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Recruited and refreshed, we returned to the ball-room, and in spite of my recent resolution, I again joined the dance, which was kept up till a late hour, when my friends and I returned to my room in the Fort, where, over a glass of brandy-pawney and a devilled mooghee,* we discussed the scenes of the night. At last, fairly done up, they took their leave, and I betook myself to rest, the fiddles still sounding in my head, to dream of Miss Rosa, and all I had seen and heard; and so terminated my first ball in the East.
The Kidderpore hops, I hear, are now no more; from which I conclude that some other matrimonial plan has been devised for disposing of the young ladies, more in consonance with the refined delicacy of the age, which, though recognising the necessity of matrimony, seems to discountenance any expedient which smacks of the slave-market.
On the following evening, Capt. Marpeet, according to engagement, called in a hired buggy, to take me a drive on the Course. The Course, as is well known, is the grand resort of the beau monde of Calcutta, which, like a colony of owls or bats from a ruin, emerge at sun-down from all parts of that extensive city, to see and to be seen, and to enjoy the coolness of the evening breeze. Seated in his gig, Marpeet drew up before the barrack in all his glory, handling the ribbons with the peculiar and finished grace of a man who had made it his study. Great, indeed, were his pretensions in that way, and I am confident he would rather have been the leader of the four-in-hand club, than have written the Principia of Newton. In I jumped; Marpeet cracked his whip to metal up his ticca tit-an animal deficient in flesh and blood, certainly, but exhibiting an amazing deal of bone. Away we went. The evening gun had just boomed; the myriad crows of the Fort cawed querulously responsive from the trees; the bugles sounded; the drums beat; the guards at the gates, European and native, were turned out; captains and lieutenants, flushed with tiffin or a nap, swords under their arms, sauntered along to join them. The firefly here and there twinkled in the trees, and the far-off yell of the jackal proclaimed the approach of night, when away we whirled through covered ways and over thundering drawbridges, past scarp, counter-scarp, and glacis, and in a few minutes found ourselves amidst the throng of carriages and equestrians on the Course, the mass of the Government-house, with its capacious dome and lion-crowned gates, rising in front, and the vast semicircle of Chowringhee, with its aggregation of snow-white structures, stretching away far to the right. What a singular scene here presented itself to my admiring sight! What an admixture of nations, and their several modes and peculiarities-of English turns-out and Indian piebald imitations-with strange equipages, combining European finish with the native original! Carriages and equestrians, walking, trotting, or galloping, passing and repassing! This is the Hyde Park of the East, where, though less of splendour than in its great prototype, there was far more variety to be seen. There came the Governor-General, the viceroy of British India, open barouche and four (all dignity and gracious bows); cocked hats and feathers flying; black body-guard before and behind, in a long trot; sabres flashing, and scabbards rattling. Near, by way of antithesis, might be seen a palankeen carriage "creepy crawley," drawn by two enormous bullocks, with monstrous dewlaps, bearing some fat old Portuguese lady, black as Erebus or Nox, to take the air, driver working hard to rouse them to a transient hobble. There, four or five abreast, rode sundry dashing young officers, displaying themselves and their uniforms to the best advantage, "pride in their port, defiance in their eyes;" whilst near, in some open laudau
* Grilled Fowl.
or barouche, the " cynosure of neighbouring eyes," would appear the newlyarrived beauty, the belle of the season, her English roses contrasting with the reigning pallor around, wearing a look of conscious power, and exhibiting herself to the admiring gaze of the gossiping world. Happy creature! all is couleur de rose with you! No thoughts of the future disturb the self-satisfied emotions of thy exulting bosom ! And who is he beside her-the handsome young aide-de-camp? With easy bend he leans gracefully towards the carriage, and checks his fiery Arab. Mark how he rattles, and says his agreeable things, with all the airs of a conscious "eligible," whilst the gratified vanity of the woman sparkles in her eyes and glows in her animated countenance. Here comes an intruder, bound for a distant bazaar—jingle, jingle, jingle! What a contrast! a native ruth or bylie, bullocks in a long trot, a pretty black damsel,
With rings on her fingers,
she of childhood's song to a nicety-peeping from behind the blinds. "Ah! turn not away those sweet eyes!" Egad, she's off-driver twisting the tails and goading the quarters of his cattle to keep up the steam." There whirl past in tilbury or tandem a brace of recently-arrived writers, regular Meltonians, doing the thing secundum artem, and determined to astonish the crowd. How knowingly, his person obliqued-quarter front, does the driver sit! With what gentlemanly abandon does the drivee loll back in the vehicle! These are high-spirited fellows, who drink their claret, and have never known a care, and “d—n every thing that is low!" See with andante movement now advances the ponderous chariot of the great Baboo Maha Raja Spooney Persaud Mullick, the great milch-cow of the lawyers, and who gives his lac at a time from the genuine impulses of a native benevolence; turbaned coachman; Baboo within, wrapped cachemeres, fat, yellow, and bolt upright as the effigy on a tomb-stone. Halloo, there! what's this? A race-clear the way! There they come, hired for the evening, two blind uns and a bolter;" heads down, ears viciously inclined. "Go it, my middies!" Look at the reefer in advance-all aback, toes in his horse's nose, head on the crupper, tugging for bare life to make his craft steer or wear. I thought so—snap go the tiller-ropes-a man overboard—the blue-jacket rolls in the dust: he's up again, hat rammed over his eyes-but the bolter's off-catch him who can! There goes, at a gee-up hobble, a shandry-dan, with two Armenians in it-highly respectable men, with queer velvet caps, and very episcopal-looking aprons strange mixture of European and Asiatic, neither flesh nor fowlTopee Wala or Puckree Bund. They nod to two gentlemen passing in a gig, of the gimcrack order-gentlemen in white jackets and ditto hats; highly polished men, i. e. in the face, which seems, indeed, to have had the benefit of a bottle of Day and Martin's real japan blacking—who are they? Valiant Lusitanians, illustrious descendants of Albuquerque and Vasco de GamaMessrs. Joachim de Reberero and Gomez de Souza, writers in the office of the salt and opium department. Who is this in cords, top-bots, and white jacket—a dapper, well-fed little man, on a tall English horse, to which he bears about the same relative proportions that Falstaff's bread did to his sherris sack?-Aye, who?—
Come tell it, an burn ye
He is can he help it?-a special attorney
an attaché of the Supreme Court.
Honest Sancho Panza divides the world into two grand classes-the have-somethings and the havenothings. Blacky, by an equally comprehensive arrangement, includes all mankind under the heads of Topee Wala and Puckree Bund, or hat-men and turban-wearers.
Such, then, is the Course of Calcutta; and such a little melodramatic sketch may give some idea of the varied objects which there meet the eye.
We drove up and down several times, and recognised not a few of our ship companions; amongst others, the little colonel, in a barouche with some ladies, whom he was evidently entertaining with a 'yarn." Darkness now came on apace. The mussalchees, or link-boys, with their flaring mussauls, met their masters at turns of the road to light them to their several homes, and we thought it time to depart. Marpeet drove to his quarters, where he invited me to pass the evening, to which I assented. Sitting over our wine, Marpeet discussed the Course, and gave me a few bits of scandal, touching sundry ladies and gentlemen we had seen, over which I yawned, for I have ever abominated what are called private histories (unless those of people I love). "Well," said Marpeet, "I think I shall start for the Upper Provinces, and leave you sooner than I thought. The lads there in the old corps are very anxious to have me amongst them once more." "That is gratifying, certainly,” said I; “and if I may venture to say so, speaks well for both parties." 'Yes," continued the captain, "I view it in that light, and am proud that I stand well with the lads. I have a letter to-day from Tippleton-an old friend of mine, who is a real good fellow, with no nonsense about him (I hope to bring you acquainted some day)—urging my going up without delay. Let me see," said he, feeling his pocket, "I think I have it somewhere about me. Oh, yes, here it is, and you may read it if you like. He is rather fond, you will perceive, of the Hindoostanee zuban, and so forth, but he does not set up for a great scribe, but is what is better, a devilish honest fellow. Come, governor, toss off your heel-taps, and take some more wine."
Every language has, probably, terms which, from their superior terseness or euphony, express more fully the meanings they are intended to convey than corresponding words in another language; and this certainly justifies their adoption. But there is also a practice of using foreign phrases indiscriminately, when the native ones would do quite as well. Shortly after the last peace, novel writers, &c., to show that they had visited the Continent, could express nothing with point and effect but in French and Italian; so in India there are a class of men, generally small wits, who interlard their conversation with Hindoostanee words and phrases; these they often sport in England, where of course they are unintelligible and out of place. Ye guardian genii! who watch over the "well of English undefiled," whilst you admit what will purify and sweeten, prevent its unhallowed pollution from garbage thrown into it by every idle and thoughtless hand! And now for Captain Tippleton's letter, which, though rather more fully charged with Hindoostanee terms than any the writer ever met with, yet presents some likeness of a certain species of Indian epistolary style (of the slip-slop and slang-wanging order) :
Grillumabad, Aug. 18
My dear Marpeet: Just now taking a dekh (look) at the Calcutta Khubber (News), I saw your name amongst those of a batch of griffs and Tazu wulaits (fresh Europeans), as having arrived by the Rottenbeam Castle. Welcome back, my dear fellow, to John Kumpany ka raj. I hope you will cut Calcutta, and lose no time in puhonchowing (conveying) yourself up by dawk to join the old pultun (battalion), in which, I am sorry to say, things have been quite oolta poolta (topsy turvey) since you left us. Tims has quitted the corps, as you probably know. He was a d-d puckha (stingy) hand, and a muggra (sulky) beast into the bargain. However, I don't think we have gained much by his budlee (successor), our new kummadan (commandant)—a regular bahadur (great person), who dicks our lives out with kuddum ootou (drill), dumcows (bullies) the native officers, and gallees (abuses) the Jacks
(sepoys). Tomkins and I still chum together; he, as gureeb and soost (quiet and lazy) as ever, and as fond of the brandy-pawney, sends his bhote bhote salaam to Marpeet Sahib. Station dull-no tumasha (fun), as in the old times, when we were first here. The other day, however, old Dickdar, our brigadier, gave a burra khana (dinner); his loll (claret) was bang-up, and you may be sure we did not spare the simpkin (champagne); burra beebee (great lady) very gracious, and a great show-off of the bal butchos (children). We had the old bajja (band), your creation and hobby, in attendance, and got up a nautch. Smirks, our adjutant, quite a burra admee (great man) since he mounted the kantas (spurs), bucking up to and devilish sweet on the spinster; but it won't hoga (do); nothing under the revenue or judicial department will go down there-Samjah Sahib ?-You understand me. Tip us a chit, my dear fellow, by return of dawk, and believe me,
My dear Marpeet, ever your's very truly,
"Well," said I, "as far as I can understand, it scems a very friendly sort of a letter; but I should be better able to judge if you would give us the English of it." Marpeet laughed, called me a critical dog, and put the letter in his pocket. "Come," added I, “since you have shown me your letter, I will read you mine; one I have received from my factotum, Chattermohun Ghose, accounting for his temporary absence, which, for the choiceness of its language, is quite a bijou in its way. Chattermohun tells me he was for some time a writer in an adjutant's office, as also in a merchant's counting-house here in Calcutta, which doubtless accounts for the phraseology smacking not a little of the lingua technica of both those schools. Here it is:"
Most respectful and honoured Sir: -Greatly labouring for fearful apprehension that sudden non-appearance should dictate condemnation from the sensible benignity of your excellency's reverence, and feeling in concatenation that explanation was indispensable, I have herewith the honour to inform you, that one of my family (now consisting of six children effective of various denominations) was recently solemnized in holy matrimony and adoptedly conducted according to prescribe rite and custom of native religion. This solemnization was carried into production my house in country by Boitacoolah T'hannah, wither in my patriarchal duty have repair for a few day.
According to last order of your reverence, have instruct to Gopee Nauth, of China Bazaar, to disperse to your quarter goods as per margin, for which he expect the favour of early remittance. I have also passed to credit of master account 16 rupees 8 annas, leaving balance my favour 256 rupees 5 annas 3 pie as per account enclosed. Trusting from this statement of explanation your honour not think me absent without leave,
I am, with deep respect and consideration,
To his Exc. Ensign Gernon, South Bks.
'Well," said Marpeet, "that beats cock-fighting."
* 6 bottles real Cognac, 1 pine cheese, 2 pot raspberry jam, 2 bag of shot.
THE HISTORY OF INDIA.
THE demand which has existed, during many years, for an impartial and a well-written history of India (authentic materials for which have been in the mean time rapidly increasing), seems to have had its due effect, in stimulating the energies of competent writers to undertake this laborious task. The valuable notes and dissertations with which Professor Wilson has enriched his edition of Mr. Mill's history, have given to it the character of a new work, many of its errors being corrected and some of its deficiencies supplied, the admirers of Mr. Mill's principles at the same time possessing the advantage of retaining his peculiar views and criticisms of men and measures. The two works named at the foot of the page are original histories, each upon a distinct plan, and they are strongly recommended by the names of their respective writers.
No person, even slenderly acquainted with Eastern topics, can be igno rant of the reputation which Mr. Elphinstone enjoys, as an Indian statesman, as a most able writer, as an experienced civil servant of the EastIndia Company, thoroughly acquainted with the character, habits, and institutions of the people of India. It is almost presumptuous to expect, it is certainly rare to find, so many of the qualities requisite in the historian of that country combined in such due harmony and proportion, and there is scarcely another individual from whom we should expect more candour and impartiality, as well as more research and reflection, in treating of subjects which are too apt to bias the judgment and engage the feelings and passions of a writer. The manner in which Mr. Elphinstone speaks of the works of preceding writers evinces the spirit in which he writes, and places his own work upon a distinct ground. "If the ingenious, original, and elaborate work of Mr. Mill," he observes, "left some room for doubt and discussion, the able compositions since published by Mr. Murray and Mr. Gleig may be supposed to have fully satisfied the demands of every reader. But the excellence of histories derived from European researches alone, does not entirely set aside the utility of similar inquiries, conducted under the guidance of impressions received in India, which, as they arise from a separate source, may sometimes lead to different conclusions."
The first two volumes of his work are occupied with the history of India before it fell under the British rule, and which is sufficiently complete in itself to be put forth as a separate portion; it is to be followed, we understand, by the history of the transactions of the British in India, the most difficult, and to an English reader the most interesting, branch of the subject.
After a brief introduction, enumerating the natural divisions, geographical features, and productions of India, Mr. Elphinstone enters upon a description of ancient Hindu society, and draws a tolerably distinct picture of the social state of the people from the Code of Menu, nine hundred years before
The History of India. By the HON. MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE. Vols. I. and II. London, 1841. Murray.
The History of the British Empire in India, By EDWARD THORNTON, Esq. Part I. London, 1841. Wm. H. Allen and Co.