Page images

taught the use of letters, and are minutely instrućted in the know.' ledge of every attraction and blandishment, which can operate in communicating the sensual pleasure of love. These women are not obliged to seek shelter in private haunts, nor are they, on account of their professional condućt, marked with opprobrious stigma. They compose a particular class of society, and enjoy the avowed protećtion of government, for which they are assessed according to their several capacities. No religious ceremony or festival is thought to be completely performed, with the accompanyment of dancing women. They usually attend on a certain day of the week, at the court of the prince or governor of the distrićt, either to make an obeisance, or exhibit a professional entertainment; and in some of the provinces, they are endowed with grants of the public lands.” An Hindoo family is governed with efficient power by the male senior member, to whom the other branches shew an attentive respect, and in domestic life a ready submission. A son will not fit in the presence of his father without express defire, and in his deportment and conversation, observes to him a dutiful, as well

[ocr errors][merged small]

as affe&tionate, behaviour. In the course of a long residence in India, and rather a close investigation of Hindoo customs and manners, I never discovered what our language has termed a free thinker.* The most celebrated charaćters amongst the Hindoos, and their men of the world, as Scindia, Nanah Purnawees, F and the Bhohulla, believe the tenets of the doćtrine of Brimha with as much sincerity, and practice the minutest ceremony with as much forupulous attention, as the simplest or most bigotted peasant in the country. I am, Dear Sir, - Yours, &c. &c.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]


Benares, 30th Wovember, 1782. MY DEAR SIR,

ON the 3d of this month, I made an excursion to Bidgi-ghur,” a place rendered famous in the Bengal annals, from a large amount of plunder acquired there by the English troops. On the first day, I arrived at Lutteef-ghur, about 18 miles to the southwest of Bernares. The fort was entirely deserted, and the passage approaching to it is almost choaked up by brushwood, and the projected branches of trees. Lutteef ghur stands in the centre of a circular range of hills, from the summit of which, a thick, and in most places a high wood, reaches to the walls of the fort. The air of this spot being deprived of a quick circulation, has acquired a malignant quality, and communicates its pernicious influence to all animal bodies. It is in these situations, where as it is termed, the hill fever is produced :-a disease,

which pervading every part of the animal deconomy, contaminates

* Bidgi and Idgi, according to the mythology of the Hindoos, keep watch at the gate of Paradise; Ghur, in the Hindoo, is a fortress or strong hold.


the whole mass of blood, and will only yield to the power of mercury. The water also in such places partakes of the like baneful property: –it should seem that the air infuses into this element, a certain portion of that pestiferous quality, with which the climate of woody and confined countries in India is ever pregnant. The falling of the branches and leaves into rivulets and reservoirs of water, may likewise increase the noxious effect. Having frequently witnessed the ill effects of a confined air, I am the more emboldened to hazard these conjećtures ; which I will close with noticing to you, that wherever I have observed an impurity of air the water has been equally pernicious.

At the gate of the fort, had taken up his lonely residence, a Mahometan Faquir, who bore on him, poor man evident proofs of the destrućtive climate of Lutteef-ghur ;—he was meagre, wan, and nearly consumed by the violence of a fever and ague. When I desired him to leave so melancholy a station, and go where he might recover his health, he shewed little attention to the advice, and prefered, he said, an existence in this place, under a load of misery and the precarious charity of passengers, to the risk of starving in places where he might be wholly unknown.

On the 4th, after a Journey of about twenty miles, I arrived near the foot of Bidgi-ghur hill, where I slept, and in the morning walked up to the fort, which is a circumvallation of the crown of a rocky hill, measuring from the immediate base to the summit, a little more perhaps than two miles.


The artificial fortification is neither strong, nor is it composed of substantial materials, as is seen by a fissure of the wall, caused by the rains of the last year, and also by a breach that was made during the siege ; which shew that the wall is chiefly composed of rough stones cemented with clay. This strong hold owes its importance solely to its height and steepness; and had it been defended with a common share of condućt and spirit, the capture would have been attended with much difficulty and bloodshed. It has been said indeed, that exclusively of the hazardous attempt of taking Bidgi-ghur by storm, the greater part of the troops would have been destroyed by fevers, had they remained in that quarter a month longer. Three deep reservoirs, excavated on the top of the hill, plentifully supply the garrison with water. Some of the bastions on the eastern side are supported by branches of the rock, which projecting horizontally eight or ten feet from the summit, holds out in the air a solid foundation. The prospect around is diversified and pićturesque, but when you throw the eye on the deep and rugged precipice beneath, the view is infinitely grand, though not divested of that horror, which naturally affects the mind in contemplating objećts from so abrupt a height. The rising and setting sun at Bidgi-ghur exhibits a magnificent scene, and excites a train of ideas strongly impressed with a grateful admiration of the first cause of nature. The view of the setting sun takes in the river Soane, which is seen winding its stream, brightened by the

rays of the western light, through a long tract of diversified coun


« PreviousContinue »