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Ye may read in the page of the sky,
In the light of the stars and the sun,
And gives them to shine as they run.
E. J. M.
LIFE IN THE JUNGLE,
OR LETTERS PROM A PLANTEN to BIB COUBIX IN LONDOI.
To JOAN SMITA, CRUTCARD, FRIake, LONDON.
Colombo, April 1st, 1841. My Dear Cousin. I hare scarcely a heart for letter writing just now, but having promised to let you know at least once a month, of my progresi in this, our adopted country, I must s'en to my task "with whal appetite į may." I shall not attempt to give you an accoont of our voyage out, though perhaps my wife may. We're not got rid of our sea-sickness get, and I often find myselt holding on by the table at breakfast time. I once read of a lady who played a thunderstorm on the pianos, so beautiful nat'ral that she always and inrariably turned the milk in the capboard sour, and cousin | b'lieve it, for as soon as erer I begin to think over the scenes and the catastrophs of our voyage, $ soon do I feel the motion of the ship again, and then d'rectly arterwards the nastý giddy qualn ishness comes over me like a wet blanket. Our five months at sea may be described in a very few words, for it was á gale of mind one day, and a squall tho nest, and then another gale like the first, only worse. I can't help think. Ing of the sailor's bill of fare in the story book; a biled piece of pork, and a roast piece of pork, a pig's head, and another piece of pork, a pig's feet and brains, and pork sassiges. So it was with us, blow, blow, blow, and wheu the wind didn't squall the children did. Bät bere we are at last in spite of my dying at least half a dozen times at sea, and Mrs. Brumu declares solemnly that even if I make myself a Nabob twenty times over she'll not go home until there's a good turnpike road, oř a railway, right slap from this to Tower Hill, -the Borough wouldn't do.?
I dare say, now you'll he wanting to know what like of a place this samo Colombn is, but I just can't tell you, for there's no such thing as moring about to look at things, while the weather's 80 cruel hot as it is here. Talk of the dog days in London! Why, cousin, they are dog days I should like to know what these aro-elephant days' at least. A sugar refiner's biling house in Whitechapel would be quite comparatively cool and agreeable to Colombo just now. I'm expecting to sče my thermometer bile over and bust erery hour.
There's not a breath of air all tho day long; not a drop of rain, and all the trees look regularly done up; they won't move a twig or a leaf for love or money. The wigbts are As bad and there's nn sich thing as sleeping anybows. You'll see how pale this writing is, well, its all owing to the heat, for the perspi. sation runs down my fingers op to the pen and regularly waters the ink. Oh! Smith what would I give for a good deep mud-bath in the city Canal, or for a few bours nap in one of them nice, dark, cond cellars in Upper Thames street, where the waguin #beels roll over your bead like peals of thunder and, where the ligbt of the sun perer enters bụt for a few minutes at twelve o'clock on midaummer day.
At present we are living, or rather dying, in a place most improperly called a “ Rest House," for what with the beat, the musquitoes, the black servants, and the comers in and goers out, we get no rest at all. After spending a restless, sleepless night, I rise to suffer from other torments. From day-break 10 sup-spt our verandab and sitting room are literally cram. med with native dealers in all sorts of jimcrackery. They are as impudent, rich and roguish as our Wbitechapel jews, only they tell a lie with far greater assurance. After all I think I would rather be cheated by one of $bese Moorish gentlemen than bs a pasty dirty jew: it's some consolation too, to bave paid your money to an ebony Arab with eighteen yards of puslin round his head, set with precious stones; besides who knows but some of them may be the descendants of the far famed Haroan Al Ras chid! Returning from a stroll by the sea-side, a morning ago, I found my. wife in the midst of about twenty of these turband gentry who bad accommo, dated her, to the tune of twenty odd pounds, with a whole waggon.full of curiosities and pick-packs. I
excessively, disgusted at this, but the Arabs were so very civil, that I paid them without grumbling and begged them to keep the change. Here's a list of the principal of Mrs. B's bar. gains: five work-boxes and dressing.dittos, of various sizes, eight ebony and cinnamon walking sticks, a pair of Elephants lusks, a monkey, two tortoises, & stuffed spake (these of course, are not to be met with in the jungle) case of shells, & gross of ivory sluds, twelve pairs of color'd slippers, nine straw hats, four ivory paper knives, three ebony letter-holders, a work-table, sa dozen fans, four bundles of peacock's feather, eighteen jars of sweet. meats and a quantity of precious stones, the latter bough very cheap. All these have to go into the jungle, a distance of about one hundred miles!
a country too where there are no railways or wakgons, but where the roads are along the brinks of precipices aod the carts of the size of work house -wheel-barrows, drawn by bullocks not larger than full-grown toin-cats !!
Had I a mind to amuse you, I might write a whole chapter of disgusts with the things and people of this island, but it would only vex me. The most ridiculous custom I've met with is that of calling servants, boys, no matter what their age or size may be. I remember how astonished I was
op fanding, to bear our captain address wbat I thought an elderly native with grey locks, “Boy." Well, thtnks I, if that grey-beard is a boy, I should just like to see one of your old men, that's what I should.
Patience is at a discount in India, and I who left the land of Cockaigne a perfect Job in temper, and now a very Jezebel's son. I don't know a bicb is the most vexatious and annoying, they musquitoes, the heat or the serrants. I am juclined to give the palm to the latter. You've no idea, cousin, what a rascally set they are: what with their laziness, their impudence, their lying and stealing, they are very pests. There ought to be a mission sent out ex. pressly for the conversion of native servants to honesty and industry. I dont think there's arything so vexatious as a servant who has an inperfect know. ledge of English. One who could not speak a word would be far better, for I should either make him understand me by signs, or through an interpres ter. But with the former, not knowing how much English he is acquainted with, I am never sure if he understands what I am telling him Fancy my annoyance the other day, when, after spending full ten minutes in cautinning my boy not to be again absent without leave under pain of dismissal, the rascal grinned like a drunken hyena and said “yes, sir." I felt I could bare appibilated him. The worst of it is that the blockheads nerer say they don't understand you, but prefer blunders and thrashings. It was only this morn ing that I read the same “ boy" a lecture about my clothes, and told him they were wretchedly washed; the rascal grinded again and said "very well, sir;" and when I asked him if he understand me, he said "I not know." I think uothing of asking for a light and getting a knife, or of sending my servant to buy some article of dress, and getting for my money an immense basket of fruit.
We have been much disappointed with the living in this country. The meat is abominable, tough as leather and about as farorless. Vegetables ditto. Poultry very small, but sometimes good. Fruit, which is the only eat. able thing, we aro warned against as unsafe. A pine.apple reminds me of a cholera hospital! Curry is about the best thing after all, for it doesn't require much labour to eatand it can be made from almost any thing, ouly they make it so everlasting hot, that I can't take a glass of wine for a quarter of an hour after it.
Mrs. B. is very busy trying to learn the language. Our servant hired a teacher for her, but when he came I found he could not speak a word of English, so we had to pay another man to interpret what the teacher said, and that makes it rather slow work. My time is mostly spent in looking over my list of tools, &c., and in reading books on Coffee Planting. The thing seems simple enough with plenty of money. Nothing like golden tools, My agent bad my land surveyed and paid for before my arrival, so that I shall go to work in a week or two. From what I hear, I calculate we must rough it a bit at first, for there's not a town within twenty-five miles of our location, and no road for five or six miles of the way. As I said to Mrs B.
last night, whatever shall we do with the children until our house is builty “ Ah!" says sbe, “ to be sure, what iudeed! Why, we shall have 'ein ruu away with by elephants, or serpents, or some other wild animals."- And when I looked round the room and saw the work-hoxes, and the peacocks feathers, and the monkey a pulling off the head of the stuffed snake, my heart sank within me. A planter's lise is no joke after all, cousin Smith, depend on it, particularly when yon have two small cbildren and a wife whw has a taste for curiosities, and nick-packs.
April 6th. My agent has informed me that 50 coolies are hired. They have all received a part of their pay in advance and are ready to a day's notice, so hey! for the jungle, and adieu to this furgace of a place - this stew.pan of humanity! I had an advertisement in the local papers here for a superintendant, and this inorning about thirty candidates made their appearance, English, Portuguese and native. According to their own ac. counts, they were each and all perfeet masters of the art of Coffee and Sugas Planting, and those engaging them would be certain to realize a considerable fortune under their able guidance. My agent, however, thought other. wise, and put a few home questions to them, which brought out the truth, that they knew nothing at all, practically, having been nearly all clerks disinissed from government employ. I was highly incensed at learning this, but they assured me that they knew quite as much, and were fully as competent as most of the “gentlemen planters" who were managing large estales. At last, however, we picked up a who had been in charge of some Cinnamon land, who understood some Singhalese, a little Malabar and still less English. He was a little dry Portuguese fellow, with a knowing look and a ready tongue and as be brought a good character I at once engaged him. You would laugh, Cousin, I am sure, if you saw this little monkey in trousers, and were told that his name was Leonardus Francisco Ludwig Tronck!
“ Heavens! what a name To fill the speaking trump of future fame !" We have been debating as to which of his names will be most convenient for common use. I voted for Francis, but my wife persists in calling bim Mr. Trunk, and so Mr, Trunk it must be.
I And I shall require a little in the medical line, which never struck me before. But my friend here tells me that Jungle Feves must be expected at first, and indeed he says that the land would not be considered good if no cases of fever were to occur. It's rather a pleasant prospect, truly, par. ticularly as he assures me that my land is most excellent. So pray, Smith, send me out by the first ship sailing, half a hundred weight of Quinine and two pipes of Port Wine, for I hear that is the best thing to take it in. Re. collect that delay on your part may lose me all my coolies, not to mention Mrs. B. and the children.
Since writing the above I've had a terrible shock. My wife came running in from the next room, in a dreadful state of excitement, reminding me of the tragedy lady at Richardson's show. “Oh! Sam," said she, “what do you think!"- '-B0 says 1, "what do you mean by thinking !"-"what do you think has happened !—“ Happened !” said I, “why I suppose that infer. Dal monkey has been and choked the babby, or thrown one of the tortoises at Jominy's head.”—“ No, no," replied Mrs. B., “it's neither, it's the toggery from the ship; come and see"-Well, while I was a thinking if it could be tbe musquitoes that had eat 'em, or my gunpowder that had ignited and burnt fum all, I got to the room, and tbere sure enough was the things. Would you believe it that the rascally sea-water had got in and spoilt ererything of consequence of our clothes. There aint a single thing left fit for wear. There's all my shalley and figured satin-waistcoats regularly done up! At least two dozens of satin cravats of all colors; silk stockings without end. Some dozen of Mrs. B's. silk and sarsnet dresses. The children's embroidery frocks and their velvet caps with gold tassels, that stood me in fourteen shillings a piece, and lastly, all my fancy ducks that couldn't bave cost less than one and twenty shillings each! But there's no help for it. However I'm determined not to be done out of my guinea ducks and my satin waistcoats, and as I can't como upon Lloyds, or the captain, or government, for their value, and cant go to church in 'em, I'm resolved to wear 'em out in the jungle and plant coffee in 'em out of spite.
April 9th I've just arranged to start for the hills the day after to-morror by the wail-cuach: so as there's lots of jimcrackery to be packed up I don't think you'll get any more from me just at present. Howerer I'll not forget you when we're up in the interior. And if we're not walked off by wild beasts, or birds of proy, or fever, before the next ship sails, why the chances are that I may give you a description of our journey up. We both send regards to all in London, and believe me,
Your affectionato, tho' distant, Cousin,