LIFE AND SPORT IN INDIA.* Tins is absolutely the best
book on sport, and one of the beat books on life in India, which we have yet seen. The only sporting books to compare with it are those of the " Old Shekarry," and they are said, by those who know, to be some- what romantic. The present work bears every appearance of truthfulness, and has the merit of containing a good deal besides mere sporting adventures. It shows us Indian life on quite a new side, and one that is too apt to be forgotten by the English public. There are accounts of India ad nauseam, by travellers, missionaries, Civil Servants, and soldiers. The author of Tent-Life in Tigerland, as he too alliteratively dubs his book, is none of these, but was a planter in two different districts in India,—Purneah, bordering on the Terai, and Khari, in the North-West Provinces, both of them sportsmen's paradises. The word "planter" gives a very in- adequate idea of the thing that a planter is. The planter in India a few years back—and apparently, to some extent, still —was more like a feudal lord in mediaeval Europe when forest and mountain were full of wolves and bears, than any- thing so humdrum and civilised as is suggested by the word " planter." True, he has not wholly escaped the resources of civilisation ; he crushes his indigo by the application of machinery, and shoots his tiger with the latest invention in the way of rifles, but he is a lord of many manors, and, like a feudal lord, he holds his courts and is the chief adminis- trator of justice, in the sort of way depicted on the shield of Achilles by Homer. In his district he levies dues and tolls, if not taxes, and not unfrequently, it seems, indulges in a border raid, and fights for his own hand in a local war with his neighbours, and enforces contracts, and carries out a, trespass or an ejectment literally vi et armis. All the incidents of business in such a life as this, not less stirring than the incidents of sport, are told with a masterly pen by Mr. Inglis.
He has now, it seems, removed to another sphere, has become a Member of a Legislative Assembly—so we interpret the mystic letters, M.L.A., appended to his name—and is Minister of Public Instruction at Sydney, New South Wales ; but we hope it will not be long before he again ministers to the public instruction of the republic of readers by another book like that before us.
It is not with tigers alone that we are regaled in these pages ; the boar, Anglo-Indian pig, the bear, the buffalo, the leopard, vie with the royal cat in being the subject of thrilling reminiscences. One of the best stories is one in which the writer figures not as an actor, but as a spectator from a shooting-pit, of a fight between a tiger and a wild boar, in which, while the boar got, on the whole, the best of it, both were disabled after a contest as exciting as those of the
• Tent-Life in Tigerland. By the Hon. James Inglis. London: Sampson Low and Co , Limited. professed novelist. But the most gruesome, and perhaps, where all are good, the best-told tale in the book, is one of the pursuit for three days of an unhappy buffalo which impaled a native beater on his horns alive, and could not shake off his ghastly burden in spite of all his efforts. To tell the story without telling it in the author's own words would be to spoil it, and it is too long to repeat here; but this alone would make the fortune of the book. A pleasing characteristic of the writer is seen in the telling of this tale, that he does not regard the natives of the country among whom he lived and on whose labours he thrived as so many " — niggers," but as men actually of like passions, and even affections, with the "lordly Sahib." This kindliness shows itself, too, in the graphic account of the man-eating tiger :— " Nearly all man-eating tigers are old animals. Their skin is generally mangy : they are very cunning : will lie in wait near the village tracks : they know the habits of the village population as minutely as does the tax-gatherer, and once they take up their quarters near a jungle village, they become indeed a terrible scourge. The habits of the villagers make the role of man- eater a peculiarly easy one, if once the unholy appetite
for human flesh has been awakened The women wending their way to the weekly bazaar go forth, indeed, in a string, all chattering, laughing, and laden with the produce of their little garden patch or small holding for sale or barter. At the bazaar, however, some dispose of their wares more quickly than others, some have purchases to make, over which a deal of chaffering is indispensable. So it is that a few of the poor things find the swift twilight suddenly descend upon them when they are yet a weary, dangerous mile or two from home. Then the cruel, whiskered robber is on the watch. The hushed, affrighted women hurry on, their hearts thudding with trepidation ; and as they hang on to each other's skirts, they cast uneasy startled glances into every bush, and start at every move in the tall, feathery, swaying grass. Dogging every footstep, watching every movement, the silent, hungry man-eater is crawling swiftly and noiselessly alongside the path. It is marvellous with what celerity and absolute silence such a huge animal can glide through close jungle A basket gets overturned, perhaps. A thorn enters the foot. The wretched loiterer must perforce linger a moment to pick up her little scattered purchases, adjust her dress, or stoops to extract the thorn from her foot. Then with a swift, silent bound—for the man-eater rarely betrays his presence by a roar—the fierce animal makes his awful onslaught on the terror-stricken, hapless victim, and next morning a few scattered, crunched, and mangled bones are the sole evidence of the ghastly tragedy that has been enacted. There is mourning in some lowly hut. A deeper dread settles on the haunted hamlet. But the daily routine must go on, the daily wants must be supplied. The apathetic fatalistic doctrine resumes its sway, and so the tale is repeated I have known whole tracts of fertile country allowed to relapse into unfilled jungle from the presence of a single man-eating tiger. I have seen villages entirely deserted from the same cause."
This lengthy extract testifies alike to the literary skill and kindly heart of the writer, and from it the reader may judge how admirably he can tell some moving incident of flood or field. The most exciting of all are the tales of tigers, and we heartily commend them to any one who, like the Fat Boy in Pickwick, wants to make his own or his neighbours' flesh creep.