Preferred Citation: Mahomet, Dean. The Travels of Dean Mahomet: An Eighteenth-Century Journey through India. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1997 1997.

The Travels of Dean Mahomet, A Native of Patna in Bengal, Through Several Parts of India, While in the Service of The Honourable The East India CompanyWritten by Himself, In a Series of Letters to a Friend

2. The Travels of Dean Mahomet,
A Native of Patna in Bengal,
Through Several Parts of India,
While in the Service of
The Honourable The East India Company
Written by Himself,
In a Series of Letters to a Friend


To William A. Bailie, Esq., Colonel in the Service of
The Honourable the East India Company


Your distinguished character both in public and private life, is a powerful incitement for soliciting your patronage; and your condescension in permitting me to honour my humble production with your name, claims my best acknowledgements.

Though praise is a kind of tribute due to shining merit and abilities; yet, Sir, even envy must confess, that your well-earned laurels, the meed of military virtues, obtained in the service of the Honourable the East India Company, have been too eminently conspicuous, to receive any additional lustre from the language of Encomium.

Your respectable name prefixed to these pages, cannot fail to shield them with the armour of security, as the judicious must be highly gratified with the peculiar propriety of inscribing them to a Gentleman so perfectly conversant with scenes, which I have attempted to describe.

Allow me to request, Sir, your indulgence for any inaccuracies of style, or other imperfections, that may arrest your judgment in glancing over this Work, as my situation in life, and want of the literary attainments, that refine and polish the European, preclude me from embellishing it, with that elegance of expression, and those fine touches of the imagination, which always animate the performance of cultivated genius.

However, Sir, I have endeavoured, at least, to please; and the sincerity of my intention, will, I trust, in some degree, make even an inadequate compensation for my deficiency in learning and refinement. I have the Honor to remain,

Sir, with the most profound veneration, your much obliged, and devoted, humble servant, Dean Mahomet, Cork, South-Mall, Jan. 15, 1794.

[List of subscribers omitted]

Figure 1. Dean Mahomet, an East Indian (Mahomet, Travels, frontispiece).

Letter I

Dear Sir,

Since my arrival in this country, I find you have been very anxious to be made acquainted with the early part of my Life, and the History of my Travels: I shall be happy to gratify you; and must ingenuously confess, when I first came to Ireland, I found the face of every thing about me so contrasted to those striking scenes in India, which we are wont to survey with a kind of sublime delight, that I felt some timid inclination, even in the consciousness of incapacity, to describe the manners of my countrymen, who, I am proud to think, have still more of the innocence of our ancestors, than some of the boasting philosophers of Europe.

Though I acknowledge myself incapable of doing justice to the merits of men, whose happy manners are worthy the imitation of civilized nations, yet, you will do me the justice to believe, that the gratification of your wishes, is the principal incitement that engages me to undertake a work of this nature: the earnest entreaties of some friends, and the liberal encouragement of others, to whom I express my acknowledgements, I allow, are secondary motives.

The people of India, in general, are peculiarly favoured by Providence in the possession of all that can cheer the mind and allure the eye, and tho' the situation of Eden is only traced in the Poet's creative fancy, the traveller beholds with admiration the face of this delightful country, on which he discovers tracts that resemble those so finely drawn by the animated pencil of Milton. You will here behold the generous soil crowned with various plenty; the garden beautifully diversified with the gayest flowers diffusing their fragrance on the bosom of the air; and the very bowels of the earth enriched with inestimable mines of gold and diamonds.

Possessed of all that is enviable in life, we are still more happy in the exercise of benevolence and good-will to each other, devoid of every species of fraud or low cunning. In our convivial enjoyments, we are never without our neighbours; as it is usual for an individual, when he gives an entertainment, to invite all those of his own profession to partake of it. That profligacy of manners too conspicuous in other parts of the world, meets here with public indignation, and our women, though not so accomplished as those of Europe, are still very engaging for many virtues that exalt the sex.

As I have now given you a sketch of the manners of my country; I shall proceed to give you some account of myself.

I was born in the year 1759, in Patna, a famous city on the north [south] side of the Ganges, about 400 miles from Calcutta, the capital of Bengal and seat of the English Government in that country. I was too young when my father died, to learn any great account of his family; all I have been able to know respecting him, is, that he was descended from the same race as the Nabobs of Moorshadabad [Murshidabad]. He was appointed Subadar in a battalion of Seapoys commanded by Captain Adams, a company of which under his command was quartered at a small district not many miles from Patna, called Tarchpoor [Tajpur], an inconsiderable fort, built on the side of a little river that takes its rise a few miles up the country. Here he was stationed in order to keep this fort.

In the year 1769, a great dearth overspread the country about Tarchpoor, where the Rajas' Boudmal [Budhmal], and his brother Corexin [Kora Singh] resided, which they took an advantage of by pretending it was impossible for them to remit the stipulated supplies to the Raja Sataproy [Shitab Rai], who finding himself disappointed in his expectations, sent some of his people to compel them to pay: but the others retired within their forts, determined on making an obstinate defence. My father having received orders to lead out his men to the scene of dispute, which lay about twelve miles from the fort he was quartered in, marched accordingly, and soon after his arrival at Taharah [Telarha], took the Raja Boudmal prisoner, and sent him under a strong guard to Patna, where he was obliged to account for his conduct. My father remained in the field, giving the enemy some striking proofs of the courage of their adversary; which drove them to such measures, that they strengthened their posts and redoubled their attacks with such ardour, that many of our men fell, and my lamented father among the rest; but not till he had entirely exhausted the forces of the Raja, who, at length, submitted. The soldiers, animated by his example, made Corexin a prisoner, and took possession of the fort.

Thus have I been deprived of a gallant father, whose firmness and resolution was manifested in his military conduct on several occasions.

My brother, then about sixteen years old, and the only child my mother had besides me, was present at the engagement, and having returned home, made an application to Capt. Adams who, in gratitude to the memory of my father, whose services he failed not to represent to the Governor, speedily promoted him to his post. My mother and I suffered exceedingly by his sudden yet honourable fate in the field: for my Brother was then too young and thoughtless, to pay any great attention to our situation.

I was about eleven years old when deprived of my father, and though children are seldom possessed of much sensibility or reflection at such immature years, yet I recollect well no incident of my life ever made so deep an impression on my mind. Nothing could wear from my memory the remembrance of his tender regard. As he was a Mahometan, he was interred with all the pomp and ceremony usual on the occasion. I remained with my mother some time after, and acquired a little education at a school in Patna.

Letter II

Dear Sir,

In a few months after my father's fate, my mother and I went to Patna to reside: she lived pretty comfortable on some of the property she was entitled to in right of her husband: the rest of his substance, with his commission, came into the hands of my brother: our support was made better by the liberality of the Begum and Nabob, to whom my Father was related: the Begum was remarkably affectionate and attentive to us.

The Raja Sataproy had a very magnificent palace in the centre of the city of Patna, where he was accustomed to entertain many of the most distinguished European Gentlemen, with brilliant balls and costly suppers. My mother's house was not far from the Raja's palace; and the number of Officers passing by our door in their way thither, attracted my notice, and excited the ambition I already had of entering on a military life. With this notion, I was always on the watch, and impatiently waited for the moment of their passing by our door; when, one evening in particular, as they went along, I seized the happy opportunity, and followed them directly to the palace, at the outward gates of which there are sentinels placed, to keep off the people and clear the passage for the Gentlemen; I however got admittance, on account of the respect the guards paid my father's family. The Gentlemen go to the palace between seven and eight o'clock in the evening, take tea and coffee, and frequently amuse themselves by forming a party to dance; when they find themselves warm, they retire to the palace yard, where there are marquees pitched for their reception; here they seat themselves in a circular form, under a semiana, a sort of canopy made of various coloured double muslin, supported by eight poles, and on the ground is spread a beautiful carpet; the Raja sits in the centre; the European Gentlemen on each side; and the Music in the front. The Raja, on this occasion, is attended by his Aid-du-Camps and Servants of rank. Dancing girls are now introduced, affording, at one time, extreme delight, by singing in concert with the Music, the softest and most lively airs; at another time, displaying such loose and fascinating attitudes in their various dances, as would warm the bosom of an Anchoret: while the servants of the Raja are employed in letting off the fire-works, displaying, in the most astonishing variety, the forms of birds, beasts, and other animals, and far surpassing any thing of the kind I ever beheld in Europe: and to give additional brilliancy to the splendor of the scene, lighted branches blaze around, and exhibit one general illumination. Extremely pleased with such various entertainment, the Gentlemen sit down to an elegant supper, prepared with the utmost skill, by an Officer of the Raja, whose sole employ is to provide the most delicious viands on such an occasion: ice-cream, fowl of all kinds, and the finest fruit in the world, compose but a part of the repast to which the guests are invited. The Raja was very happy with his convivial friends; and though his religion forbids him to touch many things handled by persons of a different profession, yet he accepted a little fruit from them; supper was over about twelve o'clock, and the company retired, the Raja to his palace, and the Officers to their quarters.

I was highly pleased with the appearance of the military Gentlemen, among whom I first beheld Mr. Baker, who particularly drew my attention: I followed him without any restraint through every part of the palace and tents, and remained a spectator of the entire scene of pleasure, till the company broke up; and then returned home to my mother, who felt some anxiety in my absence. When I described the gaiety and splendor I beheld at the entertainment, she seemed very much dissatisfied, and expressed, from maternal tenderness, her apprehensions of losing me.

Nothing could exceed my ambition of leading a soldier's life: the notion of carrying arms, and living in a camp, could not be easily removed: my fond mother's entreaties were of no avail: I grew anxious for the moment that would bring the military Officers by our door. Whenever I perceived their route, I instantly followed them; sometimes to the Raja's palace, where I had free access; and sometimes to a fine tennis court, generally frequented by them in the evenings, which was built by Col. Champion, at the back of his house, in a large open square, called Mersevillekeebaug [Mir Afzal ka Bagh]: here, among other Gentlemen, I one day, discovered Mr. Baker, and often passed by him, in order to attract his attention: he, at last, took particular notice of me, observing that I surveyed him with a kind of secret satisfaction; and in a very friendly manner, asked me how I would like living with the Europeans: this unexpected encouragement, as it flattered my hopes beyond expression, occasioned a very sudden reply: I therefore told him with eager joy, how happy he could make me, by taking me with him. He seemed very much pleased with me, and assuring me of his future kindness, hoped I would merit it. Major Herd [Heard] was in company with him at the same time: and both these Gentlemen appeared with distinguished eclat in the first assemblies in India. I was decently clad in the dress worn by children of my age: and though my mother was materially affected in her circumstances, by the precipitate death of my father, she had still the means left of living in a comfortable manner, and providing both for her own wants and mine.

Letter III

Dear Sir,

My mother observing some alteration in my conduct, since I first saw Mr. Baker, naturally supposed that I was meditating a separation from her. She knew I spoke to him; and apprehensive that I would go with him, she did everything in her power to frustrate my intentions. Notwithstanding all her vigilance, I found means to join my new master, with whom I went early the next morning to Bankeepore [Bankipur], leaving my mother to lament my departure. As Bankeepore is but a few miles from Patna, we shortly arrived there, that morning. It is a wide plain, near the banks of the Ganges, on which we encamped in the year of 1769. It commands a most beautiful prospect of the surrounding country. Our camp consisted of four regiments of Seapoys, one of Europeans, two companies of Cavalry, and one of European Artillery: the Commander in Chief was Col. Leslie; and next to him in military rank was Major Morrison; Capt. Lundick [Landeg] had the direction of the Cavalry; and Capt. Duff of the Artillery. The camp extended in two direct lines, at Patna side, along the river, on the banks of which, for the convenience of water, were built the Europeans' bangaloes: at one extremity of the line, was Col. Leslie's; at the other, Major Morrison's. The second line was drawn in a parallel direction with the first, at a about a quarter of a mile from the river; the front was the residence of the Officers; the rere a barrack for the soldiers; and the intermediate space was left open for the purpose of exercising the men, a duty which was, every day, performed with punctuality. Near a mile farther off, was the Seapoys' chaumnies; and a short space from them, the horse barrack. Thus was the situation of the camp at Bankeepore.

The Officers' bangaloes were constructed on a plan peculiar to the taste of the natives. They were quite square; the sides were made of mats, and the roof, which was supported by pillars, thatched with bamboes and straw, much after the manner of the farmer's houses in this country [Ireland]: their entrance was wide, and opened to a spacious hall that contained on each wing, the servants' apartments, inside which, were the gentlemen's dining-rooms and bed-chambers, with large frames in the partitions, and purdoes, that answered the same end as our doors and windows fastened to those frames.

Purdoes' are a contrivance made of coarse muslin, ornamented with fancy stripes and variegated colours, and so well quilted that they render the coolest situations agreeably warm: they are let up and down occasionally, to invite the refreshing breeze, or repel the sickly sunbeam. Inside is a kind of screen called cheeque, made of bamboes as small as wire, and interwoven in a curious manner, with various coloured thread, that keeps them together: it is let up and down like the purdoe, when occasion requires, and, admirable to conceive! precludes the prying eye outside from piercing through it, though it kindly permits the happy person within to gaze on every passing object.

The Colonel and Major had larger and more commodious bangaloes, than the other Officers, with adjacent out-houses, and stables. On the left angle, fronting the road, was the Colonel's guard-house, and stood diametrically opposite to his bangaloe; between which and those of the Officers, is situate an ever-verdant grove inclosed with a brick wall: overshadowed by the spreading trees inside, a few grand edifices built by the Nabobs, made a fine appearance; among which was the Bank of Messieurs Herbert and Halambury [Hollingberry], the dwelling of Mr. Barry [Berrie], Contract Agent, and a powder magazine.

The barrack of the European soldiers, was a range of apartments, whose partitions were made of mats and bamboes, and roofs thatched with straw. The chaumnies of the Seapoys were on the same plan; and such of them as had families, built dwellings near the chaumnies.

There are but few public buildings at Bankeepore: the only remarkable one that appeared in its environs, was the house of Mr. Goolden [Golding], who lived about a mile from the camp: it was a fine spacious building, finished in the English style; and as it stood on a rising ground, it seemed to rear its dome in stately pride, over the aromatic plains and spicy groves that adorned the landscape below, commanding an extensive prospect of all the fertile vales along the winding Ganges flowery banks. The happy possessor of this finely situated mansion, was in high esteem among the Officers, for his politeness and hospitality.

At some distance from Mr. Goolden's, lived Mr. Rumble [Rumbold], a Gentleman who received the Contracts of the Company, for the supply of Boats and other small craft. Mr. Baker had the utmost esteem for this Gentleman, for his many good qualities, and frequently visited him. For the honour of my country, I cannot help observing here, that no people on earth can be more attentive or respectful to the European Ladies residing among them, than the natives of all descriptions in India.

In gratitude to the revered memory of the best of characters, I am obliged to acknowledge that I never found myself so happy as with Mr. Baker: insensible of the authority of a superior, I experience the indulgence of a friend; and the want of a tender parent was entirely forgotten in the humanity and affection of a benevolent stranger.

I remember to have seen numbers perish by famine this year: the excessive heat of the climate, and want of rain, dried up the land; and all the fruits of the earth decayed without moisture.

Numbers of people have dropped down in the streets and highways: none fared so well as those whose plantations were watered by wells. The proprietors, some of whom were Nabobs, and other European Officers, distributed as much rice and other food as they could possibly spare, among the crowds that thronged into their court-yards and houses: but the poor creatures, quite spent and unable to bear it, fell down and expired in their presence: some endeavoured to crawl out and perished in the open air. Little did the treasures of their country avail them on this occasion: a small portion of rice, timely administered to their wants, would have been of more real importance than their mines of gold and diamonds.

Letter IV

Dear Sir,

When six or seven months had elapsed from the time I was first received by Mr. Baker, my mother unhappy at the idea of parting with me, and resigning her child to the care of a European, came to him, requesting, in the language of supplication, that I might be given up to her: moved by her entreaties, he had me brought before her, at the same time observing, that it was so remote from his intentions to keep me from her, he was perfectly reconciled to part with me, were it my inclination. I was extremely affected at her presence; yet my deep sense of gratitude to a sincere friend conquered my duty to an affectionate parent, and made me determine in favour of the former: I would not go, I told her—I would stay in the camp; her disappointment smote my soul—she stood silent—yet I could perceive some tears succeed each other, stealing down her cheeks—my heart was wrung—at length, seeing my resolution fixed as fate, she dragged herself away, and returned home in a state of mind beyond my power to describe. Mr. Baker was much affected, and with his brother Officers, endeavoured to find amusement for me. I was taken out, every morning, to see the different military evolutions of the men in the field, and on such occasions, I was clad myself in suitable regimentals. Capt. Gravely in particular, was very fond of me, and never passed by without calling to know how I was. This kind attention gradually dispelled the gloom which, in some pensive moments, hung over my mind since the last tender interview. My poor mother under all the affliction of parental anxiety, and trembling hope for my return, sent my brother as an advocate for her to Mr. Baker, to whom he offered four hundred rupees, conceiving it would be a means of inducing him to send me back: but Mr. Baker had a soul superior to such sordid purposes, and far from accepting them, he gave me such a sum to bestow my mother. Having given his people the necessary directions to conduct me to her, he provided for me his own palankeen, on which I was borne by his domestics.

When I arrived at my mother's, I offered her the four hundred rupees given me by my disinterested friend to present to her; but could not, with all my persuasion, prevail on her to receive them, until I told her she should never see me again, if she refused this generous donation. Thus, by working on her fears, I, at length, gained my point, and assured her that I would embrace every opportunity of coming to see her: after taking my leave of her, I returned on the palankeen to the camp.

We lay in Bankeepore about six months, when we received orders from Col. Leslie to march to Denapore [Denapur], where we arrived in the year of 1770, and found the remaining companies of the Europeans and Seapoys, that were quartered there for some time before. Our camp here, consisted of eight regiments; two of Europeans, and six of Seapoys. Denapore is eight miles from Bankeepore, and has nothing to recommend it but a small mud fort, on which some cannon are planted, fronting the water. Inside the fort is a very fine barrack, perhaps the first in India; and when it was ready to receive the number of men destined to serve in that quarter, we marched into it. `Tis a fine square building, made entirely of brick, on the margin of the Ganges, and covers both sides of the road; on the east side, opposite the river, were the Captain's apartments, consisting of two bed chambers and a dining room, with convenient out-offices, stables, and kitchen, at the back of the barrack: a little distance farther out on the line, was the General's residence, an elegant and stately building, commanding a full view of the country many miles round. It was finished in the greatest style, and furnished in a superb manner: the ascent to it was by several flights of marble steps, and the servants about it were very numerous. In the north angle, on the same line, was the hospital, at a convenient distance from the barrack. In the other angles were planted some cannon, which were regularly discharged every morning and evening, as the flag was hoist up or pulled down. At one end of the fourth side, was the Artillery barrack; at the other, their stores: on the west, lay the companies of the brigade; on the north, the Doctors and inferior Officers had their apartments. About a mile thence, were the chaumnies of the Seapoys.

No situation in the world could be more delightful than that of the General's mansion; at the front and back of which, were gravel walks, where the soldiers and servants, at leisure hours, were accustomed to take recreation. A mud battery is drawn round the whole; and from north to south is a public road for travellers, which is intersected by another from east to west. Country seats and villas were dispersed through the neighbouring country, which was highly cultivated with fertile plantations and beautiful gardens. At one end of the avenue leading to the barrack, stood the markets or bazars of the Europeans; at the other, near their chaumnies, were those of the natives. Colonels Morgan, Goddard, and Tottingham, commanded here this year; and the army was mostly employed in going through the different manoeuvres in the field, as there happened no disturbances of any consequence in the country, that interfered with this duty. I called now and then to see my mother, who, at last, became more reconciled to my absence; and received some visits from my brother while I was in camp.

Letter V

Dear Sir,

I felt great satisfaction in having procured the esteem of my friend, and the other Officers, and acquired the military exercise, to which I was very attentive. We lay about eight months in Denapore, when Col. Morgan having received intelligence of the depredations committed by some of the Morattoes [Marathas], gave orders to the army to make the necessary preparations for marching to Chrimnasa [Karamnasa], at a moment's warning. The baggage was immediately drawn out, and the cattle tackled with the utmost expedition. The Quarter Masters provided every necessary accommodation for the march: some of the stores they sent before them by water; the rest was drawn in hackeries and wagons, by bullocks. Mr. Baker, who was also Quarter Master, and his brother Officers in the same line, had each a company of Seapoys, as a piquet guard along the road, and about seven hundred attendants, who were occasionally employed, as the army moved their camp, in pitching and striking the tents, composed of the lowest order of the people residing in the country, and forming many distinct tribes, according to their various occupations. We had a certain number of these men appointed to attend the garrison, which was usually augmented on a march, and distinguished under the various appellations of Lascars, Cooleys, Besties, and Charwalleys. They set out with us, a day before the main body of the army, accompanied by several classes of tradesmen, such as shoe-makers, carpenters, smiths, sail-makers, and others capable of supplying the camp; and were ranged into four departments, in order to perform the laborious business of the expedition without confusion. To each department was assigned its respective duty: the employment of the Lascars, who wore mostly a blue jacket, turban, sash, and trousers, was to pitch and strike the tents and marquees; load and unload the elephants, camels, bullocks, waggons &c. The Cooleys were divided into two distinct bodies for different purposes; to carry burthens, and to open and clear the roads through the country, for the free passage of the army and baggage: The Besties were appointed to supply the men and cattle with water: and the Charwalleys, who are the meanest class of all, were employed to clean the apartments, and do other servile offices. Thus equipped, we marched in regular order from Denapore, early in the morning, in the month of February and the year of 1771. We enjoyed a pleasant cool breeze the entire day; while the trees, ever blooming and overshadowing the road, afforded a friendly shelter and an agreeable view along the country. The road was broad and smooth, and in places contiguous to it, we found several refreshing wells to allay the thirst of the weary traveller. In a few hours we reached Fulwherea [Phulwari], a spacious plain adapted for our purpose, where the Quarter Masters ordered out the Lascars to pitch the tents and marquees on the lines formed by them. Our camp, which made a grand military appearance, extended two miles in length: it was ranged into nine separate divisions, composed of two battalions of Europeans, six regiments of Seapoys, and one company of European Artillery. On the front line, the standards of the different regiments were flying: it consisted of a number of small tents called beltons [bell-tents], where they kept their fire arms: the central ones belonged to the Europeans; near them, were those of the Artillery; and on each wing, the Seapoys. The several corps were encamped behind their respective beltons, close to which, were first the tents of the privates; about twenty feet from their situation, were the larger and more commodious ones of the Ensigns and Lieutenants; next to them the Captains' marquees; a little farther back, the Major's; at some distance behind the two battalions, and in a middle direction between them, was the Colonel's, which lay diametrically opposite the main guard, situate outside the front line in the centre: a small space from the Colonels' marquees was the stop line, where the Quarter Masters, Adjutants, Doctors and Surgeons, were lodged: and between the stop line and bazars, was the line for the cattle. Every company of European privates occupied six tents and one belton: an Ensign, Lieutenant, and Captain, each a tent: such Officers as had jenanas or wives, erected tomboos, a kind of Indian marquees, for them, at their own expence. A Major had two marquees, one store, one guard tent, and one belton; a Colonel, three marquees, two store, two guard tents, and one belton; the Quarter Masters, Adjutants, Doctors and Surgeons, had each one marquee. On account of their peculiar duty in furnishing the camp, the Quarter Masters had, besides their own, other tents for their Serjeants, Artificers, and stores. The Seapoys lay behind their beltons, in the same position as the Europeans, and their Officers, according to rank, were accommodated much in the same manner. The hospital was in a pleasant grove not remote from the camp, about half a mile from which were the magazine and other stores for ammunition and military accoutrements; and on an eminence, at some distance, over the wide plain, where we encamped, arose in military grandeur, the superb marquees of the general Officers. In the rere of the entire scene, were the bazars or markets, belonging to the different regiments, on a direct line with each, and distinguished from one another, by various flags and streamers that wantoned in the breeze. Our camp, notwithstanding its extent, number of men, equipage, and arrangements, was completely formed in the course of the evening we arrived at Fulwherea, which is about twelve miles from Denapore.

Letter VI

Dear Sir,

We had scarcely been one night at Fulwherea, when some straggling villagers of the neighbouring country, stole unperceived into our camp, and plundered our tents and marquees, which they stripped of every thing valuable belonging to Officers and privates. It happened, at the same time, that they entered a store tent, next to Mr. Baker's marquee, where I lay on a palankeen, a kind of travelling canopy-bed, resembling a camp bed, the upper part was arched over with curved bamboo, and embellished with rich furniture, the top was hung with beautiful tassels and adorned with gay trappings; and the sides, head, and foot were decorated with valuable silver ornaments. In short, it was elegantly finished, and worth, at least six hundred rupees; for which reason, such vehicles are seldom kept but by people of condition. Every palankeen is attended by eight servants, four of whom, alternately, carry it, much in the same manner as our sedan chairs are carried in this country [Ireland]. But to return—the villagers having entered the store-tent above mentioned, bore me suddenly away to a field about half a mile from the camp, on the conveyance I have just described to you, which they soon disrobed of its decorations, and rifled me of what money I had in my pocket, and every garment on my body, except a thin pair of trousers. So cruel were the merciless savages, that some were forming the barbarous resolutions of taking away my life, lest my escape would lead to a discovery of them; while others less inhuman, opposed the measure, by observing I was too young to injure them, and prevailed on their companions to let me go. I reached the camp with winged feet, and went directly to Mr. Baker, who was much alarmed when he heard of my dangerous situation, but more astonished at my arrival; and when I related by what means my life was spared, and liberty obtained, he admired such humanity in a savage breast.

A few of those ravagers, who loitered behind the rest, were first detected by the guard, pursued, and taken: the track of others was, by this clew, discovered; many of whom were apprehended, and received the punishment due to their crimes, for such wanton depredations. They were flogged through the camp, and their ears and noses cut off, as a shameful example to their lawless confederates. Their rapacity occasioned us to delay longer at Fulwherea, than we intended. We had scarcely suppressed those licentious barbarians, when our quiet was again disturbed by the nocturnal invasion of the jackals that infest this country, ferocious animals not unlike the European fox; they flocked into our camp in the silent midnight hour, carried off a great part of the poultry, and such young children as they could come at. It was in vain to pursue them; we were obliged to endure our losses with patience.

Having dispatched the proper people to supply the markets, we left Fulwherea early on the eighth morning after our arrival, and proceeded in our march towards Chrimnasa, which lay about ninety miles farther off. We reached Turwherea, on the first day's march, where we had a river to cross, which retarded us three days, on account of our numbers. As the weather was very warm, we advanced slowly, and found it exceedingly pleasant to travel along the roads shaded with the spreading branches of fruit-bearing trees, bending under their luscious burthens of bannas, mangoes, and tamarinds. Beneath the trees, were many cool springs and wells of the finest water in the universe, with which the whole country of Indostan abounds: a striking instance of the wisdom of Providence, that tempers “the bleak wind to the shorn lamb,” and the scorching heat of the torrid zone to the way-worn traveller.

The former natives of this part of the world, whose purity of manners is still perpetuated by several tribes of their posterity, having foreseen the absolute necessity of such refreshment, and that in the region they inhabited, none could be more seasonable than founts of water for the use of succeeding generations, contrived those inexhaustible sources of relief in situations most frequented; and to prevent any thoughtless vagrant from polluting them, took care to inspire the people with a sacred piety in favour of their wells, and a religious dread of disturbing them. For this reason, they remain pure and undefiled, through every age, and are held in the most profound veneration. Wherever we found them, on the march, our Besties stopped to afford the men some time to recruit themselves, and take in a fresh supply of water, which was carried by bullocks, in leathern hanpacallies or bags made of dried hides, some of which were borne by the Besties on their shoulders.

Letter VII

Dear Sir,

In about fifteen days after we left Fulwherea, we arrived at Chrimnasa, and encamped on the banks of the Ganges: the Morattoes fled on our arrival. Chrimnasa is an open plain, near which is a small river that flows into the Ganges. We remained here in a state of tranquility, occasionally enjoying all the rural pleasures of the delightful country around us. After a stay of a few months, we received orders from Colonels Morgan and Goddard, to march hence to Monghere [Monghyr]; and Messieurs Baker, Scott, Besnard and the Artillery Quarter Master, set out before the army, between one and two o'clock in the morning, with the baggage and military stores, in the middle of the year 1771. We continued on the march near a month, and when we came within thirty miles of Monghere, a small antique house, built on a rock in the middle of an island, in the Ganges, attracted our notice: we halted towards the close of the evening, at some distance from it: the next day, Mr. Baker, Mr. Besnard, and the other Gentlemen, made a hunting match: I accompanied them: and about noon, after the diversion was over, we turned our horses towards the water side, and taking a nearer view of this solitary little mansion, resolved on crossing the river.

We gave our horses in charge to the sahies or servants, who have always the care of them, and passed over to the island in one of the fishing boats that ply here. When we advanced towards the hermitage, which, as an object of curiosity, is much frequented by travellers, the Faquir or Hermit, who held his residence here for many years, came out to meet us: he wore a long robe of saffron colour muslin down to his ancles, with long loose sleeves, and on his head a small mitre of white muslin, his appearance was venerable from a beard that descended to his breast; and though the hand of time conferred some snowy honours on his head, that negligently flowed down his shoulders a considerable length, yet in his countenance you might read, that health and chearfulness were his companions: he approached us with a look of inconceivable complacency tempered with an apparent serenity of mind, and assured us that whatever his little habitation could afford, he was ready to supply us with. While he was thus speaking, he seemed to turn his thoughts a little higher; for with eyes now and then raised towards Heaven, he continued to count a long bead that was suspended from his wrist; and he had another girt about his waist. We went with him into his dwelling, which was one of the neatest I have ever seen; it was quite square, and measured from one angle to the other, not more than five yards: it rose to a great height, like a steeple, and the top was flat, encompassed with battlements, to which he sometimes ascended by a long ladder. At certain hours in the day, he stretched in a listless manner on the skin of some wild animal, not unlike a lion's, enjoying the pleasure of reading some favourite author. In one corner of the house, he kept a continual fire, made on a small space between three bricks, on which he dressed his food that consisted mostly of rice, and the fruits of his garden; but whatever was intended for his guests, was laid on a larger fire outside the door. When we spent a little time in observing every thing curious inside his residence, he presented us some mangoes and other agreeable fruit, which we accepted; and parted our kind host, having made him some small acknowledgment for his friendly reception, and passed encomiums on the neatness of his abode and the rural beauty of his garden.

We passed over to the continent in a boat, belonging to the Faquir, that conveyed provisions from the island to the people passing up and down the river, who left him in return such commodities as he most wanted; and joined the army, which arrived early the following day at Monghere.

The European brigade marched into a fine spacious barrack: and the Seapoys into the chaumnies inside the fort, which is near two miles in circumference, and built on the Ganges in a square form, with the sides and front rising out of the water, and overlooking all the country seats along the coast.

The Officers' apartments in the front, were laid out with the greatest elegance; the soldiers', quite compact; and nothing could be handsomer than the exterior appearance of the building, which was of glittering hewn stone. The old palace of Cossim Alli Cawn [Mir Kasim Ali Khan], inside the ramparts, still uninjured by the waste of time, was put in order for the residence of Colonel Grant. The entrance into the fort was by four wide gates, constructed in a masterly manner; one at each side, opening into the barrack yard. It was originally built by some of the Nabobs; but since it came into the possession of the Company, it has served as a proper place for our cantonments. There are no other structures of any figure here. About a mile hence is a long row of low, obscure huts (such as the common natives inhabit in several parts of India) occupied by a class of people who prepare raw silk; and, at a little distance from them, reside the manufacturers. The people, in general, here, are remarkably ingenious, at making all kinds of kitchen furniture, which they carry to such an extent, as to be enabled to supply the markets in the most opulent cities around them; and are in such esteem, that they even send for them from Calcutta, and other parts of Bengal. There is a description of inhabitants in this country, who supply the markets, and have continued in this employment through many succeeding generations, always dwelling in one place; and others who follow the army under the denomination of bazars.

Letter VIII

Dear Sir,

There are some very fine seats and villas round Monghere, built by European Gentlemen in the Company's service, who retire to the country in the warm months of the year: among others, is the house of Mr. Grove, an elegant building finished in the English style, and standing in the centre of every rural improvement; a mile hence is the residence of Mr. Bateman, a very handsome structure, where we spent a few pleasant days in the most polite circles: amid such scenes, the riches and luxury of the East, are displayed with fascinating charms. Our host was that elevated kind of character, in which public and private virtues were happily blended; he united the Statesman with the private Gentleman; the deep Politician with the social Companion; and though of the mildest manners, he was brave in an eminent degree having led the way to victory in many campaigns. Twelve miles from Monghere, is a famous monument erected on a hill called Peepaharea [Pirpahar], which the love of antiquity induced us to visit: it is a square building, with an arch of hewn stone rising over a marble slab, supported by small round pillars of the same, without any inscription: and what is very remarkable, a large tiger, seemingly divested of the ferocity of his nature, comes from his den at the foot of the hill, every Monday and Wednesday, to this very monument, without molesting any person he meets on the way, (even children are not afraid to approach him) and sweeps with his tail, the dust from the lower part of the tomb, in which, it is supposed, are enshrined the remains of some pious character, who had been there interred at a remote period of time. The people have a profound veneration for it, which has not been a little increased by the sudden and untimely fate of a Lieutenant of Artillery, who came hither to indulge an idle curiosity, and ridicule those who paid such respect to the memory of their supposed holy man, who had been deposited here. He imputed their zeal to the force of prejudice and superstition, and turned it into such contempt, that he made water on the very tomb that was by them held sacred: but shortly after, as if he had been arrested by some invisible hand, for his presumption, having rode but a few paces from the tomb, he was thrown from his horse to the ground, where he lay some time speechless; and being conveyed to Monghere on a litter, soon after his arrival expired. Here is an awful lesson to those who, through a narrowness of judgment and confined speculation, are too apt to profane the piety of their fellow-creatures, merely for a difference in their modes of worship. At a little distance from Peepaharea was the bangaloe of Gen. Barker, constructed by him on the most elegant plan. Here he retired to spend some part of the summer, and entertain his friends: it was resorted by the distinguished Officers of his corps, and particularly by Colonels Grant, Morgan, Goddard, Tottingham, and Majors Morrison and Pearce, of the Artillery. At other times, he resided in a stately edifice in the fort, newly built, with exquisite taste and grandeur. Having received orders from Colonel Grant, to proceed to Calcutta, we made the necessary preparations for marching, and set out from Monghere in the beginning of the year 1772. The first day, we reached Sitakund, (where we halted three days) to collect our market people, &c. It is a small village, about twelve miles from Monghere, and in its environs are seven baths or wells, two of which are committed to the care of Bramins, who attend them, and will not suffer any person out of their order, to touch the waters, but such as come with a stedfast faith in their virtues (which they generally possess) to be relieved from various disorders by their application. The other five are common to all who travel this way. The two first are near each other, though very different in their qualities: the water of the one which is of a whitish colour, having an agreeable cool taste, while that of the adjacent well being of a darker hue, is continually boiling up. The people of the country make the most frequent use of them, and the Bramins, who dispatch their orders to all quarters round them in earthen jars filled at their hallowed founts, considerably benefit by their pious credulity. They even send it to the north of the Ganges; and it is held in holy veneration by the Hindoos in Calcutta, and the other districts of Bengal.

As we were advancing on our march, we met a number of Hindoo pilgrims proceeding on their journey to Sitakund, and reached Bohogolpore [Bhagalpur], in about fifteen days after we left Monghere. We encamped outside the town, which is, by no means, inconsiderable for its manufactures. It has a mud fort thrown round it, and contains a regiment of militia, to protect its trade, consisting of a famous manufactory of fine napkins, table cloths, turbans and soucy, a kind of texture composed of silk and cotton, some of which is beautifully variegated with stripes, and some of a nankin colour, used mostly by the Ladies of the country for summer wear. Governor Pelham, who commanded here, entertained our Officers in a very splendid manner. We halted four or five days to refresh our army, and during the time, the Cooleys were employed to clear and level the rugged narrow road, from Bohogolpore through Skilligurree [Siclygully]. Before we set out, we perceived that Captain Brook [Brooke], a very active Officer, at the head of five companies of Seapoys, stationed in the different parts of the neighbouring country, had been, some time, engaged in the pursuit of the Pahareas, a savage clan that inhabit the mountains between Bohogolpore and Rajamoul [Rajmahal], and annoy the peaceable resident and unwary traveller: numbers, happily! were taken, through the indefatigable zeal of the above Gentlemen, and justly received exemplary punishment; some being severely whipped in a public manner; and others, who were found to be more daring and flagitious, suspended on a kind of gibbets, ignominiously exposed along the mountain's conspicuous brow, in order to strike terror into the hearts of their accomplices.

Letter IX

Dear Sir,

Hence as we proceeded on our march, we beheld the lifeless bodies of these nefarious wretches elevated along the way for a considerable distance, about half a mile from each other; and having passed through the lofty arches or gateways of Sikilligurree and Tellicgurree [Tiliagarhi] planted with cannon, and erected by former Nabobs, as a kind of battery against the hostile invasions of those Mountaineers, we reached Rajamoul, where we remained a few days.

Our army being very numerous, the market people in the rere were attacked by another party of the Pahareas, who plundered them, and wounded many with their bows and arrows: the picquet guard closely pursued them, killed several, and apprehended thirty or forty, who were brought to the camp. Next morning, as our hotteewallies, grass cutters, and bazar people, went to the mountains about their usual business of procuring provender for the elephants, grass for the horses, and fuel for the camp; a gang of those licentious savages, rushed with violence on them, inhumanly butchered seven or eight of our people, and carried off three elephants, and as many camels, with several horses and bullocks. Such of our hotteewallies, &c. as were fortunate enough to escape with their lives from those unfeeling barbarians, made the best of their way to the camp, and related the story of their sufferings to the Commanding Officer, who kindled into resentment at the recital, instantly resolved to send the three Quarter Masters with two companies of Seapoys, in the pursuit of the lawless aggressors, some of whom, they luckily found ploughing in a field, to which they were directed by two of the men whom Providence rescued from their cruelty; and observed numbers flocking from the hills to their assistance: our men, arranged in military order, fired on them; some of the savages fell on the plain, others were wounded; and the greater part of them, after a feeble resistance with their bows, arrows, and swords, giving way to our superior courage and discipline, fled to the mountains for shelter, and raised a thick cloudy smoke, issuing from smothered fires, in order to intercept our view, and incommode us. Our gallant soldiers, swift as the lightning's flash, pursued, overtook, and made two hundred of them prisoners, who were escorted to Head Quarters, and by order of Colonel Grant, severely punished for their crimes; some having their ears and noses cut off, and others hung in gibbets. Their bows and arrows, and ponderous broad swords that weighed at least, fifteen pounds each, of which they were deprived, were borne in triumph as trophies of the little victory. Two of our hotteewallies, supposed to be massacred by them before this expedition, were found in a miserable state from their unmerciful treatment: they were endeavouring to crawl to the camp, disabled, and almost bleeding afresh from their recent wounds. The elephants, camels, &c. which those useful people took with them, for the purpose of bringing certain supplies to the army, were left behind in the hurry of the sanguinary and rapacious enemy's flight, cruelly mangled and weltering in their blood: our very horses and bullocks had iron spikes driven up in their hoofs, from which they must have suffered extreme torture. They were all, with some difficulty, brought back to the camp, and though taken every possible care of, a few only of the animals were restored, and the rest died in the anguish of exquisite pain.

We continued our march towards Calcutta; and on our way thither, encamped at Gouagochi [Godagarhi], which takes its name from a large black fort built on the banks of the Ganges, three miles from the place of our encampment, where we remained about two months. Our situation was extremely pleasant; the tents being almost covered with the spreading branches of mangoe and tamarind trees, which under the rigours of a torrid sun, afforded a cool shade, and brightened the face of the surrounding country; whilst the Ganges, to heighten the beauty of the varied landscape, rolled its majestic flood behind us. Hence we went to Dumdumma [Dumdum], where we had a general review. Governor Cottier [Cartier] came from Bengal in order to see it, with his Aid-du-Camps, and a numerous train of attendants: his entry into Dumdumma was very magnificent: he was accompanied by our Colonel and some of the principal Officers, who met him on the way: all the army were drawn up, and received him with a general salute. The entire night was spent in preparations for our appearance next day: every individual was employed; and at four o'clock, on the coming morn, we were all on the plain in military array, with twenty field pieces, attended by two companies of Artillery: not a man, through the whole of the business, in which we took up several acres of ground, but displayed uncommon abilities; and was rewarded for his exertions, by the unanimous consent of the Officers, with an extra allowance of pay and refreshment. The natives, who flocked from all quarters, for many miles around, were delighted and astonished at the sight——

Of martial men in glitt'ring arms display'd,
And all the shining pomp of war array'd;
Determin'd soldiers, and a gallant host,
As e'er Britannia in her pride cou'd boast.

The General received the Governor's compliments on the occasion, who declared that such brave fellows never before adorned the plains of Asia. The review was over at twelve o'clock, when all the Gentlemen were invited to breakfast with the General. The men, overjoyed with the approbation of their Officers, retired to their tents to talk over their military atchievements, and form, by the creative power of fancy, a second grand review round their copious bowls of Arrack, a generous, exhilarating liquor, distilled from the fruit of the tree that bears the same name. The Governor remained a few days here, and was entertained in a style of elegant hospitality, by the military Gentlemen and the most distinguished Personages of the country. The scene of their convivial festivity, was the former habitation of a grand Nabob of this place, constructed on an ancient plan, and containing a number of spacious apartments; but from the change it received from the hand of recent improvement, it had more the appearance of a modern European mansion, than an uncouth pile of building, that reared its gothic head in remoter time.

Letter X

Dear Sir,

Shortly after the review was over, we marched from Dumdumma to Calcutta, where we arrived in the year 1772. The first brigade that lay in Fort William, and thence proceeded to Denapore, was relieved by a part of our army (which formed the third brigade) consisting of one battalion of Europeans that marched into the fort, and three regiments of Seapoys that occupied the chaumnies at Cheitpore; the other battalion of Europeans, to which Mr. Baker belonged, and three regiments of Seapoys, were ordered to Barahampore [Baharampur], after some short stay here.

Calcutta is a very flourishing city, and the presidency of the English Company in Bengal. It is situate on the most westerly branch of the less Ganges in 87 deg. east lon. and 22, 45 north lat.; 130 miles north east of Balisore, and 40 south of Huegley [Hoogly]. It contains a number of regular and spacious streets, public buildings, gardens, walks, and fish ponds, and from the best accounts, its population has advanced to upwards of six hundred thousand souls. The principal streets are the Chouk, where an endless variety of all sorts of goods are sold; the China Bazar, where every kind of china is exposed to sale; the Lalbazar, Thurumthulla [Dharamtala], Chouringee [Chowringhee], Bightaconna [Baitakkhana], Mochoabazar [Machuabazar], and Chaunpolgot [Chandpal Ghat], where the European Gentlemen, of every description, mostly reside. The greatest concourse of English, French, Dutch, Armenians, Abyssinians, and Jews, assemble here; besides merchants, manufacturers, and tradesmen, from the most remote parts of India.

Near Chaunpolgot is the old fort, which contains the Company's stores garrisoned by the invalids and militia, and inhabited by Collectors, Commissaries, Clerks, and in my time by a Mr. Paxon, the Director or Superintendant of the people employed in the mint, to coin goulmores, rupees, and paissays. Fort William is a mile from the town, and the most extensive in India. The plan of it was an irregular tetragon, built with brick and mortar made of brick dust, lime, molasses, and hemp, a composition that forms a cement as hard and durable as stone. The different batteries surrounding it, are planted with about six hundred cannon: and its inner entrance is by six gates, four of which are generally left open: outside these are fourteen gate-ways leading through different avenues, to the inner gates severally situate in opposite directions to the river, the Hospital, Kidderpore, and Calcutta. Near each gate is a well, from which water is easily raised for the use of the army by engines happily contrived for that purpose. The Commander in Chief resides in an elegant edifice within the fort, where there is also a bazar constantly held to supply the army with every necessary: and the Officers of rank next to him, dwell on the very arches of the gates, in beautifully constructed buildings, that, in such elevated situations, have a very fine effect on the delighted beholder. Inside the fort there are eight barracks, for the other Officers and privates; stores for the ammunition and accoutrements; magazines, armories, and a cannon and ball foundry, almost continually at work, for the general use of the Company's troops throughout India. In short, Fort William is an astonishing piece of human workmanship, and large enough to contain, at least, ten thousand inhabitants.

The other principal public buildings, are the Court-Houses, Prisons, and Churches. There are three Court-Houses; one fronting Loldigee, one near the Governor's mansion, and the other in Chaunpolgot: two prisons; one in Lalbazar, and another in Chouringee: and several Churches, besides the English, Armenian, and Portuguese, which are the most noted places of worship, in point of magnitude, exterior figure, and decoration. On the opposite side of the river are docks for repairing and careening ships; and outside the town is an hospital, encompassed by a sheltering grove; some pleasant villas, the summer retreats of the European Gentlemen, delightful improvements, aromatic flower gardens, winding walks planted with embowering trees on each side, and fish ponds reflecting, like an extended mirror, their blooming verdure on each margin, and Heaven's clear azure in the vaulted canopy above. There is also a very fine canal formed at the expense of Mr. Tolly, which is navigable for boats passing up and down: it was cut through the country, and extended from Kidderpore to Culman [Kalna], a distance of five or six miles, connecting the Ganges with the river Sunderbun [Sunderbans]. Mr. Tolly benefited considerably by this mode of conveyance; as it was deemed more convenient than that of land carriage, and became the principal channel of conveying goods to different parts of Bengal.

Letter XI

Dear Sir,

Our stay in Calcutta was so short, that I have been only able to give you some account of the town, forts, and environs; and am concerned that I could not contribute more to your entertainment, by a description of the manners of the people, as we received too sudden orders to march to Barahampore, where we arrived in the year 1773, having met with no extraordinary occurrence on the way. The cantonments here are situate on the banks of the river Bohogritee [Bhagirathi], and consist of twenty-two barracks, besides a magazine, stores, and offices. There are two barracks on the south near the river, in which the Colonels and Majors reside: six on the east, and six on the west, occupied by the other Officers: in the northern direction, the privates of the Artillery and Infantry Corps dwell: the Commander in Chief has a superb building, about a mile from the barrack of the privates; and the intermediate space between the different barracks, which form a square, is a spacious plain where the men exercise. Barahampore is very populous, and connects with Muxadabad [Murshidabad] by an irregular chain of building, comprehending Calcapore [Kalkapur] and Casambuzar [Cossimbazar], two famous manufactories of silk and cotton, where merchants can be supplied on better terms than in any other part of India. The city of Muxadabad, to which I had been led by curiosity, is the mart of an extensive trade among the natives, such as the Moguls, Parsees, Mussulmen, and Hindoos; the houses are neat, but not uniform; as every dwelling is constructed according to the peculiar fancy of the proprietor: those of the merchants are, in general, on a good plan, and built of fine brick made in the country; and such as have been erected by the servants of the Company, near the town, are very handsome structures. The city, including the suburbs, is about nine miles in length, reaching as far as Barahampore; and the neighbouring country is interspersed with elegant seats belonging to the Governors, and other Officers; among which, was the Nabob Mamarah Dowlah's [Mubarak al-Daula's] palace, finished in a superior style to the rest, and surrounded with arched pillars of marble, decorated with variegated purdoes—over the arches, native bands of music played on their different instruments, every morning and evening—on one side of the palace flowed the river Bohogritee in winding mazes: on the other, stood the Chouk, where people assembled to sell horses, wild and tame fowl, singing birds, and almost every product and manufacture of India.

Soon after my arrival here, I was dazzled with the glittering appearance of the Nabob, and all his train, amounting to about three thousand attendants, proceeding in solemn state from his palace to the temple. They formed in the splendor and richness of their attire one of the most brilliant processions I ever beheld. The Nabob was carried on a beautiful pavillion, or meanah, by sixteen men, alternately, called by the natives, Baharas, who wore a red uniform: the refulgent canopy covered with tissue, and lined with embroidered scarlet velvet, trimmed with silver fringe, was supported by four pillars of massy silver, and resembled the form of a beautiful elbow chair, constructed in oval elegance; in which he sat cross-legged, leaning his back against a fine cushion, and his elbows on two more covered with scarlet velvet, wrought with flowers of gold. At each side of his magnificent conveyance, two men attended with large whisks in their hands, made of some curious animal's tail, to beat off the flies. The very handles of those whisks were of silver. As to the ornaments of his person—he wore a very small turban of white muslin, containing forty-four yards, which quantity, from its exceeding fineness, would not weigh more than a pound and half; a band of the same encompassed his turban, from which hung silver tassels over his right eye: on the front was a star in diamond of the first water: a thin robe of fine muslin covered his body, over which he wore another of cream-coloured satin, and trousers of the same, trimmed with silver edging, and small silver buttons: a valuable shawl of camel's hair, was thrown negligently about his shoulders; and another wrapped round his waist: inside the latter, he placed his dagger, that was in itself a piece of curious workmanship, the hilt being of pure gold, studded with diamonds, and embellished with small chains of gold.

His shoes were of bright crimson velvet, embroidered with silver, and set round the soals and binding with pearls. Two Aid-du-Camps, one at each side, attended him on horseback; from whom he was little more distinguished in splendor of habiliment, than by the diamond star in his turban. Their saddles were ornamented with tassels, fringe, and various kinds of embroidery. Before and behind him, moved in the pomp of ceremony, a great number of pages, and near his person slowly advanced his life guard, mounted on horses: all were clad in a stile of unrivalled elegance: the very earth with expanding bosom, poured out her treasures to deck them; and the artisan essayed his utmost skill to furnish their trappings.

His pipe was of a serpentine form, nine cubits in length, and termed hooka: it reached from his lips, though elevated his situation above the gay throng, to the hands of a person who only walked as an attendant in the train, for the purpose of filling the silver bowl with a nice compound of musk, sugar, rose-water, and a little tobacco finely chopped, and worked up together into a kind of dough, which was dissolved into an odoriferous liquid by the heat of a little fire made of burnt rice, and kept in a silver vessel with a cover of the same, called Chilm, from which was conveyed a fragrant cool smoke, through a small tube connecting with another that ascended to his mouth.

The part which the attendant held in his hand, contained at least a quart of water: it was made of glass, ornamented with a number of little golden chains admirably contrived: the snake which comprehends both tubes was tipped with gold at each end, and the intermediate space was made of wire inside a close quilting of satin, silk, and muslin, wrought in a very ingenious manner: the mouth piece was also of gold, and the part next to his lips set with diamonds.

A band of native music played before him, accompanied with a big drum, conveyed on a camel, the sound of which, could be heard at a great distance: and a halcorah or herald advanced onward in the front of the whole company, to proclaim his arrival, and clear the way before him. Crowds of people from every neighbouring quarter, thronged to see him. I waited for some time, to see him enter into the temple with all his retinue, who left their shoes at the door as a mark of veneration for the sacred fane into which they were entering. The view of this grand procession, gave me infinite pleasure, and induced me to continue a little longer in Muxadabad.

Letter XII

Dear Sir,

Shortly after the procession, I met with a relation of mine, a Mahometan, who requested my attendance at the circumcision of one of his children. Previous to this ceremony, which I shall describe in the order of succession, it may be necessary to premise, that a child is baptized three times according to the rites of this religion. The first baptism is performed at time of the birth, by a Bramin who, though of different religious principles, is held in the utmost veneration by the Mahometans, for his supposed knowledge in astrology, by which he is said to foretel the future destiny of the child; when he discharges the duties of his sacred function on such an occasion, which consists in nothing more than this prophecy, and calling the child by the most favourable name, the mysteries of his science will permit, he receives some presents from the parents and kindred, and retires.

The second baptism, which takes place when the child is four days old, is performed by the Codgi, or Mulna, the Mahometan Clergyman, in the presence of a number of women, who visit the mother after her delivery; he first reads some prayers in the alcoran, sprinkles the child with consecrated water, and anoints the navel and ears with a kind of oil extracted from mustard seed, which concludes the ceremony. The Priest then quits the womens' apartment, and joins the men in another room. When he has withdrawn, the Hajams' wives enter the chamber, and attend the mother of the child with every apparatus necessary in her situation: one assists to pare her nails, and supplies her with a bason of water to wash her hands in; and others are employed in dressing her in a becoming manner. Several Ladies of distinction come to visit her, presenting her their congratulatory compliments on her happy recovery, and filling her lap, at the same time, with a quantity of fresh fruit, as the emblem of plenty. When this ceremony is over they sit down to an entertainment served up by the Hajams' wives, and prepared by women in more menial offices. Their usual fare is a variety of cates and sweetmeats. The men, who also congratulate the father, wishing every happiness to his offspring, are regaled much in the same manner. Thus is the second baptism celebrated; from which the third, which is solemnized on the twentieth day after the birth, differs only in point of time.

The Mahometans do not perform the circumcision, or fourth baptism until the child is seven years old, and carefully initiated in such principles of their religion as can be well conceived at such a tender age. For some time before it, the poorer kind of people use much oeconomy in their manner of living, to enable them to defray the expenses of a splendid entertainment, as they are very ambitious of displaying the greatest elegance and hospitality on such occasions. When the period of entering on this sacred business is arrived, they dispatch Hajams or Barbers, who from the nature of their occupation are well acquainted with the city, to all the inhabitants of the Mahometan profession, residing within the walls of Muxadabad, to whom they present nutmegs, which imply the same formality as compliment cards in this country. The guests thus invited assembled in a great square, large enough to contain two thousand persons, under a semiana of muslin supported by handsome poles erected at a certain distance from each other; the sides of it were also made of muslin, and none would be suffered to enter but Mahometans. The arrival of the Mulna was announced by the Music, who had a kind of orchestre within the semiana: attended by one of the Hajams, he approached the child who was decked with jewels and arrayed in scarlet muslin, and sat under a beautiful canopy richly ornamented with silk hangings, on an elegant elbow chair with velvet cushions to the back and sides, from which he was taken and mounted on a horse, accompanied by four men, his nearest relations, each holding a drawn sword in his hand, who also wore a dress of scarlet muslin. People of condition, among the Mahometans, contribute largely to the magnificence of this ceremony; and appear on horseback in the midst of the gay assembly, with their finest camels in rich furniture led after them.

But to return—the child was conducted in this manner to a chapel, at the door of which he alit, assisted by his four relations, who entered with him into the sacred building, where he bowed in adoration to one of the Prophets, repeating with his kindred, some prayers he had been before taught by his parents; after this pious duty is over, he is again mounted on his horse, and led to another chapel, where he goes through the same forms, and so on to them all, praying with the rest of the company, and fervently imploring in the attitude of prostrate humility, the great Alla to protect him from every harm in the act of circumcision.

After they had taken their rounds to the different places of worship, they returned to the square in which the semiana was erected, and placed him under the glittering canopy, upon his accustomed chair. The music that played before him suddenly ceased, when the Mulna appeared in his sacredotal robes, holding a silver bason of consecrated water, with which he sprinkled him; while the Hajam slowly advancing in order to circumcise him, instantly performed the operation. In this critical moment, every individual in the numerous crowd, stood on one foot, and joined his father and mother in heartfelt petitions to Heaven for his safety. The Music again struck up, and played some cheerful airs: after which, the child was taken home by his parents and put to bed. The company being served with water and napkins by the Hajams, washed their hands and sat down barefooted on a rich carpet, to partake of a favourite dish called by the natives pelou, composed of stewed rice and meat highly seasoned, which they are in general fond of. The entire scene was illuminated with torches, which, by a strong reflexion of artificial lustre, seemed to heighten the splendor of their ornaments.

Letter XIII

Dear Sir,

I shall now proceed to give you some account of the form of marriage among the Mahometans, which is generally solemnized with all the external show of Oriental pageantry. The parents of the young people, first treat on the subject of uniting them in the bands of wedlock, and if they mutually agree on a connection between them, the happy pair, who were never permitted to see each other, nor even consulted about their union, are joined in marriage at a very youthful time in life, the female seldom exceeding the age of twelve, and the lad little more advanced in years: they must always be of the same cast, and trade; for a weaver will not give his daughter to a man of any other occupation: in the higher scenes of life, each of the parties bring a splendid fortune; but among people of the middle class, the woman has seldom more allotted her than her apparel, furniture, and a few ornaments of some value, as the parents of the man provide for both, by giving him a portion of such property as they can afford; in land, merchandize, or implements of trade, according to their situation. When they conclude all matters to their satisfaction, Hajams are sent with nutmegs, in the usual form, to invite their friends and acquaintance to the wedding, and the houses of each party are adorned with green branches and flowers. Outside the doors they erect galleries for the musicians, under which, are rows of seats or benches for the accommodation of the lower class of people, who are forbid any closer communication. Allured by invitation and the love of pleasure, the welcome guests arrive, and discover the houses by the green branches and flowers with which they are gayly dressed, to distinguish them from others. The entire week is spent in the utmost mirth and convivial enjoyment. The finest scarlet muslin is procured for the young people and their relations, by their parents on both sides: those of the youth supply the dresses of the young woman and her kindred; and her's furnish him and his relatives with suitable apparel.

Thus arrayed, the bridegroom is carried on a palanquin, with lighted torches in his train, attended by a number of people, to the house of the bride, whose friends meet him on the way. At his arrival, the ceremony is performed, if the mansion be large enough to contain the cheerful throng that assemble on this festive occasion; if not, which is generally the case, a semiana is erected in a spacious square, in the centre of which is a canopy about seven feet high, covered on the top with the finest snow-white muslin, and decorated inside with diversified figures representing the sun, moon, and stars. Beneath this temporary dome, the coy maid reclines on a soft cushion, in an easy posture, while the raptured youth, scouring through fancy's lawn, on the wings of expectation, and already anticipating the joys of connubial felicity, leans opposite his sable Dulcinea in a similar attitude. The breathing instruments now wake their trembling strings to announce the coming of the Mulna, who enters the scene with an air of characteristic solemnity: the music gradually ceases, till its expiring voice is lulled into a profound silence; and the Priest opens the alcoran, which is held according to custom by four persons, one at each corner, and reads, in grave accents, the ceremony. The bride and bridegroom interchange rings, which they put on their fingers; and one of the bridemaids, supposed to be her relation, comes behind both, who are veiled, and ties, in a close knot, the ends of their shawls together, to signify their firm union. The Mulna, finally, consecrates a glass of water and sugar, which he presents to them: they alternately taste it, but the man gives it round to a few select friends of the company, who, in turn, put it to their lips, wishing happiness to the married couple. They now sit down to an elegant supper, after which the dancing girls are introduced, who make a splendid appearance, clothed in embroidered silks and muslins, and moving in a variety of loose attitudes that allure admiration and excite the passions.

When the entertainment is over, a silver plate not unlike a salver, is carried about, into which almost every individual drops some pecuniary gratuity to reward the trouble of the Hajams, and the guests retire in company with the newly wedded pair, who are conveyed on separate palanquins to the house of his father, while bands of music in cheerful mood are playing before them, numerous torches flaming round them, that seem with their blaze to disperse the gloom of night, and fire-works, exhibiting in the ambient air, a variety of dazzling figures. When they arrive, the Mulna gives them his benediction, and sprinkles the people about them, with perfumed water coloured with saffron: a second entertainment is then prepared for their friends and acquaintance, which concludes the hymeneal festivity. Among people of rank, merchants, and tradesmen, who have made any acquisitions, in life, the Lady never goes outside the doors after marriage, except when she is carried on a palanquin, which is so well covered that she cannot be seen by any body. A man of any consequence in India, does not stir out for a week after his nuptials, and would deem it dishonourable to suffer his wife to appear in public: the indigence of the poorer kind of people precludes them from the observance of this punctilio. The husband's entire property after his decease, comes into the possession of his wife. It may be here observed, that the Hindoo, as well as the Mahometan, shudders at the idea of exposing women to the public eye: they are held so sacred in India, that even the soldier in the rage of slaughter will not only spare, but even protect them. The Haram is a sanctuary against the horrors of wasting war, and ruffians covered with the blood of a husband, shrink back with confusion at the apartment of his wife.

Letter XIV

Dear Sir,

The Mahometans are, in general, a very healthful people: refraining from the use of strong liquors, and accustomed to a temperate diet, they have but few diseases, for which their own experience commonly finds some simple yet effectual remedy. When they are visited by sickness, they bear it with much composure of mind, partly through an expectation of removing their disorder, by their own manner of treating it: but when they perceive their malady grows too violent, to submit even to the utmost exertions of their skill, they send for a Mulna, who comes to the bedside of the sick person, and putting his hand over him, feels that part of his body most affected, and repeats, with a degree of fervency, some pious prayers, by the efficacy of which, it is supposed the patient will speedily recover. The Mahometans meet death with uncommon resignation and fortitude, considering it only as the means of enlarging them from a state of mortal captivity, and opening to them a free and glorious passage to the mansions of bliss. Those ideas console them on the bed of sickness; and even amid the pangs of dissolution, the parting soul struggling to leave its earthly prison, and panting for the joys of immortality, changes, at bright intervals, the terrors of the grim Monarch into the smiles of a Cherub, who invites it to a happier region.

When a person dies among them, the neighbours of the same religious principles, bring the family of the deceased to their houses, and use every means to comfort them in their affliction. The corpse is stretched on the death bed, which is covered with white muslin, and adorned with flowers: wax tapers are lit about it, and the room hung round with white cotton. Numbers assemble together to pray for the departed spirit, and twenty-four hours after the decease of the person, on account of the excessive heat of the climate, the body is wrapped up in muslin, and carried towards the grave, near which it is laid down, before it is interred: all the people who attend the funeral kneel in a direct line beside it, imploring the great Alla to give the soul eternal rest: it is then consigned to the silent scene of interment, and the relations throw a little clay on it, after which it is covered. The Mulna consecrates a quantity of thin cakes, which he distributes in broken pieces among the people, who share them with each other, and join in prayer, while the eldest son of the deceased sprinkles the grave with holy water, and spreads a large white sheet over it. Four days after the funeral, the relatives entertain their neighbours and a multitude of poor people with unlimitted hospitality, who, in gratitude for their munificence, offer up their united petitions to Heaven for the kinsman of their benefactors.

People of condition have grand monuments erected to their memory, and lamps lighting at their tombs throughout the year: their houses also, on certain festivals, are magnificently illuminated in remembrance of them. The poorer natives perform this ceremony at the grave and their own habitations, but once in the year, for a short space of time. After the death of a husband, his wife puts on no mourning, and disrobing herself of all the ornaments of dress and jewels, wears only plain white muslin. In the middle walk of life, the widow enjoys the sole property, which, making some reserve for herself, she generally divides in a very equitable manner, among her children: in more elevated situations, the son succeeds his father in rank or employment.

The Mahometans are strict adherents to the tenets of their religion, which does not, by any means, consist in that enthusiastic veneration for Mahomet so generally conceived: it considers much more, as its primary object, the unity of the supreme Being, under the name of Alla: Mahomet is only regarded in a secondary point of view, as the missionary of that unity, merely for destroying the idol worship, to which Arabia had continued so long under bondage: and so far from addressing him as a deity, that in their oraisons, they do not pray to him, but for him recommending him to the divine mercy: it is a mistaken, though a generally received opinion, that pilgrimages were made to his tomb, which, in a religious sense, were only directed to what is called the cahabah or holy-house at Mecca, an idol temple dedicated by him to the unity of God. His tomb is at Medina, visited by the Mahometans, purely out of curiosity and reverence to his memory. Most of his followers carry their veneration for the supreme Being so far, as not only, never to mention the word Alla or God, on any common occasion, but think it in some degree blasphemous to praise or define a Being, whom they consider as so infinitely transcendant to all praise, definition or comprehension. Thus, they carry their scrupulosity to such a length, as not even to approve of calling him good, righteous, or merciful, from their thinking such epithets superfluous and impertinent; as if one were emphatically to say of a man that he had a head, or any other member necessary to the human form: for they conceive it to be a profanation of the name of God, to accompany it with human attributes; and that no idea can be so acceptable to that Being, as the name itself, a substantive infinitely superior and independent of the connexion of any adjective to give it the least degree of additional emphasis.

Letter XV

Dear Sir,

I shall now change the subject from grave to gay, and endeavour to entertain you with some account of the dancing girls of this country. At a very youthful time of life, they are regularly trained in all the arts of pleasing, by a hackneyed matron, worn in the campaigns of Venus, whose past experience renders her perfectly adequate to the task of instruction, for which she receives from her pupils a share of the pecuniary favours conferred on them by their gallants, and also procures them every article of dress that can set them off to advantage. They have different places of abode, sometimes occupying the handsomest houses in towns or cities; and in the fine season of the year, they retire to the country, where their villas, gardens, bowers, and every other rural improvement, are laid out in such a manner, as to allure the most unconcerned observer. Hither, some of the principal Nabobs and European Gentlemen of the first distinction, are drawn by the love of pleasure, and lavish immense sums on these creatures, who are generally recruited out of the people of all casts and denominations, though not without a peculiar attention to beauty or agreeableness; yet, even the knowledge of their being so common, is with many totally forgotten in the ravishing display of their natural and acquired charms. They dance to the music of cymbals, fifes, and drums, they term tum-tums, and often represent in pantomime such scenes, as a lover courting his mistress; a procuress, endeavouring to seduce a woman from one gallant to another; and a girl, timorous and afraid of being caught in an intrigue. All these love-scenes, they perform, in gestures, air, and steps, with well-adapted expression. In some of their dances, even in public, modesty is not much respected in the motions of their limbs, the quivering of their hips, and other lascivious attitudes, into which they throw themselves, without exposing any nudity. But in private parties, they introduce other dances, in which, though they never offend delicacy, by discovering any part of their bodies, they betray such fascinating looks and postures, as are probably more dangerous. In short, there is no attraction, of which they are not capable, and by these unfailing arts, they frequently arrive at the temple of fortune. In many parts of India, there are several fine Mahometan chapels built by them, and rich factories established, where various artisans and tradesmen find the greatest encouragement.

The dress of these women, which differs according to the custom of the country, is in all, however, the most splendid conceivable. Their persons glitter with jewels from head to toe, since even on their toes they wear rings. Carcanets adorn their necks, bracelets their arms, and chains of gold and silver, enriched with precious stones, their very ankles. They also wear nose-jewels, to which the familiar eye is soon reconciled. Their breasts are covered with thin muslin, embellished with gems, and the swell of the tempting bosom displayed to such advantage, warms even frigid insensibility with a glow of soft sensations. Their necklaces are composed of flowers strung together, which they call mogrees, resembling Spanish double jessamy, but of a more agreeable odor, and preferable to any perfumes, delighting at once the sight and smell. Their dress consists of a long white muslin gown, extremely clear and fine, with a short body and long sleeves, and the skirt which contains near twenty yards, is ornamented in its train, with silver fringe; a long trousers made of fancy silk, exactly fitted to their shapes, and a large shawl, that covers the head and shoulders, embroidered with a deep silver fringe. On the head they wear jewels and flowers; and their long black hair is generally braided. Many of them, especially those in commerce with the Moguls and Moors, follow the old Eastern custom, of forming a black circle round their eye borders, by drawing a bodkin between them, with their eye-lids shut, that both sides may receive the tint of the stibium, or powder of antimony that sticks to the bodkin. The powder is called by them surma; which they imagine refreshes and cools the eye, besides exciting its lustre, by the ambient blackness. They avoid every degree of affectation in their manners, and copy nature, as their grand original, in the imitation and refinement of which, their art chiefly consists. Besides, they have nothing of that gross impudence which characterises the European prostitutes; their style of seduction being all softness and gentleness: their caresses are not only well managed, but well timed in the cloying minutes of satiety. There are some of them, even amidst their vices and depravity, whose minds are finely impressed with generous sentiments. The following authentic account is a striking proof of it:

One of them lived, some years ago, at a pleasant seat a few miles from Cossumbuzar, where she had been visited by some of the principal men of the country, among whom was a rich factor, whose attachments to her diverted his attention from business, in such a manner, that he became a bankrupt. This misfortune preyed so much on his mind, that his melancholy could not well escape the observation of his mistress, from whom he endeavoured to conceal it as much as possible, dreading to be forsaken by her in his poverty. After repeated entreaties on her part, he, at length, made her acquainted with his situation: she suddenly left him, and to his great astonishment, shortly returned with money and effects, to such an amount as enabled him to conduct his business with more spirit and application than ever.

Here is an instance, that even the human heart plunged in crimes and immorality, may sometimes be roused from its torpor by the voice of humanity.

Letter XVI

Dear Sir,

That part of our army which we left in Calcutta, arrived at Barahampore, before our departure; and shortly after, the entire brigade received orders to march to Denapore, where we arrived in the year 1775. On the Bengal establishment, there are three brigades, who all wear the usual scarlet uniform: that of the first is faced with blue—of the second with black—and the third with yellow. Each brigade contains one regiment of Europeans, six regiments or twelve battalions of Seapoys, three companies of European Artillery, five companies of native Artillery, called Gullendas, and two companies of native Cavalry. A regiment of Seapoys on the present establishment, consists of two battalions, each battalion 500 men or five companies, with a Captain, two Lieutenants, three Ensigns, one Serjeant-Major, Europeans; besides one Comedan, five Subidars, ten Jemidars, thirty Howaldars, thirty Homaldars, five Tombourwallas, five Basleewallas, and five Troohewallas, Natives.

As you may not understand those terms, I shall thus explain them to you.

Comedan signifies
a Captain
a Lieutenant
an Ensign
a Serjeant
a Corporal
a private Soldier
a Drummer
a Fife
a Trumpeter

The Seapoys are composed of Mahometans and Hindoos, who make no other distinction in their exterior appearance, than that the Hindoos colour each side of the face and forehead with a kind of red paint, produced from the timber of the sandal tree. The dress of both, is a thin muslin shirt, a red coat in uniform, a turban, sash, and short trousers [see figure 2]. The turban, which is of muslin, is mostly blue as well as the sash: it is quite small, fitted very closely to the head, and not unlike a Scotch bonnet in form, except that the front is more flat, to which they affix a cockade of white muslin puffed and trimmed with silver lace, with a star in the middle. It is also ornamented with curious narrow festoons made of thin wire. Round the neck are worn two or three rows of wooden beads, and a shield on the left shoulder. An Officer wears silver or glass beads, a coat of scarlet cloth, in uniform with the brigade to which he belongs, a blue sash and turban, containing twenty yards each, a pair of long trousers, half boots, and a shield on the left shoulder.

Figure 2. A Native Officer (1.); A Seapoy or private soldier (2.), in the Company's Service, on the Bengal Establishment (Mahomet, Travels, Letter XVI).

The Seapoys, who are in general well disciplined in the use of arms, serve as a strong reinforcement to a much less number of Europeans, and on many occasions, display great firmness and resolution.

As a sequel to this letter, I beg leave to subjoin an alphabetical explanation of Persian and Indian terms, not commonly understood in this country.

Explanation of Persian
and Indian Terms

a Petition
Dealers in different branches of trade
an intoxicating juice of a vegetable
a Market
a King
a Queen
a Princess
a leaf growing on a vine, and chewed by all ranks of people
a Priest
Foot Soldiers, with only sword and target
Treasurer to the Mogul, or Paymaster of troops
a Custom-house
a title of dignity
a Bishop
a small seal, on which is engraved the name of the Mogul
an open house for all travellers
a fourth part: or a tribute exacted by the Morattoes
Turnpikes; or guards at landing places
Negroes from Africa, trained up as soldiers by the Europeans
a Porter, or Labourer of any kind
a distance of two miles and more
a foot Messenger or Post
a protection
Crore of Rupees
a hundred lack or near 1,250,000 l. sterling
Custom-house Officers, or Collectors
a Robber
King's Treasurer
Superintendency over the royal revenues
a woman's chair, like a sedan
a river
the Court or Council of a Mogul Prince
an order
a royal mandate, or grant
a Governor, military Officer, or Renter
a native Indian, in a state of idolatry
a Broker, Factor, or Agent
Grain Market
Carriers of palanquins
Carts or coaches drawn by oxen
a district granted as a mark of honor, or allotted as a pension
the Gentoo pagoda
an Ensign
the Governor of a Fort
Times of the payment of the country Revenues
Lack of Rupees
about 12,500 l. sterling
between 70 and 80 pounds, at Surat only 37 pounds
a Persian Secretary
a Mahometan Priest
Bonds of obligation
the throne of an Indian Prince
the capital of Bengal
a Governor of a Province, appointed by the Soubah
a Deputy to the Governor of a place
Privy Counsellors to the Mogul, and men of the first rank
in the Empire
Rice in the husk
Rice fields
an Indian temple
an Indian coin worth 7s. 8d. sterling
a kind of canopy bed for travelling
Worshippers of fire
a Messenger or Post
Foot soldiers armed with a broad sword
a letter, order, or command
the town surrounding an Indian fort
a Money Changer
the Lord of a District
the highest title claimed by the Gentoo Princes
the King's Officer for receiving the revenue
a silver coin worth about 2s. 5d. sterl.
commissions from the Mogul, Soubahs, or Nabobs
an Officer of Horse
Indian foot soldiers, hired and disciplined by Europeans
a Banker
a general name for the Government, or those concerned in it
a rich dress of the country, worn by way of distinction
the Viceroy of the Deckan, or of Bengal
a pond, or pool of water
the Revenue appropriated by the Mogul, for maintaining
a fleet at Surat
a mint for coinage
the Carnatic country
Soldiers raised in the Carnatic
Tum tums
a tawney race of foot soldiers, descended from the Portuguese marrying natives, and called Topasses, because they wear hats
Assignments upon lands, or rents assigned to the Company
an English Agent, or resident at the Nabob's court
the grant for the Viziership
an Officer who takes care of the rents arising from
the public lands

Letter XVII

Dear Sir,

On our march from Denapore to Belgram [Bilgram], we halted some days at Benaras, a rich and populous city on the north side of the Ganges, and celebrated for its learning in past time. There was once a very fine Observatory here; and a few years ago, some European Gentlemen, led hither by the love of science and antiquity, discovered a great many astronomical instruments, of a large size, admirably well contrived, though injured by the hand of time. It was supposed they might have been constructed some centuries ago, under the direction of the great Akbar, the fond votary of science, and the distinguished patron of the Bramins who applied, with unwearied assiduity, to the study of astronomy.

The country about Benaras, is considered as the Paradise of India, remarkable for its salubrious air, fascinating landscapes, and innocence of its inhabitants, whose simple manners had a happy influence on all who lived near them. While wasteful war spread her horrors over other parts of India, this blissful country often escaped her ravages, perhaps secured by its distance from the ocean, or more probably by the sacred character ascribed to the scene, which had, through many ages, been considered as the repository of the religion and learning of the Bramins, and the prevailing idea of the simplicity of the native Hindoos, a people unaccustomed to the sanguinary measures of, what they term, civilized nations.

But to return—the city of Benaras is built on the banks of the Ganges, and extends along the river from Rahajgaut, at one end, to Raja Cheyt Sing's [Chait Singh's] palace, at the other, which makes a distance of, at least, four miles. About the centre of the city, stands an ancient and lofty pile of building, called Mawdodasthrohur [Madho Das Dharahara], which strikes the eye, at first view, with a kind of sublime astonishment, and appears like a collection of rising towers that seem to survey in majestic pride the subject town and surrounding country. It is the temporary residence of the Hindoo pilgrims, who occasionally occupy it as they journey through this peaceful region. At some distance from it, is the elegant edifice of Bene, an extensive dealer in diamonds: this mansion is built at a slip, or gaut, called, by being united with the proprietor's name, Benegaut [Beni Madho Rai Ghat]; as if we said, Sullivan's-quay, or French's-slip. There are also other wharfs, or slips, ascending from the river, by many stone steps, termed from the names of the owners, who have built fine houses thereon, Ramgaut [Ram Ghat], Ranagaut [Rana Ghat], Pilleegaut [Pilai Ghat], Chowkgaut [Chawki Ghat], and Marattagaut [Maratha Ghat], &c.

At the east end of the town, there is a large square of building, called Serai, encompassed by walls, and laid out for the reception of travellers of every description; the better sort of people pay for their accommodation: but the poor are entertained free of expence: this laudable institution is supported by the voluntary contributions of the merchants of the city.

There are many other handsome dwellings belonging to the different traders and manufacturers, and several pagodas, or temples, of Hindoo worship.

The streets in Benaras, are rather confined and narrow; and the houses, which are crowded together, are in general very high and flat at the top, where the inhabitants, in the cool hours of the day, enjoy the benefit of the air. In different parts of the town, there are tanks, or wells, for the use of the citizens and the refreshment of passing strangers, who if in indigence, are also humanely supplied with food by persons employed to attend at the tanks for this very purpose. This city is well peopled, and persons of consequence, when they appear abroad, either on horseback or in their palanquins, are attended in great pomp, by numerous retinues. Manufactures of silk are carried on here to a great degree of perfection, and few places in India can surpass this market in such a varied assortment of sattins, keemcaus, and gooldbudthen, an elegant kind of silk, beautifully wrought with flowers of gold, besides muslin shawls, embroidered with gold and silver at each border. It is also remarkable for its fine carpets, saltpetre, sugar, musk, and perfumes; and trades largely with the Morattoes, and other dealers of India, with whom its commodities are bartered for their diamonds, and other articles of value.

About three miles north of the city, stands the Raja's palace, a superb mansion, where he usually spends the summer season, amidst the delightful scenery of groves, lawns, umbrageous walks, ponds, and cascades.

Letter XVIII

Dear Sir,

You will now expect from me, an account of the Hindoos, the natives of this country; who are classed into four tribes, namely, Bramins, Sittri, Bice, and Sudder. The Bramins, or first class, which are esteemed the most ancient and honourable, are the Priests, the Instructors and Philosophers: the Sittri, or second class, are the military, who are entrusted with the defence and government of the state; in war, the soldiers who fight its battles; in peace, the magistrates and rulers who direct its councils: the Bice, or third class, are the merchants and husbandmen, who provide the necessaries and comforts of life by trade and agriculture, and thereby circulate through various channels the wealth of the nation: the Sudder, or fourth class, are the artisans, labourers, and servants. There is another class, which is the meanest of all, composed of cherwallees or gold-finders, chemars or shoe-makers, and domerah, or basket-makers, who are held in such sovereign detestation, that the very mention of their names conveys to the mind of a Hindoo, every idea of meanness and servility. No person, unless he be excommunicated, can quit his cast, or tribe; nor will he, on any account, be admitted into any other. This distinction of the people into different classes, seems to be an institution of some antiquity, and probably will continue unaltered till the end of time, so steady and persevering is every individual in his attachment to his respective cast.

The Bramins are again divided into five orders: first, into those that eat no flesh: second, into those that eat some kind of flesh; third, those that marry; fourth, those that vow celibacy: and fifth, the Bramins that forbear walking at all, for fear of destroying some living creatures; these wear a piece of silk or muslin before their mouths, lest the smallest fly should be drawn in by their breath. They are so exceedingly scrupulous in this respect, that they will not burn wood, through an apprehension of destroying any insect by it; and they always carry a brush in their hands to sweep the place they design to sit on, lest they should dislodge the soul of some animal. Their scrupulosity arises from a belief in the transmigration of souls, and their followers are so firmly persuaded that departed souls enter the bodies of animals, that they no sooner observe any of them frequent their houses, than they immediately conclude, their deceased friends, under this new disguise, come to visit them. They cannot, without horror, think of depriving any thing of life, and do not less respect it in the smallest insect, than in the huge elephant.

They hold there is but one God infinitely perfect, who has existed from all eternity; but that there are three subordinate Deities, namely, Brama [Brahma], whom he vested with the power of creation; Whistnow [Vishnu], the preserver; and Routeren [Rudra], the enemy and destroyer of mankind. The supreme Divinity is often typified under the form of a Being, with a number of eyes and hands, to impress the minds of the people with a strong idea of his penetration and power, and induce them to be very exact in the performance of moral duties. The Bramins advise their followers to go in pilgrimage to certain places, esteemed holy, and especially to the pagodas near the mouth of the Ganges: washing in that river alone, will, in their opinion, cleanse them from a multitude of sins. Their women rise early in the morning to bathe, carrying pieces of dough on silver salvers, adorned with flowers, to the river side, and lighted lamps in their hands: after bathing, they form the dough into images, which they worship with much adoration, at the same time ringing bells and burning incense, and afterwards commit their images to the bosom of the Ganges, with some formality. However strange their doctrine may appear to Europeans, yet they are much to be commended for the exercise of the moral virtues they inculcate, namely, temperance, justice, and humanity. Amidst a variety of extravagant customs, strange ceremonies, and prejudices, we may discover the traces of sublime morality, deep philosophy, and refined policy; but when we attempt to trace the religious and civil institutions to their source, we find that it is lost in the maze of antiquity. The native Indians, or Hindoos, are men of strong natural genius, and are, by no means, unacquainted with literature and science, as the translation of the Ayeen Akberry [Ain-i Akbari] into English, has fully evinced. We may trace the origin of most of the sciences, in their ancient manuscripts. Even before the age of Pythagoras, the Greeks travelled to India for instruction: the trade carried on by them with the oldest commercial nations, in exchange for their cloth, is a proof of their great progress in the arts of industry.

The women in general, except in the higher scenes of life, prepare the food for their husbands and families; as no Hindoo would make use of any but what his wife dresses for him: it consists chiefly of rice, fish, and vegetables, well seasoned with pepper and other spices, to which they add pickles of various sorts. The men, who always eat together, unaccompanied by the women, previously take off their turbans, shoes, and outside garments, and wash before and after meals. They afterwards withdraw to another apartment, where they enjoy themselves with smoking tobacco and chewing betel. They use no spirits or other liquors, but are particularly nice in the taste of different waters, and consider their choice of them a great luxury.

As to the funerals of these people—some bury the bodies of the deceased, which they place in the grave in a sitting posture, with rice and water near them: their dead are generally decked with jewels and other ornaments, of which they are disrobed by their kindred, before the grave is filled up. The usual way, however, is to burn the corpse on a funeral pile erected for that purpose near the water side; the nearest relation in tattered apparel, which is, in their opinion, the expressive garb of sorrow, sets fire to it, and shews every symptom of frantic grief on the occasion: the body being soon consumed, the ashes are collected and thrown into the river. The ashes of the great are placed in an urn, which is carried with some degree of ceremony by a Bramin, and cast into the Ganges, to whose waters they attribute a peculiar sanctity.

Letter XIX

Dear Sir,

After halting some days at Benaras, in order to refresh the army, we proceeded on our march towards Belgram, delighted, as we passed along, with a continued view of the finest country on earth, diversified with fields of rice, plantations of sugar, and gardens abounding with a variety of fruits and flowers; and encamped at Duci [Joosi], opposite Alahabad [Allahabad], a large fort, about 412 miles to the south of Delhi, 540 from Calcutta, and 850 from the mouth of the Ganges. It is pleasantly situated between that river and Jemina [Jamuna]. Inside the fort is a royal palace, in which are apartments for the Mogul, a Durbar, and Zenanah, with a number of houses occupied by the Officers of the court, and their families. Each house is built like two dwellings joined together, and walled round, for the purpose not only of concealing their women from their neighbours, but even from their own male domestics; and contains very spacious and lofty rooms, opening towards the river, with smaller apartments adjoining them, which are extremely dark, without the least aperture to admit either light or air. To these they retire in the heat of the day, to enjoy the calm refreshment of sleep; for the natives find by experience, that in order to render a situation cool, in this sultry region, they must totally exclude every ray of light, and breath of air, till the fervid sun descends into the lap of Thetis. To the tops of their houses, which are flat, they ascend by narrow, steep, stair-cases, and inhale the evening breeze after Sol's friendly departure.

The palace of Alahabad was entirely built of stone, hewn out of the rocks, at some distance from the banks of the Ganges, and brought hither at a vast expence. It is not unlike the Portland stone, but of a coarser kind, and infinitely more porous. Not only the walls, but the roofs, floors, and pillars of the palace, were formed of it; and even the very squares and passages were paved with it. Neither glass, iron, brick, or other materials for building, were introduced here, until the fort came into the possession of the English. The slightest walls of this great pile are, at least, five feet thick. There are some good houses about it, built in the Indian style, that make a handsome appearance. Nothing can be more striking, nothing can display a more sublime air of grandeur, than the lofty gateways here, which resemble in some manner, the old triumphal arches of the Romans.

The country and climate of Alahabad, are very delightful; when the rains are over, not a cloud is to be seen in the azure Heavens, and the heat of torrid suns is frequently tempered by the breath of fanning gales, which Providence occasionally permits to pant, on the bosom of the sultry air. Vegetation is so rapid, that it seems almost perceptible to the eye; and the naked plains, which appeared, but a week before, to be only a broad surface of sand, are instantly clothed by the benignity of those tears shed from above, with the verdant robes of blooming nature. The face of the country is entirely changed; even the marshy grounds that had been covered with water, produce their golden harvests; and the luxuriant earth, under the genial influence of the clime, pours forth her various plenty. Rice, wheat, peas, and beans, grow here in abundance; and a sort of grain called jow, something like the oats of Europe. The indigo shrub thrives exceedingly in this soil; it is not higher than a rose tree; and its leaves, when stripped off, are steeped in tubs of water, which extracts the blue from them; the sediment, after the water has been drained off, is exposed to the sun, which occasions the moisture to evaporate, and the indigo to remain at the bottom of the vessels. The gardens are painted with a variety of beautiful flowers, that feast the sight, without gratifying the smell: to the rose, and a white flower resembling jessamine, we are only indebted for their fragrance. The fruits are mangoes, guavas, pomegranates, ananas or pine apples, musk and water melons, limes, lemons, and oranges, all which spring up spontaneously, and grow to a great degree of perfection. Ginger, and turmeric, which has much the same qualities of ginger, are produced in this fertile soil, in their highest state of excellence.

Letter XX

Dear Sir,

Our march from Alahabad was extremely pleasant, until we came to Mendegaut on the river of Ganges, when a violent storm arose, accompanied with hail, lightning, and thunder, which continued for three days, and greatly annoyed both men and cattle. We remained here a week, to repair some damages suffered by the weather, and then crossed over to the plains of Belgram, on the opposite side of the river, where we encamped in the year 1776. These plains take their name from the village of Belgram, situate about two miles farther up the country. In a few months after our arrival, the Nabob Aspa-doulah [Asaf al-Daula], in consequence of a difference with the Fouzdars Maboub and Cossi-bussant [Faujdars Mahbub Ali Khan and Khwaja Basant Ali Khan], arising from their non-compliance to pay the usual annual tribute, due for some time, collected his troops together, in order to march against them, having first dispatched an express to General Stibbert, who commanded our army, acquainting him of his intended expedition, and requesting his immediate assistance. At the instance of Aspah-doulah, two regiments of Seapoys, under the direction of Colonel Parker, were ordered to a place called Coragh [Kora], about eighty miles from Belgram, in order to reinforce the Nabob's troops, which they met on the way, advancing with a few pieces of cannon. Maboub apprized by his scouts, of the route of our detachment, sent Deputies to Col. Parker, to request a personal interview with him. The Colonel wishing to accommodate matters, if possible, without resorting to the horrors of war, agreed on it; and the result of their meeting, was apparently amicable, on both sides. On the next day, our Officers were invited by Maboub, to dine with him: he, in the mean time, prepared his men for a secret attack, and previously poisoned the provisions intended for their entertainment. The Gentlemen, by no means, suspecting his dark design, were actually on the way to their perfidious host, and must have met with an untimely fate at his inhospitable table, had not one of his servants providentially disclosed the secret before their arrival, and informed them that there was a plan concerted to surprise the main body, in their absence. The Colonel, Capt. Gravely, and the rest of the Officers, alarmed at this intelligence, instantly returned to the camp, and perceived at some distance, numbers of Maboub's men, advancing in regular order, to give them battle. Our soldiers, at a moment's notice, were prepared to oppose their force, and made so vigorous a charge on them, at the first onset, when they came up, that their ranks were broken, and the greater part of them discouraged from disappointment, and deserted by the hope of an easy conquest, fled, in the utmost confusion and disorder, after an engagement in which, though soon over, many of the enemy fell. Cossi-bussant escaped with those who made off, at the commencement of hostilities; and Maboub was pursued, taken, and sent prisoner, under a strong guard to Aspah-doulah at Lecknow [Lucknow], where he received that punishment, which his perfidy deserved.

A few of our Seapoys were killed; and the gallant Captain Gravely, no less distinguished for his prowess in the field, than his conduct in private life, received an ill fated wound, of which he died, in a few months after Col. Parker, and the two regiments under his command, returned to Belgram. He was sincerely regretted by his brother Officers; by whom and his weeping Soldiers, his funeral was processionally attended to the grave, and he was interred with due military honours. His afflicted widow erected a very handsome monument to his memory, near the ground where his own regiment usually paraded.

Lecknow, the town, to which Maboub was sent, is a place of considerable trade, and one of the principal factories in the Mogul's dominions. The inhabitants are opulent and industrious; and the Nabob Aspa-doulah, with other Noblemen, occasionally reside here, living in all the ease and splendor of eastern luxury, and frequently indulging themselves with their dancing girls. There are some good houses in Lecknow, occupied by merchants and factors; nor is it less remarkable for its cotton manufactories, than for a beautiful kind of porcelain and earthen ware.

The Nabob keeps a kind of a military force here, called Burkendaws, who are not so uniform in dress as the Seapoys. Their arms are match fire-locks, bows and arrows, spears, daggers, swords, and shields.

Letter XXI

Dear Sir,

At some distance from Lecknow, is the town of Oude [Ayodhya or Faizabad]; and it will ever be a place of constant resort while it holds the remains of Sujah-doulah [Shuja al-Daula], which are deposited here in a magnificent tomb, illumined every night with a number of glittering lamps, and covered with ornamented muslin. It is sheltered by a grand dome supported by pillars, and on each side is placed a large silver jar of water, from an opinion that he may rise in the night to bathe, which the Mahometans look upon as a purification necessary to prepare them for their admission into the regions of happiness. This town is much indebted to him for the great improvements it received during his reign; and the surrounding country also, which appears like one extensive garden. His palace in Oude is an ancient but spacious mansion, and still retains the striking appearance of pristine grandeur.

In the environs of the town, there are lofty groves and wide extending parks, called by the natives, circarga, where he had often passed some of his leisure hours in the pleasures of the chase and riding. His ponds were stored with a variety of curious fishes, both exotic and domestic, with their fins and tails adorned with small golden rings. He frequently made it the amusement of his evenings to feed them with rice, and observe them leap above water to receive it from his hand. He was so extremely fond of curiosities, that he kept a menage constantly supplied with a number of strange animals wild and tame, which he collected from different parts of the world, and confined in iron cages. His great revenues were scarcely sufficient to support his extravagance, and gratify his unbounded love of pleasure.

Some time before Sujah-doulah's death, he repeatedly sent to Mulnahoffis [Maulana Hafiz Rahmat Khan], Nabob of the Rohellas [Rohillas], for the customary tribute, which the latter, on consulting his Officers, not only refused to pay, but even threatened, vi et armis, to oppose him. Sujah-doulah, without delay, having acquainted General Champion of his conduct, was reinforced by him, and marched with his brave auxiliaries to the Rohellas, where he met the numerous troops of the enemy on the field of battle, and warmly engaged them, until victory inclining to our side, conferred on us her unfading laurels, as the meed of military virtue. Col. William Ann. Bailie, then Major of artillery, distinguished himself by his intrepid zeal and gallantry in this expedition.

A great part of the enemy's army were killed; the rest fled, and some of them were pursued and taken. General Champion returned with his men to head quarters, at Belgram; and Sujah-doulah directed his course to the very palace of Mulnahoffis, who was also in the number of the slain, and compelled his daughter, a beautiful young woman, whom he found in one of the grand apartments to come along with him to Oude. Having placed this unfortunate Lady in his seraglio, where nine hundred pining beauties, with their attendants, were already immured, he forced her to yield to his licentious desires, but purchased his enjoyment at a dear rate, as his life was the forfeit of it. The violated female, with a soul, the shrine of purity, like that of the divine Lucretia, whose chastity will ever adorn the historic page, fired with indignation at such unmanly treatment, grew frantic with rage, and disdaining life after the loss of honour, stabbed her brutal ravisher with a lancet, which she afterwards plunged into her own bosom, and expired. Notwithstanding the dangerous wound he received, by the appointment of Heaven, from the avenging hand of injured innocence, he might have lingered some time longer in life, had he kept within the bounds of moderation, by restraining the impetuosity of his unruly passions. But his career was pleasure, to which he gave such a loose, that his recent wound opened, and bleeding afresh, reduced him to a state of debility that terminated in his death. On account of his elevated rank in human life, his obsequies were conducted with great pomp and ceremony; and his funeral formed a pageant procession, in which his officers and soldiers walked in solemn pace, to the sounds of pensive music. After his interment, the women who composed his seraglio, laid aside their jewels and ornaments, to denote, at least, in appearance, their sorrow on this mournful occasion.

Letter XXII

Dear Sir,

I shall now give you some account of the city of Delhi, which is the capital of the province, and situate in the centre of the empire: it lies in 78 degrees, east longitude from London, and 26 degrees north latitude. Its form is something like a crescent standing on the river Jemma, which runs through it. At present it is divided into three spacious towns, about 130 miles to the northward of Agra, in a very pleasant country, and pure, wholesome climate.

The first town of Delhi, is supposed to have contained nine castles and fifty-two gates; and at some distance from it, is a handsome stone bridge. The second town, which had been taken from the Indians, a long time since, by one of the former Mogul's, has a very fine appearance, and fills the mind with ideas of the true sublime, from the ruins of the many grand monuments of their ancient heroes who fell in war, and other magnificent buildings, nearly demolished by Shah Johan [Shah Jahan], the father of Aurengzebe [Aurangzeb]. The third town, which lies close to the second and almost built on its ruins, was called Johan Abad [Shahjahanabad], but the Moguls have given it the name of Delhi. It is imagined, from the frequent wars that desolated a great part of the country of Indostan, at the time of the accession of the Patan Princes, that Shah Johan had laid the foundation of this city in blood, the better (he observed) to cement the stones. This city receives no small embellishment from the delightful gardens that surround it; and forms its principal entrance by a very wide street of a prodigious length, with arches on each side, for the purpose of stores and ware-rooms, to which the merchants and tradesmen bring whatever is valuable or curious from all parts of India. This street leads to the royal palace, at the outer gate of which, stand the figures of two huge elephants, with images mounted on them, representing two Rajas, famous in the history of Indostan, for their uncommon valour. They were brothers, who lost their lives in their gallant defence of some possessions, against a powerful army headed by Ekbar [Akbar].

Around the palace, which is two miles in circumference, is a great wall built of hewn stone, and defended with battlements, and a vast number of strong towers, at a little distance from each other. It consists of several courts, and the first of these belongs to the chief nobility, who frequently parade here, on their elephants, in all the pride of Oriental grandeur.

Within this court, is a square adorned with handsome porticos, from which you descend to convenient apartments occupied by the guards: On the east, are the courts of justice; on the west, the apartments of the ladies; and in the middle, an elegant canal formed with vast judgment and art, into basins. From the first court is a grand avenue leading to the second where the Omrahs or Nobles mount guard in person, and deem it a particular honour to wait on the present Mogul, Ahamut Shaw Baudshaw [Ahmad Shah Badshah].

The next object that presents itself to the view, is the Divan, which is held in the third court, where the Emperor gives public audience. It is a superb edifice, open at both sides and covered with a spacious dome, supported by thirty marble pillars of masterly workmanship, ornamented with painted flowers. It contains a grand hall, the ascent to which, is by a flight of marble steps, and in the centre is an alcove magnificently embellished, where the grand Mogul is proudly seated on a brilliant throne, glittering with diamonds, and a profusion of costly jewels.

The history of the revolutions of his court is fraught with so much fiction, that it would be impossible to reconcile it to reason or reflection; yet if we believe the records and traditions of the natives, its sovereigns were the greatest and most arbitrary Monarchs in the world. Their orders, though ever so extravagant, were submissively obeyed; and their mandates observed by the remotest nations. Their very names struck terror into the hearts of their enemies; but so rapid has been the decline of their power, that the race of the great Tamerlane is now little respected since the days of Nizam Almoulud [Nizam al-Mulk]. The royal tenure of the throne, is grown so insecure, that the Mogul has been, of late years, deposed at pleasure, to make way for such of his servants as could gain over the people, that great engine of power! to their cause. His authority, which prevailed, in former ages, over most of the Kings of the earth, now reaches little farther than his seraglio, where he dreams away life, drowned in the enjoyment of dissolute pleasures. His Viziers, who transact the affairs of the state, study rather to promote their own views than advance his interest; and often abridge his power in order to increase their consequence. They make peace or declare war, without his knowledge; and his Viceroys, on the other hand, who were, some years ago, appointed, or dismissed from office by him, have, of late, shaken off their dependence, and even nominated their own successors. They also, like so many independent Sovereigns, grant leases and other privileges to the Europeans, or those whom they wish to serve. His Omrahs are extremely tyrannical, and must, sooner or later by their impolicy, precipitate the ruin of the entire empire. From their oppression its great metropolis has but few manufacturers, who are obliged to work for any price those tyrants please to pay them for their labour, which is always considerably less than the value. This ungenerous treatment has not only compelled the ingenious artisan to seek encouragement elsewhere, and proved the certain means of supplying the English factories with skilful workmen, but reduced the people of Delhi to the necessity of purchasing the goods of other places, at a much dearer rate, than they need pay at home, had they given sufficient support to their own manufacturers.

Letter XXIII

Dear Sir,

The principal rural sports of the people of Indostan, are hunting and hawking: they purchase hawks and other birds of prey from Persia, which are taught to fly at all manner of game.

The Soubahs and other great characters of the country, find much amusement in the combats of wild beasts. The elephant often encounters the elephant, with a rider mounted on each, to manage them, on a larger space of ground paled in with bamboes to keep off the crowd of spectators: they attack each other with great fury, for several hours, till one of them with its rider, is either killed or disabled. The buffaloe commonly engages with the tyger, and, though ferocious the latter, frequently worsts his quadruped antagonist. It would be endless to enumerate the many diversions of this kind, which consist of various animals attacking each other or combated by men who risque their lives in such dangerous enterprizes.

Among the joyous inhabitants of this country, there are some content to live on what is just sufficient to supply human necessity: which is strictly pursuing the idea of Goldsmith, that elegant writer, who observes in his Edwin and Angelina,

Man wants but little here below,
Nor wants that little, long.

They acquire a support, by administering to travellers as they journey along the roads and highways, a chilm, or pipe of tobacco, for which they receive a small gratuity. The rich and poor, sometimes, promiscuously mingle together, and often partake of the same refreshment.

At Muckenpore [Manikpur], a small village sixty miles from Belgram, is the resort of a number of Faquirs, from Delhi, Oude, and the neighbouring provinces. Hither the pious natives flock, to bestow their charity on these holy men, and think it a kind of religious humanity, highly acceptable to their God, to confer their benefactions on his faithful servants.

From the prayers of the Faquirs, great blessings are expected, and many calamities thought to be averted, as they obtain the reputation of sainted martyrs, by torturing their bodies, and suffering a variety of punishments, by way of penance, during this earthly pilgrimage. Some pierce their flesh with spears, and drive daggers through their hands: others carry on their palms, for a length of time, burning vessels full of fire, which they shift from hand to hand: many walk, with bare feet on sharp iron spikes fixed in a kind of sandal: several of their order turn their faces over one shoulder, and keep them in that situation till they fix for ever, their heads looking backward: another sect clinch their fists very hard, till the nails of the fingers grow into the palms, and appear through the back of their hands, and numbers, who never speak, turn their eyes to the point of the nose, losing the power of looking in any other direction. These last pretend to see what they call the sacred fire. Strange as this austerity may seem, if accompanied with purity of intention, it must be considered by the unprejudiced, as less offensive to the Deity, than the indulgence of the passions: though man be not forbid to enjoy the good things of this life, yet an abuse of that enjoyment, which evinces his ingratitude to Heaven, is punished even here below, by wasting the ungenerous being to an untimely grave—but he who foregoes the pleasures of a fleeting period, through an expectation of permanent happiness, and suffers temporary torture in order to obtain endless bliss, with a mind all directed to that great Power who gave him existence, must, notwithstanding the ridicule of the world, meet with a more favourable sentence at his awful tribunal.

Not long before our departure from Belgram, we were honoured with a visit from the Nabob Aspa-doulah, accompanied by General Stibbert, his Aid-du-Camps, and other Officers of distinction, who met him on the way, in his usual style of grandeur, mounted with his Nobles, on an elephant richly caparisoned, and attended by his numerous train of Burkendaws, Chopdars, pages, &c. and a native band of music to enliven the procession, of which the annexed plate will give you a more perfect idea, than this description [see figure 3].

His entry through Belgram was announced by the beating of drums, firing of cannon, and other marks of military honour. After a repast at the General's, he retired to a large decorated tent erected for him, which covered almost an acre of ground; adjacent to his, others were pitched for his attendants.

The day after his arrival, our Commander in Chief issued his orders to prepare for a review. Early next morning, one regiment of Europeans, six of Seapoys, two companies of artillery, and one troop of cavalry, amounting in all to about seven thousand, were in perfect readiness on the wide plain. The Nabob on his elephant, in company with the General, passed the lines. Shortly after, the former descended from the back of the unwieldy animal, and mounted a beautiful Arabian horse, on which he received the salute of the Officers. Colonel Ironside ranged the troops in the following order: the cavalry were placed on the right and left wing; three regiments of Seapoys on each side next to them; and the European infantry in the centre. At first, they were all reviewed in one body, and afterwards formed different corps, observing the most exact discipline and regularity in their various evolutions, which gave much satisfaction to the General, Officers, and numerous spectators. Aspa-doulah, in particular, was exceeding pleased with the beauty and order of our tactics, and expressed his approbation in the terms of that lively kind of gratitude arising from a high sense of received pleasure. After the review, a breakfast was prepared for him, during which, the artillery continued to salute him with their cannon. His fare was served up by his own servants, as he could not touch any thing from the hands of a Christian, consistent with the duties of his religion: however, to shew his politeness, he sat at the same table, with our Officers of rank, and having remained a few days in the camp, returned to his own territories.

Figure 3. View of the Grand Nabob Aspahdoulah of Lechnough and his Retinue (Mahomet, Travels, Letter XXIII).

Letter XXIV

Dear Sir,

Having received orders to march to Calcutta, we quitted Belgram; and finding it unnecessary to keep a force any longer there, on account of the good understanding that prevails, at present, between the Court of Delhi and the East India Company, the chaumnies were entirely demolished, and every vestige of a house or building razed to the ground.

On our way, we passed by some small factories belonging to the Dutch, Danes, French, and others, that were once in the hands of the Portuguese, but being since reduced, have come into the possession of the English. Our brigade, at length, arrived at Fort William in the year 1778, and replaced the other, which marched to Denapore.

About fifteen miles from Fort William, on the opposite side of the river, is a Danish settlement, called Serampour [Serampore]. Its manufactures consist of cotton, baffety, calico, chintz, table cloths, and napkins.

The houses of the inhabitants are very neat, and on the river side is a small battery, with the Governor's castle in the centre, and the Danish flag flying a'top.

In Chinsura, a Dutch settlement, much the same kind of trade is conducted, as at Serampour.

A little farther on, is Chandernagore, or Frasdanga, the scene of many disputes between the French and English; the latter of whom are now the proprietors of it; on the west, it lies exposed to an enemy, though encompassed by a wall, and, in other situations, pretty well fortified. It drives a brisk trade, and carries on, to some extent, the manufacture of handkerchiefs and striped muslins.

Near Frasdanga, and in the same direction, is Gretti, then belonging to the French, under the government of Monsieur Chevalier, but now in possession of the English. The Governor's house, which takes its name from the place about it, was a superb mansion, rising in all the pride of architecture, over the margin of the Ganges, and decorated inside in a style of unrivalled elegance: part of the furniture was covered with a rich embroidered sattin, and the very purdoes of the windows were of scarlet quilted sattin. The avenue to this grand edifice was shaded on both sides, with rows of embowering trees; and the beauty, the fragrance of his gardens, which perfumed the wanton air, ravished the senses: his fish-ponds, cascades, and groves, heightened the imagery of the varied scene; and his expanding lawns were adorned with figures of snow-white marble, that almost started under the artist's hand, from the rude material into life. On the domain was an Opera-house for his amusement. At the outside entrance to the palace, stood the Governor's guard.

Fifty miles from Calcutta lies the town of Hugley, defended by a strong fortress, and surrounded by a deep ditch: it is a place of considerable traffic, particularly in the article of opium, which is brought chiefly from Patna. Notwithstanding the fatal effects of this plant, the irresistible avarice of the Dutch, induces them to raise it wherever they possess a spot of ground in India; but the Chinese, from its destructive qualities, forbid, under the penalty of death, the cultivation of it, and demolish any house, in which it is exposed for sale.

It is used by the people of every class, among the Hindoos and Mahometans: the lower order take it, when they enter on any arduous enterprise, to render them insensible of the danger; and the gentry, who are fond of every thing that tends to a gratification of the passions, consider it as a great luxury. Its effects, however, are various, according to the manner of preparing it. Opium in its original state, is the produce of a species of poppy, the root of which is about the thickness of a man's finger, full of a bitter juice that runs through the whole plant. The flower resembles a rose, and the stem which is commonly pliable, grows to the height of two cubits, and produces a kind of leaves (not unlike those of the lettuce) oblong, indented, curled, and of a sea-green colour. When it is full of sap, a slight incision is made on the outside, from which flow some drops of a milky nature. These drops soon congeal; and when moistened and kneaded with warm water and honey, become more consistent and viscous like pitch; after this process, the glutinous matter is made into small cakes fit for immediate use. The good kind is that, which is soft and yielding to the touch. Patna is allowed to send the best to market: it is there purchased at a cheap rate, though extremely dear in some parts of India. It is nearly opposite qualities, stupifying, at one time, and raising exhilarating ideas at another; it occasions drowsiness, and vigilance; and taken to an excess, brings on a madness that ceases only in death.

Letter XXV

Dear Sir,

As an instance of the wealth and consequence that aggrandize any situation, where trade is introduced, I shall give you some account of Surat, which lies in twenty-one degrees, thirty minutes, north latitude; and seventy-two degrees east longitude from the meridian of London.

About the middle of last century this place was only the resort of a few merchants, who by extending their commerce, invited numbers to settle among them; and thus, by the introduction of arts, population, and industry, Surat became in a few years, one of the most considerable towns in the world. It is defended by a wall and towers, and has a square castle with a tower at each angle on the S. W. part of it, which commands both the river, and the avenues to the town by land. It is said to contain above two hundred thousand inhabitants: while the Mogul government was in vigour, merchants of all religions and denominations were induced to take shelter under it; and such was the honesty of the traders, that bags of money ticketted and sealed, would circulate for years without being weighed. The Gentoos are very numerous here, particularly the tribe of the Banyans, who are the fairest dealers in the world, and remarkable for plain integrity, and an admirable command of temper, in the course of their transactions. It is impossible to rouse them into passion, and when others are subdued by that temporary frenzy of the mind, they wait with patience till it subsides, and by these means, enjoy a superior advantage over the rest of mankind.

The Governor of Surat keeps his seat of administration at the Durbar or Court, where all actions criminal and civil are brought before him, and summarily dispatched in the Eastern manner. The buildings are in the Gentoo and Morisque style; and the houses of the great are so contrived that their gate-ways are defensible against any sudden irruption of a few armed men. The private apartments are backwards for the greater security of the women, of whom the Moors, especially, are extremely jealous. They have always, at least, one room, in each dwelling, where a fountain is kept playing in the middle of it, by the murmurs of which they are lulled to sleep, and refreshed by the coolness it diffuses through the apartment. Their saloons, which they call diwans, entirely open on one side to their gardens, where fountains, cascades, meandering rills, and variegated flower beds, form the most delightful assemblage of rural beauty and prospect. In summer, they often go in parties, to country recesses, a little way out of town, in order to enjoy themselves in their frescades, by the side of the waters with which they are furnished. The English have a very pleasant garden here, for the use and recreation of the Gentlemen of the factory.

The streets of Surat are irregularly laid out; and the stories of the houses are carried up projecting over one another, in such a manner, that the uppermost apartments on each side, are so close, as to darken the streets below, without excluding a free circulation of air. As to provisions I cannot imagine that there is in the universe a better place. The great plenty of every article, which an unbounded influx throws into the market, renders all kinds of eatables extremely cheap: wild fowl and game can be had at an easy rate; and nothing can exceed their sallads and roots. Among the articles of luxury, which they have in common with other parts of the East, there are public hummums for bathing, cupping, rubbing and sweating, but the practice of champing, which is derived from the Chinese, appears to have been known to the ancients, from the following quotations.

Percurrit agili corpus arte tractatrix
Manumque doctam spargit omnibus membris.
[The female masseuse/shampooer, with her agile art, runs over his body and spreads her skilled hands over all his limbs.]

Seneca, at the end of his sixty-sixth letter, inveighs against it as a point of luxury introduced among the Romans, thus—An potius optem ut malacissandos articulos exoletis meis porrigam? ut muliercula, aut aliquis in mulierculam ex viro versus digitulos meos ducat? [Should I desire to be allowed to stretch out my limbs for my slaves to massage/shampoo: or to have a female masseuse/shampooer pull my finger-joints?] The person who undergoes this operation, lies, at full length, on a couch or sopha, on which the operator chafes or rubs his limbs, and cracks the joints of the wrist and fingers. All this, they pretend, not only supples the joints, but procures a brisker circulation to the fluids apt to stagnate, or loiter through the veins, from the heat of the climate, which is, perhaps, the best recommendation of such a practice.

Letter XXVI

Dear Sir,

At a small distance from Surat lies Bombay, an island so situate as to form one of the most commodious bays perhaps in the world; from which distinction it received the denomination of Bombay, by corruption from the Portuguese Buon bahia. The harbour is spacious enough to contain any number of ships; has excellent anchoring ground; and by its circular position, can afford them a land-locked shelter against any winds, to which the mouth of it is exposed. The castle is a regular quadrangle, well built of strong hard stone; and round the island there are several little out-forts and redoubts. The English Church at Bombay, is a neat, airy building, standing on the Green, a large space of ground, and pleasantly laid out in walks planted with trees, round which are mostly the houses of the English inhabitants. These consist only of ground-floors, after the Roman fashion, with a court-yard before and behind, offices, and out-houses. They are substantially built with stone and lime, and white-washed on the out-side, which has a decent appearance, but very offensive to the eyes from the glare of the sun. Few of them have glass windows to any apartment, the sashes being generally paned with a kind of transparent square-cut oyster-shells, transmitting sufficient light, and excluding, at the same time, the violence of its glare.

At some distance farther on the continent, there are fairs held, that last generally nine or ten days. Hither the Banyans resort, and such dealers as are sometimes disappointed by the Factors or Agents of the Company, (who bespeak their commodities) to expose their goods for sale on banks of earth raised for that purpose, under small sheds. The soil of this country is chiefly employed in cocoa-nut groves, palm-trees, &c.

As to the cocoa-nut tree itself, not all the minute descriptions I have heard of it, seem to me to come up to the reality of its wonderful properties and use. Nothing is so unpromising as the aspect of this tree; nor does any yield a produce more profitable, or more variously beneficial to mankind: it has some resemblance to the palm-tree; perhaps one of its species. The leaves of it serve for thatching; the husk of the fruit for making cordage, and even the largest cables for ships. The kernel of it is dried, and yields an oil much wanted for several uses, and forms a considerable branch of traffic under the name of copra. Arrack, a coarse sort of sugar, called jagree, and vinegar are also extracted from it, besides many other particulars too tedious to enumerate. The cultivation of it is extremely easy, by means of channels conveying water to the roots, and a manure laid round them, consisting of the small fry of fish, known by the name of buckshaw.

There are also here and there interspersed a few brab-trees, or rather wild palm trees; (the word brab being derived from Brabo, which in Portuguese signifies wild) that bear an insipid kind of fruit, about the size of a common pear, and produce from incisions at the top, the toddy or liquor drawn from them, of which the arrack that is made, is esteemed much better than that from the cocoa-nut tree. They are generally cultivated near the sea-side, as they thrive best in a sandy soil. It is on this tree that the toddy birds, so called from their attachment to it, build their exquisitely curious nests, wrought out of the thinnest reeds and filaments of branches, with inimitable mechanism. The birds themselves are about the bigness of a partridge, but of no consideration either for plumage, song, or the table.

The banian tree, which is a species of fig, grows here to an enormous height. Some of its branches shoot forth horizontally from the trunk; and from them proceed a number of less boughs, that fall in a perpendicular direction, downwards, taking root from other bodies, which, like pillars, serve to support the arms they sprung from. Thus, one tree multiplies into twenty or thirty bodies, and spreads over a great space of ground, sufficient to shelter, at least, five hundred persons. Neither is this, nor any other of the Indian trees, without leaves all the year. Under the branches of the banian, the Gentoos frequently place their images, and celebrate their festivals; and the Faquirs inflict on themselves, different kinds of punishment. Milton, in his Paradise Lost, gives a very natural description of it in the following terms:

The fig-tree, not that kind for fruit renown'd;
But such as at this day to Indians known
In Malabar, or Decan, spreads her arms,
Branching so broad and long, that in the ground
The bending twigs take root; and daughters grow
About the mother-tree, a pillar'd shade!
High over-arch'd, and echoing walks between.

Letter XXVII

Dear Sir,

As the practice of chewing betel is universal throughout India, the description of it may not prove unentertaining. It is a creeping plant cultivated in the same manner as the vine, with leaves full of large fibres like those of the citron, but longer and narrower at the extremity. It is mixed with the arek and chunam before it is used. The arek-nut is exactly in form and bigness like a nutmeg, only harder: it is marbled in the inside with white and reddish streaks, and wrapped up in the leaf. Chunam is nothing more than burnt lime made of the finest shells. To these three articles is often added for luxury, what they call cachoonda, a japan earth, which from perfumes and other mixtures, receives a high improvement. The taste of it is, at first, little better than that of common chalk, but soon turns to a flavor that dwells agreeably on the palate.

Another addition they use, termed catchoo, is a blackish, granulated, perfumed substance; and a great provocative, when taken alone, which is not a small consideration with the Asiatics in general.

So prevalent is the custom of chewing betel, that it is used by persons of every description; but it is better prepared for people of condition, who consider it a breach of politeness to take leave of their friends, without making presents of it. No one attempts to address his superior, unless his mouth is perfumed with it; and to neglect this ceremony even with an equal, would be deemed an unpardonable rudeness.

The dancing girls are eternally scented with it, as being a powerful incentive to love, and a composition that gives fragrance to the breath and lips. It is taken after meals, during a visit, and on the meeting and parting of friends or acquaintance; and most people here are confirmed in the opinion that it also strengthens the stomach, and preserves the teeth and gums. It is only used in smoking, with a mixture of tobacco and refined sugar, by the Nabobs and other great men, to whom this species of luxury is confined.

In several parts of the country, the soil and climate are very favourable to these latter productions. Tobacco of the finest quality, grows in rich moist grounds, in which it is generally planted, and brought by cultivation to great perfection. The sugar plantations employ thousands of the natives, who alone, inured to the excessive heat of vertical suns, are adequate to the fatigue of this laborious business. The cane commonly shoots up to the height of five or six feet, and is about half an inch in diameter: the stem or stock is divided by knots, above the space of a foot from each other: at the top, it puts forth a number of green leaves, from which springs a white flower. The canes, when ripe, are found quite full of a pithy juice, (of which the sugar is made) and being then carried to the mill in bundles, are cut up into small pieces, and thrown into a large vessel much in the form of a mortar, in which they are ground by wooden rollers plated with steel, and turned either by the help of oxen, or manual labour; during this process, a liquor issues from them, which is conveyed through a pipe in the vessel above described into another in the sugar-house, and thence passes into a copper, that is heated by a slow fire, so as to make it simmer; it is then mixed with ashes and quick lime, in order to separate the unctuous parts, which float upon the surface in a thick scum, that is constantly taken off with the skimmer. After this, it passes through a second, third, fourth, and fifth boiler, which last brings it to the consistence of a thick syrup. In the sixth boiler, it is mixed with a certain quantity of milk, lime-water and allum, and receives its full coction, which reduces it to almost one-third of its first quantity. It is finally put into small baskets, where it remains some time to cool, and, afterwards, becomes fit for immediate use.

This is the manner of preparing the East Indian loaf sugar, so much esteemed in London, and confessedly allowed to be the best made in any part of the world.


Dear Sir,

The practice of gambling so dangerous in its effects to many of its votaries, is pursued in India with much eagerness, and even sanctioned by the laws of the country. It is, however, regulated under certain restrictions, and permitted only for a limitted time. During the term, which in the Indian dialect, is called dewalli, and continues but a fortnight, the gaming table is frequented by persons of every description. Those who conduct this amusement, are under a heavy license, and give ample security for their observance of peace and good order. On such occasions, they generally keep police guards at their houses, to prevent disputes among the adventurers. Before they enter on this business, every manager, or keeper of a gambling house, is supplied with a large sum of money, for the accommodation of the gamesters, to whom he lends it out, on very advantageous conditions. The winner pays him in proportion to his gain, and the loser secures him in the principal borrowed, with interest. Thus, by a rapid increase of growing profits, he accumulates, in a little time, vast riches.

Notwithstanding the passions of men, and the quick circulation of cash, amid such bustling scenes, it seldom happens that base coin is ever found among the gains of the fortunate. The following is the only instance, within my recollection, of its being passed in the country.

A Seapoy, possessed of fifty rupees, his sole treasure, was going from Calcutta to Patna; on the way, he met a man of genteel appearance, to whom, in the course of a free conversation, he unbosomed himself, and discovered the bulk of his fortune. His fellow traveller, who proved to be a coiner, observed, that as his (the Seapoy's) rupees were the currency of Calcutta, it would be his interest to change them for those of Patna, whither he was going, as he would benefit considerably by the exchange; and that he could oblige him with the coin of that city. The poor soldier, thankfully accepting the offer, counted down his fifty good pieces of silver, for fifty glittering base ones of the sharper, and parting him with a mutual shake of the hands, proceeded on his journey. Not until his arrival at Muxadabad, where he was about purchasing some necessary, did he discover the shining specimens of his friend's ingenuity, and making some very dismal, though pertinent reflections on the occasion, with a countenance, on which you could read in legible characters, A BLANK he exclaims—I was a stranger, and he humanely took me in.

After perambulating every street and alley of the large town of Muxadabad, and pervading every corner of its precincts, he, at length, found his quondam companion at a gaming table, and in a paroxysm of gratitude not to be expressed by my unequal pen, seized him by the collar, bestowing on him, at the same time, such violent caresses of rude friendship, as greatly disfigured his person and apparel. When the first transports were over, he requested his money, which after some pressing solicitations, he obtained, and went his way, but not without leaving his worthy acquaintance some visible signs and tokens of lasting remembrance.

Though few the individuals in India, who impose on the unwary by the arts of swindling and fraud, the jugglers, or slight-of-hand men, are numerous, and greatly excel in their tricks and deceptions, any thing of the kind exhibited in Europe.

I have seen one of this astonishing class of men, place in the centre of a bazar, a little shrub or branch of a tree, with only a few leaves on it, over which he has thrown a cloth, and after playing for about half an hour, on a baslee, a sort of instrument consisting of a tube made of the shell of a pumbkin, and connected with two small reeds, through which the sounds pass from the tube applied to the mouth, he has desired some person in the crowd to take off the cloth, and the same branch, to the surprise of every beholder, appeared laden with fruit and blossoms. It would be endless to describe their other deceptions, which are equally unaccountable as wonderful. Their incantation of snakes, in particular, has been attributed by many of your countrymen, to magic and the power of the devil. Their hooded snakes, as they call them, are brought from place to place in close baskets, which are uncovered at the time of exhibition; and these reptiles, when the jugglers begin to play on their instruments, raise up their heads and dance while this strange music continues; but if it should stop, they also cease from dancing, and instantly hiss at each other. The dreadful infection raging in the human blood from the sting of a snake, is effectually cured by a juggler, who, if sent for in time, by playing on his baslee, as usual, calls forth the venomous reptile from its hole, and compels it to bite the person already affected, till its poison is exhausted, after which, it expires, and the patient recovers. Some of these men will sometimes present themselves to public view with two snakes writhing round the neck, without receiving the least injury. There is another species of the serpent, which is very large and long, with a head as big as an infant's, and a beautiful face resembling the human: it has been remarked by several, that this kind is supposed to be the same as that which tempted our first mamma, Eve.

Letter XXIX

Dear Sir,

Of all the animals in the East or elsewhere, none can equal the elephant in magnitude. To excite your wonder, and, at the same time, afford you some entertainment, I shall here give you a particular description of this quadruped, which is (nem. con.) the largest in the universe. It is from twelve to fifteen feet high, and seven broad: its skin about the belly is so tough, that a sword cannot penetrate it: the eyes of it are exceeding small, the ears large, the body round and full, and the back rises to an arch: it is of a darkish colour and very much seamed: on each side of its jaws, within the mouth are four teeth or grinders; and two teeth which project outwards: in the male, they are stronger and thicker; in the female, they are sharper and smaller: both male and female use one, which is sharp as a defensive weapon, and the other, which is blunted to grub up trees and plants for food. The teeth of the male sometimes grow to the length of ten feet, and have been known to weigh three hundred pounds each; the teeth of the female, though less, are the most valuable ivory. They naturally shed their teeth once in ten years, and bury them carefully in the earth, to prevent, as it is imagined, their being found by man. The elephant's tongue is small, but broad; the feet round and ample, and the legs have joints, which are flexible: the forehead is large and rising; the tail resembles that of a hog; and the blood of this creature is colder than that of any other; but the organ which most peculiarly distinguishes it, is the trunk. This singular member is crooked, grisly, and plaint, about seven feet in length, three in circumference, and gradually diminishing to the extremity. At the root, near the nose, are two passages, the one into the head, the other to the mouth; through the first, it breathes; and by the latter, it receives its provisions, the trunk serving the purposes of a hand to feed it, and a weapon to defend it. So strong is this powerful animal, that it can lift a prodigious weight; and so delicate in the sensation of feeling, that it can take the smallest piece of coin from the ground. It delights much in water, and will swim a great way.

They are taken by stratagem in different parts of India, as they descend from the mountains, where they feed, to the lakes or rivers, to water. The hotteewallies, or people employed to take them, dig deep trenches in their direction, which they conceal with reeds covered over with earth and grass; the elephants, on their way to the watering places, unacquainted with the danger before them, fall into the pit contrived by these artful men who often risque their lives in the execution of such hazardous projects. The old animals, by some means, extricate themselves, and escape to the woods, but the young ones, who thus become an easy prey to their pursuers, are suffered to remain in this situation, for some days without food, till they are almost spent, and unable to make any resistance: an easy descent is then opened into the pits or trenches, and collars thrown round their necks, after which they are mounted, and following a tame elephant as their leader, conducted with great facility to the next town or village. When a considerable number of them, is collected in this manner, they are regularly trained by the hotteewallies, for the use of the Nabobs and other great men; and when rendered by age unfit for their amusements, they serve to carry the equipage of camps and other burdens. Under the management of their tutors, they are taught to do any thing, and, in a short time, become as tractable as the horses of the most famous riders in Europe.

It is related of one of them, that when the child of its keeper, lay some time in a cradle, crying for want of nourishment, in the absence of the parents, this huge but generous animal took it up gently, gave it suck, and afterwards laid it down in the cradle with the utmost solicitude. This tenderness, which is not unlike gratitude in our species, proceeded from the kind treatment of its keeper.

An elephant is commonly sold by measurement; and some of those animals, which are young and well trained, are purchased at the rate of 150 rupees per cubit: they are measured from the head to the tail, which is about seven cubits long, and at this calculation will amount to above one hundred pounds sterling each.

Next to the elephant in bulk and figure, is the rhinoceros, called by the modern Indians, abadu; it is not unlike the wild boar, but much larger, having thicker feet, and a more unwieldy body. It is covered with large hard scales of a blackish colour, which are divided into small squares, raised a little above the skin, and nearly resembling those of the crocodile. Its head, which is large, is wrapped up behind in a kind of capuchin; its mouth is little; but its snout extends to a great length, and is armed with a long thick horn, which makes him terrible to other animals, its tongue is as rough as a file, and a sort of wings like those of the bat, cover the belly.

In the Eastern territories, there is no beast more useful than the camel, either for burden or dispatch: some of them will carry a thousand weight, and travel, at least, seven or eight miles an hour: they have no teeth, except in the lower jaw, and one bunch on the back: none of the brute creation, of such a bulk, less voracious than this creature. They lie down on their bellies to receive their loads, and are always governed by the voice of the driver, who could never mend their pace, by beating them. They are naturally fearful, and extremely patient under fatigue.

Letter XXX

Dear Sir,

In the year of 1779, we marched from Fort William to Barahampore, and in some time after our arrival, the strong fortress of Ganlin [Gwalior] was taken by our troops; the particular account of which, is as follows:

The Morattoes, whose depredations in every quarter, had given a general alarm, were making constant sallies from the different posts they fortified in many parts of the country. Their strongest hold, however, was the fort of Ganlin, in which they centred all their hopes of security, as it was always considered to be impregnable. It stands on a rock about two coss in length, and in many places above four hundred feet high, in some three hundred, but in no situation less than one hundred and fifty feet in height. The table is entirely surrounded by a rampart of stone, rising immediately from the edge of the rock, which in most parts, is rendered perpendicular. Within the rampart are many fine buildings, large tanks, innumerable wells, and cultivated land.

The only access to the fort, is by a flight of steps, defended by the rock on the one side, and a large stone wall on the other, flanked with bastions; and on the summit, is a passage through seven gate-ways. The craggy rock frightfully lofty, into which are hewn many caves, at whose entrances are gigantic figures of men and animals; the rampart seeming almost a continuation of this awful precipice; and the rising edifices, whose solemn domes, battlements, and balconies, are suspended, as it were, over the dreadful steep, forming all together, the most sublime view I ever beheld, strike the imagination with a kind of horrible astonishment far beyond simple admiration. A tribe of Morattoes, who lived by robbery, about this place, informed the Rana, that they ascended the fort in the night, and found the Chokeedars asleep; and offered, if encouraged by a sufficiently pecuniary recompense, to lead his troops to the very spot from whence they climbed up, promising also their assistance, by fixing ladders to help them to mount; but the Rana, through want of confidence in his troops, declined the enterprise.

Captain Popham, one of the English Officers, having procured some intelligence of the proposal made to the Rana, requested of him to send those men to him: they accordingly came, through the hope of reward, and went to the appointed place, with some of his own spies, who were particularly directed to watch their actions. The accounts brought back were so satisfactory, that he made instant preparations for a surprise, which he conducted with secrecy and dispatch.

In a month's time, during which he obtained some knowledge of this important situation, he was in perfect readiness for the intended attack, and on the third of August, about eleven o'clock, at night, Captain William Bruce, at the head of his British grenadiers, was ordered to march in front, attended by Lieut. Cameron, engineer, with his apparatus for scaling; Captain Popham, with two battalions, followed soon after, to support the assailants, and direct the entire expedition. Captain McClary was ordered with his battalion to march round towards the town, and intercept Ambassee [Ambaji Inglia], a Morattoe Chief, who had cantoned in it with four hundred horse; and Captain Clode was left in charge of the camp, at Raypore [Raipur], near four coss from Ganlin. In this disposition, the party advanced by private roads, and arrived at the foot of the rock, an hour before day-break. Captain Bruce's people were provided with sacks of coarse cloth, stuffed with cotton, to prevent the noise of their feet in mounting, and just as they arrived, the guards of the fort were going their rounds, (as is the custom with the Chokeedars,) their lights were seen, and the men distinctly heard. This seemed to portend the ruin of the plan, but firmness and resolution conquered every apprehension of danger. The spies observing the utmost silence, mounted the rock, and ascended the wall, from whence they brought intelligence that was all quiet: Lieut. Cameron then fixed the wooden ladders by which he mounted, and gave those of rope to the spies, who fastened them by a noose round the battlements of the wall.

Every thing in readiness, Capt. Bruce ascended with twelve men, and when he had got within the fort, he ordered them to sit down as closely as possible under the wall, till the others would come up. Near the place where they concealed themselves, three Chokeedars lay asleep, and three Seapoys rashly fired, which had almost defeated the success of the enterprize, and sacrificed the lives of the little party, which was soon surrounded by alarmed numbers of the garrison. Before they had recovered from their astonishment, of seeing our gallant soldiers within their walls, thirty Seapoys had ascended, and the rest followed very fast: a few shot and rockets were exchanged, and their principal Officer being wounded, the enemy dismayed and confounded at the boldness of the undertaking, took shelter in the inner buildings of the fort, from which they escaped in the utmost confusion.

Their Officers collected within one house, with their women, and hung out a white flag: a detachment of the English was sent to receive their arms, and give them quarters.

Thus fell, in less than two hours, the great and, as it was deemed, impregnable fortress of Ganlin, without the loss of a man; and twenty only were wounded. The place where the assault was made, from the foot of the rock to the wall is above two hundred feet high; to behold it even, must astonish you, beyond description, and you would have considered the execution of such a project all together impracticable, and not within the compass of human courage or abilities.

The enemy hitherto regarding any intention of disturbing them, as the greatest presumption, attributed our success to the divine interposition: such an attempt was indeed above common conception, and it had never succeeded, but for the terror, with which the boldness of the enterprise, had struck the unwary dupes of heedless security. The greatness of the undertaking, reflects the highest honour on the Officers and men employed in it; and proves the general opinion that there is no difficulty so arduous which may not be subdued, by the resolution and perseverance of a British soldier.

The Morattoe parties in this country, having heard with astonishment of the surrender of Ganlin, began to dread, and venerate the very names of the conquerors; and shortly after it was surprised, they evacuated eight forts, which they had formerly taken from the Raja of Ghoad [Gohad]. From one of the apartments of the Imperial palace, built by Akbar, within the fort, I looked down, and beheld, as it were from the clouds, the town, four hundred feet below me: such an awful scene forms a subject for the pencil of the most sublime artist.

About this time, Col. William A. Baillie, who was marching with a detachment of two hundred Europeans, and a battalion and half of Seapoys, from one of the provinces to join the main army, which was going to the relief of Arcot, was attacked by Hyder's son, with a large force, and repulsed him with slaughter. The Colonel as usual, distinguished himself on this occasion with great firmness and intrepidity.

Letter XXXI

Dear Sir,

In the year of 1781, Captain Baker, after his appointment to the command of the Seapoys' battalion, in the second brigade, with Lieutenants Simpson and Williamson, two companies of Europeans, and two companies of Seapoys, marched from Barahampore, in order to join the second brigade in Caunpore [Cawnpur]: on his promotion, he appointed me market-master to supply the bazar. We halted at Denapore to refresh the party, and draw their pay; and as they proceeded on their march, I was dispatched, with an escort of two Seapoys to Gooldengunge [Golding's Ganj], which was considered the cheapest market, to purchase corn for the army, and had in my possession for that purpose, four hundred goolmores, with bills on the Commissary there, amounting in all to fifteen hundred pounds sterl. As we journeyed onwards, one of the Seapoys happened to trample some melons in passing through a plantation near the river side, and on being observed by the proprietor, who desired him to be more cautious in his career, he returned him some impertinent answer, which roused the peasant's resentment, and discord expanding her gloomy wings, a battle ensued; the neighbouring cottagers thus alarmed, flocked to their friend's assistance, and cruelly stabbed his adversary, who fell a breathless corpse beneath their murderous weapons. The other Seapoy made off through the country, but I was dismounted from my horse, which I was obliged to leave behind, and having plunged into the Ganges, on whose verge I stood trembling for my fate, with the utmost difficulty I gained the opposite shore, fainting under the fatigue of my exertions in crossing the wide river, with my clothes on, and such a weight of gold about me. A few of the peasantry, who beheld me thus struggling for life, ran to my assistance, and after supporting me to the next cottage, kindly ministered what relief was in their power. As the night approached, I sunk to rest, and forgot the dangers of my late journey in the sweet oblivion of sleep. Next morning, finding myself tolerably restored, I made my acknowledgements to these humane people, whose foot-steps, an all-ruling Providence must, in that crisis, have directed, to save me from impending dissolution; and having gone forthwith to the Fouzdar of Gooldengunge, and given him up my money and bills, I related the story of my adventures: he seemed much affected at the recital, and detained me till the supplies for the use of the troops were purchased; a part was sent by water to Caunpore; and the rest by land, consisting of several loads of corn drawn by bullocks, with which I travelled, and joined the army at Buxar. From the early intelligence of the Seapoy, who escaped before me, the greatest surprize, and even doubt of the reality of my existence at my arrival, was almost graven on every countenance, as the prevailing opinion unanimously agreed on by all parties, was, that I had fallen a sacrifice with the other Seapoy to the rage and resentment of the country people.

From Buxar we marched for Caunpore, where we arrived in the latter end of February. On the first of March, Capt. Baker took the command of the battalion of Seapoys in Major Roberts' regiment, to which he had been recently promoted, and by his recommendation, I was appointed Jemidar in the same battalion.

Having received an account of the insurrections of the Morattoes in the vicinage of Caulpee [Kalpi], on the banks of the river Jemina, the entire brigade, by order of Colonel Morgan, proceeded to that town, and a part of the main army in different detachments, scoured the neighbouring country, in order to disperse those disturbers of the public tranquility, who, after some slight skirmishes, entirely fled, overawed by the terror of our arms.

We remained a few weeks in Caulpee, and then returned to Caunpore, where our stay was of no long continuance.

About this time Governor Hastings having required of Cheyt-sing his stipulated subsidies, towards defraying the expences of the late war with Hyder Ally; and finding him either unwilling or unable to pay them, sent a guard consisting of two companies of Seapoys to arrest him: the alarming news of his being made a prisoner, soon spread through the country, and roused the indignation of his troops, who were seen in a large body, crossing the river from Ramnagur to the palace, in which he was confined. The two companies of our Seapoys, who formed the guard in an inclosed square outside the palace, were mostly massacred by this powerful force which rushed onward, like an irresistible torrent, that sweeps all away before it.

Ramjaum [Ramjiwan], one of the Raja's Generals, after killing a serjeant of the Seapoys, who opposed his entrance, broke into the royal mansion, and made way for the soldiery, who escorted their Prince through a garden which led to the river. As the banks were high above the surface, they let him down by turbans tied together, into a boat that conveyed him to the other side, whence he escaped under the friendly shade of night, to Lutteefgur [Latifgarh], one of his strongest fortresses, with a chosen band of men to protect him.

Letter XXXII

Dear Sir,

The day following, a large party of the Raja's, with Ramjaum at their head, went in pursuit of Governor Hastings, who proceeded to Chunargar; and having fought him in vain, they returned to Ramnagur, where they attacked a strong body of the English under the command of Capt. Mayaffre, of the artillery, who was hemmed in on every side by the narrow streets and winding alleys of the town, with which he was unacquainted. Being thus exposed to the fire of the enemy from all quarters, and particularly to that of a covered party that greatly annoyed him, he fell in the scene of battle, with upwards of one hundred and fifty of his men, among whom were Captain Doxat, and Lieutenants Stalker, Symes, and Scott, besides eighty wounded. After many brave struggles, Captain Blair, at last, effected a regular and steady retreat, which gained him much honour. He prevented the eager pursuit of the enemy, who followed him till he came within a few miles of Chunar, from having any bad effect.

This success gave fresh ardour to the Raja's friends, and plunged Governor Hastings into new difficulties.

Ramjaum having put Ramnagur into a state of defence, conducted his principal troops to a fort called Pateetah [Patita], to which a detachment under the command of Major Popham was directed, composed of what men could be spared from the garrison of Chunar. In mean time Captain Blair was dispatched with his battalion and two companies of grenadiers to surprise the fort; and Lieutenant Polhill, who just arrived from Allahabad, with six companies of Seapoys from the Nabob Aspah-doulah's life guards, was ordered to encamp on the opposite shore, in order to keep the communication at that side open. In two days after his arrival, this spirited Officer defeated a considerable body of the enemy at a small fort called Seekur [Sacrut], where he found a vast quantity of grain, which proved an acceptable prize, as it was much wanted.

Major Popham and Captain Blair having arrived within about a mile of Pateetah, nearly at the same time found a party of the enemy in seeming readiness to oppose them. They fought on both sides, with great ardor and intrepidity, till victory perplexed with doubt, waited the arrival of Lieutenants Fallow [Fallon] and Berrille [Birrell], whose gallant conduct with the united bravery of their countrymen, preponderating in the scale of her unbiassed judgment, induced the Goddess to bestow on them, her unfading laurels, as the reward of their exertions. After a dreadful carnage of killed and wounded on each part, the conquered fled for refuge to their fort, and the victors advanced to Chunar to recruit their losses. At the commencement of these commotions, Governor Hastings dispatched a courier to Colonel Morgan, at Caunpore, with instructions directing him to send an immediate reinforcement to Chunar: three regiments were accordingly sent with the utmost expedition; two of which were under the command of Majors Crabb and Crawford [Crawfurd] with one company of artillery, and two of European infantry; and the other under Major Roberts, which marched by the route of Lecknow. Early on the tenth of September, Majors Crabb and Crawford, at the head of their respective corps, appeared within view of Chunar on the opposite shore: the following day, the Nabob Aspa-doulah arrived, and encamped at the same side of the river; and shortly after Major Roberts came from Lecknow, with his troops. The English crossed the river, and joined Major Popham, who had now the command of four complete regiments, one battalion of Colonel Blair, another of the Nabob's life guards, two companies of Europeans, one of artillery, and one of French rangers. From this main body, Major Crabb, with one detachment, proceeded against Lutteefgur, Major Crawford with another, crossed the mountains to Seckroot and Lora; and two companies under the direction of Captain Baker, and Lieutenant Simpson, advanced towards Pateetah with a twelve pounder, which they played on the north side of the fort, for, at least, an hour, with good effect, till an halcarah, who just arrived, informed them that there was large tank on the eastern situation with a great heap of earth thrown up about it, which might answer the purpose of a temporary battery. When the tank was discovered, and found adequate to the description given of it, an additional supply of cannon and ammunition was directly sent for. We now began the siege with the most lively ardor, and continued it for three days without intermission: on the fourth morning, at three o'clock, Captain Baker and Gardner kept up a brisk cannonading, and threw the enemy into the utmost confusion, amidst which, Captain Lane, Lieutenants Simpson and Williams, with whom I adventured and three companies of determined Seapoy grenadiers, stormed the fort and rushed on the disordered enemy with manly resolution. After some opposition, they evacuated their strong hold, with Ramjaum at their head, and made off towards Lutteefgur, leaving their military equipage, elephants, camels, bullocks, &c. behind them.

Captain Baker distinguished himself in this action, as in many others, by the greatest exertions, and displayed the courage of the active soldier united with the experience of the hoary veteran.

Whilst memory dwells on virtues only thine,
Fame o'er thy relics breathes a strain divine.

Major Crabb having met Ramjaum on his way to Lutteefgur, gave him battle, and obliged him with his vanquished forces to fly for shelter to Lora, and from thence to Bidgegur [Bijigarh], whither Cheyt-sing had escaped. The Raja, however, not finding himself safe in Bidgegur, fled for refuge to the mountains among the Morattoes, taking with him what diamonds and other valuable effects he could possibly convey on his camels.


Dear Sir,

Captain Baker with the detachment under his command, marched to Ramnagur, where he remained till further orders; and Major Popham advanced with his troops, in pursuit of the enemy, to Bidgegur, which lies about fifty miles to the south east of Chunar: the fort is erected on the summit of a lofty rock, and rises to the great height of seven hundred feet above the surface of the country. It was considered next to Ganlin, among the strongest in India, being deemed, like that fortress, impregnable. The Raja, however, not judging the strength of Bidgegur a sufficient security against the conqueror of Ganlin, abandoned it, leaving behind him a part of those treasures, which were the cause of his misfortunes; and resigning that honour in the persons of his women, which he had so highly estimated, himself a wretched fugitive flying for protection to the uncertain asylum of those who were only in a state of precarious security.

The Ranee, his mother, besides his women, and such of the descendants of Bulevant-sing [Balwant Singh], as still adhered to him, continued in the fort, with a certain military force, as guardians of the remainder of his treasure, which, in diamonds and specie amounted to a very considerable value.

Major Popham, who behaved with great spirit and firmness, spent an entire month in subduing the utmost difficulties, and, at length, as he was on the point of springing a mine, the Ranee, who seemed to have the sole direction of affairs after the departure of her son, surrendered the fort by capitulation, in the terms of which, she was to be allowed fifteen per cent. on all the effects given up by her, and to have her choice of residing unmolested, either with her son, or elsewhere in the country. In the one case, she was to be escorted by a proper guard to the frontiers; in the other to meet with the greatest protection.

A principal part of the property taken at Bidgegur, became a prize to the captors, as a reward for their services. A letter written by the Governor to Major Popham, during the siege, was understood as giving a sanction to such a distribution of the spoil. The Officers acted with so much expedition in the business, that their dividend, with that of the privates, was apportioned in two days after the place was taken, and the residue went to the Company. Scenes of joy and conviviality now succeeded the toils of war; and the private soldier, as well as the Officer, forgot his dangers in the indulgence of his pleasures.

Such was the issue of the war with the unhappy Raja Cheyt-sing, whose humility and sufferings cannot be better described than in his own words; thus, expressing himself in a letter to the Governor, when he was arrested by his order, he says,

Pity me, I pray you, in remembrance of the services done by my father, and in consideration of my youth and inexperience: whatever may be your pleasure, do it with your own hands—and as I am your slave, what occasion can there be for a guard?—It depends on you alone to deprive me, or not, of the country of my ancestors—what necessity is there to deal in this way with me, who am ready to devote my life and property to your service.

—Many other letters followed this, and all were equally pathetic.

His manifesto, addressed to the native Princes, abounds with many sublime sentiments, free from that sounding phraseology too frequently used in India; and expressive of the most lively sensibility for the fate of a country, which he thus finely contrasts with the other territories surrounding it.

In vindication of his government, he says,

Look to my country; look to others—Do not the different pictures they present to you, mark the limits of them more, than the boundaries which nature itself has drawn out. My fields are cultivated; my villages full of inhabitants; my territory a garden; and my subjects happy. From the security I have given to property, my capital is the resort of the first traders of India; and the treasures of the Morattoes, the Jairs [Jains], and the Saiks [Sikhs], are deposited here, as well as those brought hither from the remotest borders of the eastern world. Hither the widow and the orphan convey their property, without dread from the violence of rapacity, or the gripe of avarice. The way-worn traveller, within the bourne of my country, lays down his burden unmolested, and sleeps in security.

Look to other provinces, there famine and misery stalk hand in hand, through neglected plains and deserted villages: there you meet with aged men drooping under the weight of years, and unable to transport themselves from the grasp of the prowling ruffian, watching to waylay their helplessness.

Here every passing stranger has been used with kindness, his hardships alleviated, and even his weary Cooleys have had their loads taken off their shoulders, and carried for them, through the humanity of my peasantry, from village to village.

To men of condition, who have travelled here, I have sent my Officers to enquire their wants, and supplied them with provisions and carriages at my own expence: their interior testimony will evince the truth of these assertions, and enable them to form a discriminative comparison between mine and the neighbouring districts.

Such was the happy situation of the Prince, and the philanthropy of the man, who shortly after became the sport of fortune, amidst the vicissitudes of life, and the trials of adversity.

Letter XXXIV

Dear Sir,

This commotion had scarcely subsided, when a fresh disturbance arose at Gochipour [Ghazipur], a place famous for distilling rose water, between the natives and the Fouzdar of that quarter, who enjoyed the same post which he held under Raja Cheyt-sing. As he availed himself of a general pardon granted by the Governor, he was permitted to continue in his employment. The people dissatisfied with the fate of their late Raja, could, by no means, be reconciled to the sovereignty of the English; and when the Fouzdar, consistent with his duty, attempted to collect the customary revenues, he was every where opposed, and with the greatest difficulty escaped the fury of the natives.

On the first rise of the male-contents, he wrote to the Governor for a reinforcement of troops to assist his own, which were quite insufficient to quell the insurrection. Captain Baker was therefore sent to his relief from Ramnagur, with his battalion. The day after our arrival at Gochipour, we marched onward to a little village called Bellua, where the motley crew were assembled within a small mud fort, seemingly determined to maintain an obstinate defence.

After withstanding the fire of our musquetry with a degree of courage not to be expected in an undisciplined rabble, on the approach of our cannon, some fled, were pursued and taken, and the rest, who were still very numerous, sent Deputies to the Captain, requesting a cessation of hostilities, which he granted on receiving the most solemn assurances, that they would peaceably return to their respective employments, and disturb, no more, the public tranquility.

One of the captives, before he obtained his liberty, having informed us that there were some cattle belonging to Ramjaum in a neighbouring plain, to which he offered to direct us, I was ordered to accompany him with an escort of Seapoys to the very place he described, where I found two elephants, two camels, and twelve Arabian horses, under the care of a few peasants, who made off on the appearance of our arms. I seized the cattle as the property of an enemy, and drove them to Gochipour, where the party waited my return.

Captain Baker reserving only one horse for his own use, generously divided the spoil among the soldiers as the well earned meed of their military labours.

After a month's stay here, we were relieved by Captain Lane, and marched hence to Jouanpour [Jaunpur], which has little to recommend it but a good fort and a few tolerable buildings: it is however equally remarkable, as our last cantonments, for its rose water and rose oil, which are peculiarly esteemed throughout Asia for their odoriferous excellence.

We were again involved in new broils, and obliged to penetrate farther into the country, in order to disperse the unruly natives who assembled in a hostile manner within a fort, which they put into some state of defence. They were armed with bows and arrows, and long barreled guns of their own construction, generally known by the name of match-locks. They held out so obstinately, that they kept possession of the fort for nine or ten days, and then escaped under the favouring gloom of night, leaving a number of their dead behind them.

After this commotion, the country became quiet, and no future disturbances were heard of, at least, in this quarter.

The refractory were awed into submission by the terror of our arms; yet humanity must lament the loss of those whom wasting war had suddenly swept away.

Alas! destructive war, with ruthless hand,
Unbinds each fond connection, tender tie,
And tears from friendship's bosom all that's dear,
Spreading dire carnage thro' the peopled globe;
Whilst fearless innocence, and trembling guilt,
In one wide waste, are suddenly involv'd.
War wake's the lover's, friend's and orphan's sigh,
And on empurpled wings bears death along,
With haggard terror, and with wild dismay,
And desolation in the savage train:
From slow-consuming time, his lazy scythe,
With ruffian violence is torn away,
To sweep, at once, whole Empires to the grave.

Near Jouanpour is a spacious chapel much frequented by the Mahometans, under which is a subterraneous cavern extending a considerable length of way. It is a fort or arsenal, and serves as an asylum for the natives in time of war, as the entrance to it, is only known to themselves. When peace was restored to this distracted country, we returned to Chunargur.

Letter XXXV

Dear Sir,

A few months after our arrival at Chunargur, Captain Baker disclosed his intentions of going to Europe: having a desire of seeing that part of the world, and convinced that I should suffer much uneasiness of mind, in the absence of my best friend, I resigned my commission of Subidar, in order to accompany him. We took boat at Chunargur, and proceeded to Calcutta, by the way of Dacca, sailing along the Ganges a distance of three hundred miles. Our passage was very agreeable, as the season was fine, and the farmers were just returning from the fields with the fruits of the harvest. It was not uncommon to see two thousand bullocks carrying corn, the property of one yeoman, to the granaries. There are many fine seats on each side of the river, with a continued variety of beautiful improvements, striking landscapes, and sublime scenes of rural imagery, which, at once astonish and delight the enraptured view.

Having completed the most pleasant voyage imaginable, we, at length, arrived at Dacca, one of the most extensive cities in the province of Bengal, which lies in twenty-four degrees north latitude, on an eastern branch of the Ganges. It is near five miles in length, but very narrow, and winding with the river.

Dacca is considered the first manufactory in India, and produces the richest embroideries in gold, silver, and silk. It also receives considerable advantages from its cottons, of which the finest striped and worked muslins, callicoes, and dimities, are made, much superior to those finished in other parts of the country. The best kind manufactured for the immediate use of the Great Mogul, and his Zannanahs, are of exquisite workmanship, and greater value than any permitted to be sold either to the natives or foreigners.

The filligrane, in particular, is admirable, the workmanship being more costly than the metal itself. It is not perforated, as with us, but cut in shreds, and joined with such inimitable art, that the nicest eye cannot perceive the juncture. The embroidery and needle-work, for elegance, surpass all description, and greatly exceed any thing of the kind done in Europe: but it is remarkable that there are no female embroiderers or sempstresses here; the men do all the work in these branches, and their patience is astonishing, as their slowness is singular. Provisions of all sorts are exceeding cheap and plentiful in Dacca: the fertility of its soil, and the advantages of its situation have, long since, made it the centre of an extensive commerce; it has still the remains of a very strong fortress, in which, a few years back, was planted a cannon of such extraordinary weight and dimensions, that it fell into the river, with the entire bank on which it rested; the length of the tube was fourteen feet, ten and a half inches, and the diameter of the bore one foot, three and one eighth inches: it contained two hundred and thirty-four thousand four hundred and thirteen cubic inches of wrought iron, weighed sixty-four thousand four hundred and eighteen pounds avoirdupoise, and carried a shot of four hundred and sixty-five pounds weight.

Here is also the residence of a grand Nabob, who, at his accession to the throne, conformable to an old custom, something similar to that of the Doge of Venice on the Adriatic, enjoys a day's pleasure on the river, in one of the most curious barges in the world, called a samsundar. It is sheathed with silver, and in the centre is a grand eminence of the same, on which his crown is placed on the day of coronation: nearer the stern is a brilliant seat encompassed with silver rails, and covered with a rich canopy embroidered with gold, under which he reclines in easy majesty. This boat and another of considerable value, that conveys his attendants, are estimated at a lack of rupees. He is accompanied by a number of the most distinguished personages, and there are no bounds to the lavish waste of money expended on this occasion, in order to aggrandize the pomp of this ancient ceremony. Travellers of every description, who pass this way, are led by a prevailing curiosity to see these elegant boats.

Letter XXXVI

Dear Sir,

Before we left Dacca, the celebration of the festival of two supposed saints, whom the Mahometans call Hassan, Hussen, was commenced on the first day of the new moon, and continued, with great solemnity, for ten days. The first day, several parties forming in different quarters of the town, assembled together in one spacious square appointed for the general meeting, where they raised an extensive canopy on eight poles, in the centre of which were three others composed of finer materials of various colours, and under the smallest canopy was a silver salver filled with clay, to represent the remains of these saints. The Mahometans, during this ceremony, cease from the pursuits of business, and spend the time in repeating their prayers, singing canticles, and other pious exercises, to which they add many exterior marks of devotion, emphatically expressed by thwacking the bosom, extending the arms, upturning the eyes, muttering ejaculations, fetching deep sighs, and emitting hollow groans on a tremendous key. The Gentoos and other dissenters are excluded from their society, by a railing of bamboes, which in the night time is hung with glittering branches that illuminate the entire scene, while a number of colours are flying from the poles. There are four other colours of a particular kind, trimmed with a beautiful gold fringe, within the small canopy: under this the salver is placed, to which the entire Mahometan assembly kneel in adoration, whilst bands of music swell the strain of religious enthusiasm.

On the ninth day, they exhibit a kind of edifice made of stained paper, which is perhaps one of the most curious specimens of filligrane work ever attempted by human ingenuity. It consists of many spires, rising above each other, and gradually diminishing towards the top; the variety of ornaments about it is admirable, and the taste with which it is executed, inconceivable: you can form but an imperfect idea of such a masterly piece of workmanship, and I am therefore unhappy that my abilities will not permit me to pursue such a combination of inimitable art and elegance, through all the complicated minutiae of an adequate description.—It is carried in grand procession through the town, during the night, with the salver and two turbans placed on the battlements of the fourth spire: before which, were thousands in the attitude of prostrate humility, paying their adoration and distributing alms to their indigent fellow creatures around them, whilst numbers followed, with flams and torches lighting, colours flying, and various instruments of music, on which they played the most solemn airs. The tenth day this paper structure, which in the Indian dialect, is termed Gouwarrah, is carried to the burial ground of their supposed saints or holy men, and thrown into a large tank, which concludes the ceremony.

The Mahometans keep a strict lent once in the year, in the month Ramzaun, for a space of thirty two days: during this time, they never sleep on a bed, nor cohabit with their wives, and live only on rice and vegetables: they also abstain from off their usual enjoyments of chewing betel, and smoking tobacco, avoiding every kind of amusement, and spending the time in prayer, and the performance of charitable offices. They are so extremely tenacious of their principles that even under the painful longing of excessive thirst, they will not taste a drop of water, each day, till seven in the evening. As an instance of their severity in the observance of their religious tenets, I shall introduce the following real anecdote. A considerable Banyan merchant was on his passage from Bombay to Surat, in an English ship, and having made such a provision of water in vessels under his own seal, as might serve for that short voyage, which was commonly completed in two or three days; it happened however that, through retardment by calms and contrary winds, his liquid store was expended, and he reduced to a condition of perishing with thirst, though there was plenty of water on board: but, no entreaties could prevail on him to use it, as his religion forbade it, which to him was more dear than life itself. He felt all the torments occasioned by the fever of thirst, and would have actually sunk under them, had not a favourable breeze springing up, brought him to Gundavee [Gandevi], near Surat; but he was so faint on his arrival, that his soul was almost panting between his lips.


Dear Sir,

Having remained some time in Dacca, we proceeded on our voyage to Calcutta, and, in about two days reached the river Sunderbun, which is extremely narrow, and winds into many branches, that feast the delighted eye with a variety of new scenery: the land on each side is low, and covered with great trees, close to the water's edge: the water was smooth and transparent when we passed through, and appeared like an extended mirror reflecting the tall trees that grew upon each border. Creation seemed to be at rest, and no noise disturbed the silence which reigned around; save, now and then, the roaring of wild beasts in the adjacent woods: the scene was truly great, and raised into unaffected grandeur, without the assistance of art.

The most remarkable trees that grow on each margin of the river, are the sandal, aumnooze, and ceesoe. The woods are infested with ferocious animals of different kinds, which frequently destroy the unwary traveller; and the tygers in particular are daring enough to approach the river side, and dart on the very passengers in the boats going up and down, of whom they make an instant prey. Along the banks are many villages, at about ten or twelve miles distance from each other, where we sometimes laid in a fresh supply of provisions. There is no display of art in the construction of the cottages, which are only composed of broad green flags fastened together, and supported by frames of bamboes. When the floods begin to overflow the country, the natives, with much ease, remove their dwellings from one place to another, first taking them asunder, then rolling up the partitions and roofs, and finally carry them in bundles, wherever convenience of situation, out of the reach of danger, might allure them to fix their moveable abodes. The inhabitants live in a state of nature, sequestered from the tumult of bustling crowds: their wants, which are few, are easily satisfied; and their manners are rendered simple, from the unvarying tenor of their lives, and their remote distance from great towns and cities, where vice finds an asylum amidst luxury and dissipation, and guilty greatness lords it over the trembling wretch who crouches at her feet. Between the villages, we observed a few scattered huts, built by some European adventurers, as a temporary residence, while they are employed in cutting down timber which they sent to different parts of Bengal for ship-building, and other uses.

In January 1783, we arrived at Calcutta, that great emporium of wealth and commerce, where people of rank appear in a style of grandeur far superior to the fashionable eclat displayed in the brilliant circles of Europe. Every private gentleman is attended by twenty servants, at least, eight of whom called bahareas, are alternately employed in carrying his palanquin: and two footmen termed halcarahs, walk before this travelling vehicle: he also keeps three or four domestic servants, namely, a consumma or butler, a bowberchee or cook, and a kizmutgaur or valet: to these may be added seven or eight others under the following appellations, viz. a hookeburdar or person whose chief business is to prepare his master's tobacco pipe, and attend him when smoking, an offdaur to cool the water for his drinking, two or three sahees who have the care of the horses, a gusseara or grass cutter, and three or four mussalchees or torch bearers.

Great characters still increase the number of attendants, by adding to the train already described, nakeeves or criers, to clear the way before them, chowkdars or pages, who carry large silver rods in their hands, sotiburdars the bearers of small silver rods, and piadas or letter carriers.

Those elevated personages, who bask in the sun-shine of exalted life, look down, as from a lofty eminence, on your second-rate people of quality, with as much supercilious disdain, as the second-rates survey all, without distinction, in the humbler walks of life, in which are some sentimental souls whose wounded sensibility gives rapture to enjoyment, when they behold them held in such sovereign detestation and sneering contempt by their distant superiors.

I have frequently seen a circar or writing clerk, attended in the day time, by a servant holding an umbrella over his head to shade him from the sun, and one or two torch bearers illuming the way before him by night.

Every man of rank has a derawan or door-keeper at his gate, to announce the arrival of a visitant, whose name he cries out in a vociferous tone, which is heard in the gentleman's mansion, and repeated by a servant at the foot of the grand stair-case leading to his apartment: pages posted in different situations on the stairs, usher the sound to each other, till, at last, it reaches the jemidar or principal page, at the drawing-room door, who conveys it, with great formality, to his master, in order to prepare him for the reception of the visitant.

In passing through some parts of the town, I have observed several men employed in repairing the streets, who had logs chained to their feet, as a punishment, which the law inflicts for the commission of small crimes. Women guilty of petty offences, appear abroad quite bald, their heads being close shaved, in order to expose them to public scorn. Persons in the matrimonial state, detected in criminal conversation, are mounted on a large jackass, with two spears or bayonets fastened round the brows of each, to denote their shame, and render them more conspicuous to the populace. These examples are indeed like black swans, and very seldom seen in Asia, where a breach of conjugal fidelity is considered an odium that must doom the parties to eternal solitude, for ever precluding them from the benefit of society.


Dear Sir,

Having passed through a variety of scenes in India, we left Calcutta in January 1784, and went by water to Belcoor, a little village about twelve miles down the river, where a Danish East-Indiaman, commanded by a Captain Duck [Doack], bound for Copenhagen, lay at anchor waiting for the passengers, who embarked with us, and proceeded on our voyage for Europe. The weather being fine, and the wind favourable, we reached Madapallam in seven days, and came to an anchor. The Captain and passengers went ashore, some remaining here, and others, whom I accompanied, being led by curiosity to visit Madras about eight miles hence, while the ship, which was to continue here a fortnight, was taking in some bales of chintz and callico.

Madras or Fort St. George is a regular square about a hundred yards at each side, with four bastions, built with what they call iron stone, being of the colour of unwrought iron, and very rough, on the outside like honey-comb. There is no ditch about the fort, and the walls are arched and hollow within, and are therefore not cannon proof. It has two gates, one to the east, and the other to the west.

The western gate which looks towards the land, is pretty large, and here the main guard is kept, the soldiers of the guard lying on the right and left of it, under the wall, which being hollow, serves them instead of a guard house. The east gate towards the sea, is but small, and protected only by a file of musqueteers. In the middle of the fort stands the Governor's house, in which are apartments for the Company's servants: it is a handsome, lofty, square, stone building; the first rooms are ascended by ten or twelve steps, and from thence another pair of stairs leads to the council chamber and the Governor's lodgings.

The fort stands near the centre of the white town where the Europeans inhabit. This is an oblong square, about a quarter of a mile in length, but not half so much in breadth. To the northward of the fort are three handsome streets, and as many to the south: the buildings are of brick; and several of the houses have one floor above the ground floor. Their roofs are flat, and covered with a plaister made of seashells, which no rain can penetrate. Opposite the west gate of the fort is a long room where the soldiers lodge when they are off the guard, and adjoining to it, on the north, is a commodious hospital; at the other end is a mint, where the Company coin gold and silver. On the north side of the fort is the Portuguese church, and to the southward the English church, which is a neat elegant building, and moderately large: it is floored with black and white marble, the seats regular and convenient, and all together, the most airy lightsome temple any where to be found, for the windows are large and unglazed to admit the cooling breezes in the warm season.

Here is also a free school, where children are educated in reading and writing; besides which there is a library. On the west part of the town a river runs close to the buildings, which are protected by a large battery of guns commanding the plain beyond them. On the east there is a slight stone wall, built on an eminence, that appears something grand to the shipping in the road; but here is very little occasion for any fortification, the sea coming up close to the town, and no large vessels can ride within two miles of the place, the sea is so very shallow; nor is there any landing but in the country boats, the surf runs so high, and breaks so far from the shore. The north and south ends of the town, are each of them defended by a stone wall, which is hollow within, like the fort walls, and would hardly hold out one day's battery. To the southward is a little suburb, inhabited only by black fishermen; it consists of low thatched cottages, which hardly deserve the name of buildings. Beyond this is an outguard of Blacks, who serve to give intelligence to the fort; but there is no other fortification on this side.

The black town, situate to the northward, adjoins the white town, and is considerably larger. Here Portuguese, Indians, Armenians, and others dwell. It is built in the form of a square, and more than a mile and a half in circumference; being surrounded with a brick wall seventeen feet thick, with bastions at proper distances, after the modern way of fortification: it has also a river on the west, and the sea on the east; and to the northward a canal is cut from the river to the sea, which serves for a moat on that side. The streets of the black town are wide, and trees planted in some of them; and having the sea on one side and a river on the other, there are few towns so pleasantly situated or better supplied; but except some few brick houses, the rest are cottages built with clay and thatched. The houses of the better sort of Indians, are of the same materials, and built usually in one form, with a little square in the middle from whence they receive all their light. A stranger seldom comes farther than the door, before which is erected a little shed supported by pillars, where they sit cross-legged morning and evening, to receive their friends or transact their business. The great streets and the bazar, or market place, are thronged with people, for notwithstanding the houses are low and small, they are well filled; and the people from the highest to the lowest are exceedingly cleanly, washing themselves several times a day. In this black town, there is an Armenian church and several little pagodas or Indian temples, to which belong great numbers of female choristers, who spend half the time in singing to the idols, and the rest in intriguing or chanting in companies before the great men as they pass along the streets. The Governor of Madras makes a splendid appearance, and his usual guard is upwards of an hundred black men: when he goes abroad on any public occasion, he is attended by trumpets, fifes, and drums, with streamers flying, and accompanied by his principal Officers on horse-back, and their ladies in palanquins.

Having returned to Madapallam at the appointed time, we continued our voyage till we came within view of the Cape of Good Hope, and met with no extraordinary occurrence on the passage. We saw several kinds of the finny inhabitants of the liquid element, a description of which I must here omit, as uninteresting to a gentleman of your information. A speck now observed in the mariner's horizon, was to him an evident sign of the impending storm, which collected with rapid increase, and bursting with resistless impetuosity over our heads, incessantly raged for three days. The howling of the tempest, the roaring of the sea, the dismal gloom of night, the lightning's forked flash, and thunder's awful roll, conspired to make this the most terrifying scene I ever experienced.

Fair weather providentially succeeding this violent tornado, we reached St. Helena in a week, and met with the Fox English Indiaman, which received some damage by touching on a rock at some distance from the shore. There were also lying here at anchor, three more Indiamen, in one of which was Governor Hastings' Lady on her return to Europe, and in another the remains of that great and gallant Officer, Sir Eyre Coote. Having laid in a supply of fresh provisions and water, and proceeded on our voyage, we arrived at Darmouth [Dartmouth] in England in September 1784.

The Travels of Dean Mahomet, A Native of Patna in Bengal, Through Several Parts of India, While in the Service of The Honourable The East India CompanyWritten by Himself, In a Series of Letters to a Friend

Preferred Citation: Mahomet, Dean. The Travels of Dean Mahomet: An Eighteenth-Century Journey through India. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1997 1997.