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William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 897 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.

14.  The evils described in this paragraph, though diminished, have not disappeared.  Nevertheless, no one would now seriously propose the deliberate supersession of the existing aristocracy by rich merchants and manufacturers.  The proposal is too fanciful for discussion.  During the long period of peace merchants and manufacturers have naturally risen to a position much more prominent than they occupied in the author’s time.

CHAPTER 73

Meerut—­Anglo-Indian Society.

Meerut is a large station for military and civil establishments; it is the residence of a civil commissioner, a judge, a magistrate, a collector of land revenue, and all their assistants and establishments.  There are the Major-General commanding the division; the Brigadier commanding the station; four troops of horse and a company of foot artillery; one regiment of European cavalry, one of European infantry, one of native cavalry, and three of native infantry.[1] It is justly considered the healthiest station in India, for both Europeans and natives,[2] and I visited it in the latter end of the cold, which is the healthiest, season of the year; yet the European ladies were looking as if they had all come out of their graves, and talking of the necessity of going off to the mountains to renovate, as soon as the hot weather should set in.  They had literally been fagging themselves to death with gaiety, at this the gayest and most delightful of all Indian stations, during the cold months when they ought to have been laying in a store of strength to carry them through the trying seasons of the hot winds and rains.  Up every night and all night at balls and suppers, they could never go out to breathe the fresh air of the morning; and were looking wretchedly ill, while the European soldiers from the barracks seemed as fresh as if they had never left their native land.  There is no doubt that sitting up late at night is extremely prejudicial to the health of Europeans in India.[3] I have never seen the European, male or female, that could stand it long, however temperate in habits; and an old friend of mine once told me that if he went to bed a little exhilarated every night at ten o’clock, and took his ride in the morning, he found himself much better than if he sat up till twelve or one o’clock without drinking, and lay abed in the mornings.  Almost all the gay pleasures of India are enjoyed at night, and as ladies here, as everywhere else in Christian societies, are the life and soul of all good parties, as of all good novels, they often to oblige others sit up late, much against their own inclinations, and even their judgements, aware as they are that they are gradually sinking under the undue exertions.

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