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feelings, or from the absurd appearance I
must have made in listening to the astounding
revelations of the prophetic lecturer, I
cannot say. It is delightful to see girls laugh,
expecially when they are young and have
good teeth, so I encouraged them in their
mirth by seeming intensely interested in the
whole affair. This behaviour apparently
pleased the assembly, especially Mr. Slockum.
He came up to me as the company began to
disperse, and invited me in the warmest and
friendliest manner to spend the evening at
Mr. Mudd's, for I found that hospitality in
this astonishing district was almost as
vicarious as the information was antediluvian.
I accepted with the greatest pleasure, and
shook hands with a great number of people
as they were going out, who all expressed the
greatest happiness in the prospect of seeing
me again. From this I gathered that the
whole parish was about to honour Mr. Mudd
with its presence; And in order to do justice
to the brilliant assemblage, and get myself
into perfectly good humour, I ordered the
best dinner Mr. Smith could furnish, and a
bottle of old Port that should do honour to
the Queeker Arms.


We people in this western world have, in
our time, not less than those who went before
us, been witnesses of many acts of eccentric
and exaggerated faith. We have seen
this virtue dressed in many a guise, tricked
out in many a hue. We have seen it in
the meanest and the highest. Johanna
Southcote, and Thorn, and several others in
their time put the old Saxon faith of this
country to a pretty severe test; in the present
day Mr. Price passes it through a comfortable
Oriental ordeal at his Agapemone. In the
countries of southern Europe for ages past,
we know how Catholic faith has been
experimented upon by means of old bones,
old coats, pieces of decayed timber, and
weeping images; whilst Protestant faith
has been staked, and burnt, and hanged, and
cut into very small pieces. I will say nothing
of secular faithof faith in Cock Lane
ghosts, in the Volunteer Apostles described
in a recent number of Household Words,
and of the Mysterious Rappings which have
lately so wondrously thriven in the United

What is cold, dwarfed, European faith,
when compared with the huge monstrous
faith of the barbarous land of the sun? The
two will no more bear comparison than
will the Surrey Hills compare with the
Himalayas, or the Thames and the Garonne
bear being mentioned beside the Ganges and
the Burrumpootra. The scenes I am about
to relate are not selected for their rarity
or for any peculiarity about them; they may
be met with at any of the many festivals, or
Poojahs, throughout India proper.

The village at which the Poojah I witnessed
was held, was not very far distant from one
of the leading cities of Bengal, a city numbering
possibly half a million of inhabitants,
with a highly populous country round about
it for many a league. The reader will, therefore,
readily imagine the crowding and rushing
which took place from all sides, to witness
the festival of deity in whom all believed,
for, away from the south, there are
comparatively but few of any other faith than

It was high noon when I arrived on the
ground in my palanquin; and by favour of
the friendship of the British collector of
Howdahpore I was admitted within the most
privileged circle, and took up my stand beneath the
pleasant shade of a wide-spreading Jambo tree.
I had time and opportunity to note the place
and the people; for the sacred operations had
not as yet commenced. The spot we were
assembled in was in an extensive valley
lightly wooded at intervals, and commanding
a picturesque view of a rather wide river
which flowed on to Howdahpore, and was
now busy with many boats loaded with
passengers. On the river bank nearest to us, a
number of bamboo and leaf sheds had been
hastily erected, in which carousals and
amusements of various kinds were in progress or
preparation. Flowers decorated the ample
doorways, and hung festooned from many a
roof; while high above, wooing in vain a
passing breeze and brightly glaring in the
noon-day tropic sun, gay streamers drooped
in burning listlessness. From the topmost
summits of some of the loftiest treesand
they are lofty herelong tapering poles
extended other flags and strips of coloured
cloth. In cool, shady nooks, where clumps
of spreading jungle kindly grew, at other
times the haunts of fiercest tigers, or worse,
of cruel Thugs, small knots of Hindoo families
of rank were grouped in silent watchfulness.
The lordly Zemindar of the district; the
exacting Tulukdhar, the terror of village
ryots; the grinding Putindhar: all these
were there in eastern feudal pomp.

Far as the eye could reach, the rich green
valley teemed with human life. Thousands
on thousands flocked from many a point, and
pressed to where the gaudy flags and beating
drums told of the approaching Poojah. The
steady hum of the vast multitude seemed
like the ocean's fall on some far distant shore.
Grief, joy, pain, pleasure, prayers and songs,
blended with howling madness, or cries of
devotees, in one strange, stormy discord; the
heat and glare, the many new and striking
garbs, the sea of dusky visages and brightly
glaring eyes, mixed with the varied gorgeous
foliage, and flinging into contrast the lovely
gentleness of distant hills and woods, made
up a whole not easy to forget, yet difficult to

But my attention was before long directed
to some preparations in progress not far from