In no country are there stronger and larger elephants; so strong and so large that one can carry thirteen persons on his back at once.
The land is full of idols: for Buddha or Fo is worshipped in Cochin-China, as he is in China.
The idols are sometimes kept in high trees, and priests may be seen mounting ladders to present offerings.
But the people are not satisfied with idols in trees; they have pocket idols, which they carry about with them everywhere.
These two kingdoms belong to the king of Cochin-China; yet all three, Tonquin, Cambodia, and Cochin-China, pay tribute to China, and therefore they must be considered as conquered countries.
They are all very much like China in their customs. There are large cities in them all, and multitudes of people, but very little is known about them in England.
This word Hindostan means “black place,” for in the Persian language “hind” is “black,” and “stan” is “place.” You may guess, therefore, that the people in Hindostan are very dark; yet they are not quite black, and some of the ladies are only of a light brown complexion.
What a large country Hindostan is! Has it an emperor of its own, as China has? No: large as it is, it belongs to the little country called England.
How did the English get it?
They conquered it by little and little. When first they came there, they found there a Mahomedan people, called the Moguls. These Moguls had conquered Hindostan: but by degrees the English conquered them, and became masters of all the land.
There is only one small country among the mountains which has not been conquered by the English, and that place is Nepaul. It is near the Himalaya mountains. See that great chain of mountains in the north: they are the Himalaya—the highest mountains in the world. The word “him,” or “hem,” means snow—and snowy indeed are those mountains.
There is a great river that flows from the Himalaya called the Ganges. It flows by many mouths into the ocean; yet of all these mouths only one is deep enough for large ships to sail in; the other mouths are all choked up with sand. The deep mouth of the Ganges is called the Hoogley.
It was on the banks of the Hoogley that the first English city was built. It was built by some English merchants, and is called Calcutta. That name comes from the name of a horrible idol called Kalee, of which more will be said hereafter.
Calcutta is now a very grand city; there is the governor’s palace, and there are the mansions of many rich Englishmen. It has been called “the city of palaces.”
There is another great river on the other side of Hindostan called the Indus. It was from that river that Hindostan got the name of India, or the East Indies.