26 Jan 1897

Boots (see back Dec 16. 1896) My new wool work slippers arrived. One boy directly asked me to order him a pair. They were likened to a wild cat. Discussion as to whether Cap Loch’s white cricket shoes or my new wool work ones were the prettier. Lushai boys have a passion for boots. Collect them like boys at home collect postage only they are content with fewer specimens. Boy who possesses an old pair of sepoys 8s or 10s is the envy of his mates. One day I heard them having an argument as to whether I slept in my boots.

The James & Mary Quicksands (Miss Goreham)

When Miss G. was coming out to be married to Pettigrew her boat struck the James & Mary Quicksands as it was coming up the Hoogly [sic. Hooghly]. All had to put on lifebelts. Ship listed more & more. Passengers all put on tiny tug where they were much crowded, expecting the ship to capsize. After 24 hours suspense the vessel got off the quicksands passengers were on board again & were safely landed in Calcutta. All was in readiness for the marriage, which had to be postponed on account of this mishap. Thankful for the great deliverance.

10 Feb 1897

Monotonous Diet Same food week after week &c. If man partakes of the nature of the creature upon which he feeds there is little doubt that we shall soon start crowing & cackling.

Adventure on a Landslip. See letter. Terrible experience on a landslip while on way to Thangphunga’s village to see a sick woman on a Sunday.

Boiled Dog. Found our friend, a Chin, sitting outside village boiling tasty little puppy whose twin brother doggie was sniffing round the pot as if knew that his late companion & playmate was at rest beneath the bubbling water.

Wife or Pigs, which?

Chhingkhupa messengers attached to Mr Porteous, office brought his wife here one day suffering with chest complaint, in a very bad state. Recommended hospital. Said that it was impossible as no one at home to feed the pigs. Pointed out that after a month in hospital wd. be able to feed pigs for many years, but otherwise she wd. only be able to feed them for a few weeks and they wd. be left without a mistress altogether. He loved his pigs better than his wife so took her home to attend to them & she presently died. Before she passed away he got married to another woman & gave a man in the village 20/- to mind his new wife until the old one should breathe her last. Whether this marriage was in interest of pigs cannot say. Lushai men cannot manage without wife as there wives do chopping & bringing of wood, drawing water, cleaning rice & help jhoom.

We being bachelors is a puzzle to Lushais. Often ask us how our wives & children are. Do not believe us when we tell them that we are unmarried

Learning to Pray. The children learning the Lords prayer. seems so strange to them to close eyes & fold hands and speak to God just as to father or mother.

Whirlwinds. Every now & then this curious phenomenon may be seen running along the dusty road, through the dustier villages & among the jungle trees, forming a curious little column of dust and leaves, revolving rapidly. It is the delight of the children to rush into the centre of these miniature whirlwinds & let it blow their scanty garments round & round. Sometimes the stronger ones lift a roof off a house or two.

The other day quite a strong one might have been seen in the village close to our house, & as it whirled up & down the street a column of dust rose as high as the eye could reach. At first the children were having rare sport with it, & then it got too strong for them to venture near & as it went first here then there they had to be pretty sharp to evade it. We fully expected to see the fowls and chickens carried up into the sky but the column was only about 3 ft through so they too managed to dodge it. Presently however it passed over one of the houses upon the roof of wh. was a mat covered with cotton pods placed there to dry. There was a shout of delight from the children as up went mat, cotton, & all into the blue sky whirling round & round until it reach [sic. reached] a certain height where it was scattered hither & thither & fell like snow.

These winds are the more curious because the air everywhere else is quite still. We see several of them most days at this season.

Season of Fleas. Village deserted so the poor things must seek fresh hunting ground & they find our house convenient. Capt Loch asked us to put our trousers inside our socks before entering his house if we preferred not to be bitten. Knight driven out of some of his rooms by swarms of fleas.

22 Feb 1897

Earthquake shock. The Lushai when there is an earthquake shock call out “Ka la daw e! Ka la daw e! (I am still alive! 2) They think God is shaking the earth to see whether inhabitants are still living.

We had earthquake shock in evening. We thought it a gayal against the wall of the house & rushed out. Khuma also rushed out of the cookhouse & looked behind the buildings as he thought it a thief spying through wall as he did a few nights ago & then enter after light put out & steal coat, loin cloth & buttons.

\uppropto Giving a Lushai a Bath. Fred made Saichhunga (one of the house boys) have a bath under his supervision. In fun he asked him if he had ever bathed in his life & he answered in quite a serious tone that he remembered having had one twice at any rate. Although Fred made him use a stone to scour himself with and plenty of soap & hot water it seemed to make very little impression upon the coating of dirt on his chest and legs.

Castor Oil – the Lushais’ love for.

I wish you cd. see the way these Lushai take that most abominable of medicines – castor oil. We always give it to them “neat” & to see the way in wh. they lick the spoon & smack their lips would make you marvel. If we ask them if they like it they will reply “Tui tak ani” (it is very nice) & I believe they wd. drink a bottle of the vile stuff if we wd. let them. Verily tastes differ.

Extravagant Cooks. We pay shopkeepers 1st of every month. Send slips for articles purchased. If lost don’t pay – never lost – may pretend – if paid will bring slip next month & try to get payment over again. In January came to: –

ghee 14 lbs.   onions 14 lbs.   salt 8lbs.   & the boys had used for themselves 3 lbs of soap.

The salt seemed rather disproportionate to the establishment, the onions more so, the 14 lbs of ghee fairly took our breath away; & we concluded that the soap must have very feeble dirt destroying powers. We have now limited Khuma to 8lbs of ghee a month ⊗ which has been quite sufft during the past month. Where the other 6 lbs went to he only knows. He says he used it to grease the tins when making bread. If we had wives they would save us enough to keep themselves by looking after things. We are too busy.

(⊗P.S. 1910. This has been found to be perfectly true. [Illegible] now allows our cook 4 lbs of ghee a month & other things in proportion. When ghee, with [Illegible] of our cook, was reduced from 8lbs to 2 lbs Zahawla out house boy asked me the reason why the new cook would not give him ghee to cook the food with)

⊗P.S. Now I have a wife she allows [Illegible] 2 1/2 lbs of ghee monthly &

says that is is [Illegible].

1916. Ghee has now been reduced to 2 1/2 lbs monthly. It pays to have a wife!

25 Mch 1897

First tour in Lushai with Mr Porteous. Sell See full description dated 25/3/97 Some of the pen and ink sketches in this article would make into good lantern slides.

Bamboo spikes & steep hillside

How to experience the sensation at home.

If you wd. like to know what the sensation of walking down such a path is like, spread a strip of oilcloth on the back stairs (the front stairs will not be steep enough) taking care not to have it fastened down with stair rods, the spread a thick coating of rushes & leaves on the oil cloth, stick up one or two spiked poles on each stair to represent the cut bamboo & then try to walk down without catching hold of the banister or sitting on any of the spikes. If you follow close one on anothers heels the effect will be heightened, and if the balusters are removed altogether you will find it more realistic still – for there is often the danger of going over a precipice.

Rock Houses Exceedingly ancient. For protecting children from a big bird like Sinbad’s “Roe” which used to take them away. Bird is called “Mura”. We got into one rock house. Would hold 10, 12 people squatting. No room to stand upright.

Sketch would make good lantern slide.

10 Apr 1897

Porteous’ Bill for Rs 108/- We expected that we were Mr. P’s guests on this tour. He invited us to come & gave us more coolies than we asked for as he said we should be more comfortable with more luggage. At end of tour sent in Bill of 108/- for food & hire of 5 coolies for a month.

“Men laugh and jest till the feast is oer

Then comes the reckoning & they laugh no more”

Eno’s fruit Salt Co fond of quoting the above, a dose of their medicine being supposed to prevent such a sad ending to a pleasant party. It would have taken more than a glass of Eno’s fruit salts to have kept up our spirits when that bill came in.

Jhoom Fires

The country all around is enveloped in deep gloom, for the natives on all sides have been firing their jhooms the last few days, & the smoke is hanging about in a most depressing manner. Sometimes a fire 6 or 7 miles away will be so tremendous that the air will be filled with the roar of the flames & the ground seems to tremble beneath our feet. You may judge how dangerous is the task of firing such masses of cut & dried bamboo. Occasionally men get burned to death. A hillside is generally chosen for a jhoom & the firing is always commenced at the bottom & the flames spread over the whole hillside in a surprisingly short time. The heat given off by burning bamboo is tremendous.

Mr. H's Vocabulary 500 words against our 5000.

Absolutely unreliable vocabulary. Most amusing thing in book is the meaning he has put to a word which is his own nickname (the Lushai give every sahib a nickname) It is the word “Rawng” & he has described it as meaning “good natured”, whereas it means just the opposite i.e. a bully. (or as the Lushai explain it – a man who makes himself a perfect nuisance everywhere he goes, by meddling with other peoples property, smashing their pots &c, stealing their livestock &c

The author is a man with no ear for sound & spells his words in a most curious way. The word for “hungry” is rilṭâm which he has rendered “rel tram”. All cerebral ts he has concerted into trs, & ng he sometimes makes out to be hn, & aspirated consonants he has ignored altogether.

The fact of the matter is some men like to see their name up in print, especially in the front of a book & they feel pretty certain that not many at any rate will know that they have only exposed their own ignorance when they write a book on such a little known language.

Many officers who have been up here for a few weeks or months have managed to get something printed – an article, handbook, vocabulary or what not – it is very funny to read what they say. (See next page)

Elephant Headed Lushais.

According to one “authority” whose leader I was reading in a paper the other day, the meaning of Lushai is “Elephant headed” (founded on a mispronunciation of “Lushai”) & he went on to say that the people have “the great head, small eyes & flapping ears of the pachyderm” – but he was obliged to confess that there were not even the smallest signs of a budding trunk.

Unreclaimable Savages. Another man a few months ago in writing to the papers called the Lushais “unreclaimable savages”. That was the C. of C. & it so happened that just about that time I was talking to a Lushai who had been down to  Chittagong C – & he was telling me that the very man who wrote that libel had quite frightened him by the abominable language which he used to his servants & by the savage manner in wh. he addressed all natives whose unpleasant duty it was to come near him. The man who wrote the article was more of a savage than the people of whom he wrote!

26 Apr 1897

Lushai Fowls &c as food.

If I were to think too much of the filthy sickening ways of the people I should starve myself to death rather than eat a fowl or vegetable from these Lushai houses.

Savunga – my visit to him.

How god led one to visit old Savunga in his village & what it resulted in

Meeting in Khamliana’s Zawlbuk

The meeting in this zawlbuk at night, the bugs at night, the journey home

The whole of the above wd. make

Very good article for “Missionary Herald”

Welsh Mission to send Jones asking them to send him out at zawlbuk once before we leave.

15 May 1897

Post official’s Leisurely ways

(see letter)

Lushai runners (?) strolling not running up road with their loads upon backs in wicker baskets Take 6 to 8 hours from Sairang to Aijal (12 1/2 miles) so they do not hurry themselves over much. Fling loads on P.O. floor (rickety old building) Babu proceeds to examine seals & open bags. Letter, parcel &c all turned out on the floor. Bengali Postman squats on ground & very deliberately & slowly stamps them with the mark of Ft. Aijal, banging the inking pad about 6 times for every separate letter & making the old crazy shed shake beneath the blows. The Pmr, clad perhaps in his best white shirt (which by the [sic: then] was seeming to be a lady’s nightdress trimmed round the neck & cuffs & down the front with elegant lace) squats on the opposite side of the litter of letters & sorts them by the light of the smokiest of smoking lamps, making one little pile here for Bara Sahib, another there for the Commandant & so on, & if we happen to be sitting on a stool watching the interesting process he will occasionally hand over a letter or paper to us.

The letters are distributed in the same leisurely fashion (except those for Europeans) & it is no uncommon thing to see the postmaster going round distributing letters to the Babus, Khassies, &c on the evening of the second day after the arrival of the mail.

X   Translation Difficulties

Oh how trying the work is at times! We are now hard at the revision of Luke’s gospel & as we knew far less Lushai when we wrote that book than we do now we find that we have practically to re-translate it – & progress is consequently very slow. We have many things to try us – even in these beautiful mountain heights mosquitoes & sand flies, those most tiresome of pests, irritate us almost beyond endurance, & then always what appear to us to be the most simple passages cause endless wrangling between our native helpers. until we feel inclined to give up the work as a bad job. We sometimes get fairly stuck in a bog, so to speak, & there appears no way of extricating ourselves; a single verse will baffle us for an hour or more & then perhaps after all will be left undone, to be brought up again later on.

Khamliana worked well for the first few days but now he seems to be more trouble than he is help. It takes Suaka all his time to explain things to him & then he always gets hold of the wrong end of the stick. We generally sit out on the verandah for then our men can smoke and chew tobacco to their hearts content & spit as much as ever they please – it is also cooler – but it has its drawbacks in causing the minds of our poor harassed helpers to wander to the hills & forests around.

Time for Furlough Our shirts & sheets & pillow covers are crying out that it is time for us to go on furlough. I am afraid that I look almost like the prodigal son in my tatters. I must not come home looking so disreputable or you will not like to own me. I have no taste for darning and patching now a days & I am afraid we both are getting very lazy in these matters.

Great Earthquake.

Our experiences (see letter) & also letter of June 28

28 Jun 1897

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee

“Company’s Mother” – Lushais wd. be surprised to hear that only reigned 60 years. Think her immortal. Have never heard of any other Sovereign of the Sahibs. Her name of “Kumpi Nu” relic of days of John company which even made its name in these outlandish parts. Lushai know no dates or days. Orders given to prepare bonfires for 21st June & fire on that night when signal given from Aijal. Messengers carry stones corresponding to number of days yet to run, throw one away every night – give each chief number of sticks corresponding with the number of stones left with instructions to throw away one every night & then light the fire (after watching & seeing Aijal signal) on the evening of throwing away the last stick.

At Aijal 150 coolies employed for 3 days cutting wood & constructing bonfire 30 ft high & 90 ft round at base.

From our peak cd. see Aijal below in the twilight. Suddenly flash of light from the fort followed soon after by a roar showed us that the cannon had been fired & suddenly the whole of Aijal & surroundings was illuminated by thousands & thousands of small earthen oil lamps. The effect was very pleasing & while we sat by our [Illegible] (provided by Capt Loch) we amused ourselves by picking out the difft. buildings & watching the bonfires twinkle on the surrounding hills; brighter than all, like a gigantic volcano, glared our own beacon above us.

Next day sports. Sepoys children – putting faces in big basin of flour & searching with their mouths for 4 anna and 2 anna pieces hidden therein.

Evg. dinner together at Shakespears. Torch light tattoo. Bagpipe & drum band in centre playing wierd [sic. weird] music. Large numbers performing intricate figures with torches. [Illegible] by huge circle of sepoys carrying rifles which at the end, just before we all gave 3 hearty cheers for our Queen Empress they fired in successive & thundering volley into the air. Thus ended the Diamond Jubilee Festivals in Aijal.

12 Jul 1897

Bengali Poetry on the Jubilee

One of the Bengali Babus sent up bundle papers written all over with Bengali characters. Series of poems in Bengali on record reign of Queen Empress asked me to translate into English for him. Found it quite beyond me, but offered to correct the English if he wd. get it translated by some of his friends. Few days later rec'd bundle of papers covered with what was supposed to be English poetry. The Babu has actually made the bold attempt of turning his Bengali poetry (which may have been excellent for all I knew) into English verse. On the top of one paper was written “Singingable according to English Air ‘God save the Queen’,” & after many pages of the most funny verse, another poem began, wh. according to the Babu was “Singingable after English air ‘Auld Lang Syne’ (march)”. There was no lack of interest in these noble hymns; horrors of famine were depicted with great talent & the poor Queen was likened to almost everything from a goddess to a lotus. Talk about patriotic!! Listen to this:-

1. “British man of war breasting world over

The Mighty main

Flows with majestic pride up the rapid & tide

Roaringly proclaiming the British fame

2. Shaking vast ocean, raising echo in heaven

British organ

The drum & the trumpet, sound forth blithesomest

Striking terror to foe in right disdain.

3. The French & the Russian, Germany & Austria,

Italy, Spain,

Greece & America, Turkey & Africa

In fear & mighty awe stand of British lion

There were many pages of such rich sentiment as the above, & here & there flashes of real poetry, to wit ‘the cuckoo cuckooeth’, wh. had originally been the ‘the cuckoo cucketh’, but the Babu thought a couple of o s would improve the English while ruining the flow of the verse.

27 Jul 1897

Rose while you wait. In Sep 1897 brought up to Aijal some a slips of roses few inches long from planters garden. It took root & soon after began to flower. At end of June counted 50 full blown roses & buds. Then stopped flowering – end of July came on again & counted 70 full blown roses & buds upon it. large cream coloured blossoms.

Old Lushai chief Savunga died 22 Jly 1897

10 Sep 1897

Jone’s arrival in Lushai

20 bullocks loads luggage have already arrived.

15 more cooley [sic. coolie] loads to come

Our little house getting well filled up.

Our boy remarked when he saw a great packet of soap that Jones must think he is going to live a long time if he hopes to use up all that soap in this life.

O¯r [sic: other]: interesting details see letter.

25 Sep 1897

Rainfall. At Cherrapunji during August 1897 – after the Earthquake – they had 85 inches of rain – & 75 inches of that fell during the first 4 days of that period.

23 Oct 1897

We move to our new house

41 men & women carrying loads all day, right up to sundown. The distance between the homes 2 miles. & most of carriers did 4 journeys there & back. Fred at new house. Jones & I at old house loading up the people as fast as we could all day.

It is astonishing how things accumulate & how rich one seems to be when one has to have all one’s goods carried on men’s backs.

8 Nov 1897

Aspirated consonants.

The Welsh aspirate all their consonants, pronouncing “cat” for instance as though the “c” were represented by “Kh” instead of by “K”. In English matters very little; in Lushai matters very much. Cannot get our pupil to drop aspirating the consonants wh. ought not to be aspirated.

lam = road. hlam = a fathom
ka = I kha = that
ki = horn khi = that up there
tam = much tham = to bribe
pum = a blacksmith shop phum = to bury

How unlike our English “‘Appy ‘Arry & ‘Arriet on ‘Ampstea ‘Eath!” I do not think they would find any trouble in dropping the “h” if they were required to do so.

17 Nov 1897

Noisy Lushai Villages & Preaching

I wish you cd. come & see the interruptions we have to put up with when preaching in a Lushai village. Squealing pigs, bleating goats, yelping puppies, & barking dogs cackling fowls and crowing cocks, squalling babies & talkative mothers. The noise is sometimes so great that I can scarcely hear myself speak, but there are lulls in wh. one is able to do a little teaching & sometimes things are comparatively quiet & one is able to conduct a little meeting without much trouble. It almost seems as if Satan were impelling all the domestic animals of the village to congregate within hearing distance & to do their utmost to counteract any good that might be done.

22 Feb 1897

Our tour in the N.W. and the great eclipse of the Sun.

Buxar crowded with Europeans.

Heard that 15 sheep & 4 bullocks killed to provide meat for the refreshment rooms.

Fred & I slept in waiting room at ought, together with a number of others. One old chap who was sleeping on the floor in a corner snored so forcefully that for hours none of the others could get to sleep. At length they rebelled & shouted at him to stop. I woke up once to find some Tommy [Atteinses?] having an altercation with a native who had amazed them. The snorer was going on as bad as ever & just then one longsuffering man on a seat not far off could stand it no longer & shouted out “shut up”. Tommy thought this rude command was addressed to him & at once turned from the native to the man on the seat & wanted to know ‘who he was “addressing on” at wh. of course a not over polite word battle word battle took place in which the gentleman on the seat came off second best.

The Snorer rebuked (see above)

The Total Eclipse of the Sun.

The minutes slipped by 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 more minutes before the first external contact. We were all quite wise in eclipses having read everything that we cd. lay our hands on for the past 2 months.

One man began to think that perhaps it was all a big hoax & was heard to ask whether the Railway Co would refund him fare if the Eclipse should happen not to come off. Another lady was seen asking the booking stall boy where she could see the eclipse from. All eyes were now directed first to the sun & then to the watch. The minutes became seconds & then just at the instant predicted the edge of the moon was seen to touch the sun & commence gradually to cover it. Oh how long the process seemed! A whole 40 minutes we stayed watching that black object slowly encroaching upon the sun. We cd. not look at the sun except through smoked glasses even when his light was all but covered….As the moment of totality approached all was hushed & every eye was set upon the spectacle wh. was taking place in the heavens. The light gradually decreased, the birds began to feel afraid & we were looking forward to seeing one of the most impressive sights given to man to behold.

‘At last there was only the finest band of light remaining & the next moment that had disappeared. As if by magic the world around us was wrapped in gloom instantaneously. Although the fading of the light had been gradual, the semidarkness which accompanied the totality was sudden & at the same instant the streamers became visible and surrounded the great black ball which was all we could now see where the sun had been. We had expected to see a wonderful display of colour but nothing of the sort appeared to the naked eye. It was all of a very sombre hue but most impressive & grand. Venus who was close to the sun became visible some minutes before totality & shone with great brightness, from where we were we could see no other starts & there was not much time to look for in 104 seconds all was over & the light shot out as suddenly as it had been obstructed. It was a sight wh. will remain impressed upon my memory as long as I live, though I was slightly disappointed at the absence of brilliant colours.

⊗ The total eclipse of the sun in England June 24. 1927. Totality lasted only 23 seconds

The waters of Jumna & Ganges said by Hindoos [Hindus] to wash away sin. Doubly efficacious at an eclipse. 30 or 40 thousand people at Buxar. Each with 2 pots suspended one at each end of pole. All camping out on sand. Take holy water back to distant homes. Sandy plain covered with human beings. Benares simply packed with pilgrims – could have walked down to the river on their heads.

At Allahabad – junction of Jumna & Ganges 1,100,000 people bathed.

Praying during eclipse and bathing. Shout & yell of delight went up when light shot out again. Their prayers had prevailed to rescue the sun from the dragon which had swallowed it.

8 special trains arrived Buxar on morning of the eclipse. We went day before with any others…

[Illegible sentence].


Begin address: Darphoka’s dream

X   X   X

Here is a gap of 5 years

1908 – 09, 00

1898  1899, 1900, 1901, 1902

during which we had out furlough in England, returned to India via the cape and lived in Sadiya. The thread is taken up at beginning of 1903 when we were summoned back to Lushai land.




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