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thousand charms, which might otherwise have escaped my notice. Nor was this the only benefit I derived from his society. From his plain good sense, I received more real and useful information; in our ride of four hours, than I had gained in nearly as many weeks, in the company of the philosophers. For the distance of many miles round Ardent-Hall, the country is irregular and undulating. It abounds in trees, which, though they boast not the height of the Mango, or the vast circumference of the Banyan, are neither destitute of grandeur, nor of beauty. These are not clumped together in solemn groves, or gloomy jungles; but are planted, as to surround the small fields into which the country is divided; each of which small enclosures, now fraught with the riches of the yellow harvest, appears like a “Topaz in a setting of Emeralds.” The cheerful aspect of the peasants, busily employed in cutting down the grain,
while their fancies seemed to revel in the VOL. II. 17
scene of plenty, excited the most pleasurable emotions in my heart; for who but a philosopher, can “breathe the air of hilarity, and not partake of the intoxication of delight 7” The scene, however, soon changed : an extensive plain opened before us, where no yellow harvest waved its golden head— where no tall trees afforded shelter to the traveller—all was waste and barren. Upon inquiring of my intelligent companion, the reason of this wonderful change, he could only inform me, that this was called a Common, and that it could not be cultivated, without a solemn act of the Legislature. I now perceived, that it was from reasons of state, that these great portions of land (for Commons occur very frequently in England) were suffered to remain desolate; but, in vain did I endeavour to discover the mo
* In several passages of this Letter, the Rajah seems to have adopted the imagery of the Persian Poet Inatulla, of Delhi—with whose writings, he was, doubtless, well acquainted,
tives which could induce the government to lay this restraint on cultivation. As geese appeared to have here an exclusive right of pasturage, I was inclined to think, that they might, perhaps, be the objects of superstitious veneration to the English court; but on applying to my guide I found that geese were not of the number of protected animals; and that far from being honoured in the manner of those which are called Game, the murder of a goose might be performed without ceremony, by the most ignoble hands. Perhaps, thought I, it is from the benevolent regard of the minister towards the old women, who keep these noisy flocks; but, alas ! a little reflection convinced me, that the age of reason, is not yet sufficiently established, to countenance the supposition. It must, then, be from the pious apprehension of endangering the virtue of the people, by an overflow of plenty.—If this be really the case—it must be confessed, that a more effectual method could not be taken to bring about the desired end.
Having passed the commons, we entered into a deep and narrow valley, over-hung with frowning rocks; these seemed frequent. ly to close upon us, and sternly to deny all access to the interiour scene. A silver stream, which alternately kissed the feet of the precipices on each side, encouraged us, to proceed, and gently conducted us to the furthermost end of the valley. It was here, that the glories of the cataract burst upon our senses.—But how shall my feeble pen do justice to such a scene? Can I, by description, stun the ears of Maandaara, with the thunder of the falling waters; or present to his imagination the grotesque figures of the rocks surrounding the magnificent bason into which they fell ? Can I bring terrour to his bosom, by the mention of the over jutting crags, which, on one side, topped the precipice; or produced in his miud the sensation of delight, by a minute description of the various trees and shrubs, whose thick foliage ornamented the opposite bank —Ah not The task is impossible; or possible only to the magick pen of poetry. By Zaarmilla, it must be passed over in silence We returned to Ardent-Hall, as the chariot of Surraya was sinking behind the distant hills. On approaching the house, we beheld a scene of extraordinary commotion. All was hurry and confusion.—Men and boys, household servants and labourers, all seemed engaged in the pursuit of some invisible object. At one part of the lawn, we beheld Doctor Sceptick and Mr. Puzzledorf, cautiously stepping along, and carefully peeping into every bush they passed; at another place, we saw Sir Caprice, attended by the rest of the philosophers, carrying a large net —which, with much care, they softly spread upon a hedge, and then began to beat the roots of the shrubs that composed it, in the most furious manner. “What is the matter 7” cried my companion, to a lad who was running past us. “What is the occasion of all this bustle 7 What, in the name of goodness are you all about !” “Catching Sparrows, Sir,” returned VOL. II. 17 *