Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

or six children; the vegetables and acids which he requires are found in every hedge.'

Miss Graham had the good fortune to be lodged in the house of Sir James Mackintosh, at Torala, about three miles from the town of Bombay: Sir James had the best library that ever doubled the Cape,' and the most agreeable residence' in the whole district; subject to few other inconveniences besides the stealing of poultry and kids by the half-starved hyenas, and the barking at midnight of innumerable jackalls. The garden is described as delightful—it would be, it seems, a little paradise,' were it not for the suakes which infest it. Snakes, from the enormous rock-snake, who first breaks the bones of his prey, by coiling round it, and then swallows it whole, to the smallest of the venemous tribe, glide about in every direction. Here the cobra capella, whose bite is, in almost every instance, mortal, lifts his graceful folds and spreads his large manycoloured crests; here, too, lurks the small bright speckled cobra manilla, whose fangs convey instant death.'

Miss Graham appears to have made good use of what are almost useless in India,-her legs. She walks to Mazagong, dirty Portugueze village, putting in its claim to Christianity chiefly from, the immense number of pigs kept there!' still she thinks it interesting to sentimentalists as the place from which Sterne's Eliza eloped: it has two Romish churches and a dock for small vessels; it is celebrated for producing the best mangoes in India, which, in the reign of Shah Jehan, were conveyed to Delhi for the use of the royal table. She visits Sion fort, nine miles from the fort of Bombay. It was commanded by General Macpherson, a highlander, who was in the battle of Culloden, on the losing side;' and so strong was his recollection of that event, that no entreaties could prevail on him to go on board the Culloden man of war, when in Bombay harbour- he always shook his head, and said he had had enough of Culloden.'

'

From Sion she went to Mahaim; saw several ruinous Portugueze churches, Mussulman tombs, and Hindoo temples; with large tanks, surrounded by trees, where people bathe from morning till night, all ages and sexes together; but they wear as much clothing in the water as out of it.' Here, too, is a college of Catholic priests, who learn at Goa to speak barbarous Latin, and whose business is that of baptizing the children of Hindoo women, to each of whom is given a small premium; but christianity, it seems, ends with their initiation.

The next place she visited was Malabar point, formerly a spot of singular sanctity. Near the top of the hill are a multitude of temples, and a few houses of Brahmins, whose inhabitants seem to gain their livelihood by begging. A ruined temple exhibits the

remains

remains of a fine specimen of Hindoo architecture, every stone of it being curiously carved with groups of human figures, animals, and other ornaments. Multitudes of pilgrims annually visit this holy place; many for the sole purpose of squeezing themselves through a narrow cleft in the rock, apparently not wide enough for the body of a child, as a sure way of squeezing out their sins. Not far from the ruins is a beautiful village, entirely inhabited by Brahmins, and crowded with temples more numerous than the houses. The Brahmins of this place speak and write English.The young men are mostly parvoes or writers, and are employed in the public offices and merchant's counting houses, while the elders devote themselves to their sacerdotal duties, and the study of the Vedas.' Miss Graham seems to have no great opinion either of the learning or virtue of the Brahmins. 'I saw,' she says, 'at Momba Devee's temple some soi-disant holy men; they were young, and remarkably fat, sprinkled over with ashes, and their hair was matted and filthy. I believe they had no clothing. My expectations of Hindoo innocence and virtue are fast giving way, and I fear that, even among the Pariahs, I shall not find any thing like St. Pierre's Chaumière Indienne.' We should be much surprized if she had.

·

6

She next visits the fort of Bombay, which is said to be too large to be defended,' and 'no part of it is bomb-proof;' it is dirty, hot, and disagreeable; and some of it in ruins. She visits also the dock-yards, and the new dock, complete and excellent of its kind.' She examines the harbour, filled with vessels from all nations, and of all shapes,' but finds those of the Arabs the largest and finest. They bring hither horses, pearls, coffee, gums, honey, and ghee, or clarified butter, in leathern jars; dried fruits, ittur of roses, tobacco, rose water, Schiraz wine, books, worked slippers, and silk shawls. Wheat, rice, cattle, and cotton, are brought from Guzzerat; cocoa-nuts for oil, and coir for cordage, are furnished by the Laccadive and Maldive islands; and the forests of Malabar supply Bombay with timber, drugs, and gums, particularly dammar, with answers all the purposes of pitch. A variety of British and Chinese manufactures are carried away by them in return.

There is an English church in the fort of Bombay, but it is neither well served nor well attended: there are plenty of Portugueze and Armenian churches, three or four synagogues, and mosques and temples innumerable; none of these have any want of devotees. In one of them is a trimurti, or three-formed god,—a colossal bust with three heads joined together; in the centre that of Brahma the creator, on the right that of Siva the destroyer, and on the left that of Vishnu the preserver. Offerings of rice, fruit, milk, and

flowers,

flowers, are daily made to these deities; and they are constantly sprinkled with water. The priests are of an olive complexion, being very little exposed to the sun; their dress consists of a linen scarf wrapped round the loins, and reaching nearly to the ancles, the folds of which fall very gracefully; their heads are shaved, excepting the crown, where a small lock of hair is left; and over the shoulder hangs the Brahminical thread or zenaar.'

Miss Graham makes an acquaintance with a Mahometan Cazy, Shahab o'dien Mahary, who shews her all the mosques, and the schools attached to each, at which Arabic is taught by alphabets and by sentences painted on wood, the elder boys teaching the younger ones. He allowed her, with her sister, to visit a greater curiosity, which was his harem; the description of it is amusing.

In the lower part of his house we saw a number of Mussulmans sitting cross-legged, with cushions at their backs, in the different apartments, perfectly idle, and rarely even speaking, and seeming hardly able to exert themselves so far as to put the betel into their mouths; we ascended to the women's apartment by a ladder, which is removed when not in immediate use, to prevent the ladies from escaping, and were received by the Cazy's wife's mother, a fine old woman dressed in white, and without any ornaments, as becomes a widow. Shahab o'dien's mother and the rest of his father's widows were first presented, then Fatima his wife, to whom our visit was paid, and afterwards his sisters, some of them fine lively young women. were received was about twenty feet square and rather low; round it The apartment in which we were smaller rooms, most of them crowded with small beds with white muslin curtains. These were not particularly clean, and the whole suit seemed close and disagreeable. Most of the women were becomingly dressed. Fatima's arms, legs, and neck, were covered with rings and chains; her fingers and toes were loaded with rings; her head was surrounded with a fillet of pearls, some strings of which crossed it several ways and confined the hair which was knotted up behind. On her forehead hung a cluster of coloured stones, from which depended a large pearl, and round her face small strings of pearls hung at equal distances. Her ear-rings were very beautiful; but I do not like the custom of boring the hem of the ear, and studding it all round with joys, (jewels;) nor could even Fatima's beautiful face reconcile me to the nose-jewel. Her large black eyes, the cheshme ahoo of the eastern poets, were rendered more striking by the black streaks with which they were adorned and lengthened out at the corners; and the palms of her hands, the soles of her feet, and her nails, were stained with hinna, a plant the juice of whose seeds is of a red colour.

'Fatima's manner is gentle, modest, and indolent; before her husband she neither lifts her eyes nor speaks, and hardly moves without permission from the elder ladies of the harem. Prepared as I was to expect very little from Mussulman ladies, I could not help being shocked to see them so totally void of cultivation as I found them. They mutter their prayers, and some of them read the Koran, but not

one

one in a thousand understands it. Still fewer can read their own language, or write at all, and the only work they do is a little embroidery. They thread beads, plait coloured threads, sleep, quarrel, make pastry, and chew betel in the same daily round; and it is only at a death, a birth, or a marriage, that the monotony of their lives is ever interrupted.' pp. 17, 18.

6

(

"

The manners of our countrymen in Bombay are not drawn in the most flattering colours. At a dinner given to Miss Graham by the governor almost all the settlers were invited to meet her. There were at least three men for every woman among the fifty that sat down to table about 8 o'clock. I found,' says our traveller, our fair companions, like the ladies of all the country towns I know, under-bred and over-dressed; and, with the excep-. tion of one or two, very ignorant and very grossière.' The gentlemen were of a higher caste than the ladies, and the merchants far more rational companions than the civil servants, who are so taken up with their own imaginary importance that they disdain to learn and have nothing to teach.' The military were somewhat better, but few even of these were passable; all their dinner-parties are described as most dull and uncomfortable. 'The ladies are handed to table, according to the strictest rules of precedency, by a gentleman of a rank corresponding to their own.' The different couples, thus paired off, invariably sit together, amuse themselves with remarks on the company, as satirical as their wit will allow, and woe be to the stranger! whose ears are certain of being regaled with the catalogue of his supposed imperfections and misfortunes, and who has the chance of learning more of his own history than in all probability he ever knew before.' No general conversation is carried on at table; and, after dinner, the ladies amuse themselves with scandal, intrigues, jewels, lace, and the latest fashions; and in making and breaking matches for the newly arrived young women. Each guest brings with him one, two, or three Parsee or Mussulman servants, dark, long bearded, and turbaned gentlemen,' who stand so close behind the chairs of their respective masters, as to make no trifling addition to the heat of the apartment: were it not, indeed, for the swinging punka over the table, which agitates and freshens the air, it would be quite impossible to sit out the melancholy ceremony of an Indian dinner :' and, to conclude, on leaving the eating room, one generally sees or hears, in some place near the door, the cleaning of dishes and the squabbling of cooks. If they are within sight, one perceives a couple of dirty Portugueze (black men who eat pork and wear breeches) directing the operations of half a dozen still dirtier Parials, who are scraping dishes and plates with their hands, and

6

then,

then, with the same unwashen paws, putting aside the next day's tiffin for their master's table. Such is a Bombay feast.

The only female servants in an European house are Portugueze, who act as ladies' maids. Hamauls are kept for palankin-bearers, and others of the same class to make the beds, sweep the rooms, clean the furniture, and fetch water; hallaleors or chandelas, the most wretched of the pariahs, perform the meaner offices; massulgees clean the lamps, light the candles, and carry torches by night; koolis carry out parcels; and derdjes, or taylors, who are generally Brannins, and wear muslin gowns and red turbans bordered with gold, 'work and cut out beautifully, making as much use of their toes as of their fingers in the latter operation.'

"It reminds one' (says Miss Graham) of the Arabian Nights Entertainments, to go through the Bazar of an evening. The whole fronts of the shops are taken down and converted into benches, on which the goods are disposed, and each shop is lighted with at least two lamps. Here you see grain of every description heaped up in earthen jars; there, sweetmeats of all sorts and shapes, disposed in piles on benches, or hung in festoons about the top and sides of the shop, which is commonly lined with chintz or dyed cotton. Farther on, fruits and vegetables are laid out to the best advantage; then you come to the paung, or betel leaf, nut and chunam, ready for chewing, or the separate inaterials; beyond are shops for perfumes, linens, oils, toys, brass, and earthen ware, all set out in order, and the owner sitting bolt upright in the middle of his sweetmeats or grain, waiting for custom. The shop of the schroffs, or bankers, are numerous in the bazar; you see the master sitting in the middle of his money table, surrounded by piles of copper and silver money, with scales for weighing the rupees and other coins presented for change. But it is the barber's shop that is always most crowded, being, particularly at night, the great resort for gossip and news; the barbers themselves seem to enjoy a prescriptive right to be lively, witty, and good story-tellers. I have seen some excellent buffoons among them; and a slap given to a bald new-shaven pate, in the proper part of a story, has set half the bazar in a roar. The barbers keep every body's holiday, Hindoos, Jews, Mussulmans, Armenians, Portugueze, and English, and reap a good harvest at each by their comic way of begging.' (pp. 33, 34.)

We pass over Miss Graham's acce Miss Graham's account of the Guebres or Parsees, though she may have obtained some information respecting them from the Dustoor, or chief priest of that sect at Bombay; having much better, and more circumstantial details concerning them in the Zendavesta of M. Anquetil du Perron, and in the Tableau Historique of the Chevalier D'Ohsson: For the same reason we must refer our readers to the several curious papers by Mr. Colebrooke in the Asiatic Transactions, rather than detain them with any part of her brief account of the principal gods of Hindostan,' nor shall - we transcribe any thing of what she says of the Jines, a sect 'whose

antiquity

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »