Page images

that I began to believe it. I must here inform you, that having been seen two or three times writing on the road, 1 was told by one of the passengers that is was an European custom, and a very useless one. The remark alarmed me, but I told him without much hesitation, that I had been always accustomed to write my current expences, that at the end of the year I might ascertain the amount, and not exceed my income. My remarks were usually noted in a rude Persian character; but whilst I was writing an English letter from this place, a Kashmirian who was sitting near me, and who had formerly served on board one of our country ships, observed, that I wrote from the left to the right in the European manner: but on being told that the Turks used the same method, he seemed satisfied. From an inattention to one of the forms of my new character, instead of sitting down, as the Asiatics invariably do in the performance of urinal evacuation, I used occasionally to stand upright; and being severely reprehended for this uncleanliness, I alleged that the habit was not uncommon amongst soldiers, who from the hurry of service, and their dissipated course of life, make many deviations from the rules of decorum. But the want of penetration, or the good humour in which we lived

together, has prevented my companions from seeing through my disguise, which I now entertain sanguine hopes of preserving to the end of my journey. I am, dear Sir, Yours, &c. &c.


Nourpouty 1783.

Dear Sir,

On 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, tigers, or thieves, I am safely lodged in Nourpour, the principal town of a district

'of the same name. From the western bank of the Setloiid, we proceeded on the 24th of March to the village of Comour Hattee,—eight cosses. An Hattee, which in the language of this country signifies 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 terras> the shopkeeper commonly indulged me with the use of the front part of his shop.

* Butter boiled, in which state it is always used for culinary purposes in n dia.

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 characters 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 resided 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 strictly 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 directed 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 conduct in a distinguished point of view, I embrace the occasion with pleasure. And here permit me to declare with a fervent sincerity, and an honourable sense of the dignity of character 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 a display of their various merit, it shall be held forth with a willing hand.

Quitting these encomiums on myself rather lhan on the sex, I am to inform you that the Bellaspour Ranee, on the death of the late chief, which happened about three or four years ago, declared herself the guardian of her son, and regent of the country. She was opposed in this purposely 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

* 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 ot

« PreviousContinue »