Observations on the Mussulmauns of India
Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali
Part 6 out of 10
ecstasy of delight, exclaiming, "They are come! they are come!"--and on
the Moonshie turning quickly round, he was not a little staggered to find
three small snakes on the ground, at no great distance from the men, who,
he was convinced, had not moved from the place. They seemed to have no
dread of the reptiles, and accounted for it by saying they were
invulnerable to the snakes' venom; the creatures were then fearlessly
seized one by one by the men, and finally deposited in their basket.
'"They appear very tame," thought the Moonshie, as he observed the men's
actions: "I am outwitted at last, I believe, with all my boasted vigilance;
but I will yet endeavour to find them out.--Friend," said he aloud, "here
is your reward," holding the promised money towards the principal; "take
it, and away with you both; the snakes are mine, and I shall not allow you
to remove them hence."
'"Why, Sahib," replied the man, "what will you do with the creatures? they
cannot be worth your keeping; besides, it is the dustoor (custom); we
always have the snakes we catch for our perquisite."--"It is of no
consequence to you, friend, how I may dispose of the snakes," said the
Moonshie; "I am to suppose they have been bred in my house, and having
done no injury to my people, I may be allowed to have respect for their
forbearance; at any rate, I am not disposed to part with these guests, who
could have injured me if they would."
'The principal samp-wallah, perceiving it was the Moonshie's intention to
detain the snakes, in a perfect agony of distress for the loss he was
likely to sustain, then commenced by expostulation, ending with threats
and abuse, to induce the Moonshie to give them up; who, for his part, kept
his temper within bounds, having resolved in his own mind not to be
outwitted a second time; the fellow's insolence and impertinent speeches
were, therefore, neither chastised nor resented. The samp-wallah strove to
wrest the basket from the Moonshie's strong grasp, without succeeding; and
when he found his duplicity was so completely exposed, he altered his
course, and commenced by entreaties and supplications, confessing at last,
with all humility, that the reptiles were his own well-instructed snakes
that he had let loose to catch again at pleasure. Then appealing to the
Moonshie's well-known charitable temper, besought him that the snakes
might be restored, as by their aid he earned his precarious livelihood.
'"That they are yours, I cannot doubt," replied the Moonshie, "and,
therefore, my conscience will not allow me to detain them from you; but
the promised reward I of course keep back. Your insolence and duplicity
deserve chastisement, nevertheless I promise to forgive you, if you will
explain to me how you managed to introduce these snakes."
'The man, thankful that he should escape without further loss or
punishment, showed the harmless snakes, which, it appears, had been
deprived of their fangs and poison, and were so well instructed and docile,
that they obeyed their keeper as readily as the best-tutored domestic
animal. They coiled up their supple bodies into the smallest compass
possible, and allowed their keeper to deposit them each in a separate bag
of calico, which was fastened under his wrapper, where it would have been
impossible, the Moonshie declares, for the quickest eye to discover that
anything was secreted.'
'Sickley ghur' (Cutler and knife-grinder).--These most useful artisans
are in great request, polishing articles of rusty steel, giving a new edge
to the knives, scissors, razors, or swords of their employer, in a
masterly manner, for a very small price.
'Dhie cuttie' (Sour curds).--This article is in great request by
scientific cooks, who use it in many of their dainty dishes. The method of
making sour curd is peculiarly Indian: it is made of good sweet milk, by
some secret process which I could never acquire, and in a few hours the
whole is coagulated to a curd of a sharp acidity, that renders it equally
useful with other acids in flavouring their curries. The Natives use it
with pepper, pounded green ginger, and the shreds of pumpkins or radishes,
as a relish to their savoury dishes, in lieu of chatnee; it is considered
cooling in its quality, and delicious as an accompaniment to their
'Mullie' (Clotted cream).---This article is much esteemed by the
Natives. I was anxious to know how clotted cream could be procured at
seasons when milk from the cow would be sour in a few hours, and am told
that the milk when brought in fresh from the dairy is placed over the fire
in large iron skillets; the skin (as we call it on boiled milk) is taken
off with a skimmer, and placed in a basket, which allows all the milk to
be drained from it; the skin again engendered on the surface is taken off
in the same way, and so they continue, watching and skimming until the
milk has nearly boiled away. This collection of skin is the clotted cream
'Mukhun' (Butter).--Butter is very partially used by the Natives; they
use ghee, which is a sort of clarified butter, chiefly produced from the
buffalo's milk. The method of obtaining butter in India is singular to a
European. The milk is made warm over the fire, then poured into a large
earthen jar, and allowed to stand for a few hours. A piece of bamboo is
split at the bottom, and four small pieces of wood inserted as stretchers
to these splits. A leather strap is twisted over the middle of the bamboo,
and the butter-maker with this keeps the bamboo in constant motion; the
particles of butter swimming at the top are taken off and thrown into
water, and the process of churning is resumed; this method continues until
by the quantity collected, these nice judges have ascertained there is no
more butter remaining in the milk. When the butter is to be sold, it is
beaten up into round balls out of the water. When ghee is intended to be
made, the butter is simmered over a slow fire for a given time, and poured
into the ghee pot, which perhaps may contain the produce of the week
before they convey it to the market for sale; in this state the greasy
substance will keep good for months, but in its natural state, as butter,
the second day it is offensive to have it in the room, much less to be
used as an article of food.
'Burruff wallah' (The man with ice).--The ice is usually carried about
in the evening, and considered a great indulgence by the Natives. The
ice-men bring round both iced creams, and sherbet ices, in many varieties;
some flavoured with oranges, pomegranates, pine-apple, rose-water, &c.
They can produce ices at any season, by saltpetre, which is here abundant
and procured at a small price; but strange as it may appear, considering
the climate, we have regular collections of ice made in January, in most
of the stations in the Upper Provinces, generally under the
superintendence of an English gentleman, who condescends to be the
comptroller. The expenses are paid by subscribers, who, according to the
value of their subscription, are entitled to a given quantity of ice, to
be conveyed by each person's servant from the deposit an hour before
day-break, in baskets made for the purpose well wadded with cotton and
woollen blankets; conveyed home, the basket is placed where neither air
nor light can intrude. Zinc bottles, filled with pure water, are placed
round the ice in the basket, and the water is thus cooled for the day's
supply, an indulgence of great value to the sojourners in the East.
The method of collecting ice is tedious and laborious, but where labour is
cheap and the hands plenty the attempt has always been repaid by the
advantages. As the sun declines, the labourers commence their work; flat
earthen platters are laid out, in exposed situations, in square
departments, upon dried sugar-cane leaves very lightly spread, that the
frosty air may pass inside the platters. A small quantity of water is
poured into the platter; as fast as they freeze their contents are
collected and conveyed, during the night, to the pit prepared for the
reception of ice. The rising sun disperses the labourers with the ice, and
they seek their rest by day, and return again to their employ; as the lion,
when the sun disappears, prowls out to seek his food from the bounty of
his Creator. The hoar frost seldom commences until the first of January,
and lasts throughout that month.
'Roshunie' (Ink).---Ink, that most useful auxiliary in rendering the
thoughts of one mortal serviceable to his fellow-creatures through many
ages, is here an article of very simple manufacture. The composition is
prepared from lampblack and gum-arabic; how it is made, I have yet to
The ink of the Natives is not durable; with a wet sponge may be erased the
labour of a man's life. They have not yet acquired the art of printing,
and as they still write with reeds instead of feathers, an ink, permanent
as our own, is neither agreeable nor desirable.
There is one beautiful trait in the habits of the Mussulmauns: when about
to write they not only make the prayer which precedes every important
action of their lives, but they dedicate the writing to God, by a
character on the first page, which, as in short-hand writing, implies the
whole sentence. A man would be deemed heathenish amongst Mussulmauns,
who by neglect or accident omitted this mark on whatever subject he is
about to write.
Another of their habits is equally praiseworthy:--out of reverence for
God's holy name (always expressed in their letters) written paper to be
destroyed is first torn and then washed in water before the whole is
scattered abroad; they would think it a sinful act to burn a piece of
paper on which that Holy name has been inscribed. How often have I
reflected whilst observing this praiseworthy feature in the character of a
comparatively unenlightened people, on the little respect paid to the
sacred writings amongst a population who have had greater opportunities of
acquiring wisdom and knowledge.
The culpable habit of chandlers in England is fresh in my memory, who
without a scruple tear up Bibles and religious works to parcel out their
pounds of butter and bacon, without a feeling of remorse on the sacrilege
they have committed.
How careless are children in their school-days of the sacred volume which
contains the word of God to His creatures. Such improper uses, I might say
abuses, of that Holy Book, would draw upon them the censure of a people
who have not benefited by the contents, but who nevertheless respect the
volume purely because it speaks the word 'of that God whom they worship'.
'Mayndhie' (A shrub).--The mayndhie and its uses have been so fully
explained in the letters on Mahurrum, that I shall here merely remark,
that the shrub is of quick growth, nearly resembling the small-leafed
myrtle; the Natives make hedge-rows of it in their grounds, the blossom is
very simple, and the shrub itself hardy: the dye is permanent.
'Sulmah.'--A prepared permanent black dye, from antimony. This is used
with hair-pencils to the circle of the eye at the root of the eye-lashes
by the Native ladies and often by gentlemen, and is deemed both of service
to the sight and an ornament to the person. It certainly gives the
appearance of large eyes, if there can be any beauty in altering the
natural countenance, which is an absurd idea, in my opinion. Nature is
perfect in all her works; and whatever best accords with each feature of a
countenance I think she best determines; I am sure that no attempt to
disguise or alter Nature in the human face ever yet succeeded, independent
of the presumption in venturing to improve that which in His wisdom, the
Creator has deemed sufficient.
It would occupy my pages beyond the limits I can conveniently spare to the
subject, were I to pursue remarks on the popular cries of a Native city to
their fullest extent; scarcely any article that is vended at the bazaars,
but is also hawked about the streets. This is a measure of necessity
growing out of the state of Mussulmaun society, by which the females are
enabled to purchase at their own doors all that can be absolutely
requisite for domestic purposes, without the obligation of sending to the
markets or the shops, when either not convenient, or not agreeable. And
the better to aid both purchasers and venders, these hawkers pronounce
their several articles for sale, with voices that cannot fail to impress
the inhabitants enclosed within high walls, with a full knowledge of the
articles proclaimed without need of interpreters.
 See pp. 57, 173, 174.
 The fat of meat is never eaten by the Natives, who view our joints
of meat with astonishment, bordering on disgust. [_Author_.]
 Many Hindoostaunie dishes require the meat to be finely minced.
 Known as _gargarasaz_.
: Cowries are small shells imported from the Eastern isles, which pass
in India as current coin, their value fluctuating with the price of
corn, from, sixty to ninety for one pice. [_Author_.]
 _Sipiwala gila sukha_.
 _Jonk_, a leech; _kira_, a worm, _laganewali_.
 _Kan saf karnewala_: more usually _Kanmailiya,
kan_, the ear; _maila_, dirt.
 _Gota, chandni bikau_, silver lace to sell! The dealer is
_Gota, kinari farosh_.
 _Tel ka acharwala_.
 _Abrak_, talc.
 _Tar_, the palmyra palm.
 _Tarkari, mewa_.
 _Chitra_, spotted, speckled.
 Quicksilver is used by Native physicians as the first of alternative
 Being considered to be like snakes.
 _Rohu_, a kind of carp, _Labeo rohita_.
 _Bulbul, Daulias hafizi_, the true Persian nightingale.
 _Sabza, sabzak_, green bird, usually a jay, _coracias_.
 A shrike, one of the _laniadae_.
 _Maina_, a starling, _Aeridotheres tristis_.
 The black cuckoo, _Eudynamys orientalis_.
 The note of the bird at night, detested by Anglo-Indians, gives it
the name of the brain-fever bird.
 _Lal, Estrelda amandava_, the avadavat, is so called because it
was brought to Europe from Ahmadabad.
 _Atishbazi_, fire-play.
 Holi, the spring festival of the Hindus, at which bonfires are
lighted, coloured water thrown about, and much obscenity is practiced.
 See p. 161.
 _Chabena, chabeni_, what is munched or chewed (_chabna_).
 _Tamashawala: tamashabin_, a spectator of wonders.
 'Mr. Secretary.'
 It is generally believed snakes do not live apart from their species;
if one is destroyed in a house, a second is anticipated and generally
 _Dastur, dasturi_, the percentage appropriated on purchase
 _Saiqalgar_, corrupted into _sikligar_, a polisher.
 _Dahi khatai_. There is no mystery about the preparation.
Milk is boiled and soured by being poured into an earthen vessel in
which curds have previously been kept. Sometimes, but less frequently,
an acid or rennet is added to precipitate the solid ingredients of the
 _Roshanai_, 'brightness', made of lampblack, gum-arabic, and
aloe juice. Elaborate prescriptions are given by Jaffur Shurreef
(_Qanoon-e-Islam_ 150 f.).
 Lithography and printing are now commonly done by natives.
 Letters usually begin with, the invocation,
_Bi'-smi'illahi'r-rahmani'r-rahim_, 'In the name of Allah,
the Compassionate, the Merciful.' The monogram 'I' is often
substituted, as being the initial of Allah, and the first letter of
 If the Koran were wrapped in a skin and thrown into fire, it would
not burn, say the Traditions (Hughes, _Dictionary of Islam_, 521).
Compare the care taken by the Chinese to save paper on which writing
appears (J.H. Gray, _China_, i. 178).
 _Surma_, a black ore of antimony, a tersulphide found in the
Panjab, often confused by natives with galena, and most of that
sold in bazars is really galena. It is used as a tonic to the nerves
of the eye, and to strengthen the sight.
Seclusion of Females.--Paadshah Begum.--The Suwaarree.--Female
Bearers.--Eunuchs.--Rutts.--Partiality of the Ladies to Large
retinues.--Female Companions.--Telling the Khaunie.--Games of the
Zeenahnah.--Shampooing.--The Punkah.--Slaves and
slavery.--Anecdote.--The Persian Poets.--Fierdowsee.--Saadie, his
Kaaloob'.--Different manner of pronouncing Scripture names...Page 248
The strict seclusion which forms so conspicuous a feature in the female
society of the Mussulmauns in India, renders the temporary migration of
ladies from their domicile an event of great interest to each individual
of the zeenahnah, whether the mistress or her many dependants be
The superior classes seldom quit their habitation but on the most
important occasions; they, therefore, make it a matter of necessity to
move out in such style as is most likely to proclaim their exalted station
in life. I cannot, perhaps, explain this part of my subject better than by
giving a brief description of the suwaarree (travelling retinue) of the
Paadshah Begum which passed my house at Lucknow on the occasion of her
visit to the Durgah of Huzerut Abas Ali Kee, after several years strictly
confining herself to the palace.
By Paadshah is meant 'King';--Begum, 'Lady.' The first wife of the King is
distinguished by this title from every other he may have married; it is
equivalent to that of 'Queen' in other countries. With this title the
Paadshah Begum enjoys also many other marks of royal distinction; as, for
instance, the dunkah (kettle-drums) preceding her suwaarree; a privilege,
I believe, never allowed by the King to any other female of his family.
The embroidered chattah (umbrella); the afthaadah (embroidered sun); and
chowries of the peacock's feathers, are also out-of-door distinctions
allowed only to this lady and the members of the royal family. But to my
First, in the Paadshah Begum's suwaarree I observed a guard of cavalry
soldiers in full dress, with their colours unfurled; these were followed
by two battalions of infantry, with their bands of music and colours. A
company of spearmen on foot, in neat white dresses and turbans, their
spears of silver, rich and massive. Thirty-six men in white dresses and
turbans, each having a small triangular flag of crimson silk, on which
were embroidered the royal arms (two fish and a dirk of a peculiar shape).
The staffs of these flags are of silver, about three feet long; in the
lower part of the handle a small bayonet is secreted, which can be
produced at will by pressure on a secret spring. Next followed a full band
of music, drums, fifes, &c.; then the important dunkah, which announces to
the public the lady's rank: she is enclosed within the elevated towering
chundole, on each side of which the afthaadah and chowries are carried by
well-dressed men, generally confidential servants, appointed to this
The chundole is a conveyance resembling a palankeen, but much larger and
more lofty; it is, in fact, a small silver room, six feet long, five broad,
and four feet high, supported by the aid of four silver poles on the
shoulders of twenty bearers. These bearers are relieved every quarter of a
mile by a second set in attendance: the two sets change alternately to the
end of the journey. The bearers are dressed in a handsome royal livery of
white calico made to sit close to the person; over which are worn scarlet
loose coats of fine English broad-cloth, edged and bordered with gold
embroidery: on the back of the coat a fish is embroidered in gold. Their
turbans correspond in colour with the coats; on the front of the turban is
fixed diagonally a fish of wrought gold, to the tail of which a rich gold
tassel is attached; this readies to the shoulder of the bearer, and gives
a remarkable air of grandeur to the person.
The chundole is surrounded by very powerful women bearers, whose business
it is to convey the vehicle within the compound (court-yard) of the
private apartments, or wherever men are not admitted at the same time with
females. Chobdhaars and soota-badhaars walk near the chundole carrying
gold and silver staffs or wands, and vociferating the rank and honours of
the lady they attend with loud voices the whole way to and from the Durgah.
These men likewise keep off the crowds of beggars attracted on such
occasions by the known liberality of the ladies, who, according to
established custom, make distributions to a large amount, which are
scattered amongst the populace by several of the Queen's eunuchs, who walk
near the chundole for that purpose.
The chief of the eunuchs followed the Queen's chundole on an elephant,
seated in a gold howdah; the trappings of which were of velvet, richly
embroidered in gold; the eunuch very elegantly dressed in a suit of
gold-cloth, a brilliant turban, and attired in expensive shawls. After the
eunuch, follow the Paadshah Begum's ladies of quality, in covered
palankeens, each taking precedence according to the station or the favour
she may enjoy; they are well guarded by soldiers, spearmen, and chobdhaars.
Next in the train, follow the several officers of the Queen's household,
on elephants, richly caparisoned. And, lastly, the women of inferior rank
and female slaves, in rutts (covered carriages) such as are in general use
throughout India. These rutts are drawn by bullocks, having bells of a
small size strung round their neck, which as they move have a novel and
not unpleasing sound, from the variety of tones produced. The rutt is a
broad-wheeled carriage, the body and roof forming two cones, one smaller
than the other, covered with scarlet cloth, edged, fringed, and bordered
with gold or amber silk trimmings. The persons riding in rutts are seated
on cushions placed flat on the surface of the carriage (the Asiatic style
of sitting at all times) and not on raised seats, the usual custom in
Europe. The entrance to these rutts is from the front, like the tilted
carts of England, where a thick curtain of corresponding colour and
material conceals the inmates from the public gaze; a small space is left
between this curtain and the driver, where one or two women servants are
seated as guards, who are privileged by age and ugliness to indulge in the
liberty of seeing the passing gaiety, and of enjoying, without a screen,
the pure air; benefits which their superiors in rank are excluded from at
In the Paadshah Begum's suwaarree, I counted fifty of these Native
carriages, into each of which from four to six females are usually crowded,
comprising the members of the household establishment of the great lady;
such as companions, readers of the Khoraum, kaawauses (the higher
classes of female-slaves), muggalanie (needle-women), &c. This will
give you a tolerable idea of the number and variety of females attached to
the suite of a lady of consequence in India. The procession, at a walking
pace, occupied nearly half an hour in passing the road opposite to my
house: it was well conducted, and the effect imposing, both from its
novelty and splendour.
A lady here would be the most unhappy creature existing, unless surrounded
by a multitude of attendants suitable to her rank in life. They have often
expressed surprise and astonishment at my want of taste in keeping only
two women servants in my employ, and having neither a companion nor a
slave in my whole establishment; they cannot imagine anything so stupid as
my preference to a quiet study, rather than the constant bustle of a
Many of the Mussulmaun ladies entertain women companions, whose chief
business is to tell stories and fables to their employer, while she is
composing herself to sleep; many of their tales partake of the romantic
cast which characterizes the well-remembered 'Arabian Nights'
Entertainments', one story begetting another to the end of the collection.
When the lady is fairly asleep the story is stayed, and the companion
resumes her employment when the next nap is sought by her mistress.
Amongst the higher classes the males also indulge in the same practice of
being talked to sleep by their men slaves; and it is a certain
introduction with either sex to the favour of their employer, when one of
these dependants has acquired the happy art of 'telling the khaunie'
(fable) with an agreeable voice and manner. The more they embellish a tale
by flights of their versatile imaginations, so much greater the merit of
the rehearser in the opinion of the listeners.
The inmates of zeenahnahs occasionally indulge in games of chance: their
dice are called chowsah (four sides), or chuhsah (six sides); these
dice are about four inches long and half an inch thick on every side,
numbered much in the same way as the European dice. They are thrown by the
hand, not from boxes, and fall lengthways.
They have many different games which I never learned, disliking such modes
of trifling away valuable time; I am not, therefore, prepared to describe
them accurately. One of their games has a resemblance to draughts, and is
played on a chequered cloth carpet, with red and white ivory cones.
They have also circular cards, six suits to a pack, very neatly painted,
with which they play many (to me) indescribable games; but oftener, to
their credit be it said, for amusement than for gain. The gentlemen,
however, are not always equally disinterested; they frequently play for
large sums of money. I do not, however, find the habit so general with the
Natives as it is with Europeans. The religious community deem all games of
chance unholy, and therefore incompatible with their mode of living. I am
not aware that gaming is prohibited by their law in a direct way, but
all practices tending to covetousness are strictly forbidden; and, surely,
those who can touch the money called 'winnings' at any game, must be more
or less exposed to the accusation of desiring other men's goods.
Shampooing has been so often described as to leave little by way of
novelty for me to remark on the subject; it is a general indulgence with
all classes in India, whatever may be their age or circumstances. The
comfort derived from the pressure of the hands on the limbs, by a clever
shampooer, is alone to be estimated by those who have experienced the
benefits derived from this luxurious habit, in a climate where such
indulgences are needed to assist in creating a free circulation of the
blood, which is very seldom induced by exercise as in more Northern
latitudes. Persons of rank are shampooed by their slaves during the hours
of sleep, whether it be by day or by night; if through any accidental
circumstance the pressure is discontinued, even for a few seconds only,
the sleep is immediately broken: such is the power of habit.
The punkah (fan) is in constant use by day and night, during eight months
of the year. In the houses of the Natives, the slaves have ample
employment in administering to the several indulgences which their ladies
require at their hands; for with them fixed punkahs have not been
introduced into the zeenahnah: the only punkah in their apartments is
moved by the hand, immediately over or in front of the person for whose
use it is designed. In the gentlemen's apartments, however, and in the
houses of all Europeans, punkahs are suspended from the ceiling, to which
a rope is fastened and passed through an aperture in the wall into the
verandah, where a man is seated who keeps it constantly waving, by pulling
the rope, so that the largest rooms, and even churches, are filled with
wind, to the great comfort of all present.
The female slaves, although constantly required about the lady's person,
are nevertheless tenderly treated, and have every proper indulgence
afforded them. They discharge in rotation the required duties of their
stations, and appear as much the objects of the lady's care as any other
people in her establishment. Slavery with them is without severity; and in
the existing state of Mussulmaun society, they declare the women slaves to
be necessary appendages to their rank and respectability. The liberal
proprietors of slaves give them suitable matches in marriage when they
have arrived at a proper age, and even foster their children with the
greatest care; often granting them a salary, and sometimes their freedom,
if required to make them happy. Indeed, generally speaking the slaves in a
Mussulmaun's house must be vicious and unworthy, who are not considered
members of the family.
It is an indisputable fact that the welfare of their slaves is an object
of unceasing interest with their owners, if they are really good
Mussulmauns; indeed, it is second only to the regard which they manifest
to their own children.
Many persons have been known, in making their will, to decree the liberty
of their slaves. They are not, however, always willing to accept the boon.
'To whom shall I go?'--'Where shall I meet a home like my master's house?'
are appeals that endear the slave to the survivors of the first proprietor,
and prove that their bondage has not been a very painful one. It is an
amiable trait of character amongst the Mussulmauns, with whom I have been
intimate, and which I can never forget, that the dependence of their
slaves is made easy; that they enjoy every comfort compatible with their
station; and that their health, morals, clothing, and general happiness,
are as much attended to as that of their own relatives. But slavery is a
harsh term between man and man, and however mitigated its state, is still
degrading to him. I heartily trust there will be a time when this badge of
disgrace shall be wiped away from every human being. He that made man,
designed him for higher purposes than to be the slave of his fellow-mortal;
but I should be unjust to the people of India, if I did not remark, that
having the uncontrolled power in their hands, they abstain from the
exercise of any such severity as has disgraced the owners of slaves in
other places, where even the laws have failed to protect them from cruelty
and oppression. Indeed, wherever an instance has occurred of unfeeling
conduct towards these helpless beings, the most marked detestation has
invariably been evinced towards the authors by the real Mussulmaun.
I have heard of a very beautiful female slave who had been fostered by a
Native lady of high rank, from her infancy. In the course of time, this
female had arrived to the honour of being made the companion of her young
master, still, however, by her Begum's consent, residing with her lady,
who was much attached to her. The freedom of intercourse, occasioned by
the slave's exaltation, had the effect of lessening the young creature's
former respect for her still kind mistress, to whom she evinced some
ungrateful returns for the many indulgences she had through life received
at her hands. The exact nature of her offences I never heard, but it was
deemed requisite, for the sake of example in a house where some hundreds
of female slaves were maintained, that the lady should adopt some such
method of testifying her displeasure towards this pretty favourite, as
would be consistent with her present elevated station. A stout silver
chain was therefore made, by the Begum's orders, and with this the slave
was linked to her bedstead a certain number of hours every day, in the
view of the whole congregated family of slaves. This punishment would be
felt as a degradation by the slave; not the confinement to her bedstead,
where she would perhaps have seated herself from choice, had she not been
'Once a slave, and always a slave,' says Fierdowsee the great poet of
Persia; but this apophthegm was in allusion to the 'mean mind' of the King
who treated him scurvily after his immense labour in that noble work, 'The
Shah Namah.' I have a sketch of Fierdowsee's life, which my husband
translated for me; but I must forbear giving it here, as I have heard the
whole work itself is undergoing a translation by an able Oriental scholar,
who will doubtless do justice both to 'The Shah Namah' and the character
of Fierdowsee, who is in so great estimation with the learned Asiatics.
The Mussulmauns quote their favourite poets with much the same freedom
that the more enlightened nations are wont to use with their famed authors.
The moral precepts of Saadie are often introduced with good effect,
both in writing and speaking, as beacons to the inexperienced.
Haafiz has benefited the Mussulmaun world by bright effusions of
genius, which speak to successive generations the wonders of his
extraordinary mind. He was a poet of great merit; his style is esteemed
superior to the writers of any other age; and, notwithstanding the world
is rich with the beauties of his almost inspired mind, yet, strange as it
may appear, he never compiled a single volume. Even in the age in which he
lived his merit as a poet was in great estimation; but he never thought of
either benefit or amusement to the world or to himself beyond the present
time. He wrote the thoughts of his inspired moments on pieces of broken
pitchers or pans, with charcoal; some of his admirers were sure to follow
his footsteps narrowly, and to their vigilance in securing those scraps
strewed about, wherever Haafiz had made his sojourn, may to this day be
ascribed the benefit derived by the public from his superior writings.
Saadie, however, is the standard favourite of all good Mussulmauns; his
'Goolistaun' (Garden of Roses), is placed in the hands of every youth
when consigned to the dominion of a master, as being the most worthy book
in the Persian language for his study, whether the beauty of his diction
or the morality of his subjects be considered.
The 'Hyaatool Kaaloob' (Enlightener of the Heart), is another Persian
work, in prose, by Mirza Mahumud Baakur, greatly esteemed by the learned
Mussulmauns. This work contains the life and acts of every known prophet
from the Creation, including also Mahumud and the twelve Emaums. The
learned Maulvee, it appears, first wrote it in the Arabic language, but
afterwards translated it into Persian, with the praiseworthy motive of
rendering his invaluable work available to those Mussulmauns who were not
acquainted with Arabic.
I have some extracts from this voluminous work, translated for me by my
husband, which interested me on account of the great similarity to our
Scripture history; and if permitted at some future time, I propose
offering them to the public in our own language, conceiving they may be as
interesting to others as they have been to me.
The Persian and Arabic authors, I have remarked, substitute Y for J in
Scripture names; for instance, Jacob and Joseph are pronounced Yaacoob and
Yeusuf. They also differ from us in some names commencing with A, as
in Abba, which they pronounce Ubba (Father); for Amen, they say Aameen
(the meaning strictly coinciding with ours); for Aaron, Aaroon; for Moses,
Moosa. I am told by those who are intimate with both languages, that
there is a great similarity between the Hebrew and Arabic. The passage in
our Scripture 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabaethani,' was interpreted to me by an
Arabic scholar, as it is rendered in that well-remembered verse in the
 The Padshah Begam was the widow of Ghazi-ud-din Haidar,
King of Oudh. On his death, in 1837, she contrived a plot to place his
putative son, Munna Jan, on the throne. After a fierce struggle in
the palace, the revolt was suppressed by the Resident, Colonel Low,
and his assistants, Captains Paton and Shakespear. The pair were
confined in the Chunar Fort till their deaths. See the graphic
narrative by Gen. Sleeman (_Journey Through Oudh_, ii. 172 ff.); also
H.C. Irwin (_The Garden of India_, 127 f.); Mrs. F. Parks (_Wanderings
of a Pilgrim_, ii. 114).
 _Khawass_, 'distinguished': special attendants.
 _Mughlani_, a Moghul woman: an attendant in a zenana, a
 _Chausa, chhahsa_, not to be found in Platt's _Hindustani
 The game of Pachisi, played on a cloth marked in squares: see
_Bombay Gazetteer_, ix, part ii, 173.
 Gambling is one of the greater sins.--Sale, _Koran: Preliminary
Discourse_, 89; Sells, _Faith of Islam_, 155.
 Fixed punkahs were introduced early in the nineteenth century.--Yule,
 Firdausi, author of the Shahnama, died A.D. 1020 or 1025,
aged 89 years. An abridged translation, to which reference is made, by
J. Atkinson, was published in 1832. It has since been translated by
A.G. and E. Warner (1905), and by A. Rogers (1907).
 Shaikh Sa'di, born at Shiraz A.D. 1175, died 1292, aged 120
lunar years. His chief works are the _Gulistan_ and the _Bostan_.
 Khwaja Hafiz, Shams-ud-din Muhammad, author of the
Diwan Hafiz, died at Shiraz A.D. 1389, where his tomb at
Musalla is the scene of pilgrimage; see E.G. Browne, _A Year amongst
the Persians_, 280 f.
 See p. 77.
 Ya'qub, Yusuf.
 Harun, Musa.
Evils attending a residence in India.--Frogs.--Flies.--Blains.--
Musquitoes.--The White Ant.--The Red Ant.--Their destructive
habits.--A Tarantula.--Black Ants.--Locusts.--Superstition of the
Natives upon their appearance.--The Tufaun, or Haundhie
(tempest).--The rainy season.--Thunder and lightning.--Meteors.--
Earthquakes.--A city ruined by them.--Reverence of the Mussulmauns
for saints.--Prickly heat.--Cholera Morbus.--Mode of
Treatment.--Temperance the best remedy.--Recipe.
A residence in India, productive as it may be (to many) of pecuniary
benefits, presents, however, a few inconveniences to Europeans independent
of climate,--which, in the absence of more severe trials, frequently
become a source of disquiet, until habit has reconciled, or reflection
disposed the mind to receive the mixture of evil and good which is the
common lot of man in every situation of life. I might moralise on the duty
of intelligent beings suffering patiently those trials which human
ingenuity cannot avert, even if this world's happiness were the only
advantage to be gained; but when we reflect on the account we have to give
hereafter, for every thought, word, or action, I am induced to believe,
the well-regulated mind must view with dismay a retrospect of the past
murmurings of which it has been guilty. But I must bring into view the
trials of patience which our countrymen meet while in India, to those who
have neither witnessed nor [Transcriber's note: illegible] them; many of
them present slight, but living, op[Transcriber's note: illegible] those
evils with which the Egyptians were visited for their impiety to Heaven.
Frogs, for instance, harmless as these creatures are in their nature,
occasion no slight inconvenience to the inhabitants of India. They enter
their house in great numbers and, without much care, would make their way
to the beds, as they do to the chambers; the croaking during the rainy
season is almost deafening, particularly towards the evening and during
the night. Before the morning has well dawned, these creatures creep into
every open doorway, and throughout the day secrete themselves under the
edges of mattings and carpets, to the annoyance of those who have an
antipathy to these unsightly looking creatures.
The myriads of flies which fill the rooms, and try the patience of every
observer of nice order in an English establishment, may bear some likeness
to the plague which was inflicted on Pharaoh and his people, as a
punishment for their hardness of heart. The flies of India have a property
not common to those of Europe, but very similar to the green fly of Spain:
when bruised, they will raise a blister on the skin, and, I am told, are
frequently made use of by medical gentlemen as a substitute for the
If but one wing or leg of a fly is by any accident dropped into the food
of an individual, and swallowed, the consequence is an immediate
irritation of the stomach, answering the purpose of a powerful emetic. At
meals the flies are a pest, which most people say they abhor, knowing the
consequences of an unlucky admission into the stomach of the smallest
particle of the insect. Their numbers exceed all calculation; the table is
actually darkened by the myriads, particularly in the season of the
periodical rains. The Natives of India use muslin curtains suspended from
the ceiling of their hall at meal times, which are made very full and long,
so as to enclose the whole dinner party and exclude their tormentors.
The biles or blains, which all classes of people in India are subject to,
may be counted as amongst the catalogue of Pharaoh's plagues. The most
healthy and the most delicate, whether Europeans or Natives, are equally
liable to be visited by these eruptions, which are of a painful and
tedious nature. The causes inducing these biles no one, as yet, I believe,
has been able to discover, and therefore a preventive has not been found.
I have known people who have suffered every year from these attacks, with
scarce a day's intermission during the hot weather.
The musquitoes, a species of gnat, tries the patience of the public in no
very measured degree; their malignant sting is painful, and their attacks
incessant; against which there is no remedy but patience, and a good gauze
curtain to the beds. Without some such barrier, foreigners could hardly
exist; certainly they never could enjoy a night's repose. Even the mere
buzzing of musquitoes is a source of much annoyance to Europeans: I have
heard many declare the bite was not half so distressing as the sound. The
Natives, both male and female, habitually wrap themselves up so entirely
in their chuddah (sheet) that they escape from these voracious insects,
whose sounds are so familiar to them that it may be presumed they lull to,
rather than disturb their sleep.
The white ant is a cruel destroyer of goods: where it has once made its
domicile, a real misfortune may be considered to have visited the house.
They are the most destructive little insects in the world doing as much
injury in one hour as a man might labour through a long life to redeem.
These ants, it would seem, have no small share of animosity to ladies'
finery, for many a wardrobe have they demolished, well filled with
valuable dresses and millinery, before their vicinity has even been
suspected, or their traces discovered. They destroy beams in the roofs of
houses, chests of valuable papers, carpets, mats, and furniture, with a
dispatch which renders them the most formidable of enemies, although to
appearance but a mean little insect.
There is one season of the year when they take flight, having four
beautiful transparent wings; this occurs during the periodical rains, when
they are attracted by the lights of the houses, which they enter in
countless numbers, filling the tables, and whilst flitting before the
lights disencumber themselves of their wings. They then become, to
appearance, a fat maggot, and make their way to the floors and walls,
where it is supposed they secrete themselves for a season, and are
increasing in numbers whilst in this stage of existence. At the period of
their migration in search of food, they will devour any perishable
materials within their reach. It is probable, however, that they first
send out scouts to discover food for the family, for the traces of white
ants are discovered by a sort of clay-covered passage, formed as they
proceed on their march in almost a direct line, which often extends a
great distance from their nest.
To mark the economy of ants has sometimes formed a part of my amusements
in Hindoostaun. I find they all have wings at certain seasons of the
year; and more industrious little creatures cannot exist than the small
red ants, which are so abundant in India. I have watched them at their
labours for hours without tiring; they are so small that from eight to
twelve in number labour with great difficulty to convey a grain of wheat
or barley; yet these are not more than half the size of a grain of English
wheat. I have known them to carry one of these grains to their nest at a
distance of from six hundred to a thousand yards; they travel in two
distinct lines over rough or smooth ground, as it may happen, even up and
down steps, at one regular pace. The returning unladen ants invariably
salute the burthened ones, who are making their way to the general
storehouse; but it is done so promptly that the line is neither broken nor
their progress impeded by the salutation.
I was surprised one morning in my breakfast parlour to discover something
moving slowly up the wall; on approaching near to examine what it was, I
discovered a dead wasp, which the khidmutghar (footman) had destroyed
with his chowrie during breakfast, and which, falling on the floor, had
become the prize of my little friends (a vast multitude), who were
labouring with their tiny strength to convey it to their nest in the
ceiling. The weight was either too great, or they had quarrelled over the
burthen,--I know not which,--but the wasp fell to the ground when they had
made more than half the journey of the wall; the courageous little
creatures, however, were nothing daunted, they resumed their labour, and
before evening their prize was safely housed.
These ants are particularly fond of animal food. I once caught a tarantula;
it was evening, and I wished to examine it by daylight. I placed it for
this purpose in a recess of the wall, under a tumbler, leaving just
breathing room. In the morning I went to examine my curiosity, when to my
surprise it was dead and swarming with red ants, who had been its
destroyers, and were busily engaged in making a feast on the (to them)
huge carcass of the tarantula.
These small creatures often prove a great annoyance by their nocturnal
visits to the beds of individuals, unless the precaution be taken of
having brass vessels, filled with water, to each of the bed-feet; the only
method of effectually preventing their approach to the beds. I was once
much annoyed by a visit from these bold insects, when reclining on a couch
during the extreme heat of the day. I awoke by an uneasy sensation from
their bite or sting about my ears and face, and found they had assembled
by millions on my head; the bath was my immediate resource. The Natives
tell me these little pests will feed on the human body if they are not
disturbed: when any one is sick there is always great anxiety to keep them
The large black ant is also an enemy to man; its sharp pincers inflict
wounds of no trifling consequence; it is much larger than the common fly,
has long legs, is swift of foot, and feeds chiefly on animal substances. I
fancy all the ant species are more or less carnivorous, but strictly
epicurean in their choice of food, avoiding tainted or decomposed
substances with the nicest discrimination. Sweetmeats are alluring to them;
there is also some difficulty in keeping them from jars of sugar or
preserves; and when swallowed in food, are the cause of much personal
I have often witnessed the Hindoos, male and female, depositing small
portions of sugar near ants' nests, as acts of charity to commence the day
with; and it is the common opinion with the Natives generally, that
wherever the red ants colonize prosperity attends the owners of that house.
They destroy the white ants, though the difference in their size is as a
grain of sand to a barley-corn; and on that account only may be viewed
rather as friends than enemies to man, provided by the same Divine source
from whence all other benefits proceed.
The locusts, so familiar by name to the readers of Scripture, are here
seen to advantage in their occasional visits. I had, however, been some
years in India before I was gratified by the sight of these wonderful
insects; not because of their rarity, as I had frequently heard of their
appearance and ravages, but not immediately in the place where I was
residing, until the year 1825, which the following memorandum made at the
time will describe.
On the third of July, between four and five o'clock in the afternoon, I
observed a dusky brown cloud bordering the Eastern horizon, at the
distance of about four miles from my house, which stands on an elevated
situation; the colour was so unusual that I resolved on inquiring from my
oracle, Meer Hadjee Shaah, to whom I generally applied for elucidations of
the remarkable, what such an appearance portended. He informed me it was a
flight of locusts.
I had long felt anxious to witness those insects, that had been the food
of St. John in the Desert, and which are so familiar by name from their
frequent mention in Scripture; and now that I was about to be gratified, I
am not ashamed to confess my heart bounded with delight, yet with an
occasional feeling of sympathy for the poor people, whose property would
probably become the prey of this devouring cloud of insects before the
morning's dawn. Long before they had time to advance, I was seated in an
open space in the shade of my house to watch them more minutely. The first
sound I could distinguish was as the gentlest breeze, increasing as the
living cloud approached; and as they moved over my head, the sound was
like the rustling of the wind through the foliage of many pepul-trees.
It was with a feeling of gratitude that I mentally thanked God at the time
that they were a stingless body of insects, and that I could look on them
without the slightest apprehension of injury. Had this wondrous cloud of
insects been the promised locust described in the Apocalypse, which shall
follow the fifth angel's trumpet; had they been hornets, wasps, or even
the little venomous musquito, I had not then dared to retain my position
to watch with eager eyes the progress of this insect family as they
advanced, spreading for miles on every side with something approaching the
sublime, and presenting a most imposing spectacle. So steady and orderly
was their pace, having neither confusion nor disorder in their line of
march through the air, that I could not help comparing them to the
well-trained horses of the English cavalry. 'Who gave them this order
in their flight?' was in my heart and on my tongue.
I think the main body of this army of locusts must have occupied thirty
minutes in passing over my head, but my attention was too deeply engrossed
to afford me time to consult my time-piece. Stragglers there were many,
separated from the flight by the noises made by the servants and people to
deter them from settling; some were caught, and, no doubt, converted into
currie for a Mussulmaun's meal. They say it is no common delicacy, and is
ranked among the allowed animal food.
The Natives anticipate earthquakes after the visitation or appearance of
locusts. They are said to generate in mountains, but I cannot find any one
here able to give me an authentic account of their natural history.
On the 18th of September, 1825, another flight of these wonderful insects
passed over my house in exactly a contrary direction from those which
appeared in July, viz. from the West towards the East. The idea struck me
that they might be the same swarm, returning after fulfilling the object
of their visit to the West: but I have no authority on which to ground my
supposition. The Natives have never made natural history even an amusement,
much less a study, although their habits are purely those of Nature; they
know the property of most herbs, roots, and flowers, which they cultivate,
not for their beauty, but for the benefit they render to man and beast.
I could not learn that the flight had rested anywhere near Futtyghur, at
which place I was then living. They are of all creatures the most
destructive to vegetation, licking with their rough tongue the blades of
grass, the leaves of trees, and green herbage of all kinds. Wherever they
settle for the night, vegetation is completely destroyed; and a day of
mournful consequences is sure to follow their appearance in the poor
farmer's fields of green com.
But that which bears the most awful resemblance to the visitations of God's
wrath on Pharaoh and the Egyptians, is, I think, the frightful storm of
wind which brings thick darkness over the earth at noonday, and which
often occurs from the Tufaun or Haundhie, as it is called by the
Natives. Its approach is first discerned by dark columns of yellow clouds,
bordering the horizon; the alarm is instantly given by the Natives, who
hasten to put out the fires in the kitchens, and close the doors and
windows in European houses, or with the Natives to let down the purdahs.
No sound that can be conceived by persons who have not witnessed this
phenomenon of Nature, is capable of conveying an idea of the tempest. In a
few minutes total darkness is produced by the thick cloud of dust; and the
tremendous rushing wind carries the fine sand, which produces the darkness,
through every cranny and crevice to all parts of the house; so that in the
best secured rooms every article of furniture is covered with sand, and
the room filled as with a dense fog: the person, dresses, furniture, and
the food (if at meal times), are all of one dusky colour; and though
candles are lighted to lessen the horror of the darkness, they only tend
to make the scene of confusion more visible.
Fortunately the tempest is not of very long continuance. I have never
known it to last more than half an hour; yet in that time how much might
have been destroyed of life and property, but for the interposing care of
Divine mercy, whose gracious Providence over the works of His hand is seen
in such seasons as these! The sound of thunder is hailed as a messenger of
peace; the Natives are then aware that the fury of the tempest is spent,
as a few drops of rain indicate a speedy termination; and when it has
subsided they run to see what damage has been done to the premises without.
It often occurs, that trees are torn up by their roots, the thatched
houses and huts unroofed, and, if due care has not been taken to quench
the fires in time, huts and bungalows are frequently found burnt, by the
sparks conveyed in the dense clouds of sand which pass with the rapidity
These tufauns occur generally in April, May, and June, before the
commencement of the periodical rains. I shall never forget the awe I felt
upon witnessing the first after my arrival, nor the gratitude which filled
my heart when the light reappeared. The Natives on such occasions gave me
a bright example: they ceased not in the hour of peril to call on God for
safety and protection; and when refreshed by the return of calm, they
forgot not that their helper was the merciful Being in whom they had
trusted, and to whom they gave praise and thanksgiving.
The rainy season is at first hailed with a delight not easily to be
explained. The long continuance of the hot winds,--during which period
(three months or more) the sky is of the colour of copper, without the
shadow of a cloud to shield the earth from the fiery heat of the sun,
which has, in that time, scorched the earth and its inhabitants, stunted
vegetation, and even affected the very houses--renders the season when the
clouds pour out their welcome moisture a period which is looked forward to
with anxiety, and received with universal joy.
The smell of the earth after the first shower is more dearly loved than
the finest aromatics or the purest otta. Vegetation revives and human
nature exults in the favourable shower. As long as the novelty lasts, and
the benefit is sensibly felt, all seem to rejoice; but when the intervals
of clouds without rain occur, and send forth, as they separate, the bright
glare untempered by a passing breeze, poor weak human nature is too apt to
revolt against the season they cannot control, and sometimes a murmuring
voice is heard to cry out, 'Oh, when will the rainy season end!'
The thunder and lightning during the rainy season are beyond my ability to
describe. The loud peals of thunder roll for several minutes in succession,
magnificently, awfully grand. The lightning is proportionably vivid, yet
with fewer instances of conveying the electric fluid to houses than might
be expected when the combustible nature of the roofs is considered; the
chief of which are thatched with coarse dry grass. The casualties are by
no means frequent; and although trees surround most of the dwellings, yet
we seldom hear of any injury by lightning befalling them or their
habitations. Fiery meteors frequently fall; one within my recollection was
a superb phenomenon, and was visible for several seconds.
The shocks from earthquakes are frequently felt in the Upper Provinces of
India; I was sensible of the motion on one occasion (rather a severe
one), for at least twenty seconds. The effect on me, however, was attended
with no inconvenience beyond a sensation of giddiness, as if on board ship
in a calm, when the vessel rolls from side to side.
At Kannoge, now little more than a village in population, between Cawnpore
and Futtyghur, I have rambled amongst the ruins of what formerly was an
immense city, but which was overturned by an earthquake some centuries
past. At the present period numerous relics of antiquity, as coins, jewels,
&c., are occasionally discovered, particularly after the rains, when the
torrents break down fragments of the ruins, and carry with the streams of
water the long-buried mementos of the riches of former generations to the
profit of the researching villagers, and to the gratification of curious
travellers, who generally prove willing purchasers.
I propose giving in another letter the remarks I was led to make on
Kannoge during my pleasant sojourn in that retired situation, as it
possesses many singular antiquities and contains the ashes of many holy
Mussulmaun saints. The Mussulmauns, I may here observe, reverence the
memory of the good and the pious of all persuasions, but more particularly
those of their own faith. I have sketches of the lives and actions of many
of their sainted characters, received through the medium of my husband and
his most amiable father, that are both amusing and instructive; and
notwithstanding their particular faith be not in accordance with our own,
it is only an act of justice to admit, that they were men who lived in the
fear of God, and obeyed his commandments according to the instruction they
had received; and which, I hope, may prove agreeable to my readers when
they come to those pages I have set apart for such articles.
My catalogue of the trying circumstances attached to the comforts which
are to be met with in India are nearly brought to a close; but I must not
omit mentioning one 'blessing in disguise' which occurs annually, and
which affects Natives and Europeans indiscriminately, during the hot winds
and the rainy season: the name of this common visitor is, by Europeans,
called 'the prickly heat'; by Natives it is denominated 'Gurhum dahnie'
(warm rash). It is a painful irritating rash, often spreading over the
whole body, mostly prevailing, however, wherever the clothes screen the
body from the power of the air; we rarely find it on the hands or face. I
suppose it to be induced by excessive perspiration, more particularly as
those persons who are deficient in this freedom of the pores, so essential
to healthiness, are not liable to be distressed by the rash; but then they
suffer more severely in their constitution by many other painful attacks
of fever, &c. So greatly is this rash esteemed the harbinger of good
health, that they say in India, 'the person so afflicted has received his
life-lease for the year'; and wherever it does not make its appearance, a
sort of apprehension is entertained of some latent illness.
Children suffer exceedingly from the irritation, which to scratch is
dangerous. In Native nurseries I have seen applications used of pounded
sandal-wood, camphor, and rose-water; with the peasantry a cooling earth,
called mooltanie mittee, similar to our fuller's-earth, is moistened
with water and plastered over the back and stomach, or wherever the rash
mostly prevails; all this is but a temporary relief, for as soon as it is
dry, the irritation and burning are as bad as ever.
The best remedy I have met with, beyond patient endurance of the evil, is
bathing in rain-water, which soothes the violent sensations, and
eventually cools the body. Those people who indulge most in the good
things of this life are the greatest sufferers by this annual attack. The
benefits attending temperance are sure to bring an ample reward to the
possessors of that virtue under all circumstances, but in India more
particularly; I have invariably observed the most abstemious people are
the least subject to attacks from the prevailing complaints of the country,
whether fever or cholera, and when attacked the most likely subjects to
recover from those alarming disorders.
At this moment of anxious solicitude throughout Europe, when that awful
malady, the cholera, is spreading from city to city with rapid strides,
the observations I have been enabled to make by personal acquaintance with
afflicted subjects in India, may be acceptable to my readers; although I
heartily pray our Heavenly Father may in His goodness and mercy preserve
our country from that awful calamity, which has been so generally fatal in
other parts of the world.
The Natives of India designate cholera by the word 'Hyza', which with them
signifies 'the plague'. By this term, however, they do not mean that
direful disorder so well known to us by the same appellation; as, if I
except the Mussulmaun pilgrims, who have seen, felt, and described its
ravages on their journey to Mecca, that complaint seems to be unknown to
the present race of Native inhabitants of Hindoostaun. The word 'hyza', or
'plague', would be applied by them to all complaints of an epidemic or
contagious nature by which the population were suddenly attacked, and
death ensued. When the cholera first appeared in India (which I believe
was in 1817), it was considered by the Natives a new complaint.
In all cases of irritation of the stomach, disordered bowels, or severe
feverish symptoms, the Mussulmaun doctors strongly urge the adoption of
'starving out the complaint'. This has become a law of Nature with all the
sensible part of the community; and when the cholera first made its
appearance in the Upper Provinces of Hindoostaun, those Natives who
observed their prescribed temperance were, when attacked, most generally
preserved from the fatal consequences of the disorder.
On the very first symptom of cholera occurring in a member of a Mussulmaun
family, a small portion of zahur morah (derived from zahur, poison;
morah, to kill or destroy, and thence understood as an antidote to poison,
some specimens of which I have brought with me to England) moistened with
rosewater, is promptly administered, and, if necessary, repeated at short
intervals; due care being taken to prevent the patient from receiving
anything into the stomach, excepting rosewater, the older the more
efficacious in its property to remove the malady. Wherever zahur morah was
not available, secun-gebeen (syrup of vinegar) was administered with
much the same effect. The person once attacked, although the symptoms
should have subsided by this application, is rigidly deprived of
nourishment for two or three days, and even longer if deemed expedient;
occasionally allowing only a small quantity of rose-water, which they say
effectually removes from the stomach and bowels those corrupt adhesions
which, in their opinion, is the primary cause of the complaint.
The cholera, I observed, seldom attacked abstemious people; when, however,
this was the case, it generally followed a full meal; whether of rice or
bread made but little difference, much I believe depending on the general
habit of the subject; as among the peasantry and their superiors the
complaint raged with equal malignity, wherever a second meal was resorted
to whilst the person had reason to believe the former one had not been
well digested. An instance of this occurred under my own immediate
observation in a woman, the wife of an old and favourite servant. She had
imprudently eaten a second dinner, before her stomach, by her own account,
had digested the preceding meal. She was not a strong woman, but in
tolerable good health; and but a few hours previous to the attack I saw
her in excellent spirits, without the most remote appearance of
indisposition. The usual applications failed of success, and she died in a
few hours. This poor woman never could be persuaded to abstain from food
at the stated period of meals; and the Natives were disposed to conclude
that this had been the actual cause of her sufferings and dissolution.
In 1821 the cholera raged with even greater violence than on its first
appearance in Hindoostaun; by that time many remedies had been suggested,
through the medium of the press, by the philanthropy and skill of European
medical practitioners, the chief of whom recommended calomel in large
doses, from twenty to thirty grains, and opium proportioned to the age and
strength of the patient. I never found the Natives, however, willing to
accept this as a remedy, but I have heard that amongst Europeans it was
practised with success. From a paragraph which I read in the Bengal papers,
I prepared a mixture that I have reason to think, through the goodness of
Divine Providence, was beneficial to many poor people who applied for it
in the early stages of the complaint, and who followed the rule laid down
of complete abstinence, until they were out of danger from a relapse, and
even then for a long time to be cautious in the quantity and digestible
quality of their daily meal. The mixture was as follows:
Brandy, one pint; oil or spirit of peppermint, if the former half an
ounce--if the latter, one ounce; ground black pepper, two ounces; yellow
rind of oranges grated, without any of the white, one ounce; these were
kept closely stopped and occasionally shook, a table-spoonful administered
for each dose, the patient well covered up from the air, and warmth
created by blankets or any other means within their power, repeating the
close as the case required.
Of the many individuals who were attacked with this severe malady in our
house very few died, and those, it was believed, were victims to an
imprudent determination to partake of food before they were
convalescent,--individuals who never could be prevailed on to practise
abstemious habits, which we had good reason for believing was the best
preventive against the complaint during those sickly seasons. The general
opinion entertained both by Natives and Europeans, at those awful periods,
was, that the cholera was conveyed in the air; very few imagined that it
was infectious, as it frequently attacked some members of a family and the
rest escaped, although in close attendance--even such as failed not to pay
the last duties to the deceased according to Mussulmaun custom, which
exposed them more immediately to danger if infection existed;--yet no
fears were ever entertained, nor did I ever hear an opinion expressed
amongst them, that it had been or could be conveyed from one person to
Native children generally escaped the attack, and I never heard of an
infant being in the slightest degree visited by this malady. It is,
however, expedient, to use such precautionary measures as sound sense and
reason may suggest, since wherever the cholera has appeared, it has proved
a national calamity, and not a partial scourge to a few individuals; all
are alike in danger of its consequences, whether the disorder be
considered infectious or not, and therefore the precautions I have urged
in India, amongst the Native communities, I recommend with all humility
here, that cleanliness and abstemious diet be observed among all classes
In accordance with the prescribed antidote to infection from scarlet fever
in England, I gave camphor (to be worn about the person) to the poor in my
vicinity, and to all the Natives over whom I had either influence or
control; I caused the rooms to be frequently fumigated with vinegar or
tobacco, and labaun (frankincense) burnt occasionally. I would not,
however, be so presumptuous to insinuate even that these were preventives
to cholera, yet in such cases of universal terror as the one in question,
there can be no impropriety in recommending measures which cannot injure,
and may benefit, if only by giving a purer atmosphere to the room
inhabited by individuals either in sickness or in health. But above all
things, aware that human aid or skill can never effect a remedy unaided by
the mercy and power of Divine Providence, let our trust be properly placed
in His goodness, 'who giveth medicine to heal our sickness', and humbly
intreat that He may be pleased to avert the awful calamity from our shores
which threatens and disturbs Europe generally at this moment.
Were we to consult Nature rather than inordinate gratifications, we should
find in following her dictates the best security to health at all times,
but more particularly in seasons of prevailing sickness. Upon the first
indications of cholera, I have observed the stomach becomes irritable, the
bowels are attacked by griping pains, and unnatural evacuations; then
follow sensations of faintness, weakness, excessive thirst, the pulse
becomes languid, the surface of the body cold and clammy, whilst the
patient feels inward burning heat, with spasms in the legs and arms.
In the practice of Native doctors, I have noticed that they administer
saffron to alleviate violent sickness with the best possible effect. A
case came under my immediate observation, of a young female who had
suffered from a severe illness similar in every way to the cholera; it was
not, however, suspected to be that complaint, because it was not then
prevailing at Lucknow: after some days the symptoms subsided, excepting
the irritation of her stomach, which, by her father's account, obstinately
rejected everything offered for eleven days. When I saw her, she was
apparently sinking under exhaustion; I immediately tendered the remedy
recommended by my husband, viz. twelve grains of saffron, moistened with a
little rose-water; and found with real joy that it proved efficacious;
half the quantity in doses were twice repeated that night, and in the
morning the patient was enabled to take a little gruel, and in a
reasonable time entirely recovered her usual health and strength.
I have heard of people being frightened into an attack of cholera by
apprehending the evil: this, however, can only occur with very weak minds,
and such as have neglected in prosperity to prepare their hearts for
adversity. When I first reached India, the fear of snakes, which I
expected to find in every path, embittered my existence. This weakness was
effectually corrected by the wise admonitions of Meer Hadjee Shaah, 'If
you trust in God, he will preserve you from every evil; be assured the
snake has no power to wound without permission.'
 The _Cantharis resicatoria_ is imported into India for use in blisters.
But there is a local substitute, _mylabris_, of which there are
several varieties (Watt, _Economic Dictionary_, ii. 128, v. 309).
 The reference is perhaps to what is known as the Dehli Boil, a form
of oriental sore, like the Biskra Button, Aleppo Evil, Lahore and
Multan Sore (Yule, _Hobson-Jobson_, 302); possibly only to
 For a good account of the ways of Indian ants, see M. Thornton,
_Haunts and Hobbies of an Indian Official,_ 2 ff.
 The habit of laying sugar near ants' nests is a piece of fertility
magic, and common to Jains and Vishnu-worshippers; see J. Fryor, _A
New Account of East India and Persia_, Hakluyt Society ed., I, 278.
 _Pipal, Ficus religiosa_.
 An esteemed friend has since referred me to the second chapter of the
prophet Joel, part of the seventh and eighth verses, as a better
 The variety of locust seen in India is _acridium peregrinum_, which is
said to range throughout the arid region from Algeria to N.W. India.
They have extended as far south as the Kistna District of Madras (Watt,
_Economic Dictionary_, VI, part i, 154).
 _Tufan_, storm, _andhi_, darkness.
 Earthquakes tend generally to be more frequent in the regions of
extra-peninsular India, where the rocks have been more recently folded,
than in the more stable Peninsula. Serious earthquakes have occurred
recently in Assam, June, 1897, and in Kangra, Panjab, April,
1907. (_Imperial Gazetteer of India_, 1907, i. 98 f.)
 Kanauj, in the Farrukhabad District, United Provinces of Agra
and Oudh. The ruin of the great city was due to attacks by Mahmud
of Ghazni, A.D. 1019, and by Shihab-ud-din, Muhammad Ghori,
 _Garm dahani_, hot inflammation, prickly heat.
 _Multani mitti_, 'Multan Earth', a soft, drab-coloured
saponaceous earth, like fuller's earth, used in medicine and for
cleansing the hair.
 Cholera (_haiza_) was known to the Hindus long before the arrival of
the Portuguese, who first described it (Yule, _Hobson-Jobson_, 586
ff.). The attention of English physicians was first seriously called
to it in 1817, when it broke out in the Jessore District of Bengal,
and in the camp of Marquess Hastings in the Datiya State, Central
India. (See Sleeman, _Rambles_, 163, 232.)
 _Zahr-mohra_, 'poison vanguard': the bezoar stone, believed to be
an antidote to poison (Yule, _Hobson-Jobson_, 90 f.).
 _Sikanjabin_, oxymel, vinegar, lime-juice, or other acid, mixed
with sugar or honey.
Kannoge.--Formerly the capital of Hindoostaun.--Ancient
castle.--Durability of the bricks made by the aborigines.--Prospect
from the Killaah (castle).--Ruins.--Treasures found therein.--The
Durgah Baallee Peer Kee.--Mukhburrahs.--Ancient Mosque.--Singular
structure of some stone pillars.--The Durgah Mukdoom
Jhaunneer.--Conversions to the Mussulmaun Faith.--Anecdote.--Ignorance
of the Hindoos.--Sculpture of the Ancients.--Mosque inhabited by
thieves.--Discovery of Nitre.--Method of extracting it.--Conjectures
of its produce.--Residence in the castle.--Reflections.
Kannoge, now comparatively a Native village, situated about midway between
Cawnpore and Futtyghur, is said to have been the capital of Hindoostaun,
and according to Hindoo tradition was the seat of the reigning Rajahs two
thousand years prior to the invasion of India by the Sultaun Timoor. If
credit be given to current report, the Hindoos deny that the Deluge
extended to India as confidently as the Chinese declare that it never
These accounts I merely state as the belief of the Hindoos, and those
the least educated persons of the population. The Mussulmauns, however,
are of a different opinion; the account they give of the Deluge
resembles the Jewish, and doubtless the information Mahumud has conveyed
to his followers was derived from that source.
Some of the people are weak enough to conjecture that Kannoge was founded
by Cain. It bears, however, striking features of great antiquity, and
possesses many sufficient evidences of its former extent and splendour to
warrant the belief that it has been the capital of no mean kingdom in ages
past. The remarks I was enabled to make during a residence of two years at
Kannoge may not be deemed altogether uninteresting to my readers, although
my descriptions may be 'clouded with imperfections'. I will not, therefore,
offer any useless apologies for introducing them in my present Letter.
Kannoge, known as the oldest capital of the far-famed kingdom of
Hindoostaun, is now a heap upon heap of ruins, proclaiming to the present
generation, even in her humility, how vast in extent and magnificent in
style she once was, when inhabited by the rulers of that great empire. The
earth entombs emblems of greatness, of riches, and of man's vain-glorious
possessions; buildings have been reared by successive generations on
mounds which embowelled the ruined mansions of predecessors.
The killaah (castle) in which during two years we shared an abode with
sundry crows, bats, scorpions, centipedes, and other living things, was
rebuilt about seven hundred years ago, on the original foundation which,
as tradition states, has continued for more than two thousand years. The
materials of which the walls are constructed are chiefly bricks.
It is worthy of remark, that the bricks of ancient manufacture in India
give evidence of remarkable durability, and are very similar in quality to
the Roman bricks occasionally discovered in England. At Delhi I have met
with bricks that have been undoubtedly standing six or seven centuries;
and at Kannoge, if tradition speak true, the same articles which were
manufactured upwards of two thousand years ago, and which retain the
colour of the brightest red, resemble more the hardest stone than the
things we call bricks of the present day. After the minutest examination
of these relics of ancient labour, I am disposed to think that the clay
must have been more closely kneaded, and the bricks longer exposed to the
action of fire than they are by the present mode of manufacturing them;
and such is their durability, that they are only broken with the greatest
The killaah was originally a fortified castle, and is situated near the
river Kaullee Nuddie, a branch or arm of the Ganges, the main stream of
which flows about two miles distant. During the periodical rains, the
Ganges overflows its banks, and inundates the whole tract of land
intervening between the two rivers, forming an extent of water more
resembling a sea than a river.
At the time we occupied the old castle, scarcely one room could be called
habitable; and I learned with regret after the rains of 1826 and 1827,
which were unusually heavy, that the apartments occupied since the
Honourable East India Company's rule by their taasseel-dhaars,
(sub-collectors of the revenue), were rendered entirely useless as a
The comfortless interior of that well-remembered place was more than
compensated by the situation. Many of my English acquaintance, who
honoured me by visits at Kannoge, will, I think, agree with me, that the
prospect from the killaah was indescribably grand. The Ganges and the
Kaullee Nuddee were presented at one view; and at certain seasons of the
year, as far as the eye could reach, their banks, and well-cultivated
fields, clothed in a variety of green, seemed to recall the mind to the
rivers of England, and their precious borders of grateful herbage. Turning
in another direction, the eye was met by an impenetrable boundary of
forest trees, magnificent in growth, and rich in foliage; at another
glance, ruins of antiquity, or the still remaining tributes to saints; the
detached villages; the sugar plantations; the agriculturists at their
labour; the happy peasantry laden with their purchases from the bazaars;
the Hindoo women and children, bearing their earthen-vessels to and from
the river for supplies of water:--each in their turn formed objects of
attraction from without, that more than repaid the absence of ordinary
comforts in the apartment from which they were viewed. The quiet calm of
this habitation, unbroken by the tumultuous sounds of a city, was so
congenial to my taste, that when obliged to quit it, I felt almost as much
regret as when I heard that the rains had destroyed the place which had
been to me a home of peaceful enjoyment.
The city of Kannoge has evidently suffered the severities of a shock from
an earthquake: the present inhabitants cannot tell at what period this
occurred, but it must have been some centuries since, for the earth is
grown over immense ruins, in an extensive circuit, forming a strong but
coarse carpet of grass on the uneven mounds containing the long-buried
mansions of the great. The rapid streams from the periodical rains forcing
passages between the ruins, has in many places formed deep and frightful
ravines, as well as rugged roads and pathways for the cattle and the
After each heavy fall of rain, the peasantry and children are observed
minutely searching among the ruins for valuables washed out with the loose
earth and bricks by the force of the streams, and, I am told, with
successful returns for their toil; jewels, gold and silver ornaments,
coins of gold and silver, all of great antiquity, are thus secured; these
are bought by certain merchants of the city, by whom they are retailed to
English travellers, who generally when on a river voyage to or from the
Upper Provinces, contrive, if possible, to visit Kannoge to inspect the
ruins, and purchase curiosities.
There is a stately range of buildings at no great distance from the
killaah (castle), in a tolerable state of preservation, called 'Baallee
Peer Kee Durgah'. The entrance is by a stone gateway of very superior
but ancient workmanship, and the gates of massy wood studded with iron. I
observed that on the wood framework over the entrance, many a stray
horseshoe has been nailed, which served to remind me of Wales, where it is
so commonly seen on the doors of the peasantry. I am not aware but that
the same motives may have influenced the two people in common.
To the right of the entrance stands a large mosque, which, I am told, was
built by Baallee himself; who, it is related, was a remarkably pious man
of the Mussulmaun persuasion, and had acquired so great celebrity amongst
his countrymen as a perfect durweish, as to be surnamed peer (saint).
The exact time when he flourished at Kannoge, I am unable to say; but
judging from the style of architecture, and other concurring circumstances,
it must have been built at different periods, some parts being evidently
of very ancient structure.
There are two mukhburrahs, within the range, which viewed from the main
road, stand in a prominent situation: one of these mukhburrahs was built
by command, or in the reign (I could not learn which), of Shah Allumgeer
 over the remains of Ballee Peer; and the second contains some of the
peer's immediate relatives.
From the expensive manner in which these buildings are constructed, some
idea may be formed of the estimation this pious man was held in by his
countrymen. The mausoleums are of stone, and elevated on a base of the
same material, with broad flights of steps to ascend by. The stone must
have been brought hither from a great distance, as I do not find there is
a single quarry nearer than Delhi or Agra. There are people in charge of
this Durgah who voluntarily exile themselves from the society of the world,
in order to lead lives of strict devotion and under the imagined presiding
influence of the saint's pure spirit; they keep the sanctuary from
pollution, burn lamps nightly on the tomb, and subsist by the occasional
contributions of the charitable visitors and their neighbours.
Within the boundary of the Durgah, I remarked a very neat stone tomb, in
good preservation: this, I was told, was the burying-place of the Kalipha
 (head servant) who had attended on and survived Baallee Peer; this man
had saved money in the service of the saint, which he left to be devoted
to the repairs of the Durgah; premising that his tomb should be erected
near that of his sainted master, and lamps burned every night over the
graves, which is faithfully performed by the people in charge of the
After visiting the ruins of Hindoo temples, which skirt the borders of the
river in many parts of the district of Kannoge, the eye turns with
satisfaction to the ancient mosques of the Mussulmauns, which convey
conviction to the mind, that even in the remote ages of Hindoostaun, there
have been men who worshipped God; whilst the piles of mutilated stone
idols also declare the zealous Mussulmaun to have been jealous for his
Creator's glory. I have noticed about Kannoge hundreds of these broken or
defaced images collected together in heaps (generally under trees), which
were formerly the objects to which the superstitious Hindoos bowed in
worship, until the more intelligent Mussulmauns strayed into the recesses
of the deepest darkness to show the idolaters that God could not be
represented by a block of stone.
In a retired part of Kannoge, I was induced to visit the remains of an
immense building, expecting the gratification of a fine prospect from
its towering elevation; my surprise, however, on entering the portal drove
from my thoughts the first object of my visit.
The whole building is on a large scale, and is, together with the gateway,
steps, roof, pillars, and offices, composed entirely of stone: from what I
had previously conceived of the ancient Jewish temples, this erection
struck me as bearing a strong resemblance. It appears that there is not
the slightest portion of either wood or metal used in the whole
construction; and, except where some sort of cement was indispensable, not
a trace of mortar is to be discovered in the whole fabric. The pillars of
the colonnade, which form three sides of the square, are singular piles of
stone, erected with great exactness in the following order:--
A broad block of stone forms the base; on the centre is raised a pillar of
six feet by two square, on this rests a circular stone, resembling a
grindstone, on which is placed another upright pillar, and again a
circular, until five of each are made to rest on the base to form a pillar;
the top circulars or caps are much larger than the rest; and on these the
massy stone beams for the roof are supported. How these ponderous stones
forming the whole roof were raised, unacquainted as these people ever have
been with machinery, is indeed a mystery sufficient to impress on the
weak-minded a current report amongst the Natives, that the whole building
was erected in one night by supernatural agency, from materials which had
formerly been used in the construction of a Hindoo temple, but destroyed
by the zeal of the Mussulmauns soon after their invasion of Hindoostaun.
The pillars I examined narrowly, and could not find any traces of cement
or fastening; yet, excepting two or three which exhibit a slight curve,
the whole colonnade is in a perfect state. The hall, including the
colonnade, measures one hundred and eighty feel by thirty, and has
doubtless been, at some time or other, a place of worship, in all
probability for the Mussulmauns, there being still within the edifice a
sort of pulpit of stone evidently intended for the reader, both from its
situation and construction; this has sustained many rude efforts from the
chisel in the way of ornament not strictly in accordance with the temple
itself; besides which, there are certain tablets engraved in the Persian
and Arabic character, which contain verses or chapters from the Khoraun;
so that it may be concluded, whatever was the original design of the
building, it has in later periods served the purposes of a mosque.
In some parts of this building traces exist to prove that the materials of
which it has been formed originally belonged to the Hindoos, for upon many
of the stones there are carved figures according with their mythology;
such stones, however, have been placed generally upside down, and attempts
to deface the graven figures are conspicuous,--they are all turned inside,
whilst the exterior appearance is rough and uneven. It may be presumed
they were formerly outward ornaments to a temple of some sort, most likely
a 'Bootkhanah' (the house for idols).
I have visited the Durgah, called Mukhdoom Jhaaunneer, situated in the
heart of the present city, which is said to have been erected nearly a
thousand years ago, by the order of a Mussulmaun King; whether of
Hindoostaun or not, I could not learn. It bears in its present dilapidated
state, evidences both of good taste and superior skill in architecture, as
well as of costliness in the erection, superior to any thing I expected to
find amongst the ancient edifices of Hindoostaun.
The antique arches supporting the roof, rest on pillars of a good size;
the whole are beautifully carved. The dome, which was originally in the
centre of this pavilion, has been nearly destroyed by time; and although
the light thus thrown into the interior through the aperture, has a good
effect, it pained me to see this noble edifice falling to decay for the
want of timely repairs. Notwithstanding this Durgah is said to have been
built so many years, the stone-work, both of the interior and exterior, is
remarkably fresh in appearance, and would almost discredit its reputed age.
The walls and bastions of the enclosure appear firm on their foundations;
the upper part only seems at all decayed.
The side rooms to the Durgah, of which there are several on each side of
the building, have all a fretwork of stone very curiously cut, which
serves for windows, and admits light and air to the apartments, and
presents a good screen to persons within; this it should seem was the only
contrivance for windows in general use by the ancient inhabitants of
Hindoostaun; and even at the present day (excepting a few Native gentlemen
who have benefited by English example), glazed windows are not seen in any
of the mansions in the Upper Provinces of India.
I noticed that in a few places in these buildings, where the prospect is
particularly fine, small arches were left open, from whence the eye is
directed to grand and superb scenery, afforded by the surrounding country,
and the remains of stately buildings. From one of these arches the killaah
is seen to great advantage, at the distance of two miles: both the Durgah
and the killaah are erected on high points of land. I have often, whilst
wandering outside the killaah, looked up at the elevation with sensations
of mistrust, that whilst doing so it might, from its known insecure state,
fall and bury me in its ruins; but viewing it from that distance, and on a
level with the Durgah, the appearance was really gratifying.
At Kannoge are to be seen many mukhburrahs, said to have been erected over
the remains of those Hindoos who at different periods had been converted
to the Mussulmaun faith. This city, I am informed, has been the chosen
spot of righteous men and sainted characters during all periods of the
Mussulmaun rule in Hindoostaun, by whose example many idolators were
brought to have respect for the name of God, and in some instances even to
embrace the Mahumudan faith. Amongst the many accounts of remarkable
conversions related to me by the old inhabitants of that city, I shall
select one which, however marvellous in some points, is nevertheless
received with full credit by the faithful of the present day:--
'A very pious Syaad took up his residence many hundred years since at
Kannoge, when the chief part of the inhabitants were Hindoos, and, as
might be expected, many of them were Brahmins. He saw with grief the state
of darkness with which the minds of so many human beings were imbued, and
without exercising any sort of authority over them, he endeavoured by the
mildest persuasions to convince these people that the adoration they paid
to graven images, and the views they entertained of the river Ganges
possessing divine properties, were both absurd and wicked.
'The Syaad used his best arguments to explain to them the power and
attributes of the only true God; and though his labours were unceasing,
and his exemplary life made him beloved, yet for a long period all his
endeavours proved unsuccessful. His advice, however, was at all times
tendered with mildness, his manners so humble, and his devotion so
remarkable, that in the course of time the people flocked around him,
whenever he was visible, to listen to his discourse, which generally
contained some words of well-timed exhortation and kind instruction. His
great aim was directed towards enlightening the Brahmins, by whom, he was
aware, the opinions of the whole population were influenced, and to whom
alone was confined such knowledge as at that remote period was conveyed by
'Ardently zealous in the great work he had commenced, the Syaad seemed
undaunted by the many obstacles he had to contend with. Always retaining
his temper unruffled, he combined perseverance with his solicitude, and
trusted in God for a happy result in His good time. On an occasion of a
great Hindoo festival the population of the then immense city were
preparing to visit the Ganges, where they expected to be purified from
their sins by ablution in that holy river, as they term it. The Ganges, at
that period, I understand, flowed some miles distant from the city.
'The Syaad took this occasion to exhort the multitude to believe in God;
and after a preliminary discourse, explaining the power of Him whom he
alone worshipped, he asked the people if they would be persuaded to follow
the only true God, if His power should be demonstrated to them by the
appearance of the river they adored flowing past the city of Kannoge,
instead of, as at that moment, many miles distant. Some of his auditory
laughed at the idea, and derided the speaker; others doubted, and asked
whether the God whom the Mussulmauns worshipped possessed such power as
the Syaad had attributed to Him; many Brahmins, however, agreed to the
terms proposed, solemnly assuring the holy man he should find them
converts to his faith if this miracle should be effected by the God he
'It is related that the Syaad passed the whole day and night in devout
prayers; and when the morning dawned the idolators saw the river Ganges
flowing past the city in all the majesty of that mighty stream. The
Brahmins were at once convinced, and this evidence of God's power worked
the way to the conversion of nearly the whole population of Kannoge.'
The number of the inhabitants may be supposed to have been immensely great
at the period in question, as it is related that on the occasion of their
conversion the Brahmins threw away the cords which distinguish them from
other castes of Hindoos, (each cord weighing about a drachm English),
which when collected together to be consigned to the flames, were weighed,
and found to be upwards of forty-five seers; a seer in that province being
nearly equal to two pounds English.
The Brahmins, it will be recollected, form but a small portion of that
community, and are the priesthood of the Hindoos, very similar in their
order to the Levites among the children of Israel.
There are still remaining traces of monuments erected over the remains of
converted Hindoos, which have been particularly pointed out to me by
intelligent men, from whom I have received information of that great work
which alone would render Kannoge a place of interest without another
object to attract the observation of a reflecting mind.
Notwithstanding that the Ganges continues to water the banks of Kannoge,
and that other proofs exist of idolatry having ceased for a considerable
time to disgrace the inhabitants, it is still partially occupied by
Hindoos, who retain the custom of their forefathers according to the
original, whether descendants of the converted, or fresh settlers is not
in my power to determine; but I may remark, without prejudice, from what I
have been enabled to glean in conversation with a few Hindoos of this city,
that they have a better idea of one over-ruling Supreme power than I have
ever been able to find elsewhere in the same class of people.
I was much interested with an old blacksmith, who was employed at the
killaah. On one occasion I asked him what views he entertained of the
Source from whence all good proceeds--whether he believed in God? He
replied promptly, and as if surprised that such a doubt could exist, 'Yes,
surely; it is to Allah (God) the supreme, I am indebted for my existence;
Allah created all things, the world and all that is in it: I could not
have been here at this moment, but for the goodness of Allah!'
There are amongst them men of good moral character, yet in a state of
deplorable ignorance, a specimen of which may be here noticed in a person
of property employed in the service of Government, at the killaah; he is
of the caste denominated Burghutt,--one of the tribe which professes
so great reverence for life, as to hold it sinful to destroy the meanest
reptile or insect; and, therefore, entirely abstain from eating either
fish, flesh, or fowl:--yet, when I pressed for his undisguised opinion, I
found that he not only denied the existence of God, but declared it was
his belief the world formed itself.
I was induced to walk three miles from the killaah, on a cool day in
December, to view the remains of a piece of sculpture of great antiquity.
I confess myself but little acquainted with Hindoo mythology, and
therefore my description will necessarily be imperfect. The figure of
Luchmee is represented in relief, on a slab of stone eight feet by four,
surrounded by about a hundred figures in different attitudes. Luchmee, who
is of course the most prominent, is figured with eight arms; in his right
hands, are sabres, in his left, shields; his left foot upon the hand of a
female, and the right on a snake. This figure is about four feet high,
and finely formed, standing in a martial attitude; his dress (unlike that
of the modern Hindoo) is represented very tight, and, altogether, struck
me as more resembling the European than the Asiatic: on his head I
remarked a high-crowned military cap without a peak: the feet were bare.
There can be no doubt this figure is emblematical; the Hindoos, however,
make it an object of their impure and degrading worship.
I could not help expressing my surprise on finding this idol in such
excellent condition, having had so many samples throughout Kannoge of the
vengeance exercised by Mussulmaun zeal, on the idols of the Hindoos. My
guide assured me, that this relic of antiquity had only been spared from
the general destruction of by-gone periods by its having been buried,
through the supposed influence of unconverted venerating Brahmins; but
that within the last thirty years it had been discovered and dug out of
the earth, to become once more an ornament to the place. My own ideas lead
me to suppose that it might have been buried by the same convulsion of the
earth which overturned the idolatrous city.
I observed that a very neat little building, of modern date, was erected
over this antiquity, and on inquiry found that the Hindoos were indebted
to the liberality of a lady for the means of preserving this relic from
the ravages of the seasons.
There is in the same vicinity a second piece of mythological sculpture, in
a less perfect state than Luchmee, the sabred arm of which has been struck
off, and the figure otherwise mutilated by the zealous Mussulmauns, who
have invariably defaced or broken the idols wherever they have been able
to do so with impunity. On a platform of stone and earth, near this place,
a finely-formed head of stone is placed, which my guide gravely assured me
was of very ancient date, and represented Adam, the father of men!
I heard with pain during my sojourn at Kannoge, that the house of God had
been made the resort of thieves; a well-known passage of Scripture struck
me forcibly when the transaction was related.
I have before stated that the mosque is never allowed to be locked or
closed to the public. Beneath the one I am about to speak of (a very
ancient building near to Baallee Peer's Durgah), is a vaulted suite of
rooms denominated taarkhanah, intended as a retreat from the intense
heat of the day; such as is to be met with in most great men's residences
in India. In this place, a gang of thieves from the city had long found a
secure and unsuspected spot wherein to deposit their plunder. It happened,
however, that very strict search was instituted after some stolen property
belonging to an individual of Kannoge; whether any suspicions had been
excited about the place in question, I do not recollect, but thither the
police directed their steps, and after removing some loose earth they
discovered many valuable articles,--shawls, gold ornaments, sabres, and
other costly articles of plunder. It is presumed,--for the thieves were
not known or discovered,--that they could not possibly be Mussulmauns,
since the very worst characters among this people hold the house of God in
such strict veneration, that they, of all persons, could not be suspected
of having selected so sacred a place to deposit the spoils of the
The process of obtaining nitre from the earth is practised at Kannoge by
the Natives in the most simple way imaginable, without any assistance from
art. They discover the spot where nitre is deposited by the small white
particles which work through the strata of earth to the surface. When a
vein is discovered, to separate the nitre from the earth, the following
simple method is resorted to:--large troughs filled with water are
prepared, into which the masses of earth containing nitre are thrown; the
earth is allowed to remain undisturbed for some time, after which it is
well stirred, and then allowed to settle; the water by this means becomes
impregnated with the nitre, and is afterwards boiled in large iron pans,
from which all the dirt is carefully skimmed, until the water is
completely evaporated, and the nitre deposited in the pans.
I know not how far the admixture of animal bodies with the soil may tend
to produce this article, but it is a fact, that those places which bear
the strongest proofs of having received the bodies of both men and beasts,
produce it in the greatest abundance.
The retirement of Kannoge afforded me so many pleasant ways of occupying
time, that I always look back to the period of my sojourn at the old
killaah with satisfaction. The city is sufficiently distant from the
killaah to leave the latter within reach of supplies, without the
annoyance of the bustle and confusion inseparable from a Native city. In
my daily wanderings a few peasantry only crossed my path; the farmers and
citizens were always attentive, and willing to do us such kind offices as
we at any time required. They respected, I may say venerated my husband;
and I must own that my feelings oblige me to remember with gratitude the
place and the people whence I drew so many benefits.
Here I could indulge in long walks without incurring the penalty of a
departure from established custom, which in most well-populated parts of
Hindoostaun restrains European ladies from the exercise so congenial to
their health and cherished habits. Should any English-woman venture to
walk abroad in the city of Lucknow, for instance,--to express their most
liberal opinion of the act,--she would be judged by the Natives as a
person careless of the world's opinion. But here I was under no such
constraint; my walks were daily recreations after hours of quiet study in
the most romantic retirement of a ruined killaah, where, if luxury
consists in perfect satisfaction with the objects by which we are
surrounded, I may boast that it was found here during my two years'
 This is incorrect. Hindu traditions refer to a deluge, in which Manu,
with the help of a fish, makes a ship, and fastening her cable to the
fish's horn, is guided to the mountain, and then he, alone of human
beings, is saved.--J. Muir, _Original Sanskrit Texts_, part ii (1860),
 This is merely a stupid folk etymology, comparing Kanauj with Cain.
 Kali Nadi, 'black stream', a corruption of the original
 In the southern centre of the ruined citadel stand the tombs of
Bala Pir and his son, Shaikh Mahdi. Shaikh Kabir,
commonly called Bala Pir, is said to have been the tutor of
the brother Nawabs, Dalel and Bahadur Khan. The former
ruled Kanauj in the time of Shah Jahan (A.D. 1628-1651), and
died after his deposition in 1666.--A. Fuehrer, _Monumental Antiquities
and Inscriptions of the N.W. Provinces and Oudh_, 1891, p. 80.
 Horseshoes are often nailed on the gates of the tombs of Musalman
saints, as at the mosque of Fatehpur Sikri.
 _Pir_, 'a saint, a holy man'.
 _Maqbara_, 'a sepulchre'.
 The Emperor Aurangzeb, A.D. 1658-1707.
 Khalifah, Caliph, one of the terms which have suffered degradation,
often applied to cooks, tailors, barbers, or other Musalman
 This may be the building known as Sita ki Rasoi, the kitchen
of Sita, heroine of the Ramayana epic. It is described and
drawn by Mrs. F. Parks (_Wanderings of a Pilgrim_, ii. 143).
 The tomb of the Saint Sa'id Shaikh Makhdum Jahaniya
Jahangasht of Multan (A.D. 1308-81). Fuehrer, _op. cit._, p. 81.
 Many saints are credited with the power of changing the courses of
rivers: see instances in W. Crooke, _Popular Religion and Folklore of
N. India_, 2nd ed., ii. 218.
 This may be a variant of the story that after the capture of Chitor,
Akbar weighed 74-1/2 _man_ (8 lbs. each) of cords belonging to the
slain Rajputs.--J. Tod, _Annals of Rajasthan_, 1884, i. 349.
 The name has not been traced. The reference is to Jains, who are
specially careful of animal life.
 If this is a male figure it cannot represent the goddess Lakshmi.
Mrs. Parks (_Wanderings of a Pilgrim_, ii. 144) speaks of images of
Rama and his brother Lakshmana, one of which may possibly be that
referred to in the text.
 _Tahkhana_, an underground cellar.
 This account is fairly correct. 'Although active saltpetre is met
with under a variety of conditions, they all agree in this particular,
that the salt is formed under the influence of organic matter.'--(G.
Watt, _Economic Dictionary_, VI, part ii, 431 _ff_).
Delhi.--Description of the city.--Marble hall--The Queen's Mahul
(palace).--Audience with the King and Queen.--Conversation with
them.--Character of their Majesties.--Visit to a
Muckburrah.--Soobadhaars.--The nature of the office.--Durgah of Shah
Nizaam ood deen.--Tomb of Shah Allum.--Ruins in the vicinity of Delhi.
--Antique pillars (Kootub) .--Prospect from its galleries.--Anecdotes
of Juangheer and Khareem Zund...Page 289
My visit to Delhi, once the great capital of Hindoostaun, and the
residence of the great Sultauns, has made impressions of a lasting kind,
and presented a moral lesson to my mind, I should be sorry to forget in
after years; for there I witnessed the tombs of righteous men in perfect
repair after the lapse of many centuries, standing in the midst of the
mouldering relics of kings, princes, and nobles, many of whose careers, we
learn from history, was comparatively of recent date; yet, excepting in
one solitary instance of Shah Allum's grave, without so much of order
remaining as would tell to the passing traveller the rank of each
individual's mausoleum, now either entirely a ruin or fast mouldering to
The original city of Delhi presents to view one vast extent of ruins;
abounding in mementos of departed worth, as well as in wrecks of greatness,
ingenuity, and magnificence. Why the present city was erected or the
former one deserted, I cannot venture an opinion, neither can I remember
correctly in what reign the royal residence was changed; but judging from
the remnants of the old, I should imagine it to have been equally
extensive with the modern Delhi. A part of the old palace is still
standing, whither the present King, Akbaar Shah, occasionally resorts
for days together, attracted perhaps by sympathy for his ancestors, or by
that desire for change inherent in human nature, and often deemed
essential to health in the climate of Hindoostaun.
The city of Delhi is enclosed by a wall; the houses, which are generally
of brick or red stone, appear to good advantage, being generally elevated
a story or two from the ground-floor, and more regularly constructed than
is usual in Native cities. Mosques, mukhburrahs, and emaum-baarahs, in all
directions, diversify the scene with good effect; whilst the various shops
and bazaars, together with the outpourings of the population to and from
the markets, give an animation to the whole view which would not be
complete without them.
The palace occupies an immense space of ground, enclosed by high walls,
and entered by a gateway of grand architecture. On either side the
entrance I noticed lines of compact buildings, occupied by the military,
reaching to the second gateway, which is but little inferior in style and
strength to the grand entrance; and here again appear long lines of
buildings similarly occupied. I passed through several of these formidable
barriers before I reached the marble hall, where the King holds his durbar
(court) at stated times; but as mine was a mere unceremonious visit to the
King and Queen, it was not at the usual hour of durbar, and I passed
through the hall without making any particular observations, although I
could perceive it was not deficient in the costliness and splendour suited
to the former greatness of the Indian empire.
After being conveyed through several splendid apartments, I was conducted
to the Queen's mahul (palace for females), where his Majesty and the
Queen were awaiting my arrival. I found on my entrance the King seated in
the open air in an arm chair enjoying his hookha; the Queen's musnud was
on the ground, close by the side of her venerable husband. Being
accustomed to Native society, I knew how to render the respect due from an
humble individual to personages of their exalted rank. After having left
my shoes at the entrance and advanced towards them, my salaams were
tendered, and then the usual offering of nuzzas, first to the King and
then to the Queen, who invited me to a seat on her own carpet,--an honour
I knew how to appreciate from my acquaintance with the etiquette observed
on such occasions.
The whole period of my visit was occupied in very interesting conversation;
eager inquiries were made respecting England, the Government, the manners
of the Court, the habits of the people, my own family affairs, my husband's
views in travelling, and his adventures in England, my own satisfaction
as regarded climate, and the people with whom I was so immediately
connected by marriage;--the conversation, indeed, never flagged an instant,
for the condescending courtesy of their Majesties encouraged me to add to
their entertainment, by details which seemed to interest and delight them
On taking leave his Majesty very cordially shook me by the hand, and the
Queen embraced me with warmth. Both appeared, and expressed themselves,
highly gratified with the visit of an English lady who could explain
herself in their language without embarrassment, or the assistance of an
interpreter, and who was the more interesting to them from the
circumstance of being the wife of a Syaad; the Queen indeed was particular
in reminding me that 'the Syaads were in a religious point of view, the
nobles of the Mussulmauns, and reverenced as such far more than those
titled characters who receive their distinction from their fellow-mortals'.
I was grieved to be obliged to accept the Queen's parting present of an
embroidered scarf, because I knew her means were exceedingly limited
compared with the demands upon her bounty; but I could not refuse that
which was intended to do me honour at the risk of wounding those feelings
I so greatly respected. A small ring, of trifling value, was then placed
by the Queen on my finger, as she remarked, 'to remind me of the giver.'
The King's countenance, dignified by age, possesses traces of extreme
beauty; he is much fairer than Asiatics usually are; his features are
still fine, his hair silvery white; intelligence beams upon his brow, his
conversation gentle and refined, and his condescending manners hardly to
be surpassed by the most refined gentleman of Europe. I am told by those
who have been long intimate with his habits in private, that he leads a
life of strict piety and temperance, equal to that of a durweish of his
faith, whom he imitates in expending his income on others without
indulging in a single luxury himself.
The Queen's manners are very amiable and condescending; she is reported to
be as highly gifted with intellectual endowments as I can affirm she is
with genuine politeness.
I was induced to visit the mukhburrah of the great-great-grandfather of the
present King of Oude, who, at his death,--which occurred at Delhi, I
believe,--was one of the Soobadhaars of the sovereign ruler of India.
This nobleman, in his time, had been a staunch adherent to the descendants
of Timoor, and had been rewarded for his fidelity by public honours and
the private friendship of the King. The monument erected over his remains,
is in a costly style of magnificence, and in the best possible condition,
standing in the centre of a flower-garden which is enclosed by a stone
wall, with a grand gateway of good architecture. The mukhburrah is
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