« EdellinenJatka »
Bard of England, who was cotemporary with Ackbar, teach the heart to vibrate with the same sensations ! The Sacontala of the one and the Desdemona of the other speak so nearly the same language, that did I not believe the soul of the Indian poet to have been long absorbed in the regions of felicity, I should undoubtedly imagine that it was Calidas himself, who, under the name of Shakspeare, again vouchsafed to enlighten and delight the world !—It is at least evident that they have both copied from the same original—Unchanging, everlasting Na. ture ?
A chASM of many weeks has taken place in my journal. Alas ! When I undertook
bounty of Vicramāditycs, a monarch eminently distinguished by his taste for literature. (See the preface to Sir William Jones's translation of
to write it, I was not aware of the tedious uniformity of a sea voyage. But though void of incident, the scene has not been destitute of instruction. By time, and increasing intimacy, the characters of my companions have been more fully developed. The first sketch that was drawn by the hasty pencil of imagination, I confidently pronounced to be a striking likeness; but very different now appears the picture that has been delineated by slow working observation. In my letter from Madrass,” I informed you of the acquisition 1 expected from the society of the young officer, whose sprightly manners and communicative disposition gave the promise of an everpleasing companion. But, alas ! I soon discovered that sprightliness and loguacity are by no means united with urbanity and cheerfulness.— The small stock of personal anecdote, with which the incidents of his life had furnished
* This letter is not to be found.
him, was no sooner exhausted, than he became dull, insipid and morose. Nor was the change which seemed wrought on his temper less extraordinary than that which took place in his manners. This youth, seemingly so gentle; who took such pleasure in obliging; who lived but to promote the happiness of others, gives every day such convincing proofs of the malignity of his disposition, in the cruel treatment he bestows upon his younger brother, that it is impossible to behold it without feelings of horrour and indignation. How different from this is the change that has taken place in my opinion, concerning the character of the Dewan. Alas ! I fear that in more instances than these my first opinion has been like an unjust judge, who suffers his decisions to be influenced by the eloquence of flattery. Self-love whispers that those who are pleased with us, are pleasing; and it is not till experience has convinced us of our errour, that we are willing to listen to the voice of truth. The
reserve and silence which at first seemed to give to the character of the Dewan an appearance of sullenness and stupidity, gradually cleared away, by time and encreasing intimacy, and discovered to us incontestable proofs of a mild and placid temper, a deeply-thinking, well-informed mind, and a humane and benevolent heart. The conduct of his lady has not, I confess, undergone much change; but my opinion of it has been somewhat altered by an insight into its motives. That haughty and arrogant demeanour which I had conceived to flow from the conscious superiority of birth and merit, was, it seems, assumed by folly to conceal the real meanness of both. Her history appeared to me so very extraordinary, that had I not had the most convincing proofs of the veracity of my informer, I confess, I should have been led to doubt its truth. This disdainful Lady, whom I had considered as some highly exalted personage, was the daughter of a tradesman, “whose WOL. l I, 3 *
foolish fondness,” said the Surgeon, (for I give you his very words) bestowed upon her such an education, as, without instructing her in the qualities that are alone suited to adorn an exalted rank, rendered her unfit for becoming wife to a man in her own. At the death of this parent, she laid out the small fortune he bequeathed her in fine clothes, and took her passage to Bengal, where she did not doubt that her beauty would procure her an advantageous marriage. The event proved equal to her expectations. On her arrival, she was seen by the Dewan, who admired, courted, and . married her t” “I thought,” said I, interrupting my informer, “that Europeans had made companious of their wives. Surely, this woman was not qualified for being the companion of such a man as the Dewan. It is not possible to imagine, that her intellectual deficiencies would be unobserved by a man of his sense and penetration.” “The Dewan was too much charmed with her beauty, to observe any deficiency in her