I must note the afternoon of this delightful day, though noting these "first impressions" of India seems rather a big order; for each day seems so full of delightfully new experience, and fascinating sights, that I am sure you see in one day here—at least a nouveau does—more interesting things than one could in a week in Europe.
... Our civil servant friend, who paints like Sam Bough, asked us to see his bungalow on the Adyar River, also to look at sketches. We drove three miles on a broad road under banyan trees and palms with patches of corn and native huts, and an occasional bright dress and brass bowl of a woman showing between the dark stems, and pulled up at half-a-dozen bungalows by mistake, and left cards at others, to the owners of which we had introductions, and after a considerable hunt turned up at the bungalow we aimed at. Here were open views, in front the Adyar River and the many-arched Elphinston Bridge, and palm groves, and down the river to the left, the sand bar across its mouth, and to the right views of the river's many windings in palm groves. Such a place, with the feeling of the sea being within reach, would make me, I think, tolerate living in Madras for a little. We had a great causerie over pictures of home scenes, and of many places in India. Then we got into a double-scull Thames boat and slipped away down towards the bar with wind and current—extremely delightful, I thought it, getting into such a well-appointed boat on such a pretty piece of river. As we sailed fish played round us; some, like bream or silvery perch, skipped out of the water in a series of leaps like miniature penguins! The wind fell and we rowed, down to the sand spit and heard the surf on the other side and got out and felt that we were at last actually on "India's Coral Strand." There were pretty delicately coloured shells, and here and there a pale pink convolvulus growing low, with grey-green leaves. The river just managed to cut its way through the sand-bar into the surf; beyond it, three or four miles to the north, we could see the two spires in Madras above the palms, St Thome's and St Mary's in the Fort; to the south-west, the sand and palms and the line of surf stretched in perspective till they faded together on the horizon.
As the sun got low the sky became gorgeous red—what tropical colour there was—the hard sand flushed and paled, yellow to brown in a long waving ribband at the edge of the receeding wave, then turned lavender laced with dull foam, as the first of the following breakers came running up, wetting the sand again to renew the golden glow. The outer sea and the horizon were purple and the white of the surf seemed almost green against the orange and red of the sky. Our friends told me they often came to this beach; and as they are artists, that is not to be wondered at: and I suppose some Madras people occasionally come down the river from the boat club a mile or two above, to picnic. I saw two men in flannels and two ladies—very fair ladies they were too—in the flattering twilight; when a white dress turns the colour of a violet shell, and muslins die like a dream into the soft colours of the sand, and pale faces flush with the golden glow of the setting sun. We lost no pity on those exiles and their wandering on this foreign strand. A native or two passed; nice and easy it is for them getting along the coast to Madras! They just walked up the river a few yards and walked in, swam across and down stream, waded out on the far side, and never as much as shook themselves.
We shoved off again when the sky was positively burning with colour, hoisted our sail, and with a light sea breeze went up river towards the darkening groves of palms, guiding ourselves by the afterglow and the glint of a new moon, and lights from the few bungalows on shore.
As we sail we plan to return some day and do up one of these old Arabian Night bungalows. They look almost palatial with their terraces and flight of steps from the river and white pillars showing in the pale moonlight with dark palms and trees over them. They at the same time suggest something of Venice, and of the Far East. They would need repair, but rents are low.
It gets darker and we have difficulty in picking up marks—first the rock on our right from which we go dead across stream, to the high palm just visible against the night sky; then up stream a bit, and across to avoid shoals. We row, for the wind has fallen away. Every now and then our blades touch gravel, and twice we go right aground and have to shove off. Fish jump round us; two come in forward, pretty little silvery fellows with a potent smell of herring, one big fellow surges nearly ashore. As the boat-house and club lights appear we go hard and fast on to a bank, and a native wayfarer fording the river in the dark, whom we mistake for a Club servant expecting us, is ordered to shove us off, which he does and goes on his way without a word—"the gentle Hindoo" again.
The Club boat-house is a perfect treat! By the lamplight I am sure I saw a score of double sculls, sixes, and possibly eights, and skiffs and punts—all sorts of river boats, and as far as I could see, all in order; the men who have both such a Club and boat-house are to be envied. The Club-house was a dream of white Georgian architecture, veiled in moonlight amongst great trees and palms. There were high silvery white pillars (Madras is famous for its marble white stucco) and terraces and wide steps and yellow light coming from tall open jalousies under verandahs. Winding paths led up to it, and along one of these we followed a native, who swung a lamp near the ground in case of snakes. In the Club were rooms for dining, reading, and dancing, all in the same perfect Georgian style.
I would have liked to stay, to see the dance that was going to begin, but it was late, and we were in flannels, and were three miles from home. The ball-room was entirely to my taste, an oval, with white pillars round it reflected in a light-coloured polished floor, overhead a domed roof with chrystal chandeliers, and smaller crystal lights round the sides.
On the road home we met motors, dog-carts, and men and ladies going to the dance; the motor dust here is twenty times thicker than at home; for half-a-mile after you pass a motor you see nothing—can't open your eyes in fact—then came a series of Rembrandts, in wayside lamplit stalls, and home to mosquitoes and late dinner.
31st December, Sunday.—Spent forenoon writing letters and working up sketches, and to make all smooth went to two churches and two temples in the afternoon; a fairly good ending to the year. The first temple, a pile of architecture of debased wedding-cake style, thick with innumerable elastic-legged, goggled-eyed, beastly, indecent Hindoo divinities. Thence to a Roman Catholic church in St Thome, the old Portuguese quarter—very pretty and simple in appearance. The half near the altar full of veiled European nuns in white and buff dresses. Nearer the door, where we sat, were native women and children, mostly in red, a few of them with antique European black bonnets and clothes; and in their withered old faces you could imagine a strain of the early Portuguese settlers. The altar was, as usual, in colours to suit the simple mind; the Madonna in blue and white and gold with a sweet expression of youth and maternity, her cheeks were like china, and she dandled the sweetest little red-haired baby in a nest of gold rays, all against a rocky background. How telling the fair Viking type of baby must be to these little black-eyed, wondering worshippers, far more fascinating and wonderful, I am sure, than their miraculous six-armed gods. There were real roses too, such numbers of them, and altogether a good deal of somewhat gim-crack effect, but the whole appealed to me, for at least the idea of material beauty was recognised, and for a minute I forgot all the ugliness (= Evil) that our churches have caused, and the good (= Beauty) they have destroyed, and bowed and crossed myself like my neighbours. Then we drove to another church near the sea, St Thomes. The bones of St Thomas of the New Testament are said to be buried here. We only looked into it; it was finely built, and inside at the moment was almost as empty as a Protestant church on a week-day. There was but one devotee, a black woman, confessing to a half-black man. We shuddered and escaped, and drove a few yards and saw "The seas that mourn, in flowing purple of their Lord forlorn,"—the wide long stretch north and south of white sand, and the log surf rafts, and the dark fishermen going up and down on the blue swell—and didn't we draw a breath of relief of God's pure air.
There was a log craft at the surf edge, with a kid playing beside it, his reflection perfect in the long backwash. His father talked in a strange tongue to me, and I looked at the swell and considered, and saw black men out beyond the surf, and none of them apparently drowned, or in fear of sharks, so I left shoes and socks with G. and our coachman to look after her, and the syce to look after the carriage, and tucked up trousers and away we went together, my heart in my mouth! What joy—bang into and over the first breaker. I'd nearly to stand upright to keep my waist dry, and down and up again—the movement quick and exhilarating; over two other breakers and we were away on the open rollers, and able to look round to the distant shore, where G. sat with my sketch-book and a gallery of brown figures. We paddled along to another craft out at sea that had pulled up its net. Two men were in it, and we made fast to it till they cleared the fish out of the net, and we took them in a matting bag on to our raft, where the water washed over them, and we took them ashore. It was curious to see how neatly and ably these men could haul a net and clear it of fish on four submerged logs—they could move about, stand and walk from one end of the logs to the other with freedom. With the net on board the logs were almost entirely submerged. Running ashore is the most sporting part of the procedure; we paddled along slanting towards the beach, waiting for the ninth wave to pass, then went straight for the sand for all we were worth, and got in in great style; I must say I nearly lost my balance landing, there were so many natives wading out to bear a hand that my eye wandered—but what a craft for the purpose! I vow no boat I ever saw of the size could come on to hard sand with such a surf behind and not break and throw you out. It is really a sport with a capital S, though, as far as I can hear, white people don't go in for it, perhaps because it is said—on what authority I do not know—that the sharks prefer white people to the natives! The natives who swim in the surf apparently are not touched by them, yet you see no Europeans bathing on what I should think would be a delightful shore for bathing once you had got accustomed to diving through the surf. If I go surf-logging again I will take a change of trousers—Got on shoes, the natives standing three deep to see the Sahib get sand off his feet, extremely curious but quite polite. The rupee I gave my man pleased him very much, and the others all wanted to take me out again, or at least to have a rupee too. They were a nicer, bolder-looking lot of men than those in the town by a very long chalk.
We then went to another temple that was also worth seeing. There is a tank near it that would be beautiful, but for a monumentally ugly iron railing that has recently been put round it. It is distinctly British—who on earth did it? We were fortunate, for just before coming to the tank and temple, a christening party of Hindoos in their best clothes, with yellow flowers in black hair, and priests with long chanters and tom-toms playing, came out of some houses as we were passing. In a loosely formed procession they proceeded very slowly to the temple, the principals in a closed brougham in the middle. It was just like one of Tadema's pictures on the move—barring the brougham! The players led the way in white, with the dark wood chanters mounted with silver bells and mouthpieces, and made music with a little of the twang of our pipe chanter, but without the continuity and lift or crisp grace-notes. Young girls, with their faces tinted yellow with saffron, followed in dull red dresses. Behind the procession were classical-looking houses, and over these appeared palms and banyan trees; but in the middle was the prosaic old Waler, and the hired brougham, which was very distressing, for otherwise the subject was evidently "artistic," and combined just the proportions of sentiment and positive colour, which would have insured for its faithful depiction, a warm reception at any of our Royal Academical Exhibitions—the man in the street could see that!
Then home by the wide Marina, and the promenading Eurasians, and well-to-do traders in carriages. The official people must all be at the Club and Gymkhana, or at Church. For choice I like the beach in the morning, the wide sweep of ocean, the full sun on the endless sandy shores, and the solitude.
This is a jotting, reduced by reproduction, of a native fishing in the surf—all that I have "creeled" to-day.
... By Jove—it's ten minutes to the New Year—time to think of our friends and relations, who will be sitting down to lunch and thinking of us; and toasting us for a certainty. So, in the words of the song, of which these are all I know—
"Here's another kind love, Here's another kind love, Here's a health to everybody."
But first we must toast "Relations and Friends," and then "The Memory of the Dead and the Health of the Living," which being done, properly and in order, we may go to the window to hear the bells of St Giles and the cheering at the Cross.... Ah! but it is too far.
1ST JANUARY 1906
We have "seen the New Year in," in a way, perhaps not quite so jollily as at home, but well enough however. And as we went to sleep, we did hear a little cheering, some jovial north country soldiers, I suppose; and the dogs were howling, and the moon shining, and the mosquitoes singing. They got their fill last night—came through a hole in the mosquito curtains, and our raid on them in the morning ended eight of their lives; but we were desperately wounded! G. got eight bites on one hand, which is serious, and means poulticing.
Various natives hung about this morning, and gave us each a lime and many salaams, and we are supposed to return the compliment in coin. It is rather an ingenious plan, and it is a dainty little yellow present, and costs them nothing, and flatters you; at least it does if you are a newcomer, and a very small tip pleases them.
Called at Government House on this first day of A.D. 1906, and signed Lord and Lady Ampthill's great new visitors' volumes. Then we prowled round the Fort, and the Canon of St Mary's kindly left his work and showed us records and plate of the Company days, dated 1698, and some of which was given to the Church by the Governor Yale, afterwards the benefactor of Yale College of the United States of America. We saw Clive's marriage in the church records, with Wellesley's signature, and on the walls of St Mary's church saw the names of many Scots and English and Irish whose bones lie here and there in Indian soil, all lauded for "courage, devotion, and care of their men." Truly, "warlike, manly courage and devotion to duty" seem the flowers that flourish hereaway. We saw the old colours of the Madras Fusiliers, now the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, the first British regiment of the East Indian Company, and in which Sir John Malcolm, Sir Harry Close, and Lord Clive served.
In afternoon went a long rickshaw ride through Blacktown to the North Beach. There saw a number of well dressed Eurasians, boys and girls, paddling so timidly, they let the water come over their toes and no more; also saw a net lifted outside the surf, full of fish like spent herring. What a scramble there was for them on the beach by all classes—what fun and laughter, each one robbing the other. The fish were out of condition and not of market value. I saw one blow struck but it was not returned, the man hit merely looked dreadfully offended, and the jabbering and laughing went on in a second. What a pity it is the railway spoils the north shore—it is the same in Bombay, Dundee, Edinburgh, and Madras, the best parts of our towns sacrificed. I believe if we owned Naples we would put a railway round the Bay.
I had the satisfaction of seeing the surf log-rafts at work again, and also saw one put together. When not in use the logs lie apart, to dry I suppose, and acquire buoyancy. It took not more than eight minutes to pull the four legs into position and string them together. The roping was done with a thin one-inch coir rope quickly and neatly, not so tight as to make all quite rigid. The actual roping took about two minutes. Here is a jotting of the way they are made. The logs at longest are about seventeen feet. It is as well to take note of these sort of things; you never know when your turn at the desert island may come, and young relations have desert islands at home. Or again, such a craft might come in handily in some out-of-the-way Highland or Norwegian loch, with one boat on it, and the trout rising in the middle.
1st January—continued.—This is a terribly long yarn for one day and it is not done yet! We went to the Government House reception in the evening in our best war paint. It is a yearly reception, I believe, given to all and sundry to keep them loyal, the very thing to do it too! and I know another country, north and west, where such shows might have this effect—if it is not too late—Drove there in our hired victoria in the hot dusk, and dust, in a rout of carriages, gharries, rickshaws, dog-carts, and every sort of wheeled craft imaginable; nabobs and nobodies, spry young soldiers in uniform, minus hats, driving ladies in chiffons and laces, natives, civilians, eurasians, now one ahead then the other, till we met in a grand block at the great gates, and then strung out orderly-wise and went on at a walk.
As we drove up the park we saw through great trees with dark foliage, the white banqueting hall with its very wide flights of steps and tall Ionic pillars bathed in moonlight, and closer, found there were two lines of native lancers, in dull red and blue, lined up the centre of the steps. The carriages pulled up three at a time, and the guests went flocking up the steps in the greenish silvery light to the top, where the warm yellow light met them from the interior, also an aide-de-camp as friend and guide to strangers, such as ourselves. Inside all was highly entertaining and splendid, and Western with a good deal of the Orient thrown in—I don't suppose any other country in the world could give a show a patch on this—not even Egypt; the banqueting hall is splendidly large and well proportioned; with white pillars down the sides supporting galleries. At the far end there is a raised dais with red satin and gold couches and chairs, and mirrors and palms; above these, white walls, and the King's portrait in red and blue and framed in gold: and round the sides, under the pillars, are more full-length portraits of Governors and their wives, Lord Elphinstone, Lady Munro, The Marchioness of Tweedale, Wellesley, Napier, and Ettrick, Grant Duff, Connemara, and others. Excepting the King's they all looked rather dark against so much marble-white wall space. Overhead, I am told, there was once a line of crystal chandeliers, which must have given a perfect finish to the room; but these have been improved away for rather insignificant modern lights, and all over the roof are these hideous whirling electric fans which spoil the whole effect of the classic Georgian style—the swinging punkah can at least be good to look at, and even tolerable, if it is far enough off.
 80 feet long, 60 feet broad. Built to commemorate the fall of Seringapatan.
But here is a sketch of what I remember; the guests divided up the room, blacks on one side, whites on the other, whether by accident or by design I know not, I should think and hope by intention. (So sorry this is not reproduced in colour.)
Lord and Lady Ampthill then came in, and preceeded by aides-de-camp in various uniforms, four abreast and at arm's length, marched up the length of the room to the dais, with measured steps, not too short and not too slow—a very effectively carried out piece of ceremony, for the principals suited their parts well. Lord Ampthill is exceptionally tall, he wore a blue Court coat, well set-off by the white knee-breeches and stockings; and Lady Ampthill is taller than other ladies and is very gracious. Perhaps you can make out in my sketch Lord Ampthill on the dais talking to some of the house party, and the tall lady on the right, talking to some of our party may stand for Lady Ampthill, escorted by Major Campbell.
The fireworks after the reception were, in my humble opinion, very fine indeed, but I confess my experience of these displays is extremely limited. The effect was enhanced by the soft colourfulness of the Eastern night, framed by great white arches round the verandah, and the groups beneath these, of ladies, fair, and dark, in soft raiment.
As we came away the wide steps were covered with groups of ladies, officers, and natives, standing and sitting, with arms and jewels, white gloves, silks and laces glittering in moonlight or lost in shadow; above on the terrace the glow of lamps from the hall shone on the last departing guests, and the tall moonlit pillars led the eye up to the blue night sky. I daresay five men out of six would have found the whole show a bore, possibly even more tiresome than this account of it, but our friend and his wife enjoyed it all, for they paint, and see things, which makes all the difference.
2nd January.—Drove to Binney's for last time, and secured tickets to Rangoon. The berths are not allocated till you get on board, a cheerful arrangement: and they are dear! Loafed about harbour watching many cargoes and many people; tried in Blacktown to get women's draperies such as I'd seen in Bangalore and Dharwar, but all we saw were more crude in colour and overdone with patterns—couldn't get the simple blues or reds with yellow or blue margins. Not an eventful day, but in the afternoon we drove again to the sands at the mouth of the Adyar to collect shells and we saw more than we could carry away in memory, watched the crabs scuttling over the sands like mice, and into regular burrows in the sand, collected seeds from various trailing plants, and saw a glorious sunset—someone told me Indian sunsets were poor things! and made a jotting or two, too hasty to be of use to the world in general.
3rd.—Painted, and wrote these notes in spite of mosquitoes and these three times cursed crows.
4th.—Half-an-hour's drive across the town brought us to the harbour, and then we had a hot walk to the end of the wharf. Such a struggle there was at the slip down to the small boats; four or five boats were trying to land natives, and at the same time as many were trying to take passengers and natives off. It would have been impossible for a single lady. The native police in neighbourhood were of no use. I'd have thought British port authorities would have done something better. We rowed out to the steamer in the middle of harbour, our four rowers bucking in for a place, and scrambled on to the ship's gangway, without any attention from anyone on board. Other boats with native passengers trying to scramble over us required a shove and a heave or two on my part to keep them off. I'd made a great effort to secure berths clearly and distinctly at the British India S. S. Agency, made various expeditions to the agents to see that all was right, but when we got to our cabin some young men were also allotted berths in it. They were most polite, but all the same it was uncomfortable for them and for us to have all their belongings moved.
... Four was the hour to sail. Now it is six and no sign of up anchor. But why hurry? There is life enough to study for weeks, the main deck a solid mass of natives, all sitting close as penguins or guillemots, each family party on a tiny portion of deck, with their mats and tins and brass pots beside them, and what a babble! and pungent smell of South Indian humanity.
The sun goes down and Madras resolves itself into a low coast line, purple against streaks of orange and vermilion: some palms and a few chimney stalks break the level of houses and lower trees. The Renown lies near us waiting to go for the Prince to convoy him to Rangoon; its white hull looks green against the orange sunset.
There was nothing but necessity made the old settlers drop anchor here; a bend of the Silvery Cooum gave them slight protection inland, but there was nothing in the way of roads or shelter. The sandy coast is dead straight. They did not know the qualities of the surf at first. Two experienced men were sent ashore from the "Globe" in 1611, and were promptly swamped and one nearly drowned; that was further up this Coromandel coast, when the Company was only beginning to try to find footing here. It was not till 1639 that they bought the land where Madras stands to-day, for the Company. These old fellows coming back to-day from the sea would not see any great change in the appearance of the land; the trail of smoke going levelly south-west from a tall smoke stalk would be the most conspicuous change.
 The Cooum is silvery to look at, but it is by its smell that people remember it.
Two steamers lie near us, just heaving perceptibly, as if breathing before taking the high road. Outside it blows a very little, a warm, damp wind; there will be a roll in the Bay of Bengal and we will head into it, and the natives' jollity will change to moans. I should think the ship's boats in emergency could hold a sixth of them. I hear there are some 2500, the three decks are choked with them fore and aft. Our tiny saloon and cabins are right astern and to port and starboard, and forward of it, are these natives; we are only separated from them by a board or two with a port-holes in it, and, the difference of fare! We pay ninety rupees each to Rangoon and they pay one each; if we open our port we might as well be all together, except that they get the first of the air. Unless we keep the blind pulled, night and day, we are subjected to "their incorrigible stare," which the Portuguese pioneers found so remarkable; their odour and noise is intolerable. For my Boy I've paid twelve rupees, and he has the same deck space as the other natives, that is, barely sufficient room to lie down in. The only deck space we first class passengers have, is above the saloon, where the second class deck is, on the P. & O., a nice enough place if it wasn't overlooked by the natives amidship, and over-smelt by the whole 2500 coolies. Fortunately to-day, the 6th, there's a lovely north-east breeze which takes away some of the monkey-house smell and noise. We count that there are forty natives in each of the two alleyways on either side of our cabins, so eighty rupees (a rupee is 1s. 4d.), less profit to the Company, and we could all have been decently comfortable. But even without moving them, one A.B. told off to keep them quiet would have allowed us to sleep at night.
Sunday morning.—All night, all day, whiffs of pure north-east air, and solid native; alternating, and all the time rising and falling, shouting, singing, arguing, quarrelling.
Heaven be thanked we have a pleasant enough company among ourselves, and the natives don't intrude more than parts of their bodies into the saloon doors and ports when the squeeze at the outside gets very strong, but they gaze stolidly on us at meals through the ports and doors!
It is pleasant enough on deck this Sunday afternoon under the awning. We have a piano in the middle of the deck, and a Captain in the East Yorks is playing—he was one of the men who so politely, in fact anxiously, vacated the cabin he found occupied by a married couple; four men play bridge near us, and as we are not a large company we have all got to know each other—the common infliction of the native crowd makes a bond of sympathy.
A young Englishman beside me is overhauling Madras B. A. Exam, papers, and works hard, so that he may have a clear holiday in Burmah. He hands me some of the papers to read, essays on Edwin Harrison's "Life of Ruskin." They are both funny and pathetic; we laughed at the absurd jumble of ideas in some, and felt sorry that natives should have to study the thoughts and sayings of a man, who, after all, did not himself understand the very simple beauties of a Whistler. Then I dropped on an essay, eight pages foolscap, in scholarly handwriting, with perfect grasp of subject, and concentrated, pithy expression. I could with difficulty accept the assurance that it was written by a Madrassee and not by some famous essayist! So, perhaps, if one Eastern can grasp Ruskin's best thoughts it may be worth the effort of trying to teach thousands who can't? Is it not folly, this anglicising of the Indians, Irish, and Scots by the English schoolmaster, who knows as little of Sanscrit as of Erse Scottis or gaelic; calls England an island! and wishes to teach everyone "The ode to a Skylark," "Silas Marner," and "Tom Browne's Schooldays." (My own dear countrymen you will not be taken in by this chaff for ever, will you?) Why not study Campbells tales in gaelic, or Sir David Lindsay, or the Psalms by Waddell or Barbeurs Bruce.
 Prescribed by Indian university curriculum.
Just to make the groups on deck complete we ought to have children playing, but there are none with us, their route lies always westwards; they would be a pretty foil to the serious restfulness of the deck scene. Now a lady sings "Douglas tender and true," and sings it so well, we could weep were we not so near port; a group in the stern beside the wheel watches a glorious sunset, which fills the space we sit in under the awning with a dull red and across the light a missionary paces, aloof and alone; a melancholy stooping silhouette against the glorious afterglow—to and fro—to and fro—a lanky, long-haired youth, his hands behind his back, looking into his particular future, a life devoted to convert the gracious, charitable followers of Gautauma Buddha to—his reading of Christ's simple teaching.
January 7th.—We danced—I danced with ladies in Gainsborough hats, their feathers tickling my eye, in pork pie hats, and Watteaus, and picture hats like sparrows' nests; and there were little dumpy ladies and tall, stately, Junos, i.e., compared with Eastern women. And it was so funny to see men in suits of blue serge, tweeds, or tussore silk, whirling round with ladies in muslins of every lovely colour. If the men had only worn bowlers and smoked cigars, how it would have taken me back to student days in Antwerp at Carnival time, not so jolly of course, but very different from anything at home. And how stately are the club-rooms—really they are well off these relations of ours "Out East"—don't believe their groans altogether! it is hot now, they say, but look at the fun they have, especially ladies. There are ladies' billiard-rooms, card-rooms, music-rooms, reading-rooms inside, and outside, lawns and flowers and attendants to fetch and carry, and swains to admire them, and they have latest dresses, dances, balls, riding, tennis all the time, and Royalties and Viceroys at intervals. Compare this to the humdrum life of our women in Scotland with their brothers and cousins, "A wede awa" to the uttermost ends of the Empire, and never a Viceroy or Royalty of any description to show above their level horizon—that is intolerable.
Then home to dinner, very full of interest and wonder at the sights of the day, and scribbled the above dance scene, and dressed and walked over the way in the soft dust in the soft moonlight and dined with friends and relations, and talked in the dark teak-wood bungalow of other friends and relations and home things, and looked at curios and sketches; and little lizards looked out at us from the walls, and a huge piebald fellow up in the shadows of the wooden roof, a foot and a half long if an inch, a Chuck-Tu, didn't frighten our hosts in the least! Then across the strip of moonlit, to sleep my lone, under the hospitable teak roof-trees of "a Binning!"
Here there seems to be a hiatus in these notes of mine—it is rather a jump from the British India steamer to a Gymkhana dance? But such a break gives relief to the mind, and has sometimes even a dramatic effect. I have twice observed such breaks in journals; the first in Edinburgh, in the journal of the City Clerk. The break occurs when the Provost and Clerk lay cold on Floddon Field, and the entries are taken up in a new hand with a minute which begins—"Owing to a rumour of a disaster in the south." The second break, I saw the other day in the Madras records. It occured when the French called at Fort George in 1746. The break in my journal is simply the result of yesterday being so full of interest that I did not write up till this forenoon, after a pause for rest and refreshment.
So to hark back. The landing at Rangoon and coming up the river was the best part of the journey from Madras. For descriptions of coming up the Rangoon river see other writers. G. and I had been kept awake for several nights by the natives and finally had to shut our port and snatched an hour or two of sleep without air so as to be without noise,—this after various expeditions to try and quiet the beasts outside, but nothing but drowning would have stopped their horrid exuberance.
 Native in Burmah stands for native of India, not a Burman.
The peace that you feel in Iona seemed to lie over the country as we came up the Rangoon river.
The Golden Pagoda stands up very simply and beautifully above the flat country, and beneath it palms and ship's masts look very lowly things indeed. It seems a perfect conductor of thought from earth to sky; the gentle concave curves of its sides are more natural lines of repose than those of our challenging spires. I had been prepared for little—pictures and photographs have dwarfed the thing—they do not give the firmness and delicacy in form and the sentiment that it inspires. It is like the Burmans religion; there's a sense of happiness in the way its wide gold base amongst nestling green palms and foliage of trees gradually contracts till the point rises quietly against the blue and fleecy clouds, where the glint of gold and flash from jewels seems to unite heaven and earth.
The spire is 372 feet, two feet higher than St Paul's, but the terrace from which it rises is 166 feet from the level of the ground, and as lower Burmah is very flat, it is visible twenty-two miles from Rangoon.
It was unmitigatedly hot when we got from the tender to the wharf. Relatives who met us said it was their hottest weather, so we hugged the shade. But this was unseasonable, it ought to be fairly cool at the time of year. We drove in gharries a mile or two to the bungalow, through crowds of natives of India—how ugly they look compared with the Burmese! Though why one should compare them at all is beyond reason, for the Burman is to an Indian as a Frenchman to a Hottentot.
After dividing ourselves and baggage between two bungalows on either side of Tank Road, we drove with Mrs E. to see the lake and her favourite views of the Pagoda; and—I was about to contradict myself! Have I not said India was the most perfectly fascinating country for picturesque scenes of people and streets, and trees and parks and colour! Now, I withdraw; for Burmah puts India quite in the shade!
So you, my artist friends, who have no Academical leanings (you are few), come here, right away, though you have to work your passage on a B.I., or have even to travel first on that line as we did! You can come direct by the Henderson line for L36, sailing from Glasgow or Liverpool—L36 for a month on the blue sea, on a comfortable ship with lots of deck-room. This line gives specially reduced fares for bona-fide missionaries, so artists should be taken free—over page is one of their liners.
In Madras I saw Mr Talbot Kellie's book on Burmah and thought Burmah had been "done," and it was futile for other artists to try to paint anything new there. But thanks be, we are each given our own way of seeing things, though perhaps not the same patience to put them down; so when I saw the wide stairs and the arcades up to the Pagoda, and the terrace or platform from which it rises, it was new as could be to me, and as if it had never been painted or described before.
Here follow notes I see about painting—much talk and little done, owing to the novelty and variety of sights, and the relaxing damp warmth of the climate. The mean temperature yesterday was 90 deg. with damp air and a stuffy, thunderous feeling and the dust hanging in the air under bilious looking clouds, which made people talk of earthquakes—we perspire, we melt—we run away in rivers, and our own particular temperature is 100 deg.. How annoying to feel unfit to paint when there is so much to do at hand.... Started fairly early this morning for the Pagoda, and sat outside it in a gharry pulled up opposite the entrance porch and steps. It takes courage to attempt to sketch such a scene of shifting beauty! These architectural details, carvings in gold and colour, ought to be ground at till the whole is got by heart—then brush and colour let go, with a prayer to the saints.
The "gharry" makes an excellent perambulating studio—it is a small, high, wooden cab, with little lattice shutters instead of glass which pull up all round so that you can let down those you need for view, aft or forward, or at either side, and pull up the others and thus have privacy and light and air, and you need no stove or hot pipes, for you could roast a partridge inside!
A "native" policeman ("a native," be it clearly understood, in Burmah stands for a native of India) hovered round as if he thought my stopping in mid-street opposite the Pagoda porch might be his affair, but my Boy explained on this occasion that I was a "Collector," why, I do not know; however it had the desired effect, but it seemed to me rather a drop from his usual title of Chief Justice to a mere Collector.
It grew so hot! and then hotter, and the picturesque flower sellers on the eleven white steps outside put their white torch cheroots into their mouths—you could see neither red ash nor smoke in such light—folded their parasols and took their roses and baskets and went up the steps and sat themselves down in the porch in the shade and were as pretty as ever—Tadema's best pictures on the move!
Through the Arabesque wood carvings of the arcade roof, away up the flight of steps, shafts of light came through brown fretted teak-wood and fell on gold or lacquered vermilion pillars and touched the stall-holders and their bright wares in the shadows on either side of the steps, and lit up groups of figures that went slowly up and down the irregular steep stairs, their sandals in one hand and cheroot in the other. Some carried flowers and dainty tokens in coloured papers, others little bundles of gold leaf, or small bundles of red and yellow twisted candles to burn. Their clothes were of silks and white linen, the colours of sweet peas in sun and in shadow, and the air was scented with incense and roses and the very mild tobacco in the white cheroots.
It was hot in the gharry!
To my surprise an English Buddhist lady I know, pulled up in front of me and got out of her carriage with a large paint box, took off her very neat brown shoes at the foot of the steps and went up in brown open-work stocking soles, and began to paint higher up the flights of steps, and a little crowd of polite Burman children gathered behind her. And a Britisher, a Scot, I think, came down, a little dazed-looking and delighted, and melting, and spoke to me, a stranger, out of sheer wonder and per fervidum at the charm of colour, and of course we agreed that it all "beggared description." I must have seen people of many races and religions going up the steps, Chinese, Shans, Kachins, Mohammedans, Hindoos, Americans, French, and British. I think in the space of two or three hours one of almost every nation must go up; not that there is any crowd at all, but the people are wonderfully varied, the greater number being, of course, exquisitely clothed Burmese.
To lunch at 10 o'clock, which is considered late here, in my bachelor friends' quarters—poor bachelors so far from home and home comforts! Figurez-vous, a princely hall, princely bedrooms, splendid teak floors and walls hung with many trophies, heads of tiger, of buffalo, sambhur, gaur, tsine boar, etc., etc., and in the long dining-room a sideboard gleaming with silver, white damask, white roses, and red lilies, perfect waiters and a perfect chef behind the scene—upstairs, verandahs spread with lounges and long chairs, tables with latest papers and latest books, and if this is not enough, they have every sort of social function within arm's length.—They are not to be only pitied, for all their punkahs, and the damp heat.
Rangoon, 8th January.—The Shan Camp.
To this we were invited by Mr B. S. Carey, C.I.E. He dined with us at the E.'s bungalow and told us much of interest of the people he had brought from these states that lie between Burmah and China. As Acting-Superintendent in place of Sir George Scott, he has brought these people's representatives to meet their Royal Highnesses The Prince and Princess of Wales. Mr Carey's brother, and Mr Fielding Hall were also at dinner, and my bachelor host A. Binning, so between these people and G.'s host and hostess, Mr and Mrs E., information about Burmah and its dependencies, its social, commercial, or political prospects was available at first hand and to any extent.
 Author of "The Burman, his Life and Notions—a delightful description of Burmah, Shway Yoe."
But to the Shan Camp, in our best array, the ladies in toilets most pleasing to Western ladies, if not to Shan Princesses—we drove a mile or so into the country, turned off the high road by a new cutting into the jungle, and came on a clearing of perhaps two acres surrounded by bamboos and trees, and in the twinkling of an eye we were transported from European Rangoon to tribal life in jungle land. A village of pretty cane houses had been built, and there were Princes and Princesses, and Chieftains with their followings; I think there were thirteen different tribes represented, and there were twenty times thirteen different costumes. We were presented first to the Chiefs; they were in the most magnificent, shimmering brown silk robes of state, all over gold and precious stones, and had pointed seven-roofed pagoda crowns of gold. There were three Princesses, willowy figures, one in an emerald-green tight-fitting jacket of silk and clinging skirt, and a spray of jewels and flowers in her black hair; she was pretty, by Jove she was, and at anyrate uncommonly capable and shrewd looking. She had come about six hundred miles to see their Royal Highnessess, had ridden three hundred miles to Mr Carey's rendezvous up north-east, missed the party there, rode on here post haste, other two hundred miles, and looked as if another thousand wouldn't turn a hair—said hair was black and glossy and dressed in a top knot, set off with a spray of diamonds and rubies! I think she was considered the great lady of the day, as the country her husband rules is in Chinese territory. The other ladies of the Shan States were also beautifully dressed. Never in my life have I seen such delicate blending of silks and faces and jewellery and flowers. I did not know which was the more interesting, the gorgeousness and fantastic form of the Princes' garments, or the exquisite harmonies and simplicity of shape of the Princesses. The willowy emerald-green Princess, who came from Fairyland, I am sure, shook hands with us and gave us tea and sugar and cream and a buttonhole, heavily scented, likewise a cigar, and if I hadn't had fever and could have spoken her language I'd have been enchanted. But first I should have described the wonderful umbrellas that ornamented the camp. When we got out of our carriage our ladies and ourselves were escorted to the clearing, each by one of these potentates with a liveried servant holding up one of these orange or white and crimson umbrellas over us. The Princesses walked with the ladies and I walked with an elderly Prince, with a jolly and kindly wrinkled face—it felt so very odd to be walking in Western modern garments beside this very old-world costume; his wings touched my shoulder, and the vane of his pagoda-spired crown or hat waggled above my head.
Round the centre of the dealing, in a circle round us, were arranged many retainers in tribal costumes; some of them held golden umbrellas, others silver-mounted swords, spears, crossbows, and flags. The arrangements and effect was so picturesque that it is to be hoped the Prince and Princess will see these people in the same situation.
The various tribes danced each their characteristic dance; there were too many to remember each distinctly. A bamboo instrument with the softest bell-like notes pleased me, and gentle but abrupt gong notes were frequently struck. In some dances the dancers stood close together in rows, hand in hand, and moved their feet and bowed their heads in time to very sad music, which I was told was to represent marriage! Another was full of movement and suggested a war dance, the dancers whirled swords and postured; all the movements were silent and the music low, with only occasional loud notes on gong and hollow bamboo, and so were much in harmony with forest stillness and the shades of jungle round the camp.
 Yang lam.
The most extraordinary dress was worn by the Padaung women, a kilt and putties of dark cloth, with round the hips and upper part of kilt, many rings of thin black lacquered cane; round the neck were so many brass curtain-rings of graduated circumference, narrowing from the chest to the ear, and so many of them that the neck had become so elongated that the head either actually was dwarfed or seemed to be so small as to be quite out of proportion to the body. Of course the proud wearer could not move her head in the very least, and wore an expression like that of a hen drinking.
Ten chiefs were present; I wrote down their names, but it is difficult to decipher them now. There was the Sawbwa of Keng-tung, forty days' journey from his capital east and south of Mandalay, and north of Siam; the Sawbwa of Yawnghwe; the Sawbwa of Lawksak; and the Myosa of this state, and the Myosa of that, and their wives. The Princess with the green jacket was Sao Nang Wen Tip, wife of the ruler of the Chinese state Keng-hung, and half-sister of the Sawbwa of Keng-tung; her journey to Rangoon took fifty days; and she is well-known in western China and our Shan States as a states-woman and woman of business. Her neat, small, well-set on head, with pretty face and slightly oblique eyes, one could not forget quickly—it was feline and feminine, and through and through as a poignarde ecossaise. Her sister, Sao Nang Tip Htila, was the only lady who rode on an elephant at the Delhi Durbar Procession. She is also known as a clever business woman; at present she rules the state of Keng Kham during the minority of her son. She lost her jewels in the Hoogley on the road to Delhi Durbar, and thought that as nothing to put against the satisfaction of having "shaken hands with the King-Emperor's brother," the Duke of Connaught, the memory of whose graciousness is treasured by the Shans to-day.
... G. and I went to the Pagoda and admired. It is the richest colour I've seen in the world, and, please heaven, let me come back. Otherwise Rangoon is not so very interesting; there are wide macadamised roads in the European parts, with large, two-storied villas in dark-brown teak wood on either side, with handsome trees in their compounds, thousands of nasty raucous crows, and Indian servants everywhere, and a very few Burmans. But the Pagoda is almost purely Burmese; a group of sinister-looking southern Indian natives sometimes passes up or down the steps in their dirty white draperies, and seem to bring an evil atmosphere with them, and a band of our clean, sturdy red-necked soldiers in khaki may go up, flesh and fire-eating sons of Odin, with fixed glittering bayonets and iron heels clinking on the stone steps—Gautama forgive us!—but they don't break the picture nearly so much as the "natives," their frank expression is more akin to the Burman's, they have not got the keen hungry look of the Indian; or the challenging expression of some of our own upper classes.
Who can describe the soft beauty of the Pagoda platform—the sun-lit square at top of the long covered stairway—with its central golden spire supporting the blue vault of sky, surrounded at its base with serene golden Buddhas in little temples of intricate carving, in gilded teak and red lacquer, and coloured glass mosaic, with candles smoking before them and flowers dying. The square is paved, and round the outside against graceful trees and palms are more shrines and more golden-marble Buddhas facing into the square, and some big bells hang on carved beams, and children strike them occasionally with deers' horns, half in play, half as a notice to the good spirits that they and their seniors have been there to worship. They have a very soft, sweet tone, and the crown of the sambhur's horn seems suited to bring it out. On the pavement are some favoured chickens and some children and a dog or two, and here and there devout people in silks, kneeling on the flags with folded hands repeating the precepts of the Perfect Law of Gautama Buddha. To overcome hatred with love, to subdue anger, to control the mind, and to be kind to all living things, and to be calm. That this is the greatest happiness, to subdue the selfish thought of I. That it is better to laugh than to weep, better to share than to possess, better to have nothing and be free of care than to have wealth and bend under its burdens.
Such teachings we have at home; but the Buddhist believes too, what the West forgets, what the old druid Murdoch, before he died, taught to Columba on Iona: That all life in nature is divine, and that there is no death, only change from one form to another. So they reverence trees and flowers and birds and beasts, and each other, and believe that,
"He prayeth best who loveth best All things both great and small."
therefore their happiness and calm and the look of peace on the faces of the very old people, and their great kindness to each other and to animals, and the little offerings you see to the spirits of trees.
It is very peaceful, for the repetitions of the worshippers in the open air are not disturbing; and from far overhead comes a little tinkling from the light AEolian bells moved by the breeze high up on the Hte. If you look up you see the Hte against the blue. It is an elaborate piece of metal work on the tip top of the pagoda; you cannot make out its details but you can see it is made of diminishing hoops with little pendant bells hung from these, that the wind rings sometimes; and you are told that one little bell may be so bejewelled that it may be worth L70, and the whole Hte that looks so light and delicate is really of heavy golden hoops encrusted with jewels; for which a king of Upper Burmah gave L27,000, and the Burmese people L20,000 more in voluntary subscriptions and labour. This was since our occupation of Lower Burmah.
The priests in their yellow robes, draped like Roman Togas, come and go just like other people; they are greatly reverenced, they teach all the boys of the nation their faith, reading, writing and simple arithmetic, but they do not proselytise or assume spiritual powers, nor do they act in civil affairs, and they "judge not;" they live, or try to live a good life, and to work out each his own salvation, and you may follow their example if you please, but they won't burn you if you do differently or think differently.... If any one wants to have the wrinkles rolled out of his soul—let him go and rest in the quiet, and sun, and simple beauty of the Shwey Dagon Pagoda, with its tapering golden spire and the blue sky above.
"The blairin' trumpet sounded far, And horsemen rode weel graith'd for war."
The Battle of Preston.
The horsemen were mostly civilians such as two of our friends in these bachelor quarters, and very smart they looked in their neat white uniforms and white helmets with a glitter of gold lace. Another attraction this for the young man from home; he may be only in commerce, say in Rice, and yet may be of some official service on high days and holidays, and prance on a charger with a sword like any belted knight. The reason of the stir was, of course, the Prince's arrival.
Rangoon is all bedecked—pandals at every turning—these are triumphal arches with seats inside erected by the Burmese, Chinese, Indians, Parsees, and children of Rangoon. They are all very brilliant and almost as beautiful as boxes of crackers, and through these and the decorated streets for days, have been driven rehearsals of the Prince and Princess's procession. Only those behind the scenes can compute the work that making these arrangements gave to the already overworked officials in this trying climate. Yesterday they had the last rehearsal, when a young member of the Lieutenant Governor's staff filled the part of the Prince in the great reception tent or Shamiana. Various city dignitaries were presented to him and made their bows, and to each of them in turn he addressed gracious and suitable words, such as the following to Mr Smith, known in Rangoon for his thriftiness: "Very pleased indeed to meet you, Mr Smith. Allow me on behalf of my Royal Father, to thank you, for the very excellent decorations you have made on your house and compound in honour of our visit." And Mr Smith got quite red, for he had not made any at all!
... The Prince and Princess came up the river early and landed at a wharf and were led through a narrow canvas tunnel into a wide low tent—so all danger of hats being spoiled by a shower or a squall was avoided, also all spectacular effect. Perhaps it is idiocyncrasy, but I can't help feeling that the crucial point of the Prince's tour was his landing on his foreign possessions, say at Bombay or Rangoon; that the landing should have been made magnificent and historic. Here was an opportunity just such as there was at Bombay; all the material at hand for a splendid spectacle, light, water, sky, ships, masts, boats, wharfs, the most beautifully dressed crowds and people of every nationality for background. A fraction of fancy was all that was necessary to have set up the most magnificient composition,—something to go down in the history of the country. But the Prince and Princess were ushered through the canvas alley-way into a dim tent, full of damp exhausted air, hired American chairs, and people in stiff Western clothes, and sat on two high-backed chairs with their backs to the little light and listened to speeches. It was a Royal pageant arranged as we do these things at home by men of T square and double entry, energy and goodwill. What is needed for such shows, in the first place, is a knowledge of historical precedents, and imagination, then organisation and reckless regard for weather, with say an artist, a historian, a general, and a cashier, for working Committee.
There was a beautiful thing in the reception Shamiana, but you had to have your eye lifting to note it. As you entered this tent from the town side, there were on either side three tiers of Burmese ladies sitting one above the other, their faces becomingly powdered with yellowish powder, and their eyebrows strongly pencilled, and they each had a yellow orchid in their black hair, and their dresses were of silks of infinite variety of tint—primrose, rose, and delicate white—"soft as puff, and puff, of grated orris root" and they glittered with diamonds and emeralds, and each held a silver bowl marvellously embossed, filled with petals of flowers and gold leaf. Their attitudes were studied to their finger tips, and as the Prince and Princess went out they stood and dropped a shower of petals before them.
The arrangements for the procession through the streets were perfect, and the crowds in the streets were great! and best of all were the groups of Burmese country people coming in to town in their bullock carts, the rough dry wood of the wheels and arched sun-bitten covers in such contrast to the family parties tucked up inside, in their short white jackets and skirts and kilts of brightly coloured silks. How happy they are, old and young—you begin to wish you had been born a Burman when you hear their laughter and jollity. But I fear we will soon change all that with our Progress and Law of orderly grab and necessary ugliness. Everyone is on the move but the priests, for they do not take part in worldly affairs.
There was a garden party at Government House in the afternoon. G. and her hosts went. I was told I positively must not go without a frock-coat and top hat, so I stayed at home. It is pretty far East here, so frock-coats and toppers are necessary, at Bombay they are still worn occasionally; there you might have seen Royalty at a garden party actually chatting to men in pith helmets and tussore silks—gone at the knee at that!
In the evening the park and lake were beautifully lit up, and a local shower of rain came, just in time to put out half the lamps on the trees, so there was not too much light, as I am sure there would have been had some not been extinguished; but everyone moaned—said it was "so sad" and "you should have seen it last time." There must have been a vast concourse of people. We were in the Boat Club grounds, and it was damp and hot. We waited about the lawn at the water's edge, and people chatted and smoked away the evening. Everyone seemed very jolly, and to know everybody else, and we were given the names of many people and the letters after their names; they all had them, but one would need to live in official circles for a long time to learn their meanings.
I thought of Whistler's "Cremorne Gardens" and his "Valparaiso," for this was such a night effect as he could have painted, and so I thought of The M'Nab's saying, "The night is the night if the men were the men."—someone, a Neish perhaps, may see the connection of ideas here, I admit it is slight.
The Prince and Princess were floated across the calm water of the lake in a fairy galley all over lamps. I made a jotting from recollection, so I will put it in here. It had three spires and each spire had seven roofs tapering to a Hte, and two great heads of paper geese were at the bow, and hundreds of glowing lamps lit the Royal suite on board. Besides the great state barge there were many boats fancifully decorated with glowing arrangements of lamps and flowers. The prettiest, I thought, a great water lily with a dainty little Burmese girl in green ("The jewel in the lotus") in its petals, posturing and singing. The heavy white petals in lamplight and rosy lights in the reddish buds and leaves against the dark water were charming, and the Burman in charge, with the usual red strip of cloth round his black hair, brown face, and white jacket, caught a little of the warm light and so blended into the picture. Burmese crews in dug-out war canoes, towed the Royal barge across the lake, and as each canoe crossed the paths of light reflected from the illuminated boats, the figures paddling stood out clearly and were then lost in darkness. They sang in full chorus with a reed piping between each line, liquid quiet music; who was it said—like the sound of grass growing? For a moment the charm was broken by the brass band behind us beginning, but mercifully some one stopped it, and the Royal passengers landed to gentle native music.
Here is, as nearly as possible, in colour, what I remembered of the Prince and Princess landing on the lawn, and neither more nor less, I hope—but one is so apt to put in more from careless habits of accuracy—to count the spokes of the moving wheel.
The words the crews sang were of "Our King Emperor, who is of the lineage of World Emperors (Mandat), and who on the lustrous throne of Britain was crowned." They compare our King to the resplendent Indian sun; "Our King Emperor" begins each stanza with the catch of the stroke, or rather, the dig of the paddle. "Our King Emperor, who enjoys his Imperial pleasures in the golden palace in London, and with especially distinguished intellectual powers rules over a kingdom whose inhabitants are like the Nimmanarati Gods delighting in self created pleasures.... The illustrious Royal couple come from the palace of flowers over distant seas in the Renown surrounded on all sides by the blue expanse of wave after wave, through the Indian Empire escorted by Guards of honour, and amidst echoes of the Royal salute from the Artillery.... For long life extending over a hundred years for our sovereign's heir-apparent and for his Royal consort, the Princess of Wales, who is like a wreath of the much prized Tazin (orchid) flowers on a bed of roses...." It is pretty in bits, I think, the blue expanse, wave after wave, and the wreath of Tazin on a bed of roses quite take my fancy.
 All the Burmese royal residencies were and are still covered with gilding. Shwey or gold, is also a Burmese term for royalty.
The illuminations, like the reedy music, went out slowly, and the brass band had its turn and pom-pomed away finely, as the Prince and Princess stood a little, on a knoll under the Club trees, in a glow of hundreds of lamps. Their coming down the winding path from the knoll was picturesque. I've a thumb-nail jotting of it, our people's faces on either side were so enthusiastic, and the Prince looked so pleased and the Princess looked so handsome and queenly, and the cheering—each man seemed to think depended on himself alone. It was really very pretty, the ladies' dresses, and uniforms and many black coats and the lamps on the trees made a gay piece of colour. We do shine on occasions, we people of the Occident, but the Burmese shine all the time.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
17th.—Now we are moving on, up the river, by the Irrawaddy Flotilla Co. paddle boat, instead of going to Mandalay by train and down by boat as is more customary, this for the reason that all the comfortable bogie carriages are away north with the Prince's following, and night in an old carriage is not to our tastes.
We go south down this Rangoon River a little way, then about sixty miles from the sea, cut across the Delta west by the Bassein Creek, and get into the navigable Irrawaddy, spending a night on the way tied up in the creek at a place where, I am told, we will probably be attacked by a very powerful tribe of mosquitoes, then next day higher up we will, according to Messrs Cook, see mountains again!
17th January.—On the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company's S.S. "Java"—after our British India S.S. experience it is delightful, the quiet utterly soothing. It is hot it is true—hot as in the hot weather they say, but the air is clean on the river.
We are now on the Bassein Creek, twenty-five miles long, going across the Delta west from Rangoon River to the Irrawaddy to steam up it for five days, tying up at night. It is better even than we were told!
This steamer is long, low, and wide decked, with a nice saloon forward on the upper deck, eight cosy cabins on either side, and a promenade in front of them, on the fo'csle head as it were. Aft, divided from us by the pantry and a wire partition, there is a long stretch of deck going right to the stern, all covered by a roof; on this deck sit and lie Burmans, singly or in family groups, in pretty silks, on neat mats and mattresses and pillows with tidy little bundles of luggage beside them.
We do not stop steaming to-night, for we have barely enough of the flood to take us over the shallow midway part of the creek, where the east and west tides meet, so as the sun went below the flat shore and reeds, and it grew dark, the search-light on the lower deck was turned on.
Now we have wonderful theatrical pictures continually changing—bluey-green round pictures framed by the night, first on one bank then on the other, as the light sweeps from side to side, and always down its rays a continuous shower of golden insects seems to come rushing towards us. In the dark behind the lantern, the deck below is crawling with them. The trees we light up on the banks have the green of lime-lit trees on the stage, and the same cut out appearance. Fantastic boats suddenly appear out of the velvet darkness. They have high sterns elaborately carved, and the red teak wood and the brown bodies of the rowers pushing long oars glow in the halo of soft light; other figures resting on their decks are wrapped up in rose and white and green draperies, and each soft colour is reflected quivering in the ripple from the oars.
By the way, as we slept the Bassein mosquitoes did come on board, and answered their description—they do raise lumps! Horses have to be kept in meat safes on shore, and they say you can tell a man who has lived in the district years afterwards, by the way he slips into a room sideways, and closes the door after him. Two or three bites make a whole limb swell; therefore travellers, bring mosquito curtains if you travel here for pleasure.
18th.—Fresh—cool—sun—and this is a wide river in Fairyland, for the colours of foliage, water, and sky are too delicate and bright for any real country I have ever seen. Where, in reality, do you see at one glance, delicate spires in gold and white rising from green foliage, and dainty bamboo cottages of matting and teak; and women in colours as gay as butterflies, coming from them into the morning sun; and fishermen in hollowed logs with classic stems and sterns, their clothing of the colour of China asters, their faces coppery gold, and their hair black as a raven's wing, drawing nets of rusty red, of the tint of birch twigs in winter, out of muddy water enamelled with cerulean.
Every now and then you meet with an extra big bit of fairyland coming down stream in the shape of a native ship with high crescent stern and a mat house near its low bow; all in various tints of a warm brown teak. The crew stand and row long oars and sing as they swing, and you think of Vikings, Pirates, and Argosies.... But down in the lower deck beside Denny's engines it feels quite homely, as if you were going "doon the water" in sunny June—the engines running as smoothly and quietly as if they were muscles and bones instead of hard steel and 900 H.-P.—engineers, engines, and hull all frae Glasgie, all from banks of old Cleutha.
... Now the river widens to nearly a mile, and the tops of ranges of hills appear over the plains. What variety you have in the course of two half days—yesterday amongst crowds and houses and ocean going craft, to-day the calm of the open country with fresh, balmy air, and only river boats.... Here comes difficult navigation though the river is so wide; and we ship a pilot who comes off from a spit of sand in a dug-out canoe.... We surge round hard aport then astarboard, following the channel, through overfalls and eddies like the Dorris More or Corrie Bhriechan in good humour, and there are a few sea swallows to keep us in mind of the sea. It is pleasant to hear the rush, and the calm, of tide race, alternating.
We stop at a village on the river side, and there's a pageant of little boats, a little like Norwegian prams, perhaps sampans is the nearest name for them; they are brightly coloured. The only passenger besides ourselves, Mr Fielding Hall, leaves our steamer here, which we greatly regret; he has told us a little about Burmah, and something of a book he has now in the press, "A Nation at School," and we would very willingly hear more. I gather that its purport is that the Burmans under our rule are really going forward, and that our organisations, hospitals, and factories in Rangoon are proofs of this, though they appear, at the first glance, to be the opposite and that "toute est pour le mieux...." I am painting now in the cabin he vacated, and ought to be inspired! This Java makes a perfect yacht—granted a cabin apiece—but even with two in a cabin it is very A.1.
 The author of "The Soul of a People," an exquisite description of Burmese life.
The colouring and sandbanks this first day are undoubtedly suggestive of the Nile, but the Irrawaddy is wider; the sand edge falls in the same kind of chunks; the Nile is silvery and blue, with colourless shadows, here everywhere rainbow tints spread out most delicately, and here instead of Egyptians in floppy robes you have refined people exquisitely dressed. As the river is low, we do not see much beyond the edge of the banks. They are topped with high grass and reeds and low palm ferns, and over these appear cane matting roofs of cottages and fine trees.
Paints feel poor things, and a camera can't get these wide effects, at least mine won't—a cinematograph would be the thing. Every five minutes a new river scene unrolls itself. At present, as I look from my large cabin-window, I see a belt of feathery grass, and then the blue sky. A flight of white herons rise, and the sand throws yellow reflected light under their wings; a long, dug-out canoe passes down with a load of colour, red earthenware pots forward, a copper-faced man amidship, in white jacket and indian-red kilt. He is paddling, behind him are green bananas, and in the stern a lady sits in pink petticoat and white jacket. The clothes of men and women are somewhat similar; the man's coloured "putsoe," or kilt, often of tartan, is tied in a knot in front of his waist, and comes down to the middle of his calf. The woman tucks her longer skirt or "tamaine," above her bosom, as you might hitch a bath-towel, and it falls rather tightly to her ankles, and both men and women wear a loose white cotton jacket, which just comes to their waist, with wide sleeves that come below the waist. The men wear their hair long, tied up with a bright silk scarf, and the women wear theirs coiled on the top of their heads with a white crescent comb in it, and often a bunch of yellow orchids. I've heard Europeans say there is little to distinguish the men from the women in figure or dress: but, to me, their figures and faces seem very prettily distinguished.
We stop the night at Henzada, and dine on deck, shut off from the night by a glass partition. The captain tells us how in 1863 the Company was formed to take over from the Government four river steamers previously used for carrying troops and stores; and how the fleet has steadily grown with the development of the province until it now consists of 360 vessels, of all sorts and sizes.
Captain Terndrup also tells us of the occupation of Upper Burmah. He brought down the last of the Europeans before we attacked Upper Burmah, and took up the Staff of our army. Government hired these Flotilla ships for the purpose. He also had to do with the beginning of these gold dredgings in Northern tributaries of the Irrawaddy, which are to make mountains of gold!
A new passenger joins here, a Woods and Forest man. He is full of interesting information about both Lower and Upper Burmah, the Mergui Archipelago and natural history.
We are lying one hundred yards off the shore. From the jungle comes the sound of Burmese music. A Pwe is being held—a theatrical entertainment given by someone to someone in particular, and to anyone else who likes to attend; generally, in the open air, they go on a whole moonlight night.
20th February.—Almost afraid to get up—the last two days so full of beautiful scenes—positively fear a surfeit—sounds nonsense but it is true to the letter.
Cool and sunny in the morning, the river violet, and the sun faint yellow through wisps of rising mist. We are coming to a village on the bank, palms and trees behind it, and a white pagoda spire rising from them, and one in gold above the village. The cottage roofs are of shingle, buff-coloured and grey, with a silvery sheen. People are coming down the dried mud-bank and across the sand to meet us, red lacquered trays of fruit and vegetables on their heads, and some with their baggage on their heads—their clothes of most joyous colours—
"The world is so full of such beautiful things, I am sure we should all be as happy as kings."
to quote Robert Louis Stevenson, and so these cheery villagers, with their flowers and pretty garments, seem to think. Here is one nation in the world that has attained peace if not happiness: that has preserved the happy belief of the Druids and all primitive peoples, of the relationship of the inorganic to the organic, which scientists now accept and divines begin to consider. Mr Fielding Hall said the other evening "their ideal is untenable in a world of strenuous endeavour and capitalism"—they, of course, do not believe in strenuous endeavour or capitalism, and laugh at "work for work's sake." But we have brought the great "law of necessity" to them, and they must come out of their untenable happiness and fall in line with the advance of civilisation, and give up flowers and silks and simple beauty and cultivate smoke stacks. Our occupation of Burmah really does these people good; witness the hospitals in Rangoon, and the veil of soot from its factories!
 But see this author's latest book "The Inward Light"—a most exquisite description of what the Burman believes is the teaching of Buddha.
Within a hundred years I can see a few odd Burmans going about with hair long and some little suggestion of the old times, a red silk tie perhaps, and a low collar. Foolish fellows, with quaint ideas about simplicity of life, fraternity, and jollity, and old world ideals of beauty. They will be called artists, or Bohemians, men without any firm belief in the doctrine of necessity, or of the beauty of work for work's sake; men who, when they get to heaven, will say, "First rate, for any sake don't spoil it—don't make it strenuous at any price!"
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We go ashore, the Captain and I, and Mr Buchanan, the Woods and Forest man. The air is brisk and the sun hot—such a change from Rangoon. We climb the clay steps and walk along the tiny village to the native (Indian) store, to buy a famous headache medicine for G. It is the principal thing they sell. The owner of the store got the recipe from a British Medico, and sells it now all over Burmah, to the tune of 1,300 rupees profit per month—if I may believe my informant! Burmese suffer a great deal from headaches; the sun is strong, and they don't wear hats. There were six native clerks occupied with the sale of this nostrum. I deposited my half rupee for six doses—I'd have taken a ton with hope some years ago.
Then Mr B. showed us his teak logs tethered alongside the banks, waiting for high water to take them on their road south. Some logs are said to take nine years to come down from the upper reaches to Rangoon. Then he rode away on a pretty white pony, first asking me to come and stay in the jungle with him, and don't I wish I could. You feel inclined to stop at Henzada for ever, it is so picturesque and fresh, and the walks by the river under the high trees are very pretty, and there's no dustiness or towniness.
I am sorry Mr Buchanan went; there's much to ask, about what he knew; of trees and beasts and people, or of the geology of these mountains that are beginning to appear to our left and right: to the west, the southern spine of the Arrakan Mountains, and to the east, the ranges of the Shan Highlands, which divide the Irrawaddy valley from the valley of the Salwin river.
 For short concentrated descriptions of Burmah and Shan States, see Holdich's "India."
I ought to be painting these boats that pass—but there's breakfast-bell—boats my friends, with the colours of Loch Fyne skiffs, as to their sails and woodwork, a little deeper in colour, perhaps, and set off with brighter figures, with here and there a rose pink turban or white jacket. The hulls have a quaint dignity about them, and the carvings on their sterns are as rich as the woodwork in a Belgian cathedral.
Prome.—The sandbanks withdraw, and the wooded ranges of blue hills show more firmly in the background. It is as if we were at the beginning of a very wide Norwegian valley. Fishermen's mat shelters break the monotony of some long sandbanks—isolated signs of life, each on its sharply-cast purple shadow; a naked boy and his sister run along the freshly broken edge of a sandbank, and wave to us.
Round, bend after bend, each a splendid delight to the eye—till two o'clock we look, and look, loath to leave the deck, though our eyes are sore and appetites keen—then lunch, watching the passing scenes—and Prome.
Looking out of our windows, to our left across the river, the scenery reminds me of loch Suinnart or loch Swene in Argyll: there are knolly hills, with woodcock scrub, and terns, or sea-swallows, dipping in the current. To the right the shore is flat, then rises steeply to the road on the bundar, above which we see the tops of brown teak bungalows, set amongst rich green trees like planes, and beyond these again, stand grey stemmed teak trees, and over all, the deep blue sky, and the Shwe Sandaw Pagoda spire glittering with gold, with lower spires of marble whiteness.
Pagoda spires are all along the river side every mile or two, but they do not bespeak a population; most of them are in ruins, they are simply built with sun-dried bricks, some are white-washed, others gilt, only the famous pagodas are ever repaired, for a Burman obtains more evident merit by building a new one. To judge by their number, one might think there must be so many people that game could not abound, but this is not the case at all.
We go ashore by the gangways (two broad planks) past Indian coolies and Burmese laden with bales and boxes slung from either end of bamboos balanced across their shoulders, through ramparts of bales and sacks piled on the sand and gravel shore. On either side of the path there are women sitting with snacks of Burmese food to sell to travellers, sugar-cane, sweet cakes, cheroots, soda-water, and ngapi; this is a great Burmese delicacy and has a peculiar smell! It is composed of pounded putrid fish—as unpleasant to us as a lively old Stilton-cheese would be to a Burman.
Up the bank some forty feet we find we are again in the track of the Royal Procession! There are tiny decorations going up amongst the trees. A triumphal arch, quite twenty feet high, is being covered with coloured paper and tinsel, and a line of flags and freshly cut palm leaves leads to the little siding on the line that goes to Rangoon. The place is so pretty that you feel it is a pity that its natural features should be disturbed by ornament however well intentioned.
We go to the pagoda and climb slowly up the steps, for they are high and steep, and at every flight there are exquisite views out over the jungle of trees, palms, and bamboo, and knolly "Argyll hills," and looking up or down the stairs are more pictures; on both sides are double rows of red and gold pillars, supporting an elaborately panelled teak roof, with carvings in teak picked out with gold and colour. Groups of people with sweet expressions, priests, men, women, and children pass up and down. On the platform there is heat and a feeling of great peace, the subdued chant of one or two people praying, the cluck of a hen, the fragrance of incense, and now and then the deep soft throb of one of the great bells, touched by a passing worshipper with the crown of a stag's horn. There are spaces of intense light, and cool shadows and shrines of glass mosaic, inside them Buddhas in marble or bronze—the bronzes are beautiful pieces of cire perdu castings—flowers droop before them, and candles are melting, their flame almost invisible in the sunlight, and two little children play with the guttering wax.
As we come down the stairs we meet khaki-clad Indian soldiers, with high khaki turbans, and indecently thin shanks in blue putties. They do not fit their uniforms or boots, or the surroundings, and only the sergeants seem to feel their rifles less than a burden. They are told off to posts in the jungle at each stage of the ascent, and we feel our retreat is menaced, but it is only a rehearsal for the Royal Visit to-morrow. Little Prome is all agog! for the Prince comes down the river and is to land here and train to Rangoon.
Before we go aboard we walk through the marketplace by the side of the river; it is lit with a yellow sunset from over the river, the umbrellas stand out brown against the sky, and the burning tobacco of the girls white cheroots begins to show red, and the oranges have a very deep colour, the blue smoke hangs in level wisps in the warm dusty air—and you could lean up against the smell of the ngapi. It is in heaps, and of finest quality they say. Here is a jotting from a sketch in colour; I made also one in line to immortalise the Prome triumphal arch.
There are more than a dozen flags on it now, and you see two natives putting up two lamps; and the governor, you can imagine—he is training his pair of carriage ponies to stand this unusual display. They go up and down the mile of high road on the bundar in such a lather, one nearly out of its skin with excitement. What would be better than an arch, and would please every one, would be to collect all the Burmese residents in the district in their best dresses, and allow them to group themselves as their artistic minds would suggest; their grouping and posing would be something to remember. Burmese woman study movement from childhood, and nothing more beautiful could be conceived than their colour schemes; I've seen arrangement of colours to-day in dresses, delicate as harmonies in Polar ice, and others rich and strong as the colours of a tropical sunset.
But one line more about the town.—Before the Christian era, Prome was within six miles east of being one of Burmah's many ancient capitals; it marked the ancient boundary between Ava and Pegu, otherwise Upper and Lower Burmah. It is seventy five miles above Rangoon, and has 27,000 inhabitants, and has streets here, and a law court there, and an Anglican church, so it is moving—one way or the other.
Thayet Myo, January 20th.—After leaving Prome we have a good long wait here; we have the Prince's mails on board. Their Royal Highnesses are coming down river from Mandalay, so we wait their steamer. As we lunch on deck we watch the villagers collecting, coming in bullock carts and canoes.
The Flotilla Company have painted their steamer for the Prince all white—given her a buff funnel, and she flies the Royal Standard with the quarterings wrong, as usual, and looks mighty big and fine as she surges south over the silky, mirror-like surface of the river. There is a blaze of sun, and three dug-out canoes, with men in pink and white, flying bannerets, go out to meet her. With their gay colours, the white steamer, and the gleam of brass-work, you have a subject for a picture after the style of Van Beers—if there was only time! I just make a modest grab at it with an inky pen.
Burmans come streaming along the yellow sandy shore in rainbow tints, and two of our soldiers in khaki, almost invisible but for the boots and red necks, sweat along the loose sand with them. Up the bank are seated groups of girls and women, quietly filling their souls with the joy of gazing at the white ship that contains the Imperial Ti.
... Put in the night at Minhla.—After dropping anchor, our new passengers, Mrs Jacobs and daughter, and their guests and ourselves sit round the deck-table and talk of the celebrations in Rangoon, and we all turn in at ten, for we grudge an hour taken off these days of light. They got off at Yenangyat further up the river, a place where there are oil springs and works.
21st.—We get up early these days, because the country is so beautiful, and because it is a little chilly out of the sun, and morning tub begins to have attractions again; it is so cold and exhilarating, and you feel fifty times more energetic up here than in Rangoon; you feel you must not miss any of the river's features, so tumble out betimes. Possibly the anchor coming up at daybreak awakened you, and if that did not, a dear little Burmese boy's cock and hen must have done so; the cock sends out such clarion challenges to all the cocks ashore before daybreak. The boy in green silk kilt with touch of pink, holding his two white pets with their red combs, makes a most fetching piece of colour.
We begin to think thicker clothing would not be amiss—but a quick walk on shore makes one's blood go merrily. We decided to come here again with some sort of a house on a keel of our own, and stop and shoot here and there, and paint; perhaps drift down river from Bhamo through the defiles, with sport wherever one wanted it—four kinds of deer, elephant, jungle fowl, francolin, snipe, geese, duck, possibly leopard or tiger, and a few miles inland there are rhino and gaur—there's a choice!—and I'd have a net too—four weeks out, by "Henderson" or "Bibby," four here, and four back—I wonder if my presence could be spared at home.
MIMBU.—Here are splendid trees, like those in Watteau's pictures, on the top of the banks, their foliage drooping over cottages. These are very neatly built on teak-wood legs. You can see into some of them through the bamboo walls and floors, and see touches of rich colour in their brown interiors—ladies in emerald silk and powdered faces, jet black hair and white torch cheroot, and, perhaps, the goodman coming in, in green cloth jacket, pink round his hair, and say, a crushed strawberry putsoe down to the middle of his sturdy brown calves.
A number of Burmese get off here. Up the sandy bank are collected about fifty carts. The bullocks in them are finely bred, and are coloured like fallow deer, and look fat and well-cared for. The carts are sand-coloured and sun-bleached, with great thick wheels, and the contrast of the dainty passengers—women and children with neat packages—getting into these is very pleasant. The men busy themselves yoking the oxen; they are dressed in bright silks and cottons, several have M'Pherson tartan putsoes. A mother lifts her butterfly-coloured children into the clean straw and gets in herself, and the eldest daughter, with white jacket and prettily-dressed hair, steps in demurely, tucks up her knees in her exquisite plum-coloured silk skirt, and away they go in dust and sun and jollity—verily, I do believe, that Solomon in his very Sunday best was not a patch to one of these daintly dressed figures....