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Kashmir, and have seen all I intended except one portion, which I shall
visit on my road home. My next move will be to - - , but as I do not
care to spend more than seven or eight days there, I am in no hurry to
get back. My bird died in the night, and by its death has put an end to
a rather violent controversy between my Bheistie and boatman. The
boatman stoutly maintained his opinion of its value and the Bheistie
with a more correct appreciation, and while explaining to me that it
was a jungle bird and would never sing, appeared to look upon my conduct
with a mixture of compassion and disgust, and then they quarrelled over
it. Was my fancy a foolish one? Some men will spend years in the pursuit
and classification of butterflies, while others go into ecstasy over a
farthing of the reign of Queen Anne. My common jungle bird was a pretty
one, and if I had got it home and put it in a gilt cage, it would surely
have possessed some value for its antecedents, even if it had proved as
mute as a fish, or as discordant as a Hindoo festival.


AUGUST 21st. - Marched back to Kunbul, seven miles, and took up my
quarters again on board the boat, fifteen or twenty other boats are
here, a good many visitors having recently arrived in this part of
Kashmir. I remained at Kunbul all day waiting for the completion of a
pair of chuplus which I ordered of a shoemaker ten days ago. I have
occupied the time by reading Marryat's "Newton Forster" (one of Hewson's
gifts) and I find that when I read I can't write, so that must be my
excuse for the shortness of my notes. My head is full of ships, sea
fights, and love making to the exclusion of everything else. I heard
you - you said it was a good job, as it prevented me writing more
nonsense.


AUGUST 22nd. - Slowly drifting all day down the stream towards
Sreenuggur. Past Bijbehara with its fine bridge, stopping there a short
time to procure milk and eggs for breakfast. Past Awuntipoor - the former
capital - but now only a very small village, where stands on the rivers
bank the ruins of two ancient Hindoo temples, square blocks, built
indeed of enormous stones, but without sufficient architectural
embellishment to require a closer inspection than I obtained from the
boat. Another of those charming lazy days on the water, nothing to think
about, but the time for meals, nothing to do, but to eat them when
prepared. The eastern part of Kashmir is covered with high isolated
mounds called Kuraywahs, composed of Alluvium, presenting perfectly
flat summits and precipitous sides. The top of these was doubtless the
original bed of the lake at the time when the whole valley was
submerged, and the present channels between them (though now dry land)
were cut by the rush of the water, when the Jhelum burst through the
opening at Baramula and drained the valley. This rush then is shown to
have been impetuous (and the high banks of the river also bear evidence
to it) but it seems to me that the mere breaking through of the stream
sixty or seventy miles away is not enough to account for it. No doubt
that occurrence was attended, I may say produced by violent
subterranean phenomena; and I imagine that this portion of the
vale - which is much higher than the western half - then underwent a
sudden upheaval, the result of which if only a few feet would be to
throw its waters with terrific force into the lower portion and afford
an easy explanation of the formation of both the Kuraqwahs and the
Jhelum. I noticed in my course up the Jhelum, that it appeared to have
originally consisted of a chain of small lakes, this would be the the
natural effect of such a cause as I have supposed. The bulk of water, at
first, would only have been sufficient to produce a few of them, perhaps
only the large one between Gingle and Baramula. But as its quantity and
measure continually increased by the flow from the higher level so
would lake after lake have been formed among the crowded hills until the
plains were reached. Then the drainage of these small lakes would follow
as a matter of course, and the channel of the river be reduced to a size
proportionate to its constant supply. Dear reader, you are very
difficult to please. My descriptions you call slow, my imaginings
frivolous, science dry. Jokes are feeble and personalities tedious
morality is stale, religion is cant. What, how can I write? You have had
a taste of all and if you are not content the fault is - well, let me be
on the safe side - either yours or mine.


AUGUST 23rd, Sunday. - We continued to progress last night by moonlight
long after the sun had set, and started again very early this morning,
so that the Tukh-t-i-Suliman (Soloman's Throne) and Fort are now
visible, and I expect to reach Sreenuggur before noon. It is faster work
floating down the current than towing against it. At Sreenuggur I found
several letters waiting for me, and amongst them a large "Official,"
which I tore open with eager haste; thinking it might be a reply to my
application to be sent home. It was - - . Well, you will never guess - an
urgent enquiry as to what language I could speak and write fluently
beside English. I have answered this question some half dozen times
since I have been in the service, but they never get tired of asking it.
The date of my arrival in India is another favourite and constantly
recurring enquiry, and this might lead me to give you a dissertation
upon the theory and practice of Red-tapeism, with a special
consideration of the amount of stationery thereby wasted, and its
probable cost to the Government. It would perhaps, be very interesting
to you, but to any one who is at all connected with it, the subject is
only one of weariness and disgust - weariness at the unproductive labour
entailed - disgust at the utter folly of the proceedings. So I pass it
by, leaving some one who is willing to sacrifice his feelings, or more
probably some one who knows nothing whatever about it to furnish the
much needed exposé; it is customary to cry it down but it is an
acknowledged evil, the custom has never been fully and fairly explained
to outsiders or it must have given way before the burst of public
indignation which such an explanation would have created. I have again
encamped in the Chinar Bugh, but not quite in the old position as a
better place was unoccupied. Indeed I had my pick of the whole, for
there is now nobody here but myself. I received news (in my letters)
that a field force had left Pindee to operate against some of the hill
tribes between Peshawur and Abbottabad - ruffians who are always giving
trouble, and who occasioned the inglorious Umbeylla campaign a few
years ago. I informed my "boy" that there was going to be some hard
fighting, and his reply was "With our troops, Sir?" Our troops! good
heavens! a black man speaking to me of "our troops." It is customary I
know to call these Asiatics our fellow subjects, but I never before had
the fact so forcibly brought before me.


AUGUST 24th. - I got up early this morning and have spent half the day on
the "Dul" or "City Lake" - a large sheet of water which lies at the foot
of the hill behind Sreenuggur. Besides the excessive beauty of the lake
itself there are many objects of interest to be seen on its banks. I
visited in succession the Mussul Bagh, Rupa Lank or Silver Isle,
Shaliman Bagh, Suetoo Causeway, Nishat Bagh, Souee Lank or Golden Isle,
and floating gardens. A word or two of description for each. The Mussul
Bagh is a large grove of fine chenars planted in lines so as to form
avenues at right angles to each other. There must be several hundred of
these noble trees upon the ground, I do not mean fallen but erect and
vigorous. The Shaliman Bagh is an extensive and well cultivated pleasure
garden with pavilions, tanks, canals and fountains, in true oriental
style. The upper pavilion is especially worthy of notice having a
verandah built of magnificent black marble veined with quartz
containing gold. It is surrounded by a large tank possessing one hundred
and fifty-nine fountains, and its exterior is grandly if not
artistically painted. The Nishat Bagh is smaller but scarcely less
attractive. It is arranged in a series of fifteen terraces, from which a
splendid view is obtained of the lake and adjacent country. Down its
centre runs a canal, expanding at intervals into tanks and having a
waterfall for each terrace, with a single straight row of fountains
numbering more than one hundred and sixty. Grand hills rise immediately
above it. It contains pavilions of fruit trees, and as a flower garden,
is superior to the Shaliman Bagh. The Suetoo Causeway, is a series of
old bridges and embankments which formerly crossed the lake, and was two
or three miles long, but only portions of it now remain. The two islands
are small and covered with trees, having no interest of themselves, but
adding greatly to the appearance of the lake. They are I believe
artificially constructed. The celebrated floating gardens are very
curious; they were formed by dividing the stalks of the water weeds near
their roots, and sprinkling the surface of them with earth, which
sinking a little way was entangled in the fibres and retained; Fresh
soil was then added, until the whole was consolidated, and capable of
bearing a considerable weight. The ground is now about nine inches
thick, floating upon the surface of the water, and the stalks of the
weeds below it having disappeared. It is exceedingly porous and is used
for the cultivation of water melons, when walking upon it a peculiar
elasticity is perceived, accompanied with a tremulous or jelly like
motion. It is divided into long stripes pierced by a stake at each end,
which secures them in their position and allows of their rising or
falling with the height of the water. An unlucky day for Silly. In the
first place he was _sea-sick_. The use of the broad paddle in a small
boat caused a good deal of shaking, and every stroke is attended with a
sharp jerk forwards - secondly, he mistook a collection of weeds for dry
land and jumped out into the water. This puzzled him immensely, and
after he was recovered he sat for a long time gazing with a bewildered
air upon the surface of the lake. Paid a visit in the afternoon to
Sumnud Shah for the purpose of replenishing my exchequer, but found his
shop better calculated to exhaust it. I'll not go there again.


AUGUST 25th. - Lying down inside my tent I just now heard two crows
chuckling and laughing in their way and saying to one another "here's a
joke" or caws to that effect. You need not laugh at this statement or
think that my mind has suddenly become deranged, I merely state a fact.
The language of animals - dumb creatures as fools call them - is far more
expressive than you imagine, and if you had spent the same time and the
same attention that I have in listening to birds notes, you would be
able to understand much of their meaning. Here a conversation carried on
in a foreign tongue, one to which you a perfect stranger, will you be
able to distinguish words? No! you will only hear a confusion of sounds
possessing apparently but little variety. But as you become accustomed
to it the words and syllables will start out into clear relief; so with
birds songs - at first they will appear to you to be always the same, but
they have really different tones and meanings, which you may learn to
appreciate by studying them in connection with their acts. However I
heard the crows say "here's a joke" and guessing I was to be the victim
of it, I immediately jumped up and rushed out. They flew away loudly
exulting and I found my match box, - which I had left on the table broken
to pieces and the matches carefully distributed so as to cover as large
a space of ground as possible; there is a crow's joke for you - there is
not much in it as a joke, - but I introduce it principally to show that
birds talk and that I (clever I) can understand them. I wrote the
foregoing to eke out my notes for the day, not having anything
particular to record. When the Baboo called upon me with the startling
intelligence, all officers from the Peshawur division ordered
immediately to rejoin their respective regiments; this has taken away
the greater number of the visitors and very few are now left in Kashmir.
Why don't I pack up and start? Well, I forgot to mention a short
sentence in the order "except those on medical certificate" which saves
me the trouble and annoyance of hurrying back before the expiration of
my leave. It is on account, I suppose, of the little war we have entered
on with those hill tribes, and I may be missing honour and glory, wounds
and death, neither of which I care to earn from barbarians on the black
mountains. I am sorry for the affair as I fear that from the
inaccessibility of the country the best result will barely escape
disaster. This is a strange day. You see me, one moment trifling with my
thoughts for the sake of occupation and then having matters and subjects
for the deepest consideration suddenly thrust upon me. Ought I to
rejoin? I am indeed protected from the necessity of doing so, but my
health is now fully established and such being the case, is it my duty
to waive my right and return to my regiment. I think not, for the reason
it is not likely that they will weaken the garrison at Peshawur by
sending any of its troops into the field. Its strength is maintained for
the purpose of defence against the Cabulese and other powerful Pathan
tribes immediately surrounding it, who are deadly enemies, and would be
eager to avail themselves of any opportunity for offence. Therefore I
imagine that my regiment will remain in quarter, and do just as well
without me as with me; and therefore have I determined to adhere to my
original plans.


AUGUST 26th. - There was a great fire in the town last night; three
hundred houses have been destroyed. I went early to the scene of the
disaster, which is on the left bank of the river adjoining the first
bridge. The embers were still smouldering, and among the ruins the heat
was intense, owing to the houses having been built almost entirely of
wood, little but ashes and charred logs remained of them. Here and there
a few hot bricks retained the semblance of a wall, but the destruction
has been as complete as it is excessive. The bridge has also suffered,
the bank pier having been attacked by the flames, and half the railing
on either side of the foot-way has been torn off and precipitated into
the water. The latter injury was caused I imagine, by the rush of the
crowd over it at the time of the fire. No lives lost I believe.


AUGUST 27th. - At six o'clock this morning a Jemindar or military
officer made his appearance, sent by the Baboo, for the purpose of
conducting me over the fort. A row of a mile down the river, and half a
mile walk through the narrow rough crowded and stinking streets of the
town brought us to the outworks, at the foot of the hill on which it is
built. This hill is very steep and several hundred feet high, (I do not
know the exact height, but I think it is between six and seven hundred
feet) and the climb up it was fatiguing. From the top there is an
extensive view, but the morning was misty and the greater part of the
valley indiscernible. In front lies the town, intersected by the Jhelum;
a great desert of mud-covered roofs presenting anything but the green
carpet-like appearance described in books. On the left long lines of
poplars, enclosing the Moonshi Bagh and the various encamping grounds,
with the Tukh-t-i-Suliman rising high above them. Behind, the Dul,
spread out like a sheet of silver with the back ground of mountains, and
many canals radiating and glistening in the sun-light. Of the fort I
have but little to say. From below, its position renders it imposing,
but a nearer inspection dispels the illusion. Inside it there is a
Hindoo temple, two or three tanks filled with green, slimy water, and
some wretched hovels for the occupation of the garrison. The ramparts
though high are weak and a few shells dropped within them would blow
the whole place to pieces. The ordnance consists of four ancient brass
guns; two of them about 9-pounders and the others 32-pounders, but I did
not see a spot from which either of them could be safely fired; and even
if there were bastions strong enough, I doubt if cannon could be
depressed sufficiently to sweep the precipitous sides of the hill. On my
way back to the boat, I turned aside to visit the Jumma Musjid, or chief
Mosque, a large quadrangular wooden building, the roof of which is
supported by deodar columns of great height, each pillar being cut out
of a single tree, but I cannot waste more time over it, the name recalls
to my memory the magnificent Jumma Musjid of Delhi - but comparisons are
odious. When parting with my attendant I felt uncertain whether or no he
would be offended by the offer of a remuneration for his trouble, so I
left him to ask for it, as natives usually do not scruple to request
"bucksheesh" for the most trifling service, but either his orders or his
dignity prevented him from soliciting it, and he went away unrewarded
and I doubt not dissatisfied. After noon I went and selected a lot of
papier maché articles, and gave monograms to be painted upon them. Their
papier maché is fairly made, elaborately painted and moderate in price.
At this shop they prepared some ladâk tea for me, a most delicious
beverage possessing a delicate flavour such as I have never before
tasted in any tea. It was sweetened with a sort of sweet-meat in lieu of
plain sugar.


AUGUST 28th. - A blank day, I have done nothing but fish and only caught
one of moderate size. Early in the morning there was a storm attended
with high wind and heavy rain; it cleared up before sun-rise, but its
effect has been to make the day very pleasantly cool.


AUGUST 29th. - Went up to the Tukh-t-i-Suliman (Solomon's Throne) before
breakfast. It stands one thousand one hundred feet above the town, and
the ascent is effected by means of unhewn stones arranged in the form
of a rough flight of steps built by the Gins, I should fancy for their
own private use and without any consideration for the puny race of
mankind that was destined to follow them. I am a tall man and gifted
with a considerable length of _understanding_ but the strides I was
obliged to take - sometimes almost bounds - if calculated to improve my
muscles, were certainly very trying to my wind. However all things have
an end, and so had that long flight of steps, and at the summit I had
leisure to recover my breath and enjoy the magnificent view. I took care
to have a clear day for this excursion, and the whole valley was seen
stretched out like a map, and spreading far away to the feet of its
stupendous mountain boundaries. The lakes like huge mirrors reflecting a
dazzling radiance. The Jhelum twisting like a "gilded snake" and forming
at the foot of the hill the original of the well-known shawl pattern;
miles upon miles of bright and verdant fields, divided and marked out by
the banks and hedges; clumps and groves of lofty trees diminished by
distance to the appearance of mere dark green bushy excrescences; the
poplar avenue looking like two long and paralleled lines drawn upon the
ground; the fort and hill but a pigmy now; the city of sombre colour,
with its houses closely huddled together and presenting an expanse of
mud - unworthy stone for such a setting! The high and rugged mountains
on every side piercing the clouds, out of which the everlasting snow and
ice rock regions untrod by mortal foot gleam and glisten coldly in the
scene below; these are the constituent parts of a view which taken
altogether ranks among the finest (if indeed it be not itself the
finest) in the world. But I have no description for it as a whole, words
would fail me if I attempted to reproduce it on paper, so you must take
the items and arrange them to your own satisfaction, and wish you had
the opportunity of seeing the glorious original. I am no antiquarian,
but I believe the building itself possesses great interest for those who
indulge in that musty study, on account of its vast antiquity and
uncertain history. To me it is only a Hindoo temple of quaint
architecture and unwholesome smell. Inside it is a small marble idol in
the form of a pillar with a snake carved round it.


AUGUST 30th, Sunday. - The beginning of a fresh week which will at its
conclusion find me on my way homewards, my back turned on the lovely
valley and all the beauties that I have witnessed existing only in my
memory like a pleasant dream that has passed. So wags the world, joys
giving place to sorrows, and sorrows in their turn effaced by fresh
happiness or oblivion. For a little while each one of us plays his ever
varying part in the great drama of life. Now bewailing with bursting
heart, and scalding tears the light affliction which is but for a
moment; now with ringing laugh and reckless gaiety he enjoys the
present, forgetful alike of past and future, now with stormy passions
raging he "like an angry ape, plays such fantastic tricks before high
heaven, as make the angels weep;" and then is his short act over, then
the curtain falls and then will he be called before it to receive
approbation? Who can tell, I judge not one individually; but I may
generalize and say, that while as a rule we give a terrible earnestness
to the performance of the _business_ connected with our parts, we too
often fail to appreciate and interpret the _spirit_ of the character,
without which it is of course but a sorry exhibition and one that will
be deservedly damned. As I sit under the shade of the chenars writing, a
young native swell is passing along the opposite bank of the canal - a
mere boy, with gold turban, lofty plume and embroidered clothing, riding
a horse led by two grooms, followed by attendants also mounted, but
sitting two on a horse and preceded by a band consisting only of some
six drummers. He is playing his part doubtless very much to his own
satisfaction, and little thinking that there is one "taking notes" and
laughing at his proceedings. But so it is, we can always see, and
ridicule the faults and foibles of others, would to God we could as
easily perceive and weep over those of our own. The Baboo Mohes Chund
called to pay his farewell visit to me and shortly afterwards sent a
second edition of "russud" including as before - a live sheep.


AUGUST 31st. - My last day in Sreenuggur - and now let me make a few
observations on a topic which I dare say you are surprised has not been
mentioned before, I mean the women; the far-famed beauties of Kashmir. I
am not ungallant, while I have been silent, I have been observing, and
have delayed my remarks in order that they might have the benefit of the
largest experience I could command. I did this the more willingly,
because to tell the truth, I was disappointed at first, and I hoped that
by waiting I might eventually have reason to change my unfavourable
opinion. This however has not been the case, and while I intend to do
full justice to their charms I must commence by saying that they have
been grossly exaggerated. I do not of course allude to the higher
classes. They are invisible; they _may_ be very beautiful, but are never
seen by Europeans. But the middle and lower classes go about with the
face uncovered, exposing themselves to the criticism of some and the
admiration of others, and it is of them I speak. The slim elegant figure
of the Hindoo is seldom seen; they are large, plump, round women. Their
complexion has been absurdly compared to that of our brunettes (may they
feel complimented thereby) but veracity compels me to say that they are
_very dark_. Fair indeed by comparison with the Hindoos, but actually
and unmistakeably copper-coloured not to say _black_. In their features
we find a great improvement; a well-shaped nose replaces the expanded
nostrils, compressed lips, the thick pouting ones, their teeth are of
marvellous whiteness and regularity as are those of all Asiatics. Their
cheeks may sometimes have a tinge of pink, but this is usually veiled by
the darker tint of the "rete mucosum." Their eyes - oh! their eyes! - here
lies their beauty, almond-shaped eyes, that when not in anger cannot
help throwing the sweetest and most captivating glances. None of your
trained disciplined eyes, taught to express feelings that do not exist;
but still eyes that equally deceive, eyes that nature in some strange
freak determined should ever look love. Unconsciously and
unintentionally they dart upon you the brightest, the most tender, nay,
even passionate glances. When looking at a young face, you only see the


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