Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/147

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running in front, and reflecting the whole of this barbaric pomp upon its polished surface. Above, upon a ledge of rock, the highly gorgeous scene was crowned by a pavilion formed of panels of wood plated with silver, and all around were splendid groups of caparisoned elephants, war-horses, and camels. Beyond, the several camps of the maha-rajah's army occupied picturesque positions among the hills, which opened to a view of the snowy range bounding the distance.

Runjeet Singh's entrance into his own camp, in point of pomp and circumstance, will bear a comparison with the most ostentatious display of Asiatic magnificence upon record. The troops were drawn up to receive him, superbly arrayed: a squadron of lancers, wearing yellow satin vestments, richly embroidered with gold, and headed by officers glittering with jewels; the infantry, comprising six battalions, each eight hundred strong, wore handsome uniforms in the European style, and the artillery, which consisted of forty guns, was well served and appointed; the most interesting portion, however, to a stranger being one which is so strongly characteristic of a native army, the Surwar camels, two hundred in number, each decorated with housings of crimson and gold, and carrying a swivel. Then there were the principal officers, sumptuously arrayed, mounted upon elephants, and affording, as they stood in clusters of three or four, between the long files of soldiers, horse and foot, a sort of solid buttress, which had a very imposing appearance. The lines of soldiers were further diversified by groups occupying the centre, consisting of the chiefs of battalions, all gems and gold. Presently a gun was fired, announcing the appearance of the maha-rajah, and a swarm of elephants appeared upon the scene, the stately phalanx surrounded on all sides by irregular troops, lancers, and matchlock men, who, upon their spirited but well-trained horses, careered along with headlong speed, apparently in the most disorderly manner, tilting, jousting, and curvetting, as they hurried wildly on, though, when necessary, drawing up their horses in the midst of a charge, and turning aside, with extraordinary ease and dexterity, when upon the point of encountering some formidable obstacle. This wild pageant having passed, a grave-looking personage, most splendidly attired, appeared upon a prancing steed, ringing with gold and silver ornaments, then another troop, some in chain armour, and all in fanciful but superb costumes, and then, at least a hundred yards behind, like the hero of some scenic display, in the midst of a small group of elephants, and occupying a howdah of gold, placed upon the tallest and most majestic of these animals, came the mighty satrap himself. His approach was the signal for a discharge of artillery on both sides the river, which made the distant echoes ring.

The splendour of the outward garnishing of Runjeet Singh's temporary abode was not shamed by any discrepancy in the interior arrangements, every thing belonging to the establishment of this barbaric lord being in keeping. The two principal tents were formed of scarlet and purple broad-cloth, one lined with yellow satin and the other with shawls, and edged and decorated with gold; their superb draperies being supported upon massy poles plated with gold, and richly chased. Two of the smaller pavilions were formed of crimson velvet, embroidered with gold in a rich pattern of lotus leaves; all the awnings were of scarlet cloth, the ropes of crimson silk, and the ground spread with carpets of the most costly description, some being of shawls, and others of yellow velvet, embroidered with crimson and gold.