Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Modern India by William Eleroy Curtis

Part 5 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

The larger number of fakirs are merely religious tramps, worthless,
useless impostors, living upon the fears and superstitions of
the people and doing more harm than good. Others are without
doubt earnest and sincere ascetics, who believe that they are
promoting the welfare and happiness of their fellow men by depriving
themselves of everything that is necessary to happiness, purifying
their souls by privation and hardship and obtaining spiritual
inspiration and light by continuous meditation and prayer. Many
of these are fanatics, some are epileptics, some are insane. They
undergo self-torture of the most horrible kinds and frequently
prove their sincerity by causing themselves to be buried alive, by
starving to death, or by posing themselves in unnatural attitudes
with their faces or their arms raised to heaven until the sinews
and muscles are benumbed or paralyzed and they fall unconscious
from exhaustion. These are tests of purity and piety. Zealots
frequently enter temples and perform such feats for the admiration
of pilgrims and by-standers. Many are clairvoyants and have the
power of second sight. They hypnotize subjects and go into trances
themselves, in which condition the soul is supposed to leave
the body and visit the gods. Some of the metaphysical phenomena
are remarkable and even startling. They cannot be explained.
You have doubtless read of the wonderful fakir, Ram Lal, who
appears in F. Marion Crawford's story of "Mr. Isaacs," and there
is a good deal concerning this class of people in Rudyard Kipling's
"Kim." Those two, by the way, are universally considered the best
stories of Indian life ever written. You will perhaps remember
also reading of the astonishing performances of Mme. Blavatsky,
who visited the United States some years ago as the high priestess
of Theosophy. Her supernatural manifestations attracted a great
deal of attention at one time, but she was finally exposed and
denounced as a charlatan.

Among the higher class of fakirs are many extraordinary men,
profound scholars, accomplished linguists and others whose knowledge
of both the natural and the occult sciences is amazing. I was
told by one of the highest officials of the Indian Empire of
an extraordinary feat performed for his benefit by one of these
fakirs, who in some mysterious way transferred himself several
hundred miles in a single night over a country where there were no
railroads, and never took the trouble to explain how his journey
was accomplished.

The best conjurers, magicians and palmists in India are fakirs.
Many of them tell fortunes from the lines of the hand and from
other signs with extraordinary accuracy. Old residents who have
come in contact with this class relate astounding tales. While
at Calcutta a young lady at our hotel was incidentally informed
by a fortune-telling fakir she met accidentally in a Brahmin
temple that she would soon receive news that would change all
her plans and alter the course of her life, and the next morning
she received a cablegram from England announcing the death of
her father. If you get an old resident started on such stories
he will keep telling them all night.

Of course you have read of the incredible and seemingly impossible
feats performed by Hindu magicians, of whom the best and most
skillful belong to the fakir class. I have seen the "box trick,"
or "basket trick," as they call it, in which a young man is tied
up in a gunny sack and locked up in a box, then at a signal a
few moments after appears smiling at the entrance to your house,
but I have never found anyone who could explain how he escaped
from his prison. This was performed daily on the Midway Plaisance
at the World's Fair at Chicago and was witnessed by thousands
of people. And it is simple compared with some of the doings
of these fakirs. They will take a mango, open it before you,
remove the seeds, plant them in a tub of earth, and a tree will
grow and bear fruit before your eyes within half an hour. Or,
what is even more wonderful, they will climb an invisible rope
in the open air as high as a house, vanish into space, and then,
a few minutes after, will come smiling around the nearest street
corner. Or, if that is not wonderful enough, they will take an
ordinary rope, whirl it around their head, toss it into the air,
and it will stand upright, as if fastened to some invisible bar,
so taut and firm that a heavy man can climb it.

These are a few of the wonderful things fakirs perform about
the temples, and nobody has ever been able to discover how they
do it. People who begin an inquiry usually abandon it and declare
that the tricks are not done at all, that the spectators are simply
hypnotized and imagine that they have seen what they afterward
describe. This explanation is entirely plausible. It is the only safe
one that can be given, and it is confirmed by other manifestations
of hypnotic power that you would not believe if I should describe
them. Fakirs have hypnotized people I know and have made them
witness events and spectacles which they afterward learned were
transpiring, at the very moment, five and six thousand miles
away. For example, a young gentleman, relating his experience,
declared that under the power of one of these men he attended his
brother's wedding in a London church and wrote home an account
of it that was so accurate in its details that his family were
convinced that he had come all the way from India without letting
them know and had attended it secretly.

Many of the snake charmers to whom I referred in a previous chapter
are fakirs, devoted to gods whose specialties are snakes, and
pious Hindus believe that the deities they worship protect them
from the venom of the reptiles. Sometimes you can see one of
them at a temple deliberately permit his pets to sting him on
the arm, and he will show you the blood flowing. Taking a little
black stone from his pocket he will rub it over the wound and then
rub it upon the head of the snake. Then he will rub the wound
again, and again the head of the snake, all the time muttering
prayers, making passes with his hands, bowing his body to the
ground, and going through other forms of worship, and when he
has concluded he will assure you that the bite of the snake has
been made harmless by the incantation.

I have never seen more remarkable contortionists than the fakirs
who can be always found about temples in Benares, and frequently
elsewhere. They are usually very lean men, almost skeletons. As
they wear no clothing, one can count their bones through the
skin, but their muscles and sinews are remarkably strong and
supple. They twist themselves into the most extraordinary shapes.
No professional contortionist upon the vaudeville stage can compare
with these religious mendicants, who give exhibitions in the
open air, or in the porticos of the temples in honor of some
god and call it worship. They acquire the faculty of doing their
feats by long and tedious training under the instruction of older
fakirs, who are equally accomplished, and the performances are
actually considered worship, just as much as an organ voluntary,
the singing of a hymn, or a display of pulpit eloquence in one of
our churches. The more wonderful their feats, the more acceptable
to their gods, and they go from city to city through all India,
and from temple to temple, twisting their bodies into unnatural
shapes and postures under the impression that they will thereby
attain a higher degree of holiness and exalt themselves in the
favor of heaven. They do not give exhibitions for money. They
cannot be hired for any price to appear upon a public stage.
Theatrical agents in London and elsewhere have frequently tempted
them with fortunes, but they cannot be persuaded to display their
gifts for gain, or violate their caste and the traditions of
their profession.

There is a fearful sect of fakirs devoted to Siva and to Bhairava,
the god of lunacy, who associate with evil spirits, ghouls and
vampires, and practice hideous rites of blood, lust and gluttony.
They tear their flesh with their finger-nails, slash themselves
with knives, and occasionally engage in a frantic dance from
which they die of exhaustion.

The nautches of India have received considerable attention from
many sources. They are the object of the most earnest admonitions
from missionaries and moralists, and no doubt are a very bad lot,
although they do not look it, and are a recognized and respected
profession among the Hindus. They are consecrated to certain
gods soon after their birth; they are the brides of the impure
and obscene deities of the Hindu pantheon, and are attached to
their temples, receiving their support from the collections of
the priests or the permanent endowments, often living under the
temple roof and almost always within the sacred premises. The
amount of their incomes varies according to the wealth and the
revenues of the idol to which they were attached. They dance
before him daily and sing hymns in his honor. The ranks of the
nautch girls are sometimes recruited by the purchase of children
from poor parents, and by the dedication of the daughters of pious
Hindu families to that vocation, just as in Christian countries
daughters are consecrated to the vocation of religion from the
cradle and sons are dedicated to the priesthood and ministry.
Indeed it is considered a high honor for the daughter of a Hindu
family to be received into a temple as a nautch.

They never marry and never retire. When they become too old to
dance they devote themselves to the training of their successors.
They are taught to read and write, to sing and dance, to embroider
and play upon various musical instruments. They are better educated
than any other class of Hindu women, and that largely accounts for
their attractions and their influence over men. They have their
own peculiar customs and rules, similar to those of the geishas of
Japan, and if a nautch is so fortunate as to inherit property it
goes to the temple to which she belongs. This custom has become
law by the confirmation of the courts. No nautch can retain any
article of value without the consent of the priest in charge of
the temple to which she is attached, and those who have received
valuable gifts of jewels from their admirers and lovers are often
compelled to surrender them. On the other hand, they are furnished
comfortable homes, clothing and food, and are taken care of all
of their lives, just the same as religious devotees belonging
to any other sect. Notwithstanding their notorious unchastity
and immorality, no discredit attaches to the profession, and
the very vices for which they are condemned are considered acts
of duty, faith and worship, although it seems almost incredible
that a religious sect will encourage gross immorality in its
own temples. Yet Hinduism has done worse things than that, and
other of its practices are even more censurable.

Bands of nautches are considered necessary appurtenances of the
courts of native Hindu princes, although they are never found
in the palaces of Mohammedans. They are brought forward upon
all occasions of ceremony, religious, official and convivial.
If the viceroy visits the capital of one of the native states he
is entertained by their best performances. They have a place on
the programme at all celebrations of feast days; they appear at
weddings and birthday anniversaries, and are quite as important
as an orchestra at one of our social occasions at home. They are
invited to the homes of native gentlemen on all great occasions
and are treated with the utmost deference and generosity. They
are permitted liberties and are accorded honors that would not be
granted to the wives and daughters of those who entertain them,
and stand on the same level as the Brahmin priests, yet they
are what we would call women of the town, and receive visitors
indiscriminately in the temples and other sacred places, according
to their pleasure and whims.

A stranger in India finds it difficult to reconcile these facts,
but any resident will assure you of the truth. The priests are
said to encourage the attentions of rich young Hindus because of
the gifts of money and jewels they are in the habit of showering
upon nautches they admire, but each girl is supposed to have a
"steady" lover, upon whom she bestows her affections for the
time being. He may be old or young, married or unmarried, rich or
poor, for as a rule it is to these women that a Hindu gentleman
turns for the companionship which his own home does not supply.

There is a difference of opinion as to the beauty of the nautches.
It is purely a matter of taste. There is no rule by which personal
attractions may be measured, and doubtless there may be beautiful
women among them, but, so far, I have never seen one. Their costumes
are usually very elaborate, the materials being of the rarest and
finest qualities and profusely embroidered, and their jewels are
usually costly. Their manners are gentle, refined and modest; they
are perfectly self-possessed under all circumstances, and, while
their dancing would not be attractive to the average American
taste, it is not immodest, and consists of a succession of graceful
gestures and posturing which is supposed to have a definite meaning
and express sentiments and emotions. Most of the dances are
interpretations of poems, legends, stories of the gods and heroes
of Indian mythology. Educated Hindus profess to be able to understand
them, although to a foreigner they are nothing more than meaningless
motions. I have asked the same question of several missionaries,
but have never been able to discover a nautch dancer who has
abandoned her vocation, or has deserted her temple, or has run
away with a lover, or has been reached in any way by the various
missions for women in India. They seem to be perfectly satisfied
with their present and their future.

The greatest good women missionaries have done in India, I think,
is in bringing modern medical science into the homes of the natives.
No man is ever admitted to the zenanas, no matter what may happen,
and thousands upon thousands, yes, millions upon millions, of poor
creatures have suffered and died for lack of ordinary medical
attention because of the etiquette of caste. American women brought
the first relief, graduates from medical schools in Philadelphia,
New York and Chicago, and now there are women physicians attached to
all of the missions, and many of them are practicing independently
in the larger cities. They are highly respected and exert a great

Nizam-u-Din, one of the holiest of the Hindu saints, lies in a
tomb of marble lace work and embroidery near Delhi; as exquisite
a bit of architecture as you can imagine, so dainty in all its
details that it ought to be the sepulcher of a fairy queen instead
of that of the founder of the Thugs, the secret religious society
of assassins which was suppressed and practically exterminated by
the British authorities in the '60's and '70's. He died in 1652.
He was a fanatic who worshiped the goddess Kali; the black wife of
Siva, and believed that the removal of unbelievers from the earth
was what we call a Christian duty. As Kali prohibited the shedding
of blood, he trained his devotees to strangle their fellow beings
without violating that prohibition or leaving any traces of their
work, and sent out hundreds of professional murderers over India
to diminish the number of heretics for the good and glory of the
faith. No saint in the Hindu calendar is more generally worshiped
or more profoundly revered unto the present day. His tomb is
attended by groups of Brahmins who place fresh flowers upon the
cenotaph every morning and cover it reverently with Cashmere
shawls of the finest texture and pieces of rare embroidery.

India is the only country where crime was ever systematically
carried on as a religious and legitimate occupation in the belief
that it was right, for not only the Thugs, but other professional
murderers existed for centuries, and still exist, although in
greatly diminished numbers, owing to the vigilance of the police;
not because they have become converted from the error of their ways.
There are yet tribes of professional criminals who believe that,
in following the customs and the occupation of their ancestors,
they are acting in the only way that is right and are serving
the gods they worship. Criminal organizations exist in nearly
all the native states, and the government is just now making
a special effort to stamp out professional "dacoits," who are
associated for the purpose of highway robbery, cattle stealing
and violence and carry on marauding expeditions from their
headquarters continuously. They are just as well organized and as
thoroughly devoted to their business as the gangs of highwaymen
that used to make travel dangerous through Europe in the middle
ages. And there are other criminal organizations with which it
is even more difficult to deal. A recent report from the office
of the home secretary says:

"We all know that trades go by castes in India; a family of
carpenters will be a family of carpenters a century or five centuries
hence, if they last so long; so with grain dealers, blacksmiths,
leather-makers and every known trade. If we keep this in mind
when we speak of 'professional criminals' we shall realize what
the term really means. It means that the members of a tribe whose
ancestors were criminals from time immemorial are themselves
destined by the use of the caste to commit crime, and their
descendants will be offenders against the law till the whole
tribe is exterminated or accounted for in the manner of the Thugs.
Therefore, when a man tells you he is a badhak, or a kanjar,
or a sonoria, he tells you, what few Europeans ever thoroughly
realize, that he is an habitual and avowed offender against the
law, and has been so from the beginning and will be so to the
end; that reform is impossible, for it is his trade, his caste--I
may almost say, his religion--to commit crime."

The Thugs were broken up by Captain Sleeman, a brave and able
British detective who succeeded in entering that assassination
society and was initiated into its terrible mysteries. A large
number of the leaders were executed from time to time, but the
government, whose policy is always to respect religious customs
of the Hindus, administered as little punishment as possible,
and "rounding up" all of the members of this cult, as ranchmen
would say, "corralled" them at the Town of Jabal-pur, near the
City of Allahabad, in northeastern India, where they have since
been under surveillance. Originally there were 2,500, but now
only about half of that number remain, who up to this date are
not allowed to leave without a permit the inclosure in which
they are kept.

One of the criminal tribes, called Barwars, numbers about a thousand
families and inhabits forty-eight villages in the district of
Gonda, in the Province of Oudh, not far from Delhi. They live
quietly and honestly upon their farms during the months of planting
and harvesting, but between crops they wander in small gangs
over distant parts of the country, robbing and plundering with
great courage and skill. They even despoil the temples of the
gods. The only places that are sacred to them are the temple
of Jaganath (Juggernaut), in the district of Orissa, and the
shrine of a certain Mohammedan martyr. They have a regular
organization under hereditary chiefs, and if a member of the
clan gives up thieving he is disgraced and excommunicated. The
plunder is divided pro rata, and a certain portion is set aside
for their priests and as offerings to their gods.

There is a similar clan of organized robbers and murderers known
as Sonoriaths, whose special business is to steal cattle, and
the Mina tribe, which lives in the district of Gurgaon, on the
frontier of the Punjab Province, has 2,000 members, given up
entirely to robbery and murder. They make no trouble at home. They
are honest in their dealings, peaceable, charitable, hospitable,
and have considerable wealth, but between crops the larger portion
of the men disappear from their homes and go into other provinces
for the purpose of robbery, burglary and other forms of stealing.
In the Agra Province are twenty-nine different tribes who from
time immemorial have made crime their regular occupation and,
like all those mentioned, look upon it as not only a legitimate
but a religious act ordered and approved by the deities they

Special laws have been enacted for restraining these castes or
clans, and special police officers now exercise supervision over
them. Every man is required to register at the police headquarters
and receive a passport. He is required to live within a certain
district, and cannot change his abode or leave its limits without
permission. If he does so he is arrested and imprisoned. The
authorities believe that they have considerably reduced the amount
of crime committed by these clansmen, who are too cunning and
courageous to be entirely suppressed. No amount of vigilance
can prevent them from leaving their villages and going off into
other provinces for criminal purposes, and the railways greatly
facilitate their movements.

Nevertheless, if you will examine the criminal statistics of
India you will be surprised at the small number of arrests, trials
and convictions for penal offenses. The figures demonstrate that
the people are honest and law abiding. There is less crime in
India than in any other country in proportion to population, much
less than in England or the United States. Out of a population
of 300,000,000 people during the ten years from 1892 to 1902
there was an annual average of 1,015,550 criminal cases before
the courts, and an average of 1,345,667 offenses against the
criminal laws reported, while 870,665 persons were convicted of
crime in 1902, with the following penalties imposed:

Death 500
Penal servitude 1,707
Imprisonment 175,795
Fines 628,092
Over two years' imprisonment 7,576
Between one and two years 39,067
Between fifteen days and one year 86,653
Under fifteen days 34,517

The following were the most serious crimes in 1902:

Arrests. Convictions.
Offenses against public peace 15,190 5,088
Murder 3,255 1,102
Assault 42,496 12,597
Dacoity or highway robbery 3,320 706
Cattle stealing 29,691 9,307
Ordinary theft 183,463 45,566
House-breaking 192,353 23,143
Vagrancy 25,212 18,877
Public nuisances 216,285 201,421

The following table will show the total daily average of prisoners,
men and women, serving sentences for penal offenses in the prisons
of India during the years named:

Men. Women. Total.
1892 93,061 3,142 96,202
1893 91,976 2,988 94,964
1894 92,236 2,941 95,177
1895 97,869 3,216 101,085
1896 100,406 3,280 103,686
1897 109,989 3,277 113,266
1898 103,517 2,927 106,446
1899 101,518 2,773 104,292
1900 114,854 3,253 118,107
1901 108,258 3,124 111,382

Those who are familiar with criminal statistics in the United
States and other countries, will, I am confident, agree with
me that this is a most remarkable record for a population of
300,000,000, illiterate, superstitious, impregnated with false
ideas of honor and morality, and packed so densely as the people
of India are. The courts of justice have reached a high standard;
the lower courts are administered almost exclusively by natives;
the higher courts by English and natives together. No trial of
importance ever takes place except before a mixed court, and
usually the three great religions--Brahminism, Mohammedanism and
Christianity--are represented on the bench.

One of the most difficult and delicate tasks of the British
authorities has been to prevent infanticide, the murder of girl
infants, because from time immemorial among all the races of
India it has been practiced openly and without restraint and
in many sections as a religious duty. And what has made it more
difficult, it prevailed most extensively among the families of
the highest rank, and among the natives, communities and provinces
which were most loyal to the British crown. For example, the
Rajputs, of whom I have written at length in a previous chapter,
are the chivalry of India. They trace their descent from the
gods, and are proud of their nobility and their honor, yet it
has been the custom among them as far back as traditions run,
to strangle more than half their girl babies at birth, and until
this was stopped the records showed numbers of villages where
there was not a single girl, and where there never had been one
within the memory of man. As late as the census of 1869 seven
villages were reported with 104 boys and one girl, twenty-three
villages with 284 boys and twenty-three girls and many others in
similar proportions. The statistics of the recent census of 1901,
by the disparity between the sexes, show that this crime has not
yet been stamped out. In the Rajputana Province, for example,
there are 2,447,401 boys to 1,397,911 girls, and throughout the
entire population of India there are 72,506,661 boys to 49,516,381
girls. Among the Hindus of all ages there are 105,163,345 men
to 101,945,387 women, and among the Sikhs, who also strangle
their children, there are 1,241,543 men to 950,823 women. Among
the Buddhists, the Jains and other religions the ratio between
the sexes was more even.

Sir John Strachy, in his admirable book upon India, says: "These
people have gone on killing their children generation after
generation because their forefathers did so before them, not
only without a thought that there is anything criminal in the
practice, but with the conviction that it is right. There can
be little doubt that if vigilance were relaxed the custom would
before long become as prevalent as ever." The measures taken
by the government have been radical and stringent. A system of
registration of births and deaths was provided by an act passed
in 1870, with constant inspection and frequent enumeration of
children among the suspected classes, and no efforts were spared
to convince them that the government had finally resolved to
prevent the practice and in doing so treated it as murder.



At Delhi the railway forks. One branch runs on to the frontier of
Afghanistan via Lahore and Peshawur, and the other via Umballa, an
important military post, to Simla, the summer capital and sanitarium
of India. Because of the climate there must be two capitals. From
October to April the viceroy occupies the government house at
Calcutta with the civil and military authorities around him, but
as soon as the summer heat sets in the whole administration, civil,
military and judicial, removes to Simla, and everybody follows,
foreign consuls, bankers, merchants, lawyers, butchers, bakers
and candlestick makers, hotel and boardinghouse keepers, with
their servants, coachmen and horses. The commander-in-chief of
the army, the adjutant general and all the heads of the other
departments with their clerks take their books and records along
with them. The winter population of Simla is about 15,000; the
summer population reaches 30,000. The exodus lasts about a month,
during which time every railway train going north is crowded and
every extra car that can be spared is borrowed from the other
railways. The last of October the migration is reversed and everybody
returns to Calcutta. This has been going on for nearly fifty
years. The journey to Umballa is made by rail and thence by
"dak-gherries," a sort of covered democrat wagon, "mailtongas,"
a species of cart, bullock carts, army wagons and carriages of
every size and description, while the luggage is brought up the
hills in various kinds of conveyance, much of it on the heads
of coolies, both women and men. The distance, fifty-seven miles
by the highway, is all uphill, but can be made by an ordinary
team in twelve hours.

Long experience has taught the government officials how to make
this removal in a scientific manner, and the records are arranged
for easy transportation. The viceroy has his own outfit, and when
the word is given the transfer takes place without the slightest
difficulty or confusion. A public functionary leaves his papers at
his desk, puts on his hat and walks out of his office at Calcutta;
three days later he walks into his office at Simla, hangs his
hat on a peg behind the door and sits down at his desk with the
same papers lying in the same positions before him, and business
goes on with the interruption of only three or four days at most.
The migration makes no more difference to the administration than
the revolutions of the earth. Formerly the various offices were
scattered over all parts of Simla, but they have been gradually
concentrated in blocks of handsome buildings constructed at a
cost of several millions of dollars. The home secretary, the
department of public works, the finance and revenue departments,
the secretary of agriculture, the postmaster general and the
secretary of war, each has quite as good an office for himself
and his clerks as he occupies at Calcutta. There is a courthouse,
a law library, a theatre and opera house, a number of clubs and
churches, for the archbishop and the clergy follow their flocks,
and the Calcutta merchants come along with their clerks and
merchandise to supply the wants of their customers. It is a
remarkable migration of a great government.

Although absolutely necessary for their health, and that of their
families, it is rather expensive for government employes, or
civil servants, as they are called in India, to keep up two
establishments, one in Simla and one in Calcutta. But they get
the benefit of the stimulating atmosphere of the hills and escape
the perpetual Turkish bath that is called summer in Calcutta.
Many of the higher officials, merchants, bankers, society people
and others have bungalows at Simla furnished like our summer
cottages at home. They extend over a long ridge, with beautiful
grounds around them. It is fully six miles from one end of the
town to the other, and the principal street is more than five
miles long. The houses are built upon terraces up and down the
slope, with one of the most beautiful panoramas of mountain scenery
that can be imagined spread out before them. Deep valleys, rocky
ravines and gorges break the mountainsides, which are clothed with
forests of oak and other beautiful trees, while the background is
a crescent of snowy peaks rising range above range against the
azure sky. Many people live in tents, particularly the military
families, and make themselves exceedingly comfortable. Simla is
quite cold in winter, being 7,084 feet above the sea and situated
on the thirty-second parallel of north latitude, about the same
as Charleston, S. C., but in summer the climate is very fine.

The viceroy occupies a chateau called the Viceregal Lodge, perched
upon a hill overlooking the town, and from his porches commands as
grand a mountain landscape as you could wish to see. The Viceregal
Lodge, like the government-house in Calcutta, was designed especially
for its purpose and is arranged for entertainments upon a broad
scale. The vice-queen takes the lead in social life, and no woman
in that position has ever been more competent than Lady Curzon.
There is really more society at Simla than in Calcutta. It is
the Newport of India, but fortunately for the health of those
who participate, it is mostly out of doors. The military element
is large enough to give it an athletic and sporting character, and
to the girls who are popular a summer at Simla is one prolonged
picnic. There are races, polo, tennis, golf, drives, rides, walks,
garden parties and all sorts of afternoon and morning functions. F.
Marion Crawford describes the gayeties of Simla in "Mr. Isaacs,"
the first and best novel he ever wrote, and gives a graphic account
of a polo match in which his hero was knocked off his horse and
had his head bathed by the young lady he was in love with. Kipling
has given us a succession of pictures of Simla society, and no
novel of Indian life is without a chapter or two on it, because
it is really the most interesting place in all the empire.

If you want to get a better idea of the place and its attractions
than I can give, read "Mr. Isaacs." Many of its incidents are
drawn from life, and the hero is a Persian Jew of Delhi, named
Jacobs, whose business is to sell precious stones to the native
princes. Crawford used to spend his summers at Simla when he
was a reporter for the Allahabad Pioneer, and made Jacobs's
acquaintance there. His Indian experiences are very interesting,
and he tells them as well as he writes. When he was quite a young
man he went to India as private secretary for an Englishman of
importance who died over there and left him stranded. Having failed
to obtain employment and having reached the bottom of his purse,
he decided in desperation to enlist as a private soldier in the
army, and was looking through the papers for the location of the
recruiting office when his eye was attracted by an advertisement
from the Allahabad Pioneer, which wanted a reporter. Although
he had never done any literary work, he decided to make a dash
for it, and became one of the most successful and influential
journalists in India until his career was broken in upon by the
success of "Mr. Isaacs," his first novel, which was published
in England and turned his pen from facts to fiction.

The railway journey from Delhi to Lahore is not exciting, although
it passes through a section of great historical interest which
has been fought over by contending armies and races for more
than 3,000 years. Several of the most important battles in India
occurred along the right of way, and they changed the dynasties
and religions of the empire, but the plains tell no tales and
show no signs of the events they have witnessed. Everybody who
has read Kipling's stories will be interested in Umballa, although
it is nothing but an important military post and railway junction.
He tells you about it in "Kim," and several of his army stories
are laid there. Sirhind, thirty-five miles beyond, was formerly
one of the most flourishing cities in the Mogul Empire, and for
a radius of several miles around it the earth is covered with
ruins. It was the scene of successive struggles between the Hindus
and the Sikhs for several centuries, and even to this day every
Sikh who passes through Sirhind picks up and carries away a brick,
which he throws into the first river he comes to, in hope that in
time the detested city will utterly disappear from the face of
the earth. Sirhind is the headquarters of American Presbyterian
missionary work in the Punjab, as that part of India is called,
and the headquarters of the largest irrigation system in the
world, which supplies water to more than 6,000,000 acres of land.

Just before reaching Lahore we passed through Amritsar, a city
which is famous for many things, and is the capital of the Sikhs,
a religious sect bound together by the ties of faith and race
and military discipline. They represent a Hindu heresy led by
a reformer named Nanak Shah, who was born at Lahore in 1469 and
preached a reformation against idolatry, caste, demon worship
and other doctrines of the Brahmins. His theories and sermons
are embraced in a volume known as the "Granth," the Sikh Bible,
which teaches the highest standard of morality, purity and courage,
and appeals especially to the nobler northern races of India. His
followers, who were known as Sikhs, were compelled to fight for
their faith, and for that reason were organized upon a military
basis. Their leaders were warlike men, and when the Mogul power
began to decay they struggled with the Afghans for supremacy in
northern India. They have ever since been renowned for their
fighting qualities; have always been loyal to British authority;
for fifty years have furnished bodyguards for the Viceroy of India,
the governors of Bombay, Bengal and other provinces, and so much
confidence is placed in their coolness, courage, honesty, judgment
and tact that they are employed as policemen in all the British
colonies of the East. You find them everywhere from Tien-Tsin to
the Red Sea. They are men of unusual stature, with fine heads
and faces, full beards, serious disposition and military airs.
They are the only professional fighters in the world. You seldom
find them in any other business, and their admirers declare that
no Sikh was ever convicted of cowardice or disloyalty.

Amritsar is their headquarters, their religious center and their
sacred city. Their temples are more like Protestant churches than
those of other oriental faiths. They have no idols or altars, but
meet once a week for prayer and praise. Their preacher reads passages
from the "Granth" and prays to their God, who may be reached through
the intercession of Nanak Shah, his prophet and their redeemer.
They sing hymns similar to those used in Protestant worship and
celebrate communion by partaking of wafers of unleavened bread.
Their congregations do not object to the presence of strangers,
but usually invite them to participate in the worship.

The great attraction of Amritsar is "The Golden Temple" of the
Sikhs which stands in the middle of a lake known as "The Pool of
Immortality." It is not a large building, being only fifty-three
feet square, but is very beautiful and the entire exterior is
covered with plates of gold. In the treasury is the original
copy of the "Granth" and a large number of valuable jewels which
have been collected for several centuries. Among them is one
of the most valuable strings of pearls ever collected.

The Punjab is a province of northern India directly south of
Cashmere, east of Afghanistan and west of Thibet. It is one of
the most enterprising, progressive and prosperous provinces,
and, being situated in the temperate zone, the character of the
inhabitants partakes of the climate. There is a great difference,
morally, physically and intellectually, between people who live
in the tropics and those who live in the temperate zone. This
rule applies to all the world, and nowhere more than in India.
Punjab means "five rivers," and is formed of the Hindu words
"punj ab." The country is watered by the Sutlej, the Beas, the
Rabi, the Chenab and the Jhelum rivers, five great streams, which
flow into the Indus, and thence to the Arabian Sea. Speaking
generally, the Punjab is a vast plain of alluvial formation,
and the eastern half of it is very fertile. The western part
requires irrigation, the rainfall being only a few inches a year,
but there is always plenty of water for irrigation in the rivers.
They are fed by the melting snows in the Himalayas.

The City of Lahore, the capital of the Punjab, is a stirring,
modern town, a railway center, with extensive workshops employing
several thousand men, and early in the nineteenth century, under
the administration of Ranjit Singh, one of the greatest of the
maharajas, it acquired great commercial importance, but the buildings
he erected are cheap and tawdry beside the exquisite architectural
monuments of Akbar, Shah Jeban and other Moguls. The population
of Punjab province by the census of 1901 is 20,330,339, and the
Mohammedans are in the majority, having 10,825,698 of the
inhabitants. The Sikhs are a very important class and number
1,517,019. There are only 2,200,000 Sikhs in all India, and those
who do not live in this province are serving as soldiers elsewhere.
The population of Lahore is 202,000, an increase of 26,000 during
the last ten years.

When you come into a Mohammedan country you always find tiles.
Somehow or another they are associated with Islam. The Moors
were the best tilemakers that ever lived, and gave that art to
Spain. In Morocco today the best modern tiles are found. The
tiles of Constantinople, Damascus, Smyrna, Jerusalem and other
cities of Syria and the Ottoman Empire are superior to any you
can find outside of Morocco; and throughout Bokhara, Turkestan,
Afghanistan and the other Moslem countries of Asia tilemaking has
been practiced for ages. In their invasion of India the Afghans
and Tartars brought it with them, and, although the art did not
remain permanently so far beyond the border as Delhi, you find
it there, in the rest of the Punjab and wherever Mohammedans
are in the majority.

Lahore is an ancient city and has many interesting old buildings.
The city itself lies upon the ruins of several predecessors which
were destroyed by invaders during the last twelve or fifteen
centuries. There are some fine old mosques and an ancient palace
or two, but compared with other Indian capitals it lacks interest.
The most beautiful and attractive of all its buildings is the
tomb of Anar Kali (which means pomegranate blossom), a lady of
the Emperor Akbar's harem, who became the sweetheart of Selim,
his son. She was buried alive by order of the jealous father
and husband for committing an unpardonable offense, and when
Selim became the Emperor Jehanjir he erected this wonderful tomb
to her memory. It is of white marble, and the carvings and mosaic
work are very fine. In striking contrast with it is a vulgar,
fantastic temple covered inside and out with convex mirrors.
In the center of the rotunda, upon a raised platform is carved
a lotus flower, and around it are eleven similar platforms of
smaller size. The guides tell you that upon these platforms the
body of Ranjit Singh, the greatest of the maharajas, was burned
in 1839, and his eleven wives were burned alive upon the platforms
around him.

The Emperor Jehanjir is buried in a magnificent mausoleum in the
center of a walled garden on the bank of the river five miles
from Lahore, but his tomb does not compare in beauty or splendor
with those at Agra and Delhi. There is a garden called "The Abode
of Love," about six miles out of town, where everybody drives
in the afternoon. It was laid out by the Mogul Shah Jehan in
1637 for a recreation ground for himself and his sultanas when
he visited this part of the empire, and includes about eighty
acres of flowers and foliage plants.

Modern Lahore is much more interesting than the ancient city.
The European quarter covers a large area. The principal street
is three miles long, shaded with splendid trees, and on each
side of it are the public offices, churches, schools, hotels,
clubs and the residences of rich people, which are nearly all
commodious bungalows surrounded by groves and gardens. The native
city is a busy bazaar, densely packed with gayly dressed types
of all the races of Asia, and is full of dust, filth and smells.
But the people are interesting and the colors are gay. It is
sometimes almost impossible to pass through the crowds that fill
the native streets, and whoever enters there must expect to be
jostled sometimes by ugly-looking persons.

The fort is the center of activity. The ancient citadel has been
adapted to modern uses and conveniences at the expense of its
former splendor. The palaces and mosques, the baths and halls
of audience of the Moguls have been converted into barracks,
arsenals and storerooms, and their decorations have been covered
with whitewash. The only object of interest that has been left is
an armory containing a fine collection of ancient Indian weapons.
But, although the city has lost its medieval picturesqueness, it has
gained in utility, and has become the most important educational
and industrial center of northern India. The university and its
numerous affiliated schools, the law college, the college of
oriental languages and the manual training school are all well
attended and important, and the school of art and industry enjoys
the reputation of being the most useful and the best-managed
institution of the kind in the East, probably in all Asia, which
is due to the zeal and ability of J. L. Kipling, father of Rudyard
Kipling, who has spent the greater part of his life in making it
what it is. He was also the founder of the museum or "Wonder-House,"
as the natives call it. It has the finest collection of Indian
arts and industries in existence except that in South Kensington
Museum, which Mr. Kipling also collected and installed. It was
under the carriage of one of the great old-fashioned cannon that
stand in front of this museum that "Kim" first encountered the
aged Llama, and Kipling's father is the wise man who kept the
"Wonder-House" and gave the weary pilgrim the knowledge and
encouragement that sustained him in his search for The Way.


Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, where his father was principal
of an art school, and was brought to Lahore when he was a child,
so that he spent most of his younger life there. He was educated
at the Lahore schools and university; he served for several years
as a reporter of the Lahore newspaper, and there he wrote most
of his short stories. "The Plain Tales From the Hills" and the
best of his "Barrack-Room Ballads" were inspired by his youthful
association with the large military garrison at this point. Here
Danny Deever was hanged for killing a comrade in a drunken passion,
and here Private Mulvaney developed his profound philosophy.

Lahore is the principal Protestant missionary center of northern
India. The American Presbyterians are the oldest in point of
time and the strongest in point of numbers. They came in 1849,
and some of the pioneers are still living. They have schools and
colleges, a theological seminary and other institutions, with
altogether five or six thousand students, and are turning out
battalions of native preachers and teachers for missionary work in
other parts of India. The American Methodists are also strong and
there are several schools maintained by British societies. Fifty
years ago there was not a native Christian in all these parts,
and the missionaries had to coax children into their schools by
offering inducements in the form of food and clothing. Now by
the recent census there are 65,811 professing Christians in the
Punjab province, and the schools and native churches are nearly
all self-supporting.

Lahore is an important market for native merchandise, and the
distributing point for imported European goods as well as the
native products, while Amritsar, the neighboring city, is the
manufacturing center. Here come Cashmeris, Nepalese, Beluchis,
Afghans, Persians, Bokharans, Khivans, Khokandes, Turcomans,
Yarkandis, Cashgaris, Thibetans, Tartars, Ghurkhars, and other
strange types of the human race in Asia, each wearing his native
dress and bringing upon caravans of camels and elephants the
handiwork of his neighbors. The great merchants of London, Paris,
Vienna, New York and Chicago have buyers there picking up curious
articles of native handiwork as well as staples like shawls from
Cashmere and rugs and carpets from Amritsar. The finest carpets
in India are produced at Amristar, and between 4,000 and 5,000
people are engaged in their manufacture. These operators are not
collected in factories as with us, but work in their own homes.
The looms are usually set up in the doorways, through which the
only light can enter the houses, and as you pass up and down the
streets you see women and men, even children, at work at the looms,
for every member of the family takes a turn. As in China, Japan
and other oriental countries, arts and industries are hereditary.
Children always follow the trades of their parents, and all work
is done in the households. The weavers of Amritsar to-day are
making carpets and shawls upon the same looms that were used
by their great-grand fathers--yes, their progenitors ten and
twenty generations back--and are weaving the same patterns, and
it is to be regretted that modern chemical dyes made in Paris, the
United States and Germany are taking the place of the primitive
native methods which produced richer and permanent colors.

The trade is handled by middlemen, who furnish materials to the
weavers and pay them so much for their labor upon each piece.
The average earnings seem to us ridiculously small. An entire
family does not receive more than $3 or $4 a month while engaged
in producing shawls that are sold in London and Paris for hundreds
of pounds and rugs that bring hundreds of dollars, but it costs
them little to live; their wants are few, they have never known any
better circumstances and are perfectly contented. The middleman,
who is usually a Persian Jew, makes the big profit.

Winter is not a good time for visiting northern India. The weather
is too cold and stormy. The roads are frequently obstructed by
snow, and the hotels are not built to keep people up to American
temperature. We could not go to Cashmere at all, although it is
one of the most interesting provinces of the empire, because
the roads were blocked and blizzards were lurking about. There
is almost universal misapprehension about the weather in India.
It is certainly a winter country; it is almost impossible for
unacclimated people to live in most of the provinces between
March and November, and no one can visit some of them without
discomfort from the heat at any season of the year. At the same
time Cashmere and the Punjab province are comfortable no later
than October and no earlier than May, for, although the sun is
bright and warm, the nights are intensely cold, and the extremes
are trying to strangers who are not accustomed to them. You will
often hear people who have traveled all over the world say that
they never suffered so much from the cold as in India, and it
is safe to believe them. The same degree of cold seems colder
there than elsewhere, because the mercury falls so rapidly after
the sun goes down. However, India is so vast, and the climate
and the elevations are so varied, that you can spend the entire
year there without discomfort if you migrate with the birds and
follow the barometer. There are plenty of places to see and to
stay in the summer as well as in the winter.

We arrived in Bombay on the 12th of December, which was at least
a month too late. It would have been better for us to have come
the middle of October and gone immediately north into the Punjab
province and Cashmere, where we would have been comfortable. But
during the entire winter we were not uncomfortably warm anywhere,
and even in Bombay, which is considered one of the hottest places
in the world, and during the rainy season is almost intolerable,
we slept under blankets every night and carried sun umbrellas in
the daytime. At Jeypore, Agra, Delhi and other places the nights
were as cold as they ever are at Washington, double blankets were
necessary on our beds, and ordinary overcoats when we went out
of doors after dark. Sometimes it was colder inside the house
than outside, and in several of the hotels we had to put on our
overcoats and wrap our legs up in steamer rugs to keep from
shivering. At the same time the rays of the sun from 11 to 3
or 4 in the afternoon were intensely hot, and often seriously
affect persons not acclimated. If we ever go to India again we
will arrange to arrive in October and do the northern provinces
before the cold weather sets in.

It's a pity we could not go to Cashmere, because everybody told
us it is such an interesting place and so different from other
parts of India and the rest of the world. It is a land of romance,
poetry and strange pictures. Lalla Rookh and other fascinating
houris, with large brown eyes, pearly teeth, raven tresses and ruby
lips, have lived there; it is the home of the Cashmere bouquet,
and the Vale of Cashmere is an enchanted land. Average Americans
know mighty little about these strange countries, and it takes
time to realize that they actually exist; but we find our fellow
citizens everywhere we go. They outnumber the tourists from all
other nations combined.

I notice that the official reports of the Indian government give
the name as "Kashmir," and, like every other place over here,
it is spelled a dozen different ways, but I shall stick to the
old-fashioned spelling. It you want to know something about it,
Cashmere has an area of 81,000 square miles, a population of
2,905,578 by the census of 1901, and is governed by a maharaja
with the advice of a British "resident," who is the medium of
communication between the viceroy and the local officials. The
maharaja is allowed to do about as he pleases as long as he behaves
himself, and is said to be a fairly good man.

The people are peaceful and prosperous; politics is very quiet;
taxes are low; there is no debt, and a surplus of more than
$3,000,000 in the treasury, which is an unusual state of affairs
for a native Indian province. The exports have increased from
$1,990,000 in 1892 to $4,465,000 in 1902, and the imports from
$2,190,000 in 1892 to $4,120,000 in 1902. The country has its
own coinage and is on a gold basis. The manufacturing industries
are rapidly developing, although the lack of demand for Cashmere
shawls has been a severe blow to local weavers, who, however,
have turned their attention to carpets and rugs instead. Wool
is the great staple, and from time immemorial the weavers of
Cashmere have turned out the finest woolen fabrics in the world.
They have suffered much from the competition of machine-made
goods during the last half-century or more, and have been growing
careless because they cannot get the prices that used to be paid
for the finest products. In ancient times the making of woolen
garments was considered just as much of an art in Cashmere as
painting or sculpture in France and Germany, porcelain work in
China or cloisonne work in Japan, and no matter how long a weaver
was engaged upon a garment, he was sure to find somebody with
sufficient taste and money to buy it. But nowadays, like everybody
else who is chasing the nimble shilling, the Cashmere weavers are
more solicitous about their profits than about their patterns
and the fine quality of their goods. The lapse of the shawl trade
has caused the government to encourage the introduction of the
silk industry. A British expert has been engaged as director of
sericulture, seedlings of the mulberry tree are furnished to
villagers and farmers free of cost, and all cocoons are purchased
by the state at good prices. The government has silk factories
employing between 6,000 and 7,000 persons under the instruction
of French and Swiss weavers.



Famine is chronic in India. It has occurred at intervals for
centuries past, as long as records have been kept, as long as
man remembers, and undoubtedly will recur for centuries to come,
although the authorities who are responsible for the well-being
of the empire are gradually organizing to counteract forces of
nature which they cannot control, by increasing the food supply
and providing means for its distribution. But there must be hunger
and starvation in India so long as the population remains as dense
as it is. The reason is not because the earth refuses to support
so many people. There is yet a vast area of fertile land untilled,
and the fields already cultivated would furnish food enough for
a larger population when normal conditions prevail, although
there's but a bare half acre per capita. There is always enough
somewhere in India for everybody even in times of sorest distress,
but it is not distributed equally, and those who are short have
no money to buy and bring from those who have a surplus. The
export of grain and other products from India continues regularly
in the lean as well as the fat years, but the country is so large,
the distances so great, the facilities for transportation so
inadequate, that one province may be exporting food to Europe
because it has to spare, while another province may be receiving
ships loaded with charity from America because its crops have
failed and its people are hungry.

The health and happiness of three hundred million human souls in
India and also of their cattle, their oxen, their sheep, their
donkeys, their camels and their elephants are dependent upon
certain natural phenomena over which neither rajah nor maharaja,
nor viceroy, nor emperor, nor council of state has control, and
before which even the great Mogul on his bejeweled throne stood
powerless. It is possible to ameliorate the consequences, but
it is not possible to prevent them.

Whether the crops shall be fat or lean, whether the people and
the cattle shall be fed or hungry, depends upon the "monsoons,"
as they are called, alternating currents of wind, which bring
rain in its season. All animal and vegetable life is dependent
upon them. In the early summer the broad plains are heated by
the sun to a temperature higher than that of the water of the
great seas which surround them. In parts of northern India, around
Delhi and Agra, the temperature in May and June is higher than
in any other part of the empire, and is exceeded in few other
parts of the world. This phenomenon remains unexplained. The
elevation is about 2,100 feet above the sea; the atmosphere is
dry and the soil is sandy. But for some reason the rays of the
sun are intensely hot and are fatal to those who are exposed
to them without sufficient protection. But this extreme heat
is the salvation of the country, and by its own action brings
the relief without which all animal and vegetable life would
perish. It draws from the ocean a current of wind laden with
moisture which blows steadily for two months toward the northwest
and causes what is called the rainy season. That wind is called
the southwest monsoon. The quantity of rain that falls depends
upon the configuration of the land. Any cause which cools the
winds from the sea and leads to the condensation of the vapor
they carry--any obstacle which blocks their course--causes
precipitation. Through all the northern part of India there is a
heavy rainfall during April, May and June, the earth is refreshed
and quantities of water are drained into reservoirs called "tanks,"
from which the fields are irrigated later in the summer.

The quantity of rainfall diminishes as the winds blow over the
foothills and the mountains, and the enormous heights of the
Himalayas prevent them from passing their snow-clad peaks and
ridges. Hence the tablelands of Thibet, which lie beyond, are
the dryest and the most arid region in the world.

As the sun travels south after midsummer the temperature falls,
the vast dry tract of the Asiatic continent becomes colder, the
barometric pressure over the land increases, and the winds begin
to blow from the northeast, which are called the northeast monsoon,
and cause a second rainy season from October to December. These
winds, or monsoons, enable the farmers of India to grow two crops,
and they are entirely dependent upon their regular appearance.

Over 80 per cent of the population are engaged in farming. They
live from hand to mouth. They have no reserve whatever. If the
monsoon fails nothing will grow, and they have no money to import
food for themselves and their cattle from more fortunate sections.
Hence they are helpless. As a rule the monsoons are very reliable,
but every few years they fail, and a famine results. The government
has a meteorological department, with observers stationed at
several points in Africa and Arabia and in the islands of the
sea, to record and report the actions of nature. Thus it has been
able of late years to anticipate the fat and the lean harvests. It
is possible to predict almost precisely several months in advance
whether there will be a failure of crops, and a permanent famine
commission has been organized to prepare measures of relief before
they are needed. In other words, Lord Curzon and his official
associates are reducing famine relief to a system which promotes
economy as well as efficiency.

It is an interesting fact that the monsoon currents which cross
the Indian Ocean from South Africa continue on their course through
Australia after visiting India, and recent famines in the latter
country have coincided with the droughts which caused much injury
to stock in the former. Thus it has been demonstrated that both
countries depend upon the same conditions for their rainfall,
except that human beings suffer in India while only sheep die
of hunger in the Australian colonies.

The worst famine ever known in India occurred in 1770, when Governor
General Warren Hastings reported that one-third of the inhabitants
of Bengal perished from hunger--ten millions out of thirty millions.
The streets of Calcutta and other towns were actually blocked
up with the bodies of the dead, which were thrown out of doors
and windows because there was no means or opportunity to bury
them. The empire has been stricken almost as hard during the
last ten years. The development of civilization seems to make
a little difference, for the famine of 1900-1901 was perhaps
second in severity to that of 1770. This, however, was largely
due to the fact that the population had not had time to recover
from the famine of 1896-97, which was almost as severe, although
everything possible was done to relieve distress and prevent
the spread of plagues and pestilence that are the natural and
unavoidable consequences of insufficient nourishment.

No precautions that sanitary science can suggest have been omitted,
yet the weekly reports now show an average of twenty thousand
deaths from the bubonic plague alone. The officials explain that
that isn't so high a rate as inexperienced people infer, considering
that the population is nearly three hundred millions, and they
declare it miraculous that it is not larger, because the Hindu
portion of the population is packed so densely into insanitary
dwellings, because only a small portion of the natives have
sufficient nourishment to meet the demands of nature and are
constantly exposed to influences that produce and spread disease.
The death rate is always very high in India for these reasons.
But it seems very small when compared with the awful mortality
caused by the frequent famines. The mind almost refuses to accept
the figures that are presented; it does not seem possible in the
present age, with all our methods for alleviating suffering,
that millions of people can actually die of hunger in a land
of railroads and steamships and other facilities for the
transportation of food. It seems beyond comprehension, yet the
official returns justify the acceptance of the maximum figures

The loss of human life from starvation in British India alone
during the famine of 1900-1901 is estimated at 1,236,855, and
this is declared to be the minimum. In a country of the area
of India, inhabited by a superstitious, secretive and ignorant
population, it is impossible to compel the natives to report
accidents and deaths, particularly among the Brahmins, who burn
instead of bury their dead. Those who know best assert that at
least 15 per cent of the deaths are not reported in times of
famines and epidemics. And the enormous estimate I have given
does not include any of the native states, which have one-third
of the area and one-fourth of the population of the empire. In
some of them sanitary regulations are observed, and statistics
are accurately reported. In others no attempt is made to keep
a registry of deaths, and there are no means of ascertaining
the mortality, particularly in times of excitement. In these
little principalities the peasants have, comparatively speaking,
no medical attendance; they are dependent upon ignorant fakirs
and sorcerers, and they die off like flies, without even leaving
a record of their disappearance. Therefore the only way of
ascertaining the mortality of those sections is to make deductions
from the returns of the census, which is taken with more or less
accuracy every ten years.

[Illustration: AN EKKA OR ROAD CART]

The census of 1901 tells a terrible tale of human suffering and
death during the previous decade, which was marked by two famines
and several epidemics of cholera, smallpox and other contagious
diseases. Taking the whole of India together, the returns show
that during the ten years from 1892 to 1901, inclusive, there
was an increase of less than 6,000,000 instead of the normal
increase of 19,000,000, which was to be expected, judging by
the records of the previous decades of the country. More than
10,000,000 people disappeared in the native states alone without
leaving a trace behind them.

The official report of the home secretary shows that Baroda State
lost 460,000, or 19.23 per cent of its population.

The Rajputana states lost 2,175,000, or 18.1 per cent of their

The central states lost 1,817,000, or 17.5 per cent.

Bombay Province lost 1,168,000, or 14.5 per cent.

The central provinces lost 939,000, or 8.71 per cent.

These are the provinces that suffered most from the famine, and
therefore show the largest decrease in population.

The famine of 1900-01 affected an area of more than four hundred
thousand square miles and a population exceeding sixty millions,
of whom twenty-five millions belong in the provinces of British
India and thirty-five millions to the native states.

"Within this area," Lord Curzon says, "the famine conditions
for the greater part of a year were intense. Outside it they
extended with a gradually dwindling radius over wide districts
which suffered much from loss of crops and cattle, if not from
actual scarcity. In a greater or less degree in 1900-01 nearly
one-fourth of the entire population of the Indian continent came
within the range of relief operations.

"It is difficult to express in figures with any close degree
of accuracy the loss occasioned by so widespread and severe a
visitation. But it may be roughly put in this way: The annual
agricultural product of India averages in value between two and
three hundred thousand pounds sterling. On a very cautious estimate
the production in 1899-1900 must have been at least one-quarter
if not one-third below the average. At normal prices this loss
was at least fifty million pounds sterling, or, in round numbers,
two hundred and fifty million dollars in American money. But,
in reality, the loss fell on a portion only of the continent,
and ranged from total failure of crops in certain sections to
a loss of 20 and 30 per cent of the normal crops in districts
which are not reckoned as falling within the famine tract. If to
this be added the value of several millions of cattle and other
live stock, some conception may be formed of the destruction
of property which that great drought occasioned. There have been
many great droughts in India, but there have been no others of
which such figures could have been predicated as these.

"But the most notable feature of the famine of 1900-01 was the
liberality of the public and the government. It has no parallel in
the history of the world. For weeks more than six million persons
were dependent upon the charity of the government. In 1897 the
high water mark of relief was reached in the second fortnight
of May, when there were nearly four million persons receiving
relief in British India. Taking the affected population as forty
millions, the ratio of relief was 10 per cent. In one district of
Madras and in two districts of the northwestern provinces the ratio
for some months was about 30 per cent, but these were exceptional
cases. In the most distressed districts of the central provinces
16 per cent was regarded in 1896-7 as a very high standard of
relief. Now take the figures of 1900-01. For some weeks upward
of four and a half million persons were receiving food from the
government in British India, and, reckoned on a population of
twenty-five millions, the ratio was 18 per cent, as compared
with 10 per cent of the population in 1897. In many districts
it exceeded 20 per cent. In several it exceeded 30 per cent.
In two districts it exceeded 40 per cent, and in the district
of Merwara, where famine had been present for two years, 75 per
cent of the population were dependent upon the government for
food. Nothing I could say can intensify the simple eloquence
of these figures.

"The first thing to be done was to relieve the immediate distress,
to feed the hungry, to rescue those who were dying of starvation.
The next step was to furnish employment at living wages for those
who were penniless until we could help them to get upon their
feet again, and finally to devise means and methods to meet such
emergencies in the future, because famines are the fate of India
and must continue to recur under existing conditions.

"I should like to tell you of the courage, endurance and the
devotion of the men who distributed the relief, many of whom
died at their posts of duty as bravely and as uncomplainingly
as they might have died upon the field of battle. The world will
never know the extent and the number of sacrifices made by British
and native officials. The government alone expended $32,000,000
for food, while the amount disbursed by the native states, by
religious and private charities, was very large. The contributions
from abroad were about $3,000,000, and the government loaned the
farmers more than $20,000,000 to buy seed and cattle and put
in new crops.

"So far as the official figures are concerned, the total cost
of the famine of 1900 was as follows:


Direct relief $31,950,000
Loss of revenue 16,200,000
Loans to farmers and native states 21,300,000


Relief expenditure and loss of revenue 22,500,000
Total $91,950,000

"Some part of these loans and advances will eventually be repaid.
But it is not a new thing for the government of India to relieve
its people in times of distress. The frequent famines have been
an enormous drain upon the resources of the empire."

The following table shows the expenditures for famine relief
by the imperial government of India during the last twenty-one

Five years, 1881-86 $25,573,885
Five years, 1886-91 11,449,190
Five years, 1891-96 21,631,900
1896-1897 8,550,705
1897-1898 19,053,575
1898-1899 5,000,000
1899-1900 10,642,235
1900-1901 20,829,335
1901-1902 5,000,000
Total (twenty-one years) $127,730,825

Among the principal items chargeable to famine relief, direct and
indirect, are the wages paid dependent persons employed during
famines in the construction of railways and irrigation works,
which, during the last twenty-one years, have been as follows:

Direct Construction
famine Construction of irrigation
relief. of railways. works.
Five years, '81-'86 $379,760 $9,113,165 $3,739,790
1886-1891 277,030 666,665 1,384,570
1891-1896 411,065 12,056,505 921,675
1896-1897 6,931,750 156,100
1897-1898 17,752,025 125,055
1898-1899 133,515 2,301,175 38,900
1899-1900 10,375,590 119,650
1900-1901 20,626,150 155,570
1901-1902 2,645,905 353,465
----------- ----------- ----------
Total (21 years) $59,531,790 $24,137,610 $6,994,775

The chief remedies which the government has been endeavoring to
apply are:

1. To extend the cultivated area by building irrigation works and
scattering the people over territory that is not now occupied.

2. To construct railways and other transportation facilities
for the distribution of food. This work has been pushed with
great energy, and during the last ten years the railway mileage
has been increased nearly 50 per cent to a total of more than
26,000 miles. About 2,000 miles are now under construction and
approaching completion, and fresh projects will be taken up and
pushed so that food may be distributed throughout the empire as
rapidly as possible in time of emergency. Railway construction
has also been one of the chief methods of relief. During the
recent famine, and that of 1897, millions of coolies, who could
find no other employment, were engaged at living wages upon various
public works. This was considered better than giving them direct
relief, which was avoided as far as possible so that they should
not acquire the habit of depending upon charity. And as a part
of the permanent famine relief system for future emergencies,
the board of public works has laid out a scheme of roads and
the department of agriculture a system of irrigation upon which
the unemployed labor can be mobilized at short notice, and funds
have been set apart for the payment of their wages. This is one
of the most comprehensive schemes of charity ever conceived, and
must commend to every mind the wisdom, foresight and benevolence
of the Indian government, which, with the experience with a dozen
famines, has found that its greatest difficulty has been to relieve
the distressed and feed the hungry without making permanent paupers
of them. Every feature of famine relief nowadays involves the
employment of the needy and rejects the free distribution of

3. The government is doing everything possible to encourage the
diversification of labor, to draw people from the farms and employ
them in other industries. This requires a great deal of time,
because it depends upon private enterprise, but during the last
ten years there has been a notable increase in the number of
mechanical industries and the number of people employed by them,
which it is believed will continue because of the profits that
have been realized by investors.

4. The government is also making special efforts to develop the
dormant resources of the empire. There has been a notable increase
in mining, lumbering, fishing, and other outside industries which
have not received the attention they deserved by the people of
India; and, finally,

5. The influence of the government has also been exerted so far
as could be to the encouragement of habits of thrift among the
people by the establishment of postal savings banks and other
inducements for wage-earners to save their money. Ninety per
cent of the population of India lives from hand to mouth and
depends for sustenance upon the crops raised upon little patches
of ground which in America would be too insignificant for
consideration. There is very seldom a surplus. The ordinary Hindu
never gets ahead, and, therefore, when his little crop fails he
is helpless.

[Illustration: A TEAM OF "CRITTERS"]

The munificence of Mr. Henry Phipps of New York has enabled the
government of India to provide one of the preventives of famine
by educating the people in agricultural science. A college, an
experimental farm and research laboratory have been established
on the government estate of Pusa, in southern Bengal, a tract
of 1,280 acres, which has been used since 1874 as a breeding
ranch, a tobacco experimental farm and a model dairy. No country
has needed such an institution more than India, where 80 per
cent of the population are engaged in agricultural pursuits,
and most of them with primitive implements and methods. But the
conservatism and the illiteracy, the prejudices and the ignorance
of the natives make it exceedingly difficult to introduce
innovations, and it is the conviction of those best qualified
to speak that the only way of improving the condition of the
farmer classes is to begin at the top and work down by the force
of example. During a recent visit to India this became apparent
to Mr. Phipps, who is eminently a practical man, and has been
in the habit of dealing with industrial questions all of his
life. He was brought up in the Carnegie iron mills, became a
superintendent, a manager and a partner, and, when the company
went into the great trust, retired from active participation in
its management with an immense fortune. He has built a beautiful
house in New York, has leased an estate in Scotland, where his
ancestors came from, and has been spending a vacation, earned
by forty years of hard labor, in traveling about the world. His
visit to India brought him into a friendly acquaintance with Lord
Curzon, in whom he found a congenial spirit, and doubtless the
viceroy received from the practical common sense of Mr. Phipps many
suggestions that will be valuable to him in the administration
of the government, and in the solution of the frequent problems
that perplex him. Mr. Phipps, on the other hand, had his sympathy
and interest excited in the industrial conditions of India, and
particularly in the famine phenomena. He therefore placed at the
disposal of Lord Curzon the sum of $100,000, to which he has
since added $50,000, to be devoted to whatever object of public
utility in the direction of scientific research the viceroy might
consider most useful and expedient. In accepting this generous
offer it appeared to His Excellency that no more practical or
useful object could be found to which to devote the gift, nor
one more entirely in harmony with the wishes of the donor, than
the establishment of a laboratory for agricultural research, and
Mr. Phipps has expressed his warm approval of the decision.

It is proposed to place the college upon a higher grade than
has ever been reached by any agricultural school in India, not
only to provide for a reform of the agricultural methods of the
country, but also to serve as a model for and to raise the standard
of the provincial schools, because at none of them are there
arrangements for a complete or competent agricultural education.
It is proposed to have a course of five years for the training
of teachers for other institutions and the specialists needed in
the various branches of science connected with the agricultural
department, who are now imported from Europe. The necessity for
such an education, Lord Curzon says, is constantly becoming more
and more imperative. The higher officials of the government have
long realized that there should be some institution in India
where they can train the men they require, if their scheme of
agricultural reformation is ever to be placed upon a practical
basis and made an actual success. For those who wish to qualify
for professorships or for research work, or for official positions
requiring special scientific attainments, it is believed that
a five years' course is none too long. But for young men who
desire only to train themselves for the management of their own
estates or the estates of others, a three years' course will be
provided, with practical work upon the farm and in the stable.

The government has solved successfully several of the irrigation
problems now under investigation by the Agricultural Department
and the Geological Survey of the United States. The most successful
public works of that nature are in the northern part of the empire.
The facilities for irrigation in India are quite as varied as in the
United States, the topography being similar and equally diverse.
In the north the water supply comes from the melting snows of the
Himalayas; in the east and west from the great river systems
of the Ganges and the Indus, while in the central and southern
portions the farmers are dependent upon tanks or reservoirs into
which the rainfall is drained and kept in store until needed.
In several sections the rainfall is so abundant as to afford
a supply of water for the tanks which surpluses in constancy
and volume that from any of the rivers. In Bombay and Madras
provinces almost all of the irrigation systems are dependent
upon this method. In the river provinces are many canals which
act as distributaries during the spring overflow, carry the water
a long distance and distribute it over a large area during the
periods of inundation. In several places the usefulness of these
canals has been increased by the construction of reservoirs which
receive and hold the floods upon the plan proposed for some of
our arid states.

In India the water supply is almost entirely controlled by the
government. There are some private enterprises, but most of them
are for the purpose of reaching land owned by the projectors.
A few companies sell water to the adjacent farmers on the same
plan as that prevailing in California, Colorado and other of
our states. But the government of India has demonstrated the
wisdom of national ownership and control, and derives a large
and regular revenue therefrom. In the classification adopted by
the department of public works the undertakings are designated
as "major" and "minor" classes. The "major" class includes all
extensive works which have been built by government money, and
are maintained under government supervision. Some of them, classed
as "famine protective works," were constructed with relief funds
during seasons of famine in order to furnish work and wages to
the unemployed, and at the same time provide a certain supply
of water for sections of the country exposed to drought. The
"minor" works are of less extent, and have been constructed from
time to time to assist private enterprise.

The financial history of the public irrigation works of India
will be particularly interesting to the people of the United
States because our government is just entering upon a similar
policy, the following statement is brought down to December 31,

Cost of construction $125,005,705
Receipts from water rates (1902) 7,797,890
Receipts from land taxes (1902) 4,066,985
Total revenue from all sources (1902) 11,864,875
Working expenses (1902) 3,509,600
Net revenue (1902) 8,355,275
Interest on capital invested 4,720,615
Net revenue, deducting interest 3,634,660
Profit on capital invested, per cent 6.97

Net profit to the government, per cent 3.04

In addition to this revenue from the "major" irrigation works
belonging to the government, the net receipts from "minor" works
during the year 1902 amounted to $864,360 in American money.

In other words, the government of India has invested about
$125,000,000 in reservoirs, canals, dams and ditches for the
purpose of securing regular crops for the farmers of that empire
who are exposed to drought, and not only has accomplished that
purpose, but, after deducting 3-1/2 per cent as interest upon
the amount named, enjoys a net profit of more than $3,500,000
after the payment of running expenses and repairs. These profits
are regularly expended in the extension of irrigation works.

In the Sinde province, which is the extreme western section of
India, adjoining the colony of Beluchistan on the Arabian Sea,
there are about 12,500,000 acres of land fit for cultivation. Of
this a little more than 9,000,000 acres are under cultivation,
irrigated with water from the Indus River, and the government
system reaches 3,077,466 acres. Up to December 31, 1902, it had
expended $8,830,000 in construction and repairs, and during that
year received a net revenue of 8.5 per cent upon that amount
over and above interest and running expenses.

In Madras 6,884,554 acres have peen irrigated by the government
works at a cost of $24,975,000. In 1902 they paid an average
net revenue of 9.5 per cent upon the investment, and the value
of the crops grown upon the irrigated land was $36,663,000.

In the united provinces of Agra and Oudh in northern India the
supply of water from the Himalayas is distributed through 12,919
miles of canals belonging to the government, constructed at a
cost of $28,625,000, which irrigates 2,741,460 acres. In 1902
the value of the crops harvested upon this land was $28,336,005,
and the government received a net return of 6.15 per cent upon
the investment. The revenue varies in different parts of the
provinces. One system known as the Eastern Jumna Canal, near
Lucknow, paid 23 per cent upon its cost in water rents during
that year. In other parts of the province, where the construction
was much more expensive, the receipts fell as low as 2.12 per

In the Punjab province, the extreme northwestern corner of India,
adjoining Afghanistan on the west and Cashmere on the east, where
the water supply comes from the melting snows of the Himalayas,
the government receives a net profit of 10.83 per cent, and the
value of the crop in the single year of 1902 was one and one-fourth
times the total amount invested in the works to date.

This does not include a vast undertaking known as the Chenab
Canal, which has recently been completed, and now supplies more
than 2,000,000 acres with water. Its possibilities include 5,527,000
acres. As a combination of business and benevolence and as an
exhibition of administrative energy and wisdom, it is remarkable,
and is of especial interest to the people of the United States
because the conditions are similar to those existing in our own
arid states and territories.

If you will take a map of India and run your eye up to the
northwestern corner you will see a large bald spot just south of
the frontier through which runs the river Chenab (or Chenaub)--the
name of the stream is spelt a dozen different ways, like every
other geographical name in India. This river, which is a roaring
torrent during the rainy season and as dry as a bone for six
months in the year, resembles several of out western rivers,
particularly the North Platte, and runs through an immense tract
of arid desert similar to those found in our mountain states.
This desert is known as the Rechna Doab, and until recently was
waste government land, a barren, lifeless tract upon which nothing
but snakes and lizards could exist, although the soil is heavily
charged with chemicals of the most nutritious character for plants,
and when watered yields enormous crops of wheat and other cereals.
Fifteen years ago it was absolutely uninhabited. To-day it is
the home of about 800,000 happy and prosperous people, working
more than 200,000 farms, in tracts of from five to fifty acres.
The average population of the territory disclosed at the census
of 1901 was 212 per square mile, and it is expected that the
extension of the water supply and natural development will largely
increase this average.

The colony has been in operation fat a little more than eleven
years. The colonists were drawn chiefly from the more densely
populated districts of the Punjab province, and were attracted
by a series of remarkable harvests, which were sold at exorbitant
prices during the famine years. The land was given away by the
government to actual settlers upon a plan similar to that of
our homestead act, the settlers being given a guarantee of a
certain amount of water per acre to a fixed price. The demand
caused by the popularity of the colony has already exhausted
the entire area watered by the canals, but an extension and
enlargement of the system will bring more land gradually under
cultivation, the estimates of the engineers contemplating an
addition of 2,000,000 acres within the next few years.

The value of the crop produced in 1902 upon 1,830,525 acres of
irrigated land in this colony was $16,845,000, irrigated by canals
that cost $8,628,380, and the government enjoyed a net profit of
14.01 per cent that year upon its benevolent enterprise. Aside
from the money value of the scheme, there is another very important
consideration. More than half of the canals and ditches were
constructed by "famine labor"--that is, by men and women (for
women do manual labor in india the same as men) who were unable
to obtain other employment and would have died of starvation
but for the intervention of the government. Instead of being
supplied with food at relief stations, these starving people
were shipped to the Rechan Doab besert and put to work at minimum

You will agree with me that the government has a right to feel
proud of its new colony, and its success has stimulated interest
in similar enterprises in other parts of the empire. It has not
only furnished employment to thousands of starving people, but
by bringing under cultivation a large tract of barren land with a
positive certainty of regular harvests it has practically insured
that section of the country against future famines.

The following figures will show the rapid development of the colony
from the first season of 1892-93 to the end of the season 1901,
which is the latest date for which statistics can be obtained:


1892-93 L721,233 1897-98 L1,512,916
1893-94 878,034 1898-99 1,616,676
1894-95 995,932 1899-1900 1,677,982
1895-96 1,174,781 1900-01 1,725,676
1896-97 1,362,075


1892-93 157,197 1897-98 810,000
1893-94 270,405 1898-99 957,705
1894-95 269,357 1899-1900 1,353,223
1895-96 369,935 1900-01 1,830,525
1896-97 520,279


1892-93 L4,084 1897-98 L111,041
1893-94 3,552 1898-99 131,566
1894-95 9,511 1899-1900 155,302
1895-96 51,632 1900-01 421,812
1896-97 92,629


1892-93 0.57 1897-98 7.34
1893-94 0.40 1898-99 8.14
1894-95 0.96 1899-1900 9.26
1895-96 4.40 1900-01 14.01
1896-97 6.75

The system of allotment of land may be interesting. As the area
under irrigation was entirely open and unoccupied, few difficulties
were met with, and the engineers were perfectly free in plotting
the land. The entire area was divided into squares of 1,000 feet
boundary on each side, and these squares were each divided into
twenty-five fields which measure about one acre and are the unit
of calculation in sales and in measuring water. Sixty squares,
or 1,500 fields, compose a village, and between the villages,
surrounding them on all four sides, are canals. Between the squares
are ditches, and between the fields are smaller ditches, so that the
water can be measured and the allowance made without difficulty.
The government sells no smaller piece than a field of twenty-five
acres, but purchasers can buy in partnership and afterwards subdivide

Each village is under the charge of a superintendent, or resident
engineer, who is responsible to a superior engineer, who has
charge of a number of villages. Each field is numbered upon a
map, and a record is kept of the area cultivated, the character
of the crops sown, the dates or irrigation and the amount of water
allowed. Before harvest a new measurement is taken and a bill is
given to the cultivator showing the amount of his assessment,
which is collected when his crop is harvested. As there has never
been a crop failure, this is a simple process, and in addition
to the water rate a land tax of 42 cents an acre is collected
at the same time and paid into the treasury to the credit of
the revenue department, while the water rates are credited to
the canal department.

The chief engineer fixes the volume of water to be furnished to
each village and the period for which it is to remain flowing.
The local superintendent regulates the amount allowed each
cultivator, according to the crops he has planted. There are
six rates, regulated by the crops, for some need more water than
others, as follows:

Class. Crops. Rate per acre.
1--Sugarcane $2.50
2--Rice 2.10
3--Orchards, gardens, tobacco, indigo,
vegetables and melons 1.66
4--Cotton, oil seeds, Indian corn and all cold
weather crops, except grain and lentils 1.66
5--All crops other than specified above .83
6--Single water to plow, not followed by a crop .40

As I have shown you from the figures above, this enterprise has
proved highly profitable to the government, and its management
is entitled to the highest compliments.

The main canal was originally forty miles long, averaging 109
feet wide, with an average slope of one foot to the mile, and
capable of carrying seven feet four inches of water, or 10,000
cubic feet, per second. Twenty-eight miles have since been enlarged
to a width of 250 feet and the remaining twelve miles to a width
of 150 feet. The canal has been deepened to nine feet six inches,
and the intention is to deepen it one foot more. The banks of the
main canal are twenty-five feet wide at the top and are built
entirely of earth. A railway ninety-six miles long of three-foot
gauge has been constructed down the main canal, which is a great
convenience in shipping crops and pays a profit to the government.
It was constructed by the canal engineers while the ditch was
being dug. There are 390 miles of branch canals from thirty to
fifty feet wide and from six to eight feet deep, and 2,095 miles
of distributaries, or ditches running between villages and squares.
The banks of the branches and ditches are all wide enough for
highways, and thus enable the people to go from village to village
and get their crops to market. Several towns of considerable size
have already grown up; the largest, called Lyallpur, having about
10,000 inhabitants. It is the headquarters of the canal and also
of the civil authorities; and scattered through the irrigated
country are about 100 permanent houses used as residences and
offices by the superintendents and engineers.



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. Peshawur is the jumping-off place
of the Northwest, the limit of British authority, the terminus of
the railway system of India and the great gateway between that
empire and Central Asia, through which everything must pass.
It is to the interior of Asia what the Straits of Gibraltar are
to the Mediterranean Sea, and the Dardanelles to the Black and
Caspian seas. While there are 300 paths over the mountains in
other directions, and it might be possible to cross them with
an army, it has never been attempted and would involve dangers,
expense and delays which no nation would undertake. The Khyber
Pass has been the great and only route for ages whether for war or
commerce. The masters of Central Asia, whether Persians, Greeks,
Macedonians or Assyrians, have held it. Alexander the Great crossed
it with his army. Timour the Tartar, whom we know better as
Tamerlane, came through upon his all-conquering expedition when
he subdued India to found the Mogul Empire, and if the Russians
ever enter India by land they will come this way.

The pass is reached by crossing a stony plain ten miles from
Peshawur, and winds through gorges and crevices in the mountains
for thirty-three miles at an altitude averaging 7,000 feet above
the sea. At one point the mountains close in to about 500 feet
apart and the rocks rise in sheer precipices on either side; in
other places the gorge widens to a mile or more and will average
perhaps three-quarters of a mile the entire distance. It is a
remarkable gateway, a natural barrier between hereditary enemies
and easily defended from either side. Kabul, the capital of
Afghanistan, is 180 miles from the western entrance to the defile.

The British fortifications are at Jamrud, nine miles from Peshawur,
and the terminus of the railways, where a strong garrison is
always kept. The pass itself is controlled by a powerful
semi-independent native tribe called the Afridis, estimated at
20,000 strong, who receive subsidies from the British government
and from the Ameer of Afghanistan to keep them good-natured on
the pretext that they are to do police work and keep order in the
pass. It is blackmail and bribery, but accomplishes its purpose,
and the pass itself, with a strip of highlands and foothills
on the Afghanistan side, is thus occupied by a neutral party,
which prevents friction between the nations on either side of
the border. The Afridis are fearless fighters, half-civilized,
half-savage, and almost entirely supported by the subsidies they
receive. Nearly all of the able-bodied men are under arms. A
few, who are too old or too young to fight, remain at home and
look after the cattle and the scraggy gardens upon the gravelly
hillsides. The women are as hardy and as enduring as the men
and are taught to handle the rifle. The British authorities are
confident of the loyalty of the Afridis and believe that the
present arrangement would be absolutely safe in time of war as
it is in time of peace--that they would permit no armed body,
whether Russians or Afghans, to cross the pass without the consent
of both sides, as is provided by treaty stipulations.

The arrangement is as effective as it is novel and the Afridis
carry out every detail conscientiously. The pass is open only two
days in the week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. No one is permitted
to cross or even enter it from either side except on those days.
And even then travelers, tourists and others actuated by curiosity
are not allowed to go through without permits. The caravans going
both ways are required to camp under well-formed regulations
at either entrance until daylight of Tuesday or Friday, when
they are escorted through by armed bodies of Afridis horsemen.
There is not the slightest danger of any sort to anyone, but it
is just as well to go through the ceremony, for it keeps the
Afridis out of mischief and reminds them continually of their
great responsibilities. These caravans are interesting. They
are composed of long strings of loaded camels, ox-carts, mules
and donkeys, vehicles of all descriptions and thousands of people
traveling on foot, who come sometimes from as far west as the
Ural Mountains and the banks of the Volga River. They come from
Persia, from all parts of Siberia and from the semi-barbarous
tribes who inhabit that mysterious region in central Asia, known
as the "Roof of the World."

The camel drivers and the traders are fierce-looking men and
extremely dirty. They have traveled a long way and over roads
that are very dusty, and water is scarce the entire distance.
They look as if they had never washed their faces or cut their
hair, and their shaggy, greasy, black locks hang down upon their
shoulders beneath enormous turbans. Each wears the costume of
his own country, but they are so ragged, grimy and filthy that
the romance of it is lost. The Afghans are in the majority. They
are stalwart, big-bearded men, with large features, long noses
and cunning eyes, and claim that their ancestors were one of the
lost tribes of Israel. Their traditions, customs, physiognomy and
dialects support this theory. Although they are Mohammedans, they
practice several ancient Jewish rites. The American missionaries
who have schools and churches among them are continually running
up against customs and traditions which remind them forcibly of
the Mosaic teachings. They have considerable literature, poetry,
history, biography, philosophy and ecclesiastical works, and some
of their priests have large libraries of native books, which, the
missionaries say, are full of suggestions of the Old Testament.

One of the most successful missionaries in that part of the world
was an apostate Polish Jew named Rev. Isidore Lowenthal, a remarkable
linguist and a man of profound learning. He translated the Bible
and several other religious books into Pashto, the language of
the Afghans, and was convinced that he shared with them the same
ancestry. A story that is invariably related to travelers up
in that country refers to his untimely taking off, for he was
accidentally shot by one of his household attendants, and his
epitaph, after giving the usual statistical information, reads:

He was shot accidentally by his chookidar.
Well done, thou good and faithful servant.
I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Afghanistan question, is, so to speak, in statu quo. The
ameer is friendly to the British, but asserts his independence
with a great deal of firmness and vigor, and is an ever-present
source of anxiety. He receives a subsidy of $600,000 from the
British government, which is practically a bribe to induce him
not to make friends with Russia, and yet there are continual
reports concerning Russian intrigues in that direction. He declines
to receive an English envoy and will not permit any Englishmen
to reside at his court. The Indian government is represented
at Kabul by a highly educated and able native Indian, who is
called a diplomatic agent, and has diplomatic powers. He reports
to and receives instructions from Lord Curzon directly, and is
the only medium of communication between the ameer and the British
government. The present ameer has been on the throne only since
the death of his father, the ameer Abdur Rahman, in October,
1901, and for several months there was considerable anxiety as
to what policy the young man, Habi Bullah Khan, would adopt.
During the last three years of the old man's life he yielded
his power very largely to his son, and selected him twenty wives
from the twenty most influential families in the kingdom in order
to strengthen his throne. Although Habi Bullah is not so able or
determined as his father, he has held his position without an
insurrection or a protest, and is no longer in danger of being
overthrown by one of the bloody conspiracies which have interlarded
Afghanistan history for the last two centuries.

The British were fortunate in having a viceroy at that critical
period who was personally acquainted with the young ameer and a
friend of his father. When Lord Curzon was a correspondent of
the London Times, before he entered parliament, he visited Cabul
and formed pleasant relations with the late ameer, who speaks
of him in most complimentary terms in his recently published
memoirs. The old man happened to die during the darkest period of
the South African war, and Russia took occasion at that critical
moment to demand the right to enter into independent diplomatic
negotiations with Afghanistan for the survey of a railroad across
that country. Only a few years before, Great Britain fought a war
with Afghanistan and overthrew Shere Ali, the shah, because he
received a Russian ambassador on a similar errand, after having
refused to allow a British envoy to reside at his court or even
enter his country. And there is no telling what might have happened
had not Lord Curzon taken advantage of his personal relations and
former friendship. Russia selected a significant date to make
her demands. It was only a fortnight after the British repulse
at Spion Kop, and Ladysmith was in a hopeless state of siege.
Such situations have a powerful influence upon semi-civilized
soldiers, who are invariably inclined to be friendly to those
who are successful at arms. However, Lord Curzon had influence
enough to hold the ameer to the British side, and the latter
has ever since shown a friendly disposition to the British and
has given the Russians no public encouragement.

The official report of the viceroy to the secretary of state for
India in London, covering the ten years ending Dec. 31, 1902,
contains the following interesting paragraph concerning the greatest
source of anxiety:

"Relations with Afghanistan have been peaceful throughout the
decade. Although there is reason to believe that Afghan influence
among the turbulent tribes on the northwestern frontier was at
times the cause of restlessness and disorder, the Durand agreement
of 1893, followed by the demarcation of the southern and nearly
all the eastern Afghan boundary, set a definite limit to the
legitimate interference of Afghanistan with the tribes included
in the British sphere of influence. Under that agreement the annual
subsidy paid by the British government to the ameer was increased
from L80,000 to L120,000. A further demarcation, which affected
alike Afghanistan and the British sphere, was that which resulted
from the Pamir agreement concluded with Russia in 1895. Russia
agreed to accept the River Oxus as her southern boundary as far
east as the Victoria Lake. Thence to the Chinese frontier a line
was fixed by a demarcation commission. This arrangement involved
an interchange of territories lying on the north and south bank
of the Oxus respectively between Afghanistan and Bokhara, which
was carried out in 1896. The Ameer of Afghanistan also undertook
to conduct the administration of Wakkhan, lying between the new
boundary and the Hindu Kush, in return for an increase of his

"Under the strong rule of the late ameer the country for the
most part enjoyed internal peace, but this was broken by the
revolt of the Hazaras in 1892, which was severely suppressed.
In 1895-96 Kafiristan, a region which the delimitation included
in the Afghan sphere of influence, was subjugated. Political
relations of the government of India with the late and with the
present ameer have been friendly, and were undisturbed by the
murder of the British agent at Kabul by one of his servants in
1895, an incident which had no political significance. In the
year 1894-95 His Highness sent his second son, Shahzada Nasrulla
Khan, to visit England as the guest of Her Majesty's government.
The Ameer Abdur Rahman, G. C. B., died in October, 1901, and
was peacefully succeeded by his eldest son, Habi Bullah Khan,
G. C. M.G."

There is no doubt as to what Lord Curzon knows and believes
concerning the aggressive policy of Russia in Asia, because,
shortly before he was appointed viceroy of India, he wrote an
article on that subject for a London magazine, which is still
what editors call "live matter."

"The supreme interest," he said, "ties in the physical fact that
it (the northwestern frontier) is the only side upon which India
has been or ever can be invaded by land, and in the political
fact that it confronts a series of territories inhabited by wild
and turbulent, by independent or semi-independent tribes, behind
whom looms the grim figure of Russia, daily advancing into clearer
outline from the opposite or northwest quarter. It is to protect the
Indian Empire, its peoples, its trades, its laboriously established
government and its accumulated wealth from the insecurity and
possible danger arising from a further Russian advance across the
intervening space that the frontier which I am about to describe
has been traced and fortified. Politicians of all parties have
agreed that, while the territorial aggrandizement of Russia is
permissible over regions where she replaces barbarism even by
a crude civilization, there can be no excuse for allowing her
to take up a position in territories acknowledging our sway,
where she can directly menace British interests in India, or
indirectly impose an excessive strain upon the resources and the
armed strength of our eastern dominions. The guardianship of the
frontier is, therefore, an act of defense, not of defiance, and is
an elementary and essential obligation of imperial statesmanship.

"Originally it was supposed that there were but three or four
passes or cracks by which this mountain barrier was perforated,
and that if British soldiers only stood sentinel at their exits
an invader would have no other alternative but to come down and
be annihilated. Modern surveys, however, have shown that the
number of available passes is nearer 300 than three, a discovery
which has suggested the policy of establishing friendly relations
with the tribes who hold them, and thus acquiring an indirect
control over their western mouths. For just as the main physical
feature of the frontier is this mountain wall, with its narrow
lateral slits, so the main political feature is the existence
in the tracts of country thus characterized of a succession of
wild and warlike tribes, owing allegiance to no foreign potentate,
but cherishing an immemorial love for freedom and their native

Although the idea of consolidating these border tribes into a
single province, with an administrator and staff of officers
of its own directly under the control of the viceroy, was first
suggested by the late Lord Lytton, it has been the good fortune
of Lord Curzon to carry it into effect, and it is considered one
of the wisest and most notable events of his administration of
Indian affairs. The new community, which is called the Northwest
Frontier Province, was organized in February, 1901, and takes in
the wide stretch of territory, which is described by its name.
It is directly governed by an agent of the governor general and a
chief commissioner, who allow the widest liberty and jurisdiction
to the local chiefs consistent with peace and good government. The
new system has been working since 1902, and while it is yet too
early to calculate the results, the improvement already noticed in
the condition of affairs, peace, industry, morals, the increase
of trade and the development of natural resources justifies the
expectation that the semi-barbarous tribes will soon yield to
the influences of civilization and settle down into industrious,
law-abiding and useful citizens. At least their organization and
discipline under the command of tactful and discreet English
officers gives to India a frontier guard composed of 30,000 or
40,000 fearless fighters, who will be kept on the skirmish line
and will prove invaluable through their knowledge of the country
and the mountain trails in case of a border war. The military
position of England has thus been strengthened immensely, and
when the railways now being constructed in that direction are
completed, so that regular British and native troops may be hurried
to the support of the wild and warlike tribes whenever it is
necessary, a constant cause of anxiety will be removed and the
north-western frontier will be thoroughly protected.

The problems connected with the aggressive policy of Russia on
the Indian frontier are very serious from every point of view
to every Englishman, and whenever the time comes, if it ever
does come, the frontier will be defended with all the power of
the British Empire. The aggressiveness of Russia has been felt
throughout India much more than anyone can realize who has not
lived there and come in contact with affairs. It has been like a
dark cloud continually threatening the horizon; it has disturbed
the finances of the country; it has entered into the consideration
of every public improvement, and has, directly or indirectly,
influenced the expenditure of every dollar, the organization of
the army, the construction of fortifications and the maintenance
of a fleet. The policy of Lord Curzon is to bring all the various
frontier tribes, which aggregate perhaps 2,000,000, under the
influence of British authority. To make them friends; to convince
them that loyalty is to their advantage; to organize them so
that they shall be a source of strength and not of weakness or

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest