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Title: The East India Vade-Mecum, Volume 2 (of 2) - or, complete guide to gentlemen intended for the civil, - military, or naval service of the East India Company.
Author: Williamson, Thomas
Language: English
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                              _EAST INDIA_


                              _EAST INDIA_

                        =Complete Guide=


                       GENTLEMEN INTENDED FOR THE


                                 OF THE

                        HON. EAST INDIA COMPANY.



                       CAPTAIN THOMAS WILLIAMSON,

               _Author of ‘The Wild Sports of the East.’_

                            IN TWO VOLUMES.

                               _VOL. II._




            Booksellers to the Honorable East India Company,






                                VOL. II.


    _Great Heats, modes of refrigeration, general plan    1 -    16
      of building, various kinds of lime and cement,
      tarras floors_

    Pucka _and_ Cutcha _houses, ancient buildings,       17 -    53
      white-ants, sleeping in the open air, floors on
      pots, north-westers, bungalows and out-offices,
      mats of sorts, satrinjes, cheeks, glass windows,
      talc as a substitute, Chalk-Hills, purdahs_

    _Various kinds of timber, modes of floating them,    54 -    84
      prices, and uses, mango-fruit, and plantations_

    _Bamboos, mode of fitting-out trading-boats,         84 -   106
      toddy-tree, coir rigging, cocoa-nuts, oil from
      them,_ meemii-ke-tale, _writing on cocoa-tree
      leaves, hot winds_

    _State of society among Europeans, sitting-up,      107 -   149
      meals, wines, malt liquors. Invalid
      Establishment, levees, sugar-candy, bread,
      camp-ovens, milk, ghee-butter, meats, buffaloes_

    _Spirits, wines, fish, poultry, table apparatus,    150 -   198
      furniture, china-bazar, Europe-shops, wax and
      candles, insects, snakes of sorts, antidotes to
      their poison, musquitoes, and curtains to repel
      them, cock-roaches, scorpions, centipedes,
      wasps, hornets_

    _Shampoing, amusements, theatres, races, gaming,    198 -   223
      music, balls,—Churches, schools, Fort-William,
      military establishments_

    _False ideas of Indian prosperity, anecdote,        223 -   267
      depreciation of specie, the bore, brackish
      waters, preservation of rain-water. The several
      great rivers, physical properties, fossile
      alkali, streams impregnated with minerals,
      inundations, Hindu corpses, plague not known in

    _Tanks and jeels, eleemosynary alligators,          268 -   325
      seraies, gunjes, durgaws, Hill people, bunds,
      quicksands, wells on great roads, hot-wells,
      sol-lunar influence on fevers, huckeems, state
      of medicine, refrigerating principle, state of
      learning, Koits, Láláhs, Gooroos, good books_

    _Posts, and conveyance of parcels, &c., travelling  325 -   366
      in a palanquin, rice, mode of expelling weevils,
      meal from barley, wheat, &c., travelling by
      water, the Soonderbund Passage, water in jars,
      fire-wood, New Harbour, entrances of the Hoogly
      River. Opinions regarding_ Gour, _and the great
      Delta of the Ganges_

    _Salt manufacture_                                  366 -   368

    _Hire of budjrows, rates and distances,             368 -   420
      precautions, contraband trade, trading and
      baggage-boats, tracking, Decoits, or pirates,
      guards requisite, Coolies, Chokeydars, and
      Dowraws, expert thieves, anecdotes, leger de
      main, puppet-shows, gymnastic feats, Nuts, or
      Indian gypsies, curious comparison of their

    _Slavery, how far tolerated, Indian                 420 -   429
      Lock-Hospitals, summary punishment of adultery,
      curious incident, dancing-girls_

    _Elephants, their points, qualities, prices, &c.,   430 -   467
      camels, the appropriate soils, conveying them
      over rivers, bullocks, the Company’s
      regulations, tattoos, or indigenous breed of
      horses, tanians, tazees, serissahs, horses
      imported from Persia, the Punjab, &c., stables_

    _Tanning, artificers, great improvements made in    468 -   473
      most professions, newspapers, Persian Akbars,

    _The Mocurrery (or perpetual) System of Revenue.    474 -   497
      The periods for collection, stations of
      collectors, judges, commercial residents, custom
      masters, and diplomatic characters_

    _Security afforded to private property, inland      498 -   506
      traders, agency-houses, rates of commission and
      remittance, trade and situation of Calcutta.



                               EAST INDIA


For some months, generally during the latter part of the rains, the
weather is so close and sultry, that universal exudation takes place,
even while sitting quiet. The natives, as I remarked in the outset of
this subject, have, from experience, adopted a very different mode from
that we should have expected to find in use, under such a latitude. We
should, no doubt, have been prepared to see airy habitations, through
which the wind could pass freely in every direction. But it is far
otherwise; and Europeans have, at length, become convinced, that the
most insupportable heats are derived from the glare of light objects;
or, in other words, from the reflection of surfaces intensely acted upon
by a vertical sun.

Some conception may be formed of that intensity, from the fact of meat
having been broiled on the cannon mounted upon the ramparts of
Fort-William! We, therefore, must coincide with the habits of the
natives, to a certain extent, if we mean to retain health, or to acquire
comfort. Such, indeed, should, in every country, be held in view: for,
however absurd many practices may at first appear, it will ordinarily
result that necessity was their parent. I do not mean to say that we
should imitate, much less adopt, without discrimination, all we see; but
it may be considered an axiom, that, by taking the general outline of
indigenous customs for our guide, if we err, it will be on the safe
side. Nothing can be more preposterous than the significant sneers of
gentlemen on their first arrival in India; meaning, thereby, to
ridicule, or to despise, what they consider effeminacy, or luxury. Thus,
several may be seen annually walking about without _chattahs_, (_i.e._
umbrellas,) during the greatest heats; they affect to be ashamed of
requiring aid, and endeavor to uphold, by such a display of
indifference, the great reliance placed on strength of constitution.
This unhappy infatuation rarely exceeds a few days; at the end of that
time, sometimes only of a week, (nay, I have known the period to be much
shorter,) we too often are called upon to attend the funeral of the
self-deluded victim! The first attack is generally announced by cold
shiverings, and bilious vomiting; delirium speedily ensues, when
putrefaction advances with such hasty strides, as often to render
interment necessary so soon as can possibly be effected.

The glare is certainly far more distressing than exposure to the sun, at
some seasons: but nothing can equal the effects of both glare and
sun-shine, acting upon the human frame, during a Midsummer’s day; when,
perhaps, not a breath of air is moving, when every leaf seems to repose,
and every bird, saving the vulture, the adjutant, (or argeelah,) and the
kite, retires to some shady spot, to avoid the solar ray. At such times,
the peaceful Hindu confines himself to an apartment, from which light is
generally excluded: there he sits among his family, enjoying his pipe,
refreshing himself occasionally by bathing, drinking the pure beverage
afforded by some adjacent spring or well; and, in general, avoiding to
eat, except of ripe fruits, especially the _turbooz_, or water-melon,
until the cool of the evening. In the meanwhile, however, he perspires
copiously, even though in a state of inactivity, unless when refreshed
by a _punkah_, or fan, moved either by his own hand, or by that of some

The instinct of the birds above named, to wit, the argeelah, the
vulture, and the kite, all of which are extremely numerous throughout
India, and contribute greatly to the salubrity of the air, by carrying
off astonishing quantities of putrefactive offal, &c., is wonderful!
About mid-day, when the sun’s beams strike with incredible force upon
the earth’s surface, these feathered scavengers ascend, perhaps to the
height of seven or eight hundred yards, so that the largest of them,
(the argeelah) is scarcely discernible: there they soar beyond the reach
of reflection from the heated soil, enjoying the freshness of a cooler
atmosphere, and descending only when allured by the scent of prey. Their
sense of smelling must, indeed, be acute; for we see them, especially
the vultures, flying for miles, and from all quarters, towards some
carcase, usually that of a Hindu, floating down the stream, or stranded
upon some shelving bank; but so situated as to render it perfectly
certain that the visual faculties could have no concern in the

Few of the natives have _tatties_ applied to their doors, or windows;
though by no means insensible to the gratification they afford; but
penury, or, to say the least, close and parsimonious economy, prompt to
the denial of such a comfort; a comfort without which any constitution,
not inured to the climate, would speedily give way. It is really curious
to observe what may be effected by habit! When we understand how fatally
the sun’s rays act upon our European frames, even while under the shade
of a thick painted umbrella, and although our diet may be nearly similar
to that of the most abstemious Hindu, it certainly must appear
wonderful, that children, of whatever age, whose rapid circulation, and
sable color, should, according to the estimates we form of temperament,
be highly unfavorable to such exposure, run about at all seasons,
bare-headed, and perfectly nude; seeming to set the sun, the wind, and
the rain, alike at defiance. We see the same individuals making long
journies, in the most torrid seasons, under nearly similar
circumstances; nay, they even carry _bangies_, containing, on an
average, full a _maund_, (82lb. avoirdupoise,) sixteen, eighteen, twenty
miles, or even more, under such an oppressive heat as would kill an
European outright; and this, too, for a few pence. If, in considering
this point, we urge the benefits of extreme temperance, we urge that
which often does not exist; since many, who practise the above, may be
ranked among the most arduous votaries of Bacchus, devouring fish,
flesh, and fowl, highly spiced, whenever their purses, or the bounty of
others, may afford them so welcome a regale. When we see the several
shop-keepers, in every city and town, serving their customers, or, in
their absence, smoking like Vesuvius, in their little _boutiques_,
exposed to the glare, and to the burning winds; when we see these
persons, with parched skins, and their eyes violently irritated, and
clogged, by the clouds of dust which range along the streets, and which,
occasionally taking a whirl, nearly suffocate all within their reach; we
may then fairly admire the force of habit, and congratulate ourselves on
the blessings of a more temperate climate!

In the same situations, we see two classes of persons, both natives of
the soil, acting in diametric opposition to each other; and exhibiting
that powerful resistance capable of being made by long residence, or
rather by aboriginal habitude, against that which never fails to consign
our countrymen to the grave. The former class confine themselves, as
much as their avocations may permit, within gloomy, but cool, chambers;
living most abstemiously, yet, at certain times, exposing themselves in
the most unequivocal manner to the severest heats: the other, perfectly
inattentive to the dictates of prudence, yet performing what we may
fairly term wonders, in opposition to their destructive locality. When
the English first visited India, they adopted a mode of building by no
means consistent with common sense, and displaying a total ignorance of
the most simple of nature’s laws. We accordingly find, that all the old
buildings, such as may lay claim to a duration of from forty to sixty
years, were, like the celebrated Black-Hole, constructed more like
ovens, than like the habitations of enlightened beings. The doors were
very small, the windows still less, in proportion, while the roofs were
carried up many feet above both. Those roofs were in themselves
calculated to retain heat to an extreme, being built of solid tarras, at
least a foot thick, lying horizontally upon immense timbers, chiefly of
teak, or of saul wood. Again, when they built _bungalows_, (_i.e._
thatched houses,) of one (ground) floor only, the utmost care was taken
to close up all the intervals between the thatch, and the walls, on
which it rested; so as to exclude the external air, as well as the dust:
a practice religiously observed even to the present date. The obvious
consequence of this latter construction is, that, whatever air is
retained between the thatch, (which, in the course of the day, becomes
very, very warm,) and the upper lines of the windows must be highly

Thus, we invariably observe, that, towards sun-set, when the inhabitants
quit the inner hall, &c., either to sit out on _chabootahs_, (_i.e._
large terraces,) raised perhaps a foot or two from the level of the
area, and abundantly watered for the occasion; or when they remove to
the windward _veranda_ (or balcony); on either of these occasions, the
interior becomes intolerably hot, on account of the rarefied air being
drawn down by that current inevitably attendant upon the removal of all
the _tatties_; and, by the throwing open of all the doors and windows.

In a preceding page, I have shewn, that the French generally acted upon
more philosophical principles; they making their doors and windows
remarkably high: but, there yet remains a very important improvement to
be made; namely, the introduction of tin ventilators, to be inserted
near the summits of the thatches. It is a fact, that, during many months
in the year, the houses built by most Europeans, and especially their
_bungalows_, are so extremely heated, as to render it absolutely
impossible to sleep in their interior, without the intervention of some
artificial means for keeping the air around the bed at a proper

However faulty the first European builders in India might have been, the
moderns have by no means made such improvements as we should suppose
experience would have led them to adopt. Whether from economy, or from
more attention to exterior, than to comfort, scarce a house is now built
with such spacious, lofty, and substantial _verandas_, as are to be seen
on the south side of almost every old mansion. Some of these antiquated
edifices had _verandas_ on several sides, and a few might be quoted
having them all around; as seen in the officers’ quarters at Berhampore,
and Dinapore. It can scarcely be doubted, that such _verandas_ are, in
every respect, admirably suited to the climate; since they prevent the
sun from striking on the main wall; which, in exposed situations, have
been known to give from 8° to 10° difference on the thermometer; under
circumstances in every other respect similar.

It is peculiar, that, until within the last twenty-five years, the
ground floors, that is, the whole of the basements, of those fine large
houses to be seen in all quarters of Calcutta, and in various parts of
the interior, were consigned to the reception of palanquins, gigs,
water-stores, or to be _wine-godowns_, (or cellars,) _butler-connahs_,
(or pantries,) and even, in some instances, stables! In those days, the
whole of the family resided in, and confined themselves to, the first
floor; which was then the summit of the habitation: leaving to their
luggage, cattle, and menials, that part which has lately been discovered
to be, in every respect, most suitable to the accommodation of the
European population. In houses of agency, &c., we now see the basement
converted partly into offices, and but rarely any portion of it
appropriated as above described; while, the generality of new houses are
built upon a scale such as favors this salutary change, by giving
sufficient height to the lower apartments; thereby adapting them to
every purpose, and occasioning a considerable reduction of the ground
plan, in consequence of the accommodations thus gained.

The practice of building houses without _verandas_, certainly cannot be
approved; whereas, the old mode of building them on pillars, was highly
ornamental, and, at some seasons, not less appropriate: but, the great
art of keeping a house cool during the prevalence of the hot-winds,
rests entirely on shutting them out, except at some few apertures
supplied with _tatties_; which, being kept constantly moist, or, indeed,
dripping wet, produce such an immense evaporation, as to cool the
interior completely: of course, a suitable draught must be preserved, by
opening some window, &c. on the lee-side. This is commonly effected by
means of Venetians; which allow the air to pass, but debar the access of
glare. Without adverting to the expence, it should seem that a
_close-veranda_ is by far preferable to an open one; and, were it not
for the immense additional charges, we can hardly doubt that the
European inhabitants of Calcutta would, in imitation of the generality
of _bungalow_-residents, have their apartments surrounded by a
_veranda_, of full fourteen feet in width; with apertures, of a good
size, in the exterior wall, corresponding with those of the interior.
This arrangement renders the generality of _bungalows_ remarkably
pleasant; but, it must be noticed, that there is a very wide difference
in the expence incurred in rendering them so: their roofs being of
thatch, and their walls of sun-burnt bricks, plastered with mud and
chaff, offer a great contrast in the out-lay, both as relating to the
labor, and to the materials, in a house constructed of burnt bricks, and
good lime, whose roof is of masonry, and in which timbers of great price
are every where used. Accordingly, we find, that, in almost every part
of India, an excellent _bungalow_ may be built for about five thousand
rupees, completely fitted with glass doors, and windows, and with all
the necessary out-offices duly tiled, or thatched, according to their
purposes; while, a house suited to the accommodation of the same family,
in Calcutta, could not be finished for less than ten times that sum.

The bricks form a very, very small portion of the disbursements incident
to building in India: so cheap, indeed, are they, that most of the
made-roads about Calcutta, and in other parts, are formed by laying
broken, or even whole, bricks regularly; giving the centre two or three
layers, gradually tapered off to the sides, and then covering them with
a coat of rubbish, or, which is far better, coarse sand. Such roads are
extremely firm, and far more durable, than those we make with gravel,
flint, lime-stone, &c. But great allowance must be made for the heavy
machines used among us, and carrying such tremendous burthens; whereas,
an Indian _hackery_ can rarely weigh five cwt., nor can its load be
averaged at more than fifteen cwt., being altogether only a ton. We well
know, that our common narrow-wheeled waggons weigh from fifteen to
twenty-five cwt.; and, that, except where weigh-bridges limit their
burthens, it is by no means uncommon to see them carrying from two and a
half, up to four, tons. Three chaldron of coals will be found to average
about seventy cwt.; yet, are often drawn by three horses through the
streets of London.

The lime used in Calcutta, is brought down from the _Morungs_, and their
vicinity, in large boats, being previously slaked; though it is
sometimes imported in its quick state, or as nearly so as accident may
permit. It may readily be concluded, that, after a passage of from three
to four hundred miles, this article is rather deteriorated; especially
as the voyage can rarely be effected under three weeks or a month. The
prices of this kind of lime, made from a very firm stone, called
_gutty_, abundant in some parts, vary much according to the season, and
to the demand: it has been sold as low as six or seven rupees per
hundred maunds, but, at other times, has reached to twenty and

At Madras, and indeed all along the coast of Coromandel, as well as on
some parts of the Malabar border, an excellent kind of lime is made from
sea shells. This nearly equals what is made in Italy, from the refuse of
marble, and receives an extraordinary fine surface, competiting even
with that of polished glass; at the same time that it is incomparably
firm, and durable. When laid upon a wall, which is done only by way of a
finish, it is carefully freed from grit, and kept working, and rubbing,
until nearly dry; thereby to prevent the surface from cracking, as it
would be subject to do, when acted upon by the hot air at mid-day: when
nearly dry, it is rubbed with coarse calico cloths, until it receives a
beautiful lustre, which causes it to appear semi-diaphanous. A few
houses at Calcutta have been finished with this kind of lime, conveyed
from Madras by shipping; but the expence, being very considerable, has
occasioned the common _Morung_ lime to be generally employed, both for
cement, and for white-washing.

In the ordinary buildings constructed in the upper parts of the country,
a weaker kind of lime is obtained by burning a substance called
_kunkur_, which, at first, might be mistaken for small rugged flints,
slightly coated with soil. The experiments made upon these alkaline
concretions, which abound in most parts above Bengal Proper, and, in
some places, prove extremely troublesome to the farmer, but especially
to the horticulturist, give the following result: calcareous earth, 41,
cilicious earth, 16, calx of iron, 3, and air, 40. _Kunkur_ is not
easily reduced to a calx, it requiring a greater heat than is necessary
to burn the harder kinds of _gutty_; it is, likewise, less durable and
tenacious as a cement; of which the color, viz. commonly what we call
fawn, is a strong indication.

Whether from want of sufficient power in their kilns, or that the
_kunkur_ is so peculiarly hard, we commonly find that, on slaking, a
large portion of the interior of each lump remains unsubdued. These
insoluble masses are often pounded by means of a _dainky_, or
foot-break, and mixed with the perfect calx: nor is the lime burner very
scrupulous in regard to keeping out the wood ashes, &c., remaining at
the bottom of the kiln, after the _kunkur_ has been taken out; on the
contrary, he will, if not very narrowly watched, mix as much as he can
with the calx; thereby causing the lime to be very considerably
deteriorated. This kind of lime, commonly called _cutcha_, (_i.e._
weak,) sells for about six or seven rupees per hundred maunds.

In all parts of India, the lime-burners proceed on the most expensive
plan; their kilns being rarely more than four feet in diameter, nor
above that much in height: consequently, they have not sufficient
accumulation, concentration, or reverberation of heat, to burn the
stones properly; neither do they, in general, break them sufficiently
small, but bundle them in, with very little attention to regularity or
economy. It is the same with the brick and tile-kilns; which are, for
the most part, of a pyramidal form; the raw bricks being laid
intermediately with the fuel, and the exterior being plastered over,
perhaps half a foot in thickness, with mud. The best bricks I ever saw
in India were made by an engineer officer, who had some extensive public
works to carry on. He first built the whole of the walls of a _bungalow_
he required, with sun-burnt bricks, properly cemented with mud well
filled in; taking care to arch over the door and window openings in such
way, that the frames could be afterwards introduced. The whole interior
was then laid with bricks and fuel, while the exterior of the veranda
walls were also closed in with sufficient to heat them thoroughly; and a
complete coating was given, in the ordinary way. The bricks baked
uncommonly well, while the walls became a solid mass, capable of
resisting all the elements, should they unite for its destruction. The
_bungalow_ proved remarkably dry, and the plaster was found to adhere in
a surprizing manner, while rats, snakes, &c., were all set at defiance;
it being impossible for them to burrow in so hard a substance: the
greater part of the cement, which happened to contain cilicious
particles, was nearly vitrified.

Thirty years ago, the generality of houses were coated with the same
kind of tarras as is employed for laying the floors, and the roofs: this
was made of _chunam_, (_i.e._ white-lime,) one third; _soorky_, (_i.e._
brick-dust,) one third; and sand, one third; these, being mixed duly
with a large portion of cut hemp, (wool being very scarce, and short
hair not to be procured on any terms,) together with some _jaggery_, or
refuse molasses, made a tolerably strong cement. The surface, after a
house had been duly plastered, was washed, while yet moist, with a
strong solution of lime in water. This would have been enough to blind
every man, woman, or child, in the place, had it not been partially
remedied, by the admixture of some coloring matter with the finishing
wash: but, whether red, yellow, or blue, which were the prevailing
colors, it was found that the alkali generally destroyed their
appearance, and left a motley kind of work.

The good taste of a few individuals, chiefly gentlemen in the corps of
engineers, gradually overcame this vile imitation of Dutch and
Portugueze finery, they substituting, in their public works, a plaster
composed of river sand, saturated with a solution of white lime, of the
consistency of cream. The addition of the usual allowance of cut hemp,
gave this simple compound, (if I may so blend the terms,) not only much
additional durability, but a remarkably neat appearance; especially when
the body of the building was of that fine grey, thus obtained, and the
cornices, &c. were finished of a pure white. Houses thus exteriorly
finished became yet further neat, by the contrast of their Venetian
windows, invariably painted green: some prefer all verdigris; others, a
deep clear green for the frame-work, with verdigris for the several
leaves, or valves.

Almost every house has folding Venetians to each window, or outward
door; these are sustained by very strong hinges, which allow each fold,
or shutter, to open outwards, and to lie back flat upon the exterior
wall: in that position the Venetians are kept from blowing about, by
means of hooks; in the same manner as we see practised in England, where
this kind of shutter is in use. Sash-windows are never made upon the
European construction, but move invariably in two folds, one to the
right, the other to the left; each opening inwardly, and lying within
the thickness of the wall, or nearly so.

In no part of the world is more attention paid to the foundation of a
house than in India; and that not without necessity, the rains being so
very heavy as to sap all weak buildings exposed to their action, either
above, below, or laterally. When houses are built with what is termed
_cutcha_, that is, with sun-dried bricks cemented with mud, and either
plastered with the same, or with mortar, the least crack in the roof, or
the smallest hollow near the foundation, will teem with danger. The rain
which, often for a whole day, descends in streams, soon gets into the
walls, where it does incalculable mischief: many of these houses, whose
substance and general appearance should indicate a better fate, may
annually be seen in ruins after a continued fall of heavy, or of
drizzling, but oblique, rain: the latter is peculiarly unfavorable to
such buildings as are insecurely coated; it drifts in under the plaster,
damps the mud cement, and brings down the heavy roofs with a most
sonorous crash. Few of these _cutcha_ houses are now to be seen with
tarras roofs; such as are so built for the sake of cheapness, being,
almost without exception, intended for thatches, and thus becoming what
we term _bungalows_. The natives build sometimes on that kind of half
and half plan, which commonly, in the end, cheats the contriver. Thus, I
have seen some, of a small description, built with _cutcha_ (or
sun-dried) bricks for the interior, while the exterior of the wall was
made of _pucka_ (or burnt) bricks; from whose interstices the mortar was
carefully picked out, as though about to be pointed; for the purpose of
causing the exterior plastering to get into the joints, and thus to
retain its position firmly. Admitting, and even admiring, the ingenuity
of such a system, when properly conducted, I lament, that, in almost
every case which came within my knowledge, the whole system was
disgraced, by the house either falling _in toto_, or by shedding its
coat of mail.

There certainly did formerly exist some mode of mixing the ingredients,
or some particular recipe giving better proportions, or better
materials, which, after a time, formed a very capital cement: of this,
many very well known edifices furnish ample proof. The old fort, situate
within the town of Calcutta, may be an apt quotation. The impressions
made by shots, of 24 and 32lb. fired by Admiral Watson against its
western face, when his fleet lay within three hundred yards of it, in
the year 1755, were absolutely insignificant; the brave admiral might
have battered for a century, without bringing down the wall. In the year
1779, when the Company’s cloth _godown_ took fire, the third regiment of
European infantry, then in garrison at Fort-William, marched out with
engines, &c. to aid towards its extinction; yet were they utterly unable
to get the iron bars loose from the masonry; though provided with
tackles, crows, axes, &c. This _godown_, which occupied a large part of
the northerly face of the old fort, was afterwards converted into
offices; but with incredible labor! The masonry was as hard as rock!
When this occurrence took place, the old fort had been built about forty
years; whereas, we find that all the Company’s, or any other, buildings
which now claim that age, are of a very different complexion! The
greater part of them, though not in a state of absolute ruin, are kept
up at an inordinate expence; while such of them as have given up the
ghost, display a crude mass of loose, friable, and mouldering rubbish.

Nor are the ancient terraces less obdurate than the old walls: many of
these may be seen among the ruins of cities, and towns, of which we have
scarcely any information, absolutely retaining their places, although
the beams on which they formerly rested have been, God only knows how
many years, removed. If these roofs had possessed any convexity, or been
constructed according to the Syrian principle, we should have had less
cause to admire their solidity, and toughness; but, such has never been
the case with any I have seen; and which, though certainly of no
considerable dimensions, appeared firm enough to sustain cannon of small
calibre. I have often been one of a party to walk on such. It may,
perhaps, be in place here to describe the manner in which roofs are
constructed in India: I mean such as are now under consideration. The
beams are rarely more than two feet apart; and, speaking generally, may
have a scantling of ten or eleven inches depth, by five, or six, in
width; sometimes, though but rarely, and then only when under the eye of
science, cambered to the extent of three or four inches; according to
the length of the timber. These joists are laid upon the bare wall,
having their ends previously well charred; and, in some cases, smeared
with _petroleum_; called by the natives, ‘earth-oil.’ This is done to
deter the white-ants from making an attack upon the wood; which, in
time, they would certainly do, but for the above precaution. The ends of
the timbers are cased in with masonry, so as to leave about four inches
all the way round, and at their bases: in order that the timber may be
removed, in case of decay, without damaging the wall; the interval is,
however, filled up afterwards with _cutcha_ work; which, not being
liable to adhere firmly to the _pucka_ wall, may be easily removed when
the joist is to be changed. When plastered over, the whole appears

In some parts of the country, but especially in the upper provinces, the
natives cover in their houses with flat roofs, made of clay, beat very
firm, and about a foot in thickness. This mode of construction requires
some care, but is found to be extremely efficient. The walls ought to be
substantial, as should also the joists; and the surface of the clay
should be rather convex, so as to direct the water falling on it into
proper gutters, or drains, and to prevent the building from being

Without this precaution, the heavy falls of rain, which may be
constantly expected during three months in the year, would speedily
dissolve such tenements, with nearly as much facility as though they
were made of lump-sugar. But when due care is taken, both to prevent,
and to stop, leaks, clay roofs are rather eligible, than objectionable;
especially in the vicinity of _bazars_, (or markets,) and lines, in
which fires are frequent. Many gentlemen have adopted the plan, some
wholly, others partially, in their _bungalows_, and find little or no
cause to regret their having done so.

It is, however, expedient to send up a man now and then, to lute any
cracks that may appear in consequence of excessive heats; but, after a
season or two, the clay becomes extremely firm, nearly equal to
mortar-tarras, resisting the various changes of temperature, and
appearing to be consolidated into a very firm mass. The greatest
inconvenience it produces, is the harbor afforded to that inconceivably
obnoxious insect, the _white-ant_.

This little depredator rarely fails to take advantage of whatever
opportunity is offered for the exhibition of its powers. Assembling by
the ten thousand, in a few hours they will eat out the bottom of a deal
box, perhaps an inch in thickness, or render it a mere honeycomb. Of
fir, they are remarkably fond, as also of mango-wood.

It seems rather peculiar that they should be so partial to woods
abounding so highly, as these both do, in turpentine; while the presence
of a few drops of _petroleum_, which is imported from Pegu, Ava, and the
Arvean coast, under the name of _mutty ke tale_, (earth-oil,) seems to
be a perfect preventive. Few things come amiss to these obnoxious
visitants, which every where abound, and destroy wood, leather, cottons,
woollens, &c. Nay, a story is current, that, some years back, they were
absolutely accused of having devoured some thousands of dollars!
Fortunately, _on deeper research_, it was discovered, that they had only
ate away the bottom of the treasure-chest; and, like misers, had buried
the hard cash some feet under ground.

As ceilings are not in use in India, each joist is neatly finished,
having its lower edges rounded off with a beading-plane. At right angles
with the joists, smaller battens, called _burgahs_, are laid; three or
four inches wide, by about two or three deep, or _vice versâ_; these are
nailed down upon the joists at such parallel distances, in general about
seven or eight inches, as may allow a large kind of tile to be laid on
them. Over the tiles they lay rubbish, rather dry, about four or five
inches deep, patting it down gently, by the continual operation of some
dozens of men, women, and children, who, squatting, like monkies, on
their haunches, and having batons of about a cubit in length, something
of a trowel shape, though not so obtuse, continually beat the materials
until they become perfectly compact. The better method, which is in more
general adoption, is, instead of such rubbish, to put on a coarser kind
of mortar, well worked up, but not very moist; which is beat in the mode
above described. After this has been duly compacted, but before it is
quite dry, another coating of two or three inches, but of finer
materials, is put on, and beat in like manner; then a third, perhaps
only an inch deep, of still finer materials; and, ultimately, the whole
is coated, for about half an inch in depth, with the finest ingredients,
mixed, after being sifted through a coarse cloth, with _jaggree_, and by
some with peas-meal; which the natives consider to be peculiarly
valuable in cement. This last coat is laid on with a trowel, very firmly
pressed, in order to compact it the more, and to prevent cracking; which
will, nevertheless, always take place, more or less, according as more
or less pressure and beating have been used; or, as the great body of
the tarras may be made of good or bad materials.

All the partition-walls, dividing off the several apartments, are
necessarily of masonry; both because the pressure from above is
enormous; and, that wood cannot be trusted, where the white-ants could
honeycomb its interior, without being much, if at all, noticed on its
surface. These partition-walls are carried up about six inches above the
tarras roof; whereby the latter appears to be divided into chequers,
corresponding with the several apartments. Small channels are cut, to
allow the water to pass into the spouts, or drains; from which jars, of
about a hogshead in measurement, are filled with water intended for
table use. Some spouts are made to extend full a yard from the wall,
and, in some instances, have canvas hoses attached, for the purpose of
leading the water into the jars; but the more modern practice is to
build pipes of pottery within the wall, or to clamp them to it with
iron, until their lower ends, which are crooked for the purpose, form a
proper debouchure. The latter mode, however, in very heavy rains,
subjects the walls to be damped, in consequence of the fall of water
being greater than the pipes can instantly carry off. This may give some
idea of those deluges which at times take place, almost instantaneously.

The tops of houses are invariably enclosed with breast-parapets, or with
balustrades; which give a very finished appearance to these superb
buildings. With the exception of those ridges formed by the continuation
of the partition-walls, the roofs afford a pleasant promenade at certain
seasons: some of them command most interesting views. During the very
hot weather, probably from the end of April to the setting in of the
rains in the first or second week of June, many gentlemen have their
cots, (as the bed, with all its apparatus, is usually called,) carried
to the tops of their houses, and sleep there during the night. This may
appear a very hazardous proceeding; but, when it is considered, that no
dew, worthy of notice, falls at that season, and, that the cots have
generally curtains, which would receive, and absorb, what little might
fall, we may, on the whole, pronounce it to be less dangerous than
should at first be supposed. If, indeed, this were to be done more to
the southward, near the mouth of the Hoogly river, where the immense
marshes, the ouze left by the returning tides, and the jungles, which
every where abound, produce the most deleterious exhalations, we should
then be correct in exclaiming against the practice: but few, very few,
instances could be adduced of any serious indisposition having attended
it; while, on the other hand, it is confessed by all who have adopted
it, that the greatest refreshment ever resulted; enabling them to rise
early, divested of that most distressing lassitude attendant upon
sleeping in an apartment absolutely communicating a febrile sensation,
and peculiarly oppressive to the lungs.

I believe all those fatal, or injurious effects, which have been so
often adduced, by way of caution to persons impatient of heat, have been
produced not by sleeping in an open exposure, but in a current of air.
This I cannot recommend; on the contrary, I must vehemently censure such
a custom, as being highly dangerous: I could quote several most
melancholy cases, arising entirely from this most injudicious conduct!
Mr. Johnson, who appears to have been about two years in India, during
which time he was surgeon of a frigate, has published a volume, in which
there are occasionally to be found interesting details, and sensible
observations. I shall offer to my readers some remarks he has made, at
page 269, that bear closely on the subject under discussion. He says;
‘Europeans, in general, on their first arrival in India, are
prepossessed with the idea, that sleeping at night in the open air must
be a very dangerous practice; but, in the course of a short residence on
shore, they get rid of this prejudice, by observing most of the natives,
and many of the Europeans, sleeping on open terraces, and in _verandas_,
not only with impunity, but as a preservative against the debilitating
effects of a hot climate. But on board-ships, where they have not an
opportunity of seeing, or of reflecting on, these circumstances, they
frequently adhere, for a considerable time after their arrival on the
station, to the established regulations, of making every man sleep in
his proper berth: and suffering none to lie about upon the decks; a
system, in my opinion, very prejudicial to the health of ships’
companies in India. At sea, indeed, it is not of so much consequence,
where the watch on deck always gives sufficient room to those below; but
it is in harbours, and road-steds, where the air is much hotter than at
sea, the impolicy of the measure becomes manifest.’—And again, page 270,
‘We will suppose, that every man, when he turns into his hammock, falls
fast asleep in a few minutes; which, by the by, is not always the case.
About eleven o’clock, however, I will venture to say, he wakes in a
deluge of perspiration, panting with the heat and rarefied air; upon
which he turns out, and goes upon deck, for the purpose, as he terms it,
of getting a mouthful of fresh air; anathematizing, as he ascends, the
infernal heat of the climate! Under pretence of going to the head, he
gets upon the forecastle; when the cool breeze from the shore
immediately chills him, and gives a sudden check to his perspiration.’
All this I have personally experienced, both on board-ship and on shore;
and I make no scruple of saying, that, in lieu of being injured by
sleeping out on a _chabootah_, in a well-covered cot, my whole frame has
been braced, my rest has been sound and refreshing, and I have avoided
all the miseries inseparably attendant upon seeking repose in a close,
muggy atmosphere; where thirst and irritation create perpetual
restlessness, banish sleep, and cause that relaxation and debility which
render each subsequent day burthensome as its preceding night has been

In a former page, I observed, that boarded floors were almost unknown in
India: various reasons have, doubtless, combined to explode them;
firstly, the depredations of the white-ant; secondly, the perpetual
danger of their warping; and, thirdly, the difficulty of rendering the
sounds of foot-steps less audible. This last may appear trivial; but,
where so many menials, &c., are ever moving about in various parts of a
house, and that, too, with little ceremony, though, it is true, they are
all bare-footed, it would prove extremely inconvenient at those times
when the family might retire to rest during the heat of the day. About
twenty-five or thirty years back, all the stairs were of masonry; but,
of late years, wooden ones have been introduced. These, being made to
rest on strong beams, obvious in every part, save where they enter the
walls, may be considered as tolerably safe from the white-ants;
certainly they are much neater, and more easily kept in order. All the
joists, in every house, are either painted, or tarred; the latter has a
very unpleasant, indeed, a mean appearance; and is not often practised:
for the most part, white, with a very slight cast of blue, to preserve
it from fading, is adopted.

Some paint the beaded, or moulded, edges of the door pannels, also the
rounded corners of the joists, with some delicate color; such as a very
light sky-blue, a very light verdigris-green, or a lilac; and, by way of
conformity, ornament the mouldings of the wall pannels with similar
tints. In the upper provinces, it is a very prevalent fashion to color
the pannels with some native ochres, of beautiful hues, leaving the
mouldings, cornices, &c. white. These mouldings, &c. are all done by
means of trowels shaped for the purpose, and not by moulds, or stamps;
of course, what with want of device, and want of activity, such
ornaments may be reckoned among that variety of tedious labors of which
_Blacky_ is extremely enamoured. Yet, in the execution of such matters,
he will display great ingenuity, consummate patience, and, often, great
delicacy: but, with respect to design, taste, composition, perspective,
consistency, and harmony; in all these, whether in drawing, sculpture,
or in any mode of representation, he will prove himself to be completely
_ignoramus_. Let the former apology be pleaded; namely, that, in every
branch, the Indian mechanic is called upon, after, perhaps, only a few
days of observation, or, at least, with so little practice as would,
among us, be considered rather an objection than a qualification, to
perform that which we judge to be unattainable, except by the
application of several years, closely attached to one individual
intention. Therefore, in lieu of condemning their operations, we should
rather regard them with admiration; for, I will venture to assert, that
we should not fail to wonder at one of our own countrymen, who, perhaps
at rather an advanced age, without previous education, without the
possibility of reference to books, or to public institutions, should
undertake to do that with a hatchet, or any other gross implement, which
persons regularly brought up in the respective profession should assert
to be impracticable, unless duly provided with benches, vices, and
tools, of exquisite formation, out of number. The Asiatic has the bare
soil for his bench, his toes are his vice, and his implements usually
amount to no more than a small adze, a saw, with, perhaps, a chisel, and
a pair of uncouth pincers!

The same operations which I have described to be necessary for the
construction of a tarras roof, are equally so for the floors in every
part of the house; but, unless the basement stands very high, so as to
allow of water houses, &c. underneath the ground-floor, it is usual to
have the latter flued, by means of narrow channels, or air-conduits, of
about four inches deep, and as many wide; so as to be covered with
bricks of an ordinary size: these flues are made in parallel lines, at,
perhaps, a foot or more asunder, and pass entirely under the house, in
both directions, having their several apertures covered by small iron
grates, for the purpose of keeping out rats, snakes, &c.; which would
else find admirable asylums within these intersecting channels. The
lower tarrases are thus kept thoroughly dry by the flues, which, of
course, give ventilation to every part under the floor. Where bricks are
scarce, which is often the case, on account of their never being made
for general sale, except at public stations and great cities, and then
of a very small size, it is common to build the ground tarras upon
inverted pots; each being capable of containing about three pecks, or a
bushel. These pots may be had, in any quantity, all over the country;
generally at the low rate of a farthing, or, at the utmost, a halfpenny,

The pots are ranged upon the ground, within the area formed by the
walls, side by side, but not quite in contact, each resting on its
mouth, which consists generally of a rim, projecting about three or four
inches from the body of the vessel, which is nearly spherical. The
loosest sand that can be had, or, in its absence, any dry rubbish, is
then thrown in, so as to fill up all the intervals, and to cover the
pots, about four inches in depth. This surface being levelled, another
stratum of pots is added, if judged necessary; the whole process of
filling up is similar in both, and the tarras is laid in the usual
manner on the levelled surface.

By far the greater portion of the subsoil throughout Bengal, at least,
in that wide expanse reaching from Gogra to Dacca, on the north-east,
and from the Soane, along the plains at the foot of the hills, to the
debouchure of the Hoogly, (which, together, form the limits of our
richest, and most populous, _purgunnahs_, or districts,) is a loose,
gritty sand, very like what farmers term a _lush_; which, in a few
places, receives a strong red tint from the ferruginous mountains, every
where to be seen along either boundary. This extreme looseness of the
subsoil creates a most peremptory necessity for securing the foundations
of weighty buildings, by every possible means; and, in the sinking of
wells, is often found to present the most formidable obstacles.

Under such circumstances, it must appear self-evident, that those large
mansions forming the bulk of Calcutta, by which I mean that portion
raised, and inhabited, by Europeans; together with the several
garden-houses, and the numerous edifices on a large scale erected by the
natives, especially their places of worship, which are most ponderously
constructed; all these necessarily require to be very firmly founded:
nor can too much attention be paid to carrying off the water, which
pours down from the tops of the houses; lest the bases should be sapped,
and very serious injury be entailed.

With this intention, almost every _compound_, or enclosed area, is
either laid with pan-tiles, or is well coated with _soorky_, in the same
manner as the roads; while, in many instances, the junction of the wall
with the level of the area is concealed, and secured, by a _talus_,
blending with the building, at about a foot or more above that level.

With respect to _bungalows_, or any other buildings coming under the
designation of ‘temporary,’ their foundations are usually very shallow.
These are, for the most part, raised a foot or two from the surrounding
level; and, as their inner walls, that often run from sixteen to twenty
feet in height, are well secured by the _verandas_, which likewise
preserve the precinct, for full twelve or fourteen feet, from being
softened by the rains, very shallow foundations are deemed sufficient.
The surrounding parapet which limits, while it raises, the _veranda_, is
usually of burnt-brick, cemented with good mortar, and plastered over
with the same; but the whole of the residue of bricklayers’ work is such
as has been already explained. The _verandas_ of _bungalows_ are
sustained either by strong wooden posts, or by pillars of masonry; their
intervals are filled up with _jaumps_, before described, which may be
raised at pleasure, to any angle, including about 10°, or 15°, above the
horizontal; or they may be suffered to hang perpendicularly against the
exterior faces of the pillars. In tempestuous weather, and especially
during those violent squalls called ‘_north-westers_,’ in consequence of
their usually either commencing on, or veering round to, that quarter,
it will be found necessary to place the bamboo props, whereby the
_jaumps_ are usually elevated, against their exterior sides; by which
means the _jaump_ is pressed to the pillar, and becomes greatly exempted
from the danger of being blown away; which, nevertheless, frequently is
its fate, although its weight may be full a cwt. and a half, or even two

The force of these _north-westers_ is next to incredible! I recollect
one in particular, which, in November 1787, tore up an immense tree,
called the ‘Barrackpore Beacon,’ on account of its being situated at a
point where it could be seen from Duckansore, along a beautiful reach of
the Hoogly river. This fine piece of timber measured nearly twenty feet
in girth, and branched out in the most luxuriant manner, reaching to
full seventy or eighty feet in height: it was torn up by its roots,
though some of the ramifications were much thicker than my own body,
leaving an excavation of not less than 15,000 cubic feet.

When stationed at _Hazary-Bang_, in the Ramghur district, my _bungalow_
was, I firmly believe, saved from falling by mere accident. It had
become fashionable to construct fire places in our halls, running up the
chimnies, so as to pierce the thatches immediately below the summit of
that wall in which the fire-place was made, and which served as the
front face of the chimney. Cutting through the wall, to make a proper
opening wherein to set the grate, I found that, in lieu of being firm,
as it should have been, the whole cut like so much butter. In
consequence of this discovery, I hastened the finishing of the stove,
which, in a short time, aired the room, and completely dried the walls;
but, not before they began to display very unequivocal tokens of what
would have taken place, but for my very fortunate adoption of the whim
then in vogue.

It is remarkable, that the _bungalow_ stood on a gentle declivity, from
which the superficial water was well drained; but, the soil was
proverbially spongy, and retained every shower, much the same as chalk,
but without its good qualities: thus, notwithstanding the floors, (or
tarrases,) were full two feet above the surrounding level, my habitation
would, I am well convinced, have subsided; burying every inhabitant
under its ruins! Probably, that fatal moment would have accorded with
the height of some _north-wester_; to whose fury the catastrophe would,
though erroneously, have been imputed.

The _verandas_ of _bungalows_ are generally allotted to the
accommodation of servants of all descriptions; and, except where, as in
Calcutta, a separate lodging-room is provided, serve for the home of
whatever _cahars_, or bearers, may be employed. These have each their
mat, on which they sleep, forming a pillow of any _g’hettry_, or bundle
of cloaths, and covering themselves with their quilts, &c.: blankets
being but very little in use among domestics of any description. When a
gentleman has company, the side-board is usually set out in the
_veranda_, where also the several guests’ _hookahs_ are prepared; and,
in rainy weather, their water cooled. All servants come upon being
called only; there being no bells hung in any part of the country, and
very, very few even of hand-bells to be seen. The common call, _Qui hi_?
(meaning ‘who is there?’) often rouzes a dozen of the slumbering crew,
though it is occasionally repeated, with some vociferation too, before
one will stir. Although to many _bungalows_ there are abundance of
out-offices, some of which may have been built for the reception of
palanquins, and especially of a gig, (there called a _buggy_,) few
persons allow either their _mahanahs_, or their _boçhahs_, to be kept in
such places, as they would be subject to various unpleasant purposes,
whereby their interior especially would often be soiled: this objection
acts likewise in some measure towards the common practice of retaining
the gig, as well as the palanquin, within the _veranda_; the latter is
easily lifted in and out by the bearers, but the former requires that a
_ramp_, or slope, should be made, up and down which the _syce_ (or
groom) draws it with facility. All conveyances, when housed, are covered
with a double cloth, usually made of _karwah_.

Throughout Calcutta the doors are pannelled, and have, generally,
handsome brass mountings, with mortice locks; the windows are well
glazed; and, in many instances, the rooms are laid with superb carpets,
either of European, Persian, or Mirzapore manufacture: the two latter
are generally made of silk; exhibiting not only rich patterns, but the
most brilliant colors, at least equal to any made at our manufactories.
The floors, or, more properly speaking, the tarrases, are almost
invariably covered with a matting made of a species of rush, which
possesses considerable firmness and pliancy. This, after being duly
cleansed from fibres, &c. is made up into bundles, about a cubit in
length, and nearly the same in girth, in which state it is well soaked:
from these bundles the mat-makers, who are usually of the _Cunjoor_
tribe, weave the mats upon a kind of woof made of twine, but perfectly
concealed by the rushes. Some of these mats are made plain; while others
are in various stripes, or in chequers. With this manufacture a room of
any size may be fitted; the work being either done on the spot, or at
the houses of the persons employed; the color is generally that of faded
straw; though, sometimes, red or black rushes, dyed for the purpose, are
introduced. For the accommodation of persons residing in parts where
they cannot have floors fitted with entire mats, long strips, of about a
yard wide, and four or five yards long, are sold in almost every great
_bazar_ (or market). These require to be sewed side by side, the same as
our Scotch carpeting; but, exclusive of that disadvantage, are not so
eligible; both because they are less carefully made, and that, in almost
every instance, they are manufactured from refuse materials.

In the upper provinces, where the _kudjoor_ (or date-tree) abounds, a
very passable kind of matting is made of its leaves; it is true, this is
not so durable, nor so handsome, nor so even, as that sort just
described; owing to the coarseness of the materials, it is rather
subject to catch the feet of chairs; add to this, the danger of fire
from _hookahs_, &c.: all these circumstances limit the use of the
_kudjoor_ mats to very ordinary purposes; or, at the least, to laying
down in such rooms as are to be wholly or partially carpeted.

Mats are likewise made, in every part of the country, from green
bamboos; which, being split into very thin laths, of about half an inch,
or less, in width, answer the same purpose as the foregoing; these are,
however, very uncomfortable, and harbour centipedes by the hundred: the
_kudjoor_ mats partake of that objection, but not to the same extent.
Mats, if we may so call them, are likewise made by laying down rattans,
and stringing them together with strips of their own bark, the same as
is done in making the _seerky_ used in thatching; but this species is
very rare: indeed, I believe only a few were ever seen in Calcutta, and
they were said to have been brought by the Dutch from Malacca, whence
great numbers of rattans are yearly imported. The price of the best
rush-mats may be taken at about a rupee per square yard; that of the
mats in strips at from four annas (8½ _d._) to eight annas (17_d._); but
the _kudjoor_, and bamboo kinds, can only be computed by the demand for
materials, and the prices of labor, locally: probably, taking all things
into consideration, we may estimate a square yard of either at two
annas, or about 4¼_d._ A very beautiful species of mat is made in some
parts of the country, but especially in the south-eastern districts,
about Dacca and Luckypore, from a kind of reedy grass, of which the
rind, being pared off very thin, and trimmed to about the eighth of an
inch in width, is wove into mats, rarely exceeding seven or eight feet
in length, by about four feet in width. These are peculiarly slippery,
whence they are designated ‘_seekul-putty_,’ (_i.e._ polished sheets);
their color resembles that of common horn, and their prices are
generally from two to six rupees per piece; according to their fineness,
and to the state of the markets. The principal uses of the
_seekul-putty_, are, to be laid under the lower sheet of a bed, thereby
to keep the body cool; which is certainly effected to a great degree by
this device, by its remarkably slippery surface: some few pillows for
couches are likewise covered therewith, and I have seen it employed in
making covers for mahogany tables; to which it is well adapted, on
account of its repelling dust: in such case, it ought to have all the
joinings well taped, and to be lined with blanket, or with _karwah_, &c.
properly quilted.

Exclusive of the carpets before mentioned, and which are very high
priced, a manufacture of _satrinjes_ is carried on at Mirzapore, and in
many other parts. These serve all the purposes of carpets, but have no
plush; being in that particular very similar to our Scotch carpeting,
but, at the same time, very dissimilar in respect to pattern. The
_satrinje_ is nothing more than a very large colored sheet, in which,
except for about a cubit’s breadth all around, the whole is divided into
bars, or stripes, usually from two to six inches wide, proportioned to
the extent of the fabric. The principal colors in these carpets are
crimson for a ground, with bars of deep, or light red; or blue grounds,
with white, yellow, or tawny bars; or green grounds, with deeper, or
lighter green, or crimson, or orange bars; or any of these, _vice
versâ_. The common price of a woollen _satrinje_, may be from twelve
annas (_i.e._ 3/4 of a rupee) to three rupees per square yard; according
to fineness, substance, color, demand, &c.

Of cotton _satrinjes_, the price rarely exceeds a rupee, or a rupee and
a quarter, for the same extent; these, however, wash admirably. It is no
uncommon thing to see a _satrinje_ of full twenty by thirty feet; and
this, too, made upon nothing more than a bamboo roller, round which the
work gradually collects, as the threads are crossed, by passing the
warp-lines, alternately over and under the woof-lines, in regular

_Cheeks_, or screens, to keep out the glare, are made in a similar
manner. These simple, yet most comfortable, addenda to our Indian
habitations, are formed of bamboo wires, (if I may use the term,) from
four to six feet in length, and about the thickness of a very large
knitting-needle, or, perhaps, of a crow-quill. A thin, clean-worked
lath, of the same material, is put at the top and bottom.

Many _cheeks_ are made of bamboo wires, previously painted either green,
or reddish brown, but generally the former. These require no particular
care, further than keeping them separate, as they dry; which is usually
effected by laying them upon two rows of bricks, or against a wall, or
upon scattered straw, when the weather is calm. When _cheeks_ are
intended to represent any pattern, such as birds on branches, or Indian
deities, &c., the whole of the wires are laid with their respective ends
on two boards, over which two others are placed perfectly parallel, and
even, so as to press the ends of the wires, and to prevent their being
easily displaced. A pattern, being cut out on paper of the required
size, is fastened down upon the wires, and its outline every where
distinctly marked upon them; after which it is worked in on the former
ground, say a green, with brown for branches, a deeper green for the
leaves, and red, yellow, &c., for the birds: the whole is then left to
dry. When ready for use, the _cheek-wallah_ (or maker) fixes his
apparatus close to the top, and, taking each wire in succession, fastens
it down in its proper place, being guided by two lateral lines, as they
are handed to him by an urchin, perhaps not more than three or four
years of age! In this way the representation is preserved.

The neatest patterned _cheeks_ come from China; but the Bengallee artist
is getting fast forward, and bids fair to put a stop to the importation:
it is usual to have the whole _cheek_ bound, all around, either with a
light cotton tape, of about three or four inches broad, or with red, or
blue, _karwah_. At the top of each _cheek_, generally, a piece of
circular leather is attached, two being sewed together, though on
different sides of the wires; to these the cotton cords, usually white,
or red and white, or blue and white, about an inch in circumference, and
each a full yard in length, are sewed: their use is, to tie up the
_cheek_, when rolled towards the door-plate, at such times as it is not
wanted. Each end of the top lath has similar pieces of leather sewed on,
for the cords by which the _cheek_ is to be suspended.

It is understood, that white _cheeks_ are preferable; both because they
keep out the glare much better, and as they render the interior less
distinguishable to any spectator from without: consequently, they
contribute most to coolness, and to privacy.

I believe it would be impossible to find any house inhabited by an
European of respectability, in any part of Calcutta, which should prove
to be destitute of proper doors, of pannelled wood, or of windows, at
least, furnished with Venetians, if not with glass sashes. Whether for
appearance, convenience, or real utility, certainly there cannot be any
thing equal to glass, the use of which is now become so general, that
almost every _bungalow_ in the upper provinces, unless merely built as a
shelter for a few months, is provided with glass; some, perhaps, only
partially, but a great majority throughout. Were it not that this most
agreeable improvement were attainable on what may be called very
moderate terms, the great number of serious drawbacks it has to
encounter, would assuredly cause its exportation to the East to be very
limitted. The principal objections to its use, are, 1stly, the
difficulty of getting glass cut to fit the sashes; 2dly, the aptness of
even the best seasoned wood to warp, so as to cause the panes to fly;
3dly, the difficulty which frequently exists of getting glass at all;
especially of the larger sizes.

As a balance to this, we find, that this brittle commodity, after
undergoing all the risques attendant upon shipping, and landing,
together with all the dangers of the seas, and much occasional rough
usage after being consigned to the up-country trader, can usually be
sold at Futty-Ghur, or Lucknow, which are each distant about a thousand
miles, by water, from Calcutta, at the following prices: panes of 8 by
11 inches, at about twenty rupees per _coorge_, (or score,); 10 by 14,
at about twenty-six rupees; of 12 by 16, at about thirty-two; of 15 by
20, at about forty; of 18 by 26, at about fifty; and of 20 by 30, at
about sixty rupees. These prices give little more than cent. per cent.
upon the wholesale prices of London. What with the necessity for making
those panes and sashes, which are exposed to the sun, very firm, as well
as from a due attention to economy in so expensive an article, we
generally see, in the upper provinces, the panes laid transversely,
instead of upright; and only one row of such panes in each frame; the
wood-work being made very broad, so as to occupy a large space. The
light thus admitted, is found fully adequate to every common purpose;
the atmosphere being, for full eight months out of the twelve, perfectly
clear; and there being rarely any buildings to debar the full enjoyment
of that blessing: besides, that great exposure to an unclouded sky,
which may in England be deemed highly advantageous, would, in India,
prove objectionable; by admitting so forcible a glare as must give more
uneasiness than pleasure.

When glass either cannot be had; or, that, owing to some speculator
having monopolized, the price is considered too high, it is not uncommon
to see windows furnished with plates of _talc_; which may be obtained,
in almost any quantity, at the several cities, especially towards the
frontiers; very extensive dealings being carried on in this article, by
persons resident chiefly at Lucknow, Benares, and Patna, who import it
from Thibet, and the countries on the north of the Punjab, or Seik
territory, in masses, often as large as a quartern loaf. The principal
intention of such traffic is for the supply of that fine powder, used in
the Hindu holiday, called _hooly_, which may generally be viewed as the
carnival of that sect.

The masses of _talc_ commonly sell for about a rupee and a half, or even
up to two rupees per seer (of about two pounds avoirdupoise): when good,
it is of a pure pearl color, but it has, ordinarily, either a yellowish,
or a faint blue cast: by means of proper tools, this mineral may be
split into very thin leaves, which often present smooth surfaces, but
are apt to have little scaly blisters, that greatly deteriorate their
value. However, a seer of _talc_, that splits well, will sometimes yield
a dozen or more panes, of about 12 inches by 9, or of 10 by 10; and
thus, according to the form of the lump; which can only be split in the
direction of its laminæ. These panes are so far diaphanous as to allow
ordinary objects to be seen at about twenty or thirty yards tolerably
distinct; and, of course, present an excellent substitute for glass.

I am surprized that the very simple process whereby _talc_ may be
vitrified, has not encouraged some ingenious person to establish a
manufactory for that purpose. When combined with alkaline salt, (every
where attainable in India,) it is fusible in a strong heat, and forms a
transparent, handsome, greenish-yellow glass. If equal portions of
_talc_ and of chalk be melted together, with one-fourth part of borax,
(the _soohaugah_, or tincal, so abundant throughout the East,) the
mixture will produce a fine pellucid, greenish glass, of considerable
lustre and hardness; gypsous earths, (which, though not brought into
use, are supposed to abound in some parts of Bahar, and of the upper
provinces,) may be advantageously substituted for chalk, whence the
result will be a rich, pellucid, yellow glass, of equal brightness and

Speaking of chalk, I must remark, that very large quantities are
occasionally sent to India, notwithstanding some of the hills at the
back of Raje Mahal abound therewith. I understood, many years ago, from
an old friend, who was quarter-master of a regiment stationed at
Monghyr, distant about forty miles from the former place, that, in
consequence of a scarcity of musquet flints, he had sent people to the
Chalk Hills of Raje Mahal, whence he had obtained a boat-load that
answered admirably. In reply to my questions regarding the chalk, he
informed me it was very coarse. But he forgot, that, by dissolving it in
a large quantity of water, and allowing the rubbish to sink, the finer
particles would be for a while suspended; and, on being poured off,
would, after repeated washings in this manner, yield the purest whiting.
It really appears surprizing, that those chalk hills should remain
unnoticed; and, that even the lime-burners should neglect to take
advantage of their being so advantageously situated among wildernesses
of fuel, and within a mile of the great channel of the Ganges! That the
Company should ever send out whiting, or put themselves to the expence
of millions upon millions of gun and pistol flints, when they possess
such a quarry, (of which the extent is not known,) appears highly
inconsistent with that economy so much and so properly studied. If it be
argued, that some impolicy might exist in shewing the natives how to
provide themselves with flints; the answer is very easy; for the
gun-smiths of _Monghyr_ are fully apprized of the whole process. But,
surely the chalk cannot be accused of the same dangerous tendency! To
say the least, government might, with great advantage, cause all the
lime required for their own works to be made from it; imposing a price
upon all that might be dug by merchants, or others; as they do at their
stone quarries, near _Chunar-Ghur_, &c. My readers will, at all events,
discover that a very useful glass might be made in India, the duty on
which would produce a much larger sum than the whole amount of profits
accruing to our exporters. It is, indeed, a well-known fact, that the
captains of Indiamen take out window glass more with the view to making
up a general assortment, than from any great advantage arising from its
sale to the European shop-keepers, &c. In time of peace they are
invariably undersold by foreign traders; who carry out glass of an
inferior quality, which sells to a certain extent; and is often rather
sought, than rejected, on account of its greenish hue, which is found to
soften the light considerably; especially in exposed situations.

The natives do, occasionally, make a weak, greenish, and blistered glass
into _caraboys_, or great bottles for rose-water, and into lesser ones,
such as the _gundies_, or itinerant perfumers, use; but this is on a
very small scale, and chiefly supplied from broken tumblers, shades,
&c., of European manufacture. There are persons at Patna, who have men
constantly employed in purchasing broken glass, of every description,
from the servants of Europeans, and in collecting such fragments as may
be thrown out among the ordinary rubbish.

It must occasionally happen, that neither glass, nor _talc_, can be
readily obtained; in which case, the best mode is to make light frames,
and to pannel, or fill them up with wax-cloth, neatly nailed on. This is
an admirable substitute, not only keeping out wind, rain, and dust, but,
in the cold season, preserving the warmth of rooms, yet admitting
sufficient light for ordinary purposes: I have very frequently resorted
to this expedient, and even to frames of oiled paper; all I had to
regret was, that they debarred my seeing what passed abroad. To a person
just arrived from Europe, such would appear a most distressing
privation; but, after experiencing a few seasons behind _tatties_,
without being able to enjoy the light during the whole day, and that for
months together, such recluseness would scarcely be considered worthy of
notice: so true it is, that we gradually become habituated to the loss
of ordinary enjoyments, of faculties, and even of civil and religious

Although _bungalows_ have not any ceilings of plaster, they are rendered
inconceivably neat within, by means of a double sheet, made of very
coarse cotton cloth, called _guzzy_; of which tents are usually
constructed. These sheets are fitted to the several apartments
respectively, are bound with strong tape around, and have, besides,
various tapes forming an union cross of eight limbs, or rays, all
meeting in the centre. As the cornices commonly project near a foot,
abundance of space is left for lacing the sheet (called the _chandny_,)
to battens, nailed to pegs built in the wall: these battens being firmly
secured all the way round, about an inch above the cornice, admit the
sheet to be strained very tight, so as to bag very little, if at all, in
the centre. Some white-wash their _chandnies_, and take so much pains in
establishing a firm appearance, as to render them very similar to well
made ceilings. Without this last mode of preparation, music has no
effect in a _bungalow_; indeed, at the best, the most powerful
instrument is heard under very great disadvantages, owing to the number
of apertures, the _satringes_, mats, couch and table covers, &c., all
which deaden the tones considerably.

Those who are very particular in whatever relates to their furniture,
&c., have their _verandas_ lined in the same manner as their apartments,
giving them a finished appearance; but, in such exposed situations the
cloths are apt to collect considerable quantities of dust, which is
perpetually set in motion by the shaking of the cloths when acted upon
by the wind: on this account _seerky_ appears to me far preferable as a
lining for _verandas_.

The usual expedient, when doors of any description are not made, is to
provide _purdahs_, made of _karwah_, (or _guzzy_,) or both mixed in
perpendicular stripes of eight or ten inches wide each: some, especially
those who are stationary, make their _purdahs_ of shalloon, perpet, or
very coarse broad-cloth, in the following manner. The cloth is made into
two sheets of equal dimensions, say nine feet by six, and having strong
tapes, perhaps five or seven in number, inserted cross-wise between
them: these tapes are double. The whole circumference of the _purdah_ is
then sewed very neatly, and bound with tape, corresponding with the
color of the cloth, and the ends of the tapes are also bound by means of
leather, covered with the same materials. Between every pair of tapes, a
bamboo, of a small kind, but very tough, is introduced; or, perhaps, a
stout lath made from a bamboo of the large sort. These sticks, or laths,
serve to keep the cloth stretched out, and when the _purdah_ is
suspended, much in the same manner as has been explained for the
mounting of a _cheek_, lie horizontally; thus preventing the wind from
blowing in the _purdah_.

It is observed as a general rule, always to make a _purdah_ full a foot
wider on each side than the door way it is to conceal; also to carry it
a foot above the door plate, and to have a portion, about a foot in
depth, without any lath, at the bottom, so as to trail a little on the
ground. Those _purdahs_ which are made of _karwah_, or other cotton
stuff, are generally quilted with cotton, or are composed of many folds,
or have coarse blankets inlaid between their outer coatings. The last is
by far the most effectual, most neat, and most durable mode of
construction; but, at the best, _purdahs_ are a very indifferent
make-shift; and, though often, from necessity, applied to windows, are
by no means answerable to their intention. Their best use is certainly
to deaden sounds; hence, they are advantageously suspended outside the
doors of sleeping, or other retired apartments; when, by closing the
doors, privacy and quiet may usually be effected. The presence of a
_purdah_ usually indicates the exclusion of males; and that the
apartments, within that entrance, are devoted to the accommodation of
ladies; except when rolled up, and tied, as has been explained in regard
to _cheeks_.

The best timber for building, in whatever branch, is the _sygwam_, or
_teak_; but its dearness prevents its general use, especially since
naval architecture has been so much an object of speculation at
Calcutta. However, it can generally be purchased at about a rupee, or a
rupee and a quarter, per foot: making its utmost price about three
shillings and three-pence. Those who build houses of the first class,
rarely fail to lay all their tarrases upon _teak_ joists; both because
they possess superior strength, and that they are far less likely to be
attacked by the white-ants. This has been attributed to the quantity of
tannin contained in _teak_-wood, which some have asserted to be a
perfect preventive, or antidote; but, after having seen those noxious
insects devouring shoes and boots by wholesale, I can never bring myself
to accord with such an opinion. There is, in _teak_-wood, evidently some
property, hitherto occult, that repels the white-ant, at least for some
years, but which is doubtless diminished by exposure to the air; as we
find that very old _teak_-timbers become rather more subject to
depredation, than new ones. The greater part of the _teak_ used in
Bengal, and at Madras, is imported from the Pegu coast, in immense
beams, and in spars, planks, &c., of all sizes. It is by no means
unusual to see the squared timbers measuring from forty, to fifty, feet
in length, and averaging from fifteen to twenty inches in diameter. Here
is food for our dock-yards!

It would certainly be attended with considerable benefit to the public,
if that occult principle, or matter, which apparently exists in the
_teak_-wood, enabling it to resist both the white-ant, and the
river-worm, could be ascertained; it might be possible to impregnate, or
to saturate, other timber in a similar manner. This is the more
essential, because we have abundant proofs that mere hardness does not
deter those voracious insects, which are found at times even upon the
lignum vitæ! But the principal object, so far as relates to naval
purposes, is, that the _teak_-wood certainly is, in a great measure,
devoid of the gallic, or any other, acid; or, if such is present, it
assuredly must be in a very limitted portion; since the nails driven
into _teak_-wood are never corroded so as to decay the surrounding wood,
and to liberate it from confinement. To this decay, called
‘iron-sickness,’ are attributed many losses of ships, supposed to have
foundered at sea, in consequence of planks starting; which must often
happen when the wood embracing a nail is destroyed by the acid, or by
the action of salt water upon the iron. In repairing ships built of oak,
many nails are found perfectly insulated, by the wood having been
rotted, and fallen away; which has never been the case with vessels
built of _teak_.

The generality of apartments being large, the halls measuring perhaps
from thirty to forty feet in length, and from sixteen to twenty-four in
width, and other rooms in proportion, it is evident that very
substantial, as well as long, timbers must be requisite to support their
flat roofs; for, with a few exceptions, truss-roofs are not in use. The
mode introduced by Mr. Lyon, the Company’s architect, at Berhampore,
certainly contributed greatly to reduce the quantity of timber in a
roof, but it rendered it absolutely necessary that every timber should
be perfectly sound. That gentleman, whose professional skill, and
excellent social qualities, demand an ample tribute, exploded _burgahs_,
(or smaller battens,) from the roofs he constructed; and, in their
stead, threw arches from the centre of one to the centre of the other
timber; so that the intervals between the timbers were to appearance
grooved, or fluted, longitudinally. This, however, was barely
distinguishable, the arches being very elliptic; rarely, indeed,
including more than an angle of six degrees, on a circle having full ten
feet of radius.

Hence, it will be seen, that the joists were tolerably close, but their
diameters admitted of considerable reduction, on account of the
continuity of such a series of arches, which gave great solidity; and,
by their mutual pressure, admitted that a joist should be freely
removed, without in the least affecting the roof.

The houses built and inhabited by the natives, invariably have flat
roofs. In these the apartments are, for the most part, extremely narrow,
and dark. The _verandas_, where any are made, consist of arcaded fronts,
invariably indented gothic; and have pillars, either of an hexagonal, or
of an octagonal, form, resting on short pedestals, while the arch may be
seen to break off rather too suddenly from the shaft, which continues up
to _baisez-mur_, (or _bassimere_, as our architects vulgarly call it,)
and divides the upper part into various compartments, all of which are
ornamented with a profusion of carved work. In almost every Hindostanee
building, of this description, there will be seen an odd number of
arches, to which others in the main part of the edifice generally
correspond. The chambers, if so we may call them, are taken off from the
ends of the halls, by similar arcades; each of which, as well as those
of the exterior, is furnished with a _purdah_. These narrow slips have
no windows, or, at the best, only small loop holes. The intention of
such oven-like recesses would perplex an European unacquainted with
Asiatic customs, but he would soon find that, in the cold season, such
are peculiarly warm, and that, during those months in which the glare is
obnoxious, they remain cooler than such as admit more light. Almost
every house is furnished with some means of ascending to the _chut_, (or
flat tarras-roof,) whereon the natives often pass the evening, causing
the heat to be first abated, by means of several pots of water, which
throw up a steam fully indicating the temperature at which the tarras
had arrived. The natives are not partial to upper-roomed houses in
general; though they affect to pride themselves greatly in the
possession of _doomaulahs_, that is, of houses having a second floor: it
seems that ostentation is the reason of this predilection in favor of
ground floors, whereon all their attendants, &c., may be seen from the
level of their _compounds_ (or enclosed areas). The stairs, where any
exist, (for sometimes a very mean boarded ladder is made to answer that
intention,) are narrow, steep, and unsafe: these are almost always built
of solid masonry, as far up as the first turn, (or landing place,) after
which they commonly consist of small bricks laid edgeways in lime
mortar, supported by stout timbers, placed at a proper angle, and
resting on the proximate joist of the upper floor. In every Hindostanee
house, the doors are very low, and often are made to open into a long
arcaded _veranda_, running the whole length of the interior, much the
same as in our inns; while, in the front, or towards the road, a hanging
balcony is sometimes made, supported on continuations of the joists, of
which the extremities are carved into grotesque forms; such as the heads
of alligators, or of tigers, or of serpents, and not infrequently of
little human figures, whose size and squat position strongly put us in
mind of a _f[oe]tus in utero_.

_Saul-wood_ is used to an immense extent, both in buildings, and in the
construction of ships, but is not to be compared, either for toughness,
strength, resistance against insects, or durability, with _teak_. Its
price is much in favor of general service, to which its great size, and
admirable straightness, are considerable, and valuable recommendations;
but it is extremely apt to crack, though not to snap; especially when
exposed to the weather. There is something very peculiar in _saul-wood_;
since it is seen to warp, even after having been employed in bulk for
many years, riving into large fissures longitudinally: the white-ants
also devour it with avidity. Mr. Lyon, already noticed, when he was
building the General Hospital at Berhampore, caused an immense copper
trough to be made, in which he boiled the beams intended for that
edifice: some were boiled in pure water, others with tannin, and some
with arsenic; under the hope both of seasoning the timber, and of giving
it a repellant, or preservative quality. This ingenious, and highly
praise-worthy experiment, was by no means successful; for, although, in
the first instance, the timbers seemed to defy the white-ant, especially
those boiled in the solution of arsenic, still they were not completely
secured from depredation; while, on the other hand, nine in ten rived so
dangerously as to demand immediate props, and ultimate removal.

Many authors have recommended the boiling of timber, planks, &c., with a
view to extract the sap, and thus to season them out of hand; but they
have invariably neglected to furnish us with the results. Now, I have
ever held it necessary, that medical practitioners should keep a
register of the obituary, as well as of the convalescent department, in
order that we may know how to _avoid_ certain systems; which, doubtless,
for want of such a guide, or caution, have been repeatedly resorted to
by various medical characters, who, insensible of those fatal effects
that had attended former experiments, thus consign many patients to
their graves! So should all experiments, such as that above recorded, be
fully laid before the public, and their results be candidly detailed. It
is evident, that where we see only the suggestion, without the proofs of
its failure, we must frequently be induced to adopt hints of a most
pernicious tendency.

_Saul_ timber, when used in buildings, ought always to have its ends
completely open to inspection; both to prevent the white-ant from
preying upon it under cover, and to insure its being duly aerated;
without which, however charred and tarred it may be, rottenness will
speedily take place. This arises from being bedded in masonry, which,
during the rainy season, even under the best roofs, will absord a large
portion of moisture, that will, infallibly, in time, penetrate into the
timber. It must be recollected, that not one in hundreds of the houses
in Calcutta, or that are built on their plan, contains a fire-place:
hence, during some months in the year, the walls will exhibit various
indications of moisture, even to their very cornices; though this will
often depend upon the proper selection of sand for mixing in the
plaster. It is now well known, though not long since discovered, that
all sand, taken up within the flowing of the tides, is strongly
impregnated with salt, which will keep the mortar wherein it is mixed
eternally subject to damps; notwithstanding the tarrases may be flued,
or be founded upon pots. I have known several, otherwise highly
eligible, houses rendered untenable, merely by this incautious use of
river sand; which occasioned whatever mats, or carpets, were laid down,
to be speedily rotted. The fault was at first imputed to the vicinity of
the river, whence it was suspected the damps were received; but it was
ascertained, that such tarrases, and mortar, as were compounded of
pit-sand, remained dry, and free from so obnoxious a defect.
Nevertheless, the greater part of the buildings, in and about Calcutta,
receive a certain portion of river-sand, taken up within the reach of
brackish water: while this practice is allowed, the walls and tarrases
will remain subject to occasional moisture; and, as we daily see in that
city, the plastering will blister, or, indeed, become mottled, and
obviously unsound.

_Saul-timbers_ are found in all the forests, ranging under the hills,
branching our possessions from Assam up to Hurdwar; they are more
abundant in some parts than in others, but no where scarce. Many of
these forests present thousands upon thousands of acres, whereon the
_saul_, _sissoo_, and other useful timbers grow spontaneously; offering
to us an inexhaustible depôt! The only consideration is, that
water-carriage should be at hand. The Indian wood-feller, who pays not
more than sixpence, or a shilling, for each tree he may choose, and
which may, perhaps, contain from sixty to a hundred feet of timber,
considers it a bad speculation, if some river be not within a stone’s
throw of the selected wood: his object is to lop and bark as fast as he
can, and then to launch the tree into the river, there to be fastened to
others, intended to form a raft, or float, which, being secured to a
boat, may glide down with the current to some established market. His
expences are very trifling; for, with the exception of some duties, most
injudiciously imposed, his adventure will not cost more than two-pence
per foot, when arrived at the place of destination; where it may
commonly be sold, without risk or delay, for full three times that sum.
Few _saul-timbers_ measuring a ton, or even a load, (_i.e._ forty, or
fifty, cubic feet,) stand the owner in more than three rupees when
landed at Patna; where such always meet with a very ready sale, in whole
rafts, at nine, ten, and sometimes up to fifteen, rupees per stick, (or
timber;) and this, notwithstanding the number of competitors in the
trade. Those competitors rarely prove injurious to each other, while
they render great service to the public, by preventing the whole trade
from falling into a few hands. Thus, the prices of _saul-timber_ are not
only kept down, but, in general, owing to occasional gluts, seasoned
timbers may be, to any amount, purchased at the several _ghauts_, or

The mode of floating timber being so very different from that in use
with us, I offer a description of it, under the hope of its affording at
least some variety, if not some useful information. A common _pulwar_,
(or _paunchway_,) of perhaps thirty feet in length, and six or seven in
width, is equipped with two sticks of _saul_, say forty feet long, and
two feet in girth: these are placed across her gunwales, at right angles
with her length, and about six feet from her centre, and very firmly
lashed down. The boat, being in about three feet water, has a tree
brought up to each of her sides, where they are respectively lashed to
the cross timbers, and thus, in succession, until she is judged
incapable of receiving more burthen. In the centre of the boat, a small
cabin is generally made, either of thatch, or of arched bamboo laths,
covered with _durmah_ mats: in this the crew are sheltered at night. It
is highly expedient to avoid launching such rafts when the river is at
the fullest, or the current any way prone to deviate from the deepest
channels, as it must do in great floods, on account of the waters
finding, for a while, passages along hollows among the inland parts;
that is, beyond their limits in ordinary seasons. When a float of timber
once gets over the river’s bank, it must be the result of great good
fortune, if the channel is ever regained. Hence, when the waters are
falling, it is common to see very large pinnaces, _budjrows_, and boats
of burthen, left upon some sand, on which they had struck, but which the
rapid ebbing of the floods prevented them from quitting! In such cases,
some are allowed to remain until the ensuing year, when the floods lift
them; others are unladen, and, by means of the joint efforts of hundreds
of villagers, are pushed along the sands to the deep water; while those
which appear unequal to such a severe operation, are generally broken
up, and sold for various purposes.

When a float of timber becomes thus situated, the best way is to cut the
ropes of at least half the exterior sticks on each side, and so to
lighten the boat, that she may be carried into a depth suited to
receiving them again: but this operation, which, on paper, appears very
simple, requires great exertion, and no less despatch; as the strength
of the current, which often runs six or seven miles within the hour,
renders it extremely difficult to manage such immense logs; especially
as they are very apt to sink into the sands. We commonly see several
floats in company, proceeding, when the reaches are straight, and the
waters deep, with great regularity; the boatmen, in such situations,
having little to do, sit smoking their _nereauls_, with great composure:
sometimes a sail is hoisted, but, for the most part, it is deemed
expedient to check, rather than to accelerate, the progress. Almost
every float, or, at least, every company of floats, has a canoe attached
to it; which, in doubtful waters, precedes, and directs the men in
charge of the respective vessels, who, by means of _luggies_, (or
bamboo-poles, from twenty even to fifty feet in length,) fend off the
floats from banks, or guide them along the deep water: without such
pilotage, they would be in perpetual danger of grounding, the
inconveniences of which are, as above shewn, by no means inconsiderable.

Floats of timber cannot well come to an anchor, except in very still
water; hence, they are usually brought-to under steep banks, where there
is great depth; and where, in case the river should fall during the
night, they would not be left high and dry.

The greatest danger to which a timber float can be exposed, is that of
running upon a sunken tree, which, having been washed away, by the bank
whereon it stood being undermined by the strong currents, is hurled away
into deep water, where it probably lies exposed to view for the first
year. During the hot season, when the waters are low, the boughs are
often cut away by persons in want of fuel; or, perhaps, they are torn
off by the succeeding rains, so far as to cause their being concealed a
foot or two under the surface. When thus situated, they throw up a deal
of water, so that their locality may be ascertained at some distance;
but, owing to heavy mists, and especially to clouds of sand, they
frequently are not discovered by the boatmen, until it becomes
impossible to avoid them.

If the _pulwar_, _i.e._ the supporting boat, strikes upon one of the
branches, her bottom will infallibly be staved in; and, in all
probability, the immense body of water bearing upon the timbers, will
either tear them away from the _pulwar_, or carry off her upper works,
leaving her bottom entangled. In either case, the situation of the
boatmen becomes highly critical; but, as they generally are expert
swimmers, (though, strange to say, some _dandies_, have, like Falstaff,
‘a wonderful alacrity at sinking,’) few are drowned on such occasions.
The timbers, however, rarely fail to find the bottom, so soon as their
buoyant companion is wrecked.

The great number of trees thus immersed, some of which equal our largest
oaks, render it extremely dangerous to go down with the stream during
the night: in some strong waters, such impediments are numerous, and
render the navigation very hazardous, even during the day time;
especially should a _goon_, or track rope, give way just after getting a
boat above them; when this misfortune happens, the chances of escape are
comparatively small indeed.

When boats, heavily laden, strike upon a tree, they sometimes go to
pieces, in consequence of the water’s rapidity; but, when so entangled
as to be pierced in several parts, they very generally remain entire,
presenting, as the waters subside, the very curious spectacle of a
vessel, perhaps carrying twelve or fifteen hundred maunds, sitting, as
it were, among the boughs, often ten or twelve feet above the surface of
the stream. It is by no means unusual, in the course of a week’s
travelling, to see one, or more, of these disastrous elevations; more
especially about the month of October. The misfortune is, that, though
the cargo may, perhaps, be saved, if not of a perishable nature, such as
sugar, salt-petre, &c.; yet, that the vessel, however expeditiously
emptied, can never be got off; consequently, she must be broken up.

With respect to the prices of _saul_ timbers, we generally find them to
be nearly the same, year after year, at the same places; provided a
sufficient number, but not a great glut, should arrive within the proper
season. On an average, near Patna, the cubic foot will cost about
sixpence, at Moorshadabad, about a shilling, and, at Calcutta, about two
shillings, or even half-a-crown. An extra price is, of course, put on
timbers of superior dimensions, while the smaller kinds, called
_bautties_, which rarely contain more than eight or ten feet, are, in an
opposite degree, depreciated. The _saul_ is a very solid wood, at least
equally so as elm, but has not its pliancy, nor is it quite so apt to
split: its grain usually runs tolerably even; it is likewise heavy, yet
by no means so ponderous as _teak_: both, like many of our firmer woods,
sink in fresh water.

In the upper provinces, some very fine oak timbers are occasionally to
be seen: these are chiefly of a peculiar kind, nearly approaching to
chocolate color, extremely difficult to cut up, and, consequently, very
heavy: this last characteristic gives them the name of _seesah_, or,
lead-wood. The prices of these trees, which generally measure about the
same as the _saul_, from the same forests, (namely, from the
neighbourhood of _Peelabeet_,) rather exceed those of the latter
description; and would probably be greatly enhanced, if the natives
stood in need of such very substantial wood for any of their buildings,
or manufactures. The fact is, that the carpenters generally endeavor to
dissuade their employers from purchasing oak, by representing it as
subject to many defects; though the true reason is, that its hardness
infallibly causes more grinding of, than working with, their tools;
which are almost always either too much, or too little tempered. At
Futty-Ghur, _saul_ timbers commonly sell for full eighteen-pence the
foot, and oaks for about two shillings. I recollect buying some of the
former, that measured thirty feet in length, with an average squaring of
fourteen inches, for twenty-eight rupees each; and oaks of the same
dimensions, or nearly so, at thirty-five: but wood was then extremely
scarce, and at full twenty per cent. above the ordinary rates.

The great aptness of _saul_-wood to warp, we should suppose, might have
favored the importation of oak, notwithstanding the outcry against its
flinty hardness: and such would doubtless have been the case, had not
another kind of wood, possessing a very fine grain, and rather
handsomely veined, been abundant. This, which is called the _sissoo_,
grows in most of the great forests, intermixed with the _saul_; but, in
lieu of towering up with a straight stem, seems partial to crooked
forms, such as suit it admirably for the knees of ships, and for such
parts as require the grain to follow some particular curve. This wood is
extremely hard, and heavy, of a dark brown, inclining to a purple tint
when polished; after being properly seasoned, it rarely cracks, or
warps; nor is it so subject as _saul_ to be destroyed by either
white-ants, or river-worms. The domestic uses of _sissoo_ are chiefly
confined to the construction of furniture, especially chairs, tables,
tepoys, (or tripods,) bureaus, book-cases, ecritoires, &c. &c. for all
which purposes it is peculiarly appropriate, with the exception of its
being very ponderous. This objection is, however, counter-balanced by
its great durability, and by the extraordinary toughness of the tenons,
dovetails, &c. necessarily made by the cabinet-maker, or joiner.
_Sissoo_ is, of late, more employed than formerly for the frame, ribs,
knees, &c. of ships, especially those of great burthen: for such, it is
found to be fully as tough and as durable as the best oak. When timbers
can be had of this wood long enough for the purpose, it is often applied
for bends, and, indeed, for a portion of the planking, or casing; but it
is very rarely that a plank of ten feet can be had free from curve.
Though admirably suited for stern and head-work, it is neither long
enough for keels in general, nor sufficiently uniform in its diameter
for the supply of stern-posts. Some _sissoo-trees_ grow to a great
weight; but, unluckily, the devious directions of their boughs render it
necessary to lop them away for minor purposes: if, instead of dividing
into several large branches, at perhaps only ten or twelve feet from the
ground, one large stem were to rise, however crooked, to double that
height, there would be a great encrease of substance; as it is, however,
we may account it an excellent timber indeed that measures a ton (_i.e._
forty cubic feet).

This inconvenience is greatly augmented by the slovenly manner in which
trees are felled throughout India. There, it is common to see the axe
(for no saws are used on such occasions) laid to the stem often at a
yard or more from the soil; while, at the same time, full a cubit in
depth is destroyed in widening the orifice, so as to penetrate into the
heart: this creates considerable loss, which is frequently rendered
still greater by the irregular manner in which the butt rends when in
the act of quitting the root, or stool. If this wood were more scarce,
probably greater pains would be taken to make the most of its length; as
it is, we see, that, even those ship-builders who occasionally send
their agents into the _Morungs_, or great forests to the north of
_Bahar_ and _Purneah_, allow the same loss to take place; thus
disqualifying the timbers from more general, as well as more important,
adaptation. The price of _sissoo_, for the most part, runs about
twenty-five, or even to forty per cent. above that of _saul_; but, in
many places, up the country especially, where naval architecture is not
in view, their values are generally about equal. In such situations, it
is less an object of import; since its utility is greatly circumscribed,
and, in a great variety of instances, superseded, by the _baubool_, (a
species of _mimosa_, generally growing wild,) whose crooked billets are
deservedly in great estimation, and whose bark is considered to be, if
any thing, superior to that of oak for the tanners’ use.

I should have remarked, that, in some parts of the country, especially
along the western frontier, a small kind of _saul_ grows wild: this
rarely exceeds six inches in diameter, and is commonly used entire, in
lieu of bamboos, for enclosures, rafters of _bungalows_, &c. It is very
peculiar that this wood cannot be trusted for any length of time, even
under a thatch; it being subject to the depredations of a very small
insect, called the _g’hoon_, which perforates it in a thousand places,
depositing its eggs, which are very numerous, and absolutely rendering
the rafter a mere honey-comb. During the day, these mischievous little
devils are commonly quiet, but, after night-fall, when all else is
still, may be heard in every quarter! A person unaccustomed to the
sounds, would suppose that a very heavy shower of hail were falling on
the thatch. In the course of two or three seasons, sometimes in much
less, the rafters will be found to give way; on examination, they appear
as though pierced with large awls; and, when struck forcibly with a
hammer, yield a cloud of yellowish powder, resulting no doubt from the
labors of the multitude of inhabitants. The _g’hoon_, which rarely
exceeds the sixth of an inch in length, is of a chocolate color, very
hard about the head, has firm exterior coats over its wings, and
terminates abruptly behind, giving the exact appearance of its rump
having been burnt off. Those timbers which are used immediately after
being felled, as usually happens, are certainly the first to be attacked
by the _g’hoon_; but, so far as my own observations went, and according
to the experience of two years, in a quarter where we used scarcely any
other kind of wood for rafters, even a year’s seasoning did not afford
security against, though it obviously retarded, their attacks. Possibly,
if all of this description of _saul_ trees intended for rafters, were to
be immersed in some of the very numerous puddles every where abounding
in their vicinity, and of which a great majority are strongly
impregnated with minerals, particularly iron, copper, and sulphur, the
_g’hoons_ might be altogether repelled: the immersion should continue
for a year or two; the trees being previously allowed to season
standing, by cutting away a circle of bark, about six inches wide, near
the ground, that the flow of sap might be discontinued. We find no mode
to answer so well as this for our climate; in India, the advantages
would be still more extensive, in consequence of the regularity, and
particular effects of the three great seasons, into which the year is
there naturally divided. It is curious, but true, that the _g’hoon_ acts
less upon such timbers as have been squared, than on such as have only
been deprived of their bark; and, that in the large species of _saul_,
that is, such as is used in most parts of the country for great
buildings, &c., it either is unable, or not disposed, to burrow.

Intermixed with the smaller species of _saul_, though by no means
abundant, we find another tree, bearing, in common with the oak, the
designation of _seesah_; and that, too, owing to the great specific
gravity of its wood: this, however, does not grow to any size, but
appears admirably suited to many of those purposes for which lignum
vitæ, and ebony, are now used.

In the same jungles with the foregoing, a most remarkable tree is
sometimes found, of which the interior is of a very dark color, nearly
approaching to black: hence, the natives call it the ‘_cowah_’ (or
‘crow-tree’); but, from the hardness of its wood, it certainly might,
with propriety, be termed the ‘_iron-tree_.’ The carpenters seem to view
it much in the same light with the black-oak of _Peelabeet_; and,
doubtless, tremble for their tools, whenever the _cowah_ is to become
subject to their labors.

Although such _bungalows_ as are built with a view to duration, are
sometimes built of the best materials, and have every part of their
roofs sustained by rafters of the best _saul_, by far the majority of
such buildings, and nearly all at the military stations, are constructed
on a much cheaper scale, having only _mango-wood_ rafters, door-plates,
&c. The great abundance of _mango_ trees, added to their being easily
worked, and their growing in general with stems sufficiently straight to
furnish beams, of perhaps two feet square, and from fifteen to thirty
feet long, give them a decided preference over every other kind of wood
brought from any distance. Formerly, a gentleman could send out his
servant, with wood-cutters, sawyers, &c., to fell whatever trees might
be found suitable to his intentions, without any questions being asked;
but of late, and especially since the introduction of the _Mocurrery_
settlement, (which will be hereafter explained,) the _zemindars_, (or
land-holders,) and the _raiuts_, (or peasants,) have set a value upon
every twig that grows, and invariably demand from one to four rupees,
for such _mango_ trees as may be felled for the use of any European;
especially in the military. As to a Company’s civil servant, either the
hope of his favor, or the fear of his resentment, generally is found to
seal the mouth of the pretended proprietor of the soil; who even is
assiduous in furnishing workmen and conveyance on most occasions of this
description. I must caution my readers against entertaining any
sentiment unfavorable to the gentlemen alluded to: the adulation in
question results entirely from that servile, abject, and crafty
disposition, for which the _zemindars_ are notorious where their
interests are any way implicated. They judge of our collectors,
magistrates, &c., as they would of their own; at least, so far as to
suppose that courtesy will secure their good-will; but, they are, at the
same time, thoroughly sensible, that in all public, as well as in all
private, intercourse, the Company’s servants act with the most
conscientious propriety, and with the most undeviating attention to
justice. It matters not that this character may be repugnant to some
proofs existing of former rapacity, and extortion; which may now be
deemed obsolete, or, at the utmost, only existing to such extent as must
be expected under every form of government, and among every race of
people, in spite of the utmost vigilance.

The wood of the _mango_ is much like that of the _plane-tree_, but
rather more tough, and its fibres rather coarser: nevertheless, it is in
very general use for rafters, door and wall-plates, frames for windows
and doors, especially of out-offices, pannelled and plain doors,
floorings of factories, and drying-rooms; likewise for wine chests,
indigo boxes, roofs of _budjrows_, and a thousand other purposes, both
of individual convenience, and of mercantile service. It is, however,
particularly subject to the _white-ant_; and, unless carefully preserved
from damp, will speedily decay: its being very light, and easy to work,
are points much in its favor. Though we consider a _mango-plank_ to be
at least at par, when it measures twenty inches, or two feet, in width,
yet great numbers may be had, by research, of double that breadth. My
carpenters once felled a tree, which proved too large for any saw I
could obtain in that quarter.

Sometimes we see very old tables made of _mango-wood_, which exhibit
some beautiful veins, and acquire a substantial polish; but, such can
only attend a very careful choice of planks, which must likewise be
seasoned, and be worked to great advantage: otherwise, a _mango-wood_
table will appear singularly coarse and mean.

As to the tree itself, much may be said in its favor, though, owing to
the stiffness of the leaves, it cannot be termed graceful: its deep
green, contrasted with the white spindling blossoms, (much resembling
those of the horse-chesnut,) and its abundant foliage, give it a
richness, and render it peculiarly gratifying to the eye; especially as
it is in its greatest beauty during the early part of the hot season,
when the grass begins to parch, and the surface of the soil changes from
that agreeable verdure produced by the rains, and, in some degree,
cherished by the succeeding cold months, to a very sombre russet! The
fruit does not run much risque after the blossoms have once fairly set;
though, sometimes, severe blights occur, which render the whole
abortive; when about the size of a very large gooseberry, the young
_mangoes_ make excellent pies; not unlike those containing apples, but
with a certain terebinthinic flavor, which does not always please in the
first instance, but soon becomes palatable. When about half grown, that
is, beyond the size of a large walnut, they are in good order for
pickling. This fruit is also preserved in common _mosaul-oil_; in this
instance, they are allowed to remain about a month in the vinegar
pickle, before they are immersed in the oil. Many persons are very
partial to the pickle thus made; but, in my humble opinion, nothing can
be more rank; especially when the rinds are not pared off. _Mangoes_
likewise make a very rich preserve, provided they are prepared before
the stones are suffered to harden; else they will be very fibrous, and
cut with peculiar harshness. With respect to the ripe fruit, it is
impossible to describe the flavor; since, even on the same tree, various
kinds will often be found. A stranger would conclude, on seeing
_mangoes_ of different colors, different scents, and different shapes,
ripening on the same tree, that they had been grafted; but such is not
the fact: there seems to be some very peculiar property, that causes it
to shoot out with such different bearings, which remain on distinct
boughs; as though the tree were composed of various twigs, all
proceeding from the same stem. What can be said of a fruit varying in
flavor, from the finest apricot, down to a very bad carrot? Such,
however, is known to be common: it is true, that, for the most part, the
whole crop of a tree will be pretty similar, both in shape, and flavor;
but such is not always the case. As for the produce of trees resulting
from the kernels of the same kind of _mango_, that is quite a lottery;
for, like potatoes raised from seed, there will generally be found a
great variety.

The Chinese have produced considerable amelioration in _mangoes_, by a
very simple process. They select some healthy branches on a good tree,
and, having pricked the bark through with a sharp awl, surround the part
with a lump of wet clay, or loam; which they secure by means of a piece
of canvas, bound lightly with hempen bands. Above each part thus
treated, a large pot of water is suspended, having in its bottom a small
hole; which, being partially stopped with a piece of rag, allows the
water to drip, whereby the clay is kept constantly moist. In about three
months, small fibres shoot out through the punctured bark; which, on the
branch being cut off, and the canvas being removed, strike into the
soil, and become roots. It is highly curious, that the fruit produced by
branches thus treated, becomes more fleshy, while the stone diminishes
considerably; it being more flat, and rarely so firm as that of the
common _mango_. By persevering in the operation, that is, by repeating
it on the branches of a tree thus cultivated, for some generations, the
kernel becomes so reduced as scarcely to be noticeable, while the skin
also loses much of that highly acrid quality, arising from the abundance
of turpentine it contains.

_Mangoes_ are peculiarly stimulant, rarely failing to cause those who
eat of them freely to break out with boils of considerable size, and
often very tedious in their cure. It is absolutely necessary to treat
these as critical abscesses; for, were any repellent to be applied,
serious consequences would inevitably follow. Persons lately arrived in
the country, often devour this luscious fruit, until checked either by a
dozen or two of these most distressing companions, or, perhaps, in
consequence of that kind of bowel-complaint prevalent in all hot
climates, and which, though generally not very difficult to remedy when
properly treated in its first stage, soon turns to dysentery, carrying
off a large portion of those whose constitutions are not remarkably
sound. When eaten in moderation, _mangoes_ are gently aperient; but if,
notwithstanding its acrid taste and effects, the rind should be
incautiously swallowed, the stomach will be considerably disordered. The
_gland_, or kernel, which in shape is something like a very large, flat,
Windsor-bean, is unpleasant to the palate, its flavor being very similar
to that of the acorn. Swine, especially of the wild tribes, which often
take shelter, during the season, in _topes_, or forests, of wild
_mangoes_, eat the entire fruit, as it falls from the trees, with great
avidity, and thrive amazingly.

The generality of _mango-topes_ owe their origin to religious
institutions, or to bequests, or to charitable donations. To plant one,
it is necessary that the land should be purchased in fee-simple; when,
the trees being set out, perhaps thirty feet, or more, asunder, in rows,
so as to form regular square intervals, the whole are fenced by means of
a deep ditch; from which the excavated soil is thrown inwards, and
either planted with _baubool_, (_mimosa_,) or sown with that tall kind
of grass which bears a very large tassel, and is known by the name of
_surput_: of this grass notice has already been taken in describing the
_seerky_ used in thatching _bungalows_. Some _topes_ are endowed with
small sums for the purpose of maintaining a priest, for whom a
_comfortable_ residence, and a substantial _durgaw_, (or temple,) are
erected. The sale of the fruit, (which generally proves a full crop in
four or five years, the trees being then as large as a well-grown
walnut-tree,) furnishes the means of sinking a well, cased with masonry.
But it is more common for the person who causes the _tope_ to be
planted, to sink the well also; and to celebrate the marriage of the
former with the latter, in a manner suitable to his rank or property. On
such occasions, the well, being supposed to possess the fecundatory
powers, is considered the husband; the _tope_ being typified as
feminine, by the fruit it produces. However much we may be disposed to
smile at a custom generally attended with much ceremony, and expence, we
cannot but admire its effects; which, in a tropical climate, are highly
beneficial, both to the weary traveller, and to the thirsty soil. Hence,
the sight of a _mango-tope_ is generally attended with the most pleasing

Although _mango-topes_ abound in every part of the lower provinces,
their wood, except in _bungalows_, is rarely employed in European
architecture; nor do the natives make much use of it as a timber: large
quantities are every year cut up for planks, intended chiefly for very
ordinary purposes, where great strength and durability are not
essentials. The immense quantities of fine bamboos, which ordinarily
grow very straight to the height of sixty feet, or more, though rarely
measuring more than five inches diameter near the root, and gradually
tapering off as they ascend, supply the contented native with rafters,
joists, posts, pillars, laths, and a great variety of et ceteras, all
tending either to his shelter, or to his convenience. The ordinary price
of these invaluable reeds (for they are of the _arundo_ tribe) may be
from three-pence to five-pence each; that is, generally from seven to
twelve for a rupee, according to size and demand. Millions of them are
annually brought to Calcutta, both by water, and on _hackeries_; in the
former instance, they, being remarkably buoyant, are floated in clumps,
or, perhaps, are made into rafts, on which _boossah_, (or chaff,) and
even corn, are laden; or they are tied to the sides of very large boats,
which also carry from five hundred, to as many thousands, as a cargo.
The buoyancy of the bamboo is occasioned as much by its various cells,
as by the lightness of its wood. These cells, in a common sized bamboo,
may be about three quarters of an inch in diameter in those joints that
are near the roots; where the wood is far more solid and compact than in
the upper parts, towards which the cells become gradually wider, and the
joints longer; thus reducing the substance of the bamboo very
considerably, as we find to be the case with reeds in general. This
variety in the several parts affords considerable convenience, their
allotment being made according as the work may require more or less
substance; and, as the whole bamboo may be split, like whale-bone, from
top to bottom, without much exertion, scope is afforded for applying it,
with great promptness, to an infinite variety of purposes.

In their whole state, bamboos are used, not only for rafters in the
construction of _bungalows_, but as yards for the sails of the common
country craft; sometimes those of extraordinary size are selected for
top-gallant studding-sail booms, in vessels not exceeding four or five
hundred tons: their immense strength qualifying them admirably for that
situation. The smaller open boats, throughout the East, are generally
fitted with bamboo masts, selected from the lower part of the reed, the
upper being more suited, by its lightness, to be employed as yards:
thus, for three-pence, a boat of about four or five tons may be
furnished, from the same bamboo, with both mast and yard. In vessels of
greater burthen, two or more, even up to a dozen, of bamboos, are lashed
together around a stout piece of wood, which, passing through the
thatch, fits into a step on the vessel’s bottom, and is well secured by
chocks and lashings in various places. This stick, which serves as the
base of the mast, may be about fifteen feet long, and nine or ten inches
diameter: it is commonly left in a very rough state, that the bamboos
which are to surround it may be more firmly held in their places. In
this manner the mast is run up, probably to the height of forty or fifty
feet, according to the vessel’s burthen, and at every two or three feet
is bound by cords made of white hemp. The position of this
awkward-looking pile is maintained by stays innumerable; many of which,
being allowed to point forward, before the line of the mast’s
perpendicular, obstruct the bracing of the yard very considerably. The
strength of that yard must be proportioned to the sail; sometimes one
well-selected bamboo may suffice, but in vessels of great bulk, say from
sixty to ninety tons, two, or even three, stout bamboos are found

The sail is usually made of a very coarse kind of canvas, constructed of
a very indifferent kind of hemp, generally used for rice bags, &c., and
known by the name of _gunny_: each piece may measure six or seven feet
by thirty inches; consequently, the innumerable joinings made in a large
sail, offer a very ready means for the wind’s escape. _Blacky_ is not
very particular in this respect; with him, a sail is a sail, so long as
a bit remains adequate to giving the vessel way through still waters.

It will naturally be asked, ‘Why is such miserable tackling in use?’ The
reasons are, _firstly_, because the native owner of a vessel will not go
to one farthing expence beyond what may be indispensably necessary,
however clumsy, or subject to mishap, to set his vessel afloat, and to
have her, as he thinks, ready for departure. _Secondly_, the materials
are probably of his own growth, or he deals in them, or, which is often
the sole motive, he finds them, in the first instance, by far cheaper
than more substantial materials; and, _thirdly_, even if other materials
of a better quality, and in every instance more appropriate, were to be
had for the same money, he would not very readily deviate from the
customs of his ancestors. Were a vessel fitted up on European principles
to be wrecked, the whole family would impute the accident to the sin
engendered by such adoption of the customs of a race held in abomination
by even the lowest _casts_, (or sects,) throughout the country.
Nevertheless, we sometimes see the _manjy_ and _dandies_ grievously put
out of their way, by some shrewd native, who resolutely breaks through
the general prejudice, and imitates that which his faculties convince
him is founded upon science. Not that he will understand the how, and
the wherefore: no; he sees the practice is good, and he adopts it:
whereas, if any regulation were to be framed to enforce his compliance
with our system, in that, or in any other particular, we should
assuredly witness his receding, if possible, from every idea of
improvement; or, if under the necessity of conforming, that his whole
deportment would betray the reluctance, and antipathy, he felt on the

May not this trait in the character of Asiatics in general, serve as a
hint to those who talk of coercing them to the adoption of Christianity?
May it not shew that much may be done by _suaviter in modo_, provided we
temper the _fortiter in re_?—Certainly!

Exclusive of the bamboo, the natives have an ample resource for rafters,
as well as for posts and pillars, in the cocoa-nut tree, which grows, it
may be said wild, throughout those parts within reach either of the
sea-water, or of the sea-air. Not that it is absolutely confined to such
situations; but, in proportion as those are removed, so does the natural
growth of this tree gradually diminish; giving way to the _taul_, (or
fan-leafed palm,) which, though less umbrageous, and, in many instances,
less useful, attains a great height, and furnishes a much larger
quantity of wood. In general, few _Bengallees_ will cut down a
_nereaul_, (or cocoa-nut tree,) which supplies them with so many
requisites. Thus, the outer coating, which often weighs from one to two
pounds, when stripped off longitudinally, furnishes those fibres called
_coir_, whereof both small rigging and cables are made. This kind of
rope is particularly elastic, and buoyant; floating on the surface of
the sea, to any extent; therefore, when, owing to the strength of the
current, a boat misses a ship, it is usual to veer out a quantity of
_coir_; having previously fastened an oar, or a small cask, &c. to its
end: by this device, the boat may be easily enabled to haul up to the
ship’s stern.

I should think, that, were a _coir_ hawser kept on board every ship in
the British marine, a great number of lives would be saved. It is,
however, peculiar, that fresh water rots _coir_ in a very short time;
corroding it in a most unaccountable manner; whereas salt water
absolutely invigorates; seeming to afford additional elasticity. This
shews that _coir_ is by no means fit to be used in running rigging, nor
as shroud-hawsers, &c., especially for vessels subject to approach low
latitudes; it being easily snapped in frosty weather.

Nothing can equal the ease with which a ship rides at anchor when her
cables are of _coir_: as the surges approach the bows, the vessel
gradually recedes, in consequence of the cable yielding to their force;
but, so soon as they have passed, it contracts again, drawing the vessel
gently back to her first position. The lightness of the material
doubtless adds to this pleasing effect; for the cable would float, were
not the anchor sufficiently heavy to keep it perfectly down. It is to be
remarked, that a hempen-cable always makes a curve _downwards_, between
the vessel and the anchor, but a _coir_ cable makes a curve _upwards_:
therefore, if a right line were drawn from the hawse-hole, to the ring
of the anchor, it would be something like the axis of a parabolic
spindle; of which the cables would form the two elliptic segments, or
nearly so.

A very considerable trade is carried on, from all parts of India, with
the Maldivies, and Sechelles, (very numerous clusters of islands near
the west coast of the peninsula,) for _coir_ and _cowries_; the latter
being used for inferior currency, while the former is greatly
appreciated, on account of the fibres being much larger, and firmer,
than those grown upon the continent. Not only the islands above named,
but all within the Indian seas, abound with the cocoa-nut tree; which,
in many of them, stand absolutely in the water. These owe their origin
to the growth of such nuts as, having been blown down, or dropped, when
ripe, are buried in the sands; above which their acrospires soon appear,
when the tree shoots up with greater vigor than its inland competitors.
It is said, that, about a hundred and fifty years back, the _Sechelles_
and _Maldivies_ were known only as concealed sands, highly dangerous to
the navigator; and that, after they had, by the action of the sea,
accumulated so as to become superficial, a vessel laden with cocoa-nuts
was wrecked upon one of these banks, which speedily threw up whole
forests of that tree, in consequence of the seed thus furnished: others
attribute the first supply to the adventitious floating of nuts from the
Malabar coast. Nothing appears to discredit either of the accounts; but
the former appears by far the most probable. Be it one way or the other,
we now find that the islands in question not only produce immense
forests of cocoas, but, that they are inhabited by a people, governed
much in the same way as the other Arabian islands, (for such we may call
these, as well as Johanna, Comora, Succotra, &c.;) and whose commercial
relations may be said to consist of _coir_ and _cowries_, bartered with
their neighbours of the peninsula, and the Arabs of Museat, &c., for
cotton-cloths, rice, sugar, &c. To whatever chance it may have been
owing, the navigator now feels less anxiety when near these isles; for,
notwithstanding they are so little elevated as to remain nearly in their
former state of immersion, yet their cocoa forests, which generally
tower to the height of thirty or forty feet, being visible at the
distance of many miles, enable him to ascertain his locality with
correctness, and to avoid the numerous shoals, by a due attention to the
bearings and soundings. The natives are said to be extremely well
acquainted with their archipelago, and to pilot vessels of great burthen
with perfect security and precision.

The next consideration with the native, respecting the cocoa-nut, is its
water, by us called cocoa-nut milk. This pleasant beverage is contained
within the shell, and, in general, may amount to three quarters of a
pint. It is purest when the nut is so young and tender as to allow the
husk and shell to be cut with about as much facility as a stringy
turnip; at which time, very little coagulum adheres to the interior of
the shell, and that little is soft, like milk barely turned by rennet.
Gradually, the water becomes rather turbid, and acquires a stronger
taste; while the coagulum encreases to about the third, or even the
half, of an inch in thickness; hardening, and becoming tough, but easily
snapped into pieces. When arrived at this state, it abounds in oil,
which, at first is remarkably sweet, though of a peculiar flavor, and is
much used by the native Portugueze, in lieu of _ghee_, in their culinary

The mode of extracting the oil is very simple: a piece of wood, say two
feet in length, six inches broad, and two or three thick, bears at one
of its extremities a stem of iron, driven in by means of a spike: this
stem must be stout, and should measure about ten inches; but, towards
its summit, spreading into the form of an inverted crescent, somewhat
concave, and deeply jagged at its circumference. Sitting, as usual, on
the ground, the operator keeps the baton from tilting, by placing one of
his feet firmly upon it: in that position he takes the nuts, commonly
broken into two or more pieces, by a forcible stroke of some heavy
implement, or by dashing them on the floor, and, by rasping the interior
of each piece against the jagged edges of the iron, causes the coagulum
to fall, in form of a coarse powder, into a vessel placed below to
receive it. To effect this with more facility, the stem slants obliquely
from the baton; allowing room for the receiver to be put immediately
under the crescent. The raspings are now put into hot water, in which
they are well stirred and pressed with a large wooden spoon; by this
means the oil is separated; it is drawn off by opening a little hole
near its surface, as it floats upon the water. It is inconceivable how
much oil is thus obtained in a few minutes; but, both from its own
nature, and the mode of extraction, it soon becomes offensively rancid;
a state in which it is by no means objectionable to the swarthy
_Signors_, who, as well as the Hindus in general, are partial to it as
an unguent for the hair. To a fresh European, the scent of this powerful
finish to the charms of an Indian Venus is highly objectionable: of all
the stinks of which India can boast, it certainly is the worst. But, as
before observed, if used immediately after extraction, nothing can be
sweeter: it also burns remarkably well; therefore is in general use for
lamps among all the European inhabitants. The residuum, after separating
the oil, fattens poultry better than grain: the pork of swine fed upon
cocoa-nuts is delicious; as must be confessed by all who have visited
the Andamans and Nicobars. Considering the coagulum as a food for
mankind, I should by no means feel disposed to recommend it; though it
is certain that the natives eat of it freely: experience satisfies me,
that it is extremely difficult of digestion; and that, when ate as a
meal, much inconvenience, if not indisposition, will generally follow.
Nor can I recommend the water of the young nut to persons whose bowels
are not of the strongest; it being aperient, and, when used beyond a
certain quantity, extremely apt to induce dysentery: the amount of a
nut-ful may, perhaps, be drank with perfect safety. During very hot
weather, if the nuts are fresh gathered, or suffered to remain for a
while in cold water, it is not very easy to withstand the temptation.

The shell of the cocoa-nut is always most valuable when suffered to
ripen upon the tree; it then acquires great hardness, and a fine dark
chocolate color, interveined by fine lines of a rich dun, or clay, or
perhaps striated with those tints: they then take a good polish, and
may, when tastefully mounted, be considered as ornamental to the
sideboard. But, it is to be observed, that they are rather a brittle
ware, compared with their solid appearance; and, that it requires a
great length of time to divest them wholly of a certain strong scent,
reminding those who have been accustomed to the oil, of that peculiar
and powerful rancidity it invariably acquires by long keeping, and
especially by exposure to the air.

Previous to the introduction of lamps in the halls, passages, &c., in
the houses of Europeans, cocoa-nut oil was to be had for about
three-pence, or four-pence, per _seer_ (_i.e._ the measurement of a
_seer_, which comes very nearly to the English quart; in some places
exceeding it, but in others falling short). Since that practice has
obtained, in consequence of candles having been doubled in price, the
oil has likewise been enhanced; so that it now sells at about three and
a half, or four _seers_ per rupee; which accords with seven-pence
halfpenny of our currency per quart. No kind of animal oil is in use
among the natives of India, either as food, or in manufactories; if,
indeed, we except that most curious production, the _meemii-ke-tale_, or
oil extracted from the bodies of malefactors; who, being well fed for a
month, or more, previous to execution, for the purpose of encreasing
their fat, have large fires lighted under them while on the gibbet, and
metal vessels placed to receive the drippings. That this practice has
heretofore obtained, under the government of the native princes, does
not, I believe, admit of a doubt; but, that it is now obsolete, is
equally certain. Still _meemii-ke-tale_ (_i.e._ human oil) may be had at
many places; though not genuine, but composed of whatever materials may
form a mass resembling that originally in use. I have seen several of
these masses, which were of a dark, opaque brown, appearing something
like coagulated blood mixed with dirty jelly, and become hard by
exposure to the sun, or by inspissation: its smell was intolerably
offensive. On the whole, this celebrated extract, which is supposed to
cure all contractions, and stiffness of the joints, is a subject of
astonishment, when we consider it to be in use among a people so very
peculiar in their tenets, and professing so much humanity, not only
towards their brethren, but towards all animated nature. Had Shakespeare
been acquainted with the existence of the _meemii_, he certainly would
have given it a place in Hecate’s stir-about!

If the natives were intent upon obtaining animal oils, the greatest
abundance could be commanded; porpoises, turtles, alligators,
dog-fishes, and sharks, all of which contain large quantities, exist in
every part where the water is brackish; some of them, indeed, become
even more numerous as their distance from the sea encreases. Whales,
likewise, are occasionally seen in the Indian Sea, and in the Mozambique
Channel are extremely common. But, to persons habituated from their
infancy to the use of high-savored viands, any sweet oil would be
insipid: such people want a _haut-goût_ in their sauces; yet it must be
confessed, they certainly manage to render even their strongest
preparations extremely palatable; but, to relish them properly, the
culinary operations must not always be witnessed. _Babachees_, or cooks,
in the employ of Europeans, are sometimes extremely filthy; far more so
than when dressing their own victuals. Few of the natives are sparing in
the use of water on such occasions, even though it should be brought
from some distance; yet, it is equally true, that whole villages are
sometimes content to use water from a pool, comparable only with that
into which Ariel ushered the surly Caliban.

The trunk of the cocoa-nut tree not only answers, when the central pith
is scooped out, for canoes, but, when split, as it may easily be into
slips of any width, forms excellent rafters: if applied to that purpose,
all the soft part is taken entirely away, leaving only the exterior
case, which is very hard, tough, and elastic, about three inches in
thickness. A trunk of about a foot in diameter will commonly rive into
five staves, each about seven inches wide: such should be placed
edgeways on the walls, that their scantlings may be in a proper
direction. Rafters thus made, provided they be not more than twenty
feet, or thereabouts, in length, and not too heavily laden, will stand
for generations, without shewing the smallest symptom of decay. In
saying this, I am to be understood as alluding to their being under
cover; otherwise, they will not exhibit such durability, although they
may fully claim to be on a par with most of the indigenous timbers.

The reader is to understand, that, excepting where merely temporary,
that is to say, intended for a few weeks, or months, _bungalows_ are
always built with pavilion thatches; by which construction they resist
the weather far better, while the quantity of brick-work is considerably
less than where gables are run up. The proximity of the thatches in the
_veranda_ parts, renders them far less cool, in the hot months, than the
interior, in which the thatch is so much further removed: the latter
would be rendered much cooler were flues, or ventilators, to be made for
the purpose of carrying off the rarefied air, as already suggested.
Cocoa-nuts are often sawed into two equal parts, for the purpose of
being made into ladles: to effect this, a hole is made on each side,
about half an inch from the edge, and a stick is passed through, serving
as a handle; much the same as we see in the _jets_ used by brewers for
taking liquor out of their vats. When sawed into two equal parts, across
the grain of the _coir_ coating, cocoa-nuts make excellent table
brushes, causing the planks to assume a very high polish from their
friction. As this operation requires some strength, it is proper to be
careful that the edges of the shell, if left in, (as is sometimes,
though improperly, done,) should be perfectly smooth; being once
rendered so, they will never scratch, however forcibly the brush may be
applied. A very good mode is, to strip off the _coir_, and, after
soaking it well in water, to beat it with a heavy wooden mall until the
pieces become a little pliant, when they should be firmly bound together
with an iron ring: their ends being then levelled, the implement is fit
for use. A little bees’-wax rubbed occasionally upon them, adds greatly
to the lustre of the furniture, without being clammy.

The stem of the toddy-tree is very similar to that of the cocoa, but
grows to a much greater height, and is put to the same purposes. On
first seeing a grove of toddy-palms, one would suppose that a strong
wind must inevitably tear up the whole by their roots; which consist of
innumerable small fibres, that penetrate but a very little way,
comparatively, into the soil. When one of these trees is laid prostrate
by the wind, a very small cavity is made, rarely so much as a cubic
yard. The leaves differ very widely from those of the cocoa: the former
being rather spear-shaped, about a foot, or more, in length, by perhaps
two inches at their broadest part, and attached to each side of the rib,
which may be from ten to fourteen feet in length, and hang gracefully on
every side of the trunk; covering the nuts, which grow on very short,
stiff stems, close under the place where the leaves start from it in all
directions; a tuft of similar, but smaller, branches, grow with rather a
vertical tendency.

The _toddy-palm_ has, on the contrary, about ten or a dozen large
leaves, radiated from their stems, arranged in folds very similar to a
lady’s fan half spread; but the outer edges are indented considerably:
the leaves form each about three-fourths of a circle, but not very
regularly so; some more, some less. These are made into _punkahs_, or
fans, of various sizes; or, when torn into strips of about two inches
wide, which may be about the medium breadth of each fold, serve the
natives in lieu of paper. The greater part of the accounts kept by
Bengallees are written on these leaves, by means of any sharp-pointed
instrument, which, marking through the glossy rind, or coating, on
either side of the leaf, remains, ever after, perfectly distinct and
legible. Those who wish to have the letters still more so, rub the
leaves, after filled with writings, with _kaujool_, or lamp-black; which
sinks into the porous parts laid open by the instrument, but easily
wipes off from that portion of the surface which has not been pierced.
Some hundreds of these leaves may be seen, secured together at one end
by a twine passed through each, like waste paper in a grocer’s shop;
thus forming a voluminous collection. The fruit of the _taul_ consists
of two, or sometimes three, _lobes_, or pods, somewhat similar to those
in a horse-chesnut, and, like them, concealed in a pithy, spherical
coating, but with a smooth exterior. Each _lobe_ is hollow, and contains
a small quantity of very clear liquor, partaking, in a very slight
degree, of the flavor of rose-water; the _lobes_ themselves are about
the size of a Chelsea-bun, are rather of a crisp, but gelatinous
substance, and pleasant to the palate: their exterior is covered with a
very thin, brown rind, like that of an almond; rather astringent, but by
no means acrid.

The liquor, called _toddy_, is obtained by making an incision under the
head of the tree, when, a thin wedge being introduced, the _toddy_ will
gradually exude into a vessel suspended to receive it. This liquor is
very pleasing when fresh drawn, but, in a few hours, acquires a harsh
flavor, ferments, and becomes highly intoxicating. It answers admirably
as leaven, making very light dough; but if kept, as is too commonly
done, until rather sub-acid, it communicates a most unpleasant tartness
to the bread. Groves of _toddy-trees_, in some parts of the country,
yield a very handsome revenue, and great profit to the renters. Like the
cocoa-nut tree, they have within their summits a substance very like a
cabbage in flavor: this occasions mariners sometimes to fell them, with
the view of carrying that part to sea; where it will, if left within its
rind, keep for many months. I have tasted of this vegetable, but did not
feel much gratified, though it assuredly was not disagreeable: it seemed
to require much boiling.

The stem of the _toddy-palm_ is annulated, but not very deeply: of this
the _toddy_-men take advantage, ascending to the summit, and descending
again to the plain, with wondrous agility. This is effected by a piece
of strong twine, about a yard or more in length, but doubled into a loop
of half that extent. The great toes are respectively put into the ends
of the loop, so as to keep it perfectly extended. The man first embraces
the tree, as high as he can reach, for the purpose of raising himself
from the ground; his feet being instantly carried, on opposite sides of
the trunk, as far asunder as the loop may admit. Then, sustaining
himself by means of the loop, he slides his arms upwards to take a
second spring; following, in due time, by the removal of his feet, as
much higher as he has been able to reach. In this manner, successively
stretching up his arms, and swarming with his feet, he reaches the
summit; where, while he either suspends the pot, or releases it, his
weight generally rests on the loop. The great art, both in ascending,
and descending, is to keep the loop always stretched: should it be
allowed to slacken, in all probability it would fall off. Few persons,
following this profession, require more than half a minute to mount the
highest _palmira_; by which name the _toddy-palm_ is most generally
known to Europeans. The natives designate it the _taul_ (or

I believe very few kinds of wood, except those I have mentioned, ever
come within the ordinary course of domestic architecture; though, in
some few situations, the _soondry_ and _jarrool_ are employed for the
minor purposes; but, with some reserve on the part of the natives, who
hold them to be more applicable to the construction of small craft, and
to the formation of carriages of various descriptions. The _soondry_ is
a remarkably tough, heavy, and elastic wood; while the _jarrool_, though
rather harder, more resembles the beech, than any other of our
indigenous timber trees: as a material in boat-building, it ranks next
to the _teak_, hence, many of the _donies_, (or coasting vessels,)
measuring from fifty, to a hundred and fifty, tons, are principally
built therewith. When _teak_ is scarce, we occasionally see the
ship-wrights apply _jarrool_ in their repairs of the upper works of
large vessels.

Having said thus much of the manner in which houses, and _bungalows_,
are constructed, I have only to observe, that, of late years, the
European architects have been rather prone to sacrifice comfort to
appearance. Those old houses built at a time when _punkahs_, _tatties_,
glass-sashes, &c., were not in use, certainly evince that attention was
paid to coolness, but without disregarding convenience. Now, although
building is full fifty per cent. cheaper than it was thirty years ago,
we see the walls much less substantial, and, on the whole, a want of
local fitness in the arrangement of the several apartments. I must
caution the reader, that what would appear an admirable plan for a
residence in our climate, would be found totally inconsistent with the
temperatures attendant upon the changes of season in India, and with the
several practices, and operations, peremptorily necessary towards
meeting those changes. It must never be forgotten, that, at some
seasons, and at some hours in all seasons, every door and window is
usually thrown open; likewise, that, during the continuance of the hot
winds, such apartments as cannot be kept moderately cool, by _tatties_
applied to some apertures on that floor, whence the current of
refrigerated air may find admission, will be scarcely habitable, and, at
night in particular, will glow like ovens.

The hot-wind commonly rises with the sun, blowing at first very gently,
but encreasing gradually, until about one or two o’clock; after which,
it subsides into a perfect calm. This is its ordinary course, but some
days remain calm throughout, while, at other times, the wind blows a
hurricane the whole night through. I have, indeed, known it to continue,
with very little change of temperature, or variation of force, for full
ten days; during which period, the nights were, if any thing, hotter
than the days; so that extra _b’heesties_ were retained to water the
_tatties_ during the night. That was, to be sure, a very singular
season, carrying with it a prodigious mortality; great numbers dying
suddenly. It was peculiar that the fit, which resembled apoplexy,
attacked all ages alike, and paid no deference to the abstemious and
temperate, any more than to the licentious and gormandizing classes.

In describing the habitations of the lower orders of natives, I
explained, that their chief attention was paid to privacy, and to the
exclusion of the glare. The superior ranks are not less intent upon the
same objects; though many of their state apartments do not indicate,
that either the one or the other were of the smallest consideration.
Some of the _Durbars_ are uncommonly exposed; and, in consequence of the
crowd, the fastidious ceremony observed, and the constant succession of
entrances and exits, form a most uncomfortable _tout ensemble_. Yet, it
appears that the natives have made little or no variation in their
system, not only within the time we have been acquainted with them, but,
if we examine their ancient structures, not for centuries before a
British foot was placed upon their soil. We ordinarily find nearly the
same aspect given to all their buildings, especially to their places of
worship: _nimauzes_, (or open temples,) where the Mussulmans are in the
habit of offering up their prayers, invariably are made to front the
west; under the idea of their facing the shrine of Mahomed. This error
may be considered on a par with the placing of altars in our churches
always at the east end, with the view to their standing towards the
place of our Saviour’s nativity: we also inter our dead with their heads
to the west, on the same account.

Having detailed what relates to the domestic habits, and to the
architecture of the country, I shall now proceed to describe the manner
of living among Europeans in India; observing, that there are two very
distinct classes, though perfectly on a footing; namely, the residents
of Calcutta, and those among the civil and military, who are subject to
be detached from the Presidency. Formerly, only such gentlemen as held
offices of considerable emolument, or those who were married, supported
a regular table: such might be said to keep open-house; at least, far
the greater number usually laid several spare covers, especially at
supper-time, under the hope of seeing their friends drop in to partake
of whatever might be in preparation. The dinner hour being known, (for
almost every family then dined between two and three o’clock,) it was
rarely needful to make enquiries respecting the proper moment for
repairing to the hospitable board. Little or no ceremony was required;
the host being as much pleased with the compliment paid by the visit of
a young friend, as the latter was to find a welcome among the most
opulent and respectable portion of the European community.

Nor did the benefit accruing to the latter, confine itself within the
limits of economical saving: it was generally found, that such as became
habitually inmates of this description, were recommended to the notice
of Government, or to such situations, (if not in the Company’s service,)
as afforded the immediate means of maintenance, or eventually led to
lucrative speculations. A variety of instances could be adduced, of
young gentlemen having, from the foregoing admission within the domestic
circle of visitants, been rescued from that most unpleasant situation,
namely, a want of respectable friends; these, as Shakespeare properly
remarks, ‘had greatness thrust upon them.’ Such _was_ the state of
society when I first arrived in India, [1778] and such _was_ the fair
expectation, with which not only young gentlemen, but many ‘far advanced
upon time’s list,’ landed on the shores of the Ganges. In fact, it
required that some very substantial objection should personally exist,
to deprive any individual of an implied right to the most friendly
reception. Still, however, it must be acknowledged, that a certain
distinction, rather too fastidious, was prevalent in favor of those who
came with appointments to the Company’s service; especially in the civil
line. To a certain extent, such might have been considered reasonable,
when we reflect that future association in the same duties was to be
expected; but, the matter was doubtless carried too far; it being
distinguished by that kind of deference which stamps a superior value
upon its object, the whole amount of which is deducted from the supposed
inferior; thus, causing the former to preponderate in society in a
multiplied ratio, in the same manner as taking from one scale to put
into the other, occasions the difference to encrease in the proportion
of three to one.

The gradual encrease of commercial transactions, and of intercourse,
with several parts of that extensive territory, which ultimately has
come under the influence, if not the control, of the British government,
served as invitations to many adventurers, who quitted Europe under
assurances of employ in the East. Their expectations were generally
confirmed by permanent establishments in various parts of the country;
whereby a complete change took place, as to the estimation in which
free-merchants, as they are generally termed, were held.

Among this class, there have, within a few years, appeared numbers,
whose industry, and extensive concerns, rendered them conspicuous; and
it would not, perhaps, be too bold to predict, that, in the course of a
few years, the success of their efforts may prove a stimulus to such an
encrease of private traders, as cannot fail to give birth to events of
great national importance.

It would not be in place to notice such probable results in this work,
but it may be permitted, without trespassing the bounds I have marked
out to myself, to anticipate, that the commercial society of India will,
in time, grow out of the knowledge of such as surveyed its state some
thirty years ago. We have, at the same time, to lament, that, owing to
such an augmentation of all ranks, it has been found necessary to drop
many customs suited only to a limitted society, and to adopt a certain
reserve, which may not be exactly conformable to those very sanguine
ideas entertained by persons who may have read of the ancient regime of
Oriental hospitality; the declination of which has unavoidably kept pace
with the additional imports consequent to extended commerce. There will,
however, even at this day, be found much to approve; and the mind endued
with sensibility will have to acknowledge many a civility, very nearly
akin to kindness, and sufficiently poignant to give an ample scope for
many a grateful acknowledgment.

Morning visits are not, generally speaking, so uncommon as they were:
formerly, few went to pay visits of ceremony during the forenoon; for,
the dinner-hour being early, there was little time for such unsocial
compliments; whereas, now, that it is generally delayed until about
sun-set, that is to say, to perhaps five, or six, or even to seven
o’clock, the forenoon is more applicable to the reception of visitors;
who, if on any terms of intimacy, do not hesitate to join the family at
a little _avant-diner_ commonly called a _tiffing_, and known among us
by the name of _lunch_. This kind of refreshment (for it is not
considered a repast) usually takes place between one and two o’clock,
and consists of grilled fowls, mutton chops, cold meats, and sometimes
of _curry_ and rice. Being conducted without ceremony, and in a very
desultory style, the dropping in of friends never occasions the
slightest discontinuance, any more than the accidental arrival among an
English party here, of an intimate, while partaking of a slice of cake
and a glass of wine. The various formalities are, however, now
transferred from P. M. to A. M. and it is usual to see the town of
Calcutta thronged with _palanquins_ during the whole of what is called
the forenoon; but which commonly is made to extend to three o’clock;
about which time, especially during nine months in the year, most
persons are at home, divested of their usual dresses, and reclining, in
some cool apartment, on a bed, or a couch, for the purpose of repose,
and to prepare for that change of linen, and for those ablutions, not
forgetting the bath, which are both comfortable, and essential, in so
very sultry a climate.

Gentlemen who purpose visiting the ladies, commonly repair to their
houses between eight and nine o’clock in the evening; ordinarily under
the expectation of being invited to stay and sup: an invitation that is
rarely declined.

Among ladies who are intimately acquainted, morning visits are common,
but all who wish to preserve etiquette, or merely return the compliment
by way of keeping up a distant acquaintance, confine them to the
evening; when, attended by one or more gentlemen, they proceed, in their
_palanquins_, on a tour devoted entirely to this cold exchange of what
is called civility.

Among the several justly-exploded ceremonies, we may reckon that, which
existed until within the last twenty years, of ‘SITTING UP,’ as it was
called: we must, at the same time, do the ci-devant inhabitants of
Calcutta the justice to remark, that the practice was evidently founded
on good-will and hospitality; although it bore so strong a resemblance
to the exhibition of a cargo of slaves, as to occasion many a
caricature, and many a satirical expenditure of ink. This ‘SITTING UP,’
as it was termed, generally took place at the house of some lady of
rank, or fortune, who, for three successive nights, threw open her
mansion towards the evening, for the purpose of receiving all, both
ladies and gentlemen, who chose to pay their respects to such ladies as
might have recently arrived in the country. The fair damsels were thus
at once introduced to the whole settlement, and not unfrequently
obtained a variety of offers from men of the first consequence. Many
matches have, indeed, been concluded even before the third night of
exhibition. If we consider the fatigue attendant upon the return of
these numerous visits, (for the slightest omission would have been an
unpardonable offence,) and that the novelty of riding in a _boçhah_, (or
chair-_palanquin_,) would not be agreeable to all, we may form some idea
of what many a delicate female, melting with the heat, tight-laced, and
tormented with musquito-bites, must have undergone during the
performance of this ceremony. To the gentlemen of the settlement, it
might have been abundantly pleasing; they had nothing to do but to post
about in their _palanquins_ from one sitting up to another, and there
either to admire, or to quiz, the fair sufferers, according as their
taste, or caprice, might dictate. The throng has, in some _lovely_
instances, been so very great, that even a fourth night has been
required for the benefit of bachelors from the interior!

The great encrease, not only of inhabitants, but of houses, some of
which are situated at an inconvenient distance, has rendered the custom
of ‘sitting up’ nearly obsolete. The modern instances of its
continuance, are, indeed, so very few, and those few so modified, as
barely to leave room for saying that it is at all in use. In these days,
a lady is received on landing by her friends, who, generally, after a
few days of repose, and of preparation, invite their acquaintances, to
be introduced to their fair companion, who, in the course of a week,
usually returns their visits. This is merely a partial shew, compared
with what formerly took place, and is no more than would be practised in
England on a similar occasion: it is true, that, where superlative
attractions exist, many, who probably are not in the habit of visiting
the family, will often avail themselves of the opportunity to _chaperon_
some acquaintance, merely with the intention of gaining a peep at the

The company rarely sit long at table after dinner, unless among those
convivial souls who deem the presence of a petticoat a perfect nuisance.
Such were formerly very numerous, but of late, the society of the sex
has been more duly appreciated, and we see the gentlemen quitting the
bottle to retire to the _chabootah_, (or terrace,) there to enjoy the
cool air of the evening, and to take a cup of tea, or to smoke their
_hookahs_; after which, those who have business to attend, proceed to
their offices, &c., while the larger portion separate to partake of a
family supper with some of their female acquaintances. Very little
ceremony is used on such occasions; the gentlemen leaving their hats in
their _palanquins_, and ordering their servants to proceed, as a matter
of course, to the houses whither their _palanquins_ are to be conveyed.
In many instances, these evening visits are paid in a very airy manner:
coats being often dispensed with; the gentlemen wearing only an upper
and an under waistcoat, both of white linen, and the former having
sleeves. Such would appear an extraordinary freedom, were it not
established by custom; though, it generally happens, that gentlemen
newly arrived from Europe, especially the officers of his Majesty’s
regiments, wear their coats, and prefer undergoing a kind of warm bath
of the most distressing description, both to themselves, and to their
neighbours; but, in the course of time, they fall in with the local
usages, and, though they may enter the room in that cumbrous habit,
rarely fail to divest themselves of it, so soon as the first ceremonies
are over, in favor of an upper waistcoat, which a servant has in

Supper, though enumerated among the ordinary meals of a family residing
at the Presidency, seems rather to be the means of concentrating the
party, than partaken of with that keenness we often witness in our
colder climate. Few do more than take a glass or two of wine, generally
Claret, with, perhaps, a crust, and a morsel of cheese: the appetite at
this hour, say ten, being by no means keen. After supper, the _hookah_
is again produced, and, after sitting awhile in conversation, the lady
of the house retires: few remain long after that has taken place. On the
whole, it may be said, that at least four in five are in bed before
twelve; or, perhaps, before eleven o’clock. From this, I exempt all
concerned in card-parties, especially if the stakes run high: for such,
no measure, or calculation, exists; the whole night being occasionally
passed at tradrille, which is the favorite game, or at whist, &c. Such
exceptions fortunately are not very numerous; it would certainly be
difficult to find any city, wherein celibacy among the males is so
prevalent, as at Calcutta, that can boast of so few excesses of any
description. The European inhabitants of respectability certainly live
well; that is, they keep as good tables as the seasons may enable them
to furnish; and they drink none but the best of wines: Claret, Madeira,
and Port, are in general use.

Of the former, there are two kinds; one called ‘English Claret,’ which
is the best wine that France produces, manufactured after its arrival in
England, with an addition of Brandy, &c., to enable its standing the hot
climate of India, and with other liquids, to give it a richer body. Such
wine generally sells at Calcutta for about thirty rupees per dozen,
equal to six shillings and threepence per bottle.

The other kind of Claret, which is the purest that can be obtained from
the most valuable vineyards near Bourdeaux, the Coté-Roti, Chateau
Margeau, &c., can rarely be obtained, except in times of peace, when
sixteen rupees per dozen, equal to about three shillings and four-pence
per bottle, may be considered a fair price. This wine, however well
packed, and carefully treated, will not keep long: at the end of six or
seven months after arrival, it will be found rather sharp, and then
becomes extremely pernicious to the bowels. When fresh, it is remarkably
fine, and delicate, and being far lighter than the ‘English Claret,’ is
certainly best adapted to the climate. Occasionally, a few chests of
Claret are imported at Serampore, a Danish settlement, about sixteen
miles above Calcutta, but experience has proved, that, in regard to
wholesomeness, as well as to flavor, it is far inferior to either of the
former: the severe bowel-complaints its free use often occasions, are
attributed to the litharge with which it is said to be fined; hence,
what is called ‘Danish Claret’ is rarely found at any gentleman’s table.

About thirty years back, a large quantity of Madeira used to be imported
at Calcutta, by the Company, in pipes of extra-measurement, for the use
of their servants. Sometimes nearly a thousand pipes arrived during the
course of the season; being of prime quality, and laid in by the
Company’s agents at Fonchall, it always sold well at the annual
auctions: six hundred rupees was a common average. For some time past,
the Company have, generally speaking, declined this trade, which was of
extensive convenience to the residents at Bengal, and must be supposed
to have paid them amply for their outward tonnage, while the returning
tonnage was always at liberty to receive investments for the Europe
market. The cause of this relinquishment has been attributed to various
circumstances; but, I believe, is to be found in that immense supply
which, at the close of the war in 1782, glutted the markets for some
seasons. Until that date, the Company had nearly monopolized the trade,
there being no competitors of consequence, though the speculation was
open to all; but its excellence, which seemed to offer full seventy
pounds for every pipe, that cost perhaps only twenty-five, or thirty, on
the Island of Madeira, induced the French, Portugueze, and some English
speculators, to embark on vessels under Imperial colors, and to become
rivals in a trade which could not bear extension beyond certain narrow
limits. All could not be supplied at Fonchall; therefore Teneriffe, and
other inferior wines, were substituted; whereby the depreciation even of
the best genuine Madeira was enhanced, and it fell, in consequence, full
fifty per cent. Of late years, very little of the latter has found its
way to India; the produce of the island being almost wholly required for
the Europe market; but the merchants in that quarter have found out the
way to _doctor_ the inferior wines of the neighbouring isles, so as to
sell them at a good price, under the captivating titles of ‘London
Particular,’ ‘London Choice _Particular_ Particular,’ &c. &c.

The low price to which Madeira fell, (for, in 1781-2 it had been so high
as two thousand rupees per pipe,) made a great change in the affairs of
some adventurers, who had anticipated the golden harvest with which they
were to return to Europe. The general effects were highly beneficial, as
the greater portion of persons settled in Calcutta, &c., were enabled to
purchase large quantities; which, being kept in _godowns_, (warehouses
and cellars,) gradually improved in that hot climate, and, after a few
years, became highly valuable. Many gentlemen availed themselves of the
low state of the markets to supply themselves abundantly; some purchased
from forty to sixty pipes, and thus secured to themselves a supply of
capital wine, for many years consumption, at a certain price.

It is no uncommon thing to see Madeira, which has been in a gentleman’s
_godown_ ten years in the wood: many have much older wine in their
possession; a few can, indeed, boast of some, which, though
inconceivably mild, and rich in flavor, is extremely potent. None will
attempt to produce, at their tables, Madeira that has not been two or
three years in the country; for the new wine is neither pleasant nor
wholesome, and may be readily distinguished from the old,
notwithstanding some venders are well skilled in the art of adding, in
the course of a few _hours_, many _years_ of age to the liquor. Among
the military, it is found best to purchase wine that is known to be of
good quality, and of a certain age; which is easily done, through the
several agency-houses; all of which have generally large quantities, of
every description, either on commission, or at command. This mode is far
preferable to the otherwise general practice of buying several pipes,
with a view to filling up the ullage, (say of four, from a fifth,) as
the contents decrease. By such management, any person settled at
Calcutta, or elsewhere, may, in the course of five or six years, become
possessed of a stock of excellent Madeira; observing, however, that, in
that time, every fifth pipe will have been drawn off, to fill up its
neighbours: therefore, in computing the value of such remaining pipes,
that of the pipe thus expended must be included.

Nothing can injure a cargo of Madeira more than the presence of a cask
of coal-tar: it communicates to the wine a most nauseous flavor, and
scent; rendering it totally unfit for use. I recollect, about seventeen
years ago, dining with a General Officer, who had inadvertently allowed
his Madeira pipes to be smeared with coal-tar, for the purpose of
preserving them. Whether it had that effect on the wood I never took the
trouble to enquire, but it certainly _preserved the wine_; which, I
doubt not, may be in existence to this day; for it was really too
potent, even for parasitical stomachs!

The price of good Madeira wine that has been three or four years in the
country, may be generally stated at about four hundred rupees, equal to
£50. The pipes are not so large as formerly, but will commonly run about
forty dozens; which brings the price per dozen nearly to twenty-five
shillings, or little more than two shillings per bottle. Wine of the
first quality may be about fifty, or even sixty, per cent. dearer.

The Port-wine used in India is generally of a light kind, not unlike
what we term ‘Southampton Port:’ about ten years ago, when Claret began
to be scarce, a large quantity was sent out, and was bought up with
readiness; but, on account of its astringent, and, consequently,
heating, quality, it fell into disrepute. It is, nevertheless, highly
esteemed as a restorative, especially in a convalescent state after
obstinate bowel-complaints, and in cases of debility not proceeding from

Such exceptions are, indeed, rare; for, I believe, very few of the local
diseases are exempted from such connections with obstruction: in fact,
almost every ague, which is a very common complaint in many parts of the
country, and is generally designated the ‘Hill,’ or ‘the Jungle-fever,’
according to the situation in which it is engendered, either originates
from, or resolves into, confirmed hepatitis.

Porter, pale-ale, and table-beer of great strength, are often drank
after meals: all these are found in the utmost perfection, for
indifferent malt-liquors do not stand the voyage; and, even should they
arrive in a sound state, would meet no sale. A temporary beverage,
suited to the very hot weather, and called ‘country-beer,’ is in rather
general use, though water, artificially cooled, is commonly drank during
the repasts: in truth, nothing can be more gratifying at such a time,
but especially after eating _curry_. Country-beer is made of about
one-fifth part porter, or beer, with a wine glass full of _toddy_, (or
_palm-wine_, which is the general substitute for yeast,) a small
quantity of brown sugar, and a little grated ginger, or the dried peel
of Seville oranges, or of limes; which are a small kind of lemon,
abounding in citric acid, and to be had very cheap.

The great cheapness and abundance of the materials, added to the
frequent and great thirst to which Europeans are subject while resident
in India, should appear to be strong inducements toward the free use of
punch, lemonade, sangaree, negus, &c. The reverse is the case; for, I
believe, with the exception of the lowest classes, all such beverages
are totally discarded: they are deleterious; rarely failing, in the
first instance, to injure, and ultimately disgracing all who yield to
the temptation. Fortunately, that temptation is not very strong; as
liquors of a superior quality are found to be more wholesome, more
pleasant, and, in the long run, not much dearer. Besides, there is a
certain odium attaches in that quarter to all who are in the habit of
drinking spirits, whether raw or diluted. In a climate so ungenial to
European constitutions, and where, as above said, thirst is often very
distressing, the frequent recourse to ‘_brandy shrob pauny_’ (brandy and
water) never fails to produce that sottishness at all times despicable,
but peculiarly unsuited to Oriental society, in which at least the
better half are men of very liberal education, and all are gentlemen.

In saying thus much, I barely do justice to the persons of whom mention
is made; for it may be said, without fear of refutation, that fewer
deviations from propriety are to be found in our Indian settlements,
than in one-tenth the number of inhabitants of the same classes in any
other country, whose manners and properties, either personal
observation, or respectable authors, have enabled me to estimate.

This results, not simply from the advantage almost every individual in
the Company’s service, and in the mercantile branches, possesses, of
having been brought up in the most respectable seminaries, &c., and of
being early initiated in the walks of decorum and integrity among their
respective friends in Europe; it proceeds partially from the nature of
the climate, and from that mode of association which the duties
attendant upon each profession, as well as certain localities, seem,
imperiously indeed, to inculcate.

I have before shewn that taverns, punch-houses, &c., are by no means
places of resort, as in Europe: there is no such thing as a coffee-room,
merely as such; unless we so consider the few mansions of certain French
and English _traiteurs_ and _restaurateurs_, who occasionally have to
accommodate committees of shipping, or town meetings, &c., and who send
out dinners to any part of the town, or its vicinity, on terms
advantageous to both parties. Therefore, under such exceptions, which
are rare, and setting apart the _civic_ operations of the beef-steak
clubs, &c., it may properly be said, that coffee-house association is
unknown in Calcutta, at least among the respectable members of the
community. Neither does any corps in the Company’s service keep a mess:
all the officers dine either at home, or in small parties, according as
their several fancies, or occasion, may lead them. It is common to hear
one or two of a party, before they retire from table, which is always
done without the least ceremony, enquire, who will dine with them the
next day? Thus, it is extremely easy to avoid any obnoxious person, be
the objection to him what it may; and as the omission of any individual,
from the ordinary course of invitations of such a description, soon
produces explanation, it is impossible that a person of unpleasant
manners, or of an indifferent character, can, for any length of time,
stand his ground; the whole circle, by degrees, drop his acquaintance,
while, in lieu of that friendly and familiar salutation which denotes
approbation, the shunned offender experiences the most distant, and most
forbidding reserve. Being once condemned, something more than ordinary
must appear to produce his re-admission: for the most part, especially
if habitual inebriation be in question, the unhappy man pursues his
career, either until the grave may receive his dropsical remains, or the
Invalid Establishment affords him an asylum against the mortifying
neglect of his late associates.

This kind of retirement, of course, can only apply to military
characters, and certainly does infinite credit to the humanity of those
who tolerate the measure. It may, probably, be urged, that such an
institution should not be open to persons retiring merely in consequence
of indulgence in depravity; or because they are no longer acceptable
among their former associates: it may be asserted, that the admission of
such men within so honorable a pale, must be injurious both to the
character of the corps, and to the feeling of those meritorious
individuals who are compelled by wounds, &c., to accept the benefits of
that establishment. This is undeniable; but when we consider, that,
perhaps, after long service in an oppressive climate, the best of us may
be brought to that kind of conduct which disqualifies from military
service, it may not be too much to assert, that the concession and
indulgence thus granted, are at least charitable, and often
incontrovertibly merited.

Among the gentlemen of the civil service, the society is far less
diversified than with us in Europe; therefore, much facility is afforded
towards the evasion of intercourse with persons in any way unacceptable.
It must at the same time be remarked, that, in this instance, the most
liberal consideration is very generally exhibited; and, that so long as
any hope of reform may remain, there will rarely be found a disposition
to exile a man from that converse with his countrymen, without which he
can neither preserve the appearance of respectability among the natives,
nor, in all probability, receive the approbation of Government. Hence,
what we commonly call a ‘black-sheep,’ is a most marked, and equally
forlorn character, throughout the East; and, consequently, is very

Many years ago, when it was customary for the Governor-General, and some
of the leading gentlemen, such as the Members of Council, &c., to have
public breakfasts weekly, persons of all characters mixed promiscuously
at table; good and bad were to be seen around the same tea-pot. This
occasioned a native of some consequence to remark, that, ‘among
Europeans, all who wore a hat and breeches were gentlemen.’ The sarcasm
was not, however, quite applicable; for, the breakfast being considered
merely the preface to a levee, it was to be expected that, on such
occasions, persons of every description would be seen, who, having
public business to transact at the levee, naturally availed themselves
of the opportunity, without reference to the opinions of others
regarding their private conduct. After the arrival of Marquis
Cornwallis, these public breakfasts were discontinued, and open levees
substituted. This was certainly pleasanter for both the Governor and the
governed. However, there are, to this day, I believe, some remains of
the former ceremony preserved, among a few of the principal gentry; who,
on certain days, expect to see their friends, and such others as may
wish to consult them. Some have two levees, if we may so designate them,
weekly; one for Europeans, and one for natives; but such cannot be
considered official.

A breakfast in India bears a strong resemblance to the same meal in
Scotland, with the exception of whiskey; the introduction of which, (if
to be had,) or of any other spirits, would be considered both nauseous
and vulgar. The general bill of fare, at this time, consists of tea,
coffee, toast, bread, butter, eggs, rice, salt-fish, _kitchery_, (a kind
of olio,) various sweetmeats prepared in the country, especially
preserved ginger, and orange marmalade, honey, &c.; and, after hunting
or shooting, occasionally cold meat, with proper accompaniments.

During a great portion of the year, breakfast may be considered rather a
substantial meal. The generality of European gentlemen rise about
day-break, and either proceed to the parade, to their field diversions,
or to ride on horseback, or on elephants; thus enjoying the cool air of
the morning. From the middle of March to the middle of October, the sun
is very powerful, even when the atmosphere is overcast with clouds of
great density. This induces all who ride for health, or for pleasure, to
avoid violent exercise; they proceeding, generally in small parties,
each gentleman being attended by his _syce_, who carries a whisk made of
horse-hair, fastened to a short lacquered stick, for the purpose of
driving away the flies, which are generally very troublesome both to the
horses and to their riders. It is not uncommon to see the backs of the
latter covered with these noxious parasites, which, by their buzzing,
and their attempts to alight on the face, produce extreme irritation.
During some part of the year, when scarce a leaf is in motion, and the
clouds hang very low, exercise, even so early in the morning, is often
found more injurious than refreshing: at such seasons, nothing but the
abundant perspiration which then relaxes the whole frame, and absolutely
oozes through the light cloathing in common use, could prevent the
occurrence of diseases highly inflammatory. Many feel so uneasy, in
consequence of this unpleasant exudation, as to be induced to change
their linen three or four times within the day; but, however refreshing
such a change may prove, it is by no means to be commended; experience
proving that considerable prostration of strength is the inseparable
consequence of so ill-judged an indulgence. The best plan is, to have
night apparel, and to ride out in the linen worn during the preceding
evening; changing for a clean suit on returning, so as to sit down to
breakfast in comfort.

Those who are subject to bile cannot be too cautious in regard to their
diet; which should be rather sparing, and confined to viands dressed in
a simple manner. Many gentlemen of the faculty, in England, entertain an
opinion, that eggs, moderately boiled, are rather beneficial, than
otherwise, in bilious cases: the idea they entertain is, that the yolk
assimilates with the bile, and carries it off. But practice is better
than theory; and it is to be wished, that such as maintain the above
hypothesis could view the number of patients who may be said to owe
their pains and sorrows merely to the practice of eating eggs for
breakfast. In this climate, to a person possessing a robust
constitution, and whose stomach might vie with that of an ostrich, eggs
may be innocent; but, in the East, where relaxation weakens the powers
of digestion, they are by no means a proper article of diet. If, as
physicians assert, assimilation takes place, it assuredly is on the
wrong side of the question; for I believe all oriental practitioners
will allow, that the bile is considerably augmented, but not carried
off, by eggs.

However grateful many of the other items, such as salt-fish, &c., may
be, they certainly cannot tend much to the preservation of health;
therefore, should be discarded from the breakfast table. I speak
feelingly; for, although I did not possess sufficient resolution to
withstand what then appeared a very alluring temptation, I have now the
candor to confess, that thirst, heat, and uneasiness were generally
attendant upon my imprudence, and no doubt occasioned me to swallow many
a nauseous dose, which might have been avoided by a moderate share of
discretion. Therefore, let me strongly recommend to those of my juvenile
readers who may be about to proceed to India, not to indulge in
breakfasts such as I have described.

The tea used in India is generally what we call green, or hyson; very
little bohea being drank. It is very rarely that either kind can be
obtained good; indeed, the climate speedily renders tea unfit for use,
if at all exposed to the air: on this account, leaden catties of various
sizes, but generally containing from four to ten pounds, are employed
for preserving it. These catties fit in pairs, or, if large, singly,
into neat boxes provided with locks. But little tea being sold retail,
it is usual for a few friends, perhaps three or four, to club, and buy a
chest; which may be had for about 150, or even so high as 200 rupees
(£25). This, however, is not the price of the best teas, which
occasionally sell for nearly double the latter sum, unless there may be
a very large supply at market; when, as it is a very perishable
commodity, the prices sometimes fall even below prime cost. To say the
truth, it rarely matters much whether the tea be good, or bad; for it is
always made at a side-table by some menial who knows nothing of the
matter, and who never tastes it himself: hence, a cup of good tea is
really a rarity; which must appear extraordinary, when it is recollected
that many vessels import at Calcutta in five or six weeks only from

The Arabs now convey immense quantities of fine coffee from Mocha to
every part of India; but they sell it at a high price, generally from
forty to sixty rupees, or even more, per maund of 82lb.; which brings
it, at the latter rate, to 3_s._ 9_d._ per lb. in its raw state. Bourbon
and the Mauritius raise coffee, but of an inferior quality; and, within
these few years, considerable plantations have been formed at
Chittagong; but the produce, though abundant, cannot compare with even
the French coffee.

I have often had coffee that tasted very salt, and rather bitter, the
cause of which was then unknown to me; but a gentleman, who was ‘up to
the trick,’ assured me it was occasioned by the _frazils_ (or baskets)
being immersed in seawater, in order to give the berries that greenish,
horny appearance, which is supposed to be the indication of a superior

Sugar-candy is always used for making tea, coffee, and, indeed, for all
such purposes: it is to be had of various degrees of purity, and either
of indigenous manufacture, or imported from China. The former kind is
sold by the maund, and may be estimated at from twenty to forty rupees;
the latter in tubs made of thin deal, and other light wood, in which the
candy is packed among dried bamboo-leaves. The price of a tub is usually
about twenty rupees, (more or less, as the markets may stand,) for which
about sixty pounds weight are obtained.

Although the sugar-cane is, by many, supposed to be indigenous in India,
yet it has only been within the last fifty years that it has been
cultivated to any great extent: since the failure which took place some
twenty years back in the West Indies, it has become a most important
article of commerce. Strange to say, the only sugar-candy used until
that time was received from China; latterly, however, many gentlemen
have speculated deeply in the manufacture, and, by serving themselves
richly, have rescued the country from a very impolitic branch of
imposition. We now see sugar-candy, of the first quality, manufactured
in various parts of Bengal, and, I believe it is at length admitted,
that the raw sugars from that quarter are pre-eminently good. I have
lately had occasion to purchase some of a very superior fineness, called
_Soonamooky_, from a place of that name in the Burdwan district, which
was as high as eleven-pence per pound.

About thirty-two years ago, the common raw sugar, known by the name of
_g’hoor_, was to be had at three rupees per maund of 96lb. in the upper
provinces: this was about three farthings per pound; for a _Sonaut_ or
_Tersooly_ rupee then was exchanged at about two shillings, or even so
low as one shilling and ten-pence. In consequence of the great demand
for the article, it rose gradually, but in comparatively a very short
time, to eight rupees the maund of 72lb.; and it has been so high as
twelve rupees, but not, I believe, for any length of time: partial
instances could be quoted, of even fourteen rupees being given.

The superior kind, which may often be had nearly white, at least of a
dove color, perfectly dry, and sharp grained, under the name of
_cheeny_, was formerly about seven, or eight, rupees per maund (of
96lb.); of late, it has risen to full fifteen; and has been up to

The sugar-candy made in India, where it is known by the name of
_miscery_, bears a price suited to its quality: some may be had at
twenty, and some up as high as forty, rupees per maund (82lb). It is
usually made in small conical pots, whence it concretes into masses,
weighing from three to six pounds each.

For further information, I must refer my readers to Mr. Colebrooke’s
excellent Essay on the Husbandry of Bengal.

Bread is not made of flour, but of the heart of the wheat, which is very
fine, ground into what is called _soojy_; a kind of meal, so far from
being pulverized, as to bear a strong resemblance to rather coarse sand.
_Soojy_ is kneaded the same as is done with flour, but there being no
yeast in the country, (I mean such as we know by that name,) it is
leavened by means of _toddy_; which is the juice obtained by making
incisions into the _taul_, (or palm-tree,) already described. In many
parts of India, _taul_ trees are very scarce, and are carefully
preserved for the sake of the _toddy_, which is sold to the _nonbaies_,
(or bakers,) at a high price. In Bahar these trees are peculiarly
abundant: there we often see groves, of hundreds upon hundreds, let out
to the _kulwars_, or distillers, to great advantage. These venders of
misery have the art of rendering the _toddy_ peculiarly potent, by
causing it to work upon the kernels of the _datura_, that grows wild in
every part of India, and possesses in every part, whether the stem,
root, leaf, or nut, a most deleterious property. _Toddy_, that has been
strongly impregnated with _datura_, (which is the name it bears in the
East,) acts very rapidly on the brain; producing mania, and, not
unfrequently, apoplexy, when drank to excess.

The bread is usually made into small loaves, weighing about a pound
each; these are called ‘single-loaves’ and may generally sell from
fifteen, to twenty, for a rupee; which brings the bread to about three
half-pence, to two-pence, per pound. ‘Double loaves’ include double the
weight, and sell in proportion. A large portion, of both sizes, is baked
in tin moulds, of a brick form; these are generally preferred, on
account of their rarely scorching, and not requiring to be rasped, as
all the other bread, baked in the form of heavy cakes, generally does.

_Soojy_, (the basis of the bread,) is frequently boiled into
‘stir-about’ for breakfast; and eaten with milk, salt, and butter;
though some of the more zealous may be seen to moisten with porter; a
curious medley, by no means to my taste! Nor is much to be said of its
qualities; as few stomachs are suited to its reception.

The camp-oven in common use, consists merely of a very large _naud_, or
pot, capable of containing from thirty to fifty gallons, and of rather a
conical form. This vessel is prepared for the purpose, by having a hole
punched through its bottom, large enough to admit a man’s arm; it is
then placed, mouth downwards, over a corresponding cavity, dug out of
the soil, so as to fit close every way; but, in order to allow a proper
draught of air, two, or more, sloping apertures are left, passing under
the circumference of the _naud_. The vessel is next well covered with
turf, &c., and thus rendered capable of retaining considerable heat,
long enough to bake small bread. The interior being filled with chips of
wood, charcoal, _gutties_, (_i.e._ dried cow-dung,) or any other kind of
fuel that may be at hand, a strong fire is kept up in it, until the
_naud_ appears to be nearly at a red heat. The hole, which served for a
chimney, is then closed; and, the embers being withdrawn, the bread is
introduced upon pieces of iron plate, or of tin, or boards, or leaves,
&c., &c.

I should here remark, that the natives invariably eat unleavened bread,
generally made of wheaten, or of barley-meal; which, being made into a
good dough, is flattened into cakes, called _chow-patties_, between the
hands, with very great dexterity. Such cakes are then either put at the
edges of the heated _choolah_, or fire-place, or they are baked upon a
convex plate of iron, circular, and about ten inches, or a foot, in
diameter. This plate, called a _towah_, is precisely the same as the
_girdle_ made in Scotland for baking their oaten bread, and is used in
the same manner.

Milk is to be had in abundance throughout India, especially among the
Hindus, who venerate the cow, and follow all occupations relating to the
dairy; but, owing to the general custom of smoking the insides of
whatever vessels are allotted to its reception, will not be obtainable
in such a state as suits the palate of an European, unless a clean
pitcher, &c., be sent to the _gwallah_, or cow-keeper, that the cow may
be milked into it.

That fuliginous taste, to us so obnoxious, is perfectly palatable, and
perhaps agreeable, to the natives; who assign, as the reason for smoking
their vessels, that it prevents the milk from turning. It, however,
becomes a question, whether or not the operation of scalding, always
performed when practicable, while the milk is warm, be not the true
preventive against acidulation. Certain it is, that sour milk is very
rarely found in India, although, for full half the year, the thermometer
is generally up between 75°, and 95°, in the shade; and, in a Bengallee
hut, frequently rising to 110°, or more!

The milk obtained from buffaloes is certainly much richer than that from
cows; yet, the butter produced from the former is very inferior,
generally white, and brittle: it, however, possesses qualities suiting
it admirably to the climate, and occasioning the natives to give it the
preference. After being warmed to a certain degree, so as to become
rather liquified, it is kept nearly stationary in that state for a long
time; whereby it loses its aqueous particles, and is rendered fit for
keeping. When thus treated, it is called _ghee_. Others deviate from
this tedious process, and, by exposing it to a greater heat, keeping it
simmering for some time, effect the purpose more speedily, but not
without danger of burning, or, at least, of giving it a certain
empyreumatic flavor. Few of the natives will touch cow-butter, to which
they attribute many bad effects, though they will drink _ghee_ by the
quart, and pride themselves not a little in being able to afford so
luscious an enjoyment. The uncontrolled expenditure of this article,
among those whose purses will bear them out in the indulgence, though it
may tend to that obesity of which they are inordinately vain, cannot but
contribute greatly to the generation of those bilious diseases which so
often attack the more opulent natives. _Ghee_ and idleness may be said
to give birth to half their ailings. As an article of commerce, _ghee_
possesses some claim to importance; many thousands of maunds being sent
every season from some of the grazing districts, such as _Purneah_, and
_Sircar-sarun_, to the more cultivated parts, and especially to the
western provinces. The _ghee_ is generally conveyed in _dubbahs_, or
bottles made of green hide, which, being freed from the hair, and worked
up while in a pliant state, into the form of a _caraboy_, such as we use
for spirits of turpentine, &c., will keep sweet for a long time,
provided the mouth of the vessel be well closed. In this manner it is
conveyed by water in _dubbahs_, often measuring nearly a hogshead; but a
smaller kind, containing, perhaps, from fifteen to twenty gallons each,
are made for the purpose of being slung across the backs of bullocks, by
which it is carried to places situated at a distance from navigable
streams. The price of _ghee_ varies according to the demand, and to its
quality: generally, from six to eight seers of 2lb. each may be had for
a rupee in favorable situations; otherwise, it will be from thirty to
fifty per cent. dearer. It may be supposed that buffaloes’ milk must
possess a very considerable portion of cream, when it is stated, that
milk is considered very cheap at 30 seers (or quarts) for a rupee, and
that five seers of _ghee_, equal to one-sixth of the mass of milk, may
be had for the same sum, in almost any part of the country. According to
this proportion, we find that one-sixth part of the milk turns to
butter; whereas, in this country, a cow, yielding twenty gallons of milk
within the week, will rarely produce ten pounds of butter; which is
equal to only one-eighth part of the mass of milk: it must, indeed, be a
good cow that will produce that quantity.

The _d’hoob_ grass, which grows wild in almost every part of the
country, is peculiarly nutritious; but the food of cattle, of all
descriptions, throughout India, is more dry and solid than is offered to
cows in England. Hence, though the quantity of milk yielded by a
buffalo, may not be equal to that of an English cow of equal weight, the
produce in butter, from an equal quantity of milk, will be in favor of
the former.

I have already stated the difficulty of getting milk devoid of the taste
of smoke; this arises from the cause already described, and is encreased
by the very small proportion of milk yielded by the cows in India, which
are, with few exceptions, white, and rarely grow larger than the
generality of yearlings, or steers, bred in England. In some grazing
districts they thrive well, attaining to full thirteen hands in height,
and weighing, when fit for the butcher, from four to five hundred
weight: but such are merely local, and not very numerous. Butter
produced from cows’ milk is very indifferent, unless carefully made from
such as are well fed. The number of gentlemen keeping dairies is
extremely confined, perhaps less than ten for all India: they certainly
obtain excellent butter, but that sold by the _muckun-wallahs_, (_i.e._
the butter-men,) would appear, to a stranger, not to be made from the
same species of animals. Considering the price of a cow, which may be
averaged at from four rupees to eight, (_i.e._ from ten to twenty
shillings,) it is remarkably dear, as is usually the case with articles
of inferior quality: thus, we consider three pounds for a rupee to be a
fair rate, though sometimes four may be had; but such can only happen
where cattle are very abundant; for, as I have already said, buffaloes,
and not cows, are almost invariably kept by the natives for their milk,
on account of their greater produce, and because the _ghee_ made from
their butter is more appreciated. We may, therefore, estimate the pound
of cow-butter at nine-pence; whereas, _ghee_ rarely sells for more than
three-pence: a strange disproportion; to be attributed, in some measure,
to the demand for the former being confined to the Europeans.

In speaking of the _berriarah_, or shepherd, I have already noticed,
that, for the supply of their tea-tables, gentlemen usually keep a few
goats, which afford milk of a remarkably fine quality, and are herded in
company with those store sheep intended to supply vacancies among the
fatting stock. The kids produced, generally twice in the year, by each
milch-goat, (mostly twins, and not unfrequently trins, or even four, at
a birth,) serve to keep up the number of the flock, besides yielding
occasionally a most delicate viand for the table. I know not of any meat
more sweet, or wholesome, than that of a kid allowed to suck the mother
at pleasure: it is as white, and, in proportion, as fat as any veal.
Being in general request, and admirably suited to making rich _curries_,
as also roasting remarkably well, kid-meat may be had of any butcher;
the usual price being a rupee for a whole kid, and in proportion for
halves and quarters. When of a good size, and duly fatted, an entire one
may weigh about six pounds; which brings the meat to five-pence per

By the word butcher, we are not to understand the individual to be a
shop-keeper, exposing the several joints of various animals for sale, in
that pleasing mode of exhibition so common in our markets. On the
contrary, a fat _kussee_ (_i.e._ cut-goat,) or two, and two or three
kids, daily, with, now and then, a half-fatted ox during the cold
months, may be said to comprize the whole business of one of this
profession in full trade; indeed, a first-rate knight of the cleaver!
The greater part of the profit arising to this class, is derived from
slaughtering oxen, calves, pigs, sheep, and kids, for families; for
which labor they ordinarily receive a few annas, (or two-pences,)
according to the size of the animal: in most instances they take the
skin, pluck, and, of some, the head, as a perquisite.

It is impossible to produce finer mutton than is served upon table in
India; nor can there be finer beef than is to be seen in most
cantonments, and among fixed residents. At some of the principal
military and civil stations, those gentlemen who keep a regular table,
usually fatten several bullocks for winter slaughtering. Some of these
are fed full two years, with that intent, on _gram_; and, exclusive of
being burthened with fat on the kidneys, &c., have their flesh
absolutely marbled by the admixture of fat among the fleshy parts.
Sometimes, the officers of a regiment club to fatten four or five head,
the joints of which are either divided according to mutual concurrence,
or drawn for by lot: this supplies fresh beef during the winter season;
very few bullocks being killed at any other time, on account of the
extreme difficulty of curing the meat. To persons inexperienced as to
the hasty strides of putrefaction in hot climates, this forbearance from
beef, for so large a portion of the year, might appear unnecessary; but
the fact is, that, during the close weather, prevalent throughout the
rains, and for a certain part of the hot season, meat, though killed
only about midnight, will often become absolutely putrid long before the
time at which it ought to be on the spit; and that, too, in spite of
every precaution!

The markets at Calcutta are open at daybreak; when very fine meat, of
every kind, together with various sorts of choice fish, fruits,
vegetables, &c., may be had on very reasonable terms. There, indeed,
beef may sometimes be seen in the hottest weather; because, being cut up
into small joints, a bullock may be readily sold off among so many
customers; but, in general, the prime pieces, together with all the best
fish, &c., will have been bought up by sunrise: the refuse joints are
generally taken by the Portugueze, (who are the only customers for
_bazar_-pork,) and by Europeans of the lower classes, or by persons who
supply the shipping. The whole of the non-commissioned and privates, in
the several regiments of Europeans, are served with meat, rice, spirits,
and fire-wood, by contract; receiving their several quotas early in the
morning, under the inspection of their commissioned officers, who make
their reports regarding any deficiencies, either in quantity, or of

Those gentlemen who produce pork at their tables, are extremely
particular as to the manner in which their pigs are fed. Many are so
extremely fastidious, as not to allow any to be served up unless
_educated_, as it is called, in their own sties; the very circumstance
of being _born_ elsewhere, absolutely disqualifying, and rendering of no
avail, all that change of bulk, and all that purification, derived from
perhaps a whole year of confinement to a clean stye; in which nothing
but the best corn (_gram_) is given to the grunting inhabitant. This,
certainly, is carrying daintiness to an extreme; but it must be
confessed, that swine are so offensively greedy in the indulgence of
their appetites in that part of the world, as to give occasion for many
very reasonable scruples regarding the use of _bazar_-pork; which is
indiscriminately killed from the fattest of those wanderers that
sometimes absolutely interrupt the operations of the multitude, who
resort, generally at dusk, and at day-break, to lay their offerings at
the shrine of a certain deity!

This calls to mind a very laughable circumstance which happened at
Berhampore, in 1803. An officer, who had been many years at Gibraltar,
where a joint of meat, of any kind, was probably snapped up without any
questions being asked as to its _education_, produced at his table a
very fine corned leg of pork, of which all his guests ate with great
avidity. One of them, when the repast was over, begged leave to enquire
how the gentleman kept his pigs; what had been then on table, being of
so superior a flavor, that he presumed it was _educated_ in some very
particular manner. ‘Oh no,’ answered the host, ‘I never trouble my head
about sties; my man bought a whole side of it this morning of Neeloo the
butcher, for eight annas’ (15_d._) This untimely disclosure operated not
only like magic, but like emetic tartar; the whole company were taken
with violent sickness, and retired to give vent, both to the pork, and
to their feelings, on so dreadful an occasion. However, none died in
consequence of having been thus poisoned; but the whole station received
the tale with horror, and resolved, to a man, never to accept another
invitation from the unfortunate hero of the rock!

Whether it be owing to the foregoing cause, or, that the time necessary
for the completion of a pig’s ‘_education_,’ be too protracted to allow
of persons, subject to removal, engaging in that branch of domestic
economy, may be difficult to determine, but certain it is, that very few
officers have piggeries; they commonly content themselves with hams and
cheeks imported to them from England. The grossness of the viand is,
however, so very inappropriate to the climate, that, even after the most
delicate course of management, pork is by no means considered a choice
dish: sucking pigs are more generally approved.

Veal is so very seldom to be obtained in the market, of a quality fit to
be brought to table, that it is customary for four or five friends to
subscribe for the purpose of rearing calves for their own expenditure;
each taking a share of every calf that is slaughtered. The best, and
most economical plan, is to agree with some butcher, through whose means
alone it can in general be effected, to receive of him a cow and calf,
the latter being newly born, and to return him the mother, after the
calf may have been killed, together with four rupees (10_s._) By this
mode, the calf will thrive admirably, provided the cow be well fed; but
it is usual, and I have practised it with great success, to give the
little one as much scalded milk as it can drink, three times daily;
drenching it with either a horn, or a quart-bottle: from three to four
quarts, in each of which the yolk of a fresh egg is beat up, will
commonly produce the desired effect, rendering the meat very fine by the
end of a month; the usual age at which they are slaughtered. What with
the keep of the mother, the milk and eggs given to the calf, and the
necessary attendance, a gold-mohur, (£2.,) will generally be expended
upon each calf, unless several be kept together as a successive supply
for the table; in which case, about twelve rupees will be found the
average expence. In this, I reckon the out-lay upon a calf that will now
and then, perhaps one in five, prove a bad subject; and, notwithstanding
every precaution, either scour or pine.

It is a great misfortune that, on account of the extreme antipathy the
horned cattle of India always exhibit towards Europeans, no possibility
exists for remedying many bad practices, and neglects, to which these
animals are subject, when under the care of the native servants. An
Indian ox, or cow, when at liberty, is always shunned very carefully,
lest it should indulge its savage disposition. On first entering that
country, the cattle would be supposed to be wild, instead of
domesticated; for not one in a thousand will admit the approach of an
European; nor are they always less gentle towards strangers of any
description. As to what are called _tame_ buffaloes, they are commonly
more fierce than any British bull, and, when they have calves at their
sides, make no scruple of attacking man and horse, with unbounded
ferocity. Hence, it is extremely proper to be very cautious of
approaching herds, or single cattle of either kind, even when tolerably
mounted. Sometimes, in riding through the country, and especially where
_jeels_ (lakes) are to be forded, or pools to be passed, the unwary
traveller may find himself, on a sudden, within a few yards of a whole
herd of buffaloes, which, to avoid the heat of mid-day, wallow in the
muddy water, so deep as to have, in general, only their noses and eyes
above the surface. Being, perhaps, among rushes, &c. even those parts
are not discernible, or, if in an open expanse, may be easily mistaken
for clods of mud; for the horns lie back towards the false ribs. On a
sudden, the whole herd sometimes rise, and at the least frighten the
horse, whatever the rider’s heart may be made of: such a surprize, and
from animals that, according to the old saying, ‘give but a word and a
blow, and the blow comes first,’ is far from pleasant. In such
situations, all depends on the conduct of the leading bull; if he
snorts, shakes his horns, and advances, the danger is imminent. But it
frequently happens, that, whether owing to lassitude, or the absence of
any object particularly irritating to buffaloes, of which a red coat may
be considered the extreme, the herd content themselves with rising from
their reclined postures, and, after those who rouzed them may have
passed on, again sink into the friendly pool.

The British settlers in India are extremely indebted to the Dutch for
many essential improvements. The small town of Chinsurah, situate about
twenty-eight miles north of Calcutta, on the banks of the Hoogly river,
has, in this instance, proved serviceable to India at large. The Dutch,
to whom that place appertained before the war, were the first to
introduce the culture of that invaluable esculent, the potatoe; which
was received from their settlement at the Cape of Good Hope: they
likewise were the first to exhibit any disposition towards horticulture.
From them the British received, annually, the seeds of every kind of
vegetable useful at the table, as well as several plants of which there
appeared much need, especially various kinds of pot-herbs. They likewise
supplied us with vines, from which innumerable cuttings have been
dispensed to every part of Bengal and its upper dependencies. The whole
of the lower provinces, at least, those parts skirting the ranges of
hills that bound them, produce immense quantities of wild vines, which,
during the rains, may be seen partially to bear grapes of a red color,
and about the size of a pistol-ball. These vines tower over the high
_saul_ trees, or creep along the rocky masses, throughout the Ramghur
district especially, in all the majesty of wild luxuriance.

Here is a field for speculation! Let us suppose, that the wines which
should be raised might not prove of the best quality, still we might
derive the most important advantages from the brandy and vinegar to
which they might be converted. As to wood for the staves, and iron for
the hoops, they are both to be had on the spot; and, in regard to
distillation, abundance of men, sufficiently skilled, may be found among
the natives. Fuel is every where abundant, indeed, a perfect nuisance.
The only impediment I could ever discover, is, that the neighbouring
streams are not generally navigable, or, perhaps, only for a few months
in the year: they might, however, be easily rendered adequate to every
purpose, there being lime-stone in various adjacent hills, while, among
the convicts, who are in a state of idleness for the most part, many
persons might be selected fully capable of constructing whatever
masonry, or timber-work, should be found necessary.

Some years ago, I had the honor of submitting this suggestion to the
Court of Directors. The India minister of that day was forcibly struck
with the facility obviously afforded of founding an immense national
concern: and, had he remained in office, would probably have taken means
to ascertain every point contained in my memoir, with the utmost
exactitude: the result must have been perfectly satisfactory.

When we consider, that the Company pay two lacs of rupees (£25,000.)
yearly for spirits, of a very inferior quality, for the use of the
European soldiery; and, that good vinegar cannot be had under two rupees
per gallon, (5_s._) it should seem an object, even in that limitted
view, to cultivate the vine for their own use; but, if we extend the
prospect, and shew that any quantity of brandy, if not of wine, might be
imported from Bengal, the benefits will be found so great, as to claim
every encouragement on the part of the legislature. It appears highly
probable, that full a million sterling would be annually saved to the
nation, by its adoption of this speculation; which might be began at
little or no expence, and be progressively extended, by giving
employment to the whole body of convicts, who now are a heavy burthen on
the revenue, without doing a thousandth part of the service of which
they are physically capable. If my information be correct, there are now
sold at Calcutta near four thousand pipes of Madeira, Teneriffe, &c.,
annually, and about as many chests of Claret, including French and
English; the quantity of Brandy imported at that settlement is full
10,000 gallons, besides Hollands, Rum, and other liquors, of which I
shall make no account. The licences granted for the retail of spirits
are amply abundant; and the number of shops where _Toddy_, _Mowah_,
_Pariah Arrack_, &c., are served out, absolutely incalculable.

From the best computation I have been enabled to make, full 10,000,000
gallons of spirits are made and sold in Bengal and its dependant
provinces, the average of which may be taken at one rupee per gallon, as
it comes from the still; the retail prices will, no doubt, double that
sum; making no less than 20,000,000 of rupees, equal to £2,500,000
expended annually by debauchees, and by the regular consumption among
the soldiery, &c. If the foregoing items be put together, they must make
a tremendous total; while we shall see, that a most ruinous intercourse
prevails, throwing money into the pockets of our rivals, and enabling
them to carry home investments in exchange for their own produce. We
shall further see, that, supposing a duty of only 25 per cent. were
imposed on all spirits sold, exclusive of the amount of licences, which
are very trivial, no less than £625,000. would annually flow into the
treasury. This may appear a very large sum, but, when it is recollected
that the manufacture of salt, monopolized by the Company, yields, on the
average of several years, the sum of £1,500,000., (after deducting about
£525,000. for the expences of boiling, &c.,) we may fairly consider the
above computation to be far within the bounds of probability.

Rum is made in Bengal from refuse sugar, the same as in the West Indies;
its quality is by no means inferior, though it sells, when new, at the
very cheap rate of about a rupee the gallon. It is to be had, of a good
age, of the several great distillers and merchants, at a proportionate
advance. I have known it, after being six years in the _godown_,
(warehouse,) to be compared with Jamaica Rum, warranted ten years old;
when the preference was given decidedly in favor of the former. With
respect to arrack, which is in a manner peculiar to the East; the native
distillers produce excellent alcohol, which, after being properly
rectified, and kept for some years, proves an admirable spirit, supposed
to be far more wholesome than rum.

Though, on the whole, the fish brought to the Calcutta markets, cannot
be compared with such as we see at Billingsgate, &c., there are,
nevertheless, some kinds, which might please the most dainty epicure.
The _hilsah_, (or sable fish,) which seems to be mid-way between a
mackarel and a salmon, whether for form, general appearance, or flavor,
is, perhaps, the richest fish with which any cook is acquainted. It
abounds so with fat, that most persons, after being served with a
portion, immerse it in boiling water, brought in a soup-plate; thereby
causing a large quantity of grease to float. When baked in vinegar, or
preserved in tamarinds, the _hilsah_ is remarkably fine.

Like the salmon, these run up to the very spring-heads, seeming to
abound more and more in proportion as they approximate thereto; though
certainly they grow to the largest size, immediately within the tide’s
reach: getting beyond that, they dart up as far as possible during the
season, returning, after spawning, to the sea. They are in perfection
towards the latter end of the rains.

The _bickty_, (or cockup,) very strongly resembles the jack, and grows
to an enormous size. I have seen one measuring more than eight feet in
length, and various others that weighed full a maund (82lb.) The average
size at which they are brought to market, may be from eighteen, to
thirty, inches in length; and their weight from two to ten, or twelve,
pounds. They flake like cod, to which also their flavor greatly

_Soles_, of a diminutive size, are sometimes to be had at Calcutta: the
natives call them _kookoor jibbys_, (_i.e._ dogs’ tongues,) in allusion
to their shape. These are sometimes caught in the brackish waters, among
the _bicktys_, or cockups, or in the flat sands about Diamond-Harbour,
&c. _Prawns_ of a very good size, and very small crayfish, are to be
found in most parts of the country, as also a kind of eel, called
_baum_; which, however, bears more resemblance to the gar, or
guard-fish, of which millions may be taken in most of the fresh-water
_jeels_, (lakes,) though rarely exceeding a foot in length.

The _rooy_, or _r’hooee_, is a species of the carp, as is also the
_meergah_. They are both abundant in the great rivers, and in all the
waters connected with them, though the former are most numerous, and
thrive greatly in ponds. The latter are of a browner color, and rarely
exceed ten pounds in weight, whereas, the former are often found of
fifty lb., and sometimes up to a maund.

The _cutlah_ is a species of the perch, though some consider it to be of
the bream-kind: it is only found in the great rivers, is generally of a
dark color, approaching to black, and commonly weighs from ten to sixty

The whole of the above, viz. The _r’hooee_, the _meergah_, and the
_cutlah_, may be taken by angling; as may also the _soly_, a species of
the jack, and nearly as voracious.

_Trouts_, about as large as smelts, are sometimes to be seen in those
small streams that have their rise among mountains, but they are not so
distinctly spotted as we see them in Europe: they are, indeed, very
scarce, and generally bear a small red, or gold, or black, spot on each
scale: the adipous fin, by which all the salmon tribe are distinguished,
is scarcely elevated above the loins.

The fresh-water anchovy, called by the natives _çhelwar_, is to be found
in shoals on every flat sand throughout the great rivers: these are
generally scared, so as to precipitate themselves on the beach, by two
men, who, wading in the water up to their knees, gradually draw a line
of fifty or sixty feet in length, every where laden with small, colored
rags, in such manner as to enclose the _çhelwahs_ in a crescent, and
ultimately to drive them ashore. Occasionally, _mullets_, of a small
size, are found among the booty: they are remarkably sweet and firm.
Nothing can be more common than to see shoals of them struggling against
the current, especially in the cold months, with their eyes out of the
water. Their motions are very nimble, but it is not uncommon to see
several killed by a round of small shot, from a common fowling-piece:
they are not to be taken by angling. As to the _tingrah_, a kind of
freshwater gurnet, it is extremely voracious, and grows to a good size;
often weighing eight or nine lbs.; though the average may be from two to
four. They are very strong, and afford ample amusement when hooked. The
_skait_ grows to full twelve or fourteen lbs., and is common in all the
great rivers; but, it must be handled with caution, on account of its
having a dreadful spine about the centre of its tail. These two
last-mentioned fishes are rarely seen at table; nor is the _buallee_,
which is rather flat, and has a continued abdominal fin, the same as
eels. This fish is extremely coarse, but desperately rapacious; seizing
almost any bait with avidity, but affording little sport when hooked.

The _puftah_ is of the same description, but, in lieu of weighing, as
the _buallee_ often does, from ten to fifteen lbs., seldom amounts to so
many ounces. Its flesh is remarkably rich and sweet, but, when hooked,
it is as little disposed as the former to resist. The most esteemed fish
is, that called by the natives _tupsey_, but by us ‘_mango-fish_,’ on
account of its appearing about the time that _mangoes_ first come into
season: it comes up with the tide. In appearance, it is not unlike the
smelt, though rather deeper, and with reddish fins. The flesh of this
fish is fine, but its roe is deservedly esteemed to be delicious. An
immense quantity are cured, by being slightly salted, and sun-dried;
after which, they are smoked for a short time over a fire made of chaff,

Turtle, of about a cwt., are to be found in almost every river and
creek, as also in some of the large _jeels_; though they are very rarely
seen in standing waters, and then, perhaps, only in a state of
migration. The flesh of these is peculiarly unwholesome; and, so far
from being, like the sea-turtles, composed of parts resembling fish,
flesh, and fowl, may be aptly compared with bacon of the coarsest
description, with some tendency to rancidity. The _batchwah_, or
‘freshwater herring,’ (though it has no scales,) is one of the best
fishes the Indian rivers produce; but a general prejudice is
entertained, with much justice too, against its selection of food. The
most appropriate baits for most fishes are the _goorgoory_, (or _gryllus
monstrosus_,) and the _cockroach_ (or _blatta_). It would be endless to
recount all the kinds of fishes to be found in the streams and lakes of
India; but it may justly be stated, that, in some parts, their numbers
are so great as absolutely to corrupt the waters. With respect to the
minor species of fish, occasionally served at table, they are very
numerous, and, in most places, abundant: every creek and _jeel_ is
replete with them, and every village in their vicinity contains persons
provided with some kind of apparatus suited to catching an ample supply.
On the larger pieces of water, there are usually either canoes or
_dingies_, which, together with their owners, are subservient to the
_jemmadars_, or head-boroughs, and may also be set in motion for a very
trivial present, made ostensibly to the laborer, but commonly
transferred privately to that proud, imperious, and avaricious officer.

POULTRY next come under consideration: of this, great variety is to be
found. Fowls, capons, ducks, geese, turkies, and pigeons, are for sale
in every city, or great station, at very moderate prices. In general,
taking an average of all places, fine chickens, called _chujahs_, may be
had at ten for a rupee (_i.e._ 3_d._ each); middle-sized, or
_meem-kabobbies_, (small roasters,) at seven or eight for a rupee (about
4_d._ each); and good-sized roasters, or _kabobbies_, at five for a
rupee (about 6_d._ each).

Capons are only to be had in particular parts of the country; generally
they are white, and so cheap as to give ten or twelve for a rupee;
though I have purchased no less than twenty-nine for that sum, (_i.e._
1_d._ each,) in the Tomar district, where they are produced in immense
numbers by the _Pahariahs_, or Hill people, of that mountainous
district. These people are more immediately distinguished by the
designation of _Dangahs_: they are of a small stature, very, very poor,
rather squalid, but capable of undergoing great fatigue: they are
wonderfully adroit in the exercise of the bow; and, after performing the
little labor needful for the cultivation of the vallies, generally
repair, at certain seasons, to the military and civil stations in the
neighbouring districts of Ramghur, &c., where they serve as bearers;
especially on the new-road, which is much frequented by gentlemen
travelling _dawk_, (post,) in _palanquins_, to or from the upper

Ducks are of various prices, but may be considered at an average of four
or five for a rupee (about 7½_d._ or 6_d._ each); and geese at a rupee
each. These thrive prodigiously throughout India; but it is far
otherwise with turkies, which are extremely tender, and cannot endure
the great heats of summer, unless allowed to graze upon a plot well
watered, and generally sheltered from the sun. It is not uncommon to see
them crowding to some little verdant spot under the shade of the
lee-side, where a current of air, refrigerated by the _tatties_, passes
out from the _bungalow_, &c. Without some such restorative, they would,
to a certainty, pine away, and speedily disappoint the hopes of their
owner. Among the grass on the plots generally preserved near the
dwelling, it is common to see immense numbers of ants, of all
descriptions, which resort thither both for coolness, and for the
collection of the seeds that are perpetually falling. It is very
strange, but true, that these little depredators are not easily
deterred, by the water being laid on occasionally, from forming their
nest in such plots of grass, though they generally prefer some dry, hard
walk, or level area, along which they form little paths, by laying the
gravel, &c., aside; so that their progress is not obstructed when
robbing some store. Many of these paths may be traced for fifty or sixty
yards; occasionally, they are double; one being appropriated for the
egressors, the other for those returning laden with the booty. When the
turkies light upon such a line of march, they fall to with a famous
appetite; seeming to rival our pheasants in that particular, and
exhibiting the satisfaction they feel on receiving a supply of their
favorite food. In thus devouring the ants, they do great service; for, I
know not of any more unpleasant companions than the little tormentors in
question, whose bite is extremely keen, producing considerable
irritation. Some of these ants grow to full three-quarters of an inch in
length, and are capable of causing great pain. Many prevent their being
destroyed, under the opinion that they feed upon white-ants: this I
never could establish, though I believe they are ready enough to march
off with the body of a dead white-ant, the same as they would with any
other morsel of animal substance.

The difficulty of rearing turkies, renders them extremely scarce; hence,
it is not uncommon to pay a gold mohur (£2.) for a well-grown, fat,
turkey-cock: few, either cocks or hens, are to be had in any part of the
country, for less than half that sum; and then chiefly from Portugueze
families, that make a livelihood by rearing them. About Bandel, a
Portugueze town, some thirty miles above Calcutta, great numbers are
reared; as are also ducks, and geese, in abundance. At all the great
stations, both civil and military; some persons of that description
generally reside, through whose industry families are supplied. Fowls
are reared by the same persons; though less an object to them, as almost
every Mahomedan family maintains a few, mostly for its own use, but
sometimes for sale. As to the Hindus, nothing could be more criminal
than such a speculation: the very touch of a fowl being considered the
acmé of pollution. From this we may judge how necessary it is to be
guarded in making changes in the dress of our native soldiers; whose
zeal and fidelity are unquestionable, but who instantly revolt at any
invasion, however slight, of their religious tenets, or of their vulgar
prejudices. Those who affect to consider such to be easily overruled,
or, who vainly talk of _coercing_ so many millions to adopt our faith,
would do well to take a trip to Bengal, and to insist on any Hindu
menials, or others, under their authority, wearing a feather in their

As to the numerous species of wild game, such as antelopes, hog-deer,
hogs, geese, ducks, teal, snipes, ortolans, quails, partridges,
florikens, (or bustards,) pigeons of sorts, wild and tame, hares, &c.,
they are generally to be had in abundance; those of my readers who wish
for a more detailed account, will find it in my ‘WILD SPORTS OF THE
EAST,’ published in folio, with colored plates, as also in quarto royal,
and imperial octavo, by Mr. Edward Orme, of Bond-street, and by Messrs.
Black and Co. Leadenhall-street. In that superb work, the details of
every branch of hunting, shooting, &c., will be found.

There are no wild rabbits in India, but great numbers of tame ones are
to be had at Calcutta, and at some of the subordinate stations. The
prices vary according to demand, age, and condition; but we may take the
average at four for a rupee when half grown, and at double that rate
when fit for the table. It is, however, extremely difficult to preserve
them in safety from their numerous enemies the dogs, jackals, foxes,
cats, rats, bats, snakes, hawks, crows, &c.

Having, I believe, generally discussed what relates to the supply of the
table, I shall proceed to the description of other matters relating to
the convenience and service of gentlemen resident in the East.

The dinner table is invariably laid with two cloths; one of the usual
size, the other about large enough to cover the surface only: this last
is removed when the meat is taken off; so that the dessert is laid upon
the lower one, which has, in the mean while, been preserved by it from
stains, grease, crumbs, &c. A napkin is laid with every cover, together
with a tumbler or rummer, a long glass for Claret, and an ordinary-sized
one for Madeira. Each glass is provided with a cover, which may be
lifted off by means of a stud in its centre. In opulent families, these
covers are usually made of silver, otherwise of turned wood. It is
remarkable, that some of the common indigenous woods have the peculiar
property, when used for this purpose, of imparting a most offensive
smell, attended with a similar flavor, to water, &c., if left for a few

The knives and forks are all of European manufacture, though, within
these few years, some excellent imitations have appeared. I doubt if
_Blacky_ can, as yet, bring his work so low as our artizans, though he
certainly has the advantage of them in cheapness of living, and in being
generally exempt from the operation of a variety of taxes. This
deficiency on the part of the natives, proceeds from their being obliged
to perform all those operations by hand, which we both accelerate and
perfect by means of machinery. The greater part of the plate, used
throughout the country, is made by native smiths, who, in some
instances, may be seen to tread very close on the heels of our
jewellers, not only in the graceful form of the articles manufactured,
but in the patterns, whether carved or embossed. Such specimens of
perfection are, however, rare, and are produced chiefly under the
superintendence of European masters; though I have seen some pieces,
made by _sonaars_, (goldsmiths,) totally independent of such aid, or
instruction, which displayed much skill and some taste. Speaking,
however, of the common workmanship of this class, it must be put out of
all comparison with British plate, on account of its being indifferently
shaped, and rudely ornamented. Hence, such plate as is sent from this
country, as well as what is made up by Europeans settled in India, very
generally sells for full 25, or even for 50 per cent. more than what is
manufactured by the native artizans.

The whole of the glass-ware used in India, is furnished from England,
and commonly sells at full two, if not three, hundred per cent. on the
prime cost: this is not unreasonable, when we consider how brittle the
commodity is, and that the extent of sale is not so considerable as to
render it, individually, an object of adventure.

Table cloths and napkins are manufactured in several parts of the
country, especially at Patna, Tondah, and most of those cities where
piece-goods are made. The beauty of some fabrics of this description is
very striking; nor is their durability less conspicuous. I have by me,
at this moment, some that have been in constant use for full twelve
years, and my stock, at no time, exceeded a dozen and a half of table
cloths. The prices of such may be supposed to vary according to quality;
but a very superior bird’s eye may be generally had for about two rupees
per square yard; observing, that the cost will necessarily be somewhat
encreased in proportion to the greater extent of the piece. Others, of a
coarser texture, and of a plain diaper, are to be had extremely cheap;
perhaps as low as eight annas (15_d._) per square yard. Such are,
however, extremely flimsy, and never appear creditable. Towels are also
manufactured at various prices; some reaching so high as two rupees
(5_s._) each, while others may be obtained by the dozen for the same
money. The best for common use may be rated at about five or six rupees
per dozen. A kind, generally of mixed colored borders, wove in, is made
at Chittagong: these are rough, like what we call huckaback, and are
peculiarly well calculated for drying and cleaning the skin after
washing; but they are not so durable as the plain diapers.

Great quantities of furniture are sent from Europe, being first taken to
pieces, and packed within a very small space. Of this description,
mahogany tables and chairs form by far the greater portion; few other
articles being shipped, though now and then we see a few bureaus,
secretaires, ecritoires, &c., among a cargo from Europe. All such
commodities would bear even a higher price than is now charged for them,
were it not that, among the natives, as well as among the European
carpenters, and joiners, settled in Calcutta, the British mechanics
experience considerable, and very successful, rivalship.

The excellent woods, of different kinds, produced in almost every part
of India, and the facility with which they may be brought to market,
present the most favorable aids to the Indian artizans; but, owing to
the want of capital among the natives, the work done by them is rarely
found to answer: it warps dreadfully, and sometimes rives from one, to
the other, end. This is entirely owing to the deficiency of seasoning;
for we find, that whenever a gentleman is at the pains, and has the
opportunity, to saw up his own wood, and to season it properly, it will
commonly be found to answer his expectations fully; both in respect to
durability, and to the polish it may take. Although there is, in some
instances, an obvious cheapness in employing a native carpenter, it may
safely be asserted, that, on the long run, what with delay, impositions,
imperfections, &c., it is frequently found to be a very round-about way
of saving a trifle. I strongly recommend to all persons arriving in
India, to visit the several depôts of furniture to be seen at every
auction-warehouse, and generally at the _godowns_ (warehouses) of the
European shopkeepers. There is, besides, a whole street, called the
‘_china-bazar_,’ as well as various scattered boutiques, appropriated
entirely to the display of European articles, and of china-ware, of
every description; all which are sold for ready money only, by a tribe
of Hindu speculators, who, from attending at auctions, are enabled to
make cheap purchases, and become perfectly acquainted with the qualities
of every article; or, at least, with such points as give a preference in
the eye of an European. In this _bazar_, (or market,) almost every thing
an European can require, for common purposes, may be obtained: he may,
indeed, purchase an ample library, either of new, or of second-hand
books; and, generally speaking, may equip himself in such a manner as
may enable him to keep house at full thirty per cent. cheaper than among
the European shop-keepers.

Though we may find a few trades, such as coach-making, jewellery,
cutlery, armoury, &c., perfectly distinct, and unconnected with any
other speculation, we are not to suppose that commodities, in general,
are separately classed, and exhibited in shops solely allotted to them.
On the contrary, what we call an ‘Europe-Shop,’ affords a rich display
of that heterogeneous kind of cargo imported in every merchant-ship
proceeding to that quarter. Consequently, each shop offers an
astonishing variety of wares. Liquors of all kinds, guns, pistols, glass
ware, tin and copper ware, crockery, stationary, shoes and boots,
hosiery, woollens, linens, ironmongery, hats, cheese, grocery, and an
infinity of articles of the most opposite natures, may be found in the
spacious rooms, and _godowns_, allotted to the exhibition of the
miscellaneous profusion!

Though it is not common to see European goods, especially those which
are not immediately perishable, selling for less than thirty or forty
per cent. advance upon the _salt-water_ invoices, it sometimes happens,
that an immense importation of some few particular articles may lower
them to full fifty per cent. under prime cost. This is easily accounted
for: for instance, should hats, shoes, and boots, bear a great price at
the time a fleet is about to be despatched for Europe, all the
commanders and officers note it down, for the purpose of making those
articles bear a large proportion in their next outward-bound cargoes.
Thus, each unwittingly becomes the dupe of his own avarice; and, on the
return of those ships to India, experiences the lamentable effects of
having allowed himself to be guided by former prices. I recollect
hearing an officer on board one of the Company’s ships declare, that he
made it a rule always to lay in a good stock of those articles which
were cheap at the time he quitted India: for, that he was certain the
lowness of the prices would influence the others of his class to avoid
purchasing them for the India markets, which, by the time of his return,
he invariably found to have regained their former level. By holding back
a little while, until the Europe shop-keepers found that he was the
sole, or, at least, the principal, importer of those goods, he had never
failed to make a very profitable bargain.

However much we, in Europe, may admire genuine china-ware, our
countrymen in the East seem, for the most part, indifferent to its
beauties; they preferring our ornamented Staffordshire ware; which,
owing to its bulk, and brittleness, necessarily sells at a very high
price in every quarter of India. What is called ‘a long set,’ by which
we mean a service equal to a table for at least thirty persons, often
sells for 500 sicca rupees, equal to £65.; and ‘short sets’ in
proportion. The disadvantage attendant upon the use of this ware, in so
remote a situation, is, that, when, owing to the numerous accidents to
which all such articles are subject, even under especial vigilance, but
particularly under the auspices of native menials, the set may be much
reduced, it is utterly impracticable to fill up the vacancies thus
occasioned. With china ware, it is very different; for it is not so easy
to distinguish between two complex patterns, if tolerably similar; and,
as there is always a very large stock on hand, among the retailers in
the _china-bazar_, a very great chance, if not a certainty, exists, of
being furnished with any number of plates, dishes, &c., that may be
required to restore the set to its complement, or even to augment it, if
necessary. It may be a proper precaution, however, not to buy a set of
china ware of any very particular pattern; but to select one from those
numerous rich patterns every where common, and annually imported. This
seems to prove, that, unless under particular orders, the Chinese
deviate but little from their established fashions; as may be further
seen in their constant manufacture of that kind of crockery we generally
term ‘dragon-china,’ which appears to have been in use among them for

A very expensive article of general consumption is wax-candle. The price
of wax, some years back, was about sixteen rupees per maund, (equal to
6_d._ per lb.,) but, of late years, it has more than trebled, in
consequence of the encreased demand. Here we see that want of system
which too often tends to annihilate what might, under due regulation, be
made a most advantageous concern. It is necessary to be understood, that
honey is of little value in India, the natives considering it
unwholesome, and the Hindus being particularly averse to destroying so
many lives, for the purpose of robbing their combs. These circumstances
tend to diminish the collection of wax, which, in some districts, hangs
for years neglected upon the briars in the jungles; and, added to the
jealousy of the _zemindars_, (or land-holders,) who rarely omit to exact
a very smart duty upon whatever is taken from their soil, deters those
who possess a spirit of enterprize from becoming dealers in wax. I have
not a doubt but that half a million of maunds might be annually
collected, if proper encouragement were held out, and a sale insured to
the adventurers, at any particular towns in the several districts where
bees are abundant. Within the last twenty years, a few Europeans have
established manufactories of wax-candles, which often sell for eighty
rupees per maund (82lb). This, though an excessive price, compared with
that formerly prevalent, comes to rather less than 2_s._ 6_d._ per lb.;
and, as the wax is always pure, it should seem, that, as an article of
commerce, much profit might be derived from importation. At present,
wax-candles are prohibited, although the price of raw bees’-wax is here
up to near 4_s._, and tallow at a very exorbitant height. I am greatly
mistaken, if the benefits this branch of business is capable of
yielding, both to the nation, and to individuals, are properly

To place this in a proper point of view will require but little detail;
for, if we say that wax candles, of the first quality, can be offered
for sale at Calcutta for £13. per cwt., and that raw wax sells with us
at 3_s._ 6_d._ per lb., or £19. 12_s._ per cwt., it is obvious that the
manufactured article might be imported to us at full 50 per cent.
cheaper than the raw material can be obtained on our own soil. Let us
compute this on the large scale; comparing the manufactured articles,
and making allowances for the fair value of the raw materials in either


       A ton of wax candles of Indian manufacture,   even
       at the high price of 80 rupees (_i.e._   £10.) per
       maund of 82lb. would be                               260

       Freight, shipping, charges, and insurance, per ton     25

       Wharfage, &c., on landing, per ton                      5


                             Total                           290

       A ton of wax candles of European manufacture,   at
       £28. per cwt., equal to 5s. per lb.                   560


       Difference in favor of the Indian candles, per ton   £270


       Raw wax may be had at Calcutta for about   forty
       rupees per maund, or rather under £7.   per cwt.
       which brings the ton to                               140

       Freight, &c., as above                                 30



       Whereas, the raw wax produced, in England,
       generally sells for about 3s. 6d. per lb. or
       £19. 12s. per cwt., or, per ton                       392


       Giving a balance in favor of Indian wax, of,   per
       ton                                                  £222

I have not made any allowance for duties; but it will be seen from the
above very simple calculation, that a very heavy impost might be laid on
either the raw material, or the manufactured article, without reducing
the profit so low as to leave no encouragement to the speculator. Let
us, however, set it down at £60. per ton, which is an enormous sum, and
say, that, in consequence of the great importation, wax should fall
one-third in price. This fall would reduce the ton of candles to £380.,
from which deduct the £60. duty, and there would be left £320.; so that,
after paying the £290. of cost and incidental charges, no less than £30.
would remain as the net profit on each ton. If we, in like manner, take
one third, say £132. from the £392. to result from the sale of the raw
material, and £40. more for duties, we reduce the net profits from £222.
to £50. In either way the speculation is highly interesting, and
requires only to be thoroughly examined to insure attention. I am not,
at this moment, prepared to say what may be the amount of duties
collected on wax, or of the excise on the manufacture of candles, but
apprehend that it must fall very short of what might be realized if wax
candles were more generally used in the houses of opulent persons. Some
forty years ago, when wax candles sold for three shillings per pound,
they were in great request. If, however, we calculate for the
importation of 3,000 tons of wax annually, in its raw state, paying a
duty of £40. per ton, we should find a result of no less than £120,000.

The foregoing estimate stands entirely on the present high prices of wax
in India, but which might, by proper regulations, be reduced to
one-third. Thus, if it were stipulated that the rents of certain
districts should be payable, to a particular extent, in crude wax, at a
fixed valuation, the quantity brought to market might, I am fully
confident, be equal to what I have already stated, viz. 500,000 maunds,
or 18,750 tons, which, taken at £200. only per ton, when landed, would
give a national benefit equal to £3,750,000! and a revenue of £650,000.
arising from the duty, at £40. per ton on the raw material!

When it is recollected how dependent we have been on other nations for a
supply of tallow; and that, on an average of peace and war, we pay
nearly £80. per ton for foreign tallow; also, that one wax candle of
equal weight will burn out two of tallow; it should seem evident, that
the importation of wax from our settlements abroad, as well as from
various Indian islands, in which it is abundantly produced, should
become an object of national consideration. The very unpleasant scent
attendant upon the use of tallow, and its great aptitude to gutter in so
hot a climate, occasion its use to be confined to those Europeans whose
circumstances may not permit them to use wax. This occasions all who
return from India, after long residence there, to be extremely
incommoded by the smell of mould candles; the smoke of which is, to
them, peculiarly offensive, and strongly calls to mind the _cheraugs_,
or oil-lamps, in common employ among the natives, and in the _zenanahs_
of Europeans.

The whole of the doors and windows being thrown open, during the
evenings especially, it would be impossible to prevent the current of
air, passing through every part of the interior, from extinguishing the
several lights, were it not that large glass covers, called shades, were
applied by way of preventives. Some of these shades are made to stand on
pillars, or pedestals, generally of wood, with brass ferules, and having
broad plinths, either square or circular, to prevent their being easily

The other kind of table-shade is by no means so convenient as that just
described, it being an irregular tube, standing on its base, or broader
extremity; and, though spreading in the centre, drawing narrower toward
the upper part. This kind requires to be much longer, so as to shelter
the flame of a candle standing on a candlestick, which should not,
properly, be more than six inches in height. The inconveniences by which
this shade is attended are self-evident; as it cannot be carried about,
or lifted, _in toto_, as the pedestal shade may be. Those lights which
are affixed to the walls, either on sconces, or brackets, or that are
suspended from hooks, are generally on the same principle; with this
necessary difference, that oil is chiefly burnt in such, by means of a
small glass tumbler half filled with water, on which the oil floats, and
supports a very slight tin tube with four tin wings, to each of which a
piece of cork is affixed. During the rainy season, when insects of every
description are beyond credibility numerous, it is often absolutely
necessary to remove all lights from the supper table; otherwise moths,
flies, bugs, &c., would be attracted in such numbers as to extinguish
them altogether, but, at all events, to prove extremely obnoxious. When
the lights are retained on the table, it is customary to place the
candlesticks in soup plates, &c., filled with water: by this means, such
insects, especially the stinking-bugs, which fly with great force, are
often precipitated and drowned: it is not unusual to catch whole
platefuls in this manner, which would otherwise continue to torment the
company. Nothing can exceed the irritation produced by these bugs when
they get into the hair, or between the linen and the body! Nor are they
in themselves innocent; for, though they neither bite nor sting, such is
the acrimony they possess, that, if bruised in such manner as to leave
any moisture on the skin, great heat, and sometimes blisters, followed
by excoriations that do not quickly heal, may take place. The same
effect is produced by the urine of lizards, which frequent the interior
of houses, and may often be seen in great numbers crawling about the
walls, or on the ceiling, (if we may so term the roofs already
described,) in pursuit of the smaller and more delicate insects, which
they snap up with great dexterity and greediness. It is really amusing
to observe with what sagacity and care they approach their prey, and
with what rapidity they dart forth their long tongues armed with gluten.
With respect to frogs, toads, and, occasionally, snakes, patrolling
about the skirts of the apartments, even of the best houses in the
country, they must be put up with as matters of course; as must also the
alighting of cock-roaches on the face while at table, or at cards, &c.:
nor, indeed, must the resident in India be very squeamish in regard to
bats, which freely indulge in aëriel circuits over the heads of the
company, on which, too, they now and then find it convenient to halt
awhile, without undergoing the previous ceremony of obtaining
permission. These all appear terrible drawbacks, but are scarcely
noticed after awhile: so strong is the power of habit. Certainly a very
considerable portion of the enjoyments, which might otherwise be
indulged in, are, in a manner, proscribed by these nuisances; but,
whether it be owing to that _ennui_ generally prevalent, or to that kind
of reconciliation which takes place between the pest and its sufferer,
may be difficult to determine; we, however, see all the old residents
treat insects, frogs, toads, &c., with great indifference; though, to be
sure, when a snake, of whatever class, makes his entrée, an astonishing
degree of activity, far beyond what the former lethargic symptoms could
indicate, suddenly prevails.

I have several times seen large snakes coiled, or rather twined, among
the Venetians of _bungalow_ windows, and have observed that the
grass-snake, which is of a beautiful green, with a reddish head, is
partial to secreting itself under the leaves of tables, and, in
situations of that description, where it may be easily dislodged, or
touched, by accident. Such a propensity is peculiarly obnoxious in a
serpent whose bite is generally fatal. This snake may occasionally be
seen twisted round the smaller boughs of trees, whence, if disturbed, it
drops with great readiness, and proceeds along the tops of the grass
with admirable celerity, and, owing to the similarity of its color,
scarcely allowing the dazzled eye to follow its course.

The _Cunjoors_ carry a great variety of serpents about the country,
which they are in the habit of exhibiting to families for a mere trifle.
Some, such as the _adjghur_ or _boa-constrictor_, which has been known
to reach the immense length of thirty feet, destroy by the extent of
their bite, or by compression; while the lesser species seem to be
provided with poison to make up for their deficiency of bulk. The
skeleton of an _adjghur_ was found near Chittagong, about forty years
ago, having in its fauces the skeleton of a full-grown deer; the horns
of which, it was supposed, had occasioned the suffocation of its
unwieldy devourer. I have seen one of this kind that required eight men
to lift him into his basket! An operation to which, either from habit,
or fatigue, it submitted with great resignation. The _covra capella_, is
the same as the hooded-snake of America, thus designated from a peculiar
spreading of the throat when in a state of irritation, so as to give it
much resemblance to a flounder, but with a curious figure extremely
similar to a pair of spectacles, which, being under the throat, is fully
exhibited as the snake rises, as he is wont to do, nearly half his
length, before he darts upon the object of resentment. These snakes are
peculiarly venomous, and, though averaging from three to five feet, are
seen to attain a larger size. I have shot four in one day, namely, two
males, of a black, or deep bottle green; and two females, ordinarily of
a clay color; which measured from six to nine feet. A few years ago, I
saw one exhibited by the _Cunjoors_, or _Saumpareahs_, (_i.e._
snake-men,) which actually measured about thirteen feet! The _daumeen_
grows to a large size, perhaps eight to twelve feet, but has no venomous
teeth, or fangs. He lashes with his tail, coiling into a bow, and
awaiting the approach of dogs, men, &c., before he lashes; which he does
with such severity as often to cut the integuments very deeply. The
natives entertain an opinion that the tail of this snake is venomous;
and it might be supposed, from the almost certainly fatal effects
produced by its operation, that it were so; but I have always attributed
the mischief occasioned thereby, to that laceration produced by a very
rough scaly body, such as the tail is, proceeding with great force over
parts well known to be peculiarly irritable; occasioning a strong
tendency to that most horrible affection the _tetanus_, or locked-jaw,
from which not one in a thousand recovers. The _covra manilla_ rarely
grows to more than fifteen or eighteen inches, and is of a mottled
appearance, very indicative of its deleterious property: if I err not,
its bite is invariably fatal. The double-headed snake receives that name
from its body being nearly cylindrical, the tail terminating in a short
cone, resembling a second head. This snake is chiefly seen in hilly
countries, but is occasionally washed down by the annual floods, to the
plains, where it is found in drains and hollows, from which it does not
appear to be over-well qualified to escape. Its average length may be
from two to three feet, and its thickness, or circumference, from four
to six inches.

It may be acceptable to my readers, while upon this subject, to be
informed of the antidote; viz. the volatile alkali, or eau de luce. A
few drops of this diluted sufficiently in a wine glass full of water, if
taken in time, and repeated every two or three hours, or even more
frequently, has been known to counteract the venom after its effects had
been so fully ascertained as to leave but little chance of recovery. I
never went out shooting without a small bottle of this, closed by a
ground stopper, in my tin box of apparatus. Fortunately, although I have
been repeatedly in imminent danger, and had snakes dancing the hayes all
around me, no occasion ever presented itself for having recourse to my
precautionary bottle!

The following extracts, from a very interesting communication made by W.
Boag, Esq. to the Asiatic Society, will set this matter in a proper
form, and qualify any person to judge of the danger, from the several
symptoms prevalent, in ordinary cases, when the venom takes effect. It
may be proper to premise, that many who have been bitten by snakes of
the worst description have not been affected; merely owing to the
thickness of their cloathing, by which the noxious fluid has been

Mr. Boag informs us, that ‘The symptoms which arise from the bite of a
serpent, are, commonly, pain, swelling, and redness in the part bitten;
great faintness, with sickness at stomach, and sometimes vomiting,
succeed; the breath becomes short and laborious; the pulse low, quick,
and interrupted: the wound, which was at first red, becomes livid,
black, and gangrenous; the skin of the wounded limb, and sometimes of
the whole body, assumes a yellowish hue; cold sweats and convulsions
come on, and the patient sinks, sometimes in a few hours, but commonly
at the end of two, three, or four days.

‘This is the usual progress when the disease terminates fatally; but,
happily, the patient will most commonly recover; a reflection which
should moderate the fears of those who happen to be bitten by snakes,
and which, at any rate, should, as much as possible, be resisted; as the
depressing passion of fear will, in all cases, assist the operation of
the poison.

‘The volatile alkali is the remedy mostly employed by physicians, both
in India and in Europe; but the belief which formerly prevailed, that it
possessed some specific power, which corrected the poison, seems to be
now very generally relinquished; and it is now acknowledged to have no
other action than that ascribed to it by Mr. Williams, (of Benares,) of
stimulating the vascular system to a more vigorous exertion.

‘The calces, or, as they are more properly called, the oxyds of some
metals, as arsenic, mercury, and silver, have been made use of; the
efficacy of which, as remedies in this disease, merit a more attentive

‘We are indebted to FONTAUA for any knowledge we possess regarding the
use of the lunar-caustic; which is a preparation of silver in the
nitrous acid; and, considering the length of time that has elapsed since
his publication, and the advantages resulting from its use, it is
wonderful it has not excited more general attention.

‘He first mixed the venom with the lunar-caustic, applied this mixture
to a wound, and found that the venom was rendered entirely innocent,
while the corroding power of the caustic was diminished. He next wounded
a variety of animals, with venomous teeth, scarified the wounds, and
washed them with a solution of lunar-caustic in water: by this means,
the lives of the greatest number of the animals were saved, though they
were such as he knew to be most easily killed by the poison, and the
death of others was retarded. He also tried a weak solution, of the same
remedy, internally, with remarkable success, and, upon the whole, he
congratulates himself in seeing his labors at length rewarded, by the
discovery of a true specific remedy for the bites of serpents.

‘A ligature should, as soon as possible, be made above the part bitten,
so as to impede, but not entirely to stop, the circulation of the blood;
for the bite of a serpent is, for the most part, superficial, and the
poison is carried into circulation by the smaller vessels on the
surface; the wound should then be scarified, and washed in a solution
(rather weak) of the lunar-caustic in water.’

Mr. Boag recommends a warm bath for the limb bitten, and thinks the
addition of a small quantity of nitrous acid would produce excellent
effects. He speaks of it only as a suggestion, and, where time may
admit, and the means be at hand, there certainly ought to be a fair
trial made of so promising a theory: the misfortune is, that, owing to
the great heat of the climate, and the dread ever entertained of the
result, all the symptoms proceed with rapidity. That gentleman speaks of
several hours elapsing between the accident, and the fatal termination;
but my own experience satisfies me, that not one in ten of those bitten
during the hot months, and especially when at work, or heated with
travelling, &c., survive more than one hour: I have, indeed, seen
various cases, in which half that time was the utmost; and could adduce
some instances of persons dying within the _quarter_ of an hour.

Though snakes certainly, for the most part, endeavor to avoid the human
race, they have been known to come very fiercely to the attack. No
doubt, when this has happened, some previous irritation has occurred, or
they have been pursued by the ichneumon; (_i.e._ the _benjy_, _bissy_,
or _neoule_,) which is to be seen wild in every part of India, and may,
at times, be found contending with snakes of great bulk. This active
little animal, the natural enemy of all serpents, as well as of the
smaller kinds of vermin, worries his opponent by incessant feints, as
though he were about to seize its throat, and, in time, so fatigues, as
to render it unable to resist with its primary celerity and caution.
When the snake is in that state, the ichneumon rushes forward, and, by
seizing its throat, or the back of its head, soon lays the envenomed
reptile lifeless at its command. It sometimes happens that the ichneumon
receives a bite, when he immediately relinquishes his object, and seeks
among the neighbouring verdure for some root, of which he eats, and,
after rolling himself in the soil, returns to the charge with unabated
keenness. Should the snake have retired, the little quadruped speedily
scents him out, and rarely fails to revenge himself for his past danger.
What it is the animal has recourse to, never has been ascertained; of
course, remains among our other important desiderata. The ichneumon is
not only domesticated with facility, if obtained at an early age, but
becomes extremely affectionate. Neither rats nor snakes will enter a
house in which a tame ichneumon is retained, and allowed, as is usual,
to range about at pleasure. The _Saumpareahs_, or snake-men, keep one,
or more, for the purpose of exhibiting their feats in the attack of

It is wonderful how accurately a _Saumpareah_ will ascertain, merely by
smelling at a hole in a wall, &c., whether a snake be within. If such
should be the case, the reptile’s fate may be considered as decided;
for, what with the music of a rude species of oboe, and the allurement
of various drugs, in which _dunneah_, a species of coriander, among
which snakes delight to bask, are prevalent, he soon comes forth, and is
either taken in a bag, or by an assistant snatching hold of his tail
with one hand, and sliding the other with great rapidity up to its
throat; which, being constricted by the grasp, occasions the fangs to be
exposed: these being extracted, the captive is added to the stock of

Though diminutive, in regard to corporeal extent, the musquito may be
considered a most formidable enemy to the repose of almost every thing
possessing animation, but especially to Europeans; whose manner of
living generally gives a considerable tendency to general, as well as to
local, inflammation. In this I speak relatively; for, when we compare
the habits of our countrymen with those of the natives, we shall find
that a very great difference prevails, and that, what we might in Europe
call moderation, may, in Asia, very properly be construed into excess.
This difference is so great, that, in ordinary cases, the physicians’
first care is to lower the temperament of his British patient, thereby
to repress the usual tendency towards inflammation; especially in
persons of a plethoric habit, or lately arrived from Europe; while, on
the contrary, it generally requires some effort to keep the frugal
native from sinking under that _typhus_ to which he is most subject.

Musquitoes generally remain inactive during the day, retiring to the
borders of some muddy pool, or stinking drain, where they deposit their
_ova_, which, in a few days, produce a noxious million, that may be seen
in their several stages, at most times of the year, and especially
during the hot season, when such puddles are often both replete with,
and covered by, young musquitoes.

These unpleasant companions not only make a very disagreeable humming,
but thrust their trunks, the same as the common knat does his proboscis,
between the threads of a stocking, &c.; and, while sucking the blood of
their victim, cause a very smarting sensation, which does not
immediately cease; if scratched, a musquito-bite will usually rise into
a small white, hard lump; which, on further provocation, proceeds to
suppurate; frequently degenerating into very obstinate sores. Instances
have occurred of very serious consequences being entailed, by an
unguarded indulgence granted to the nails at the moment of irritation.

Every bed, (commonly called a _cot_,) is furnished with a set of inner
curtains, made of gauze, manufactured for that purpose in several parts
of Bengal, and known by the name of _koppradool_. These curtains, being
very thin, and generally of a green color, serve not only to debar
access to the musquitoes, but, without much obstruction to the air,
offer a pleasant medium between the eye, and any glare which may either
enter directly from the exterior, or be reflected by the walls; which,
in most houses, are white, as already explained in describing the
European architecture of the East.

It is always expedient to have these curtains put up before it is dark;
otherwise musquitoes, being then on the wing, will, if possible, find
their way to the interior; whence it is not very easy to fan them out.
Besides, by this easy precaution, it is not very practicable for snakes,
or rats, to get under the pillows, or into the bed; situations in which
they have occasionally been found. The rats are often induced to burrow
into the pillows, which are usually stuffed with the silky-cotton called
_seemul_, wherein the seeds are left, and, by their oily nature, attract
this description of vermin in particular. The females sometimes resort
to it when about to bring forth their young: hence, it is not uncommon
to find the old lady in possession of a pillow, or bolster, or,
eventually, of the mattress; especially if no person has slept on them
for a few nights. On board _budjrows_, rats are often very troublesome,
destroying boots, shoes, &c., without mercy: I have frequently felt
them, during the night, attacking the powder and pomatum at the back of
my head. Of this the cock-roach also is very fond, but the sensation it
produces is nothing more than a tickling, as though the fingers of
another person were introduced among the hair; whereas, a rat makes a
more desperate attack, often giving a strong pull, or, occasionally,
knawing at the accumulated grease, which adheres to the head itself.
Though I made it a rule always to have my bed-cloaths stripped off, and
my pillows turned over, before I got into bed, nothing of the serpent
kind was ever discovered, though many rats and mice were at times
dislodged. Other persons have not been so fortunate; my own experience
has made me acquainted with various instances of snakes being found in
beds whereon gentlemen were about to repose. A very curious circumstance
happened many years back, of a lady being called by her servant to see a
snake that lay very contentedly between two of her infants, which slept
on a small cot. It may be readily supposed their perilous situation
produced the most dreadful anxiety. With great fortitude, and presence
of mind, she directed the menial to go to one side of the bed, and to
seize one of the children by a leg and an arm, while she did the same
with the other; and thus to snatch them away. This was a bold measure,
and possibly saved the little ones from injury; but, had the mother
caused a chaffing dish to be brought into the apartment, and set thereon
some milk to boil, the smell of it would instantly have caused the snake
to creep out, for the purpose of partaking of his favorite food. Though
all snakes are peculiarly fond of a certain warm temperature, inclining
to summer heat, they will, in general, take to the water very freely,
especially when pursued. Many persons pretend to distinguish such as are
venomous, by their aversion thereto; but such is very fallacious. I have
repeatedly seen _covra capellas_ dart into puddles, and ponds, with
seeming eagerness. It is extremely dangerous to proceed along path-ways,
leading through grass covers, or _jungles_, at night; as, at that time,
numbers of snakes will quit the heavy grass for the purpose of lying in
the current of air, which necessarily proceeds along those paths whose
sides are confined, perhaps to the height of several feet, by grass and
underwood, and cause them to resemble the vistas cut through coppices,

From what has been said above, many may be led to suppose, that, in
India, every step is attended with danger; and, that neither the day,
nor the night, offers security. This certainly is not always the case;
but I should strongly advise every person to act throughout with
caution; and to suppose these dangers I have described to be imminent.
This, though it may not be comfortable, will generally insure safety.
With regard to scorpions, centipedes, &c., too much circumspection
cannot be used. In some parts of the country they are very numerous,
capable of inflicting great pain, and of producing very severe local
inflammation. Instances have been known of serious indisposition having
been induced by the stings of scorpions in particular. The young ones
are generally of a yellowish, or dun, or clay color; as they advance in
growth, they gradually become darker, until they acquire a bottle color.
Though very rare, I have seen a few of these which measured nearly eight
inches from the mouth to the point of the sting, which much resembles a
large dark-colored thorn from a rose-bush. There are, however, two kinds
of scorpions, of which that species above described is certainly the
most formidable; fortunately, it is seldom to be seen in places much
frequented: the other kind may often be seen by dozens in the folds of a
tent, &c., laid by in a dark place among old rubbish; and, not
unfrequently, in the cracks of old mud walls. Many a poor servant, in
walking about a house at night, or in rummaging among old stores, gets
stung by the _beeçhu_ (scorpion). The part affected generally swells,
and smarts, or, rather aches, considerably: but the remedy is easy; a
rag moistened with vinegar affording speedy relief. The same application
is equally proper in case of being bitten by a _centipede_, called by
the natives _kaungoojer_; from the opinion entertained that it is apt to
creep into the ear. That such _may_ have taken place, cannot be denied;
but it would, I believe, prove extremely difficult to produce a
well-authenticated instance. The centipede is by no means calculated for
such an insinuation; he being of some breadth, and growing, rather
quickly, to such a size as must preclude the possibility of his getting
into the ear: I have seen several measuring nine and ten inches in
length; and as broad, though not above a third so thick, as a man’s
finger: we may consider half those dimensions to constitute the ordinary

Wasps and hornets are every where abundant during the whole year: the
latter commonly nestle in the ground, or in the hollow of a tree, or
perhaps form a small cell in some corner, or under a thatch, and there
deposit their larvæ. The former are sometimes seen in such numbers as to
occasion considerable uneasiness; they not only make their nests within
the walls of _bungalows_, if, by means of cracks, or of distances
between wood-work, they should find the opportunity, but boldly
construct their combs within the apartments; sometimes attached to a
cornice, but most generally in one of the upper corners of a window
frame, so as to have ready means of retiring. The destruction of these
intruders is not always practicable, without considerable danger. The
best mode is to cover a man well up in a blanket, and to place on his
head a pot of embers, on which a lump of sulphur is laid; so that, by
standing under the comb, the fumes may stupify, or at least expel, the
wasps; after which the comb may be removed without difficulty. The
greatest danger is when the wasps take possession of some spot very near
to the thatch; for instance, if they attach their dwelling to one of the
rafters. When it is considered, that half the thatches are extremely
decayed, and take fire like tinder, it must be obvious how delicately
the operation should be managed: in such case, a slow match, made to
contain a large portion of sulphur, and fastened to the end of a pole,
is, perhaps, the most secure device; for, if a single spark were to fly
into the thatch, it probably would, like Doctor Slop’s wig, be ‘nearly
consumed before it were well kindled!’

Bees are by no means so bold as wasps and hornets, but they frequently
take possession of some bush, or even of several parts of a hedge around
a garden, especially one well stocked with flowers; rendering it unsafe
to approach that quarter. The combs are sometimes large, but may,
perhaps, on the average, when full, weigh from four to ten pounds. No
bees are domesticated in India; at least I never heard of an apiary of
any description; though, from the great abundance of food to be had at
all seasons, it might prove very easy to maintain them properly. The
truth is, that wild honey is so cheap and abundant as to preclude the
necessity for taking any further pains to obtain it, than merely cutting
the combs away from their thorny defences.

Bugs, such as infest our beds in Europe, are beyond imagination numerous
throughout the East. Every _charpoy_, (or bedstead,) of whatever size,
or description, in use among the natives, swarms with them! Hence, it is
next to impossible to prevent their getting among the furniture, and
especially into the boxes, drawers, &c., in which cloaths are kept; and
the most careful, cleanly person, may sometimes find a stray bug
crawling upon his linen, or lying concealed among the plaits. Musquito
curtains are, on this account also, very useful; but they should be
searched daily, lest any stragglers, &c., be on them. Perhaps the best
defence against these nasty tormentors, is that in general use as a
preventive against the visits of ants, centipedes, &c.; viz. causing the
four posts of a bed to stand each upon a stone, perhaps a foot in
diameter, and five or six inches deep, wherein a deep trough is cut,
which, being kept full of water, insulates each post. Some use metal
pans, which certainly have a neater appearance, and secure the carpet,
mat, &c., from being injured by the damp; which sometimes will find its
way, more or less, through stone, however hard.

The natives rarely have posts to their bedsteads; though a few,
occasionally, affix a kind of tester, by means of a staple, at the head;
those who could afford the best furniture, and every convenience, are
more pleased when attended by a slave, or menial, who, with a small
_punkah_, (or fan,) gently agitates the air, and keeps off flies and
musquitoes. It scarcely need be pointed out how offensive such a
practice may occasionally prove, and that when the servant drops asleep
while performing his tedious office, the master generally will be
awaked. Some, of the natives especially, cannot go to sleep without
being lulled thereto, by means of an operation called by Europeans
_shampoing_. This consists in a gentle pressure of the feet and legs, as
also of the arms and hand, or, occasionally, of the body also, between
the hands of the operator, who passes either slowly, or rather rapidly,
according to the fancy of his, or her, master, from one part to another.
That considerable relief is obtained from _shampoing_, cannot be
doubted; I have repeatedly been restored surprizingly from severe
fatigue, as well as from a certain langor and watchfulness, common in
hot climates, and no doubt proceeding from indigestion, or from a
nervous affection, merely by having my feet gently pressed in this
manner. It is curious, that Captain Cook should have found this custom
to be prevalent in the Island of Tongataboo, where it is called
‘_toogey-toogey_,’ in allusion to the beating of a drum with the fists.
Now, the common small drums used in India, which are suspended in front
of the body, are called ‘_doog-doogies_,’ and, in some places, the
natives of India, _shampo_, by beating with the fists, calling the
operation, not by the common term _debounah_, (or pressing,) but
_doogaunah_. It is a question whether the latter term be a corruption,
or a derivative from the _doog-doogy_. A similar practice obtains in
Egypt, and, indeed, throughout the Turkish empire; especially at the
baths, where _shampoing_ is considered a matter of course. If my memory
be correct, Captain Cook was relieved from a severe rheumatic complaint
by an operation of this description; with this difference, that, in lieu
of soothing pressure, the parts affected were not beat gently, but
squeezed forcibly, between the hands. I have somewhere read, that
_gouty_ pains were in like manner removed; but should conclude, that
such could only be flying pains; for the tenderness of parts locally
attacked by the gout, could not, I apprehend, be invaded, without
subjecting the party to excruciating torture.

Setting apart the benefits which may occasionally be derived from
_shampoing_, we may consider it as one of those luxuries which, like the
_hookah_, the snuff-box, the brandy-bottle, &c., become so habitual as
to plunge us into indescribable uneasiness whenever they may be out of
our reach; of course, it is prudent to avoid being _shampoed_, except
when a kind of restlessness, or watchfulness, is induced by excess, of
any description. In such case, immediate relief is often of great
importance; but it may be proper not to have recourse to the indulgence
except on emergency, since its effects are gradually lessened by
repetition, and the want of a menial to perform the operation may cause
much irritation and disquietude.

The greatest attention is requisite to aërate every apartment in a
proper manner daily; without that precaution, all the aids of
_champoing_, of musquito-curtains, water-pots, bathing, &c., will be of
little avail, as fevers and obstructions of the liver invariably follow,
whenever the atmosphere within a chamber is allowed to become foul: I
know not, indeed, any thing more weakening, or more destructive to the
constitution, than sleeping in one that is deficient in point of
ventilation; and to continue in such, after being, in any degree,
indisposed, is little less than absolute insanity! Nothing will be found
to contribute more to health than sleeping cool; adverting, at the same
time, to the precautions already laid down, not to place the cot so that
any forcible current of air should pass over it, lest perspiration be
obstructed, and the worst consequences be induced. The winter months
will often dictate the use of one, or perhaps two, good thick blankets;
while the summer heats will cause the rejection of all bed-cloathing
above the body; occasioning the general use of long drawers, which, for
the most part, are made of thin silk, or of fine calico: some have them
made with feet, thereby effectually preventing musquitoes from biting in
that quarter, but, to me, such were always extremely unpleasant.

During the hottest part of the year, many dispense with their shirts,
but retain their _banians_, or under-shirts, the skirts of which are
confined by the long drawers, which are usually fastened by a drawing
cord of silk. Early rising is particularly to be recommended, for the
purpose of taking exercise before breakfast. Among military persons this
salutary practice is generally inculcated _malgré lui_; and, among
civilians, ought to be so, by the additional motive of having the
forenoon devoted to office attendance, or to whatever duties may demand

The amusements offered to Europeans in India are by no means numerous,
nor are they of any continuance; the climate, the localities, and the
occupations, of all, rendering it impossible to partake of such variety,
or in such comfort, as we enjoy in Europe. Calcutta can boast of a very
tolerable theatre, centrically situated, and spacious enough to contain
as many spectators as are generally to be found within the town. This
was built about fifty years ago, by subscription, in shares of one
thousand rupees each; but, owing to the very heavy expences incurred in
getting up plays, which formerly depended entirely on the _penchant_ of
gentlemen, who performed all the characters, both male and female, the
debts became so very heavy, that the concern fell into disrepute, and
the shares were sold for half their original value.

It may seem strange, that, while no performers of any description were
employed, the house should get into debt; and, that since hirelings have
been engaged, it should have been in a more flourishing state. The
enigma is, however, easy of solution. Gentlemen of property, fashion,
and consequence, were not easily controlled; they would have new dresses
for every character, and were to be kept in humour by good suppers after
each rehearsal, some tickets for their friends, &c., &c., &c.; so that,
when all was reckoned up, the receipts were invariably less than the
disbursements. It is true that a gold-mohur (2 guineas) was the price of
a box admission, that the pit was half a mohur, and the gallery a
quarter of a mohur; but the house was rarely full, and there were rarely
more than ten pieces performed during the whole year, and those
generally in December, January, and February. The house had cost a lac
of rupees (_i.e._ 100,000, equal to £12,500.) in building, and fitting
up; therefore, there was a constant demand for interest, _at twelve per
cent._, equal to £1,500. yearly; that, however, was commuted into silver
tickets, which necessarily diminished the receipts; causing the shares
to sink from money speculations into mere family conveniences.

The heavy incumbrances brought on by the above inconsiderate measures,
occasioned a necessity for letting out the theatre to any person who
would conduct the amusements in such manner as might prevent matters
from growing worse. This accordingly was done, and a spirit of
enterprize was created in the manager thus appointed by a majority of
the proprietors, whereby a great encrease took place in the
performances, which became chiefly dependant on professional persons
engaged at liberal salaries; while, at the same time, few gentlemen in
the Company’s service contributed the aid of their talents. This
secession was occasioned by the marked displeasure evinced by Marquis
Cornwallis towards all who took parts in the dramas: it threatened to
close the doors of the theatre. A competition arising about the same
time, produced an effect which accidentally sustained the speculation,
by causing an interest, indeed, a spirited party, to be formed, in favor
of the old house, which, in a very short time, triumphed, and caused the
opposition to give up.

With respect to the merits of the gentlemen performers, much may be
said: there certainly were among them some who might have appeared
before a London audience without any fear of disapprobation. The names
of Fleetwood, Messink, Norfor, Golding, Bigger, Call, Keasberry,
Robinson, &c., &c., will long be remembered by the lovers of the drama;
nor will they be easily effaced from the memory of those in whose hearts
their merits, as members of society, were deeply impressed. The scenery
was originally furnished from England, under the auspices of Garrick,
who sent out Mr. Messink for the purpose of regulating the theatre at
its out-set. Since that time, various additions have been made by
different artists of acknowledged ability, among whom, Mr. Battle may be
noticed as possessing superior talents, both in that important branch,
and in the representation of various interesting characters. It is,
however, to be expected, that, notwithstanding the great encrease of the
European population, by whom it is almost wholly supported, the theatre
must be sold off. This, though a severe privation, where every item in
the catalogue of public amusements is highly appreciated, will not fall
heavy on the proprietors. The facility with which the edifice might be
converted into a superb suite of offices, or into a magnificent
dwelling, would insure them the re-payment of their money; especially as
the quantity of land reserved around it, for the accommodation of
_palanquins_, &c., is extremely valuable: indeed, that alone must be
worth full the aggregate amount of the shares at their ordinary value;
which has generally been about forty or fifty per cent. under par.

The temporary theatres that have at various times been erected at the
several military stations, have always offered considerable
gratification to their several audiences. In these cheap ‘epitomes of
Roman greatness’ many a good play has been performed in an excellent
style, such as put us in mind of the mother-country, and occasioned many
a comparison by no means derogatory to the Asiatic boards. Exclusive of
the exertions of those officers who indulged themselves in this
recreation, many of the noncommissioned and privates of the European
regiments contributed richly to the catalogue of histrionic characters.
Some, though perhaps not gifted with grace, nor enriched by erudition,
nevertheless displayed an accurate discrimination of the authors’
intentions, and commanded the applause of their audiences; among whom, a
very large portion were competent judges of dramatic excellence.

The Calcutta race-course is situate about a mile and a half to the
southward of the town; it is by no means duly preserved, being
occasionally much injured by the carriages of gentlemen who frequent it
as a ride. It is true there is a clerk of the course; but he has no
power to enforce the observance of the rules laid down by the
Jockey-Club; he cannot, in fact, prevent the course from being miserably
defaced, and cut up; nor can he, even when the horses are running, keep
it clear from obstructions. This evil arises from a want of disposition
in the majority of those who frequent the place, to join in the sports,
or even to encourage them; hence, a want of courtesy is prevalent, and
the horses run under great disadvantages. It may be said, that, as they
run only during the cold months, when the turf is tolerably firm, little
injury is done by the carriages which travel over it; but, in answer to
this, it may be urged, that a rut, or track, made at that time, speedily
hardens, and becomes dangerous both to the horses and to their riders.
But, where few are interested, few will be considerate.

Many horses that have started at Calcutta would make no contemptible
figure even at Newmarket: according to the distance, and the time in
which the course has been run over, I have reason to believe, that a
few, which could be mentioned, might competite with the best of the
second class of British racers. Taking into consideration, that such are
entirely the result of chance purchases, and not from any care in
breeding, it may be fairly argued that the horses of India, by which I
mean those brought from Candahar, Lahore, the Maharrattah states, &c.,
possess considerable speed. Many, indeed, of that small indigenous
breed, which is usually held in contempt, especially on the turf, have
displayed very great powers, and distanced horses not only of
considerable value, but of high reputation. The race-grounds in other
parts of the country are not better preserved than that at the
Presidency; however, there is ample room for toleration, both because
there are few horses kept for running; the races, in those quarters,
being merely desultory, and the course generally marked out, _pro
tempore_, from some uncultivated spot; which, having a tolerable
surface, may answer the purpose of amusement for two or three days at

Though there are _tattoo_ (_i.e._ poney) races, at Calcutta, few of that
class are brought forward, except after very full proof of their
qualifications; in fact, the poney-races are often superior to those run
by the best cattle on the clerk’s register. At the out-stations,
matches, or sweepstakes, are made solely with the view to merriment, or
from whim, frolic, or periodical elevation after a hearty regale. Here
we see cause for mirth, and, not unfrequently, find a clumsy-looking
beast, with heavy heels, and a head like a yam, taking the lead of
‘trim-built wherries,’ that seem to challenge competition. I recollect a
curious instance of this: a very shabby, heavy-looking _tattoo_,
belonging to Captain Cæsar Jones, started in this adventitious manner,
and, to the surprize of all, fairly distanced several celebrated steeds.
He was sent to Calcutta, where his uncouth appearance caused him to be
ridiculed, but there was no standing against his speed and bottom.
Hence, he acquired the name of ‘TAKE-IN;’ a designation which the
knowing ones feelingly acknowledged to be highly appropriate! The spirit
for betting at races does not run very high in India; though there have
existed some characters who devoted their whole attention to this
species of gambling: but so little encouragement offers for speculations
on the turf, that, with the exception of a few fat _pigeons_, it may be
said no money has been made by racing: the wagers rarely exceed a few
gold-mohurs. Every horse becoming so thoroughly known to all the
sporting community, little opening is left for deception or contrivance.
The smallest indication of collusion would, in that quarter, prove
instantly fatal to reputation, and cause at least a shyness, if not an
absolute estrangement, on the part of society, towards the offending
individual. In Europe this would not be so much felt, because a man may
change his quarters, and, for a long time, screen himself from public,
or general disapprobation; but, in India, when an individual is _cut_ at
one station, he will rarely experience common civility at any other; his
character generally preceding him by many a day’s journey!

Gambling was formerly one of the most prominent vices to be seen in
Calcutta; but of late years has considerably diminished. Those who
recollect the institution of Selby’s Club, and who now contemplate the
very small portion of time dissipated, even by the younger classes, at
cards, &c., by way of ‘profit and loss,’ cannot but approve the salutary
reform introduced by Marquis Cornwallis, who, whatever may have been his
foibles, his prejudices, and his errors, in other matters, certainly was
entitled to the approbation of the Company, as well as to the gratitude
of their servants, for having checked so effectually a certain
licentious spirit, which had, till his arrival, been totally
uncontrolled, indeed, unnoticed, in any shape, by his predecessors.

To expect that any Governor should be able totally to annihilate every
bad practice, would be to consider him as vested with supernatural
powers; but, it is assuredly within the reach of every person bearing
that high office, to chace the abandoned into their secret recesses, and
to render them at least timid, if not innocent. By removing such
characters from office, and by persevering in resolution not to give
employments of emolument to any but the most assiduous, and correct, of
the Company’s servants, much may be, much has been, done. Common sense
points out the impropriety of allowing a gambler to occupy any office in
which either great trust, or particular application, and vigilance,
might be requisite; therefore, as the generality of the posts held under
the Company are of either one or other of those descriptions, or may
perhaps blend both, it stands to reason that a man whose brains are ever
casting the dice, and whose carriage rolls upon the four aces, never can
with safety be trusted.

Those who are partial to cards, as an amusement, may find abundance of
parties during the evenings, where, for the most part, tradrille and
whist (the favorite games) are played at such low stakes as not to be
productive of regret, or inconvenience. Quadrille is barely known in
India, nor are what we term ‘round-games’ much in use: cribbage is
played in some families, and, occasionally, loo. In all the above games,
the European inhabitants of Calcutta, as well as those dispersed over
the country, are generally proficient; far more so than we find persons
of the same description among us: a large portion are well acquainted
with chess, and back-gammon; and many excellent players at fives,
billiards, &c., are to be found in every quarter. Cricket is not much in
vogue; being confined principally to a club at Calcutta, and to some
occasional Christmas matches at the several army stations. On the whole,
though far less violent, as an exercise, than fives, it is less adapted
to the climate; the alternate successions of exertion, and of
inactivity, rendering the players liable to severe colds, and to
consequent obstructions.

Music, it might be thought, would prove a great source of gratification
in a country where _ennui_ is so much to be dreaded; but the climate is
unfavorable to instruments of every kind, especially to pianos, and
offers a most formidable bar to the indulgence of a musical ear. No
persons can be more liberal in their purchases of instruments, or of
select music, than the ladies of India; they often giving two hundred
pounds for a good grand-piano; but the incessant apprehension of warps,
and cracks, is a tremendous draw-back on the interest they feel in the
possession of even the best of its kind. Repairs, of every sort, whether
of violins, pianos, flutes, &c., are exorbitantly dear, and, even at
Calcutta, not always practicable; either owing to dissipation, the want
of some essential article, or the quantity of work in hand. Nor is it
easy to obtain the temporary accommodation of an instrument while one is
repairing, unless at such a rate as utterly precludes all of moderate
income from availing themselves of such an opportunity, when it may
chance to offer.

With respect to what is called ‘preparing an instrument for the
climate,’ much may certainly be done, by taking care that only the best
seasoned wood is employed, and by clamping the case with metal, both
within and without; but all this has little connection with the belly,
or sounding-board; which cannot be much strengthened without
considerably deteriorating the tone, and causing a piano to be in the
first instance condemned, for want of that richness which cannot be
given to one whose vibrations are obstructed. The only chance is, to
keep a piano well covered with blankets during the heats, as also in
very damp weather, and to uncloathe it gradually, when about to be
opened for performance. By such precautions, the instrument may remain
tolerably in tune, and not sustain much injury from the variations of
seasons: after two or three years the danger may be less; but it will be
prudent never to relax in point of prevention, lest the instrument
should suddenly fail.

With the exception of such little parties as, in a few families,
assemble during the afternoons to enjoy the pleasures arising from the
musical talents of some lady, Calcutta has little to offer in this
captivating branch of amusement. If we cast out of the account some
accidental quartetto parties, or the solitary warblings of some
flute-player, &c., the whole may be deemed a blank. Now and then a
subscription concert, for the benefit of some professor, who lives more
by means of eleemosynary bounty, than by the encouragement of his
abilities, calls the town together, not to listen to the notes, to the
fine melodies, and rich harmonies of Haydn, &c., but to see, and to be
seen, and to talk, and be talked to. In brief, India is not the soil to
which a man of science, or of taste, should repair, under the hope of
being liberally repaid for his trouble and expences; much less of being
cherished for his genius and acquirements. One or two insulated
exceptions are not to be adduced in refutation of my assertion: I am
ready to acknowledge, that, now and then, a professor has been seen
pampering under all the influence of high and boundless patronage; but
the _per contra_ shews a numerous list of those who have lingered
through all the penalties attendant upon humble merit, until the grave
has kindly terminated their ill-fated labors.

Assemblies, balls, routs, &c., or under whatever name dissipation,
vanity, and luxury, may arrange their concordance, are not very numerous
in India. The Governor-General, and the Members of Council, occasionally
circulate their invitations during the cold months; and, at times, some
spacious public rooms are engaged for the same purpose on speculation;
but I never understood that it proved lucrative.

It was not until about twenty years back that the British had any
regular church in Bengal, and now they have but one, which was built
partly by private aid, and partly by the profits arising—_from a
lottery_!!! The latter was, I understand, very forcibly opposed by one
or two gentlemen, who considered it as a very unbecoming mode of raising
supplies for so holy a purpose. When we reflect that a Portugueze
merchant built one, for the use of the Catholics, from his own purse;
and that, though he was accounted a rich man, yet his property could not
be compared with what various individuals, of our own nation, resident
in India, can boast; it may be fairly quoted, as a singular instance of
parsimony against our countrymen. Not that impiety or disrespect to
public worship can be urged against the settlement; for no church can be
better attended than that in question: the liberality of the inhabitants
was partially exemplified by the institution of a free-school, where a
number of children, both of Europeans, and of native mothers, are
educated in a very sufficient manner; a circumstance of considerable
moment where education is so dear.

This dearness should seem unreasonable, if we only take into account the
prices of provisions, which are very low; but we must carry in mind the
enormous rates of house-rent; and that, whatever may be the profession
in which persons proceeding to India engage, the return to Europe with a
comfortable independence is the main consideration. Supposing ten
thousand pounds to be gained in twenty years, by attention to his
pupils, it cannot be denied, that a pedagogue is barely rewarded for so
great a duration of slavery in such a climate, and at such a distance
from all his friends and connections. Whatever may be the merits of the
teachers, nothing could reconcile me to bringing up a child in India.
All so educated, are rendered unfit for the society of gentlemen who
have been brought up in Europe; they know nothing of the world, but,
while imitating the manners and customs of those they term their
countrymen, exercise all that craft which so peculiarly characterizes
the native youths. In a moral point of view, the detention of a child,
particularly a female, in India, is highly culpable; and when treated of
as a matter of economy, will, in the end, be found equally
objectionable. That the disadvantage under which parents labor, in
sending their children to Europe, is considerable, must be fully
admitted; and, it must also be acknowledged, that many may be able to
spare a certain monthly, or annual, sum towards education, which could
not be furnished at once. Such parents are to be pitied; because they
can rarely have a child creditably schooled at Calcutta for less than
fifty rupees (£75.) per mensem, all charges included; whereas, for about
half that sum, say for £40., a much better education could be given at
excellent schools in various parts of Britain. If we suppose £150. to be
expended in transmitting a child to Europe, and that the sum of £35. be
annually saved after arrival here, the difference, both principal and
interest, would be cleared off in about five years; while many important
advantages would be gained, and a thousand very obnoxious habits
avoided. The encrease of population has been followed by an augmentation
in the number of schools; but, if I judge correctly, the latter has been
rather beyond what the former should appear to authorize. The first
school that was set up in the vicinity of Calcutta, started about the
year 1780, under the charge of a Mrs. Hodges, who succeeded beyond the
expectations of her most sanguine patrons; and, in the course of about
twenty years, realized a very handsome fortune, with great credit to
herself; and, if marrying off at an early age be desirable, with great
advantage to numerous young ladies; who, in succession, entrapped the
hearts of sundry gay Lotharios, by whom her dancing-room was much
frequented. It would be cruel, and unjust, in the extreme, to assert
that young women brought up at such a seminary, were, in every respect,
inferior: it must be admitted, that they may dance, play the piano, work
at their needle, read, write, and cast accounts, and perhaps speak
French: all these may be done to admiration; but, alas! these are,
properly speaking, merely mechanical, and, though they may please for
awhile, never can give that zest depending solely on the enlargement of
the mind, and on some knowledge of the world. So true is this, that not
one in fifty of the girls thus brought up can hold conversation in any
way pleasing or interesting; and, which is worse, the other forty-nine
are very apt to be childish, vain, imperious, crafty, vulgar,
and—wanton! But they are, generally, well formed, pretty, active, gay,
and insinuating; therefore we must not wonder at the matches we see take
place, nor at the poverty they generally entail upon their husbands, by
a certain prolific propensity which may be said to characterize the
whole breed.

The several schools in and about Calcutta, may be considered on nearly
the same footing as in Europe; some dear, others more reasonable; some
good, others highly exceptionable. Most of them are well situated, so
far as relates to convenience and salubrity; but it appears to me, that
more than one of the seminaries for young ladies are subject to overlook
objects by no means suited to female delicacy, and, in a great measure,
derogatory to the judgment of those who selected such sites for their
establishments. Those academies which are about two or three miles out
of town, are certainly preferable in the above respect; while, at the
same time, they are not beyond the common distance to which bearers are
in the habit of conveying their employers on visits during the forenoon.

In a former part, I cursorily made mention of the old fort, in which
stood the Black-Hole, so famous in history. This fortress is now
converted into public-offices and warehouses, for both which purposes it
is admirably adapted, from the centrical situation it occupies, and from
the great solidity of the walls, &c. The defences are extremely simple,
and might answer well enough for the times in which they were
constructed, as well as for the prowess of the troops by which they were
likely to be attacked: being on the bank of the river Hoogly, a retreat
by water might easily be effected under the cover of shipping; and, by
the same means, supplies could generally be afforded. According to the
present system of warfare, and the probability of being attacked by an
European army, it would be unsafe to place the smallest reliance on the
old fort, further than as an immediate asylum in the event of
insurrection; in which case, many houses that now command the works must
be destroyed: this, owing to the want of cannon on the ramparts, would
not be an easy operation. The town is protected chiefly by Fort-William,
a more modern work, capable of containing at least fifteen thousand men;
the defences, indeed, require near ten thousand to man them properly.
The garrison ordinarily consists of two or three regiments of Europeans,
a battalion of artillery, with a very large establishment of artificers,
&c., attached to the arsenal, where stores of every description are
lodged in bomb-proofs. Provisions, equal to six months’ consumption, are
always kept in the fort. The native corps, intended to aid in the
defence, and of which the amount may be from four to five thousand, are
cantoned at Barrackpore, a station about sixteen miles from Calcutta, on
the banks of the river, and exactly facing the Danish town of Serampore.
Of these troops, about twelve hundred constantly do duty in the fort;
being relieved monthly in regular rotation. Fort-William is the grand
depôt of Bengal, and may be considered as the key to that part of the
Company’s possessions, if not to the whole; for it does not appear
probable that any effectual resistance could be made, if that fortress
were to fall into the hands of the enemy. Such a loss would infallibly
destroy the opinion now held of our prowess, and precipitate us from the
pinnacle of power, into an awful abyss of ruin!

As Mr. Hastings very properly stated, ‘our power in the East depends
entirely _on opinion_.’ When we consider the immense population over
which we hold control, with comparatively an insignificant force, and,
that that force is composed chiefly of natives, it must immediately
occur to us how necessary it is to satisfy our Asiatic subjects that our
sway is mild, and that, in submitting to us, they rescue themselves from
tyranny and extortion.

There may arise local circumstances wherein the possession of a strong
hold would be invaluable; and rescue us from the most imminent dangers.
Of this, our affair with Cheyt Sing is a most obvious and undeniable
proof: had not the fortress of Chimar, a place rather of reputed, than
of real, strength, been at hand, our force in that part must have been
annihilated; when the insurrection would infallibly have spread in every

Without entering into particulars, I shall give a brief statement of the
Company’s forces at their several presidencies; observing, that the
number of their European regiments has been considerably diminished,
amounting, nearly, to a total reduction, for the purpose of making way
for the introduction of king’s troops. With respect to the European
strength, therefore, it must be understood that no fixed establishment
exists: but the average amount of that branch, independent of the
Company’s battalions of artillery and infantry, may be taken at about
sixteen or eighteen thousand firelocks, including the cavalry.

        Presidencies.|Cavalry, Native, Regiments.
                     |   +——————————————————————————
                     |   |Infantry, Native, Regiments.
                     |   |   +——————————————————————
                     |   |   |Artillery, Battalions, European.
                     |   |   |   +——————————————————
                     |   |   |   |Infantry, Battalion, European.
                     |   |   |   |   +——————————————
                     |   |   |   |   |Marine, Battalions, Native.
        Bengal       | 8 |27 | 3 | 1 | 0
        Madras       | 8 |25 | 2 | 1 | 0
        Bombay       | 0 | 9 | 1 | 1 | 1

At each presidency, the native regiments are formed into two battalions,
with the same strength of European commissioned officers as are allotted
to one regiment of Europeans. A colonel commands each regiment, and
every battalion has attached to it one lieutenant-colonel, and one
major, together with a proportion of the captains and subaltern
officers. Two serjeants are allowed to each battalion, viz. one acting
as serjeant-major, the other under the quartermaster. The companies are
commanded by European officers, under whom, one _soubadar_, one
_jemmadar_, five _havildars_, five _naicks_, and ninety privates,
(_sepoys_,) are enrolled. The _soubadars_ and _jemmadars_ have
commissions, and are competent to sit on regimental, or line,
courts-martial for the trial of natives, whether in the military
service, or camp followers. The _havildars_ correspond in rank and
duties with our serjeants, and the _naicks_, with our corporals. Each
battalion has two grenadier, and eight battalion companies: no recruit
is taken whose age exceeds twenty-five, or whose stature does not reach
to five feet six inches and a half, or, more generally, to five feet
seven inches; unless on emergency, or when obvious juvenility warrants
the acceptance of an under-sized candidate; who, generally, being well
fed, and taught to stand erect, in the course of drilling over-tops the
standard of admission.

Reference to the table of pay and allowances in the Directory, will
prove useful to those who may proceed to India, and may serve to guide
those who are not acquainted with the particulars of income in that
quarter. The usual exchange is two shillings and sixpence per _sicca_
rupee, about five per cent. better than the _sonaut_ rupee, which is the
standard of military payments. In viewing the sum-total of an officer’s
pay, when reduced to English currency, which may be done with tolerable
correctness at the above rate of eight rupees to the pound sterling,
very considerable allowance must be made for the inevitable expences,
&c., incident, not only to military men, but to all residing in India.
This consideration will amount to a very plain, and correct, conclusion,
viz. that though a subaltern officer may live on his pay, provided his
out-set be duly allowed for, yet, that he must have more than ordinary
luck, or possess a bent towards parsimony by no means to be envied, and
rarely attaining its object, to enable his saving a few pounds within
the year.

This is necessary to be well understood, and, when understood, ought to
be ever carried in mind by those who expect a young man on his arrival,
as a cadet, in India, to support himself without adventitious aids. That
he may do so, by arranging a proper plan with others of his class,
cannot be denied; but to effect this, not only all luxuries, but, what
in India are considered the necessaries of life, must be relinquished.
On receiving a commission, his allowances, of course, are considerably
augmented, but, on the other hand, his expences will be rather greater;
and this unavoidably, and exclusive of his equipment to join his corps.

Therefore, let no unreasonable expectations be entertained, merely from
observing the gross sum of annual receipts; let not the parent, who can
spare a moderate sum towards his son’s comfort, deny it for the few
first years after the latter may arrive in India. The best mode of
effecting this, in a proper manner, is through some respectable
agency-house, which should have the power to afford seasonable aids,
under the injunction not to encourage, nor to tolerate, extravagance.
Those sanguine ideas too often entertained by persons not in affluent
circumstances, that their sons, brothers, &c., should remit to them,
yearly, a portion of their pay, ought to be peremptorily suppressed; the
illusion should be done away; otherwise, inconvenience at least, if not
ruin, may be entailed!

To shew how folks, on this side the water, sometimes err, I shall relate
an anecdote which may prove serviceable to many; the circumstance
happened, within my own knowledge, to a brother subaltern with whom I
was very intimate. He had, from the day of his admission to the service,
formed the resolution of amassing a certain sum, which should be devoted
to the comfort of three sisters he had left in Scotland, and who, he
knew, would not, in the meanwhile, be destitute of support. At the end
of about his tenth year of service, his favorite object was effected,
and he remitted to them no less than twelve hundred pounds, _i.e._ four
hundreds to each, with a letter, expressing his satisfaction at being
enabled to provide them the means of improving their diet, &c.; closing
his brotherly epistle with the assurance, that, in so doing, he had
surrendered his all; and that, as it was his intention thenceforward to
lay by every spare rupee for the purpose of retiring from the service,
they were to expect no further aid until his demise. The good souls were
astonished at the receipt of so handsome a present, which they never had
expected; they put their heads together, and, after many a pleasing
_confab._, in which expectation, rather than gratitude, doubtless was
expressed, made up their minds to the full conviction that their brother
was as rich as a Jew, and that there was no occasion for economy in
future. They made their good fortune known, both by words, and by the
encrease of their establishment, &c., &c.; and, for a year or more, made
a very gay appearance on the strength of their brother’s money; but, as
that was rather ‘of a perishable nature,’ and because, as poor Richard
says, ‘going often to the meal-tub, but never putting in, will soon find
the bottom,’ bills, and demands of various kinds, began to accumulate,
and the ladies were reduced to considerable distress. In this awkward
predicament, application was made to the agent through whom the payment
had been paid in London; but he knew nothing whatever of their brother’s
concerns, nor could he venture to make them any advance upon the bills
of exchange they proposed to give him. Reduced to the last extremity by
their own imprudence, they wrote him a most extraordinary letter, which
was submitted to my perusal, wherein, among other matters, they
reproached him as having occasioned their distress ‘_by not having been
punctual in the_ ANNUAL REMITTANCE _he had led them to expect_!’ The
foregoing _fact_, I am thoroughly satisfied could be matched, if many
family occurrences, of which the public do not hear, were exposed to
view. The number of questions I have been obliged to answer, and the
evident disappointments that have resulted from my candid exposition of
the subjects in question, leave not a doubt in my mind, that the most
preposterous expectations are often (as in the above instance) formed
upon very slight grounds, or even without the smallest foundation.

According to the regulations, every man in the service ought to be paid
monthly; but this is not always done, even in times of peace, on account
of the collections, _i.e._ the revenues, being received only at
particular periods: if nothing particular should occur to occasion the
monies being otherwise appropriated, the deputy pay-masters at the
several stations receive notice, that the amount of pay, due to the
troops attached thereto, may be received; otherwise, it sometimes
happens that two, three, or more months, elapse without any such notice
being given. It is inconceivable to what inconvenience such delays give
birth! No regimental pay-master, no regimental agent, no certain means
of obtaining a supply of cash, in general, exist. Consequently, recourse
must be had to the native money-lenders, of whom I have already made
honorable mention. When a notice arrives at the deputy pay-master’s
office, application is made by him for an escort, generally of a company
of sepoys, under the command of an European officer, which proceeds to
that civil station whence the supplies are to be derived. Sometimes,
however, the escort is detained for many days, or even for weeks; this
is usually owing to sudden calls for remittances having been received,
when, of course, the escort had better wait for fresh receipts than
return empty handed.

Payments are made in specie, generally in silver; the _sicca_ rupees of
Lucknow, Benares, Patna, &c., being held as _sonauts_, in which the pay
of the whole army is calculated. When much gold is received at a
station, but especially at the Presidency, that coin is instantly
depreciated, to the great loss of every military man. In some instances,
payments are made to troops by means of bills of exchange, payable at
short dates: this answers very well for small sums, in situations not
authorizing the detachment of a party to escort from a considerable
distance, provided the party on whom the bill is given be a responsible
man, which is very generally the case; for, though we do sometimes hear
of a _shroff_ (_i.e._ native banker) stopping payment, very little
apprehension need be entertained as to the punctuality of those on whom
respectable firms draw, as they usually do, at fifty-one days.

This is done with the view to induce the party who is to receive the
money, to discount with him who is to pay it; thus deriving to the
drawer of the bill a double profit. It happens sometimes, as I once
experienced, that some little pretended informality is not discovered
until the bill becomes due, when it is generally returned to be
rectified: by this device, an additional profit is exacted. I do not
apply these cases to all the _shroffs_, but notice them as being
occasionally within the sphere of an European’s disappointments, and to
caution against a too hasty acceptance of bills from any _shroff_ not
established in character, as well as in property.

With respect to the recovery of sums advanced on bills of exchange,
extreme difficulty very generally prevails. The bankrupt laws of Britain
do not extend to her colonies, and, if they did, it could be to the
several presidencies only; beyond their immediate sites, the several
courts of judicature have no immediate authority over any but British
subjects. About thirty years back, the Supreme Court at Calcutta made an
attempt to extend its powers into the interior, and to take cognizance
of civil matters between the native inhabitants, but they were
personally opposed, and such serious consequences were apprehended, that
the enterprize was relinquished, and the judges compelled to confine
their operations to the letter of that act by which they had been sent
to India.

Until within the last ten years, the troops in the upper
provinces received an addition to their pay, under the name of
‘double-full-batta,’ originally given by the Nabob Vizier of Oude to the
officers serving within his dominions, and by the Company to all who
served beyond their own immediate possessions: this has, however, been
abrogated, and full-batta is now the highest pay given on any occasion.
When the above allowance, _i.e._ double-full-batta, was in force, the
upper provinces were considered preferable in point of emolument; but,
on account of the great prices of liquors, and of all articles,
excepting immediate table provision, in demand among European gentlemen,
very little advantage was gained from the receipt of greater pay; except
by those who proceeded upon a plan of determined economy, and retired
from the great circle of society for the express purpose of living
within certain bounds, whatever privations they might endure. Such
persons necessarily acquired property in proportion to their receipts;
an object of great importance where the legal interest is twelve per
cent., and where abundance of government securities at ten per cent.
have been generally for sale at par, or nearly so, in the money market.
Under such favorable circumstances, the first saving was invaluable; it
was sure to accumulate, and commonly was doubled in about seven years.
Since the abolition of ‘double-full-batta,’ the Presidency is considered
the best station, so many opportunities offering of making cheap
purchases at the several daily auctions in Calcutta, only sixteen miles
from the cantonments at Barrackpore. In a gig, the distance may be
easily ran in two hours, the road being remarkably good; in a
_palanquin_, the journey may occupy about four hours, if a relay of
bearers be posted at the half-way _bungalow_. During the rains, and
especially when the tide serves, a well-manned _pulwar_, or a
_paunchway_, or _dingy_, (small boats calculated for expedition,) may
proceed from Barrackpore to Calcutta in little more than an hour; the
return is rarely very quick, except during spring-tides in the
dry-season, before the river rises. Care must be taken to start with the
first of the tide, but not before the _baun_, or _bore_, has past.

Those who have seen the _bore_ in the Medway, and in the Severn, will at
once comprehend the dangers attendant upon that impetuous rush of the
waters, which, in the Hoogly, begins near Fultah, about forty miles
below Calcutta, and may be felt even so high as Nia-serai, full
thirty-five miles above the capital. In a work entitled ‘The Oriental
Voyager,’ by J. Johnson, Esq., Surgeon in the Royal Navy, at page 80, is
the following passage. Speaking of the Ganges, he says, ‘The tides in
this river, particularly at full and change, are rapid beyond belief,
forming what are called _boars_, or _bores_, when the stream seems
tumbling down a steep descent, doing great mischief among the boats, by
upsetting and running them over each other: ships themselves are
frequently dragged from their anchors, and dashed furiously against each
other, at these periods. They attempt to account for these torrents, by
saying they depend on the other small rivers, that open into the main
one by bars; which, at a certain time of the tide, allow the waters to
rush out, all at once, into the great stream, and thereby so much
encrease its velocity!’

Where Mr. Johnson got his information about these bars, I know not; nor
would it be possible, in my humble opinion, for any man to have
disguised, or confused, the fact more completely than is done in the
above paragraph: a circumstance which creates surprize, when we
consider, that the volume in question contains many remarks, inducing us
to expect the absence of so unphilosophical a description, and so
erroneous a conception. The matter lies in a nutshell, as Mr. Johnson
ought to have known: viz. Those rivers whose mouths are much expanded,
and that, after a course of several miles, during which their banks are
nearly parallel, suddenly contract, are subject to _bores_; that is, to
an immense wave which heads the flood tide. This _bore_, which is
described with justice as being very powerful, arises from the
contraction of the channel; which, while it directs the great volume of
water into a narrowed space, necessarily compels it to assume a greater
height. The successive flow drives on the leading wave, which gradually
subsides as it becomes more distant from the propelling power. But the
_bore_ rarely, if ever, occupies the whole breadth of the stream; it
ordinarily runs upon one side, until it comes to a bend, when it crosses
over, and continues its action until another turn of the river causes it
to cross again; and thus until its force is expended. The _bore_ does
not run under Calcutta, but along the opposite bank; it crosses at
Chitpore, about four miles above the fort, and ranges with great
violence past Barnagore, Duckensore, &c. Lesser rivers, whose mouths lie
embayed; as is the case with the Medway, which branches from the Thames,
and the Wye, that falls into the Severn, are subject to _bores_, in
consequence of the tide taking such a course as throws the great body of
water into them. In such small streams, the _bore_ will generally be
tremendous; because so great an expanse is suddenly thrown into so
narrow a channel: hence, the bridge at Chepstow is necessarily raised to
so great a height, and by floating made to yield to the tide’s force.

I much fear Mr. Johnson was not very successful in his enquiries, nor
over fastidious in his acceptance of vulgar errors; for, I observe, that
at page 113, he has allowed himself to be egregiously duped regarding
_Mannacolly Point_; so called, from the village of _Mannacolly_, which
formerly stood there. Mr. Johnson tells us a long story about a lady
proceeding to India, and finding her husband a corpse at that place:
whence, ‘_Melancholy Point_.’!!! I am well aware, that the same fable
has been retailed to many others, who gaped for information; but that is
no apology for its being upheld as matter of fact: had any respectable
authority been consulted on the occasion, before the volume was
committed to press, so palpable a traditional error would not have been
offered to that public, among whom so many are equal to its refutation.

What Mr. Johnson states respecting the injuries done to ships by the
_bore_, is at times verified, but they are rarely worthy of notice: if a
vessel be properly secured, the _bore_ will have little effect on her
safety, though the swell may cause her to pitch rather deep for a while.
During the rainy season there is no _bore_; which is to be accounted for
by the tide being so weakened at its entrance into the narrows near
Fultah, as not to be competent to form such a wave as precedes it at
other seasons; but, in exchange for this, a violent eddy, and great
agitation of the waters, takes place between Diamond-Harbour and that
place. It has been several times my lot, when proceeding with the last
of the tide from Barrackpore to Calcutta, to meet the _bore_, generally
near Chitpore; but, as its approach was indicated by the putting off of
all the small craft from that shore, along which it invariably pursued
its course, and to remain near which would be dangerous, my boat-men
always followed the example, and kept along the centre; where, though we
were tossed about famously, no danger existed. Once, indeed, in turning
Sulky Point, in a sailing boat, I was obliged to dash through the
_bore_, which I did not suppose to be so near, notwithstanding the
_dingies_, &c., were putting out. The surf assuredly appeared awful, but
we mounted over it, stem on, without difficulty, and speedily recovered
from a certain pallid complexion which had insensibly crept over our
countenances, as we approached the roaring waters. From what has been
said, it must be evident that the _bore_ travels at the same rate as the
incipient spring-tide, the velocity of which is different in various
parts, but may be taken at an average of full twenty miles within the
hour. Notwithstanding this rapidity, vessels, such as _budjrows_, and
other craft, intended for pleasure, or for burthen, ordinarily ride safe
at anchor; sustaining no injury from the _bore_, though they may perhaps
drag their anchors a few yards. But, to insure this security, care must
be taken that the broadside should not be exposed; else there will be
great danger of over-setting: this danger is not unfrequent, owing to
the _manjies_ and _dandies_ (boatmen) neglecting, especially during the
night, to swing the stern round, either by means of a spring, or a small
hawser, or by _luggies_ (bamboo-poles); so that the vessel’s head may
meet the _bore_ in its direct course.

Those who are anxious to make the best of their way, should not delay
putting off until the tide may have fairly set in, but ought to be out
in the stream just as the _bore_ is ranging along the bank, so that they
may receive the first impulse, which is prodigiously forcible, and
endeavor, by the exertions of their boatmen, to keep up, as much as may
be practicable, with the leading waters. It is wonderful how great a
difference this sometimes makes in the start from Calcutta! Sometimes a
_budjrow_ may, by this precaution, reach beyond Bandel, and nearly to
the ultimatum of the tide’s way, after which, the current is invariably
in opposition, at various rates, according to the season of the year.
During the dry season, which includes from the end of October to the
middle of June, though sometimes the rains are of greater duration, or
set in earlier, the Hoogly river is nearly in a state of rest above
Nia-serai; but, during the rains, and especially about August and
September, not only the beds of the rivers, but the country around,
present a formidable body of water. Within the banks, the current may
average from four to eight miles an hour, according to localities, but
what is called ‘the inundation,’ rarely exceeds half a mile; and, I
believe, never moves at a full mile within that time.

In this, due allowance must be made whether the waters are rising, or
falling: in the former instance, they will become nearly stationary
until they may overflow where nearest the sea, and thus obtain a vent;
in the latter case, such parts as may be near to great rivers, then
subsiding within their banks, must be greatly accelerated.

As the parched soil of Egypt is refreshed by the overflowing of the
Nile, so do the waters of the Ganges, by their annual expansion and
abundance, renew the fertility of many millions of acres, and restore
the blessings of health to those industrious and peaceable peasantry
inhabiting that flat country through which they majestically wind their

At Calcutta, and Dacca, each of which is about seventy miles from the
sea, not only is the water unpalatable, from its saline impregnation,
but even the sand, taken from the beds of the rivers, is found to retain
so much moisture, notwithstanding the heat of the climate, as to
disqualify it from mixture in the cements used for building, but
especially for making tarrases, known to us here under the designation
of grist floors.

The great tank at Calcutta, which occupies a space of about ten acres,
is not less than two hundred yards from the river. The soil is generally
a rich sandy loam near the surface, but becomes rather looser, and
inclinable to a fine gravel, after digging about ten feet. The tank may
be sixty feet from the top of its banks, (which are level with the
streets,) to its bottom; and the river is from four to seven fathoms
deep opposite its site. We should conclude that such a distance would
secure the waters of the tank from becoming brackish; but the soil
favors the communication with the river, and, during the hot season,
occasions the tank to be so strongly impregnated as to be unfit for
either culinary purposes, or for washing. What is more remarkable, the
wells in the different out-works of Fort-William, some of which are four
or five hundred yards from the river, partake equally of the moisture:
so much, indeed, as to have caused Government to be at a great expence
in forming an immense reservoir, (to be filled, if required, by rain
water,) occupying the whole of one of the bastions.

It should be here noticed, that, during the rainy season, the rivers are
full up to their banks, and run with such force, often six or eight
miles in the hour, as to occasion the tide to be little felt, either at
Calcutta, or at Dacca; consequently, the whole of the water, both of the
rivers, and of the tanks and wells, becomes fresh and pure. On the other
hand, during the hot months, viz. March, April, May, and part of June,
when, except during a north-wester, or squall incident to the season,
not a drop of rain is to be expected, the waters are every where
proportionably low; and, as the tides come up with extreme force, we
must conclude the portion of sea-water to be very considerable. Such is
the fact; for those who visit either Calcutta, or Dacca, at that season,
and who drink even of the tank-water, are sure to feel its cathartic
effects, and, eventually, to suffer under a very troublesome kind of
itch. At Dacca, where the air is more saline, all visitors undergo the
penance of a copious eruption: some of the old residents have a return
of it every hot season; although they may be extremely careful never to
touch river water, but, like the inhabitants of Calcutta, allot a
spacious _godown_ to the reception of immense jars of earthen ware,
which, being placed side by side, in close rows, are successively filled
by the _aub-dar_, or servant whose business is confined to the care, and
to the cooling, of water for table expenditure. The water thus preserved
is caught in large vessels, placed under the several spouts that conduct
it thereto, during heavy falls of rain; the quantity varies according to
the consumption, but we may ordinarily compute that of a family at
Calcutta to amount to full sixty or seventy hogsheads within the year.
In the course of a few weeks, each vessel will be found to contain
innumerable larvæ, occasioned by musquitoes, and other insects, and
which would, in a certain time, taint the fluid. It is therefore
customary to strain the whole so soon as the larvæ are discovered, and
afterwards to plunge into each jar an immense mass of iron, made
red-hot; whereby whatever animalculæ may have escaped through the
strainer may be destroyed. This being done, some alum is dissolved in
water, and a sufficient quantity put into each vessel to fine its
contents. Some, and I think the practice should be more generally
adopted, after the foregoing operations, sprinkle a quantity of very
fine sand on the surface of the water in each jar; thereby giving, to
whatever gross particles it may contain, a tendency to precipitation. It
may, at first view, appear that, in the common course of society,
gentlemen must be subject to partake of water which may not have been so
scrupulously purified, and perhaps brought from some neighbouring tank,
or from a river, impregnated by the influx of a brackish tide. Such may,
assuredly, be the case occasionally; but it will be found, on reference
to what has been said of the duties of the _aub-dar_, or water-servant,
that purified water is carried by a bearer, in a _bangy_, or perhaps in
a _soorye_, or earthen jug, to the house at which his master is to dine.
In camp, it is a very general custom for every guest’s servant to supply
his master with water of his own purifying; which is effected either by
means of alum, or of some other astringent producing a similar effect.

The waters in the great rivers have various sources; but, speaking
generally of the Ganges, which receives almost all the other rivers in
its course from those mountains among which it has its source, to the
Bay of Chittagong, where it empties itself into the sea in an immense
expanse, we may divide its properties according to the countries through
which it passes. Hence the various opinions that have been entertained
of its qualities; which have been generally mentioned in a very loose,
indiscriminate manner, without reference to the various soils whereby
its purity must be affected, in a country where, as in Egypt, annual
inundations prevail; or where, at least, such immense quantities of rain
fall as would astonish a person not habituated to the most impetuous

The Ganges takes its rise at the back of the Kammow Hills, beyond
Hurdwar, where it issues forth as a narrow, but rapid stream, from among
broken rocks, and soon spreads to some extent in the fertile plains of
the Rohilcund district, which it divides from the province of Delhi. The
natives of India rarely venture beyond Hurdwar. They have, however, an
opinion that the true _Ganga_, as they term the Ganges, originates at
that spot; and, considering the cow as the greatest blessing given to
mankind, (for the Hindus venerate it with even more fervor than a
Catholic does a supposed relic of our Saviour,) emphatically term it
‘the Cow’s Mouth;’ implying thereby the purity, as well as the value, of
the waters.

But those mountains which give birth to the Ganges, are likewise the
sources of the Barampooter; a river exceeding even the Ganges in
capacity! These two immense streams deviate at their origin to opposite
quarters; the Ganges proceeding westward, and the Barampooter eastward.
The former, after winding at the back of the Kammow and Nagrocote
Mountains, passes Hurdwar, and, proceeding in a devious track through
the plains of Oude, Allahabad, Benares, Bahar, Jungleterry, Mauldah,
Comercally, Dacca, and other subordinate districts, receives the
Luckyah, as a branch from the Barampooter, and a few miles below Dacca
unites with that river; whence, under the designation of ‘the MEGNA,’
they pursue their course for about sixty miles to the eastern part of
the Bay of Bengal, forming by their junction a volume of water,
encreasing, from about seven, to twenty miles in width.

In the upper country, the Ganges receives various inferior streams, such
as the Doojoorah, the Cally-Nuddy, the Goombeerah, the Gunduck, the
Mahanuddy, the Rooee, the Jumma, the Goomty, the Carimnassa, the Gogra,
(or Dewah,) the Soane, the Coosah, and various other streams not vying
in extent with the Ganges, but generally equal to the Thames at London.
The Gogra, the Soane, and the Coosah, are, indeed, rivers of the second
class; as wide as the Thames at Gravesend.

From Sooty, which is in the Jungleterry district, the Ganges throws off
a considerable branch: this widening in a curious manner, under the name
of the Baug-Retty, passes Moorshadabad, formerly the seat of the
government of Bengal, under Sooraja Dowlah, Meer Jaffiers, and their
ancestors; at length, after a course of about 150 miles, it meets at
Nuddeah, with the Jellinghy, also detached from the Ganges, whence the
two form a large river under the name of the Hoogly, which, flowing
under Hoogly, Bandel, Chinsurah, Chandernagore, Serampore, Calcutta, and
many inferior places, empties itself into the western end of the Bay of
Bengal, having previously received the Roopnariam, and the Dummoodah.

In its course from Bagwangolah, which stands near to Sooty, the Ganges
sends a great variety of small streams through the Jessore, and
Mahomedpore districts, which, meeting with large inlets from the sea,
form an immense labyrinth of deep waters, intersecting that wild country
called the Sunderbunds, in such various mazes as to require a pilot for
their navigation.

Having thus detailed the courses of the rivers, I shall account for
their rise and fall; as thereon many physical points of the utmost
importance will be found to depend: the various soils through which they
pass will be described, and enable us to judge more correctly, of the
causes of that variety of character attached to the waters in various

The Thibet Mountains, which form the north-east boundary of a long
valley, stretching from Napaul to Sirinaghur, are covered with snow all
the year. Their height must be very great; for, on a clear day, they may
be seen from the Golah at Patna, though distant little less than 300
miles. From the north-west part of this Alpine range, the Ganges and
Barampooter derive their sources, as before described, back to back from
the same mountains. To the dissolution of a part of the snow which
cloaths their summits, we may, perhaps, safely attribute a slight
encrease that takes place about the middle of May in those rivers:
fluctuating, more or less, at intervals, until the periodical rains set
in; generally about the middle of June. Some have ascribed their rise to
heavy rains in the countries through which the streams pass; but such
cannot be considered as the true cause, for various reasons. Firstly,
those rains must be extremely heavy if they tended to swell the rivers;
the ground being parched, and requiring great moisture to saturate it.
Secondly, the encrease is not attendant with any turbid appearance; as
would indisputably result from such heavy rains, as, after saturating
the thirsty soil, could raise such large rivers, often a foot, or more.
Thirdly, there are other rivers which derive their sources from the
Kammow Hills, and from the Morungs, not so distant from the Thibet Hills
but that they might be expected to receive their share of the rains, and
to shew some encrease, which they do not; the rise being confined to the
Ganges and Barampooter, whose sources lie among the snow-clad mountains.
Fourthly, the encrease happens at the hottest time of the year, and the
water loses the genial warmth imparted by the solar ray, becomes harder,
and, in the upper country, near Annopshier, about sixty miles below the
Cow’s Mouth, is found, at that particular season, to cause acute bowel
complaints, which is not the case at other seasons. Add to this, that,
among the natives of the countries above Hurdwar, the _goiture_, or wen
in the throat, in some measure prevails: a strong symptom of the
dissolution of snow.

The following may, generally, be considered the soils peculiar to the
several provinces through which the Ganges has its course, after leaving
Hurdwar. The west bank is generally high all the way to Benares, and
consists, with little exception, of lime, concreted into irregular
masses, much like roots of ginger, or Jerusalem artichokes, of various
sizes, some weighing perhaps five or six pounds, others scarcely an
ounce. These are of a ginger, or ash color; though some, being more
mixed with the gravelly part of the soil, are of a yellowish red. This
kind of concretion is known throughout India by the name of _kunkur_,
and, when burnt, yields a very inferior kind of cement, friable, and not
very tenacious in regard to the body whereto it is applied, nor
hardening so as to resist moisture effectually.

All the rivers, therefore, which issue from the western bank, are, more
or less, impregnated with this kind of lime; while, on the opposite
bank, the waters partake of a strong solution of nitre, with which most
of the plains of Oude, Fyzabad, Gazypore, &c., abound. Such is the
abundance, that the Company are induced to prohibit the salt-petre
manufactured in the Nabob Vizier of Oude’s dominions, from being
imported within their own provinces; otherwise, the cheapness of the
former, which is usually sold at Furruckabad for about two shillings and
sixpence per cwt., would destroy the manufactories at Patna, where it
ordinarily sells for double that price.

The country lying between the Ganges and the Goomty, (on the eastern
bank,) from Currah to Benares, is replete with alkali in a fossile
state, known by the name of _sudjy_. This is usually found on the
surface, at the close of the rainy season especially, when it begins to
shew itself very obviously, and is pared off with mattocks; rising in
large cellular strata from one to three inches in thickness, and much
resembling thin free-stone, though far more porous. In this state it is
carried to market, where it is purchased by the manufacturers of soap at
Allahabad, Patna, and other places; it is generally combined with oil,
and, when ready, sells at about ten shillings the maund of 80lb. At
Calcutta it is ordinarily sold at about 50 per cent. profit. It is made
in baskets, is of a dark color, and very moist.

It is curious that the inhabitants of these countries have never turned
their thoughts to the effects produced by these substances. On the
western bank the people are subject to nephritic complaints, which they
generally express under the vague term of _kummer-ka-dook_ (or pains in
the back); while, on the eastern bank, they are troubled with the
_moormoory_, (or gripes,) with which those living inland, especially,
are severely afflicted, owing to their use of tank-water.

During the rainy season, these powerful agents combine, and give birth
to most alarming and excruciating maladies, which, however, readily
yield to a few gentle cathartics, aided by _congee_, (or rice-water,) by
which the intestines are sheathed. The natives generally have recourse
to opiates; whereby they often fix the disease. In the dry season, that
is, from the end of October to the middle of June, the river water,
having deposited the noxious particles, is remarkably clear and
wholesome; except when the rise takes place, about the middle or end of
May, as before related. The bed of the river being invariably a coarse
sand, occasionally blended with immense sheets of _kunkur_, whereof the
banks are formed for miles in some parts, easily receives the lime and
alkali, leaving the running waters clear, and free from those

Europeans never drink of water fresh drawn in any situation; it being
always left to stand for at least one day; during which, a copious
deposit takes place: in the rainy season, perhaps full a fourth of the
contents of the vessel. Some gentlemen are very particular in having
their water boiled.

The low plains of the Shawabad and Buxar districts, situate on the
western bank of the Ganges, are chiefly cultivated with rice, while the
higher parts are productive of white corn, opium, sugar, &c. The swamps
near Saseram, bordering the range of hills at the western boundary, and
which come round to Chunar, are annually in a state of partial
corruption, sufficient to occasion terribly malignant diseases, about
November; when the sun’s power promotes an astonishing evaporation,
filling the air with miasma, and spreading destruction among all the
living tribes. But those waters are, in themselves, highly dangerous;
both on account of the putrefaction of the vegetables they contain, and
of the powerful coalition of various mineral streams, which, having in
the rainy season exceeded their ordinary limits, stray into the low
country, and mix with the already deleterious mass. Finding a discharge
for their redundancy, by means of the multitude of fissures, or small
channels, every where existing, these blend with the purer torrents,
occasioned by the impetuous rains, and cause a fever to prevail, which,
in addition to the lime and nitre already afloat, perform wonders in the
cause of desolation.

This assemblage of rivulets forms that great river the Soane, which, for
the short course it has to run, not being more than sixty miles from its
numerous sources in the hills before noticed, presents an uncommon
expanse, being generally from three quarters of a mile to two miles in
breadth; but, in the dry season, contracting its stream to a very narrow
channel, winding in the most fanciful meanders, and causing, by its
waters being so dispersed in a very flat bed, more quicksands than
probably are to be found in any river in the world. It is worthy of
remark here, that several rivers in that part of the world, which have
sandy beds, appear suddenly to be lost; owing to sand banks, that,
during the stream’s violence, have been thrown up, so high as to be
above the waters when the rains have subsided: the current continues
very perceptible, but as the bar prevents the water from going forward,
it passes through the intervals of the very coarse grit which forms that
bar; and, perhaps, at the distance of half a mile lower, re-appears. The
natives, who attribute every thing that can bear the perversion to some
invisible agent, never fail to apply this as a curse upon any village
that may be opposite to such a bar, under the opinion that the waters
ceased to run in its vicinity on account of some impiety, either known,
or concealed, perpetrated by the inhabitants.

The Gogra, or Dewah, which takes its rise in the hills north of
Gorackpore, dividing Napaul from the Company’s possessions, rolls its
impetuous course through a country nearly desolate, and bounding its
banks with most extensive forests and wildernesses. The soil is not so
impregnated with nitre as in other parts, nor are the streams that form
its volume tainted so strongly with minerals. Perhaps owing to the
length of its course, which may be about 250 miles, or more, the more
weighty particles may be deposited; for it is held that this river
contains less obnoxious mixture than any part of the Ganges. Of lime it
may certainly partake, since it runs through some tracts abounding with
_kunkur_; but its course is chiefly through clay, sand, and a species of
black potters’ marle, of which crockery is made in some parts of north
Bahar, in imitation of our Staffordshire ware; though very inferior as
to form and finish. For this, the neighbourhood of Sewan is famous.

The province of Bahar abounds in nitre; and every petty rivulet either
takes its rise from some swamp strongly impregnated therewith, or passes
through soils which yield it profusely. Those streams that originate in
the Chittrah, Ramghur, Gyah, and Monghyr Hills, are often so very highly
saturated with deleterious substances, as to betray their bad qualities
even to the eye. The Mahana, the Mutwallah, and various mountain rivers
in that quarter, which rush into the Ganges between Patna and Boglepore,
are frequently tinged with copper, of which some small veins are to be
found. An instance occurred, while the 12th battalion of native infantry
was marching from Patna to the Ramghur station, where the whole corps
were so extremely affected by the water, as scarcely to be able to
ascend from the camp, then at Dungaie, to the summit of the Kanachitty
Pass; such was the state to which it had, by its cupreous solution,
reduced both men and beasts. Fortunately, it was very cold weather, and
the use made of the waters had been very limitted.

Some officers from the same corps being on a shooting party, during the
next year, happened to encamp at Dungaie. The kettle had been put on;
the water, indeed, was ready for breakfast; but the gentlemen, on
alighting from their horses, as usual, had water brought them to wash;
when the contraction it occasioned in their mouths instantly reminded
them of their former escape, and thereby set them on their guard: on
enquiring, they found, that, either from want of memory, or through
indolence, their servants had taken the water from the rivulet running
at the foot of the pass, in lieu of drawing it from a well in the town,
which was at no great distance.

Many such streams pour into the Ganges, either singly, or in conjunction
with others. As to chalybeate influence, that cannot be wanting; for the
whole range of hills, in the elevated parts of Ramghur, Rotas, Chittrah,
Tomar, Pachete, Beerboom, Ragonautpore, Midnapore, &c., may be termed
one mass of iron; lying in huge projections exposed to view, and giving
the soil a strong rust color. The natives, in those parts, fuse immense
quantities for sale.

The country from Benares to Patna is generally fertile in the extreme,
abounding in rich plains, and affording far purer water than is to be
found above that interval. At Gazypore and Buxar the waters receive no
additional adulteration, except from the Caramnassa, which certainly is
an impure stream. Such is the opinion held by the natives regarding this
river, that, on account of its being necessary to cross it between
Saseram and Benares, a road much frequented by pilgrims and devotees;
particularly the immense hordes who repair from the Maharrattah country,
to visit the holy Hindu city of _Kassi_, which is the name they give to
Benares; that a rich man, residing so far off as Poonah, the capital of
the Maharrattah empire, near Bombay, bequeathed a large sum of money for
building a bridge, thereby to obviate the necessity pious travellers
were under of being carried over on the backs of men; who gained a
livelihood by transporting those who, from over-nice scruples, would not
wade through the stream, as they must have done through hundreds of
others, before they got so near their holy object. Unhappily for those
delicate gentry, the bridge did not, when I last saw it, about twelve
years ago, seem likely to perform its office: the soil being sandy, and
the architect understanding but little of his profession, piers had
repeatedly been raised to about seven or eight feet high, but always
gave way; so that I fear the poor itinerants must still pay their pence,
and ride across as before; unless the edifice may be entrusted to
European architects.

The Coosah comes down from the Morungs, a wild, mountainous country,
replete with impenetrable forests, and containing some few minerals:
however, on that head little is known; the extent of the wilds being
such as to debar the possibility of exploring the supposed riches
contained in the bosom of the mountains. From this quarter, and the
continuance of the forest before described, which stretches eastward to
Assam, and westward to Peelabeet, or further, the whole of the lower
countries are supplied with _saul_ and _sissoo_ timbers, and some firs.

Such is the country in which the Coosah has its rise; quitting which,
after a foaming course of about forty miles, it enters the extensive
plains of Purneah, through which it passes in a more tranquil state,
though ever rapid, until it joins the Ganges a little below Colgong,
which stands on the opposite bank, and where the Termahony, a small
sluggish river of about eighty or a hundred yards in breadth, blends its
waters with the great river. The Termahony is very deep, and, in the
rainy season, equally impetuous. Like the Coosah, it flows chiefly
through a flat country, during its short course, and as the soils in
this part are sabulous, there does not appear any thing remarkable in
the effects of the waters upon the inhabitants.

The Ganges may be considered as far more pure between Raje-Mahal, in the
Jungleterry district, and Mauldah, or Bagwangolah, than for some
distance above; during the dry season, it is remarkable for the
clearness and lightness of its waters: after leaving this to proceed
southward, we find them greatly changed during the rainy season, when
the immense inundation which prevails throughout Bengal, properly so
called, and which, moving in general at a rate not exceeding half a mile
in the hour, may be considered as stagnant.

We now lose the great body of sand that in all the upper country forms
the bed, not only of the Ganges, but of every river whose course
continues uninterrupted during the dry season; though its stream may
become insignificant. Here it should be remarked, that sandy beds
generally produce the finest beverage, and that the water will be found
more pure in proportion as the sand is coarse. Hence, the waters in the
deep parts of such streams are invariably the sweetest; for the coarse
sand will naturally find its way to the greatest depths, precipitating
the impurities with it. On the contrary, the light floating sands, which
with every little motion become agitated, will set the impurities also
in action. Such are generally found on the borders of the stream, whence
most persons derive their supplies, and where it may usually be seen in
an active state; or, if at rest, blended with slime, or fibrous

We should ever remember the distinction between the effects of fine and
of coarse sand as strainers. Coarse sand allows heavy, or coarse bodies,
to pass through it freely, provided the particles be not adhesive, or
too gross for filtration: consequently, when such sand is deposited in
the bed of a river, the lesser particles of lime, or of minerals and
their ores, will sink, and remain fixed. Not so with fine sand; which
has a greater tendency to compactness, and which, gradually filling up
the smallest intervals, becomes firm, and resists all admixture with
heterogeneous substances; the latter must, of necessity, remain on their
surface, subject to be taken up with the water. Persons accustomed to
filtration must know, that, owing to this tendency, fine sand is by far
the best medium to filter _through_, while coarse sand is preferable for
the purposes of _precipitation_.

The inundation which overflows Bengal, especially in the districts of
Nattore, Dacca, Jessore, the southern parts of Rungpore, and a part of
Mahomed-Shi, is, perhaps, one of the most curious of nature’s phenomena!
The wisdom of our Creator is most conspicuously shewn in the
appropriation of sustenance, both for the human and for the brute
species, suited to meet this annual visitation of the waters. However
copious the rains may be in the southern provinces, though they might
become boggy, and be partially inundated where the lands were low, yet,
without the influx of these immense streams, which, owing to the
declivity of the surface, pour down from the upper country, Bengal
would, at such seasons, be but a miry plain, or a shallow morass. The
great inundation does not, generally, take place till a month after the
period when the rains have, according to the phrase in use, ‘set in.’
The thirsty soils of Oude, Corch, Allahabad, Benares, Gazypore, Patna,
Rungpore, Boglepore, Purneah, and all beyond the 25th degree of
latitude, require much moisture to saturate them, as do also those
parched plains into which they ultimately pour their streams, before any
part of the soil can be covered, indeed, such is the state of the
southern provinces after the cold season, that that rich friable soil in
which they abound is seen cake-dried and cracked by fissures of many
inches in breadth, as though some great convulsion of nature had been
exerted to rend the surface into innumerable divisions.

Under the circumstances of a flood, which lasts for many months,
fluctuating from the middle or end of July to the beginning of October,
(though the water does not drain off before the middle of December in
low situations,) the inhabitants might be supposed to suffer under all
the miseries of a general ruin and subsequent scarcity. The reverse is,
however, the fact; for, provided the rains do not fall in such torrents
as to wash away their habitations, and to occasion so rapid a rise in
the fluid plain as to overwhelm the growing rice, the more ample the
_bursauty_, (_i.e._ the rains,) the more plentiful the crop, and
generally the less sickly does the season prove. The latter point will
appear self-established, when we consider that amplitude of inundation
serves, not only to divide the septic matter contained in the water, but
likewise to accelerate its action, and cause its proceeding with added
impetus to discharge itself into the bay. At this season, rivers are
only known by the currents, and consequent swells, which appear amidst
this temporary ocean! The navigation, for several months, assumes a new
appearance. Vessels of great burthen, perhaps of two thousand maunds,
(each 80lb.,) equal to nearly one hundred tons, are seen traversing the
country in all directions, principally with the wind, which is then
within a few points on either side of south. Noted cities, exalted
mosques, and populous _gunjes_, or grain-markets, on the river’s bank,
are not objects of attention. The boatman having set his enormous square
sail, proceeds by guess, or, perhaps, guided by experience, through the
fields of rice, which every where raise their tasseled heads, seeming to
invite the reaper to collect the precious grain. As to depth of water,
there is generally from ten to thirty feet, in proportion as the country
may be more or less elevated.

It is curious to sail among these insulated towns, which, at this
season, appear almost level with the surrounding element, and hemmed in
by their numerous _dingies_, or boats, which, exclusive of the necessity
for preparing against an over-abundant inundation, are requisite for the
purposes of cutting the _paddy_: rice being so called while in the husk.

So soon as what is considered the final secession of the inundation is
about to commence, the whole of the boats are in motion, and the _paddy_
is cut with astonishing celerity. It is fortunate, that, owing to the
country on the borders of the sea being higher than the inundated
country, the waters cannot draw off faster than they can find vent, by
means of the rivers which discharge into the Bay of Bengal, else the
growing rice would be subjected to various fluctuations unsuited to its
nature, and occasioning the straw to bend; whereby its growth would be
injured, even if it should recover from its reclined state so as again
to assume a vigorous appearance on the surface.

The waters of the inundation, it will be seen, are a mixture of all the
streams flowing from every part of the extensive valley formed by the
ranges of mountains stretching from Chittagong to Loll Dong, or Hurdwar,
on the east and north-east, and from Midnapore to Lahore on the west and
north-west, a course of not less than fifteen hundred miles, and
generally from two to four miles in breadth. It may be supposed, that
many impurities must be involved with these contributary streams, as
particularized in the foregoing pages: to this we must add the
offensive, and certainly not salutary, effect, induced by the Hindu
custom of consigning every corpse to the waters of the Ganges, or of any
stream flowing into it.

The Hindu religion requires that the deceased should be burnt _to
ashes_, on the borders of the Ganges, and that those ashes, with all the
remnants of wood used in the pile, should, together with the small truck
bedstead on which the body was brought from the habitation to the river
side, be wholly committed to the stream. The wholesomeness of such a
practice, in a country where the strides of putrefaction know no bounds,
infection and its effects being prodigiously extensive and rapid, cannot
be disputed; such an ordinance may vie with the acts of any other
legislature, however enlightened. But, either the poverty, the
indolence, or the sordidness, of the people, has, in time, converted
this wholesome precaution into a perfect nuisance. From fifty to a
hundred bodies, in different stages of putrefaction, may be seen
floating past any one spot within the course of the day. These having
been placed on a scanty pile, and that not suffered to do its office,
either on account of hot, cold, or wet, weather, have been pushed, by
means of a bamboo pole, into the stream, to the great annoyance of
water-travellers, and of all persons abiding near those eddies, where
the nuisance may be kept circling for days, until forcibly removed, or
until the _pariah_ dogs swim in, and drag the carcase to the shore:
there it speedily becomes the prey of various carrion birds, and of the
indigenous village curs known by the above designation.

Under all the circumstances of such a combination of putrid animal and
vegetable substance, of mineral adulteration, and of the miasma
naturally arising from the almost sudden exposure of an immense residuum
of slime, &c.; added to the cessation of the pure sea air, the wind
changing after the rains from the southerly to the northerly points, are
we to wonder at the malignancy of those fevers prevalent throughout the
province of Bengal Proper, from the end of September to the early part
of January, when the swamps are generally brought into narrow limits,
and the air is laden with noxious vapors?

Although it appears, that the general sickness prevailing throughout
Bengal at the above season, is induced by nearly the same causes that,
according to our best informations, engender the yellow fever in
America, yet no symptom of that alarming complaint has ever been known
in India, nor does the bilious, or putrid fever, of Bengal at all
assimilate in regard to symptoms with the American fatality. Certainly
it is common to see whole villages in a state of jaundice, and in some
years the ravages of the disease are truly formidable; but, though it
may be classed as epidemic, we may, at the same time, annex an endemic
distinction in regard to each village separately. Except in cases of
putrid accession, or of obvious _typhus_, there does not seem any danger
of infection; and it has been proved, that the malady might, by proper
care, be wholly averted. It is a fact, that, at several civil stations,
and at some of the principal military cantonments, which were formerly
considered the emporium of fever, the inhabitants have been preserved in
an ordinary state of health merely by cutting a few drains, or by
banking up such places as formerly proved inlets to inundate plains that
now remain sufficiently free from water to allow of pasturage during the
whole of the rainy season.

The confinement occasioned by a long term of rain, must necessarily
alter the habit, while the incumbent atmosphere, being laden with
moisture, must, at the same moment, dispose the system to the reception,
or to the generation, of disease. The poor native does not change his
diet, and very probably retains the same damp cloaths for many days. His
temperate system of living seems to be his greatest aid in case of
illness; those medicines that in him effect a great change being found
comparatively feeble when administered either to one of a debauched
conduct, or to Europeans; who, being accustomed to a more substantial
and more stimulant mode of living, are not to be acted upon but by the
more potent of the materia medica.

It has often been asked, as a matter of surprize, how it happens that
Bengal has never been visited by the plague. The question has been
founded on the supposed affinity between that country and Egypt, in
regard to the annual inundations; and to the narrowness, as well as the
filth, of the streets in the great cities; which would, if the
conjecture were correct, induce pestilence, as the same causes are said
to do in Turkey.

The case is widely different. In Egypt, although the lands are
inundated, rain is scarcely ever known to fall; the floods coming from
the southerly mountains. Hence, the inhabitants are under all the
disadvantages attendant upon a hot atmosphere, during eight months in
the year, and are, for the remaining four, exposed to the insalubrity
arising from the inundation, especially when it is draining off.

In regard to the narrowness of the streets, and the filth they contain,
something may be said in alleviation. The houses in Turkey are much
higher, are built of more solid materials, and the inhabitants being
wholly of one religion, viz. followers of Mahomed, but partaking of some
of the bad habits of the neighbouring countries, being also in a more
variable climate, more pointed attention is paid to durability and to
closeness in the edifices, than is commonly shewn in India. In the
latter country, the utmost jealousy subsists between the Mussulmans and
the Hindus, but the latter are most numerous in every place, even in the
cities where Mussulman princes hold their _durbars_, or courts. This
jealousy occasions the Hindus to look upon every vestige of a Mussulman
as a contamination; and, as ablutions are enjoined even more by the
Hindu law than by the Koran, which is the Mussulman’s book of faith, we
may consider the person of a Hindu to be as clean and wholesome as
repeated washings can make it. He wears only a small lock of hair,
growing from a spot about the size of a dollar on the crown of his head.
His cloaths are washed as often as his body, and, on the whole, it
should appear almost impossible for him to carry any disease arising
from, or communicated through, a deficiency of individual cleanliness.

The houses of the natives throughout India, if we except about one-third
of Benares, about a twentieth of Patna, the same of Moorshadabad, and a
mere trifle of the Black Town of Calcutta, are built of mats, bamboos,
and straw; in the latter, they have been, under late regulations, tiled.
The generality of village-huts are built with mud walls. On the whole,
however, whether owing to cracks in the walls, or intervals between them
and the thatches, windows, &c., the air finds a free course throughout.
Add to this, that the natives do not sleep on feather beds, flock, &c.,
but generally on mats made of reeds. This, of itself, may be considered
a preventive against infection.

The fires kept up in the houses of the natives of Turkey are in fixed
stoves, or under chimnies, which do not answer the purposes of
fumigation. Whereas, the Indian, by means of a moveable stove,
unintentionally fumigates the whole house; making the eyes of all smart
with the smoke. This fuel is not bituminous; but, in every situation, is
either wood, or the dried dung of cattle. Besides, the floor of a
Hindu’s house is, perhaps daily, washed with a thick solution of
cow-dung, whence a freshness is diffused, not perhaps very gratifying,
in point of savour, to an European’s nostrils, but assuredly
anti-septic, and answering various good purposes; especially as the
walls are, to the height of, perhaps, three or four feet, smeared with
the same mixture. The use of tobacco is common to both Turkey and India,
and may be considered as contributary to a resistance against the damps
during the rainy season, as well as against infection.

With regard to the apprehensions arising from filth, fortunately, they
are not better founded than those just noticed as dependant on the
narrowness of the streets. This lucky evasion of disease is not,
however, to be attributed to any attention on the part of the natives
individually, or to the fostering care of the native governments. Few
towns of any importance but are built on the borders of some navigable
river, of which there are abundance throughout the country. The swarms
of vultures, kites, crows, and of a large kind of butcher bird, standing
at least six feet high, called the _argeelah_, added to the immense
numbers of _pariah_ dogs, generally roving at liberty, and
unacknowledged by any particular owner; together with the multitude of
jackalls, that patrol through the cities, as well as the plains, during
the night, all contribute to remove whatever carrion, or putrescent
matter, may be exposed to their researches.

It would not, perhaps, be so easy to keep cities in a state of tolerable
cleanliness in such a hot climate, if the inhabitants subsisted on
butchers’ meat. The shambles alone would prove highly offensive: it is
therefore fortunate that the natives make rice and vegetables their
principal food. There being no privies attached to houses in general, is
an additional benefit; though accompanied with some small inconvenience,
it being requisite to walk to the outskirts of the city, or, eventually,
among some ruins, on all occasions. The privies of the higher orders of
natives, and of Europeans in general, are built on a plan which admits
of instantly removing the filth; a practice never neglected by a
servant, whose office consists only in that duty, and in sweeping the
house at various times of the day.

The _argeelah_, or butcher bird, before mentioned, is to be seen
partially all the year round; but, generally speaking, comes with the
first showers in June, and stays until the cold season is far advanced;
when it retires into the heavy covers on the borders of the large
unfrequented lakes, near the mountains, to breed. This bird has been
fully described in the representation of the Ganges breaking its Banks,
in my work entitled the ‘WILD SPORTS OF INDIA,’ published by Mr. Orme,
of New Bond-street, and by Messrs. Black, Parry, and Kingsbury, of
Leadenhall-street. It is by some called the bone-eater, from its
peculiarity of digestion; it having the power of swallowing whole
joints, such as a leg of lamb, and of returning the bone after the meat
has been digested: when thus rejected, it appears as clean as though it
had been boiled for a whole day. I cannot give a better idea of the
fitness of this bird to eat of the most putrid substances, than by
stating, that I have frequently rubbed an ounce, or more, of emetic
tartar into a piece of meat, which an _argeelah_ has swallowed, without
shewing symptoms of uneasiness on the occasion, though very closely
watched for hours after. From this, it may be inferred, that ordinary
stimulants do not disagree with the stomach of this unsightly, but
innocent, and useful, animal.

Inland towns are usually built in the vicinity of some large _jeel_, or
lake, or on some ravine, which, during the rains, forms a rapid water
course. Such as are near to hills, are often, for many days together,
impassable; owing to the torrents which, through their means, find a way
either to some expanse, or to some navigable river,

The _jeel_, or, for want of one, the tank nearest to the town, usually
becomes the receptacle of every Hindu corpse, and, at the same time,
supplies the inhabitants with water for every purpose. One would think
this intolerable practice were, of itself, sufficient to deter men, who
pretend to the utmost delicacy and purity in all respects, from drinking
at so contaminated and corrupt a reservoir. What then shall we say, when
it is known that the borders of tanks in such situations, become places
of ease, where men, women, and children, perform their duties to the
goddess in colloquial association; and where, having got rid of their
burthens, they free themselves from its remains, by washing with those
very waters whence, probably, another person is baling into his pot, or
leather bag, for culinary purposes, or for beverage.

Tanks and _jeels_ are, in almost every part of India, full of rushes,
and of the conferva, which, together with duck-weed, docks, &c., both
cover the surface and fill up the deeps. They are, generally, replete
with small fishes of various descriptions, and if of any extent, or
deep, either harbour, or serve as visiting places for alligators, which
infest both the running and the stagnant waters in every part of the
country. These voracious animals travel at night from one _jeel_, or
tank, to another; often announcing their presence by snapping up some
poor unsuspecting Hindu, who wades up to his middle for the purpose of
performing his ablutions, and of offering up the customary prayers on
such occasions.

In many tanks, alligators are known to exist in numbers; nay, in some
places, they are subsisted by the eleemosynary donations of travellers,
who disburse a trifle in money, or present some provision to a
_faqueer_, (or mendicant priest,) to provide food for the alligators,
which come forth from the waters, on hearing the well-known voice of
their holy purveyor; from whom they seldom fail to receive each a small
cake of meal, or some other provision. This liberality does not,
however, occasion any qualmish scruples of gratitude; it being found,
that alligators thus handsomely treated are not a whit more reserved in
the application of their teeth to bathers, &c., than those which have
never been honored by such liberal consideration.

The respiration and effluvia proceeding from an animal, perhaps twenty,
or twenty-five, feet in length, and from six to twelve in circumference,
must have an effect upon even a large body of water. Allowing that such
a monster should consume as much air as ten men, which, surely, is not
an unfair calculation, and that twenty gallons of water contain one of
air; as a man, on an average, consumes one gallon of air in a minute,
the alligator must consume twelve hundred gallons, equal to near twenty
hogsheads, in an hour: in twenty-four hours, the quantity of water
contaminated by one alligator would amount to four hundred and eighty

From this, we may conceive the effect produced by the presence of,
perhaps, seven or eight alligators in a tank not exceeding two acres in
measurement, and no where above twelve or fourteen feet in depth: we
must likewise take into the account abundance of fishes; for, if that
abundance did not exist, the alligators would speedily decamp. Add to
these two sufficient drawbacks, all that has been said of the impurities
added by the inhabitants, and we shall form such a nauseating and
unwholesome combination as must cause us to wonder how ever one should
be left to tell the fate of his lost friends.

Amidst the mountains, where, of course, the inundations cannot be of any
duration, and where the waters of every description are limitted as to
extent; the streams being very small, and, excepting a few hollows
between two hills, or, eventually, a valley, in which a pool may exist,
alligators are to be seen. They are generally small, but of a very
savage species, making up, by their rapacity and activity, for the want
of that bulk which renders the alligator of the great rivers more
apparently dangerous. By the term ‘small,’ we must not conclude them to
be diminutive, but, that they rarely exceed twelve or fourteen feet in
length. Such will, however, seize a bullock when wading in a tank, or
_jeel_; stealing upon him with the utmost caution, so as not to disturb
the fluid, and even keeping the dorsal spines depressed until the very
moment of seizure; when, fastening upon the unwary animal’s leg, and
throwing his whole weight backwards; at the same time swinging round, so
forcibly as to raise the greater part of his disgusting frame above the
surface, the alligator, by one violent effort, which appears almost
instantaneous, ordinarily succeeds in dragging the poor animal into a
sufficient depth. Pain, surprize, and the unrelaxing bite of his
devourer, combine to disable him from making any adequate resistance;
being, besides, kept completely immersed by the subtle and experienced
assailant, no more is seen, except that the waters appear for about a
minute violently agitated, by the efforts of both parties: the alligator
is, however, compelled to raise his head above the surface when in the
act of deglutition. This is seen daily, even when a fish becomes the
victim. On these occasions, the stupendous animal rears in the waters,
exposing sometimes so far as his shoulders, and ordinarily biting the
fish in two, when, with the utmost ease, he swallows what would make a
hearty meal for thirty or forty men of keen appetite. I have frequently
seen an alligator thus chuck down a _rooee_, or river carp, weighing
from fifty to sixty pounds: a size by no means uncommon in the great
rivers of Bengal!

The great use made of water by the natives in every part of India,
occasions an immense number of tanks and wells to be dug, chiefly by
persons of property, under the pretence of aiding the poorer classes,
but, in fact, with the view to become popular, or of transmitting their
names to posterity by affixing them as designations to the tank or well
in question. This takes place equally in regard to plantations,
generally of _mango_ trees; and in the building of _seraies_, for the
accommodation of travellers, such as Europeans generally understand to
be caravan _seraies_; but that term can only apply to those parts of
Arabia, &c., that furnish caravans; which are not known in the great
peninsula of India; where, on account of the extent of sea-coast,
navigation absorbs the chief part of the trade. _Seraies_ are usually
known by the name, or title, of the founder. Thus, _Maraud ka Seray_
implies that the public accommodation for the reception of travellers
was founded by Maraud; respecting whom the people in attendance either
have some traditional account, or supply a famous history, invented for
the occasion.

_Seraies_ are now going fast to decay; the power of the native princes
has been so much abridged, and their influence is so little felt, that,
generally speaking, were a rich or exalted character to found a _seray_,
even on the most liberal footing, it is probable his expectation of
immortal fame would not be realized. The rage is now more bent towards
_gunges_, or grain markets; _hauts_, or villages, holding periodical
markets; _maylahs_, or annual fairs; and, in fact, to such
establishments as afford a profit, or which, from becoming notorious in
the way of trade, are more likely to perpetuate the celebrity of the

_Durgaws_, (commonly called mosques,) appertain exclusively to those of
the Mahomedan faith, and _mhuts_, which are, properly, places of Hindu
worship, also _madressahs_, or colleges, with endowments for _faqueers_,
or Hindu priests, seem to hold their ground. These, like the abbeys of
Monkish times, are ever to be found in the most beautiful and most
eligible situations: above all things having a command of excellent

The tanks in the hills, that is to say, such as have resulted from
artificial means, are generally small, full of weeds, and rarely lined
with masonry; their banks are soft, and the waters, being accessible to
cattle on every side, foul and turbid. Sometimes these become nearly dry
during the hot months, affording, if any, a most offensive and
insalubrious beverage. Nevertheless, the indolent native will often
drink thereof, rather than send half a mile to a purer spring. The
generality of these tanks have originally a regular supply from
numberless springs, fed either by a natural syphonic process from higher
lands, or by percolation of the profuse dews that, throughout the
immense jungles on the higher soils, fall during the hottest months; but
the want of proper attention to preserve the tanks from the incursions
of cattle, which, being very wild in their nature, often swim or wade
over to the opposite sides, quickly choak the springs, which, in such
open soils, easily find other vents, and expose the inhabitants to great
suffering from drought. In many instances we see wells dug in the tanks;
thereby causing a great saving of labor; as, when once a spring
discharges into the tank, in such a situation, it is not necessary to
dig the whole area to an equal depth. This is a cheap expedient, adopted
by such as have vanity enough to attract public notice, but not money
enough to do the thing completely, or to a great extent.

From these causes, we are led to the consideration of those effects
produced in hilly countries, by the waters in common use. Nor are we
deceived in our expectation as to the results naturally arising from so
forcible an agent. We find throughout the hilly country, that, exclusive
of the diminutive features attached, all over the world, to the various
classes of mountaineers, there is an additional tendency to departure
from the ordinary bulk of the natives in the adjacent low lands,
obviously induced by the diet, and most especially by the waters in use.
It is remarkable that in Tomar, the back part of Chittrah, and Ramghur,
where the immense extent of low woods almost debars population, and
where the Hill people, known by the name of _Dhangahs_, subsist
principally on rice, wild fruits, and, occasionally, a little game, and
where they drink of water such as has just been described, collected
either in small pools, or in artificial tanks, the inhabitants are
extremely stinted in their growth, are squalid, troubled with wens, half
devoured with a kind of scurvy, herpetic eruption, and appear even at a
very early age to lose their vigor. They have, besides, a peculiar kind
of opthalmia, partly induced by an excessive passion for liquor, there
distilled in large quantities, and by their exposure to a damp,
impregnated atmosphere; while in their huts, their whole happiness seems
to consist of an intense fumigation, chiefly from green-wood, such as
would wholly suffocate one not habituated from his birth to so admirable
an imitation of the fumes of Tartarus.

The difference between these haggard objects, and the inhabitants of the
plains from which the mountains take their rise, requires no comment. It
most forcibly arrests the traveller’s attention, causing him to doubt
whether, within the short interval of perhaps six or seven miles, he may
believe his senses, which pourtray to him a change from vigorous and
personable manhood, to a decrepid, hideous, and dwarfish, state: more
resemblant of the Weird Sisters than our imaginations can conceive, or
than our best comedians can represent.

Some tanks, dug by the more charitable persons of property, are on a
very extensive scale, covering perhaps ten or twelve acres. Many of
these are of great antiquity, and have been very deep, perhaps thirty
feet, but, by the growth of vegetable matter, added to the heavy bodies
of sand and dust that nearly darken the air in the dry season, of which
much falls into the waters, their depth is considerably reduced: in
some, various shoals appear, indicating the accumulation of rubbish, and
in a manner reproaching those who use the element with indolence and
ingratitude. In such places fish abound, and grow to an astonishing
size, sometimes affording excellent angling, but their flavor does not
correspond with their looks; for the most part they are intolerably
muddy. The quantity of weeds, the shoals, and various posts being
generally sunk in different parts of the tank, armed with tenter-hooks,
for the purpose of preventing poachers from robbing the stock, are
insuperable bars to the use of nets. Boats are not in use in such
places, and there seems to be no attention in any respect to any thing
relating to such waters, except that the _shecarries_, or native
sportsmen, exercise much ingenuity and skill in their depredations among
the wild geese, wild ducks, teal, widgeons, &c., with which all the
waters of India are profusely stocked during the winter months; when
every unfrequented puddle is covered with wild fowl, which often alight
during the dark nights on waters situated in the very hearts of cities,
in which sometimes tanks are seen of such size, as to secure the birds,
when collected near the centre, from the reach of small shot. This,
though not to be classed with daily occurrences, is by no means

By far the greater number of tanks, especially those by the road-side,
or contiguous to cities and populous towns, are walled in with masonry.
In such case, they have at one, or more sides, either a long slope, or a
flight of steps of excellent masonry; some, indeed, have both, the
former being intended for the use of cattle, which are either suffered
to drink there, or are employed to carry large leather bags of water for
the use of the inhabitants. Owing to the great force of the periodical
rains, and to the swelling of the soil during the season of excessive
moisture, the masonry is generally burst in various places, and for the
most part either sinks, or is prostrated into the tank. As no credit
would follow the repairs of such breaches, they are left to their fate.

A due attention to the proper proportion of base, so as to give a
substantial talus both within and without the walls, added to the
precaution of leaving vents for the free discharge of the springs, or
the super-abundant fluid, into the tank, would most assuredly counteract
so destructive a weakness as now generally exists. I cannot call to
mind, at this time, any very old masonry that has not succombed thereto,
excepting the great _bund_, or dyke, at Juanpore; which, according to
tradition, was built about fifteen hundred years ago, and having been
made of a very obdurate kind of _kunkur_, found in those parts, blended
with excellent lime, probably burnt from the same stones, appears now a
complete mass of rock, capable of resisting the ravages of all time to
come. This _bund_, which bears all the venerable marks of antiquity, was
originally thrown up to limit the Goomty; a fine river that rises in the
Peelabeet country, and, washing Lucknow, the capital of Oude, passes
through the city of Juanpore under a very lofty bridge, built on strong
piers, terminating in gothic arches. The want of due breadth in the
arches occasions the waters to rise during the rainy season to an
immense height, creating a fall of which that at London Bridge, at its
worst, is indeed but a poor epitome! The distance between the top of the
bridge and the water below it, in the dry season, is something less than
sixty feet; yet it is on record, and in the memory of many inhabitants
of Juanpore, that the river has been so full as to run over the bridge,
which is flat from one end to the other, lying level between two high
banks, distant about three hundred and twenty yards.

Formerly, when the waters were high, they used, according to the
tradition alluded to, to over-run the country on the left bank; forming
an immense inundation throughout the country lying east of Juanpore, and
extending down towards the fertile plains of Gazypore. The hollow, or
low land, by which they penetrated, was about two miles in width;
therefore the _bund_ was built to a suitable extent: it is now about two
miles and a half long; in most parts, about thirty feet broad at the
top, and double that width at the base. Its height varies from ten to
twenty feet. The record states it to have proved effectual in resisting
the inundation, which, however, on account of the _bund_ being at right
angles with the river, so as to occupy a favorable position, and cut off
the torrent, continued to flow annually as far as its base. In time, the
sediment deposited by the water thus rendered stagnant, filled up the
hollow, raising its surface as high as the other parts of the river’s
boundary, and creating a soil peculiarly valuable, now chiefly occupied
by indigo planters. The insalubrity occasioned by the many swamps left
by the inundation, was at the same time averted, and the dread
entertained that the Goomty would, in time, force a new channel for the
entire body of its stream, removed. Large tracts, before of little
value, acquired a deep staple of soil, which, at this date, yields
sugar, indigo, wheat, barley, &c., in abundance and perfection.

The rage for digging tanks, has, I apprehend, in a certain measure,
subsided; for we find little of that very absurd ostentation now
prevalent, which must have actuated to such immense works, rendered
useless by their too great number, or carried to an excess in regard to
their measurement. It would be, perhaps, difficult to ascribe to any
other motive than that of unparalleled vanity, why a man should have dug
near seventy tanks, all nearly contiguous, on a plain not many miles
distant from the military station of Burragong, in the district of
Sircar Sarung, situate between the Gunduc and the Gogra. The population
did not require more than one tank; especially as a stream of tolerably
good water passes within a few hundred yards of the site of these
offsprings of ostentation. The inhabitants tell various stories as to
the person who lavished his money in this empty manner; and, (which
would, no doubt, vex the real prodigal to his very heart,) the modern
narrators differ widely even as to the name and rank of the individual!

With respect to _seraies_, we may, at least, praise the convenience they
afford, without bestowing much admiration on the charity of their
founders. Some of these are very extensive, covering, perhaps, six or
eight acres. They generally consist of a quadrangle, built across the
road, which passes under two lofty arched gateways, having battlements,
or turrets, over them. The gates open to an extent sufficient to allow
any laden elephant, however stupendous, to pass freely. They are made of
strong wood, well bound with iron, and studded with iron spikes, of
which the points are on the outside; for the purpose of preventing
elephants from forcing them by pressure. The surrounding walls of the
quadrangle are generally about fourteen feet in height, and from two to
four in thickness, according either to the antiquity of the building, or
to the parsimony of the builder. They are lined all around with a shed,
built on pillars, and divided by mats, &c., into various apartments, all
sheltered from the sun and rain by means of doors, &c., of bamboos,
mats, grass, &c., as the country may afford; or, eventually, a part is
built up with thin brick, or with mud.

In the central parts of the _seray_ there are generally some shops,
ranged on each side of the road, and one building appropriated to the
_cutwal_, or superintendant of the place; whose office is, properly, to
regulate all matters, and to see that travellers are duty accommodated;
that the _bytearahs_, or cooks, dress their victuals, and that the
_chokey-dars_ take due charge of the goods consigned to their care. All
this, however, is done in a slovenly way; the greatest impositions are
often practised; and the itinerant journies on from one scene of
thievish combination to another.

Although a _seray_ may be built near to a river, or to some sufficient
stream, yet there is invariably a well, ordinarily lined with circular
tiles, or masonry, in the area. The water is drawn from such wells, for
the most part, by means of a truck-pulley, suspended between the limbs
of a forked bough cut for the purpose, and having a wooden pin through
it as an axle. Each person draws his own water, and for that purpose
carries a line, generally about twenty feet long. Few indeed travel,
even on foot, without a _lootah_, or brass water-vessel; of which there
are various sizes, from a pint, to half a gallon; a _tully_, or flat
brass plate, with a border about an inch high, nearly perpendicular; and
a _cuttorah_, or metal cup. Some even carry their _daikçhees_, or metal
boilers; though, in general, they purchase for a farthing, or, at the
utmost, for a halfpenny, a new earthen pot, capable of holding perhaps
three quarts, or a gallon, with a lid of the same, in which, if they do
not intend to employ the people of the _seray_, they dress their own
victuals; leaving the crockery, which no one else will use, it being
considered as polluted.

The water of wells in the _seraies_, or in populous towns, is certainly
far fresher and better than is to be had, in general, from small rivers.
But much will depend on the soil, the lining of the well, its depth,
and, indeed, on its width. A quick draught necessarily insures a
plentiful flow, and prevents corruption from any impurity that may
casually fall in from above. At a certain depth there is usually found a
stratum of sand; this is remarkably fine, and, in some places, retains
such a large portion of fluid as to become a perfect quicksand. In many
parts, and especially in the Ramghur district, which, on an average, may
be a thousand feet or more above the level country, this sub-stratum
presents a most serious difficulty in the sinking of wells.

Of this I experienced two instances in my own practice, which gave me
much trouble. Having to sink a well in the corner of a garden, and
wishing to avoid the expence and delay attendant on masonry, I cut a
square shaft, and went on admirably until I came to a tremulous body of
sand. Never having met with a quicksand at such a depth, then about
twenty-four feet from the surface, and on so elevated a table land,
there being no hills nearer than two miles, and those being separated by
deep vallies, in which were running streams, I was somewhat
disconcerted. I felt the whole of the difficulty, but necessity urged me
to proceed. The well was to be lined with logs of about seven feet long,
and about eight inches diameter; they were notched at each end, so that
two, being placed parallel at five feet distance, and two others being
laid over their ends, the four made a quadrangle, which, by means of the
notches, came nearly to a level, and locked very firmly into each other.
Having prepared abundance of these logs, I commenced my operations, by
affixing a pulley over the well for the purpose of lowering them down to
a laborer who stood on a board slung from four stakes at the brink of
the shaft; for he could not stand on the sand, which, when the surface
was broken, instantly became loose and liquid. The four first logs were
scarcely placed before their own weight began to sink them, scarcely
allowing time to put on four others before they disappeared. I perceived
my error, and immediately had the other logs all wrapped round with
straw-rope of about an inch in diameter; whereby they became more
buoyant, and resisted the liquescence of the sand more powerfully, by
their encrease of diameter. As a foundation, I pinned the four first,
forming the primary layer, strongly at their several corners; so that
they made a fixed frame. The work now went on merrily, but it was with
the utmost difficulty I could supply the logs fast enough, the sand
removed by their admission rose so very rapidly. Being determined to
overcome the difficulty, I let down full twenty rounds of logs, equal to
about seventeen feet, when I had the pleasure to see no more would sink:
the sand was excavated, and I found, that, although in one or two places
intervals of two or three inches had taken place, yet, on the whole, I
was able to boast of better success than I expected. By degrees, I got
the logs settled in their places, (a work of serious labor,) and always
had water enough for every culinary purpose, but not for a large garden,
which required ample irrigation daily during the hot season; further, a
quantity was indispensably requisite for wetting the _tatties_, or
frames applied during that season to the doors and windows, to keep my
house cool.

My well appeared full of water up to the top of the quicksand, but it
was a perfect deception: the sand filled up the shaft in the course of
three or four days, though emptied to the very bottom, which was a hard
red clay.

Finding that more expence was incurred by the perpetual necessity for
sending men down to empty out the sand, I resolved to adopt the old
custom of lining the well with masonry; and having got all clear to the
bed of clay, into which I sunk a stout frame, near a foot and a half
deep, I went on with spirit for a whole day, in which near two yards of
wall were built up: but, during the night, the balers went to sleep, and
I found the whole immersed in the morning. As the sand and water were
emptied, the draft was so great as to wash the lime from between the
bricks, and I was compelled to take all out again. It then occurred to
me to have bricks made in the form of the frustum of a pyramid, so as to
fit exactly in a circle of two feet and a half in diameter internally,
and of four feet externally. These were laid on the frame, which I now
buried a full yard in the clay: between the bricks I put abundance of
dry lime, rubbing them close together, and, with the clay, all the
interval between the masonry and the wooden frame was filled up. Two
workmen were employed all night; one in the well, who ladled the water
from the four corners into a bucket, which the other raised to the
surface: none worthy of notice got within the circular masonry, and I
had the satisfaction, in about a week, to see the whole completed.
Sufficient water found its way through the crevices, to keep me
supplied, and the sand gave so little trouble, that, during a whole year
that I occupied the premises, no clearance was necessary.

This digression may appear irrelevant to the subject; but I could not
forbear giving the fact a place here, as it possibly may prove an useful
guide to others who may be under similar disadvantages. It is curious,
that a very large well, of about twelve feet diameter, was commenced at
the same time by a brother officer, within a hundred yards of mine,
which went on admirably, and was finished in a very short time. He had
no quicksand opposed to his labors; on the contrary, his great
difficulty lay in cutting through two strata of rock, from which only a
few dribblets appeared while the well was lining with masonry; but, so
soon as the rainy season set in, those rocks prevented the descent of
the moisture, which, being by them directed to the well, rushed in such
a violent manner against the masonry, as to force out many stones:
creating a fissure which, in a few weeks, proved fatal to the whole of
the work. A handsome well, with a rich spring issuing from a gravelly
bottom, was thus ruined, and the station was again subjected to much
inconvenience for what we often had in too liberal abundance.

The natives throughout India have a great respect for such persons as
plant _mango topes_ (or woods). These are, in general, managed with
great care, the trees being set at regular distances each way, forming
parallel vistas both lengthwise and breadthwise: the width of which are
equal each way, and varying from twenty to forty feet. When first
planted, they are well enclosed with a ditch and bank, sufficient to
prevent cattle from doing mischief to the young trees, which are also
watered at intervals during the dry season, generally through the means
of a well, dug at the expence of the planter on one side of the _tope_.
If the proprietor be rich, the well is usually large, lined with
masonry, and furnished with cisterns of the same, or of hewn stone, so
that cattle may be refreshed in numbers; two pillars of masonry, or of
substantial wood, are erected; each supporting the end of a timber,
stretching across the well at about five feet above the brink. On this
timber, a shieve of wood is fixed, with one or more grooves for the
reception of the cord used in drawing water.

The first-fruits of plantations are, with few exceptions, considered as
appertaining to the tutelary deity of the planter, and are tendered to
him as offerings on the part of the _tope_. The priests who officiate on
these august occasions, commonly find means to save the sacred character
of their invisible patron from any suspicion of gluttony, by taking upon
themselves the troublesome office of proxy, on this and every occasion
wherein mastication is needful.

On many of the great roads, such as that leading from Benares to the
upper stations, we find very large wells, conveniently situated near
some shelter, though, perhaps, distant from any town: occasionally, a
hut or two may be erected in the vicinity, for the residence of a
_bunneah_, (or kind of chandler,) or for a vender of spirits. Some of
these wells are furnished with various sets of pillars and shieves, very
substantial in their construction; so as to bear the weight of a leather
bag, formed by stitching the edges of a whole hide, trimmed of its
superfluous angles, &c., to an iron hoop of about a foot and a half in
diameter: by means of two arched irons, rivetted at their crossing in
the middle by a swivel and loop, the bag, or _moot_, is managed in the
same way as a bucket in Europe. Many of these _moots_ are capable of
containing, at least, half a hogshead. They retain the water more
steadily in ascending, than any vessel whose sides are fixed and firm;
and, as they are drawn into a cistern, or over a bed made hollow for
their reception, above the brink of the well, no great exertion is
required in emptying them; the waters discharging voluntarily when the
_moot_ is suffered, by the slackening of the rope, to touch the bottom
of the bed, or cistern.

It may reasonably be inferred, that such a weight of water as may be
contained in an ordinary ox or cow hide, though of small growth, must be
more than manual strength could well manage; especially as the pulley is
extremely small, rarely more than six or seven inches in diameter,
nearly as much in width, and moving on a rude piece of wood for an axis;
of which, probably, nearly half has been lost by the excessive friction
so unfinished, and ill proportioned, a piece of machinery must occasion.
Not one in a thousand ever is lubricated, but the hole in the shieve is
generally adequate to the admission of an axis treble the size of that
in use; whence the pulley must jump from one inequality to another;
creating, at every such transition, a check of some consequence to that
power whence it derives its motion.

To draw water by means of the _moot_, two men and a pair oxen are
requisite: the size of the _moot_ being proportioned to the bulk of the
cattle, which are yoked in the ordinary manner, drawing by means of the
rope fastened round the centre of the yoke, and passing between them.
The strength of the oxen is aided very considerably, by the path they
follow being on a declivity; so that, in proceeding from the well, as
they draw up the _moot_, they descend a talus, or slope, of which the
angle may vary from fifteen to twenty-five degrees: the driver
frequently seats himself on the yoke, to encrease the weight acting in
opposition to the _moot_.

The quantity of earth derived from the shaft of the well, rarely
suffices to give the talus sufficient slope, therefore, one half the
length of the bullock’s track (which is regulated by the length of the
rope, and may usually measure about twenty-five yards) is sunk in the
ground, and the height near the well raised with the proceeds of the
excavation. This ensures a sufficient addition to the energies of the
cattle in descending: which they do with great effect, when goaded by
the driver. Arriving at the bottom of the slope, or when the _moot_ is
raised above the surface of the well, the cattle stop, and the man in
attendance at the brink draws the _moot_ over the bed, or cistern, which
is made to project over about one-third of the well.

Some of the wells seen at the sides of the great roads, measure fifteen
or sixteen feet in diameter, and have slopes cut out of the soil, lined
on each side with masonry, that lead to an opening in the well’s
circumference, near to the ordinary level of the water; which, in the
dry season, is generally within very narrow limits. Near the opening, we
sometimes see an iron ladle fastened by means of a chain. This
convenience is, for the most part, held sacred, and he would, in those
parts, be considered a consummate villain, that would pilfer one from
its place of security. But, from many obvious marks of violence, we must
suppose that there are men so depraved as to steal these chains and
ladles, when necessity may press them to take advantage of a fair

We should naturally conclude, that wells founded on such a principle, in
a climate where excessive heats prevail for three months, at least,
would be invaluable. But they really are little used; their surfaces
are, in general, covered with duck-weed, and they rarely are deficient
of an ample colony of frogs. Where huts are built near them, their
waters being rather less stagnant, are, of course, more wholesome, as
well as more palatable: the encampment of a regiment in their
neighbourhood soon sweetens them.

Some are rendered foul by their containing fish. It would be difficult
to account for fish being there, unless they fall with the heavy showers
attendant upon those violent squalls called north-westers, during the
hot season, when multitudes of small fry have been occasionally found,
even on the tops of houses, in various parts of the country. Some assert
that many have been found alive: I have seen some lying dead; once, in
particular, near Allahabad, after a very heavy shower of rain. It does
not appear possible, that, even if sucked up by a water-spout, and
immediately returned with the rain, they could survive the rapidity of
the ascent, and the force with which they fall.

It is remarkable, that only three kinds of fish are ever seen in wells;
viz. the _solee_, which, in a great measure, resembles our _pike_, and
is equally ravenous; the _gurrye_, or mud-fish, very similar in form to
our _miller’s thumb_; and the _singnee_, or bayonet-fish, so called from
its having three terrible spines in its dorsal and lateral fins, the
wounds made by which are, generally, very severe. This fish has a
purplish skin, without scales, is thin like a substantial pork knife,
and has a broad flat head. Like the _gurrye_, it is found only among mud
and slime, wherein it works very nimbly. Both species can live a long
while in moist mud; as is proved by their being found in recent puddles,
where water had formerly been dried up. It is remarkable, that both the
_gurrye_ and the _singnee_ are very sweet eating, and are never muddy;
the latter in particular.

If we except those small streams that come down from mountains
containing ores, which must, of course, impregnate the waters in those
parts, the catalogue of mineral springs, as yet discovered in Bengal,
and the subordinate stations under that presidency, will be found very
confined indeed. Possibly, numbers may exist that are not generally
known; and this I am the more apt to believe, from having myself
discovered one within a few yards of the road on the west bank of the
Mahana, a small river which rises among the hills near the
Catcumsandy-pass in the Ramghur district. The river being much swelled
by heavy rains, I was compelled to wait until it subsided sufficiently
to admit of my being conveyed over on a raft made of pots.

The mineral water above mentioned would, very probably, have escaped my
notice, had I not been attracted by a nauseous smell, and the black
greasy appearance of the soil whence it issued. The flavor was soapy,
but strongly sulphuric; and a slight scum, which appeared to rise with
the spring, was peculiarly acrid. I do not believe it was ever analyzed,
but should conjecture it to have proceeded from a bed composed of
sulphur and bitumen; especially as coals are found within that district.

There is a very remarkable hot-spring at a place call _Seetah-Coon_,
within three miles of the fort of _Monghyr_. This, it appears, has been
known for ages, it is about twelve or fourteen feet square, and may be
from seven to eight feet deep in the middle: that, however, must be
taken as a computation; the sides being of masonry, shelving in greatly,
and the bottom not remarkably clear of weeds, &c. The water is very hot:
it was with great difficulty I could keep my finger immersed during the
time I counted one hundred and five; and that, too, rather hastily, it
being for a wager. My finger, far from being the better for my
curiosity, was slightly blistered. I have seen an egg moderately poached
at this spring, and have heard that one was boiled in it; but, I
apprehend, not to any degree of firmness.

The most complete proof that a large portion of caloric is contained in
this spring, may be collected from the melancholy fact, of an artillery
soldier, who, in the year 1777, attempting to swim across, was scalded
in such a manner as to expire shortly after being taken out.

The natives, who judge by appearances, and, probably, are guided in this
particular from the encreased quantity of vapour that appears during the
winter to rise from the spring, affirm, that the water is then
considerably hotter than at any other season. The fallacy of such an
opinion is easily detected, and has, indeed, been proved: several
gentlemen have been at the trouble of keeping a register of its daily
variations, which were found to be extremely small. I could not assert
myself to be correct in stating its average degree of heat, having
mislaid my memoranda on that head; but, to the best of my memory, the
temperature lay between 140° and 160° of Fahrenheit.

This well, of which the waters are considered remarkably wholesome,
stands on the borders of a small plantation of (I believe mango) trees;
near to three or four other wells, of which the waters are cold, and
have not any distinguishing quality. The redundant water from the hot
well affords a stream, whose section may be equal to thirty square
inches; it passes into a large marsh, of at least twenty acres, close to
the plantation, where it nourishes a great variety of aquatic plants,
that appear to grow with more than ordinary vigor.

The same negligence in regard to botany and natural history, which
appears to operate throughout India, (if we except the labours of a few
zealous individuals, among whom, Captain T. Hardwicke, of the Bengal
Artillery; Dr. Roxburgh, Superintendant of the Botanic Garden at
Calcutta; Dr. Bruce, formerly Physician to the Nabob of Oude; and Dr.
William Hunter, of the Bengal Medical Department; are the most
conspicuous,) seems to operate against enquiry into various important
matters relating to the mineral waters; which, I doubt not, would be
found in abundance, were either the cost of research so moderate as to
permit active individuals to explore the vast regions whose very
boundaries are, as yet, scarcely known; or, were the Government of India
to defray the expence of a few capable men, whose time should be wholly
devoted to an enquiry into whatever might appertain to botany,
mineralogy, natural history, and the various branches of knowledge on
which chemistry and physic depend. The disbursement could not be felt;
while, not only would the world at large be benefitted, but, possibly,
some new articles of trade, or for manufacture, might be discovered;
whereby even the Company itself would derive those _solid_ advantages to
which, on most occasions, they direct the attention of their servants.

Such has been the negligence shewn in regard to the hot well at Monghyr,
that, although it stands within two miles of the Ganges, is not more
than three miles from the Fort of Monghyr, (a grand depôt for stores,
garrisoned by upwards of two thousand invalids,) and is in the direct
track from Calcutta to the upper provinces; nay, although the waters of
this well are sent for from all parts of the country, and form,
frequently, a part of the stock of persons, especially ladies, going to
sea; for which purpose it is bottled in very large quantities; yet,
strange to tell, its properties have never been duly analyzed. I have
been in company with various medical men, who differed as to its basis;
some asserting it to be chalybeate, others considering it as impregnated
with soda, while some, I know not why, declared it to possess no
particular impregnation, nor any active principle.

It must be evident, that, in a country whose soil is subject to be
parched during so many months in the year, heavy fogs and miasma must
abound; consequently, during the four months following the cessation of
the annual rains, it frequently happens that the atmosphere is laden
with mists and vapors until a very late hour in the day. In great
cities, the bad effects of these are not so perceptible, on account of
the general fumigation which takes place during the evenings, when the
bulk of the inhabitants, as if by general consent, kindle fires for the
purpose of cooking their victuals; of which they rarely eat at an
earlier hour than six or seven o’clock; the cold remains of the repast
being put by for the morning’s meal. This fortuitous circumstance tends
to purify the air, and obviates a large portion of those evils to which
the villages, which stand more exposed in the midst of the marshy
tracts, are imminently subject. In such, it is common to find a very
large portion of the inhabitants annually laid up with intermittents of
a very obstinate description, but from which they are rescued by their
moderation in regard to diet, and by a few medicinal simples every where
common, and whose application is sufficiently understood. Great numbers
are, however, swept off by the disease itself, or by the obstructions it
generally creates. Those obstructions are ever to be dreaded, even
though a perfect cure should apparently have taken place. It is by no
means uncommon to see persons, especially Europeans, who have, to
appearance, been cured of Jungle, or Hill-fevers, as they are locally
designated, and which correspond exactly with our Marsh-fever, laid up
at either the full or change of the moon, or, possibly, at both, for
years after.

Many have affected to doubt the planetary influence on the human
constitution, but, to me, there appears every reason to accredit the
opinion. I have seen so many instances, among my own most intimate
friends, as well as a thousand ordinary cases among soldiers,
camp-followers, villagers, &c., that my mind was fully made up on the
subject long before I had the opportunity of perusing the treatise of
Dr. Francis Balfour, of the Bengal Medical Establishment; from which I
offer to the consideration of my readers the following interesting

                      OF THE PAROXYSMS OF FEVERS.

‘In Bengal, there is no reason to doubt that the human frame is affected
by the influence connected with the relative situations of the sun and
moon. In certain states of health and vigor, this influence has not
power to shew itself by any obvious effects; and, in such cases, its
existence is often not acknowledged. But, in certain states of debility
and disease, it is able to manifest itself by exciting _febrile
paroxysms_; and the propensity, or aptitude, of the constitution to be
affected with febrile paroxysms in such cases, may be denominated _the
paroxysmal disposition_.’

                           OF PERFECT TYPES.

‘Febrile paroxysms universally discover a tendency to appear, and to
disappear, in coincidence with those positions of the sun and moon that
regulate the rising and falling of the tides. The diurnal and nocturnal
encrease of sol-lunar power acting on constitutions, in which the
propensity of the paroxysmal disposition is complete and perfect,
produces paroxysms every twelve hours, in coincidence with the periods
of the tides; and constitute types which, on account of this regular
coincide, I denominate perfect.’

                          OF IMPERFECT TYPES.

‘The diurnal and nocturnal encrease of sol-lunar power acting on
constitutions in which the propensity to paroxysm is incomplete, or
imperfect, has power only to produce paroxysms in coincidence with every
second, third, or fourth, period of the tides, or others, more remote;
constituting _types_, which, on account of this irregular coincidence, I
have called _imperfect_.’

Doctor Balfour states, in a note, that, ‘In several cases of the plague,
recorded by Dr. Patrick Russell, the febrile paroxysms returned
obviously every four hours, in coincidence with the periods of the
tides; and his predecessor and relation, the author of ’_The Natural
History of Aleppo_,‘ asserts positively, that the generality of the
fevers there, and, indeed, in almost all acute cases, are subject to
exacerbations once or twice in twenty-four hours.’

In Cordiner’s Description of Ceylon, I find the following
passage:—‘Medical men have discovered this swelling’ (viz. the
_elephantiasis_) ‘to be an effect of fever, _which returns on the
patients monthly_.’ (Vol. I. page 182.)

The natives, generally in the first instance, have recourse to the
_bit-noben_ or _kala-neemuk_, (_i.e._ black-salt,) a solution of which,
though certainly very disgusting, on account of its taste, strongly
reminding us of the scent of gun washings, or of rotten eggs, proves an
excellent cathartic, and, if duly persisted in, rarely fails to rid the
patient of an immense quantity of bile. That being effected, a strong
decoction of _cherrettah_, a root about the size of slender birch twigs,
but of a redder color, and possessing some of the properties of Peruvian
bark, is frequently taken. But, the best medicine in the catalogue of
Indian simples certainly is the _lotah_, or _kaut-kullaigee_, which is
the kernel taken from the pod of a creeping kind of cow-itch. This
kernel is extremely bitter, and possesses all the virtues of the bark;
but with this advantage, that, in lieu of binding, it commonly proves
very mildly aperient when taken to the amount of two or three nuts
daily. I have often given it, with great success, during the paroxysms
of an ague; having previously cleared the stomach and intestines by
suitable means, such as ipecacuanha and calomel.

That we are absolutely in a state of ignorance regarding the medical
properties of various plants, highly appreciated by the natives, cannot
be denied; we must not, however, yield an implicit belief to the many
marvellous stories related throughout Hindostan, of the extraordinary
cures performed by their aid: many disproofs of such fables are publicly
extant, and teach us to view the objects so highly extolled through the
medium of a _minifying_ glass; thereby to reduce their virtues to the
proper standard of estimation. So fully was that learned, and zealous
president of the Asiatic Society, Sir William Jones, impressed with an
opinion of our overlooking many of the most valuable of nature’s
vegetable productions, that, shortly after the formation of that
excellent institution, he expressed a wish, an earnest one, indeed, for
early framing a code of the botany of Hindostan in particular; and, in a
short address to the society, urged, that a ‘Treatise on the Plants of
India’ should be diligently and carefully drawn up. In that address, Sir
William says, ‘Some hundreds of plants which are yet imperfectly known
to European botanists, and, with the virtues of which we are wholly
unacquainted, grow wild on the plains, and in the forests, of India. The
‘_Amarcosh_,’ an excellent vocabulary of the Sanscrit language,
contains, in one chapter, the names of about three hundred medicinal
vegetables; the ‘_Medini_’ may comprize as many more; and the
‘_Dravyabidana_,’ or, ‘Dictionary of Natural Productions,’ includes, I
believe, a far greater number; the properties of which are distinctly
related in medical tracts of approved authority.’

Here I must beg leave to enter my protest against the too ready
acceptance of what the books above quoted may tender to our medical
repositories; and that for the following reason; namely, although the
natives may be sufficiently acquainted with certain properties of
certain plants, yet, owing to a total ignorance of pathology,
phisiology, nosology, and especially of the circulation of the blood,
and of chemistry as applicable to analysis and synthesis, it is utterly
impossible they should be able to act except by rote, and according to
their ideas of specifics; whereby the virtues of the medicines in
question are supposed to be applicable to all the stages, not only of
the same, but of various diseases, totally opposite in their natures. It
surely cannot require to be pointed out, how uncertain the results must
be under such circumstances, even when each simple is administered
separately, and with a patient attention to its operation: but, when we
take into account the known fact, that, on most occasions where the
native _Huckeems_, or _Hakeems_, prescribe, they rely greatly upon
compounds of herbs and minerals; each having its virtues recorded in
some popular distich, to dispute which would be considered an open
avowal of consummate ignorance; I say, under such circumstances, we may
fairly, and, in duty to ourselves should, hesitate to receive
information from so impure a source. It is not my intention to
depreciate the merits of many simples in use among the natives: I argue
against their competency to estimate them; but, at the same time,
entertain no doubt that their several books may lead us to the greatest
advantages, by giving hints, which, being properly, but guardedly
followed up, should enrich our catalogue of valuable remedies. This
cannot be done in a few days, nor even in a few years: whenever it may
be effected, I doubt not that the memory of that president, whose life
was devoted to the service, not only of his existing fellow-creatures,
but of posterity also, will be duly venerated. The Botanic Gardens
established at the several Presidencies, under the care of medical
gentlemen, duly qualified, offer the means of putting much assertion to
the tests of chemistry, and of time: the former have not, as yet, been
properly resorted to, and the latter has not run its due course, to
enable the philosophical world to decide with precision.

In the first volume of the Asiatic Researches, the late Matthew Leslie,
Esq. very sensibly observed, that ‘there are in our Indian provinces
many animals, and many hundreds of medicinal plants, which have either
not been described at all, or, what is worse, ill described, by the
naturalists of Europe.’ In this remark there is much truth; but a
certain portion of the very extensive meaning of Mr. Leslie, who was,
assuredly, a man of considerable abilities, and who had much opportunity
for research, will be received with caution, from the consideration of
his avowed partiality towards native physicians; who, as I have just
stated, are by no means competent to guide us through the mazes of
botanical research. The state of medicine throughout India, (I mean
among the natives,) is not such as to induce the belief that we shall
obtain any valuable information among the _Huckeems_; of whom, full
ninety-nine in the hundred are self-taught, as well as self-sufficient.
What, then, is to be expected among persons thus practising a
profession, to which the old adage of ‘_ars longa, vita brevis_’ so
admirably applies, when we see not even one didactic page to which they
can resort; no public institution where knowledge is either bestowed or
received; no liberal, enlightened, patron, under whose auspices genius
may be enabled to penetrate into the mines of science? This being the
fact, shall we refrain from smiling at those of our countrymen who,
quitting the aid and guidance of their well-informed medical friends,
resort to such quacks, whose reputation they thus unjustly raise among
the gaping crowd, and who have the art to propagate the most unbounded
reliance on their nostrums? That, here and there, a simple of peculiar
efficacy may be in use among such persons, I shall not deny; but must
appeal to our more enlightened medical societies, whether, in the hands
of an ignorant man, brought up in vanity, and regardless of the minutiæ
of physical causes and of physical effects, even the most simple
medicine can be safely entrusted? The greatest part of the burlesque is,
that these highly renowned physicians, to a man, rely upon proper
conjunctions of the planets, lucky hours, &c., not only for the culling,
but for the mixing, and administration of their medicines, without
regard to those critical moments of which our silly disciples of
Hippocrates and Galen are so very watchful!

We must, however, do the natives the justice to allow, that the
refrigerating principle lately adopted by some of our leading
physicians, owes its origin solely to the ancient practice of the
_Brahmans_, or Hindu priests; of whom the generality affect to be deeply
versed in pharmacy. I believe, that, if taken in time, few fevers would
be found to degenerate into _typhus_, and that very seldom any
determination towards the liver from acute cases would occur, were the
refrigerating course to be adopted. Often have I known my servants, when
attacked with fever, to drink cold water in abundance, and to apply wet
cloths to their heads, with great success; the former has generally
lowered the pulse considerably, by throwing out a strong perspiration,
while the latter has given immediate local relief.

Were it not that _cast_ (_i.e._ sect) opposes a formidable barrier to
the more extensive practice of European physicians among the natives in
general, the native doctors would speedily be consigned to their merited
contempt: but such are the prejudices arising from religious tenets,
among the Hindus in particular, that, even when at the last extremity,
many would rather die than suffer any medicine prepared, or perhaps of
which the liquid part had been barely touched, by one not of their own
_cast_, to enter their mouths! Where such infatuation prevails,
ignorance will maintain her empire, until, by the gradual abolition of
vulgar errors, the light of science, and of reason, may begin to glimmer
among the people at large. It will not suffice, that a few skilful
European professors should be seen, and be admired, by a grateful few:
that has already happened; but the dread of religious anathema, and of
domestic excommunication, are too forcibly opposed to such weak
demonstrations. Unhappily, we aimed at a reform, in this particular, at
that very point to which it should have had only a remote tendency: we
peremptorily attacked the very existence of full a tenth of the whole
population, that is, of the Brahmans, or Hindu priests; and we excited,
among the people at large, suspicions such as have given scope to our
enemies for inculcating, that we are intent on subjecting their minds,
as well as their bodies.

From this dilemma, I understand, with pleasure, we are gradually
extricating ourselves; by withdrawing those noxious publications, which,
in a moment of unguarded zeal, we had allowed our clergy to introduce to
the notice of the people of Hindostan. With respect to the motive, that
is out of the question: I am not considering the merits of one religion
opposed to another, but simply the fact, as it relates to our political
connection with the East, and the diffusion of true philosophy over that
vast region. Nor am I here censuring the measure in a religious sense;
though, on reference to history, and to my own experience of the
dispositions of the Hindus, I feel surprized that fanaticism should have
been allowed to meddle with a country over which we, in truth, have not
an efficient control, and among a race whose tenets are by no means
obnoxious to humanity; among whom apostacy is a mortal sin, who disclaim
all interference with the doctrines of other sects, and who have most
amply proved their title, at least to toleration, if not to protection.

I have said, that we began at the wrong end; and this surely will appear
to be the case when the matter is properly understood. In lieu of
attacking that which carries with it no offence against ourselves, and
instead of endeavoring to force upon them our creed, we should have
studied to render the natives acquainted with whatever could tend to
their worldly comfort, and to the removal of errors often pregnant with
destruction. Let us suppose, for instance, that, in various parts of the
country, the Company were to establish schools, where youths of every
description might be instructed in the mathematics, botany, chemistry,
surgery, pharmacy, agriculture, mechanics, &c.; and that valuable
premiums should, at certain periods, be presented to such as might merit
the distinction. The obvious consequence would be, that, in due time, an
infinity of absurdities would vanish, and that, in proportion as science
should expand among them, the superior circles would begin to estimate
our value as an enlightened people. They would then look up to us as
their superiors; in lieu of rating us, as they now do, very low indeed
on the scale of degradation. Such a system would not only give an
effectual shake to the basis of priest-craft, but cause all the literary
stores, and the natural productions of the soil, to be laid open to our
examination: then, indeed, our medical men might enjoy a high reputation
in every quarter of the East, and the world might be benefitted, both by
the correction of many errors, and by the acquisition of most important
novelties in medicine, and in the various arts on which commerce is
dependant. Then should we have no occasion to goad the Hindus towards
Christianity: they would thirst for knowledge, and pant to be rid of
those fetters imposed upon their minds by their artful clergy.

I have heard it said ‘the natives have no disposition for the sciences.’
This is imposing a cruel sentence on a hundred millions of people! Allow
it to be true; and look back to the state of Britain while under the
control, in a certain measure, of the Druids; who are now well
ascertained to have been the same, in their days, as the Brahmans of
Bengal, &c., are at this time. Who can fail to admire the change? Who
could suppose it possible that such a change could have been effected
among a people, who, if we are to give credit to Cæsar, and to other
authorities, were completely barbarous, and ‘who shewed no disposition
for the sciences?’ In opposition to so absurd, and so malicious an
assertion, let me state a few facts. When Mr. Reuben Burrow was in
India, as head of the mathematical department, he was solicited by
several of the natives to instruct them in astronomy, algebra, &c.
Unhappily, although possessing pre-eminent talents, Mr. Burrow was not
exactly calculated to conciliate the good will, nor to excite the
admiration, of persons who did not, like himself, blaze at the spark of
science: in fact, he partook greatly of the character of the celebrated
Doctor Samuel Johnson, and might be termed ‘a mathematical Hottentot!’

This important deficiency of suavity caused the natives to quit; indeed,
it tended to disgust those of his countrymen who, being compelled by
their avocations to attend his lectures, were subjected to his caprices
and gross manners. However, one native, of mediocre opulence, was not to
be scared by what appeared a trifle, when compared with the acquirements
he hoped to possess: he bent to the storm, and, by unremitting
application, speedily rendered himself competent to converse with Mr.
Burrow on his usual topic. In time, the student became a favorite, and
was allowed to attend his preceptor when the latter was deputed on a
survey of considerable extent, and to measure a degree of latitude in
the western districts. Such was the progress made by this native under
the auspices of Mr. Burrow, that, in a few years, he qualified himself
to instruct others in the ordinary courses of the higher mathematics.
What became of him I know not; but apprehend that many others must have
derived some little benefit from his learning: unless, indeed, his
priests found a pretext for upholding him as unworthy of imitation, and
threatened to place all who might consider him to be thus ‘_civilized_,’
or improved, under the bar of ecclesiastical censure. When I say
‘_civilized_,’ it is in deference to a British divine, who has been
pleased to represent the people of Bengal in such terms as might lead
persons who never visited India to set them down for a cruel, barbarous,
ignorant, vindictive, senseless, and sanguinary race; whose
_civilization_ is ‘devoutly to be wished.’ How far they merit such a
character, may be understood from their forbearing to massacre all the
Europeans in India; a work that might be effected by only one in
thousands of their population striking the deadly blow!

Setting whatever relates to religion apart, and viewing our intercourse
with India as a matter merely of _meum_ and _tuum_, it is self-evident,
that to whatever extent we may instruct the natives to analyze the
produce of their soil, and to present it to us in a marketable shape, so
much must Britain be benefitted by the extension of her commerce, and by
the possession of a territory whose value would be thereby
proportionally raised. This is said with the view to encourage the
researches of our medical men; who, from their general knowledge of
chemistry, and perhaps of botany, are certainly best qualified to pursue
them with national effect. Under the present very limitted establishment
of physicians and surgeons, as well as from the _præter nihil_ benefits
derived from the Botanical Garden, when seen in this point of view, we
are not authorized to be very sanguine in our hopes that any important
advantages will result in that direction. While the Company can barely
afford a surgeon and two assistants to a regiment of 2000 men, it is not
to be supposed they could form such establishments of the above
description, as might give us a thorough command over the mineral and
vegetable productions of their territory, or tend to create a spirit of
enquiry among the natives.

The want of printed books is, in every country, a great evil; but, in
India, is a drawback of great moment. There, all books, all
proclamations, (except such as we print at Calcutta, &c.,) all
newspapers, &c., &c., are manuscripts. It is not to be imagined how few
volumes are to be seen even of this kind. We should suppose that, where
provisions, lodging, cloathing, fuel, &c., are so remarkably cheap,
learning would become general: the reverse is, however, the case; not
one in five hundred can read, or write, even indifferently. There are
abundance of little day-schools to which children may be sent at a very
trifling expence; but there they learn very little. Generally, a bed of
sand serves for paper, and a finger, or a piece of stick, for pen and
ink; consequently, no traces of any instruction remain for the future
consideration of the pupil. The more affluent, and the more zealous,
ordinarily provide their children with a board, about a foot long, and
nine or ten inches wide, which, being painted black, and varnished,
becomes an admirable tablet, whereon the young folks are enabled to
write their lessons with a reed pen; the ink being generally chalk and
water. To these, though certainly more perfect than the former mode, the
same objection exists; namely, that they want stability, and that the
lesson is no sooner repeated by rote, and written much in the same
manner, than it is forgotten, at least it never again obtrudes on the
eye; since, in order to make way for further instruction, it is
necessarily expunged.

The _koits_, or scribes, and the _láláhs_, or accountants, (though the
latter often confine their occupations to merely reading or
transcribing,) are nearly the same among the lower classes, especially
where the Naugry character is in question, that the _moonshies_ are
among the superior orders, who, almost invariably, use the Persian
language and character, in all public, as well as in private, matters.
So far, indeed, is this carried, that Persian is held to be both the
language of the Court, and of the Law.

As those who study the Persian are aided by _moonshies_, so are such
persons as would acquire the Naugry character necessitated to employ
_koits_, or _láláhs_, for that purpose. The wages of these may be from
two to five rupees per month; but, in some families, the servants
contribute to the extent of a few annas, or, eventually, as far as a
rupee, in the aggregate; in consideration of which _douceur_, the
_láláh_ commonly writes letters for them to their friends, and explains
the answers, &c. Such servants as have the charge of money to be
disbursed on master’s account, commonly take care to be on good terms
with this _cullum-burdar_ (_i.e._ quill-driver); who, as has been said
of _compadores_, generally taxes all items he knows to be overcharged,
by a small deduction in his own favor.

Persons of this class often keep little schools, such as have been
described, and then are designated _gooroos_; a term implying that kind
of respect we entertain for pastors in general.

If we contemplate the extreme inattention prevalent throughout
Hindostan, respecting literary attainments, and the great cunning
practised by the priesthood, in their sedulous endeavors to prevent the
natives from receiving the least information regarding philosophy in
general, it must appear surprizing that so much has been done by the
artizans of Bengal towards the adaptation of their labors to the
convenience of the British residents. Our admiration of these people
cannot but be heightened, from the circumstance of particular trades
being confined to particular _casts_, or sects; for though we may,
possibly, at first view, consider that to be an advantage, inasmuch as
it should seem to perpetuate knowledge in an hereditary line, those who
have resided in the East fully know that no such heir-loom ability is to
be found: on the other hand, we immediately recognize the bar raised
against genius; which, when to be found within the _cast_, may struggle
for ever under some base, forbidding, and loathsome degradation; or, if
it should start in another sect, cannot adopt its native intention, but
must resign in favor of some other pursuit, perhaps requiring no genius;
or, eventually, one of a very different bent. Once a carpenter, always a
carpenter; once a swine-herd, always a swine-herd!

The evil effects attendant upon the useful arts in general, from such a
system, are certainly great, but by no means to be compared with the
degradations, and consequent imbecility, inseparable from the total
suppression of every thing tending to excite emulation. When we see an
hereditary priesthood, and that, too, by no means remarkable for the
paucity of its members, we cannot but picture to ourselves the arrogance
thus privileged in the whole of that tribe, and the humiliation which
marks the actions, as well as the sentiments, of all who do not stand
within the hallowed pale. Such a contrast can exist only while one party
can deceive, and while the other deems accusation to be nothing less
than blasphemy; therefore we cannot be mistaken regarding the only means
of correction: to wit, a knowledge of the world, and of its inhabitants;
or what we, in other terms, call learning. Pour but a little of this
into the minds of a certain number; satisfy them that morality in
Europe, and morality in Asia, are the same thing; that ‘whether we do
our duties in a black skin, or in a white one,’ matters not; that men
were born to aid each other, and not to be made the slaves of party,
sect, or color; and, that he who knows most regarding the works of the
Creator, is most likely to have a proper sense of his bounty. Convince
the natives of India, or of any other nation, that such is the truth,
and that you practise, while you teach, the doctrines of Christianity,
and nothing will, in the end, be able to stand against so formidable an
attack. But if we proceed, as has been too rashly done, to attempt a
schism among them by mere declamation, or by means of creeds and
parables in which they have no belief, (merely because they know no
better,) our object will be either mistaken, or designedly
misrepresented; and we shall experience in Asia all those penalties that
formerly awaited the avowal of Lutheranism in Europe! In brief; convince
the natives that their priests are fools and knaves, and that poverty,
disgrace, and even disease, are the consequences of a mistaken bigotry,
and the whole country will prostrate itself at your feet!

Waving every other objection, and resting solely on the very inadequate
means of instruction afforded by parents to their children, through the
medium of _koits_, _láláhs_, and _gooroos_, it seems probable that,
unless some effectual reform may take place, the natives of India are
likely to remain in darkness, _ad infinitum_. This is the more to be
regretted, when we consider how willing they are to follow such means as
may be offered them, provided those means may not oppose established
principles, nor be contrary to their ideas of sanctity and benevolence.
Nor can we but repine at such infatuations among a race whose
intellectual qualities, whatever may be said by ignorant or designing
men, are at least on a par with those of Europeans. That they are
perverted, will not be denied; but, that they are naturally imperfect,
needs little proof indeed! Set some dozens, or scores, of our youths to
bellow in unison, (with all the _ennui_ attendant upon monotonous rote,)
any particular passages from the Scripture, day after day, and year
after year; and, after some seasons, search among them for Newtons,
Lockes, Blackstones, and Solons! The result need not be told!

In recommending to those of my readers who may be intent upon acquiring
a knowledge of the language, (by which I mean not only the Bengallee,
and the Hindui, both of which may be considered vernacular, but the
Persian also,) to purchase such translations as may be extant of the
works of Indian authors, I am far from being partial to their contents,
and disclaim the idea of affording any thing more than exercise in
translation when I do so; for there appears to me a great disposition to
trifle, or to the hyperbole, in all I have ever seen. By means of such
translations, the originals may be more readily understood, whereby the
study may be rendered both brief and pleasing; provided proper attention
be paid to all material points, and that, in reading the translation,
the student does not indulge in the erroneous opinion that he is making
himself master of the original. Almost every book written in the East is
the production of some court sycophant: a few have resulted from the
labors of men who, being disposed to meditation, have committed their
reveries to paper; and, a very small portion have displayed such
scintillations of ability, as leave us to regret they were either not
better educated, so as to enlighten their countrymen, or that they were
not born in those parts of the world where their talents might have been
fostered, and duly appreciated. With regard to ethics, numbers have
amused themselves, to all appearance, more from ostentation than from
‘being virtuous over-much.’ The facility with which scraps from the
Koran, (_i.e._ the Bible of the Mahomedans,) may be set forth in glowing
terms, in a language rich in expression, has, no doubt, induced many a
very tolerable lay-man to annoy his neighbours, by the repetition of
page after page of the most tiresome tautologies, whereon his fame has
been built: of this description abundance exist, all alike unworthy of

I have always thought the poets of India to be particularly happy in
those little tales which convey a moral, though a very worldly one,
under some alluring allegory. From this, however, I exempt the
celebrated HEETOPADES, translated by Mr. Wilkins. This, by general
consent, is allowed to be the store from whence _Pilpay’s Fables_ have
been taken; but the original can never appear in competition with their
offspring; for, while the latter are interesting, and afford a very rich
treat, by their apt application to the affairs of life, the former are
heavy, dull, tedious, and of a most motley character; the subject is
generally forced, and spun out into all the varieties garrulity could

The Asiatic student may find, in the several works of Gilchrist,
Baillie, F. Gladwin, Sir. W. Jones, Sir William Ousely, Richardson, and
Wilkins, abundance of instruction in the several languages most current
in Hindostan; the Asiatic Researches will give him a considerable
insight into a number of interesting and important matters relating to
the natural history of the East, the manners, and the climate under
consideration; while, by means of Colebrooke’s Digest of the Hindu Laws,
and Rousseau’s Dictionary of Mahomedan Law, he may become very generally
acquainted with that important branch of knowledge. With respect to the
politics of the country, they have been so much canvassed, that various
treatises on that topic are to be had: unfortunately, all are either
devoted to partial considerations, or written to serve a party!

In almost every country, whereof the inhabitants are either considered
by their neighbours, or deem themselves to be, civilized, the records of
the state, the several libraries, whether scholastic, traditionary,
scientific, or amusing only, are open to the inspection of persons of
all nations; and, above all, the sacred institutions are subject to
visitation, and even to research. In India, no such recreation or
benefit is ever afforded to the inquisitive traveller, who may remain,
for years, within a stone’s-throw of what, to him, would appear an
invaluable treasure, without his being able to obtain the smallest
indulgence in aid of his pursuits. Whatever may be the complaints
against our continental neighbours on the score of persecution, we must
give them credit for the most ample toleration of the million of
visitors who intrude on their several cabinets, libraries, &c.; some,
from the most laudable motives, others, actuated by the mere desire of
seeing all that is to be seen, without, in the least, regarding those
points by which the philosophic eye is naturally attracted. Though so
heavy a charge lies against the Hindus, on account of their strict
rejection of our countrymen, in general, when application has been made
for information on particular points, it must be allowed, that they
doubtless have, in a few instances, been more explicit, and furnished
information on particular topics, which, to us, has proved extremely

In truth, we have no exclusive right of complaint; for all nations, and
all sects, except their own, have been equally subject to denial; or,
when indulged, have been compelled to perform some ceremonies obnoxious
to their faith, or to their persons. Whether this be absolutely
necessary, or has been devised solely with the intention of deterring
the curious, may not be difficult to determine; thus much we know, that,
in order to obtain admission to a knowledge of certain forms, or to the
perusal of certain records, various operations, amounting nearly to
apostacy, though no recantation be made, must be performed.

There is room to doubt whether any true accounts of the antiquity of the
Seek College at Benares, and of the migrations of the Hindus from the
countries bordering on Palestine, actually exists: many persons, of
considerable talents, and of great erudition, are disposed to treat the
whole of what has been delivered to us, with so much solemnity, by the
_Pundits_, or learned Brahmans, as a deception, intended to ridicule our
curiosity, and to repress, or at least to divert, it from the true
course. Circumstances may be adduced in support of this hypothesis; and
we cannot but regard the manner in which the _Pundits_ arrogate to
themselves the whole knowledge of their history, which is carefully
concealed from a large portion even of the Brahmans, as a circumstantial
proof of our having been designedly led astray, both by a fictitious
record, and by a well concerted fable, invented for the occasion: this
may be aptly compared to the whale and the tub. Fortunately, no material
point appears to rest on the antiquity, or otherwise, of the Hindu
mythology, or the records of the Seeks, regarding the origin of that
people; though it would perhaps be found, that their true exposition
might tend to afford many proofs in favor of the mission of our Saviour.

When the immense extent of territory we hold in India is considered,
and, that perhaps no country in the world offers greater facilities, not
only for literary correspondence, but for the researches of naturalists,
the conveyance of gross articles, and the manufacture of raw materials,
which every where abound, we cannot but lament the want of such
institutions as might enable us to turn such important advantages to the
immediate benefit of Great Britain, on the most unbounded scale. We are
absolutely ignorant of a million of facts now included, either directly,
or by affinity, in our endless catalogue of desiderata, which need not
remain in that disgraceful list, provided due means were taken to
correct our errors, and to extend our resources. During the dry season,
or at least for four months in the year, scarce a part of the country
opposes the progress of a traveller; unless through those immense
wildernesses already described. It may, on the whole, be said, that one
half the country is passable at all seasons by land; though the progress
will doubtless be slow, and difficult, during the heavy falls of rain.
Intercourse is never at a stand. The _dawk_, or post, proceeds at all
seasons; and is rarely more than two days longer on its way from
Calcutta to the upper provinces, than at the favorable time of the year.
Bridges and ferries are found on all the great roads; whereby regiments
have occasionally marched on emergency with such despatch, as could
scarcely have been exceeded even during the hot season.

The communication with Europe, overland, has been established, during
peaceable times, for full twenty years; but it was not until about
twelve years ago, that the public have been permitted to avail
themselves of so essential a means of correspondence at fixed rates, and
under particular regulations. Prior to that period, the Company used to
receive, and to despatch, packets overland, in which occasional
indulgences were granted to favored individuals. I abstract this from
the very old custom of sending intelligence, on sudden occasions, by the
despatch of some confidential person to or from India. The utility of
some permanent and certain conveyance for letters from a quarter daily
becoming more opulent, and more important, cannot be doubted; were it
only for the purpose of transmitting bills of exchange payable after
sight, the notices of bankruptcies, the information of intended
consignments, the state of the markets, &c., such a systematic
communication must be invaluable to the several merchants. To the
Government it is of the highest importance! Many complain of the heavy
rates of postage overland, and others of the severe restrictions; but
such complaints are ill founded: the expence of the posts is very heavy,
and it is indispensably necessary for Government to hold a severe check
over whatever intercourse might lead to mischief.

The tables of postage, and of _bangy_ carriage, contained in the
Directory, will enable the reader to judge how far the charges are from
being exorbitant: he will not fail to recollect, that the sums paid in
Britain are very trifling, owing to the immense intercourse subsisting
between the several parts of the kingdom, far beyond what exists in any
part of India. Bath is the same distance from London that the
cantonments of Berhampore are from Calcutta, viz. 106 miles: the former
pays 8d. postage, the latter 4 annas, which is about the same sum: the
other charges are considerably cheaper; viz. Allahabad, which is full
five hundred miles from Calcutta, pays only 7 annas (about 13½d.); but
this is on the great road, while the other is scarcely to be considered
a thoroughfare, compared with what it was before the new road was cut
through the Ramghur district to Chunar.

With the exception of such parts as may be infested by tigers, the post
seldom or never fails of arriving within an hour of its appointed time;
except, as has been observed, when the waters are out; in which case,
many circuitous roads must be followed, whereby the way is considerably
lengthened in the aggregate. Taking the average, a hundred miles per day
may be run over by the _dawk_, or post, in fair weather. Each mail-bag
is conveyed by an _hirkarah_, (or runner,) who is attended by one or two
_doog-doogy-wallahs_, or drummers, who keep up a kind of ‘long-roll,’ as
they pass any suspicious place. Ordinarily, two _mosaulchees_, or
link-bearers, accompany each _dawk_; and, where tigers are known to
commit depredations, one or two _teerin-dauzes_, or archers, are
supplied, under the intention of protecting the party. But such puny aid
is of no avail; for the onset of the tiger is too sudden, and too
discomfiting, to allow any effort of consequence to be timously adopted:
the very act of seizure is a death-blow, from which I never heard of any
recovery; provided the unhappy victim were not so particularly situated
as to prevent it from decidedly taking effect.

Here it may be needful to explain, that a tiger invariably strikes his
prey with the fore paw, in so forcible a manner as often to fracture the
skull; which, generally, is the object aimed at: many oxen have had
their cheek bones shivered by the contusion. It sometimes happens, that
the marks of one or two claws are to be seen, but they are generally _en
passant_, and by no means the result of primary intention. The wrist of
a tiger being often nearly two feet in circumference, may give some idea
of the violence with which the _coup de grace_ falls on the head of a
human being! The _mosauls_, or _flambeaux_, are intended to intimidate
the tigers, as are also the _doog-doogies_, but experience has shewn
that, when hungry, tigers are not to be restrained by any such device:
indeed, instances have occurred of the _mosaulchees_ themselves being
carried off. It would, nevertheless, be presumptuous to judge from such
partial data, that many tigers are not deterred by the noise and fire
accompanying the letter-carriers; on the contrary, there should rather
seem a probability, that many young tigers, or such grown ones as may
not be hungry, nor be attended by cubs, are frequently intimidated from
those attacks they would make but for these precautions. A residence of
two years at Hazary-Bang, the station for a battalion in the Ramghur
district, enabled me to form a fair estimate of the dangers to which the
_dawk_, and travellers in general, were subject. During some seasons,
the roads were scarcely to be considered passable; day after day, for
nearly a fortnight in succession, some of the _dawk_ people were carried
off, either at Goomeah, Kannachitty, Katcumsandy, or Dungaie; four
passes in that country, all famous for the exploits of these enemies to
the human race!

So few valuables are ever sent by the post, that thieves never attempt
any depredations on the letter-bags. _Hoondiés_ (_i.e._ banker’s drafts)
would be of no use whatever to them; and as bank notes are not in
general currency, no object is held out for enterprize of that
description. Nor do the _dawk-bangies_, or parcel-dawks, offer any
substantial inducement; for, even if any plate, or watches, or trinkets,
were to be sent by such a conveyance, the want of a market, and the
impossibility of confiding in any village jeweller, would render the act
both hazardous and unavailing. Hence, the _dawk_ generally proceeds in
perfect safety, throughout every part of the country; while the
_bangies_ maybe considered equally secure; except, indeed, in some parts
of the dominions of the Nabob Vizier of Oude, where a lawless
uncontrolled banditti subject every passenger to contribution: this evil
is fortunately on the decline, in consequence of our having assumed the
reins of government.

It has frequently been asked why, in a country so completely under our
control, we did not establish mails, similar to those in use throughout
England. Before this can be effected, an immense revolution must take
place, not only in the minds of the natives, but in the features of the
country. At present, there appears no desire on the part of the
inhabitants to communicate by land, farther than may be necessary for
the purpose of attending _hauts_, (markets,) _maylahs_, (fairs,) or for
the resort to certain places of worship, &c. For such purposes, a
pedestrian trip suffices; or, at the utmost, a poney, worth only a few
shillings, is either borrowed or hired. The contact of various _casts_,
or sects, being considered a pollution, it is not to be supposed that a
Hindu would like to be pent up, for hours together, with a Mahomedan,
who makes no scruple of killing and eating a cow: or that the Mussulman
would, in his turn, feel comfortable under similar circumstances, with a
British _kaufur_, (unbeliever,) who, besides his condemnation of the
prophet, makes no scruple of devouring ham and bacon wholesale!
Admitting that all parties should be agreed to associate within the body
of a stage-coach, still there would not exist intercourse sufficient to
support the expences, in a quarter where horses are so dear, and where
the necessary repairs could not, in case of accident, be promptly
effected. Then, again, the roads must be suitably made, at an enormous
expence, and be afterwards supported by heavy disbursements, or by a
contribution of labor on the part of the land-holders, by no means
agreeable to their feelings. All this may, in time, pass under a
complete metamorphosis: the produce of the country will be more
generally estimable; the people will relax greatly from the vigorous
attention now paid to religious tenets; and, as their prejudices may
give way to their true interests, will extend their speculations without
fear or restriction. Those who may then inhabit India, will see roads,
mails, and inns; whereas, at present, there are only pathways and
runners, but no inns. There are, to be sure, _seraies_ and _choultries_,
for the accommodation of travellers, but these are mostly going fast to
decay; and, at the best, can be viewed only as shelter for men and
cattle; goods being usually left exposed to the weather. The
_bytearens_, or female cooks, who ply, in more than one capacity, at
such places, and who, on receiving money before-hand, buy and cook such
victuals as may be ordered, or the place may afford, cannot be
considered otherwise than as menials, and not to be classed with our
inn-keepers; no, nor even with the poorest village retailer, ‘_Lysunst
to del in T, Koffy, and Tibaky_!’

There is, however, a wide field for practical improvement; as may be
fully understood from the following statement. The _dawk_ rarely travels
at a less expence than twenty-five rupees per month, for each stage of
eight miles (four cosses) on the average. This sum is absorbed by a
_moonshy_ at each _chokey_, or relief at the end of a stage, who
pretends to be very scrupulous in regard to ascertaining that all the
parcels are right, but who, as I have repeatedly witnessed, is more
intent on receiving little presents of _ottah_, (meal,) spices, &c.,
sent to him from the neighbouring villages, in return for letters
conveyed by the _dawk-hirkarahs_, who are sometimes laden pretty heavily
with such contributions. I speak from what I have been an eye-witness to
repeatedly; as to hear-say, much more might be asserted. It appears to
me that the above sum would carry on the system with double the speed,
and double the efficiency. In lieu of sending off four, five, and six,
men with the _dawks_, let a horseman convey the bags for about twelve
miles, on an allowance of fifteen rupees per month for man and horse;
and, during the rainy season, when the roads are deep, let a fresh horse
be allowed for the several returns, instead of causing the same man and
horse to return with the _counter-dawks_. On the above allowance a very
good steed might be kept, the celerity of the _dawk_ would be greatly
encreased, and there would be no occasion for _moonshies_, except at
such _chokies_ as might be upon diverging roads, where it would be
necessary to have the proper parcels sorted out, and delivered to the
various _branch-dawks_.

Travelling in a _palanquin_ by _dawk_, (_i.e._ post,) is effected much
in the same manner as the despatch of the _dawks_. Bearers are stationed
at the several stages, for the purpose of relief; each station, in
general, supplying eight bearers, and a _bangy_, in all nine men,
together with one or two _mosaulchies_ for night stages. The expence of
travelling in this manner will depend greatly on the distance: if only a
short journey is to be made, such as may be compassed within eight or
ten hours, nothing more is needful than to send on a set, or two, of
bearers, who then receive their daily hire of four annas (8d.) each,
while out from home; or, if there should exist the means of so doing, a
_hirkarah_, (or messenger,) may be despatched to collect bearers at the
several stages. In this manner, the relays may be properly supplied, and
the cost will not amount to more than a rupee for three miles; equal to
ten-pence a mile; whereas, in the ordinary mode of having bearers laid
by the post-master, each mile will cost full one rupee, (_i.e._ 2_s._
6_d._,) besides various little disbursements by way of _buxees_, or
presents, to every set of bearers in the journey: these may be fairly
estimated at two rupees for every set, or relief, which, if the
distances run by each should average ten miles, will be about twenty
rupees (£2. 10_s._) for every hundred miles. The ordinary rate of this
kind of conveyance may be rated at four miles per hour during the cold
season, three and a half during the hot season, and from two to three
during the rains, provided the waters are not much out: otherwise, no
estimate can be formed. The above includes stops.

The establishment of _dawk-bangies_ for the conveyance of parcels, at
rates in proportion to their weights respectively, has produced
considerable convenience to those who reside at a distance from the
Presidency. Until this plan was adopted, few could send small articles,
such as trinkets, &c., to the Presidency, but under favor of some
individual who might perchance be travelling thither, and who might
possibly be some months on the way: the same inconvenience attended the
return; so that it was not uncommon for a gentleman whose watch required
inspection, to be four or five months deprived of its use. This is now
done away, and a watch, &c. may be sent from Cawnpore to Calcutta, there
undergo repair, and be returned with ease, in the course of a month, or

The same kind of convenience is, of course, afforded regarding books,
and all other articles too bulky, or too heavy, to proceed by the
_dawk_, but not of sufficient importance to induce the employment of a
boat, or of a _bangy_, to convey them: nor, indeed, could a single
bearer travel with a _bangy_ more than twenty miles within the
twenty-four hours; so that he would be full a month in going from
Calcutta to Cawnpore; whereas, the _dawk-bangies_ travel by relays of
bearers, therefore can almost keep up with the _dawk-hirkarahs_, who
carry the mail-bags suspended at the end of a stick over their

The communication by water between Calcutta and the several subordinate
stations, whether civil or military, is much resorted to; during the
rainy season in particular. At that time, few are inaccessible to craft
of some description, though but for a while: those immense falls of rain
which cause the ravines to fill, and every little creek to become
navigable for boats of ten or fifteen tons, swell the Ganges, and the
other great rivers, to an astonishing height; causing them to run with
awful velocity. The rivers generally rise in May, but a few inches only,
in June, they often approach the summits of their banks, between which
they fluctuate, rising and falling until the great swell, which takes
place in August. Sometimes the river rises twice, sometimes thrice, or,
even four times, during the season; but, in general, one ample
inundation serves all the purposes of agriculture, provided the rains do
not afterwards abate too suddenly in September, before the rice is cut.
When such an untimely cessation takes place, it is attended with great
mortality: the immense expanse of slime, suddenly exposed to the
influence of the sun, then on the equinoctial, throws forth the most
destructive miasma, whereby epidemics, of the most dangerous
description, are propagated.

The swelling of the great rivers is a matter of great uncertainty;
sometimes they rise very early, before the quantity of rain that falls
in the lower provinces could lead to the expectation of their doing so:
when this is the case, it is not uncommon to see the Cossimbazar river,
commonly called the _Baugrutty_, nearly dry at night, and full twenty
feet, or more, deep the next morning. In other seasons the waters are
very tardy; a matter of serious moment to the husbandman, who is
naturally anxious to plant his crop of rice in due time, so that it may
be securely attached to the soil before the great inundation comes on.
The growth of the rice stalk is certainly one of the most curious proofs
of nature’s adaptation of that plant to the situation in which it is
cultivated; namely, in the water: it will not thrive unless the stem be
immersed for several inches; and, owing to the formation of its stalk,
which draws out like the concentric tubes of a pocket telescope, it can
put forth many feet in the course of a few hours, so as, apparently, to
grow as fast as the water may rise, and to keep its pannicle from being
overflowed. It is by no means rare for the rice stalks to shoot forth
from five to six feet during the twenty-four hours: I have _seen_ it do
much more!

In parts subject to the regular annual inundation, all the villages are
built on rising grounds: many stand on artificial mounds, formed by
excavations around their bases, so that they are surrounded nearly by
moats, in which their _dingies_, or small boats, are immersed during the
dry season, and affording admirable refreshment to their buffaloes
during the summer heats. But it sometimes happens, that the waters rise
to so great a height as to endanger even these elevated villages; some
of which are then completely inundated. To avoid this, most of the
houses are built upon piles, or stakes, thereby to raise their floors
from four to six feet above the ground, and open enough to permit the
waters to pass through with freedom. In the dry time of the year, the
cattle are occasionally kept within the areas thus enclosed under the
floors; but, while the inundation is at its height, so as to insulate a
village completely, all the live stock are kept in boats moored around
it, where they are fed by a species of the _doob_, or _doop-grass_,
dragged up from the bottom of the waters by means of split bamboos, made
to serve as forks: but for so providential a supply, the cattle must be
led scores of miles to some part of the country, whose elevation exempts
it from inundation.

The mention of a country being so completely under water, cannot but
cause considerable surprize. The fact is, however, too well known to be
disputed. Even at Berhampore, which is not considered within the
ordinary verge of inundation, it is common to see boats of great
burthen, perhaps fifty tons, sailing over the plains, as through a
boundless sea. As to the country lying between the mouth of the
Jellinghy and the debouchures of the Ganges, that is always overflowed
for full three months, perhaps to the average depth of ten or twelve
feet. I have sailed over it full a hundred miles by the compass; aided,
indeed, by some remarkable villages, mosques, banks, &c., well known to
the boatmen, who, probably from their earliest days, had traversed the
same expanse during every rainy season.

Were it not for the water being strongly colored, and the strength of
the current, it would not be easy in many places to distinguish the
great rivers which are crossed in steering through this fresh-water
ocean: the water of the inundation is generally of a bluish tinge,
derived from the quantity of vegetable matter at the bottom, of which a
certain quantity decays, and partially taints the fluid. A large portion
is concealed by the _d’haun_, (or rice,) which rises above its surface.
This, in the first instance, bears the appearance of a long grass, of a
rich green, rising above the surface, so as to be mistaken at a little
distance for _terra firma_: gradually, the pannicles shoot forth, of a
pale-dun color, turning, as they ripen, to a deep dun, or light clay.

The grains of rice, which are called by Europeans ‘_paddy_,’ retain the
name of _d’haun_ so long as in their coats; as we often see a few grains
among the rice imported to us: these coats are peculiarly harsh to the
feel, and are fluted longitudinally, so that no water can lodge upon
them. Each grain is fastened to a short stalk, joining to a main stem,
and furnishing a very pleasing bunch of grain, not very dissimilar to an
ear of oats, but far richer, both in color, and in quantity. Rice has no
husk or chaff; therefore is easily separated from the straw, which is
eaten by cattle when no other provender can be had, and makes excellent
litter, it being very long and soft. Where the inundation prevails, the
straw is of little use: the grain being cut in boats, and the straw
settling at the bottom as the waters subside; thereby adding to the
natural fertility of the soil. In the more elevated parts, the straw is
cut the same as in the _rubbee_, or corn crops, and bundled for domestic
purposes: there, its length rarely exceeds two feet, whereas, among the
inundations, it is often seen from fifteen to eighteen feet in length.
The head, or pannicle, generally bears from a hundred and fifty, to
three hundred, grains of rice.

Two modes of clearing rice from the shell are in use; the one performed
by the very simple process of scalding, which occasions the rice to
swell, and to burst the shell, so that the latter is removed with very
little trouble; the other is, by putting the _d’haun_ into an immense
wooden mortar, called an _ookly_, and beating it by the application of
two or more beetles, called _moosuls_, of about four feet in length, by
three inches in diameter, shod at the bottom with iron ferules, and
thinned towards their centres, so as to be grasped by the women; each
alternately impelling one, in nearly a perpendicular direction, among
the _d’haun_ in the _ookly_. After the shells have been duly separated,
the rice, now called _choul_, is separated, by winnowing either in a
strong draught of air, or by means of a kind of scoop, made of fine
wicker-work, called a _soop_, wherewith the native women can most
dexterously separate different kinds of corn, and effectually remove all
rubbish. The coat of rice is peculiarly harsh, and not much relished by
cattle: I have seen it mixed with dung for fuel with excellent effect.

The natives, in general, make little distinction between the rice
separated by scalding, which is called _oosnah_, and that dressed by the
_ookly_, which is called _urwah_; but some of the more fastidious prefer
one or the other, according to particular prejudices handed down in
their families, or supposed to appertain to their respective sects. I
think the scalded rice generally deficient in flavor; the grains are
larger, and less compact; the beaten rice certainly boils with rather
more difficulty, but appears whiter, and drier. The scalded rice does
not immediately separate from the coat, but is usually submitted to the
operation of a machine composed of a stout beam, nearly equipoised by
means of a thorough-pin, on a fork, of wood also, fixed in the ground.

It is inconceivable what quantities of rice, of a coarse reddish cast,
but peculiarly sweet, and large grained, are prepared, about
Backergunge, near the debouchure of the Megna, for exportation. In that
quarter fuel is cheap, and water conveyance every where at hand; so that
the immense crops raised in the inundated districts find a ready sale.
The average return from a _bigah_ of 1600 square yards, of three
_bigahs_ to our statute acre, sown with about twenty-five seers of
_d’haun_, may be taken at nine maunds. The price of the grain, when
cleared of its coat, may be from thirty to forty seers of fine rice, and
from sixty even to _a hundred and twenty seers_ (_i.e._ three maunds) of
coarse, commonly called ‘cargo-rice.’ But the demand always regulates
the value; especially when great consignments are forwarded to the coast
of Coromandel.

Large quantities of rice are usually cleared by contract, the operator
receiving the grain at the door of the _golah_, or warehouse, where he
sets up his cauldron and machines, and returning twenty-five seers of
clean rice for every maund (forty seers) delivered to him; he finding
the fuel, and reserving the husks. In a country where labor is so very
cheap, it is not so very necessary to have recourse to mechanical
devices for the purpose of diminishing the expence of such operations;
yet it occurs to me, that, were tide wheels to be used at Backergunge
and elsewhere, or a floating mill, like that moored between Blackfriars’
and London Bridge, to be made out of some condemned hulk, an immense
advantage would be gained in regard to time. By the proper adaptation of
machinery, whereby the rice might be hoisted in, or lowered down, either
by the force of water, or of steam, and the beetles be properly worked,
the grain might certainly be prepared for market in less time, and
infinitely less charge for _cooly_ hire, in landing, loading, &c.:
should this hint be well received by any speculating European, it might
tend to lower the prices of rice at those times, when, either from want
of laborers, or from the expediency of shipping off with as little delay
as possible, the saving of a few days might prove an object of
importance. At all events, the work might be done more regularly, more
frugally, and more independently, than by manual process.

The rice grown in the low countries by no means equals that produced in
the uplands, where it is cultivated with great care, and subjected to
many vicissitudes in regard to the state of moisture in which its roots
are retained. In many parts of the most hilly districts _d’haun_ is to
be seen in every little narrow valley, winding among the bases of those
stupendous eminences from which the torrents of rain supply a
superabundant flow of moisture at one time, while, at others, only the
little rills proceeding from boggy springs seem to feed the artificial
pools in which the growing plants are kept in a state of semi-immersion,
by means of small embankments made of mud. In every instance the
_d’haun_ is to be kept duly watered; else it withers, and becomes
unproductive. In order to preserve the water as much as possible, the
bed, or level, nearest to the springs, is raised as high as can be
afforded, and its exterior border banked up, to about a foot and a half,
with soil: the next level may be from a foot to a yard lower, and
receives the overflow; which is again passed on to the next lower bed;
and thus, in succession, for perhaps a mile or more; the ends of the
beds requiring no embankment, on account of the land rising on either
side. Such situations afford a certain crop in ordinary seasons; and, if
the rains should fail, the dews falling on the adjacent hills, generally
covered with jungle of some kind, ordinarily afford moisture enough to
keep up the springs, thus causing sufficient dampness to prevent the
rice from perishing, before some ample showers may again float the whole
of the irrigated cultivation. Rice thus produced is commonly small in
grain, rather long and wiry, but remarkably white, and admirably suited
to the table. The natives, though they admire its appearance, are not
partial to it; they generally preferring the larger-bodied grain, with a
reddish inner rind, which does not readily separate, when new, from the
rice: this kind, as I have before expressed, is assuredly the sweetest,
and is, on that account, preferred by those who distil arrack.

Remoteness from the sea air is said to be the reason why the up-country
rice possesses less saccharine matter than that grown near the
sea-coast, and among the inundation; but this appears an erroneous
judgment. There is, no doubt, a great encrease of saccharine matter in
plants (of the same genus) cultivated on spots well manured: now, few,
if any, of the places devoted to the cultivation of rice in the upper
country, receive much aid from manure; nor are they, in general, subject
to the reception of nutritious particles, such as are either floated
down, or are engendered and deposited by, the inundation, which may be
viewed as the grand depôt of whatever can enrich the soil. When we look
to the large tracts of plain, not subject to such an immense flow of
feculous moisture, but seeming merely as reservoirs for the retention of
local rains, we shall then see, that the superior sweetness of the rice
produced about Backergunge, Dacca, Hajygunge, Luricool, Mahomedpore,
Comercolly, Jessore, &c., is to be attributed solely to the superior
fatness of the soil, on which the most luxuriant crops of cotton, and of
esculents, are raised during the dry season. When the soil is fresh
turned up for the second crop, it is generally very offensive, and,
doubtless, by no means favorable to the health of the cultivators, who,
at that season, (commonly in November, December, and January,) are
subjected to very obstinate agues.

Rice is very subject to the weevil, which often multiplies among it so
fast, as to threaten destruction to the whole depôt. The natives have
recourse to a very simple preventive; viz. by placing one or two live
cray-fish within the heap: their effluvia quickly expel the predatory
tribe. Here we have a question for naturalists and philosophers; a
question pregnant with interest to the agricultural world, namely,
‘Whether there is any particular, and what, property in a live
cray-fish, that produces this effect upon insects under such
circumstances?’ Whatever may be the cause, the effect is well known;
therefore the enquiry is so far forwarded as to furnish data, or at
least hints, respecting those results which might be expected both from
marine productions, and from other living bodies. The inhabitants of the
lower provinces are chiefly Hindus; therefore, owing to religious
tenets, by which they are led to consider almost every animal as
unclean, few experiments could be expected to take place among them;
otherwise, we might probably have found that any living animal, such as
a rat, a frog, &c., if confined in a small box, and placed within a heap
of rice infested by weevils, would produce a similar effect. Rice is by
no means subject to this species of depredation when in the coat, that
is, in the state called _d’haun_, but the natives are averse to
retaining it in that form, because the grains shrink considerably, and,
when beat out for sale, do not occupy so much space as when exposed to
the air. Hence, it is an object with the rice-merchants to dispose of
their crops before the month of March, unless the markets may be so
glutted as to cause that grain to sell, as it has in some years done, at
such low prices as could not fail to ruin the farmer. It has been known
so cheap as seven and eight maunds (equal to seven cwt.) for a rupee!
When this happens, such merchants as have the command of money rarely
fail to make immense fortunes. Many have been known to possess four or
five lacs of maunds!

Rice is the most common article of food among the natives, whether
Hindus or Mussulmans, throughout the lower provinces, where it is to be
found in far greater abundance than corn of any description. The
inhabitants of the upper provinces, where wheat and barley are
cultivated to such an extent as to be sold in the retail for about a
rupee and a quarter, and a rupee, respectively, subsist chiefly on the
meals of those grains; which, being well kneaded with water, are made
into _chow-patties_, or _bannocks_, are baked at the common _choolahs_,
and are both palatable and nourishing. The natives hold an opinion that
rice is very injurious to the sight; but, I believe, whatever injury may
arise from its use proceeds entirely from eating it too hot, and in such
quantities at one meal, generally about sun-set, as can scarcely fail to
injure the stomach. Barley-meal is considered, and with great justice,
to be very nourishing, but heating; therefore most of those who prefer
_ottah_ (meal) to rice, use that made from wheat. Large quantities of
rice are carried upwards, towards the Nabob Vizier’s dominions, where it
sells to great advantage; while, on the other hand, immense consignments
of corn, chiefly wheat, barley, and _r’hur_, are made from those parts
towards the lower districts; where they are consumed by all classes of
persons. While the _Baugrutty_, (_i.e._ the Cossimbazar river,) and the
_Jellinghy_, both of which branch from the Ganges, and, uniting at
Nuddeah, form the Hoogly, which passes Calcutta, are open, boats of all
kinds proceed that way; but chiefly through the former channel, on which
Moorshadabad, Berhampore, Cossimbazar, and Jungypore, are situate. This
is the shortest line of communication by water between the Presidency
and the upper provinces; but, unfortunately, it is open only for about
six months in the year; it rarely having water before the middle of
June, and being commonly reduced to a very low ebb by the middle of
December; though, in some years, it remains navigable for small boats
for a month or six weeks longer. It may, indeed, be passed in such all
the year through, provided they be dragged over the shallows, which,
often for a mile or more, oppose the progress of whatever may draw more
than a few inches of water: in such case, the bottom of a boat should be
good, otherwise she may be strained by the immense exertions of perhaps
fifty men, who, ranging along either side, and dragging by means of
ropes, as well as by pushing and lifting behind, force her along the
shallows, and thus pass her over all the more prominent obstacles. I
have, more than once, had a very small _pulwar-budjrow_ navigated, if I
may so call it, down the _Baugrutty_, from Mohanahpore, at the mouth of
that river, as far as Berhampore; which, by land, is full forty miles,
and, by water, cannot be less than seventy. But there are so many bars,
or shoals, between Berhampore and Augah-Deep, about thirty-five miles by
land, lower down, as to render that part absolutely impassable, except
when the river has an average depth of two feet, or two feet and a half.

During the dry months, the whole of the commodities transmitted from the
upper provinces to the Presidency, with the exception of some few
articles of small compass, which may be landed at Bagwangolah, and
proceed to Augah-Deep overland, are sent down the Ganges for the purpose
of proceeding through the _Soonderbunds_. This highly interesting, but
difficult navigation, reaches from the Megna to Calcutta, near to which
a canal offers to adventurers a safe and easy communication between the
Hoogly and the Salt-Water Lake, which lies at the back of Calcutta. The
generality of trading and passage vessels proceed by this cut, paying a
moderate toll, either on the tonnage of the former, or the number of
oars of the latter. But the salt vessels despatched from Joynaghur, &c.,
with the produce of the different pans in that quarter, commonly take
the lower passages near _Chingree-Cauly_, and _Culpee_, which are by far
the most dangerous, though rather more direct.

The _Soonderbunds_, or _Sunderbunds_, consist of an immense wilderness,
full fifty miles in depth, and in length about a hundred and eighty
miles. This wilderness, which borders the coast to the water’s edge,
forming a strong natural barrier in that quarter, occupies the whole of
what is called the Delta of the Ganges; every where intersected by great
rivers, and innumerable creeks, in which the tides are so intermixed,
that a pilot is absolutely necessary, both to thread the intricacies of
the passage, and to point out at what particular parts the currents
will, at certain times, be favorable in proceeding either to the
eastward or to the westward. In many places there is scarcely breadth
for the passing of a single boat, and even then the boughs of the
immense trees, and of the subordinate jungle, frequently are found so to
hang over, as nearly to debar the progress of ordinary trading vessels.
Fortunately, these narrow creeks are short, or, at least, have in
various parts such little bays as enable boats to pass: one or two are,
however, so limitted throughout in point of width, as to render it
expedient that musquets should be discharged before a boat proceeds, in
order that others may not enter at the opposite end of the narrow: but
for such a precaution, one of them would be compelled to put back. The
water being brackish, or rather absolutely salt, throughout the
_Sunderbunds_, it is necessary for all who navigate this passage, to
take a good stock; calculating for at least a fortnight’s service. Even
the villages, which here and there are to be found on the banks of the
great rivers, are sometimes supplied from a great distance; especially
during the dry season, when the tides are very powerful.

The regular trading vessels, which pass through the Sunderbunds, perhaps
every month, or two, are usually provided with very large _nauds_, or
_gounlahs_, made in the form of a rather flat turnep, of a black earth
which bakes very hard. Casks are never used in India for water; all the
ships in the country trade have one or more tanks made of _teak_ wood,
rendered perfectly water tight, and containing from twenty to fifty
butts. The water is thus carried in a small compass, and remains sweet
much longer than when in casks. Even if no other reason could be
assigned, it must be obvious, that, in a tank, the surface of wood
necessary to contain fifty butts of water, will not exceed six hundred
and fifty square feet; whereas, each of the fifty butts would present a
surface of more than forty feet, whence the whole must amount to two
thousand square feet.

Where a ship is navigated by lascars, many rules and ceremonies are
adopted for the preservation of the water from impure contact. When
native troops are on board, only particular persons are allowed to lay
it in, or to serve it out, and even under such precaution, many of the
more fastidious shew great aversion to using the tank water; often
undergoing great sufferings, both from hunger and from thirst, rather
than drink of it, or even taste of viands prepared therewith. But this
prejudice has, of late years, subsided considerably, in consequence of
the frequent occasions the British government have had to send native
troops on distant expeditions by sea.

Casks would certainly prove obnoxious to servants, and others,
proceeding through the Soonderbunds, owing to a general opinion among
them, that we convey spirits, meat, &c., in such vessels; which, having
been once used for such a purpose, could never be viewed by them as
receptacles for beverage, without disgust and execration.

The town of Calcutta is supplied with firewood by persons who resort to
the woods, about twenty-five miles from Calcutta, where they cut the
smaller kinds of _serress_, _jarrool_, _soondry_, _g’hob_, &c., into
junks about four feet in length, which are rived into two or four
pieces, according to their diameter, and carried to market, where such
billets are usually retailed at from twelve to fourteen rupees per
hundred maunds, delivered at the door. This is the only kind of fuel
used in the kitchens of Europeans, and forms the supply of nine-tenths
of the native population also: the remainder use the _gutties_ made of

It is to be lamented that Government have never adopted a plan I long
ago offered, of employing the convicts in clearing away a sufficient
tract around Diamond Harbour, which is now peculiarly unhealthy, and is
the grave of full one-fourth of the crews of the India Company’s, and
other ships, that generally are moored there for months.

I am aware that objections have been stated in regard to clearing away
the forests in the Soonderbunds, on account of their being considered a
natural defence in that quarter; but, without entering upon the policy,
or otherwise, of such a retention of that ‘wilderness of all
wildernesses,’ there does not appear to me any sound reason for
suffering the principal naval station to be backed and flanked by woods
and swamps, from which disease is poured forth amidst our unfortunate

I have been assured, that, taking one year with another, full three
hundred European sailors die of diseases incident to the laying up of
ships for a while in the river, of whom, the larger portion are taken
ill at, or below, Diamond Harbour.

Those who have occasion to pass through the Sunderbunds, which can be
done by water only, ought to be extremely careful not to venture ashore,
unless at some of the little towns, whose vicinity may afford some
security against the attacks of tigers, by the jungle having been
partially cleared away. The romantic scenery, every where inviting the
eye, should not be permitted to allure the traveller from his state of
safety; nor should the abundance of game, especially of deer, lead him
among those coverts in which danger equally abounds.

Nor are the waters less devoid of mischief: sharks, of an uncommon size,
are every where numerous and greedy; while their competitors, the
alligators, not only infest the streams, but often lie among the grass
and low jungle, waiting for a prey, with which, so soon as seized, they
plunge into the water.

Instances have been know, both of tigers swimming off to board boats,
and of alligators striking the _dandies_ (boatmen) out of the boats,
with their tails, and snapping their victims up with a nimbleness fully
proving the falsehood of that doctrine, which teaches to escape from the
crocodile by running out of the right line, ‘_because the animal cannot
turn to follow_!’

If those who either gave, or believed in, such advice, were to see with
what facility an alligator can turn about, or with what agility he can
pursue, _and catch_, the large fishes that abound in the great rivers of
India, the folly would be so self evident, as to cause an immediate
dereliction of so preposterous an opinion.

Besides, the _koomeer_, or bull-headed alligator, which, generally
speaking, is the only kind to be seen in brackish waters, is peculiarly
fierce and active; far more so than could be supposed, at first sight,
of an amphibious animal of the _lacerta_ tribe, (for it is nothing more
than an immense lizard, or guana,) whose length has been thirty feet,
and whose girth has equalled twelve feet.

Such is the ravenous disposition of the _koomeer_, that it will not
hesitate to seize cattle that proceed to drink of the river water where
it is fresh; but this does not often happen; the places where cattle
proceed to slake their thirst, being, for the most part, rather shallow,
so that an alligator, sufficiently formidable for such an attack, could
not lie concealed. It has fallen within my way to see some oxen that had
been seized by the head, or by the fore leg, but which had either been
rescued by their drovers, or had succeeded in escaping from their
merciless enemy: they were all so lacerated as to be completely

The size of a boat may make much difference regarding the time required
to make the Soonderbund-passage: generally from ten to twelve days will
elapse in making the shortest cut in a _budjrow_ of from twelve to
sixteen oars; while a light _pulwar_, that can pass through the lesser
creeks, and make way against the tides, which are extremely intricate,
on account of the numerous channels that wind in every direction, may
perhaps get through in seven or eight days. Much will depend on the
route: if Dacca, or any part of the Megna, be the destination, full ten
days will be requisite, but if the Comercolly track, which opens into
the Ganges nearly opposite to Nattore, be followed, the great body of
the wilderness will be avoided, and the fertile districts of Jessore,
Mahomedpore, and Comercolly, will be passed through with facility and

It does not appear that any accurate survey has been taken of the
Soonderbunds, further than to ascertain the several channels, and to lay
down the bearings of particular shoals, which run for many miles off the
coast, presenting, on the whole, a most intricate and dangerous approach
to vessels even of small burthen; though, with proper care, ships of
great size may be carried into the Rogmungul, the Hooringattah, and the
Mutwallah rivers, where they may ride in perfect safety.

Mr. Benjamin Lacarn, many years back, explored the passage at the back
of Saugur Island, and presented to the Government in India very accurate
draughts of the soundings and bearings; from which he enabled the Board
to judge of the practicability of resorting to that passage, with more
safety and convenience than now exists, in respect to those channels
that lie to the westward of Saugur.

The spot selected for the reception of vessels was called New Harbour,
and the stream leading to it from Culpee was designated Channel Creek.
It is to be presumed, that, notwithstanding the plan has not been
carried into effect, although occasionally resorted to, the merits of
the suggestion must have been considerable, as the Company have thought
it but just to remunerate that gentleman’s abilities and research, by an
annuity of £600., which has been lately raised to £1000.

Several objections have been urged against the adoption of New Harbour,
of which some may be cogent; but, from all I have ever heard on the
subject, it appears to me, that the reasons given for rejection exist at
least as formidably in the western channels, where some of the
advantages offered by New Harbour are totally wanting.

The time will probably arrive, when Saugur Island, instead of being a
desolate waste, inhabited by various wild animals, may present a rich
expanse of agriculture, destined for the support of an industrious
population, inhabiting those shores so favorably situated for extensive
commerce, and so highly protected by nature against foreign incursion.
The channels leading past it, on either side, are narrow, and certainly
might be defended by a very small force against a powerful fleet.

Many opinions, and some bold assertions, have been offered regarding the
Soonderbunds. Some consider the immense wilderness that borders the
coast, to be of no great antiquity, and pretend, that probably one
hundred years would be too much to allow for the duration of that soil,
whereon such stupendous forests of noble trees are now to be seen.

That the whole of the country south of the Ganges, from Bogwangolah to
Saugur, and in the other direction to Luckypore, &c., was formerly
covered by the ocean, may be readily believed, both from the nature of
the soil in general, and from the various marine productions to be found
occasionally, when wells are dug to any considerable depth.

The ancient city of GOUR, of which only an immense assemblage of ruins,
covering full thirty square miles, are to be seen, stood not very far
from Mauldah.

That able geographer, Major Rennell, states it to have been the capital
of Bengal 730 years before Christ, and that it was deserted in
consequence of a pestilence; that it formerly stood on the banks of the
Ganges, from which it is now distant nearly five miles; the river
having, as is very common in that quarter, changed its course: the
Mahanuddy, which passes within two miles of it, is navigable throughout
the year. Many parts of GOUR are now full twelve miles from the Ganges.

The following extract from Major Rennell’s Memoirs, pages 55-6, may
serve to illustrate the position I have to assume regarding the
Soonderbunds: he says, ‘Taking the extent of the ruins of GOUR at the
most reasonable calculation, it is not less than fifteen miles in
length, (extending along the old bank of the Ganges,) and from two to
three in breadth. Several villages stand on part of its site: the
remainder is either covered with thick forests, the habitations of
tigers, and other beasts of prey, or is become arable land, whose soil
is chiefly composed of brick-dust.

‘The principal ruins are a mosque, lined with black marble, elaborately
wrought, and two gates of the citadel, which are strikingly grand and
lofty. These fabrics, and some few others, appear to owe their duration
to the nature of their materials, which are less marketable, and more
difficult to separate, than those of the ordinary brick buildings; and
are transported to Moorshadabad, Mauldah, and other places, for the
purpose of building. These bricks are of the most solid texture of any I
ever saw; and have preserved the sharpness of their edges, and the
smoothness of their surfaces, through a series of ages.

‘The situation of Gour was highly convenient for the capital of Bengal
and Bahar, as united under one government; being nearly centrical with
respect to the populous parts of those provinces, and near the junction
of the principal rivers that compose that extraordinary inland
navigation for which those provinces are formed; and, moreover, secured
by the Ganges, and other rivers, on the only quarter from which Bengal
has any cause for apprehension.’

Here I feel at a loss; for the author has evidently been deficient in
that perspicuity which characterizes his work; it does not appear to me
what quarter is meant in this instance; the greater part of Bengal being
divided from GOUR by that same river, the Ganges, which is here
described as a protection to GOUR against incursions from Bahar. If this
be not the Major’s meaning, I can find no other; at all events, the
passage is incongruous.

Setting, however, that matter at rest, as being irrelevant on this
occasion, I shall proceed to observe, that throughout the Delta of the
Ganges, which forms an area of full twenty thousand square miles, (it
being nearly a right-angled triangle, whose sides average about two
hundred miles,) we have not one vestige of remote date!

It has, no doubt, been asserted by some travellers, and I have heard
several of the natives declare, that, in some parts of the Soonderbunds,
ruins of great extent are to be seen. These are said to be the remains
of cities which formerly flourished on the borders of the ocean, but
were abandoned in consequence of the depredations of the _Burmans_, or
_Muggs_, who inhabited the country lying south of Chittagong, and who
have, within the last fifteen years, called to our memory that such a
nation was still in existence.

Admitting the existence of such reputed ruins, we have no right to place
them to the account of the earlier ages; we have no records of their
existence; the whole of the details that have hitherto been offered to
the world, either by native traditionists, or European surveyors, give
no account of any such fragments; while, on the other hand, every
presumption is in favor of the whole Delta being comparatively modern.

Major Rennell, at page 347 of his Memoirs, observes in a note, that ‘a
glass of water taken out of the Ganges, when at its height, yields about
one part in four of mud. No wonder then that the subsiding waters should
quickly form a stratum of earth; or that the Delta should encroach upon
the sea.’ If we estimate the course of the Ganges, (setting apart the
Barampooter,) at fifteen hundred miles, and take its mean width at half
a mile; which is, indeed, reducing that magnificent flow of water to a
mere stream, we have then a surface of seven hundred and fifty square
miles, of which, one fourth is said to be mud, or matter light enough to
be kept suspended by the violence of the current. This should give
nearly two hundred square miles of soil.

The foregoing computation proves the Delta to contain twenty thousand
square miles; therefore, if Major Rennell’s hypothesis be correct, the
whole of the Delta might have been formed in one hundred years; taking
the depth of the river, when at its highest, to be equal to the depth of
the soil. But, if we recollect that probably many fathoms of sea were
filled up by the encroachment that thus took place, we may be correct in
allowing ten times that period, _i.e._ a thousand years, for the
completion, or, rather, for the gradual accumulation, of so extensive an
addition to the _terra firma_ of Asia.

At page 348, Major Rennell argues very strongly, though unintentionally,
perhaps, in support of my hypothesis, that GOUR formerly stood on the
borders of the ocean, and was, probably the Tyre of Hindostan. He says,
‘As a strong presumptive proof of _the wandering of the Ganges_, from
the one side of the Delta to the other, I must observe, that there is no
appearance of _virgin_ earth, between the Tipperah Hills on the east,
and the province of Burdwan on the west; nor on the north _till we
arrive at Dacca and Bauleah_.’

Uniting all these points, and agreeing with Major Rennell that the
Ganges discharges, on a medium, 180,000 cubic feet of water in a second,
we may easily imagine that the present Delta has been formed by the
sedimentary portion propelled forward in constant succession, until it
gained the highest level to which the annual inundation could raise it;
after which, the black mould on the surface must have been produced by
the constant accumulation of vegetable matter that rotted thereon.

It is a curious, but well known, fact, that from Sooty to that part of
the Cossimbazar Island which lies nearest to the tide’s way, the whole
is obliged to be preserved from inundation by an embankment, called the
_poolbundy_, maintained at a very great and regular expence; an obvious
demonstration that the present course of the Hooghly has not been
settled many centuries; for almost all rivers, long subject to such
overflows as those we witness in Bengal, ultimately raise their banks,
by an annual deposit of matter, to such a height as afterwards prevents
their streams from passing over into the adjacent country.

There can be little doubt, that the city of Gour stood on a spot which,
in very ancient times, was washed by the sea; and we may, without being
accused of credulity in the extreme, admit the great probability of the
Ganges having then debouched into the _sinus_, or bay, at that same

Nor should we doubt, that those sands, which are, at this day, so
dangerous to navigation, from Balasore to Chittagong, will, at some
remote period, be encreased and raised, so as to become, in the first
instance, islands; and, ultimately, parts of the continent; the present
channels serving for the courses of future rivers, which, in so loose a
soil, may, like the Ganges in our times, be subject to changes of
locality, whenever the floods may prove so impetuous as to open new
beds, and cause the streams to be diverted into them.

The Sunderbunds, whatever may be their date or origin, present, at this
day, a most inhospitable aspect, and give, exteriorly, a feature to the
country which by no means corresponds with the interior: they are, in
truth, a hideous belt of the most unpromising description, such as could
not fail to cause any stranger who might be wrecked on that coast, and
who should not proceed beyond the reach of the tide, to pronounce it ‘_a
country fit for the residence of neither man nor beast_.’

When Major Rennell remarked, ‘that they furnish an inexhaustible supply
of wood for boat building;’ he might have added, ‘of timber for ship
building.’ Many very large vessels have been launched from this quarter,
but, no pains having been taken to season the timber, it was not to be
expected they should prove so durable as they might have been rendered
by due precautions in that particular. Nor is the wood itself of the
best quality for naval architecture; for, though it is very strong, and
to be bent with facility to any necessary form, it, being extremely
subject to be worm-eaten, proves a great draw-back on its being brought
into more general use, unless for such vessels as are intended to be
coppered: for such, the _jarrool_ may answer, as may also the _soondry_;
both which abound in every part of the Sunderbunds.

The whole coast, from Balasore to Chittagong, has at times been occupied
by a class of natives called _Molungies_, who manufacture salt from the
sea-water. The produce of the several _chokies_, or manufactories, is
immensely valuable, as has already been shewn, and suffices for the
consumption of the whole population of all the Company’s dominions,
besides what is exported into those of the Nabob Vizier, &c. About
thirty-five years ago, salt used to be sold at a rupee, or a rupee and a
half, per factory maund of 72lb.; which might average about one
half-penny per lb.; but, since the Company monopolized the manufacture,
and imposed a heavy duty, the price of salt has gradually risen to about
four rupees per maund.

The importation of salt, by sea, is prohibited, except under partial or
temporary licences; but it is brought from the mines to the northward of
Delhi in large quantities, though not of so good a quality, it being
generally very bitter, especially the _Salumbah_, or more opaque
rock-salt, which is far less serviceable for curing meat than the
_Samber_; both these kinds are brought in small prismatic masses, and,
though in common use among the natives of the upper provinces, are
never, except from necessity, allowed to appear at the tables of
Europeans, though employed in their culinary preparations.

Salt is also obtained, but not of a prime quality, by piling up large
quantities of the sand forming the beds of rivers, after the waters have
subsided into very narrow channels. On these heaps water is poured in
abundance, and, being afterwards drained into reservoirs, the salt
either chrystalizes by solar heat, or by being boiled in large iron
pans, similar to those used for chrystalizing sugar from the expressed
juice of the cane.

In travelling by water, many points, totally unheeded by European
tourists, are necessarily to be attended to previous to departure. I
have already warned my readers, that no furnished house, no lodgings, no
public vehicles, no inns, and, in short, no preparation for the lodgment
or convenience of temporary sojourners, are to be expected in any part
of India; with the exception of the taverns and punch-houses already
described. Therefore, when an excursion is to be made by water, a
_budjrow_ must be hired, which may commonly be effected either by what
is called ‘_teekah_,’ or so much for the trip, according to the
distance, with some allowance for demurrage; or the vessel may be hired
at a certain monthly sum; generally taken at ten rupees per oar.
Sometimes return-_budjrows_ are to be had at a cheaper rate: whichever
way the bargain may be made, the person hiring has nothing to do with
the pay, or provision, of the several men employed in navigating the

The following Table of Allowances granted by the Company to officers,
and others, proceeding, according to orders, from one station to
another, will be both useful to those who may be proceeding to the East,
and serve to give a general idea of the periods required, in ordinary
seasons, taking the year round, for a boat’s reaching her destination,
and returning to the place she quitted. The allowance likewise includes
whatever may be intended for not only the _budjrow_, but for an
attendant baggage-boat, and a cook-boat.

                           TABLE OF ALLOWANCE
                          BUDJROWS AND BOATS.

                                                        Sonaut Rupees
                                                           per Month.

   To a Colonel                                                   930

   To a Lieutenant-Colonel, Physician, General, or                630
     Chief Surgeon

   To a Major and Head Surgeon                                    360

   To a Captain, Pay-Master, Deputy Pay-Master,   and             180
     Regimental Surgeon

   To a Subaltern, Hospital, or Regimental Mate                   100

   To a Cadet                                                      80

   To a Conductor                                                  50

Officers are entitled to the allowance for _budjrows_ and boats only in
the following instances: viz.

When posted to corps on their first joining the army.

When ordered to proceed, by water, upon any duty.

When removed, _without their own application_, to supply vacancies in
the corps to which they are removed.

When water conveyance is not practicable, the difference of _batta_ is
to be drawn, calculating from the day of appointment, and allowing ten
miles for daily progress.

Where no ascertained rate is given, officers are to draw at the rate of
ten miles against, and fourteen with, the current, for each day’s
progress. The following may be considered the general standard; by which
extraordinary cases are likewise governed.

          From  Calcutta  to Berhampore is allowed for   1

                Ditto     to Monghyr                     1½

                Ditto     to Patna, or Dinapore          2

                Ditto     to Buxar                       2¼

                Ditto     to Chunar or Benares           2½

                Ditto     to Allahabad                   3

                Ditto     to Cawnpore                    3½

                Ditto     to Futty-Ghur                  4

                Ditto     to Dacca                       1

                Ditto     to Chittagong                  2

                Ditto     to Midnapore                    ½

It is proper to remark in this place, that a boat may, at most seasons
of the year, proceed to Berhampore, (provided the river be open,) in
about seven or eight days. The distance by water is nearly double that
by land, owing to the winding course of the river, which formerly could
competite with that passing under Lucknow; which, owing to the mazes of
its course, received the name of ‘_Goomty_,’ or winding.

Within the last twelve or fifteen years, many of the narrow isthmuses
have been cut through, whereby the distance from Moorshadabad to
Calcutta has been reduced full twenty miles; some yet require the aid of
art, to perfect what the hand of time seems preparing for the still
further abbreviating the passage by water: probably, in the course of
twenty years, the river may be brought into a tolerable line; but, how
long it will remain so, is another consideration; as the soil is every
where, except about Rangamatty, (_i.e._ the red soil,) a few miles below
Berhampore, so loose as to be totally unqualified to restrain the
violent current which prevails in every part during four months in the

The passage to Chittagong can rarely be performed in a common _budjrow_,
a great part of it being across the mouth of the Megna, indeed, in an
open sea, subject, at least, to very heavy swells, if not to squalls,
such as give much trouble even to those who are on board substantial
sloops, and other vessels coming under the description of _sea-boats_.
However, during the cold months, an adventurous _manjy_ will sometimes
make the trip with his _budjrow_, provided a handsome gratuity be
offered on such a hazardous occasion.

The best mode is to embark at Calcutta on board one of the Chittagong
traders, of which some are commonly on the point of sailing, and to make
a sea trip at once, in a secure, and tolerably pleasant manner. It is
true, this mode does not offer all the conveniences of a good large
_budjrow_; but that is balanced by the safety and celerity with which
the voyage is made. A _budjrow_ will rarely complete the trip to
Chittagong under three weeks; whereas, a coasting sloop will commonly
perform it in as many days, after quitting the pilot, either in the
northerly or southerly monsoon; the coast being east, with a very little

After a _budjrow_ has been offered for hire, it will be but common
prudence to send a carpenter on board to search her bottom, and to place
a servant on board for a day and a night, to ascertain how much water
she may take in during that time. Some of the best, in appearance, are
extremely rotten, and can only be kept afloat by constant baling, in
consequence either of the depredations of worms, or of the number of
years they may have been built. Some are neat and clean, others are
filthy in the extreme; some are supplied with good Venetians, lockers,
curtains outside the windows, &c., &c.; while not a few, though not
totally destitute of such conveniences, offer them in a most miserable
state of wretchedness and of inutility. The roofs of nine in ten do not
keep out water.

It will, on every occasion, be indispensably necessary to make memoranda
of the terms on which the _budjrow_, &c., may be taken; and to obtain
from the _manjy_ a written agreement; the want of which may prove
unpleasant, either in consequence of any misunderstanding, or from any
attempt that may be made to impose upon such Europeans as may not be
supposed to have sufficient knowledge of the ordinary routine of such
affairs, to secure them from depredation.

The masts, sails, rigging, &c., of the vessel should be carefully
over-hauled; and, in particular, great care should be taken that one or
two good _ghoons_, or track ropes, of sufficient length, be on board;
since a defect in this branch of equipment will inevitably produce great
delay, and, in strong currents, subject the boat to imminent danger.

Let it be remembered, that, whatever the number of oars paid for may be,
so many actual boatmen there ought to be, exclusive of the _manjy_, or
steersman, and the _goleah_, or bowman: it is a very common deception to
count the latter in among the rowers, because he sometimes sits to an
oar fitted out for him on the very prow of the vessel, when there is no
occasion for his standing to throw the _luggy_, or bamboo-pole, whereby
the boat is kept clear of banks, shoals, stumps, &c.

When an engagement is made of the _teekah_, or job-kind, the _manjy_
will, for his own sake, endeavor to get away as speedily as possible,
and will ordinarily make sure of a good crew, in order that his money
may be the sooner earned; but, when paid by the month, there will be no
end to excuses, delays, and evasions: the _dandies_ will generally be
wanting in number, and their quality be very indifferent.

The best mode, on such occasions, is to apply to the police, which,
under proper circumstances of established criminality, will put a _peon_
(or messenger) on board, at the expence of the delinquent, and make such
a change in the posture of affairs as cannot fail to please the
employer. This is a safe and efficacious mode of proceeding; whereas,
when justice is taken into the hands of the person hiring the boat, and
that abuse and blows are dealt out, under the hope of gaining the point,
the grounds of complaint are laid, and the _dandies_, so far from doing
their duty, will either abscond wholly, or secrete themselves in such
manner as effectually to impose an embargo.

I do not mean to say, that sometimes a recourse to the _manual_ may not
be advisable, or even peremptorily necessary; but such must be adopted
with extreme caution, and with such a mixture of resolution and
conciliation, as may produce the desired effect, without establishing a
character for brutality, or unnecessary harshness. If, during the trip,
occasion for complaint should arise, it is best to refer the matter to
any persons in office, whether native or European, who may be within a
suitable distance. The _manjies_ have an insuperable antipathy to this
mode of proceeding, because it deprives them of all grounds for
justification, or representation; the want of which, in the hearing of
an European magistrate, speedily induces to their corporal punishment;
while, in the estimation of a _cutwal_, or chief of a village, it is
sure to subject them to some pecuniary loss, whether by fine, by
deduction from the sum to be paid as hire, or by having to maintain one
or more _peons_, according to the nature of the offence.

Most _budjrows_ have two apartments, exclusive of an open _veranda_ in
front; the latter is on a level with the dining apartment, but the
chamber, which is more towards the stern, rises one or two steps above
their level, in consequence of the form of the vessel’s stern: beyond
all there is usually a small privy, which, being still more elevated, is
ascended by other steps.

As the chamber contracts considerably towards the after-part of its
floor, it will be necessary to ascertain whether a small cot (_i.e._ a
bedstead) can stand in that part of the _budjrow_, without
inconvenience; as also whether the height, between the floor and the
roof, may admit of the bed-posts being erected. If the space should not
allow them to be elevated, they must be unshipped, either by taking off
their hinges, or by drawing them forth from their sockets, and the
curtains must be suspended from hooks, nails, &c., driven for that
purpose into the beams that support the roof.

Though floating on a large river, whose waters are celebrated for their
virtues and purity by the whole population of Hindostan, it will,
nevertheless, be indispensably necessary to take on board a good large
_g’oulah_, or jar, which may be lashed to the mast, and be used as a
depot for such water as may be intended for culinary purposes, or for
beverage. In a few hours it will have settled thoroughly, and should
then be drawn off as required into smaller vessels, called
_kedjeree-pots_ by Europeans, but by the natives _gurrahs_.

Whence the former designation originated I never could learn, but
conclude it resulted either from the supplies of crockery furnished to
our shipping at _Kedjeree_, or from the very common circumstance of that
preparation of rice, split peas, &c., called _kitchurry_, which may
often be seen boiling, wholesale, in vessels of this description, for
the supply of a dozen, or more, of _dandies_, &c.

The forepart of every _budjrow_ is decked, and furnished with two
hatchways, with appropriate coverings: the whole of the part under the
deck, which reaches from the _veranda_ to the stern, is generally
considered by the _manjy_ as a privilege, of which he rarely fails to
avail himself, when it is possible to render the trip a trading voyage.
Against this too much precaution cannot be adopted; for not only will
the _budjrow_ be so heavily laden as to draw more water, (an object of
considerable importance,) but to track with far greater difficulty, and
to leak very abundantly.

If any contraband trade can be carried on with tolerable safety, it is
usually in this manner; because, owing to the general deference paid by
the custom-house officers, and _chokey-peons_, in every part of the
country, to European gentlemen, and to their equipages, few, or none,
will attempt to search a _budjrow_ under hire: the facility with which
goods can be landed, is such as to obviate, almost totally, any danger
to be apprehended in the performance of that part of the adventure.

Government has, it is true, placed a number of checks on this kind of
fraud; but, unhappily, it is out of its power to go so far into the
remedy as would put a total stop to illicit commerce, without subjecting
their own servants, of whatever rank, to the intrusive, and ultimately
insolent, researches of those natives by whom they should, on every
occasion, be treated with the utmost respect and consideration. It is
inconceivable with what secresy, and caution, the manjies act on such
occasions. An instance is within my knowledge, of a gentleman hiring a
_budjrow_ at Patna, to proceed to the Presidency, but it was in vain
that he importuned the _manjy_, day after day, and hour after hour, to
complete his crew, and to have all in readiness for embarkation: at
length, all was adjusted, and the vessel proceeded in high style.

The gentleman was unaccountably drowsy, and often wondered at the
rapidity with which he seemed to be making his passage, but was not
displeased to find himself so speedily floated towards the place of
destination: it was in vain that he endeavored to prevent the _manjy_
from stopping at Chandernagore, a French settlement, about twenty-two
miles from Calcutta; when, to his great surprize, he saw several boxes
of opium, which had been concealed in various parts of the _budjrow_,
and particularly under the floors, handed out to some _sircars_ who were
at the _g’haut_, or landing-place, anxiously awaiting her arrival.

However unpleasant the above-mentioned cargo might have proved, it
cannot be compared with the truly offensive practice common among all
the boat-men of Hindostan, of cutting such fish as they may purchase,
catch, or steal, into slices, and hanging them over the quarters to
become sun-dried. This custom should never be tolerated on any account;
not only because the effluvia are cruelly distressing, but, that,
wherever it is allowed to obtain, all the rats are sure to be attracted
from whatever boats, or banks, may come in contact with the _budjrow_:
once in, Old Nick cannot get them out; except by emptying the vessel
completely, and fumigating her with sulphur; or by sinking her for a
while, so as to drown the vermin, of all descriptions, that harbour in
the numberless recesses, chinks, &c., to be found in every quarter of an
old _budjrow_.

When a single gentleman is intent on proceeding on the most economical
and expeditious plan, he will find it best not to have even a cook-boat
in his suite; but should confine himself entirely to whatever
convenience his _budjrow_ may afford. If this plan is acted upon, the
several boxes, &c., may be arranged within the cabins, or, at the
utmost, under the deck; taking care, however, to debar the _dandies_
from visiting that part of the vessel, by placing stout battens, or
bamboo-laths, across, by way of confining them to the fore hatchway,
down which they ordinarily keep their cloaths, fire-wood, &c., &c., and,
occasionally, make a _choolah_, or hearth and fire-place, of mud,
whereon to cook the victuals of the crew; an operation performed by one
of the _dandies_, who, on that account, is exempted from all ordinary
duties, and who is generally capable of serving up an admirably
well-savored curry.

The after-part of the hold is commonly spacious enough to hold a tent of
ordinary dimensions; but it may become a question how far it would be
prudent to put camp equipage in the way of the rats, which would,
probably, for the sake of shelter in the vicinity of the culinary
operations, soon burrow into the hearts of the packages, and do
inconceivable damage. If, however, no other place can be allotted for
the reception of a tent, and the weather be such as not to warrant its
being stowed upon the poop, no alternative is left, and the risk of
destruction, or, at least, of very serious injury, must be met with

Though not indispensably necessary, a tent of some kind will be found
extremely convenient, when proceeding by water to any distant station,
especially during the hot season. As the boat-men usually come to about
sun-set, or, perhaps, a little earlier, if any favorable situation, or
the proximity of some large town, should invite, a small tent may easily
be taken ashore, and pitched on the elevated bank, where the freshness
of the air, and the wide range of prospect, prove a most comfortable
relief to a person who, during the day, may have been obliged to remain
under the heated roof of a cabin, whereof the windows were closed to
keep out the sun, hot winds, and flying sand.

Many gentlemen have one small boat employed chiefly in going forward
with such a convenience, and which, after the bed, &c. may be shipped at
day-break on board the _budjrow_, that no delay may arise in departing,
waits to receive the baggage left on the spot, with which it proceeds at
such a rate as soon makes up for the detention: a boat of this kind is
extremely useful in many instances, but especially in procuring supplies
from an opposite bank, for going to or from shore in shoal water, for
towing a _budjrow_ in strong waters, for carrying out an anchor, or
rope, to warp by, &c., &c.

Where only a _budjrow_ and such a small boat are employed, the latter
generally has a _choolah_, or hearth, &c., prepared within it under a
small thatch. She commonly has to carry the proper supply of dry
fire-wood; that obtained on the way being, with few exceptions, green,
and causing the viands to acquire a very smoky, unpleasant flavor. The
poultry are also usually conveyed on the thatch of the cook-boat, in
small _tappahs_, or cages, made of split bamboos: this part of the stock
may consist of a dozen of fowls, with a few ducks, and a goose or two;
and, occasionally, is accompanied by one or two milch goats, which,
being supplied with foliage cut for that purpose, during the day, and
being sent to some verdant spot when the boat comes to in the evening,
rarely fail to furnish milk enough, of a very superior quality, for the
morning and evening tea.

The traveller must not expect to be supplied with beef, mutton, or veal,
as he may proceed, in any part of the country, except at military or
civil stations: there he may, perhaps, be enabled to purchase a
sufficient supply of meat to make some variety in his diet as he passes
from one station to another; but, unless in some very particular
situations, he must content himself with poultry of various kinds, but
chiefly chickens, and with kids, of which the meat is excellent. He may,
at some of the principal towns where Mussulmans reside, here and there
fall in with a butcher, who can furnish a joint of _kussy_ (_i.e._
cut-goat); or he may perchance pick up a tolerable sheep, which may, at
all events, serve for gravy, and supply his pointers and spaniels with
two or three days’ substantial provision.

The mention of cutting up a sheep for such purposes, may appear
extraordinary to the European reader, but it must be recollected, that
such sheep are rarely worth more than two shillings, that in some parts
the country swarms with them, and that their wool is not valuable, owing
to its being lank, coarse, harsh, and not of a strong fibre: it is,
indeed, more like that hair which grows upon many horses that are turned
out during the winter, and comes off by handfuls as the spring advances.

The boats employed for carrying baggage are of two kinds; _woolachs_ and
_patellies_: the former are built in the lower provinces, with round
bottoms, and often draw much water; the latter are chiefly of up-country
build, have flat bottoms, and are clinkered; this construction suits
them admirably to the shallows, which, after the rainy season, abound in
all the rivers beyond the tide’s way, and especially at a distance from
the sea.

Some of the _woolachs_ used by the more opulent native merchants are
capable of bearing from fifteen hundred to three thousand maunds,
(_i.e._ from eighty to a hundred and twenty tons,) but their medium may
be taken at from four to eight hundred maunds, which is also the general
measurement of _patellies_ in the common employ of grain-merchants, &c.:
many are to be seen of full two thousand maunds, but such are calculated
for the great rivers only; not but that in the channels abundant depth
of water may be found, so deep, indeed, that several ships, of five
hundred tons burthen, have been built at Patna, which is, by water, six
hundred miles from the sea; but those channels are so crooked, and the
currents so strong, as to render it very difficult for the ordinary
number of _dandies_, proportioned to the tonnage, to navigate such
unwieldy boats with safety and expertness,

The best size for a baggage-boat to attend upon a _budjrow_, especially
in proceeding against the stream, may be from three hundred to five
hundred maunds: observing, that the _patelly_ is by far better
calculated for shallow water, and for the conveyance of horses, than a
_woolach_; but, being so low in the water, the former is rather subject
to be swamped in rough water, and, owing to its construction, is very
apt to become hog-backed, and, ultimately, to give way in the middle; an
accident which seldom or never happens to the latter.

When horses are to be carried in boats, as is very commonly done, it
becomes necessary to make a platform, at about a foot from the bottom of
the boat, consisting of brush-wood, mats, and soil: the thwarts being
rarely a yard asunder, one must be taken out to make a stall of
sufficient width; therefore, if three or four horses are put on board
the same boat, a corresponding number of thwarts must be withdrawn. When
the animals are about to be embarked, the thatch opposite the stall must
be raised high enough to allow a horse to leap in without danger, from
the bank.

This operation is often attended with considerable difficulty; for some
horses are extremely averse to enter upon the solid platform of a large
substantial ferry-boat, such as that at Ghyretty, even when placed on a
level therewith, by means of a fixed, or moveable pier. When, therefore,
it is considered how many obstacles seem to oppose the admission of a
horse into a covered boat, when, probably, he is standing above his
knees in water, and has to rise, under every disadvantage, over the
boat’s gunwhale, it will not appear surprizing that many hold out for
hours, notwithstanding every effort on the part of the _syces_, (or
grooms,) and that a large portion are severely lamed in the attempt.

It is curious to observe how very quiet and temperate horses become
after embarkation! In such a situation, they seem to forget that
wonderful propensity they invariably display when on shore, to attack
each other, even when at a considerable distance; but, though parted by
only a few feet, they become so tractable while in a boat, that their
natures seem to undergo a complete change.

Notwithstanding this periodical, or, rather, local, timidity, it will be
proper to secure that part of the boat’s side against which a horse may
be able to kick; many instances having occurred of fiery steeds driving
their hooves through the planks, which are not always very sound, and,
even if undecayed, are generally by far too thin to resist so severe an
operation: more than one _patelly_ has foundered outright, with all the
contents, in consequence of such an accident; the best mode of
preventing which, is, by fastening a quantity of _jow_ (an aquatic
species of fern,) to the inside, as a lining, whereby the planks may be
secured from injury.

When a vessel is tracked against the stream, it is usual for the
_dandies_, or boatmen, to go ashore, each furnished with a club of
bamboo, about two feet in length, to which a piece of strong cord is
fastened at one end; at the same time, the _ghoon_, or track-rope, is
veered out from a pulley in the mast head, or from a block lashed
thereto, to as great a length as the situation may demand; commonly,
from about seventy to a hundred and fifty yards may suffice, though, in
very shoal water, mixed with deeps, or, where the ground is foul, even a
greater length may be requisite.

The _ghoon_ is about two inches round, and is made of white rope well
laid: if made of tarred rope, it would prove too heavy, and oppose great
resistance, by its want of elasticity, to the exertions of the
_dandies_, each of whom, fixing the end of his cord to it, and resting
the bamboo club over his shoulder, so that it may act, in some measure,
as a lever, proceeds at an easy pace, his body leaning well forward,
each following at about four feet behind the other. The foremost at the
track-rope has a great advantage over his followers; he not being
subject to the numerous checks and vibrations occasioned by the frequent
impediments, whether bushes, banks, masts of other vessels, &c., which
operate very forcibly on those whose cords are attached to that part of
the rope in his rear.

The number of _dandies_ at a track-rope may be too many, as well as too
few; except when a boat can keep close to the shore, and the _ghoon_
makes but a very small angle from the line of her progress: then, all
the power that can be given certainly proves efficient; but, when the
angle between the boat’s direction and the rope becomes considerable, it
is evident the whole labor falls on a very few of the leading _dandies_;
in fact, all but those few are then compelled to liberate their cords
from the _ghoon_, otherwise they must be inevitably dragged out into the
stream, unless those cords were many fathoms, instead of only four or
five feet, in length.

The greater part of the trading boats use a different apparatus for
tracking; in them, each _dandy_ is supplied with a fine cord, about as
thick as a swan’s quill, made of a fine kind of long grass called
_moonje_, which, when wetted, and twisted into this kind of tackle,
becomes firm and elastic; though it will not answer for cordage in
general. Each _dandy_ has about seventy yards of line, the inner end of
which fastens to a stout rope, reeved, the same as the _ghoon_, at the
mast-head, and long enough to be let out amply where requisite.

The other end of the line is coiled up by each _dandy_ respectively, who
fastens his bamboo club by its cord, at such part of the _moonje_ line
as may be let out; generally a small quantity of coil being reserved,
which hangs down either over each _dandy’s_ breast or shoulder. By this
means, each man tracks separately, and cannot be idle without the
_manjy_ instantly detecting him; the several lines form so many rays
from the mast-head, and are capable, when equally strained, to bear an
immense burthen.

Nothing can be more unpleasant than having to pass a _ghaut_ where
numbers of boats are lying: on such an occasion, a man is sent up to the
mast-head of each, in succession, for the purpose of passing the
_ghoon_; which, when liberated from one, swings on to another, causing a
severe shock to the hinder _dandy_ of the tracking party. Some use a
very simple device for passing the _ghoon_ over their mast-heads: this
consists merely of a kind of fork, made by tying the end of the _ghoon_,
of each vessel respectively, then at rest, to a long bamboo, about a
quarter of the length down. The _ghoon_ being pulled, the bamboo is
raised, and carries with it that of the boat in motion: a man then slips
the latter over the mast-head with great facility.

It is not always that the people on board boats, laying at _ghauts_,
will turn out to pass the _ghoon_; on which occasions, words are rarely
of much avail. I always found that a _pellet-bow_, which sends
clay-balls to about a hundred yards distance with considerable force,
produced an instantaneous effect; the first shot rattling against the
matted sides of a vessel’s interior, rarely failing to cause wondrous
activity on the part of her crew; though, now and then, it has been
necessary to repeat the operation, before the desired effect could be

I strongly recommend to all gentlemen travelling by water, that they
insist on the _manjies_ of their several boats carrying a small flag, of
some obvious distinction, at their mast-heads: this prevents them from
lying to, and concealing their vessels amidst a forest of masts, as they
are very apt to do, when intent upon a clandestine trading voyage.
Besides, as in the course of a day’s tracking, and especially when
sailing, it is very common for a _budjrow_ to get many miles a-head,
such a device then becomes a guide as to the propriety of coming to for
the night, or, intermediately, for dinner, &c.

The number of miles which can be run over in the course of a day in a
_budjrow_, will necessarily vary according to circumstances, guided by
the quantity of water in the river, the direction and force of the wind,
and the competency of the crew. I cannot do better, in this place, than
offer the words of Major Rennell. At page 360 of his Memoirs, he says,
‘From the beginning of November, to the middle, or latter end of May,
the usual rate of going _with_ the stream, is forty miles in a day of
twelve hours; and, during the rest of the year, from fifty to seventy
miles. The current is strongest while the waters of the inundation are
draining off; which happens, in part, in August and September.’

In a former part, I remarked that the rivers generally rise a few inches
in May; which is to be attributed to the melting of the snow on those
hills where the Ganges and Barampooter have their source. Both those
rivers, which have their rise at the base, but on opposite sides, of the
same mountain, and, after separating to full twelve hundred miles
asunder, unite, and form that immense volume of water called the Megna,
receive a supply from the same quarter, and at the same time: we cannot,
however, expect the force of their currents to be encreased much before
the rains are fairly set in, which may be, generally, about the 10th of
June, when their waters do, indeed, roll impetuously; so much, that many
a boat has proceeded from Patna to Monghyr, a distance of one hundred
measured miles by land, and full one hundred and twenty by water,
between day-break and sun-set.

Major Rennell adds, ‘Seventeen to twenty miles a day, according to the
ground, and the number of impediments, is the greatest distance that a
large _budjrow_ can be towed against the stream, during the fair season;
and, to accomplish this, the boat must be drawn through the water, at
the rate of four miles and a half per hour, for twelve hours. When the
waters are high, a greater progress will be made, notwithstanding the
encreased velocity of the current; because, the filling of the river-bed
gives many opportunities of cutting off angles and turnings; and,
sometimes, even large windings, by going through creeks. As the wind, at
this season, blows upwards,’ (_i.e._ against the current,) ‘in most of
the rivers, opportunities of using the sail frequently occur.’

It must not be supposed, from the foregoing, that the boat actually
makes a progress of four miles and a half within the hour: far from it,
the _dandies_ rarely walk more than two miles in that time, but the
velocity of the current being taken into account, would shew, that, if a
log were to be heaved, the difference between the log and the boat’s
advance would give the result alluded to by the Major, whose general
correctness cannot be too much admired.

In using the sail, infinite changes take place; sometimes it is full,
then again close-hauled, and, perhaps, ultimately, lowered on a sudden,
according as the course of the river may change; and this some twenty or
thirty times within the day. But when the reaches lie tolerably fair,
that opportunity offers, as sometimes happens for a whole day together,
and that the wind is brisk in favor, a _budjrow_ will run off from four
to six miles within the hour. The river is often so low as to render the
navigation very tedious, even under all the above favorable
circumstances, by forcing the _manjy_ to abide by the strong deep
waters, and to wind in among the sands, which cause the channel to
change its direction very frequently.

During the rains, and especially in the cold months, travelling by water
is extremely pleasant with the stream; but, whatever facilities may be
afforded, in any shape, I cannot say that any trip upwards, at whatever
season, afforded me the smallest gratification. What with tracking,
getting aground, remaining long among eddies, in which human carcases
were floating in all the various stages of putrefaction, the dust
flying, &c., &c., nothing but _ennui_, or impatience, can reasonably be

Here and there a walk may be taken; but he who ventures ashore must be
watchful to embark before the _budjrow_ may be obliged to put far out
for the purpose of passing some endless shallow; otherwise, he may have
to walk under a vertical sun, through bushes, or over ploughed, or
muddy, lands, and among ravines, for many an hour, before the
opportunity many offer for getting on board: to crown the whole, he may,
perhaps, come to some _nullah_, or small stream, over which no
conveyance is to be had, either by bridge or boat!

My zeal for bringing home a few birds, or a hare, has often decoyed me
into scrapes of this kind, and caused me to utter many an imprecation
against the river, for winding, the _manjy_, for going on, and my own
folly, for subjecting myself to such unpleasant circumstances. I must
freely confess, that, in this respect, ‘experience did _not_ give
wisdom;’ for, after full a thousand and one such disappointments, I
felt, at the last, just as eager as ever, to silence such _chuckores_ (a
species of grouse) as had the insolence to crow within my hearing!

The navigation of the large rivers is rather more hazardous than among
those of less breadth. When it is considered, that the Ganges runs for
upwards of a thousand miles through a country nearly level, and whose
undulations are scarcely perceptible, except in a few places where the
hills come down to the water’s edge, as at Sickregully, Pointee,
Colgong, Chunar, &c., it must appear obvious that but little shelter can
be expected from these squalls, called ‘north-westers,’ which, from the
end of February until the setting in of the rains, occur almost daily,
and blow with considerable violence. Even when under a high bank, it
will require much care, and good tackle, to prevent a _budjrow_ from
being blown out into the middle, where, if she is top-heavy, as is too
often the case, and the proper means be not taken to keep her head to
the wind, she will stand a chance of being overset.

Fortunately, the approach of a squall is always strongly indicated by
the black appearance above the horizon, and by the distant lightnings:
when such are sufficiently characterized to leave little doubt of the
storm’s passing that way, shelter should be sought in some creek, or
under some high bank, of firm appearance, where the _budjrow_ should be
well secured by hawsers, carried out, and made fast to, substantial
stakes driven into the ground by means of large malls, with all which
every boat should be amply provided. _Luggies_, (or bamboo-poles,) ought
to be carried out on the lee-side, for the purpose of resisting the
wind, and causing the upper parts of the vessel to bear up duly against
the severe gusts which commonly usher in the gale.

If the vessel is on a lee-shore, the _luggies_ must, of course, be
between her and the bank, to prevent her from bumping against it, and
the anchor should be carried out to windward, into deep water, to keep
her from being forced ashore: a danger particularly to be apprehended on
long shelving sands; where many a well-conditioned boat has had her
bottom beat out, by the force with which the surges, coming across an
expanse of perhaps a mile, or more, have dashed her against the hard

Such situations are peculiarly hazardous, and ought to be avoided most
carefully: the misfortune is, that, from eagerness to get forward, and
from the hope that a north-wester may be either moderate, or pass
another way, folks, in general, keep pushing on, and allow many a secure
asylum to be passed very imprudently! Those who have experienced the
effects of a violent squall about Sheerness, may be proper judges of
what is to be expected from a most furious gale, which often continues
for an hour, or more, in a river which may be said generally to flow
between banks full two miles asunder, and which are, in most parts, from
three to five, in some, full seven, miles apart!

About Bengal, especially in the Sunderbund-passages, _decoits_, or
water-robbers, are sometimes numerous. These often assemble in fleets,
composed of long narrow boats, rowing from twelve to thirty oars, or
paddles, at pleasure, and carrying from thirty to sixty, or seventy,
men. Sometimes their fleets have been so formidable, and have so
effectually put a stop to all commerce, as to call the attention of
government, and to demand the presence of a strong establishment, backed
by liberal offers of rewards, before the rivers could be resorted to in
safety. Between Dacca and Backergunge, among the islands formed by the
several minor branches of the Ganges, and by the innumerable creeks,
with which the banditti are perfectly familiar, it has often been
impossible for any boat to make its way, even for a few miles, without
being boarded by these _decoits_.

As to rewards, little good is to be expected from them; the system
adopted by the marauders is such as to render abortive any lures of that
description. Where all participate, all will be found faithful to the
cause, whether virtue or vice be the leader; and, where localities are
such as to afford perfect security from the common run of pursuers, and
where numbers render the association too formidable to admit any hope of
success on the part of small detachments; in such instances, rewards can
rarely produce the smallest benefit.

Wherever a boat, or even a fleet, may come to for the night, it will be
indispensably necessary to keep a sharp look-out against thieves, who,
appertaining to the several villages in the neighbourhood, rarely fail
to assemble, during the night, under some bold chief, and to make an
attempt to plunder by main force. It is scarcely to be credited to what
a height this daring species of robbery has been, at times, carried.
Were no other occasion existing, this would amount to ample cause for
obtaining, if possible, a guard of sepoys, for the purpose of protecting
the boats; but, strange to say, it is sometimes necessary to compel the
villagers to sell their poultry, &c., to passengers, both by land and by
water, although not simply a liberal, but an exorbitant remuneration is

This does not proceed from unwillingness to make money, nor to sell the
article in question, but merely from a spirit of opposition which
pervades a large portion of the native population, who are often too
adverse to contribute to the comfort, or, more properly, to the
existence, of Europeans. It must seem curious that our countrymen are
allowed to reside among a people of such a disposition, so far
out-numbering, and possessed of such easy means of extirpating, us, with
very little previous arrangement.

In saying this, I do not mean to accuse the natives of India of being so
debased, so immoral, or so vindictive, as they have been represented by
many gentlemen, especially some divines who have lately returned from
the East, and whose opinions breathe by no means the spirit of that
sublime religion they would coerce the natives to adopt. Taking all
points into consideration, and viewing the nature of the country
conjointly with the nature of their laws, and of their former
government, I think we have by far more to admire than to censure, in a
race of people, who, notwithstanding some highly remarkable instances of
depravity, may be classed among the most innocent, and most industrious,
of worldly inhabitants!!!

This is saying much, but not _too_ much, of a nation whose government
absolutely tolerates thieving as a regular profession, and which has
been known to make a very free use of the talents of its subjects for
the purposes of obtaining plunder, or of gratifying its pique and
resentment. I much fear, that, if such were the case with us, and that,
if, instead of being ruled by a virtuous king, we were placed under a
buccaneering monarch, we should by no means find so many pleas of
extenuation as the natives of Hindostan can justly boast!

The truth of this position, in itself so reasonable, is made more fully
evident by the obvious difference subsisting between the Company’s and
the Vizier’s dominions. In the former, the depredations committed are
always nocturnal, and of that description to be expected under the
foregoing circumstances; in the latter, the speculation is infinitely
more open, more systematic, and more extensive.

That considerable amelioration must have taken place under our
government, is to be proved, from the safety with which travellers may
proceed by land throughout the country, when compared with the extreme
danger attendant upon a journey through any part of the Vizier’s
territory; wherein almost every well presents the horrid spectacle of
the mangled bodies of those who become victims to the sanguinary hordes
of robbers that infest every part of that prince’s dominions.

On this account, every gentleman proceeding by land, from one to another
station, should make a point of obtaining a small guard of a naik and
four, or even of two, sepoys, whose presence will generally prove a
considerable check on the adventurous disposition of the villagers in
that quarter. This precaution will not, however, alone be sufficient;
application should be made to the _jemmadar_, or head-borough, of each
village where the party may encamp, for a certain number of
_chokey-dars_, (watchmen,) proportioned to the number of tents, horses,
&c., and the whole of the property of every description should be
nominally put under the charge of the men thus furnished, observing,
that the regular pay, which may be from four to six pice, or halfpence,
for each, should be punctually paid to the _jemmadar_ when the camp
breaks up the next morning, and that every item is found to be in a
state of safety.

When _coolies_ (_i.e._ porters) are wanted, to carry the beds, tables,
&c, of a party, application should be made, in like manner, to the
_jemmadar_; and when, after arrival at the next stage, they may be
discharged, it will be proper to be attentive to the regular payment of
every individual thus furnished; otherwise, the servants to whom it may
be entrusted to discharge them, will generally withhold a large portion,
or even the whole, of what may have been ordered.

By thus regularly attending to matters of this description, the
villagers will come forward with more alacrity; though, it must be
confessed, they are generally very unwilling to engage as _coolies_;
which is not to be wondered at, since the _jemmadars_ generally extort
from them at least half their earnings on such occasions: the evil being
incurable, as matters now stand, must be borne as gracefully as our
feelings may allow; and we must remain content with the reflection of
doing justice ourselves, though we know for certain that our liberality,
in the end, flows into a wrong channel.

When practicable, it is highly expedient to obtain from the European
collector’s office, or even from any of the natives under his immediate
authority, who may be deputed to, or resident at, such places as lie
near the road, a _rhahwaunah_, or pass-port, wherein it should be set
forth, that, whatever necessaries, or _coolies_, or _chokey-dars_, or
_dowraws_, (guides,) may be requisite, should be furnished by such
_jemmadars_ of villages as should be called upon for supplies of the
above description. This always ensures respect and attention, and causes
the whole of the persons, to whom it is addressed, to be vigilant in the
discharge of their duties, lest complaints should be preferred to the
collector, who would speedily summon them to his court, and punish them
in a suitable manner.

However audacious the thieves, whether house-breakers, or collectors on
the highways, may be, they very rarely make an immediate attack on
Europeans. This, no doubt, proceeds from the sense they entertain of the
importance we attach to the safety of our countrymen, the murderer of
whom would be assuredly detected, and suffer the full sentence of the
law. Besides, all the people of Hindostan know, that, with the exception
of watches, which, for want of pawn-brokers, and accomplices skilled in
the melting of metals, are of no use to the predatory tribe, Europeans
never carry about with them any thing valuable. No gentleman ever has
money about him; though his servants sometimes have, in their waists, a
few rupees, intended for such disbursements as cannot be delayed without

Hence, the boxes, &c., of gentlemen, are generally aimed at, because the
cash and valuables are contained in them; for the same reason, the most
confidential servants are most commonly selected as objects of attack.
Your true Hindostanee robber is, in general, very active, robust, and
capable of great deception: he will patrole about a tent, during a dark
night, in the manner of a dog, or of a jackal; the howl of which he can,
perhaps, imitate so well as to deceive the sentries, and throw them
completely off their guard.

If allowed to approach a tent, he will select that side where several
servants are asleep under the fly, or awning, and gradually insinuate
himself into the interior, either by passing under the walls, or between
the overlaps; if such cannot be easily effected, he draws his _choory_,
(knife,) which is sharpened for the occasion, and makes a slit in the
cloth, or canvas, large enough to pass his body through, when, in the
most cautious manner, and retaining his breath as much as possible, he
gropes about for those articles which, during the day-time, he had seen
deposited in some particular part of the tent, and, after making an
opening large enough for his purpose, or by opening one of the doors, he
watches the opportunity for escaping with his booty.

The attempt to seize a thief under such circumstances, is extremely
hazardous, and ought to be strongly reprehended. Being perfectly naked,
and having the body highly lubricated with oil, it is impossible to
grasp him in any part; while, on the other hand, he must be expected to
use his knife very freely, under the determination of escaping.

I recollect a curious circumstance that happened in 1783, at Bankypore,
when the tent of a staff-officer was entered, during the night, by a
fellow of this description, who, it being moon-light, and one part of
the tent only closed by a _cheek_, was discovered by the gentleman as he
lay in bed. Seeing his property on the move, he sprang up to disengage a
hog-spear that was tied up to that pole of the _marquee_ which was
nearest the bed; but the thief got the start of him, by seizing the
officer’s sword, which was suspended by a hook that buckled on to the
other pole. The adventurer being thus armed, prevented the gentleman
from getting possession of the spear: after one or two menacing
flourishes, he darted out of the tent, sword in hand, and was speedily
beyond the reach of pursuit.

Another very ludicrous circumstance occurred some years antecedent to
the above. A gentleman who inhabited a small _bungalow_, on the banks of
a river, and who was very ill of that complaint ‘the liver,’ for which
he was under a course of mercury, perceived, in the dusk of the evening,
a thief prowling about the apartment in which he was sitting. The fellow
was extremely industrious: and threw a number of articles, not even
sparing the bed-linen, out at a window that stood open. The gentleman
affected to take no notice, but resolved, when the thief should follow
his booty, to take him by surprize, while in the act of collecting them
from under the window.

This was, by no means, an imprudent resolution, as it appeared probable
that the rogue might be secured, at the same time that the property
should be recovered. At length, after having thrown out whatever was
convenient to his purpose, and having peeped out of the window, the
thief made suddenly towards the gentleman, and snatched from his head a
beautiful shawl, with which he skipped out of the window.

This feat demanded instant action; the gentleman called lustily for his
servants, who, awaking from their slumbers, ran to obey the vociferated
summons, and were just in time to see a small _dingy_ (or boat) pulling
away to the opposite bank, with the goods, the thief, and his
accomplices, on board!

All who travel by land, should be on their guard never to allow
jugglers, or show-men, of whatever description, to enter their tents;
which they will endeavor to do, under pretence of shewing off their
mummeries, with the intention of ascertaining the posture of whatever
moveables may be within. In this, they are sometimes mistaken; it being
usual to have all boxes, camp-baskets, &c., assembled about the foot of
the tent-pole, at night, and to secure them by means of a chain passing
through their respective handles, &c.; the ends of the chain being
furnished with a padlock.

In fair weather, the safest mode is to have all the things moved out of
the tent, and placed in a heap, under charge of a sentry, who then need
pay little attention to any other object, as the thieves are most intent
on those trunks, &c., which they suppose to contain money, plate, &c.:
as to articles of apparel, they are of little value, and would,
probably, lead to discovery; the handles of swords, and breast-plates,
of officers, being generally of solid silver, may be placed among the
furtive desiderata, therefore, should be placed in a state of security.

When I speak of discovery, it is not to be understood that the same
dread is entertained on that head, as prevails among the thieves of this
quarter of the world. In India, whole villages are inhabited by thieves,
who keep the country around in a state of perpetual terror and of
vigilance: hence, when a _jemmadar_ furnishes _chokey-dars_, he often
does it with great reluctance, under the apprehension of a visit from
some neighbouring gang of notoriety, who act with greater confidence,
from the consideration, that the village, at which the robbery may take
place, will be accountable for whatever property may be stolen.

Hence, a party is always safest when encamped near a village of
professed thieves, who will, ordinarily, forbear to depredate under that
circumstance; conscious that the value put upon the several articles
stolen, must necessarily be, at least, tenfold their value to the
robbers; though not in the least exaggerated by those from whom they
were stolen.

Here it is to be observed, that, in order to render the claim to
remuneration clear and decisive, it is proper that a requisition should
have been made to the _jemmadar_ for _chokey-dars_; otherwise, it may be
argued, that the property was not under his protection. Sometimes, by
way of cavil, a _jemmadar_, of such a description, will find fault with
the position of an encampment, and use many pleas for the purpose of
raising objections, whenever the losses sustained may be laid before the
collector, or judge of the district. If, however, he should refuse to
grant _chokey-dars_, it will be necessary to keep a very sharp look-out;
it being a strong indication of intended mischief.

Almost every _jemmadar_ of character will reprobate the indulgence of
that kind of curiosity which leads gentlemen, on their first arrival, to
pay the smallest attention to the performances of mountebanks, jugglers,
puppet-show-men, &c.; all of whom are notorious thieves, and are
attended by numerous confederates, whose business it is to patrole about
under the semblance of country-bumkins, come to view the camp, and to
take advantage of whatever opportunities may arise, in consequence of
servants, &c., quitting their several charges, to witness the
exhibitions of the attractive portion of the gang.

My memory supplies various instances of the success of this stratagem; a
circumstance not to be wondered at, when we consider the almost
incredible perfection to which _leger-de-main_, the _tour de
passe-passe_, and gymnastic exhibitions, are brought in India. I shall
offer a few of the feats displayed by these people, observing, that,
with regard to drawing yards of thread from the noses and ears of
spectators; cutting their turbans into pieces, and joining them again;
changing eggs to chickens, and mango-stones into growing bushes, bearing
the ripe fruit, making pigeons lay eggs, &c.; all such are considered as
mere common-place deceptions, confined to the lower orders of this class
of vagabonds.

The passing a sword-blade, of about two feet in length, and two inches
in breadth, down the gullet, so as to be distinctly felt by the
application of a hand to the operator’s stomach, is certainly the most
extraordinary part of the exhibition. In this, there is no deception
whatever; the sword is entire, and firmly fixed to the handle; while its
solidity is such as to remove all doubt regarding pliancy or evasion in
any mode: all we can say of it is, that the practice is adopted at an
early age; and that the implement used is gradually encreased, from a
small rattan to that above described.

As to vaulting, the number of somersets, and capers, made, with seeming
facility, while bounding over the backs of elephants, or of camels,
placed side-by-side, are truly astonishing! Throwing spears at each
other, and catching them under the arms, while in the act of mission,
mutually, cannot but cause both dread and surprize: the accuracy with
which this is constantly done, seems to preclude all admiration at the
skill of the celebrated William Tell.

Jumping through a frame that supports several, perhaps a dozen, of
_tulwars_, (cutlasses,) of which the edges are remarkably sharp, and
which appear to preclude the passage of a man’s body through the little
interval left among their points, must be viewed with admiration; as
must also the running bare-foot along a piece of cloth, perhaps ten
yards in length, that is supported, at about a foot from the ground, by
several men, each of whom holds, under the cloth, a sharp _tulwar_, of
which the edge is turned upwards: the astonishing agility with which
this is performed, absolutely requires to be seen ere it can be duly

Some curious performances in balancing are worthy of notice: of these,
the stringing, and unstringing, of eggs, is, perhaps, the most
extraordinary. A man balances, on his head, a kind of platter,
projecting, perhaps, six inches every way, of rather a conical form,
(inverted,) and furnished all around with draw-loops of, perhaps, a foot
in length, and about two inches asunder: their whole number may amount
to twenty, or more. On his left arm he bears a basket, containing as
many eggs as there are loops attached to the platter.

Using one foot for a pivot, he keeps moving round by the aid of the
other, so as make about ten revolutions in a minute, and, while in
motion, successively takes the eggs from the basket, and, with his right
hand only, puts each into a loop, drawing it tight, so as to retain the
egg firmly in an equipoised state.

In this manner he strings all the eggs, and again unstrings and
re-places them in the basket; he always moving the same way. When the
whole are strung, the music quickens its time considerably, and the
operator, conforming to the change, accelerates his pace in proportion,
until the velocity acquired by the eggs is such, as to occasion their
whirling on a level with the platter.

I consider this to be the most arduous of all the exercises in that
branch which depends, principally, on delicacy and caution. If we
consider how many chances of failure exist, whether from a slip of the
foot, a want of attention to the due elevation of the elbow, the aptness
of the unemployed loops to become entangled, the giddiness to be
apprehended from turning full half an hour, with such speed, always the
same way, and the possibility of allowing a newly-laden loop to fall
into its place too suddenly, and the same in withdrawing it, when about
to take out the egg; all these are certainly points very difficult to
compass, or to avoid, and entitle the artist to unlimitted approbation.

I observe, in Cordiner’s Description of Ceylon, some feats of the
jugglers in that island noticed as being beyond compare; but I cannot
conceive any thing more dexterous than that operation, so common in
Bengal, of balancing a bamboo ladder, about fifteen feet in length, on a
man’s chin, and allowing a well-grown lad, or a young woman, to ascend
to the summit, by winding in and out between the steps, (which barely
admit the body to pass,) and ultimately to descend, head foremost, in
the same manner, after balancing, horizontally, with extended arms and
legs, on either standard of the ladder. I have often wondered what the
man’s chin could be made of!!!

Swarming up a stout bamboo pole, of full twenty feet long, balanced on a
man’s hip, or shoulder, and descending again, by first attaching to the
summit by the toes, and measuring a whole length downwards, the back
being against the bamboo; then turning the opposite way, and thus, in
alternate succession; always appeared to me equally dangerous and
astonishing. To perform this, a man must possess unconscionable strength
in his toes and ankles: the first slip would infallibly be the last!

The puppet-shows, called _kaut-pootlies_, (_i.e._ wooden infants,) are
certainly superior to Mr. Punch and his wife, as exhibited by various
renowned persons throughout England. In India, there is to be seen far
greater variety, both in the subject, and in the several dramatis
personæ: there, something like a regular piece is represented, and it
rarely requires a glossary, or interpreter, to define the several
scenes; an aid, without which our artists, in general, make but little
impression on their spectators, whose imaginations are generally set on
the stretch to divine the meaning of various antics, which, though
abundantly ludicrous, seem to proceed from momentary fancy, rather than
from any regular system.

The _kaut-pootly-wallah_, or puppet-dancer, does not confine himself to
a small centry-box-like theatre; on the contrary, when he is to display
before any respectable persons, he makes a point of paying his respects
during the day, and of soliciting the loan of either a small tent, a
_konaut_, a _satrinje_, or some such article, for the purpose of
enclosing and covering in the necessary space, so that he and his
co-adjutors may perform their parts in secresy. It is commonly made a
point that the performance should be by candle-light, and at some little
distance from the line of tents. This is almost a _sine quâ non_ with
this tribe, who, being in league with rogues of all descriptions, rarely
fail to profit by the absence of servants from the charge of their
masters’ property, and, while perhaps both master and man are grinning
at the objects presented on the _proscenium_, are employed in removing
from the tents whatever articles, of a portable description, may be
exposed to depredation.

Sometimes the farce is concluded by a shower of clods, &c., thrown from
a distance, and the whole fly in confusion. This is a device practised
on the liberal, under the representation of the dealer in wood and
wire-work, that some of the _nutkuts_, or frolicksome youths, of the
camp, have battered the whole of the paraphernalia to pieces; in
confirmation of which, some heads and tails of _ci-devant_ kings and
queens are produced. I was once much amused with an imposition of this
kind, that was practised, with admirable address, upon a good-natured
field officer, who actually credited the representation, and, in
addition to the loss of several candle-sticks, and some other small
items, lent to the artists, compounded to pay for various fractures,
simple and compound, sustained by the inanimate heroes!

Among the itinerant amusements of India, we must class the _nuts_, or
tumblers, a people totally distinct from all the other inhabitants of
the country, and who correspond, in a number of instances, with the
gypsies of Europe. The following extracts from a paper furnished to the
Asiatic Society by Lieutenant-Colonel D. T. Richardson, a gentleman of
acknowledged abilities, and who has been remarkably industrious in
obtaining a very complete acquaintance with the customs and languages of
Hindostan, will display this matter in the best manner, and shew that a
greater connection subsists, or at least has subsisted, between the
_nuts_ of Asia, and the gypsies of Europe, than our literati are in
general aware of.

At page 473, of the Asiatic Researches, we have the following passage.
‘Both the gypsies, and the _nuts_, are generally a wandering race of
beings, seldom having a fixed habitation. They have each a language
peculiar to themselves. That of the gypsies is, undoubtedly, a specimen
of _Hindostanee_, and so is that of the _nuts_. In Europe, it answers
all the purposes of concealment. Here, a conversion of its syllables
becomes necessary.’ (_i.e._ in India.)

‘The gypsies have their king; the _nuts_ their _nardar-boutah_; they are
equally formed into companies, and their peculiar employments are
exactly similar; viz. dancing, singing, music, palmistry, quackery,
dancers of monkeys, bears, and snakes. The two latter professions, from
local causes, are peculiar to the _nuts_. They are both considered as
thieves; at least, that division of the _nuts_ whose manners come
nearest those of the gypsies. In matters of religion they appear equally
indifferent; we know that neither the gypsies, nor the _budeea-nuts_,
are very choice on that particular; and, though I have not obtained any
satisfactory proof of their eating human flesh, I do not find it easy to
divest my mind of suspicions on this head. Indeed, one would think the
stomach that could receive, without nausea, a piece of putrid jackal,
could not well retain any qualms in the selection of animal food.’

Colonel Richardson furnishes a number of words in use among the gypsies,
which correspond immediately with others in the language of the _nuts_.
I offer a few, which appear to me best adapted to the illustration of
this point; observing, that the orthography used by the author, though
perfectly correct, would not prove satisfactory to a person unversed in
the Oriental pronunciation of the vowels. As a remedy, or rather an aid,
absolutely necessary towards giving the European reader a perfect
conception of the due intonations, I have, in this, followed my ordinary
plan of spelling the Hindostanee words, in such manner as should enable
a person totally ignorant of that language to pronounce them with

      Apra                    Ooper                   Above
      Bebee                   Beebee                  Aunt, or lady
      Pownee                  Pawnee                  Water
      Devus                   Dewus                   Day
      Rattee                  Raut                    Night
      Can                     Caun                    Ear
      Dad                     Dada                    Grandfather
      Valashtee               Belaist                 Finger
      Mutchee                 Mutchee                 Fish
      Gur                     G’hur                   House
      Shing                   Sing                    Horn
      Ballow                  Baul                    Hair
      Shunalee                Soonaie                 Hearing
      Liecaw                  Leckap                  Writing
      Dai                     Dhye                    Nurse
      Mass                    Mass                    Food
      Tod                     Dood                    Milk
      Boot                    Bote                    Much
      Nack                    Nauk                    Nose
      Booro-panee             Burrah-paunee           Great water
      Doriove                 Derriow                 River
      Lolo                    Loll                    Red
      Booro-chairee           Burra-choory            Great knife
      Roop                    Roopah                  Silver
      Saup                    Saump                   Snake
      Dicken                  Deckna                  To see
      Loon                    Noon                    Salt
      Jaw                     Jow                     Go
      Kali-coe                Kul-ko                  Yesterday
      Tschor                  Choor                   Thief
      Dori                    Doory                   String
      Rajah                   Rajah                   A lord
      Ranee                   Rannee                  Princess
      Raz                     Raj                     Principality
      Banduk                  Baundook                Musket
      Jammadar                Jemmadar                An officer
      Gour                    Gor                     Grave
      Mul                     Mool                    Wine
      Dur                     Door                    Jar
      Jungustri               Angootee                Ring
      Paka                    Punk                    Wing
      Schut                   Kuttah                  Sour
      Ker                     G’hur                   House
      Sapa                    Savon                   Soap
      Menghna                 Maungna                 To want
      Pi                      Pee                     Drink
      Metchana                Putchana                To know
      Me-dikaka               My-deckata              I saw
      Chabben                 Chabna                  To eat
      Tober                   Tobula                  An axe
      Starrie                 Sitara                  Star
      Rashee                  Rishee                  Priest
      Bocolee                 Bookap                  Hungry
      Por                     Poor                    Full
      Geecoa                  Jee-oo-ka               Life, living.

The foregoing will suffice to give much insight into the affinity spoken
of; especially when it is considered that the gypsey words are chiefly
taken from Grellman’s Vocabulary, wherein we are to make considerable
allowances for German intonation, especially regarding the vowel u, and
the dipthong oo, as in _dur_, and _door_; and for _dori_, and _doory_;
the slight differences between which, so far as is connected with
orthography, would probably disappear if the words were spoken by a
German gypsey, and a _nut_, respectively. Add to this, that the natives
of India use the letters L, and N, rather promiscuously: thus, they say
either _leel_, or _neel_, (for _blue_); the capital of Oude is as often
called _Nucklow_, as Lucknow, and the word _noon_, (_salt_,) is very
commonly pronounced _loon_; as in the gypsey language.

If it is considered that the foregoing comparison did not take place at
a time when Colonel Richardson had the opportunity to examine closely
into the particulars, by having access to European gypsies, whose
familiar conversation, when explained, might have furnished numberless
instances of accordance, which, from his accurate knowledge of the
Hindostanee language, might ever have been such as to enable him to
understand a gypsey colloquy; we must admit that strong probabilities
exist, as to the _nuts_ and the _gypsies_ being branches from the same
stock. Colonel Richardson observes, very properly, ‘Should any real
Hindostanee scholars ever investigate this matter _on the spot in
Europe_, their evidence and observations will probably settle the matter
effectually, one way or other, for ever.’ He likewise remarks, that
‘Grellman, from a want of knowledge of the Hindostanee, lost many
opportunities of producing the proper word, in comparison with the
gypsey one’—and again, he forcibly remarks, that ‘It is not the
accidental coincidence of a few words, but the whole vocabulary he
(Grellman) produces, differs not so much from the common Hindostanee, as
provincial dialects of the same country usually do from each other.’

That _cast_, or tribe, of _nuts_, known by the name of _bauzeegurs_,
generally affect to follow the Mahomedan faith, but the _purneah
peeries_, or _budeea_ tribe, follow either that, or the doctrines of
Brahma, just as may suit their purposes, or their locality. Either sect
have so very few religious ceremonies, as to render it doubtful whether
they profess more than may serve to screen them from the imputation of
atheism; a charge which would sink them even lower in the estimation of
every inhabitant of Asia. They inter their relations in a very slovenly
manner, and may often be found lying drunk about the grave: their
marriage forms are extremely simple, the bride and bridegroom mutually
mark each other’s faces with red ochre, after which, they lock their
little fingers together, and avow their union: the ceremony is usually
concluded by a sacrifice to the muddled deity, in which all bear their
parts with great eagerness, and devotion!

It is a rule among the _nuts_ never to go to law, nor to submit their
differences to any arbitrators, except of their own profession: owing to
the extreme jealousy of the men, and the frequent excesses of both sexes
in the use of _gaunjah_, and other intoxicating draughts, such
differences are by no means rare, and contribute partly to the support
of their rulers, who receive a fourth part of whatever is earned, or
perhaps begged, borrowed, or stolen, by the several _sets_ which ramble
over the country, according to their own fancies, or as they may be

Such regular debauchery, added to the violent exercise undergone during
their early years, reduce the period of life among these people to a
very short compass. Few live beyond the age of forty, and by far the
larger portion fail of attaining their thirtieth year; the women
generally fall victims after having borne four or five children.

With respect to dancing, which is a part of the duties of a female
_nut_, much encomium cannot be justly bestowed: their style of
performance is vulgar, and they generally study that kind of lewd
display, which renders their performances too indelicate to be
described. Tumbling head-over-heels, walking upon their hands,
Catherine-wheel, &c., &c.; all come within the display afforded for a
trifling gratuity!

The traveller will sometimes be visited by sets of _nautch-girls_, who
either reside in some of the principal towns, and make a point of
offering their services towards the amusement of _gentlemen_ traversing
the country; or who are itinerants, that pick up a livelihood by
rambling about, chiefly among the villages inhabited by Mahomedans,
whose dispositions are more prompt than those of the Hindus to receive
gratification from voluptuous exhibitions. Besides, the latter are
generally more penurious, and are so rigidly tied down, both by tenet,
and by the vigilance of their neighbours, as to have but little scope
for indulgence in those sensualities, which the followers of the
Prophet, who anxiously look forward to the enjoyment of the _houris_,
are less scrupulous to conceal.

The greater part of the individuals composing the _taffah_, or set of
female dancers, are either attached by family connections, such as
marriage with the _oostauds_ and _surmaunjahs_, who are the instructors
and musicians; or they are slaves obtained by purchase during times of
scarcity: some, indeed, are kidnapped when very young, on account of
their promising features; these rarely are able to give any account of
their parentage, and do not always know the districts in which they were

Whatever may be their origin, or their connection, the dancers, who are
likewise vocal performers, are entirely subservient to some person,
whether male or female, who is considered the proprietor of the _set_,
and on whose application to any court of law, or to any _soubah_, or
person in power, any run-away is immediately pursued, and restored to
the _taffah_; whether the obligation be peremptory, such as in the case
of a _baundy_, or actual slave; or merely implied, as in the case of a
_paulah_, or person preserved from famine, &c., and reared in the
capacity of a menial.

The Mahomedan law barely recognizes actual slavery, but makes a great
distinction in favor of those who purchase, or thus adopt, children that
would otherwise, in all probability, perish from want. The latter are
considered to be the property of the patron, until arrived at their full
growth, which is understood to be about the age of eighteen; but this
affords easy evitation to such proprietors of _taffahs_ as feel an
interest in the detention of any particular girls under their authority.

To say the truth, very little cause of complaint seems to exist on such
occasions: the girls are usually well cloathed, and well fed; they are
rarely limitted in regard to paramours, and, on the whole, experience as
much comfort as their habits, and those envious traits ever to be seen
among persons of the same profession, admit. Where these _taffahs_ are
found in the vicinity of our camps, and stations, whether civil or
military, it is common to see the dancers attach themselves to some
particular European gentlemen, of whose friendship they make much boast:
the profits of such a speculation cannot be wholly reserved by any one
of the party; they are supposed to be surrendered, without diminution,
to the proprietor, for the general benefit of the _set_.

That full surrender is not, however, always made; on the contrary, some
contrive to redeem themselves from this species of demi-slavery, by
means of sums accumulated in the course of years, and concealed, with
extreme solicitude, from the scrutinizing eye of the proprietor. When
such a redemption takes place, it is never done overtly, but by the
pretended interference of some gentleman, or opulent native, who, either
from love, or charity, feels disposed to pay the ransom: were the
possession of the property to be acknowledged by the anxious female, it
would instantly be seized as a _droit_, and she would probably undergo
that severest of Hindostanee punishments, the loss of all her _kase_, or

It is not uncommon for persons purchasing slaves, or rearing deserted
children, to affix the badge of slavery immediately, and to cause it to
be worn by the unfortunate being, thus devoted to tyrannical authority
during life. This type of dependance consists simply of an iron ring,
similar to those on light fetters, which is worn on either of the
ankles, generally on the left: there it is rivetted in the usual manner,
with the intention of being always seen. To remove the ring, is
considered highly criminal on the part of all concerned, and should the
slave be thereby enabled to abscond, would subject the abettors to
payment of his or her value.

In every part of India the profession of a prostitute is devoid of that
stigma annexed to it in Europe: persons following it are protected by
law in certain privileges, and their persons are far from being held in
abomination, such as we should suppose must be generated towards so
impure a character among the moralists of the East. This is entirely
owing to the profession being hereditary, the same as other sects, and
not promiscuous, or arising from vicious propensities, as we see daily
the case among us.

It is true the term _kusbee_ is used as a reproach; but that seems
rather to refer to such as, like our wantons, degenerate in consequence
of their libidinous dispositions, and are not attached to the two great
divisions, the _meerasseens_, and the _puttareahs_, both of which have
claims on the bounty of princes, and to exemptions from certain taxes;
though, to make up for such indulgences, the _cutwals_, and other native
officers, under whose authority they may reside, not only demand their
attendance, whether to sing, dance, or what not, gratis, but impose upon
them heavy assessments, in proportion to their repute and prosperity.

With the view to prevent the encrease of a certain disorder, which
proceeds with rapid strides in that hot climate, it is customary to
appoint a committee every month, at each great station, for the
inspection of such dulcineas as may be resident within the bounds of the
cantonments: such as appear to be diseased, are instantly confined to a
small hospital, appropriated to their reception: a salutary measure,
which doubtless prevents much mischief, and is superior to our Lock
Institution, which only offers, but does not coerce to, a proper course
of medicine.

Such women as, being married, or living _under the protection_ of any
person, are found to indulge in variety, are designated _chinauls_, and
are held in far greater disrepute than the professed _kusbee_, or common
prostitute. As predestinarians constantly contradict, by their evasions
of danger, the main principle of their creed, so do the good folks of
Hindostan deviate widely from their system of ethics on this head; for,
although adultery, under any circumstances whatever, is held up as a
mortal sin, to be atoned for by death only; nevertheless, we find the
males of all ages particularly bent on that kind of gallantry which
comes within the letter of the law, and generally produces the contact
of two persons whose _casts_ are thereby respectively polluted. In a
former part, I explained more fully the deceptions practised by native
women retained by European gentlemen; it remains for me to add, that
such is the spirit of intrigue prevalent among the people at large, that
we may at least conclude the ladies in that quarter to keep pace with
_the most enlightened_ of our own population!

When a native, especially a Hindu, of high _cast_, suspects that his
wife is guilty of infidelity, he generally proceeds to repudiate her in
the most public manner; but it often happens that he is saved that
trouble, either by the intervention of her father, brother, &c., who,
under pretence of conducting her home, leads the offender to some lone
spot, where, with his _tulwar_, he severs her head from her body, and
deliberately leaves both to be devoured by jackals, &c. This office is
likewise occasionally performed by the husband himself; who must,
however, be careful not to betray his intention, lest a powerful dose,
mixed among his _takorry_, (vegetable _curry_,) should prevent the
completion of his design, or, possibly, cause him to fall a sacrifice to
the lover’s resentment.

A very curious instance of this occurred in 1789, wherein a sepoy, of my
own company, was principally concerned. He had long been in the good
graces of a woman who was married to a _sonaar_, (goldsmith,) then
absent in another part of the country. The lady’s father, who had no
other child, on learning the particulars of the intrigue from one of her
servants, remonstrated, but in vain. He then determined to sacrifice
her, and ordered that she should quit her own home, for the purpose of
being conducted to his house, which was in a village some miles distant.

Suspecting his intention, the adultress communicated the circumstance to
her lover, who advised her to follow her father, and promised to prevent
his doing her any injury. Accordingly, she allowed her parent to precede
her, as usual, (for no woman ever walks before a man, especially if it
be her husband, or any relative,) until they arrived at a small jungle,
when, as he was about to draw his _tulwar_ to _sauf-kur_ (literally, ‘to
make clean,’ but, in the accepted sense, to kill, or destroy,) her, the
lover darted forth, and, at one blow, took off his head.

The lady and her lover were both apprehended, and tried before the
_zemindary court_ at Benares, within whose jurisdiction the crime was
perpetrated: against the woman nothing could be urged, she was therefore
acquitted; the man was convicted, and condemned; but the woman, being
next of kin to the deceased, and having the right, according to the law,
of pardoning his murderer, instantly gave him her absolution in open
court, and, to the great surprize and mortification of the whole court,
returned homewards with her paramour, to persevere in the adulterous

It was in vain that Marquis Cornwallis, on receipt of the intelligence,
used every endeavor to obtain a revision of the proceedings: the Court
were inflexible, and the parties could not, legally, be apprehended. His
Lordship was, therefore, left without that redress he thought due to the
public, and could only cause the sepoy to be dismissed from the
Company’s service, and to be banished from the Company’s dominions.

Where the law gives so absurd a power, it might be expected that scarce
a husband would be safe; but that is not the case; for they, in general,
act very decidedly, whenever they are made acquainted with the existence
of offences against conjugal propriety. The caution used in conducting
an amour is not always very great, but there is, in fact, only one
difficulty to be overcome, viz. the obtaining admission to the interior
while the husband is absent: that being effected, detection is not very
easy, because, the immured state in which women are kept, offers the
best screen against the curiosity of prying neighbours.

What with the dark color of the mud walls, the sombre complexion of the
people themselves, and the shade commonly cast by heavy foliages,
standing in the vicinity of villages in general, as well as by the
over-hanging thatches, &c., it is not very easy, even for a neighbour,
to ascertain, after night-fall, whether a person, having a cloth on the
head, entering the sacred enclosure, be male or female.

About the year 1786, a laughable story was current, regarding a young
officer who had a very pretty Hindoo girl in keeping, but who, being of
a very salacious disposition, always endeavored to prevail with such
young women as came to vend fruits, or to sell _choories_, &c., to be
his inmate. One of these daily visitors held out against every
temptation, which so roused the youth’s passions, that he resolved to
obtain that by force which money could not purchase. The struggle made a
terrible discovery; the supposed damsel proving to be a young Portugueze

The ordinary mode of conveyance adopted by the generality of
_nautch-taffahs_, is the common _hackery_, called a _g’horry_, which has
two wheels, with a square body, as has been already described; in one of
these, four or five crowd together, sitting almost back to back, and
allowing their legs to hang down on every side. The generality are of
very decent behavior, but, when they get a little _majoom_ (a sweatmeat
prepared with _b’haug_) into their noddles, it is not uncommon to see
them proceed in high style, singing away in full chorus, and,
occasionally, exhibiting specimens of their profession, by attitudes
corresponding with the words of songs purely Cyprian!

The baggage, if any, is commonly carried on some hired bullock, or in a
_hackery_; some _sets_ are, however, so opulent, as to be able to keep
one or two camels, and to purchase a tolerably good Hindostanee tent,
that is, without walls, and supported by two bamboo poles, each about
eight or nine feet long.

The baggage of Europeans is, ordinarily carried on elephants, camels,
bullocks, _hackeries_, or _coolies_: of late years, a great improvement
has been made, by taking off the body of a gig, with its shafts, and
substituting a frame, made on such a plan as may serve to contain
several trunks and liquor chests below, while a cot, with all the
necessary bedding, having over them a painted canvas canopy, covers the
whole, and keeps every part compact and dry. Such a conveyance, with a
tolerably stout horse, is found to get on far more expeditiously than
any of the others.

With respect to elephants, it may be said, that they are either the
best, or the worst, carriage: in the low countries, where the soil is
often soft for the greater part of the year, the elephant is certainly a
most useful animal; his feet being broad, and his power so great as to
enable his acting with decision and energy at the moment of difficulty,
qualify him, almost exclusively, for the transportation of tents, and
heavy baggage, in such parts of the country as remain heavy or swampy
during the more settled part of the year.

Though we may suppose, that, previous to the plains of Bengal being
cultivated, they were over-ran with elephants, the same as other parts
of India, of which that animal is a native, still it should seem, that
their principal haunts must have been along that hilly wilderness in
which they are now found in a gregarious state. It is well known that
the elephant thrives best near the sea, that in its vicinity he attains
his greatest bulk, and is exempt from various diseases, especially the
opthalmia and the dropsy, both of which attack at least four in five of
such as are removed to dry soils. This circumstance, as well as the
peculiar formation and substance of the foot, appear to render the
elephant peculiarly appropriate to the use of such persons as have
occasion for carriage-cattle (_i.e._ cattle that bear burthens) in the
lower provinces.

Endued with wonderful sagacity, the elephant will only proceed on soils
which bear him up to a certain extent: so soon as he feels a peculiar
vibration, that indicates a want of firmness below, he instantly
declines further progress, and, turning round, or receding, with more
activity than his clumsy form may indicate, hastens to quit the
apprehended danger; and, without regard to things or persons, makes the
best of his way to _terra firma_.

Sometimes, however, this majestic animal gets bogged, and,
notwithstanding his immense strength, becomes completely incapable of
self-extrication. On such an occasion, nothing more is necessary than to
supply him with abundance of straw, or cut grass, tied in bundles; these
he forces down with his proboscis, till they are under his feet
respectively; and, by their accumulated resistance, afford the means of
gradually bearing up, and of raising him to the surface. His egress is
ensured by an ample stock of the same materials, together with faggots,
&c., thrown before him, in number sufficient to form a kind of path-way,
along which the elephant moves with wondrous caution: on such an
occasion, he should, like a mule on a mountain, be left to himself, as
he will manage with perfect prudence; whereas, if actuated by a
_mohout_, (or driver,) he might be again plunged into difficulty.

The stature of elephants, in general, may be rated between seven and
nine feet: the former is the standard at which they are admitted upon
the Company’s establishment, at the value of five hundred sicca rupees
each (£65). Provided the animals be stout, and competent to carry a
proper burthen, such blemishes as would depreciate them considerably
among the natives, who entertain many prejudices in this particular, are
not considered.

The principal defects, in the eye of a native merchant, are,

1. A broken tail; or a deficiency of the forked hair at its termination.
The former arises from the habit the elephants are in, of laying hold of
their opponent’s tails with their trunks, and of twisting them so, that,
occasionally, they are absolutely snapped, or, perhaps, tumefy, and, in
the end, sphacelate.

2d. An uneven number of claws to the feet: there should be five on each
fore, and four on each hind foot.

3d. Bad tusks; that is, such as are decayed, or, having been broken in
contests, cannot be rendered ornamental: an elephant born with only one
tooth, or tusk, is highly prized, as being sure to overwhelm its owner
with good fortune.

4th. Having a black, or spotted palate; either of which is supposed to
be an indication of bad health, as well as of misfortune.

5th. Bad eyes; though sometimes we see very serviceable elephants
totally deprived of sight, which travel admirably with burthens, but are
unfit for the _howdah_; these are extremely careful to put their trunks
forward as they proceed, whereby they are warned of any hollows, &c.
Blind elephants are peculiarly attentive to the words of command given
by their drivers.

6th. The want of hair on the forehead, lean jaws, small jagged ears,
narrow feet, thin legs, short bodies, and a contracted barrel, or
carcase, are all objectionable, and become serious objects of attention
in the purchase of this animal. An European, not accustomed to view
elephants critically, would conclude that little variety, in the above
respects, would be found; but there are certainly as many estimable, or
agreeable, points in a fine elephant, as in a fine horse; though we
rarely look so narrowly into the perfections of the former, on account
of being less in the habits of cherishing, or of driving, them in

According to the regulations, an elephant ought to be able to carry
twenty-five maunds, which is within a twenty-sixth part of being a ton;
but, although the several contractors stipulate, without hesitation,
that their elephants should be able to carry that weight at all times,
not one in a hundred of those in the service, or in the possession of
individuals, could bear it even for one day’s ordinary march, which
should not exceed eight _coss_, (sixteen miles,) all beyond that being
considered a forced march.

The elephant is furnished with two pads, of which the under one, called
a _guddaylah_, is commonly made of red _karwah_, stuffed to the
thickness of an inch and a half with cotton, and well quilted. The upper
pad, called a _guddy_, is made of _tawt_, which is a narrow kind of very
coarse canvas, and is stuffed very hard with straw to about the
thickness of six inches. These are put on, the one over the other, and
firmly secured to the body by means of stout ropes passing round the
whole, as well as under the tail, by way of crupper.

Such a thickness may appear too great; but it is to be considered that
an elephant ought, by the contract, to carry either four common
marquees, each weighing, when dry, 425lb., and, when wet, 597lb.; or six
private tents, each weighing, when dry, 275lb., and, when wet, 426lb.
Therefore, when I take the medium at twenty-five maunds, it is but
striking a fair balance.

An ordinary elephant requires two servants; namely, a _mohout_, or
driver, who sits upon his back, and guides, by means of a crooked
instrument of iron, called a _haunkus_, aided by words of command, and
the application of his toes behind the animal’s ears. The other servant,
called a _cooly_, or grass-cutter, performs all the more menial offices,
such as taking the elephant out for _charrah_, _i.e._ fodder, of which
it can carry as much as will suffice for two, or, if well laden, for
three days.

The feet of an elephant require considerable care; they being extremely
apt to chafe, and wear away, at the soles, so as to render him
completely unserviceable for a time. This generally happens where the
soil is dry and harsh, as throughout the upper country, but may be, in a
great measure, prevented by _paying_ them with astringent applications,
so that the skin may be rendered harder, and the foot, in general,
somewhat callous.

When an elephant is chafed on the back, the part is usually rubbed with
_ghee_ and turmeric, and the pad cushioned so as to raise the spot under
which the excoriation may be: if suffered to continue in a state of
irritation, the smallest sore will speedily assume a most formidable
appearance, owing to the peculiarly cellular formation of an elephant’s

The mode of catching elephants for the public service is very simple,
requiring more perseverance than skill, yet attended with a heavy
expence. In those wildernesses near Chittagong, Tipperah, &c., along the
eastern boundary, some hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of villagers are
assembled, who form a circle around those herds they may find, and
gradually frighten them into a kind of trap, called a _keddah_, of which
the entrance is of a crescent form, leading to a large area, properly
enclosed by an immense trench, and by large piles well bound together.
After a while, the animals are driven, or induced, into a smaller area,
from which they are taken into a narrow passage, for the purpose of
being secured, and led away to the stands, at which they remain until
completely tamed.

It was formerly the practice to break their spirit by privations and
severity; but, of late years, it has been found preferable to sooth as
much as possible; a change which has been attended with the most happy
results. So far has this plan succeeded, that many elephants are now
better reconciled in one month than they formerly were in four or five;
while, at the same time, many inconveniences, especially those severe
ligatures, which invariably made desperate sores about the ankles, &c.,
are almost wholly avoided.

The practice of decoying the large single males, which separate from the
herds, and are called _sauns_, or _goondahs_, is extremely curious: two
or three females are generally sent out for the purpose of inveigling
the ferocious males thus ranging about. Such female elephants, which are
called _k’hoomkies_, are highly valuable, especially if they be large,
and attached to their _mohouts_, whom they will protect to the last
moment, if accidentally discovered by their intended prize while passing
the ropes around his legs. For a particular account of this, which can
scarcely be rendered distinct but by the aid of plates, I refer my
readers to ‘THE WILD SPORTS OF THE EAST,’ published from my designs and
memoirs by Mr. Edward Orme, of Bond Street, and Messrs. Black, Parry,
and Kingsbury, of Leadenhall Street.

Contrary to the opinion formerly current, it has been ascertained that
elephants copulate in the same manner as other quadrupeds. This has been
certified by Mr. John Corse, the resident Surgeon at Tipperah, who
established a breed of elephants at that place; whereby much insight has
been obtained regarding the natural history of this noble animal. When
Mr. Corse transmitted that account which may be seen in the third volume
of the Asiatic Researches, he had not the opportunity of ascertaining
the period of gestation, which has since been found to give an average
of about twenty-two months.

That less time could not be required, was evident from the incipient
portion of that gentleman’s researches; as a female elephant, taken in
January, 1788, did not produce her calf, which was thirty-five inches
high at his birth, and grew four inches in as many months, until the
16th of October, 1789.

Elephants are invariably measured at the shoulder, and not on the arch
of the back, the want of which is to be considered as indicative of age.

Elephants are to be found along the whole extent of frontier, ranging
from the Chittagong district, to the very borders of Thibet. They become
more scarce, and are, besides, less robust, and of smaller stature, in
proportion as they recede from the sea coasts. Those sent yearly, by way
of compliment, or of tribute, from the Rajah of Napaul, are by no means
to be compared with the _coomaeeahs_, and _mooknahs_ of Tipperah, and
Chittagong, whose form and bulk certainly entitle them to superior
estimation. Some of these are, occasionally, sold for immense sums to
the native princes in the upper parts of Hindostan. Two thousand rupees
are held to be but a low price for a male of nine feet in height,
provided his teeth are large, even, and of regular curves: sometimes
elephants, of extraordinary bulk, and of remarkably fine points, have
reached to eight or ten thousand rupees.

The expence of keeping an elephant will vary according to the situation,
and to the general services wherein it is employed: in the Dacca
district but little expence is incurred, unless hard labour is to be
performed, there being abundance of _d’hul_, (grass,) and of foliage, of
which the animal can always obtain an ample supply gratis. There, a
_mohout_ rarely receives more than three rupees monthly, and a
grass-cutter more than two. I have shewn, in describing the servants
necessary to be retained in a gentleman’s suite, that the wages of these
menials are generally much higher; which, when added to the average
charges for food, chiefly _badjra_, or millet stems, which must be paid
for, and rice, or barley, perhaps to the extent of 30lb. daily, will
cause the expence of maintaining an elephant in the upper provinces, to
amount to full thirty, or thirty-five, rupees per mensem; and that, too,
exclusive of the wear and tear of gear of all kinds. On the whole, we
may compute that an elephant, well kept, will cost full forty rupees
(£5.) monthly. When we consider that, in England, few gentlemen keep
their horses for much less, and that an elephant performs so much
essential drudgery, indeed, equal to a team of three stout cart horses,
also that the value of money in India is not half so great as with us,
we may deem the above aggregate to be very moderate: the misfortune is,
that an elephant is not, like a horse, promptly or generally useful; and
that, owing to the nature of the climate, as well as of the soil, months
often elapse before the proprietor of the former may be able to avail
himself of the valuable powers of his sable property.

Camels are very generally kept by the officers of the army throughout
the upper provinces, that is to say, above the Delta of the Ganges,
where the soil is more appropriate to their form, than those muddy,
slippery, tracts, in which these animals are extremely subject to fall.
When such an accident happens, it is a great chance but the animal is
rendered useless; as, owing to the great length of the hind legs, and to
the want of any membranes, or muscles, calculated to prevent their easy
divergence in diametrically opposite directions, the pelvis is extremely
apt to split, and the power of extrication, or even of support itself,
is entirely lost to this very valuable quadruped.

Though we generally attach the term ‘_camel_’ to that species of the
_camelus_ found in India, where great numbers are bred by persons who
make a very large profit from their labors, the animal under
consideration, having but one hump, or bunch, on its back, should,
properly, be called a ‘_dromedary_.’ Whatever may be the true
designation, the utility of the animal in a climate, and on a soil, to
which it is so admirably suited by nature, is indisputable; but, with
regard to its powers, as described by naturalists, or by travellers, I
must beg leave to enter a partial dissent.

I have now before me a very respectable publication, wherein it is said,
that ‘a camel will carry a weight of 1,200lb., and will perform a
journey of three hundred leagues in eight days.’ Now, my own experience
convinces me very fully that few camels will carry more than eight
maunds, when making, on an average, stages of from fourteen, to sixteen,
or, at the very utmost, twenty miles within the day, for two months;
allowing a weekly halt.

So sensible are the Government of India of the inability of a camel to
perform any thing like the service above described, that, in all their
contracts, in which it must have been seen they take care so to
proportion the burthens, that none but the choicest of cattle could move
under them, it is especially detailed that such camels as may be
admitted upon the Company’s establishment of carriage-cattle, should be
rated in the proportion of three camels to one elephant; which, in other
words, assigns to each a burthen composed of two private tents, the
weight of each, when dry, being 275lb., and, when wet, 426lb.; including
poles, pins, mallets, bags, &c.

Taking the medium as a standard, _i.e._ one wet, and one dry tent, the
average burthen would be only 701lb., which will be found a greater load
than any camels, setting apart perhaps one or two of extraordinary
powers, which have come within my observation, could carry in a proper
manner, so as to answer general purposes, when marching with a regiment.

The value of a camel varies according to size, form, age, condition, and
disposition: supposing all those points to be mediocrity, from eighty,
to a hundred and twenty, rupees may be taken as a standard; observing,
that, where no military movement is in question, the prices are often
lower, and that, in cases of emergency, they have been known to rise
even so high as to four, five, and six, hundred rupees: but such,
fortunately, is very rarely the case.

Most gentlemen keep two or three camels, for the purpose of carrying
their tent, liquors, and cot. If on a moderate scale, two will generally
prove competent to the work, but if the tent be large, the liquors and
linen abundant, and the cot extensive, or on a heavy construction, a
third camel will be necessary. In fact, I know not of worse policy, than
that we too often see adopted, of burthening an animal with as much as
it can stand under. When the moment of difficulty comes, as it rarely
fails to do, infinite vexation, and an enormous encrease of expence,
invariably follow. Hence, it will be found advisable, though the primary
expence may be encreased, and the subsequent monthly charges be a trifle
greater, always to retain three, in preference to two camels; unless the
intended burthens be very compact, and not subject to accumulate a great
addition of weight in wet weather.

The difference shewn to exist between tents, when wet, and when dry,
according to the Company’s standard, ascertained by actual experiments,
should prove a guide to all persons about to proceed on a march, so to
proportion the loads imposed on their cattle as not to endanger their
total failure. It should never be forgotten, that excoriations, however
trivial in the first instance, speedily rankle into wounds, not simply
painful, but generally trenching deeply on the immediate powers, as well
as on the condition, of those useful dumb animals, which submit to the
last moment to the will of their heedless employers.

Camels, as well as elephants, lie down, so as to bring their stomachs to
the ground, while receiving or discharging their burthens. At such
moments, the former are extremely irritable; snarling, and watching the
opportunity for biting. To say the best of these animals, they are never
to be trusted, their dispositions being, for the most part, sanguinary
and treacherous, although they are not carnivorous, being fed chiefly on
_gram_, and chaff of various kinds: a camel, like the bull-dog, rarely
lets go his hold.

The expence of maintaining a camel may be averaged at about four or five
rupees monthly, exclusive of its portion of the _surwan’s_ (_i.e._ the
driver’s) wages: the large crook saddle, with its _jolah_, or canvas
trappings, and its _saleetah_, or canvas sheet made of _tawt_, for the
purpose of lading tents, and especially for bringing in chaff, may be
averaged, for wear and tear, at about a rupee monthly. From this it will
be seen, that if a _surwan_, attending three camels, should receive six
rupees for pay, and that each of the camels should cost six more, the
whole expence, amounting to twenty-four rupees per mensem, would fall
far short of that incurred by one elephant.

The advantages attendant upon an elephant, are, that the load is all
carried compact and entire; that he can travel in swampy districts,
where no other animal could proceed at all; and that he is serviceable
to ride upon, and to join in the line to beat hogs, and other game, out
of heavy covers. On the other hand, a camel will travel on those dry
soils which destroy an elephant’s feet, without sustaining the smallest
injury; he is more patient under heat, and the absence both of fodder
and of water; his prime cost is considerably less; his maintenance
cheaper; and, where a division of carriage becomes necessary, one camel
may be sent off, while the others are retained. But camels rarely thrive
if exposed during the rains; hence, it is customary to build sheds for
their reception during that season: this, however, is done at a very
trifling expence, and might, doubtless, be dispensed with altogether, at
least in the upper provinces, if young animals were to be purchased that
had never been so domesticated. Few gentlemen retain their camels while
serving near the Presidency, where fodder is at a most enormous price,
and where the mange commonly attacks within a few weeks after arrival.

The heavy, awkward, and apparently slow, gait of the camel, generally
induces to a belief that its rate of travelling is disadvantageous,
inasmuch as it may denote inability to keeping up with the generality of
elephants. This, however, is a great mistake, for it is very common to
see the latter, when in the least over-burthened, or when the weather is
hot, or the road sandy, very late in arriving at their destination;
whereas, the camel, under an appropriate load, will move on at a regular
pace, generally making a distance of seven feet, as I have repeatedly
ascertained, from the centre of that spot whence it lifts a foot, to
where it again sets it down: few elephants do so much; they walk
quicker, but their strides are rarely so extensive.

The propensity of a camel to stale, so soon as eased of his burthen,
renders it indispensably necessary to drive him to a distance so soon as
the tent is off his back; otherwise, the urinous stench attached to the
spot would render it very unpleasant, or, rather, insupportable. The
native chemists extract large quantities of ammonia from those stands
where camels have been kept for many weeks.

The greatest inconvenience attached to a camel is his utter inability to
swim across a river, such as any other animal would consider no
impediment. It is true, that, occasionally, camels may have been seen to
swim for a few yards, but, in general, they turn upon the side, and,
unless instantly rescued, would infallibly be drowned. Perhaps this
arises from the general roundness of their bodies, which are very easily
acted upon by the super-incumbent weight of the neck and head, that
become levers, not sufficiently opposed by their almost fleshless limbs.
Some camels enter with readiness into ferry-boats, even of the rudest
construction, while others require to be urged by the display of fire in
their rear, or even by the actual cautery! When once on board, they are
generally quiet, but do not seem to entertain such a dread of their
insulated situation as horses do.

In this particular, the elephant has a most decided superiority: he
enters the water with alacrity, and, guided by the _mohout_, who
preserves his seat on the animal’s neck, until the latter may, by way of
frolic, descend to walk on the bottom, keeping, at the same time, the
end of his proboscis above water, makes his way to the opposite bank,
though perhaps a mile distant. If there be occasional shallows, whereon
he can refresh himself, two or three miles are passed with equal

In their wild state, elephants cross very large rivers in herds; the
young ones swimming by the sides of their mothers, which, occasionally,
support their gigantic calves by means of their trunks, either passed
under the body, or slightly hooked in with the young one’s proboscis.
When domesticated, elephants lose much of their natural energy in every
instance; and, in lieu of viewing a tiger without fear, gradually become
so timid, as to be dreadfully agitated at the sight, or smell, even of a
dead one: hence, in tiger-hunting, those elephants which are more
recently taken from the _keddahs_, provided they be sufficiently trained
to be safe in other respects, are usually best suited to the sport, and
afford their riders a better chance of success.

Those who cannot afford, or who consider it unnecessary, to retain
either an elephant, or camels, usually purchase, or hire, bullocks, when
about to march to any station not very remote. Some, indeed, prefer them
altogether; but, after having given them more than one trial, both from
necessity, and from the persuasions of others, my mind is made up to the
full conviction, that, although rarely costing more than sixteen or
twenty rupees each, (that is, from forty to fifty shillings,) they are
the most tardy, the most troublesome, and the most expensive, of all the
beasts of burthen in question!

Knowing, from dear-bought experience, that a bullock which can carry
five maunds is a _rara avis_ of its kind, I was much surprized to find,
in Mr. Colebrooke’s little treatise on the Husbandry of Bengal, an
assertion, that the enormous ‘load of 500lb. of cotton is generally
carried from Nagpore to Mirzapore, a distance which, by the shortest
route, exceeds four hundred miles, in journies of eight or ten miles
daily.’ That some remarkably fine cattle are bred in the Nagpore
district is well known; but I should have greatly doubted, under any
other than the highly respectable authority alluded to, whether it would
be possible to select, in all Bengal, a sufficient number of bullocks,
bred in the country, to carry on the extensive trade between Nagpore and
Mirzapore, under the circumstance of carrying 500lb. as an ordinary

I have possessed very fine bullocks, such as could not, generally, be
obtained for less than a hundred rupees the pair, and I have had
occasion to rely on their services; but found, that, whenever they were
laden beyond four maunds, (320lb.,) they became restive, and required
many extra hours to perform a march of twelve or fourteen miles, even on
excellent roads, and when in far better plight than _mahajuny_ (trading)
bullocks are commonly seen.

But let us refer to the regulations of the Company respecting cattle to
be admitted upon their establishment; we shall there find, that one
Mirzapore bullock nearly equals three of them. ‘The standard of cattle
to be retained for, or received into, the service, is not to be less
than fifty inches for the draft-bullocks, and forty-eight inches for the
carriage-bullocks. Each carriage-bullock shall be competent to carry a
burthen of _one hundred and eighty pounds_ weight, exclusive of his

Now, it is well known the Company employ excellent cattle, and take care
to have justice done them; as, indeed, they are fully entitled to
expect, when they allow no less than thirty sicca rupees for each
bullock purchased on their account; especially, as any distance beyond
sixteen miles, or when laden for more than nine hours within the
twenty-four, or when carrying more than 180lb., come under the
denomination of a forced march, and subject the Company to all risks.

I should rather apprehend that an error has crept into Mr. Colebrooke’s
otherwise most accurate calculations, owing to a _cutcha-maund_ of five
_paseeries_, (of 10lb. each,) being in general use in that part of the
country. Five of these maunds, of 50lb. each, make a _tungy_, which is
the common load for cattle carrying iron, and other dead weights.
Therefore, if we estimate the general burthen to be in _cutcha_ (_i.e._
small) maunds, we shall find the result to be nearer the ordinary
result, than when we take 500lb. for the amount of a load. It is a
well-known truth, that a private tent, with its poles, pins, mallets,
and bags, is an ample load for any bullock, even in its dry state, and
that, when wet, it must be a choice animal that is competent to bear it
for even a very few miles.

In some of the very stony parts, it is usual to shoe the bullocks, the
same as is practised in many parts of England; but, in general, that is
not found necessary. The saddles and pads must be properly attended to,
and the loads should be well strapped on; otherwise, owing to the
skittishness of the cattle in India, and their disposition to lie down,
very frequently, in a day’s journey, considerable injury must be
sustained, by such articles of lading as may be subject to breakage,
from such a practice.

However great a drawback such a propensity may appear, it is found, that
liquors may be safely trusted to be conveyed by bullocks; but, in order
to ensure the bottles from breaking, it is found necessary to pack every
one of them separate, wrapping round it a small loose band, of that soft
kind of hemp known by the name of _paut_, and stitching the several
rounds together in the same manner as Florence oil flasks, &c., are
enveloped by small bands of fine straw.

The _paut_, above mentioned, is grown in every part of the country, but
chiefly in Bengal, where it attains to a considerable diameter, perhaps
an inch and a half in diameter, and often grows eleven or twelve feet
high. About three years ago, I presented a specimen of _paut_ to the
Bath Society, measuring more than ten feet in length: it was the
remainder of a quantity in which I had packed some bottles when quitting
Bengal, and had never been so much as put to the hackle.

Nothing is so effectual as this material towards preserving bottles from
fracture; when properly wolded, they may either be packed in boxes, &c.,
without any addition of straw, &c., or they may be advantageously put
into strong bags of _tawt_, and thus, with seeming negligence, be
carried on either side the bullock. I have several times adopted this
mode, and found it by far the safest, as well as the least expensive,
and best suited to the animal. By it, the necessity for boxes was
obviated, and a good bullock could easily carry five dozens of wine for
any length of time, and for any number of miles, a regiment would
commonly march.

When tents are carried on oxen, it is necessary to divide the load as
equally as may be practicable; observing, that those which have to carry
the two _flies_, ought not to be encumbered with mallets, pins, &c., as
it is a great desideratum to make sure, as much as practicable, that the
flies, the pole, and a certain portion of pins, together with a mallet
or two, should arrive early; it being of less consequence if the
bullocks bearing the walls, _satrinjes_, &c., be somewhat later; since
the main part of the operation of pitching the tent, consisting of
raising the _flies_, may be performed, and shelter afforded, without the
walls, &c., being present.

Although a very large stout bullock may, here and there, be found
capable of carrying a pair of cloaths-trunks, with a small cot above
them, such must not be generally expected. The trunks will, if properly
constructed, sit close, as they do on a camel; but the cot will
assuredly swag, so as to cause great unsteadiness of gait, and subject
the animal to chafe under the pad: besides, the disposition of most
bullocks is such, as by no means to warrant the lading them with any
article subject to great injury from a fall.

I have already said the bullock is the worst kind of carriage used in
the army, but for draught it is essentially serviceable; in fact,
without this animal, I know not how the service could proceed in India.
A great deal, however, depends on breed; and no less on due feeding and
proper exercise. Only certain parts of the country, such as the Purneah
and Sircar-Sarun districts, are found to produce oxen of a standard and
frame suited to the ordnance department; in which, on the Bengal
Establishment alone, full five thousand head of cattle are employed,
exclusive of a large establishment of elephants and camels, allotted to
the conveyance of camp equipage.

The proportion of bullocks allowed for the draught of field-pieces of
various calibres, with which they are expected to keep pace with the
ordinary rate at which troops march, are as follow:—

             To a     24    Pounder          24 Bullocks.
                      18    Ditto            18 Ditto.
                      12    Ditto            12 Ditto.
                       6    Ditto             6 Ditto.
                       3    Ditto             4 Ditto.
                       8    Inch Howitzer    14 Ditto.
                        5½  Ditto            10 Ditto.
                         4⅖ Ditto             6 Ditto.
                     Artificer’s Cart        10 Ditto.
                     Tumbrel                  6 Ditto.

It may surprize those who are personally unacquainted with India, to
learn that horses are very little employed in carriages. I have already
shewn, that, with the exception of the _r’hunts_ let out for hire about
Calcutta, of which some are drawn by one, or by two _tattoos_, all the
vehicles in use among the natives, and all the laborious part of
whatever may relate to building, trade, and agriculture, are consigned
to oxen; of which the prices are, in some places, so low, that a small
pair, fit to be worked at a well in a gentleman’s garden, may usually be
had for about ten rupees (_i.e._ 25_s._); while the generality of
husbandmen rarely pay more than six rupees (15_s._) for a pair, such as
are adequate to the very insignificant tillage bestowed on the soil.

The indigenous breed of horses, if Bengal can boast of any such, is
remarkably small, hardy, and vicious: to me, however, it has ever been a
doubt, whether this breed, called _tattoos_, be not a degenerate race
from some supply obtained, at a very remote date, from Durbungah, and
the districts ranging under the northerly frontier. That breed,
generally distinguished by the appellation of _serissahs_, is again
questionable, and may, in all probability, be traced to the _tazees_,
bred in the Maharrattah country, and in every part of the _Punjab_.

Considering the great strength and perseverance of _tattoos_ in general,
it is rather surprizing that they are not put to more purposes, than
merely serving to carry a load on a march, or to convey some infirm, or
rather affluent, traveller, when moving from one part to another. As few
castrations take place among the males, and the sexes are allowed to
intermix without restraint, the species would multiply rapidly, were it
not that little care is taken of the pregnant mares, and less of the
progeny; which usually has to shift for itself, and to cut its own grass
wherever a scanty meal may be obtainable. If a selection were made of
the _tattoos_, male and female, fitted for breeding from, there might be
established a supply of cattle, far more useful to the peasant, than
those miserably defective oxen which, in spite of the professed
veneration of all Hindus towards those sacred animals, are often kept
toiling at the plough until nature interposes in behalf of the worn-out
deity, and compels the reluctant peasant to allow the hour of
dissolution to pass on in peace.

The Company, with a view to obtain a certain, regular, and efficient,
supply of horses for their cavalry regiments, have, for about seventeen
years past, maintained an establishment for breeding from select mares
in North Bahar: the liberality with which this has been supported, and
the admirable selection made of persons for the management of every
branch, should give the most favorable result; especially as the spot
chosen for its site is peculiarly eligible in point of grazing.

But it does not appear that the expected benefits have been produced. I
recollect seeing a splendid calculation, made about the year 1794, which
went so far as to demonstrate, that, by the end of the twelfth year,
full fifteen hundred horses would annually be supplied from the stud.
Seeing that an agency still exists for the purchase of cavalry horses,
and knowing that the whole strength of the light regiments of cavalry do
not exceed six thousand horses, even including the body-guard, we may
reasonably conclude, that the stud is by no means competent to furnish
one-fourth of that number within the year!

The _tattoos_ of Bengal rarely grow to the height of twelve hands; they
are slight limbed, and cat-hammed; but carry immense burthens during a
day’s march, and are no sooner turned off, having their fore-feet
tethered, than a general war seems to be proclaimed among all of the
tribe that may be within sight or hearing. Kicking, biting, and
gallantry, are the order of the day; and woe betide the incautious wight
who should, at such a time, approach within reach of their heels!

Few _tattoos_ ever have the _bursautty_; a peculiar breaking out about
the legs, (by no means resembling the grease,) to which horses, in
general, are extremely subject throughout the low countries; especially
if their standing be not remarkably dry, and exercise given in
proportion to their allowance of _gram_; which is a species of pulse,
growing on a low plant of the tare kind, and commonly sold at about a
rupee per maund.

Of this _gram_, a horse will eat from three to six seers, (of 2lb.
each,) according to his size or appetite; half in the morning, and half
at night. When high fed, and but little rode, the most valuable horses,
in particular, become victims to the _bursautty_; which, though it
disappears in the spring and summer, invariably returns, generally, too,
with encreased force, during every rainy season. As yet, no cure has
been discovered for this ruinous disease, though numbers of gentlemen,
of eminent abilities, have devoted their attention towards its
eradication: its abatement has, in some instances, been effected; but,
notwithstanding the utmost skill and perseverance, the blotches have
returned, in sufficient force to satisfy all medical men, that no
decided mode of treatment, and no general specific, has, hitherto, been

The exemption of _tattoos_, for the most part, from so formidable a
distemper, seems to indicate their peculiar fitness for the climate: it
matters not whether nature first planted them on the soil, or whether,
by long continuance, they have become habituated to it, so completely as
to defy that virulence with which the climate attacks strange animals.
Wandering among all the puddles and jungles at every season; and
subsisting on the remains of temporary verdure; ultimately, indeed,
browsing, or devouring, the withered remains of long grass; these useful
animals contract no disease, save what may be engendered by such
absolute scarcity as would go nigh to starve a donkey!

The next breed of horses, in point of strength and hardiness, is the
_tanian_, a small kind, obviously distinct from all the other breeds of
India, and peculiar to the Thibet and Bootan countries, that lie at the
back of our eastern and northern frontier, all the way from Assam to
Sirinagur: allowing for the intervention of the Nepaul Rajah’s
dominions. These horses are, with few exceptions, piebald; though a few
are seen entirely of one color. The breed may be characterized in a few
words, viz. that they are remarkably stout, hog-maned, have short bushy
tails, very short necks, and large heads.

The Bootan merchants, who come down yearly with various articles of
manufacture, such as mats, cloths, &c., of a very peculiar kind, by no
means displeasing in their patterns, commonly lade their goods upon
_tanians_, which they dispose of ultimately for a small sum, perhaps
from twenty-five to sixty rupees each; reserving, however, a few,
whereon to transport the British woollens, and other articles they
obtain from the produce of their sales.

Great numbers of the natives of Bengal, who are in good circumstances,
or are obliged to attend daily at particular offices, &c., ride on
_tanians_; which, though not to be termed quiet, are far more so than
_tattoos_ in general. These good folks abominate a _trot_, as being
uneasy and heating; and not one of them would so far demean himself as
to be seen gallopping! This has given rise to the general adoption of
that unnatural, but very easy, pace called the ‘amble,’ in which a horse
moves the fore and hinder feet of the same side at one time. It is
singular, that this mode of going should be so pleasant in a horse,
when, in the elephant, whose natural mode of gait it is, there should
result from it the only inconvenience with which the motion of that
animal is attended.

_Tanians_ rarely exceed thirteen hands in height, but their powers are
wonderfully great; they are capable of enduring great fatigue, and,
though by no means sightly in a chariot, will perform journies equal to
what might be expected from larger animals. In general, they are rather
fiery, but, by gentle usage, shew sufficient coolness and temper for
most purposes. Like most mountain-bred horses, they are sure-footed,
and, when left to themselves, pick the best road with great
circumspection; proceeding at an easy pace, which they will keep up for
many hours. I know not of any breed better qualified for drawing a light
small chaise, where great speed is not wanted; but figure must be out of
the question.

The _Serissah_, or _Durbungah-tazee_, derives its name from the places
where great numbers are bred. These horses are generally of a light
make, and, when young, promise to turn out well; but, as they approach
their full standard, lose many good points, and, for the most part,
become rather vicious. They are, however, extremely serviceable as
hacks, and generally make good hog-hunters: occasionally, valuable
horses are found among them; and it is to be hoped, that, as the
Company’s stalions are let out at low rates, to cover such good mares as
may be tendered at their stud, there will soon be effected an immense
improvement in the general stock of North Bahar.

This, in fact, seems to be one of the prominent features in the
establishment of the stud, and promises to become very conspicuously
successful; though it is to be lamented, that the native breeders, owing
to a want of liberal ideas, and of expanded views, are too apt to adopt
that narrow policy, which prompts to the doing that badly for sixpence,
which may be well done for a penny more! Time will probably overcome
such an absurd system, and convince them that the payment of a few
rupees, or the subscribing to certain regulations, adopted for the
general improvement of property, so far from being detrimental, are the
surest means of obtaining a substantial profit, in the most speedy

There are annual fairs, called _maylahs_, in various parts of the
country, where the horses of this breed (_i.e._ _serissahs_,) are
exhibited in immense numbers. The greater part of them are exposed
annually at Buxar, and are purchased by the natives, either for their
own use, or for re-sale in various parts. It is curious, but true, that,
some years ago, a great number of horses that had been taken from
Durbungah into the Maharrattah country, were purchased there for the
supply of the Company’s regiments. Formerly, the immense body of cavalry
paid by the Nabob Vizier of Oude, used to be mounted by horses from
North Bahar, but, since that worthless gang have been sent ‘to the right
about,’ the demand created by that establishment has been almost wholly
done away. Still, however, the prices have not, so far as I can learn,
fallen: they probably are upheld by our encreased strength of cavalry

The price of a _serissah_ is not to be easily defined; a very large
portion of them sell for less than one hundred, while some reach as high
as six hundred, rupees: at a medium, we may affix a hundred and fifty
rupees at a fair standard, if the purchase be made at a fair, but, if
second-hand, from a horse-dealer, from fifty to a hundred per cent, may
be added. I have known very handsome sets, of four and six, purchased at
Buxar, averaging fifteen hands and a half, that were purchased for about
two hundred rupees each, and re-sold, _to friends_, for five and six
hundred, a few weeks after!

The horses in highest estimation are chiefly imported from the Punjab,
and from Persia, by regular dealers, who come down to our north-west
frontier annually, after the rains, accompanied by many camels,
generally of an excellent breed, which, besides conveying the tents,
&c., of the party, bear heavy burthens of shawls, dried fruits, and,
occasionally, cats of the most beautiful description. Such gentlemen as
wish for horses of great strength, ordinarily purchase _toorkies_;
which, being extremely stout, and phlegmatic, answer well for persons of
great weight, and of timid disposition.

The Persian horses have generally a finer shoulder, and attain a better
standard, than the _toorky_, which rarely measures fifteen hands, and,
in general, may be about fourteen: both kinds are remarkable for heavy,
lob-ears, and are always well advanced in years before they are brought
for sale. Even under that great drawback, they commonly sell for eight
hundred, or a thousand, rupees, and, when of a handsome color, well
formed, and of a good size, will produce from fifteen hundred, to three
thousand, rupees.

The _jungle-tazee_, which is bred in the Punjab, or Seik country, is, in
general, handsome, and spirited. These come at an earlier age, as does
the _majennis_, which is bred in the same quarter, and is usually the
offspring of a _jungle-tazee_ horse, with a Persian or _toorky_ mare; or
_vice versâ_. Both these kinds may be rated as rising to full fifteen
hands; and their prices are usually on a par with the _toorky_.

It is highly necessary, when purchasing of a native dealer, to look very
accurately into every matter relating to soundness, and quietness. Those
gentry are admirable jockies, and commonly administer such doses of
opium to their vicious cattle, as cause them for a while to appear
pre-eminently passive; a circumstance easily detected, by insisting on
the animal being left under charge of the purchaser’s own _syce_,
(_i.e._ groom,) for a day or two, before the money is paid.

When making bargains with European gentlemen, the whole of the
transactions are generally overt, and free from disguise, but, when
native is opposed to native, the affair is conducted with much assumed
mystery. A cloth is laid over the knees of the seller and purchaser, as
they squat _vis a vis_ on the ground close together; the _hookah_ is
introduced, and resorted to, whenever any little difference takes place:
at other times, the parties have each one hand, generally the right,
under the cloth, when, by means of pressures on the palms, which denote
hundreds, and of the fingers, which denote, in their due order, 20, 40,
60, and 80, speedily understand each other very fully. This affectation
is carried to such an extent, that I have seen nearly a whole day passed
in keeping up the farce, though afterwards it was divulged to me, as a
great secret, that the bargain had been made during the first five
minutes; but the seller was desirous to uphold a character for being
very tenacious of the sum originally demanded!

Almost every light-colored horse, such as a grey, or a dun, has its tail
stained for many inches near the tip with _mindy_, (_i.e._ _hinna_,) as
used by the ladies of Hindostan: generally, a ring of the same is added
about two inches above, and of about two inches in depth. On account of
the inconvenience and heat attendant upon the retention of full manes,
which are considered indispensable towards the beauty of a horse, it is
usual to braid them with silk, or thread ties, of various colors,
chiefly red, or yellow: the practice certainly has the intended effect,
but causes a large portion of the mane to fall off. The hair of the tail
is never cut by a native, and but rarely by an European; on account of
the millions of gad-flies, which, but for such a defence, would irritate
the animal greatly, and occasion him to fall off, both from his
condition, and his food.

The stables for horses should be amply spacious, and covered with
thatch, in preference to tiles, which throw too great heat into the
interior. The head-ropes, which commonly branch out from the head-stall
in different directions angularly forward, ought to be substantial, and
rather long than limitted. The heel-ropes ought to be full twenty feet
in length, and kept a little off the ground, by a small bar, or prop, to
prevent their being rotted by the wet. One end of each heel-rope is
furnished with a loop of rather thinner and softer rope, plaited flat,
so as not to injure the pastern, round which it loops on. But for such
preventives, the _syces_ dare not rub down their cattle; which would,
besides, fight desperately, unless thus restrained.

Stalls of plank are by no means suited to the climate, nor would they
offer any defence against the horses of India, very few of which are
castrated. The best, but, at the same time, very insufficient, device,
is the placing of swinging bars between the horses severally; even these
are no restraint, further than limitting a horse in case he should get
loose; a circumstance instantly announced by the tremendous uproar
occasioned by such an accident, which but rarely occurs.

On account of the extreme danger to which horses are subjected by the
frequency of fires, it is advisable that every stable, especially if
thatched, should have a range of water-pots placed along the ridge.
These should always be kept full of water, to be at the disposal of men
sent up to sprinkle the thatch, and to extinguish whatever flakes may
fall upon it; but, in case the thatch itself should accidentally take
fire, before any person can mount to distribute the water, then the pots
should be broken, by means of clods, poles, or whatever means may offer
under such emergency.

The horse-dealers from the Punjab, and from Persia, may be said to lay
the Company’s provinces under annual contribution; since it is
ascertained, that, one year with another, they take back bills, cash, or
goods, (generally the former,) to the full amount of four lacs of rupees
(£50,000). For this they deliver from five to six hundred horses, of
which nine in ten are aged, some dried fruits, Persian cats, and shawls,
the whole intrinsic value of which, or at least the prime cost and
duties payable on the way, cannot exceed one-fourth of that sum. In
truth, the duties, which are rigorously exacted by various petty
princes, &c., through whose territories they must pass, form the greater
portion even of that share of the booty. Yet do the venerable dealers in
horse-flesh always plead poverty, and that they have made so very bad a
trip, that, on their return home, their affairs must go to ruin:
however, they make a shift to come down, year after year, though buying
and selling to so much loss!

In selling horses, it is customary to describe their several _casts_,
the same as those of the people of India; thus, an auctioneer advertises
a _toorky_, or a _majennis_ ‘of high _cast_,’ to be sold on such a day.
The term may, however, be considered as rather technical, and at least
as arbitrary in its meaning, as when our British knights of the hammer
puff off some hovel, crammed into a corner, where no one would have
dreamt of seeing an edifice, as ‘a capital mansion, undeniably
situated!’ It must, at the same time, be acknowledged, that Asiatic
advertisements do not require to be so cautiously accepted, _cum grano
salis_, as those catch-penny notices, which not only attract the eye
directly, but are literally supported by insidious puffs interspersed
among the news of the day.

The extravagant price to which all articles of horse furniture have at
times risen in India, operated as a considerable injury to the European
manufacturer, who rarely makes much profit on goods intended for
exportation. Within the last thirty years, numbers of persons, both
European and native, have established themselves as saddlers and
harness-makers. At first they were not much encouraged, owing to a
belief very generally prevalent, that leather tanned in India was
inferior to that exported from this country.

That objection did not stand its ground; for it was soon ascertained
that the bark of the _baubool_ (_mimoza_) was at least equal to that of
the oak; and that the leather prepared therewith by several Europeans,
who had constructed tan-pits, on a large scale, was both equal to, and
full fifty per cent. cheaper than, what the ships conveyed to India.
Thenceforward, all the leather-work of the carriages built in India,
some of which might vie with any to be seen in Europe, was done with
country hides. Shoe-makers, both European and native, resorted to the
same means of supply, and offered both boots and shoes of the best
prepared leather, the want of which had, for a long time, caused the
very neat shoes made for about a shilling the pair, by the latter class,
to be held in little estimation.

Saddlers and harness-makers have appeared, whose labors have proved
eminently valuable; their materials, and their work, being alike
excellent. I must here be understood to confine my approbation to the
articles manufactured from leather tanned in a regular manner, and not
that paltry brown-paper-like rubbish manufactured in pots and pans by
indigent natives, who often work up a skin within the third or fourth
day after its being stripped from some starved sheep, or goat; but which
leather may always be distinguished by a narrow streak of white, that
is, of raw hide, remaining in the middle of its thickness.

Saddles made of such crude materials, but in every other respect by no
means to be condemned, may be had at Monghyr, where also bits and
bridles are made with singular neatness, for about ten rupees (25
shillings); but those of superior materials, and made under the
inspection of an European, will cost full as much, or perhaps more, then
the sums ordinarily paid in London for saddles, &c., of prime quality,
and high finish.

The climate is extremely adverse to the tanner, inasmuch as there is
great difficulty in obtaining an ample stock of raw hides; owing to the
consumption of beef and mutton being confined to the European, and to
the Mahomedan parts of the population; and to the great difficulty of
conveying the skins to the pits before incipient fermentation may become
obvious, and disqualify them for the purpose.

That leather might, with great advantage to both countries, be sent from
India to Europe, cannot be doubted: the great difficulty would be to
furnish such a quantity as might render the trade an object. According
to the present high prices, it would almost be worth while to buy cattle
in India, for the purpose of sending their hides and tallow to market in
England. As to the benefits to arise to the state, they are too obvious
to require pointing out.

A person who might have quitted India about thirty years ago, when the
generality of articles of almost every description in use among
Europeans, were sent from England; and when only one or two European
tailors were to be seen in all Bengal; when, also, a news-paper was
scarcely in existence, would now, on landing in that country, be
astonished at the improvements made in various branches of manufacture:
he would contemplate the advance made in the mechanical arts as the
certain fore-runner of independence; and he would view the columns of
the several news-papers published at Calcutta, in all fourteen, (besides
magazines, &c.,) whose columns teem with advertisements on a large
scale: these he would view as the paramount results of great enterprize,
founded upon extensive capitals, and backed by an almost unlimitted

The news-papers are generally published once or twice weekly, at about a
rupee each; most days of the week bring forth two papers, in which the
price of advertising is generally eight annas, (_i.e._ half a rupee, or
15_d._,) for each line: as the type is rather large, the expence of
advertisements must, in some great houses, prove a conspicuous item
among the disbursements.

In this particular, the Hindostanee, or rather the Persian, news-papers
are miserably deficient; as, indeed, they are in whatever should be the
contents of a publication devoted to the important purposes of
mercantile, or of political, intelligence. Far from containing a single
advertisement, or from communicating any matter relative to the arts,
these bulletins, for I can call them nothing better, are penned by
persons about the several native courts, according to the whim of a
sycophant, or to the mere tattle in the suburbs of a city; nay, they are
often manufactured hundreds of miles from the places whence they are
supposed to emanate, and contain accounts of battles and sieges,
capitulations and defeats, halts and marches, known to the fabricators
only; who, in whatever relates to invention, contradiction, and
re-contradiction, absolutely surpass those industrious wights that
supply our British news-mongers with paragraphs of the highest
importance, accidents, murders, &c., &c., at the cheap rate of ten
shillings per dozen!

There being no presses in use among the natives, every communication,
whether private or public, must be manuscript; hence, the profession of
scribe is, in some places, no bad livelihood; especially at Delhi,
which, being the ancient seat of government, and the immediate residence
of a nominal king, commonly called ‘The Great Mogul,’ supplies every
quarter of India with _Akbars_, (_i.e._ news-papers,) written in the
Persian language and character, on long narrow slips of a paper
manufactured in India, either from bamboos, reeds, or cotton-wool. These
slips are rolled up to about an inch in width, and, being enclosed in a
small cover pasted together, are despatched, with the shew of great
importance, to the several quarters of Hindostan, under the pompous idea
of their being every where in high estimation.

The only paper published by authority in Bengal, is the Calcutta
Gazette, which is usually replete with advertisements for the sale of
lands, printed in English, Persian, and Bengalese: as to news, or useful
essays, &c., it is uncommonly sterile. Private advertisements in this
paper are extravagantly dear, in consequence of the obligation imposed
on all collectors, &c., to take it in; whereby one copy at least is
received at every civil station, however small.

The advertisements for the sale of lands, above alluded to, have sprung
from the adoption of what is called the _Mocurrery_ system, which
originated with Mr. Thomas Law, formerly collector of Bahar, and now
settled in America. That plan certainly wore a very specious appearance;
because it purported to be a perpetual adjustment of the rents, which
were before subject to augmentation, and held out to the land-holders
the comforting assurance of being considered on a footing with
proprietors in fee-simple, so long as they should pay the rents as
settled by the _Mocurrery_ agreement.

While the plan was in agitation, and under the consideration of Marquis
Cornwallis, by whom it was adopted, the Board of Revenue, to which it
was, _pro forma_, submitted, made several very sensible and cogent
remarks, which, however, had not the effect of causing it to be
abandoned. Time has fully justified the objections stated by that Board,
at which the present Lord Teignmouth, then Mr. Shore, presided; and we
find, after many years of experiment, that, without reaping the smallest
advantage themselves, the Company appear bound to perpetuate a
resignation of their rights as proprietors of the soil, and of their
interests as a body rationally entitled to derive an augmentation of
rent, in proportion as the produce of the soil may become more valuable,
and more abundant.

This discussion has led me to the consideration of a most important
topic; viz. the _Revenue of Bengal_, of which, and its manner of
collection, I shall endeavor to give a summary; first presenting my
readers with a copy of the _Mocurrery_, or permanent system.

                        BY THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL.



_To the_ Zemindars, Independent Talookdars, _and other_ actual
    Proprietors of Land, _paying Revenue to Government, in the Provinces
    of_ Bengal, Bahar, _and_ Orissa.

                               ARTICLE I.

In the original regulations for the decennial settlement of the Public
Revenues of _Bengal_, _Bahar_, and _Orissa_, passed for these provinces
respectively, on the 18th day of September, 1789, the 25th day of
November, 1789, and the 10th day of February, 1790, it was notified to
the _proprietors of land_ with, or on behalf of, whom a settlement might
be concluded, that the jumma assessed upon their lands under those
regulations, would be continued after the expiration of the ten years,
and remain unalterable for ever, provided such continuance should meet
with the approbation of the Honorable Court of Directors for the affairs
of the East India Company, and not otherwise.

                              ARTICLE II.

The Marquis Cornwallis, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter,
Governor-General in Council, now notifies to all Zemindars, Talookdars,
and other actual proprietors of land, paying revenue to Government, in
the provinces of _Bengal_, _Bahar_, and _Orissa_, that he has been
empowered by the Honorable Court of Directors, for the affairs of the
East India Company, to declare the jumma which has been, or may be,
assessed upon their lands, under the regulations above mentioned, FIXED

                              ARTICLE III.

The Governor-General in Council accordingly declares to the Zemindars,
&c., with, or on behalf of, whom a settlement has been concluded under
the regulations above mentioned, that, at the expiration of the term of
the settlement, no alteration will be made in the assessment which they
have respectively engaged to pay; but that they, and their heirs, and
lawful successors, will be allowed to hold their estates at such an
assessment, FOR EVER.

                              ARTICLE IV.

The lands of some Zemindars, &c., having been held _k’has_,[A] or let in
farm, in consequence of their refusing to pay the assessment required of
them, under the regulations above mentioned, the Governor-General in
Council now notifies to the Zemindars, &c., whose lands are held
_k’has_, that they shall be restored to the management of their lands,
upon their agreeing to the payment of the assessment, which has been, or
may be, required of them, in conformity to the regulations above
mentioned, and that no alteration shall hereafter be made in that
assessment, but that they, and their heirs, and lawful successors, shall
be permitted to hold their respective estates at such an assessment FOR
EVER: and he declares to the Zemindars, &c., whose lands have been let
in farm, that they shall not regain possession of their lands before the
expiration of the period for which they have been farmed, (unless the
farmers shall voluntarily consent to make over to them the remaining
term of their lease, and the Governor-General in Council shall approve
of the transfer,) but, that, at the expiration of that period, upon
their agreeing to the payment of the assessment which may be required of
them, they shall be re-instated, and that no alteration shall afterwards
be made in the assessment; but that they, and their heirs, and lawful
successors, shall be allowed to hold their respective estates at such an
assessment FOR EVER.

Footnote A:

  In hand, or in trust.

                               ARTICLE V.

In the event of the proprietary right in lands that are, or may, become
the property of Government, being transferred to individuals, such
individuals, and their heirs, and lawful successors, shall be permitted
to hold the lands, at the assessment at which they maybe transferred,

                              ARTICLE VI.

It is well known to the Zemindars, &c., as well as to the inhabitants of
_Bengal_, _Bahar_, and _Orissa_, in general, that, from the earliest
times to the present period, the public assessment upon the lands has
never been fixed; but, that, according to established rule and custom,
the rulers of these provinces have, from time to time, demanded an
encrease of assessment from the proprietors of land; and, that, for the
purpose of obtaining this encrease, not only frequent investigations
have been made, to ascertain the actual produce of their estates, but
that it has been the practice to deprive them of the management of their
lands, and either to let them in farm, or to appoint officers on the
part of Government, to collect the assessments immediately from the
Ryots. The Honorable Court of Directors, considering these usages and
measures to be detrimental to the prosperity of the country, have, with
a view to promote the future ease and happiness of the people,
authorized the foregoing declaration; and the Zemindars, independent
Talookdars, and other actual proprietors of land, with, or on behalf of,
whom a settlement has been made, or may be concluded, are to consider
these orders, fixing the amount of the assessments, as IRREVOCABLE, and
not liable to alteration by any persons whom the Court of Directors may
hereafter appoint to the administration of their affairs in this

The Governor-General in Council trusts that the proprietors of lands,
sensible of the benefits conferred upon them, by the public assessments
being fixed FOR EVER, will exert themselves in the cultivation of their
lands, under the certainty that they will enjoy exclusively the fruits
of their own good management and industry, and that no demand will ever
be made upon them, their heirs, or successors, by the present, or any
future, Government, for an augmentation of the public assessment, in
consequence of the improvement of their respective estates.

To discharge the revenues at the stipulated periods, without delay or
evasion, and to conduct themselves with good faith and moderation
towards their dependant Talookdars, and Ryots, are duties at all times
indispensably required from the proprietors of land; and a strict
observance of those duties is now, more than ever, incumbent upon them,
in return for the benefits which they themselves will derive from the
orders now issued.

The Governor-General in Council therefore expects that the proprietors
of land will not only act in this manner themselves, towards their
dependant Talookdars, but also enjoin the strictest adherence to the
same principles, in the persons whom they may appoint to collect the
rents for them. He further expects they will regularly discharge the
revenue in all seasons, and he accordingly notifies to them, that, in
future, no claims, or applications, for suspensions, or remissions, on
account of drought, inundation, or other calamity of season, will be
attended to; but, that, in the event of any Zemindar, &c., with, or on
behalf of, whom a settlement has been made, or may be concluded, on his
or her heirs, or successors, failing in the punctual discharge of the
public revenue, which has been, or may be, assessed upon their lands,
under the above-mentioned regulations, a sale of the whole of the lands
of the defaulter, or such portion of them as may be sufficient to make
good the means, will positively and invariably take place.

                              ARTICLE VII.

To prevent any misconstruction of the foregoing Articles, the
Governor-General in Council thinks it necessary to make the following
declarations to the Zemindars, &c.

_First._ It being the duty of the ruling power to protect all classes of
people, and more particularly those who, from situation, are most
helpless, the Governor-General in Council will, whenever he may deem it
proper, enact such regulations as he may think necessary for the
protection and welfare of the dependant Talookdars, Ryots, and other
cultivators of the soil; and no Zemindar, &c. shall be entitled, on this
account, to make any objection to the discharge of the fixed assessment
which they have respectively agreed to pay.

_Second._ The Governor-General in Council having, on the 28th day of
July, 1790, directed the Sayer Collections to be abolished, a full
compensation was granted to the proprietors of land, for the loss of
revenue sustained by them in consequence of that abolition; and he now
declares, that, if he should hereafter think it proper to re-establish
the Sayer Collections, or any other internal duties, and to appoint
officers on the part of Government to collect them, no proprietor of
land will be admitted to any participation thereof, or be entitled to
make any claim for remissions on that account.

_Third._ The Governor-General in Council will impose such assessments as
he may deem equitable, on all lands at present alienated, and paying no
public revenue, which have been, or may be, proved to be held under
illegal, or invalid titles. The assessment so imposed will belong to
Government, and no proprietor of land will be entitled to any part of

_Fourth._ The jumma of those Zemindars, &c., which is declared
fixed, in the foregoing articles, is to be considered unconnected
with, and exclusive of, any allowances which have been made to them
in the adjustment of their jumma for keeping up tannahs, or
police-establishments, and also of the produce of any lands which
they may have been permitted to appropriate for the same purpose:
and the Governor-General in Council reserves to himself the option
of resuming the whole, or part, of such allowances, or produce of
such lands, according as he may think proper, in consequence of his
having exonerated the proprietors of land from the charge of keeping
the peace, and appointed officers, on the part of Government, to
superintend the police of the country.

The Governor-General in Council, however, declares that the allowances,
or the produce of lands, which may be so resumed, will be appropriated
to no other purpose but that of defraying the expence of the police, and
that instructions will be sent to the collectors not to add such
allowance, nor the produce of such lands, to the jumma of the
proprietors of land, but to collect the amount from them separately.

_Fifth._ Nothing contained in this Proclamation shall be construed to
render the lands of the several descriptions of disqualified
proprietors, specified in the first article of the regulations,
regarding disqualified land-holders, passed on the 15th day of July,
1791, liable to sale for any arrears which may accrue on the fixed jumma
that has been, or may be, assessed upon their lands under the above
mentioned regulations for the decennial settlement, provided that such
arrears have accrued, or may accrue, during the time that they have
been, or may be, dispossessed of the management of their lands under the
said regulations of July the 15th, 1791.

It is to be understood, however, that, whenever all, or any, of the
descriptions of disqualified land-holders specified in the first article
of the last mentioned regulations, shall be permitted to assume, or to
retain, the management of their lands, in consequence of the ground of
their disqualification no longer existing, or of the Governor-General in
Council dispensing with, altering, or abolishing, those regulations, the
lands of such proprietors will be held responsible for the payment of
the fixed jumma that has been, or may be, assessed thereon, from the
time that the management may devolve upon them, in the same manner as
the lands of all actual proprietors of land who are declared qualified
for the management of their estates; and also of all actual proprietors
who are unqualified for such management, by natural, or other,
disabilities, but do not come within the description of unqualified
land-holders specified in the first article of the regulations of July
the 15th, 1791, are, and will be, held answerable for any arrears that
are, or may become, due from them on the fixed jumma, which they, or any
persons on their behalf, have engaged, or may engage, to pay under the
above mentioned regulations, for the decennial settlement.

                             ARTICLE VIII.

That no doubt may be entertained whether proprietors of land are
entitled, under the existing regulations, to dispose of their estates,
without the previous sanction of Government, the Governor-General in
Council notifies to the Zemindars, &c., that they are privileged to
transfer to whomsoever they may think proper, by sale, gift, or
otherwise, their proprietary rights in the whole, or any portion, of
their respective estates, without applying to Government for its
sanction to the transfer; and, that all such transfers will be held
valid, provided they be conformable to the Mahomedan, or to the Hindu,
Laws, [according as the religious persuasions of the parties to each
transaction may render the validity of it determinable by the former, or
the latter, code,] and that they be not repugnant to any regulations now
in force, which may have been passed by the British administration, or
to any regulations that they may enact hereafter.[B]

Footnote B:

  Here appears a wide field for innovation!

                              ARTICLE IX.

From the limitation of the public demand upon the lands, the net income,
and, consequently, the value (independent of encrease obtainable by
improvements) of any landed property, for the assessments on which a
distinct engagement has been, or may be, entered into between Government
and the proprietor, or that may be separately assessed, although
included in one engagement with other estates belonging to the same
proprietor, and which may be offered for public or private sale entire,
will always be ascertainable by a comparison of the amount of the fixed
jumma assessed upon it, (which, agreeably to the foregoing declarations,
is to remain unalterable FOR EVER, to whomsoever the property may be
transferred,) with the whole of its produce, allowing for the charges of

But it is also essential, that a notification should be made of the
principles upon which the fixed assessment charged upon any such estate
will be apportioned on the several divisions of it, in the event of the
whole of it being transferred, by public or private sale, or otherwise,
in two or more lots, or of a portion of it being transferred, in one, or
two, or more lots, or of its being joint property, and a division of it
being made amongst the proprietors; otherwise, from the want of a
declared rule for estimating the proportion of the fixed jumma, with
which the several shares would be chargeable in such cases, the real
value of each share would be uncertain, and, consequently, the benefits
expected to result, from fixing the public assessment upon the lands,
would be but partially obtained.

The Governor-General in Council has, accordingly, prescribed the
following rules for apportioning the fixed assessment in the several
cases above mentioned; but, as Government might sustain a considerable
loss of revenue by disproportionate lots of the assessment, were the
apportioning of it, in any of the cases above specified, left to the
proprietors, he requires, that all such transfers, or divisions, as may
be made by the private act of the parties themselves, be notified to the
collector of the revenue of that zillah in which the lands may be
situated, or to such other officer as Government may, in future,
prescribe, in order that the fixed jumma assessed upon the whole estate
maybe apportioned on the several shares, in the manner hereafter
directed; and that the names of the proprietors of each share, and the
jumma charged thereon, may be entered upon the public registers; and
that separate engagements, for the payment of the jumma assessed upon
each share, may be executed by the proprietors, who will thenceforward
be considered as actual proprietors of land.

And the Governor-General in Council declares, that, if the parties to
such transfers or divisions shall omit to notify them to the collector
of the revenue of the zillah, or such other officer as may be hereafter
prescribed, for the purposes before mentioned, the whole of such estate
will be held responsible to Government for the discharge of the fixed
jumma assessed upon it, in the same manner as if no such transfer or
division had taken place.

The Governor-General in Council thinks it necessary further to notify,
in elucidation of the declarations contained in this article, (which are
conformable to the principles of the existing regulations,) that if any
Zemindar, &c., shall dispose of a portion of his, or her, lands, as a
dependent Talook, the jumma which may be stipulated to be paid by the
dependent Talook, will not be entered upon the records of Government,
nor will the transfer exempt such lands from being answerable, in common
with the remainder of the estate, for the payment of the public revenue
assessed upon the whole of it, in the event of the proprietor, or his,
or her, successors, falling in arrear from any cause whatever; nor will
it be allowed, in any case, to affect the rights, or claims, of
Government, any more than if it had never taken place.

_First._ In the event of the whole of the lands of a Zemindar, &c.,
with, or on behalf of, whom a settlement has been, or may be, concluded
under the regulations above mentioned, being exposed to public sale, by
the order of the Governor-General in Council, for the discharge of
arrears of assessment, or in consequence of the decision of a court of
justice, in two or more lots, the assessment upon each lot shall be
fixed at an amount which shall bear the same proportion to its actual
produce, as the fixed assessment upon the whole of the lands sold may
bear to their actual produce. This produce shall be ascertained in the
mode that is, or may be, prescribed by the existing regulations, or such
other regulations as the Governor-General in Council may, hereafter,
adopt; and the purchaser, or purchasers, of such lands, and his, or
their, heirs, and lawful successors, shall hold them at the jumma at
which they may be so purchased, FOR EVER.

_Second._ When a portion of the lands of a Zemindar, &c., with, or on
behalf of, whom a settlement has been, or may be, concluded under the
above regulations, shall be exposed to public sale, by order of the
Governor-General in Council, for the liquidation of arrears of
assessment, or pursuant to the decision of a court of justice, the
assessment upon such lands, if disposed of in one lot, shall be fixed at
an amount which shall bear the same proportion to their actual produce,
as the fixed assessment upon the whole of the lands of such proprietors,
including those disposed of, may bear to the whole of their actual

If the lands sold shall be disposed of in two, or more, lots, the
assessment upon each lot shall be fixed at an amount which shall bear
the same proportion to its actual produce, as the fixed assessment upon
the whole of the lands of such proprietor, including those sold, may
bear to the amount of their actual produce. The actual produce of the
whole of the lands of such proprietor, whether the portion of them which
may be sold be disposed of in one, or in two, or in more, lots, shall be
ascertained in the mode that is, or may be, prescribed by the existing
regulations, or such other regulations as the Governor-General in
Council may hereafter enact, and the purchaser, or purchasers, of such
lands, and his, or her, or their, heirs, and successors, will be allowed
to hold them at the jumma at which they may be so purchased, FOR EVER;
and the remainder of the public jumma, which will consequently be
payable by the former proprietor of the whole estate, on account of the
portion of it that may be left in his, or her, possession, will continue
unalterable FOR EVER.

_Third._ When a Zemindar, &c., with, or on behalf of, whom a settlement
has, or may be, made, shall transfer the whole of his, or her, estate,
in two, or more, distinct portions, to two, or more, persons, or a
portion thereof to one person, or to two, or more, persons in joint
property, by private sale, gift, or otherwise, the assessment upon each
distinct portion of such estate, so transferred, shall be fixed at an
amount which shall bear the same proportion to its actual produce, as
the assessment on the whole estate of the transferring proprietor, of
which the whole, or a portion, nay be so transferred, may bear to the
whole of its actual produce. This produce shall be ascertained in the
mode that is, or may be, prescribed by the existing regulations, or such
other regulations as Government may hereafter adopt; and the person, or
persons, to whom such lands may be transferred, and his, or her, or
their, heirs, and lawful successors, shall hold them at the jumma at
which they were so transferred, FOR EVER; and (where only a portion of
such estate shall be transferred) the remainder of the public jumma,
which will consequently be payable by the former proprietor of the whole
estate, on account of the lands that may remain in his, or her,
possession, shall be continued unalterable FOR EVER.

_Fourth._ Whenever a division shall be made of lands, the settlement of
which has been, or may be, concluded with, or on behalf of, the
proprietor, or proprietors, and that are, or may become, the joint
property of two, or more, persons, the assessment upon each share shall
be fixed at an amount which shall bear the same proportion to its actual
produce, as the fixed jumma, assessed upon the whole of the estate
divided, may bear to the whole of its actual produce. This produce shall
be ascertained in the mode that is, or may be, prescribed by the
existing regulations, or such other regulations as the Governor-General
in Council may hereafter adopt; and the sharers, and their heirs, and
lawful successors, shall hold their respective shares, at the jumma at
which they may be assessed, FOR EVER.

                               ARTICLE X.

The following rules are prescribed respecting the adjustment of the
assessment on the lands of Zemindars, &c., whose farms are, or may be,
held _k’has_, or let in farm, in the event of their being disposed of by
public sale, or transferred by any private act of the proprietor, or of
their being joint property, and a division of them taking place among
the proprietors.

_First._ If the whole, or a portion, of the lands of a Zemindar, &c.,
who may not have agreed to the assessment proposed to him, or her, under
the regulations above mentioned, and whose lands are, or may be, held
_k’has_, or let in farm, shall be exposed to public sale, in one, or
two, or more, lots, pursuant to the decree of a court of justice, such
lands, if _k’has_, shall be disposed of at whatever assessment the
Governor-General in Council may deem equitable, and the purchaser, or
purchasers, of such lands, and his, or her, or their, lawful successors,
or heirs, shall hold the land at the assessment at which they may be so
purchased, FOR EVER.

If the lands, at the time of their being exposed for sale, shall be held
in farm, and shall be put up in one, or two, or more, lots, they shall
be disposed of under the following conditions. The purchaser, or
purchasers, shall receive during the unexpired part of the term of the
lease of the farmer, whatever such proprietor shall have been entitled
to receive in virtue of his, or her, proprietary rights, on account of
the lands so purchased, and such purchaser, or purchasers, shall engage
to pay, at the expiration of the lease of the farmers, such assessment
on account of the lands as Government may deem equitable. The sum to be
received by the purchaser, or purchasers, during the unexpired part of
the term of the lease of the farmer, and the jumma to be paid by such
purchaser, or purchasers, after the expiration of the lease, shall be
specified at the time of sale, and such purchaser, or purchasers, and
his, or her, or their, heirs, and lawful successors, shall be allowed to
hold the lands, at the assessment at which they may be so purchased, FOR

_Second._ If a Zemindar, &c., whose lands are, or may be, held _k’has_,
or let in farm, shall transfer by private sale, gift, or otherwise, the
whole, or a portion, of his, or her, lands, in one, or two, or more,
lots, the person, or persons, to whom the lands may be so transferred,
shall be entitled to receive from Government, (if the lands are held
_k’has_,) or from the farmer, (if the lands are let in farm,) the
mali-connah to which the former proprietor was entitled, on account of
the lands so transferred. The purchaser, or purchasers, of such lands
will stand in the same predicament as the Zemindars, &c., mentioned in
the fourth article, whose lands are held _k’has_, or have been let in
farm, in consequence of their refusing to pay the assessment required of
them under the before mentioned regulations for the decennial
settlement, and the declarations contained in that article are to be
held applicable to them.

_Third._ In the event of a division being made in lands that are, or may
become, the joint property of two, or more, persons, and which are, or
may be, held _k’has_, or be let in farm, the proprietors of the several
shares will stand in the same predicament, with regard to their
respective shares, as the Zemindars, &c., specified in the fourth
article, whose lands have been let in farm, or are held _k’has_, in
consequence of their having refused to pay the assessment required of
them under the before mentioned regulations of the decennial settlement,
and the declarations contained in that article are to be considered
applicable to them.

                              ARTICLE XI.

The Governor-General in Council avails himself of this opportunity to
notify to the Zemindars, &c., as well as to all other description of
persons, that it is his intention forthwith to establish Courts of
Justice throughout the country, upon such principles as will put it out
of the power of individuals to injure each other with impunity, and
prevent the officers of Government from infringing the rights and
property of any of the inhabitants of these provinces, by ensuring a
speedy and impartial administration of justice in all cases whatever.

_Dated at Fort-William, the 22nd day of March, 1793, corresponding with
    the 12th day of Cheyte, 1199, of the Bengal Æra, and the 9th day of
    Shabaun, 1207, Higeree._

In order to comprehend the foregoing more fully, it is proper to state,
that when the _mocurrery_ (or perpetual) system of revenue was
originally proposed, the Governor-General in Council (Marquis
Cornwallis) notified, that it would be tried, in the first instance, for
ten years only; whence the term ‘_decennial settlement_.’ But, whether
from an early conviction of its excellence, or that the Marquis felt
anxious to ensure to the natives, and, as he apprehended, to the Company
also, those immense benefits attendant upon a final adjustment of so
momentous, and so extensive a concern, we see that, previous to his
return to Europe, he rendered the settlement as permanent as human
ability could effect. If report be true, the satisfaction he
experienced, on concluding the settlement, was afterwards greatly
diminished, when, on his re-appointment to India, he found that a
thousand deceptions had been practised by the natives, notwithstanding
every endeavor to frustrate such litigious or deceptive intentions; that
the Company’s finances had been fettered very imprudently by that
restriction which precluded Government from availing itself of growing
resources; and that the ‘Zemindars, independent Talookdars, and other
actual proprietors of land,’ so far from considering themselves to be
under any obligation to the Company, raised their heads with no little
insolence, and, in many instances, even complained that enough had not
been conceded to them.

The most mortifying fact was, that full one-third of the landed property
within the Company’s provinces had actually been under the hammer. This
was an evil which spoke for itself, and which no gloss, no colors, could
conceal. That, under such a government, property, to the amount of
millions upon millions, should become thus exposed to transfer, was a
reflection that could not fail to rankle in the mind of him, who had
expected to see content, prosperity, and loyalty, teeming in every
quarter! Never was the vanity of man more conspicuously displayed, or
the mortification of disappointed zeal more grievously felt.

The abrogation of that incertitude, which not only subjected the
land-holder to imposition, but the revenue to much defalcation, was
assuredly a most serious consideration; but, in adopting those measures
which might seem to have the most desirable tendency, it was necessary
to have a full idea of the views and dispositions of the persons on whom
the most essential benefits were to be conferred. A deficiency of
experience, or of insight into their true character, could alone have
led the Marquis into an error, from which the mode of extrication is, I
believe, among the most pressing desiderata of the British government.

Much pains have been taken to prove, that the _zemindars_, &c., were the
legitimate proprietors of the soil; but a very slight inspection of the
forms of ancient grants, made by the Emperors of Hindostan, must satisfy
the most scrupulous, that no person whatever occupied the soil, except
by tolerance of that power under which it was protected. Until our
acquisition of the _Dewany_, (_i.e._ of the government of the provinces
of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa,) no fixed tenure, beyond the will of the
ruling despot, was known, or even claimed; to have asserted such a
right, would have been to provoke immediate castigation, and removal
from the lands.

Even in the times of our own governors, no hesitation was made
respecting the banishment (for it virtually was one) of those who either
assumed a decided claim to the property, or who, from whatever cause,
whether rebellion, mis-management, or unwillingness to pay their rents,
fell in arrears. Such men were always displaced, and others were
appointed in their stead, as a mere matter of course. ‘_Saheb ke
koossy_,’ (its master’s pleasure,) was the patient response of the
offender; who, whatever might be his feelings, or his opinions, felt the
expediency of being perfectly passive on such an occasion.

I believe the records will prove, that Mr. Hastings, during the ten
years he was in the chair, made a very free use of this well-understood
authority; yet, so far were the natives from thinking him unjust, or
over severe, that, when the intelligence of his being acquitted by
parliament, was received in India, such was the pleasure felt by all
classes, that addresses of congratulation were poured in from every part
of the country! This was a compliment that never had been paid by the
natives to any of our governors, even when about to return to Europe; a
period, at which it might be expected some adulatory addresses might, by
great influence, be obtained: no, it was the spontaneous flow of
gratitude, pity, and admiration; such as never would have been
forth-coming, if the ejectment of a _zemindar_ from his soil had been
considered as the expulsion from an hereditary or established right,
rather than as the removal of tenants-at-will.

It certainly must appear curious, that we receive eleven-sixteenths of
the produce of the soil _from its proprietors_! Such is, indeed, the
case, taking all upon an average. The peasantry, in a number of
instances, pay more; especially where middle-men (a class of people by
no means scarce in India) are concerned. These are the same harpies all
over the world; never failing to reduce the industrious to distress, and
to seize upon the all of those most unfortunate beings, whom want of
experience, or of interest, may place at their mercy!

The old system of farming out the country to particular persons, many of
whom rented of the Company to the amount of fifty lacs, (upwards of
£600,000.,) was productive of the greatest evils with which an
industrious, but indigent, population could have to contend! Under that
mode, it was impossible for Government to make certain of its rents,
which were generally remitted in part to the great farmers, lest they
should, in bad seasons, oppress the Ryots, and drive them either to
despair, or out of the country. This was intended as an act of
generosity on the part of Government, which had not the means of
enforcing arrears, otherwise than by the sale of a farmer-general’s
property, whence but a small portion could be expected to result; but,
unhappily, no alleviation of consequence was extended to the real
agriculturist; who, being subject to a very summary process, was often
compelled to embrace ruin, rather than to suffer all the penalties
inflicted by an avaricious and obdurate creditor.

That such should have been the case under the immediate eye of
Government, may excite much surprize; but it must be considered, that,
under the farming system, the least interference would have instantly
been the signal for universal clamor, and that it would have proved
beyond the power of all the civil servants, throughout the Company’s
territories, to have even registered, much less to have heard, and
settled, all the references which would have been made.

This difficulty could not fail to be greatly augmented, by the extreme
deficiency then existing of Company’s servants in every part of India;
for, in each of the _zillahs_, or districts, only a collector, with an
assistant, perhaps, was stationed. In one instance, I recollect passing
by a civil station, when marching from one province to another, when the
resident-surgeon was under the necessity of requesting an officer of our
corps to aid him in examining the accounts of the factory, which he had
been obliged to make out; the president and his assistant being both
absent on public business. This occurrence afforded not only much
amusement, but a wide scope for observation regarding the paucity of
Europeans employed at the out-stations.

In those days, the collector had abundance of duty to perform; for he
was not simply to settle all accounts respecting the revenue, and, in
some instances, of manufactures provided for the Company’s homeward
cargoes, but the whole of the criminal, as well as of the civil, code of
justice, were under his control: whatever petty offences were committed,
or whatever disputes arose among the inhabitants, became equally his
province to enquire into. Fortunately, the _banian_, or _dewan_,
employed, used to take a very considerable portion of such toil off
master’s hands, and to prevent, by a kind of petty _adaulut_, or
tribunal, held in some corner of the office, or perhaps at his own
house, thousands of references to his principal. The chief renter of the
_zillah_ being often employed as _banian_ to the collector, it is easy
to imagine to which side justice, as it was called, used to incline.

Within the last twenty years, the number of servants employed by the
Company has been greatly augmented; not only on account of their
extension of territory, but, in consequence of the separation, very
judiciously made, of two offices, incompatible to be held by the same
individual. The collector is now, except in a very few _zillahs_ of less
note, confined to the collection of the revenues, having under him one
or more assistants, according to the extent of his district.

The whole of the judicial proceedings are under cognizance of a judge,
who, aided by his register, decides civil causes between parties
residing within his jurisdiction; while the criminal catalogue is handed
over to a court composed of natives versed in the Mahomedan and Hindu
laws, though the former are, generally, the guide. These native judges
are superintended in their proceedings by three of the Company’s
servants of long standing, having likewise under them a secretary, or

Such tribunals are established in various parts of the country,
particularly at Calcutta, Moorshadabad, Dacca, Patna, Benares, and in
the Ceded Provinces, under the designation of Provincial Courts of
Appeal and Circuit. There are, besides, judges, each having a register
and an assistant, stationed at Benares, Moorshadabad, Patna, and Dacca,
for the especial purpose of administering justice, and for the
correction of abuses within those cities respectively.

The stations of the _zillah_ courts, and of the collectors, are as

     Agra,               │Dacca,              │Nuddeah,

     Allahabad,          │Dinapore,           │Purneah,

     Ally-Ghur,          │Etayah,             │Rajeshaye,

     Backergunge,        │Furruckabad,        │Ramghur,

     Bareilly,           │Gorackpore,         │Rungpore,

     Bahar,              │Hoogly,             │Sahacunpore,

     Benares,            │Jessore,            │Sarun,

     Beerboom,           │Juanpore,           │Shahabad,

     Boglepore,          │Meerat,             │Sylhet,

     Burdwan,            │Mirzapore,          │Tipperah,

     Cawnpore,           │Momensing,          │Tirhoot,

     Chittagong,         │Moorshadabad,       │Twenty-four
                         │                    │  Pergunnahs.

     Cuttack,            │Moradabad,          │

The stations of the commercial residents, whose duty is entirely
confined to the providing of investments for the Company’s shipping,

     Bareilly,           │Goruckpore,         │Mauldah,

     Bauleah,            │Hurial,             │Midnapore,

     Commercolly,        │Hurripaul,          │Patna,

     Cossimbazar,        │Jungipore,          │Radnagore,

     Dacca,              │Keerpoy,            │Rungpore,

     Etayah,             │Luckypore and       │Santipore,
                         │  Chittagong,       │

     Golagore,           │                    │Soonamooky.

Collectors of government customs, most of whom are also collectors of
town duties, are stationed at

     Benares,            │Dacca,              │Moorshadabad,
     Calcutta,           │Furruckabad,        │  and Patna.
     Cawnpore,           │Hoogly,             │

The diplomatic residents are as follow:—at

         _Delhi._     The Court of the Emperor.

         _Hyderabad._ The Court of the Nizam.

         _Lucknow._   The Court of the Nabob Vizier of Oude.

         _Mysore._    The Court of the Rajah, (late Tippoo’s

         _Nagpore._   The Court of the Berar Maharrattahs.

         _Poonah._    The Court of the Peishwa, and with
                        Dowlut Row Scindeah, one of the Chiefs
                        of the Maharrattah League.

The difference that has been made by the conduct of the British
government, in the suppression of an immense number of farmers on the
large scale, and of middle-men that again stood between those farmers
and the peasants, has been immense. In many places, the lands are now in
the possession of an industrious population, holding them from the
renters, or, if I may use the term, from the proprietors of villages and
small _talooks_, consisting of, perhaps, three or four thousand
_bigahs_: the revenues are thus rendered far more easy of collection,
and, consequently, more certain; because it is now the interest of every
honest renter to be forth-coming with his rents at the office of the
collector, at the several periods when they should be paid.

Those periods are not equi-distant, as in England; but are generally
settled in such manner as may be convenient to the tenants, according as
their several crops may be reasonably expected to become marketable. The
division is by a certain number of annas, or sixteenths, in each rupee,
being payable at particular seasons; allowance being made for the
different species of grain, &c., cultivated. There being no harvest of
grain from the beginning of November to the beginning of March, the
collections generally fall light in the intermediate months, but, about
April and May, a large portion usually becomes payable, and again, in
Bengal, after the rice is harvested: but, on the whole, the rent may be
commonly taken at four instalments, two of which are considerable, and
two of smaller portions of the rupee.

The heavy _kists_, or collections, of Bengal, are from August to
January, in the proportion of two-thirds of the whole rent; the great
crops in that quarter being cut after the rains. The gruff _kists_,
which include the _rubbee_, or small harvest of white-corn, sugar, &c.,
come in between January and the beginning of May. The fruits, fish, &c.,
from April to July. In Bengal, the year begins in April; in Bahar, it
begins in September. All the collections are made in money. Mr. Grant,
formerly collector of Bhauglepore, has published a small tract on the
subject of the revenues, which I strongly recommend to my readers: the
work is, I believe, rarely to be obtained; therefore, a new edition
seems to be loudly demanded.

It is to be feared, that, however beneficial the existing system may be,
and, however equitable the arrangements made under the _Mocurrery_
settlement have proved themselves, still the Company are not likely to
be benefitted in proportion to the assiduity they have displayed, or to
the tenderness with which the rights of their subjects have been

This, however, is to be said; that, according as the enterprize of
individuals may, by degrees, give additional value to the soil, by an
immense encrease of exportation, from various parts of the country, of a
million of commodities, which, until latterly, were either unknown, or
unheeded, so will the duties collected at the several _chokies_,
(custom-house stations,) and at the several ports, together with the
demand for British manufactures, be proportionally augmented.

It should be very generally made known, that the Company receive into
their treasury all the realized property of persons demising in India,
under letters of administration, or under the acts of executors, duly
acknowledged and certified by the supreme courts of justice at the
several presidencies. This effectually secures the interest persons in
Europe may have in the estates of friends, &c., dying in India: so
rigidly is this observed, that the relatives of any private soldier may
fully ascertain how his property, if any, has been disposed of, and
receive whatever sums may be forth-coming from the sale of his effects,

Such a measure fully guards the principal of any sum left in the
Company’s treasury; while, at the same time, the most pleasing facility
is given to individuals, to enable them, or their attornies, to receive
the interest, either at the presidency, or in the _moofussul_, (that is,
from the collectors,) according as may be convenient: but such can only
be done under a specific power of attorney.

The generality of traders, who resort to distant inland markets, near
which to reside, or who, in favorable situations, become conspicuous as
manufacturers, whether of indigo, cloth, sugar, &c., have invariably
some connection with one or more agency-houses at the presidency; on
these they draw their bills, generally for hypothecated cargoes, sent
from the manufactory, either to be sold by them, or to be shipped for
Europe. This, under a pure agency, is unexceptionable, provided the firm
rests on the broad basis of absolute property, and does not play with
the cash belonging to its less speculative constituents: such may be
said to be merely the bankers of those whose consignments they receive,
and pass on to this country without participating in the adventure; and
confining themselves to a stipulated per centage on the amounts of
invoices, according to the scale in common use.

Agency-houses are not confined to British subjects; the Portugueze, the
Armenians, the Greeks, and others, form a portion of several firms of
great respectability; or, at least, of those companies which, under
different designations, insure the greater part of those vessels, which
either sail from India to Europe direct, or that traverse the Indian
seas, according to the state of the monsoons; carrying on a lucrative
trade among the several Asiatic ports.

It must not be supposed, that persons devoting their whole attention to
the concern of others, in such a climate, where the expences are very
great, and from which it is an object with most adventurers, and
speculators, to retire with such a competency as should afford some
enjoyments during the decline of life, are to be remunerated in the same
manner as though they had merely to attend their counting-houses in
London for a very few hours daily. The Indian agent must keep a large
establishment of _sircars_, _podars_, &c., and must maintain extensive
connections in various parts of the country: nay, he is often expected
to have an apartment, or two, in his dwelling, devoted to the
accommodation of such of his country correspondents as may occasionally
visit the presidency.

Combining all these circumstances, it will be evident, that his charges
for commission must be such as, among us, would appear extravagantly
high. The same causes operate towards raising the expences of a suit in
the supreme court of judicature equally above those of the British
courts; though the latter are certainly full high enough!

The terms of receiving, or paying, money, in exchange with Europe,
China, or other parts, are completely arbitrary; being governed solely
by the value of money to any particular firm at the time of negociating:
I have known instances of some firms declining to offer more than two
shillings and sixpence for a sicca rupee, bills being given payable at
six months after sight in Europe, while others, whose stability appeared
equally solid, offered two shillings and nine-pence for the same

In point of commerce, Calcutta may, perhaps, be properly classed with
Bristol; making this allowance, that what the former wants in the number
of vessels employed, is made up by their average tonnage being
considerable, and the value of their cargoes far superior. The length of
the voyage must likewise be taken into consideration: a vessel may,
during times of profound peace, make three voyages within twelve months,
from Bristol to America, or the West Indies, and back again, and the
same either to the Baltic, or to the Levant; whereas, few Indiamen make
more than one return to their moorings in the Thames under fifteen
months; the majority are out from fifteen to twenty months.

Hence, all our British ports appear more crowded, taking the year round,
than Calcutta, which, from July to November, or even to January, often
presents a forest of masts; while, on the other hand, during the rest of
the year, only such vessels as may be under repair, or that have lost
their season, or that beat up the bay against the _monsoon_, are to be
seen in the river.

I have already explained, that, during half the year, that is, from
about the middle of March to the middle of September, the wind is
southerly, but then gradually changes to the northward, from which
quarter it blows regularly for about five months, when it again
gradually veers about to the southward. This gives name to the
‘northerly and southerly _monsoons_;’ which all navigators study to take
advantage of: the difference in going with, or against the _monsoon_,
from Calcutta to Madras, or _vice versâ_, often makes the difference of
full five or six weeks, sometimes more: the trip being very commonly
made in a week with the _monsoon_; but, against it, sometimes occupying
no less than three months!

Few ships make more than one trip between Malabar and China, within the
year, on account of the _monsoon_; but, between the intermediate ports
from Bombay to Calcutta, two trips may be considered the average. During
the wars with Hyder, and his son Tippoo, vessels have made four trips
within the year, from Bengal to Madras; but such must not be considered
a fair standard, three being considered a great exertion.

The town of Calcutta, which is estimated at a population of a hundred
thousand souls, whereof not more than one thousand are British, is
situated very advantageously for commerce. The Hoogly, which is
navigable for ships of a thousand tons, at least thirty-five miles above
Calcutta, communicates with the Ganges, by means of the Cossimbazar
river, and has communications with the whole of the Sunderbund Passages,
either through Tolley’s Canal, the creek called Chingrah Nullah, or the
southern passage, through Channel Creek, which is adopted by the greater
part of the vessels conveying rice and salt from the Soonderbunds: these
are of a very stout construction, suited to those wide expanses of water
they have to cross in that very hazardous line of navigation.

The average depth of water, within a stone’s throw of the eastern bank,
on which Calcutta ranges for several miles, (including the suburbs up to
the Maharrattah Ditch,) may be from six to eight fathoms when the tide
is out. At particular places, the water deepens very suddenly, but, in
most parts, a shelf, abounding with mud, runs out for sixty or seventy
yards, down to low water mark, where the bank falls off, so that ships
of any burthen may moor within a very few yards. The great front thus
given to the town, affords innumerable facilities to those concerned in
the shipping; especially as the custom-house, which is on the quay
belonging to the old fort, stands nearly centrical, in respect to the
European population.

The _donies_, which are small craft intended for the coasting trade
carried on principally by native merchants, commonly lie higher up,
opposite the Chitpore _m’hut_, or temple; there, in tiers, much the same
as the shipping in the Thames, these _pariah_ vessels present a contrast
with the superb edifices under British management, and at once
characterize not only the ignorance, but the narrow minds of their

Few _donies_ measure more than a hundred and fifty tons, or have more
than two masts; sloops are by far most common, and the generality are
equipped with _coir_ cordage, as well as with country-made canvas.

The greater portion of these vessels return either in ballast, after
delivering their cargoes of rice, at various ports in the Northern
Sircars, or perhaps in the Carnatic; or they import with light cargoes,
composed chiefly of _coir_ and _cowries_, from the Sechelles and
Maldivies; to which they likewise, now and then, make a bold voyage, at
favorable seasons, with small invoices of coarse cottons, fit for the
use of those islanders.

Here, and there, we see a _doney_ with some European on board to
navigate her; but, in general, only natives are employed; and the
Europe-ships, which arrive with crews from their respective country, are
often compelled to take a portion of lascars on board, for the purpose
of aiding those who survive the pestilential miasma, to which they are
so inconsiderately, or, more properly, inhumanly, subjected, while lying
at Diamond-Harbour, &c. Those who escape with their lives, are usually
much weakened by severe attacks of the ague, of which they rarely get
quit, until relieved by an alterative course of mercury, in conjunction
with the change of air experienced by getting out to sea.

I shall, for the present, take leave of my readers; observing, that I am
now preparing for the press a work intended to give a full, but compact,
‘DESCRIPTION OF INDIA IN GENERAL.’ In that work, it will be my study so
to combine and arrange the several important matters coming under
consideration, as to render the whole of whatever may relate to that
interesting quarter, fully intelligible, and equally familiar.




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   . . . . .  and Instructions for Cavalry, &c. 8vo.
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   Elucidation of ditto                                  0    7    0

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   Rifle Manual, with plates, 4to. bds.                  1    1    0

   Rules and Regulations for the Formation of His
     Majesty’s Infantry, 8vo. bds.                       0    6    0

   Ditto for the Sword Exercise, 8vo. bds.               0    7    0

   Russell’s Instruction for Drill, 18 Manæuvres, &c.
     8vo. bds.                                           0    7    6

   . . . . . Movements, &c. of Infantry, 8vo. bds.       0    7    6

   Smirke’s Review of a Battalion of Infantry, 8vo.      0    7    0

   Struensee’s Fortification, 8vo. bds.                  0    7    6


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                           Transcriber’s Note

At the top of p. 175, the line ‘Brought forward 170’ represents a
continuation of table begun on the previous page. That page break being
moot here, the line has been removed as redundant.

The following issues should be noted, along with the resolutions. There
are frequent characters, particularly punctuation, which were not
visible in the copy upon which this text is based. Where the missing
character is obvious, it has been restored, as noted.

Keeping in mind the vintage of the text, spelling has generally been
followed. Where obvious printer’s errors occur, they have been
corrected, as noted below.

The city ‘Allahabad’ is printed twice, incorrectly, as ‘Allahahad’ on p.
257 and p. 327. It appears correctly elsewhere. These two instances have
been corrected.

  p. vi      brackis[h] waters                        Restored.

  p. 11      regularl[y]                              Restored.

  p. 13      compet[it]ing                            Corrected.

  p. 14      harder kinds of _gutty_[;]               Restored. (Most

  p. 15      in with sufficient[missing word?] to     _Sic._

  p. 42      wo[o]llen                                Added.

  p. 47      as large as a quartern l[ao/oa]f         Transposed.

  p. 93      rem[ar]kably sweet                       Restored.

  p. 202     The enig[n/m]a                           Corrected.

  p. 218     th[er/re]e                               Transposed.

  p. 239     is [c]onfined to the care                Restored.

  p. 243     Moorshada[ba]bad                         Redundant.

  p. 257     Allaha[h/b]ad                            Corrected.

  p. 261     either o[n] account of                   Restored.

  p. 263     c[o/a]ntonments                          Corrected.

  p. 272     ordinar[il]y                             Added.

  p. 277     atmosphere[;] while                      Restored.

  p. 288     succombed                                _Sic._

  p. 328     Allaha[h/b]ad                            Corrected.

  p. 333     less expence tha[t/n] twenty-five rupees Corrected.

  p. 358     lie to the wes[t]ward of Saugur          Added.

  p. 385     notwithstandi[n]g                        Added.

             [a/i]t will be proper                    Corrected.

  p. 395     ea[r]gerness                             Removed.

  p. 405     ascertain[in]g                           Added.

             [s]hould be placed                       Restored.

  p. 412     _sine [qûa/quâ] non_                     Corrected.

  p. 415     Colonel Richar[sd/ds]on                  Transposed.

  p. 420     encomiu[n/m]                             Corrected.

  p. 461     the Company’s [stalions]                 _Sic._

  p. 468     sad[d]lers                               Added.

  p. 484     pursuant to the [desicion/decision]      Corrected.

  p. 496     Hyd[e]rabad                              Added.

  p. 505     but, in [in ]general,                    Line break

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