صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[blocks in formation]

6

trees and shrubs, from cocoa-nut palms and plantains, to cotton-shrubs and rose-bushes. At one end of the garden is a large ornamental tank, with its banks neatly sloped and trimmed, and surmounted by one or two summerhouses. The owner of the house and grounds, though a native, is considerably Anglicised. He tells us he has long been anxious to pay a visit to England, but his wife's abhorrence of such an un-Brah ninical journey has been too strong for him as yet. The lady

The lady is of course invisible, hidden from the gaze of the eyes of a Feringhee in the seclusion of the zenana. Our host regales us with a collation in European style, and we leave him rather late in the afternoon, to drive back to Calcutta.

Ten days in the month of February in Calcutta leave on us a very different impression of the place from that which one might gather of it in England. In home circles, when : young competition wallah,' or an embryo merchantprince, or a freshly-called barrister, is said to be going out to Calcutta, he is looked upon as doomed to so many years (if he lives as long) of banished life, breathing nothing but germs of fever or cholera, perspiring all day under a sweltering sun, and gasping all night under a sluggish punkah. Mothers and sisters look on him either as an instance of infatuated self-sacrifice, or a victim to the mistaken persuasions of ignorant friends.

Perhaps if they could be spirited over the intervening 6,000 miles, and get a glimpse of their poor boy' as he takes a morning canter across the Midân, sits down to a Inxurious tiffin in the mid-day interval of his work, or chats and laughs in an after-dinner circle later in the day, they would adopt a more hopeful view of his circumstances, and even compare his lot favourably with that of his brother or his cousin at home, cooped up in London chambers, or tied to a desk in a manufacturing town.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

tar. ririle une sideritim of sound Dibra. and is. Dissed quite 33 Dit s n strier parts of the ol be. There

2 - mg v ples were reis sneh a viriety of peetean prvimi ir * w 12 adie, or who wish, to

CH*T. LTD. wing, riliar, hockey on Fen-L, 53-anam size-sheeting-all are daily prirode Tir s'n of the rearand if leisure beim Swin sa tew days, in vode keen ažer sport a mida his chcice na dezen kindis, varrizz tan terhazy ulici-sbuctioz, in-Iding what is perhaps premiers is 1 milzy zad exciting sport. pering the wi brez. or, is it is somewhalt ignominionly stolai ia Caletti parance. pig-sticking. And for anyoce who lacks a taste for outdoor pursuits of a rigoprice chrzcter, there is no place abroad where there can be found a society at once so hospitable, polished, and varied.

Perhaps it may be thought that the one desideratum of soand health betrays a weak point in the defence of Calcutta as a residence for Englishmen, and at once makes room for exceptions more often occuring than the rule. It is doubtless true that an Englishman who has anywhere a flaw in his constitution runs greater risk in Calentta than he would do at home; and a delicate man should not venture to take up a residence there; but to see the number of healthy-looking men who may be met every day there, not a few of them after a residence of ten or a dozen years, one would conclude that a man with a sound constitution and a careful habit of life has a far better prospect of living, and living in health, in Calcutta than is generally supposed. Nor is there any place in the tropic# where measures for warding off the effects of the bent and other dangerous points of the climate are so

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

are

universally understood and adopted; and there certainly few where better medical advice can be obtained at need.

Perhaps we should add, that there is one other desideratum to the enjoyment of life in Calcutta, and that is a more liberal supply of the 'sinews of war' than is required at home. Undoubtedly, in the majority of matters in that luxurious city, a rupee goes very littie further than one shilling, though it is intrinsically worth two. But there is at least one important exception to this rule—a good horse can be bought for rather less than he would fetch in England, and can be kept at two-thirds of what he would cost in an English livery-stable.

With regard to the lot of an English lady in Calcutta, perhaps we are not qualified to estimate it at its proper value. We may say, however, that we are inclined as a rule to pity the members of our fair sex in the tropics. Debarred by the climate, or by different habits of living, from most of the domestic occupations which fill up their time at home; mixing less with their fellows than the more active sex can do; with less physical vigour to withstand depressing effects of sun and sickness; there are few of them with sufficient strength of mind and body to pass through the ordeal of a residence in the tropics without giving way at one point or another. But it is the natural rule that everything going through severe test is either much injured or much improved by the process; and for those English women who have come out of the tropical test uninjured, having no desire to attempt to 'gild refined gold,' we will not try to praise them.

D

CHAPTER III.

TIRHOOT.

6

!

TWENTY years ago a journey from Calcutta to any part of the North-west meant a fortnight's travelling in a 'palkee' or a 'gharry.' Even fourteen years ago, in the time of the mutiny, the journey from Calcutta to Delhi involved some 700 miles of travelling in a gharry.' Now it is a matter of two days' journey on a railway, at a pace moderate enough to be easy, and in carriages admirably adapted for comfort.

But though the rail will run in a very short time from Lahore through the Punjâb and down through the whole length of the great plain of Bengal without a break, it will be some years before it reaches Calcutta itself.

No profane bridge has yet spanned the sacred waters of the Hooghly, and in leaving Calcutta we have to cross the broad waters in a steamer, in order to reach the terminus of the railway at Howrah, on the opposite bank.

Accordingly, on February 13, we may be seen seated in the evening train just starting for the North-west. Very soon after leaving the station we prepare to make a night of it. The carriages are divided into compartments, but the compartments are not again subdivided. The seat on each side of the compartment is not partitioned by projecting elbow and head-rests, and consequently its flush length makes an admirable bed. The back of the seat is so constructed that it can be

[blocks in formation]

pulled out, lifted up on hinges, and fixed horizontally as a second bed. Thus in each compartment four people can lie down at full length, and, so arranged, the carriage looks not unlike an ordinary four-berthed ship's cabin. Taking advantage of this arrangement, we sleep soundly through the night, and at daybreak find ourselves at Sahibgunge, 180 miles from Calcutta, where a range of wooded hills abuts upon the plain of the Ganges. These are the only hills we shall see till we catch a glimpse of the distant Himalayas; from here you may wander a thousand miles up the plain of the Ganges and not see a hillock on the way.

We travel on through the morning, keeping at no great distance from the bed of the Ganges, whose waters are occasionally visible, and before mid-day we reach the station of Mokameh. Here we leave the train in order to pay a visit to an indigo plantation in Tirhoot, on the other side of the river. Our indigo friends have sent to meet us two palkees, with twenty-eight bearers, twelve for the one of us of lighter weight, sixteen for the 'Burra Sahib,' or 'heavy swell,' With the bearers, who are so many black figures scantily clothed, is a whiteturbaned, white-toga'd native, who is to act as their leader and guide. He informs us that they have not had their mid-day meal, and that he has not enough coolies for the baggage which he sees ejected for us from the train. So an hour and a half is spent in supplying these wants, and then we start off,

The palkee, as perhaps many of our readers know, is merely a box, about five feet six inches long by two feet six inches in height and breadth, with sides usually of

A pole, or a stout cane, runs under and along the top of the box, projecting some five feet at either end. The palkee is carried by four bearers at a time, the

6

a

a

canvas.

« السابقةمتابعة »