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(32) Hints respecting the lading of cattle [[172]]

[[172]] Bearers of all descriptions are apt to carry too much luggage for themselves, stowing it, to an unmerciful amount, on the back of some poor camel, or on some cart, which their master thinks is very lightly laden. The mischief is not suspected till he notices, day after day, the late arrival of his baggage, or receives a report that his cattle have sore backs, &c. &c.; and this in situations where no substitutes can be found for the disabled beasts. To correct this evil, it is desirable to give notice that whatever is found thus clandestinely laden, shall be certainly destroyed.

Williamson 1810 vol. 1: ((310)) Let me recommend my mode of correcting this evil; under which I was so often, and so grievously, a sufferer, that at length, a radical cure became indispensable. I made a point of lagging behind sometimes, or perhaps of riding back, and of stopping my camels, &c. to see what, besides my own property, might be on their backs. It is inconceivable what bundles of cloaths, pots, and pans, were burthened: nay, even perroquets sometimes formed a part of the group.

In the first instance, I gave fair warning, that whatever was found thus clandestinely laden, should be destroyed: after that, I spared nothing; but caused all the brass vessels to be beat up with a tent-mallet, and the rest of the ((311)) luggage to be burnt. The consequence was such as might be expected; my baggage was always up in excellent time, and my cattle were no more chafed and galled, by excessive burthens.

I anticipate the observation, that the drivers were to blame. True, but few of them have the resolution to withstand solicitation, or perhaps a small douceur, in some shape or other; and as to discharging them, it is not always practicable, the greatest fear being that they should discharge themselves. Elephants and camels must not be put into the hands of novices: neither will they always submit to be ruled by strangers.

The bearers, as just observed, are generally concerned in these instances; because every other servant has usually some family, or shares some tattoo (pony), which conveys his luggage, and would be peculiarly liable to discovery. On the other hand, the bearer, probably a temporary servant, and a sort of alien in the camp, cannot dispose of his luggage like the regular servants: besides, all this tribe are either penurious or dissipated. They either hoard every cowrie, or run in[to] debt, and then, to avoid payment, run away.


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