These few square yards of land constituted the microscopic point of his attachment to that great globe still holding in reserve unmeasured territories of productive soil, on which nor plough, nor spade, nor human foot, nor life has ever left a lasting mark. These made his little farm, as large to him and to his octogenarian sinews and ambitions as was the Tiptree Estate to Alderman Mechi.
Ornamental farming in England is a very pretty amusement for a wealthy man, but I fancy without intending any slight on Mr. Mechi that the amusement is expensive. I believe that the same thing may be said of it in a slave State. Frankfort is the capital of Kentucky, and is as quietly dull a little town as I ever entered.
Tigers, wild elephants, and the rhinoceros, are said to be found here; but we saw none. The old and new Mechi rivers are several miles apart, but flow in the same depression, a low swamp many miles broad, which is grazed at this season, and cultivated during the rains.
Few reading farmers in America there are who are not familiar with the name and fame of Alderman Mechi, as an agriculturist of that new and scientific school that is making such a revolution in the great primeval industry of mankind.
With these preconceived ideas, it was an unexpected satisfaction to see quite a simple-looking, unassuming establishment, which any well-to-do farmer might make and own. The house is rather a large and solid-looking building, erected by Mr. Mechi himself, but not at all ostentatious of wealth or architectural taste.
Campbell arrived at the bungalow, from his tour of inspection along the frontier of Bhotan and the Rungpore district; and we accompanied him hence along the British and Sikkim frontier, as far west as the Mechi river, which bounds Nepal on the east. Terai is a name loosely applied to a tract of country at the very foot of the Himalaya: it is Persian, and signifies damp.
Riverbeds Mechi river Return to Titalya Leave for Teesta Climate of plains Jeelpigoree Cooches Alteration in the appearance of country by fires, etc.
The west bank, which is forty feet high, is of stratified sand and gravel, with vast slightly-worn blocks of gneiss: from the top of this we proceeded south-west for three miles to some Mechi villages, the inhabitants of which flocked to meet us, bringing milk and refreshments. The Lohar-ghur, or "iron hill," lies in a dense dry forest.
It is nothing very uncommon even for a two-hundred-acre farmer in England to have a small stationary or locomotive steam-engine, and to find plenty of work for it, too, in threshing his grain, grinding his fodder, pulping his roots, cutting his hay and straw, and for other purposes. Mr. Mechi would doubtless have one for these objects alone.
Wars have been waged amongst them, but they were neither sanguinary nor destructive, and the fact remains no less remarkable, that at the period of our occupying Dorjiling, friendship and unanimity existed amongst all these tribes; from the Tibetan at 14,000 feet, to the Mechi of the plains; under a sovereign whose temporal power was wholly unsupported by even the semblance of arms, and whose spiritual supremacy was acknowledged by very few.