Rambles and recollections of an Indian official!
Major-General Sir W. H. Sleeman, K.C.B.
EDITOR'S PREFACE (1893)
The Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official, always a costly book, has been scarce and difficult to procure for many years past. Among the crowd of books descriptive of Indian scenery, manners, and customs, the sterling merits of Sir William Sleeman's work have secured it pre-eminence, and kept it in constant demand, notwithstanding the lapse of nearly fifty years since its publication.
The high reputation of this work does not rest upon its strictly literary qualities. The author was a busy man, immersed all his life in the practical affairs of administration, and too full of his subject to be careful of strict correctness of style or minute accuracy of expression.
Yet, so great is the intrinsic value of his observations, and so attractive are the sincerity and sympathy with which he discusses a vast range of topics, that the reader refuses to be offended by slight formal defects in expression or arrangement, and willingly yields to the charm of the author's genial and unstudied conversation.
It would be difficult to name any other book so full of instruction for the young Anglo-Indian administrator. When this work was published in 1844 the author had had thirty-five years' varied experience of Indian life, and had accumulated and assimilated an immense store of knowledge concerning the history, manners, and modes of thought of the complex population of India.
He thoroughly understood the peculiarities of the various native races, and the characteristics which distinguish them from the nations of Europe; while his sympathetic insight into Indian life had not orientalized him, nor had it ever for one moment caused him to forget his position and heritage as an Englishman. This attitude of sane and discriminating sympathy is the right attitude for the Englishman in India.
To enumerate the topics on which wise and profitable observations will be found in this book would be superfluous. The wine is good, and needs no bush. So much may be said that the book is one to interest that nondescript person, the general reader in Europe or America, as well as the Anglo-Indian official.
Besides good advice and sound teaching on matters of policy and administration, it contains many charming, though inartificial, descriptions of scenery and customs, many ingenious speculations, and some capital stories. The ethnologist, the antiquary, the geologist, the soldier, and the missionary will all find in it something to suit their several tastes.
In this edition the numerous misprints of the original edition have been all, and, for the most part, silently corrected. The extremely erratic punctuation has been freely modified, and the spelling of Indian words and names has been systematized. Two paragraphs, misplaced in the original edition at the end of Chapter 48 of Volume I, have been removed, and inserted in their proper place at the end of Chapter 47; and the supplementary notes printed at the end of the second volume of the original edition have been brought up to the positions which they were intended to occupy.
Chapters 37 to 46 of the first volume, describing the contest for empire between the sons of Shāh Jahān, are in substance only a free version of Bernier's work entitled, The Late Revolution of the Empire of the Great Mogol. These chapters have not been reprinted because the history of that revolution can now be read much more satisfactorily in Mr. Constable's edition of Bernier's Travels. Except as above stated, the text of the present edition of the Rambles and Recollections is a faithful reprint of the Author's text.
In the spelling of names and other words of Oriental languages the Editor has 'endeavoured to strike a mean between popular usage and academic precision, preferring to incur the charge of looseness to that of pedantry'. Diacritical marks intended to distinguish between the various sibilants, dentals, nasals, and so forth, of the Arabic and Sanskrit alphabets, have been purposely omitted. Long vowels are marked by the sign ¯.
Except in a few familiar words, such as Nerbudda and Hindoo, which are spelled in the traditional manner, vowels are to be pronounced as in Italian, or as in the following English examples, namely: ā, as in 'call'; e, or ē, as the medial vowel in 'cake'; i, as in 'kill'; ī, as the medial vowels in 'keel'; u, as in 'full'; ū, as the medial vowels in 'fool'; o, or ō, as in 'bone'; ai, or āi, as 'eye' or 'aye', respectively; and au, as the medial sound in 'fowl'. Short a, with stress, is pronounced like the u in 'but'; and if without stress, as an indistinct vowel, like the A in 'America'.
The Editor's notes, being designed merely to explain and illustrate the text, so as to render the book fully intelligible and helpful to readers of the present day, have been compressed into the narrowest possible limits. Even India changes, and observations and criticisms which were perfectly true when recorded can no longer be safely applied without explanation to the India of to-day. The Author's few notes are distinguished by his initials.
A copious analytical index has been compiled. The bibliography is as complete as careful inquiry could make it, but it is possible that some anonymous papers by the Author, published in periodicals, may have escaped notice.
The memoir of Sir William Sleeman is based on the slight sketch prefixed to the Journey through the Kingdom of Oude, supplemented by much additional matter derived from his published works and correspondence, as well as from his unpublished letters and other papers generously communicated by his only son, Captain Henry Sleeman. Ample materials exist for a full account of Sir William Sleeman's noble and interesting life, which well deserves to be recorded in detail; but the necessary limitations of these volumes preclude the Editor from making free use of the biographical matter at his command.
The reproduction of the twenty-four coloured plates of varying merit which enrich the original edition has not been considered desirable. The map shows clearly the route taken by the Author in the journey the description of which is the leading theme of the book.
Annual Fairs held on the Banks of Sacred Streams in India
Hindoo System of Religion
Legend of the Nerbudda River
A Suttee on the Nerbudda
Marriages of Trees—The Tank and the Plantain—Meteors—Rainbows
The Purveyance System
Religious Sects—Self-government of the Castes—Chimneysweepers—Washerwomen —Elephant Drivers
The Great Iconoclast—Troops routed by Hornets—The Rānī of Garhā—Hornets' Nests in India
The Peasantry and the Land Settlement
The Silver Tree, or 'Kalpa Briksha'—The 'Singhāra', or Trapa bispinosa, and the Guinea-Worm
Thugs and Poisoners
Basaltic Cappings of the Sandstone Hills of Central India—Suspension Bridge—Prospects of the Nerbudda Valley—Deification of a Mortal
Legend of the Sāgar Lake—Paralysis from eating the Grain of the Lathyrus sativus
Suttee Tombs—Insalubrity of deserted Fortresses
Basaltic Cappings—Interview with a Native Chief—A Singular Character
Birds' Nests—Sports of Boyhood
Feeding Pilgrims—Marriage of a Stone with a Shrub
Burning of Deorī by a Freebooter—A Suttee
Interview with the Rājā who marries the Stone to the Shrub—Order of the Moon and the Fish
The Rājā of Orchhā—Murder of his many Ministers
Corn Dealers—Scarcities—Famines in India
Artificial Lakes in Bundēlkhand-Hindoo, Greek, and Roman Faith
Pestle-and-Mortar Sugar-Mills—Washing away of the Soil
Interview with the Chiefs of Jhānsī—Disputed Succession
Interview with the Rājā of Datiyā—Fiscal Errors of Statesmen—Thieves and Robbers by Profession
Sporting at Datiyā—Fidelity of Followers to their Chiefs in India—Law of Primogeniture wanting among Muhammadans
The Suicide-Relations between Parents and Children in India
Gwālior Plain once the Bed of a Lake—Tameness of Peacocks
Gwālior and its Government
Contest for Empire between the Sons of Shah Jahān
Aurangzēb and Murād Defeat their Father's Army near Ujain
Dārā Marches in Person against his Brothers, and is Defeated
Dārā Retreats towards Lahore—Is robbed by the Jāts—Their Character
Shāh Jahān Imprisoned by his Two Sons, Aurangzēb and Murād
Aurangzēb Throws off the Mask, Imprisons his Brother Murād, and Assumes the Government of the Empire
Aurangzēb Meets Shujā in Bengal, and Defeats him, after Pursuing Dārā to the Hyphasis
Aurangzēb Imprisons his Eldest Son—Shujā and all his Family are Destroyed
Second Defeat and Death of Dārā, and Imprisonment of his Two Sons
Death and Character of Amīr Jumla
Reflections on the Preceding History
The Great Diamond of Kohinūr
Pindhārī System—Character of the Marāthā Administration—Cause of their Dislike to the Paramount Power
Dhōlpur, Capital of the Jāt Chiefs of Gohad—Consequence of Obstacles to the Prosecution of Robbers
Influence of Electricity on Vegetation—Agra and its Buildings
Nūr Jahān, the Aunt of the Empress Nūr Mahal, over whose Remains the Tāj is built
Father Gregory's Notion of the Impediments to Conversion in India—Inability of Europeans to speak Eastern Languages
Fathpur-Sīkrī—The Emperor Akbar's Pilgrimage—Birth of Jahāngīr
Bharatpur—Dīg—Want of Employment for the Military and the Educated Classes under the Company's Rule
Govardhan, the Scene of Kriahna's Dalliance with the Milkmaids
Declining Fertility of the Soil—Popular Notion of the Cause
Concentration of Capital and its Effects
Transit Duties in India—Mode of Collecting them
Peasantry of India attached to no existing Government—Want of Trees in Upper India—Cause and Consequence—Wells and Groves
Public Spirit of the Hindoos—Tree Cultivation and Suggestions for extending it
Cities and Towns, formed by Public Establishments, disappear as Sovereigns and Governors change their Abodes
Murder of Mr. Fraser, and Execution of the Nawāb Shams-ud- dīn
Marriage of a Jāt Chief
Collegiate Endowment of Muhammadan Tombs and Mosques
The Old City of Delhi
New Delhi, or Shāhjahānābād
Indian Police—Its Defects—and their Cause and Remedy
Rent-free Tenures—Right of Government to Resume such Grants
The Station of Meerut—'Atālīs' who Dance and Sing gratuitously for the Benefit of the Poor
Subdivisions of Lands—Want of Gradations of Rank—Taxes
Pilgrims of India
The Bēgam Sumroo
ON THE SPIRIT OF MILITARY DISCIPLINE IN THE NATIVE ARMY OF INDIA
Abolition of Corporal Punishment—Increase of Pay with Length of Service—Promotion by Seniority
Thuggee and the part taken in its Suppression by General Sir W. H. Sleeman, K.C.B., by Captain J. L. Sleeman
Supplementary Note by the Editor
Additions and Corrections