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INDIA: ITS NEIGHBOURS; NEPAUL.
occupy our pages with the consideration of questions so debatable and so debated, and around which parties and partisans are ever surging in the weary war of words. A more interesting topic would be the social life—not of the natives of India, for this we have briefly considered elsewhere—but of the European Colonies, or rather encampments, in that country. This would, however, occupy more space than we can bestow,* while the railways, telegraphs, canals, tanks, and other institutions of the country must rest with the brief notice they have already casually received in our rapid passage over the Empire. We now visit the border lands of India, and from them travel across Asia through the countries which have not been already noticed on our journey eastward.
INDIA: ITS NEIGHBOURS.
On the outskirts of India lie a number of States which have not yet fallen actually under the control of Calcutta, though, as we shall see, year by year the power of their rulers is decaying, and in time, even without any desire on our part, the sub-Himalayan and neighbouring States will either become part and parcel of the great Empire in their immediate vicinity, or slide into a condition very similar to that of Cashmere and Hyderabad. Meantime, however, they are independent, and it is evident that so long as they continue unaggressive it is for our interest that they should continue “sovereign powers.” A nest of hornets may be unpleasant, even when the hum of the insects is only heard at a distance, and without it presaging any immediate annoyance; a prudent man would, however, prefer not to transfer the colony into his back garden.
For 500 miles along the base of the Himalayas overlooking Rohilcund, Oudh, and Northern Bengal, lies the kingdom of Nepaul, or Nepal, peopled mainly by a race of Tibetan origin, though mixed with them are Chinese, Hindoo, and other elements. The scenery of the country is fine-fertile valleys with snowy mountains, “an Indian Switzerland without its lakes.” In the valleys most of the inhabitants dwell, and by the banks of the Gozra, Gundak, and Kosi, which are tributaries of the Ganges, are fairly cultivated tracts of land. Katamandoo, the capital, is situated on the banks of a small stream; its population has been estimated to number 50,000, but as the
Murray's “ Handbooks" of Bombay and Madras; “Life in the Mofussil,” by an ex-Bengal Civilian ; "Sleepy Sketches from Bombay”; “Rural Life in Bengal"; Sterndale: “Camp Life on the Saptura Rango"; Malleson : “Recreations of an Indian Official”; Inglis (“ Maori "): “Sport and Work on the Nepaul Frontier"; “The Travels of Sir Ali Babi, K.C.B.” (Aberigh-Mackay); MacLeod's “ Peep at India"; “ The Anglo-Indian Tongue” (Blackwood's Magazine, May, 1877); Papers by Dr. Hunter in Fraser's Magazine, December, 1879, &c. &c., in addition to the profuse crop of Anglo-Indian novels for local colouring.
only Englishman allowed to enter the country is the British Resident at the Rajah's Court the population of the capital and country can only be guessed at. The Nepaulese have a prejudice against us, and not unreasonably. Early in this century an English resident lived in Katmandoo, but the encroachment of the mountaineers on British territory resulted in a war which compelled the Ghoorka Government to cede part of their territory and in other ways acknowledge the English their superiors. For many years Sir Jung Bahadur, who was nominally Prime Minister, in reality ruled the country. This fierce adventurer had the good sense to know that the British were the most powerful race in India, and whatever might have been his
private opinion he took good care to act on his public one. Hence, when the Mutiny broke out he sided with us, and ever after was rewarded with broad ribbons and other dignities, including the proprietorship of certain forest lands on the borders of Oudh. He is said to have been succeeded by his son ; but if the report that the Rajah has of late shown an inclination to recognise the Emperor of China as his suzerain be true,* the father's wisdom bas not descended with his office to his son. Nepaul is not naturally a rich country, though nearly as large as England, and the isolated character of its valleys bas made the tribes living in them almost independent of each other. It has, however, the most varied of climates, and is capable of producing the most varied of crops. Timber, rice, ginger, and honey, along with hides,
copper, iron, and brass utensils, form the chief materials of trade; but Nepaul is as yet a practically unopened country, our information in regard to it being fragmentary and often very imperfect.
SIR JUNG BAHADUR.
SIKHIM AND BHUTAN.
Sikhim is a little State which divides Nepaul from Bhutan. Its chief has close relations with the English Government, since his territory in the Tista Valley is under a British guarantee, and his district of Darjeeling is British-governed in return for an annuity of a few hundred pounds.I Bhutan, east of Sikhim, and north of the Valley of Assam, is a little-known region, its people, like those of the two States already named, being Buddhists, ruled by a Deb Rajah, or temporal sovereign, and a Dharm Rajah, or spiritual ruler, and the country is overrun by idle priests, who plunder the wretched cultivators of the little which they raise. The physical features of the region are,
* In the middle of last century the invasion of Tibet by the Ghoorkas brought on them the vengeance of China, and, it is said, forced the Rajah to recognise the supremacy of Pekin, a recognition still kept up by an Embassy sent every five years to the Emperor's Court.
+ Hodyson : “Trade of Nepaul” (Records of Bengal, No. XXVII.), &c.
Hooker : “Himalayan Journals” (1853).
INDIA: ITS NEIGHBOURS; NEPAUL.
however, magnificent. Its rugged mountains in lofty and picturesque grandeur are unequalled. The traveller, in almost any part of the country, is ever faced with immense precipices, hills clothed to their very summits with trees, dark deep glens,
and the high tops of mountains lost in the clouds. Such a country, as might be expected, is traversed by many rivers and cataracts, which, forcing their way through the passes in the mountains, eventually form themselves into the Brahmapootra. Captain Turner mentions one torrent which falls over so great a height that it is nearly
dissipated in mid-air, and looks like a jet of steam from boiling water. Materially, the Bhutias are also a fine people, though dirty in their habits and persons. Their food consists of meat, chiefly pork, rice, turnips, barley meal, and tea, with chong distilled from barley and mullet, and marwa, a beer made from fermented mullet. But though the agriculturists are industrious, the unsettled state of their country and the insecurity of property paralyse their efforts. In 1864 the population was reckoned at only 20,000, or about one to each square mile. Allowing, however, that this estimate is under the truth, as we believe it is, it is evident that the country is scarcely peopled, and it is equally certain that the inhabitants are poor and oppressed. What the British Envoy wrote in 1864 applies with equal truth in the present day: "Nothing,” he declared, " that a Bhutia possesses is his own; he is at all times liable to lose it if it attracts the cupidity of any one more powerful than himself. The lower classes, whether villagers or public servants, are little better than the slaves of higher oflicials. In regard to them no rights of property are recognised, and they bave at once to surrender anything that is demanded of them. There never was, I fancy, a country in which the doctrine of "might is right' formed more completely the whole and sole law and custom of the land than it does in Bhutan. No official receives a salary ; he has certain districts made over to him, and he may get what he can out of them; a certain portion of his gains he is compelled to send to the Darbar, and the more he extorts and the more he sends to his superior the longer his tenure of office is likely to be.” Captain Pemberton declares that in all his experience of the Indian frontier he never met with
so degraded as the Bhutias, the degradation being the result, he considers, of a system which eliminates from the man all that is human, and leaves behind only what he shares in. common with the beast. The land is in many places fertile and capable of yielding varied crops. But as the taxes increase in proportion to the amount of soil cultivated, tho Bhutia endeavours not to increase the extent of his terrace farm in the hill-side, but to make it yield twice as much as the officials estimate it capable of yielding, and of course of being taxed for. The forests supply, among other trees, beech, ash, yew, birch, maple, and cypress, while at different elevations on the mountains are found firs, pines, oaks, and rhododendrons. The cinnamon tree also grows wild, but it is not applied to any economic purpose. Tigers, leopards, with deer, elephants in great numbers, rhinoceroses, bears, pheasants, jungle fowls, and other game animals are found, and Bhutan has the distinction of nurturing a kind of horse peculiar to it. This is the Tangan, socalled from being a native of Tangastan, the Indian name for the collection of mountain States which we have been describing. The manufactures of the country are poor, and nearly all intended for home consumption, little trade being carried on between Bhutan and neighbouring countries. The climate is very varied and trying. Owing to the irregular surface of the country different parts experience widely dissimilar temperatures at the same moment. Punakba is the winter residence of the Rajahs, and though at that season the inhabitants are often afraid of exposing themselves to the scorching suns, the people of Ghasa are being chilled by the rigour of perpetual frosts. Torrents of rain visit some parts, and terrible storms often devastate the country far and
Tasisudon is the capital, and here, though the rains are frequent, they are
INDIA: ITS NEIGHBOURS; BHUTAN; BALOOCHISTAN
moderate in comparison with those of other parts of the country, and at worst are considered mild by those familiar with the tropical deluges endured by the inhabitants of Lower Bengal. With the Bhutias we have comparatively little diplomatic intercourse. In early times they had to be frequently chastised for their raids into our territory, but up to the date of the conquest of Assam they gave little trouble.
In 1863, however, they made inroads into the Dewars, or tracts of low land lying at the foot of the mountain passes, plundering, murdering, and carrying into captivity many British subjects. Remonstrance proving of no avail, the envoy sent being even treated with gross insults, and compelled by threats of death to sign a treaty giving over much disputed territory, and making other concessions to Bhutan, a war ensued, which ended in the Bhutias surrendering much territory and liberating the kidnapped British subjects. Since that date the two Rajahs have behaved reasonably well, and as their revenue consisted for the most part in the taxes levied on the annexed territory, they receive an annual subsidy from the Indian Government, of which, to all intents and purposes, they are suzerains.
To the east of Bhutan, and in the highlands round the north-east frontier of Assam, are a number of wild, lawless tribes of whom we know very little, except that they have more than once proved troublesome to us. They are descendants of the Tartar conquerors of that part of India, and were never subjugated by the Great Mogul. Though many of them are in religion either Hindoos or Mohammedans, yet the majority are still Pagans, inhabiting rude huts erected on scaffolds, in the most inaccessible depths of the jungle which covers their native hills. These Abors, Dutlas, Mishmis, Singphos, Kamptis, and so forth (p. 226) are prone to raid across the border, but by the combined aid of a little money and a great deal of firmness they are kept in tolerable subjection, though every now and again, as the Indian newspapers inform the outside world, our troops have to teach them the sharp lesson which has been often learned by the other races of Hindostan.
The Baloochees and Afghans inhabit that portion of the great Persian Plateau wluch runs in the shape of mountains, with bare sterile deserts, and narrow valleys and gorges, west and south from the Hindoo Koosh Range. The country is poor and rugged, “ yielding," as the people declare themselves, “nothing but men and stones.” The latter are for the most part devoid of metals or other materials of value, while the former, as unhappily we know to our cost, are brave, in spite of their ignorance, suspicion, and fanatical hatred of Europeans, who in their eyes are endowed with the double objectionability of being at once foreigners and Christians. This region has, however, a political importance entirely out of proportion to its fertility and economic resources.
It is, with the exception of the railway to Candahar, and the paths constructed for the passage of our invading armies in Afghanistan, practically without roads worthy of the name, but its position between the two great Asiatic powers