The dances of the Nautch Girls consist in sudden transitions. The movement is sometimes slow and graceful; then by a change of the music it becomes all life, and exhibits the most rapid succession of violent actions, the performers twirling round with the velocity of a spinning top, and for such a length of time that it almost makes a person giddy to look at them.
The Nautch girl in the picture was considered one of the most celebrated singers in Bengal. Her voice was extremely sweet, but sung in so low a tone, that it would have been impossible to hear a note unless within a few yards of her; but a powerful voice is not esteemed an excellence in an Indian singer.
Each Nautch Girl is attended by her own musicians, who form themselves in a circle behind her, accompanying her voice with their instruments.
Street Telescope Exhibitor
“It must be about eight years since I first exhibited the telescope. I have three telescopes now, and their powers vary from about 36 to 300. The instruments of the higher power are seldom used in the streets, because the velocity of the planets is so great that they almost escape the eye before it can fix it. The opening is so very small, that though I can pass my eye on a star in a minute, an ordinary observer would have the orb pass away before he could accustom his eye to the instrument. High power is all very well for separating stars, and so forth; but I’m like Dr. Kitchener, I prefer a low power for street purposes. A street-passer likes to see plenty of margin round a star. If it fills up the opening he don’t like it.
Street Performers on Stilts
Street Conjurer Performing
The well-known Hurdy-Gurdy player
One of the most deserving and peculiar of the street musicians was an old lady who played upon a hurdy-gurdy. She had been about the streets of London for upwards of forty years, and being blind, had had during that period four guides, and worn out three instruments. Her cheerfulness, considering her privation and precarious mode of life, was extraordinary. Her love of truth, and the extreme simplicity of her nature, were almost childlike. Like the generality of blind people, she had a deep sense of religion, and her charity for a woman in her station of life was something marvellous; for, though living on alms, she herself had, I was told, two or three little pensioners.