Page images
PDF
EPUB

quality is produced, together with extensive falt-petre works, have rendered Patna opulent, and the center of an extensive commerce. The different manufactures of silver, iron, and wood, are little inferior in this city, to those of Europe ; and when the rudeness of the tools, with the fimplicity of the process, is examined, the degree of delicacy which the artisans have acquired in their several professions, must challenge a high admiration.

The numerous ruins of public and private edifices, scattered through the town of Patna, and its environs, indicate a former grandeur - and extent, which now no longer exist. An ancient name of this place, still known to some of the more intelligent inhabitants, and bearing an affinity to that given, by Strabo and Pliny, to the supposed capital of India, has suggested an opinion, that Patna occupies the situation of the celebrated Palibertha ; which is farther substantiated by the geographical observations of Major Rennel.-Curiosity, and the desire of the moment to indulge a melancholy idea, led me to the spot, where the English were massacred by the order of Caffum Ali. The former buildings are removed, and a well proportioned monument has been erected in commemoration of that dreadful event, though without any infcription. Perhaps it had been consistent with sounder policy, that no such memorial had been fixed; but as it was judged expedient to record, thus publicly, an act of treacherous cruelty, the cause, I think, should have been explained.

On the 13th of July, I left Patna, and on the same day arrived Vol, I.

D

[ocr errors]

at

1

at Muzufferpour, the residence of the Collector of Tirhoot, an extensive district, about forty miles to the northward of Patna, and producing a revenue of about six and a half lacks of rupees.

In the neighbourhood of Muzufferpour, an action was fought in 1760, between Mherim, the eldest son of Meer Jaffier, assisted by the English troops, and Kadim Hussein Khan, the chief of Purnea, in which the latter was defeated. A few days after the engagement, Mherim died, struck, it was said, by lightening. The father believed that his fon had been cut off by an assassin, and he loudly accused Cassum Ali of the murder. The event having removed a strong bar to Cassum's ambition, and there also appearing fome suspicious circumstances, attending the alledged cause of his death, Meer Jaffier may be justified in believing, that his son had been taken off, by an avowed rival, who was seen at a subsequent period, indulging an implacable and fanguinary temper.

On the 30th of July, crossed the country, and went to Choprah, a long straggling town, lying on the northern side of the Ganges, about twenty miles above Patna. Choprah is the resia dence of the Collector of Sarun and Champoran; districts yielding an annual revenue of fourteen and an half lacks of

rupees.

The French and Dutch bad* factories at this place, chiefly for the purpose of manufacturing salt-petre, in which commodity this part

of

• This letter was written during the war with France and Holland, when there places had been captured by the English.

the

the country profusely abounds. It is not unworthy of notice to remark, that the Dutch, though obliged to purchase the greater portion of their crude falt-petre from the English, were enabled to sell it in its purified state, at a lower rate than that manufactured by the. English Company, and of a superior quality. This com: mercial advantage, may be ascribed to the rigid system of economy observed by the Dutch in all their operations, and to a persevering attention to business, with which that people feem constitutionally endowed.

On the 12th of August, left Choprah, and on the 17th arrived by water at Buxar. It was in the vicinity of this place that Caffum Ali, joined by Shujah-ud-Dowlah, with the whole of that Prince's army, made his last effort against the arms of the English. The superior numbers of the enemy who crowded the plains of Buxar, availed them little, when opposed to the small, but well arranged, and determined body of the English ; who after a smart action of two hours, completely routed the combined forces, and captured the whole of their artillery. This action, heretofore so amply described, had not perhaps now been adverted to, but for the impulse of an earnest desire of imprinting anew on your memory, the services performed on that day by the British troops ; to whom their country stands indebted for a singular exaltation of its fame, and the acquisition of solid benefits.

The fort of Buxar, which, though small, is yet sufficiently tenable to resist the common attacks of a native power, stands

D 2

[ocr errors]

on

on the exterior limits of the Bahar province. The present Commandant has added to the strength of the fort by some late improvements; and for a more extensive protection of the inhabitants of the adjacent town, he has encompassed a wide space to the eastward of the fortifications, with a rampart and ditch.

The curiosities to be seen at Buxar are few, and, excepting one, not worthy of enumeration. But this one, the Hindoos hold in a degree of estimation not inferior to that of the Neapolitans for the blood of Saint Januarius, or those of their faith in general for the holy house at Loretto. The monument in question, which is erected on a small mount to the westward of the fort, is sacred to the memory of the Gold Ram, who is seen occasionally officiating as the Mars of the Hindoos; and is said to have the direction of war and victory. It would appear, that Ram, whilst a youth, made a visit to this eminence, and tarried on it for the space of seven days, where he was taught from some learned master of the science, the art of managing the bow, and wonderful were his feats with this weapon in after times : indeed, were the most moderate of them to be recorded, it would be readily admitted without torturing the phrase, that Ram“ drew a long 6 bow,”

At the distance of two miles to the westward of Buxar, the Torin Nullah, a rivulet which falls into the Ganges, terminates the province of Bahar, and divides it from Benares, Though the Caramnassa river, from being of greater note than the Nullah,

and

and running contiguous to it, is generally denominated the boundary. In crossing this river on service, the officers on the Bengal establishment become intitled to a double portion of their usual pay, for the better enabling them to defray the extraordinary expences incurred in countries far distant from the sea coasts, and where European articles, from the charges of conveyance, fell at an advanced price.

The view from Buxar into the Benares province, presents a. scene of infinite gratification to the sense. You see an extended plain skirted by a broad winding river, and chequered with exuberant fields of corn, groves of lofty spreading trees, and large villages ; the whole combines in it fome of the grandest objects in nature, and impresses the mind with cheerfulness and content.

LEFT Buxar on the 23d, and arrived on the 26th at Benares, to which city from Mongheer, the distance by water is about 289 miles.

In the relation of this failing excursion through the provinces, you will doubtless see many inaccuracies. You will likewise see that I have too narrowly circumscribed the description of a country, which with a fertility that conveys the idea of plenty, and national security, holds out to the eye, a grand and various scope of the most beautiful imagery.

I am, Dear Sir,

Yours, Se, &c.

1

LET

« PreviousContinue »