William and Robert Chambers,
Text on page A-20
made of the New Testament, one by the Serampore missionaries, and the other by Mr Pritchard, of the London Missionary Society.
The only mode of inland travelling in India is by palankeen; and, in the hot season, at night only. Bungalows are built by government, on some principal roads, where travellers may spend the day, and where a servant is retained, who gets what you require to eat. They are generally comfortable brick houses, having several apartments, and furnished with chairs, tables, and sometimes bedsteads.
In this part of India, a "set of bearers" consists of twelve men ; ten to carry the palankeen, one cooley to carry the baggage, and a musalche. Six bearers carry at a time, and four trot along to take their turns, and relieve the others, about every quarter of a mile. The cooley carries the baggage in tin boxes, made for the purpose, called banguy boxes, suspended from a pole on the shoulder. The musalche, or torch-bearer, has a hard roll of rags, four or five feet long, as thick as one's wrist, and oil in a copper goblet, with a very small mouth. When he trims his lamp, he has only to knock off the snuff against a tree, and pour on a little more oilaa process which reminds one constantly of the parable of the virgins. Every traveller is obliged to have his own palankeen, in which he takes his carpet bag and some books, and c., hanging on the outside his tea-kettle, hat-box, and goblet of drinking-water. Notwithstanding the loss of time incurred by changing hands so frequently, your speed averages about four miles an hour ; often more. In travelling post, as I did, fresh bearers are had every twelve or fifteen miles. By starting when the sun gets low, and not stopping till eight or nine o'clock next morning, you may go sixty or seventy miles of a night. On roads where no bearers are posted, and where special expedition is not wanted, a single set of bearers is employed, who go journeys of any length, and average thirty miles a-day, travelling either in the day or night, as you prefer. 1 chose to travel by night, not only because the sun was oppressive during the day, but because it prevented loss of time, and gave me the day to be with missionaries at the different stations.
On two or three occasions I was obliged to spend the day at bungalows, and greatly enjoyed the cool quietude of these resting-places. The solitude was delightful and refreshing to my spirit, as well as advantageous in enabling me to bring up arrears in my memorandums.
This mode of conveyance has indeed the advantage of a recumbent posture; but the motion was to me excessively wearisome, and, with some bearers, even painful. I liked a palankeen in Calcutta very well, where the bearers are accomplished, and the distances short. But this hasty journey of 500 miles wore me out, so that I could scarcely stand. The expense with post-bearers is twenty five cents per mile, which, though dear for the traveller, is an extremely small sum to be divided among fourteen men, who have also to walk back again; making their pay but about a cent per mile for each, for very severe labour. To take one set of bearers for a whole journey costs less.
Leaving Madras, February 13, 1837, I proceeded from forty to sixty miles each night. The road led through Villacherry, Caliabaucum, Trepaloor, Allatoor, Maubiliveram, Sadras, Alumparva, Canjimere, Colla-coopum, Pondiclierry, Cuddalore, Poondiacoopurn, Chil-lumbrum, Sheally, Myaveram, Trivellungaud, Comba-conum, Paupanasum," and numerous smaller towns ; and across the rivers Paular, or Palaur, Cunnabaur, Gaddelum, Pettanaur, Vellaur, Coleroon, Cvery, and c. Several of these are mouths of the Cvery.
The first stage kept us along the seaside, every surge laving the bearers' feet, and my old acquaintance, ocean, the only object of my regard. The rest of the way is through a wild and poor country, though with many towns and villages. Immediately around Pondicherry, and all the country from thence to Tanjore, is a garden.
From Tanjore to Trichinopoly is a desert, which extends in a broad stripe to Cape Comorin. The district of country through which this road carried me, forms the central portion of the Carnatic, and comprehends the former dominions of the nabob of Arcot. It came under the British power in 1801.
A few hours were devoted to a rapid survey of Pondicherry, reputed to be much the handsomest town in India. * No native huts disfigure the streets, as these are all placed separately in the suburbs. There is but little business now done here, and but one foreign vessel lay in the roadstead. The Jesuits have a college and a church here, and the Capuchins a church. Many of the natives have adopted the Catholic faith ; but it has done little for their improvement. The French are prohibited by treaty from keeping many troops, and the whole city looks silent and languishing.
Cuddalore, on the Panaur, fifty-two miles from Pondicherry, is the first station on this route where there are English. It is one of the great stations where soldiers are placed, who, from having married native women, or other causes, choose to remainin the country after serving out their time, or becoming invalids. A few effective troops also are stationed here. The Episcopal chaplain, the Rev. Mr Hallowell, received me with great kindness, in the absence of the missionary. The invalids and pensioners are obliged to attend worship, and with the gentry, form a large and attentive congregation. The missionary, the Rev. Mr Jones, devotes himself to the natives. This was a station of the Christian Knowledge Society so early as 1737, but has nAt been constantly occupied. Mr Jones arrived in 1834, and is able to preach in the vernacular. He found Mi* Rosen's church, and ten schools, which Mr Hallowell had superintended for five years. He has baptised some adults and many children, and increased the number of schools. One of these is for girls. The whole now contain 540 children. Mr Jones has two Tamul services on the Sabbath, and two in the week. The congregation consists chiefly of nominal Christians. They amount to more than 300, among whom are many of the native wives of European soldiers.
Though I passed within an hour or two of Tranque-bar, it seemed of no use to visit it, as there is now almost no visible effect of missionary labour there. Nor is there any missionary, the last one having accepted the office of chaplain to government. A few of the schools are continued by government ; but there are only 300 nominal Christians, and the mission is entirely relinquished. The causes of this total abrogation of a long-established mission deserve investigation. Abundant materials exist as to the history of the men and measures ; and the question is of great importance. It is the opinion of some of the best-informed persons in that region, that many of the missionaries have been unconverted men. If such be the fact, the wonder ceases.
A more beautiful country than that from Cuddalore to Tanjore can hardly be imagined. The dense population and rich soil give their energies to each other, and produce a scene of surpassing loveliness. But the taxes, and other causes, keep down the labourers to a state below that of southern slaves. The labour of carrying agriculture to perfection, under a cloudless sky, wholly by artificial irrigation, is of course immense-The water is obtained, either from the river by small I canals, or from tanks and wells by pecottas.A more beautiful country than that from Cuddalore to Tanjore can hardly be imagined. The dense population and rich soil give their energies to each other, and produce a scene of surpassing loveliness. But the taxes, and other causes, keep down the labourers to a state below that of southern slaves. The labour of carrying agriculture to perfection, under a cloudless sky, wholly by artificial irrigation, is of course immense-The water is obtained, either from the river by small I canals, or from tanks and wells by pecottas.