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AVourpour, 1783. D EAR SIR, \ . - - O N the 22d of last month, I had the pleasure of describing to you my journey from Lall Dong to Bellaspour, and I can now with pleasure say, that unhurt by the Sicques, tygers, or thieves, I âm safely lodged in Nourpour, the principal town of a distrićt of the same name. From the western bank of the Setloud, we proceeded on the 24th of March to the village of Comour Hattee, eight cosses. An Hattee, which in the language of this country fignifies retail shop, affords the best accommodation for a traveller, and I always endeavoured to make one my halting place. There I procured wheat, wheat-meal, pease, and ghee,” of which my common fare is composed, and by the applying in civil terms, the shop keeper commonly indulged me with the use of the front part of his shop. On the 25th, in the Bellaspour army—ten cosses. It will not demand the pen of Homer to describe the different powers which formed this camp; their strength, the names and charaćters of their leaders, or the situation of the ground which they occupied : suffice it to say, that about 300 horses, and 8000 foot-men, armed with match-locks, swords, spears, and clubs, were huddled together on two sides of a hill, in a deep state of confusion and filth. Having refided for the space of four months in this spot under small sheds made of the boughs of trees, you will naturally suppose, that the effects resulting from the situation could neither have been pleasant or salutary. In all, were four very ordinary tents, one of which was occupied by the generalissimo, a brother, and I believe an elder one, of the late chief of Bellaspour; for the order of succession in the line of primogeniture, is not at this day strićtly adhered to in India, either amongst the Hindoos, or Mahometans. This personage, from age, being incapable of performing any active duty, had appointed a younger brother to the executive command. The Ranee, with her son, a youth of about ten years of age, and a favourite Sunnassee, had retired during the war to an adjacent fort, where she direéted the general operation of the war. Having entered thus far into the history of Bellaspour, I will proceed to explain some parts of the story of this lady, which as they tend to place female condućt in a distinguished point of view, I embrace the occasion with pleasure. And here permit me to declare with a fervent fincerity, and an honourable sense of the dignity of charaćter to which I aspire, that I am a zealous friend of women, and that as far as the offering of my mite will contribute to their aid, or to
* Butter boiled, in which state it is always used for culinary purposes in India.
a display a display of their various merit, it shall be held forth with a willing hand. QUITTING these encomiums on myself rather than on the sex, I am to inform you that the Beilaspour Rance, on the death of the late chief, which happened about three or four year ago, declared herself the guardian of her son, and regent of the country. She was opposed in this purpose by her husband's brother, the person who now commands the army; and she had also to combat the many difficulties incident in this country to her sex, the most embarrassing of which was a preclusion from public appearance; yet baffling every attempt made to subvert her authority, she firmly established herself in the government. * The event of the Ranee's success, brought on the confinement of her competitor; but after a short time, during which he experienced a lenient treatment, he was released. This dame of spirit, who hath evinced strong traits of a disposition fitted for condućting either military or civil schemes and who hath hitherto been fortunate in them, is at this day enthralled by the force of love. Whether this passion is to be classed amongst the alloys of our virtues, according to the doćtrine of already possessed, and even creates good qualities in us, as the elegant Yorick has advanced, are questions submitted, with a due deference to the intricacy of the subject, to those who are skilled in the extensive passion of love. The objećt of this lady's favour I saw, and the choice she has made is a proof of good taste. He is a young handsome Hindoo, of a religious tribe, who, contrary to the usage of his sect, which is founded on rules almost as severe as those of the Carthusians, dresses gayly, and in the Mahometan fashion. From a certain levity, though politeness of manners, set off by the delicate fancy of his apparel, you at the first glance pronounce him a favourite of the women. Such are the changes which love can produce, even amongst a people who observe their religious ordinances with a scrupulousness irreconcileable to common sense, and which in some instances border on gross absurdity.” Thus much for the Ranee of Bellaspour, to whom be all success
* It has already been observed in the letter on Hindoo mythology, that amongst the Hindoos a woman on the demise of the husband becomes an inefficient member in the family, but in the present day this ordinance is often over-ruled by the intervention of power, wealth, or intrigue. In this note it may not be improper to mention, that the Hindoos use the epithet, “ widowed,” as descriptive of futility, or of any contemptible and nugatory ačt.
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I Now learned that my progress towards the Kangrah army, would without the protection of an escort, be attended with much risk. In order to procure so essential an accommodation I waited on the commander in chief, then fitting under a banian tree, and attended by his principal officers, the greater part of them clad in native buff. Some new levies were passing in review before
him, that had come in from the country, or rather the woods;
for they bore a strong resemblance to the description given in heathen story of the satyrs, fawns, and other branches of the sylvan race; nor do I think that all the powers of a Prussian drill serjeant, c.tensive as they are, could have impressed on them a competent knowledge of military discipline. On approaching the chief, I made him an offering of a rupee, laid on the corner of my vest. You will be pleased to notice, that the piece of money is, not to be placed on the naked hand, but on a handkerchief, or some part of the garment held out for that purpose; and though the superior shall be disposed to favour the client, yet from motives of generosity, or an attention to his condition, it often happens, that he does not take the offering, but touches it with his finger. The honour is then supposed to be conferred, and the hope of obtaining protećtion or assistance, if sought for, is entertained. The chief received me with civility, and complied with the request, that our party might be permitted to accompany the first messenger who should be dispatched into the Kangrah camp; and he also intimated, that some letters which were preparing, would soon be forwarded. He looked obliquely at my offering, which he touched, but would not receive. A day or two afterwards, I discovered this mountaineer to be composed of the same materials, which with few deviations form the common disposition of the natives of India.
On visiting him a second time, attended only by the cotewaul,”
* An officer of police.
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