quer the contiguous plains, and form one more exception to general uniformity. If the variable proportions of clay and sand, and the circumstances of frequent alterations in the channels of rivers, be con. sidered, great inequality of soil may be expected, though it be composed of few substances.

• In his progress through Bengal, the traveller will not confine himself to remark the natural diversity in the aspect of the country, but will compare the neat habitations of the peasants, who reside in hilly regions, with the wretched huts of those who inhabit the plain ; and the contrast may suggest a reflection, how little the richest productions and most thriving manufactures contribute to the general comfort of the people at large.' Calculations are made to ascertain the amount of the

popu, łation, the whole of which, including the province of Benares, the author estimates at not less than 27,000,000, and he states the number of acres in tillage at 31,335,570. The line of the poet

“ Man wants but little here below" applies with singular justice to the inhabitants of Bengal, who live chiefly on rice and salt, and for whose annual consumption the produce of one acre of tilled ground nearly suffices.

Among the articles of Asiatic husbandry, are enumerated, rice, corn, pulse of different kinds, mustard, linseed, sesamum, palmachristi for the purpose of obtaining vegetable oils, tobacco, sugar, indigo, cotton, poppy, and the mulberry for silk.worms. The mode of culture in all cases is very simple :

* The plough is drawn by a single yoke of oxen, guided by the ploughman himself. Two or three pairs of oxen, assigned to each plough, relieve each other, until the daily task be completed. Several ploughs in succession deepen the same furrows, or rather scratch the surface ; for the implement, which is used throughout India, wants a contrivance for turning the earth, and the share has neither width nor depth to stir a new soil. A second ploughing crosses the first, and a third is sometimes given diagonally to the preceding, These frequently repeated, and followed by the substitute for the hai. low, pulverise the surface, and prepare it for the reception of seed. The field must be watched for several days, after it has been sown, to defend it from the depredations of numerous flocks of birds. This is commonly the occupation of children, stationed to scare the birds from the new sown ground. It is also necessary to prolong the defence of the field in those districts which are much infested by wild boars, buffalves, and deer. For this purpose a stage is crected, and a watchman is stationed on it at night to scare wild animals, should they approach. In all districts, mays and some sorts of millet, when nearly arrived at maturity, generally need defence from the depredations of birds by day and of large bats by night. For this purpose, also, a watchman is placed on an elevated stage ; and other expediente, common in all couotries, are likewise resorted to. These expedients

add neither to the expense nor to the toils of husbandry; but the employment of watchmen must be counted as some addition to the labour of agriculture.'

A long chapter details the tenures of occupants, the property of the soil, rents and duties, &c., but we shall pass this over, as not very intelligible to the European reader.

It does not appear that the profits of farming are considerable in Bengal, though the price of labour is less than 2d. sterling per day. We are informed that, of all rural objects, the Bengal peasant is most attached to his native soil by his Orchard:

• He feels a superstitious predilection for the trees planted by his ancestor, and derives comfort and even profit from their fruit. Orchards of mango trees diversify the plains in every part of Bengal. The delicious fruit, exuberantly borne by them, is a wholsome variety in the diet of the Indian, and affords him gratification and even nou. rishment. The palmyra abounds in Bihar: the juice extracted, by wounding its summit, becomes, when fermented, an intoxicating beverage, which is eagerly sought by numerous natives, who violate the precepts of both the Hindu and Mahomedan religions by the use of inebriaiing liquors. The coco nut thrives in those parts of Bengal which are not remote from the tropic: this nut contains a milky juice grateful to the palate, and is so much sought by the Indian, that it even becomes an object of exportation to distant provinces. The date-tree grows every where, but especially in Bihar; the wounded trunk of this tree yields a juice which is similar to that of the palmyra, and from which sugar is not unfrequently extracted. Plantations of areca are common in the centrical parts of Bengal : its nut, which is universally consumed throughout India, affords considerable profit to the planters. The bassia thrives even on the poorest soils, and abounds in the hilly districts; its inflated corols are esculent and nutritious, and yield by distillation an intoxicating spirit; and the oil, which is expressed from its seed, is in mountainous countries a common substitute for butter.'

On the preparation of Opium, the commerce of which is monopolized by the English Company, this brief notice is subjoined:

• The preparation of the raw opium is under the immediate superintendence of the agent or of the contractor.

It consists in evaporating, by exposure to the sun, the watery particles, which are replaced by oil of poppy seed, to prevent the drying of the resin. The opium is then formed into cakes, and covered with the petals of the poppy; and, when sufficiently dried, it is packed in chests, with frage ments of the capsules from which poppy-seeds have been thrashed

• This preparation, though simple, requires expert workmen able to detect the many adulterations which are practised on the raw juice. The adulteration of prepared opium is yet more difficult to discover. It has been supposed to be commonly vitiated with an

extract recent


extract from the leaves and stalk of the poppy, and with gum of ihe mimosa ; other foreign admixtures have been conjectured, such as cow dung, gums, and resins, of various sorts, and parched rice.

. The facility of adulterating opium, and the consequent necessity of precautions against such fraude, are circuinstances which would justify the monopoly, were it even objectionable on other considerations. In a free commerce, the quality might probably be mote debased to the injury of the export-trade.'

Hints which appear to us not unworthy of notice are offered in the conclusion of the work, for the improvement of the internal commerce of Bengal; for enlarging our trade to the East in the articles of sugar, cotton, silk, indigo, and saltpetre ; and for encouraging the importation thence of cotton-yarn instead of cotton wool, of starch, liquorice, ginger, arnotto, and various other articles. The author would even attempt the culture of tea in British India. It is impossible for us to decide how far these speculations are founded : but men of experience will appreciate their value. Much, no doubt, is capable of being effected; and they deserve well of their country, who endeavour by judicious advice to call forth the energies of every department of our extensive empire.

The new orthography of proper names, here introduced, the author justifies by his critical knowlege of the Sanscrit.

ART. Vít. Travels after the Peace of Amiens, through Parts of

France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany. By J. G. Lemaistre, Esq., Author of " a Rough Sketch of Modern Paris." 3 Vols.

8vo. 1l. 48. Boards. Johnson. 1806. TE "HESE volumes may be regarded as the sequel of the Sketch

of Paris, reported in the 40th volume of our New Series, p. 377. ; since they contain an account of the author's pere. grinations from the day on which he quitted the French ca. pital, till bis arrival in England.-With the view of sparing many unpleasant repetitions, and of apologizing for the apparent brevity of our notice, we beg leave to offer a few general strictures, which will apply to nearly the whole of the public cation.

With greater ingenuity and acuteness than seem to have fallen to his share, the author might certainly have exhibited a more striking view of the state of manners and society, and have appreciated with more distinctness and effect the beneficial and mischievous results of the great political agitations which had just convulsed the government of Europe. His observations are generally, impartial, and conveyed in the plain language of a man of good sense : but, when they touch on REY. Oct. 1806.


Tecent events, they seldom rise above the tone of a newspaper and when they assume a more general complexion, they are not only deficient in sprightliness, but usually so trite and undisputed, as to add to the intrinsic heaviness of the narrative. Mr. Lemaistre, moreover, borrows and quotes, with unwegried perseverance, from authors of established popularity. Lalande and Addison contribute frequent notifications in the first and part of the second volume ; and Lumesden's Antiquities of Rome enter into the composition of the greatest part of the third. Some sentences from Gibbon are occasionally introduced by way of variety, and even Goldsmith's Roman History is not wholly overlooked. Many pages, too, are devoted to dry catalogues of paintings and statues; and not a few to the hackneyed topics of uncomfortable accommodation, imposing innkeepers, intractable postillions, and dangerous roads. To these we may add Mrs. Lemaistre's terrors of the sea, of a dark night, or of a hilly road, which obtain their due share of tender commemoration. In vindication of the prolixity of his details on the antiquities and productions of art in Rome, the author reminds us that they cost him much trouble, and that they are the principal objects which attract travellers to that celebrated city. In reply, we have only to observe that a writer may give himself a great deal of trouble without procuring much ease or entertainment for his reader ; that the task of enumerating and describing the master-pieces of sculpture and design had been already performed by able hands; and that such compilations, as those through which we have waded in the present third volume, may be executed with tolerable accuracy within the precincts of a well appointed library at home. We wish not to insinuate that this traveller is incapable of exciting interest : but he appears to have been more ambitious of spreading his materials over three volumes than of condensing them into one, or of moulding the mass into a duly attempered compound of precision and variety.

We shall now rapidly acconipany him on the map; extract ing, as we proceed, a few of those passages which are most calculated to gratify the general reader.

The first journey is by the way of Fontainebleau, Sens, and Dijon, to Lyons. From the heavy and cruel losses which the last mentioned city sustained, in consequence of its resistance to the new order of things, its inhabitants still retain a decided hatred to the name of republic.

Mr. Lemaistre's visit to Ferney is related with considerable interest : but we pass it over, to make room for the en-uing notices of some other distinguished particulars :


• Soon after Mr. Gibbon became an inhabitant of Lausanne, a lady of beauty and talents made such an impression on the heart of the historian, that he could not resist the impulse of love ; and, falling on his knees, he declared his passion. The object of his affection heard unmoved his petition, and, in spite of the eloquence of her lover, was deaf to his entreaties. The disappointed Damon attempted to rise : he tried in vain : his weighty person, unaccustomed to such a position, was not so easily restored to its proper balance. The lady, fearing that some person might discover her admirer in this awkward situation. forgot her anger, and endeavoured with all her might to raise him from the ground : her at rength was unequal to the task; and, after several in effectual struggles both in the author and the lady, the latter was obliged to ring the bell, and to order her astonished servant to raise the prostrate scholar. The story, as might be expected became public the following morning, and entertained for some days the gossiping circles of this little town.

• But, notwithstanding the general esteem which Mr. Gibbon entertained for the fair sex, and not withstanding this striking proof of daring gallantry, I have been assured by a person who enjoyed the confidence of that distinguished man, that the historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, though he has frequently described in glowing colours, and perhaps in some pages with lascivious freedom, the passion of love, wag a stranger to its pleasures, and that he passed his life in a state of singular and rigid chastity.

Another story, though of a different kind, is equally characteristic. Mr. Gibbon, finding himself indisposed, sent for a physician. The doctor, judging from the appearance of his patient that his illness, which was but slight, simply arose from repletion, recommended abstinence. Three days afterwards he received a letter from the his. torian, couched in pressing terms, but still in well rounded sentences, requiring his immediate presence at his house. On his arrival there he found Mr. Gibbon dreadfully altered : his cheeks, usually plump, had now fallen, his complexion was sallow, and his person

emaciated. The physician anxiously inquired the cause of this sudden and unex. pected change. “Sir,” said his learned patient, “to follow with religious exactitude the ordinances of him whom I consult as my medi. cal adviser, is a principle from which I have never yet ventured to depart ; but at this instant I am the victim of obedience, and of a doctrine which I still believe to be generally salutary. You will recollect, sir, that when last I had the honor of seeing you, you admonished me to abstain from animal food. Three days have elapsed since I received your injunctions, and during that period the only food which has passed these lips has been a beverage of watergruel: I have con. sequently become languid ; and am now desirous of a more nutritious aliment; but, presuming not to interfere in a science which I do not understand, and having placed the direction of my health under the guidance of your professional skill, I have awaited, I will not say without impatience, the repetition of your visit : I now attend your prders.” The physician, who had not called during this interval simply because he conceived Mr. Gibbon had no occasion for further advice, now rang the bell, and, instead of writing a prescription, or.


M 2

« ElőzőTovább »