Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

numerous ghauts, thousands of natives, immersed to their middles in the water, were performing the ablutions prescribed I believe by their religion.

Amid a Babel of tongues, I reached the shore, carefully carried over the wet gravel (for it was half ebb) to the dry ground ;--- perhaps in any other part of the globe this might have been an embarrassing situation, ignorant as I was of the language and manners of the people ; but here I had scarcely touched the ground, before a naked fellow, with a huge chatta grasped in both hands, hastened to shield Saheb's precious visage from the burning sun; and an imposing looking olivecolored personage, enveloped in folds of muslin of the purest white, with a profound salaam welcomed me to the shores of Hindostan. This was my father's Sircar, who having learnt my arrival, attended to greet me. Chunder-Loll (that was his name) seemed to have very kindly concerned himself for my comfort, and had provided a palanquin, which was in waiting, for my use.

Having stretched myself in this luxurious conveyance, and the sircar having maile his final salaam, the bearers set off at a smart pace, the one with the chatta keeping close alongside.

After passing superb streets, and threading dirty gullies and dirtier Bazars, my wonder one moment excited at the grandeur, and the next at the apparent wretchedness, around me (for Calcutta is in every thing in extremes), we reached the Circular Road. I was set down under the spacious piazza, or verandah, that extended along the whole front of a large and imposing looking building; and here another well-dressed native greeted me with a respectful salaam, and with folded arms seemed to await my commands.

“ And who the deuce are you?” said I.
“ Masta's Kitmanguar e sircar hire me, Saheb."

I suppose the man saw I was a little at a nonplus, for he said, “ I show Saheb his room?" and he led the way into a large sleeping apartment, where, to my astonishment, I beheld the packages I had brought with me from the ship, and which I thought were still in the sircar's care at Champaul Ghaut.

“ And how did these come here?" I enquired.

“ I make,” he replied, with a chuckle of self-satisfaction at his diligence, “ I make e coolie bring up from Champaul Ghaut very soon."

“ You! I didn't see you there.”

“ Saheb not want me till he come to house ; but he want clean clothes," replied my new-made servant. “ But you change your clothes ?" half requested, half enquired, he.

“ Kind again," thought I; and as I felt uneasy in the clothes I had worn all night on the river, I began to shift myself, which, with the assistance of my new acquaintance, I completed, in time to attend a suminons to Tiffen.

The party consisted of four besides myself---the captain of the ship in which I had arrived, one of my fellow passengers, and two gentlemen, strangers. Each of the guests was attended by a watchful kitmanguar, a sort of butler ; a kaunsumar also waited ; and a fellow on his beam ends in the verandah, by means of a long rope, kept in

thereby produble was li! Shraub, ar

motion a huge sort of fan, a punka, suspended from the ceiling, thereby producing a refreshing breeze in the room.

The table was spread with fruits, cold meat, currie and rice, cheese, Maderia, Loll Shraub, and last, though not least, Hodgson's pale ale.

“This is your first visit to Calcutta, I believe?” enquired one of the gentlemen present.

I bowed an affirmative..

“ Perhaps you will accompany your father to my house to dinner to-morrow?"

I accepted the invitation, and my new friend continued, “ Doubtless, you will like to see all you can during your stay in Calcutta?"

I bowed, and he went on " Then, above all things, you must not forget the Course; the Course, like the Park at home, is the resort of all the beauty, fashion, and gaiety of the East."

“ Perhaps,” said I, “ you will honor me with your arm, though I suppose it is not high change till the cool of the evening ?"

He laughed outright, “ Do you think, my good fellow, that any one walks in India ?".

I stared enquiringly, and he went on, “ Do you think that we in the gorgeous East are as plodding in our notions, as the uninitiated denizens of the West? why the dapper clerk, escaped from the dust and noise of the Custom House here, sports his trim buggy or his bit of blood !--but in pity to your ignorance, I will give you a seat in my conveniency, and you shall see with your eyes, and wonder in the simplicity of your heart, how we manage these matters in India.

I thanked the good-humored Mr. Richardson, and amid such agreeable and desultory confab, we finished our Chillum.

True to his promise at six the same evening, he called for me; and his equipage, a phaæton and pair, was such, that the most dashing Corinthian who ever figured in Hyde Park, would, I am satisfied, have felt proud in sporting its fellow: and who was its proprietor ? A civilian perhaps, or an extensive merchant at least-neither. He was merely an auctioneer, and daily might be seen in the Loll Bazar, surrounded by a crowd of noisy native bidders, knocking down miscellaneous lots of stationery, hosiery, mercery, and other damaged or rejected refuse of some unfortunate wight's private trade.

To the course we drove, and, as he had forewarned me, I did wonder at the splendor and apparent wealth around me.

Crowds of dashing vehicles of every form and description, barouches, tandems, landaus, buggies, and spirited saddle horses, glanced along the course in dazzling variety; the pallid beauties that graced the carriages, blazing in all the adornments of full dress; the delightful mildness of an Indian evening, precluding the necessity of those disguises to female beauty, shawls, wrappers, and bonnets, in which our countrywomen, at home, are obliged to envelope themselves when in the open air, even in the finest weather.

“ And what do you think of our Park ?" enquired my companion.
I am delighted ! bewildered!"
“ Pretty fair for such a distant hole as Calcutta, hey~"

Pretty fair! why I never saw such a display in Hyde Park on its proudest day.”

“And the ladies ?" .: « Charming !"

“ Hold," cried Richardson; “ you must not compare these languid chaulky faced dolls, to our delightful countrywomen in their own native air, all life, grace, and animation. I dont know how it is," added he peevishly, “ but the women seem to degenerate immediately they touch Asiatic ground. The elasticity of limb, the playful, yet modest, gaiety, the domestic usefulness, that so well become them at home, all vanish, and here they dwindle into mere ornamental automatons."

“ You are too severe-too ungallant."

I assure you, no-look there," he added, “ as a young and not unhandsome female, costily attired, and leaning back in her open carriage, just motioned her head, as our vehicle passed her's, “ look there, did the eye, did the heart appear to have aught to do in that chilling bow? Why, there is absolutely more cordiality in the bend of a Chinese Mandarin in a grocer's window.”

I smiled at the curious simile, and he proceeded—“ And yet that woman, not a twelvemonth since, landed in Bengal, a good-natured lively English girl.”

“ And now," said I, “ her smiles have become frowns, her liveliness hauteur; is it not so? But indulge me, by informing me who the lady is; nature has blessed her with a handsome face, and that you know is an excuse for a thousand little female whims."

" True! true!” cried Richardson animatedly, “ and perfectly apropos. Oh! that face! that face !"

* And what of that face?"

“Would you think," he replied, " that woman, surrounded as she is with all that wealth can bestow, nine months ago scarcely possessed of her own wherewithal to provide a dish of currie to allay her hunger ?"

« Indeed!” I exclaimed.

" That woman, lady I mean," he continued, with a sneering drawl, “that lady was originally an actressman actress at one of your Minor London Theatres. Chance, or luck, or what you will, threw her in Captain E.'s way; you know the captain, perhaps, a very very fatherly man."

“ I have seen the gentleman!"

“ Good; but to cut the matter short, Captain E. gave her a passage; that is her-he--be brought her out on speculation."

On speculation, Mr. Richardson !"

“On speculation," repeated Richardson, “is that so wonderful ? Handsome, lively, and rather ornamentally educated, she naturally attracted much attention in a place where women, and especially handsome women, are so scarce. Old and young courted her smiles, but the fair Fanny having no idea of love and a cottage---and youth and a lac of rupees not being often found together in India,"

“In one sense of the word, I believe they are as common here as elsewhere," said I.

Good!” he rejoined laughingly, “ but you interrupt me with your vile pun. Mr. T. had just lost his ancient rib. True, he was ugly, but so rich-ill-tempered, but then his rank-fifty years of age, but then he was at the head of a flourishing and improving house: let me, to describe his achievements, borrow the words of another great conqueror (for Mr. T. is six feet two), ‘he came, he saw, he conquered.'”

It was no longer courtship?"

“Courtship! Ha! ha! introduced this week, proposed the next, and married the third : her dear friend---her more than father, the respectable captain, shed tears of joy---paternal tears, at his dear Fanny's happy settlement, pocketed his 2000 rupees, and laughed at the liquorish old bridegroom, as an arrant fool.”

“How do you mean, pocketed his 2000 rupees ?”

“Richardson turned full round to gaze at me. “Is it possible that you do not understand me?"

“ I must confess my ignorance,” said I.

“Then thus it was,” he answered: “her passage---Oh how much is comprehended in that one single word !--- her passage must be paid for, ere she could be happily settled. She left England pennyless, and during the progress of her tedious courtship, the fair Fanny, her lovely eyes bedewed in tears, and her sweet form trembling with modest agitation, in broken accents regrets her unfortunate lot, mutters something of her deep sense of Captain E.'s kindness, &c. The lover entreats, supplicates her to confide in him ; the only reply is a shower of tears. On the wings of love and alarm, he flies to the captain; the whole comes out; the love-smitten swain cannot but apply a balm to his dear one's sorrows, loves her the more for her charming ingenuousness, pays her debts, and marries her.”

“And can happiness be the portion of either party ?" I observed · thoughtfully.

“ Happiness !” said he sharply : “ with age and dotage on one side, contempt and youth on the other, can there be a doubt on the subject ?”

B. I.

SERENADE.
Wake, Ada wake, the moon shines bright,

Sweet are thy vows to a listening ear,
While softly sings the bird of night,

In the silvery beams of yon starry sphere.
Turn, Ada turn, from dreams of bliss,

To the welcome sounds of a Lover's prayer,
Faithful vows, and the fervent kiss,

To thee shall be borne on the stilly air.
Smile, Ada smile, nor chide my stay,

For hush'd is the echo, which long'd to tell,
Of maiden fears which blush'd to play.

On lips, where Affection now sighs to dwell.
Wake, Ada wake, ere morning peeps ;

Far brighter than day, beam thy sloe-black eyes;
The ling'ring moon her vigil keeps,

Till thy sunny smile shall illame her skies.

[ocr errors]

COLLECTANEA.

No. V.

" Much will I comprise in a few words."

EURIPIDES.

63. Wild Pigeons. The accounts of the enormous Hocks in which the passenger, or wild pigeons, fly about in North America, seem to an European like the tales of Baron Munchausen ; but the travellers are “ all in a story.” Mr. Howison, in his Sketches of Upper Canada, says you may kill twenty or thirty at one shot out of the masses which darken the air. In the United States, according to Wilson the Ornithologist, they sometimes desolate and lay waste a track of country forty or fifty miles long, and five or six broad, by making it their breeding-place; while in the state of Ohio, Mr. Wilson saw a flock of these birds which extended, he judged, more than a mile in breadth, and continued to pass over his head, at the rate of one mile in a minute, during four hours-thus making its whole length about two hundred and forty miles. According to his moderate estimate, this flock contained 2,230 millions, 272 thousand pigeons !

64. COMPARISON NOT ODIOUS. At the house of Madame la Duchesse de Maine, the company were one day amusing themselves by comparing and finding ingenious distinctions between one object and another. “What difference," said the Duchess to the Cardinal de Polignac, “is there between me and a watch ?" - Madame," replied the Cardinal, “ a watch marks the hours, and you make us forget them.

65. PANTOMIMES. The first pantomime in England was produced at Drury Lane in 1702, in an entertainment called the Tavern Bilkers. It lingered only five nights. Its author was one Weaver, a dancing-master at Shrewsbury.

66. On Tick. To go on trust. The term is supposed to be a diminutive of ticket. Decker, in his Gull's Horn-book, speaking of gallants who go to the theatre by water, says, “No matter upon landing whether you have money or no : you may swim in twenty of their boats over the river upon ticket.”

67. SPORTING. Dutens (Memoirs, v. ii. p. 239,) describes a hunting party, consisting of twenty-three persons, three of whom were ladies, who in the course of eighteen days killed 47,950 head of game and wild deer! This took place at Bohemia in 1755.

68. RECEIPT FOR MAKING CHEAP INK. “ Galls four ounces, copperas two ounces, gum-arabic one ounce : beat the galls grosly, --and put them into a quart of claret.Evelyn's Sylva.

69. EXTRAORDINARY SIZE OF CUCUMBERS IN RUSSIA. Dr. Clarke mentions having met in the Crimea with several caravans loaded with white cucumbers measuring above two feet in length. See his Travels, vol. ii. p. 169.

70. Ants. Mr. Buckinghanı, in his just published Travels in Mesopotamia, p. 140, complains of having been annoyed by the bite

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »