Obrazy na stronie

The wives of soldiers in India are secured from all those laborious toils and continual hardships to which they must submit in countries where the pay of their husbands is inadequate to their support. If sober and industrious, they may easily accumulate a little hoard for the comfort of their declining years. Acquaintance with any useful art, dress-making, feathercleaning, lace-mending, washing silk stockings, or the like, may be converted into very lucrative employments, and the enormous wages demanded by European women, when they go into service as ladies'-maids, or wet nurses (from fifty to a hundred rupees per month), shews how indifferent they are to the means of acquiring money by personal exertion. Few officers' wives attached to King's corps can afford to have a white female attendant, and the unaccustomed luxuries which these women enjoy, when domesticated in wealthy families, unfortunately, in too many instances, are apt to render them so lazy, insolent, and overbearing, as to be perfectly intolerable; and consequently it is not often that they are to be found out of the barracks. Soldiers are not in England very scrupulous in the choice of their wives, and amid the numbers who come out to India, a very small

proportion remain uncorrupted by bad example and the deteriorating influence of campaigns and long voyages. It is not absolutely necessary that they should undertake any thing beyond the care of their own family, and many prefer idleness to the slightest exertion. They and their children have regufar rations served out for their daily food; while the regiment is upon a march, they are provided with suitable conveyances; during the hot winds, their quarters are supplied with tatties; and in passing along the lines punkahs may be seen swinging in the serjeants' barrack-rooms, and curious scenes are displayed to view through the open doors. Some fat and unshapeable lady, attired in a loose white gown, indulging in a siesta in an elbow-chair, with a native attendant, ragged and in wretched case, who, fan in hand, agitates the air around her.

To those Anglo-Indians who cherish vivid recollections of home, and who delight in all things which recall their native country to their mind, it is exceedingly gratifying to be stationed in the vicinity of a King's regiment or a European corps in the service of the Company. After a long absence from England, and long association with persons of education, the homely provincial accents of some untaught soldier come in music on the ear, bringing with them a rush of painfully-pleasing enotions, recalling past scenes and past days, “awakening thoughts which long have slept,” restoring youth, hope, health, and happiness, for a brief delightful period. Experience alone can tell how sad, and yet how dear, are the first meetings with country people of an inferior class in the jungles of India. A detachment of artillery, passing through a small out-post, whose European inhabitants did not exceed a dozen persons, occasioned a burst of anguish, which revealed to a pining exile the full extent of that home-sickness which had preyed in secret on her mind. Returning from an evening walk, a soldier's wife crossed the path, and at first, rejoicing to meet a countrywoman, the lady eagerly stepped forward and accosted her; but no sooner did the familiar sounds of by-gone days strike upon her heart, than she burst into a flood of tears. Aware that the


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person who had caused this violent emotion would be quite unconscious of the effect which her homely speech had produced, she stifled her feelings, and, inviting the poor woman to come to the bungalow, hastened onward to order out the contents of the larder to form a little feast for her comrades in the camp; but she dared not trust herself beyond a few simple questions, and, unwilling to make a display of sensibility which might be misconstrued, and could not be understood, she did not indulge in the pensive gratification which a protracted interview would have afforded. When accustomed to see and converse with the lower order of Europeans, the keenness of the emotions produced by the reminiscences which they call up subsides, and the feelings they create are wholly of a pleasurable nature. The evening drive is rendered doubly gratifying by the groups of healthy-looking tidily-dressed English children, at play in front of their quarters, or bending their way in the train of their parents along the road, upon a Sunday evening, to the church, whose tinkling bell charms the ear as in days of old, when the peal from a village spire filled the heart to overflowing with delightful sensations.

Though destitute of the rich red roses, which bloom so freshly on the cheeks of youthful cottagers in England, the sickliness and delicacy, so strikingly apparent in the petted and carefully-attended offspring of the higher order, are rarely the characteristic of soldiers' children, who seem to preserve their strength and vigour in a climate considered to be exceedingly detrimental to the juvenile classes of Europeans. The mortality amongst the infants of this grade is not so great as might be expected: where their mothers have been unable to suckle them, and where the expense of a native nurse could not be incurred, a goat has performed the maternal office with infinite success, the little creatures thriving under the nourishment afforded by this humble animal; nor is it so usual to droop and pine away at the period in which change of climate is so earnestly recommended to the children of the rich; numbers of fine young men and women grow up to maturity without having tasted a colder air than that which blows in Hindoostan.

The station-duties are performed at Ghazeepore by two or three companies of a native regiment, detached from Benares, sepoys standing sentinel at the hospital, store-houses, and at all places where the heat is considered to be injurious to European constitutions. There are a few staff-appointments held by officers of the Company's service, and the society receives a very agreeable addition from the families of several indigo-planters residing in the neighbourhood.

It is always a fortunate circumstance when the higher class of AngloIndian cultivators are settled in the vicinity of a European cantonment, since there are no set of persons who exercise more boundless hospitality, or from whom travellers receive more cordial kindness. Those with whom it would not be desirable to associate form a very small portion. The greater number of the country-born, or Eurasians, many of whom shew complexions still darker than that of the natives, are, generally speaking, intelligent well-informed men, ever ready to contribute to any proposed

amusement, and opening their doors' readily at all times for the reception of guests, while those Europeans who have embarked in indigo speculations are usually of a very high order of intellect.

Although no rank is recognized in India, excepting that which is held by the civil and military servants of the Company, much to the credit of the society, there are no invidious distinctions made between the persons who compose it. Individuals who are gifted with pleasing manners and accomplishments will always receive the respect and attention due to their merits; little or no regard is paid to colour or to circumstances, where there are personal claims to the notice of those more highly endowed with the gifts of birth and fortune. Fine houses, fine equipages, and fine entertainments, though they may render individuals popular who have little else to recommend them, are not, as in England, essentially requisite to obtain a passport into good society. It is sufficient that the party shall have the entré of government-house, the grand test of gentility in India; but even ineligibility in this particular does not, amid liberal-minded people, form an insurmountable barrier; many families, both in the Mofussil and in Calcutta, being received in society, whose occupation and calling must exclude them from the vice-regal court.

The India Company have a stud for the breed of horses in the vicinity of Ghazeepore, under the superintendence of European officers peculiarly qualified for the appointment. The cattle which they turn out, though inferior in beauty to English and Arab chargers, are extremely useful, particularly for harness: a stud-bred horse with a good pedigree is a valuable animal, and always obtains a fair price, though considerably lower than that which would be demanded for a horse of equal merit in England. The common country breed, though it is said that they possess more blood than any other horses in the world, are so unseemly in their appearance and so unconquerably vicious in their habits, that they are rarely used, except upon some great emergence, by European officers. There are, however, some very handsome animals brought from distant parts of India, and others, especially those from Cutch, which are more curious than beautiful, but which prove hard-working useful roadsters, better fitted for the climate than those of English parentage, which are very soon knocked up, and are consequently taken the utmost care of. From Calcutta to Barrackpore, a distance of sixteen miles, carriage-horses are always changed midway, and as none are kept for posting, a pair must be sent on the day before. Medical men, or those who spend a good deal of their time in visiting, cannot take out the same horses in the evening which they have used in the morning; and it is one of the objections to Cawnpore, that officers who have only one buggy-horse, are unable to take their wives to the course in the evening, because it has been driven a long distance during the day to some court-martial or committee sitting at the extremity of the cantonments, which straggle along a space of five miles in length. Notwithstanding the care and attention paid to horses in India, the luxury of a stable is often of necessity denied them. When out in the field, or during long marches, they are picqueted under trees, the only covering which they or their syces Asiat.Jour.N.S.VOL. 12.No.46.




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have to protect them from the inclemency of the weather being a blanket; unless the grooms are liberally supplied with horse-cloths, they are too apt to make themselves comfortable at the expense of their charge, and it is therefore the best economy to provide sufficient clothing for man and horse.

An Indian syce is generally exceedingly attached to the animal under bis care; it is no uncommon circumstance for gentlemen travelling by a different route to entrust their most valuable chargers to the sole guardianship of their grooms, who proceed alone, through jungley districts, seldom if ever mounting the animals, which are led by their conductors, and which arrive at the place of their destination, at the end of two or three months, according to the distance, in excellent condition. Sometimes the


is taken ill upon the road, in which event he will drag himself with difficulty to the next European station, and deliver up the horse to the care of some English gentleman, who, if the poor man's case should be desperate, will hire a new groom, and send him on with his charge, well assured that he will perform the duties of the service with fidelity and despatch. Instances of horses being lost or injured upon long journies of this nature, if known, are so exceedingly rare, that they cannot be adduced in prejudice of the national character, which in the faithful discharge of the trust reposed in the humblest individuals is unrivalled. Sepoys despatched upon treasureparties, if surprised and out-numbered by bands of arıned robbers, will make a desperate though hopeless resistance, and suffer themselves to be cut to pieces to a man rather than desert their posts, although retreat under the circumstances could not be considered dishonourable. There is scarcely a servant in any establishment who could not, if he pleased, make himself master of what would be wealth to him, for there are very few things which are not left open and at the mercy of the domestics, who have many

facilities for escape beyond the reach of justice; but it is seldom that the poorest and lowest abuse their employer's confidence; nothing but ill-treatment, and, in many cases, not even that, will induce a servant to rob his master; frequently the whole household will abscond in the night, but they do not often carry any thing away with them, though there may be arrears of wages due, which they dare not return to claim. Yet, notwithstanding facts of this nature, which are notorious, and the unlimited confidence which the greater number of Europeans repose in their servants, no set of persons are more calumniated or reviled. There are certain perquisites to which they think themselves entitled, and which, if they are not very sharply looked after, they will appropriate; but, excepting where great carelessness and extravagance on the part of the heads of houses encourage similar waste in their inferiors, their peculations are very trifling, and by no means deserve to be designated by the opprobrious terms which people, unaccustomed to the tricks and frauds practised by European domestics, are wont to use in descanting upon the knaveries of their Indian domestics, Were the same power to be placed in the humble classes of England, it would be much more frequently abused; but persons who have come out young and inexperienced to India, and who, in too many instances, entertain


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a prejudice against the colour of those with whom they are surrounded, are apt to fancy excellencies and perfections in servants at home, which only exist in their own imaginations : a truth of which, upon their return to Europe, they are soon painfully convinced. Extraordinary examples of honesty are of perpetual occurrence in India; large sums of money, accidentally left upon tables, have been carefully secured by the first servant who espied them, and produced without any ostentation, as a matter of course, at the owner's return. The sirdar-bearer has usually the care of his master's purse, and when these men are judiciously selected, they may be entrusted with untold gold. The poorest class of labourers, coolies, are often employed to convey a box or parcel, containing valuable property, from Calcutta to the upper provinces, receiving an advance of pay at the period of their setting out, as they have no means of maintaining themselves upon the road; fifteen or twenty rupees, if the journey be a long one, are often given for this purpose, and always without the slightest danger of the sum being misapplied. Nothing could be more easy than the appropriation of box and money to the use of the person who carries his load over many weary miles for scanty pay, and who, by diverging into a neighbouring district, might defy the pursuit of justice; but such things never occur; the only danger to be apprehended is the murder of the coolie by those prowling bands of robbers by profession which infest every part of Hindoostan.

Ghazeepore is notorious for its thieves, many of whom pursue tion under a religious character, and in the garb of gosseins (devout beggars) inveigle their victims to their pagodas, where they assassinate them at leisure. Dacoits of a less atrocious description abound, and no travellers can escape their depredations, unless they consent to entertain one or two chokeydars during their halt, a set of gentry who act a double part, and are thieves when they are not watchmen. The vigilance and zeal of these guardians of the night are manifested by loud and incessant cries of khaubba daur ! " Take care! When they do not sleep themselves, they seem determined not to allow any persons to close their eyes who happen to be within hearing. Every quarter-of-an-hour the warning is repeated, with a strength of lungs which effectually precludes the hope that the Stentorian voioe may fail, and quiet be restored.

The native city of Ghazeepore is better built and better kept than many other places of more importance. The bazaars are neat, well-supplied, and famous for their tailors, whose excellent workmanship is celebrated in the adjacent districts. A very considerable number of the inhabitants are Moosulmans, though the neighbouring population is chiefly Hindoo; their mosques are numerous and handsome, and their former grandeur is evinced by a superb palace built by the Nawāb Cossim Ali Khan, which occupies a considerable extent of ground overlooking the Ganges. This noble building is now in a melancholy state of dilapidation, neglected by the government, who have turned it into a custom-house, and have converted


of its suites of apartments into warehouses, and the residences of police peons belonging to the guard. Though thus rendered useful, it is not thought worthy of repair ; its splendid banquetting-hall and cool verandahs, replete

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