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WILDS OF BHADERPOOR.
coral, taken from the arm of the ill-fated beauty in my district, in rememberance of her cruel fate.
The tandar and Hindoo police officers requested me on this occasion to send for some of the Bhauts, already mentioned, or some other soothsayers, from Serulan and Chandode; who are supposed to possess the art of divination, and are in consequence the reputed prophets and seers of the country: these they pretended would inform me of the truth, and prevent an improper suspicion. But being then within a few miles of Brodera, Futty Sihng's capital, I collected many circumstances which left me no doubt of the murderer, and considering it altogether as a foreign concern, I took no further notice of the deed.
The wilds of Bhaderpoor, at the foot of the eastern hills, are romantic and beautiful, finely wooded, and abounding with flowing streams at all seasons; in this respect it resembles the Scripture Jotbath, a land of rivers of waters (Deut. chap. x. ver. 7), an appellation of a very significant meaning in the torrid zone.
But, as I have already observed, it is dangerous to visit this delightful scenery without a large party of armed men, both on account of the Bheels and savage animals with which they abound: the number of tigers, leopards, and panthers is immense. During the viceroyship of the Mogul princes in Guzerat, and also at a later period among some of the Mahratta chieftains, it was customary for these great men, and their numerous attendants, to pitch their tents in unfrequented tracts, for the purpose of hunting those ferocious beasts. Their encampments, especially of the Moguls, were extensive and magnificent; there they entertained their friends in a sumptuous manner during the con
tinuance of the hunt, which sometimes lasted several weeks.
I have occasionally joined the European parties in their tiger hunts, as particularly mentioned in the wilds of Turcaseer. The forests on the confines of Bhaderpoor, are equally wild and infested with beasts of prey. As I can offer nothing so interesting upon this subject as a description of a tiger hunt in Bengal, the subject of a letter from Sir John Day to Sir William Jones, which I have had for many years in my possession, I shall not apologize for inserting so highlyfinished a picture of this royal sport; which was given to me by a very intimate friend of the writer, and has not to my knowledge appeared in print.
Description of a tiger-hunt, upon the banks of the
Ganges, near Chinsura in Bengal, in April 1784.
Although you could not partake of the pleasure, I am resolved that you shall not entirely escape the fatigue of our enterprize; and with that laudable view, although we have not returned more than an hour, and at this moment a sound sleep were heaven to me, I snatch the pen to give you the following hasty and imperfect description of the business of the day.
Matters had been thus judiciously arranged: tents were sent off yesterday, and an encampment formed within a mile and a half of the jungle which was to be the scene of our operations; and in this jungle the thickets of long rank grass and reeds are in many places fifteen feet high. At one o'clock this morning thirty elephants, with the servants, and refreshments of all kinds, were dispatched; at two we all followed
in fly-palanquins; at a quarter after four we reached the encampment, and having rested near two hours, we mounted our elephants, and proceeded to the jungle.
In our way we met with game of all kinds : hares, antelopes, hog-deer, wild boars, and wild buffaloes ; but nothing could divert our attention from the fiercer and more glorious game.
At the grey of the dawn we formed a line of great extent, and entered a small detached jungle. My elephant (sorely against my grain, but there was no remedy, for my driver was a keen sportsman, and he and I spoke no common language,) passed through the centre, but happily no tiger had at that hour nestled there. I saw, however, as I passed through it, the bed of one, in which there were an half-devoured bullock and two human skulls ; with a heap of bones, some bleached, and some still red with gore.
We had not proceeded five hundred yards beyond the jungle, when we heard a general cry on our left of “ Baug, baug, baug !" On hearing this exclamation of “ tiger!” we wheeled ; and forming the line anew, entered the great jungle, when the spot where a single tiger lay having been pointed, on the discharge of the first gun a scene presented itself confessed by all the experienced tiger hunters present to be the finest they had ever seen.
Five full-grown royal tigers sprung together from the same spot, where they had sat in bloody congress. They ran diversely; but running heavily, they all couched again in new covers within the same jungle, and all were marked. We followed, having formed the line into a crescent, so as to embrace either extremity of the jungle: in the centre were the
houdar (or state) elephants, with the marksmen, and the ladies, to comfort and encourage them.
When we had slowly and warily approached the spot where the first tiger lay, he moved not until we were just upon himn ; when, with a roar that resembled thunder, he rushed upon us. The elephants wheeled off at once, and (for it is not to be described by any quadruped-motion we know, I must therefore coin a term for the occasion) shuffled off. They returned, however, after a flight of about fifty yards, and again approaching the spot wl
where the tiger had lodged himself, towards the skirts of the jungle, he once more rushed forth, and springing at the side of an elephant upon
which three of the natives were mounted, at one stroke tore a portion of the pad from under them ; and one of the riders, panic struck, fell off. The tiger, however, seeing his enemies in force, returned, slow and indignant, into his shelter ; where, the place he lay in being marked, a heavy and well-directed fire was poured in by the principal marksmen; when, pushing in, we saw him in the struggle of death, and growling and foaming he expired.
We then proceeded to seek the others, having first distinguished the spot by pitching a tall spear, and tying to the end of it the muslin of a turban. We roused four in close succession, and with a little variation of circumstances, killed them all; the oldest, and most ferocious of the family, had, however, early in the conflict, very sensibly quitted the scene of action, and escaped to another part of the country.
While the fate of the last and largest was depending, more shots were fired than in the three other attacks;
he escaped four several assaults, and taking post in different parts of the jungle, rushed upon us at each wound he received with a kindled rage, and as often put the whole line to flight. In the last pursuit he singled out the elephant upon which Lady Day was ; and was at its tail, with jaws distended, and in the act of rising upon his hind paws to fasten on her, when fortunately she cleared the jungle; and a general discharge from the hunters having forced him to give up the chace, he returned to his shelter. The danger, I believe, was not very great; but it was sufficient, when she shall be again invited, to make her say with Lord Chesterfield, when they attempted to allure him to a second fox-hunt, “ I have been.”
The chase being over, we returned in triumph to our encampment, and were followed by the spoils of the morning, and by an accumulating multitude of the peasants from the circumjacent villages, who pressed round an open tent in which we sat at breakfast, with gratulations, blessings, and thanksgivings. The four tigers were laid in front; the natives viewed them with terror, and some with tears.
An old woman, looking earnestly at the largest tiger, and pointing at times to his tusks, and at times lifting his fore-paws, and viewing his talons, her furrows bathed in tears, in broken and moaning tones narrated something to a little circle composed of three Brahmins and a young woman with a child in her arms. No human misery could pierce the phlegm and apathy of the Brahmins, and with them there was not a feature softened; but horror and sorrow were alternately painted in the face of the female; and, from her clasping at times her child more closely to her breast,