Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/210

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


178 General Remarks on the Coast of Arraean. an abundance of vegetables, at Gheduba and Ramtee, at the rate of three halfpence the pound: at Kyouk Phyoo, it was the same price; but the cantonment having been so recently formed, it was by no means so' good, nor were vegetables easily to be pro- cured, though we got a few of the best oranges I have tasted in India, and I was told they were abundant at the latter part of the year. Though, in many respects, the people are far from being civi- lized, in bthers they surpass the most polished nations. There is rarely a person to be met with who cannot read and write; and records are kept on the p. alm-leaf, beautifully lacquered in japan or red, generally on a grit ground, with dark letters. Their com- mon accounts are written with a chalk pencil, resembling talc. on folds of paper made from the bark of a tree, and then covered with lamp-black, or a smooth board, besmeared with the same sub- stance. They have thirty-six characters in their alphabet, written from left to right; and they hold their pen or p?_ ncil as we do, the lines being as fine, and the characters as beautifully formed, as if made with a pen and ink. Their priests appear entirely occupied in the education of the children, and in every village there are two or three. Their schools are equally open to all; and the only remuneration appears to be a sufficient quantity of food, and the erection of a house which answers as a residence, temple, and school-room; with generally a small pagoda, having a number of poles and pendants hanging from it, much after the manner represented on the common china- ware. Indeed, all their habits, as well as their persons and dress, resemble those of the western part of China. Celibacy is observed by the priests, who universally shave their heads,. and wear a dirty yellow cotton dress; and before any boy can be prepared for admission as a priest, he must publicly declare his own and his parents' free consent. 'Should he afterwards, however, at any time of his life, repent of his resolution, it is not thought disgraceful for him to say so, and he may return to the common walks of life, and take a wife as soon as he pleases. The only foreigners now in Arracan are the servants of the East India Company, who, both civil and military, spoke of the priests (or pondis, as they are termed) as being an unpresuming, well-disposed set of men, never interfering with the concerns of others, unless applied to as arbi- trators, when they exercise their judgment with impartiality. The ' Mughs,' in their manners, are perfectly free from the servile hypocrisy of their western neighbours, and equally unlike them as to probitymtheir words being generally to be taken; and, in deal- ing with you, they ask the price which they consider the article worth, and no more; though it is to be feared the intercoarse which they are likely to have with the natives of Bengal will soon Dig,tiz?d by Google