Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/80

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and apricots, the latter especially, are found in great abundance. The kernels of this fruit form the principal fare of many of the neighbouring inhabitants, in addition to a kind of spinach, and the coarser descriptions of grain.


There can be no doubt that the occupation of the Himalaya by the British, and the gradual introduction of a more scientific method of cultivating the native products of the country, together with the development of its numerous resources, will tend greatly to improve the condition of the native inhabitants. Their poverty is wholly the effect of ignorance, for though there are a great many natural disadvantages, against which the husbandman must contend, yet a superior degree of skill, and a better acquaintance with the principles of agriculture, would speedily counterbalance these drawbacks, and render the soil quite equal to the support of a much larger population, while its exports might be very materially increased. The mountaineers, or Puharies, as these hill-people are called, though perhaps not equal in mental capacity to the inhabitants of the plains, exhibit no want of intelligence, and may be easily made to comprehend the means of procuring additional comforts; but there is one quality essentially necessary to render them agreeable to their British visitants, which is unteachable—and that is, cleanliness.

It is extraordinary how very small a portion of the human race seem to comprehend the blessing of that cheap luxury attainable by all, and how difficult it is to make people who have indulged in dirt and slatternliness, to comprehend the offensive nature of their habits, and to induce them to adopt a better system. Example appears to have no effect; the old Scottish saying, "the clartier the cosier," if once established, remains an incontrovertible dictum, notwithstanding its obvious fallacy, since nothing can be more conducive to warmth, as well as to health, than the cleansing of the pores, and the exchange of dirty garments for clean ones.

Every march throughout the Himalaya affords some proof of the inveterate nature of the preference manifested for dirt, and all its odious concomitants; and while admiring the picturesque appearance of the villages, the ingenuity displayed in the construction of the houses, and the convenient arrangement of some of the interiors, we were deterred from any thing approaching to close contact, either to men or dwellings, by the vermin and bad smells which invariably accompanied both.

The number of houses composing the village of Naree is small, and the primitive hamlets of the hill -districts do not usually exceed twenty-five or thirty, the families being in the same proportion; the advantages of division of labour not yet being understood, all the mechanical arts belonging to one trade, are carried on by the same individual, who transmits his occupation to his descendants. The greater number of the mountaineers call themselves Rajpoots, but they are unable to shew any legitimate claim to the title, so degenerate a race seldom springing from warlike ancestry. From whatever circumstance it may be caused, they do not exhibit the intrepidity, hardihood, and enterprise which usually characterize the people who inhabit alpine regions; but their timidity and apathy are not so offensive as their total want of sentiment. Notwithstanding the absence of refinement of feeling in the Hindoo character generally, the people of the plains manifest a high sense of honour: their marriages may be contracted without respect to that mutual affection which seems so requisite for the security of domestic happiness; but they regard female chastity as an essential, and, if not so easily roused to jealousy as the Mohammedans, will not brook dishonour, and will sacrifice