Imágenes de página


of the country-and almost all moving through it, with a retinue and accompaniment of authority, which excluded all actual contact with the People, and even, in a great degree, the possibility of seeing them in their natural state. We have historical memoirs accordingly, and accounts of military expeditions, of great value and accuracy; and are beginning to have reports of the culture of indigo, of the general profits of trade, and of the heights and structure of mountains, that may be depended on. But, with the exception of Mr. Elphinstone's Caubul and Sir John Malcolm's Central India both relating to very limited and peculiar districts—we have no good account of the country or the people. But by far the worst obstruction to the attainment of correct information is to be found in the hostility which has prevailed for the last fifteen or twenty years, between the adversaries and the advocates of the East India Company and its monopoly; and which has divided almost all who are now able and willing to enlighten us on its concerns, into the champions of opposite factions; characterized, we fear we must add, with a full share of the partiality, exaggeration, and inaccuracy, which has at all times been chargeable upon such champions. In so large and complicated a subject, there is room of course for plausible representations on both sides; but what we chiefly complain of is, that both parties have been so anxious to make a case for themselves, that neither of them have thought of stating the whole facts, so as to enable the public to judge between them. They have invariably brought forward only what they thought peculiarly favourable for themselves, or peculiarly unfavourable for the adversary, and have fought to the utterance upon those high grounds of quarrel; but have left out all that is not prominent and remarkable-that is, all that is truly characteristic of the general state of the country, and the ordinary conduct of its government; by reference to which alone, however, the real magnitude of the alleged benefits or abuses can ever be truly estimated.

It is chiefly for these reasons that we have hitherto



been shy, perhaps to a blameable excess, in engaging with the great questions of Indian policy, which have of late years engrossed so much attention. Feeling the extreme difficulty of getting safe materials for our judgment, we have been conscientiously unwilling to take a decided or leading part in discussions which did not seem to us to be conducted, on either part, in a spirit of perfect fairness, on a sufficient view of well-established facts, or on a large and comprehensive perception of the principles to which they referred. With a strong general leaning against all monopoly and arbitrary restrictions, we could not but feel that the case of India was peculiar in many respects; and that more than usual deliberation was due, not only to its vast practical importance, but to the weight of experience and authority that seemed arrayed against our predilections; and we longed, above all things, for a calm and dispassionate statement of facts, from a recent and intelligent observer, unconnected, if possible, either by interest or any other tie, with either of the parties, and untainted even by any preparatory study of their controversies; but applying his mind with perfect freedom and fairness to what fell under his own immediate observation, and recording his impressions with that tranquil sincerity which can scarcely ever be relied on but where the record is meant to be absolutely private, and is consequently made up without any feeling of responsibility, ambition, or deference.

Such a statement, and much more than such a statement, we have in the work before us; and both now, and on all future occasions, we feel that it has relieved us from the chief difficulty we have hitherto experienced in forming our opinions, and supplied the most valuable elements for the discussions to which we have alluded. The author, it must be admitted, was more in connexion with the Government than with any party or individual opposed to it, and was more exposed, therefore, to a bias in that direction. But he was, at the same time, so entirely independent of its favours, and so much more removed from its in


[ocr errors][ocr errors]


fluence than any one with nearly the same means of observation, and was withal of a nature so perfectly candid, upright, and conscientious, that he may be regarded, we think, as altogether impartial; and we verily believe has set down nothing in this private journal, intended only for his own eye or that of his wife, not only that he did not honestly think, but that he would not have openly stated to the Governor in Council, or to the Court of Directors themselves.

The Bishop sailed for India with his family, in 1823; and in June, 1824, set out on the visitation of his Imperial Diocese, having been obliged, much against his will, to leave his wife and children, on account of their health, behind him. He ascended the Ganges to Dacca and Benares, and proceeded by Oude and Lucknow to Delhi and Agra, and to Almorah, at the base of the Himalaya mountains, and so onward through the newlyacquired provinces of Malwah, to Guzerat and Bombay, where he had the happiness of rejoining Mrs. Heber. They afterwards sailed together to Ceylon; and after some stay in that island, returned, in October, 1825, to Calcutta. In January, 1826, the indefatigable prelate sailed again for Madras, and proceeded in March to the visitation of the southern provinces; but had only reached Tanjore, when his arduous and exemplary career was cut short, and all his labours of love and duty brought to an end, by a sudden and most unexpected death-having been seized with a fit in stepping into the bath, after having spent the morning in the offices of religion, on the 3d of April of that year.

The work before us consists of a very copious journal, written for and transmitted to his wife, during his long peregrinations; and of several most valuable and interesting letters, addressed to her, and to his friends in England, in the course of the same journey; all written in a very pleasing, and even elegant, though familiar style, and indicating in every line not only the clear judgment and various accomplishments of the writer, but the singular kindness of heart and sweetness of temper, by which he seems to have been still more dis


tinguished. He surveys every thing with the vigilance and delight of a cultivated and most active intellect with the eye of an artist, an antiquary, and a naturalist -the feelings and judgment of an English gentleman and scholar-the sympathies of a most humane and generous man—and the piety, charity, and humility of a Christian. The work is somewhat diffuse, and exhibits some repetitions, and perhaps some inconsistencies. It is not such a work, in short, as the author would himself have offered to the public. But we do not know whether it is not more interesting than any that he could have prepared for publication. It carries us more completely into the very heart of the scenes he describes than any such work could have done, and it admits us more into his intimacy. We pity those, we confess, who find it tedious to accompany such a man on such a journey.

It is difficult to select extracts from a work like this; or, rather, it is not worth while to stand on selection. We cannot pretend to give any abstract of the whole, or to transfer to our pages any reasonable proportion of the beauty or instruction it contains. We can only justify our account of it by a few specimens, taken very much at random. The following may serve to show the unaffected and considerate kindness with which he treated his attendants, and all the inferior persons who came in contact with him; and the effects of that kindness on its objects.

"Two of my sepoys had been ill for several days, in much the same way with myself. I had treated them in a similar manner, and they were now doing well: But being Brahmins of high caste, I had much difficulty in conquering their scruples and doubts about the physic which I gave them. They both said that they would rather die than taste wine. They scrupled at my using a spoon to measure their castoroil, and insisted that the water in which their medicines were mixed should be poured by themselves only. They were very grateful, however, particularly for the care I took of them when I was myself ill, and said repeatedly that the sight of me in good health would be better to them than all medicines. They seemed now free from disease, but recovered their strength more slowly than I did; and I was glad to find that the Soubahdar said he was authorized, under such circumstances, to engage a hackery at the Company's expense, to carry them till they were fit to march. He mentioned this in consequence of my offering them a lift on a camel, which they were afraid of trying."



"I had a singular instance this evening of the fact how mere children all soldiers, and I think particularly sepoys, are, when put a little out of their usual way. On going to the place where my escort was hutted, I found that there was not room for them all under its shelter, and that four were preparing to sleep on the open field. Within a hundred yards stood another similar hut unoccupied, a little out of repair, but tolerably tenantable. Why do you not go thither?' was my question. We like to sleep altogether,' was their answer. But why not bring the branches here, and make your own hut larger? see, I will show you the way.' They started up immediately, in great apparent delight; every man brought a bough, and the work was done in five minutes being only interrupted every now and then by exclamations of Good, good, poor man's provider!'".


"A little before five in the morning, the servants came to me for directions, and to say that the good careful old Soubahdar was very ill, and unable to leave his tent. I immediately put on my clothes and went down to the camp, in my way to which they told me, that he had been taken unwell at night, and that Dr. Smith had given him medicine. He opened a vein, and with much humane patience, continued to try different remedies while any chance remained; but no blood flowed, and no sign of life could be detected from the time of his coming up, except a feeble flutter at the heart, which soon ceased. He was at an advanced age, at least for an Indian, though apparently hale and robust. I felt it a comfort that I had not urged him to any exertion, and that in fact I had endeavoured to persuade him to lie still till he was quite well. But I was necessarily much shocked by the sudden end of one who had travelled with me so far, and whose conduct had, in every instance, given me satisfaction. Nor, while writing this, can I recollect without a real pang, his calm countenance and grey hairs, as he sat in his tent door telling his beads in an afternoon, or walked with me, as he seldom failed to do, through the villages on an evening, with his own silver-hilted sabre under his arm, his loose cotton mantle folded round him, and his golden necklace and Rajpoot string just visible above it.

"The death of the poor Soubahdar led to the question, whether there would be still time to send on the baggage. All the Mussulmans pressed our immediate departure; while the Hindoos begged that they might be allowed to stay, at least, till sunset. I determined on remaining, as, in my opinion, more decent and respectful to the memory of a good and aged officer."

"In the way, at Futtehgunge, I passed the tents pitched for the large party which were to return towards Cawnpoor next day, and I was much pleased and gratified by the Soubahdar and the greater number of the sepoys of my old escort running into the middle of the road to bid me another farewell, and again express their regret that they were not going on with me to the world's end.' They who talk of the ingratitude of the Indian character, should, I think, pay a little more attention to cases of this sort. These men neither got nor expected any thing by this little expression of good-will. If I had offered them money, they would have been bound, by the rules of the

« AnteriorContinuar »