Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

- When I came to the spot, I found the victim, who appeared to be above 16, sitting on the ground, dressed in the Gentoo manner, with a white cloth wrapped round her, some white flowers like jessamines hanging round her neck, and some of them hanging from her hair. There were about 20 women sitting on their hams round her, holding a white bandkerchief, extended horizontally over her head, to shade her from the sun, which was excessively hot, it being then about noon.

• At about 20 yards from where she was sitting, and facing her, there were several Bramins busy in constructing a pile with billets of firewood: the pile was about eight feet long, and four broad. They first began by driving some upright stakes into the ground, and then built up the middle to about the height of three feet and a half with billets of wood.

• The dead husband, who, from his appearance, seemed to be about 60 years of age, was lying close by, stretched out on a bier, made of bamboo canes. Four Bramins walked in procession three times round the dead body, first in a direction contrary to the sun, and afterwards other three times in a direction with the sun, all the while muttering incantations; and at each round or circuit they made, they untwisted, and immediately again twisted up the small long lock of hair which is left unshaven at the back of their heads.

• Some other Bramins were in the mean time employed in sprinkling water out of a green leaf, rolled up like a cup, upon a small heap of cakes of dry cow-dung, with which the pile was afterwards to be set on fire.

• An old Bramin sat at the north-east corner of the pile upon his hams, with a pair of spectacles on, reading, I suppose, the shaster, or their scriptures, from a book composed of cajan leaves.

• Having been present now nearly an hour, I inquired when they meant to set the pile on fire: they answered, in about two hours. As this spectacle was most melancholy, and naturally struck me with horror, and as I had only gone there to assure myself of the truth of such sacrifices being made, I went away towards the fort. After I was gone about

500 yards, they sent some one to tell me they would burn immediately; on which I returned, and found the woman had been moved from where she was sitting to the river, where the Bramins were bathing her. On taking her out of the water, they put some money in her hand, which she dipped in the river, and divided among the Bramins : she had then a yellow cloth rolled partially round her. They put some red colour, about the size of a sixpence, on the centre of her forehead, and rubbed something that appeared to me to be clay. She was then led to the pile, round which she walked three times as the sun goes: she then mounted it at the north-east corner, without any assistance; and sat herself down on the right side of her husband, who had been previously laid upon the pile. She then unscrewed the pins which fastened the jewels or silver rings on her arms: after she had taken them off, she shut them, and screwed in the pins again, and gave one to each of two women who were standing: she unscrewed her ear-rings, and other toys, with great composure, and divided them among the women who were with her. There seemed to be some little squabble about the distribution of her jewels, which she settled with great precision; and then, falling gently backwards, pulled a fold of the yellow cloth over her face, turned her breast towards her husband's side, and laid her right arm over her breast; and in this posture she remained without moving.

• Just before she lay down, the Bramins put some rice in her lap, and also some into the mouth and on the long gray beard of her husband: they then sprinkled some water on the head, breast, and feet of both, and tied them gently together round the middle with a slender bit of rope: they then raised, as it were, a little wall of wood lengthways on two sides of the pile, so as to raise it above the level of the bodies; and then put cross pieces, so as to prevent the billets of wood from pressing on them : they then poured on the pile, above where the woman lay, a potful of something that appeared to me to be oil; after this they heaped more wood, to the height of about four feet above where the bodies were built in; so that all I now saw wa stack of firewood.

In a very

One of the Bramins, I observed, stood at the end of the pile next the woman's head--- was calling to her through the interstices of the wood, and laughed several times during the conversation. Lastly they overspread the pile with wet straw, and tied it on with ropes.

• A Bramin then took a handful of straw, which he set on fire at the little heap of burning cakes of cow-dung; and, standing to windward of the pile, he let the wind drive the flame from the straw till it catched the pile. Fortunately, at this instant, the wind rose much higher than it had been any part of the day; and in an instant the flames pervaded the whole pile, and it burnt with great fury. I listened a few seconds, but could not distinguish any shrieks, which might perhaps be owing to my being then to windward. few minutes, the pile became a heap of ashes.

• During the whole time of this process, which lasted from first to last above two hours before we lost sight of the woman by her being built up in the middle of the pile, I kept my eyes almost constantly upon her; and I declare to God that I could not perceive, either in her countenance or limbs, the least trace of either horror, fear, or even hesitation : her countenance was perfectly composed and placid; and she was not, I am positive, either intoxicated or stupified. From several circumstances, I thought the Bramins exulted in this bellish sacrifice, and did not seem at all displeased that Europeans should be witnesses of it.'

At Negapatnam our traveller was obliged to embark for Madras, the communication by land being interrupted by the enemy's troops. It might be supposed that adventure was at an end, but it fell out otherwise ; for, as he approached Madras, he was taken by a French frigate! This appeared to be the greatest misfortune he had yet met with : for, as the chief officers in India had differed on an exchange of prisoners, the French had just delivered 300 up to Tippoo, and their fate was such as would harrow up the soul to relate. Campbell knew his fate could the tyrant only get him within his power. Fortune, however, again was favourable, and snatched him from the jaws of destruction. • Having struck our colours,

says he, ó to the French frizze, tbe ceptas ordered us to follow her, and scared to the parthward We obeyed him for some time: at length mch: fek; ad, a fresh and favourable breeze fortunate's a diag the attempt, we put about, ran for Madras, and lace drops anchor sale in the roads. In the escapes I had hitberto bed, there was always some disagreeable circumstance to alor the pieasure arising from them--- In this instance, my jor was pure and unqualibed ; and I looked forward with a reasonable bope that the worst was all over.'

From Madras he sailed immediaies to Calcutta, where he entered into a negociation with Mr. Hastings, on behalf of Hyat Sahib. Considering himseif in a degree pledged to obtain him satisfaction for the surrender of Bidanore, he determined to proceed to Bembay. But the chagrin he felt at his disappointments threw him into a fit of sickness, which confined him to bis bed for six weeks. After staying some time at Bombay, he visited Surat, and thus travelled more than 3,000 miles in India, besides his sea voyages. Feeling a curiosity to see China, he sailed to Canton. At this place he embarked on board the Ponsborne East-Indiaman, and, after a tolerable voyage of five months and two days, got on board a fishing-boat off Falmouth, and was put on shore there, having been exactly four years and five days from England.

TRAVELS

IN

· GREECE AND TURKEY,

BY

C. S. SONNINI.

THIS valuable work was published in England in 1801.

The author is a learned Frenchman, who spent two years in Greece, and whose warm and brilliant imagination, and variety of description, and indignation against tyranny, have combined to render him a favourite with the public.

He first visited Cyprus, which we noticed in the preceding journey, and then Egypt. From Alexandria he sailed for the island of Candia, but the westerly wind,' says he, drove us out of our course, although it was not yet very violent, nor the sea very high. Our little vessel which sailed rather ill, did not work much better; and from my conversations with the captain, I had no reason to conceive a high idea of his skill in navigation. He related to me, for instance, as a very simple event, that the preceding year he had lost, on the coast of Sicily, the vessel, which he then commanded, because, having made a mistake in his reckoning, he thought himself far from the land, at the very moment when she was cast away on it. But his features changed, his voice faultered, and big tears, long-restrained, fell from his eyes, and trickled

« ForrigeFortsæt »