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(44) Invitations, visiting, loud music [[206-207]]

Williamson 1810 vol. 1: ((449)) Though the native women retained by European gentlemen very rarely proceed to the rivers to bathe, but content themselves with either the use of a small bath of masonry, or with pots of water, they are nevertheless extremely fond of going abroad in a palanquin, or a r'hut, attended by their dhyes, and with the guttah-tope, or cover, of the vehicle, brought down close on all sides.

It certainly would be uncharitable to annex a bad motive, as inseparable from all such excursions, yet it may probably be considered as a general rule, that such ladies either take the air with the intention of meeting some established gallant, or that they ultimately give way to the flattery and whisperings of their menials, who are rarely proof against a very moderate bribe, and are frequently known to throw an admirer, as though accidentally, in the way of Madam's notice.

[[206]] However reclusive may be the Hindoostanee ladies, yet [[207]] they indulge in certain amusements peculiar to India. The acceptance and transmission of compliments and civilities afford no small gratification: the arrival, or despatch, of a complimentary pawn (beetle), or of an elauchee (cardamom) being an affair of considerable importance among a race whose whole time appears to be devoted to whatever is childish or insignificant. When visits are paid, much ceremony is used, and every endeavour exerted, to appear well-bred and affable.

On such occasions, a profusion of compliments are exchanged, while each narrowly observes the dress, the equipage, and the conduct of the other, but reserves her remarks till a free vent may be given to envy and jealousy, not forgetting a little scandal. Some ladies affect to possess a musical ear, and exercise not only their own lungs, but those of their attendants also, in vociferating various commonplace songs. These captivating strains they accompany with tremendous thumps on a large long drum, called a dhole; or perhaps shewing the agility of their fingers in playing upon a very small kind of tambourine, called a coonjerry.

Williamson 1810 vol. 1: ((450)) Woe be to that kind keeper who should dissent from the fair one's opinion, regarding either the excellence of her performance, or the pleasing tones of the instruments! Where this infatuation exists, the whole neighbourhood is compelled to submit to the nuisance. There would be no use in remonstrating with the lady, through the medium of her servants: and as to parleying with the gentleman on such a subject, that would give great offence; or, at all events, would be unavailing.

The man who submits to such an uproar, for the sake of a quiet life, may be ((451)) considered a living illustration of Shakespeare's ludicrous, but most wholesome lesson, 'The ewe that will not hear its lamb when it bleats, will never attend to a calf when it bawls.' In truth, some of these ladies ride upon very high horses, and keep the whip-hand most manfully! a circumstance we should by no means expect, after hearing, perhaps, that their respective names were 'Chembayly' (jasmine),' Golaub' (rose-water), 'Miscery' (sugar),' Gool-beegum' (queen of roses), 'Meevah-Jehan' (the fruit of life): though perhaps those known by the name of 'Soorooj' (i.e. the sun) might lay claim to some authority, without acting so grossly in opposition to their nomenclature.


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