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   Chapter 2 No.2

Here, There and Everywhere By Lord Frederic Hamilton Characters: 46455

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05

Mighty Kinchinjanga-The inconceivable splendours of a Himalayan sunrise-The last Indian telegraph-office-The irrepressible British Tommy-An improvised garden-An improvised Durbar Hall-A splendid ceremony-A native dinner-The disguised Europeans-Our shocking table-manners-Incidents-Two impersonations; one successful, the other reverse-I come off badly-Indian jugglers-The rope-trick-The juggler, the rope, and the boy-An inexplicable incident-A performing cobra scores a success-Ceylon "Devil Dancers"-Their performance-The Temple of the Tooth-The uncovering of the Tooth-Details concerning-An abominable libel-Tea and coffee-Peradeniya Gardens-The upas tree of Java-Colombo an Eastern Clapham Junction-The French lady and the savages-The small Bermudian and the inhabitants of England.

During our early morning walks through the jungle-tracts of Assam, on clear days we occasionally caught a brief glimpse of a glittering white cone on the horizon. This was mighty Kinchinjanga, the second highest mountain in the world, distant then from us I should be afraid to say how many miles.

To see Kinchinjanga to perfection, one must go to Darjeeling. What a godsend this cool hill-station is to Calcutta, for in twenty hours the par-boiled Europeans by the Hooghly can find themselves in a temperature like that of an English April. At Silliguri, where the East Bengal Railway ends, some humorist has erected, close to the station, a sign-post inscribed "To Lhassa 359 miles." The sign-post has omitted to state that this entails an ascent of 16,500 feet. The Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway, an intrepid little mountain-climber, looks as though it had come out of a toy-shop, for the gauge is only two feet, and the diminutive engines and carriages could almost be pulled about with a string. As the little train pants its leisurely way up 6000 feet, it is worth while noticing how the type of the country people changes. The brown-skinned Aryan type of the plains is soon replaced by the yellow, flat-faced Mongolian type of the hills, and the women actually have a tinge of red in their cheeks.

The first time that I was at Darjeeling it was veiled in perpetual mists; on the last occasion, to compensate for this, there were ten days of continual clear weather. Then it is that it is worth while getting up at 5.30 a.m. and going down into a frost-nipped garden, there to wait patiently in the dark. In the eastern sky there is that faintest of jade-green glimmers, known as the "false dawn"; below it the deep valleys are still wrapped in dark purple shadows, when quite suddenly Homer's "rosy-fingered dawn," rododachtulos Aeos, (was ever more beautiful epithet coined?) lays one shy, tentative finger-tip of blazing, flaming crimson on a vast unseen bulk, towering up 28,000 feet into the air. Then quickly comes a second flaming finger-tip, and a third, until you are fronting a colossal pyramid of the most intensely vivid rose-colour imaginable. It is a glorious sight! Suddenly, in one minute, the crimson splendour is replaced by the most dazzling, intense white, and as much as the eye can grasp of the two-thousand-mile-long mountain-rampart springs into light, peak after peak, blazing with white radiance, whilst the world below is still slumbering in the half-shadows, and the valleys are filled with purple darkness. I do not believe that there is any more splendidly sublime sight to be seen in the whole world. For a while the eternal snows, unchanging in their calm majesty, dominate the puny world below, and then, because perhaps it would not be good to gaze for long on so magnificent a spectacle, the mists fall and the whole scene is blotted out, leaving in the memory a revelation of unspeakable grandeur. I saw this sunrise daily for a week, and its glories seemed greater every day. For some reason that I cannot explain it always recalled to me a passage in Job xxxviii, "When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy."

No one has ever yet succeeded in scaling Kinchinjanga, and I do not suppose that any one ever will.

Darjeeling itself, in spite of its magnificent surroundings, looks like a portion of a transplanted London suburb, but there is a certain piquancy in reflecting that it is only fifteen miles from the borders of Tibet. The trim, smug villas of Dalhousie and Auckland Roads may have electric light, and neat gardens full of primroses; fifteen miles away civilisation, as we understand the term, ends. There are neither roads, post-offices, telegraphs nor policemen; these tidy commonplace "Belle Vues," "Claremonts" and "Montpeliers" are on the very threshold of the mysterious Forbidden Land. An Army doctor told me that he had been up at the last frontier telegraph-office of India. It is well above the line of snows, and one would imagine it a terrible place of captivity for the Sergeant and four Privates (all white men) in charge of it, but the spirits of the British Tommy are unquenchable. The men had amused themselves by painting notices, and the perpetual snow round the telegraph-office was dotted with boards: "this way to the swings and boats"; "the public are requested not to walk on the newly sown grass"; "try our famous shilling teas"; "all season-tickets must be shown at the barrier," and many more like them. It takes a great deal to depress the average British soldier.

Natives of India are extraordinarily good at "camouflaging" improvised surroundings, for they have been used to doing it for centuries. I was once talking to Lord Kitchener at his official house in Fort William, Calcutta, when he asked me to come and have a look at the garden. He informed me that he was giving a garden-party to fifteen hundred guests in three days' time, and wondered whether the space were sufficient for it. I told him that I was certain that it was not, and that I doubted whether half that number could get in. "Very well," said Lord Kitchener, "I shall have the whole of the Fort ditch turned into a garden to-morrow." Next day he had eight hundred coolies at work. They levelled the rough sand, marked out with pegs walks of pounded bricks, which they flattened, sowed the sand with mustard and cress and watered it abundantly to counterfeit lawns, and finally brought cartloads of growing flowers, shrubs and palms, which they "plunged" in the mustard-and-cress lawns, and in thirty-six hours there was a garden apparently established for years. It is true that the mustard-and-cress lawns did not bear close inspection, but, on the other hand, you could eat them, which you cannot do with ours. Lord Kitchener was fond of saying that he had never been intended for a soldier, but for an architect and house-decorator. Certainly the additions made to his official house, which were all carried out from his own designs, were very effective and in excellent taste.

In a country like India, where so much takes place out of doors, wonderful effects can be produced, as Lord Kitchener said, with some rupees, some native boys, and a good many yards of insulated wire. The boys are sent climbing up the trees; they drop long pieces of twine to which the electric wires are tied; they haul them up, and proceed to wire the trees and to fix coloured bulbs up to their very tops. Night comes; a switch is pressed, and every tree in the garden is a blaze of ruby, sapphire, or emerald, with the most admirable result.

Lord Minto was holding a large Investiture of the "Star of India" the last time that I was in Calcutta. He wished to have at least two thousand people present, and large as are the rooms at Government House, not one of them would contain anything like that number, so Lord Minto had an immense canvas Durbar Hall constructed. Here again the useful factor comes in of knowing to a day when the earliest possible shower of rain is due. The tent, a huge flat-topped "Shamyana," was, when finished, roughly paved with bricks, over which were spread priceless Persian and Indian carpets from the "Tosho Khana" or Treasury. The sides and roof were stretched at one end with sulphur-coloured Indian silk, at the other with pale blue silk, the yellow silk with a two-foot border of silver tinsel, the blue edged with gold tinsel. Cunning craftsmen from Agra fashioned "camouflage" doorways and columns of plaster, coloured and gilt in the style of the arabesques in the Alhambra, and the thing was done; almost literally,

"Out of the earth a fabric huge

Rose like an exhalation,"

and it would be impossible to imagine a more splendid setting for a great pageant. Some one on the Viceroy's staff must have had a great gift for stage-management, for every detail had been carefully thought out. The scarlet and gold of the Troopers of the Body-guard, standing motionless as brown statues, the mace-men with their gilt standards, the entry of the Rajahs, all in full gala costume, with half the amount of our pre-war National Debt hanging round their necks in the shape of diamonds and of uncut rubies and emeralds, the Knights of the Star of India in their pale-blue mantles, the Viceroy seated on his silver-gilt throne at the top of a flight of steps, on which all the Durbar carpets of woven gold were displayed, made, under the blaze of electric light, an amazingly gorgeous spectacle only possible in the East, and it would be difficult for any European to have equalled the immense dignity of the Native Princes.

Custom forbids the Viceroy's wife to dine out, but it had been long agreed between Lady Lansdowne and the Maharanee of Cooch Behar, that should she ever return to India as a private person she should come to a dinner served native fashion, "on the floor." My sister having returned to Calcutta for her son's marriage in 1909, the Maharanee reminded her of this promise. Upon arriving at the house, Lady Lansdowne and two other European ladies were conducted up-stairs to be arrayed in native garb, whilst the Maharajah's sons with great glee took charge of myself, of yet another nephew of mine, and of the Viceroy's head aide-de-camp. Although it can hardly be taken as a compliment, truth compels me to confess that the young Cooch Behars considered my figure reminiscent of that of a Bengalee gentleman. With some slight shock to my modesty, I was persuaded to discard my trousers, being draped in their place with over thirty yards of white muslin, wound round and round, and in and out of my lower limbs. A dark blue silk tunic, and a flat turban completed my transformation into a Bengalee country squire, or his equivalent. My nephew, being very slight and tall, was at once turned into a Sikh, with skin-tight trousers, a very high turban, and the tightest of cloth-of-gold tunics, whilst the other young man, a good-looking dark young fellow, became a Rajput prince, and shimmered with silver brocades. I must own that European ladies do not show up to advantage in the native saree. Their colouring looks all wrong, and they have not the knack of balancing their unaccustomed draperies. Our ladies all looked as though they were terrified that their voluminous folds would suddenly slip off (which, indeed, they owned was the case), leaving them most indelicately lightly clad. One could not help observing the contrast between the nervousness of the three European ladies, draped respectively in white and gold, pink and silver, and blue and gold, and the grace with which the Maharanee, with the ease of long practice, wore her becoming saree of brown and cloth of gold. As it had been agreed that strict native fashion was to be observed, we were all shoeless. The Maharanee, laughing like a child, sprinkled us with rose-water, and threw garlands of flowers and wreaths of tinsel round our necks. I felt like a walking Christmas-tree as we went down to dinner.

Round a large, empty, marble-paved room, twelve little red-silk beds were disposed, one for each guest. In front of each bed stood an assemblage of some thirty silver bowls, big and little, all grouped round a large silver platter, piled a foot high with a pyramid of rice. This was the entire dinner, and there were, of course, neither knives nor forks. No one who has not tried it can have any idea of the difficulty of plunging the right hand into a pile of rice, of attempting to form a ball of it, and then dipping it at haphazard into one of the silver bowls of mysterious preparations. Very little of my rice ever reached my mouth, for it insisted on spreading itself greasily over the marble floor, and I was gratified at noting that the European ladies managed no better than I did. Added to which, half-lying, half-reclining on the little silk beds, the unaccustomed European gets attacked by violent cramps; one is also conscious of the presence of bones in the most unexpected portions of one's anatomy, and these bones begin aching furiously in the novel position. Some native dishes are excellent; others must certainly be acquired tastes. For instance, after a long course of apprenticeship one might be in a position to appreciate snipe stewed in rose-water, and I am convinced that asafoetida as a dressing to chicken must be delicious to those trained to it from their infancy. A quaint sweet, compounded of cocoa-nut cream and rose-water, and gilded all over with gold-leaf, lingers in my memory. As hands naturally get greasy, eating in this novel fashion, two servants were constantly ready with a silver basin and a long-necked silver ewer, with which to pour water over soiled hands. This basin and ewer delighted me, for in shape they were exactly like the ones that "the little captive maid" was offering to Naaman's wife in a picture which hung in my nursery as a child, I liked watching the graceful play of the wrists and arms of the Maharanee and her daughters as they conveyed food to their mouths; it was a contrast to the clumsy, ineffectual efforts of the Europeans.

The aide-de-camp looked so wonderfully natural as a Rajput prince (and that, too, without any brown make-up) that we wished him to dress-up in the same clothes next day and to go and write his name on the Viceroy, to see if he could avoid detection.

These sorts of impersonations have to be done very thoroughly if they are to succeed. I have recounted elsewhere how my father won the rowing championship of the Mediterranean with his four-oar, in 1866. The course being such a severe one, his crew had to train very rigorously. It occurred to my father, who was extremely fond of boxing himself, that a little daily practice with the gloves might with advantage form part of the training. He accordingly had four pairs of boxing-gloves sent out from England, and he and the crew had daily bouts in our coach-house. The Duc de Vallombrosa was a great friend of my family's, and used to watch this boxing with immense interest. The Duc was a huge man, very powerfully built, but had had no experience with the gloves. The present Sir David Erskine was the youngest member of the crew, and was very slender and light built, and it struck my father one day that it would be interesting to see this comparative stripling put on the gloves with the great burly Frenchman. Sir David realised that his only chance with his huge brawny opponent was to tire him out, for should this formidable Colossus once get home on him, he would be done. He made great play with his foot-work, skipping round his big opponent and pommelling every inch of his anatomy that he could reach, and successfully dodging the smashing blows that his slow-moving antagonist tried to deal him. Suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, the big Frenchman collapsed. The Duc de Vallombrosa took his defeat in the most sportsmanlike fashion, but he remembered who had originally proposed the match.

A week later my father was riding home from a picnic with some ladies. As their horses were tired, he proposed that they should save a long round by riding along the railway line and over a railway bridge. The Due de Vallombrosa heard of this. Some few nights later two gendarmes in full uniform appeared at our villa after dark, and the bigger of the two demanded in the most peremptory fashion to be taken in to my father at once, leaving the younger one to watch the front door, where we could all see him marching up and down. When ushered in to my father, the gendarme, a huge, fiercely bearded man, adopted the most truculent manner. It had come to the knowledge of the police, he said, that my father had ridden on horse-back over a railway bridge, and along the line. Did he admit it? My father at once owned that he had done so, but pleaded ignorance, should he have broken any rule. Ignorance was no excuse, retorted the gendarme, even foreigners were supposed to know the law. The big bearded gendarme, whose tone became more hectoring and bullying every moment, went on to say that my father had broken Article 382 of the French Penal Code, a very serious offence indeed, punishable with from three to six months' imprisonment. My father smiled, and drawing out his pocket-book, said that he imagined that the offence could be compounded. The stern officer of the law grew absolutely furious; did my father suppose that a French gendarme could be bribed into forgetting his duty? He would now take my father to the lock-up to pass the night there until the proces verbal should be drawn up, and though he regretted it, his orders in similar cases were always to handcuff his prisoners. The family, who had gathered together on hearing the loud altercation, were struck with consternation. The idea of our parent being led in fetters through a French town, and then flung into a French dungeon, was so unspeakably painful to us that we were nearly throwing ourselves at the big policeman's feet to implore him to spare our progenitor, when the burly gendarme suddenly pulled off his false beard, revealing the extensive but familiar features of the Duc de Vallombrosa. The second slight-built gendarme at the door, proved to be General Sir George Higginson, most admirably made up. My father insisted on the two gendarmes dining with us. As our servants were not in the secret, the presence of two French policemen in uniform at the family dinner-table must have rather surprised them.

I must plead guilty myself to another attempt at impersonation. During my father's second term of office as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, my mother had a severe nervous breakdown, due to the unexpected death of a very favourite sister of mine. One of the principal duties of a Lord Lieutenant is (or rather was) to entertain ceaselessly, and private mourning was not supposed to interfere with this all-important task. So, after a respite of four months, the endless round of dinners, dances, and balls recommenced, but my mother could not forget her loss, and had no heart for any festivities, nor did she wish to meet strangers. My father took a house for her on the sea-coast near Dublin, to which she retired, and my only remaining unmarried sister took, with Queen Victoria's permission, my mother's place as Lady Lieutenant for two years.

A brother cannot be an impartial judge of his sister's personal appearance, but I have always understood that my seven sisters were regarded by most people as ranking only second to the peerless Moncrieffe sisters as regards beauty. Certainly I thought this particular sister, the late Lady Winterton, surpassed the others in outward appearance, for she had beautiful and very refined features, and the most exquisite skin and complexion. I thought her a most lovely apparition when covered with my mother's jewels.

In those days (how far off they seem!) one of the great events of the Dublin Season was the Gala-night at the theatre, or "Command Night" as it was called, when all the men wore uniform or Court dress, and the ladies their very best clothes. When the Lord and Lady Lieutenant entered the State box, attended by the various members of their Household, the audience stood up, the band playing "God Save the Queen!" (yes, that was in Dublin in 1875!), and the Viceregal pair then bowed their acknowledgments to the house from their box.

On the "Command Night" in 1875 my sister took my mother's place, and, as I have already said, diamonds were exceedingly becoming to her. According to custom, she went to the front of the box, and made a low sweeping curtsey to the audience. Ten days later she received a letter from an unknown correspondent, together with a photograph of a portly elderly man with large grey whiskers. He had been taken in an unusual position, for he was making a low bow and holding his high hat at arm's length from him. The writer explained that on the Command Night my sister had bowed to him in the most marked way. So taken aback was he, that he had not acknowledged it. He, therefore, to make amends, had had himself photographed in an attitude of perpetual salutation. Other letters rained in on my sister from the eccentric individual, and he sent her almost weekly fresh presentments of his unprepossessing exterior, but always in a bowing attitude. We made, naturally, inquiries about this person, and found that he was an elderly widower, a hatter by trade, who had retired from business after making a considerable fortune, and was living in Rathmines, a South Dublin suburb. The hatter was undoubtedly mad, a mental infirmity for which there is, of course, ample precedent in the case of gentlemen of his profession.

On one occasion, when my sister was leaving for England, the hatter, having purchased a number of fireworks, chartered a rowing-boat, and as the mail-steamer cleared the Kingstown pier-heads, a bouquet of rockets and Roman candles coruscated before the eyes of the astonished passengers. I was then eighteen, and as none of us had set eyes on the hatter, it occurred to me that it would be rather fun to impersonate him, so, taking a photograph with me as guide, I got his bald grey head and long grey whiskers accurately copied by a Dublin theatrical wig-maker. It would have been difficult to carry out my idea at the Viceregal Lodge, for in the hall there, in addition to the regular hall-porter, there was always a constable in uniform and a plain-clothes man on duty, to prevent the entry of unauthorised persons, so I waited until we had moved to Baron's Court. Here I made careful preparations, and arranged to dress and makeup at the house of the Head-Keeper, a great ally of mine. I was met here by a hack-car ordered from the neighbouring town, and drove up to the front door armed with a nosegay the size of a cart-wheel, composed of dahlias, hollyhocks and sunflowers. I gave the hatter's name at the door, and was ushered by the unsuspecting footman into a library, where I waited an interminable time-with my gigantic bouquet in my hand. At length the door opened, but instead of my sister, as I had anticipated, it admitted my father, and my father had a hunting-crop in his hand, and to the crop was attached a heavy thong. His first words left me in no doubt as to his attitude. "So, sir," he thundered, "you are the individual who has had the impertinence to pester my daughter with your attentions.

I am going to give you, sir, a lesson that you will remember to the end of your life," and the crop was lifted. Fortunately the room was crowded with furniture, so, crouching between tables, and dodging behind sofas, I was able to elude the thong until I had tugged my wig off. The spirit-gum manufactured in those days must have been vastly superior to that made now, for nothing would induce my whiskers to part company with my face. Yelling out my identity, in spite of the hatter's tactlessly adhesive whiskers, I made one bolt for the open window, having successfully evaded the whirling crop every time, but it was a lamentably tame ending to a carefully planned drama.

Remembering these family incidents, we decided that it would be as well to abandon the idea of a visit to Government House by a distinguished Rajput nobleman.

I may possibly have been unfortunate in my personal experiences of Indian jugglers, but I have never seen them perform any trick that was difficult of explanation. For instance, the greatly over-rated Mango trick, as I have seen it, was an almost childish performance. Having made his heap of sand, inserted the mango-stone, and watered it, the juggler covered it with a large basket, and put his hands under the basket. He did this between each stage of the growth of the tree. The plants in their various stages of growth were, of course, twisted round the inside of the basket, and he merely substituted one for another.

Colonel Barnard, at one time Chief of Police in Calcutta, told me a most curious story. We have all heard of the Indian "rope-trick," but none of us have met a person who actually saw it with his own eyes: the story never reaches us at first-hand, but always at second- or third-hand, exactly like the accounts one heard from credulous people in 1914 of the passage of the 75,000 Russian soldiers through England. No one had actually seen them, but every one knew somebody else whose wife's cousin had actually conversed with these mysterious Muscovites, or had seen trains with closely veiled windows rushing at dead of night towards London, crammed to overflowing with Russian warriors.

In the same way Colonel Barnard had never met an eye-witness of the rope-trick, but his policemen had received orders to report to him the arrival in Calcutta of any juggler professing to do it. At length one of the police informed him that a man able to perform the trick had reached Calcutta. He would show it on one condition: that Colonel Barnard should be accompanied by one friend only. The Colonel took with him one of his English subordinates; he also took with him his Kodak, into which he had inserted a new roll of films. They arrived at a poor house in the native quarter, where they were ushered into a small courtyard thick with the dense smoke arising from two braziers burning mysterious compounds. The juggler, naked except for his loin-cloth, appeared and commenced salaaming profoundly, continuing his exaggerated salaams for some little while. Eventually he produced a long coil of rope. To Colonel Barnard's inexpressible surprise, the rope began paying away, as sailors would say, out of the juggler's hand of its own accord, and went straight up into the air. Colonel Barnard kodaked it. It went up and up, till their eyes could no longer follow it. Colonel Barnard kodaked it again. Then a small boy, standing by the juggler, commenced climbing up this rope, suspended to nothing, supported by nothing. He was kodaked. The boy went up and up, till he disappeared from view. The smoke from the herbs smouldering in the braziers seemed almost to blot out the courtyard from view. The juggler, professing himself angry with the boy for his dilatoriness, started in pursuit of him up this rope, hanging on nothing. He was kodaked, too. Finally the man descended the rope, and wiped a blood-stained knife, explaining that he had killed the boy for disobeying his orders. He then pulled the rope down and coiled it up, and suddenly the boy reappeared, and together with his master, began salaaming profoundly. The trick was over.

The two Europeans returned home absolutely mystified. With their own eyes they had seen the impossible, the incredible. Then Colonel Barnard went into his dark room and developed his negatives, with an astounding result. Neither the juggler, nor the boy, nor the rope had moved at all. The photographs of the ascending rope, of the boy climbing it, and of the man following him, were simply blanks, showing the details of the courtyard and nothing else. Nothing whatever had happened, but how, in the name of all that is wonderful had the impression been conveyed to two hard-headed, matter-of-fact Englishmen? Possibly the braziers contained cunning preparations of hemp or opium, unknown to European science, or may have been burning some more subtle brain-stealer; possibly the deep salaams of the juggler masked hypnotic passes, but somehow he had forced two Europeans to see what he wished them to see.

On one occasion in Colombo, in Ceylon, there was an unrehearsed episode in a juggler's performance. I was seated on the verandah of the Grand Oriental Hotel which was crowded with French passengers from an outward-bound Messageries boat which had arrived that morning. A snake-charmer was showing off his tricks and reaping a rich harvest. The juggler went round with his collecting bowl, leaving his performing cobras in their basket. One cobra, probably devoid of the artistic temperament, or finding stage-life uncongenial to him, hungered for freedom, and, leaving his basket, glided swiftly on to the crowded verandah. He certainly occupied the middle of the stage at that moment and had the "spot-light" full on him, for every eye was riveted on the snake, and never was such a scene of consternation witnessed. Every one jumped on to the tables, women fainted and screamed, and the Frenchmen, for some unknown reason, all drew their revolvers. It turned out afterwards that the performing cobras had all had their poison-fangs drawn, and were consequently harmless.

Its inhabitants declare that Ceylon is the most beautiful island in the world. Those who have seen Jamaica will, I think, dispute this claim, though Kandy, nestling round its pretty little lake, and surrounded by low hills, is one of the loveliest spots imaginable. It is also the most snake-infested spot I ever set foot in.

The Colonial Secretary, Sir Hugh Clifford, whom I had previously met in Trinidad, had succeeded with some difficulty in persuading a band of "Devil Dancers" to leave their jungle fastnesses, and to give an exhibition of their uncanny dances in his garden; for, as a rule, these people dislike any Europeans seeing them engaged in their mysterious rites. The Colonial Secretary's dining-room was as picturesque in its setting as any stage scene. The room was surrounded with open arches, through which peeped the blue-velvet night sky and dim silhouettes of unfamiliar tropical growths; in the place of electric or mechanical punkahs, a tall red-and-gold clad Cingalee stood behind every guest waving continuously a long-handled, painted palm-leaf fan. The simultaneous rhythmic motion of the fans recalled the temple scene at the end of the first Act of Aida. We found the "Devil Dancers" grouped in the garden, some thirty in number. The men were all short and very dark-skinned; they wore a species of kilt made of narrow strips of some white metal, which clashed furiously when they moved. Their legs and chests were naked except for festoons of white shells worn necklace-wise. On their heads they had curious helmets of white metal, branching into antlers, and these headdresses were covered with loose, jangling, metallic strips. The men had their faces, limbs, and bodies painted in white arabesques, which, against the dark skins, effectually destroyed any likeness to human beings. It would be difficult to conceive of anything more uncanny and less human than the appearance of these Devil Dancers as they stood against a background of palms in the black night, their painted faces lit up by the flickering glare of smoky torches. As soon as the raucous horns blared out and the tom-toms began throbbing in their maddening, syncopated rhythm, the pandemonium that ensued, when thirty men, whirling themselves in circles with a prodigious clatter of metals, began shrieking like devils possessed, as they leaped into the air, was quite sufficient to account for the terror of the Cingalee servants, who ran and hid themselves, convinced that they were face to face with real demons escaped from the Pit.

Like all Oriental performances it was far too long. The dancers shrieked and whirled themselves into a state of hysteria, and would have continued dancing all night, had they not been summarily dismissed. As far as I could make out, this was less of an attempt to propitiate local devils than an endeavour to frighten them away by sheer terror. It was unquestionably a horribly uncanny performance, what with the white streaked faces and limbs, and the clang of the metal dresses; the surroundings, too, added to the weird, unearthly effect, the dark moonless night, the dim masses of forest closing in on the garden, and the uncertain flare of the resinous torches.

Amongst others invited to see the Devil Dancers was a French traveller, a M. Des Etangs, a singularly cultivated man, who had just made a tour of all the French possessions in India. M. Des Etangs was full of curiosity about the so-called "Sacred Tooth" of Buddha, which is enshrined in the "Temple of the Tooth," and makes Kandy a peculiarly sacred place to the Buddhist world.

The temple, a small but very picturesque building, overhangs the lake, and is surrounded by a moat, full of the fattest carp and tortoises I ever saw. Every pilgrim to the shrine throws rice to these carp, and the unfortunate fish have grown to such aldermanic amplitude of outline that they can only just waddle, rather than swim, through the water.

The Buddhist community must be of a most accommodating temperament. The original tooth of Buddha was brought to Ceylon in A.D. 411. It was captured about 1315 and taken to India, but was eventually restored to Kandy. The Portuguese captured it again in 1560, burnt it, and ground it to powder, but the resourceful Vikrama Bahu at once manufactured a new tooth out of a piece of ivory, and the Buddhists readily accepted this false tooth as a worthy successor to the real one, extended the same veneration to it as they did to its predecessor, and, more important than all, increased rather than diminished their offerings to the "Temple of the Tooth."

M. Des Etangs had the whole history of the tooth at his fingers' end, and Sir Hugh Clifford, who as Colonial Secretary was the official protector of the tooth, very kindly offered to have it uncovered for us in two days' time. He added that the priests were by no means averse to receiving such an official order, for they would telegraph the news all over the island, and thousands of pilgrims would arrive to view the exposed tooth, each one, of course, leaving an offering, to the great benefit of the temple.

Sir Hugh invited M. Des Etangs, the late General Oliphant and myself to be present at the uncovering, which had to take place at seven in the morning, in order to afford a sufficiently long day for the exposition. He implored us all, in view of the immense veneration with which the Buddhists regarded the ceremony of the uncovering, to keep perfectly serious, and to adopt a becoming attitude of respect, and he begged us all to give a slight bow when the Buddhists made their prostrations.

Accordingly, two days later at 7 a.m., M. Des Etangs, General Oliphant and I found ourselves in a lower room of the temple, the actual sanctuary of the tooth itself, into which Christians are not generally admitted. We were, of course, the only Europeans present.

Never have I felt anything like the heat of that sanctuary. We dripped and poured with perspiration. The room was entirely lined with copper, walls and roof alike, and the closed shutters were also copper-sheathed. Every scrap of light and air was excluded; there must have been at least two hundred candles alight, the place was thick with incense and heavy with the overpowering scent of the frangipani, or "temple-flower" as it is called in Ceylon, which lay in piled white heaps on silver dishes all round the room. The place was crowded with priests and leading Buddhists, and we Europeans panted and gasped for air in that stifling, over-scented atmosphere. Presently the Hereditary Keeper of the Tooth, who was not a priest but the lineal descendant of the old Kings of Kandy, knelt down and recited a long prayer. At its conclusion eight men staggered across the room, bearing a vast bell-shaped shrine of copper about seven feet high. This was the outer case of the tooth. The Hereditary Keeper produced an archaic key, and the outer case was unlocked. The eight men shuffled off with their heavy burden, and the next covering, a much smaller, bell-shaped case of gold, stood revealed. All the natives present prostrated themselves, and we, in accordance with our orders, bowed our heads. This was repeated six times, the cases growing richer and more heavily jewelled as we approached the final one. The seventh case was composed entirely of cut rubies and diamonds, a shimmering and beautiful piece of work, presented by the Buddhists of Burmah, but made, oddly enough, in Bond Street, W.1.

When opened, this disclosed the largest emerald known, carved into the shape of a Buddha, and this emerald Buddha held the tooth in his hand. After prolonged prostrations, the Hereditary Keeper took a lotus-flower, beautifully fashioned out of pure gold without alloy, and placed the tooth in it, on a little altar heaped with frangipani flowers. The uncovering was over; we three Europeans left the room in a half-fainting condition, gasping for air, suffocated with the terrific heat, and stifled with the heavy perfumes.

The octagonal tower over the lake, familiar to all visitors to Kandy, contains the finest Buddhist theological library in the world. The books are all in manuscript, each one encased in a lacquer box, though the bookcases themselves containing these treasures were supplied by a well-known firm in the Tottenham Court Road.

A singularly intelligent young priest, speaking English perfectly, showed me the most exquisitely illuminated old Chinese manuscripts, as well as treatises in ten other Oriental languages, which only made me deplore my ignorance, since I was unable to read a word of any of them. The illuminations, though, struck me as fully equal to the finest fourteenth-century European work in their extreme minuteness and wonderful delicacy of detail. The young priest, whom I should suspect of being what is termed in ecclesiastical circles "a spike," was evidently very familiar with the Liturgy of the Church of England, but it came with somewhat of a shock to hear him apply to Buddha terms which we are accustomed to use in a different connection.

The material prosperity of Ceylon is due to tea and rubber, and the admirable Public Works of the colony, roads, bridges and railways, seem to indicate that these two commodities produce a satisfactory budget. During the Kandy cricket week young planters trooped into the place by hundreds. Planters are divided locally into three categories: the managers, "Peria Dorai," or "big masters," spoken of as "P. D.'s," the assistants, "Sinna Dorai," or "little masters," labelled "S. D.'s," and the premium-pupils, known as "creepers."

Personally I am inclined to discredit the local legend that all male children born of white parents in Ceylon come into the world with abnormal strength of the right wrist, and a slight inherited callosity of the left elbow. This is supposed to be due to their parents having rested their left elbows on bar-counters for so many hours of their lives; the development of the right wrist being attributed in the same way to the number of glasses their fathers have lifted with it. This, if authenticated by scientific evidence, would be an interesting example of heredity, but I suspect it to be an exaggeration. The bar-room in the hotel at Kandy was certainly of vast dimensions, and was continuously packed to overflowing during the cricket week, and an unusual notice conspicuously displayed, asking "gentlemen to refrain from singing in the passages and bedrooms at night," seemed to hint that undue conviviality was not unknown in the hotel; but it must be remembered that these young fellows work very hard, and lead most solitary existences. An assistant-manager on a tea estate may see no white man for weeks except his own boss, or "P. D.," so it is perfectly natural that when they foregather with other young Englishmen of their own age during Colombo race week, or Kandy cricket week, they should grow a little uproarious, or even at times exceed the strict bounds of moderation, and small blame to them!

Ceylon was formerly a great coffee-producing island, and the introduction of tea culture only dates from about 1882. In 1870 a fungus began attacking the coffee plantations, and in ten years this fungus killed practically all the coffee bushes, and reduced the planters to ruin. Instead of whining helplessly over their misfortunes, the planters had the energy and enterprise to replace their ruined coffee bushes with tea shrubs, and Ceylon is now one of the most important sources of the world's tea-supply. Tea-making-by which I do not imply the throwing of three spoonfuls of dried leaves into a teapot, but the transformation of the green leaf of a camellia into the familiar black spirals of our breakfast-tables-is quite an art in itself. The "tea-maker" has to judge when the freshly gathered leaves are sufficiently withered for him to begin the process, into the complications of which I will not attempt to enter. I was much gratified, both in Ceylon and Assam, at noting how much of the tea-making machinery is manufactured in Belfast, for though Ulster enterprise is proverbial, I should never have anticipated it as taking this particular line. There is one peculiarly fascinating machine in which a mechanical pestle, moving in an eccentric orbit, twists the flat leaf into the familiar narrow crescents that we infuse daily. The tea-plant is a pretty little shrub, with its pale-primrose, cistus-like flowers, but in appearance it cannot compete with the coffee tree, with its beautiful dark glossy foliage, its waxy white flowers, and brilliant scarlet berries.

Peradeniya Botanical Gardens rank as the second finest in the world, being only surpassed by those at Buitenzorg in Java. I had the advantage of being shown their beauties by the curator himself, a most learned man, and what is by no means a synonymous term, a very interesting one, too. Holding the position he did, it is hardly necessary to insist on his nationality; his accent was still as marked as though he had only left his native Aberdeen a week before. He showed me a tall, graceful tree growing close to the entrance, with smooth, whitish bark, and a family resemblance to a beech. This was the ill-famed upas tree of Java, the subject of so many ridiculous legends. The curator told me that the upas (Antiaris toxicaria) was unquestionably intensely poisonous, juice and bark alike. A scratch made on the finger by the bark might have very serious results, and the emanations from a newly lopped-off branch would be strong enough to bring out a rash; equally, any one foolish enough to drink the sap would most certainly die. The stories of the tree giving out deadly fumes had no foundation, for the curator had himself sat for three hours under the tree without experiencing any bad effects whatever. All the legends of the upas tree are based on an account of it by a Dr. Foersch in 1783. This mendacious medico declared that no living thing could exist within fifteen miles of the tree. The Peradeniya curator pointed out that Java was a volcanic island, and one valley where the upas flourishes is certainly fatal to all animal life owing to the emanations of carbonic acid gas escaping from fissures in the soil. It was impossible to look at this handsome tree without some respect for its powers of evil, though I doubt if it be more poisonous than the West Indian manchineel. This latter insignificant tree is so virulently toxic that rain-drops from its leaves will raise a blister on the skin.

Amongst the wonders of Peradeniya is a magnificent avenue of talipat palms, surely the most majestic of their family, though they require intense heat to develop their splendid crowns of leaves.

Colombo has been called the Clapham Junction of the East, for there steamship lines from Australia, China, Burmah, and the Dutch East Indies all meet, and the most unexpected friends turn up.

I recall one arrival at Colombo in a Messageries Maritimes boat. On board was a most agreeable French lady going out with her children to join her husband, a French officer in Cochin China. I was leaving the ship at Colombo, but induced the French lady to accompany me on shore, the children being bribed with the promise of a ride in a "hackery" or trotting-bull carriage. None of the party had ever left France before. As we approached the landing-stage, which was, as usual, black with baggage-coolies waiting for a job, the French children began howling at the top of their voices. "The savages! the savages! We're frightened at the savages," they sobbed in French; "we want to go back to France." Their mother asked me quite gravely whether "the savages" here were well-disposed, as she had heard that they sometimes met strangers with a shower of arrows. And this in up-to-date, electric-lighted Colombo! We might have been Captain Cook landing in Tahiti, instead of peaceful travellers making their quiet way to an hotel amidst a harmless crowd of tip-seeking coolies.

The unfamiliar is often unnecessarily alarming.

I remember a small ten-year-old white Bermudian boy who accompanied his father to England for King George's coronation. The boy had never before left his cedar-clad, sunlit native archipelago, and after the ship had passed the Needles, and was making her way up the Solent, he looked with immense interest at this strange land which had suddenly appeared after three thousand miles of water. All houses in Bermuda are whitewashed, and their owners are obliged by law to whitewash their coral roofs as well. Bermuda, too, is covered with low cedar-scrub of very sombre hue, and there are no tall trees. The boy, a very sharp little fellow, was astonished at the red-brick of the houses on the Isle of Wight, and at their red-tile or dark slate roofs, and was also much impressed by the big oaks and lofty elms. Finally he turned to his father as the ship was passing Cowes: "Do you mean to tell me, Daddy, that the people living in these queer houses in this odd country are really human beings like us, and that they actually have human feelings like you and me?"

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