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.

5.  Lord Liverpool, the second earl, became Prime Minister in 1812, after the murder of Perceval.  Mrs. Johnson (not Johnstone) was not ‘the widow of a Governor-General of India’.  Her history is told in detail on her tombstone in St. John’s churchyard, Calcutta, and is summarized in Buckland, Dictionary of Indian Biography (1906).  She was born in 1725, and died in 1812.  She had four husbands, namely (l) Parry Purple Temple, whom she married when she was only thirteen years of age; (2) James Altham, who died of smallpox a few days after his marriage; (3) William Watts, Senior Member of Council, and for a short time Governor or President of Fort William in 1758; (4) in 1774 Rev. William Johnson, who became principal chaplain of Fort William in 1784, and left India in 1788.  She was known as ’the old Begum ’, and her epitaph asserts that she was when she died ’the oldest British resident in Bengal, universally beloved, respected, and revered’.  Mr. A. L. Paul kindly communicated the full text of the inscription on her tomb, with some additional notes.  The author met her in 1810, when she was about eighty-five years of age.

6.  The tragedy of the Black Hole occurred in June, 1756.

7.  Of late years the rigour of the custom exacting midday calls has been relaxed in some places.

8.  Moat people would require some training before they could find this very abstemious regimen ‘the most agreeable’.

9.  It will, I hope, be admitted that this observation still holds good.

10.  When the author wrote the rupee was worth more than two shillings, the members of the Indian services were few in number, and mostly well paid, while living was cheap.  Now all is changed.  The rupee has an artificial value of 1_s_. 4_d_., the members of the services are numerous and often ill paid, while living is dear.  The sharp fall in the value of silver, and consequently in the gold equivalent of the rupee, began in 1874.  ’Corroding cares and anxieties’ are now the lot of most people who serve in India.  They now have the privilege of paying taxes.

11.  This perfect religious freedom, still generally characteristic of Anglo-Indian society, is one of its greatest charms; and the charms of the country do not increase.

12.  The author probably had in his mind the famous lines of Lucretius:-

Suave, mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis,
E terra magnum alterius spectare laborem;
Non quia vexari quemquam ’st jucunda voluptas,
Sed, quibus ipse malis careas, quia cernere suave ’st. 

                                                                        (Book II, line 1.)

13.  This delightful philosophic calm is no longer an Anglo-Indian possession; nor can the modern Indian official congratulate himself on his immunity from ‘injuries, indignities, and calumnies’.

14.  There are now clubs everywhere, and coteries are said to be not unknown.  Few Anglo-Indians of the present day are able to share the author’s cheery optimism.

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