+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

huge packing-cases and crates, and sorting
out their contents into heaps; but I never
remembered to have seen a single customer
within his shop. How the man lived was,
for a long time, a perfect mystery to me; but
I learnt at length that he disposed of his
purchases entirely by means of itinerant
hawkers who, armed with a yard-measure
and a pair of scales, and followed by a pack
of loaded coolies groaning under huge tin
cases and buffalo-skin trunks, perambulated
from town to village, from house to hut; and
by dint of wheedling, puffing, and flattering,
succeeded in returning with a bag full of
rupees and pice.

For Number Sixty-two I entertained a
more than ordinary respect. Unlike his
Moorish brethren he possessed a remarkably
rational name; — Saybo Dora. Originally a
hawker, he had by his steady conduct won
the confidence of the merchants, who sup
plied him with goods wherewith to open a
store, at a time when such places did not
exist in town. From small beginnings, he
rose to great transactions; and now, beside
a flourishing trade in the bazaar, carried on
pretty extensive operations in many smaller
towns throughout the country. It was by no
means an unusual thing for this simply-clad,
mean-looking trader to purchase in one day
from one merchant muslins to the value of
a thousand pounds, crockery for half that
amount, and, perhaps, glass-ware for as much
more. For these he would pay down one-
fourth in hard cash, and so great was the
confidence reposed in him, that his bags of
rupees, labelled and endorsed with his name
and the amount of their contents, were
received and placed in the strong-room of the
Englishman without being counted. Saybo
Dora's name on the packages gave them

So much for their business aspect; but
once I paid a visit to Forty-two in his private
dwelling. In one of the dullest, dirtiest, and
most squalid-looking streets of the black
town dwelt he of the muffln-cap and portly
person. The hut was perched high up on a
natural parapet of red iron-stone, with a
glacier of rubbish in front. The day had been
fearfully hot, even for India; the very roadway
was scorching to the feet though the sun
had set, yet the tiny windows and the
ramshackling door were all closed. Nobody was
lying dead in the house, as I first imagined
might be the case. They had only shut out
the heat.

I found Forty-two enveloped in a sort of
winding-sheet, reclining on some coarse
matting, and smoking a very large and dirty
hookah. A brazen vessel was by his side, a
brass lamp swung from the ceiling; and, on a
curiously carved ebony stand, was a little sort
of stew-pan minus a handle filled with sweetmeats.
In an adjoining part of the dwelling,
divided off only by some loose drapery for
want of a door, lay sprawling on the earthen

floor a leash of infantine, embryo Forty-twos;
while, shrouded in an impenetrable mass of
muslin, crouched Mrs. Forty-two, masticating
tobacco leaves and betel nut. Smoking, eating
sweetmeats and curry, and sleeping form the
sum total of the earthly enjoyments of this
race of people. Their sole exception to this
dreary, caged existence being an occasional
religious festival, or a pilgrimage to some
shrine of great sanctity, when the muslin-
shrouded wife, the muslin-less children, the
sweetmeats, the hookah, and the brazen
vessels are packed into a hackery which, with
its huge white bullock, jingles and creaks over
the ruts and stones as though the wheels
and axle had got a touch of St. Vitus's
dance, and for that one day at any rate
Number Forty-two may be fairly said to be
out of town.


Some years, ten or a dozen ago, during
the Repeal agitation conducted by the late
Mr. O'Connell, an outburst of retrospective
patriotism and poesy took place in a ballad
furnished with the title, *' Who fears to speak
of 'Ninety-eight?" It was first published
in a newspaper, and referred, I suppose, to
the unhappy rebellion which in that year
desolated the fairest portion of Ireland; but
I have never read it, nor, beyond its title,
have I anything more to do with it here.
It awakens no partisan feelings within me,
and might as well be the song of The Boyne
Water, or the Shan van Vaugh, Vinegar Hill,
or Croppies lie downintensely orange, or
vividly green, for any effect it could have on
my susceptibilities.

'Ninety-eight was not an annus mirabilis
although Nelson's great victory at Aboukir
was won in its autumn. But every year was
one of wonder then, and the age was one of
marvels. Dynasties and thrones were being
pounded up by the French armies like
rotten bones in mortars. Wherever over the
globe there were no wars, there were, at
least, rumors of wars. And yet the world
wagged, and the seasons came and went.
There were as many wet and sunny days
under republics as there had been under
monarchiesin anarchy as in tranquillity. The
months brought their same tribute of fruit,
or flowers, or grain; and were the same
months, though the calendar had been
remodelled, and they were henceforth to be
Fructidors, Thermidors, or Ventoses. And it
was the same death that kings suffered on the
scaffold and soldiers in the field that a poor
shepherd or a servant maid suffers to-day,
and that you and I may suffer to-morrow.
Sleeves and hose may alter, but legs and arms
remain the same. Hunger was hunger and
thirst thirst in 'Ninety-eight as it is in 'Fifty-

The other day, rambling about, I stumbled
upon an odd volume of an old Magazine for