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Full text of "The tribes on my frontier; an Indian naturalist's foreign policy"

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LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF 
CALIFORNIA 
SAN DIEGO 




V; - V 



THE TRIBES ON 
MY FRONTIER. AN 

INDIAN NATURALIST'S 
FOREIGN POLICY. SIXTH 
EDITION. 



BY E. H. AITKEN (E H A^ 

AUTHOR OF "A NATURALIST ON THK 
PROWL," " BEHIND THE BUNGALOW " 



ILLUSTRATED BY 
F. C. MACRAE 



LONDON: W. THACKER & CO. 
2, CREED LANE, E.C 
CALCUTTA AND SIMLA: 
TRACKER, SPINK & CO. 1904. 

\All rights reserved,] 



PREFACE 



THESE papers were written during the 
Afghan War, and made the dtbut in 
the Times of India. They come on the stage 
again in answer to what vanity fancied was 
an encore. Perhaps it was the voice of the 
Scotchman crying, " Ong-core ! Ong-core ! 
We'll hae nae mair o' that." 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

A DURBAR i 

THE RATS 

THE MOSQUITO 

THE LIZARDS 

THE ANTS 

THE CROWS . . . . . . . . 

THE BATS . ' 

BEES, WASPS, ET HOC GENUS OMNE . . 

THE SPIDERS 

THE BUTTERFLY : HUNTING HIM 

THE BUTTERFLY: CONTEMPLATING HIM .... 

THE FROGS 

THE BUGS 

THE BIRDS OF THE GARDEN 

THE BIRDS AT THE MANGO TOPE . .... 

THE BIRDS AT THE TANK 

THE POULTRY- YARD 

THE WHITE ANTS 

THE HYPODERMATIKOSYRINGOPHOROI .... 
ETCETERA . 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

NATIVES SHIKARRING DUCKS .... Frontispiece 

DEFIANCE 13 

AN ANXIOUS MOMENT 19 

A DETACHMENT 39 

THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE ...... 42 

AMONGST THE PHILISTINES. 60 

FAMILY AFFECTION 71 

SPORT SECOND TO NONE 97 

FOR LIFE 123 

OUTWITTED 141 

THE MANGO TOPE 151 

ROAST KULLUM LOOMING 161 

THE SERGEANT 177 

LIBERTY .......... 209 



FRONTISPIECE. NATIVES SHIKAKRING DUCKS. The wild ducks, familiar with 
floating gourds, are unsuspicious of the natives, who wade towards them covered by a 
chattee. or earthenware vessel, very like a gourd, and draw them under water by the legs. 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER, 



A DORBAR, 




IS June in Dusty- 
pore. Fancy a 
scorching wind 
that seems to gather 
the heat together, and 
rub it into your cheeks and 
eyes, clouds of dust that nearly 
hide the landscape I had almost 
said, through force of habit, but I 
mean that wide expanse of negativeness 
into which the sun is striking his almost 
visible rays till the air distinctly quivers and 
trembles under them ; no ice, no resource except "thinking 
on the frosty Caucasus," or sitting behind those rheumatic 



THE TRIBES ON MY FROSTIER. 



and agueferous devices, tatties and thermantidotes. Bom- 
bay people do not know what heat is. The only thing to 
be complained of at this time in Bombay is a certain ten- 
dency to liquefaction. Chemically speaking, one gets deli- 
quescent about the end of May. The melting mood is 
strongest during the morning walk ; at the end of it there 
is little left of one but a pool of water. But abjure walk- 
ing, court the sea-breeze, or sit under punkahs, and the 
climate of Bombay is balmy. These are the signs by which 
any one may know hot weather. When you take a change 
of raiment from the drawer and it feels like fresh-baked 
bread, when you put on your coat and it settles like a 
blister on your back, when returning to dinner from the 
evening constitutional you feel as you step through the 
doorway that you are entering a limekiln, then the weather 
is getting hot. In such weather every Oriental whose hard 
fate has not made him a punkah-puller religiously enjoys 
his midday nap, and so about noon a quiet as of a Scotch 
Sabbath comes over the land. 

Just at that time when all is stillest and sleepiest, I hold 
a levee, for a house is like the shadow of a great rock in a 
weary land, and to its blessed shelter, as the sun grows 
fiercer and fiercer, all the neighbourhood " foregathers." 



A DURBAR. 



The choicest place, of course, is that moist spot at the back 
of the house, under the pomegranate-trees, where the bath- 
water runs out into the ground. The fowls have taken pos- 
session of that, and are fitting themselves into little hollows 
scraped in the cool damp earth. The next best place is the 
broad verandah, with the elephant-creeper oppressing the 
trellis. Here long before noon the birds begin to come to- 
gether. Up among the rafters first I generally detect a 
social lark* sitting solitary and speechless ; then down 
among the roots of the creeper, hopping idly about, turning 
over a dead leaf here and there, and talking to one another 
in querulous falsettos, come a dozen dingy-brown " rat- 
birds,"t feeble folk, which keep in flocks, because they have 
not back-bone enough to do anything singly. They are just 
miniatures of the " Seven Brothers," only there are no dif- 
ferences of opinion among them. A little later on, two or 
three well-breakfasted mynas drop in and assume comfort- 
abledigestiveattitudes. The myna is the most proper of birds, 
respectable as Littimer himself. In his sober, snuff-brown 
suit and yellow beak, he is neither foppish nor slovenly, and 

* Calandrella brachydactyla. 
f The striated bush-babbler ( Chatlarrhaa caudata)^ 



THE TRIBES ON M\ FRONTIER. 



his behaviour is stamped with self-respect and good breeding. 
Nevertheless, he is eaten up with self-admiration, and, when 
he thinks nobody is looking, behaves like a fool, attitudiniz- 
ing and conversing with himself like Malvolio. But in public 
he is decorum itself. He sets his face, too, like a flint, against 
every form of vice, and is the abhorrence of the mungoose, 
the wild cat, and all the criminal classes. 

On one of the beams of the roof is a meek turtle-dove 
that coos patiently, so that his spouse may hear him as she 
sits upon her two white eggs in (of all places for a nest!) the 
prickly pear hedge. Their nest, consisting of three short 
twigs and a long one, was first built on one of the rafters, 
but it was dissipated by that painted iniquity, the squirrel, 
out and out the most shameless ruffian that haunts the 
house. See him lying flat on his belly upon the stone step, 
crunching a crust of bread, stolen of course. This is tiffin. 
For breakfast he had a dozen or two of the tender shoots 
of the convolvulus which I have been pruning and watering 
to make it grow. And his conscience does not trouble 
him ! He should die the death if I could make up my 
mind what manner of death would best befit his crimes. 
Of all my guests there is not one more dainty, or more mo- 
dest (with so much to be vain of), than the. hoopoe, which 



A DURBAR. 



sits unostentatiously in a corner, with even its gorgeous 
crest folded decently down. Every minute or two it trots 
out to one of those cup-shaped little hollows in the dust, 
where the ant-lion lies in wait. Once a poor ant slips over 
the treacherous edge of that crater, it has as much chance 
of coming out again as Empedocles from Etna. It may 
struggle to keep its footing on the slippery bank, but the 
unseen n.onster below jerks up showers of sand, and soon 




sand and ant go rolling down together, where the out- 
stretched grey jaws lie waiting in the dust. The hoopoe 
knows exactly what is there, pokes its long beak down into 
the funnel, fumbles about for a moment, and pulls out 
the slayer of ants, to be swallowed like a pill. 

Along with the birds a pretty green lizard used to come 
every forenoon, shikarring ants and other insects, but it 
was breakfasted on yesterday by that sinister-looking 
butcher-bird which now stands on the floor of the verandah, 
with legs straddled, like Apollyon in the Valley of Humilia- 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER, 



tion, and mouth agape, gasping from the heat. With his 
pale grey mantle, snow-white breast, and black "points," 
the butcher-bird would be handsome, but for his villainous 
eyebrows and generally assassinous aspect. Nothing living 
comes amiss to him, from the sparrow, if he can surprise it, 
down to the large fussy black ant, which comes hurrying 
along, to catch the train or something, with its tail cocked 
over its head, till it is suddenly arrested and introduced into 
that atram ingluviem where a dozen of its fellow-citizens 
have gone before it. Cr ernes aux fourmis must be as 
good as the Frenchman thought it. Now, wherever this 
bird comes, comes also a smaller bird, with the same 
white breast, the same shaggy black eyebrows, and the 
same brigand look, and it stands close by and shrieks and 
hisses and heaps opprobrious epithets on the other. This 
is a cousin of the bird it vilifies. Lanius is the surname of 
both ; the Christian name of the big one is Lahtora, and of 
the other Hardwickii. (It was named after one General 
Hardwicke, poor man ! but he did nothing wrong.) And 
as the little one hisses out its impotent rage, it cocks the 
stump of a tail which was once long and flowing as that 
which adorns the objects of its wrath. Short as the stump 
is, thereby hangs a tale, and I happen to know it 



A ,DURBAR. 



One Sunday morning, not long ago, Hardwickii was busy 
murdering some small creature at the foot of a tree, when 
Lahtora spied him, and came gliding gently down, and, 
before he was aware of any danger, he was knocked over 
on his back, with those sharp claws imbedded in his snowy 
breast, and that murderous beak hammering his head. 
He hit back most 
pluckily, and shrieked 
piteously. Arcades 
atnbo, thought I, and 
declined to interfere. 
Still, my appearance 
on the scene created 
a diversion in the 
little butcher's favour, 
and with a desperate 
struggle he freed him- 
self and was off, but, like Tarn o' Shanter's mare, with- 
out his tail. Hinc ilia lachrimce ! At the sight of his 
oppressor the bitter memory of that morning comes upon 
him, and, as he glances back at the place where the tail 
should be, he can no longer contain his feelings. The 
" poor dumb animals " can give each other a bit of their 




THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



minds, like their betters, and to me their fierce or tender 
little passions, their loves and hates, their envies and 
jealousies, and their small vanities, beget a sense of fellow- 
feeling which makes their presence society. 

The touch o'f Nature which makes the whole world kin 
is infirmity. A man without a weakness is insupportable 
company, and so is a man who does not feel the heat. 
There is a large grey ring-dove that sits in the blazing sun 
all through the hottest hours of the day, and says coo-coo, 
coo, coo-coo t coo, until the melancholy, sweet monotony of 
that sound is as thoroughly mixed up in the cells of my 
brain with 110 in the shade as physic in my infantile 
memories with the peppermint lozenges which used to 
"put away the taste." But as for those creatures which 
confess the heat, and come into the house and gasp, I feel 
drawn to them. I should like to offer them cooling drinks. 
Not that all my midday guests are equally welcome : I 
could dispense, for instance, with the grey-ringed bee which 
has just reconnoitred my ear for the third time, and guesses 
it is a key-hole she is away just now, but only, I fancy, for 
clay to stop it up with. There are others also to which I 
would give their congt if they would take it. But good, 
bad, or indifferent, they give us their company whether we 



A DURBAR. 

want it or not ; and from any point of view it is strange 
that Europeans in India know so little, see so little, care so 
little about all the intense life that surrounds them. The 
boy who was the most ardent of bug-hunters, or the most 
enthusiastic of bird-nesters, in England, where one shilling 
will buy nearly all that is known, or can be known, about 
birds or butterflies, maintains in this country, aided by 
Messrs. B. and S., an unequal strife with the insupportable- 
ness of an #ff#/-smttten life. Why, if he would stir up for 
one day the embers of the old flame, he could not quench 
it again with such a prairie of fuel around him. I am not 
speaking of Bombay people, with their clubs and gym- 
khanas and other devices for oiling the wheels of existence, 
but of the dreary up-country exile, whose life is a blank, a 
moral Sahara, a catechism of the Nihilist creed. What 
such a one needs is a hobby. Every hobby is good, a sign 
of good and an influence for good. Any hobby will draw 
out the mind ; but the one I plead for touches the soul too, 
keeps the milk of human kindness from souring, puts a 
gentle poetry into the prosiest life. That all my own finer 
feelings have not long since withered up in this land of 
separation from " the old familiar faces," I attribute partly 
to a pair of rabbits. All rabbits are idiotic things, but these 



10 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



come in and sit up meekly and beg a crust of bread, and 
even a perennial fare of village moorgee cannot induce me 
to issue the order for their execution and conversion into 
pie. But, if such considerations cannot lead, the struggle 
for existence should drive a man in this country to learn 
the ways of his border tribes. For no one, I take it, who 
reflects for an instant, will deny that a small mosquito, with 
black rings upon a light ground, or a sparrow that has 
finally made up its mind to rear a family in your ceiling, 
exercises an influence on your personal happiness far beyond 
the Czar of all the Russias. It is not a question of scientific 
frontiers the enemy invades us on all sides. We are plun- 
dered, insulted, phlebotomized under our own vine and our 
own fig-tree. We might make head against the foe if we 
laid to heart the lesson our national history in India teaches, 
namely, that the way to fight uncivilized enemies is to en- 
courage them to cut one another's throats, and then step in 
and inherit the spoil. But we murder our friends, extermi- 
nate our allies, and then groan under the oppression of the 
enemy. I might illustrate this by the case of the meek and 
much-suffering musk-rat, by spiders, or ants ; but these 
must wait till another day. 



THE RATS 



July. 




DUST gives place to mud, 
and scorching winds to 
cool damp breezes, and the 
ground begins to blush with 
green, and giant frogs come 
out of their graves in the 
ground, bleached to a fine 
brimstone yellow, and celebrate 
their obscene saturnalia in the 
flooded fields, when the paddy-bird stalks solemn among 
the puddles, and the crow, expelled with opprobrium from 
the verandah, sits on the dripping bough, with a dank 
" droukit " look, each feather of its bedraggled tail leading 

an independent, schismatical existence, then the tribes that 

22 



12 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



infest our borders discover man's use in the scheme of the 
universe. He builds houses to shelter them from the rain. 
And the first to make this discovery are the rats. In dry 
weather most of these gentry live out of doors, but the first 
heavy, steady, soaking rain is the signal for a general in- 
vasion. First of all in the evening, after dinner, I spy one 
perched in the Venetian blinds of the window, and it spies 
me ; so my machinations against its life come to naught. 
The same night as I lie awake, dreamily anathematizing a 
mosquito, while the measured music of the frogs 

" Beats time to nothing in my head," 

noises from the dressing-table invade my ear. First there 
is a mysterious scraping sound, which old experience tells 
me is the candle being chewed ; next the eau-de-Cologne 
bottle and Kemp's Equatorial Hair Douche are upset ; and 
now the pincushion is being vigorously disembowelled. 
This ceases, and presently I am conscious that something 
is scrambling energetically up the mosquito curtains. I 
launch out wildly, and a heavy body falls to the ground with 
a flop. Within half a minute a fierce rasping noise comes 
from the foot of the door; for doors are intended to facilitate 
passage from one room to another, and the construction of 



THE RATS. 15 

most doors is faulty from a rat's point of view. I hiss and 
clap my hands, and there is a moment's pause : I know the 
brute is looking at me over the point of its insolent nose. 
Then again it falls to, in the name of the Prophet, rasp, rasp, 
rasp. A well-aimed slipper will stop proceedings for five 
minutes or more, but I have only two slippers. This night 
must be endured. Next night a trap is set, and, instead of 
the criminal for whom it was intended, it catches a gentle- 
looking white-breasted rat, with large soft eyes, and tender 
pink feet. For there are rats and rats, and a man of average 
capacity may as well hope to distinguish scientifically be- 
tween Ghilzais, KukI Kheyls, Logar Maliks, Spigwals, 
Ghazis, Jezailchis, Hazaras, Logaris, Wardaks, Mandozais, 
Lepel Griffin, and Kizilbashes as to master the divisions of 
the great race of rats. Nature has been prodigal of them. 
India alone produces at least seventeen kind?, besides fifteen 
varieties of mice. There is the black rat, the brown rat, the 
field-rat, the tree-rat, the bandicoot, and so on, to the lovely 
fawn-coloured Jerboa rat, with its satin-white breast and 
tufted tail, which wrought such ruin to the crops two years 
ago. Two of these, Mies rattus, the black rat, and Mus 
decumanus (from dtcumanus, a tax collector), the brown rat, 
have attached themselves to man, and how to detach them 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



is a question which all the ingenuity the world has produced, 
from Archimedes to Mr. Edison, has left unanswered. The 
black rat was indeed got rid of in England by the introduc- 
tion of a greater nuisance, the brown rat ; but there is no 
greater nuisance left now, so that road is shut. The black 
rat was the aboriginal race in Britain, and tradition says 
that the same ship which brought us the Prince of Orange 
brought also the first brown rat. From that day the natives 
disappeared, as the red Indian, or the Maori, disappears 
before the face of the white man. A black rat is now a 
great curiosity in England ; they have all been slaughtered 
or scattered. A good many have of course found refuge 
in such a collumes nationum as Bombay, where they haunt 
outhouses and servants' quarters. But the brown rat mean- 
while spreads before the Scotchman and the crow, and 
possesses the earth. And a monster of iniquity it is. In 
fertility of resource and energy of execution it has no rival 
when evildoing is concerned. Its appetite is most glut- 
tonous, and everything is food to it. Bread and cheeze, beef 
and mutton, the horse's grain, candles, canaries, soap, pigeons' 
eggs, fiddlestrings, the in'ards of the harmonium, all contri- 
bute to the maintenance of its nefarious carcass. And it 
will not be suppressed. Every man's hand is against it 



THE RATS. 17 

and still it prospers. It sets at defiance gins and traps, cats 
and dogs and poisonous pills. 

Now, all these are good, but in my opinion it is better to 
take the field in person against them. When I see the tail 
of a rat disappear behind a box, I quietly shut all doors 
and windows and stop up all holes, then arm myself with a 
good supple cane, and advance upon the foe. Its present 
situation is a good one. A sweeping stroke between the 
box and the wall can scarcely miss. But it does not wait. 
At the first sight of me it makes for the hole it gnawed in 
the door, and finds it stuffed with a towel ! While it is tug- 
ging like a maniac at the towel there is a chance ; but canes 
miss rats amazingly, and it is off to each window and door 
in turn. As soon as it has grasped the idea that escape is 
impossible it changes tactics. Driven with difficulty from 
one trunk, it dives under another. There is nothing for it 
now but hot pursuit ; press it hard ; rats are short-winded. 
It soon gets blown, and rests behind the box again. A 
sweeping whack with the whole length of the cane ought 
to annihilate it, but only breaks a leg, and an able-bodied 
rat can always spare a leg or two, so it is away as nimble 
as ever. But the blow has had a good moral effect. It gives 
up the Fabius Cunctator strategy, and the chase becomes 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



exciting. From box to box it scurries, with me at its heels 
raining blows on the floor and choking myself with dust. 
Then it is up the bed-post, down again, up the book-case 
and behind Webster, where it regains its wind before I can 
dislodge it, from shelf to shelf like a monkey, across to the 
almirah with one bound, and then nowhere ! I mount a 
chair and reconnoitre the top, lay my face to the ground 
and explore the bottom, peer behind, but it simply is not. 
While it was sitting behind Webster it thought on a tunnel 
which it had excavated last year through the back of the 
almirah. After much pondering I decide to open the al- 
mirah, and sure enough it bounces out of a nest of neckties, 
and, lighting on my foot, clambers like a lamplighter up 
my pantaloons, happily on the outside. An agonized spring 
which an adult kangaroo would be proud of, flings it to the 
middle of the floor, and ere it can recover itself and reach 
any shelter, I swoop like a falcon on my prey, and a dex- 
terous flick with the point of the cane rolls it over. The 
great malefactor's course is run, and the convulsive wagging 
of its tough ropy tail makes a rap, rap, rap on the ground. 

This is royal sport and satisfies many cravings of a nature 
snubbed and kept down by civilization. No doubt civiliza- 
tion is a good thing for man as a moral and intellectual 



THE RATS. 21 

being, but it is very hard on the genius of the body, the 
spirit which had its halcyon days before the pithecoid 
monkey developed into the anthropoid ape, and the anthro- 
poid ape looked higher. And the games and sports which 
we devise for our relief all fail in this, that they have no 
worthy end in view. The means is itself the end, an ar- 
rangement which is always demoralizing. A man who us:s 
dogs to worry useful jackals and harmless hares to death is 
not only doing no good, but he must be case-hardened if he 
feels no gnawings of remorse when the deed is done and 
the excitement is over. But remorse will be hungry indeed 
before it gnaws a man for taking the life of a rat. In rat- 
hunting the end is a positive virtue, and the means are 
most laudable, more humane certainly than cats and 
poisons, and infinitely more so than that instrument of 
cruelty, the abominable iron rat-trap. 

But, if it is a virtue to make war on the rat, it is none 
to confound friend and foe, and offer upon the altar of 
ignorance and prejudice another little animal which, with 
palpitating heart and tremulous nose, ventures into the 
house in these cold, wet nights. I refer, of course, to the 
musk-rat. " The unfortunate nobleman who now languishes 
in Dartmoor jail " ha. not been more ill-used and mis- 



22 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

represented than this poor creature. It is not a rat at all, 
neither Mus this nor Mus that, but Sorex coerulescens, which 
means the heavenly shrew. And, if it is not a rat in name, 
it is still less that villainous thing in nature. It wants none 
of your provisions, and wanton destruction is not in all its 
thoughts ; its sole purpose in the house is a friendly one, 
videlicet, to hunt the loathsome cockroach and the pestiferous 
beetle. It is charged with diffusing an unpleasant odour, 
and there is undoubtedly some truth in this ; it can be very 
unsavoury at times. But that is not its normal state ; it is 
the fruit of vexation of spirit. An unpersecuted musk-rat 
is most inoffensive. In short, that quality which brings the 
meek little animal into such bad odour, so to speak, is the 
defensive armour with which Nature has provided it, and 
every time you hunt a musk-rat you justify the provision. 
Lastly, one small fault may well be overlooked in view of 
the many amiable virtues that adorn its character. While 
the rat, after a night of crime, spends the c'ay in a san- 
guinary fracas with its own brothers in the ceiling, and the 
mother squirrel has to retire into the woods and bring up 
her family in secret, lest their own papa should eat them, 
the days of the heavenly shrew are passed in sweet domes- 
tic harmony. As night comes on, the pair venture out of 



THL RATS. 23 

their hole and meander along together, warbling to one 
another in gentle undertones. Or perhaps the little ones at 
home are growing up, and their mamma brings them out 
to see the world. The first-born takes hold of her tail in 
its teeth, its tail is grasped by the next, and so on to the 
little Benjamin at the end, and thus the whole family, like 
a hairy serpent, wriggles away together a sight, I admit, 
to make one's flesh creep ; but, looked at in a proper spirit, 
it is a moving spectacle, full of moral beauty ; and as for 
the callous man who can see no beauty in it and would lift 
his unfeeling stick to sever such a " family tie," I say with 
Horace, 

" Vetabo sub iisdem 
Sit trabibus, fragilemve mecum 
Sol vat phaselum." 





DO mosquitos bite ? The 
question has exercised me 
much, and it is painfully clear 
to my mind that modern 
science has made it more 
difficult to answer than it was before. Formerly it was 
thought right to believe that everything in nature had a 
definite use. To be was not end enough ; there must be a 
raison cCetre; and the reason, should, if possible, have to do 
with the welfare of man, who, as everybody knew, was the 
Lord of Creation. Holding this faith we could explain 
mosquitos in many ways. Mr. Phil Robinson is, perhaps, 
guilty of flippancy when he asserts that they were intended 
to teach man humility ; but there is much in favour of 



THE MOSQUITO. 25 



another view to which I leaned, until modern thought upset 
me, namely, that these and several other little animals, 
which ought not to be named in refined society, were 
designed to promote a healthful use of Nature's currycomb 
among a large class of people who are too much accus- 
tomed to regard water only as a means of quenching thirst. 
And, if all our explanations were proved to be wrong, it 
would only show that we have still to discover the right 
one, and we should be gainers in humility. But now Hux- 
ley has abolished teleology, and Darwin has proved to the 
satisfaction of every one who is disposed to agree with him, 
that no characteristic in any animal can be explained by 
its being beneficial to some other animal ; for only those 
peculiarities are maintained and developed which are 
advantageous in some way to the animal itself, and give 
it a pull over others in the struggle for existence. And so 
we are plunged in a mire of perplexity. For what possible 
gain can it be to a mosquito to gorge itself on my life-blood 
until its wings almost refuse to carry it, and it can just sail 
slowly, like some great crimson balloon, with the wind, 
positively inviting me to imbrue my hands in my own blood, 
and avenge the wrongs of countless nights of woe ? Insects, 
as every one knows, or ought to know, require no food in 

3 



2 6 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

their winged state at least, the flimsier kinds do not, such 
as flies, and gnats, and butterflies. They have done all the 
serious business of life, the eating and growing, in their 
grub state, and when they dress up and come out into the 
world, to enjoy a few days of vanity before they die, they 
have no proper mouths, only a sort of tube for sipping light 
refreshments. But supposing that mosquitos do require 
nourishing food, the great difficulty still remains. Why can 
they not bleed us painlessly ? Why make us pay fees in 
anguish for the operation ? It can be no advantage to them 
that we wince and jump when they sit down to dine. Who 
would thank anybody for inventing a pump which should 
tickle the earth so horribly as to bring on earthquakes when- 
ever one went for water ? The traveller who invented the 
original vampire bat understood matters better, and made the 
horrid monster fan its victim gently with its ample wings, that 
he might the more sweetly sleep on into the sleep of death. 
So, from the Darwinian standpoint, mosquitos ought to have 
developed some sweet narcotic fluid, some natural rosalpinus> 
which would produce the most exquisitely pleasurable titil- 
lations, and make the fat man hasten to resign his back, sore 
vexed with prickly heat, to their soothing ministrations, and 
his soul to sweetest dreams. I hold that Darwin, weighed 



THE MOSQUITO. 27 



in the balance against the mosquito, is found wanting. 

Another minor sub-difficulty is that mosquitos are always 
most venomous where they can scarcely ever have a chance 
of biting in pestilential swamps and jungles inhabited 
by such impenetrable pachyderms as the wild elephant and 
the rhinoceros. Among rank weeds in deserted Bombay 
gardens, too, there is a large, speckled, unmusical mosquito, 
raging and importunate and thirsty, which will give a new 
idea in pain to any one that visits its haunts. 

To come to the description and history of the animal, 
the mosquito is not the same as the buffalo, though it is 
said that a young lady who had just landed in India fled 
from a herd of those peaceful domestic antediluvians and 
asked if they were not the dreadful mosquitos of which she 
had heard such tales. The mosquito is only a little insect 
with two wings and six legs. The wings are for flying with, 
and four of the legs for walking with. The two long hind 
legs are connected with the suction apparatus and are of 
the nature of pump-handles. Of course, the anatomist, pry- 
ing with his microscope, will deny this ; but the microscope 
comes from micros, small, and scopein, to see, and no one 
who relies on it can grasp a large idea. Anybody may 
satisfy himself by watching a mosquito at work and noting 

32 



28 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



the action of the pump-handles. The suction apparatus 
looked at microscopically, contains a whole set of surgical 
instruments : looked at large-mindedly, it is simply the tube 
of an artesian well, and is used in the cam j way. When a 
mosquito settles on you it pricks up its ears for r, moment, 

g 




RAGING AND IMPORTUNATE AND THIKSTY. 

to mr.ke sure that there is no danger near, and then waiKs 
about slcwl; , probing for a soft place. When it has found 
one, it fixes the tube and begins to drive it home. Then is 
the moment to smite it. 

Mosquitos ar: of many sorts. There are common grey 
ones ; and small, speckled, sl.rill-voiced ones which sing an 
overture and then tap the outside edge of your ear ; and 



THE MOSQUITO. 29 



large droning ones, which are found, like the best mangoes 
only in Mazagon and some other parts of Bombay ; and 
queer ashy ones, which stand on their heads and bore into 
you like a bradawl. 

As to its history, all the " promise and potency " of the 
future mosquito lay at first in a minute egg floating on dirty 
water. From this came forth an execrable shape, bristling 
all over with hairs, breathing through its tail, and progress- 
ing by a series of wriggles, bringing its head and tail together 
first on one side, and then, with a jerk, on the other. So, 
by making ends meet, it twisted itself through life for a 
fortnight or more, feeding day and night on the impurities 
of the water and growing prodigiously. Then it floated for 
a while, eating nothing, but meditating a change. When at 
last internal arrangements were completed, the skin at the 
back of its head split open, and the mosquito looked out, 
snuffed the fresh air, drew itself cautiously out of its case, 
and glided gaily over the water on a boat made of its own 
skin. Then it sailed away into the air and joined the throng 

" As th'ck and numberless 
As motes that people the sunbeams, 
Or likest hovering dreams." 

Then, as dawn began to light up the eastern sky, they 
swarmed in through every open window, and took shelter 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



among the folds of hanging coats, inside boots, in the pocket 
of the dressing-gown, in the chambers of the sola topee ; 
and there they are ! And what is to be done ? 

Well, by dusting and sweeping, and burning incense and 
folding all hanging clothes, you can make them very un- 
happy ; and, for your own protection, you can make your- 
self utterly abominable to them by anointing your hands 
and face with toilet vinegar, or even eau-de-Cologne. But it 
is clear that the thing to do would be to come upon the 
sanguinary hordes in their earlier stages, and nip them in 
the bud, cut them off while they are only mosquitos in posse, 
not in esse. And this can be done, for, when a house is 
much plagued with them, it may be set down for certain 
that there is a factory on the premises. The first thing to 
do, then, is to make a tour of inspection. Go to the back of 
the kitchen and see if there is not a small cistern, or a tub 
sunk in the ground, connected by a short pipe through the 
wall with the arena of all Domingo's professional operations, 
a veritable Dead Sea, where baleful streams run in, but no- 
thing runs out. There, in the inky fluid, on which a filmy 
scum floats, whose rainbow radiance is broken only by the 
spluttering of the bills of happy ducks, you will find them 
in writhing swarms, sixteen to the superficial inch, fast 



THE MOSQUITO. 



ripening towards malefaction ; and you may spill their lives 
not by tens or hundreds, but by quarts and gallons. 

But all means of prevention are more or less disap- 
pointing, for after all it is ordained that mosquitos shall 
bite us. What is wanted, then, is 
some cure, or antidote, for the bite 
and there is only one, of which 
I am the original discoverer. A 
bigoted old Brahmin, who never 
tired of unmasking the inherent 
badness of everything English, 
once admitted to me in a moment 
of candour that in one point we 
were better than his countrymen. 
" If a Hindoo," he said, " invents 

or discovers anything, he keeps it secret and makes 
all the profit he can out of it, and when he dies, it 
dies with h^m ; but if an Englishman makes a dis- 
covery, he publishes it and the world gets the benefit." 
So I will divulge my antidote for mosquito-bites. It is 
inoculation. The idea is curiously supported by analogy, 
for Dr. E. Nicholson, in his book on snakes, speaking of the 
confidence with which Burmese snake-charmers handle the 




3 2 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



terrible OpJiicpha&us claps, says that they certainly have 
some remedy, and he believes it is simply gradual inocula- 
tion with cobra poison. Such experience as we have points 
in the same direction. The griffin gets up in the morning 
with his face like a graveyard, a monument for every bite ; 
but as his blood becomes accustomed to the poison, these 
violent effects cease. Probably the remedy has never been 
fully tried, but its success is certain. So, if any one is much 
tormented by mosquitos, all he has to do is to dispense 
with curtains and let them bite him freely for a year, or 
two or three years (I am not certain how long it will 
take), until his constitution becomes mosquito-proof, and 
then for the rest of his days he may defy the most trumpet- 
tongued and asp-envenomed of the bloodthirsty race. 




MOSQUITOS IN POSSE 



33 



THE LIZARDS, 



August. 

^**^s-^s~-*^s~^s-^s~^ 

NE peculiar feature cf life in India is 
the way we are beset by lizards, and 
nobody seems to notice it. We all 
come out to this country more or less 
prepared to find scorpions in our slippers, 
snakes twined about our hair, and white ants 
eating up the bed in one night, so that in the 
morning we are lying on the floor ; but nobody 
warns us to expect red-throated hobgoblins 
clambering about the trellis, and snaky green 
lizards prying about the verandah at noonday, 
and little geckos visiting the dinner-table at 
night. Perhaps, because they are not very pestilent enemies 
nor very useful friends, shallow-minded people do not think 




34 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



them worth notice. But a contemplative spirit feels that it 
would starve without many things which are of no ttse in 
the gross sense of the word, and there is much matter for 
chastening meditation in lizards. If the whole race of them 
could be wiped out of the earth to-day, exchange would 
neither rise nor fall, but has not the poet said, 

" M^n are we, and must grieve when even the shade 
Of that which once was great has passed away " ? 

And lizards once were great. They were the aristocracy of 
the earth. Not in the last century, nor in the Middle Ages, 
nor even when the Memnonium was in all its glory. In fact 
the whole of the "Address to a Mummy" feels like a toy 
sentiment to a mind which has been wandering away into 
the golden age of lizards. From that distance of time the 
score or two of paltry centuries that may have passed since 
the mummy dropped a halfpenny in Homer's hat make a 
point like one of the fixed stars. They do not subtend any 
angle on the retina of the imagination. What a strange 
world there must have been on this same earth of ours in 
those days ! Did mosquitos as large as sparrows, with 
voices like tin trumpets, infest the swampy wastes and 
torment the drowsy inegalosaunts, and did the winged 



THE LIZARDS. 



35 



lizards, like flying foxes, hawk them in the dusky forest ? 
Did the mild ignanodon, when it has done browsing on a 
tuft of maidenhair fern about the size, say, of a clump of 
bamboos, turn round and waddle away into a hole, as its 
successors do to-day on the plains of Guzerat ? As I see 
them hurrying to their burrows at the sight of me, and 
think that possibly when the world was young I might 
have been glad to rest from the heat of the sun under the 
shadow of one of their mountainous ancestors, my mind 
goes back to my ancient Goanese cook. He was only a 
maislry, or more vulgarly a bobberjee, yet his sonorous name 
recalled the conquest of Mexico, or the doubling of the 
Cape. The mouldy beaver in which he went to church 
seemed to know it, and clung desperately to a worn-out 
respectability. I could not pass any of those ruins of 
ancient forts or massive churches which lie around Bombay 
without feeling as if he were murmuring to himself quorum 
pars magnet fui. And the fact was that he was thinking of 
a savoury curry for my breakfast ! 

The lizards likewise are the wreck of a great past. They 
had their day ; perhaps they abused it ; at any rate the great 
unresting wheel has gone round, and that which was up is 
down. The commonalty do not seem to feel it much. 



36 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

They have parted even with pride, and make the most of 
their circumstances. But all the descendants of great fami- 
lies, the crocodiles and alligators and even iguanas, are a 
prey to melancholy. They maintain a dignified spiritless- 
ness which is affecting. Who can look on that anachronism, 
an iguana (I mean the large monitor which Europeans in 
India generally call an iguana, sometimes a guano !) basking, 
four feet long, on a sunny bank, without 



" Revolving in his altered soul 
The various turns of chance below " ? 



It may well be sad when man, upstart of yesterday, is 
watching his opportunity to catch it, that he may eat its 
flesh and make tomtoms of its skin, tomtoms which for many 
a night to come shall give birth to the din of that music 
which "hath charms to soothe the savage breast" and 
horribly to excruciate the civilized one. The iguana, or 
gorpud, has been put to other uses, too, and has a name in 
history. The old tutelary Brahmin of Singhur, if he is still 
alive, delights to show sahibs the spot where the Marathas 
tied a strong light rope round the loins of a huge gorpud, 
and waited until it had clambered up the rocky face of the 
fortress and wedged itself into some rugged fissure ; then 



THE LIZARDS. 37 



while it clung as they can cling, one sinewy mountaineer 
after another bound his waistcloth more tightly round him, 
and climbed the rope in silence, laughing in his sleeve at the 
astonishment in store for the vigilant Mussulman garrison. 
Like all races whose greatness is a memory, lizards are 
sensual, passionate, and cruel. Sensual first : a lizard lives 
to eat, and there never seems to be any time in its life when 
it is not looking out for food. And passionate next. Two 
sparrows will squabble and scuffle until they get so inex- 
tricably mixed that, when they separate, it is quite an open 
question whether they have got their own legs and wings, 
or each other's ; and two ants will fight until they die in each 
other's jaws, and a third comes up and carries off the whole 
jumble for the food of the community; but for an example 
of devouring rage go to the big garden lizard, which the 
children in India call a blood-sucker. See it standing in 
the middle of the road, its whole face and throat crimson 
with wrath and swollen to the bursting-point with pent-up 
choler, its eyebrows raised, and its odious head bobbing up 
and down in menace of vengeance. And the explanation of 
the whole matter is that another smaller lizard snapped up 
an ant on which it had set its heart. Nothing will appease 
it now but to bite off the offender's tail. This will do the 



38 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



latter no harm, for a lizard's tail is a contrivance for the 
saving of its life, planned on exactly the same principle as 
the faithful Russian slave who threw himself to the wolves 
that were pursuing his master's sledge. I once saw a fierce 
scorpion catch a lizard by the tail and plunge its sting into 
the wriggling member; but before the venom could circulate 
to the lizard's body, it detached its tail and ran away grin- 
ning. The scorpion went on killing the old tail, and the 
lizard began growing a new one. 

This was one of those little house lizards, called geckos, 
which have pellets at the ends of their toes. They are not 
repulsive brutes, like the garden lizard, and I am always on 
good terms with them. They have full liberty to make use 
of my house, for which they seem grateful, and say chuck, 
chuck, chuck. They are low-minded little plebeians, no 
doubt, and can see nothing in a satin-white moth with 
vermilion trimmings except wholesome victuals ; but one 
must put up with that, for they do good service. At this 
season, when the buzzing pestilence of beetles and bugs is 
on us, they tend towards embonpoint, but they bate nothing 
of their energy, nor seem to get near the limits of their 
capacity. They hold that the Bombay Gas Company was 
established for their accommodation, and there is scarcely 




A DETACHMENT. 



4 o THE TRIBES ON MY I-RONTJER. 

a gas lamp but has its guardian gecko, fat with moths and 
mantises, dragon-flies grasshoppers, crickets, and cock- 
roaches, even hard-shelled beetles, but not blister-beetles. 
These would irritate their little insides, for the sake of 
which alone they live. 

The only genteel member of the family is the green lizard. 
Its manners are graceful and unassuming, and its external 
appearance is always in harmony with the best taste, while 
it does not betray that ceaseless hankering for provisions 
which stamps the rest of them. It is timid and retiring, but 
as the sun grows hot in the forenoon you will hear it rust- 
ling among the leaves (virides rubum dimovere lacertce), 
then it will come softly up the steps, behind the calladium 
pots and along the wall of the verandah, and perhaps, if you 
keep very quiet, into the drawing room. It does little good, 
eats a few ants, perhaps, but it enjoys itself and does no 
harm, and I have always had a leaning towards the green 
lizard. 

I do not know whether I should class the chameleon 
among my frontier tribes, for the only one about my terri- 
tories was born near Ahmednugger and is a state prisoner 
with me like Yakoob Khan. His residence is a canary cage 
with green muslin all round it to keep in the flies which I 



THE LIZARDS, 



provide for his maintenance. Here, clutching a twig, as if 
he were the fruit that grew on it, he lives his strange life of 
motionless meditation. Till a late hour in the morning he 
sleeps, sounder than a ramoosee or choivkeydar ; nothing will 
wake him. At this time his hue is a watery greenish yellow. 
When the sun begins to warm the world, then colour slowly 
comes back to his reviving limbs, and he appears in a dark 
earthy brown. 

Through the day this is his livery, varied sometimes with 
specks of white and sometimes with streaks ; but when the 
afternoon shoots its slanting rays through the bars of his 
cage, surrounding him with chequered light and shade, then 
he catches the same thought and comes out in vivid green 
with leopard spots upon his sides. Then, when night comes 
on, the same deathlike paleness again overspreads his tor- 
pid frame. Philosopher as he is, the chameleon requires food, 
and since he is too slow to go after it, he brings it to him. 
As his ball-and-socket eyes roll this way and that way, one 
of them marks a large white butterfly walking up the bars 
of his cage, and he forms a purpose to eat it. He unwinds 
his tail, then relaxes the grasp of his broad palms one at a 
time (for he is extremely nervous about falling and breaking 
his bones), and so he advances slowly along the twigs until 

4 



THE LIZARDS. 



43 



he is within six inches of his prey. Then he stops, and there 
is a working in his swollen throat; he is gumming his tongue. 
At last he leans forward, and opens his preposterous mouth, 
and that member protrudes like a goose-quill steeped in 
white birdlime. For a moment he takes aim, and then, too 
quick for eye to follow it, the horrid instrument has darted 
forth, and returned like elastic to its place, and the gay 
butterfly is being crunched and swallowed as fast as any- 
thing can be swallowed when tongue, jaws, and throat are 
smeared with viscid slime. But this part of the process 
is inconceivably vulgar, and we may well leave the chame- 
leon to himself till it is over. 




THE DE GAMA. 



4-2 



44 



THE ANTS, 



August. 




GORY battle has been fought in 
the bath-room, and the field of 
carnage is appalling to look 
upon. For some days past, cu- 
rious, crabbed-looking, reddish- 
brown ants have been gathering 
in a lump about the mouth of a 
small hole in the floor. This 
means always that a new colony is to be founded. I have 
no objection to colonies in the abstract, but to see a teacup- 
ful of crusty little brutes heaped up on the floor not a yard 
from your tub has a tendency to make you feel uneasy, so 
I endeavoured to discourage them by dashing the " tin pot " 
full of water at them and sweeping the whole body away in 



THE ANTS. 



45 



a flood. But any one who engages in a battle of obstinacy 
with ants should practise to suffer defeat gracefully, for he 
will have to suffer it. They put me to the trouble of keeping 
up this tin-pot practice for three or four days, without letting 
me feel that I had put them to any trouble at all. Swept 
away into the jaws of destruction, they were back again in 
an hour with a few more. At length the emigrants appeared, 
great lubberly things, fully an inch and a half long, with 
wings, and not a notion of how to use them. The room was 
soon full of them, crawling over each other, or making blun- 
dering essays at aeronautics, which inevitably ended in a 
butt against the wall. This brought on a fit of brain fever, in 
which they spun on their heads like teetotums, or went sliding 
with a buzz-z-z! along the floor. Then the squirrels got scent 
of the affair and came in to munch them up, nd the lizards 
swallowed them, and the hamal swept the residue out to the 
chickens. So the colonizing scheme collapsed. To return, 
however, to my story. There is in the same room a settle- 
ment of those large black ants which come into the house 
at this season and garrison cool damp corners. They are 
truculent, hot-blooded ruffians, and will stomach no provo- 
cation, so it is little wonder that the two parties came into 
collision, especially at a time of such national excitement 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



as always attends the ceremony of seeing an emigrant party 
off. The battle began in the evening, and I was there as 
special correspondent for the Woihl. The black ants were 

few in number, but 
terrible in their 
onslaught. They 
fought singly. I 
watched in particu- 
lar one of gigantic 
build and fearful as- 
pect, as it charged 
and charged again 
through the seeth- 
ing masses of the 
enemy, leaving a 
trail of writhing or 
stiffening victims 
in its course. 

THE FIGHTING GLADIATOR. At last its OWtt 

/ate came. In a heedless moment it stumbled over 
a wounded foe, whose jaws at once closed, and closed 
for ever, on its leg. Reeling backwards, it fell into the very 
midst of three or four more, and hope of escape was 




THE ANTS. 47 

gone for ever. They threw themselves on it like demons, 
and though it rolled on its back amputating and decapitat- 
ing until limbs and heads and headless trunks strewed the 
ground, all the fury of despair was of no avail against the 
numbers that continued to heap themselves on it. At length 
its struggles grew feebler and feebler, its ponderous jaws 
opened and shut slowly, like some animate rat-trap sighing 
for rats, and its life ebbed away. The scene was Homeric, 
and I felt like breathless Jupiter watching Hector on his 
fatal day, when he felt the movings of pity, yet let fate take 
its course. This was an epitome of the whole struggle. It 
must have raged all night, but neither side got a victory. 
In the morning each was in quiet possession of its own 
ground, and the fruits of the battle were many hundred 
corpses and a moral. 

Solomon has advised us, or most of us, to go to the ant 
and consider her ways, and it is good to follow his advice. 
Her ways repay consideration. But it is of vital importance 
that we go to the right sort of ant. What a lesson, for 
instance, in malice and all uncharitableness would one learn 
who went to the red ant which infests the f0rrf*ufo-bushes 
on Matheran and Khandalla, or on the slopes of Elephanta 
Island ! Malice, hate, fury and fierceness, wrath and rancour, 



48 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

acerbity, and, in fact, every feeling which is out of harmony 
with " sweet reason," seems to have been boiled down, and 
its quintessence extracted to compose the blood which 
courses angrily through the hot veins of this creature. As 
you pant up the red-dusty path, startling the jocund hill 
bulbul, with dandy topknot and crimson whiskers, from its 
breakfast among the berries, the red ant hears you afar off 
and hurries along the outermost branch, to the very point of 
the very longest leaf, and there stands on tiptoe, dancing 
with impatience to bury its jaws in your flesh. And what a 
knowledge it has of our geography ! What an instinct for 
detecting tender places ! 

Industry is not to be learned from these. I believe they 
lead idle lives and live on the milk of their flocks and herds. 
In the month of May, when the cotrinda-bush is in fruit, 
I have often noticed with pain that the choicest berries were 
in possession of a garrison of red ants, which had enclosed 
them in a sort of chamber by drawing the surround ing leaves 
together and joining them with some spider's-web fabric 
which they spin. This is not for the sake of the fruit. They 
are not frugivorous. It is for the sake of the downy white 
aphides, or plant-lice, on the fruit. These aphides yield a 
sort of nectar, which is as delicious to an ant as camel's milk 



THE ANTS. 



49 



to an Arab. But other ants are content to milk the unre- 
sisting little cattle whenever they find them ; the red ants 
domesticate them. 

The ant to which Solomon sent sluggards was plainly the 
agricultural ant which lives in the fields. A space of ground 
round the mouth of its hole, about as wide as the hat of a 
padre whose views are just beginning to get ritualistic, is 
always cleared, like a threshing-floor, and covered thick 
with the husks and chaff of the grain stored inside. These 
holes are the gateways of great cities, and from them broad 
well-beaten roads lead away in all directions to other 
distant cities. Late and early these roads are thronged 
with crov/ds of busy ants. As I sit and watch them on a 
sunny morning, the primitive ryot stops shrieking at his 
perverse byles, and for a moment puzzles his foggy brain to 
guess what I am doing. He believes I am on the scent of 
hid treasure, but his more intelligent neighbour says I am 
simply illustrating the inscrutable ways of the sahib. 

I confess I lean towards Sir John Lubbock's view that 
ants are gifted with reason like ourselves. There is no 
objection to explaining the wonderful things they do by 
instinct, but only a new meaning will have to be invented 
for the word. The instinct which a weaver-bird shows in 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



building its wonderful nest belongs plainly to a different 
genus from the quality which enables ants to "vote, keep 
drilled armies, hold slaves, and dispute about religion," as 
Mark Twain says they do, or even to talk. They certainly 
do talk about as freely as we do. I once killed a centipede, 
and very soon a foraging ant found it. He, or rather she, 
surveyed it carefully, estimated the horse-power requisite to 
move it, and then started off homewards. Meeting another 
ant, she stopped it and said something which, for want of a 
microphone, I did not hear, and hurried on. The second 
ant made straight for the centipede and found it without any 
trouble. Now nothing can be plainer than that the first ant 
told the second where to go. *' Glorious windfall ! Dead 
leviathan about two miles from here. Keep straight on till 
you come to a three-cornered pebble, then turn to the left 
and you will come upon three grains of sand and a straw. 
Climb the straw and you will see it. It is big enough to be 
seen a mile away." Well, the second ant, when it had 
found the centipede, did not hurry home. It just sat down 
and waited till the first one returned, with a vast gang of 
labourers ; then each seized a leg of the centipede, and soon 
the stupendous mass was moving along merrily. 

But not only has each species of ant a language 3n which 



THE ANTS. 51 

it can talk to other ants of the same species, but each nest, 
or clan, has clearly its own brogue; for an ant knows at once 
whether another ant belongs to its own nest or not. The 
ants of one nest murder those of another : it is a point of 
honour with them. 

There is no mode of life that men have tried which one 
race of ants or another is not pursuing to-day. Besides 
those which are agriculturists and herdsmen, some keep 
slaves to do everything for them, some live by hunting or 
plunder, while others quarter themselves on us and subsist 
by confounding meum and tuum. These last, of course, con- 
cern us most. About Bombay there are two Mnds of them, 
one black and the other brown. They are both small, and 
most people confound them, but in nature they are antipodal. 
There is not any figure or simile which can even dimly 
shadow forth the extent of their oppositeness. Chalk and 
cheese are the same article by comparison. That ignorance 
should prevail on this point, even among persons who have 
undertaken the responsibility of housekeeping, is distressing, 
for it borders on criminality. In a healthier state of public 
opinion a young lady would not be considered " eligible ' 
who could not converse freely on the difference between the 
black and the brown ant. That difference in its essence is 



52 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

this, that the one is tolerable and the other intolerable. If 
one must go more into detail, the brown ant is thickset, 
heavy, slow and phlegmatic. It will eat, more or less, every- 
thing in the house except, perhap - kerosine oil. It will gnaw 
a cold leg of mutton, carry excavations into the heart of a 
loaf of bread, dig a tunnel through the cork of an olive-oil 
bottle, for the sake of getting drowned in the oil, and orga- 
nize a regular establishment for the work of carrying off the 
seed in the canary's cage. And, once in a thing, it cannot be 
got out. Add to this that it smells unsavoury and tastes 
nasty, and you have the brown ant. The black ant is 
slender, nimble, and sprightly. Its chief business in the 
house is to remove dead cockroaches, crickets, &c., and 
where I am there is generally a plethora of dead cock- 
roaches, crickets, &c. All day foragers scour the house 
in search of these. They do tamper with the sugar some- 
times, and, in fact, show a leaning towards sweets in 
general; but they do not spoil what they cannot eat. 
They do not stick, as a rule, in the jelly, nor drown them- 
selves in the ginger syrup. Lastly, there is a feud between 
them and the brown ants, and the two will scarcely live 
in the same house. Clearly, then, it is sound policy to 
make an ally of the black and discourage the brown. 



THE ANTS. 



53 



The latter is not an easy task, but I can recommend dropping 
kerosine oil into their holes. 

The large black ant, already mentioned, is more or less a 
house ant also. I do not like it. The way it cocks its tail 
over its head is offensive, and it has a cantankerous temper. 
Then its officiousness and consequential airs are simply 
insufferable. It is perpetually quarrelling with a straw or 
getting insulted by a feather. 

Of all the various species of these wonderful little beings 
there is not one, I think, that impresses you more than the 
hunting ant. It is, unfortunately, not a house ant. It just 
invades the house at times, does its short sharp work, and 
is gone again. In these expeditions they always march in 
column, three abreast, with rapid steps and terrible earnest- 
ness of purpose. Not one wanders or lags behind. Sugar 
entices them not ; stores have no attractions for them. 
Straight as General Roberts they make for some ancient 
trunk in whose chinks and crannies the outlawed cock- 
roach and overgrown cricket have long skulked secure 
from my avenging slipper. Now their hour is come. With 
the rapidity of perfect system a guard is stationed at each 
hole and crevice, and then the main body of ants pours 
itself into the box. Then begins a panic. The cockroach, 



54 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



wild with terror, rushes headlong to the nearest outlet, 
and is collared by the guards and stung to death almost 
before it has time to realize the situation. The frantic 
crickets break into coruscations of agility which would 
enable one who has never seen an aurora borealis to 
realize it. But all is vain. Within a quarter of an hour 
the ants are marching out as they marched in, three 
abreast, with rapid steps ; but now, with drooping limbs 
and trailing antennae, cockroach and cricket, cricket and 
cockroach, follow the long column in funeral procession. 




PANIC. 



55 



THE CROWS, 

September. 




ONCE distinguished himself by 
making a remark about Dry- 
den. He said that nothing 
ought to be written on the 
illustrious poet's tomb except 
the single word Dryden, since 
to those who knew him that 
word would convey the whole, and to those who knew him 



56 TJ1E TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



not no words could convey more. So I think I might stop 
with the title of this paper 

"THE CROWS" 

bus. What is there that can be said about them ? Have 
they not sufficiently cast a shadow on our lives, left their 
black mark on our pleasantest memories, yea, even their 
scars on our dispositions and tempers ? Yet it is impossible 
to pass them over. I can call up no vision of Indian life 
without crows. Fancy refuses to conjure up the little 
bungalow at Dustypore in a happy state of crowlessness. 
And if the mind wanders away to other times and distant 
scenes, the crow pursues it. It is sitting impudently in the 
hotel window, it is walking without leave in at the open door 
of the travellers' bungalow, it is promenading in front of the 
tent, under the mango tope. Only when in thought we go 
back to happy rambles away from the hum of men, 

" Where things that own not man's dominion dwell, 
And mortal foot hath ne'er or rarely been," 

is the horrid phantom absent On the breezy hill-top, with 
its scented grass, its ferns and wild flowers, down in ths 
solemn ravine, where the " Whistling schoolboy " tunes its 



THE CROWS. 



57 



mellow throat and the clucking spur-fowl starts away among 
the rustling leaves, or over the varied woodland playgrounds 
cf the butterfly and bulbul, you meet no crow. The air is 
too pure and the calmness too sweet. The crow is a fungus 
of city life, a corollary to man and sin. It flourishes in the 
atmosphere of great municipalities, and is not wanting in 
the odorous precincts of the obscure village innocent of all 
conservancy. 

Many of our frontier tribes have unpleasant traits of 
character, and in some the catalogue of vices is long and 
the redeeming virtues are few. But the crow differs from 
them all in that it is utterly abandoned. I have never been 
able to discover any shred of grace about a crow. And what 
aggravates this state of things is the imposture of its out- 
ward appearance. It affects to be respectable and entirely 
ignores public opinion, dresses like a gentleman, carries 
itself jauntily, and examines everything with one eye in a 
way which will certainly bring on an eye-glass in time, if 
there is a scrap of truth in the development theory. But 
for this defiance of shame one might feel disposed to make 
allowances for the unhappy influences of its life ; for, in 
truth, it would be strange if a crow developed an amiable 
character. Even a consistent career of crime must be less 

5 



5 8 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

demoralizing than the aimless vagabondage by which it 
maintains itself. It begins the day by watching the veran- 
dah where you take your chota hazree, in hope to steal the 
toast. When that hope is disappointed it wings its way to 
the bazaar, where it contends with another crow for the re- 
mains of a dead bandicoot flattened by a passing cart-wheel. 
Then, recollecting that the breakfast-hour is near, it hurries 
back, not to lose its chance of an eggshell or a fish-bone. On 
the way it notices a new-fledged sparrow trying its feeble 
wings, and, pouncing down ruthlessly, it carries the helpless 
little sinner away to a convenient bough, where it sits and 
pulls it to pieces and affects not to hear the pitiful screams 
of the heartbroken parents. Later on it is watching a little 
stream of water by the roadside and plucking out small 
fishes as they pass, or it is vexing a frog in a paddy field, 
or it has spied a swarm of flying ants and is sitting down 
with a mixed company to supper. For another instance, 
take the following which I myself witnessed, and say if any- 
body could have a hand in such a transaction and preserve 
his self-respect. A large garden lizard had wandered un- 
wisely far from its tree, when two crows observed it and saw 
their advantage. They alighted at once and introduced 
themselves, like a couple of card-sharpers. Then the lizard 



THE CROWS. 



59 



also took in the situation, and, wheeling about, made for the 
nearest trees. " Not so fast," quoth one of the crows, and 
with three sidelong hops, caught the tip of its tail and 
pulled it back again. Then the lizard reddened to the ears 
with offended dignity, and swelling like the frog in the fable, 
squared up for a fight ; for lizards are no cowards. But the 
crows had not the least intention of fighting. They re- 
mained as cool as cucumbers and merely took up positions 
on opposite sides of the lizard. The advantage of this 
formation was that, if it presented its front to the one, it had 
to present its tail to the other, and so, as often as it charged, 
it was quietly replaced on the spot from which it started. 
Now, to be continually making valiant rushes forward and 
continually getting pulled back by your tail must be very 
discouraging, and after half an hour or so the lizard was 
evidently quite sick of the situation. But as its spirits sank 
the crows' spirits rose. Their familiarities grew more and 
more gross, they pulled it about, poked it in the ribs, cawed 
in its very face and finally turned it over on its back, with 
its white breast towards the sky, and were preparing to 
carve it, when suddenly the squirrel gave a shrill warning, 
a panic seized the hens, and the two miscreants had just 
time to dart aside, one this way and one that, as a kite, with 

52 



THE CROWS. 



whirlwind swoop, dashed between them and bore away the 
lizard in its talons. They stared after it with a gape of 
utter nonplussation, 

" b nd my internal spirit cut a caper," 

as the poet sublimely says, for I could not have slept at 
night if those crows had enjoyed their disreputable meal. 

I do not know about the Afghans, but a policy of mas- 
terly inactivity will not do for the crows. Their peculations 
and insolence always extend to the limits of your toleration, 
and they keep themselves acquainted with those limits by 
experiment. I go in for keeping up my prestige with them. 
I shoot a crow once a month or so and hang it up in ter- 
rorem. This has such an excellent effect that no crow ever 
sits on my window and gives three guttural caws in the 
caverns of its throat, with intent to insult, as they do at 
other people's houses ; nor are their evening convocations 
holden on my roof. 

In April and May crows make nests of sticks and line 
them with coir, or horsehair abstracted from a mattress, or 
even with soda-water wire stolen from the butler's little 
hoard ! In these they bring up three or four callow criminals 
in their own image. I make all such proceedings penal 



6 2 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

about my premises, for the claims of a hungry family will 
drive crows to even more reckless wickedness than their 
own inbred depravity. They will appropriate hens' eggs, 
murder nestling pigeons, attempt the life of the canary, and 
every now and then startle you with some entirely new and 
unthinkable felony. 

Most young things in nature are engaging. We grow 
more unlovely as we grow older. What is prettier than a 
downy chicken, a precocious kid, a young mouse not an inch 
long, or that little woolly image of comfort, an infant rabbit, 
when it first shows its round face at the door of its nursery ? 
But new-fledged crows are a staring exception to the rule. 
They are graceless crudities, with glazed eyes and raw red 
throats, which they show you about three times a minute, 
when they open their mouth to emit an inane caw. They 
should be put to death offhand. 

All the above remarks refer of course to the grey-necked 
crow. To make them applicable to the large black crow, 
they must be discounted ten to fifteen per cent. There is 
some sturdiness of character in the black crow ; it is a down- 
right, above-board blackguard, and my feelings towards it 
have some semblance of respect. 

There is yet another species of crow, which has never 



THE CROWS. 



been named or described, though it is by no means rare in 
Bombay and other towns. It is very likef^ r the common crow, 
and might, indeed, pass for that bird, but for two marks by 
which it may be distinguished at a glance, viz., a prominent 
corky wart, which grows right across the bridge of its nose, 
and a certain sense of shame which seems to pervade all its 
proceedings. I have written a full account of its appearance 
and habits under the name of Corvus corticiger, but I am 
deterred from publishing the paper at once by a suspicion 
which has crossed my mind that Mukkun, the mussaul, may, 
in sportive mood, have manufactured the species out of a 
captured common crow and a soda-water cork. 




CoRVUS CORTICIGER. 



THE BATS, 



" Eye of newt and toe of frog, 
Wool of bat and tongue of dog, 
Adder's fork and blind worm's sting, 
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing." 




WITCHES 

seem to hang 
their caldron 
f r o m the 
lamp-hook in 
the centre of 
the ceiling, 
and every now 
and then it 

HI boils over. 

The " tongue 
of dog " is wanting this morning, and the wing is a sparrow's, 



THE BATS. 65 

not an owlet's, but the rest of the ingredients seem to be as 
per recipe. In these materialistic days it is taken for granted 
that the witch in question is a rat ; but that at least is a 
delusion. No rat in the flesh could get to a hook situated 
in the very middle of a smooth ceiling unless it had wings, 
and we have been spared winged rats. I protest in all con- 
science they are bad enough with four legs and a. tail. No ; 
few eyes have rested on the embodiment of hideousness 
from whose foul repast these crumbs have dropped. The 
demon bat does not go forth to do its deeds of darkness 
until the shades of night are falling, and as soon as 

' The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn, 
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat 
Awake the god of day," 

it retires, like a guilty ghost, to its dark haunt among the 
rafters of some deserted godown. But in the small hours 
of the morning I have risen, when I heard its jaws at work, 

"Feeding like horses when you hear them feed," 

and, quietly shutting the windows, have made it a prisoner, 
and in the morning there it was, hanging from the hook, its 
hyaena eyes glaring at me and a restless tremor playing over 
the thin membrane of its enormous ears. Very microphones 



66 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

those ears are, fit to catch the gentlest rustle of the feathers 
of a dreaming sparrow. Another pair of little trumpets of 
semi-transparent skin, like subordinate ears, rise from the 
nose, to gather the faintest odour of the sleeping prey as it 
floats past upon the air. To this extraordinary detective 
apparatus the demon bat adds a pair of ample wings of the 
softest vellum, on which it glides noiseless and ghostlike 
among the trees, or up and down the verandah, under the 
eaves of the roof. It scents a sparrow asleep, with its head 
cosily buried in its wing. The sparrow has a dream, a dread- 
ful dream; it starts and raises its head and gives a piercing 
shriek, and the curtain falls. The sparrow is now hanging 
limp and lifeless from the jaws of the shadowy spec re, which 
flits in at the window and up to its favourite hook. In the 
morning two wings are lying beside the flower-vase upon the 
table, and perhaps a beak, for though the demon bat eats the 
head, skull and all, before any other part, it often leaves the 
beak. If the hamal is up before his sahib in the morning, 
he sweeps the remains away, and no one is a bit the wiser. 
That a sparrow's wings should occur on the table does not 
strike him as a phenomenon requiring explanation, especially 
if he found frogs' feet or a mouse's tail, or the remains of a 
little bat, on the same spot the morning before. 



THE BATS, 67 

The demon bat has a miniature, very much inferior to 
itself in size and ugliness, which I hold responsible for the 
grasshoppers' legs and wings of death's-head moths which I 
find about one particular corner of the dressing-room. I 
caught the transgressor once almost flagrante delicto, and 
sentenced it to be put under chloroform and examined. On 
recovering from the effects of the chloroform it was set free, 
for I abhor taking life needlessly. Jerdon puts this and the 
demon under different genera, and calls the one Hipposideros 
and the other Megaderma. It does not appear to me that 
they should be classed among bats at all. They seem rather 
to be a sort of incarnations of Satan, and might serve as 
models to Gustave Dore illustrating " Paradise Lost" 

When we speak of the bat we generally have in mind a 
little animal which spends the day in crevices about the 
eaves, or in chinks of the window sunshades, squeaking and 
quarrelling on a small scale with its neighbour, and at dusk 
sallies forth after mosquitos. With its wrinkled face and 
small peering eyes it is a type of the race, a very estimable, 
inoffensive, and humdrum race. Beyond this in their praise 
it would be affectation to go : their virtues are not of the 
striking sort. One feels grateful to them, of course, for their 
unostentatious labours in keeping down mosquitos, small 



68 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

beetles, and flies, but Dr. George Smith could not make a 
biography out of them. No animal abhors the honest light 
of day more cordially than the common bat. Even Lucifuga 
blatta, the cockroach, will creep out from its hiding-place 
under the table when it smells that the lid has been left off 
the butter-dish ; and as for the owl, that bird of night, I 
never saw one yet, any hour of the twenty-four, which had 
not a very large round eye fixed on me. But a bat in day- 
light feels worse than Hercules when he put on the coat with 
which his spouse presented him and suffered prickly heat. 
The prophet who says that the people will cast their idols 
to the moles and to the bats must have been a naturalist. 
Nature furnishes no more striking figure. Terminus and 
Priapus will lie neglected and half buried in the earth, ob- 
structing the burrowing mole, while the Lares and Penates 
will be put away with other rubbish in some old lumber- 
room or garret, heavy with the smell of long-unmolested 
bats. 

Catching bats with a butterfly-net and examining them 
is a good pastime for cold weather evenings. There are more 
kinds of them than I can tell the use of, small ones and 
smaller ones, largish ones with yellow breasts, pug-nosed 
ones and others with more prominent snouts, some thick 



THE BATS. 69 

and podgy, and one slim fellow with wings so long that they 
have to be folded a dozen times, more or less, before the 
animal can accommodate them about its person. This last 
is the one which you sometimes see shooting through the 
sky at express speed, chattering to itself in a shrill key. It 
is not to be caught with butterfly-nets or any such gins. 

But after all, what have we to do with these ? Of all the 
wild-fowl included under the name of bats, the only one 
that really comes into the foreground of Indian life is the 
fruit-bat or flying-fox. This animal has what I consider a 
handsome face, with large soft eyes, and would not be a 
bat at all but for two characteristic points, a strong batty 
smell and an insatiable craving for strife. Flying-foxes 
carry this last trait further than any others of the tribe. 
Considering that they spend the night filling their stomachs 
with indigestible green fruits, it is nothing strange that they 
should be dyspeptic and disagreeable by morning ; the odd 
thing is that, in order to be within quarrelling distance of 
each other, they all must needs sleep on one tree, generally 
a huge tamarind with accommodation for two or three hun- 
dred. Before a dozen have gathered there is a misunder- 
standing between two which want the uppermost branch. 
" That's my place." " I had it yesterday," You hadn't." 



70 THE TRIBES 0V MY FRONTIER. 

"I had." "You hadn't." " I had." " Hands off." ''Whom 
are you shoving?" Mutual recriminations follow, and from 
words they proceed to blows. One is dislodged and flies 
round to the other side of the tree, where it is greeted by a 
chorus of growls, " No room here ! " but it plumps into the 
middle of the objectors, and three lose their hold. Then 
the brawl becomes general and ends in a regular fracas. 
As the sun grows hot they cool down a little, but the fire is 
only smouldering, and may break out again at any time. 
These wranglings often lead indeed to the most scandalous 
scenes, as every one knows who has lived near a bats' roost- 
ing tree. Such trees are not so common about Bombay 
as they are up country, because every Goanese cook plots 
against the life of the flying-fox. 

The bat is one of the unclean birds mentioned in the 
iith chapter of Leviticus, which the Jews were for- 
bidden to eat, but Pedro rejoices in his Christian liberty, 
and reckons it second only to roast pig. He hankers 
after even the small fruit-bat, that lesser edition of the 
flying-fox, which has such a penchant for the flowers of 
the plantain-tree. This animal is not a quarter of the 
size of the flying-fox, being only a foot and a half from tip 
to tip of the wings, consequently it is easily accommodated 



THE BATS. 



73 



in a birdcage, and makes a pleasant pet. I once caught one 
with a net, as it was negotiating a guava to which it had no 
right, and in a short time it grew quite tame. When I pre- 
sented a peeled plantain at the door of its cage it would 
travel along the wires, hanging by its feet and thumb-nails, 
and take the fruit out of my hand. Then it wrapped its 
wings round the plantain, and, beginning at one end, went 
steadily through it. The plantain was as big as itself, but 
capacity for food is one of the strong points of the whole 
bat family, and there was seldom anything left in the 
morning. During the day it enfolded itself in its wings 
and slept, hanging by one foot from the top of its cage. 

Bats have one lovely virtue, and that is family affection. 
I shall never forget a captive family of demon bats which I 
once saw, the grim old papa, the mother perhaps a trifle 
more hideous, and the half-grown youngster, not quite able 
yet to provide for himself. There was something very 
touching in the tender attachment to one another of three 
such ill-omened objects. Fruit-bats, too, when they go 
foraging, never leave the baby at home. It clings to the 
mother's breast, and she carries it wherever she goes. A 
humane friend of mine has communicated to me, for inser- 
tion heie, a very affecting story of a bat which he found, 

6 



74 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



prostrate and bleeding, with a mob of dastardly crows seek- 
ing its life. Running to the rescue, he lifted it up, and dis- 
covered, under its wings, a helpless little infant, which it 
was vainly trying to save from its ruthless persecutors. 
The pathos of the story comes to a head at the point where 
my humane friend, putting his hand into his trousers pocket, 
draws out two annas and gives them to a native lad, charging 
him to protect the poor creature and take it to a place of 
safety. No one who has any respect for his own feelings 
will press the matter further, and inquire what the native 
did when he had received the two annas and my humane 
friend was gone. 




75 



BEES, WASPS, ET HOC GENUS OMNE, 




HAT-BOX is surely a 
modern invention, a solid 
leather hat-box I mean, 
with movable fittings, to 
allow of little articles 
being carried in the sides 
of it, and costing a sum 
of rupees which I will not dwell 
on, because it is a painful sub- 
ject. The hat jtself, at least that 
variety which demands a box for 
^ its accommodation, is a modern 

invention, and a fortiori the hat-box must be. Yet it has 
already become a necessity of life to a smart-looking me- 

62 



76 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

tallic-blue fly which rushes about the house at this season, 
jerking its wings in a nervous way. Four times have I 
found the keyhole of the box which is the habitation of 
my Sunday hat securely stopped up with cement, and four 
times have I been obliged to excavate my way into the 
lock with a pin, and then to turn the hat-box upside down 
(disarranging all the little articles in the sides) and drum 
upon the bottom of it till I had shaken out a dozen or two 
of spiders, and also the white, blubberlike, limbless grub 
for whose necessities the spiders were provided. It may be 
objected that any other keyhole, or any hole at all of the 
same size, would suit the s dd fly equally well, and I admit 
that there is an old bunch of keys lying near the hat-box, 
in. which every one of suitable calibre has been stopped up. 
There are also holes in the old book-shelf, into which it 
was the original intention of the carpenter to have driven 
nails, and they have all been engaged by these house- 
hunters. Nevertheless, the objection is frivolous, for keys 
and book-shelves are themselves comparatively modern 
devices, and the great question remains, What did all the 
community of wasps, bees, and ichneumon flies do before 
we, or, to go further back still, before our Aryan brother 
came into the country, and built houses and furnished them 



BEES, WASPS, ETC. 77 

with all these conveniences ? They availed themselves, 
perhaps, of natural holes in trees and rocks. But all the 
natural holes there are would not suffice for one in fifty of 
them. I suspect the over-population difficulty presses these 
tribes very hard, and whenever they find a house, with all its 
resources of doors and windows, boxes, padlocks, &c., they 
immigrate in shoals, like the heathen Chinee into California. 
One finds it can suit itstlf to a nicety in ordinary cupboard 
keyholes, another prefers quill pens or rolled-up maps, a 
third, with more constructive talent builds itself a wigwam 
en the back of the door or under the table, while a fourth 
simply forms a burrow in the chunam floor of the bath-room 
into which it pokes itself at times, singing in a high key. 

Taking them all round, I feel convinced that, if accurate 
census returns could be obtained, it would appear that the 
hymenopterous population of India had centupled since the 
British occupation. It requires no very penetrating mind 
to detect the grave issues which may depend on this, at first 
sight, trivial result of our rule. Let us consider, as an in- 
stance, that same fussy, metallic-blue fly which has been 
tampering with my hat-box. When she finds an eligible 
hole, roomy enough and yet not too wide at the mouth, she 
at once cleans it out and puts it in order, and then proceeds, 



7 8 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

with all the energy of her character, to stock it with spiders. 
Nothing but spiders will do, and they must be, I understand, 
of one particular genus, not web-spiders, nor jumpers, nor 
any sort of house spider, but a fierce hairy-legged brute 
which lives among grass and runs down its prey. These 
she < hunts out, sparing neither age nor sex. She seeks them 
in their native haunts, follows them by scent like a blood- 
hound, and whenever she comes upon one, large or small, it 
is the work of an instant to spring upon its back seize it by 
the scruff of the neck, and drive her sting into it. She does 
not sting it to death, for it is not intended to die at once ; 
she stings judiciously, just injecting so much poison as will 
act like an anaesthetic and throw the victim into a comatose 
state, in which it may linger on for a week or two, and re- 
main fresh and eatable all the time. She feels no remorse. 
Remorse has nothing to do with the matter in hand. Her 
nest is to be stocked. When a sufficient number of be- 
numbed semi-conscious spiders have been huddled together 
into the hole, she deposits a single egg in the midst of them, 
and then she hies her to a place she wots of where there is 
excellent day. She brings pellets of this, and plasters up 
the mouth of the hole skilfully, kneading the clay well with 
her jaws and forefeet, and singing the while to lighten her 



SEES, WASPS, ETC. 



labour. Then a coat of whitewash is laid over the clay, and 
all her anxiety about that child is at an end; she 'is off in 
search of another hole. 

Now, there is in my office an ancient chair, reserved for 
the use of the lowest-paid clerk, or the abject oomedwar, 
who lives by drawing up petitions and hoping for temporary 
vacancies. The chair was once cane-bottomed, and though 
the cane has long since been replaced by more durable- 
wooden boards, the holes through which it was drawn remain, 
and every one of them is closed with that peculiar stopper 
of whitewashed clay which marks the metallic-blue fly. In 
the chair there are nineteen of these holes to a side, or 
seventy-six in all. Now, supposing each hole to contain on 
an average twenty spiders, large and small, then this one 
rickety sitting instrument is the sepulchre of 1,520 crea- 
tures, which just a week or two ago were galloping about 
among the weeds and grass of the garden, scattering terror 
and death. Again, multiplying this number by the appe- 
tite per diem of an average hairy legged grass-spider, we 
have the number of voracious caterpillars and other insects 
whose lives are being spared for the maintenance of this 
one seminary of metallic-blue flies. And in all that great 
resurrection pie of cold platitudes which constitutes the 



80 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

tangible result, the residue found on evaporation, so to 
speak, of the Famine Commission, there is no allusion to 
this momentous subject] 

In making calculations, however, it must be remembered 
that all these waspy tribes do not combine to exterminate 
grass-spiders. A large fellow of the hornet pattern always 
appears dragging along fat green caterpillars, another pre- 
fers the smaller caterpillar of a particular kind of moth, 
another collects house-spiders, another aphides, another flies, 
one is said to stock its nest with honey-bees, and just now 
a large red individual owns several extensive burrows in 
my floor, in which it is stowing away the carcases of those 
ridiculous, long-legged, green, grasshopperish animals which 
come about the lamp at night and have a ver}' shrill voice. 
I doubt if any two kinds eat the same thing. As little will 
any two do the same thing, or do a thing the same way, if 
there are two possible ways of doing it. Many kinds build 
mud barracks, but no two upon the same plan. The large 
red hornet, which chooses a site on the back of the door, 
arranges a row of chambers side by side, like sepoys' lines. 
It is a coarse workman, and the whole suite of apartments, 
when finished, looks like one large dab of mud. Another 
builds a single bomb-proof dome, which \\hen you break 



BEES, WASPS, ETC. 8 1 

into it with a hammer proves to be partitioned into many 
compartments. One species has a highly cultivated taste, 
and spends much time in giving a finish to its work. It lays 
on many coats of paint, ending with a beautiful glossy red 
varnish. Then, of those that occupy holes, each has its own 
idea. The kinds which use keyholes arrange for one child 
in each, but those which patronize reels, quills, and rolled 
maps, often have the whole family together one upon the 
top of the other, with partitions between to prevent them 
eating each other. In this case, of course, the cell first 
made is at the bottom and the last at the mouth of the 
hole, so that the first-born has all its younger brothers 
between itself and liberty. To meet this difficulty, the 
bee seems to arrange that the eggs shall hatch in the 
opposite order to that in which they were laid, but I am 
not quite clear on this point. AH these creatures affect 
such prodigious secrecy in their proceedings that it is 
difficult to get at the truth. 

There is one considerable class of bees which, not liking 
the bare walls of the hole, line it with rolled leaves. To 
make these cigarettes they require little circular pieces of 
leaf, like gun-wads, and where those of this fancy are 
common the foliage of your garden is apt to be punched 



82 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

into all sorts of striking patterns. I suppose each species 
confines itself to one particular kind of leaf. There is no 
detail, in short, so insignificant as not to furnish these 
mechanical geniuses with an opportunity of displaying 
originality. If one lays on mud with its jaws, another will 
do it with its feet or antennae. If one, when it secures a 
large caterpillar, gets astride it and travels like a rider 
on the original velocipede (vide illustration in Webster's 
Dictionary), its cousin, not to be like it, will turn round 
and back towards its nest, dragging its prey after it. 

But any one who wants more instances will find it 
pleasant and profitable to collect them for himself. It is 
sweet, cxperlo crede, to pry into the private ways of these 
little people, and discover the diminutive secrets which 
they take such pains to hide. And it is also a most 
healthful means of appeasing some erring appetites of the 
mind. Wholesomely satisfied with this, I feel no hunger for 
any other occult science, nor much thirst for scandal about 
my human neighbours. In fact, I glut upon these creatures 
the perverse craving which is in us all to know what we 
are not meant to know. And any person who is largely 
endowed with that talent for research in other people's 
concerns, which constitutes a man (or woman, even !) a 



BEES, WASPS, ETC. 83 

successful gossip, will find much exercise for it in ferreting 
out the most sacred secrets of the inner domestic life of 
those waspy families -hici colonize his house at this 
season of the year. He may peer through their keyholes, 
so to speak, and read their private letters, and gratify the 
spirit of meanness to the full, without reaping self-debase- 
ment as his reward. On the contrary, he will learn many 
things which will exercise his best sympathies and call 
forth humane emotions. For in these families there is 
often disaster and sore bereavement. The home papers 
often have some sad story to make public of a romantic 
son who has left the parental roof, and is supposed to have 
started, with a secondhand revolver, for the prairies of 
America, or of a daughter, who went shopping, and has 
never been heard of since ; and, if it is doubtful whether 
fairies and elves really do take away fat bnbies and leave 
starved changelings in their place, it is quite certain that 
gipsies do worse, for they steal a child and leave no com- 
pensation ; but what are all these to the lot of the un- 
suspecting little architect, which falls a victim to the designs 
of the idle ichneumon fly ? As she builds her little cottage 
of clay, the sinister eye of the ruffian is watching her 
operations, and when the place is finished and provisioned, 



8 4 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER, 



and she has gone for the last pellet of mud to barricade 
the door, it steps quickly forward and deposits a micro- 
scopic egg, which is to blast all the hopes of the fond 
parent. Out of that egg a grub will come, which, like 
Ahab, will kill, and also take possession ; it will consume 
first the provisions in the cell, and then eat up their rightful 
owner. Some of the most brilliant insects that come about 
the house belong to this class. I mean those bee-like 
things clothed from head to foot in armour of burnished 
green, excepting only that little patch of red which has 
given them the name of ruby- tailed flies. When you see 
one of these steadily dogging a wasp, flying when she flies, 
and pausing when she pauses, you may know the errand it 
is on. In its tragedies, as well as in its comedies, the life 
of rational man falls below that of beings which seem 
almost too small to afford room for much interest. 




THE SPIDERS. 



" Help me curse 
That bottled spider." 



WHY should the poor crea- 
ture be cursed ? If " bottled " 
means bloated, as Shakesperian 
commentators say, then wherewith is 
it bloated ? With the mosquito that bit 
you ; with the fly that sat on the point of 
your nose, and returned to the point of your 
nose, until five words mis-spelled and symptoms 
"^ of temporary insanity obliged you to drop your pen ; 
with the bluebottle, which baptized its foul person in the 
milk, and crawled out again smeared with cream ; with the 
cockroach, which gnawed the kid gloves, or that other one 




86 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

which has long lived in the bookcase, and smitten with 
leprosy the fresh dark binding of many a good book. I 
confess that the way in which many people treat spiders 
makes me melancholy. Ladies especially crush them with 
slippers, or else, if a pretty timidity is one of their accom- 
plishments, they invoke the " boy " to " take away that 
fanwur" He picks it up with the points of his five fingers, 
as he would a bolus of rice and curry, and throws it out of 
the window, a miserable agglomeration of mangled limbs. 
Two reasons are given for this : first, that spiders are ugly ; 
second, that they bite. Now, I am not going to put for- 
ward the plea that spiders are good-looking, though that 
depends entirely upon your point of view ; but I protest 
against the argument in the abstract that plain looks are a 
sufficient reason for putting anybody to death. And as for 
the second reason, spiders have plenty of jaws and pre- 
sumably can bite ; but I have for years been searching for 
authentic instances of persons having been bitten by them, 
and up to date I have succeeded in collecting one of doubt- 
ful value. It was a case of a boy, who thrust his imperti- 
nent finger into a hole where there was a spider, and be- 
lieved it bit him. I would have bitten under the same 
circumstances. The fact is, that people who crush spiders 



THE SPIDERS. 87 



ought to refrain from giving reasons for it. Those who do 
such things do not generally proceed upon reason. I enter 
into an alliance, offensive and defensive, with spiders, and 
they fight my battles and slay my enemies for me. They 
entangle the mosquito swarms, entrap the droning beetle 
in full sail for my lamp, plot against the pestilent fly, and 
garrotte the cricket. Caucasian Insect Powder is cold com- 
fort. When your enemy falls into the toils of a blood- 
thirsty spider, and is being bound hand and foot for execu- 
tion, "there's retribution in the deed," and you feel that 
you are in some sort indemnified for all you have suffered. 
What would I do without spiders ? That they are not 
prepossessing in their appearance, and fascinating in their 
ways, is in harmony with a great law of the universe. " A 
man may smile and smile and be a villain," but in nature 
there is invariably a certain correspondence between the 
outward and the inward, between the aspect of a thing and 
the part which 5; has to play in the world ; everything is 
dressed as becomes its vocation. And it is in accordance 
with the eternal fitness of things that the spider should be, 
as to its outward appearance, sinister and forbidding. If 
it could look gentle and engaging as it strangled a fly, my 
soul would revolt against the hypocrisy of the thing ; but 



88 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

as I contemplate the flat tableland of its head, gemmed 
with bead-like eyes, the complicated assortment of fangs 
and jaws, and other ghastly instruments of death, the eight 
bristling legs, and the supreme horribleness of the gross 
total, I feel perfectly satisfied that it was meant to do my 
work, and to do it con amore. 

But there are points about the spider which deserve our 
respect besides its professional qualifications. One of these 
is maternal affection. Many good people are shocked at 
Dr. Johnson for loving a good hater. They fancy that if a 
man is too good-natured to hate anybody he must be very 
loving, as if one who is weak on his right side was likely 
to be so much the stronger on his left. If a man is weak 
in his right hand, the chances are that he is infirm all over, 
and if there is no force in his aversions and hatreds, I 
take it as evidence of imbecility as regards his feelings 
generally. However, ne sutor ultra crepidam. I will con- 
fine myself to my own sphere. In the animal world the 
result of my observations is briefly this, that I expect very 
little from a mild constitutional amiability. The love of 
sheep is very poor stuff. If you want any depth of 
affection, you must seek it in the company of other strong 
passions. The terrible running spider, which will tear her 



THE SPIDERS. 80 



own species, of either sex, to pieces, wherever she finds it, 
will part with life sooner than with the white bag in which 
she carries her egg, like an Indian squaw carrying her 
papoos. Web-spiders generally weave little silken purses 
for their eggs, and hang them about the web. When the 
infant hordes break forth, which they do like a plague, all 
in one day, they occupy their mother's web until they are 
old enough to spin for themselves. 

Spiders are also worth studying as an illustration 
showing in how many ways the same thing may be done. 
They all, without exception, live by murder, but the follow- 
ing is only a brief list of the chief ways in which they 
compass that end : 

i. They run down their prey. These are the wolves of 
the tribe, and make their living by fleetness of foot. The 
chief of them all is the great house-spider of Bombay, fully 
four inches in stretch of limb. I love this kind for killing 
cockroaches. There is no production of nature, to my 
mind, so entirely indefensible as the cockroach. The spirit 
of fair-play itself could find no plea for the continued exis- 
tence of that sneaking, butter-eating, evil-smelling prowler 
of the pantry. And with its long feelers, it is too cautious 
to be entangled in any web. But, whether it be the huge 

7 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



winged ship-cockroach, or the more loathsome, wingless, 
tortoiseshelled variety, Nemesis overtakes it when it falls 
in the way of the running spider. 

2. They spring upon the victim. These are the cats of 
the tribe, and table flies are their prey ; but they put cats 
to shame, for they seek no cover or concealment. On the 
open table-cloth, while the gourmand is engrossed in a 
luscious drop of gravy, the spider is creeping on it step by 
step, whetting her jaws against each other. As she gets 
nearer the suspense begins to be painful. She moves like 
the hour-hand of a watch, each step is a matter of thought, 
while all her eight eyes are focussed, like burning-glasses, 
on the victim, and not an eyelash moves. At length you 
see her tail go down, and a fine thread is made fast to the 
table-cloth, for a spider always casts anchor at critical 
moments. Then comes the fatal spring, followed by a 
brief buzzing scuffle, and the foul career of that fly is 
ended. 

3. They lie in ambush on some flower of their own hue, 
for the busy bee improving each shining hour, or the 
frivolous butterfly on pleasure bent. One common kind, 
of a lily-white colour, generally lurks, almost invisible, on 
the tuberose, with its arms stretched out, ready for an 



THE SPIDERS. 



embrace. Into that embrace the silly butterfly will come, 
and, when its life-blood has been sucked dry, its withered 
corpse will fall to the ground, and the way will be open for 
another. 

4. They are fishermen, and make nets to entrap their 
prey. These may be subdivided into at least two classes : 
(a) Those which hang tangled skeins of flimsy silk 
about the corners of rooms. They are a feeble folk, long- 
limbed and weedy, and as their webs catch more dust 
than flies, I encourage Rama to brandish against them an 
instrument made of fifteen feet of bamboo and a broom. 
(b} Those which construct a regular circular net and sit in 
the middle of it. One of these is as much superior to a 
dozen of the last as fifty years of Europe is better than a 
cycle of Cathay. They have made considerable progress 
in mathematics and physics. As the sun is setting in the 
west, the spider sits on a projecting branch of some tree 
beside a garden pathway, and serves out a fine line, so fine 
that it floats away on the air until it touches a leaf of a tree 
on the other side of the path, and, being well smeared with 
glue, sticks. Then the spider draws it tight, and, travelling 
Blondinwise along it, pulls a thicker line across the space. 

It is now a comparatively easy matter to stretch a second 

72 



92 THE TRIBES ON MV FRONTIER. 

cord between the two trees lower down, and then to 
connect these by many others, all meeting in a common 
centre, like the spokes of a wheel. Then, begining at this 
Centre, the spider goes round and round, in widening 
circles, pulling a line after it, and fastening it to each spoke 
in turn. Almost before the work is done, moths and 
beetles, trying to make the passage between the two trees, 
sail headlong into the meshes of the net, and are put up in 
separate parcels to be eaten at leisure. In the grey light 
of the morning, as you start on your matutinal ride, you 
carry away the whole web on your face, dealing the fat and 
apoplectic owner such a cruel punch in the ribs with the 
point of your nose that it drops to the earth in a fit. Of 
course, the poor thing has all its work to do over again 
that night. 

5. They addict themselves to occult science, and traverse 
the sky like a witch on a broomstick. On a windy day 
sometimes it seems as if an emeute had occurred in a tailor's 
shop, and all the sweepings of the floor had broken loose. 
Long shreds of silk and tag ends of thread of all sizes come 
floating past. One catches on a tree or railing, and astride 
it there is a gay yellow spider, as proud as Punch and as 
lean as Famine ; but, before you can catch her, she has 



THE SPIDERS. 



93 



shot out a yard of loose thread, and embarked on the gale 
again. Are they yachting for pleasure, or like a fleet of 




IN THE MESHES. 



fishing-boats, do they trail their long nets after them to 
entrap the shoals of gnats and midges, and briefly happy 
ephemerae t When the air is calm once more will they 
spread their airy gossamer in the blue empyrean, and float 



94 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



and run in the golden lightning of the sunken sun, or will 
the muddy vesture of decay grossly drag them down to the 
earth again ? 

But to what end am I asking questions, or what would 
it profit if I answered them ? I know that I am only on 
the threshold yet of all the sterling qualities of head and 
heart which adorn my trusty allies ; but I will stop there, 
for when I have passed on to their patience and perseve- 
rance, when I have adorned my tale with Robert Bruce, 
who extracted a moral from a spider and won his kingdom, 
when I have quoted the great teacher who noticed that she 
was little upon the earth but exceeding wise, when I have 
said all that can be said on the subject and more, the voice 
of humanity will be as it has ever been, 

" Weaving spiders, come not here, 

Hence, you long-legged spinners, hence ! " 

And, since candour is a jewel, I will confess that I would 
say the same if I could complete the exorcism, and ban 
" beetles black," and all the rest of the fraternity of vagrants 
and uninvited squatters on my estates. Till I can do that 
I have need of spiders also. Give me neither or both. 



95 



THE BUTTERFLY: HUNTING HIM, 



A CORNER of my verandah stands 
a weapon, always ready, wherewith 
I do battle against liver, dyspepsia, 
hypochondria, dull care, "loathed 
melancholy," and multifarious other 
natural enemies to peace and long 
life. It is composed of a light 
springy stick, about five feet long, 
to which is attached a ring of iron wire about fifteen inches 
in diameter, carrying a bag of mosquito-net, or gauze, dyed 
green. The wire is as light as it can be without becoming 
so thin as to want stiffness, and the gauze of which the bag 
is made is soft and open enough to be perfectly trans- 
parent. The minutest point which may conduce to the 




g6 THE TRIRES ON MY FRONTIER. 

perfection of the instrument is worthy of attention, for its 
virtues are rare. I find nothing equal to it. It is better 
than Eno's Fruit Salt. To the jaded office slave, the brain- 
worn student, the overwrought literary or professional man, 
I recommend this panacea. 

Games are useful in their way, and sport is much better ; 
but good sport is not often within easy reach of a Bombay 
man. The hills are, and this is the season when a morn- 
ing on an Indian mountain-top is not to be bartered for 
anything that any climate in the world produces. When 
the sun has just risen, and the cold delicious morning air 
waves the scented grass, with the frozen green beetles 
clinging to it, and the birds sing, and you hear them sing, 
because there is no Babel of worldly noises and vile 
clangour of coarse-minded crows to drown their music, 
at such times to ramble aimlessly along, and simply drink 
in the enjoyment which seems to be poured out upon the 
face of nature, makes a man feel that his capacity for pure 
animal happiness is too limited. He cannot take it all in. 
Much seems to overflow and run to waste. Then the sun 
grows warmer, and the freshness of the morning fades a 
little ; but the man who can handle a butterfly-net need 
not go home and mope. His time is just beginning, for 



THE BUTTERFLY. 



99 



the butterflies are just waking, as the genial warmth of the 
sun puts life into their fragile little bodies. There are 
hours before him yet of sport which is in my judgment 
scarcely second to any. To be a successful butterfly- 
hunter a man must have a wiry frame and nimble limbs, 
a good eye, true hand, quick observation, patience, judg- 
ment, and much practice. A tyro as is easily detected as a 
sailor on horseback. The very way he pokes his awkward 
tool at a passing butterfly proclaims him. And he has 
only one way of proceeding with all kinds, generally a 
very futile one. The old hunter knows the habits of every 
family, nay, of every species, and has wiles at hand to cope 
with each. He will not waste his wind pursuing that 
marvel of restless activity, the Sarpendon swallow-tail of 
the hills, as it dances from flower to flower. He will 
follow it with patience until he finds some flower-head 
with fifty little florets, and while it is darting its tongue 
into each of these in turn, there will be time for a rapid 
but noiseless rush, and a sweep big enough to carry away 
butterfly, flower, and all. Even then it will need clever 
fingers to secure the little prisoner before its frantic energy 
has broken its brittle wings to pieces. But the prize is 
worth all the trouble it costs. for some recipe to fix 



loo THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



the watery transparence of that blue-green wing, and the 
richness of its brown border! But this is one of the 
butterflies that soon fade, do what you will. Should one 
of the large black swallow-tails, with red crescents on their 
hinder wings (of which there are four kinds in Bombay), 
come sailing past, like a goodly vessel with sails spread, it 
would be folly to wait for it to stop at a flower. It is 
most likely on a long voyage, and will not stop at all. 
You must run ahead and meet it in its course, when, as 
it passes, a well-aimed following stroke will make it your 
prize. Then there is a large family of brilliant butterflies 
which love to bask in the sun and display their beauty. 
Only an utter greenhorn would rush at one of these. It 
must be caught, as a cat catches a mouse, by patience and 
stealth. If once scared, it is lost. It should never see the 
net until it sees it from the inside. Other kinds must be 
caught in other ways, some by adroit manoeuvres which it 
is difficult to describe and much more difficult to perform. 
Occasionally, when a precious prize passes which may 
never pass again, and shows no sign of pausing, there is 
nothing for it but to give chase. Speedy legs and good 
wind, inspired by, say, a leaf-butterfly, or that tailless 
prince of swallow-tails, the black and blue giant of the 



THE BUTTERFLY. let 

Lanowlee woods, will accomplish unexpected miracles 
sometimes. And when you overtake it, and the first stroke 
misses, as of course it will, never mind ; wave the net 
wildly round and round your head. Some strange fate 
generally leads a butterfly to eddy round too, and when 
you overbalance yourself and tumble to the ground, like 
an exhausted teetotum, you may find it fluttering among 
the muslin. 

When the specimen is caught it must be disposed of. 
The safest and most humane way to kill it is to give it a 
gentle pinch between the finger and thumb on the thorax. 
Every butterfly, like all Gaul, divisa est in partes tres. 
The middle one of these parts, from which the wings and 
legs take their rise, is the thorax. To accommodate your 
captures you should carry in your pocket a few sheets of 
smooth and thin letter-paper, folded in quarto. Between 
the leaves of this they will lie secure, and the smooth 
paper will not rub off their scales. On returning home 
you may spread your spoils on the table, and gloat over 
them for a reasonable time : but they must be set soon, or 
they will stiffen. All the apparatus needed to set butter- 
flies nicely is a few boards of thick cork (which may be 
made of two or three sheets of sheet cork, glued together), 



102 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

with grooves of different sizes cut in them to receive the 
bodies, so that the wings may be level with the surface of 
the cork. Pass a pin gently through the thorax of each 
specimen, put its body into one of the grooves, press the 
pin well into the cork, and then spread out the wings, and 
keep them in their places with narrow strips of card 
pinned over them. In two or three days the specimen 
will be ready for the case, and thenceforth it will be con- 
spired against night and day by various enemies, the 
worst by far being an atrocious round beetle, whose off- 
spring is a still more atrocious hairy grub, which will 
occupy the inside of the butterfly, and eat away its body, 
until the wings, with nothing left to connect them, fall to 
the ground, and the bare pin stands, a melancholy monu- 
ment, to tell where the gorgeous specimen once spread its 
splendours This grub seems to fatten on the smell of 
camphor or turpentine, and the only device of any per- 
manent avail against it is to dissolve a little corrosive sub- 
limate in spirits of wine, and with a fine feather anoint the 
whole body of each butterfly thoroughly. If you make 
the mixture too strong it will assuredly leave an unsightly 
white film upon the back of every black specimen, and if 
you do not make it strong enough it will only act as a 



THE BUTTERFLY. 103 



tonic to the grub. These are the Scylla and Charybdis 
between which you must steer. 

Many silly people still call butterfly-hunting puerile 
amusement, and so it would be if they pursued it ; for the 
profit which any one extracts from it is always pretty 
much according to the measure of his own capacity. It is 
curioos to notice how exactly in the face of the fact this 
old notion of the childishness of entomology is. All chil- 
dren take an interest in animals, and may with very little 
encouragement be developed into naturalists while the 
observing faculties are still active and they have not yet 
learned the art of going blindfold through the world ; but 
it is wild beasts that fascinate them first. Lions and 
tigers rank with Bluebeard and Jack the Giant-killer. By 
degrees the boy will go on to love birds and become mad 
on bird-nesting ; but not until he is growing into a mature 
naturalist will he go down the scale of life, and discover in 
a gall-fly or a sea-jelly, a rotifer or a hydra, a wonder and 
a mystery not to be found in what are called the higher 
orders of animals. The pursuit of butterflies is not so 
full of deep interest as many other branches even of 
entomology, but it is more of a science for the million. It 
has the peculiar advantage that it is a recreation as well as 



THE TRIBES o.v MY FRONTIER. 



a study. In fact, it has all the elements which go to make 
up a first-class hobby. It furnishes employment for hours 
of recreation without encroaching on hours of business. It 
doubles the pleasures of an excursion, turns a holiday to 
the best account, and gives a purpose to the morning 
constitutional. And it is at all times and everywhere 
within reach in this glorious country ; for, though butter- 
flies are most abundant and most splendid on the hills, 
Bombay is not far behind. That one island, seven miles 
long and half as broad, will afford to the collector more 
different species than all the United Kingdom of Great 
Britain and Ireland. And they will range from the tiny 
blue, with its microscopic embroidery of gold, scarcely half 
an inch in stretch of wing, to the magnificent ornithoptera 
with an expanse of seven and a half inches. Even Dusty- 
pore has its butterflies. 

Another charge brought against entomologists is that of 
cruelty, and it is even more groundless. Nothing is more 
unfeeling than ignorance, and nothing makes a man more 
compassionate towards his little fellow-creatures than a 
close acquaintance with them. This acquaintance can only 
be gained, and is cheaply gained, by sacrificing the lives of 
a few. I might dwell on the many pleasures of such an 



THE BUTTERFLY. 



intimacy, and of the solid value of it in this worldly world ; 
but if I entered on that subject now, this paper would have 
to or to the barber with Polonius's beard. 




THE BUTTERFLY: CONTEMPLATING 

' HIM, 

ob ember. 



UTTERFLY-HUNTING is a 
means, not an end. The end is 
Tji/ to know them, to become inti- 
mate with them, so that, as you 
C move about the garden, or lie 
dreaming, 

"Modo sub antiqua il'ce, 
Modo in tenaci gramine 
Labuntur altis interim ripis aquas, 
Queruntur in silvis aves," 

each gay pleasure-hunter that flits by you may be an 
acquaintance with a character and an individuality of its 
own. These are just the situations that butterflies revel in, 




THE BUTTERFLY. 



107 



where rippling water runs among shady trees, and Art has 
let Nature alone. Well-kept gardens are a nuisance in 
their estimation ; for nearly all the operations of the 
gardener are directly contrary to the interests of the butter- 
fly. He pulls up the weeds on which its caterpillar should 
feed, or destroys the caterpillar itself; he introduces 
strange and unknown plants of suspicious flavours, and, 
above all, he cultivates double flowers, in which all the 
parts where the sweet drop of nectar should lie are turned 
into unprofitable petals. Every double flower is an 
abomination to butterflies. On the other hand, dry plains 
and fields afford them no sustenance, and wind dis- 
composes them. But seek some retired valley, or hollow 
among hills, in the month of October, when weed and 
thorn-bush and waving creeper are in bloom, and the sun 
is hot, and the air is moist, and you will preside at a 
durbar. The lordly swallow-tail will sail past, the little 
whites and yellows will flutter ceaselessly from flower to 
flower, the huge orange-tipped white, hurrying by, will 
yield to temptation, and pause for a moment on a little 
blossom which looks insignificant, perhaps, but tastes most 
exquisite to the connoisseur's palate, diadema and junonia 

will display their glories, dana'is and euplcea will float with 

82 



I0 8 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



easy grace on the air, and perhaps a bold leaf-butterfly 
will pass with the flight ot a strong-winged pigeon, the 
blue sheen of its wings glancing in the sun, until it plunges 
into some withered bush, and not an eye can distinguish 
its motionless form from any of the dead leaves around it. 
And when the afternoon is drawing on, then many a rich 
hair-streak will appear, and, taking its station in the 
middle of some large leaf, will open its wings just a little, 
and give you a peep of the dazzling blue within. By 
sunset all these will be sound asleep, and then the richly 
pencilled brown butterflies of the twilight will come out 
and dance their fairy dances about the roots of some dark 
tree. 

In one particular butterflies seem to me to s'and apart 
from all other forms of animal life. Other animals of all 
kinds, with plants and trees, are the furnishing of this great 
kcsmos, its various vessels and manifold appliances. Every 
one has its own use ; none can be dispensed with. Butter- 
flies, on the other hand, are the pictures on the walls, the 
little nic-nacs on the table, the bouquet in the vase. They 
are not for use, only for looking at. By this one point of 
entire uselessness butterflies are sharply separated even 
from moths. Most moths in their caterpillar state are good 



THE BUTTERFLY. 109 



for food. Some are soft and green, and these are the very 
staff of life to all the little soft-billed birds, the tailor-birds 
and sun-birds, and tits and warblers. Others are large and 
hairy, and these are in the thoughts of the harsh-voiced 
oriole, as it darts like a gleam of sunlight into the dark 
foliage of the tamarind-tree. Moth caterpillars have also a 
great office to perform in thinning too luxuriant vegetation. 
All through the teeming months of the monsoon, when 
grass and rank weeds and overgrown creepers are choking 
one another, and struggling for a place on the crowded 
earth, myriads of moth larvae, with the most miraculous 
appetites, are busy night and day eating them down. In 
this work the caterpillars of butterflies give little help, 
Butterfl es do not lay their eggs in the lump, like moths, 
but one here and one there, and the solitary caterpillars 
are too few to make much impression. And they are not 
good eating as a rule. Some are spiny, like the fretful 
porcupine, some protect themselves with an odour like the 
musk-rat, and some taste nasty at least, so the birds say. 
And as with the larvae, so with the perfect insect. Butter- 
flies enjoy a strange immunity from being eaten. They 
fall into spiders' webs at times, and lizards catch them if 
they can. My pet chameleon's ration is about half a dozen 



HO THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



per diem. But birds let them alone. On the morning after 
the first storm of the monsoon, as you walk through the 
wet grass, a large orange and grey moth will often rise like 
a quail before you. Scarcely has it left the grass, when, 
from his watch-tower on a dead tree, like an arrow from a 
bow, the king-crow is after it, and the loud snap of his beak 
tells that he has missed the moth ! But he wheels as 
quick as thought, and darts upon it a second time with 
surer aim, and now, with the large fluffy morsel in his beak, 
he is sailing leisurely back to his perch. But why does he 
make no attempt to catch the many small butterflies which 
flutter dreamily out of their sleeping-places, as you stir the 
grass and shake the bushes ? The green bee-eater too, on 
the telegraph-wire, does not seem to see the little orange- 
tip travelling feebly across the field, but next moment it is 
off in pursuit of a strong-winged bee. Perhaps the zigzag 
snipe-like flight of butterflies makes it well-nigh impossible 
to catch them, or else, because they have much wing and 
little body, birds may have long since come to the con- 
clusion that hunting them is " muckle cry and little 'oo'." 
However that may be, they form no appreciable part of 
the food of birds, and they have no other use that I know 
of. They are only made to be looked at. And shall we 



THE BUTTERFLY. tit 



not look at them ? One docs sometimes meet a man who 
will come into a drawing-room where every shade of colour, 
every ornament, the very placing of each book, tells of 
tasteful thought, and move about in it like a bullock, see- 
ing no more than he would see in a barn ; and many move 
about in the world in the same way. What an infinity of 
grace and beauty is lost on them ! I have seen a fosse of 
ladies almost disappear into raptures over a "quite too 
awfully delicious" specimen of a Christmas card, and I was 
constrained to add some corroborative ejaculations with a 
tepid effort at enthusiasm ; but who would put the prettiest 
conception in which art ever dressed a Christmas greeting 
beside that exquisite little butterfly which at this season 
flits over the barren plains of the Deccan, whose wings of 
velvet black and intense blue are bordered with peacock 
eyes of the richest red ? And every day thousands of them 
are born and perish ; for, like the bouquet on your table, 
these little decorations are constantly being renewed, so 
that they may ever be fresh and bright, and the old ones, 
almost before they have time to fade, are cast away. Few 
of them live much over a week. 

Looking at butterflies as ornaments, there is a good deal 
to note in the placing of them, for they are not like each 



H2 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



artist's own pictures in an exhibition, hung by that blun- 
dering committee just exactly in the worst possible light. 
Each kind knows full well how to show off its own peculiar 
beauties, and you may almost tell the habits of a new 
species from the arrangement of its colours. One struts 
and attitudinizes ; another adopts the neglige ' ; the wings 
of one droop with a lady-like languor ; another stands like 
a drill sergeant. The dusty twilight butterflies never open 
their wings except to fly, and if you catch one you will 
understand the reason. On the under side, which is seen 
when the wings are closed, there is no bright colouring, 
indeed, for gaudy hues do not suit the sombre shades of 
evening, but a weird blending of rich browns, or an ex- 
quisitely chaste and delicate tracery of wavy grey lines, 
with a bordering row of blue centred eyes ; but the upper 
surface, which would appear if the wings were open, is 
smoky brown. There are, moreover, many phases of cha- 
racter in the butterfly tribe, and here too the apparel oft 
proclaims the man. The innocent little whites and yellows, 
fluttering from flower to flower, hardly seem to think it is 
worth anybody's while to look at them. For another style, 
and a very different nature, take that large Bombay species, 
on whose wings of glossy black there are just four patches 



THE BUTTERFLY. 



of splendid blue, changing with every change of light; he 
is a beauty, and he fully knows it ! Every attitude declares 
the fact, as he basks in the noonday sun on some outstand- 
ing bianch, turning now this way, now that, slowly folding 
and unfolding his splendours, or darting from his station to 
chase away some rival beauty. Those who can may believe 
that this vainglorious little insect is a fortuitous concourse 
of atoms, moulded and modified by being for long ages the 
unconscious subject of some process of selection. I need a 
theory of the world with more soul in it. I cannot look at 
the glorious creature in its overweening vanity, and believe 
that there is no connection between the outward and the 
inward between the splendour and the pride. The one is 
the answer to the other, and if the beauty of that butterfly 
really developed, then it did so in harmony with the bent 
of an indwelling mind. Whatever theory of creation or 
development may prevail, the animal which I see will never 
be anything to me but the external expression of an in- 
dividuality which I do not see, but which is none the less 
real. 

Butterflies of some kinds especially those energetic 
greenish-white ones of the family surnamed callidryat are 
sometimes seized with a mania for emigrating to the far 



114 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



West. When this is on them, South Sea Bubbles, Bombay 
share manias, diamond fevers, gold-mine crazes, are tem- 
perate, judicious, and well-considered movements compared 
with their behaviour. Science has never settled what it is 
precisely that sets them a-going. It seems likely that 
something does this. What is quite certain, however, is, 
that when once set a-going, they keep going. I have stood 
near one of the parade grounds at Poona and watched 
them. With scarce a pause to rest their wings or sip a 
flower, from eight or nine o'clock until the afternoon, as far 
as eye could reach, the host kept streaming past, like the 
fugitive Gauls after one of Caesar's great battles. And in 
their fate, too, I fear they resembled those barbarian hordes, 
when a deep river at last barred their weary way, and they 
tumbled headlong, one upon another, into its reddening 
waters ; for I stood again another year beside the Bombay 
harbour, and watched the frenzied myriads hurrying from 
the mainland over Elephanta, and across the sea and over 
Bombay or Karinja for thbir direction was somewhat 
southerly and then ? Then, I suppose, over the sea, and 
on and on and on and on, until darkness settling down on 
them and their amazing strength at last ebbing away, they 
must have dropped into the waves, each one, as it fell, 



THE BUTTERFLY. 



creating and perishing in a small South Sea Bubble of its 
own ; and the fishes had a feast long to be remembered. 

I called the butterflies which are generally afflicted with 
this mania by the name of callidryas. I did not mean to 
be abusive, but I had no option. Indian butterflies have 
no names. Of course I have given them all names of my 
own for private use, and this is what each collector must 
do, or else make himself acquainted with the opprobrious 
epithets which naturalists have applied to them. Some of 
these seem to amount to defamation of character. Cahop- 
silia crocale ! Yphthima inica ! Plypanis ilytliia ! Pesio- 
neura ambaresa ! Horresco refer ens ! 




THE FROGS, 



December. 




THE columns of 
the Times of 
India I have 
had a public in- 
vitation from 
"Sarus" to des- 
cant upon frogs. 
I had thought 
tn pass the vile 
batrachians by, for I love them not. Besides, now is not 
their time. The hot sun has been boiling down the tanks 
until the infusion of frog is getting thick, and the water- 
snake grows fat on much to eat and little to do. So the 



THE FROGS. 



117 



bass voiced patriarchs of the tribe have dispersed to many 
secluded water-holes, or perhaps have buried themselves 
in the mud, and even the nimble small fry, skimming with 
many a hop, skip, and jump along the surface of the water, 
have much ado to save their lives from the fierce fish and 
the remorseless dJidman below, not to speak of the glut- 
tonous heron above. Of course imagination can body 
forth the vulgar forms of frogs, even when they are un- 
seen, and unheard, too, but it is not the same thing. They 
may stand out as clearly before the mind's eye, but they 
do not touch the feelings in the same way, and when the 
feelings are cold the vital principle of all eloquence is 
wanting. Were the rain at this moment dripping from 
the roof and gushing from the waterspout, and a concert 
of a hundred bassoons from the flooded paddy-field sound- 
ing in my ears, I could write on frogs. 

I believe the observations of " Sarus " are vitiated by 
the common mistake of confounding things which differ 
toto cceio from each other. To take, for instance, the frog, 
which he found on the top of a door, it is obvious that 
everything turns on the question : Had it, or had it not 
little round pellets on the points of its toes ? If it had 
not, then it ought to have been bottled in spirits, and sent 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



to the able and energetic secretary of some learned society, 
for a common frog which can climb to the top of a door 
ought to have an essay written on it. If it had, then it 
was only a tree-frog, a species which was rather a favourite 

with me until one evening 
last year. There were sev- 
eral of them about my 
house, and their gymnas- 
tics won my admiration. 
From a yard away they 
would fling themselves at 
a bedpost or a window- 
pane, and stick like a dab 
of mud, by virtue of those 
suckers on their toes. 
They would perch pleas- 
antly on the edge of the 
water cooja or on the rim of 
a tumbler. They seemed 
to gain little by all their performances, for their aspect was 
always famine-stricken and angular, and their colour, with- 
out being anything very definable, suggested the sere 
and yellow leaf. They slept all day, sticking like postage 




A QUONDAM FAVOURITE. 



THE FROGS. 



stamps to some window, and at evening went abroad in 
search of food, leaping from one perilous position to 
another about the railings of the verandah. 

On the particular evening above-mentioned I was sitting 
in the garden, trying to finish a very interesting chapter in 
a book before it got too dark to read at least, I imagine 
that was my occupation, but my memory about that period 
is almost a blank. Within a few feet of me there was a 
projecting sunshade, and on it clung an enterprising tree- 
frog. To him my head loomed like some forest-clad moun- 
tain against the grey sky, and he guessed there might be 
game up there. So he wound up his leaping springs, took 
good aim, allowed for the wind, and fired ! I do not know 
exactly where he aimed, but he hi; just behind my right 
ear, and, of course, stuck. Now, I hold that half the art of 
telling a story, as of preaching a sermon, lies in knowing 
when to stop, so I will stop ; suffice it to say, that since 
that evening I have admitted no exception to the general 
feeling of utter aversion with which I regard the whole 
race of frogs. 

To proceed to the so-called frog, which co:nes into the 
house and out- generals " Sarus " in his attempts to evict it, 
I know it well. It is not a frog at all, but a toad. The 



120 THE TR111ES ON MY FRONTIER. 



difference between the two is precisely the difference which 
there was in Mark Twain's jumping frog before and after 
the shot was administered to it. Touch a frog ever so 
tenderly with the point of a stick from behind, and it goes 
off as if it were sitting on gunpowder, and your stick were 
a lighted fuse. The stolid toad, on the other hand, meets 
every hint and every suggestion with a simple vis inertia, 
and an unwavering perversity and " contrairiness," which 
must triumph in the end. Now, when a man has made up 
his mind beforehand what his final opinion is to be, it is 
waste of time to dispute with him ; therefore I always 
clinch the argument at once with my toad. I bully him 
until he feels thoroughly affronted, and refuses to budge 
another inch, blowing himself up like an air-pillow, and 
snorting feebly by way of protest. Then I introduce the 
point of a springy cane under him, and simply shoot him 
out at the door. He takes it very ill, but I cannot help 
that. It would be mistaken kindness to let him delude 
himself with the notion that he is going to get what he 
wants in the house. I know exactly what it is. As the 
cold, dry, easterly winds begin to shrivel and crack his 
parched hide, it crosses his foggy brain in some dim way 
that a house must contain a lot of cool damp holes and 



THE FROGS. i 2 t 



corners, into one of which he may wedge himself, and pass 
the dry months in a state of torpor, conserving his vital 
juices till next monsoon. This is a proposal, of course, 
which cannot be entertained. He is all very well flattened 
out under a flower-pot or between the stones of a fernery ; 
but it is preposterous to suppose that he can be allowed to 
take up his winter quarters inside the house, and I think 
the most considerate course is to impress this on him be- 
fore he has crossed the very narrow line that separates 
his normal state from actual unconsciousness. 

For I have kindly feelings towards the toad; the density 
of his stupidity, and his placid contentment, make ill-will 
towards him impossible. Low-bred he is, but more than 
half the world must always be low-bred; there is no crime 
in that. No sane man pretends to despise another merely 
because he is low-bred; unless, indeed, he feels that his owr? 
high breeding stands in need of a contrast to make it 
visible. Ostentatious vulgarity is a very different thing 
and it is this that makes the frog an offence to me. He is 
for making a noise in the world. He will thrust his gross 
entity on your notice. If the rain, which damps everything 
else, only cheers the spirits of frogs, I have no objections ; 
let them be happy. But why must they, with their riotous 

9 



I?2 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

cacophony, proclaim the fact to the world, after the manner 
of '"Any"? 

Further, I have physiognomical objections to frogs. The 
aspect of them is an outrage. Every line of their gape- 
mouthed shallow-pated visages bears witness of general 
debasement, and an inordinate love of victuals. The little 
leopard-spotted water-frog is more tolerable ; but I am 
speaking of the gross overgrown bull- frog. After months 
of bleaching while it lay torpid, I suppose, in the ground 
it comes out to greet the monsoon all of one uniform 
gamboge yellow, and riots in the daytime. Then, when 
lusty health has restored it to a dark green hue, with a 
gaudy yellow line running down its back-bone, it leads an 
amphibious life, lurking among the rushes on the margin 
of some pool, and at the sound of your footstep taking a 
" header " into the water, with its legs, like the tail of a 
comet, behind it ; or, perchance, having tumbled, during 
some ill-fated spree, into a deep well, it expiates the crime 
of its appearance by a long life of solitary confinement, 
with no hope of release. The livelong day it is doomed 
to float at the surface of the water, vacantly gazing at 
heaven, with supplicating palms outstretched and fat thighs 
helqlessly pendulous in the clear liquid ; but sudden death 




FOR LIFE. 



92 



124 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



is oftener the frog's fate than imprisonment. Every one 
will call to mind the case of the young rip whose amorous 
career was cut short by the lily-white duck that gobbled 
him up ; and herons are worse than ducks, for they do not 
wait till he goes a-wooing, but stalk into his haunts, and 
from the far-darting serpent neck and scissor beak of a 
heron escape is hard. Then the marsh harrier pounces 
down among the rushes on the croaking veteran who had 
outlived these perils, and bears him away in its talons. 
But the arch-enemy is the dhdinan, or water-snake, and it 
is more cruel than the rest, for it takes an hour or two to 
swallow its victim. It is impossible to conceive a fate of 
more unmitigated horror than that of a frog being sucked 
down by a snake, its foot already undergoing digestion, its 
leg stretching all the way down the enemy's slimy throat, 
and its body slowly but surely following. Happily frogs 
cannot have much imagination, yet they must realize the 
situation to some extent, for they give expression to the 
anguish of their souls every few minutes in a wail so un- 
speakably woeful, that it would melt the hardest heart. It 
has often melted mine to such an extent, that I have gone 
out with my stick to slay the snake, and release the frog. 
Once I saw the tables turned. I was watching a wily 



THE FROGS. 



125 



r 



snake about two feet long gliding down into a lank, when 

a gigantic frog hopped up and swallowed its head. The 

snake protested with 

frantic wriggles, but 

the frog continued 

swallowing it down 

an inch or two at each 

gulp until half the 

snake was gone. By 

this time the other 

half became so violent 

that the frog could 

scarcely keep its feet, 

so for greater security 

it turned and plunged into its own element, and I saw it no 

more. Even this was beaten in audacity by a frog from 

whose stomach I, David like, redeemed the whole leg of a 

live chicken. The rest of the chicken was still outside, 

remonstrating clamorously. 

Of frogs for the table I have said nothing, having no 
experience, for I look upon it as cannibalism to eat them 
until the question has been finally decided whether we are 
more immediately descended from them or from monkeys. 




THE BUGS, 



camber. 




WORD bug is said to be de- 
rived from a Welsh and Gaelic 
root bivg, which is pronounced in 
some way, no doubt, by those who 
are to the manner born, and means a 
hobgoblin. Originally, therefore, a bug 
was a spectre, or an object of fear, and that meaning has 
been preserved in bugbear, bogie, and the verb to boggle. 
Tattie-bogles and bogus budgets are also, I take it, of the 
"same family. In following the course of this interesting 
root, a strong sidelight is thrown on our path by that most 
remarkable Indian nursery word bow, \\hich is obviously 
connected with the Gaelic bw or bwg, and means, as every 
Anglo-Indian baby knows, a dog, cat, spider, ghcst, the 



THF. BUGS. 



127 



devil, or anything of that sort. It is commonly in use 
among ayahs and bearers, to keep children in awe when 
they are disposed to be " nattee " i.e., disobedient and 
naturally all sorts of ugly insects come to be in practice 
the commonest sorts of " bows." That these were also the 
commonest kinds of bugs in England in the days of the 
Pilgrim Fathers I argue from the meaning which the word 
bears in the American language to this day. It was an 
American who described the elephant beetle as an "al- 
mighty big bug," and in that country, I understand, there 
are not only squash-bugs, potato-bugs, corn-bugs, &c., but 
bugs which spin us silk, and bugs from which lac and 
cochineal are obtained. In England, as we all know, the 
word has entirely lost both its primary meaning of a goblin 
and its second sense, in which it stood in a general way for 
any sort of insect, and is often confined not only to a sub- 
division of the order Hemiptera, but to one particular 
species of the genus ciwex, known to naturalists as Cimex 
lectularius. This is a fate to which words are very subject. 
Corn is no longer used in America for anything but Indian 
corn or maize, while in Scotland it has a more or less spe- 
cial application to oats. In England there are two or three 
peculiar birds which pass under the name of " ousel," as the 



I2 8 THE TRIBES O.V MY FRONTIER. 



water-ousel and the ring-ousel ; but it requires only half an 
eye to detect the connection of this word with oiseau, and 
infer that at first an ousel meant simply a bird. The words 
meat and fowl are other instances. An animal is coming 
to mean, among ladies especially, a beast, as distinguished 
from a bird or a fish. However, I am not philological, and 
have no intention of trying to trace the subtle causes which 
have combined to enable one seemingly insignificant and 
totally vulgar little insect to draw to itself the whole mean- 
ing of a wide word. To do so would take me over ground 
which it is my object to avoid. In fact, my only reason for 
alluding to the wider senses of the word " bug " is to dis- 
abuse any one who may hastily entertain the notion that 
my subject to-day is that particular species of cimex which 
Linnaeus has defined as Nocturnum foetidum animal. That 
is not one of the tribes on my frontier. 

When naturalists speak of bugs they mean a certain 
well-defined class of insects in which India is unhappily 
very fertile. Most people confound them with beetles 
which they resemble as much as a woodcock resembles an 
owl. All beetles have jaws, and chew their food, while 
bugs have only a tube, through which they suck liquid 
refreshments, just as sherry-cobbler used to be taken when 



THE BUGS. 



129 



it was the fashionable pick-me-up. Again, beetles pass 
their childhood and youth as grubs, and appear as full- 
blown beetles only when they come of age. A bug is 
always the same animal ; it comes out of the egg a bug, 
and when it grows to maturity it is only a bigger bug than 
it was before. But these are scientific distinctions. To the 
eye the most salient mark of a bug is a certain unmistak- 
able three-corneredness, or triangularity, in its build. Its 
head and neck are of one piece, triangular, resting like a 
pyramid on its square shoulders ; its body is exactly the 
shape of a three-cornered heraldic shield ; and, lastly, a bit 
of the point of each upper wing is generally of a different 
texture and colour from the rest, so that, when the wings 
are closed, a conspicuous triangular patch appears on the 
tail end of the offensive wretch. If the rest of it is flaring 
red, the tail will be black or blue ; if the rest is black, the 
tail may be golden yellow for bugs are great dandies. 
Another and even more pronounced point of difference 
between beetles and bugs is, that the last are highly aro- 
matic ; and this may have something to do with the notion 
of which they are so strongly possessed, that they consti- 
tute an excellent flavouring for soup. Louis Figuier says 
that some kinds of bugs have a bouquet resembling that 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



t>f apples ; I have not met with any of those kinds. The 
aroma which emanates from the varieties with which I am 
acquainted is of a sort that would, I imagine, have made 
Pharaoh succumb. Where they are collected in numbers 
it is enough to breed a pestilence ; and on a calm monsoon 
evening I have known some of the lanes round Dustypore 
so barricaded with the dense stench, that nothing short of 
a company of sappers, with picks and shovels, could have 
opened a passage through it. A single individual is most 
impressive when it is crushed, or tumbles into scalding 
soup. I knew a promising young man who took one with 
his soup ! I have felt ever since that I could give any 
price for a Book of Manners that would tell what a gentle- 
man at a dinner party should do under such circumstances. 
It might not strike one at first sight, but there are, 
nevertheless, degrees of abominableness, and I divide this 
whole family of proboscis-bearing, triangular, particoloured, 
and aromatic insects into three classes. The first place in 
order of unmitigated nauseousness I concede to a small 
black villain, with a glassy white patch on the tail, which, 
after heavy rain, invades the house. The tablecloth takes 
the colour of a flea-bitten grey, the lamp threatens to go 
out with a fizz, dinner has to be abandoned as a chimera, 



THE BUGS. 13 ! 

and when I seize my Shakespeare, in the extremity of my 
despair, and search for " To be or not to be," the foul 
suicides pop in between the leaves, unbeknown to me, and 
get flattened out into mementoes for coming days. Olim 
meminissc juvabit ! 

I give the second place to the dumpy green bug and the 
dumpy brown bug, which likewise swarm into the house 
during the monsoon, and consort with blister beetles an-d 
other bad characters. If there could be another first place 
they should have it. In the third rank all the rest may be 
included, viz., the large black wood-bug, which looks as if 
it would bite, or rather stick its stiletto into you, savagely, 
if you touched it, with the whole category of odious crimson 
and black dandies, and the tapering curiosities in yellow 
and brown, with pointed snouts. 

After all, to give the bugs their due, our judgment of 
them is founded upon a very casual acquaintance, and may 
be an unjust judgment. We see them once in a way, when 
the light of the lamp calls them together to plague us, but 
how little we know of their private lives ! They populatei 
in astonishing numbers, the trees of the jungle and the 
plants of the garden, and it may be that they are indus- 
trious and useful members of insect society. It may even 



132 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



be that the spicy odour they disseminate corrects in some 
imperceptible way the too sweet fragrance of the flowers. 
Our tasty curry biscuits are flavoured with assafcetida ; why 
may not our balmy breezes be seasoned with bug? I once 
thought they sought their own protection by creating a 
poisonous atmosphere around them ; but last October I 
found my little tame redstart eating up abomination 
number one above-mentioned with great gusto. When I 
say tame, I do not mean that the redstart is caged ; she is 
a voluntary boarder and lodger with me, and spends rier 
mornings for the most part at my feet or under my chair, 
quivering her tail as if she had ague, and picking up the 
crumbs I drop for her benefit. That this dainty little crea- 
ture, in her rusty brown dress and large black eyes, should 
poke about corners in search of last evening's bugs, surely 
illustrates the saying that there is no accounting for tastes. 
To return to the possible utility of bugs, most of them live 
on vegetable juices and bleed the trees, as the doctors used 
to bleed us for our health in the last generation. Some, 
however, are carnivorous, and impale caterpillars on their 
needle-shaped beaks. It was one of these that brought 
about the collapse of my Tusser-silk farm, when I started 
that industry for the first and last time two years ago. It 



fHE BUGS. 



133 



may seem incredible that a despicable brown bug, not half 
an inch long, should have the audacity to practise against 
the life of a silkworm as large as your little finger, in all its 
splendour of green and gold ; but the circumstantial evi- 
dence was not to be gainsaid. There was the shrunken 
corpse of the splendid spinner, and there, close by, was the 
criminal form of the skulking sinner. And I sighed for 
the American invention which proclaimed instant death 
to potato-bugs, and was perfectly innocuous to all domestic 
animals. This preparation was sold very cheap, in small 
packets which were not to be opened until required for 
use. When the customer opened the packet he found two 
square blocks of hard wood, on one of which were the 
directions for use : " Place the bug upon this block and 
press firmly with the other." Could I have placed those 
silkworm-murderers, one by one, upon the lower block, it 
would have given me uncommon pleasure to " press firmly 
with the other." 

It is not clear why I should be writing in December of 
an essentially monsoon plague. I was last at frogs, and 
perhaps the memory of their music took me back some 
months. Yet there is one large tribe of bugs which may 
be studied with advantage at this season, namely, the 



134 



THE TRIBES O.V My FRONTIER. 



water-bugs. The tanks are drying up, and in the dense 
weeds which crowd the stagnating water a skilful fisher 
with an old butterfly-net may make a good bag of 
villainous-looking water-scorpions and silvery "boatmen," 
with perhaps an occasional specimen of the Goliath of 
the race, three inches in length, and one at least in breadth 
of chest, with four vigorous oars to send it swiftly through 
the waters, and two muscular arms to hug the frogs and 
fish on which it feeds. It is not an inviting object to look 
at, any more than the rest of its kin ; but, nevertheless, 
water-bugs are not to be classed with land-bugs, for there 
are two things they never do they do not exhale vexa- 
tious odours, and they do not mistake the light of your eye 



for a candle 
twilight, and 
like a hail 
their vexa- 
squirt of acrid 
drop out 
youtofindyour 
again with the 




in the dim 
darting into it 
stone, express 
tion with a 
poison, and 
again, leaving 
way home 
other eye. 



135 



THE BIRDS OF THE GARDEN, 



Januarn. 




FOUR-FOOTED 
beasts are usually 
classed next to man 
and above the birds, 
on the ground of 
their superior organi- 
zation. To express 
it in a manner worthy of the closing quarter of the nine- 
teenth century, the "differentiation of function," or "phy- 
siological division of labour," is carried further in them. 
If this is as true as it deserves to be, then I hold that 
birds are amply compensated on the moral side of their 
nature, with respect to which they occupy a platform much 
above beasts. I mean that the cunent of their thoughts 



136 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



and imaginations runs at a higher level, and the passions 
and emotions which work in their bosoms are more noble. 
The difference shows itself at every point, but for an 
example let us take the manner in which birds conduct 
their love affairs. Watch two beau sparrows, genteelly 
dressed in black neckties and white shirt-fronts, making 
advances to the same belle. Wherever she goes, they 
wait upon her, like a couple of Frenchmen, bowing and 
scraping, chattering fulsome compliments, end vicing with 
each other in all sorts of little attentions. Sometimes 
they do come to blows, but this is the exception ; their 
effort is rather to excel erxh other in the arts of the draw- 
ing-room. She conducts herself in the somewhat trying 
situation with a tact and decorum which show how ex- 
quisitely modesty is blended with a due sense of her own 
worth. So much admiration and flattery beget in her no 
unseemly pride ; nor, on the other hand, does she forget 
her dignity, and make herself too cheap. She tries to 
appear unconcerned, and picks up grains of sand, pretend- 
ing that they are seeds. At last her choice is made, and 
she bestows her heart on one whose grace and gallant 
bearing have won it. Now look at the respectable senti- 
ments so plainly discernible here and try to conceive any 



THE BIRDS OF THE GARDEN. 



137 



four-footed beast being the subject of such. Or, again 
conceive an amorous quadruped pouring forth his passion 
in song. Every detail connected with birds and bird life 
illustrates the same thing. The art displayed in the nests 
in which they are cradled is as far beyond the thoughts of 
an average brute as the aesthetic advancement evidenced 
by the colours in which they are arrayed. Mr. Ruskin 
might be satisfied with the lives which birds lead. This 
superiority of bird over beast is admitted by the very way 
in which we use the words bestial and brutish. No man 
thinks of vilifying another by calling him birdish. But if 
it were not so evident as it is, I think there are d priori 
reasons for expecting the bird mind to be of a purer caste 
than that of the brute. The brute grovels above the 
ground, and the range of its vision is bounded by the 
grass and bushes among which it pokes its way. It leads 
a low earth-bound existence ; it is a serf a hereditary son 
of the soil. The bird upon the trees, or soaring in the 
sky, feeds its eye on the glories of the world stretched 
beneath it, and is constantly the subject of all those im- 
perceptible but potent influences of scenery and free air 
which make the man of the mountains a being of higher 

thoughts and prouder traditions than the man of the plains 

10 



I3 8 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

But, in addition to all this, I am not afraid to put for- 
ward the proposition that birds have really more intellect 
than beasts. The most scientific way to settle the matter, 
of course, would be by brain measurement, and I am 
pretty sure that birds have proportionally larger heads 
than any animals in existence except, perhaps, Scotch- 
men ; but my opinion is founded only on ordinary obser- 
vation and comparison. Taking the monkey, which I con- 
sider to be the most intelligent mammal, and comparing it 
with the parrot, which occupies a very similar place among 
birds, what a difference there is! In spite of all the acute- 
ness of our four-handed progenitor, who would hesitate to 
give the palm for solid brain power to the parrot ? A 
parrot commands your respect, because it makes you feel 
that it has a satisfactory reason for everything it does. 
Whether it is overturning its drinking-water, and peering 
over the side of its cage to see if the cold douche has taken 
effect on the head of the dog, or simply walking about 
examining the multifarious scraps strewed on the floor of 
its house, and pronouncing on their digestibility, or rasp- 
ing away any accessible woodwork, its proceedings are 
unmistakably the fruit of deliberate thought. Again, a 
parrot never forgets its dignity, and is in that unlike the 



THE BIRDS OF THE GARDEN. 



1 39 



monkey, which has no dignity to forget. You never catch 
it indulging in contemptible pranks or vulgar tomfoolery 
of any kind, nor in unworthy grimaces and contortions of 
the visage. Nor can you make a parrot look small or 
appear put out, unless by pulling its long tail. That does, 
indeed, try it. And all this is true, not only of caged 
parrots. The wild ones are constantly about my house, 
either chewing neem seeds, or exploring the roof for nest- 
ing quarters, or dealing at leisure with ears of j waree 
obtained in the neighbouring field, and I find them the 
same judicious birds as Polly. There is one on a rafter of 
the verandah at this moment. He has nothing particular 
to do, and is taking my measure with one eye, which gives 
a fine view of his side face a disc of vivid green, orna- 
mented on one side with a coral-red beak, half buried in 
comfortable black whiskers, and on the other side marked 
off from the neck by a narrow black collar, bordered with 
delicate pink. In the centre is that reasonable black eye 
of which I am the cynosure. I do believe he is counting 
my buttons, and considering whether it would be practi- 
cable to nip them off. Yes, the parrot is a sagacious bird. 
So are the mynas, which pace the verandah making 
quaint remarks, especially one with bells on its feet, which 

102 



1 40 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

belongs to the butler. When he calls it, it flies to him and 
settles on his head ; and when I call it, imitating the 
butler's voice as well as I can, it winks at me and says 
" Walker." I think mynas share with crows the second 
place after the green parrot. They have not its solid 

faculties, but they are 
as 'cute as Yankees. 
It is a question whether 
the king-crow equals 
these in intellect, but 
he leaves the whole 
bird tribe far behind 

in originality and 
W- 

for~e of character. Wherever he may be, he takes the first 
place as a matter of course. His jovial spirits and easy 
mastery of the situation are equally irresistible. He does 
not come into the house, the telegraph wire suits him 
better. Perched on it, he can see what is going on, and 
keep all the other inhabitants of the compound in order. 
He drops, beak foremost, on the back of the kite, levies 
the tribute of a feather from the passing crow, and jeers 
the blue jay as it goes rolling by, like a ship in a heavy 
swell, with a lazy flapping of its rainbow-coloured wings. 








OUTWITTED. 



THE BIRDS OF THE GARDEN. 



143 



Anon he spies a bee-eater capturing a goodly moth, and, 
after a hot chase, forces it to deliver up its booty. Should 
the skulking figure of a mungoose show itself, the stirring 
tones of his voice will rouse every bird in the garden, 
and send the abashed criminal helter-skelter back to its 
hole, under a perfect storm of public indignation. He is 
prudent, however, as well as dashing, and lets the Satbkai, 
or "Seven Brothers," alone. They are too shrewd and 
knowing to be made fun, of, and there is a clannishness 
among them which makes them dangerous. Among them- 
selves they will quarrel by the hour, and bandy foul 
language like fishwives ; but let a stranger treat one of 
their number with disrespect, and the other six are in 
arms at once. The Satbhai see as far through a stone 
wall as any birds, and the recollection of how they out- 
witted me about their nests when oology was my mania, 
keeps me humble to this day. They positively set up a 
fictitious nest for my benefit, and broke into a guffaw as 
they saw me climbing the tree. Each Presidency of India 
has its own branch of this strange family. Here they are 
brothers, and in Bengal they are sisters ; but everywhere, 
like Wordsworth's opinionative child, they are seven. 

These are a few, but only a few, of the birds ; and if 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



others have not the same intelligence and character, they 
all have merry voices and an unfailing supply of good 
spirits, and this makes them the best of neighbours. What 
an intolerable dulness would settle down upon the place if 
the eternal wagging of their little tongues could be stopped ! 
There is the hilarious bulbul plucking unwholesome berries, 
and the turtledove, in the middle of the road, cooing its 
devotion to a modest maiden, and the robin not redbreast 
cocking its tail over its head with a melodious observa- 
tion, and the plain tree-warbler, ever saying tick, like 
"grandfather's clock," only at longer intervals. There is 
also the golden oriole sometimes, and the harsh shrike 
always, and the diminutive sunbird gleaming with purple 
and green radiance, and earnestly twittering his feeble song 
as he explores the flowers for nectar, or collects scraps for 
his nest. The nest, which hangs from the end of a droop- 
ing bough, is intended to pass for a bunch of miscellaneous 
rubbish entangled in the remains of an old cobweb, and it 
will pass for that with most people. Clear and loud above 
all the voices of the concert sounds the to-whee, to-whee, 
to-ivhee, of the tailor-bird, a most plain-looking little greenish 
thing, but a skilful workman and a very Beaconsfield in the 
matter of keeping its own counsel. Aided by its indus- 



THE BIRDS OF THE GARDEN, 



'45 



trious spouse, it will, when the monsoon comes on, spin 
cotton, or steal thread from the dursee, and sew together 
two broad leaves of the laurel in the pot on your very 
doorstep, and when it has warmly lined the bag so formed 
it will bring up therein a large family of little tailors, 
without giving you the least intimation of its proceedings. 
At present it is burdened with no such cares, but still it is 
always busy, hopping from bush to bush, and prying with 
its sharp eyes for spiders and little green caterpillars, 
from morning to night seeking the means of its liveli- 
hood, with just enough of motion and excitement in the 
work to banish thought ! It would be difficult to conceive 
a healthier or happier life, where the power of thought is 
small. 

But, perpetually happy as a bird is, it is familiar with 
narrow escapes, and never knows what an hour may bring 
forth. How often, when all is going merry as a marriage 
bell, does the shrill cry of a watchful rat-bird give warning 
that death is at hand, and its fellows dart for their lives 
into the grass, the little birds of all kinds rush into hiding, 
the bush-quail lies still as a stone, and the parrots are away 
on the wind, leaving a chain of shrieks behind them. Then, 
silent and swift, the hawk glides up, perches on a branch, 



146 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



and glares about it ; for a minute or so it waits to see if 
any silly bird will leave its shelter, but a hawk's blood is 
hot and its patience small, so it is soon away to try a sur- 
prise elsewhere. No sooner is it gone than a rat-bird puts 
out its head and whistles, and in half a minute all is as 
lively as if nothing has happened. Birds are light-hearted 
things. 




147 



THE BIRDS AT THE MANGO TOPE, 



January. 




ke ride of the station. 
In a country where, 
look in what direction 
you may, the eye meets 
one unvarying expanse 
of plain, scantily 
c'othed in the yellow 
traces of last monsoon's 
verdure, and dotted 
with scrubby babul- 
bushes, it is certainly 
a grand idea that 
giant mango-trees 

should collect into patches, and have under them a well and 
a small temple. These patches, it is true, are like angels' 



148 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

visits, but where there is one all the country knows it. And, 

indeed, what would the country do without it ? Where would 

the dusty wayfarer stop to eat his midday chuppattee and 

drink a draught of cold water, or where would the collector 

pitch his tent ? Into the dark penetralia of that pleasant 

resthouse the sun has no" for ages forced his way, and 

a perennial coolness broods there. No one can tell you now 

who built the small chapel and planted the tope, nor what 

wickedness it was that he thought thus to expiate ; but his 

was a misguided penitence, I fear, for he has taught future 

generations to be grateful that he sinned. However, I would 

judge him in no illiberal spirit. Whatever his motives may 

have been, estimate him by his deeds, and he ranks, I say, 

with those other two great men who have been through the 

mango-tree lasting benefactors of their race. I mean that 

Fires and that Alphonso, whose names seem to have come 

down to us in the luscious t>eirie and the delicate afoos. I 

yield to none in reverence for these names. I would not 

lend a book to the man who refuses a Bombay mango. At 

the same time I think it is a question whether the stunted 

timberless tree which produces the luxury of Bombay has 

gained or lost in its descent from the veteran of the tope, 

with its trunk, ten feet in girth, towering towards heaven 



THE BIRDS AT THE MANGO TOPE, 



149 



like " the mast of some great ammiral," and its wealth of 
shade and coolness. To the unsophisticated ryot it is no 
question. He conceives that cultivation could only emas- 
culate the pronounced flavour and firm fibrous texture of 
that prince of fruits, the wild mango, likest a ball of tow 
soaked in turpentine. The parrots are of the same mind, 
and competition is so keen between them that all the hot 
season a big-turbaned urchin of preternatural powers of 
throat and lung is appointed guardian of the tope. Like 
Mr. Onoocool Chunder Mookerjee,* he is " filamentous" as 
to his limbs, but his middle part is unduly distended, and 
this convicts him in my judgment of living on the green 
mangoes which it is his duty to guard. But let him pass. 
At this season our ears are safe from the irruption of his 
frenzied yells, and our lives from jeopardy by his sling- stones. 
The road to the tope is what the natives call a sudduk 
that is, a layer of dust more or less deep, generally more, 
and just wide enough not to allow two bullock-carts to cross. 
It lies over a barren plain, with here a cotton-field, and there 
a stubble-field, but all the way the keen morning air is astir 



* The reader is earnestly advised to procure the Life of this gentleman 
written by his nephew, and to read it. 



THE TRIBES O\ 7 MY FRONTIER. 



with the voices of the birds. To my mind the birds are half 
the scenery everywhere, and more than half on an Indian 
plain. The view addresses the eye, and the birds address the 
ear, and the two should work together. The man whose ear 
is untaught to enjoy the harmonious discord of the birds, 
walks alone when he might have company, and loses half 
the joys of travel and change of scene. In the pigeonholes 
of my memory many a glorious gallop over the plains of the 
Deccan is tied up in the same bundle with the joyous out- 
pourings of the skylark, and the long whistle of the black- 
breasted lark, as it rises and falls again with closed wings, 
and the monotonous voice of that strange bird which flies a 
few feet up into the air, and then spreads its rufous wings, 
and comes down like a parachute, revolving slowly as it 
descends. The loud wranglings of the satbhai are there too, 
more clamorous than usual. I suspect an eighth brother 
from some disrupted family has fallen among them. If the 
crops were still uncut there would be the chattering of a 
thousand jowaree birds or rosy starlings, broken by impo- 
tent execrations from the mucJiari* in the middle of the field ; 
but the crops are cut, and I do not know where the jowaree 

* A high platform from which a man watches the field. 



THE BIRDS AT THE MANGO TOPE. 



153 



birds have gone. Death is at work too, for many a blue- 
grey harrier comes over the hedges and across the fields, 
gliding on its long black-tipped wings as if that easy motion 
were its normal state its inertia. It is the feeblest of the 
hawk kind, but gifted with a miraculous power of stopping 
in full flight, and dropping like a drop of rain on a young 
lark or incautious lizard. The kestrel is plotting against 
the same feeble folk, but it is up in the air, and motionless 
as a cloud on a hot day, save for the rapid flapping of its 
sharp pinions. If you are out with the sun, as everybody 
should be in India, you will certainly meet the guilty jackal 
on his way home, and he will sit down, with his usual im- 
pudence, to look at you. The little foxes stay out gambol- 
ling till a much later hour, and the jerboa rats, whose holes 
have riddled the ground like a nutmeg-grater, come out and 
sit up on their hind legs, pretending to survey the country. 
It is all a sham. Rats cannot see any more than rabbits, 
and would have been extinct long ago but for their sharp 
ears. 

But my trusty steed, Sir Richard, pricks up his ears and 
quickens his pace : we are drawing near the tope. When 
a horse goes out, it likes, just as much as its rider, to have 

a definite terminus ad quern, and there is none better than 

II 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



a mango tope. It is visible a long way off, and audible 
too, for it resounds with the screams of the green parrots, 
as they wheel in circles round it, or all, with spreading 
tails, settle at once on the topmost twigs, a spectacle of 
inimitable grace. There are no mangoes now, but this is 
the breeding season with parrots, and in the gnarled 
boughs of an old mango-tree there are always holes. For 
the same reason mynas seek the tope, and the " blue jay," 
so called, and the little green "copper-smith" hooting 
ventriloquistically. This does not exhaust the list, for, as 
you pass under a large tree, a very round face, with the 
expression of Mr. Punch, looks out of a hole, and then a 
little spotted owl flits silently to the lowest bough of an- 
other tree. In two seconds it is joined by another, and 
there the two sit and bob their heads and stare at you, and 
go through a pantomime which would ruin the reputation 
for sanity of any other bird than an owl past all redemp- 
tion. I am sure there is some mistake about this spotted 
owl. The owl proper of the poets is distinguished for 
solemnity : this is a madcap. Tennyson's owl sits alone 
and warming his five wits ; this sits in twos and has not 
five wits to warm, or I am much mistaken. Shakespeare's 
owl sings to-whoOy and likewise the one that Wordsworth's 



THE BIRDS AT THE MANGO TOPE. 



155 



idiot boy took for a cock ; this squeaks and jibbers like a " 
ghost in the Roman streets. Yet it is impossible to get 
rid of the impression that the spotted owlet is not such a 
fool as it looks. Let us say it is eccentric. In this same 
tope there is, however, though it will not let you see it, a 
bird or feathered spectre of some sort, which fully restores 
the owlish reputation, for it out-'owls (no pun) every owl. 
Its voice carries melancholy to a depth of abysmal dole- 
fulness which the ear must hear before the mind can image 
it. What a power of conceiving unutterable anguish must 
lie in the bosom which can express itself so ! The natives 
say the devil is in the bird, and they will not go near the 
place at night. 

The tope has on one side of it a sort of suburb of bore 
and babul-trees, mixed with a little scrubby underwood, 
and this affords shelter to some birds which could not find 
sustenance or a congenial habitation among the mango- 
trees. For instance, there is that ungainly object the 
coucal, crow-pheasant, jungle-crow, or whatever else you 
like to call the miscellaneous thing as it clamours through 
a creeper-laden bush, or spreads its reddish-bay wings, and 
makes a slow voyage to the next tree. To judge by its 
appearance only, it might be a crow developing for a pea- 

II 2 



156 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

cock, but its voice seems to have been borrowed from a 
black-faced monkey. There are some strange oddities 
among birds. This same crow-pheasant has a second or 
third cousin called the koel, which deposits its eggs in the 
nest of the crow, and has its young brought up by that 
discreditable foster-parent. Now, this bird supposes that 
it has a musical voice, and devotes the best part of the 
night to vocal exercise, after the manner of the nightingale. 
You may call it the Indian nightingale, if you like. There 
is a difference, however, in its song, the burden of which 
seems to be who-are-you, who-are-you, who-are-you, while 
the tune is a crescendo scale running right through the 
compass of the bird's voice. When it gets to the very top 
of its pitch, its voice cracks, and there is an end of it, or 
rather, there is not, for the persevering musician begins 
again. You may wonder what pleasure it finds in this, but 
why should any one conclude that it is seeking its own 
pleasure and not rather ministering to ours ? Does not 
the Maratha novelist, dwelling on the delights of a spring 
morning in an Indian village, tell how the air' was filled 
with the dulcet melody of the koel, the green parrot, and 
the peacock ? 

I must pass by the rosy-breasted little minivet, with its 



THE BIRDS AT THE MANGO TOPE. 



bevy of plainly-dressed wives; the paradise flycatcher, with 
half a yard of white satin ribbon for a tail ; the too noisy 
grey partridge and the screaming pied cuckoo ; and many 
more, for now the sun is getting hot. A warm ride home, 
a cold tub, and a breakfast qualified with no other stimulant 
than high spirits and good tea : this is the receipt for 
keeping mens sana in sano corpore through the day. Ex- 
perto crede ! 




158 



THE BIRDS AT THE TANK, 



Jtbntarg. 




HEN I go to the tank I 
am generally on mur- 
derous thoughts intent. 
I go, therefore, gun in 
hand, with my aide-de- 
camp, the sagacious 
Hubshee, at my heels. 
He is called the Hubshee (videlicet, 
Abyssinian), I may say parentheti- 
cally, because his curly coat is as 
black as King Theodore. Readers of 
The Field have had abundance of in- 
struction lately about the way to suit 
yourself with a gun. You are to go 
to your gunmaker, and try a dozen or two of guns, until 



THE BIRDS AT THE TANK. 159 

you find a weapon that fits your figure, then experiment 
with it before a looking-glass, or fire at a target, and if the 
result is not satisfactory, send it back to your gunmaker, 
and have the stock made shorter or longer, straighter or 
more crooked, until the fit is perfect. There have been 
also plenty of directions (mostly contradicting each other) 
about the using of the guri : how to hold it, how to aim, 
how many of your eyes to shut when you fire, &c. We go 
about things in a different way in India, at least we have 
done so since the pagoda-tree withered away. Instead of 
repairing to "our gunmaker," we mount our nag and find 

our way to where the broad signboard of jee jee, 

Europe Shopkeeper, Auctioneer, and Commission Agent, 
spreads itself before a dilapidated museum of secondhand 
tongas, perambulators, tents, and tatoos, and there we con- 
tend with the bland Mr. jee for the gun which Lieu- 
tenant Smith, ordered off to Kandahar, has left to be sold 
for whatever it will fetch. Bearing our prize home, I do not 
say that we consult our chum as to whether the powder 
or the shot should be put in first, but we pick up know- 
ledge where we can find it, and the griffin, who perhaps 
never handled a gun until he came to India, may in a 
wonderfully short time have developed into a keen shik- 



j6o THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

aree and bold tiger-slayer. Instead of having the stock 
altered to suit us, we contrive to suit ourselves to the 
stock ; and as to those knotty questions about holding the 
gun, shutting your eyes, &c., if all such matters do not 
come to a man of themselves by the time he has blown 
away three or four thousand cartridges, he may as well sit 
down at once and disabuse himself of the notion that 
nature designed him for a Nimrod. If our method is not 
very scientific, the deficiency is atoned for by practical 
success. Few countries have produced more renowned 
shikarees than India. Here in Dustypore the mutton- 
butcher is said to be filing his schedule in the Court for 
the protection of insolvent debtors. 

To return to the tank : it seems doubtful whether we 
shall get there. Not being so green as I was, I let the 
tempting herd of antelopes pass, but the kttllum I cannot 
resist. They are feeding in thousands at the other end of 
a large field, and to reach them it will only be necessary to 
crawl round behind the hedge for a quarter of a mile or so. 
The hedge is about a foot high, so my gait must be that 
to which the serpent was doomed and this to a man by 
nature six feet high is exactly the opposite of otium cum 
dignitate. But what will one not do, with roast kullum 



THE BIRDS AT THE TANK. 



looming in the vista of the future ? The only serious diffi- 
culties are two wide gaps in the hedge, where there are 
only three blades of grass and a small stone to shelter the 
stalker, and, having successfully negotiated these, I go on 
swimmingly up to the corner of the field, within five 
minutes' crawl of my goal, and then discover, for the first 
time, that a small party of kullum are on my side of the 
hedge, and will see me the instant I turn the corner. It is 
clear I should have gone round the opposite side of the 
field and nothing remains but to do so now. I know no 
way of putting down upon paper the tedium of wriggling 
along the ground on your belly for a quarter of an hour, 
and then wriggling back to your first point, for the sake of 
starting on a fresh wriggle in the contrary direction ; but 
if I did, it would do no good, for the reader would still be 
as far as ever from realizing the peculiar sensations with 
which, at the end of it all, you take in the fact that ths 
kullum are not, as you thought, thirty yards from the 
hedge, but about a hundred and thirty, and that you have 
got nothing for your pains but lumbago. It only exas- 
perates my temper to lie and watch them moving slowly 
about in all the gracefulness of their long drooping plumes 
and silky-white ear-tufts, so I rise and show myself, and in 



1 64 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

a moment, with that clamour which a thousand kullum 
can raise, they are up and away, gradually falling into the 
figure of a V, each limb of which seems a mile or so in 
length. 

Late as it is I must go on to the tank, for before starting 
I magnificently told my " boy " to bring no bazaar to-day. 
The tank is not far, and soon I hear mingled voices and 
much quacking. Each kind of duck has its own notion 
about tanks. Among the rushes of the far-reaching sheet 
of shallow water, where countless teal and pintails revel, 
you will not hear the whistle of the genteel little widgeon, 
and where you shot the splendid spotted-billed duck in 
January there will be only the gaudy vulgar shoveller in 
March. This tank is just now the fashionable resort of the 
gadwall and the pintail, and, as these are two of the com- 
monest (and most savoury) duck in the country, it is in- 
deed " a sight for sair een." On each side there is a bund 
crowded with babul and dense bushes, so it is possible to 
lie in ambush and get a quiet view of one of the most won- 
derful scenes of busy life to be seen anywhere the duck 
jostling one another for room, some swimming peacefully 
in the deep water, but most in the shallow parts, reaching 
down their beaks to the muddy bottom until nothing 



THE BIRDS AT THE TANK. 



appears above the water but a dense squadron of pointed 
tails, the spoonbills trotting in solemn line, and moving 
their heads from side to side, the shrill-toned greenshanks 
mingled with stilts and sandpipers and godwits round the 
margin, the ibises, the herons, grey and white, the pelican- 
ibises, or " beefsteak birds," the storks, all engaged in a 
general scramble for breakfast, with a Babel of gruntings 
and snortings, quackings and croakings, screamings and 
pipings, that would need for its description the vocabulary 
of the poet who tells " how the waters came down at Lo- 
dore." Away on the other side there is a mighty fleet of 
snowy pelicans majestically sailing on the water, and many 
more are basking on the bank. 

If all these were only birds, and not game, I could lie 
and contemplate them by the hour. As the case stands 
my pleasure at the sight is alloyed with a sense of incom- 
pleteness or imperfection. While those duck are still on 
the water, they seem to come short of their end, which 
obviously includes some reference to my dinner to-night. 
And how to bring that end nearer is a question with as 
yet a very dim answer, for there is not a bird within range, 
and if once I show my head above the bank, some wary 
watchman will give a warning which all the rest will under- 



1 66 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

stand. This perplexity however does not last longer than 
till the moment when some turn of events gives a chance for 
the first shot. Then, with a tumultuous hubbub, the whole 
company rises, and, while the rest disperse, the duck keep 
wheeling round and round with amazing speed. It is a case 
of load and fire, load and fire as fast as a breechloader will. 
The judicious Hubshee sits wondering what all the fusillade 
is about, and with some reason, for, if the truth must be 
confessed, I find that duck have a most unaccountable way 
of not coming down when shot. When at last a graceless 
shoveller falls with a splash, he is in after it, and though 
it has life enough left to try a dive, the gallant dog comes 
of too good a stock (his father was the peerless Kootab- 
un-deen) to relinquish the chase until he has pulled it out 
by a foot, and safely deposited it on the grass. He does 
not stay to mouth it, but plunges into the water for the 
next and the next. In a few minutes all is over. The 
duck have gone off to other tanks, and nothing remains 
but to realise the bag. If this includes bringing to book 
a wounded gadwall, it may be the chief part of the morn- 
ing's work. The bird will take three charges of No. 5 with 
the utmost complacency, and then, when it thinks the 
thing is becoming monotonous, it will disappear in open 



THE BIRDS AT THE TANK., 167 

water before your eyes, like a Cheshire cat, leaving a 
ripple instead of a grin. The Hubshee is checkmated now, 
but I have another ally, whose deep brown form and white 
forehead I see afar as it comes gliding along by the reedy 
margin of the tank in search of a basking frog. It is the 
marsh harrier, which thoughtless people shoot at because 
it is too fond of carrying off a wounded teal when it can. 
I discovered its value some time ago, and have encouraged 
it since. Suddenly its sharp eyes discover something 
among the rushes about thirty yards from where my gad- 
wall vanished. It comes swiftly down, and drops on the 
spot. A loud quaick and a splash ! It rises, circles slowly 
round, and again plunges among the rushes at another 
place. A third and fourth time it does the same, and then 
it does not rise. The diving powers of the poor duck are 
exhausted, and it is safe in the talons of the hungry 
harrier. I have only to go round and put him up, and 
seize my booty, which has just enough of life left to allow 
Peer Khan to make it halal, by cutting its throat in the 
name of Allah, and dividing the webs of its feet* Poor 
bird ! It seems a cruel end to come to. Yet the cruelty 

* See Leviticus xi. 3. 



1 68 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

is mostly in seeming. A near acquaintance with living 
creatures enforces the conviction that sorrow and suffering, 
as we know them, scarcely have an existence in the animal 
world ; while happiness, the pure joy of mere existence, 
bubbles up and flows on in an unintermitting stream. " The 
sense of death is most in apprehension," and from this the 
poor beetle that we tread upon is wholly delivered by a 
merciful want of imagination. It knows of nothing except 
the physical pain which accompanies death, and knows of 
that only while actually enduring it. Without doubt, being 
torn to pieces by a tiger is to a wild animal a fate less 
dreadful than to succumb slowly to fever or old age; and, 
looked at wisely, it is a cheering thought that, of the many 
birds every sportsman inevitably wounds and leaves to die, 
few indeed will escape from the host of rapacious enemies 
ever on the watch to put them to a short and sharp, if a 
bloody, end. 

Fear also has very little effect in distressing animals. 
Hairbreadth escapes do not take away their breath. 
A miss of an inch is quite as good as a mile to them. 
I had a tame hare which would be thrown into such a 
panic of fright by the rustling of a piece of paper, that 
it would almost dash itself to death against the sides 



THE BIRDS AT THE TANK. 



of its cage ; then suddenly it would stop short and nibble 
at a piece of bread. 

To return once more to the tank : it is strange how little 
all the shooting concerns those birds which know they are 
not game. The coots and dabchicks are sailing peacefully 
about, the splendid wire-tailed swallow is skimming along 
over the water, the speckled kingfisher is hovering high in 
air, as if nothing had happened, and every few minutes 
dropping like a stone upon some fated fish. The strange 
bottle-nests of the weaver birds, hanging in dozens where 
the babul-trees droop over the water, seem to add to the 
peacefulness of the scene, deserted as they are now by 
their chattering proprietors. In grim contrast to the whole, 
upon a low boundary-mark in the background sits a huge 
imperial eagle, bolt upright, and almost too proud to get 
out of the way for me. All through the season and for 
many seasons that has been its morning station, and on 
the ground around it are strewn bones and large white 
feathers of herons or spoonbills, with a few bright rosy 
plumes which may have adorned a luckless flamingo, 
While I was contemplating all this, suddenly there was a 
rushing sound in the air overhead, and a flock of duck 
came down with such lightning speed that no gun could 

12 



170 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

have followed them, and tumbled like a storm of hail into 
the water all but the last. It checked itself, and with a 
most graceful curve glided up to the top of a small tree 
and sat there, and lo ! it was a hawk, the peregrine falcon, 
the most bloodthirsty of all the wild duck's foes. It can 
do nothing now, unless I with my gun force them to leave 
the water again, and, humanity apart, I have too much 
respect for my own feelings to do that. 

Now, lest sporting Bombayites choke the columns of the 
Times of India with inquiries regarding the whereabouts of 
Dustypore, its proximity to the line of railway, and the 
best way of getting to the tank, I think it proper to say 
that Dustypore is almost everywhere, and the particular 
tank I have described is nowhere. It is purely a figment 
of my brain, constructed of materials drawn from a multi- 
tude of actual or possible tanks. The materials are genuine 
I did not make them ; but they are the cream skimmed 
from much whey of unsuccessful toil and curds of disap- 
pointment. If anybody thinks to inherit them by the 
simple process of taking a ticket at the Byculla station, 
why, he is mistaken. I could describe the sort of tank he 
will get to, and his possible experience there, but nobody 
would read the account. 



THE BIRDS AT THE TANK. 



171 



N.B. I have applied the word kullum, as everybody 
does, to the demoiselle crane, which, however, is not pro- 
perly the kuUtim, but the koonja. 




122 



172 



THE POULTRY- YARD, 



Jtbritarg. 




be 



1 

VI 



argue 

that you might 
as well call our Aryan 
brother himself a frontier tribe 
the domestic moorgce ; but I do not see 
parallel. I regard the moorgee as an 
aborigine. If you were talking of cum- 
brous brahmas, or shapely Dorkings, or 
other artificial productions, the argument might 
stand ; but what have these to do with that little game 
bird on which Europeans in the district mainly subsist a 
small brown creature with a very large tail which catches 



THE POULTRY-YAK D. 



173 



the wind like a sail, with plenty of feathers and no flesh, 
and weighing about three-quarters of a pound ? In calling 
it a game bird I do not mean that sahibs shoot it, for it- 
lives much about villages, like the peafowl in Guzerat, and 
its semi-domesticated habits almost preclude its being shot 
for sport ; but it is much hunted by Goanese and Madras 
cooks, who pursue it with stones and short sticks thrown 
boomerang-wise. It runs amazingly and flies well, and 
affords excellent sport. It cannot be said to have a high 
game flavour ; in fact, it has a decidedly low flavour, the 
result of vicious tastes. 

I once used to keep a stock of these birds as a substitute 
fir domestic fowls, but I have given them up. I cannot 
stand their ways. It is not that they will eat all you give 
them, and hang about the cook-house for scraps besides, 
yet absolutely refuse to grow fat ; it is not that when they 
do, once a quarter, contribute to your breakfast nine or ten 
muddy-coloured eggs, and you essay to try one, you have 
to institute a search with your spoon in the depths of the 
egg-cup for the minute globule ; it is not that when you 
do obtain it, it is redolent of garlic and wild flavours. It 
is none of these. The last straw which breaks the camel's 
back of my patience is that t as soon as she has produced 



174 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

half a dozen or so of these things, the indigenous moorgee\s 
seized with a violent ambition to hatch them. From that 
time forth she will appropriate other hens' eggs wherever 
she finds them ; in default of these she will incubate a 
corner of the hen-house, and, if you shut her out, she will 
sit dhitrna at the door. Plunging her into water five times 
a day does not damp her philoprogenitiveness. The cook 
sticks a long feather in her nose, and, when she has worn 
the ornament for a few weeks, it is supposed to turn her 
mind off incubation. Even the moorgee, however, is acted 
upon to some extent by good upbringing and generous 
fare. It improves her size, and gives her a comfortable 
motherly look quite foreign to the bird in its natural state. 
I keep a few of these civilized specimens for hatching and 
rearing purposes. Pedro, the cook, also maintains a small 
establishment of them on his own account, and, so far from 
suffering by my competition, he seems to reap a double 
advantage from it. In the first place, his fowls cost him 
nothing for food, and, in the second, explain it how you will, 
the chickens he rears have all the qualities of my best hens. 
It does seem strange that the offspring of a skinny little 
dirt-coloured moorgee should be the very image of a Dork- 
ing just imported from England, the pride of my poultry- 



THE POULTRY-YARD. 



'75 



yard ; but I suppose it is a sort of lusus natures. Another 
phenomenon is that, if I, growing suspicious, issue an edict 
that he shall not keep poultry in my compound, n ine begin 
to die off. Bowing to the inevitable, therefore, I make a 
compromise, permitting him to keep a limited number which 
are hostages for the health of mine. If a wild cat commits 
ravages night after night among my poultry, choosing, with 
the eye of a judge, all the best birds, and carrying them off 
silently, without leaving a feather to mark its course, then I 
hold a Naval Demonstration at once, firing off a prodigious 
amount of blank cartridge, to the effect that by this time 
to-morrow not one feather of the cook's stock shall be 
seen on my premises. At once the wild cat discontinues 
its visits, and things go well again, and Pedro's poultry 
are not banished. 

Thus it comes about that in my compound there is 
rather a mixed population. The time to make acquaint- 
ance with them is early in the morning when Pedro 
emerges with a platter full of grain, and, standing in an 
open place, cries, with the voice of a herald, Ah, Ah, Ah! 
The stirring cry of "house on fire" in a great city has not 
the magic power of those three syllables in a poultry-yard. 
The fat foreign hen starts at the sound, and runs faster 



176 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

than is good for her ; the lean native fairly takes to her 
wings like the guinea-fowls ; the ducks tumble along with 
a great deal of both leg and wing action ; the portly tur- 
key trots like a baggage camel ; the pigeons come down in 
a cloud ; and, at last, the sitting hen leaves her very eggs 
and rushes out with much ostentatious clucking. Even 
Impudence, the kid while yet he was knew the sound, 
and scampered down, his long ears dancing, to pick 
up grains of gram. Not that I feed my fowls on gram ; if 
they are to be fed on any one grain, let it be paddy ; but 
there is a mixture, consisting of the sweepings of the 
threshing-floors, sold under the name of mattra, and where 
this can be had I recommend it. It is cheaper than any 
single kind of grain, and contains a variety which is most 
wholesome. The pigeons find among it moog and mut, the 
peas that their souls love ; the fowls can have their choice ; 
while for the young chickens there is bajree, with other 
small grains. So they scramble like children for sweeties, 
hitting one another, roaring out when hit, or passing it on ; 
and all the while feeding against time. The master of the 
ceremonies is that red kullum cock, named the Sergeant. 
The kulhim, or game fowl, is the only breed in this part 
of India at least to which any attention has been paid ; 




THE SERGFANT, 



178 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



others grow, like Topsy ; but cock-fighting Mussulmans 
have really brought the kullum to great perfection. And 
the Sergeant is a kullum of the kullums. He is commonly 
considered hideous, for he is " caviare to the general," and 
it requires an educated eye to discern his beauties. He 
stands twenty-five inches high, and a plummet from his 
chin would drop on his toes. His head is very red, with a 
fleshy knob for a comb, his deep-sunk eyes are fiery, his 
legs are very pillars of Hercules, his covering is more like 
fishes' scales than the plumage of feathered fowls, and so 
scanty, that after dinner it parts in front and displays a 
patch of naked redness, but it shines with the richest 
purple gloss. I could make my fortune by betting on him 
but that he suffers, aristocratic bird that he is, from gout ; 
for I do not believe he ever turned his back on a foe. Fear 
is a state with which he is not acquainted. When he is 
pecking at a bone, the Hubshee looks on from a distance 
and breaks the Tenth Commandment, but dare not touch 
the bone. When the kid thrust his impudent nose into the 
grain-dish the Sergeant smote him between the eyes. But 
the most striking feature of the noble bird is dignity, that 
inalienable dignity which is an inheritance. Being unable 
to compete at feeding-time with the more nimble chickens 



THE POULTRY-YARD. 



179 



he comes to the back door for his special allowance, and 
waits like the ckupprassis ; only his martial figure is not to 
be mistaken for that slouching satellite, and he does not 
cough to attract my attention ; he just stands and com- 
mands respect. If you offer him anything, he advances 
and accepts it like a gentleman. He seems to weigh about 
half a maund, weight of character included. 

To descend to meaner things, there are some comely 
Bussorah fowls, large and deep-bodied, with bright eyes 
and crested heads. These are the main body of my 
establishment, for my experience is that, from a utilitarian 
point of view, no hen obtainable in India compares with 
the Bussorah. The kullum is tasty after death, but during 
life it is quarrelsome and delicate. English fowls succumb 
to the climate. Bussorahs are strong and healthy, flourish 
in dust and heat, lay eggs, not homoeopathic pilules, and 
do not insist on hatching them. In point of mind and 
character they are like all other fowls, stupid and devoid 
of individuality, each one a copy of the rest. The chief 
exception, after the Sergeant, is Marco Polo, a sprightly 
chicken of four months, which from ils very infancy has 
displayed a most ardent passion for travel and exploration. 
In the heat of the day, when others are resting open- 



i8o 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



mouthed wherever they can find a little shade, it is away 
in some distant corner, making discoveries amongst the 
roots of the prickly-pear hedge, and late in the evening, 
when the rest are in bed, it returns from a long expedition 
in the fields. I only fear that its adventurous little spirit 
will bring it to an untimely end some day in the den of a 
jackal or a mungoose. 

This reminds me that, whether the inhabitants of the 
poultry-yard are themselves a frontier tribe or not, they 
are a cause of the presence of some most pestilent 

borderers. When I surprised 
the vagabond jackal one morn- 
ing loitering about my premises 
without visible means of sup- 
port, could there be any mis- 
take about its intentions? And 
though the mungoose, about 
which all the hens are making 
such a cackling, trots innocently 
away, bent on nothing in par- 
ticular, was it equally objectless when the hen who had ten 
chickens yesterday, and has only nine to-day, first noticed 
its red nose and snaky eyes peering over a tuft of grass ? 





THE POULTRY-YARD. 181 

The difference between the jackal and the mungoose is 
this, that the former is a tramp, who takes in hard times to 
highway robbery and dacoity, while the latter is a pro- 
fessional thug ; and I prefer the former. His open assaults, 
whether by day or by night, are easier to meet than the 
systematic plots of the cold-blooded cutthroat which 
murdered two of my rabbits in one afternoon. Happily 
for us, the horrid lust for blood easily drives it to its own 
destruction, for, when surprised and compelled to leave its 
booty, it cannot rest, and if you lie in ambush, with your 
gun, near the " kill," you will not have to wait half an hour 
ere it returns to drag the carcass home to its hole under a 
bush. A third enemy more omnipresent than either the 
jackal or the mungoose is the pariah kite. Sailing in easy 
circles, it pretends to be in quest of dead rats or scraps of 
kitchen refuse, but its eye is on a hen which is busy 
scratching the ground, with her numerous brood, still in 
downy infancy, gathered about her. Suddenly it half 
closes its wings, and, swooping like a whirlwind, passes so 
near the astonished hen that it blows her almost off her 
feet and clean out of her wits. She picks herself up, but 
not her wits, and is away in frantic pursuit of the kite 
nmid the piteous screaming of her forsaken chicks, the 



182 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



panic of terrified fowls, and a most horrid roaring of 
servants rushing from their rooms to the rescue. But by 
this time the kite is sitting on her nest, parting the limbs 
of the miserable chicken among the grape-mouthed little 
harpies that are worth all the rest of the world to her. 

I do not make pets of fowls. As I have said, there is 
not stuff in them for that. Still, quite apart from vulgar 
uses, it is pleasant to have a large establishment of de- 
pendants about you, looking to you for protection and 
maintenance. It imparts a certain patriarchal, Abrahamic 
magnificence to your conception of yourself. Modern 
radicalism may affect to dispise mere externals, but I am 
a disciple of Herr Teufelsdrockh. If life were stripped of 
its clothes, who would have it ? 




THE WHITE ANTS, 




THOUGHT I had 
gone nearly through 
the list of our pests, 
and have been fondly 



-^F. giving the rein of late 
to that pleasing disposi- 
tion which delights always to look on the bright 
side of things, and now I find narrow, tortuous 
tubes of mud showing themselves at certain strategic points 
on the floor and walls. The arch-scourge of humanity, the 
foe of civilization and blight of learning, the Goths, Ostro- 
goths, Huns, Vandals of Indian life, are preparing for their 
summer campaign, mustering their hordes, and going forth 
to sack our libraries, ravage our museums, desolate our 



184 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

godowns, and eat our boots. I had forgotten them, but 
they had not forgotten me. Is it not always the way? If 
we could always remember, or they would sometimes 
forget, things might be different ; but in a moment of 
remissness the heavy book-box is laid down in the veran- 
dah, and we forget it for a week or two. This was all I 
did, and now! "Forbes's Manual" has lost its boards, two 
long tunnels traverse the " Bagh-o- Bahar," and though the 
" Penal Code " looks all right from without, open it, and a 
yawning chasm stretches from Culpable Homicide to an 
Unlawful Assembly. Worse than all these, the binding is 
eaten away from the back of Kinglake's " Crimea," and the 
intelligent hamal, who used to turn it upside down with 
such faithful regularity, has nothing left to guide him. 

Where do these destroying hordes come from ? Is the 
common theory of geology all wrong, and do the bowels 
of the earth really consist of a seething mass of white ants ? 
On these and all similar questions the prevailing state of 
the public mind is a state of ignorance, for these consistent 
evil-doers do so abhor the light that any experimental 
acquaintance with their internal economy is unattainable. 
What is known amounts to this, that if you put anything 
on the ground in India, except teak-wood or glass, you 



THE WHITE ANTS. 



185 



presently find it covered with an earthy crust. If you 
scratch that off, you find underneath it a swarfn of little 
yellow animals, blind, bigheaded, armed with strong jaws, 
and affording a most wholesome and nourishing food for 
young guinea-fowls. When uncovered, they manifest the 
keenest distress, and rush into any shelter they can find. 

In the meantime everything that finds them, from the 
black ant upwards, kills and eats them pro bono publico. It 
is also known that these same creatures raise hills several 
feet high, and in form like miniature 
volcanoes, with the principal crater in 
the middle, and a network of passages 
all through, and that if you dig under 
one of these hills you find an animal 
as big as a sausage, and so fat that her 
legs have long since been lifted off the 
ground, and she cannot walk. Never- 
theless, she seems quite contented, and 
kills time by producing eggs, as some 
one claims to have ascertained, at the 
rate of 80,000 a day. Another point 
on which we have attained certainty is that sometimes, 
especially on a monsoon evening, the volcanoes are in 

13 




1 86 T11R TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



eruption, belching forth for lava and ashes a column of 
winged creatures two or three times as large as common 
white ants, and quite the opposite of them, being soft and 
effeminate, with good eyes, but second-rate jaws. It also 
admits of no manner of doubt that, if you have a dinner 
party that evening, these creatures are guided by some in- 
fallible instinct to the lights at your table, and while some 
perish in a holocaust, until the guttering and spluttering 
candles are bristling like bottle-brushes with their wings, 
others leave those useless organs in your plate, and crawl 
in a very naked, helpless state among your food, wading 
especially about the gravy. 

These are the facts. Upon the foundation of these, and 
with materials drawn from bees and ants, if you have the 
scientific faculty, you may found probable hypotheses, and 
probable hypotheses are rapidly coming to be recognized 
as the real substance and body of all true science. You 
will discern, for instance, that the hard-headed little miners 
correspond to the worker bees, while the winged things are 
properly-matured insects going out to found new colonies. 
Then the portentous monster which you dig out from 
under the hill evidently answers to the queen among bees. 
This receives collateral support from the well-known fact 



THE WHITE ANTS. 187 

that in Africa, Cetewayo's wives and, indeed, all queens 
are found to be very fat. Theories so plausible as these are 
always admissible until contradicted by facts, and I admit 
them, though in my scientific creed a rank sceptic and 
rationalist, doubting even my own evolution from bathy- 
bius via the anthropoid ape. At the same time, I have 
never been able to see where the new colonies are sup- 
posed to be founded. Emigration is an excellent thing, 
but I suppose there must be some country to emigrate to 
before its advantages can be developed. Now, in a land 
whose soil is three-fourths white ants and one-fourth 
earthy matter or stone, where is the new colony to settle ? 
in the interstices between these already in possession ? 
Then, again, as to those pioneers going to found new 
colonies : they mostly go to fatten the birds. I remember 
sitting with a friend and watching them one fine monsoon 
day, as they issued from a hole in the ground. The hole 
was so small that they struggled out with difficulty, one 
at a time, though a number of sturdy workers were behind 
pushing them. At first a lizard was posted at the mouth 
of the hole, and licked them up as they came out, but we 
drove it off", and mounted guard ourselves, to see fair play. 

Every post of vantage en the trees around was occupied 

13-2 



l88 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

by a king crow or one of those strange birds the swallow- 
shrikes (Artamus fiiscus), which happened to be common 
at that place. As each young adventurer drew itself 
through the narrow gateway, arrayed like a bride in its 
long gauze wings, it bade a tearful farewell to the friends 
of its childhood, and, rising upon the breeze, started upon 
the voyage of life. I do not know what rosy hopes were 
at that moment blushing on the horizon of its young life, 
but a king-crow shot from his station and wiped them all 
out with one loud snap of its beak. In half a minute a 
second rose on its feathery wings and sailed away towards 
the sky, until a swallow-shrike seemed to glide over it, and 
it disappeared. No beak snapped this time. The bird 
just swept past with open mouth, and the ant was not. 
My friend professed to hear a soft tJntd from inside the 
bird, but I heard nothing. Thus, one after another, each 
in happy ignorance of the fate of its predecessors, they 
went forth to seek their fortunes, and the fortunes of all 
were the same. I doubt if a single one came to a happy 
end. 

Here am I, under the influence of a weak pity, talking 
sentimentality about the death of white ants. What strange 
creatures we are, and how seldom we can make room for 



THE WHITE ANTS. 



one right feeling without turning out another ! To one 
whose sympathies were properly adjusted, what could give 
a truer and profounder satisfaction than the sight of so 
much potential mischief being nipped in the bud, such a 
rolling river of future destruction being staunched at its 
very fountain-head ? Now that I think of it, what a crop 
of wholesome and righteous feelings I might have raised 
many a time while watching such a scene, especially when 
the swarm was large, and the hour about sunset, so that the 
bats and owls, as well as kites and crows, joined the great 
crusade, washing out in some degree the scandal of their 
past lives. Yet I fear the practical result of the most whole- 
sale slaughter of white ants amounts to nothing. They can 
spare a million lives much more easily than any one can 
spare time and strength to destroy them, and those that 
remain are neither reformed nor deterred. Nothing either 
reforms or deters them. A copious use of kerosine oil 
would doubtless drive them out of the house altogether, but 
not till long after it had driven me out. It is consolatory 
to know that they wilt not cross over glass, and a box on 
pedestals made of the bottoms of beer-bottles is absolutely 
safe. 

All the great men who have assisted to discover or 



190 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



invent the history of white ants have offered no clue, so far 

as I know, to one great mystery which attends their pro- 

i 

ceedings. Where do they find water? Starting from the 
ground at a place where you might dig fifty feet without 
reaching water, they will travel through the foundations 
and between the stones of the wall away into the upper 
storey of your house, and then, finding their road barred, 
perhaps, by a broad stone, they will emerge and build a 
covered way to protect their march, until they reach a soft 
place where they can enter the wall again. Now, clay can- 
not be kneaded or mortar mixed without moisture, and 
they manage to carry on these operations in the second 
storey of a house with the hygrometer at zero, and all your 
postage stamps curling into telescopes. Their heads are 
certainly large and red, like water-chatties, but surely they 
do not carry water in their heads ! 

White ants will not eat anything that has life in it. It is 
proof enough of this that the earth to-day is clothed with 
verdure, and we ourselves survive. In fairness, however, 
it should be stated that the malee holds a contrary opinion. 
He maintains that plants of his planting are never eaten by 
white ants because they have died, but die because they are 
eaten by white ants. 



THE WHITE ANTS. 



It is scarcely necessary to repeat here that white ants are 
not ants at all, but termites, and do not even belong to the 
order of hymenoptera, but to the neuroptera, for everybody 
knows these elementary matters now ; but it is not so 
generally known that these distinctions imply a real diffe- 
rence, for white ants, like chickens, run as soon as they are 
born, and require no swaddling or cradling. Hence, you 
never come upon a white ant carrying its papoos, as black 
ants do when changing their residence. 




1 9 2 



HYPODERMATIKOSYRINGOPHOROL 




BGH; 



IS many-sided, and 
to teach one's mind 
in every case to walk 
round the polygon is an 
excellent discipline and 
an antidote to bigotry. 
For instance, naturalists 
classify animals accord- 
to the plan of the endoskeleton, 
or the perfection of the haematic 
and nervous systems, and distinguish one sub- 
kingdom from another by the fact that the digestive sac is 



THE HYPODERMAT1KOSYRINGOPHOROI 



193 



differentiated from the general somatic cavity. This is all 
very valuable, and indeed I hold that, for purposes of men- 
tal drill, a good handbook of zoology or botany is second 
only to the Latin grammar or Euclid. But I am not a 
pedagogue, not yet a " scientist " (vile word !) sorting the 
museum of nature. I am only an exile endeavouring to 
work a successful existence in Dustypore, and not to let 
my environment shape me, as a pudding takes the shape 
of its mould, but to make it tributary to my own happi- 
ness. From this standpoint the naturalist's classification, 
however just, is not useful. Some other arrangement of 
animals is required, founded more on their behaviour 
than their stomachs, on the disposition of their minds 
towards us, rather than on the disposition of their nervous 
ganglia. 

In such an arrangement snakes, scorpions, centipedes, and 
the biscobra would all be included under one genus, since, 
in that aspect of them which I am now fronting, they all 
present one salient feature, viz., that they all carry about 
with them an instrument to be used for the purpose of in- 
jecting a poisonous liquor into our persons. That which 
makes a scorpion a scorpion is clearly not that it has claws 
like a crab, nor that it has eight legs like a spider, nor that 



194 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



it has a tail curved over its back like a pariah dog ; but the 
fact that it can by a single flick of that tail put you to the 
necessity of howling for the next twenty-four hours. Thus 
the scorpion by its tail, the snake by its fangs, and the 
centip3de by its jaws, are linked together into one family 
to which, in accordance with scientific usage, I have ven- 
tured to give a name. 

For the sake of brevity and simplicity I would call them 
Hypoderniatikosyringophoroi. 

These are the Ghazis on our borders, that come among us 
unnoticed to stab and murder, and India is generally un- 
derstood to be infested with them to an extent that renders 
life precarious. In deference to this general understanding 
our paternal Government has been moved at times to sanc- 
tion the expenditure of vast sums of public money, in 
efforts to compass their extermination. Out of a lakh of 
rupees or so paid away annually in rewards for the slaugh- 
ter of wild beasts, a large portion is always devoted to this 
chimera of extirpating venomous serpents. The deaths 
from snake-bite, or supposed snake-bite, in a year through- 
out India, average less than one in ten thousand of the 
population ; so, if the reward system leads to the destruc- 
tion of one deadly snake out of eighteen thousand in the 



THE HYPODERMA TIKOSYRINGOPHOROI. 



195 



country (which of course it does not), then by the expen- 
diture of the moiety more or less of a lakh of rupees, 
Government may be considered to have saved the life of 
one man out of the one hundred and eighty millions of 
India. Precious man ! I wonder who he is ! And, while 
money is thus thrown away, the trees all over the country 
remain to this day unprovided with lightning-conductors, 
in open disregard of the known fact that men (and bullocks 
too) are sometimes struck while standing under trees during 
a thunderstorm ! 

Of all our frontier tribes snakes are pre-eminently un- 
sociable, and avoid us so anxiously that we see very little 
indeed of them, except in the baskets of snake charmers ; 
and of those we do meet only one in many is venomous. 
You may distinguish a venomous one at once by opening 
its mouth and running a penknife or a small flat bit of 
stick over the teeth of the upper jaw. This will raise the 
poison fangs, which generally lie folded down on the jaw. 
Of course all this is looked upon by all the servants as 
" fatuous flapdoodle." They are not much disposed to 
believe in non-venomous snakes, and at any rate, one 
which has had the honour of being killed by master is, ipso 
facto, almost certain to be a do guntaivalla, which means 



196 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



that if it had bitten you, or even given you a blow with 
its tail, you would have died within two hours. Even after 
it is dead you are not safe unless you take the precaution 
to pound its head into a jelly. This prevents it reviving 
during the night and coming and coiling itself up in your 
bosom. 

Besides the cobra, there is only one poisonous kind of 
snake at all common here, and that is a prettily-marked 
little reptile called Echis carinata, about a foot in length, 
with a most cantankerous temper and an abusive tongue. 
There are two others to be met with sometimes, the chain- 
viper (Daboia elegans), which is in appearance and temper 
just an enlarged edition of Echis, and a slender inoffensive 
species, with whitish rings on a dark ground, which also 
must be content to go by its scientific name of Bungarus 
arcuatus, for want of another. There are names in plenty, 
such as carpet-snake, whip-snake, krait, foorsa ; but they 
are applied promiscuously to any sort of snake, real or 
imaginary, and are therefore of no use. The fact is that 
in real life, as distinguished from romance, snakes are so 
seldom seen that no one who does not make a study of 
them can know one from another. Still, you may easily 
learn to recognise a cobra or an Echis when you see it, 



THE HYPODERMA TIKOSYRINGOPHOROI. 



197 



and for the rest it is useful to keep in mind that the whole 
tribe of slender, whip-like, green, brown, and ye'low snakes 
are as harmless as lambs a month old, notwithstanding 
anything your butler says to the contrary. Next to his 
own religion, there is nothing an average native knows less 
about than nature, and domestic servants are generally 
below the average. Yet natives in all their ignorance are 
comparatively free from the European's superstitious anti- 
pathy to the serpent race. The cobra, indeed, is regarded 
by natives of the better classes with a kind of veneration. 
When a Hindoo observes that a large cobra regularly 
haunts his garden, so far from treating it in a hostile spirit, 
he will, if piously disposed, propitiate it with an offering 
of milk. 

Firmly believing myself that all the larger snakes, and 
cobras especially, do man invaluable service by devouring 
field-rats, I am unable to tread my feelings underfoot, and 
let unbridled reason run away with me so completely as to 
let them off when I meet them. A man who is caught 
lurking about your premises with a concealed dagger need 
not talk of his past services to the State. I slay a 
poisonous snake when and where I find it, and if there is 
any doubt about its being poisonous, 1 slay it to settle the 



I 9 3 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

matter. In my walks abroad I generally carry a strong, 
supple, walking cane. This is the prime weapon for 
encountering snakes. Armed with it, you may rout and 
slaughter the hottest-tempered cobra in Hindustan. Let 
it rear itself up and spread its spectacled head-gear and 
bluster as it will, but one rap on the side of its head will 
bring it to reason, and another about the middle of the 
body will bring it to its end. Without a stick you can 
do nothing. Twice have I fled before an angry cobra, 
having unwisely attacked it with stones. The cobra, 
though of a peaceable disposition in the main, is hasty 
in his temper. 

Since alchemy was given up, and wise men relinquished 
the search for the philosopher's stone, some of the energy 
thus saved has been devoted to the discovery of a cure for 
snake-bite. Sanguine doctors have from time to time 
devoted themselves to pricking poor dogs with the fangs 
of snakes, and then embittering their end with doses of 
potash, injections of ammonia and other sorrows, and thus 
many remedies have been discovered, in each of which its 
own inventor profoundly believes. Native medicos, with- 
out any of those distressing experiments, have attained 
exactly the same result, though their remedies have 



THE HYPODERMA TIKOS YRINGOPHOROL 



199 



generally a more occult, magnetic, Blavatsky character. 
They consist of small pebbles which have virtue to draw 
the poison out of the wound, herbs which furnish decoc- 
tions to be rubbed on the crown of the head, and wonderful 
trees of the forest, with twigs of which if the patient be 
well flogged the poison will depart from him. 

Poisonous snakes are a great mystery. Out of a class of 
animals so harmless, so gentle, and so gracefully beautiful, 
one here and one there, for no assignable reason, carries 
with it an instrument exquisitely contrived for inflicting 
almost instant death on creatures fifty times its own size. 
And this provision is of no conceivable use to itself. It 
cannot be necessary for self defence, since for one that has 
it many do without it ; nor can it be of much service in 
overpowering prey which consists of nothing more for- 
midable than rats and frogs. And those which bear this 
poisoned dagger often belong to totally different genera, 
and resemble each other far less than they resemble kinds 
which are innocent, thus the more effectually blasting the 
reputation of the whole family, and making us shun and 
abhor a race which would be universal favourites, not only 
on account of their grace and the brightness of their hues, 
but for their intelligence, and the pleasantness of their dis- 



200 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

positions. In these respects they have nothing in common 
with the other reptiles which are their relations, the low- 
minded lizards, the base frog, and the Boeotian tortoise. 
Some kinds, at any rate, show much motherly affection, 
guarding their eggs v/ith great care, and when the young 
are hatched they go about with them as a hen does with 
her chickens. When danger is near, if there is no other 
convenient hole at hand, the little ones will run down their 
mother's throat. 

When the complexion of a snake suffers from exposure, 
freckles, or anything of that sort, it enjoys the advantage 
of being able to peel itself, and come out in a new skin. 
The peel is generally left fluttering, like a streamer of 
white satin, on some bush, and the little birds carry it off 
to line their nests. 

The scorpion is entitled to the second place in the 
Hypodermatikosyringophoroi, and it, too, has had its cha- 
racter much misrepresented. It is much more inoffensive 
than is generally supposed, not, however, from amiability 
but from indolence. Its favourite attitude is one of sullen 
repose, with its arms drawn up, and its tail wound like a 
watch-spring ready to strike. Yet it will not strike, as a 
rule, unless bullied past all endurance, or held down so that 



THE IJ YPODERMA T1KOS YK1NGOF11ORO'. 



it cannot get away. Then it does lash out as if the venom 
in its tail came straight from the heart, and it is worth a 
fortune to know that a drop of strong ammonia let into the 
wound is an almost instant cure. I make out three kinds 
of scorpions, the feeble and rather scarce Bombay species, 
the sturdy house scorpion of the Deccan, and the hairy 
black monster found under stones, especially on the hills. 
They all live on insects, and possibly lizards and other 
small animals, which they catch with their claws and sting 
to death. The scorpion is a superfluous enormity which 
cannot justify its own existence. When found it should be 
executed at once, as a punishment, not for anything it can 
be proved to have done, but for what it is. This establishes 
a great principle. 

Next come centipedes, which are of many kinds. The 
prince of them is a somewhat horrid object, banded with 
black and yellow. Natives say it does not bite, but that, 
if it runs over you, every footprint becomes a sore, a point 
which any one can settle for himself by experiment. It is 
not generally known that this creature makes a most enter- 
taining pet. I had one which measured 6^ inches, and 
would doubtless have grown to double that in time, for he 
had a healthy appetite. He would kill and devour an 

14 



202 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



ordinary house lizard, leaving nothing but one or two of the 
larger bones. His habitation was a box with a glass top, 
in which I used to exhibit him sometimes at an evening 
conversazione. It was the holiday season at Deccanabad, 
and many fair women and brave men had gathered at that 
pleasant station. There was the jaded literary man, seek- 
ing to recover the exhausted phosphorus of his system and 
the departed freshness of his thoughts, his wife, suffering 
from an acute attack of want of occupation, the pinched 
and dyspeptic banker, just escaped from the treadmill for 
a brief season, the stalwart police officer, sick of ordinary 
crime. 

These and many more gathered round the arena, and 
the spirit of Nero was there too. It was the time of 
year when the lamp is visited by those long-legged green 
creatures of the cricket sort, which look innocent and vege- 
tarian, and are as carnivorous as Young Bombay ; so the 
entertainment commenced with the introduction of a few 
of these. The centipede heard their footsteps, and started 
up thirsting for blood, but, being very shortsighted, he could 
not make out where they were, and the scene became like 
a game of blind-man's buff, the monster, with open jaws, 
rampaging wildly about the box, while the crickets leaped 



THE H YPODKRMA TIKOS YR1NGOPHOROL 



203 



in panic from side to side. At length one clumsy long- 
shanks stumbled over some part of the long body, which 
turned on it in an instant, and embraced it with fifty legs 




while a pair of sharp sickles were buried in its throat. 
While it was being eaten there was an interlude, and the 
musical box played a tune. Then, to vary the performance, 
we introduced one of those globular beetles which will be 
for ever tumbling on their backs, and cannot right them- 
selves. Once and again and a third time, with the rash 

14 2 



204 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

valour of inexperience, the centipede fell upon his impene- 
trable foe, and when at last he retired, with blunted fangs 
and dislocated jaws, you could see that the very name of 
a beetle was abomination to him. Then the beetle un- 
packed its legs, and got up and climbed the centipede's 
nose, and travelled up and down his back and explored 
his geography, until the tide of pity turned, and we had 
compassion on the shame and misery of the vanquished 
ruffian. 

But of all the things in this earth that bite or sting, the 
palm belongs to the biscobra, a creature whose very name 
seems to indicate that it is twice as bad as the cobra. 
Though known by the terror of its name to natives and 
Europeans alike, it has never been described in the pro- 
ceedings of any learned society, nor has it yet received a 
scientific name. In fact, it occupies much the same place 
in science as the sea-serpent, and accurate information re- 
garding it is still a desideratum. The awful deadliness of 
its bite admits of no question, being supported by countless 
authentic instances ; our own old gliorawalla was killed by 
one. The points on which evidence is required are first, 
whether there is any such animal as the biscobra ; second, 
whether, if it does exist, it is a snake with legs or a lizard 



THE HYPODERMA TIKOSYRINGOPHOROL 



205 



without them. By inquiry among natives I have learned a 
few remarkable facts about it, as, for instance, that it has 
eight legs, and is a hybrid between a cobra and that 
gigantic lizard commonly miscalled an iguana ; but last 
year a brood of them suddenly appeared in Dustypore, 
and I saw several. The first was killed by some of the 
bravest of my own men with stones, for it can spring four 
feet, and no one may approach it without hazard of life. 
Even when dead it is exceedingly dangerous, but, with my 
.usual hardihood, I examined it. It was nine inches long, 
and in appearance like a pretty brownish lizard spotted 
with yellow. It has no trace of poison-fangs, but I was 
assured that an animal so deadly could dispense with these. 
If it simply spits at a man his fate is sealed, for, excepting 
a few cunning Bengalees, no one knows any muntra, or 
charm, which has power against it. Afterwards one ap- 
peared in my own garden, and I made an attempt to cap- 
ture it alive with my butterfly-net, my devoted butler's 
hair turning grey as he watched me from a great distance ; 
but the biscobra got off into a hole. It escaped me once 
or twice again, and then, finding I was bent on catching it, 
it gradually changed colour, like a chameleon, and grew 
larger at the same time, until in a few weeks it had de- 



206 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



veloped into an unmistakable iguana. Some people 
would jump to the conclusion that it was a young iguana 
to begin with. My butler would endure the thumbscrew 
sooner. 




2OJ 



ETCETERA, 



lair. 




the more notable tribes 
have been taken up one by one, 
and the less notable grouped 
together by their affinities, there 
will remain to the end a 
large balance of rag, tag, 
and bobtail, a vast mixed 
multitude, a circumambient 
atmosphere of insignificant 
vitalities in the midst of 
which we live and move : 
- - W e even breathe them. They 
extend from Professor Tyndall's contumacious bacteria, 
which will not be produced by spontaneous generation, to 



20 8 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



the frame of an aged bullock, which, having been discarded 
by its owner, npw roams about my compound and the 
country at large. The latter deserves a passing word, for 
I cannot tell you how forcibly it strikes me, in my more 
poetical moments, as a beautiful emblem of Liberty. Pos- 
sessing nothing else that makes life sweet, it possesses 
freedom, and of this neither guile nor fofce can rob it, for, 
being in need of nothing, it is not beholden to any man, 
and, having nothing to fear, it defies the malice of tyranny. 
It laughs the pound to scorn, for it knows that if you send 
it there nobody will pay two annas to redeem it ; and if, 
on the other hand, you seek by violence to evict it, you 
will be foiled, for stoning and cudgelling have long since 
ceased to give rise to any unusual sensations in its battered 
hide. It is armed against even the fear of death, for it 
knows that its leather would not pay the municipality its 
funeral expenses, being worn threadbare at a dozen points. 
Or, perhaps, the thought of death has become sweet to it, 
for its face bespeaks a sad history, and it may be illustra- 
ting the saying of the philosopher, qui sdt mori nescit cogi. 
Anyway it nescit cogi on that point I am clear. 

This great host of etceteras are too promiscuous to be 
arranged in groups, and they cannot be treated singly, for 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



some are altogether insignificant, some do not interfere 
with us, and others, which do interfere with us, are highly 
vulgar. You cannot ignore them, however, for life is 
simply steeped in them ; they fill every pore of existence. 
In the hot sun at noon crimson and blue dragon-flies are 
darting about, carrying havoc and slaughter through the 
fields of air. In the cold and stagnant pool close by, the 
dragon-flies of to-morrow are leading the same blood- 
thirsty life, but they are hideous brown wingless things, 
which shoot along by squirting water backwards from a 
bellows which they carry in their bodies. If you walk 
through the grass on the margin of the pool, you will rouse 
a score of muscular grasshoppers unhappy examples of 
great power ill-directed. On many a succulent herb here 
and there you will notice little accumulations of white 
froth, and, if you wipe away the froth, you will find a 
humble greenish insect inside. On that spot where you 
find it, it has spent all its days, seeing nothing but dimly 
through a foggy haze of its own creation, and never un- 
happy until now, when you have let in the clear light of 
day upon it. Striking type of the mental state of some 
people ! 

You may see another symbol, if you will, in that hope- 



ETCETERA. 211 

less lunatic which goes about the house collecting par- 
ticles of rubbish and dust, which it sticks about its person. 
Or turn to the evening lamp and contemplate the hundreds 
of flimsy little bodies which dot the white globe, stuck fast 
by the smear of oil which the servant's fingers left when he 
"cleaned" it. They are mostly after the pattern of a mos- 
quito, or gnat, but smaller and more fragile. They came 
into winged life this afternoon ; a vision of glory dazzled 
them and they pursued it : now they are in the pillory and 
will remain there till death releases them, for in nature 
there is rarely any place for repentance. 

Floundering about on the table-cloth is a small water- 
beetle, which was as happy as the day is long while it 
remained in the well. But it had wings, and was am- 
bitious to use them ; and now it is in sore trouble, learning 
in the school of experience the hard lesson that when you 
are well off it is best to be contented. I pick it up and 
drop it into the finger-glass, and in a moment its trouble 
is forgotten, its penitence has vanished, and it is swimming 
round and round as full of glee as if the butler were not 
already on his way to toss the contents of the finger-glass 
out upon the ground. There are pretty ball-room moths, 
too, dancing round the lamp in a wild whirl of fascination 



2i2 THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 

and rapture, until they singe themselves in the flame and 
perish. Surely, if there are tongues in trees, books in the 
running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything, 
then is this lamp of mine a whole tome of homilies. 

Yet there are darker pictures, where not folly only, but 
vice has its victims ; for in the animal world many a pro- 
mising career is wrecked by vice. I once visited a toddy 
distillery, and, looking over the great vats of fermenting 
palm-juice, I noticed a thick black scum on the frothy 
liquid and asked what it was. They said it was flies, and 
picked one out to show me. Alas ! it was a honey-bee ; 
the little busy bee which, when it was itself, improved each 
shining hour. There they floated in hundreds, victims to 
intemperance. It made me melancholy. And, strange as 
it may appear, it seems to be true that this same unex- 
plained craving for some form of stimulant, which works 
so much ruin to civilized man, and simply exterminates 
aboriginal races, goes down to the lower animals, and exer- 
cises its tyranny over them too. That the abandoned crow 
and the gross flying-fox make themselves drunk on stolen 
toddy is no great scandal, if true ; but I have seen the 
most respectable of domestic animals (I allude to the cow), 
growing up in a distillery, become such a slave to the 



ETCETERA. 



213 



" intoxicating bowl " that she could not be trusted in sight 
of the temptation. 

I will not moralize on all these things, for this reason, 
that a moral is both more palatable and more wholesome 
when you extract it for yourself. Served up cold by 
another, it is apt to bring on nausea. Materials are plen- 
teous for those who will use them. Like a thousand frag- 
ments of a shattered mirror, the 
bright flies and . other ephemeral 
fowls of the air, the caterpillars, 

worms, and creeping things on the 

< 

earth, and the strange shapes which 

people every piece of water, are IV VICTIM TO 

reflecting this same life of ours, 

with all its lights and shades. Its joys and sorrows light 

upon them, its hopes and cares distract their hearts. 

One evening I dined with a Major who has a quiver full 
of anxieties at home, and he showed me the long row of 
their photographs in his pocket album ; another evening I 
met a small beetle, travailously rolling along a round ball 
of nutritious earthy matter, in which she proposed to bring 
up her family. The simplest way of managing the matter 
which suggested itself to her original mind was to stand 




214 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRON1IER. 



on her head and kick the ball along with her hind feet ; 
and at this exercise I found her, panting and perspiring. 
At length she reached a pit which she had dug before- 
hand, and there she proceeded to bury the ball and cover it 

with earth ; the 
Major, mean- 
while, turning 
over in his 
thoughts the 
relative advan- 
tages of the 
Army and the 
Civil Service as 
a sphere for his 
} first-born, and 
wondering, pos- 
sibly, whether 
the Church 
would suit his 




THE BREAD-WINNER. 



second boy. Of course, the Major does not care a straw 
what becomes of the dirty little beetle and its vile grub ; on 
the other hand, it is a matter of the profoundest indifference 
to the beetle whether the Major's son runs away with an ac- 



ETCETERA. 



215 



tress or becomes Archbishop of Canterbury. She has her own 
springs of gladness and sadness, and with these a stranger 
intermeddleth not. It seems to me that the difference 
between the beetle and us just amounts to this : that she 
hopes and rejoices, sighs and suffers, toils in anxiety or rests 
with satisfaction, and does not know that she is doing any of 
these things. We are like the squad of recruits whom the 
Irish drill-sergeant, in the depths of his despair, sarcastically 
invited to "stip out now and look at yersilves." We can 
get, in a manner, outside of ourselves, and look on at the 
tempest of misdirected affections, illusive hopes, and stupid 
fears on which we are tossing about. Which is happier, 
then, the beetle or the man ? The beetle, unquestionably, 
in my judgment, unless man can call to his aid a voice 
with power to say to the tempest, " Peace ! be still ! " 

I began in June, and now it is May. A year has gone 
round, and once more the land is gasping under the op- 
pression of the sun, and the soft green which should be 
Nature's garb is carrying on a last expiring struggle 
against the tyranny of all-subduing dust. And again the 
birds, open-mouthed, seek the friendly shelter of my ver- 
andah. Bacon says that friendship "redoubleth joyes and 
cutteth griefes in halfes," and I suppose, since these little 
birds endure so much of the heat, thoy leave the less for 



2l6 



THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER. 



me to endure. At any rate, if this is not so logical as it 
should be, it is all the more true. The thermometer is no 
gauge of all the influences which are abroad in the air, 
depressing our spirits or making them dance within us. I 
am certain that the power to enjoy a balmy breeze, or 
bear up against a furnace-blast, would be alike paralysed 
by the hopeless dismalness which would come down like 
an extinguisher on my spirits, if the keys within me, the 
chords of my soul, ceased to be played upon, like an 
^olian harp, by the sprightly forms, the merry voices, 
and even, sometimes, the plaguey impertinences of " The 
Tribes on my Frontier." 




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THE LAW OF EASEMENTS IN BRITISH INDIA. 

By F. PEACOCK, Barrister-at-Law. Tagore Law Lectures, 1899. 

THE LAW OF EVIDENCE APPLICABLE TO 

BRITISH INDIA. By Syed AMEER ALI, M.A., C.I.E., Barrister- 
at-Law, Judge of the High Court of Judicature ; and J. G. WOODROFFE, 
M.A., B.C.L., Barrister-at-Law. Second Edition. Demy 8vo., cloth. 

THE LAW OF SPECIFIC RELIEF IN INDIA 

(Act I. of 1877). By CHARLES COLLETT, Barrister-at-Law. Third 
Edition, Revised and brought up to date. By H. N. MORISON. Barrister- 
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THE CLERK'S MANUAL. A Complete Guide to 

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By Lieut. -Col. DUKE, I. M.S. Second Edition, being the Sixth Edition 
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FIRMINGER'S MANUAL OF GARDENING for 

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TH ACKER'S GUIDE TO SIMLA and Routes into the 

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THE MEM-SAHIB'S BOOK OF COOKERY. By 

A. C. S. Third Edition. Crown 8vo., cloth. 

BANTING UP TO DATE. By the Author of "A Bobbery 

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NORTH-WEST FRONTIER WARFARE. Being a 

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WORKS OF FICTION. 

BLAKE OF THE "RATTLESNAKE"; or, THE 

MAN WHO SAVED ENGLAND. By FRED. T. JANE. With 
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" ' Repeat the signal,' said Blake. It was never repeated, however. Scarcely 
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darting from our tubes amidships. The enemy must have seen it too, for she 
immediately tried to turn, but it was too late the torpedo hit her in bow as she 
circled, and her game was up." 

THE CAPTAIN OF THE "MARY ROSE." By 

W. LAIRD CLOWES, Author of the " Naval Pocket Book." 
Illustrated by the Chevalier DE MARTINO and FRED. T. JANE. 
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JASON EDWARDS, and A LITTLE NORSK. 

Powerful Stories of the Far West. By HAM LIN GARLAND, 
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Literary World. "There is a freshness of atmosphere and a raciness of 
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. . . . ' Jason Edwards ' or ' A Little Norsk ' is, each in its way, a gem." 

ROSE OF DUTCHER'S COOLLY. By HAMLIN 
GARLAND. Crown 8vo., cloth. 6s. 

Pall Mall Gazette. "The author of 'Rose of Dutcher's Coolly' scores a 
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and, in congratulating the author on his achievement, we desire to add a word of 
congratulation to the publishers, for the get-up of the book is as excellent as its 
matter." 

TWENTY-ONE DAYS IN INDIA. By GEO. ABERIGH- 
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Crown 8vo., 6s. 



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Just Published. 8w., cloth gilt. Js. 6ff. net. fis. 6. 

', SELECTED SPEECHES 
BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE RIGHT 
HON'BLE LORD CURZON, 

G.M.S.I., G.C.I.E., Viceroy and Governor-General of India. 



This volume contains the principal speeches delivered by Lord 
Curzon from the date of his appointment as Viceroy up to the present 
time. They deal with a great variety of subjects connected with the 
Administration of India. 



CONTENTS : 



Punjab Chiefs College. 

Address from the Colonists of the 
Chenab District. 

Address from the Khalsa Dewan. 

Address from the Simla Municipality. 

Railway Conference. 

Punjab Land Alienation Bill. 

Bombay Improvement Trust. 

Voluntary Plague Workers, Poona. 

Banquet at Gwalior. 

Address from the Brindaban Munici- 
pality. 

Address from the Agra Municipality. 

Darbar at Lucknow. 

Famine. 

Ancient Monuments in India. 

Famine Relief. 

Convocation of the Calcutta Uni- 
versity. 

Address from the Planters of 
Dibrugarh. 

Address from the Planters of Tezpur. 



Address from the People of Assam. 
Telegraphic Press Messages Bill. 
Anglo-Indian Association. 
Dinner to Mr. and Mrs. Dawkins. 
Debate on the Budget. 
Address from the Amritsar Munici 

pality. 

Darbar at Quetta. 
Famine. 

Punjab Land Bill. 
Rajkumar College, Rajkot. 
Durbar at Rajkot. 
Bombay Corporation. 
Trevandrum Banquet. 
Trevandrum College. 
Tanjore Reception. 
Eurasian Association (Bangalore). 
Kolar Goldfields Address, 

Madras 

Lansdowne Statue. 
H.M. Queen Victoria. 
The Memorial Hall. 



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Graphic. "Splendidly Illustrated Record of Sport." 



Third Edition. Enlarged. Demy 410. 36 Plates and Map. 2. 2s. 

LARGE GAME SHOOTING 

In Thibet, the Himalayas, Northern and Central- India, 
By BRIG.-GENERAL ALEX. A. A. KINLOCH. 




NYAN,OR GREAT THIBETAN SHEEP. 

Ovis Hodgsonii. 



Times." Colonel Kinloch, who has killed most kinds 'of Indian game, small 
and great, relates incidents of his varied sporting experiences in chapters, which 
are each descriptive of a different animal. The photogravures of the heads of 
many of the animals, from the grand gaur, popularly miscalled the bison, down- 
wards, are extremely clever and spirited." 



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700 pages. 8vo. Cloth gilt. Rs. 10. 

FLORA SIM LAN A. 

A Handbook of the Flowering Plants of Simla and the Neighbourhood, by the late 
Col. Sir HENRY COLLETT, K.C.B., F.L.S., Bengal Army. With an Introduction by W. 
BOTTING HEMSLEY, F.R.S., F.L.S., Keeper of the Herbarium and Library, Royal Gardens, 
Kew. With 200 Illustrations in the text, drawn by Miss M. SMITH, Artist at the Herbarium, 
Royal Botanic Gardens.'Kew. And a Map. 




COKNUS CAPITATA. 

This volume contains a descriptive account of the wild flowers and trees of Simla and the 
surrounding country, written specially for the use of amateurs, and illustrated by 200 figures, 
half natural size, of a selection of the plants. Although the arrangement of the matter is on 
a scientific basis, the language employed is as simple as the subject would allow, and a 
glossary of indispensable technical terms is appended. The derivation of the botanical names 
is also explained. The Introduction contains an analytical examination of the composition of 
the flora, and an account of the aspects of the vegetation, compiled from various sources. 
The map bears the names and altitudes of the] principal places cited as localities for the 
different plants. 



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Seventh Year of Issue. Corrected to September, 1902. 

Cloth, i6mo. y. net. 
900 fagcs on thin paper, size si X 4 X f inch, very small and light, for pocket or bag. 

CLOWES' NAVAL POCKET BOOK, 1902. 

A CLASSIFIED LIST OF ALL THE SHIPS BELONGING TO THE 

NAVIES OF ALL THE COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD. 

Founded by W. LAIRD CLOWES. Edited by L. G. CARR LAUGHTON. 



A uiiuMu/m Wt J " 

r WmmmMm/Mmm. wmffm. WMmMaw "mm. Wffffi '/ ./'. . 




CONTENTS. 

The Navies of all Nations, Classified and Analytical List: Baltleships, Ironclads, 
Gunboats ; Cruisers, Torpedo Boats, and Destroyers ; Hospital, Harbour, Training 
Ships, etc., etc. Dry Docks. Guns and Small Arms. Tables for Conversion of 
Measures, etc. Plans of Ships: showing Armours, Decks, etc. Complete Index of 
Ships by Name. 

LORD CHARLES BERESFORD, in a letter, says: "It is one of the most 
useful and handy works of reference on naval matters that I know of, and invalu- 
able to all who take an interest in naval matters." 

PRESS OPINIONS. 

Scotsman. "This valuable, concise, and well-packed book. . . . The arrange- 
ment of the matter for purposes of reference is admirable, and the ' Pocket Book ' 
cannot but continue to grow in the estimation of those for whom it is designed." 

Pall Mall Gazette. "The information contained upon the navies of the 
world is most complete and comprehensive, and the 900 pages of printed matter 
are remarkable for containing so much in so small a compass." 

Naval and Military Record. " A handy volume for use anywhere and every- 
where. . . . Surprisingly accurate. . . . A marvel of cheapness. " 



London: W. THACKER & CO., 2, Creed Lane, E.C, 



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755 P a g es i Royal 8vo. , cloth extra. 30.?. net. 

With over 150 Illustrations from Sketches and Drawings by the Author, 
and from Photographs. 

THE IMPERIAL RUSSIAN NAVY. 

By FRED T. JANE, 

Author of "All the World's Fighting Ships," "The Port Guard Ship," "The 

Torpedo in Peace and War," Inventor of the Jane Naval War Game 

(Naval Kriegspiel), etc., etc. 




SOME OF THE PRINCIPAL CONTENTS. 

The Germ of the Russian Navy, 865-1645. Peter the Great's founding of the 
Russian Navy. Its battles, its history, and its organisation from that time to the 
present day. 

Detailed descriptions (with photographs and plans) of all the Ships at preoi nt 
on the Russian Navy List. 

Detailed descriptions of all the Russian Dockyards. Russia's Shipbuilding 
programme. Projected Ship Canals. 

The Personnel of the Fleet. Full details of the pay, uniform, training, equip- 
ment, organisation, discipline, of Russian officers and men. 

Anglo-Russian relations from both the Russian and British standpoints. 
Some problems of the near future. 

A copious Appendix : Biographies and services of British Officers who have 
served in the Russian Navy ; plans of battles ; official reports, and correspondence 
relating to historical mn tiers. 

A complete list of Russian War Ships, built and building ; a history of Russian 
ship names ; and a comprehensive Index. 



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Demy 8vo. , gilt tops. Complete in 24 vols. 12 izs. net. 
AN EDITION DE LUXE OF 

THE WORKS OF G. J. WHYTE-MELVILLE 

EDITED BY THE 
Right Hon. Sir HERBERT MAXWELL, Bart, M.P. 

The volumes are printed from new type on hand-made paper, specially manu- 
factured for this edition, and handsomely bound in buckram with gilt tops. 

Coloured frontispiece on Japanese vellum, and other full-page illustrations by 
well-known artists. 

VOLUME I. RIDING RECOLLECTIONS. Illustrated by HUGH THOMSON. 
II. KATERFELTO. Illustrated by G. H. T ALLAN D. 
III. UNCLE JOHN. Illustrated by E. GALDWELLand H. M. BROCK. 
IV. MARKET HARBOROUGH. Illustrated by HUGH THOMSON. 
V. CONTRABAND. Illustrated by BERNARD PARTRIDGE. 
VI. M OR N. Illustrated by C. E. 'BROCK. 
,, VII. TILBURY NO-GO. Illustrated by E. CALDWELL. 
,, VIII. SONGS AND VERSES and BONES AND I. Illustrated by 

H. M. BROCK. 

IX. BLACK BUT COMELY. Illustrated by H. M. BROCK. 
X. THE BROOKES OF BRIDLEMERE. Illustrated by FRED 

ROE. 

XL THE WHITE ROSE. Illustrated by HARRINGTON BIRD. 
,, XII. ROY'S WIFE. Illustrated by CECIL ALDEN. 
,, XIII. SATANELLA. Illustrated by G. H. JALLAND. 
,, XIV. DIGBY GRAND. Illustrated by H. M. BROCK. 

XV. SARCHEDON. Illustrated by HARRINGTON BIRD. 
., XVI. SISTER LOUISE AND ROSINE. Illustrated by H. M. BROCK. 
,, XVII. KATE COVENTRY. Illustrated by H. M. BROCK. 
,, XVIII. CERISE. Illustrated by H. M. BROCK. 
,, XIX. QUEEN'S MARIES. Illustrated by G. H. JALLAND. 
XX. HOLMBY HOUSE. Illustrated by G. H. JALLAND. 
,, XXL GENERAL BOUNCE. Illustrated by H. M. BROCK. 
,, XXIL GLADIATORS. Illustrated by HARRINGTON BIRD. 
,, XXIII. GOOD FOR NOTHING. Illustrated by H. M. BRCCK. 
XXIV. THE INTERPRETER. Illustrated by H. M. BROCK. 

The Standard. " He made the sporting novel something so entirely different 
to what it had been, that he must be recognised as the originator of a new species 
more elevated, more refined, and more largely imbued with the spirit of modern 
society." 

Saturday Review. "What is most rare in writers of this class, Whyte- 
Melville possessed to a considerable degree namely, the ability to hold the 
attention of readers, whether they were sportsmen or not." 

The Times. "The edition has everything to recommend it externally." 

The Times. "Good paper and type and a good serviceable binding." 

The Field. " Altogether a pleasure to read." 

Pall Mall Gazette. " These tasteful buckram volumes are worthy of the man 
and the matter in them." 

Truth. " Has every claim to be considered an Edition de Ln.\e." 

Spectator. " The pleasant setting of this handsome edition." 



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Demy 8vo. , cloth gilt. 24 vols. 12 125. net. 
AN EDITION DE LUXE OF 

THE WORKS OF G. J. WHYTE-MELVILLE 




Saturday Review. "Fulfils every requirement of the book-lover in paper, 
type, illustrations and binding." 



12 



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H 



O 



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i H 

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Fifth Edition. In Imperial i6mo. 6s. fis. 5-4. Cash, fis. 4-8. 
Uniform with "A Naturalist on the Prowl " and " Behind the Bungalow." 

THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER 

AN INDIAN NATURALIST'S FOREIGN POLICY. 

By EHA. 
WITH FIFTY ILLUSTRATIONS BY F. C. MACRAE. 

IN this remarkably clever work there are most graphically and humor- 
ously described the surroundings of a Mofussil bungalow. The twenty 
chapters embrace a year's experiences, and provide endless sources of 
amusement and suggestion. The numerous able illustrations add very 
greatly to the interest of the volume, which will find a -place on every 
table. 




Field. " It is a very clever record of a year's observations round the bunga- 
low in ' Dustypore.' . . . It is by no means a mere travesty. . . . The writer is 
always amusing, and never dull." 

Chambers 's Journal. " The book is cleverly illustrated by Mr. F. C. Macrae. 
We have only to thank our Anglo-Indian naturalist for the delightful book which he 
has sent home to his countrymen in Britain. May he live to give us another such." 

Allen's Indian Mail. "A most charming series of sprightly and entertaining 
essays on what may be termed the fauna of the Indian bungalow. . . . We 
have no doubt that this amusing book will find its way into every Anglo-Indian's 
library." 

Knowledge. " This is a delightful book, irresistibly funny in description and 
illustration, but full of genuine science too. . . . There is not a dull or uninstruc- 
tive page in the whole book." 

Graphic. " It is a pleasantly written book about the insects and other 
torments of India which make Anglo-Indian life unpleasant, and which can be 
read with pleasure even by those beyond the reach of the tormenting things Kha 
describes." 

Saturday Review. "The volume is full of accurate and unfamiliar obser- 
vation." 



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Fourth Edition. Imperial 161110. 6s. Rs. 5-4. Cash, Rs. 4-8. 

BEHIND THE BUNGALOW. 

By EH A. 

With Fifty-Three Clever Sketches by the Illustrator of" The Tribes." 

As " The Tribes on my Frontier" graphically and humorously described 
the Animal Surroundings of an Indian Bungalow, the present work describes 
with much pleasantry the Human Officials thereof, with their peculiarities, 
idiosyncrasies, and, to the European, strange methods of duty. Each chapter 
contains Character Sketches by the Illustrator of "The Tribes," and the work 
is a " Natural History " of the Native Tribes who in India render us service. 




The World. "There is plenty of fun in ' Behind the Bungalow,' and more 
than fun for those with eyes to see. These sketches may have an educational 
purpose beyond that of mere amusement ; they show through all their fun a keen 
observation of native character and a just appreciation of it." 

The Graphic. " 'The Tribes on My Frontier' was very good : ' Behind the 
Bungalow ' is even better. Anglo-Indians will see how truthful are these sketches. 
People who know nothing about India will delight in the clever drawings and 
the truly humorous descriptions ; and, their appetite for fun being gratified, they 
will not fail to note the under-current of sympathy." 

The Queen. " The native members of an Anglo-Indian household are hit off 
with great fidelity and humour." 



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In Imperial 161110. I2S. 6d. A's. 10. 



A NATURAL HISTORY 



MAMMALIA OF INDIA, 

BURMAH AND CEYLON. 
By R. A. STERNDALE, F.R.G.S., F.Z.S., ETC., 

Author of " Seonee," " The Denizens of the Jungle," " The Afghan Knife," etc. 
With 170 Illustrations by the Author and others. 



The geographical limits 
of the present work have 
been extended to all terri- 
tories likely to be reached 
by the sportsman from 
India. It is copiously il- 
lustrated, not only by the 
author himself, but by care- 
ful selections made by him 
from the works of well- 
known artists. 




Knowledge. " It is the very model of what a popular natural history should be. " 
Nature. " An amusing work with good illustrations." 
Saturday Review. " Full of accurate observations, brightly told." 
AthencEum. " The results of a close and sympathetic observation." 
Academy. " It has the brevity which is the soul of wit, and a delicacy of allu- 
sion which charms the literary critic." 

The Times. ' ' The notices of each animal are, as a rule, short, though on some 
of the larger mammals the lion, tiger, pard, boar, etc. ample and interesting 
details are given, including occasional anecdotes of adventure. The book will, no 
doubt, be specially useful to the sportsman, and, indeed, has been extended so as 
to include all territories likely to be reached by the sportsman from India. Those 
who desire to obtain some general information, popularly conveyed, on the subject 
with which the book deals, will, we believe, find it useful." 

The Daily News. "Has contrived to hit a happy mean between the stiff 
scientific treatise and the bosh of what may be called anecdotal zoology." 



K) 



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LAYS OF IND. 



By ALIPH CHEEM. 



COMIC, SATIRICAL, AND DESCRIPTIVE. 
Poems Illustrative of Anglo-Indian Life. 

ILLUSTRATED BY THE AUTHOR, LIONEL INGLIS, R. A. STERNDALE, 

AND OTHERS. 

Tenth Edition. Cloth gilt. 6s. fis. 5-4. Cash, tfs. 4-8. 



The World. "This is a remarkably bright little book. 'Aliph Cheem,' 
supposed to be the nom-de-plume. of an officer in the i8th Hussars, is, after hi^ 
fashion, an Indian Bon Gaultier. In a few of the poems the jokes, turning on local 
names and customs, are somewhat esoteric ; but, taken throughout, the verses are 
characterised by high animal spirits, great cleverness, and most excellent fooling. " 

Liverpool Mercury. " One can readily imagine the merriment created round 
the camp fire by the recitation of the ' Two Thumpers," which is irresistibly droll. 
. . . . The edition before us is enlarged, and contains illustrations by the 
author, in addition to which it is beautifully printed and handsomely got up, all 
which recommendations are sure to make the name of Aliph Cheem more popular 
in India than ever." 

Scotsman. "The 'Lays 'are not only Anglo-Indian in origin, but out-and- 
out Anglo-Indian in subject and colour. To one who knows something of life at 
an Indian ' station ' they will be especially amusing. Their exuberant fun at the 
same time may well attract the attention of the ill-defined individual known as ' the 
general reader.' " 



W. m 'ACKER &- CO., LONDON. 



Imperial i6mo. 65. Rs. 5-4. Cash, Rs. 4-8. 

A NATURALIST ON THE PROWL. 

By EHA, 

Author of " The Tribes on My Frontier " and " Behind the Bungalow." 
Illustrated by 80 Drawings by R. A. STERNDALE, F.R.G.S., F.Z.S., 

Author of " Mammalia of India," " Denizens of the Jungle," " Sconce, " etc., who 
has studied and sketched animals of all kinds in their habitat and at work. 




In this volume the Author conducts his Readers to the Jungles and Country 
round the Home, and with genial humour and practised science teaches the 
interesting art of "how to observe" the structure and habits of Birds, Beasts, 
and Insects. 



Daily Chronicle. " It is one of the most interesting Books upon Natural 
History that we have read for a long time. It is never dull, and yet solid informa- 
tion is conveyed by nearly every page." 

C 



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300 Illustrations. Imperial i6mo. 12$. 6d. 




By COLONEL R. H. BEDDOME, F.L.S., 

Late Conservator of Forests, Madras. 




Nature. ' ' It is the first special book 
of portable size and moderate price which 
has been devoted to Indian Ferns, and is 
in every way deserving of the extensive 
circulation it is sure to obtain." 

Indian Daily News. "I have just 
seen a new work on Indian Ferns which 
will prove vastly interesting, not only to 
the Indian people, but to the botanist 
of this country." 

Gardeners' Chronicle. "The ' Ferns 
of India.' This is a good book, being of 
a useful and trustworthy character. The 
species are familiarly described, and most 
of them illustrated by small figures. " 

Free Press. "Those interested in 
botany will do well to procure a new work 
on the ' Ferns of British India.' The 
work will prove a first-class text book. 



-. . 

to the Fei^ of British India, etc, 

By COLONEL R. H. BEDDOME. 

Containing Ferns which have been discovered since the publication of 
"A Handbook to the Ferns of British India." 

THE INDIGENOUS DRUGS OF INDIA: 

The principal Medicinal Products met with in British India. 
By KANNY LALL DEY, C.I.E., F.C.S., Professor of Chemistry 
and Chemical Examiner to Government ; assisted by WILLIAM 
MAIR, A.P.S. With Portrait. Second Edition. Revised and 
entirely re-written. Demy 8vo., cloth. i6s. net. fis. 12. 
Pharmaceutical Journal "A work on Indian drugs which is thoroughly up to 

date and as reliable as any book can be made, even with the help of experts. 

Indian Daily News. " Will be useful to students and to that very large class 

of people who are interested in developing the resources of the country. . . . 

the work contains a really good index of 4,000 references, and a complete glossary 

to the vernacular narnesr" 



W. TH ACKER &* CO., LONDON. 



Now Ready. Second Edition. 8vo. , cloth. 

REPRESENTATIVE INDIANS. 



By G. P. PILLAI, B.A. 

With Forty Illustrations. 




ISVAR CHANDER VIDYASAGAR, C.I.E. 



Short Biographies of the best representatives of the new t;pe of men who 
have been brought into existence in India since the growth of British power in 
that land. Statesmen : philanthropists : jurists : educationists : archaeologists : 
scholars : religious, social, and political reformers : journalists, and those who 
have promoted industries. 



FORTY BIOGRAPHIES, WITH PORTRAITS. 



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Second Edition. Demy 8vo. , cloth. 105. 6d. 

BULLET AND SHOT 

IN INDIAN FOREST, PLAIN, AND HILL. 

WITH HINTS TO BEGINNERS IN INDIAN SHOOTING. 

By C. E. M. RUSSELL, 

Barrister-at-Law of the Inner Temple, M.R.A.C., late Senior Deputy Conservator 
of Forests, Mysore Service. 

WITH FRONTISPIECE BY C. WHYMPER. 



List of Contents. 



The Indian Bison. 
Bison Shooting. 
Hints to Beginners. 



The Wild Goats of Cashmere and 

Ladakh. 
The Wild Sheep of India. 



TheWild Buffalo, the Yak, andtheTsine. The Rhinacerotidas and Suidas of India. 

The Tiger. Small Animals worth Shooting. 

Incidents in Tiger Shooting. The Principal Game Birds and Wild 

The Panther, Hunting Cheetah, Fowl of India. 

Clouded Leopard, Snow Leopard, j Poachers and Nuisances. 

and Indian Lion. Camp Equipment, Travelling in India, 



The Chief Bears of India. 

The Indian Elephant and Elephant 



Outfit, Servants, etc. 
Rifles and Guns, Ammunition and 



Shooting. Accessories. 

The Deer of India and the Himalayas. , Hints on Skinning and the Preservation 
The Neilgherry Wild Goat, or Ibex of of Trophies. 

S. India. Etc., etc. 

It was frequently brought home to the Author, in the case of 
numerous beginners whom he personally assisted to obtain sport, 
how unfavorably situated such are in a strange country unless so 
aided, and he has endeavoured in the present volume to supply what 
he believes to be a want viz., detailed information for the use of 
the tyro. 

Saturday Review. " We have nothing but praise for his accuracy and for the 
value of his practical advice. . . . Not a few of the chapters are very attractive 
reading, being full of exciting anecdote and picturesque reminiscences. . . . His 
chapters on forest campaigning, camp equipment, and sporting batteries deserve 
careful attention." 

Civil and Military Gazette (Lahore). ". . . Cannot fail to appeal to sports- 
men of every standing, from the veriest tyro, to whom it will prove particularly 
useful, to the oldest hand at the game. . . . The general excellence and com- 
pleteness of the book should ensure it the position of a standard work." 

Land and Water. "A handbook for the use of the tyro has long been 
wanted. . . . We recommend this book very strongly to anyone who is going to 
India and intends to shoot. ... It is eminently practical, well-written and 
instructive." 



W. TH ACKER & CO., LONDON. 



A Book for the Sportsman and Traveller. 

Medium 8vo. , cloth extra. izs. 6d. net. 

A SUMMER IN HIGH ASIA. 

A Summer Ramble through Baltistan and Ladakh. 

By Capt. F. E. S. AD AIR, 

Late Rifle Brigade ; Author of "Sport in Ladakh." 

With a Chapter on CENTRAL ASIAN TRADE by 
Capt. S. H. GODFREY, late British Joint Commissioner at Leh. 

Seventy Illustrations from Photographs and Drawings taken on the spot, and a 
Map of the route. 




Daily News. "To the big game haunts of Ladakh and Baltistan there are 
few guides as good and as interesting to read as the author of this book." 

Asian (Calcutta). " It is above all things the handiwork of a sportsman, and 
conveys brightly and pleasantly an excellent account of a five months' trip in 
countries already made known to us by several good sportsmen." 



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Second Edition. Crown 8vo. Ks. 4-8. 

COW KEEPING IN INDIA 

A Simple and Practical Book on their Care 
and Treatment, 

Their Various Breeds, and the means of rendering them Profitable. 
By ISA TWEED. 

With 39 Illustrations, including the various breeds of Cattle, drawn 
from photographs by R. A. STERNDALE. 




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POULTRY KEEPING 
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By ISA TWEED, 

Author of "Cow Keeping in India." 




ORPINGTONS. 



HANDBOOK ON 

DUCKS, GEESE, TURKEYS, 

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New Edition in 
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GAME, SHORE, 

AND 

WATER BIRDS OF 
INDIA. 

BY 

COL. A. LE MESSURIER, 

R.E. 



A VADE MECUM FOR THE SPORTSMAN, EMBRACING 

ALL 7 HE BIRDS AT ALL LIKELY TO BE MET WITH 

IN A SHOOTING EXCURSION. 

Knowledge "Compact in form, excellent in method and arrangement, and, 
as far as we have been able to test it, rigidly accurate." 

Home News. "Will be a source of great delight, as every ornithological 
detail is given, in conjunction with the most artistic and exquisite drawings." 



HOW TO KNOW THE 
INDIAN .DUCKS. 

By FRANK FINN, B.A., F.Z.S., 

Deputy Superintendent, Indian Museum. 
Crown 8vo. Sewed. Rs. 2-8. 



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Third Edition, revised. With numerous full-page and other Illustrations. 
DemySvo. , cloth. 155. 

THE ROD IN INDIA. , 

Being Hints how to obtain Sport, with remarks on the Natural 
History of Fish and their Culture. 

By H. S. THOMAS, F.L.S., Madras Civil Service, Retired, 

Author of "Tank Angling in India." 




Field. " A masterly treatise on the art of angling." 

Spectator. "A more complete guide to its subject than could be found 
elsewhere." 

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic Neivs. "His book has been for years a 
standard work perhaps, without injustice to others, it may be described as the 
standard work upon Indian angling." 



26 



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THE COMMON SENSE OF RIDING. 
In Imperial i6rno. Handsomely bound. io.r. 6d. 

RIDING FOR LADIES. 

With Hints on the Stable. 

By MRS. POWER O'DONOGHUE, 

Author of " Ladies on Horseback," "A Beggar on Horseback," etc. 
With 91 Illustrations drawn expressly for the Work by A. Chantrey Corbould. 

HIS able and beautiful 
volume will form a Stan- 
dard on the Subject, and 
is one which no lady can 
dispense with. The scope 
of the work will be under- 
stood by the following : 

CONTENTS. 

I. Ought Children to Ride? 
n. " For Mothers & Children." 
in. First Hints to a Learner, 
iv. Selecting a Mount. 
v. , vi. The Lady's Dress, 
vn. Bitting. vin. Saddling. 
ix. How to Sit, Canter, &c. 
x. Reins, Voice, and Whip. 
xi. Riding on the Road, 
xn. Paces, Vices, and Faults, 
xii r. A Lesson in Leaping, 
xiv. Managing Refusers, 
xv. Falling. 

xvi. Hunting Outfit Considered. 
xx. Shoeing. xxm. Doctoring. 

XXI. Feeding. XXIV. Breeding, 

xxn. Stabling. xxv. "Tips." 




- *fv^s*SPf~J 

XVII. Economy in Riding Dress, 
xvni. Hacks and Hunters, 
xix. In the Hunting Field. 



New York Sportsman.- "When there may arise differences of opinion as to 
some of the suggestions contained in this volume, the reader, especially if a woman, 
may feel assured she will not go far astray in accepting what is said by one of her 
own sex, who has the distinction of three times beating the Empress of Austria in 
the hunting field, from whom she ' took the brush.' ' Riding for Ladies ' is certain 
to become a classic." 



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Demy 8vo. , cloth. 125. 

A SERVANT OF "JOHN COMPANY." 

(THE HON. EAST INDIA COMPANY.) 

Being the Recollections of an Indian Official. 

By H. G. KEENE, C.I.E., Hon. M.A. (Oxon.), 

Author of "Sketches in Indian Ink," etc. 

WITH A PORTRAIT IN PHOTOGRAVURE. 
Illustrated by W. SIMPSON from the Author's Sketches. 




Palace at Deeg, near Agra. Double Cornice commended by Fergusson. 

Saturday Review. "Those who are interested in the life and work of an 
Indian magistrate, collector, commissioner, and judge, before and after the 
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LADIES IN THE FIELD. 



EDITED BY 



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Crown 8vo. , 6s. 



28 



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HINDU 
MYTHOLOGY: 

Vedic and Puranic. 

BY 

REV. W. J. WILKINS, 

OF THE LONDON MISSIONARY SOriKTY, 
CALCUTTA. 



Illustrated by One Hundred Engraving 1 :, 
chiefly from Drawings by Native Artists. 



Reviews. 

Home News. ' ' His aim has been to give a faithful account of the Hirdu deities, 
such as an intelligent native would himself give, and he has endeavoured, in order 
to achieve his purpose, to keep his mind free from prejudice or theological bias. 
To help to completeness he has included a number of drawings of the principal 
deities, executed by native artists. The author has attempted a work of no little 
ambition and has succeeded in his attempt, the volume being one of great interest 
and usefulness ; and not the less so because he has strictly refrained from diluting 
his facts with comments of his own. It has numerous illustrations." 

Guardian. " Mr. Wilkins has done his work well, with an honest desire to 
state facts apart from all theological prepossession, and his volume is likely to be a 
useful book of reference." 

Indian Daily News. " In Mr. Wilkins' book we have an illustrated manual, 
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information." 

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" Hindu Mythology : Vedic and Puranic," etc. Second Edition. 
Crown 8vo. js. 6d. 
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29 



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HUNTING REMINISCENCES. 

By ALFRED E. PEASE, M.P. 

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY THE LATE SIR FRANK LOCKWOOD, CUTHBERT 
BRADLEY, HEYWOOD HARDY, AND FROM PHOTOGRAPHS. 

CONTKNTS. The Cambridge Drag and House of Commons Steeplechase. 
The Life of a Hunter. Hounds. Hare-Hunting. Fox-Hunting. Badger- 
Hunting. Cub-Hunting. The Greatest Run I ever Saw, etc. 




Reduced Illustration from a Drawing by Sir Frank Lockwood. 

Whitehall Review. " A book which it is difficult to put down until after the 
last page has been turned, and even then we feel an inclination to turn back and 
begin it all over again. " 

Speaker. "The standing-out feature of Mr. Pease's volume is the sketch 
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The Second Edition, Revised, and with additional Illustrations by the Author. 
Post 8vo. 8s. 6d. 




OR, 



CAMP LIFE ON THE SATPURA RANGE. 

A TALE OF INDIAN ADVENTURE. 

By R. A. STERNDALE, 

Author of "Mammalia of India," "Denizens of the Jungle," etc 







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With an Appendix containing a brief Topographical and Historical Account 
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A New and Revised Edition. Illustrated with Portraits and Maps. 2 vols. 
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THE HISTORY OF CHINA. 

By DEMETRIUS C. BOULGER, 

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Morning Post. ". . . For the purpose of information it would be difficult 
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Pall Mall Gazette. " Regarded as a history pure and simple, indeed, Mr. 
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Demy 8vo. , cloth, izs. 

THE CAVE DWELLERS OF 
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Recollections of a Sojourn with the Khalifa of Matmata. 

Translated from the Danish of Daniel Bruun. 

By L. E. A. B. 

WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS. 

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valuable book." 



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