« EdellinenJatka »
SlNCE I last took up the reed of fiendlhip, my heart has beer fretted with vexation, 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 disagreeable discovery, was, to me, no less extraordinary, than the discovery itsel£ I went, as usual, yesterday morning, to spend an hour at the neighbouring coffeehouse, and, on-entering it, was surprised no find myself the object of universal attention. Every eye was turned towards jne^ some few seemed to regard me with a look of contempt; but the general expression was that of pity and compassion. I 'had advanced to a box, and called for a newspaper, but was hesitating whether I should retire, or stay to peruse its contents; when a gentleman, whom I observed to eye me with particular eagerness, approaching me with much formality, 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 gentleman, 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 presence. 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 entertain 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 monsters. Some virtue still remains among us, confined to me, and my honourable friends, it is true; but we, Sir, are Englishmen. Englishmen, capable of blushing at the nefarious practices of delegated authority. Englishmen, who have not been completely embowel Ied,of our natural entrails; our hearts, and galls, and spleens, and livers, have not been forcibly torn from- our
bodies, and their places supplied by shawls and lacks, and nabob-ships, and dewannes! We have real hearts of flesh and blood, within our bosoms. Hearts, which bleed at-the recital of human misery, and seel for the woes of your unhappy country, with all the warmth of -unsophisticated 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 desirable'than the tumultuous spirit of the most exalted freedom !" Again I attempted to fpea-k.—" Ah!" cried he, in a still louder tone, " you need not describe to me, the ravages you have seen committed; the insults you have sustained! You ceed not tell me, that your friends have been slaughtered: your country plundered; your houses burned; your land laid 'waste; your Zenana dishonoured: and
the favourite, 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 fee the subject is too much for you," cried he, " it is too fraught with horror, to be surveyed with indifference. Nature sickens at the recollection, but you need fay no more; depend upon it, I shall make a proper representation of your case. Through me, your wrongs (hall find a tongue. I will proclaim to the world, all that I have heard you utter. That mass of honors, that system of iniquity, which your highness would describe, shall be laid open to the eye os day, and its wicked, nefarious, abominable, and detested author, exposed to the just indignation of the congregated 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 delirium.
Among the crowd, which the vociferation of this unhappy maniac had attracted round us, I perceived one of the gentlemen I had met at Miss Ardem'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, by a paragraph inserted in a newspaper (of that morning, which, after mentioning my name, and describing my person, safely and wickedly insinuated, "that I had come there on behalf of the Hindoo inhabitants of Bengal, to complain of the horrid cruelties, and unexampled oppression, under which, through the mal-administrationof the British governor of India, we were made to groan."
I was exceedingly shocked at the idea of the consequences, that might arise to the chosen servant of the minister, the writer of the newspaper, from having suffered^himself to be thus imposed upon. I did not know what punishment might await the confidential conductor of this vehicle of intelligence, should his master discover that he Lad suffered a falsehood to pollute that pure fountain of public instruction, in which his care for the morals, the virtue, the fortune, the health, and the beamy of all the subjects of this extensive Empire, is so fully evinced. The gentleman observing my anxiety, told me, that the best method of proceeding, was, to authorise the publisher to contradict the
Vol. II. F