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- Round the World - 30/46 -


could do justice to. Indeed, my first thought as I saw the thousands on the ascending banks--one tier of resting-places above another, culminating in the grand temples' towering at the tops--was that I had seen something akin to this in a dazzling picture somewhere. Need I say that it is in the Turner Gallery alone where such color can be seen? He should have painted the "Hindoo Bathers at Benares," and given the world one more gem revealing what he alone, in his generation, fully saw in the mind's eye, "the light which never shone on sea or shore." We have voted this scene at Benares the finest sight we have yet witnessed.

* * * * *

LUCKNOW, Tuesday, February 11.

We reached Lucknow at night. The moon was not yet shining, but the stars shed their peaceful halo around this spot, to which the eyes of the civilized world were so long directed during the dark days of the mutiny. At the hotel upon arrival a lady's voice was heard singing the universal refrain which nearest touches all English hearts in India and expresses the ever dominant longing, "Home, Sweet, Sweet Home."

There is no trace here of the massacres which have made this region memorable. But is the past to be repeated? Who can assure us that these bronzed figures which surround us by millions may not again in some mad moment catch the fever of revolt? This is the anxious question which I find intruding itself upon me every hour. Truly it is a dangerous game, this, to undertake the permanent subjection of a conquered race; and I do not believe that after General Grant sees India he will regret that the foolish Santo Domingo craze passed away. If America can learn one lesson from England, it is the folly of conquest, where conquest involves the government of an alien race.

Our first visit was to the ruins of the Residency, where for six long months Sir Henry Lawrence and his devoted band were shut up and surrounded by fifty thousand armed rebels. The grounds, which I should say are about thirty acres in extent, were fortunately encompassed by an earthen rampart six feet in height. You need not be told of the heroic resistance of the two regiments of British soldiers and one of natives, nor of the famous rescue. Hour after hour, day after day, week after week, and month after month, the three hundred women and children, shut in a cellar under ground, watched and prayed for the sound of Have-lock's bugles, but it came not. Hope, wearied out at last, had almost given place to despair. Through the day the attacks of the infuriated mob could be seen and repelled, but who was to answer that when darkness fell the wall was not to be pierced at some weak point of the extended line? One officer in command of a critical point failing--not to do his duty, there was never a fear of that--but failing to judge correctly of what the occasion demanded, and the struggle was over. Death was the last of the fears of these poor women night after night as the days rolled slowly away. One night there was graver silence than usual in the room; all were despondent, and lay resigned to their seemingly impending fate. No rescue came, nor any tidings of relief. In the darkness one piercing scream was heard from the narrow window. A Highland nurse had clambered up to gaze through the bars and strain her ears once more. The cooling breeze of night blew in her face and wafted such music as she could not stay to hear. One spring to the ground, a clapping of hands above the head, and such a shriek as appalled her sisters who clustered round; but all she could say between the sobs was: "The slogan--the slogan!" But few knew what the slogan was. "Didna ye hear--didna ye hear?" cried the demented girl, and then listening one moment, that she might not be deceived, she muttered, "It's the Macgregors gathering, the grandest o' them a'," and fell senseless to the ground. Truly, my lassie, the "grandest o' them a'," for never came such strains before to mortal ears. And so Jessie of Lucknow takes her place in history as one of the finest themes for painter, dramatist, poet or historian henceforth and forever. I have been hesitating whether the next paragraph in my note-book should go down here or be omitted. Probably it would be in better taste if quietly ignored, but then it would be so finely natural if put in. Well, I shall be natural or nothing, and recount that I could not help rejoicing that Jessie was Scotch, and that Scotchmen first broke the rebels' lines and reached the fort, and that the bagpipes led the way. That's all. I feel better now that this is also set down.

Lucknow, so rich in historical associations, is poverty itself in genuine architectural attractions, magnificent as it appears at a distance. It is a modern capital. About a century ago a king of Oude, in a moment of caprice, I suppose, determined to remove his capital from Fyzabad to Lucknow. Palaces on a great scale were hastily erected of common bricks and covered with white plaster. These look very fine at a distance, but closer inspection reveals the sham, and one is provoked because his admiration has been unworthily excited. Several other kings followed and carried on this imposture, each building his palace and tomb in this untruthful way. What could we expect from kings content to lie in such tombs but lives of disgusting dissipation? A simple marble slab were surely better than these pretentious lies: anything so it be genuine. However, retribution came, and the dynasty is extinct, the present king living as a prisoner in Calcutta.

The bazaars of Lucknow are well worth seeing, with their native jewellers, brass-workers, and other artificers, working in spaces not more than six feet square. We begin to see persons and modes which remind us of scriptural expressions--the water-carrier with the goat-skin filled, "the hewers of wood and drawers of water," the latter usually working in gangs of five. An earthen incline is built, leading up to the top of the wall which surrounds the well; the well-rope passes over the shoulders of the drawers, and in marching down the incline they raise the bucket. We came to-day upon a lot of women grinding the coarse daahl. Two work at each mill, sitting opposite one another, pushing around the upper stone by means of upright handles fastened into it.

"And two women shall be grinding at the mill, and one shall be taken and the other left,"

saith the Scriptures of old, but our coming revised and corrected edition, I could not help hoping to-day, as I saw this picture for the first time, will note an error, or at least intimate a doubt of the correct translation of this passage; or, if not, the age may require some commentator "more powerful than the rest" to console us with the hope that while at the first call one was indeed left, there would be a second, yea, and a third, a seventh, and a seventy times seventh call, in one of which even she would participate.

We have been this afternoon among the tombs of heroes--Lawrence and Havelock, Banks and McNeil, Hodson and Arthur--men who fell in the days of the mutiny. Lawrence's tomb is most touching from its simplicity--a short record, no eulogy, only

"Here lies Henry Lawrence, Who tried to do his duty."

"I have tried to do my duty," he said, as he breathed his last, and this is all his tomb has to say of him; but isn't it enough?

One day in our drive we came upon our first elephant and our first camel camp, hundreds of the latter and nearly two hundred of the former being attached to the transportation department of the army. They are said to perform work which could never be done by other animals in this climate. Bullocks are the third class used as carriers; these are taught to trot, and do trot well. I remember one day in Ceylon one of them in a hackery gave us in the mail coach quite a spirited race for a short distance, but it was only to-day that I learned that camels are also so trained and used as mail or despatch bearers where speed is necessary, and the gait of a really good trained camel is said to be quite easy. If development goes forward in this line, our posterity may be using the camel in trotting matches with the horse. He would possess the advantage over that favorite animal which the Chinaman has over the European; he could go longer between drinks, and that counts for much.

The quarters for troops at Lucknow are models; the officers' quarters are surrounded and in some cases almost embowered by vines and flowers; lawn-tennis courts, cricket grounds, ball courts, and a gymnasium are provided for the private soldiers, and are finer than we have seen elsewhere, and serve to make Lucknow, with its beautiful gardens and long shady avenues, the one really pretty rural spot we have seen in India.

* * * * *

WEDNESDAY, February 12.

We are on our way to Agra by rail, and expect to arrive in time to drive out and see the Taj by moonlight. I have been reading more carefully than before some descriptions of it, and keep wondering whether this gem of the world is to prove a disappointment or not. Most things which have been heralded like the Taj fail to fulfil expectations at first, and how can stone and lime be so formed as to justify such fulsome praises as have been bestowed upon this tomb? One writer, for instance, exclaims, "There is no mystery, no sense of partial failure about the Taj. A thing of perfect beauty and of absolute finish in every detail, it might pass for the work of genii, who knew naught of the weakness and ills with which mankind were afflicted." The exact and prosaic Bernier had to express doubts whether "I may not be somewhat infected with 'Indianisme,' but I must needs say I believe it ought to be reckoned amongst the wonders of the world." Bayard Taylor exhausts eulogy upon the Pearl Mosque, calling it "a sanctuary so pure and stainless, revealing so exalted a spirit of worship, that I felt humbled as a Christian that our noble religion had never inspired its architects to surpass this temple to God and Mohammed;" but when he comes to the Taj itself he is lost in rapture. There is nothing, however, which the critics--those men who have failed in literature and art--will not venture to attack, and I thought it advisable to tone down my expectations by taking a dose of carping criticism. Unfortunately for me, however, when I had got fairly in with a writer who assures me "the design is weak and feeble," the "shadows are much too thin," this misleader left me in a worse condition than ever, for succumbing at last to the sweet overpowering charms of the structure as a whole, and apparently ashamed of himself for ever having dared to say one word against its perfections, he adds--just after he had bravely done the "design" and the "shadows"--"but the Taj is like a lovely woman: abuse her as you please, the moment you come into her presence you submit to her fascinations." Pretty criticism this for one who wishes the faults of this beauty clearly set forth! I put this lover of the Taj aside at once and try another writer, who does indeed give me a page of preventive, well suited to one in my condition, but upon turning over the page he too falls sadly away,


Round the World - 30/46

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