Page images
PDF
EPUB

sents, “are in general strong and well made ;

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

accustomed from their infancy to the most laborious life, and hardest fare, they make marches, and undergo fatigues that really appear astonishing. In their excursions they carry no tents or baggage, except, perhaps, a small tent for the principal officer: the rest shelter themselves under blankets, which serve them also in the cold weather to wrap themselves in, and which, on a march, cover their saddles. They have commonly two, some of them three, horses each, of the middle size, strong, active, and mild tempered. The provinces of Lahore and Moultan, noted for a breed of the best horses in Hindostan, afford them an ample supply ; and indeed they take the greatest care to increase it by all means in their power. Though they make merry on the demise of any of their brethren, they mourn for the death of a horse: thus shewing their love of an animal so necessary to them in their professional capacity. The food of the Sicques is of the coarsest kind, and such as the poorest people in Hindostan use from necessity. Bread, baked in ashes, and soaked in a mash made of different sorts of pulse, is the best dish, and such as they never indulge in but wien.at full leisure; otherwise, vetches and tares, hastily parched, is all they

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

care for. They abhor smoaking tobacco, for what reason I cannot discover; but intoxicate themselves freely with spirits of their own country manufacture. A cup of the last they never fail taking after a fatigue at night. Their dress is extremely scanty : a pair of long blue drawers, and a kind of checkered plaid, a part of which is fastened round the waist, and the other thrown over the shoulder, with a mean turban, form their clothing and equipage. The chiefs are distinguished by wearing some heavy gold bracelets on their wrists, and sometimes a chain of the same metal bound round their turbans, and by being mounted on better horses: otherwise, no distinction appears amongst them. The chiefs are numerous, some of whom have the command of ten or twelve thousand cavalry; but this power is confined to a small number, the inferior officers maintaining from one to two thousand, and many not more than twenty or thirty horses; a certain quota of which is furnished by the chief, the greater part being the individual property of the horsemen.”

From the spirit of independence so invariably

infused amongst them, their mutual jealousy, and rapacious roving temper, the Sicques at this day are seldom seen co-operating in national. concert, but, actuated by the influence of an individual ambition, or private distrust, they pursue such plans only as coincide with these motives. An example of their forces being engaged in opposite interests, has been noticed in the case of Mhah Sing, who succoured the Rajah of Jumbo, against the Sicque party, which had invaded his country. Before the chiefs of the Mountaineers country, at the head of the Punjab, were reduced to a tributary state, severe depredations were committed on them by the Sicques, who plundered and destroyed their habitations, carried off the cattle, and, if strong and well formed, the male children, who were made converts to the faith of Nanock. But since the payment of a fixed tribute has been stipulated, which does not amount to more than five per cent, on the revenue, the Mountaineers are little molested, except when the Sicques have been called in to adjust their domestic quarrels. THE extensive and fertile territory of the Sicques, and their attachment and application in the midst of warfare to the occupations of agriculture, must evidently produce a large revenue. The districts dependent on Lahore in the reign of Aurungzebe, produced, according

[ocr errors]

to Mr. Bernier, a revenue of two hundred and forty-six lacks and ninety-five thousand rupees"; and we are naturally led to suppose, from the industrious skill of the Sicques in the various branches of cultivation, that no great decrease of that amount can have taken place since the Punjab has fallen into their possession. AN extensive and valuable commerce is also maintained in their country, which has been extended to distant quarters of India; particularly to the provinces of Bengal and Bahar, where many Sicque merchants of opulence at this time reside. The Omichund who took so active, though unfortunate, a share in the revolution, which the English effected in Bengal, was a Sicque; as is his adopted son, who is now an inhabitant of Calcutta, Merchants of every nation or sect, who may introduce a traffick into their territories, or are established under their government, experience a full protection, and enjoy commercial privileges in common with their own subjects. At the same time it must be noticed, that such immunities are granted only to those who remain amongst them, orimport wares for the immediate supply of the Sicquemarkets. But the foreign traders, or even travellers, who attempt

* Two millions four hundred and sixty-nine thousand five hundred pounds sterling, at two shillings for the rupee.

WOL. I. Z

to pass through the Punjab, are often plundered, and usually ill-treated. In the event of no molestation being offered to people of this description, the escape is ever spoken of with a degree of joyful surprise, and a thanksgiving is offered to Providence for the singular escape. This conduct, inimical to the progress of civilization, and an impediment to the influx of wealth, proceeds from an extreme jealousy of strangers, added to a rapacity of temper, which make them averse to the encouragement of any scheme in whose success they do not immediately participate. The Sicques are not rigorous in their stipulations with the Mahometan proselytes, who, if they abstain from beef's flesh (which is held in equal abhorrence by the Sicques as by the Hindoos), and perform the more ostensible duties, as burning their dead, and preserving the hair of the head, an indulgent latitude is granted in all the other articles of the creed of Nanock. The Mahometans who reside in the Punjab, are subject to occasional oppression, and often to the insult of the lower classes of the people; among whom it is not an uncommon practice to defile the places of worship, by throwing in the carcases of hogs and other things held impure by the Musselman law. The Mahometans are also prohibited from ans

« PreviousContinue »