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L E T T E R VIII.
Rampore, February 5th, 1783. MY DEAR SIR,
The desire on every occasion of testifing the sense I entertain of your friendship, prompts me to give you
the relation of my route from Furruckabad to Rampore. The progress of the first day, the 29th January, 1783, which was a long one,—not less than eighteen cosses,<-brought me and my horse, both greatly jaded, to Kytterah ; a large village on the
west side of the Ganges.
The next day at Allahapour, nine cosses.—This place not being a common stage, nor containing a serauce, my accommodations were slender, and those extorted by the force of bold language, and a few extra pence. At Allahapour there is only one house of entertainment, and that for the article of eating only ; – you may sleep where you can. After supper, I proposed to the landlady with every token of decorum, that we should lodge that night under the same roof. The dame misconstruing the purpose of my request, and fired with indigna- tlOll tion at the idea of its indecency, poured on me a torrent of reproach. In the exercise of the tongue a female of Hindostan hath few equals; and if she hath ever followed a camp, I would pronounce her invincible on any ground in Europe. An English woman, educated at our most noted seminaries, and skilled in all the various compass of debate, will, perhaps, on some interesting occasion, maintain the contest for an hour, which then terminates in blows and vićtory. But an Indian dame, improved by a few campaigns, has been known to wage a colloquial war, without introducing one manual effort, for the space of three successive days 5 sleeping and eating at reasonable intervals.” There is a fertility of imagination, a power of expression, inherent in the mind, and vocal ability, of an Asiatic, particularly a female one, which cannot be engendered in the cold head of an European : and there is an extent of language also peculiar to the East, which the limits of Western speech do not contain.—Let me not forget the story of my landlady, whose words, shrill and piercing, yet seem to vibrate in my ear.—With every symptom of a virulent female pride, and the semblance of outrageous virtue, she declared that I should not sleep under her roof.-I might, if I liked, place my bed on the out-side of the door.—Finding the night growing cold, and not being impressed with sentiments of respect for mine hostess, whose person had nothing lovely in it, I planted my bed somewhat rudely in the midst of her apartment, telling her, she might dispose of herself as she deemed most fitting, but that my deportment would be chaste, and consistent with the rules of honor, though appearances might be unfavourable. The good woman perceiving my inattention to her clamorous representation, was glad to compound the matter, and take a small pecuniary compensation, for the injury her charaćter might suffer. ON the next day I went to Badam, a station of eight cosses.— Badam is said to have been founded four hundred years ago, by one of the Seljukian kings; and from a magnificent extensive city, is now sunk into a small mouldering town. The ruins of the fort still serve to exhibit a mortifying pićture of former grandeur; but such is the reverse of its condition, that the howling wolf, and the screeching owl, now become its only tenants, have supplanted the gay damsel, and the care soothing minstrel. Then, my friend, 'ere thy youthful blood ceases to run lightly through its now elas. tic channels, ere thy mind refuses longer to receive the glowing tints of fancy's pencil, - seize the fair pleasures of the hour, and following the precepts of our Hafez, leave the rest to fate —I passed this evening in the company of the fair, (though the epithet may not literally apply to our Indian ladies), who, for a moderate offering, sung, laughed, and danced around me until mid-night. ON the 1st of February, after a tedious journey of fourteen Vol. I. N cosses, cosses, leading through a lonely unhospitable country, I arrived at Owlah.-Of the few fellow-travellers pursuing the the same track, two wolves, a fox, and two hares, composed the greater number. The shrubs and high grass had so concealed the path, that I was completely bewildered, and had lost my way, when a small village on an eminence attracted my notice, and held out the prospect of relief: but such is the instability of sublunary pleasure, that this promising mark proved a false beacon. The hamlet was unroofed, and its inhabitants had sought a more friendly land. Then, in the bitterness of my heart, I gave up Shujah-ud-Dowlah to as many devils as chose to take him, and was about consigning the English to the same crew, for having expelled from a country which they had made populous and opulent, the extensive tribe of Rohillas. How insatiable, cruel, and how destructive, even of its own purposes, appears ambition, when placed in this light. It prompted a prince, already possessed of an ample fair territory, to seize, with barely the colour of pretence, the domain of his neighbours, who by a salutary system of government, had enriched their country, and had made their names respected. The conqueror, by the fortune of war, subjećts into a province this flourishing territory, which is soon converted into desolate plains, and deserted villages. This is not, I trust, the language of exaggeration, or the colouring of fancy. It is a simple, grievous truth, forcing itself on the notice of the most cursory observer.—The town of Owlah, once
* Such prolonged engagements are distinguished by the particular term of “baus) Lerhay,” or the stale war.
crowded with inhabitants, and adorned with mosques and spacious
buildings, buildings, is now verging to ruin, and many of its streets are choaked up with fallen habitations. On the 2d of February, at Shahabad, fourteen cosses, a large village in the distrićts of Fyze-ullah-Khan. The whole of this chief's country evinces the beneficial effects arising from the encouragement of husbandry, and the aid of an ačtive government. Populous villages, skirted by extensive fields of corn, are seen on all sides ; and the haughty independent spirit which invariably pervades every class of the people, mark their abhorrence of despotism. Many of the Rohillas, who had been driven from the country after the death of Hafiz Rhamut, have settled in this quarter. ON the 3d, at Rampour, fourteen cosses. Fyze-ullah-Khan, resides in this town, which the general resort of his civil and military officers, has now made populous, and wealthy.
I am, Dear Sir,
[The following history of the Rohillas, and Shujah-ud-Dowlah, compiled since the date of the letters, is founded on sundry original documents, and various local information, obtained during my residence in the northern parts of India, and has been introduced in this place, though interrupting the series of the letters, to bring into one view, a body of relative facts.]
N 2 HISTORY