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my bonnet, and get my death of cold set
From Temple Bar. ting all the young people agoing. No,
INDIAN SOCIETY. Do, I told him that. I said to him, you may put out the chairs, but if you think When looking at any view in India, one Barbara Erskine and me, and other sen. is particularly struck by the vast extent sible women, are going to sit there in a of the country spread out before the May day and get back all our winter eye, whether the contemplated scene lie rheumatism, you are mistaken, Sir James. amongst the hills or plains. There is But now, where is the general? Nora, such ample space, such entire absence of you must just go and look for him, and all crowding in either case, and moreover say I'm surprised that he should neglect an atmosphere so clear and fine, that comhis duty: When I yielded to this kind of paratively small objects may be seen disparty, which is not my notion of pleasure, tinctly at great distances, and things stand I told him plainly be must take the lawn forward with a well-defined outline which part of it upon his own hands.”
attracts the beholder's eye, and obliges ' And where's my nephew John ? " said him, whether he care about it or no, to be Miss Barbara Erskine, who sat in one of conscious of their existence. the seats of honor, within pleasant reach These remarks apply also to Indian of a bright fire. “Nora, when you look society - a very curious and unique comfor Sir James, you'll look for him too. pound, capable of being easily resolved I'm affronted, tell him, that he was not into its component parts and put together the first to find me out."
again in slightly altered form, with all the “I hear Mr. Erskine is a great friend precision and simplicity of a Chinese puzof the Lindores,” said Mrs. Sempill. zle when one knows the relation of one “Having no son at home, I have not had piece to another. it in my power, Miss Barbara, to show Thus, given the population and charachim any attention, but I hoped to make ter of a native town in the Punjab, to bis acquaintance to-day. They tell me he which an English station is attached, knew the Lindores well in their former where the civil element alone is repre. circumstances. That is, no doubt, a fine sented, and that by a deputy commisintroduction for him to the county.” sioner, there is but little imagination
“If an Erskine of Dalrulzian wanted needed to portray the daily life of the staany introduction,” said Miss Barbara, “it tion. There will be one or more assiswould be a very ill one, in my opinion. tant commissioners of the " covenanted” For there are as many that think ill of branch of the civil service, military offithem as there are that think well of them, cers of the civil department of the Staff and they're not our kind of people. But Corps; a police officer and a doctor ; and John Erskine wants nobody to introduce if the station be an important one, you him, I hope. His father's son, and my will add an engineer, and an English father's great-grandson, should have well- assistant commissioner belonging to the wishers enough.”
uncovenanted” or inferior branch of the “And a well-looking, well-spoken young civil service, and known by the euphonic man. He minds me of your uncle Walter, designation of extra assistant commisthe one that went abroad," said old Mrs. sioner. That gives you from four to six Methven of the Broomlees. She was men, and out of these it is pretty sure older than Miss Barbara, older than the that three will be married, and equally imagination could conceive. Her mem- certain that the wife of one of them will ory slipped all the recent generation, and be in England ; total European populawent back to heights of antiquity un- tion of Janjlabad, from six to nine. You known. Miss Barbara Erskine was still also know that these good people will dea young person to this old lady, and Sir vote many evenings of the week to the James a frisky young soldier. “Walter delights of Badminton; that the ladies Erskine was the first person I ever saw will be dear friends or bitter foes, for that wore his own hair without so much slight acquaintance and polite indifference as a ribbon. It had a terrible naked are impossible between English women in look, but you soon got used to it. This India, when they are shut up together in one is like him. But you'll scarcely mind a tiny station. The men, of course, will him. He was young when he left the each want to talk in his own particular county. I cannot remember if you were “shop” when they are together, but, beborn.”
longing all to the same branch of the ser“He's like his father, which is not so vice, with clearly defined positions and far back," Miss Barbara said.
duties, and a well-marked official grade,
will probably work well together and betion of facts concerning all the other memexcellent friends. Men get on better than bers of his own service. If a military women do in these out-of-the-way places, man, he has the Army List by heart; can on account of having so much business to tell you where any regiment has been stawhich their days must be devoted. A tioned at any given date for the last twenty lady has not very much to do in her house years at least; when Jones of the if she have learnt the happy art of man- got his last step; when Smith of the aging her servants, and her children are -th may look for promotion ; and ex
| ; still too young to need teaching. Books presses himself so strongly as to the pro. are expensive, working materials must be priety of old Brown's retiring, that you had out from home; and it is not every are surprised to find these men are not one who has sufficient energy and persé- his most intimate associates, but are, verance to master enough of the language many of them, personally unknown to to make her a useful visitor to native him. The old civilian is just the same,
and knows exactly where every other Hence gossip finds itself at home and civilian in his own province has ever been in a kindly soil, and blooms and flourishes stationed, and when he came out; when in Indian society, ripening not unfre. the inexorable "fifty-five years' rule”? quently its bitter fruits, until the casual will drive home his superiors; and who observer runs the chance of never finding is likely to get the next “ good thing out the undergrowth of better things that falls vacant. The ladies, needless to which is hidden by its flaunting leaves. tell, are as well informed on these matters But gossip wants a large amount of nour- as their husbands, and quite as ready to ishment to keep it going, and from this discuss them, so that to all these good arises another peculiarity of Indian soci- people the arrival of a new face, not to be ety, and that is, its extreme inquisitive in any way accounted for in their scheme
You are passing perhaps through a of society, is as perplexing and interestlarge station, and some friend there kindly ing as a new specimen to the botanist, asks you to break your long journey by a and must be pulled to pieces and anxfew days' visit at his house. Some of his iously dissected, in order that it may be neighbors come to dine; but, as the place classified and fitted into its proper place is large, he has not mentioned who you in the collection. are to any but the few friends who will be I said that the character of Indian interested in meeting you, so you find scenery is rather like that of Indian yourself a little stared at during dinner, society, and it is so in this way: that and liable, whenever you take a look at English people being comparatively few, the guests, to catch some inquiring gaze are seen there with more prominent disriveted upon your unknown features. By- tinctness than they are at home. Instead and-by when, following the frequent cus- of squares, and terraces, and rows of tom in India, ladies and gentlemen return houses, you have in India detached buildtogether to the drawing-room in the same ings, each standing in its own ground or order in which they left it, an inquisitive compound. You can, if you are so inguest who has not been introduced to you, clined, walk round each house and take seizes his opportunity, and dropping into note of every side of it; and it is much the chair beside you, asks, without pre- the same with people. Each has his face,
definite post, you know exactly what that “ Have you been here long ?”
post is, the amount of importance to which “Since yesterday.”
it entitles him, the character of his work, " Ab!
-oh! - ah! where did you and the income he receives for doing it; come from?”
and you know also, and not unfrequently You gasp, naturally, with something of mention to your friends, the exact amount the same sensation as though you had in- of that income which you consider him advertently pulled the string of a shower-justified in spending on stable or table, bath, and felt the dash of cold water on or on his wife's costume. He stands, as your face, and you are half inclined to re- it were, a little removed from all his neighsent the impertinence ;- but none was in. bors, on a small raised platform of liis tended. The inquirer is probably an old own, where his friends can note his good Indian who thinks it due to himself to or ill qualities, his every little weakness, know all about everybody. Like an ardent and where also he has room to develop botanist who carefully preserves and clas. his own idiosyncrasies to any extent he sifies the plants he meets with, the old pleases. Like an isolated tree, he is free Indian has in his mind a complete collec- I to shoot his branches in whatsoever direc
tion be will, but should those branches useful visitors to many a poor brown wom. twist, crook, or grow unhealthy, or should ; an shut up all her life in a dull zenana they spring from one side only of the tree, with bardly anything to occupy her mind no friendly screen is interposed to hide or time; or, if unable to make personal the deformity from gazing eyes.
visits to these native homes, an EnglishYou get thus in India a much clearer woman of sufficient ability may bestow an knowledge of your neighbors than is at inestimable boon upon the inmates by all possible or desirable at home: and translating into their language such book's knowing so much about them has some as they would be likely to read with intertimes the sad effect of making people wish est, or by writing original tales and verses to know still more, and of leading them to for their perusal. A large field of work talk of what they think may, or ought to lies too among the families of soldiers, of be the case, and so, many amusing sto- poor English clerks, and those of the unries begun in no unkindly spirit get circu- happy Eurasians who seem to belong to lated about a station, unconsciously ex. neither of the races from which they aggerated as they pass from lip to lip, spring, while inheriting the weaknesses uniil at last they have developed into of both. Children to be taught and something positively cruel. It is wonder- clothed, women be cheered and ful what mischief may be done by “idle " strengthened by a word of sympathy, and tongues and minds, that look for novelty struggling poverty to be relieved, may all and amusement, with no thought of the be found by those who seek them, besides harm their reckless chattering may do the thousand and one good offices towards Of course it is very nice to have some her own associates in which the Anglotbing fresh to talk about to the set of Indian is never wanting. The drawback people whom you meet day after day at to these employments is the short time Badminton, and night after night at ball which most people spend in one place. or dinner-party, for months together, and in India nobody is really “at home; piquant little anecdotes of your acquaint- even if the husband have a settled post ances in the early stage before the sting which keeps him in the plains, the wife of the story has grown, are so extremely and children must enjoy, if possible, the funny that you feel as though you must coolness of the hills in summer, and so repeat them to the next person you meet, the family oscillates perpetually between and so the propensity to gossip once in the two. Military men and civilians are dulged grows hard to check, and fastens alike liable to be moved on short notice, itself upon one almost insensibly.
and neither of them when he goes on It is most unfair to fancy, as so many leave to England, knows where he will be people do, that because a woman's lot is stationed on his return, and thus the cast in India, she must necessarily lead a years of service spent in this distant gossiping, frivolous existence: many country are indeed a pilgrimage. This women certainly do so, but would they certainty of a speedy removal is a great have done any better in England ? Of hindrance to beginning work which one course in India there is not the same va. cannot hope to carry on for more than a riety of interests and occupations as there short time; it seems hardly worth while is at home: the climate undoubtedly les- to take things up and have to leave them sens one's energy, decreases those pow- presently; but if the work became more ers of physical exercise which help to general, such an objection would be very keep boil miod and body sound, and com. much weakened, because there would pels one to pass many hours of the day then be the reasonable hope that your indoors; but those who will lead useful successor would be able and willing to lives, do lead them in India as elsewhere, carry on that which you had begun. and healthful occupation during the time In these days when the ceniral Asian of enforced quiet is the best preparation question is brought so prominently forfor that spent in society, the true preserv. ward, the study of Indian history, and the ative against gossip, and the means by relations of our empire to other Eastern wbich the amusements of afternoon and countries, become doubly attractive, and evening may be made innocent relaxation absolutely necessary to those who desire and refreshment instead of dissipation. to take an intelligent interest in affairs It is a pity that ladies who are conversant there : while the many races over whom with some of the languages of Continental we rule, their past, present and future Europe, do not more frequently apply well-beings; with their differing characthemselves to the real study of Hindo- ters, religions, industries, costuines, and stani. They might then be acceptable and customs; the wondrous architectural re
mains scattered throughout India, its culmination, and that with a tact and proproducts, scenery and natural history, offer priety so perfect that no breath of scanwide fields of research to those who care dal has murmured any hint of a husband's to tread them.
disapproval, and even the most censori. So much for the antidotes to gossip; ous are obliged to allow that after all it is let us look now at some of its results. only “Mrs. Biffins's way." Perhaps a young bride comes out know- People tell you that the real “old In. ing nothing of Indian life, and very little dian is dying out, that his death-blow beyond that of an English schoolroom. was struck with the cessation of the ComShe may be the wife of an assistant com- pany's rule, and certainly the race of thin, missioner in a large station where there parchmenty, curry-eating, hookah-smokare cantonments, who is busy all day long ing men, with half-caste wives, and “Chee in his Katcherry, and feels more disposed chee" families reared in India, and speakfor rest and quiet when office hours are ing English with an impure pronunciaover, than for gaieties. The bride has tion, and three lakhs of rupees of debt, not very much to occupy her time; from is alınost extinct; but the real cause of twelve to two, the orthodox hours for his disappearance is simply the improved calling, she has plenty of visitors to en- facilities of communication with England, tertain. She is bright and attractive, ac- and the establishment of hill sanitaria. customed to brothers at home, and wel. The lady who will spend a whole morning comes gladly some young officer who has in her verandah, turning over the conalso a superabundance of leisure, and tents of every bundle in a box-wallah's proves to have been at school with some pack, and then dismiss the unfortunate of her brothers. It seems a pity Mrs. trader without buying anything of him, Smith should go for a quiet walk or drive or making the least return for the many with her husband evening after evening, hours she has wasted for him, is indeed when everybody else is at Badminton and still to be met with, but not so frequently she would enjoy a game. Will she let as of yore. Ladies on a march can get her visitor escort her to a Badminton supplies of food, and even tinned English party to-morrow? or, the days are cooler provisions at dak bungalows, and need now, may be come and take her for a ride not now to emulate their valiant countryat an earlier hour than her husband can woman, who, on being told by the headleave work? Mr. Smith is glad she man that there were positively no eggs, should be amused, and is glad to be let no chicken, and no milk in his village, off from parties himself, and so, day after drew from her pocket a newly invented day, some other man escorts his wife, un lucifer-match-box, and suddenly striking til the unfortunate couple suddenly find a light, and holding it to the nose of the that station gossip is aroused about them. astonished native, commanded him to Mrs. Smith is stigmatized as an inveterate produce instantly all that she required. Airt, and kind-hearted apologists, while The head-man, concluding that such an they admit the fact, declare it to be all effect could have been produced only by a the fault of Mr. Smith, “who evidently very powerful evil spirit, hurried off in cares nothing for his wife, never goes out much alarm, and eggs, chicken, milk, with her, and lets her always be about grain, fruit, and vegetables, poured in upon with that young Jones.”
the imperious lady. These things belong To sensitive people, who, unwarned by more or less to the past, but there are a few any friendly hint, find they have uninten- traits of the “old Indian ” character that tionally given rise to such remarks, the linger still. Witness the almost daily arpain is great; but to others tougher- rival of a folded paper, with a long list of natured – it will sometimes prove a stim- names on its outer cover, headed with, ulus to fresh flirtations. There are hus. “ Please write soon.
almost bands who take a pride in all the atten- invariably contains a list of things to be tions which their wives receive, and mar- sold: furniture, crockery, carriages, harried woman who prefer to be seen inces-ness, clothes, etc.; but I must do the pres. santly with an aide-de-camp to going out ent race of Anglo-Indians the justice to with their husbands; whose “door is say that it is their superfluous new, and shut” to lady visitors, while they are not their old garments, with which they gaily chattering with more congenial ad. wish to part, and this again is one of the mirers; but it is not the very young many windows through which you overbrides who offend in this way. It re- look your neighbor's dwelling. By seequires some years of experience to have ing the prices affixed to the various arbrought the art of flirting to this happy | ticles for sale, you gain an excellent idea
of the rate at which the seller is in the ings with the So-and-Sos — they are such habit of spending upon those articles, and good paymasters," as though prompt payif you have only been long enough in In- ment of debts were the exception, not the dia to appreciate this advantage, you have rule, in India. And money does not go the greatest pleasure in shaking your so far there as it does at home. You may head over the extravagance of “poor So- give less wages to your servants, but you and-So, who had bought a much more ex- have to keep ten times the number; and pensive carriage than he could afford, though a horse, or a leg of mutton, may had it out out from England in fact:" or cost very much less than in England, a over his wife's reckless expenditure in quire of paper or a pair of gloves, any of dress. “She sent round a French mantle the modern luxuries which are in fact for sale at twenty guineas, and you know necessities, are twice as dear as in Europe, she has no business, with their income, and are a perpetual heavy drain upon to buy an expensive thing like that." small incomes. Ah! we are all very human, and never Of all the subjects which annoy and more so than when we talk about the fol- worry housekeepers in India, none gives lies or the weaknesses of friends, and rise to more domestic disturbances than India does not necessarily tend to raise what we used to call the Great Jálran our tone of mind, or to give us higher Question. It seems impossible at first and more charitable thoughts; rather the sight that so humble an article, for the reverse. Society is in many ways more Jáhran is merely a duster, should cause lax and easy-going than at home: and the so much heartburning, yet such is its unifact that beyond an infinitesimally small versal result. The ayahs want jálrans, sprinkling of outsiders, everybody be the sweepers want jáhrans, the bearers longs to one branch or other of the ser- want jáhrans, the tailor wants jáhrans, vice, makes it unlike anything one can the kitchen department is omnivorous, in ever expect to meet in England. The its consumption of the article, and so is purely official standard by which every- the stable department; and when on body's position is assigned, brings often Monday morning a great pile of unsavory into prominent places those who are quite dusters is collected and counted over to unfitted to be leaders of society, either the Mem Sahib before they are taken from their antecedents, or, in the case of away by the dobbi to be washed, some ladies, sometimes from their extreme of those given out on the preceding Monyouth. Then there are no really old peo-day are invariably missing; and as each ple to give weight and sobriety-those who member of your establishment is absoare elderly for India, would be scarcely lutely certain that he or she has brought more than middle-aged at home: and third-back exactly the right number, disputes ly, the want of a good coinage has a singu. and chattering are rife in the compound, larly bad effect upon financial morality. the poor ayah who has to seek the missRupees are too heavy to be carried about, ing articles is almost at her wits’ end, so instead of paying ready money for and the lady herself must stand her small articles at the English shops, most ground manfully, and insist firmly that people have a bill; then they forget how they must be found without delay, before this is mounting up, and rush into some the lost dusters can be produced. Then extravagance, new costumes, it may be, in the buying them, she may offend a for a fancy ball, which are always expen: dozen friends at least. The hemming of sive, and which result in other and still jáhrans is a branch of industry much enlonger bills. A dead weight of debt is couraged by charitable ladies, amongst not cheerful or ennobling when hanging poor English or Eurasian widows, chilround the neck of man or woman, but dren in schools, and any other dependent they get used to it after a while. Hus- persons they may wish to assist; but the band and wife are both popular in society, jáhrans, when hemmed, must be sold, they must go to this or that ball, they and many of these kind-hearted people, must take part in these or those theatri- quite unable to believe that any other cals, all involving further outlay, until as lady's protégées may be as worthy and years go on the tone of their minds has necessitous as their own, are prepared to insensibly lowered and they have become force their dusters on their friends at the capable of an amount of shabbiness in all point of the bayonet. When Mrs. Smith money matters to which in earlier days it looks reproachľuly in your face and says, seemed impossible for them to sink. It sweetly smiling, • Dear Mrs. Jones, you is not uncommon to hear people say as have not bought any of my old women's high praise, “ I like to have money deal-dusters for such a long time; I am sure