Chambers Edinburgh Journal, Volume XVII., No 423, New Series.

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Chambers' Edinburgh Journal
Volume XVII., No 423, New

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Title: Chambers' Edinburgh Journal Volume XVII., No 423, New
Series. February 7th, 1852
Author: Various
Editor: William Chambers and Robert Chambers
Release Date: March 27, 2005 [EBook #15481]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by Malcolm Farmer, Richard J. Schiffer and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team.


1-1/2 _d._

Three years ago, I received orders to proceed from Kurâchee to Roree
by the river route, for the purpose of joining the siege-train then
assembling for the reduction of Mooltan. Subsequent events caused my
final destination to be changed to Sukkur. Although my journey was
thus not so long as I had both expected and wished, yet I had an
opportunity of seeing some three or four hundred miles of a river that
the records of the past, and the anticipations of the future, alike
combine to render interesting, and which in itself differs in many
respects from the other rivers of India. My position in life--that of a
non-commissioned officer of the ordnance department--has prevented
me from gleaning information on the subject, either from books or
official sources; but it may be that a narration of what I merely _saw_,
will not prove altogether without interest for those who must run while
they read--who have neither time, nor perhaps inclination, to acquire
any more than a superficial knowledge of distant countries.
Having been provided with a passage in one of the steamers of the
Indus flotilla, and informed that the vessel was to start at daybreak on
the following morning, I hastened to procure the necessary documents
to authorise my obtaining ten days' sea-rations from the commissariat
department. The following was the proportion of food for each day, and
I may remark, that I received it from government gratis, with the
exception of the spirits, as I was proceeding on field-service:--1 lb. of
biscuits, 1 lb. of salt beef or pork, 1-4th of 1 lb. of rice, 1 oz. and 2-7ths
of sugar, 5-7ths of 1 oz. of tea, and 2 drams, or about 1-4th of a bottle
of arrack, 24 degrees under proof. Having secured the provant, my
mind was now perfectly at ease, and I leisurely set about completing
my arrangements for the voyage. These consisted mainly in locking my
only box, and tying up in a cotton quilt a blanket and the thick sheet of
goat's-hair-felt that served me for a bed. It was dark before I left camp;
and as I was detained a considerable time at the bunder or
landing-place, waiting for a boat to take me off to the steamer, it was
late in the night when I got on board.

The steam-boat was about the size of the largest of those that ply above
bridge on the Thames. When I had scrambled on deck, I found that the
forepart of the vessel was crowded with the bodies of natives, every
one of whom was testifying the soundness of his repose by notes both
loud and deep. Having selected the only spot where there was room
even to sit down, I began, in a somewhat high key, to warble a lively
strain calculated to cheer the drooping spirits of such of my neighbours
as had that evening undergone the pang of parting from their friends.
This proceeding soon had the effect of drawing all eyes upon me, and,
indeed, not a few of the tongues also; for the now thoroughly awakened
sleepers--with great want of taste--growled out, at the expense both of
myself and of my performance, sundry maledictions, with a fervency
peculiar to the country, until at length I may say I was clad with curses
as with a garment. At this juncture, I took out of my provision-bag a
remarkably fine piece of pork, and began to contemplate it by the light
of the moon with the critical eye of a connoisseur. The reader is no
doubt aware, that among the natives of India the popular prejudice does
not run in favour of this wholesome article of food; and perhaps to this
fact I must attribute it that the surrounding Mussulmans and Hindoos
became wondrously polite all on a sudden, and left a wide
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