« EdellinenJatka »
L ETTER XIV.
CE I last took up the reed of fiendí fhip, my heart has beet fretted with vex.
ation, and my soul chilled with astonishment. Will the friend of Zaarmilla believe it possible, that I should have found fraud and falsehood, venality and corruption, even in that court-protected vehicle of public information, that pure source of intelligence, called a Newspaper?
The manner in which I made the diragreeable discovery, was, to me, no less extraordinary, than the discovery itfelf. I went, as usual, yesterday morning, to pend an hour at the neighbouring coffeehouse, and, on entering it, was surprised to find myself the object of universal attention. Every eye was turned towards me; some few seemed to regard me with a look of contempt; but ihe general expression was that of pily and compassion. I had advanced to a box, and called for a newspaper, but was hëlaring whether I should retire, cr stay to peruse its contents; when a gentleman, whom I obferred to eye me with particular eagerness, approaching me with much for: mality, begged leave to enquire, whether I was indeed the Rajah of Almora, a native Prince of Rohi'cund? On being answered in the affirmative, the gentle. man, again bowing to the ground, thus proceeded : " I hope your highness will not attribute it to any want of respect, that I have thus presumed to intrude myself into your prelence. I entertain too much respect, for whatever is illustrious in birth, or honourable in rank, or dignified in title, or exalted in authority, to do any thing derogatory to its greatness. I am but too conscious of the prejudice which your highness must inevitably en tertain against this nation, to hope that you will look upon any individual belonging to it, without suspicion and abhorrence! But I hope to convince you, in spite of the reasons you have had to the contrary, that we are not a nation of monfters. Some virtue ftill remains among us, confined to me, and my honourable friends, it is true; but we, Sir, are English men. Englishmen, capable of blushing at the nefarious practices of delegated authority, Englishmen, who have not been completely embowelled of our naturalentrails; our hearts, and galls, and spleens, and livers, have not been forcibly torn from our
bodies, and their places supplied by fhawls and lacks, and nabob-ships, and dewames! We have real hearts of flesh and blood, within our bosoms. Hearts, which bleed at the recital of human misery, and feel for the woes of your unhappy country, with all the warmth of unfophisticated virtue.” Perceiving my intention to speak, “I know, Sir, what you would say,” cried he, with vehemence: “You would tell me, that your hatred to the English race, was founded in nature and in justice.—You would tell me, that it is we who have desolated your Empire, who have turned the fruitful and delicious garden of Rohilcund, into a waste and howling wilderness.-We, who have extirpated the noble race of warriors, who were your kind protectors ! your indulgent lords! your beneficent friends! to whom you paid a proud submission; a dignified obedience; a subordination more defirable than the tumultuous spirit of the most exalted freedom !” Again I attempt. ed to speak.-" Ah !” cried he, in a ftill louder tone, “ you need not defcribe' to me, the ravages you have seen committed; the insults you have suftained! You need not tell me, that your friends have been slaughtered: your country plunderod; your houses burned; your land laid 'wafle; your Zenana dishonouied : and
120 ) the favourile, the lovely, the virtuous wife of your affections, perhaps, torn from your agonizing bosom!” This was a chord not to be touched, even by the rude hand of a stranger, without exciting a visible emotion." I see the subject is too much for you,” cried he, “ it is too fraught with borror, to be surveyed with indif. ference. Nature fickens at the recollection, but you need say no more ; depend upon it, I shall niake a proper representation of your cafe. Through me, your wrongs thall find a tongue. I will proclaim to the world, all that I have heard you utter. That mass of horrors, that system of iniquity, which your highness would describe, shall be laid open to the eye of day, and its wicked, nefarious, abominable, and detested author, expofed to the just indignation of the congre. gated universe!"-At these words, again bowing to the ground, he turned round, and departed. As I had no doubt of the unhappy man's insanity, I exceedingly rejoiced at his departure, and that he had done no mischief to himself or others, during this paroxysm of deliriun.
Among the crowd, which the vociferation of this unhappy mapiac had attracicd round us, I perceived one of the gentlemen I had met at Miss Ardent's; and
was happy to take the opportunity of renewing our acquaintance. From him I learned, that the notice of the noisy ora. tor, had been drawn upon me, hy a para. graph inferted in a newspaper of that morning, which, after mentioning my name, and describing my person, safely and wickedly infinuated, “that I had come there on behalf of the Hindoo inhabitants of Bengal; to complain of the horrid cruelties, and unexampled opprelfion, under which, through the mal-administration of the British governor of India, we were made to groan.”
I was exceedingly shocked at the idea of the consequences, that night arise to the chosen servant of the minister, the writer of the newspaper, from having suffered himself to be thus impofed uponi. I did not know what punifhment might await the confidential conductor of this vehicle of intelligence, should his master discover that he had suffered a falsehood to pollute that pure fountain of public instruc-" tion, in which his care for the morals, the virtue, the fortune, the health, and the beauty of all the subje&s of this extensive Empire, is fo fully evinced. The gentleman observing my anxiety, told me, that the best method of proceeding, was, to authorise the publisher to contradict the
Vol. ile the publishe proceeding