honest man is the noblest work of God," and surely he who becomes the human instrument of recovering honest men from amongst the lost ones, can desire no better task. There have been noble spirits engaged in this work before. It is something to toil in the same field as Howard and Fry! It is something to feel that whilst others are engaged in struggles with the material things of the world, the toiler in Jails is overcoming the hearts and minds of men.

This work of mercy is one of England's noblest tasks : its fruits will live for ever. When the classic New Zealander takes his stand on Westminster Bridge, and looks down on the hoary ruins of her capital, he shall think of her great mission with warm affection. The Hindus of those unborn days, in

SEPT., 1857.

B

speaking of her eastern rule, shall dwell but lightly on some things, but name her works of charity and mercy with child-like reverence. They shall say the Saxon race which come from o'er the seas a thousand years ago, ruled our forefathers with an iron rule, yet tempered might with mercy. The memory of their victories has passed away: not so the good they did. Our children in their earliest books are taught to know the men who, armed with the strength of giants, used it like angels.

[ocr errors]

ART. III.--A visit to India, China and Japan, in the year 1853.

By BAYARD TAYLOR. Putnam and Co., New York.

W

E owe an apology to the accomplished author of this work,

for having so long neglected to notice it. We have repeatedly intended to call the attention of our readers to it, but have been unable till now. The work is one which deserves a kindly reception from English residents in India, and which will afford many an hour of pleasant and instructive reading. It is written in a very lively tone, contains vivid descriptions of scenes through which the writer passed, and exhibits that peculiar phase of Indian life and Indian celebrities, in which all persons of educated taste must feel an interest.

The author, Mr. Bayard Taylor, has been employed for many years as one of the correspondents of the New York Tribune. His pleasant and lively sketches of all sorts of scenes, places, and events within the United States and Mexico, have done much to increase the popularity, and extend the circulation, of that influential journal. Of the same school with Douglas Jerrold and Albert Smith, his warm imagination enlivens every subject that his pen describes, and sets off even the dull details of the routine of political life. Mr. Taylor is one of the most extensive travellers of modern times, and his pen has been specially employed in describing the countries he has visited. Having exhausted Mexico and the States, he set out in August, 1851, for an extended tour in the old world. He visited the greater part of Europe, passed through Constantinople, Asia Minor and Palestine ; ascended the Nile to Abyssinia, and then examined the remains of Moorish supremacy in Spain. Thence he turned his face to the distant east; embarking from Gibraltar, he travelled the overland route to Aden and Bombay ; crossed the country by Indore to Agra, ascended the Himalaya to Landour, and visited Lucknow, Allahabad and Benares. Embarking once more at Calcutta, he went by steamer to Hong-Kong and Shanghai, joined the American expedition to Japan and Loochoo; and having paid a passing visit to the grave of Napoleon on his return home, finally landed on the Eastern Quays of New York, after an absence of two years and four months. Few men have traversed so many of the most interesting countries of the world; fewer still have visited them in so short a time; and few have been so ready to describe intelligently the scenes which so rapidly passed before their eyes.

In visiting India, he came merely as an intelligent traveller, to see the great objects for which the country has been celebrated. He came not to study our military supremacy and the

character of our civil rule; or to shew how a handful of Europeans have hitherto held sway over so many millions of orientals. He did not come as a philosopher, to enquire into the ancient systems of knowledge; or as a linguist, to examine the languages and history of Hindostan; nor did he purpose as a Christian to trace out the fruits of idolatry and superstition, and contrive plans for the successful introduction of a revealed faith. He came simply as a scholar, who had read of the magnificence of India, to behold its glorious mountains, its boundless plains, its tropical vegetation, its fertile abundance of flowers, fruits and food for man. He came to see some of its strange races, to traverse scenes rendered famous by noble deeds, and to examine for himself some of those wondrous buildings which have come down to us as the relics of by-gone ages.

Having had such an end in view, and being distinguished by the lively fancy with which his sketches are adorned, and the freedom and fluency with which he throws them off, it will at once be surmised that our author has produced a work possessing no great depth. Throughout his pages, we are told wbat the eye saw, what the ear heard, what the heart felt. We are not bored by heavy scholarship, nor improved by profound reflections, nor enlightened by compilations from others' books, nor led astray by a pretence of deep acquaintance with ancient history or modern researches. The work therefore belongs to that popular class of travels which deal with the heart more than with the head, and which, when directed to the lands more interesting to Christian people than all others, caused all eyes to turn towards Eliot Warburton, and which, exhibited still more distinctly by Mr. Kinglake, have made the name of Eothen immortal.

The peculiar phase of Indian scenery and Indian life, which Mr. Taylor describes, is well worth looking at. In India all intelligent men work hard ; harder we believe than men in similar situations do in England. Overcome by heat and weariness, residents here are little given to sight-seeing. Men are anxious to make money, and be off to enjoy it in a more grateful clime, almost declining altogether the recreations and rational pleasures which they might find even in this land of exile. There are hundreds of residents in India, who do not in the least appreciate the country where their lot is cast. Hundreds of persons come and reside for years in our presidency towns, absorbed in business of varied kinds, and having secured the end for which they came, turn their faces homeward, without an effort to make a journey into the interior, to see some of the numerous wonders with which the land is filled. Unhappily we have very few, if any, books that can be regarded as complete guides to these wonders.

Heber's travels, one of the best in former times, is now much out of date. The routes he describes are unfrequented, and his modes of travelling have become obsolete. A work therefore like that of our author, which describes in a lively and most readable manner, the objects which an experienced traveller thought most worthy of observation only three or four years ago, cannot be without interest to those who wish to take advantage of a brief holiday, and to see, with their own eyes, on a large scale, the India of the present day.

The more thoroughly this country is examined, and compared with other lands peopled by orientals, the more clearly will it be seen, what a splendid heritage has been bestowed by its conquest on the English Crown, and what a glorious work has to be performed in elevating it to its proper place among the nations. Not only has it excellencies peculiar to itself, but in all that it shares in common with other eastern lands, few can surpass the position which it takes up.

We need not refer here to its many races, especially the warlike tribes of Upper India; nor to its many valuable products, especially its finest fabrics, in jewellery, shawls, and silk, that rival even western skill. Even in the features of its landscapes, the structure of its cities, and in its monuments of ancient grandeur, it falls not a whit behind the position occupied by other portions of the eastern world. Its boundless plains, laden with crops of rice, and wheat, and mustard, are far more extensive, and not less fertile, than those of Rumelia and Egypt. The icy capes and mountains of Siberia cannot be compared with the higher range of the Himalaya, whose proud monarchs rear their heads to the blue heaven in silent grandeur, crowned with eternal snow. The wide-spread valleys of Cashmere and the Dhoon are not less lovely than that of Samarkand, or even than the far-famed vale of Tempe itself. Benares, Delhi and Lucknow will well compare with Cairo or Constantinople. The strange arches of Orissa, and the towers of the temples at Puri and Konarák, find no parallel, but in the Cyclopean walls of the Peloponnesus, and in the Treasury of Mycenae. The Alhambra is proud among palaces; but our author declares it to be far surpassed by the palaces of Akbar and Shah Jehan. The tombs of the Mamelukes are numbered among the celebrities of Cairo; but they are more than equalled by those of kings, priests and nobles, scattered widely round the cities of Agra and Delhi. The Church of St. Sophia and the mosque of Suleiman are the pride of Constantinople; but amongst all Mahommedan buildings, whether mosques or mausoleums, nothing can come up to the exquisite beauty and wondrous grandeur of the Taj Mahál. These things appear plain to travellers, who, from personal experience, are able to compare the scenery and the

« PreviousContinue »