Edward Frederick Leveson-Gower.

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cabin.

We reached Gibraltar on the morning of the
26th. Not feeling very well, I did not hurry on
shore. When I got there I found all the passengers
dressed in their smartest, scattered about the place.
Some were employing their three precious hours
in buying, in true sailor fashion, everything they
could lay their hands on ; others in seeing some-
thing of that most curious and beautiful Rock : all
enjoying themselves as if it were a holiday.

The Mediterranean was delightfully smooth and
the weather was divine.

On the Sunday following there were two services.
In the morning a Wesleyan minister officiated,
and scandalised the orthodox by omitting the
prayer for the bishops, and preaching heretically
about Baptism. In the evening a minister of the
Scotch Free Church delivered a noisy, ranting
sermon. He was returning to Madras, where they
say he has done wonders amongst the Hindus.
There was with him a Hindu whom he had bought
as a child for a shilling, and educated for the
ministry. They had been preaching together in
Scotland, and had collected a considerable sum of
money. The Scotchman was very offensive, told



1850-51] MALTA 131

Captain Peel,^ a son of Sir Robert, who was on
board, that he had measured his calibre and found
it wanting, and forced an old colonel to recom-
mend him to be more humble.

The passengers by this time began to be
acquainted with one another ; there were several
pretty girls on board, and dancing took place
every evening. Dinner was a dreadful scramble.
We always sat in the same places, and I had on
one side of me an agreeable companion in Mr,
Cameron, a husband of one of Lady Eastnor's ^
numerous sisters. He formerly filled a high post
in Calcutta, and was then on his way to his coffee
estates in Ceylon.

We came in sight of Gozo, the island adjacent
to Malta, on the morning of the 29th. When all the
passengers had made their preparations for landing,
intent on all the pleasures that awaited them, they
met with a great disappointment. At half-past
twelve the pilot came out to meet us. Every
one watched him with a little anxiety, and you
may imagine the general dismay when he shouted
out, " Quarantine harbour." There was no
announcement of the quarantine having been taken
off in Egypt, though there had been no cases
of cholera at Malta for more than a month.
So, for fear we might be refused admittance into

' Captain Peel was a most gallant sailor, who afterwards dis-
tinguished himself greatly at Sebastopol and in the Indian Mutiny.
He was, when we met him, on his way to some out-of-the-way
place in order to convert the natives, and was excitable on religious
questions.

* Virginia, daughter ot the late James Pattle, Esq., of the Bengal
Civil Service, married to Viscount Eastnor afterwards third Earl
Somers.



132 INDIA

Alexandria, we had to spend our time in the dull
quarantine harbour, with a melancholy yellow flag
floating from our mast.

In spite of our misfortunes, the day I spent
in the quarantine harbour was the happiest of
any since England, for I received there my first
post, with letters full of affection and regret at my
departure from those I love best in the world,
and my day was well filled in reading and answering
them. We were allowed to go to the lazaretto,
where we purchased some trinkets of coral and
silver filigree, handed to us with the tongs.

We lay off Alexandria during the night of
November 3rd, I got up at daybreak to see the
sun rise. It was magnificent, and gave an Eastern
glow to Alexandria, which later did not keep its
promise, but presented a most uninteresting appear-
ance. A low, sandy coast, with nothing that looked
oriental to redeem it.

The entry into the town was an amusing
but difficult operation, owing to the enormous
crowd of donkeys and donkey-boys. Whenever a
traveller appeared at the hotel door a battle royal
commenced, a porter pitching into the donkey-
boys, and the master of the inn beating the porter
for his ill success in not dispersing them. The
thrashed sometimes cry, and beg for money
on account of a blow, which they never think of
returning. After visiting some baths charmingly
situated in a grove of date trees, of which we
ate the fruit, we drove about the place. First
to the palace, situated on the harbour. It is
nothing remarkable, being furnished in not the



1850-51] EGYPT 133

best French style. The floors of inlaid wood
are pretty. The attendants — a miserable set —
quarrelled over the end of my cigar, which I
had thrown away. Then of course to Pompey's
Pillar and Cleopatra's Needle, of which you know
as much as if you had seen them. We drank
a cup of thick, nasty coffee at the bazaar, where
everything was amusing and thoroughly Eastern.
The most curious sight is a lady of quality taking
her ride on her donkey ; all you see of her are
her two eyes peeping from a large domino blown
out like a balloon. I was also much struck with
the sight of a line of camels crossing the great
square. Their noiseless progress at night is very
ghostlike.

The next morning we embarked on the canal
which leads from Alexandria to the Nile. We
were in a barge towed by a steamer. The canal
for the first few miles was lined with good-looking
villas, and acacias grew on the banks ; later,
nothing but mud banks and mud villages, with
a flat, swampy country beyond. Much from its
novelty pleased me — a group of palm-trees, a lake
in the distance, which turned out to be a mirage,
and a man on horseback chasing a wild boar.

We soon took to whist on the companion, but
our rubber was interrupted by a sudden squall.
We saw it coming by the clouds of sand it raised,
but the sail was not got in soon enough. This
caused a great hullaballoo. The crew began to
jabber as niggers only can ; several climbed up the
slight mast, endeavouring in vain with their feet
and hands to draw in the sail ; [the barge dipped



134 INDIA

considerably on one side, the women screamed,
and I believ^e we should have stuck in the bank
or been upset had not F. Fitzroy seized hold of the
rudder. As it was, the only result was the loss
of my umbrella and somebody's cloak. The squall
was over in five minutes, and we resumed our
rubber, having had the presence of mind to pocket
hands and tricks, and remember the lead and
trumps.

The canal joins the Nile at a place called Atfeh.
In spite of its flat banks and muddy waters, I
was pleased with the Nile, so full of life and so
gay, with the numberless small boats with sails
of the shape of a bird's wing — some with one
sail, others with two pointing in different direc-
tions. The first view of Cairo was striking, with
its numberless minarets and the rising ground
beyond.

We were given eight hours there. The first
thing I did was to bathe in the Turkish fashion.
I was amused and cleaned, and enjoyed a pipe and
a good cup of coffee. We then rode on donkeys
up to the Citadel, from which there is a magni-
ficent view over the immense city, the Nile, and
the Pyramids. Near this is the palace and the
new mosque, begun by Mohammed Ali and not
then finished. It is entirely of alabaster, and
is very lofty and beautiful. There is before it a
large court, likewise of alabaster. The labour
was compulsory, the best workmen being seized
upon, a system which makes it undesirable to
excel.

The Pasha is very indolent, and takes not the



1850-51] TO SUEZ 135

slightest Interest in the improvement of his people.
He dislikes information, being unlike Mohammed
Ali, who was always anxious to know what was
going on. The canal we came by from Alexandria
was made entirely by forced labour, and many
lives were lost in its construction. This shocks
us more than wars, which are mosdy under-
taken without any useful result. We ended our
morning in the bazaars ; but I forget you have
been in the East, and that I need not describe
them or the solemn Turks at their stalls. Do
they at Constantinople insist on your taking a
puff at their pipes, and make you sit down on
their counter, as they display their goods ?

The journey across the desert was as agreeable
as a sleepless night allowed. Six passengers were
closely packed in small vans on two wheels, which
are wonderfully constructed as they rarely upset,
though severely tried. Any attempt to sleep in
them was vain, as it was invariably followed by a
strong jolt which knocked my head against the
wooden sides of the carriage, or on the hard
forehead of the opposite passenger. The road
was in parts good, but there were bits of deep
sand where we had to get out to push the wheels.
We had four horses, which we changed every six
miles. You may well ask in what I thought this
part of our trip agreeable. I believe it was owing
to the bracing air of the desert, the novelty of
everything, and the picturesque scenes at the
post-houses, lighted up by immense torches, with
the various types of negroes and the Arab horses.
There were three stations where we found excel-



136 INDIA

lent food. The luggage is sent over on camels,
and there is no danger of losing any of it.
When first this line was opened, two camels were
cut off from the rest and carried away. The
Pasha had the whole country scoured by 10,000
men ; the camels were found in the possession of
thirteen men, who were immediately bowstrung,
without trial or proof that they were the robbers.
Since that time a writing-desk might be left in
the middle of Cairo and no one would touch it.

The inn at Suez, a large sort of barrack, was quite
full ; no hope of beds unless some of the women
would go on board ship, which they alone were
allowed to do. Of course most of them declined,
while the men were furious at not having the
option ; we however all contrived to get beds,
and I slept thirteen unbroken hours, in spite of
the gluttony of a host of bugs. I killed many
next morning.

We steamed away from Suez the next afternoon,
November the 9th. The views of the two shores
are beautiful ; the mountains high, with broken
shapes, and the colouring of sea and land most vivid.
Mount Sinai in spite of the panorama is not visible,
but each passenger chooses any two peaks he
fancies as Mount Horeb and Mount Sinai.

We soon lost sight of land. The heat on the
third day became very oppressive, and there soon
was perceptible a sudden lassitude amongst us
all ; there was nothing worth describing, not even
the sight of a single ship. A large fish kept
ahead of the vessel, and was shot by a man who
looked like Don Quixote, and flourished his pistols



1850-51] ADEN 137

alarmingly. As the fish could not be got, this
appeared to me cruel. The heat diminished as
we entered the Straits of Babelmandeb. The
coast here again is very beautiful and there was
a good view of Mocha.

We anchored off Aden on the evening of the
13th. The harbour is protected from the sea.
The place itself is a heap of lava, with several
hills of grotesque shape rising to a considerable
height. It is a peninsula joined to the main-
land by a strip of sand. It was taken from the
Arabs about ten years ago. They afterwards
made some ineffectual attempts to get it back.
The hotel is near the landing-place. The town
is three miles off in an old crater, the approach
to it through a narrow defile. The cantonments
are beyond, near the old Turkish wall, which
forms the boundary and was being repaired.
Except a few low bushes there is no verdure.
The provisions come in great abundance from a
fertile district about thirty miles off. The water
was brackish, but the residents get to like it, and
think other water insipid, which they remedy by
putting salt into it.

We dawdled all day about the hotel, which is
well adapted to the climate. It has large verandahs
filled with beds, having a trellis outside, which
gives the travellers who are resting the appearance
of beasts in a menagerie. There is a billiard-room
and a shop containing a great variety of wares,
very dear and very bad. There are plenty of
ponies to be hired. The boys in charge of them
are a wild-looking set, slim but active, very intelligent



138 INDIA

and great rogues. They have picked up a good
deal of English: "Good pony, sir, make no harm
at all ! " They rode races for our amusement. One
said, " If my horse does not win I forfeit four
shillings." They however attacked one of the
winners, nearly deprived him of his winnings, and
quite deprived him in the struggle of the little
clothing he had round his loins.

Here we left twenty passengers, most of them on
their way to Bombay — one of them a very pretty
girl, the daughter of the Commander of Aden.
He had not seen her since she was three weeks
old, and could not suppress his pleasure, I was
told, at finding he had such a pretty daughter.
These separations are very common in India.
There was a young fellow on board who was on
his way to his father, whom he had never seen.

The third day Grosvenor became very unwell ;
but the doctor's attention and skill soon brought
him round.

The steamer was very crowded and uncomfort-
able and we signed an energetic remonstrance to
the P. and O. Company.

The first view of the green island of Ceylon
was beyond anything refreshing. Galle is a pretty
little Dutch town, exceedingly clean, with houses
that looked like toys, interspersed with trees. We
lodged at a comfortable boarding-house exposed
to the sea breezes. It was kept by the son of
the landlady of the inn. He refused at first to
take us in, as he had agreed not to deprive his
mother of her unmarried customers ; but she waived
her claim, which I thought amiable, though others



1850-51] CEYLON 139

suggested that her house was as full as it could
be. But she was certainly an obliging old lady.
She learnt that I had given too much for a comb,
sent for the seller, ordered him to refund the money,
which he did at once, and got me a better comb
for less money. Natives teased us to buy their
wares, which consisted of birds, monkeys, fans,
precious stones, tortoiseshell ornaments, cocoa-nuts
and every sort of fruit.

We remained two nights at Galle, and met with
hospitality from Captain and Mrs. Maclean, and
Gerard Talbot, a brother of John.^ The whole
country round for miles is covered with cocoa-nut
trees.

We paid a visit to the clergyman, who lives a
few miles off at a charming bungalow. He gave
us a botanical lecture, showing us the plants of
the native cinnamon and coffee. We found there
a pretty niece, who had been our fellow-passenger
and much admired by Egerton. She was suffering
from a swelled face and broken tooth, The fame
of her good looks had preceded her in the island,
where there is said to be a great dearth of beauty.
The faded Mrs. Maclean and her entourage, how-
ever, declared they were sadly disappointed by her
beauty, and preferred Miss Metcalfe, who was on
her way to Delhi.

On the 28th we started for Colombo in a com-
fortable barouche, given us by the mail contractor,
at G. Talbot's instigation. The country is ex-
ceedingly pretty. You must imagine to yourself

' A great friend of my family, and a distinguished Parliamentary
barrister. He was the father of the present M.P. for Oxford University,



I40 INDIA

the Chatsworth conservatory run wild. The road
is excellent, and skirts the sea by sand, surf, and
rock, occasionally intercepted by broad rivers that
looked like lakes, with views of distant moun-
tains. The tropical vegetation in the shape
of the trees and the delicacy of the flowers is
superior to what I expected, but the colouring
is monotonous. There is certainly a charm in
seeing in great abundance hedges of pine-apple
and groves of banana, which one had regarded as
rarities. This part of Ceylon is populous. The
whole road is lined with cottages, some very pic-
turesque, covered with mattings made of the leaf of
the cocoa-nut tree, with bananas hanging over them.
We reached Colombo in the afternoon. I took
an immediate dislike to it. The houses in the fort
have pretensions to architecture, with columns, but
the whitewash upon them has peeled off, which
gives them a mangy appearance. On one side of
the fort is the esplanade, where the races were held
before Lord Torrington's conduct put an end
to them. He is said to have called one of the
gentleman riders without the slightest foundation
a cheat, and then put him under arrest for saying
the accusation was not true. It was then the
fashion at Colombo to abuse Lord Torrington,
whether deservedly or not I cannot say. On the
other side of the fort are some lakes, and beyond
a district studded with bungalows, where most of
the Eno^lish reside, the Cinnamon Gardens ex-
tending farther on for some miles. The native
town stretches some way along the sea shore
north of the fort.



1850-51] JUNG BAHADUR 141

During our stay in Ceylon, great excitement
was caused by the arrival of Jung Bahadur, the
Nepaulese Ambassador, who was on his way
back to India ; but there was likewise disappoint-
ment when he and his countrymen appeared in
plain white instead of the smart dress which was
so much admired in London. It seemed they were
in Court mourning for a Ranee.

Grosvenor and I were much surprised one
morning at the two brothers of Jung Bahadur
being announced. They came with a message
from him, earnestly entreating Grosvenor to pay
a visit to Nepaul, as Jung said he was most
anxious to repay the civilities he had received at
Grosvenor House. He promised good sport and
every facility for the journey.

We returned the visit the next day, but our
intercourse was confined to a shake of the hands,
as the interpreter was absent.

We dined one night at Sir Anthony Oliphant's,
the Chief Justice, and I sat next to the Governor,
Sir G. Anderson. I met there my Eton tutor,
Mr. Chapman,^ who had become Bishop of
Colombo. He surprised as well as touched me
by his cordiality. He seemed to have forgotten
the verses which I had copied out of a French
Gradus, a discovery which at school lost me all

' Mr. Chapman was my tutor at Eton, and married the daughter
of the famous head master, Doctor Keate. He had the merit of
disliking flogging. He never had me flogged, nor, as far as I can
remember, any other boy in his house. He was very pompous, and
many absurd phrases were attributed to him, such as, instead of
" Shut the door," " Let the guardian of our secrets revolve on its axis " ;
and instead of " Snuff the candle," " Deprive the luminary of its
superfluity."



142 INDIA

his esteem. After dinner there was a great party,
to which the Nepaulese and all the great people
of Colombo came. The verandahs were beautifully
ornamented with festoons of the leaves of the
cocoa-nut and its graceful flower, arranged by
the natives with much taste. The heat was intense,
which made me rejoice that the serious scruples
of Lady Oliphant, a clever, agreeable woman,
would not allow us to dance.

We left Colombo on December the 3rd for
Kandy. Every bit of the drive is lovely, but the
most beautiful part of it was hid by a thick mist
and rain. Kandy is a cheerful place, surrounded
by luxuriant hills with gay bungalows here
and there. We were charmingly lodged in one
belonging to the Colonial Secretary on the side of
a hill, with an enchanting view over the valley
and a foreground of palm-trees and of rose-trees
in full bloom.

We dined the first day with Mr, Duller, the
Government Agent. Before dinner he took us
to see the temple in which the tooth of Buddha
is kept. This is a most sacred relic, and very
valuable, as the natives consider that its possession
confers the government of the country. They are
now never shown it, as its sight puts them into a
dangerous state of excitement. They have made
several attempts to get possession of it. The
Siamese, who are likewise Buddhists, offered
;^5o,ooo for it. The temple is a small, ugly
building with several small courts, and grotesquely
ornamented. The tooth is kept in seven cases
of gold in the shape of bells, one enclosing the



1850-51] KANDY 143

other, and these again are locked up in an iron
cage. This has three padlocks, of which Mr. Buller
keeps the keys. We were not shown the tooth, as
the unlocking of all these cases is a tedious cere-
mony ; but the outer case is covered with jewels,
and there were in the cage some other golden orna-
ments. Besides the priest several chiefs were
present, fat men with head-dresses like the caps of
French cooks.

Mr. Buller ordered them about unceremoniously
in spite of their rank. They were said to be puffed
up by the deference shown to them by the English,
but from what I saw on this occasion this cannot
be any longer the case. I was not sorry to get
back into the open air, on account of the perfume of
a sacred flower they have, and the noise of a sort
of drum which is called "tom-tom," accompanied
by some jingling instruments and a droning chant.
This constant charivari makes it a misfortune to
live near a temple.

Mr. Buller lives in the palace of the kings of
Kandy, a peculiar old building with thick walls,
low rooms, and curious figures. The outside,
with the verandah leading to the temple, is very
picturesque.

Early the next morning we walked round Lady
Horton's ^ walk, so called because she projected it.

^ Lady Horton was beautiful, and inspired Byron, who was her
husband's cousin, to write the well-known lines :
She walks in beauty like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies.

Sir William Horton was an agreeable and cultivated man, who was much
engaged in poHtics. He was much connected with the Canningite
party, and therefore intimate with my father. He was during seven
years Governor of Ceylon.



144 INDIA

It extends three miles round one of the hills which
enclose the valley. The different views from it
are quite beautiful. A broad river runs past an
extensive track of wild wood, with gigantic trees
reminding one of a picture of Salvator Rosa.

The next evening we went to the Botanical
Gardens, large, but ill-kept, with a beautiful group
of palms at the entrance. The superintendent
said he was disappointed in the flowers and insects
of Ceylon, both as to size and colour, but was
pleased with the shape and variety of the trees.
He thought tea might be profitably cultivated here,
which I believe is an error, as cheap labour would
be essential.^

Having purchased three good ponies with saddles
and bridles for the moderate sum of ^12 each, we
left Kandy for Nuera-ellia on the 8th.

We reached our first resting-place, Papilara,
early the same morning. Here is the most perfect
climate in the island, perpetual summer, with bracing
air and no heat. Soon after our arrival we received
a visit from Mr. Worms, the owner of a small
estate near at hand, whose brother's acquaintance
Grosvenor had made at Colombo. They were
related to the Rothschilds, to whom some say the
estate belongs.

Mr. Worms seemed very shrewd, and talked a
good deal and energetically, whilst he balanced him-
self on a stick he held before him. His favourite
word was " frightful," which he applied to a variety
of objects, but it was accompanied with a shudder

* We now know that he was right.

* Also, 1 fancy, to the late Lord Pirbright.



1850-51] NUERA— ELLIA 145

when he spoke of the heat of the sun, or the fury
of the buffaloes, cheetahs and other wild animals.
He has no pretensions, and when told he was no
gentleman by some neighbours, whom he stopped
when they were hunting an elk over his land, he
said, " I know I am no gentleman, but only a
poor coffee-planter, and it is for that reason I
wish you not to destroy my coffee." We walked
over to his estate in the afternoon, examined the
buildinofs where the coffee was dried, and found
him paying his labourers. They get sevenpence
a day for picking two bushels of coffee, which is
good pay, as they want but little food, no fuel,
and only a rag for clothes. I do not wonder that
so many of our friends, as well as half Calcutta,
were ruined by coffee, as it seems a most uncertain
speculation. It only answers in the high districts
— the higher the better, so long as it does not meet
with frost ; it requires constant manure, which
cannot easily be got, and it thrives best on the
side of a hill, but where it is liable to be washed
away.

Mr. Worms gave us an excellent dinner at his
bungalow. It is inhabited, besides himself, his
nephew, and his excellent friend and manager,
Mr. Jones, by twenty-four dogs, and, I believe,
as many cats. The former, he said, were to keep
off the robbers, and the latter the rats. Dogs and
cats live harmoniously together, and some of the


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Online LibraryEdward Frederick Leveson-GowerBygone years; → online text (page 9 of 21)