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stands upon part of it, an area half as large again as Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens together. Had it a few more trees, it might be termed a park; at present, it is a broad expanse of not very bright turf, crossed here and there by roads and walking-paths. It serves for a universal recreation ground. Every morning and evening it is dotted with 'sahibs’taking their exercise on Australian 'walers,' or more symmetrical Arab steeds; a cricketground, a race-course, and a racquet-court, all claim a portion of its spacious surface; troops are reviewed on it, bazaars and exhibitions occasionally encroach upon it. Round one corner of it runs “the Course,' whereon the beauty and fashion of Calcutta are wont to drive in 'buggies' and barouches; near the Course is a plot where in the evenings of the dry season a group of a dozen or more excited Englishmen may be seen pursuing the game of ‘hockey on pony-back.' Would that every large town in England had such a noble space for air and exercise !
Crossing the Midân, we pass close by the gates of the Government House. Alas! like
Alas! like many other buildings, it looks better in a photograph than in reality. Those handsome-looking arches, surmounted by a model of the British lion apparently pawing a football, are only plaster and brick, and such is the composition of the main building also. There is no good building-stone to be found within hundreds of miles of Calcutta, and the appearance of Calcutta suffers accordingly. Who named the place the City of Palaces it would be hard to say; he had better have given the name to a more deserving candidate.
Passing the Government House, we come to the portion of the city occupied by business houses, shops and hotels, all built on a spacious plan, and bringing in rents worthy of London. Proceeding through this district, we come to the crowded quarter of the native population. Keeping
down towards the river, we pass the ‘Burning Ghât,' a walled enclosure, inside which we see two or three piles of half-consumed wood, each covering a Hindoo body that is fast fulfilling the universal decree of ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The poorest natives of the place may bring their deceased relatives here, and have them burnt, on the payment of a very moderate fee; and thus a remedy is sought against the former pollution of the river by casting unburnt corpses into it.
From this silent haunt of the dead we can pass in a few minutes to the busy hives of the living. The native bazaar is close at hand -a dense mass of narrow streets, lined with small shops, which are filled with a most miscellaneous collection of articles, from Turkey reds and grey shirtings to brazen pots and empty beer-bottles. We may walk in and out of passages and alleys, go up stairs and continue
, round galleries and through rows of connected rooms, till we have fairly lost our way, and must trust to the native who is with us to lead us back to our 'gharry,' which we left standing in one of the broader streets.
We drive back through the crowd ; our gharrywan' engaged in a constant vociferation at various natives who will walk in the middle of the road, till we emerge again from the native quarter into purer air and more space. We have a rather confused impression on our minds of having passed through a maze of low cramped houses, wherein were black figures, draped in every colour, and many costumes, lazily smoking hookahs, and waiting, they don't care how long, for a customer for their wares, or busy over fifty different kinds of handiwork, from working in gold and silver filagree or embroidering in silks, to chopping tobacco or tinkering at brass pots.
But it would take months of reading, combined with constant observation, to master half the castes, interests, arts
and habits, of this mass of living beings. It is when passing through a totally new scene of busy life, such as this, that one is impressed with the feeling of how many worlds of thought, belief, motive, habit and action, differing in every point from each other and from our own, this single planet of ours contains. It is a feeling akin to that of looking through a microscope and having our eyes opened to a hundred minute but perfect organisations, of which, we had no idea before; or of seeing for the first time, through a telescope, a crowd of distant stars where we had thought there was only empty space.
But we have not much time for philosophising as we drive through the crowded streets, and finally emerge again into the European quarter. We enter one of the spacious houses of business, whose ground floor is divided into cool and roomy offices, wherein we may see some fifty native clerks at work, some at desks, some writing squatted on the ground. On the upper floor are rooms that would do credit to an English baronial mansion, as far as size is concerned : in the largest of them we take tiffin, and when the day begins to cool, drive out again to Ballygunge, stopping on the way to try our hand at cricket or to watch a game of hockey on pony-back. This latter game has been introduced from a hill tribe living in the district of Munipoorie, with whom it is an old-established pastime. The ponies which are used for the game are also from Munipoorie; they are not unlike Welsh ponies in appearance, and their average height is about twelve-and-a-half hands. Though so small, they are extraordinarily strong and active, as the way in which they carry ponderous sahibs after the ball, turning and twisting at every stroke of the long hockey-stick, fully proves. Not long ago, the Calcutta players, conscious of having attained some skill in the art, brought down a dozen Munipoor men from their
native country and arranged a match with them. But this attempt to beat the native at his own accomplishment proved too presumptuous to be successful, and in this little matter the Asiatic proved himself superior to the European.
We will not delay long in Calcutta, as we are anxious to make a trip up to the north-west, and be off for China before the hot weather begins. But before starting ‘up country,' we must go across the river to the Botanical Gardens, and pay a short visit, too, to Barrackpore. We take advantage of a native holiday-one of about thirty which occur during the year-when native clerks will do no work, and consequently business is almost stopped.
Going down to the riverside at Garden Reach, we are ferried across the river, here half a mile in width, in a ‘dingy,' and land close to the Gardens. This is perhaps the most unfavourable season for the appearance of a garden here; there are few flowers or creepers out, and the fine collection of orchids are also waiting for hotter weather before blossoming. But there are several masses of magenta colour where the bourganvillias are flourishing; a few bigonias and jasmines are just opening out their flowers; roses are in full bloom, and the hibiscus is at its best. The rich variety of ferns from different parts of India, especially from Sikkim, is always green and luxuriant, and there are of course many trees and shrubs of interest. One tree alone, a fine banyan, is worth crossing the river to see. It has a spread of branches which cover a circle of ground sixty yards in diameter, each large branch supported by those downward shoots, which are the most striking characteristic of the tree. Under its thick shade of dark-green leaves the air is deliciously cool, and we may sit there pleasantly with the column-like shoots all around us, thinking that we are in a natural temple. Certainly an ancient Greek, had the tree grown in his native country, would have held it sacred to his favourite sylvan deities.
Near the gardens is the Bishop's College, a handsome building, founded fifty years ago by Bishop Middleton, for the purpose of educating native Christians, if possible, as inissionaries. The college is well planned, with a good library, and a simple but elegant chapel. It has not, however, proved a success; the number of pupils at present is only nine, fewer than attended in any of the first ten years of the existence of the building. It seems that Christianity makes slow progres among the upper classes of natives, and those of a poorer class cannot afford to pay
for such a good education as is here offered.
To reach Barrackpore, we must recross the river and go by train out from the city for a few miles towards the north. A short drive from the Barrackpore station takes us to the park, a fine expanse of level ground, thickly dotted with well-grown trees of such kinds as the teak, the peepul, and the mango.
At the further end of the Park is the Viceroy's house and gardens—the Indian Windsor, whither the representative of royalty often escapes from the heat and oppressiveness of the town. A few hundred yards distant, and near the bank of the river, is a sequestered spot containing a handsome marble tomb to the memory of Lady Canning. Half a mile away is a small collection of animals, duly caged : among them a magnificent pair of tigers, and a pair of leopards almost as handsome.
In returning from Barrackpore we vary our route and start by boat. Going down the river for three miles or more, we land at the Grove,' and walk a mile to the bungalow of a well-to do Baboo, who has asked us to pay him a visit. His bungalow is of a moderate size, standing in an extensive garden filled with a great variety of fruit