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said to follow up the discharge by the piece by the discharge of a stone. It is likewise said that few venture to take aim except with the stone; they generally attach the gun to a tree, and without pointing it consider that they have performed a dangerous feat by causing its discharge. All the musketeers I saw, even when there was no ball in the gun, certainly averted their faces very studiously when the due fizzing of the powder warned them that the explosion would soon come on.
The most common weapon next the dha is the bow : this we only saw practised at Dewangiri, and the result was not alarming. The bows are longer than ordinary, at least so they appeared to my inexperienced eyes. It must be remembered that they do not, as in some more civilised places, fire at marks the size of an ordinary house. The mark which we saw was a small battledoor-shaped piece of wood, the distance was 150 yards, and the situation of the mark was pointed out by branches of trees ; scarcely an arrow alighted within reasonable distance, yet the mark bore several marks, which we knew were made for the occasion. Each archer was very noisy in applauding his own skill, and challenging the others to equal it.
The dress of the women likewise consists of a loose garment, and is very similar to that worn by Hill tribes to the eastward of Assam. They have very few ornaments: the chief ones consist of a plate of silver fastened round the head, and crossing the upper part of the forehead, wire ear-rings of large dimensions, and peculiar rings fastened to a straight silver wire and worn projecting beyond the shoulder. They appear to be fond of flowers, and frequently decorate themselves with garlands, particularly of the scarlet rhododendron and the weeping willow.
The diet of the lower orders is very, very poor ; they appear to live entirely on grain of an inferior nature, or in the wheat districts on coarse, abominably dirty chowpatties. There can be little doubt but that in many places they are not unfrequently much pinched by want.
The chiefs and their followers, and the inmates generally of the castles, live chiefly on rice brought from the plains; they likewise consume much dried fish, and very likely not a little dried meat, which they prepare by means of fire and smoke. They are as strict in their ideas of not eating flesh of living animals as the Burmese are ; and they are beyond doubt very fond of animal diet : the salt is I believe brought from Thibet : they eat with the hand.
Their beverages are in the first place tea, but this is I believe used only by persons of some rank or property: they procure this from
Thibet, in the form of huge flat cakes : it does not possess a particle of aroma. Still more common is the beverage called runga pat, which may be likewise used for the tea; if their accounts can be relied on it is prepared from the leaf of a pear or medlar. I had no anxiety to taste it as it was of a muddy appearance and reddish colour.
Of intoxicating fluids they have two; one of these is merely fermented, and is known by the name of chong; it is a vile preparation from rice, made in the same manner, but very inferior in quality to that used by the Singphos. To this drink, which is not strong, they are immoderately addicted, and it generally is carried with them on journeys in large horns made from the horns of the Mithan.
The distilled liquor I had one opportunity of tasting; it was very clear, and much resembled weak whisky, as the Soobah had I imagine diluted it prior to distribution to the spectators.
The political relations of the country are as limited as the boundaries. With Sikkim they appear to have no intercourse. In the Kampas to the eastward there is some reason to believe that they pay an annual tribute. That they are tributary indirectly to Lhassa, and now directly to China, there can be no doubt, although the official people most strenuously denied it. It was affirmed indeed that a considerable time ago the Chinese were in actual possession of the country, but relinquished it finally on account of its poverty. China also exercises its authority in inflicting fines on them, and keeps guards on all the passes into Thibet. The tribute is taken I believe annually to Lhassa accompanied with an envoy. With the British government its chief relations have existed owing to the occupation of certain tracts in the plains called Dooars, from their being situated near the passes into the mountains. These tracts are of considerable extent, and are held by the Booteas on toleration, as the tribute they are under the obligation to pay is not only so small in amount as to be quite nominal, but is generally allowed to lapse into arrears.
In assigning the continuation of the possession of these tracts whereever an accession of dominion was gained, the British government acted with its usual liberal policy; but this liberality has been so little appreciated by the people of Bootan, that the system, as it has worked hitherto, has been fraught with mischief; it has been most positively injurious to the territories in the plains, and it is, I think, injurious to Bootan itself.
We had ample opportunities of observing the extremity of misrule to which the Dooars in Assam as well as those in Rungpore are subjected by the infamous government of the Booteas, and it was the more striking from the contrast presented by our Assamese territories,
and as much so, by those of Cooch Behar. The crossing of a river eighty yards wide is sufficient to carry one from a desert into a country, every inch of which is highly cultivated ; yet the richness of the soil is in favour of the tracts immediately contiguous to the Hills, and such are, in Assam at least, especially esteemed by the most laborious part of the population, the Kacharies; and were it not for this predeliction in favour of these tracts, and the short-sightedness peculiar to a native population, by which immunity from taxation is preferred to security of property, the Assamese Dooars would rapidly become totally depopulated.
A gift long granted as a favour, in the eyes of an Asiatic, is soon considered as a right; and although the Bootea government has received some severe lessons in the shape of capturing their impregnable places, and of a resumption of portion of the Plain tracts, yet the free and quick restoration of the same on apologies having been made, with copious professions of better behaviour in future, has been attended with a very different result from that which would be occasioned by gratitude. The very severe lesson which they were taught in 1836, in which they were completely disgraced by being defeated by a handful of sebundies, and then punished by losing a Dooar, has taught them nothing. That very same Dooar, perhaps too liberally restored, has been for some months seizable for arrears of tribute. Nor is this all; since that restoration it would appear that their officers have become more than usually insolent. I think that it may fairly be assumed, that they argue on the certainty of restoration, so that a good foray might possibly, if its consequences were only temporary resumption, be a source of profit to them. By the plan of allowing barbarians to hold country in the plains, the inhabitants of those plains lose a portion of their most fertile soil ; many of them are besides exposed to all the inconveniences and dangers of an unsettled frontier, for such must such a frontier be ;* and hitherto it has not been attended, at least in many places, with the expected effect of securing the friendship of the Booteas, and the quiet of the frontier.
But no argument can place the matter in a clearer light than the facts connected with Herr Govindh, a subject of Bootan, but who is now independent both of Bootan and of the English government, and who therefore enjoys considerable tracts of country without paying any thing for them ; nor can any thing more forcibly point out the weakness of the Bootea nation, for not only does Herr Govindh keep them in effectual check, but he has, I believe, offered to take all the Dooars
* Occupation of such tracts is very favourable to the carrying off of slaves, an habitual practice I have no doubt with the Booteas.
from them, if the government will allow him to pay 40,000 Rupees a year as tribute.
It acts injuriously on Bootan by diminishing the energies of its inhabitants, and suppressing the development of those resources which every habitable country may be supposed to possess. It must be remembered that the cultivation of the Plain tracts is not, as in some other instances, carried on by the inhabitants of the mountains, but by the natives of the Plains, who after reaping the produce of their labour appear to be compelled to take it to the first station in the Hills, from which it is distributed to the appointed places.
In all cases of entreaty for restoration it has been urged that the in. habitants of Bootan cannot subsist without these tracts, but they forget that by labouring in their own country they might supply themselves either with grain, or the means of purchasing it; and further, that the supplies drawn from the Plains are only enjoyed by the chiefs and their followers.
Some distress would doubtless result from immediate and final resumption, but this distress would be confined to the better orders, and would be a due punishment to them; it would in a short time be abundantly counteracted by the reduction of the Gylongs, and by the compulsion of a great number of idle hands to work for subsistence. It would also, I think, have a beneficial effect in lessening internal commotions. The ambition or rapacity of a chief is now readily seconded by the greediness of his idle followers, but were these necessitated to become agriculturists they would certainly not respond very readily to his call; as matters now stand, in short, there is a ruinous drainage of a very fertile tract of country, without any sort of return whatever ; for the revenue derived from one Dooar during, & short season that it remained in our hands was amply beyond all proportion to the tribute ; and it may fairly, I think, be stated that a country which draws every thing from another, and makes no return, may be compared to a parasite, the removal of which is always desirable, and very frequently essential.
The Bootan government has been invariably treated with great liberality by the greatest power in the East, and how has it requited it? It has requited it by the rejection of a treaty which could only be productive of advantage to them, by shuffling mendacity, by tampering with British subjects, and by inconsiderate conduct to a British Mission, evinced in many other ways than that of opening its dâks. They object to forwarding communications to Lhassa, they object to British traders entering their country, and, in fine, they object to every thing that is reasonable, and that would be mutually advantageous. In short, they shewed themselves to be ignorant, greedy barbarians, such as should be punished first, and commanded afterwards.
The objection raised against the resumption of the Dooars, on the plea that no check will then exist on the Booteas, is one contrived to meet expediencies : it has never been attended with the supposed effect. The affair of Herr Govindh, and the recent victory at Silkabhari are convincing proofs that the Booteas may easily be kept within their own limits. And even arguing the necessity of an increased military force, it must not be forgotten that the same tract which now yields us nothing but a few debased coins, a few inferior ponies, with abundance of disputes and law suits, would in a very short time become equal in richness to any of the neighbouring tracts, rich as these undoubtedly are.
(Nalural productions, agriculture, domestic animals, arts, and commerce.] Few wild quadrupeds were seen by us in Bootan. Tigers, leopards, and elephants are to be found on the lower ranges, and probably the former straggle up to as considerable a height as they do to the westward. The chief beasts of prey in the interior are bears, but they do not seem to be numerous, and foxes of large size and great beauty : these last are confined to considerable elevations, and none were seen under 8000 feet.
Monkeys as usual abound on the lower ranges, on which the Hoollock of Assam likewise occurs. Some long-tailed monkeys occurred above Bulphai, 8200 feet above the sea ; and in January I likewise saw a flock of noble ones not far from Tongsa, at an elevation of 5800 feet; these were white, and in form and size resembled the Langoors. Among wild ruminants, I may mention the barking deer, which however scarcely ascend above 4000 feet, and the musk deer, the most valuable wild animal of the country. It would appear to be rather common on the higher ranges, as several skins were brought to us from Punukka ; the price for us, of a perfect one, that is without the musk, being five rupees.
The smaller animals that came under our notice were a species, I believe, of Lagomys, which Lieut. Blake found dead on the path, one or two animals of the weasel kind, and rats which swarm in very many of the houses.
Three or four species of squirrel were likewise procured, all from elevations of 5500 feet, yet all were likewise natives of Assam. The