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providence in affording it in such spontaneous abundance to the inhabitants of tropical regions. Our supercargo having some acquaintance with major D. an officer who is at present stationed in fort William, we all received an invitation, a few days since, to dine in the fort. We accordingly repaired thither in our palanquins, with our retinue of servants, about seven o'clock in the evening, and were politely received and entertained by the major and his friends. The company consisted chiefly of army and naval officers, in full dress, whose uniform, especially the scarlet coats of the former, made a very gay appearance.
The dinner was superbly served up in the style of this country; and although I had anticipated an evening of stiff and irksome formality, I was most agreeably disappointed. As every one takes his waiter with him, when he goes out to dine, there was, of course, no deficiency of attendants; on the contrary, there was an almost continual scramble among the servants to obtain the favourite dishes for their respective masters. Over the table, there was suspended from the ceiling, a large and elegant punkah, or fan, which a servant kept in constant motion by means of a cord attached to it, swinging it to and fro over our heads, and thereby creating a cool and refreshing breeze during the entertainment. This is, indeed, a luxury which is to be met with in every house here; and can only be duly appreciated by those who have experienced the oppressive heat of such a climate. As soon as dinner was over, the several hookah bearers, belonging to the gentlemen present, who used those curious machines in smoking, commenced their operations. Each one spread a small carpet on the floor, behind his master, on which he placed the hookah, ready charged with aromatic ingredients; and having ignited these, presented him with the end of the long flexible tube, called the snake, through which the fragrant fumes were inhaled. This apparatus is so contrived, that the smoke is to be drawn through water, which renders it quite cool; but at the same time, occasions considerable exertion to the smokers, and ! when they all got fairly to work, kept up a continual gurgling noise around the table. It is the exclusive business of one servant to take charge of the hookah, and to carry it about, and have it ready for use wherever his master goes to dine.
After smoking for some time, and drinking round to each others health (a custom which is here carried to a punctilious extreme), the company began gradually to withdraw. Not the least ceremony is seen on retiring from those parties. Every one is per. fectly at his ease while he stays, and withdraws whenever it suits him--frequently unobserved by the rest of the company.
In my rambles to see the various curiosities of this place, I called the other evening at a pagoda, or temple, in the suburbs of the city, where a number of Gentoos were assembled to worship their idols. These are tawdry, ill-favoured images of the human form, which are placed in small chambers, or recesses, in different parts of the pagoda; and are guarded with great care by the priests, or
Braminee cast, as they are termed. They would on no account let me pass the threshold of the apartments in which the images were, but very politely permitted me to look in; and those who stood at the entrance, presented me with some elegant bouquets, and placed garlands of flowers round my neck, for all which civilities, they did not hesitate to ask a bukshish for their gods; a very modest, convenient, and obvious mode of raising a little revenue for themselves; and seems to have occurred to the craft in all ages and nations, where such privileged orders have existed.
Short as has been my residence here, the scenery around me is becoming quite familiar; and I am astonished when I reflect on the facility with which the mind can accommodate itself to the contemplation of the most degrading exhibitions of human wretchedness. Although I was shocked beyond measure when I first beheld human beings used as beasts of burthen, yet I find the general prevalence of the thing has almost obliterated the disagreeable impressions; and I can even call to my grunting bearers to quicken their pace, when I am in a hurry. So powerful is the influence of custom! I am, however, becoming sated with indulgencies so uncongenial with my early habits; and am anxious to mingle again with the freemen of my native land. The streets of this city are considerably infested with native beggars, who never think of soliciting alms from their own countrymen,--but are quite a pest to strangers. Sometimes a cripple is mounted on the shoulders of a blind man, and thus a very convenient co-partnership is formed for the purpose of travelling. I have heard them occasionally uttering a long vociferous story in their own language, and thought at first, they were some kind of fanatic preachers. They will frequently pursue a white man for whole squares, making the most piteous grimaces, and are repelled with great difficulty. I hoped to get rid of one old woman, who haunted me like an evil genius, in all my excursions, by giving her some small coin; but I soon found my mistake-for it stimulated her to redouble her importunities whenever she saw me. The hideous disease of elephantiasis is not unfrequent here; and the deplorable subjects of it are generally seated at the corners of the streets, where they expose their diseased legs in order to excite the charity of those who pass by. We are also daily pestered with jugglers, and snake players, who wish to exhibit their slight of hand tricks, and the docility of their snakes. The snake players take their stand in front of the factory, with their serpents in covered baskets; and whenever they perceive any of us, are continually bawling out, ' very pretty snake play, sauheb
see how fine.' Those serpents are taught to perfurın certain motions imitative of dancing, which they do to the music of the tuitum. They are said to be of a venomous kind, (the cobra di capello,) but their poisonous fangs are extracted. Their owners will sometimes irritate them, and suffer themselves to be bitten by those animals on the arms, or wherever else they can get hold. I have seen the snake players grasp the snake by the middle, hold it up before his face, and put out his tongue, when the irritated creature would seize his tongue, and hold on while the man pushed it from him, and thereby stretched his tongue out of his mouth to the utmost. No inconvenience seems to follow, except the slight wounds inflicted by the serpent's teeth. For these disgusting exhibitions the snake player of course demands his bukshish; and is well satisfied to receive a few pise, the smallest copper coin used here.
In my visits to the ship, I often witness a spectacle which is quite familiar to the residents of this place; but at which the feel. ings of a stranger cannot fail to revolt. Some of the casts dispose of their dead by burning the bodies: but a very numerous one, called the pyar, or paria cast, throw all their dead into the Hooghly, where they continue to float with the tide until they are finally devoured by fish, or by the vultures and crows, Those birds may be seen in numbers, perched on the carcases of men and women, and tugging away at the decomposing masses as they glide by with the ebb and flow of the river. Sometimes those bodies get athwart the cables of the ships, at their moorings, when the tide begins to ebb, and are balanced so accurately, that they may be seen hanging entirely out of water, when the tide is down.
I occasionally amuse myself in conversation with some of the more intelligent natives, by attempting
to show the absurdity of many of their practices and opinions. They always listen to me with great attention and politeness-though with a marked expression of incredulity in their countenances; and have one uniform, conclusive answer to every thing I can urge-which is, our custom. It is enough for them, to know what they do is sanctioned by immemorial usage; and they seek no better reason. In their religious dispositions and opinions, the Gentoos are mild, tolerant, and liberal towards others, but as immovably fixed, to all appearance, as our own Alleghany mountains. With such a people, you will naturally conclude, and I think correctly, that the labours of the missionary must, for a long time at least, be both arduous and discouraging.—But I must bring my tedious and heterogeneous epistle to a close. My disposition to be communicative, I hope contributes to your entertainment: at any rate, it affords me frequent opportunities of assuring you how sincerely, I am, &c.
Art. III.-Gessner and his Works. (Continued.) HAVING now attained celebrity in the world, by his perform.
ances, Gessner deterinined upon writing another work, which should command a higher and more sublime character; a character if possible of immortality. This poem The Death of Abel, has been translated into English by Mrs. Collyyer, and is familiar to many of our readers.
It is impossible, however, that any just and adequate conceptions, can be formed of this admirable work from the perusal of that translation, which is remarkable only for its inflated jargon, feebleness and bad grammar.
The Death of Abel, like the Messiah of Klopstock, stands by itself. The subject of Gessner's poem presents a picture singularly eventful to the world. It is drawn from the Bible; and the moral of the poem, inculcates the terrible evil of domestic contentions; the influence of religion in every situation; the misery and wretchedness of vice; and the sublimity and excellence of virtue. It is written in harmonious prose, instead of verse; and is divided into five books. The poem commences with an apostrophe to the muse of poetry, which though general custom has sanctioned, does not seem materially necessary. Hence Lucan has rejected it, with sin. gular propriety, in the Pharsalia. The invocation to the Death of Abel is eminently beautiful. The narrative opens with the following interesting description.
• The silent hours led on the blushing morn, and sprinkled with dewy tears the shadowy earth. The glorious sun poured forth his radiant beams along the shades of the dark towering cedars of the hills, and tinged with crimson light the massy clouds that floated mournfully on the yet twilight heavens; when Abel and his beloved Thirza arose from their mossy couch, and wandered to the bower of roses and jassamin. Innocence and love beamed with celestial brightness in the soft blue eye of Thirza, and mantled in beauty on her cheeks ot bloom. Her fair long hair flowed wantonly over her youth ful bosom, or playing in luxuriant circles, descended to her delicate waist. She passed by the side of Abel, whose brown locks clustered in brightness over his liberal forehead; deep thought and meditation were blended in that countenance of heavenly sweetness; he moved with the majesty of an angel of Light, commissioned by the dread Supreme to sooth the last and fearful moments of some ex. piring saint;—the garments of mortality enshroud him, but cannot conceal the effulgent glory, that beams from the form seraphic it veils.'--Gess. Works, vol. i. p. 4.
Their morning oraisons are offered to heaven in a recitative hymn by Abel. Adam and Eve soon after join them, accompanied by Mahala, the wife of Cain. Concealed in the recesses of a rock, Cain listens to the praises of Abel and Thirza imparted by their parents; filled with rage, he bursts into a wild and passionate soliloquy, which is overheard in the bower. Abel pursues his brother to the field and expostulates with him. The dialogue which ensues on their return, between Adam and Cain; the affectionate remonstrances; the exhortations; the cold blooded and yet remorseful nature of the replies, together with the apparent repentance and reconciliation of the several parties, are inimitably fine, and admira. bly imagined and executed.
The second book opens with the discourse of Adam on the advantages and prerogatives of virtue. Induced by the solicitations of Abel, he narrates the remarkable story of their lives after their expulsion from Paradise; the horrors of the curse were already upon .
them; he unfolds the awful vicissitudes to which they had been exposed,--the fearful looking for of death and indignation; the desolations of earth; the destructiveness of amity among the fowls of heaven and the beasts of the field; the resignation and contrition of Adam and Eve. Their terrible alarms at the first exhibition of the warring of the elements, is beautifully illustrated and portrayed.
• Our tranquillity was soon destroyed. Black and mountainous clouds, rising in slow succession gradually and awfully overspread the firmament of heaven; and veiled the setting sun. The spirits of darkness brooded over the earth; universal nature seemed to await in unutterable, silent horror the dreadful approaches of the storm. Soon the tempest burst. The blast of the hurricane roared among the mountains and raged terribly in the forests; the lightnings Aashed along the black clouds, and the thunder burst in tremendous peals. Eve pale with agony and fear, sunk trembling in my arms. He comes--the Avenger comes, she exclaimed-armed with all his terrors! He comes to annihilate and overwhelm! to destroy all nature, in vengeance of my crimes. Oh Adam! Adam!-She clung to me with convulsive and supernatural strength, and remained speechless on my bosom!-Recollect thyself, my beloved, I exclaimed, let us prostrate ourselves, at the entering in of the grotto; let us pray, Eve, to that mighty Being, who walketh in darkness, whose thunders proclaim his power;—whose lightnings mark his path!-Oh! Thou, who lookedst down with such benignity, when first I stood completed by thine Almighty power—how dreadful! how awful art thou, when thou comest in judgment!
(Gess. v. i. p. 32. The narrative in continuance, displays the happiness which they were permitted to participate; their labours and occupations; their terrors and emotions in the contemplation of the first presentation of death; their devotions, and the building of the first habitations; the awful and magnificent prophecy in relation to that Being who should bruise the head of the serpent. "Their surprise on the changes of the seasons; the births of Cain and Mahala—Abel and Thirza, and concludes, with reflections naturally excited, by memory and anticipation.
The third book, contains the meditations of Cain and Mahala on the history of the fall, as related by Adam, and its consequences. The introduction of Anamalech, an inferior infernal spirit, who had been commissioned to watch over and excite the malignant and contending passions which rage in the bosom of Cain; and his plans to execute these impious designs. The sickness of Adam and his views of futurity: the emotions and forebodings, supposed, consequently attendant on death. The prayers of Abel for his father's recovery; the gratitude and thanksgivings of Adam, on his restoration to health; the sacrifices of Cain and Abel; the acceptableness of the one and the rejection of the other. The book concludes, with the awful denunciations of Heaven against Cain, and exhortations to repentance; the terribleness of his agony, re