BETA

HUBERT ;

Or, The Veteran of India.

PART I.

Where Indian village ’ mid the grove of palms,1
Her shadowed cots conceals ; and devious path2
Now guides the traveller past the peasant’s door ;3
Where sable child, amid his eager play,4
Disparts from sparkling eye his clustered locks,5
To gaze at man of Europe passing strange ; —6
Now winds through garden rich with trees of fruit,7
Where slenderest arec* waves her silvery stalk8
Amid her brethren palms ; or widening leads9
Where eager damsels crowd the morning well,10
Their earliest, coolest, draught unsoiled to draw ;11
And Indian beauty shews her sable charms,12
In sylph-like grace, not undelightful seen,13
Or speaks in downcast eyes, as traveller looks,14
Her ebon-mantled blush : There, built apart,15
Where opener site invites the seaward breeze,16
A neater house mid verdant garden stands ;17
Whose herbs and flowerets, watered due at eve,18
Defy the sun, and thrive in arid sand.19
There lives a man of Europe ; brown with toil,20
And many a fiery climate ; hoar with age,21
Yet cheerful, healthy ; living now at ease,22
A soldier long ; receiving here reward23
Of many a day of toil and scene of blood :24
For years on upland Indian plains has lived,25
With men whose unaccustomed ears would shrink26
To hear an English word: has fought the wars27
Of England, only Englishman, the rest28
A band of sable warriors, trained to know29
The arts of British battle ; Veteran now—30

* The areca palms, though scarcely thicker than a man’s arm, rise to the same height
with the tall cocoa nut and date palms around them; and the number of their long slen-
der stems, intermingled with the other trees, adds much to the romantic appearance of the
Indian gardens. Not being of sufficient strength to bear a man’s weight, (though the
wood is slow of growth and extremely hard), their nuts are gathered by the bandarries, or
climbers, by reaching from the adjacent trees.
In childhood came to Ind : can recollect31
But few and faint the early scenes of home ;32
Where born, he scarcely knows: a wood, a hill,33
Perchance a glittering lake, recalls to mind,34
Or antique spire of grove-embosomed church ;35
On these with fondness dwell his thoughts entranced,36
As men recall the faintly imaged face37
Of mother dead in early infancy ;38
Or like the dream mid reaper’s hour of rest,39
Who sinks to sleep beside his gathered sheaves,40
And wakes, by comrade called to join the toil41
Of harvest’s eager field ; —from beauteous dream,42
To busy work aroused. His Indian cot43
Is deck’d with pictured scenes of British clime ;44
Perchance some church on verdant hillock placed,45
With space of sacred ground, where frequent stands46
The monument of village ancestry ;47
Or, haply, scene of many a childish sport,48
Some frozen lake by skaiters lightly skimmed,49
Where high cascade from wintry rocks is urged,50
And forms its spray to thousand glittering shapes51
Of caves and forests wild ; by Indian guest52
Oft deemed the magic halls to Genii given,53
Where shadowy trees with jewels sparkling bloom.54
And oft the Veteran’s dreaming fancy seeks,55
Amid these random scenes, resemblance faint,56
Of youthful haunts by flickering memory loved57
In age and foreign land. Of earliest friends58
That with him left their native English shore,59
But one, perchance, or two are now alive,60
And those in other kingdoms ; all the rest,61
Like snowdrop flowers that fade from warmer sun,62
Have withering died ; and yearly crowds of more63
Have since arrived, and withered too like them—64
Leaving few relicts ; like the aged trees,65
That, scattered lonely o’er some range of heath,66
But shew where ancient forest once has been ;67
Or, like the isles that mid some flooded land,68
Rise, monuments of countries drowned beneath.69
Sad relicts they ! through many a peril come70
Of battle, siege, and long and deadly march71
In burning sun, or floods of Indian rain ;72
And often snatched from brink of yawning grave,73
When sickness raged destroying ; grateful some, 74
Expectant still of death ; while others live75
And careless laugh, and think their frames are made76
Of stuff too hard for Indian clime to wear.77
Not he of whom I speak ; his dangers past78
Have taught that Heaven has power to try him still ;79
For hard adversity had tamed his youth,80
And discipline instilled ; as cautious hind81
( When round his infant wheat the wintry frost82
Has bound protecting soil, and guards its roots )83
Sends forth his eager flock, the ranker shoots84
To tame ; and sees, when comes the softening spring,85
Its roots more deeply firm, its verdant blade86
To stronger height, and richer harvest grown.87
Thus Heaven had Hubert’s young luxuriance tamed 88
By many an ill ; and thus had kindly given89
For suffering youth, a firm and wiser age.90
Through many a soldier’s danger he had passed,91
Where hard escape had trained his grateful heart92
To thoughts submiss ; had lived in deathful lands93
Where chilly night descends with wings of ice94
On plains still faint with heat of feverish day —95
Where sluggish morn reclines in aguish pain,96
Amid her gathered mists, till saddened sun,97
Seen through the vapoury mass slow rising dim,98
Bids shivering men rush forth from couches chill,99
To catch his earliest gleam, whose waxing heat,100
Soon sickening grows, and scorches all the air.101
Here fever’s serpent fangs had stung the camp,102
Like fiery snake, winged viewless through the air ;103
And round him, dropping fast, had comrades fallen.104
Oft,—very oft,—from march of fainting day,105
To gladsome rest arrived, one friendly hand106
With him had reared the tent, had strewed the couch,107
Had spread their wearied camel’s store of food,108
Then sat to talk of British home beloved,109
Till eve’s repast ; yet, ere the hour had come110
So near esteemed, the burning shaft of death,111
That friend had felt,—slow carried forth a corse112
Beyond the camp; whose every nightly site,113
Might Indian wanderers know by range of graves114
Amid their desart seen. Such dangers passed,115
Had taught the Veteran old to own the hand116
Of God in all, and still entreat his care :117
And, next to Heaven, with grateful heart he tells118
Of friends of former days ; among them all119
Her dearest, whose connubial care had soothed120
His bitterest ills ; in sickness dressed his couch,121
Contrived some kindlier drink, some easier food,122
When loathing heart had long rejected all,123
And fainted, sick of life; had watched his bed124
When death seemed watching near her ; fanned his face125
With cooling air, and warded off the fly,126
That, ominous of death, alighting pressed127
His moveless lips. What though her cheek was dark ? 128
Though Moorish prattle mixed with English word,129
Spoke quaintly oft ? And though her Indian modes130
Seemed oft demure and shy ? Was love like her’s131
Deserving less of all an English heart132
Can grateful give? Or can her fondling pride133
In English husband less affection meet134
From him whom thus she loved ? Beside him now,135
At sultry noon, she loves at ease to sit,136
Beneath the cooler shade, and, pleased, beholds137
Her friends and Indian neighbours crowd to seek138
His aid or counsel, him advise or help,139
And sometimes chide—superior still to all,140
And still beloved—by her beloved the most.141
Here too, at times, the Veteran’s daughter comes142
The young Phoolranee,* bred from earliest youth143
In modes demure of Indian maid to live,144
And all retired their haram-veil to wear :145
Yet had the damsel’s heart in childhood learned,146
( In tales of wonder told by British sire,) 147
Of dames who lived in England’s freer world,148
The friends, not slaves of men; as hears the nun,149
With beating breast, some strange and glowing tale150

* Phoolranee, the Queen of Flowers: it is used by the Hindoos rather as a term of
endearment than as a proper name.
Of fields and groves, where maids are free to roam,151
And swains return their love. Her bounding youth152
Had thus been taught the Eastern chains to mock,153
That wrap in ignorance the female heart,154
And bind its manners cold ; her sparkling eye155
Told what her breast had from her sire acquired156
Of British fire, and laughed, with maiden’s scorn,157
At many an Indian lover’s proffered suit,158
Whom, sportive, yet she loved at times to hear,159
In tongue familiar, speak the words of love,160
And pour, in mellowest voice, her native songs161
To British lips denied : but all his arts,162
Mere flitting pastime, fled her altered mind163
When tale sincere of British love was told,164
By him her father loved. Phoolranee thus,165
Like playful fawn, had passed her maiden life—166
A matron now, she brings at eve her son167
To meet her parents near their cottage tree, 168
And sooth, with filial care, their lonelier day169
Of setting age. There, too, her father loves170
To fondle o’er his grandchild, loves to trace171
The hues of Europe brightening o’er his cheek,172
And think himself restored again to home173
In this sweet child of hope ; whilst near his knee174
The young Phoolranee sits, and, smiling, asks,175
If her young Henry’s brow be not as fair176
As was his grandsire’s ? thinks her careful eye177
May sap his youth untinged by Indian sun,178
And see him bloom as did his sire, when first179
From England come, the ruddy vision pressed180
Those pallid shores. For much Phoolranee’s heart181
Around her Briton clung ; and well she loved,182
When he, from war’s wild roaming toils released,183
Could wend with her at eve, to sooth with talk184
Of Britain’s distant land her aged sire,185
And teach his lisping son the words of home.186
And he too fondly loved ; for here, at last,187
From roamings wild, o’er many a region far,188
The wandering youth had found again a home,189
And hearts to yield him love. His country left,190
Where step-dame’s frown had chilled his father’s hearth,191
And sent, unfledged, the younglings forth to stray,192
A cheerless path the erring youth had trode,193
Amid the desart world ; like traveller lone194
Amid the dreary sands of barren Zaar,195
Who, fainting, thinks that here his bones shall bleach196
Before the lonely sun ; when lo ! at morn197
Some green oasis, ’ mid the sea-like waste,198
Appears to bless despair, whose trees of shade199
And fields of verdure, more delightful seem200
To wanderer’s feverish heart and eyes inflamed.201
Thus he once roamed ; and thus, at last, had found202
Amid the wild a home. Phoolranee’s love203
Had soothed his wandering heart, and given him here204
Sweet resting place. Her reverend sire to him205
Was more than father: skilled to sooth the mind206
By long unkindness torn, and scarce withheld207
( To wild defiance urged of men’s repute )208
In fierce excess forgetfulness to seek—209
He stood the wayward orphan’s generous friend ;210
And mildly thus his long-neglected youth211
To inward peace and soft content reclaimed ;212
And gratitude and love gave high reward : —213
The Veteran gained a son, the youth a sire,214
And young Phoolranee’s love endeared the bond.215
At eve before his cot the Veteran sat,216
In cheerful talk with all his gladsome groupe : —217
His wife beloved, his young Phoolranee’s child,218
And her, his idol late ( who now but gave219
Divided love ), beside her husband placed ;220
And there, while beamed affection’s tranquil smile221
In every eye, loved each, with grateful heart,222
His train of ills endured, in turn to tell,223
Which thus to wearied minds had brought repose.224
And first, to friends around, the veteran loved225
To trace the wide campaign his steps had passed,226
His hardships felt, his train of changes seen ;227
And long, and strange, I wot, the various tale,228
In wonders rife, and versed in names deceased.229
On many a feat of war his youth had gone230
With old commanders, now forgotten all ;231
And many a favouring witness he could cite232
Of young exploits, and arduous duty done,233
From names his younger auditors but know234
In history ; so fleet the passing crowds235
Arrive, perform their parts, return, or die,236
On stage of Indian life. His age prolonged,237
Has seen each circle, man by man, decay,238
And every place by newer men supplied,239
Till all the ranks were new—and new again—240
Like crops of withering leaves successive shed !241
What contrast strange the passing years have brought242
To Hubert’s hoary age ! he tells of wars243
With hostile princes, whose successors now244
Are Britain’s firmest allies : —vanquished kings245
That private now in peaceful splendour live,246
Forgot as kings—with British merchants long247
Familiar neighbours : —tells of marches far,248
Through foeman’s land, to countries lying now249
Embosomed round by Britain’s sole domain ;250
Of castle, gained by long and fierce assault251
From warlike bands of prowling ravagers,252
That now, dismantled, sleeps on rocky hill,253
Unnoted seen from villages secure ;254
While ’ mid its ruined walls the scrambling goat255
Seeks, perched on hinder legs, at leisure round256
The tufts of grass from mouldering crevices,257
’Mid breach once moistened red with soldier’s blood ;258
And ’ neath its arch, whose threatening portals once259
Were wont to pour abroad the greedy bands260
Of swarming robbers, now from upmost stone261
The hiving bees, like bunch of ripening grapes,262
Wave pendulous unharmed, as glides the breeze263
Along that grass-grown porch : around its tank264
Where ready bandits mustered once their steeds,265
To sweep in thunder down the trembling vale,266
The herdsman stalks at noon, and marks the depth267
Where bathes his sluggish buffalo, concealed268
Beneath the level flood, absorbing glad269
The watery coolness through his mammoth bulk,270
A quiet ruin all ; where Hubert once271
Had seen the demon terror hold his den,272
And send his minions forth to work of death,273
How changed the better scene ! —The troublous wars274
( That once in chaos wide had strewed the plain275
With wrecks of kingdoms) now have cleared a place276
Where British skill has reared, in giant strength,277
Mid Indian anarchy, the bulwarks high278
Of civil order. Hubert’s youth had passed279
With those who, mid the fierce turmoil of war,280
Those bulwarks high (like him who Salem’s walls*281
Amid her foes erected) watchful built,282
With girded swords, and warders set to watch283
Marauding foemen’s spear ; and now he saw284
The splendid structure raised to firmest strength ; —285
Saw kings, that once in proud defiance fought286
To baulk the rising power, imploring now287
Her friendly shield, to check marauding storm288
By former allies poured, whose plundering sword289
As yet untamed, its choicest riches seeks290
In spoils of peaceful vale or labouring town.291
And oft th’ exulting Veteran loved to point292
Where daily still the choice of India’s tribes293
From all her troubled countries, seek the shade294
Of British power, industrious there to ply,295
Unawed by despot greed, their arts of wealth.296
As flock from beating waves and seas of foam297
The frightened ocean-birds, to some-vast rock298
That rises safe amid the wildest storm.299
Such theme the Veteran told. Then loved his wife300
( Goonkulee once, the maid of Indian cot,301
Now Mary† named) to paint the various scenes302
Of all her chequered life. How peaceful first,303
With sire and mother loved, her life had passed.304
In native cot on Agimerian fields ;305
Where level plains bid gladdened farmers spread306
Wide inundation feeding all the land,307
For ricy culture rich ; while safely stored308
Mid loftiest arms of branchy village tree,309
‡Their gathered corn defies the flooding rain,310
In yearly wealth : —There o’er the boundless plain311
The white pagoda meets the onward view,312
O’er guava groves and fields of marshy rice,313
Bright glittering seen from all the fruitful plain,314
Like distant sail on ocean’s edge descried.315
There too, in playful youth she oft had marked,316
Upraised on tree mid village-garden placed,317
Blue hills, emerging low, like clouds of eve,318
Afar beyond the plain ; and oft had shrunk319
(Rejoicing still in native home secure)320
As matrons told how mid those mountains far321

* See the fine description of the re-building of the walls of Jerusalem, in the book of
Nehemiah. Never were simplicity of expression, and energy of action, so admirably ex-
emplified. See particularly chapter fourth, from the thirteenth verse to the end.
† The Indians generally assume the name of some saint of the Romish calendar on
professing Christianity. The Catholic priests (for that is the sect into which the few con-
verts generally enter) are particularly anxious to enforce this practice, as it not only points
out the change of religion, but indicates their part and right in the convert.
‡ The culture of rice, which requires the fields to be laid under water during a part of
the year, is pursued to the greatest advantage in very flat countries. Such lands being, at
certain seasons, subjected to deep inundations, the peasants frequently secure their hay,
&c. amid the branches of trees. The appearance of these stilted ricks, in the absence of
all romantic features in the country, give a sort of peculiarity to the landscape which is
not unpleasing.
Wild men held savage dens, who (aided oft322
By a of genii) rushed on fields beneath323
With wings of fire, and gave in plunder all324
Their quiet homes to death. Alas ! the storm325
Whose pictures oft, in fancy’s wildness dressed,326
Had pleased with wondrous tale her childish years,327
In horror real approached. Some rajah’s band,328
Whom hill-closed wilds had fed to savage strength,329
Burst every bar that wont of yore to stop.330
Their fierce descent, and rushed along the plain331
To sweep their prey, and spoil with track of fire332
The peopled country far—whose scattered cots333
By wreaths of rising smoke might now be marked,334
Erst hid by groves of fruit. Her hapless sire,335
With all his infant children, driven from home,336
Had wandered houseless far ; o’er toilsome hills337
And roaring mountain-streams, to her unknown,338
And strangest seeming all, their paths were urged ;339
Dark height of rocks and depth of savage vales340
Had hid their restless flight, when death itself341
Seemed less terrific far than such escape,342
When chanced her Hubert—stranger then—to spy343
( As came his friendlier troop to chase the foe)344
Amid the rugged hills their tattered booth,345
With palm-tree’s gathered boughs for shelter made, 346
And peeping low from forest’s wild recess ;347
While she in terror near the portal sat,348
Repast to cook of herbs, uncertain culled349
Amid the wilderness. He came—and smiled,350
As she, with all her crowd of sisters young,351
(Who sought from her the care of mother lost)352
Fled stranger’s* kind approach : but soon her sire353
From search of fruits returned, his friendship knew,354
And she, by kindness won, had learned to love355
The Christian stranger. Thence had peaceful rest356
Returned to bless her sire ; for Hubert’s love357
Had taught his age the sure protection given358
Beneath the British power, and all her friends359
Mid scenes of thriving toil had placed secure ;360
While she through years of many a troublous war361
Had shared his love, and grateful soothed his cares ;362
On battle’s eve had washed his bleeding wounds ;363
In lands where strangers die had shewn the herbs364
To Indian matrons known ; on rugged march365
Had washed his feet, and cooked his eve’s repast,366
And waited duteous near ; nor, oft though urged367
In kindred’s home to live, had left his side368
In toil or fear. His day of honoured rest369
Had now arrived, and she with him enjoyed370
Reward and peace. No name of kindred else371
She sought, and none remained : her aged sire,372
Content and glad, had long at ease remained373
Beside his sons, and loved to see their wealth374
In hoarded savings grow ; till came the tale,375
That peace at last had blessed again his home,376
And slept its wealthy peasant now secure377

* The aversion of the Indians to all strangers is well known. The only name by which
foreigners (even the British) are known in the inland, is, “ Jungulee,” equivalent to
wild men,” and answering literally to the Dutch Bosch-men, and the uncouth Malay
Ourang-outang.
Beneath the British shield ; then late revived378
The slumbering hope that there his length of days379
Yet glad might end : his children, too, rejoiced,380
Of gathered wealth enjoyment there to find,381
And o’er those scenes to walk, whose fostered charms382
In song or tale their sire had loved to paint,383
To sooth their infant years in stranger’s land.384
As thus she spoke, seemed saddest thoughts to cloud385
The youthful Briton’s eye: her words had led 386
His wandering mind to England’s native shore,387
Where he must ne’er return ! The love of home388
Burst o’er his opening heart like pouring flood,389
And swallowed every thought. The walks endeared390
Of earliest days, the scenes of youthful love,391
Like living pictures rose. As mid the wild,392
Where fainting traveller speeds with Arab guide,393
And through the sun-beat desert looks in vain394
For place of sheltering rest, the sudden scenes395
Of towns and fields in airy vision rise396
Before his wondering eye ; * he sees the spires,397
The river’s busy throng, the bustling streets,398
And gay surrounding walks, of beauteous town,399
His destined place of rest ; and listening tries400
To catch the wonted hum that meets the ear,401
From busy city near. Alas ! the scene,402
Mere shadowy form, by wandering radiance shown,403
But cheats with idlest hope his wearied heart,404
And mid the desart melts again to air !405
Thus o’er the Briton’s heart the thoughts of home406
In memory’s vivid trance came pictured bright,407
Recalling wild each hope and latent wish,408
That erst had slept unknown. His wife, his child,409
So long belov’d, seemed now but chains to bind410
His eager steps. The wish was all suppressed,411
But, half unconscious, thus his ardent soul412
Betrayed to eye of love its working thoughts.413
Sweet hopes of native home ! how many a heart414
That pines in cities vast or climes afar415
Is soothed by thee ! Amid the various crowds416
Whom Britain’s fame around her Indian marts417
Continual draws, what heart but fondly looks418
To some dear home for rest! The Arab’s eye,419
With love more deep than even his prophet asked,420
To Mecca daily turns : † the Persian’s heart421
Sends fondest wish with every ship that seeks 422
His lov’d ‡Iran : to wild Tibetian hills,423
ǁFar Erzeroum, and China’s guarded coast424
Or rich Malaya’s isle-bestudded sea,425
How many an anxious sigh is daily sent,426
By strangers met on Britain’s thronged bazars !427
Not all the kind protection there bestowed,428
Can fill the wistful heart that pants for home,429
And seeks but riches here that home to grace.430

* This phenomenon is well known by the French name of Mirage.
† The injunction of Muhummud to his followers, to pray with their faces towards the
Kibh. (direction, —Scotticé, airth) of Mecca, is well known.
‡ Iran, the oriental name of Persia.
ǁ Erzeroum is the principal town of Armenia. The influence of the Armenian priest-
hood over their brethren, the rich merchants of that country dispersed over all Asia, has
long been the subject of remark.
Such hopes as these the stout Telinga cheer,431
Amid his days of toil : the sire, the wife,432
Are all intent to earn ; each eager hand433
To full employment called, the door is latched,434
And all the busy family abroad,435
Save grandam blind, or sire of silvered hair :436
Even softest damsels ply the willing thrift,437
Allured by hopes of home ; and eager toil438
Beneath the mid-day sun in cheerful groupe,439
While gladdening song recalls the scenes beloved440
Of native mountains dear, and vallies wild.441
Such song the traveller stills his pace to hear,442
But may not gaze—for, like the cuckoo wild,443
Whose fairy note from prying footstep flies,444
Their bashful ditty shuns the stranger’s gaze,445
And drops to timid silence. Busier ply446
The maiden groupe their toil, as traveller charmed,447
Awaits their syren note, unconscious they448
Of all the free simplicity of dress449
That gives their forms unveiled a softer grace450
In stranger’s eye, and bids his fancy dream451
Of primal times of innocence and love.452
But near the bashful groupe of damsels young,453
Some aged matron sits, of mien composed,454
And careful eye, to awe unlicenced gaze—455
And, haply too, some infant child to guard,456
Whose new-wed mother plies her customed toil457
Amid companions yet of maiden life ;458
While oft with fondest care her eye is turned459
To where her infant sleeps, and lists her ear460
If chance the sable urchin whimpering wake.461
But all in careless sleep that infant lies,462
From slanting poles in airy hammock swung,463
Secure from speckled snake, and shaded cool464
By densest leaves of banian’s spreading bough—465
And thence at times, with head upraised, he peeps466
To catch his mother’s smile ; as high from nest,467
Amid the rocky steep securely placed,468
The swallow’s youngling eyes its coming dam,469
And looks with wondering gaze on all the scene470
Of world as yet untried—where many a wing471
Thrids swift and strange the airy space below.472
Thus thought the youth, but sooth even whilst he thought473
His purpose all was lost ; amidst the words,474
Where first his wandering speech had found its theme,475
His eye had met Phoolranee’s gaze of love,476
That seemed in anxious grief to scan his thoughts,477
And know his hidden wish for home beloved,478
Herself but hindrance felt ; and whilst she gazed,479
Her child, that saw her grief, had left his lap480
To wipe her starting tear, and kiss her cheek,481
Inquiring why she wept. The infant’s deed 482
Was more than strong reproof ; and love like her’s483
What dream of native land could e’er restore ?484
He owned her worth, and bade her terrors cease—485
Her land was now his home. Old Hubert smiled486
In sympathy with him, and love to her ;487
Then sought in cheerful tale his son to lead488
To gladder thoughts ; or kindliest sought to tell489
With what attentive hand his country tries490
To bless the age of veterans old and worn,491
Whose faithful years in her encounters spent,492
Have all those hopes of blissful home forgone493
That bid the exile mourn,—whose countries far494
In youth or childhood left, are now estranged,495
Nor hold one heart, whose pulse would beat with love,496
To grant the wanderers home. And oft he sought,497
As came the punctual day of month elapsed498
That gives such hoary band the stipend due499
Of age released from toil, his son to lead,500
To meet their gathered groupe. * O’er village plain501
To neighbouring wood they speed, whose shadowy depth502
Is scarcely yet by glimmering dawn illumed,503
There waits the veteran band their destined meed504
By British hand dispensed. At distance seen505
Romantic seems the view like fairy scene,506
Where walk the forms of strange Arabian tale,507
In world for genii framed. Amid the grove,508
Some lean by shadowy banian’s rooted bough,509
With turbaned listeners drawn attentive round ; †510
Whilst some by low enchannelled wall recline,511
That guides the hoarded rill from neighbouring tank512
The plantains green to feed ; by naked tree,513
Whose reddening blossoms deck the leafless branch,514
One waiting groupe is seen ; whilst others walk,515
In lonely meditation, down the ranks516
Of tall columnar palms. Like shadows all517
In silence gliding dim, with languid step518
Of grave-approaching age, and decked with robe519
Of patriarchal time, they seem the ghosts520
Of strange Elysian field, to hero shewn521
Mid regions wild of death. But nearer come,522
And mingling thro’ the crowd, the pictured scene523
That pleased the idle eye, is sudden lost524
In living sympathy : appears around525
In social groupes, a venerable band526
Of aged men, in every various garb527
Of India’s hundred tribes, from many a field528
And many a lengthened war the remnants left ;529
Like dropping leaves that clothe December’s oak,530
When all the forest round has long been stripped.531
They meet and talk ; each face recalls to each532
A thousand gone ; and all the ceaseless hum533
That floats along the breeze from aged tongues534
In words of former years, and names of men535
Long dead. The present world of living things536
Is there forgot ; while hoary memory tells537
Her ghostly tale, and all the ancient groupes538
Commix their stories wild of other years539

* The pensioned veterans assemble monthly, from their different villages, at the near-
est British station to receive their allowances. The scene presented on such occasions is
extremely interesting ; as well as the exultation with which these Indians are often heard
to contrast the punctual regularity of the British payments with the uncertain and scram-
bling distributions afforded by the native powers to their dependants.
† The water is preserved in wells during the dry season, whence it is drawn by many
awkward contrivances for the use of the gardens. The buckets are frequently of earthen-
ware. A number of these are attached to a web of ropes, suspended in the well by pass-
ing over a revolving cylinder, by which means they are emptied and filled without assist-
ance from the hand. The water flows from thence into a trough leading to certain small
aquaducts, made on walls, which are raised about two feet from the ground ; and which
afford a sufficient descent to carry the water a considerable distance over the inequalities of
the fields or gardens.
And generations gone. Old Hubert sees540
In each an ancient friend, and passing reads541
In every face a history, where else,542
As strangers see in armies ranged for shew,543
Were merely pictures dumb. His ready tale544
Thus bids his son the various soldiers know545
That pass around. Yon dark Telinga old,546
Whose ebon cheek is decked with silvery beard,547
Like glade of snow ’ mid hill of wintry pines,548
Has o’er Malayan seas and Bornean Gulf,549
Through every lurking bay and islet wild,550
The pirate chaced. There, leaning o’er his staff,551
He boasts to listening crowds, that now secure,552
Protected safe by ship where he has fought,553
The weak Chinese may steer his crowded bark554
With curious riches fraught, thro’ every strait555
Where savage Buggis haunted once the creeks,556
And darted plundering forth. Of lighter tints557
Yon tall Mahratta seems, on upland plains558
A mountain soldier bred ; his veteran eye,559
Tho’ dimmed by age, yet glows with parting fire,560
Like beacon shining far amid the gray561
Approach of cloudy morn ; his ardent youth562
On Ras-ol-Khyma, den of pirates, saw563
The British thunder burst. See, both are met,564
Their tales to interchange of British war565
On China’s Yellow Seas, or Yemen’s Red,566
From orient Timor’s far and wildest bound567
To Afric’s haunted shore, where ocean’s width568
Of pirate bands was cleared. See, lonely stalks569
Yon Rajahpoot, on northern mountains bred,570
By age not lessening strength released from toil,571
Whose tribe’s whole craft is arms,—whose fathers passed572
Their unrewarded lives amid the bands573
Of Indian prince : —he boasts his better fate,574
That rose in British camp to rank and wealth,575
And now in honoured age enjoys the meed576
To faith and valour due ; his children, called577
To join the war where late their father fought,578
Await, like him, the soldier’s fair reward,579
Or wealth, or honoured death (the prospect sole580
Their tribe requires) nor desperate need to join, 581
As wont their sires of old, the lawless chief,582
Whose hated bands were fed to savage strength583
For plundering war. One veteran walks apart,584
Whose cheek in thinner garment careless wrapped,585
Scarce heeds the chilling morn ; he smiles to mark586
His shivering comrades muffled close from air,587
With turbands folded thick, and mantles drawn588
Around their heads.—Observe his fairer hue,589
That tells his mountain birth, and youth inured590
To hills of Rohilcund and Indian snows.591
Through many a clime his riper years have passed592
Of insalubrious name ; o’er wilds of Cutch,593
Where sluggish flows the Run ; Barodrah, hid594
Amid the full Nerbuddah’s aguish plain,595
The Jungles* deep of southern Malabar,596
And arid plains that parch the traveller’s life597

* Wild woodlands ; situations of all others the most unhealthy, often proving fatal to
those who go there even on the short excursions of the chase, or of botany.
In Middle Ind. All these his years have seen598
And traced in all the fierce Pindarrie’s* haunt, 599
Yet triumph still in sinews unsubdued.600
Yon man of stooping age, whose shivering limbs601
Scarce patient seem the chilly morn to bear,602
Was once a soldier stout : the Ebon staff,603
Where press his leaning hands, is trophy ta’en604
From arbor, loved by old Tippoo Sultaun,605
In triumph half, and half in pity kept. 606
Yon Moslem old, from earliest chiidhood bred607
Amid the British camp, scarce deigns to own608
A different kindred ; flows the English tongue609
Like native Hindoostānee o’er his speech ;610
And oft with pride the hardy veteran tells 611
How side by side he stood with English bands,612
To meet on isles of France the Frenchman’s sword,†613
And drive him headlong back. That glory shared614
Yon dark Hindoo, whose mien, subdued and mild,615
Seems scarce for soldier meet ; yet firm and brave,616
By Briton’s side he met the shock of fight617
Like Coral—soft amid its native deeps,618
Yet charmed to firmest strength in upper air.619
And see where stalks, with folded arms and slow,620
Yon tall Bungalla : trained to all the skill621
Of British war, he joined the fierce assault622
That burst Batavia’s iron lines, and tamed,623
Thro’ smoke and blood, Cornelis desperate. fort : †624
A faithful soldier he ; yet strict to hold625
Each rite of Brahman faith : with proud contempt626
The newer sects he views, from Indian faith627
By stranger’s arts allured, as traveller sees628
The crumbling stones by idle Arabs torn629
From vast Egyptian pyramid, whose heighth,630
Through countless time, yet unimpaired remains.631
Thus through the various groupe the veteran’s tale632
Discursive roved ; and oft with grateful heart633
Would bid his son remark, how through the gloom634
Of feeblest age each soldier smiled content,635
And rested gladsome o’er his staff of Eld,636
Secure in British faith, where waning years637
For youthful toil with large rewards are paid.638
And then would Hubert piteous seek the groupe639
Of soldier’s widows near : ——Some wandering lone640
Amid the distant trees, or leaning sad641
Beneath the Jaca, laden with giant fruit ; ‡642
With orphans some, a mournful burthen, charged,643
Their hope at once, and grief ; and childless some,644
With no consoler near, save soldier-old,645
Their husband’s ancient friend, who oft had shared646
In wounds with him, and pestilence of camps647
Their nursing care.—Now, silent here and lone,648

* Most readers will know, that Pindarrie, is merely the Hinduwee word signifying
Robber. The habits of the predatory race, to whom this name has been latterly restricted,
bear a great resemblance to those of the well known Moss-troopers of border song.
† The bravery and good conduct of the native troops, under their English officers,
both at the capture of the Mauritius and of Batavia, will be long remembered. At both
these places, particularly the former, they came immediately into contact with European
antagonists, and did not one jot disgrace the character of British soldiers.
‡ The Iaca is a species of what is called the Bread Fruit-tree ; its fruit is considerably
larger than an ordinary sized cucumber.
With none to yield them love, and none to seek649
With fond caress their soft connubial care,650
They droop forlorn : and yet, whate’er the hand651
Of power can do, the widow’s heart to cheer 652
Is here in kindness tried ; no bitter fear653
Of haggard want shall haunt her feeble Eld,654
And bid her children weep ; her husband’s lord655
Is her protector still, and fills her hand656
With competence :  And here perchance she meets657
With other widowed dame, whose youthful son658
Has won her daughter’s love, and led her forth659
To share his fate, and like her mother sooth660
Amid the toil of camps the soldier’s cares. 661
How fair the bonds of love ! the mothers too662
Are thus conjoined, and each, in lonely Eld,663
Finds pleasures new by kindness interchanged,664
And hopes commingled fond in grandchild born.665
But ’ mid the veteran bands, one friendlier voice666
Meets Hubert’s ear, and bids his step return : —667
The aged Nursoo, long his comrade loved668
In days of war. For Nursoo’s faithful years669
In British warfare many a clime had seen670
From green Ceylon to Kgypt’s northern lands ;671
And many a fight the proud medallions told672
Had decked his breast. With him the veteran loves673
Beneath the shadowy grove, where sweet at morn674
The juicy palm-tree pours her Indian* wine,675
Too scan the wars and intervals of peace676
That pleased their youth. Old Nursoo loves to tell677
Of days of calm amid his native glens,678
When sent with English arms to guard the vale679
Where passed his youth, he met her kinsmen old680
With welcome throned in every brightening eye ;681
And saw the peasants urge their toil secure,682
Or yield their thanks for his protection given,683
Where war late raged, and where his youth had seen,684
Beneath each fieldward tree the ploughman’s arms,685
Who, trembling, strewed his field with hopeless seed,686
While lurked the plunderers near. Nor less the heart687
Of English Hubert loves to trace the time688
When ’ mid those Indian vales his days had passed689
In sweet respite from war ; his sole employ690
The beaten foe from rocky towers to watch,691
And guard with Sepoy† band the peaceful vale ;692
While all the love the grateful Indians bore693
To generous England, centered sole in him,694
Lone English slater mid their wondering crowds.695
Unblessed their rites of village splendor seemed,696

* The toddy, or palm-wine, is produced from three species of the palm, the cocoa, the
date, and what is called the crab-tree : Those trees from which the juice or wine is drawn,
produce no fruit. The juice is received from the stump of the fruit-bearing branches by
means of a small earthen pot, into which the end of the branch is fixed ; it is removed
every morning and evening, but is seldom used by Europeans, except in the morning, the
heat of the sun giving it a disagreeable sourness, when it oozes from the tree during the
day. Many of the natives, on the contrary, prefer it in its acid state, and prepare from it,
by boiling with garlic and spices, a beverage which is perfectly nauseating to European
palates, but of which they are very fond. The palm-wine, when kept for a certain time,
is also used as vinegar ; and when distilled yields an inferior kind of spirituous liquor ;
when boiled in its fresh state, the residuum is a kind of coarse sugar.
Sepoy, (Sipahi, Spahi) is the Arabic word signifying soldier ; it is now generally
used to signify an Indian soldier in the British service.
Ere came their English guest the scene to view ; —697
Each marriage-feast with fondest care was decked,698
When his expected presence graced the cot ; —699
And every village elder’s kind Salam,700
And smiling peasant’s daily gift of fruit,701
To softest kindness soothed his grateful heart,702
And wakes remembrance kind. But theme like this703
Of idling peace, old Nursoo less delights,704
Than tale of battles gained where Sepoy bands705
With faithful step unshrinking, urged advance706
Where’er the boldest British heart could lead,707
As troop the sprites of witched Arabian lamp708
Where’er the Sovereign Genie calls their aid.709
Nor less that veteran Nursoo loved to tell710
Of magic powers, by sprites attendant wrought711
(For Indian men beheld) which round her camp712
Still showered for Britain’s troops abundance down,713
And strewed Bungalan harvests o’er the wild714
To feed secure her banded armies vast.715
Then launched he forth in grateful word to shew,716
How ’ mid the crowded camp, where black disease717
Filled every soul with fear, the British art718
Spread o’er the soldier’s life her wings of health,719
And tended careful all his tedious ills.—720
What contrast strange to scenes of Indian war !721
(For Nursoo’s youth had Scindia’s campments seen)722
Where misdirected valour useless raged,723
And each rebelling soldier blamed his chief,724
While plague and famine gnawed their armies strength.725
And oft the aged veteran blessed his gods726
That, since their hands had formed his fate for war,727
Their kind decrees had sent him forth to fight728
Beneath the buckler hung on British arm.729
Nor undelighted lists the partial ear730
Of aged Hubert, hearing thus the praise731
Of native England spoke by Indian tongue.732
For,—distant far from home,—his sleeping wish733
By no fond hopes ere waked to seek return—734
His country’s fame to him was country now,735
And those who owned to Britain grateful love,736
His opening heart as countrymen received.737
And oft with them the patriot veteran loves738
To sooth the moodier thoughts that haunt the hours739
Of aimless age, when turns the languid mind740
To thoughts of youthful days, and wild regret,741
With saddening cloud, bedims the cheering gleam742
That o’er his eve of life all brightening plays.743
END OF PART FIRST.