LUCKNOW, Tuesday, February 11.
We reached Lucknow at night. The moon was not yet shining, but the stars shed their peaceful halo around this spot, to which the eyes of the civilized world were so long directed during the dark days of the mutiny. At the hotel upon arrival a lady's voice was heard singing the universal refrain which nearest touches all English hearts in India and expresses the ever dominant longing, "Home, Sweet, Sweet Home."
There is no trace here of the massacres which have made this region memorable. But is the past to be repeated? Who can assure us that these bronzed figures which surround us by millions may not again in some mad moment catch the fever of revolt? This is the anxious question which I find intruding itself upon me every hour. Truly it is a dangerous game, this, to undertake the permanent subjection of a conquered race; and I do not believe that after General Grant sees India he will regret that the foolish Santo Domingo craze passed away. If America can learn one lesson from England, it is the folly of conquest, where conquest involves the government of an alien race.
Our first visit was to the ruins of the Residency, where for six long months Sir Henry Lawrence and his devoted band were shut up and surrounded by fifty thousand armed rebels. The grounds, which I should say are about thirty acres in extent, were fortunately encompassed by an earthen rampart six feet in height. You need not be told of the heroic resistance of the two regiments of British soldiers and one of natives, nor of the famous rescue. Hour after hour, day after day, week after week, and month after month, the three hundred women and children, shut in a cellar under ground, watched and prayed for the sound of Have-lock's bugles, but it came not. Hope, wearied out at last, had almost given place to despair. Through the day the attacks of the infuriated mob could be seen and repelled, but who was to answer that when darkness fell the wall was not to be pierced at some weak point of the extended line? One officer in command of a critical point failing - not to do his duty, there was never a fear of that - but failing to judge correctly of what the occasion demanded, and the struggle was over. Death was the last of the fears of these poor women night after night as the days rolled slowly away. One night there was graver silence than usual in the room; all were despondent, and lay resigned to their seemingly impending fate. No rescue came, nor any tidings of relief. In the darkness one piercing scream was heard from the narrow window. A Highland nurse had clambered up to gaze through the bars and strain her ears once more. The cooling breeze of night blew in her face and wafted such music as she could not stay to hear. One spring to the ground, a clapping of hands above the head, and such a shriek as appalled her sisters who clustered round; but all she could say between the sobs was: "The slogan - the slogan!" But few knew what the slogan was. "Didna ye hear - didna ye hear?" cried the demented girl, and then listening one moment, that she might not be deceived, she muttered, "It's the Macgregors gathering, the grandest o' them a'," and fell senseless to the ground. Truly, my lassie, the "grandest o' them a'," for never came such strains before to mortal ears. And so Jessie of Lucknow takes her place in history as one of the finest themes for painter, dramatist, poet or historian henceforth and forever. I have been hesitating whether the next paragraph in my note-book should go down here or be omitted. Probably it would be in better taste if quietly ignored, but then it would be so finely natural if put in. Well, I shall be natural or nothing, and recount that I could not help rejoicing that Jessie was Scotch, and that Scotchmen first broke the rebels' lines and reached the fort, and that the bagpipes led the way. That's all. I feel better now that this is also set down.
Lucknow, so rich in historical associations, is poverty itself in genuine architectural attractions, magnificent as it appears at a distance. It is a modern capital. About a century ago a king of Oude, in a moment of caprice, I suppose, determined to remove his capital from Fyzabad to Lucknow. Palaces on a great scale were hastily erected of common bricks and covered with white plaster. These look very fine at a distance, but closer inspection reveals the sham, and one is provoked because his admiration has been unworthily excited. Several other kings followed and carried on this imposture, each building his palace and tomb in this untruthful way. What could we expect from kings content to lie in such tombs but lives of disgusting dissipation? A simple marble slab were surely better than these pretentious lies: anything so it be genuine. However, retribution came, and the dynasty is extinct, the present king living as a prisoner in Calcutta.
The bazaars of Lucknow are well worth seeing, with their native jewellers, brass-workers, and other artificers, working in spaces not more than six feet square. We begin to see persons and modes which remind us of scriptural expressions - the water-carrier with the goat-skin filled, "the hewers of wood and drawers of water," the latter usually working in gangs of five. An earthen incline is built, leading up to the top of the wall which surrounds the well; the well-rope passes over the shoulders of the drawers, and in marching down the incline they raise the bucket. We came to-day upon a lot of women grinding the coarse daahl. Two work at each mill, sitting opposite one another, pushing around the upper stone by means of upright handles fastened into it.
"And two women shall be grinding at the mill, and one shall be
taken and the other left,"