Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official eBook

William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,051 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.
his love of art.  Upon his skill in finding them he is willing to rest his first claim to superior sagacity and enterprise.  His trophies are his string of eggs; and the eggs most prized among them are those of the nests that are discovered with most difficulty, and attained with most danger.  The same feeling of desire to display their skill and enterprise in search after birds’ nests in early life renders the youth of England the enemy almost of the whole animal creation throughout their after career.  The boy prides himself on his dexterity in throwing a stone or a stick; and he practises on almost every animal that comes in his way, till he never sees one without the desire to knock it down, or at least to hit it; and, if it is lawful to do so, he feels it to be a most serious misfortune not to have a stone within his reach at the time.  As he grows up, he prides himself upon his dexterity in shooting, and he never sees a member of the feathered tribe within shot, without a desire to shoot it, or without regretting that he has not a gun in his hand to shoot it.  That he is not entirely destitute of sympathy, however, with the animals he maims for his amusement is sufficiently manifest from his anxiety to put them out of pain the moment he gets them.

A friend of mine, now no more, Captain Medwin, was once looking with me at a beautiful landscape painting through a glass.  At last he put aside the glass, saying:  ’You may say what you like, S—­, but the best landscape I know is a fine black partridge[3] falling before my Joe Manton.’

The following lines of Walter Scott, in his Rokeby, have always struck me as very beautiful:-

    As yet the conscious pride of art
    Had steel’d him in his treacherous part;
    A powerful spring of force unguessed
    That hath each gentler mood suppressed,
    And reigned in many a human breast;
    From his that plans the rude campaign,
    To his that wastes the woodland reign, &c.[4]

Among the people of India it is very different.  Children do not learn to exercise their powers either in discovering and robbing the nests of birds, or in knocking them down with stones and staves; and, as they grow up, they hardly ever think of hunting or shooting for mere amusement.  It is with them a matter of business; the animal they cannot eat they seldom think of molesting.

Some officers were one day pursuing a jackal, with a pack of dogs, through my grounds.  The animal passed close to one of my guard, who cut him in two with his sword, and held up the reeking blade in triumph to the indignant cavalcade; who, when they came up, were ready to eat him alive.  ‘What have I done’, said the poor man, ’to offend you?’ ‘Have you not killed the jackal?’ shouted the whipper-in, in a fury.

‘Of course I have; but were you not all trying to kill him?’ replied the poor man.  He thought their only object had been to kill the jackal, as they would have killed a serpent, merely because he was a mischievous and noisy beast.

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Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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