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The construction of the language is remarkably simple, and when written, it has very much the appearance of a collection of circles and parts of circles. Dated inscriptions on marble or stone are found in all parts where Europeans have been.
The temples of the country are, in general, small and mean, consisting of masses of brick and mortar, of inelegant exterior. The best idols are made of the fine white marble of Burmah. The talapoins, or priests, are said to be addicted to opium, and to ardent spirits. They are not allowed to work, but are diligent in begging, for they are supported by alms. There is an order of nuns who shave their heads and wear a particular costume, but they are permitted to marry when they please. These women may be seen begging in the market-place.
At the time of every new moon there is a great procession in Ava, the capital, and criers read or repeat a proclamation, enjoining the observation of certain moral precepts. The procession is
BURMESE WARRIOR. headed by the chief hangman, who carries a rod in one hand and a rope in the other, and a band of assistant executioners follow him, each carrying a rod and a rope. In spite of their Buddhism, the people all eat animal food, and human blood is shed with great indifference.
After the Burmese war of 1824, negotiations were entered into with the king, when our mission witnessed some of the curiosities of the court. The king took offence at his ministers, called them liars, cheats, thieves, and traitors, and pursued them sword in hand. On another occasion they were almost all imprisoned. The king had gone on a party of pleasure down the Irrawaddi, and unexpectedly returned by land. His grandees, who were waiting at the river's bank, were, of course, unable to receive his majesty, and for this unavoidable neglect they were thrown into prison, and loaded with three pairs of irons each. The favourite amusement of this monarch was to ride upon a man's shoulders, a mode of equitation which had often been practised by Burmese princes before him. A broad and fleshy-shouldered man of great strength was the favourite horse. An assignment of land and a sonorous title were his reward, and he was one of the greatest men at court. But he had a brother living down the Irrawaddi, who submitted to the British on the approach of our troops. For this fraternal crime the favourite was degraded and put into irons.
The account from which we quote says :
“Our envoy's presentation to this passionate sovereign was a very long affair, in the course of which every possible effort was made, and numerous little tricks played, by the ministers and courtiers, to induce the Englishmen to prostrate themselves in the native fashion. Passing over the procession and the disputes about carrying umbrellas, which are somewhat tedious, we will bring our mission within the palace enclosures. Here, under a shed in one of the court-yards, they were kept waiting for the space of two hours and a half, for the purpose of allowing the Burman princes and grandees to pass, and with the hope of dazzling them with a spectacle of so much splendour. All these personages were attended by very numerous retinues; they were seated in canopied litters, open at the sides, and their elephants and led-horses followed them. The retainers of the queen's brother amounted at least to 400 men, and those of the prince of Sarawaddi, the king's only full-brother, were still more numerous. This very great prince had ten gold umbrellas; and the queen's brother, ranking next to him, eight gold umbrellas. There was no end to umbrellas. The palace being then quite new, with its gilding untarnisfied, looked very gay and brilliant. The throne was at one end of a spacious and well-proportioned hall. The king made his appearance in about ten minutes after the entrance of the mission. His approach was announced by a crash of music. Then a sliding door behind the throne was suddenly opened with a quick and sharp noise. His majesty mounted a flight of steps which led to the throne from behind, apparently moving with much difficulty, as if tottering under the weight of his dress and ornaments. His dress consisted of a tunic of gold tissue, thickly spread with jewels. The crown was a helmet with a high peak, in form resembling the spire of a Burman pagoda. It was said to be all of pure massive gold, and it had all the appearance of being richly studded with rubies and sapphires. In his right hand his majesty held a white tail of the Thibet cow, to serve as a flapper. Having frequently waved this cow-tail to and fro, brished himself and the throne, and adjusted his cumbrous habiliments, he took his seat. At this solemn moment the Burman courtiers prostrated themselves, and went through the ko-too, and the English gentlemen took off their hats, and raised the right hand to their foreheads as an additional mark of respect. The queen presented herself very shortly after his majesty, and seated herself upon the throne, at his right hand. Her dress was of the same fabric and quite as rich as that of the king. Her crown of gold, like his, was studded with precious gems ; but it differed in form, and much resembled a Roman helmet. A little princess, their only child, and about five years of age, followed her majesty, and seated herself between her parents. The queen was received by the courtiers with the same prostrations as her husband.”
This scene, alloyed by many circumstances, did not much impress our countrymen. They saw the white elephant of the king, which, however, appeared to be rather an indispensable part of the regalia than an object of worship. To be without this animal would be deemed peculiarly unpropitious by the Burmese. A report was brought to Ava, whilst our mission was there, that another had been seen, but it was stated that its capture and transport would destroy ten thousand baskets of rice. " What signifies the destruction of ten thousand baskets of rice, in comparison with the possession of another white elephant !” his majesty is said to have exclaimed. Officers with long rods in their hands attended the mission from the palace to the river.
These are atrocious criminals, pardoned on condition of becoming constables, gaolers, and executioners in one. They have the brand of a ring on each cheek, and such epithets as Man-killer, Robber, Thief, are tattooed upon their breasts.
The queen sprang from a family of fishermen and fishvendors, and the prince, her brother, had once sold fish. The freedom which females enjoy is remarkable, when contrasted with their secluded condition in Hindoostan and other Asiatic countries.
Ava, the capital, is girt by a brick wall fifteen and a half feet in height and ten feet in thickness – for the most part wretchedly built. The Irrawaddi defends the south and west faces of the town by a deep and rapid torrent. The houses are generally mere huts, thatched with reeds or grass, and in all there are, or were, not perhaps six constructed of brick and mortar. Large spaces are
totally without habitations, and Mr. Crawford, our envoy, did not think that the city contained 25,000 people. The tall white or gilded spires of its many temples give it an imposing appearance at a distance.
Rangoon is most advantageously situated for commerce and for shipbuilding, and the Burmese are excellent shipwrights.
The ox, the buffalo, the horse, and the elephant are domesticated--the two first animals being of a very good kind. The horses rarely exceed thirteen hands. Pigs and dogs prowl about the villages, and are only diminished by disease and starvation. Cats are very numerous, and are generally of a half-tailed breed. Wild animals and game abound in the uninhabited and uncultivated tracts, which comprise a vast portion of the country. The elephant is especially abundant in the forests of Pegu, where the one-horned rhinoceros is almost as common. Tigers, leopards, bears, buffaloes, oxen, hogs, cats, civet cats, otters, and deer are all found the last more frequently in Pegu than in any other part of India. The wild cock may be heard crowing on the Irrawaddi in every little jungle. There are also peacocks, pheasants, partridges, and quails, with geese, ducks, and snipes, in profusion. The valuable teak tree grows in great abundance. The shingan is highly prized by the Burmese, who hollow out their common canoes from a trunk of this tree. The soondry is another valuable tree, which grows in great quantities and of large size. The bamboo attains extraordinary girth, so that joints of it make convenient vessels. The catechu tree, and another which yields varnish, both grow here. Rice, maize, wheat, millet, pulses, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, and indigo, are grown in different parts of the country.
Gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, lead, antimony, petroleum, nitre, natron, salt, coal, amber, gems, noble serpentine, limestone, and marble, are mineral products of the kingdom. Fine statuary marble
be obtained in immense quantities. Petroleum supplies the place of candles to the Burmese, and coal is thought to be abundant. Iron appears to be plentiful, especially in the mountains of Lao. Under good government the productions of Burmah would afford the materials for a valuable commerce.
Our sketch would be very incomplete without a glance at the efforts which are making to Christianize Burmah. The Scriptures have been translated into Burmese, and the New Testament into Haren and Peguan. A grammar and dictionary of the first and last of these languages have been compiled. Thus a foundation has been laid for the Christianization of the people. Great numbers of books and tracts have been printed, including elementary works on history, astronomy, geography, trigonometry, surveying, and other subjects. What appears now to be especially wanted, is an increase of the scanty band of labourers, and the earnest prayers of the church for a blessing upon their efforts. Southeastern Asia, with its teeming millions, has peculiar claims upon the friends of missions--or, in other words, upon the friends of
The evangelization of China, in particular, is an object which may well arouse the energies of the church. The idolatries of India plead mournfully for those who are under their influence. To what nobler end could our readers devote themselves than to aid in the accomplishment of these soul-stirring objects ? Let them gird themselves to that work which will yield eternal wages. But for misssionary zeal our own Church would never have been planted in these islands. And few things, perhaps, would contribute more to build up her breaches, and to bring back those who are absent from her table, than an earnest devotion, on her part, to the conversion of the heathen. Such a grand and inspiring object would leave neither time nor inclination for contention on unimportant matters.
THE ZOUAVES. The name “Zouaouas, Zouaouas,” or as it is more frequently spelt
, “ Zouaves,” is a softened form of Gaouaoua, a tribe of the Kabyls or primitive Berbers, the race which gave name to Barbary. They formed a confederation inhabiting the lofty mountains and steep hills between Bougie and Dellis, and have always been remarkable for their independent spirit and warlike predilections. Intrenched in their thick woods or inaccessible rocks, they braved in times past the Mussulman authorities of Bougie, and paid no taxes except when they pleased. Although they recognised the sovereignty of the Sultan, they scrupulously abstained from every act which could be interpreted to imply vassalage. Some of their tribes have never paid any contribution to the Turkish government, contenting themselves with a payment to the Zaouias, or religious establishments. Like the rest of the Kabyls, the Zouaouas have always been intrepid foot-soldiers ; a restless spirit, a craving for adventure, and love of fighting-qualities which distinguish them from all the other groups of the Jurjura-induce them to lend out their