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THE SWEDISH M1NER.*
Like grey Time bent over Beauty's decay,
She gazed in her night of age
Of her old life's pilgrimage—
He was as he parted when they met last,
Though fifty long years were gone,
Since they talk'd in the moonlight alone
They parted in promise, and met no more—
While none knew the fate of his youth;
With the dream of their plighted truth;
And she was decrepid and palsied, while he,
Save the power of breathmg her name,
And the vigour and grace of his frame ,
Oh was he the same! yes, the form was there,
What alone with young years must dwell—
These were not for her, they were long since dead,
As he that recall'd them now—
It still warm'd her own old brow—
She was almost pleased that he did not liu-,
Since for her he could never be—
Of a first love's jealousy:
And thought of her youthful prime |
Back to the ancient lime;
• The body of a young Swedish miner was lately discovered in one of the mines of Dalccarlia, fresh and in a state of perfect preservation, from the action of the mineral waters iu which it had been immersed. No one could recognize the bodysave an old woman, who knew it to be that of her lover:—he had perished fifty years before!
SKETCHES OF INDIA.—NO. I.
Tiiosb who have been acquainted with the British possessions and native states of India, for the last twenty or thirty years, must have remarked a change which has been gradually taking place in the appearance, and what may be termed the moral costume, of these countries; since they have become more pervious to and familiarised with the sight of European travellers. An air of magic, a feeling of romance hung in days of yore over every part of this land of promise; a spell framed of novelty and magnificence fascinated every adventurer that touched its strand, and prepared him for scenes of wonder, luxury, and riches; nor was his expectation disappointed. Whatever the price he might pay in loss of time or health, pleasures courted his acceptance, and .an almost ideal state of luxury and grandeur opened on his view, calculated to revive in his mind, if not to realize, the wonders of those Arabian tales that delighted his boyhood.
The perfect contrast which every thing that meets the eye of an European when he lands in India affords to all he has left )>chind him, even in these later days, transports him quite to another world; and how much greater must the effect have been in former times, when little or nothing savouring of Europe was to be seen in any part of that country. "As far as the East is from the West," so opposite is the appearance of the natives and their soil, their complexion, dress, language, manners, character; their climate, sky, vegetation, yea, even the very odours and perfumes that float upon the air, to every thing a native of the British isles can have seen in the country he has quitted. The crowds of natives that hover around him when he lands, with their dark bodies in a state of almost primitive nakedness, offering a strong and strange contrast to their pure white and almost feminine garments; their respect, and offers of service; the novel appearance of the streets through which he passes; the rich fruits offered in profusion to his acceptance, more grateful and inviting from the intense heat of the climate; the spacious apartments to which, when he finds a home, he becomes introduced, with the various inventions of necessity or luxury for rendering this heat supportable; the palanquins, horses, carriages that await his call, all so different from any thing he can have seen before, seldom fail powerfully to excite the imagination of the new corner.
But if this be the case upon his landing in a part of the country deeply tinctured with European manners, how greatly will this excitement be increased if his fate lead him into the interior and to the court of a Native prince. There any thing connected with Europe is lost sight of, and eastern manners and eastern pomp assume its place: the Natives, unchecked by the control of their conquerors, exhibit their inherent taste for luxury and show; numerous and glittering cavalcades, rich costumes, elephants, camels, and horses magnificently caparisoned, with multitudes of attendants gaily attired in all the pride of their various official badges, silver sticks, spears, and arms of all descriptions, flit along and dazzle the eye at every turning; crowded and rich bazaars, with the endless variety of scenery and incident they afford, attract the gaze in passing through the streets, and the increase of glitter and show, of noise and bustle, is striking beyond description. But, besides all this, there is a tone peculiar to such places difficult to describe, depending greatly upon the intercourse with Native society which a residence in such situations must involve; upon the continually associating with, and entering to a certain degree familiarly into the domestic habits of those who differ so widely from every thing hitherto known in manners and character, even in the most trivial acts of life; upon the novel and peculiar appearance of all that surrounds one, the dresses, the furniture, the architecture; the nature of the conversation turning upon subjects and adventures quite peculiar to the country and its customs; of the occupations and amusements, the shows, nautches, feasts, the very ceremonies attendant upon each act of the day, even the perfumes and flowers, and the thousand little nothings, which, though almost imperceptible themselves, are like the condiments of life, and give it its peculiar flavour. It is under the influence of all this, and the enjoyments which such places afford, that an European grows fascinated with India, and particularly with the courts of her Native princes, till, custom becoming a second nature, he loves and would pine for want of what at first only dazzled and amused him. It is in the loss of this tone, in the decay of this kind of intercourse, of this Asiatic costume of society, that the change to which I allude consists. In the wide range of our Indian dominions nothing of the sort now can be found; the courts of all the Indian princes these include, have changed into quiet and monotonous civil stations, where the object is to introduce European, and discard Native habits. Perhaps were the loss of ancient feelings only in question, this change, though surely to be regretted, would be of comparatively small importance; but the consequences of such a line of conduct, it is to be feared, go further: so far from entertaining a wish to conciliate the conquered, and thereby to lighten their chains, and dispose them to become contented and peaceable subjects, it might be thought that the policy of the conquerors of India was the very reverse, and had in view to oppress and even amnihilate every family of rank within their dominions; and the consequence is, that there are now few noble Mahometan families to be met with of easy fortunes who are not borne down by depressing circumstances which crush their native energy. It is contrary to the usage of the Company's government, indeed contrary to the nature of its constitution, to employ any Native, let his rank or respectability be what it may, in an office yielding a salary of more than three or four hundred rupees per month: this is a consideration too small to tempt individuals of good family, or at least far too small to keep those honest that accept such offices. Native families of rank are thus debarred from a great source of respectable provision for their younger branches; and labouring under very considerable disabilities of different descriptions besides, let their property be what it may, they must in time decay and fall into want; for the elder branch is forced to support the rest, seeing that they have no means of supporting themselves; at his death a subdivision, and too often a scramble for the property, ensues; and all is thus gradually frittered away. It is, indeed, melancholy to see the descendants of noble old Moghul or Palace families, whose ancestors came into India with the Ghaurees, the Lodis, the Timoors of old, sunk into such obscurity and poverty, that they are forced to sell piecemeal the property they have preserved from the wreck of their fortunes, to furnish their wives and children with bread.
But do the individuals of the service endeavour to alleviate the sufferings which the policy of their government inflicts? Seldom indeed can it be said that this is the case. How rare is it to witness the least attempt upon the part of any servant of the Company to associate with Natives of whatever rank 1 Little intercourse indeed is maintained between the European and Native society of India, and what little there is, is restricted to a few occasional and very formal visits; there is no cordiality on the European side, no disposition to attract or bring forward the Natives; and yet I cannot doubt, from what I have observed, that had the policy of government been different, had it pointed to a greater encouragement of the higher Natives, we might have seen a considerable and respectable body of that description greatly more attached to government than they now can be, in pleasant and even familiar habits with their rulers, and, in all probability, a far greater portion of good morals and the blessings we profess so earnestly to bestow upon the East, spread over our Indian empire. It will be evident to those who are acquainted with the country in question, that in what has been observed above I have alluded principally to the Mahomedan states of India; few of the Hindoo principalities have for a long time past been in any condition to uphold their original dignity, except the Mahratta powers, whose characteristic is plainness of style almost to affectation: nor under circumstances the most favourable would their religious prejudices suffer Hindoos to entertain with Europeans an intercourse so intimate as might subsist between the latter and Mahomedans.
Until lately there were still a few of the Mahomedan courts of India that continued to display much of genuine Indian pomp and characteristic magnificence, where the costume and tone, above alluded to, might be observed in its ancient purity; and among those in the upper provinces, Lucnow, the residence of the Nawaub Vizier of Oude, and Delhi, the ancient seat of the Great Moghul's court, were most remarkable for that peculiarity. Delhi indeed has for a long time been much poorer and more forlorn than the former; but its palaces, its monuments, its gigantic ruins, the venerable traces of antiquity and the historical associations attached to every spot in and around that once noble city, gave an interest which all the splendour and riches of its more modern rival could never excite.
Delhi has now passed into that state which has been the fate of all other British acquisitions in India; it has become a civil station, occupied by commissioners and collectors of the Company, with the usual proportion of Sepoys and their officers; and, of the numerous families of old nobles that still clung to the ruin of that throne which had been a shadow and protection to their forefathers, hardly one appears to remain; while the old king, an honourable prisoner in the palace of his ancestors, maintains with the few attendants that adhere to his fallen state, the pageant of a court in those halls where but a century ago an European durst not have attempted to appear.
Lucnow, by a compromise fortunate for its possessor, has distanced the evil day; he still retains his state, his liberty, and his wealth, if not his power; and although the British influence, which so powerfully acted in the destinies of this state, with the strong bias of some of its rulers for every thing English, has introduced here a tinge of European fashion, we may behold at Lucmow the spectacle of a Mahomedan court of very considerable splendour preserving, even in these days, a great share of its pristine usages. Lucnow is but a modern city, which rose upon the decay of Oude, the capital of the province of that name, by the favour of Sirjah u Dowlah, and his successors, the sovereigns of the country. It is situated on the bank of the Ghoomtee, in a level and sandy country, rendered fertile around the town by dint of considerable labour. Little is seen, on approaching the city, but a thick forest of bamboos, mangoes, topes, and trellis gardens, above which, here and there, arise the minarets, domes, and turrets of the mosques and palaces. The only decent approach is by a bridge, which leads at once to the quarter of the city occupied by the Nawaub and his court; from every other side the traveller must make his way through narrow and filthy lanes, or among mean and ruinous buildings, in streets where his elephant, if he rides one, can hardly move along without unroofing the wretched hovels as it passes. The first time I entered this capital was upon the eve of a festival; and the contrast was particularly striking, when, after traversing an endless length of such disgusting paths, the palaces of the Nawaub and the British resident, with their extensive dependencies, all illuminated by a brilliant display of fireworks, burst upon my view. The palaces belonging to the Nawaub, with their contents, and the buildings, public and private, erected by his predecessors, comprise, indeed, almost the only objects worthy of attention in Lucnow; the rest of the city is but a mass of miserable brick or mud buildings, huddled together without regard to convenience, cleanliness, or ventilation, and interspersed with a quantity of wood; in short, a common Indian town, though upon a very large scale. The principal town residences of the present Prince (whom, as he has of late assumed the crown and style of royalty, I shall henceforth term King) are situated in an inclosure upon the banks of the Ghoomtee, several miles in extent, and comprising a vast deal of building. Within are lodged not only his own family, but a great proportion of his servants and the numerous retainers of the court, as well as the troops that are continually on duty. The principal stables, containing many hundred horses, are also situated here, as well as those for a portion of the royal elephants and camels, with the menagerie and aviary, all extensive establishments. The chief palaces within this inclosure are those of Terookh Buksh, Meerza Cotee Wallah, and Mubaick Munzil. The former, which embraces a variety of extensive buildings erected upon the river banks, is occupied by the king and his family. This pile consists of a variety of courts, tanks, fountains, and parterres, with suites of apartments, some of which are handsome and extensive, after the usual manner of Native houses upon a large scale; but in those to which the public are admitted, a strange mixture of European frippery with Asiatic decoration, may be observed. Mirrors of all sizes, coloured prints, many of them of the meanest description, in fine gilt frames; paltry Chinese drawings, magnificent and jewelled time-pieces, ornamental china, statues of various descriptions, huddled altogether with the most perfect contempt of arrangement, lend their glitter to adorn many of the public apartments, which