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

framework; and how to colour and varnish
the whole. These items of wisdom are all
duly set forth.

                     LIFE AND DEATH.

"What is Life, Father?"
                                  "A Battle, my child,
Where the strongest lance may fail
   Where the wariest eyes may be beguiled,
And the stoutest heart may quail.
   Where the foes are gathered on every hand,
And rest not day nor night,
   And the feeble little ones must stand
In the thickest of the fight."

  "What is Death, Father?"
                                       "The rest, my child,
   When the strife and the toil are o'er,
And the angel of God, who, calm and mild,
   Says we need fight no more;
Who driveth away the demon band.
   Bids the din of the battle cease;
Takes the banner and spear from our failing hand.
   And proclaims an eternal Peace."

"Let me die, Father! I tremble. I fear
To yield in that terrible strife!"

"The crown must be won for Heaven, dear,
   In the battle-field of life;
My child, though thy foes are strong and tried,
   He loveth the weak and small;
The Angels of Heaven are on thy side.
   And God is over all!"

THE GREAT INDIAN BEAN-STALK.

This bean-stalk, by which many very
small adventurers have climbed to wealth,
flourishes under the vice-regal sway of the
Honourable East India Company, where a
costly staff of European officials is
supposed, by a pleasant fiction of the
Covenanted Service, to administer justice to the
hundred millions of worthy British subjects
inhabiting those wide-spreading countries.
Judges of various degrees, magistrates and
deputy magistrates, preside singly over the
fate of districts as large as Yorkshire or
Wales, and to enable them to make the most
remote pretence of discharging their duties,
they receive the assistance of a swarm of
native subordinates, whose name may truly
be called legion.

The revenue department of the Indian
government is equally beholden to the
ministerings of these indigenous officials, without
whom, indeed, we could make but small
progress in the collection of the twenty-seven
millions of pounds sterling annually squeezed
from the muscles of Indian ryots. I am
quite willing to admit at starting, what it
would be folly to deny, that to dream of
carrying on the administration of our Indian
empire without the aid of native subordinates
would be an utter absurdity.

These authorities are, unfortunately, taken
from the very dregs of Asiatic society,
and consist indiscriminately of Mahometans
and Hindus. It would perhaps be very
difficult, if not impossible, to say which of these
two races are the greatest adepts at extortion
and every species of cunning rascality.
Miserably paid, they seek, by an infinity of
methods, to swell up their income, and this
they contrive to do with the utmost
impunityliving in the midst of luxuries when an
honest man would starve. The steps upon
the branches of this Great Indian Bean-Stalk
are many: but, patiently followed, they lead
at last to a golden certainty.

Lallah Ram, of whose life I am about to
relate a few trifling incidents, was a man of
humble station, but aspiring in mind, and
being well acquainted with most of the native
Omlah or judicial subordinates of the city,
used every influence in his power to obtain the
most menial appointment in the police court.
After many months of patient watchfulness,
Lallah, by dint of dustur or fee, was installed
as Orderly to the Deputy Magistrate of the
district, on a salary of eight shillings a month.
This pay was small enough, especially as
Lallah had a wife and three children to
maintain with it. But my hero had not been
a hanger-on of police courts and Cutcherries
(collectors' offices) for nothing. He had gained
a complete insight into the history of the
Great Indian Bean-Stalk, and panted for an
opportunity of reducing his knowledge to
practice.

Lallah began systematically, and lost no
opportunity of ingratiating himself with his
master the Sahib Bahadur, or great magistrate:
he made it appear on every occasion
that he was on the best possible footing with
Sahib; to whom he was really quite
indispensable. No sooner was this feeling
fairly established than the aspiring orderly
began to turn it to account. Did any one, no
matter what his rank, desire an audience
with his highness the magistrate, he was kept
cooling his heels in the outer hall, until having
exhausted his patience he offered Lallah
a rupee to take his name to the Bahadur.
The orderly would give the solitary coin a
look of the utmost contempt, move not an
inch, and say that he was a poor man, but
had every desire to oblige the visitor if in
his power. The suitor would relax, slip
five rupees into his willing palm, and was
at once ushered into the presence amidst
many adjurations to the heathen pantheon,
and all sorts of prosperity evoked on the
donor's head.

These visitors were numerous; and,
although a few now and then endeavoured to
rebel against the innocent practices of Lallah,
he was invariably a match for them. Should
there be any disposition to avoid the dustur
(anglicรจ "down with the dust"), the orderly
expressed many regrets; but the Sahib was
most particularly engaged, and had given
express orders not to be disturbed on any
account. It was seldom that a sentence of
this kind was misunderstood; the fee was