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fashion, we may behold at Lucnow the spectacle of a Mahomedan court of very considerable splendour preserving, even in these days, a great share of its pristine usages.
Lucnow is but a modern city, which rose upon the decay of Oude, the capital of the province of that name, by the favour of Sirjah u Dowlah, and his successors, the sovereigns of the country. It is situated on the bank of the Ghoomtee, in a level and sandy country, rendered fertile around the town by dint of considerable labour. Little is seen, on approaching the city, but a thick forest of bamboos, mangoes, topes, and trellis gardens, above which, here and there, arise the minarets, domes, and turrets of the mosques and palaces. The only decent approach is by a bridge, which leads at once to the quarter of the city occupied by the Nawaub and his court ; from every other side the traveller must make his way through narrow and filthy lanes, or among mean and ruinous buildings, in streets where his elephant, if he rides one, can hardly move along without unroofing the wretched hovels as it passes. The first time I entered this capital was upon the eve of a festival ; and the contrast was particularly striking, when, after traversing an endless length of such disgusting paths, the palaces of the Nawaub and the British resident, with their extensive dependencies, all illuminated by a brilliant display of fireworks, burst upon my view,
The palaces belonging to the Nawaub, with their contents, and the buildings, public and private, erected by his predecessors, comprise, indeed, almost the only objects worthy of attention in Lucnow; the rest of the city is but a mass of miserable brick or mud buildings, huddled together without regard to convenience, cleanliness, or ventilation, and interspersed with a quantity of wood; in short, a common Indian town, though upon a very large scale. The principal town residences of the present Prince (whom, as he has of late assumed the crown and style of royalty, I shall henceforth term King) are situated in an inclosure upon the banks of the Ghoomtee, several miles in extent, and comprising a vast deal of building. Within are lodged not only his own family, but a great proportion of bis servants and the numerous retainers of the court, as well as the troops that are continually on duty. The principal stables, containing many hundred horses, are also situated here, as well as those for a portion of the royal elephants and camels, with the menagerie and aviary, all extensive establishments. The chief palaces within this inclosure are those of Terookh Buksh, Meerza Cotee Wallah, and Mubaick Munzil. The former, which embraces a variety of extensive buildings erected upon the river banks, is occupied by the king and his family. This pile consists of a variety of courts, tanks, fountains, and parterres, with suites of apartments, some of wbich are handsome and extensive, after the usual manner of Native houses upon a large scale ; but in those to which the public are admitted, a strange mixture of European frippery with Asiatic decoration, may be observed. Mirrors of all sizes, coloured prints, many of them of the meanest description, in fine gilt frames ; paltry Chinese drawings, magnificent and jewelled time-pieces, ornamental china, statues of various descriptions, huddled altogether with the most perfect contempt of arrangement, lend their glitter to adorn many of the public apartments, which
are also furnished in profusion with European chairs, couches, and tables of various sorts. No stranger can, of course, see the more private apartments; and indeed, unless when attending the public breakfasts given by his Majesty, little of the interior of Terookh Buksh can be seen.
The Meerza Cotee Wallah, now called Hassein Buksh, is of much smaller extent, not far distant from the former, also upon the banks of the river, and commanding a fine view of the other palaces, and part of the town beyond. It is fitted up entirely after the European fashion, but with the same mixture of rich and rare with mean and ludicrous, which moves the contempt of every spectator possessing the least taste : -a fine engraving of Woollet's, or a picture of the Italian school, may be seen placed between two sixpenny coloured prints; or an elegant or-molu, or jewelled clock, beside a coarse Dutch toy. As a fair example of the taste that directs the arrangement of ornaments in his Majesty's house, the following fact, which came under my own observation, may be given :- Among other pieces of sculpture a very fine marble statue of the Venus de Medicis was purchased for the king, who directed it to be placed in this palace, upon a pedestal on one of the landings of the staircase : but, its perfect nudity being soon after observed by his Majesty, he remarked that the delicacy of the ladies, who sometimes honoured him with a visit, would be shocked if it were to continue thus divested of proper raiment: he, therefore, gave orders that a decent robe should be made, which was forthwith done in the most fashionable style by an European woman, the wife of a Moonshee resident at Lucnow; and, when I was last at this palace, I saw the Venus thus transmuted into a modern belle, decked out in muslin and bobbin-net, looking like one of the figures used by milliners to hang their finery upon. Other apartments were in like manner fancifully decorated; in some, magnificent crimson-velvet couches, trimmed with gold fringe, were surrounded by common cane-chairs, and fine crystal vases by wretched devices in common china; one room was fitted up with mirrors of all sorts—magnifying and diminishing, small and large, and placed in all manner of ways to reflect the company in extravagant attitudes.
The Mubaick Munzil is a pretty English-fashioned house, of the same description as that last mentioned, and this was, when I last saw it, equally full of curiosities and bad taste. A bridge of boats thrown across the river, connecting the palace of Terookh Buksh with the opposite side of the river, leads to another building called by Europeans the Lantern Palace, I believe from the resemblance its tall square form, with numerous large windows, bears to such an utensil. It contains a number of small apartments, adorned in the same frippery taste as the rest, with pictures, prints, and gimcracks of all kinds ; and possessing only one recommendation, the view it commands of the river, the town, and the various picturesque buildings upon the other bank. A palace of large dimensions, and in the form of a Gothic castle, was commenced, and, indeed, nearly completed in the time of Saadut Allee, under the superintendence of a gentleman in the service of the Company, an officer of engineers, permitted to be thus employed by the Government of India at his Highness's particular request; but with the strange feeling, which Asiatics so frequently evince, of disgust at the works of their predecessors, combined with a desire to be known by their own, his
present Majesty ordered a part of this work to be pulled down, and converted the remainder to mean uses.
The only other building that merits description within the palace inclosure is a Baruh Durree, or species of pavilion, erected close upon and overlooking the new Bazaar: (literally twelve-doors, a name commonly given to pleasure-houses, which are often built in a square form, with three large arches on each side.) It is handsomely built in the rich Mahomedan style of architecture, and attracts much of the stranger's attention by its elegance and gorgeous ornaments: the lower story is fitted up, in the Native way, with every convenience for residence, including a suite of baths, &c.; the whole is carpeted with the usual Indian carpeting, covered, moreover, with white cloth; the walls are finished with the most beautiful shining stucco, which resembles marble; and the numerous arches that open all around, are fitted up with screens of crimson and yellow cloth, constructed to roll up or let down at pleasure, and serving in place of doors and windows. The upper story consists of two or three spacious and lofty apartments arcaded all round, and fitted up like those below with carpets and curtains, besides which broad crimson awnings stretch from above the arches, to protect the building and its inhabitants from the violence of the sun's rays. These apartments are used on occasions of state; great entertainments are given in them; and there the present king celebrated his coronation; the crown, the throne, state palanquins, and other parts of the royal equipage, are likewise kept there. It was in these apartments, too, that the late Nawaub Saadut Allee closed his life. He had been unwell for a considerable time, and had removed to this place, where he was amusing himself in looking at a nautch, when he was taken ill suddenly, and in a few hours expired. Poison was suspected, but I believe without any foundation.
The menagerie attached to the palace is a large establishment, which some years ago contained a considerable collection of tigers, leopards, hyenas, monkeys, &c. with three tame rhinoceroses, and one or two lions. But the aviary attracted most attention, by its numerous and splendid collection of rare birds, among which that of pheasants from Nepaul, glittering in their glorious and lovely plumage of the richest hues, eclipsed all the rest. Not far off is the falconry, where used to be kept an hundred hawks, of various breeds, each of which had a man to attend as its keeper, besides those employed to kill birds for their food.
The stables, which are very extensive, and built in form of a cross, are calculated, as we were informed, to contain from twelve to fifteen hundred horses, which formed the stud of the late Nawaub Saadut Allee Khan; but probably a portion was kept in a set of stables across the river, where there is likewise a large range of pasture appropriated to the stud of brood-mares and the young produce. A considerable number of elephants are also kept about the palace, but the larger portion of those belonging to his Majesty, amounting, it is said, to eleven or twelve hundred, are cantoned abroad in the country for the convenience of forage. The elephant stables (or Pheel Khauchs,) are of magnificent dimensions ; nor are those appropriated for the royal camels at all inferior in their proportions. Among the rarities of Lucnow may
also be reckoned the elephant rhuts, a species of carriage drawn by these animals, trained for the purpose. Two of these were exhibited when I first visited that place; since which period, several others on a different construction have been built. The old ones are in the form of a rhut, or Indian wheel-carriage, containing two distinct chambers; and one has even two stories in height. The latter was covered with green broad-cloth and velvet, embroidered in a superb manner with silver : the inside was lined with keen-khaub, or brocade of red silk, worked with flowers of gold, and fitted up with cushions in a most luxurious manner : this was drawn by four elephants, caparisoned, with housings covering the greater part of their bodies in green, red, and gold, and the Mohouts or drivers all in liveries to match. The other was of similar form, covered with crimson and gold, and fitted up even more richly than the former : it was drawn by two enormous elephants, with caparisons, housings, and corresponding liveries. The bodies and woodwork of the rhuts were enamelled with painting and gilding in the richest manner; and the whole formed a spectacle of the most splendid kind, extremely characteristic of Eastern magnificence. We ascended one of these majestic cars, and were driven a little way to gratify the curiosity of some of the party; and the elephants appeared to be perfectly well trained and docile. I do not, however, believe that these vehicles are intended for any other purpose than that of show ; nor indeed am I aware of such existing in any other part of India ; certainly not now in the Northern provinces.
Another relic of ancient Indian splendour is still to be witnessed at Lucnow, in the elephant-fights which are sometimes exhibited, and for the purpose of which, a considerable number of these animals, of unusual fierceness, are entertained. It is well known that at particular periods the male elephant becomes fierce, unmanageable, or, in truth, mad; or as it is termed by the natives must ; at which time they readily destroy any animal they meet with, or fight with each other when opposed. They are in this state driven into an inclosure or space appointed for the purpose ; and with certain precautions are permitted to encounter each other. The shock of two such animals cannot but form a terrific exhibition, and must excite a very keen interest in the minds of the numerous spectators; but those who form very high expectations would be disappointed. The animals themselves, as if conscious of their own irresistible weight and force, close cautiously; and there are even precautions taken to prevent serious damage: if they are very fierce, they are brought up on opposite sides of a wall, somewhat more than knee high ; and the fight is confined to wrestling across this barrier with their tusks and trunks. If they are permitted to meet in open space, there are always men ready with fireworks, of which the elephant entertains a great terror, to rush in between and separate them. The reader will be surprised to hear, that for the most part their mohouts, or keepers, sit upon their backs, and guide or urge them on. It is uncommon for any elephant, even the most wild and fierce, to harm or cease to recognize his keeper ; and dangerous though the service be, the mohout sits upon his own beast, exposed to the shock of the conflict, and to the tusks and trunk of the adverse elephant, with wonderful composure.
Sometimes the animals are let loose without any restraint; and if two pretty equally matched and powerful animals thus meet, the conflict is terrible, though less so to the eye than might be expected; for their motions are comparatively slow and measured: they join and push with the head, lock and clash the tusks, and intertwine and grapple with the trunk, uttering from time to time short shrill shrieks. After a while the weakest is borne down upon his haunches, or may be rolled over on his side, when the victor animal attacks him with his tusks, and would imjure or put him to death, if permitted; but the combat is then terminated. Horsemen, mounted on active well-managed coursers, with fireworks bound on their spear-heads, dash towards the struggling beasts, and, goading the conqueror, force him to quit his fallen foe to turn on the aggressors, who fly in their turn and draw him after them. Frequent accidents occur at these spectacles—a horse falling, or a foot slipping, generally proves fatal : the enraged elephant seizes on what he can come up with, and crushes it to pieces, after perhaps playing with it for a while as a cat with a mouse. I was myself witness to an accident of this nature, though not at Lucnow: an uncommonly wild and powerful elephant had been let loose, which, after having driven away its antagonist, set off at full speed towards the neighbouring jungle, followed by the horsemen, who soon succeeded in turning him. A great crowd had collected, for the place was an open market-place within the town; and the elephant took its way right through the midst of the market, then to the right and left, the men running, and the women scarcely waiting to snatch up their children in their sudden terror. One unhappy man stumbled and fell just in the path of the furious animal : we saw it stoop and pass over him ; and so rapidly did it pass, that some doubted if the man were hurt. But they were soon undeceived: he lay extended on the spot, and, the danger being past, those nearest him lifted and found him quite dead. Whether the blow had been given by the elephant's foot, tusk, or trunk, was not known: a touch of either is always sufficient to cause death.
The late Nawaub was much attached to such amusements: he had also a particular fondness for, and was a good judge of horses. He rode and hunted a great deal, and took much pains in selecting and keeping up his stud, and perhaps possessed the greatest variety of, and choicest horses of any prince in India. He kept a good pack of hounds, with regular huntsmen, and every description of dog, with a vast quantity of sporting apparatus of all kinds. His present Majesty has no such delights; his tastes lie quite in another line : the only thing he seems fond of being boats and vessels of different sorts, rather an unfortunate predilection indeed, as the Ghoomtee is by no means calculated to afford scope for exercising his hobby. The stud is fast falling into decay, and with it all that bears reference to field sports or pursuits of a similar description.