Abbildungen der Seite

corps ; horses reeled, quivered, and snorted in terror, losing a footing at one moment and regaining it the next; the crisis required presence of mind, as even a good swimmer might not have reached the further shore amid struggling horsemen and trampling columns. Behind was a troop of European lancers, and, anxious not to be detained by the infantry, they had entered the river some few yards too low down. Ere they had got mid-channel, their horses were swamped; heads of horses and riders alone were above the water, except when, by a terrific effort, some charger almost sprang from out of it. Then occurred a fearful scene; the immediate struggle of man and beast for life itself. There was an old man, whose life had been spent in arms, who had fought in Spain and Portugal, and on whose breast hung the silver badge of Waterloo. He was an old officer to be only in command of a troop. He struggled well, often lifted his powerful horse with hand and knee, and the medal of Napoleon's last fight ever and anon appeared above the current; but these exertions only expended the strength of both, and at last he gave it up. Oh! to see the old man’s grey locks floating on the oily eddy, as he and his charger sank together! it was horrible! A melancholy funeral party placed that evening within unconsecrated graves the gallant Hilton and nine of his men, and over the spot a monument was erected to their memory; but a few months after, and the river had swept it away, and a sandbank covers one of the heroes of Waterloo.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Ah! here is a change rendered more welcome by the monotony of the past: a kafila of camels and bearded Affghans preparing to cross the Chenaub. They left Mooltan this morning, and the ferry-boat so seldom used is now in great request. Bhawulporė, Jeyzulmere, Bickaneer! how the chops of your citizens will water at the sight of the grapes and pomegranates from the Hindoo Coosh!

[blocks in formation]

I had left the Chenaub, passing on the right hand the ancient town of Ooch, and having entered the Garrah, or Sutlej, with a favourable wind, I kept it for eight or nine days; such good luck raised my spirits in the high-pressure ratio. With a flowing sheet, and the tiptop pace of four miles an hour against the stream, the old snuffers-tray reached Bhawulpore, and here, as I knew that a political agent resided, I did not hesitate to acquaint him with my presence. A saddled Arab, all ready for mine especial use, accompanied the answer to my note ; and a real note from the heart it was; not the frigid note of the man in high authority often met with, the “Burra Sahib,” to whom a host of dishonest vakeels and sneaking chuprassees bend low to forward their own plans, but one that told there was a welcome, and bore upon it the stamp of a right down good fellow. The sun was low, and I was not long in mounting; and a springy gallop over the flat ground between the city and the river was delightful indeed to one who had suffered a month's imprisonment in such a cabin as my boat afforded. The note of invite I had received was no forgery, for a “right down

good fellow"

was awaiting my arrival in the verandah of an old flatroofed house, which was shaded to the doors and windows by mangoetrees. We sat down, and I at once consented to stay the night and next day with him, and in five minutes we had got each other's history, and each had fathomed the weak side of his neighbour; and finding there were assimilating points between us, we pecked holes in each other's garments, nor lost our good-humour in the tilt. A dinner for two, with some prime Allsop's beer, smoked before us at seven, and he delighted equally with myself at sight of a white man's face, we recalled scenes, and numbered mutual friends, and pledged a brimming bumper to them as though we were in public. It was a gay night indeed for a party of two, the only men of their colour and creed within the large city. We made speeches, proposed toasts, discussed the affairs of homes that we might never see again. Ah, well! Allsop is a strange fellow, and whatever he puts in his beer I neither know nor care ; but, be it what it may, the beverage is a good one, and somewhat potent withal, not savouring, as Sir John's sack, of weak potations, leading to undesirable results, but, decidedly having the effect of heightening the spirits and lighting up the fancy, if taken in the ratio of three bottles per man. So Allsop conquered ; and not burdened with dress, save pyjamas or loose trousers, and shirts, I forgot I was at the table of a political, and we hobnobbed together with mutual zest. About midnight we turned in upon couch beds, and the musquitoes trumpeted stoutly in our ears; but Allsop had made us proof against their attacks, and we both went to sleep with a good story upon our lips.

On awaking at breakfast-time on the following morning, I scarcely could see, for having passed the night without a musquito-net, my face, and especially my eyelids, were so inflamed, that my head felt double its natural size. We passed the day together; and having much anxiety myself to continue my passage up the Sutlej, we dined at four P.M., so as to permit of my going comfortably on board the same after


At six o'clock, a couple of smart Arabs were at the door, and my friend, springing into the saddle, in the same garb he wore the previous night, stated his intention of seeing me on board my boat. When we arrived at the sandbank to which she was moored, we found the manjee and his men and my own domestics employed in cooking their evening meal; the fires blazed up cheerily, and the merry laugh went round from fire to fire.

“Ah, well, old fellow, you cannot start till morning, and I must e'en stay here until you do; for not having seen a white face for months, I may not see one for as many more.”

The cabin of the boat being confined for two, we got the only chair it contained, and my little camp-table, placed upon the sand, the-remnant of an old charpoy belonging to the manjee served as a second chair, and knocking the top off a bottle of Allsop with the blade of a “ regulation,” for my establishment did not possess a corkscrew, we talked “sub coelo" of days that had gone, and of future anticipations,

“ Did you know W of the -?” I stated that I did not. “ Well! lying here reminds me of the night before we lost him, and a great loss to the corps he was; and his poor wife,—'My Kate,' as he used to call her, I wonder what has become of her. He was my friend; amiable, gentle, unpresuming; but to many who knew him not, he appeared reserved. Fifteen long years of service had given him a company, during which time he had not led the gay life and thoughtless existence of a bachelor, but one that had been better suited for a disciple of St. Benedict. He was, therefore, no friend of the dissipated and gay, but by them esteemed a bookworm' and a 'wet blanket. His increase of pay and allowances consequent on the promotion for which he had patiently waited came at last, and he some time after was enabled thereby to avail himself of his furlough to Europe. For three years he was, as it were, lost to the corps; but at the expiration of that period he rejoined, a Benedict, and evidently a happy one. His wife, a sweet girl of eighteen, was welcomed to the regiment with much good feeling, and it afforded a little innocent remark and trite amusement, to witness the intense romantic attachment to his wife which the bachelor of thirty-six years displayed in all his thoughts and actions ; but strong as it was, she was deserving of it, for love towards him for whom she had left her mother and her sisters, and the healthful climate of her rural home, was responsive indeed. But their happiness was not of long duration ; ere they had been many days with the regiment, an order came to prepare for immediate service, for Sale was blockaded in Jellalabad. W- was too good a soldier and too brave a man to hesitate between duty and affection; he made proper arrangements for the establishment of his wife during his absence, calmly and collectedly; yet beneath his unruffled brow a kind heart was breaking.

“We marched, and from myself, a married man similarly situated, though not so recently a lover, he claimed the sympathy of one who he thought could feel for him, a consolation in his grief, and a refuge whither to flee to. The same feeling of bereavement racked my own breast, but I bore it the better that he claimed so much, and though formerly somewhat indifferent to each other, we became inseparable friends, and on the outlying picket, or nightly bivouac, we stole aside, and spoke of our wives. Poor W-; how excited he would get on these occasions ! My Kate, as he called her, “if ever an angel lived in the flesh, it was my Kate!'

“ He could not divest himself of the feeling that he would never see her again, and this feeling was most urgent on the night of —th April, 1842. Our baggage had been looted by the Affredis, and for some days we had been occupying a fort which was untenable, and which it was deemed absolutely necessary to abandon ; it was a miserable stronghold, built upon a rising ground in the centre of the noted Kyber, commanded from other heights, and neither supplied with guns nor provisions. A


retrograde movement was, therefore, ordered on the following morning, and injunctions as to the part each was to take made privately known. That night, with the clear, hard, starry sky of the mountains playing upon us, W- and I slept beneath the same posteen on the flinty rock of Ali Musjid ; the mountainous defile of the Kyber retiring behind us, ravine after ravine. It was under such circumstances that poor W-raved of his ‘Kate' for the last time. We commenced our retrograde movement without the heartstirring bugle or fife, for much chance of success existed in keeping our plans secret from the Affredis, who, in hordes, occupied the heights around. Wmanded the rear-guard, the point of danger, but the post of honour, for scarcely had the little fort been evacuated by our troops, before it was filled by a cloud of mountaineers, and from that moment until our rejoining the brigade at the mouth of the pass, it was one uninterrupted scene of strife. W—fought his men with the gallantry of a soldier ; he coolly and obstinately disputed every inch of ground, and repelled every onset of the enemy in his rear. From a spur of the mountain jutting into the pass, and where the latter takes a sudden turn to the right, the bullet sped that made poor Kate a widow; entering the left breast, and passing completely through the lungs : a few minutes, during which he was sufficiently sensible to acknowledge the thanks of his commanding officer and the farewell of us all, and poor W-'s anticipations of dying within the passes were fulfilled !"

[blocks in formation]

We talked on subjects like these until past midnight, when I crept under my musquito-net in the little cabin, while my friend, contrary to all recommendation, coiled himself up on the old charpoy, and Kissun threw a sheet over him. By peep of day, the manjee was astir, and I arose to bid my new friend farewell; and whilst shaking him by the hand, I felt it hot and feverish ; his sleep upon the sandbank of the river had worked him ill, and I bid him good-by with a feeling of more interest than I could well account for; and the huge sail filling, the boat shot out into the stream. I looked after him as he mounted his Arab, and galloped homewards to escape the sun ; but the night-wind had done its work, and I saw him on his arrival in the provinces, a month afterwards, a shadow of what he had been.

Asiat.Journ.N.S. VOL.IV.No.24.

4 G


There is a singular spectacle passing before our eyes in the south of India, equally interesting to the statistical and historical writer, and worthy of contemporaneous remark, as exhibiting the tendency of our rule to check the increase of the Mussulman population, without adopting artificial means for its repression. Whether it was foreseen that our presence would so soon bring about this consummation, it is needless to inquire ; but the fact does not admit of a doubt, that, in the tract of country embraced by the Madras presidency, with the exception of Malabar and Canara, our Mahomedan subjects are rapidly becoming extinct : if we consider their comparatively recent arrival in the south, the events that befel their brief possession of power, their habitual indolence, and neglect of peaceful pursuits, we shall find reasons enough for their sudden disappearance, and shall perhaps be surprised that they have so long continued to cumber the land with their presence.

The first Mahomedan army that penetrated to the south of the river Khistna, ravaged the country of the Bellala rajah, now the Mysore, in the beginning of the fourteenth century, and, about seventy years after, it was followed by another army, which reached the island of Ramisseram; in both instances, however, no permanent possession was taken of the conquered provinces, which appear to have reverted to their original sovereigns after the retirement of the invading forces. All that was done was but a repetition of the slaughter, the forcible conversions, and the rapine that marked the progress of the early intruders from beyond the Indus; and it is to be presumed that, after such enormities, few men were bold enough, even if they had the desire, to straggle from the line of march and settle down among the Hindoos.

After the breaking up of the empire of the Deccan, when the viceroys in the provinces had secured to themselves the independent possession of the districts they had been sent to govern, they turned their attention to the nominally tributary states south of the Khistna, and their armies soon overran all the countries between that river and the Panaur. Secra was taken in 1644 ; Vellore two years after ; Sidhout in 1650 ; and Gingee in 1669. At these places the Mahomedan lieutenants established the authority of their masters; and from these dates, and not earlier, may the real possession of that part of southern India by the Mussulmans be said to have commenced. Trichinopoly was taken in 1736 ; and in 1743, Arcot, which had been built in 1716, was bestowed upon Anwar-ud-Deen Khan, from which year may be also dated not only the real possession of the districts south of the Panaur, but the great influx of Mahomedan settlers. Anwar-ud-Deen had been eighteen years governor of Chicacole previous to his appointment to Arcot; and so popular had he rendered himself to the men of his own faith, by his liberality and encouragement of immigration, that he was accompanied or followed to the south by not only his own retainers,

« ZurückWeiter »