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in the putting a parcel of gunners through the company drill,' and my great go,' for which I am now actively preparing, is nothing more than a sort of examination in what is called the laboratory course,' and for which nothing is requisite but an acquaintance with the names of a component part of a gun, and the different implements of destruction, grape, cannister, &c., which rammed into the said gun, for the benefit of society at large. Latin and Greek are unknown tongues, or nearly so, in this part of the world; and I believe that the little acquaintance with them, that there is, lies more in the soldiers' barracks than in the officer’s bungalows. There are, I assure you, some marvellous learned men amongst our artillery privates, though all the learning does not lie exactly in the classical line. Not but that we have classics, for a few weeks ago, as I was lying in bed, just beginning to think of getting up, one of our officers came into my room and told me that the brigadier wished to see me to breakfast. Of course, I had no manner of objection, and to the brigadier's accord. ingly I went, not knowing very well to what circumstance I was indebted for this honour. However, it soon came out that the old gentleman had been making inquiries as to who was the most likely person in cantonments to be well acquainted with Latin and Greek, and as somebody had very obligingly mentioned my name, he had sent for me to ask if I would be good enough to examine a Bombardier Something, who had applied to the brigadier for his discharge, under the plea of having got a situation as master of a school in Calcutta. The old gentleman gave me to understand, that he believed the man knew nothing about it; though his only reason for thinking so was that the bombardier was strongly recommended by certain gentlemen of the evangelical persuasion, for whom he entertained a very sincere contempt. However, he was quite wrong. The man, who was well born and well educated, and who had enlisted, on account of some family dissensions, not attributable to ill conduct of his own, proved himself to be a very tolerable scholar—could turn English into Latin, and Latin into English, and perform the same process by Greck. I had no hesitation, therefore, in expressing my satisfaction with the abilities, which the man had evinced, and so far it was all very well; but would you believe it, after going through the Latin and Greek, the fellow had the assurance to volunteer to undergo an examination in Hebrew! about which, as you are very well aware, I am as ignorant as a New Zcalander. Thanks, however, to a certain constitutional readiness, with which I believe myself to be abundantly endowed, I said to the man,' Suppose we do-it will be satisfactory to the brigadier--so you had better go and fetch your books, whilst I report progress on the classics.' The man, as I pretty well guessed, had not got any Hebrew books; so I told him that I was equally
badly off, and that we must content ourselves with the Latin and Greek, with which I had no doubt the brigadier would be satisfied. The man got his discharge and his appointment, and I by this last stroke of finesse saved myself from the conspicuous pleasure of knowing that the laugh would be against me in the barracks.
“ I promised to tell you what I might think of India—the promise was a very rash one, for, after a residence of some months, I scarcely know what to think of it. It is not in the least like what I expected to find it, nor in the least like what it is described in books. As for society in Calcutta, it is a sort of mixture of what society is in a small place with what it is in a large one-partly metropolitan and partly country-town-ish, it partakes plentifully of the evils of both without presenting the advantages of either. Although there are various sets and plenty of room for people to move about without interfering with one another, every individual member of Calcutta society is just so much an object of interest to all the cliques, that the entire community are ready, when occasion offers, to find a hole in the individuals' jacket. The society of Calcutta is too large to admit of it's being characterized by that oneness, which we see in smaller communities, but it is not large enough to suffer a man to do what he likes without being observed upon by those around him. The consequence is, as you may easily suppose, that there is more gossip and scandal and ill-nature than there is in a small community, such as that of a country town or large village in England, because there are more subjects to anatomize—more victims to fasten upon-and, believe me, my dear Harry, when I say that if the devil were to desire to inform himself of the full extent, to which anger, hatred, and all uncharitableness are carried by the denizens of this middle sphere, he could not select a more fitting place of observation, than he would find beneath one of the damask sofas in a gaudy Chowringhee drawing-room.
“As for Dum-Dum the society is small enough, and single enough for all purposes. I do not think that the people here concern themselves much about Calcutta, and still less do I think that they are much contaminated by their propinquity to the City of Scandal. We are all very friendly, very quiet, and, as far as I can see, very humble. There is this great advantage in a purely military community, that the allowances of every officer are so fully known that no one ever thinks of cutting out his neighbour or attempting any thing like display. We all know one another thoroughly, being all of the regiment, and yet owing to the extent of the regiment, our society at head-quarters is constantly undergoing a gradual change. One week an officer arrives from England in the next another is sent off on command—and so on, until, with the exception of the staff, the whole society of the place is filtered out in the course of the year–I dare say
before many months have expired, I shall pass through the filter myself.
“ There cannot be a better place than this same head-quarters for us younkers' on our first arrival. I dare say you will think I have grown marvellously sage; but the fact is, that during the little time I was in Calcutta, I saw to a very considerable extent the evil accruing from the barrack-life, to which a great number of cadets on their first arrival are condemned. A little friend of my own, to whom I was most sincerely attached, fell a victim to this system. People here say that letters of introduction are of scarcely any use in the world--and so I say, but one good letter to a resident in Calcutta, who will take you into his house, on your arrival, is worth all the money in the world. When a young man just let loose from school, finds himself in a strange place, without even the commonest social restraints to coerce him-utterly unacquainted with anybody, but a few other youths in the same position -answerable to no one, an object of concern to no one, too insignificant an atom in the great mass of society to attract the attention even of the keenest busy-bodies, it is no wonder, that, thus thrown away as it were, he should cease to respect himself and give way to a latitude of couduct, which, if he felt himself of any importance in society—or occupying any distinct position, he would turn away from with shame and abhorrence. Now, we of the artillery are rescued from this evil by the contiguity of our head-quarters to Calcutta