Page images

ment will be noticed ; and I shall now continue my extracts from his familiar correspondence.




Gardens, near Calcutta, March 25, 1787. I am charmed, my dear Sir, with the short but comprehensive work of Rhadaсaunt, your pundit, the title of which I see is Purán-arthupracusam, or the meaning of the Purans displayed. It contains pedigrees, or lists of kings, from the earliesť times to the decline of the Indian empire ; but the proper names are so murdered, or so strangely disguised in Persian letters, that I am only, tantalized with a thirst for more accurate information. If the pundit at your request, will lend me the original, my marhatta writer shall copy it elegantly, with spaces between the lines for a literal English translation, which may perhaps be agreeable, with your consent, to our society.


May 11, 1787. I return with many thanks, 'my dear Sir, the letter of his High Mightiness Tatbu Arnu (king of Ava*). When I began it,

I feared

* If the reader has a curiosity to see this singular letter, he may gratify it. The perusal, may perhaps recall to his recollection, the following lines :

Here's a large mouth indeed,
That spits forth death and mountains, rocks and seas !

Official translation of a letter from the Rajah or Principal of the Burmas to the Collector

of Chittagong :

I am lord of a whole people, and of 101 countries, and my titles are Rajah Chatterdary (i. e. sitting under a canopy) and Rajah Surey Bunkshee, (i. e. descendant of the PP


I feared it was hostile, but am glad to find it so amicable. Dulce mihi nomen pacis! If he is at peace with the Siamese, he may be

a good

Sun). Sitting on the throne with a splendid canopy of gold, I hold in subjection to my authority many Rajahs ; gold, silver, and jewels, are the produce of my country, and in my hand is the instrument of war, that, as the lightning of Heaven, humbles and subdues my enemies; my troops require neither injunctions nor commands, and my elephants and horses are without number. In my service are ten pundits learned in the Shaster, and 104 priests, whose wisdom is not to be equalled ; agreeably to whose learning and intelligence, I execute and distribute justice among my people, so that my mandates, like the lightning, suffer no resistance nor control. My subjects are endowed with virtue and the principles of justice, and refrain from all immoral practices, and I am as the Sun, blessed with the light of wisdom to discover the secret designs of men ; whoever is worthy of being called a Rajah, is merciful and just towards his people; thieves, robbers, and disturbers of the peace, have at length received the punishment due to their crimes; and now the word of my mouth is dreaded as the lightning from Heaven. I am as a great sea, among 2000 rivers, and many rivulets, and as the mountain Shumeroo, surrounded by 40,000 hills, and like unto these is my authority, extending itself over 101 Rajahs; further, 10,000 Rajahs pay daily attendance at my Durbar, and my country excels every country of the world ; my palace as the heavens, studded with gold and precious stones, is revered more than any other palace in the universe. My occupations resemble the business of the chief of the angels, and I have written unto all the provinces of Arracan, with orders to forward this letter in safety to Chittagong, formerly subject to the Rajah Sery Tamah Chucka, by whom the country was cultivated and populated; and he erected 2400 places of public worship, and made 24 tanks.

Previous to his accession, the country was subject to other Rajahs, whose title was Chatterdary, who erected places of worship, and appointed priests to administer the rites of religion to people of every denomination ; but at that period the country was ill governed, previous to the accession of Rajah Sery Tamah Chucka to the government of the countries of Rutunpoor, Dootinady, Arracan, Dooraputty, Ramputty, Chagdoye, Mahadaye, Mawong, in whose time the country was governed with justice and ability, and his wisdom was as the lightning; and the people were happy under his administration. He was also favoured with the friendship of the religious men of the age, one of whom, by name Budder, resorting to his place of residence, was solicited by the Rajah to appoint some one for the purpose of instructing bim in religious rites, and Shawhmany was accordingly appointed agreeably to the Rajah's requisition ; at this time it rained from Heaven, gold, silver, and precious stones, which were buried under ground in charge of the above priest, whose house was of gold and silver workmanship, to which the people


a good neighbour, and we may be gainers by his gold and ivory; but I have no inclination to taste his sweet and delicious petroleum, which he praises so highly; I am satisfied with the smell of it, and with its singular property of restoring the scent of Russia

resort, and worship the deities ; and the Rajah kept a large establishment of servants, and of slaves at the temple, for the service of travellers and passengers; and his time was engaged in the studying of the five books, and he always refrained from immoral practices and deeds interdicted by his religion, and the priests, &c. abstained from the flesh of geese, pigeons, goats, hogs, and of fowls; and wickedness, theft, adultery, lying, drunkenness, were unknown in that age. I likewise pursue a line of conduct and religion similar to the above; but previous to my conquest of Arracan, the people were as snakes wounding men, a prey to enmity and disorder; and in several provinces there were eaters of the flesh of men, and wickedness prevailed amongst them, so that no man could trust his neighbour. At this time one Bowdah Outhar, otherwise Sery Boot Taukwor, came down in the country of Arracan, and instructed the people and the beasts of the field in the principles of religion and rectitude, and agreeably to his word the country was governed for a period of 5000 years, so that peace and good-will subsisted amongst men ; agreeably hereto is the tenor of my conduct and government of my people : as there is an oil, the produce of a certain spot of the earth, of exquisite fluvour, so is my dignity and power above that of other Rajahs; and Taffloo Rajah, the high priest, having consulted with the others of that class, represented to me on 15th Aughur 1148, saying, do you enforce the laws and customs of Sery Boot Taukwor, which I accordingly did, and moreover erected six places of divine worsbip, and have conformed myself strictly to the laws and customs of Sery Tamah Chucka, governing my people with lenity and justice. .

As the country of Arracan lies contiguous to Chittagong, if a Treaty of Commerce were established between me and the English, perfect amity and alliance would ensue from such engagements; therefore I have submitted it to you, that the merchants of your country should resort hither for the purpose of purchasing pearls, ivory, wax, and that in return my people should be permitted to resort to Chittagong for the purpose of trafficking in such commodities as the country may afford ; but as the Mugs residing at Chittagong have deviated from the principles of religion and morality, they ought to be corrected for their errors and irregularities agreeably to the written laws, insomuch as those invested with power will suffer eternal punishment in case of any deviation from their religion and laws, but whoever conforms his conduct to the strict rules of piety and religion will hereafter be translated to Heaven. I have accordingly sent four elephant's teeth under charge of 30 persons, who will return with your answer to the above proposals and offers of alliance.


leather. I am told he is an able man; but from all I can learn, I suspect bim to be an ambitious dog, who would act the lion if he could, and end, as he is said to have begun, the Aurenzeb of the Indian peninsula.

We are pretty well, and hope that you are now in good health. You will not (though you dislike medicine) object to my prescription :

[blocks in formation]

Would I could be as good a physician to you, as I am, &c.


· May 12, 1787. You have sent me a treasure, which will enable me to satisfy my mind at least on the chronology of India ; need I say, that I shall ever be happy in the conversation of so learned a man as Rhadaсaunt ? Before I return to Calcutta, I shall have read his interesting book, and shall be better able to converse with him in Sanscrit, which I speak continually with my pundit.,

I can easily conceive all your feelings, but consider, my dear friend, that you are now collecting for yourself (while you serve your country) those flowers which will give a brighter bloom even to the valleys of Devonshire, that you are young and have as fair a prospect of long happiness as any mortal can have. I predict, that when I meet you a few years hence at Teignmouth, where I hope to spend many a season with all that my soul cherishes in this world, I shall hear you confess, that your painful toil in India, conduced in the end to your happiness. That you may enjoy as much of it as human life affords, is the sincere wish of, &c.


June 24.

. . . I am well, rising constantly between three and four, and usually walking two or three miles before sun-rise ; my wife is tolerably well ; and we only lament, that the damp weather will soon oblige us to leave our herds and Aocks, and all our rural delights on the banks of the Baghiratti. The business of the court will continue at least two months longer, after which I purpose to take a house at Bandell or Hugli, and pass my autumnal vacation as usual with the Hindu bards. I have read your pundit's curious book twice in Sanscrit, and will have it elegantly copied ; the Dabistan also I have read through twice with great attention ; and both copies are ready to be returned, as you shall direct. Mr. R. Johnston thinks he has a young friend who will translate the Dabistan, and the greatest part of it would be very interesting to a curious reader, but some of it cannot be translated. It contains more recondite learning, more entertaining history, more beautiful specimens of poetry, more ingenuity and wit, more indecency and blasphemy, than I ever saw collected in a single volume ; the two last are not the author's, but are introduced in the chapters on the heretics and infidels of India. On the whole, it is the most amusing and instructive book I ever read in Persian*.

I hear nothing from Europe, but what all the papers contain; and that is enough to make me rejoice exceedingly, that I am in

* The Dabistan, is a treatise on twelve different religions, composed by a Mohammedan traveller, a native of Cashmir, named Mohsan, but distinguished by the assumed name of Fani, or perishable. Sir William Jones, in his sixth discourse to the society, on the Persians, refers to it as a rare and interesting tract, which had cast a gleam of light on the primeval history of Iran and the human race, of which he had long despaired, and wbich could hardly have dawned from any other quarter.

« PreviousContinue »