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A Woman's Journey Round the World
by Ida Pfeiffer
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We anchored at Gardenrich, four miles below Calcutta. Nothing gave me more trouble during my travels than finding lodgings, as it was sometimes impossible by mere signs and gestures to make the natives understand where I wanted to go. In the present instance, one of the engineers interested himself so far in my behalf as to land with me, and to hire a palanquin, and direct the natives where to take me.

I was overpowered by feelings of the most disagreeable kind the first time I used a palanquin. I could not help feeling how degrading it was to human beings to employ them as beasts of burden.

The palanquins are five feet long and three feet high, with sliding doors and jalousies: in the inside they are provided with mattresses and cushions, so that a person can lie down in them as in a bed. Four porters are enough to carry one of them about the town, but eight are required for a longer excursion. They relieve each other at short intervals, and run so quickly that they go four miles in an hour or even in three-quarters of an hour. These palanquins being painted black, looked like so many stretchers carrying corpses to the churchyard or patients to the hospital.

On the road to the town, I was particularly struck with the magnificent gauths (piazzas), situated on the banks of the Hoogly, and from which broad flights of steps lead down to the river. Before these gauths are numerous pleasure and other boats.

The most magnificent palaces lay around in the midst of splendid gardens, into one of which the palanquin-bearers turned, and set me down under a handsome portico before the house of Herr Heilgers, to whom I had brought letters of recommendation. The young and amiable mistress of the house greeted me as a countrywoman (she was from the north and I from the south of Germany), and received me most cordially. I was lodged with Indian luxury, having a drawing-room, a bed-room, and a bath-room especially assigned to me.

I happened to arrive in Calcutta at the most unfavourable period possible. Three years of unfruitfulness through almost the whole of Europe had been followed by a commercial crisis, which threatened the town with entire destruction. Every mail from Europe brought intelligence of some failure, in which the richest firms here were involved. No merchant could say, "I am worth so much;"—the next post might inform him that he was a beggar. A feeling of dread and anxiety had seized every family. The sums already lost in England and this place were reckoned at thirty millions of pounds sterling, and yet the crisis was far from being at an end.

Misfortunes of this kind fall particularly hard upon persons who, like the Europeans here, have been accustomed to every kind of comfort and luxury. No one can have any idea of the mode of life in India. Each family has an entire palace, the rent of which amounts to two hundred rupees (20 pounds), or more, a month. The household is composed of from twenty-five to thirty servants; namely—two cooks, a scullion, two water-carriers, four servants to wait at table, four housemaids, a lamp-cleaner, and half-a-dozen seis or grooms. Besides this, there are at least six horses, to every one of which there is a separate groom; two coachmen, two gardeners, a nurse and servant for each child, a lady's maid, a girl to wait on the nurses, two tailors, two men to work the punkahs, and one porter. The wages vary from four to eleven rupees (8s. to 1 pounds 2s.) a month. None of the domestics are boarded, and but few of them sleep in the house: they are mostly married, and eat and sleep at home. The only portion of their dress which they have given to them is their turban and belt; they are obliged to find the rest themselves, and also to pay for their own washing. The linen belonging to the family is never, in spite of the number of servants, washed at home, but is all put out, at the cost of three rupees (6s.) for a hundred articles. The amount of linen used is something extraordinary; everything is white, and the whole is generally changed twice a day.

Provisions are not dear, though the contrary is true of horses, carriages, furniture, and wearing apparel. The last three are imported from Europe; the horses come either from Europe, New Holland, or Java.

In some European families I visited there were from sixty to seventy servants, and from fifteen to twenty horses.

In my opinion, the Europeans themselves are to blame for the large sums they have to pay for servants. They saw the native princes and rajahs surrounded by a multitude of idle people, and, as Europeans, they did not wish to appear in anyway inferior. Gradually the custom became a necessity, and it would be difficult to find a case where a more sensible course is pursued.

It is true that I was informed that matters could never be altered as long as the Hindoos were divided into castes. The Hindoo who cleans the room would on no account wait at table, while the nurse thinks herself far too good ever to soil her hands by cleaning the child's washing-basin. There may certainly be some truth in this, but still every family cannot keep twenty, thirty, or even more servants. In China and Singapore, I was struck with the number of servants, but they are not half, nay, not a third so numerous, as they are here.

The Hindoos, as is well known, are divided into four castes—the Brahmins, Khetries, Bices and Sooders. They all sprung from the body of the god Brahma: the first from his mouth, the second from his shoulders, the third from his belly and thighs, and the fourth from his feet. From the first class are chosen the highest officers of state, the priests, and the teachers of the people. Members of this class alone are allowed to peruse the holy books; they enjoy the greatest consideration; and if they happen to commit a crime, are far less severely punished than persons belonging to any of the other castes. The second class furnishes the inferior officials and soldiers; the third the merchants, workmen, and peasants; while the fourth and last provides servants for the other three. Hindoos of all castes, however, enter service when compelled by poverty to do so, but there is still a distinction in the kind of work, as the higher castes are allowed to perform only that of the cleanest kind.

It is impossible for a person of one caste to be received into another, or to intermarry with any one belonging to it. If a Hindoo leaves his native land or takes food from a Paria, he is turned out of his caste, and can only obtain re-admission on the payment of a very large sum.

Besides these castes, there is a fifth class—the Parias. The lot of these poor creatures is the most wretched that can be imagined. They are so despised by the other four castes, that no one will hold the slightest intercourse with them. If a Hindoo happens to touch a Paria as he is passing, he thinks himself defiled, and is obliged to bathe immediately.

The Parias are not allowed to enter any temple, and have particular places set apart for their dwellings. They are miserably poor, and live in the most wretched huts; their food consists of all kinds of offal and even diseased cattle; they go about nearly naked, or with only a few rags at most on them, and perform the hardest and commonest work.

The four castes are subdivided into an immense number of sects, seventy of which are allowed to eat meat, while others are compelled to abstain from it altogether. Strictly speaking, the Hindoo religion forbids the spilling of blood, and consequently the eating of meat; but the seventy sects just mentioned are an exception. There are, too, certain religious festivals, at which animals are sacrificed. A cow, however, is never killed. The food of the Hindoos consists principally of rice, fruit, fish, and vegetables. They are very moderate in their living, and have only two simple meals a day—one in the morning and the other in the evening. Their general drink is water or milk, varied sometimes with cocoa wine.

The Hindoos are of the middle height, slim, and delicately formed; their features are agreeable and mild; the face is oval, the nose sharply chiselled, the lip by no means thick, the eye fine and soft, and the hair smooth and black. Their complexion varies, according to the locality, from dark to light brown; among the upper classes, some of them, especially the women, are almost white.

There are a great number of Mahomedans in India; and as they are extremely skilful and active, most trades and professions are in their hands. They also willingly hire themselves as servants to Europeans.

Men here do that kind of work which we are accustomed to see performed by women. They embroider with white wool, coloured silk, and gold; make ladies' head-dresses, wash and iron, mend the linen, and even take situations as nurses for little children. There are a few Chinese, too, here, most of whom are in the shoemaking trade.

Calcutta, the capital of Bengal, is situated on the Hoogly, which at this point is so deep and broad, that the largest men-of-war and East Indiamen can lie at anchor before the town. The population consists of about 600,000 souls, of whom, not counting the English troops, hardly more than 2,000 are Europeans and Americans. The town is divided into several portions—namely, the Business-town, the Black-town, and the European quarter. The Business-town and Black-town are very ugly, containing narrow, crooked streets, filled with wretched houses and miserable huts, between which there are warehouses, counting-houses, and now and then some palace or other. Narrow paved canals run through all the streets, in order to supply the necessary amount of water for the numerous daily ablutions of the Hindoos. The Business-town and Black-town are always so densely crowded, that when a carriage drives through, the servants are obliged to get down and run on before, in order to warn the people, or push them out of the way.

The European quarter of the town, however, which is often termed the City of Palaces—a name which it richly merits—is, on the contrary, very beautiful. Every good-sized house, by the way, is called, as it is in Venice, a palace. Most of these palaces are situated in gardens surrounded by high walls; they seldom join one another, for which reason there are but few imposing squares or streets.

With the exception of the governor's palace, none of these buildings can be compared for architectural beauty and richness with the large palaces of Rome, Florence, and Venice. Most of them are only distinguished from ordinary dwelling-houses by a handsome portico upon brick pillars covered with cement, and terrace-like roof's. Inside, the rooms are large and lofty, and the stairs of greyish marble or even wood; but neither in doors or out are there any fine statues or sculptures.

The Palace of the governor is as I before said, a magnificent building—one that would be an ornament to the finest city in the world. It is built in the form of a horse-shoe, with a handsome cupola in the centre: the portico, as well as both the wings, is supported upon columns. The internal arrangements are as bad as can possibly be imagined; the supper-room being, for instance, a story higher than the ball-room. In both these rooms there is a row of columns on each side, and the floor of the latter is composed of Agra marble. The pillars and walls are covered with a white cement, which is equal to marble for its polish. The private rooms are not worth looking at; they merely afford the spectator an opportunity of admiring the skill of the architect, who has managed to turn the large space at his command to the smallest imaginable profit.

Among the other buildings worthy of notice are the Town-hall, the Hospital, the Museum, Ochterlony's Monument, the Mint, and the English Cathedral.

The Town-hall is large and handsome. The hall itself extends through one entire story. There are a few monuments in white marble to the memory of several distinguished men of modern times. It is here that all kinds of meetings are held, all speculations and undertakings discussed, and concerts, balls, and other entertainments given.

The Hospital consists of several small houses, each standing in the midst of a grass plot. The male patients are lodged in one house, the females and children in a second, while the lunatics are confined in the third. The wards were spacious, airy, and excessively clean. Only Christians are received as patients.

The hospital for natives is similar, but considerably smaller. The patients are received for nothing, and numbers who cannot be accommodated in the building itself are supplied with drugs and medicines.

The Museum, which was only founded in 1836, possesses, considering the short space of time that has elapsed since its establishment, a very rich collection, particularly of quadrupeds and skeletons, but there are very few specimens of insects, and most of those are injured. In one of the rooms is a beautifully-executed model of the celebrated Tatch in Agra; several sculptures and bas-reliefs were lying around. The figures seemed to me very clumsy; the architecture, however, is decidedly superior. The museum is open daily. I visited it several times, and, on every occasion, to my great astonishment, met a number of natives, who seemed to take the greatest interest in the objects before them.

Ochterlony's Monument is a simple stone column, 165 feet in height, standing, like a large note of admiration, on a solitary grassplot, in memory of General Ochterlony, who was equally celebrated as a statesman and a warrior. Whoever is not afraid of mounting 222 steps will be recompensed by an extensive view of the town, the river, and the surrounding country; the last, however, is very monotonous, consisting of an endless succession of plains bounded only by the horizon.

Not far from the column is a neat little mosque, whose countless towers and cupolas are ornamented with gilt metal balls, which glitter and glisten like so many stars in the heavens. It is surrounded by a pretty court-yard, at the entrance of which those who wish to enter the mosque are obliged to leave their shoes. I complied with this regulation, but did not feel recompensed for so doing, as I saw merely a small empty hall, the roof of which was supported by a few stone pillars. Glass lamps were suspended from the roof and walls, and the floor was paved with Agra marble, which is very common in Calcutta, being brought down the Ganges.

The Mint presents a most handsome appearance; it is built in the pure Grecian style, except that it is not surrounded by pillars on all its four sides. The machinery in it is said to be especially good, surpassing anything of the kind to be seen even in Europe. I am unable to express any opinion on the subject, and can only say that all I saw appeared excessively ingenious and perfect. The metal is softened by heat and then flattened into plates by means of cylinders. These plates are cut into strips and stamped. The rooms in which the operations take place are spacious, lofty, and airy. The motive-power is mostly steam.

Of all the Christian places of worship, the English Cathedral is the most magnificent. It is built in the Gothic style, with a fine large tower rising above half-a-dozen smaller ones. There are other churches with Gothic towers, but these edifices are all extremely simple in the interior, with the exception of the Armenian church, which has the wall near the altar crowded with pictures in gold frames.

The notorious "Black Hole," in which the Rajah Suraja Dowla cast 150 of the principal prisoners when he obtained possession of Calcutta in 1756, is at present changed into a warehouse. At the entrance stands an obelisk fifty feet high, and on it are inscribed the names of his victims.

The Botanical Garden lies five miles distant from the town. It was founded in the year 1743, but is more like a natural park than a garden, as it is by no means so remarkable for its collection of flowers and plants as for the number of trees and shrubs, which are distributed here and there with studied negligence in the midst of large grass-plots. A neat little monument, with a marble bust, is erected to the memory of the founder. The most remarkable objects are two banana-trees. These trees belong to the fig-tree species, and sometimes attain a height of forty feet. The fruit is very small, round, and of a dark-red; it yields oil when burnt. When the trunk has reached an elevation of about fifteen feet, a number of small branches shoot out horizontally in all directions, and from these quantity of threadlike roots descend perpendicularly to the ground, in which they soon firmly fix themselves. When they are sufficiently grown, they send out shoots like the parent trunk; and this process is repeated ad infinitum, so that it is easy to understand how a single tree may end by forming a whole forest, in which thousands may find a cool and shady retreat. This tree is held sacred by the Hindoos. They erect altars to the god Rama beneath its shade, and there, too, the Brahmin instructs his scholars.

The oldest of these two trees, together with its family, already describes a circumference of more than 600 feet, and the original trunk measures nearly fifty feet round.

Adjoining the Botanical Garden is the Bishop's College, in which the natives are trained as missionaries. After the Governor's Palace, it is the finest building in Calcutta, and consists of two main buildings and three wings. One of the main buildings is occupied by an extremely neat chapel. The library, which is a noble-looking room, contains a rich collection of the works of the best authors, and is thrown open to the pupils; but their industry does not appear to equal the magnificence of the arrangements, for, on taking a book from the bookcase, I immediately let it fall again and ran to the other end of the room; a swarm of bees had flown upon me from out the bookcase.

The dining and sleeping rooms, as well as all the other apartments, are so richly and conveniently furnished, that a person might easily suppose that the establishment had been founded for the sons of the richest English families, who were so accustomed to comfort from their tenderest infancy that they were desirous of transplanting it to all quarters of the globe; but no one would ever imagine the place had been built for "the labourers in the vineyard of the Lord."

I surveyed this splendid institution with a sadder heart than I might have done, because I knew it was intended for the natives, who had first to put off their own simple mode of life and accustom themselves to convenience and superfluity, only to wander forth into the woods and wildernesses, and exercise their office in the midst of savages and barbarians.

Among the sights of Calcutta may be reckoned the garden of the chief judge, Mr. Lawrence Peel, which is equally interesting to the botanist and the amateur, and which, in rare flowers, plants, and trees, is much richer than the Botanical Garden itself. The noble park, laid out with consummate skill, the luxuriant lawns, interspersed and bordered with flowers and plants, the crystal ponds, the shady alleys, with their bosquets and gigantic trees, all combine to form a perfect paradise, in the midst of which stands the palace of the fortunate owner.

Opposite this park, in the large village of Alifaughur, is situated a modest little house, which is the birthplace of much that is good. It contains a small surgery, and is inhabited by a native who has studied medicine. Here the natives may obtain both advice and medicine for nothing. This kind and benevolent arrangement is due to Lady Julia Cameron, wife of the law member of the Supreme Council of India, Charles Henry Cameron.

I had the pleasure of making this lady's acquaintance, and found her to be, in every respect, an ornament to her sex. Wherever there is any good to be done, she is sure to take the lead. In the years 1846-7, she set on foot subscriptions for the starving Irish, writing to the most distant provinces and calling upon every Englishman to contribute his mite. In this manner she collected the large sum of 80,000 rupees (8,000 pounds.)

Lady Peel has distinguished herself also in the field of science, and Burger's "Leonore" has been beautifully translated by her into English. She is also a kind mother and affectionate wife, and lives only for her family, caring little for the world. Many call her an original; would that we had a few more such originals!

I had brought no letters of recommendation to this amiable woman, but she happened to hear of my travels and paid me a visit. In fact, the hospitality I met with here was really astonishing. I was cordially welcomed in the very first circles, and every one did all in his power to be of use to me. I could not help thinking of Count Rehberg, the Austrian minister at Rio Janeiro, who thought he had conferred a great mark of distinction by inviting me once to his villa; and, to purchase this honour, I had either to walk an hour in the burning heat or to pay six milreis (13s.) for a carriage. In Calcutta, a carriage was always sent for me. I could relate a great many more anecdotes of the worthy count, who made me feel how much I was to blame for not descending from a rich and aristocratic family. I experienced different treatment from the member of the Supreme Council, Charles Henry Cameron, and from the chief judge, Mr. Peel. These gentlemen respected me for myself alone without troubling their heads about my ancestors.

During my stay in Calcutta, I was invited to a large party in honour of Mr. Peel's birthday; but I refused the invitation, as I had no suitable dress. My excuse, however, was not allowed, and I accompanied Lady Cameron, in a simple coloured muslin dress, to a party where all the other ladies were dressed in silk and satin and covered with lace and jewellery; yet no one was ashamed of me, but conversed freely with me, and showed me every possible attention.

A very interesting promenade for a stranger is that to the Strand, or "Maytown," as it is likewise called. It is skirted on one side by the banks of the Hoogly, and on the other by beautiful meadows, beyond which is the noble Chaudrini Road, consisting of rows of noble palaces, and reckoned the finest quarter of Calcutta. Besides this, there is a fine view of the governor's palace, the cathedral, Ochterlony's monument, the magnificent reservoirs, Fort William, a fine prutagon with extensive outworks, and many other remarkable objects.

Every evening, before sunset, all the fashionable world of Calcutta streams hitherward. The purse-proud European, the stuck-up Baboo or Nabob, the deposed Rajah, are to be beheld driving in splendid European carriages, followed by a multitude of servants, in Oriental costume, some standing behind their carriages, and some running before it. The Rajahs and Nabobs are generally dressed in silk robes embroidered with gold, over which are thrown the most costly Indian shawls. Ladies and gentlemen mounted upon English blood horses gallop along the meadows, while crowds of natives are to be seen laughing and joking on their way home, after the conclusion of their day's work. Nor is the scene on the Hoogly less animated; first-class East Indiamen are lying at anchor, unloading or being cleaned out, while numberless small craft pass continually to and fro.

I had been told that the population here suffered very much from elephantiasis, and that numbers of poor wretches with horribly swollen feet were to be seen at almost every turn. But this is not true. I did not meet with as many cases of the kind during five weeks here, as I did in one day in Rio Janeiro.

On one occasion I paid a visit to a rich Baboo. The property of the family, consisting of three brothers, was reckoned at 150,000 pounds. The master of the house received me at the door, and accompanied me to the reception-room. He was clad in a large dress of white muslin, over which was wound a magnificent Indian shawl, which extended from the hips to the feet, and made up for the transparency of the muslin. One end of the shawl was thrown over his shoulder in the most picturesque manner.

The parlour was furnished in the European fashion. A large hand organ stood in one corner, and in the other a spacious bookcase, with the works of the principal English poets and philosophers; but it struck me that these books were there more for show than use, for the two volumes of Byron's works were turned different ways, while Young's Night Thoughts were stuck between. There were a few engravings and pictures, which the worthy Baboo imagined to be an ornament to the walls, but which were not of so much value as the frames that contained them.

My host sent for his two sons, handsome boys, one seven and the other four years old, and introduced them to me. I inquired, although it was quite contrary to custom to do so, after his wife and daughters. Our poor sex ranks so low in the estimation of the Hindoos, that it is almost an insult to a person to mention any of his female relations. He overlooked this in me, as a European, and immediately sent for his daughters. The youngest, a most lovely baby six months old, was nearly white, with large splendid eyes, the brilliancy of which was greatly increased by the delicate eyelids, which were painted a deep blue round the edges. The elder daughter, nine years old, had a somewhat common coarse face. Her father, who spoke tolerable English, introduced her to me as a bride, and invited me to the marriage which was to take place in six weeks. I was so astonished at this, considering the child's extreme youth, that I remarked he no doubt meant her betrothal, but he assured me that she would then be married and delivered over to her husband.

On my asking whether the girl loved her intended bridegroom, I was told that she would see him for the first time at the celebration of the nuptials. The Baboo informed me further, that every person like himself looked out for a son-in-law as soon as possible, and that the younger a girl married the more honourable was it accounted; an unmarried daughter was a disgrace to her father, who was looked upon as possessed of no paternal love if he did not get her off his hands. As soon as he has found a son-in-law, he describes his bodily and mental qualities as well as his worldly circumstances to his wife, and with this description she is obliged to content herself, for she is never allowed to see her future son-in-law, either as the betrothed, or the husband of her child. The bridegroom is never considered to belong to the family of the bride, but the latter leaves her own relations for those of her husband. No woman, however, is allowed to see or speak with the male relations of her husband, nor dare she ever appear before the men- servants of her household without being veiled. If she wishes to pay a visit to her mother, she is carried to her shut up in a palanquin.

I also saw the Baboo's wife and one of his sisters-in-law. The former was twenty-five years old and very corpulent, the latter was fifteen and was slim and well made. The reason of this, as I was told, is that the females, although married so young, seldom become mothers before their fourteenth year, and until then preserve their original slimness. After their first confinement, they remain for six or eight weeks shut up in their room, without taking the least exercise, and living all the time on the most sumptuous and dainty food. This fattening process generally produces the desired effect. The reader must know that the Hindoos, like the Mahomedans, are partial to corpulent ladies. I never saw any specimens of this kind of beauty, however, among the lower classes.

The two ladies were not very decently attired. Their bodies and heads were enveloped in ample blue and white muslin drapery, embroidered with gold, and bordered with lace of the same material as broad as a man's hand, but the delicate texture {150} was so ethereal, that every outline of the body was visible beneath it. Besides this, whenever they moved their arms the muslin opened and displayed not only their arm, but a portion of their bosom and body. They appeared to pay a great deal of attention to their hair; their chief care seemed to consist in replacing the muslin on their heads, whenever it chanced to fall off. As long as a female is unmarried, she is never allowed to lay aside her head-dress.

These ladies were so overloaded with gold, pearls, and diamonds, that they really resembled beasts of burden. Large pearls, with other precious stones strung together, adorned their head and neck, as likewise did heavy gold chains and mounted gold coins. Their ears, which were pierced all over—I counted twelve holes in one ear—were so thickly laden with similar ornaments, that the latter could not be distinguished from one another; all that was to be seen was a confused mass of gold, pearls, and diamonds. On each arm were eight or ten costly bracelets; the principal one, which was four inches broad, being composed of massive gold, with six rows of small brilliants. I took it in my hand, and found that it weighed at least half a pound. They had gold chains twisted three times round their thighs, and their ankles and feet were also encircled with gold rings and chains; their feet were dyed with henna.

The two ladies then brought me their jewel-cases, and showed me a great many more valuable ornaments. The Hindoos must spend immense sums in jewels and gold and silver embroidered Dacca muslin, as in these articles it is the endeavour of every lady to outrival all her acquaintances. As they had anticipated my arrival, the two ladies were arrayed in their most costly apparel; being determined to exhibit themselves to me in true Indian splendour.

The Baboo also conducted me to the inner apartments looking into the courtyard. Some of these were furnished only with carpets and pillows, the Hindoos not being, in general, partial to chairs or beds; in others, were different pieces of European furniture, such as, tables, chairs, presses, and even bedsteads. A glass case containing dolls, coaches, horses, and other toys, was pointed out to me with peculiar satisfaction; both children and women are very fond of playing with these things, though the women are more passionately fond of cards.

No married woman is allowed to enter the rooms looking out upon the street, as she might be seen by a man from the opposite windows. The young bride, however, profited by her freedom, and tripping before us to the open window, glanced into the busy street.

The wives of the rich Hindoos, or of those belonging to the higher castes, are as much confined to their houses as the Chinese women. The only pleasure that the husband's strictness permits the wife to enjoy, is to pay a visit, now and then, in a carefully closed palanquin, to some friend or relation. It is only during the short time that a woman remains unmarried that she is allowed rather more freedom.

A Hindoo may have several wives; there are, however, but few examples of his availing himself of this privilege.

The husband's relations generally reside in the same house, but each family has its separate household. The elder boys take their meals with their father, but the wife, daughters, and younger boys are not allowed this privilege. Both sexes are extremely fond of tobacco, which they smoke in pipes called hookas.

At the conclusion of my visit, I was offered sweetmeats, fruits, raisins, etc. The sweetmeats were mostly composed of sugar, almonds, and suet, but were not very palatable, owing to the predominance of the suet.

Before leaving the house, I visited the ground-floor to examine the room, in which, once a year, the religious festival called Natch is celebrated. This festival, which is the most important one in the Hindoo religion, takes place in the beginning of October, and lasts a fortnight, during which time neither poor nor rich do any business whatever. The master closes his shops and warehouses, and the servant engages a substitute, generally from among the Mahomedans, and then both master and servant spend the fortnight, if not in fasting and prayer, most certainly in doing nothing else.

The Baboo informed me that on these occasions his room is richly ornamented, and a statue of the ten-armed goddess Durga placed in it. This statue is formed of clay or wood, painted with the most glaring colours, and loaded with gold and silver tinsel, flowers, ribbons, and often with even real jewellery. Hundreds of lights and lamps, placed between vases and garlands of flowers, glitter in the room, the court-yard, and outside the house. A number of different animals are offered up as sacrifices; they are not slain, however, in the presence of the goddess, but in some retired part of the house. Priests attend upon the goddess, and female dancers display their talent before her, accompanied by the loud music of the tam- tam. Both priests and danseuses are liberally paid. Some of the latter, like our Taglionis and Elslers, earn large sums. During the period of my stay here, there was a Persian danseuse, who never appeared for less than 500 rupees (50 pounds.) Crowds of the curious, among whom are numbers of Europeans, flock from one temple to another; the principal guests have sweetmeats and fruit served round to them.

On the last day of the festival the goddess is conveyed with great pomp, and accompanied by music, to the Hoogly, where she is put in a boat, rowed into the middle of the stream, and then thrown overboard in the midst of the shouts and acclamations of the multitude upon the banks. Formerly, the real jewels were thrown in along with the goddess, but carefully fished up again by the priests during the night; at present, the real jewels are replaced on the last day by false ones, or else the founder of the feast takes an opportunity of secretly obtaining possession of them during the goddess's progress to the river. He is obliged to do this very cautiously, however, so as not to be observed by the people. A Natch often costs several thousand rupees, and is one of the most costly items in the expenditure of the rich.

Marriages, too, are said to cost large sums of money. The Brahmins observe the stars, and by their aid calculate the most fortunate day and even hour for the ceremony to take place. It is, however, frequently postponed, at the very last moment, for a few hours longer, as the priest has taken fresh observations, and hit upon a still luckier instant. Of course, such a discovery has to be paid for by an extra fee.

There are several different feasts every year in honour of the four- armed goddess Kally, especially in the village of Kallighat, near Calcutta. There were two during my stay. Before each hut was placed a number of small clay idols, painted with various colours and representing the most horrible creatures. They were exposed there for sale. The goddess Kally, as large as life, had got her tongue thrust out as far as possible between her open jaws; she was placed either before or inside the huts, and was richly decorated with wreaths of flowers.

The temple of Kally is a miserable building, or rather a dark hole, from whose cupola-like roof rise several turrets: the statue here was remarkable for its immense head and horribly long tongue. Its face was painted deep-red, yellow, and sky-blue. I was unable to enter this god-like hole, as I was a woman, and as such was not reckoned worthy of admission into so sacred a place as Kally's temple. I looked in at the door with the Hindoo woman, and was quite satisfied.

The most horrible and distressing scenes occur in the Hindoo dead- houses, and at the places where the corpses are burnt. Those that I saw are situated on the banks of the Hoogly, near the town, and opposite to them is the wood market. The dead-house was small, and contained only one room, in which were four bare bedsteads. The dying person is brought here by his relations, and either placed upon one of the bedsteads, or, if these are all full, on the floor, or, at a push, even before the house in the burning sun. At the period of my arrival, there were five persons in the house and two outside. The latter were completely wrapped up in straw and woollen counterpanes, and I thought they were already dead. On my asking whether or no this was the case, my guide threw off the clothes, and I saw the poor wretches move. I think they must have been half- smothered under the mass of covering. Inside, on the floor, lay a poor old woman, the death-rattle in whose throat proclaimed that her end was fast approaching. The four bedsteads were likewise occupied. I did not observe that the mouths and noses of these poor creatures were stopped up with mud from the Ganges: this may, perhaps, be the case in some other districts. Near the dying persons were seated their relations, quietly and silently waiting to receive their last breath. On my inquiring whether nothing was ever given to them, I was told that if they did not die immediately, a small draught of water from the Ganges was handed to them from time to time, but always decreasing in quantity and at longer intervals, for when once brought to these places, they must die at any price.

As soon as they are dead, and almost before they are cold, they are taken to the place where they are burnt, and which is separated from the high road by a wall. In this place I saw one corpse and one person at the point of death, while on six funeral-piles were six corpses with the flames flaring on high all around them. A number of birds, larger than turkeys, and called here philosophers, {153} small vultures, and ravens were seated upon the neighbouring trees and house-tops, in anxious expectation of the half-burnt corpses. I was horrified. I hurried away, and it was long before I could efface the impression made upon my mind by this hideous spectacle.

In the case of rich people, the burning of the body sometimes costs more than a thousand rupees; the most costly wood, such as rose and sandal wood, being employed for that purpose. Besides this, a Brahmin, music, and female mourners, are necessary parts of the ceremony.

After the body has been burnt, the bones are collected, laid in a vase, and thrown into the Ganges, or some other holy river. The nearest relation is obliged to set fire to the pile.

There are naturally none of these ceremonies among poor people. They simply burn their dead on common wood or cow-dung; and if they cannot even buy these materials, they fasten a stone to the corpse and throw it into the river.

I will here relate a short anecdote that I had from a very trustworthy person. It may serve as an example of the atrocities that are often committed from false ideas of religion.

Mr. N—- was once, during his travels, not far from the Ganges, and was accompanied by several servants and a dog. Suddenly the latter disappeared, and all the calling in the world would not bring him back. He was at last discovered on the banks of the Ganges, standing near a human body, which he kept licking. Mr. N—- went up and found that the man had been left to die, but had still some spark of life left. He summoned his attendants, had the slime and filth washed off the poor wretch's face, and wrapped him well up. In a few days after he was completely recovered. On Mr. N—-'s now being about to leave him, the man begged and prayed him not to do so, as he had lost his caste, and would never more be recognised by any of his relations; in a word that he was completely wiped out of the list of the living. Mr. N—- took him into his service, and the man, at the present day, is still in the enjoyment of perfect health. The event narrated occurred years ago.

The Hindoos themselves acknowledge that their customs, with regard to dying persons, occasion many involuntary murders; but their religion ordains that when the physician declares there is no hope left, the person must die.

During my stay in Calcutta, I could learn no more of the manners and customs of the Hindoos than what I have described, but I became acquainted with some of the particulars of a Mahomedan marriage. On the day appointed for the ceremony, the nuptial bed, elegantly ornamented, is carried, with music and festivity, to the house of the bridegroom, and late in the evening, the bride herself is also conveyed there in a close palanquin, with music and torches, and a large crowd of friends, many of whom carry regular pyramids of tapers; that well known kind of firework, the Bengal-fire, with its beautiful light-blue flame, is also in requisition for the evening's proceedings.

On arriving at the bridegroom's house, the newly-married couple alone are admitted; the rest remain outside playing, singing, and hallooing until broad day.

I often heard Europeans remark that they considered the procession of the nuptial couch extremely improper. But as the old saying goes—"A man can see the mote in his neighbour's eye when he cannot perceive the beam in his own;" and it struck me that the manner in which marriages are managed among the Europeans who are settled here, is much more unbecoming. It is a rule with the English, that on the day appointed for the marriage, which takes place towards evening, the bridegroom shall not see his bride before he meets her at the altar. An infringement of this regulation would be shocking. In case the two who are about to marry should have anything to say to each other, they are obliged to do so in writing. Scarcely, however, has the clergyman pronounced the benediction, ere the new married couple are packed off together in a carriage, and sent to spend a week in some hotel in the vicinity of the town. For this purpose, either the hotel at Barrackpore or one of two or three houses at Gardenrich is selected. In case all the lodgings should be occupied, a circumstance of by no means rare occurrence, since almost all marriages are celebrated in the months of November and December, a boat containing one or two cabins is hired, and the young people are condemned to pass the next eight days completely shut up from all their friends, and even the parents themselves are not allowed access to their children.

I am of opinion that a girl's modesty must suffer much from these coarse customs. How the poor creature must blush on entering the place selected for her imprisonment; and how each look, each grin of the landlord, waiters, or boatmen, must wound her feelings!

The worthy Germans, who think everything excellent that does not emanate from themselves, copy this custom most conscientiously.



CHAPTER XII. BENARES.



DEPARTURE FROM CALCUTTA—ENTRANCE INTO THE GANGES—RAJMAHAL—GUR— JUNGHERA—MONGHYR—PATNA—DEINAPOOR—GESIPOOR—BENARES—RELIGION OF THE HINDOOS—DESCRIPTION OF THE TOWN—PALACES AND TEMPLES—THE HOLY PLACES—THE HOLY APES—THE RUINS OF SARANTH—AN INDIGO PLANTATION—A VISIT TO THE RAJAH OF BENARES—MARTYRS AND FAKIRS—THE INDIAN PEASANT—THE MISSIONARY ESTABLISHMENT.

On the 10th of December, after a stay of more than five weeks, I left Calcutta for Benares. The journey may be performed either by land, or else by water, on the Ganges. By land, the distance is 470 miles; by water, 800 miles during the rainy season, and 465 miles more during the dry months, as the boats are compelled to take very circuitous routes to pass from the Hoogly, through the Sonderbunds, into the Ganges.

The land journey is performed in post-palanquins, carried by men, who, like horses, are changed every four or six miles. The traveller proceeds by night as well as day, and at each station finds people ready to receive him, as a circular from the post- office is always sent a day or two before, to prepare them for his arrival. At night the train is increased by the addition of a torch-bearer, to scare off the wild beasts by the glare of his torch. The travelling expenses for one person are about 200 rupees (20 pounds), independent of the luggage, which is reckoned separately.

The journey by water can be accomplished in steamers, one of which leaves almost every week for Allahabad (135 miles beyond Benares). The journey occupies from fourteen to twenty days, as, on account of the numerous sand-banks, it is impossible for the vessel to proceed on her course except in the day-time, and even then it is by no means unusual for her to run aground, especially when the water is low.

The fares to Benares are: first cabin, 257 rupees (25 pounds 14s.); second cabin, 216 rupees (21 pounds 12s.). Provisions, without wine or spirits, three rupees (6s.) a day.

As I had heard so much of the magnificent banks of the Ganges, and of the important towns situated on them, I determined to go by water.

On the 8th of December, according to the advertisement, the steamer "General Macleod," 140 horse-power, commanded by Captain Kellar, was to leave her moorings; but on going on board, I received the gratifying intelligence that we should have to wait twenty-four hours, which twenty-four hours were extended to as much again, so that we did not actually set off before 11 o'clock on the morning of the 10th. We first proceeded down the stream to the sea as far as Katcherie, and on the following day we rounded Mud Point, and entered the Sonderbunds, where we beat about as far as Culna. From there we proceeded up the Gury, a large tributary stream flowing into the Ganges below Rumpurbolea. During the first few days, the scenery was monotonous to the highest degree; there were neither towns nor villages to be seen; the banks were flat, and the prospect everywhere bounded by tall, thick bushes, which the English term jungles, that is to say, "virgin forests." For my own part, I could see no "virgin forests," as by this term I understand a forest of mighty trees. During the night, we heard, from time to time, the roaring of tigers. These animals are pretty abundant in these parts, and frequently attack the natives if they happen to remain out late wooding. I was shown the tattered fragment of a man's dress, hung upon a bush, to commemorate the fact of a native having been torn to pieces there by one of these beasts. But they are not the only foes that man has to dread here; the Ganges contains quite as deadly ones, namely—the ravenous crocodiles. These may be seen in groups of six or eight, sunning themselves on the slimy banks of the river or on the numerous sandbanks. They vary in length from six to fifteen feet. On the approach of the steamer, several started up, affrighted by the noise, and glided hastily into the dirty yellow stream.

The different branches of the Sonderbunds and the Gury are often so narrow that there is hardly room for two vessels to pass each other; while, on the other hand, they frequently expand into lakes that are miles across. In spite, too, of the precaution of only proceeding by day, on account of the numerous sandbanks and shallows, accidents are of frequent occurrence. We ourselves did not come off scot free. In one of the narrow branches I have alluded to, while our vessel was stopped to allow another to pass, one of the two ships that we had in tow came with such violence against the steamer, that the sides of a cabin were driven in: luckily, however, no one was injured.

In another arm of the river, two native vessels were lying at anchor. The crews were somewhat slow in perceiving us, and had not time to raise their anchors before we came puffing up to them. The captain did not stop, as he thought there was room to pass, but turned the steamer's head so far in shore, that he ran into the bushes, and left some of the blinds of the cabin-windows suspended as trophies behind him, whereat he was so enraged, that he immediately dispatched two boats to cut the poor creatures' hawsers, thereby causing them to lose their anchors. This was another action worthy of a European!

Near Culna (358 miles from the sea), we entered the Gury, a considerable tributary of the Ganges, which it flows into below Rumpurbolea. The jungles here recede, and their place is occupied by beautiful plantations of rice, and other vegetables. There was, too, no scarcity of villages, only the huts, which were mostly built of straw and palm-leaves, were small and wretched. The appearance of the steamer soon collected all the inhabitants, who left their fields and huts and greeted it with loud huzzas.

15th December. This evening we struck, for the first time, on a sandbank. It cost us some trouble before we could get off again.

16th December. We had entered the Ganges yesterday. At a late hour this evening we hove to near the little village of Commercolly. The inhabitants brought provisions of every description on board, and we had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the prices of the various articles. A fine wether cost four rupees (8s.); eighteen fowls, a rupee (2s.); a fish, weighing several pounds, an anna (1.5d.); eight eggs, an anna; twenty oranges, two annas (3d.); a pound of fine bread, three beis (ld.); and yet, in spite of these ludicrously cheap prices, the captain charged each passenger three rupees (6s.) a-day for his board, which was not even passable! Many of the passengers made purchases here of eggs, new bread, and oranges, and the captain was actually not ashamed to let these articles, which were paid for out of our own pockets, appear at his table that we all paid so dearly for.

18th December. Bealeah, a place of considerable importance, noted for the number of its prisons. It is a depot for criminals, {158a} who are sent here from all parts. The prisoners here cannot be so desirous of escaping as those in Europe, for I saw numbers of them, very slightly ironed, wandering about in groups or alone, in the place itself and its vicinity, without having any gaolers with them. They are properly taken care of, and employed in various kinds of light work. There is a paper manufactory, which is almost entirely carried on by them.

The inhabitants appeared to possess a more than usual degree of fanaticism. I and another passenger, Herr Lau, had gone to take a walk in the place, and were about to enter a small street in which there was a Hindoo temple; but no sooner, however, did the people perceive our intention, than they set up a horrible yelling, and pressed on us so closely, that we held it advisable to restrain our curiosity and turn back.

19th December. Today we perceived the low ranges of the Rajmahal Hills, the first we had seen since we left Madras. In the evening, we were again stuck fast upon a sandbank. We remained tolerably quiet during the night, but, as soon as it was morning, every possible means were adopted to get us off again. The vessels we had in tow were cast off, our steam got up to its highest pitch; the sailors, too, exerted themselves indefatigably, and at noon we were stuck just as fast as we were the evening before. About this time, we perceived a steamer on its way from Allahabad to Calcutta; but our captain hoisted no signals of distress, being very much vexed that he should be seen by a comrade in such a position. The captain of the other vessel, however, offered his assistance of his own accord but his offer was coldly and curtly refused, and it was not until after several hours of the most strenuous exertion that we succeeded in getting off the bank into deep water.

In the course of the day, we touched at Rajmahal, {158b} a large village, which, on account of the thick woods and numerous swamps and morasses around it, is reckoned a most unhealthy place.

It was here that Gur, one of the largest towns of India, once stood. It is said to have been twenty square miles in extent, and to have contained about two millions of inhabitants, and, according to the latest books of travels, the most splendid and considerable ruins are still to be seen there. Those of the so-called "Golden Mosque" are especially remarkable, being very fine and faced with marble; the gateways are celebrated for their great width of span and the solidity of their side walls.

As there was, fortunately, a depot for coals here, we were allowed a few hours to do as we liked. The younger passengers seized the opportunity to go out shooting, being attracted by the splendid forests, the finest I had as yet seen in India. It was certainly reported that they were very much infested with tigers, but this deterred no one.

I also engaged in the chase—although it was one of a different description. I penetrated far and wide, through forest and swamp, in order to discover the ruins. I was successful; but how meagre and wretched they were! The most important were those of two common city-gates, built of sandstone and ornamented with a few handsome sculptures, but without any arches or cupolas. One inconsiderable temple, with four corner towers, was in several places covered with very fine cement. Besides these, there were a few other ruins or single fragments of buildings and pillars scattered around, but all of them together do not cover a space of two square miles.

On the border of the forest, or some hundred paces farther in, were situated a number of huts belonging to the natives, approached by picturesque paths running beneath shady avenues of trees. In Bealeah, the people were very fanatic, while here the men were very jealous. At the conclusion of my excursion, one of the gentlemen passengers had joined me, and we directed our steps towards the habitations of the natives. As soon as the men saw my companion, they called out to their wives, and ordered them to take refuge in the huts. The women ran in from all directions, but remained very quietly at the doors of their dwellings to see us pass, and quite forgot to conceal their faces while they did so.

In these parts, there are whole woods of cocoa-palms. This tree is properly a native of India, where it attains a height of eighty feet, and bears fruit in its sixth year. In other countries, it is scarcely fifty feet high, and does not bear fruit before it is twelve or fifteen years old. This tree is, perhaps, the most useful one in the known world. It produces large and nutritious fruit, excellent milk, large leaves that are used for covering in and roofing huts, materials for strong cordage, the clearest oil for burning, mats, woven stuffs, colouring matter, and even a kind of drink called surr, toddy, or palm brandy, and obtained by incisions made in the crown of the tree, to which, during an entire month, the Hindoos climb up every morning and evening, making incisions in the stem and hanging pots underneath to catch the sap which oozes out. The rough condition of the bark facilitates considerably the task of climbing up the tree. The Hindoos tie a strong cord round the trunk and their own body, and another round their feet, which they fix firmly against the tree; they then raise themselves up, drawing the upper rope with their hands and the lower one with the points of their feet, after them. I have seen them climb the highest trees in this manner with the greatest ease in two minutes at the most. Round their bodies they have a belt, to which are suspended a knife and one or two small jars.

The sap is at first quite clear, and agreeably sweet, but begins, in six or eight hours' time, to ferment, and then assumes a whitish tint, while its flavour becomes disagreeably acid. From this, with the addition of some rice, is manufactured strong arrack. A good tree will yield above a gallon of this sap in four-and-twenty hours, but during the year in which the sap is thus extracted, it bears no fruit.

21st December. About 80 miles below Rajmahal, we passed three rather steep rocks rising out of the Ganges. The largest is about sixty feet high; the next in size, which is overgrown with bushes, is the residence of a Fakir, whom the true believers supply with provisions. We could not see the holy man, as it was beginning to grow dark as we passed. This, however, did not cause us so much regret, as that we were unable to visit the Botanical Garden at Bogulpore, which is said to be the finest in all India; but as there was no coal depot at Bogulpore, we did not stop.

On the 22nd of December, we passed the remarkable mountain scenery of Junghera, which rises, like an island of rocks, from the majestic Ganges. This spot was, in former times, looked on as the holiest in the whole course of the river. Thousands of boats and larger vessels were constantly to be seen there, as no Hindoo believed he could die in peace without having visited the place. Numerous Fakirs had established themselves here, strengthening the poor pilgrims with unctuous exhortations, and taking in return their pious gifts. The neighbourhood has, however, at present, lost its reputation for sanctity, and the offerings received are scarcely sufficient to maintain two or three Fakirs.

In the evening we stopped near Monghyr, {160a} a tolerably large town, with some old fortifications. The most conspicuous object is a cemetery, crowded with monuments. The monuments are so peculiar, that had I not seen similar ones in the cemeteries of Calcutta, I should never have imagined that they belonged to any sect of Christians. There were temples, pyramids, immense catafalques, kiosks, etc., all massively built of tiles. The extent of this cemetery is quite disproportioned to the number of Europeans in Monghyr; but the place is said to be the most unhealthy in India, so that when a European is ordered there for any number of years, he generally takes a last farewell of all his friends.

Six miles hence, there are some hot springs, which are looked upon by the natives as sacred.

We had lost sight of the Rajmahal Hills at Bogulpore; on both sides of the river, nothing was now to be seen but an uninterrupted succession of flat plains.

24th December. Patna, {160b} one of the largest and most ancient cities of Bengal, with a population of about 300,000 souls, {161} consists of a long, broad street, eight miles long, with numerous short alleys running into it. The houses, which are mostly constructed of mud, struck me as particularly small and wretched. Under the projecting roofs are exposed for sale goods and provisions of the simplest kind. That part of the street in which the greatest number of these miserable shops are situated, is dignified by the grand name of the "Bazaar." The few houses of a better description might easily be counted without any very great trouble; they are built of tiles, and surrounded by wooden galleries and colonnades prettily carved. In these houses were to be found the best and finest shops.

The temples of the Hindoos, the Ghauts (flights of steps, halls, and gateways) on the Ganges, like the mosques of the Mahomedans, always look a great deal better at a distance than they do on a nearer inspection. The only objects worthy of notice which I saw here, were a few bell-shaped mausoleums, like those in Ceylon, which they greatly surpassed in size, although not in artistic beauty; they were certainly more than 200 feet in circumference, and eighty feet in height. Excessively narrow entrances, with simple doors, conduct into the interior. On the outside, two small flights of steps, forming a semicircle, lead up to the top. The doors were not opened for us, and we were obliged to content ourselves with the assurance that, with the exception of a small, plain sarcophagus there was nothing inside.

Patna is a place of great importance, from the trade in opium, by which many of the natives acquire large fortunes. As a general rule, they make no display of their riches, either as regards their clothes, or in any other public kind of luxury. There are only two sorts of dress—one for those in easy circumstances, which is like that of the Orientals, and one for the poorest classes, which consists of a piece of cloth bound round the loins.

The principal street presents a bustling appearance, being much frequented by carriages, as well as pedestrians. The Hindoos, like the Jews, are such determined foes to walking, that they do not think the worst place in the most wretched cart beneath their acceptance.

The vehicles in most general use are narrow, wooden cars upon two wheels, and composed of four posts with cross-beams. Coloured woollen stuff is hung over these, and a kind of canopy keeps off the sun. There is properly only room for two persons, although I have seen three or four crowded into them. This put me in mind of the Italians, who fill a carriage so that not even the steps are left vacant. These cars are called baili. They are closely curtained when women travel in them.

I expected to see the streets here full of camels and elephants, since I had read so much about it in some descriptions: but I saw only bailis drawn by oxen and a few horsemen, but neither camels nor elephants.

Towards evening we drove to Deinapore, {162} which is eight miles from Patna, along an excellent post-road, planted with handsome trees.

Deinapore is one of the largest English military stations, and contains extensive barracks, which almost constitute a town in themselves. The town is but a short distance from the barracks. There are many Mahomedans among the inhabitants, who surpass the Hindoos in industry and perseverance.

I here saw elephants for the first time on the Indian continent. In a serai outside the town there were eight large handsome animals.

When we returned to the ship in the evening, we found it like a camp. All kinds of articles were brought there and laid out for inspection; but the shoemakers were particularly numerous. Their work appeared neat and lasting, and remarkably cheap. A pair of men's boots, for example, cost from one and a half to two rupees (3s. to 4s.); but it is true that twice as much is always asked for them. I saw on this occasion the way in which the European sailors conduct bargains with the natives. One of the engineers wanted to buy a pair of shoes, and offered a quarter of the price asked. The seller, not consenting to this, took his goods back; but the engineer snatched them out of his hand, threw down a few beis more than what he had offered, and hastened to his cabin. The shoemaker pursued him, and demanded the shoes back; instead of which he received several tough blows, and was threatened that if he was not quiet he should be compelled to leave the ship immediately. The poor creature returned half crying to his pack of goods.

A similar occurrence took place on the same evening. A Hindoo boy brought a box for one of the travellers, and asked for a small payment for his trouble; he was not listened to. The boy remained standing by, repeating his request now and then. He was driven away, and as he would not go quietly, blows were had recourse to. The captain happened to pass accidentally, and asked what was the matter. The boy, sobbing, told him; the captain shrugged his shoulders, and the boy was put out of the ship.

How many similar and even more provoking incidents have I seen? The so-called "barbarian and heathen people" have good reason to hate us. Wherever the Europeans go they will not give any reward, but only orders and commands; and their rule is generally much more oppressive than that of the natives.

26th December. The custom of exposing dying people on the banks of the Ganges, does not appear to be so general as some travellers state. We sailed on the river for fourteen days, during which time we passed many thickly populated towns and villages, and did not meet with a single case until today. The dying man lay close to the water, and several men, probably his relations, were seated round him, awaiting his decease. One dipped water and mud out of the river with his hands, and put them to the nose and mouth of the dying man. The Hindoos believe that if they die at the river with their mouths full of the holy water, they are quite certain to go to heaven. His relations or friends remain by the dying man till sunset, when they go home, and leave him to his fate. He generally falls a prey to crocodiles. I very seldom saw any floating corpses; only two during the whole journey. Most of the corpses are burnt.

27th December. Ghazipoor is an important place, and is remarkable at a distance for its handsome ghauts. Here stands a pretty monument erected to the memory of Lord Cornwallis, who conquered Tippoo Saib in 1790. Very near is a large establishment for training horses, which is said to turn out remarkably fine ones. But Ghazipoor is most remarkable for its enormous rose-fields, and the rose-water and attar prepared here. The latter is obtained in the following manner:—

Upon forty pounds of roses, with the calixes, sixty pounds of water are poured, and the whole is distilled over a slow fire. From this, about thirty pounds of rose-water are obtained. Another forty pounds of roses are again added to this, and, at the utmost, twenty pounds of water distilled off. This is then exposed during the night to the cold air in pans, and in the morning the oil is found swimming upon the surface and is skimmed off. Not more than an ounce and a half of attar, at the utmost, is obtained from eighty pounds of roses. An ounce of true attar costs, even at Ghazipoor, 40 rupees (4 pounds).

At 10 o'clock on the morning of the 28th, we at length reached the holy town of Benares. We anchored near Radschgaht, where coolies and camels were ready to receive us.

Before taking leave of the Ganges, I must remark that, during the whole journey of about a thousand miles, I did not meet with a single spot remarkable for its especial beauty, or one picturesque view. The banks are either flat or bounded by layers of earth ten or twenty feet in height, and, further inland, sandy plains alternate with plantations or dried-up meadows and miserable jungles. There are, indeed, a great number of towns and villages, but, with the exception of occasional handsome houses and the ghauts, they are composed of a collection of huts. The river itself is frequently divided into several branches, and is sometimes so broad that it resembles a sea rather than a river, for the banks are scarcely visible.

Benares is the most sacred town of India. It is to the Hindoos what Mecca is to the Mahomedans, or Rome to the Catholics. The belief of the Hindoos in its holiness is such that, according to their opinion, every man will be saved who remains twenty-four hours in the town, without reference to his religion. This noble toleration is one of the finest features in the religion and character of this people, and puts to shame the prejudices of many Christian sects.

The number of pilgrims amounts annually to 300,000 or 400,000, and the town is one of the most wealthy in the country, through their trading, sacrifices, and gifts.

This may not be an improper place to make some remarks upon the religion of these interesting people, which I extract from Zimmerman's "Handbook of Travels."

"The foundation of the Hindoo faith is the belief in a superior primitive being, immortality, and a reward of virtue. The chief idea of God is so great and beautiful, its moral so pure and elevated, that its equal has not been found among any other people.

"Their creed is to worship the highest Being, to invoke their guardian gods, to be well-disposed towards their fellow-men, to pity the unfortunate and help them, to bear patiently the inconveniences of life, not to lie or break their word, to read the sacred histories and to give heed to them, not to talk much, to fast, pray, and to bathe at stated periods. These are the general duties which the sacred writings of the Hindoos enforce, without exception, upon all castes or sects.

"Their true and only god is called 'Brahma,' which must not be confounded with Brahma who was created by the former, who is the true, eternal, holy, and unchangeable light of all time and space. The wicked are punished and the good rewarded.

"Out of the Eternal Being proceeded the goddess Bhavani, i.e., Nature, and a host of 1,180 million spirits. Among these there are three demi-gods or superior spirits, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, the Hindoo Trinity, called by them Trimurti.

"For a long time, happiness and content prevailed; but they afterwards revolted, and many gave up their allegiance. The rebels were cast down from on high into the pit of darkness. Hereupon succeeded the transmigration of souls; every animal and every plant was animated by one of the fallen angels, and the remarkable amiability of the Hindoos towards animals is owing to this belief. They look upon them as their fellow-creatures, and will not put any of them to death.

"The Hindoo reverences the great purpose of nature, the production of organized bodies, in the most disinterested and pious manner. Everything tending to this end is to him venerable and holy, and it is in this respect alone that he worships the Lingam.

"It may be affirmed, that the superstitions of this creed have only gradually become an almost senseless delusion through corruption and misunderstanding.

"In order to judge of the present state of their religion, it will be sufficient to describe the figures of a few of their chief deities.

"Brahma, as the creator of the world, is represented with four human heads and eight hands; in one hand he holds the scriptures, in the others, various idols. He is not worshipped in any temple, having lost this prerogative on account of his ambitious desire to find out the Supreme Being. However, after repenting of his folly, it was permitted that the Brahmins might celebrate some festivals in his honour, called Poutsche.

"Vishnu, as the maintainer of the world, is represented in twenty- one different forms:—Half fish half man, as tortoise, half lion half man, Buddha, dwarf, etc. The wife of Vishnu is worshipped as the goddess of fruitfulness, plenty, and beauty. The cow is considered sacred to her.

"Shiva is the destroyer, revenger, and the conqueror of Death. He has, therefore, a double character, beneficent or terrible; he rewards or punishes. He is generally hideously represented, entirely surrounded by lightning, with three eyes, the largest of which is in the forehead; he has also eight arms, in each of which he holds something.

"Although these three deities are equal, the religion of the Hindoos is divided into only two sects—the worshippers of Vishnu and those of Shiva. Brahma has no peculiar sect, since he is denied temples and pagodas; however, the whole priestly caste—the Brahmins—may be considered as his worshippers, since they affirm that they proceeded from his head.

"The worshippers of Vishnu have on their foreheads a red or yellowish painted sign of the Jani; the Shiva worshippers, the sign of the Lingam, or an obelisk, triangle, or the sun.

"333,000,000 subordinate deities are recognised. They control the elements, natural phenomena, the passions, acts, diseases, etc. They are represented in different forms and having all kinds of attributes.

"There are also genii, good and evil spirits. The number of the good exceeds that of the bad by about 3,000,000.

"Other objects are also considered sacred by the Hindoos, as rivers, especially the Ganges, which is believed to have been formed from the sweat of Shiva. The water of the Ganges is so highly esteemed, that a trade is carried on in it for many miles inland.

"Among animals, they chiefly look upon the cow, ox, elephant, ape, eagle, swan, peacock, and serpent, as sacred; among plants, the lotus, the banana, and the mango-tree.

"The Brahmins have an especial veneration for a stone, which is, according to Sonnerat, a fossil ammonite in slate.

"It is in the highest degree remarkable that there is no representation of the Supreme Being to be found in all Hindostan. The idea appears too great for them; they consider the whole earth as his temple, and worship him under all forms.

"The adherents of Shiva bury their dead; the others either burn them or throw them into the river."

No one can form an accurate idea of India who has not gone beyond Calcutta. This city has become almost European. The palaces, the equipages are European; there are societies, balls, concerts, promenades, almost the same as in Paris or London; and if it was not for the tawny natives in the streets, and the Hindoo servants in the houses, a stranger might easily forget that he was in a foreign country.

It is very different in Benares. The Europeans are isolated there; foreign customs and manners everywhere surround them, and remind them that they are tolerated intruders. Benares contains 300,000 inhabitants, of which scarcely 150 are Europeans.

The town is handsome, especially when seen from the river side, where its defects are not observed. Magnificent rows of steps, built of colossal stones, lead up to the houses and palaces, and artistically built gateways. In the best part of the town, they form a continuous line two miles in length. These steps cost enormous sums of money, and a large town might have been built with the stones employed for them.

The handsome part of the town contains a great number of antique palaces, in the Moorish, Gothic, and Hindoo styles, many of which are six stories high. The gates are most magnificent, and the fronts of the palaces and houses are covered with masterly arabesques and sculptured work; the different stories are richly ornamented with fine colonnades, verandahs, balconies, and friezes. The windows alone did not please me; they were low, small, and seldom regularly arranged. All the houses and palaces have very broad sloping roofs and terraces. The innumerable temples afford a proof of the wealth and piety of the inhabitants of this town. Every Hindoo in good circumstances has a temple in his house, i.e., a small tower, which is frequently only twenty feet high.

The Hindoo temples consist properly of a tower thirty or sixty feet in height, without windows, and having only a small entrance. They appear, especially at a distance, very striking and handsome, as they are either artistically sculptured or richly covered with projecting ornaments, such as pinnacles, small columns, pyramids, leaves, niches, etc.

Unfortunately, many of these beautiful buildings are in ruins. The Ganges here and there undermines the foundations, and palaces and temples sink into the soft earth or fall entirely down. Miserable little huts are in some places built upon these ruins, and disfigure the fine appearance of the town, for even the ruins themselves are still beautiful.

At sunrise, a spectacle is to be seen at the river which has not its counterpart in the world. The pious Hindoos come here to perform their devotions; they step into the river, turn towards the sun, throw three handsful of water upon their heads, and mutter their prayers. Taking into account the large population which Benares contains, besides pilgrims, it will not be exaggeration to say that the daily number of devotees amounts, on the average, to 50,000 persons. Numbers of Brahmins sit in small kiosks, or upon blocks of stone on the steps, close to the water's edge, to receive the charity of the wealthy, and grant them absolution in return.

Every Hindoo must bathe at least once in the day, and particularly in the morning; if he is pious and has time, he repeats the ceremony again in the evening. The women bathe at home.

At the time of the festival called Mala, when the concourse of pilgrims is innumerable, the steps are crowded with masses of human beings, and the river appears as if covered with black spots from the number of the bathers' heads.

The interior of the city is far less handsome than that portion which extends along the Ganges. It contains many palaces; but these have not the same beautiful gateways, colonnades, and verandahs as those already described. Many of these buildings are covered with fine cement, and others are painted with miserable frescoes.

The streets are for the most part both dirty and ugly, and many of them are so narrow, that there is scarcely room for a palanquin to pass. At the corner of almost every house stands the figure of the god Shiva.

Among the temples in the town, the handsomest is the "Bisvishas:" it has two towers connected by colonnades, with their summits covered with golden plates. The temple is surrounded by a wall, but we were allowed to enter the fore-court, and to go as far as the entrance. We saw inside several images of Vishnu and Shiva, wreathed with flowers, and strewn over with grains of rice, wheat, etc. Small bulls of metal or stone stood in the porch, and living white bulls (of which I counted eight) wandered about at liberty. The latter are considered sacred, and are allowed to roam where they please, and are not prevented from satisfying their hunger with even the sacrificial flowers and corn.

These sacred animals do not remain in the temples only—they wander about the streets; and the people turn reverently out of their way, and frequently give them fodder. They do not, however, allow them to eat the corn exposed for sale, as was formerly the case. If one of the sacred animals happen to die, it is either thrown into the river or burnt. They receive in this respect the same honour as the Hindoos themselves.

In the temple, there were men and women who had brought flowers, with which they decorated the images. Some of them also laid a piece of money under the flowers. They then sprinkled them over with Ganges' water, and strewed rice and other corn about.

Near the temple are the most holy places in the town, namely—the so-called "holy well" and the Mankarnika, a large basin of water. The following anecdote is told of the former:—

When the English had conquered Benares, they planted a cannon before the entrance of the temple to destroy the image of the god Mahadeo. The Brahmins, greatly indignant at this, instigated the people to revolt, and they hastened in numerous crowds to the temple. The English, to prevent a disturbance, said to the people: "If your god is stronger than the Christian God, the balls will not hurt him; but if not, he will be broken to pieces." Of course; the latter was the result. The Brahmins, however, did not give up their cause, but declared that they had seen the spirit of their god leave the idol before the cannon was fired, and plunge into the spring near at hand. From this time the spring was considered sacred.

The Mankarnika is a deep basin, paved with stone, about sixty feet long, and of equal breadth; broad steps lead from the four sides into the water. A similar tradition, but connected with the god Shiva, is attached to this place. Both deities are said to have continued to reside in these waters down to the present day. Every pilgrim who visits Benares must, on his arrival, bathe in this holy pool, and, at the same time, make a small offering. Several Brahmins are always present to receive these gifts. They are in no way distinguished by their dress from the bulk of the better classes, but the colour of their skin is clearer, and many of them have very noble features.

Fifty paces from this pool, on the banks of the Ganges, stands a remarkably handsome Hindoo temple, with three towers. Unfortunately, the ground sunk in a few years since, and the towers were thrown out of their proper position: one inclines to the right and the other to the left; the third is almost sunk into the Ganges.

Among the thousand of other temples, there is here and there one which is worth the trouble of a cursory inspection, but I would not advise any one to go much out of their way on their account. The place for burning the dead is very near the holy pool. When we went there, they were just roasting a corpse—the mode of burning cannot be described by any other name, the fire was so small, and the corpse projected over on all sides.

Among the other buildings, the Mosque Aurang Zeb is most worthy of the notice of travellers. It is famous on account of its two minarets, which are 150 feet high, and are said to be the slenderest in the world. They look like two needles, and certainly are more deserving of the name than that of Cleopatra at Alexandria. Narrow winding staircases in the interior lead to the top, upon which a small platform, with a balustrade a foot high, is erected. It is fortunate for those who are not subject to dizziness. They can venture out, and take a bird's-eye view of the endless sea of houses, and the innumerable Hindoo temples; the Ganges also, with its step quays, miles long, lies exposed below. I was told that on very clear, fine days, a distant chain of mountains was perceivable— the day was fine and clear, but I could not see the mountains.

The observatory is a very remarkable and artistic building. It was built by Dscheising, under the intelligent Emperor Akbar, more than two centuries since. There are no ordinary telescopes to be found there: all the instruments are constructed of massive blocks of stone. Upon a raised terrace, to which stone steps lead, stand circular tables, semicircular and quadratic curves, etc. which are covered with signs, writing, and lines. With these instruments, the Brahmins made, and still make, their observations and calculations. We met with several Brahmins busily engaged with calculations and written treatises.

Benares is on the whole the chief seat of Indian learning. Among the Brahmins, 6,000 in number, I was told there were many who give instruction in astronomy, Sanscrit, and other scientific subjects.

The sacred apes are another of the curiosities of Benares. Their principal location is upon some of the immense mango-trees in the suburbs of Durgakund. The animals seemed as if they knew we had come to see them, for they approached quite close to us; but when the servant, whom I had sent for some food for them, returned, and called them to him, it was amusing to see the merry creatures come running from the trees, the roofs of the houses, and the streets. We were in a moment closely surrounded by several hundreds, who fought together in the most comical manner for the fruits and grain. The largest or oldest acted as commander. Wherever there was quarrelling, he rushed in, and commenced thrashing the combatants, threatening them with his teeth, and making a muttering sound, upon which they immediately separated. It was the largest and most comical party of monkeys I ever saw. They were generally more than two feet high, and their skins were a dirty yellow colour.

My kind host took me one day to Sarnath (five miles from Benares), where there are some interesting ruins of three remarkably massive towers. They are not particularly high, and stand upon three artificially raised mounds, a mile distant from each other. Both the mounds and towers are constructed of large bricks. The largest of these towers is still covered in many places with stone slabs, on which traces of arabesques are here and there visible. Numbers of slabs lie scattered about the ground. There are no signs of any such covering on the remaining towers. In each there is a small door and a single apartment.

Excavations were commenced beneath these towers by the English government in the hope of making some discoveries which would throw light upon the origin of these buildings; but nothing was found beyond an empty underground vault.

There is a lake close by of artificial construction, which is supplied with water from the Ganges by a canal.

There is a very singular tradition connected with these towers and the lake. "In very ancient times three brothers ruled here, who were giants, and had these buildings erected and the lake excavated, and all in one day. It must, however, be known that a day at that time was equal to two years of modern reckoning. The giants were so tall that they could go from one tower to the other with a step, and the reason these were built so close was their fondness for each other, and their desire to be always together."

An indigo plantation in the neighbourhood, the first I ever saw, was not less interesting to me than these towers and their singular tradition. The indigo plant is herbaceous, and from one to three feet high, with delicate bluish-green leaves. The harvest is generally in August; the plants are cut tolerably low on the principal stem, tied together in bundles, and thrown into large wooden vats. Planks are laid on the tops of the bundles weighted with stones, and water poured on them; generally after sixteen hours, though sometimes after several days, according to the character of the water, fermentation commences. This is the principal difficulty, and everything depends upon its continuance for the proper time. When the water has acquired a dark-green colour, it is transferred to other wooden vessels, lime added, and the whole stirred with wooden spades until a blue deposit takes place. After being allowed to settle, the water is poured off, and the substance remaining behind is put into long linen bags through which the moisture filters. As soon as the indigo is dry, it is broken in pieces and packed.

Shortly before my departure I had the pleasure of being presented to the Rajah through the aid of my fellow-traveller, Mr. Law. He resides in the Citadel Rhamnughur, which lies on the left bank of the Ganges, above the town.

A handsomely ornamented boat awaited us at the bank of the river, and on the other side a palanquin. We soon found ourselves at the entrance of the palace, the gateway of which is lofty and majestic. I expected to have been gratified in the interior by the sight of spacious courts and a handsome style of architecture, but found only irregular courts and small unsymmetrical apartments, destitute of all taste and luxury. In one of the courts was a plain-columned hall on the level of the ground, which served as a reception-room. This hall was overcrowded with glass lustres, lamps, and European furniture; on the walls were some miserable pictures, framed and glazed. Outside was a swarm of servants, who gazed at us with great attention. Presently the prince made his appearance, accompanied by his brother, and some courtiers and attendants, who could scarcely be distinguished the one from the other.

The two princes were very richly dressed; they wore wide trousers, long under and short over garments, all made of satin, embroidered with gold. The elder one, aged thirty-five, wore short silk cuffs, embroidered with gold, the edge set with diamonds; he had several large brilliant rings on his finger, and his silk shoes were covered with beautiful gold embroidery. His brother, a youth of nineteen, whom he had adopted, {170} wore a white turban with a costly clasp of diamonds and pearls. He had large pearls hanging from his ears, and rich massive bracelets on his wrists. The elder prince was a handsome man, with exceedingly amiable and intellectual features; the younger one pleased me far less.

We had scarcely seated ourselves, when a large silver basin with elaborately worked nargillys were brought, and we were invited to smoke. We declined this honour, and the prince smoked alone; he took only a few whiffs from the same nargilly, which was then replaced by another handsomer one.

The behaviour of the princes was very decorous and lively. I regretted that we could communicate only through an interpreter. He inquired whether I had ever seen a Natsch (festival dance). On my answering that I had not, he immediately ordered one to be performed.

In half an hour two female dancers and three musicians appeared. The dancers were dressed in gay gold-embroidered muslin, wide silk trousers, embroidered with gold, which reached to the ground, and quite covered their bare feet. One of the musicians played upon two small drums, the other two on four-stringed instruments, similar to our violins. They stood close behind the dancers, and played without melody or harmony; the dancers making at the same time very animated motions with their arms, hands, and fingers, more than with their feet, on which they wore silver bells, which they rung at intervals. They made handsome and graceful drapings and figures with their over garments. This performance lasted about a quarter of an hour, after which they accompanied the dance with singing. The two sylphides shrieked so miserably that I was in fear for my ears and nerves.

During the performance, sweetmeats, fruits, and sherbet (a cooling, sweet, acidulated beverage) were handed round.

After the dance was ended, the prince asked if I would like to see his garden, which is a mile distant from the palace. I was indiscreet enough to accept his offer.

In company with the young prince we proceeded to the front square of the palace, where elegantly ornamented elephants stood ready. The elder prince's favourite elephant, an animal of uncommon size and beauty, was destined for myself and Mr. Law. A scarlet canopy, with tassels, fringes, and gold embroidered lace, nearly covered the whole animal. A convenient seat was placed upon his broad back, which might be compared to a phaeton without wheels. The elephant was made to kneel down, a ladder was placed against his side, and Mr. Law and myself took our places. Behind us sat a servant, who held an enormously large umbrella over our heads. The driver sat upon the neck of the animal, and pricked it now and then between the ears with a sharp-pointed iron rod.

The young prince, with his attendant and servants, took their places upon the other elephants. Several officers on horseback rode at our side, two soldiers with drawn sabres ran in front of the party to clear the way, and upwards of a dozen soldiers, also with drawn sabres, surrounded us, while a few mounted soldiers brought up the rear.

Although the motion of the elephant is quite as jolting and unpleasant as that of the camel, this truly Indian ride afforded me great pleasure.

When we had arrived at the garden, the young prince seemed by his proud look to ask whether we were not charmed with its magnificence. Our delight was unfortunately assumed, for the garden was far too plain to deserve much praise. In the back-ground of the garden stands a somewhat ruinous royal summer palace.

As we were about leaving the garden, the gardener brought us some beautiful nosegays and delicious fruits—a custom universal in India.

Outside the garden was a very large water-basin, covered with handsome blocks of stone; broad steps led up to the water, and at the corner stood beautiful kiosks, ornamented with tolerably well- executed reliefs.

The Rajah of Benares receives from the English government an annual pension of one lac, that is, 100,000 rupees (10,000 pounds). He is said to receive as much more from his property, and nevertheless to be very much in debt. The causes of this are his great extravagance in clothes and jewellery, his numerous wives, servants, horses, camels, and elephants, etc. I was told that the prince has forty wives, about a thousand servants and soldiers, a hundred horses, fifty camels, and twenty elephants.

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