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LIFE IN INDIA.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
JOHN MORTIMER, ADELAIDE STREET,
In which Peregrine Pultuney and his Associates arrive
safely at Calcutta.
In the days of which we are writing, though not so very far removed from the present, ships arriving from Europe, and other places were compelled to make their own way up the Hooghly river in the best manner they could. The Steaming Company, like Guy Fawkes in the song, 66 wasn't born till arter that” some time; and so the Hastings was necessitated to " drag it's slow length along” anchoring and weighing anchor, tacking and drifting, and fifty other things that a sailing vessel has to do, when there are tides and streams
and winds and sandbanks, and various other impediments of that kind to diversify its passage up the river.
What an uncommon fine thing in poetry is the rolling tide of the sinuous Ganges, but how wretchedly unpoetical is this said Ganges in reality, as you enter it from the Bay of Bengal. It is not commonplace, for the utter absence of one redeeming feature to render it in the least degree picturesque, prevents it from being that. It is, in fact, almost sublime from the utter absence of beauty it exhibits. It is so desolate, so unlovely, so unearthly in its aspect, that, as you look upon it, you can scarcely believe it to be a part of that world which God made, and said that it was good. After a sojourn of months on the great waters, the first sight of land, if there is any thing about it that wears the least look of gladsomeness, is hailed by the weary voyager as a very Paradise, and is decked out, as he views it with the eye of his imagination, in exaggerated tints of joyousness and beauty; but for the voyager, as he enters the Hooghly river, though there be youth on his cheek, and hope in his heart, and abundant fancy in his brain, there is not one object to gladden his eyes, not one sight to raise pleasant expectations. All seems characteristic of the world he is about to enter, where sickness and death and desolation are the grand ingredients of the cup that is offered to him.
That Peregrine Pultuney looked upon the low, barren land upon either side of the muddy river, with such gloomy anticipations as those which we have set down in this last paragraph, we do not very confidently state; but that he, in common with every other griffin in the ship, was grievously disappointed is most undeniably true. It was in the month of August, and it rained as it always does in August, with a perseverance that would be highly praiseworthy in any thing or any person less objectionable. The river was swollen and brown; the sky black and lowering; and the country on either side looked for all the world like the flower garden of the gaunt Fever King.
It is a pleasant thing to be very young-young in heart we mean, for there are alas! too many, who grow old in their very teens; but Peregrine Pultuney was not one of these. Suffering and he had never shaken hands, and so joyous was his disposition, that neither the rains of August, nor the low jungles of the strange country he was entering, nor the dirty river, nor the wet deck, nor his leaky cabin could chase the smile from his rosy lips, the sunshine from his gladsome heart. It would be worth while being a griff again if only to recover the rosy lips and the gladsome heart, for the year and the day, which are said to mark the period of griffinage.
Beneath a good stout awning, on the poop of the Hastings, stood Peregrine Pultuney and Julian