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tion to God and good-will to man; and, touching every object with the light of a clear judgment and a pure heart, exhibits the rare spectacle of a work written by a priest upon religious creeds and establishments, without a shade of intolerance; and bringing under review the characters of a vast multitude of eminent individuals, without one trait either of sarcasm or adulation.
BISHOP HEBER-EXCELLENT TONE OF HIS BOOK.
SKETCHES OF INDIA EGYPT AND ITALY.
1. Sketches of India. Written by an OFFICER, for Fire-Side
2. Scenes and Impressions in Egypt and in Italy. By the
THESE are very amiable books: and, besides the good
MOST TRAVELS TOO AMBITIOUS.
vious knowledge, and too painful an effort of attention. They are not books of travels, in short, but works of science and philosophy; and as the principal delight of travelling consists in the impressions which we receive, almost passively, from the presentment of new objects, and the reflections to which they spontaneously give rise, so the most delightful books of travels should be those that give us back those impressions in their first freshness and simplicity, and excite us to follow out the train of feelings and reflection into which they lead us, by the direct and unpretending manner in which they are suggested. By aiming too ambitiously at instruction and research, this charm is lost; and we often close these copious dissertations and details, needlessly digested in the form of a journal, without having the least idea how we, or any other ordinary person, would have felt as companions of the journey-thoroughly convinced, certainly, that we should not have occupied ourselves as the writers before us seem to have been occupied; and pretty well satisfied, after all, that they themselves were not so occupied during the most agreeable hours of their wanderings, and had omitted in their books what they would most frequently recall in their moments of enjoyment and leisure.
Nor are these records of superficial observation to be disdained as productive of entertainment only, or altogether barren of instruction. Very often the surface presents all that is really worth considering-or all that we are capable of understanding;-and our observer, we are taking it for granted, is, though no great philosopher, an intelligent and educated man-looking curiously at all that presents itself, and making such passing inquiries as may satisfy a reasonable curiosity, without greatly disturbing his indolence or delaying his progress. Many themes of reflection and topics of interest will be thus suggested, which more elaborate and exhausting discussions would have strangled in the birth-while, in the variety and brevity of the notices which such a scheme of writing implies, the mind of the reader is not only more agreeably excited, but is furnished, in the
CHARM AND VALUE OF THESE VOLUMES.
long run, with more materials for thinking, and solicited to more lively reflections, than by any quantity of exact knowledge on plants, stones, ruins, manufactures, or history.
Such, at all events, is the merit and the charm of the volumes before us. They place us at once by the side of the author-and bring before our eyes and minds the scenes he has passed through, and the feelings they suggested. In this last particular, indeed, we are entirely at his mercy; and we are afraid he sometimes makes rather an unmerciful use of his power. It is one of the hazards of this way of writing, that it binds us up in the strictest intimacy and closest companionship with the author. Its attraction is in its direct personal sympathy-and its danger in the temptation it holds out to abuse it. It enables us to share the grand spectacles with which the traveller is delighted-but compels us in a manner to share also in the sentiments with which he is pleased to connect them. For the privilege of seeing with his eyes, we must generally renounce that of using our own judgment—and submit to adopt implicitly the tone of feeling which he has found most congenial with the
On the present occasion, we must say, the reader, on the whole, has been fortunate. The author, though an officer in the King's service, and not without professional predilections, is, generally speaking, a speculative, sentimental, saintly sort of person-with a taste for the picturesque, a singularly poetical cast of diction, and a mind deeply imbued with principles of philanthropy and habits of affection:- And if there is something of fadaise now and then in his sentiments, and something of affectation in his style, it is no more than we can easily forgive, in consideration of his brevity, his amiableness, and variety.
The "Sketches of India," a loose-printed octavo of 350 pages, is the least interesting perhaps of the two volumes now before us-though sufficiently marked with all that is characteristic of the author. as well to let him begin at the beginning.
It may be
A STRANGER'S FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF INDIA.
"On the afternoon of July the 10th, 1818, our vessel dropped anchor in Madras Roads, after a fine run of three months and ten days from the Motherbank.-How changed the scene! how great the contrast! Ryde, and its little snug dwellings, with slated or thatched roofs, its neat gardens, its green and sloping shores.- Madras and its naked fort, noble-looking buildings, tall columns, lofty verandahs, and terraced roofs. The city, large and crowded, on a flat site; a low sandy beach, and a foaming surf. The roadstead, there, alive with beautiful yachts, light wherries, and tight-built fishing barks. Here, black, shapeless Massoolah boats, with their naked crews, singing the same wild (yet not unpleasing) air, to which, for ages, the dangerous surf they fearlessly ply over has been rudely responsive.
"I shall never forget the sweet and strange sensations which, as I went peacefully forward, the new objects in nature excited in my bosom. The rich broad-leaved plantain; the gracefully drooping bamboo; the cocoa nut, with that mat-like-looking binding for every branch; the branches themselves waving with a feathery motion in the wind; the bare lofty trunk and fan leaf of the tall palm; the slender and elegant stem of the areca; the large aloes; the prickly pear; the stately banyan with drop-branches, here fibrous and pliant, there strong and columnar, supporting its giant arms, and forming around the parent stem a grove of beauty; and among these wonders, birds all strange in plumage and in note, save the parroquet (at home, the lady's pet-bird in a gilded cage), here spreading his bright green wings in happy fearless flight, and giving his natural and untaught
It was late and dark when we reached Poonamallee ; and during the latter part of our march we had heavy rain. We found no fellow-countryman to welcome us: But the mess-room was open and lighted, a table laid, and a crowd of smart roguish-looking natives, seemed waiting our arrival to seek service. -Drenched to the skin, without changes of linen, or any bedding, we sat down to the repast provided; and it would have been difficult to have found in India, perhaps, at the moment, a more cheerful party than ours.-Four or five clean-looking natives, in white dresses with red or white turbans, ear-rings of gold, or with emerald drops, and large silver signet rings on their fingers, crowded round each chair, and watched our every glance to anticipate our wishes. Curries, vegetables, and fruits, all new to us, were tasted and pronounced upon; and after a meal, of which every one seemed to partake with grateful good humour, we lay down for the night. One attendant brought a small carpet, another a mat, others again a sheet or counterpane, till all were provided with something; and thus closed our first evening in India. — The morning scene was very ludicrous. Here, a barber, uncalled for, was shaving a man as he still lay dozing! there, another was cracking the joints of a man half dressed; here were two servants, one pouring water on, the other washing, a Saheb's hands. In spite of my efforts to prevent them, two well-dressed men were washing my feet; and near me was a lad dexterously putting on the clothes of a sleepy