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Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official eBook

William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 897 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.
of four or five, who occupy a wretched hut on the side of the road midway, and seem by their presence to render the scene around more dreary.[4] the road is a mere footpath unimproved and unadorned by any single work of art; and, except in this footpath, and the small police guard, there is absolutely no single sign in all this long march to indicate the dominion, or even the presence, of man; and yet it is between two contiguous [sic] capitals, one occupied by one of the most ancient, and the other by one of the greatest native sovereigns of Hindustan.[5] One cannot but feel that he approaches the capital of a dynasty of barbarian princes, who, like Attila, would choose their places of residence, as devils choose their pandemonia, for their ugliness, and rather reside in the dreary wastes of Tartary than on the shores of the Bosphorus.  There are within the dominions of Sindhia seats for a capital that would not yield to any in India in convenience, beauty, and salubrity; but, in all these dominions, there is not, perhaps, another place so hideously ugly as Gwalior, or so hot and unhealthy.  It has not one redeeming quality that should recommend it to the choice of a rational prince, particularly to one who still considers his capital as his camp, and makes every officer of his army feel that he has as little of permanent interest in his house as he would have in his tent.[6]

Phul Bagh, or the flower-garden, was suggested to me as the best place for my tents, where Sindhia had built a splendid summer-house.  As I came over this most gloomy and uninteresting march, in which the heart of a rational man sickens, as he recollects that all the revenues of such an enormous extent of dominion over the richest soil and the most peaceable people in the world should have been so long concentrated upon this point, and squandered without leaving one sign of human art or industry, I looked forward with pleasure to a quiet residence in the flower-garden, with good foliage above, and a fine sward below, and an atmosphere free from dust, such as we find in and around all the residences of Muhammadan princes.  On reaching my tents I found them pitched close outside the flower-garden, in a small dusty plain, without a blade of grass or a shrub to hide its deformity—­just such a place as the pig-keepers occupy in the suburbs of other towns.  On one side of this little plain, and looking into it, was the summer-house of the prince, without one inch of green sward or one small shrub before it.

Around the wretched little flower-garden was a low, naked, and shattered mud wall, such as we generally see in the suburbs thrown up to keep out and in the pigs that usually swarm in such places—­’and the swine they crawled out, and the swine they crawled in’.[7] When I cantered up to my tent-door, a sipahi of my guard came up, and reported that as the day began to dawn a gang of thieves had stolen one of my best carpets, all the brass brackets of my

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