Page images
PDF
EPUB

now in a good deal of disorder by having sick servants; but I think, I am in no present danger of death; and when it does come, I hope I shall bear it patiently, though I own I am not arrived at so much philosophy as not to think torturing pain an evil; that is the only thing that I now dread, for death is unavoidable! and I cannot find that anybody has yet demonstrated whether it is a good thing, or a bad one. Pray do not think me wicked in saying this; and if you talk to Mr. Pope of me, endeavour to keep him my friend, for I do firmly believe in the immortality of the soul, as much as he does, though I am not learned enough to have found out what it is; but as I am sure there must be some Great Power that formed this world, that Power will distinguish with rewards and punishments, otherwise the wicked would be happier than the good, the first of which generally gratify all their passions, and those that are most worthy are generally ill-treated, and most unhappy.'-vol. ii. pp. 265–267.

The following is very comical:

: I find you are as ignorant what the soul is as I am. But though none of my philosophers demonstrate plainly that, I do think, there must be rewards and punishments after this life; and I have read lately some of my dear friends the philosophers, that there was an opinion, that the soul never died : that it went into some other man or beast. And that seems, in my way of thinking, to be on the side of the argument for the immortality of the soul; and though the philosophers prove nothing to my understanding certain, yet I have a great mind to believe, that kings and first ministers' souls, when they die, go into chimney-sweepers. And their punishment is, that they remember they were great monarchs, were complimented by the parliament upon their great abilities, and thanked for the great honor they did nations in accepting of the crown, at the same time that they endeavored to starve them, and were not capable of doing them the least service, though they gave him all the money in the nation. This, I think, would be some punishment, though not so much as they deserve, supposing the great persons they had been, and the condition they were reduced to. What gave me this thought of a chimney-sweeper was an accident. My servants, that are very careful of me, were fearful that, having a fire night and day four months together in my chamber, thought I might be frightened, when I could not rise out of my bed, if the chimney was on fire, and persuaded me to have it swept, which I consented to; and one of the chimney-sweepers was a little boy, a most miserable creature, without shoes, stockings, breeches, or shirt

. When it was over, I sent a servant of mine to Windsor with him, to equip this poor creature with what he wanted, which cost very little, not being so well dressed as the last Priry Seal. And as I could not be sure the souls of these chimney-sweepers bad come from great men, I could not repent of their being so much overpaid, as they were.'- vol. ii. pp. 270-272.

The motive of the Duchess's significant allusions to Mr. Pope appears to be a desire, on her part, to conciliate the poet, who had, in his character of Atossa, promised to confer on her a sort of immortality which she did not covet. But though she worked hard to influence Pope to sink the portrait which, with such malignant fidelity, he had prepared of the Duchess, she was unsuccessful, and she lives to this day in the unfading lineaments in which wit and fancy have painted her.

The third volume, containing the papers of the senior Earl of Marchmont, afford but little that is calculated to interest the general reader. From a portion of the correspondence, however, we gain an insight into much of the secret machinery by which the Union with Scotland was effected. We are justified, from what we read here, in suspecting that the jealousy and discontent excited in Scotland against England, which raged in such excess during the reign of William, were the result of a deep laid scheme, concocted by English statesmen and Scotch peers, to extinguish the national independence of the former kingdom. With reference to this point we quote the following brief letter, and its accompanying note. Patrick, Earl of Marchmont, to the Earl of Tullibardin,

Edinburgh, Jan. 9th, 1698. • I remember in my letter to the King of the 230 December, I said, I never wished more to be near his Majesty than now. I wish your Lordship to explain this. The cause of the expression was, that I perceived such a ferment in the minds of many, occasioned by the motions of the English* in crossing the projects of trade of this nation; there seems to be such an humour of resentment, as, 1 protest, may make one fear dangerous conseqnences.'--vol. iii. pp. 148.

Though we do not find many of the letters in this volume worthy of being transcribed, as affording matter of an attractive nature, yet to the historian they will furnish some most important explanations and details, which will enable him to establish the truth respecting various questions, more completely than he has yet

had the opportunity of doing. We should like to see more of this

6

* The English East India and African Companies had put a stop to the subscriptions, which the Scottish African and West India Company was obtaining in England. This is the first trace in these papers of that ferment, which produced important and very unfortunate national effects, and a resentment in Scotland against England, of which King William's and Queen Anne's reigns afforded multiplied proofs. It is extremely probable, however, that as the union with Ireland was the fruit of a rebelJion in that kingdom, so would not the union between England and Scotland have been effected, but for the exasperation against England grafted on Jacobitism, which grew amongst the Scots to such extent and height, that their leading men saw, that nothing but such an incorporation of the two nations could save the island from a fearful convulsion, of which the effects at home and abroad would have been incalculable. But this matter had its beginning in 1695, when the English Lords and Commons addressed a complaint to King William respecting a Scots Act of Parliament for creating a Company to trade to Africa and the East Indies with privileges, which, it was apprehended, must ruin the English East India trade. This act was disowned by King William. The Scots Company, though designated as · African,' did nothing to justify that name, but made arrangements with much secrecy to settle a colony at Darien on the Spanish Main.

Marchmont collection given to the public, provided that a better principle of selection than is to be found in the present work, shall govern the future editor.

Art. VII.-A Narrative of a Visit to the Court of Sinde ; a Sketch of

the History of Cutch, &c. By James Burnes, Surgeon to the Residency at Bhooj. vol. 8vo. Bombay; printed, by permission of Government, for the perusal of the Author's Friends. Summachar

Press, 1829. Edinburgh: re-printed by John Stark, 1831. The author of this volume, Mr. Burnes, was employed in the year, 1827, 1828, as surgeon to the British Residency at Bhooj, the capital of the province of Cutch, in India. Intimately connected with the British government in the East, Cutch is separated from the more northern province of Sinde only by a river. But the insignificance of the boundary by no means represents the difference in the political relation of the two provinces, and Sinde has always manifested a dislike of British interference. It has indeed been almost a sealed country against British intrusion; and were it not for the accident which brought Mr. Burnes to its capital, we should in all probability, for a long time to come, remain in utter ignorance of the many curious particulars concerning its people and government, which are afforded to us in this ably-written and interesting work.

So long and so uniformly had the ameers, or chieftains of Sinde, manifested an aversion to British connection, that when a message was brought to the Residency at Bhooj requesting the medical attendance of Mr. Burnes, on Meer Mourad Ali, one of the chieftains at Hyderabad, the servants of the company received the communication with the greatest doubt, suspecting that some hostile object was concealed by this device. Mr. Burnes, however, merged all considerations of a personal nature in his curiosity to visit Sinde, and in a few days after the invitation, was actually on his way to Hyderabad. The negociation with him had been conducted at Bhooj, by means of the agent of Sinde, who resided in that city, and who accompanied the surgeon on his excursion. Having crossed the boundary river, Mr. B. disembarked with his suite at Kotree, the landing place in Sinde. It is situated a little higher up than lat. 23.5.0 N., and in long. E. from Greenwich 69o. From this point Mr. Burnes had to proceed due northward to Hyderabad. The country he describes as nearly a perfect desert. In this part of the province and all along the delta of the farfamed Indus, the mouths of which open into the sea on the southwestern coast, are reared the most celebrated camels of Asia. They are the only means of conveyance known to the inhabitants, and they derive their singular powers of endurance from their being brought up on a very scanty supply of fresh water, owing to the

nature of the country. The inhabitants live in low huts built of clay and covered with thatch, and they seem to exist in a state of the most wretched dependence on the owner of the village. At Ruree, a town on his road, Mr. Burnes was met by some Khans, who had been despatched by the ameers for the purpose of conducting him to the capital. He says

• They received me with great courtesy, each embracing me in a ceremonious manner, and after a profusion of civilities on their part, entered into a long complimentary message from the ameers, who, ihey assured me, were highly gratified by my visit. They brought orders from Hyderabad that neither I nor my retinue should be perunitted to pay for any supplies on the route; and although I was of course unwilling to accept, and remonstrated strongly against, such an expensive mark of kindness io above a hundred persons, I was forced to comply, in order to avoid giving offence. Fifty camels were in attendance, by command of the ameers, who had given positive directions that none of my followers should be allowed to walk. The Khans even considered seriously how my palanquin bearers could be mounted ; and although this was impracticable, I was obliged to consent that the sipahis of the guard, and all others, should proceed on camels. The supplies were of an expensive description; nothing, in fact, seemed to be spared that could add to my comfort, or that of my attendants; and sugar, sweetmeats, and opium, were daily issued in great profusion.'--p.37.

As the cavalcade approached Hyderabad, it was met by fresh deputations, each composed of officers still higher in rank than the last,-these demonstrations being all meant as compliments to the stranger on whose scientific skill the hopes of a considerable community now depended. After a fatiguing journey, the calamities of which were aggravated by the heat of the day, Mr. Burnes arrived at Hyderabad, at the outskirts of which he was met by a concourse of not less than twelve thousand persons. From their importunate curiosity he was at length compelled to escape by betaking himself to his covered palanquin, under the protection of which he was enabled to reach the residence of the ameers in safety. The sequel we must give in the author's own language.

• After passing through some narrow streets, which were inhabited only by the iminediate retainers of the court, I found myself, unexpectedly, among a crowd of well-dressed Sindians, in a large open area, the walls of which, on either side, were fancifully decorated with paintings, and the ground covered with variegated carpets. At one end appeared three large arched doors with curtains of green baize, towards one of which I was led by the vizier and another officer; and before I could collect myself from the suddenness of the transition, my boots were taken off, and I stood in the presence

of the ameers. • The coup d'ail was splendid. I had an opportunity of seeing the whole reigning family at a glance, and I have certainly never witnessed any spectacle which was more gratifying, or approached nearer to the fancies we indulge in childhood, of eastern grandeur. The group formed a

semicircle of elegantly attired figures, at the end of a lofty hall spread with Persian carpeting. In the centre were seated the two principal ameers on their musnud, a slightly elevated cushion of French white satin, beautifully worked with flowers of silk and gold, the corners of which were secured by four massive and highly-chased golden ornaments, resembling pine-apples, and, together with a large velvet pillow behind, covered with rich embroidery, presenting a very grand appearance. On each side, their Highnesses were supported by the members of their family, consisting of their nephews, Meer Sobdar and Mahommed, and the sons of Mourad Ali, Meers Noor Mahommed, and Nusseer Khan. Farther off sat their more distant relations, among whom were Meer Mahmood, their uncle, and his sons, Ahmed Khan, and Juhan Khan. Behind stood a crowd of well-dressed attendants, sword and sbield bearers to the different princes.

• To an European, and one accustomed to form his notions of native ceremony by a much humbler standard, it was particularly gratifying to observe the taste displayed in dress, and the attention to cleanliness, in the scene before me. There was no gaudy show of tinsel or scarlet; none of that mixture of gorgeousness and dirt to be seen at the courts of most Hindoo princes, but, on the contrary, a degree of simple and becoming ele. gance, far surpassing any thing of the kind it had ever been my fortune to behold. The ameers and their attendants were habited nearly alike, in angricas or tunics of fine white muslin, neatly prepared and plaited so as to resemble dimity, with cummerbunds or sashes of silk and gold, wide Turkish trowsers of silk, tied at the ankle, chiefly dark blue, and the Sindian caps I have already described, made of gold brocade, or embroidered velvet. A pair of cashmere shawls of great beauty, generally white, thrown negligently over the arm, and a Persian dagger at the girdle, richiy ornamented with diamonds, or precious stones, completed the dress and decoration of each of the princes.

· Viewing the family generally, I could not but admire their manners and deportment, and acknowledge that, in appearance at least, they seemed worthy of the elevation they had gained. The younger princes, indeed, had an air of dignity and good breeding seldom to be met with, either in the European or native character. The principal ameers were the least respectable of the party in point of looks; probably from having had less alvantages, and more exposure to hardships in early life. They are in reality older, but did not appear above the age of fifty, from the very careful manner in which their beards and hair are stained. With one exception, there is little family likeness between them and the younger chiefs, who have inherited from their mothers fair complexions, jet black hair, with long eyelashes and eyebrows. Meer Nusseer Khan struck me at once as a particularly handsome man.

• The general style of the Sinde court could not fail to excite my admiration, as much as the appearance of the ameers. All the officers in attendance, judging from their dress and manners, seemed to be of superior rank. There was no crowding for places; the rabble had been shut entirely out of doors; and there was a degree of stillness and solemnity throughout the whole, and an order and decorum in the demeanour of each individual, which, together with the brilliant display I have mentioned, impressed me with a feeling of awe and respect, I could not have anticipated. It is scarcely necessary, after what I have described, to say that

« PreviousContinue »