BLACKWOOD'S EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.
No. CCCXXXVII. NOVEMBER, 1843. VOL. LIV.
ADVENTURES IN TEXAS. TRAVELS OF KERIM KHAN. THE BANKING-HOUSE. THE WRONGS OF WOMEN. MARSTON; OR, THE MEMOIRS OF A STATESMAN. CEYLON COMMERCIAL POLICY. A SPECULATION ON THE SENSES. ON THE BEST MEANS OF ESTABLISHING A COMMERCIAL INTERCOURSE BETWEEN THE ATLANTIC AND PACIFIC OCEANS. TWO DREAMS. THE GAME UP WITH REPEAL AGITATION.
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ADVENTURES IN TEXAS.
A SCAMPER IN THE PRAIRIE OF JACINTO.
Reader! Were you ever in a Texian prairie? Probably not. I have been; and this was how it happened. When a very young man, I found myself one fine morning possessor of a Texas land-scrip—that is to say, a certificate of the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company, in which it was stated, that in consideration of the sum of one thousand dollars, duly paid and delivered by Mr Edward Rivers into the hands of the cashier of the aforesaid company, he, the said Edward Rivers, was become entitled to ten thousand acres of Texian land, to be selected by himself, or those he should appoint, under the sole condition of not infringing on the property or rights of the holders of previously given certificates.
Ten thousand acres of the finest land in the world, and under a heaven compared to which, our Maryland sky, bright as it is, appears dull and foggy! It was a tempting bait; too good a one not to be caught at by many in those times of speculation; and accordingly, our free and enlightened citizens bought and sold their millions of Texian acres just as readily as they did their thousands of towns and villages in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, and their tens of thousands of shares in banks and railways. It was a speculative fever, which has since, we may hope, been in some degree cured. At any rate, the remedies applied have been tolerably severe.
I had not escaped the contagion, and, having got the land on paper, I thought I should like to see it in dirty acres; so, in company with a friend who had a similar venture, I embarked at Baltimore on board the Catcher schooner, and, after a three weeks' voyage, arrived in Galveston Bay.
The grassy shores of this bay, into which the river Brazos empties itself, rise so little above the surface of the water, to which they bear a strong resemblance in colour, that it would be difficult to discover them, were it not for three stunted trees growing on the western extremity of a long lizard-shaped island that stretches nearly sixty miles across the bay, and conceals the mouth of the river. These trees are the only landmark for the mariner; and, with their exception, not a single object—not a hill, a house, nor so much as a bush, relieves the level sameness of the island and adjacent continent.
After we had, with some difficulty, got on the inner side of the island, a pilot came on board and took charge of the vessel. The first thing he did was to run us on a sandbank, off which we got with no small labour, and by the united exertions of sailors and passengers, and at length entered the river. In our impatience to land, I and my friend left the schooner in a cockleshell of a boat, which upset in the surge, and we found ourselves floundering in the water. Luckily it was not very deep, and we escaped with a thorough drenching.
When we had scrambled on shore, we gazed about us for some time before we could persuade ourselves that we were actually upon land. It was, without exception, the strangest coast we had ever seen, and there was scarcely a possibility of distinguishing the boundary between earth and water. The green grass grew down to the edge of the green sea, and there was only the streak of white foam left by the latter upon the former to serve as a line of demarcation. Before us was a plain, a hundred or more miles in extent, covered with long, fine grass, rolling in waves before each puff of the sea-breeze, with neither tree, nor house, nor hill, to vary the monotony of the surface. Ten or twelve miles towards the north and north-west, we distinguished some dark masses, which we afterwards discovered to be groups of trees; but to our eyes they looked exactly like islands in a green sea, and we subsequently learned that they were called islands by the people of the country. It would have been difficult to have given them a more appropriate name, or one better describing their appearance.
Proceeding along the shore, we came to a blockhouse situated behind a small tongue of land projecting into the river, and decorated with the flag of the Mexican republic, waving in all its glory from the roof. At that period, this was the only building of which Galveston harbour could boast. It served as custom-house and as barracks for the garrison, also as the residence of the director of customs, and of the civil and military intendant, as headquarters of the officer commanding, and, moreover, as hotel and wine and spirit store. Alongside the board, on which was depicted a sort of hieroglyphic, intended for the Mexican eagle, hung a bottle doing duty as a sign, and the republican banner threw its protecting shadow over an announcement of—"Brandy, Whisky, and Accommodation for Man and Beast."
As we approached the house, we saw the whole garrison assembled before the door. It consisted of a dozen dwarfish, spindle-shanked Mexican soldiers, none of them so big or half so strong as American boys of fifteen, and whom I would have backed a single Kentucky woodsman, armed with a riding-whip, to have driven to the four winds of heaven. These heroes all sported tremendous beards, whiskers, and mustaches, and had a habit of knitting their brows, in the endeavour, as we supposed, to look fierce and formidable. They were crowding round a table of rough planks, and playing a game of cards, in which they were so deeply engrossed that they took no notice of our approach. Their officer, however, came out of the house to meet us.
Captain Cotton, formerly editor of the Mexican Gazette, now civil and military commandant at Galveston, customs-director, harbour-master, and tavern-keeper, and a Yankee to boot, seemed to trouble himself very little about his various dignities and titles. He produced some capital French and Spanish wine, which, it is to be presumed, he got duty free, and welcomed us to Texas. We were presently joined by some of our fellow-passengers, who seemed as bewildered as we had been at the billiard-table appearance of the country. Indeed the place looked so desolate and uninviting, that there was little inducement to remain on terra firma, and it was with a feeling of relief that we once more found ourselves on board the schooner.
We took three days to sail up the river Brazos to the town of Brazoria, a distance of thirty miles. On the first day nothing but meadow land was visible on either side of us; but, on the second, the monotonous grass-covered surface was varied by islands of trees, and, about twenty miles from the mouth of the river, we passed through a forest of sycamores, and saw several herds of deer and flocks of wild turkeys. At length we reached Brazoria, which at the time I speak of, namely, in the year 1832, was an important city—for Texas, that is to say—consisting of upwards of thirty houses, three of which were of brick, three of planks, and the remainder of logs. All the inhabitants were Americans, and the streets arranged in American fashion, in straight lines and at right angles. The only objection to the place was, that in the wet season it was all under water; but the Brazorians overlooked this little inconvenience, in consideration of the inexhaustible fruitfulness of the soil. It was the beginning of March when we arrived, and yet there was already an abundance of new potatoes, beans, peas, and artichokes, all of the finest sorts and most delicious flavour.
At Brazoria, my friend and myself had the satisfaction of learning that our land-certificates, for which we had each paid a thousand dollars, were worth exactly nothing—just so much waste paper, in short—unless we chose to conform to a condition to which our worthy friends, the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company, had never made the smallest allusion.
It appeared that in the year 1824, the Mexican Congress had passed an act for the encouragement of emigration from the United States to Texas. In consequence of this act, an agreement was entered into with contractors, or empresarios, as they call them in Mexico, who had bound themselves to bring a certain number of settlers into Texas within a given time and without any expense to the Mexican government. On the other hand, the Mexican government had engaged to furnish land to these emigrants at the rate of five square leagues to every hundred families; but to this agreement one condition was attached, and it was, that all settlers should be, or become, Roman Catholics. Failing this, the validity of their claims to the land was not recognised, and they were liable to be turned out any day at the point of the bayonet.
This information threw us into no small perplexity. It was clear that we had been duped, completely bubbled, by the rascally Land Company; that, as heretics, the Mexican government would have nothing to say to us; and that, unless we chose to become converts to the Romish Church, we might whistle for our acres, and light our pipes with the certificate. Our Yankee friends at Brazoria, however, laughed at our dilemma, and told us that we were only in the same plight as hundreds of our countrymen, who had come to Texas in total ignorance of this condition, but who had not the less taken possession of their land and settled there; that they themselves were amongst the number, and that, although it was just as likely they would turn negroes as Roman Catholics, they had no idea of being turned out of their houses and plantations; that, at any rate, if the Mexicans tried it, they had their rifles with them, and should be apt, they reckoned, to burn powder before they allowed themselves to be kicked off such an almighty fine piece of soil. So, after a while, we began to think, that as we had paid our money and come so far, we might do as others had done before us—occupy our land and wait the course of events. The next day we each bought a horse, or mustang, as they call them there, which animals were selling at Brazoria for next to nothing, and rode out into the prairie to look for a convenient spot to settle.
These mustangs are small horses, rarely above fourteen hands high, and are descended from the Spanish breed introduced by the original conquerors of the country. During the three centuries that have elapsed since the conquest of Mexico, they have increased and multiplied to an extraordinary extent, and are to be found in vast droves in the Texian prairies, although they are now beginning to become somewhat scarcer. They are taken with the lasso, concerning which instrument or weapon I will here say a word or two, notwithstanding that it has been often described.
The lasso is usually from twenty to thirty feet long, very flexible, and composed of strips of twisted ox hide. One end is fastened to the saddle, and the other, which forms a running noose, held in the hand of the hunter, who, thus equipped, rides out into the prairie. When he discovers a troop of wild horses, he manoeuvres to get to windward of them, and then to approach as near them as possible. If he is an experienced hand, the horses seldom or never escape him, and as soon as he finds himself within twenty or thirty feet of them, he throws the noose with unerring aim over the neck of the one he has selected for his prey. This done, he turns his own horse sharp round, gives him the spur, and gallops away, dragging his unfortunate captive after him, breathless, and with his windpipe so compressed by the noose, that he is unable to make the smallest resistance, and after a few yards, falls headlong to the ground, and lies motionless and almost lifeless, sometimes indeed badly hurt and disabled. From this day forward, the horse which has been thus caught never forgets the lasso; the mere sight of it makes him tremble in every limb; and, however wild he may be, it is sufficient to show it to him, or lay it on his neck, to render him as tame and docile as a lamb.
The horse taken, next comes the breaking in, which is effected in a no less brutal manner than his capture. The eyes of the unfortunate animal are covered with a bandage, and a tremendous bit, a pound weight or more, clapped into his mouth; the horsebreaker puts on a pair of spurs six inches long, and with rowels like penknives, and jumping on his back, urges him to his very utmost speed. If the horse tries to rear, or turns restive, one pull, and not a very hard one either, at the instrument of torture they call a bit, is sufficient to tear his mouth to shreds, and cause the blood to flow in streams. I have myself seen horses' teeth broken with these barbarous bits. The poor beast whinnies and groans with pain and terror; but there is no help for him, the spurs are at his flanks, and on he goes full gallop, till he is ready to sink from fatigue and exhaustion. He then has a quarter of an hour's rest allowed him; but scarcely does he begin to recover breath, which has been ridden and spurred out of his body, when he is again mounted, and has to go through the same violent process as before. If he breaks down during this rude trial, he is either knocked on the head or driven away as useless; but if he holds out, he is marked with a hot iron, and left to graze on the prairie. Henceforward, there is no particular difficulty in catching him when wanted; the wildness of the horse is completely punished out of him, but for it is substituted the most confirmed vice and malice that it is possible to conceive. These mustangs are unquestionably the most deceitful and spiteful of all the equine race. They seem to be perpetually looking out for an opportunity of playing their master a trick; and very soon after I got possession of mine, I was nearly paying for him in a way that I had certainly not calculated upon.
We were going to Bolivar, and had to cross the river Brazos. I was the last but one to get into the boat, and was leading my horse carelessly by the bridle. Just as I was about to step in, a sudden jerk, and a cry of 'mind your beast!' made me jump on one side; and lucky it was that I did so. My mustang had suddenly sprung back, reared up, and then thrown himself forward upon me with such force and fury, that, as I got out of his way, his fore feet went completely through the bottom of the boat. I never in my life saw an animal in such a paroxysm of rage. He curled up his lip till his whole range of teeth was visible, his eyes literally shot fire, while the foam flew from his mouth, and he gave a wild screaming neigh that had something quite diabolical in its sound. I was standing perfectly thunderstruck at this scene, when one of the party took a lasso and very quietly laid it over the animal's neck. The effect was really magical. With closed mouth, drooping ears, and head low, there stood the mustang, as meek and docile as any old jackass. The change was so sudden and comical, that we all burst out laughing; although, when I came to reflect on the danger I had run, it required all my love of horses to prevent me from shooting the brute upon the spot.
Mounted upon this ticklish steed and in company with my friend, I made various excursions to Bolivar, Marion, Columbia, Anahuac, incipient cities consisting of from five to twenty houses. We also visited numerous plantations and clearings, to the owners of some of which we were known, or had messages of introduction; but either with or without such recommendations, we always found a hearty welcome and hospitable reception, and it was rare that we were allowed to pay for our entertainment.
We arrived one day at a clearing which lay a few miles off the way from Harrisburg to San Felipe de Austin, and belonged to a Mr Neal. He had been three years in the country, occupying himself with the breeding of cattle, which is unquestionably the most agreeable, as well as profitable, occupation that can be followed in Texas. He had between seven and eight hundred head of cattle, and from fifty to sixty horses, all mustangs. His plantation, like nearly all the plantations in Texas at that time, was as yet in a very rough state, and his house, although roomy and comfortable enough inside, was built of unhewn tree-trunks, in true back-woodsman style. It was situated on the border of one of the islands, or groups of trees, and stood between two gigantic sycamores, which sheltered it from the sun and wind. In front, and as far as could be seen, lay the prairie, covered with its waving grass and many-coloured flowers, behind the dwelling arose the cluster of forest trees in all their primeval majesty, laced and bound together by an infinity of wild vines, which shot their tendrils and clinging branches hundreds of feet upwards to the very top of the trees, embracing and covering the whole island with a green network, and converting it into an immense bower of vine leaves, which would have been no unsuitable abode for Bacchus and his train.
These islands are one of the most enchanting features of Texian scenery. Of infinite variety and beauty of form, and unrivalled in the growth and magnitude of the trees that compose them, they are to be found of all shapes—circular, parallelograms, hexagons, octagons—some again twisting and winding like dark-green snakes over the brighter surface of the prairie. In no park or artificially laid out grounds, would it be possible to find any thing equalling these natural shrubberies in beauty and symmetry. In the morning and evening especially, when surrounded by a sort of veil of light-greyish mist, and with the horizontal beams of the rising or setting sun gleaming through them, they offer pictures which it is impossible to get weary of admiring.
Mr Neal was a jovial Kentuckian, and he received us with the greatest hospitality, only asking in return all the news we could give him from the States. It is difficult to imagine, without having witnessed it, the feverish eagerness and curiosity with which all intelligence from their native country is sought after and listened to by these dwellers in the desert. Men, women, and children, crowded round us; and though we had arrived in the afternoon, it was near sunrise before we could escape from the enquiries by which we were overwhelmed, and retire to the beds that had been prepared for us.
I had not slept very long when I was roused by our worthy host. He was going out to catch twenty or thirty oxen, which were wanted for the market at New Orleans. As the kind of chase which takes place after these animals is very interesting, and rarely dangerous, we willingly accepted the invitation to accompany him, and having dressed and breakfasted in all haste, got upon our mustangs and rode of into the prairie.
The party was half a dozen strong, consisting of Mr Neal, my friend and myself, and three negroes. What we had to do was to drive the cattle, which were grazing on the prairie in herds of from thirty to fifty head, to the house, and then those which were selected for the market were to be taken with the lasso and sent off to Brazoria.
After riding four or five miles, we came in sight of a drove, splendid animals, standing very high, and of most symmetrical form. The horns of these cattle are of unusual length, and, in the distance, have more the appearance of stag's antlers than bull's horns. We approached the herd first to within a quarter of a mile. They remained quite quiet. We rode round them, and in like manner got in rear of a second and third drove, and then began to spread out, so as to form a half circle, and drive the cattle towards the house.
Hitherto my mustang had behaved exceedingly well, cantering freely along and not attempting to play any tricks. I had scarcely, however, left the remainder of the party a couple of hundred yards, when the devil by which he was possessed began to wake up. The mustangs belonging to the plantation were grazing some three quarters of a mile off; and no sooner did my beast catch sight of them, than he commenced practising every species of jump and leap that it is possible for a horse to execute, and many of a nature so extraordinary, that I should have thought no brute that ever went on four legs would have been able to accomplish them. He shied, reared, pranced, leaped forwards, backwards, and sideways; in short, played such infernal pranks, that, although a practised rider, I found it no easy matter to keep my seat. I began heartily to regret that I had brought no lasso with me, which would have tamed him at once, and that, contrary to Mr Neal's advice, I had put on my American bit instead of a Mexican one. Without these auxiliaries all my horsemanship was useless. The brute galloped like a mad creature some five hundred yards, caring nothing for my efforts to stop him; and then, finding himself close to the troop of mustangs, he stopped suddenly short, threw his head between his fore legs, and his hind feet into the air, with such vicious violence, that I was pitched clean out of the saddle. Before I well knew where I was, I had the satisfaction of seeing him put his fore feet on the bridle, pull bit and bridoon out of his mouth, and then, with a neigh of exultation, spring into the midst of the herd of mustangs.
I got up out of the long grass in a towering passion. One of the negroes who was nearest to me came galloping to my assistance, and begged me to let the beast run for a while, and that when Anthony, the huntsman, came, he would soon catch him. I was too angry to listen to reason, and I ordered him to get off his horse, and let me mount. The black begged and prayed of me not to ride after the brute; and Mr Neal, who was some distance off, shouted to me, as loud as he could, for Heaven's sake, to stop—that I did not know what it was to chase a wild horse in a Texian prairie, and that I must not fancy myself in the meadows of Louisiana or Florida. I paid no attention to all this—I was in too great a rage at the trick the beast had played me, and, jumping on the negro's horse, I galloped away like mad.
My rebellious steed was grazing quietly with his companions, and he allowed me to come within a couple of hundred paces of him; but just as I had prepared the lasso, which was fastened to the negro's saddle-bow, he gave a start, and galloped off some distance further, I after him. Again he made a pause, and munched a mouthful of grass—then off again for another half mile. This time I had great hopes of catching him, for he let me come within a hundred yards; but, just as I was creeping up to him, away he went with one of his shrill neighs. When I galloped fast he went faster, when I rode slowly he slackened pace. At least ten times did he let me approach him within a couple of hundred yards, without for that being a bit nearer getting hold of him. It was certainly high time to desist from such a mad chase, but I never dreamed of doing so; and indeed the longer it lasted, the more obstinate I got. I rode on after the beast, who kept letting me come nearer and nearer, and then darted off again with his loud-laughing neigh. It was this infernal neigh that made me so savage—there was something so spiteful and triumphant in it, as though the animal knew he was making a fool of me, and exulted in so doing. At last, however, I got so sick of my horse-hunt that I determined to make a last trial, and, if that failed, to turn back. The runaway had stopped near one of the islands of trees, and was grazing quite close to its edge. I thought that if I were to creep round to the other side of the island, and then steal across it, through the trees, I should be able to throw the lasso over his head, or, at any rate, to drive him back to the house. This plan I put in execution—rode round the island, then through it, lasso in hand, and as softly as if I had been riding over eggs. To my consternation, however, on arriving at the edge of the trees, and at the exact spot where, only a few minutes before, I had seen the mustang grazing, no signs of him were to be perceived. I made the circuit of the island, but in vain—the animal had disappeared. With a hearty curse, I put spurs to my horse, and started off to ride back to the plantation.
Neither the plantation, the cattle, nor my companions, were visible, it is true; but this gave me no uneasiness. I felt sure that I knew the direction in which I had come, and that the island I had just left was one which was visible from the house, while all around me were such numerous tracks of horses, that the possibility of my having lost my way never occurred to me, and I rode on quite unconcernedly.
After riding for about an hour, however, I began to find the time rather long. I looked at my watch. It was past one o'clock. We had started at nine, and, allowing an hour and a half to have been spent in finding the cattle, I had passed nearly three hours in my wild and unsuccessful hunt. I began to think that I must have got further from the plantation than I had as yet supposed.
It was towards the end of March, the day clear and warm, just like a May-day in the Southern States. The sun was now shining brightly out, but the early part of the morning had been somewhat foggy; and, as I had only arrived at the plantation the day before, and had passed the whole afternoon and evening indoors, I had no opportunity of getting acquainted with the bearings of the house. This reflection began to make me rather uneasy, particularly when I remembered the entreaties of the negro, and the loud exhortations Mr Neal addressed to me as I rode away. I said to myself, however, that I could not be more than ten or fifteen miles from the plantation, that I should soon come in sight of the herds of cattle, and that then there would be no difficulty in finding my way. But when I had ridden another hour without seeing the smallest sign either of man or beast, I got seriously uneasy. In my impatience, I abused poor Neal for not sending somebody to find me. His huntsman, I had heard, was gone to Anahuac, and would not be back for two or three days; but he might have sent a couple of his lazy negroes. Or, if he had only fired a shot or two as a signal. I stopped and listened, in hopes of hearing the crack of a rifle. But the deepest stillness reigned around, scarcely the chirp of a bird was heard—all nature seemed to be taking the siesta. As far as the eye could reach was a waving sea of grass, here and there an island of trees, but not a trace of a human being. At last I thought I had made a discovery. The nearest clump of trees was undoubtedly the same which I had admired and pointed out to my companions soon after we had left the house. It bore a fantastical resemblance to a snake coiled up and about to dart upon its prey. About six or seven miles from the plantation we had passed it on our right hand, and if I now kept it upon my left, I could not fail to be going in a proper direction. So said, so done. I trotted on most perseveringly towards the point of the horizon where I felt certain the house must lie. One hour passed, then a second, then a third; every now and then I stopped and listened, but nothing was audible, not a shot nor a shout. But although I heard nothing, I saw something which gave me no great pleasure. In the direction in which we had ridden out, the grass was very abundant and the flowers scarce; whereas the part of the prairie in which I now found myself presented the appearance of a perfect flower-garden, with scarcely a square foot of green to be seen. The most variegated carpet of flowers I ever beheld lay unrolled before me; red, yellow, violet, blue, every colour, every tint was there; millions of the most magnificent prairie roses, tuberoses, asters, dahlias, and fifty other kinds of flowers. The finest artificial garden in the world would sink into insignificance when compared with this parterre of nature's own planting. My horse could hardly make his way through the wilderness of flowers, and I for a time remained lost in admiration of this scene of extraordinary beauty. The prairie in the distance looked as if clothed with rainbows that waved to and fro over its surface.
But the difficulties and anxieties of my situation soon banished all other thoughts, and I rode on with perfect indifference through a scene, that, under other circumstances, would have captivated my entire attention. All the stories that I had heard of mishaps in these endless prairies, recurred in vivid colouring to my memory, not mere backwoodsman's legends, but facts well authenticated by persons of undoubted veracity, who had warned me, before I came to Texas, against venturing without guide or compass into these dangerous wilds. Even men who had been long in the country, were often known to lose themselves, and to wander for days and weeks over these oceans of grass, where no hill or variety of surface offers a landmark to the traveller. In summer and autumn, such a position would have one danger the less, that is, there would be no risk of dying of hunger; for at those seasons the most delicious fruits, grapes, plums, peaches, and others, are to be found in abundance. But we were now in early spring, and although I saw numbers of peach and plum-trees, they were only in blossom. Of game also there was plenty, both fur and feather, but I had no gun, and nothing appeared more probable than that I should die of hunger, although surrounded by food, and in one of the most fruitful countries in the world. This thought flashed suddenly across me, and for a moment my heart sunk within me as I first perceived the real danger of my position.
After a time, however, other ideas came to console me. I had been already four weeks in the country, and had ridden over a large slice of it in every direction, always through prairies, and I had never had any difficulty in finding my way. True, but then I had always had a compass, and been in company. It was this sort of over-confidence and feeling of security, that had made me adventure so rashly, and spite of all warning, in pursuit of the mustang. I had not waited to reflect, that a little more than four weeks' experience was necessary to make one acquainted with the bearings of a district three times as big as New York State. Still I thought it impossible that I should have got so far out of the right track as not to be able to find the house before nightfall, which was now, however, rapidly approaching. Indeed, the first shades of evening, strange as it may seem, gave this persuasion increased strength. Home bred and gently nurtured as I was, my life before coming to Texas had been by no means one of adventure, and I was so used to sleep with a roof over my head, that when I saw it getting dusk I felt certain I could not be far from the house. The idea fixed itself so strongly in my mind, that I involuntarily spurred my mustang, and trotted on, peering out through the now fast-gathering gloom, in expectation of seeing a light. Several times I fancied I heard the barking of the dogs, the cattle lowing, or the merry laugh of the children.
"Hurrah! there is the house at last—I see the lights in the parlour windows."
I urged my horse on, but when I came near the house, it proved to be an island of trees. What I had taken for candles were fire-flies, that now issued in swarms from out of the darkness of the islands, and spread themselves over the prairie, darting about in every direction, their small blue flames literally lighting up the plain, and making it appear as if I were surrounded by a sea of Bengal fire. It is impossible to conceive anything more bewildering than such a ride as mine, on a warm March night, through the interminable, never varying prairie. Overhead the deep blue firmament, with its hosts of bright stars; at my feet, and all around, an ocean of magical light, myriads of fire-flies floating upon the soft still air. To me it was like a scene of enchantment. I could distinguish every blade of grass, every flower, each leaf on the trees, but all in a strange unnatural sort of light, and in altered colours. Tuberoses and asters, prairie roses and geraniums, dahlias and vine branches, began to wave and move, to range themselves in ranks and rows. The whole vegetable world around me seemed to dance, as the swarms of living lights passed over it.
Suddenly out of the sea of fire sounded a loud and long-drawn note. I stopped, listened, and gazed around me. It was not repeated, and I rode on. Again the same sound, but this time the cadence was sad and plaintive. Again I made a halt, and listened. It was repeated a third time in a yet more melancholy tone, and I recognised it as the cry of a whip-poor-will. Presently it was answered from a neighbouring island by a Katydid. My heart leaped for joy at hearing the note of this bird, the native minstrel of my own dear Maryland. In an instant the house where I was born stood before the eyesight of my imagination. There were the negro huts, the garden, the plantation, every thing exactly as I had left it. So powerful was the illusion, that I gave my horse the spur, persuaded that my father's house lay before me. The island, too, I took for the grove that surrounded our house. On reaching its border, I literally dismounted, and shouted out for Charon Tommy. There was a stream running through our plantation, which, for nine months out of the twelve, was only passable by means of a ferry, and the old negro who officiated as ferryman was indebted to me for the above classical cognomen. I believe I called twice, nay, three times, but no Charon Tommy answered; and I awoke as from a pleasant dream, somewhat ashamed of the length to which my excited imagination had hurried me.
I now felt so weary and exhausted, so hungry and thirsty, and, withal, my mind was so anxious and harassed by my dangerous position, and the uncertainty how I should get out of it, that I was really incapable of going any further. I felt quite bewildered, and stood for some time gazing before me, and scarcely even troubling myself to think. At length I mechanically drew my clasp-knife from my pocket, and set to work to dig a hole in the rich black soil of the prairie. Into this hole I put the knotted end of my lasso, and then pushing it in the earth and stamping it down with my foot, as I had seen others do since I had been in Texas, I passed the noose over my mustang's neck, and left him to graze, while I myself lay down outside the circle which the lasso would allow him to describe. An odd manner, it may seem, of tying up a horse; but the most convenient and natural one in a country where one may often find one's-self fifty miles from any house, and five-and-twenty from a tree or bush.
I found it no easy matter to sleep, for on all sides I heard the howling of wolves and jaguars, an unpleasant serenade at any time, but most of all so in the prairie, unarmed and defenceless as I was. My nerves, too, were all in commotion, and I felt so feverish, that I do not know what I should have done, had I not fortunately remembered that I had my cigar-case and a roll of tobacco, real Virginia dulcissimus, in my pocket—invaluable treasures in my present situation, and which on this, as on many other occasions, did not fail to soothe and calm my agitated thoughts.
Luckily, too, being a tolerably confirmed smoker, I carried a flint and steel with me; for otherwise, although surrounded by lights, I should have been sadly at a loss for fire. A couple of Havannahs did me an infinite deal of good, and after a while I sunk into the slumber of which I stood so much in need.
The day was hardly well broken when I awoke. The refreshing sleep I had enjoyed had given me new energy and courage. I felt hungry enough, to be sure, but light and cheerful, and I hastened to dig up the end of the lasso, and saddled my horse. I trusted that, though I had been condemned to wander over the prairie the whole of the preceding day, as a sort of punishment for my rashness, I should now have better luck, and having expiated my fault, be at length allowed to find my way. With this hope I mounted my mustang, and resumed my ride.
I passed several beautiful islands of pecan, plum, and peach trees. It is a peculiarity worthy of remark, that these islands are nearly always of one sort of tree. It is very rare to meet with one where there are two sorts. Like the beasts of the forest, that herd together according to their kind, so does this wild vegetation preserve itself distinct in its different species. One island will be entirely composed of live oaks, another of plum, and a third of pecan trees; the vine only is common to them all, and embraces them all alike with its slender but tenacious branches. I rode through several of these islands. They were perfectly free from bushes and brushwood, and carpeted with the most beautiful verdure it is possible to behold. I gazed at them in astonishment. It seemed incredible that nature, abandoned to herself, should preserve herself so beautifully clean and pure, and I involuntarily looked around me for some trace of the hand of man. But none was there. I saw nothing but herds of deer, that gazed wonderingly at me with their large clear eyes, and when I approached too near, galloped off in alarm. What would I not have given for an ounce of lead, a charge of powder, and a Kentucky rifle? Nevertheless, the mere sight of the beasts gladdened me, and raised my spirits. They were a sort of society. Something of the same feeling seemed to be imparted to my horse, who bounded under me, and neighed merrily as he cantered along in the fresh spring morning.
I was now skirting the side of an island of trees of greater extent than most of those I had hitherto seen. On reaching the end of it, I suddenly came in sight of an object presenting so extraordinary an appearance as far to surpass any of the natural wonders I had as yet beheld, either in Texas or the United States.
At the distance of about two miles rose a colossal mass, in shape somewhat like a monumental mound or tumulus, and apparently of the brightest silver. As I came in view of it, the sun was just covered by a passing cloud, from the lower edge of which the bright rays shot down obliquely upon this extraordinary phenomenon, lighting it up in the most brilliant manner. At one moment it looked like a huge silver cone; then took the appearance of an illuminated castle with pinnacles and towers, or the dome of some great cathedral; then of a gigantic elephant, covered with trappings, but always of solid silver, and indescribably magnificent. Had all the treasures of the earth been offered me to say what it was, I should have been unable to answer. Bewildered by my interminable wanderings in the prairie, and weakened by fatigue and hunger, a superstitious feeling for a moment came over me, and I half asked myself whether I had not reached some enchanted region, into which the evil spirit of the prairie was luring me to destruction by appearances of supernatural strangeness and beauty.
Banishing these wild imaginings, I rode on in the direction of this strange object; but it was only when I came within a very short distance that I was able to distinguish its nature. It was a live oak of most stupendous dimensions, the very patriarch of the prairie, grown grey in the lapse of ages. Its lower limbs had shot out in an horizontal, or rather a downward-slanting direction; and, reaching nearly to the ground, formed a vast dome several hundred feet in diameter, and full a hundred and thirty feet high. It had no appearance of a tree, for neither trunk nor branches were visible. It seemed a mountain of whitish-green scales, fringed with long silvery moss, that hung like innumerable beards from every bough and twig. Nothing could better convey the idea of immense and incalculable age than the hoary beard and venerable appearance of this monarch of the woods. Spanish moss of a silvery grey covered the whole mass of wood and foliage, from the topmost bough down to the very ground; short near the top of the tree, but gradually increasing in length as it descended, until it hung like a deep fringe from the lower branches. I separated the vegetable curtain with my hands, and entered this august temple with feelings of involuntary awe. The change from the bright sunlight to the comparative darkness beneath the leafy vault, was so great, that I at first could scarcely distinguish any thing. When my eyes got accustomed to the gloom, however, nothing could be more beautiful than the effect of the sun's rays, which, in forcing their way through the silvered leaves and mosses, took as many varieties of colour as if they had passed through a window of painted glass, and gave the rich, subdued, and solemn light of some old cathedral.
The trunk of the tree rose, free from all branches, full forty feet from the ground, rough and knotted, and of such enormous size that it might have been taken for a mass of rock, covered with moss and lichens, while many of its boughs were nearly as thick as the trunk of any tree I had ever previously seen.
I was so absorbed in the contemplation of the vegetable giant, that for a short space I almost forgot my troubles; but as I rode away from the tree they returned to me in full force, and my reflections were certainly of no very cheering or consolatory nature. I rode on, however, most perseveringly. The morning slipped away; it was noon, the sun stood high in the cloudless heavens. My hunger had now increased to an insupportable degree, and I felt as if something were gnawing within me, something like a crab tugging and riving at my stomach with his sharp claws. This feeling left me after a time, and was replaced by a sort of squeamishness, a faint sickly sensation. But if hunger was bad, thirst was worse. For some hours I suffered martyrdom. At length, like the hunger, it died away, and was succeeded by a feeling of sickness. The thirty hours' fatigue and fasting I had endured were beginning to tell upon my naturally strong nerves: I felt my reasoning powers growing weaker, and my presence of mind leaving me. A feeling of despondency came over me—a thousand wild fancies passed through my bewildered brain; while at times my head grew dizzy, and I reeled in my saddle like a drunken man. These weak fits, as I may call them, did not last long; and each time that I recovered I spurred my mustang onwards, but it was all in vain—ride as far and as fast as I would, nothing was visible but a boundless sea of grass.
At length I gave up all hope, except in that God whose almighty hand was so manifest in the beauteous works around me. I let the bridle fall on my horse's neck, clasped my hands together, and prayed as I had never before prayed, so heartily and earnestly. When I had finished my prayer I felt greatly comforted. It seemed to me, that here in the wilderness, which man had not as yet polluted, I was nearer to God, and that my petition would assuredly be heard. I gazed cheerfully around, persuaded that I should yet escape from the peril in which I stood. As I did so, with what astonishment and inexpressible delight did I perceive, not ten paces off, the track of a horse!
The effect of this discovery was like an electric shock to me, and drew a cry of joy from my lips that made my mustang start and prick his ears. Tears of delight and gratitude to Heaven came into my eyes, and I could scarcely refrain from leaping off my horse and kissing the welcome signs that gave me assurance of succour. With renewed strength I galloped onwards; and had I been a lover flying to rescue his mistress from an Indian war party, I could not have displayed more eagerness than I did in following up the trail of an unknown traveller.
Never had I felt so thankful to Providence as at that moment. I uttered thanksgivings as I rode on, and contemplated the wonderful evidences of his skill and might that offered themselves to me on all sides. The aspect of every thing seemed changed, and I gazed with renewed admiration at the scenes through which I passed, and which I had previously been too preoccupied by the danger of my position to notice. The beautiful appearance of the islands struck me particularly as they lay in the distance, seeming to swim in the bright golden beams of the noonday sun, like dark spots of foliage in the midst of the waving grasses and many-hued flowers of the prairie. Before me lay the eternal flower-carpet with its innumerable asters, tuberoses, and mimosas, that delicate plant which, when you approach it, lifts its head, seems to look at you, and then droops and shrinks back in alarm. This I saw it do when I was two or three paces from it, and without my horse's foot having touched it. Its long roots stretch out horizontally in the ground, and the approaching tread of a horse or man is communicated through them to the plant, and produces this singular phenomenon. When the danger is gone by, and the earth ceases to vibrate, the mimosa may be seen to raise its head again, but quivering and trembling, as though not yet fully recovered from its fears.
I had ridden on for three or four hours, following the track I had so fortunately discovered, when I came upon the trace of a second horseman, who appeared to have here joined the first traveller. It ran in a parallel direction to the one I was following. Had it been possible to increase my joy, this discovery would have done so. I could now entertain no doubt that I had hit upon the way out of this terrible prairie. It struck me as being rather singular that two travellers should have met in this immense plain, which so few persons traversed; but that they had done so was certain, for there was the track of the two horses as plain as possible. The trail was fresh, too, and it was evidently not long since the horsemen had passed. It might still be possible to overtake them, and in this hope I rode on faster than ever, as fast, at least, as my mustang could carry me through the thick grass and flowers, which in many places were four or five feet high.
During the next three hours I passed over some ten or twelve miles of ground, but although the trail still lay plainly and broadly marked before me, I say nothing of those who had left it. Still I persevered. I must overtake them sooner or later, provided I did not lose the track; and that I was most careful not to do, keeping my eyes fixed upon the ground as I rode along, and never deviating from the line which the travellers had followed.
In this manner the day passed away, and evening approached. I still felt hope and courage; but my physical strength began to give way. The gnawing sensation of hunger increased. I was sick and faint; my limbs became heavy, my blood seemed chilled in my veins, and all my senses appeared to grow duller under the influence of exhaustion, thirst, and hunger. My eyesight became misty, my hearing less acute, the bridle felt cold and heavy in my fingers.
Still I rode on. Sooner or later I must find an outlet; the prairie must have an end somewhere. It is true the whole of Southern Texas is one vast prairie; but then there are rivers flowing through it, and if I could reach one of those, I should not be far from the abodes of men. By following the streams five or six miles up or down, I should be sure to find a plantation.
As I was thus reasoning with, and encouraging myself, I suddenly perceived the traces of a third horse, running parallel to the two which I had been so long following. This was indeed encouragement. It was certain that three travellers, arriving from different points of the prairie, and all going in the same direction, must have some object, must be repairing to some village or clearing, and where or what this was had now become indifferent to me, so long as I once more found myself amongst my fellow-men. I spurred on my mustang, who was beginning to flag a little in his pace with the fatigue of our long ride.
The sun set behind the high trees of an island that bounded my view westward, and there being little or no twilight in those southerly latitudes, the broad day was almost instantaneously replaced by the darkness of night. I could proceed no further without losing the track of the three horsemen; and as I happened to be close to an island, I fastened my mustang to a branch with the lasso, and threw myself on the grass under the trees.
This night, however, I had no fancy for tobacco. Neither the cigars nor the dulcissimus tempted me. I tried to sleep, but in vain. Once or twice I began to doze, but was roused again by violent cramps and twitchings in all my limbs. There is nothing more horrible than a night passed in the way I passed that one, faint and weak, enduring torture from hunger and thirst, striving after sleep and never finding it. I can only compare the sensation of hunger I experienced to that of twenty pairs of pincers tearing at my stomach.
With the first grey light of morning I got up and prepared for departure. It was a long business, however, to get my horse ready. The saddle, which at other times I could throw upon his back with two fingers, now seemed made of lead, and it was as much as I could do to lift it. I had still more difficulty to draw the girths tight; but at last I accomplished this, and scrambling upon my beast, rode off. Luckily my mustang's spirit was pretty well taken out of him by the last two days' work; for if he had been fresh, the smallest spring on one side would have sufficed to throw me out of the saddle. As it was, I sat upon him like an automaton, hanging forward over his neck, some times grasping the mane, and almost unable to use either rein or spur.
I had ridden on for some hours in this helpless manner, when I came to a place where the three horsemen whose track I was following had apparently made a halt, perhaps passed the previous night. The grass was trampled and beaten down in a circumference of some fifty or sixty feet, and there was a confusion in the horse tracks as if they had ridden backwards and forwards. Fearful of losing the right trace, I was looking carefully about me to see in what direction they had recommenced their journey, when I noticed something white amongst the long grass. I got off my horse to pick it up. It was a piece of paper with my own name written upon it; and I recognized it as the back of a letter in which my tobacco had been wrapped, and which I had thrown away at my halting-place of the preceding night. I looked around, and recognized the island and the very tree under which I had slept or endeavoured to sleep. The horrible truth instantly flashed across me—the horse tracks I had been following were my own: since the preceding morning I had been riding in a circle!
I stood for a few seconds thunderstruck by this discovery, and then sank upon the ground in utter despair. At that moment I should have been thankful to any one who would have knocked me on the head as I lay. All I wished for was to die as speedily as possible.
I remained I know not how long lying in a desponding, half insensible, state upon the grass. Several hours must have elapsed; for when I got up, the sun was low in the western heavens. My head was so weak and wandering, that I could not well explain to myself how it was that I had been thus riding after my own shadow. Yet the thing was clear enough. Without landmarks, and in the monotonous scenery of the prairie, I might have gone on for ever following my horses track, and going back when I thought I was going forwards, had it not been for the discovery of the tobacco paper. I was, as I subsequently learned, in the Jacinto prairie, one of the most beautiful in Texas, full sixty miles long and broad, but in which the most experienced hunters never risked themselves without a compass. It was little wonder then that I, a mere boy of two and twenty, just escaped from college, should have gone astray in it.
I now gave myself up for lost, and with the bridle twisted round my hand, and holding on as well as I could by the saddle and mane, I let my horse choose his own road. It would perhaps have been better if I had done this sooner. The beast's instinct would probably have led him to some plantation. When he found himself left to his own guidance he threw up his head, snuffed the air three or four times, and then turning round, set off in a contrary direction to that he was before going, and at such a brisk pace that it was as much as I could do to keep upon him. Every jolt caused me so much pain that I was more than once tempted to let myself fall off his back.
At last night came, and thanks to the lasso, which kept my horse in awe, I managed to dismount and secure him. The whole night through I suffered from racking pains in head, limbs, and body. I felt as if I had been broken on the wheel; not an inch of my whole person but ached and smarted. My hands were grown thin and transparent, my cheeks fallen in, my eyes deep sunk in their sockets. When I touched my face I could feel the change that had taken place, and as I did so I caught myself once or twice laughing like a child—I was becoming delirious.
In the morning I could scarcely rise from the ground, so utterly weakened and exhausted was I by my three days' fasting, anxiety, and fatigue. I have heard say that a man in good health can live nine days without food. It may be so in a room, or a prison; but assuredly not in a Texian prairie. I am quite certain that the fifth day would have seen the last of me.
I should never have been able to mount my mustang, but he had fortunately lain down, so I got into the saddle, and he rose up with me and started off of his own accord. As I rode along, the strangest visions seemed to pass before me. I saw the most beautiful cities that a painter's fancy ever conceived, with towers, cupolas, and columns, of which the summits lost themselves in the clouds; marble basins and fountains of bright sparkling water, rivers flowing with liquid gold and silver, and gardens in which the trees were bowed down with the most magnificent fruit—fruit that I had not strength enough to raise my hand and pluck. My limbs were heavy as lead, my tongue, lips, and gums, dry and parched. I breathed with the greatest difficulty, and within me was a burning sensation, as if I had swallowed hot coals; while my extremities, both hands and feet, did not appear to form a part of myself, but to be instruments of torture affixed to me, and causing me the most intense suffering.
I have a confused recollection of a sort of rushing noise, the nature of which I was unable to determine, so nearly had all consciousness left me; then of finding myself amongst trees, the leaves and boughs of which scratched and beat against my face as I passed through them; then of a sudden and rapid descent, with the broad bright surface of a river below me. I clutched at a branch, but my fingers had no strength to retain their grasp—there was a hissing, splashing noise, and the waters closed over my head.
I soon rose, and endeavoured to strike out with my arms and legs, but in vain; I was too weak to swim and again I went down. A thousand lights seemed to dance before my eyes: there was a noise in my brain as if a four-and-twenty pounder had been fired close to my ear. Just then a hard hand was wrung into my neck-cloth, and I felt myself dragged out of the water. The next instant my senses left me.
* * * * *
TRAVELS OF KERIM KHAN.
We left our friend the Khan, at length comfortably established in London, and pursuing his observations on the various novel objects of interest which every where presented themselves to his gaze. The streets lighted by gas (which the Persian princes call "the spirit of coals") are described in terms of the highest admiration—"On each side, as far as the eye could see, were two interminable lines of extremely brilliant light, produced by a peculiar kind of vapour here called gas, which made the city infinitely more interesting to look at by night than by day; but the most extraordinary thing in reference to the flame in the lamps was, that this appeared to be produced without the medium of either oil or wick, nor could I discern the cause of the lighting. The houses have from three to seven stages or stories, one of which is underground—each stage containing at least two rooms. The walls fronting the streets are of brick or stone, and the interior of woodwork; but the wood of the rooms inside is covered with a peculiar sort of paper of various colours and curious devices, highly elaborate and ingenious. The balconies outside were generally filled with flowers of various hues: but notwithstanding the wonders which surrounded me, and made me fancy myself in a world of talismanic creation, my spirits were for some time depressed, and this immense city seemed to me worse than the tomb; for I had not yet recovered from the bewilderment into which all that I had seen had thrown me."
The feeling of loneliness, resulting from this oppressive sense of novelty, wore off, however, as the Khan began to find out his friends, and accustom himself to the fashions of the country; and he was one day agreeably surprised by a visit from one of the suite of Moulavi Afzul Ali, an envoy to the Court of Directors from the Rajah of Sattarah; "I need not say how delighted I felt, not having the least idea of meeting any of my countrymen so far from Hindustan." The 11th of August, the day fixed for the prorogation of Parliament by the Queen, now arrived; and the khan "accompanied some gentlemen in a carriage to see the procession, but it was with extreme difficulty that we got a place where we could see her Majesty pass; at last, however, through the kindness of a mounted officer, we succeeded. First came the Shahzadehs, or princes of the blood, in carriages drawn by six horses, and then the wazirs (viziers) and nobles, and the ambassadors from foreign states, in vehicles, some with six, and some with four horses. When all these had passed, there came the Queen herself in a golden carriage, drawn by eight magnificent steeds; on her right was Prince Arleta, and opposite her was Lord Melbourne, the grand wazir, (prime minister.) The carriage was preceded by men who, I was surprised to observe, were dressed in the Hindustani fashion, in red and gold, with broad sleeves. But those nearest her Majesty, strange to say, wore almost exactly the costume of Hindustan, and to these my eyes were immediately directed; and I felt so delighted to see my own countrymen advanced to the honour of forming the body-guard of the sovereign, that I could scarcely believe the evidence of my senses, when I perceived on closer inspection, by their complexions, that they were English. Still I could not (nor can I even now) understand the reason of their adopting the Hindustani dress—though I was told on enquiry, that it was the ancient costume of the guard called yeomen." ... "As the Queen approached the people took off their hats, nor was I less astonished when I heard them begin to shout hurra! hurra! as she passed; which in their language seems to imply approbation. When her Majesty turned towards our carriage, I immediately made a salaam after the manner of my own country, which she graciously acknowledged, seeing, no doubt, that I was a native of a strange land!"
 This must have been one of the vakeels or envoys, whose departure from Bombay, in March 1839, is mentioned in the Asiatic Journal, (xxix. 178;) the party is there said, on the authority of the Durpun, (a native newspaper,) to have consisted of eleven, Mahrattas and Purbhoos, no mention being made of Moulavi Afzul Ali. We have been unable to trace the further proceedings of the deputation in this country; but they probably found on their arrival, that the fate of their master was already decided, as he was dethroned by the Company, in favour of his cousin Appa Sahib, in September of the same year, on the charge of having participated in a conspiracy against the English power. The justice, as well as policy of this measure, was, however, strongly canvassed, and gave rise to repeated and violent debates in the Court of Proprietors.
 The native servants of the Governor-General at Calcutta, on state occasions, wear splendid scarlet and gold caftans.—See Bishop Heber's Journal.
 The Khan nowhere exactly explains the surprise which he expresses, here and at other times, at the shouts of hurra!—perhaps his ear was wounded by the resemblance of the sound to certain Hindustani epithets, by no means refined or complimentary.
This fancied metamorphosis of the sturdy beef-eaters with their partisans, whose costume has never been altered since the days of Henry VII., into Hindustani peons and chuprassees, seems to show that the enthusiasm of the Khan must have been considerably excited—and after this cruel disappointment he dismisses the remainder of the procession in a few words. To a native of India, indeed, accustomed to see every petty rajah or nawab holding a few square miles of territory as the tenant of the Company, surrounded on state occasions by a crowd of the picturesque irregular cavalry of the East, and with a Suwarree or cavalcade of led horses, gayly caparisoned elephants, flaunting banners, and martial music, the amount of military display in attendance on the Queen of Great Britain must naturally have appeared inconsiderable—"The escort consisted of only some two hundred horsemen, but these were cased in steel and leather from head to foot, and their black horses were by far the finest I have yet seen in this country. But though the multitudes of people were immense, yet the procession tell much short of what I had expected from the monarch of so great and powerful a nation! I returned home, however, much gratified by the sights I had seen to-day."
The sight of this ceremony naturally leads to a digression on the origin and constitution of the English parliament, and its division into the two houses of Lords and Commons. The events leading to these institutions, and the antecedent civil wars between the king and the barons, in the reign of Henry III. and Edward I., are given by the Khan, on the whole, with great accuracy—probably from the information of his English friends since the knowledge of the ancient history and institutions of the country, which he displays both here and in other parts of his narrative, can scarcely have been acquired through the medium of a native education in Hindustan. The deductions which he draws, however, from this historical summary, are somewhat curious; since he assumes that the power of the crown, though limited in appearance by the concessions then made, and the legislative functions vested in parliament, was in truth only strengthened, and rendered more securely despotic:—"But this is entirely lost sight of by the people, who, even at the present day, imagine that the parliament is all-powerful, and the sovereign powerless. But I must be allowed to say, that those ancient monarchs acted wisely, and the result of their policy has not been sufficiently perceived.... For when parliament was constituted, the power of retaining armed vassals and servants, which the barons had enjoyed for so long a period, was abolished, and has never been resumed even by princes of the blood; so that they could no longer resist the authority of the king, who alone had the privilege of raising and maintaining troops—a right never conceded to parliament. Besides this the powers of life and death, and of declaring war, were identified with the person of the sovereign; and with respect to the latter, it is never, until it has been decided upon, even intimated to the parliament, which possesses only the power of collecting the taxes, from which the expenses of the war the king may enter into must be paid. The possession, therefore, of these two rights by the king, is equivalent to the tenure of absolute power." The possibility of the supplies being refused by a refractory House of Commons, seems either not to have occurred to the khan, or to have escaped his recollection at the moment of his penning this sentence; and though he subsequently alludes to the responsibility of ministers, he never seems to have comprehended the nature and extent of the control exercised by parliament over the finances of the nation, so fully as the Persian princes, who tell us, in their quaint phraseology, that "if the expenses that were made should be agreeable to the Commons, well and good—if not, the vizirs must stand the consequences; and every person who has given ten tomans of the revenue, has a right to rise up in the House of Commons, and seize the vizir of the treasury by the collar, saying, 'What have you done with my money?'"—a mode of putting to the question which, if now and then practically adopted by some hard-fisted son of the soil, we have no doubt would operate as a most salutary check on the vagaries of Chancellors of the Exchequer.
It is strange that the Khan should not, in this case, perceive the fallacy of his own argument, or see that the power of the sword must always virtually rest with the holder of the purse; since immediately afterwards, after enlarging on the enormous amount of taxes levied in England, the oppressive nature of some of them, especially the window-tax, "for the light of heaven is God's gift to mankind," he proceeds—"In other countries it would perhaps cost the king, who imposed such taxes, his head; but here the blame is laid on the House of Commons, without any one dreaming of censuring the sovereign, in whose name they are levied, and for whose use they are applied;" citing as a proof of this the ease with which the insurrection of Wat Tyler and his followers, against the capitation tax, was suppressed by the promise of the king to redress their grievances. The subject of English taxation, indeed, both from the amount levied, and the acquiescence of the people in such unheard-of burdens, seems to have utterly bewildered the khan's comprehension. "All classes, from the noble to the peasant, are alike oppressed; yet it is amusing to hear them expatiate on the institutions of their country, fancying it the freest and themselves the least oppressed of any people on earth! They are constantly talking of the tyranny and despotism of Oriental governments, without having set foot in any of those regions, or knowing any thing about the matter, except what they have gleaned from the imperfect accounts of superficial travellers—deploring the state of Turkey, Persia, and other Mahommedan countries, and calling their inhabitants slaves, when, if the truth were known, there is not a single kingdom of Islam, the people of which would submit to what the English suffer, or pay one-tenth of the taxes exacted from them."
 The views of Mirza Abu-Talib on this important subject, are far more enlightened and correct than those of Kerim Khan. "The public revenue of England," he observes, "is not, as in India, raised merely from the land, or by duties levied on a few kinds of merchandise, but almost every article of consumption pays its portion. The taxes are levied by the authority and decree of parliament; and are in general so framed as to bear lightly on the poor, and that every person should pay in proportion to his income. Thus bread, meat, and coals, being articles of indispensable use, are exempt; but spirits, wines, &c., are taxed very high; and the rich are obliged to pay for every horse, dog, and man-servant they keep; also for the privilege of throwing flour on their heads, and having their arms (insignia of the antiquity and rank of their family) painted on their carriages, &c. Since the commencement of the present war, a new law has been passed, compelling every person to pay annually a tenth of his whole income. Most of the taxes are permanent, but some of them are changed at the pleasure of parliament. Abu-Talib visited the country in the first years of the present century, when the capability of taxation was strained to the utmost, but the words which we have given in italics, contain the secret which Kerim failed to detect."
Relieved, it is to be hoped, by this tirade against the ignominious submission of the Franks to taxation, the Khan resumes the enumeration of the endless catalogue of wonders which the sights of London presented to him. On visiting the Polytechnic Institution—"which means, I understand, a place in which specimens of every science and art are to be seen in some mode or other, there being no science or art of any other country unknown here"—he briefly enumerates the oxyhydrogen microscope, "by which water was shown so full of little animals, nay, even monsters, as to make one shudder at the thought of swallowing a drop"—the orrery, the daguerreotype, and the diving-bell, (in which he had the courage to descend,) as the objects principally deserving notice, "since it would require several months, if not years, to give that attention to each specimen of human industry which it demands, in order thoroughly to understand it." The effects of the electrical machine, indeed, "by which fire was made to pass through the body of a man, and out of the finger-ends of his right hand, without his being in any way affected by it, though a piece of cloth, placed close to this right hand, was actually ignited," seem to have excited considerable astonishment in his mind; but it does not appear that his curiosity led him to make any attempt in investigating the hidden causes of these mysterious phenomena. His apathy in this respect presents a strong contrast with the minute and elaborate description of the same objects, the mode of their construction, and the uses to which they may be applied, given in the journal of the two Parsees, Nowrojee and Merwanjee. "To us," say they, "brought up in India for scientific pursuits, and longing ardently to acquire practical information connected with modern improvements, more particularly with naval architecture, steam-engines, steam-boats, and steam navigation, these two galleries of practical science (the Adelaide and Polytechnic) seemed to embrace all that we had come over to England to make ourselves acquainted with; and it was with gratitude to the original projectors of these institutions that we gazed on the soul-exciting scene before us. We thought of the enchantments related in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, and they faded away into nothingness compared with what we then saw."
But however widely apart the nonchalance of the Moslem, and the matter-of-fact diligence of the Parsee, may have placed them respectively in their appreciation of the scientific marvels of the Polytechnic Institution, they meet on common ground in their admiration of the wax-work exhibition of Madame Tussaud; though the Khan, who was not sufficiently acquainted with the features of our public characters to judge of the likenesses, expresses his commendation only in general terms. But the Parsees, with the naivete of children, break out into absolute raptures at recognising the features of Lord Melbourne, "a good-humoured looking, kind English gentleman, with a countenance, perhaps, representing frankness and candour more than dignity"—William IV., "looking the very picture of good-nature"—the Duke of Wellington, Lord Brougham, &c.; "indeed, we know of no exhibition (where a person has read about people) that will afford him so much pleasure, always recollecting that it is only one shilling, and for this you may stop just as long as you are inclined." Their remarks, on seeing the effigy of Voltaire, are too curious to be omitted. "He is an extraordinary-looking man, dressed so oddly too, with little pinched-up features, and his hair so curiously arranged. We looked much at him, thinking he must have had much courage, and have thought himself quite right in his belief, to have stood opposed to all the existing religious systems of his native land. He, however, and those who thought differently from him, have long since in another world experienced, that if men only act up to what they believe to be right, the Maker of the Deist, the Christian, and the Parsee, will receive them into his presence; and that it is the professor of religion, who is nothing but a professor, let his creed be what it may, that will meet with the greatest punishment from Him that ruleth all things." But before we quit the subject of this attractive exhibition, we must not omit to mention an adventure of the Persian princes, two of whom, having paid a previous visit, persuaded the third brother, on his accompanying them thither, that he was in truth in the royal palace, (whither he had been invited for one of the Queen's parties on the same evening.) and in the presence of the court and royal family! The embarrassment of poor Najef-Kooli at the morne silence preserved, which he interpreted as a sign of displeasure, is amusingly described, till, on touching one of the figures, "he fell down, and I observed that he was dead; and my brothers and Fraser Sahib laughed loudly, and said, 'These people are not dead but are all of them artificial figures of white wax.' Verily, no one would ever have thought that they were manufactured by men!"
 "The Parsees," says Mirza Abu-Talib, describing those whom he saw at Bombay on his return to India, "are not possessed of a spark of liberality or gentility.... The only Parsee I was ever acquainted with who had received a liberal education, was Moula Firoz, whom I met at the house of a friend; he was a sensible and well-informed man, who had travelled into Persia, and there studied mathematics, astronomy, and the sciences of Zoroaster." If this account be correct, a marvellous improvement must have taken place during the last forty years. Many of the Parsees of the present day are almost on a level with Europeans in education and acquirements; and in their adoption of our manners and customs, they stand alone among the various nations of our Oriental subjects—but their exclusive addiction to mercantile pursuits, and their pacific habits, (in both which points they are hardly exceeded by the Quakers of Europe,) make them objects of contempt to the haughty Moslems.
A few days after his visit to Madame Tussaud, we find the Khan making an excursion by the railroad to Southampton, in order to be present at a banquet given on board the Oriental steamer, by the directors of the Oriental Steam Navigation Company, from whom he had received a special invitation. With the exception of the brief transit from Blackwall to London on his arrival, this was his first trip by rail, but, as his place was in one of the close first-class carriages, he saw nothing of the machinery by which the motion was effected, "though such was the rapidity of the vehicles, that I could distinguish nothing but an expanse of green all round, nor could I perceive even the trunks of the trees. Every now and then we were carried through dark caverns, where we could not see each others' faces; and sometimes we met other vehicles coming in the opposite direction, which occasioned me no small alarm, as I certainly thought we should have been dashed to pieces, from the fearful velocity with which both were running. We reached Southampton, a distance of seventy-eight miles, in three hours; and what most surprised me was, being seriously told on our arrival, that we had been unusually long on our way. I was told that this iron road, from London to Southampton, cost six crores of rupees, (L.6,000,000.)" The town of Southampton is only briefly noticed as well built, populous, and flourishing; but he had no time to visit the beautiful scenery of the environs, as the entertainment took place the following afternoon in the cabin of the Oriental, "which is a very large vessel, well constructed, and in admirable order, and is intended to carry the dak (mail) to India, which is sent by the way of Sikanderiyah, (Alexandria.)" Our friend the khan, however, must have been always rather out of his element at a feast; unlike his countryman, Abu-Talib—who speedily became reconciled to the forbidden viands and wines of the Franks, and even carried his laxity so far as to express a hope, rather than a belief, that the brushes which he used were made of horsehair, and not of the bristles of the unclean beast—Kerim Khan appears (as we have seen on a previous occasion) never to have relaxed the austerity of the religious scruples which the Indian Moslems have borrowed from the Hindus, so far as to partake of food not prepared by his own people; and on the present occasion, in spite of the instances of his hosts, his simple repast consisted wholly of fruit. The cheers which followed on the health of the Queen being given, appeared to him, like those which hailed her passage at the prorogation of Parliament, a most incomprehensible and somewhat indecorous proceeding; his own health was also drunk as a lion, but "not being able to reply from my ignorance of the language, a gentleman of my acquaintance thanked them in my name; while I also stood up and made a salaam, as much as to say that I highly appreciated the honour done me." While the festivities were proceeding in the cabin, the steamer was got underway and making the circuit of the Isle of Wight; and on landing again at Southampton, "I was surrounded by a concourse of people, who had collected to look at me, imagining, no doubt, that I was some strange creature, the like of which they had never seen before." Whether from want of time or of curiosity, he left Portsmouth, and all the wonders of its arsenal and dockyard, unvisited, and after again going on board the Oriental the next day, to take leave of the captain and officers, returned in the afternoon by the railway to London.
He was next shown over the Bank of England, his remarks on which are devoid of interest, and he visited the Paddington terminus of the Great Western Railway, in the hope of gaining a more accurate idea of the nature of the locomotive machinery, the astonishing powers of which he had witnessed in his journey to Southampton. But mechanics were not the Khan's forte; and, dismissing the subject with the remark, that "it is so extremely complicated and difficult that a stranger cannot possibly understand it," he returns at once to the haunts of fashion, Hyde Park and the Opera. Hitherto the khan had been unaccountably silent on the subject of the "Frank moons, brilliant as the sun," (as the English ladies are called by the Persian princes, who, from the first, lose no opportunity of commemorating their beauty in the most rapturous strains of Oriental hyperbole;) but his enthusiasm is effectually kindled by the blaze of charms which meets his eye in the "bazar of beauty and garden of pleasure," as he terms the Park, his account of which he sums up by declaring, that, "were the inhabitants of the celestial regions to descend, they would at one glance forget the wonders of the heavens at the sight of so many bright eyes and beautiful faces! what, therefore, remains for mortals to do?" The Opera is, he says, "the principal tomashagah" (place of show or entertainment) in London, and best decorated and lighted;" though he does not go the length of affirming, as stated in the account given by the Persian princes, that "before each box are forty chandeliers of cut glass, and each has fifty lights!"—"I could not," continues the khan, "understand the subject of the performances—it was all singing, accompanied with various action, as if some story were meant to be related; but I was also told that the language was different from English, and that the majority of those present understood it no more than myself." The scanty drapery and liberal displays of the figurantes at first startled him a little; but "the beauty of those peris was such as might have enslaved the heart of Ferhad himself;" and he soon learned to view all their pirouettes and tours-de-force with the well-bred nonchalance of a man who had witnessed in his own country exhibitions nearly as singular in their way "though the style of dancing here was of course entirely different from what we see in India." The impression made by the sight of the ballet on the Parsees, who invariably reduce every thing to pounds, shillings, and pence, took a different form; and they express unbounded astonishment, on being told that Taglioni was paid a hundred and fifty guineas a-night, "that such a sum should be paid to a woman to stand a long time like a goose on one leg, then to throw one leg straight out, twirl round three or four times with the leg thus extended, curtsy so low as nearly to seat herself on the stage, and spring from one side of the stage to another, all which jumping about did not occupy an hour!"
 The Persian princes go more into detail; but we doubt whether their description will much facilitate the construction of a railway from Ispahan to Shiraz. "The roads on which the coaches are placed and fixed, are made of iron bars; all that seems to draw them is a box of iron, in which they put water to boil; underneath, this iron box is like an urn, and from it rises the steam which gives the wonderful force; when the steam rises up, the wheels take their motion, the coach spreads its wings, and the travellers become like birds."
Astley's (which the Persian princes call the "opera of the horse") was the Khan's next resort; and as the feats of horsemanship there exhibited did not require any great proficiency in the English language to render them intelligible, he appears to have been highly amused and gratified, and gives a long description of all he saw there, which would not present much of novelty to our readers. He was also taken by some of his acquaintance to see the industrious fleas in the Strand; but this exhibition, which accorded unbounded gratification to the grandsons of Futteh Ali Shah, seems to have been looked upon by the khan rather with contempt, as a marvellous piece of absurdity. "Would any one believe that such a sight as this could possibly be witnessed any where in the world? but, having personally seen it, I cannot altogether pass it over." But the then unfinished Thames Tunnel, which he had the advantage of visiting in company with Mr Brunel, appears to have impressed his mind more than any other public work which he had seen; and his remarks upon it show, that he was at pains to make himself accurately acquainted with the nature and extent of the undertaking, the details of which he gives with great exactness. "But," he concludes, "it is impossible to convey in words an adequate idea of the labour that must have been spent upon this work, the like of which was never before attempted in any country. The emperors of Hindustan, who were monarchs of so many extensive provinces, and possessed such unlimited power and countless treasures, desired a bridge to be thrown across the Jumna to connect Delhi with the city of Shahdarah—yet an architect could not be found in all India who could carry this design into execution. Yet here a few merchants formed a company, and have executed a work infinitely transcending that of the most elaborate bridge ever built. In the first instance, as I was given to understand, they applied to Government for leave to construct a bridge at the same spot, but as it was objected that this would impede the navigation of the river, they formed the design, at the suggestion of the talented engineer above mentioned, of actually making their way across the river underground, and commenced this great work in spite of the general opinion of the improbability of success."
 The Parsees, in their account of the Tunnel, mention a fact now not generally remembered, that the attempt was far from a new one:—"In 1802, a Cornish miner having been selected for the purpose, operations were commenced 330 feet from the Thames, on the Rotherhithe side. Two or three different engineers were engaged, and the affair was nearly abandoned, till in 1809 it was quite given up."
"Some days after this," continues the khan, "I paid a visit to the Tower, which is the fortress of London, placed close to the Thames on its left bank. Within the ramparts is another fort of white stone, which in past times was frequently occupied by the sovereigns of the country. It is said to have been constructed by King William, surnamed Muzuffer, or the Conqueror; others are of opinion that it was founded by Keesar the Roman emperor; but God alone can solve this doubt. In times past it was also used as a state prison for persons of rank, and was the scene of the execution of most of the princes and nobles whose fate is recorded in the chronicles of England. They still show the block on which the decapitations took place." Among the trophies in the armoury, he particularizes the gun and girdle of Tippoo Sultan, "which seemed to be taken great care of, and were preserved under a glass case;" but the horse armoury and the regalia, usually the most attractive part of the exhibition to strangers, are passed over with but slight notice, though, from the Parsees, the sight of the equestrian figures in the former, draws the only allusion which escapes them throughout their narrative to the fallen glories of their race. "The representations of some of these monarchs was in the very armour they wore; and we were here very forcibly put in mind of Persia, once our own country, where this iron clothing was anciently used; but, alas! we have no remains of these things; all we know of them is from historical works." The crown jewels might have been supposed to present to a native of India an object of peculiar interest; but the khan remarks only the great ruby, "which is so brilliant that (it is said) one would be able to read by its light by placing it on a book in the dark. I made some enquiries respecting its value, but could not get no satisfactory answer, as they said no jeweller could ascertain it."
It would appear that the Khan must now have been for several months resident in London, (for he takes no note of the lapse of time,) since we next find him a spectator of the pomps and pageants of Lord Mayor's day. He gives no account, however, of the procession, but contents himself with informing his readers that the Lord Mayor (except in his tenure of office being annual instead of for life) is the same as a "patel" or "mukaddam" in the East: adding that "he is the only person in England, except the sovereign, who is allowed to have a train of armed followers in attendance on him." It is not very evident whether the idea of civic army was suggested to the mind of the khan simply by the sight of the men in armour in the procession, or whether dark rumours had reached his ear touching the prowess of the Lumber troopers, and other warlike bodies which march under the standard of the Lord Mayor; but certain it is that this most pacific of potentates cannot fairly be charged with abusing the formidable privilege thus attributed to him—the city sword never having been unsheathed in mortal fray, as far as our researches extend, since Wat Tyler fell before the doughty arm of Sir William of Walworth. On returning from the show, the khan was taken to see Newgate, with the gloomy aspect of which, and the silent and strict discipline enforced among the prisoners, he was deeply impressed; "to these poor wretches the gate of mercy is indeed shut, and that of hardship and oppression thrown open." His sympathies were still more strongly awakened on discovering among those unfortunate creatures an Indian Moslem, who proved, on enquiry, to be a Lascar sailor, imprisoned for selling smuggled cigars—"and, in my ignorance of the laws and customs of the country, I was anxious to procure his liberation by paying the fine; but my friends told me that this was absolutely impossible, and that he must remain the full time in prison. So we could only thank the governor for his attention, and then took our departure."
Following the steps of the Khan from grave to gay, in his desultory course through the endless varieties of "Life in London," we are at once transported from the dismal cells of Newgate to the fancy-dress ball at Guildhall for the aid of the refugee Poles. This seems to have been the first scene of the kind at which Kerim Khan had been present since his arrival in England; and though he was somewhat scandalized at perceiving that some of those in male attire were evidently ladies, he describes with considerable effect "the infinite variety of costumes, all very different from those of England, as if each country had contributed its peculiar garb," the brilliant lighting and costly decoration of the rooms, and the picturesque grouping of the vast assemblage. But his first impressions on English dancing are perfectly unique in their way, and we can only do justice to them by quoting them at length. "It is so entirely unlike any thing we ever heard of in Hindustan, that I cannot refrain from giving a slight sketch of what I saw. In the first place, the company could not have been fewer than 1500 or 2000, of the highest classes of society, the ministers, the nobles, and the wealthy, with their wives and daughters. Several hundreds stood up, every gentleman with a lady; and they advanced and retired several times, holding each other by the hand, to the sound of the music: at last the circle they had formed broke up, some running off to the right, and some to the left—then a gentleman, leaving his lady, would strike out obliquely across the room, sometimes making direct for another lady at a distance, and sometimes stooping and flourishing with his legs as he went along: when he approached her, he made a sort of salaam, and then retreated. Another would go softly up to a lady, and then suddenly seizing her by the waist, would turn and twist her round and round some fifty times till both were evidently giddy with the motion: this was sometimes performed by a few chosen dancers, and sometimes by several hundreds at once—all embracing each other in what, to our notions, would seem rather an odd sort of way, and whirling round and round; and though their feet appeared constantly coming in contact with each other, a collision never took place. And those who met in this affectionate manner were, as I was told, for the most part perfect strangers to each other, which to me was incomprehensible! Several ladies asked me to dance with them, but I excused myself by saying that their dancing was so superlatively beautiful that it was sufficient to admire it, and that I was afraid to try—'besides,' said I, 'it is contrary to our customs in Hindustan.' To which they replied that India was far off, and no one could see me. 'But,' said I 'there are people who put every thing in the newspapers, and if my friends heard of it I should lose caste.' The ladies smiled; and after this I was not asked to dance." The Persian princes, when in a similar dilemma, evaded the request by "taking oath that we did not know how, and that our mother did not care to teach us; and thank God," concludes Najef-Kooli with heartfelt gratitude, "we never did dance. God protect the faithful from it!" Independent of the above recorded opinions on the singularity of quadrilles and waltzes, the khan takes this occasion to enter into a disquisition on the inconsistency (doubly incongruous to an Oriental eye) of the ladies having their necks, arms, and shoulders uncovered, while the men are clothed up to the chin, "and not even their hands are allowed to be seen bare," and returned from the ball, no doubt, more lost than ever in wonder at the strange extravagances of the Feringhis.
These opinions are repeated, shortly after, on the occasion of the Khan's being present at an evening party at Clapham, which, as the invitation was for the country, he seems to have expected to find quite a different sort of affair from the entertainments at which he had already assisted in London. He was greatly surprised, therefore, to find the assemblage, on his arrival, engaged in the everlasting toil of dancing, "the men, as usual in this country, clad all in dismal black, and the ladies sparkling in handsome costumes of bright and variegated colours—another singular custom, of which I never could learn or guess the reason." But, however great a bore the sight of quadrilles may have been to the khan, ample amends were made to him on this occasion by the musical performances, with which several of the ladies ("though they all at first refused, evidently from modesty") gratified the company in the intervals of the dance, and at which he expresses unbounded delight; but this does not prevent his again launching out into a tirade against the unseemly methods, as they appear to him, used by the English to signify applause or approbation. "The strangest custom is, that the audience clapped their hands in token of satisfaction whenever any of the ladies concluded their performance.... The only occasion on which such an exhibition of feeling is to be witnessed in Hindustan, is when some offender is put upon a donkey, with a string of old shoes round his neck, and his face blackened and turned to the tail, and in this plight expelled from the city. Then only do the boys—men never—clap their hands and cry hurra! hurra! Thus, that which in one country implies shame and disgrace, is resorted to in another to express the highest degree of approbation!"
Passing over the Khan's visits to the Athenaeum Club-house, to Buckingham Palace, &c., his remarks on which contain nothing noticeable, except his mistaking some of the ancient portraits in the palace, from their long beards and rosaries, for the representations of Moslem divines, we find him at last fairly in the midst of an English winter, and an eyewitness of a spectacle of all others the most marvellous and incredible to a Hindustani, and which Mirza Abu-Talib, while describing it, frankly confesses he cannot expect his countrymen to believe—the ice and the skaters in the Regent's Park. "What I had previously seen in the summer as water, with birds swimming and boats rowing upon it, was now transformed into an immense sheet of ice as hard as rock, on which thousands of persons, men, women, and children, were actually walking, running, and figuring in the most extraordinary manner. I saw men pass with the rapidity of an arrow, turning, wheeling, retrograding, and describing figures with surprising agility, sometimes on both, but more frequently on only one leg; they had all a piece of steel, turned up in front somewhat in the manner of our slippers, fastened to their shoes, by means of which they propelled themselves as I have described. After much persuasion, I went on the ice myself; though not without considerable fear; yet such a favourite sport is this with the English, and so infatuated are some of these ice players, that nothing will deter them from venturing on those places which are marked as dangerous; and thus many perish, like moths that sacrifice themselves in the candle flame. They have, therefore, parties of men, with their dresses stuffed with air-cushions, whose duty it is to watch on the ice, ready to plunge in whenever it breaks and any one is immersed."
 Bishop Heber, in his journal, also mentions the wonder of his Bengali servants on their first sight of a piece of ice in Himalaya, and their regret on finding that they could not carry it home to Calcutta as a curiosity.
The national theatres were now open for the winter, and the Khan paid a visit to Covent-Garden; but he gives no particulars of the performances which he witnessed, though he was greatly struck by the splendour of the lighting and decoration, and still more by the almost magical celerity with which the changes of scenery were effected. The scanty notice taken of these matters, may perhaps be partly accounted for by the extraordinary fascination produced in the mind of the khan by the charms of one of the houris on the stage—whose name, though he does not mention it, our readers will probably have no difficulty in supplying; and it may be doubted whether the warmest panegyrics of the most ardent of her innumerable admirers ever soared quite so high a pitch into the regions of hyperbole as the Oriental flights of the khan, who exhausts, in the praise of her attractions, all the imagery of the eastern poets. She is described as "cypress-waisted, rose-cheeked, fragrant as amber, and sweet as sugar, a stealer of hearts, who unites the magic of talismans with loveliness transcending that of the peris! When she bent the soft arch of her eyebrows, she pierced the heart through and through with the arrows of her eyelashes; and when she smiled, the heart of the most rigid ascetic was intoxicated! She was gorgeously arrayed, and covered all over with jewels—and the tout-ensemble of her appearance was such as would have riveted the gaze of the inhabitants of the spheres—what, then, more can a mere mortal say?"