Edward Frederick Leveson-Gower.

Bygone years; online

. (page 12 of 21)
Online LibraryEdward Frederick Leveson-GowerBygone years; → online text (page 12 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


him to be beheaded without trial ; but as there

1 He afterwards showed his wisdom by energetically assisting us
during the Mutiny.
» I.e. 1845.
* I,e. to be burnt with their husband's corpse on the funeral pyre



1850-51] A REVOLUTION IN NEPAUL 177

was no proof of his guilt, and as she was acting
without the concurrence of her husband, no one
would carry out her sentence. The Rajah in the
meanwhile, distressed at these scenes, which made
him think he was living in Lahore, where a man
was no sooner Minister than he was murdered,
rode to the British Residency.

The Resident was in bed, and refused to leave
it. The " Moonshee," the learned man who acted
as interpreter, begged off too, suggesting that his
pony would take some time to saddle, but promising
that if the Rajah would go back to his Capital,
he would join him the first thing next morning.
The Rajah reluctantly assented, and on his return
to Khatmandu found the gutters streaming with
blood, which so horrified him that he rode off
to the frontier. It seems that in his absence the
Ranee had called together an assembly of the
great men. They were no sooner collected than
some troops surrounded the house they had
met in and massacred the chief part of them.
Jung Bahadur was not present, but two of
his brothers were, and by their exertions were
able to save some of the intended victims. It is
insinuated that the massacre was by the Ranee's
order, though Jung is much suspected to have
had a hand in it, as all his friends and partisans
escaped.

He was then a General, commanding a regiment,
and was much beloved for his bravery. He was
the best shot and elephant-rider in Nepaul, and
once jumped from a verandah down upon a mad
elephant who was doing great injury in the town,

12



178 INDIA

and completely mastered him. After the massacre
the Ranee appointed him Prime Minister. The
present Rajah, who was the heir-apparent, was not
her son, and she begged Jung to make away with
him, in order to set one of her own sons on the
throne. But Jung, who had been brought up with
and was much attached to the heir-apparent, on
the contrary proclaimed him Rajah, banished the
Ranee, and ordered twelve of her intimate friends
to be shot. On his refusal to comply with her
request she had tried to deprive him of his power,
but he was beforehand with her, and got the army
to side with him. I believe she is living at Benares,
and that her husband remains as a private individual
in Khatmandu. Ever since Jung's power has been
undisputed ; he has a good many brothers, all active
young fellows, who fill the most important posts.

He had on his return home from England a
triumphal entry. The Rajah, as well as his father,
the ex- Raj ah, came out some miles to meet him,
and were treated by him most cavalierly. His first
measure was to command that no one should take
off his shoes on entering the Durbar, a foolish
change, for it shocked the natives and produced no
good. They hold to nothing as much as etiquette,
of which there are more rules than at the Court of
Louis XIV. He then tried to persuade his wives
to wear the fashionable dresses he had brought
with him from Europe. This they positively re-
fused to do. He forbade the Colonels to sit at the
first review, and ordered them to keep with their
regiments. In short his conduct was anything but
conciliatory.



1850-51] JUNG BAHADUR'S CAREER 179

He soon became aware that his position was
insecure ; and, indeed, there was danger brew-
ing. A few days later his eldest brother, Bum
Bahadur, who had filled his place during his
absence, revealed to him a conspiracy which he
had joined with the intention of betraying it. The
chief conspirators were a brother of the Rajah,
another of Jung's own brothers, the one who was
so friendly at the Durbar, and an intriguing cousin.
Jung, immediately collecting a few troops, rode to
the different houses of the conspirators in the middle
of the night and arrested them. They had decided
to assassinate him, but he, as a tribute to his late
visit to civilisation, refused to put them to death,
or even to put their eyes out. They have since
remained his prisoners. He applied to Lord
Dalhousie, asking him to take charge of them, but
this request was refused. Mr. Erskine, delighted
at this interruption to the monotony of his exist-
ence, was much consulted, and gave Jung his moral
support, but thought him a fool for his leniency.
Jung likewise discovered that an elderly man who
accompanied him to England had written thence
accounts prejudicial to his character, saying that
he had lost caste in every possible way. The tell-
tale was severely punished : an offensive liquor was
poured down his throat in the presence of the
whole army, a pollution that no money nor penance
can wash out. Jung became confirmed in his
power, projected various reforms, ordered machinery
to be sent out from England, and has had plans
made to construct a road into Hindustan. His
life ought to be written.



i8o INDIA

Later the same day we met Colonel Kavanagh
and Laurence Oliphant,^ the son of the Chief Justice
in Ceylon. They had been delighted with their
journey and their sport. The wild elephant hunt
must have been very exciting. He is pursued
by men on tame elephants, who catch him by
throwing ropes over him and fastening him to
the tame ones, thus bringing him to a standstill.
It must be a curious sight, but I do not think
I should have liked to ride like Oliphant, on the
bare back of an elephant in full chase through the
forest. He was obliged occasionally to let himself
down either on the side of or behind the elephant
to avoid branches, or when the wild elephant
charged.

^ We found Laurence Oliphant an agreeable companion, and I struck
up a friendship with him which lasted during his life. He moved
about so much that we only occasionally met, but whenever we did
our relations were most cordial. It is difficult within the limits of a
note to give a sufficient account of such an interesting character. He
was very well known ; still, people might like to be told my
impressions about him. His chief object in life was to do good, for
which he was prepared to make any sacrifice. His energy and pluck
were marvellous ; to these qualities he added great simplicity, and
was perfectly unmoved by the adulation of society. His gentle
manners were in marked contrast to the rough work he often went
through. He was not highly educated. During our Indian journey
he asked me to lend him a book. Finding to my great surprise
that he had never read a word of Shakespeare, I lent him my
copy, and it was pleasant to see how thoroughly he enjoyed it.
But he was naturally very clever. He wrote well ; his accounts of
his travels and his satirical novels were excellent. Unfortunately
he had not a well-balanced mind. I sometimes think that this
was owing to the attack made on him| when he was with Lord
Elgin in Japan, on which occasion he was badly wounded in the
head. But whatever may be the cause, his good judgment failed him ;
he became a mystic and put forward very wild religious views. At
last he placed himself under the complete control of an American
religious impostor, who robbed him of his money and wrecked his
life and that of his charming wife.



1850-51] BENARES 181

The road was crowded with Jung's followers,
and being extremely rocky it was rather a difficult
job to get along. We hurried on at a most un-
necessary pace, pushing aside all the people and
upsetting some. The doctor, who led the way,
so alarmed one of the bearers of a palkee that,
to avoid him, he fell with the palkee into the river,
and so gave a ducking to an old lady who was
inside it. She was the duenna of Jung's new
bride, a little girl of eleven, the daughter of the
Rajah of Coorg. The old lady was seen after-
wards drying herself on the bank and scolding
vociferously.

At Ghazipur we saw a large stud of horses,
of Arab, New South Wales, English and Indian
breeds. This is one of the several studs in
the neighbourhood belonging to the Company,
and supplying the whole of their Bengal Army.
The Inspector told us he had inspected 9,000
horses in the district during the previous month.

We reached Benares on February loth. We
had travelled over vast plains, all under cultiva-
tion, with rich crops of wheat, " dol," with a bright
yellow flower, and with the white poppy, whence
opium is made. Large, isolated trees and beautiful
groves abound. Mango-trees line the roads, the
young ones being protected from wind and cattle
by cactus hedges.

At Benares we again separated. Loch and I
starting a day sooner than the others. I was
enchanted with Allahabad, our first resting-place.
It is charmingly situated at the confluence of the
two great rivers, the Ganges and the Jumna.



i82 INDIA

As both rivers are very sacred, it is a spot
to which pilgrims come from great distances at
certain periods of the year. Formerly, a tax was
imposed on every pilgrim, but it was abolished
by Lord Auckland, and, strange to say, the
numbers of pilgrims have since considerably
diminished, and the reason given is that the
pilgrimage is now looked upon as patronised by
the Government, and therefore no longer holy.

At Cawnpore I found an old friend, Colonel
Ashburnham, who is Brigadier there. He gave us
dinner, and afterwards took us to listen to a good
native band, the daily occupation of the Europeans.
He was the first person I met in India who seemed
to take any interest in its antiquities, and was
well read in its histories and religion. I regretted
that I had refused his offer of a bed when I got
into a stinking one, with horsehair sticking into
me, at a nasty inn on the bank of the dreary
Ganges, the only inn I stopped at in the whole
of India.

The next day we made such good use of our
time that everything was ready for a start to
Lucknow when Grosvenor and Egerton arrived.
We had borrowed a little palanquin carriage.
Relays of horses were stationed waiting for us
along the road, by the orders of Colonel Sleeman ^
and we had an escort of four horsemen, with
beautiful oriental dresses and the gayest trappings
for their horses. The country was flat and ugly,

' Colonel Sleeman was a distinguished Indian administrator. He
took a great part in the suppression of the Thugs. As Resident in
Lucknow he largely influenced Lord Dalhousie to annex the kingdom
of Oude.



I8SO-5I] LUCKNOW , 183

and not so well cultivated as before ; the villages
all little forts, surrounded with mud walls, with
a miserable population. We came in for a storm ;
lightning played about the horizon, and we drove
into Lucknow in pelting rain.

The Residency ^ is a large house, with immense
verandahs. We were received with some state
by Colonel Sleeman and several other residents.
We begged off dinner, got a comfortless tea, and
afterwards had a bad night's rest. We were lodged
in enormous rooms, with nothing comfortable
about them, and my scanty mosquito-net left me
an easy victim to that foe.

One morning we breakfasted with the King, a
great favour, as he is very averse to appearing
in public. At the door were a number of his
equipages, — a char-a-bancs, with eight horses ; a
carriage in the shape of a dolphin, which forms
the royal arms of Oude ; and two very gaudy cars,
each drawn by a couple of elephants, which made
them look most attractively oriental. The King
met us at the entrance, took Grosvenor by one
hand and the Resident by the other, and so led
them to the breakfast-table, where he sat down
between them. We had some difficulty in making
our way to some places opposite. The King appears
to be fifty — though in reality only twenty-nine ; is
bloated, and has a good-humoured countenance.
He wore a number of jewels of enormous size and
untold value. On one side sat his five sons,
including an idiot bridegroom, and one child four
years old, a great darling, who seemed oppressed

' The scene of the famous siege.



i84 INDIA

with his large gold head-dress. Beyond sat the
King's brother, a handsome man, and several of
his sons. No natives sat at table except those
related to the Royal Family. Behind, the grandees
of the country struggled in the crowd. There stood
the Prime Minister, and an interpreter — whose duty
it was to taste the King's food and wipe his mouth
with a napkin — and several eunuchs, who took
care of the children. The eunuchs were easily
recognised as Africans from their broad, flat faces
and thick lips. They were picturesque in spite
of their ugliness, and had by far the handsomest,
though most simple, dresses — with cashmere shawls
and plain gold turbans. These were the King's
chief favourites, and consequently are amassing
large fortunes. They are the patrons of the
Lucknow races, and one old monster was pointed
out to me as the owner of the best racehorse in
the country. The other guests were the English
officers and their wives. I wonder the latter
consent to a'ppear on such occasions, as the Mussul-
mans look upon it as the grossest impropriety and
treat them accordingly with little civility. The
food was uneatable, and I could not swallow any
of the dish His Majesty politely helped me to,
which consisted of chicken silvered over, and
greasy, highly scented rice. During the meal some
horrid-looking men called actors spouted verses
behind us, making the most dreadful noise and
frightful grimaces, trying in vain to attract the
King's attention.

After breakfast we had some fights of animals.
First of elephants, with their mahouts upon them.



1850-51] LUCKNOW 185

charging and pursuing each other on a plain the
other side of the river. Then a fight between
tigers and buffaloes, with an uncertain result, and
one between two wild horses, who kicked, bit,
and -reared, but were soon separated. These fights
are not so good as they used to be, for it is an
amusement which the present King, to his credit,
dislikes.

We took leave of him, to meet him again
the same evening at a dinner given in the Red
Palace in honour of the approaching marriage.
It was again a curious sight, but I was provoked
at being treated with very little civility, no place
being given me, and I was at last put, after standing
a long while, where I could see nothing. I, how-
ever, found myself among some offtcers, who treated
me hospitably, and shared with me the few knives
and forks they had brought with them, which were
of little use, as the meat was too tough to eat. I
contented myself with some good bread and some
very sweet champagne. A noisy band played
during dinner, and there were some Nautch girls
squatting on the ground close to where I sat, who
occasionally stood up to screech most unmercifully.
After dinner we had some bad fireworks. I was
delighted when an ill-directed rocket came right
into our platform and alarmed the courtiers. I
never saw a more sickening sight than this Court,
and I prefer the more manly, though less brilliant,
one of Nepaul, with its weak Rajah and sanguinary
nobles. The disgusting scenes which occur in the
Palace are daily reported to the Resident, and, he
says, beggar description.



i86 INDIA

The King of Oude, who owes to the English
his elevation to the throne, is the most degraded
of men, lives entirely with eunuchs, mountebanks,
and women, and neglects the affairs of the
country, delivering the country-people over to the
tender mercies of his rapacious courtiers, and what
is more terrible, when his tyranny is resisted, we
lend him our Army to enforce it. He promotes
the lowest and most disreputable people to the
highest posts. He promised better things. He is
intelligent, and writes poetry and plays, which he
causes to be acted. But Lord Hardinge,^ in an in-
terview, warned him that if he continued to oppress
his country, our Government would be obliged to
interfere. He has since been only the more
reckless, and hates the English. Colonel Sleeman,
who had distinguished himself in organising the
suppression of the Thugs, and afterwards by his
administration of a large district near the Nerbudda,
was chosen for this post in the hope that he might
gain some influence over the Rajah, but is said
to have failed and to dislike his position. It is
whispered that his subordinate thwarts all his
plans and is in the pay of the King. On leaving
Oude I was pleased to see a striking difference
between it and the Company's dominions, where
a greater air of security and civilisation was
immediately perceptible.

Grosvenor and Loch started the same evening
for Agra, leaving Egerton and myself to be present
at the review the next morning. We saw four

' The first Viscount Hardinge, Commander-in-Chief in India,
1 844-48.



1850-S1] AGRA 187

thousand men ; they made no manoeuvres, but merely
marched by. It was the first time I had seen
European and Sepoy regiments together, and cer-
tainly the former are distinguished by their more
decided step and bearing. The officers, I afi;er-
wards heard, were disgusted at being called out on
the occasion, as thinking us unworthy of the honour,
particularly since Grosvenor was gone.

On our way to Agra we were stopped by Mr.
Raikes, the Resident at Mynporee. He gave us
dinner and much useful information. He educated
his children in India, contrary to the general practice,
sending them every summer into the mountains.
They consequently appear thriving in mind and
body. He took us to see his gaol, where he
taught the prisoners to read, and found them
eager scholars.

We reached Agra on the morning of the 22nd,
and were lodged in the house of Mr, Thomason,
the Governor of the North-west Provinces, who
was absent. Mr. Woodcock, the magistrate, took
us at once to see his gaol, the model of all other
prisons in India. It was kept in beautiful order.
It contained no less than two thousand prisoners,
some of whom are hard to manage. The most
difficult were the Sikhs, who were political offenders.
They refuse to labour, and once nearly became
masters of the prison. They are remarkably
handsome, with long hair and beards. The next
most difficult to manage are the women, who are
very obstreperous. One we saw who had blinded
herself as an excuse for not working, which was a
common practice until the blind were, in spite of



i88 INDIA

their blindness, made to work. A little washer-
woman had been for fourteen years too much
for the warders, until Mr. Woodcock sent for a
barber to cut off her beautiful hair. At this she
threw herself on her knees, and promised to do
anything so long as her hair was spared. During
the last four years she became one of the most
diligent. Mr. Woodcock talked of trying this with
the Sikhs, if shooting some of them should continue
to fail to keep the others in order. Several
female Thugs were pointed out to us, one of
whom was nursing a child to whom she had
become tenderly attached, and who had been
deserted by its mother. The prisoners are em-
ployed upon the roads and on other public works,
and manufacture the prison blankets, paper, tiles,
and matting.

Towards evening Dr. Murray took us to see
the Fort. It extends for half a mile alono- the
river, and is extremely imposing, with massive
walls of red sandstone, and fine gateways and
approaches. There is much to see in it. First,
a vast hall, now turned into an armoury, at the
end of which are placed the much-talked-of
Gates of Somnauth, which Lord Ellenborough ^
had transported hither from Cabul ; they are not
of sandal wood, but of cedar, and are in no wise
remarkable. They only got thus far towards their
destination, when he became thoroughly ashamed
of them, seeing the indifference of the natives con-
cerning them. Beyond this hall is a succession
of courts, with colonnades and chambers all of

' Governor-General of India,



1850-51] AGRA 189

white marble, and most richly inlaid and sculptured.
One little white mosque in which only women
prayed is called the Mosque of the Pearl, and a
tower overhanging the river, the Jessamine Tower.
Lord Ellenborough felt tempted to live here, till
he found it was too hot to bear. He delighted
to sit on a large marble slab, which is called
•'Akbar's throne," and thence read and date his
proclamations. Still further are the ruins of the
old part of the Fort, supposed to have been built
before the Mussulman reign ; it is all of red stone,
and with quite different and grotesque ornaments,
such as are seen in the old Hindu temples. We
then crossed the river and went to the tomb of
Etwah Doulah, a favourite Vizier, a good-sized
building, richly ornamented. Nothing can give
you an idea of these buildings so well as an
observation of Bishop Heber, who said their
architects built like giants but finished like
jewellers.

Next morning we had further cause for admira-
tion — Secundra, the tomb of the great Akbar, a
magnificent red building, with such a gateway,
such terraces and balustrades ! Quite at the top
is a marble court surrounded with trellised panels,
all of white marble except the pavement, which
is red and white, and with Akbar's cenotaph in
the middle, likewise of white marble and most
delicately sculptured.

Still Dr. Murray kept repeating, " Reserve your
admiration for the Taj ; till then you have seen
nothing." At first I was rather disappointed, but
the more I examined it, the more I wandered



IQO INDIA

about it, the more I admired it — its dream-like or
rather fairy-like beauty, its exquisite detail, its
accurate proportions and its wonderful finish, not
a stone nor an ornament wanting. It was built
by one of the Mogul emperors. Shah Jehan, to
be the tomb of his favourite wife. It was her
dying request to have one superior to any other.
His own daughter is said to have drawn the
designs. At the back is a large garden, covering,
I should guess, twelve acres, with immense trees
and a mass of foliage, broad walks, fountains, and
peeps of cupolas and minarets in all directions.
The entrance is through a magnificent gateway.
The walk leading from this to the tomb is lined
with cypresses, and the contrast of the white
marble and the dark green foliage is beautiful.
We dined one night in a lovely but rather airy
apartment jutting out into the river from one of
the side mosques. At night we lighted some
blue lights, as a substitute for moonlight, by
which the Taj should be viewed aright, and placed
the lights in one of the minarets, thus strongly
marking the shadows.

At Agra, Loch, to our great regret, left us to
join his regiment.

On the morning of the 26th we drove to
Futtehpore Sikri. This place was formerly a
large town, and the old mud wall is six miles
in circumference, but very little of the space it
includes is at present built upon, the rest being
under cultivation. In the middle rises a hill, on
which is situated the ancient palace and mosque.
At its foot is a modern village ; all around are ruins



1850-Si] BHURTPORE 191

and heaps of brick. We took up our quarters
in a little pavilion belonging to the palace, two
stories high, and beautifully carved inside and out.
The palace was built by Akbar, and was his
favourite residence. It contains numberless courts,
magnificent stables, the houses of his different
wives, the hall of audience where he received the
petitions of his subjects, and the chamber where he
practised his magical arts. The walls are carved
with animals of all sorts, which were afterwards
mutilated by his religious, and therefore iconoclast,
successor. The buildings and ornaments are of a
much heavier style than those of a later date at
Agra, and are chiefly remarkable for their extreme
massiveness. We strolled about this remarkable
place for two hours, following an old guide, who
was none the less garrulous from our inability to
understand a word he uttered.

We went after sunset on the same day to
Bhurtpore, which is renowned for its strength.
We rode about it on elephants, and saw where
Colonel Lake attempted to take it and where
Lord Combermere succeeded in doing so.^ The
town is rather pretty, over-shadowed by large
tamarind trees, and the Rajah was improving it,
and was building stone arcades. He is a model
Rajah, has no Prime Minister, but attends him-
self to all the business, improves his dominions,
and is beloved by his subjects. His appearance
was not prepossessing, as he was very fat, and
his face deeply pitted by smallpox. I liked his
dress, which was simple and without jewels,

* Created Viscount Combermere, 1827, for the capture of Bhurtpore.



192 INDIA

though he possessed magnificent ones. He gave


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryEdward Frederick Leveson-GowerBygone years; → online text (page 12 of 21)