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.

A very interesting and useful book might be made out of the history of those men, more or less mad, by whom multitudes of mankind have been led and perhaps governed; and a philosophical analysis of the points on which they were really mad and really sane, would show many of them to have been fit subjects for a madhouse during the whole career of their glory. [W.  H. S.]

For an account of Muhammadan sects, see section viii of the Preliminary Dissertation in Sale’s Koran, entitled, ’Of the Principal Sects among the Muhammadans; and of those who have pretended to Prophecy among the Arabs, in or since the Time of Muhammad’; and T. P. Hughes, Dictionary of Islam (1885).  The chief sects of the Sunnis, or Traditionists, are four in number.  ’The principal sects of the Shias are five, which are subdivided into an almost innumerable number.’  The court of the kings of Oudh was Shia.  In most parts of India the Sunni faith prevails.

The relation between genius and insanity is well expressed by Dryden (Absalom and Achitopfel): 

    Great wits are sure to madness near allied,
    And thin partitions do their bounds divide.

The treatise of Professor Cesare Lombroso, entitled The Man of Genius (London edition, 1891), is devoted to proof and illustration of the proposition that genius is ‘a special morbid condition’.  He deals briefly with the case of Muhammad at pages 31, 39, and 325, maintaining that the prophet, like Saint Paul, Julius Caesar, and many other men of genius, was subject to epileptic fits.  The Professor’s book seems to be exactly what Sir W. H. Sleeman desired to see.

12.  In the author’s time, when municipal conservancy and sanitation were almost unknown in India, the tyranny of the sweepers’ guild was chiefly felt as a private inconvenience.  It is now one of the principal of the many difficulties, little understood in Europe, which bar the progress of Indian sanitary reform.  The sweepers cannot be readily coerced because no Hindoo or Musalman would do their work to save his life, nor will he pollute himself even by beating the refractory scavenger.  A strike of sweepers on the occasion of a great fair, or of a cholera epidemic, is a most dangerous calamity.  The vested rights described in the text are so fully recognized in practice that they are frequently the subject of sale or mortgage.

13.  The low-caste Hindoos are generally fond of drink, when they can get it, but seldom commit crime under its influence.

14.  An elephant driver, by reason of his position on the animal, has opportunities for private conversation with his master.

15.  Elephant drivers (mahouts) are Muhammadans, who should have no caste, but Indian Musalmans have become Hinduized, and fallen under the dominion of caste.

16.  Darbhanga is in Tirhut, seventy miles NE. of Dinapore.  The Kusi (Kosi or Koosee) river rises in the mountains of Nepal, and falls into the Ganges after a course of about 325 miles.  Nathpur, in the Puraniya (Purneah) District, is a mart for the trade with Nepal.

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