APPROACH TO THE SIKH CAPITAL OF MAHARAJA RANJIT SINGH IN ALL ITS GLORY.
In the travelogue penned by Baron Charles Hugel of his tortuous, circuitous and labyrinthine route ascending the activities and descending the declivities in a hot and humid and elsewhere extremely cold climate has been poignantly and painstakingly narrated as follows:
Shujanpoor is seen at a great distance, and is remarkable for the 'six date-trees in its cemetery, where I took up my quarters. I ordered my bed to be put into a mosque most conveniently near, while my dinner was being cooked in another. This caused a violent altercation, for it turned out that the spot we had chosen belonged to the fakir of the town, one of those mendicants who subsist on the bounty of the simple natives. He had just made preparation to feed ‘his falcons on some tame fowls, and was looking forward to the gratification of witnessing the ease with which his birds of prey would kill and tear the poor fowls, when he caught sight of my people kindling a fire with his wood, which the coldness of the evening compelled us to have recourse to. Backed by a number of the inhabitants, who had armed themselves with spears and sticks, the fakir assailed my servants with a volley of imprecations, and soon put them all to flight. I had the greatest difficulty to make myself heard amid this uproar. At length, the fakir came up to me, and complained bitterly of the depredation committed on the store of wood he had Jaid up for the winter’s consumption. I told him that we could not possibly remain there all night without a fire, but that he should be amply repaid for what we had consumed. ‘To this arrangement, however, he would not accede, but said he wanted his wood, and remained immovable in his purpose to keep his property to himself; at length, seeing that words were unavailing, I directed the men to follow me, and proceeded without further to do, to the stack of contested fuel; the fakir standing by and uttering not a word, while we were helping ourselves to the quantity we stood in need of the dilemma in which the traveller often finds himself in India, under similar circumstances, would perhaps demand a larger charity than some might be disposed to allow for this mode of procedure.
We could get nothing to eat until night, and then partook of our Christmas dinner dismally enough; the cold in the mosque was most intense. For ten days past we had subsisted on rice, mutton, and occasionally a fowl; all other provisions, including wine, being entirely expended.
Saturday, December 26.-The complete subjection of the Mohammedans‘in this country may be readily inferred. from the circumstance of an unbeliever like myself being suffered to sleep in one mosque and use another as a kitchen. Not that I once closed my eyes in reality, for the dreadful howlings of the village dogs altogether prevented my getting a wink of sleep. In Mohammedan countries these animals have no owner; neither have they in the Panjaéb. Superstition, therefore, has nothing to do with their preservation; but it would be thought very cruel to injure these inoffensive, watchful brutes; no native could be persuaded to kill one; he would merely content himself with taking up a stone, or possibly stooping in a menacing attitude, when the animal approached too near him. These dogs never become attached to any person or house, however young they may be taken, but associate themselves in a wonderful manner to each other. Woe to the stranger who should attempt to obtrude into the village compact of this species.
With the wolves and jackals, they live on a footing of toleration; but the former usually abide in deserted villages or solitary ruins, while the latter prefer the old tenements of inhabited places. The instinct peculiar to dogs which are the companions and friends of men, distinguishes them in every respect from these treacherous and dastardly animals, who can neither defend themselves nor their young; the only quality they possess in common with the domestic dog, is that of watchfulness. As soon as a traveller arrives in a village, half a dozen of them will seat themselves a little way off, and keep up an incessant howl from their mangy wasted skeletons, the prototype of famine and desolation.
The distance from Shujanpoor to Atok is reckoned five kos. We broke up early to gain time enough to visit the latter place and return before nightfall. The plain of Shush (for so they call the plain of the Atok here) is intersected by some small streams, one of which has been better known since the battle between Ranjit Singh’s general, Mokham Chand, and Fatih Khan. By following its course, the Sikhs were enabled to recruit themselves constantly throughout the heat of the day, by which great advantage the contest was decided in their favour, © As we drew nearer to the Indus, we met with large blocks of granite, thrown up and left on the plain by the waters, at the period of its inundations. I longed to behold this great stream, and looked out impatiently from the jampan in which 1 had remained, in order to have my sextants and other instruments ready for observation, pressing the bearers now and then to hurry on, that I might reach it before noon. One mile and a half from the city we came to the height on which Atok is situated, and soon after to a small valley, where the Hindis usually burn they are dead. According to Hindu law, this person are not permitted to reside beyond the Atok, but many Hindu families, nevertheless, are to be found residing both in Peshawur and Kabil, and there can be no doubt of the existence, in former times, of a great Hindé empire on the western shore of the Atok.
There is a remarkable Mohammedan mausoleum with a lofty dome about a mile west of the city, where I took my last observation with the sextant. The map taken by the English officers in Mr. Elphinstone’s suite is complete as far as Atok; I was delighted to put away my own chart, which occupied me two hours every evening, besides much time spent on it on the journey itself.
The suburbs of the city extend as far as this building, though recent wars have laid everything waste to the very walls of the fort. The Indus at this spot is a clear, rapid, but unimportant stream, seven-eighths of its sandy bed being quite dry at this season of the year. Both banks are steep; on the north, they soon become nearly level, but on the southern side, on the contrary, they increase in steepness, and lofty hills arise, to all appearance, from the river itself.
At the distance of half a mile north the point is visible where the L&nder, or Kabdl river, flows into the Atok, in the plain of Shush; while, on the left shore of the Lander, another plain stretches towards the west, where the fort is situated; the bed of the river is strictly confined between mountains of black clay-slate, and at a little distance beyond the fort is the bridge of boats, formed of nineteen immense vessels, built singularly enough, with fine carved work both fore and aft, in imitation of what we might fancy the ships of the Argonauts to have been when they sailed towards Colchis.
I was greatly surprised indeed at the scene which presented itself, In order to enjoy the view more leisurely, I had mounted the stony bank, raised against the wall of the fortress, where some Sikh soldiers had drawn up respectfully to make room for me. My attention was at first more particularly attracted by the fantastic richly-ornamented entrance to the fort, where I stood for some time, waiting for permission to enter. I was stepping forward to get a better idea of the whole, when the officer on duty advanced towards me, and requested I would not attempt to go further; “And why not?” I inquired. “Because Ranjit Singh has given the Diwan orders to introduce you with all due ceremony to the interior.” I was therefore content to look leisurely around me.
Very near the fort was a ruin on some high ground; it was a Serai built by Akbar the Great, which Elphinstone calls a fort; a broad paved road, for cattle, leads down to the Indus between this and the fort, which was also the work of that emperor. From its position on precipitous rocks, it commands a view of the river below; the rapidity of the stream has polished the surface of these rocks like marble. The clear stream itself, its broad bed, with the two huge masses of rock called Jellalia and Kerhellia, now standing up dry, and presenting all their dangers, which render the passage of the Indus so perilous when the waters are high, on account of the terrible whirlpools about them; the bridge of boats; the small plain on the right shore, on which stands the fort of Kairabad; the mountains forming a half-circle beyond, with their watch-towers on the highest summits; and finally, the strange medley of Hindi and Persian costume and features of the various parties bathing, the very lowest degree of Hinddé wretchedness, to the highly polished and richly dressed Persian horsemen with their long lances; composed altogether a very animated and striking scene. But I wished to get down to the brink of this holy stream, the limit of my journey, as it is of many a Hindu pilgrim.
Well, here was I, the first European who had hitherto wandered through this vast empire, from its most southern point at Cape Comorin, to its northern boundary at Atok. I was at the farthest extremity of India, and yet at the nearest point to my own land, had I been but blessed with the wings of a bird to direct my flight thither. Arrived on the shore of the Indus, I looked across to the mountains in the west, and thought of the country hidden beyond them, and of the dangers which attended my homeward return. This feeling of despondency, however, soon left me, and gave place to my customary equanimity as to coming events, the tears which had started unconsciously to my eyes, were dried up, and [ hastily crossed the river. The banks, which rise abruptly on both sides from the sandy bed, are about eighty feet high above the level of the water. The bridge and the river in its present state, may be from forty to forty-five fathoms across, and the stream in the middle about three deep, but the breadth between the two shores must be at least 300. . During the rainy season, this river is filled up from bank to bank, the waters at this time rise as much as fifty feet, when the bridge, which is admirably contrived, and made of the very best timber, is taken to pieces, the boats being employed in navigating the stream; the lower classes sometimes make use of the distended ox-hides, which I have already mentioned, but not frequently, because the passage from one shore to the other in the regular boats costs nothing. They have ropes formed out of leaves of some species of the palm-tree, unknown to me, twisted together. They told me that this palm grows near Atok. I took away one leaf with me, promising five rupees to anyone who would bring me a flower or some of the seeds. Mr. Vigne had taken his post and was sketching on the Kabil side of the Indus, when presently we both saw a showy troop of horsemen ride down the opposite shore, cross the bridge, and approach the spot where we stood. It was Khan Singh, who was deputed by Ranjit Singh; he came with the Thanadar, in the name of Kashmir Singh, Ranjit’s’ son, who was then governor, to request me to visit the fort. He had ridden forth in another direction in search of me. I accepted the invitation, and quitted Afghanistan, where I had been some five minutes only, and with Mr. Vigne returned to India. The fortress is built on the declivity of a mountain, and is very spacious, forming a parallelogram, or rather a polygon, on most uneven ground, in some places reduced to a rectilinear shape, one side of it stretching along the river from north to south. The principal gate is on the north; the walls are high and strong, and surmounted with battlements, but there are no advanced works. In the interior, a third part is rendered habitable for four thousand people, and contains a bazar.
I was received by the prince’s Diwan, a Brahmin from Dehli, who came forth on an elephant, from which he dismounted when near to me and in the name of the Maha Raja proffered me a bag of rupees; in his own, a branch with honey from the wild bees. He was an old man, advanced in years, and could not stand upright without the assistance of two persons. I could not bring myself to give utterance to the usual salutation of “are you well,” it seemed so like mockery rather than any compliment. I requested permission to see the building more minutely, and the Diwan declared that he would conduct me wherever I wished to go, but as the day was much too short to admit of such a mode of observation, I begged him to resume his seat on the elephant, while I proceeded on foot.
The reservoir belonging to this fort is well worthy of remark. Its depth is from forty to fifty feet, its circumference about twenty-five feet, and the river fills it as it flows. On the side of the river, the walls are only eight feet above high water; at present they are as much as fifty-eight above the dry bed. I wished to see the largest guns of the place, as in all Mohamiiedan strong places they are of great beauty; those in position at present were of brass, cast in Lahor, and answering, as I should judge, to the French sixteen-pounders; they are without ornament, but their construction, and the carriages on which they are mounted, seem both very skilfully designed; they are kept under shelter, a necessary precaution where the heat of the sun would otherwise split the wood. I at last completed my survey of this now partly dismantled fort, and not without considerable fatigue. The day was drawing to a close, and Kashmir Singh had not yet returned, but resolving to pursue my original plan, I had declined the invitation of the Diwan to pass a day in Atok, or even to delay my journey for an hour, from the same impatience which had made me refuse the invitation of Ranjit Singh to go on as far as Peshawar.
There was a crush of men and beasts in the bazar, camels terrified, asses kicking, horses prancing, and all this in a place where the closely built stalls scarcely permitted three men to walk abreast. The first sight of the Diwan’s elephant put all the other animals to flight, and the boards on which the merchants had displayed their wares were all overset in the tumult; among them were many things which I particularly coveted, and ordered my people to buy for me. The bazar of Atok is excellently furnished with the productions of Peshawur, Kabul, and Persia, and those of India are to be had in great abundance. My Munshi, Thakir-das, a Brahmin from Dehli, found in the Diwan a countryman of the same sect as himself, and he requested my leave to eat with him. The longer I travelled in. India, the more I was conscious of the great advantage of having a high-caste Hinda in my suite. Almost every business and occupation in the service of the higher orders, being transacted by the agency of Brahmins, the stranger will succeed in whatever he wishes or requires much more readily, should the Munshi be a Brahmin, especially in all communications with other Brahmins, notwithstanding the difference of rank, than if the servant were of any other class.
I had scarcely passed the fort in my jampan, when a man rode up to tell me that Kashmir Singh was approaching, and we met near the field where the Hindus burn their dead to which I before alluded. He was a youth of fifteen or sixteen, with a very clever and animated expression; he was mounted on a white charger very richly caparisoned, and dressed in along ‘jacket’ of pink silk, with a belt, in which he carried a pair of English pistols, and a dagger; a loose robe wadded, and made also of pink silk, gave him an appearance of extreme comfort; his trousers were of blue and white, fitted tight to the leg; his shoes embroidered; his head dress was a low red turban. The complexion of this youth was olive, and the dark beard was just beginning to adorn his chin; a pink umbrella was carried over his head. “You would do well to remain here,” he said; I answered, that had I been aware of his presence in the city, I should have asked permission to come with all my people, and brought my tents. “They can be sent for; where are they?” “In Shujanpoor,” answered I, “and though grateful for the invitation to remain, I must proceed on my way. “I entreat you to stay, the Mah4 Raja has commanded me to do everything to make Atok agreeable to you, and I wish to be able to do it.” Still, I persisted. ‘“You should stay with me two days, then go to Peshawur, and make acquaintance with Avitabile Sahib; after that, the Maha Raja has written to me that you will certainly stop at Akora to visit Court Sahib, who is stationed there with the French legion, and if you do not like to go as far as Peshawur, you can travel easily to Akira and back in one day*.”
I exhausted myself in thanks but took my leave. Kashmir Singh is the only Indian I ever heard speak in short sentences, and he seems to possess more talent than it has hitherto been my good fortune to meet with.
I very soon alighted from my jampan, mounted my ghunt, and attended only by Mohan, galloped over the plain in order to reach Shujanpoor before night-fall. Unluckily, one village is here so exactly like another, that I missed my way, the six palms which distinguish Shujanpoor, being only discernible from this side when one is very near to them. The sun went down while we were crossing the plain, but I had far outridden Mohan, and not another human creature was to be seen. In the distance, some villages crowned the small eminences which rise from the level surface at intervals, and I decided on making for one of these and asking my way. While I was considering what I had best do, Mohan came up and assured me we were all right, but I felt equally sure to the contrary, we rode on a little way until the much-longed-for palms started up before our eyes. The darkness soon hid them from us, and we reached: Shujanpoor after every ray of light had disappeared. I waited three hours for Mr. Vigne before I began my supper. Just as I had commenced he came in dreadfully fatigued. He had stayed behind to sketch, and like me, had lost his way; after many attempts to set himself right, he had been obliged at last to take a guide from one of the villages, which occasioned this long delay.
The plain of Shush produces a species of the goat, which grows to a great size: they have long tails, which they carry horizontally, and no horns: they have a Roman nose, and eyes of an uncommon size: their hair is quite black. I purchased the largest male I could meet with, and amused myself, while waiting for Vigne, with watching the motions of this strange caricature of nature by torch light. An old donkey, belonging to the fakir, stood near him, but my goat over-topped him-by at least two hands, and the creature at length appeared in my sight like something mysterious. I fancied some Mephistopheles shining out of his great eyes, and turned round to my writing again, the labours of the Dauaides to me. For will it ever attain the object I desire? It is true, that is not the meanest design, which expects neither thanks nor reward, Too many, a labour of any kind is the creative and spiritual life working within them, or the light play of their fancy, assuming form and reality; to others, it is the dull heaving of the heart, in which fate has laid a painful burthen, but which still heaves on for mere existence, which is not infrequently laid down in this struggle. But after the grave and forgetfulness have long been our portion, when other people are ploughing the field under which we lie mouldering, if no remembrance of ourselves or our actions be left behind, yet will something remain of our labours, if they have been exercised on the realities of life. Such works, however unimportant, contribute to the formation of the minds which succeed their author. Under the most favourable circumstances, mine will repose in my chest, and no kindred spirit will learn a lesson from the sharp experience of these pages.
More than 2000 years ago, Alexander the Great crossed this plain with his splendid army, and will not this grand idea raise the mind and withdraw it from the every-day repetition of life’s toil? Surely it would, if any loftier thought than that of conquest had moved the heart of Alexander, if he had marched to spread benefit instead of ruining over his path. Even then it is not the will that ennobles the deed, but the accomplishment of that will; and what was the great result of Alexander’s campaign in India? The death of thousands, the misery of the inoffensive inhabitants, and in the place of tranquillity and order, the unmitigated calamities of war. To me, the idea that brave and adventurous men carried the productions of India over this plain to the west, long before Alexander lived, is far grander than all the brilliant victories of this conqueror of worlds. Their journeys bound nations together in amity, softened the rude manners of the west, and improved all things. Sad is it to think that this same plain has been for the last 800 years the territory where fanatical and furious barbarians, whose faith is a cloak for every crime, have held uncontrolled sway. But these days are now almost at an end, and we may look hopefully forward to the time when expeditions from the east to the west will finally subdue the remains of so baneful a power. To the Sikhs now stretching to the Indus, will succeed the hosts of England, who will unite this country to their enormous empire.
Sunday, December 27.-We started at eight in the morning. I was benumbed with the cold, which had kept me awake all night in an open mosque; and in spite of the fakir’s wood, I shivered in every limb. I expectéd. that he would demand some large compensation for his loss, but his pride was too great for this; I, therefore, told the people to give him five rupees, a sum which would have purchased for me either in London or Paris, a warmest and comfortable apartment.
I began by making use of my feet to bring some warmth into them; but yesterday’s journey had so fatigued me, that I soon had recourse to me ghunt, and cantered onward to Hussein Abdal, thinking the day’s march would never come ‘to an end. The road itself is altogether uninteresting, and I was obliged to stop in many places and wait for the guide, the path through the ravines being very difficult.
I had no sooner arrived at Hussein Abdal, but I set off at once to visit the ancient palace and garden built by Jehangir, which is one mile and a half from the town; it is called Wah, the Indian ery of astonishment, It was not a serai, but a regular palace, situated in the best part of the country around, and is now an extensive and imposing ruin. No doubt the great inducement to build a palace here arose from the presence of three beautiful springs, which gush out from the earth, and are encircled by slabs of stone: they spread into large sheets of water, which are full of fish of various kinds. I wandered long about these once splendid rooms, some adorned with specimens of the finest stones, others with rich carvings, but now abandoned to the most perfect solitude. The entrance is still worthy of the residence of an Emperor. At the bottom of the garden stands a little building, the use of which I could not understand; having a beautiful spring issuing from within, and flowing all round it. It is the most richly ornamented part of the grounds, but I looked in vain for some way to enter, and as usually happens, my imagination became vivid in proportion as it remained unsatisfied, I peered into the bushes which surrounded it, and even climbed to the height above, to look for the entrance, but neither door nor window, nor any aperture whatever was visible; and with curiosity ungratified, I was forced to retrace my steps. On my return, I was overjoyed to hear that the long-looked-for stock of provisions from Ludhianahadarrived: they had been sent round by Lahore, Jammu, Kashmir, and Mazafferabad. It was with no little pleasure that I received a supply of wine and brandy, after twelve days’ deprivation, replaced my wretched tea and sugar with something far better, and chapatis with a biscuit. Instead of the tallow candles of Kashmir, always covered with black grease, I welcomed some wax lights; even the preserved soups and meats had come safe to hand, allowing us a brief respite from the eternal mutton and fowl to which we were latterly restricted.
Near Hussein Abdal stands the ruined Serai of Akbar, in one end of which a Sikh Guru has established himself. Hussein Abdal owes its name to the grave of a Pir or devotee, who lived in the eminence where the place now stands, and his tomb is still to be seen. This Pir was called Shekh Hussein Abdal; Abda/ means fanatic, and is applied toa particular tribe among the Afghans. This individual is a very celebrated person at Kandahar, where he was known as Baba Wali. He chose the place of his abode because a spring comes forth from its summit, and was the resort of pious pilgrims of many creeds. After his death, a fakir took up his place, as is usual, in the case of all the Mohammedan saints. Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, coming one day to the hill as a pilgrim, much heated and tired, requested some water of the fakir. The unbeliever’s demand was refused; and Nanak, laying his hand on the rock whence the spring issued, it ceased to flow, and on the very spot was a bas-relief of that hand in stone, which as soon as the Sikhs became lords of the country, was taken away from the mountain, and placed in the building erected in the middle of the Serai, and there raised as an object of veneration opposite the entrance. The Guru sings some passages out of the Granth, or holy volume of the Sikhs, every morning before it.
A tomb, now almost destroyed, stands near this Serai, overshadowed by two large cypresses which, as is frequently the case in Mohammedan countries, grow in a place quite surrounded with massive stone walls. Every account agrees that this is the last resting-place of the well-known Nar Jeh4n, the wife of Jehangir. The frame-work of the door retains some vestiges of former grandeur: it is of black marble, as was the door itself, which has been carried off.
Monday, December 28.-The nights were now extremely cold; the water froze in the bottles, and the ground was covered every morning With hard frost. At noon, however, we had our Indian sun. I had appointed the morning for my visit to the Sikh Guru, at which ceremony the whole: population of Hussein Abdal was present. When I came to the marble steps leading to his Durbar, which was held before the celebrated stone, and saw him there seated on carpets, I took off my shoes, a courtesy which gained for me the loud praises of all present. The Guru received me with every mark of dignity, and accepted q present, which was certainly well bestowed, if only for the sight of the stone, on which the above-named marvel still remains imprinted.
The great imperial route formerly leading from Hindusthan to Kabul passes from Hussein Abdal to Lahore, and Serais were built along with it at intervals of every six kos from each other. There were three between the former town and Rawalpindi, but I purposed making the journey in two days, and started at once therefore from the Guru’s Durbar. Near the first Serai is a small eminence, which has the advantage of a paved road, not remarkable in any way; indeed, why it is there at all is the only singularity, as there are many places where it would be far more useful than here. Perhaps it is owing to its being the only rocky hill between Atok and Lahor, that the honour of a paved road has been given to it; at all events, it is called Mulgala, and an inscription, not very intelligible, ascribes it to Akbar. Just previous to this, I saw a stone bridge in ruins, which is evidence of the changeableness of the soil in the Panjab. This bridge spans a rivulet, and is constructed against a hill from sixty to eighty feet high, the formation of which must have originated from the water beneath it. There is another bridge very close to this, which is also nearly destroyed; the traveller is now left to find his way through the ravines and the stream, as he best can. My camels, however, had not learned the secret, consequently, their burdens were all cast on the ground. Janikasang, where we halted, is a wretched place, nine kos from Hussein Abdal.
Tuesday, December 29.-The way continued through the plain, where there is very little cultivation, though the soil seems excellent, and must be of a most extraordinary depth, of which I could judge from several parts where it has been torn up by occasional wild torrents. The absence of cultivation is attributable perhaps to the very superiority of the soil; for in this part of Asia, where rain so seldom falls, agriculture depends almost exclusively on irrigation. The country is intersected throughout by numerous streams, which flow from the high mountains, and are so deeply embedded in the earth, that the water cannot be conducted along the plain; hence the country is in many parts a wilderness, producing nothing except stunted acacias and the Ziziphus. When the rainy season sets in, the numerous deep ravines must put a stop to all travelling. There is no bridge near at hand, and the water in many places stands sometimes from twenty to thirty feet deep, there is, therefore, no remedy that I know of but patiently to await a change of weather. The ravines being formed by the streams, many of them are well supplied with water in the very driest season.
Just before Rawalpindi, there is a river called Sawan, the Swan of the maps, whence a small plain extends to the town ‘itself. By this river I found the Thanadar, with the Stirnt, (Persian,) or Mithdi, (Hindusthani,) the present of welcome, consisting of twenty-one pots of sweetmeats, each enough for one man to carry, a basket of eggs, one of the fowls, two sheep, and a bag of rupees.
I went to look about me in the adjacent parts, and then to my tent, which was pitched by the only well in the town, and about a musket shot from the nearest houses. Rawalpindi is called a fort, but it has not even a wall of defence. The place is very populous, and has a large bazar. Not far from my tent stood a little building, the environs of which were ornamented with a few acacias, the only trees near. On one of these I observed a bird, which was quite new to me, sitting quietly; and sending for the huntsman, Jonki, I desired him to shoot it; but the natives would not permit it, because the house was the residence of the Guri. On hearing this, I ordered the people to get ready instantly to depart, not because, as I told them, my servants were not permitted to shoot, but because they had entered into a dispute with religious personages. As soon as these last heard my reasons, they came out in a body, and begged me to remain where I was, and shoot whatever I liked. I did remain, therefore, but prohibited the shooting.
The same evening I received a letter from General Ventura, and two baskets filled with choice European dainties, attention not to be forgotten. They were escorted by a Jemidar, who was directed to follow me. I had also to thank the General for some English powder, which he sent me by a Sowér, and for which I had written to him from Baramulla. The man had travelled on a dromedary ninety-six kos from Lahore in three days.
Wednesday, December 30.-It often happens that recent occurrences, however unimportant in themselves, will elucidate questions long put aside from history as something inexplicable. This has more particularly happened in modern days, and perhaps the most striking proof has been afforded by the discovery of the famed Damietta stone, which solved the long-existing enigma of hieroglyphics. Something similar may be found in the journeys of Europeans to the part of Asia where I now am, which have cleared up much difficulty concerning Alexander’s Indian expedition, and thrown a broad light on many shadowy paths of history.
It happened one day that an Englishman being in the bazar at Delhi, received in change some of the copper coin called pais, a circumstance only singular in this, that however small the purchase may be, a native always makes the bargain for these lords of India, and is usually paid in larger amounts. It was still more curious, that the Englishman took notice of these small coins, thinking there was something uncommon in their appearance; and I mention the circumstance without any idea of covertly reproving the indolence usually seen in India. Every new comer gazes with more or less curiosity, but always with curiosity, on objects which have all the charm of novelty to him; but this, at last, wears out, and generally long before the presidency of Bengal is quitted for the upper provinces. I can vouch for the truth of this sensation. Many things on which years ago I should have made an infinity of inquiries, have ceased to awaken the least interest in my mind, and if I, as a traveller, feel thus in matters of immediate inquiry, how much more those whose pursuit is the pleasure to be attained by their large income, or the readiest means of acquiring one. The little copper coins I have alluded to differed from those of India: instead of some legend, as on the Mohammedan; some idol, as on the Hind coins, they more resembled the money of the West, bearing a bust, a whole figure, and sometimes an inscription engraved round them. A superficial examination pointed them out as Greek coins, or as exact imitations; and a more rigid scrutiny proved them to be either Bactrian or something nearly related to that country. The discovery was no sooner made known than many Englishmen in Upper India hastened to collect as many of the coins as possible, and an immense number were brought in, and at the same time others of silver and gold: the fact was simply this; the workers in those metals had been hitherto in the habit of melting them down, they now kept them to sell to the English. In a short time these ancient coins were all classified, and divided into the ancient Hindu, or Buddhist; the Bactrian, which have been most valuable in illustrating the history of Central Asia; and the Indo-Scythian, which are as precious as the rarest documents. The last two might be subdivided into dynasties, showing that Alexander’s generals, who shared among them the mighty empire he had conquered, had retained possession of the country of the Indus much longer than history supposes, nay, that it is very possible that some of the dynasties survived to the appearance of the victorious Mohammedans. The last division, forming the transition from the Bactrian to the Hindu, is by far the most. remarkable. Like the coins of the West, which during the sway of the Christian Emperors of Constantinople, departed from the noble Greek form to assume the likeness of 80 many tasteless caricatures; so these degenerate still more, and the beautiful proportions of the original coin are lost in an unconnected jumble of points and lines. In the same way, we find, first the Greek Basileos, then the same with Sanscrit letters, then Basileos Raja, then the last only, until, finally, both name and title disappear. This part of India, before the invasion of the Mohammedans, like Italy in the middle ages, had survived all the beauty of the arts.
The strip of country in which the gold and silver coins of Bactria are found is not extensive. It runs down from the bank of the Sawan at Rawalpindi as far as the Indus, and from the description, as given by the ancient Greek writers, I conclude that Rawalpindi may be built on, or near, the site of Taxila. The coins which form the link between the Bactrian and Hindu are found there, and in greater numbers still at Kanoj on the Ganges; the copper money is found from Delhi to Agra. I postpone the inquiry whether there was an IndoBactrian kingdom existing in the Panj4b and in a part of Northern India, or whether the coins discovered there were brought by the conquerors, and exchanged for gold and precious stones. I purchased a great many of the Bactrian coins while in Rawalpindi, which is called Sitaram Pais, from Sita and Rama, the first being the name of a goddess, the second that of her celestial lover.
The well-known truth that no place is more unpleasant to a European traveller than one of importance, was quite substantiated here. The bearers refused to go any further; those who carried the jampan left me, the camel drivers demanded their Raza, discharge, and I was all impatience to getaway. I sent therefore for the Thanadar to provide me with the means of proceeding on my journey, even should he have recourse to compulsory measures, menacing him with the anger of Ranjit Singh, if I found myself necessitated to pass another night in Rawalpindi. Happily, Ranjit has given European travellers prodigious power over his functionaries, from the governor of a province down to the village justice. Every man of them was obliged to send in a certificate of my satisfaction to the Maha Raja, and for this, if necessary, they would have given large presents. The consequence was visible in my preparations being completed to-day at 12 o'clock. I was in too great haste to wait for the whole party, and therefore left the Munshi behind to look after the baggage, while I myself journeyed on as far as a ruinous Serai, seven kos distant from Rawalpindi, where I halted to give the bearers time to join me before night. A good many travellers were already assembled there. Nothing is left of ancient splendour in this serai, except some portions of the outer walls; but in earlier times there were here, as in most other serais, shaded walks in which persons of the lower ranks found shelter, but the smallest of them, which still afforded some trifling protection against the cold, were all occupied. Although there was room enough to spread my tent in the inner court, the wind whistled round it in every direction, and the walls afforded no defence against the weather: the filthiness of the court-yard was disgusting. I, therefore, preferred occupying my small tent, which made its appearance towards evening, and pitched it before the entrance to the building, where it was screened from the strong north-west wind; while my servants all lodged near me, in the only unoccupied apartment.
The view from this point was very delightful. Before it lay a large Mohammedan mausoleum, surmounted by a lofty cupola, and surrounded on every side by a multitude of other tombs. The square in which they were erected contained also a mosque and an asylum for pilgrims, The large building was already falling to decay; the cupola admitted the light of heaven through many a rent, and the whole structure had a threatening aspect. Surrounded by rocks of remarkable form, some towering one above the other, some standing out singly and dark from the horizon, this funeral monument is the highest point in the vicinity. In the far distance,’ and over the lofty mountains, above all these objects, rose the snow-capped chain of which the PirPanjal is the monarch. The rocks are of sandstone; the direction N.W. and S.E., the strata vertical.
From this elevation, there is but one solitary mountain discernible in the south-west, the plain of the Panjab seeming to extend uninterruptedly in that direction. This appearance, however, is deceptive, for on & nearer examination the surface is found deeply intersected with ravines and water-courses. Before dinner, Vigne and J wandered about the neighbourhood, and soon came to a large tank, around which were some fragments of rock. Here we did our best to furnish ourselves with an extra dish, in the shape of some wild fowl, which were swimming about the water very temptingly. But we were unsuccessful, and on our return, I footing the Munshi had arrived, with information that my baggage had left Rawalpindi on the backs of coolies, in default of proper carriage; that he had seen the large tent poles, usually carried by four men, lying down on the road, and half a dozen other packages belonging to me also strewed about, the bearers having, of course, run away. I immediately dispatched people for the packages, but the tent poles were too far off and much too heavy for the men to fetch them this day; the bearers of the Panjab, like their fellows in Kashmir, being immoveable at any price after nightfall. The Shah had arrived also, and pitched his tent near mine.
As the sun went down, I saw symptoms in the sky which made me anticipate rain, although I hoped that it might prove only a passing shower. As a precautionary measure, however, I had those things most likely to be injured by wet, brought within the small tent where I was lodged. In the evening I visited the Shah, and seeing that his tent was pitched in a piece of low ground, I warned him of the likelihood of rain; but he did not think there would be much, and so left the tent where it was.
Thursday, December 31.-I had erred in my reckoning as to the time when I made sure of reaching Lahore. A violent sirocco came on last night, accompanied by storms of rain; the wind shifted, and my tent now suffered the fiercest attacks of the tempest. I heard the rain pouring down during the night, and when I left my bed after lying awake for hours, everything in my tent was swimming. My clothes were all saturated with water, and my only comfort in putting them on, in this state, arose from the feeling that it was only an anticipation of what they must be very shortly, at all events. I looked out upon a deluge. The whole country had become one interminable swamp, and the things which had been let outside the tent were scarcely distinguishable. A fire to make our breakfast seemed quite out of the question, and some change of situation absolutely requisite; but where were we to find a better? The ruinous old Serai was filled with a motley assemblage of travellers; and though in my capacity of White Lord, I might have turned them all out of their quarters, without the smallest apprehension that they, though many hundreds in number, would think of disputing my right to rob them of their shelter, backed as I should have been by the Munshi and Khan Singh’s authority, humanity prevailed with me, to waive any such method of bettering my own situation. Whereupon I sallied forth to look about me, and about a quarter of a mile in the direction of the cemetery, I found out a place where we could remain for a day defended from the weather, the ruins being surrounded by walls, and having several small vaulted niches, which are still in tolerable repair, the destructive fury of the Sikhs having exhausted itself on the larger tombs and the mosque. Into these niches, therefore, I had all my goods conveyed, and selected a corner cell for myself, very like a dungeon of the age of chivalry, without any window. The entrance was narrow, dark, and very hard to find. There I established myself for the day with my carpet, kanat, and a few immediate necessaries; it was so dark that candles were indispensable, but my greatest discomfort arose from the loss of an entire day, or perhaps many days while this rain lasted. In truth, I could not make sure that I might not be detained in this part of India so long as even to miss the steamer which left Bombay for Egypt, and in this case, it was a question not only of days but of months. So little had I thought of these rains, that I had announced to General Ventura my intention of being in Wazirabad on the 4th of January; an additional proof, if any were needed, of the extreme folly of laying down any definite plan for the future, particularly in a country like this, where a man travelling alone on horseback may get on well enough, but when obliged to have a number of people with him, he is dependent on a thousand contingencies.
After making my own arrangements, I sallied out again to look after my companions in misfortune. I found Vigne in bed, with water all about him, and rain pouring in on all sides. I could not help laughing at his philosophy, and with some trouble persuaded him to get up and share my strange lodging. As for the poor Shah, he was sitting amidst his twenty-five attendants, drenched through; he had lost all his energies, and declined even the trouble of moving when I invited him to share my dry prison-house.
And thus passed the last day of a year which I had purposed to spend on the broad sea. On looking back, I confess that more extraordinary to me than even the wondrous scenes of nature, was the great diversity existing in manners and habits among the various people with whom my travels had brought. me acquainted. The last day of the year 1834, I passed on my voyage from Manilla to Canton, upon the stormy waters of the Yellow Sea; and during the succeeding twelve months, how much had I been allowed to see! China and India; the most extensive empires in Asia, the most beautiful by nature, offering new shreds of evidence of the majesty of creation, and of the high refinement of an ancient civilization. From China in the East, where the vast ocean is the only boundary of this mighty continent, to China in the West, or Tibet, I travelled in a very wide and devious course. I had visited the flourishing settlement of Singapore; the Muluccds now declining; the rich island of Penang; Madras, the theatre of many a European contest; Calcutta, the famous city of palaces; the ancient Brahminical retreat. of Benares; Allahabad, Oude, Agra, Gwalior, and Delhi, still magnificent in its fallen greatness; the Himalaya, those giants of our earth; the beautiful but melancholy valley, not impossibly the cradle of the human race; finally, I had had a glimpse of Tibet, finishing with a toilsome journey to the ancient Taxila and the modern Atok. The whole year was fraught with events well-deserving my remembrance; and though I had at times experienced a deep sense of loneliness, I had many days to dream of, full of peace, tranquillity, and friendly intercourse; my strength of mind and of the body were unimpaired; yet fatigue and occupation generally silenced every half-suppressed wish for more comforts than I could procure.
And thus, also, ended my fortieth year, without a wish to live over again one of its days, or even hours; that year which, beginning with a storm, and ending in a tomb, presented a true image of our life on earth.
Friday, 1st January, 1836.-Floods of rain ushered in the first day of the New Year. I was left alone to welcome it; Vigne had gone early to bed, overcome with fatigue. Some future traveller will perhaps habit this same little nook, and should curiosity lead him to creep about it, he will wonder whether he has got into the den of a hyena or g wolf, or if serpents ever made it their abode. But when his researches pave led him from the narrow entrance to the dark round tower, and the light of his torch discovers to him the murky walls, and his own laboured preaching tells him of the heavy damp air within, he may with difficulty comprehend how it was possible for a European travelling with a large suite of natives, ever to dream of remaining in such a place for two whole days. The unfortunate conjuncture of circumstances, which brought my tent poles into the power of bearers who were pressed into my service without wages, contrary to my express orders; the folly of leaving them without any one to look after them, solves the riddle but too plainly of their flight and throwing down their burden at four miles distance.