網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

prehended." The tsalwé (a Burman badge of nobility, derived from the Brahminical triple cord, and having three, six, nine, or even twelve threads, according to the distinction conferred on the wearer), and a trumpet-shaped ear-tube of gold, complete the official

costume.

The royal presents from England, guarded by the British-Indian cavalry escort, had been sent forward over a long bridge which spanned the southern end of the Toung-ah-mah, to await on the other side the arrival of the Envoy. There was a superb carriage for the King, which, being too wide to pass the bridge, was towed across the lake on a raft.

That was a brilliant scene, the passage of the lake; and the picturesque elements almost surpassed the fantastic; the jolly-boats of the steamers, leading the way with the men of her Majesty's 84th, followed by the Zenobia's gig, bearing the Governor-General's letter, with the Honorable East India Company's jack saucily flaunting at the bow; then other gigs and cutters, with the Envoy's suite; and, lastly, a gorgeously gilded war-boat, carrying the Envoy and the Woons, with fifty Burman oarsmen rowing to a wild chant. The white spire and pinnacles of the Ananda temple, with its grove of noble cotton - trees and tall palms, sharply defined against the boldly diversified ranges of the Shan Mountains, formed the background of the picture, which derived rich color and grotesque action from the Burmese soldiers of the Envoy's guard lining the banks, and the hurly-burly of half-naked, splashing villagers, waistdeep in the lake, — salvages coupés.

First in the procession went the cases of royal presents, borne by Burmese porters on bamboo litters, and followed by four Arab horses and an English carriage for the King; next came the cavalry and infantry of the Envoy's Anglo-Indian escort, preceded by a band; behind these, the Secretary of the mission on an elephant, with the Governor-General's letter under the

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]

- toward the western central gate of the city. From lake to palace the way was fenced with troops; but such troops! fishermen and convicts, old men and boys, - probably old women too, and girls, the he and she Warts, Mouldys, Shadows, Feebles, and Bullcalfs of the Immortal City. At every cross street were officers on elephants, "men in gilt Mambrino helmets and mountebank costumes, decked out with triple buckram capes, and shoulder lappets, and paltry embroidery." But there were men in red jackets and papier-maché helmets accompanying the procession, who appeared to be more at home with their arms than these motley musketeers. Inside the city the streets were flooded with water from a heavy rain the night before, and here the soldiers were propped on little stools of bamboo, to keep them out of the mud, while the officers occupied higher perches, each with his spittoon and his box of betel. A great rabble of spectators, of whom many were women, not all uncomely or shabbily attired, peeped through the endless white lattice, or thronged the cross-streets, all still and silent, with wonder or suspicion.

Just as the escort, with fixed bayonets and martial music, turned up the street leading to the eastern gate of the palace, and, halting, faced inward for the party to pass, the procession

* Narrative of a Mission to the Court of Ava, in 1855. By Captain Henry Yule, Secretary to the Envoy.

of the Ein-shé-men, or heir apparent, (Lord of the Eastern Palace,) came suddenly up from another road, and crossed before them to enter the enclosure, a stale trick of Burmese jealousy and insolence to keep them waiting at the palace gate. Precedent, which is a god in Burmah, has bestowed a sort of respectability upon this exploit in bad manners, every British envoy having been treated so, from Fleetwood to Phayre. The prince himself was conspicuous in a massive gilded litter, borne by many sturdy fellows elaborately tattooed, while eight longshafted gold umbrellas flashed over his head. When he had entered the gate, and it was closed behind him, his retinue, consisting of several hundred soldiers, performed some intricate and tedious evolutions, countermarching round an open circle, with the manifest purpose of magnifying the apparent strength of the force, as well as of prolonging the detention of the unwelcome strangers.

When Colonel Burney, who was sent as Resident to Ava in 1830, was detained by the same manœuvre at the stockade which encircles the palace wall, some of his party were sharp enough to discover that many of the retainers, as well as of the elephants and bands of music, after passing in the suite of one prince, made a sly circuit to the rear, and appeared as part of the tail of another prince.

As the Envoy and his suite dismounted, noon was struck by alternate strokes on a great bell and a great drum, mounted on a square tower within the gate called "Ywé-dau-yooTaga," or the Royal Gate of the Chosen, because it is guarded by picked troops. By this gate they entered; but first the Envoy took the Governor-General's letter from the Secretary, and carried it himself. The Nan-ma-dau-Phra Woon and his august colleagues now threw off their shoes, and the Woondouk strove ineffectually to induce the representative of Great Britain to follow their loyal example. At four different points,

as they advanced to the inner gate, they even dropped on their knees, and shikhoed, with their faces in the dust, toward the palace; and again Burmah pressed Bull to take part in the pious services, but the obstinate infidel Kalá* would not; for you see the world has moved, and Anglo-Saxon backbones have stiffened, since Fleetwood wrote, in 1695: "As the palace gates were opened we fell down upon our knees, and made three bows (shikhos), which done, we entered the garden, the presents following; and having gone about half-way from the gate to the place where the king was seated, we made three bows again as before. When we got within fifteen yards of the king, we made three bows again, and were ordered to sit down." Between Fleetwood and Phayre are two wars, several annexations, "a lot" of custom-houses, and "no end" of bomb-shells.

The gilded colonnade, and the manystoried spire, conspicuous from all sides of the city; the great inner court, with its groups of tumblers, jugglers, and dancers, performing in the corners for the entertainment of privileged spectators; the dirty grand-staircase, where, to their lively disgust, the distinguished strangers, Envoy and all, had to leave their shoes; the long wings of the structure, curiously resembling the transepts of a cathedral; the choir-like centre; the altar-like throne; the tall, lacquered columns, picked out in red at the base, and all ablaze with gilding; by these the great Hall of Audience was known; and here, on a carpet in the centre, facing the throne, the Envoy and his party seated themselves, doubling their legs behind them.

On a broad dais blazed the high throne, in all its barbaric gorgeousness of carving and gilding, competing in splendor with the awful seats of Guadma in the temples, and surpassing the glory of the pulpit from which the High Poonghyi† chants the beatitudes of the Boodh. On the top it was luxuriously mattressed with crimson velvet,

*Western foreigner.

+ Priest; literally, "Great Glory."

and on the left was a tall elbow-cushion for the king. A carved portal, with gilded lattice doors, opened from behind to the top level of the throne, which was wrought in a sort of mosaic of gold, silver, and mirror-work. A few small figures, representing the progenitors of the human race, occupied niches in the central band, while on the edge of the dais stood five royal emblems, in the shape of gilded shafts, with small gilt labels or scrolls, like flags, attached to them.

On each side of the dais were pewlike recesses, with railings; and rows of expanded white umbrellas, fringed with muslin valances, (the royal insignia,) were displayed along the walls behind the throne. The central hall or aisle, in which the gentlemen of the mission sat, was laid with velvet-pile carpet of Axminster or Lasswade; elsewhere there was matting merely, except where the more distinguished officers of the court had their separate carpets. A double row of young princes, in surcoats of gold and silver brocade, with gay silk putsos, occupied the centre aisle in front of the Envoy; -on the right, four sons of the King; on the left, four sons of the Crown Prince. Farther forward, near the steps of the dais, the Ein-shé-men himself was installed, in a sort of couch or carved litter, scarcely raised above the floor. In his robes of Benares gold brocade, and his superb mitre set with precious stones, he sat still as an effigy, never turning round, but betraying his curiosity by the use he slyly made of a small looking-glass. Behind the pillars on each side, and a little in advance of the Englishmen, were the Woongyis, or principal minister of state, constituting the Hlwot-dau, the High Court and Council; and nearer to the steps of the dais were several elderly princes of the blood, "men of sensual aspect and heavy jowl, like the heads of some of the burlier Cæsars, or, with their stiff robes and jewelled tiaras, perhaps recalling certain of the old Popes." Close to the Envoy's party were two of the Atwen-woons, or

Yule's Narrative.

Ministers of the Interior (Household) Council, and some Nekhan-daus, “Royal Ears," besides other officers of the Palace and Hlwot-dau.

The Envoy, on taking his seat, had deposited the salver with the Governor-General's letter on a gilt stool covered with muslin, which had been placed there to receive it. Little gilt stands, containing trays of tobacco, pawn, hlapet, or pickled tea, and other curious confections, neatly set out in golden cups and saucers, together with water-goglets and gold drinking-cups, were then laid before the Kalá guests, the water being faintly perfumed with musk.

At last, from some mysterious inner court of the palace came a burst of music. From the verandas behind the throne a party of musketeers filed in, and, taking position between the pillars on each side of the centre aisle, knelt down, with their double-barrelled pieces between their knees, and their hands clasped before them in an attitude of prayer.

As the last man entered the golden lattice doors, the doors rolled back into the wall, and the King was seen, mounting a stair leading from a chamber behind to the summit of the throne. He ascended slowly, using his goldensheathed dhar as a staff to his laboring steps; and no wonder, for his jewelled robe alone weighed one hundred pounds. Having dusted the gudhi with his own hand, by means of a small chowree, or fly-flapper, he had brought with him, he took his seat on the left side of the throne, resting his elbow on the velvet cushion, which had been covered with a napkin. Then the Queen, who had followed him closely, seated herself by his side, — on the right, and a little behind him, where she received from the hands of female attendants, who showed themselves but for a moment, the golden spittoon and other ungraceful conveniences, which, on all occasions and in all places, must be at the elbow of every Burmese dignitary. Next, she fanned herself for a few moments, and then she fanned the

King; and finally, having been served with a lighted cheroot by the shy fingers of some mysterious maid of honor, she smoked in silent expectation.

The Lord of White Elephants and Righteousness is a portly man, with refined features, an agreeable and intelligent expression, and delicate hands. He wore a sort of long tunic, or surcoat, so thickly set with jewels that the material, a kind of light-colored silk, was overlaid and almost hidden. Thara-poo, the crown, is a round tiara of similar material, in shape like an Indian morion, surmounted by a spirelike ornament several inches high, and expanding in flaps or wings over each

ear.

The Queen, who, like all her predecessors, is her husband's half-sister, wore a perfectly close cap, covering hair and ears, and forming, as it rose, a conical crest, with the point curved forward in a volute, like the horn of a rhinoceros, or the large nipper of a crab's claw; close lappets hung over the cheeks. The rest of her Majesty's dress was oddly Elizabethan; the sleeves and skirt in "successive overlapping scalloped lappets"; around the throat a high collar, also scalloped or vandyked, and continued in front to the waist, where blazed a stomacher, or breast-plate, of great gems. Both cap and robe were stiff with diamonds. The Queen's name is Tsoo-phragyi, and she is the eldest daughter of her husband's father, King Tharawadi.

On a pedestal between their Majesties, in front of the throne, stood a great golden figure of the Henza, or Sacred Goose, - the national emblem.

When the awful pair had fairly entered, the Englishmen for the first time took off their hats; but the entire audience of subjects bowed their faces to the earth, and clasped their hands before them. "The two rows of little princes, who lay in file, doubled over one another like fallen books on a shelf, and the two Atwen-woons, grovelled forward, in their frog-like attitude, to a point about half-way to the throne." Then some eight or ten Brahmins

(two of whom are court astrologers), in white stoles, and white mitres encircled with gold leaves, entered the screened pew-like recesses near the throne, and struck up a choral chant in Sanscrit ; which done, one of them immediately followed in a solo hymn in Burmese, which is thus translated by the Envoy, Major Phayre:

1. "May the dangers and enmity which arise from the Ten Points be calmed and subdued! May the affliction of disease never attach itself to thee; and in accordance with the blessings declared in the sacred Pali, mayest thou be continually victorious! May thy life be prolonged for more than a hundred years, and may thy glory continue till the end of the world! Mayest thou enjoy whatever is propitious, and may all evil be far from thee, O KING!

Like

2. "Thy glorious reputation diffuses itself like the scent of the sandal-wood, and exceeds the refulgence of the moon! Lord of the Celestial Elephant, — of the Excellent White Elephant! Master of the Celestial Weapon! Lord of Life, and Great Chief of Righteousness! Lineal descendant of Mahathamada and Mahadha-mayadza ! unto the Kings of the Universe, who governed the four great islands of the solar system, and were versed in charms and spells of fourteen descriptions, may thy glory be prolonged, and thy life be extended, to more than a hundred years! Mayest thou enjoy whatever is propitious, and may all evil be far from thee, O KING!

-

[ocr errors]

3. "Great Chief of Righteousness! whose fame spreads like the fragrance of sandal-wood, and exceeds the glorious light of the moon,-in whom is concentrated all glory and honor, who, with her Majesty, the Queen, the lineal descendant of anointed kings, happily governest all, may thy rule extend, not only to the great Southern Island (the earth), which is tens of thousands of miles in extent, but to all the four grand and five hundred smaller Islands! May it equal the stability of the mountains Yoo-gan-toh, Myen-mo, and Hai-ma-garee; and until the end

of the world mayest thou and thy descendants continue in unbroken line, unto the royal son and royal greatgrandson, that thy glory may endure for countless ages! And may thy royal life be prolonged for more than a hundred years, O KING!

4. "May our king be continually victorious! When the divine Buddha ascended the golden throne, all created beings inhabiting millions of worlds became his subjects, and he overcame all enemies. So may kings by hundreds and thousands, and tens of thousands, come with offerings of celestial weapons, white elephants, flying horses, virgins, and precious stones of divers sorts, and do homage to the Golden Feet, which resemble the germs of the lotos, O KING!"

Now, even for an exploit in poetical license, that is sublimely cool, considering that a mere yesterday of thirty years has sufficed to strip the Throne of the Golden Foot of dominions which were the gradual acquisition of more than two bloody centuries of drunken lust, and that the dread Lord of Life and Master of the Celestial Weapon well knew that day that he no longer had access to the sea save through many leagues of British territory, considering that the chronicle of the Burmese kings is one of the bloodiest chapters in the book of Time, a record of hell-engendered monsters, conceived in incest, brought forth in insanity, trained to the very sport of slaughter, and doomed to quick assassination or the most summary deposition and disgrace, considering that even this "just and humane" Mendoon-men himself had deposed his cock-fighting brother, the Pagán-men, and sacked and burned his capital, and that even now he held him a close prisoner, poor and despised, in a corner of the fortified city, and finally, that even as that pæan of infatuation ascends to the besotted ears of the King, given up of God to believe lies, his own brother, the Ein-shé-men, possessed of a devil of precedent, crouches like a tiger below the dais, and plots assassination

[ocr errors]

and usurpation in his cunning bit of looking-glass.

The chants concluded, the TaraThoogyi read from a parabeik, or black note-book, an address to the King, stating that the offerings his Majesty purposed making to certain pagodas at the capital were ready. "Let them be dedicated!" said one of the officials solemnly; and the music was renewed. This dedication, the chant of the Brahmins, and the singular ceremony of A-beit-theit (literally, a pouring out of water on a solemn occasion), together constitute the formal inauguration of a royal sitting. Then the GovernorGeneral's letter was drawn from its cover, and read aloud by a Than-daugan, or Receiver of the Royal Voice, who also read the list of presents for the King and Queen. A railway model, contributed by Sir Macdonald Stephenson, was immediately produced and exhibited in the Hall, the only one of the presents uncovered there, and excited lively interest among the Burmese. All the readings were intoned in a high recitative, like the English Cathedral service; and the long-drawn "Phrá-á-á-á!" (My Lord!) was delivered like the "Amen" of the Liturgy.

[ocr errors]

After this, his Majesty, without moving his lips, but speaking by an Atwenwoon, who discharged for that occasion the function of Royal Tongue, condescended to address to the Envoy three formal questions, prescribed by custom and precedent, thus:

Royal Tongue. "Is the English ruler well?"

Envoy. "The English ruler is well."

Receiver of the Royal Voice (in a loud tone). "By reason of your Majesty's great glory and excellence, the English ruler is well; and therefore, with obeisance, I represent the same to your Majesty."

Royal Tongue. "How long is it since you left the English country?"

Envoy. "It is now fifty-five days since we left Bengal, and have arrived, and lived happily, at the Royal City."

Receiver of the Royal Voice. "By reason of your Majesty's great glory and

« 上一頁繼續 »