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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.

In the Isle of France,[3] people have a notion that the mushrooms always come up best after a thunderstorm.  Electricity has certainly much more to do in the business of the world than we are yet aware of, in the animal, mineral, and vegetable developments.[4]

At our ground this day, I met a very respectable and intelligent native revenue officer who had been employed to settle some boundary disputes between the yeomen of our territory and those of the adjoining territory of Dholpur.

‘The Honourable Company’s rights and those of its yeomen must’, said he, ’be inevitably sacrificed in all such cases; for the Dholpur chief, or his minister, says to all their witnesses, “You are, of course, expected to speak the truth regarding the land in dispute; but, by the sacred stream of the Ganges, if you speak so as to lose this estate one inch of it, you lose both your ears”—­and most assuredly would they lose them,’ continued he, ’if they were not to swear most resolutely that all the land in question belonged to Dholpur.  Had I the same power to cut off the ears of witnesses on our side, we should meet on equal terms.  Were I to threaten to cut them off, they would laugh in my face.’  There was much truth in what the poor man said, for the Dholpur witnesses always make it appear that the claims of their yeomen are just and moderate, and a salutary dread of losing their ears operates, no doubt, very strongly.  The threatened punishment of the prince is quick, while that of the gods, however just, is certainly very slow—­

 Ut sit magna, tamen certe lenta ira deorum est.

On the 1st of January, 1836, we went on sixteen miles to Agra, and, when within about six miles of the city, the dome and minarets of the Taj opened upon us from behind a small grove of fruit-trees, close by us on the side of the road.  The morning was not clear, but it was a good one for a first sight of this building, which appeared larger through the dusty haze than it would have done through a clear sky.  For five-and-twenty years of my life had I been looking forward to the sight now before me.  Of no building on earth had I heard so much as of this, which contains the remains of the Emperor Shah Jahan and his wife, the father and mother of the children whose struggles for dominion have been already described.  We had ordered our tents to be pitched in the gardens of this splendid mausoleum, that we might have our fill of the enjoyment which everybody seemed to derive from it; and we reached them about eight o’clock.  I went over the whole building before I entered my tent, and, from the first sight of the dome and minarets on the distant horizon to the last glance back from my tent-ropes to the magnificent gateway that forms the entrance from our camp to the quadrangle in which they stand, I can truly say that everything surpassed my expectations.  I at first thought the dome formed too large a portion of the whole building; that its neck was too long

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