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not, who published his travels in 1787, speaking of the road between Agra and Delhi, observes,
“ The cunningest robbers in the world are in that country. They use a certain rope with a running nooze, which they can cast with so much sleight about a man's neck when they are within reach of him, that they never fail, so that they strangle him in a trice, &c. &c. But, besides that, there are men in those quarters so skilful in casting the snare that they succeed as well at a distance as near at hand; and if an ox or any other beast belonging to a caravan run away, they fail not to catch it by the neck."-Quoted by Capt. Sleeman, p. 10.
On this our author remarks:
“ Now, though there is a vast interval of time between the Persian invasion of Greece and the travels of Thevenot; and of space
between the seat of the Sagartii and that of the ancient capital of India, I am inclined to think that the vagrant bands who, in the sixteenth century, infested the roads as above described, between Delhi and Agra, came from some wild tribe and country of the kind ; and I feel, myself, no doubt that from these vagrant bands are descended the seven clans of Mohammedan Thugs, Bhys, Bursote, Kachunee, Huttar, Ganoo, and Tundell, who by the common consent of all Thugs throughout India, whether Hindoos or Mohammedans, are admitted to be the most ancient, and the great original trunk upon which all the others have at different times and in different places been grafted. Bands of these vagrants, under various denominations, are to be found in all parts of India, but are most numerous, I believe, to the north and west. They all retain, in some degree, their pristine habits and usages; and taking their families with them, they allow their women to assist in the murders which they perpetrate in their encampments; but they have always some other ostensible employment; and as the other Tlugs, who live amongst, and cannot be distinguished from other men, say "they live in the desert, and their deeds are not known.'”-p. 11.
The people mentioned both by Herodotus and Thevenot must have been very different from the present race of Thugs, and more resembling the Guachos with their lassos in South America, whom Captain Head so well describes. In the south of India there is a class of Thugs, who claim to have sprung up in that part, and profess neither to be descended from nor instructed by those of Delhi, whom they consider as an inferior race; and with whom they will not intermarry. These Thugs are divided into various tribes; but as it would be of little use to trouble our readers with a long list of hard and foreign names, we shall only mention one or two who may have any peculiar characteristic.
" Of these are the Mooltaneas, a class of Thugs, all Moossulmans, who are said to have emigrated direct from Delhi, and not through Agra, and therefore not among the Agureeas. They are said to call themselves Naiks, and to travel and trade as Brinjaras, (corn-merchants). They kill the greater part of their female children, and never allow those who survive to marry out of their own class. They travel with their families, and strangle travellers with the cords with which they are accustomed to drive their bullocks, and not, like other Thugs, with the handkerchief. They are among the ancient Thugs, and are considered strict in their observances, and staunch to their oath of secrecy."-p. 117.
The Mooteeas, who reside chiefly about Rungpoor, Dinapoor, and Purnea, derive their name from their custom of giving their leaders a handful (mooteea,) out of every cash booty over and above what they receive in the general division.
“ The Sooseas, a class of Thugs of the Dhanuk, or lowest Hindoo caste, who call themselves Naiks and Thories, and reside in various parts of Malwa and Rajpootana. They have been increasing in numbers for many generations, though they are not considered very ancient, and from their low caste are looked down upon by all the other classes of Thugs, who never eat with them, though often associated with them in their expeditions."-p. 132.
The seven original clans, who were all Mahommedans, and from whom all others are supposed to be derived, are called collectively Sat Ryut. Some say they derived their descent from seven brothers about Delhi. Mussulman Thugs all over India are found to trace their descent from one or other of these great stocks; to be able to do so being a mark of superiority. It is worth remark that there is near Delhi, the tomb of a great saint called Nizam Ooddeen Oulea, who died in October, 1325, A. D. This tomb is visited by Mahommedan pilgrims from all parts of India, as a place of great sanctity, from containing the remains of so holy a man; but the Thugs all make votive offerings to it, as being the tomb of the most renowned Thug of his day. His known lavish expenditure, so much beyond his ostensible means, seems to indicate a dishonest means of obtaining money; although he contrived to propagate the idea that he was supplied from heaven.
One strange circumstance, supposing the idea to be correct that the Thugs were originally Mahommedans, is, that their principal deity is of Hindoo origin; and that their superstitions and ceremonies are much more similar to those of the Hindoos than of the Mussulmans. But it is of little importance to discuss this point in the present paper. Although some classes greatly predominate, the Thugs now comprise men of almost every class and caste in India. This, however, is an infringement on their strict rules, which forbids the admission into the fraternity of low castes. Their habits and cant language are generally similar, as also their modes of proceeding; so that they may be described as one class. Any peculiarity of those of any part of the country, which may be worth mentioning, will be noted hereafter. Thugs are to be found in almost every province, from the Punjab and the foot of the Himalayah to Cape Comorin. They have nothing peculiar in appearance to distinguish them from ordinary inhabitants. In some villages, their profession is not avowedly known to the rest of the residents, but, as a blind, they cultivate a small portion of land, and when questioned as to their absence for months every year, pretend that they go out to service; it being very common for some classes to leave their homes for several months every year in search of employment. At other places, where they are well known to the inhabitants, the protection of the chief, which they have purchased, enables them to be less scrupulous.
Generally speaking, they do not carry on their trade near home, but make long journeys to a distant country. To this, however, there are some exceptions, as observed by Captain Sleeman in the following note.
“ In the districts between the Ganges and the Jumna, there were some associations of Thugs that seldom went far from home, and who made short and frequent excursions. So the Jumaldesee Thugs of Oude and the neighbouring districts; so some of the Thug families in Bundelound. Generally, however, the Thugs north of the Nerbudda bave been in the habit of making long expeditions, and remaining absent from six to eight months on each.”—App. p. 331.
They are usually found in gangs of from ten to fifty; sometimes in much larger numbers, even to five or six hundred, but this is rare; and even when the gangs are so large, they very rarely remain together, except for a day or two, at a rendezvous. They divide into different parties, who either follow each other at intervals, or take different routes ; each party following its prey, as far as it can singly, and collecting together when any work is to be done which requires a larger force. They assume a variety of disguises, and appear in various characters. Sometimes that of ordinary inoffensive travellers ; at others, that of people going to seek for service; at others, that of native soldiers, either going on, or returning from, leave; to make which story more plausible, the leaders would even take the trouble to learn the English drill, while their associates passed for recruits. Occasionally, the head of the gang would assume the appearance of a wealthy merchant, the rest passing for his servants and attendants. In such cases, the very horses, bullocks, and carts, belonging to those who were murdered, were added to his establishment, both to increase his consequence and carry his plunder. But a şmall portion of them carry arms, the less to excite suspicion, They sometimes assume the appearance of natives of rank, or of government servants.
To enable our readers to understand how such proceedings exist, it may be necessary to explain, in a few words, the Indian mode of travelling. Such conveniences as stage coaches, public waggons, and boats, (excepting the Ganges steamers just established by government,) do not exist. There are not even any conveyances which a person may hire from stage to stage, unless in a very few parts of the country, where a traveller might, for a short distance, be supplied at each stage with a pony which would go at the rate of about three miles an hour; and he could hire a few porters to carry his baggage. The only attempt at any thing like travelling post is by going in a palkee (Anglicè, palanquin) carried by bearers.
Travelling dâk, or in a palanquin, is a mode of conveyance only available to the rich. A palkee holds but one, and the charge is never less than one, sometimes two, shillings a mile, as dear as posting in England. The traveller is obliged to give from two to five days' notice to the postmaster, according to the distance; and the average rate of proceeding is about four miles an hour.
In ordinary journeying in India, the traveller is obliged to carry every thing with him. If a rich man accompanied by his family, his goings forth are like those of the patriarchs of old, with his “flocks and herds, his camels, and his beasts of burden, bis menservants and his maidservants;" he travels on his own horses, or on an elephant, while bis tents, beds, cooking vessels, &c., &c., are carried on camels or in carts. Some of his attendants accompany him on horseback, or on ponies; and the rest walk, at the rate of ten or twelve miles a day. Should he travel by water, he bires a comfortable boat for himself and his family, with as many more as he requires for his kitchen and baggage, and embarks with all his retinue. Individuals of less wealth convey their property in a few carts, and are content to sleep and eat under the shelter of trees, or of one of those magnificent groves, mango and other, which are found at a few miles interval in many parts of India. According to the rank or wealth of the individual, his mode of travelling and number of attendants varies ; some bave only a pony to carry their baggage, while they walk on foot; and the poorest not only walk, but carry their own stores, consisting of a blanket or quilt for a bed, a pot of brass or copper
tinned* to boil pulse in or make a curry, a smaller one to drink out of, and a round plate of sheet-iron, on which, supported by two stones or lumps of earth, and with a few sticks or a little cow-dung underneath for fuel, he bakes his cakes of unleavened bread, which is merely flour and water, kneaded for a few minutes. Merchants who have goods to dispatch hire either boats, carts, camels, pack-horses, or bullocks, to convey their wares to their destination; and the same conveyances, and the same drivers or conductors, proceed the whole distance, although it may be five hundred or even a thousand miles. Large sums of treasure or jewellery, amounting sometimes to several thousand pounds at a time, are constantly dispatched by the bankers of one town to their correspondents at several hundred miles distance, by the hands of common porters. These men, instead of going in large parties well armed, usually travel in small numbers, without any arms whatever; trusting for protection to the appearance of utmost poverty which they assume. They, however, often fall victims to the ruthless vigilance of the Thugs.
* It is a curious distinction between the Hindoos and Mussulmans, that the former vill use brass vessels, the latter those made of copper tinned.
There are but few inns or serais in India; the best of them consist but of a quadrangle of arches or arcades. Some of these, raised under the Mahommedan princes, are beautiful specimens of Oriental architecture, with lofty gateways and battlements; but the greater part are more like what are built on the foundation of a new street in London, to be afterwards converted into cellars. Under the native rulers, these buildings were rather numerous and kept in tolerable order; a regular establishment of guards and servants was maintained at them; and there were private doors and apartments for women. Our readers, who are familiar with Oriental tales and the Arabian Nights, will remember them, under the name of caravanserais or khans, as the scene of so many of the adventures therein described. Under the extortion of the earlier English government in India, however, and the consequent impoverishment of the country, all have suffered, more or less, and many of the most splendid are gone entirely to ruin. There are generally a few shops within the square; and, in places of considerable thoroughfare, a few people of a class called Buttearas, who cook dinners for travellers. Where there are no serais, travellers sleep in the verandahs of houses or in any open sheds they can find; but the climate of India is such as not to render shelter necessary for nine months in the year; and none but single travellers or very small parties care for serais or houses. All who are rich enough to carry tents, or those who travel in tolerable numbers, usually prefer encamping under the shade of trees, at some distance from the dirty serais or villages; and when one party is so encamped under a shady grove, a single traveller, or even several together, will easily be induced to join them, and often ask permission to do so, for the sake of protece tion.