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William Eleroy Curtis

There was a notable wedding at Baroda, the capital of one of the Native States of the same name, while we were in India, and the Gaikwar, as the ruling prince is called, expressed a desire for us to be present. He has a becoming respect for and appreciation of the influence and usefulness of the press, and it was a pleasure to find so sensible a man among the native rulers. But, owing to circumstances over which we had no control, we had to deny ourselves the gratification of witnessing an event which few foreigners have ever been allowed to see.

The most sensitive nerve in the British Empire terminates in Afghanistan, and the ghost of the czar is always dancing about the Khyber Pass, through which caravans laden with merchandise find their way across the mountains between India and the countries of Central Asia. Every time there is a stir in a clump of bushes, every time a board creaks in the floor, every time a footstep is heard under the window, the goose flesh rises on John Bull's back, and he imagines that the Great White Bear is smelling around the back door of his empire in India.

The most interesting of all the many religious sects in India are the Parsees, the residue of one of the world's greatest creeds, descendants of the disciples of Zoroaster, and the Persian fire worshipers, who sought refuge in India from the persecution of the all-conquering Mohammedans about the seventh century.

The regular army in India is maintained at an average strength of 200,000 men. The actual number of names upon the pay rolls on the 31st of December, 1904, was 203,114. This includes several thousand non-fighting men, a signal corps, a number of officers engaged in semi-civil or semi-military duties, those on staff detail and those on leave of absence. The following is an exact statement:


The present form of government in India was adopted in 1858, after the terrible Sepoy mutiny had demonstrated the inability of the East India Company to control affairs. By an act of parliament all territory, revenues, tributes and property of that great corporation, which had a monopoly of the Indian trade, and, next to the Hanseatic League of Germany, was the greatest Trust ever formed, were vested in the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, who in 1876 assumed the additional title of Empress of India. The title and authority were inherited by Edward VII.

On the way back from the frontier are plenty of delightful places at which the journey may be broken. You can have another glimpse of the most beautiful building in the world at Agra, and can take a day's excursion to Muttra, one of the seven sacred cities of India, the birthplace of Krishna, second in rank and popularity of the Hindu gods.

The railways of India are many and long and useful, but still very primitive in their appointments, having been built for utility and convenience, and not for comfort. The day will come, I suppose, when modern improvements will be introduced, and the long journeys which are necessary to reach any part of the vast empire will be made as pleasant and luxurious as transcontinental trips in the United States. Just now, however, the equipment is on a military basis of simplicity and severity. Passengers are furnished with what they need, and no more.

Everybody who keeps in touch with the slowly changing social conditions in India is convinced that the caste, the most important fetich of the Hindus, is gradually losing its hold, particularly upon the upper classes, because they cannot adjust it to the requirements of modern civilization and to the foreign customs they imitate and value so highly.

Ahmedabad, capital of the province of Jujarat, once the greatest city of India, and formerly "as large as London," is the first stopping place on the conventional tour from Bombay through the northern part of the empire, because it contains the most perfect and pure specimens of Saracenic architecture; and our experience taught us that it is a place no traveler should miss. It certainly ranks next to Agra and Delhi for the beauty and extent of its architectural glories, and for other reasons it is worth visiting.

Allahabad is the center of learning, the Athens in India, the seat of a native university, the residence of many prominent men, the headquarters of Protestant missionary work, the residence of the governor of the United Provinces, Sir James La Touche, one of the ablest and most progressive of the British officials in India. Allahabad was once a city of great importance.

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