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Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 423 Volume 17, New Series, February 7, 1852   By:

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CHAMBERS' EDINBURGH JOURNAL

CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS, EDITORS OF 'CHAMBERS'S INFORMATION FOR THE PEOPLE,' 'CHAMBERS'S EDUCATIONAL COURSE,' &c.

No. 423. NEW SERIES. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1852. PRICE 1 1/2 d.

UP THE INDUS.

Three years ago, I received orders to proceed from KurĂ¢chee to Roree by the river route, for the purpose of joining the siege train then assembling for the reduction of Mooltan. Subsequent events caused my final destination to be changed to Sukkur. Although my journey was thus not so long as I had both expected and wished, yet I had an opportunity of seeing some three or four hundred miles of a river that the records of the past, and the anticipations of the future, alike combine to render interesting, and which in itself differs in many respects from the other rivers of India. My position in life that of a non commissioned officer of the ordnance department has prevented me from gleaning information on the subject, either from books or official sources; but it may be that a narration of what I merely saw , will not prove altogether without interest for those who must run while they read who have neither time, nor perhaps inclination, to acquire any more than a superficial knowledge of distant countries.

Having been provided with a passage in one of the steamers of the Indus flotilla, and informed that the vessel was to start at daybreak on the following morning, I hastened to procure the necessary documents to authorise my obtaining ten days' sea rations from the commissariat department. The following was the proportion of food for each day, and I may remark, that I received it from government gratis, with the exception of the spirits, as I was proceeding on field service: 1 lb. of biscuits, 1 lb. of salt beef or pork, 1 4th of 1 lb. of rice, 1 oz. and 2 7ths of sugar, 5 7ths of 1 oz. of tea, and 2 drams, or about 1 4th of a bottle of arrack, 24 degrees under proof. Having secured the provant, my mind was now perfectly at ease, and I leisurely set about completing my arrangements for the voyage. These consisted mainly in locking my only box, and tying up in a cotton quilt a blanket and the thick sheet of goat's hair felt that served me for a bed. It was dark before I left camp; and as I was detained a considerable time at the bunder or landing place, waiting for a boat to take me off to the steamer, it was late in the night when I got on board.

The steam boat was about the size of the largest of those that ply above bridge on the Thames. When I had scrambled on deck, I found that the forepart of the vessel was crowded with the bodies of natives, every one of whom was testifying the soundness of his repose by notes both loud and deep. Having selected the only spot where there was room even to sit down, I began, in a somewhat high key, to warble a lively strain calculated to cheer the drooping spirits of such of my neighbours as had that evening undergone the pang of parting from their friends. This proceeding soon had the effect of drawing all eyes upon me, and, indeed, not a few of the tongues also; for the now thoroughly awakened sleepers with great want of taste growled out, at the expense both of myself and of my performance, sundry maledictions, with a fervency peculiar to the country, until at length I may say I was clad with curses as with a garment. At this juncture, I took out of my provision bag a remarkably fine piece of pork, and began to contemplate it by the light of the moon with the critical eye of a connoisseur. The reader is no doubt aware, that among the natives of India the popular prejudice does not run in favour of this wholesome article of food; and perhaps to this fact I must attribute it that the surrounding Mussulmans and Hindoos became wondrously polite all on a sudden, and left a wide circle vacant around me, so that I had ample room to make down my bed; nor was I disturbed from a hearty sleep till the morning... Continue reading book >>


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